In some respects the amnesia which once characterised Irish memory of the Great War has been bookended by two plays, O'Casey's "The Silver Tassie" and "Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme" by Frank McGuinness.

The former, inter alia, highlighted the inconvenient truth of working class Irish participation in World War 1. The rapidly developing nationalist narrative of the late 1920s did not permit of any such recognition, hence the rejection of the play by Yeats and the Abbey Theatre. The play ran counter to the nation's foundation mythology. It acknowledged a phenomenon whose memory was required to be quietly erased from the Irish collective unconscious. So successful was this process that, a generation later we didn't even know that we didn't know. "We were never told" was the mantra of Frank McGuinness, when he came to write his drama about the slaughter of the men of the 36th Ulster Division on 1 July 1916 on the Somme. The play (premiered by a very different Abbey to the one which had rejected the Tassie) contributed enormously to the process of re-integrating Great War memory into the Irish psyche....