ON THIS DATE (20TH SEPTEMBER) 214 YEARS AGO : ‘DARLING OF ERIN’ BUTCHERED BY WESTMINSTER.

Robert Emmet was born on the 4th March, 1778, a son of Dr Robert Emmet and Elizabeth Mason. His father served as state physician to the vice-regal household but he was a social reformer who believed that in order to achieve the emancipation of the Irish people it was first necessary to break the link with England. Robert Emmet (Jnr) was baptised on March 10th, 1778, in St Peter’s Church of Ireland in Aungier Street, Dublin, and attended Oswald’s School in Dropping Court, off Golden Lane, Dublin. From there he went to Samuel Whytes School in Grafton Street, quite near his home, and later to the school of the Reverend Mr Lewis in Camden Street. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, in October 1793 when he was almost 16 years of age and practiced his oratorical skills in the historical and debating societies. One of his friends at TCD was the poet Thomas Moore.

There were four branches of the ‘United Irishmen’ in TCD and Robert Emmet was secretary of one of them but, after an inquisition, presided over by Lord Chancellor Fitzgibbon, Emmet became one of nineteen students who were expelled for United Irishmen activity. Although not active in the 1798 Rising, Robert Emmet was well known to the British authorities and by April 1799, when ‘Habeas Corpus’ had been suspended, there was a warrant issued for his arrest, which he managed to evade. Early in 1801, accompanied by a Mr Malachy Delany of Cork, he travelled throughout Europe and made Paris his headquarters – it was there that he replaced Edward Lewis as the liaison officer between Irish and French republicans.

While in Paris, Emmet learned about rockets and weapons and studied a two-volume treatise by a Colonel Tempelhoff which can be examined in the Royal Irish Academy, with the marginal notes given the reader some insight into Emmet’s thinking. Following the signing of the ‘Peace of Amiens’ by France and England in March 1802, the United Irishmen that were being held as prisoners in Fort George were released and many such as Thomas Russell and Thomas Addis Emmet made there way to Paris. Emmet returned to Ireland in October 1802 and began to plan for a rising and, in March 1803, at a meeting in Corbet’s Hotel, 105 Capel Street in Dublin, Emmet briefed his key organisers. In April 1803 he rented an isolated house in Butterfield Lane in Rathfarnham as a new base of operations and Michael Dwyer, a 1798 veteran, suggested his young niece as a suitable candidate to play the role of the ‘housekeeper’. Born in or around the year 1778, Ann Devlin soon became Robert Emmet’s trusted helper and served him loyally in the months ahead. Shortly afterwards he leased a premises at Marshalsea Lane, off Thomas Street, Dublin, and set up an arms depot there.

Arms depots were established in Dublin for the manufacture and storage of weapons for the incipient rising. Former soldiers mixed their practical skills with the scientific knowledge that Robert Emmet had acquired on the continent, and an innovative rocket device was produced. Elaborate plans were drawn up to take the city and in particular Dublin Castle : supporters from the surrounding counties of Kildare, Wicklow and even Wexford were pledged to assist. Emmet bided his time waiting for an opportune moment when English troops would be withdrawn to serve in the renewed war in France, but his hand was forced when a premature explosion on the evening of July 16th, 1803, at the Patrick Street depot, caused the death of John Keenan. Though there was no obvious wide-scale search or arrest operation by the British following the explosion, the leadership of the movement decided to set Saturday July 23rd, 1803 as the date for the rising. Emmet hoped that success in Dublin would inspire other counties to follow suit. Patrick M. Geoghegan, in a recent publication, says that “the plan for taking Dublin was breathtaking in its precision and audacity. It was nothing less that a blueprint for a dramatic coup d’état. Indeed, over a century later, Pearse and Clarke would also refer to the plan for their own rising..”

Emmet’s plan depended on two factors – arms and men and, as Geoghegan states, when the time came, Robert Emmet had not enough of either – events went dramatically wrong for him. On the appointed day his plans began to unravel ; Michael Dwyer and his promised 300 men did not get the word until Sunday July 24th and, the previous day, an excess of men had moved in to Dublin from Kildare and could not be concealed in the existing depots so they spread out around the city pubs and some started drinking. Others, after inspecting the existing arsenal and finding many pikes but few muskets or blunderbusses, went home unimpressed.

Because he had alerted other countries and still had the element of surprise, Emmet decided not to postpone the rising thus, shortly after seven o’clock on Saturday July 23rd, 1803, Robert Emmet, in his green and gold uniform, stood in the Thomas Street, Dublin, depot and, to the assembled rebels, read out his proclamation, declaring that the Irish nation was about to assert itself in arms against foreign rule. But again events conspired to thwart the rebels – coaches commissioned for the attack on Dublin Castle were lost and erroneous information supplied that encouraged pre-emptive strikes, meant that confusion reigned. Also, the novel rocket signals failed to detonate. Emmet’s own forces, who were to have taken the Castle, dwindled away and, throughout the remainder of that evening, there were skirmishes at Thomas Street and the Coombe Barracks but he decided to terminate operations and leave the city. For the English forces, which included Daniel O’Connell (“It is highly interesting to read that Daniel O’Connell, then a young barrister, enthusiastically joined a lawyer yeomen corps in 1803 to help in the pursuit of the rebels..” – from here), it was then merely a mopping-up operation : in the aftermath, the English arrested and tortured Anne Devlin, even offering her the enormous sum of £500 to betray Robert Emmet – she refused.

Emmet himself took refuge in the Harold’s Cross area of Dublin, during which he met with his mother and Sarah Curran but, on Thursday August 25th, 1803, he was finally arrested. It has been stated by others that a £1000 reward was paid by Dublin Castle to an informer, for supplying the information which led to his capture. Robert Emmet’s misfortunes did not stop on his arrest : he was unlucky enough to be ‘defended’ by one Leonard McNally who was trusted by the United Irishmen. However, after McNally’s death in 1820 it transpired that he was a highly paid government agent and, in his role as an informer, he had encouraged young men to join the rebels, betrayed them to Dublin Castle and would then collect fees from the United Irishmen to ‘defend’ those same rebels in court!

Emmet’s ‘trial’ lasted 11 hours, and he stood for that entire duration, in front of a ‘Special Commission’ overseen by judge John Toler (better known as ‘Hanging Lord Norbury’) in Green Street Court House in Dublin on September 19th, 1803. By about 9.30pm that night he was pronounced guilty and, asked for his reaction, he delivered a speech which still inspires today. He closed by saying that he cared not for the opinion of the court but for the opinion of the future – “..when other times and other men can do justice to my character…”. Robert Emmet was publicly executed on Tuesday September 20th, 1803 – 214 years ago on this date – outside St Catherine’s Church in Dublin’s Thomas Street –

‘The gallows on Thomas street was a temporary one which was built with planks and empty barrels and a cross beam on two poles about 12 feet tall. It was almost in the centre of the street…(his) final words on the gallows (were) “My friends, I die in peace and with sentiments of universal love and kindness towards all men”…the executioner began the hanging by dislodging a plank which was on a narrow ledge and Emmet convulsed on the end of the rope for over a half an hour when finally his body ceased to move…beheaded on a butchers block..if the reports of the blood squirting into the crowd when the procedure began are accurate, this would suggest that Robert Emmet was alive and merely unconscious at the time of his beheading…’ (from here.)

His grave has yet to be located…

 

JOKER IN THE PACK…?

Padraig Flynn (left) has been facing the flak since he became Minister for the Environment. But Michael O’Higgins finds that nothing phases him. He retains the same certainty he had when saying quite different things. From ‘Magill’ magazine, May 1987.

Padraig Flynn may be quite happily esconced in the heart of Dublin, anxious to transform it into a cosmopolitan city on a par with Paris or Rome. But his references are unmistakably rural and traditional. He is never far from Mayo West.

He identified himself as one of the voices of Catholic moral conservatism during the constitutional referenda on abortion and divorce. And he admits openly to not being a pluralist. His position on divorce since the referendum last June is unchanged. You can’t have “special cases” for people whose marriages have broken down.

But some of Flynn’s categorical assertions are relative ; as with all of the members of the Fianna Fáil government, he has had to change his tune on some issues, which the party represented differently in opposition. But Padraig Flynn, more than most of his colleagues, can make it appear that there has been no change at all. During the debate on the Single European Act last December, Padraig Flynn was one of the most outspoken critics of the Act. The speech he made outlining his objections to the Act is one in which he takes unconcealed pride. He says he did all the research for it himself, although he was helped by literature supplied by the Family Solidarity group. But that literature, he adds quickly, was supplied to every TD (sic). He has maintained informal links he struck up with the group during the referenda but is not a member… (MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DATE (20TH SEPTEMBER) 103 YEARS AGO : IRISH LEADER CAMPAIGNS FOR RECRUITMENT TO BRITISH ARMY.

John Redmond (left), the leader of the ‘Irish Parliamentary Party’, was born into a ‘Big House’-type Catholic family on the 1st September in 1856 and, after a ‘proper’ education (in Clongowes College in Kildare and Trinity College in Dublin) he became a political ‘player’ in the British so-called ‘House of Commons’, where he supplemented his income as a clerk. He was only 25 years-of-age when he was first elected as an MP, having worked his way up the establishment ladder.

He was an Irish nationalist (small ‘n’) politician who, occasionally, campaigned for his followers (and anyone else that would listen to him) to join the British Army in its fight against Germany, and did so infamously (and unashamedly) in a public speech he delivered in Woodenbridge in County Wicklow on this date – 20th September – in 1914, where he stated – “The interests of Ireland – of the whole of Ireland – are at stake in this war. This war is undertaken in the defence of the highest principles of religion and morality and right, and it would be a disgrace for ever to our country and a reproach to her manhood and a denial of the lessons of her history if young Ireland confined their efforts to remaining at home to defend the shores of Ireland from an unlikely invasion, and to shrinking from the duty of proving on the field of battle that gallantry and courage which has distinguished our race all through its history. I say to you, therefore, your duty is twofold. I am glad to see such magnificent material for soldiers around me, and I say to you: ‘Go on drilling and make yourself efficient for the work, and then account yourselves as men, not only for Ireland itself, but wherever the fighting line extends, in defence of right, of freedom, and religion in this war…’ “.
And, unfortunately, in the months that followed his ‘call to arms’, tens of thousands of Irishmen joined his ‘Cause’ and fought alongside imperialism to the extent that one of his modern-day political mirror-images all but called Redmond a traitor for encouraging such folly. Other political leaders did not agree with John Redmond and,among them, was James Connolly, the Irish Trade Union leader, who was also in command of the Irish Citizen Army – he answered Redmond’s call thus :

‘Full steam ahead, John Redmond said,
that everything was well, chum ;
Home Rule will come when we are dead,
and buried out in Belgium’.

Also, some of John Redmond’s own men dis-agreed with his pro-British ‘call-to-arms’ ; Eoin MacNeill, who was then in a leadership position within the ‘Irish Volunteers’, was of the opinion that the ‘Irish Volunteers’ should only use force against the British if* Westminster first moved against them ; a bit ‘watery’, definitely, but he was, however, against fighting with the British (*if having your country occupied by a foreign power cannot be considered a ‘first move against us’ then Mr MacNeill had a different understanding of the English language than I have!).

Just over a year after Mr Redmond had delivered his ‘join imperialism’-speech in Woodenbridge, a British Army Major-General, ‘Sir’ Lovick Bransby Friend (..perhaps his parents never bonded with him?) the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in Ireland, said that 1,100 recruits were needed from Ireland every week “to replace wastage” (!) of existing Irish soldiers. The comments were made at a private conference on recruiting in Ireland that was held under the presidency of the ‘Lord’ Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Wimborne, at the Viceregal Lodge in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, where it was also stated that approximately 81,000 Irishmen had ‘heeded Redmond’s call-to-arms’. The political mirror-image, mentioned above, had a point…

 

PERCEPTIONS…

“We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all.” – So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for ‘Northern Ireland’, last July in ‘The London Evening Standard’ newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from ‘Iris’ magazine, Easter 1991. (‘1169′ comment : *’August’ as in ‘ dignified and impressive’? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway…)

At the first ‘Constitutional Convention’ held in Edinburgh which brought together groups in Scotland to present a demand for a Scottish parliament, Canon Kenyon Wright, General Secretary of the Scottish Council of Churches, told the politicians present “..there is a Greek-biblical word for it – ‘kairos’ – a time. It is not just the passing of days, but of time, that is ripe – there is a new political climate – we are at ‘kairos’ ; a time for Scotland.”

Canon Wright brought together a number of strands of opposition sentiment : the sense of moral outrage over politics seen to be both philistine and grasping, and the belief that Scotland has preserved not just a separate national identity but also a distinct politico-moral sense which is now reasserting itself. Mrs Thatcher was bad for Ireland, not just in the soothing paralysis of ‘the Anglo-Irish Agreement’ but because current punitive legislation aimed specifically at Ireland has also seen an erosion of British civil liberties.

The ‘Charter 88’ group in Britain, who see that the English have lost their civil liberties because of what their government is doing in Ireland, is presently agitating for a Bill of Rights to reinstate the Rights of the Individual in Britain and to reform the system of human rights and civil liberties…(MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DATE (20TH SEPTEMBER) 100 YEARS AGO : THE DEATH OF THE FIRST OF OUR TWENTY-TWO HUNGER-STRIKERS.

Thomas Ashe (pictured, right) was born in Lispole, County Kerry, on the 12th of January 1885 – he was the seventh of ten siblings. He qualified as a teacher in 1905 at De La Salle College, Waterford and after teaching briefly in Kinnard, County Kerry, in 1906 he became principal of Corduff National School in Lusk, County Dublin. He was a fluent Irish speaker and a member of the Keating branch of the Gaelic League and was an accomplished sportsman and musician setting up the Round Towers GAA Club as well as helping to establish the Lusk Pipe Band. He was also a talented singer and poet who was committed to Conradh na Gaeilge.

Politically, he was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and established IRB circles in Dublin and Kerry and eventually became President of the Supreme Council in 1917. While he was actively and intellectually nationalist he was also inspired by contemporary socialism. Ashe rejected conservative Home Rule politicians and as part of that rejection he espoused the Labour policies of James Larkin. Writing in a letter to his brother Gregory he said – “We are all here on Larkin’s side. He’ll beat hell out of the snobbish, mean, seoinín employers yet, and more power to him”. Ashe supported the unionisation of north Dublin farm labourers and his activities brought him into conflict with landowners such as Thomas Kettle *. During the infamous lockout in 1913 he was a frequent visitor to Liberty Hall and become a friend of James Connolly. Long prior to its publication in 1916, Thomas Ashe was a practitioner of Connolly’s dictum that “the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland, the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour”. In 1914 Ashe travelled to the United States where he raised a substantial sum of money for both the Gaelic League and the newly formed Irish Volunteers of which he was an early member. (*‘Tom Kettle was a member of the National Volunteers, and in 1914 went to Belgium to buy arms for them. Whilst there, war broke out, and he became convinced of the justice of the Allied cause. He returned to Ireland, and made a series of recruiting speeches, which effectively alienated him from the Nationalist movement. Kettle then joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. After the Easter Rising and the murder of Francis Sheehy-Skeffington he asked to be sent to the Front, and was killed on the eve of the Battle of Ginchy, 9 September 1916. His body was never recovered…’)

He founded the Volunteers in Lusk and established a firm foundation of practical and theoretical military training, and provided charismatic leadership first as Adjutant and then as O/C (Officer Commanding) the 5th Battalion of the Dublin Brigade, where he inspired fierce loyalty and encouraged personal initiative in his junior officers and was therefore able to confidently delegate command to Charlie Weston, Joseph Lawless, Edward Rooney and others during the Rising. Most significantly, he took advantage of the arrival of Richard Mulcahy at Finglas Glen on the Tuesday of the Rising and appointed him second in command. The two men knew one another through the IRB and Gaelic League and Ashe recognized Mulcahy’s tactical abilities. As a result Ashe allowed himself to be persuaded by Mulcahy not to withdraw following the unexpected arrival of a motorised force of British ‘police’ at the Rath crossroads, Ashbourne, on the 28th of April, 1916 – he demonstrated great personal courage, first exposing himself to fire while calling on the RIC in the fortified barracks to surrender and then actively leading his Volunteers against the RIC during the battle.

After the 1916 Rising he was court-martialed (on the 8th of May 1916) and was sentenced to death, which was commuted to penal servitude for life. He was incarcerated in a variety of English prisons before being released in the June 1917 general amnesty and immediately returned to Ireland and toured the country reorganising the IRB and inciting civil opposition to British rule. In August 1917, after a speech in Ballinalee, County Longford, he was arrested by the RIC and charged with “speeches calculated to cause disaffection”. He was detained in the Curragh Camp and later sentenced to a year’s hard labour in Mountjoy Jail. There he became O/C of the Volunteer prisoners, and demanded prisoner-of-war status and, as a result, he was punished by the Governor. He went on hunger strike on the 20th September 1917 – 100 years ago on this date – and five days later died as a result of force-feeding by the prison authorities. He was 32 years old. His death resulted in POW status being conceded to the Volunteer prisoners two days later.

His funeral was the first public funeral after the Rising and provided a focal point for public disaffection with British rule. His body lay in state in Dublin City Hall before being escorted by armed Volunteers to Glasnevin Cemetery. 30,000 people attended the burial where three volleys were fired over the grave and the Last Post was sounded. While imprisoned in Lewes Jail in 1916, he had written his poem ‘Let Me Carry Your Cross for Ireland, Lord’ which later provided the inspiration for the ‘Battle of Ashbourne Memorial’, which was unveiled by Sean T. O’Kelly on Easter Sunday, 26th April 1959, at the Rath Cross in Ashbourne :

Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord
The hour of her trial draws near,
And the pangs and the pains of the sacrifice
May be borne by comrades dear.

But, Lord, take me from the offering throng,
There are many far less prepared,
Through anxious and all as they are to die
That Ireland may be spared.

Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord
My cares in this world are few,
and few are the tears will for me fall
When I go on my way to You.

Spare Oh! Spare to their loved ones dear
The brother and son and sire,
That the cause we love may never die
In the land of our Heart’s desire!

Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!
Let me suffer the pain and shame
I bow my head to their rage and hate,
And I take on myself the blame.

Let them do with my body what’er they will,
My spirit I offer to You,
That the faithful few who heard her call
May be spared to Roisin Dubh.

Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!
For Ireland weak with tears,
For the aged man of the clouded brow,
And the child of tender years;
For the empty homes of her golden plains,
For the hopes of her future, Too!
Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!
For the cause of Roisin Dubh.

The jury at the inquest into his death found that “Thomas Ashe, according to the medical evidence of Professor McWeeney, Sir Arthur Chance, and Sir Thomas Myles, died from heart failure and congestion of the lungs on the 25th September, 1917 and that his death was caused by the punishment of taking away from the cell bed, bedding and boots and allowing him to be on the cold floor for 50 hours, and then subjecting him to forcible feeding in his weak condition after hunger-striking for five or six days..”. Michael Collins organised the funeral and transformed it into a national demonstration against British misrule in Ireland ; armed Irish Republican Brotherhood Volunteers in full uniform flanked the coffin, followed by 9,000 other IRB Volunteers and approximately 30,000 people lined the streets. A volley of shots was fired over his grave, following which Michael Collins stated – “Nothing more remains to be said. That volley which we have just heard is the only speech which it is proper to make over the grave of a dead Fenian.”

The London-based ‘Daily Express’ newspaper perhaps summed it up best when it stated that what had happened had made ‘100,000 Sinn Féiners out of 100,000 constitutional nationalists.’ The level of support shown gave a boost to Irish republicans, and this was noted by the ‘establishment’ in Westminster – ‘The Daily Mail’ newspaper claimed that, a month earlier, Sinn Féin, despite its electoral successes, had been a waning force, and opined ‘it had no practical programme, for the programme of going further than anyone else cannot be so described. It was not making headway. But Sinn Féin today is pretty nearly another name for the vast bulk of youth in Ireland..’

Thomas Ashe, the first of twenty-two Irish republican hunger-strikers to die on the protest, began his hunger-strike on this date, 20th September, 100 years ago.

 

GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the ‘Frank Cahill Resource Centre’, one of the founders of ‘Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh’, the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A’Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was ‘And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh’. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

THE CO-OP.

Saturday came and with it the parcels. First thing, Paddy went out on his visit and, when he came back, he was in a great mood. “My ma says that the cake is definitely in the parcel.” “Right, that’s stage one of the plan up and running,” said Smig. “No, no, you don’t understand,” said Paddy, “I think the screws will let this one in.” “So do I”, answered Smig, “It’s covered in vaseline..”

Smig left the hut and left Paddy stewing in it. Later that afternoon we sat in the hut waiting on the parcel, when Paddy came in with a big grin on his face – “My parcel came and the cake’s all right.” “I’m not eating it anyway,” said Stuarty. “Why not?” asked Paddy. “Because the screws must have smelt the vaseline and let it in,” answered Stuarty. Paddy produced the cake and declared – “There’s no vaseline on it ; smell for yourself, it’s sound…” “I don’t know what vaseline smells like,” said Stuarty, and we all refused to eat the cake, much to Paddy’s annoyance.

He begged us to have a bit of cake but we wouldn’t. The funny thing about it was the plan was dependent on Paddy’s mother sending in a chocolate sandwich cake but when Paddy opened the parcel and took out the cake it was a one-layer florence cake. The co-op system was designed to create comradeship, mutual benefit and a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. But mainly to do onto others before they do it on you! (MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DATE (20TH SEPTEMBER) 97 YEARS AGO : IRISH REBEL CAPTURED IN DUBLIN BY BRITISH SOLDIERS.

Pictured, left – the ‘arrest’ by British forces of Irish republican Kevin Barry, in Upper Church Street in Dublin, on Monday 20th September, 1920 – 97 years ago on this date. On that morning, 18-year-old Kevin Barry had gone to Mass and received Holy Communion, then joined a party of IRA volunteers on Bolton Street in Dublin. Their orders were to ambush a British army truck as it picked up a delivery of bread from Monk’s Bakery at the junction of North King Street and Church Street and capture their weapons. The ambush was scheduled for 11am, which gave him enough time to take part in the operation and return to UCD in time for a medical examination he had at 2pm. The gun he was using jammed during the operation (he had left his own weapon in Carlow and was using a borrowed one) and he was forced to seek shelter – he rolled under the British Army truck and continued trying to free the jammed gun. His comrades left the scene as they were outnumbered and had lost the element of surprise, and Barry might very well have escaped capture in his hiding place had a local woman, a Mrs Garrett, who ran a coal and vegetable shop near the bakery, not shouted out to the driver of the British Army lorry that he shouldn’t move it as the person under it (Kevin Barry) could get run over. Barry was captured and placed in the back of the military lorry along with three dead or mortally wounded British soldiers and the poor woman blamed herself, as did some of her neighbours.

Kevin’s sister, Kathy, exonerated the woman from any blame for his capture – “Incidentally, I should mention that some months after his execution we were most distressed to hear that this woman had been driven mad and was in an asylum as a result of the blame attached to her by her neighbours. There was nothing we could usefully do about it beyond explaining where we could that, in Kevin’s own account of it to me on the day of his court martial, he was convinced that she cried out because she was afraid that the man under the lorry would be run over.”

In an affidavit drawn up in Mountjoy Prison days before his execution, he wrote – “I, Kevin Barry, of 58 South Circular Road, in the County of Dublin, Medical Student, aged 18 years and upwards solemnly and sincerely declare as follows: On the 20th of September 1920, I was arrested in Upper Church Street by a Sergeant of the 2nd Duke of Wellington’s regiment and was brought under escort to the North Dublin Union now occupied by military. I was brought into the guard room and searched. I was then moved to the defaulter’s room by an escort with a Sergeant-Major, who all belonged to 1st Lancashire Fusiliers. I was then hand-cuffed.

About 15 minutes after I was put into the defaulter’s room, two Commissioned Officers of the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers came in. They were accompanied by 3 Sergeants of the same unit. A military policeman who had been in the same room since I entered it remained. One of the officers asked me my name, which I gave. He then asked me for the names of my companions in the raid. I refused to give them. He tried to persuade me to give the names and I persisted in refusing. He then sent a Sergeant for a bayonet. When it was brought in the Sergeant was ordered by this officer to point the bayonet at my stomach. The same questions as to the names and addresses of my companions were repeated with the same results. The Sergeant was then ordered to turn my face to the wall and point the bayonet to my back. The sergeant then said he would run the bayonet into me if I did not tell. The bayonet was then removed and I was turned round again.

This officer then said that if I still persisted in this attitude he would turn me out to the men in the barrack square and he supposed I knew what that meant with the men in their present temper. I said nothing. He ordered the Sergeants to put me face down on the floor and twist my arm. I was pushed down onto the floor after my handcuffs were removed. When I lay on the floor one of the Sergeants knelt on the small of my back, the other two placed one foot each on my back and left shoulder and the man who knelt on me twisted my right arm, holding it by the wrist with one hand while he held my hair with the other to pull back my head. The arm was twisted from the elbow joint. This continued to the best of my knowledge for 5 minutes. It was very painful. The first officer was standing near my feet and the officer who accompanied him was still present. During the twisting of my arm the first officer continued to question me for the names and addresses of my companions and the names of my Company Commander or any other officer I knew. As I still refused to answer these questions I was let up and handcuffed.

A civilian came in and he repeated the same questions with the same results. He informed me that if I gave all the information I knew I could get off. I was then left in the company of the military policeman. The two officers, three sergeants and civilian all left together. I could certainly identify the officer who directed the proceedings and put the questions. I am not sure of the others except the sergeant with the bayonet. My arm was medically treated by an officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps attached to the North Dublin Union the following morning and by the prison hospital orderly afterwards for 4 or 5 days. I was visited by the Court Martial Officer last night and he read the confirmation of sentence of death by hanging to be executed on Monday next and I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing same to be true and by virtue of the Statutory Declarations Act, 1835.

Declared and subscribed before me at Mountjoy Prison in the County of the City of Dublin, 28 October, 1920
Signed Myles Keogh, A justice of the peace for said County.

Kevin Gerard Barry.”

On Halloween night, 1920 – the night before his execution – Kevin Barry was given a blue-leaded pencil and paper with which to write his last letter : “Dear Boys, I had quite a crowd of visitors today and a crowd from the college prayed and sang outside the gates but perhaps you were there. Well boys, we have seen some good times, and I have always considered myself lucky to have such a crowd of pals. It’s the only thing which makes it hard to go, the fact of leaving you chaps and other friends behind. Now I charge you thank anybody you know for me, who has had masses etc said. Everybody has been awfully decent and I can assure you I appreciate it. Also say just a few more prayers when I go over, and then you can rest. Your pal, Kevin.” As he was writing that last letter, Father Francis Browne SJ, a teacher at Belvedere College, cycled to the Vice Regal lodge in Dublin’s Phoenix Park to plead for Barry’s life, but to no avail.

18-year-old Kevin Barry was hanged in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin on the 1st November 1920, the first republican to be executed since the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Thanks for reading,
Sharon.


 


 


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‘BLACK NOISE’ USED ON IRA POW’S, 1930’s.

..’cause we only finished the raffle aftermath yesterday (Tue 12th Sept) and have LOADS of other stuff to do, including helping to assemble the ‘leaflet packs’ –

A total of 350 ‘leaflet packs’, comprising 1,250 printed items of a republican nature, will be distributed at the ‘Eve Rally’ on Sunday, 17th September 2017.

– for this event. But we couldn’t let this anniversary pass without mention :

ON THIS DATE (13TH SEPTEMBER) 81 YEARS AGO : TWENTY-FOUR YEAR OLD IRISH REPUBLICAN KILLS HIMSELF OVER MENTAL TORTURE BY FREE STATERS.

‘In fond and loving memory of Seán Glynn, Captain Mid-Limerick Brigade IRA, 69 Pennywell Road, Limerick, who died in Arbour Hill Detention Barracks, Dublin, Sunday 13th Sep 1936, aged 24 years. Jesus Mercy Mary help..’ – inscription on the grave (pictured, left) of Seán Glynn, who was born into a strong republican family in 1911 and, on leaving school, began work as a labourer. In 1930 he joined the IRA and was known to be a committed Volunteer. He rose through the ranks and soon became O/C of ‘B’ Company of the Mid-Limerick Brigade, a position previously held by his father, John Glynn, during the early 1920’s.

In 1936, the Free State government had banned the Wolfe Tone Commemoration at Bodenstown and ordered contingents of its police and troops to block all approaches to Bodenstown. In Limerick, approximately 30 republicans, including Seán Glynn, commandeered a Limerick County Council lorry and headed for Bodenstown. They were apprehended at Dunkerrin, County Offaly and subsequently sentenced to prison terms ranging from 6 to 18 months (Seán was sentenced to nine months imprisonment). The prisoners were committed to Arbour Hill Military Prison, where the Free State Army ran an exceptionally harsh regime, including a policy of strict silence (the screws actually wore rubber-soled shoes, to ensure that they could ‘appear as if from nowhere’ in an attempt to frighten the prisoners), which was brutally enforced. The Fianna Fail administration had warned that Arbour Hill “was no longer (sic) going to be a holiday camp or hotel for republican prisoners”.

Conditions in the prison were grim – Free State military guards kept the republican prisoners in solitary confinement and they were punished for trying to speak or otherwise communicate with each other ; the prison was said to be like a tomb, and the system was intended to drive men insane and in some cases succeeded. Several men never recovered from their months of solitude even if they did manage to preserve their sanity. These were the conditions that drove Seán Glynn, serving nine months for IRA membership – who had been in perfect mental health prior to his arrest – first insane and then, on Sunday, September 13th 1936 – 81 years ago, on this date – to take his own life (another IRA prisoner, Christy Aherne, had attempted to kill himself a few months earlier, for the same reason).

A subsequent inquest and commission of inquiry into his death found that he had been driven insane by the ‘silent-system’ in Arbour Hill. After his death, somewhat more humane (but by no means ‘pleasant’) conditions prevailed for the remaining prisoners. Two days after his death, Seán Glynn was buried in the Republican Plot in Mount St Laurence’s Cemetery in Limerick.

At 24 years of age, he was driven to take his own life on September 13th, 1936, by a Fianna Fail administration : driven to suicide by concocted prison conditions, Arbour Hill Barracks, Dublin. Rest In Peace.

Thanks for reading – hope to see some of ye at Croke Park this Sunday, 17th : I’ll be one of those on ‘leaflet duty’!

Sharon.


 


 


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NO PHYSICAL SCARS…

The IRA campaign, 1930’s : conditions in that prison were grim for the Irish republican prisoners – the reigning political regime had ordered the screws (military guards) to keep the republican prisoners in solitary confinement and to punish them if they attempted to speak or otherwise communicate with each other. The prison was said to be like a tomb- it was a prison system designed to drive men insane and in some cases it succeeded. Several men never recovered from the forced solitude even if some of them did manage to preserve their sanity. But an IRA prisoner, in his early 20’s, was to not only fall victim to that ‘silent system’ but to posthumously effect change within it, too…

(MORE ON WEDNESDAY, 13TH SEPTEMBER 2017).

Thanks for reading,
Sharon.


 


 


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ANNUAL EVE-OF-ALL-IRELAND REPUBLICAN RALLY 2017.

‘GAA : Target of British Normalisation.
This Year the annual All Ireland Rally will be at the door of Croke Park. On Sunday September 17th 2017, at 12 noon, republicans will gather at Croke Park to distribute leaflets highlighting the GAA top brass quisling actions in recent times. Everything from selling broadcasting rights of championship matches to the British run Sky Sports forcing Irish people to pay to view matches to the removal of Rule 21 and the RUC/PSNI and British Army setting up teams needs to be opposed.
Republican Sinn Féin will not stay silent, we have GAA members across the entire country sickened with the direction being taken. Next on the agenda of ‘normalisation’ will be the removal of the National Anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann, and the National Flag to appease British Loyalists. The GAA is for everyone in Ireland, it was founded side by side in the struggle for Irish independence. Whatever small degree was achieved the GAA stood out as a beacon of light of Irish culture, identity and community spirit. This is now being targetted by the counter-revolutionaries trying to bring about an ‘agreed Ireland’ fully welded to British constitutionalism…’
(from here.).

Change in format, this year, for the event – from O’Connell Street in Dublin city centre to the actual sports venue itself, Croke Park – but the objective remains the same ; to highlight the continuing unwelcome political and military presence by Westminster in this country and to garner further support for the continuing campaign highlighting the republican position that support for that unwelcome presence, from any quarter, will be protested against.

‘One of the largest public rallies seen in Dublin for years was held by Sinn Féin at the GPO on the eve of the All-Ireland Football Final. Headed by a Colour Party and a pipe band, a parade of more than 2,000 people marched from Parnell Square through the main city thoroughfare as a protest against the continued unjust imprisonment of Irishmen without charge or trial. Contingents from all over the country took part and many carried banners and placards including groups from England and Scotland. In the Ulster section was a strong representation of the Derry supporters who thronged the capital city for the Final. One placard they carried asked – “Why are Six-County Nationalists interned in the Curragh?” ‘ (From ‘An tÉireannach Aontaithe/The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1958).

SUNDAY, 17TH SEPTEMBER 2017, CROKE PARK, 12 NOON – see you there!

 

JOKER IN THE PACK…?

Padraig Flynn (left) has been facing the flak since he became Minister for the Environment. But Michael O’Higgins finds that nothing phases him. He retains the same certainty he had when saying quite different things. From ‘Magill’ magazine, May 1987.

He stresses how conscious he is of the need to improve Dublin – just because he is from the country, he says, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t regard it as his capital city. He regards it with the same sense of propriety that he regards ‘his’ Custom House and is, he says, acutely aware of the irony that responsibility for “restoring” it rests with him, a countryman.

He has taken to going for early morning strolls along O’Connell Street to see “what improvements” could be made and, one morning, a number of people recognised him and stopped to talk. They wanted to express their concern that a Nelson’s Pillar-type column would be re-erected on the street. The idea for the column came from the Metropolitan Streets Committee set up earlier this year by John Boland with the task of revitalising Dublin, and abolished by Padraig Flynn, as an unnecessary body.

He has taken a direct, personal interest in plans for the construction of banks, hotels, apartments and ‘centre city’ housing schemes on the disused 27 acre dock site adjacent to the Custom House. He has already had talks with Irish and international agencies who are interested in investing in the project but refuses to specify what international interests are involved. People can take his word for it. He wasn’t “talking to ghosts…” (MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DATE (6TH SEPTEMBER) 77 YEARS AGO : REPUBLICANS EXECUTED BY DE VALERA.

Tom Harte and Paddy McGrath (left), two Irish republicans executed on the 6th September 1940 – 77 years ago on this date – by a Free State firing squad, commanded (politically) by a man that once (allegedly) supported their objectives – Eamonn de Valera.

‘On 16 August 1940 the Special Branch raided 98a Rathgar Road in Dublin. The shop had been watched for some time and was thought to be an IRA training centre. In an effort to be first to catch the IRA, Sergeant Denny O’Brien decided to go in before his competitors in the Special Branch could get the credit and reward money from the slush fund, which was distributed periodically among zealous and particularly efficient officers. Inside the building Patrick McGrath, Tommy Harte and Tom Hunt were determined not to give up without a fight. Bursting out of the door firing revolvers and a Tommy gun, they cut down three Special Branch men, killing Sergeant Patrick McKeown and Detective Richard Hyland and wounding Detective Pat Brady. The three IRA volunteers raced down the street away from the stunned detectives who then opened fire and hit Harte. When McGrath went back to help him, both were arrested. Hunt managed to elude police until 22 August when he was arrested in a house on Gloucester Street.
The Military Court sentenced McGrath, Hunt and Harte to death. Despite appeals, and McGrath’s Easter Week record, only Hunt’s sentence was commuted. McGrath and Harte were executed by firing squad in Mountjoy on 6 September 1940…’
(from here).

And this (from here) ‘On 16th August 1940, Special Branch officers, led by Denny O’Brien, stormed 98a Rathgar Road, guns blazing, hoping to get reward money from a slush fund used to encourage similar raids against known IRA bases. In the ensuing gun battle, two branch men were killed, Sergeant McKeown and Detective Hyland, and a third wounded. An IRA staff officer, Thomas Harte from Lurgan, was wounded and captured along with a senior IRA officer Paddy McGrath who had broken free but returned to assist Harte…according to Donnacha Ó Beacháin (in ‘Destiny of the Soldiers’), there were no autopsies held on McKeown or Hyland. An internal inquiry into the shooting was reportedly suppressed by Gerry Boland, the Minister for Justice…nevertheless, McGrath and Harte were tried by the Military Tribunal, which could only impose a death penalty and had just had its right of appeal removed…without an autopsy or forensic evidence, there was no attempt to establish who had fired shots (and the suppressed internal inquiry was claimed to have identified that McKeown and Hyland were killed by ‘friendly’ fire’)…’

Tom Harte was born in Lurgan, County Armagh, on the 14th of May, 1916 (the day before the trial of Roger Casement was to begin in London – he was charged with ‘high treason’ for his part in the Easter Rising), and had three brothers and two sisters. He received his primary education in St Peters School in Lurgan and, on leaving there, became an apprentice painter to Charlie McIntyre. He joined the IRA and went to England as part of the ‘Expeditionary Force’ to take part in the bombing campaign – he was in London in 1939 with Arthur Conway when he was pulled in for questioning by the British police. He told them his name was Tom Green, from Baileborough in Cavan, but was still deported to Dublin. Once back in Ireland, he worked as an organiser for the GHQ Staff of the IRA, and was wounded when the Staters raided a shop at 98a Rathgar Road in Dublin on the 15th of August, 1940. He was executed, at 24 years of age, in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin by a Fianna Fail-organised firing squad on September 6th, 1940 – 77 years ago on this date. In his last letter, which was addressed to his mother, he wrote –

“I am writing my last letter to you, because I thought more of you than any other person on earth..you know I was always strongly republican, was always thinking out ways and means of furthering republican ideals..if I fought for my country, it was for the poor downtrodden people of Ireland..I knew I never showed my feelings much at any time, but you were always loved just the same..I am going to finish now, asking you to remember me as a son you can be proud of. Say farewell to all for me. Goodbye and God bless you all, your loving son, Tom.”
In 1948, the remains of Tom Harte were re-interred in the Republican Plot at St. Colemans Cemetery in Lurgan, County Armagh, following an oration by Ruaidhrí Ó Drisceoil of Cork, who finished his speech with the following poem –

‘Prepare once more, march forth again
to fight and play your part
in Ireland’s fight for Ireland’s right
like Captain Thomas Harte.’

Paddy McGrath was born into an old Dublin republican family and took part in the 1916 Rising, as did two of his brothers. He was sent to Frongoch Internment Camp after the Rising and served his time there with, among others, Michael Collins, Gerry Boland (who signed the execution order on Paddy in 1940) and Dinny O’Brien (who, years later, as a member of the Free State ‘Broy Harriers’, was to lead the raid on Rathgar Road in Dublin , in August 1940, in which Paddy McGrath was arrested). Following the Treaty of Surrender in 1922, Paddy took the republican side, as he did in the Civil War ; indeed, he carried a bullet in his chest from a British soldier, when he was shot at the GPO in 1916 – it was too close to his heart to be removed. He undertook a hunger-strike in Mountjoy Prison with Dick MacCarthy, Jer Daly and Jack Lynch to obtain political status and they were released, after 42 days,unconditionally. Paddy was brought to a shop in Rathgar Road in Dublin on August 15th 1940, by the then IRA Chief of Staff, Stephen Hayes, for a meeting with Tom Harte and Tom Hunt ; the meeting was raided by Free State forces, led by ex-IRA man Dinny O’Brien. Paddy McGrath escaped but, instead of making a run for it which he could have, he went back to comfort his friend, Tom Harte, who had been shot. The two of them were arrested together and were later put to death together by a Free State firing squad.
Tom McGrath was known to be an uncompromising Irish republican who rejected ‘positions of power’ which were offered to him by de Valera and would not have appreciated the fact that his sister, Josephine, wrote a ‘mercy letter’ to de Valera in August 1940, in which she stated – “..it is unbelievable that I should have to appeal for my brother’s life to you, who was once his comrade-in-arms..”

A well-known Irish republican of the time (and still remembered by the Movement to this day), Brian O’Higgins (pictured, left), wrote in the 1950 edition of ‘The Wolfe Tone Annual’

“On September 18th 1948, the bodies of Patrick McGrath, Thomas Harte, George Plant, Richard Goss, Maurice O’Neill and Charles Kerins were disinterred in prison yards and given to their comrades and relatives for re-burial among their own. These men were condemned to death and put to death as criminals, as outlaws, as enemies of Ireland. Today, that judgement and verdict is reversed, even by those who were and are their opponents, and they are acknowledged to be what we have always claimed them to have been – true comrades of Tone, of Emmet, of Mitchel, of the Fenians, and of all the heroic dead of our own day and generation. There was no bitterness in their hearts towards any man or group of men, no meanness in their minds, no pettiness or brutality in their actions. They were, and are, worthy to rank with the greatest and noblest of our dead, and the younger men we salute and pray for and do homage to today are worthy to be their comrades.
The only shame to be thought of in connection with those republicans is that Irishmen slew them and slandered them, as Irishmen had slain and slandered the men of 1922, for the ‘crime’ of being faithful soldiers of the Republic of Ireland. Let us remember that shame only as an incentive to action and conduct that will make recurrence of it impossible ever again. Wolfe Tone built his plan for true independence on the resistance tradition of all the centuries from the beginning of the conquest to his own day, and these men who were his faithful followers, knew no plan but his would ever end English domination in Ireland.

Those who would make all Ireland free must follow in his and their footsteps or fail. Men talk foolishly today, as they and others have talked for many futile years, of ‘declaring’ the Republic of Ireland. There is no need to declare it. Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet founded it and made it known to the world. Daniel O’Connell reviled and repudiated it, but John Mitchel and Fintan Lalor stood beneath its banner and gave it their allegiance. The Fenians made it articulate and preserved it through two generations until the men and women of 1916 proclaimed it in arms. The whole people of Ireland accepted it a few years later, giving it the most unanimous vote that has ever been cast in this country, and it was established and declared on January 21st, 1919. It has never been dis-established since, but it has been suppressed by falsehood and by force, and it is suppressed at this moment. Against that force and falsehood, against that unjust and unlawful suppression, the men we honour today – Patrick McGrath, Thomas Harte, George Plant, Richard Goss, Maurice O’Neill and Charles Kerins – did battle unto death. Their blood cries out for only one vengeance – the restoration of the suppressed Republic of Ireland.”

Those two brave Irish republican soldiers were executed by their former comrades on this date, 6th September, 77 years ago (incidentally, Paddy McGrath was de Valera’s best man at his wedding…).

 

PERCEPTIONS…

“We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all.” – So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for ‘Northern Ireland’, last July in ‘The London Evening Standard’ newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from ‘Iris’ magazine, Easter 1991. (‘1169′ comment : *’August’ as in ‘ dignified and impressive’? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway…)

The continued lack of an Irish Press Office to present the Irish position to the world, means that events in Ireland – the plight of Irish citizens, scandals like the Stalker-Sampson report etc – are never related to the world from an Irish viewpoint. The Irish viewpoint is thus ignored and in some way we are now ashamed of it. The escalated, incessant harassment of Irish citizens by the British troops gets little or no coverage in the southern media.

The media is paranoically anxious not to be seen to be siding with Sinn Féin, just as their counterparts were in 1914-1922. It is as if Irish perception of Irish-related events signifies nothing, as if the Irish reality eludes us. As if in some way we do not want to take full responsibility for our own being, but instead are still hiding behind the ‘poor little nation’ cushion. We lack nerve, we lack audacity, we lack national pride. I do not speak of jingoism, but of a solid strengthening mórtas cine (pride in one’s heritage). This the English have never lost – who in Ireland talks of Irish values as being something we have historically found out to be good for us? We sadly lack what the English call ‘backbone’.

Irish politicians, like a lot of others in England, Scotland and Wales, were anti-Mrs Thatcher’s policies, but no one in Ireland discusses Tom Nairn’s scenario of the possible break-up of the British hegemony, the possible secession of Scotland and the effect this might have here. (MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DATE (6TH SEPTEMBER) 204 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF A ‘HOME RULER’.

ISAAC BUTT (1813-1879) POLITICIAN, BARRISTER AND PHILOSOPHER (pictured, left).

‘Isaac Butt was born in Glenfin, Donegal, on the 6th September 1813 – 204 years ago on this date. His father, the Reverend Robert Butt, became Rector of St. Mary’s Church of Ireland, Stranorlar in 1814 so Isaac spent his childhood years in Stranorlar. His mother’s maiden name was Berkeley Cox and she claimed descendency from the O’Donnells. When Isaac was aged twelve he went as a boarder to the Royal School Raphoe and at the age of fifteen entered Trinity College Dublin.

He trained as a barrister and became a member of both the Irish Bar and the English Bar. He was a conservative lawyer but after the famine in the 1840’s became increasingly liberal. In 1852 he became Tory MP at Westminster representing Youghal, Co. Cork and in 1869 he founded the Tenant League to renew the demand for tenant rights. He was a noted orator who spoke fervently for justice, tolerance, compassion and freedom. He always defended the poor and the oppressed.

He started the Home Rule Movement in 1870 and in 1871 was elected MP for Limerick, running on a Home Rule ticket. He founded a political party called The Home Rule Party in 1873. By the mid 1870s Butt’s health was failing and he was losing control of his party to a section of its members who wished to adopt a much more aggressive approach than he was willing to accept. In 1879 he suffered a stroke from which he failed to recover and died on the 5th May in Clonskeagh, Dublin. He was replaced by William Shaw who was succeeded by Charles Stewart Parnell in 1880. Isaac Butt became known as “The Father of Home Rule in Ireland”. At his express wish he is buried in a corner of Stranorlar Church of Ireland cemetery, beneath a tree where he used to sit and dream as a boy.’ (from here.)

On the 18th November, 1873, a three-day conference was convened in Dublin to discuss the issue of ‘home rule’ for Ireland. The conference had been organised, in the main, by Isaac Butt’s then 3-year-old ‘Home Government Association’, and was attended by various individuals and small localised groups who shared an interest in that subject. Isaac Butt was a well-known Dublin barrister who was apparently viewed with some suspicion by ‘his own type’ – Protestants – as he was a pillar of the Tory society in Ireland before recognising the ills of that creed and converting, politically, to the ‘other side of the house’ – Irish nationalism, a ‘half way house’, if even that – then and now – between British imperialism and Irish republicanism ie Isaac Butt and those like him made it clear that they were simply agitating for an improved position for Ireland within the ‘British empire’, as opposed to Irish republicans who were demanding then, and now, a British military and political withdrawal from Ireland.

Over that three-day period the gathering agreed to establish a new organisation, to be known as the ‘Home Rule League’,and the minutes from the conference make for interesting reading as they highlight/expose the request for the political ‘half way house’, mentioned above – ‘At twelve o’clock, on the motion of George Bryan, M.R, seconded by Hon. Charles Ffrench, M.P., the Chair was taken by William Shaw, M.R. On the motion of the Rev. P. Lavelle, seconded by Laurence Waldron, D.L., the following gentlemen were appointed Honorary Secretaries : — John O.Blunden, Philip Callan M.P, W.J.O’Neill Daunt, ER King Harman and Alfred Webb. ER King Harman read the requisition convening the Conference, as follows : —

We, the undersigned feel bound to declare our conviction that it is necessary to the peace and prosperity of Ireland, and would be conducive to the strength and stability of the United Kingdom, that the right of domestic legislation on all Irish affairs should be restored to our country and that it is desirable that Irishmen should unite to obtain that restoration upon the following principles : To obtain for our country the right and privilege of managing our own affairs, by a Parliament assembled in Ireland, composed of her Majesty the Sovereign, and the
Lords and Commons of Ireland.

To secure for that Parliament, under a Federal arrangement, the right of legislating for, and regulating all matters relating to the internal affairs of Ireland, and control over Irish resources and revenues, subject to the obligation of contributing our just proportion of the Imperial expenditure. To leave to an Imperial Parliament the power of dealing with all questions affecting the Imperial Crown and Government, legislation regarding the Colonies and other dependencies of the Crown, the relations of the United Empire with Foreign States, and all matters appertaining to the defence and the stability of the Empire at large….’ (from here.)

The militant ‘Irish Republican Brotherhood’ (IRB) was watching those developments with interest and it was decided that Patrick Egan and three other members of the IRB Supreme Council – John O’Connor Power, Joseph Biggar and John Barry – would join the ‘Home Rule League’ with the intention of ‘steering’ that group in the direction of the IRB. Other members of the IRB were encouraged to join the ‘League’ as well, and a time-scale was set in which to completely infiltrate the ‘League’ – three years. However, that decision to infiltrate Isaac Butt’s organisation was to backfire on the Irish Republican Brotherhood : the ‘three-year’ period of infiltration ended in 1876 and in August 1877 the IRB Supreme Council held a meeting at which a resolution condemning the over-involvement in politics (ie political motions etc rather than military action) of IRB members was discussed ; after heated arguments, the resolution was agreed and passed by the IRB Council, but not everyone accepted that decision and Patrick Egan, John O’Connor Power, Joseph Biggar and John Barry refused to accept the decision and all four men resigned from the IRB.

Isaac Butt died in 1879 and, within twelve months, Charles Stewart Parnell was elected as leader of the ‘Home Rule League’ and it became a more organised body – two years later, Parnell renamed it the ‘Irish Parliamentary Party’ and the rest, as they say, is history…

 

GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the ‘Frank Cahill Resource Centre’, one of the founders of ‘Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh’, the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A’Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was ‘And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh’. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

THE CO-OP.

Paddy kept hammering away for hours about how he was convinced the screws had stole the cake. “Paddy, forget it, said Stuarty, “we’ll find out on your next visit.” Smig spoke then – “I just had a brilliant idea. Paddy, write to your mother and tell her to get the same cake as she got this week (chocolate sandwich), take the top off, scrape off the cream and smear vaseline all over it, then replace the top part and send it in. That’ll sicken the screws who are stealing your cakes.”

“I don’t know,” said Paddy, “why ruin a good cake?” “What’s the difference – we’re not going to see it or taste it anyway!”, added ‘Lettuce-Black’, one of our lads. The OC was informed of the plan – “There’s an evil genius in our midst”, he said, and then turned to me and whispered in my ear “You’re one bad bastard!”

The letter was written by Paddy, albeit reluctantly and, the following Monday morning, it was transferred from Honky’s Y-Fronts to Alice’s bloomers and smuggled out on a visit. We awaited developments… (MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (WEDNESDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER 2017)…

..we should be just about finished our multitasking job – this Sunday coming (the 10th September) will find me and the raffle team in our usual monthly venue on the Dublin/Kildare border, running a 650-ticket raffle for the
Dublin Comhairle of RSF.

Work for this event began yesterday, Tuesday 5th September, when the five of us started to track down the ticket sellers and arrange for the delivery/collection of their ticket stubs and cash and, even though the raffle itself will be, as stated, held on Sunday 10th September, the ‘job’ is not complete until the following night, when the usual ‘raffle autopsy’ is held. The time constraints imposed by same will mean that our normal Wednesday post will more than likely not be collated in time for next week (13th September) and it’s looking like it will be between that date and the Wednesday following same before we get the time to put a post together. But check back here anyway – sure you never know what might catch our fancy between this and then, time permitting…!

Thanks for reading,
Sharon.


 


 


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STATE AGENTS WITHOUT A CONSCIENCE…

On a Friday in August, in Dublin, in 1940, an ex-IRA man was in charge of an armed raiding party of Special Branch men as they raided a house, hoping to capture a few republicans – a ‘reward’ per prisoner was on offer to the raiding party by the Leinster House administration, to be paid from a special slush fund which was established to ‘encourage’ State operatives to be more ‘productive’ in that regard. But the republicans they targetted that day were also armed, and fought back – two Special Branch men were shot dead, and another one was wounded. One of the republicans was wounded, and captured, as was one of his comrades. The State refused to hold autopsies on the dead Branch men, but did hold an ‘internal inquiry’ into the gun battle. They then suppressed the findings of that inquiry, which was said to have shown that the State ‘security’ men were killed by ‘friendly fire’. However, the two captured republicans were put on ‘trial’ by a State military tribunal, which could only impose a death penalty, and were shot dead by State representatives…
(MORE ON WEDNESDAY 6TH SEPTEMBER 2017).

See you then!

Thanks, Sharon.


 


 


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ON THIS DATE (30TH AUGUST) 176 YEARS AGO : A NEW NATIONALIST VOICE IS ‘PRESSED’ INTO ACTION.

The front page of the first copy of ‘The Cork Examiner’ newspaper (left), which was produced on Monday, 30th August 1841 – 176 years ago on this date.
‘The paper was founded by John Francis Maguire under the title ‘The Cork Examiner’ in 1841 in support of the Catholic emancipation and tenant rights work of Daniel O’Connell…the first issue of the newspaper appeared on 30 August 1841. Maguire was a barrister and an MP who supported an independent parliament for Ireland. From its inception, ‘The Cork Examiner’ was an advocate of constitutional nationalism. The newspaper was originally an evening paper which appeared three times weekly…the newspaper’s printing presses printed the First National Loan for the Sinn Féin Finance Minister, Michael Collins, in 1919, leading to the British authorities briefly shutting down the paper. Ironically, the I.R.A. damaged the newspaper’s printing presses in 1920, which were again destroyed by the anti-Treaty I.R.A. in 1922…’ (from here.)

The newspaper had also found itself in difficulty in 1919 when it was closed down by Westminster for two days, in reprisal for it having published a Sinn Féin advertisement asking for donations towards a £250,000 fund that the republican organisation was trying to raise to further its objectives, and had similar trials and tribulations the following year, 1920 : when Westminster failed to get the results it wanted in the 15th January 1920 Elections in Ireland, it went to ‘Plan B’ – they called in British Army General ‘Sir’ Nevil Macready and appointed him as the
‘Commander-in-Chief’ of the their forces in Ireland.

General ‘Sir’ Nevil ‘Make Ready’ Macready, one of many British bully-boys inflicted on the Irish.

Macready was known to be in favour of martial law and the imposition of a complete military dictatorship on the island and, in December 1920, he told his political masters in Westminster that his “military governors” in Ireland had been given ‘permission’ “to inflict punishments” on the local population following any IRA operation in that local area –
“Punishments will only be carried out on the authority of the Infantry Brigadier who, before taking action, will satisfy himself that the people concerned were, owing to their proximity to the outrage or their known political tendencies, implicated in the outrage…the punishment will be carried out as a Military Operation and the reason why it is being done will be publicly proclaimed.” (‘1169’ comment – this was, in effect, carte blanche to the British military to do as they liked in Ireland.) However, as a ‘pr stunt’, in the belief that he could portray himself as something other than the vicious bastard he was, Macready implemented a policy by which those to be ‘punished’ were given one hours notice to remove any valuable foodstuffs, hay or corn, but not furniture, from their homes, which
were then reduced to rubble by the use of explosives. However , generous to a fault as Westminster was (and is…) to us Irish, a slightly different variation of this punishment was applied to those who lived in terraced houses – the furniture was to be removed from the dwelling and burned in the street!

On the 3rd January 1921, in Middleton, Cork, the British reduced seven houses to rubble “in official reprisal” for an IRA ambush carried out in the area, on 29th December 1920, in which three RIC/Tan members were killed. ‘The Cork Examiner’ newspaper carried a report of that particular IRA operation –

‘Attack on Police at Midleton.
Followed by Ambush.
Two constables dead.

Closing on to ten o’clock at night when the police patrol standing at a corner of the main street were attacked by a large number of men who fired on them from three directions. The firing was of rapid but short duration. The ten policemen were considerably outnumbered, and taken as they were, completely by surprise, they had little
time to put up a defence. One of them, Mullen, was shot by one of the first few shots discharged. He was killed instantly. A telephone call was made to Cork, and some lorries of police and ambulances set out and had nearly got to Midleton by 11.30pm. The procession of lorries and ambulances, it is stated, had their way further impeded about two miles from the town, by obstacles, such as heavy branches of trees, lying on the roadway. They were just within two miles of the town, at a point where boreens cut off the main road, when fire was opened on the last lorry.
A sharp encounter ensued. In all, three policemen died as a result of the shooting.’

It was also on that same date (ie 3rd January 1921) that ‘The Cork Examiner’ newspaper printed a statement from the British, in which they outlined their position and intentions regarding that IRA attack – that
statement declared that the “authorities” were going to destroy some nearby houses “as the inhabitants were bound to have known of the ambush and attack, and they neglected to give any information either to the military or police authorities.” Seven houses were chosen and the families in them were given one hour to remove any money or valuables, but not furniture. The houses were then destroyed as, indeed, was Macready’s reputation in this country (and that of his kind in Westminster) so much so that he had failed so miserably in encouraging locals to support* him, his troops and their ideals that he had no reason
not to try and bully and intimidate the locals into supporting him and his fellow thugs. True to form for all imperialists. (*Macready asked influential trade union leader Tom Foran to assist him to “get a grip” in Ireland, to which Foran stated – “William O’Brien, kidnapped by your predecessor and deported, is the person best qualified to give the most authentic information respecting the Labour movement in Ireland…it is useless attempting to ‘get a grip on the conditions in this country’ until you let go your grip on the citizens of this country..” – Macready obviously ignored that good advice and attempted to do the opposite.)

Anyway – in 1996, in a move to increase readership, its title was changed from ‘The Cork Examiner’ to ‘The Examiner’ and, in 2000, it became ‘The Irish Examiner’, and is still ‘making headlines’ to this day!

 

JOKER IN THE PACK…?

Padraig Flynn (left) has been facing the flak since he became Minister for the Environment. But Michael O’Higgins finds that nothing phases him. He retains the same certainty he had when saying quite different things. From ‘Magill’ magazine, May 1987.

But despite Padraig Flynn’s insistence that this was no more than a clarification, £30 million had to be found from the existing allocation to the Department of the Environment to cover grants for which the government had not made provision in the budget. The budget also cut the level of subvention to local authorities, with the result that councils are having to introduce service charges or, in the case of Dublin City Council, having to consider re-introducing domestic rates.

The local authorities claim that the need to take such measures results from inadequate funding from the Department of the Environment, but Padraig Flynn absolves himself of any responsibility – he takes objections, condemnations and clarifications in his long stride. Nothing appears to ruffle him and everything he utters is ‘common sense’. He has a booming voice that doesn’t need amplification, which he developed thirty years ago making speeches for other people outside churches “facing into the Atlantic against a Force 8 gale”. The illustrations in his colourful speech all refer back to his roots.

But here he is now, “a country man in the Custom House”, pacing the expansive floor of his office, talking of his plans for Dublin. He plans to landscape the gardens of the Custom House and if offices and banks and the like took steps such as those he proposes to take with “my building”, Dublin would be a much more attractive city… (MORE LATER).

 

PERCEPTIONS…

“We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all.” – So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for ‘Northern Ireland’, last July in ‘The London Evening Standard’ newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from ‘Iris’ magazine, Easter 1991. (‘1169′ comment : *’August’ as in ‘ dignified and impressive’? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway…)

The recent economic situation and the return of emigration have brought back our traditional humility, our lack of assurance, our chamelon-like ease of adopting commonwealth-type identity abroad – why else do the Irish diplomats speak with English-style accents and neither know nor use Irish?

The bourgeois consensus of ‘whatever you say, say nothing’ is not new ; it was lampooned by James Joyce at the beginning of this century – he called people like that “the gratefully oppressed” in ‘Dubliners’ and it has regrown in force here since the early 1980’s. It means that awkward questions are not asked, and means that the received wisdom is that Ireland must not be seen to stand up in any way to the British government, “haranguing each other across the Irish Sea”.

Instead we have the ‘Anglo-Irish Agreement’ (‘1169’ comment – which was one of four such treaties signed between Dublin and London politicians since the 1920’s, none of which sought or included a date for a British political and military withdrawal from this country) that effectively neutralises any complaint by the simple expedient of bureaucratising it, thus rendering any public Irish government stance or action in defence of Irish citizens outside the state unnecessary, unfortunate and positively ‘ill-mannered’…. (MORE LATER).

 

‘HAUNTED’ BY A TROUBLED CONSCIENCE , MAYBE? NO, NOT LIKELY…

‘The Canadian ambassador to Ireland, Kevin Vickers (pictured, left, with a handgun in his right hand*), has been reported as saying he heard strange noises on more than one occasion at his Dublin residence (Glanmire House). “Ghosts. I never believed in ghosts. Until I arrived here.” said Mr Vickers…the incidents included the sound of a heavy chain falling on the ground, as well as footsteps on the stairs. “I was sitting watching TV when all of a sudden I heard a heavy chain fall on the floor in the dining room,” he wrote. “I immediately went there and there was nothing on the floor,” said Mr Vickers…’ (from here.)

Mr Vickers is, apparently, a man of action who is seemingly considered (by some) to be ‘a national hero in his own country, having shot dead a gunman who stormed the Canadian House of Commons and threatened a massacre in October 2014… (the [other] gunman) found his way into the parliament building (and) was shot and killed by Mr Vickers who was then the sergeant-at-arms in the parliament…’

This ex-Canadian Mountie answered the call of his duty again in Grangegorman, Dublin, in May 2016, while attending (as a guest, not part of the security detail) an event organised by Free Staters to commemorate the deaths of British soldiers in the 1916 Rising, which was a joint Westminster/Leinster House affair, complete with colour parties from both the FS Army and the British Army. A protester objected to the obvious hypocrisy involved in such a gig and was jumped-on by Mr Vickers who, fortunately, was unarmed at the time. He was then and is now also ‘unarmed’ in relation to the historical hypocrisies involved, as his own country has had its ‘troubles’ with the British and his own family were forced to flee Ireland due to An Gorta Mór, a British-inspired ‘answer’ to its ‘Irish problem’!

However, not everyone is prepared to give this man and his ‘ghost story’ a hero’s welcome : ‘The question then becomes, if the ghost of an Irish republican hero has visited Glanmire, is he haunting the house or is he haunting ambassador Kevin Vickers? Irish realtor Keith Lowe, who sold Glanmire in 2005 after its long-time residents died, had also never heard of anything strange there. “I think we are entering the realm of fantasy!!!” Lowe said in an email on Friday. “In all my 30-plus years of real estate in Dublin I have never come across a buyer or seller complaining of a house being haunted, so excuse me when I laugh a little.” Lowe said prior to 2005, the family who lived at Glanmire had been there “for generations.” It was a stunning place, he said, with a greenhouse and gardens front and back. Asked again, for good measure, whether he’d heard anything odd during his tours of the house, Lowe said he hadn’t. “I think you are losing the run of yourself altogether. Stay off the brandy.” ‘

‘Is the Irish republican ghost haunting the house or haunting Kevin Vickers?’ The latter, I’d guess, as the former has some merit attached to it.

 

GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the ‘Frank Cahill Resource Centre’, one of the founders of ‘Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh’, the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A’Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was ‘And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh’. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

THE CO-OP.

“Where did you get that cake?” asked Stuarty. “In my parcel yesterday”, answered the OC. “Don’t tell me the screws have stole his cake again,” asked the OC, looking at Paddy. “Well, it’s Saturday and he’s no cake,” I replied, “what do you think?” “How many cakes is that now, Paddy?”, asked the OC. “How long are you in our co-op, Paddy”, I queried. “Two years”, answered Paddy.

“Well, that’s one hundred and four stolen cakes”, I reckoned. “Are you sure it came in?” asked the OC. “Definitely ; his mother swore on St Anthony’s Prayer”, said Stuarty. “Is that significant?” asked the OC. “Well, it was a stack of bibles two weeks ago”, said Stuarty. “That’s good enough for me,” exclaimed the OC, looking at Paddy – “But before I go out here and start murder, are you 100% sure the cake was there?”

“Look,” said Paddy, “let me find out for definite from my ma before we do anything hasty.” “Maybe we should, Paddy”, said the OC, “just to be on the safe side…” (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.


 


 


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ON THIS DATE (23RD AUGUST) 219 YEARS AGO : FRENCH BATTLECRY ON IRISH SOIL.

“UNION, LIBERTY, THE IRISH REPUBLIC!” – the words and ideals proclaimed in Ballina, County Mayo, on the 23rd August 1798 – 219 years ago on this date – by French General Jean Joseph Amable Humbert, who had landed with 1,090 seasoned French troops (including 80 officers) at Cill Chuimin (Kilcummin) on the 22nd August.

Three expeditions to aid the ‘United Irishmen’ were authorised by the French Directory in July of 1798 (‘In 1791, the newly installed French government offered military assistance to any group who wanted to overthrow their own King. This was very worrying for the surrounding monarchies of England, Spain, Germany and Austria..’ – from here) and command of the first and smallest of these was given to General Jean Joseph Amable Humbert (pictured, left). His small fleet of three frigates, under the command of Chef de Division André Daniel Savary, landed at Cill Chuimin (on August 22nd, 1798).

They marched by night across the mountains in torrents of rain (a distance of about 18 miles which, it has been estimated, would take maybe six hours to do on foot) and then a surprise attack at dawn ; and a masterly assault by General Jean Sarrazin (who later disgraced himself) on the British ‘defenders’ left flank gave warning of what was to come : brave Mayo men faced pounding artillery with nothing but pikes hammered out by skilled blacksmiths who had worked night and day for five days.

‘Erin’s sons be not faint-hearted
Welcome! Sing then Ca ira
From Killala they are marching
To the tune of Viva La!

They come, they come, see myriads come
Of Frenchmen to relieve us ;
Seize, seize the pike, beat, beat the drum
They come, my friends, to save us.’

To confuse the enemy further, General Humbert suddenly changed tactics – he launched his full reserve, and changed from closed formation to open file. Rising up in his saddle, and brandishing his sword, he gave the order , in Irish – “Eirinn go Brach!” The drums sounded the ‘pas de charge’ and a blue line, now within a few paces of the British troops, regrouped back into closed lines and moved swiftly forward , their bayonets gleaming in the morning sun, a fierce and threatening determination in their countenances. The famed army of the French Revolution was here in the fields of Mayo : veterans of many victorious campaigns on the continent, men who had endured much and who believed passionately in their cause. They had measured their enemy and marked them down as ‘the defenders and upholders of tyranny and injustice’. The Sasanaigh and their Irish militias and Yeomen hesitated, and then turned their backs and fled in terror.

In Humbert’s footsteps we commemorate today
in 1798 they came our way.
Arriving in three ships, the British flags flew
to conceal a plan that no British man knew.
At Kilcummin they landed, Irish pikemen joined the might,
and together they marched with Killala in sight.
The town was captured, Bishop Stock’s palace was made
the Franco-Irish headquarters where new plans were laid.

On August 23rd Ballina was the next plan,
between Moyne and Rosserk abbeys’ the British, they ran.
The British we’ll beat them, Érin go Bragh,
as they made their way to Béal an Átha.

They reached Ballina August 24th that morning,
but before the British departed they left a warning.
They captured Patrick Walsh and hung him from a crane,
the British departed, a United Irishman slain.

In Ballina the French marched through Barr na Dearg and Bóthar na Sop
with straw torches and a mattress, their way was lit up.
The people excited, a sight to behold,
as the flames of the night lit up buttons of gold.

From Ballina they left to Castlebar they go,
and marched through the mountains, a route the British didn’t know.
Humbert captured Castlebar and the British they flee
in panic leaving behind cannon and artillery.

But at Ballinamuck Humbert faced a tough fight,
General Lake and troops behind him and Lord Cornwallis on his right.
The British overtook them, the battle no more,
many Irish were butchered, the French returned to their shore.

In memory of 1798, Ballina streets renamed,
Walsh, Tone, Teeling and Humbert who came to bring victory to Ireland, make her shores free,
to make her the ruler of her own country.

(Ann Marie Murphy, from here.)

 

36TH ANNUAL HUNGER STRIKE COMMEMORATION FOR PEACE WITH JUSTICE : SATURDAY 26TH AUGUST 2017, 3PM, EAST END, BUNDORAN.

On Saturday 26th August 2017, the Bundoran/Ballyshannon H-Block Committee will be holding a rally in Bundoran, Donegal, to commemorate the 36th Anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike and in memory of the 22 Irish republicans that have died on hunger strike between 1917 and 1981 ; those participating have been asked to form-up at 3pm at the East End. All genuine Irish republicans are welcome to attend!

Unseen Sorrow. (By Bobby Sands.)
Her tears fall in the darkness as the rain falls in the night,
silvery tears like silvery rain, hidden out of sight,
the stars fall from her eyes like floating petals from the sky,
is there no one in all this world who hears this woman cry?

A simple little floating dreamy thought has stired this woman’s heart,
the golden sleepy dream of yesterdays before they were apart,
what comfort can there be found for a petal so fair and slim

alone in a forest dark of sorrow she weeps again for him?

Warm silver rolling tears blemish a once complexion fair,
that once shown in the fairest radiance midst a cloak of golden hair,
and the children whimper and cry for a father’s care
and love they’ve never known.

Who sees their little tears of innocent years,
as the winds of time are blown?
What sorrow will you know tonight,
when all the worlds asleep,
when through the darkness comes the wind
that cuts the heart so deep.

For there is no one there to dry your tears,
or your children’s tears who cling around your frock,
when there has been another bloody slaughter,
in the dungeons of H Block.

 

JOKER IN THE PACK…?

Padraig Flynn (left) has been facing the flak since he became Minister for the Environment. But Michael O’Higgins finds that nothing phases him. He retains the same certainty he had when saying quite different things. From ‘Magill’ magazine, May 1987.

At a meeting of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party held the day after the budget, deputies were angry about the abrupt ending of the schemes under which people had entered into legally binding agreements under the impression they were to benefit from grants. It was widely reported that Charles Haughey told his deputies “to cut out the codology and to stay out of the kitchen if they couldn’t stand the heat.” Padraig Flynn, always convinced and convincing, says he has no recollection of a stormy meeting.

The following weekend, the government announced that anybody with verbal approval of grants or who had entered into contracts with the legitimate expectation that they were entitled to a grant would be paid it. The media described it as a u-turn. Fianna Fáil claimed it was a “clarification”.

Padraig Flynn is visibly wounded and upset at any suggestion that the government’s position after that cabinet meeting represented anything other than a clarification. He had planned to explain the situation himself during his budget speech in the Dáil (sic – Leinster House) the following week : as far as he was concerned, the army of inspectors going around giving verbal approvals (‘Carry on now, mam, you are getting your grant and good luck to you…’) were the arm of the minister out on site. He wasn’t going to invite 134,000 people awaiting home improvement grants to sue him… (MORE LATER).

 

PERCEPTIONS…

“We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all.” – So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for ‘Northern Ireland’, last July in ‘The London Evening Standard’ newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from ‘Iris’ magazine, Easter 1991. (‘1169′ comment : *’August’ as in ‘ dignified and impressive’? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway…)

For us, our constant lack of belief in our own importance is the main reason for our ability to take racist insults and diplomatic evasions lying down. The Irish take no offence at successive waves of anti-Irish hysteria in the British media because they believe they themselves are not important. They also believe they are powerless to change anything. The country that the Irish intellegentia, media and politicians find themselves inhabiting no longer seems worth defending – for we no longer believe in ourselves, or in our own integrity or importance. And if you no longer believe in yourself you do not take offence.

The weary cynicism so prevalent in ‘the Republic’ today is part of this malaise. That England has exhibited a special tenacity and savagery in the North of Ireland for the past 20 years is no longer permitted to trouble us. We know that to challenge the British presence would mean a struggle, even if only a political one, and among Irish politicians – even those who were most vociferous 20 years ago – it no longer seems politically desirable to speak from a strong Irish position. This bourgeois consensus extends right through the middle classes… (MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DATE (23RD AUGUST) 59 YEARS AGO : IRISH TRICOLOUR + RUC = BEING SHOT DEAD.

Internment under the ‘Offences Against the State Act’ was enacted on the 4th July 1957 and, by October 1958, there were 141 detainees in the Curragh, with morale being described as ‘very low’. A total of 206 internees were detained by the State in that Camp, all of whom had been released by March 1959, as the State administration considered the IRA to be a spent force and the latter’s political, military and paramilitary colleagues in the Occupied Six Counties were of the same frame of mind, to the extent that the pro-British ‘police force’ in that part of Ireland, the RUC, felt secure in declaring that they had a top-level informer in the IRA leadership, whom they codenamed ‘Horsecoper’, and had it on his/her information that the IRA had 455 members in Dublin and about 500 members in the rest of the Free State.

However, ‘demoralised/a spent force’ or not, both British-established administrations in Ireland – Leinster House and Stormont – were still attempting to ‘put the boot in’ on republican activity and continued to operate ‘Most Wanted’ lists, where those named on same would be seized on sight, or worse. One man that that British ‘police force’ were particularly interested in was James Crossan, a native of Baunboy in Cavan, and a prominent Sinn Féin organiser (and IRA intelligence officer and active member of the Teeling Flying Column) in the border area.

On Saturday, 23rd August 1958 – 59 years ago on this date – James Crossan and one of his neighbours, Seán Reilly, were in a van on their way to Swanlinbar, in Cavan – only a stones throw from the ‘border’ with Fermanagh – to collect a flag and finalise details for a demonstration to be held the next day (Sunday August 24th) in Ballyconnell. Having done their business in Swanlinbar, the two men, and a local youth and Sinn Féin member, Ben McHugh, decided to go for a pint ; in the pub they met up with two friends from County Fermanagh. Near the end of the night, the barman, Thomas McCarron, asked James Crossan’s friend, Seán Reilly, if he would drop him and the two men from Fermanagh to the border, to collect a van belonging to one of the men, Glover Rooney, a cattle dealer from Kinglass, Macken, in County Fermanagh (the other man was Stanley Moffat, a sergeant in the B-Specials!), and Reilly agreed. He parked his van about 100 yards from the border and about 300 yards from Mullan British customs post in Fermanagh ; James Crossan and the young McHugh got out with the three northerners and all five walked towards where the van was parked, near the border. With the few drinks on him and the time of the day it was – about 3am – Seán Reilly fell asleep in the van.

The sound of gunfire woke him up and flares lit-up the sky around him; he got out of the van and saw two RUC men about 30 yards in front of him – they were running towards the British customs post. It later transpired that the five men (Crossan, McHugh, the barman and the two Fermanagh men), all unarmed, parted company on the Cavan side of the border at about 3.30am and, as Crossan and McHugh were walking back to the van, Crossan, 26 years of age, was shot dead by a group of RUC men who had positioned themselves on the southern side of the border. Ben McHugh was arrested, and Crossan’s body was taken to Enniskillen. The RUC claimed that they had come across an IRA reconnaissance mission of Mullan British customs post, which was a total fabrication ; at the inquest (held in Enniskillen) no witnesses were called and no attempt was made to investigate the circumstances of the shooting. The coroner simply justified Crossan’s death as “justifiable homicide”. James Crossan was given a republican funeral and was buried in Kilnavert Cemetery, County Cavan, on the 26th August 1958.

When the fairy-like dew, the grass is adorning,
a volley rang out without any warning,
a young man fell dead in the cold grey of morning.
God bless you, God rest you, James Crossan from Bawn.

Forget not this young man, so gay and so cheery,
in working for Erin, he never grew weary,
But he’ll toil never more round his own loved Clonleary.
God bless you, God rest you, James Crossan from Bawn.

There’s no sleep for the Specials, they’re tumblin’ and tossin’
they are haunted with fear, every man every gossan,
for they’ll pay for it yet, those who murdered James Crossan.
God bless you, God bless you, James Crossan of Bawn.
(From here.)

 

GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the ‘Frank Cahill Resource Centre’, one of the founders of ‘Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh’, the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A’Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was ‘And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh’. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

THE CO-OP.

Every Saturday morning Paddy got his visit and you would think to hear him that that was all he talked about on his weekly visit – “I pulled my ma and she says that there’s definitely a chocolate sandwich cake in my parcel today.” We listened to this with no shortage of cynicism. “I’m telling you, my ma swore on St Anthony’s Prayer that the cake is there…” But St Anthony’s prayer or not, we couldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt. Two weeks before she had swore on a stack of bibles and we didn’t get any cake.

The comrade in charge of the parcels collected them at the gate and brought them into the canteen for distribution. Paddy waited for his parcel, and we sat in the hut waiting for him to bring it in so that we could get the supper on. “The bastards!”, Paddy screamed, coming in the door of the hut. “What’s the matter?” I asked. “The screws stole my chocolate sandwich cake.” The more cynical members of the co-op looked round at one another with that ‘Ach, Jesus, not again..’-look on our faces.

Paddy swore on his mother’s life that the cake was there, but he could see that we didn’t believe him. “Right”, said Paddy, “I’m going to see the OC. This is the last straw.” So we all trooped off to the OC’s cubicle and, on entering, we noticed that he was sitting down with a cup of tea in his hand and a big slice of chocolate cake… (MORE LATER).

THE STAYCATION : WHEN YOU JUST SIMPLY DELAY DOING THE USUAL STUFF!

We checked the bank
The news was bad
We’d spent all the money
That we had
We wouldn’t travel
on vacation
We were gonna take
a forced Staycation…
(apologies to the author.)

I’d like to write that we’re back and tell you all about our break, but…we weren’t really anywhere to be ‘back’ from, but it still wasn’t a bad mini-holiday (spoiled by New York, we are, constantly making comparisons, even though we know we shouldn’t be!) considering that we stayed more-or-less local, the weather wasn’t the best (typical Irish summer…) and there wasn’t a roof-top party to be had anywhere!

We never got too far out of Dublin as it was just too awkward to arrange a day-trip anywhere else : myself and my four girlfriends had the best of intentions to take the extended clan of kids (which numbered anywhere between seven and twelve) away for a day or two but then life intervened – transport issues, what time we could get the gang ready to leave at, who had to be home at a certain time, whatshername won’t go unless she can bring her fella with us but that fella used to go out with one of the other young girls with us and she wouldn’t go if…etc!

We did, however, manage to get to Dublin Zoo, to Bray in Wicklow, for a group picnic on a lovely day to Corkagh Park, which is on our doorstep and, on one occasion (and never again!) eleven of us attempted to get to Stephens Green in the city centre but never made it…our shenanigans were (thankfully!) interrupted by a 650-ticket function for the Cabhair organisation, which took us the best part of a week, from start to finish, but even then we ended up with an extended entourage.

Anyway – we’re back, and badly need a holiday to recover. For now, however, that’s out of the question. But we’re definitely going somewhere else the next time…

Thanks for reading, Sharon.


 


 


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