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Art Imitating War? "Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Toward the Somme" and its Place in History

Hill, Jacqueline (2009) Art Imitating War? "Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Toward the Somme" and its Place in History. Etudes Irlandaises, 34 (1). pp. 37-52. ISSN 0183-973X

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Abstract

This paper examines the treatment of Ireland and World War One in Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, one of Frank McGuinness's best-known plays, and among the leading Irish history plays of the twentieth century. The play has received considerable analysis from literature specialists, but much less from historians. In particular, the paper considers the play in the context of the evolving historiography of the First World War, including Irish participation, history and memory, and forms of commemoration. Specific issues discussed include who enlisted, and why; why soldiers were prepared to stay and fight (despite the high level of casualties), and Ulster Protestant identity. Among the scholars and writers whose work is mentioned are Tim Bowman, Cyril Falls, David Fizpatrick, Paul Fussell, Henry Harris, Laurence Housman, Keith Jeffery, Jennifer Johnston, Kevin Myers, David Nowlan, Philip Orr, A.T.Q. Stewart, and Jay Winter. Cet article analyze la représentation de l’Irlande et de la Première Guerre mondiale dans Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, une des pièces les plus connues de Frank McGuinness, et une des pièces historiques irlandaises majeures écrites au XX siècle. La pièce a déjà fait L’objet d'un nombre considérable d’études de la part de spécialistes de littérature, mais a reçu moins d’attention de la part des historiens. Cet article replace la pièce dans le contexte de l’évolution de l’historiographie de la Première Guerre mondiale, concernant en particulier la participation des Irlandais, la rapport entre histoire et mémoire, et les formes de la commemoration. Les questions précises discutées ici sont: que étaient ceux qui s’engagèrent, et quelles raisons ils avaient de le faire; pourquoi les soldats étaient prêts à rester et à se batter, en dépit du grand nombre de tués; et l’identité protestante de l’Ulster. Parmi les spécialistes et auteurs don't le nom est mentionné apparaissent Tim Bowman, Cyril Falls, David Fizpatrick, Paul Fussell, Henry Harris, Laurence Housman, Keith Jeffery, Jennifer Johnston, Kevin Myers, David Nowlan, Philip Orr, A.T.Q. Stewart, and Jay Winter.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Sir Edward Carson; James Connnolly; Sir James Craig; The battle of the Boyne (1690); The battle of the Somme (1916); The Easter Rising (1916); Home Rule; The Irish Free Stare; Irish Historical Studies (1938-); The I.U.; The Irish Volunteers; The Northern Ireland "Troubles"; The Orange Order; Sinn Fein; The Sunningdale Assembly; The Ulster Workers' Council; The 36th (Ulster) Division;
Subjects: Arts, Celtic Studies & Philosophy > History
Item ID: 3524
Depositing User: Jacqueline Hill
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2012 16:32
Journal or Publication Title: Etudes Irlandaises
Publisher: Universitaires du Septentrion
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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