A comic look at Irish history
By Kernan Andrews
1916 AND All That is a new book by Galwegian Ciara Boylan, which takes a comic look at Irish history.
Ciara, who is a graduate of NUI Galway and has worked in the National Library of Ireland, was inspired by WC Sellar and RJ Yeatman’s famous 1930 satirical history 1066 And All That, to create an equivalent book for Ireland.
“We all have to study history as a compulsory subject at school and yet most of us emerge with little more than a few names, some jumbled dates, and a shaky sense of chronology,” Says Ciara. “I decided to write a history that followed a correct chronology with verifiable names/events but to ‘enliven’ them with a mixture of satire, gross exaggeration, and complete fiction! I used true facts as my base and built a superstructure of nonsense on it.”
Ciara describes the book as “a playful parody of a general history text book”. There is a dissection of the Norman obsession with wall-building; an unearthing of the most Penal Laws at their most stupid (“Catholics must always part their hair in the centre, even when it doesn’t suit their face”); a letter form The London Outrage from 1843 denouncing Daniel O’Connell as a “mop-haired demagogue”; censorship of cucumbers in the Free State; and a discussion of Brendan Grace as the “essence of the post-colonial moment”.
“I hope it will appeal to readers of all ages whether they have studied Irish history or not and, most importantly, I hope that it will make people laugh,” says Ciara.