THE O’RAHILLY : NATIONLESS AND NOW HOMELESS.
Joseph O’Rahilly (‘The O’Rahilly’) was born in Ballylongford, in County Kerry, on the 22nd April, 1875. He had a busy, well-travelled and interesting life and took part in the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, during which he was killed in the fighting.
“Friday April, 29 1916. The General Post Office in Dublin, occupied on the Monday as the headquarters of republican insurrection, was burning fiercely. The insurgents inside had decided they had to make their escape across Henry Street to the network of small houses and shops on Moore Street. A small party of twenty armed men dashed across the open street to establish a toehold there and to clear out a British barricade. At their head was a distinguished looking gentleman in green uniform, complete with Victorian moustache and sword.
The charging party was hit by volleys of British bullets from the barricades on both sides. Four Volunteers were killed outright. Their leader, the moustached gentleman, fell wounded in the face. He managed to drag himself out of the line of fire to Sackville Lane, where he lay, bleeding, grievously injured. His name was Michael O’Rahilly…” (from here.)
More information re ‘The O’Rahilly’ himself – ‘His interest in Irish history led him slowly and inexorably towards nationalism. The first indication of nationalism is in a letters controversy in 1899 in the European edition of the New York Herald, following celebrations of Queen Victoria’s 80th birthday. Rahilly criticised the celebrations, pointing out the miseries her reign had inflicted on Ireland. Some of his criticism was censored by the paper as too offensive..’ – can be read here, and his family history can be read here, including a local [Clondalkin] connection : ‘Aodogán and Marion (O’Rahilly) lived Moreen, Clondalkin, Co.Dublin (junction of Belgard Rd and Naas Rd, opposite Newlands golf course, townland of Mooreenaruggan). They spelt house “Moreen”, but it is now spelt “Mooreen”. The house was built 1936. Aodogán listed as living there by [Thom’s, 1938]. The house website says: “In 1932, in America” [Aodogán and Marion] “purchased plans for use in building their new home, Mooreen House. The design was already famous and had been awarded the title House of the Year, and a full-scale replica was constructed in Macy’s New York Department Store…”‘. But read it quickly, in case it, too, vanishes –
‘Dublin City Council is investigating the circumstances surrounding the demolition of the former home of a 1916 Rising leader in Ballsbridge this morning (Tuesday, 29th September 2020). The property at 40 Herbert Park, which once belonged to The O’Rahilly, was bulldozed by a company developing the site at around 6.30am this morning. The site and two adjoining addresses at 36 and 38 Herbert Park are set to be developed into 105 apartments and the extension of an aparthotel by Derryroe Limited, a company owned by the Kennedy and McSharry families…’ (from here.)
Another State-inspired atrocity against our history, in the vein of, and for the same motive (€€€) as Hume Street, Wood Quay and Archers Garage. A corrupt State desecrating a part of its own history which it is ashamed of. Shame on the political system and those that operate same for paying lip-service to our historic past while counting the contents of their brown envelopes at the same time.
‘SING of The O’Rahilly,
Do not deny his right;
Sing a “The” before his name;
Allow that he, despite
All those learned historians,
Established it for good;
He wrote out that word himself,
He christened himself with blood.
How goes the weather?
Sing of The O’Rahilly
That had such little sense
He told Pearse and Connolly
He’d gone to great expense
Keeping all the Kerry men
Out of that crazy fight;
That he might be there himself
Had travelled half the night.
How goes the weather?
“Am I such a craven that
I should not get the word
But for what some travelling man
Had heard I had not heard?”
Then on Pearse and Connolly
He fixed a bitter look:
“Because I helped to wind the clock
I come to hear it strike.”
How goes the weather?
What remains to sing about
But of the death he met
Stretched under a doorway
Somewhere off Henry Street;
They that found him found upon
The door above his head
“Here died The O’Rahilly.
R.I.P.” writ in blood.
How goes the weather?
(By William Butler Yeats.)
ON THIS DATE (30TH SEPTEMBER) 26 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF AN IRISH REPUBLICAN LEGEND.
Michael Flannery (pictured) – born in North Tipperary in 1902, died in New York on the 30th September 1994, age 92. He joined the Irish Volunteers in 1916 (as did his brother, Peter) and often recounted how, as a teenage POW in a British prison in Ireland that year, he stood on a bucket at the window in his cell and watched the storm clouds gather over Dublin as the men of the Rising were executed.
He had three brothers and three sisters but spent his youth separated from them and the rest of his family – he was constantly ‘on the run’ from the British and, still only in his early teens, was known as a skilled guerrilla fighter, having learned to kill enemy forces “…without regret and without bitterness. I felt anger but not bitterness towards them. I hated their actions but always said ‘God have mercy on your soul’ as they died.” One of those who served with him, Jack Moloney, described him as “..cool as a cucumber under fire. He had brains to burn, and he never got angry. You couldn’t shake him.”
He stayed through to the Republic and fought for the Anti-Treaty side but, on the 11th November 1922, he was captured in Tipperary by Free State soldiers and spent nearly a year and a half in Mountjoy Prison (C Wing) during which time he witnessed the execution of IRA men like Dick Barrett, Joe McKelvey, Liam Mellowes and Rory O’Connor. His internment was interspersed with periods of solitary confinement and culminated in a 28 day hunger strike during which he was transferred to the Curragh prison camp in Kildare (Tintown camp #3, prisoner #886).
He was eventually released on the 1st May 1924 and went to America in 1927 on behalf of the Republican Movement, sailing from Cobh in Cork and arriving in New York on the 14th February of that year. His job and intention was to help to organise, firstly, those in New York who, like himself, had remained true to Irish republicanism. He married Margaret Mary Egan ((known as ‘Pearl’) in Rockville Center, New York in 1928, and settled in Jackson Heights in that city, earning a wage as an insurance actuarial. Tipperary-born Margaret was a research chemist, educated at University College Dublin and University of Geneva. The couple had no children, but helped to raise and educate fourteen of their nephews and nieces both in Ireland and America.
As part of his work for the Movement, he formed the ‘Congress for Irish Freedom’, and then the New York-based ‘Irish Northern Aid Committee’ (‘Noraid’) . In 1982, Michael Flannery and four other Noraid officials (Thomas Falvey, Daniel Gormley, George Harrison and Patrick Mullin) were charged in New York of gunrunning to the I.R.A. but were subsequently acquitted. The trial of the ‘Brooklyn Five’ ran from 23rd September to 5th November, during which the defence reportedly asserted that the men were acting at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency. He died in New York on the 30th September 1994 – 26 years ago on this date – and is buried in Mount Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Flushing, New York with his wife Margaret, who died on the 12th November 1991.
The ‘National Irish Freedom Committee’ (‘Cumann Na Saoirse Náisiúnta’) , which he co-founded in 1987, hold an annual testimonial awards dinner in Astoria, New York, every spring at which the ‘Michael Flannery Spirit of Freedom Award’ and the ‘Pearl Flannery Humanities Award’ are presented.
Finally, I couldn’t mention Michael without also commending those who, already referenced, above, worked alongside him in supporting the Cause of Irish republicanism – Pat Mullin, George Harrison, Tom Falvey and Danny Gormley. Legends all!
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955.
You Protestants of Ulster attack republicanism because you say it is allied to Catholicism and a victory for republicanism would result in religious discrimination against you. But are you aware that the Catholics assail the cause of republicanism because they allege it is dominated by sinister Protestant influences and, mind you, the Catholics can point to the fact that Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet, Thomas Davis, John Mitchell and a host of other republican leaders down through the years were Protestants?
Political opponents, Catholics and Protestants alike, criticise republicans because they uphold the right and maintain the tradition of fighting for freedom. Irish republicans are not segregated into particular religious denominations but rather are united under the one banner of freedom – freedom in all its thousand spheres. The freedom of Irishmen (sic) to govern their own nation. The freedom of the workers from the whims and dictates of their employers. The freedom of families and individuals from the worry and care now burthening them as a result of the multi-social evils which infest this generation.
The freedom of individuals to follow the guidance of their own consciences ; everyone will naturally retain and pursue their own religious faith in a republican Ireland but religious bigotry and antagonism provoked by the vested interests of rich property owners and corrupt party politicians shall be as it is at present, something alien to the teaching and practice of Irish republicanism… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (30TH SEPTEMBER) 27 YEARS AGO : EX-REPUBLICANS TRIP THEMSELVES UP (ONCE AGAIN!).
Gerry Adams ( aka ‘Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead’), pictured, looking at his “national responsibility”.
“Since the partition of Ireland, successive Dublin governments have run away from the Northern problem and thus have been part of the problem. Now it must become part of the solution. Dublin must assume its national responsibility” – from the Provisional Sinn Féin newspaper ‘AP/RN’, 30th September 1993, page 6, ‘editorial column’. The Leinster House administration (‘Dublin government’) claims jurisdiction over the 26-county State only ; since when has it had a “national responsibility”?
That Kildare Street political administration was established, by the British, almost 100 years ago specifically to assume ‘responsibility’ for the Free State, not for the country ie ‘national responsibility’ was never its remit. But when you lie down with political dogs you get up with their political fleas.
‘IS IT TIME TO ASK QUESTIONS OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION?’
By John Drennan.
From ‘The Magill Annual’, 2002.
We have always been a society with a facility for the creation of myths. However, not even the most dewy-eyed devotee of the dreams of the Celtic Twilight could have invented the present status of the legal profession in Ireland. The dominant viewpoint is that barristers are currently playing a crucial role in exorcising political corruption in Ireland, as dodgy politicians, bankers and others experience the modern-day equivalent of the religious missions of the 1950’s.
Within the Dail (sic) politicians defer to them, whilst within the media no one seriously questions practitioners of the law because they are seen to be beyond reproof and rather powerful enemies. Whispers of discontent about the salaries of top barristers in cases funded by the taxpayer tend to be no more than just whispers – the kind of bugbear so beloved of taxi drivers and lefty students. Most other people simply accept the payment of fees of £1,500 per day to each senior counsel as a necessary evil in a society where truth lies at the bottom of a tribunal.
Yet in other, more fundamental ways, certain members of the legal profession have questions to answer, but will almost certainly never be forced to do so by our current social consensus. Certainly, there have been legal actions which have been far from edifying sights. The cessation of the mini CTC signalling system inquiry, in particular, was not impressive to watch. There, we were treated to the unique claim that the constitutional rights of a dead person should stop a public inquiry. Most citizens would like to see these types of inquiries move ahead – and positive results achieved. Yet this hasn’t been the case with many… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (30TH SEPTEMBER) 78 YEARS AGO : FREE STATE RAIDING PARTY STORM WEDDING RECEPTION.
Ireland, 1942 : IRA Volunteers Paddy Dermody (who was the then Commanding Officer of the IRA’s Eastern Command) and Harry White were both on the run from the Free Staters and, on the 30th September, 1942 – 78 years ago on this date – decided to ‘take a day off’ and attend a wedding reception in a house near Mount Nugent in Cavan : Paddy’s sister, Jane, was getting married that day to Michael Tuite, a small farmer (their union produced eleven children – nine sons and two daughters). The house reception was in full swing when an armed Free State raiding party burst in, acting on information from two of their own type who had been observing proceedings and had seen the two IRA men enter the house.
A gun battle said to be reminiscent to that of any such encounter during the 1920’s ensued and one of the musician’s, a man named Finnegan, was shot in the leg. A Free State Detective, a Mr. M.J. Walsh, was in the house and moved past a window when one of his colleagues outside mistakingly fired at him, a wound from which he died later, in hospital. At the same time, Paddy Dermody was killed instantly by a bullet in the back, just as he and Harry White were about to try and escape through a different window.
Harry White was on his own now, in a house which was surrounded by armed Staters, some of whom were coming in. He dived through a window into the night and shot his way through an armed cordon : hit twice in the leg, he collapsed in a clump of whins half-a-mile from the house. For two cold October nights he lay wounded under the stars as Free State soldiers scoured the area for him. A sympathetic soldier found him, fed him, got him to shelter and finally escorted him by bicycle to Dublin – he was back on active service for the IRA.
Later on that same month (October, 1942) as part of what the Free Staters called ‘an ongoing investigation into major criminal activity’, a detective Garda Mordaunt was one of a number of armed Free Staters who went to house number 14 on Holly Park in Donnycarney, Dublin, to arrest a group of wanted men. Just prior to the arrival of the Gardai the men escaped from the house and during the course of a search for them detective Garda Mordaunt became separated from his colleagues. It was a short time later that he was missed, and on a search being made for him, his body was discovered in the garden of a house in an adjoining street – he had been fatally wounded by a firearm and Harry White was one of those considered to be responsible.
It was October 1946 before Harry White was finally captured on a lonely mountain farm on the Derry side of the Sperrins. Four days later, he was ‘released’ from Crumlin Road Jail, bundled into an RUC car and driven to a bridge on the Armagh-Monaghan road : a Garda car stopped on the other side and he was bundled across the border without the slightest pretence of judicial process. Six weeks later, at the ‘Special Criminal Court’ in Dublin, he was sentenced to death. Sean McBride was his defence counsel and, under cross-examination, a detective admitted he and his companions had fired on three men in a passageway near the house.
Of thirty to forty bullets fired in the lane, only two were ever produced – neither of those was the bullet that killed State detective Mordaunt. Instead, a pathologist claimed that the hole in Mordaunt’s skull was too small to have been made by a shot from any of the Gardai’s .45 revolvers, despite the fact there was evidence some had weapons of smaller calibre. Evidence was produced that Garda fire had hit targets well away from the lane. The State Appeal Court reduced Harry White’s conviction to ‘manslaughter’, on the basis that the Gardai had not identified themselves as such before opening fire…(…more on this event can be read here.)
ON THIS DATE (30TH SEPTEMBER) 41 YEARS AGO : SELECTIVE CONDEMNATION FROM ROME.
On the 30th September, 1979, Pope John Paul II, the spiritual head of the Catholic Church, became the first Pope to visit Ireland.
Those half-hoping that such an influential person might use the occasion to highlight the many injustices inflicted by Westminster on the Irish were to be disappointed : instead, we got the opposite – a pro-establishment, pro-Westminster/Free State and anti-Republican rant, during which, in an address to the Irish nation, the man said – “On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and return to the ways of peace…”
No mention of the British military and political presence in Ireland ; no reference to the continuing claim of British jurisdiction over six Irish counties ; not a word about “the paths of violence” which lead to and from Number 10 Downing Street and that other British institution, Leinster House. Condemnation, only, for those attempting to resist foreign occupation. However , we salute those who wear a similar collar and are not afraid to speak the truth – “Sometimes, I’m jealous of the Palestinians. They have one enemy, the Israelis. The Israelis are stealing Palestinian land and the Palestinians are resisting it and so they fight…”
If that particular institution had more people like that active within it, it might not be in the troubled position it’s in today.
ON THIS DATE (30TH SEPTEMBER) 103 YEARS AGO : LET ME CARRY YOUR CROSS FOR IRELAND….
The funeral procession in Dublin, 30th September 1917 (pictured) – 103 years ago on this date – for Thomas Ashe, an IRB leader who died on the 25th September that year, after being force fed by his British jailers – he was the first Irish republican to die as a result of a hunger-strike and, between that year and 1981, twenty-one other Irish republicans died on hunger-strike.
The jury at the inquest into his death found “..that the deceased, Thomas Ashe, according to the medical evidence of Professor McWeeney, Sir Arthur Chance, and Sir Thomas Myles, died from heart failure and congestion of the lungs on the 25th September, 1917 and that his death was caused by the punishment of taking away from the cell bed, bedding and boots and allowing him to be on the cold floor for 50 hours, and then subjecting him to forcible feeding in his weak condition after hunger-striking for five or six days..”
Michael Collins organised the funeral and transformed it into a national demonstration against British misrule in Ireland ; armed Irish Republican Brotherhood Volunteers in full uniform flanked the coffin, followed by 9,000 other IRB Volunteers and approximately 30,000 people lined the streets. A volley of shots was fired over Ashe’s grave, following which Michael Collins stated – “Nothing more remains to be said. That volley which we have just heard is the only speech which it is proper to make over the grave of a dead Fenian .”
The London-based ‘Daily Express’ newspaper perhaps summed it up best when it stated, re the funeral of Thomas Ashe, that what had happened had made ‘100,000 Sinn Féiners out of 100,000 constitutional nationalists.’ The level of support shown gave a boost to Irish republicans, and this was noted by the ‘establishment’ in Westminster – ‘The Daily Mail’ newspaper claimed that, a month earlier, Sinn Féin, despite its electoral successes, had been a waning force. That newspaper said – ‘..It had no practical programme, for the programme of going further than anyone else cannot be so described. It was not making headway. But Sinn Féin today is pretty nearly another name for the vast bulk of youth in Ireland…’
Thomas Patrick Ashe’s activities and interests included cultural and physical force nationalism as well as trade unionism and socialism. He also commanded the 5th Battalion of the Dublin Brigade who won the Battle of Ashbourne on the 29th of April 1916. Born in Lispole, County Kerry on the 12th of January 1885, he was the seventh of ten siblings. He qualified as a teacher in 1905 at De La Salle College, Waterford and after teaching briefly in Kinnard, County Kerry, in 1906 he became principal of Corduff National School in Lusk, County Dublin. Thomas Ashe was a fluent Irish speaker and a member of the Keating branch of the Gaelic League and was an accomplished sportsman and musician setting up the Roundtowers GAA Club as well as helping to establish the Lusk Pipe Band. He was also a talented singer and poet who was committed to Conradh na Gaeilge.
Politically, he was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and established IRB circles in Dublin and Kerry and eventually became President of the Supreme Council in 1917. While he was actively and intellectually nationalist he was also inspired by contemporary socialism. Ashe rejected conservative Home Rule politicians and as part of that rejection he espoused the Labour policies of James Larkin. Writing in a letter to his brother Gregory he said “We are all here on Larkin’s side. He’ll beat hell out of the snobbish, mean, seoinín employers yet, and more power to him”.
Ashe supported the unionisation of north Dublin farm labourers and his activities brought him into conflict with landowners such as Thomas Kettle in 1912. During the infamous lockout in 1913 he was a frequent visitor to Liberty Hall and become a friend of James Connolly. Long prior to its publication in 1916, Thomas Ashe was a practitioner of Connolly’s dictum that “the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland, the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour”. In 1914 Ashe travelled to the United States where he raised a substantial sum of money for both the Gaelic League and the newly formed Irish Volunteers of which he was an early member.
Ashe founded the Volunteers in Lusk and established a firm foundation of practical and theoretical military training. He provided charismatic leadership first as Adjutant and then as O/C (Officer Commanding) the 5th Battalion of the Dublin Brigade. He inspired fierce loyalty and encouraged personal initiative in his junior officers and was therefore able to confidently delegate command to Charlie Weston, Joseph Lawless, Edward Rooney and others during the Rising. Most significantly, he took advantage of the arrival of Richard Mulcahy at Finglas Glen on the Tuesday of the Rising and appointed him second in command. The two men knew one another through the IRB and Gaelic League and Ashe recognized Mulcahy’s tactical abilities. As a result Ashe allowed himself to be persuaded by Mulcahy not to withdraw following the unexpected arrival of the motorised force at the Rath crossroads. At Ashbourne on the 28th of April Ashe also demonstrated great personal courage, first exposing himself to fire while calling on the RIC in the fortified barracks to surrender and then actively leading his Volunteers against the RIC during the Battle.
After the 1916 Rising he was court-martialed (on the 8th of May 1916) and was sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life. He was incarcerated in a variety of English prisons before being released in the June 1917 general amnesty. He immediately returned to Ireland and toured the country reorganising the IRB and inciting civil opposition to British rule. In August 1917, after a speech in Ballinalee, County Longford, he was arrested by the RIC and charged with “speeches calculated to cause disaffection”. He was detained in the Curragh camp and later sentenced to a year’s hard labour in Mountjoy Jail. There he became O/C of the Volunteer prisoners, and demanded prisoner-of-war status. As a result he was punished by the Governor. He went on hunger strike on the 20th September 1917 and five days later died as a result of force-feeding by the prison authorities. He was just 32 years old. The death of Thomas Ashe resulted in POW status being conceded to the Volunteer prisoners two days later.
Thomas Ashe’s funeral was the first public funeral after the Rising and provided a focal point for public disaffection with British rule. His body lay in state in Dublin City Hall before being escorted by armed Volunteers to Glasnevin Cemetery. 30,000 people attended the burial where three volleys were fired over the grave and the Last Post was sounded. While imprisoned in Lewes Jail in 1916, Thomas Ashe had written his poem ‘Let Me Carry Your Cross for Ireland, Lord’ which later provided the inspiration for the Battle of Ashbourne memorial unveiled by Sean T. O’Kelly on Easter Sunday, 26th April 1959 at the Rath Cross in Ashbourne :
Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord
The hour of her trial draws near,
And the pangs and the pains of the sacrifice
May be borne by comrades dear.
But, Lord, take me from the offering throng,
There are many far less prepared,
Through anxious and all as they are to die
That Ireland may be spared.
Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord
My cares in this world are few,
and few are the tears will for me fall
When I go on my way to You.
Spare Oh! Spare to their loved ones dear
The brother and son and sire,
That the cause we love may never die
In the land of our Heart’s desire!
Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!
Let me suffer the pain and shame
I bow my head to their rage and hate,
And I take on myself the blame.
Let them do with my body whate’er they will,
My spirit I offer to You,
That the faithful few who heard her call
May be spared to Roisin Dubh.
Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!
For Ireland weak with tears,
For the aged man of the clouded brow,
And the child of tender years;
For the empty homes of her golden plains,
For the hopes of her future, Too!
Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!
for the cause of Roisin Dubh.
‘THE REPUBLICAN POSITION ; STATEMENT ISSUED BY ÓGLAIGH NA H-ÉIREANN AND SINN FÉIN…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.
The following statement has been released for publication. Please publish it in full or not at all…
The creation and maintenance of political splinter parties is a complete negation of a sincere and genuine purpose aimed at unified efforts to free Ireland.
Except for those who desire leadership in the limelight of party politics, their existence is quite unnecessary. In so far as they purport to cater for those who profess allegiance to republican principals, there is no need for them. Within the scope of the Republican Movement ample provision is made for all who desire to serve the cause dedicated to the achievement of Ireland’s full freedom and the welfare of all her people.
There maintenance serves only to confuse and distract the nationally-minded among our people, to retard progress towards unified action and to serve, substantially and directly, the purpose and interests of those who deny Ireland’s just claim to freedom, and who oppose her liberation from foreign agression. To accord them recognition would not promote or advance the effort towards unified action since their very existence is the acme of disruptive tactics…” (MORE LATER.)
Thanks for reading – Sharon and the ‘1169’ team. Stay stayin’ safe, and ‘playing’ safe!