Bishop Colton: Some Cork protestants anticipate Civil War commemorations with dread

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork has said some members of his community anticipate commemorations of the War of Independence and the Civil War ‘fearfully and with a certain dread.’, writes Grainne McGuinness

Bishop Paul Colton said: “The coming centenary years call for careful thought and even more careful and sensitive commemoration.”

He was speaking at the official opening of ‘The Sam Maguire Community Bells’ in St Mary’s Church, Dunmanway on Saturday. The sportsman is buried in the churchyard and the community is installing a set of eight bells in the church in his honour.

“Here we are 90 years after the death of Sam Maguire, and, in not too many years, 100 years after those ‘troubled times’ we will be commemorating through the lens of what we are now, and of what our country has become,” Bishop Colton said.

“Among some in our Church of Ireland community the commemorations are anticipated fearfully and with a certain dread.

“The moods, motivations and complexity of emotions of that period cannot be extrapolated from statistical analysis of deaths alone. Statistics do not tell people’s human stories as they are remembered.

“There is an understandable reluctance to name anything in our past as sectarian or under desirable, but we are not well served by pretence either. We know war is cruel, divisive and ugly.

“We know that Cork was a most violent place in those years. War scars landscapes and humanity itself. At a century’s remove, we live even now with its outcomes and legacy.”

The Bishop referenced the controversy that surrounded Canon George Salter’s description of his family’s treatment at the time. The cleric said his family were forced to leave their farm in 1922, following threats from the IRA.

Bishop Colton suggested that reconciliation should be the focus of the commemorations. “Memories are still raw. Let us be under no illusions about the huge significance of what the Rev Cliff Jeffers and this community here in Dunmanway have put in place; what are we are opening today. In a prophetic way, from within this place, they have put down a marker of what the character of the coming centenary commemorations should be - reconciliation.”

This story first appeared in the The Evening Echo

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