Paradoxical as it may seem, memory can pre-date history, and even more surprisingly, forgetting can precede remembering. Historical events are perceived through the ‘prememory’ of reference to memories of previous events. Moreover, concerns of being forgotten, though often unnoticed, can be raised in advance of the unravelling of historical events and their remembrance. The subtle dynamics of this ‘pre-forgetting’, which are embedded into the very earliest stage of memory formation, are demonstrated through an examination of the case of the republican protomartyr William Orr. Remembrance of his trial and execution, in advance of the 1798 rebellion, offered a template for subsequent remembrance of the United Irishmen. Periodic calls to ‘Remember Orr’ were perforated with anxieties of forgetting that sustained forgetful remembrance.
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