ON THIS DATE (28TH JUNE) 95 YEARS AGO : FREE STATERS USE BORROWED WEAPONS FROM WESTMINSTER AGAINST THEIR OLD COMRADES.
“For a little while on the morning of the attack on IRA Headquarters, Four Courts, Dublin, 28th June 1922 (95 years ago, on this date), Liam Mellows and I shared vigil at one of the barricaded upper windows, and watched the city bestir itself, within our arc of vision, to the noise of rifle fire and light artillery fire. We thought our thoughts.
Two men, obviously workmen making their way along the quays to their jobs, started us speculating on what role the trade unions would have been guided into were James Connolly alive and the Republic under attack.
It was the first time I heard Mellows on the play of social forces in the crisis of the Treaty ; I was present at the Dáil Éireann session when he made his speech against the Treaty but, while what he said then impressed me greatly, it gave no indication of the pattern of ideas he uncovered now.
The Four Courts fell and its garrison became prisoners, and with it members of the IRA Executive – Rory O’ Connor, Liam Mellows, Joe McKelvey and Peadar O’ Donnell. In the angry mood of the thronged cells in Mountjoy Jail , the prisoners instinctively turned to Mellows as the one among us who must, somehow, be able to explain how the Republican Army could permit itself to be overrun by much weaker military forces and why certain men of courage, hitherto devoted to independence, should choose to enter on a road of struggle to overthrow the Republic and raise on its ruins a parliament which rested on the penal British Government of Ireland Act 1920..” (From ‘There Will Be Another Day’, by Peadar O’Donnell, first published in January 1963.)
‘..on the 14th April 1922, Anti-Treaty forces under the command of Rory O’Connor occupied the Four Courts and several other buildings in Dublin city. A tense stand off between Pro and Anti-Treaty Forces commenced. Anti-Treaty forces hoped that their occupation of the courts would ignite a confrontation with British troops and thus unite the pro and anti Treaty forces. However, this hope never materialised. Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith (‘1169’ comment – Both Free Staters, pro-Treaty – they were sold a pup, and they tried to sell it to others by subterfuge – in Griffith’s own words “I have signed a Treaty of peace between Ireland and Great Britain. I believe that treaty will lay foundations of peace and friendship between the two Nations. What I have signed I shall stand by in the belief that the end of the conflict of centuries is at hand..”) came under increasing pressure from London to assert the new governments authority in Dublin and remove those occupying the courts…on the 22nd June 1922, two men assassinated soldier and Unionist politician Sir Henry Wilson in London. Though it was stated that the men were acting on their own initiative, it was suspected that they were acting on orders from Anti-Treaty forces. This action produced an ultimatum from the British government, that they would attack Anti–Treaty forces in the Four Courts unless the Free State government took action. Collins issued a final ultimatum to those occupying the courts. The three-armed parties involved had now reached a point of no return. Civil War was now inevitable…on the 28th June 1922 at 04.10 hours, the bombardment commenced. Shelling was to continue for a number of days..’ (from here.)
Michael Collins (left) and his bodyguard, Emmet Dalton.
Emmet Dalton led the Free State attack on the Four Courts ; he was an Irish rebel-turned-Free Stater, who was born in America on March 4th 1898 and died in Dublin on March 4th 1978 – his 80th birthday, and also the bicentenary of the birth of the man he was named after – Robert Emmet. Dalton sold out in favour of the ‘Treaty of Surrender’ in 1921 and made a (Free State) name for himself by attacking republican positions from the sea, actions that his British paymasters considered as having ‘turned the tide’ against the Irish republican resistance. He was with Michael Collins on the 22nd of August 1922 when the latter was shot dead by republican forces in West Cork (Béal na mBláth) and is said to have propped up a dying Collins to place dressings on his wound. He resigned from the Free State Army shortly after Collins was killed, and was appointed as the clerk of the Free State Senate, but resigned from that, too, three years later, and opened a film production company, Ardmore Studios, near Bray, in Wicklow. He died, aged 80, on the 4th of March 1978, the same date and month that he had been born on, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.
He, Collins, Griffith and those others were wrong at the time when they propagandised that their ‘treaty’ offered “the end of the conflict of centuries” as they were experienced enough to realise that that wasn’t the case. They cursed the rest of us for their own ends.
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.
SCENT OF FRAGRANCE. (By Greg Tarrand.)
You sent me a flower
A powerful message
From you to me
On my birthday.
Oh what a surprise
I could never surmise
And never before
To my door
A flower had I.
The flower may not last
But the memory will never pass
The fragrance will never be lost
As on that December day
You took away the frost.
Oh the power
Of that flower
From me to you
(Next – ‘The General’, by Brendan Walsh.)
“We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all.” – So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for ‘Northern Ireland’, last July in ‘The London Evening Standard’ newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from ‘Iris’ magazine, Easter 1991. (‘1169′ comment : *’August’ as in ‘ dignified and impressive’? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway…)
We do not totally annihilate our political opponents, therefore we cannot adequately comprehend or defend ourselves against the totalitarian callousness of their ‘real politik’ since it breaks our unwritten codes of behaviour.
To them, our small, quickmoving , falsely jolly politicians with their undeviating lack of steadfast resolve, have more in common with Italian businessmen or Levantine street-sellers than with the grave dignified men of affairs they perceive themselves to be.
We do not have their assured possession of superb self-confidence. We never approached their conviction of moral superiority. We are socially a little unsure of ourselves but we get on well with them at an effective rather than at an intellectual level. We fall too easily into the old master-servant pattern of behaviour which is the historic English-Irish mode of relations… (MORE LATER).
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!
“HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS…?”.
Nobody I knew up until I got the scallions would even admit to eating Champ but now they were champing at the bit to get eating it.
The next day started like any other day but a feeling of optimism swamped the cage. The potatoes were peeled and the scallions were prepared. A rumour was circulated that Cage 10 had sometime during the night redirected their tunnel by 240 degrees in the direction of Cage 11 in an effort to tunnel into our cage while we slept and steal the scallions. Gangs of men armed with iron bed-ends roamed Cage 11 waiting for one sign of infiltrators, but no one showed up.
Finally, the Champ was ready. My comrades customised their portion with their own preferred selected goodies – there was Champ l’Orange, Fillet de Champ, Ulster Fry Champ, Fish n’ Champ, Bangers and Champ, Champ Madras and Curried Champ with Black Bean Sauce.
Over the coming weeks and months we grew to hate the stuff! But we all agreed that, on that particular balmy Sunday in Long Kesh, it was one of the most civilised meals we ever had. Except for the fights that broke out over the extra portions!
[END OF “HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS…?” : next – ‘Self-Inflicted Injuries’.]
ON THIS DATE (28TH JUNE) 219 YEARS AGO – ‘UNITED IRISHMEN’ LEADER EXECUTED BY THE BRITISH.
‘Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey was captured within a few weeks by the British and was ‘tried’, convicted and hanged on the 28th June 1798 (219 years ago, on this date) at the bridge of Wexford. His body was then beheaded, the torso thrown into the River Slaney and his head displayed on a spike at the courthouse in Wexford town….’ – from a piece we wrote here on the 31st May last, as it was on that date (31st May) that the ‘United Irishman’ in question, Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey, ‘..was appointed by the approximate four-thousand strong rebel army in that area (Wexford) as their Commander-in-Chief..’ (from here.)
We won’t re-post the whole piece, as it’s only five weeks ago that we first posted it on this blog but, having said that, we couldn’t let the date pass without referencing its relevance to the man, and drawing your attention to this article, from the ‘Library Ireland’ website : ‘Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey (was) an estated gentleman of about £3,000 a year, in the County of Wexford, a barrister, and commander of the Wexford insurgents in 1798. He was born about 1762, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, studied at the Middle Temple, and was called to the Bar in 1782. Before the insurrection of 1798 he “was in tolerable practice as a barrister, and was extremely popular with all parties. He was high-spirited, kind-hearted, and good-tempered, fond of society, given to hospitality, and especially esteemed for his humane and charitable disposition towards the poor.”
He resided at Bargy Castle, and when the insurgents took the field in May 1798, in the north of the county, Harvey, with his friends Colclough and FitzGerald, was immediately imprisoned in Wexford on suspicion. After the defeat of the royalists at the Three Rocks, Wexford was evacuated by the small garrison that remained, and the prisoners were on 30th May released by the inhabitants, who implored Harvey to intercede with the insurgents for the safety of the town. This he did, and upon its being occupied by the insurgents he was appointed Commander-in-chief…’ (from here.)
Farewell to Bargy’s lofty towers, my father’s own estate
And farewell to its lovely bowers, my own ancestral seat
Farewell each friend and neighbour, that once I well knew there
My tenants now will miss the hand that fostered them with care.
Farewell to Cornelius Grogan, and to Kelly ever true
John Coakley and good Father Roche, receive my last adieu
And fare-thee-well bold Esmond Kyan, though proud oppression’s laws
Forbid us to lay down our lives, still we bless the holy cause.
Farewell my brave United men, who dearly with me fought
Though tyrant might has conquered right, full dearly was it bought
And when the sun of freedom shall again upon you shine
Oh, then let Bagenal Harvey’s name array your battle line.
Although perchance it may be my fate, in Wexford town to die
Oh, bear my body to the tomb wherin my fathers lie
And have the solemn service read, in Mayglass holy towers
And have twelve young maids from Bargyside, to scatter my grave with flowers.
So farewell to Bargy’s lofty towers, since from you I must part
A stranger now may call you his, which with sorrow fills my heart
But when at last fate shall decree that Ireland should be free
Then Bagenal Harvey’s rightful heirs shall be returned to thee.
Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey 1762 – 1798.
Thanks for reading, Sharon.