ON THIS DATE (10TH NOVEMBER) 223 YEARS AGO : WOLFE TONE SENTENCED TO DEATH.
Theobald Wolfe Tone was born on the 20th June, 1763 – the exact time and date of his death are unknown.
He was sentenced to death on the 10th November 1798 – 223 years ago on this date – and on the 11th November he was informed by his gaolers that he would be publicly hanged on the following day, Monday, at one o’clock. It is generally accepted that Wolfe Tone died on the 19th November 1798 but, in fact, he could have been murdered at any time during the previous week, and there is no doubt, and none of us should be in any doubt, of his murder by British Crown agents.
It is time now, once and for all, to bury the lie that Wolfe Tone took his own life. These false stories were put out at the time not just to cover up the murder but also as black propaganda to denigrate Tone and the Cause he cherished with all his being. The proof of their successes in trying to destroy Wolfe Tone’s character is still evident today over 200 years later.
Yes, the British establishment was expert at that time at covering up their crimes, even more successful than they are today. Many historians to this day trot out the same British lies, as if they were gospel, that Tone committed suicide ; they quote all sorts of stories to ‘back-up’ their claims. They use the most abominable argument that especially as Wolfe Tone was of the Protestant faith it would not be repugnant for him to take his own life : I say here and now that this was and is the most objectionable of arguments. It was against everything Tone dedicated and gave his life for, namely, to substitute the common name of Irishman for the religious denominations.
To spread the lie and imply that somehow being a Protestant made it acceptable to commit suicide is to be against all Wolfe Tone stood for. The argument is still going on with new books being written about Tone and praised and published by the present establishment who are as much against what Tone stood for as were the British establishment of the time, and as they still are today. Why do the establishment, British and Irish, make such a case for Wolfe Tone’s suicide? Because to face the truth might make people today see the light and not just follow Tone’s teachings but practice them.
It is often quoted also that Tone’s son accepted his father’s suicide ; even if this were true it is of no consequence as what he thought one way or the other has no bearing on the facts. How did Tone’s son know how long his father lay dying? There was no way he could know, no more than anyone else – at no time were any visitors allowed into see Wolfe Tone.
Tone’s father tried every possible move through the courts to get his son free. His lawyer applied for and was immediately granted a writ of Habeas Corpus by Chief Justice Lord Kilwarden. Major Sandy, in charge of the barracks, was recognised generally as being a man with scant regard for justice or truth. It has been stated as proof of Tone’s suicide that a man of Sandy’s calibre and his hirelings wouldn’t do such a botched murder that would take eight days for the victim to die. But how do we know how long Wolfe Tone took to die? It could very well have been eight minutes, not eight days.
The only evidence ever produced to support the suicide verdict is an account from a French royalist, a Doctor Lentaigne, of whom little is known. This same doctor was by his being a royalist first, and working for the British Army, doubly opposed to all Wolfe Tone would stand for. How anyone with the remotest feeling for justice or truth could accept the word of such a man under the circumstances at the time is an insult to ordinary intelligence. But then as the old cliche says – ‘where ignorance is bliss it’s folly to be wise.’
The secrets of a state prison at that period in history are seldom penetrated and even today would be virtually impossible. Abundant proof is available even today if a thorough search was to take place but we who wish to know the truth have only to know the man : he had dedicated himself to his principles and had seen his friends and compatriots, including his brother, hanged, and he would not let them or his country down by taking his own life.
Without knowing the man, even reading his last letters is enough to disprove the abominable lie that he committed suicide. Did he not write to his wife – “My mind is as tranquil this moment as at any period in my life.” One only has to read his last speech from the dock at his trial to see and understand the character of the man. Just to quote a few lines is enough to convince any fair mind of the impossibility of Wolfe Tone committing suicide ; only the avowed enemies of truth and justice could dare say otherwise –
“Mr. President and gentlemen of the Court Martial : I mean not to give you the trouble of bringing judicial proof to convict me legally to having acted in hostility to the government of his Britannic Majesty in Ireland. I admit the fact from my earliest youth, I have regarded the connection between Ireland and Great Britain as the curse of the Irish nation and felt convinced that, whilst it lasted, this country could never be free nor happy.”
Regarding the French, Wolfe Tone said – “Attached to no party in the French Republic, without interest, without money, without intrigue, the openness and integrity of my views raised me to a high and confidential rank in its armies ; under the flag of the French Republic, I originally engaged with a view to save and liberate my own country. For that purpose, I have encountered the chances of war, amongst strangers. For that purpose, I have repeatedly braved the terrors of the ocean, covered as I knew it to be, with the triumphant fleets of that power, which it was my glory and my duty to oppose. I have sacrificed all my views in life ; I have courted poverty, I have left a beloved wife, unprotected children I adored, fatherless. After such sacrifices, in a cause which I have always conscientiously considered as the cause of justice and freedom – it is no great effort, at this day, to add the sacrifice of my life. To the eternal disgrace of those who gave the order, I was brought hither in irons, like a felon..”
During his last speech from the dock, Wolfe Tone stated – “I mention this for the sake of others, for me I am indifferent to it. I am aware of the fate which awaits me, and scorn equally the tone of complaint and that of supplication. Whatever be the sentence of this court, I am prepared for it. Its members will surely discharge their duty ; I shall take care not to be wanting in mine.”
Tone’s use of the word ‘eternal’ and ‘his duty’ are obvious references to God and posterity and he would have been fully aware and very careful about their use. Any study of the man and any understanding of him as a person to those who wish to see the truth can only draw the one conclusion. To quote just a line or two from his last letters to his wife : “..be assured I will die as I have lived, and that you will have no cause to blush for me. Adieu, dearest love, keep your courage as I have kept mine. My mind is as tranquil this moment as at any period of my life.”
Are these the words of a man contemplating suicide? No! Wolfe Tone knew that suicide would have damned his reputation irreparably and consequently the cause he dedicated his life to. There is only one conclusion to be drawn, knowing the man – ‘murder by a person or persons unknown.’
(The above is an edited version of a lecture delivered to Dublin republicans by Joe Egan in November 1989. Joe was a member of the RSF Education Department at the time.)
‘TYRONE AFTER-MASS MEETINGS’.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, July, 1954.
Sinn Féin held a series of after-Mass meetings in the Dungannon area of County Tyrone on Sunday, 6th June last.
Parishes covered included Moy, Clonfeakle, Mountjoy, Clonoe and Tullysaran. Despite the heavy rain the meetings were successful, the greater part of the congregations remaining to give the speakers an attentive hearing. The speakers included Tomás O’Dubhghaill, Eamon Thomas, Patrick Connolly and Robert Russell.
The main points stressed by the speakers were that the aim of Sinn Féin in contesting Louth and Clare was to focus the attention of the public in the Twenty-Six County area on the need for a positive policy to secure the unity and independence of our country…
ON THIS DATE (10TH NOVEMBER) 102 YEARS AGO : BRITISH ‘G DIVISION’ DETECTIVE RETIRED FROM DUTY.
In March 1919, ‘An tOglach’ Editor Piaras Béaslaí was ‘arrested’ (not for the first time) in Dublin by the British (under the notorious ‘DORA’ legislation) and imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin but, in early April, he escaped, along with seventeen other republican prisoners.
It was a short-lived freedom ; on the 1st May he was ‘arrested’ again but this time the British locked him up in Strangeways Prison in Manchester, England but…(!) on the 20th October (1919), in an IRA organised ‘jailbreak’, six prisoners, including Piaras Béaslaí, were released from custody (!).
He was a known and marked man by British forces in Ireland and two ‘G Men’ in particular, a man named Smith and a Thomas Wharton, a Kerry man, were eager to ‘nail him’ ; earlier in 1919, they had ‘arrested’ Piaras Béaslaí for a seditious speech and found ‘incriminating notes’ on him, detailing methods of cutting railway and telegraph lines and putting railway locomotives out of action, and also a few pages which covered musketry training.
‘G Man’ Smith had produced the evidence in ‘court’, backed-up by his pal, Thomas Wharton, and Béaslaí was sentenced to two years in jail ; ‘G Division’, at the time, consisted of 10 detectives and, due to their zeal for the job, Smith and Wharton soon came to the attention of the IRA.
An IRA man, Paddy O’Daly, received orders from Michael Collins, in early November 1919, to take care of Detective Wharton who, O’Daly was told, could be located on Harcourt Street in Dublin on most days of the week.
On the 10th November 1919 – 102 years ago on this date – two IRA men, Paddy O’Daly and Joe Leonard, who was unarmed at the time, were monitoring the comings and goings on Harcourt Street when they spotted a group of four ‘G Men’, two of whom they knew by sight – Michael Flanagan and Thomas Wharton.
As the four ‘G Men’ crossed over to Cuffe Street, Paddy O’Daly drew his gun, carrying it down by his side, and moved in behind them. He fired one shot at Wharton but before he could follow it up, his gun jammed.
The bullet entered Wharton’s back, went through a lung, passed cleanly through his body and exited out the right side of his chest. There was panic in the street but, before Wharton’s colleagues could return fire, one of them (who was actually working for the IRA within the ‘G Division’ department!) placed himself between the shooters and the other ‘G Men’ and both Paddy O’Daly and Joe Leonard disappeared into the panicking crowd.
Wharton lived to tell the tale but was crippled for life ; the shooting ended his ‘career’ as a ‘G Man’. His shooting was the third such operation carried out by the newly-formed IRA internal group known as ‘The Apostles’.
A passer-by, one Captain William Kearns Batchelor, gave chase to the two IRA men but lost sight of them around the Camden Row area ; he told ‘G Division’ that he could identify at least one of them and pointed-out a Mr James Hurley, a newspaper seller (and an ex-British Army man), as the guilty man!
The finger-pointing Captain had been demobilised from British military ‘service’ a few weeks previously and had applied for a job with the British ‘Colonial Service’ department, and he received £1000 for his (wrong!) information re the shooting of Wharton that day. Indeed, had the ‘G Man’ died in the shooting, the innocent newspaper seller would have been hanged for his death, but he ‘got away lightly’ – he was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment on the ‘word’ of the Captain.
Mr Hurley got released in 1921 due to the ‘Treaty of Surrender’ but, while he was in the process of taking a wounded British soldier to Jervis Street hospital he was shot dead.
(Incidentally, Piaras Béaslaí was a poacher-turned-gamekeeper : he took the soup in the early 1920’s and worked for the Leinster House administration.)
And we’re not interested at all in whether the finger-pointing Captain got his dream job with his ‘Colonial Service’.
ON THIS DATE (10TH NOVEMBER) 101 YEARS AGO : CORK FIGHTER SHOT DEAD BY BRITISH FORCES.
‘On the 10th November 1920 Christy Lucy (/Lucey) [pictured] emerged from his sleeping quarters and descended the hill to Twomey’s house. There are conflicting accounts as to what occurred. Cornelius Cronin recounts that as he was crossing the road ‘an enemy convoy of seven or eight lorries…shot dead Christy Lucey’.
‘Another account reflects that ‘as Christy descended the hill, his view of the road in the valley became more limited. He had actually crossed the road when the Auxiliaries arrived and, seeing him, immediately opened fire on him. He gained the shelter of the house, and had ill-fortune not intervened would have got away from them. Immediately behind the house a mass of rock rose vertically. To provide for such an emergency, as was now Christy’s, a ladder always stood in place against the rock.
It had been temporarily removed and Christy had no option but to make a detour of the rock. This brought him again into view of his enemies who shot him down. He was not armed…’ (from here.)
Christopher Lucy, 22 years of age, B Company, 1st Battalion, Cork No.1 Brigade IRA, lived at Number 3 Pembroke Street, in Cork, and was a medical student at University College Cork. His family owned an agricultural hardware shop on Mulgrave Road in the city.
The Lucy family could trace their roots through Irish history back to ‘The Battle of Keimaneigh’ in 1822, when Irish ‘Whiteboys’ defended themselves against a local pro-British Yeoman militia.
The young man had been incarcerated in Mountjoy Jail, in Dublin, in early 1920, but, after three months, was one of the men released after they embarked on a hunger strike ; he reported back to IRA duty in the Ballingeary area of Cork and was an active Volunteer.
He couldn’t go home, as he would be putting his family in danger, so he stayed with his cousins, the Twomeys, at Tuirin Dubh near Gougane Barra, but still he was cautious – he slept in an outhouse in a field belonging to his cousins and, when satisfied that the enemy were not about, he would make his way to their cottage each morning for a wash and some breakfast.
It was during one such short trip, on Wednesday morning, 10th November 1920 – 101 years ago on this date – as he was half-way to the cottage, that he heard and seen a lorry containing British Army gunmen, from ‘C Company’ of the Auxiliaries, making its way to the same destination.
He ran to the cottage to warn those inside but it was empty – they had already fled, but hadn’t got time to warn Christopher. He was in the cottage at this time, with the British Auxiliaries practically pulling-up at that stage outside the front door ; he ran for the back door and out into the yard with the Crown Forces close behind him, but there wasn’t enough cover to safeguard him – he was shot dead, even though he was unarmed and could have been taken alive.
His gravestone inscription reads –
‘In sweet memory of Christopher Lucy
1st Cork Brigade
Who was killed by the English army in Ballingeary
10 November 1920
Jesus have mercy on him.’
The night after they killed Christopher Lucy, the British killers went to the ‘Market Bar’ in Macroom, in Cork, for a celebratory drink, during which their victim’s name was bandied about, particularly by one of the gunmen, who claimed that he was the one who fired the fatal shot.
The barman was taking mental notes and managed to elicit the name of that mercenary, and passed that information on to the IRA in that area. A few weeks later, that mercenary was taken prisoner by Cork No.1 Brigade of the IRA and he was executed.
ON THIS DATE (10TH NOVEMBER) 160 YEARS AGO : FUNERAL OF A ‘YOUNG IRELANDER’.
Terence Bellew MacManus (pictured) was born in county Fermanagh in 1811. He was a member of the ‘Repeal Party’ and the ‘Young Irelanders’ and took part in the unsuccessfull 1848 uprising in Ballingarry, in County Tipperary.
He was sentenced to death for his part in the Rising, but this was later commuted to transportation for life, and he was sent to Van Diemens Land (Tasmania), but escaped two years later and made his way to America, where he remained in San Francisco for the remainder of his life.
He was the eldest of three children, the father of whom, Philip, was a ‘land agent’ and acted as a ‘judge’ in a local court, and his mother, Alice, who came from a well-to-do family in County Louth. A few years after he was born, the family’s financial position took a bad turn and they ‘down graded’ to a small cottage in the townland of Sheen Mullaghmore, in County Monaghan, where the young Terence Bellew MacManus took a shine to mathematics.
At around 19 years young he began an apprenticeship with a draper in Monaghan town and earned his keep in that business until 1836, when he and one of his friends, Charles Gavin Duffy, decided to seek their fortune in Dublin ; he got a job as a shop assistant and then worked as a travelling salesman for a clothing company and, having learned the business, he moved to Manchester to see if he could start his own textile company in what was then the ‘Free Trade’ capital of England, as restrictions had been eased in that city regarding imports and exports.
It didn’t work out for him, however, so he decided to make a fresh start in Liverpool ; he was 31 years of age and, using contacts that he had made in Ireland and in Manchester, he established a company which dealth in wool. He is said to have made a small fortune but lost most of it within five years because he backed, financially, rail companies which flopped.
He decided to return to Ireland, which he did in the mid-1840’s, and was angry at the poverty he witnessed all around him ; he and his people were in the midst of a so-called ‘famine’, with disease such as typhus fever and cholera stalking the land. A revolutionary organisation, the ‘Young Irelanders’, were attempting to recruit for a rising against British mis-rule in Ireland and Terence Bellew MacManus took on a leadership role in that Movement.
The British ‘police force’ in Ireland, the RIC, were watching developments and were told by their informers of the intentions of the Irish rebels and of the fact that armed men and women, affiliated to the ‘Young Irelanders’, were gathering in Ballingarry, in County Tipperary, and that William Smith O’Brien , James Stephens and Terence Bellew MacManus were in that town, organising the insurgents.
A patrol of forty-six RIC men, from Callan in County Kilkenny, were the first to arrive in Ballingarry, on the 29th July, 1848, knowing that more British Crown re-inforcements were on the way. However, on seeing a rebellious crowd of about one-hundred people, armed with firearms and/or pikes, the Kilkenny RIC decided to retreat until their re-inforcements arrived ; they took over a small house to shelter in, but the Irish rebels had seen them.
The rebels they were hunting had ‘turned the tables’ on them ; five children were in the house, and were now being held as hostages by the RIC, as they knew the rebels would not attack as long as the five McCormick children were there. They also knew that their RIC colleagues were on the way to assist them and they ‘got brave’ ; refusing to release the hostages or surrender, surrounded yet safe from attack, they cleared window-space in the house and fired a volley at the rebels, killing two and wounding about a dozen.
The McCormick children were by now hysterical, the rebels were in disarray as they couldn’t attack but were under fire, and they knew they were about to be surrounded themselves, as British Crown re-inforcements had arrived.
They had to flee and, led by William Smith O’Brien, James Stephens and Terence Bellew MacManus, they headed for the countryside, all ‘Wanted Men’.
O’Brien, MacManus and Thomas Francis Meagher were captured within days and sentenced to death by the British, to which Terence MacManus replied, from the Dock, on the 24th October 1848 –
“I say, whatever part I may have taken in the struggle for my country’s independence, whatever part I may have acted in my short career, I stand before you, my lords, with a free heart and a light conscience, to abide the issue of your sentence.
And now, my lords, this is, perhaps, the fittest time to put a sentence upon record, which is this – that standing in this dock, and called to ascend the scaffold – it may be tomorrow, it may be now, it may be never – whatever the result may be, I wish to put this on record, that in the part I have taken I was not actuated by enmity towards Englishmen, for among them I have passed some of the happiest days of my life, and the most prosperous ; and in no part which I have taken was I actuated by enmity towards Englishmen individually, whatever I may have felt of the injustice of English rule in this island.
I therefore say, that it is not because I loved England less, but because I loved Ireland more, that I now stand before you”.
However, the sentences were later commuted to transportation for life to Tasmania.
Other leaders of the failed 1848 Rising – John O’Mahony, James Stephens and John Blake Dillon – escaped capture and left the country ; John O’Mahony went to America and was one of the founders in that country of the American Fenian Brotherhood (or ‘Clann na Gael’, referred to in Ireland as simply ‘The Organisation’ or the ‘IRB’), while James Stephens made it safely to Paris, France and, that being the time of Louis Napoleon, made contact with several ‘secret societies’ which existed in France at that time.
In 1852, Terence McManus escaped from Van Dieman’s Land and managed to get transport to America, but it wasn’t an easy passage – he later told his friend and fellow-revolutionary, Charles Gavan Duffy, that the trip of “extreme hardship” was “little short of what you can imagine of hell’s flames..”.
The harsh journey weakened him, but he got there and tried to establish himself as a shipping agent in San Francisco, but failed ; he was an ‘old-type’ business man, trying to operate in new times, in which you had to do business in a more cut-throat manner – less scrupulously, to put it mildly, but he couldn’t change to suit the times. He wrote of how these new business practices “were strange to me”, that they were “all wrong, wild, hazardous, false and desperate..”, and that he wanted nothing to do with them.
He died, poverty stricken and disillusioned with his life in San Francisco, on the 15th January 1861, in that city, at only 50 years of age but, even in death, he still managed to challenge the British ; the Fenian Brotherhood in San Francisco seized the moment and decided that MacManus should be repatriated to Ireland and plans were put in place for his remains to be brought to Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin for burial.
It got world-wide publicity for the Fenians and their objectives and allowed them to recruit all across the USA, Britain and Ireland. The funeral plans were put in place – it was to be a two-month, one-way trip back to Ireland for Terence Bellew MacManus, via Panama, New York and Cobh.
The Catholic Church in Ireland, represented by the Cardinal-Archbishop of Dublin, Paul Cullen, denounced the dead Fenian and, again, lambasted that which he stood for and refused to allow MacManus’s coffin to lie in the Pro-Cathedral so, instead, he lay in state in the Mechanic’s Institute on Lower Abbey Street in Dublin city centre, which is where the funeral ceremony took place from.
The funeral procession (on the 10th November 1861 – 160 years ago on this date) at which thousands of uniformed Fenians officiated, made a point of passing sites linked to Robert Emmet, Wolfe Tone and Lord Edward Fitzgerald, and was described at the time as ‘the greatest spectacle ever witnessed in Dublin’ ; an estimated 100,000 people defied the Catholic Church and followed the remains of Terence Bellew MacManus to Glasnevin Cemetery.
Successful fund-raising had ensured that a fitting monument to the man could be built in Glasnevin Cemetery but the inscription was considered, by the Glasnevin Cemetery Committee, to be ‘too political’ and they refused to allow it to be erected but, nonetheless, it was finally put in place in 1933.
“I therefore say, that it is not because I loved England less, but because I loved Ireland more, that I now stand before you..” Terence Bellew MacManus.
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.
The predominant theme which recurs again and again in the editorial columns is that despite the odd hiccup, substantial progress has and continues to be made in achieving political reform within the Six-County State (sic). Although some of the claims are so outlandish as to be absurd when considered by themselves, the object is to create an overall impression that a real change has occurred in the status of Northern nationalists.
The power of the press is considerable and, particularly in the absence of a platform for an alternative view, there is some truth to the idea that if you repeat something often enough it will eventually be accepted as the truth.
The ‘Big Lie’ that ‘The Irish News’ is pushing is that the Hillsborough Treaty has heralded a new era in which the balance of forces in the Six Counties has irrevocably shifted in favour of the nationalist population. The sub-theme is that this progress has been achieved, not through struggle, but by reasoned arguments to those in the ‘vortex of power’, who have now come to realise that Britain has no interest of its own in remaining in Ireland…
ON THIS DATE (10TH NOVEMBER) 142 YEARS AGO : PÁDRAIC PEARSE BORN.
Patrick (Pádraig/Pádraic) Pearse [Pádraig Anraí Mac Piarais] was born in Dublin on the 10th November 1879 – 142 years ago on this date – at 27 Great Brunswick Street, Dublin.
His father, James, was a stonemason and monument sculptor and his mother, Margaret (nee Brady) was a Meath woman who came from traditional Irish stock ; both parents could link their lineage to the ‘Young Irelanders’ and/or the IRB and encouraged their children to learn about Irish history and culture, so much so that Pádraig became an Irish teacher, but also practised as a barrister and was known as a poet, a writer, a republican activist and a revolutionary.
During the 1916 Rising, he was in command of the General Post Office (GPO) in O’Connell Street in Dublin and he ordered a general surrender after a week of heavy fighting, in order to save further loss of life. He was tried and executed by a British firing squad in Kilmainham Jail in Dublin on the 3rd of May 1916 and his younger brother, Willie, was also shot.
by Pádraic Pearse.
“O wise men, riddle me this: what if the dream come true?
What if the dream come true? and if millions unborn shall dwell
In the house that I shaped in my heart, the noble house of my thought?
Lord, I have staked my soul, I have staked the lives of my kin
On the truth of Thy dreadful word. Do not remember my failures,
But remember this my faith
And so I speak.
Yea, ere my hot youth pass, I speak to my people and say:
Ye shall be foolish as I; ye shall scatter, not save;
Ye shall venture your all, lest ye lose what is more than all;
Ye shall call for a miracle, taking Christ at His word.
And for this I will answer, O people,
answer here and hereafter,
O people that I have loved, shall we not answer together?”
ON THIS DATE (10TH NOVEMBER) 101 YEARS AGO : “DEVIL-POSSESSED” RIC MAN PROMOTED.
On the 10th November 1920 – 101 years ago on this date – a career British ‘policeman’ in Ireland, a Richard Cruise, was appointed by Westminster as the new RIC Divisional Commissioner for Galway/Mayo.
One of his first actions was to replace the existing ‘RIC District Inspectors’ with ‘a tougher breed to implement the policy of counter terror’ and, in December, 1920, when the British declared Martial Law in counties Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and Tipperary (extended to Clare and Waterford in January 1921), RIC DC Cruise and his local ‘police force’ operated the same Martial Law restrictions in their area of ‘jurisdiction’ even though he had no ‘authority’ from Westminster, or Dublin Castle, to do so. He done that with the ‘unofficial’ approval of both entities.
Mr Cruise, an Irishman, was proof of the mantra that native born RIC men, almost all of them Catholics and so persumably from a somewhat-nationalist background, were implicated in a large proportion of the shootings of people in and from the Galway area in the period after the 1916 Rising and up to 1922 when that grouping was ‘officially’ dissolved ; some of them joined the new ‘State cops’ organisation and others travelled to their ‘mainland’, having accepted ‘grants’ to do so under the ‘Terms of Disbandment (HO 351/98 – HO 351/102) Act’.
RIC DC Richard Cruise was the district inspector in charge of the Black and Tans and the British Auxiliaries in his area of operation and, according to locals, he slept in Eglinton Street Barracks ‘with steel shutters round his bed’. An exaggeration, more than likely, but it pointed to the fact that he wasn’t ‘well got’ in the fiefdom that had been granted to him by Westminster.
Local reports of his conduct included this gem – “He lead all the raids and seemed to us to be possessed of a devil. I often saw him in the Crossly Tenders full of screaming police which tore along the roads, his head always muffled…”
He and his men had a reputation for their loose living, drinking, wild parties, and cruelty, and it was said of them that they spent their money on drink, and lived on loot, pigs, hens and ducks stolen from country people. They drank anything, mixtures of bovril and whiskey, gin and rum.
‘Cruise Control’(!) : a good example of RIC DC Cruise’s contempt for his fellow Irish natives can be guaged from his orders re the funeral of the murdered publican, shopkeeper and councillor, Micheál Breathnach (Micheál Walsh, pictured), who was taken from his premises, the ‘Old Malt House’ on Quay Street, Galway, and shot dead at Long Walk. His body was found in the mud the next day.
‘Commander’ Cruise issued a public warning that only 50 people would be allowed to walk in the funeral procession, and he enforced that instruction by having an armoured car follow immediately after the procession, followed again by a motor-truck full of armed Black and Tans with their guns aimed specifically from the truck at the people. But crowds still turned out, however – and more than 50.
This same ‘copper’ also involved himself in the shooting of Fr. Michael Griffin ; such was the outcry over that act of savagery that Mr David Lloyd George in Westminster was forced to issue ‘assurances’ that no Crown Force members were involved in that murder.
The IRA investigated the scene and discovered that a British Auxiliary, named ‘Nicholas’, was responsible. After the Treaty of Surrender, RIC DC Cruise admitted to ‘The Connacht Tribune’ newspaper that he knew since it happened that Fr Griffin was shot dead by his men during interrogation at Lenaboy Castle. But, at the time, he went along with his paymaster David Lloyd George and claimed ignorance of the fact.
He further ‘enhanced’ his reputation following a bloody event in Salthill, in County Galway, in 1921, when his men further ‘enhanced’ their ‘reputations’ ;
‘On Saturday night, John Greene and James Egan were lodging at O’Reilly’s Hotel (today the Holiday Hotel and Office Bar) in Salthill.
From Sligo town, Greene was an engineering student at University College, Galway, while Egan was a native of Tuam, Co. Galway, who worked as a Health Insurance Inspector in Co. Mayo. Both men had served in the British Army during the Great War.
After midnight, several masked and armed men raided the hotel. Greene and Egan were taken from their hotel rooms, forced onto the street, and subjected to severe and brutal beatings. Greene was asked, “tell me what you know about Sinn Fein”. When he replied that he knew nothing of Sinn Féin, he was brought to the shore, shot a number of times and left for dead, but survived. Egan was made to walk into the deep sea, was followed and beaten. He was then dragged from the water, told to prepare for death and shot in the leg, before being released…’
Mr Greene and Mr Egan had no idea why they were victimised like that by the British Army/’police’, nor had the locals. And nor had republicans, as those two men were not connected with them. There was no obvious explanation for the brutal attacks. But, in a propaganda-style ‘fightback’, RIC DC Cruise attempted to make a connection with an IRA ambush that had taken place at Spiddal on the day before the two innocent men were attacked.
He wrote : “I very greatly regret this deplorable case, which I believe to be the result of drink acting on the minds of young inexperienced police, whose nerves were strained by the attempted assassination of a Police Patrol at Spiddal the previous night..”
Two of RIC DC Cruise’s men, ‘Constables’ Richard Orford and John Murphy, were the assailants involved ; how soon after the attack that Cruise had their names is not known.
And what of RIC DC Richard Cruise?
In the ‘Weekly Irish Times’ newspaper of Saturday, 22nd July 1922, an advertisement was published looking for ex-RIC men to join Divisional Commissioner Richard F. Cruise in his efforts to establish a co-operative fruit and market-garden business and settlement near Kamloops, in ‘British Columbia’.
He and his thug colleagues knew they wouldn’t be welcome in the changed political landscape of the (corrupt) Free State so they were looking to leave one British colony for another – their hoped-for new home was named ‘British Columbia’ by the then British ‘queen’, Victoria, the ‘Famine (sic) Queen’, when ‘it became a colony’ in 1858.
Hopefully, he got “the devil” knocked out of him in his new abode.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
‘The winds raged and the thunder crashed across the land,
and by the lightning flashed I saw a rain drenched band
wending its way and bearing shoulder high
a bier, against the elements of nature, silhouetted against the sky.
Their eyes were tear stained, their faltering footsteps slow,
spiritless, yet moving men, their heads in shame hung low.
There beside a cairn of high rough granite stones
they stopped and the air was rent with loud and sad ocones.
And I being curious asked of one ‘Who is dead?’
And ‘Why the midnight funeral when the people are abed?’
He would have answered then, but from a lightning flash
a soldier appeared, tall and straight, the thunder ceased to crash…’
ON THIS DATE (10TH NOVEMBER) IN…
..1783 : a ‘National Convention’ of delegates “from all the Volunteers of Ireland” was held on this date in Dublin “..pursuant to the concurrant desire of the Four Provinces of the Kingdom..” and, while it seems that some ‘business’ was done, the meeting was apparently “..thence continued by Adjournment, till Tuesday the 2d [sic] Day of December following, in order to take into Consideration, the Subject of a More Equal Representation of the People in Parliament..”.
The little bit of information that’s available on that event come from a cache entitled the ‘Wolfe Family (pictured) of Forenaughts Papers, 1654-1939′, of which the following is known :
‘Papers of the Wolfe family of Forenaughts, Co. Kildare ; the collection consists for the most part of the papers of Col. John Wolfe M.P. and reflect his involvement in the Kildare Militia and Forenaughts Cavalry, the active role he played in opposing the United Irish Rebellion in Co. Kildare, the continuing political and social unrest in the county over the proceeding decade and his correspondence with various members of the Dublin Castle administration up to 1814. The collection also includes some correspondence of Col. Wolfe’s brother the Rev. Richard Wolfe (1787-1841) who inherited Forenaughts in 1816, and George Wolfe (1859-1941), whose military and later parlimentary career as a Cumann na nGaedheal TD for Kildare are evidenced in the papers. The collection also contains fragmentary material relating to the Burgh family of Limerick (largely 17th and 18th century), other members of the Wolfe family and their various connections through marriage…’
“..involvement in the Kildare Militia and Forenaughts Cavalry..the active role he played in opposing the United Irish Rebellion in Co. Kildare..correspondence with various members of the Dublin Castle administration..parlimentary career as a Cumann na nGaedheal TD..” – not the most savory of character or family of characters, perhaps, as it is apparent that he/they were not overly concerned or, indeed, affected by, the widespread poverty which was common then.
We’ll leave it at that, so.
..1921 : Having left Hamburg on the 28th October, Charlie McGuinness sailed the Frieda into Waterford Harbour. He had got held up by bad weather, and fog of Helvick Head meant that he couldn’t give the agreed signal, so he moored the Frieda behind an island and rowed ashore.
He went in search of local Sinn Féin leader, Dr Vincent White and, after a bit of convincing, White accompanied McGuinness to view the cargo of the Frieda. Dr White then organised to have the cargo unloaded and sent a message to Pax Whelan who sent cars to pick up the guns and ammunition and bring them to Keatings of Kilrossanty in the Comeragh mountains and, from there, they were distributed to the Southern and Midlands Divisions of the IRA. (more here.)
..1921 : Spike Island (pictured) Prison Escape ;
‘A second escape from the 1921 prison on Spike Island took place on the 10th November 1921. Seven Volunteer Officers, Maurice Twomey, William Quirke, Tom Crofts, Henry O’Mahony, Dick Barrett, Paddy Buckley and Jack Eddy got away under cover of darkness without (supposedly) any help from inside or outside or from any member of the garrison (the Cameron highlanders at the time). They had to outwit the count at 4pm, get over or under two eight foot walls topped with barbed wire and having a forty foot moat between them, they had to evade the sweeping search light and the patrolling sentries, and to search in the darkness for a boat…’ (more here.)
Tomas O Maoileoin (aka ‘Sean Forde’), Commandant General of the IRA, was tortured after being captured while attempting to take on a group of four armed Black and Tans with his bare hands. He was part of the ‘school’ of Irish republicanism which could endure – but would also inflict, as this anecdote concerning his escape from Spike Island (on Saturday, 29th April 2021) illustrates –
“Half creeping, half running, I made up the slope to him. He saw me alright, but he had no bullet up the breech of his rifle, and he did not know but that this might be a game. When he attempted to pull the bolt, I was already upon him, expertly swinging the hammer at his temple.
I had to prevent a shot being fired, or the whole barracks would be alerted. He went down pole-axed. To make sure, I struck his head a second blow. I must say, after a lifetime of struggle on behalf of Irish culture and freedom for the Irish people, I see no differences in the fighting being waged against England’s domination of this country today and the fight we fought in Westmeath in 1916 and in East Limerick in 1920 and 1921. As far as I am concerned they are the same people at grips with the same enemy…”
They are indeed the “same enemy” ; they are just wearing a different uniform.
And, finally – a ‘Short Story’ about why it is that we won’t be here next Wednesday, 17th November 2021 : we are preparing for, and will be present at, the 116th Ard Fheis of SFP/RSF, which is being held over the coming weekend (Saturday 13th November) and we’ll be helping to sort out paperwork etc afterwards, so – bleedin’ rapid an’ all as we are, and even being the multitaskers that we are, we’re not gonna be able to do all that and all this, too!
And, as if that’s not enough (!), we’ll be having a ‘working holiday’ the following day, Sunday 14th – at the Kevin Barry Commemoration.
So…we’ll be back on the 24th November 2021 with, I’m told – among other pieces – a story of an Irish republican who escaped from prison after only two weeks ‘inside’, and another Irish republican who wasn’t so lucky and was put to death by former comrades.
Thanks for the visit, and for reading : see ye on the 24th,