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We should not sanitise the Great War but recognise the truth

Your November 8 editorial speaks of the “honourable contribution” that Britain’s Great War Irish soldiers made to the world, and of the “dishonesty” of the Irish view of that war which, you say, caused us to “dishonour” the memory of those Irish soldiers.

It is right that we should remember this disgusting and atrocious war whose consequences still persist, having produced not a mere four years of carnage but a whole century of it.

We should remember the whole truth, not some selective, sanitised, partial version which promotes such “honourable contributions” in our own era. The outcome would probably have been the same if all Irish volunteer soldiers had kept out of it.

The most important Irish contribution to the British war effort was not our soldiers, but the war propaganda written by prominent Home Rule activists such as Tom Kettle, whose articles in the British press created an insane war fever, which even the deaths of millions could not extinguish and whose embers still glow in the Poppy Remembrance cult which your editorial praises.

We should remember another notable Irishman of Home Rule persuasion. This was Charles James O’Donnell who, in his 1920s book The Lordship of the World, definitively refuted the war propaganda produced by the likes of Kettle.

O’Donnell made a significant “contribution to the world”. Why is he neglected and forgotten?

Pat Maloney


Labour Comment

Roman Street

Cork City


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