ON THIS DATE (1ST DECEMBER) 147 YEARS AGO : ICA CHIEF-OF-STAFF BORN IN DUBLIN.
‘Commandant Michael Mallin, Chief of Staff of the Irish Citizen Army, was one of the executed. He was court-martialled on the 5th of May 1916, found guilty of treason, and executed on May 8th of 1916. There was public disquiet at the secrecy surrounding these court-martials and the speed with which the executions were taking place.
Public and legal representatives made every effort to stop the executions. They denounced the secrecy of the military courts and demanded sight of the court-martial records and of the evidence on which the sentences of executions were being carried out. The British Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, gave a commitment in the House of Commons that he would release court-martial records.
However, after much debate and legal wrangling, the British military intervened and blocked their release. Consequently, the records of these secret court-martials were kept sealed, indefinitely, in the British archives. At one point it was believed all of the records had been destroyed…’ (from here.)
Michael Mallin was born on the 1st December, 1874, in Ward’s Hill in the Liberties area of Dublin ; he was the eldest of six children who survived to adulthood – five children died in childhood due to the poor living conditions in the slums where they were born.
He got some education at the local National School in Denmark Street but his uncle, James Dowling, a British Army man, convinced the then 15-years-young Michael that his future lay in military service and his advice was heeded ; in 1889, the child enlisted in the British Army as a drummer with the regimental band of the 21st Royal Scots Fusiliers and was to ‘serve king and country’ for 13 years and fifty-nine days , six years of which he spent in India.
His mother had an understanding of Irish republicanism but her family were involved themselves in the British war machine so the young lad was surrounded by tales of ‘derring-do’ and wanted to ‘play his part’.
It was during those six years in India that he received the rest of his education ; having witnessed at first hand the suffering inflicted on India by Westminster, he wrote to his wife Agnes (pictured, nee Hickey), in Ireland –
“…we (the British ’empire’) aught (sic) to leave the poor people alone…if I were not a soldier I would be out fighting for them…the British Army is a hell on earth. I wish I were well out of it but I did not think it was so bad until I came out here. The war (sic) is lasting a very long time, Dear, we aught (sic) to leave the poor people alone for I am sure they will never give in and they have proved brave men, God help them.
I wish it was for Erin that I was fighting and not against these poor people…I am very proud, Dear, to have a medal (for the ‘Tirah Campaign’) but would be far prouder if it was for Ireland I earned it. It is the likes of me that keeps mine and your country down, God help her…all the chance of being killed fighting for the robber flag that I am serving under is all over. If ever I am to die by bayonet or bullet I hope it is against it (ie against ‘the robber flag’) for Ireland.”
For the first few years of his ‘service for the empire’ he was stationed in various barracks around Ireland and Britain and, as part of his training, he not only learned how to use several musical instruments but also received much of the same training as regular soldiers, a skill he was later to put to good use after he returned to Ireland – he was the ‘go-to’ man for drilling the Irish Citizen Army (ICA), where he was second-in-command to James Connolly.
As the Commander of the dissident Irish republican garrison at St Stephens Green in Dublin during Easter Week in 1916, he was sentenced to death by field court martial on the 5th May 1916 (the presiding British Army officer at his court martial was Colonel Ernest Maconchy) and was executed by a British Army firing squad on the 8th May.
His wife, Agnes, was pregnant on their fifth child when her husband was executed in Kilmainham Gaol and that, and the fact that he was leaving his family financially destitute, no doubt contributed greatly to his conduct at his ‘trial’ : he denied holding any commission in the Irish Citizens Army, said he had no prior knowledge of plans for a Rising, and stated that he was never in the confidence of James Connolly. He told the ‘court’ that he was a mere foot soldier in St Stephen’s Green, acting under the command of Countess Markievicz during Easter Week.
His wife, Agnes, developed consumption after the execution of her husband and never completely recovered. She died in 1932 at the age of 54 from a bone disease that affected her spine and kept her bedridden for the last year of her life.
Shortly before he was executed by the British, Michael was asked by his brother if the price he was about to pay was worth it ; he replied –
“It is worth it. Ireland is a grand country, but the people in it are rotters. I am dying in the hope that we have made Ireland a better Ireland for you to live in..”
Unfortunately, it has turned out to be ‘a better Ireland for the rotters to live in’.
‘BRITISH ARMY MADE TO LOOK FOOLISH.’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, July, 1954.
Dr. Robert S. Nixon, Unionist MP for North Down, told a reporter that the British Army had been made “to look foolish” in ‘Northern Ireland’.
“Ulster men and women,” he said, “are shocked to have had suddenly thrown in their face another act by what must be assumed to be the Irish Republican Army. That this treasonable and revolutionary organisation exists to a greater degree than was generally accepted is a very great blow.
We have known of certain acts in England, mainly at Falstead School in Essex, in Liverpool and in Dublin.”
The raid – flashed across the globe by the big international agencies, such as the ‘Press Assassociation’, ‘United Press’ and ‘Reuter’ – made frontpage headlines on the five continents.
Even on the same night it was listed among the six news headlines over AFN on their midnight bulletin. In America, it was carried by radio and television networks that same evening, while several of the leading dailies gave it prominent publicity.
(END of ‘British Army Made To Look Foolish’ and ‘Worldwide Headlines’ ; NEXT – ‘The Armagh Action’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE* (1ST DECEMBER) 120 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF AN ‘IDA’ FOUNDER.
“From the time I came to what have been called the years of discretion, my entire thought has been devoted to Ireland. I believed the course I pursued was right ; others may take a different view. When the proceedings of this trial go forth to the world, the people will say that the cause of Ireland is not to be despaired of, that Ireland is not yet a lost country — that as long as there are men in any country prepared to expose themselves to every difficulty and danger in its service, prepared to brave captivity, even death itself if needs be, that country cannot be lost…” – Thomas Clarke Luby (pictured) was born in Dublin on the 16th January 1822.
His mother was of a different religious persuasion from his father (a Tipperary-born Church of Ireland clergyman) and both parents were determined that their son, Thomas, should be ‘successful’ in life : he was educated at Trinity College, in Dublin, from where he graduated in 1840, then studied law at ‘The Temple’, in London.
However, he became more interested in journalism than in practising law and, as a ‘toff’ with a solid social conscience, he joined the ‘Repeal Association’ but came to the opinion that that organisation was not prepared to go far enough in defending Irish society from the ravages inflicted on it by Westminster and joined a more radical organisation, the ‘Young Irelanders’ and was active in the 1848 Rising.
When that rebellion was put down by the British, Luby and other ‘dissidents’ established a new revolutionary organisation, the ‘Irish Democratic Association’ (‘IDA’) and once again challenged British misrule in Ireland – but, once again, they failed in their endeavours.
Shortly after that failure, Luby went to France in the hope of improving his military tactics and then to Australia, where he stayed for about a year, before returning to Ireland. He made his living through journalism (mostly working for, and with, ‘The Tribune’ newspaper) and, in 1858, he helped establish the ‘Irish Republican Brotherhood’, known as the ‘Fenians’, with the avowed and same purpose of that of his previous efforts – to overthrow British rule in Ireland and establish an Irish Republic.
Such were the times he lived in – including the period in our history when the ‘Irish National Invincibles’ struck a blow for Irish freedom – Thomas Clarke Luby supported and/or was involved in every such effort. He died in Oak Street, in Jersey City, at 79 years of age, in 1901, from paralysis, on the 1st December, 1901, and is buried, with his wife, in Bay View Cemetery in that city, under a headstone which reads – ‘Thomas Clarke Luby 1822–1901. He devoted his life to love of Ireland and quest of truth.’
Unfortunately, his objective remains unfulfilled.
(Different sources give different dates of death for Thomas Clarke Luby ; two dates are mentioned – 1st December 1901 and 29th November 1901 but, regardless, the man deserves a mention.)
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.
Strangely, having claimed such outstanding achievements from the Hillsborough Treaty, as we approach the 2nd anniversary of the ‘deal’, the ‘Irish News’ has not attempted to explain why it is that it still seems impossibe to get the ‘Belfast Says No’ banner removed from Belfast City Hall.
But even more sweeping changes are claimed : there has been a “major shift, even a reversal” of traditional British policy in regard to Ireland, and the Secretariat of Dublin civil servants at Maryfield is now an “accepted part of the government of Northern Ireland” (sic) (‘The Irish News’, June 5th).
And still more reform is just around the corner – for instance, the elusive “Anglo-Irish parliamentary tier (which) it may be unrealistic to expect the creation of this side of the next Westminster general election. Such a parliamentary body will further develop the unique relationship between the British and Irish people and will give TD’s (sic) an opportunity to put forward their views on the need for reforms in Northern Ireland..” (sic) (‘The Irish News’, April 3rd)…
ON THIS DATE (1ST DECEMBER) 49 YEARS AGO : DUBLIN BOMBED BY BRITISH AND PRO-BRITISH AGENTS.
On the 1st December, 1972 – 49 years ago on this date – at 7.58pm and 8.15pm, two car bombs exloded in Dublin city centre killing two CIÉ workers and injuring 127 other people.
The first car bomb exploded on Eden Quay, near Liberty Hall, and the second device exploded in Sackville Place, near O’Connell Street. Two men, George Bradshaw (30) and Thomas Duff (23), both CIE bus conductors, were killed in the second explosion.
A late and short phone warning had been telephoned to the ‘Belfast Newsletter’ newspaper by a man with an English accent a few minutes before the first explosion and, even though no group claimed responsibility for the bombings, the blame initially fell on Irish republicans, but afterwards suspicion fell on British agents operating within the UVF.
At the time of the explosions, Leinster House politicians were debating the ‘Offences Against the State (Amendment) Bill’, which would have given the State much greater powers against the PIRA.
“I will believe until the day I die that the British government or British agents were involved in the death of my husband..” (Mrs Monica Duffy-Campbell ; more here.)
It should be noted that both the criminal groups mentioned above – the British Army and the UVF – are still causing trouble in Ireland.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
“Must you attempt the work in which our foe has failed,
here with impunity and your conscience unassailed?
Here would you bury the un-dead spirit of our land,
here would you shackle freedom by your unworthy hand.
Here would you undo the work which in Armagh was wrought,
here would you undo the work for which brave men have fought.
Here would you our cherished hopes bury beneath the clay,
whilst even now are suffering the men of the IRA.
Weep not, for tears this crime of yours cannot erase,
but only deeds can now redeem your dark disgrace.
Here in the name of God and of our tortured land
stand by the IRA ; give them a helping, willing hand…”
ON THIS DATE (1ST DECEMBER) 77 YEARS AGO : ‘CHARLES HANLEY/PAT CARNEY’ HANGED BY THE STATERS.
Charlie Kerins (pictured, aka ‘Charlie Hanley/Pat Carney’) from Tralee in County Kerry, was born on the 23rd January, 1918, in a small town called Caherina. At 17 years young he joined the local IRA and defended his political position against the Blueshirts and, at 24 years of age, he joined the GHQ staff in Dublin.
That same year – 1944 – in June, at which point he had been the IRA Chief of Staff for 20 months, he was ‘arrested’ by the Staters and accused before a Military Tribunal with the shooting of poacher-turned-gamekeeper Dinny O’Brien in 1942. No evidence was offered to the Tribunal by the Free State, and non was needed – the Tribunal delayed sentence until later in the day to allow Kerins to make an application to it whereby he might avoid the capital sentence ie plead for his life.
Charlie Kerins gave them his answer – “You could have adjourned for six years as far as I’m concerned, as my attitude towards this Court will always be the same”. He refused to recognise the court, regarding it as a Free State junta which was not properly constituted nor in accordance with the Irish Republic that had been declared in 1916.
He was sentenced to death by hanging and made a statement to the ‘court’ –“All I can say is that if the Free State authorities are satisfied that I got a fair trial here, I hope their consciences are clear on that point. If this is an example of de Valera’s justice, freedom and democracy, then I would like to know what dictatorship and militarism are. That is about all I have to say”.
No Irish person would take the job as executioner, so de Valera hired an English hangman, Albert Pierrepoint, to hang the IRA man. Charlie Kerins climbed the scaffold at 8am on December 1st, 1944 – 77 years ago on this date – the last republican soldier to die on the gallows for Ireland, and the Staters buried him in a yard in Mountjoy Jail, in Dublin. In September 1948, the remains of Charlie Kerins were released from the prison yard and handed over to his relatives.
Escorted by an IRA guard of honour and followed by thousands of republicans, including many who had served with him in the IRA, and contingents of Fianna Éireann, Cumann na mBan, Clan na Gaedheal and Cumann na gCailini, the funeral made its way towards Dublin city centre and, from there, to Tralee, in his native County Kerry.
The oration was delivered by Tomas MacCurtain (son of the assassinated Mayor of Cork). It should be noted that, during the 1940’s, the Republican Movement was in a bad way, virtually decimated, following the years of internment ; the execution and funeral of Charlie Kerins (and five other republicans) boosted the Movement and dramatically improved the organisations recruitment capabilities . A terrible price had been paid by Irish republicans but the Movement re-grouped, once again, and continued the struggle.
What, said Cathal Brugha, if our last man’s on the ground,
when he hears the ringing challenge, if his enemies ring him round ;
If he’d reached his final cartridge — if he fired his final shot –
‘Will you come into the empire?’ He would answer, I will not.
“All I ask is that the ideals and principals for which I am about to die for will be kept alive until the Irish Republic is finally enthroned.” – Charlie Kerins.
ON THIS DATE (1ST DECEMBER) IN…
…1494 ; on the 1st December, 1494 – 527 years ago on this date – ‘Poynings Law’ (named after Edward Poyning, Henry VII of England’s ‘Lord Deputy’) was enacted in England in regards to Ireland ; it was thereafter deemed to be ‘illegal’ for any political representatives in Ireland to convene as an assembly without permission from the English ‘king’ and, even if he gave his ‘permission’, any laws or Bills that they approved would first have to be approved by their ‘majesty’ and his Privy Council.
It took the English 384 years to have enough faith in their planters in Ireland to scrap ‘Ponyings Law’, which they did in 1878.
Well…they scrapped that ‘law’ then, but whether they have any faith in their planters is another thing…
…1848 ; on the 1st December, 1848 – 173 years ago on this date – the paddle steamer ‘The Londonderry’ (pictured), which was carrying groups of poor people from the Sligo area trying to get to Liverpool to escape an attempted genocide in their own country, fell victim to a severe storm which tore the grids from its deck.
The ship, seven years old at the time, weighing 222 tons and operated by a crew of 26 sailors, took shelter in Derry Harbour and, on being examined for repairs, it was discovered that 174 people were being transported in the cargo hold, an area comprising 23 feet by 18 feet ; 72 of those poor people were dead, having suffered from both suffocation and injuries sustained from being packed and crushed into such a small area.
An ‘official’ investigation recommended that the crew should be charged with manslaughter but the ‘incident’ was overshadowed because hundreds of thousands of Irish people were dying from starvation at that same time.
…1920 ; in an attempt to tighten their grip in Ireland, following ‘Bloody Sunday’ and the Kilmichael Ambush, Westminster instructed their ‘Chief Secretary’ in Ireland, ‘Sir’ Hamar Greenwood, to prepare to introduce martial law (ie restricted movement and all courts and civil authorities etc to come under military control) in whatever areas he deemed fit.
British military ‘middle management’ in Ireland were of the opinion that all 32 Counties should be looked at in regards to being ‘locked down’ but ‘Sir’ Hamer and his boss in London, Lloyd George, thought it would serve their interests better to just enforce martial law in what they called “distant provinces” and leave Dublin open which, they reckoned, would encourage the Irish ‘dissident’ leadership to strike a deal with them least Dublin, too, be hampered by the new policy.
Westminster’s ‘Lord Lieutenant’ in Ireland, ‘Sir’ John French, did not agree with leaving Dublin untouched but he was ‘outvoted’ and, nine days later, he issued a proclamation imposing martial law on Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary and, on the 30th December, that British policy was extended to Kilkenny, Clare, Wexford and Waterford. That obviously made things harder for the Republican Movement to defend itself and the country, but they persevered, nonetheless!
…1920 ; an IRA Volunteer, Patrick Clancy, from Ballylusky, Drangan, in County Tipperary, is listed as having died on this date (1st December) in 1920, but details are non-existent. We came across information showing that the Clancy family were active in the on-going struggle to remove the British military and political presence from Ireland, and that, on the 19th of November 1920, a Second Lieutenant Patrick Clancy, 3rd Tipperary Brigade IRA, 7th Battalion, Drangan, was shot and killed by British forces at Corbally/Ballylusky. We leave this information here for reference purposes.
…1920 ; Thomas Keighary, from Galway, was born in 1879 and grew-up to become a British ‘policeman’, a Sergeant, in the RIC, in Ireland.
On the 1st December in 1920, he was part of a check-point on a bridge over the River Boyne at Kilcarne, outside Navan, in County Meath, when he was shot dead. A British soldier later owned up, claiming that it was an accident.
…1922 ; 1st December – The Meath/North Kildare IRA column, with Paddy Mullaney, a school teacher from Balla, in County Mayo in command, is captured near Pike’s Bridge, Leixlip, on the Dublin-Kildare border after a long fight ; the column were eventually pinned down around the Ballygoran area, after they had occupied a large country house, ‘Grangewilliam’, the residence of Mr Cornelius Kehely. One State soldier, Private Joseph Moran, 35 years old, from Kilcock, in County Kildare, lost his life in the battle, as did one IRA man. 3 other IRA men were wounded.
22 IRA fighters were taken as prisoners, five of whom were found to have left the Free State Army to join the IRA ; they were Leo Dowling (18), Sylvester Heaney (19), Terrence Brady (18), Laurence Sheehy (21) and Anthony O’Reilly (age unknown) ; all five men were executed by a Free State Army firing squad at Portobello Barracks in Dublin on the 8th January 1923.
The IRA column was well-armed, as the Staters captured 21 rifles, 1 Lewis machine gun, 1 Thompson submachine gun, 5 revolvers, 1 ‘Peter the Painter’ automatic pistol, 5 grenades and around 1000 rounds of ammunition.
…1922 ; Hundreds of Free State Army soldiers carry out a major operation in Dublin, setting up checkpoints at all major roads in an effort to halt the daily small-scale ambushes in the city which were being carried out by the IRA. The Staters were stopping and searching all in-coming traffic and were also frisking any male civilians they encountered for arms ; three men were found carrying weapons and were detained ‘for questioning’. That same night, the Free State military barracks at Tallaght in County Dublin was attacked, and four Free State soldiers were wounded by gunfire.
…1922 ; Free State soldiers from the ‘Dublin Guard’ end a week of sweeps in Kerry, having raided Rathmore, Killcummin and Barraduff. They captured 39 IRA men as well as arms and equipment and, in another sweep in the Currow/Scartaglen area, they took 15 prisoners and 4 more were captured elsewhere in the county.
…1969 ; Patrick Corry (61) (pictured) died four months after being struck with batons by the RUC during an altercation with the RUC on the 2nd August 1969. He was attacked by the British ‘police force’ at Unity Flats, off Upper Library Street in Belfast, and he died from his injuries on the 1st December, 1969.
…1975 ; Paul Fox (20) and Laura Crawford (25), two IRA members, were killed in a car park in King Street, Belfast, when the bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely.
…1980 ; three women republican prisoners in Armagh Prison joined the existing hunger strike on the 1st December, 1980. Mairéad Nugent (21), Mary Doyle (24) and Mairéad Farrell (23) (pictured) issued a statement stating that they were “…prepared to fast to the death, if necessary, but our love for justice and our country will live forever…”
Additional volunteers were selected as ‘back-ups’ to take the place of the three women in the event of a death.
…1986, 1st December ; the share prices of Guinness plummeted by 40p on this day in 1986, after the British government announced they were investigating the conduct of several senior company employees. There were suspicions of insider dealing, with some employees buying shares in the company based on privileged information about a forthcoming takeover of a Scottish whiskey firm. The employees then sold the shares at a profit once the takeover was complete.
Several Guinness employees were jailed for fraud and false accounting offences, including former Chief Executive Ernest Saunders. But if that alone doesn’t put ya off yer Guinness, perhaps the fact that it’s a ‘black protestant porter’ will…!
Thanks for the visit, and for reading,