ON THIS DATE (22ND DECEMBER) 139 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF AN UNREPENTANT IRISH REBEL.
Joe Clarke (pictured [Seosamh Ó Clérigh]) was born in Rush, County Dublin, on the 22nd December 1882 – 139 years ago on this date – and, as a young man, he worked for the Sinn Féin Bank (which operated from 1908 to 1921), joined the Gaelic League and also (on the 27th July 1914) joined the ‘Irish Volunteers’.
In 1916, himself and three other Volunteers (Patrick Doyle [section commander], John McGrath and William Christian) took over St Stephen’s Parochial Hall but eventually had to vacate the Hall after they ran out of ammunition ; they decided to try and get to Boland’s Bakery but three of them, including Joe Clarke, were captured in Percy Place by British soldiers.
He was told to stand up against a door and a British soldier stood back from him and aimed a gun at his head ; a shot was fired, but it missed – he was then marched off to Ladd Lane Barracks and, from there, he and hundreds of other captured Volunteers were taken to the North Wall and imprisoned on a ship which took them to Liverpool Prison in England, from where he was transfered to Wakefield Prison in West Yorkshire and, from there, he was interned in Frongoch Internment Camp in Wales.
He was released in 1917, returned to Ireland and continued to work for the Republican Movement during the ‘Tan War’. He worked as a courier for the First Dáil but he was interned again in January 1921 for two years, and then worked as the caretaker of the then Sinn Féin headquarters on Harcourt Street, in Dublin, founded the ‘Irish Book Bureau’ (68 Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin – the shop was later located in his house in O’Donovan Road, just off the South Circular Road, in Dublin 8) and he helped to establish the ‘Irish National Aid Association and Volunteer Dependents Fund’ (INAAVDF – now known as ‘Cabhair’) .
In the 1920’s, although Sinn Féin rejected participation in Leinster House elections, they continued to contest local elections and Joe was elected to Dublin City Council for the then ‘No. 3 Council Area’.
He helped to establish the ‘Comhairle na Poblachta’ political organisation in 1929 and, a few years later, he worked with Brian O’Higgins to establish the ‘Wolfe Tone Weekly’.
In August 1939, the Free Staters interned him in Arbour Hill Prison and then, later, put him under lock and key in Cork County Jail, where he remained until July 1940.
He was elected as a Vice-President of Sinn Féin in 1966 and, in the split of 1970, he supported the provisional wing, remaining on as Vice-President and, in 1972, he was nominated as ‘the Vice-President for Life’ of the organisation.
Himself and de Valera, comrades-in-arms during the 1916 Rising, parted company in later years over strong political differences between them and, indeed, at a Free State-organised ’50th Anniversary of the First Dáil’, which was held in 1969 in the ‘Round Room’ in the Mansion House, in Dublin, he was evicted from the event after he stood up during de Valera’s speech and interrupted the proceedings (pictured) by loudly declaring, rightly, that the commemoration was a mockery since the programme of the First Dáil had not been implemented.
Joe Clarke died during Easter Week in 1976, at 94 years of age. Shortly before he died, a reporter asked him why he keeps protesting against the State. He replied – “Why shouldn’t I continue to stand for what I believe in so long as I can? When old men sit down they wither away and die. Activity is the secret of youth and for old men it is the secret of life…”
‘Fill up once more, we’ll drink a toast to comrades far away,
no nation on earth can boast of braver hearts than they,
and though they sleep in dungeons deep, or flee outlawed and banned,
we love them yet, we can’t forget, the Felons of our Land…‘
‘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.
GUNS AND GRENADES :
Weapons were next given out to each man – 7 Sten Guns, 6 Webley Revolvers, 6 Colt .45 Revolvers, 1 Thompson Sub-Machine Gun, an abundant supply of ammunication and hand grenades were also distributed.
The job of taking over the guardroom was the key to success. Once it was held the barracks was virtually our own. We were not told anything regarding the dumping of the captured weapons.
When the plan of the operation had been outlined and understood by all, we were addressed by an Intelligence Officer ; he spoke for ten minutes on precautions to be taken during the raid and the strict security measures to be adopted after its completion and even when we were back in our homes. We were then given a 15-minute break before moving off for the objective.
WE MOVE IN :
The raid was scheduled to begin at 2.40 and end not later than 3.10. Nearing the barracks the lorry pulled in as planned and the advance party detailed to take over the guard went ahead. There were five of us. One man walked at once to the gate. He read the notice outside and then opened up a conversation with the sentry…
ON THIS DATE (22ND DECEMBER) 101 YEARS AGO : TWO IRA POW’S SHOT DEAD BY BRITISH TROOPS.
‘Headquarters, West Clare Brigade, 24th December, 1920-
To Mr. & Mrs. Shanahan & Family :
We, the Officers and Men of the West Clare Brigade, through our Commandant, tender to Mr. & Mrs. Shanahan and Family our heartfelt sympathy in your sad bereavement on the loss of so heroic, noble-minded patriotic and beloved a son and brother who was so foully murdered under such brutal circumstances by the agents of a Foreign Murder Gang.
Within the Brigade, he was loved and esteemed by his Brother Officers and Men. He was a most intelligent, efficient and courageous Officer in the discharge of his duty which earned for him the esteem which he bore.
His name will never be forgotten by the Officers and Men of the West Clare Brigade and will be handed down by them for generations to come as the heroic, patriotic, Child-Officer of the West who willingly laid down his life for the noble principles he so fearlessly advocated.
(Signed) Brigade Commandant.’
The above is the citation which was presented to the family of Willie Shanahan, following his brutal murder by foreign soldiers in Ireland.
Michael McNamara and Willie Shanahan were two IRA Volunteers who were ‘arrested’ by the British Auxiliaries at a safe house near Doonbeg, in County Clare, on the 22nd December, 1920 – 101 years ago on this date. They were shot dead on the road back to Ennis.
‘Mikie McNamara was born at Mountrivers, Doonbeg, in July 1891, one of a family of 13 children. He attended Doonbeg National School for nine years, and then, having finished his schooling on 20th July, 1905, he went to work on his father’s farm. When the Volunteer movement spread to Clare, he joined the Caherfeenick-Mountrivers unit…he took an active part in the formation of the Doonbeg company and became its first captain early in 1918. He worked quietly and effectively in training the manhood of his district in military discipline (and) took part in the holding up and searching of trains for the purpose of obtaining information from British mailbags.
He was appointed Chief of the IRA Police for the third Battalion in early 1920 and, as a tribute to the efficiency with which he carried out the duties of this position, he was promoted to the rank of Brigade Chief of Police. In addition, he became a member of the Flying Column, formed in the summer of 1920. On 27th August, 1920, he participated in an attack on a British Military Supply Corps at Burrane, Knock – the enemy were relieved of their horses and their equipment was destroyed. The British soldiers, however, were released unharmed…’
Michael McNamara and Willie Shanahan were two men wanted by the British for their republican activities but they..‘..successfully evaded arrest until 17th December, 1920, when they were betrayed. They were surrounded and captured while sleeping at the home of Mrs. Reidy, located about three quarters of a mile southeast of Doonbeg. Both men were brutally beaten with rifle and revolver butts and…were taken to Kilrush Military Barracks and, on arrival, they were again tortured and beaten. On 22nd December, 1920, they were transferred to Ennis under a heavy British military escort (but) before reaching their destination, Mikie was taken from the lorry and murdered. His body, badly mangled after being dragged for several yards by the lorry, bore the marks of three severe bayonet thrusts and one bullet wound.
After witnessing this inhuman crime, Willie was taken to the British military barracks where his captors continued their brutal methods of interrogation for six hours. Failure on their part to break his morale or to extract any information from him concerning the IRA resulted in his death about midnight.
Attempting to conceal this gruesome crime, his executioners removed his body from the military barracks to the other end of town and tossed it into the grounds of the County Infirmary. He was discovered next morning with his hands and feet bound, part of the back of his head blown off by an explosive bullet, and his body severely mutilated.
On Christmas Day 1920, Willie and Mikie – their coffins draped with the Tricolour – were buried side by side with IRA Military Honours in the Republican Plot of Doonbeg (and) a magnificent Celtic Cross erected to the memory of Willie Shanahan and Michael McNamara was unveiled in this plot on Easter Sunday 1926…’ (from here.)
God’s curse on you, England, you cruel-hearted monster, your deeds they would shame all the devils in hell…
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 Contradictory Attitude To The ‘Other Tradition’ :
It is impossible, despite the spirit of ‘reconciliationism’, for the ‘Irish News’ to completely rewrite history, or to forgive the exclusion of Catholics from political and economic power under unionist rule.
It is necessary, however, to convince their nationalist readers that things have fundamentally and irrevocably changed, that whatever vicious manifestations of Orange bigotry they experience are the dying vestiges of a spent political force. In making this case, they find themselves in some very bizarre alliances.
Many bitter words are directed to unionists for refusing to concede political power to Irish nationalists ; “Unionism never had to consider these basic concepts (equality and justice)…they have, to be blunt, little experience of democracy..” (March 5th) “..democracy (is) not really understood or practised in unionist political circles…democracy has to be learned. Fifty years of unionist hegemony make it a difficult task for unionist politicians..” (May 20th).
“Unionists have turned this society into a political slum..” (June 6th). Unionists “..still could not find any constructive words to offer their opponents..” (May 28th). Eighteen months after the HIllsborough Treaty “..not one particle of constructive political thought has emerged from those who speak for the unionist community..change can only come through the Anglo-Irish Accord..” (June 6th).
The Hillsborough Treaty is seen as necessary to keep the unionists in check. The unionist campaign against it is characterised as ‘fascist’ and ‘Nazi’. The Public Order legislation, which we are told is a “direct result” of Hillsborough, is directed, not against republicans, but unionist extremists ; the “..necessity for the involvement of the Dublin government in Northern Ireland has been well and truly demonstrated by the behaviour of unionists..extreme expressions of unionism underline the justification, the absolute requirement of the Agreement” (February 3rd).
( Which, coincidentally (!), is how nationalist political parties in Leinster House and Stormont today describe the British military and political presence in Ireland – as ‘the last stings of a dying wasp’ – “the dying vestiges of a spent political force”. Those type have turned full circle, and have long since fell victim to their own condemnations and “find themselves in some very bizarre alliances”.)
‘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 –
TYRONE : Art MacEochaidh, Killymun Road, Dungannon.
DERRY : Cathal MacLabhartaigh, Rainey Street, Magherafelt,
Seán Keenan, 8 St Columba Street, Derry,
Patrick Shields, 22 Creggan Heights, Creggan Estate, Derry.
ANTRIM : Pat McCormack, Tigh Ard a’Chuain, Cushendun.
LAOIS : P. McLogan, Main Street, Portlaoighise.
KILKENNY : Seán Dunne, Inistioge.
TIPPERARY : Dan Gleeson, Ballymackey, Nenagh.
LEITRIM : John J. McGirl, Main Street, Ballinamore.
ROSCOMMON NORTH : Patrick McKeon, Croghan, Boyle.
MAYO : Padraig MacCailliag, Claremorris, County Mayo.
KERRY : Maitiu Laoithe, Gortagollan, Muc-Ros, Cill-Airne.
Michael Lynch, The Spa, Tralee.
ON THIS DATE (22ND DECEMBER) IN…
On the 22nd December, 1691, Patrick Sarsfield, from what is now Lucan, in County Dublin, set sail from Cork harbour to play his part in the ‘Jacobite Wars’ ; he was an Irish soldier in the campaign between the Irish (Catholic) supporters of King James and the (Protestant) followers of William of Orange ; he fought for King James II when he was deposed by his daughter Mary II and her husband William of Orange.
At the ‘Siege of Limerick’, he and his men captured arms and artillery which delayed the Williamite forces for weeks, making him an Irish hero. However, he differed from King James in matters military and in strategy and, when the Williamite forces became too strong, he negotiated a treaty, under which he and his men would have to leave Ireland for France in what became known as the ‘Flight of the Wild Geese’. He let it be known that he felt that King James was ultimately responsible for the surrender, and he had more respect for his opponent, William of Orange.
He was killed at the head of a French division at the Battle of Landen in the attack on the village of Neerwinden in Flanders on the 29th July 1693. He died of his wounds three days later at Huy in Belgium, where he is buried in the grounds of St Martin’s Church. A plaque on the wall of this Church marks the approximate location of his grave. He was quoted as saying “If this was only for Ireland.” His death was the inspiration for this 17th century epitaph by an unknown author:
‘Oh Patrick Sarsfield, Irelands Wonder,
Who fought in the fields like any thunder,
One of King James’s chief commanders,
Now lies the food of crows in Flanders.
Och hone, Och hone.’
William Jones (pictured) was born in Castleconnell, in Limerick, in 1883, and joined the RIC at the age of 24. He was given a number – 62330 – and put to work in the Cork area – Ballinagree, then Durrus and then Cork City, which is where he married his wife, Hanora Collins, in 1915, when he was 32 years of age ; the couple moved to Bunclody, in Wexford, in 1918, as he had been transferred to the Enniscorthy and Newtonbarry areas of that county. They had three children.
On Wednesday, 22nd December, 1920 – 101 years ago on this date – at about 8pm, two RIC members, William Jones and Martin Miley (service number 66326) left Newtonbarry ‘police barracks’ to fetch a hot drink for a colleague in the barracks, Patrick Francis Faulkner (66540) who was feeling poorly. The two RIC members entered Kelly’s public house, located on the corner of Ryland Road and the Carnew Road, and ordered two glasses of port wine and two shots of whiskey in a bottle, which they intended to take back to their sick colleague.
The two RIC members sat by the fireside as they were waiting for their order to be ready, and were chatting to Katie Kelly, who worked on the premises. Two IRA men, Maurice Spillane and Ned Murphy ( members of the North Wexford Brigade Flying Column) walked into the pub and were immediately challenged and questioned as to their business by RIC man William Jones ; the IRA had information that Jones had been providing intelligence to the British Army in Ballindaggin, and RIC movements in the area were being recorded by the rebels. Jones was shot twice in the chest and died almost immediately. He was 37 years of age and left behind a wife and three children, who moved to Bandon, in Cork, after his death.
On the 22nd December, 1922, a CID Assistant Inspector was wounded in an attack at Ellis Quay in Dublin and he died of his wounds on the 29th December.
We couldn’t find any more information on this shooting, but the names of three CID AI’s did surface in relation to our research into the incident – James Daly, Matthew Daly and Frank McGarry, but we’re not confident as the timeline doesn’t tally properly.
The ‘Criminal Investigation Department’ (CID) was formed in this State on the 22nd August 1922, the same day that Michael Collins was shot dead by the IRA in an ambush at Beal na Blath in County Cork. It was “to be be distinct from existing police forces with separate headquarters under direct control of the Minister for Home Affairs…”, and consisted of about 100 heavily armed ex-Free State Army soldiers and other Free State-minded individuals drafted-in from the IRA police force. It was based at Oriel House on Westland Row, in Dublin city centre.
Its staff included at least three female members who were supposedly employed as ‘secretarial staff’ but were actually agents who were ‘cloaked’ as typists and who “engaged in special duties connected with the detection of women engaged in hostilities against the Government…”
This State grouping was ‘officially’ disbanded in October and November 1922 and its operatives were transferred to the ‘DMP’ and, in April 1925, the whole outfit was re-jigged again as ‘An Garda Síochána’, but its anti-republican raison d’être has never changed.
38-year-old Patrick Fitzgerald and his Free State Army colleague Arthur Devonshire were on the footpath outside O’Donohue’s Pub, near Beggars Bush, in Dublin, on a Friday night, the 22nd December, 1922. Private Devonshire was looking into the pub through a window when he heard a shout of “Hands Up!”, followed by two gunshots. When he turned around he saw two men making their escape down Granby Row and his friend, Patrick Fitzgerald, who was in uniform, fall to the ground, dead.
On the 16th December, 1922, Free State soldier Jeremiah Desmond, 35, (Service Number 24100) was shot in the knee in Macroom, in Cork, in what was believed to be an accidental discharge. He was taken to the Mercy Hospital in Cork City and, although his injured leg was amputated below the knee, he died on the 22nd December 1922.
On the 22nd of December, 1922, Free State Army Private James Ryan (Service Number 3795/22932) was killed in a motor vehicle accident in Michelstown, in County Cork. He was 30 years old, from Limerick and he was married.
Free State Army Captain Frederick Hamilton Lidwell, from Dun Laoighaire, in Dublin, was shot in the head and died, in an accidental gunshot discharge at Kilkenny Barracks in County Kilkenny on the 22nd December, 1922. He had joined the ‘Irish Volunteers’ in 1918 and served with the Dalkey Company, 6th Battalion, Dublin Brigade, IRA, before becoming a State poacher.
He was from a middle class background in Dun Laoghaire and worked as a solicitor’s apprentice and served as the register of Dun Laoghaire Republican Court between 1919 and 1921. His family tried but failed to sue the Free State Army for negligence over his accidental shooting.
A Mr Robert Baylor, a solicitor, died on the 22nd December, 1922, from gunshot wounds inflicted on him on the 4th December. He was on his way to a farmer in Ballinrush, Barony, in County Cork, to deal with the making of a Will when he was shot by two men. He was bleeding heavy from a leg wound and was taken to the British Military Hospital in Fermoy and looked at – he was then rushed to the Mercy Home, in Cork but, after a few days rest, his leg had to be amputated, in the belief that that would save his life.
He was a legal representative for the then new Free State administration in the Cork area, and was employed ‘as a servant of the State in local referee courts and as solicitor for the (State) troops in the Fermoy area.’ A dangerous occupation in those times.
A Free State vehicle been driven through the village of Leap, Kilmacabea, in Cork, on the 22nd December, 1922, went out of control as it passed the local school and ran over a young boy, John O’Sullivan. Mary Agnes Regan, a school teacher, witnessed the incident –“I knew the deceased child. He was under my charge in school. I was standing on the steps of the school on the day in question and I saw the motor car pass the school. It passed the school slowly. I did not see anything of the child until I saw him lying flat on the ground.”
On the 22nd December 1974, an IRA device exploded at the home of former British Prime Minister Edward Heath, in Wilton Street, Belgravia, in London. He was not there at the time, but the premises was extensively damaged. That took place on the same day that an IRA ceasefire began (22nd December 1974) and which was due to end at midnight on the 2nd January 1975. That incident wasn’t the only shadow which accompanied Mr Heath for the rest of his life.
An RUC member, Samuel Graham Armour, was killed in an explosion outside his house on the Curragh Road, Maghera, in County Derry, on the 22nd December 1976.
On the 22nd December, 1979, an RUC member, Stanley Osborne Hazelton (48), who owned a garage in Dungannon, County Tyrone, was shot dead near the town of Glaslough, in County Monaghan. His car dealership had been attacked in 1976.
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 latest State-wide lockdown which came into operation at midnight on Sunday, 19th December 2021 (and which will remain in effect until at least the 30th January 2022), 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…!
This is probably our last post for 2021 ; we might have something else to say between this and the New Year, depending on what happens/happened, and to whom!
But we’ll probably be more active on Twitter than we will be on the blog, until at least the second Wednesday in January 2022.
And thanks to all our readers, worldwide – including Leinster House, the White House and Westminster (our Statcounter sure tells a story!) – for helping us to get over the million hits mark ; appreciated!
We hope that you’ll enjoy your Christmas and New Year break, ’cause we intend to enjoy ours!
Thanks for the visit, and for reading, and we hope you’ll check back in with us in 2022,
Sharon and the team.