By Peadar O’Donnell ; first published in January 1963.
The ‘Land Annuity’ resolution put nothing up to de Valera , but it cleared the ground for our second proposal, and the second resolution fairly tugged at de Valera’s coat-tails. It called for a public meeting at Ennis, in support of the resolution already passed against annuities, and it asked all the TD’s (sic : members of Leinster House) for the County of Clare to attend and speak. I do not recall now, whether Colonel Moore and I were publicly invited to the platform but I do know that we were both named among the speakers on the posters under our banner-heading ‘CALL OFF THE BAILIFFS’. I wrote that poster.
I think it likely that I spent some time in Clare to help Hayes with preparation for the Ennis meeting, not that much preparation was needed for de Valera’s name alone would be enough to muster Clare. I remember Father John Fahy called for me at Hayes’s home and took me into Galway where his warriors had problems of their own. On the way there, we called on Father Bill Mahony, who was my ‘postbox’ for Galway. A letter had come by that day’s post , from Colonel Moore, which enthused over the good that must come of the Ennis meeting, but it carried a word of warning that worried me. In an underlined footnote he wrote that it would be a great pity if anything should prevent me from getting on the platform at Ennis.
As it happened I had some little cause to fear arrest then, so I went to earth in Galway and, like many other occasions when I was forced off the main road on to the laneways, I benefited greatly from the experience. I got to know the group around Father John, one by one , in their own homes , and I shared fireside chats with them in a setting of their neighbours. We met in conference. (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.
Officer ‘M’ , the leader of the surveillance operation, had been at the border when Mairead Farrell and Daniel McCann had come in, been driven about in a small beige-coloured car. He was stopped in a traffic jam just beyond the bridge leading from Line Wall Road onto Smith Dorrien Avenue when he heard the sound of gunfire. He looked up and saw a woman he recognised as Mairead Farrell being shot by a soldier- he could only see the top half of her body as his view was partially obscured. She fell to the ground, the soldier was on her left side and she was falling away from him. His impression, he would recall afterwards, was that the soldier had stepped from the footpath onto the road as he was firing at her. Then he noticed a police car go north through the traffic lights with its siren on. He couldn’t be sure but he thought the siren might have started just before the gunfire.
Officer ‘H’ of the surveillance team was positioned in Smith Dorrien Avenue, just short of the junction with Winston Churchill Avenue and he saw the three IRA members at the junction split up and Daniel McCann and Mairead Farrell begin to walk north. There was a police car in the queue of traffic at the lights along Smith Dorrien Avenue with perhaps three to five policemen in it, all of whom appeared to be uniformed.
As he approached the junction, the car moved off. He did not hear the siren as the car drove off and would tell the inquest that the car had travelled all the way up Winston Churchill Avenue and around the sundial roundabout before its siren came on. He was surprised by the siren on account of the arrests which he knew were just about to take place , he said. Some seconds later Mairead Farrell and Daniel McCann looked around and Officer ‘H’ saw Soldiers ‘A’ and ‘B’ adopt a “rigid pose” behind them. At this point his line of vision became obscured by passing pedestrians. He heard the soldiers firing “almost instantly” and saw Mairead Farrell and Daniel McCann fall to the ground. (MORE LATER).
GEORGE PLANT : EXECUTED BY FREE STATERS ON THIS DATE (5TH MARCH) 72 YEARS AGO.
“It is a noble thing to die for your country, it is a useful thing to kill for your county. If you can’t be noble just be useful” (George Plant, pictured, left)– put to death by a republican traitor after following IRA orders issued by an IRA informer? George Plant was executed by de Valera’s Fianna Fáil administration on the 5th March 1942, and the circumstances leading to that act have left unanswered questions to this day*.
In late August 1940, a Dublin house (22 Lansdowne Road) was raided by the Special Branch and, amongst others, a lorry driver in his mid-twenties, Michael Devereux, from Wexford, was arrested : at the time, Devereux was the Quarter-Master of the IRA in Wexford. He was held and questioned for three days by ex-IRA man (who was once the Commander of ‘C’ Company, 4th Battalion, IRA, Dublin Brigade) , now Free State Detective, Dinny O’Brien (reg. number 8288) , who made a name for himself with his fellow Staters as ‘a good Broy Harrier man’. Michael Devereux was released without charge and, shortly afterwards, the State Gardai ‘stumbled upon’ a major IRA arms dump in the Wexford area : it had been suggested at the time and since then that the Staters knew about that arms dump weeks before they raided the house in Lansdowne Road but willingly used the circumstances to set up Devereux.
The then new IRA Chief-Of-Staff, Stephen Hayes, ordered George Plant and Kilkenny-man Michael Walsh to execute “the informer Michael Devereux” and, even though the two IRA men were uneasy about the task, and questioned same, they executed him, on the 27th September, 1940 (his body was only located a year later ie 27th September 1941). In October 1941, George Plant was arrested by the Staters and charged (in effect, in front of a Free State Military Tribunal) with the ‘murder’ of Michael Devereux but the ‘trail’ collapsed within days as ‘witnesses for the prosecution’ refused to condemn the man , leaving the State no option but to declare a ‘nolle prosequi’ , which should have brought the issue to an end. But in December that year (1941), George Plant was re-arrested (under ‘Emergency Order 41F’) and brought before the ‘Special Military Court’ (where Free State Army officers act as ‘judges’ who could only impose the death penalty with no right to appeal) and again charged with the ‘murder’ of Michael Devereux. Also that same month (December 1941) , in an attempt to wipe-out his former IRA comrades, de Valera enacted an ‘Emergency Powers Act’ (to be enforced retrospectively, if required) in which ‘witness’ statements , once given (or, indeed, ‘once taken’ by the Staters) could be used in court even if the person who ‘gave’ same withdrew it later and was or was not in court!
At this second ‘trail’, George Plant was found guilty , sentenced to death and executed in Portlaoise on the 5th March 1942, by firing squad. He was buried at St. Johnstown Cemetery, near Fethard, County Tipperary, following an oration by John McGrath (NGA), who said – “George Plant worshipped at a shrine different to the majority of his fellow countrymen, but like his illustrious co-religionists, Wolfe Tone, Emmet, the Brothers Sheares, and many more, he fearlessly trod the path that they trod to their doom in the cause of Ireland’s freedom….”
(*The then IRA Chief-of-Staff, Stephen Hayes, was said to be a paid informer in the employ of de Valera and, to earn his keep, he accused Michael Devereux of revealing the location of the arms dump in order to conceal the fact that he, Hayes, had actually turned it over to de Valera and his fellow Free Staters. Also, George Plant was in the Republican Movement for twenty-five years and, as such, he would have known the ‘achilles heel’ of many of those who served with him, some of whom , at that time, were now ‘respectable’ career politicians in the young Free State and, indeed, not long after the man was buried, a Tipperary Churchman found a journal written by George Plant but he destroyed it after reading it as he deemed its contents to be a political game-changer for the Free Staters if it was ever to become public knowledge. Questions were also asked in relation to an IRA bank robbery in 1928 in Tipperary, allegedly carried out by George Plant (then 24 years young) and his brother, Jimmy, after been ordered to do so by ex-IRA man, Frank Aiken (who was a Fianna Fáil member at the time), the proceeds of which were given to Frank Aiken for safekeeping until it was to be handed over to the IRA. The money, however, apparently ended-up in the election coffers of Fianna Fáil and if George Plant knew that then best to silence him….?)
147 YEARS AGO ON THIS DATE (5TH MARCH) : FENIAN RISING (1867).
Fenian flag , 1867.
1867 Irish Fenian Proclamation : ‘English Monarchical government a curse…’ –
The Irish People of the World.
We have suffered centuries of outrage, enforced poverty, and bitter misery. Our rights and liberties have been trampled on by an alien aristocracy, who treating us as foes, usurped our lands, and drew away from our unfortunate country all material riches. The real owners of the soil were removed to make room for cattle, and driven across the ocean to seek the means of living, and the political rights denied to them at home, while our men of thought and action were condemned to loss of life and liberty. But we never lost the memory and hope of a national existence. We appealed in vain to the reason and sense of justice of the dominant powers. Our mildest remonstrance’s were met with sneers and contempt. Our appeals to arms were always unsuccessful.
Today, having no honourable alternative left, we again appeal to force as our last resource. We accept the conditions of appeal, manfully deeming it better to die in the struggle for freedom than to continue an existence of utter serfdom.
All men are born with equal rights, and in associating to protect one another and share public burdens, justice demands that such associations should rest upon a basis which maintains equality instead of destroying it.
We therefore declare that, unable longer to endure the curse of Monarchical Government, we aim at founding a Republic based on universal suffrage, which shall secure to all the intrinsic value of their labour. The soil of Ireland, at present in the possession of an oligarchy, belongs to us, the Irish people, and to us it must be restored.
We declare, also, in favour of absolute liberty of conscience, and complete separation of Church and State.
We appeal to the Highest Tribunal for evidence of the justness of our cause. History bears testimony to the integrity of our sufferings, and we declare, in the face of our brethren, that we intend no war against the people of England – our war is against the aristocratic locusts, whether English or Irish, who have eaten the verdure of our fields – against the aristocratic leeches who drain alike our fields and theirs. Republicans of the entire world, our cause is your cause. Our enemy is your enemy. Let your hearts be with us. As for you, workmen of England, it is not only your hearts we wish, but your arms. Remember the starvation and degradation brought to your firesides by the oppression of labour. Remember the past, look well to the future, and avenge yourselves by giving liberty to your children in the coming struggle for human liberty.
Herewith we proclaim the Irish Republic.
The Provisional Government.
The link in the title of this post will give a background to, and details of, the 1867 Rising, leaving us to concentrate on one of the thousands of men and women that struck a blow for Irish freedom in that year – Peter O’Neill Crowley, from Cork, who was killed in Tipperary by the British :
A child born in the townland of Ballymacoda in County Cork , in 1832 , learned how to make a living from the land and was considered in the locality , as a young adult , to be what would now be called “a pillar of society” ; he was known as an expert farmer and had a wide circle of friends. An Irish republican at heart , Peter O’Neill Crowley joined the Fenian Movement in Cork and rose quickly through the ranks – at 35 years young, he was in command of a ‘Fenian Circle’, which numbered more than one hundred men.
It is almost certain that Crowley and his ‘Circle’ were involved in the capture of the RIC Barracks at Ballynockane , County Cork, on the night of the 5th March, 1867 ; Fenian leaders J F X O’Brien , Michael O’Brien and William Mackey Lomasney had combined their forces into one ‘Circle’ consisting of over 2,000 Fenian fighters and , in early March 1867 caused havoc in Cork for the British administration. As well as capturing the Ballynockane RIC Barracks (and removing anything of value to the Fenian war effort) the Fenian’s sabotaged large sections of rail-track used by the ‘Great Southern and Western Railway’ , destroyed the ‘points-system’ belonging to same and rendered inoperable the telegraph system in the district . In that same month (March 1867) , Peter O’Neill Crowley and his group attacked an armed coastguard station at Knockadoon.
The Knockadoon coastguard station , located about eight miles from Youghal in Cork , was staffed by ten armed employees ; they were over-powered and held captive and their rifles and ammunition taken. It is not perhaps as well known as it should be , but the ‘main’ Fenian Rising of 1867 lasted for just over twenty-four hours , although isolated attacks on the British continued for a few weeks. When Peter O’Neill Crowley and his second and third in command , John McClure and John Edward Kelly (see page 5, here) , realised that the Rising had failed , they knew the British would be determined to ’round-up’ the leadership ; they issued orders to their ‘Circle’ to disperse.
After the ‘dispersal’ order was given (towards the end of the first week in March 1867) , the three Fenian leaders – Crowley , McClure and Kelly – fled to the limited safety of Kilclooney Wood in County Tipperary.
On 31st March,1867, a large force of British soldiers entered Kilclooney Wood and ‘scouts’ from the same force soon located the whereabouts of the three Irish rebels. Within hours they were surrounded by the enemy and ordered to surrender ; they refused . The three were well-armed , and fought courageously , but were no match for the numbers ranged against them. The gun-battle lasted for several hours,but it ended when Peter O’Neill Crowley died , with at least three gunshot wounds to his body. John McClure and Edward Kelly were arrested and were later sentenced to life imprisonment. The county of Cork practically came to a standstill for Crowley’s funeral, in his native Ballymacoda. The Fenian leader, John Devoy, said of the man – “Peter O’Neill Crowley was one of the best men in the Fenian Movement, and Ireland never gave birth to a truer or more devoted son. His devotion to the Cause of Irish liberty was sublime and his courage dauntless.” The two men captured in Kilclooney Wood in Tipperary after the gun-battle , John McClure and John Edward Kelly , were released four years later, in the ‘general amnesty’ of that year (1871).
Incidentally , the ‘Kilclooney Wood Engagement’ is considered to be the last action of the 1867 Fenian Rising but by no means the end of our on-going struggle for full independence from Westminster interference and misrule in Irish affairs.
JACK THE LAD…..
….Jack Murphy, that is – 57 years ago on this date (5th March) , an unemployed carpenter was elected to Leinster House (with 3,036 first preference votes) as an Independent representative for Dublin South Central but was marked out in that institution for being ‘different’ (ie ‘genuine’) and resigned his seat 15 months later, saying – “I was fed up with the callous indifference of the big parties to the situation of the workers.”
He was born near Synge Street in Dublin in 1920, and was number thirteen in the family – his parents, five brothers and five sisters. His father was active in republican circles and Jack joined Na Fianna Éireann in 1930, at ten years of age and at 16 years young he joined the IRA. He was interned for republican activity in the Curragh at 21 and released four years later. When he entered Leinster House he divided his monthly wage of £52 into three sections – one-third each to his own family, unemployed action groups and organisations that were trying to look after the old. On resigning his seat in May 1958, he received only £2-1s a week unemployment assistance and could only find short-term temporary work.
In early 1959 he had no option but to emigrate (to Canada), saying – “Since Christmas I have been unable to get any work, apart from a couple of weeks. The building trade is finished. But there is plenty of work if only the Government would put up the money for it instead of putting millions into the purchase of jet planes. Irish tradesmen have emigrated in thousands. And they will continue to go. There is no hope for them here. Many people will say that I am quitting, pulling out in failure. But mostly they will be people with good, solid jobs. If I saw the slightest hope I would stay, I repeat that, but it broke my heart to see my wife trying to get along on a few shillings a week. I tried hard all along and no one can say that I did not try to spotlight the problems and evils of our country…….again let me stress that I am not pulling out from any motive of selfishness. There are fine young men in this country who will lead the people if they are prepared to follow them. I wish those men all the luck in the world. They will need it in their fight to overcome the apathy that is making it all too easy for the big political parties to continue to run the country as if the working people did not matter.”
Some of those that worked alongside him in the 1957 election campaign were not in agreement with his decision to resign his seat and there was a falling-out between them but our research for this piece would indicate that Jack Murphy was simply disappointed and frustrated that he found himself powerless in Leinster House to affect real change for the working class, the unemployed and the elderly and, realising that that was the case, saw no benefit in staying there. He died on the 11th of July, 1984. Also elected in that same State election (5th March 1957) were four Irish republicans, for Sinn Féin ,on an abstentionist basis : Ruairi Ó Brádaigh (Longford/Westmeath) , Éineachán Ó hAnnluain (brother of Feargal O’Hanlon, Monaghan constituency) , John Joe Rice (South Kerry) and John Joe McGirl (Sligo-Leitrim) all of whom knew, whilst canvassing for that British-imposed ‘parliament’, that they, too, would be unable to affect meaningful change for the working class, the unemployed or the elderly and canvassed on the basis that they would not take their seats or their salary. Fifty-seven years have gone by since then, but the Leinster House institution remains as corrupt and ineffectual as it was then.
……AND STAN THE MAN!
Regular readers will know that football games etc leave me cold as I have no interest at all in the sport or in the over-valued millionaire players who ‘ply their trade’ to the highest bidder on a pitch , but last week one such participant caught my attention : Stan Collymore whom, I’m told, has a ‘colourful’ (‘checkered’?) personal life, to be diplomatic about it. Some of the charges made against the man are disgusting and he wouldn’t be on my Christmas card list if even some of the claims made about him are true. Anyway – he tweeted the following last week –
– which could possibly indicate that, at least sometimes, his head is in the right place. In his own parlance : that’s a ‘score’ , Stan, and if you ever run for political office, I’ll be one of many to remind you of those comments and to expect you to act on them. Otherwise I’ll consider it a ‘foul’ and reach for a red card…..
AND SPEAKING OF SPORTING EVENTS….
…this Sunday (9th March 2014) Newcastle United and Everton will be kicking a ball to (or at?) each other, as will Blackburn Rovers and Burnley and Hull City and Sunderland and Man City and Wigan, Sheffield and Charlton and, nearer to home, Cork will be up against Derry, Tipperary will be having it out with Clare, the Limerick and Wexford boys will be carrying big sticks as will the lads from Kilkenny and Galway and the teams from Laois and Antrim , not forgetting Waterford who, I’m told, will need way more than mere sticks to beat us Dubs!
And there’s about eight other games on as well , all of which guarantee us a more-than-full house that day for the 650-ticket raffle which the Republican Movement in Dublin will be holding in the usual sports hotel on the Dublin-Kildare border and for which yours truly, amongst others, has been booked (pun intended!) to appear. We will post the results here as soon as we can but it probably won’t be that Sunday night as we get fed and watered after the event and some bad devil or other keeps spiking our water with alcohol. A foul if ever there was one….!
“NEARLY ALL THE GIRLS STAYED REPUBLICAN, BUT THE MEN SEEMED TO WAVER….”
Cumann na mBan was incredible in its militancy – Eithne Coyle [pictured here, centre , in Carlow, in 1921] (Cumann na mBan President) recalls how … “…as things developed in 1922 , we could see that the Free State was toeing the line for Britain . Nearly all the girls stayed Republican , but the men seemed to waver….we offer no apology to the rulers North or South of this partitioned land in asserting our rights as freeborn Irish women to repudiate that Treaty and the Imperial Parliament of partioned Ulster . We fight for an Ireland where the exploitation of Irish workers by imported or native capitalists will be ruthlessly exterminated . (We will) put an end for all time to that state of chaos and social dis-order which is holding our people in unnatural bondage….”(From ‘History Lives On…’ , here.)
Born into a strong republican family in 1897 in Donegal, Eithne Coyle was 20 years of age when she joined Cumann na mBan and within two years she had established a branch of the organisation in Cloughaneely, in West Donegal. She was also active in the Gaelic League and contributed articles for the ‘Irish World’ newspaper in New York.
She was active at this time in republican circles, carrying messages, reporting back to the local IRA HQ on the movements of enemy forces and assisting in fundraising activities, all of which brought her to the attention of the paramilitary RIC resulting in her house being raided a number of times. Following one such raid, she was arrested and imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin , from where, in October 1921, she escaped and made her way to Donegal. The following year she was caught with IRA orders and updates and was imprisoned again and, after her release, she was elected as president of the Cumann na mBan organisation, a position she held from 1926 until 1941. Eithne Coyle died , age 88, in 1985.
You can meet representatives of the Cumann na mBan organisation on Saturday morning, from 11.30am until 5pm approximately, 29th March 2014, in Wynn’s Hotel in Dublin city centre – all welcome!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.