ON THIS DATE (2ND MAY) 224 YEARS AGO : PRISON ESCAPE BY AN IRISH REPUBLICAN, WHO LIVED FOR HIS COUNTRY, AND DIED FOR HIS FAMILY.
‘Little about Archibald Hamilton Rowan’s beginning in life suggested that he would become a leading political revolutionary…conceived in Killyleagh Castle in Co Down, he was born in 1751 and grew up in England surrounded by wealth and privilege…he lived a charmed and adventurous life, travelling in Europe and America, and lived for a time in France. He could be reckless at times, lost a lot of money at the gaming table, became involved in duels, and ‘had scrapes with married women’. He came under the influence of the celebrated radical John Jebb, who held that no man should suffer persecution for his religious and political opinions and that the people have a right to resist tyrannical forms of government.
Rowan married Sarah Dawson in France in 1781, and thereby gained the lifelong love of a steadfast comrade. On his return to Ireland in 1784, he fought an unforgiving ruling class in the pursuit of justice for the poor. He championed the cause of Mary Neal, a child who was raped by the Earl of Carhampton, and denounced the military for the shooting dead of tradesmen in Dublin who were engaged in bull-baiting (…for which, in my opinion, the [British] military should have been commended, not condemned).
In 1794 Rowan landed on the French coast in the run-up to the naval slaughter that became known to history as the ‘Glorious First of June’. Such was the tense disposition of the French forces at this time that he was immediately imprisoned as a suspected English spy. From his cell window he watched many men with their hands pinioned carted to the guillotine. At the height of the Terror he was fortunate to escape the guillotine himself. Within days of his release his boots were stained with the blood of revolutionaries guillotined by their erstwhile comrades.
Rowan was a founder of the United Irish Society, and was imprisoned, this time in Newgate Prison (pictured, in the Cornmarket area of Christ Church, in Dublin). When he was implicated in a plot initiated by the Committee of Public Safety in Paris to bring a French revolutionary army into Ireland, Rowan successfully escaped from the prison (‘1169’ comment – he paid a prison officer £100 to allow him out of prison to visit his wife (and sign some paperwork) in near-by Dominick Street and, on the 2nd May 1794 – 224 years ago on this date – escaped from custody by jumping out a back window of his house and then laid low for about three days in the Lusk area of Dublin). Had he not escaped he would almost certainly have been hanged. He sailed to Roscoff in a small fishing craft, enduring 11 years of hardship as a political exile in France, America and Germany. Fortunately for Rowan, his wife, Sarah, successfully secured his pardon, and he returned to Ireland in 1806. Without Sarah’s tenacity, Rowan would almost certainly never have set foot in Ireland again…’ (from here.)
He maintained his quest to free Ireland and continued his fight for justice for the working class but lost heart somewhat when his wife died, in her seventieth year, in late February 1834 ; they were married for 53 years, and were a ‘team’. His sorrow was compounded in August that same year when his son, Gawin William, 51 years of age, died, and the poor man never recovered from the pain those deaths caused him : he died, aged 83, on the 1st November that same year, and was buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, on the corner of Mary Street and Jervis Street, in Dublin :
“My dear children,
Whilst (in residence) at Wilminoton on the Delaware, in the United States of North America, not expecting to return to Europe, and unwilling to solicit my family to rejoin me there, I was anxious to leave you some memorial of a parent whom in all probability you would never know personally. Under that impression I commenced the following details, uninteresting except to you, who have requested me to transcribe them, that each of you
should have a copy.
It was not at that time, nor is it now my intention to vindicate the act which occasioned (my) then exiled situation ; though I felt a strong self-justification, in the consciousness that if I had erred, it had been in common with some of the most virtuous and patriotic characters then in Ireland…”(from here.)
One of our less sung heroes, without a doubt.
”SINN FÉIN IS EVERYTHING ITS NAME IMPLIES – GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE….!’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, October 1954.
The role of a civil organisation like Sinn Féin in time of war is a most important one. Again we have the lessons of the past to guide us. Sinn Féin provided the means of organising the whole civillan population against the outrageous decrees of the British military government.
We have the classic example of how the Castle banned all assemblies for Gaelic games and how, through its vast organisation of over 1,600 cumainn, Sinn Féin could arrange that at a certain hour on a certain day there would be a hurling or football match in almost every parish and townland in Ireland – the matches were played and the Castle was vanquished!
The potential value of such an organisation in promoting civil disobedience is enormous, and for final victory the people must ignore the foreign institutions and support the native ones. (Next – ‘UNDOING THE CONQUEST’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (2ND MAY) 61 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF A REBEL PRIEST.
‘While many clerics have supported the armed struggle of the IRA since 1916, the Capuchin Friars have been particularly noted for their republicanism. One such Capuchin was Fr Aloysius Roche, the son of an Irish father and English mother, born in Scotland in 1886. He studied for the priesthood and, following his ordination, he was transferred to Dublin where he was attached to the Capuchin Order in Church Street.
During Easter Week 1916, Fr Aloysius along with Frs Albert, Augustine and Dominic brought spiritual aid to the Volunteers in the numerous garrisons and outposts throughout Dublin. Following Pádraig Pearse’s surrender on Saturday, 29 April 1916, Fr Aloysius spent the next day carrying the surrender order to the main garrisons on the south side of the city. In the early hours of the morning of 3 May, Fr Aloysius administered the last sacraments to Pearse, MacDonagh and Thomas Clarke, the first three leaders of the Rising to be executed.
On 7 May, he met John Dillon, a leading member of the Irish Parliamentary Party, who agreed to do all in his power to persuade the British government to stop the executions. And it was largely due to his efforts that Dillon, five days later, during a debate on the rising in the House of Commons, launched a blistering attack on the British government’s handling of the situation in Ireland. Earlier that day, Fr Aloysius accompanied James Connolly by ambulance from Dublin Castle to Kilmainham Gaol for execution and stood behind the firing squad as they fired the final volley.
During the Tan and Civil Wars he was an enthusiastic and practical supporter of the national struggle and continued his republican allegiance throughout the following decades…’ (from here.)
Incidentally, the ‘Fr Dominic’ mentioned, above, was Fr Dominic O’Connor (Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, pictured, being led away by Free Staters from ‘the battle of the Four Courts’, in 1922) – it is recorded that the then ‘President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State [aka ‘Taoiseach’]’, WT Cosgrave, did not agree with the political outlook voiced by the Capuchins and he wrote to the Archbishop, Edward J Byrne, to voice his objections and, in one such letter, actually accused Fr Dominic of “treasonous acts”!
Fr Dominic was, at the time, the chaplain to the local IRA Cork Brigade, and is on record for a reply he gave to the church hierarchy in relation to their anti-republican/pro-British sermons : “Kidnapping, ambushing, and killing obviously would be grave sins or violation of Canon Law. And if these acts were being performed by the Irish Volunteers as private persons, they would fall under excommunication. But they are doing them with the authority of the Republic of Ireland. Hence the acts performed by the Volunteers are not only not sinful, but are good and meritorious…therefore the excommunication does not affect us. There is no need to worry about it. There is no necessity for telling a priest in confession that you went to Mass on Sunday, so there is no necessity to tell him one is in the IRA, or that one took part in an ambush or killing etc”.
In another letter of complaint he sent, Cosgrave referred to a different priest, a Fr John Costello, and complained to the Archbishop that that priest had made it his business to approach Free State troops, in 1922, and called on them to lay down their arms ; when they declined to do so, he would call them “murdering green Black and Tans”! As ‘Lord Cosgrave’ probably said, in private – “It rings in my ears as kind of what miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord and president be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric? Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”(!)
“TO EVERY GENERATION ITS DEED…”
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, February 1955.
SINN FÉIN NOTES.
The Sinn Féin ‘Social and Economic Programme’ and the ‘National Unity and Independence Programme’ is a must have for every Irish man and woman. Copies can be had from the Secretaries, 3 Lower Abbey Street, Dublin, price 9d, including postage.
Richard O’Sullivan QC, Crown Prosecutor at the trial of Barnes and McCormack in 1939 lectured to a Dublin audience recently at the request of the St Vincent de Paul Society. A letter (quoted below) was sent by the Ard Comairle of Sinn Féin to the Society and an unsigned answer (also below) was received. It was agreed by the Ard Comairle that Sinn Féin would neither picket the hall nor interfere at the lecture but, in passing, we say ‘Lord have mercy on the souls of these two, and help us to carry on their work.’
(From) Sinn Féin,
Oifig an Ard Runaidhe,
3 Lower Abbey Street,
(To) The Secretary,
St Vincent de Paul,
64 Grafton Street,
We have been informed that Mr Richard O’Sullivan QC has been invited by your Society to lecture in the Aberdeen Hall on Sunday 9th January, 1955.
We understand that this Mr O’Sullivan was the Crown Prosecutor when Barnes and McCormack were sentenced to death in Birmingham in 1939. You will appreciate that if this is the same person, there will be a large number of people in Dublin who will object very strongly to his public appearance on any platform in Ireland. We trust that this matter will receive your urgent attention.
Is mise le meas,
Maire Ni Gabann,
(From) The Society of St Vincent de Paul (Particular Council of Ireland),
64 Grafton Street,
Dublin C 2.
5th January 1955.
The Society has received a communication, of which a copy is attached, upon your notepaper.
The basis of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, it should be explained, is entirely spiritual and the lecture referred to, which has been advertised for a considerable while back, is being promoted by one of the Dublin Conferences in order to foster devotion to a Saint and at the same time to raise funds, which are sorely needed indeed, for the activities of the Conference among the poor.
Any objection to the forthcoming function would inevitably cut across the charitable work of the Conference and of the Society and it is confidently believed that nobody would contemplate this, in the foregoing circumstances and particularly having regard to the religious nature of the occasion.
(From Sinn Féin) Letter to British Home Secretary.
The Home Secretary,
We have been instructed to inform you that at our recent Ard Fheis it was unanimously decided that we demand, in the name of the republican people of Ireland, the return by the English Government of the remains of the Irish republican patriots interred in English jails.
Secretaries. (Next – ‘THE FELONS OF OUR LAND’, from the same source).
WHY WE’RE VOTING ‘NO’ IN THE ABORTION REFERENDUM.
“Violence is not a solution..” – a remark constantly put to republicans in relation to the on-going campaign against the British political and military presence in this country (…with no acknowledgement that ‘violence’ employed in self-defence is completely different to the violence of an aggressor). Abortion is a violent act which is not done in self-defence and, with the safe-guards which are available today, it’s an unnecessary act, but the State and the many ‘social agencies’ (‘quangos’) it establishes and promotes (mostly to provide ‘jobs-for-the-boys’ for themselves and their political colleagues) have not lectured those in favour of abortion about ‘violence not being a solution’.
And their is more than one type of ‘violence’ : the ‘State Claims Agency’ (‘SCA’) is a State body with the given agenda of defending the politicians against the damage caused by their own incompetence and carelessness, and of that there can be no doubt : “..to ensure that the State’s liabilities in relation to personal injury and property damage claims, and the expenses of the SCA in relation to their management, are contained at the lowest achievable level (and) to reduce the costs of future litigation against the State…“ – nothing there about fair play or taking responsibility for medical or other errors made by the State. It’s a political body, assembled, financed and nurtured by the same politicians that want you to ‘trust’ them in regards to the most vulnerable section of this society – our children not yet born.
This is how the ‘Establishment’ in this State deal with those who are ‘uppity enough’ to challenge them after falling victim to the incompetent ‘health service’ that those in Leinster House oversee and operate ‘on behalf of the public’, all funded with taxpayers money, here’s how they used to look after women (..here’s how they do it today) and this is an example of how they ‘support’ children. If you believe that those professional politicians are trustworthy and honest enough to have the best interests of mother and child at heart then vote ‘Yes’ on Friday, 25th May 2018 but if, like us, you have your doubts (to put it mildly), then vote ‘No’. Your children will thank you for it in later years. Literally.
GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…
SIN SCÉAL EILE.
By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.
DID WE WIN?
The ten minutes allocated to the ‘Shinners’ for their argument wasn’t needed – they mentioned the names Theobald Wolfe Tone and Padraig Pearse and one and one-half minutes after they started they were finished. They received a massive partisan round of applause, of course.
The ‘SDLP team’ then did their thing : they came across as all things to all men and were more concerned about what loyalists would do as opposed to what we could do and should do. To be honest, they didn’t put much into it and made very little impact on the debate, whereas the ‘Republican Clubs’ immediately went on the attack with a blistering dialectic on the failure of capitalism and the benefits of the Workers State (all very well if you’re a Stalinist) but too far removed from Marx (unless of course they were referring to Groucho) to be relevant.
The image of the not so emaciated down-trodden worker, free of his fetters, striding barrel-chestedly through the factory gates with a sledgehammer in his hand to smash the means of his exploitation, his shirt opened to the navel, sleeves rolled up to his neck, revealing a chest and arms that Sylvester Stallone could only dream about, and singing the ‘Volga Boat Song’, as with Stalinism, completely fooled the not very politically aware in the audience. (MORE LATER).
Thanks for reading, Sharon.