An edited version of this speech was published in ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper in October 1954. This is the speech in full ; on the 13th March, 1920, Terence MacSwiney (pictured) was unanimously elected as the ‘Lord Mayor of Cork’ by that city’s Corporation. He donated his salary for the position to an outside organisation and received no salary for the other position he held at that time – Brigadier of the No. 1 Brigade, Cork IRA.

“Gentlemen, you have paid tribute to him on all sides. It will be my duty and steady purpose to follow that line as faithfully as in my power, though no man in this Council could hope to discharge its functions with his ability and his perfect grasp of public business in all its details and as one harmonious whole.

I have thought it necessary to touch on this normal duty of ours, though — and it may seem strange to say it — I feel at the moment it is even a digression. For the menace of our enemies hangs over us, and the essential immediate purpose is to show the spirit that animates us, and how we face the future. Our spirit is but to be a more lively manifestation of the spirit in which we began the year — to work for the city in a new zeal, inspired by our initial act when we dedicated it and formally attested our allegiance, to bring by our administration of the city, glory to our allegiance, and by working for our city’s advancement with constancy in all honourable ways, in her new dignity as one of the first cities in Ireland to work for and if need be to die for.

I would recall some words of mine on that day of our first meeting after the election of Lord Mayor. I realised that most of you in the minority here would be loyal to us, if doing so did not threaten your lives ; but that you lacked the spirit and the hope to join with us to complete the work of liberation so well begun. I allude to it here again, because I wish to point out again the secret of our strength and the assurance of our final victory. This contest of ours is not on our side a rivalry of vengeance, but one of endurance — it is not they who can inflict most but they who can suffer most will conquer — though we do not abrogate our function to demand and see that evil doers and murderers are punished for their crimes…” (MORE LATER).


After a peaceful Civil Rights march on January 30th, 1972 – from Creggan to Free Derry Corner – units of the British army Parachute Regiment opened fire with automatic rifles and shot dead 13 unarmed civilians, injuring many more. It was later revealed that some days prior to the massacre, the British soldiers involved had been briefed to “..shoot to kill..” at the march.

“This Sunday became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’ and bloody it was. It was quite unnecessary. It strikes me that the (British) army ran amok that day and shot without thinking of what they were doing. They were shooting innocent people. They may have been taking part in a parade which was banned, but that did not justify the troops coming in and firing live rounds indiscriminately. I would say without reservations that it was sheer unadulterated murder. It was murder, gentlemen” – the words of British Major Hubert O’Neill, Derry City Coroner, at the conclusion of the inquests on the 13 people killed by the British Army on that day.
On Saturday January 26th next, a picket to mark the anniversary of that massacre will be held at the GPO in Dublin, from 12.45pm to 1.45pm. All welcome!


‘Arthur Guinness disapproved of the United Irishmen’s Rebellion of 1798. Because of this, the new brew became known as ‘Guinness’s black Protestant porter’. Catholics and nationalists boycotted the drink for a time, but far from damaging his trade, Guinness used the opportunity to set up a lucrative export trade with England…’ (from here.)

I don’t drink the stuff meself (..much more refined than that, so I am..!) but that drink, and the family associated with it – Guinness – have an ‘interesting’ history. Henry Grattan (to whom the Guinness family were related, through marriage) and Arthur were both vocal critics of the then taxation system which imposed tariffs on, among other goods, beer and, while both men were ‘sympathetic’ towards the suffering of the Irish, both were prepared to accept and, indeed, campaigned for, less than complete Irish freedom from the British ‘crown’. Arthur was not only against full independence for Ireland but was politically opposed to those who were to the extent that, in republican circles, he was considered to be an informer, collecting and passing information to ‘crown’ agents – the ‘Union Star’ newspaper described him as “..a brewer at James’s Gate, an active spy. United Irishmen will be cautious of dealing with any publican who sells his drink…”

Arthur is on record for being ‘directly opposed to any movement toward Irish independence (and wanting) Ireland to remain under English control’, to which end one of his family members, ‘Lord’ Iveagh, donated £10,000 to the UVF arms fund in 1913. As employers, they were decent enough to most of their employees – ‘While they maintained their reputation as good employers and philanthropists, their unionist politics left them out on a limb in independent Ireland (sic) , although they quickly adjusted to doing business with the new Free State. In many respects they were the ultimate business pragmatists: the union was important to them because so much of their stout was sold in Britain and the empire. When a trade war threatened in the 1930s they finally activated plans that had been drawn up when Home Rule looked likely before the first World War and moved their headquarters to England…’ (from here.)

‘In the run-up to the Easter Rising, members of the Irish Volunteers who worked in Guinness’ were discouraged from openly parading. Frank Henderson, a captain in the Irish Volunteers who took part in the Howth Gun Running and the Easter Rising, said Guinness’ staff were wary that they may be victimised in their workplace…the company took a hard line with anybody displaying any form of support for Irish republicanism or nationalism. Following the 1916 Rising, Guinness was one of a number of companies that dismissed its staff suspected of involvement in the rebellion or sympathetic to those who took part. During the fighting in 1916, trucks used by Guinness’ were converted into improvised armoured fighting vehicles by the British Army and used against republican forces. One such Guinness truck used by the British was made by bolting four boilers onto the rear of a Guinness flatbed truck. These were believed to have been the first armoured cars used in Ireland. There are conflicting reports over whether these vehicles were commandeered by the British Army or donated to them by Guinness & Co…’ (..more here.)

In the 1980’s, one of the management team in the company, Edward Guinness, referenced the conflicts in the occupied six counties of Ireland and in the Malvinas and spoke about how he didn’t agree with the attitude from Leinster House in regards to not (publicly) supporting Westminster in its ‘endeavours’ in those two areas of conflict (see text graphic, above), opining aloud that he was “..no longer sure the association with Ireland was helpful..” and stating that it may be opportune to “..emphasise facts such as that Guinness was an English company..”

It is indeed “an English company” ; in 1997, that company further integrated itself into its ‘English (business) Empire’ when it and the ‘Grand Metropolitan’ company merged to form ‘Diageo’. Guinness could have been better to the Irish, just as the Irish were good for Guinness. But I’ll stick to my cider, anyway, as I raise a pint to Arthur Guinness, who died on this date – 23rd January – in 1803.

Up ya Boy, ya – and here’s to the Wild Rover…!

‘SAVINGS LAW SHOULD BE CHANGED’ : a letter sent to ‘The Irish Times’ newspaper by a Dr. Lucey.

From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, February 1955.

“I urge most strongly that the law governing savings be changed so that the local community may be allowed to benefit by the thrift of its own members” said the most Rev Dr Lucey, Bishop of Cork, when presiding at the annual meeting of the ‘Cork Savings Bank’ in Cork recently.

Dr Lucey said that the ‘Cork Savings Bank’ and the ‘Post Office Savings Bank’ were bound by law to deposit all their income with the Minister for Finance, and much of it was invested in British Government Securities in London. According to his latest report, of July 16th last year, no less than £27,000,000 of Irish savings was so invested. The rest, he said, was used at home, some being in our own State, and municipal loans.

“Dublin, incidentally, has £4,750,000 of it compared with a mere £240,000 to Cork, and the rest – roughly £30,000,000 – used as advances to the Exchequer etc. In a word, our savings are either exported to England, lent out by the State at, perhaps, 5%, to local authorities or used to finance State expenditure..” (MORE LATER).


From ‘Magill’ magazine, February 1998.

There is a further reason why the men and women of the Garda Síochana ought to be properly paid – they ought not be driven out of necessity into double-jobbing. It is difficult to know how widespread the phenomenon is – there are no figures available – and it is hard to divine how much is due to gardaí being unable to raise their families on basic pay and how much is due to good old-fashioned greed. Some of it is quite harmless and nobody’s business, but some of it seems to regard the day job as a distraction.

Where large-scale entrepreneurial talent is constrained in a garda uniform, should it not, as a matter of policy, be released into the private sector? What is the policy on the matter? For example, why should a garda moonlighting a couple of nights a week as a ‘bouncer’ be subjected to severe disciplinary action while another member of the force can, with impunity, devote himself to the business of his (sic) choice?

I turned eagerly to the recently published ‘Report of the Steering Group on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of the Garda Síochana’ for guidance on this and other questions. In other words – quis custodies custodiet? To my surprise , the question seems not to have been addressed. How is it possible to examine the ‘efficiency and effectiveness of the Garda Síochana’ and not address such a question? Or is it that the subject was discussed but no conclusions are reflected in the published report? No amount of ‘Irish Times’ reports or expansive pieces by ‘security correspondents’ on the ‘comprehensive’ nature of the report can reassure me on this point… (MORE LATER).


“Only four per cent of the 450,000 pupils attending primary schools could get secondary education, while only eight per cent of secondary students could afford to go to a university..” – so said Dr Noel Browne, on the 23rd January 1955.

In February 1955, ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper quoted the above comment and (rightly) described it as “..a damning indictment of not merely Leinster House policy, but nineteen years of Fianna Fáil supremacy in that House..”, and informed its readers that Dr Noel Browne was a Fianna Fáil Executive member who joined that party in 1953 but lost his Leinster House seat in the 1954 state election and was later expelled from that political party. Since then, however, not only have Fianna Fáil and their colleagues in Leinster House not fixed the education system in this State, but they have ‘dumbed down’ the health service to match it. Maybe in the hope/belief that if you leave school ‘under-educated’, you won’t notice the shambles that the health service, and every other ‘service’ in this corrupt State, is in.


‘Our domestic news is first the death of Lord Sydney occasioned by a dose of Danish poison. His lordship to render himself agreeable to his lady upon their marriage stopped two issues he had in his thighs but found no ill effects until the 13th inst. when, after a night of great exercise by dancing, his temper and reason as appears since, was in some sort affected ; however, not so much as to make those about him immediately suspect it or the consequence. He complained of indisposition and sent for a physician. He republished his will leaving his estate to Capt. Cosby of the Navy and added a codicil leaving the jewels he bought for his wife (whom in his delirium he was jealous of) and the family china to his sister Lady Farnham, after which being disappointed in an attempt to shoot himself and one to poison himself, he took on (this date) the dose which was sufficiently strong to carry him off in a few hours..’ – from a newspaper report of the time.

Dudley Cosby [pictured] (‘Baron Sydney’), an MP for Carrick, was born in that part of Donegal in 1730 into a well-to-do family and, as expected, was groomed for, and accepted, a ‘diplomatic’ lifestyle – at 33 years of age he took a position in the ‘Irish House of Commons’ as a political representative and was, that same year, appointed by his political peers as a ‘Minister Resident’ to Denmark. He was elected to the Irish House of Commons as one of two representatives for Carrick in 1763 (a seat he held until 1768). That same year (1763) he was also appointed ‘Minister Resident to Denmark’, where he was to assist the aged ‘Envoy Extraordinary‘, Walter Titley. He arrived in Copenhagen in February 1764, but returned to Britain already the following year. In 1768 he was elevated to the Peerage of Ireland as Lord Sydney, of Leix, Baron Stradbally and, like many English ‘diplomats’ in Ireland, he came from a ‘troubled’ family and was himself actually described as insane in diplomatic correspondence from the time!

At least one of his relatives, Francis, was known to be a thug who repeatedly murdered and abused the native Irish to enforce his writ and publicly robbed, cheated and blackmailed anyone who could improve his financial position – “…he was a law unto himself who terrorised and butchered the native Irish. He acted in his own best financial interests, and when he wasn’t just plain killing people he was swindling, blackmailing and double-crossing them (and) proved himself a prolific slayer of the Irish in the battles around the Pale..he was given the previous Franciscan religious house in Stradbally by Queen Elizabeth I in 1562, as a reward for his enthusiastic suppression of the natives…his entry in the ‘Royal Irish Academy’s Dictionary of Irish Biography’ describes him as living a life of cruelty, deception and extreme violence…he set to work on his main local rival, the Laois Gaelic chief Ruairí Óg Ó Mórdha and they began their ill-fated relationship by running lucrative protection rackets together (but) they fell out when Cosby’s brother-in-law executed two of Ó Mórdha’s cousins.

In retaliation Ó Mórdha kidnapped Cosby’s son, Alexander (and) a peace summit was called in Mullamast, in Co Kildare. But when 70 or so of Ó Mórdha’s men turned up, Cosby’s forces killed them, in an event that became known as the ‘Massacre of Mullaghmast’. In 1580, Cosby was on a campaign against Irish rebel forces in Wicklow, an encounter that became known as the ‘Battle of Glenmalure’. It is believed that Cosby was killed by his own men during the battle..” (From here.)

Anyway – the (other!) insane family member, Dudley, who was born in 1730, died at forty-four years of age in 1774 on, according to various sources, either the 22nd or 23rd January. And Francis probably had something to do with that as well..!


‘The United Irish League was launched in January 1898 (and) by early 1900 it had spread across most of Ireland, and was to have major implications for the future course of Irish nationalism. Its methods were partly a consequence of a cumulative experience from the past, focused particularly on its immediate predecessors, the Land League of 1879–82, the subsequent Irish National League, and the Plan of Campaign in the latter half of the 1880s. Its political and agrarian purposes were to an unusual degree clearly articulated, thereby enabling a more precise analysis of the way in which particular methods of protest were related to objectives..’ (from here.)

‘Its principal architect was William O’Brien, a member of Parnell’s Parliamentary Party in the 1880’s and of the anti-Parnellite majority faction after 1891. After withdrawing from his parliamentary seat in 1895, O’Brien worked locally in west Mayo in facilitating and influencing the development of a new agrarian agitation focused on the plight of evicted tenants, on hostility to “land grabbers,” and against the graziers occupying land that would otherwise have been available for tillage farming. With the help of others, especially the Parnellite MP T. C. Harrington and the veteran founder of the Land League, Michael Davitt, O’Brien directed his energies toward “a great accumulation of national strength”.

‘The organization that resulted, the United Irish League, had three interconnected objectives. The first, and most incidental, of these was to capture an initiative on the celebrations of the centenary of the 1798 United Irishmen’s rebellions, then at risk of passing to the advocates of physical force (‘1169’ comment – surely, as that 1798 rising was an action of ‘physical force’, those who supported that action could better ‘lay claim’ to it than those who were opposed to such an activity?) . The second objective was to infuse into national politics an enthusiasm that, “drawing an irresistible strength and reality from the conditions in the west,” would make impossible continuation of dissension and factionalism between Parnellites and anti-Parnellites. And the third, most tangible and practical objective, was to secure from Parliament a measure enabling tenant farmers to acquire ownership of their land..’ (from here.)

William O’Brien was born at Bank Place in Mallow, County Cork, in 1852 ; he died, aged 76, in 1928. He was an Irish nationalist, journalist, agrarian agitator, social revolutionary, politician, party leader, newspaper publisher, author and Member of Parliament (MP) in the ‘House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland’, and was particularly associated with the campaigns for land reform in Ireland during the late 19th and early 20th centuries – more here. Due to policy disagreements and splits, the ‘UIL’ was mostly active in the Ulster area in its latter years and had disappeared altogether by the mid-1920’s.

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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