As readers are aware, I have long lamented the lack of study and commemoration in Ireland of the hundreds of thousands of Irish emigrants whose lives were forever impacted by the American Civil War. We have made many efforts to see something done on this front, particularly during the 150th anniversary of the conflict, but ultimately extremely little occurred in Ireland to mark the occasion. A new opportunity has now presented itself, and I am asking readers to consider submitting proposals to see if, this time, we can make it a reality.
Back in 2013 I launched a campaign for readers to contact An Post, the Irish postal service, as they sought suggestions for themes for future Irish stamps (Stamp Your Mark on Irish Commemoration of the American Civil War). Many of you did so. Despite the fact the subject matter appeared to completely match all of An Post’s stated criteria, including being in an anniversary year, the proposal was rejected (My reaction to that is here: Has Ireland Missed the Last Opportunity to Remember Her Civil War Dead). Now, as part of the 2020 stamp programme, proposals are being sought for themes that specifically represent events or people of significance for the Global Irish Diaspora. The time seems right to once again make an effort to have this monumental event in the global Irish experience recognised.
The Irish Abroad Unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade have asked people to send a brief outline of their suggestions to them by Friday, 16th March 2018. The email for submissions is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can read the original call and criteria by clicking here. I would like to call on all readers of Irish in the American Civil War, wherever you may be based, to consider submitting a proposal that the Irish of the American Civil War be remembered on one of these stamps. If you could share this request as widely as possible I would be extremely appreciative. Please feel free to use the indicative text (below) or formulate your own. The more submissions that arrive requesting such a stamp, the harder it will be to ignore. Fingers crossed for a positive result!
The American Civil War is the only conflict in the Irish experience comparable to the First World War. Some 200,000 Irish-born men fought, at least 180,000 in order to preserve the American Union. The conflict led to the deaths of up to 35,000 Irish emigrants, leaving innumerable widows and orphans in Ireland, the United States, and among the Irish diasporas of Britain and Canada. The sacrifices of these individuals, part of the Famine generation, were the foundations upon which Ireland’s unique relationship with the United States has been built, yet they have never been properly recognised in Ireland. There is no event in the history of the Global Irish Diaspora to compare with this conflict and the time is now right to acknowledge its key importance in the Irish story. I would therefore like to call on you to dedicate one of the Global Irish Diaspora stamps to this seminal experience.