ON THIS DATE (7TH JULY) 99 YEARS AGO : CATHAL BRUGHA DIES FROM FREE STATE-INFLICTED GUNSHOT WOUND.
On the 18th July, 1874, Thomas Burgess and his wife, Marianne (nee Flynn), who lived at that time in 13 Richmond Avenue in Dublin, celebrated the birth of their tenth child (in a family of sixteen, including the parents – it was a mixed Roman Catholic and Protestant marriage) – a boy who they named ‘Charles William Saint John’.
Charles received his schooling at Colmcille and, later, at Belvedere College and, at 35 years young, he took up a position as a business partner in Lalor Brothers (Dublin), which provided ceremonial candles for all occasions. He was by then a history buff, and had changed his name to ‘Cathal Brugha’.
His knowledge of Irish history meant that he quickly realised that there would never be peace with justice in Ireland as long as there was a British political and military presence in the country, and he became involved in the freedom struggle. He was active in the 1916 Easter Rising, in the war for independence and in the Civil War, after Britain had, again, divided and sought to fully conquer in Ireland, by buying those who allowed themselves to be bought.
Cathal rigidly adhered to the Irish republican side in his political life and, at the first meeting of the [32-County] Dáil Éireann, in Dublin’s Mansion House (on 21st January 1919), he was elected as ‘Acting President’ in place of Eamonn de Valera, who was at that time still in a British jail (imprisoned for his part in an alleged ‘German Plot’ against Westminster).
He was put in prison himself by the British for, on one occasion, refusing to give his name in English –
‘Thurles (County Tipperary), 4th January 1919 – Cathal Brugha, who was elected as the MP for Waterford County last month, was arrested at Thurles railway station for giving his name in Irish when questioned by a police officer.
Mr Brugha was about to board a train bound for Dublin when Constable S. Barrett asked for his name. On hearing the name Cathal, the policeman asked if it was Irish. When Mr Brugha responded that it was indeed in Irish, the constable is reported to have said to him: ‘Unless you give me your name in plain English I must detain you.’ Brugha, who laughed in response, was subsequently arrested and taken to the local police barracks where he was searched. On his person was a receipt for a £150 election deposit. Mr Brugha is the first Sinn Féin MP to be arrested since the election…’ (from here.)
He read the ‘Declaration of Independence’ in Irish to that Mansion House Dáil and, in his military role, he rallied and spoke against the ‘Treaty of Surrender’ –
“Why, if instead of being so strong, our last cartridge had been fired, our last shilling had been spent, and our last man were lying on the ground and his enemies howling round him and their bayonets raised, ready to plunge them into his body, that man should say — true to the traditions handed down —if they said to him : “Now, will you come into our Empire?”, he should say, and he would say : “No! I will not…”
That is the spirit that has lasted all through the centuries, and you people in favour of the Treaty know that the British Government and the British Empire will have gone down before that spirit dies out in Ireland…”
He also defended himself, his republican comrades and the Republic itself from detractors who sough to further enhance their ‘stature’, as they saw it, by attempting to sell ‘the benefits’ of the Treaty of Surrender : “While the war was in progress I could not praise too highly the work done by the Head Quarters’ Staff. The Chief of Staff and each of the leaders of the subsections — the members of the Head Quarters’ Staff — were the best men (sic) we could get for the positions ; each of them carried out efficiently, so far as I know, the work that was entrusted to him (sic).
They worked conscientiously and patriotically for Ireland without seeking any notoriety, with one exception; whether he is responsible or not for the notoriety I am not going to say. There is little more for me to say. One member was specially selected by the Press and the people to put him into a position which he never held ; he was made a romantic figure, a mystical character such as this person certainly is not. The gentleman I refer to is Mr. Michael Collins…”
His defence of the Republic, in 1916, left him with twenty-five British-inflicted wounds on his body – ‘five dangerous, nine serious and eleven slight…one of the dangerous wounds had an artery cut. His left foot, hip and leg were practically one mass of wounds…’ (from here) – but it was Michael Collins and his group of Free State mercenaries who finally done what the British had failed to do ; on Wednesday, 5th of July in 1922, as Cathal Brugha and other IRA men were sheltering in the burning Granville Hotel in Dublin, the Staters moved in ; Brugha attempted to hold them off until his comrades could escape or, failing that, surrender. He was armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun and opened-up on the Free State Army ; he made it as far as the nearby Thomas Lane, where he was brought to the ground by enemy fire.
He was taken to the Mater Hospital where a Dr Patrick Smyth examined him ; he noted that Brugha was “..suffering from a bullet wound in the left thigh…there was an entry and exit wound, about four inches wide…” . Another doctor, Alex Blayney, recorded that Brugha’s great sciatic nerve was almost completely divided and part of his femoral artery had been ruptured. It was recorded that “…as he collapsed (in Thomas Lane) he was attended to by Doctors Joseph Brennan and Sean Geraghty, who did everything possible to help him. Two members of the Red Cross helped and he was moved to the side of the lane near a telegraph post. An ambulance took him to the Mater Hospital where, at 10.45am on Friday July 7th, he died…”
Charles William Saint John Burgess, aka Cathal Brugha/ Catal Bruga, born in Drumcondra in Dublin on the 18th of July, 1874, died, in his 47th year, on the 7th July, 1922 – 99 years ago on this date – from a Free State Army-inflicted ‘arterial bleed from gunshot wound in the leg’. He was the Chief of Staff for the IRA from 1917 to 1919, and the Republican Minister of Defence until 1922. He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.
‘Remember how in Kerry they butchered our lads like swine!
God! Think of Ballyseedy, where they tied them to a mine.
How Rory and Liam and Dick and Joe, to glut the Imperial beast,
Were murdered, while in prison, on our Blessed Lady’s feast.
How, with overworked revolver as he dashed from that hotel,
Rode a rebel’s last defiance as Cathal Brugha fell…’ (from here.)
‘MORE ENGLISH THAN…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, July, 1954.
Even though ‘Indiu’ is heavily subsidised by the Twenty-Six County government, we still had hoped that there was some little spark of nationality in it.
Unfortunately, however, it seems that it is taking on the same type of job which Elizabeth 1 had in view when she ordered the translation of the Bible and other books in English for the ‘enlightenment of the Irish’.
(END of ‘More English Than…’ : NEXT – ‘O Donovan-Rossa’, by Margaret Buckley, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (7TH JULY) IN…
…1700 : the Member of Parliament for County Sligo, a Captain Hugh Morgan, who was attached to ‘Lord Dungannon’s Regiment’ of the British Army, was summoned to the Curragh Camp to appear before a board of inquiry consisting of other members of the Office class.
Captain Morgan had apparently made a name for himself as a bit of a boyo or, as they probably called it back then, “a rogue and a rascal”, which was actually the wording used at the time when his peers called him to account.
We can’t find out what it was that the bould Cap’n done for his own buddies to turn on him like they did but, so it seems, the Captain himself wasn’t interested enough to find out either, as he never turned up for the appointment.
We got the following from here –
Hugh MORGAN of Cottlestown and Palmerstown, Dublin, Ireland.
MP for Sligo 1692-1712; Captain of Lord Dungannon’s Regiment, summoned to appear before a board of general officers at the Curragh of Kildare 7th July 1700, accused of being ‘a rogue and rascal’.
Pardoned on 17 July (for failure to turn up!!).
Ten days after his ‘no-show’, he was pardoned. If ya ask us, the whole bleedin’ lot of them are ‘rogues and rascals’, but it’s an awful pity that they couldn’t be ‘no-shows’ in this country, too…!
…1816 : Dublin-born Richard Brinsley Sheridan, a playwright, impresario and politician, died on this date (7th July), in 1816. He was more-or-less ‘in’ with the in-crowd of his day, but…not quite, maybe.
He was a member of the ruling elite in the British Parliament from 1780 to 1812 (as a member of the ‘Whigs’), but his conscience kicked-in frequently, especially when Ireland and India were being discussed in Westminster – he spoke often and loudly about the way those two peoples were being mistreated by ‘the Empire’.
And he wasn’t afraid of a physical duel, either ; he was involved in at least two such ‘matches’ over – what else? – a woman!
He won the first, comfortably, and was later challenged to a rematch by the loser, which he accepted. He ‘won’ that, too, but not as easily –
‘…the second duel, fought in July 1772 at Kingsdown near Bath, was a much more ferocious affair. This time both men broke their swords but carried on fighting in a ‘desperate struggle for life and honour’. Both were wounded, Sheridan dangerously, and he had to be ‘borne from the field with a portion of his antagonist’s weapon sticking through an ear, his breast-bone touched, his whole body covered with wounds and blood, and his face nearly beaten to jelly with the hilt of Mathews’ sword…’ (from here.)
The poor man died, in poverty, in 1815, at 64 years of age. Probably from a broken heart. Maybe more so literally than figuratively.
…1905 : A Bill entitled ‘The Drunkenness (Ireland) Bill’ was (shamelessly) debated in the British ‘House of Commons’ on the 7th July 1905.
The Bill, as formulated and discussed, ‘…would compel a husband to give evidence against his wife, and the wife to give evidence against her husband. To (my) mind such a proposal was an outrage upon family life and the social relations which existed in Ireland. So far as families in Ireland were concerned, the proposals in this Bill were an outrage on common sense…this Act, if passed, would be an addition to the long list of coercive Acts which had been applied to Ireland…this Bill was uncalled for, ill-considered, mischievous in its provisions, and offensive to every Irishman who had any regard for the fair fame of his country. The very title “Drunkenness (Ireland) Bill” was offensive…’. (from here.)
The British ‘establishment’ had then (and still have) a cheek, to attempt to point a shaky finger at Ireland in that (or any other) regard :
‘…the Victorians liked to drink and they lived in a society geared towards alcohol consumption. In the great industrial cities of Britain, there was almost no escaping the beer houses, gin palaces, refreshment rooms, restaurants, theatres, music halls, vaults, dram shops, oyster bars, private clubs and public houses that served a dizzying array of alcoholic drinks to suit people from all walks of life. Drinking went on from dawn till dusk and on into the wee small hours…’ (from here.)
In his well-received book ‘The Making of Victorian England’, the author, George Kitson Clark, had this to say about his experiences with the British so-called ‘upper class’ : “It would be hard to say why historians have not rated the effect of strong drink as the significant factor in nineteenth-century (British) history that it undoubtedly was. Its importance stands out from every page of the contemporary record. The most prominent factor in every disputed election was bestial drunkenness.
Drunkenness caused endless trouble to the employers of labour, as for instance the builders of the railways found to their cost. The results of strong drink were patent in disgusting forms at the appropriate times in most of the streets and market places of Britain. In the background there was always present the degradation, the cruelty, particularly to the weak and defenceless, which resulted from drunkenness. The cause of its prevalence was no doubt an unfortunate historical tendency made much worse by intolerable living conditions. In many cases indeed the terms on which life was offered is a complete explanation of any drunkenness…”
We’re off now, down to the local GAA club, for a few pints of cider, over which we’ll discuss how the British ‘encouraged’ everyone else to build their ’empire’ for them.
‘Cause they were too pissed to do it for themselves.
‘WHAT IS TO BE DONE? THE STRUGGLE IN THE 26 COUNTIES…’
The following article was solicited by ‘IRIS’ from a political observer in the 26 Counties. The article – whose author, John Ward, is not a member of the Republican Movement – is aimed at provoking discussion within (P)Sinn Féin.
From ‘IRIS’ magazine, October 1987.
(‘1169’ comment – please note that ‘IRIS’ magazine had, at that time, recently morphed from a republican-minded publication into a Trot-type mouthpiece for a Leinster House-registered political party.)
Another reason for the gloom and despair at that election result was an equally exaggerated view of the role of elections, as if getting someone elected to Leinster House was the real object of their political work instead of just another tactic in the struggle. For the bourgeois politicians, getting their bums on the padded parliamentary seats is what it’s all about. But for revolutionaries*, Leinster House should be just another platform from which to preach their message, and elections an opportunity to bring that message home to the people on their doorsteps.
For the bourgeois politicians, ‘real’ politics are over until the next time once the votes are counted. But for the revolutionary, when the votes are counted, politics goes on as before – in the trade unions, tenants’ associations, women’s groups, action groups of every kind, on the streets, as well as in or out of Leinster House.
Viewed from that perspective, electoral failure is not a catastrophe – life and struggle go on, however disappointing the results of the poll. There is no need to go away and die. But it would be equally foolish to ignore election results, however. For all the failings of the electoral system and the obstacles the ruling class put in the way of their opponents, elections do provide a rough guide to the people’s political preferences. And clearly (P) Sinn Féin does not come very high on the list at the moment…
(Actually, ‘bum on seat’ is what it’s about for all Leinster House members, regardless of whether they are bourgeois or not going in to that institution because, when they get a taste of the taxpayers money that is available to them in there, they become bourgeois, mentally, morally, and politically.)
(‘Revolutionaries in Leinster House’?!! The political system built and maintained by the political administration in this State can only be tweaked temporarily, if at all, by Leinster House politicians – it cannot be ‘revolutionised’ by them.)
‘MÓR MÓ NÁIR’.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
It is well said that the attitude of its men to its women reflects the tone of an age, and because all that is noble in man responds to the lovely character of a good woman, the women of a country do a great deal to set the standard of beauty and truth.
Many great tributes have been paid to the women of Ireland in generations past ; what tribute will be paid to the present generation by those yet unborn depends entirely on the way we women of today live.
The best of the manhood of Ireland – the men often called idealistic and impractical, despite their very practical methods of dealing with the scourge of the conquester – are far more dependent on the women of Ireland for help in their great work, than either realise. And it is of the greatest importance at this time of rapid growth in the great separatist spirit in Irishmen today that the women of Ireland do not let them down by any meanness in them…
Thanks for the visit, and for reading,