Confronting the Irish Past

Confronting the Irish Past

The 1912-1923 Decade in Light of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement

Edited by Séamus Murphy

Building peace in Northern Ireland today, which involves Ireland as a whole, requires confronting the violence and intolerance of Ireland’s 1912–1923 decade.

Hardback, 300 Pages


September 2024

£80.00, $110.00

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About This Book

Hannah Arendt, Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, argued that some parts of history need not just to be understood but to be confronted as well. The 1998 Belfast or Good Friday Agreement between the two communities (nationalist and unionist) in Northern Ireland arranged power-sharing structures of governance between them. The Agreement was underwritten by the British and Irish governments. The signatories of the Agreement knew that its success required a cultural shift or conversion in each community.

To that end, the decisive and violent decade of recent Irish history, 1912–1923, needs to be confronted. In that decade, there were several conflicts: between Protestant unionists and Catholic nationalists, between nationalist insurrection and British forces, and between two nationalist groups. At the end of the decade, the country was partitioned: the south had become an independent dominion within the British Commonwealth, while the north continued as part of the United Kingdom.

The division was bitter and violent, with each community (nationalist and unionist) effectively rejecting the right of the other to exist. That remained unchanged until the violence in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. While the vast majority on both sides want peace and mutual recognition, the traditional construction of each community’s historical memories obstruct that. The goal of the book is to analyse the different elements required for each community in how to confront that history in the interests of affirming identity, giving recognition to the other community and building a shared political community.


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Author Information

Séamus Murphy is professor of philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. He writes on philosophy and public policy. He is a Jesuit.


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