Monday, October 16, 2017

IRISH 'RABBLE-ROUSERS' AND BRITISH 'JUSTICE'.

BRITISH BAILIFFS WITH GUNS AND FAST HORSES...

These Irishmen were imprisoned in Dublin by the British, who considered them, one and all, as 'rabble-rousers' and, from within their prison cells, the prisoners did their utmost to prove the British right by trying their best to 'rouse' the 'rabble' into fighting back against the British and their so-called 'landlords' in this country - indeed, their efforts at doing so gave rise, among other things, to a new method for teaching children the alphabet...113th on the 21st and 22nd with 78 under 6...India and Ireland and dividing up the spoils...this Free State minister invited those voicing opposition to him to "come up and see me sometime"...(MORE ON WEDNESDAY 18TH OCTOBER 2017...)


See you then, thanks - Sharon.




Wednesday, September 27, 2017

OLIVER CROMWELL AND "THE REDUCING OF CARLINGFORD".

ON THIS DATE (27TH SEPTEMBER) 95 YEARS AGO : MORE REPRESSIVE LEGISLATION IMPOSED.

Irish Free State soldiers, left, were given ever more of a free reign to impose the dictat of their paymasters in Leinster House in 1927, 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 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.

In short, Free Staters were once again in power in the Free State (!) but Irish republicans continued to fight back - on the 21st September 1927, six Free State soldiers were killed in a gun battle with the IRA near Ballina in Mayo and, on that same day, the Free State barracks in Drumshambo in Leitrim was attacked and taken by republicans, during which one Stater was killed. On the 22nd September a FS soldier was killed and several others and three civilians injured in a gun and grenade attack by the IRA on enemy troops on Eden Quay in Dublin and, on the day that the 'Public Safety Act' was being voted on in Leinster House, several hundred IRA Volunteers attacked the town of Killorglin, in Kerry, and were only denied their victory, after 24 hours of fighting, when more Free State troops arrived in force, from Tralee.

The 'Public Safety Act', passed in the Free State assembly by 41 votes to 18 on this date, 27th September, 95 years ago, allowed for the State to execute those captured bearing arms against it and permitted 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' represented politically and morally corrupt legislation and was enacted by a then, and now, politically and morally corrupt political assembly.





THOMAS ASHE : WREATH-LAYING CEREMONY AND SEMINAR.

After the 1916 Rising, Thomas Ashe (pictured, left) was court-martialed (on the 8th of May 1916) and was sentenced to death, which was commuted to penal servitude for life. He was incarcerated in a variety of English prisons before being released in the June 1917 general amnesty and immediately returned to Ireland and toured the country reorganising the IRB and inciting civil opposition to British rule. In August 1917, after a speech in Ballinalee, County Longford, he was arrested by the RIC and charged with "speeches calculated to cause disaffection". He was detained in the Curragh Camp and later sentenced to a year's hard labour in Mountjoy Jail. There he became O/C of the Volunteer prisoners, and demanded prisoner-of-war status and, as a result, he was punished by the Governor. He went on hunger strike on the 20th September 1917 and died five days later as a result of force-feeding by the prison authorities. He was 32 years old. His death resulted in POW status being conceded to the Volunteer prisoners two days later.

A wreath-laying ceremony for this brave Irish hero will be held on Saturday, 30th September 2017, at 12 noon, in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin and, afterwards, a seminar on the man will take place in Wynns Hotel, Dublin city centre, from 1pm to 5pm. And, in Kinnard, Lispole, in Kerry, on Sunday 1st October 2017, at 2pm, a commemoration in his honour will take place. All genuine republicans welcome!





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.

Specifically, Padraig Flynn was worried that the 'Single European Act', if ratified, would herald the introduction of divorce and abortion services. His fears were grounded on the basis that ratification of the Act appeared to give the right to the Court of Justice to apply the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights when ruling on issues of fundamental rights ; the Convention allows for divorce and abortion in certain circumstances.

The response of the then Taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald, to Flynn's contribution, was characteristic of the way in which the Mayo man is regarded by more liberal and cosmopolitan politicians - Flynn's speech, Garret FitzGerald said, was "a flight of fancy". He himself, he said, would attempt to address the issues "in more sober and relevant terms".

But Padraig Flynn now feels vindicated - he had also expressed worries about Title III of the Single European Act, on political co-operation in foreign policy matters and it was on the basis of that Title that the Supreme Court deemed the process of ratifying the Act unconstitutional. But Flynn, meanwhile, has become an enthusiastic supporter of the Act... (MORE LATER).





ON THIS DATE (27TH SEPTEMBER) 368 YEARS AGO : A WAR CRIMINAL AND "THE REDUCING OF CARLINGFORD".

Pictured, left - some of Oliver Cromwell's Irish victims, sold as slaves and 'sex workers' to the highest bidder.

On the 29th April, 1599, a baby boy, Oliver Cromwell, who had been born on the 25th, was christened in Saint John the Baptish church in Huntingdon, England. Decades later, when someone was trawling through the birth records for that period, they came across an unofficial addendum to that particular entry : it read - "England's plague for five years.." Cromwell should need no introduction to readers of this blog, but some readers may not be aware of the significance of a particular date in this month - the 3rd September - in that creature's life : on that date in 1649, Cromwell began his nine-day siege of Drogheda after which thousands of its inhabitants were butchered, the infamous 'Death March' he forced on his enemy after the battle of Dunbar on the 3rd September 1650 and, one year later on that same date - the 3rd September - he wallowed in more blood and guts, this time in his own country, at the battle of Worcester.

And, somewhere in between wrecking havoc and stealing and selling Irish children, he found the time - on the 27th September in 1649, 368 years ago on this date - to write to his political bosses in London :

'FOR THE HONOURABLE WILLIAM LENTHALL, ESQUIRE, SPEAKER OF THE PARLIAMENT OF ENGLAND :

Dublin, 27th September 1649.

Mr. Speaker - I had not received any account from Colonel Venables - whom I sent from Tredah to endeavour the reducing of Carlingford, and so to march Northward towards a conjunction with Sir Charles Coote - until the last night. After he came to Carlingford, having summoned the place, both the three Castles and the Fort commanding the Harbour were rendered to him. Wherein were about Forty Barrels of Powder, Seven Pieces of Cannon ; about a Thousand Muskets, and Five-hundred Pikes wanting twenty. In the entrance into the Harbour, Captain Fern, aboard your man-of-war, had some danger ; being much shot at from the Sea Fort, a bullet shooting through his main-mast. The Captain's entrance into that Harbour was a considerable adventure, and a good service ; as also was that of Captain Brandly, who, with Forty seamen, stormed a very strong Tenalia at Treda, and helped to take it ; for which he deserves an owning by you.


Venables marched from Carlingford, with a party of Horse and Dragoons, to the Newry ; leaving the place, and it was yielded before his Foot came up to him. Some other informations I have received form him, which promise well towards your Northern Interest ; which, if well prosecuted, will, I trust God, render you a good account of those parts. I have sent those things to be presented to the Council of State for their consideration. I pray God, as these mercies flow in upon you, He will give you an heart to improve them to His glory alone ; because He alone is the author of them, and of all the goodness, patience and long-suffering extending towards you. Your army has marched ; and, I believe, this night lieth at Arklow, in the County of Wicklow, by the Sea-side, between thirty and forty miles from this place. I am this day, by God’s blessing, going towards it.

I crave your pardon for this trouble; and rest, your most humble servant, OLIVER CROMWELL.

P.S. I desire the Supplies moved for may be hastened. I am verily persuaded, though the burden be great, yet it is for your service. If the Garrisons we take swallow-up your men, how shall we be able to keep the field? Who knows but the Lord may pity England's sufferings, and make a short work of this? It is in His hand to do it, and therein only your servants rejoice. I humbly present the condition of Captain George Jenkin's Widow. He died presently after Tredah Storm. His Widow is in great want.

The following Officers and Soldiers were slain at the storming of Tredah: Sir Arthur Ashton, Governor; Sir Edmund Varney, Lieutenant-Colonel to Ormond’s Regiment; Colonel Fleming, Lieutenant-Colonel Finglass, Major Fitzgerald, with eight Captains, eight Lieutenants, and eight Cornets, all of Horse; Colonels Warren, Wall, and Byrn, of Foot, with their Lieutenants, Majors, etc; the Lord Taaff’s Brother, an Augustine Friar; forty-four Captains, and all their Lieutenants, Ensigns, etc; 220 Reformadoes and Troopers; 2,500 Foot-soldiers, besides the Staff-Officers, Surgeons, etc.'


This misfit had another date with his favourite day and date - 3rd September - in 1658, when he was collected from this Earth by his maker. A pity he was spawned at all.





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...)

Writing in the 'Sunday Times', Dorothy Wetherburn (Dorothy Wedderburn?) made the following points - "Mrs Thatcher was bad for the Scots ; not just those living in Scotland, but the descendants of the Scots who settled in Ulster 300 and more years ago. They, too, have remained stubbornly nationalistic. Conservatism has been the best guarantee of the link the Unionists wished to preserve. Now, with the Anglo-Irish Agreement (Hillsborough Treaty), faith in that guarantee has been dealt a mortal stroke. It has shown that the British establishment has wholly given up on Ulster's cause - that there is no political reason for retaining the link* (there has not been a strategic or economic reason for some time) as Tom King made brutally clear."

Indeed, Peter Brook reiterated in his speech last November (1990) that 'England has no longer any strategic or economic reason for remaining in Ireland' and, if there had been a 'greater quality of esteem' between the Irish and English governments, then things might have been different. (* '1169' comment : not entirely the case, in our opinion - Westminster and the rest of the British establishment still value the 'currency' that is represented, they apparently believe, in maintaining their 'empire' and, having physically, at least, 'lost' part of this country, they refuse point blank to risk being labelled/seen as 'weak' by politically and militarily completely ending their occupation in Ireland.) (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!

SMUGGLING - THE EASY WAY.

A STUDY IN TERROR AND INDIFFERENCE.

My two female visitors started fumbling about with their clothing in the visiting area - it was nearly Christmas 1973 and they had smuggled balloons of alcoholic beverages into me as a Christmas present. "What did you bring me?" I asked. "Six Vodka, four Whiskey and four Vat 19". "Jesus, how am I supposed to smuggle these back into the Wing ['A' Wing, Crumlin Road Gaol?]" "Then why not drink them here?" asked my Mother.

"No way. I have to get them inside for the Christmas party." The half-hour visit was coming to an end and I was trying to secrete all the balloons down my jeans. But there was just too many of them. I heard someone whistling, walking down the visit area towards the gate back into the Gaol. It was big Ned Maguire - he appeared to be cradling something in his arm and it looked very much like balloons of drink... "Ned, c'mere, what are you doing?" I asked him. "My visit's over. I'm going back inside," he replied. "I know that, I said, "but what about the balloons?"

"What about them?", said Ned. "You're not allowed to bring them in. The screws will take them off you." "They better not even attempt it," growled Ned. "But do you want me to carry your drink in as well?", he asked. "Are you sure?" I asked. "No problem," Ned prophesised, so I handed him my contraband balloons. Ned stood there, with about 24 small balloons in total, all full of drink, cradled in his arm. My visit was over and I joined Big Ned at the security gate between A-Wing and the visiting area. A screw stood at the gate and two other screws escorted Ned and myself back into the gaol.

As we approached the gate, the screw opened it with a key and said to Ned - "Here, Maguire, where do you think you're going with those balloons...?" (MORE LATER).





ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK...

..we won't be in a position to post our usual offerings (Ard Fheis paperwork job on!) and we may not be able to post on the following Wednesday, 11th October, either, as the Cabhair group are holding a 650-ticket raffle in Dublin on Sunday, 8th October, meaning that we'll be busy with that from the 3rd to the 9th! We will hopefully slip-in a few words between now and then, but it looks like our next post might not be until Wednesday 18th October next. But with a bit of luck, we'll do better than that - keep in touch, anyway!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, September 20, 2017

"A (REPUBLICAN) BLUEPRINT FOR A DRAMATIC COUP D'ÉTAT."

ON THIS DATE (20TH SEPTEMBER) 214 YEARS AGO : 'DARLING OF ERIN' BUTCHERED BY WESTMINSTER.

Robert Emmet was born on the 4th March, 1778, a son of Dr Robert Emmet and Elizabeth Mason. His father served as state physician to the vice-regal household but he was a social reformer who believed that in order to achieve the emancipation of the Irish people it was first necessary to break the link with England. Robert Emmet (Jnr) was baptised on March 10th, 1778, in St Peter's Church of Ireland in Aungier Street, Dublin, and attended Oswald's School in Dropping Court, off Golden Lane, Dublin. From there he went to Samuel Whytes School in Grafton Street, quite near his home, and later to the school of the Reverend Mr Lewis in Camden Street. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, in October 1793 when he was almost 16 years of age and practiced his oratorical skills in the historical and debating societies. One of his friends at TCD was the poet Thomas Moore.

There were four branches of the 'United Irishmen' in TCD and Robert Emmet was secretary of one of them but, after an inquisition, presided over by Lord Chancellor Fitzgibbon, Emmet became one of nineteen students who were expelled for United Irishmen activity. Although not active in the 1798 Rising, Robert Emmet was well known to the British authorities and by April 1799, when 'Habeas Corpus' had been suspended, there was a warrant issued for his arrest, which he managed to evade. Early in 1801, accompanied by a Mr Malachy Delany of Cork, he travelled throughout Europe and made Paris his headquarters - it was there that he replaced Edward Lewis as the liaison officer between Irish and French republicans.

While in Paris, Emmet learned about rockets and weapons and studied a two-volume treatise by a Colonel Tempelhoff which can be examined in the Royal Irish Academy, with the marginal notes given the reader some insight into Emmet's thinking. Following the signing of the 'Peace of Amiens' by France and England in March 1802, the United Irishmen that were being held as prisoners in Fort George were released and many such as Thomas Russell and Thomas Addis Emmet made there way to Paris. Emmet returned to Ireland in October 1802 and began to plan for a rising and, in March 1803, at a meeting in Corbet's Hotel, 105 Capel Street in Dublin, Emmet briefed his key organisers. In April 1803 he rented an isolated house in Butterfield Lane in Rathfarnham as a new base of operations and Michael Dwyer, a 1798 veteran, suggested his young niece as a suitable candidate to play the role of the 'housekeeper'. Born in or around the year 1778, Ann Devlin soon became Robert Emmet's trusted helper and served him loyally in the months ahead. Shortly afterwards he leased a premises at Marshalsea Lane, off Thomas Street, Dublin, and set up an arms depot there.

Arms depots were established in Dublin for the manufacture and storage of weapons for the incipient rising. Former soldiers mixed their practical skills with the scientific knowledge that Robert Emmet had acquired on the continent, and an innovative rocket device was produced. Elaborate plans were drawn up to take the city and in particular Dublin Castle : supporters from the surrounding counties of Kildare, Wicklow and even Wexford were pledged to assist. Emmet bided his time waiting for an opportune moment when English troops would be withdrawn to serve in the renewed war in France, but his hand was forced when a premature explosion on the evening of July 16th, 1803, at the Patrick Street depot, caused the death of John Keenan. Though there was no obvious wide-scale search or arrest operation by the British following the explosion, the leadership of the movement decided to set Saturday July 23rd, 1803 as the date for the rising. Emmet hoped that success in Dublin would inspire other counties to follow suit. Patrick M. Geoghegan, in a recent publication, says that "the plan for taking Dublin was breathtaking in its precision and audacity. It was nothing less that a blueprint for a dramatic coup d'état. Indeed, over a century later, Pearse and Clarke would also refer to the plan for their own rising.."

Emmet's plan depended on two factors - arms and men and, as Geoghegan states, when the time came, Robert Emmet had not enough of either - events went dramatically wrong for him. On the appointed day his plans began to unravel ; Michael Dwyer and his promised 300 men did not get the word until Sunday July 24th and, the previous day, an excess of men had moved in to Dublin from Kildare and could not be concealed in the existing depots so they spread out around the city pubs and some started drinking. Others, after inspecting the existing arsenal and finding many pikes but few muskets or blunderbusses, went home unimpressed.

Because he had alerted other countries and still had the element of surprise, Emmet decided not to postpone the rising thus, shortly after seven o'clock on Saturday July 23rd, 1803, Robert Emmet, in his green and gold uniform, stood in the Thomas Street, Dublin, depot and, to the assembled rebels, read out his proclamation, declaring that the Irish nation was about to assert itself in arms against foreign rule. But again events conspired to thwart the rebels - coaches commissioned for the attack on Dublin Castle were lost and erroneous information supplied that encouraged pre-emptive strikes, meant that confusion reigned. Also, the novel rocket signals failed to detonate. Emmet's own forces, who were to have taken the Castle, dwindled away and, throughout the remainder of that evening, there were skirmishes at Thomas Street and the Coombe Barracks but he decided to terminate operations and leave the city. For the English forces, which included Daniel O'Connell ("It is highly interesting to read that Daniel O'Connell, then a young barrister, enthusiastically joined a lawyer yeomen corps in 1803 to help in the pursuit of the rebels.." - from here), it was then merely a mopping-up operation : in the aftermath, the English arrested and tortured Anne Devlin, even offering her the enormous sum of £500 to betray Robert Emmet - she refused.

Emmet himself took refuge in the Harold's Cross area of Dublin, during which he met with his mother and Sarah Curran but, on Thursday August 25th, 1803, he was finally arrested. It has been stated by others that a £1000 reward was paid by Dublin Castle to an informer, for supplying the information which led to his capture. Robert Emmet's misfortunes did not stop on his arrest : he was unlucky enough to be 'defended' by one Leonard McNally who was trusted by the United Irishmen. However, after McNally's death in 1820 it transpired that he was a highly paid government agent and, in his role as an informer, he had encouraged young men to join the rebels, betrayed them to Dublin Castle and would then collect fees from the United Irishmen to 'defend' those same rebels in court!

Emmet's 'trial' lasted 11 hours, and he stood for that entire duration, in front of a 'Special Commission' overseen by judge John Toler (better known as 'Hanging Lord Norbury') in Green Street Court House in Dublin on September 19th, 1803. By about 9.30pm that night he was pronounced guilty and, asked for his reaction, he delivered a speech which still inspires today. He closed by saying that he cared not for the opinion of the court but for the opinion of the future - "..when other times and other men can do justice to my character...". Robert Emmet was publicly executed on Tuesday September 20th, 1803 - 214 years ago on this date - outside St Catherine's Church in Dublin's Thomas Street -

'The gallows on Thomas street was a temporary one which was built with planks and empty barrels and a cross beam on two poles about 12 feet tall. It was almost in the centre of the street...(his) final words on the gallows (were) "My friends, I die in peace and with sentiments of universal love and kindness towards all men"...the executioner began the hanging by dislodging a plank which was on a narrow ledge and Emmet convulsed on the end of the rope for over a half an hour when finally his body ceased to move...beheaded on a butchers block..if the reports of the blood squirting into the crowd when the procedure began are accurate, this would suggest that Robert Emmet was alive and merely unconscious at the time of his beheading...' (from here.)

His grave has yet to be located...





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.

Padraig Flynn may be quite happily esconced in the heart of Dublin, anxious to transform it into a cosmopolitan city on a par with Paris or Rome. But his references are unmistakably rural and traditional. He is never far from Mayo West.

He identified himself as one of the voices of Catholic moral conservatism during the constitutional referenda on abortion and divorce. And he admits openly to not being a pluralist. His position on divorce since the referendum last June is unchanged. You can't have "special cases" for people whose marriages have broken down.

But some of Flynn's categorical assertions are relative ; as with all of the members of the Fianna Fáil government, he has had to change his tune on some issues, which the party represented differently in opposition. But Padraig Flynn, more than most of his colleagues, can make it appear that there has been no change at all. During the debate on the Single European Act last December, Padraig Flynn was one of the most outspoken critics of the Act. The speech he made outlining his objections to the Act is one in which he takes unconcealed pride. He says he did all the research for it himself, although he was helped by literature supplied by the Family Solidarity group. But that literature, he adds quickly, was supplied to every TD (sic). He has maintained informal links he struck up with the group during the referenda but is not a member... (MORE LATER).





ON THIS DATE (20TH SEPTEMBER) 103 YEARS AGO : IRISH LEADER CAMPAIGNS FOR RECRUITMENT TO BRITISH ARMY.

John Redmond (left), the leader of the 'Irish Parliamentary Party', was born into a 'Big House'-type Catholic family on the 1st September in 1856 and, after a 'proper' education (in Clongowes College in Kildare and Trinity College in Dublin) he became a political 'player' in the British so-called 'House of Commons', where he supplemented his income as a clerk. He was only 25 years-of-age when he was first elected as an MP, having worked his way up the establishment ladder.

He was an Irish nationalist (small 'n') politician who, occasionally, campaigned for his followers (and anyone else that would listen to him) to join the British Army in its fight against Germany, and did so infamously (and unashamedly) in a public speech he delivered in Woodenbridge in County Wicklow on this date - 20th September - in 1914, where he stated - "The interests of Ireland - of the whole of Ireland - are at stake in this war. This war is undertaken in the defence of the highest principles of religion and morality and right, and it would be a disgrace for ever to our country and a reproach to her manhood and a denial of the lessons of her history if young Ireland confined their efforts to remaining at home to defend the shores of Ireland from an unlikely invasion, and to shrinking from the duty of proving on the field of battle that gallantry and courage which has distinguished our race all through its history. I say to you, therefore, your duty is twofold. I am glad to see such magnificent material for soldiers around me, and I say to you: 'Go on drilling and make yourself efficient for the work, and then account yourselves as men, not only for Ireland itself, but wherever the fighting line extends, in defence of right, of freedom, and religion in this war...' ".

And, unfortunately, in the months that followed his 'call to arms', tens of thousands of Irishmen joined his 'Cause' and fought alongside imperialism to the extent that one of his modern-day political mirror-images all but called Redmond a traitor for encouraging such folly. Other political leaders did not agree with John Redmond and,among them, was James Connolly, the Irish Trade Union leader, who was also in command of the Irish Citizen Army - he answered Redmond's call thus :

'Full steam ahead, John Redmond said,

that everything was well, chum ;

Home Rule will come when we are dead,

and buried out in Belgium'.


Also, some of John Redmond's own men dis-agreed with his pro-British 'call-to-arms' ; Eoin MacNeill, who was then in a leadership position within the 'Irish Volunteers', was of the opinion that the 'Irish Volunteers' should only use force against the British if* Westminster first moved against them ; a bit 'watery', definitely, but he was, however, against fighting with the British (*if having your country occupied by a foreign power cannot be considered a 'first move against us' then Mr MacNeill had a different understanding of the English language than I have!).

Just over a year after Mr Redmond had delivered his 'join imperialism'-speech in Woodenbridge, a British Army Major-General, 'Sir' Lovick Bransby Friend (..perhaps his parents never bonded with him?) the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in Ireland, said that 1,100 recruits were needed from Ireland every week "to replace wastage" (!) of existing Irish soldiers. The comments were made at a private conference on recruiting in Ireland that was held under the presidency of the 'Lord' Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Wimborne, at the Viceregal Lodge in Dublin's Phoenix Park, where it was also stated that approximately 81,000 Irishmen had 'heeded Redmond's call-to-arms'. The political mirror-image, mentioned above, had a point...





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...)

At the first 'Constitutional Convention' held in Edinburgh which brought together groups in Scotland to present a demand for a Scottish parliament, Canon Kenyon Wright, General Secretary of the Scottish Council of Churches, told the politicians present "..there is a Greek-biblical word for it - 'kairos' - a time. It is not just the passing of days, but of time, that is ripe - there is a new political climate - we are at 'kairos' ; a time for Scotland."

Canon Wright brought together a number of strands of opposition sentiment : the sense of moral outrage over politics seen to be both philistine and grasping, and the belief that Scotland has preserved not just a separate national identity but also a distinct politico-moral sense which is now reasserting itself. Mrs Thatcher was bad for Ireland, not just in the soothing paralysis of 'the Anglo-Irish Agreement' but because current punitive legislation aimed specifically at Ireland has also seen an erosion of British civil liberties.

The 'Charter 88' group in Britain, who see that the English have lost their civil liberties because of what their government is doing in Ireland, is presently agitating for a Bill of Rights to reinstate the Rights of the Individual in Britain and to reform the system of human rights and civil liberties...(MORE LATER).





ON THIS DATE (20TH SEPTEMBER) 100 YEARS AGO : THE DEATH OF THE FIRST OF OUR TWENTY-TWO HUNGER-STRIKERS.

Thomas Ashe (pictured, right) was born in Lispole, County Kerry, on the 12th of January 1885 - he was the seventh of ten siblings. He qualified as a teacher in 1905 at De La Salle College, Waterford and after teaching briefly in Kinnard, County Kerry, in 1906 he became principal of Corduff National School in Lusk, County Dublin. He was a fluent Irish speaker and a member of the Keating branch of the Gaelic League and was an accomplished sportsman and musician setting up the Round Towers GAA Club as well as helping to establish the Lusk Pipe Band. He was also a talented singer and poet who was committed to Conradh na Gaeilge.

Politically, he was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and established IRB circles in Dublin and Kerry and eventually became President of the Supreme Council in 1917. While he was actively and intellectually nationalist he was also inspired by contemporary socialism. Ashe rejected conservative Home Rule politicians and as part of that rejection he espoused the Labour policies of James Larkin. Writing in a letter to his brother Gregory he said - "We are all here on Larkin's side. He'll beat hell out of the snobbish, mean, seoinín employers yet, and more power to him". Ashe supported the unionisation of north Dublin farm labourers and his activities brought him into conflict with landowners such as Thomas Kettle *. During the infamous lockout in 1913 he was a frequent visitor to Liberty Hall and become a friend of James Connolly. Long prior to its publication in 1916, Thomas Ashe was a practitioner of Connolly’s dictum that "the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland, the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour". In 1914 Ashe travelled to the United States where he raised a substantial sum of money for both the Gaelic League and the newly formed Irish Volunteers of which he was an early member. (*'Tom Kettle was a member of the National Volunteers, and in 1914 went to Belgium to buy arms for them. Whilst there, war broke out, and he became convinced of the justice of the Allied cause. He returned to Ireland, and made a series of recruiting speeches, which effectively alienated him from the Nationalist movement. Kettle then joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. After the Easter Rising and the murder of Francis Sheehy-Skeffington he asked to be sent to the Front, and was killed on the eve of the Battle of Ginchy, 9 September 1916. His body was never recovered...')

He founded the Volunteers in Lusk and established a firm foundation of practical and theoretical military training, and provided charismatic leadership first as Adjutant and then as O/C (Officer Commanding) the 5th Battalion of the Dublin Brigade, where he inspired fierce loyalty and encouraged personal initiative in his junior officers and was therefore able to confidently delegate command to Charlie Weston, Joseph Lawless, Edward Rooney and others during the Rising. Most significantly, he took advantage of the arrival of Richard Mulcahy at Finglas Glen on the Tuesday of the Rising and appointed him second in command. The two men knew one another through the IRB and Gaelic League and Ashe recognized Mulcahy's tactical abilities. As a result Ashe allowed himself to be persuaded by Mulcahy not to withdraw following the unexpected arrival of a motorised force of British 'police' at the Rath crossroads, Ashbourne, on the 28th of April, 1916 - he demonstrated great personal courage, first exposing himself to fire while calling on the RIC in the fortified barracks to surrender and then actively leading his Volunteers against the RIC during the battle.

After the 1916 Rising he was court-martialed (on the 8th of May 1916) and was sentenced to death, which was commuted to penal servitude for life. He was incarcerated in a variety of English prisons before being released in the June 1917 general amnesty and immediately returned to Ireland and toured the country reorganising the IRB and inciting civil opposition to British rule. In August 1917, after a speech in Ballinalee, County Longford, he was arrested by the RIC and charged with "speeches calculated to cause disaffection". He was detained in the Curragh Camp and later sentenced to a year's hard labour in Mountjoy Jail. There he became O/C of the Volunteer prisoners, and demanded prisoner-of-war status and, as a result, he was punished by the Governor. He went on hunger strike on the 20th September 1917 - 100 years ago on this date - and five days later died as a result of force-feeding by the prison authorities. He was 32 years old. His death resulted in POW status being conceded to the Volunteer prisoners two days later.

His funeral was the first public funeral after the Rising and provided a focal point for public disaffection with British rule. His body lay in state in Dublin City Hall before being escorted by armed Volunteers to Glasnevin Cemetery. 30,000 people attended the burial where three volleys were fired over the grave and the Last Post was sounded. While imprisoned in Lewes Jail in 1916, he had written his poem 'Let Me Carry Your Cross for Ireland, Lord' which later provided the inspiration for the 'Battle of Ashbourne Memorial', which was unveiled by Sean T. O'Kelly on Easter Sunday, 26th April 1959, at the Rath Cross in Ashbourne :

Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord

The hour of her trial draws near,

And the pangs and the pains of the sacrifice

May be borne by comrades dear.



But, Lord, take me from the offering throng,

There are many far less prepared,

Through anxious and all as they are to die

That Ireland may be spared.



Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord

My cares in this world are few,

and few are the tears will for me fall

When I go on my way to You.



Spare Oh! Spare to their loved ones dear

The brother and son and sire,

That the cause we love may never die

In the land of our Heart's desire!



Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!

Let me suffer the pain and shame

I bow my head to their rage and hate,

And I take on myself the blame.



Let them do with my body what'er they will,

My spirit I offer to You,

That the faithful few who heard her call

May be spared to Roisin Dubh.



Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!

For Ireland weak with tears,

For the aged man of the clouded brow,

And the child of tender years;

For the empty homes of her golden plains,

For the hopes of her future, Too!

Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!

For the cause of Roisin Dubh.




The jury at the inquest into his death found that "Thomas Ashe, according to the medical evidence of Professor McWeeney, Sir Arthur Chance, and Sir Thomas Myles, died from heart failure and congestion of the lungs on the 25th September, 1917 and that his death was caused by the punishment of taking away from the cell bed, bedding and boots and allowing him to be on the cold floor for 50 hours, and then subjecting him to forcible feeding in his weak condition after hunger-striking for five or six days..". Michael Collins organised the funeral and transformed it into a national demonstration against British misrule in Ireland ; armed Irish Republican Brotherhood Volunteers in full uniform flanked the coffin, followed by 9,000 other IRB Volunteers and approximately 30,000 people lined the streets. A volley of shots was fired over his grave, following which Michael Collins stated - "Nothing more remains to be said. That volley which we have just heard is the only speech which it is proper to make over the grave of a dead Fenian."

The London-based 'Daily Express' newspaper perhaps summed it up best when it stated that what had happened had made '100,000 Sinn Féiners out of 100,000 constitutional nationalists.' The level of support shown gave a boost to Irish republicans, and this was noted by the 'establishment' in Westminster - 'The Daily Mail' newspaper claimed that, a month earlier, Sinn Féin, despite its electoral successes, had been a waning force, and opined 'it had no practical programme, for the programme of going further than anyone else cannot be so described. It was not making headway. But Sinn Féin today is pretty nearly another name for the vast bulk of youth in Ireland..'

Thomas Ashe, the first of twenty-two Irish republican hunger-strikers to die on the protest, began his hunger-strike on this date, 20th September, 100 years ago.





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!

THE CO-OP.

Saturday came and with it the parcels. First thing, Paddy went out on his visit and, when he came back, he was in a great mood. "My ma says that the cake is definitely in the parcel." "Right, that's stage one of the plan up and running," said Smig. "No, no, you don't understand," said Paddy, "I think the screws will let this one in." "So do I", answered Smig, "It's covered in vaseline.."

Smig left the hut and left Paddy stewing in it. Later that afternoon we sat in the hut waiting on the parcel, when Paddy came in with a big grin on his face - "My parcel came and the cake's all right." "I'm not eating it anyway," said Stuarty. "Why not?" asked Paddy. "Because the screws must have smelt the vaseline and let it in," answered Stuarty. Paddy produced the cake and declared - "There's no vaseline on it ; smell for yourself, it's sound..." "I don't know what vaseline smells like," said Stuarty, and we all refused to eat the cake, much to Paddy's annoyance.

He begged us to have a bit of cake but we wouldn't. The funny thing about it was the plan was dependent on Paddy's mother sending in a chocolate sandwich cake but when Paddy opened the parcel and took out the cake it was a one-layer florence cake. The co-op system was designed to create comradeship, mutual benefit and a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. But mainly to do onto others before they do it on you! (MORE LATER).





ON THIS DATE (20TH SEPTEMBER) 97 YEARS AGO : IRISH REBEL CAPTURED IN DUBLIN BY BRITISH SOLDIERS.

Pictured, left - the 'arrest' by British forces of Irish republican Kevin Barry, in Upper Church Street in Dublin, on Monday 20th September, 1920 - 97 years ago on this date. On that morning, 18-year-old Kevin Barry had gone to Mass and received Holy Communion, then joined a party of IRA volunteers on Bolton Street in Dublin. Their orders were to ambush a British army truck as it picked up a delivery of bread from Monk's Bakery at the junction of North King Street and Church Street and capture their weapons. The ambush was scheduled for 11am, which gave him enough time to take part in the operation and return to UCD in time for a medical examination he had at 2pm. The gun he was using jammed during the operation (he had left his own weapon in Carlow and was using a borrowed one) and he was forced to seek shelter - he rolled under the British Army truck and continued trying to free the jammed gun. His comrades left the scene as they were outnumbered and had lost the element of surprise, and Barry might very well have escaped capture in his hiding place had a local woman, a Mrs Garrett, who ran a coal and vegetable shop near the bakery, not shouted out to the driver of the British Army lorry that he shouldn't move it as the person under it (Kevin Barry) could get run over. Barry was captured and placed in the back of the military lorry along with three dead or mortally wounded British soldiers and the poor woman blamed herself, as did some of her neighbours.

Kevin's sister, Kathy, exonerated the woman from any blame for his capture - "Incidentally, I should mention that some months after his execution we were most distressed to hear that this woman had been driven mad and was in an asylum as a result of the blame attached to her by her neighbours. There was nothing we could usefully do about it beyond explaining where we could that, in Kevin's own account of it to me on the day of his court martial, he was convinced that she cried out because she was afraid that the man under the lorry would be run over."

In an affidavit drawn up in Mountjoy Prison days before his execution, he wrote - "I, Kevin Barry, of 58 South Circular Road, in the County of Dublin, Medical Student, aged 18 years and upwards solemnly and sincerely declare as follows: On the 20th of September 1920, I was arrested in Upper Church Street by a Sergeant of the 2nd Duke of Wellington's regiment and was brought under escort to the North Dublin Union now occupied by military. I was brought into the guard room and searched. I was then moved to the defaulter's room by an escort with a Sergeant-Major, who all belonged to 1st Lancashire Fusiliers. I was then hand-cuffed.

About 15 minutes after I was put into the defaulter’s room, two Commissioned Officers of the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers came in. They were accompanied by 3 Sergeants of the same unit. A military policeman who had been in the same room since I entered it remained. One of the officers asked me my name, which I gave. He then asked me for the names of my companions in the raid. I refused to give them. He tried to persuade me to give the names and I persisted in refusing. He then sent a Sergeant for a bayonet. When it was brought in the Sergeant was ordered by this officer to point the bayonet at my stomach. The same questions as to the names and addresses of my companions were repeated with the same results. The Sergeant was then ordered to turn my face to the wall and point the bayonet to my back. The sergeant then said he would run the bayonet into me if I did not tell. The bayonet was then removed and I was turned round again.

This officer then said that if I still persisted in this attitude he would turn me out to the men in the barrack square and he supposed I knew what that meant with the men in their present temper. I said nothing. He ordered the Sergeants to put me face down on the floor and twist my arm. I was pushed down onto the floor after my handcuffs were removed. When I lay on the floor one of the Sergeants knelt on the small of my back, the other two placed one foot each on my back and left shoulder and the man who knelt on me twisted my right arm, holding it by the wrist with one hand while he held my hair with the other to pull back my head. The arm was twisted from the elbow joint. This continued to the best of my knowledge for 5 minutes. It was very painful. The first officer was standing near my feet and the officer who accompanied him was still present. During the twisting of my arm the first officer continued to question me for the names and addresses of my companions and the names of my Company Commander or any other officer I knew. As I still refused to answer these questions I was let up and handcuffed.

A civilian came in and he repeated the same questions with the same results. He informed me that if I gave all the information I knew I could get off. I was then left in the company of the military policeman. The two officers, three sergeants and civilian all left together. I could certainly identify the officer who directed the proceedings and put the questions. I am not sure of the others except the sergeant with the bayonet. My arm was medically treated by an officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps attached to the North Dublin Union the following morning and by the prison hospital orderly afterwards for 4 or 5 days. I was visited by the Court Martial Officer last night and he read the confirmation of sentence of death by hanging to be executed on Monday next and I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing same to be true and by virtue of the Statutory Declarations Act, 1835.

Declared and subscribed before me at Mountjoy Prison in the County of the City of Dublin, 28 October, 1920 Signed Myles Keogh, A justice of the peace for said County.

Kevin Gerard Barry."

On Halloween night, 1920 - the night before his execution - Kevin Barry was given a blue-leaded pencil and paper with which to write his last letter : "Dear Boys, I had quite a crowd of visitors today and a crowd from the college prayed and sang outside the gates but perhaps you were there. Well boys, we have seen some good times, and I have always considered myself lucky to have such a crowd of pals. It's the only thing which makes it hard to go, the fact of leaving you chaps and other friends behind. Now I charge you thank anybody you know for me, who has had masses etc said. Everybody has been awfully decent and I can assure you I appreciate it. Also say just a few more prayers when I go over, and then you can rest. Your pal, Kevin." As he was writing that last letter, Father Francis Browne SJ, a teacher at Belvedere College, cycled to the Vice Regal lodge in Dublin's Phoenix Park to plead for Barry's life, but to no avail.

18-year-old Kevin Barry was hanged in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin on the 1st November 1920, the first republican to be executed since the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, September 13, 2017

IRELAND, 1930's : FREE STATE CAMPAIGN OF MENTAL TORTURE.

A SHORT POST...

..'cause we only finished the raffle aftermath yesterday (Tue 12th Sept) and have LOADS of other stuff to do, including helping to assemble the 'leaflet packs' -

A total of 350 'leaflet packs', comprising 1,250 printed items of a republican nature, will be distributed at the 'Eve Rally' on Sunday, 17th September 2017.

- for this event. But we couldn't let this anniversary pass without mention :

ON THIS DATE (13TH SEPTEMBER) 81 YEARS AGO : TWENTY-FOUR YEAR OLD IRISH REPUBLICAN KILLS HIMSELF OVER MENTAL TORTURE BY FREE STATERS.

'In fond and loving memory of Seán Glynn, Captain Mid-Limerick Brigade IRA, 69 Pennywell Road, Limerick, who died in Arbour Hill Detention Barracks, Dublin, Sunday 13th Sep 1936, aged 24 years. Jesus Mercy Mary help..' - inscription on the grave (pictured, left) of Seán Glynn, who was born into a strong republican family in 1911 and, on leaving school, began work as a labourer. In 1930 he joined the IRA and was known to be a committed Volunteer. He rose through the ranks and soon became O/C of 'B' Company of the Mid-Limerick Brigade, a position previously held by his father, John Glynn, during the early 1920's.

In 1936, the Free State government had banned the Wolfe Tone Commemoration at Bodenstown and ordered contingents of its police and troops to block all approaches to Bodenstown. In Limerick, approximately 30 republicans, including Seán Glynn, commandeered a Limerick County Council lorry and headed for Bodenstown. They were apprehended at Dunkerrin, County Offaly and subsequently sentenced to prison terms ranging from 6 to 18 months (Seán was sentenced to nine months imprisonment). The prisoners were committed to Arbour Hill Military Prison, where the Free State Army ran an exceptionally harsh regime, including a policy of strict silence (the screws actually wore rubber-soled shoes, to ensure that they could 'appear as if from nowhere' in an attempt to frighten the prisoners), which was brutally enforced. The Fianna Fail administration had warned that Arbour Hill "was no longer (sic) going to be a holiday camp or hotel for republican prisoners".

Conditions in the prison were grim - Free State military guards kept the republican prisoners in solitary confinement and they were punished for trying to speak or otherwise communicate with each other ; the prison was said to be like a tomb, and the system was intended to drive men insane and in some cases succeeded. Several men never recovered from their months of solitude even if they did manage to preserve their sanity. These were the conditions that drove Seán Glynn, serving nine months for IRA membership - who had been in perfect mental health prior to his arrest - first insane and then, on Sunday, September 13th 1936 - 81 years ago, on this date - to take his own life (another IRA prisoner, Christy Aherne, had attempted to kill himself a few months earlier, for the same reason).

A subsequent inquest and commission of inquiry into his death found that he had been driven insane by the 'silent-system' in Arbour Hill. After his death, somewhat more humane (but by no means 'pleasant') conditions prevailed for the remaining prisoners. Two days after his death, Seán Glynn was buried in the Republican Plot in Mount St Laurence's Cemetery in Limerick.

At 24 years of age, he was driven to take his own life on September 13th, 1936, by a Fianna Fail administration : driven to suicide by concocted prison conditions, Arbour Hill Barracks, Dublin. Rest In Peace.

Thanks for reading - hope to see some of ye at Croke Park this Sunday, 17th : I'll be one of those on 'leaflet duty'!

Sharon.






Monday, September 11, 2017

MENTALLY TORTURED UNTIL HE COULD TAKE NO MORE.

FALLING VICTIM TO A POLITICALLY ENFORCED TORTURE SYSTEM.

The IRA campaign, 1930's : conditions in that prison were grim for the Irish republican prisoners - the reigning political regime had ordered the screws (military guards) to keep the republican prisoners in solitary confinement and to punish them if they attempted to speak or otherwise communicate with each other. The prison was said to be like a tomb- it was a prison system designed to drive men insane and in some cases it succeeded. Several men never recovered from the forced solitude even if some of them did manage to preserve their sanity. But an IRA prisoner, in his early 20's, was to not only fall victim to that 'silent system' but to posthumously effect change within it, too...

(MORE ON WEDNESDAY, 13TH SEPTEMBER 2017).


Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, September 06, 2017

"WE LACK NERVE, WE LACK AUDACITY, WE LACK NATIONAL PRIDE..."

ANNUAL EVE-OF-ALL-IRELAND REPUBLICAN RALLY 2017.

'GAA : Target of British Normalisation.

This Year the annual All Ireland Rally will be at the door of Croke Park. On Sunday September 17th 2017, at 12 noon, republicans will gather at Croke Park to distribute leaflets highlighting the GAA top brass quisling actions in recent times. Everything from selling broadcasting rights of championship matches to the British run Sky Sports forcing Irish people to pay to view matches to the removal of Rule 21 and the RUC/PSNI and British Army setting up teams needs to be opposed.

Republican Sinn Féin will not stay silent, we have GAA members across the entire country sickened with the direction being taken. Next on the agenda of 'normalisation' will be the removal of the National Anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann, and the National Flag to appease British Loyalists. The GAA is for everyone in Ireland, it was founded side by side in the struggle for Irish independence. Whatever small degree was achieved the GAA stood out as a beacon of light of Irish culture, identity and community spirit. This is now being targetted by the counter-revolutionaries trying to bring about an 'agreed Ireland' fully welded to British constitutionalism...'
(from here.).

Change in format, this year, for the event - from O'Connell Street in Dublin city centre to the actual sports venue itself, Croke Park - but the objective remains the same ; to highlight the continuing unwelcome political and military presence by Westminster in this country and to garner further support for the continuing campaign highlighting the republican position that support for that unwelcome presence, from any quarter, will be protested against.

'One of the largest public rallies seen in Dublin for years was held by Sinn Féin at the GPO on the eve of the All-Ireland Football Final. Headed by a Colour Party and a pipe band, a parade of more than 2,000 people marched from Parnell Square through the main city thoroughfare as a protest against the continued unjust imprisonment of Irishmen without charge or trial. Contingents from all over the country took part and many carried banners and placards including groups from England and Scotland. In the Ulster section was a strong representation of the Derry supporters who thronged the capital city for the Final. One placard they carried asked - "Why are Six-County Nationalists interned in the Curragh?" ' (From 'An tÉireannach Aontaithe/The United Irishman' newspaper, November 1958).

SUNDAY, 17TH SEPTEMBER 2017, CROKE PARK, 12 NOON - see you there!





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.

He stresses how conscious he is of the need to improve Dublin - just because he is from the country, he says, doesn't mean that he doesn't regard it as his capital city. He regards it with the same sense of propriety that he regards 'his' Custom House and is, he says, acutely aware of the irony that responsibility for "restoring" it rests with him, a countryman.

He has taken to going for early morning strolls along O'Connell Street to see "what improvements" could be made and, one morning, a number of people recognised him and stopped to talk. They wanted to express their concern that a Nelson's Pillar-type column would be re-erected on the street. The idea for the column came from the Metropolitan Streets Committee set up earlier this year by John Boland with the task of revitalising Dublin, and abolished by Padraig Flynn, as an unnecessary body.

He has taken a direct, personal interest in plans for the construction of banks, hotels, apartments and 'centre city' housing schemes on the disused 27 acre dock site adjacent to the Custom House. He has already had talks with Irish and international agencies who are interested in investing in the project but refuses to specify what international interests are involved. People can take his word for it. He wasn't "talking to ghosts..." (MORE LATER).





ON THIS DATE (6TH SEPTEMBER) 77 YEARS AGO : REPUBLICANS EXECUTED BY DE VALERA.

Tom Harte and Paddy McGrath (left), two Irish republicans executed on the 6th September 1940 - 77 years ago on this date - by a Free State firing squad, commanded (politically) by a man that once (allegedly) supported their objectives - Eamonn de Valera.

'On 16 August 1940 the Special Branch raided 98a Rathgar Road in Dublin. The shop had been watched for some time and was thought to be an IRA training centre. In an effort to be first to catch the IRA, Sergeant Denny O’Brien decided to go in before his competitors in the Special Branch could get the credit and reward money from the slush fund, which was distributed periodically among zealous and particularly efficient officers. Inside the building Patrick McGrath, Tommy Harte and Tom Hunt were determined not to give up without a fight. Bursting out of the door firing revolvers and a Tommy gun, they cut down three Special Branch men, killing Sergeant Patrick McKeown and Detective Richard Hyland and wounding Detective Pat Brady. The three IRA volunteers raced down the street away from the stunned detectives who then opened fire and hit Harte. When McGrath went back to help him, both were arrested. Hunt managed to elude police until 22 August when he was arrested in a house on Gloucester Street. The Military Court sentenced McGrath, Hunt and Harte to death. Despite appeals, and McGrath’s Easter Week record, only Hunt’s sentence was commuted. McGrath and Harte were executed by firing squad in Mountjoy on 6 September 1940...' (from here).

And this (from here) - 'On 16th August 1940, Special Branch officers, led by Denny O’Brien, stormed 98a Rathgar Road, guns blazing, hoping to get reward money from a slush fund used to encourage similar raids against known IRA bases. In the ensuing gun battle, two branch men were killed, Sergeant McKeown and Detective Hyland, and a third wounded. An IRA staff officer, Thomas Harte from Lurgan, was wounded and captured along with a senior IRA officer Paddy McGrath who had broken free but returned to assist Harte...according to Donnacha Ó Beacháin (in 'Destiny of the Soldiers'), there were no autopsies held on McKeown or Hyland. An internal inquiry into the shooting was reportedly suppressed by Gerry Boland, the Minister for Justice...nevertheless, McGrath and Harte were tried by the Military Tribunal, which could only impose a death penalty and had just had its right of appeal removed...without an autopsy or forensic evidence, there was no attempt to establish who had fired shots (and the suppressed internal inquiry was claimed to have identified that McKeown and Hyland were killed by 'friendly’ fire')...'

Tom Harte was born in Lurgan, County Armagh, on the 14th of May, 1916 (the day before the trial of Roger Casement was to begin in London - he was charged with 'high treason' for his part in the Easter Rising), and had three brothers and two sisters. He received his primary education in St Peters School in Lurgan and, on leaving there, became an apprentice painter to Charlie McIntyre. He joined the IRA and went to England as part of the 'Expeditionary Force' to take part in the bombing campaign - he was in London in 1939 with Arthur Conway when he was pulled in for questioning by the British police. He told them his name was Tom Green, from Baileborough in Cavan, but was still deported to Dublin. Once back in Ireland, he worked as an organiser for the GHQ Staff of the IRA, and was wounded when the Staters raided a shop at 98a Rathgar Road in Dublin on the 15th of August, 1940. He was executed, at 24 years of age, in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin by a Fianna Fail-organised firing squad on September 6th, 1940 - 77 years ago on this date. In his last letter, which was addressed to his mother, he wrote -

"I am writing my last letter to you, because I thought more of you than any other person on earth..you know I was always strongly republican, was always thinking out ways and means of furthering republican ideals..if I fought for my country, it was for the poor downtrodden people of Ireland..I knew I never showed my feelings much at any time, but you were always loved just the same..I am going to finish now, asking you to remember me as a son you can be proud of. Say farewell to all for me. Goodbye and God bless you all, your loving son, Tom." In 1948, the remains of Tom Harte were re-interred in the Republican Plot at St. Colemans Cemetery in Lurgan, County Armagh, following an oration by Ruaidhrí Ó Drisceoil of Cork, who finished his speech with the following poem -

'Prepare once more, march forth again

to fight and play your part

in Ireland's fight for Ireland's right

like Captain Thomas Harte.'


Paddy McGrath was born into an old Dublin republican family and took part in the 1916 Rising, as did two of his brothers. He was sent to Frongoch Internment Camp after the Rising and served his time there with, among others, Michael Collins, Gerry Boland (who signed the execution order on Paddy in 1940) and Dinny O'Brien (who, years later, as a member of the Free State 'Broy Harriers', was to lead the raid on Rathgar Road in Dublin , in August 1940, in which Paddy McGrath was arrested). Following the Treaty of Surrender in 1922, Paddy took the republican side, as he did in the Civil War ; indeed, he carried a bullet in his chest from a British soldier, when he was shot at the GPO in 1916 - it was too close to his heart to be removed. He undertook a hunger-strike in Mountjoy Prison with Dick MacCarthy, Jer Daly and Jack Lynch to obtain political status and they were released, after 42 days,unconditionally. Paddy was brought to a shop in Rathgar Road in Dublin on August 15th 1940, by the then IRA Chief of Staff, Stephen Hayes, for a meeting with Tom Harte and Tom Hunt ; the meeting was raided by Free State forces, led by ex-IRA man Dinny O'Brien. Paddy McGrath escaped but, instead of making a run for it which he could have, he went back to comfort his friend, Tom Harte, who had been shot. The two of them were arrested together and were later put to death together by a Free State firing squad.

Tom McGrath was known to be an uncompromising Irish republican who rejected 'positions of power' which were offered to him by de Valera and would not have appreciated the fact that his sister, Josephine, wrote a 'mercy letter' to de Valera in August 1940, in which she stated - "..it is unbelievable that I should have to appeal for my brother's life to you, who was once his comrade-in-arms.."

A well-known Irish republican of the time (and still remembered by the Movement to this day), Brian O'Higgins (pictured, left), wrote in the 1950 edition of 'The Wolfe Tone Annual' -

"On September 18th 1948, the bodies of Patrick McGrath, Thomas Harte, George Plant, Richard Goss, Maurice O'Neill and Charles Kerins were disinterred in prison yards and given to their comrades and relatives for re-burial among their own. These men were condemned to death and put to death as criminals, as outlaws, as enemies of Ireland. Today, that judgement and verdict is reversed, even by those who were and are their opponents, and they are acknowledged to be what we have always claimed them to have been - true comrades of Tone, of Emmet, of Mitchel, of the Fenians, and of all the heroic dead of our own day and generation. There was no bitterness in their hearts towards any man or group of men, no meanness in their minds, no pettiness or brutality in their actions. They were, and are, worthy to rank with the greatest and noblest of our dead, and the younger men we salute and pray for and do homage to today are worthy to be their comrades.

The only shame to be thought of in connection with those republicans is that Irishmen slew them and slandered them, as Irishmen had slain and slandered the men of 1922, for the 'crime' of being faithful soldiers of the Republic of Ireland. Let us remember that shame only as an incentive to action and conduct that will make recurrence of it impossible ever again. Wolfe Tone built his plan for true independence on the resistance tradition of all the centuries from the beginning of the conquest to his own day, and these men who were his faithful followers, knew no plan but his would ever end English domination in Ireland.

Those who would make all Ireland free must follow in his and their footsteps or fail. Men talk foolishly today, as they and others have talked for many futile years, of 'declaring' the Republic of Ireland. There is no need to declare it. Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet founded it and made it known to the world. Daniel O'Connell reviled and repudiated it, but John Mitchel and Fintan Lalor stood beneath its banner and gave it their allegiance. The Fenians made it articulate and preserved it through two generations until the men and women of 1916 proclaimed it in arms. The whole people of Ireland accepted it a few years later, giving it the most unanimous vote that has ever been cast in this country, and it was established and declared on January 21st, 1919. It has never been dis-established since, but it has been suppressed by falsehood and by force, and it is suppressed at this moment. Against that force and falsehood, against that unjust and unlawful suppression, the men we honour today - Patrick McGrath, Thomas Harte, George Plant, Richard Goss, Maurice O'Neill and Charles Kerins - did battle unto death. Their blood cries out for only one vengeance - the restoration of the suppressed Republic of Ireland."


Those two brave Irish republican soldiers were executed by their former comrades on this date, 6th September, 77 years ago (incidentally, Paddy McGrath was de Valera's best man at his wedding...).





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 continued lack of an Irish Press Office to present the Irish position to the world, means that events in Ireland - the plight of Irish citizens, scandals like the Stalker-Sampson report etc - are never related to the world from an Irish viewpoint. The Irish viewpoint is thus ignored and in some way we are now ashamed of it. The escalated, incessant harassment of Irish citizens by the British troops gets little or no coverage in the southern media.

The media is paranoically anxious not to be seen to be siding with Sinn Féin, just as their counterparts were in 1914-1922. It is as if Irish perception of Irish-related events signifies nothing, as if the Irish reality eludes us. As if in some way we do not want to take full responsibility for our own being, but instead are still hiding behind the 'poor little nation' cushion. We lack nerve, we lack audacity, we lack national pride. I do not speak of jingoism, but of a solid strengthening mórtas cine (pride in one’s heritage). This the English have never lost - who in Ireland talks of Irish values as being something we have historically found out to be good for us? We sadly lack what the English call 'backbone'.

Irish politicians, like a lot of others in England, Scotland and Wales, were anti-Mrs Thatcher's policies, but no one in Ireland discusses Tom Nairn's scenario of the possible break-up of the British hegemony, the possible secession of Scotland and the effect this might have here. (MORE LATER).






ON THIS DATE (6TH SEPTEMBER) 204 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF A 'HOME RULER'.

ISAAC BUTT (1813-1879) POLITICIAN, BARRISTER AND PHILOSOPHER (pictured, left).

'Isaac Butt was born in Glenfin, Donegal, on the 6th September 1813 - 204 years ago on this date. His father, the Reverend Robert Butt, became Rector of St. Mary's Church of Ireland, Stranorlar in 1814 so Isaac spent his childhood years in Stranorlar. His mother's maiden name was Berkeley Cox and she claimed descendency from the O'Donnells. When Isaac was aged twelve he went as a boarder to the Royal School Raphoe and at the age of fifteen entered Trinity College Dublin.

He trained as a barrister and became a member of both the Irish Bar and the English Bar. He was a conservative lawyer but after the famine in the 1840's became increasingly liberal. In 1852 he became Tory MP at Westminster representing Youghal, Co. Cork and in 1869 he founded the Tenant League to renew the demand for tenant rights. He was a noted orator who spoke fervently for justice, tolerance, compassion and freedom. He always defended the poor and the oppressed.

He started the Home Rule Movement in 1870 and in 1871 was elected MP for Limerick, running on a Home Rule ticket. He founded a political party called The Home Rule Party in 1873. By the mid 1870s Butt's health was failing and he was losing control of his party to a section of its members who wished to adopt a much more aggressive approach than he was willing to accept. In 1879 he suffered a stroke from which he failed to recover and died on the 5th May in Clonskeagh, Dublin. He was replaced by William Shaw who was succeeded by Charles Stewart Parnell in 1880. Isaac Butt became known as "The Father of Home Rule in Ireland". At his express wish he is buried in a corner of Stranorlar Church of Ireland cemetery, beneath a tree where he used to sit and dream as a boy.'
(from here.)

On the 18th November, 1873, a three-day conference was convened in Dublin to discuss the issue of 'home rule' for Ireland. The conference had been organised, in the main, by Isaac Butt's then 3-year-old 'Home Government Association', and was attended by various individuals and small localised groups who shared an interest in that subject. Isaac Butt was a well-known Dublin barrister who was apparently viewed with some suspicion by 'his own type' - Protestants - as he was a pillar of the Tory society in Ireland before recognising the ills of that creed and converting, politically, to the 'other side of the house' - Irish nationalism, a 'half way house', if even that - then and now - between British imperialism and Irish republicanism ie Isaac Butt and those like him made it clear that they were simply agitating for an improved position for Ireland within the 'British empire', as opposed to Irish republicans who were demanding then, and now, a British military and political withdrawal from Ireland.

Over that three-day period the gathering agreed to establish a new organisation, to be known as the 'Home Rule League',and the minutes from the conference make for interesting reading as they highlight/expose the request for the political 'half way house', mentioned above - 'At twelve o'clock, on the motion of George Bryan, M.R, seconded by Hon. Charles Ffrench, M.P., the Chair was taken by William Shaw, M.R. On the motion of the Rev. P. Lavelle, seconded by Laurence Waldron, D.L., the following gentlemen were appointed Honorary Secretaries : — John O.Blunden, Philip Callan M.P, W.J.O'Neill Daunt, ER King Harman and Alfred Webb. ER King Harman read the requisition convening the Conference, as follows : —

We, the undersigned feel bound to declare our conviction that it is necessary to the peace and prosperity of Ireland, and would be conducive to the strength and stability of the United Kingdom, that the right of domestic legislation on all Irish affairs should be restored to our country and that it is desirable that Irishmen should unite to obtain that restoration upon the following principles : To obtain for our country the right and privilege of managing our own affairs, by a Parliament assembled in Ireland, composed of her Majesty the Sovereign, and the Lords and Commons of Ireland.

To secure for that Parliament, under a Federal arrangement, the right of legislating for, and regulating all matters relating to the internal affairs of Ireland, and control over Irish resources and revenues, subject to the obligation of contributing our just proportion of the Imperial expenditure. To leave to an Imperial Parliament the power of dealing with all questions affecting the Imperial Crown and Government, legislation regarding the Colonies and other dependencies of the Crown, the relations of the United Empire with Foreign States, and all matters appertaining to the defence and the stability of the Empire at large....'
(from here.)

The militant 'Irish Republican Brotherhood' (IRB) was watching those developments with interest and it was decided that Patrick Egan and three other members of the IRB Supreme Council - John O'Connor Power, Joseph Biggar and John Barry - would join the 'Home Rule League' with the intention of 'steering' that group in the direction of the IRB. Other members of the IRB were encouraged to join the 'League' as well, and a time-scale was set in which to completely infiltrate the 'League' - three years. However, that decision to infiltrate Isaac Butt's organisation was to backfire on the Irish Republican Brotherhood : the 'three-year' period of infiltration ended in 1876 and in August 1877 the IRB Supreme Council held a meeting at which a resolution condemning the over-involvement in politics (ie political motions etc rather than military action) of IRB members was discussed ; after heated arguments, the resolution was agreed and passed by the IRB Council, but not everyone accepted that decision and Patrick Egan, John O'Connor Power, Joseph Biggar and John Barry refused to accept the decision and all four men resigned from the IRB.

Isaac Butt died in 1879 and, within twelve months, Charles Stewart Parnell was elected as leader of the 'Home Rule League' and it became a more organised body - two years later, Parnell renamed it the 'Irish Parliamentary Party' and the rest, as they say, is history...





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!

THE CO-OP.

Paddy kept hammering away for hours about how he was convinced the screws had stole the cake. "Paddy, forget it, said Stuarty, "we'll find out on your next visit." Smig spoke then - "I just had a brilliant idea. Paddy, write to your mother and tell her to get the same cake as she got this week (chocolate sandwich), take the top off, scrape off the cream and smear vaseline all over it, then replace the top part and send it in. That'll sicken the screws who are stealing your cakes."

"I don't know," said Paddy, "why ruin a good cake?" "What's the difference - we're not going to see it or taste it anyway!", added 'Lettuce-Black', one of our lads. The OC was informed of the plan - "There's an evil genius in our midst", he said, and then turned to me and whispered in my ear "You're one bad bastard!"

The letter was written by Paddy, albeit reluctantly and, the following Monday morning, it was transferred from Honky's Y-Fronts to Alice's bloomers and smuggled out on a visit. We awaited developments... (MORE LATER).





ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (WEDNESDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER 2017)...

..we should be just about finished our multitasking job - this Sunday coming (the 10th September) will find me and the raffle team in our usual monthly venue on the Dublin/Kildare border, running a 650-ticket raffle for the Dublin Comhairle of RSF.

Work for this event began yesterday, Tuesday 5th September, 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 will be, as stated, held on Sunday 10th September, 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 (13th September) 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. But check back here anyway - sure you never know what might catch our fancy between this and then, time permitting...!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.