ON THIS DATE (19TH MAY) 112 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF OWEN LANCELOT ‘SKEFF’.
The inscription on the Sheehy Skeffington headstone reads – ‘Sacred to the memory of Mrs. Rose Skeffington, born Magorrian in Ballykinlar, Co. Down. Died at Ranelagh, Dublin 16th April 1909.
And Francis Sheehy Skeffington her son / murdered in Portobello Barracks April 26th, 1916 and his wife Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, Feminist, Republican, Socialist, Born May 1878 / Died April 1946.
And their son Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington, born May 19th 1909, died June 7th, 1970 who, like them, sought truth / taught reason and knew compassion.’
Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington was born in Lower Leeson Street, in Dublin, on the 19th May 1909 – 112 years ago on this date – into a politically and socially active family (both his parents were in agreement that the child should not be baptised as they were not fully supportive of any particular structured religion) : his father, Francis, was executed by firing squad in Easter Week, 1916, on orders issued by ‘guilty-but-insane’ British Army Captain J.C. Bowen-Colthurst and his mother, Johanna Mary ‘Hanna’, was a social activist and a supporter of the ‘Irregulars’ (although she did briefly flirt, politically, with Fianna Fáil, when they were first spawned).
When he was three years young, his father took him to Mountjoy Jail, in Dublin, to visit his mother, who was a ‘guest’ in that institution for a couple of months, having upset the ‘political establishment’ by her actions in defence of women’s rights : the favour was returned two years later when his mother took him to the same prison to visit his father, who was ‘guesting’ there in payment for his part in the anti-conscription campaign!
As a young man, Owen was educated in America and in Sandford Park School in Dublin and supported himself by teaching the French language in Trinity College in Dublin where he made a name for himself as ‘…a brilliant orator, a fearless champion of civil and human rights, and an inspiring teacher, known simply and affectionately to generations of Trinity students as ‘Skeff’…’
He involved himself in Free State politics and sat in the State Senate on a number of occasions between 1954 and the year he died (from a heart attack), 1970. He would not have found much ‘truth, reason and/or compassion’ in that institution.
‘AITHBHEOCHAINT NA GAEDHILGE.’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955.
Ní gá annseo a rá go bhfuil an sprid náisiúnta lag. Tá sé chómh dona agus a bhí riamh – muna bhfuil sé níos mease. Faoi láthair tá an tír múchta i nGalldachas agus má leannann an sceal mar atá bhféidir nach fada go mbeidh ar Náis iúntacas chómh marbh le h-Art – agus cé raghaidh chun na socraide?
Sé an locht is mó na nach dtuigeann fiú amháin na daoine ar a dtugtar ‘fior-Ghaedhil’ an ceist i gceart.
National Apostacy – what led to this national apostacy? One thing only, a shallow and perverted interpretation of Ireland’s claim to sovereignty! If they have had the audacity to tell you, as they have, that Ireland is free, or worse still, that “this part” (a cursed phrase) of Ireland is free, is it not obvious that such people have a compromisable notion of ‘freedom’?
How can we expect them to approach Aithbheochaint na Gaedhilge in the true spirit…? (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (19TH MAY) 223 YEARS AGO : ‘REBEL IRISH LORD’ CAPTURED BY THE BRITISH.
‘Lord’ Edward Fitzgerald (pictured) was born on the 15th October 1763, in Carton House, County Kildare ; he was the 12th child of the first ‘Duke’ of Leinster and Emilia Mary, who was the daughter of the ‘Duke’ of Richmond.
At 16 years young he joined the ‘Sussex Militia’ and was posted to America on ‘active service’ – he was severely wounded at the battle of Eutaw Springs, when he was 18 years young (in 1781) and returned to Ireland. At 25 years young he went to Canada and re-joined the British Army, following which ‘adventure’ he again returned to Ireland and was elected as M.P. for Kildare.
The events at a political ‘Dinner Party’ which he attended one night was to have a profound effect on his ‘career’, as his refusal to hide his ‘rebel streak’ had immediate consequences ; he joined in a toast to the abolition of hereditary titles and was, shortly afterwards, ‘cashiered’ (ie “discharged with ignominy”) from the British Army (and from the ‘Establishment’ ie ‘those that dinner-partied’!).
He went to Paris in 1792, at 29 years young and, two days after Christmas that year, he married a 19-years-young girl, Pamela, thought to be the daughter of Mme de Genlis. It was generally accepted that Pamela’s father was the ‘Duke’ of Orleans – a ‘family connection’ which was to re-bound on Edward Fitzgerald a few years later (incidentally – while in Paris, ‘Lord’ Edward Fitzgerald stayed with a certain Mr. Thomas Paine, pictured.)
In 1793, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald returned to Dublin and lived in Frascati House in Blackrock ; three years later (ie 1796), ‘Lord’ Edward Fitzgerald travelled to Basel in France with Arthur O’Connor and Wolfe Tone to seek assistance with an armed Rising against the British ; but his above-mentioned ‘family connections’ were raised at a meeting with the French military – he got a ‘frosty’ reception from the French because his wife was considered to be connected to the ‘Royalists’!
However, the honesty of his political conviction became obvious to the hosts, and his statement to them (the ‘French Directory’) that the strength of the United Irishmen organisation stood at approximately 280,000 armed men helped convince them to send assistance – the ‘Hoche Expedition’
Edward Fitzgerald was not with the rest of the leadership of the United Irishmen organisation in March 1798 at the home of Oliver Bond in Bridge Street, Dublin, when the British raided and ‘arrested’ those within, acting on information sold to them by the informer Thomas Reynolds. When British Major Henry Sirr (pictured) realised that Fitzgerald was not amongst those captured, he offered a ‘bounty’ of £1,000 for information leading to his capture.
Edward Fitzgerald (‘wanted for treason’) went ‘on-the-run’ but, two months later (ie on May 19th, 1798 – 223 years ago on this date) Major Sirr’s men raided a house on Thomas Street, in Dublin (after receiving information from another informer, Francis Magan) where Fitzgerald was staying ; a struggle ensued, during which Edward Fitzgerald shot one of his attackers dead but was himself shot in the arm – he died, apparently from that wound, in Newgate Prison, on the 4th June 1798, at 35 years young.
NO RIGHT OF APPEAL…
Why the media consensus on a broad range of issues is increasingly disturbing.
By John Drennan.
From ‘Magill’ Annual, 2002.
However, as smiling refugee children were featured on every bulletin, there was a relative absence in coverage of any of the World Trade Centre funerals.
Sadly, the station’s slip continued apace as it described Mr bin Laden as a “Saudi dissident”. Apparently, over in Montrose, Mr bin Laden is no more sinister a figure than Peter Weir. The next threat came from an ogre called Desmond Connell – himself a dissident against the new clerical ethic of keeping one’s gob shut – who is such a threat to society that he has been the subject of two media scandals this year.
“Bejaysus”, sez the plain people of Ireland, “he must be a terrible important man indeed to be pulled up so constantly by them journalist fellas…” Er, no – he’s actually the leader of an embattled religious minority now that consumerist secularism has become the state religion. As liberals, we really should be championing his right to free speech…
ON THIS DATE (19TH MAY) 124 YEARS AGO : OSCAR WILDE RELEASED FROM PRISON.
On the 19th May 1897 – 124 years ago on this date – Oscar Wilde was released from prison ; he had been given a sentence of two years hard labour for gross indecency – homosexuality – which was illegal in Britain at the time. His ‘relationship’ with ‘Lord’ Alfred Douglas was the ‘sin’ involved.
Oscar was forty years old at the time, and the ‘Lord’ Alfred was sixteen years his junior but knew how to manipulate circumstances and individuals. He was of slim build, said to be handsome and used his demeanour to balance his feckless attitude towards finances and other people’s feelings in general. And poor Oscar was taken in by him, as were young boys and other men, when the ‘Lord’ strutted his stuff in Oxford.
After his release, Oscar was given a temporary roof over his head by a socially-conscienced and open-minded man of the cloth, Stewart Headlam, as interesting a character as Oscar Wilde was ; he was married to a lesbian (Beatrice Pennington) and also maintained ‘close relations’ with known homosexuals William Johnson and C.J. Vaughan, among others ;
‘…he was a member of the Fabian Society, a Christian Socialist who attacked the wide gap between rich and poor and warned the working class that they should distrust middle-class reformers (and) he presented Jesus Christ as a revolutionary. He believed that that God’s Kingdom on earth would replace a “competitive, unjust society with a co-operative and egalitarian social order..” ‘
In prison, Oscar’s health deteriorated due to his living conditions (he was not used to roughing it, in that particular manner) and, on his release, came to rely on alcohol to get him through the day. He died in Paris, on the 30th of November, 1900, at 46 years of age, from cerebral meningitis following an ear infection.
‘Yes, death. Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forget life, to be at peace. You can help me. You can open for me the portals of death’s house, for love is always with you, and love is stronger than death is..’ – Oscar Wilde.
‘FORCE : MORAL OR PHYSICAL?’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
Mr Cosgrave at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis made quite clear the essential difference between the so-called ‘nationalists’ and the Republican Movement ; he stated that “…partition could only be ended speedily by the exercise of moral pressure and persuasion..”
One hundred and twenty years ago Daniel O’Connell misled the Irish people into acceptance of his policy of ‘moral force’ ; moral force did not prevent the ships laden with Irish wheat and oats leaving Ireland while the population was decimated by famine (sic) and emigration. John Mitchel, with clarion call, urged his countrymen to arm. Their wealth and lives were being stolen under the protection of British guns. Only guns could talk to guns.
The brave and the true of that generation rallied to Mitchel’s call but, before they were properly organised, the British Government passed a new coercion act – ‘Treason Felony’ – to deal with the dangerous situation of Irishmen armed to resist British aggression. The question is – which policy was best for Ireland? O’Connell’s moral force or Mitchel’s physical force…? (MORE LATER.)
Thanks for reading,