ON THIS DATE (1ST JULY) 153 YEARS AGO – DEATH OF ‘MEAGHER OF THE SWORD’.

“Abhor the sword – stigmatize the sword? No, for in the passes of the Tyrol it cut to pieces the banner of the Bavarian, and, through those cragged passes, struck a path to fame for the peasant insurrections of Innsbruck! Abhor the sword – stigmatize the sword? No, for at its blow a giant nation started from the waters of the Atlantic, and by its redeeming magic, and in the quiverings of its crimsoned light, the crippled colony sprang into the attitude of a proud Republic – prosperous, limitless, and invincible! Abhor the sword – stigmatize the sword? No, for it swept the Dutch marauders out of the fine old towns of Belgium – scourged them back to their own phlegmatic swamps – and knocked their flag and sceptre, their laws and bayonets, into the sluggish water of the Scheldt..” – Thomas Francis Meagher, pictured.


Born on the 3rd August 1823, died (in mysterious circumstances) on the 1st July, 1867 – 153 years ago, on this date – ‘Does the world even have heroes like Ireland’s Thomas Francis Meagher anymore? After fighting for Irish independence (“I know of no country that has won its independence by accident”) ,then condemned to death, pardoned and exiled, Thomas Francis Meagher escaped to America, where he became a leader of the Irish community and commanded the Irish Brigade during the Civil War. General Meagher’s men fought valiantly at some of the most famous battles of the Civil War, including Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. After the war, Meagher served as Acting Governor of the Montana Territory. In 1867, Meagher disappeared on the Missouri River ; his body was never found..’ (from here.)


Thomas Francis Meagher was born in Waterford City (near the Commins/Granville Hotel) on August 3rd, 1823, into a financially-comfortable family ; his father was a wealthy merchant who, having made his money, entered politics, a route which the young Thomas was to follow. At 20 years young, he decided to challenge British misrule in Ireland and, at 23 years of age (in 1846), he became one of the leaders of the ‘Young Ireland’ Movement. He was only 25 years of age when he sat down with the Government of the Second French Republic to seek support for an uprising in Ireland. At 29 years of age, he wrote what is perhaps his best known work – ‘Speeches on the Legislative Independence of Ireland’, of which six editions were published.

He unveiled an Irish flag, which was based on the French Tricolour, in his native city, Waterford, on the 7th March 1848, outside the Wolfe Tone Confederate Club. The French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alphonse de Lamartine, and a group of French women who supported the Irish cause, gave Meagher the new ‘Flag of Ireland’, a tricolour of green, white and orange – the difference between the 1848 flag and the present flag is that the orange was placed next to the staff and the red hand of Ulster adorned the white field on the original. On the 15th April that same year, on Abbey Street, in Dublin, he presented the flag to Irish citizens on behalf of himself and the ‘Young Ireland’ movement, with the following words : “I trust that the old country will not refuse this symbol of a new life from one of her youngest children. I need not explain its meaning. The quick and passionate intellect of the generation now springing into arms will catch it at a glance. The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the ‘orange’ and the ‘green’ and I trust that beneath its folds, the hands of the Irish protestant and the Irish catholic may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood..”

He was arrested by the British for his part in the 1848 Rising, accused of ‘high treason’ and sentenced to death (“to be hanged, drawn and disemboweled..”) but, while he was awaiting execution in Richmond Jail, this was changed by ‘Royal Command’ to transportation for life. Before he was deported, he spoke in Slievenamon, Tipperary, to a crowd estimated at 50,000 strong, about the country and the flag he was leaving behind – “Daniel O’Connell preached a cause that we are bound to see out. He used to say ‘I may not see what I have laboured for, I am an old man ,my arm is withered, no epitaph of victory may mark my grave, but I see a young generation with redder blood in their veins, and they will do the work.’ Therefore it is that I ambition to decorate these hills with the flag of my country..”

In July 1849, at only 26 years of age, he was transported from Dun Laoghaire on the SS.Swift to Tasmania, where he was considered, and rightly so, to be a political prisoner (a ‘Ticket of Leave’ inmate) which meant he could build his own ‘cell’ on a designated piece of land that he could farm provided he donated an agreed number of hours each week for State use. In early 1852, Thomas Francis Meagher escaped and made his way to New Haven, in Connecticut, America, and travelled from there to a hero’s welcome in New York. This fine orator, newspaper writer, lawyer, revolutionary, Irish POW, soldier in the American civil war and acting Governor of Montana died (in mysterious circumstances – he drowned after ‘falling off’ a Missouri River steamboat) on the 1st of July 1867 at 44 years of age. Once, when asked about his ‘crimes’, he replied – “Judged by the law of England, I know this ‘crime’ entails upon me the penalty of death ; but the history of Ireland explains that ‘crime’ and justifies it.”


This brave man dedicated twenty-four of his forty-four years on this earth to challenging British misrule in Ireland and, while it can be said without doubt that Thomas Francis Meagher did his best, a ‘crime’ does remain to be resolved.





‘THE CULT OF THE FALSE PROPHETS…’


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



The oldest of these newspapers, ‘The Irish Press’, still presents an appearance of representing republican ideals, but ‘The Sunday Press’ newspaper dilutes these with a big splash of the worst elements in Anglo-American culture.


‘The Evening Press’ newspaper, its latest publication, seems to say that republicanism and nationality are dead, and that Fianna Fail itself is in danger of death, and to avert the latter ‘calamity’ there is sought the votes of the degenerate, the method being to degenerate them still further, with disc-jockey and dance-hall ‘culture’.


‘The Irish Times’ newspaper, to give it its due, stands for some kind of conception of Irish nationality. ‘The Evening Press’ falls short of the standards of the ex-unionist newspaper. Those three newspapers were founded at different periods in the life of Fianna Fail, with the earliest still retaining something of the true Republican Movement from which Fianna Fail seceded, but the latter illustrating the decline and fall of a movement which has severed its connection with the source of its strength… (MORE LATER.)





ON THIS DATE (1ST JULY) 123 YEARS AGO : IRISH GUERRILLA LEADER BORN.

“On an extremely cold, wet night, the men began moving to Kilmichael to take on the dreaded Auxiliaries. All IRA positions were occupied at 9am. The hours passed slowly. Towards evening the gloom deepened over the bleak Kilmichael countryside. At 4.05 pm. an IRA scout signaled the enemy’s approach.


The first lorry came round the bend into the ambush position. Tom Barry, dressed in military style uniform stepped onto the road with his hand up. The driver gradually slowed down. When it was 35 yards from the Volunteers command post a Mills’ bomb was thrown by Barry and simultaneously a whistle blew signalling the beginning of the ambush. The bomb landed in the driver’s seat of the uncovered lorry. As it exploded, rifle shots rang out. The lorry, its driver dead, moved forward until it stopped a few yards from the small stone wall in front of the command post. While some of the Auxiliaries were firing from the lorry, others were on the road and the fighting was hand-to-hand. Revolvers were used at point blank range, and at times, rifle butts replaced rifle shots. The Auxiliaries were cursing and yelling as they fought, but the IRA coldly outfought them. In less than five minutes nine Auxiliaries were dead or dying. Barry and the three men beside him at the Command Post, moved towards the second lorry…” (from here.)


“Many statements have been made by Ministers and Generals in various countries on the necessity for long periods of training before even an infantry soldier is ready for action. This is utter nonsense when applied to volunteers for guerilla warfare. After only one week of collective training, his Flying Column of intelligent and courageous fighters was fit to meet an equal number of soldiers from any regular army in the world, and hold its own in battle, if not in barrack-yard ceremonials”. – Tom Barry, ‘Guerilla Days in Ireland’.


“They said I was ruthless, daring, savage, blood thirsty, even heartless. The clergy called me and my comrades murderers ; but the British were met with their own weapons. They had gone in the mire to destroy us and our nation and down after them we had to go” – Tom Barry.

And, four months later, Tom Barry (pictured, in 1921) was again active in an equally successful engagement with British forces – in the early hours of Saturday, 19th March 1921, under the command of Tom Barry (the son of an RIC officer who had retired to become a shopkeeper) and Liam Deasy (who, within less than two years afterwards, signed a Free State ‘pledge’ in exchange for his life), the West Cork Flying Column of the IRA turned the tables on a British Army and RIC column at Crossbarry, situated about twelve miles south-west of Cork city, despite being outnumbered ten-to-one.


During the hour-long firefight, in which 104 IRA Volunteers (each carrying approximately 40 rounds of ammunition) successfully fought their way out of a ‘pincer’-type movement by about 1,200 enemy troops, consisting of British soldiers from the Hampshire and Essex Regiments, Black and Tans and RIC men, three IRA men were killed in action (Peter Monahan, Jeremiah O’Leary and Con Daly) and three others were wounded. Reports varied in relation to British casualties but it seems certain that at least ten of their soldiers were killed and three wounded (more here).


In an interview he gave a number of years later, Tom Barry recalled how “..about two hours had elapsed since the opening of the fight. We were in possession of the countryside, no British were visible and our task was completed. The whole Column was drawn up in line of sections and told they had done well..” – and they had indeed ‘done well’, only to witness, within months, their efforts (ab)used by those who yearned for a political career, which they were given by Westminster in return for their surrender. But, thankfully, although still outnumbered, a republican force still exists to this day.


Tom Barry was born on this date (1st July, 1897) – 123 years ago. He died, at 83 years of age, on the 2nd July, 1980.





‘FREEDOM OF INFORMATION OR FUMBLING OF INFORMATION?’

By Paul O’Brien.


From ‘The Magill Annual’, 2002.


(‘1169’ comment – Interesting article, considering the recent changes to this particular piece of State legislation.)



An FOI (‘Freedom Of Information’) request, forwarded to each of the 15 government departments earlier this year, was simple – ‘Magill wishes to apply, under the FOI Act 1997, for information relating to the following : statistics concerning sexual harassment and/or sexual discrimination claims by members of the department since the FOI Act came into effect.’ The request asked for a break-down of complaints by gender, details of what (if any) investigations were undertaken and details of what (if any) disciplinary action was taken. It was done in the expectation that there is coherency in the Civil Service’s approach to FOI requests.


But the responses to the FOI request were very different ; a number of departments responded simply by saying there were no such recorded cases since the FOI Act came into effect in 1997. One department said it would release the records considered appropriate, provided ‘Magill’ paid a fee of £33 for research and retrieval of records, but another department indicated it was only likely to charge if the fee exceeded £40! Then there were departments that refused information on existing cases for a number of reasons, including that – ‘…disclosure would prejudice the effectiveness of investigations or inquiries conducted by or on behalf of the department..’


‘Magill’ was also told that – ‘..disclosure would have a significant adverse effect on the performance of the department of its functions relating to management..’ and – ‘..such information is confidential..’, ‘..such information is personal information..’.


In contrast, other departments released details on the number of cases and brief outlines of them. One department, for example, said there had been two cases, that it had carried out formal investigations into both, that in one the complaint was upheld and in the other it was considered vexatious, that action was taken in both and that further legal action was anticipated… (MORE LATER.)





POLITICAL ‘WINNERS’ ARE/AND ‘LOSERS’ IN A CORRUPT STATE.

On Saturday last, the 27th June 2020, a ‘new’ political administration for this State took up Office in Leinster House, comprising the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green parties. The Republican Movement issued the following statement in relation to same –


‘NEW 26-COUNTY CABINET UNDERLINES MARGINALISATION OF WESTERN AND RURAL IRELAND :


The composition of the new 26-County cabinet underlines the highly centralised nature of the 26-County state and the ongoing marginalisation of western and rural Ireland. A whole swathe of the western seaboard from Donegal to Limerick will be without representation at the cabinet table, while six of the 15 ministers are Dublin based. Also in keeping with the long standing 26-County neglect of the Gaeltacht and failure to promote and develop the Irish language, ministerial responsibility for the Gaeltacht has been relegated to one of six areas of responsibility given to Green minister Catherine Martin.


All of this is in stark contrast to the very real democratic decentralisation of power and decision making that is set out in SInn Féin Poblachtach’s Éire Nua programme. Under Éire Nua’s proposals for a Federal Ireland each province would have its own administration with real power and responsibility for economic and social development, employment, health and education within the province. This would ensure two things. Firstly, that those making the decisions are directly accountable to the people affected by them and are based in the regions affected. Secondly, that ensures that those making the decisions are in tune with the needs of their particular province, region and community.


Currently rural Ireland is in fear and trepidation that largely urban based Green ministers with no feeling for, or understanding of rural Ireland are set to further compound the ongoing neglect of rural Ireland. For instance, under Éire Nua the people of rural Ireland including the Gaeltacht regions and the islands would be fully represented and involved in the making of, and implementation of the decisions that affect them. Likewise, urban areas affected by high unemployment, social exclusion and drug abuse would be involved directly in the rejuvenation and administration of their communities.


Unlike the present partitionist setup, Éire Nua is about real participatory democracy and not merely paying lip service to the needs and demands of the people every five years. A New Ireland would not be simply about jobs for the boys or girls, the dispensing of political favours by the local TD or minister like some feudal lord of old. Real democracy involves all the people including those currently marginalised from the centre of the economy and society both urban and rural. The incoming 26-County administration is simply the same stale old wine in new bottles. The type of radical, creative and innovative thinking and action that is required will never come from parties that are wedded to the status quo. The Ireland envisaged in the 1916 Proclamation and the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil will never emerge from Leinster House. Sinn Féin Poblachtach is proud to put Éire Nua forward as a credible alternative to a system that has delivered nothing but failure and betrayal to the Irish people for 100 years.’


Incidentally, the 8th February 2020 election was to elect members to the 31st Leinster House assembly and not, as declared by all and sundry, to “the 33rd Dáil Éireann”. That latter term is a spoof, a spin, ignorant of the true position, deliberate misdirection and smoke and mirrors, like the outcome of the election itself, apparently – Mary Lou McDonald declared after the results were known that “Sinn Fein (sic) has won the election…” (from here) and “It’s official. Sinn Fein (sic) won the election..” (from here).


Yet, as ‘winners’, they are unable to form an administration without the help of the ‘losers’!





‘UNION JACK TORN DOWN’.

From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.


During the ‘World Ploughing Championship’ at Killarney, the ‘Esso Petrol Company’ had the flags of the competing nations flying on separate poles at the Lake Hotel, including the ‘Union Jack’. They were under strong CID protection day and night but, at 5.30pm on Sunday evening, October 10th, the ‘Union Jack’ was torn from its post just before a big dinner in honour of the ploughing teams. This incident was not published in any of the daily newspapers or the local press.


During August week the ‘Union Jack’ was flying from the Russell Court Hotel in Dublin, under police protection. At the Horse Show the same flag was carried in parade by a member of the Free State Army and – during the same week – cyclists taking part in a ‘Round Ireland’ race were stopped at the border and compelled by the RUC to remove small Tricolour pennants on their bikes! (END of ‘Union Jack Torn Down’. NEXT – ‘For Peace’, from the same source. )



Thanks for reading – Sharon and the ‘1169’ team. Stay safe, and ‘play’ safe ; even if that means keeping a sensible distance from yourself…!




About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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