Wednesday, August 21, 2019



On Saturday 31st August 2019, the Bundoran/Ballyshannon H-Block Committee will be holding a rally in Bundoran, Donegal, to commemorate the 38th Anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike and in memory of the 22 Irish Republicans that have died on hunger strike between 1917 and 1981 ; those participating have been asked to form-up at 3pm at the East End.

Hunger Strikers.

By Pádraig Ó Tuama.

And there was banging on the bins that night

and many frightened people woke

and noted down the hour.

The clock of hunger-strikers dead is not ignored with ease

and 'please, God, please keep loved ones safe' was then

repeated round and round and round

like rosaries told upon a bead,

or shoes upon the ground of orange walking.

The five demands, the five-year plan

that saw a blanket round a man,

the dirty protest, Thatcher stance,

that gave a new and startling glance

at just how deep a people’s fury goes.

And God knows each single mother’s son

was sick of hunger,

all those younger faces became stripped and old

eyes shrunk back and foreheads cold & bold

with skin that’s limp and paper thin,

barely separating blood and bone from stone.

And some did say 'enough is now enough'

and others said that 'never, never, never will a martyr die,

he’ll smile upon us long from mural’s wall.'

And others said 'what nation’s this?

we’re abandoned on our own —

all this for clothes to warm some dying bones.'

And some said 'that’s a traitor’s talk'

and others bowed their heads and thought that they

would hate to go that way.

Then Bobby Sands was dead

and there was banging on the bin lids on the Falls

echoed through to Shankill gospel halls.

And there was trouble on the street that night

and black flags started hanging while

people started ganging up,

black flags marking out the borders of belonging

the thin black barricade

that’s been around for thirty years

and stayed a fragile point up till today and cries

of how ten mothers' sons all starved and died

when all they ate was hope and pride.

'Hunger Strikers' ; originally published in 'Sorry for your Troubles' (Canterbury Press, 2013).


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, December 1954.

Grant me a place with the heroes, lord,

Who have gone through strife to Thee,

For Erin's cause, in Erin's name,

To guard or make her free.

I'd take that place, whate'er my lot,

Betwixt the earth and You ;

All pain would be as bliss to me,

Could I, like those, be true.

Grant me a place with the heroes, Lord,

Who fell in Easter fray,

'Mid bayonets flash and firing squad,

At dawn of year and day.

I'd gladly share the battle pangs,

And die as brave Malone ;

Or face the ranks by rising sun,

For hopes of Pearse or Tone.

Grant me a place with the heroes, Lord,

Who kept the flame ablaze,

With august blood, and their sacrifice,

In their strong unbending ways.

I'd cherish death like Treacy's share,

And bless the hand that dealt

the blow, that wrote with Ashe's name,

Mine own, for God and Celt...



Colonel Frederick Hugh Crawford CBE (pictured), was born on the 21st August, 1861, in Belfast - 158 years ago on this date.

The UVF (pictured, in the early 1900's) was a politically-minded organisation when it was first formed, on the 31st January 1913 by the 'Ulster Unionist Council', with support from the 'Ulster Reform Club', but transformed itself into a drug-fuelled mini-mafia in later years. One of the (original) UVF's better-known leadership figures (apart from 'Sir' George Richardson, a retired British Army general) was Colonel Frederick Hugh Crawford CBE, who viewed himself as a breed apart from others who shared the planet with him - "From these settlers sprang a people, the Ulster-Scot, who have made themselves felt in the history of the British Empire and, in no small measure, in that of the United States of America. I am ashamed to call myself an Irishman. Thank God I am not one. I am an Ulsterman, a very different breed.." (from here).

'His official title read Director of Ordnance of the HQ Staff of the UVF...he had first rate Protestant credentials for he had been one of those who signed the Ulster Covenant in his own blood. He had travelled the world, fought for a time in South Africa and returned to throw himself tirelessly into the fight against Home Rule for Ireland...' (from here). Colonel Frederick was born in Belfast on the 21st August 1861, and died in his 92nd year on the 5th November 1952. His father, James, was a factory owner in Belfast (manufacturing starch, which is said to be good for a stiff upper lip..) but Frederick struck out on his own, becoming an engineer with a shipping firm before taking to a military life, which brought him into the Boer War.

On the night of the 24th April, 1914, Frederick Crawford, the 'Director of Ordnance HQ Staff UVF' (who was cooperating re acquiring arms with, and for, the 'Ulster Unionist Council') and the main instigator in an operation in which over 25,000 guns were successfully smuggled into Ireland, witnessed his plans come to fruition - for at least the previous four years, he and some other members of the 'Ulster Reform Club' had been making serious inquiries about obtaining arms and ammunition to be used, as they saw it, for 'the protection of fellow Ulstermen'. Advertisements had been placed in France, Belgium, Germany and Austrian newspapers seeking to purchase '10,000 second-hand rifles and two million rounds of ammunition..' and, indeed, between August 1913 and September 1914, it is known that Crawford and his colleagues in the UVF/URC/UUC obtained at least three million rounds of .303 ammunition and 500 rifles, including Martini Enfield carbines, Lee Metford rifles, Vetterlis and BSA .22 miniature rifles, all accompanied by their respective bayonets, and six Maxim machine guns, from the Vickers Company in London, for £300 each.

The ads were placed and paid for by a 'H. Matthews, Ulster Reform Club' ; Crawford's middle name was Hugh and his mother's maiden name was Matthews, an action which some members of the Ulster Reform Club objected to, leading to Crawford resigning from that group and describing the objectors as "a hindrance" : he described that period in his life as being "so crowded with excitement and incidents that I can only remember some of them, and not always in the order in which they happened..". Crawford and his UVF/URC/UUC colleagues had ordered some munitions from a company in Hamburg, in Germany, and had paid a hefty deposit up front but, months later, as they had not heard from the company, Crawford was sent there to see what the delay was and discovered that the German boss, who was in Austria while Crawford was in Germany, had informed Westminster about the order and was asked by that institution not to proceed with same - the deposit would not be returned and the deal was off, as far as the company was concerned.

Crawford tracked him down, in Austria, and called him and his company swindlers and was then told of a similar 'deal' involving that arms company regarding Mexican purchasers who also got swindled but, on that occasion, words and bullets were exchanged, the latter from gun barrels! At 60 years of age (in 1921) he was named in the British 'Royal Honours List' as a 'CBE' ('Commander of the Order of the British Empire') and he wrote his memoirs in 1934 at 73 years of age. He died, in his 92nd year, in 1952, and is buried in the City Cemetery in the Falls Road in Belfast. The then British PM, 'Sir' Basil Brooke, described him as "..a fearless fighter in the historic fight to keep Ulster British.." but, whatever about his 'successes on the battlefield', he was apparently less successful in his family life -

"What sort of man was my Father? As a boy and as a man he was never very intelligent. He was an unconscious bully and for that reason unloved by his children. Each in turn left the home as soon as we became adults and were able to do so. The U.V.F rifles - I think about 15,000 - were stored and kept in good condition in a shed in the grounds of Harland and Wolff where I once saw them. For legal reasons they were in my father's name. After the retreat from Dunkirk, Britain was desperately short of arms and wanted to purchase the U.V.F rifles. As you are now aware my father was not a very intelligent person and was a hopeless business man. My father's chartered accountant sent word to him to say that Sir Dawson Bates wanted to meet him about something important. Accordingly, my father went to the accountant's office where his old friend Sir Dawson Bates was waiting for him - "Ah Fred, so glad you've come". The three, my Father, the accountant and Sir Dawson Bates sat down at a table.

There Sir Dawson carefully explained the desperate need Britain had for arms and asked my father, for patriotic reasons, to release the rifles – it would only be a simple matter of signing a prepared document. My father, in the presence of the accountant and Sir Dawson Bates, for patriotic reasons, signed the document without reading it. It conveyed ownership of the rifles from my father to Sir Dawson Bates who sold them to the British Government for, I believe, £2 a barrel. But there was something equally disgusting to discover ; during the Second World War because of a failed eye operation my father became blind whereupon I was appointed his Attorney and in that capacity I had to take over his financial affairs. I was horrified that his bank was about to foreclose which would have meant that he would have been declared a bankrupt. An unholy trio had been cheating him for years ; his estate agent who collected all revenues due to my father was keeping most of it, his chartered accountant was presenting false figures for income tax purposes and all this skulduggery was made legal by the co-operation of his trusted friend, his solicitor.." (from here).

Colonel Frederick Crawford CBE proudly worked for, and aided and abetted, British imperialism, only to be used, abused and cheated by that same system. A lesson (which will no doubt continue to go unheeded) to be learned, even at this late stage, by those who, today, work that imperialist system in this country, north and south.

The 'modern day' UVF, meanwhile, are a self-sustaining criminal outfit, using politics as a disguise for their continued existence - 'Loads of youngsters were recruited...but the only thing these kids are good for is blocking the street. They wouldn't know the difference between Edward Carson and Frank Carson..drug dealers and housebreakers have also been recruited. They are given the option of having their arms broken for anti-social behaviour or joining up...nearly everyone joins up. I know of a few fellas who have been out of work and deliberately allowed to run up tabs in UVF pubs. The UVF comes to them at the end of the month and says "pay up lads". When they cannot they are given the option of a beating or signing up...' (from here.)

Colonel Frederick Hugh Crawford CBE was born on this date - 21st August - in 1861, 158 years ago and, although he's gone, the organisation he helped to establish is still with us but, as stated, it does not now operate to a political agenda.


Colm Keena reports on a new survey on low pay and talks to workers caught in the trap.

By Colm Keena.

From 'Magill' Magazine, May 1987.

A job in the civil service has for long been considered something desirable, yet a large number of those jobs too are actually low paid. John Blackwell (UCD) found 11,000 workers working in such grades as of May 1986 - that is, slightly under one-fifth of all workers in the central civil service. The union representing clerical workers in the civil service, the CPSSU, is currently seeking a 10 per cent or £15 increase ; a survey carried out for the 'Postal and Telecommunications Workers Union' last year found that two-fifths of the union's members , formerly direct employees of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, had take-home pay of less than £120 per week.

The survey made detailed enquiries into the workers' household circumstances and found that many had difficulty making ends meet, and that over half could not afford to take holidays. The An Post workers are now looking for 'substantial' increases, involving flat rate increases, percentages and 'floors', methods designed specifically for the low paid. These negotiations are now at a 'delicate stage', according to PTWU General Secretary, David Begg.

The indications are that the number of low paid workers in the economy is on the increase ; since 1979, the total number of people working in Ireland has been falling but the number of women working has actually risen. The main areas showing significant increases in the number of women at work are insurance, finance, professional services, public administration and commerce. The proportion of the total workforce receiving low pay has grown in parallel... (MORE LATER.)


In Ireland, a few years before the Easter Rising of 1916, it would not be far-fetched at all to state that women were 'doubly oppressed' : by 'the State' (a British institution, at the time [now just a pro-British one!] ) and by, in the main, male society, although not all women accepted that that was the way it should be.

A number of social and cultural organisations had been established by women and for women, including the 'Conservative and Unionist Women's Franchise League', the 'Munster Women's Franchise League', the 'North of Ireland Women's Suffrage Committee', the 'Irish Women's Suffrage Society' and the 'Irishwomen's Suffrage and Local Government Association', most of which worked independently of each other.

Two 'troublesome' Irish women, Louie Bennett and Helen Chenevix, thought it would be to the benefit of the overall objective if those separate organisations were to be coordinated into a more effective campaigning body and, on 21st August 1911 - 108 years ago on this date - the 'Irish Women's Suffrage Federation' was formed " link together the scattered suffrage societies in Ireland in the effort to obtain the vote as it is, or may be, granted to men (and) to carry on more propaganda and education work throughout Ireland than has hitherto been form the basis of an association which will continue to exist after enfranchisement, and whose purpose will be to work, through the power of the vote, for the welfare of the country.." .

In that same year, (1911), the 'Munster Women's Franchise League' was formed in Cork and the 'Irishwomen's Reform League' was established in Dublin. It appears that women, then, were not only more aware of the injustices foisted on them by an unequal and oppressive society, but were more prepared than we are now to do something about it. Time for more drastic action, perhaps...


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, January 1955.

Cathal Goulding (Dublin) Stafford Prison, 8 years penal servitude (ps),

Seán Stephenson (London) Wormwood Scrubs Prison, 8 years ps,

Manus Canning (Derry) Wormwood Scrubs, 8 years ps,

Joseph Campbell (Newry) Crumlin Road Jail, 5 years ps,

Leo McCormack (Dublin) Crumlin Road, 4 years ps,

J.P. McCallum (Liverpool) Stafford, 6 years ps,

Kevin O'Rourke (Banbridge) Crumlin Road, 5 years ps,

Eamon Boyce (Dublin) Crumlin Road, 12 years ps,

Philip Clarke (Dublin) Crumlin Road, 10 years ps,

Paddy Kearney (Dublin) Crumlin Road, 10 years ps,

Tom Mitchell (Dublin) Crumlin Road, 10 years ps,

John McCabe (Dublin) Crumlin Road, 10 years ps,

Seán O'Callaghan (Cork) Crumlin Road, 10 years ps,

Seán Hegarty (Cork) Crumlin Road, 10 years ps,

Liam Mulcahy (Cork) Crumlin Road, 10 years ps,

Hugh Brady (Lurgan) Crumlin Road, 3 years ps.

(END of 'In Jail For Ireland' ; Next - 'Students Historic Demonstration', from the same source.)

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019




"Don't put pressure on yourself to create the perfect family staycation..we expect those we know best - our children, partners, siblings, parents - to become completely different people. So we assume that the teenagers are going to get up before noon, and get cross when this is not the case. We think that boys who wear black, talk in grunts and are really into heavy metal, in that 13-year-old's rite-of-passage way, are going to be super-interested in seal trips, or that massively self-conscious teenage girls are going to love taking off most of their clothes in public. Or that children who cannot conceive of a world without screens are going to spend two weeks looking around them interestedly and not down at their phones instead.." - India Knight.

..OR AT LEAST DON'T DO IT THE WAY WE DID : 5 supposed-permanent (supposed-)adult minders/posse (the numbers of which fluctuated wildly, depending on who out of the five of us could get away with it at the time), to be assisted by other parents/grandparents during the two-week 'holiday', with what transpired to be between 13 and 19 youths to supervise/look after (/for), find and/or hide from. It was harder, at times, during the two weeks, to find our 'assistants', which led to a few awkward moments when a couple of the missing assistants bumped into some of the missing kids in the near-by town. Those complicated moments always seemed to happen in one of the local pubs..

It was hectic, to put it mildly, but therein lies the craic (in hindsight, that is) - a large gathering of family, friends, neighbours, children and grandchildren, sharing holiday cabins and tents, some wanting to go out 'on the town' when others are only getting 'home' from there, some others not wanting to go with the main party but expressing a new-found interest in nature, wanting to 'explore the woods' or go fishing/climbing (yeah, right..) and some of the older kids wanting to go into the nearest bigger town to go 'shopping' ; what they were looking for wasn't, we expect, sold over a counter.

The weather was kind to us, for the most part, but we had three days of heavy rain over the two weeks, which wasn't bad and, overall, things worked out for all of us, more or less. Us 'minders' took it in turns, two at a time, to get home to Dublin during the 'break' for a breather for two days, which was a welcome diversion, so much so that, rumour has it (!), some of the 'minder teams' were a bit reluctant to leave the peace and quiet of an empty house to return to the fray but were eventually persuaded to do so...!

Anyway - it's done and dusted now, and we left the holiday homes/cabins/garda station cells in Dublin, Wicklow and Meath in much the same condition as we found them (!) and, indeed, we've probably left the staff numbers of the above-mentioned accommodations in a better shape than when we arrived, as we're still trying to locate some of our party!

We got back to Dublin on Sunday just gone (4th August) which allowed us to chillax a bit, as Monday was a Bank Holiday here in this State, but no rest for those who (try to) look after (/for) the wicked (!) : we were immediately jobbed, as expected, to help with the running of a 650-ticket fund-raiser for the Cabhair organisation, which will be held in a venue on the Dublin/Kildare border on Sunday, 11th August, 2019 and we began doing so yesterday Tuesday, 6th August.

Regular readers will know that the 'autopsy' into how the event went is held, as always, on the evening of the day following the event, in a Dublin city centre venue, meaning that we will not have enough time to put one of our regular posts together for Wednesday, 14th August ; we'll be back here on Wednesday, 21st August next with, among other bits and pieces, a story about a highly respected (by his own type, that is..) British Army officer who assisted in the formation of what turned out to be a criminal gang, but who was then conned by a different criminal gang (...the latter being his own type, as well!) out of a small financial fortune, an episode which gave his own family another reason to publicly belittle him. The poor man..(!)

Thanks for reading, and do please check back with us on the 21st August next, thanks again!


Friday, July 19, 2019



We must be suckers for punishment, 'cause we're doing it again : a few months ago, about 15 of us 'holidayed' in Dublin, Wicklow and Meath - myself and four other young wans were the 'permanent guard' and we were occasionally assisted (!) by the parents of some of the other kids and teenagers that were with us as we near kilt each other in Kilmacanogue, murdered one another in Meath and dumped our sensibilities in Dublin.

And we're doing it all over again this coming Sunday, 21st July 2019, in an 'adventure' that has been two weeks in the making : the same three venues have been booked (the owners of one of which actually said they'd be delighted to have us back, as our party were very pleasant and trouble-free. Obviously confused us with that nice man next door to our cabins, Attila, from Hun, I think he said his name was..). We'll be back in Dublin on Sunday, 4th August (all, most or some of us!) and, providing the '1169' Crew are still on talking terms with one another, we hope to announce our return on Wednesday, 7th August. Although we could very well have something announced about us before then. On the Six O'clock News, maybe...!

Thanks for reading - see ya on the 7th, Sharon.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019



Kevin Christopher O'Higgins (Caoimhghín Críostóir Ó hUigín, pictured) was 23 years young when he joined the Republican Movement in 1915, and proved himself to be a trusted operative and, unfortunately, also proved the truth in the maxim 'put not your trust in princes' ; he supported the 'Treaty of Surrender' in 1921 to the extent that he managed to keep a straight face when he declared, in relation to his support for that treaty - "I have not abandoned any political aspirations to which I have given expression in the past, but in the existing circumstances I advise the people to trust to evolution rather than revolution for their attainment..". But, as expected from such a shabby and false institution as the Free State institution was then, and still is, it was (and is) 'evolution of the self' that O'Higgins and his Free State colleagues were interested in.

When war commenced between Irish republicans and Free Staters in June, 1922, O'Higgins was one of those who signed the paperwork 'authorising' the death sentences on 77 republican POW's (including Rory O'Connor, who had been best man at his wedding) ; O'Higgins and his Leinster House colleagues now considered those they had fought with, against the British, as 'criminals' and were determined to do whatever it took to secure the Free State, as instructed by Westminster. His father was then shot dead by the IRA, and the family home in Stradbally, in County Laois, was burned to the ground.

There was turmoil in the country, North and South, militarily and politically resulting, in 1927, in Free State soldiers been given ever more of a free reign to impose the wishes of their paymasters in Leinster House, with the passing of the gloriously misnamed 'Public Safety Act'. In July 1927 a general election was called in the Free State and Fianna Fail won 44 seats to Cosgrave's 47 : de Valera's policy was not to enter the Free State parliament until the Oath of Allegiance to the British monarch was removed but, in that same month, Kevin O' Higgins was assassinated - on the 10th of July, 1927, 92 years ago on this date - and the Free State government passed a law which would force future Leinster House candidates to swear on their nomination that they would take the 'Oath of Allegiance'. In August 1927, de Valera led the Fianna Fail elected representatives, many of them with revolvers in their pockets, into Leinster House and signed the 'Oath of Allegiance' document. A second general election was held in September 1927 and Fianna Fail increased its vote, winning 57 seats.

The 'Public Safety Act', passed in the Free State assembly by 41 votes to 18 on the 27th of September, 1927, allowed for the State to execute those captured bearing arms against it and permitting State agents 'to punish anyone aiding and abetting attacks on the National (sic) Forces', and/or anyone having possession of arms or explosives 'without the proper authority (or anyone) disobeying an Army General Order'. 'Section 5' of the Act declared that '..every person who is a member of an unlawful association at any time after it has become by virtue of this Act an unlawful association shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and shall be liable on conviction thereof to suffer penal servitude for any term not less than three years and not exceeding five years or imprisonment with or without hard labour for any term not exceeding two years..'.

'Section 28' stated that '..any person found guilty by a special court of the offence under the Firearms Act, 1925 (No. 17 of 1925) of having possession of or using or carrying a firearm without holding a firearm certificate therefor, shall if the offence was committed while this Part of this Act is in force be liable to suffer death or penal servitude for life, or any term of years not less than three years, or to imprisonment with or without hard labour for any term not exceeding two years, and shall be sentenced by such court accordingly..' That 'Act' was a politically and morally corrupt piece of legislation and was enacted by a then, and now, politically and morally corrupt political assembly.

Anyway - Kevin O'Higgins, who once described himself as "..the most conservative-minded revolutionary that ever put through a successful (sic) revolution.." was shot by the IRA on his way to Mass at the Church of the Assumption in Booterstown, Co Dublin, and died in his house about five hours later. The Free State 'intelligence service' was almost certain that he had been shot by Mick Price, the then Director of Intelligence for the IRA. Or Seán Russell. Or Ernie O'Malley, Seán McBride, Éamon de Valera or Frank Aiken but it was revealed, over half-a-century later that, at the same time as O'Higgins was on his way to Mass on that day, three IRA men - Bill Gannon, Archie Doyle and Tim Coughlan - were on their way to a football match when they crossed paths with O'Higgins and took the opportunity to shoot him. This republican militant-turned-Free-Stater who, in his latter years, dismissed the 'Democratic Programme of the First Dáil' (pictured) as consisting of "mostly poetry" - despite having taking up arms and fighting for the implementation of same - was shot dead by the IRA on Sunday, 10th July, 1927 - 92 years ago on this date.


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, December 1954.

'LEARN FROM OUR ENEMIES' : A member of the 26-county naval unit which has been taking instruction at an English naval base was heard to say - "We'll get the best training in sea warfare." A new twist to John Mitchell's injunction : "Let us learn from our enemies!"

'PHYSICAL FARCE MOVEMENT' : Free State Senator Liam Kelly is the latest 'innocent abroad' to be mesmerised by the Leinster House circus ; at a University College Dublin 'Gaelic Society' debate on November 17th last, he committed the extraordinary blunder of advocating physical force to free Ireland and then condemning the IRA! His reason? Sinn Féin and the IRA will not recognise a twenty-six-county 'government' and constitution and so is, the Senator says, "doomed to failure."

In the same speech, the Senator (so far from the steadying influence of his Pomeroy mountains) admits the twenty-six-county 'government', which gives him £400-odd a year, has abandoned the Occupied Six Counties. Perhaps Senator Kelly thinks the Leinster House betrayal of his own people no reason for not supporting British-approved Leinster House puppet rule? And much as I admire the courage of patriotic-minded individuals, sticks versus stens and stones versus batons is not my idea of a physical force movement to free Ireland. It seems more like a physical farce movement - an army which has been used to prevent warfare against the traditional enemy, an army which has its equipment in the enemy's bases and in the enemy's barracks ; this is no make-believe army, it is the Free State army!

It is an army which has its equipment bought from the enemy, which honours enemy generals and which Leinster House leaders have committed never to fight the age-old enemy, England. Yet General MacEoin said recently that this is the old enemy that twenty-six-county youths and men should join ; an army that knows it is not allowed to fight Ireland's only enemy!

(END of 'LEARN FROM OUR ENEMIES' and 'PHYSICAL FARCE MOVEMENT'; next - 'A Place With The Heroes', by Tomas De Staic, from the same source.)


Tomás Óg MacCurtain (pictured), a known member of the IRA Executive at the time, and as staunch a republican as his father was, was walking on St. Patrick Street, in Cork city centre, on the 3rd January 1940, when he was jumped-on by a Free State Special Branch detective, John Roche, from Union Quay Barracks ; Roche had apparently made it his mission-in-life to disrupt republicanism, and was known to have been harassing Tomás Óg for the previous few weeks.

A scuffle between the two men ensued and a gun was fired - the Free Stater fell to the ground, wounded, and he died the next day. On the 13th June 1940, the Free State 'Special Criminal Court' sentenced Tomás Óg MacCurtain to death - sentence to be carried out on the 5th July 1940. 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 MacCurtain 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 10th July 1940 - 79 years ago on this date - the Free Staters issued a statement -

'The President, acting on the advice of the government, has commuted the sentence of death on Tomas MacCurtain to penal servitude for life.' Tomás Óg served seven years in prison, and reported back to the IRA when he got out. It has since been alleged that a sister of Cathal Brugha's widow, who was then the Reverend Mother of an Armagh Convent, had intervened on behalf of Tomás Óg to get his death sentence overturned and this, if indeed it did happen, and the fact that his father had actually shouldered a gun alongside many members of the then Fianna Fail administration (before they went Free State, obviously), saved his life. He died in 1994, at 79 years of age.


Colm Keena reports on a new survey on low pay and talks to workers caught in the trap.

By Colm Keena.

From 'Magill' Magazine, May 1987.

John Blackwell points out that Ireland (sic) has a particularly unequal distribution of earnings, compared to other countries. A ranking of 11 western countries, from most to least equal, puts Sweden and Norway at the top, and Ireland at the very bottom, below the United States and Italy.

Whereas most countries show considerable stability in earnings distribution over time, Ireland has undergone some changes in this area in the last two decades - the ratio of lowest decile to average earnings has gone from 62.1 per cent to 55.4 per cent between 1960 and 1979. Data for later years is not available. The flat rate increases included in some 'National Wage Agreements' of the 1970's have apparently not closed the gap, and between 1977 and 1985, Blackwell notes, the marginal tax rate for a married couple 'in low pay' went from 24.4 per cent to 43.5 per cent.

The report shows that low pay is 'crowded' into some particular sectors of the economy, and that it is also identified with certain age groups and with females more than males. The industrial sectors most affected are textiles, clothing, leather and footwear, all industries with high proportions of women workers - in fact, the only areas of industry with a majority of women workers. The other sectors distinguishing themselves by low pay are wholesale and retail distribution, parts of the public sector, professional services (ie secretarial work) and insurance and banking... (MORE LATER.)


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, January 1955.

'On the flagstone by the fireside,

he struck his ferruled cane,

as if he raised his shining sword

to smite his foe again.

While his heart was throbbing madly,

and afire with every thrill,

was the blood that he'd have gladly shed,

for Ireland, on the Hill.

Alas! He thought, those days are gone,

and Ireland's yet unfree,

the Saxon rag floats in the breeze,

around about Lough Neagh.

But praise to God we've soldiers yet,

brave lads are with us still,

prepared to fight and bravely die,

for Ireland, on the Hill.

(END of 'FOR IRELAND, ON THE HILL' : Next - 'In Jail For Ireland', from the same source.)



And it will be, for us, over the next week or so - this Sunday coming (the 14th July) will find the '1169' crew and the raffle team in our usual monthly venue on the Dublin/Kildare border, running a 650-ticket raffle for the Dublin Executive of Sinn Féin Poblachtach ; the work for this event began yesterday, Tuesday 9th July, when the five of us started to track down the ticket sellers and arrange for the delivery/collection of their ticket stubs and cash and, even though the raffle itself is, as stated, to be held on Sunday 14th July, the 'job' is not complete until the following night, when the usual 'raffle autopsy' is held. The time constraints imposed by same will mean that our normal Wednesday post will more than likely not be collated in time for next week (17th July) and it's looking like it will be between that date and the Wednesday following same before we get the time to put a post together.

Or maybe not - but check back here anyway : sure you never know what might catch our fancy between this and then - probably a short post re a(nother) 'staycation' which we might be going on, later this month.


Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019



'Bridget Dowling (pictured) was born in Dublin on this day in 1891. She is noteworthy in history because she married the brother of Adolf Hitler. Alois Hitler met Bridget when she was 19 and impressed her by telling her he was a wealthy hotel owner. In fact he was working as a waiter in Dublin, but still managed to win Bridget’s heart. Bridget’s father was against the relationship because Alois had no prospects. In 1910, the young couple ran off to London and got married. Bridget’s father threatened to charge Alois with kidnapping, but finally backed down after Bridget pleaded with him to accept her new husband. The newlyweds settled in Toxteth, Liverpool and had a baby boy, William Patrick Hitler. In 1914, Alois went to Germany to try and become a successful businessman. Bridget refused to travel with him as by now he had become violent towards her and she feared for the safety of her son.

Alois' business plans were immediately disrupted by the outbreak of World War One. He decided to abandon his young family back in England and stay in Germany. Alois married again and was found guilty of bigamy. He was let off when Bridget intervened and the two were divorced. Bridget moved to London and raised her son on her own. She opened her house up to lodgers to make enough money to survive. By the early 1940s, William Hitler was a grown man in his early thirties. He had not seen his father since he was a toddler. However, he saw the potential of cashing in on his surname.

His uncle, Adolf Hitler, was becoming one of the world’s leading figures having become the leading politician in Germany. William and his mother moved to America, where William worked as a public speaker and lecturer on his famous uncle. However, Hitler’s Nazi Germany then started the Second World War, and millions of men were killed at their hands. Bridget and William were now ashamed of their family name and changed it to Stuart-Houston. The mother and son lived out the rest of their lives in America.

Bridget once claimed that Adolf Hitler had lived with her and her husband in Liverpool for a short time in 1912-13. She wrote a book, 'My Brother-in-Law Adolf' that described her relationship with her husband and brother-in-law. Bridget claimed she was the one who advised Hitler to trim the edges of his moustache off, giving him the iconic look we are all familiar with. However, expert historians have rubbished Bridget’s claims that Hitler had ever stayed in England. There is apparent evidence that he was in Vienna at the time Bridget claims he was staying with her and his brother in Liverpool. They accuse Bridget of making the whole story up, in order to sell copies of her book and cash in on her infamous relative.'

A local newspaper here in this part of Dublin ('The Echo' newspaper) published an article, by Donal Bergin, in November, 1999, in relation to Mrs Hitler (!) -

'Adolf Hitler, the monster who tried to wipe out an entire race of people off the face of the earth, had a sister-in-law who was born in Tallaght. Bridget Elizabeth Dowling..married Hitler’s half-brother Alois (pictured) in London in 1910. He was a waiter and she was a cook in a Dublin hotel where she met him at a staff dance. Though an unfortunate accident of marriage, the convent girl became the sister-in-law of the man who would become Nazi Fuehrer of Germany and later bring the world to its knees.

When she was 17, the young cook eloped to London with Alois who was twice jailed for theft. "Nowadays it is a bit embarrassing to be Mrs Hitler, but the people who know me don’t mind," Bridget Hitler, who was born in Kilnamanagh, once said. The devout Catholic later said: "It seems funny for an obscure little Irish girl like I was to get mixed up in all these International affairs. I was plain Bridget Dowling of Dublin when I met Alois who was a waiter. I was 17 and had just left a convent, and it was very romantic. When I went to the hotel staff dance I met him," she said, long before she claimed to have met the "handsome stranger" at the Dublin Horse Show.

Adolf and Alois shared the same father but had different mothers. Disliked by Adolf, historians state Alois was a hapless good-for-nothing. Bridget claimed he was a waiter in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, but it is claimed he worked in the old Royal Hibernian Hotel on Dawson Street. "He fairly won my heart with his sugary talk and foreign ways. My father – rest his soul – was a real Irishman. He would not hear or tell of a wedding to a foreigner. Alois and I used to meet every afternoon in the museum and plan to elope," she said in a prewar interview with the Daily Express in London. Mrs Hitler revealed : "Four months later when Alois had saved enough money, we went to England on the night boat and came to London. I wrote to my mother and said I would not return until we got permission to marry. She talked my father around and he gave us his consent."

Bridget Elizabeth Dowling married Alois Hitler in Marleybone registry office, London on June 3rd, 1910. She was aged 18 and he was 27. After the wedding, Bridget recalled she "..took him straight back to Dublin to meet the family, and then we went to Liverpool". She continued : "He got a job in a restaurant as a waiter and then became an agent for a razor firm. Willie, our only child, was born in March 1911. My husband used to talk about his family. He told me of his younger brother, Adolf, who was a dreamy sort of lad and was studying architecture when we were married."

But Alois left her early in 1914 and returned to the continent. Her parents moved to Liverpool around that time, where her father died - "I was in a very poor way when he went to the war (and left me) with three-year-old Willie on my hands. My mother and I did the best we could," she recalled. In the 1930s, her son, William Patrick (pictured), became a car salesman in Nazi Germany after mother and son allegedly tried to blackmail Adolf over his brother's bigamy. After Alois deserted Bridget and their three-year-old son, he bigamously remarried. He escaped jail because Bridget agreed to separation. William Patrick later said his mother felt "very bitter" about many things. He was "sent" to Liverpool to live with his Irish grandparents after Alois left.

While she was born and lived in Tallaght, it is believed Mrs Bridget Hitler-to-be also lived in Clondalkin where her mother's family lived. William Dowling, a farm labourer from Kilnamanagh, was her father, and her mother was Bridget Reynolds Jnr from Ballymount and, earlier, Kilnamanagh. Mrs Hitler's parents were conservative Catholics, she has written, while her brother, Thomas J Dowling served in the RAF from 1923 to 1926. Bridget’s marriage to Hitler’s brother was unspoken of in the area. "That was hidden. The next generation weren’t told much about it," said a source. 'The Echo' has also found that her family probably lived for a few years in a cottage in Cookstown townland, the ruins of which still stand today. The cottage was leased to a man that this reporter believes to have been her father, by Andrew Cullen Tynan, the father of the famous poet Katharine Tynan. Interestingly, the only Irish person who is named in Bridget Hitler’s distrusted memoirs is a 'Mr Tyna', who was described as a neighbour. Bridget claimed in 1941 that hanging would have been too good for her brother-in-law, Adolf, but the French had claimed she was in the payroll of the Nazi’s.

According to a 1938 article unearthed by Patrick Maguire, a Dublin historian, a Paris paper claimed the 'cook' received 300 marks a month from the Nazi's ; It claimed nobody wanted a cook who was Hitler's sister-in-law. She had come a long way since being swept off her feet by the handsome foreigner. Obviously short of cash, Mrs Hitler made news after she appeared before a London Police court in January 1939 for failing to pay over £9 in rates. The court accepted her offer to pay within six weeks. She said she was expecting money from Germany, but did not say from whom. The money never appeared - "So there was nothing for it but to take the devil by his tail up the hill and go to court," Mrs Hitler said. A resident since the early 30's of Priory Gardens, Highgate, London, she then said she took in boarders while her son worked in a Berlin brewery. Six months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe, Mrs Hitler and her son went to America where the authorities quizzed them. She went to work for the British War Relief Society opposite Tiffany’s jewellers on Fifth Avenue in New York in 1941 where she "proudly" wore an 'Aid Britain' brooch.

Bridget's memoirs were discovered, unfinished and halfway through a sentence, in the manuscript division of the New York Public Library in the 1970's. They include a claim that Adolf Hitler stayed in Liverpool in 1912 and 1913. Last year, her daughter-in-law said the memoir "was all made up". Mrs Hitler's mother could not write when Bridget Elizabeth Dowling was born and she also called herself Eliza and marked her 'X' on the birth cert. Why she called herself Eliza is a mystery, but there were many other Bridget Dowling namesakes in the nearby districts when she gave birth. Mrs Hitler was the only Bridget Dowling registered born in 1891 whose father's name was William, and her birth cert date matches her gravestone date. Thirty years after her death, Professor of History at the University of South Carolina, Arthur Mitchell, is anxious to hear from any surviving relatives. He said he is co-writing a book on Hitler, and believes relatives may have old personal letters from Mrs Hitler which may be of historical value - "I have no mention of embarrassing the Dowling..I imagine some relatives might tell you to go to hell with that," Professor Mitchell said. And he added: "If she did have any relatives it wouldn't be unusual if she wrote to letters saying 'I was in Germany and met Adolf Hitler’.

Bridget Elizabeth Dowling - Mrs Hitler - was born on this date , 3rd July, 128 years ago (1891). She died on the 18th November, 1969, aged 78, in Long Island, New York. Incidentally, her son, William Patrick, died suddenly in 1987, at 76 years of age. He is buried alongside his mother, but their graves give no clue to their close connection to one of the most evil men of the 20th century.


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, December 1954.

Who Rules in Ireland? - The resident magistrate at the Civil Court where the men who were charged with attacking the British military barracks in Omagh are being 'tried', cleared the court of the public and pressmen on several occasions "at the behest of the British War Office, the 'Irish Press' newspaper reported. The 'Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary' definition of the word 'behest' is "command, charge".

Incidentally, why didn't the British-controlled 'National Union of Journalists' protest against the glaringly obvious implication in the magistrate's statement that pressmen were to be removed "in the interests of security"? Can't John Bull trust even his 'Paper Wall' now?

A Courtesy Call - Mr Cosgrave, the 26-County 'Minister for External Affairs', recently paid what newspapers call 'a courtesy call' on England's Premier Churchill ; the Omagh Raid was mentioned, said British reporters - nobody actually said it, but the nicely-rounded impression was left that a reprimanded Cosgrave Junior apologised for such independent spirit in Irishmen.

Guests of the Nation - The jest of the nation at the moment is Mr Ernest Blythe's contention that John Bull's troops are guests of the nation! Mind you, Mr Blythe always was a pretty joker - he had a leading role in 'Free State Follies', the show that, according to newspapers, "displayed an excellent sense of execution.." Yes, indeed. 77 times.

(END of 'Who Rules In Ireland', 'A Courtesy Call' and 'Guests of the Nation' ; Next - 'LEARN FROM OUR ENEMIES' and 'PHYSICAL FARCE MOVEMENT', from the same source.)


Colm Keena reports on a new survey on low pay and talks to workers caught in the trap.

By Colm Keena.

From 'Magill' Magazine, May 1987.

In a recent recommendation concerning plastic workers in Longford, however, the Labour Court used the comparison with other employments as a basis for proposing a higher increase to low-paid workers than the company said it could afford or than had emerged from earlier conciliation by the Labour Court.

The 43 workers at the German-owned company, Fondermanns, were being paid £96.22 and were claiming an increase of £14 ; the union claimed the industry rate was £136. The company offered a total of £6.95 in three stages over a year but, at conciliation, it was proposed that the total three-phase increase should be £9. The Labour Court added a further £2 to the final phase, also extending the term of the proposed agreement by three months.

A forthcoming report from the 'Irish Congress of Trade Unions' (ICTU) on low pay in Ireland, carried out by John Blackwell, of UCD, is the first such study and, on the basis of data which he himself considers inadequate, Blackwell concludes that some 73,000 workers earn what he defines as "low pay". He uses a number of methods to define what constitutes 'low pay', for example - the equivalent of the 'Supplementary Welfare Allowance', half of the average male industrial wage, two-thirds of the average male industrial wage, the bottom ten-per-cent of the earnings distribution and/or the lowest 'decile'. It is this latter definition which he uses most frequently and, at mid-1985 prices, this gives an income of £114 per week... (MORE LATER.)


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, January 1955.

'The old man sat beside the fire, and eyed the rising flames,

his mind on nigh forgotten things, recalled familiar names.

Their faces flashed before him,

there were Seánie, Mick, and Bill,

and all who fought so bravely,

for Ireland, on the hill.

The nights they spent together,

beneath the starry skies,

or marching o'er the heather,

with wild hope in their eyes.

He saw them all before him,

the training and the drill,

and battles were re-fought again,

for Ireland, on the hill...

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019



On the 26th June, 1922, Leo Henderson and a group of 'Irregulars/Dissidents' left the then republican-occupied Four Courts (which had been taken over on the 14th of April by anti-treaty forces) '..and arrived at Ferguson's garage on Dublin's Baggot Street, accusing them of doing business with Belfast ; this was, they said, in violation of the boycott the IRA had placed on the city due to violence against nationalists there. Leo Henderson, their leader, seized a number of cars at gunpoint, and was on the point of driving back to the anti-Treaty stronghold of the Four Courts when he was arrested by pro-Treaty/Free State troops. Henderson's comrades in the Four Courts in response arrested a pro-Treaty General, JJ O’Connell (pictured) and, within 24 hours, Free State artillery was battering at the walls of the Four Courts in central Dublin. The first shots of the Irish Civil War were caused by a row over selling cars to Belfast...' (from here.)

Not altogether the full story, although the 'bones' of what actually happened are there. Harry Ferguson's garage was a well-known Belfast automobile company, with a branch on Baggot Street, in Dublin. It was known to be unsympathetic to the 'Irregulars' and had blatantly ignored an overall directive from the IRA that for-profit business dealings with Belfast should cease until business bosses in that city took steps to ensure the safety of their nationalist workforce. Leo Henderson and his men commandeered about 15 cars which had been sent, for sale, to Dublin from Belfast - the IRA's intention, as well as to be seen enforcing the 'Belfast Trade Boycott', was to use the vehicles, as part of the war effort, against the continuing British political and military presence in the Six Occupied Counties and in their campaign to overthrow the then-fledging Free State political administration.

Leo Henderson was captured by the Staters, with ex-IRA man Frank Thornton in command of them and, when the IRA leadership heard that Henderson had been 'arrested', they discussed abducting Collins himself or Richard Mulcahy in retaliation, but decided instead to seize Free State General Jeremiah Joseph (JJ) 'Ginger' O'Connell, who was Richard Mulcahy's Deputy Chief-of-Staff. At 11.15pm on the night of Tuesday, 27th June, 1922, 'Ginger' was arrested in Dublin by the IRA after an evening out with his girlfriend - the couple had gone to the theatre and, after the girlfriend was dropped home, 'Ginger' went to McGilligan's Pub in Leeson Street for a few pints. As he left the pub, the IRA seized him and held him in the republican-occupied Four Courts ; Ernie O'Malley actually telephoned Free State General Eoin O'Duffy, who was in Portobello Barracks, and told him that 'Ginger' will be returned to the Staters in exchange for Leo Henderson.

The republicans knew that 'Ginger' was valued by Collins and his renegades - he was one of the few that eagerly conveyed the 'cancel-the-Rising'-order from Eoin MacNeill in 1916 and both Collins and Mulcahy regarded him as a safe pair of hands. Collins's political and military bosses in London were notified about 'JJ Ginger' being held in republican custody and made it clear to Collins that if he and his Free State colleagues didn't take steps to remove the republicans from the Four Courts, they would - the Staters had already decided to attack their former comrades in the Four Courts and had already accepted the offer from Westminster of equipment with which to carry-out the task ; British artillery, aircraft, armoured cars, machine guns, small arms and ammunition were by then in the possession of Collins and his team, who then used the 'JJ kidnap'-incident to press ahead with the assault.

At 3.40am, on Wednesday, 28th June 1922, the republican forces inside the Four Courts were given an ultimatum by Collins - '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 (pictured), an act which was recently described as "..a major national assault on the collective memory of the nation..such actions are considered as war crimes..a cultural atrocity.." 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.

'JJ Ginger' was rescued by his Stater colleagues on Friday, 30th June 1922 when they finally managed to enter the then shell of a building where the Four Courts once stood and, within months, was demoted from a Lieutenant-General to a Major-General and then to a Colonel, a position he was to remain at. He got married in 1922 and, between 1924 and 1944 (he died in the Richmond Hospital in Dublin from a heart attack on the 19th February of that year), he was shifted around like a pawn on a chess board : chief lecturer in the FS Army school of instruction, director of Number 2 (intelligence) bureau, OC equitation school, quartermaster-general and director of the military archives. We wonder did he consider himself to be the man who started a Civil War...?


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, December 1954.

ONE DANCE - a new idea has been introduced in Glasgow by the Sinn Féin movement to assist Irish dancers ; the promoters call it the 'One Dance' competition, and it is a weekly event which was instituted for the benefit of the many young Irish traditional dancers in the city. The organiser is Mr Patrick White. This 'One Dance' competition is confined to a particular age group each week and is adjudicated by a leading dance teacher.

A GENEROUS GESTURE - The delegates to the Annual Congress of 'The National Cycling Association of Ireland' (NCAI) held in Dublin on the 28th November 1954 subscribed £20. 8 shillings towards the 'National Sports Appeal' for the Republican Aid Committee.

PRISONER ELECTED VICE-PRESIDENT OF NCAI - Philip Clarke, one of the men arrested after the Omagh Raid, was elected Vice-President of the NCAI, at the annual Congress held on the 28th November 1954. President Jim Killean said - "We are proud that one of our members is in jail for doing his bit for Ireland." Clarke, a 21-year-old arts student at UCD, is one of the most outstanding racing cyclists in the country.

ART FOR ? SAKE - Not a penny of the £400,000 awarded to the Six Counties after partition had been spent on pictures, said Mr H D Hyde, a unionist MP, during a debate on the 'National Gallery and Tate Gallery Bill', in the House of Commons last month. The money had been needed for constabulary barracks, prisons etc.

(END of 'One Dance', 'A Generous Gesture', 'Prisoner Elected Vice-President Of NCAI' and 'Art for ? Sake' ; Next - 'Who Rules In Ireland', 'A Courtesy Call' and 'Guests Of The Nation', from the same source.)


'Two brothers who were falsely imprisoned as teenagers for the Guildford pub bombings have spoken of the experience 40 years on. Patrick and Vincent Maguire were part of the 'Maguire Seven' group who were - together with the Guildford Four - wrongly convicted for the 1974 bombings ; "I remember the day I came home from school. It was a Thursday.. youth club night... a normal day," Patrick - who was 13 at the time of his arrest - told RTE Radio 1's Sunday with Miriam this morning.

"We [himself and his brother John] were eager to get and go there... [Afterwards] we saw a lot of police and unmarked car outside our home. I ran up to the house, knocked on the door. The door opened... I said 'I live here' and I was dragged inside. They said, 'here's another one'. That was the day my childhood ended," he said. The 'Maguire Seven', who were convicted of handling explosives allegedly passed to the IRA to make bombs, were made up of Anne and Patrick Maguire, Anne's brother Sean, Anne's brother-in-law Patrick Conlon, family friend Patrick O'Neill, and Anne's two sons Patrick and Vincent...' (from here.)

'On the day after the 'Guildford Four' had walked out of the Old Bailey, the British Government had appointed Sir John May to lead a public inquiry into the convictions of the eleven people charged with the Guildford and Woolwich pub bombings.

Sir John bared his teeth in July 1990 when he forwarded to the government his 'Interim Report on the Maguire Case' ; in this report he criticised the trial judge Sir John Donaldson's handling of the 'Maguire Seven' case and questioned the credibility of the forensic evidence that had been presented to the court. What is more, he recommended that the 'Maguire Seven' case should go back to the court of appeal. When this occurred, the court of appeal quashed the convictions of the 'Maguire Seven', on the 26th June, 1991...' (from here.)

Could never happen again, could it - innocent people imprisoned to satisfy the requirements of an unjust political regime...?


Colm Keena reports on a new survey on low pay and talks to workers caught in the trap.

By Colm Keena.

From 'Magill' Magazine, May 1987.

Martina lives with her family ; her parents are unemployed, and she gives a large amount of her wage to her mother, to be put towards the family budget. Edel lives with her sister, who is single and has a child ; "She doesn't get much, so I give a good bit to her."

Both say their union, the ITGWU, had to agree on wages and conditions with the company, before it finally set up its factory in Coolock, Dublin. They are unhappy with their pay, their conditions and their union, but they say there is little they can do. Most workers, they say, want to bring in another union, but are "not allowed". Michael Wall, of the ITGWU, says that the union did enter into an agreement on pay and conditions prior to the company's opening here, but denies that the workers at the Shamrock factory have ever tried to introduce a different union to the plant. He also says there is an agreed procedure for the dismissal of a worker, involving a series of four warnings.

Yvonne is also in her late teens, and working in the clothing industry. A seamstress with two years experience, she earns a little over £91 per week, with Orrwear, of Hill Street, in central Dublin. After deductions, she has about £70 to share between herself and her family. She has little prospect of promotion and little hope of any significant increase in her income. The Labour Court recently recommended against a claimed £10 per week increase for workers in the firm because it might affect others in the industry...



From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, January 1955.

John Redmond had said after 1916 that the Rising really made no difference and that "..the constitutional movement must go on..". The wits got busy and a fine ballad to the air of 'The Horse Shoe' came out. It poked fun at the Party habit of settling everything by deputations or by speeches across the floor of the British house. Here is part of this song -

'De Valera in a burst of indignation,

Says our methods tried and true are nearly done,

But we'll soon convince him by a deputation,

That the Constitutional Movement must go on.

"Then gather the Party round", says Sinn Féin, scorning,

"And let your speeches roll across the Floor,

For the Constitutional Movement now take warning,

Must go on and on and on for ever more..!"

In 1955, the Constitutional Movement still goes on but, alas, De Valera himself is one of its main leaders.

(END of 'The Old Story'. Next - 'For Ireland, On The Hill', from the same source.)
Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019



It says a lot about the state-of-play in this corrupt State when a journalist that does his/her job stands out from among a crowded workplace for simply doing their job ie informing the public of how the lie of the land is rather than putting an establishment-favoured spin on the truth, which is what most of her colleagues still do, as they are political activists masquerading as 'journalists'.

Although we here in '1169 Towers' had our differences with Mary Holland (pictured) in relation to her pro-abortion outlook (she had endured such a procedure herself), we couldn't fault her for the way in which she highlighted the effects of the unwanted (and on-going) British military and political presence in the North-East of this country.

Mary was born in Dover, in Kent, England, on the 19th June, 1935 - 84 years ago on this date - but was practically raised in Ireland, and was said to be an inquisitive child who not only asked 'why?', but 'why not?'. As a young adult, she worked for a while for 'Vogue' magazine, reporting on fashion trends, which brought her to the attention of 'The Observer' newspaper, which employed her (in 1964) and where her observations on the political situation in Ireland were published. Her Irish articles were considered to be 'hard hitting' by the political establishment in London, as she tended to stray from the 'British peacekeepers in Ireland'-type of printed commentary, which was prevalent among British and Irish journalists (/political activists) at the time (and, to a large extent, still is today).

In 1977, Conor Cruise O'Brien (pictured) was appointed editor-in-chief of 'The Observer' newspaper and his new position afforded him the opportunity to extend his anti-republican/pro-British political beliefs and to further integrate himself with those in Westminster that he admired - he sent a memo to Mary Holland stating " is a very serious weakness of your coverage of Irish affairs that you are a very poor judge of Irish Catholics..that gifted and talkative community includes some of the most expert conmen and conwomen in the world and I believe you have been conned.."

The writing was on the wall, Mary knew it and, true enough, she was sacked by O'Brien in 1979 : O'Brien claimed he was "personally ashamed" by the (truthful/accurate) articles that she was writing and he referenced one in particular - a piece in which she highlighted the issues and problems faced by women in the Six Counties when visiting loved ones in Long Kesh prison. But Mary wasn't out of work for long - she was almost immediately appointed as the Irish Editor of 'The New Statesman' magazine and assisted Vincent Browne in establishing 'Magill' magazine, was a columnist for 'The Irish Times' and returned to 'The Observer' newspaper after O'Brien left in 1981.

The following piece was written by Nell McCafferty and published in 'Magill' magazine in July, 1983 :

'In the North of Ireland, a dossier of irrefutable information was being painstakingly compiled by the 'Campaign for Social Justice', fore-runner of the Civil Rights Movement : it was just a matter of presenting it to the Wilson government in Westminster and getting them to move on it. But the British government did not want to know the facts - in 1967, a party of Stormont Nationalist MP's were received in Westminster by Roy Jenkins, then Chancellor of the British Exchequer. After they had presented their case and left, a horrified aide said to Roy Jenkins "something will have to be done." Jenkins replied that nothing would be done because any Englishman who set foot in Northern Ireland (sic) affairs would be setting a foot in his political grave.

Mary Holland, a journalist in 'The Observer ' newspaper at that time, heard the story from the aide after she had been persuaded by Gerry Fitt to break the 'paper wall' on the North that existed in the British media at the time ('1169' comment - hard to believe that a Conor-Cruise-O'Brien-wannabe like Fitt would be worried about something like that!). In the summer of 1968 she had been writing a series of articles entitled 'Them And Us', in which she detailed cases of discrimination against individuals : "A lot of it had to do with the difficulties experienced by black people, whose problems in England were then attracting a lot of attention. I got a phone call from Gerry Fitt, saying Catholics were undergoing the same discrimination in Northern Ireland (sic). It's a measure of our ignorance in England at that time that I asked him if he was sure he could prove his case. I'd had a lot of difficulty establishing actual discrimination against black people, given the subtleties of bureaucracy, and I was about to drop the series and accept promotion to a position as 'Arts Columnist' on the Observer."

Gerry Fitt was insistent and she agreed to meet him for lunch ; "I named a restaurant in Soho - Wheeler's - and then there was something about his accent and his way of talking that made me add by way of caution 'it's very fashionable and it only serves fish dinners.' "Ah Jaysus, Mary," he said, "I want a real dinner. We'll go to the Irish Club and eat meat." When she arrived there, Gerry Fitt ordered drinks and opened a suitcase of documents and cuttings from the Irish News newspaper, gospel of Belfast Catholics, and The Skibbereen Eagle newspaper, of everything Unionists had ever done anywhere in the North against the Nationalist population. He held her spellbound for several hours : "I couldn't believe it" she says, of the things she heard that afternoon. Fitt cajoled and charmed and bullied and lured her across the Irish Sea. Three days later, on Tuesday October 1st, 1968, the reluctant would-be arts columnist found herself in the Fitt home on the Antrim Road - "It was a complete culture shock. I sat in the room he uses as a clinic on the ground floor - the basement underneath was the kitchen where his family spent their time. He had a wife and five daughters. Everytime he wanted a cup of tea he'd stamp three times on the floor, and up from the basement beneath would come a woman with a tray. I sat there and listened to him and the stream of constituents who called into the room to see him. They were still calling well after midnight."

Next day she hired a car and drove him to Dungannon to see Austin Currie (pictured, on the left), Stormont Nationalist MP. Gerry Fitt (pictured, on the right) didn't know the way and it took them ages. His lifelong refusal to learn how to drive, which made him dependent on someone who could, and his ignorance of areas west of the Bann were to be major factors in his later political career. Paddy Kennedy ('Republican Labour Party') said - "When he first started operating out of Dock, the Falls Road was Outer Mongolia to him!" Politically, Dungannon must have seemed beyond Mongolia to Mary Holland. Austin Currie told her of the house allocated to the single unmarried female secretary of the local Unionist party branch, and the dozens of large Catholic families on the waiting list. Currie had squatted in the house in protest and the RUC had evicted him.

Gerry Fitt whirled her onto Derry that evening ; she was worried that they hadn't made appointments - "Ah, not at all," he said, "you just arrive in the City Hotel and it all happens." They arrived, she ordered tea and sandwiches, he went out into the street for a few minutes and returned with Eamonn McCann, Ivan Cooper, and the future Brigade Staff of the Official IRA, Provisional IRA and the INLA. On that night, though, they were no more than what they represented themselves to be - young militant civil rights activists. Ivan Cooper was the 'radical mascot', a Protestant who had defected from the Unionist Party. They were going to march in Derry that coming weekend.

Mary Holland flew back to England on Wednesday with her story, which she had titled 'John Bull's Political Slum'. It was scheduled as a major feature on the inside pages of 'The Observer' newspaper for Sunday 6th October, 1968. Gerry Fitt came on the phone again pleading with her to return to Derry for October 5th, "just to see, just to see..". Three Labour Party MP's had agreed to come - "Ah come on Mary, for Jaysus sake.." : 'The Observer' agreed, and sent over a photographer as well. He was the only photographer from a British newspaper. The picture he took of Gerry Fitt being batoned on the head by the RUC and the blood spurting down his shirt went all over the world, accompanied by RTE film. Was she frightened? - "I was outraged ; this was a part of Britain (sic) and the police were hitting a Westminster MP over the head.."

Mary Holland phoned the story in from a fish and chip shop in Duke Street, dictating amid the screams and shouting, and standing in a crush of bodies drenched with water from the RUC cannons and blood from their wounds. The proprietor of the fish and chip shop handed her his card, hoping for a mention - there was a sense that the North was about to attract journalists on expense accounts...' ('1169' comment - it is not only the journalists who are on expense accounts : some of the republican activists at that time are now in receipt of a regular stipend from Stormont/Westminster and/or Leinster House. And their tastes have evolved from fish and chips.)

Mary Holland, born on the 19th June, 1935 - 84 years ago on this date - died, from the tissue disease 'scleroderma', in her 69th year, on the 7th June, 2004.


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, December 1954.

Sinn Féin candidates for the Westminster elections have been chosen for ten of the twelve constituencies ; they are as follows -

Armagh - Tomas MacCurtain, Cork.

South Down - Kevin O' Rourke, Banbridge.

North Down - Joe Campbell, Newry.

North Antrim - John Dugan, Loughguile.

Mid Ulster - Tom Mitchel, Dublin.

Fermanagh/South Tyrone - Phil Clarke, Dublin.

West Belfast - Eamon Boyce, Dublin.

East Belfast - Liam Mulcahy, Cork.

North Belfast - Frank McGlade, Ardoyne.

South Belfast - Paddy Kearney, Dublin.

Candidates have yet to be selected for Derry and South Antrim constituencies.

(END of 'Sinn Féin Candidates'. Next - 'One Dance', 'A Generous Gesture', 'Prisoner Elected Vice-President Of NCAI' and 'Art for ? Sake', from the same source.)


Caricature of Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott, as published in 1881 -

From 'Harpers Weekly', 1880 - 'At present the miserable constructions on Irish farms are a source of amazement to a visitor who knows that he is among a people that pretend to live by agriculture. In vain he looks for specimens of the quadrangle straw yard, with surrounding buildings, which distinguishes most English farms. Except on the few large holdings, there are no straw yards at all, and no farm premises beyond the small thatched houses or hovels which are here honoured with the designation of barns, cow-houses, and stables- usually joined on to the farmer's dwelling-house, with manure heaped just outside the doors.

The one or two cows and their calves on each holding are in the field all winter - a treatment which the mildness of the climate renders possible, though the loss in the milk producing capability of the country from this measure must be enormous. The calves are shut in at night and fed with hay, and they are not in first-class condition in the spring when sold as yearlings to the large grazing farmers. The occupiers could make good use of cattle sheds and food houses if they had them; in fact, improved husbandry in root-feeding and manure-making- the very basis of proper agriculture- is prevented by this pitiable absence of any reasonable description of farm buildings. It is a puzzle how the tenants on hundreds of farms manage to shelter their live stock, including the active well-fed ass which so commonly pulls their little cart to market with produce or turf for sale.'

Evictions (pictured) were common-place in Ireland then (and are still occurring in this Free State today) ; on the 21st October 1879, a meeting of concerned individuals was held in the Imperial Hotel in Castlebar, County Mayo, to discuss issues in relation to 'landlordism' and the manner in which that subject impacted on those who worked on small land holdings on which they paid 'rent', an issue which other groups, such as tenants' rights organisations and groups who, confined by a small membership, agitated on land issues in their own locality, had voiced concern about. Those present agreed to announce themselves as the 'Irish National Land League' (which, at its peak, had 200,000 active members) and Charles Stewart Parnell (who, at 33 years of age, had been an elected member of parliament for the previous four years) was elected president of the new group and Andrew Kettle, Michael Davitt, and Thomas Brennan were appointed as honorary secretaries.

As the then President of 'The Irish National Land League' (also known as 'The Land League of Ireland'), Parnell was advocating a different method other than 'violence', by which 'tenants' could strike-back ('1169' comment - It should be noted that the 'violence' referred to by Parnell was, in the opinion of this blog, used in self-defence, as is the 'violence' used today by the Irish in connection with that whole issue) ; at a meeting in Ennis, County Clare, in 1880, Charles Stewart Parnell stated - "Now what are you to do with a tenant who bids for a farm from which his neighbour has been evicted? Now I think I heard somebody say "Shoot him!", but I wish to point out a very much better way, a more Christian and more charitable way. You must show what you think of him on the roadside when you meet him, you must show him in the streets of the town, you must show him at the shop counter. Even in the house of worship, by leaving him severely alone, by putting him into a sort of moral 'Coventry', by isolating him from the rest of his kind as if he were a leper of old, you must show him your detestation of the crime he has committed... ". That became known as the 'Boycott Campaign', after the name of the first British 'Land Agent' (in County Mayo) against whom it was applied.

Charles Cunningham Boycott was born on the 12th March, 1832, in Burgh Saint Peter, in Norfolk, England and, as well as being a 'landlord' in Ireland - family money allowed him to hold a 31-year 'lease' on three-hundred acres near Lough Mask - he was employed as an English 'land agent' and operated in that position in the Mayo area, from his base in Loughmask House. A known gambler on the horses, he was also known to be vicious in his dealings, 'legally' and socially, with Irish 'tenants' on the land he managed for his English masters. Before taking up his 'land agent' work, he had been an officer in the British Army 39th Regiment, a position which brought him to Ireland to 'keep the peace/maintain law and order'. After retiring from his 'peace keeping duties' here in Ireland, this English 'landlord' also worked as a 'land agent' for 'Lord' Erne, a major 'landlord' in the Lough Mask area of County Mayo, who lived off the exorbitant rents he charged tenants. Boycott was kept busy, and all his actions consisted of the use of force, whether necessary or not, and resulted in bloodshed and homeless families. The 'Boycott Campaign' hit him hard, so much so that he complained to the then 'Times newspaper' about "...people collecting in crowds upon my farm and ordering off all my workmen. The shopkeepers have been warned to stop all supplies to my house. My farm is public property, I can get no workmen to do anything, and my ruin is openly avowed as the object of the Land League unless I throw up everything and leave the country.."

And leave the country he did, eventually (under an armed military escort, in an ambulance, supplied to him by the English political administration, for his own safety), as a result of his own vicious actions against 'the natives' in Ireland ; a shaken man, he went on a holiday to America and then returned to England, where he was employed as a 'land agent' in Suffolk for Hugh Adair. Charles Cunningham Boycott, a piece of English vermin, died, aged 65, in Flixton, Suffolk, in England, on the 19th June, 1897 - 122 years ago on this date.


A bus for this commemoration, which is organised each year by the Republican Movement, will leave from outside the old McBirneys/Virgin Megastore site on Dublin's Aston Quay at 12.45PM on the day : the Commemoration itself starts at 2.30PM. The same bus will leave Bodenstown at 5.45PM that afternoon on its return to Dublin city centre. The fare is ten Euro per person.

For information on the death of Wolfe Tone, scroll through this piece (article starts on March 9th on that page) : "To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, to break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils and to assert the independence of my country - these were my objectives. To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter - these were my means..." - Theobald Wolfe Tone.


Watty Graham (pictured), and his father, James (from Glenwherry, in County Antrim) were both supportive of, and active in, the 1798 Rising against British political and military interference in Ireland and both were 'wanted for questioning' by British forces in Ireland ; James managed to escape to America but Watty wouldn't travel with him, as he was owed a large sum of money, which he knew would be needed for their new life in America - 'An award of five hundred pounds was put on the head of Watty Graham for information relating to his capture. When he became aware of this he set off to try and get to America leaving the Crewe and his father, mother, wife and two children. He made out for Magilligan intending to cross to Moville where a passage had been arranged for him. On his way he stopped at a house of people named McKenna where he was given food.

The soldiers were hot on his trail and when they did not get answers to their satisfaction they burned the house to the ground...Walter Graham continued his journey and again stopped at the Rectory of (Tamlaght) Magilligan with the intention of collecting four hundred pounds of a debt owed to him by a Reverend Church. This man, 'Church', once came from the Maghera area and was inclined to be a tout for the soldiers. Mr. Church saw a way to get out of his obligation to Watty Graham and also enrich his own purse. He told Watty he had to go to Maghera to collect some money he was owed. So off he went, gloating about the reward he could get...' (from here.)

As happened before and after in situations like this, the tout 'done the dirt' ; Watty Graham was 'arrested' by the British and he was hanged, on the 19th June, 1798 - 221 years ago on this date - in Coleraine, from a tree which stood beside the gate of the local rectory, then he was beheaded. After the deed was done, a servant from the rectory was forced to parade through the streets of Maghera, displaying the severed head on the end of a pike -

'Each community remembered the particular horrors of the executions in its own locality. In Maghera, County Derry, local tradition recalled the beheading of Walter (Watty) Graham : When Graham’s body was removed from the tree, a Roman Catholic named Cassidy was ordered to strike off the head of the corpse and carry it on a pike through the town proclaiming to all that ‘This is the head of Watty Graham, the traitor’. Cassidy, an orphan, had been reared with the Grahams and when the halberd was placed in his hand he fainted, on which one of the soldiers served the head. When Cassidy recovered he was compelled to carry a pike with the gruesome burden, but the proclamation that he tearfully made through the empty street was 'This is the head of Watty Graham, the crathur..' Graham was beheaded on the threshold of the ruins of the old Abbey Church and a mark was until recently shown on the wall where the soldiers played ball with his bleeding head...' (from here.)

Watty Graham was originally buried in Culnady, a small village near the town of Maghera, but his remains were later moved by his comrades and re-buried in St Lurach's graveyard, in Maghera. Incidentally, the tree from which Watty was hanged was brought down in a storm in 1945 ; the British political and military presence 'still stands', and touts still exist...


Colm Keena reports on a new survey on low pay and talks to workers caught in the trap.

By Colm Keena.

From 'Magill' Magazine, May 1987.

Martina and Edel are in their late teens, working in a clothing factory in Dublin. They are both seamstresses with 'Shamrock Apparel', a Hong Kong-owned company based in Coolock, North Dublin, which set up here in 1985 with the support of £7.5 million in IDA grants. Young, female and working in the clothing industry, theirs is the classical profile of the low paid worker in the Irish economy.

But a survey of low pay commissioned by the 'Irish Congress of Trade Unions' and due to be published later this month, concludes that 23 per cent - or nearly one quarter of the workplace - can be considered as low paid. 'Shamrock Apparel' is not the 'typical' small sweatshop of the traditional 'rag trade' ; it is a new enterprise, employing 600 people, and exporting its products.

Martina and Edel are given a job to do, perhaps to sew in pockets or waistbands, and have to complete a certain number of such jobs per day or risk being suspended or fired. The factory produces skirts, trousers, shirts and jumpers, but they do not know what the brand names are, as they rarely see the finished products - "They don't let you talk, if they see you talking they tell you to stop. The place is stuffy, dusty, and there are no windows. They can sack you if you are not doing your quota of work, or if you do something wrong, like not tie up your bundle, when the bell goes at five." Martina, who has been with the company for two years, is paid £75 per week for her forty hours work but, after deductions, she gets "about £60". Edel receives £67 per week, or, again, "about £60", after deductions. Edel has been with the company for one year... (MORE LATER.)


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, January 1955.

Space will not permit a description of the activities of the Polish Underground ; their story, like that of the IRA, is an epic in the struggles of small nations against the forces of tyranny. For those who are interested, this story is told by the commander of the underground, Colonel Bor Komorowski, in his book 'The Secret Army'.

While they were unfortunate in the outcome, during the struggle itself they were constantly supplied with up-to-date equipment and munitions from the armouries of their allies. We in Ireland have always had to rely on our own resources.

Just as the Civil War in Ireland bereft us of our most loyal leaders, and completely disrupted the National Movement, the Polish Underground lost most of her most energetic fighters when they came out of hiding to assist the advancing Russian Army and were arrested by the Russian secret police. But now we see that fresh leaders have come to the fore and the struggle is being resumed against present occupation forces. Although the strategic position is entirely different in Ireland, we may gain courage from the story of the achievements of those heroic men and women and nerve ourselves for the resumption of the struggle against our own traditional enemy.

We should not forget that the zeal and patriotism of those men and women is due to the motivating power of their native language and traditions, which influences each new generation, and imbues it with a love of liberty which death and dungeon cannot destroy. (END of 'Poland and Ourselves' ; next - 'The Old Story', from the same source.)

Thanks for reading, Sharon.