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Forgetful RemembranceSocial Forgetting and Vernacular Historiography of a Rebellion in Ulster$
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Guy Beiner

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198749356

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198749356.001.0001

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The Generation of Forgetting

The Generation of Forgetting

The First Half of the Nineteenth Century

(p.145) 3 The Generation of Forgetting
Forgetful Remembrance

Guy Beiner

Oxford University Press

Social forgetting is generated through discreet processing of traumatic historical experiences that cannot be expressed in official representations of public memory. Following the defeat of the 1798 rebellion, former rebels could not be openly memorialised. Epitaphs on graves of United Irishmen were deliberately obscured. Both Catholics and Protestants were unwilling to put their recollections of the rebellion on record. Local memories were noted in travel literature and vernacular poetry offered a medium of remembrance that was less noticeable to outsiders. However, cultural memory can be misleading. Literary representations in historical fiction contributed to social forgetting by covering up less savoury aspects of the rebellion. Towards the end of their lives, elderly members of the generation that had witnessed the events experienced ‘post-memory angst’ and shared with dedicated collectors of historical traditions their memories, which had been shaped through practices of concealment and were full of hesitations.

Keywords:   folklore, oral traditions, commemoration, vernacular poetry, historical fiction, post-memory, cultural memory, forgetting, Anglo-Irish literature, travel writing

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