BORN ON THIS DATE (4TH MARCH) THE SAME DATE THAT HE DIED, AND NAMED AFTER AN IRISH HERO WHO WAS BORN ON THAT SAME DATE 120 YEARS BEFORE HIM!
Emmet Dalton (pictured, on the right, with Michael Collins), Irish rebel-turned-Free Stater, 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, and whose Cause he belittled – Robert Emmet.
Dalton was educated at the O’Connell School in Drumcondra, Dublin, and as a young adult became interested in the political teachings of John Redmond, so much so that he joined the British Army, serving as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 7th Battalion of the Dublin Fusiliers. He would have been present at the Somme in September 1916 when over 4,000 Irish soldiers died (including his friend, Tom Kettle) and, indeed, won a ‘Military Cross’ for ‘..leading forward to their final objective companies which had lost their officers. Later, whilst consolidating his position, he found himself with one sergeant, confronted by 21 of the enemy, including an officer, who surrendered when he attacked them..’. He further served the British ‘war effort’ in Palestine, where he trained a sniper patrol and also served as a British Army staff officer in France.
He was demobilised,in Germany, in 1919, at the age of 21, and returned to Dublin, becoming the ‘Director of Training’ for the Irish Republican Army, but he 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, and also led the Free State attack on the Four Courts in Dublin on the 28th June 1922.
Dalton 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 (his brother, Charlie, stayed on and made an equally bad name for himself), 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. Rumours persist that Dalton himself shot Collins dead, as per instructions from Westminster…?
ON THIS DATE (4TH MARCH) 242 YEARS AGO : ‘DARLING OF ERIN’ BORN.
Robert Emmet was born on the 4th March, 1778, a son of Dr Robert Emmet and Elizabeth Mason. His father served as state physician to the vice-regal household but was a social reformer who believed that in order to achieve the emancipation of the Irish people it was first necessary to break the link with England. Robert Emmet (Jnr) was baptised on March 10th in St Peter’s Church of Ireland in Aungier Street, Dublin, and attended Oswald’s School in Dropping Court, off Golden Lane, Dublin. From there he went to Samuel Whytes School in Grafton Street, quite near his home, and later to the school of the Reverend Mr Lewis in Camden Street. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, in October 1793 at the age of fifteen and a half where he practiced his oratorical skills in the Historical and Debating Societies. One of his friends at TCD was the poet Thomas Moore.
There were four branches of the ‘United Irishmen’ in TCD and Robert Emmet was secretary of one of them but, after an inquisition, presided over by Lord Chancellor Fitzgibbon, Emmet became one of nineteen students who were expelled for United Irishmen activity. Although not active in the 1798 Rising, Robert Emmet was well known to the British authorities and by April 1799, when Habeas Corpus had been suspended, there was a warrant issued for his arrest, which he managed to evade and, early in 1801, accompanied by a Mr Malachy Delany of Cork, he travelled throughout Europe, and made Paris his headquarters – it was there that he replaced Edward Lewis as the liaison officer between Irish and French Republicans.
While in Paris, Emmet learned about rockets and weapons, and studied a two-volume treatise by a Colonel Tempelhoff which can be examined in the Royal Irish Academy, with the marginal notes given the reader some insight into Emmet’s thinking. Following the signing of the ‘Peace of Amiens’ by France and England in March 1802 the United Irishmen that were being held as prisoners in Fort George were released and many such as Thomas Russell and Thomas Addis Emmet made there way to Paris. Emmet returned to Ireland in October 1802 and began to plan for a rising and in March 1803, at a meeting in Corbet’s Hotel, 105 Capel Street, Dublin, Emmet briefed his key organisers. In April 1803 Emmet rented an isolated house in Butterfield Lane in Rathfarnham as a new base of operations and Michael Dwyer, a 1798 veteran, suggested his young niece as a suitable candidate to play the role of the ‘housekeeper’. Born in or around the year 1778, Ann Devlin soon became Robert Emmet’s trusted helper and served him loyally in the months ahead. Shortly afterwards he leased a premises at Marshalsea Lane, off Thomas Street, Dublin, and set up an arms depot there.
Arms depots were established in Dublin for the manufacture and storage of weapons for the incipient rising. Former soldiers mixed their practical skills with the scientific knowledge that Robert Emmet had acquired on the continent, and an innovative rocket device was produced. Elaborate plans were drawn up to take the city and in particular Dublin Castle : supporters from the surrounding counties of Kildare, Wicklow and even Wexford were pledged to assist. Emmet bided his time, waiting for an opportune moment when English troops would be withdrawn to serve in the renewed war in France, but his hand was forced when a premature explosion on the evening of July 16, 1803, at the Patrick Street depot, caused the death of John Keenan. Though there was no obvious wide scale search or arrest operation by the British following the explosion, the leadership of the movement decided to set July 23, 1803 (the following Saturday) as the date for the rising. Emmet hoped that success in Dublin would inspire other counties to follow suit. Patrick M. Geoghegan, in a recent publication, says that “..the plan for taking Dublin was breathtaking in its precision and audacity. It was nothing less that a blueprint for a dramatic coup d’état. Indeed, over a century later, Pearse and Clarke would also refer to the plan for their own rising..”
Emmet’s plan depended on two factors – arms and men and, as Geoghegan states, when the time came, Robert Emmet had not enough of either – events went dramatically wrong for him. On the appointed day his plans began to unravel ; Michael Dwyer and his promised 300 men did not get the word until Sunday July 24th and, the previous day, an excess of men had moved in to Dublin from Kildare and could not be concealed in the existing depots so they spread out around the city pubs and some started drinking. Others, after inspecting the existing arsenal and finding many pikes but few muskets or blunderbusses, went home unimpressed.
Because he had alerted other countries and still had the element of surprise, Emmet decided not to postpone the Rising thus, shortly after seven o’ clock on Saturday July 23rd, 1803, Robert Emmet in his green and gold uniform stood in the Thomas Street, Dublin, depot and, to the assembled rebels, read out his proclamation, declaring that the Irish nation was about to assert itself in arms against foreign rule. But again events conspired to thwart the rebels – coaches commissioned for the attack on Dublin Castle were lost and erroneous information supplied that encouraged pre-emptive strikes, meant that confusion reigned. Also, the novel rocket signals failed to detonate. Emmet’s own forces, who were to have taken the Castle, dwindled away and, throughout the remainder of that evening, there were skirmishes at Thomas Street and the Coombe Barracks but he decided to terminate operations and leave the city. For the English Army, which included Daniel O’ Connell, it was then merely a mopping-up operation : in the aftermath, the English arrested and tortured Anne Devlin, even offering her the enormous sum of £500 to betray Robert Emmet – she refused.
Emmet himself took refuge in the Harold’s Cross area of Dublin, during which he met with his mother and Sarah Curran but, on Thursday August 25th, 1803, he was finally arrested. It has been stated by others that a £1000 reward was paid by Dublin Castle to an informer, for supplying the information which led to his capture. Robert Emmet’s misfortunes did not stop on his arrest : he had the misfortune to be defended by one Leonard McNally who was trusted by the United Irishmen. However, after McNally’s death in 1820 it transpired that he was a highly paid government agent and, in his role as an informer, that he had encouraged young men to join the rebels, betrayed them to Dublin Castle and would then collect fees from the United Irishmen to ‘defend’ those same rebels in court!
Emmet was tried before a ‘Special Commission’ in Green Street Court House in Dublin on September 19th, 1803. The ‘trial’ lasted all day and by 9.30pm he was pronounced guilty ; asked for his reaction, he delivered a speech which still inspires today. He closed by saying that he cared not for the opinion of the court but for the opinion of the future – “..when other times and other men can do justice to my character..” Robert Emmet was publicly executed on Tuesday September 20th outside St Catherine’s Church in Dublin’s Thomas Street. The final comment on the value of Robert Emmet’s Rising must go to Séan Ó Brádaigh, who states that to speak of Emmet in terms of failure alone is to do him a grave injustice. He and the men and women of 1798 and 1803 and, indeed, those that went before them, set a course for the Irish nation, with their appeal to Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter under the common name of ‘Irishman’, which profoundly affected Irish life for more than two centuries and which will, we trust, eventually bear abundant fruit.
Finally, it was not only college-educated men and women like Robert Emmet (ie those who might be perceived as being ‘upper class’) who decided to challenge Westminster’s interference in Irish affairs in 1803 : so-called ‘working class’ men and women also acknowledged the need for such resistance – Edward Kearney, carpenter, hanged, Thomas St / Owen Kirwin, tailor, hanged, Thomas St, September 1st 1803 / Maxwell Roche, slator, hanged, Thomas St, September 2nd 1803 / Denis Lambert Redmond, coal facer, hanged, Coalquay (Woodquay) Dublin, / John Killeen, carpenter, hanged, Thomas St, September 10th 1803 / John McCann, shoemaker, hanged at his own doorstep, Thomas St, September 10th 1803 / Felix Rourke, farm labourer, hanged, Rathcoole, Dublin, September 10th 1803 / Thomas Keenan, carpenter, hanged, Thomas St, September 11th 1803 / John Hayes, carpenter, hanged, Thomas St, September 17th 1803 / Michael Kelly, carpenter, hanged, Thomas St, September 17th 1803 / James Byrne, baker, hanged, Townsend St, Dublin, September 17th 1803 / John Begg, tailor, hanged, Palmerstown, Dublin, September 17th 1803 / Nicholas Tyrrell, factory worker, hanged, Palmerstown, Dublin, September 17th 1803 / Henry Howley, carpenter, hanged, Kilmainham Jail, Dublin, September 20th 1803 / John McIntoch, carpenter, hanged, Patrick St, Dublin, October 3rd 1803 – there are dozens more we could list here, but suffice to say that ‘class’ alone was not then, nor is it now, a deciding factor in challenging British military and political interference in this country. ‘Justice’ is the deciding factor in that equation.
‘IRA CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY – A CONSPIRATOR SPEAKS AND IS BOOHED…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, December 1954.
About the same time as Mr Ernest Blythe was voicing his opinion on criminal conspiracy, forgetful presumably of his own past, the President of UCD, Mr M Tierney, was uttering the following warning ; “We are living in Ireland in a strange fog of unreality which seems at the moment to have penetrated into every corner of our national consciousness and which we feel no more than the inhabitants of the Hebrides feel the fogs of winter.”
Hear, hear, Mr Tierney, you are in a position to see the fog that enshrouds our national conscience, and which is merely the smokescreen (akin to a fog) which has been thrown out by the politicians in carrying out their various criminal conspiracies since December 1921. But for all that it is not a ‘strange fog’ – it is only strange to those who will not appreciate its source. I do not wish to be cruel, but I would suggest to the UCD Literacy and Historical Society that they should henceforth carry out ‘Operation Fog’ by refusing to give a platform to any person who has taken part in ‘Operation Criminal Conspiracy’.
In case, Mr Editor (or my young readers), you may have any doubts as to my bona fides or my right to challenge the blithe and the not so blithe politicians, I want to inform you that I place myself in the category of ‘Veteran’, having been a member of the IRB up to the time it was ‘taken over’ by the first set of conspirators, a GHQ Staff Officer in 1921, a Battalion Commandant in 1922, a Brigade Commandant in 1923 and still acknowledging the republican stand.
(End of ‘IRA CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY – A CONSPIRATOR SPEAKS AND IS BOOHED’ ; Next – ‘CORK CEREMONY’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (4TH MARCH) 132 YEARS AGO : “GRACE UNKNOWN….”
Grace Gifford Plunkett (pictured) was born on this date (4th March) in 1888, in Dublin. She attended art school here and in London and, in 1915, at the age of 27, she ‘stepped out’ with the then editor of ‘The Irish Review’ magazine, Joseph Plunkett, one of the founders of the ‘Irish Volunteer’ organisation. He was imprisoned in Kilmainham Jail in Dublin for his part in the 1916 Easter Rising and was condemned to death by firing squad : he asked Grace to marry him and, on the 3rd of May 1916, at 6pm, in Kilmainham Jail, Grace Gifford and Joseph Plunkett were married, with two prison officers as witnesses and fifteen British soldiers ‘keeping guard’ in the same cell. The couple were allowed ten minutes together, before Grace was removed from her husband. He was executed by the British hours later, on the 4th May, 1916.
Grace Gifford Plunkett was at that time on the Executive of the then Sinn Féin organisation, and spoke out against the Treaty of Surrender. Like all anti-treaty activists (then as now) she was constantly harassed by Free State forces and was no stranger to the inside of prison cells, and was on a ‘watch list’ by the Leinster House administration. She had no home, little money and was despised by the State ‘authorities’ – selling her drawings and illustrations gave her a small irregular income, as she moved from rented flat to rented flat and ate in the cheapest restaurants she could find. She died suddenly, and alone, on the 13th of December 1955, aged 67, in a flat in South Richmond Street in Portobello, Dublin, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.
‘Rougher than Death the road I choose
Yet shall my feet not walk astray,
Though dark, my way I shall not lose
For this way is the darkest way.
Now I have chosen in the dark
The desolate way to walk alone
Yet strive to keep alive one spark
Of your known grace and grace unknown…’ (from here.)
ILLEGAL ARMS : IN BAD COMPANY…
A man suspected of being one of the world’s biggest dealers in illegal weapons was a director of two companies based in Ireland.
By Annamarie Comiskey.
From ‘Magill’ magazine, July 2002.
In July last year (2001), Leonid Minin was charged by Italian magistrate Dr Walter Mapelli with dealing in illegal arms. He is now in prison near Milan awaiting a second trial, which could end with a 12-year sentence. Shortly before his arrest for possessing drugs, magistrate Walter Mapelli claims that Minin chartered a plane in Ukraine to fly 113 tonnes of bullets to the Ivory Coast in West Africa ; the year before that, according to the magistrate, Minin allegedly sent 68 tonnes of small arms to the same country, which were then re-routed to Sierra Leone, a country under a UN arms embargo, by his private plane. He denies knowing that his plane was used for this purpose.
Leonid Minin’s empire is backed-up by a web of companies in the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man, to name just a few of the off-shore havens he used. The magistrate is investigating this paper trail to find out if Minin was laundering the proceeds of illegal arms trafficking and his Irish interests may come under scrutiny. Limad Invest Ltd, an investment company registered at 3 College Green, Dublin 1, was incorporated in 1996 and dissolved in 1999 – Minin was one of the directors. The company had a share capital of twelve-thousand Euro’s and filed annual accounts in 1997 though no trade took place. No annual accounts were filed in 1998, 1999 or 2000.
At the same address, Minin held a directorship of another company, ‘Limad Energy’, set-up with a meagre share capital of two-thousand four hundred Euro’s ; it was also dissolved in 1999 and, again, annual accounts were filed in 1997 but not thereafter. Records show that Leonid Minin described himself as a ‘businessman’, with Israeli nationality and an address in Tel Aviv. He also holds passports from Germany and Ukraine. The other director, Irina Najda Sylam, described herself as a ‘director’, with German nationality, and living in Monaco. Mysteriously, there is no information on record of what the companies did after 1997… (MORE LATER.)
‘THOUGHTS AFTER OMAGH’.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.
The Irish, like all other people, are only human. They shape their lives on the pattern of their leaders and, when the leaders are noble and heroic, the people are also noble and heroic. But when the leaders are mean, cowardly, corrupt and cynical, so also are the people.
Ireland has passed through its period of meanness and cynicism. A new spirit is abroad throughout the land ; “What can I do” is the watchword replacing the old “What do I get”, that has dominated Irish life and politics for the past thirty years*. It is natural and noble for a people to desire freedom ; freedom denied and subjection enforced by the might of arms is a gnawing irritant on the national life that cannot be placated by rhetorical orators or resounding resolutions.
To become free is very difficult. It cannot be achieved by wishing for it – a great effort has to be made, by the nation and by individuals, to become disciplined in preparation for the sacrifice, if necessary, of personal liberty, life, property and loved ones… (MORE LATER.)
( * ‘1169’ comment : that ‘new spirit’ might very well have surfaced in the 1950’s (I wasn’t around then!) but it has long since disappeared and a vicious ‘mé féin’ attitude is, unfortunately, thriving in this corrupt State. The political system here encourages the scenario that it’s ‘every one for themselves’ and that outlook will not change until the political system here changes. Or is changed, by whatever means necessary.)
ON THIS DATE (4TH MARCH) 216 YEARS AGO – ‘CONVICTS’ REVOLT : ‘VINEGAR HILL’ NSW UPRISING.
On this date in 1804, an uprising was held by the ‘Castle Hill Convicts’ in New South Wales, Australia, led by Irish rebel Phillip Cunningham, a Kerryman, born at Glenn Liath (‘Grey Glen’), Moyvane. Although not a lot is known about this Irish hero, it is recorded that he moved to Clonmel, Tipperary, in the 1790’s and worked as a stonemason, supplementing his income from same by opening up a small pub. Peter Cunningham and about two hundred other ‘convicts’ turned on the Redcoat soldiers who had imprisoned them, locked them up and broke into a weapons hut.
Martial law was declared as a result, in the Sydney area, and residents in the town of Parramatta were advised to assemble at the docks, ready to flee the area if needed. The rebels had by now based themselves on a hilltop and declared it to be their ‘Vinegar Hill’. A Major George Johnson and his men from the New South Wales Corps and a detachment of fifty mercenaries from the ‘Loyal Association’ marched through the night and a short battle commenced in and around ‘Vinegar Hill’, ending the rebellion. Peter Cunningham was later executed without trial.
‘The Sydney Gazette’ newspaper covered(/coloured) the event, in its edition of the 11th March 1804, in the following manner –
‘REBELLION AT CASTLE HILL.
Major Johnston on arriving at Toongabbee, received information that a considerable Body were on their way to the Hawkesbury: Notwithstanding the fatigue of his small Detachment in marching up from Sydney and the distance they had gone since, they immediately ran in good Order, with their followers, and after a pursuit of Seven Miles farther, Major Johnston and a Trooper, who had preceded the Detachment came up with the rear of the Insurgents at 11 o’clock, whose number have since been ascertained to be 233 men, armed with Musquets, Pistols, Swords etc., and a number of followers which they had taken from the Settlers.
After calling to them repeatedly they halted, and formed on the rise of a Hill: The Major and Trooper advanced within pistol shot, and endeavoured to persuade them to submit to the Mercy that was offered them by the Proclamation, which they refused. The Major required to see their Chiefs, who after some deliberation met them half way, between the Detachment and Insurgents, when by a great presence of mind and address the Major presented his pistol at the head of the Principal leader (Phillip Cunningham), and the Trooper following his motions, presented his Pistol also to the other leader’s head (William Johnston) and drove them into the Detachment without the least opposition from the body of the Insurgents..’ (more here.)
That rebellion may very well have been shortlived and its leader, Peter Cunningham, almost forgotten in our history, but it, and he, live on in the memory of every Irish republican to this day. As it should be.
ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (WEDNESDAY 11TH MARCH 2020)…..
…we won’t be posting our usual contribution, and probably won’t be in a position to post anything at all until the following Wednesday (18th) ; this coming weekend (Saturday/Sunday 7th/8th March) is spoke for already with a 650-ticket raffle to be run for the Dublin Comhairle of RSF in a venue on the Dublin/Kildare border (work on which begins on the Tuesday before the actual raffle) and the ‘autopsy’ into same which will take place on Monday evening, 9th, in Dublin, meaning that we will not have the time to post here on Wednesday 11th. But we’ll be back, as stated above, on Wednesday 18th March 2020. Thanks for checking in with us, and we’ll see ya then!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.