" 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.)



IRISH BLOG AWARDS 2017 - ooops! It seems that our entry application was "not completed in time to be considered.." (?) and, as such, we are not now in the running. But we wish all the best to the successful entrants and to the organisers, and we hope all goes well for them on the day!


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.






Tuesday, September 05, 2017

BLOOD MONEY...

..TO 'ENCOURAGE' TREACHERY.

On a Friday in August, in Dublin, in 1940, an ex-IRA man was in charge of an armed raiding party of Special Branch men as they raided a house, hoping to capture a few republicans - a 'reward' per prisoner was on offer to the raiding party by the Leinster House administration, to be paid from a special slush fund which was established to 'encourage' State operatives to be more 'productive' in that regard. But the republicans they targetted that day were also armed, and fought back - two Special Branch men were shot dead, and another one was wounded. One of the republicans was wounded, and captured, as was one of his comrades. The State refused to hold autopsies on the dead Branch men, but did hold an 'internal inquiry' into the gun battle. They then suppressed the findings of that inquiry, which was said to have shown that the State 'security' men were killed by 'friendly fire'. However, the two captured republicans were put on 'trial' by a State military tribunal, which could only impose a death penalty, and were shot dead by State representatives... (MORE ON WEDNESDAY 6TH SEPTEMBER 2017).
See you then!

Thanks, Sharon.




Wednesday, August 30, 2017

THE "GRATEFULLY OPPRESSED" WHO DON'T ASK 'AWKWARD' QUESTIONS.

ON THIS DATE (30TH AUGUST) 176 YEARS AGO : A NEW NATIONALIST VOICE IS 'PRESSED' INTO ACTION.

The front page of the first copy of 'The Cork Examiner' newspaper (left), which was produced on Monday, 30th August 1841 - 176 years ago on this date.

'The paper was founded by John Francis Maguire under the title 'The Cork Examiner' in 1841 in support of the Catholic emancipation and tenant rights work of Daniel O'Connell...the first issue of the newspaper appeared on 30 August 1841. Maguire was a barrister and an MP who supported an independent parliament for Ireland. From its inception, 'The Cork Examiner' was an advocate of constitutional nationalism. The newspaper was originally an evening paper which appeared three times weekly...the newspaper's printing presses printed the First National Loan for the Sinn Féin Finance Minister, Michael Collins, in 1919, leading to the British authorities briefly shutting down the paper. Ironically, the I.R.A. damaged the newspaper's printing presses in 1920, which were again destroyed by the anti-Treaty I.R.A. in 1922...' (from here.)

The newspaper had also found itself in difficulty in 1919 when it was closed down by Westminster for two days, in reprisal for it having published a Sinn Féin advertisement asking for donations towards a £250,000 fund that the republican organisation was trying to raise to further its objectives, and had similar trials and tribulations the following year, 1920 : when Westminster failed to get the results it wanted in the 15th January 1920 Elections in Ireland, it went to 'Plan B' - they called in British Army General 'Sir' Nevil Macready and appointed him as the 'Commander-in-Chief' of the their forces in Ireland.

General 'Sir' Nevil 'Make Ready' Macready, one of many British bully-boys inflicted on the Irish.

Macready was known to be in favour of martial law and the imposition of a complete military dictatorship on the island and, in December 1920, he told his political masters in Westminster that his "military governors" in Ireland had been given 'permission' "to inflict punishments" on the local population following any IRA operation in that local area -

"Punishments will only be carried out on the authority of the Infantry Brigadier who, before taking action, will satisfy himself that the people concerned were, owing to their proximity to the outrage or their known political tendencies, implicated in the outrage...the punishment will be carried out as a Military Operation and the reason why it is being done will be publicly proclaimed." ('1169' comment - this was, in effect, carte blanche to the British military to do as they liked in Ireland.) However, as a 'pr stunt', in the belief that he could portray himself as something other than the vicious bastard he was, Macready implemented a policy by which those to be 'punished' were given one hours notice to remove any valuable foodstuffs, hay or corn, but not furniture, from their homes, which were then reduced to rubble by the use of explosives. However , generous to a fault as Westminster was (and is...) to us Irish, a slightly different variation of this punishment was applied to those who lived in terraced houses - the furniture was to be removed from the dwelling and burned in the street!

On the 3rd January 1921, in Middleton, Cork, the British reduced seven houses to rubble "in official reprisal" for an IRA ambush carried out in the area, on 29th December 1920, in which three RIC/Tan members were killed. 'The Cork Examiner' newspaper carried a report of that particular IRA operation -

'Attack on Police at Midleton.

Followed by Ambush.

Two constables dead.

Closing on to ten o'clock at night when the police patrol standing at a corner of the main street were attacked by a large number of men who fired on them from three directions. The firing was of rapid but short duration. The ten policemen were considerably outnumbered, and taken as they were, completely by surprise, they had little time to put up a defence. One of them, Mullen, was shot by one of the first few shots discharged. He was killed instantly. A telephone call was made to Cork, and some lorries of police and ambulances set out and had nearly got to Midleton by 11.30pm. The procession of lorries and ambulances, it is stated, had their way further impeded about two miles from the town, by obstacles, such as heavy branches of trees, lying on the roadway. They were just within two miles of the town, at a point where boreens cut off the main road, when fire was opened on the last lorry. A sharp encounter ensued. In all, three policemen died as a result of the shooting.'


It was also on that same date (ie 3rd January 1921) that 'The Cork Examiner' newspaper printed a statement from the British, in which they outlined their position and intentions regarding that IRA attack - that statement declared that the "authorities" were going to destroy some nearby houses "as the inhabitants were bound to have known of the ambush and attack, and they neglected to give any information either to the military or police authorities." Seven houses were chosen and the families in them were given one hour to remove any money or valuables, but not furniture. The houses were then destroyed as, indeed, was Macready's reputation in this country (and that of his kind in Westminster) so much so that he had failed so miserably in encouraging locals to support* him, his troops and their ideals that he had no reason not to try and bully and intimidate the locals into supporting him and his fellow thugs. True to form for all imperialists. (*Macready asked influential trade union leader Tom Foran to assist him to "get a grip" in Ireland, to which Foran stated - "William O'Brien, kidnapped by your predecessor and deported, is the person best qualified to give the most authentic information respecting the Labour movement in Ireland...it is useless attempting to 'get a grip on the conditions in this country' until you let go your grip on the citizens of this country.." - Macready obviously ignored that good advice and attempted to do the opposite.)

Anyway - in 1996, in a move to increase readership, its title was changed from 'The Cork Examiner' to 'The Examiner' and, in 2000, it became 'The Irish Examiner', and is still 'making headlines' to this day!





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.

But despite Padraig Flynn's insistence that this was no more than a clarification, £30 million had to be found from the existing allocation to the Department of the Environment to cover grants for which the government had not made provision in the budget. The budget also cut the level of subvention to local authorities, with the result that councils are having to introduce service charges or, in the case of Dublin City Council, having to consider re-introducing domestic rates.

The local authorities claim that the need to take such measures results from inadequate funding from the Department of the Environment, but Padraig Flynn absolves himself of any responsibility - he takes objections, condemnations and clarifications in his long stride. Nothing appears to ruffle him and everything he utters is 'common sense'. He has a booming voice that doesn't need amplification, which he developed thirty years ago making speeches for other people outside churches "facing into the Atlantic against a Force 8 gale". The illustrations in his colourful speech all refer back to his roots.

But here he is now, "a country man in the Custom House", pacing the expansive floor of his office, talking of his plans for Dublin. He plans to landscape the gardens of the Custom House and if offices and banks and the like took steps such as those he proposes to take with "my building", Dublin would be a much more attractive city... (MORE LATER).





PERCEPTIONS...

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

The recent economic situation and the return of emigration have brought back our traditional humility, our lack of assurance, our chamelon-like ease of adopting commonwealth-type identity abroad - why else do the Irish diplomats speak with English-style accents and neither know nor use Irish?

The bourgeois consensus of 'whatever you say, say nothing' is not new ; it was lampooned by James Joyce at the beginning of this century - he called people like that "the gratefully oppressed" in 'Dubliners' and it has regrown in force here since the early 1980's. It means that awkward questions are not asked, and means that the received wisdom is that Ireland must not be seen to stand up in any way to the British government, "haranguing each other across the Irish Sea".

Instead we have the 'Anglo-Irish Agreement' ('1169' comment - which was one of four such treaties signed between Dublin and London politicians since the 1920's, none of which sought or included a date for a British political and military withdrawal from this country) that effectively neutralises any complaint by the simple expedient of bureaucratising it, thus rendering any public Irish government stance or action in defence of Irish citizens outside the state unnecessary, unfortunate and positively 'ill-mannered'.... (MORE LATER).






'HAUNTED' BY A TROUBLED CONSCIENCE , MAYBE? NO, NOT LIKELY...

'The Canadian ambassador to Ireland, Kevin Vickers (pictured, left, with a handgun in his right hand*), has been reported as saying he heard strange noises on more than one occasion at his Dublin residence (Glanmire House). "Ghosts. I never believed in ghosts. Until I arrived here." said Mr Vickers...the incidents included the sound of a heavy chain falling on the ground, as well as footsteps on the stairs. "I was sitting watching TV when all of a sudden I heard a heavy chain fall on the floor in the dining room," he wrote. "I immediately went there and there was nothing on the floor," said Mr Vickers...' (from here.)

Mr Vickers is, apparently, a man of action who is seemingly considered (by some) to be 'a national hero in his own country, having shot dead a gunman who stormed the Canadian House of Commons and threatened a massacre in October 2014... (the [other] gunman) found his way into the parliament building (and) was shot and killed by Mr Vickers who was then the sergeant-at-arms in the parliament...'

This ex-Canadian Mountie answered the call of his duty again in Grangegorman, Dublin, in May 2016, while attending (as a guest, not part of the security detail) an event organised by Free Staters to commemorate the deaths of British soldiers in the 1916 Rising, which was a joint Westminster/Leinster House affair, complete with colour parties from both the FS Army and the British Army. A protester objected to the obvious hypocrisy involved in such a gig and was jumped-on by Mr Vickers who, fortunately, was unarmed at the time. He was then and is now also 'unarmed' in relation to the historical hypocrisies involved, as his own country has had its 'troubles' with the British and his own family were forced to flee Ireland due to An Gorta Mór, a British-inspired 'answer' to its 'Irish problem'!

However, not everyone is prepared to give this man and his 'ghost story' a hero's welcome : 'The question then becomes, if the ghost of an Irish republican hero has visited Glanmire, is he haunting the house or is he haunting ambassador Kevin Vickers? Irish realtor Keith Lowe, who sold Glanmire in 2005 after its long-time residents died, had also never heard of anything strange there. "I think we are entering the realm of fantasy!!!" Lowe said in an email on Friday. "In all my 30-plus years of real estate in Dublin I have never come across a buyer or seller complaining of a house being haunted, so excuse me when I laugh a little." Lowe said prior to 2005, the family who lived at Glanmire had been there "for generations." It was a stunning place, he said, with a greenhouse and gardens front and back. Asked again, for good measure, whether he'd heard anything odd during his tours of the house, Lowe said he hadn't. "I think you are losing the run of yourself altogether. Stay off the brandy." '

'Is the Irish republican ghost haunting the house or haunting Kevin Vickers?' The latter, I'd guess, as the former has some merit attached to it.





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.

"Where did you get that cake?" asked Stuarty. "In my parcel yesterday", answered the OC. "Don't tell me the screws have stole his cake again," asked the OC, looking at Paddy. "Well, it's Saturday and he's no cake," I replied, "what do you think?" "How many cakes is that now, Paddy?", asked the OC. "How long are you in our co-op, Paddy", I queried. "Two years", answered Paddy.

"Well, that's one hundred and four stolen cakes", I reckoned. "Are you sure it came in?" asked the OC. "Definitely ; his mother swore on St Anthony's Prayer", said Stuarty. "Is that significant?" asked the OC. "Well, it was a stack of bibles two weeks ago", said Stuarty. "That's good enough for me," exclaimed the OC, looking at Paddy - "But before I go out here and start murder, are you 100% sure the cake was there?"

"Look," said Paddy, "let me find out for definite from my ma before we do anything hasty." "Maybe we should, Paddy", said the OC, "just to be on the safe side..." (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, August 23, 2017

"UNION, LIBERTY, THE IRISH REPUBLIC!" - MAYO, 23RD AUGUST 1798.

ON THIS DATE (23RD AUGUST) 219 YEARS AGO : FRENCH BATTLECRY ON IRISH SOIL.

"UNION, LIBERTY, THE IRISH REPUBLIC!" - the words and ideals proclaimed in Ballina, County Mayo, on the 23rd August 1798 - 219 years ago on this date - by French General Jean Joseph Amable Humbert, who had landed with 1,090 seasoned French troops (including 80 officers) at Cill Chuimin (Kilcummin) on the 22nd August.

Three expeditions to aid the 'United Irishmen' were authorised by the French Directory in July of 1798 ('In 1791, the newly installed French government offered military assistance to any group who wanted to overthrow their own King. This was very worrying for the surrounding monarchies of England, Spain, Germany and Austria..' - from here) and command of the first and smallest of these was given to General Jean Joseph Amable Humbert (pictured, left). His small fleet of three frigates, under the command of Chef de Division André Daniel Savary, landed at Cill Chuimin (on August 22nd, 1798).

They marched by night across the mountains in torrents of rain (a distance of about 18 miles which, it has been estimated, would take maybe six hours to do on foot) and then a surprise attack at dawn ; and a masterly assault by General Jean Sarrazin (who later disgraced himself) on the British 'defenders' left flank gave warning of what was to come : brave Mayo men faced pounding artillery with nothing but pikes hammered out by skilled blacksmiths who had worked night and day for five days.

'Erin's sons be not faint-hearted

Welcome! Sing then Ca ira

From Killala they are marching

To the tune of Viva La!



They come, they come, see myriads come

Of Frenchmen to relieve us ;

Seize, seize the pike, beat, beat the drum

They come, my friends, to save us.'




To confuse the enemy further, General Humbert suddenly changed tactics - he launched his full reserve, and changed from closed formation to open file. Rising up in his saddle, and brandishing his sword, he gave the order , in Irish - "Eirinn go Brach!" The drums sounded the 'pas de charge' and a blue line, now within a few paces of the British troops, regrouped back into closed lines and moved swiftly forward , their bayonets gleaming in the morning sun, a fierce and threatening determination in their countenances. The famed army of the French Revolution was here in the fields of Mayo : veterans of many victorious campaigns on the continent, men who had endured much and who believed passionately in their cause. They had measured their enemy and marked them down as 'the defenders and upholders of tyranny and injustice'. The Sasanaigh and their Irish militias and Yeomen hesitated, and then turned their backs and fled in terror.

In Humbert's footsteps we commemorate today

in 1798 they came our way.

Arriving in three ships, the British flags flew

to conceal a plan that no British man knew.

At Kilcummin they landed, Irish pikemen joined the might,

and together they marched with Killala in sight.

The town was captured, Bishop Stock’s palace was made

the Franco-Irish headquarters where new plans were laid.




On August 23rd Ballina was the next plan,

between Moyne and Rosserk abbeys' the British, they ran.

The British we'll beat them, Érin go Bragh,

as they made their way to Béal an Átha.

They reached Ballina August 24th that morning,

but before the British departed they left a warning.

They captured Patrick Walsh and hung him from a crane,

the British departed, a United Irishman slain.




In Ballina the French marched through Barr na Dearg and Bóthar na Sop

with straw torches and a mattress, their way was lit up.

The people excited, a sight to behold,

as the flames of the night lit up buttons of gold.

From Ballina they left to Castlebar they go,

and marched through the mountains, a route the British didn't know.

Humbert captured Castlebar and the British they flee

in panic leaving behind cannon and artillery.




But at Ballinamuck Humbert faced a tough fight,

General Lake and troops behind him and Lord Cornwallis on his right.

The British overtook them, the battle no more,

many Irish were butchered, the French returned to their shore.




In memory of 1798, Ballina streets renamed,

Walsh, Tone, Teeling and Humbert who came to bring victory to Ireland, make her shores free,

to make her the ruler of her own country.


(Ann Marie Murphy, from here.)





36TH ANNUAL HUNGER STRIKE COMMEMORATION FOR PEACE WITH JUSTICE : SATURDAY 26TH AUGUST 2017, 3PM, EAST END, BUNDORAN.

On Saturday 26th August 2017, the Bundoran/Ballyshannon H-Block Committee will be holding a rally in Bundoran, Donegal, to commemorate the 36th Anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike and in memory of the 22 Irish republicans that have died on hunger strike between 1917 and 1981 ; those participating have been asked to form-up at 3pm at the East End. All genuine Irish republicans are welcome to attend!

Unseen Sorrow. (By Bobby Sands.)

Her tears fall in the darkness as the rain falls in the night,

silvery tears like silvery rain, hidden out of sight,

the stars fall from her eyes like floating petals from the sky,

is there no one in all this world who hears this woman cry?




A simple little floating dreamy thought has stired this woman's heart,

the golden sleepy dream of yesterdays before they were apart,

what comfort can there be found for a petal so fair and slim

alone in a forest dark of sorrow she weeps again for him?




Warm silver rolling tears blemish a once complexion fair,

that once shown in the fairest radiance midst a cloak of golden hair,

and the children whimper and cry for a father's care

and love they've never known.




Who sees their little tears of innocent years,

as the winds of time are blown?

What sorrow will you know tonight,

when all the worlds asleep,

when through the darkness comes the wind

that cuts the heart so deep.




For there is no one there to dry your tears,

or your children's tears who cling around your frock,

when there has been another bloody slaughter,

in the dungeons of H Block.






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.

At a meeting of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party held the day after the budget, deputies were angry about the abrupt ending of the schemes under which people had entered into legally binding agreements under the impression they were to benefit from grants. It was widely reported that Charles Haughey told his deputies "to cut out the codology and to stay out of the kitchen if they couldn't stand the heat." Padraig Flynn, always convinced and convincing, says he has no recollection of a stormy meeting.

The following weekend, the government announced that anybody with verbal approval of grants or who had entered into contracts with the legitimate expectation that they were entitled to a grant would be paid it. The media described it as a u-turn. Fianna Fáil claimed it was a "clarification".

Padraig Flynn is visibly wounded and upset at any suggestion that the government's position after that cabinet meeting represented anything other than a clarification. He had planned to explain the situation himself during his budget speech in the Dáil (sic - Leinster House) the following week : as far as he was concerned, the army of inspectors going around giving verbal approvals ('Carry on now, mam, you are getting your grant and good luck to you...') were the arm of the minister out on site. He wasn't going to invite 134,000 people awaiting home improvement grants to sue him... (MORE LATER).





PERCEPTIONS...

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

For us, our constant lack of belief in our own importance is the main reason for our ability to take racist insults and diplomatic evasions lying down. The Irish take no offence at successive waves of anti-Irish hysteria in the British media because they believe they themselves are not important. They also believe they are powerless to change anything. The country that the Irish intellegentia, media and politicians find themselves inhabiting no longer seems worth defending - for we no longer believe in ourselves, or in our own integrity or importance. And if you no longer believe in yourself you do not take offence.

The weary cynicism so prevalent in 'the Republic' today is part of this malaise. That England has exhibited a special tenacity and savagery in the North of Ireland for the past 20 years is no longer permitted to trouble us. We know that to challenge the British presence would mean a struggle, even if only a political one, and among Irish politicians - even those who were most vociferous 20 years ago - it no longer seems politically desirable to speak from a strong Irish position. This bourgeois consensus extends right through the middle classes... (MORE LATER).






ON THIS DATE (23RD AUGUST) 59 YEARS AGO : IRISH TRICOLOUR + RUC = BEING SHOT DEAD.

Internment under the 'Offences Against the State Act' was enacted on the 4th July 1957 and, by October 1958, there were 141 detainees in the Curragh, with morale being described as 'very low'. A total of 206 internees were detained by the State in that Camp, all of whom had been released by March 1959, as the State administration considered the IRA to be a spent force and the latter's political, military and paramilitary colleagues in the Occupied Six Counties were of the same frame of mind, to the extent that the pro-British 'police force' in that part of Ireland, the RUC, felt secure in declaring that they had a top-level informer in the IRA leadership, whom they codenamed 'Horsecoper', and had it on his/her information that the IRA had 455 members in Dublin and about 500 members in the rest of the Free State.

However, 'demoralised/a spent force' or not, both British-established administrations in Ireland - Leinster House and Stormont - were still attempting to 'put the boot in' on republican activity and continued to operate 'Most Wanted' lists, where those named on same would be seized on sight, or worse. One man that that British 'police force' were particularly interested in was James Crossan, a native of Baunboy in Cavan, and a prominent Sinn Féin organiser (and IRA intelligence officer and active member of the Teeling Flying Column) in the border area.

On Saturday, 23rd August 1958 - 59 years ago on this date - James Crossan and one of his neighbours, Seán Reilly, were in a van on their way to Swanlinbar, in Cavan - only a stones throw from the 'border' with Fermanagh - to collect a flag and finalise details for a demonstration to be held the next day (Sunday August 24th) in Ballyconnell. Having done their business in Swanlinbar, the two men, and a local youth and Sinn Féin member, Ben McHugh, decided to go for a pint ; in the pub they met up with two friends from County Fermanagh. Near the end of the night, the barman, Thomas McCarron, asked James Crossan's friend, Seán Reilly, if he would drop him and the two men from Fermanagh to the border, to collect a van belonging to one of the men, Glover Rooney, a cattle dealer from Kinglass, Macken, in County Fermanagh (the other man was Stanley Moffat, a sergeant in the B-Specials!), and Reilly agreed. He parked his van about 100 yards from the border and about 300 yards from Mullan British customs post in Fermanagh ; James Crossan and the young McHugh got out with the three northerners and all five walked towards where the van was parked, near the border. With the few drinks on him and the time of the day it was - about 3am - Seán Reilly fell asleep in the van.

The sound of gunfire woke him up and flares lit-up the sky around him; he got out of the van and saw two RUC men about 30 yards in front of him - they were running towards the British customs post. It later transpired that the five men (Crossan, McHugh, the barman and the two Fermanagh men), all unarmed, parted company on the Cavan side of the border at about 3.30am and, as Crossan and McHugh were walking back to the van, Crossan, 26 years of age, was shot dead by a group of RUC men who had positioned themselves on the southern side of the border. Ben McHugh was arrested, and Crossan's body was taken to Enniskillen. The RUC claimed that they had come across an IRA reconnaissance mission of Mullan British customs post, which was a total fabrication ; at the inquest (held in Enniskillen) no witnesses were called and no attempt was made to investigate the circumstances of the shooting. The coroner simply justified Crossan's death as "justifiable homicide". James Crossan was given a republican funeral and was buried in Kilnavert Cemetery, County Cavan, on the 26th August 1958.

When the fairy-like dew, the grass is adorning,

a volley rang out without any warning,

a young man fell dead in the cold grey of morning.

God bless you, God rest you, James Crossan from Bawn.



Forget not this young man, so gay and so cheery,

in working for Erin, he never grew weary,

But he'll toil never more round his own loved Clonleary.

God bless you, God rest you, James Crossan from Bawn.



There's no sleep for the Specials, they're tumblin' and tossin'

they are haunted with fear, every man every gossan,

for they'll pay for it yet, those who murdered James Crossan.

God bless you, God bless you, James Crossan of Bawn.
(From here.)





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.

Every Saturday morning Paddy got his visit and you would think to hear him that that was all he talked about on his weekly visit - "I pulled my ma and she says that there's definitely a chocolate sandwich cake in my parcel today." We listened to this with no shortage of cynicism. "I'm telling you, my ma swore on St Anthony's Prayer that the cake is there..." But St Anthony's prayer or not, we couldn't give him the benefit of the doubt. Two weeks before she had swore on a stack of bibles and we didn't get any cake.

The comrade in charge of the parcels collected them at the gate and brought them into the canteen for distribution. Paddy waited for his parcel, and we sat in the hut waiting for him to bring it in so that we could get the supper on. "The bastards!", Paddy screamed, coming in the door of the hut. "What's the matter?" I asked. "The screws stole my chocolate sandwich cake." The more cynical members of the co-op looked round at one another with that 'Ach, Jesus, not again..'-look on our faces.

Paddy swore on his mother's life that the cake was there, but he could see that we didn't believe him. "Right", said Paddy, "I'm going to see the OC. This is the last straw." So we all trooped off to the OC's cubicle and, on entering, we noticed that he was sitting down with a cup of tea in his hand and a big slice of chocolate cake... (MORE LATER).





THE STAYCATION : WHEN YOU JUST SIMPLY DELAY DOING THE USUAL STUFF!

We checked the bank

The news was bad

We'd spent all the money

That we had

We wouldn't travel

on vacation

We were gonna take

a forced Staycation...
(apologies to the author.)

I'd like to write that we're back and tell you all about our break, but...we weren't really anywhere to be 'back' from, but it still wasn't a bad mini-holiday (spoiled by New York, we are, constantly making comparisons, even though we know we shouldn't be!) considering that we stayed more-or-less local, the weather wasn't the best (typical Irish summer...) and there wasn't a roof-top party to be had anywhere!

We never got too far out of Dublin as it was just too awkward to arrange a day-trip anywhere else : myself and my four girlfriends had the best of intentions to take the extended clan of kids (which numbered anywhere between seven and twelve) away for a day or two but then life intervened - transport issues, what time we could get the gang ready to leave at, who had to be home at a certain time, whatshername won't go unless she can bring her fella with us but that fella used to go out with one of the other young girls with us and she wouldn't go if...etc!

We did, however, manage to get to Dublin Zoo, to Bray in Wicklow, for a group picnic on a lovely day to Corkagh Park, which is on our doorstep and, on one occasion (and never again!) eleven of us attempted to get to Stephens Green in the city centre but never made it...our shenanigans were (thankfully!) interrupted by a 650-ticket function for the Cabhair organisation, which took us the best part of a week, from start to finish, but even then we ended up with an extended entourage.

Anyway - we're back, and badly need a holiday to recover. For now, however, that's out of the question. But we're definitely going somewhere else the next time...

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, August 02, 2017

LONDON'S ATTITUDE TO IRELAND - 'EXHAUSTED IRRITATION AND SPORADIC HATRED MIXED WITH FEAR...'

TWO 'WRONGS', BUT ONLY ONE GETS THE HEADLINE.

The newspaper article (pictured, left) which was published in 'The Sunday Times' on the 30th July last, authored by Free State unionist Kevin Myers is, at the time of writing, still receiving top billing in other newspapers and on radio and television news programmes. The 'Jews-and-women' piece has, rightly, brought both Myers and the newspaper into (further) disrepute and has elicited apologises from all concerned except, at the time of writing, from the author himself.

However, in our opinion, an even bigger injustice has been ignored because of the publicity generated by that article - on page 3 of that same edition a piece by Justine McCarthy , entitled 'St Patrick may make way for independence day celebration', was published and, to date, there has been no turmoil as a result of it -

- the piece opened by stating that "The advisory committee on state commemorations is to recommend an annual independence day to celebrate the foundation of the state..unlike other countries, Ireland does not mark its independence with a national holiday.." and finished by informing those that managed to get to the end of the article without their head been turned inside-out like their stomachs would have been that "...India, which won its independence from Britain later than Ireland, has its independence day every August 15..". Between the beginning and the end of that piece there were other equally misleading statements and claims in which the author continued to show her confusion in relation to the difference between 'state' and 'country' ie the state consists of 26 counties but the country consists of 32 counties and, as the country has not yet achieved its independence it is a nonsense to talk about organising 'independence day celebrations'.

And, Justine, if you and other politically-confused individuals want to celebrate Free State 'independence', could I suggest that you put Kevin Myers in charge of organising the event and doing the publicity for it. That would be most appropriate and such an occasion would deserve it.





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.

Residents' associations and tenants' associations have queued up to meet the new minister, to protest about local charges and increased local authority rents, and have been only temporarily mollified by Flynn's promise of "reviews".

The government's determination to take control, partly through the Department of the Environment, of the complex situation surrounding the wreck of the Kowloon Bridge, Flynn's popular call, as minister, for the closure of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant and the endless declaration of good intentions which the 'European Year of the Environment' allows for, have not eased the discomfort for the new occupant of the minister's office in the Custom House.

The housing grants had first been introduced by Fianna Fáil in 1979 but were terminated a year later. On that occasion, they gave notice of their intention and had been flooded with 40,000 new applications. The decision on this occasion to terminate retrospectively was aimed at preventing a recurrence of that kind of rush. John Boland had reintroduced the grant schemes in 1985 and, in that first year of operation, £8.5 million was paid out. In 1986, the figure had jumped to £27.5 million and this year (1987) £100 million had been allocated and the department had taken on extra inspectors to cope with the applications, many of whom had given verbal approval to applicants who had proceeded with work.

Under the terms of the budget these people would now not receive their grants... (MORE LATER).





ON THIS DATE (2ND AUGUST) 95 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF "AN INFLUENTIAL AND FORMIDABLE" IRISH REPUBLICAN SOLDIER.

Henry James 'Harry' Boland (27th April 1887 – 2nd August 1922).

"I rise to speak against this Treaty because, in my opinion, it denies a recognition of the Irish nation...I object to it on the ground of principle, and my chief objection is because I am asked to surrender the title of Irishman and accept the title of West Briton...I object because this Treaty denies the sovereignty of the Irish nation, and I stand by the principles I have always held — that the Irish people are by right a free people.

I object to this Treaty because it is the very negation of all that for which we have fought. It is the first time in the history of our country that a body of representative Irishmen has ever suggested that the sovereignty of this nation should be signed away..we secured a mandate from the Irish people because we put for the first time before the people of Ireland a definite issue ; we promised that if elected we would combat the will, and deny the right of England in this country, and after four years of hard work we have succeeded in bringing Ireland to the proud position she occupied on the fifth December last. The fight was made primarily here in Ireland ; but I want to say that the fight that was made in Ireland was also reflected throughout the world ; and we — because we had a definite object — had the sympathy of liberty-loving people everywhere....I have taken one oath to the Republic and I will keep it. If I voted for that document I would work the Treaty, and I would keep my solemn word and treat as a rebel any man who would rise out against it. If I could in conscience vote for that Treaty I would do so, and if I did I would do all in my power to enforce that Treaty ; because, so sure as the honour of this nation is committed by its signature to this Treaty, so surely is Ireland dead. We are asked to commit suicide and I cannot do it..we are asked to annihilate the Irish nation. This nation has been preserved for seven hundred and fifty years, coming down in unbroken succession of great men who have inspired us to carry on. We were the heirs of a great tradition, and the tradition was that Ireland had never surrendered, that Ireland had never been beaten, and that Ireland can never be beaten.."
(7th January, 1922,from here.)

It is generally considered that Harry Boland was the first man to be 'unofficially executed' by a Michael Collins-controlled Free State death squad, on the evening of Sunday 30th July/early Monday morning 31st July 1922 and, following that shooting, in the Grand Hotel in Skerries, Dublin, the State gunmen issued this statement (on Monday 31st July 1922) - "Early this morning a small party of troops entered the Grand Hotel to place Mr. H.Boland T.D., under arrest. Mr. Boland had been actively engaged in the irregular campaign. When accosted in his bedroom he made an unsuccessful attempt to seize a gun from one of the troops and then rushed out to the door. After firing two shots at random and calling on Mr. Boland to halt, it was found necessary to fire a third shot to prevent an escape. Mr. Boland was wounded and removed to hospital. A man giving his name as John J.Murphy with residence at 3 Castlewood Avenue, Ranelagh,Dublin, who was found with Mr. Boland, was taken prisoner. Subsequently he was identified as Joseph Griffin* , an active irregular, belonging to Dublin." (*'1169' Comment - Joe Griffin was an IRA operative within the Movement's Intelligence Department.)

One of the Free State troops present at the time stated afterwards - "Mr.Boland was wanted and we went to the hotel and two or three of us entered his room. He was in bed. We wakened him and he got up out of bed and partly dressed himself. He had no gun. Suddenly he turned and rushed to tackle one of our fellows for his gun. A shot was fired over his head to desist but he continued to struggle and almost had the gun when a second shot was fired and Mr.Boland was wounded." The bullet entered his right side near the ribs, passed through his body and came out through his left side causing very serious injuries.

A photograph of the actual bullet which killed Harry Boland....

...and his funeral service, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

Although unarmed at that moment, as admitted by his executioners, caught by surprise and outnumbered (a "small party" of Free State troops were in the room at the time) the Staters attempted to present the execution of Harry Boland as 'a killing in self-defence' ie 'he attempted to jump us and then tried to flee...'. They had learned well from their British colleagues. Harry Boland died from his wounds on the 2nd August 1922 - 95 years ago on this date - in St. Vincents Hospital, Dublin and, as he lay waiting for death, he told family members that the Stater who shot him had been imprisoned with him in Lewes Prison, in England, but he refused to put a name to him - when his sister, Kathleen, asked him who had fired the shot he refused to tell her, saying "The only thing I'll say is that it was a friend of my own that was in prison with me, I'll never tell the name and don't try to find out. I forgive him and I want no reprisals". The funeral expenses were taken care of by the Cumann na Poblachta organisation.

'Boland's mix of animal charm, gregariousness, wit and a dash of ruthlessness made him an influential and formidable character. Though not an intellectual in his manner he was a clear thinker, a forceful orator and a graceful writer....' (from here.) Thankfully, there are those like him who continue to this day to work for the Movement....





PERCEPTIONS...

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

The English never define themselves in relation to the Irish. In fact their whole attitude in relation to Ireland, one of exhausted irritation and sporadic hatred mixed with fear, has been around since the 16th century. Constant influxes of the Irish into England since the 1800's have caused strains on English society, but their ability to assimilate them only points to the strength of their culture.

The English never define their relation with Ireland, nor have they, since William Gladstone had a clear definite policy in regard to Ireland- their actions are political reactions as Garret Fitzgerald said ; "Their system is uncoordinated because there's no system. Northern Ireland (sic) secretary people think there's a 'Northern Ireland' policy, but there isn't. No British government has succeeded, except in a very brief period of negotiation or an immediate reaction to something like the fall of Stormont, in concentrating its attention sufficiently to ensure the actions of all ministers are directed towards the same objective.

The result is that things are done, the cumulative effect of which can be negative, not because of ill-will but because of a lack of appreciation of the consequences of the action being taken. To Irish governments (sic - should read 'Dublin administrations') the whole issue is so important that we cannot afford to act negatively regardless of consequences." In fact, "Ireland is very rarely on the Cabinet agenda," as Merlyn Rees said in 1989, "to us it is not very important." (MORE LATER).






ON THIS DATE (2ND AUGUST) 36 YEARS AGO - DEATH OF A 'REVOLUTIONARY LARK'.

'As Ireland buries her heroes and martyrs,

Britain should hang her head in shame,

As Kieran Doherty fought for freedom

And gave his life to Ireland's name...'
(from here.)



"On July 13th, 1981, we were shocked and dismayed to hear that Martin Hurson had been violently ill and had died unexpectedly and prematurely. The next significant development was the British government-sponsored intervention of the 'International Red Cross' (IRC), which tried to initiate direct dialogue between the Brits and ourselves - the Brits rejected this and suggested mediation based on their July 8th statement, which was aimed at defeating us and unproductive, and we rejected this as futile.

We pointed out to the IRC that, as the Brits were not interested in an honourable settlement, their interest in the IRC must logically be to use them ; a Red Cross delegate asked for a further break-down of our July 4th statement and was initially refused. However, after discussion, we complied and issued the August 6th statement and asked the British government, the Dublin government, the SDLP and the Catholic Church to respond to our statement. Soon Kieran Doherty, Kevin Lynch and Thomas McElwee were to be murdered by Britain.."
- part of the text of a statement released by the H-Block 'Blanket Men', announcing the end of the 1981 Hunger-Strike, as published in 'IRIS' magazine, Vol. 1 No.2, November 1981.

'Kieran hailed from the Andersonstown area of Belfast, being born into a family with a proud history of republican activity. He was a keen sportsman and won a minor Antrim county medal in 1971 for St. Theresa's GAC. After seeing Loyalist gangs burning nationalists out of their homes while the RUC and British army stood idly by, he joined Na Fianna Éireann in the autumn of 1971. His outstanding ability led to him progressing to the ranks of the IRA very quickly. After evading capture on a couple of occasions, he was eventually arrested in early 1973 and interned in Long Kesh until November 1975. Upon his release he reported back to the IRA for service straight away.

In April 1976 he was involved in an operation which saw his comrade Sean McDermott killed and Mairead Farrell of future Gibraltar fame arrested. In August of that year he was arrested and and remanded to Crumlin Road Jail, where he often received ill treatment for refusing to bend the knee to the screws. In January 1978 he was sentenced to 18 years in the H-Blocks. He joined the blanket protest immediately and found himself in relentless conflict with the screws. He always resisted their efforts to enforce degrading anal searches, and in July 1978 he had to be hospitalized after taking a severe beating.

Kieran became fluent in his native tongue during his imprisonment, which was used as a weapon against the prison regime. As the painful struggle for political status continued, he joined the hunger strike on May 22nd 1981. In June he was elected as TD for the Cavan/Monaghan constituency during the 26-county general election with an impressive tally of 9,121 first preference votes, only 303 votes behind the sitting Free State minister for Education. He died on August 2nd 1981 after 73 agonizing days of hunger strike. He was buried with full military honours in Milltown Cemetery. He was 25 years of age.
(from here.)

Between the years 1917 and 1981, twenty-two Irish men died on hunger-strike in our on-going fight for Irish freedom :

Thomas Ashe, Kerry, 5 days, 25th September 1917(force fed by tube , died as a result).

Terence MacSwiney, Cork, 74 days, 25th October 1920.

Michael Fitzgerald, Cork, 67 days, 17th October 1920.

Joseph Murphy, Cork, 76 days, 25th October 1920.

Joe Witty, Wexford, 2nd September 1923.

Dennis Barry, Cork, 34 days, 20th November 1923.

Andy O Sullivan, Cork, 40 days, 22nd November 1923.

Tony Darcy, Galway, 52 days, 16th April 1940.

Jack 'Sean' McNeela, Mayo, 55 days, 19th April 1940.

Sean McCaughey, Tyrone,22 days, 11th May 1946 (hunger and thirst strike).

Michael Gaughan, Mayo, 64 days, 3rd June 1974.

Frank Stagg, Mayo, 62 days, 12th February 1976.

Bobby Sands, Belfast, 66 days, 5th May 1981.

Frank Hughes, Bellaghy (Derry), 59 days, 12th May 1981.

Raymond McCreesh, South Armagh, 61 days, 21st May 1981.

Patsy O Hara, Derry, 61 days, 21st May 1981.

Joe McDonnell, Belfast, 61 days, 8th July 1981.

Martin Hurson, Tyrone, 46 days, 13th July 1981.

Kevin Lynch, Dungiven (Derry), 71 days, 1st August 1981.

Kieran Doherty, Belfast, 73 days, 2nd August 1981.

Tom McIlwee, Bellaghy (Derry), 62 days, 8th August 1981.

Micky Devine, Derry, 60 days, 20th August 1981.


"It is not those who can inflict the most, but those that can suffer the most who will conquer" - Terence MacSwiney.





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.

The normal practice in the Kesh was for groups of men to organise themselves into co-ops. This was concerned with better utilisation of the weekly parcel and the tea-making rota. If you had six men in a co-op then each member would get their parcels in on designated days, which meant we had a fresh parcel each day then, whatever was left on Sunday could be made up into a Long Kesh Goulash (but you don't want to hear about that..!)

In Cage 22 when I was there I was 'Man Friday' - we also had a 'Man Monday', 'Man Tuesday' and so on, but our 'Man Saturday' was proving to be troublesome. He got his parcels all right but there was never a cake in it. This was very annoying for although he was getting a packet of Jammie Dodgers , we liked a bit of cake of an evening after our supper, with our tea, and what made it worse was his weekly attack on the prison service, accusing them of stealing his cake. Every week, that was!

Now, of course, we wouldn't put it past the screws for doing just that, but it was always his and, by association, our Saturday night cake... (MORE LATER).





HAPPY HOLIDAYS - GOING FOR A SHORT BREAK!

It's that time of year again - or, rather, it is and it isn't. Myself and the girlfriends are having a 'staycation' this year, as finances and/or time off work and/or kids/partners etc haven't gelled for the five of us and we have decided to postpone our yearly shenanigans and just enjoy the time at home (as best we can!) with all our clans, with two or three outings a week and, probably, an overnighter or two in Tyrone and/or Donegal.

Between the jigs and the reels (and the 650-ticket raffle on Sunday 13th next) it's looking like it'll be Wednesday 23rd August before we can put together one of our usual offerings but, seeing as we won't be eating apples :-( this year, we'll probably get a word or two posted here before then. But that depends - if the weather doesn't get us down, the fact that we're not 'over yonder' might, and we just may not feel like talking! However, our 'troubles' are nothing of the sort when compared with the poor souls in the following piece...



WHAT HAVE WE COME TO?

'Paralysed on one side by a stroke and barely able to speak, the woman was left to die at the side of a road - by her own children...the 75-year-old only survived because a stranger took pity on her as she lay in the street..the wards are crowded with beds, all just a few centimetres apart, filled with elderly people who sit quietly staring into space or lie huddled under blankets..on one, a frail old lady whispered into the ear of a smiling plastic doll, her only companion since she moved to the facility from the shed she used to occupy in her family's back yard..

Another woman was thrown out of a car next to a rubbish dump, where she was found covered in cuts and bite marks from rats. She made it to the nursing home but survived for only a few months.'
"We have nowhere to go. We have come here to wait to die..here we feel less alone and people feed us.." From here.

Puts things in perspective, doesn't it? Proves that some of us are worse than the so-called 'wild animals' we share this planet with. 'Go back, we f****d up'.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.