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

If anybody is ever tempted to examine IRA documents of the late 1920’s , ’30 and ’31 , he could easily make the mistake certain other people made at the time – suspect me of a lot more influence than I enjoyed. I was the great assembler of documents, for even when I lost my point of view I still found the words for the side that won, and as I quickly developed a recognisable style of writing I was credited with originating statements that had little of me in them. I remember Donal O’Donoghue, who was Adjutant General of the IRA at the time, groaning over a script : “Yourself and your semi-colons, we might as well sign your name to this….”!

But while I failed to involve the IRA as a body in the land annuity agitation other influences dragged it leftwards. The world economic crisis was making itself felt, both in the city and the countryside, and emigration was no longer the answer to unemployment. Wealthy America was broke and strong men were on the breadline there, and unemployment was also rife in Britain. IRA men, out of work for the first time, found themselves at the labour exchanges and they did not like it. They had but to rid their throats in anger to have leadership thrust on them , and their influence brought employed workers onto the streets when the unemployed marched. There were occasions when IRA O.C. Dublin Brigade, watching such demonstrations go by, could only look on the marching throng as a projection from his own command, so completely was it staffed by his junior officers.

These same forces gathered for anti-imperialist rallies, of which Frank Ryan was the popular leader – he was a gifted public speaker and a strong agitator. He won international fame as an anti-fascist fighter in the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. There was no political face to this mass unrest : leaders, slogans, demonstrations and commemorations gave it marks of identification, but it was a great lurch leftwards on no definite terms. Frank Ryan led the demonstrations against the Union-Jack devotees that came out of hiding for the Armistice celebration at College Green on 11th November. (MORE LATER).


By Michael O’Higgins and John Waters. From ‘Magill Magazine’ , October 1988.

Seán Savage spun round and his right hand went to his trousers pocket. He didn’t look towards Soldiers ‘C’ and ‘D’ : Soldier ‘C’ told the inquest that he believed Savage was more likely to have the detonating device than the others, as he had been seen fiddling about in the Renault car earlier on. He also said that at this point Seán Savage had adopted what Soldier ‘C’ interpreted as a “close-quarters battle stance”. Soldier ‘C’ opened fire from a distance of five or six feet and continued firing “until he had gone down, until he was no longer capable of initiating the device”.

He fired first into Savage’s body and, as he did so, Savage spun round in a spiralling motion and ‘C’ fired six rounds in all, in quick succession – four rounds into his chest and two into his head, from a standing position. He heard only one of Soldier ‘D’s shots , as ‘D’ was slightly ahead of him to his left. Soldier ‘D’ finished firing at about the same time as himself. Savage “corkscrewed” and fell to the ground and once he was on the ground with his hands out from his body, Soldier ‘C’ stopped firing.

After the three IRA members had split up at the junction, Soldier ‘D’ had immediately crossed the road to follow Seán Savage and when he reached the far side of the road he looked back and saw that Soldier ‘C’ was having difficulty crossing. Savage turned left towards Landport Tunnel and Soldier ‘C’ caught up with ‘D’ and they moved in to effect an arrest. Soldier ‘D’ intended to shout “Stop, police, hands up”. By now he was three metres away from Savage but felt that he could get closer. There was a woman standing between him and Savage and at that point he heard gunfire to his left and at the same moment Soldier ‘C’ started the warning to Savage, who spun round and his hand went down to his pocket. In Soldier ‘D’s mind, he would tell the inquest, was the bomb in the assembly area and the fact (sic) that Savage had a detonator. He had to make a decision and he didn’t know whether Soldiers ‘A’ and ‘B’ had been shot. (MORE LATER).


“Gerrymandering” , Mr. Martin called it : “It is the biggest attempt to manipulate election boundaries in the 35 years since Fianna Fail introduced independent Boundary Commissions….” (from here) , adding “….we saw that straight away when the terms of reference were published,that skewing was going on….”.

However, a more important ‘skewing’ by a Boundary Commission has been ignored by Mr. Martin and his party and, indeed, by the administration and the so-called ‘opposition’ in Leinster House – the ‘Boundary Commission’ established under ‘Article 12’ of the 1921 ‘Treaty of Surrender’, which was tasked with ‘determining the boundaries between the newly-partitioned 6 and 26-county ‘states’ ‘ , the deliberations of which caused a mutiny within British forces in Ireland! (Part 5)

When this Boundary Commission was to be set-up, it was to be ‘Chaired’ by Justice Feetham, a South African Judge , and a good friend of the British ‘Establishment’- it may well have been a ‘toothless body’, as Winston Churchill, the then British ‘Colonial Secretary to Ireland’ considered it to be, but sure it was no harm to have its Chairperson in your pocket,too!

……. included in the wording of Article 12 of the 1921 Treaty of Surrender (ie the ‘Boundary Commission’ clause) was a declaration that the border could be ‘adjusted’ “in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants …” ; this meant one thing to Eoin MacNeill , the Free State representative on the Commission , and something altogether different to the two British reps on that body : J.R. Fisher (the Stormont rep , who was put on the Commission by Westminster) and Chairperson Feetham told Eoin MacNeill that the term “in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants …” meant “the inhabitants” of the Six County ‘State’ itself , not ‘individual parts’ of it! (Incidentally – the newspaper that J.R. Fisher edited , ‘The Northern Whig’ , published regularly for 139 years – from 1824 to 1963. It was a morning newspaper which , from 1824 to 1858 , was available (I believe) at least for three days out of every week – in 1858 , it published daily . It was in competition with the ‘Belfast News Letter’ newspaper , which was the market leader , and , to a lesser extent , with the ‘Irish News’ newspaper . From around the late 1950’s , the ‘Northern Whig’ newspaper was in trouble financially , with losses of about £30,000 , a huge sum in those days and , in July 1963 , the management dismissed five of the journalists to cut costs ; the remaining 20 journalists went on strike that month, in response to their colleagues losing their jobs. But the other employees on the ‘paper, about eighty in all, passed the picket and carried on ‘scabbing’. Circulation dropped and advertising revenue all but dried up – in September 1963, ‘The Northern Whig’ newspaper closed : one of those who lost his job that month (ie September 1963) was a certain Mr. Wesley Boyd, who was the ‘London Editor’ for the ‘Whig’ . He got a job with ‘The Irish Times’ newspaper, Dublin , as ‘Diplomatic Correspondent’ and went from there to Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) as ‘Head of News’ – which , of course , had no bearing at all (!) on that institutions treatment of how they viewed the Irish Republican struggle (ie Republicans were then, and are now , ignored by the so-called ‘National Broadcaster’ or , at best , have a ‘spin’ put on statements etc that are issued by them.)

MacNeill was now being told that the Boundary Commission would NOT reduce the boundaries of the Six County ‘State’ unless a majority of the people in said (gerrymandered) ‘State’ wanted it to , regardless of the wishes of area’s within that ‘State’ which had a Nationalist / Republican majority . Eoin MacNeill supposedly argued his corner as best he could ( in a forum that was loaded against him) and reported his concerns to his fellow Free Staters in Leinster House , who more or less said to him – ‘ Ah , sure , do your best …. ‘. Those in Leinster House were ‘comfortable’ by now ; they had status , careers and a bright (personal) future ahead of them ; the 1916 Rising had taken place eight years ago , the Treaty of Surrender had been signed three years ago and now the Stormont ‘Prime Minister’ , ‘Sir’ James Craig , was threatening ‘to cause more trouble’ if the Boundary Commission recommended change – Craig had stated that the Unionists would not accept change and would fight to ‘defend their territory’ : a definate upset for the Leinster House ‘apple-cart’. Craig had warned that “Ulster” (sic) was prepared to fight against anyone who would take away “…the loved soil of Ulster from any of the Loyalists who want to remain there …” and the then ‘Minister for Education’ in the Stormont administration , ‘Lord’ Londonderry , who had opposed the Boundary Commission from day one , reminded both Leinster House and Westminster of the statement he issued in December 1921 when a Boundary Commission was first mooted ; he practically threatened all and sundry with war if a change to the Six County-area was proposed : “All that I would say now is that it may be necessary for the government of Northern Ireland (sic) to refuse to nominate a representative on the proposed Boundary Commission and that, if by its findings any part of the territory transferred to us under the Act of 1920 is placed under the Free State , we may have to consider very carefully and very anxiously the measures which we shall have to adopt, as a government (sic – two ‘governments’ on this one island ?) for the purpose of assisting loyalists whom your Commission may propose to transfer to the Free State but who may wish to remain with us, with Great Britain and the Empire.”

And here was Eoin MacNeill , the Free State representative on the Boundary Commission, complaining to Leinster House that the British were not taking the Commission seriously – would they insist that the Brits should do so , and risk ‘a slap on the wrist’ from Westminster and a possible armed loyalist re-action if the Brits did so , or would they ‘turn a blind eye’ ? The Free Staters in Leinster House took the latter course, and MacNeill went back to the Boundary Commission talks with his tail between his legs, where the argument over the meaning of the words “in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants …” continued. And continued….until , finally , after about one year of that carry-on (!) , everyone had had enough ; the Boundary Commission decided, by a two-thirds majority (surprise, surprise!) that, in actual fact, the Free State itself should transfer some of its territory to the Six County ‘State’!

Eoin MacNeill was shocked ……. (MORE LATER).


RSF Colour Party, Na Fianna Éireann and Cumann na mBan at the GPO in Dublin on Easter Monday (21st April) 2014.

On Easter Sunday (20th April) 2014, a wreath was laid in memory of Eamonn Ceannt at the monument in the public park named in his honour in Crumlin, Dublin, and a commemoration was held in Deansgrange Cemetery (which was established in 1861 and had its first burial in 1865) that same day at the republican plot.

On Easter Monday, the main Dublin RSF commemoration was held at the GPO in O’Connell Street at 2pm, after a republican parade had gathered there, having left the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square fifteen minutes earlier. The event was Chaired by Andy Connolly, Dublin, and the main oration was given by Fergal Moore, Monaghan. 1,500 items of printed material were distributed on O’Connell Street between 12 noon and 3pm and, indeed, all three ‘distribution teams’ reported a shortage of those leaflet packs, of which dozens more could have been handed out, had they been available!

Apart from the expected but unwanted State harassment (at the Garden of Remembrance and at the GPO) , the commemoration went as planned in front of hundreds of republican supporters and on-lookers. We have published some pics from the day and more of same, plus a proper report, will be carried in the May 2014 issue of ‘Saoirse’ , which goes to print on Wednesday, 7th of that month.

The parade on its way to the GPO on Easter Monday 2014.

The ‘Pride of Erin’ Republican Flute band, from Portadown in Armagh…..

….proudly displayed their many talents in Dublin at the GPO, and a big ‘GRMA’ to each and every one of them!

Members of Na Fianna Éireann in Dublin on Easter Monday 2014.

The RSF Colour Party makes its way…..

…..down O’Connell Street to the GPO.

The Chairperson welcomes the contingent from the Garden of Remembrance…..

…..which forms-up facing him, at the front of the GPO.

Members of Cumann na mBan and Na Fianna Éireann at the GPO.

Fergal Moore takes to the lectern…..

….and delivers the main oration.

A young band member, Fergal Moore and Des Dalton at the GPO.

Andy Connolly, Dublin, who Chaired the commemoration…..

….and as viewed from the ‘Chair’.

A section of the crowd.

The dipping of the flags.

Some pics from other RSF Easter Commemorations can be viewed here and, finally, RSF in Dublin are holding a small wreath laying ceremony in Arbour Hill Cemetery, Dublin, on Thursday 24th April 2014 at 1pm to remember the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising. All genuine Republicans welcome, and those attending are asked to assemble at the cemetery gates at 12:45pm.


Eoin MacNeill (left) who, on the 22nd April 1916, attempted to cancel the Easter 1916 Rising : “Volunteers completely deceived. All orders for tomorrow, Sunday, are completely cancelled.” The Rising proceeded two days later without any further ‘input’ from him.

In 1914, he declared that he had been “….absolutely forced to the front in this Volunteer Movement..” , an organisation of which he wrote – “…if they are a military force (they) are not a militarist force, and their object is to secure Ireland’s rights and liberties and nothing else”. It is debatable whether MacNeill considered ‘Home Rule’ to be the best that Ireland could hope for and/or obtain (despite occasionally verbalising for more than simple ‘Home Rule’) and although he himself played no part in the Easter fight, he was tried by court-martial and sentenced to penal servitude for life, but was released under amnesty in June 1917. He supported the Treaty of Surrender in 1921 and, the following year, he was appointed as the Free State Minister for Education. He died, in Dublin, in 1945, at 78 years of age.

This book about the 1916 Rising is a decent read and there’s good information re same on this site.


Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig (‘Brian Boru’), was in his early 70’s when he was assassinated in his tent at the Battle of Clontarf.

Son of Ceinneidigh, son of Lorcan, Brian seized the throne of ‘Dal Cais’ (governing most of Ireland) from its Eogharacht rulers when he was only 22 years young but had to wait for 39 years before he became the High King of the land (at 61 years of age) . He was not as subservient to the Norse clans living in Ireland and, fearing they were about to lose their privileged conditions, they organised his overthrow : in the year 1013, Irish-born Vikings and their fellow-warriors from the Hebrides, the Orkneys and Iceland, under the command of Dublin-based Sitric , the Norse king, laid plans to take back that which they considered had been taken from them. On the 23rd April in 1014, the two forces met at Cluaintarbh (Clontarf) in Dublin and, under the command of Murchad Bóruma mac Cennétig (son of Brian) , the Norse forces were defeated and the survivors scattered for safety.

It was whilst running for their lives that a small gang of Norsemen chanced upon Brian Boru’s tent and executed him. The ‘Battle of Clontarf’ ensured that the Norsemen never again became a force to be reckoned with in this country but the death of Brian led to the then established rule of Irish law and order breaking down. More here.


Willie O’Dea look-a-like Michael Fabricant (above), a British career politician, has suggested that ‘Ireland should be let rejoin the Commonwealth’ but he also believes that there are only “…90 years of discord (lol!) between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland…” : it takes an ignorant man to make an ignorant suggestion based on ignorant information. And it takes an equally ignorant, and arrogant, man (and party) to plant such nonsense in the head of an ignorant man, at Easter or any other time. Is this the ‘(re-)united Ireland’ that Provisional Sinn Féin speak of?

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

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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