ON THIS DATE (29TH NOVEMBER) 97 YEARS AGO - FALSE HOPE AND AN ALIBI.
"HAND GRENADES WERE PUT IN THEIR MOUTHS AND THESE EXPLODED.." - part of the comments made by the doctor who examined the remains of the Loughnane brothers.
Pat and Harry Loughnane were well-known and equally well-liked and respected in their neighbourhood of South Galway. Pat (the eldest), was an IRA man and Secretary of Sinn Féin in the area ; he was also active in GAA circles. His younger brother, Harry, played in goal for the local Beagh Hurling Club, was an IRA Volunteer and was also a member of the local cumann of Sinn Féin ; both brothers worked on the family farm in Shanaglish, County Galway, and were working in the corn fields on Friday, 26th November 1920, when the Black and Tans surrounded them. The two brothers were thumped around a bit in the corn fields by the Black and Tans and then thrown into the back of the lorry belonging to the Tans - they were pushed off the lorry outside the Bridewell Barracks in Gort and put in a cell. People in near-by cells later reported hearing the brothers being battered by the Tans, who were well aware that the Loughnane brothers were active in the struggle for Irish Freedom.
After three or four hours of beating , the brothers were dragged out to the courtyard of Gort Bridewell and tied to each other ; the other end of the rope was then tied to the back of the truck, which drove off, heading for Drumharsna Castle, which was then the headquarters of the Black and Tans in that area of Galway. Both Pat and Harry Loughnane were at that stage too weak to run behind the truck, and ended up being dragged on the ground behind it and, on arrival at Drumharsna Castle, the rope was untied from the truck and the two men were dragged into another cell and beaten again. At around 10.30 or 11pm that same night (Friday 26th November 1920) the Loughnane brothers were removed from the cell and put in the back of the truck ; they were pushed out of the back of same after travelling a few miles - the brothers would have been too dazed to realise it, but they were now in Moy O'Hynes Wood, and were being taken deep into the thicket of it by the Black and Tans.
Locals later reported hearing four shots and, the following day (Saturday, 27th November 1920), rumour was rife in the neighbourhood that Pat and Harry Loughnane had been dragged into the Moy O'Hynes Wood and shot dead by the Black and Tans but that rumour also insisted that Harry Loughnane somehow survived the ordeal - and the Tans heard that same rumour. It was early on Sunday morning (28th November 1920) that the Black and Tans again entered the Wood - they were observed loading something into the back of their lorry and driving off at speed towards the small town of Umbriste (near Ardrahan, on the Gort to Clarinbridge road) ; it later transpired that the Black and Tans burned the bodies of the Loughnane brothers when they arrived at Umbriste but even then they were not satisfied - so they dug a hole and threw the bodies into it. However, because of the rocky terrain, the Tans were unable to fully cover their tracks and were convinced that the charred remains would be found. They dug them up and carried them to a near-by pond, weighted them down, and threw them in - they then apparently poured a couple of gallons of dirty engine oil into the pond at that same spot.
That happened on Sunday, 28th November ; the following day - Monday 29th November, 1920, 97 years ago on this date - they called to the Loughnane home and told the boys' mother that they were looking for her two sons - that they had escaped from custody and were "on the run". The Tans knew well enough where the two brothers were but, as well as deliberately giving false hope to the family, they were in the process of concocting an alibi for themselves. However, at this stage, the family and friends did not know any better and search-parties were organised to look for Pat and Harry, two 'fugitives on the run from British injustice', as it was thought at the time.
There was a heavy presence of Black and Tans at the funerals of Pat and Harry Loughnane, but the IRA called their bluff just as the burial ceremony was coming to an end - six armed IRA Volunteers stood over the grave and a three-volley shot was given. The kidnap, torture, abuse and manner of death suffered by Pat and Harry Loughnane is the most horrific incident that this author has come across in researching articles for this blog. Even in times of war, the fate deliberately inflicted on the brothers was inhuman. At the risk of sounding like we are trying to score a cheap political point, we remind our readers that the military kin of the Black and Tans are still in this country. And they receive their instructions from the same political institution which gave the Tans their orders. Think of that, next time you hear talk of "dissident republicans" in Ireland, and ask yourself how could you be but "dissident" to British rule in any part of this country? And ask yourself when have true Irish republicans ever been but "dissident"?
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.
THE LATE ALICE FRENCH...
Alice French came from a family which has become almost synonomous with republicanism in County Louth. Her father's house at Smarmore, Ardee, was well known to the active members of the IRB, long before 1916 and was still available in 1916 and during the Black and Tan and the Free State wars. Her brothers were active Volunteers and her sister Maire suffered imprisonment in Kilmainham, the North Dublin Union and other jails for her work for the Cause.
Two days before the Truce on the 11th July 1921, the house at Smarmore was invaded by a mixed band of Auxiliaries and Black and Tans and, although the signing of the Truce was already publicly known, the house was ransacked and it and the barn were set on fire. Later, like so many other families in Ireland, the French family had the galling experience of having their home raided and searched by men who had formerly been given food and shelter there, but who were now *doing the work of the enemy. In spite of all this, Alice French kept the spirit of hope alive, hope that one day our people would side with the right side again, that they would return to their old allegiance - to Ireland, a Nation from centre to sea - and united on that basis, would take up the struggle where it was left off at the Truce and this time carry it to victory.
For this she earnestly worked, for this she ceaselessly prayed and we may be sure, now that she is gone to her Heavenly reward, that she will continue to pray for help and guidance for all who strive to serve the Cause which was so dear to her heart. Solus na bflaithis da h-anam. Her funeral was attended by her brothers, sisters, relatives and a large circle of friends. At the graveside, Tomas O Dubhghaill, Uachtaran, Sinn Féin, paid a short tribute to her memory on behalf of the Republican Movement. (*..history repeats itself, unfortunately.)
(Next, from the same source : 'Memorials Defaced - Why?').
"WE ARE MENTAL HEALTH WARRIORS AND THIS IS OUR VOICE.."
'Ireland has the fourth highest rate of suicide amongst teenagers in the EU, according to a new report. Unicef, the United Nations' childrens' arm, has released its latest report card on child well-being which shows that Ireland's rate for teens losing their lives by suicide is above the international average. Ireland's rate is 10.3 amongst adolescents aged between 15 and 19 per 100,000 population, which ranks it 34th out of 37 wealthy nations surveyed..' (from here.)
A march to highlight the lack of action from those in Leinster House to the high rate of suicide in this State will be held in Dublin on Monday, 4th December next, at 5pm. We will be assembling at St. Patricks Cathedral and marching to City Hall, where a petition will be handed in. A few words will be delivered, a song or two will be sung, pics of lost loved ones will be on display, and pairs of shoes - now empty - will be lined-up on the street to represent those no longer with us. The political will to do something serious about this issue is not there, and it won't be unless we can bring enough pressure to bear on those who, for example, would rather spend taxpayers money to help secure their own political futures in their own constituències than spend it where it could do more good.
Deeming that I were better dead,
"How shall I kill myself?" I said.
Thus mooning by the river Seine
I sought extinction without pain,
when on a bridge I saw a flash
of lingerie and heard a splash..
so as I am a swimmer stout
I plunged and pulled the poor wretch out.
The female that I saved? Ah yes,
to yield the morgue of one corpse the less,
apart from all heroic action,
gave me a moral satisfaction.
Was she an old and withered hag,
too tired of life to long to lag?
Ah no, she was so young and fair
I fell in love with her right there... (more here.)
Please show your support - Monday, 4th December 2017, 5pm, St. Patricks Cathedral, Dublin.
A FEW HOURS IN 2017, 8,760 in 2018!
The 8,760 hours represents the number of hours there are in 2018, which is nearly upon us, which means that your 2017 calendar will be out of date, which means that you'll need an up-to-date one. And you can get one of them for a fiver in the RSF Dublin Office when you get in touch with them to make a donation to the Swim fund! Now that's multitasking..!
the Omagh Raid on October 17 last (1954). The circumstances surrounding the arrest and trial of Phil Clarke and his comrades are ample proof that there are young men in Ireland today who have taken the words of Pearse to heart : "It is not enough to say merely 'I believe', one must also say 'I serve' ".
THE STRUGGLE IS COMING.
Of the outcome we are in no doubt. That the balance of the physical strength lies more with you than with us little daunts us, for we are heartened by the fact that the Cause we serve cannot fail. The struggle is coming - the issues themselves are clear. Either we shall succeed in re-establishing the Irish Republic or you shall succeed in keeping us slaves ; either we shall break the connection for ever or you shall weather another storm of militant nationalism.
In a word, either we shall overthrow you, or die."
(END of 'After 32 Years - An Open Letter' : Next - 'Alarm In Unionist Camp', from the same newspaper.)
ON THIS DATE (29TH NOVEMBER) 60 YEARS AGO : "NOT BREAKING THE PEACE, BUT ATTEMPTING TO RESTORE IT" - CAPTURED IRA MEN.
On the 29th November 1957 - 60 years ago on this date - three Irishmen were 'arrested' near the border by British Army troops. Liam Gleeson, Limerick, Seán Daly, Clonakilty, Cork and Kevin McCooey from Monaghan, were each sentenced to six months imprisonment at a sitting of County Cavan District Court - that sitting of the court was kept secret, as indeed was the 'arrest' of the three men, as the media was not notified that anything at all had happened, or was happening. The three men were removed after sentencing to a secure location in Monaghan and then forced into the back of a lorry, accompanied by Special Branch men armed with sub-machine guns, and driven to the Bridewell Prison in Dublin, where they were placed in solitary confinement until they were moved to Mountjoy Jail.
Interviewed later by republican sources, Liam Gleeson repeated the statement he had read aloud during his 'court case' - "We are not ashamed of our actions and activities that are the causes of our being here today - indeed we consider it a great honour and a great privilege to have tried in some small way to free our country of the Imperial forces of occupation. We are sorry that we are being tried by fellow Irishmen. We think it a great tragedy, Irishmen putting Irishmen behind bars and England laughs at us. We have been sentenced for unlawful possession of arms. We don't think it an unlawful act to use arms against our enemy, England.
We don't require 'firearms certificates' to fire on members of the forces of occupation in the Six Counties. We are not breaking the peace, we are attempting to restore peace - a just peace based on justice for everyone. England has broken every pact and treaty we made with them. They have no word, they have no honour, when dealing with us. They have shown an utter disregard for the continued demand of the Irish people for freedom. But there is one thing they fear and dread - young Irishmen with guns in their hands ready to fight for the freedom they demand."
Words that echo as true today as they did when Liam Gleeson and his comrades were 'arrested' by fellow Irishmen on this date - 29th November - 60 years ago.
ON THIS DATE (29TH NOVEMBER) 96 YEARS AGO : IRA CONFIRM EXECUTION OF BRITISH ARMY OFFICERS.
'Capt M H W Green - removed and shot. Capt S Chambers - removed and shot. Lt W S Watts - removed and shot..there were 4 officers in mufti in a 3rd class compartment travelling from Cork (they thought it less conspicuous to travel 3rd class). There were 10 people in the compartment. The officers were en route to Bere Island. The soldiers were Lt R R Goode (inspector of Army Schools), Capt Reedy R.E. Chambers and Green. The train stopped at Waterfall, 6 miles from Cork. 3 armed civilians entered their compartment. Looking at Chambers one of these armed men said "That is one of them" and looking at Green said "That is the other". Chambers and Green were then marched out with their hands up and were last seen at the bridge over the railway..Watts had decided to travel First Class and was by himself. Reedy only realised Watts was missing when the train got to Kinsale Junction and he could not find Watts..Goode added to his statement that he knew that Chambers had been responsible for the arrest of Father O'Donnell (Chaplin to the Australian Forces) in Oct 1919 for seditious language..Goode also said that Chambers and Green had the previous week been witnesses to the murder of 2 RIC constables at Ballybrack in the course of a railway journey..Goode believed that Green was carrying an automatic pistol, but believed that the others were unarmed..1921 Nov 29 - the IRA confirm that the men were executed, but details of their burial place did not emerge..' (from here.)
"Capture of British Intelligence Officers at Waterfall. On 17th November 1920, as a result of information received, a few of our lads armed with revolvers were watching the trains. Four British Intelligence officers were seen to enter a first class compartment and the boys got on the train with them. When the train stopped at Waterfall Station, which is the first station on the way to Macroom, our lads ordered the British officers out and shot them there and then..." - Michael Murphy, Cork Commandant IRA.
The lesson, whether it should have been learned in 1921 (if not centuries earlier!) or will be learned even at this late stage by those who think they have secured their political future and that of this Free State, is a simple one : 'Ireland unfree shall never be at peace'.
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!
SEND OUT THE HORSE.
The hair on his head was sandy and strong. It used to be long in his hippie days, but when the hippies became commonplace, he moved on. His main physical characteristic was his bulk - he was solid, not fat, about twelve stone. His bulk was muscle. I remembered him from his youth when he wore bell-bottomed tailored trousers, a caftan overcoat with a cloth handbag draped over his shoulders on a long strap, and almost singularly walked about the back streets of the Falls Road in this fashion.
It seemed that this Falls Road iconoclast was daring anyone to pass a remark, not so much about his clothes, but about the fact that he was wearing them. Few did! On first appearances he was brash, loud and wickedly impish and, when you got to know him, it was clear that he was brash, loud and wickedly impish! His image was that of a hard man ; he came from a place and a time where if you weren't a hard man then you had to give the impression that you were. Both these traits were important, but as long as you exhibited either one of them, you were rarely tested, although he tested them in others like a gunfighter who has to know who's the fastest.
He didn't hide behind any facade, he wasn't that superficial, but he wasn't deep, either. He didn't choose his friends carefully, but he jettisoned false friends quickly - his friendship wasn't hard-fought for, but he coveted it like a farmer would his prize bull. He was totally genuine, generous and absolutely honest. His sense of humour was a surprise to me. It was mine! It took me about two days to realise I had a friend for life... (MORE LATER).
Thanks for reading,