Loyalist Collective Memory, Perspectives of the Somme and Divided History

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

In Ireland, collective and political memories are subject to competing understandings and interpretations that often lead to directly opposing readings of historical events. The past is claimed to be the discrete property of one group to the exclusion of the other, following continuous struggle between competing assertions and accusations, the outcome of which often functions to ratify interpretations and opinions in the present. Historical events and their representation assume huge contemporary political importance, as memories are reformed and reconstructed to meet current political concerns. These are restated and represented, then communicated widely through set pieces of commemoration and memorialisation.

Northern Ireland is far from alone in having a culture of commemoration and remembrance, although its disputed and contentious nature may be more obvious than many others. This chapter examines the ways in which Ulster loyalism uses collective memories to reproduce distinct senses of Self and community, which rest on an unfailing strength of common identity, underpinned by a shared sense of history. Such collective memories are concerned with the narratives of history that are distinct and steeped with meaning. These continue to function in the present by drawing on and highlighting a distinctive past, which at times overlap with others but often contradicts ‘official’ memories of the State. In protracted conflicts such as Northern Ireland collective memory raises particular challenges, as layers of meaning become embedded and entrenched over time, demanding ←95 | 96→particular interpretations and understandings of history as memory, which provides a continuity of meaning across...
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNorthern Ireland after the Good Friday Agreement
Subtitle of host publicationBuilding a shared future from a troubled past?
EditorsLesley Lelourec, Grainne O'Keeffe-Vigneron
PublisherVerlag Peter Lang AG
Pages95-113
Number of pages19
Volume99
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9781789977516, 9781789977523 , 9781789977530
ISBN (Print)9781789977462
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2021

Publication series

NameReimagining Ireland
PublisherVerlag Peter Lang AG
Volume99
ISSN (Print)1662-9094

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