ERNIE O’MALLEY : SOLDIER OF OGLAIGH na hEIREANN …….
Following the recent publication of O’Malley’s third book ‘Raids And Rallies’, on the Tan War years 1920-1921 , Frances-Mary Blake , who edited the book and his earlier works , writes an appreciation of the man who wrote ‘On Another Man’s Wound’ and ‘The Singing Flame’.
From ‘IRIS’ magazine , July 1983.
Ernie O’ Malley was a fighter and a writer , scholar and farmer , involuntary Sinn Fein TD (elected for North Dublin while imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin in 1923) , lover of literature and promoter of the arts : he kept two ideals throughout his life – the Irish Republic and personal development through the study of the many shades of beauty in the world .
His first volume of memoirs (to 1921) was published soon after his 1936 return to Ireland . The second book (1921-1924) made fresh historical reading as the first detailed and personal account of the Civil War years by a high-ranking republican , so ‘The Singing Flame’, only published in 1978 , is a rare new source for a poorly documented period in our history .
Released from the internment camp in July 1924 , he felt that in Cosgrave’s Ireland – “…my name was enough to damn me..” and , until 1935 , he mostly travelled abroad , either aiding the Catalan separatists, or walking through Spain , France or Italy , to follow his love of art and architecture , music and mountains . In 1928 he had journeyed to America (with a false British passport) to help raise funds for a newspaper that he hoped would “…arouse the (Irish) nation’s concern , that would give to the world outside Ireland the truth , aims and aspirations of the Irish people , instead of a misrepresentation that served the interests of the British.” That project later ironically became ‘The Irish Press’ Group …….
Problems such as the high population turnover in Ballymun is affecting the local all-Irish school , Scoil an tSeachtar Laoch. This forces parents to take their children away from the school when they move and has hindered its further development , such as the ability to start a secondary school based on the present school’s turnover . But a symbol of the school’s permanence on the Ballymun landscape is the new school building which is expected to be finished later this year (1982) .
Different from other schools , which are run by a bureaucratic and inflexible board of governors , Scoil an tSeachtar Laoch is primarily run by a democratically elected and responsive parents’ committee which meets fortnightly .
In addition to winning the All-Ireland schools’ drama slogadh (‘festival’) six times out of seven , and winning for Ballymun three annual awards for the area that has done most to promote the use of Irish , the Ballymun school has provided the impetus for a growth in popularity of adult Irish classes , hurling and camogie throughout the housing estate . And , hopefully , further afield .
[END of ‘BALLYMUN INTERVIEW’]
(Next : ‘Sixty Years Of Repression – An Outline History Of The RUC’ ; From 1982)
OPERATIONAL COMMENTS OF A BRITISH ARMY OFFICER…….
British Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Dewar of the Royal Green Jackets has served in Cyprus , Borneo and Malaya , as well as in the Occupied Six Irish Counties . He has written three previous books – ‘Internal Security Weapons And Equipment Of The World’ and ‘Brushfire Wars’ . The extracts reproduced here are from ‘The British Army In Northern Ireland’ , which was published by ‘Arms and Armour Press’ in 1985 . The underlined comments in this article are ours . This article reflects the operational thinking of a British military commander , more so than his political or ideological outlook.
From ‘IRIS’ magazine , October 1987.
On the fourth day of the observation operation , the British Army Staff Sergeant in charge suspected that his ‘Observation Post’ close to the pub in Belleek had been spotted by a man entering the premises . Shortly afterwards a small boy came out of the pub , crossed the road and made straight for the derelict house where the ‘Post’ was located . The BA Staff Sergeant concluded that the security of the ‘Post’ had been compromised and evacuated the position promptly . Later , when the Staff Sergeant and his Lance-Corporal had temporarily left the radio-operator and the gunner in order to reconnoitre a new ‘Observation Post’ with a better view of the pub , they paused at a gap in a hedge which gave an excellent view of the surrounding countryside .
They noticed a dark-blue car pull up at House ‘A’ : four armed men wearing white hoods got out of the car . It was 9.40pm and the car had been hijacked earlier that evening from a car dealer’s showroom . The two British Army men watched as the four armed men made their way carefully along the hedgerows to House ‘B’ . The men stopped outside the house , spoke to the occupants and then moved , two of them just south of the house and two a short distance to the east , where there were some concrete bunkers . The Staff Sergeant , who was caught off his balance , had to make some quick decisions . He was temporarily out of touch with his colleagues in both ‘ Observation Post’ parties , had not got the extra fire-power of his two light machine-guns , and his communication equipment to contact his base was not to hand . The range – about 500 yards – was too great for the lance-corporal’s rifle to be used to any real effect .
Without rapid reinforcement , the gunmen would probably make good their escape to the east if fired on . The British Army patrol commander resolved to report the situation to his Battalion Tactical HQ as quickly as possible and then to concentrate his men and their firepower in the excellent position overlooking the gunmen in order to pin them down . He left the lance-corporal to observe the four gunmen , instructing him to open fire only if they started moving away . The Staff Sergeant moved back through the bushes to his OP position 50 metres up the hill and , from there , he relayed the situation to his Battalion HQ through his supporting OP up the hill and ordered the latter to join him . Collecting all his men , he set out to rejoin the lance-corporal but , before he could reach him , the lance-corporal opened fire…….