ON THIS DATE (20TH OCTOBER) 88 YEARS AGO : LEINSTER HOUSE SPENDS (ANOTHER) 30 PIECES OF SILVER.
On the 20th October, 1933 – 88 years ago on this date – the Free State Leinster House administration attempted to wrap the green flag around itself by purchasing the copyright for Peadar Kearney’s song, ‘The Soldiers Song’ (‘Amhrán na bhFiann’), and declared it to be the national anthem.
It was actually quite a good fit for both parties involved, the shoneens in Leinster House and the author of that piece of work, Mr Kearney ;
‘(Peadar) Kearney was born at 68 Lower Dorset Street, Dublin, in 1883 (and) often walked along Gardiner Street to the Custom House and along the Quays. His father was from Louth and his mother was originally from Meath. He was educated at the Model School, Schoolhouse Lane and St Joseph’s Christian Brothers School in Fairview, Dublin.
He left school at the age of 14, becoming an apprentice house painter…(he) joined the Gaelic League in 1901, and joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1903…he was a co-founder of the Irish Volunteers in 1913…’, and this –
‘A descendant of Amhran ha bhFiann composer Peadar Kearney has launched High Court proceedings against a fund-appointed receiver seeking the return of items including an original copy of the national anthem signed by the composer…’ (from here and here.)
Peadar Kearney joined the IRB when he was 20 years young (in 1903) and, four years later, along with his friend Paddy Heeney, wrote the words and tune for ‘Amhrán na bhFiann‘ (‘The Soldiers Song’).
He took part in the 1916 Rising, fighting alongside Thomas MacDonagh at Jacobs Factory, and managed to escape the round-up by the ‘authorities’ that followed, literally ‘living to fight another day’. And he did – he was active again during the ‘Black and Tan War’, during which he was imprisoned for about a year.
Following the ‘Treaty of Surrender’ – and this is perhaps not as well known as his republican involvement – he took the Free State side and was actually in the ‘Collins Convoy’ at Béal na mBláth when, in August 1922, those Free Staters were ambushed by the IRA, and Michael Collins was killed.
It’s also not as well known as it should be that he worked for the Free State in Portlaoise Prison as a ‘Censor’ ie removing what the State regarded as ‘sensitive content’ from letters that republican prisoners were trying to send out to family and friends : his conscience must have troubled him, as he only stuck that job for a week and, in the late 1930’s, made public his (newly-found-again) opposition to partition.
He died in Inchicore, Dublin, in 1942, at 59 years of age, and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. As we repeatedly say in Irish republican circles – ‘Put not your trust..’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, July, 1954.
‘The Belfast News Letter’ wrote –
‘It may be asked, however, what the IRA hope to gain from this exploit. They may have secured a lorry load of rifles and other weapons, but are they of any practical use? They will not make possible that invasion of Ulster (sic) of which the IRA is supposed to dream.
They will, however, cause some uneasiness in official quarters in Dublin, for the IRA might very well come to think that ‘liberation’ ought to begin at home (sic). In Ulster (sic) the unionist people will draw their own conclusions from this affair. They will expect the government to take every possible step to meet any attempt to reintroduce IRA methods in Northern Ireland (sic) and they will hope that the B Special police force (sic) will be kept alert, strong in numbers and efficient.
It will be regrettable if the special powers in the ‘Civil Authorities Act’, which were relaxed some time ago, should have to be reimposed, but if the government (sic) find that a criminal and armed conspiracy is on foot* they must act with the vigour** which their predecessors showed twenty-five or thirty years ago.’
(*’1169′ comment ; the Stormont ‘government’ need only look to itself for “a criminal and armed conspiracy..”, as that is precisely what that institution is. // ** ie ‘crack open more Taig heads’.)
ON THIS DATE (20TH OCTOBER) 140 YEARS AGO : IRISH ‘LAND LEAGUE’ OUTLAWED BY WESTMINSTER.
On the 21st October 1879 a meeting of concerned individuals was held in the Imperial Hotel in Castlebar, County Mayo, to discuss issues in relation to ‘landlordism’ and the manner in which that subject impacted on those who worked on small land holdings on which they paid ‘rent’, an issue which other groups, such as tenants’ rights organisations and groups who, confined by a small membership, agitated on land issues in their own locality, had voiced concern about.
Those present agreed to announce themselves as the ‘Irish National Land League’ (which, at its peak, had 200,000 active members) and Charles Stewart Parnell (who, at 33 years of age, had been an elected member of parliament for the previous four years) was elected president of the new group and Andrew Kettle, Michael Davitt, and Thomas Brennan were appointed as honorary secretaries.
The ‘Land League’ was a successful organisation and had come to the attention of the political and ‘landlord’ class in Westminster, so much so that the British ‘authorities’ in Ireland needed to make it ‘unpopular’ to be associated with it and all but deemed it to be a ‘terrorist’ grouping.
This tactic was noticed by the organisation and its supporters and, two years after it was founded (by “men of no consequence”, according to the catholic church, which opposed the League with all its might), Charles Stewart Parnell’s sisters, Anna and Fanny, established a ‘Ladies Land League’ (on the 31st January 1881) which, at its full strength, consisted of about five hundred branches and didn’t always see eye-to-eye with its ‘parent’ organisation – in its short existence, it provided assistance to about 3,000 people who had been evicted from their rented land holdings to assist and/or take over land agitation issues, as it seemed certain that the ‘parent’ body was going to be outlawed by the British.
And, sure enough, the British Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, introduced and enforced a ‘Crimes Act’ that same year, 1881, (better known as the ‘Coercion/Protection of Person and Property Act’) which made it illegal to assemble in relation to certain issues and an offence to conspire against the payment of rents ‘owed’ which, ironically, was a piece of legislation condemned by the same catholic church which condemned the ‘Irish National Land League’ because that Act introduced permanent legislation and did not have to be renewed on each political term.
And that same church also condemned the ‘Ladies Land League’ to the extent that Archbishop McCabe of Dublin instructed priests loyal to him “..not to tolerate in your societies (diocese) the woman who so far disavows her birthright of modesty as to parade herself before the public gaze in a character so unworthy of a Child of Mary…” – the best that can be said about that is that that church’s ‘consistency’ – its attitude to ‘uppity women’ – hasn’t changed much over the years!
On the 20th October 1881 – 140 years ago on this date – Westminster proscribed the ‘Irish National Land League’ and imprisoned its leadership, but the gap was ably filled by the ‘Ladies Land League’ until it was acrimoniously dissolved on the 10th August 1882, 19 months after it was formed. And it should be noted that the anti-republican State parliament in Dublin, which was created by a British act of parliament, is still involved in the business of landlordism…
ON THIS DATE (20TH OCTOBER) IN 1922…
..on the evening of Friday the 20th of October 1922, a Free State Army Quartermaster named ‘Horne’ was shot dead by an accidental discharge of a Thompson gun at Galbally County Limerick.
A Free State soldier was shot dead while trying to clear a blocked road at Duagh, Co Kerry.
Free State troops raided and captured an IRA bomb making factory at Number 8 Gardiner Place in Dublin ; a Free State captain, Nicholas Tobin, never made it back to his State Army base that day, having been shot dead, by ‘accident’, by ‘friendly fire’.
An IRA ‘Active Service Unit’ liberated £200 from the Free State administrations wages office in Dublin. The money was no doubt put to better use.
A Free State Army soldier, Sean Sullivan (only 16-years old) was accidently shot by one of his own officers in Corporation Street, in Dublin.
Pat O’Connor, IRA O/C, 2nd Battalion, Kerry No. 1 brigade, was captured in Ballyronan, near Ballyheigue, along with PJ O’Halloran. Both were sentenced to death but this was later commuted to five years penal servitude.
A pro-Treaty convoy of an armoured car and a Crossley Tender, on its way from Limerick City to Tralee, County Kerry, was ambushed at Duagh village, resulting in the death of Sergeant John Browne and the wounding of one other State soldier.
Thirty-eight members of the then new State ‘Garda Síochána’, under the command of a Superintendent Brennan, took over the old RIC barracks in Lady Lane, Waterford City. Or at least the uniform of the incumbents changed.
THE NOT SO IRISH NEWS.
Rita Smyth examines the editorials of the Northern newspaper, ‘The Irish News’, for the first six months of 1987.
Her analysis shows how the paper reflects the political attitudes of the Stormont Castle Catholics (who dominate the SDLP*) and the conservative values of the Catholic Hierarchy, especially Bishop Cahal Daly.
(From ‘Iris’ magazine, October 1987.)
(‘1169’ comment – *…and who now fill the ranks of other Stoop-like political parties in Stormont and Leinster House.) From ‘IRIS’ magazine, October 1987.
Most readers of ‘IRIS’ are probably not regular readers of the leader columns of ‘The Irish News’. Those of you who are of the opinion that ‘if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all’ are not, on the evidence, far from wrong. ‘The Irish News’ portrays its editorial objective in high-flown terms –
‘An awareness of our common brotherhood under the Divine Father (which) rejects all forms of violence against one’s fellow man (and) enables us to rise above a tribal ritualistic limitation to our vision…such an outlook is pre-eminently the objective which this newspaper would strive to put before all its readers, and through time to every public spokesperson of whatever persuasion or tradition.
Let us pray that those, from whatever tradition, would perpetuate or condone human killing will be converted to acknowledge the bleak darkness that imprisons them in such evil and perpetuates such widespread suffering.’
But a sample of editorials for the months of January to June of this year (1987) gives a somewhat less worthy picture of ‘The Irish News’ perspective… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (20TH OCTOBER) 104 YEARS AGO : A ‘TERRIBLE BEAUTY’ AUTHOR DOES A TERRIBLE DEED!
‘MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly :
A terrible beauty is born..’ (from here.)
And ‘all changed utterly’ for the author and poet, William Butler Yeats (pictured) on the 20th October 1917 – 104 years ago on this date – when he got married…but not to Maud Gonne, his long-time sweetheart ; instead, he married 25-year-old Georgie Hyde-Lees (Mr Yeats was 52 years of age at the time.)
And it gets even more complicated – weeks before he married that young-wan (!) he had proposed to Maud Gonne’s daughter, Iseult MacBride, but she said no. So he married ‘George’, as he called her, in a public registry office, witnessed by her mother and Ezra Pound.
Mr Yeats had not got much time for what was happening at that time in relation to the campaign for national liberation and (ab)used his skills as a poet and author to voice his opposition to that struggle and, indeed, made that point, politically, by filling a seat in the Free State Senate in 1922. He was a known occulist and shared that interest with George William Russell (‘AE’), the two having struck-up a friendship when both attended the ‘Metropolitan School of Art’ in Dublin.
William Butler Yeats died on the 28th January 1939, at 74 years of age, in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, in France ;
‘He knows death to the bone – Man has created death…‘
‘LETTERS FROM OUR READERS…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
‘Oglaigh na h-Éireann, General Headquarters. 4/3/55.
The following letter has been sent to the Secretary of the Literary and Historical Society, UCD, and copies of the letter were also forwarded to the three Dublin dailies on February 28th, none of which have published it to date.
Literary and Historical Society,
With reference to the current controversy in connection with the recent symposium on the Irish language, a letter appeared in today’s ‘Irish Independent’ under the signature of ‘Seán S. O’Broin’.
In the course of this letter the writer states – ‘The mature reaction of the so-called ‘gentlemanly hecklers with republican sympathies’ was to stick a note to the L and H board reading ‘Oglaign na hÉireann ; Informers Beware’.’
We wish to point out that the Irish Republican Army had no responsibility for the incidents at the symposium and no one had any authority to use the name of Oglaigh na hÉireann in any matter connected with the affair.
(END of ‘Letters From Our Readers’ ; NEXT – ‘Obituary’, from the same source.)
Thanks for the visit, and for reading,