Historian Alan McCarthy has a brand new e-book out – Newspapers and Journalism in Cork, 1910-23: Press, Politics and Revolution – and the Charleville native and UCC graduate he tells us what drew him to the topic.
However the outdated ‘births, marriages and deaths’ sections, all of life is contained in newspapers and this was definitely true of the press in Cork from 1910 as much as and after the Irish Civil Conflict.
I’ve at all times been within the media and as an undergraduate I grew to become fascinated by the observe of censorship and suppression throughout the Conflict of Independence and wished to discover it additional.
In my postgraduate analysis below Dr Donal Ó Drisceoil’s supervision I examined totally different elements of all newspapers in Cork presently.
These papers represented a extremely numerous vary of opinions, from the Cork Examiner or the Skibbereen Eagle which was famously alleged to maintain a ‘watchful eye on the Czar of Russia.’
Radical newspapers that have been printed for short-periods included Terence MacSwiney’s Fianna Fáil or An Lengthy (The Ship), a paper produced by younger anti-Treaty writers like Seán O’Faolain and Frank O’Connor previous to the Civil Conflict.
Furthermore, I wished to inform the tales behind the individuals who produced the information, whether or not they have been editors, reporters, printers or the ‘Echo boys’.
Newspapers cowl an entire host of numerous matters and that is mirrored within the e-book, so whereas there’s loads of political and revolutionary historical past, like how the Cork papers coated the escalating violence throughout the Conflict of Independence, for instance, you’ll additionally discover references to cartoons, commercials and sports activities.
Particularly, I used to be eager about exploring the thought of sport as what I name a ‘social signifier’ and the extent to which sporting participation mirrored political orientation, which wasn’t at all times as black and white as we would assume.
For instance, Cork Structure RFC was set-up by employees members of the unionist newspaper of the identical identify.
Having opened up its membership to males not connected to the newspaper we would assume that it will have continued to be of a unionist orientation, which was true to a sure extent, but the membership’s captain from 1921 to 1923, Patrick McGrath, was truly a member of the IRA throughout the Conflict of Independence.
On the opposite facet of the political divide, one of many membership’s former gamers was Cornelius Crean, a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary who was assassinated by the IRA in April 1920 (at Ballinaspittle).
Crean was the brother of Arctic explorer Tom Crean.
Alongside the twists and turns I discovered in my analysis, one thing that readers is likely to be stunned to know is that regardless of being a e-book about Cork, my analysis introduced me laptop-in-hand to archives throughout Eire and southern England.
Alongside spending many an hour trawling by paperwork within the Nationwide Library of Eire and Nationwide Archives of Eire, I additionally launched into analysis journeys to Belfast, London, Oxford and maybe, most peculiarly, the city of Chippenham in south-west England which is dwelling to the Swindon & Wiltshire Historical past Centre.
Walter Hume Lengthy, a local of Wiltshire, beforehand served as Chief Secretary for Eire and corresponded with people from Cork in his retirement, together with H.F. Tivy of the Cork Structure, with the letters now preserved in Chippenham.
I’m at all times so fascinated by the nuggets of historic data that may be buried away in random locations.
Typically, in fact, these nuggets could be proper in entrance of us. The final paper that I grew to become conscious of and researched for the e-book was truly printed in my hometown of Charleville in North Cork.
In 1917, the employees of the Weekly Observer in Newcastle-West, Co. Limerick, started producing Irish Notes & Industrial Information, later re-naming it the Southern Democrat.
Though printed in Limerick, the paper said it was printed in Charleville and coated the North Cork/South Limerick area. Though long-overlooked, it’s an enchanting and actually distinctive paper that I used to be delighted to have the ability to showcase.
I felt a extremely shut connection to so lots of the tales that emerged from my analysis. As a scholar I lived on Connaught Avenue for a few years, close to the Boer Conflict monument to Cork troopers who died combating within the British military in South Africa on the flip of the century.
The memorial, as such, is likely one of the final what we would name loyal or imperial monuments left within the metropolis. Within the aftermath of the final election leads to December 1918 republicans tried to blow it up with the harm nonetheless seen at the moment.
The braveness of those journalists, no matter what political orientation they aligned with, in expressing their views throughout such a risky time in Irish historical past is one thing that basically spoke to me and their bravery is a standard thread all through the e-book, which in some ways is the Irish Revolution by the eyes of the individuals who witnessed it first-hand providing instinctive reactions with out the good thing about historic hindsight.
Maybe one lesson for at the moment is that range of opinion and native voices are a very good factor.
I’ve spoken about it earlier than and repeat myself once more, however in an age of social media it’s straightforward to get trapped in an echo chamber, which might have harmful outcomes.
Information and opinion matter, they usually at all times have.