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The Celtic History Review

An Clochan. 3.50 for two issues from 216 Falls Road, Belfast BT12 6AH

Much of the history which our children are generally taught in schools and colleges today is centred on the Anglo-British or French states. The history of the nations of the so-called 'Celtic Fringe' is regarded as peripheral and is generally ignored. When I went to school the 1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland was passed over quickly. Ireland and Ulster were only mentioned when they gave headaches to English politicians whereas Wales, Mannin and Cornwall were never mentioned at all. Today, however, there is a growing interest in the history of the distinctive nations within the British Isles and in Brittany. As the artificial nature of such unitary states as the 'United Kingdom' and France grows clearer, many folk are taking more of an interest in their own distinctive national or 'regional' history, identity and culture. The Celtic History Review is a well-presented biannual journal of 24 pages. It seeks to explore the histories of what it calls 'the six Celtic countries'. This I feel is its greatest shortcoming, as it ignores the separate identity of a seventh country - Ulster. Nevertheless, it is compelling reading. Running throughout the magazine is its implicit opposition to the rootless modern junk consumerist society. To quote Brendan McMahon, "All Celtic countries are struggling to maintain or revive their traditional cultures, in the face of political and economic forces which powerfully affect a1l developed nations. Celtic or not, underlying these struggles is a question of identity. And it is profoundly important question. All of us, as individuals and societies, require a sense of who we are and whence we came in order to comprehend our lives... A real, sustaining sense of identity can only be based on the authentic, inherited values and traditions of living communities. " I can't quarrel with this analysis. The first issue has a fascinating account of the Union Regionaliste Bretonne, one of the first groups which sought to restore the autonomy which Britanny lost after the French Revolution. Until I picked this up I had never heard of Illiam Dhone or of the Manx Rebellion of 165 1. His story reminds me a lot of Sir William Wallace of Scotland whose rebellion was the subject of the recently released film Braveheart. Illiam Dhone's execution in 1663 is commemorated each year on the anniversary, January 2nd at Hango Hill near Castletown. Issue two carries an article on the deleterious impact of the French Revolution in Britanny and two informative articles on the evolution of modem Manx and Cornish nationalism. Ulster-nationalists who are keen to learn more about the histories of our neighbours in the other parts of these islands and in Brittany - the British Family of Nations - should enjoy this magazine which is of value at only 1.50. 

 

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