RESURGENCE.


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, October 1954.


One danger is the attempts of Free State politicians to divert this (republican) revival to their party advantage. Just as the nation-wide resentment at the passing of the ‘Ireland Bill’ was successfully controlled and canalised by those politicians until it became a campaign of futile verbal abuse, with the squandering of the £50,000 subscribed as a protest fund, so there is the danger that the present revival may be diverted, controlled and stifled by the same politicians, with the connivance of Stormont. Republicans must be alive to that danger and should expose it at every opportunity.


THE LATE ALICE FRENCH.


It is with sincere regret that we announce the death of one of our best and most regular contributors, Miss Alice French. She died at her residence at Kincora Road, Clontarf, Dublin, on the 20th September (1954), and was buried in the family graveyard at Ballapousta, Ardee, County Louth, on Wednesday 22nd September.


Her poems have been a regular feature of the ‘United Irishman’ almost since it’s first issue appeared and they have been noted for their real depth of feeling and sincere national feeling. In this issue we publish a poem received from her only a few days before her death… (MORE LATER).





ON THE 15TH NOVEMBER 1985…

..the Stormont Treaty (a.k.a. ‘Anglo-Irish Agreement/Hillsborough Agreement/London-Dublin Agreement’) was signed at Hillsborough Castle, County Down, by Garret Fitzgerald and Margaret Thatcher (pictured, left, doing the deed) and we mention this now because on the actual date when it was signed in 1985 – the 15th November – we won’t be able to post about it here, as we’ll be recovering from and doing the final tidy-up after a 650-ticket RSF gig, which will be held on the Dublin/Kildare border on Sunday 12th November next. The preparations for these monthly events begin, like clockwork, on the Tuesday before the gig and finish on the Monday (or Tuesday) evening after it, which means that we won’t have the time to put one of our usual offerings together ; it will probably be Wednesday 22nd November before we post here again.


Anyway – a wee comment on that Treaty which, at the time, the then Sinn Féin organisation was opposed to (it wasn’t a Leinster House-registered ‘political party’ at the time, although some did leave shortly afterwards and formed a group which then registered itself with that institution) ; “Despite the multi-million dollar hype of the (Hillsborough) Agreement, despite disinformation, despite the rewriting of Irish history by West Britons and British propaganda, more and more people are beginning to realise that internal tinkering with the six-county statelet solves nothing..” – so said the late Martin McGuinness, speaking in Bodenstown, on Sunday 22nd June, 1986. Less than six months after he delivered those fine words, he was assisting other nationalists and ex-republicans in splitting the Republican Movement, although he had yet to meet his queen. Gerry Adams denounced that Treaty, describing it as “..the formal recognition of the partition of Ireland…a disaster for the nationalist cause (which) far outweighs the powerless consultative role given to Dublin..”


Meanwhile, as I type this, Gerry and Co. are in a somewhat “powerless consultative role” themselves, regarding Westminster, as they wait nervously to see what type of a financial allowance they get from Westminster to enable them to put a ‘budget’ together to run that bastard statelet on behalf of the British. They should actually lodge a complaint along those lines, next time they meet and greet their queen…




“AFTER 32 YEARS – AN OPEN LETTER,” by POW Philip Clarke. From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, February 1955.

‘Under the title ‘After 32 Years – an open letter’, the following article was written for ‘THE UNITED IRISHMAN’ newspaper by Philip Clarke (pictured, right), shortly before his arrest in connection with the Omagh Raid on October 17 last (1954). The circumstances surrounding the arrest and trial of Phil Clarke and his comrades are ample proof that there are young men in Ireland today who have taken the words of Pearse to heart : “It is not enough to say merely ‘I believe’, one must also say ‘I serve’ “.


FREEDOM VERSUS SLAVERY.


Your gospel is and has been to maintain the connection of Ireland with England for the good of England. Our gospel, you know only too well, is to break the connection between Ireland and England for the good of Ireland.


Between these creeds lies an unbridgeable gulf as between Communistic Atheism and Christianity. One stands for tyranny, for corruption, for slavery, the other for justice, for honesty, for freedom – the one for the denial of human rights, the other for the fulfilment of the Will of God. Time itself will not outlive these principles.


(Next, from the same source : ‘THE ONLY WEAPON’.)





ON THIS DATE (8TH NOVEMBER) 22 YEARS AGO – DEATH OF A ‘GUN-RUNNER’.

Neil T. Blaney (pictured, left), born 29th October 1922, died 8th November 1995 : 22 years ago on this date.


On November 10th 1966, when Sean Lemass resigned as Free State Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fail, George Colley and Charles J.Haughey made known their desire for that position. Neil Blaney entered on the nomination of another Fianna Fail Minister, Kevin Boland, but Haughey and Blaney withdrew when Sean Lemass nominated Jack Lynch. George Colley stayed in the contest and was defeated by 53 votes to 19 ; the Colley-Haughey power struggle began to develop, but all concerned (George Colley, Haughey, Boland, Neil Blaney and Jack Lynch) continued to cooperate with each other within the confines of the Fianna Fail ‘TACA’ group. Neil Blaney was interested in the workings and objectives of the ‘Civil Rights Association’ in the Six Counties but let it be known that he didn’t consider them to be hardline enough and tried to steer Fianna Fail away from having too much to do with them, a position which some seen as a challenge to Free State Taoiseach Jack Lynch, and more so with each speech Blaney made in which he verbally attacked a politician favoured by Lynch, Six County (British) ‘Premier’, Captain Terence O’Neill (who was also under attack by Ian Paisley). Blaney actually advised nationalists in the Six Counties not to support ‘Premier’ O’Neill.

However, for the sake of party unity (a State-wide general election was due in June 1969), Neil Blaney softened his tone in public but tension remained high between him, George Colley and Haughey, although Jack Lynch tried to avoid taking sides. Seamus Brady, a Fianna Fail ‘spin doctor’ and a linkman between Blaney and the media of that time, was a well-respected Fianna Fail activist in the Dublin North-East area and was friendly with Blaney, who maintained his contacts in the Six Counties even though the Fianna Fail party itself, officially, did not bother to keep in touch too much with the few remaining contacts it had in the North, a position it regretted finding itself in as the Six County area was in open turmoil.


Jack Lynch made a speech on television in which he stated – “The Stormont Government is evidently no longer in control of the situation…the Government of Ireland (sic) has requested the British Government to apply to the United Nations for urgent dispatch of a peace-keeping force to the Six Counties…many injured do not wish to be treated in Six County hospitals, so Irish Army (sic) authorities have been instructed to establish field hospitals in Donegal and other points on the border..” and the State Minister for External Affairs, Patrick Hillery, flew to London (where he was told to mind his own business) before flying off to America and the UN, where he was to raise the Six County issue at the Security Council.


Leinster House decided that money would have to be provided to deal with ‘distress’ in the Six Counties and wanted any such funds spent in a way which would win friends and influence people for the Fianna Fail Government : £100,000 from State exchequer funds was agreed and a special sub-committee of the State Cabinet was appointed to deal with the whole Northern ‘problem’; elected to that sub-comittee were Padraig Faulkner, Joe Brennan, Neil Blaney – their constituencies were on the border – and Charles J.Haughey, who was (FS) Minister for Finance and had strong Northern connections, his father having come South to join the Free State Army in the 1920’s. The objectives of that ‘Northern sub-committee’ were outlined by Charles Haughey at the ‘Arms Trial’-


“We were given instructions that we should develop the maximum possible contacts with persons inside the Six Counties and try to inform ourselves as much as possible on events, political and other developments – within the Six County area.” This ‘Northern Sub-Committee’ made contact with the Belfast IRA, with Saor Éire elements through the Citizens Committee located in a house in Kildare Street in Dublin (now demolished) the use of which was made available by the New Ireland Assurance Company, and contact was also made with Cathal Goulding, the IRA Chief Of Staff, with the objective of using every possible contact to influence decision making in the Northern nationalist community. Leinster House was not prepared to be ‘compromised’ by the decisions taken in either the Civil Rights Association or the IRA. Neil Blaney’s friend, Seamus Brady, was appointed (on the 15th August 1969) by Haughey to the ‘Propaganda Corps’ attached to the State sub-committee and he was sent into the Six Counties and, later on that month, gave a report to Jack Lynch which concentrated on the strength of the IRA in the area.


Seamus Brady had produced a booklet entitled ‘Terror in Northern Ireland’ for the Central Citizens Defence Committee (CCDC) in Belfast – he had been chosen to infiltrate the CCDC and this publication launched him nicely into his work. The full costs of producing the booklet were paid by the Leinster House-established ‘Information Bureau’, and a jointly-written booklet by Seamus Brady and local Civil Rights activist Aidan Corrigan was produced, entitled – ‘Eye Witness in Northern Ireland’ ; this too was financed by the ‘Information Bureau’ and was printed – 5,000 copies – at the Cityview Press in Dublin despite its imprint stating that it was ‘Published and printed in the Province of Ulster’. The booklet was launched at a press conference in Dublin’s Jury’s Hotel on October 5th, 1969 (the same month in which Neil Blaney, speaking at celebrations for his 21st year in Leinster House, said – “..the Fianna Fail party has never taken a decision to rule out the use of force if the circumstances in the Six Counties so demand ..”), at an event organised by Brady who, along with Neil Blaney (the then State Minister for Agriculture) had had a meeting with an IRA staff officer, in Dublin (in Blaney’s office in ‘Government Buildings’!), the previous month (ie September 1969).


Neil Blaney’s political career also encompassed ministerial sackings, the ‘Arms Trial’ ,an inquiry by the State ‘Committee of Public Accounts’ into exactly how a sum of money* (£100,000) was spent and power struggles in the Fianna Fail party, and I hope our few paragraphs, above, can give a flavour of Neil Blaney’s involvement re the occupied six counties. (*For instance – on the 14th November 1969, a bank account was opened [by a person operating on behalf of Charles J. Haughey, State Minister for Finance at that time] in a Baggot Street, Dublin, bank, in the name of ‘Ann O’Brien’, and the money in same was used mainly for the running and promotion of a newspaper called ‘Voice of The North’, which was based in an office in Monaghan and which pushed the views of Fianna Fail on ‘the Northern Question’). The ‘Gun Runner’ died on the 8th of November, 1995, in his 74th year, 22 years ago on this date.





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!


ESCAPING REALITY.


The tunnel was to blame for the toilets being blocked up. Communications were coming in from up the Camp that the toilets were near blocked up as far as Lisburn! The tunnellers were asked to find another method of disposing of the earth or stop digging, so they tried to get more of the earth into the walls of the shower hut but, before long, there was an ominous creaking coming from that hut.


The Cage OC called everyone together and urged us to put our heads together and come up with a better method of disposing of the earth. It was at this point that we paid our first and only visit to the tunnel. We passed the footballers kicking the ball in the yard and entered the study hut. A small trap door was lifted and three of us jumped into the mouth of the tunnel. The drop down into the tunnel, I thought, seemed very long and it was only my hitting the ground and nearly breaking both legs and my neck that stopped me thinking anymore about the ‘long drop’.


A candle was lit and we found ourselves standing in what I thought was a subterranean cavern. It was about seven foot deep and about eight foot wide all round. “What in the name of Jesus is this..” screamed the Cage OC. “It’s the mouth of the tunnel”, came the response. “What tunnel?” asked the Cage OC. “The Mersey Tunnel..?” he asked… (MORE LATER).



Thanks for reading,
Sharon.





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ON THIS DATE (1ST NOVEMBER) 97 YEARS AGO : IRISH ‘LAD OF 18 SUMMERS’ EXECUTED BY WESTMINSTER.

Kevin Barry (pictured, left) wearing the uniform of ‘H’ Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade of the IRA. He was 18 years of age when that photograph was taken, and that same age when he was put to death by Westminster.


He was executed on November 1st 1920 – 97 years ago on this date – in Mountjoy jail in Dublin by the British. He was the first Irish republican to be executed by the British since 1916, and was captured while on active service outside the entrance of Monk’s bakery in Dublin. Although he was born in Dublin he spent much of his life at the family home in Tombeigh, Hackettstown, in Carlow. Both sides of his family, the Barry’s and the Dowling’s, came from the area, and some of his ancestors had fought in 1798. His was a strong republican family. At the time of his death his eldest brother Mick was O/C of the volunteers in Tombeigh and his sister Sheila was in Cumann na mBan.


On Monday 20th September,1920, 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.

The woman who shouted the warning blamed herself, as did some of her neighbours, but 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…”

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.


‘Just a lad of eighteen summers…’




UNITY! ON WHAT BASIS? asks Sinn Féin President. From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, October 1954.


Speaking at a public meeting held by the Austin Stack Cumann, Sinn Féin, at Elverys Corner in O’Connell Street, Dublin, on Saturday 25th September (1954), Tomas O Dubhghaill said – “We in Sinn Féin are being repeatedly asked why don’t you unite with such-and-such a group, why don’t you co-operate with so-and-so party? We of Sinn Féin are all for unity, our greatest hope is to bring together all sections and groups in the country for the benefit of the Nation as a whole. But we must achieve that unity on a proper basis, on the basis on which it was attained before.


That basis is the Republic of All Ireland, the re-assembly of the Republican Parliament for all 32 Counties, the putting into effect of the Declaration of Independence issued by the First Dáil Éireann in January 1919. On that basis our people stood united in face of a reign of torture and terror until the disastrous Treaty in 1922. On that basis they can be again united, and can take up the struggle from where it was left off then, and carry it to victory!”


The instinct of the people is sound, they will respond if given the opportunity. We intend to provide that opportunity and if necessary to clear all the politicians out of the way when doing so. This is the basis for unity – unity for the Republic – unity to secure that every man born within the four shores of Ireland will have the opportunity to secure a decent livelihood for himself and his family here at home – unity to bring the dream of the men of Easter Week into living reality. Other speakers were Seoirse Dearle, Sean O Suileabhain and Padraig O’ h-Airneide. A large crowd, with many Meath and Kerry supporters gave the speakers an enthusiastic reception.


RESURGENCE.


The political tempo in the Six Counties is steadily building up. With the British troops permanently ‘standing to’ since the raid on Gough Barracks, with the scare at Hollywood Military Barracks just outside Belfast, the panic about an explosion during the English queen’s visit and the alleged shooting into a police barracks in Derry, the occupation forces are very much ‘on edge’.


Symptoms of their nervous tension are the repeated raids, questioning, threatening and spasmodic outbursts of police savagery. These, instead of suppressing, only help to heighten the National Spirit in the area… (MORE LATER).





ON THIS DATE (1ST NOVEMBER) 133 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF WHAT MORPHED INTO A ‘GRAB ALL ASSOCIATION’.

‘On 1st November 1884 the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded at Miss Hayes’ Commercial Hotel, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, by Michael Cusack (Clareman, teacher, sportsman and nationalist) and Maurice Davin (a Tipperary man who at the time was Ireland’s most famous athlete). Other founding members present were John Wyse-Power, John McKay, J.K. Bracken, Joseph O’Ryan and Thomas St George McCarthy. Many of the seven men who attended the meeting were Fenians. Not present at the Thurles meeting was Patrick W. Nally, a keen athlete and leading IRB organiser who also played a prominent role in bringing about the birth of the GAA : he was the one who suggested the organisation to Cusack…’ (from here.)


The objective of the new organisation was to to foster and promote native Irish pastimes, to open athletics to all social classes and to aid in the establishment of hurling and football clubs and, in order to encourage contact between towns and cities, it organised inter-county matches. One of its founding members, Michael Cusack, was a pioneer of Irish language revival and a founder member of the Gaelic League, and was inspired by the ideal of restoring pride in the national games of hurling and football and – through them – instilling hope and determination among Irish manhood in their ability to control their country’s destiny.

It had somewhat of a republican ‘leaning’ to it in its earlier years, through people like Michael Cusack and, for instance, James Nowlan who, in 1898, at 36 years of age, was elected as Alderman to Kilkenny Corporation and availed of the position to great effect in publicising the then fourteen-year’s young ‘Gaelic Athletic Association’, but was less successful in persuading the Central Council of the GAA that it should begin preparations to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1798 Rising – indeed, the GAA leadership refused to even appoint representatives to the 1798 Centenary Committee, but James Nowlan and a few other republican-minded GAA members insisted on playing their part in the celebrations. At the GAA Congress held in September 1901, he was elected President (the sixth president of the GAA, a position he served in from 1901 to 1921) and attempted to steer the organisation towards a more republican path ; for instance, when the ‘Irish Volunteers’ was formed, Nowlan stated that it was a most suitable group for GAA members to join, even though other GAA leaders were not as enthusiastic about the group, or about republicanism in general.


And that ‘mildly nationalist/small-‘r’ republican’-outlook has unfortunately prevailed in the overall leadership and membership of the GAA, so much so that, during the 1981 hunger-strikes.. ‘…the whole question of the role of the GAA in Nationalist affairs was raised, with it becoming blatantly clear that the courage was lacking from top GAA officials to come out openly, and support with direct action, motions passed at successive GAA congresses which backed the prisoners’ demands. The influence of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael members, and the ever-present voice of the Garda Síochána in the GAA, was beginning to cause even more alarm among GAA Headquarters’ staff ; the grassroots’ support at Northern level was understandable as many clubs had at least one member in Long Kesh, but the gulf in understanding of many Southern GAA personnel was a reflection of how removed from the realities of the Northern situation they had become. GAA Headquarters kept one careful eye on events in Long Kesh and the other on those middle-class conservatives who wanted the GAA to steer well clear of involvement in the H-Blocks crisis. Statements from the GAA management committee referred to bringing “the whole sad situation to an end..in the interests of peace..” – hardly words calculated to cause Southern politicians to take seriously the degree of GAA concern over the prison situation..other statements talked of “humanitarian concern”, while the increased pressure exerted by some GAA members in the South gave rise to terms such as “condemnation of violence and men of violence” being increasingly included in policy statements from the GAA management committee..’ (from here.)


All in all – between the above and the ‘Rule 21’ issue, it’s not surprising that republicans have learned not to depend on overall GAA structures as a support base and, indeed, to be extra vigilent in any dealings with the GAA as it’s still ‘influenced by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Garda Síochána..’.




“AFTER 32 YEARS – AN OPEN LETTER,” by POW Philip Clarke. From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, February 1955.

‘Under the title ‘After 32 Years – an open letter’, the following article was written for ‘THE UNITED IRISHMAN’ newspaper by Philip Clarke (pictured, right), shortly before his arrest in connection with the Omagh Raid on October 17 last (1954). The circumstances surrounding the arrest and trial of Phil Clarke and his comrades are ample proof that there are young men in Ireland today who have taken the words of Pearse to heart : “It is not enough to say merely ‘I believe’, one must also say ‘I serve’ “.


LEGALISED TYRANNY.


Are we doomed to remain forever your slaves? We in the Republican Movement think not. You are strong indeed but you are far from omnipotent. You have the armed might of a powerful nation behind you, but we have humbled that might before. You have the constitutions of both North and South to legalise your tyranny, but we take our stand by a Cause which is older by far than either of them. You may have the ears of the world to fill with your propaganda but we still have the heart of the Irish nation beating in unison with ours. You have ‘respectable’ politicians in your livery but we have Irishmen of honesty and integrity to displace them. (MORE LATER).





SIX FOOT OF CONCRETE – 21ST FEBRUARY 1976 (HEAR ALL ABOUT IT [MAYBE] ON THE 4TH NOVEMBER 2017).

‘Exhumed in glory a November moon was drifting

And freedom’s light aglow

When some IRA had gathered in a graveyard in Mayo.

Those brave Irish Freedom fighters

Who came together in the West

Had come to fill the promise to lay Frank Stagg at rest.’



Frank Stagg had begun his fourth (and final) hunger strike in late 1975 – having been convicted under the notorious ‘British Conspiracy Laws’ (enacted by Westminster during the latter half of the 19th century to imprison Irish political activists without a fair trial) – as it was the only ‘weapon’ he had at his disposal with which to impress on his British captors his desire to be repatriated to Ireland. He died, blind and weighing just four stone, in Wakefield Prison on 12th February 1976, after 62 days on hunger strike.

His remains were hijacked by suited, uniformed and armed members of the State, acting under orders from FS Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave and his ‘Justice’ Minister, Paddy Cooney – the airplane carrying his coffin was diverted from Dublin to Shannon and, when it landed, the Special Branch surrounded it and forcibly removed the coffin and buried it, supported by an armed escort, under six feet of concrete in Leigue Cemetery in Ballina, County Mayo, in a grave purchased by the Free Staters and which was located about 70 meters from the Republican Plot in that cemetery.

Armed State operatives maintained a heavy presence in the graveyard to prevent Irish republicans from affording Frank Stagg a proper burial but they were not the only group keeping a watch on the grave : the IRA were aware of their presence and, after the Staters withdrew, the IRA made their move: on the night of November 5th, 1977, Paul Stanley, of Straffan, Co Kildare, and other IRA men, disinterred Frank Stagg’s remains and reburied them with his comrade, Michael Gaughan.

When questioned in Leinster House about this sordid affair, Paddy Cooney stated – “The persistent attempts by members of an unlawful organisation and their associates to exploit the situation that arose are well known and, indeed, notorious. Because of this and because also of certain obligations of confidentiality, I must decline to make any comment on the question of the choice of burial place..” The “question of the choice of burial place” was, thankfully, not one that was left to Cooney and his thugs to decide. However : a documentary on this subject, entitled ‘Frank Stagg’s Three Funerals’, promoted by the following blurb – ‘Frank Stagg’s body was placed in a grave in Ballina by the Gárdaí, it was covered with concrete and an armed guard stood by to prevent his body being moved to the Republican plot where he wished to be buried. However, they overlooked one minor detail..’will be aired on the ‘Documentary On One’ programme on RTE Radio 1, on Saturday 4th November 2017, at 2pm. That’s presuming the Free Staters don’t attempt to pull/bury it, of course…





ON THIS DATE (1ST NOVEMBER) 97 YEARS AGO : THE EVE OF EXECUTION.

‘On 28 June 1920, five men from C Company of the 1st Battalion at Wellington Barracks, Jalandhar, Punjab decided to protest against the effects of martial law in Ireland by refusing to soldier. They were soon joined in their protest by other Rangers (the protesters included at least one Englishman, John Miranda, from Liverpool) declaring they would not return to duty until British forces left Ireland. Led by Private James Daly ( whose brother William took part in the protest at Jalandhar), the protest spread to the Connaught Ranger company at Solon however the Connaught Ranger company at Jutogh hill-station remained loyal to the British crown. A party of men led by Daly made an attempt to recover their arms, storming the armory.


The loyal British guard successfully defended it, and two of Daly’s party, Privates Patrick Smythe and Peter Sears, were killed in the firefight. Within days, both garrisons were occupied by loyal British troops; Daly and his followers surrendered and were taken prisoner. Eighty-eight mutineers were court martialed : nineteen men were sentenced to death (eighteen later had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment), 59 were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, and ten were acquitted. The 21-year-old Daly was shot by a firing squad in Dagshai Prison on 2 November 1920. He was the last member of the British Armed Forces to be executed for mutiny. Private Sears and Private Smyth were buried at Solan, while Daly and Miranda (who later died in prison) were buried at the Dagshai graveyard until 1970..’ (from here.)


‘On November 2nd, 1920, James Daly was killed by a British Army firing squad in India. He had been one of the leaders of the so-called ‘India Mutiny’, but had not been among its instigators. The mutiny began on May 28th, 1920, led by Joseph Hawes at Wellington barracks in Jullundar, India, when 350 Irish members of the famous Connaught Rangers regiment of the British Army laid down their arms and refused to keep soldiering as long as British troops remained in Ireland…as word of more and more British violence against the Irish people spread among the troops, they had begun to question the morality of wearing the uniforms of the same army that was terrorising families back home. The mutiny soon spread to Ranger detachments in Solon and Jutogh. Daly was stationed at Solon and helped lead the action of the mutineers there. Two would die in Solon during a brief confrontation. Eventually, 61 Rangers were convicted by courts martial and 14 sentenced to death. All but one of those condemned men had their sentences reduced. James Daly of Tyrellspass, County Westmeath, was the only one shot. The Connaught Rangers would not survive much longer than Daly ; in 1922 the regiment was disbanded after the signing of the Anglo-Irish treaty that created the Irish Free State. In 1970, James Daly’s body was brought home and buried at Tyrellspass. Among those in the guard of honor at the reinterment ceremony were five of his fellow mutineers: Joseph Hawes, James Gorman, Eugene Egan, Patrick Hynes, and William Coote…’ (from here.)

“The moral courage and sacrifice shown by James Daly and his comrades shines like a beacon light years after those momentous events in Jullander and Solon in India in June and July of 1920. The leadership shown by James Daly and Joe Hawes galvanised their comrades into striking a blow for the freedom of their own land. We also remember with pride the sacrifices of Peter Sears and Patrick Smythe who died at the hands of the British army during the mutiny and who are interred in Glasnevin cemetery..” – RSF President Des Dalton, 2010 : more here.

At that time, in Ireland, the Black and Tan War was at its height. Irishmen serving with the British Army in India mutinied in protest at the atrocities being committed in Ireland by the British. On June 27th, 1920, 350 Irishmen gave in their arms and refused to soldier for England. The mutiny was confined chiefly to members of ‘B’ and ‘C’ Companies, 1st Battalion, Connaught Ranger Regiment, stationed at Wellington Barracks, Jullunder, Punjab, India. The men at Jullunder were led by Private Joseph Hawes and their protest was joined two days later by a detachment of ‘C’ Company at the hill-station in Solon, under Private James Daly (regimental number 35025), a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. On June 30th, 1920, following the deaths of Privates Patrick Smythe, Louth (regimental number10079) and Peter Sears, Mayo (regimental number 32781) in an attempt to capture the magazine at Solon, the mutiny ended. Seventy-five of the mutineers were arrested and taken to Lucknow where they were held until September when they were moved to Dayshai Prison to stand trial.

While awaiting trial, the prisoners were subjected to such harsh treatment by the British that it resulted in the death of one of the men, Private John Miranda, a native of Liverpool. At the subsequent general court-martial , fourteen of the prisoners were sentenced to death and the remainder to terms of imprisonment varying from ten to twenty years. In mid-October 1920, 13 of the fourteen death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment – the exception was Jim Daly, a native of Tyrellspass, County Westmeath. After six months, the mutineers were transferred to Portland Convict Prison in England, where they suffered long periods of solitary confinement and ill-treatment during their fight for political status. They were later moved to Maidstone Prison and, on January 3rd, 1923, the remaining sixty mutineers were released and returned to Ireland.

In October 1970, the remains of Daly, Smythe and Sears were brought back to Ireland : Smythe, a native of Drogheda, Co. Louth and Sears, from Neale, Co. Mayo, were buried in the Republican Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. James Daly, who was executed in Jullunder in India on November 2nd, 1920, as per orders issued by Major-General Sir G. de S. Barrow, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., of ‘Northern Command of the British Army in India’, was re-interred in his native Tyrellspass. These men and those like them are remembered and cherished by Irish republicans, as they should be. The 1st November, 1920 – 97 years ago on this date – was James Daly’s last full day on this Earth. Gone but never forgotten.





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!


ESCAPING REALITY.


Outside the study hut all types of activities were happening to ensure that there was always a crowd of men in that general vicinity, so that the men coming out of the study hut carrying bags of earth from the tunnel were always surrounded by footballers, Irish dancers and spectators as they made the twenty foot journey from the study hut to the shower hut.


The two large jaw boxes in the shower hut couldn’t cope with the volume of earth being flushed down them. Other places of disposal were sought, including the walls of the shower hut and any orifice that could hold earth.


The digging was going on for about two, maybe three, weeks, and we (those of us who were not involved in the tunnel) were speculating as to the length of it. The estimations ran anywhere from 20 feet to 75 yards, but we could get no information out of the diggers, as for obvious reasons they were not allowed to say. There was one fact that you couldn’t escape concerning the escape, and that was the toilets… (MORE LATER).





ON THIS DATE (1ST NOVEMBER) 97 YEARS AGO : A TERRIBLE UGLINESS IS BORN…

On the 1st November 1920 – 97 years ago on this date – a ‘volunteer police force/ Ulster Special Constabulary’ scheme was officially announced by the British government, and recruitment for same began. This ‘new’ grouping, which was to be formed mainly from the ranks of the existing ‘Ulster Volunteer Force’ (UVF), a pro-British militia, received full backing from the then British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, as it would free up the RIC and other British military units for use elsewhere in Ireland, plus it was cheaper than having to raise a ‘proper’ (!) force, as this ‘new’ grouping was to be formatted in a manner that not all recruits would be paid : it would be established in three ‘parts’ and, at first, would only be set-up in the Belfast area of County Antrim and also in County Tyrone, but was soon extended to all six of the occupied counties. The ‘A Specials’ would be a paid, full-time group, armed and equipped in an equal manner to the RIC, the ‘B Specials’ would be part-time and unpaid, except for a clothing allowance, and would only be armed if their local RIC commander deemed it necessary.


Their ‘contract’ stipulated that they would do only “..occasional duty, usually one evening per week exclusive of training drills, in an area convenient to members, day duties being required only in an emergency..” The ‘C Specials’ were to be a reserve group, to be called out on ‘duty’ only in case of an emergency. When this three-part outfit was ‘fully staffed’, it numbered about 5,000 ‘A’, 18,000 ‘B’ and 7,000 ‘C’, and was an openly sectarian pro-British murder unit, which could count an estimated one in every five of the adult male Protestant population in Ireland as a member.


In 1925, Westminster thought it was time to ‘modernise’ its occupation of the part of Ireland it still claimed jurisdiction over – our six north-eastern counties (as remains the position today) and, in December that year, it offered the approximately 30,000 to 40,000-strong ‘Special Constabulary’ organisation a few bob to ‘go away’ (!) – £1,200,000 was put on the table, provided most of them agreed to disband (similar to what happened with the PIRA 73 years later – buying them out with a ‘bank-load’ of money). ‘Sir’ James Craig, up to then a great friend and supporter of the ‘Specials’, stated that they would have to go : on 10th December 1925, Craig told the ‘A’ and ‘C’ Specials that they were out of work and offered each man two months pay,
adding that the ‘B Specials’ were to be maintained as they were. However, the ‘A’ and ‘C’ Specials were not happy with the ‘disband now’ order from Craig ; not enough money was offered, it was on the mouth of Christmas, and the unemployment rate was running at over 20% – so the ‘A’ and ‘C’ Specials held meetings between themselves and, on 14th December 1925, they mutinied!



‘A’ and ‘C’ members in Derry ‘arrested’ their own Officers, as they did in Ballycastle – two days later (ie on 16th December 1925) a demand from the ‘A’ and ‘C’ ‘rebels’ (!) was handed over to ‘Sir’ Richard Dawson Bates, the Stormont ‘Minister for Home Affairs’, a solicitor by trade, who was also Secretary of the ‘Ulster Unionist Council’, a position he had held since 1905. The ‘Special Rebels’ were looking for more money ; they demanded a £200 tax-free ‘bonus’ for each member that was to be made redundant. Two days later (on the 18th December 1925) ‘Sir’ Bates replied to them that not only would they not be getting the £200 ‘bonus’ but if they didn’t back down immediately they would loose whatever few bob they were entitled to for being made redundant!
That message was delivered to the ‘mutiniers’ on 18th December 1925 ; on 19th December 1925 they all but apologised to Bates, released their hostages and signed on for the dole – the ‘hard men’ of the ‘Specials’ had been put in their place by a bigger thug than they were! By Christmas Day, 1925, the ‘A’ and ‘C’ Sections of the ‘Ulster’
(sic) Special Constabulary Association – the ‘Specials’ – were disbanded.


The ‘B’ Specials were indeed kept on as they were – it was only in 1969 that that gang of thugs ‘disbanded’ (actually, they changed uniform into that of the ‘Ulster Defence Regiment’ [UDR] and carried-on with their thuggery). It was in September 1969 that the (British) ‘Cameron Commission’ described the ‘B’ Specials as “a partisan and paramilitary force”, while the October 1969 ‘Hunt Report’ recommended that the ‘B’ Specials be disbanded. We now suffer from the RUC/PSNI, (mostly) confined (‘officially’ anyway) to operating in the six occupied counties and wearing more ‘people-friendly’ uniforms. But if a leopard could change its spots, it would still be, under its ‘new skin’, a leopard.


Thanks for reading,
Sharon.





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BRUSSELS / EU AND ITS ‘SERVANTS’ RIPPING US OFF.

‘All Members of the European Parliament (MEP’s) receive an *extra* €4,342 a month that goes straight to their bank account of choice…the money is supposed to pay for a regional office and their phone bills. But no-one checks how they spend it. Some MEP’s use it properly. But an investigation revealed that 1 in 3 MEP’s don’t even have a regional office on the record. And we’re still sending them €4,342 every month – no questions asked. The journalists behind the investigation took the European Parliament (EP) to court for a lack of transparency and the President of the EP committed to introducing concrete proposals for reform by the end of this year. But he hasn’t yet done so….’ (From here, the ‘WeMove.EU’ group, ‘..a citizens’ movement campaigning for a better Europe (and) for a European Union committed to social and economic justice, environmental sustainability and citizen-led democracy…’)

For the last three (soon to be four) years, this bent little State has been paying more money into Brussels than we have been getting out of it, a fact that is mostly glossed over by political commentators here and, to the best of our knowledge, has never been mentioned at all by the MEP’s from this Free State. What that translates as, in effect, is that any ‘grants’ received by farmers, builders etc here is money that we ourselves paid in, only to have it recycled and, minus ‘commission’, returned to us! And EU Commissioner Gunther Oettinger is on record for stating, more-or-less, that we Paddy’s ain’t seen nothin’ yet in that regard, as we’re gonna have to accept less of a ‘pay out’ from his crowd but will have to pay more into their (our?!) coffers in the near future and, considering that Westminster hands over to Brussels about twelve billion euro every year more than it takes out and that that ‘pay in’ will come to an end with ‘Brexit’ then, no doubt, the political muppets that are, for now, in power here, will soon be ‘explaining’ to us why we should be proud to fill that financial gap!

This blog not only supports the Brits in their ‘Brexit’ decision (…and please, Theresa [‘F’ off!], don’t forget our ‘pay out’ for said support…!) but we call for an ‘Irexit’. For these reasons, among others…

 

 

UNITY! ON WHAT BASIS? asks Sinn Féin President. From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, October 1954.

Speaking at a public meeting held by the Austin Stack Cumann, Sinn Féin, at Elverys Corner in O’Connell Street, Dublin, on Saturday 25th September (1954), Tomas O Dubhghaill said – “We in Sinn Féin are being repeatedly asked why don’t you unite with such-and-such a group, why don’t you co-operate with so-and-so party? We of Sinn Féin are all for unity, our greatest hope is to bring together all sections and groups in the country for the benefit of the Nation as a whole. But we must achieve that unity on a proper basis, on the basis on which it was attained before.

That basis is the Republic of All Ireland, the re-assembly of the Republican Parliament for all 32 Counties, the putting into effect of the Declaration of Independence issued by the First Dáil Éireann in January 1919. On that basis our people stood united in face of a reign of torture and terror until the disasterous Treaty in 1922. On that basis they can be again united, and can take up the struggle from where it was left off then, and carry it to victory!”

Sinn Féin propose to tackle this task in three stages. First we will contest all twelve seats in the Six-County area in the next Westminster election. There is no question of attendance at Westminster – Sinn Féin candidates will go forward seeking election to the Republican Parliament of all Ireland – they will take part in nothing less. Secondly, we must end the farce of men allegedly representing sections of the Irish people, either at Stormont, in Corporations, County Councils etc, taking an oath of allegiance to a foreign monarch.

We deny the right and we oppose the claim of any outside power to rule Ireland or any portion of Ireland and no Irishman owes or should swear allegiance to anyone but the Irish Nation. Thirdly, we will put forward candidates in the 26-County elections, again seeking election to the Republican Parliament of all Ireland. The various political parties in the South assert that they aim to secure the unity and freedom of the country. Their actions over the last thirty years contradict their words. Idle empty phrases will no longer satisfy us – we will call their bluff and force them to take their stand openly either on the side of Ireland or on that of the invader, England. Despite all their protests to the contrary they have in practice helped to strengthen the grip of the robber Empire on our country. We know that this is against the will of the great majority of the people who unthinkingly support these parties… (MORE LATER).

 

A ‘FUNNY SPEECH’ IN FRONT OF AN EVEN ‘FUNNIER’ STAGE GRAPHIC!

Fine Gael’s Regina Doherty (left), as pictured in ‘The Sunday Times’ on the 22nd October last, page 3. She was one of the speakers at the Blueshirts ‘Presidential Dinner’ in Dublin on Saturday, 21st October and, apparently (we weren’t there, invite lost in post..!) used the occasion to show her ‘sense of humour’ by making political jokes (Fine Gael-type joke here..) and barbs about other political misfits, including the outfit she herself is affiliated to. We’ll spare you the ‘jokes’ but if you’re determined to see ‘the lighter side’ of the political ‘elite’ who, for a (good) living, make your purse/wallet lighter (BOOM BOOM!) then click on the pic to enlarge it – doing so won’t make the ‘jokes’ any funnier, but at least you’ll be able to read them without squinting. But you’ll squint afterwards, believe me..!

Anyway – Regina ‘The Joker’, and her colleagues in the venue with her that night (..before, during and since that night, actually), obviously missed the biggest joke of the evening – the wording on the stage graphic behind her, as seen in our pic, above, which insinuates that those present are representative of the ‘Government of Ireland’. Ho! Ho! Those in Leinster House are part of a political entity which claims to have jurisdiction over a 26-county State, whereas this country consists of 32 counties, therefore they are not representative of a ‘Government of Ireland’ and need new scriptwriters and graphic artists. If any of them had a sense of humour, they’d laugh at their own brass neck for claiming otherwise.

 

 

“AFTER 32 YEARS – AN OPEN LETTER,” by POW Philip Clarke. From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, February 1955.

‘Under the title ‘After 32 Years – an open letter’, the following article was written for ‘THE UNITED IRISHMAN’ newspaper by Philip Clarke (pictured, right), shortly before his arrest in connection with the Omagh Raid on October 17 last (1954). The circumstances surrounding the arrest and trial of Phil Clarke and his comrades are ample proof that there are young men in Ireland today who have taken the words of Pearse to heart : “It is not enough to say merely ‘I believe’, one must also say ‘I serve’ “.

As you are only too well aware, England, thirty-two years have now passed since last the manhood of Ireland denied in arms your ‘right’ to politically domineer any part of this country – a passage of time which, though spanning almost the lifetime of our dominion rule politicians, manifests merely the breathing space of the Irish separatist nation. During all this time an uneasy truce has reigned supreme, intermittently shattered by a Coercion Act in the North, or a savage jail sentence in the South.

A world war has come and gone, countries have been subjugated, others uplifted from tyranny, but still you have managed to maintain the accursed connection between Ireland and England.

CONSTITUTIONAL EPOCH.
During this ‘constitutional’ epoch in our history, while we in the South have been busy exploring the measure of freedom you so unwillingly ceded us, you, through your administrators in Stormont, have strengthened your stranglehold on our industrial North. We in the South now unabashedly use your language and your monetary system and make believe that we are free men. You in England utilise our produce and our emigrated manhood and know we are still your slaves. We talk about partition, its rights and wrongs, and take the ‘decisive’ stand of non-cooperation with the Atlantic Alliance until the question is settled by them. You, in turn, maintain your armed soldiery in the Six Counties and induct our exiles into ‘Her Majesty’s’ forces to ensure that Irishmen will assist in cementing a disintegrating British Empire. After all our fathers’ sacrifice, then, are we doomed to remain forever your slaves? (MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DATE (25TH OCTOBER) 97 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF TWO IRISH HUNGER-STRIKERS.

Joseph Murphy (left of pic) and Terence MacSwiney : both men died on hunger-strike on this date – 25th October – in 1920, 97 years ago.

In his book ‘History of the Irish Working Class’ ,Peter Beresford Ellis wrote : “On October 25th, 1920, Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney – poet, dramatist and scholar, died on the 74th day of a hunger-strike while in Brixton Prison, London. A young Vietnamese dishwasher in the Carlton Hotel in London broke down and cried when he heard the news – “A Nation which has such citizens will never surrender”. His name was Nguyen Ai Quoc who, in 1941, adopted the name Ho Chi Minh and took the lessons of the Irish anti-imperialist fight to his own country.”

Terence MacSwiney, his wife Muriel and their daughter, Máire, photographed in 1919.

He was the Commandant of the 1st Cork Brigade of the IRA and was elected as the Lord Mayor of Cork. He died after 74 days on hunger strike in Brixton Prison, England, on the 25th October, 1920, and his body lay in Southwark Cathedral in London where tens of thousands of people paid their respects.

‘Joe Murphy (pictured, left) was born in Lynn, Massachusetts in the USA. He had 14 siblings, with only 5 surviving (and) was one of 3 children born in America, but he did not have American citizenship. The Murphy family returned to their native Cork and settled in Pouladuff Road, in the suburbs…he joined H Company, 2nd Battalion of the Cork No.1 Brigade of the IRA in Cork city (and) would eventually rise to the rank of Commandant..but would be expelled from the IRA for “bringing the army into disrepute”, although it’s not clear what the exact reason for this was. Joe would later be arrested by the British for possession of a bomb to be used in an attack on British forces (but) it is likely these were trumped-up charges by the British even though Murphy was not a member of the IRA at this time…’ (from here.)

Two gallant Corkmen who perished on hunger strike on October 25th 1920 – 97 years ago on this date.

 

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!

ESCAPING REALITY.

The plan was laid out in front of us. The head of Cage Ten’s escape committee, called Tommy, addressed the would-be escapees. As with all captured soldiers, I was eager to escape and become famous. Cage Ten at that time, befor the H-Blocks were even thought about, was almost plumb in the centre of the Kesh – the closest the Cage was to the perimeter wire was about 200 yards.

When Tommy said the word ‘tunnel’, my heart hit my boots. The amount of dirt coming out of a 200-yard tunnel could reclaim a small lake ; disposing of it would be a logistical nightmare, not to mention a physical impossibility. I asked him if it was an ego thing (always a danger) on his part or had he come up with a new way of disposing of the dirt. He gave me a dirty look and said “If you’re not interested, then leave and let the ones who are interested get on with it.” I closed the door quietly behind me.

Over the next few days a series of security measures were implemented to facilitate the diggers in the tunnel. Pipe-smokers and non pipe-smokers alike tapped pipes on the sides of huts when a screw approached within range of the diggers at work. Men with ‘The Irish News’ newspaper made over the top gestures with their papers when the sound of pipe tapping reached their ears. Perfectly healthy young men started coughing their lungs up on seeing ‘The Irish News’ being waved wildly down the line. Finally, a heavy thump on the floor of the study hut at the sound of someone retching brought an end to the digging until the danger had passed… (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading,
Sharon.


 


 


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ON THIS DATE (18TH OCTOBER) 226 YEARS AGO – ‘REFORM DEMANDED FOR ALL’.

On the 18th October 1791 – 226 years ago on this date – a group of socially-minded Protestants, Anglicans and Presbyterians held their first public meeting in Belfast and formed themselves as ‘The Belfast Society of United Irishmen’ (the organisation became a secret society three years later), electing Sam McTier as ‘President’ ; he was married to Martha, who was a sister of William Drennan.

The aims and objectives of the Society were revolutionary for the times that were in it, and brought the organisation to the attention of the less ‘socially-minded’ political (and military) members of the British ruling-class in Dublin, which was then (and, indeed, now!) England’s political power-base in Ireland – ‘That the weight of English influence in the government of this country is so great, as to require a cordial union among all the people of Ireland, to maintain that balance which is essential to the preservation of our liberties and the extension of our commerce…the sole constitutional mode by which this influence can be opposed, is by a complete and radical reform of the representation of the people in Parliament… no reform is just which does not include every Irishman of every religious persuasion…’

The Belfast Society also adopted the ‘Charter’ of ‘The United Irishmen’ as a whole, and in so doing they drew further attention on themselves from their political enemies, at home and abroad – ‘In the present era of reform, when unjust governments are falling in every quarter of Europe, when religious persecution is compelled to abjure her tyranny over conscience, when the rights of men are ascertained in theory, and theory substantiated by practice, when antiquity can no longer defend absurd and oppressive forms, against the common sense and common interests of mankind, when all governments are acknowledged to originate from the people, and to be so far only obligatory, as they protect their rights and promote their welfare, we think it our duty, as Irishmen, to come forward, and state what we feel to be our heavy grievance, and what we know to be its effectual remedy.’

‘We have no national government, we are ruled by Englishmen, and the servants of Englishmen, whose object is the interest of another country, whose instrument is corruption, and whose strength is the weakness of Ireland; and these men have the whole of the power and patronage of the country, as means to seduce and subdue the honesty of her representatives in the legislature. Such an extrinsic power, acting with uniform force, in a direction too frequently opposite to the true line of our obvious interest, can be resisted with effect solely by unanimity, decision, and spirit in the people, qualities which may be exerted most legally, constitutionally, efficaciously, by the great measure, essential to the prosperity and freedom of Ireland, an equal representation of all the people in parliament. Impressed with these sentiments…we do pledge ourselves to our country, and mutually to each other…’

And with those words, the assembled Irishmen – Theobald Wolfe Tone, Thomas Russell, William Sinclair, Henry Joy McCracken, Samuel Neilson, Henry Haslett, Gilbert McIlveen, William and Robert Simms, Thomas McCabe, Thomas Pearce and Samuel McTier, among others, ensured the continuity of the on-going struggle against the British military and political presence in Ireland.

 

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.

As (Free State) Minister for the Environment, Padraig Flynn will oversea the referendum on the ‘Single European Act’ (an Act which he is opposed to) he will be, as a member of the government, calling for its approval – and sees no anomaly in that position! He has been assured that his “legitimate fears” in relation to divorce and abortion are groundless and says that the declaration of our military neutrality is ‘very important’ (‘1169’ comment – “neutrality” must have a different meaning in Shannon, as far as Leinster House is concerned).

The main thing is, he says, that Ireland (sic – he means the 26-County Free State) should not be playing a secondary role in Europe – he wants “to play on the first team.” He doesn’t know whether he will stay in politics or return to his teaching post as a school teacher, and still pays £1,000 a year towards his pension contribution so that if he does return to teaching for the purposes of his pension his service will be unbroken. He sees himself as a serious politician and looks hurt at any suggestion that he might be regarded as a lightweight, but there are some who find it hard to take him seriously –

“Maybe they should come up and see me sometime. I don’t make personalised remarks about them,” he says, “some of those people have made colossal mistakes in the past but I would like to think that they were doing their best. Maybe they will find that Padraig Flynn is a man of vision and that I have the courage to see that vision through” (‘1169’ comment – must be hard to have such ‘good vision’ when the sun is in your eyes…)

(END of ‘Joker In The Pack’ ; next – ‘Unity! On What Basis?’ , from ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, October 1954.)

 

ON THIS DATE (18TH OCTOBER) 136 YEARS AGO : IMPRISONED IRISHMEN ISSUE ‘NO RENT’ MANIFESTO.

‘Fellow-countrymen! – The hour to try your souls and to redeem your pledges has arrived. The executive of the National Land League forced to abandon the policy of testing the land act, feels
bound to advise the tenant-farmers of Ireland from this day forth to pay no rents under any circumstances to their landlords until the government relinquishes the existing system of terrorism and restores the constitutional rights of the people. Do not be daunted by the removal of your leaders…do not be wheedled into compromise of any sort by the threat of eviction.

If you only act together in the spirit to which, within the last two years, you have countless times solemnly pledged your vows, they can no more evict a whole nation than they can imprison them. Our exiled brothers in America may be relied upon to contribute, if necessary, as many millions of money as they have contributed thousands to starve out landlordism and bring English tyranny to its knees. No power on earth except faintheartedness on your own part can defeat you. Landlordism is already staggering under the blows which you have dealt it amid the applause of the world … one more heroic effort to destroy landlordism at the very source and fount of its existence, and the system which was and is the curse of your race and of your existence will have disappeared forever…

No power of legalized violence can extort one penny from your purses against your will. If you are evicted, you shall not suffer; the landlord who evicts will be a ruined pauper, and the government which supports him with its bayonets will learn in a single winter how powerless is armed force against the will of a united, determined, and self-reliant nation.

Signed CHARLES S. PARNELL, President, Kilmainham Jail
MICHAEL DAVITT, Hon. Sec. Portland Prison;
THOMAS BRENNAN, Hon Sec. Kilmainham Jail
JOHN DILLON, Head Organizer, Kilmainham Jail;

THOMAS SEXTON, Head Organizer, Kilmainham Jail;
PATRICK EGAN, Treasurer Paris, 1881.’

The above is the wording of a ‘NO RENT!’ manifesto issued, from prison – on the 18th October 1881, 136 years ago on this date – by the incarcerated leadership of the ‘Irish National Land League’, calling on small tenant farmers in Ireland to withhold rents ‘owed’ to their British ‘landlords’ until such time as the latter agreed to the demand of the ‘Land League’ for the ‘Three F’s’ – fair rent, fixity of tenure and free sale. The scale of unrest fostered by British greed can be judged by this article, from ‘The Illustrated London News’ of the 21st May, 1881 – ‘Our Special Artist in the disturbed agricultural districts of the west of Ireland contributes another sketch of the perils that frequently beset a process-server when employed in the legal execution of his duty. Some remarks on this subject were made last week, having reference to the instance of a landlord near Claremorris, Mr. Walter Burke*, who, finding that none of the ordinary process-servers in the country would venture to go round and deliver writs of ejectment to his defaulting tenants, has resolved to do it himself; galloping quickly, with his trusty servant, from one farmhouse to another; entering armed with a loaded revolver, not as a menace to others, but for his own needful protection**, and after showing the legal instrument, of which he leaves a copy, riding off as fast as he came…’(‘1169’ comment – *he paid the price for his bully-boy tactics the following year, in Claremorris…**he wouldn’t have needed such “protection” had he been a decent human being in the first place.)

The alphabet of the ‘Children’s Land League’ :

‘A is the army that covers the ground ;
B is the buckshot we’re getting all round ;
C is the crowbar of cruellest fame ;
D is our Davitt, a right glorious name ;
E is the English who’ve robbed us of bread ;
F is the famine they’ve left us instead ;
G is for Gladstone, whose life is a lie ;

H is the harvest we’ll hold or we’ll die ;
I is the inspector, who when drunk is bold ;

J is the jarvey, who’ll not drive him for gold ;
K is Kilmainham, where our true men abide ;
L is the Land League, our hope and our pride ;
M is the Magistrate, who makes black of our white ;
N is no rent, which will make our wrongs right ;
O is Old Ireland, that yet shall be freed ;
P is the Peelers, who sold her for greed ;
Q is the Queen, whose use is not known ;
R is the Rifles, who keep up her throne ;
S is the sheriff, with woe in his train ;
T is the toil that others may gain ;

U is the Union that works bitter harm ;
V is the villain that grabs up the farm ;
W is the warrant for death or for chains ;
X is the ’Express’, all lies and no brains ;
Y is ‘Young Ireland’ spreading the light ;
Z is the zeal that will win the great fight.’

And this is the continuity of that ‘great fight’.

 

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…)

A passage from Paul Scott’s opus magnus on India, ‘A Division of the Spoils’, where the name ‘Ireland’ has been substituted by me for the name ‘India’, may help to illustrate how fair-minded English people look at the ‘Irish Question’ today : “For hundreds of years, Ireland has formed part of England’s idea about herself and for the same period Ireland has been forced into a position of being a reflection of that idea. Up to say 1900, the part Ireland played in our idea about ourselves was the part played by anything we possessed which we believed it was right to possess (like a special relationship with God). Since 1900, certainly since 1918, the reverse has obtained.

The part played since then by Ireland in the English idea of ‘Englishness’ has been that of something we feel it does us no credit to have. Our idea about ourselves will now not accommodate any idea about Ireland except the idea of returning it to the Irish in order to prove that we are English and have demonstrably English ideas. Getting rid of Ireland will cause us at home no qualm of conscience because it will be like getting rid of what is no longer reflected in our mirror of ourselves. The sad thing is that, whereas in the English mirror there is no Irish reflection, in the Irish mirror the English reflection may be very hard to get rid of because, in the Irish mind, English possession has not been an idea but a reality, and often a harsh one.

The other sad thing is that people like the Irish may now see nothing at all when looking in their mirror. Not even themselves? But we shall see. The machinery for demission is wound up and there are overriding economic arguments for setting it in motion. And the fact that they’re still there simply adds to an English sence of grievance.”

Should we now be looking for new thinking, like Scotland and, instead of the sterile patterns of post-colonial rhetoric or the axphyxiating soothsaying of Lenihan-type waffle, should we not be asking for ‘Out by 92’?

(END of ‘Perceptions’ ; next – ‘After 32 Years – An Open Letter’, from ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, February 1955.)

 

REPUBLICAN SINN FÉIN HOLDS ITS 113TH ARD FHEIS, OCTOBER 2017.

Congratulations to all concerned, including Na Fianna Éireann, Cumann na mBan and CABHAIR (who will each have representatives at the event) for sticking to their political principles and refusing to include so-called ‘short cuts’ on their agenda. The Ard Fheis will be held on Saturday/Sunday 21st/22nd October next in a Dublin hotel, where the delegates will discuss 78 motions under six headings – political policy, prisoners, social and economic, organisation, activities and international and will have, on the Saturday, from 10am to 6pm to do so and from 10am to 4.30pm on the Sunday. We’ll be there, as usual, to assist in whatever we can meaning that, unfortunately, we probably won’t be here next Wednesday (25th) as we’ll have left ourselves shy of the best part of three days ‘blog’ time. But we’ll see how time goes for us..

 

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!

SMUGGLING – THE EASY WAY.
A STUDY IN TERROR AND INDIFFERENCE.

“The two balloons?”, replied Ned, “they’re escorting us back into A-Wing…” We both had a laugh. “I mean those balloons that you’re carrying in your arm”, said the screw, sarcastically. “Oh,” said Ned, “I thought that you meant these two balloons here…”, pointing at the two escort screws behind us. “What have you got in them?”, asked the screw. “Mostly vodka and whiskey,” answered Ned, sinisterly. The screw detected the sinister tone of Big Ned’s answer. “D’ya know what I mean like, Ned, we can’t allow inmates to bring drink in on visits or there’ll be trouble. Like after all, it’s against the rules. It would be more than my job’s worth…” said the screw, who was becoming paler by the minute as Big Ned looked down on him, expressionless, almost bored. “Get out of my way or I’ll kick your balls in,” said Ned, without blinking. The screw was looking really uncomfortable now.

“I think you’d be as well getting out of the way,” I said to the screw, and turned to the two screws standing behind us – “What do you two think?” I asked them. “For Christ sake open the fucking door and let him in…you know what he’s like…” said one of the two. “Don’t be telling anybody that I knew about this drink,” said the first screw, to Big Ned, who looked at him and said “Open the gate or I’ll break your nose.” The screw was trying to maintain some sense of personal dignity that probably wasn’t there in the first place, but Ned wouldn’t give him a break at all in front of his two mates. The screw resorted to trying to patronise Ned ; “Here, Ned, you’ll be all right this Christmas with all that drink…” “Mind your own business, ye nosey bastard,” answered Ned, as he walked through the open gate into A-Wing with both his and my Christmas drink. Ned returned my balloons to me and said – “There ye are, no problem. As prophesised.” (MORE LATER).

 

DAVID ROVICS : “THERE WILL ALWAYS BE RESISTANCE…”

“You can say that it’s about the savages
You can say you have a better way to live
You can call it Manifest Destiny
You can talk of all your civilization will give
You can say that we’re a thing of history
And progress is the future you will bring
You can send your armies to these mountains
You can say we’ll prosper beneath your king.

But there will always be resistance…” (from here.)

David stops off in Ireland from time to time (but not often enough, in our opinion) and is one of those rare performers that is genuine about why he is on stage and what it is he hopes to impart by being there ; ‘David Rovics grew up in a family of classical musicians in Wilton, Connecticut, and became a fan of populist regimes early on. By the early 90’s he was a full-time busker in the Boston subways and by the mid-90’s he was traveling the world as a professional flat-picking rabble-rouser. These days David lives in Portland, Oregon and tours regularly on four continents, playing for audiences large and small at cafes, pubs, universities, churches, union halls and protest rallies. He has shared the stage with a veritable who’s who of the left in two dozen countries, and has had his music featured on Democracy Now!, BBC, Al-Jazeera and other networks. His essays are published regularly on CounterPunch and elsewhere, and the 200+ songs he makes available for free on the web have been downloaded more than a million times. Most importantly, he’s really good. He will make you laugh, he will make you cry, he will make the revolution irresistible…’ (from here.)

And that’s not just blurb – if you’re anyway conscious of your political surroundings and have the cop-on to see through the semi-political haze that’s released by the establishment to confuse people, then you’ll enjoy being in the company of like-minded individuals for a few hours and, on Friday 3rd November next, in Hanlon’s Bar , on the North Circular Road, Dublin, you’ll have your chance –

– or, if you can’t make that Dublin gig, he’s in Belfast on the 1st November and Derry on the 2nd (and Norway on the 4th and 5th!) . The ‘1169’ team will be in Hanlon’s, but don’t expect a gig report the next day…!

Thanks for reading,
Sharon.


 


 


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THE ‘A,B,C’s’ OF BRITISH ‘JUSTICE’ IN IRELAND….

These Irishmen were imprisoned in Dublin by the British, who considered them, one and all, as ‘rabble-rousers’ and, from within their prison cells, the prisoners did their utmost to prove the British right by trying their best to ‘rouse’ the ‘rabble’ into fighting back against the British and their so-called ‘landlords’ in this country – indeed, their efforts at doing so gave rise, among other things, to a new method for teaching children the alphabet…113th on the 21st and 22nd with 78 under 6…India and Ireland and dividing up the spoils…this Free State minister invited those voicing opposition to him to “come up and see me sometime”…(MORE ON WEDNESDAY 18TH OCTOBER 2017…)

See you then, thanks – Sharon.


 


 


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ON THIS DATE (27TH SEPTEMBER) 95 YEARS AGO : MORE REPRESSIVE LEGISLATION IMPOSED.

Irish Free State soldiers, left, were given ever more of a free reign to impose the dictat of their paymasters in Leinster House in 1927, with the passing of the gloriously misnamed ‘Public Safety Act’.

In July 1927 a general election was called in the Free State and Fianna Fail won 44 seats to Cosgrave’s 47 : de Valera’s policy was not to enter the Free State parliament until the Oath of Allegiance to the British monarch was removed but, in that same month, Kevin O’ Higgins was assassinated and the Free State government passed a law which would force future Leinster House candidates to swear on their nomination that they would take the Oath of Allegiance : in August 1927, de Valera led the Fianna Fail elected representatives, many of them with revolvers in their pockets, into Leinster House and signed the Oath of Allegiance document. A second general election was held in September 1927 and Fianna Fail increased its vote, winning 57 seats.

In short, Free Staters were once again in power in the Free State (!) but Irish republicans continued to fight back – on the 21st September 1927, six Free State soldiers were killed in a gun battle with the IRA near Ballina in Mayo and, on that same day, the Free State barracks in Drumshambo in Leitrim was attacked and taken by republicans, during which one Stater was killed. On the 22nd September a FS soldier was killed and several others and three civilians injured in a gun and grenade attack by the IRA on enemy troops on Eden Quay in Dublin and, on the day that the ‘Public Safety Act’ was being voted on in Leinster House, several hundred IRA Volunteers attacked the town of Killorglin, in Kerry, and were only denied their victory, after 24 hours of fighting, when more Free State troops arrived in force, from Tralee.

The ‘Public Safety Act’, passed in the Free State assembly by 41 votes to 18 on this date, 27th September, 95 years ago, allowed for the State to execute those captured bearing arms against it and permitted State agents ‘to punish anyone aiding and abetting attacks on the National (sic) Forces’, and/or anyone having possession of arms or explosives ‘without the proper authority’ or anyone ‘disobeying an Army General Order’. ‘Section 5’ of the Act declared that “..every person who is a member of an unlawful association at any time after it has become by virtue of this Act an unlawful association shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and shall be liable on conviction thereof to suffer penal servitude for any term not less than three years and not exceeding five years or imprisonment with or without hard labour for any term not exceeding two years…” .

‘Section 28’ stated that “..any person found guilty by a special court of the offence under the Firearms Act, 1925 (No. 17 of 1925) of having possession of or using or carrying a firearm without holding a firearm certificate therefor, shall if the offence was committed while this Part of this Act is in force be liable to suffer death or penal servitude for life, or any term of years not less than three years, or to imprisonment with or without hard labour for any term not exceeding two years, and shall be sentenced by such court accordingly..”

That ‘Act’ represented politically and morally corrupt legislation and was enacted by a then, and now, politically and morally corrupt political assembly.

 

THOMAS ASHE : WREATH-LAYING CEREMONY AND SEMINAR.

After the 1916 Rising, Thomas Ashe (pictured, left) 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 and died five days later 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.

A wreath-laying ceremony for this brave Irish hero will be held on Saturday, 30th September 2017, at 12 noon, in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin and, afterwards, a seminar on the man will take place in Wynns Hotel, Dublin city centre, from 1pm to 5pm. And, in Kinnard, Lispole, in Kerry, on Sunday 1st October 2017, at 2pm, a commemoration in his honour will take place. All genuine republicans welcome!

 

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.

Specifically, Padraig Flynn was worried that the ‘Single European Act’, if ratified, would herald the introduction of divorce and abortion services. His fears were grounded on the basis that ratification of the Act appeared to give the right to the Court of Justice to apply the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights when ruling on issues of fundamental rights ; the Convention allows for divorce and abortion in certain circumstances.

The response of the then Taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald, to Flynn’s contribution, was characteristic of the way in which the Mayo man is regarded by more liberal and cosmopolitan politicians – Flynn’s speech, Garret FitzGerald said, was “a flight of fancy”. He himself, he said, would attempt to address the issues “in more sober and relevant terms”.

But Padraig Flynn now feels vindicated – he had also expressed worries about Title III of the Single European Act, on political co-operation in foreign policy matters and it was on the basis of that Title that the Supreme Court deemed the process of ratifying the Act unconstitutional. But Flynn, meanwhile, has become an enthusiastic supporter of the Act… (MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DATE (27TH SEPTEMBER) 368 YEARS AGO : A WAR CRIMINAL AND “THE REDUCING OF CARLINGFORD”.

Pictured, left – some of Oliver Cromwell’s Irish victims, sold as slaves and ‘sex workers’ to the highest bidder.

On the 29th April, 1599, a baby boy, Oliver Cromwell, who had been born on the 25th, was christened in Saint John the Baptish church in Huntingdon, England. Decades later, when someone was trawling through the birth records for that period, they came across an unofficial addendum to that particular entry : it read – “England’s plague for five years..” Cromwell should need no introduction to readers of this blog, but some readers may not be aware of the significance of a particular date in this month – the 3rd September – in that creature’s life : on that date in 1649, Cromwell began his nine-day siege of Drogheda after which thousands of its inhabitants were butchered, the infamous ‘Death March’ he forced on his enemy after the battle of Dunbar on the 3rd September 1650 and, one year later on that same date – the 3rd September – he wallowed in more blood and guts, this time in his own country, at the battle of Worcester.

And, somewhere in between wrecking havoc and stealing and selling Irish children, he found the time – on the 27th September in 1649, 368 years ago on this date – to write to his political bosses in London :

‘FOR THE HONOURABLE WILLIAM LENTHALL, ESQUIRE, SPEAKER OF THE PARLIAMENT OF ENGLAND :
Dublin, 27th September 1649.
Mr. Speaker – I had not received any account from Colonel Venables – whom I sent from Tredah to endeavour the reducing of Carlingford, and so to march Northward towards a conjunction with Sir Charles Coote – until the last night. After he came to Carlingford, having summoned the place, both the three Castles and the Fort commanding the Harbour were rendered to him. Wherein were about Forty Barrels of Powder, Seven Pieces of Cannon ; about a Thousand Muskets, and Five-hundred Pikes wanting twenty. In the entrance into the Harbour, Captain Fern, aboard your man-of-war, had some danger ; being much shot at from the Sea Fort, a bullet shooting through his main-mast. The Captain’s entrance into that Harbour was a considerable adventure, and a good service ; as also was that of Captain Brandly, who, with Forty seamen, stormed a very strong Tenalia at Treda, and helped to take it ; for which he deserves an owning by you.

Venables marched from Carlingford, with a party of Horse and Dragoons, to the Newry ; leaving the place, and it was yielded before his Foot came up to him. Some other informations I have received form him, which promise well towards your Northern Interest ; which, if well prosecuted, will, I trust God, render you a good account of those parts. I have sent those things to be presented to the Council of State for their consideration. I pray God, as these mercies flow in upon you, He will give you an heart to improve them to His glory alone ; because He alone is the author of them, and of all the goodness, patience and long-suffering extending towards you. Your army has marched ; and, I believe, this night lieth at Arklow, in the County of Wicklow, by the Sea-side, between thirty and forty miles from this place. I am this day, by God’s blessing, going towards it.
I crave your pardon for this trouble; and rest, your most humble servant, OLIVER CROMWELL.

P.S. I desire the Supplies moved for may be hastened. I am verily persuaded, though the burden be great, yet it is for your service. If the Garrisons we take swallow-up your men, how shall we be able to keep the field? Who knows but the Lord may pity England’s sufferings, and make a short work of this? It is in His hand to do it, and therein only your servants rejoice. I humbly present the condition of Captain George Jenkin’s Widow. He died presently after Tredah Storm. His Widow is in great want.
The following Officers and Soldiers were slain at the storming of Tredah: Sir Arthur Ashton, Governor; Sir Edmund Varney, Lieutenant-Colonel to Ormond’s Regiment; Colonel Fleming, Lieutenant-Colonel Finglass, Major Fitzgerald, with eight Captains, eight Lieutenants, and eight Cornets, all of Horse; Colonels Warren, Wall, and Byrn, of Foot, with their Lieutenants, Majors, etc; the Lord Taaff’s Brother, an Augustine Friar; forty-four Captains, and all their Lieutenants, Ensigns, etc; 220 Reformadoes and Troopers; 2,500 Foot-soldiers, besides the Staff-Officers, Surgeons, etc.’

This misfit had another date with his favourite day and date – 3rd September – in 1658, when he was collected from this Earth by his maker. A pity he was spawned at all.

 

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…)

Writing in the ‘Sunday Times’, Dorothy Wetherburn (Dorothy Wedderburn?) made the following points – “Mrs Thatcher was bad for the Scots ; not just those living in Scotland, but the descendants of the Scots who settled in Ulster 300 and more years ago. They, too, have remained stubbornly nationalistic. Conservatism has been the best guarantee of the link the Unionists wished to preserve. Now, with the Anglo-Irish Agreement (Hillsborough Treaty), faith in that guarantee has been dealt a mortal stroke. It has shown that the British establishment has wholly given up on Ulster’s cause – that there is no political reason for retaining the link* (there has not been a strategic or economic reason for some time) as Tom King made brutally clear.”

Indeed, Peter Brook reiterated in his speech last November (1990) that ‘England has no longer any strategic or economic reason for remaining in Ireland’ and, if there had been a ‘greater quality of esteem’ between the Irish and English governments, then things might have been different. (* ‘1169’ comment : not entirely the case, in our opinion – Westminster and the rest of the British establishment still value the ‘currency’ that is represented, they apparently believe, in maintaining their ’empire’ and, having physically, at least, ‘lost’ part of this country, they refuse point blank to risk being labelled/seen as ‘weak’ by politically and militarily completely ending their occupation in Ireland.) (MORE LATER).

 

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!

SMUGGLING – THE EASY WAY.
A STUDY IN TERROR AND INDIFFERENCE.

My two female visitors started fumbling about with their clothing in the visiting area – it was nearly Christmas 1973 and they had smuggled balloons of alcoholic beverages into me as a Christmas present. “What did you bring me?” I asked. “Six Vodka, four Whiskey and four Vat 19”. “Jesus, how am I supposed to smuggle these back into the Wing [‘A’ Wing, Crumlin Road Gaol?] “Then why not drink them here?” asked my Mother.

“No way. I have to get them inside for the Christmas party.” The half-hour visit was coming to an end and I was trying to secrete all the balloons down my jeans. But there was just too many of them. I heard someone whistling, walking down the visit area towards the gate back into the Gaol. It was big Ned Maguire – he appeared to be cradling something in his arm and it looked very much like balloons of drink… “Ned, c’mere, what are you doing?” I asked him. “My visit’s over. I’m going back inside,” he replied. “I know that, I said, “but what about the balloons?”

“What about them?”, said Ned. “You’re not allowed to bring them in. The screws will take them off you.” “They better not even attempt it,” growled Ned. “But do you want me to carry your drink in as well?”, he asked. “Are you sure?” I asked. “No problem,” Ned prophesised, so I handed him my contraband balloons. Ned stood there, with about 24 small balloons in total, all full of drink, cradled in his arm. My visit was over and I joined Big Ned at the security gate between A-Wing and the visiting area. A screw stood at the gate and two other screws escorted Ned and myself back into the gaol.

As we approached the gate, the screw opened it with a key and said to Ned – “Here, Maguire, where do you think you’re going with those balloons…?” (MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK…

..we won’t be in a position to post our usual offerings (Ard Fheis paperwork job on!) and we may not be able to post on the following Wednesday, 11th October, either, as the Cabhair group are holding a 650-ticket raffle in Dublin on Sunday, 8th October, meaning that we’ll be busy with that from the 3rd to the 9th! We will hopefully slip-in a few words between now and then, but it looks like our next post might not be until Wednesday 18th October next. But with a bit of luck, we’ll do better than that – keep in touch, anyway!

Thanks for reading,
Sharon.


 


 


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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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