Journal Article

Remembering War in the Midst of Conflict: First World War Commemorations in the Northern Irish Troubles

Helen Robinson

in Twentieth Century British History

Volume 21, issue 1, pages 80-101
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 0955-2359
Published online December 2009 | e-ISSN: 1477-4674 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/hwp047
Remembering War in the Midst of Conflict: First World War Commemorations in the Northern Irish Troubles

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In Northern Ireland, commemorations of the world wars have tended to be associated with the Protestant and unionist community, with Catholics often alienated or choosing not to be involved. Following the outbreak of the Troubles, these associations were often reinforced, particularly in the case of the Somme anniversary. This commemoration became increasingly rowdy and loyalist and much less clearly linked with war remembrance. Meanwhile, Remembrance Sunday came to be used for a range of purposes including peace advocacy and the remembrance of those killed in the contemporary conflict. The day had few of the sectarian connotations of the Somme anniversary, but was sometimes used by Protestant paramilitaries or opposed by nationalists, most notably in the Remembrance Sunday bombing of 1987. The forms of conventional war commemoration were also adopted for new ceremonies in remembrance of the Troubles dead. The history of war commemorations in Troubles-era Northern Ireland shows the power of commemorative forms, but primarily suggests that commemoration and other rituals may be less about the events which they ostensibly remember than contemporary concerns.

Journal Article.  9441 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Contemporary History (Post 1945) ; British History

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