By Peadar O’Donnell ; first published in January 1963.

The Irish countryside never knew James Connolly , but it stirred the live embers of Fenian radicalism that was its own share of the natural tradition of struggle : it was the young men of the countryside who broke John Redmond in a series of by-elections , and opened the way for Sinn Féin , but city-minded Sinn Féin was darkly suspicious of the ‘wild men on the land’ and were alert for any talk of breaking down estate walls.

The Republican Government sent special commissioners to trouble spots , honest men who wanted to see the clearances of the past restored to the people in a pattern of family farms , but they saw this process as a function of government which must wait on recognition of the Republic for fulfilment – ‘ First of all win the war….bear in mind that the eyes of the world are on us , a people fighting for pure ideals…’

Many an IRA man in jail in 1922 and 1923 cursed his use as a defender of pure ideals to patrol estate walls , enforce decrees for rent , arrest and even order out of the country leaders of local land agitations. There was only one broad arrow of the conquest from which the countryman could free himself without drawing Dublin on him – he could withhold his land annuity. The Irish Land Commission collected this money and paid it over to Britain ; when tenants defaulted , the Land Commission could invoke the courts but if it failed to do so effectively Britain could recoup itself by withholding the amount of the shortage from grants from central funds to Irish local councils – the local rate then took up the burden. No general revolt against land annuities was preached , nor even locally except in the Rosses of Donegal.

Elsewhere , tenants defaulted , furtively , and Britain recouped itself , silently – sparks without heat enough to make a blaze…..

THE PETER BERRY PAPERS……. The Top Secret Memoirs of Ireland’s Most Powerful Civil Servant : Dirty Tricks, Election ’69/ Spying on a Unionist Politician/ Keeping the (State) Taoiseach informed/ The Garda Fallon Murder/ Advice to Jack Lynch- ‘Fire the pair of them…’/ Vivion De Valera’s advice to O’Malley/ Rumours of a Coup D’Etat/ The Internment Plot, November 1970/ Secret Meeting with William Craig.
From ‘MAGILL’ magazine , June 1980.

JUNE 17TH 1970 :

” The Book of Evidence for the arraignment of Mr. Haughey , Mr. Blaney , Captain Kelly , John Kelly (of Belfast) and Albert Luykx was circulated : within days threats were made on my home telephone to my wife. The Book contained a statement by me as to my telephone conversation with Mr. Haughey on Saturday 18th April and a reference to another telephone conversation with Chief Superintendent Malone of Garda HQ immediately afterwards which the Law Officers thought would be corroborating evidence against Mr. Haughey.

In following days I had consulations with the Attorney General’s office and was asked to make an aide memoire for the Attorney General which would give an insight into my background knowledge of events that might come up at the trial and of my relations with Mr. Haughey and Mr. O Morain. I did so , and it ran to more than twelve pages.

Part 1 dealt with questions of law – matters of privilege and the like – on which I thought that I might require guidance. It also dealt with my relations with Mr. Haughey who had been my Minister from October 1961 to October 1964 and it outlined my association with Mr. O Morain who had been my Minister from March 1968 to April 1970 ; his ill-health , his failure to keep the Taoiseach informed earlier of Mr. Haughey’s dealings with subversive elements. Additionally it mentioned my view that while the defendant Albert Luykx was a conspirator he was not a conscious subversive , that he was acting as he did because of being flattered by association with Ministers – indeed , it was a mystery to me and to my colleagues in the Department and the police why Luykx was being prosecuted because it was evident to us that with his political history it was a virtual certainty that no Irish jury would bring a verdict of ‘guilty’ and if he were not prosecuted his statement to the police could be used in evidence against Mr. Blaney…..”


CONGRATS to Rose and Tommy , Tess , Pete , Sarah and Brian Mór…..

Since at least 1978 – when the CABHAIR organisation was known as ‘An Cumann Cabhrach’ – Irish Republicans have sought to officially honour those amongst them who have ‘gone that extra mile’ by holding an event at which such people can be presented with a small token of acknowledgement by the overall Republican Movement.

The 2012 Honorees are Rose (a sister of Richard Goss) and Tom Doran from Leinster , Tess Moten from Munster , Pete Quinn from Connacht , Sarah Murphy from Ulster and , sadly , posthumously , Brian Mór Ó Baoighill from the USA. The event will be held on Saturday 19th May next, in Dublin city centre , at the Academy Plaza Hotel in Cathal Brugha Street / Findlater Place.

Incidentally , the ‘An Cumann Cabhrach’ organisation was founded in 1953 by Rita McGlynn , Ella Woods , Donal O’Connor , Tom Gill , Nan Dillon and Tom Doyle – an IRA activist ‘with a difference’- and now operates from 223 Parnell Street , Dublin 1 , and is, perhaps , best known for the Christmas Swim which it organises each year , regardless of the weather ! The CABHAIR Testimonial held in that same year of ‘the big freeze’ (2010) can be viewed here , whilst last year’s event can be seen here. Myself and one other ‘1169…’ rep will be present at the event this coming Saturday and hope to publish a brief report and a few pics on this blog before the weekend is out. I said “hope to” because this gig has been known to last for a full weekend (and then some!) and we ‘1169ers’ just hate doing half a story…..!

Thanks for reading,


About 11sixtynine

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