Civil War anniversary sparks new interest in Irish Brigade in Ireland

The American Civil War is in the news lately thanks to the fact it is 150 years since the war started April 12, 1861. Between now and April 15, 2015 we will reaching milestone anniversaries for all the major battles right up to the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's assassination.

From what Americans have been able to enjoy many television documentaries and newspaper articles marking events 150 years ago. People want to learn more about the Civil War just as the bi-centennial celebrations in the 70s sparked a renewed interest in the Revolutionary period.

I hope that some of that will find its way 'across the pond' and that Irish people will find a new interest in the American Civil War, especially the huge Irish involvement. My own sense is that most people here have a vague idea that many Irish men fought in the war, but have little idea as to how many, what motivated them, etc.

So far I've been pleasantly surprised by the number of articles in the newspapers and the radio discussions. An article from the Ulster News Letter is especially good as it's a conglomeration of the coverage the paper provided at the time the war began. Another recent article in the Irish Times told me something about the Civil War that I'd never suspected before: the two armies, especially the Union Army, sent agents to Ireland (& Britain too, I believe) to entice (or con) men to enlist. RTE's premier radio news program did a short item on the Irish in the Civil War this week (audio here).

The best, by far, however, was a TG4 two-part docu-drama Fág an Bealach on the Irish Brigade. {Fág an Bealach was written as Faugh a Ballagh during the Civil War and is a battle-cry - Clear the Way!} You can watch the two episodes here:

Episode 1 – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Episode 2 – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

The Irish paid a big price during their adopted country's Civil War. It was, however, the making of them as Americans, proved their commitment and loyalty. It would be great to believe that this part of the Irish-American experience at least will become better known in Ireland.

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