‘Saoirse – Irish Freedom is the voice of the Irish Republican Movement. The monthly newspaper of Republican Sinn Féin, it takes its name from Irish Freedom – Saoirse, a Fenian paper which first appeared in November 1910 and continued as a monthly publication until December 1914 when it was suppressed by the British authorities. Among the contributors to that paper were Bulmer Hobson, PS Hegerty, Terence McSwiney, Pádraig Pearse, Ernest Blythe, Piaras Beaslaí, Pat Devlin, Fred Cogley, JW Good and Roger Casement.
Irish Republicans have always attempted to produce a newspaper, as a means of speaking to the people. As revolutionaries we have had to rely on our own resources to counter-act the status quo message promoted by the Establishment media…’
(from here.)

The May 2020 issue of this Irish republican newspaper can be downloaded, for free, here ; but you will be asked for a small few bob next month, for the June 2020 issue – the newspaper, and the organisation which produces it, are (obviously!) not State-funded and your custom would be greatly appreciated. Thank You – GRMA!


6th May, 1882 (138 years ago on this date) – the scene of the executions in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, pictured, of two top British officials, ‘Lord’ Frederick Cavendish, and his under secretary, Thomas Henry Burke, by members of ‘The Invincibles’.

The killings were condemned by both the Irish establishment and the churches ; indeed, Charles Stewart Parnell publicly condemned the killings, but he was implicated in same by letters published in ‘The Times’ newspaper, allegedly written by him. The letters expressed sympathies with the killers and suggested his public condemnation of them had been insincere. Parnell denied he had written the letters and they were subsequently proven to be forgeries, penned by Richard Pigott, a journalist who had a long-standing grudge against Parnell. After he had cleared his name, Parnell received a standing ovation from his fellow MPs on his first return to the House of Commons, a ‘Welcome Back’, if you like, for one of their own.

However – months went by and no arrests were made. Then, in one day, twenty-six men (all members of ‘The Invincibles’) were arrested and charged with the ‘Phoenix Park murders’. The men soon realised that this was no ‘desperate face-saving’ expedition by the British ; one of the top members of the organisation, James Carey, had turned informer and his brother, Peter, also told the British all he knew about the group.

The other jarvey (cab-driver), Michael Kavanagh, also agreed to inform on the ‘Invincibles’. Between May and December 1883, fourteen ‘Invincibles’ passed through Green Street Courthouse – five of them were hanged – some of them not ‘properly’ so – they were then decapitated and their remains were ‘gifted’ to be used for ‘medical science’ purposes. One of those spared the death penalty but who was sentenced to life imprisonment instead was James ‘Skin-the-Goat’ Fitzharris, who was arrested on the evidence given by the other driver, Michael Kavanagh.

When he was first arrested, the British offered Fitzharris (pictured) a deal if he, too, would turn informer, but he refused. His ‘trial’ actually ended with him being acquitted by the jury but the judge then halted proceedings and ordered that he be re-arrested ; he was then charged with being an ‘accomplice’ in the deed, found guilty, and sentenced to life. During both of his ‘trials’, ‘Skin-the-Goat’ made a mockery of the proceedings and refused to recognise the so-called ‘authority’ of the British to carry-out such functions in Ireland. James ‘Skin-the-Goat’ Fitzharris was fifty years of age when he began his life sentence – he was sixty-five when he got out of (Portlaoise) Prison, and things had changed ; his comrades were either dead or had moved away and, to the eternal shame of the Republican Movement, it turned its back on the man.

He had no job and no-where to live, he knew no-one and no-one wanted to know him. His choice now was to live on the street or sign himself into the workhouse – he chose the latter, and survived for the next twelve years as a pauper, between the gutter and the workhouse. He died in 1910 (on 7th September) aged seventy-seven. He was jobless, homeless and friendless when he died, alone, in the South Dublin Union Workhouse in James Street, Dublin.

James ‘Skin-the-Goat’ Fitzharris was twenty-five years young when he joined the Movement in 1858 and stayed true to his republican principles for fifty-two years, until he died. He had a hard life, in hard times, but he came through it and never recanted his actions or his beliefs. And, to his credit, he was working for a noble cause, unlike the two British agents/officials he encountered in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, on the 6th May, 1882, 138 years ago on this date, and unlike the informers and the politicians he encountered along the way.


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955.

“Sinn Féin entered the contest of these elections with the definite purpose of raising the issue of foreign occupation of Irish territory above the rut of party politics and of uniting the people in the demand that the British occupation forces must leave Ireland.

The issue is plain and simple and in placing it before the people of Ireland, and of the public at large, Sinn Féin entertains no feelings of animosity against any Irishman because of class, creed or individual outlook. This was plainly demonstrated by the manner in which Sinn Féin conducted the election campaign.

The verdict of the polls is most gratifying, and amply justifies the Sinn Féin approach to the ending of British occupation, and the evils that stem from Britain’s unwarranted interference in affairs that are the sole concern of the Irish people. Sinn Féin made it amply clear both before and during the campaign that its intention of pursuing its policy would remain unaffected by the election results…” (MORE LATER.)


As social work in Ireland reaches a landmark, Phil MacGiolla Bháin argues that the profession is flawed beyond salvation.

From ‘Magill’ magazine, July 2002.

We need another set of rules and structures for people charged with protecting children and assisting families. It would help, of course, if these could see the children and parents they come into contact with as human beings rather than as objectified by an abstract ideology.

When occasionally eyebrows are raised concerning the involvement of social workers in the life of a family, the explanation for failure or error is either the individual failings of a social worker and/or an organisational failing of health boards snowed under with work.

It would be a crass mistake to believe that Moira Woods was some off-the-wall maverick who got it terribly wrong. In the wake of the report of the Medical Council’s ‘Fitness to Practise Committee’, there was much blather about structures being different now – multi-disciplinary, working-peer reviews etc – but what hasn’t changed since the time of Moira Woods is the worldview of the vast majority of those ‘practising’ child protection. If anything, this has got worse… (MORE LATER.)

‘1169’ comment : we have mentioned this instance of elder abuse in our area (Clondalkin, Dublin) before on the blog ; the two sisters and their families lost in their criminal endeavours and had all financial access to their parents savings taken from them, but the decent neighbours and friends etc won’t forgive them for what they done and the resulting animosity is still fresh to this day, which is not at all surprising. The ‘Fit To Practise’ article has reminded us of a particular episode which happened within days of the two women having had their access to their parents bank account and credit union account taken from them by their brother (‘Uncle S’), who was in the process of putting a stop to his parents savings and pensions being ‘appropriated’ by those two sisters and their families.

Besides the physical fights that ensued (two such confrontations that us locals know about, each one started by the sisters or one of their family members) – one in a local pub at a 60th birthday party and the other when the husband of one of the sisters attempted to hold ‘Uncle S’ hostage in his deceased parents bungalow – the two sisters, in one attempt to wrest back financial control, actually reported their brother to Social Services in Cherry Orchard, in Ballyfermot, for ‘financial elder abuse of his mother’!

The Social Service man and the Office he represented, acting solely on the ‘word’ of the two sisters, tried to ‘legally’ browbeat and threaten the poor man into handing all financial access back to his two sisters but ‘Uncle S’ vigorously defended both himself and the action he had been forced to take because of the morally-corrupt deeds of his two sisters and their families and repeatedly offered to show that Social Services Office the proof of the thievery that had taken place and called their bluff by suggesting that they take a legal case against him, during which the two sisters would be named and shamed, in public, and the shortfallings in how the Social Services ‘industry’ in this State operates would be highlighted by him, with that particular Office practitioner being named and a legal case taken against him. ‘Uncle S’ stood his ground and that State ‘service’ backed down, apologised, and offered to drop the whole issue, to which ‘Uncle S’ replied that he wanted them to take a case against his two sisters for ‘financial elder abuse’ and that Office said they would get back to him about that. They never did, and the reason is obvious – because their own incompetence would have been exposed in any such court case so they decided to do nothing!

Definitely ‘not fit for practise’, as presently constituted, but they can be successfully challenged and defeated, and they should be ; they are too powerful in this State and believe themselves to be beyond reproach.


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.

Other speakers dwelt on the contribution made by Fr. Liam Pilkington (pictured) one of the top leaders of the Anglo-Irish war, to the defeat of the Black and Tan terror and the upholding of the Republic in the days following the acceptance of the Treaty.

Dr. Andrew Cooney, former Chief of Staff of the IRA, said Fr. Pilkington was probably the only senior officer surviving who had not deviated by as much as one inch from the principles of Irish republicanism, or the position he had taken in the dark days of 1922. Liam Cotter (pictured), Chairman of the ‘Republican Prisoners Aid Committee’, said the economic side of the struggle for Irish freedom had always been stressed by the leaders of the Republican Movement from Wolfe Tone on down.

Michael McGinn of Philadelphia spoke of a recent visit to Ireland and how the people there felt regarding Irish republicanism. Others who spoke briefly included Paddy O’Mahoney, Diarmuid Corkery, Eamon Deady, who are going to Ireland on a visit, and John Kerry O’Donnell.

Barney Rooney summed up and thanked the gathering for coming there to honour a great leader. He, himself, had served under him in the old days. Joe Stynes was the Committee Chairman. (END of ‘Fr. Liam Pilkington Departs For Ireland’. NEXT – ‘Eithne Nic Sibhne’, from the same source.)

Thanks for reading – Sharon and the ‘1169’ team. Stay safe, and ‘play’ safe. Or at least don’t be as reckless as the old you!

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
This entry was posted in History/Politics. and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.