ON THIS DATE (7TH JUNE) 96 YEARS AGO : TWO IRA MEN EXECUTED BY WESTMINSTER.
"Fight on, struggle on, for the honour, glory and freedom of dear old Ireland. Our hearts go out to all our dear old friends. Our souls go to God at 7 o'clock in the morning and our bodies, when Ireland is free, shall go to Galbally. Our blood shall not be shed in vain for Ireland, and we have a strong presentiment, going to our God, that Ireland will soon be free and we gladly give our lives that a smile may brighten the face of 'Dear Dark Rosaleen'. Farewell! Farewell! Farewell!" - the last words of Limerick (Ballylanders) IRA man Patrick Maher, 32 years of age, to his comrades.
Patrick Maher and his comrade Ned Foley were hanged in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin by Westminster on Tuesday 7th June 1921 - 96 years ago on this date - for their 'involvement' in the rescue of Tipperary IRA man Seán Hogan ; Patrick Maher, who worked as a clerk at Knocklong railway station and was about three miles from the scene of the rescue when it happened, was not involved in that operation. The two men were charged with the 'murder' of two RIC men (Peter Wallace and Michael Enright): - Patrick Maher strongly protested his innocence but, even though two juries failed to reach a verdict, he was convicted (by a military court martial) and sentenced to death. He was one of 'The Forgotten Ten' IRA Volunteers (Kevin Barry, Patrick Moran, Frank Flood, Thomas Whelan, Thomas Traynor, Patrick Doyle, Thomas Bryan, Bernard Ryan, Edmond (Ned) Foley, and Patrick Maher) - Kevin Barry was executed in 1920 by the British and the other nine men were put to death in 1921. All ten were buried in the grounds of Mountjoy Jail in Dublin, where six of them were placed in the same grave.
John Ellis, the British hangman hired to execute Maher and Foley, had 'proved his worth' to Westminster by previously carrying out other 'jobs' in Ireland for that institution - he and his assistant, Bill Willis, had listed in their bloody CV the names of Roger Casement and Kevin Barry. The most poignant appeal for clemency was made by Edward Wallace, the father of RIC Sergeant Peter Wallace, who wrote to the Commander in Chief of British forces in Ireland, Sir Nevil Macready - "The tragedy will pass heavily on me during the remaining years of my life, if any lives are sacrificed on account of my son's death. My son and daughter join with me in imploring you to be clement and merciful to those who have been tried in connection with the tragedy. May God forgive those who were really guilty. I do."
Thousands of people had gathered outside Mountjoy Jail in Dublin in protest against the executions, but to no avail (it should be noted that at the time, Munster and a small part of Leinster were under British 'martial law' and those executed there were shot as soldiers, but Dublin was under civilian law and that is why those executed in Mountjoy were hanged).
On Sunday, 14th October 2001, nine of those men were reinterred in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin by representatives of a 26-county state in an 'official' ceremony and, on Friday 19th October 2001 this state made the final arrangements to do the same for the tenth man, Patrick Maher, who was reburied in his home parish of Glenbrohane in Limerick (at the request of his family) on Saturday, 20th October 2001. Both reinterments were carried out by a state which none of the ten men were fighting for - a 26-county free state - as the objective of the republican campaign - then (1920/1921) and now (2017)- was and is for a free Ireland, not a partially-free Ireland. And, to add insult to injury, the then Free State 'minister for justice', John O'Donoghue, was the 'official figurehead' present, on both occasions, during which he delivered the graveside orations. Irish republicans are looking forward to the day when those moral and political misappropriations can be corrected.
PROSE AND CONS.
Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.
First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.
IN MY HEART. (By Keith Sinnot.)
I've been alone some time now
it's seven years in all,
I miss my Mum and family
God I miss them all.
I hear their laughter every day
it soothes me when I'm mad,
memories of when we were one
lift me when I'm sad.
Forever I will love you all
but forever is not long enough
for the love I must repay.
And I carry with me in my heart
the times we laughed and wept
and I carry with me in my heart
your love, in all its depth
no matter what life deals to me
my love for you remains.
I love it when we laughed and played
and when we sung a song,
although alone and far away
in my heart you will always stay.
(Next - 'The Eyes Of The Bard Can Be Hard', by Greg Tarrand.)
RICOCHETS OF HISTORY...
Phil Mac Giolla Bháin takes a stubborn look at the facts and concludes that the celebration party may be a little premature. From the 'Magill Annual 2002' (*PIRA).
The same Belfast dynamics which tore up Cathal Goulding's blueprint for proletarian revolution might well yet undo the best laid plans of conflict resolution dating back to Hume/Adams. The key concept - that nationalists can sit anywhere on the equality bus and that they have a right to express their will to steer the bus in the direction of a 32-county state - still gets the lynch mobs out in Belfast and Portadown.
The pipe-bombing pogrom in the narrow-minded streets around Glenbryn is driven by this belief system. They are the rough trade of this worldview, but the ideas exist also in more genteel quarters. Having a leader of unionism who thinks that Sinn Féin ministers need 'house training' shows that the colonialist mindset is alive and well on the Stormont veranda.
Put it all together - the pipe bombings, the melting possibility of a united Ireland, the massive leap of faith which may or may not pay off, the ingrained culture of carrying arms - and it is still time to tread carefully.
(END of 'Ricochets of History'. NEXT - 'Perceptions', by Cliodna Cussen, from 1991).
GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...
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!
"HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS...?".
My friend went on to tell me about how contraband was the currency of the crims and how everything had a price, especially cigarettes. I asked him if he needed any fags or tobacco and if he did, not to hesitate to ask myself or one of my cage-mates for whatever he needed. "If there's anything that I can do for you, let me know," he said in reply, which made me think - I remembered that my friend worked in the prison kitchens.
That fact on its own meant nothing, but it made me think of the exotic foodstuffs at his disposal. Like scallions. "Here, see if you can get me any scallions." "Scallions?" he said,"Of all the stuff I can lay my hands on, why settle for scallions?", he asked. "With scallions you can make Champ," I drooled. "Jesus, Champ..." ,he said, "..I haven't tasted Champ in months!" "And we haven't tasted Champ in years..", I replied. "Right," he said, "if it's scallions you want, it's scallions you'll get."
At suppertime that night, the lorry approached the gate of Cage 11, and I could see my friend peering around the side of it. He winked at me, and I took this to mean that he had got the scallions and I was delighted. He lifted a container off the back of the lorry, taking great pains to show me which one held the exotic contraband... (MORE LATER).
ON THIS DATE (7TH JUNE) FOUR YEARS AGO : A PERSONAL REFLECTION.
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh (far left, and his funeral service, above), pictured in 1954 : from this blog, June 2013 - 'Funeral arrangements : Reposing at Smyth's Funeral Home, Roscommon, on Friday 7th June 2013, from 5.30pm to 8.00pm, followed by Removal to the Sacred Heart Church. Requiem Mass on Saturday at 11.30am with Burial afterwards in St. Coman's Cemetery. Family Flowers only. House private Saturday morning. Donations, if desired, to CABHAIR (Irish Republican Prisoners’ Dependants Fund), 223 Parnell St, Dublin 1 and to the Roscommon-Mayo Hospice.'
'Born in Longford in 1932 to a republican family, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh studied at UCD where he gained a degree in commerce. During his time at UCD he became involved with Sinn Féin and joined the IRA, of which his father had also been a member. Although by profession a teacher, Ruairí spent most Of his time as a training Officer for the IRA and in 1954 was appointed to the Military Council Of the IRA, eventually being IRA Chief Of Staff until 1962. He was elected as Sinn Féin TD in the Longford – Westmeath constituency in 1957. In 1970 Ruairí Ó Brádaigh led the walkout from the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis after the majority voted in favour of the abolition Of Sinn Féin's policy of abstention. He became President of Provisional Sinn Féin which he held until his resignation in 1983. In 1986, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh again led a walk out, this time from the Provisional Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, when they voted to drop the abstention policy. He and several supporters established Republican Sinn Féin..' (from here.)
"In the coming year we must present to the whole Irish people our framework of a federation of the four provinces of Ireland - in a post British withdrawal situation - with maximum devolution of power and decision-making to local level, with the complete separation of church and state and the building of a pluralist society and with neutrality and non-alignment in foreign affairs as the best hope for all the people of this island...this requires massive political and structural change on both sides of the border in order that all of us may escape from the political strait-jacket North and South designed for us in the Westminster parliament and imposed on us by the English ruling class to our detriment. Such a solution remains our only hope of growing and developing naturally as a people and enjoying our cultural heritage. God speed the day...!" - Aitheasc an Uachtaráin Ruairí Ó Brádaigh don 85ú Ard-Fheis de Shinn Féin in Óstlann an Spa, Leamhcán, Co. Atha Cliath, 21ú agus 22ú Deireadh Fómhair, 1989 (Presidential Address of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh to the 85th Ard Fheis of Sinn Féin in the Spa Hotel, Lucan, County Dublin, 21st and 22nd October 1989). And I still go looking for him at the Ard Fheis ; I miss him. But, thankfully, that which he stood for and represented is still here.
ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (WEDNESDAY 14TH JUNE 2017)...
Cabhair group; the work for this event began yesterday, Tuesday 6th June, when the five of us started to track down the ticket sellers and arrange for the delivery/collection of their ticket stubs and cash and, even though the raffle itself is, as stated, held on Sunday 11th June, 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 (14th June) 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!
Our second multitasking job, which we have assisted with but won't be there in person for, is the annual Wolfe Tone commemoration in Bodenstown which, unfortunately, clashes with the raffle. And, as talented (!) as we are, we actually can't be in two places at the one time, but we hope that Peter and the behind-the-scenes crew can struggle on without us and the weather holds for all concerned (even though we'll be in a nice, dry, warm hotel!). And, as arranged, we'll meet-up in the raffle hotel afterwards and have a chat about how both gigs went. And maybe share a pint (of cider) or two...!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.