Learning more about Irish history would make British people “more intelligent”, playwright Bonnie Greer has said.
Born in the United States, Ms Greer has lived in Britain for decades and has at times criticised the attitudes of people in her adopted homeland towards Ireland.
In 2019, Ms Greer said, “[The] people of the United Kingdom don't seem to have a lot of understanding about Ireland."
Ms Greer is a naturalised British citizen and has recently set out to educate herself about Ireland’s history.
“I want to be educated and I didn’t know anything about the Civil War,” she told The Hard Shoulder.
Although Churchill is most remembered for his time as British Prime Minister during the Second World War, he had had a long Cabinet career before that.
During the War of Independence he served as Secretary of State for War and during the Civil War he provided the Pro-Treaty Government with British ammunition.
His role came as something of a surprise to Ms Greer.
“That was interesting to me because I thought to myself, ‘Would that have affected the Irish Government at the beginning of World War Two in relation to their stand on the war?’” she said.
Ms Greer described Irish history as “integral to the story of the United Kingdom” and said Britons who do not know much about it are missing out.
“I looked at that and I thought, ‘This ought to be taught, I don’t understand why people in the UK don’t know Irish history because it’s so interconnected with British history,’” she said.
“That’s what struck me and so I tweeted about it.”
On the question of whether school children might feel uncomfortable learning about Britain's role in Irish history, Ms Greer said that is the nature of the subject.
“This is history,” she said.
“It is something that should be taught; there are horrible stories about the United States for heaven’s sake.
“But it should all be taught and I think young people then get chance, for instance, [to see] why Ireland has taken the stance that it has in relation to the EU and the United Kingdom itself.
“It just makes you more intelligent and a better citizen when you understand the links between the United Kingdom and Ireland.”
The module ‘Britain and Ireland 1791—1921’ is one option schools can teach to A Level history students but it is not compulsory.
Main image: Split of the GPO and Bonnie Greer