‘Positive and overbearing,
Changeful still and still adhering,

Spiteful, peevish, rude, untoward,
Fierce in tongue, in heart a coward.
Judgement weak and passion strong,
Always various, always wrong.’

“On this date (26th April 1745 – 272 years ago today), John Allen (3rd Viscount Allen), former MP for Carysfort, kills a dragoon in a street brawl : ‘His Lordship was at a house in Eustace Street. At twelve in the night, three dragoons making a noise in the street, he threw up the window and threatening them, adding as is not unusual with him a great deal of bad language. The dragoons returned it. He went out to them loaded with a pistol. At the first snapping of it, it did not fire. This irritated the dragoon who cut his (ie Allen’s) fingers with his sword, upon which Lord Allen shot him.’ The wound occasions a fever which causes Lord Allen’s death on 25 May…”

Or maybe, perhaps, the ‘3rd Viscount’ did not invite such misfortune onto himself – ‘..he seems to have been mugged in the centre of Dublin one night in 1745, and although he fought off his attackers – and killed one of them – he received a wound in his hand which became infected and caused his death a month later…he died on 25 May 1745 from an infected wound in the hand received when he was ‘insulted in the public streets by some disorderly dragoons’ – one of whom he killed – on 26 April 1745..’ (from here.)

And this, sourced from ‘Google Books’ – ‘This nobleman being insulted in the public streets by some disorderly dragoons 26 April 1745, received a wound in the hand which occasioned a fever, and caused his death 25 May…’

But, really, whatever about John Allen (the’nobleman’) inviting trouble by being verbally aggressive to three ‘loud’ soldiers (karma that all four participants were birds of a feather!) or whether the three soldiers momentarily forgot they were on home ground and simply behaved as if they were ‘on duty’ elsewhere in their ’empire’, the parties involved caused trouble only too and for themselves, unlike another ‘John Allen’, featured here, who would attempt to convince you (having himself obviously being convinced by his ‘betters’) that the ’empire’ he served is some sort of benevolent and charitable organisation, rather than the thieving and toxic entity it is.

That last link will permit you to ‘View More Comments’, and you should – “And I’m sure that many members of the Red Army were “fully dedicated to the well-being and advancement of the people they served” and had a “sense of mission” too..the problem is that ruling over people without their consent (which is what colonialism is a subset of) is wrong. It doesn’t matter if you do it for purely “greater good” or paternalistic reasons, it’s still wrong…it would be much better for us as a society to really stop lying to ourselves and face the reality of the British Empire. It committed genocide across the world, stole the natural resources from the countries we claimed as ours, destroyed and laid waste to the cultures of millions of people, raped, pillaged and then in the dog days of empire we pretend we were their (sic) to protect the people from terrorists..”

At least this ‘John Allen’ admits to being a comedian, unlike the other two, and acknowledges that ‘his house is a mess’ – the other two John Allen’s, by virture of their professions, preferred to ‘mess up’ everybody else’s ‘house’…



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.

DUMBO THE ELEPHANT… (By Cian Sharkhin.)

“Christopher!” My mum called, beckoning me to join them, so I could cross the road with them. The baby elephant lurched sideways and raised its trunk ; everyone on my side of the elephant stepped back and gasped in unison. I couldn’t move, I was hemmed in, only inches away from the elephant and I could feel its breath warm against my hand. It made me shiver.

“Christopher!”My mother called out again. “Come here!” But I couldn’t move. I didn’t even look at her. “Christopher! CHRISTOPHER!!” Her voice, ten decibels higher, penetrated me. The crowd looked around at each other, all looking to see who Christopher was, I guessed. I joined in, ignoring my mother, not a good idea at the best of times, but I couldn’t have moved anyway.

“Christopher! Come here!” Her ‘telephone voice’ had degenerated. All semblance of control was fast slipping away. The angry voice from the darkest recesses was emerging. Trouble! I glanced furtively over at her. She caught me, glared at me with the eyes of a crazed woman. “Come here right NOW!” I lowered my eyes and they unwittingly came to rest on the zoo keeper’s long bamboo cane. I felt my ears getting hot and I could still feel my mother’s gaze burning into the back of my head. I saw a luminous after vision of her eyes searing into the soft tissue of my brain… (MORE LATER.)



Regular readers will know that we rarely do a ‘sports’-related item on this blog, as it’s not a subject we’re really interested in and we don’t follow it enough to know the ‘in’s-and-out’s’ about it, and certainly not to the extent where we would post our opinion on the subject.

But the pic on the left is from ‘The Irish Times’ newspaper of Tuesday, 25th April 2017, and was sent to us by one of our readers who, rightly, pondered what the reaction would be if a sport-related headline was published in a newspaper declaring that ‘England will meet Northern England in World Cup qualifying’ or ‘Portugal will meet Northern Portugal in World Cup qualifying’ or ‘Wales will meet Northern Wales in World Cup qualifying’ or… – you get our drift!

A ludicrous ‘State’ of affairs, obviously, but here in Ireland it’s all part of the ‘normalisation’ process whereby repeated use of language and terms like that serve a purpose – to make it seem acceptable and second-nature to present this country as consisting of two separate entities and, by default, to present those who challenge instances of that nature as ‘old-fashioned and outdated odd-ball nitpickers’ or some such. And so be it – welcome to our wee old-fashioned and outdated corner of the web (which, of course, is divided into a five-cornered unit. And we’re gonna keep saying that until you believe it…!)



At the end of a year in which *IRA decommissioning has been met with widespread euphoria, Phil Mac Giolla Bháin takes a stubborn look at the facts and concludes that the celebration party may be a little premature. From the ‘Magill Annual 2002’ (*PIRA).

For Cathal Goulding, ‘IRA’ did mean ‘I Ran Away’. Goulding and his class-conscious comrades did indeed run away from the sectarian realities of the Belfast proletariat. The battle of the Short Strand saw the Provos buy the franchise of armed republicanism in the North and, subsequently, the whole island. The deal between armed republicanism and the nationalist population was rewritten for a new generation. The glacial pace of the Adams agenda to constitutionalise the Provos has been a keen understanding of that contractual arrangement. Holding the franchise is a temporary arrangement. The title deeds* are not for sale. Currently there is no viable bidder and that may hold for some time – just as there was no credible bid in the marketplace in 1962. (*’1169′ comment – the “title deeds”, so to speak, are not ‘for sale’, true enough – but they never were, and were certainly never even on offer to those who would take that ‘paperwork’ into the toilet that is Leinster House).

If the Republican Movement was a company, then at no time in its history has it had a CEO of the quality of Gerry Adams (‘1169’ comment – lol! If the author of that statement was a lawyer, he could play this part for real!). Moreover, the quality he can call in from his vice president, Martin McGuinness, and the rest of the boardroom is peerless on either of what we term ‘these islands’. They are easily a more formidable negotiating team than the plenipotentiaries sent by de Valera to barter with Lloyd George (‘1169’ comment – Wow! Lionel has really lost the plot : if I didn’t know better, I’d be inclined to believe he was after a PSF ‘inhouse’ job. Or, perhaps, promotion to a management position…!). They have negotiated from a far weaker position, against greater odds than the Collins team had to contend with. They have done so with great skill and endurance (…come, now, Lionel, they can’t take all the credit…).

They have been forced to capitulate on the weapons issue in a way that is the obverse of what Nelson Mandela told de Klerk when asked about the ANC’s ‘illegal’ weapons – Mandela simply told him they would be handed in “when we are the government collecting them”. At that point, of course, the need for ANC weapons would be over as the cause of that conflict – apartheid – would also be removed… (MORE LATER).



Francis Sheehy-Skeffington was born on the 23rd December 1878 in Bailieborough, Co Cavan, and was 37 years of age in 1916 when some of those who shared mostly the same social interests as he did and frequented the same venues (Thomas MacDonagh, James Connolly, Countess Markievicz and Joseph Plunkett, for example) organised and took part in an armed uprising against the British. Sheehy-Skeffington would have been sympathetic to their objective but not to their method.

On Easter Monday, 24th April 1916, the Irish republican Proclamation was circulated in Dublin and, in reply, on Tuesday 25th, the British circulated their own ‘Proclamation’ in Dublin –

WHEREAS, in the City of Dublin and County of Dublin, certain evil disposed persons and Associations, with the intention of subverting the supremacy of the Crown in Ireland, have committed diverse acts of violence, and have with deadly weapons attacked the forces of the Crown, and have resisted by armed force the lawful authority of His Majesty’s Police and Military forces ; and WHEREAS by reason thereof several of His Majesty’s liege subjects have been killed and many others severely injured, and much damage to property has been caused ; and WHEREAS such armed resistance to His Majesty’s Authority still continues :

NOW WE, Ivor Churchill Baron Wimborne, Lord Lieutenant-General and General Governor of Ireland, by virture of all the powers thereunto enabling us, do hereby proclaim that from and after the date of this Proclamation, and for the period of one month thereafter, unless otherwise ordered, the City of Dublin and County of Dublin are under and subject to Martial Law ; and WE do hereby call on all loyal and well-affected subjects of the Crown to aid in upholding and maintaining the peace of the Realm and the supremacy, and authority of the Crown ; and WE warn all peaceable and law-abiding subjects within such area of the danger of frequenting or being in any place in or in the vicinity of which His Majesty’s forces are engaged in the suppression of disorder :

AND WE do hereby enjoin upon such subjects the duty and necessity, so far as practicable, of remaining within their own homes so long as these dangerous conditions prevail ; and WE do hereby proclaim that all persons found carrying arms without lawful authority are liable to be dealt with by virture of this Proclamation.

Given at Dublin,

This 25th day of April, 1916.

That British ‘Proclamation’ was only in circulation for a day when three men were ‘arrested’ by British forces : Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, Patrick McIntyre and Thomas Dickson. It was earlier on that same day, Wednesday 26th April 1916, that 1,600 British soldiers from the ‘Third Cavalry Brigade’, artillery from Athlone and the 176th and 178th Infantry Brigades of the 59th North Midland Division of the British Army were preparing themselves for the march from ‘Kingstown’ Harbour (Dun Laoighaire) to Dublin city centre. Tension was high in the city ; Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, a leading writer and well-known pacifist, was in Dublin city centre, on his way home to Rathmines when he tried to help stop looters who were out in force, taking advantage of the disorganised situation in the capital, but he was ‘arrested’ by British troops from Portobello Barracks, as were two other civilians – Dublin journalists Patrick McIntyre, then editor of the ‘Labour’ newspaper, ‘Searchlight’, and Thomas Dickson, then editor of a pro-republican weekly newspaper, ‘The Eye-Opener’.

Word circulated on Thursday morning, April 27th, 1916, that the three men had been shot dead in the barrack square by a British Army firing squad, without any ‘formal’ charges having been brought against any of them. Later , the British Army Captain in charge of the firing squad, a Bowen Colthurst, a member of the ‘Royal Irish Rifles’, from Dripsey in County Cork, who was a decorated officer who had fought in the Boer War and afterwards served in India, including the 1904 British military incursion into Tibet. He had been injured while leading a disastrous attack against a German position on the western front in September 1914 and was sent back to Ireland. He was attached to the 3rd Battalion stationed at Portobello Barracks when the 1916 Easter Rising took place. Colthurst was later ‘tried’ by court-martial regarding the order he issued to the firing squad and was found ‘guilty but insane’, but a different account re the shooting of the three men was beginning to emerge : it was during the court-martial of Bowen Colthurst that a different version of the events surrounding the executions of Francis Sheehy Skeffington, Patrick mcIntyre and Thomas Dickson was spoke of – a British Army Officer in Portobello Barracks stated that he heard a number of shots on the Wednesday (April 26th, 1916) and went to investigate ; he claimed to have seen three stretchers being carried out of the porch of the guardroom on which were three dead bodies – one of those bodies had a blanket thrown over it and a bowler hat placed across the face and, from either side of the stretcher, an arm hung down, dripping blood.

This (unnamed) British Army Officer claimed that the body with the bowler hat on the face was that of Francis Sheehy Skeffington – the ‘witness’ stated, apparently in a jovial manner, that the firing party had done its work so badly that a second one had had to be summoned to finish Skeffington off. Were the three men shot dead in the guardroom on the Wednesday night (26th April 2017) by a vengeful British enemy and then, in order to cover-up the deed, were their corpses ‘wheeled out’ the following day for an ‘official’ British Army ‘execution’..?

The following letter makes for interesting reading in relation to the circumstances surrounding this particular event –

From Henry Lemass
To : Herbert Henry Asquith
13 June 1916

As solicitor for Mrs. Sheehy Skeffington – for whose husband’s murder, on 26th April, Captain Bowen Colthurst has been adjudged guilty – I have the honour to inquire when the promised Public Inquiry will be held? My client is profoundly dissatisfied with the limited information afforded at the Courtmartial, when the insanity of the accused was suggested. While she abhors the idea that fresh blood should be spilt, my client is equally resolute that the truth should be known, so that the people of the three Kingdoms may determine whether the same measure of justice has been meted out to all parties affected by the rebellion.

That there were circumstances giving rise to anxiety connected with the recent trial will be evident from the following facts : Lieutenant Wylie, K.C. who had prosecuted to conviction other men recently executed, was released from this Courtmartial and an English Counsel, not fully acquainted with the facts or imperfectly instructed, was appointed. Although no plea of inability to plead was entered for the accused, the question of his sanity was raised from the outset.

Yet the manner in which he effected the arrest of the other murdered men (Messrs Dickson and McIntyre) was not proved, nor the process by which he selected them for execution from amongst eight prisoners. Nevertheless, it was within the knowledge of the Military Authorities that Messrs Dickson and McIntyre were taken into custody on the premises of Alderman James Kelly, ex-High Sheriff, by the accused, under the idea that the shop belonged to Alderman Thomas Kelly, a person of wholly different politics.
They also knew that Colthurst threw a bomb into the premises and subsequently “planted” Mr. Dickson’s trunk therein to give rise to the suspicion that Mr. Dickson had been harboured by Alderman James Kelly who was also lodged in Portobello Barracks.

Nor was the Court informed that two sisters of Mrs. Skeffington, viz: Mrs Kettle (wife of Lieutenant Kettle), and Mrs, Culhane (widow of a public official lately deceased) called at Portobello Barracks on Friday, 28th April, after the murders, and, on inquiring for their brother, Lieutenant Sheehy, were put under arrest and brought before Captain Colthurst, and that he denied all knowledge of Mr. Skeffington and was perfectly calm and collected in his demeanour and falsehoods. Similarly, the tribunal was not made aware that on the evening after his examination of these ladies, Captain Colthurst ordered a search of Mrs.Skeffington’s house; that his soldiers first fired into her dwelling, and then, producing a key taken from the body of the murdered man, opened his locked room and removed documents to try to furnish the accused with ex post facto justification for his crime.

The second raid on the widow’s house by Colthurst’s orders on the following Monday, as well as the fact that one of the soldiers who took part in it was the Sergeant left in charge of Dickson’s trunk at Alderman James Kelly’s, was also left unmentioned. There was an equally significant silence as to the protests of the murdered men on the morning of their execution, and as to the accused’s refusal of spiritual solace to them in their last moments. The Courtmartial were likewise unaware that Captain Colthurst was allowed to remain at large by his superiors until the 6th May – nearly a fortnight after the murders – while the non-production of Major Sir Francis Vane, his Senior Officer, disabled it from learning that on the 1st may (a week after the murders) the accused was promoted to the charge of the Defence of Portobello Barracks.

His conduct on shooting the lad, Coade, on Rathmines Road previous to the three murders, was not introduced, although Coade’s father immediately lodged information at the Barracks. None of the soldiers who formed the firing party was called to speak as to the nature of the accuseds commands and demeanour, or explain how Mr. Skeffington came to be taken from a locked cell without authority. The added tragedy which led to a second squad of soldiers being called out to fire at the prostrate body of Mr. Skeffington would not have become known (although proved at the private preliminary inquiry) but for the candour of the noble President of the tribunal, Lord Cheylesmore.

As for the attempt to fasten complicity with the rebellion on Mr. Skeffington by the production of a document published previously by Alderman Thomas Kelly (which deceased, as a journalist, kept in his house) – it stands in strange contrast with the silence preserved concerning the innocence of the other slaughtered men and the Court was not even told who or what they were. The admission of this document after Adjutant Morgan, who produced it, had sworn that it was not found on Mr. Skeffington, may have been due to inadvertenance, but the cunning of the untruthful endorsement on it by the accused to the effect that it was found on the body, seemed to call for observation on the issue of sanity, as corroboration of the fact that Captain Colthurst from the date when he knew the murders were discovered, was engaged in the manufacture of evidence to palliate his guilt.

I therefore have to ask that in view of the promised Inquiry you will make arrangements with the Military Authorities to have in attendance thereat, in addition to the witnesses called on behalf of the prosecution at the late Courtmartial, the following persons : 1 — The soldiers under command of Lieutenant Wilson when Mr. Skeffington was marched out of his cell into the street to serve as a hostage. 2 — The soldiers who composed the first and second firing parties. 3 — Lieutenant Colonel McCammond who was in command of the Royal Irish Rifles. 4 — Major Sir Francis Vane, 2nd in Command. 5 — Lieutenant Tooley and Lieutenant Gibbon. 6 — The officers and soldiers who were sent after the murder to search Mrs. Skeffington’s residence on two occasions – especially Sergeant Claxton.
Of course, the names, regiment and regimental number of all the proposed witnesses should be supplied to me some days before the Inquiry, unless the Government undertake to call them for examination. I should also be furnished the Notes of the preliminary Inquiry which the Courtmartial were supplied with. In addition I request that all documents, etc., taken from the person of Mr. Skeffington, or seized at his residence, should be returned, and if this is refused that copies should be supplied to me.

I should likewise be afforded an opportunity of examining and taking copies of any reports or entries dealing with the circumstances attending the arrest or execution of Mr. Skeffington, or the searches at his residence. I shall feel obliged by an intimation of an early decision.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient Servant

Prime Minister,
10 Downing Street, London, S.W.’

Francis Sheehy Skeffington : Born 23rd December 1878, Bailieborough, County Cavan ; Died 26th April 1916 (aged 37) Portobello Barracks, Dublin.




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!


We wondered how long it would take for this slogan to take off and how long it would be before it was out-selling Che Guevara T-Shirts in all the major capital cities of the world. “What exactly does it say, Cyril?” The question was asked at long last. Cyril gave a look that would have melted you, so we decided it was a stupid question, never to be asked again.

From our lofty vantage point on top of the huts we could just about make out some other banners that our comrades in other cages had erected on top of their huts. They were so predictable (see ‘Smuggle Us In Some Fags, Ma’ and other such suggestions!). Unfortunately, we couldn’t anchor our banner securely to the huts, so all of us had to take turns standing there, holding them up. It was absolutely freezing, although it was still warmer than being inside the huts.

At around four o’clock a helicopter appeared over the top of the huts and we could clearly see the cameraman filming us. The electricity came on about six o’clock and we ran down to get a cup of tea and watch the news on television before the electricity went off again. A huge cheer went up from all assembled at the TV – there we were, in glorious black and white , the men of Cage 10 on top of the huts holding their banner. The news item then showed some of the other cages with what we considered to be their crap banners. We gloated at our innovative banner and compared the banal efforts of our comrades at the Sentenced end of the Camp. “Did ye see that one they had up in Cage 13? Jesus, we rejected that one immediately!”, boasted a guy from Toomebridge. The criticism of the other banners went on into the early hours of the morning in Cage 10… (MORE LATER).



Dear Mum
Dear Mum, I know you’re always there
To help and guide me with all your care,
You nursed and fed me and made me strong
To face the world and all its wrong.
What can I write to you this day
For a line or two would never pay
For care and time you gave to me
Through long hard years unceasingly.
How you found strength I do not know
How you managed I’ll never know,

Struggling and striving without a break
Always there and never late.

You prayed for me and loved me more
How could I ask for anymore
And reared me up to be like you
But I haven’t a heart as kind as you.
A guide to me in times of plight
A princess like a star so bright
For life would never have been the same
If I hadn’t of learned what small things came.
So forgive me Mum just a little more
For not loving you so much before,
For life and love you gave to me
I give my thanks for eternity.
Bobby Sands.

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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