ON THIS DATE (2ND MARCH) 108 YEARS AGO : PEARSE IN NEW YORK DELIVERS EMMET COMMEMORATION SPEECH.
On the 2nd March 1914 – 108 years ago on this date – Patrick Henry Pearse, 37 years of age, delivered the following address to a packed venue, the ‘Academy of Music’ in Brooklyn, New York. Robert Emmet was born in Dublin on the 4th March, 1778 :
“We who speak here tonight are the voice of one of the ancient indestructible things of the world. We are the voice of an idea which is older than any empire and will outlast every empire. We and ours, the inheritors of that idea, have been at age-long war with one of the most powerful empires that have ever been built up upon the earth; and that empire will pass before we pass. We are older than England and we are stronger than England.
In every generation we have renewed the struggle, and so it shall be unto the end. When England thinks she has trampled out our battle in blood, some brave man rises and rallies us again; when England thinks she has purchased us with a bribe, some good man redeems us by a sacrifice. Wherever England goes on her mission of empire we meet her and we strike at her: yesterday it was on the South African veldt, today it is in the Senate House at Washington, tomorrow it may be in the streets of Dublin. We pursue her like a sleuth-hound; we lie in wait for her and come upon her like a thief in the night: and some day we will overwhelm her with the wrath of God.
It is not that we are apostles of hate. Who like us has carried Christ’s word of charity about the earth? But the Christ that said, “My peace I leave you, My peace I give you,” is the same Christ that said “I bring not peace, but a sword.” There can be no peace between the right and wrong, between the truth and falsehood, between justice and oppression, between freedom and tyranny. Between them it is eternal war until the wrong is righted, until the true thing is established, until justice is accomplished, until freedom is won.
So when England talks of peace we know our answer: ‘Peace with you? Peace while your one hand is at our throat and your other hand is in our pocket? Peace with a footpad? Peace with a pickpocket? Peace with the leech that is sucking our body dry of blood? Peace with the many-armed monster whose tentacles envelop us while its system emits an inky fluid that shrouds its work of murder from the eyes of men? The time has not yet come to talk of peace.’
But England, we are told, offers us terms. She holds out to us the hand of friendship. She gives us a Parliament with an Executive responsible to it. Within two years the Home Rule Senate meets in College Green and King George comes to Dublin to declare its sessions open. In anticipation of that happy event our leaders have proffered England our loyalty. Mr. Redmond accepts Home Rule as a “final settlement between the two nations”; Mr. O’Brien in the fullness of his heart cries “God Save the King”; Colonel Lynch offers England his sword in case she is attacked by a foreign power.
And so this settlement is to be a final settlement. Would Wolfe Tone have accepted it as a final settlement? Would Robert Emmet have accepted it as a final settlement? Either we are heirs to their principles or we are not. If we are, we can accept no settlement as final which does not “break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils”; if we are not, how dare we go on an annual pilgrimage to Bodenstown, how dare we gather here or anywhere to commemorate the faith and sacrifice of Emmet?
Did, then, those dead heroic men live in vain? Has Ireland learned a truer philosophy than the philosophy of ’98, and a nobler way of salvation than the way of 1803? Is Wolfe Tone’s definition superseded, and do we discharge our duty to Emmet’s memory by according him annually our pity? To do the English justice, I do not think they are satisfied that Ireland will accept Home Rule as a final settlement. I think they are a little anxious today. If their minds were tranquil on the subject of Irish loyalty they would hardly have proclaimed the importation of arms into Ireland the moment the Irish Volunteers had begun to organise themselves.
They had given the Ulster faction which is used as a catspaw by one of the English parties two years to organise and arm against that Home Rule Bill which they profess themselves so anxious to pass: to the nationalists of Ireland they did not give two weeks. Of course, we can arm in spite of them: today we are organising and training the men and we have ways and means of getting arms when the men are ready for the arms. The contention I make now, and I ask you to note it well, is that England does not trust Ireland with guns; that under Home Rule or in the absence of Home Rule England declares that we Irish must remain an unarmed people; and England is right. England is right in suspecting Irish loyalty, and those Irishmen who promise Irish loyalty to England are wrong.
I believe them honest* ; but they have spent so much of their lives parleying with the English, they have sat so often and so long at English feasts, that they have lost communion with the ancient unpurchasable faith of Ireland, the ancient stubborn thing that forbids, as if with the voice of fate, any loyalty from Ireland to England, any union between us and them, any surrender of one jot or shred of our claim to freedom even in return for all the blessings of the British peace. I have called that old faith an indestructible thing. I have said that it is more powerful than empires. If you would understand its might you must consider how it has made all the generations of Ireland heroic.
Having its root in all gentleness, in a man’s love for the place where his mother bore him, for the breast that gave him suck, for the voices of children that sounded in a house now silent, for the faces that glowed around a fireside now cold, for the story told by lips that will not speak again, having its root, I say, in all gentleness, it is yet a terrible thing urging the generations to perilous bloody attempts, nerving men to give up life for the death-in-life of dungeons, teaching little boys to die with laughing lips, giving courage to young girls to bare their backs to the lashes of a soldiery.
It is easy to imagine how the spirit of Irish patriotism called to the gallant and adventurous spirit of Tone or moved the wrathful spirit of Mitchell. In them deep called unto deep : heroic effort claimed the heroic man. But consider how the call was made to a spirit of different, yet not less noble mould; and how it was answered. In Emmet it called to a dreamer and he awoke a man of action; it called to a student and a recluse and he stood forth a leader of men ; it called to one who loved the ways of peace and he became a revolutionary. I wish I could help you to realise, I wish I could myself adequately realise, the humanity, the gentle and grave humanity, of Emmet.
We are so dominated by the memory of that splendid death of his, by the memory of that young figure, serene and smiling, climbing to the gallows above that sea of silent men in Thomas Street, that we forget the life of which that death was only the necessary completion: and the life has perhaps a nearer meaning for us than the death.
For Emmet, finely gifted though he was, was just a young man with the same limitations, the same self-questionings, the same falterings, the same kindly human emotions surging up sometimes in such strength as almost to drown a heroic purpose, as many a young man we have known. And his task was just such a task as many of us have undertaken: he had to go through the same repellent routine of work, to deal with the hard, uncongenial details of correspondence and conference and committee meetings; he had the same sordid difficulties that we have, yea, even the vulgar difficulty of want of funds. And he had the same poor human material to work with, men who misunderstood, men who bungled, men who talked too much, men who failed at the last moment.
Yes, the task we take up again is just Emmet’s task of silent unattractive work, the routine of correspondence and committees and organising. We must face it as bravely and as quietly as he faced it, working on in patience as he worked on, hoping as he hoped: cherishing in our secret hearts the mighty hope that to us, though so unworthy, it may be given to bring to accomplishment the thing he left unaccomplished, but working on even when that hope dies within us. I would ask you to consider now how the call I have spoken of was made to the spirit of a woman, and how, equally, it was responded to.
Wherever Emmet is commemorated let Anne Devlin not be forgotten. Bryan Devlin had a dairy farm in Butterfield Lane; his fields are still green there. Five sons of his fought in ’98. Anne was his daughter, and she went to keep house for Emmet when he moved into Butterfield House. You know how she kept vigil there on the night of the rising. When all was lost and Emmet came out in his hurried retreat through Rathfarnham to the mountains, her greeting was — according to tradition, it was spoken in Irish, and Emmet must have replied in Irish — “Musha, bad welcome to you! Is Ireland lost by you, cowards that you are, to lead the people to destruction and then to leave them?” “Don’t blame me, Anne ; the fault is not mine”, said Emmet. And she was sorry for the pain her words had inflicted, spoken in the pain of her own disappointment. She would have tended him like a mother could he have tarried there, but his path lay to Kilmashogue, and hers was to be a harder duty.
When Sirr came out with his soldiery she was still keeping her vigil. “Where is Emmet?” “I have nothing to tell you,” she replied. To all their questions she had but one answer: “I have nothing to say ; I have nothing to tell you.” They swung her up to a cart and half-hanged her several times ; after each half-hanging she was revived and questioned : still the same answer. They pricked her breast with their bayonets until the blood spurted out in their faces. They dragged her to prison and tortured her for days. Not one word did they extract from that steadfast woman.
And when Emmet was sold, he was sold, not by a woman, but by a man — by the friend that he had trusted — by the counsel that, having sold him, was to go through the ghastly mockery of defending him at the bar.
The fathers and mothers of Ireland should often tell their children that story of Robert Emmet and that story of Anne Devlin. To the Irish mothers who hear me I would say that when at night you kiss your children and in your hearts call down a benediction, you could wish for your boys no higher thing than that, should the need come they may be given the strength to make Emmet’s sacrifice, and for your girls no greater gift from God than such fidelity as Anne Devlin’s.
It is more than a hundred years since these things were suffered ; and they were suffered in vain if nothing of the spirit of Emmet and Anne Devlin survives in the young men and young women of Ireland. Does anything of that spirit survive? I think I can speak for my own generation. I think I can speak for my contemporaries in the Gaelic League, an organisation which has not yet concerned itself with politics, but whose younger spirits are accepting the full national idea and are bringing into the national struggle the passion and the practical-ness which marked the early stages of the language movement. I think I can speak for the young men of the Volunteers.
So far, they have no programme beyond learning the trade of arms; a trade which no man of Ireland could learn for over a hundred years past unless he took the English shilling. It is a good programme; and we may almost commit the future of Ireland to the keeping of the Volunteers. I think I can speak for a younger generation still: for some of the young men that are entering the National University, for my own pupils at St. Enda’s College, for the boys of the Fianna Eireann.
To the grey-haired men whom I see on this platform, John Devoy and Richard Burke, I bring, then, this message from Ireland that their seed-sowing of forty years ago has not been without its harvest, that there are young men and little boys in Ireland today who remember what they taught and who, with God’s blessing, will one day take, or make, an opportunity of putting their teaching into practice.”
*“… they have spent so much of their lives parleying with the English, they have sat so often and so long at English feasts, that they have lost communion with the ancient unpurchasable faith of Ireland..” Indeed they have, but it is questionable whether they ever had that faith in the first place, morally and physically so, rather than just verbally?
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, July, 1954.
The Wolfe Tone Cumann, Sinn Féin, London, held a commemoration in honour of Wolfe Tone on Sunday 13th June (1954), consisting of a parade from Paddington Green right through the heart of London to Trafalgar Square where a public meeting was held.
Principal speakers were Tomás O Dubhghaill, Uachtarán Sinn Féin, Eamon Thomas, Micheál MacCártaigh and Seamus MacEalla was the Chairman, while Nora Ní Rea, Secretary of the cumann, was also on the platform.
The first speaker, Eamonn Thomas, gave a brief historical survey of the life and work of Wolfe Tone and the unbroken progression from the United Irishmen through Robert Emmet and the ’48 men* and the men* of 1916 down to the present day. He was followed by Tomás O Dubhghaill who said :“The slogan which Wolfe Tone gave us has echoed down the years – ‘Break the Connection with England’.
That slogan summarises briefly and concisely the objective of the Republican Movement, to throw off the domination of the invader, and to build up the independence of our nation, politically, socially and economically.
Quite simply, we deny the ‘right’ and we oppose the will of the English Government to rule Ireland or any portion of Ireland…”
ON THIS DATE (2ND MARCH) 102 YEARS AGO : DOUBLE-AGENT EXECUTED.
John Charles Byrne (aka ‘John Jameson’ – pictured) : “The best Secret Service man we had..”, according to Walter Long, the first British ‘Lord of the Admiralty’.
John Charles Byrne was born in June 1885 at Barfett Street, Queen’s Park in London and, after leaving school, he worked in the plumbing trade as a young teenager and lived with his family in a flat at Number 11 Woodfield Place, in London, before he moved to 34 Laurel Bank, May Road, Romford, in Essex. He joined the ‘Essex Volunteer Artillery’ unit of the British Army and, at 23 years of age, enlisted with the ‘Royal Artillery Territorials’.
He operated in Salonika, in Greece, for over a year before being ‘discharged’ in 1918 on ‘medical grounds’ ; his ‘discharge’ could very well have been pre-arranged as he was soon working for the British Special Branch and was linked to military intelligence and was placed within the Bolshevik grouping in England, reporting his findings back to his handlers in Westminster.
He also found himself rubbing shoulders with Irish socialists in England and he and his handlers decided to use those connections to infiltrate the Republican Movement in Ireland and, in about 1920, he was relocated to Dublin, where he used his Bolshevik associations to introduce himself to Sinn Féin members and supporters, to whom he ‘sympathised’ with, politically, and let it be known that he was in a position to assist the struggle with cash and equipment. He had two handlers in Dublin – Alan Bell and a Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Isham.
Irish republicans were of course interested in the man and his offer, and arrangements were made for Mr Byrne/Jameson to meet with the then Irish rebel, Michael Collins ; the new ‘benefactor’ was blindfolded and taken to a premises near George’s Street in Dublin city centre where he met Collins and other IRA members. Apparently, Collins was impressed by the man and wanted to take him up on his offer but ‘Squad’ members present weren’t so enamoured by the man, so a few ‘tests’ were put in place ; Byrne/Jameson failed all of them.
The ‘Bolshevik’ was placed in a position where he ‘discovered’ an IRA arms dump which, once he had left the vicinity, was moved to a different location ; the other location was afterwards raided by the British Army. He was then ‘indiscreetly’ allowed to hear information concerning an up-coming meeting of the IRA leadership in Dublin – location, date, time – and the premises was put under observation by the IRA. And that (empty) premises was then raided by the British Army.
Also, he was left alone with IRA documents which stated that an ex-Lord Mayor of Dublin was secretly working for them (the man was actually very much opposed to everything that Irish republicanism stood for!) and that political figure then had his house raided and he himself was pulled-in for questioning.
Collins then decided that he should be dealt with as the spy he was, and at least five ‘Squad’ members – Joe O’Reilly, Joe Dolan, Paddy O’Daly, Tom Kilcoyne and Ben Barrett – were tasked with putting the operation together.
Joe O’Reilly arranged for it that he should be in the same place as the spy and, when they met, Mr Byrne/Jameson told him that he had to go to London on business and would like to meet Michael Collins again, before he left for that engagement.
The meeting was arranged for about 6pm on the afternoon of Tuesday, the 2nd March (1920) – 102 years ago on this date – and three Squad members met with him outside the hotel he was staying in, the Granville Hotel, in Dublin, at about 4.30pm. Another two Volunteers had left for the ‘meeting spot’ on bicycles beforehand and other Volunteers searched his hotel room after he had left, finding documents of use to their Intelligence Department.
The four men then took a tram to Glasnevin, where they disembarked, and walked towards the Model Farm area. When they arrived at the ‘meeting place’, the other two IRA men were already there. Paddy O’Daly told Mr Byrne/Jameson that his game was up, they knew he was a spy and that he should say his final prayers as he was about to be executed. He protested to the very last minute that he was innocent of that charge and described himself as “one of the best friends that Ireland ever had”.
Presumably because they had no reason not to do so, the IRA men put their evidence to him and, finally accepting that he was done for, he stood to attention and, looking at his executioners, declared “That is right. God bless the King. I would love to die for him. We are only doing our duty and I have done mine…”
He saluted his captors and was then shot twice at close range, in the heart and the head, and the Volunteers left the scene and travelled on the mail boat back to their base.
A farm worker discovered the body at around 5.45pm and his remains were taken to the Mater Hospital in Dublin city centre. His wife, Daisy, was brought to Dublin to identify the body and was said to be so shocked that she became permanently deaf. Until that point, she had been adamant that he worked as a commercial traveller for a well known London firm of music publishers.
She travelled back to England with him for burial, and he was interred at Romford cemetery in Essex, where the twelve mourners in attendance were all family. He left a widow and three children, and was 34 years of age when he died.
ON THIS DATE (2ND MARCH) 151 YEARS AGO : BRITISH PM ACKNOWLEDGES ‘HOME RULE’ ISSUE RE IRELAND.
“Nothing that is morally wrong can be politically right” – William Ewart Gladstone (pictured) , British Prime Minister for four terms : 1868 to 1874, 1880 to 1885, six months in 1886 and then from 1892 to 1894.
On the 2nd March 1871 – 151 years ago on this date – William Ewart Gladstone, the British Prime Minister, publicly acknowledged for the first time, during a speech in the ‘House of Commons’, the high levels of support in Ireland for those who were questioning the position of Ireland within the then ‘British Empire’ but his colleagues in the British ‘Liberal Party’ let it be known they were uneasy about such a proposition being highlighted. Regardless, Gladstone continued to put out ‘feelers’ re that issue and is on record for declaring that it was his mission “to pacify Ireland”.
In May 1882 he appointed his nephew, ‘Lord’ Frederick Cavendish, as the new ‘British Chief Secretary’ in Ireland and Cavendish, in turn, appointed Thomas Henry Burke as his ‘Under-Secretary’ and perhaps it was because both men were put to death by the Irish ‘Invincibles’ on their arrival in Ireland that Gladstone was encouraged to deal with his ‘Irish problem’ : he persevered with attempting ‘to solve the Irish problem’ and four years later (ie in 1886) , in a three-hour speech, he presented, to the British ‘House of Commons’, a ‘Home Rule’ bill for Ireland which sought an Irish Parliament to be established in Dublin but with Westminster retaining control of matters to do with defence, foreign affairs, customs and excise, trade, postal services, currency and the appointment of law judges.
The proposed ‘Irish Parliament’ would consist of one chamber which would house those elected by the people and those placed within by the Crown (‘peer/nobleman’), and an ‘Irish MP’ would not be entitled to sit at Westminster. Irish commentators were disappointed that ‘Irish MP’s’ should be excluded from Westminster and also voiced caution in relation to the powers that Westminster retained re defence, foreign affairs etc and, once again, Gladstone’s own colleagues in the ‘British Liberal Party’ felt that too much power was being given to Ireland – 93 of them actually voted against it, splitting the party and defeating the bill.
A lesson should have been learned then, in 1886, that a limited form of ‘granted’ jurisdictional control and sovereignty from Westminster re Ireland is, in the words of William Ewart Gladstone, “morally wrong” and will not be accepted by Irish republicans as “politically right”.
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.)
Similar frustration is expressed in a comment on the removal of funds from the MacAirt Nursery – Irish education is “..meant to be encouraged and protected under the Anglo-Irish Agreement and will have to be seen to be so if the Accord is to have any meaning to the people it is trying to help” (January 21st).
This dilemma was posed again in regard to police tactics at the funerals of Laurence Marley and Finbarr McKenna and the massacre of IRA Volunteers at Loughgall. In these cases, the editors reverted to their usual form, being critical of the police, not so much for their brutality and blatant sectarianism, but for proving republican arguments true.
Referring to the Laurence Marley family, anger is expressed at the RUC tactics because they “…allowed the Provos to create havoc while blaming the RUC. The RUC walked into a trap..” (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (2ND MARCH) 29 YEARS AGO : WESTMINSTER CONFIRMS IT IS “NOT INDIFFERENT, NOT NEUTRAL” RE THE SIX IRISH COUNTIES IT OCCUPIES.
“The (British) government will, as I said in December, warmly, solemnly and steadfastly uphold Northern Irelands (sic) status. We are not indifferent, we are not neutral”. – the words of then British ‘Direct Ruler’ for the Six Counties, Patrick Mayhew, on 2nd March 1993 (pictured).
Irish republicans have always dismissed the propaganda lie from Westminster and its allies here in this State that it was a ‘peace-keeping force’ in Ireland and we welcome confirmation of that fact from the source itself.
All that’s required now is that they clear off altogether, perhaps to one of the many other ‘trouble spots’ they are associated with. Or perhaps they can find a new location in which to hone their ‘peace keeping’ skills but, either way, they should realise this is the 21st century and their ’empire’ is finished. Go on home…
‘SINN FÉIN NOTES…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
BRIAN DILLON CUMANN, CORK :
A very instructive lecture entitled ‘The Primary Objectives of Sinn Féin’ was given by Liam Earley (Ard Comhairle and MacCurtain Cumann) at a meeting of the above-named Cumann on February 22nd last, and a lively discussion followed. The members went home with a much clearer concept of the republican programme.
Cumann secretaries are requested to send reports of special activities for inclusion in this column before the 20th of each month.
EASTER LILIES :
An Ard Comhairle urges all cumainn to secure their supply of Easter Lilies without delay. Easter Lilies may be had from the Secretary, National Commemoration Committee, 9 North Frederick Street, Dublin.
(‘1169’ comment – the ‘National Commemoration Committee’ [‘Coiste Cuimhneachán Náisiúnta’] still exists and can be contacted at 223 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, telephone : +353-1-8729747 and email : email@example.com)
(END of ‘Sinn Féin Notes’ ; NEXT – ‘United Irishmen’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (2ND MARCH) 27 YEARS AGO : PSF LEADERSHIP DECLARE “PARTITION UNRAVELLING”!
On Saturday 25th February 1995, the Provisional Sinn Féin political party held its Ard Fheis in the Mansion House in Dublin and a report on same was carried in that party’s newspaper, ‘AP/RN’, on the 2nd March 1995 – 27 years ago on this date. The Chairperson of their ‘Women’s Department’ and an EEC/EU election candidate for them for a seat in Brussels and a UNISON official, Anne Speed, practically received a standing ovation when she took to the stage and declared – “Partition is unravelling before our eyes.”
Interestingly, less than a decade before she took an interest in partition, Anne had ‘unravelled’ herself from a Trotskyist support group – ‘From 1982 on, a number of (‘Peoples Democracy’) activists left them and joined Sinn Féin. At a PD national conference in 1986, a group including Anne Speed proposed the dissolution of the group and that the members all join SF as individuals. This position was defeated by 19 votes to five. A few weeks later the minority of five resigned from PD followed by their supporters and joined Sinn Féin…’ (from here.)
Anne’s colleague, Gerry Adams, standing with the partitioned Ireland he has assisted in maintaining.
That was, as stated, 27 years ago, which was three years before Anne Speed and her colleagues in the leadership of that party actually played a leading role in securing the partition of this country by promoting and signing the 1998 Stormont Treaty which, like a previous effort, was sold to almost all and sundry as a start in removing the British political and military presence from this country whereas what both actually delivered was an attempted unravelling of republicanism but, both in 1921 and 1998, the attempt only weakened Irish republicanism rather than unravel it. (Those with a proper understanding of republicanism warned against so-called ‘stepping stones’ and have been proved right re same.)
ON THIS DATE (2ND MARCH) IN…
Alexander Somerville visited Ballinamuck in County Longford on the 2nd March 1847, when Westminster was attempting a genocide of the Irish people.
He found an empty village and wrote “…the place where Ballinamuck once stood is now the site of a police barrack, filled with armed men, and no other living being but the armed men, is seen there, and they are kept there at the expense of the English tax-payers..”
A Reverend Martin O’Beirne stated — “In Ballinamuck and Clunglish there has been an eviction of a great number of tenants on what has been considered political grounds alone. In Ballinamuck, the entire houses were levelled. In Drumore, in the parish of Clunglish, there was an ejectment of nearly all the tenants in the year 1834.
I was very intimately acquainted with the entire of those tenants. They were persons of uncommonly peaceable good habits, very industrious, and solvent punctual tenants. It was college land. A new proprietor (a middleman) succeeded to the land and to the houses, and the tenants were all removed except Patrick Lynn ; he died before they got him out. Baron Lefroy became the lessee of the property in that year. He purchased the lease, and took legal proceedings and removed the families.
Under what circumstances did he remove them? On the ground, as it was understood by the people themselves, that they were Roman Catholics…”
Incidentally, the film ‘Black 47’ will be shown on an Irish television station, ‘Virgin Media One’, on Friday night, 4th March 2022, at 9pm. It’s a two-hour film, with every minute guaranteed to keep you pinned to your seat. Watch it if you can – it will be two hours well spent.
It was reported in ‘The Irish Independent’ newspaper/propaganda sheet on the 2nd March, 1916, that a British Army Private, Michael Martin, had been killed in action at the start of ‘World War 1’.
Private Martin was born in Monasterevan in County Kildare and was a member of the RIC, stationed in Greenmount in County Cork. He obviously found a better calling for his ‘skills’ in the British Army and was one of the first gunmen to leave a British ‘police force’ for the British Army for that particular conflict.
On the 2nd March, 1920, RIC members discovered a body in a coffin near Ennistymon Bog in County Clare. The body had a bullet hole in the head and those members of that British ‘police force’ believed the remains to be those of an IRA man named Martin Devitt (25), the Vice Commandant of the Mid Clare Brigade IRA.
An inquest was held at which ‘police and military representative Mr. M. Morrissey’ stated that on March 2nd himself and others “went to a bog in Clooney South and found the body about six inches from the surface. Over this there was a small clamp of turf and some bog mould (and) on the coffin was the inscription ‘Martin Devitt died February 24th, 1920, aged 25 R.I.P’.
On that date – the 24th February 1920 – Martin Devitt had been killed in action during an attack on an RIC patrol at Crow’s Bridge in Inagh, County Clare, and Patrick Devitt identified the body as that of his brother.
A jury was convened and later delivered its verdict : “Martin Devitt of Cahersherkin, Co. Clare, died on 24th February 1920 from a bullet wounded received while fighting for the freedom of his country, which freedom is prevented by mis-government, and we tender our sympathy to the relatives of the deceased.”
On the 2nd March 1921 – during a British imposed curfew – a Mr Denis O’Brien was walking home when he was challenged by a British Army curfew patrol : he was shot dead by them, and was buried in a pauper’s grave. On the 2nd June that year, his death was raised in the British ‘House of Commons’ and the following confirmation was given –
“I am informed by the Commander-in-Chief that the Court of Inquiry in this case found that the deceased man, Denis O’Brien, was out in a street in Cork City during curfew hours, that he was challenged several times by the curfew patrol and, failing to answer or to stop, was shot. It is most unfortunate that this man should have been exposed to the risk incurred in disregarding the curfew restrictions, but no blame for the unhappy result can attach to the man who fired..”
There are thousands of such “unhappy results” here due to the continuing and unwanted British military and political presence in this country.
A Mr Casey was in his house on the night of the 2nd March, 1921, when a bullet was fired through his house window from outside, badly wounding him. He was taken to hospital but died that night from the wound.
On Tuesday, 1st March 1921, the republican Chairman of Charleville Rural District Council, Seán O’Brien (30), was working in his business premises when two men called to the building at about 8.30pm, stating that they belonged to the (British) military, and told him to open the door. as he started to do so, two shots were fired at him, hitting him in the shoulder. He managed to close over the door but then a hand grenade was thrown into the premises, wounding him again. He died from his wounds in the early hours of Wednesday, 2nd March, 1921.
A Private TJC Geoghegan, attached to the ‘Royal Scots Regiment’, was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head. Suicide was not ruled out.
On the 7th February 1921, an RIC member from Ardnaree, in County Mayo, James Nixon (34) (‘Service Number 64718’) was in a Crossley Tender truck in the Mount Talbot area of County Roscommon with his colleagues when one of them, who was sitting behind ‘Constable’ Nixon, discharged his carbine rifle. The round hit RIC man Nixon in the hip and he died from the wound on the 2nd March 1921.
British Army Private Maurice Robins (‘Service Number 5373574’) was wounded during an IRA operation on the 18th November in 1920 and died from those wounds on the 2nd March 1921.
On the 2nd March 1922, weapons for the IRA, from Bremerhaven in Germany, were landed at Helvick Head in County Waterford, from a schooner called ‘The Hannah’. The operation had been organised by Robert Briscoe and Charlie McGuinness, two men with interesting backgrounds, to put it mildly…!
On the 2nd March, 1922, an RIC Sergeant, John Cotter (37) – a twenty-year veteran of that grouping – was living in Cabra Park in Dublin with his wife (a school teacher) and three children.
He was born in Kilmihil, a village in the Barony of Clonderlaw in County Clare, and was operating in the North Tipperary area, where he was in command of about one dozen RIC members in Roskeen RIC Barracks ; he was credited with fending off an IRA attack on that RIC Barracks on the 7th April, 1920, following which he and his family moved to Dublin, operating then from the Depot in the Phoenix Park.
Sergeant Cotter was walking in a laneway which connected Cabra Park with St Peters Road at around 3pm on the afternoon of the 2nd March 1922 when three shots were fired at him by a number of IRA men and he was wounded in the neck and the stomach. He died in the Mater Misericordie Hospital from those wounds at about 7.20pm that night.
A verbal disagreement between two men in a pub on the 2nd March 1922 developed into a fistfight which was taken onto the street outside the pub in Ship Street, in Dublin city centre.
One of the men, a British Army soldier attached to the ‘Lancashire Fusiliers’, was apparently losing the fight as he could not get the better of his opponent, Edward Reed. So the British Army man pulled out his service revolver and fired at least two shots into Mr Reed, who died from his wounds the next day.