AN ON-LINE/DIGITAL EASTER, APRIL 2020.

Due to Covid 19, Sinn Féin Poblachtach will be commemorating Easter 1916 online this year.


Beginning on Good Friday (10th April) a series of live events will be held on Facebook ; at 4pm, Ard Chomhairle member Colette Healy, Galway will be doing a reading of ‘The Rose Tree’ by W.B. Yeats and also announcing the full Easter online programme.


On Holy Saturday at 2.30pm Ard Chomhairle member Martin Duffy, Lurgan will read the Easter Statement from the leadership of the Republican Movement, following this he will give a short Easter Oration.


On Easter Sunday at 2.30pm Ard Chomhairle member Des Dalton, Kildare, will read the 1916 Proclamation and will them deliver a short Easter Oration.


Finally, on Easter Monday at 2.30pm, National Treasurer Diarmuid Mac Dubhghlais will read the roll of honour of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising and will give a short Easter Oration.


As part of the SFP/RSF online Easter Commemorative events there will be a regular posting on Facebook and Twitter of historical documents, films such as ‘An Tine Bheo’, excerpts from George Morrison’s MISE ÉIRE, interviews with 1916 veterans, historical documents and photographs and readings of historical documents and speeches. This will begin on Holy Thursday and continue over Easter Weekend and throughout Easter Week ; hope you can join in at some stage!







ON THIS DATE (8TH APRIL) 186 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF A ‘COLOURFUL MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT’.

‘…Jonah Barrington was a member of the late Irish Parliament for the cities of Tuam and Clogher. He was a lawyer of landed background and then later an MP for Tuam and Bannagher…in 1798 he was appointed an admiralty court judge and knighted in 1807. However he was removed from office for embezzlement in 1830, by which time he had long retreated to France to escape his creditors…’ (from here.)


Probably disappointed with the hand that fate had dealt him (but possibly more to do with the way he himself had ‘played that hand’!) he wrote a book entitled ‘The Rise and Fall of The Irish Nation’ which was stated to be ‘a full account of the bribery and corruption by which the (Act Of) Union was carried ; the family histories of the members who voted away the Irish Parliament with an extraordinary black list of the titles, places and pensions which they received for their corrupt votes..’, and that book is occasionally gifted with another title – ‘The Rise and Fall of the Irish Nation: A Full Account of the Bribery and Corruption by Which the Union Was Carried ; the Family Histories of the Members who Voted Away the Irish Parliament’.


Jonah kept company with those as ‘interesting and colourful’ (!) as himself, as the following piece testifies – ‘Irish elections can be boisterous and violent affairs but none more so than the Co. Wexford election to the British House of Commons in 1807, just a few years after the Act of Union…two of the candidates, William Congreve Alcock and John Colclough, fight a duel in front of the county sheriff, 16 magistrates and a large crowd of spectators. Alcock shoots Colclough dead ; he is elected ; he is also tried and acquitted for killing Colclough, but his mind is badly affected ; two years later, he will be confined in an asylum for the insane.

Among the contestants..were two local grandees, William Congreve Alcock and John Colclough. Colclough’s brother, who gloried in the traditional Irish monicker of ‘Caesar’, had been the local MP but was a prisoner of war in France. The Colclough’s, who were generally popular landlords, had lived at Tintern Abbey, a former monastery, since the mid-16th century.

The election campaign was a bitter one, polling was due to take place on 1 June but with just two days to go Alcock took exception to what he alleged was an attempt by Colclough to steal the support of tenants obligated to vote for him in what was, by today’s standards, a slightly democratic election. In what appears like a piece of egregious over-reaction, he challenged Colclough to a duel and in the encounter that followed Alcock shot his political opponent dead. As the MP for Athlone, George Tierney observed tartly, “that’s one way of getting an election”. As duelling was still socially acceptable in early 19th century Ireland, Alcock was acquitted of murder and allowed to take his seat in the House of Commons.


But he was not to continue in office for long – two years after the duel he was committed to an asylum. The Irish judge and memoirist, Jonah Barrington, wrote of Alcock that “..alas! The acquitted duellist suffered more in mind than his victim had done in body. The horror of the scene, and the solemnity of the trial, combined to make a fatal inroad on his reason! He became melancholy ; his understanding declined ; a dark gloom enveloped his entire intellect ; and an excellent young man and perfect gentleman at length sank into irrecoverable imbecility.”

But there is an interesting postscript to this sad tale. Not all those affected by the duel came out of it badly : Colclough’s estate at Tintern Abbey was managed by his steward, one James Kennedy. Because of the absence of Caesar Colclough in France, Kennedy continued to run the estate until his Caesar’s return in 1815. During that period something of the order of £80,000 disappeared. Nobody could pin it directly on the steward but in 1818 Kennedy was dismissed at the behest of Caesar Colclough’s wife, Jane Stratford Kirwan. The money remains unaccounted for. There are, however, persistent rumours that at least some of it may have been used a generation later to fund the migration to the USA of the Kennedy family in the 1840s, and perhaps even to set up the Boston saloon that became the basis of the family fortune. A descendant of James Kennedy, by the name of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, went on to become President of the United States of American in 1961. Was the Kennedy fortune based on the tragic outcome of a tragic confrontation between two Irish aristocrats..?’ (from here.)

Jonah Barrington, who was born at Knapton, in Abbeyleix, County Laois, in 1760, died at Versailles in France, at 74 years of age, in 1834.


Whatever about the alleged/possible (probable?) Kennedy connection regarding the missing £80,000 (or part thereof)- highly unlikely, we believe, as professional, career politicians would run a mile from tainted money of that sort (!!) – the ‘tenants (being) obligated’ to vote for their ‘landlords’ is a position that, mentally and morally, still exists in this warped State : the ‘landlord’ ie the ‘distinguished’ [temporary] occupant of the ‘Big House’ accepts it as a given, morally, that ‘his tenants’ (constituents) will vote him/her back in for another term in office while the voter/tenant/serf accepts it as a given that he/she is ‘obligated’ to vote for someone from the ‘Big House’. And that’s ‘progress’, Irish style…





‘CORK CEREMONY…’


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, December 1954.



Glasgow Sinn Féin – The cumann held an open meeting on the afternoon of November 28th last and a ‘Manchester Martyrs Commemoration’ concert was held in the hall at 8pm, and the cumann extended a hand of welcome to the new cumann in Dundee – good luck to you all in the East! The Glasgow Cumann have increased their membership in the past few months, but there is room for a lot more so, exiles in Glasgow, give Sinn Féin your support! We wish to thank all who gave their services to the sale of ‘The United Irishman’, and are pleased to announce that they have increased the sale of the paper to 62 dozen copies.


A list of candidates for the Westminster elections, for ten of the twelve constituencies, was announced ; they are as follows – ARMAGH ; Tomas MacCurtain, Cork. SOUTH DOWN ; Kevin O’ Rourke, Banbridge. NORTH DOWN ; John Dugan, Loughguile. MID ULSTER ; Tom Mitchel, Dublin. FERMANAGH/SOUTH TYRONE ; Phil Clarke, Dublin. WEST BELFAST ; Eamon Boyce, Dublin. EAST BELFAST ; Liam Mulcahy, Cork. NORTH BELFAST ; Frank McGlade, Ardoyne and SOUTH BELFAST ; Paddy Kearney, Dublin. Candidates have yet to be selected for Derry and South Antrim constituencies.

(END of ‘Cork Ceremony’. NEXT – ‘Sinn Féin Victory’, from ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June 1955.)





ON THIS DATE (8TH APRIL) 159 YEARS AGO : DERRYVEAGH EVICTIONS.

Twenty million acres of land in Ireland ; 661,931 ‘tenants’ (ie native Irish) in Ireland and 19,284 ‘landlords’ (ie British Planter) in Ireland. If the ‘landlords’ could get rid of the ‘tenants’ they could increase the size of ‘their’ ranches.


In the late 1850’s, an unscrupulous British Toff named John George Adair arrived in the Derryveagh area of County Donegal and, by guile, hook and crook, within one year of being in the area, ‘owned’ more than ninty square miles of the surrounding countryside. Adair imported black-faced sheep from Scotland and allowed them to wander on ‘his’ land ; British ‘landlords’ like Adair were not alone in thinking that they could do as they wished with ‘their’ holdings ; their bigotry was shared by the political establishment. In 1860, the British-appointed Attorney General in Ireland, Richard Deasy, had his ‘Act’ passed into ‘law’ in this country – it was known as ‘The Landlord and Tenant Law Amendment (Ireland) Act of 1860’, but was better known as ‘Deasy’s Act’. That piece of British legislation removed whatever insignificant amount of protection that the ‘tenant’ had in relation to their rights and allowed the British a ‘free-hand’ to do as they choose with ‘their’ Irish ‘tenants’.

The new ‘law’ allowed the British to set, amend, introduce and/or change any terms which the ‘tenant’ had with the ‘landlord’ and defined the contract between both parties as “deemed to be founded on the express or implied contract of the parties and not upon tenure or service.” The foreign ‘gentry’ in Ireland were already aware that it was more profitable for them to have livestock on ‘their’ land rather than poor ‘tenants’ who leased the land, and ‘Deasy’s Act’ encouraged them to shift the Irish off the land, ‘legally’, and removed any ‘rights’ that the evicted family may have had prior to the enactment of the new ‘law’.

The Derryveagh ‘landlord’, John George Adair, and many others, lost no time in moving against the families living on ‘their’ estates : within a few months of the ‘1860 Landlord/Tenant – Deasy’s Act’, evictions were taking place at a recorded level of twenty a week ; Adair had already attempted to have the families on ‘his’ estate evicted for ‘stealing’ his Scottish (black-faced) sheep – if the sheep, while wandering free, should end up near a persons cabin, that ‘tenant’ was accused of stealing the animal! He changed the ‘terms and conditions’ of the manner in which he ‘leased’ the land to his existing ‘tenants’ and did not bother to notify them ; those families were served with eviction notices, and Adair then notified the ‘police-force’ and requested the British military to accompany the eviction party while it carried out its ‘mandate’. On the 8th April 1861 – 159 years ago on this date – in Derryveagh, Donegal, John George Adair and his party of licenced bandits physically removed forty-four families from their miserable dwellings, burnt the roofs of same and, before the fire was extinguished, levelled the walls.



Whole families lived in ditches ; no food, no income, no shelter, no hope. Adair and his ‘landlord’ colleagues left such destruction and destitution in their wake that foreign newspapers sent over reporters to follow him, and their words and sketches were sent out world-wide. Irish exiles were furious, and done what they could to help their fellow-countrymen and women back home. In Australia, for instance, a ‘Donegal Relief Committee’ was established, and paid for most of Adair’s and his colleagues victims to re-settle in Australia. That same British mentality in relation to Ireland and the Irish exists to this day and the authors of this blog are of the opinion that only a full British military and political withdrawal from Ireland will solve the issue.





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.


Amnesty International in Ireland wants all arm brokers operating from Ireland registered, subject to export licence approval and their activities strictly controlled. Jim Loughran from Amnesty International said – “The lack of effective controls of arms dealers has led to an unrestricted trade in small arms, too often linked to human rights abuses in such places as Sierra Leone and Rwanda.”


There was nothing in place to control Leonid Minin when he decided to do ‘business’ in Ireland ; only now, after the companies have closed, and several arms shipments to Africa latewr, the Italian court may find that Ireland should have done something sooner.


(END of ‘ILLEGAL ARMS : IN BAD COMPANY’. Next – ‘FIT TO PRACTISE? SOCIAL WORK IN IRELAND’, from the same source.)





‘THE EPIC OF THE WATER TOWER’.

From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.


The Omagh raid has brought many incidents, amusing and otherwise, in its wake. Among the amusing ones we could mention the epic of the water-tower when a story by some youngsters brought scores of heavily armed soldiers and police to surround the water-tower adjacent to the Omagh Barracks in the belief that one of the IRA raiders, withdrawing from the barracks, had taken refuge there.


Unwilling to risk conflict with him, the doughty warriors of the Empire encamped around the water-tower day and night, prepared to “starve him out”. Goaded by the jibes of the people and the offer of newspapermen to climb the tower to see if anyone was really there, the heroes of the Empire eventually went into action.


They first emptied thousands of gallons of water from the tank and then, covering every possible cranny or hole, from which even a mouse might emerge, with rifles and machine-guns, they sent men half-way up the ladder to lob tear-gas bombs into the space between the concrete wall of the tower and the tank… (MORE LATER.)





ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (15TH APRIL)…

..we won’t be in a position to post our usual offering, as our time has already been spoke for!


We have something like the usual monthly fund-raising raffle this Sunday (12th April) to attend to but, because of the Covid 19 situation, it’s only gonna be more-or-less a ‘half-a-raffle’ : still 650 tickets, still €440 in prize money to be distributed between the eight winners but a different format for the gig has been put in place, due to the temporarily changed circumstances.


The location has been changed to reflect the relevant safety necessities required and the usual raffle crew has been reduced in number – myself and two others, one of whom will be assisting remotely, will do the necessary on the day and, as I write, we are in the process of collecting the ticket stubs and cash, which were distributed in the usual fashion (in mid-March, before this bug had upset things too much!) but now have to be collected in a different manner than usual because of the changed situation. It’s do-able, just about, for the April fund-raiser, but the May 2020 gig is looking doubtful, at the moment, but sure it’s early yet…!


Anyway – whatever about next months raffle, we won’t have time to put our stuff together for next Wednesday, the 15th April but, if the blog team are up to it, we’ll have a few words to say on the following Wednesday, the 22nd April. Keep an eye on yourself and yours, for now, and hopefully we’ll all be ok and come out in good form on the other side of this calamity. The luck of the Irish and all that…!



Thanks for reading – Sharon and the ‘1169’ team. Stay safe!





About 11sixtynine

A mother of three and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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