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.


Diving into the bottomless lake
beginning to wonder will it awake.
Breath diminished, life at stake
desperately seeking that golden gate.

Lungs are empty, heart is still
never before such a thrill
body and mind two separate parts
one the beginning, the other the start.

Feeling like it’s floating in space
confident now that it’ll win the race,
floating along at a steady pace
high on the plateau of cosmic grace.

Returning to base it feels each follicle,
absorbing air, omitting molecule.

(Next – ‘Ethan’ , by David Lynch.)


The Far Right has been resurgent across continental Europe for several years. But only in the last 12 months has Ireland seen an emergence of openly neo-Nazi cells.
By Alan Walsh.
From ‘Magill’ magazine, May 2002.

Far-right politics seem somehow an alien concept in Irish culture, despite being widespread throughout the rest of the continent. The last outright movement of this type here was the ‘National Socialist Irish Workers Party’ back in 1986 and, up until very recently, the Garda hadn’t even been keeping statistics on racially motivated crime.

With many of our EU partners, however, the new far right is very familiar and, in some quarters already, even a tradition, often converging directly with the mainstream. The failure of social democrat and labour parties in Britain and across the continent to successfully present Europe as a culturally cosmopolitan utopia has seen a steep decline in membership and, in some cases – such as the ‘Social Democrat Party’ in Austria – removal from office.

Low turnouts in many elections, especially that in Austria, are indicative of an electorate, particularly the middle and lower middle class, entirely alienated from traditional politics. These are the precise circumstances used by certain groups to propose themselves as fighting against both corporate dominated globalisation and the handcuffed piecemeal measures of the parliamentary left. These groups, in order to avoid confronting the factual necessities of the market, select the easiest and most deceptively obvious factors on the ground, such as immigration, crime and an abandonment of traditional values as their scapegoats…




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)

I was alone and in a Catch 22 situation ; was Big Ned having me on or not? This was the question. I had to take a chance : I shouted “What exactly is it that you are looking for?” and, as Ned told me again what he needed, I detected that look on his face that told me that he thought that he had got one over on me. “Where are you going to get the leather for two holsters?” , asked Tommy Barnes. “I have a plan”, I answered with a wink, and I put that plan in motion after I had a cup of tea. Of course. I gathered the stuff about me to implement my plan, walked over to the wire and shouted over to Fra McCann in Cage 6 : “Fra, give Big Ned a shout for me but make sure you let everyone know that there’s something afoot…”

I couldn’t have spoken a truer word : Ned came out to the wire, and I could see dozens of Cage 6’ers behind his back, taking vantage points to find out what was happening. “Any joy, mate?”, asked Big Ned. “It was touch and go, comrade, but I’ve came up trumps for you,” I answered. “I managed to get two bits of old leather that should prove perfect for your needs. Stand back from the wire and catch this bag.” As Ned made his way to the centre of the cage I launched the bag containing two busted Dr. Marten boots into Cage 6. As the boots were in mid-air I told Ned that it was the best of leather. At one time…

“What the fuck’s this?”, Ned screamed. “Two bits of leather”, I replied. “Are you trying to make an eejit out of me?”, asked Ned. “No way, comrade.What’s the problem? You asked me for two old bits of leather for holsters and I thought that they would be perfect. I even got them for a left-handed or right-handed draw…” Big Ned looked at me as if I was simple and asked – “Are you simple?” “If they’re no good I might be able to get my hands on a pair of Beatle Boots for you”, I said. In for a penny, in for a pound. The entire Cage 6’ers and most of the Cage 22’ers held their breath awaiting Big Ned’s response. My stomach was churning… (MORE LATER.)


And I am. Shouldn’t be, I know, but I feel like a fish out of water – uneasy, disorganised. But I’m getting there : for our post next week (Wednesday 28th September 2016) I’m told we’ll have a piece about two FBI agents who were spying on an Irish republican in California but who were themselves being spied on by a college security officer…but, for now, here’s two ‘On This Date’ pieces that we borrowed from elsewhere :


On the 21st September 1827 – 189 years ago on this date – Michael Corcoran (left), a brigadier general in the Federal Army during America’s Civil War, was born in Carrowkeel, County Sligo. Corcoran served as a policeman in the Royal Irish Constabulary but resigned during the Great Hunger, no longer able to condone the repressive actions of that police force against the starving Irish. He emigrated to New York and found work in the city’s employ while also joining the 69th New York State Militia as a private. He rose through the ranks to colonel commanding the regiment and won the hearts of the city’s Irish population when he refused to parade the 69th for the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1860. The state intended to court-martial him for this but the start of the Civil War led officials to dismiss the charges, and Corcoran led the regiment to Washington. At the Battle of 1st Bull Run, Corcoran was wounded and captured and spent the next 13 months in various Confederate prisons before he was finally exchanged.
His health would never recover from that time in Southern prison camps. Promoted to brigadier general on his return, he recruited a brigade of volunteers from Irish enclaves in New York state that became known as Corcoran’s Legion. He led the legion and then a division during the Suffolk (Virginia) campaign in April 1863. While there he was involved with a regrettable incident. While riding with fellow Fenian leader John O’Mahoney, Corcoran shot and killed Lt. Col. Edgar Kimball of the 9th New York Infantry. Corcoran was ordered to face a court-martial in the case, but it was never convened. On December 22nd, 1863, Corcoran was riding with Brig. Gen. Thomas F. Meagher and others when he suddenly fell from his horse and died shortly afterwards. Many articles on Corcoran say he was killed when his horse fell on him, but recent research points toward a stroke as the most likely cause of death. On December 27th, he was interred at Calvary Cemetery in the borough of Queens, today within New York City. (From here, as is the ‘Eamonn Ceannt’ piece – also, more on Michael Corcoran here.)


On this date – 21st September – in 1881, revolutionary Éamonn Ceannt (left) was born in Glenamaddy, County Galway. He was educated at University College, Dublin, and worked on the clerical staff of Dublin city council. Éamonn joined the Gaelic League in 1900 and later taught classes in Irish. He was a pipe player, once playing the uileann pipes for the Pope in Rome. He was said to love the language, music and dance of his native country and to have an unshakeable commitment to Irish freedom. Ceannt joined Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1908 and was also one of the founders of the Irish Volunteers in 1913, and was elected to its Provisional Committee. The day before the Easter Rising in 1916, Ceannt was one of the seven signatories to the Proclamation, in effect, signing their death warrants. During the Rising, he commanded the area of the South Dublin Union. The plan called for him to hold the area with 1,000 men; he had only 130, but his small command, especially Cathal Brugha, resisted the British until Patrick Pearse surrendered the entire rebel force. Like the other leaders of the Rising, Éamonn Ceannt faced the kangaroo court that condemned him with his head held high. On May 7th 1916, he wrote his wife a note, telling her “I shall die, like a man for Ireland’s sake” and, On May 8th, he was put up against a wall in Kilmainham Jail and shot by the British.



On this date 15 years ago (2001) the then State ‘Taoiseach’, Bertie Ahern (pictured, left) announced ‘that Ireland (by which he meant the 26-County State) will put its airports, airspace, refuelling facilities and garda intelligence at the disposal of the US in the battle against terrorism’ (and is on record for also claiming that “we” [the Leinster House administration and/or those that voted for them?] are “happy to facilitate” such American actions – see page 8, here) and, on the 21st September nine years ago (2007) he was exposed for his ‘inconsistencies’ (!) in relation to his testimony (under oath, not that that means anything to him and his ilk) at the Mahon Tribunal.

Or am I just another kebab plotting against him, in the hope of upsetting the apple tart…?

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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