By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.


Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O’Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

THE VALUE OF A SMILE (adaptation).

It costs nothing, but creates much

it enriches those who receive

without impoverishing those who give

it happens in a flash, and the memory sometimes last forever.

None are so rich that they can get along without it,

and none are so poor that they are not richer for its benefits,

it creates happiness in the home

fosters goodwill in business

And is the countersign of friends,

it is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged

sunlight to the sad and natures best antidote for trouble.

Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen

for it is no good to anyone until it’s given away.

If in the event that someone you meet is tired,

sad or troubled, why not give them one of your smiles.

The reason people pass one door to patronise another store

is not because the busier place

has better silks or gloves or lace, or better prices

but it lies in pleasant words and smiling eyes.

A smile is such a puzzling thing, it wrinkles up your face

and when it’s gone it’s hard to find its secret hiding place,

but far more wonderful to see is what a smile can do

you smile at one, she smiles at you

and so, one smile makes two.

Richard Birmingham.

(Next : ‘Deafness’ , by Paul Dillon).

A BRIEF NOTE / REMINDER FOR OUR READERS IN AMERICA…. October 2015, Irish Freedom Press and Cumann na Saoirse will launch the American Edition of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh Selected Writings, a single volume compiled of Volume I (launched in January 2015) and II of the Irish edition (which will be launched on Sunday, 22nd November 2015, in Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin) . The book will officially be launched at the Annual Michael Flannery Dinner in New York on October 17th next and will be followed by a series of book launches. The main speaker at all these events is the editor of the work mentioned, and Irish republican, Dieter Reinisch.

The 20th Annual Michael Flannery Testimonial Awards Dinner :

The 20th Annual Michael Flannery Testimonial Awards Dinner will be held this year at 7:00pm on Saturday, October 17th, 2015, at Rory Dolans, 890 Mclean Avenue, Yonkers, NY. This year’s honorees are:

The Michael & Pearl Flannery Spirit of Freedom Award – Jack O’Brien, D.C.

The Sr. Sarah Clarke Human Rights Award – Sue Miskill Kramer CT.

The Countdown to 2016 Joseph Plunkett Award – Ken Tierney N.Y.

Cumann na Saoırse Náisiúnta is proud to announce that the 2015 dinner will also serve as the American launch for Ruairí Ó Brádaigh’s new book : Selected Writings & Speeches Vol.1, 1970 – 1986. Dieter Reinisch, who edited this historic new book, will be present at the dinner. He is a researcher at the European University Institute and also serves as a lecturer in Irish History and Celtic Studies at the University of Vienna. He will speak on the historic importance of the life and work of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and will be available to sign copies afterwards. This year also brings us one year closer to the centenary of the 1916 Rising and to mark the historic occasion and pay a lasting tribute to participants of the Rising, Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta has produced a detailed full colour historic banner to mark the occasion. The banner will be unveiled at this year’s Testimonial Dinner. Information will also be available for those who wish to participate in promoting this historic project.

We, of Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta, thank all of you who have supported this event over the last two decades. In addition to its historic and charitable functions, this event, continues to serve as a meeting place for those of us who have worked together over the decades for the cause of Irish Freedom. Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta will produce an ‘Ad Journal’ to mark this event and a form is attached for those who wish to purchase an advertisement :

Both dinner tickets at $ 50.00 each and Journal ads at $100.00. For additional information please contact Maggie 845-492-7198 (nymayo AT and/or Jane 718-683-6903 (enright1 AT and for information on the Centennial Banner please call Mary at 732-441-9923.

(Thank you, readers, have a nice day. And I really do wish that I could spend the days mentioned above (and loads of others!) with all of ye in New York!)


Eight members of Republican Sinn Féin will be washing their dirty laundry after the events highlighted in this post have taken place…
We only got this information yesterday (Tuesday 8th September) and, once we had verified the source, we put the following promo piece out about it :

‘The words ‘to hell and back’ were actually used by these Republican Sinn Féin members in connection with the ‘ordeal’ they volunteered for – as RSF members – and the quotes “unbelievable…poorly planned…rip good people off..” were uttered, loudly, by those who know what the RSF members in question went through and will go through, having experienced same themselves. Those ‘whistleblowers’ also used the words “toughest thing I’ve ever done…I’d never do it again….tough…” in connection with this dirty, exhausting and muddy episode. On Wednesday 9th September 2015, this blog will blow the whistle and expose, in all its ups and downs and ins and outs, the full story behind this tale of muddy bootprints and we will supply contact details where you can verify our piece and offer support, if you wish, to the RSF people mentioned. All we will say for now is that the members in question are not based in Dublin and that they welcome this publicity…’

The people involved are based in Wexford and are long-standing and active members of Republican Sinn Féin and the reason they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place (or soon will be!) is because they have decided to go ‘to hell and back’ for a good Cause – to raise finance for the Ruairí Ó Brádaigh Memorial Fund! (…and – shame on you! – you thought this post was about something else altogether!)

Eight members of the Wexford RSF cumann will be taking part in the ‘To Hell or Back’ competition which is being held in Bray, County Wicklow, on Saturday 12th September 2015, an event which has tested the mettle of competitors in the past but which seemingly holds no fear for those courageous Irish republicans : “Our members will participate in ‘Hell and Back’, an obstacle course that will certainly test the body! We are doing this to raise money for the Ruairí Ó Brádaigh memorial fund and if anyone would like to sponsor one of the participants please contact this page. And a big thanks to those who have already sponsored us…”

However – we have good contacts in the Wexford RSF organisation and, during and after their trip to ‘hell’ there’s bound to be a falling-out of some sort or other, so if it’s back-biting gossip your looking for….!


The following piece was published in the ‘Socialist Republic!’ newspaper in September 1986.

The Chilean people have recently created an armed wing of their struggle against the Pinochet dictatorship – the ‘Manuel Rodrigues Patriotic Front’. Although very little has been published in the press, their often spectacular actions of sabotage and attack on the regime forces have proven very successful. The following is a testimony of one of the fighters in the aftermath of one such operation.


“There are three of us in the car, two of my comrades and myself. Suddenly at a crossing we realise that the CNI (secret police) is waiting for us. There is no time to reverse, we have only two choices – to stop and die in a hail of bullets or to try and break out of the encirclement and save our lives. We don’t hesitate.

The roadblock consists of about 30 vehicles. We have to try and break through. Each of us knows exactly what to do. Our driver accelerates and we drive through and manage to leave them behind. Then the dramatic chase began. About a mile down the road the comrade sitting next to me is mortally wounded, and almost immediately afterwards bullets enter my stomach. I don’t feel them now, although I realise I am wounded, but I feel no pain. We stop the car, and I check my wounded comrade first. It is then that I realise that he is dead. I am hit again and fall to the ground. I know I’m not going to die and I think of my wife, my children. This give me strength to get up and move. My other comrade is also wounded and starts moving back. I follow him and after a few yards he falls to the ground.

‘Comrade, get up! Come on, we have to escape’ , I shout at him. Already dying, he answers ‘No, Companero. I can’t go on, I know I’m finished. I know I’m going to die. Try to save yourself’. I feel an intense pain. I try to rest a little before carrying on…. (MORE LATER).


The British publishing group ‘Macmillan’ must have been sorely disappointed by the media’s reaction, or lack of it, to the launch last month of Paul Foot’s book ‘Who Framed Colin Wallace?’
By Eamonn McCann, from ‘Magill’ magazine, June 1989.

Remarkably, however, neither the ‘Irish Press’ newspaper nor ‘The Irish Times’ thought it worthwhile even to send a reporter to discover what this – in all the circumstances not uninteresting – duo had to say. It was left to ‘The Irish Independent’ to cover the launch, and security correspondent Tom Brady wrote a news story and a background feature piece in the next day’s edition. That newspaper was no doubt encouraged by the fact that it was able, quite reasonably, to blow its own trumpet in the process, the paper having in 1980 been the first to break the story of the Kincora scandal which figures prominently in Colin Wallace’s narrative.

RTE Radio News and the ‘Today at Five’ programme covered the launch but it was ignored by all television news and current affairs programmes. The sparseness of the coverage no doubt had something to do with what one senior journalist who did attend the Dublin press conference described as “the pervasive air of scepticism surrounding everything to do with Colin Wallace.” And indeed his tale does invite scepticism, and even outright derision.

Briefly, the story is as follows : that while ostensibly engaged as a press officer in Lisburn , he was in fact working under the intelligence services carrying out “psychological warfare” , this job description covering such matters as the dissemination of “disinformation” and the arranging of “dirty tricks” designed not always to disorientate the enemy but quite often to discredit (mainly British Labour) politicians regarded by ultra-right elements in the intelligence services as “unsound”. (MORE LATER).


Ireland, Galway, 1920 :
IRA Volunteer Seamus Quirke, a Cork man, was staying at a house in the docks area in Galway and was active in the on-going fight against the Black and Tans. The day before he was tortured to death by an RIC Sergeant named Fox, who operated from the RIC barracks in Eglinton Street in Galway
(that is, on September 8th 1920) a driver for the Tans, a man named Krumm, had visited the houses of the few friends he had in the area and drank as much alcohol as was offered to him in each house, before going for a nightcap in a near-by pub. He was boasting about how handy he was with a weapon and, as proof, he started shooting at bottles he had placed on a wall. This activity caused alarm to local IRA men as they had made plans for that night which didn’t include an armed and drunk Tan drawing attention to them and action was taken against him : ‘…Tom Hynes, the local IRA Intelligence Officer, heard of this and sent his brother Michael to warn any IRA Volunteers that an armed man seemed to be preparing to create trouble. The Volunteers were in the habit of going to the local train station every night to meet the train, watch the British troop movement, collect dispatches and meet Volunteers from other districts, and this night they were also going to collect arms from the Longford area. Krumm and a companion went on to the platform by the gate on the arrivals side. The Volunteers warned the men arriving with the Longford guns, and the train stopped for a moment outside the station while they went out by the signal box with the guns. The train came into the station and as the passengers started to go out the gate Krumm drew his gun and made as if to shoot into the crowd….’ (more here.)

It should be noted that Father Michael Griffin (mentioned in the above link) was himself, within weeks, to fall victim to the same thugs that had butchered Seamus Quirke –

‘..about midnight on Sunday 14th November 1920, Fr Griffin was lured from the presbytery by British forces directly, or someone aiding them. He was taken to Lenaboy Castle where he was questioned. After being interrogated, he was shot through the head and his body was taken away by lorry and buried in an unmarked grave at Cloghscoltia, near Barna…on 20th November 1920 his remains were discovered by a local man, William Duffy, while he was attending cattle…’ (from here.)

‘The Irish Times’ newspaper, issue dated 17th November 1920, published the following piece – ‘Responding apparently to a ‘sick call’, the Rev. Michael Griffin, junior Roman Catholic curate for the parishes of Bushy Park and Barna, Galway, went out on Sunday night in the company of three men, who are said to have worn trench coats. He disappeared as completely as if the earth had swallowed him. All efforts to trace his whereabouts have so far proved futile. A civilian search party is putting forward every effort to find some trace of the missing clergyman…’ and, on the 27th November 1920, the same newspaper reported – ‘..later in the night, by the light of a lantern, the water-logged soil was dug up. Beneath two feet of the peaty soil the dead body of Father Griffin was found. He had a bullet wound on the right temple…’

Whether they murder, kill or execute an IRA Volunteer or a priest, the British government and its armed or unarmed representatives are not welcome in Ireland and never will be.


“…the people of Fermoy lived on the (British) military. Otherwise they would live by taking in each other’s washing..” – part of the excuse uttered by anti-republican elements in an attempt to gloss over the thug-behaviour of British forces regarding the incident in question, as reported in ‘The Auckland Star’ newspaper (pictured, left) on the 11th of September, 1919.

This particular incident began two days previous to the date mentioned in our headline – on Sunday, 7th September , 1919, the date usually recognised for the first planned, organised and co-ordinated IRA attack against British forces in Ireland since the 1916 Rising. During the Black and Tan war (which started on the 21st January, 1919) IRA units attacked Royal Irish Constabulary ( the RIC – a British ‘police’-force in Ireland) barracks on a regular basis to ‘relieve’ them of their weapons, which were then used against them. The commander of an IRA Brigade, Liam Lynch (Cork No. 2 Brigade) , realised that he could use the frequency of IRA attacks on the RIC to his advantage ; by mounting a surprise attack on those that were endeavouring to protect the RIC – the British Army.

He contacted IRA General Head Quarters to seek approval for this as yet untried ‘twist’ to an old plan, but the leadership thought it unwise to proceed with the action and turned him down ; at the time, the IRA attacks on RIC barracks’ were obtaining the desired results – extra weapons for the IRA with a minimum of casualties : ‘if its not broke , don’t fix it’, was the thinking behind the refusal. But Lynch persisted ; the other IRA Volunteer in charge of the Cork No.2 Brigade, Michael Fitzgerald, was convinced that Lynch’s idea was sound, so both men put together a plan of attack which they intended to take back to GHQ. On the strength of that plan and with both Lynch and Fitzgerald insisting that it would work, they got the go-ahead for the operation.

It had been observed that a party of up to twenty armed British soldiers, stationed in Fermoy Barracks in Cork , marched to Mass each Sunday morning to the local Wesleyan Church, about half a mile from their barracks. At that time, Fermoy was a stronghold for the British Army and one of the last places where the British would expect an attack. The IRA plan was to carry-out just such an operation. A number of sites in which to dump the liberated weapons would be needed and these were sourced and secured ; two cars would be required to transport the goods out of the area quickly and that, too, was arranged. Finally, a method to stop those in pursuit of the escaping cars was required and obtained and, on Sunday, 7th September, 1919, the plan was put into action ; twenty-five IRA Volunteers, including Liam Lynch and Michael Fitzgerald, took up position around the Wesleyan Church gates in Fermoy.

The IRA men mingled with the people at the church gates and in the grounds. At the same time, other IRA men were preparing to topple two trees across the road at Carrickbrick, outside Fermoy, the agreed route of escape for the IRA cars. The IRA unit at the Church received word at about 10.45am on that Sunday morning that fifteen armed British soldiers, led by a Corporal, had minutes beforehand left their barracks and were marching towards the Church for 11AM Mass, as per usual ; as the British marched from the road onto the footpath to enter the Church grounds they were surrounded by the IRA Unit, most of whom were armed – some of the Volunteers were only there to load the captured weapons into the cars. Liam Lynch shouted at the British patrol to surrender, telling them that it was just the weapons that they were after this time, and not the soldiers. The British were stunned and surprised to find themselves in that position, and a number of them went to fire their rifles but the IRA men fired first and, in a brief but bloody gun-battle, four British soldiers fell to the ground – one was dead, the other three were badly wounded.

The shooting ended there – the British surrendered and were relieved of their rifles – fifteen in all – which were loaded into two waiting cars. The Volunteers loading the rifles into the cars got in themselves and both vehicles sped off towards the Lismore Road. Their comrades who were covering the now-disarmed British patrol inched away and withdrew from the area. Within fifteen minutes the British had filled two trucks with armed troops and were driving at top speed on the Lismore Road, minutes behind the two cars they were chasing. When the two IRA vehicles passed the town of Carrickbrick, the IRA men at the side of the road toppled the two trees which they had weakened earlier that morning. The trees fell across the road, blocking it, and the IRA lumberjacks made off across the fields. The two British Army trucks skidded to a halt at the road-block and spent a number of minutes trying to move the trees, but couldn’t, so they drove back to try and find a side-road which would take them around the blockage and back out onto the Lismore Road ; they failed there, too! By this time, the rifles had been stashed in the pre-arranged dumps. The operation was successful.

For the rest of that day (Sunday, 7th September, 1919) , and up until evening fell on the following day, hundreds of British troops, in trucks and on foot, raided the nearest towns and practically imposed martial law on the population in their search for the rifles and the IRA men responsible for the operation. Shops, houses and other buildings were searched, and people were stopped, searched and questioned as to their knowledge of events.
No-one knew anything, and the British went back to barracks on early Monday evening
(8th September, 1919) , empty-handed. However, that was not the end of the matter ; at about 8pm that Monday, hundreds of British troops stationed in the area were sent into Fermoy town-centre to make the locals pay for their silence. People on the street were pistol-whipped, shops were broken in to and looted and pubs were thrashed. The British troops spent at least two hours on the wrecking spree and then went back to base, having threatened all and sundry that unless they received the information they were looking for by end of business on the following day – Tuesday, 9th September – they would ‘call’ again, on Wednesday 10th, to make more ‘inquiries’. But not one person contacted them with information on the IRA attack so, not convinced that they had made their point, the British officers sent the same number of their troops out on that Wednesday (10th September, 1919) to terrorise the population again.

But this time the IRA were monitoring the situation, and hundreds of civilians, armed with shovels, hammers, sticks and stones etc, were waiting in Emmet Street for the British troops. Following many skirmishes and standoffs, the British troops returned early to base, having been pushed back by people-power, and had to accept the fact that not only were they not getting the information they demanded but that they were not wanted in the area nor, indeed, in the rest of the country. And, although mostly ‘confined to barracks’ in the Six Counties today, they remain unwanted.


No. 25 Parnell Square (pictured, left ; known then as Rutland Square) – the headquarters of the ‘Gaelic League’ (or Conradh na Gaeilge, founded in 1893 by Douglas Hyde) and the ‘seat’ of the 1916 Rising. On the 9th September 1914, a top-level meeting was held there, in the library, by republican representatives at which a decision was made to challenge the British writ in Ireland.

“Tom Clarke, Pádraig Pearse and Seán Tobin represented both the Volunteers and the IRB, which Pearse had recently joined. Griffith represented Sinn Féin, Jim Connolly represented the Labour movement and the Citizen Army, and I was there as a volunteer and also as Gaelic League Secretary. This was the first decisive arrangement between the Citizen Army and the Volunteers, for instance, and one of the decisions we took at the meeting was that each of us would undertake to do our utmost to strengthen both of these organisations” – the words of one of those in attendance at that historic meeting, Seán T Ó Ceallaigh. Amongst others present was Tom Clarke, Seán Mac Diarmada, Joseph Plunkett, Pádraig Mac Piarais, Thomas MacDonagh, Éamonn Ceannt, James Connolly, Arthur Griffith and William O’Brien.

Speaking in New York in 1926, Ó Ceallaigh declared that the Rising was “a coldly and deliberately planned affair” and he points to this meeting as the moment when the intention to rise during the War was first agreed upon by a group representing “all shades of advanced nationalist political thought in Ireland who pledged themselves and their organisations to do all in their power to carry on the agreement arrived at and to prepare the public mind for the great event that was to come…at that meeting it was decided that a Rising should take place in Ireland if the German army invaded Ireland ; secondly, if England attempted to enforce conscription on Ireland and thirdly if the war were coming to an end and the Rising had not already taken place, we should rise in revolt, declare war on England and when the conference was held to settle the terms of peace, we should claim to be represented as a belligerent nation…”

In 1964, Ó Ceallaigh stated re that meeting – “It was Tom Clarke who proposed the meeting to me and who asked me to fix a safe house to hold it in. The Castle detectives were very active at this time. Virtually every speech I ever made, for instance, since I became a member of Dublin Corporation in 1906, was carefully noted, as I learned later following the Rising. Every member of Sinn Féin, the Volunteers , the Gaelic League, the Fianna, was followed by G-men. We were all quite used to it and, of course, took much pleasure in ‘ditching’ our shadows when we most wanted to.”

Had such a meeting took place today in that venue, the ‘G-Men’ and ‘shadows’ would have found it even easier to spy and tout on republicans as representatives of British rule in Ireland now have two offices in that Square….


…we won’t be posting our usual contribution, and probably won’t be in a position to post anything at all ; this coming weekend (Saturday/Sunday 12th/13th) is spoke for already with a 650-ticket raffle to be run for the Dublin Executive of Sinn Féin Poblachtach in a venue on the Dublin/Kildare border (work on which begins on the Tuesday before the actual raffle) and the ‘autopsy’ into same which will take place on Monday evening 14th in RSF Head Office on Parnell Street and then it’s straight back to the preparations for the following Saturday’s ‘Eve of All-Ireland Rally’ (details here), work which has already started, including the assembly of 1,000 republican leaflets into various size ‘packs’ for distribution –

– these ‘packs’ are distributed before and during the Rally and that particular job on its own should be considered a pensionable one in itself!

Anyway , that’s the position – between the three of us we’re booked up solid with our ‘pay-the-bills/day-job’ work and the raffle and the ‘Eve Rally’ and can’t see ourselves being able to get back to posting here until Wednesday 23rd September next. And then it’ll be time to finalise work on the Ard Fheis and the Cabhair Christmas Swim and loads of other stuff which one committee or another will no doubt be looking to have done! But it’s all for a good Cause and we don’t mind helping out.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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