Bumped because of the following article from the Weekend Australian, with some background about Croke Park's seminal role and symbolism in modern Irish history - namely one of the most atrocious deliberate mass crimes ever committed in a sports stadium, the infamous Bloody Sunday Massacre, when British troops stormed the packed stadium and indiscriminately machined-gunned the crowd and players - and how this still affects current day attitudes -
Irish take on ghosts of sports massacre
Elizabeth Colman, Australain
February 24, 2007
EVERY Irishman should feel shamed by the playing of God Save the Queen when England meets Ireland in the Six Nations rugby union championship at Croke Park in Dublin today, the son of an Irish sporting hero said yesterday. As police put the finishing touches to an unprecedented security operation at the stadium where British troops shot dead 13 people in a sports crowd in 1920, JJBarrett, whose father was one of Ireland's most successful Gaelic footballers, said allowing the British national anthem to be sung before the game was a disgrace. But just two weeks ago, the talk in Drumcondra, in northern Dublin, was of peace and pride as Ireland prepared to play France in the Six Nations tournament at Croke Park
Croke Park, a bastion of Irish nationalism and the headquarters for Gaelic games, was opening its doors to a "foreign code" of sport for the first time in its 99-year history. But today's scheduled game has sparked nationalist fervour in the press and the pubs on a scale scarcely seen since the 1998 Anglo-Irish agreement. In comments that are likely to inflame passions, Mr Barrett, 63, said: "For me, it will be one of the saddest days of my life. God Save the Queen is offensive and insulting, and for it to be played in Croke Park is disrespectful to the people who were massacred there in 1920. My father would have been appalled."
The decision to host the England team at Croke Park has led to anguished soul-searching about the republic's relationship with its old oppressor. Croke Park is a sacred place for Irish nationalists. Built from the rubble of the Easter 1916 Irish uprising, its soil was consecrated when English forces opened fire with machineguns on the crowd at a Gaelic football match on Bloody Sunday in 1920. Of the 13 players and fans killed, three were children, while the game's biggest star, Michael Hogan, was shot dead on the pitch. The attack followed the killing of 12 British spies that morning by Michael Collins's IRA squad.
Conflict is again forecast for today. The separatist Republican Sinn Fein group plans to protest outside Croke Park, while the Irish police are bracing for clashes.
The Gaelic Athletic Association's vote in 2005 to review the ban on foreign games sparked intense debate that went to the heart of Ireland's quest for a modern identity. "When you've been colonised, invaded, violated, traumatised ... you have a need of something unambiguously indigenous," Irish Times columnist John Waters wrote. But he added: "That moment when the band strikes up God Saves the Queen will be a chilling moment - though for good reasons, a moment of healing, great emotion and remembering. We are ready for it now." Joe Brennan, the chairman of the GAA's Tipperary branch, told The Australian: "Subconsciously, most Irish are nationalistic and want to see a united Ireland, but to achieve that we have to show tolerance for all the people who are in Ireland."
While radio station switchboards have been jammed with callers expressing their anger over the game, on a lighter note, one writer to the Irish Times hoped the scoreline would be free of political connotations. "Some people are saying it would be appropriate if we beat England 19-16 at Croke Park," Declan O'Keeffe wrote. "But let's hope they don't beat us 19-20."
oderint dum metuant (Gaius Caligula).
Last edited by sandyhill on Sat Feb 24, 2007 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.