‘NOTHING COMPARES’ TO THIS!
The ‘Brexit’ vote gave rise to a lot of truly daft comments from a lot of different people and groups, some connected with ‘Remain’, others with the ‘Leave’ campaign and still others who hadn’t a notion what was happening and probably still don’t know what has happened!
And then our own Sinéad O’Connor goes and confuses things further – “Ireland is officially no longer owned by Britain! Congrats to every man, woman and child who ever died for the Cause of Irish freedom, and also to all those including myself, who have been persecuted mercilessly by the Irish so-called Free State for having declared support for Sinn Féin and the republican movement. Our day has come!!!!!!! Ireland 4 England 0.”
Her previous comments regarding what she believes to be “the Cause of Irish freedom” are just as disjointed – ‘She called on Gerry Adams and other key figures in the party to stand down because their faces were forever shrouded in the country’s bloody history. “When you see the faces of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness and all of these people, they remind people of violence,” she said. “Long term down the line, if these guys were to step down, Sinn Féin membership would quadruple overnight and people would be on board for changing the country, changing what it means to be a republican….(republicans should) dissociate ourselves from Ireland, England, Northern Ireland and Europe…”
The lady obviously has no grasp of our history or of our present political situation regarding the Six Counties, republicanism or partition and, as such, would have made the ideal person to lead the Provisional Sinn Féin grouping to its next destination…
PROSE AND CONS.
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.
SHIT STREET. (By Pat Kelleher.)
Empty faces empty minds
like a dripping tap
a wasted life forgotten generation
of a world unkind
Empty pockets empty hands
a sense that’s like no other
black tunnels with no lighted ends
a receipe for disaster
Predators pimps and procurers
sick paedophilia of the nation
media manipulators info brainwash traitors
Rise up from the misfortune
rise up from the shame
love is the answer
again and again.
(Next – ‘Never Say Never’ , by Pat Kelleher.)
‘Magill’ magazine has unearthed new information which raises a grim but important question : were explosives from within this Republic used in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings? It is a question which, bizarrely, also encompasses the controversial Dónal de Róiste case. By Don Mullan, author of the book ‘The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings’.
From ‘Magill’ magazine, February 2003.
THE CLONAGH AFFAIR.
The Garda Commissioner should be in a position to inform the nation concerning the “joint RUC/Garda discussions on the whole question of explosives control” and it is also imperative that he explains to the nation, and more especially to the victims of the 1974 bombings, the true reasons as to why his force were, it appears, negligent regarding the urgency of having the bomb debris analysed for the purpose of apprehending the perpetrators.
The question must be asked if someone in the Garda, or an agent of the State, suspected or knew that the explosives used in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings came from Clonagh and realised the enormous political fallout if this information became public. Garrett FitzGerald agreed that this was a line of inquiry that must now be investigated.
‘TWO TEAMS’ GO TO WAR…
I’m in good company (!), it seems, in regards to the soccer team conundrum that I mentioned here last week (“..we are seemingly ‘allowed’ two teams from Ireland to represent us in the competition…”) as I’m not the only one to make a comment in relation to how one country – Ireland, in this case – can have two teams compete in the one competition : Free State President Michael D Higgins commented last Wednesday, 22nd June, that “..all of those interested in soccer will welcome the fact that now both Irish teams have made it through to the knock out stages of the tournament…” said, I presume, after one or other of the Irish teams won a match. But never mind that – the important point in regards to that competition is that a near-alphabetical ‘neighbour’ of ours had better luck than we had…!
GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…
SIN SCÉAL EILE.
By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.
Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the ‘Frank Cahill Resource Centre’, one of the founders of ‘Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh’, the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A’Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.
His first publication last year by Glandore was ‘And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh’. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!
CATCH 22 – IN CAGE 22. (In memory of Ned Maguire RIP)
One morning in early 1975 we were convoyed to Cage 22 by lorry with what was left of our meagre belongings in tow. The Fire of Long Kesh hadn’t left us much so it didn’t take long to pack and unpack. Cage 22 before the Fire had been an Internee cage and had been destroyed – the screws had rebuilt it along with a number of other cages, to house us temporarily while they rebuilt the sentenced end of the Camp. Unlike normal Nissan Huts with brick gabled-ends these huts had wooden gable-ends.
Cage 22 nestled between Cages 6, 7 and 23, which used to be Cage 8, but no one mentions that anymore. My cousin Fra was interned at that time and was in Cage 6. On my first morning in Cage 22, Fra called me to the wire and told me that Big Ned Maguire was looking for me, as he needed a favour. “What’s he looking for?” I asked. “Dunno!” said Fra. Later on as I walked round the Cage with a few mates, I recognised the voice of Big Ned hailing me, like only he could. I knew he must have been looking for something substantial from me as he started licking round me right away.
“Mate, you’re just the man I’m looking for. I need a favour and told these ones in here that my old mate McCann would get me fixed up.” When Big Ned said ‘I need a favour’ it wasn’t a request, no matter how he worded it. Someday, someone, somewhere, will make a film about Big Ned ; he was a Long Kesh legend and there are many stories about Ned Maguire in prison to make him one of the most interesting people you could meet. He also had a wicked sense of humour… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (29TH JUNE) 245 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF AN INFORMER.
‘NEWELL, EDWARD JOHN (pictured, left) (1771–1798), Irish informer, of Scottish parentage, was born on 29th June 1771 (-245 years ago on this date-), at Downpatrick, County Down. He tells us that he ran away from home when he was seventeen and became a sailor, making a short voyage to Cadiz. In a year he returned home, and after serving as apprentice to a painter and glazier, followed the trade of a glass-stainer for two years, but failed in attempts to start a business in Dublin and Limerick. Early in 1796 he went to Belfast, and practised the profession of portrait-painting in miniature. There he joined the ‘United Irishmen’, and worked for the cause for thirteen months, neglecting his business in his enthusiasm. He was, however, distrusted by some of the leaders and, in revenge, as he admits, became an informer…he was assassinated in June 1798 by those whom he had betrayed. He was induced, it is said, to go out in a boat to meet the ship which was to convey him to America, and is supposed to have been thrown into the sea. Another account says he was shot on the road near Roughford, and a third that he was drowned at Garnogle…’ (..more here.)
So that informer was, apparently, either shot dead or drowned. I hope it was the latter, as a bullet should not be wasted in that fashion. Newell, it seems, used to ride out on horseback accompanied by about six British soldiers, pointing out individuals ‘of interest’ to his British comrades : those ‘marked’ in that manner by the informer were taken into custody by the British and ‘questioned’ in relation to their involvement with the ‘United Irishmen’. He wore a disguise and blackened his face while on Crown duty, thus forever blackening the ‘Newell’ name in this country and being disowned by his own brother. As should all informers.
ON THIS DATE (29TH JUNE) 101 YEARS AGO : “LIFE SPRINGS FROM DEATH…”
A FENIAN BALLAD [aka ‘Sweet Iveleary’]
By JEREMIAH O’DONOVAN ROSSA.
“I joined the Redcoats then – mo lein! – what would my father say?
And I was sent in one short year on service to Bombay.
I thought to be a pauper was the greatest human curse
But fighting in a robber’s cause I felt it ten times worse!
I helped to plunder and enslave those tribes of India’s sons
And we spent many a sultry day blowing sepoys from our guns.
I told these sins to Father Ned, the murder and the booty.
These were no sins for me, he said, I only “did my duty”…
No sin to kill for English greed in some far foreign clime
How can it be that patriot love in Ireland is a crime?
How can it be, by God’s decree, I’m cursed, outlawed and banned?
Because I swore one day to free my trampled native land.”
Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa was born in 1831 in a small village called Reenascreena near Rosscarbery, County Cork. He was the son of a tenant farmer, Denis O’Donovan and his wife Nellie O’Driscoll. While a young boy, the failure of the main food crop of the Irish population which was the potato, in sucessive years between 1845 and 1847, lead to a devastating famine which hit the West Cork area in which he lived, particularly hard. The ‘Great Famine’ (An Gorta Mor) as it became known, caused one million Irish people to lose their lives in these years and another million to emigrate. O’Donovan Rossa’s own father died in 1847 of an illness related to severe malnutrition and the teenager moved to Skibbereen to work in his cousin’s shop in the town.
The 1848 Young Irelander rebellion and the growing independence/anti-imperialist movements in Europe around this time inspired the young O’Donovan Rossa and in 1856 he formed the ‘Phoenix National Literary Society’ in Skibbereen town. This was essentially a secret society whose aim was Irish independence from Britain. He married the first of his three wives, Nano Eager, a Killarney woman, in 1853. By 1858 he had been sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) known colloquially as the “Fenians”, a reference to “Na Fianna” a band of warriors who defended Ireland from invaders in Irish mythology.
Following the death of his first wife in 1860 he subsequently married Ellen Buckley from Castlehaven who died in childbirth in 1863. He was imprisoned in 1865 as a result of his activities as manager of the nationalist newspaper ‘The Irish People’ and served his prison sentence in a variety of prisons in England. His peers planned the rebellion of 1867 which failed after a few brief skirmishes and armed battles in some isolated parts of Ireland, most notably Tallaght outside Dublin. The ringleaders of the rebellion were rounded up by the authorities and also eventually imprisoned in England following trial… (from here.)
His life as an Irish Fenian is well documented but he is perhaps known best in death for the graveside oration given at his funeral by Pádraig Pearse. Rossa was seriously ill in his later years, and was finally confined to a hospital bed in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Staten Island, New York, where he died at the age of 83. The new republican movement in Ireland was quick to realise the propaganda value of the old Fenian’s death, and Tom Clarke cabled to John Devoy the message: “Send his body home at once”.
His body was returned to Ireland for burial and a hero’s welcome. The funeral at Glasnevin Cemetery on the 1st August 1915 was a huge affair, garnering substantial publicity for the Irish Volunteers and the IRB at time when a rebellion (later to emerge as the Easter Rising) was being actively planned. The graveside oration, given by Pádraig Pearse, remains one of the most famous speeches of the Irish independence movement stirring his audience to a call to arms. It ended with the lines: “They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but, the fools, the fools, the fools! – they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace..”
Diarmuid O Donnabháin Rossa,
glory to God for his life,
For the glorious memory he leaves us
to strengthen our hearts in the strife.
‘Till the cause that he lived for has triumphed,
’till the darkness of thraldom has fled,
And Ireland, unfettered, shall honour
the names of her patriot dead…
We are not yet “unfettered”, but we still honour the names of our patriot dead. And, fettered or unfettered, we will continue to do so.
ON THIS DATE (29TH JUNE) 100 YEARS AGO : BRITISH SENTENCE IRISH REBEL TO “DEATH BY ROPE”.
Roger Casement (pictured, left) was born in Sandycove, County Dublin, the son of Captain Roger Casement of the 3rd Dragoon Guards of the British Army and Anne Jephson from Mallow, County Cork. His mother had him secretly baptised in her own religion, Roman Catholic, but he was raised in the Protestant faith of his father. As both his parents died young, Roger was taken in by an uncle, near Ballycastle, County Antrim, and educated as a boarder at the diocesan school in Ballymena.
From 1895 onwards he held consular appointments at various locations in Africa, including Boma in the Congo (1904) where, for the British Foreign Office, he investigated Belgian human rights abuses of the indigenous people. Later, in Peru he was commissioned to undertake a report on the reported abuse of workers in the rubber industry in the Putumayo basin, which earned him a knighthood after his findings were published as a parliamentary paper (1911). He had been a member of the Gaelic League and became increasingly radicalised by the opposition of the Ulster unionists to Home Rule from 1912 onwards and wrote nationalist articles under the pseudonym ‘Seán Bhean Bhocht…’ (from here.)
He rarely receives a mention when it comes to the writers and poets of 1916 and yet his reports from the Putumayo and from the Congo show a writer of great talent. His descriptions of the horrendous brutality inflicted on innocent and perfectly peaceful native inhabitants was enough to force a change of policy with regard to the treatment of workers and slaves on the rubber plantations. Casement wrote in 1911 that “..the robbery of Ireland since the Union has been so colossal, carried out on such a scale, that if the true account current between the two countries were ever submitted to any impartial tribunal England would be clapped in jail…” For his part in trying to stop that robbery he was convicted of treason by the British and sentenced to death after a three-day ‘trial’ (held at the Old Bailey in London between the 26th and the 29th of June 1916, where he was prosecuted by ‘Sir’ Edward Carson, the Orange Order bigot).
His speech from the dock is not as appreciated as it should be – “With all respect I assert this Court is to me, an Irishman, not a jury of my peers to try me in this vital issue for it is patent to every man of conscience that I have a right, an indefeasible right, if tried at all, under this Statute of high treason, to be tried in Ireland, before an Irish Court and by an Irish jury. This Court, this jury, the public opinion of this country, England, cannot but be prejudiced in varying degree against me, most of all in time of war. I did not land in England; I landed in Ireland. It was to Ireland I came; to Ireland I wanted to come; and the last place I desired to land in was England. But for the Attorney General of England there is only “England”— there is no Ireland, there is only the law of England — no right of Ireland; the liberty of Ireland and of the Irish is to be judged by the power of England. Yet for me, the Irish outlaw, there is a land of Ireland, a right of Ireland, and a charter for all Irishmen to appeal to, in the last resort, a charter that even the very statutes of England itself cannot deprive us of — nay, more, a charter that Englishmen themselves assert as the fundamental bond of law that connects the two kingdoms..” (…more here). Roger Casement was executed by the British on the 3rd of August 1916 in London, England.
I say that Roger Casement
did what he had to do.
He died upon the gallows,
but that is nothing new.
Afraid they might be beaten
before the bench of Time,
they turned a trick by forgery
and blackened his good name.
A perjurer stood ready
to prove their forgery true;
they gave it out to all the world,
and that is something new;
For Spring Rice had to whisper it,
being their Ambassador,
and then the speakers got it
and writers by the score.
Come Tom and Dick, come all the troop
that cried it far and wide,
come from the forger and his desk,
desert the perjurer’s side.
Come speak your bit in public
that some amends be made
to this most gallant gentleman
that is in quicklime laid.
This gallant gentleman will be commemorated on Sunday, 7th August 2016, at Murlough Bay in County Antrim, beginning at 2.30pm. All genuine republicans welcome!
ON THIS DATE (29TH JUNE) 95 YEARS AGO : DEATHS OF THREE IRA VOLUNTEERS.
On this date – 29th June – in 1921, three IRA Volunteers died in two separate incidents ; Pat Durr and his comrade Edward ‘Ned’ Weir (from Carrowbaun, Ballintubber, County Roscommon) were unarmed when they were dragged from their homes by British forces and shot dead and Tom Healy, from Duagh in County Kerry, an ex-RIC man – he worked in Ennis, County Clare, as an office clerk for the district inspector of the RIC and had been supplying the IRA with information but when his activities came under suspicion he retired from the RIC and joined the Mid-Clare ASU of the IRA, transferring later to the East Clare Column. He suffered from a heart attack while he was taking part in a battle with the Black and Tans at Enrights Farm near Sixmilebridge in Clare and his body was taken home, to Duagh, and buried with military honours.
Ye who were a living force
are now a battle cry on our long roll
to nerve us when our hearts grow faint.
At thought of the long odds and thorny path
which still confront us
you, who in life, have shown us how to live
have now taught us how to die ;
teach us still.
We children of unbeaten hope who oft have lacked
courage and strength to further the Cause
of our endeavour –
a nation free!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.