By Peadar O’Donnell ; first published in January 1963.
We had been invited to speak in support of a resolution already passed by Clare County Council – we could not change the resolution and the Cumann na nGael TD (sic) stayed away because he could not support it. De Valera listened in on the exchange between Barrett and me and laughed. He had taken a shot and it missed and that was all about it ; contrary to the popular notion of him, de Valera had a good sense of mischief. In his speech that day he wandered, even rambled , over the whole national scene, but he never once mentioned the word ‘bailiff’. I addressed myself to that part of the resolution, and Clare farmers were a good audience for it.
A crowd of us went back to the local hotel and it did not greatly interest me to learn that plain-clothes guards had stationed themselves outside ; detention, even arrest, was a small matter now. But somebody must have concerned himself on my behalf, for I was told to go down to the hall and wait until a two-seater motorcar pulled up at the door. I was to dive into it, and I did as I was bid and found myself with Father Tom Burke, parish priest – or was it Administrator? – of Lahinch. Few “communists” have been so well served by so many priests!
The Bishop of Killaloe, Most Reverend Dr. Fogarty, took alarm at the campaign against land annuities in his diocese – he was a simple, holy man, who was especially simple in his hates, of which he had one great one : the devil, and equally with him all those other wicked spirits who wandered through Ireland for the ruin of souls – the republicans. To win a place in the city state of his hate, he must identify you as a devil – de Valera was a great devil but I was only a shadow on his heels. By myself I might have got by unnoticed , but not now. Dr Fogarty alerted his diocese and for the better protection of his flock he put a new question into the catechism : is it a sin not to pay land annuities? Children for Confirmation were warned that the answer must be spoken clearly – it is a sin not to pay land annuities…. (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 ‘K’ , a member of the security forces and of the surveillance team, had been in the car park of the Laguna Estate, beside the Shell petrol station. There was a hedge, about seven or eight feet high, separating the car park from Winston Churchill Avenue. He heard over the radio that the three IRA members were headed in his direction and the first he saw of them was a glimpse of Mairead Farrell and Daniel McCann through the hedge as they walked northwards. As they emerged at the end of the hedge he got a full view of them , talking and laughing as they walked along. Then Soldiers ‘A’ and ‘B’ came into his view, roughly twenty feet behind the two. Then he heard a police siren, south of his position, and within a second or so either Soldier ‘A’ or ‘B’ shouted a warning , which sounded like “Police! Stop!” McCann and Farrell turned and both Soldiers ‘A’ and ‘B’ fired. At this point the soldiers were roughly six or seven feet behind.
He thought that the soldiers pulled their pistols out just after the police siren went off , and this distracted him so he did not see them pulling their weapons. No shots , as far as he could recall at the inquest, were fired at the two while they were on the ground. Officer ‘K’ walked fifteen to twenty paces southwards before hearing some shots coming from the direction in which he was headed.
Officer ‘L’ , standing at the corner of Smith Dorrien Avenue, heard a police siren and, within a couple of seconds, the sound of gunfire from the petrol station. She saw Mairead Farrell and Daniel McCann fall and within seconds she heard more gunfire and dropped to the ground. She didn’t see Seán Savage or Soldiers ‘C’ and ‘D’ , or Officer ‘H’ . When the firing stopped she got up and walked away. Officer ‘P’ , of the Gibraltar special branch, who had been tailing Seán Savage earlier in the day, had come back on duty after a break and heard on the radio that the IRA ASU had been spotted heading down Smith Dorrien Avenue. He immediately stopped a German-registered Mercedes, showed the driver his identification and asked him to drive to Winston Churchill Avenue. (MORE LATER).
94 YEARS AGO ON THIS DATE (19TH MARCH)….
…an Irish republican Lord Mayor, elected on the 31st January 1920 – the first Irish republican to hold that position – was assassinated by the British at his home in Thomas Davis Street in Blackpool , Cork (between midnight 19th March 1920 and the next day ,which was his 36th birthday). He was buried in the Republican Plot in St. Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork on Monday 22nd March.
“We find that the late Alderman MacCurtain, Lord Mayor of Cork, died from shock and hemorrhage caused by bullet wounds, and that he was willfully murdered under circumstances of the most callous brutality, and that the murder was organised and carried out by the Royal Irish Constabulary, officially directed by the British Government, and we return a verdict of willful murder against David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of England; Lord French, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; Ian McPherson, late Chief Secretary of Ireland; Acting Inspector General Smith, of the Royal Irish Constabulary; Divisional Inspector Clayton of the Royal Irish Constabulary; District Inspector Swanzy and some unknown members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. We strongly condemn the system at present in vogue of carrying out raids at unreasonable hours. We tender to Mrs. MacCurtain and family our sincerest sympathy. We extend to the citizens of Cork our sympathy in the loss they have sustained by the death of one so eminently capable of directing their civic administration” – the unanimous verdict of the inquest into the murder of Alderman Tomás MacCurtain, Lord Mayor of Cork and considered by many to be the ‘inventor’ of the ‘Flying Column’ tactic, as read out on 17th April 1920 by Coroner James J. McCabe. Sixty-four ‘policemen’ were questioned at the inquest, along with two British military operatives and thirty-one civilians.
His killers, dressed in ‘civvies’ and speaking with pronounced English accents, were RIC members tasked with the ‘job’ by their political bosses. And, just two months shy of twenty years later – in January 1940 – those same (British and Free State) political bosses were still after the MacCurtain family : on the 3rd January 1940 , Tomás MacCurtain Junior (Tomas Óg) was jumped-on at the end of St. Patrick Street in Cork city centre by Free State Branch men , one of whom – Detective Garda Roche – had been harassing him for weeks. During the melee, Roche received a gunshot wound from which he died the next day. On 13th June 1940 , the Free State ‘Special Criminal Court’ sentenced Tomas Óg MacCurtain to death ,sentence to be carried-out on 5th July 1940. An application for Habeas Corpus was lodged and the execution was postponed for a week , but the Free State Supreme Court then dismissed the appeal.
The whole country was divided over the issue – some demanded that MacCurtain be put to death immediately as a ‘sign’ from the Fianna Fail administration that they were serious about ‘cracking-down’ on their former comrades in the IRA , while others demanded that he be released. Finally , on 10th July 1940 , the Free Staters issued a statement – “The President , acting on the advice of the government , has commuted the sentence of death on Tomás MacCurtain to penal servitude for life…” It has since been alleged that a sister of Cathal Brugha’s widow had intervened on behalf of Tomas Óg MacCurtain to get his death sentence overturned ; the women in question ,who was then the Reverend Mother of an Armagh Convent, had requested that her ‘boss’, Cardinal MacRory, should ‘speak to’ Eamon de Valera about the case. This , if indeed it did happen , and the fact that Tomas Óg’s father had actually shouldered a gun alongside many members of the then Fianna Fail administration (before they went Free State, obviously) , saved his life. Tomás Óg (1915–1994) continued to be a leading republican and member of the IRA Executive (whose main purpose was to elect the Chief of Staff of the IRA) and was released after seven years.
ON THIS DATE (19TH MARCH) 93 YEARS AGO.
Commandant General Tom Barry , IRA, photographed in (April?) 1921.
In the early hours of Saturday , 19th March 1921, under the command of Tom Barry, from Kerry (the son of an RIC officer who had retired to become a shopkeeper), and Liam Deasy (who, within less than two years afterwards, signed a Free State ‘pledge’ in exchange for his life) , the West Cork Flying Column of the IRA turned the tables on a British Army and RIC column at Crossbarry, situated about twelve miles south-west of Cork city, despite being outnumbered ten-to-one.
During the hour-long firefight, in which 104 IRA Volunteers (each carrying approximately 40 rounds of ammunition) successfully fought their way out of a ‘pincer’-type movement by about 1,200 enemy troops, consisting of British soldiers from the Hampshire and Essex Regiments , Black and Tans and RIC men, three IRA men were killed in action (Peter Monahan, Jeremiah O’Leary and Con Daly) and three others were wounded.
Reports varied in relation to British casualties but it seems certain that at least ten of their soldiers were killed and three wounded (more here).
In an interview he gave a number of years later, Tom Barry recalled how “….about two hours had elapsed since the opening of the fight. We were in possession of the countryside, no British were visible and our task was completed. The whole Column was drawn up in line of sections and told they had done well….” and they had indeed ‘done well’, only to witness, within months, their efforts (ab)used by those who yearned for a political career, which they were given by Westminster in return for their surrender. But, thankfully, although still outnumbered, a republican force still exists to this day.
NA FIANNA ÉIREANN TO PARADE IN DUBLIN ON EASTER MONDAY , 21ST APRIL 2014.
Members of Na Fianna Éireann, pictured at the GPO in Dublin on Easter Monday 2010.
The Sean Healy Sluagh of Na Fianna Éireann, Dublin, will be holding a wreath laying ceremony in Glasnevin Cemetery for Sean Healy on Easter Monday, 21st April, 2014. Fergal Moore (Monaghan) will Chair the event and Dublin Fian Jamie Mullen will lay a wreath and deliver the oration. Those attending are requested to assemble at Doyles Corner in Phibsboro , at 1pm. Immediately following this commemoration, the procession will march from Glasnevin to the Garden of Remembrance from where, at 1.45pm, they will join the RSF parade to the GPO for the Easter Commemoration. Also, please note that on Easter Sunday this year, Republican Sinn Féin will hold its annual Deansgrange Easter Commemoration at 1pm : those attending are asked to assemble at Deansgrange Cemetery gates at 12.45pm.
“OUR POLICE SERVICE” ON THE STREETS OF NYC IN THE ST. PATRICKS DAY PARADE!
OBAMA : “No, Martin, it’s not enough that you should not only endorse British rule in Ireland and play your part in administering it. If you want to step further into John Hume’s shoes, then you’ll have to further endorse the British security services starting , this year, with their police service. Then, next year…..“
One good thing to come out of the RUC/PSNI marching in the New York St. Patricks Day parade, as far as Irish republicans are concerned, anyway, was the fact that it further exposed the Provisional Sinn Féin party as the mixture of Workers Party/SDLP that they are. Unbelievable as it sounds and affront to political common sense that it is, there are still those amongst us who consider Adams to be the leader of ‘an Irish republican movement’ , a ‘master strategist’ who is still (?) working to achieve his stated objective – that of a British withdrawal from Ireland. And, without a doubt, even when the man publicly abandons his stated objections to British political interference in Ireland, there will still be those who, with a wink and a nudge, will tell you that it’s all part of his ‘master plan’ !
And these comments , from the ‘Twitter’ page of each of them , will fit in nicely with that charade….
….as their supporters will tell you that it’s all part of the ‘Provo master plan/long war strategy’ and, should those supporters eventually be expelled from their party for questioning the political direction they are going in they will be easily reassured by the leadership that that, too , is all for show, just another piece of the plan. And they’ll believe it! Finally , on the subject of ‘police’ in New York, we came across this pic , which was taken in New York this week –
– and we would like to know why two NYC policemen were posing with tourists in Central Park while members of a criminal gang not only walked the streets of that city but were afforded an official escort to do so….!
OBAMA ‘PUTIN’ HIS FOOT IN IT……!
A little light relief regarding the escalating situation in Ukraine , and it’s a welcome relief : if I have to listen one more time to all the players involved voice ‘concern’ for ‘the freedom of small nations…an infringement of national sovereignty….a minority dictating to a majority…’ etc etc – knowing as I do that all those voicing such ‘concern’ (the EU, Washington, Dublin and especially the British!) are aware of , but totally ignore, the fact that those same ‘concerns’ could and should be directed at Westminster in relation to its occupation of our six north-eastern counties – then I’ll ‘cry rivers’ myself! As far as I’m concerned, all those involved have interests at heart, not concern, friendship or a sense of fair play. The political muppets in Leinster House are such an unprincipled soft touch that they will slovenly follow either Brussels or Washington’s lead in relation to foreign policy and are more delighted with themselves than usual , this time, as Brussels and Washington are at one in this instance in relation to ‘the land-grab in Ukraine’. Just, please, don’t remind those politicians on Dublin of the land-grab ninty miles up the road from them!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.