GOD SAVE IRELAND by Patricia Bunning Stevens


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Where Clifford Lindsey Alderman failed to do justice to the ideas and spirit of the poet-politicians who initiated the Easter Rising (see The Wearing of the Green, KR, 1972), Patricia Bunning Stevens, in her first book, tries to explain the whole bloody business from Cromwell to Bogside. Surprisingly, she does quite well, capturing amid the tortuous events the quixotic idealism of the leaders, the tendency for public support to coalesce around martyrs, the factional splits that led to as much deep bitterness as that caused by hatred of the British. Stevens is particularly good on the period of the Civil War, detailing the reasoning which led Griffith and Collins to accept the treaty offered by the English and the position of the Republicans, which grew from resistance to the loyalty oath as much as to the potential loss of Ulster. As for the present, Stevens outlines the tragic political bungling which turned the British troops from possible protectors into an army of occupation detested by Catholics and suspected by Protestants. Differences in temperament and philosophy among the Irish leadership are sketched though not explored at any length, and, unfortunately, the compressed, journalistic treatment leaves little room for elaborating on the movement's roots in poetry and literature. On the whole, this is an excellent, fair-minded, one-volume account, sympathetic to the cause of Irish nationalism but never blinded by its romanticism.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 1974
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: Macmillan