(This is a Guest Post by Mettaculture)
Dublin 24/2/2007. Ireland 43 England 13
There has been serious debate in Ireland recently about whether England should have been allowed to play God save the Queen and concerns that nationalist opposition might wreck the opening of the game, with even the intercession of an archbishop. blessing the playing of the English anthem
Today I will not discuss the game itself (magnificent as it was) because I don’t want people to be distracted from the historical significance of today’s match.
This highly emotive site for Irish Nationalism saw an emotion choked beginning, with a packed stadium of 83,000 cheering the entry of the English team and clapping politely after the anthem.
A greater symbol of Irish National feeling than the Croke Park stadium is hard to find. In 1916, the battle for Irish independence moved to armed rebellion, a rising in which small groups seized key buildings in the centre of Dublin.
It did not last long as British artillery pounded rebel strongholds to rubble, especially in Dublin’s main thoroughfare, today’s O’Connell Street. Some of the rubble was used to help build Crooke Park, one section of which is to this day known as Hill 16, a reference to the year 1916.
In 1920, Michael Collins, one of the leaders of the Irish campaign, sent assassins to strike British intelligence agents in Dublin. More than a dozen died in early-morning raids on their homes. The British forces, most notably the so-called Black and Tans, retaliated swiftly. Troops went to Croke Park, where Dublin was playing Tipperary, opening fire on the crowd and killed 14. One was Tipperary captain Michael Hogan, whose name lives on in Croke Park’s. Hogan stand
There is a debate going on in the thread below of the historical ‘crimes’ of the English and the British Empire and the need for historical explanation and an accounting for the past.
Aside from the abstraction of such debates ,doesn’t today’s win for Ireland and their respectful acceptance of England’s presence in such a deeply symbolic location of Irish National identity show a massive maturity for Ireland and an incredible act of reconciliation?