NATIONAL GRAVES ASSOCIATION FOUR COURTS RALLY, DUBLIN, SUNDAY 26TH JUNE 2022.
‘In Defence of The Republic.
Join us as we mark the 100th anniversary of the Shelling of the Four Courts on Sunday 26th June (2022) at 12 noon.
Assemble at the Croppies Acre, Dublin, and march to the Four Courts where we will remember the commitment and sacrifice of those that occupied the Courts and stayed true to the Irish Republic…
…participants are invited to assemble at Croppies Acre and march to the Four Courts where we will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the shelling of the Courts…’ (‘National Graves Association’, from here.)
At 3.40am, on Wednesday, 28th June 1922, the republican forces inside the Four Courts were given an ultimatum from Michael Collins, delivered to them by Free State Major General Tom Ennis, a republican gamekeeper-turned-Free State-poacher – ‘Surrender before 4am and leave the building’.
The republicans ignored the threat and held their ground and, less than half-an-hour later – at about 4.30am – the Staters opened fire on the republicans with British-supplied 18-pounder guns and practically destroyed the building, an act which was recently described as “..a major national calamity..an assault on the collective memory of the nation..such actions are considered as war crimes..a cultural atrocity..”. (from here.)
The IRA held out for two days before leaving the building, but fought on elsewhere in Dublin until early July, 1922, with Oscar Traynor (who later joined the Fianna Fáil party) in command.
‘Within the Four Courts, Rory O’Connor deployed his men in a defensive role. The complex had been well fortified with Lewis machine guns and rifles covering the main approaches to the building. A commandeered armoured car had been placed at the gates, its Vickers machine gun covering any threat that might materialise. This vehicle could be moved rapidly from point to point depending on the direction of the attack.
Windows and doors had been barricaded and a number of improvised explosive devices had been placed at possible entry points. Outside the walls, the newly established Free State Army had recruited many ex-British army soldiers to bolster its ranks. Many of these soldiers were Irishmen who, having served in British regiments during the First World War had gained extensive expertise in tactics and the handling of weapons giving the State army a distinct technical advantage…’ (from here.)
This sad day in Irish republican history will be remembered on Sunday, 26th June, 2022, at 12 noon ; those attending this ‘National Graves Association’-organised event have been requested by the ‘NGA’ to assemble at the Croppies Acre, Dublin, at 12 Noon, and march to the Four Courts, where a few words will be delivered.
I’ll be splitting myself three ways on that day, as myself and the ‘1169’ crew are attending this event, as are some of our RSF/PSF colleagues, as are the rest of the New York ‘Girl Gang’ and, if you can get there, sure I might manage to split myself four ways, and myself and the ‘Girl Gang’ might even let ya buy us a drink afterwards!
See y’all Sunday 26th, hopefully!
‘WHETHER SHE WILLS IT OR NOT, ENGLAND NEEDS ULSTER’.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, April 1955.
Mr Harold Macmillan, British Minister of Defence, speaking at a luncheon of Belfast Unionists on March 12th, said – “Whatever changes might be brought about by nuclear weapons, the importance of one part of Britain’s defence structure remained unaltered ; the Atlantic routes across which lay Ulster must remain open as an outpost of defence.”
England’s real regard for Ulster is unchanging!
After years of speech-making by English statesmen (sic) about the rights of Ulstermen (sic) to remain in the British Empire – the problem of partition being only soluble by the Irish people themselves – that England would ensure justice was done etc etc it is at last clearly stated that Ulster must and will be held by England for the defence of her sea and air routes, whether Ulster or Ireland likes it or not.
We don’t blame England for taking every possible measure to defend herself, but we do denounce her statesmen (sic) as hypocrites. Ireland would not be in the sorry plight she is in today if Irishmen (sic), North and South, realised the hypocrisy (some might call it ‘diplomacy’) of British leaders… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (22ND JUNE) 224 YEARS AGO : ‘KELLY OF KILLANE’ HANGED IN WEXFORD.
‘Glory O! Glory O! to her brave sons who died
For the cause of long-downtrodden man!
Glory O! to mount Leinster’s own darling and pride :
Dauntless Kelly, the boy from Killanne…’
One of the leaders of the 1798 Rising, John Kelly, was born in 1776 in Cill Áine (Killane), between Kiltealy and Rathnure, in County Wexford.
His parents, John and Mary (nee Redmond) ran an ‘ale house’ (a pub!) on what is now the site of Rackard’s Pub, and young John worked as a ‘Churchwarden’ in the parish Church, Saint Anne’s. He took an interest in his poverty-stricken neighbours and rightly concluded that people were being ‘kept down’ by the political system that they lived in, as did hundreds of other young men and women in that part of Wexford.
He joined ‘The United Irishmen’ and was to the forefront in many hand-to-hand battles with the British Army, taking a leadership position in the ‘Battle of Three Rocks’ on the 30th of May, 1798, when ‘Kelly of Killane’ and his fighters ambushed the British ‘Meath Militia’ and killed and/or captured about 90 enemy troops, taking their weapons, and using them to take Wexford Town back from the British.
It was during a later fight in New Ross that John Kelly was wounded, when he was in command of about 800 rebel fighters who attempted to retrieve that town from the British ; the rebels fought their way through the ‘Three Bullet Gate’ and entered the town area but were eventually beaten back by Crown Forces, and John Kelly was wounded in the leg.
He was captured by the enemy as he lay in bed, trying to recover from his injuries, and was taken into their ‘custody’, tried with treason and sentenced to death.
On the 22nd June 1798 – 224 years ago on this date – John Kelly and seven other rebel ‘dissidents’ were hanged on Wexford Bridge, following which John Kelly’s head was cut from his body and it was kicked around the streets by the British, before they picked up what was left of it and stuck it on a spike and placed it in public view, as a warning to anyone else who was thinking of challenging their ‘authority’.
The grave of brave John Kelly, ‘Kelly of Killanne’, is in Saint Anne’s Churchyard, Killanne, in County Wexford.
But the gold sun of freedom grew darkened at Ross
And it set by the Slaney’s red wave…
And poor Wexford stripped naked hung high on a cross
With her heart pierced by traitors and knaves.
Ulster loyalism displayed its most belligerent face this year as violence at Belfast’s Holy Cross School made international headlines.
But away from the spotlight, working-class Protestant communities are themselves divided, dispirited and slipping into crisis.
By Niall Stanage.
From ‘Magill’ magazine, Annual 2002.
But if both sides suffer this abuse, why are loyalist working-class areas shrinking and their Catholic counterparts expanding?
Davy Mahood, a former loyalist prisoner, who is now a community worker in North Belfast, believes the answer lies partly in contrasting conventions –“In a loyalist area, if somebody gets a job or a qualification from university and becomes a professional, the first thing they do is move out,” he says. “With nationalists, they tend to stay within their area and reinvest in it.”
There is a more straightforward reason why more territory is becoming nationalist-dominated ; the Catholic birth rate remains significantly higher than that of Protestants. Public housing within existing Catholic districts is already being used to its full capacity, so the burgeoning population means that expansion is a necessity. Protestants often don’t see it that way, however…
ON THIS DATE (22ND JUNE) 100 YEARS AGO : ‘SIR’ HENRY WILSON EXECUTED BY IRISH REPUBLICANS.
On the 22nd June 1922 – 100 years ago on this date – British Army Field Marshal and Conservative (British ‘Tory’) Party politician ‘Sir’ Henry Wilson attended the unveiling of a memorial statue to ‘the Fallen of the Great War’ at Liverpool Street railway station in London and took a taxi home afterwards.
‘Sir’ Wilson was a particularly arrogant mouthpiece when it came to ‘the Irish problem’ and favoured a military solution rather than a political one and was not shy about saying so – he stated that, in his opinion, the ‘Truce’ of the 11th July 1921 was an episode of “rank filthy cowardice” on the part of the British Government!
His military and political contacts had confirmed to him that the IRA Intelligence Department at that time was an extremely efficient war machine, run by Michael Collins, and Mr Wilson and his colleagues were well aware of that fact.
‘Sir’ Henry Wilson wanted it and Collins eliminated, and sanctioned the use, in Ireland, of ‘The Cairo/Special Gang’, a unit of British agents which specialised in political assassinations – they got their name, and their reputation, from ‘hits’ in the Middle East, carried out on the instruction of Wilson and others in Westminster. And they also got their comeuppance in Ireland.
Anyway – Field Marshall Wilson (58) had returned to his home on Eaton Square, in London, after his ‘jolly’, on the 22nd June, 1922, but didn’t notice that he had been followed home by, ironically, two veterans of that same ‘Great War’, Joe O’Sullivan (who had lost a leg at Ypres) and Reggie Dunne, both of whom were now IRA Volunteers. Before Mr Wilson could get from the taxi to his front door, he was shot dead.
Two policemen were shot and wounded trying to stop the IRA men from escaping and then a crowd of people jumped in to the melee in an attempt to deliver ‘street justice’ to the republicans, but more cops arrived to the scene and Joe and Reggie were arrested and charged with murder. They were hanged in August of that same year, 1922. RIP.
The possibility was mentioned at that time, and later, that the London IRA acted on its own in that operation, and it was also speculated that the men were acting on their own initiatives. Other ‘what ifs..’ were that they were acting on orders from anti-Treaty/pro-republican forces in Ireland or London and/or that Michael Collins himself had given the order for the execution of Wilson but kept those details to himself.
What is known, however, is that just six days after Mr Wilson was shot dead, the ‘Civil War’ began in Ireland. And Westminster is responsible for that.
ON THIS DATE (22ND JUNE) 125 YEARS AGO : JAMES CONNOLLY ARRESTED OVER ‘FAMINE QUEEN’ PROTESTS.
The ‘Queen of Great Britain and Empress of India’, Victoria (the ‘Famine Queen’) celebrated (!) her 60-year reign (her ‘Diamond Jubilee’) on the 22nd June 1897 – 125 years ago on this date.
James Connolly and Maud Gonne (McBride), among others, organised street protests in opposition to interference from Westminster in Irish affairs and James Connolly was arrested and detained overnight by the British ‘authorities’ for doing so ; ‘It was not until as late as 1879 that a group of Wexford men living in Dublin founded the ’98 Club’ with the aim of commemorating the Rebellion. Irish nationalists were well aware of the Irish unionist celebration of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897, and were intent on celebrating the Rebellion with their own ceremonies and the erection of monuments throughout Ireland…’ (from here.)
James Connolly was born on June 5th, 1868, at 107, the Cowgate, Edinburgh. His parents, John and Mary Connolly, had emigrated to Edinburgh from County Monaghan in the 1850s. His father worked as a manure carter, removing dung from the streets at night, and his mother was a domestic servant who suffered from chronic bronchitis and was to die young from that ailment.
Anti-Irish feeling at the time was so bad that Irish people were forced to live in the slums of the Cowgate and the Grassmarket which became known as ‘Little Ireland’. Overcrowding, poverty, disease, drunkenness and unemployment were rife – the only jobs available was selling second-hand clothes and working as a porter or a carter.
James Connolly went to St Patricks School in the Cowgate, as did his two older brothers, Thomas and John. At ten years of age, James left school and got a job with Edinburgh’s ‘Evening News’ newspaper, where he worked as a ‘devil’, cleaning inky rollers and fetching beer and food for the adult workers. His brother Thomas also worked with the same newspaper.
In 1882, aged 14, James Connolly joined the British Army in which he was to remain for nearly seven years, all of it in Ireland, where he witnessed first hand the terrible treatment of the Irish people at the hands of the British. The mistreatment of the Irish by the British and the landlords led to Connolly forming an intense hatred of the British Army.
While serving in Ireland, he met his future wife, a Protestant named Lillie Reynolds. They were engaged in 1888 and the following year Connolly discharged himself from the British Army and went back to Scotland. In 1890, he and Lillie Reynolds were wed in Perth and, in the Spring of that year, James and Lillie moved to Edinburgh and lived at 22 West Port, and joined his father and brother working as labourers and then as a manure carter with Edinburgh Corporation, on a strictly temporary and casual basis.
He became active in socialist and trade union circles and became secretary of the ‘Scottish Socialist Federation’, almost by mistake. At the time his brother John was secretary; however, after John spoke at a rally in favour of the eight-hour day he was fired from his job with the corporation, so while he looked for work, James took over as secretary. During this time, Connolly became involved with the Independent Labour Party which Kerr Hardie formed in 1893.
In late 1894, Connolly lost his job with the corporation. He opened a cobblers shop in February 1895 at number 73 Bucclevch Street, a business venture which was not successful. At the invitation of the Scottish socialist, John Leslie, he came to Dublin in May 1896 as paid organiser of the ‘Dublin Socialist Society’ for £1 a week. James and Lillie Connolly and their three daughters, Nora, Mona and Aideen set sail for Dublin in 1896, where he founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party in May of 1896.
In 1898, Connolly had to return to Scotland on a lecture and fund-raising tour. Before he left Ireland, he had founded ‘The Workers’ Republic’ newspaper, the first Irish socialist paper, from his house at number 54 Pimlico, where he lived with his wife and three daughters. Six other families, a total of 30 people, also lived in number 54 Pimlico, at the same time!
In 1902, he went on a five month lecture tour of the USA and, on returning to Dublin, he found the ISRP existed in name only. He returned to Edinburgh where he worked for the Scottish District of the Social Democratic federation. He then chaired the inaugural meeting of the Socialist Labour Party in 1903 but, when his party failed to make any headway, Connolly became disillusioned and in September 1903, he emigrated to the USA and did not return until July 1910. In the US, he founded the Irish Socialist Federation in New York, and another newspaper, ‘The Harp’.
In 1910, he returned to Ireland and in June of the following year he became Belfast organiser for James Larkin’s Irish Transport and General Workers Union. In 1913 he co-founded the Labour Party and in 1914 he organised, with James Larkin, opposition to the Employers Federation in the Great Lock-Out of workers that August. Larkin travelled to the USA for a lecture tour in late 1914 and James Connolly became the key figure in the Irish Labour movement.
The previous year, 1913, had also seen Connolly co-found the Irish Citizen Army, at Liberty Hall, the headquarters of the ITGWU – this organisation, the ICA, was established to defend the rights of the working people. In October 1914, Connolly returned permanently to Dublin and revived the newspaper ‘The Workers’ Republic’ that December following the suppression of his other newspaper, ‘The Irish Worker’. In ‘The Workers’ Republic’ newspaper, Connolly published articles on guerrilla warfare and continuously attacked the group known as The Irish Volunteers for their inactivity. This group refused to allow the Irish Citizen Army to have any in-put on its Provisional Committee and had no plans in motion for armed action.
The Irish Volunteers were by this time approximately 180,000 strong and were urged by their leadership to support England in the war against Germany. It should be noted that half of the Provisional Committee of the Irish Volunteers were John Redmond’s people, who was the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. The Irish Volunteers split, with the majority siding with Redmond and becoming known as the National Volunteers – approximately 11,000 of the membership refused to join Redmond and his people.
However, in February 1915, ‘The Workers’ Republic’ newspaper was suppressed by the Dublin Castle authorities. Even still, Connolly grew more militant. In January 1916, the Irish Republican Brotherhood had became alarmed by Connollys ICA manoeuvres in Dublin and at Connollys impatience at the apparent lack of preparations for a rising, and the IRB decided to take James Connolly into their confidence. During the following months, he took part in the preparation for a rising and was appointed Military Commander of the Republican Forces in Dublin, including his own Irish Citizen Army. He was in command of the Republican HQ at the GPO during Easter Week, and was severely wounded. He was arrested and court-martialed following the surrender.
On May 9th, 1916, James Connolly was propped up in bed before a court-martial and sentenced to die by firing squad – he was at that time being held in the military hospital in Dublin Castle. In a leading article in the Irish Independent on May 10th William Martin Murphy, who had led the employers in the Great Lock-out of workers in 1913, urged the British Government to execute Connolly.
At dawn on May 12th 1916 – 105 years ago on this date -James Connolly was taken by ambulance from Dublin Castle to Kilmainham Jail, carried on a stretcher into the prison yard, strapped into a chair in a corner of the yard and executed by firing-squad. Connolly’s body, like that of the other 14 executed leaders, was taken to the British military cemetery adjoining Arbour Hill Prison and buried, without coffin, in a mass quicklime grave.
The fact that he was one of the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation bears evidence of his influence. He had told the Irish Citizen Army, on 16th April, 1916, that “..the odds are a thousand to one against us, but in the event of victory, hold onto your rifles, as those with whom we are fighting may stop before our goal is reached…”
He died, strapped to a chair, but that should not be seen to infer that he wanted that chair placed at a table where a compromise would be the outcome.
James Connolly, 5th June 1868 – 12th May 1916. Executed by the British at 47 years of age, on the 12th May, 1916.
Members of the ‘Irish Socialist Republican Party’ carried a black coffin throughout the streets of Dublin, accompanied by a band playing the ‘Dead March’, and Maud Gonne, William Butler Yeats and John O’Leary, among other Irish republicans, took part in those protests, and Maud Gonne reported afterwards on the events –
‘The police were only beginning to realise the meaning of the procession and rushed for reinforcements from the Castle and other police stations. The crowd was so dense that (they) could not attempt to break it up till they were in force. The foot and horse police arrived and there were charges by mounted police and baton charges and people began to be carried off in ambulances.
(James) Connolly was not a man to be easily stopped and the big procession arrived in fair order at O’Connell Bridge. Here the fighting was furious and, seeing the coffin in danger of being captured by the police, Connolly gave the order to throw it in the Liffey.
The whole crowd shouted “Here goes the coffin of the British Empire. To hell with the British Empire.” Connolly was arrested. People began to notice that the city was in darkness ; none of the Jubilee illuminations were visible. Everywhere could be seen excited crowds being dispersed by the police..”
The ‘Inghinidhe na hÉireann’ organisation, which was founded at the turn of the century by Maud Gonne, hung a black banner over O’Connell Street in protest at the visit, and they hung black flags from the windows of many houses throughout Dublin, in many cases barricading the doors of the houses to impede the RIC when they tried to get in to pull down the flags and, when the RIC were busy trying to remove black flags and otherwise disrupt the protests, Maud Gonne and the women of her organisation held a party in Dublin’s Phoenix Park for the poor children living in the Dublin slums. Not for them the ‘pomp and ceremony’ of so-called ‘royalty’.
Maud Gonne, 21st December 1866 – 27th April 1953. The Lady was born in Tongham, in Surrey, England, and died in her 87th year at her home in Roebuck House in Dublin.
‘CONNRADH NA GAEDHILGE’.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
An Co-Choiste an tSiamsa Mhoir (Craobh Moibhi agus Craobh an Cheitinnigh de Connradh na Gaedhilge) have sent along a cheque for £25-18-0, being the proceeds of the Ceili in the Mansion House, Dublin, on Sunday January 16th last, in aid of An Cumann Cabhrach.
Taimid fiorbhuidheach diobtha! (‘We are very grateful!’)
(END of ‘Connradh Na Gaedhilge’ : NEXT – ‘Armagh’, from the same source.)
Thanks for the visit, and for reading ; see y’all on Sunday 26th, hopefully…
..’cause ya won’t ‘see’ us on Wednesday, 29th June 2022 : we have two outings, plus the ‘NGA’ event at the Four Courts, between now and the 29th, so we won’t have time to put a blog post together. But we’ll be back here on Wednesday, 6th July, 2022 with, among other pieces, a discussion within the Republican Movement, including the IRA GHQ Staff, in connection with a proposed rescue operation of some big operators..!
Sharon and the team.