ON THIS DATE (9TH MAY) 190 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF AN IRISH REVOLUTIONARY, NOVELIST, POET AND JOURNALIST.
the O'Mahony stock.
He had shown interest in a medical career but, when he was only 13 years of age, an accident with damp gunpowder (it exploded when he was trying to dry it out) left his hearing in a poor condition and almost rendered him blind, weaknesses that he carried with him for the rest of his life but, although injured, he maintained his interest in politics and, at just 20 years young, took part in the 'Young Irelanders' Rising, following which he was forced to go 'on the run'.
At about 22 years of age, he began contributing poems and opinion pieces to 'The Nation' newspaper and it was through journalism that he became friends with John O'Leary who, in 1863, at the age of 33, was appointed editor of the newly-established Fenian weekly newspaper 'The Irish People', with Thomas Clarke Luby and Charles J.Kickham as his co-editors and chief contributors (Kickham also wrote poems and ballads for other Irish national periodicals, such as 'The Irishman', 'The Celt' and 'The Shamrock', sometimes using the pseudonym 'Momonia'), and it was through his writings that he became associated with John Daly, who had joined the IRB at the age of 18 (in 1863) - John and his brother Ned led the Limerick city company of the IRB in the raid on Kilmallock RIC Barracks, during the Fenian Rising in March 1867, in one of the few actions which took place outside Dublin. He was a prominent member of the reorganised Fenian Movement and, following the collapse of the 1867 Rising, he went to the United States where he played an active role in the IRB. During the Land War of 1879-'82, he returned to Ireland as a member of the Supreme Council of the IRB and took on the role as Organiser for Connacht and Ulster.
Charles Joseph Kickham was one of the Irish representatives at the 'Chicago Convention' in 1863 and is on record for declaring that the IRB would take action against the British forces when the time was right for them to do so and, In 1865, when 'The Irish People' newspaper was suppressed himself, O'Leary, Luby and dozens of other prominent members of the Fenian movement were arrested after being named to the English forces by the informer Pierce Nagle. It was in that same year - 1865 (on the 11th November) - at only 37 years of age, that he was found guilty of 'treason' and sentenced to fourteen years penal servitude in Pentonville Prison but was released early, in 1869, under partial amnesty, because of his bad health, which also forced him to curtail his activities somewhat, allowing him to concentrate on his writings : his better-known pieces include 'Knocknagow', 'The Irish Peasant Girl' and, of course, 'Slievenamon' -
'I grieve my saying that that day's slaying
should have gone on, Gaels in their hundreds dead,
because the stranger is making game of us
saying pikes for them hold fear nor dread.
Our major came not in time of day break
we weren't prepared with our pikes as one,
but as wild sheep nearing a shepherd shearing
on the sunny side slopes of Sliab na mBan.'
The years between his late forties and his early fifties were not easy for him, health-wise or financially, but his comrades rallied to his aid as best they could and, in 1878, presented him with the proceeds of a collection they had organised on his behalf : the IRB was known then to be about 35,000 members strong, and each contributed whatever they could afford. He was at that stage mostly confined to bed and/or indoors and, at only 52 years of age, in 1880, he was unfortunate to be knocked off his feet and ran over in College Green, in Dublin, by a jaunting car, breaking a leg in the process.
At 54 years of age he had a stroke and died within days, on the 22nd August 1882. About ten thousand mourners accompanied his coffin to 'Kingsbridge Station' (now Heuston Station) in Dublin and he was buried, on Monday 28th August 1882, in his own parish, Mullinahone, in Tipperary, without any input from local church figures - he was a devout Catholic but the church hierarchy had instructed that he should be ostracised by them unless he renounced the Fenians. He refused, declaring - "Nothing would please us better than to keep clear of the vexed question of priests in politics if we could do so without injury to the cause which we were endeavouring to serve. But the question was forced upon us. We saw clearly that the people should be taught to distinguish between the priest as a minister of religion and the priest as a politician before they could be got to advance one step on the road to independence.."
His funeral was attended by, among many others, John Ryan (London), John Torley (Scotland), Dr Mark Ryan (one of the Connacht representatives), Robert Johnson (Belfast), John Dillon, Tim Healy and Tom Sexton. The oration was given by John Daly, from Limerick, who finished with the statement - "Surely in some distant time when Irishmen visit the shrines of their illustrious dead this lonely Tipperary grave will not be forgotten, for here reposes in death Ireland's purest, bravest and best loved son..."
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.
UNDOING THE CONQUEST.
Finally, we could sum-up all the work of Sinn Féin in the words 'the undoing of the conquest' - this of course includes the restoration of our native language to its proper place in the daily life of the people, and its use in all public and legislative institutions.
Concomitant of Gaelic games and pastimes which the British have always been at pains to crush, from the time of the Statutes of Kilkenny onwards. Sinn Féin in general will foster all Gaelic activities which will serve to preserve our national individuality and act as a bulwark against evil British influences which seek to undermine and destroy the Irish nation. (Next - 'PEARSE AS OUR GUIDE', from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (9TH MAY) 102 YEARS AGO : 1916 LEADER EXECUTED BY WESTMINSTER.
Thomas Kent was born on the 29th August, 1865, in Bawnard House, Castlelyons, in Cork, the fourth of seven sons and two daughters, for David and Mary Kent. The Kent family had a long tradition of fighting against social and political injustices : 'His family were squeezed off their land by the British Crown's incremental rate increases. Thomas Kent left for Boston in the United States, but returned to Ireland several years later, owing to illness. Himself and his three brothers became radicalised, and were often jailed for their political activities, chiefly their support for the Land League and their membership of the Irish Volunteers.
When the Easter Rising kicked off in April 1916, Thomas Kent, then 50 years of age, and his brothers, obeyed Eoin MacNeill's countermanding order and stayed home, Kent having planned to head to Dublin to fight. In a swoop for known republican sympathisers, however, the RIC made a dawn raid on the Kent family home in Castlelyons.
The Kents resisted arrest and had a shoot-out with the RIC, which lasted four hours. The RIC's head constable was killed, his face blown off, before the Kents surrendered. When they arrested Kent..he was paraded through the town of Fermoy a bit like Jesus Christ. His hands were tied and he had no shoes — he wasn't allowed wear any boots. He was humiliated...his mother was 89 and she was cooling down the guns and supplying her sons with ammunition during the raid. (The RIC) humiliated her as well. She was too old to walk so they put her on a cart with her dying son, the youngest son, Richard. He suffered from his nerves, as they said in those days. He had mental issues...he was terrified when he was arrested and he ran away and was shot in the back. He was dying. He died about a day later from his wounds...' (from here.)
Thomas and his brother, William, were charged by the British with 'armed rebellion' - the brother was acquitted, but Thomas was found guilty and sentenced to death. Another brother, David, was 'found guilty' of the same charge and received a death sentence, but this was commuted to five years penal servitude. On the 9th May 1916 - 102 years ago on this date - Thomas Kent was put to death by firing squad and his body was placed in a hole in the ground of Cork Prison, where he lay for 99 years : in 2015, the Free State administration, still attempting to associate themselves with those who fought against British rule, shamefully re-buried that Irish republican in a televised display of pomp and ceremony and it and the 'establishment' it spawned practically crawled over themselves to be seen to be associated with such a man.
After their taxpayer-funded meal and drinks, they reverted to condemning those who continue to fight for the freedom of this country. Disgusting.
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.
SINN FÉIN NOTES.
Cathal Goulding, Dublin (Stafford) - 8 years' penal servitude.
Séan Stephenson, London (Wormwood Scrubs) - 8 years' penal servitude.
Manus Canning, Derry (Wormwood Scrubs) - 8 years' penal servitude.
Joseph Campbell, Newry (Crumlin Road) - 5 years' penal servitude.
Leo McCormack, Dublin (Crumlin Road) - 4 years' penal servitude.
JP McCallum, Liverpool (Stafford) - 6 years' penal servitude.
Kevin O' Rourke, Banbridge (Crumlin Road) - 5 years' penal servitude.
Eamon Boyce, Dublin (Crumlin Road) - 12 years' penal servitude.
Paddy Kearney, Dublin (Crumlin Road) - 10 years' penal servitude.
Tom Mitchell, Dublin (Crumlin Road) - 10 years' penal servitude.
John McCabe, Dublin (Crumlin Road) - 10 years' penal servitude.
Séan O' Callaghan, Cork (Crumlin Road) - 10 years' penal servitude.
Séan Hegarty, Cork (Crumlin Road) - 10 years' penal servitude.
Liam Mulcahy, Cork (Crumlin Road) - 10 years' penal servitude.
Hugh Brady, Lurgan (Crumlin Road) - 3 years' penal servitude.
"I pray that our comrades in the Irish Republican Army will have the strength and courage to carry on until such times as the last British soldier is driven from the shores of Ireland. Long live the Republic!" - Tom Mitchell. (Next - 'APPEAL TO THE PRODIGAL', from the same source).
GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...
By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.
DID WE WIN?
At the height of this dialectic, diarrhoeic diatribe, passions were rising amongst the chic, closet Marxists in our midst, instantly recognisable because of their habit of carrying a copy of Che Guevara's book, sticking out of the back pocket of their jeans, which was always a dead giveaway.
I could've sworn I heard the collective whisper going up from them in the cage canteen - 'we want tractor factories' (for everyone, of course). However - they were swept away on a river of endorphin-induced emotions and one hundred CC's of 'big words' and rhetoric. The greatest challenge faced amongst the 'Trendy Left' at that time was how to get the word 'anti-disestablishment-tarianism' into a sentence, any sentence. That was no mean feat, but was usually achieved with ease by any determined 'lefty'. Such are the vagaries of youth!
The 'Republican Clubs' then launched an attack on nationalism, specifically Irish nationalism. They held nothing back and, of course, their argument (which created more heat than light) ended in semantics and deteriorated into a tirade of abuse against anything nationalist and the Republican Movement in particular... (MORE LATER).
ON THIS DATE (9TH MAY) 79 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF THE STANDARD INCORRIGIBLE FREE STATER.
Happy Birthday, Pee! (pictured, with his daughter, Bev) - 79 today, and probably still able to get around to all of your houses, meaning - lucky you - that each set of housekeepers and staff will throw a birthday party for you. But no doubt you'll quickly forget it ever happened : 'Mr Flynn told the tribunal he was not aware his wife had opened a bogus off-shore account with the Gilmartin money and when he learned of it, he asked her to close it. He could not explain how his signature appeared on the documentation, giving a false London address. Similarly, he could not remember being given a cash withdrawal of £25,000 by his daughter, or what he had done with the money. Details of his wife's venture into farming and forestry were equally unclear...' (from here.)
What is 'clear', however, is that Bev's 'venture' will ensure that her dad can have a holiday each year, even if he's spent more than we can afford on housekeepers, staff and houses (!) - the lady owns a chipper in Marbella , which enables her to top-up her tan whilst checking the accounts of her customers, some of whom may not realise that, on 'leaving' Leinster House, she received a top-up to help her on her way : a lump-sum payment of €186,000, hardly enough, these days, to put fish and chips on the table. But not to worry : 'Class Act' Bev also receives a weekly State pension, courtesy of her services to those that had elected her to Leinster House, of €697 a week, every week, for the rest of her life. Birthdays included. Which must feel like every day.
ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (WEDNESDAY 16TH MAY 2018)...
another republican event which occurred on the 13th May - 99 years ago, on that date. Check back with us on Wednesday, 23rd May next, and maybe even between this and then!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.