ON THIS DATE (15TH DECEMBER) 101 YEARS AGO : ‘INSANE’ ADRIC MEMBER SHOOTS TWO PEOPLE DEAD.
An elderly priest in Dunmanway, in Cork – 73-year-old Canon Magner, had no time for the British and was a vocal and well-known Irish republican supporter.
In early November 1920, the Black and Tans entered his Church and demanded that Canor Magner show “respect” on the up-coming ‘Armistice (Poppy) Day’ which, that year, fell on the 11th November.
Canon Magner was told by them to toll the church bells twice (to mark the second anniversary of the ending of the ‘European War’) at eleven AM, and they warned him that he would be severely dealt with if he did not comply. The same demand, in writing, was nailed to the door of the Church by one of the Tans, on their way out of the building.
On the 11th November 1920 – ‘Poppy Day’ (favoured by Mr Varadkar) – the Church bells remained silent. Canon Magner went about his business, and the Black and Tans went about their ‘business’ ; days passed, with only the usual snide comments and remarks coming from the British forces to the priest and his parishoners. The days passed into weeks, with no retribution from the Tans over Canon Magner’s refusal to toll the bells.
However, in Bandon Town on the morning of the 15th December (1920 – 101 years ago on this date), Canon Magner (pictured) was walking that afternoon with a young lad that he knew, Timothy Crowley, who had learning difficulties, when they came across a car with its bonnet up. The driver, a Mr. P Brady, was a ‘resident magistrate’ from Rosebank, Skibbereen, in Cork, and Canor Magner and the young lad offered to try and push-start the car.
The three of them knew each other and, as they stood talking on the side of the road, two Crossley Tender trucks, each carrying British Auxiliaries, passed them, but the last truck, containing about ten armed men, reversed back to where the three of them were standing.
The Auxilary commander, Vernon Anwyl Hart, got out of the truck and walked up to Timothy Crowley and asked him for his ID/paperwork. Before the young lad could move, Hart shot him dead. He then turned to Canon Magner and, according to the evidence of one of the Auxiliaries, “started talking to him.” Two other Auxies went towards the priest but Hart turned round to them, waving his revolver. They backed away.
Hart seized the hat from the priest’s head and threw it on the ground and made him kneel down. He fired, wounding the priest, and then fired again, killing him. Mr. P Brady, the ‘resident magistrate’, who was a witness to the murders, was also threatened with death, but he took cover and escaped. He later reported the shootings to the British Officer in charge of the Bandon area ; there were too many witnesses for the British to do nothing about it, so a ‘trial’ was held ; the gunman who shot the two people dead – Hart – was charged with murder and was found ‘guilty but insane’.
The ‘insane’ British shooter, Vernon Anwyl Hart, from Waterloo, in Lancashire in England, was ‘moved sidewards’ by Westminster to a position as a ‘Chief Horticulturist’ in a South African town called Potgietersrus (now known as Mokopane), situated about 200 miles north of Pretoria. He died in Cape Town, on the 22nd August 1937, in the Golden Valley Hotel, Somerset East, Cape Provence, suffering from Oedema (‘Dropsy’).
We presume his wife felt the loss.
‘THE ARMAGH ACTION…’
This dramatic account of the action was given to one of our representatives in an interview with one of the men who took part.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, July, 1954.
We then fell out and a meal was served, during which we talked among ourselves about the arms raid and the general feeling was one of eagerness and happiness.
As yet, of course, we only knew the nature of the action in which we were about to engage and no details as to the plan had yet been given to us. After the meal we sat lazily around ; some were chatting, others were having a read, but all showed an air of expectancy.
The Plan – Maps and Photographs :
In about half an hour we were told to sit around and listen carefully to the plan of action. “First of all,” said the OC, “I will run over it in general outline. Let me impress upon you that the plan depends on speed, cool nerves and precision timing.”
Large maps and photographs were then produced, revealing in detail the layout of the objective. The general plan of attack was then unfolded, and each man was instructed as to his particular job, after which questions were invited and answered. When each man had been briefed, the line of retreat was then marked out.
Each Volunteer got a map of the area and if necessary could look after himself should an emergency arise…
ON THIS DATE (15TH DECEMBER) 100 YEARS AGO – ‘TREATY’ PAPERWORK REDACTED/STOLEN/INTERFERED WITH.
The ‘Treaty of Surrender’ was signed in the early hours of Tuesday, 6th December 1921, under a British threat of “terrible and immediate war” if the Irish plenipotentiaries – Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, Eamon Duggan, Robert Barton and George Gavan Duffy – refused to accept it.
Those five men, and others had, in actual fact, accepted partition, dominion status within the “community of nations known as the British Empire” (a status “the same as that of the Dominion of Canada”) and lost several ports, as well as – whether they knew it then or not – become the leadership of an anti-republican military and political grouping in their new 26-County State.
The document was put to Dáil Éireann (the 32-County institution, not to be confused with the Free State entity based on Kildare Street in Dublin) for ratification eight days later and, on the 7th January, 1922, it was ratified by just a seven-vote margin. Between it being ‘offered’ by the British and it being ‘accepted’ by the Dáil (by a mere seven vote majority) there was many a ‘twist and turn’, as can be gauged by this verbal exchange, which took place in the Dáil on Thursday, 15th December 1921 -100 years ago on this date –
MR. MICHAEL COLLINS – “Mr. Speaker, there is just a little matter to which I would like to refer before anything else is said. It is this. My private office was raided last night and important books and documents were taken. Is there any member here who accepts responsibility for that raid?”
PRESIDENT DE VALERA – “As head of the Government here I must say I know nothing whatever about any such raid.”
MR. CATHAL BRUGHA – “And as the head of the army I also say that I know nothing whatever about it. That is the first I heard about it.”
MR. AUSTIN STACK – “As the head of the Home Affairs Department I say that I do not believe it necessary to answer any such question, because we would not stoop to such low tactics.”
MR. M. COLLINS – “The second question that I want to ask is a question of the President. I presume he has now got a copy on which the word “Treaty” is blacked out, to show to us as the delegation, and I suppose the members are entitled to see it too.
PRESIDENT DE VALERA – “Yes, I find that something was blacked out, and I took it to be the word “Treaty”. It was the blacking out that drew my attention to the fact that the word “Treaty” did not exist, because I took it the word “Treaty” was blacked out. At the same time, I want it to be made quite clear still that on the only signed copy we have, there is no word “Treaty” in it.”
MR. COLLINS – “With regard to the blacked out it arose in this way. The head of the document read, “Proposed Articles of Agreement”, and when we signed it they became “Articles of Agreement” and the word “Proposed” was struck out….”
So, in effect, the prose was changed by the British without notification ie unilaterally, and the newly-altered wording was still deemed ‘suitable’ by Michael Collins and his supporters ; Mr Collins’ claim that “books and documents were taken” following a ‘raid’ on his office – by anti-Treaty elements, he meant – would have been another of his ‘Dead Cat’ moments.
We say ‘another’ because that Treaty itself was a dead dodo, which needed something – anything – to either distract from it or add to the confusion around it.
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.)
A notable feature of the editorials is the approach to British policies ; they tread a careful path, freely criticising Thatcherism and Tory social policy in general, while making only qualified objections to how British rule is implemented in Ireland, for instance by objecting to ‘excesses’ of the RUC.
The point is that ‘The Irish News’ can do no more, because they are firmly committed to upholding the centrepiece of British policy for Ireland – the Hillsborough Treaty. So while it is possible to be sharply critical of Toryism in the areas of unemployment, NHS cuts and education, for example, and even characterise the prospect of a Tory victory in the election as “disastrous” for the unemployed and public services (May 11th), no effort is made to place the blame for the fundamental problems in the Six Counties on Britain’s imperialist rule.
A simpler formula is applied – problems in the past were the result of unionist bigotry, but problems in the present are the result of the continued armed struggle by republicans…
(‘1169’ comment – which is exactly how the political ‘service providers’ in Stormont operate today, which is to be expected from the unionist/loyalist politicians in that institution, as they see themselves as singing from the same imperialist political hymn sheet as their counterparts in London. But the so-called ‘nationalist/republican’ element in that British imposed structure will criticise ‘local’ short-fallings in funding etc but will not relate those short-fallings to its proper ‘home’ ie Britain’s imperialist rule.)
(‘Nail-on-the-head’ again, and that from 1987 ; those that published that sentiment then will today attempt to explain that the reason they have not yet (!) ‘put manners on the RUC’ is because ‘the dissidents, because they still exist, are preventing the [RUC/]PSNI from becoming a normal police force..’ when, in actual fact, there can never be ‘a normal police force’ in any territory that is militarily and politically occupied.)
BODY OF FREE STATE ARMY ‘MP’ KILLED BY FREE STATE CAPTAIN FOUND.
‘We record here the death of Joe Bergin, of the “Free State” Military Police, because we and others experienced kindness at his hands during the Hunger Strike of 1923, when he was stationed at Tintown 3 on the Curragh of Kildare.
We record it also because it illustrates the savage methods employed by men who allowed themselves to fall into the power of the English and then struck wildly at all but their captors. We have said elsewhere that the combined influence of the Catholic Hierarchy and of the I.R.B. carried the Treaty of Surrender. That is quite true. The I.R.B. was made use of later when the “unauthorised murders” came to be committed. It is even to be feared that there were two sections or cliques of the I.R.B. within the “Free State” Army.
Joe Bergin believed there were. He belonged to one of them and fell under suspicion because he was kind and helpful to republican prisoners and carried messages from them to their friends in Dublin. He was watched and followed. He was seen to enter a house of a republican in Dublin City. Certain men from the Intelligence Department of the “Free State” Army were sent down by car to intercept and “interrogate” him on his way back to Camp. They met him, questioned him, tortured him, mutilated him, then tied ropes round his body, which was still alive, and dragged him along the road for miles, the car travelling at top speed.
Then they riddled the poor body with bullets and threw it into the canal. That was on December 13, 1923. A man named Murray, attached to the “Free State” Intelligence Department, was found guilty of the murder and condemned to death in 1925. The sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life. A witness at the trial volunteered the information that Murray “knew something” about the murder of Noel Lemass. So did “some person or persons unknown” higher up than Murray, who was a scapegoat. It was a similar type of murder. Murray was out of the country for two years after this deed of horror had taken place, but his pay was given weekly to his wife during all that time. And these murderers were the “Christian Soldiers” of a “lawful Government.” There was no condemnation of this terrible deed…’ (From an article in the ‘Wolfe Tone Annual’ of 1937.)
Joseph Bergin, from Glencondra, Camross, County Laois, 23 years of age at the time, was a ‘Military Policeman’ attached to the Free State Army and stationed in the Curragh Camp, in Kildare.
State CID Captain James Murray had heard that MP Bergin had been seen leaving the house of Peg Daly, a local republican, and presumed that he was passing on information to the Republican Movement and himself and his Free State ‘Intelligent Department’ colleagues, including a Free State Army officer named Joseph Mack, decided to ‘deal with him’, and did so, as described above. After they had butchered him, they threw his blood-soaked cap into the doorway of his girlfriends house in Kildare Town.
On the 14th/15th of December in 1923, a group of children were playing in a field beside the Grand Canal in Milltown, in County Kildare, when they noticed blood stains on a bridge they were crossing and brought that to the attention of a local man. He took a closer look and the body of Joseph Bergin was found ; a post-mortem was carried out and it was confirmed that he had been shot dead after a violent struggle and the other wounds on the body were consistent with a prolonged dragging along the ground, possibly from a car.
By coincidence, a blood-stained car had been found that same day near Dame Street in Dublin city centre which led to a search of a disused building on a farm in Guiderstown, in County Kildare, and ‘scenes of a grevious crime’ were discovered in the building.
In 1925, Free State CID Captain James Murray was convicted of the death of Joseph Bergin and sentenced to death ; an appeal against that sentence was taken but it failed and, four days before he was due to be hung, his sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life, but he didn’t live long enough to serve his time – he died in prison in 1929 from tuberculosis.
In May, 1928, the IRA Chief of Staff, Moss Twomey (pictured) unveiled a plaque in honour of Joseph Bergin and stated that his State killers, and those they work for, say that republicans should ‘forget the past’ but that that was only “the cry out by those now in high positions whose records were an embarrassment to them and who now wished to be counted as gentlemen…”.
Then, as now, the Leinster House institution is full of well-suited and fine-speaking ‘gentlemen and gentlewomen’ who have built political careers for themselves on the wounds of other people.
‘TODAY IS THE DAY TO JOIN THE REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT.’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
An active civil organisation backed by a strong military arm can smash England, but not without your help. Will we fail to win tomorrow because you failed to join today? Here are some contact addresses –
WESTMEATH ; Paddy Givern, Monksland, Athlone.
BELFAST ; Tom Heenan, 17 Violet Street.
ENGLAND ; D. Ryan, 251 King Street, Hammersmith, London, W6.
SCOTLAND ; Michael McDermott, 22 Jean Armour Drive, North Drumry, Clydeband, Glasgow.
Felix Jordan, 9 Huntingdon Place, Springburn, Glasgow.
Dan Skelton, 124 Macalpine Road, Dundee, Scotland.
CLARE ; Martin Whyte, Fern Hill, Lisdoonvarna.
USA ; Clan na Gael Club, 112 West 72nd Street, New York 23.
Thomas A White, Peter Murray Irish Republican Club, 6812 South Van Ness Avenue, Los Angeles, California.
Stephen Dobbin, Kerins-O’Neill IRA Club, 4805 South Union Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
ON THIS DATE (15TH DECEMBER) IN…
Edward Bolger was born on the 21st November, 1871, in Tullaroan, Co. Kilkenny, and followed in his father’s footsteps in regards to the ‘work’ he involved himself in ; his Dad, Patrick, was an RIC member and, at 19 years of age, young Edward joined the same British militia.
He was ‘trained in his duties’ in the ‘Constabulary Depot’ in the Phoenix Park, in Dublin, and on the 20th September, 1891, he was sent to Tipperary South Riding as his first posting and, in October 1897, he was transferred to Cork East Riding, being stationed at Kingwilliamstown (now called Ballydesmond), in North Cork, which proved to be his downfall.
In November, 1919, career RIC member Edward Bolger (pictured) gave ‘court’ evidence against at least seven IRA men as the principal witness against them, and apparently did so with some vigour.
On the evening of Sunday, 14th December 1919, he left his house to return to his barracks but he never got there ; a few minutes after he had closed his hall door, several gunshots were heard in the street and RIC member Bolger was found dead. His killing was headline news the next day (the 15th December 1919 – 102 years ago on this date) as he was the first RIC man to be shot dead in Cork since Easter 1916.
The British ‘outlawed’ Dáil Éireann (the 32-county body, not the Westminster-imposed ‘Irish parliament’ in Kildare Street, in Dublin, which Free Staters claim, falsely, to be the same institution) which had directed all local council’s in Ireland to break their connection with the (British) Dublin Castle system of local administration and, within months, most of the local councils in the country were reporting to the republican administration ;
‘ON November 28th 1921 the nationalist-controlled Tyrone County Council voted to recognise Dáil Éireann and to ignore the Local Government Board which was in the process of being transferred to the Northern Ireland (sic) government’s Ministry of Home Affairs. Smaller public bodies followed suit and the other nationalist-controlled county council in the six counties, Fermanagh, also pledged allegiance to the Dáil in December 1921.
The move by the county councils was not unprecedented as most of nationalist Ireland had embarked on a policy of non-recognition of Northern Ireland (sic) and its institutions the moment the Government of Ireland Bill was introduced in late 1919, which paved the way for the partition of Ireland..’ (from here.)
On the 15th December, 1921 – 100 years ago on this date – Fermanagh County Council pledged allegiance to Dáil Éireann but, after that and other council business was done, the RIC raided the building and took possession of the council chamber. On the 21st of that same month, The ‘NI Minister of Home Affairs’ dissolved the council and appointed a Commissioner.
Incidentally, that ‘outlawed’ All-Ireland (32 County) Dáil continued to function underground until 1938, when it delegated its executive powers to the Army Council of the IRA, in accordance with a resolution of the First Dáil in 1921.
With the 1969 split, Tom Maguire (pictured), the last and faithful survivor of the All-Ireland Dáil, stated that the Provisional IRA was the successor of the 1938 body – similarly, following the 1986 split, he nominated the Continuity IRA as the legitimate IRA. Tom Maguire died in 1993, aged one-hundred-and-one (101).
On the 15th December 1922 – 99 years ago on this date – a force of about seventy IRA men had used trees to block a road between Rathmore and Barraduff, in County Kerry, in preparation for an ambush on Free State forces.
A priest from the area, a Father Carmody, heard what was happening and what was planned and organised for a large number of his parishioners to remove the trees but the IRA dispersed the crowd by firing over their heads. The ambush took place as intended, with a gunfight lasting for a few hours, at the end of which three Staters were wounded, one of whom – State Private Matthew Ferguson – died later from his wounds.
Leinster House claimed that the IRA “took heavy casualties” but that claim has yet to be verified ; what did happen, however, was that the IRA seized four fat bullocks from Father Carmody as a punishment for his actions.
Incidentally, the listed strength of the IRA in 1922 was over 72,000 armed soldiers ; four bullocks wouldn’t go far…!
On Friday, 15th December 1922 – ninty-nine years ago on this date – it became known that three State Army barracks had been ‘hit’ the night before, at the same time, and for the same objective, and by the same organisation – the IRA.
Three State Army posts – Callan, Mullinavat and Thomastown, all in County Kilkenny – were taken-over by the IRA, led by Tom Barry, Bill Quirke, Dinny Lacey and Ned Aylward ; guns were produced by the raiders, but not used, as there was no need to. The IRA had inside help from a FS Captain -Edward Somers- two other State Officers and some lower-ranking State troopers, who had defected to the IRA.
Arms and ammunition were obtained and the buildings destroyed ; this action humiliated the politicians in Leinster House and the blame was placed on one of their own, a State Army General, John T. Prout (pictured), who was accused of having acted in such an excessively casual manner throughout the conflict that the door was practically left open for the IRA.
He was demobilised from the State Army in June 1924, at a time when he held the rank of Major General, died in 1969 and is buried in Vermont, in the New England region of the United States.
A short report in the ‘Freemans Journal’ newspaper of Friday, 15th December 1922, told of how a Free State Army officer in Ballina, County Mayo, had lost a leg following an accidental shooting but, other than that, he survived the incident. We can’t find any other information on this shooting.
CABHAIR CHRISTMAS SWIMS, 2021.
For the 45th year in a row (1976-2021), the Cabhair organisation will be holding a Christmas Morning Swim at about 12 Noon, at the 3rd Lock of the Grand Canal, in Inchicore, Dublin but, due to Covid conditions and the very real likelihood of a State-wide lockdown in late December, the event will be severely curtailed.
Two swimmers (three at the most) and a family member or two with each swimmer, and two Cabhair Crew members will be present at the gig, with the usual trappings (ie music, foodstuffs, ‘soup’ (!) etc) not appearing, due to the need to keep crowd numbers down. This decision was the result of a number of meetings and was felt to be the way to proceed. Myself and many others will miss the craic but, with the times that are in it, it can’t be helped. And there’s always next year..!
Also, another Cabhair Swim will take place at Rosslare Strand, in Wexford, at 11am on St Stephens Day.
Come on the Boys of Wexford…!
Thanks for the visit, and for reading,