Wednesday, September 06, 2017


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The REVOLUTION PAPERS is a novel way of covering the revolutionary period 1916 to 1923. Each weekly issue consists of a cover page (4 sides in colour) which gives some background to the events covered in the actual newspaper reproductions contained in that issue.

The original idea was limited to the revolutionary period but it proved so popular that it was extended to cover the period up to the declaration of the Irish Republic and the coming into force of the Republic of Ireland Act (1948) on 18 April 1949.. And we're nearly there.

My initial interest was in their treatment of the cartoons of Gordon Brewster, but over time this extended beyond the cartoons to the subject matter itself.

One of the recent issues dealt with D-Day. Now, it's not so much that I have a passionate interest in D-Day itself, but it was my birth month and I thought to see just what was going on in the wider world that I popped into. There is no substitute for the intimate feeling you get reading contemporary newspaper accounts of past events.

I'm not going to bore you with D-Day stories and tales of the subsequent advance but I thought I'd just mention a few of the little things that caught my eye in the various newspapers supplied with the D-Day issue.

Evening Herald, front page, 6 June 1944

Apart from the main thrust of the D-Day advance on the beaches of Normandy, there was the little matter of the Channel Islands, the only part of the "British Isles" occupied by the Nazis during the war.

The islands had been abandoned by the British Government at the outbreak of the war and in 1940 when the Nazis arrived they turned them into one huge fortress.

The islands' occupation was a major PR coup for the Nazis and they were sure the British would be back. So they constructed massive fortifications using forced labour, mainly Russian and other POWs, who they worked to death, literally.

The liberation of the islands is celebrated to this day, some years more controversially than others.

Evening Herald, page 2, 6 June 1944

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, cousin Peggy's prestigious school of dancing had closed, following her death in 1939, and the action had moved from Adelaide Road to Capel Street.

While allied troops fought a bloody advance, neutral Ireland danced on into the night.

Evening Herald, page 3, 6 June 1944

Or maybe drank the odd non-bona-fide pint or two.

Irish Press, page 2, 8 June 1944

Back in them days we still had a tuiseal tabharthach and the cló gaelach (old version). There weren't too many of these type-fonts in the city of Dublin, but they were the real thing as any fíor-ghaeilgeóir will tell you.

The fiftieth anniversary of Conradh na Gaeilge saw the establishment of Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, which was to become the Irish language umbrella organisation for many years but which has now been wound up.

The above extract also refers to the difficulty of getting people to participate in the ordinary, as opposed to high profile special, activities of the Conradh.

Irish Times, front page, 13 June 1944

It just never goes away. The victors are still at it, obliterating all trace of the vanquished. I hadn't been aware of this one, but I can report that the statue of Thomas Davis in the rotunda of City Hall is a fine piece of work and has settled in nicely with its companions.

Irish Independent, front page, 28 June 1944

And there I was, in 40 Upper Fitzwilliam Street, waiting to pop out, in the footsteps, so to speak, of the matricide Edward Preston Ball, when Cian Ó hÉigeartaigh beat me to it by a day or two out in Otharlainn Laighean, wherever that was.

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