Oral History, Black and Tans, IRA, social Memory, War of Independence, Revolutionary period
Stories of the Black and Tans have been told around open hearth fires across Ireland since they first were released into the country in March 1920. Casting a dark and lingering shadow over social memory in Ireland, the force endures as an evocative and emotive category of memory. To many people who lived through the Irish revolutionary period and to many who inherited associated stories, the Black and Tans were the embodiment of British repression, violence and malevolence. The Irish War of Independence is a landmark in the chronology of Irish history, a period that profoundly affected all areas of life. Much of that experience has never been recorded. Instead it was maintained in memory, lingering somewhere between silence and recollection. Based on the author’s almost two decades of oral history recordings and selected from over 400 interviews and countless hours of research, in The Time of the Tans Tomás Mac Conmara illuminates the stories of a period that has dominated the historical consciousness of Ireland for 100 years. From direct testimony of 105-year-old Margaret Hoey, to the inherited tradition of Flan O’Brien, who was born in 1927, the stories pulsate with an intensity of emotion which was carried in their telling from the original environment.