Saturday, March 08, 2008

"...disease, together with the privations of other kinds which they endure, before long carry them off.."

Mass evictions or "clearances" will forever be associated with the 'Great Hunger' in Ireland : "It has been estimated that, excluding peaceable surrenders, over a quarter of a million people were evicted between 1849 and 1854. The total number of people who had to leave their holdings in the period is likely to be around half a million and 200,000 small holdings were obliterated ."
Under a law imposed in 1847, called the "Gregory Clause", no tenant holding more than a quarter acre of land was eligible for public assistance. To become eligible, the tenant had to surrender his holding to his landlord. Some tenants sent their children to the workhouse as orphans so they could keep their land and still have their children fed.
Other tenants surrendered their land, but tried to remain living in the house; however, landlords would not tolerate it -
"In many thousands of cases estate-clearing landlords and agents used physical force or heavy-handed pressure to bring about the destruction of cabins which they sought."

Many others who sought entrance to the workhouses were required to return to their homes and uproot or level them. Others had their houses burned while they were away in the workhouse.

"When tenants were formally evicted, it was usually the practice of the landlord's bailiffs - his specially hired 'crowbar brigade' - to level or burn the affected dwellings there and then, as soon as the tenants effects had been removed, in the presence of a large party of soldiers or police who were likely to quell any thought of serious resistance. These helpless creatures are not only unhoused, but often driven off the land, no one remaining on the lands being allowed to lodge or harbor them. Or they, perhaps, linger about the spot, and frame some temporary shelter out of materials of their old homes against a broken wall, or behind a ditch or fence, or in a bog-hole, places unfit for human habitations .... disease, together with the privations of other kinds which they endure, before long carry them off.

As soon as one horde of houseless and all but naked paupers are dead, or provided for in the workhouse, another wholesale eviction doubles the number, who in their turn pass through the same ordeal of wandering from house to house, or burrowing in bogs or behind ditches, till broken down by privation and exposure to the elements, they seek the workhouse, or die by the roadside. There were hoards of poor on the roads every day. The Catholics who could gave some little they had to these, a saucer of oatmeal, a handful of potatoes, a drink of milk or a little bottle of sweet-milk to carry away with them. It was not unusual to see a woman with two, three or four children half-naked, come in begging for alms, and often several of these groups in one day, men too. If the men got work they worked for little or nothing and when they were no longer needed they took to the road again. These wandering groups had no homes and no shelter for the night. They slept in the barns of those that had barns on an armful of straw with a sack or sack or some such thing to cover them......."

(From here.)

It is from the likes of the above that republicanism was born : not to seek 'revenge' , but to obtain Justice. That same quest for true justice continues to this day and will continue - for as long as necessary - until the root cause of the injustice is removed .
Please help us, if you can : we are a small but significant organisation , as politically determined as we always were but we need your help.......

Go raibh maith agat!


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Following the recent publication of O'Malley's third book 'Raids And Rallies', on the Tan War years 1920-1921 , Frances-Mary Blake , who edited the book and his earlier works , writes an appreciation of the man who wrote 'On Another Man's Wound' and 'The Singing Flame'.
From 'IRIS' magazine , July 1983.

Ernie O' Malley's reputation was made while in his early twenties : by 1939 , aged 41 , he was seen as a legendary figure from the past , and at his death in 1957 'The Sunday Press' newspaper praised him as the very type of the resistance , exceptional even amongst exceptional men .

Ernest Bernard O' Malley came from a respectable and middle-class Catholic family , which accepted the Union and did well by it , yet he showed an early dislike of authority . When British King Edward VII visited Dublin to the cheers of most of his Catholic 'subjects' , the very young O' Malley refused to remove his hat and would spell 'King' with a small 'k'. The second son in a large family , he was a first-year medical student at University College Dublin when the Easter Rising first moved him towards Irish nationalism and republicanism , which he was later to define as "...not only the urge of the people to possess the soil and its products , but the free development of spiritual , cultural and imaginative qualities of the race.."

It was not a sudden conversion - no 'flash of light on the road to Damascus' , no immediate enthusiasm . Involvement and understanding came slowly out of what was at first an unwilling interest : belief grew slowly and was unencouraged by those around him , but eventually , aged just nineteen , he left home and university to become a full-time member of the IRA . And , in a sense , he would be 'on the run' for the rest of his life.......

BALLYMUN INTERVIEW....... "Ballymun is just like any other working-class area in Dublin , or even in Belfast , I suppose . It's just that Ballymun isn't houses , it's flats..."
From 'IRIS' magazine , July/August 1982.

The kids from the flats have it tough , too . 'Pat' and 'Mary' said - " There's nowhere for the kids . The flats are no place for them . You know , when there was a housing shortage they just put up this place to put all the people . It was just a dumping ground . Most people just live for pay-day and then they go out and get a few drinks . During the week most of them just stay in and watch television . The drink is a sort of safety valve for people . It's an escape , isn't it ? "

Asked about how the Catholic Church helps out in Ballymun Flats , 'Mary' replied - " The only 'facility' that's being built out here is churches . The Church control everything , even the youth clubs . They have their lackeys running things for them , but they reap the profits . We're all living in boxes - thousands of families - but the local priest's living in a house , with his housekeeper and a maid . His lackeys run the bingo for him , and they'll come around and ask us to do things like bake cakes and give them groceries , and then they'll have a garden fete or a sale of work and sell the stuff back to us again ! "

The Gardai , too , have no time and little interest in those that 'live' in the flats.......

Between December 1983 and May 1987 , over 25 republican or nationalist funerals were systematically attacked by the RUC as a matter of deliberate British policy . The objective was to drive mourners off the streets so that later Britain could claim dwindling support for republicanism as 'evidenced' by the small numbers attending IRA funerals . As Jane Plunkett reports , the opposite happened . More and more people came out to defend the remains of republican dead , the RUC were exposed as being as brutal and sectarian as ever , and these two factors , combined with damaging international news coverage , eventually forced the British government to reverse its policy of attacking republican funerals .
From 'IRIS' magazine , October 1987.

Relying on their own strength , the risen people had already shown to the world and to the British government their determination to bury their republican dead with honour and with dignity . Just as mass protest had smashed internment, just as the sacrifices of the hunger-strikers and mass protests had ended the systematic torture of republican prisoners in the H-Blocks, so once again the people had proved that courage and commitment and determination can change history and conclude successfully the long struggle for Irish freedom .

On Friday , May 8th , 1987 , republican Ireland suffered another tragic blow when eight Tyrone (PIRA Volunteers were mown down in an undercover British stake-out at Loughgall . At their funerals, the RUC were again present in large numbers but , for the most part , they kept their distance . They made no attempt to intervene when IRA guards of honour carried each Tricolour-draped coffin a short distance . Without RUC interference , the atmosphere was as it should be - quiet , dignified and respectful .


Tuesday, March 04, 2008


"Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born...."

(From here.)

Details on those in Dublin intending to commemorate this "terrible beauty" can be found here, here and here.