Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tear Down The Past

Back in the days of the Easter Rising and the subsequent civil war in Ireland, the IRA was a radically different organization than it is today. No Marxist-Leninist socialism, the Irish Republican Army in 1921 was more similar to a loosely organized band of partisans with guns and a mind to get England completely out of Ireland.

When England offered a peace treaty, giving up twenty-six counties and keeping six, some jumped at the chance. Men like Michael Collins, Sean MacEoin and Arthur Griffith, who founded Sinn Fein, were in favor of the treaty. Many were against it, foreseeing the tragic results that played out in the form of The Troubles many years later.

Sean MacEoin fought for Irish freedom, leading a flying column in County Longford and making his name during the Battle of Ballinalee. He set up headquarters in Rose Cottage, just as George Washington and U.S. Grant used area homes for their central operations during America's rebellion and civil war. But would anyone ever suggest that Appomatox Courthouse be torn down, to make way for new homes?

Midland Housing Development would like to rip down General MacEoin's former headquarters and put up ten single-story houses in its place. It's an old, shabby building, they must think, and what's the point of saving something like that? Ireland is thriving, there's money everywhere, and the people want new and shiny and fresh and modern. That old shite? Who has any use for it?

The Longford Historical Society is against the demolition, and has asked the Longford County Council to issue an order to preserve the cottage. Will the Council really care about the historical significance of Rose Cottage? After all, it's Fianna Fail that's in the majority in government, and Sean MacEoin was Fine Gael. And who wants to be reminded about the Treaty and all that happened because of it? Who wants to preserve their history when there's money to be made on a new housing development? Who indeed? Let's hope the Longford County Council has a sense of what is more important in the long run, knowing that ten houses could be put up on some other parcel of ground that has no connection to a history worth preserving.

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