ON THIS DATE (29TH JANUARY) 226 YEARS AGO : UNSUNG HERO CHARGED WITH DISTRIBUTING “A SEDITIOUS PAPER”.
Archibald Hamilton Rowan (pictured), a United Irishman, was ‘tried’ on a charge of distributing ‘a seditious paper’ ; on the 16th December, 1792, Rowan (and Napper Tandy, among others) were present at a political meeting/protest in Dublin at which pamphlets entitled ‘Citizen Soldiers, To Arms!’ were distributed (…but, incidentally, Rowan himself wasn’t distributing them, nor was he the author of the pamphlet). Rowan was brought to ‘trial’ on the 29th January 1794 – 226 years ago, on this date – at the old Four Courts, near Christ Church, Dublin, for this ‘offence’ and was sentenced to be fined £500, imprisoned for two years, and to “find security for his good behaviour”.
‘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 our 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, 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, he 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.
‘A SACRED TRUST…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, December 1954.
What of their families and dependents? What is to become of them? What if it be our turn tomorrow?
There is only one answer to these questions, and it rests with you and I ; these people are a sacred trust to the Irish people, and a generous people will not be unmindful of the depth of the sacrifices being made for them. We are not appealing for aims, for it would be unworthy of those gallant men (…and women) that their dependents should have to beg their bread. It is a duty on each one of us to ensure that none of these are in want because the breadwinner is imprisoned by the foreigner.
As the struggle develops many more will be imprisoned or may fall in battle, and the strain on our resources will be heavy. But we must shoulder the burden if we are determined to carry the day. Money, unfortunately, is a dire necessity in the National Movement, as it is in every other undertaking. In time of war it is even more urgent ; money for guns and ammunition, money for food and clothing, money for publicity and administration, money for the alleviation of distress.
Yes, once again, we are appealing for funds, for ours is the Army of the Irish people, and must be sustained by them. Appeals were never made in vain in the past and we know that this appeal shall not be in vain… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (29TH JANUARY) 38 YEARS AGO : LOYALIST DEVIANT SHOT DEAD IN BELFAST.
John Dunlop McKeague (pictured), who had been a prominent Loyalist activist, and an ‘activist’ in other areas, too, was shot dead by the ‘Irish National Liberation Army’ (INLA) in his shop on the Albertbridge Road, Belfast, on the 29th January, 1982 – 38 years ago on this date. That he survived as long as he did is testament to his colleagues in the War Office in Westminster, who only ‘threw him to the wolves’ when they feared he was about to do the same to them.
‘Loyalists have harboured within their ranks some of the most notorious deviants in Northern Ireland’s (sic) history. These include John McKeague, who led the Red Hand Commando terror group for a short time in the early Seventies. British military intelligence was aware of McKeague’s taste for young boys and used it to blackmail him into becoming an informer…he was aware through his links with other loyalist paedophiles, particularly the Orangeman William McGrath, of the child abuse going on at Kincora’s boys’ home in east Belfast.
In 1982 McKeague was about to go public about the role of British intelligence in blackmailing paedophiles like McGrath, Kincora’s housemaster, when he was shot dead by the INLA…when McGrath’s regime of abuse became public, he was allowed to retire to the outskirts of loyalist east Belfast. None of the loyalist paramilitary groups took any action against him…’ (from here.)
‘In a British intelligence document called ‘Folio 4782/9/76 LB’, McKeague was supposedly the mastermind of the Protestant Unionist plot to launch a coup d’état in Northern Ireland (sic). A key aide of Paisley was being blackmailed over personal problems which caused him to be depressed causing his wife to have a nervous breakdown…using Paisley’s aide there was active recruitment to a new loyalist paramilitary force among former members of the B Specials. Rather than being under DUP authority the group would be under the control of McKeague himself. The DUP aide met with the UDA who were also to take part in the coup and the meeting was tape recorded secretly so to blackmail the DUP if they contemplated pulling out. At the time Paisley and the DUP were organizing a strike with other unionists and loyalists under the ‘United Unionist Action Council’ umbrella.
McKeague was good friends with William McGrath who was a fellow rapist and sex abuser of young boys at Kincora. McGrath, a preacher who once accompanied Paisley to meet Chichester Clark in 1969 to form a ‘People’s Militia’, was the founder of Tara, a bizarre group of British Israelites who recruited many young loyalists who believed in an Armageddon uprising by the Catholic population…’ (from here.)
The Westminster ‘establishment’ and its political camp followers, including its ‘royal family’, in England and elsewhere, is overflowing with perverts and misfits who use insider knowledge against one another for political advantage ; in Ireland, and its other colonies, the British political ‘top table’ use such information to organise ‘murder gangs’ to carry-out politically-based killings. John McKeague, an evil individual, was ‘encouraged’ in that manner and was protected by Westminster until he became too hot to handle. His ‘licence’ was withdrawn on the 29th January, 1982 – 38 years ago, on this date.
‘WOMEN AIDING WOMEN.’
From ‘USI News’ magazine, February 1989.
On January 25th last (1989), the workers in the Dublin Women’s Refuge went on strike. Claire Casey looks at the reason why and the implications involved for all women :
At the time of going to press there is a very serious situation prevailing in a Dublin Women’s Aid Refuge. The workers in the refuge served maximum strike notice on the management which expired without settlement on January 25th (1989) ; the workers are now on strike. ‘Women’s Aid’ is an organisation which provides refuges all around the country for victims of domestic violence and their children. These refuges are run by women and are in very heavy demand and any disruption of the invaluable service they provide must be a grave cause for concern.
This is the type of issue that risks being oversimplified – there is a lot at stake and it is important to bring to light some of the facts of the situation. The immediate and glaring reason that the workers at the refuge have given for the strike is the dismissal of the refuge co-ordinator, Wenda Edwards, who has worked at the refuge for 14 years. Her co-workers believe her to be eminently competent in her job ; the management committee who fired her say that two former residents of the refuge had made complaints about her. This committee is made up of 9 women out of a maximum of 12, and it hasn’t held an AGM of the organisation in over 20 months. It has blocked committee membership for two ex-residents of the refuge on the grounds that one woman would need good “social contacts” and the other would have to commit herself to raising £40,000 to £50,000 per year – this from a committee which does not raise any funds… (MORE LATER.)
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.
Thou are not conquered yet, dear land, thou are not conquered yet ;
on this I stake my very soul,
on this my life I bet.
The sacred blood that flowed today
on Omagh’s virgin plain
from Heaven fell to sanctify
the ancient cause again.
The British lion is rampant now
and loudly grow his roars,
while lurking ‘mid the Ulster hills
he licks his latest sores ;
His savage claws are raised again
in wounded pride and hate,
and only streams of Irish blood
his hellish thirst can sate.
Oh Ireland, take them to your heart –
those men who love you best,
who’ve grappled with the Saxon crew
in freedom’s endless quest ;
let traitorous knaves and cringing slaves
go whimpering on their way,
but let the free hail liberty – with them, the IRA. (By M. Ó Cinnéide.)
(END of ‘Omagh’ : Next – ‘IRA Prisoners Remanded. Elaborate Security Precautions By Northern ‘Police’ ‘. From the same source.)
Thanks for reading, Sharon.