Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

How Irish America alone understood the true impact of the 1916 Rising

“For Irish America, Easter 1916 fell into a coherent timeline of defence and physical force, a continuum that began with the Dissenter Irish who fought with Washington for independence and establishing the first democracy.

Then there was the gallant Irish role in the American Civil War: 250,000 or so Irish fought on the Union side to end slavery and partition and were so effective that the Confederate leader Jefferson Davis personally sent an Irish priest and Rebel hero Father John Bannon, to Ireland to try and convince the clergy to stop emigration.

The Irish Americans always believed a fight for Ireland would come again soon – and it did.

To Devoy and millions of Irish Americans, the men and women of 1916 were freedom’s sons and daughters as surely as the Americans at Lexington and Concord and the Irish Union soldiers at Gettysburg were. They remain the same today. ‘Gentlemen you have a country” Thomas Davis said to an earlier generation of insurgents.’

Not until 1916 did that come true.”

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Languages do matter!


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