Our past is almost a breathing presence; it almost has a heartbeat echoing in empathy with every step we take. That past, as controversy after controversy shows, can be hotly-contested ground. It is almost as if we reflect today’s ever-more diverse Ireland by expressing diverse opinions about our past.
This week, as we mark the 50th anniversary of the scandal that led to the Arms Trial, is a perfect example of that. Beliefs, often biased, are advanced as facts and certainty remains, well, uncertain.
A project in West Cork will make a huge contribution to an accurate recording of our history. The burial records of 15,000 people have been put online. Skibbereen Heritage Centre has digitised records of burials from the late 19th century up a decade ago. They include county council graveyards from Ardfield near Clonakilty to Allihies on the Beara Peninsula in the west.
This will help those with roots in the region add to their family tree - and they can do that from afar, if, like so many West Cork people, they live elsewhere.