NOT SEEING THE MOUNTAIN BECAUSE OF A MOLEHILL…

Whether intentional or not – and I suspect not – the result of the fallout from that article by Kevin Myers has been that an even more monsterous proposition has gone unchallenged. There has been no comment, no angry editorials, no ‘talking head’ panels of ‘worthies’ discussing the proposition in question, no calls for heads to roll or no apologises demanded from or issued by those concerned. The ‘elephant in the room’ is reading a different newspaper article to a deaf man in the land of the blind…
Check back here with us on Wednesday next, 2nd August.
Sharon.


 


 


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ON THIS DATE (26TH JULY) 103 YEARS AGO : HOWTH GUNS AND A BRITISH MASSACRE ON THE DUBLIN QUAYS.

‘A nationalist depiction of the shootings at Bachelor’s Walk, in which British troops killed three civilians…’ (from here.)

In the early afternoon of Sunday, 26th July, 1914 – 103 years ago on this date – a consignment of over one-thousand rifles and ammunition for same was landed at Howth harbour, in Dublin, and unloaded by the newly-formed ‘Irish Volunteers’, assisted by members of Na Fianna Éireann. On its way in to Dublin city, the republican convoy was halted by a force of about fifty British RIC ‘policemen’ and over one-hundred British soldiers from the ‘Kings Own Scottish Borderers’, known as the ‘Kosbies’.

A large crowd of civilians gathered to watch the confrontation ; the Assistant British RIC Commissioner, William Harrell (‘..a vehement unionist..’) , approached the republicans and demanded that their weapons be handed over. Two of the rebel leaders, Thomas MacDonagh and Darrell Figgis, left the main body of armed republicans and marched over to Harrell and told him it was their understanding that he (Harrell) had no legal authority to issue such a demand!

While RIC Chief Harrell issued chapter and verse of how, and from whom, he derived his ‘authority’, the two Irish republicans were quoting him chapter and verse of why it was that his ‘authority’ was not valid in Ireland ; Harrell’s RIC colleagues were lined-up on the road about ten feet behind him and the British ‘KOSBIES’ were, in turn, lined-up behind the RIC men – both groups were concentrating on the verbal sparring-match between Harrell, MacDonagh and Figgis. But the group of Irish republicans, standing in military formation behind MacDonagh and Figgis, had directed their concentration elsewhere : as the verbal disagreement continued, republicans at the very back of the gathering simply walked away in the opposite direction with their weapons under their coats and other men in the republican contingent handed their weapons to known members of the public who, again , walked off with the equipment under their coats!

Meanwhile, after about half-an-hour of trying to get the better of MacDonagh and Figgis, RIC Chief Harrell gave up and ordered his men, and the British military, to move-in and seize the guns – they got 19 of the 1000 rifles, the rest having been spirited away. The British were not amused, but the crowd that had gathered to watch the confrontation cheered, clapped and laughed at the RIC and the British KOSBIES, as the two British gangs formed-up for the march back into the city centre. Word of the incident had spread at this stage and a large number of the public decided to walk alongside the British, laughing and jeering at them. When the procession was about three miles from Dublin city centre, they were joined by about fifty more members of the KOSBIES who fell in behind their colleagues. Likewise, dozens of men, women and children – out for a Sunday walk – had heard about the ‘disappearing rifles’ and joined with their neighbours in walking beside the British, poking fun at them. It being a Sunday afternoon, families were out in force in the city and were lined-up along the Quays, having heard that the British military detachment was headed that way : people spilled-out from the old tram terminus on Bachelors Walk to view the spectacle.

The British were by now near breaking-point ; they were more accustomed to being feared or, at best, ignored, by the public, and were seething with rage now that they were being laughed at by them. An Officer in charge felt the same, and ordered one line of his men (approximately twenty soldiers) to halt and turn to face the jeering crowd ; when the soldiers had done as commanded, he instructed them to “ready weapons” and fire on the crowd, if he so ordered. It is not clear whether the order to “fire” was given or not but, regardless, the British did open fire. The people on the footpaths – men, women and children – were easy targets. Forty-one people were hit : a man in his mid-forties died on the spot, as did a woman in her early fifties, and a teenage boy. Of the other thirty-eight people, one died later. Such was the outcry from Ireland and abroad, the British Government decided to hold a so-called ‘Commission of Inquiry’ into the shooting and, in August that year (1914), that body announced its conclusion and, as expected, the ‘Commission of Inquiry’ was nothing of the sort. It amounted to a mere ‘slap-on-the-wrist’ for those who pulled the triggers.

The ‘Commission’ simply stated that the actions of their gunmen on that day, Sunday, 26th July, 1914, was “..questionable and tainted with illegality..” and scolded their soldiers for “..a lack of control and discipline..”. The British Army soldiers responsible for the massacre, the ‘Kings Own Scottish Borderers’, within hours following the shootings, found themselves even more reviled by the Irish than they had been – their very presence on the street now guaranteed trouble. They were shipped out of Ireland only days after the incident, to the Western Front. The Irish, meanwhile, had buried their dead : on 29th July, 1914, literally thousands of Irish people followed the coffins of those shot dead three days earlier and Dublin city came to a standstill as thousands upon thousands of people filled the footpaths along the funeral route, from the Pro-Cathedral to Glasnevin Cemetery. An armed Company of Irish Volunteers, with weapons reversed, led the mourners to the gravesides.

While the British political and military administrations claim jurisdiction over any part of Ireland, the incident outlined above can happen again. That British claim must be dropped and the political and armed thugs enforcing same must be re-called to their own country. Any other ‘solution’ only postpones a proper peace.

 

JOKER IN THE PACK?

Padraig Flynn (left) has been facing the flak since he became Minister for the Environment. But Michael O’Higgins finds that nothing phases him. He retains the same certainty he had when saying quite different things. From ‘Magill’ magazine, May 1987.

After twenty years in politics, ten of them in the Dáil (sic – should read ‘Leinster House’) Padraig Flynn retains an irrepressible enthusiasm for the work. But he might reasonably have expected that his elevation to Minister for the Environment would have been easier, giving him greater scope for his boundless confidence. Fianna Fáil had given undertakings in their election manifesto which should have brought the incoming Minister for the Environment ample opportunity to generate good news. Indeed, the coalition’s minister, John Boland – almost alone among the senior ministers in that government – had been able to derive considerable personal prestige from that role : he had sustained a popular campaign against the building societies and overseen the operation of a range of housing grants which brought a response from the public far exceeding anything that could have been anticipated.

For Padraig Flynn, however, things were to be quite different. The new government’s budget ended the house improvement grants, the builder’s grant and the grant towards purchase of local authority houses – and that was just the beginning of his troubles. The resentment at that move has been matched by the irritation of councillors around the country (sic – it’s the State that is being referenced here) – not least Fianna Fáil councillors – at being forced to impose or increase charges for local authority services, even to introduce the domestic rates which Fianna Fáil abolished following the landslide 1977 general election win in which Padraig Flynn came into the Dáil (sic – it’s the Leinster House/Free State institution which is being referenced here) (MORE LATER).

 

PERCEPTIONS…

“We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all.” – So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for ‘Northern Ireland’, last July in ‘The London Evening Standard’ newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from ‘Iris’ magazine, Easter 1991. (‘1169′ comment : *’August’ as in ‘ dignified and impressive’? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway…)

A continuing symptom of this colonised mentality is the refusal of the intellegentia to promote or maintain the Irish language. Trivail items pointing to this are the ‘Windsor Heights’-type names on housing estates, the recent adoption of pseudo-English accents by RTE announcers and newsreaders, and Radio Eireann’s constant use of British correspondents in countries, like the Philippines, where many Irish are resident. The cosy feeling of being an integral part of Hewitt’s ‘British Archipelago of Islands’ gives constant comfort to a section of Irish people.

It is almost as if they believe that a healthy sense of Irish national identity was in some way reprehensible. As if being pro-Irish made people in some sense anti-English. As if Irish nationality was to be defined only in relation to the British Islands, not in relation to the Irish Islands. This internalised defining of ourselves only in relation to one of our neighbours gives us a feeling that only our relations with England are real and important… (MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DATE (26TH JULY) 161 YEARS AGO – BIRTH OF A BRILLIANTLY CONFUSED IRISHMAN.

“Power does not corrupt men ; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power” – George Bernard Shaw, dramatist, critic and social reformer (pictured, left).

An enigma, I think, is the best way to describe ‘GBS’, who was born in Dublin on the 26th of July 1856 – 161 years ago on this date – and was known to be a ‘problem child’ – he grew into what many of his contemporaries and, indeed, society at large, considered to be a ‘problem adult’!

In relation to Irish politics, he supported ‘Home Rule’ within the British ’empire’ (“..socialism can be brought about in a perfectly constitutional manner by democratic institutions..” [which might indeed be possible elsewhere, but the Leinster House institution is not a “democratic institution”, as far as Irish republicans are concerned]) and constantly voiced opinion against Irish separatism yet, at 90 years of age, in 1946, he refused an award from Westminster of an ‘Order of Merit Honour’ ; in 1916, at 60 years of age, he condemned “militant Irish nationalism” and accused those attempting to overthrow British misrule in Ireland as having ‘learned nothing and forgot nothing’ and again voiced his opinion that independence from England ‘was impractical’, although he did object to the British executions of the rebels that followed.

He supported Mussolini (“..the right kind of tyrant..”) ,spoke of his admiration for Stalin and Karl Marx, condemned all sides in the ‘First World War’, flirted with ‘Fabianism’ and ‘Eugenics’ and flirted occasionally with ‘Flat Earthism/Zeteticism’! ‘GBS’ departed this Earth (flat or not!) on the 2nd November 1950 at the grand age of 94. “Dying is a troublesome business,” the man himself opined, ” there is pain to be suffered, and it wrings one’s heart ; but death is a splendid thing – a warfare accomplished, a beginning all over again, a triumph. You can always see that in their faces.” And, in the opinion of this blogger, this world needs more ‘faces’ and free-thinking attitudes like that of ‘GBS’ today, even if I wouldn’t agree with all of his political positions.

In regards to the ‘Irish question’, he stated (in ‘Man and Superman’, 1903) “The Famine? No, the starvation. When a country is full o’ food, and exporting it, there can be no famine. Me father was starved dead; and I was starved out to America in me mother’s arms. English rule drove me and mine out of Ireland” – and, unfortunately, as long as Westminster continues to claim jurisdiction over any part of Ireland, the potential to ‘drive us Irish’ out remains.

 

GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the ‘Frank Cahill Resource Centre’, one of the founders of ‘Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh’, the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A’Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was ‘And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh’. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

SELF-INFLICTED INJURIES.

We kept looking in his direction and giving him dirty looks. I have to say at the end we got on very well and he was a good man. Cage 10 in 1973 was a cage with open huts, that is, no cubicles. There were two toilets at the end of the hut facing where I slept, and next to me was a comrade from Ballymurphy whom we’ll call ‘Buff’, and it was he who found out about the phone call from Liverpool.

Lights went out at midnight but there was still plenty of light for reading and stuff. I heard bare feet padding up the stone floor of the hut – I looked round to see ‘The Caller’ making his way towards the toilets and I turned to Buff – “Can you not think of a nickname for our comrade there..?” I asked. “Yeah..” said one of the other lads, “..right enough, Buff, you haven’t gave him a nickname yet, but you gave all of us ours.” Buff didn’t even blink. He just started singing – “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone..”.

The Intelligence Officer, Buff and myself were gripped by an uncontrollable fit of giggling. “What’s going on here?” asked the Officer Commanding, which prompted the I.O. to advise ‘The Caller’ to tell all before everyone found out from someone else. ‘The Caller’, before telling his story, spent the first five minutes apologising for his stupidity, and for the next week all you could hear was that song – “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone..”

(MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.


 


 


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PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O’Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

FOR ALL THE HARD WORK.

For all the hard work, soul searching, enjoyment, reflection and silent pondering that went into crafting this book from all concerned. We would like to thank Sister Caoimhín for all her hard work on behalf of prisoners in this country, for her kindness and compassion. For she is truly a great woman with a big heart.

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Sister Caoimhín Ní Uallacháin OP, Matt Talbot Community Trust, 42 St. Laurence’s Road, Chapelizod, Dublin 20 –

“Our organisation is a non-residential drug free community founded to befriend and work in solidarity with young disadvantaged adults, mostly young men over 17 years, returning to their community from prison, addiction therapy, state/psychiatric care or struggling in the face of poverty or homelessness.

We offer education, training, work, counselling and therapy, recreation and meals to those employed with us on a CE scheme. We are also involved in prison and home visitation, a woman’s group, a family summer project and local networking and partnership.”

(END of ‘PROSE AND CONS’. Next – ‘Joker In The Pack’, from 1987.)

 

PERCEPTIONS…

“We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all.” – So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for ‘Northern Ireland’, last July in ‘The London Evening Standard’ newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from ‘Iris’ magazine, Easter 1991. (‘1169′ comment : *’August’ as in ‘ dignified and impressive’? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway…)

The English concepts of ‘doing the honourable thing’ and of ‘duty to a colony’ which were recently agonised over when making settlements about Hong Kong, have never had the moral force to stand up to economic reality. ‘Good moral reasons’ are always found for their own actions ; although British governments have a masterly grasp of the effective use of propaganda, they must sometimes wish we were not quite so gullible, so easily cowed, so trusting of the authoritative voice of English mentors.

Questioning voices on the truth of the British government line always come from independent newspapers or television in Britain, not from programme-makers or media people in Ireland. The ‘master-servant’ relationships taboos are alive and well in the Irish media.

One of the saddest facts of Irish history is the way, time and time again, the Irish ‘intelligentsia’ have allowed themselves to be pushed into a welcome acceptance of ‘Britishness’ (‘1169’ comment – lol! And lol again!) : this acceptance of colonised mental status is as true for the North as it is for the rest of Ireland. Discussion programmes on television emanating from Belfast contain constant references to ‘the mainland’, while in ‘the Republic’, the present reappearance of the colonised mentality is more insidious but none the less real. (MORE LATER).

 

GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the ‘Frank Cahill Resource Centre’, one of the founders of ‘Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh’, the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A’Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was ‘And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh’. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

SELF-INFLICTED INJURIES.

The drunken boaster was caught red-handed in the pub, handcuffed to a cop, escorted onto the Liverpool boat and transported back to Ireland. He was handed over to the RUC on the dock at Belfast and, after a short visit to the Petty Sessions Court in Townhall Street in Belfast, where he was remanded in custody, he was sent to Long Kesh.

We of course had no idea as to why he was in prison – it was none of our business. Usually a new guy would just tell you over a cup of tea but this new guy wouldn’t come across with any info at all. We thought this was very selfish and told him so, but he wouldn’t say anything about his charge. The I.O. (Intelligence Officer) in Cage 10 was a mate of a mate, so we cornered him the next day : “What’s the crack with yer man?” we asked. “The new guy”, we said.

“I can’t tell you”, he said, but we knew by his face that he was bursting to tell us. “Ah go on, tell us, we’ll not say anything to anybody…” we said to him. And he told us all about the new guy – the’phone caller’ – and the phone call he made. We could scarcely believe the stupidity of the guy but there it was, and we were duty-bound not to tell anyone about it… (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.


 


 


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VOLUNTEER PAT CANNON COMMEMORATION, WEDNESDAY 19TH JULY 2017, DUBLIN.

Pat Cannon (left), Dublin, and Peter McElchar, Donegal.

At 2.15pm on Saturday, 17th July 1976, two IRA Volunteers on active service – Patrick Cannon from Dublin and Peter McElchar from Donegal – set out in a car in which they were transporting an explosive device. They crossed the border from Donegal into Tyrone and were approaching the town of Castlederg when the device exploded prematurely. Peter McElchar was killed instantly. Patrick Cannon was gravely injured and was taken to Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh. He was being transferred to hospital in Belfast when he died.

Born in Dublin on November 28th 1955 – one of a family of seven (three girls and four boys)– Pat Cannon and his family lived in Edenmore, on the northside of the city. He was a fitter/welder by trade, and was only 20 years of age when he died. A wreath will be laid to mark the 41st anniversary of the death of this young Irish soldier on Wednesday 19th July 2017 at 6.30pm in Old Balgriffin Cemetery, off the Malahide Road, in Dublin (the number 42 bus from Talbot Street in Dublin city centre will leave you at Campion’s Pub, right beside the graveyard). Organised by Republican Sinn Féin Poblachtach : ALL WELCOME!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.


 


 


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ON THIS DATE (5TH JULY) 77 YEARS AGO : THOMAS ÓG MacCURTAIN’S LAST DAY ON EARTH…

Tomás Óg MacCurtain, left, 33 years of age, pictured in Cork in 1948 (thanks to Brendan O’Neill for the pic!).

In Cork, in 1920, Irish republican Tomás MacCurtain was elected as ‘Lord Mayor’ of the city, just one of the many changes that resulted from the 15th January local council elections that were held in Ireland that year, in which Sinn Féin won control of 11 out of 12 cities and boroughs – the only municipal council in all Ireland left under Unionist control was in Belfast ; out of 206 councils elected on the island , 172 now had a
republican/nationalist majority.

The British had ‘outlawed’ Dáil Éireann (the 32-county body, not the pretend ‘Irish parliament’ in Kildare Street, in Dublin, which Free Staters claim, falsely, to be the same institution) directed all local council’s in Ireland to break their connection with the (British) Dublin Castle system of local administration and, within months, most of the local councils in the country were reporting to the republican administration. Incidentally, that All-Ireland (32 County) Dáil continued to function underground until 1938, when it delegated its executive powers to the Army Council of the IRA, in accordance with a resolution of the First Dáil in 1921. With the 1969 split, Tom Maguire, the last and faithful survivor of the All-Ireland Dáil, stated that the Provisional IRA was the successor of the 1938 body – similarly, following the 1986 split, he nominated the Continuity IRA as the legitimate IRA. Tom Maguire died in 1993, aged one-hundred-and-one (101).

Anyway – back to Tomás Óg who, in the year that his father was elected as ‘Lord Mayor’ of Cork, was only five years of age. He developed an interest in all things Irish, encouraged as much by his mother, Eibhlís Breathnach, as well as his father and, as an adult, became every bit as active in Irish republicanism as was his father, and quickly became a trusted and leading republican, sitting on the Executive of the IRA. This, plus his family history, marked him out to the Free State ‘authorities’ as ‘a person of interest’.

On Wednesday, 3rd January 1940, in St. Patrick Street in Cork, Tomás Óg was jumped-on by a number of Free State Special Branch men, who had decided to ‘arrest’ him – he fought with them and, in the scuffle, a gunshot was fired. A Free State detective, from Union Square Barracks, by the name of Roche, who in particular had been harassing Tomás Óg for weeks, fell to the ground – he was fatally wounded and died the next day. On the 13th June 1940, the Free State ‘Special Criminal Court’ sentenced Tomás Óg MacCurtain to death, to be carried out on the 5th July 1940 – 77 years ago on this date. An application for ‘Habeas Corpus’ was lodged and the execution was postponed for a week, but the Free State Supreme Court then dismissed the appeal. The whole country was divided over the issue – some demanded that he be put to death immediately as a ‘sign’ from the Fianna Fail administration that they were serious about ‘cracking-down’ on their former comrades in the IRA, while others demanded that he be released. Finally, on the 10th July 1940, the Free Staters issued a statement – “The President, acting on the advice of the government, has commuted the sentence of death on Tomás (Óg) MacCurtain to penal servitude for life.”

It has since been alleged that a sister of Cathal Brugha’s widow, who was then the Reverend Mother of an Armagh Convent, had requested that her ‘boss’ , Cardinal MacRory, should ‘speak to’ Eamon de Valera about the case. This, if indeed it did happen, and the fact that Tomás Óg’s father had actually shouldered a gun alongside many members of the then Fianna Fail administration (before they went Free State, obviously), saved his life.

Tomás MacCurtain (Senior) died in 1920, only 36 years of age, and his son, Tomás Óg, died in 1994, at 79 years of age.

 

PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O’Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

THE GENERAL. (By Brendan Walsh.)

For this world you were too good,
the media clamoured for your blood.
They couldn’t see that from childhood
you were a real life Robin Hood.

The evil Minister once did say,
Martin Cahill can’t win the day.
So assassins called into play,
it was the extrajudicial way.

In the Dáil (sic) she did stay,
the wicked day to while away.
Waiting for the news to say,
The General has died today.

(‘1169’ comment – I don’t know the author, Brendan Walsh, nor do I know, or understand, how any ‘republican’ could consider people like Martin Cahill to be a “Robin Hood”-type figure. And I don’t understand how the author’s comrades in Portlaoise Prison allowed that piece to be published in a book linked to them and to what they believed, at that time (ie 1999) to be ‘republicanism’. However, some (small) comfort to be had in the fact that not all in their own organisation supported the “Robin Hood”- type propaganda.)

(Next – ‘For All the Hard Work’ – a final acknowledgment.)

 

PERCEPTIONS…

“We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all.” – So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for ‘Northern Ireland’, last July in ‘The London Evening Standard’ newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from ‘Iris’ magazine, Easter 1991. (‘1169′ comment : *’August’ as in ‘ dignified and impressive’? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway…)
“This injurious feeling of inferiority” is also that with which the Northern Protestant deals with England – “His going to the capital (London) to find the central focus of his values, solves nothing. It only proves that his problem is not chiefly one of provincialism, but must be rooted in some species of colonialism or post-colonialism” – JW Foster, ‘The Irish Review’, Autumn 1988.

According to Joe Lee, Professor of History, UCC, the qualities in the Irish acceptuated by colonialism were “ambiguity, evasiveness, furtiveness and mendacity.” All species of fawning behaviour just adds to the thwarted sense of irritation that bedevils our relationships with England. Why, thinks the average English politician, should a problem so fundamentally unimportant take up so much of our time?

As Garret FitzGerald said (‘Irish Times’ newspaper, 7/6/1989) “We have always in Ireland failed to understand the extent to which the British governmental system has weaknesses and inefficiencies. We tend, because of a traditional inferiority complex, to think they’re being clever when they’re being stupid. The failure of the Irish to understand how stupidly the British can act is one of the major sources of misunderstanding between our countries.”

Commentators in the better-class English newspapers use a half-humourous, patronising tone when writing about Ireland, that manages to make the reader feel that these are an inferior but interesting people. The same tone was always used until recently in articles about Russians ; it signifies that those written about are in some way outside the Pale. This tone of almost affectionate disparagement is beautifully illustrated in an article in the ‘Independent’ newspaper, 18th March 1989, by Glebern Davis when he writes that “..panic was ever a traditional and economic element in Irish conflict..”

(MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DATE (5TH JULY) 155 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF THE NATION’S SHAMROCK.

In Dublin, on the 8th October 1822, a child was born (out of wedlock – a ‘mortaler’ in those days!) to Mary Williams and a Tipperary Count, Nicholas D’Alton ; the child, Richard Dalton Williams (pictured, left), was reared at Grenanstown, Nenagh, County Tipperary and, at the age of ten, began his education at St. Stanislaus School, Tullabeg, in County Laois, and then at St. Patricks College, County Carlow, where he stayed until he was 21 years of age. By the time he left that college he was fluent in three languages, and was studying medicine in St Vincent’s Hospital in Stephens Green, in Dublin, preparing himself for a career as a doctor. He combined both ‘crafts’ to produce a poem, which he called ‘The Dying Girl’ –

‘From a Munster vale they brought her,
from the pure and balmy air ;
An Ormond peasant’s daughter,
with blue eyes and golden hair.
They brought her to the city
and she faded slowly there –
consumption has no pity

for blue eyes and golden hair.’ (From here.)

His first published poem was entitled ‘The Munster War Song’ and it appeared in ‘The Nation’ newspaper on the 7th January, 1843, under the pseudonym ‘Shamrock’ (at the time of its publication, he was actually in the process of moving from Carlow, to Dublin, to study medicine in St Vincents Hospital). ‘The Nation’ newspaper received a great response to Williams’ poem, and ‘Shamrock’ became a regular contributor, with works such as ‘Sisters of Charity’ and ‘The Haunted Man’, which raised the profile and readership of the newspaper and of ‘Shamrock’ himself. As well as the poems, ‘The Nation’ newspaper published a series of humorous articles from Richard Dalton Williams, entitled ‘Misadventures of a Medical Student’, and described the author, ‘Shamrock’ (in its July 1851 issue), in the following terms – “His intellect is robust and vigorous, his passion impetuous and noble, his perception of beauty most delicate and enthusiastic ; his sympathies take in the whole range of human affections, and his humour is irresistible. We think, indeed, that ‘Shamrock’ excels all his contemporaries in imagination and humour.”

By now he was a member of the ‘Young Ireland’ Movement, and put his medical training to good use during ‘The Great Hunger’ of 1845-1849, by helping to ease the suffering of hundreds of cholera victims ; he was a hardened opponent of British misrule in Ireland and had joined the ‘Irish Confederation’ group, which was founded in January 1847 by William Smith O’Brien and other ‘Young Irelanders’ who had disagreed with Daniel O’Connell’s ‘Repeal Association’. He was quickly elected to leadership level in the ‘Confederation’ and was the driving force behind a short-lived newspaper called ‘The Irish Tribune’, which he published with the assistance of ‘Young Ireland’ leader, Kevin Izod O’Doherty ; the first issue was published in June 1848, but only five issues of the weekly ‘paper made it on to the streets before it was suppressed by the British in early July of that year. But
the British used ‘The Irish Tribune’ newspaper as a reason to arrest both men, and they were charged under the ‘Treason-Felony Act’ with “intent to depose the queen and levying war.”

A famous barrister of the time, Samuel Ferguson, defended both men in a trial which lasted five months and caused great embarrassment to the British.
Eventually, in November 1848, Williams and O’Doherty were acquitted ; Williams went back to studying medicine, and qualified as a doctor, in Edinburgh, in July 1849. In June 1851, he emigrated to America and, whilst in New Orleans , met and married an Irish woman, Elizabeth Connolly ; the couple moved to a town called Thibodeaux in Louisiana, where he wrote his last poem – ‘Song of the Irish-American Regiments’ –

‘We have changed the battle-field,
but the cause abandoned never –
here a sharper sword to wield,
and wage the endless war for ever.
Yes! the war we wage with thee –
that of light with power infernal –
as it hath been still shall be,
unforgiving and eternal.’
(From here.)

On the 5th July, 1862 – 155 years ago on this date – just shy of his fortieth birthday, Richard Dalton Williams, ‘Shamrock of the Nation’, died in America of consumption in Thibodeaux, Louisiana. A patriot, a poet and a publisher, Dr Richard Dalton Williams is one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of almost unknown and/or practically forgotten Irish men and women that played their part in the on-going struggle to remove the British presence from Ireland. They deserve to be remembered somewhere : ‘Now thou art a sink of evil — a serpent’s nest — a tiger’s den — an Iron-crowned and armed devil, having power to torture men.’

 

GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the ‘Frank Cahill Resource Centre’, one of the founders of ‘Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh’, the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A’Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was ‘And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh’. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

SELF-INFLICTED INJURIES.

“Hello, which service do you require?” “Gimme the peelers, the RUC in Belfast.” “One moment, please, until I connect you.” The RUC man who was just about to lift the phone – and at the time didn’t know it – was about to have a brilliant day. “Constable Flannigan here. Can I help you?” “You can go and fuck yourself” , answered the caller, who it transpired at his trial, was calling from Liverpool. “Look it was you that rang me,” said the RUC man who, at the same time, was getting another RUC man to trace the call. “Well, you don’t know me,” said the caller, “but you’ll be happy to know that I’ll be giving you bastards a break for a while.” “A break from what?”, asked the RUC man.

For the next five minutes the caller, who was the worse for drink, listed all the robberies he had carried out during his illustrious career as a republican activist. The RUC man in Belfast egged him on with platitudes, and pretended to be impressed with his chat-line pal while giving the cops in Liverpool enough time to walk next door from the biggest police station in that city to the pub where the boaster was boasting… (MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK..

..that is, on Wednesday 12th July 2017, we won’t be posting our usual contribution, and probably won’t be in a position to post anything at all ; this coming weekend (Saturday/Sunday 8th/9th July 2017) is spoke for already with a 650-ticket raffle to be run for the Dublin Executive of Sinn Féin Poblachtach in a venue on the Dublin/Kildare border (work on which begins on the Tuesday before the actual raffle) and the ‘autopsy’ into same which will take place on Monday evening, 10th, in RSF Head Office on Parnell Street in Dublin, meaning that we will not have the time to post here. But we’ll be back, as stated above, on Wednesday 19th July 2017. See ye then!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.


 


 


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ON THIS DATE (28TH JUNE) 95 YEARS AGO : FREE STATERS USE BORROWED WEAPONS FROM WESTMINSTER AGAINST THEIR OLD COMRADES.

“For a little while on the morning of the attack on IRA Headquarters, Four Courts, Dublin, 28th June 1922 (95 years ago, on this date), Liam Mellows and I shared vigil at one of the barricaded upper windows, and watched the city bestir itself, within our arc of vision, to the noise of rifle fire and light artillery fire. We thought our thoughts.

Two men, obviously workmen making their way along the quays to their jobs, started us speculating on what role the trade unions would have been guided into were James Connolly alive and the Republic under attack.
It was the first time I heard Mellows on the play of social forces in the crisis of the Treaty ; I was present at the Dáil Éireann session when he made his speech against the Treaty but, while what he said then impressed me greatly, it gave no indication of the pattern of ideas he uncovered now.

The Four Courts fell and its garrison became prisoners, and with it members of the IRA Executive – Rory O’ Connor, Liam Mellows, Joe McKelvey and Peadar O’ Donnell. In the angry mood of the thronged cells in Mountjoy Jail , the prisoners instinctively turned to Mellows as the one among us who must, somehow, be able to explain how the Republican Army could permit itself to be overrun by much weaker military forces and why certain men of courage, hitherto devoted to independence, should choose to enter on a road of struggle to overthrow the Republic and raise on its ruins a parliament which rested on the penal British Government of Ireland Act 1920..” (From ‘There Will Be Another Day’, by Peadar O’Donnell, first published in January 1963.)

‘..on the 14th April 1922, Anti-Treaty forces under the command of Rory O’Connor occupied the Four Courts and several other buildings in Dublin city. A tense stand off between Pro and Anti-Treaty Forces commenced. Anti-Treaty forces hoped that their occupation of the courts would ignite a confrontation with British troops and thus unite the pro and anti Treaty forces. However, this hope never materialised. Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith (‘1169’ comment – Both Free Staters, pro-Treaty – they were sold a pup, and they tried to sell it to others by subterfuge – in Griffith’s own words “I have signed a Treaty of peace between Ireland and Great Britain. I believe that treaty will lay foundations of peace and friendship between the two Nations. What I have signed I shall stand by in the belief that the end of the conflict of centuries is at hand..”) came under increasing pressure from London to assert the new governments authority in Dublin and remove those occupying the courts…on the 22nd June 1922, two men assassinated soldier and Unionist politician Sir Henry Wilson in London. Though it was stated that the men were acting on their own initiative, it was suspected that they were acting on orders from Anti-Treaty forces. This action produced an ultimatum from the British government, that they would attack Anti–Treaty forces in the Four Courts unless the Free State government took action. Collins issued a final ultimatum to those occupying the courts. The three-armed parties involved had now reached a point of no return. Civil War was now inevitable…on the 28th June 1922 at 04.10 hours, the bombardment commenced. Shelling was to continue for a number of days..’ (from here.)

Michael Collins (left) and his bodyguard, Emmet Dalton.

Emmet Dalton led the Free State attack on the Four Courts ; he was an Irish rebel-turned-Free Stater, who was born in America on March 4th 1898 and died in Dublin on March 4th 1978 – his 80th birthday, and also the bicentenary of the birth of the man he was named after – Robert Emmet. Dalton sold out in favour of the ‘Treaty of Surrender’ in 1921 and made a (Free State) name for himself by attacking republican positions from the sea, actions that his British paymasters considered as having ‘turned the tide’ against the Irish republican resistance. He was with Michael Collins on the 22nd of August 1922 when the latter was shot dead by republican forces in West Cork (Béal na mBláth) and is said to have propped up a dying Collins to place dressings on his wound. He resigned from the Free State Army shortly after Collins was killed, and was appointed as the clerk of the Free State Senate, but resigned from that, too, three years later, and opened a film production company, Ardmore Studios, near Bray, in Wicklow. He died, aged 80, on the 4th of March 1978, the same date and month that he had been born on, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

He, Collins, Griffith and those others were wrong at the time when they propagandised that their ‘treaty’ offered “the end of the conflict of centuries” as they were experienced enough to realise that that wasn’t the case. They cursed the rest of us for their own ends.

 

PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O’Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

SCENT OF FRAGRANCE. (By Greg Tarrand.)

You sent me a flower
A powerful message
From you to me
On my birthday.

Oh what a surprise
I could never surmise

At thirty-four
And never before
To my door
A flower had I.

The flower may not last
But the memory will never pass
The fragrance will never be lost
As on that December day
You took away the frost.

Oh the power
Of that flower
From me to you
Thank you.

(Next – ‘The General’, by Brendan Walsh.)

 

PERCEPTIONS…

“We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all.” – So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for ‘Northern Ireland’, last July in ‘The London Evening Standard’ newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from ‘Iris’ magazine, Easter 1991. (‘1169′ comment : *’August’ as in ‘ dignified and impressive’? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway…)

We do not totally annihilate our political opponents, therefore we cannot adequately comprehend or defend ourselves against the totalitarian callousness of their ‘real politik’ since it breaks our unwritten codes of behaviour.

To them, our small, quickmoving , falsely jolly politicians with their undeviating lack of steadfast resolve, have more in common with Italian businessmen or Levantine street-sellers than with the grave dignified men of affairs they perceive themselves to be.

We do not have their assured possession of superb self-confidence. We never approached their conviction of moral superiority. We are socially a little unsure of ourselves but we get on well with them at an effective rather than at an intellectual level. We fall too easily into the old master-servant pattern of behaviour which is the historic English-Irish mode of relations… (MORE LATER).

 

GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the ‘Frank Cahill Resource Centre’, one of the founders of ‘Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh’, the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A’Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was ‘And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh’. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

“HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS…?”.

Nobody I knew up until I got the scallions would even admit to eating Champ but now they were champing at the bit to get eating it.

The next day started like any other day but a feeling of optimism swamped the cage. The potatoes were peeled and the scallions were prepared. A rumour was circulated that Cage 10 had sometime during the night redirected their tunnel by 240 degrees in the direction of Cage 11 in an effort to tunnel into our cage while we slept and steal the scallions. Gangs of men armed with iron bed-ends roamed Cage 11 waiting for one sign of infiltrators, but no one showed up.

Finally, the Champ was ready. My comrades customised their portion with their own preferred selected goodies – there was Champ l’Orange, Fillet de Champ, Ulster Fry Champ, Fish n’ Champ, Bangers and Champ, Champ Madras and Curried Champ with Black Bean Sauce.

Over the coming weeks and months we grew to hate the stuff! But we all agreed that, on that particular balmy Sunday in Long Kesh, it was one of the most civilised meals we ever had. Except for the fights that broke out over the extra portions!

[END OF “HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS…?” : next – ‘Self-Inflicted Injuries’.]

 

ON THIS DATE (28TH JUNE) 219 YEARS AGO – ‘UNITED IRISHMEN’ LEADER EXECUTED BY THE BRITISH.

‘Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey was captured within a few weeks by the British and was ‘tried’, convicted and hanged on the 28th June 1798 (219 years ago, on this date) at the bridge of Wexford. His body was then beheaded, the torso thrown into the River Slaney and his head displayed on a spike at the courthouse in Wexford town….’ – from a piece we wrote here on the 31st May last, as it was on that date (31st May) that the ‘United Irishman’ in question, Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey, ‘..was appointed by the approximate four-thousand strong rebel army in that area (Wexford) as their Commander-in-Chief..’ (from here.)

We won’t re-post the whole piece, as it’s only five weeks ago that we first posted it on this blog but, having said that, we couldn’t let the date pass without referencing its relevance to the man, and drawing your attention to this article, from the ‘Library Ireland’ website : ‘Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey (was) an estated gentleman of about £3,000 a year, in the County of Wexford, a barrister, and commander of the Wexford insurgents in 1798. He was born about 1762, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, studied at the Middle Temple, and was called to the Bar in 1782. Before the insurrection of 1798 he “was in tolerable practice as a barrister, and was extremely popular with all parties. He was high-spirited, kind-hearted, and good-tempered, fond of society, given to hospitality, and especially esteemed for his humane and charitable disposition towards the poor.”

He resided at Bargy Castle, and when the insurgents took the field in May 1798, in the north of the county, Harvey, with his friends Colclough and FitzGerald, was immediately imprisoned in Wexford on suspicion. After the defeat of the royalists at the Three Rocks, Wexford was evacuated by the small garrison that remained, and the prisoners were on 30th May released by the inhabitants, who implored Harvey to intercede with the insurgents for the safety of the town. This he did, and upon its being occupied by the insurgents he was appointed Commander-in-chief…’ (from here.)

Farewell to Bargy’s lofty towers, my father’s own estate
And farewell to its lovely bowers, my own ancestral seat
Farewell each friend and neighbour, that once I well knew there
My tenants now will miss the hand that fostered them with care.

Farewell to Cornelius Grogan, and to Kelly ever true
John Coakley and good Father Roche, receive my last adieu
And fare-thee-well bold Esmond Kyan, though proud oppression’s laws
Forbid us to lay down our lives, still we bless the holy cause.

Farewell my brave United men, who dearly with me fought
Though tyrant might has conquered right, full dearly was it bought
And when the sun of freedom shall again upon you shine
Oh, then let Bagenal Harvey’s name array your battle line.

Although perchance it may be my fate, in Wexford town to die
Oh, bear my body to the tomb wherin my fathers lie
And have the solemn service read, in Mayglass holy towers
And have twelve young maids from Bargyside, to scatter my grave with flowers.

So farewell to Bargy’s lofty towers, since from you I must part
A stranger now may call you his, which with sorrow fills my heart
But when at last fate shall decree that Ireland should be free

Then Bagenal Harvey’s rightful heirs shall be returned to thee.

Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey 1762 – 1798.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.


 


 


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ON THIS DATE (21ST JUNE) 44 YEARS AGO : “FASCIST MURDER SQUAD” STRIKE AGAIN.

“The Belfast Brigade denied any involvement in the murder of the young protestant whose body was found in the Lower Falls area. They say that it
is likely that he was the victim of the local fascist murder squad who were responsible for two murders of catholic boys in the Giants Ring area”
– from the ‘Republican News’ newspaper, June 1973.

Of all the bombings, atrocities, tortures and killings that have unfortunately being visited and imposed on this country by Westminster due to their unwanted military and political presence here, the shooting dead of David Walker is one of the worst : this special needs sixteen-year-old boy was lifted off the street by the ‘Official IRA’, apparently as a ‘dare’, at about 8.30am on Thursday, 21st June 1973 – 44 years ago on this date – as he was working in his job. He was found about three hours later on the Falls Road with gunshot wounds to his head and chest. He died a few minutes after he had been found.

‘David Walker, 16-year-old Protestant civilian was found at O’Neill Street in the lower Falls area where he was shot and left by the Official IRA..(he) was described as being educationally subnormal and had a job in the Belvoir area of south Belfast near his home at Castlecoole Park…as (he) was working, the Official IRA abducted him and took him to the west of the city where they shot him. Joseph Cunningham, Senator Paddy Wilson, and Irene Andrews were later killed by the UDA/UFF in retaliation for young David’s death. The man jailed for David Walker’s killing said in a statement that he thought David was a member of the UFF. He said he had been approached by a man in Leeson Street who asked him if he was “man enough to shoot a member of the UFF murder gang”. The man said: “I said I would do it if there was proof that he was killing innocent Catholics. I asked for proof and he said Walker was involved in the murder of Danny Rouse“. The judge said that David Walker’s murder was “a horrible and unjustified murder..” ‘ (from here.)

It may well be forty-four years since that barbarous act, but the political conditions for deeds like it are still in place – and it would still suit those in power in Westminster to have ‘the wild Irish’ killing themselves, allowing the British – the ‘man in Leeson Street’ – to continue to present themselves as being in Ireland ‘to keep the warring factions apart’. The only workable solution is that of a British political and military withdrawal from Ireland.

 

PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O’Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

THE EYES OF THE BARD CAN BE HARD. (By Greg Tarrand.)

If you put a bard in a prison yard
would he tell of the noise and the chatter
or maybe the rain
and the way it might clatter?

Would he paint a good picture
and make it all seem well
and not tell
about the fear and the smell?

Would he say it was nice
and not think twice
would he tell of the mice
and the dirty old lice?

would he tell of the morning
when there was a fight with the warden
or would he be sly
and turn a blind eye?

If he seen you cry
he’d probably say you were full of joy
I wonder why the bard has to lie?
Maybe that’s his only ply
To make people sigh.

Maybe people will only listen to him if they enjoy
so he tells about the best of us
to placate the rest of us
he probably sees this way
so he can live day to day
and maybe earn extra pay.

That’s probably why he distorts the truth
’cause nobody would give a hoot
and he would be without his loot
forgetting not the talent he’s got
is why he doesn’t give away a lot.

The bard can’t live singing sorrow as his jibe
but if you look in his eyes
you’ll see his disguise
but we know
what he sings is for show.

So if he lies to bring people joy
rather than make them cry
well, so he should
’cause his song is good.

He makes people light-hearted
even the obdurate warm to his charm
as they’re wise enough
to know there’s no harm
with wine and song they get along
and through the bard they’re not that hard.

(Next – ‘Scent Of Fragrance’, by Greg Tarrand.)

 

PERCEPTIONS.

“We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all.” – So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for ‘Northern Ireland’, last July in ‘The London Evening Standard’ newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from ‘Iris’ magazine, Easter 1991. (‘1169′ comment : *’August’ as in ‘ dignified and impressive’? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway…)

Since the Irish and the English see the world from completely different planes of being, it is of interest to examine how, after all this conflict, one side views the other : “Fundamentally they do not very much respect us, we carry in our bearing, in our eager efforts to please, too much of the humility of the one time native. It is there in our sudden gushes of talk, in our sideways glances, in our constant lack of urbanity,” as Elizabeth Bowen said, we are “florid, vain, quick to guilt and sentimentality.” We disregard things important in their civilisation ; like pride in their army and navy. We lack periods of silence, good breeding and restraint. We speak a rapid, almost foreign, type of English, like Indians – “a brogue”, they call it.

Unlike the Scots and the Welsh, we have constantly wanted to stay out of their hegemony. We have nearly always been regarded as “a damned nuisance”. We exasperate them by our sense of history ; in no other place has the population been in such constant rebellion against their impartial benevolent rule, and we will not let them forget it. Duplicity, fear and evasion are all at work in our mutual relations – the glissades of unsettled historical conflict and of unspeakable present happenings cause undercurrents at the most staid and informal of our encounters.

They find us unpredictable, we find them stiff. We can offend them by our most commonplace utterances on, say, World War II or the Malvinas War and they offend us likewise, since they do not understand or practise our unspoken, unacknowledged but very real concept of ‘face’… (MORE LATER).

 

ON THIS DATE (21ST JUNE) 140 YEARS AGO : ‘THE DAY OF THE ROPE’.

‘On 21st June 1877, in the anthracite-mining county of Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, ten Irish immigrant men alleged to have been members of an oath-bound secret sect of vigilantes called the ‘Molly Maguires’ were hanged in what came to be known as ‘The Day of the Rope’. Twenty members of the group in all would be executed, following a kangaroo court that American historian John Elliot called “one of the most disgraceful episodes in the history of the bench and bar in the United States.” Oppression, exploitation, racial and ethnic bigotry, strikes and union-busting are common enough themes in the American labour movement, but the story of the ‘Molly Maguires’ and the ruling class’s attempts to destroy these Irish workers is so especially contemptible it has achieved legendary status….’ (from here.)

On what became known as ‘Black Thursday’ (21st June, 1877), ten coal miners were hanged until dead in eastern Pennsylvania ; all ten had been born in Ireland but were forced to leave because of An Gorta Mór. It was claimed that they, and others, were involved in ‘organised retributions’ against corrupt and unfair employers and other members of the establishment, and operated as such under the name ‘Molly Maguires’ (Molly Maguire had become famous in Ireland [or ‘infamous’, as the ‘landlord’ class described her] for refusing to bow down or bend the knee to them).

The workers had been arrested for their alleged part in several killings and, despite much doubt cast over the ‘evidence’ used against them, they were convicted and sentenced to death. The court case was widely seen as employers drawing ‘a line in the sand’ in regards to what they considered to be ‘uppity’ workers looking for better wages and conditions, and an excuse for the establishment to vent its anti-labour and anti-Irish prejudice – ‘The first trials began in January 1876. They involved 10 men accused of murder and were held in Mauch Chunk (an Indian name meaning ‘Bear Mountain’) and Pottsville. A vast army of media descended on the small towns where they wrote dispatches that were uniformly pro-prosecution. The key witness for the prosecution was yet another Irishman, James McParlan. Back in the early 1870’s, when Gowen had hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to spy on his workers, McParlan had gone under cover to infiltrate the Mollies and gather evidence. And gather he did — or at least he claimed he did during the trials. On the stand he painted a vivid picture of ‘Molly Maguire’ secrecy, conspiracy and murder. With Irish catholics and miners excluded from the juries, the verdicts were a foregone conclusion.

The scene in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, 21st June 1877 – 140 years ago, on this date – as alleged members of the ‘Molly Maguires’ were taken to the scaffold.

All 10 were convicted and sentenced to hang. No doubt seeking to send the most powerful message to the region’s mining communities, authorities arranged to stage the executions on the same day — June 21st, 1877 – in two locations. Alexander Campbell, Michael Doyle, Edward Kelly, and John Donahue were hanged in Mauch Chuck (where the four men “all swung together”) , while James Boyle, Hugh McGehan, James Carroll, James Roarity, Thomas Duffy, and Thomas Munley met a similar fate in Pottsville (where all six “swung two-by-two”). Although the hangings took place behind prison walls, they were nonetheless major spectacles that drew huge crowds and generated international news coverage..’ (from here).

It was reported that there was “..screams and sobbing as husbands and fathers were bid goodbye..” and that “..James Boyle carried a blood-red rose and Hugh McGehan wore two roses in his lapel (as) James Carroll and James Roarity declared their innocence from the scaffold..”

Over the following two years, ten more alleged members of the ‘Molly Maguires’ were hanged, including Thomas P. Fisher (on the 28th March 1878) and James McDonnell and Charlie Sharp (on the 14th January 1879). In 1979, the state of Pennsylvania pardoned one of the men, John ‘Black Jack’ Kehoe, after an investigation by its ‘Board of Pardons’ at the behest of one of his descendants (incidentally, Seán Connery played the part of John Kehoe in the film ‘The Molly Maguires’) and, on the 5th December 2005, the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives passed a resolution recognising the lack of due process for several of the men.

Make way for the Molly Maguires
They’re drinkers, they’re liars but they’re men
Make way for the Molly Maguires
You’ll never see the likes of them again.

Down the mines no sunlight shines
Those pits they’re black as hell
In modest style they do their time
It’s Paddy’s prison cell
And they curse the day they’ve travelled far
Then drown their tears with a jar.

So make way for the Molly Maguires
They’re drinkers, they’re liars but they’re men
Make way for the Molly Maguires
You’ll never see the likes of them again.

Backs will break and muscles ache
Down there there’s no time to dream
Of fields and farms, of womans arms
Just dig that bloody seam
Though they drain their bodies underground
Who’ll dare to push them around.

So make way for the Molly Maguires
They’re drinkers, they’re liars but they’re men
Make way for the Molly Maguires
You’ll never see the likes of them again.

So make way for the Molly Maguires
They’re drinkers, they’re liars but they’re men
Make way for the Molly Maguires
You’ll never see the likes of them again.

 

GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the ‘Frank Cahill Resource Centre’, one of the founders of ‘Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh’, the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A’Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was ‘And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh’. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

“HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS…?”.

We carried the containers into the canteen as he drove off and I gave him a nod to indicate my thanks for the bounty I was soon to receive. The bunch of scallions was enormous – there was plenty for everyone, and tons for me. My colleagues on the Canteen Staff started dishing out the suppers – we had earlier decided to keep the scallions for Sunday dinner.

Some big mouth in the Cage let the cat out of the bag that we had scallions, and the tobacco tins were flying into Cage 11 from all directions, all carrying the same message : ‘Can we have some scallions?’ They tried every device to get their hands on our windfall but to no avail. Old favours were called in, family ties and threats of physical violence. I personally was offered a huge sirloin steak for a plate of Champ – but you could pick up sirloin almost anywhere, but not so with scallions.

I offered to get some scallions for them the following week but that offer was thrown back in my face : ‘We want Champ and we want it NOW!’ They tried to entice us with cigarettes, tobacco, poteen and places in their tunnels. I know for a fact that if these men had been outside and their mothers had put Champ down in front of them for dinner, they would have said no to it and then wrecked the house. Champ in our area was very much an end of week supper just before the weekend when the housekeeping money was low… (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.


 


 


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