The Irish Catholic Church should follow Pope Francis’ example and apologize for his treatment of Irish Republicans during the Civil War, as the Pope had done with regard to events in his own native Argentina, a historian told General Liam Lynch’s annual commemoration in the north. Cork.
Author Dr Tim Horgan told the annual gathering at General Liam Lynch’s grave in Kilcrumper Cemetery outside Fermoy that the bishops of Ireland put politics above Christianity in 1922 by excommunicating those who fought for a republic during the Irish Civil War.
“The sacraments were denied, men were denied Christian burials, no confessions, no communion, no condemnation of torture or concentration camps, no priestly comforts on the way to the platoon wall. execution ; it is a historical fact that these excommunications were never revoked even after the fighting ended,” he said.
“In contrast, the current Pope Francis, more than 20 years ago, apologized for the role of the Argentine Church in his country’s civil war in the 1970s, saying: ‘We want to confess before God all we have done wrong’, and for how the Church ‘turned a blind eye’ to state killing and torture.
“Is it asking too much of our bishops to issue similar apologies for the shameful role our Church hierarchy willfully played in the terrible events of a century ago. Now that the State has demonstrated in recent years that it no longer needs our Church, it should have become a little easier to speak words of contrition.
The author of several historical books, including Dying for the Cause: Kerry’s Republican Dead, Dr. Horgan said he held Lynch’s idealism in high regard from an early age, as his maternal grandmother, Madge Clifford, had been Lynch’s secretary from November 1922 until his death in the Knockmealdown Mountains at the hands of Free State forces in April 1923.
“Few today will have spoken to someone who knew Lynch so well, but to me as a young lad she would say Collins was good but, in the end, he let us down. However, Liam was loyal to the cause to the end,” Dr Horgan said, revealing that his grandmother was “a veteran of 1916, the Tan War and the Four Courts Garrison” during the Civil War before becoming secretary of Lynch.
Speaking to more than 100 people, Dr Horgan said it was obvious there were two types of history in Ireland, one which “borders on fiction and was quickly shunned by the ruling class. .. to justify the illegal and reprehensible actions by which they achieved and maintained power”.
“It’s a story of half-truths and accepted by a self-proclaimed hardcore intelligentsia. It finds its way into the media and willing classrooms. It dictates who should be commemorated and who shouldn’t, who should be commemorated and who should not be.
“In this story, only two heroes are allowed to play the main roles, Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera. He dictates that it was Collins and de Valera who, between them, drove the British out of Ireland, with Ireland now being redefined as a state and not a nation.
‘What they won’t tell you is that de Valera never fired at the enemies of Ireland and the only shot poor Collins did was at the Republicans in West Cork’ , said Dr Horgan, an ophthalmologist, as he lamented how heroes such as Cathal Brugha and Harry Boland had both been forgotten this year, the centenary of their deaths in the Civil War.
But, he said, there was another story found beyond the halls of power and the halls of academia and dear to the hearts of ordinary people, and it was “a tale of selfless patriotism, not selfish politics. …a story inspired by principle, not by position, not by profit, not by convenient pragmatism”.
“It is a story of injustices committed and betrayals perpetrated, a story of dashed hopes, but above all it is the story of a people who refused to submit; it is this story that has brought you here today, it is a story that is not taught in schools, but a story between those who are proud to proclaim what the so-called “righteous” and “ripe” are now too embarrassed to remember.
“He tells us that while Collins held court in the pubs of Dublin and de Valera was at home in the hotels of America, Liam Lynch fought through thick and thin in the ditches and alleys of North Cork : cold, wet and hungry, he led his men and his men followed him.
Dr Horgan said it was now fashionable to state that one side was just as bad as the other in the Civil War, but he dismissed such an assessment of “this terrible conflict” as he believed that there was a huge difference between the pro-Treaty side and those who stood for a republic.
“Let it be said that there was a difference between those who fought for a proud and unbroken nation and those who fought for a newly established state subject to the British Empire – there was a difference between those who had sworn an oath to the Republic and those who had sworn allegiance to a foreign king.
“There was a difference between those who fought for the Republic and those who sought to destroy it. There was a difference between prisoners who were attached to a mine at Ballysedy and those who blew it up. There was a difference between those who faced the firing squad and those who fired the deadly volley.
“There was a difference between those teenage prisoners found thrown into the ditches of Dublin and those who put British-supplied bullets in their heads. There was a difference between those who were tortured and their executioners. There was a difference between the laws of God and the edicts of bishops. There was a good side and a bad side in the civil war.
“You gather here today because you are proud to declare which was the good side and which was the bad, proud to remember what others would forget, what others would like you to forget, proud to remember of Liam Lynch and those who fought alongside him, those of your people, who sought neither reward nor fame, but only the freedom of Ireland.