2016: an invigorating walk up and around Cumnor Hill ( Oxfordshire) was so energising that when I got back I poured myself a glass of champagne, added some orange juice and sat down at my newly decluttered desk to watch again Tom Hiddleston play Henry V (Harry) in the BBC’s marvellous Hollow Crown series. Meanwhile,in Dublin, the first shots in the 1916 Easter Rising are being remembered on Irish television. Within a few days, the ring leaders would be shot and their coffinless bodies buried in lime.
Would that Harry had been on the rebels’ side in 1916: they might then not have been executed with such haste: “Use them with mercy” Henry V instructed his soldiers of the citizens of Harfleur after he had taken the port by force. Though that compassion may have been Shakespeare’s and not that of the real Henry V.
Today of all days
No one wishes to stifle individual creativity but some things are sacred so Elizabeth, aged 6, is told no, you can’t colour Ireland’s flag purple. Well, you just can’t. Well, because it’s green, white and orange for a reason.
Oxford. February 12 2016
Last night, the Irish ambassador to Great Britain, Daniel Mulhall, spoke at a gathering to mark the Bodleian’s exhibition entitled Easter Rising 1916.
It was an interesting speech in which he highlighted a few points:
The age of the leaders of the Rising tended to be much younger than people like Parnellite John Redmond of the Irish Parliamentary Party who was 62 in 1916 while people like Pearse were 37 and Eamonn Ceannt 25.
He felt the Rising could not have taken place were it not for the fact that WW1 was already happening. And following on from that, he quoted a German commentator (I missed the name) who was of the opinion that had Britain not been so distracted by Irish affairs in 1914, there was a chance that she and Germany might have entered into talks that could have averted the war. (I’m not convinced of that.)
He later touched on the legacy for Ireland of 1916 one of which was the stability that followed it all and gave as an example: William Cosgrave held the post of Taoiseach for 10 years. De Valera was President for 21 years.
( I relate this to the Good Friday Agreement which resulted in a form of power-sharing which is still in place eighteen years on, though Jonathan Powell makes the point, in his book Talking to Terrorists, that power sharing has it downsides: “You can’t get rid of the bastards,” as one person said.)
At the end of his very positive talk, the ambassador pressed the little red button on his desk and up came on the wall screen information on the Bodleian’s very new Easter Rising 1916 Web Archive. Try it: http://www.webarchive.org.uk/easter¬_rising/bodleian.html
There was a big crowd at this excellent event and the icing on the cherry was that the ambassador’s talk was followed by a glass or three of wine.
Congratulations to the Bodleian for continuing to be such a generous host and to its ongoing contribution to research into 1916.
You can read Daniel Mulhall’s speech when it goes up, in a few days, on the Irish Embassy website http://www.embassyofireland.co.uk