Ernie O’Malley, pictured during his arrest in Dublin Castle in 1921 . He was using the alias ‘Bernard Stewart’ .

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’s book ‘ On Another Man’s Wound’ records the war against the British forces from 1916 until the calling of the ‘Truce’ in July 1921 and is told by one who volunteered for Oglaigh na hEireann in 1917 and by 1921 was Officer Commanding of the 2nd Southern Division and , later , Assistant Chief of Staff in the Civil War. It is an exciting read , always enthralling , beautifully written , and far and away the best of the Tan War books .

Ernie O’ Malley was brave and energetic in his total dedication to the Republic as proclaimed in Easter Week 1916: his personal adventures , dramatic and varied , are an integral part of the wider significances of the national struggle . Unlike some of his companions who later called themselves ‘the Old IRA’ or ‘the Neutral IRA’ , he did not change his republican beliefs – indeed , he recognised that some Irish have always helped in the conquest. During the ‘National Emergency’ years of World War Two , de Valera himself was very keen to have so famous a fighter as Ernie O’ Malley join the Free State army and pressure was put on him to follow many renowned republicans into its ranks . O’ Malley asked –
” Would I have to inform on my former comrades and work against them ? But of course ! Join ? Certainly not ! ” And that was that . Indeed , only a month or so before his last illness he was writing in his diary – ” I can never see a peeler without feeling uneasy……. ”

AN OUTLINE HISTORY OF THE RUC . RUC brutality , torture , murder and lies were brushed aside as the unionist establishment congratulated itself for the continuing existence of a paramilitary force which had maintained and safe-guarded its rule in the Occupied Six Counties of Ireland…….
From ‘IRIS’ magazine , July/August 1982.

The Northern RIC was almost entirely composed of Protestants : a British ‘royal commission’ reporting on the 1857 pogroms against Belfast Catholics found that this overwhelmingly Protestant para-military ‘police’ force had behaved in a sectarian fashion , and had actually led attacks on Catholic homes and businesses – just as at Burntollet in January 1969, and in the lower Falls in August , when out-of-uniform and uniformed RUC men and ‘B’ Specials co-ordinated the attacks on Catholics.

That ‘royal commission’ recommended that ‘…a total change should be made in the mode of appointment and the management of the local police..” . 112 years later , the Hunt Report commissioned by the British Government was still tinkering along the same lines of ‘reform’. But just as in 1857 , so in 1969 – nothing changed in the essential sectarianism of the ‘police’ , and throughout the 19th century , attacks on Nationalist homes and property continued unabated .

On December 6th , 1921 , the so-called ‘Treaty’ was initialled , soon to be ratified by the dominant Free State faction in the South of Ireland , and Ireland was partitioned . In the twenty-six counties the implementation of the new status was undertaken by Free State forces using British arms and equipment , and employing brutally repressive measures . In the Six Counties , the job of ‘pacifying’ Nationalist opposition fell largely to the RUC…….

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.

Still keeping the reserve of four men airborne in the Scout helicopter , the British Army Company Commander ordered the rest of the newly arrived platoon , who were at House ‘D’ , to move over to House ‘A’ and search it . It was there that the Sten gun belonging to the wounded Volunteer was found , loaded and cocked , lying on the road near the driveway . In the tin shed they found the Peugeot car , its doors open , the heater on and two empty 9mm cartridge cases on the floor .

Houses ‘A’ and ‘B’ and the near-by bunkers were occupied and the order was given for all mobile operations to cease until first light . Early the following morning two British Army search teams , including two search dogs and a tracker dog , were flown in to search the areas of Houses ‘A’ and ‘B’ and the bunkers . In the thick bushes around the bunker , an 18-year-old Volunteer , Daniel McGuinness, was found , clutching his Armalite . He was carrying 141 rounds . It was his first mission .

Later in the day , the tracker dog found a positive track leading from the bunkers to House ‘F’ , just over 2,000 metres to the south-east . It subsequently transpired that a car had been hijacked by an armed man at about 5.50am : this was almost certainly used to evacuate Malachy McParland who was admitted to hospital in Dundalk , County Louth that day , with three bullet wounds in his back . The three captured Volunteers received 14 year prison sentences . What they had been planning is not certain , but they may have come to the area with the intention of attacking the original British Army Observation Post near the pub which the BA Staff Sergeant had feared had been compromised , or they may have been planning to ambush a routine BA patrol . What is certain , however , is that the British Army learned a lot from the operation…….

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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