Ethical & Shared Remembering

This Project received funding from the Columbanus Community Trust for a three year education programme.

The events of 1912-1922 provided a decade of enormous change in Ireland leaving a legacy for good and ill. The events shaped the rest of the 20th century and still cast a long shadow into the 21st century. The Ulster Covenant and the Easter Proclamation, in ways a mirror of each other, became foundational documents of two states in Ireland after 1921. Everything had changed by 1922, not least because of the Great War, but the decade was also a decade of intense and often brutal, sectarian violence. The legacy of violence remained and erupted again in Northern Ireland for a further 35 years at the end of the 20th century.

The centenaries of these dramatic events will be remembered between 2012 – 2022.

The critical question is how? In the current global and local context that bears no

resemblance to the historical decade, how will we remember events of change

steeped in violence? The past is a foreign country and we do not live in it.

Emotionally we may be locked into it, but the world has moved on and changed, as

it always does. Living in the past can reduce us to being the flotsam and jetsam of

history, debris washed up on the beach of time. More than ever we are now global

citizens, planetary beings, struggling with a fragile peace process in Ireland, but

part of the web of globalisation with all its interdependency. How will we remember

and commemorate in this context?

Both the change and the violence need to be remembered and acknowledged together in Ireland and Britain, because the decade is both Irish and British European history, as is the legacy.

Ethical and shared remembering are key to the approaching centennial decade.

Ethical remembering will mean asking critical and ethical questions about violence,

change, justice and peace in the context of the present and desired shared future.

One hundred years on there will be no ethical remembering without remembering

the future, and without an ethical and concrete commitment to building it together.


Ireland has a deeply embedded culture of division, violence, and sectarianism. Borne out of a past which has never been critically or ethically unpacked and challenged, nor have the political and religious issues that continue to divide its people been resolved. The innovative approach of this Project will allow participants to unpack a ‘shared history’ encouraging people to explore significant events in their entirety and begin to understand the complexities of the past, learn from the mistakes and make choices for a better future.

The Project will work sensitively and supportively at all times, on a single-identity, cross-community, cross-cultural and cross-border basis to encourage a wide range of diverse voices to inform discussion and debate. This Project is not about negating the past but rather how we might deal with a legacy of toxic history and upcoming centennial events of remembrance whereby commemoration is acknowledged as an important part of our shared history and how we might do this in a way that is respectful and positive and which does not feed into fear, antagonism and a throw-back to the past.


Core to the project is ethical remembering, providing a distinctive framework for a critical exploration of history and allowing a creative and inclusive approach to commemoration.

The decade is explored as a whole and the symbiotic relationship between each of the key events is a central feature.

The legacy of the decade will be explored through the following, highlighted as not only past but current themes: nationalism/identity, religion, violence, trauma, equality, feminism, and literary culture.

The project is engaged, not only with a decade of history, which crucially dictated the history of Ireland since then, but with future visioning and the construction of an ethical and shared future.

The project will deconstruct the ideological, philosophical and religious views of the decade in order to reconstruct an ethical value base for the 21st century.

Training resources, community resources, and academic literature will be produced for use by a range of sectors to support the development of an ethical and shared future.


The Ethical and Shared Remembering Project comes with a comprehensive training manual with accompanying resources (see publications), including a DVD. Below is an overview of the training programme:

• Commemoration in a New Context

• Remembering a Decade of Change and Violence in Ireland

• 1912 – 1922

  1. The Decade in Global Context: Imperialism and Nationalism
  2. The Decade in Local Context: Religion and Labour Relations
  3. An Ethical Framework and Guidelines for Remembering
  4. Integrative Complexity: A Way of Seeing
  5. Covenant, Guns and Militarised Politics
  6. Rising, Blood Sacrifice and Equality Deferred
  7. Covenant and Proclamation in the 21st Century
  8. The Somme, Slaughter and Sectarianised Memory
  9. An Irish Parliament and a War of Independence
  10. Partition, Civil War and Legacy
  11. Violence against Women: 1912-1922
  12. Shaped by Patriarchy: The Feminist Response
  13. The Dance with Death: Yeats, Pearse and Milligan
  14. An Alternative to Violence: Synge, Joyce and O’Casey