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NZ Author Launches New Book on St Pat’s Day

15 March 2005

Irish Battles Over National Identity – NZ Author Launches New Book on St Pat’s Day

When Ireland was partitioned into two separately governed parts in the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising, it might seem that the choice of stamps, coins, and other symbols was a minor side issue in the political process which became one of the longest running European political conflicts of the last century.

But “Orange” or “Green” was enough alone to inflame passions throughout Ireland, and arguments continued to rage throughout the twentieth century over everything from the flag to the badges worn by policemen. As one author put it, “In Ireland we only hoist flags with a view to irritating our enemies”.

Wellington author Ewan Morris spent a year digging deep into the stories behind the selection of major symbols in both the Republic and Northern Ireland, piecing together both amusing tussles and major fights which have regularly erupted over these issues. What flags should fly when Ireland plays international rugby? Should a pig be allowed to appear on an Irish coin? Should red mail boxes be painted green?

All of these and many more issues became battle grounds, and some of the arguments have never been settled. Whether they can be adequately resolved will largely decide whether Ireland will be a more peaceful place in this century than it was in the last.

All these stories are brought together for the first time in a major new book “Our Own Devices – National Symbols and Political Conflict in Twentieth-Century Ireland” which has recently been published by Irish Academic Press. Author Ewan Morris will launch the book in his home town Wellington at 6pm on March 17, St Patrick’s Day, on the mezzanine floor of the Wellington Public Library. He will leave shortly afterwards for Europe to launch the book in Dublin.


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