On the 11th of November in 1913 in Dublin, in the then 68-year-old Wynn’s Hotel on Lower Abbey Street, a group of Irishmen and women held a meeting to discuss the formation of an ‘Irish National Volunteer Force’. Those present at that meeting and/or at five other such meetings which were held immediately afterwards in the space of a two-week period, included Sean Fitzgibbon, John Gore, Michael J Judge, James Lenehan, Michael Lonergan, Peadar Macken, Seamus O’Connor, Colm O’Loughlin, Peter O’Reilly, Robert Page, George Walsh, Peadar White and Padraig O’Riain, amongst others (all of whom were well known in Irish nationalist circles ie Sinn Féin, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Éireann, the Gaelic League, the IRB, the Irish Citizen Army, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish Parliamentary Party and the United Irish League).

Then, on the 25th November 1913 – 107 years ago on this date – the inaugural enrolment meeting for the ‘Irish Volunteers’ was held at the Rotunda Rink in Dublin, to “secure the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland”. That meeting was overseen by a Provisional Committee consisting of thirty members, all of whom had been elected at the above-mentioned meetings. A week previous to the formation of the ‘Irish Volunteers’, Jim Larkin and James Connolly had formed the ‘Irish Citizen Army’, and both groups were in competition for members, the former on a 32-county basis whereas the latter was confined to the Leinster area, although attempts were made, through trade union structures, to recruit in Cork, Belfast, Derry, Sligo, Limerick, Kilkenny, Waterford, Dundalk, Galway and Wexford, but with no success. Also, those joining the ‘Volunteers’ were supplied with a uniform and other equipment while those joining the ‘ICA’ had to purchase same themselves.

Relations between the two organisations were not the best, as the ‘Volunteers’ allowed, for instance, employers to join and this at a time when employees and other trade unionists would most likely be ‘ICA’ members or supporters and, actually, when the ‘Volunteers’ were in conference for the first time (25th November 1913) ‘ICA’ members and supporters loudly made their presence felt and they also objected in print – their first leaflet stated that the ‘Volunteers’ were controlled by those who were opposed not only to trade unionism but also to workers rights re conditions etc.

Within a few months, however, the animosity had lessened to the extent that there was some official co-operation between both groups at the Wolfe Tone commemoration in June 1914 and again in October that year during the events held to commemorate Charles Stewart Parnell, and both groups joined forces at Easter 1916 and took part side-by-side in the 1916 Rising. ‘Competitors’, if you like, working around their differences to focus on the one true enemy – Westminster, and its military and political forces in Ireland.


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

Opening speech by the Chief Scout, NFE –

“As the eyes of the nation once again swing upon the Republican Movement it is inevitable that many who are now returning to their old ideals will remember almost as inevitably before all other things their days in the Fianna. This is because the deeds of childhood and the happiness of youth spent in noble company will always outlive other memories.

We of Fianna must now take stock of our relative position in the Movement and ask ourselves where do we stand. Are we capable of taking our position again in Ireland as we did in the past? That position which was filled so nobly and so well in the past by all those who have passed through our ranks. Our ideal of loyality, service and honour must be ever before us. Remembering the deeds of the first Fianna who defended our land from the first invaders, let us strengthen ourselves, physically and spirtually, living daily our Code of Honour, putting our God and our Country before ourselves so that we will always be a source of inspiration to the youth of our country, so that we may play the noble part which Fianna has always played in defence of Ireland’s freedom and independence.”

The annual Ard Fheis of Fianna Éireann was held in Number 9 North Frederick Street, Dublin, on Sunday, 8th May, 1955. Delegates attended from the different units throughout the country and Seoirse Dearle, Ath Cliath, was elected as Chief Scout and, in the course of an address, he called on all units to assist the efforts of the incoming Headquarters Staff and Ard Coiste in their plans for reorganisation. The delegates were unanimous in approving of the Fianna uniform and of the raising of the standard of Scouting in general… (MORE LATER.)


On the 25th November 1921 – 99 years ago on this date – Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith arrived in Dublin, from London, where they had taken part in negotiations on a ‘Peace Treaty’ with the British and one of the clauses that caused dissension in the ranks of the Irish republicans was a British demand that ‘Ireland shall recognise the British Crown for the purposes of the Association as symbol and accepted head of the combination of Associated States’.

The military and political sections of the republican movement were split over what the British demanded and what they should be given and Collins, among others, sensed that an ‘in-house’ compromise was not going to be reached and, by February 1922, he was openly recruiting for a new ‘National Army’ from among those who, like himself, reluctantly (?) accepted the ‘Peace Treaty’ : he was assembling, in effect, an armed military junta in Ireland to enforce British demands re their ‘Treaty’. Collins and his people assured Westminster that they would secure the ‘Treaty’ and all it encompassed and, on the 6th December 1921, the ‘Treaty’, which partitioned Ireland, was signed.

The British began to withdraw their own proper soldiers (as opposed to their surrogates, the Free State Army) from the bases which they had been occupying and some of these bases were then taken over by Irish republicans and, in late June 1922, the new Free State Army borrowed heavy weaponry from their new allies in Westminster and proceeded to enforce the British writ in Ireland.

The rest, as they say, is history but, incredibly, the lessons learned remain unheeded by some (and more so by others) but have been taken on board by republicans who continue to campaign for a full British military and political withdrawal from Ireland, despite the best efforts of the above-linked advocates of accommodation.


Confidence in the Garda Siochana continues to erode as more incidents of questionable Garda ‘evidence’ emerge.

By Sandra Mara.

From ‘The Magill Annual’, 2002.

The “attached” was a letter marked ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ from the Garda Siochana Chief Superintendent’s Office, Letterkenny Division of Donegal, dated 27th February 1998, entitled – ‘Re Campaign to discredit Gardai in Donegal Division’. It said –

‘I refer to the attempts to discredit gardai from the Division and other members involved in the Barron investigation. There is information to hand to suggest that Frank McBrearty (Senior) from Raphoe is financing a campaign to discredit members of the force. The campaign is being operated mostly by Mr Billy Flynn, and sometimes trading as ‘Zimmerman & Co’ from Enfield, County Meath.

Members of your distract force, and gardai who assisted in the investigation into Richard Barron’s death, should be notified of this matter, and directed to report any incidents or unusual contact that may occur either with Mr McBrearty and his extended family or Mr Billy Flynn and his employees. This document is for garda use only and is confidential.” The letter was signed by Chief Superintendent DN Fitzpatrick.

The existence of these circulars came to the attention of the McBrearty’s legal team and, on six occasions when Frank McBrearty applied for them in pursuance of his case, gardai denied their existence. Martin Giblin SC told the High Court that Superintendent Lennon had also denied their existence. Lennon was subsequently shown to have been the author of one of the circulars and, in July 2001, he was transferred to administrative duties at Garda Headquarters in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.

Chief Superintendent Denis Fitzpatrick, who issued the controversial Divisional Circular in February 1998, was transferred to the ‘National (sic) Traffic Policy Bureau’ in Dublin and three other officers, including Detective Superintendent John McGinley and two officers of garda rank, were also transferred in an almost unprecedented move. It was the first time for over twenty years that gardai in such numbers and of such high rank had been transferred following internal inquiries… (MORE LATER.)


On the 25th November 1925 – 95 years ago on this date – the then Free State President, William Cosgrave, and his ‘Minister for Home Affairs’, Kevin O’Higgins, arrived in Downing Street in London for a meeting with British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and Stormont ‘Prime Minister’ ‘Sir’ James Craig. Within nine days (ie by the 3rd December 1925), the Free Staters had been ‘sold’ a(…nother!) ‘pup’ by the British.

On the 3rd December 1925, all those present at a meeting (ie all those mentioned above) agreed that the ‘border’, as fixed 5 years earlier in the ‘1920 Government of Ireland Act’ and as stated in the 1921 Treaty of Surrender, would so remain, and an agreement was signed to that effect by those present. But the British, no doubt smelling fear and relief at the same time from the Free Staters, wanted more ‘concessions’ : they pushed for, and got , a separate agreement that the ‘Council of Ireland’ (a ‘talking-shop’ which the 1921 Treaty promised to set-up) be scrapped (even though it had not, in fact, ever been established!) and, as a final insult to the Free State ‘negotiators’, the British demanded that they repay the compensation which Westminster had paid to them for damage which the British themselves had caused in Ireland during the Black and Tan War!

And, in for a (British) penny, in for a (British) pound – no doubt by now realising the ‘calibre’ of the men they were up against, the British also insisted, and again, got, a commitment from the Free Staters that they would continue to pay land annuities to the British Exchequer!

The above shambles, and many others, occurred during ‘negotiations’ between Westminster and the then newly-minted Free State administration during meetings which were held as part of the ‘Boundary Commission’ remit, a useless talking shop which the Staters shamelessly sold to their own followers as a ‘political vehicle’ which they could use to wring concessions from Westminster. For instance, On 2nd February 1922, a meeting was held between Michael Collins and the Stormont ‘Prime Minister’, ‘Sir’ James Craig. Voices were raised over the issue/structure/terms of reference of the Boundary Commission, and the meeting ended abruptly over the matter. However, ‘spin’ and ‘PR’ (media manipulation) was immediately employed by both sides – at a press conference following that failed meeting, ‘Sir’ James Craig (Stormont ‘PM’) claimed that the British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, had assured him that the Boundary Commission “…would deal only with minor rectifications of the boundary ..” ; in effect, that the Boundary Commission was a useless ‘talking-shop’ which had only been set-up to help the Free Staters to ‘sell’ the ‘six County idea’ to other Free Staters.

However, Michael Collins claimed that he had left that same meeting with a promise, from the British, “…of almost half of Northern Ireland (sic) including the counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone, large parts of Antrim and Down, Derry City, Enniskillen and Newry.” Obviously, both men could not have been right ; it is straightforward to state that the ‘Boundary Commission’ idea was a ‘sweetener’, if you like, to be used by both sides to convince their respective ‘flock’ that the British were really on their side!

We wrote about that ‘Commission’ and all its failings, in consecutive posts, beginning here (click on the ‘Newer Post’ link for part 2, and same again for part 3 etc).


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.

A limestone Memorial was unveiled on Sunday, 3rd October 1954, at Knockanes, Headfort, County Kerry, to the memory of Section Commander Michael O’ Sullivan IRA, Cloghane, who was shot by Free State forces during the Civil War. There was a very large crowd present at the unveiling and Mrs P. Riordan, NT, Killala – a sister to the late Section Commander M O’Sullivan – recited a decade of the Rosary in Irish.

Mr Jeremiah Donoghue, Lacca, Killarney, presided and said – “We are assembled here today to pay tribute to a soldier of the IRA ; Section Commander Mick O’ Sullivan, who gave his life in this spot in the fight for freedom. We should bear in mind that in erecting this Memorial and in paying tribute such as this we are not paying the debt we owe him. Only when the youth of Ireland will give their allegiance to the IRA as he did, and complete the task he left unfinished will the debt we owe him be repaid. It is only fitting that the task of unveiling and delivering the oration should be performed by men who through all these years haven’t faltered in their allegiance to the principles this soldier cherished so dearly.”

Mr Mick Lynch, The Spa, Tralee, said – “He felt very honoured to be asked to perform the unveiling ceremony to his comrade, Mick O’Sullivan, who gave his life in defence of the Republic. I and all his comrades who knew him knew of no greater and fearless a soldier, and I appeal to all his comrades and especially to the young men to remain faithful to the Cause for which he laid down his life. That Cause still remains unfinished and until Ireland is free, men like Mick O’Sullivan will give their lives ’till the last British soldier is driven out of Ireland…” (MORE LATER.)


The 44th successive Cabhair Christmas Swim (1976-2020) will, as usual, be held on Christmas Day at 12 Noon at the 3rd Lock of the Grand Canal, in Dublin (opposite the Kelly’s/Blackhorse Inn building in Inchicore, Dublin 8), but a ‘Plan B’ has been put in place by the organisers to take account of the circumstances brought about by the Covid 19 issue.

There are, as stated in early October on this blog, two possible scenarios regarding this event : it either goes ahead in full ‘party’-type mode ie music, dancing, ‘soup’ for the adults (!), crowds etc etc, presuming that, by the 25th December 2020, Covid will have been dealth with, or the Swim will take place in a restrained manner to take account of Covid-enforced social distancing and other common-sense guidelines ie just the ‘bare bones’ – a reduced number of swimmers, one family member with each swimmer, a much-reduced Cabhair Crew on the ground and the public being asked to observe from a safe distance (ie the bridge, or further up the canal), with no foodstuffs, no ‘lemonade or soup’ (!) , no music etc on site, which should help to prevent a crowd from gathering at the actual Swim spot.

What is certain, however, is that, for the 44th successive year, the Swim will be going ahead, in one format or the other!

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

Not working from home? Not going into the job because it’s no longer there? Working part-time? Have you lost your job because of the Covid lockdowns? Are you, like many others, behind with the rent or mortgage? Are you trying to decide between paying the gas bill or putting food on the table? No doubt you’ll be delighted to know that those in Leinster House you voted for have no such concerns, thanks to your support for them. We hope you’ll remember that when next they come seeking your support at the next election. Ask them how come they themselves haven’t suffered financially if, indeed, ‘we are all in this together’? Then vote for them, or maybe a differently-branded one of them ; hopefully, you’ll eventually come to the conclusion that it’s the whole political system that’s broken in this State, regardless of the ‘brand’ of politician that seeks your vote to operate same.

About 11sixtynine

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