ON THIS DATE (15TH MARCH) 171 YEARS AGO : IRELAND WITNESSES THE BIRTH OF ‘THE RISING OF THE MOON’.
On the 9th March, 1907, a play entitled ‘The Rising of the Moon’, by Isabella Augusta Persse Gregory (‘Lady Gregory’, pictured) premiered in Dublin in the Abbey Theatre, and was also produced by that venue.
The cast included W G Fay, J M Kerrigan, J A O’Rourke and Arthur Sinclair :
‘On a moonlit night at an Irish wharf by the sea, three Irish policemen in the service of the occupying English government pasted up wanted posters for a clever escaped political criminal. Convinced that the escaped rebel might creep to the water’s edge to be rescued by sea, they all hoped to capture him for the hundred-pound reward and perhaps even a promotion. The Sergeant sent his two younger assistants with the only lantern to post more leaflets around town while, uneasily, he kept watch at the water’s edge. A man in rags tried to slip past the Sergeant, explaining that he merely wanted to sell some songs to incoming sailors…’ (from here.)
The lady author was born in Roxborough House, near Loughrea in County Galway, and was schooled at home by a nanny, Mary Sheridan, who obviously passed-on her interest in Irish history to her pupil. At 28 years young, Isabella married ‘Sir’ William Henry Gregory, who ‘owned’ a large estate at Coole Park, near Gort, in County Galway, thus conveying on her the title ‘Lady’ : as a ‘Lady of Leisure’ who now found herself in the ‘Big House’ she availed of the large library and, when not reading, accompanied her husband on business trips throughout the world. Her education, the library and her foreign travels sparked within her a love of the written word and she quickly became a published author.
Her husband died when she was 41 years of age but she continued to live in ‘the Big House’, where her interest in all things Irish was nurtured, to the point that she practically converted the house into a ‘retreat’ for those who, like her, were smitten by Ireland and its troubled history – Edmund John Millington Synge, William Butler Yeats (and his brother, Jack, a well-known painter) , George Bernard Shaw (who described her as “the greatest living Irishwoman”) and Sean O’Casey were amongst those who visited regularly and, indeed, she was believed to have had romantic connections with the poet Wilfrid Blunt and a New York lawyer, John Quinn.
Despite her privileged lifestyle (or, indeed, perhaps due to it, as it afforded her the time to ‘look within her soul’) Isabella Augusta Persse Gregory, who had a regular ‘audience’ with the ‘Upper Class’ of the day, loudly declared to all and sundry that it was “..impossible to study Irish history without getting a dislike and distrust of England..”.
A ‘poacher-turned-gamekeeper’, if you like but, unusual in our history, one who ‘turned’ the right way.
She died in that ‘Big House’ on the 22nd May 1932, at 80 years of age, and is fondly remembered by those of us who share her convictions and agree with her “impossible to study…” declaration.
The academic Mary Catherine Gunning Colum said of her –
“With all her faults and snobbery, she was a great woman, a real leader, one of those who woke up Ireland from the somnolence and lassitude it was too prone to fall into. It is very doubtful that Yeats could have produced as much work as he did without her help. It is almost certain that, but for Lady Gregory, the Irish national theatre would have remained a dream, or ended in being that failure that so many hopeful undertakings in Ireland became.”
Isabella Augusta Persse Gregory : 15th March 1852 – 22nd May 1932.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, April 1955.
The one significant and important fact about the Yalta Agreeements which has not been mentioned by the American, English or Irish press is that these secret agreements were made without the knowledge or consent of the people concerned.
All three leaders concerned claimed to be champions of freedom and democracy ; Stalin represented a state claiming to be working for the acme of democratic freedom – the socialist state which would emerge from the transient communist dictatorship (according to Lenin).
Roosevelt represented the USA – a comparative new-comer to world politics, but claiming to be a practising democratic state – government of the people, by the people, for the people. Churchill, of course, represented England, the seat and centre of the British Empire and the home of the ‘mother of parliaments…’
ON THIS DATE (15TH MARCH) 128 YEARS AGO : ‘LAST WITCH’ BURNED IN IRELAND.
On the 15th March 1895 – 128 years ago on this date – a lady named Bridget Cleary was done to death by her husband, Michael, who believed she was a ‘changeling’, left in the house by evil fairies –
‘Mary Kennedy bundled up to visit her ailing, 26-year-old niece, Bridget Cleary. It was a quick, half-mile walk over the bridge and up the hill to the Cleary’s cottage in Ballyvadlea of County Tipperary, Ireland. But as Kennedy approached the house that evening, she heard shouting and, when she opened the door, saw six men holding Bridget to her bed.
“Are you [Bridget] Boland, the wife of Michael Cleary, in the name of God?”, Michael yelled at his wife as five others, including three of Kennedy’s sons and Bridget’s own father, restrained her.
Michael held a saucepan filled with fresh milk and herbs, and was forcing his wife Bridget to swallow the bitter concoction. Again, he asked if she was his wife. She replied, in God’s name, that she was. But Michael was unconvinced. To him, the woman before him was not Bridget. She was an evil fairy, a changeling, that had taken his wife’s form. And within the next 24 hours, he would kill her…’
Bridget Cleary has been popularly described as ‘the last witch burned in Ireland’ ; the poor woman had been seriously ill with, it is thought, TB or pneumonia for a few days before her husband killed her, and that illness probably caused her mind and speech to ramble which, in turn, might have caused her husband Michael and his and her friends – bearing in mind the times that were in it and the superstitions that were rife in those days – to believe she had been taken by fairies and that a sickly changeling had been left in her place. God rest the poor woman.
And here we are, 128 years after that horrific event, and we’re still being troubled by ‘changelings’…
From ‘Magill’ Annual, 2002.
‘Wigmore’ has learned that the grand lefty tradition of nonsensical direct action is by no means dead.
It appears that some ‘members of the public’ were so outraged by Minister Cowen’s poor performance during Ireland’s tenure as the President of the UN Security Council that they are ready to – quite literally – take the law into their own hands.
At a recent anti-war meeting organised by a coalition of different interest groups, it transpired that some active members of the civil society are planning to contact their local garda stations and demand citizen’s arrests of Minister Cowen and of the Taoiseach for their role in committing war crimes in Afghanistan…
ON THIS DATE (15TH MARCH) 24 YEARS AGO : IRISH HUMAN-RIGHTS LAWYER MURDERED BY PRO-BRITISH FORCES.
On the 15th March 1999 – 24 years ago on this date – human-rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson (pictured) was murdered by a pro-British paramilitary grouping in Ireland, the ‘Red Hand Defenders’, who had placed a bomb under her car.
Rosemary had become a political thorn in the side of Westminster, due to her work on behalf of those who had been wronged by the British political and military establishment in Ireland.
‘…a bomb had been attached to the underneath of her car, and detonated when she pressed the brakes as she reached the bottom of the road from her home as she drove to her office in Lurgan. On the night of her death, the ‘Red Hand Defenders’ claimed responsibility for the attack. However, it was suggested that such a group had neither the expertise nor resources to carry out such an attack on their own, and the opinion that the British security forces (sic) had been involved was echoed by many…’
Also, it should be remembered that Rosemary Nelson was harassed and threatened by the pro-British ‘RUC police force’ in this country shortly before similar elements murdered her.
ON THIS DATE (15TH MARCH) 101 YEARS AGO : LEINSTER HOUSE ‘FORBIDS’ THE IRA TO HOLD A CONVENTION!
1922, Ireland : political turmoil caused, firstly, by the British and, secondly, by their political and military proxies in the newly-minted-by-Westminster Free State ‘parliament’ and army/militia, was rife.
The IRA was due to discuss, in the Mansion House, in Dublin, the political and military situation in the country, at a meeting which had been organised in January 1922 and which was due to be held on the 26th March.
But, on the 15th March 1922 – 101 years ago on this date – the Staters ‘banned’ the meeting ; Richard Mulcahy, Eoin O’Duffy and Arthur Griffith, among others, ‘banned’ the Convention, because they knew that at least between 70 to 80 per cent of the IRA were against the ‘Treaty of Surrender’ and they hoped that, by ‘forbidding’ the meeting, they could prevent Irish republicans from organising against it.
The following day a ‘Proclamation’ was issued by the Staters stating that if any IRA Officer attended the convention he would be dismissed.
The Convention, which had been organised by ‘The Republican Military Council’ and signed-off on by over 50 senior officers including 4 GHQ staff, 5 divisional commanders and a number of brigade commandants, went ahead as planned ; the Staters took no action against the republicans in attendance, despite their previous innuendos to do so.
But it was a sign of things to come ; more details here.
ON THIS DATE (15TH MARCH) 101 YEARS AGO : HOSPITAL ASSASSINATIONS BY THE IRA.
On Wednesday, 15th March 1922 – 101 years ago on this date – at about 9.30pm, four masked and armed IRA men entered St Bride’s Home, a small private hospital at Ely Place, just off the Sea Road in Galway.
The man in charge there was a Dr. William A Sandys, who was a medical officer for the RIC.
The men made their way to, and entered, room 21, in which there were two men, one of whom was RIC Sergeant John Gilmartin (49) (from County Leitrim, he had joined the RIC in 1893), who was asked if he was a member of the RIC ; he replied that he was at one time, but not now. Having searched his bed and bag, he was told to say an Act of Contrition, to which he replied “Oh, God, sure you are not going to do this…?” The men then opened fire, killing him.
Dr. Sandys, two priests, some nurses and hospital staff were having supper in the dining room when they heard the shots and they rushed to room 21.
While they were examining Sergeant Gilmartin, they heard the sound of several more shots from another part of the building and four men were seen walking through the hall and out the door of the hospital. It was then discovered that the IRA men had also visited room 17, which was occupied by an RIC Sergeant named Tobias Gibbons (54) (from Devleash East, near Killawalla, in County Mayo – he had joined the RIC in 1902) and an RIC Constable named McGloin.
Mr. Gibbons was shot dead, and Mr. McGloin was seriously wounded.
Also on that same night (15th March 1922), an officer from the ‘Congested Districts Board’, a Mr. Patrick Cassidy, from County Mayo, was shot dead at the Galway Workhouse Hospital. Mr. Cassidy was in the hospital recovering from an earlier shooting.
It was later recorded in the ‘Bureau of Military History’ that RIC Sergreant John Gilmartin “…had a very bad record in the district. He protected the (British) Auxiliaries while they flogged a number of boys and disembowlled one of them with a bayonet in front of his mother. After the Truce he went into Galway Hospital for protection, but some men went into the hospital and shot him…”
People like that would have a hard time to find a hiding place.
FUNDS AND FINE GAEL’S LEADER…
Michael Lowry has so far been the focus of media attention about Fine Gael fundraising.
But the party’s current leader, Enda Kenny (pictured), hosted a £1,000-a-plate dinner two days before the second mobile phone licence was awarded. And other guests say that one of the bidders for that licence was in attendance.
By Mairead Carey.
From ‘Magill’ magazine, January 2003.
Fine Gael agreed with all donors prior to the 1997 Electoral Act being introduced that details of their donations would be kept confidential.
The party has only broken its silence on one occasion, when it made a statement on the controversial $50,000 donation it received from the Norwegian telecommunications company, Telenor, which was part of Denis O’Brien’s licence-winning Esat consortium.
The donation was made as a result of a fundraising dinner in New York in November 1995, which was also addressed by the then Taoiseach, John Bruton.
Esat declined to support the event directly but indicated that its partner, Telenor, would make a contribution by taking two corporate tables at a cost of $50,000 – this donation was made after the awarding of the licence…
ON THIS DATE (15TH MARCH) 101 YEARS AGO : NEW POLITICAL GROUP FORMED BY EAMON DE VALERA.
“If the Treaty was accepted the fight for freedom would still go on ; and the Irish people, instead of fighting foreign soldiers, would have to fight the Irish soldiers of an Irish Government (sic) set up by Irishmen. If the Treaty was not rejected, perhaps it was over the bodies of the young men he saw around him that day that the fight for Irish freedom may be fought…”
“…if they accepted the Treaty, the Volunteers would have to wade through Irish blood, through the blood of the soldiers of the Irish Government (sic) and through, perhaps, the blood of some of the members of the Government in order to get Irish freedom…”
“…if we continue on that movement which was begun when the Volunteers were started, and we suppose this Treaty is ratified by your votes, then these men, in order to achieve freedom, will have to march over the dead bodies of their own brothers. They will have to wade through Irish blood. The people had never a right to do wrong…”
The above are samples of speeches delivered by Eamon de Valera in the Free State to various-sized crowds in the days after he had formed a new republican organisation, ‘Cumann na Poblachta’ (‘League of the Republic/Society of the Republic’), on the 15th March 1922 – 101 years ago on this date.
Fighting words, surely enough but, considering that they were uttered by a man who, four years after saying them (ie in 1926) established one of the most corrupt semi-political Free State mafias that still exist in this State today, they were only words ; he made a good living, financially, from 1926 until he died, by condemning “the fight for freedom” and executing those fighters.
‘Long before that, you had slept
in ditches and dug-outs,
prayed in terror at ambushes
with others who later debated
whether de Valera was lucky or brilliant
in getting the British to remember
that he was an American…’
Thanks for the visit, and for reading,
Sharon and the team.