Forgetting the Civil War: one hundred years of silence-breaking

Wednesday 26 April at 8.15pm in Lough Ree Yacht Club

Talk by Dr Síobhra Aiken

William English Memorial Lecture: 2023

Summary In this presentation, Síobhra Aiken will reflect on the codes of silence surrounding the Irish Civil War. She will consider the many overlooked civil war testimonies that were published in the 1920s and 1930s, and consider how later generations are also pushing against the silences of the civil war to the present day. This wealth of published testimony reveals that the silence of the Irish Civil War was not necessarily a result of revolutionaries’ inability to speak, but rather reflects the unwillingness of official memory makers to listen to the stories of civil war veterans. Included in the talk will be a figure named Anthony O’Connor, whose novel He’s Somewhere in There provides a fictionalised version of his activities during the Irish Civil War.

A scene from the Civil War in Athlone:
the destruction of Athlone Waterworks by the anti-Treaty IRA in February 1923
(National Library of Ireland)

Speaker Síobhra Aiken is a lecturer in the Department of Irish and Celtic Studies at Queen’s University Belfast and has published widely on the social and cultural history of twentieth-century Ireland. A former Fulbright Scholar, her publications include the monograph Spiritual Wounds: Trauma, Testimony and the Irish Civil War (Irish Academic Press, 2022) and the edited volumes The Men Will Talk to Me: Ernie O’Malley’s Interviews with the Northern Divisions (Merrion Press, 2018) and An Chuid Eile Díom Féin: Aistí le Máirtín Ó Direáin (Cló Iar-Chonnacht, 2018). Her current research project, funded by the Royal Irish Academy, considers multilingual responses to Ireland’s revolutionary period.

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