Thursday, December 27, 2018



The Cabhair Swim site, 3rd Lock, Inchicore, Dublin, pictured at 9am on Christmas Day, 2018.

A swim in the foggy dew - not really, as it had cleared-up by about 10.30am, when we got there, but the Cabhair Crew, who arrived on site at about 8.30am to begin assembling all the paraphernalia that goes with an 'outdoor gig' of this size, told us that visibility was only about fifteen feet, due to the heavy fog, until about half ten, when it lifted - but they were delighted that it wasn't raining, like last year, when all of us on-lookers got as wet as the swimmers!

Anyway - enough with the weather report : by the time we got there, the Crew were putting the finishing touches to the event, passers-by, on foot and in cars etc, were stopping for a chat and a mince pie and a few sweets and/or a drink (and not only lemonade, God bless their constitution!) and the scene was starting to buzz.

A Cabhair donation tin and some of the 'goodies', which those present helped themselves to.

The Cabhair Swim heating system ; not 100% efficient but, according to the swimmers, better than nothin'!

And then the fun (!) began : the Crew had to forcibly stop all six swimmers from jumping in at the same time (yeah, right...) and straws were drawn...

..resulting in one brave man (the 'winner' of the shortest straw competition!) 'volunteering' to test the waters for his comrades!

'Short Straw' was then joined by two more swimmers.. of whom made a break for dry land..

..but took the scenic route back.. give one of the lads a hand out!

And, finally, with the help of a sharp instrument -

- the six swimmers were corralled around the fire to have their picture taken :

And then all six were escorted off the premises and the rest of us had a party. Couldn't let them stay, as they were dripping like mad yokes all over the beer, the cider and the 'goodies'. But they were allowed to keep the T-shirts, and told to behave themselves next year...!

Thanks to Cabhair for putting the event together - for the 42nd consecutive year - and a BIG 'GRMA' to the swimmers and their sponsors, and to the on-lookers ; couldn't have done it without ya!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018



On Wednesday, 19th December 1877 - 141 years ago on this date - Michael Davitt (pictured), 'the father of the Irish Land League', was released from Dartmoor Prison in Princetown, Devon, in England, having served seven years in savage conditions. He was 31 years of age at that time.

This Irish 'dissident' was born on the 25th March, 1846, in Straide, County Mayo, at the height of An Gorta Mór ('the Great Hunger/attempted genocide') and the poverty of those times affected the Davitt family - he was the second of five children and was only four years of age when his family were evicted from their home over rent owed and his father, Martin, was left with no choice but to travel to England to look for work.

Martin's wife, Sabina, and their five children, were given temporary accommodation by the local priest in Straide. The family were eventually reunited, in England, where young Michael attended school for a few years. His family were struggling, financially, so he obtained work, aged 9, as a labourer (he told his boss he was 13 years old and got the job - working from 6am to 6pm, with a ninty-minute break and a wage of 2s.6d a week) but within weeks he had secured a 'better' job, operating a spinning machine but, at only 11 years of age, his right arm got entangled in the machinery and had to be amputated. There was no compensation offered, and no more work, either, for a one-armed machine operator, but he eventually managed to get a job helping the local postmaster.

He was sixteen years young at that time, and was curious about his Irish roots and wanted to know more - he learned all he could about Irish history and, at 19 years young, joined the Fenian movement in England. Two years afterwards he became the organising secretary for northern England and Scotland for that organisation and, at 25 years of age, he was arrested in Paddington Station in London after the British had uncovered an IRB operation to import arms. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, on a 'hard labour' ticket, and served seven years in Dartmoor Prison in horrific conditions before being released in 1877, at the age of 31, on Wednesday, December 19th - 141 years ago on this date.

He returned to Ireland and was seen as a hero by his own people, and travelled extensively in his native Connaught, observing how, in his absence, nothing had improved for the working class. He realised that if the power of the tenant farmers could be organised, it would be possible to bring about the improvements that were badly needed, and he arranged a convention in August of 1879 ; the result was a body called the 'National Land League of Mayo' :

'This body shall be known as the National Land League of Mayo and shall consist of farmers and others who will agree to labour for the objects here set forth, and subscribe to the conditions of membership, principles, and rules specified below.

Objects: The objects for which this body is organised are —

1) To watch over the interests of the people it represents and protect the same, as far as may be in its power to do so, from an unjust or capricious exercise of power or privilege on the part of landlords or any other class in the community.

2) To resort to every means compatible with justice, morality, and right reason, which shall not clash defiantly with the constitution upheld by the power of the British empire in this country, for the abolition of the present land laws of Ireland and the substitution in their place of such a system as shall be in accord with the social rights and necessities of our people, the traditions and moral sentiments of our race, and which the contentment and prosperity of our country imperatively demand.

3) Pending a final and satisfactory settlement of the land question, the duty of this body will be to expose the injustice, wrong, or injury which may be inflicted upon any farmer in Mayo, either by rack-renting, eviction, or other arbitrary exercise of power which the existing laws enable the landlords to exercise over their tenantry, by giving all such arbitrary acts the widest possible publicity and meeting their perpetration with all the opposition which the laws for the preservation of the peace will permit of. In furthernance of which, the following plan will be adopted :— a. Returns to be obtained, printed, and circulated, of the number of landlords in this county ; the amount of acreage in possession of same, and the means by which such land was obtained ; farms let by each, with the conditions under which they are held by their tenants and excess of rent paid by same over the government valuation. b. To publish by placard, or otherwise, notice of contemplated evictions for non-payment of exorbitant rent or other unjust cause, and the convening of a public meeting, if deemed necessary or expedient, as near the scene of such evictions as circumstances will allow, and on the day fixed upon for the same. c. The publication of a list of evictions carried out, together with cases of rack-renting, giving full particulars of same, names of landlords, agents, etc, concerned, and number people evicted by such acts. d. The publication of the names of all persons who shall rent or occupy land or farms from which others have been dispossessed for non-payment of exorbitant rents, or who shall offer a higher rent for land or farms than that paid by the previous occupier. The publication of reductions of rent and acts of justice or kindness performed by landlords in the county.

4) This body to undertake the defence of such of its members, or those of local clubs affiliated with it, who may be required to resist by law the actions of landlords or their agents who may purpose doing them injury, wrong, or injustice in connexion with their land or farms.

5) To render assistance when possible to such farmer-members as may be evicted or otherwise wronged by landlords or their agents.

6) To undertake the organising of local clubs or defence associations in the baronies, towns, and parishes of this county, the holding of public meetings and demonstrations on the land question, and the printing of pamphlets on that and other subjects for the information of the farming classes.

7) And finally, to act as a vigilance committee in Mayo, note the conduct of its grand jury, poor law guardians, town commissioners, and members of parliament, and pronounce on the manner in which their respective functions are performed, wherever the interests, social or political, of the people represented by this club renders it expedient to do so.'

Thus began the land agitation movement. On the 21st October 1879, a meeting of concerned individuals was held in the Imperial Hotel in Castlebar, County Mayo, to discuss issues in relation to 'landlordism' and the manner in which that subject impacted on those who worked on small land holdings on which they paid 'rent', an issue which other groups, such as tenants' rights organisations and groups who, confined by a small membership, agitated on land issues in their own locality, had voiced concern about.

Those present agreed to announce themselves as the 'Irish National Land League' (which, at its peak, had 200,000 active members) and Charles Stewart Parnell who, at 33 years of age, had been an elected member of parliament for the previous four years, was elected president of the new group and Andrew Kettle, Michael Davitt, and Thomas Brennan were appointed as honorary secretaries. That leadership had 'form' in that each had made a name for themselves as campaigners on social issues of the day and were, as such, 'known' to the British authorities - Davitt was a known member of the Supreme Council of the IRB and spoke publicly about the need " bring out a reduction of facilitate the obtaining of the ownership of the soil by the occupiers..the object of the League can be best attained by promoting organisation among the tenant-farmers ; by defending those who may be threatened with eviction for refusing to pay unjust rents ; by facilitating the working of the Bright clauses of the Irish Land Act during the winter and by obtaining such reforms in the laws relating to land as will enable every tenant to become owner of his holding by paying a fair rent for a limited number of years.."

Davitt realised that the 'Land League' would be well advised to seek support from outside of Ireland and, under the slogan 'The Land for the People', he toured America, being introduced in his activities there by John Devoy and, although he did not have official support from the Fenian leadership - some of whom were neutral towards him while others were suspicious and/or hostile of and to him - he obtained constant media attention and secured good support for the objectives of the organisation.

He died before he could accomplish all he wanted to, at 60 years of age, in Elphis Hospital in Dublin, on the 30th of May 1906, from blood poisoning : he had a tooth extracted and contracted septicaemia from the operation. His body was taken to the Carmelite Friary in Clarendon Street, Dublin, then by train to Foxford in Mayo and he was buried in Straide Abbey, near where he was born. The 'Father of the Irish Land League' was gone, but will not be forgotten.

'WE ASK FOR NO MERCY AND WE WILL MAKE NO COMPROMISE' - edited highlights of a speech on the 13th March, 1920, by Terence MacSwiney. From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.

"I come here more as a soldier stepping into the breach than an administrator to fill the first post in the municipality. We see in the manner in which our late Lord Major was murdered an attempt to terrify us all. Our first duty is to answer that threat in the only fitting manner by showing ourselves unterrified, cool and inflexible for the fulfilment of our chief purpose - the establishment of the independence and integrity of our country. To that end I am here.

The menace of our enemies hangs over us and the essential immediate purpose is to show the spirit that animates us and how we face the future. I wish to point out again the secret of our strength and the assurance of our final victory.

This contest of ours is not on our side a rivalry of vengeance, but one of endurance - it is not they who can inflict most but they who can suffer most will conquer. But it is conceivable that they could interrupt our course for a time ; then it becomes a question simply of trust in God and endurance..." (MORE LATER).


Austin Stack (pictured) was born on the 7th December, 1879, in Ballymullen, Tralee, County Kerry, and died in the Mater Hospital in Dublin, from complications after a stomach operation, on the 27th April 1929, at only 49 years of age. That wasn't soon enough, as far as his former comrades were concerned - he had remained a republican, and completely rejected their politics and their Free State.

He was arrested with Con Collins on the 21st April 1916 while planning an attack on Tralee RIC Barracks in an attempt to rescue Roger Casement. He was court-martialed and sentenced to death, but this was commuted to twenty years penal servitude and he was released in the general amnesty of June 1917, and became active in the Irish Volunteers again. He was elected Secretary of Sinn Féin, a position he held until his death. His health was shattered due to the number of prison protests and hunger strikes for political status that he undertook. In the 1918 general election, while a prisoner in Crumlin Road Jail in Belfast, he was elected to represent West Kerry in the First (all-Ireland) Dáil, and the British sent him off to Strangeways Prison in Manchester, from where he escaped in October 1919. During the 'Black and Tan War', as Minister for Home Affairs, Austin Stack organised the republican courts which replaced the British 'legal' system in this country.

He rejected the Treaty of Surrender in 1921 (stating, during the debate on same - "Has any man here the hardihood to stand up and say that it was for this our fathers suffered, that it was for this our comrades have died in the field and in the barrack yard.." ) and, following a short fund-raising/public relations tour of America, returned to Ireland to fight on the republican side in the Civil War.

In the general round-up of Irish republican leaders in April 1923 (during which Liam Lynch was shot dead by Free State troops) Stack, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the rebel forces, was arrested in a farmyard in the Knockmealdown Mountains in County Tipperary - this was four days after Lynch's death. Imprisoned in Kilmainham Jail in Dublin, he took part in the mass hunger-strike by republican prisoners in October 1923, which was his 5th hunger-strike in 6 years. Shortly after the end of that forty-one day hunger-strike, in November 1923, he was released with hundreds of other political prisoners, and he married his girlfriend, Una Gordon, in 1925. In April 1929, at forty-nine years of age, he entered the Mater Hospital in Dublin for a stomach operation. He never recovered and died two days later, on 27th April 1929. He is buried in the Republican Plot, Glasnevin Cemetery, in Dublin.

'Austin Stack was born in Ballymullen, Tralee and was educated at the local Christian Brothers School. At the age of fourteen he left school and became a clerk in a solicitor's office. A gifted Gaelic footballer, he captained the Kerry team to All-Ireland glory in 1904 and also served as President of the Kerry Gaelic Athletic Association County Board. He became politically active in 1908 when he joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and, in 1916, as commandant of the Kerry Brigade of the Irish Volunteers, he made preparations for the landing of arms by Roger Casement, on Banna Strand.

Although Austin Stack was made aware that Casement was arrested and was being held in Ballymullen Barracks in Tralee, he made no attempt to rescue him : RIC District Inspector Kearney treated Casement very well and made sure Stack was aware that Casement could so easily have been rescued, yet Stack refused to move (possibly sensing that a trap had been laid for him?) but he was arrested anyway and sentenced to death for his involvement, but this was later commuted to penal servitude for life. He was released under general amnesty in June 1917 after the death of fellow prisoner and Tralee man Thomas Patrick Ashe and was elected as an abstentionist Sinn Féin Member of Parliament for Kerry West in the 1918 Westminster election, becoming a member of the 1st Dail and was automatically elected as an abstentionist member of the 'House of Commons of Southern Ireland' and a member of the 2nd Dail as a Sinn Féin Teachta Dála for Kerry-Limerick West in the Irish elections of 1921.

He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and took part in the subsequent Irish Civil War. He was captured in 1923 and went on hunger strike for forty-one days before being released in July 1924...when Eamon de Valera founded Fianna Fail in 1926, Stack remained with Sinn Féin..his health never recovered after his hunger strike and he died in a Dublin hospital on April 27th 1929, aged 49.'
(from here, slightly edited.)

A commemorative pamphlet, entitled 'What Exactly is a Republican?' was issued in memory of the man - 'The name republican in Ireland, as used amongst republicans, bears no political meaning. It stands for the devout lover of his country, trying with might and main for his country's freedom. Such a man cannot be a slave. And if not a slave in heart or in act, he cannot be guilty of the slave vices. No coercion can breed these in the freeman. Fittingly, the question - 'What is a republican?' fails to be answered in our memorial number for Austin Stack, a man who bore and dared and suffered, remaining through it all and at the worst, the captain of his own soul. What then was Austin Stack, republican? A great lover of his country. A man without a crooked twist in him. One who thought straight, acted straight, walked the straight road unflinchingly and expected of others that they should walk it with him, as simply as he did himself. No man could say or write of him "He had to do it". That plea of the slave was not his. His duty, as conscience and love dictated, he did. The force of England, of the English Slave State, might try coercion, as they tried it many times : it made no difference. He went his way, suffered their will, and stood his ground doggedly, smiling now and again. His determination outstood theirs, because it had a deeper foundation and a higher aim. Compromise, submission, the slave marks, did not and could not exist for him as touching himself, or the Cause for which he worked and fought,lived and died.'

Pictured - an IRA unit in Kerry, circa 1921.

Austin Stack fought physically and verbally for the Irish Republic and, on the 19th December, 1921 - 97 years ago, on this date - he said the following in Dáil Éireann in relation to the Westminster-'offered' (and Free State accepted) 'Treaty of Surrender' : "It happens to be my privilege to rise immediately after the President to support his motion that this House do not approve of the document which has been presented to them. I shall be very brief ; I shall confine myself to what I regard as the chief defects in the document, namely, those which conflict with my idea of Irish Independence.

I regard clauses in this agreement as being the governing clauses. These are Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4. In No.I, England purports to bestow on Ireland, an ancient nation, the same constitutional status as any of the British Dominions, and also to bestow her with a Parliament having certain powers. To look at the second clause, it starts off — "Subject to provisions hereinafter set out.." — and then she tries to limit you to the powers of the Dominion of Canada. What they may mean I cannot say, beyond this, that the Canadian Dominion is set up under a very old Act which considerably limits its powers. No doubt the words "law, practice, and constitutional usage" are here. I cannot define what these may mean. Other speakers who will come before the assembly may be able to explain them. I certainly cannot. To let us assume that this clause gives to this country full Canadian powers, I for one cannot accept from England full Canadian powers, three-quarter Canadian powers, or half Canadian powers.

I stand for what is Ireland's right, full independence and nothing short of it. It is easy to understand that countries like Australia, New Zealand and the others can put up with the powers which are bestowed on them, can put up with acknowledgements to the monarch and rule of Great Britain as head of their State, for have they not all sprung from England? Are they not children of England? Have they not been built up by Great Britain? Have they not been protected by England and lived under England's flag for all time? What other feeling can they have but affection for England, which they always regarded as their motherland?

This country, on the other hand, has not been a child of England's, nor never was. England came here as an invader, and for 750 years we have been resisting that conquest. Are we now after those 750 years to bend the knee and acknowledge that we received from England as a concession full, or half, or three-quarter Dominion powers? I say no. Clause 3 of this Treaty gives us a representative of the Crown in Ireland appointed in the same manner as a Governor-General. That Governor-General will act in all respects in the name of the King of England. He will represent the King in the Capital of Ireland and he will open the Parliament which some members of this House seem to be willing to attend. I am sure none of them, indeed, is very anxious to attend it under the circumstances, but, if they accept this Treaty they will have to attend Parliament summoned in the name of the King of Great Britain and Ireland. There is no doubt about that whatever. The fourth paragraph sets out the form of oath, and this form of oath may be divided into two parts. In the first part you swear "true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State as by law established." As the President has stated, according to the Constitution which will be sanctioned under that Parliament, it will be summoned by the representative of the King of England and Ireland and will acknowledge that King.

I say even that part of the oath is nothing short of swearing allegiance to the head of that Constitution which will be the King. You express it again when you swear, "and that I will be faithful to His Majesty King George V., his heirs and successors by law." That is clear enough, and I have no hesitation whatever in reading the qualifying words. I say these qualifying words in no way alter the text, or form, or effect of this oath, because what you do in that is to explain the reason why you give faith, why you pledge fealty to King George. You say it is in virtue of the common citizenship of Ireland with Great Britain and the meaning of that is that you are British subjects. You are British subjects without a doubt, and I challenge anyone here to stand and prove otherwise than that according to this document.

If ever you want to travel abroad, to a country where a passport is necessary, your passport must be issued from the British Foreign Office and you must be described as a British subject on it. If you are mean enough to accept this Treaty, time will tell. You wind up by saying that you further acknowledge that King in virtue of Ireland's adherence to and membership of the group of nations known as the British Commonwealth of Nations, and all that, of course, is really consistent with the whole thing. You will become a member of the British Empire. Now this question of the oath has an extraordinary significance for me, for, so far as I can trace, no member of my family has ever taken an oath of allegiance to England's King. When I say that I do not pretend for a moment that men who happened to be descended from, or to be sons of men who took oaths of allegiance to England's Kings, or men who themselves took oaths of allegiance to England's Kings are any worse for it. There are men in this assembly who have been comrades of mine in various places, who have been fighting the same fight as I have been fighting, the same fight which we have all been fighting, and which I sincerely hope we will be fighting together again ere long. There are men with whom I was associated in this fight whose fathers had worn England's uniform and taken oaths of allegiance, and these men were as good men and took their places as well in the fight for Irish independence as any man I ever met.

But what I wish to say is this: I was nurtured in the traditions of Fenianism. My father wore England's uniform as a comrade of Charles Kickham and O'Donovan Rossa when as a '67 man he was sentenced to ten years for being a rebel, but he wore it minus the oath of allegiance. If I, as I hope I will, try to continue to fight for Ireland's liberty, even if this rotten document be accepted, I will fight minus the oath of allegiance and to wipe out the oath of allegiance if I can do it. Now I ask you has any man here the idea in his head, has any man here the hardihood to stand up and say that it was for this our fathers have suffered, that it was for this our comrades have died on the field and in the barrack yard. If you really believe in your hearts that it was vote for it. If you don't believe it in your hearts vote against it. It is for you now to make up your minds. To-day or to-morrow will be, I think, the most fateful days in Irish history. I will conclude by quoting two of Russell Lowell's lines : —
"Once to every man and nation comes a moment to decide,

In the strife 'twixt truth and falsehood for the good or evil side."

Unfortunately, the "evil side" is, at the time of writing, in the majority. But it's early yet...

(Incidentally, on this date, 97 years ago [19th December 1921], one of those who signed and accepted the 'Treaty of Surrender' attempted to explain, probably more so to himself than to those who were in his presence, why he had done so - "I do not seek to shield myself from the charge of having broken my oath of allegiance to the Republic — my signature is proof of that fact. That oath was, and still is to me, the most sacred bond on earth..." - a poor effort at absolving himself for doing the wrong thing, in our opinion : more here.)


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.

At a special meeting of the San Francisco branch of the 'Irish Republican Prisoner's Aid Committee', held on January 20th, 1955, the following resolution was unanimously passed : 'WHEREAS the English Government, for eight centuries, has been guilty of invasion, confiscation, aggression and persecution in Ireland, and still pursues the policy, despite the world-wide maxim of peace-loving nations that all people should be allowed to govern themselves, free of outside interference and WHEREAS at the present time a number of young Irish patriots have been brutally sentenced to from four to twelve years penal servitude in English prisons and in Crumlin Road Jail in Belfast for asserting their God-given rights to freedom from an alien enemy tyrant, therefore BE IT RESOLVED that we, Americans of Irish birth and extraction, meeting under the auspices of the 'Irish Republican Prisoner's Aid Committee' of San Francisco, on this twentieth day of January 1955, emphatically protest the foul policy of Britain in imposing barbarous measures of punishment on Irish patriots who are entitled, under the circumstances, to treatment of prisoners of war and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we pledge our moral support to these patriotic soldiers of Ireland and our financial support to their dependents during their long and trying years ahead."

(END of 'San Francisco' : NEXT - 'Derry Men Fined', 'GAA Support' and 'Mistaken Identity', from the same source.)


The question is no longer whether there is corruption within our political establishment but whether the political establishment is itself corrupt.

By Vincent Browne.

From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

At present, private investors on the Irish Stock Exchange own shares to an estimated value of £8 billion ; over the last year alone, the value of these shares would have increased by about £200 million. The tax on this realisable gain alone has been cut by £40 million! Of course, the capital gain on such stocks would be far greater that £40 million, taking the gain over the last several years.

And that capital gain represents only a fraction of the capital gain generated generally in the economy - it does not include, for instance, the capital gain from investment in property. Therefore, the benefit to the rich by this tax reduction is probably of the order of £100 million, although Charlie McCreevy stated that the cost to the exchequer in a single year was only £19 million. Either this was done to benefit the rich generally - on top of the benefit they gained by the reduction in the top rate of income tax - or perhaps for the benefit of a particular individual. Either way, it is a disgrace. And particularly a disgrace given the paucity of the increases in social welfare and the deferral (again) of the implementation of the benefit, such as it was.

In that vivid phrase of the hapless Michael Lowry, the cosy cartels are indeed very cosy. They have three parties to represent their interests (Fianna Fáil, the Progressive Democrats and Fine Gael) and they have little to fear from a tame Labour Party and a timorous Democratic Left. (END of 'ON THE TAKE' ; Next, from the same source : 'A NEW THEORY OF RELATIVITY', by Pat Rabbitte.)


We'll be busy ourselves over the Christmas period, as usual - but, again as usual, we don't mind, as it's for a good cause! The 42nd successive Cabhair Christmas Swim will be held on Christmas Day 2018 at about 12 noon, at the 3rd Lock of the Grand Canal in Inchicore, Dublin, and we hope to be fit enough after it to post a few words and pics here on Stephen's Day (or thereabouts - probably thereabouts!) - if you can make it, well and good, you'll be made welcome and we'll see ya there but, if you can't make it, not to worry : we know you'll be there in spirit and, if you want to contribute, donations can be sent to CABHAIR – Irish Republican Prisoners Dependants Fund, 223 Sráid Pharnell, BÁC 1, Éire. All donations are gratefully received and a receipt will be issued.

CABHAIR is a charitable organisation, solely dependant on public subscriptions. It was established in early 1987, following the revolutionary / reformist split in the republican movement, for "the relief of cases of distress arising out of republican activity". Immediately following the Ard-Fheis of Sinn Féin in 1986 when the Provisionals departed from the republican road a number of Irish political prisoners in England, the Six Counties and the 26 Counties adhered to the revolutionary path and refused to accept support from the Provisionals.

To meet this pressing need CABHAIR was formed and has continued with this noble work. Prisoners that they have cared for have been released on completion of sentence and others have gone to prison. At no time since 1987 have no prisoners been in CABHAIR’s care. As long as British rule continues in Ireland, Irish people will resist that foreign occupation and, unfortunately, there will be political prisoners.

We hope you have a Happy Christmas, and thank you for continuing to visit our wee corner of the interweb - much appreciated!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018



On Monday, 5th of December in 1921 - 97 years ago on this date - in Downing Street in London, the then British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, announced to the Irish side in the 'Treaty' negotiations (pictured) that he had written two letters, one of which would now be sent to his people in Ireland ; one letter told of a peaceful outcome to the negotiations, the other told of a breakdown in the negotiations - Lloyd George stated that if he sent the latter one " is war, and war within three days. Which letter am I to send?"

That 'War Letter' meeting took place, as stated, on the afternoon of Monday 5th December 1921 ; at around 7pm that same evening, Michael Collins and his negotiating team left that Downing Street meeting to discuss the matter between themselves and returned to Downing Street later that night. Collins and Griffith (both pro-Treaty) had pressurised their colleague, Robert Childers Barton (the Irish Minister for Economic Affairs) to accept the Treaty of Surrender, telling him that if he did not sign then he would be responsible for "Irish homes (being) laid waste and the youth of Ireland (being) butchered.." and, at about 11pm on Monday, 5th December 1921, Barton signed the document.

Ten days later (ie on the 15th December 1921) Barton (pictured) had this to say in relation to that eventful day - "I want first of all to say we were eight and a half hours on that Monday in conference with the English representatives and the strain of an eight and a half hours conference and the struggle of it is a pretty severe one. One, when I am asked a question like that, "Was it or was it not?", I cannot give you an answer. But as regards particular aspects of that question, which I cannot take on oath, I can only give you my impression. It is in my notes that the answer is given, and it is there because it was my impression of that conference. It did appear to me that Mr. Lloyd George spoke to me and I had an impression that he actually mentioned my name ; but I could not swear on oath that he mentioned my name, or actually addressed me when he spoke. It appeared to me that he spoke to me. What he did say was that the signature and the recommendation of every member of the delegation was necessary, or war would follow immediately and that the responsibility for that war must rest directly upon those who refused to sign the Treaty.."

On the 19th December that year, Barton, speaking in Leinster House, declared - "I am going to make plain to you the circumstances under which I find myself in honour bound to recommend the acceptance of the Treaty. In making that statement I have one object only in view, and that is to enable you to become intimately acquainted with the circumstances leading up to the signing of the Treaty and the responsibility forced on me had I refused to sign. I do not seek to shield myself from the charge of having broken my oath of allegiance to the Republic — my signature is proof of that fact. That oath was, and still is to me, the most sacred bond on earth.

I broke my oath because I judged that violation to be the lesser of alternative outrages forced upon me, and between which I was compelled to choose. On Sunday, December 4th, the Conference had precipitately and definitely broken down. An intermediary effected contact next day, and on Monday at 3pm, Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, and myself met the English representatives. In the struggle that ensued Arthur Griffith sought repeatedly to have the decision between war and peace on the terms of the Treaty referred back to this assembly. This proposal Mr. Lloyd George directly negatived.

He claimed that we were plenipotentiaries and that we must either accept or reject. Speaking for himself and his colleagues, the English Prime Minister with all the solemnity and the power of conviction that he alone, of all men I met, can impart by word and gesture — the vehicles by which the mind of one man oppresses and impresses the mind of another — declared that the signature and recommendation of every member of our delegation was necessary or war would follow immediately. He gave us until 10 o'clock to make up our minds, and it was then about 8.30. We returned to our house to decide upon our answer. The issue before us was whether we should stand behind our proposals for external association, face war and maintain the Republic, or whether we should accept inclusion in the British Empire and take peace..."

At about fifteen minutes past two on the morning of Tuesday 6th December 1921, Michael Collins and his team accepted 'Dominion status' and an Oath which gave "allegiance" to the Irish Free State and "fidelity" to the British Crown - the Treaty was signed and, on the 7th January 1922,the political institution in Leinster House voted to accept it, leading to a walk-out by then-principled members who, in effect, were refusing to assist in the setting-up of a British-sponsored 'parliament' in the newly-created Irish Free State. The British so-called 'House of Commons' (401 for, 58 against) and its 'House of Lords' (166 for, 47 against) both ascribed 'legitimacy' to the new State on the 16th December 1921 - the IRA, however, at an army convention held on the 26th March 1922 (at which 52 out of the 73 IRA Brigades were present,despite said gathering having been forbidden by the Leinster House institution!) rejected the Treaty of Surrender, stating that Leinster House had betrayed the Irish republican ideal.

Within six months a Civil War was raging in Ireland, between the British-supported Free Staters and the Irish republicans who did not accept that 'Treaty'. And, today, 97 years after that infamous 'War Letter' meeting was held, the struggle continues to remove the British political and military presence from Ireland.

'BELFAST JAIL SENTENCE' AND 'SOUTH KERRY'S HEROIC DEAD'. From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.

26th August 1954.


Sir - I have read in your paper about a man in possession of a number of copies of 'The United Irishman' newspaper who has been sent to jail. Strange that I get the newspaper here constantly and I have not been sent to jail. In fact, I take this opportunity of informing you that your newspaper finds its way even to distant Japan!

Yours sincerely,

Joseph P. O'Shaughnessy,

26 Bracey Street,

Finsbury Park,

London N4.


On Saturday evening, October 23rd 1954, a Testimonial and Dance will be held at Croke Park, 240 Street and Broadway, New York City. The proceeds will go to erect a Memorial in Cahirciveen to the memory of the men* in South Kerry who died fighting for Irish freedom. We, the members of the South Kerry Memorial Committee, appeal through the 'United Irishmen' newspaper to all Clan na Gael and Irish Republican Army Clubs of greater New York to support this very worthy cause. For information phone John Clifford of the 3rd Kerry Brigade, Ket. 8-4614, or Jack Lynch, Mo. 5-9484.

(*'1169' Comment - what, no women..?)

(END of 'Belfast Jail Sentence' and 'South Kerry's Heroic Dead' : next, from the same source - 'We Ask For No Mercy And We Will Make No Compromise' - Terence MacSwiney.)


John Atherton was born in 1598 in Somerset, in England, into a 'well-to-do' Anglican family and received an education suiting his 'standing' in the society of his day ; Oxford University. At 36 years young, in 1634, and with a reputation as a 'career clergyman' - he had 'worked' his way up to secure a position for himself as the vicar of Huish Champflower, in Somerset - he was appointed as the 'Lord Bishop of Waterford and Lismore' by 'Governor' Thomas Wentworth (a lickspittle, 'King' Charles' representative on Earth) and himself and his wife, Joan Leakey, moved to Ireland.

He 'announced' his presence in Ireland that same year by seeing to it that the so-called 'Irish House of Commons' passed legislation entitled 'An Act for the Punishnment for the Vice of Buggery' and it has been suggested that, due to his 'colourful lifestyle' - he moved in circles in which financial and sexual wheelings and dealings were used as bargaining chips - he himself was not adversed to seeking favours from either side of the house! Indeed, the political and religious culture at the time was such that no less a figure than Jonathan Swift would later declare that members of English 'society class' who were sent to Ireland to further their career and enhance their status (!) were being murdered en route and replaced by criminals!

As befitting Englishmen from a certain background, the good Bishop had a 'household' to do his bidding (!) and his 'steward/title proctor', a Mr John Childe and himself were said to be 'close' to each other and - lo and behold! - but didn't they find themselves up in court charged with 'indecent behaviour' under the same Act that the Bishop himself had 'squeezed' his friends in the 'House of Commons' to pass! And so it was that on the 5th of December in the year 1640 - 378 years ago on this date, at 42 years of age - Bishop Atherton was taken to Gallows Green (now 'Stephens Green') in Dublin and hanged by the neck until dead. His 'steward/title proctor/manfriend', John Childe, was similarly rewarded a few months later.

Mr Atherton was never 'defrocked', as the 'defrocker' of the day was dead and had not been replaced, thus achieving for the good Bishop the unenviable distinction of being the only Anglican bishop hanged for buggery, and himself and Mr Childe also made the grade in that they were only the second pair of 'close friends' to be put to death for that indiscretion - they had followed in the famous footsteps of Mervyn Tuchet, the 'Earl of Castlehaven', and a member of his 'staff', who were put to death nine years previously for the same behaviour.

'Suppose a Devill from th’infernall Pit,

More Monsterlike, then ere was Devill yet,

Contrary to course, taking a male fiend

To Sodomize with him, such was the mind

Of this Lord Bishop, he did take a Childe

By name, not years, acting a sinne so vilde...'

Incidentally, the phrase de mortuis nil nisi bonum apparently had no currency then : shortly after 'polite society' has disposed of the good Bishop, t'was said he was up to all sorts with his sister-in-law and was also a sampler of zoophilia with cattle. Thank your God that you live in an enlightened era...


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.

"(IRA) membership," Mr. O'Donovan writes, "consists of young men who are half in love with death. They are not intellectuals but they are serious and steeped in Irish matters little to them that their policy is more likely to strengthen the existence of partition...or that the IRA's military plan is based on a false assumption and has no chance of success.."

Facts are facts and we welcome them. You are unfair to your own people and unjust to ours when you state as established fact your own imaginings. It is a fact that our young men in the IRA are not afraid of death in a just cause. Ireland's claim to unity and freedom is surely just and righteous. To say that men who are not afraid of death in such a cause, love death for itself, is ridiculous.

Men serious enough to be steeped in history surely take a serious interest in the policy they pursue and would not pursue tactics that would defeat the objective of such policy. On what basis of fact does Mr O'Donovan assume that the IRA's military plan is based on a false assumption and has no chance of success? Is the British Army invincible? Perhaps the USA, Egypt, Palestine etc are, unknown to us, still occupied by British forces!

(END of 'Irish History For The British' ; next - 'San Francisco', from the same source.)


The question is no longer whether there is corruption within our political establishment but whether the political establishment is itself corrupt.

By Vincent Browne.

From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

Was the 1993 State tax amnesty done to accommodate a single mega-rich taxpayer who was in trouble with the Revenue Commissioners and whose generosity to Fianna Fáil and perhaps to individuals within the party was considerable? So troubled was the then minister for finance, Bertie Ahern, with the proposal to introduce the scheme that he considered resignation*, and he was talked out of it only by a representative of the 'Labour Party', which was then in government with Fianna Fáil. How ironic that a Fianna Fáil finance minister should be encouraged to accept a measure that was so manifestly unfair by a representative of a party that purports to represent the quintessence of fairness!

The second of these decisions was the refusal to permit the Moriarty Tribunal to investigate the source of all funds in the Ansbacher accounts (the accounts held in a Dublin bank, where the holders of the deposits were unnamed, where the monies had been routed through London, the Cayman Islands and then back to Dublin). In doing this, Fianna Fáil was supported by its partners in government, the 'Progressive Democrats', and by Fine Gael (Fine Gael is now busily trying to rewire its involvement in that piece of infamy).

The third was the announcement in the budget of a reduction in the rate of capital gains tax, from 40 per cent to 20 per cent ; the scale of that tax change is staggering - in one fell swoop, a government that made such a fuss about reducing the top and standard rates of income tax by two percentage points reduced the tax that most affexts the rich by a full 20 per centage points... (*'1169' Comment - the "single mega-rich taxpayer" was not one of Bertie's Buddies, it seems...) (MORE LATER).

ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (12TH DECEMBER 2018) YOU'LL BE MISSING US...but your aim will get better on the 19th!

We won't be posting our usual contribution on Wednesday, 12th December 2018, and probably won't be in a position to post anything at all until the following Wednesday, the 19th December ; this coming weekend (Saturday/Sunday 8th/9th December 2018) is spoke for already with a 650-ticket raffle to be run for the Cabhair group in a venue on the Dublin/Kildare border, work on which begins on the Tuesday before the actual raffle, and the 'autopsy' into same which will take place on Monday evening, 10th, in Dublin, meaning that we will not have the time to post here.

But we'll be back, as stated above, on Wednesday 19th December 2018, when our offering will include, I'm told, a piece about an Irish republican who was sentenced by the British to 15 years in prison and, although he went in 'with one arm tied behind his back', so to speak, he came out and proved himself more useful to the republican struggle than many a so-called 'able bodied' person...

Thanks, for reading , Sharon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018



The 28th November in 1920 - 98 years ago on this date - was a Sunday, and it was on that day, in the morning, an open-back lorry carrying members of the Black and Tans was observed driving at speed into Moy O'Hynes Wood, near Kinvara in County Galway, and the occupants of that lorry were watched as they loaded something into the back of it and drove off at speed towards the small town of Umbriste (near Ardrahan, on the Gort to Clarinbridge road) - the story of these savage murders is perhaps best begun by quoting the words of a local medic, a Dr. Connolly, who was tasked with examining the remains of Pat and Harry Loughnane : "Hand grenades were put in their mouths and these exploded..."

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 lorry, 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 lorry, and ended up being dragged on the ground behind it and, on arrival at Drumharsna Castle, the rope was untied from the lorry 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 lorry ; 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 - 98 years ago on this date) 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 - 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 the 'establishment' then would have it.

In the middle of December that year, the remains were found. Before the brothers were given a proper funeral, a local doctor (Dr Connolly) was asked to examine the remains and his report showed that both men had, at first, been sadistically battered ; the eldest of the brothers, Pat, had both wrists and legs broken, while Harry had had two fingers removed by a saw, while he was still alive, and his right arm was only attached to the remains of the charred body by sinews. The doctor stated that the damage to the head, neck and upper-chest area of both men was caused, in his opinion, by "hand grenades (which) were put in their mouths and that these then exploded". The remains of both men showed that the Black and Tans had attempted to 'write' on them, using knives or bayonets - sets of initials were carved into both bodies.

Memorial to brothers Patrick and Harry Loughnane at Moy O Hynes Woods, near Ardrahan, Galway.

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 monuments have been erected to them and their ilk. 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"? ('1169' Comment - witness statements re the above acts of butchery can be read here.)

'ARMAGH RAID GOOD PROPAGANDA IN USA'. From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.

Mr Terence O'Conlon, Secretary, Philadelphia IRA Association, in a letter, says that the raid on Armagh Barracks caused a sensation in America, especially among the native population. The story broke on a Sunday when most Americans do a large percentage of their newspaper reading.

Mr O'Conlon wrote - "No more dramatic method of conveying to the world that England has an unwelcome army of occupation in part of Ireland could possibly be employed. Thousands of Americans naively accept the idea that 'Northern Ireland' is probably a little island or piece of ground attached to the English mainland. This is one English propaganda bubble that has been blasted for all time* by the Armagh raid."

(*'1169' Comment : Unfortunately not ; if anything it's got worse since that letter was published in 1954 - there are thousands of people in Ireland, never mind America, that consider that to be the case in relation to what the propagandists and the politically ignorant call 'Northern Ireland'. But Irish republicans are well used to being a censored minority in this country and we'll continue in our endeavours, regardless...)

(END of 'Armagh Raid Good Propaganda In USA' : next - 'Belfast Jail Sentence' and 'South Kerry's Heroic Dead', from the same source.)


'The organization which would become the political arm of the Irish Republican Army began (...on the 28th November, 1905 - 113 years ago on this date) as one of numerous nationalist pressure groups. The name means 'Us' or 'Ourselves Alone', a proclamation that the solution to Ireland’s predicament lay in the hands of its people and nobody else.

Sinn Féin was an amalgamation of groups founded by Arthur Griffith and Bulmer Hobson. In 1899 Griffith, a Dublin-born journalist, had founded the weekly 'United Irishman' newspaper, which lambasted the Irish MPs at Westminster. The following year he established an organization called Cumann na nGaedhael
('Tribe of the Gaels') , which was to be the principal ancestor of Sinn Féin, and merged it with the republican Dungannon Clubs, flourishing mainly in Ulster and organized by Hobson, a Belfast-born Quaker, who described them as 'semi-literary, semi-political and patriotic'.

Griffith believed Fenian-style reliance on armed rebellion had failed and the effective tactic was passive resistance. This would involve a withdrawal from Westminster and the establishment of a national assembly in Ireland, refusing to pay British taxes, creating independent Irish courts and an Irish civil service, taking control of local authorities and boycotting British products. He wanted Ireland as part of a dual monarchy under the British crown and developing into an industrialized country. His aim was 'to make England take one hand from Ireland's throat and the other out of Ireland's pocket'. Griffith saw a precedent in the tactics of Hungarian nationalists in the 1860's, though this parallel was derided in Ireland...' (from here.)

As stated above, the Sinn Féin organisation was founded on November 28th, 1905 - 113 years ago today - and consisted of an amalgamation of Cumann na nGaedheal, the National Council (which was founded in the main to organise protests at the visit of the British King, Edward VII, and included in its ranks Edward Martyn, Séamus McManus and Maud Gonne) and the Dungannon Clubs, a largely IRB-dominated republican campaign group. Contrary to the perception which has been advanced by some that Sinn Féin in its first years was not republican in character but rather sought a limited form of Home Rule on the dual monarchist model, Brian O'Higgins, a founding member of Sinn Féin, who took part in the 1916 Rising, and was a member of the First and Second Dáil, remaining a steadfast republican up to his death in 1962, had this to say in his Wolfe Tone Annual of 1949 :

"It is often sought to be shown that the organisation set up in 1905 was not republican in form or spirit, that it only became so in 1917, but this is an erroneous idea, and is not borne out by the truths of history. Anyone who goes to the trouble of reading its brief constitution will see that its object was 'the re-establishment of the independence of Ireland'. The Constitution of Sinn Féin in 1905, and certainly the spirit of it, was at least as clearly separatist as was the constitution of Sinn Féin in and after 1917, no matter what private opinion regarding the British Crown may have been held by Arthur Griffith..."

And, unfortunately, over the years since it was founded, 'private opinion regarding the British Crown (and the Free State equivalent)' led to splits - 'The story of how Gerry Adams tried to turn an eighty year old revolutionary movement into a British Constitutional party. How he broke the Sinn Féin constitution, created fake cumainn to give him fake votes and barred life long republicans from voting. How he managed to expel himself and his supporters from Sinn Féin membership. And, how a small band of republicans managed to keep the Sinn Féin constitution and traditional policy intact..' (from here.) However - despite the best (and on-going) efforts of those who are verbally in favour of Irish republican principles but are actually, behind closed doors, opposed to those principles, the Sinn Féin organisation remains active today, and long may it do so!


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.

Mr Patrick O'Donovan, writing in the English 'Sunday Observer' newspaper on January 30th, treated his readers to a potted history of the IRA since 1916. The 'history' is a nicely woven pattern of facts and Mr O'Donovan's fancy. He states - "In 1939 the IRA issued a proclamation demanding the evacuation of all British forces from Irish 1948 the Costello Government severed the last exiguous link with the Commonwealth...since the Government of Éire was now in line with the aims of the IRA, the IRA changed its tactics - its efforts would be devoted to driving 'the English Army of occupation' out of the North...its attacks are at present confined to the small military force in the North of Ireland - there are two battalions there that have not been recruited in Ireland, the rest are depots and units of Irish regiments.."

Mr O'Donovan would have his readers, who are the intellectuals and leaders of England, believe that driving the English Army of occupation out of the North is entirely different tactics to forcing the evacuation of English forces from Irish soil : that the North of Ireland is not held by the British Army but by "Irish regiments"!

Having informed his readers of the numerical strength of the IRA, its standards of training, its system of organisation etc he departs from his facts/fancy story and enters the realms of sheer fantasy... (MORE LATER).


"On an extremely cold, wet night, the men began moving to Kilmichael to take on the dreaded Auxiliaries. All IRA positions were occupied at 9am. The hours passed slowly. Towards evening the gloom deepened over the bleak Kilmichael countryside. At 4.05 pm. an IRA scout signaled the enemy's approach.

The first lorry came round the bend into the ambush position. Tom Barry, dressed in military style uniform stepped onto the road with his hand up. The driver gradually slowed down. When it was 35 yards from the Volunteers command post a Mills’ bomb was thrown by Barry and simultaneously a whistle blew signalling the beginning of the ambush. The bomb landed in the driver’s seat of the uncovered lorry. As it exploded, rifle shots rang out. The lorry, its driver dead, moved forward until it stopped a few yards from the small stone wall in front of the command post. While some of the Auxiliaries were firing from the lorry, others were on the road and the fighting was hand-to-hand. Revolvers were used at point blank range, and at times, rifle butts replaced rifle shots. The Auxiliaries were cursing and yelling as they fought, but the IRA coldly outfought them. In less than five minutes nine Auxiliaries were dead or dying. Barry and the three men beside him at the Command Post, moved towards the second lorry..." (from here.)

"Many statements have been made by Ministers and Generals in various countries on the necessity for long periods of training before even an infantry soldier is ready for action. This is utter nonsense when applied to volunteers for guerilla warfare. After only one week of collective training, his Flying Column of intelligent and courageous fighters was fit to meet an equal number of soldiers from any regular army in the world, and hold its own in battle, if not in barrack-yard ceremonials". - Tom Barry, 'Guerilla Days in Ireland'.

"They said I was ruthless, daring, savage, blood thirsty, even heartless. The clergy called me and my comrades murderers ; but the British were met with their own weapons. They had gone in the mire to destroy us and our nation and down after them we had to go" - Tom Barry.

And, four months later, Tom Barry (pictured, in 1921) was again active in an equally successful engagement with British forces - in the early hours of Saturday, 19th March 1921, under the command of Tom Barry (the son of an RIC officer who had retired to become a shopkeeper) and Liam Deasy (who, within less than two years afterwards, signed a Free State 'pledge' in exchange for his life), the West Cork Flying Column of the IRA turned the tables on a British Army and RIC column at Crossbarry, situated about twelve miles south-west of Cork city, despite being outnumbered ten-to-one.

During the hour-long firefight, in which 104 IRA Volunteers (each carrying approximately 40 rounds of ammunition) successfully fought their way out of a 'pincer'-type movement by about 1,200 enemy troops, consisting of British soldiers from the Hampshire and Essex Regiments, Black and Tans and RIC men, three IRA men were killed in action (Peter Monahan, Jeremiah O'Leary and Con Daly) and three others were wounded. Reports varied in relation to British casualties but it seems certain that at least ten of their soldiers were killed and three wounded (more here).

In an interview he gave a number of years later, Tom Barry recalled how "..about two hours had elapsed since the opening of the fight. We were in possession of the countryside, no British were visible and our task was completed. The whole Column was drawn up in line of sections and told they had done well.." - and they had indeed 'done well', only to witness, within months, their efforts (ab)used by those who yearned for a political career, which they were given by Westminster in return for their surrender. But, thankfully, although still outnumbered, a republican force still exists to this day.


The question is no longer whether there is corruption within our political establishment but whether the political establishment is itself corrupt.

By Vincent Browne.

From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.

We now know what we purported not to know before : that senior political figures were 'on the take' and that at least one of them was 'on the take' for decades. We now know that the manner in which this senior political figure, Charles Haughey, was 'on the take', involved the complicity of bankers, accountants and benefactors, that it involved a complicated financial ruse (the Ansbacher Accounts) that were availed of by many others as well. Many of those others were associates of Mr Haughey.

But whatever the further revelations of the Moriarty Tribunal into these matters and whatever more emerges about the existence of similar financial ruses in other banks, these represent only the symptom of what seems to be a much deeper malaise. That malaise is represented perhaps best by three extraordinary decisions taken by Fianna Fáil-led governments in recent years ; the first of these decisions was the tax amnesty of 1993, whereby tax defrauders were given a total amnesty on payment of just fifteen per-cent of the tax they owed to the State and a guarantee of absolute confidentiality hereafter.

The scale of this benefit to the richest in society cannot now be quantified but it may be assumed with confidence that it was massive. But of more concern is what motivated the introduction of the tax amnesty in the first place... (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.