By Peadar O’Donnell ; first published in January 1963.
‘An Phoblacht’ had considerable circulation in that area of Clare and there was some correspondence between Seán Hayes, the councillor, and myself, and I visited the Glen a few times. By lucky chance Moss Twomey and I travelled there together and it greatly encouraged Hayes that Moss should speak with lively interest and understanding of the situation in which Hayes found himself. The local people looked to him for leadership.
I was anxious that Clare County Council should adopt the resolution on which Colonel Moore and I rested our campaign – the chairman of the Council was Frank Barrett and the Barrett family was one of the great Fianna Fáil influences in Clare. I knew the man , as we were both members of the IRA Executive in 1922 and we met again in Mountjoy Jail in 1923. He was like the rest of us, anti-landlord, anti-rancher, in the Fenian pattern. His brother Joe was, I think, still a member of the IRA at the time so likely it was on some errand on that level that Moss Twomey and I went to see him.
Joe was an aggressive radical and was already interested in the land annuity agitation – he had no doubts that Frank Barrett would be anxious to give a hand ; the only push he would need would be a word from Moss Twomey, and Moss had no hesitation in encouraging Frank to bring Clare County Council in on our side. Barrett and Seán Hayes managed the matter very well indeed and, with a minimum of previous publicity, our resolution declaring land annuities to be illegal and immoral and demanding that decrees enforcing them be suspended came before the Council and was adopted. This brought the agitation on to de Valera’s doorstep, for this was his constituency. But he took no notice of it….. (MORE LATER).
THE ANATOMY OF AN AFTERNOON : THE STORY OF THE GIBRALTAR KILLINGS……..
By Michael O’Higgins and John Waters. From ‘Magill Magazine’ , October 1988.
At the same instant that Soldier ‘A’ had fired one round into the centre of Daniel McCann’s back, he noticed, out of the corner of his eye, the bag which Mairead Farrell was carrying on her left shoulder was moving. She swung her shoulder to the right and brought the bag round towards the middle of her body. He couldn’t see her hands but it seemed to him to be an aggressive movement and he shot Mairead Farrell once in the back also. He then turned his fire back on Daniel McCann , shooting a further three rounds into him, as he was falling to the ground – two more into his back and one into his head. McCann fell to the ground, his hands out from his body. By this time, Mairead Farrell was also on the ground. Soldier ‘A’ did not hear Soldier ‘B’ firing and, as far as he, Soldier ‘A’ , was concerned, he was the only one firing at Farrell and McCann. Immediately after the shooting he turned around and at that instant heard a police siren.
Soldier ‘B’, concentrating on the back of Mairead Farrell in front of him, out of the corner of his eye, noticed Daniel McCann looking over his left shoulder. He heard a “sort of shout” from Soldier ‘A’. It wasn’t a complete word, more like the start of a word and afterwards he would say that he assumed it to be Soldier ‘A’ initiating the arrest procedure. At the same instant he heard firing and also saw Mairead Farrell make a sharp movement to the right , as he was simultaneously drawing his gun. Farrell turned slightly, bringing the bag on her left shoulder round and moving her right hand towards the middle of her body. He fired into the centre of her back, but couldn’t recall afterwards how many rounds he fired at her.
By then, he would say afterwards, Daniel McCann was “in a threatening position” and was making a movement sideways , towards Soldier ‘B’. Soldier ‘B’ then fired at McCann, but he didn’t know how many rounds he fired at him. The two were by now falling to the ground and he turned back towards Mairead Farrell and fired at her again while she was falling to the ground, but he couldn’t recall afterwards how many rounds he had fired this time either. All three sets of shots were fired from the same position, Soldier ‘B’ would say at the inquest. He did not move while he was firing and he fired while in a standing position, with his arms outstretched. In all he fired seven rounds and stopped firing when he saw that both Mairead Farrell and Daniel McCann had their hands out from their bodies and was satisfied that they no longer represented a threat to the Gibraltarian people. (MORE LATER).
ON THIS DATE (26TH FEBRUARY) 52 YEARS AGO.
THE IRA ‘BORDER CAMPAIGN’ (‘Resistance Campaign/Operation Harvest’) ENDS.
Photo – IRA Volunteers , pictured around the time of the Border Campaign.
At the time of this IRA campaign , Eamon de Valera’s Fianna Fail State administration were of the opinion that it actually began in 1954 , with the raid on Gough Barracks , in Armagh, on Saturday 12th June that year (1954) , in which some 300 weapons were liberated from the British Army. Fianna Fail considered that proof enough that the IRA “…had renewed its activities, was rearming, recruiting young men and engaging in drilling and other manoeuvres….” and indeed they were. On 11th December 1956 , communication was sent to the IRA Volunteers involved – over 150 men – that the operation would begin at midnight on 12th December and , at the appointed time, three IRA flying columns crossed the Free State border to attack British Army depots and administration centres , air fields , radar installations , BA barracks , courthouses , bridges , roads and custom posts : the ‘Resistance Campaign/Operation Harvest’, had begun proper , being co-ordinated from County Monaghan.
In a letter from the leadership of the then Sinn Féin organisation , which was signed by Maire Ni Gabhan and Miceal Treinfir (see ‘Sinn Féin Rally In Dublin’, here) and which was sent from the Sinn Féin Office, 3 Lr. Abbey Street, Dublin, the Secretary of each Cumann was instructed to read out a statement after every Mass in their area , on Sunday 16th December (1956), announcing the start of ‘the Border Campaign’, to achieve “….an independent, united, democratic Irish Republic. For this we shall fight until the invader is driven from our soil and victory is ours…” , an announcement which , later, prompted the then Free State ‘Taoiseach’ , Fianna Fail’s Seán Lemass , to describe the IRA as being “similar to fascists” re its decision to mount such a campaign.
Although it did not achieve its objectives, the Border Campaign kept ‘the National Question’ in the political forefront , enabled the Republican Movement to make new connections and ensured that valuable operational lessons were learned and documented for the next generation. On 26th February 1962 the IRA, through the Irish Republican Publicity Bureau, in a communication signed by J. McGarrity, sent out the following message: ” The leadership of the resistance movement has ordered the termination of the Campaign of Resistance to British Occupation launched on December, 1956. Instructions issued to Volunteers of the Active Service Units and of local Units in the occupied area have now been carried out. All arms and materials have been dumped and all full-time active volunteers have been withdrawn. Foremost among the factors motivating this course of action has been the attitude of the general public whose minds have been deliberately distracted from the supreme issue facing the Irish people – the unity and freedom of Ireland. The Irish resistance movement renews its pledge of eternal hostility to the British Forces of Occupation in Ireland. It calls on the Irish people for increased support and looks forward with confidence – in co-operation with the other branches of the Republican Movement – to a period of consolidation, expansion and preparation for the final and victorious phase of the struggle for the full freedom of Ireland.”
Although that Campaign was called off as, indeed, were others like it over the centuries of resistance , opposition to British military and political interference in Irish affairs remains in place and has been bolstered by those ‘failed campaigns’. Even when we ‘lose’ , we win!
THIS DATE (26th February) in 943 AD : THE DEATH OF KING MUIRCHERTACH OF AILEACH.
The Vikings of Dublin got a lucky break when they ambushed ‘Muirchertach of the Leather Cloaks/Muirchertach na Cochall Craicinn’ and slew him on this day. Muirchertach was heir apparent to the Kingship of Tara – Ireland’s most prestigious Royal title.
Muirchertach, son of Niall, i.e. Muirchertach of the Leather Cloaks, King of Aileach and the Hector of the western world, was killed by the ‘heathens’, i.e. by Blacair son of Gothfrith, king of the foreigner, at Glas Liatháin beside Cluain Chaín, in Fir Rois, on the first feria, fourth of the Kalends of March (26th February). Ard Macha was plundered by the same foreigners on the following day, the third of the Kalends of March.
Muirchertach was the son of Niall Glundubh who had himself been killed fighting the Vikings at Dublin in 919 AD. He had fought and won many battles and in one report is mentioned as leading a naval expedition against the Norsemen of the Hebrides. However he suffered an embarrassing episode in 939 AD when in a surprise raid his enemies’ ships raided his fortress of Aileach (outside Derry) and carried him off. He was forced to ransom his own release to regain his freedom. Muirchertach, under the ancient rule of the kingship of Tara alternating between the northern and southern O’Neills, was due to replace King Donnachadh on the latter’s demise. Sometimes though ambition got the better of him and he clashed with his senior colleague and at other times co-operated with him. Muirchertach married Donnchad’s daughter Flann, but relations between the two were not good. Conflict between them is recorded in AD 927, 929, and 938.
His most remarkable feat came in 941 AD when he carried out a ‘Circuit of Ireland’ with a picked force of 1,000 men and secured pledges from all the principal kingdoms and carried away with him hostages as security. The Dalcassians (Brian Boru’s people) alone refused to submit. But Muirchertach eventually handed over all his hostages to Donnachadh as a mark of respect. But his luck ran out in 943 AD when he was taken by surprise by the Vikings of Dublin somewhere near Ardee in County Louth. It looks like Muirchertach was attempting to fend off a raid by them that was heading north towards Armagh when he was taken off guard.
Muirchertach son of Niall, heir designate of Ireland, was killed in Áth Firdia by the ‘foreigners’ of
Áth Cliath (Dublin) on February 26th, 943 AD.
160 YEARS AGO ON THIS DATE (26th February) : ‘GUILTY’ OF HIGH TREASON BUT PARDONED AND TRANSPORTED.
William Smith O’Brien : died at 61 years of age in Wales, having been exiled from Ireland by the British.
On the 17th October 1803, ‘Sir’ Edward O’Brien (the ‘4th Baronet’ of Dromoland Castle, County Clare) and his wife, Charlotte (nee Smith) – well established political conservatives and supporters of the Orange order – celebrated the birth of their second son, whom they named William (in later years, after inheriting land from his mother, William added the surname ‘Smith’ to his name) . He was educated at Harrow, in London, and Trinity College in Cambridge (he was later to describe his education thus : “I learnt…much that was evil and little that was good…”) and, at 25 years of age (in 1828) he was elected to Westminster for the Conservative Party (for the Ennis constituency), a position he held for four years and, at 29 years young, he married Lucy Caroline Gabbett, and they had seven children together. At 32 years of age he won a seat to represent Limerick. He was a strong supporter of Catholic emancipation and, at 40 years of age, he joined Daniel O’Connell’s anti-union ‘Loyal National Repeal Association’, which he left three years later. Within a few years, he had joined the ‘Young Irelanders’ organisation and helped to establish within it a group called ‘The Irish Confederation’ which organised as best it could for an armed uprising in Ireland against British rule , but the timing was wrong: Ireland was experiencing ‘An Gorta Mór‘, and its remaining people were too exhausted for anything other than trying to stay alive.
One of the leaders of ‘The Young Irelanders’ , John Mitchel , was ‘arrested’ for writing ” …wild and menacing words …” then , in April 1848 , the ‘Treason Felony Act’ was introduced , followed by the suspension of ‘Habeas Corpus’ on July 25th , 1848 ; William Smith O’Brien recognised that the British were ‘battening down the hatches’ and, with John Mitchel in a British prison , he was in command. He called for an immediate Rising against the British and an attempt at a rebellion did take place on the 29th July 1848 in Tipperary but it failed , leading to the arrest of the leaders of the ‘Confereration’ , Thomas Francis Meagher, Terence McManus, Patrick O’Donohoe and William Smith O’Brien (who was arrested on the 6th August 1848 and tried at a special sitting of the district court at Clonmel, Co. Tipperary : he was sentenced to death on 10th October 1848) , all of whom were deemed by the British to be guilty of High Treason and were sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered.
Following the court case, meetings were held in Ireland and England with the aim of raising a petition against the severity of the sentences and pointing out that the jury involved had recommended clemency but were ignored by the judge – over 80,000 people willingly listed their names, addresses, occupations etc (in what is considered to be the first mass political petition movement) resulting in the sentences being commuted to transportation for life. The four ‘dissidents’ left Ireland on the 29th July 1849 for exile in Van Diemen’s Land. On the 26th February 1854, O’Brien won a conditional pardon which banned him from entering Ireland and he and his family moved to Brussels where, amongst other duties, he wrote a political book : he won his final pardon two years later, in May 1856, and returned to Ireland to a hero’s welcome. Asked how he now felt about his actions, he replied – “I had firmly resolved not to say or write or do anything which could be interpreted as a confession on my part that I consider myself a ‘criminal’ in regard to the transactions of 1848….” .
His wife died in Ireland on the 13th June 1861 , and he himself passed away three years later, in his 61st year, in Bangor, Wales, and is buried in Rathronan Churchyard in Limerick. The inscription on the family headstone reads – ‘Here lies Edward William, eldest son of William Smith O’Brien, a just man, a lover of his people.
Born 24 January 1837 Died 21 January 1909.
William Smith O’Brien, Born 17 October 1803 Died June 1864.
Lucy Caroline O’Brien, Born 23 September 1811 Died 13 June 1861′.
Like his son, Edward , William Smith O’Brien was ‘a just man, a lover of his people…’ and, least we forget, a ‘dissident’ of his day.
NOT A HOUSE FOR JUNK MAIL , OR JUNK CALLERS!
The above banner was put up in the past week on a house in Dublin in connection with the council elections taking place this May. The three political parties mentioned (and others unmentioned and unmentionable!) are, between them, responsible for new taxes being loaded on an already-overtaxed workforce and an overburdened unemployed workforce. A ‘Household Tax’ morphed into a property tax, which obliges householders to pay a yearly sum to the State for having the cheek to own the roof over their heads, a tax on water, a tax on septic tanks, a broadcasting tax (which , believe it or not, is a State demand for money not from the broadcaster but from those with the potential capability to receive that which is broadcast!) , an increase in the USC tax , and an increase in the PRSI tax. The same political gypsies, tramps and thieves are responsible for families being evicted from their homes and for the closure of hospital wards and, indeed, the closure of actual hospitals in the State.
The “unmentioned and unmentionable” mentioned (!) above are those not named on the banner but who are quite content to sit beside those mentioned and vote with and for them, if in doing so they can prolong the political administration and the gravy train which nurtures it and them. Those individual political parties are only a symptom of the problem , that problem being a corrupt State. And no amount of banners will fix that.
Thanks for reading, Sharon.