In Conversation With … Philip Orr

On Tuesday 9 March, historian Philip Orr looked at "Forward Towards History". The next few years will see a number of centenaries being celebrated by the Unionist community, such as the signing of the Covenant, the founding of the UVF and the Larne gun-running. How are the churches going to approach these anniversaries? How are they to react to criticisms of the church's role in supporting militant Unionism 100 years ago, and how do they perceive current plans by Loyalism to celebrate this era in Ulster's disputed history?

The Ancestors

There is a chilling novel entitled Disgrace, written by J.M. Coetzee (Coetzee JM, Disgrace, Penguin Books, 1999), which is set in post-apartheid South Africa. The book centres on David Lurie, a white one time professor of literature whose life has, for a variety of reasons, undergone significant disruption. He has gone to live with his daughter, who was living alone while running a small-holding in the country. In the story a group of black South Africans attacked both of them, seriously injuring him and raping her. In a subsequent conversation with her father, the daughter said the following Continue reading

The Centenaries Cluster

The decade from 1912 to 1922 contains many centenaries incluing the the anniversaries of the Home Rule Bill and the Solemn Oath and Covenant in 1912, the formation of the Ulster Volunteers and Irish Volunteers in 1913-14, the battles of the Great War and the Easter Rising and from 1920 onwards, the formation of Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State, including the creation of new police forces and judiciaries. The post-war period also included the War of Independence, the Irish Civil War and a great deal of violent unrest in Belfast and surrounding areas. Among other significant events in this period are the growth of the Labour movement and the camaign for female emancipation.   The Centenaries Cluster is an informal network of people from different backgrounds across denominations and community work sectors. We have been discussing ways in which we might work in various sectors of our society to commemorate these contested parts of our history, to build capacity within and across communities to deal confidently and honestly with the past, in such a way as to contribute constructively to a peaceful future in both parts of Ireland. It’s still early days, but fascinating, encouraging and creative projects seem to be taking shape. If you’re interested to know more, please contact us at More Centenaries Cluster discussions are coming soon, please check back regularly!