Updated: 21/12/16 : 04:55:58
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The soldiers who came home to Sligo, December

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

NINETY FIVE years ago a group of soldiers came home to Sligo.

The 'losing side' -- as with all losing sides -- didn't quite see them as soldiers. 

Still, these soldiers had achieved the greatest ever victory known to their ranks.

But to some of the soldiers themselves it didn't seem that way, that day.

Instead, they scurried through the streets of Sligo town, not always kind terrain.

There were houses with hospitality that December day in an age of austerity.

Four Corners

Not all came 'home' to Sligo by train. But they began to arrive from the four corners, home and abroad. 

The Curragh opened its doors but not all prisoners on Irish soil were immediately released that month. 

The display in Dundalk Museum shows a 1921 Christmas Day Missal used in Crumlin Road Prison with two Sligo signatories, awaiting release. 

'Ireland Boys Hurrah.' Well, no, never quite. Within months many released soldiers would set aside all humanity and begin to slay each other with barbarity.

Got Saved

The footnotes of local history sometimes have tiny (hidden) hieroglyphs as to how some got saved among all the slayings, got redemption among ruins.

Those everyday heroes, those non combatants on either side, had to hide their own heroism. Lest 'the winners'.....

Never was the wisdom of that judgement by John Bull seen as so hollow as when all the savagery of all the slayings was seen.

In December 1921 -- and not for the final time -- the English began to release Irish prisoners ''in consequence'' of a written agreement, treaty.

In that case it was The Treaty, arguably coerced through Dáil Éireann by half a dozen TDs votes after the threat of (more) 'immediate and bloody war.'

You always hope you've always, always, left all of that behind. 

Party political allegiance is one of those brand names with which we now call 'war by any other name.'

Power blocs call the tune and watch how what was (once) 'the other side' as it (now) must dance to their tune.

See Clearly

The Tribe moves the telescope viewfinder in an out, all the better to (finally) see clearly what it was back then.

Such hollowness could make it easy to go for the jugular on John Bull and his judgement. 

Make it easy to deal, or to dispense, with all the others who 'got in the way,' along the way. 

Both north and south you are never too far away from watching The Tribe(s) Throwing Shapes.....throwing stuff at each other.

Look at the Dáil and look at Stormont and what do you see at the best of times. 

Has it all changed. How new is 'new' in politics. Discuss, with half a dozen examples from each party, north and south.

On the shortest day of the year, we could reflect, maybe, on those longest nights of our history and on lessons learned, if any.