Ireland in the Decade of the Great War, 1912 -1923: Towards Commemoration Conference 6,

Session 6: Memories
Chair: Prof Nicholas Allen (NUI Galway)
Jay Winter, Yale University
Language and remembrance in the period of the Great War: Britain, France, Ireland

Language mediates memory, a point which we have yet to integrate into our understanding of the cultural history of the period of the Great War. Attention to linguistic and rhetorical forms can help us distinguish national patterns of remembrance. My claim is first: that remembering the Great War in Britain has entailed speech acts of a different kind and character from those attending remembrance in France, and secondly, that Irish rhetoric (in English) is somewhere between the two. I bow to the distinctiveness of Gaelic, the music of which I leave to those graced with its melodies, and attend solely and diffidently to some English-language patterns in the Irish case.

Prof Keith Jeffery (Queen’s University Belfast)
Great War memory and commemoration in Ireland

This paper explored the ways in which the First World War has been “remembered” and commemorated in Ireland, and investigated the apparent paradox that the intensity of this commemoration has increased over recent years, as the events concerned have themselves receded. The paper also discussed why this appears to have been particularly so in independent Ireland and assessed the extent to which Great War commemoration in Northern Ireland might transcend community divisions. It also reflected on the appropriateness of matching the Somme with the Easter Rising as equivalent moments of meaning in the commemorative endeavour.


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