" A wealth of information..."

"1169 And Counting is a wealth of information on our Republican past and present , and demonstrates how the Irish political landscape , like that of any nation, will never be a black and white issue..."

(From the ‘e-Thursday’ section of the ‘Business Week’ supplement of the ‘Irish Independent’ , 21st August 2008.)



This blog was listed as one of the 'Finalists' in the '2016 current affairs/politics' category of the Littlewoods Ireland blog awards - but we didn't win the award. Ah well! Thanks to everyone involved for getting us to the final stage of the competition and sure we'll try again next year!

Friday, February 11, 2005

'THE PRESS' Newspaper , October 1797 - March 1798 .
Too Radical for the Radicals .......

....... the two 'main men' behind ' The Press' newspaper were Arthur O'Connor and 'Lord' Edward Fitzgerald .......


'Lord' Edward Fitzgerald was born on 15th October 1763 , in Carton House , County Kildare ; he was the 12th child of the first 'Duke' of Leinster and Emilia Mary , who was the daughter of the 'Duke' of Richmond .

At 16 years young he joined the 'Sussex Militia' and was posted to America on 'active service' - he was severely wounded at the battle of Eutaw Springs , when he was 18 years young (in 1781) and returned to Ireland.

At 25 years young he went to Canada and re-joined the British Army , following which 'adventure' he again returned to Ireland and was elected as M.P. for Kildare .

The events at a political 'Dinner Party' which he attended one night was to have a profound effect on his 'career' .......

(MORE LATER).


A STICKY END.......
Rise and decline of the 'Officials' .
No by-line.
First published in 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , No. 2 , November 1981 , pages 76 and 77.

Re-published here in 8 parts .
(5 of 8).

The logic of this course was to become ' Sinn Fein-The Workers Party' in 1977 and one wonders why they did not drop the Sinn Fein tag altogether . The collapse of this reformist course came in the 1981 local elections in the North when they lost their three seats in Belfast .

In their journal 'Workers Life' [June 1981] they say that this was due to " an assault from two ultra-left groupings .... " referring to the two councillors elected for 'Peoples Democracy' and IRSP on a H-Block ticket : the remaining 'Sticky' prisoners had long since been disowned by their organisation .

But , bemoaning the fate of Gerry Fitt who lost his seat , they say that the results " indicate a sharp swing to the right in the Roman Catholic ghettoes ....... "

(MORE LATER).


HAMMER AND TONGS.......
'Survivors' : collected by Uinseann MacEoin .
Reviewed by Tim Pat Coogan.

First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , December 1980 , page 53.
Re-published here in 7 parts .
(6 of 7).

Sometimes one could have done with more rather than less from some of the survivors interviewed : Sean MacBride after all was not alone a survivor but a very active and significant participant in the Clan na Poblachta Inter-Party Government era of the late 1940's and early 1950's ; his insights on this decade would have been literally priceless .

And a figure like Connie Neenan could have opened that closed treasure house of information about the activities of the Irish Hospitals Sweepstakes network in America which he and the late Joe McGrath did so much to build-up on the shoulders of the old Clan na Gael organisation .

Both as a journalist and am an amateur historian myself I feel strongly that if people of this calibre and significance are going to talk they should talk the whole way , as it were , because , in many ways , public men's lives are not really their own exclusive property .......

(MORE LATER).






Thursday, February 10, 2005

'THE PRESS' Newspaper , October 1797 - March 1798 .
Too Radical for the Radicals .......


....... in 1803 , Arthur O'Connor was deported to France , where he became a General in Napoleon's Army - he quickly rose to the rank of General-of-Division .......


Arthur O'Connor married Elisa de Condorcet , daughter of the French philospher and statesman , the Marquis de Condorcet . Arthur became known as ' General Condorcet O'Connor of the French Service' ; his wife was a niece of the Marshal de Grouchy who himself actually commanded an abortive expedition to Ireland between 1796 and 1797 to assist the Irish Rebels .

On 25th April 1852 , Arthur O'Connor died , at 92 years of age (or 87 years of age , depending on your source) . Arthur had a brother , Roger (1763-1834) , who was also a barrister , and was a member of the United Irishmen , too - and , like Arthur , Roger O'Connor had 'done time' for 'membership' in Fort George Prison , in Scotland . And full marks to that side of the O'Connor (Conner) Clan - a thorn in the side of the Brits ! :


' There's not an Irishman today would ever wish to roam
unto a foreign land to live , if he could live at home ,
So give us our liberty , let our banners be unfurled -
In Ireland , then , her children shall prove a credit to the world ! '

The other 'main man' behind the launch of 'The Press' newspaper was 'Lord' Edward Fitzgerald , an interesting character .......

(MORE LATER).


A STICKY END.......
Rise and decline of the 'Officials' .
No by-line.
First published in 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , No. 2 , November 1981 , pages 76 and 77.

Re-published here in 8 parts .
(4 of 8).

On this basis Hitler's Third Reich was also 'legitimate' ; the 'two nations' theory was , of course , one of the reactionary justifications for partition - loyalists had ' the right to national self-determination ' .

However , this theory has absolutely no historical or practical validity , it is just an imperialist smoke-screen to maintain an anti-Nationalist 'beachhead' in Ireland . As the 1970's wore on , the 'Officials' settled down to an electoralist path , regularly running candidates in the North and South , and trying to win official positions in the trade unions .

In the North , particularly , they entered enthusiastically into local councils , trying to replicate William Walker's 'gas and water socialism' , so soundly criticised by James Connolly .......

(MORE LATER).


HAMMER AND TONGS.......
'Survivors' : collected by Uinseann MacEoin .
Reviewed by Tim Pat Coogan.

First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , December 1980 , page 53.
Re-published here in 7 parts .
(5 of 7).

But it is important to remember that , for example , my generation born in the mid-thirties , was the first to emerge into the political arena in which the old 'catch-cries' about "Blueshirts" , "the 77" , "the Treaty" , "the Oath " and the rest of it began to be overlain by debate about the new men and the new ideas that Sean Lemass , Ken Whitaker , and Sean O Connchubair brought forward and thereby allowed the careers of contemporary figures such as Charles Haughey to take their rise .

But it was this earlier feeling of bitterness which shaped and mis-shaped the political and economic climate in which we were brought up ; not that all the memories are bitter . The phenomenal Sean MacBride , for instance , is his usual urbane and multi-faceted self and the memoirs of Sighle Ui Dhonnchadaha , May Dalaigh , Eithne Coyle and indeed of all the women generally , are a joy .

Then , to the left , the recollection of Frank Edwards and John Swift cannot be faulted on the grounds of either objectivity or clarity or charity .......

(MORE LATER).






Wednesday, February 09, 2005

'THE PRESS' Newspaper , October 1797 - March 1798 .
Too Radical for the Radicals .......


....... in January 1799 , Arthur O'Connor was locked-up in Fort George Prison in Scotland - the Brits left him there , without a 'trial' , for three years and two months .......


Then , in March 1802 , as one of the conditions insisted on by the French under the 'Peace Of Amiens' Treaty (signed between the French and the British on 25th March 1802) the Irish political prisoners in Fort George were released .

Incidentally - under the 'Peace Of Amiens' Treaty , the Brits agreed to relinquish 'control' over all the territories they had 'taken' , except for two - Trinidad and Ceylon . In return , France agreed to evacuate Italy ; if only Ireland had been part of that deal .... missed opportunity !

In 1803 , Arthur O'Connor was deported to France , where he became a General in Napoleon's Army ; within two years he had risen to the rank of General-of-Division . He was to marry into a family which had attempted to assist the Irish fight for freedom by leading an armed expedition to Ireland .......

(MORE LATER).


A STICKY END.......
Rise and decline of the 'Officials' .
No by-line.
First published in 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , No. 2 , November 1981 , pages 76 and 77.

Re-published here in 8 parts .
(3 of 8).

Reaction throughout Ireland to the heroic hunger-strikers shows how real the question of British imperialism is - the 'Officials' now refer to " a mythical national question ... " diverting our attention from the 'real' (?) issues .

By 1972 , the 'Officials' had declared a unilateral ceasefire on the grounds that a continued military campaign would cause sectarian conflict ; it is hard to take this justification seriously . The Six County 'State' was built on sectarian discrimination and thrived on it until the 1970's when the final stage of the liberation struggle began .

Sectarian conflict is there because British imperialism built up a pro-imperialist minority in Ireland with the crumbs from its imperial table - the Labour 'aristocracy' .

The truth is that by this stage the 'Officials' , or 'Sticks' as they became known , had moved towards ' a two nations' theory . The collapse of Stormont in March 1972 , which was a great victory for the risen Nationalist people , was bemoaned by them because Loyalists saw it as their institution and hence it was 'legitimate' ('1169...' Comment - note that it is now the Provos themselves who " bemoan .... the collapse of Stormont ... " ; what a tangled web etc !!) .......

(MORE LATER).


HAMMER AND TONGS.......
'Survivors' : collected by Uinseann MacEoin .
Reviewed by Tim Pat Coogan.

First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , December 1980 , page 53.
Re-published here in 7 parts .
(4 of 7).


Uinseann MacEoin deliberately chose to interview those who had been on the Republican side in the Civil War ; I don't know whether this is intended to convey to the reader that the people he interviewed were not 'coloured' by the 'great parting' but I feel that he made a mistake in not including the Free Staters .

They were Irishmen too and fought gallantly during the Anglo/Irish War ; they did not become retrospectively less patriotic , or in some way reverse their earlier roles by the choices made . It would have been illuminating and balancing if the interviews had been carried out on both sides .

But even the note of bitterness which some of the survivors occasionally strike in ungenerous references to their opponents will be salutory in reminding younger readers of what the post Civil War bitterness was like . Obviously , reading of the executions carried out during the Civil War against Republicans , this generation is going to have an insight into why such feelings are still held by old men .......

(MORE LATER).






Tuesday, February 08, 2005

'THE PRESS' Newspaper , October 1797 - March 1798 .
Too Radical for the Radicals .......

....... both Arthur O'Connor and 'Lord' Edward Fitzgerald were in favour of staging an immediate armed Rising in Ireland against British mis-rule ; but Thomas Addis Emmet , amongst others that were also in the leadership of the United Irishmen organisation , were not so sure .......


Thomas Addis Emmet managed to convince the United Irishmen leadership that they should hold-off on an armed Rising and , again , seek French help . Arthur O'Connor was sent to France to plead the Irish case - but he never got there .

Whilst passing through Margate , in England , he was arrested by British police , 'tried' in May 1798 (in Maidstone - having been charged with "talk or action exciting discontent or rebellion .... " ie 'sedition') but found 'Not Guilty' ! He was released .... only to be immediately re-arrested , transported to Kilmainham Jail in Dublin and charged , again , with ' sedition ' .

Probably fearful of a second 'trial' - or maybe they just did'nt give a damn either way ! - the Brits held Arthur O'Connor , without 'trial' , for seven months (ie until January 1799) and then moved him to Fort George Prison in Scotland .

A cell in that prison became his 'home' for the following three years and two months .......

(MORE LATER).


A STICKY END.......
Rise and decline of the 'Officials' .
No by-line.
First published in 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , No. 2 , November 1981 , pages 76 and 77.

Re-published here in 8 parts .
(2 of 8).

In 1970 , the media attached the titles of Sinn Fein 'Provisional' and 'Official' which have stuck . The Provisionals have moved ahead to become the undisputed Republican Movement , whereas the Officials have written themselves out of the republican tradition . How did this happen ?

In 1971 , the Officials still posed as a revolutionary current ; in their journal 'Teoiric' (No. 1 , Summer 1971) we already see the seeds of their future trajectory -

- " There is a danger that our fight to establish ourselves among the people , and in our fight to establish the rights of the people .... we would tend to ignore ... the question of National Independence . " This is precisely what was happening .

Uniting Protestant and Catholic workers is something we all want to see , but it cannot be done by ignoring the partition of our country and the presence of British imperialism here . Likewise , taking up 'day to day' issues does not mean setting aside the question of British troops on our streets , which is very much a 'day to day' question for many people .......('1169...' Comment : ironic , now , that the Provos are doing just that - because that's where their 'votes' are ie in 'local issues' like street lighting , trimmimg grass verges in housing estates etc . They have abandoned a 'Brits Out' policy in favour of the 'nationalist'-type agenda of "let them stay if they want , just as long as they treat us better" !)

(MORE LATER).


HAMMER AND TONGS.......
'Survivors' : collected by Uinseann MacEoin .
Reviewed by Tim Pat Coogan.

First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , December 1980 , page 53.
Re-published here in 7 parts .
(3 of 7).

Tomas O Maoileoin's (Sean Forde's) fascinating if sometimes chilling account of his IRA connection ends as follows -

- " I must say after a lifetime of struggle on behalf of Irish culture and freedom for the Irish people , I see no differences in the fighting being waged against England's domination of this country today and the fight we fought in Westmeath in 1916 and in East Limerick in 1920 and 1921 . As far as I am concerned they are the same people at grips with the same enemy . "

That is the voice of the physical force tradition in Irish politics . Other voices include Frank Edwards , Peadar O'Donnell , Sean McBride , Connie Neenan , Eithne Coyle , Sighle Bean Ui Dhonnchadha , Tom Maguire and many more . There are in fact some two dozen in all .

Uinseann MacEoin says in his preface that he deliberately chose people who had been on the Republican side in the Civil War because if he had chosen people who " at the great parting had gone Free State , much of their story would undoubtedly be coloured to account for it ....... "

(MORE LATER).






Monday, February 07, 2005

'THE PRESS' Newspaper , October 1797 - March 1798 .
Too Radical for the Radicals .......

....... two well-known Irish Rebels were the 'main men' behind the launch of the ' The Press ' newspaper in October 1797 : Arthur O'Connor and 'Lord' Edward Fitzgerald .......


Arthur O'Connor (born Arthur O'Conner) was a Cork man ; he was a barrister and an M.P. in Westminster - and a member of the United Irishmen . In June of 1796 he travelled to Paris , France , with Edward Fitzgerald and Wolfe Tone to seek assistance from the French Directory (Revolutionary Government) for an armed Rising in Ireland .

The French agreed , which led to the 21st December 1796 'Hoche Expedition' of thirty-five ships which failed to land in Ireland due to a storm . But Arthur O'Connor did not give up ; Edward Fitzgerald and O'Connor were amongst those in the United Irishmen organisation who pushed repeatedly for an armed Rising against the British .

As prominent members of the Leinster Directory of the United Irishmen , both men had 'pull' in Rebel circles ; but so had those who were not in favour of staging an armed campaign at that particular time , notably Thomas Addis Emmet .......

(MORE LATER).


A STICKY END.
Rise and decline of the 'Officials' .
No by-line.
First published in 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , No. 2 , November 1981 , pages 76 and 77.

Re-published here in 8 parts .
(1 of 8).

In August 1969 , the Nationalist ghettos of Belfast were virtually defenceless when a fierce Orange pogrom was unleashed . This was mainly the result of a turn by the Republican Movement of the time towards social and economic agitation (quite laudable in itself) but which also meant a total run-down of the military organisation .

On top of this , the reformist and electoral direction of the Movement was taking it towards recognition of the puppet parliaments of the twenty-six counties (Leinster House) and the six counties (Stormont). ('1169...' Comment - NOTE : the above WAS penned in November 1981 - but could have been written today in relation to the Provisional movement !)

By the end of 1969 , militant Republicans in the North were beginning to reform the IRA , supported by people up and down the country . The split-off of the reformist elements was consumated in 1970 .......

(MORE LATER).


HAMMER AND TONGS.......
'Survivors' : collected by Uinseann MacEoin .
Reviewed by Tim Pat Coogan.

First published in 'MAGILL' magazine , December 1980 , page 53.
Re-published here in 7 parts .
(2 of 7).

Tomas O Maoileoin ('Sean Forde') , Commandant General of the IRA , was tortured after being captured while attemptiung to take on a group of four armed Black and Tans with his bare hands . He was part of the 'school' of Irish Republicanism which could endure - but would also inflict , as this anecdote concerning his escape from Spike Island illustrates -

- " Half creeping , half running , I made up the slope to him . He saw me alright , but he had no bullet up the breech of his rifle , and he did not know but that this might be a game . When he attempted to pull the bolt , I was already upon him , expertly swinging the hammer at his temple .

I had to prevent a shot being fired , or the whole barracks would be alerted . He went down pole-axed . To make sure , I struck his head a second blow ....... "

(MORE LATER).