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

Two car-loads of police came to Pat Harkin’s door and Pat – tough , courageous man though he was – would as soon they had given him a bit more time to get organised , for ‘wanted cattle’ were grazing nearby among his own herd. But neither of the spotters gave any signal , neither the farmer nor the bailiff, for fear had hold of them by now.

The police took Pat on to the safe ground of accounting for his movements the night before , but they got nothing out of him. After a few days, the cattle were driven into Glendowen , sold, and the price got for them was put back into the defence fund. I was greatly encouraged by this spontaneous act by friends from the Tan days : this group of experienced men could be a great help and, if we suffered any serious loss, there was now no reason why we should not carry out an old-fashioned , seventeenth century cattle raid into Tyrone and Fermanagh to drive out a creacht of cattle that we could scatter over the hard-pressed townlands.

I even prepared the handbill we would distribute in those disloyal areas to explain why Tirconail made a raid , and was further encouraged when William Holmes , an IRA Battalion Commandant in my Brigade in 1921 who took the Treaty side without the personal friendship between us snapping, declared himself willing to bring reinforcements to our aid for the raid. It began to look as if , at long last , we could hold our own on Court decrees , and it never occurred to me – never once – that the government had any other weapon than cattle raids it could use against us effectively. (MORE LATER).



From ‘IRIS’ magazine, Easter 1991.

By Martin Spain.

Theirs is the history of the strong , acceptable to the 26-County establishment and to their friends across the Irish Sea in Whitehall. The reason revisionism is so popular and its advocates get so much space in the newspapers and on television * is that their view of history is one which suits the establishment (I should queue another PSF link here, but you get the picture….!) .

This fact should itself promote a healthy degree of suspicion , for theirs is a neo-colonialist view of history , encouraging the Irish people to feel ashamed of the roots of their state and engendering a degree of guilt and deference to our larger and by their reckoning, long-suffering neighbour, Britain. The past provides us with plenty of facts, but the interpretation of those facts and the choice of what events or personalities to emphasise , play down, ignore, commend or condemn , is up to the individual historian.

The study of history is by its very nature subjective ; where the revisionists are dishonest is in peddling their version of events as the objective truth, while dismissing the republican analysis at the same time as propaganda. Their use of language is very important too – the old cliché that one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter is an appropriate analogy.
(*This from the Party that has its Ard Fheis televised live by RTE television as, indeed, do all constitutional political parties that are deemed ‘respectable’ by the State!)(MORE LATER).


A sticky place for Irish revisionists!

As mentioned above, the PSF Ard Fheis last weekend was televised live by RTE TV , as has been the case for decades now , but one of the motions put forward for discussion which was ‘withdrawn’ before it could be put to the meeting was in connection with the Easter Lily badge.

The motion in question was put forward to the Ard Fheis by Provisional Sinn Féin’s ‘Charles J. Kickham Cumann , Tipperary’ , obviously a group of Provisional ‘republicans’ who never had the opportunity to attend an education class re the ‘Do’s and Don’t’s’ of Irish Republicanism , or perhaps their leadership prefer that their new recruits should remain ignorant of their past , and to know as little as possible about the incidents which led to their formation in 1986, when that group expelled itself from the Republican Movement: the Ard Fheis motion , Number 49 , stated – ‘This Ard Fheis proposes that the Easter Lily be made into a sticker’ , but was marked ‘WITHDRAWN’ , no doubt after one of their remaining pre-1986 members realised it was a short-cut to a sticky wicket for the overall group ! Incidentally , in 1967 , a Tipperary cumann was also responsible for an Ard Fheis motion which sought to ‘adjust’ the Easter Lily badge – ‘At the 1967 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis a motion from the Tippearary Cummain calling for the Easter Lily to be supplied with a self-adhesive backing was passed. After the 1969/70 IRA split, which led to the emergence of the Provisional IRA, the Official IRA and Official Sinn Féin kept the Easter Lily with a self-adhesive backing while the Provisional’s reverted to the traditional paper and pin Easter Lily….’ (See ‘Stickies versus Pinheads’ , here.)

Finally , in comments she made from the speakers podium ,Mary Lou McDonald sneeringly highlighted the (outrageous) pay and/or pensions that ‘retired’ and/or serving (!) State politicians are in receipt of each week , from the State taxpayer , strongly suggesting that none of them are worth it. Which they are not, by the way , by which I mean any of them : see ‘Dig Out’ article , here. Pot , Kettle.

And this just in :

Alex Maskey , Provisional Sinn Féin : no longer willing to hold Westminster to account.

One of Provisional Sinn Féin’s elected representatives in Stormont , Alex Maskey, is so comfortable with his political career in Stormont , implementing British law in Ireland, that he has apparently invented a whole new scenario for himself in which he attempts to convince his supporters that he , and they, are living in a liberated zone : ” The fundamental difference between before the Good Friday Agreement and after the Good Friday Agreement is that the British Government, and the British State, no longer claim jurisdiction over this part of the island. That’s very very important, and that’s a very important building block….”

It’s also “very , very” false and is a completely unhinged manner in which to view the actual political position of the Six Counties in relation to the Westminster writ, which continues to claim jurisdictional control over that part of Ireland. Mr Maskey has taken revisionism to the extreme , stating as ‘fact’ that which bears no resemblance to the true position. We can probably expect a tweet from him saying that his account was hacked and/or that he was mis-quoted or that he thought it was April 1st. But it’s obvious who the real fool is.

AND THEN THERE’S REVISIONISM , FIANNA FÁIL STYLE – an attempt to ‘revise’ the objectives and characters of the 1981 hunger-strikers backfired on the perpetrator who then had to ‘revise’ his own Tweet and then ‘revise’ his standing within the political party he spoke on behalf of !

Tweeted by a Fianna Fáil ‘republican’!

“Thatcher deserves our gratitude for ensuring Provo thugs and criminals who didn’t like prison food deservedly died painfully” – tweeted by a Mr Stephen Kearon (stephen@kearon.ie / 087-2902996) who, at the time he composed it and pressed ‘Send’ , was PRO for Fianna Fáil in the Wicklow area.

His tweet was sent around the political sphere in this wicked little Statelet and the man was asked to ‘clarify’ what he meant by his remark , prompting him to re-think his words and to release this statement – “I deeply regret my comments and have apologised sincerely for the hurt and damage caused by my heated reactions on Twitter. Because of my error of judgment and more importantly for the sake of the party I have withdrawn from the Fianna Fail internal elections to the Party’s Ard Comhairle and resigned from all positions I held in the party. I have no comment to add except to apologise again for the hurt and outrage I have caused.”

That “hurt and outrage” (or, more likely, the fact that he made that comment ‘in public’) also ‘hurt’ and ‘outraged’ Fianna Fáil Head Office in Lower Mount Street in Dublin city centre which , in an attempt to ‘revise’ where it stood in relation to one of its own high-ranking members , issued the following statement to a Wicklow news outlet – ‘Further to your article of the 10 April, 2013 which attributed remarks to Mr. Stephen Kearon: I am instructed as PRO for Fianna Fáil in Wicklow to correct the record in that no such remarks were made by or on behalf of Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party. The individual mentioned in the aforementioned article no longer holds any position within the Fianna Fáil organisation. Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party is a movement with people from many walks of life and in a true republican sense values all and continues to welcome all those interested in rebuilding Ireland through constitutional politics.”

Well , that’s just not good enough – but it might just be a wee bit more acceptable if Fianna Fáil were to ‘revise’ the term ‘The Republican Party’ out of their title and – two birds with the one stone here – thus make people like Mr Stephen Kearon more ‘at home’ with them. But best wait until after the funeral as Stephen and those like him will be otherwise engaged from now to then. And even then maybe allow them a week for mourning…..



Born near Burtonport, County Donegal in 1898 , he grew tall and thin , and was known to keep himself to himself as a teenager , but livened up as he grew older , and continually expressed an interest in the political affairs of the times he was witnessing and had a great interest in the Irish language. But he was not one for trying to impose his own beliefs , whether to do with politics , history , or the Irish language, on anyone else… “…because I believe these things I will always stick to them , but I do not want to force any other person to believe as I do. Let everyone be honest with himself and do what he thinks right. It is my duty to tell you what I believe should be done…”

He was known by now as a Sinn Féiner , but couldn’t take his interest to the level he would have liked, as he was helping to look after his father , who was in poor health : the man died in 1917 , and ‘Plunkett’ , now 19 years of age, needed a secure job to assist the family – he got a position as a guard with the ‘Londonderry (sic) and Lough Swilly Railway Company’ but was forced to leave that job when he was 21 due to continued harassment from the RIC , a British ‘police force’ in Ireland , which knew of his Sinn Féin beliefs. He left Ireland for Scotland and got a job as a miner in the ‘New Mains’ Colliery , where he joined the IRA’s 2nd Battalion Scottish Brigade , B Company. His IRA work included procuring weapons for Army use in Ireland and ensuring that same received safe passage home. At 22 years of age , he was caught by the Scottish police whilst organising a shipment of arms and was sentenced to five years hard labour in Peterhead Prison and was known to have been singled-out for particularly rough treatment by the prison authorities , including long periods of solitary confinement.

The ‘Treaty of Surrender’ was signed in late 1921 and ‘Plunkett’ was one of many who qualified for early release under its terms and conditions (even though he was opposed to that Treaty) and , in 1922, at 24 years of age, he was released and he returned home to Donegal, but was arrested a few months later and placed in detention in Dungloe and then moved to Drumboe. Finally , he was put ‘on hold’ in Finner Camp until arrangements were made to move him to Dublin. From the moment he was first arrested he was determined to escape : he had intended to jump from the Free Staters lorry that was transporting him to Drumboe but another prisoner beat him to it , in Finner Camp he had started a tunnel but this was discovered and he and others planned to seize the tug boat on which they were to be taken to meet the ship that was due to transport them to Dublin. When this didn’t work, they then planned (unsuccessfully) to try and take control of the ship itself!

When ‘Plunkett’ and his comrades landed in Dublin , they were taken to Newbridge Barracks , where they almost immediately began work on a tunnel , but this plan was soon improved on when one of the men got his hands on a Board of Works map , which highlighted the sewerage system and the existing tunnel was then re-directed towards those pipes. They soon reached the buried pipes and in October that year (1922) approximately 160 IRA prisoners effected an escape through the sewerage system and came out the other end in the Kildare section of the River Liffey , from where Neil ‘Plunkett’ O’Boyle got to Dublin and was placed in command of the Dublin No. 2 Brigade, 3rd Battalion, and was stationed in the Wicklow area : it was now November 1922 and , for the next six months , his IRA Unit operated and lived rough in a mountainous area between Tallaght and Glenmalure.

The Ceasefire Order of April 1923 was adhered to by ‘Plunkett’ and his men but they stayed in hiding , as did many IRA Units, until the general situation became clearer – but the Free State Army still hunted them and , indeed, his Unit was attacked by the Staters on 8th May 1923. Michelle Boyle , a relative of ‘Plunkett’ , put the following account on the record at the time : ” Around 5am Rosie Kelly was out with (—-) when she seen Free State soldiers in the vicinity. She told the volunteers. They went into the woods and hid behind a wall. As soon as Free State Soldiers came looking, Plunkett and the column opened fire. The Free State Soldiers sheltered behind Kelly’s house. It wasn’t long until another band of Free State Soldiers came from Moin a’ Bhealaigh and they shot into the woods. They hit their own men but none was hurt seriously. Some volunteers were in Free State soldier’s clothes and managed to escape quickly across the hills. The Column was all very tired and was glad to rest that night. At around this time Plunkett was after getting a shipment of arms from Belfast. That night in Kylebeg they had 2 Thompson guns and 7 rifles. The soldiers had Lewis guns and rifles and there were about 80 soldiers. .Plunkett was a good leader, he was hot-headed but you couldn’t frighten him. He had a sharp mind, knew what time to attack and what time to retreat. And when they were escaping, Wicklow men could guide him to safe houses and over the hills…”

In mid-May 1923 , ‘Plunkett’ and his men were in a safe house in Knocknadruce, County Wicklow when , in the early hours of the morning, they were surrounded by Free State forces , under the command of a Belfast man, Felix Mc Corley. IRA man Tom Heavey, who was in the house at the time, explained what transpired : ” Plunkett wanted the mother and daughter to be let out of the house. The Staters wouldn’t hear of that and threatened to bomb them out. That was a favourite trick throwing grenades through the window. This put Plunkett in a spot as he couldn’t let the women be injured. So he said, ‘Let me come out’. Out he came with his hands up and walked slowly towards a stone stile, then at the right hand corner of the house. When he got there he spoke a few words with this Free State Officer named McCorley, a Belfast man perched on a stone ditch above him. Suddenly McCorley raised his revolver and shot Plunkett in the eye, the bullet passing through his upraised hands. For good measure he shot him again through the head. He just shot him. I saw it all. It was cold blooded murder. The others in the house were rounded up and taken away…” (More here.)

The 90th Anniversary of the State execution of Neil ‘Plunkett’ O’Boyle will be marked in Knocknadruce , County Wicklow, on Sunday 12th May 2013 at 3pm : those attending are asked to assemble in Hollywood at 2.30pm.


Margaret Thatcher and Augusto Pinochet. That’s Pinochet on the right (even though they both were).


“She said, if the northern [Catholic] population want to be in the south, well why don’t they move over there? After all, there was a big movement of population in Ireland, wasn’t there? Nobody could think what it was. So finally I said, are you talking about Cromwell, prime minister? She said, that’s right, Cromwell…..” – the words of ‘Sir’ David Goodall, then a British diplomat who was one of the most senior British officials negotiating with the Dublin Leinster House administration. He told a BBC four-part documentary, Endgame in Ireland, that Margaret Thatcher made the “outrageous” Cromwell proposal during a late night conversation at Chequers. (More here.)

Thatcher would not have seen her ‘Cromwell Proposal’ as “outrageous” for the simple reason she didn’t consider Cromwell’s actions in Ireland to be “outrageous”. When the two of them meet up in Hell , they can reminisce about the times they bullied and tried to terrify the Irish people , as well as their own people , and perhaps one will remind the other that , despite their best efforts, Irish opposition to British interference in this country is still alive and well. And will be, for as long as it takes.

Thanks for reading,

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
This entry was posted in History/Politics. and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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