William, it was really nothing

Violence in Belfast, on the eve of another Orange parade? Color me shocked. But our annual rerun of the dimwitted feud between the Hatfields and the McCoy's never seems to get old does it?

Here's a suggestion, though: to get over the epic slaughters of the past, it might be an idea to stop commemorating them?

The Battle of the Boyne was fought 320 years ago. That, to paraphrase Doulglas Adams, is a very long time to wait for a bus.

The forces of the Protestant William of Orange were victorious over the Catholic King James, sealing Ireland's fate as subject to the British crown.

Fantastic. We get it. But does the outcome to this contentious and ancient battle still have to be celebrated, year after year, in bonfires, murals and parades with stirring speeches and booming drums?

Annually antagonizing your neighbors over your victory and their loss isn't the most imaginative way to seek out fellowship and connection, is it? Unsurprisingly, resentment among Catholics often boils over.

I wish it all would stop.

In America, no one celebrates the battles of the Civil War, because Americans were killing Americans. That's a painful memory anyway you slice it. Given their proximity, they figured they'd tone it down.

Isn't there a message in that for Ireland, north and south?

If we keep refreshing the open wounds of history, can we claim to be surprised that they keep on festering and breaking out, year after year?

There's no appetite in the North for winding down the annual commemoration. Indeed most there will be appalled I've even suggested it. That victory from the distant past long ago become more important than the peace in the present.


It's important that the heritage of Ulster is shared and passed on from generation to generation. But isn't there a way to protect and preserve it that doesn't involve kicking open a Pandora's Box and letting the chips fall where they may year after year?


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