Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

21.03 24 Feb 2021


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President Michael D Higgins says it's time to listen to 'different versions' of Irish history.

The President is currently holding a series of seminars called Machnamh 100 - Machnamh referring to an ancient Irish concept around "reflection, contemplation, meditation and thought".

After a first seminar last year, a second event tomorrow will look at the idea of imperialism, in particular attitudes to the British Empire in Ireland.

Professor John Horne will lead tomorrow's event, with responses from President Higgins and several academics based in both the UK and Ireland.

Speaking to Moncrieff, President Higgins says throughout his presidency he's already held events looking back at key moments in history such as the Dublin lock-out of 1913 and the First World War.

President Higgins on why we need to listen to 'different versions' of Irish history

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In terms of the current series, he explained: “The whole purpose of it is to respond to the fact we’re in a decade of commemoration, and how are we to do that and how best might we do it?

“How do we do it in a way in which we have taken positive steps towards being able to listen to each other, and particularly listen to different versions of events that were shared?”

History is often taught in terms of 'good guys and bad guys' - but President Higgins said such binaries aren't sufficient.

He said: “Binaries are simplifications of what is very complex.

“We’ve had new historians, revised historians and deeper historians… and as well as that the archives are becoming available. I’m trying to incorporate those new insights into the way we might do it differently."

He pointed to examples such as people who joined the Royal Irish Constabulary in hopes of educational and housing advantages, but how their relationship to the community changed when the forces were "augmented" by the Auxiliaries and the Black & Tans.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, tomorrow's Machnamh event is being held online.

However, President Higgins says he hopes live audiences will be able to take part in the seminars planned for later in the year.

You can find out more about Machnamh 100 on the Áras an Uachtaráin website.

Main image: File photo of President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

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