RSF EASTER COMMEMORATIONS, DUBLIN, 2018.
The main RSF Easter Commemoration in Dublin will be held on Easter Monday, 2nd April 2018 : we will be assembling at the Garden of Remembrance at 1.45pm and marching from there to the GPO in O'Connell Street, arriving there at about 2pm. But, if you can't get to that one, then, on Easter Sunday in Dublin, a wreath will be laid and the 1916 Proclamation will be read at the Éamonn Ceannt monument in the public park named in his honour in Crumlin at 12 noon and a commemoration will be held in Deansgrange Cemetery (which was established in 1861 and had its first burial in 1865) that same day at the republican plot, at 1pm. Details of the other republican tributes, from Donegal to Cork to New York, can be found here. I'll be at one or more of the Dublin events over the Easter weekend, but I've had no luck in getting a sponsor for the New York one...!
ON THIS DATE (21ST MARCH) 21 YEARS AGO - AN 'IRISH' BOUNCING CZECH IS 'BORN'!
Nora Owen (Fine Gael) granted citizenship to a Ludka Kozeny, on the 21st March, 1997 - 21 years ago on this date. Ever generous, our Nora had done the same for Kozeny's husband, Viktor (pictured), in 1995.
This was not Viktor's first time to be mentioned in the media ; he was already famous (!) in the Czech Republic as a 'go-getter', a successful 'can-do' business-man, who had persuaded eight-and-a-half million people to 'invest' in his 'Harvard Group Investment Fund', promising them a ten-fold return on their money within a year and a day. But the 'Fund', such as it was, failed, and Viktor legged it! He later surfaced in London's Mayfair area, where he made the headlines again - by spending €16,506 on dinner ('Tasting menu with wine £275, Tasting menu without wine £175, Business lunch menu £70'...) for three people at 'Le Gavroche' restaurant!
Incidentally, when we here at '1169 Towers' (if only!) knew it, 'Le Gav' (which is what it's known as by us regulars) was owned by my old buddies, the Roux brothers. But we won't be dining there again. Unless Nora's paying...
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.
SPREAD THE PAPER.
Newspapers cost large sums to produce, and need widespread organisation to distribute. With such a large network, distribution would be easier and returns made much quicker, and essential funds would not be a heavy drain on any small group.
'An t-Eireannach Aontuighthe', though enjoying a large sale, does not, as yet, reach all the areas that we wish - the considerable advantage of small groups in every district pressing the sales cannot be overlooked, but the newspaper is not the only means of propaganda : the Sunday morning meeting, the debate and the lecture are others. Where enthusiasm and sincerity reign many new ideas will be forthcoming to instil into our people the age-old ideal.
Remember that Irish republicanism is not a cold and empty formula but a burning flame which, once kindled in the young and unspoilt heart, transforms the man and brings him into spiritual communion with all that was great and glorious in Gaelic Ireland since man first set foot upon her soil.
The story of our race, her heroes and her tragedies must be put before everybody, young and old, and urged upon him the necessity of making one last great effort to achieve her destiny. That is the propaganda of which we speak. (Next : 'ECONOMICS TODAY' , from the same source.)
PUT NOT YOUR TRUST IN PRINCES...
'A descendant of Amhran ha bhFiann composer Peadar Kearney has launched High Court proceedings against a fund-appointed receiver seeking the return of items including an original copy of the national anthem signed by the composer...' (from here and here.)
Peadar Kearney joined the IRB when he was 20 years young (in 1903) and, four years later, along with his friend Paddy Heeney, wrote the words and tune for 'Amhrán na bhFiann' ('The Soldiers Song'). He took part in the 1916 Rising, fighting alongside Thomas MacDonagh at Jacobs Factory, and managed to escape the round-up by the 'authorities' that followed, literally 'living to fight another day'. And he did - he was active again during the 'Black and Tan War', during which he was imprisoned for about a year. Following the 'Treaty of Surrender' - and this is perhaps not as well known as his republican involvement - he took the Free State side and was actually in the 'Collins Convoy' at Béal na mBláth when, in August 1922, those Free Staters were ambushed by the IRA, and Michael Collins was killed.
It's also not as well known as it should be that he worked for the Free State in Portlaoise Prison as a 'Censor' ie removing what the State regarded as 'sensitive content' from letters that republican prisoners were trying to send out to family and friends : his conscience must have troubled him, as he only stuck that job for a week and, in the late 1930's, made public his (new-found) opposition to partition. He died in Inchicore, Dublin, in 1942, at 59 years of age, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. As we said - 'Put not your trust..'
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.
A man cannot justify his break-away from the separatist ideal simply by quoting the isolated dictum of another, especially when the other is a splendid man who died by his guns - 'the effective leader of the insurrection' - James Connolly. He was a soldier, a militant to the last, a member of the Irish Republican Army, unpopular then as now with all but the truly sincere.
The effort of the members of the Republican Movement is not to bring the Six North-Eastern Counties into a set-up which would grant our Northern friends far less compensation when sick or out of work. Our aim is to break the connection with England, so that the people of Ireland can govern themselves and make the best use of the wealth in their own country, and live in a decent and Christian way. We think that there must be Irishmen alive and yet to come with the ability to govern Ireland without foreign intervention, and whose purpose is to the good of Ireland.
The dual-purpose politician who tries to serve two masters - Ireland and England - is like that phenomenon of animals, the dual-purpose cow, which we breed here to trot over to England hoofs, hide and all. (MORE LATER).
ON THIS DATE (21ST MARCH) 75 YEARS AGO : 21 FOR BREAKFAST ON THE 21ST!
Among the escapees were well-known IRA activists Patrick Donnelly, Ned Maguire, Hugh McAteer, Liam Graham and Brendan O'Boyle who, incidentally, was the last man to be helped from the tunnel. Jimmy Drumm was earmarked as the last man and was in the tunnel, yards behind Brendan O'Boyle, when he heard a warning being shouted that the British Army had discovered the exit and were picking-up the men as they emerged - so he turned back, only to discover later that it was a false alarm.
The tunnel had been started in November 1942, in Liam Graham's cell and, out of the 200 or so IRA prisoners in the jail, 22 had been picked by the prisoners themselves as it was felt that that group could more readily 'rally the troops' on the outside as each of them had a high profile in the Movement and were respected by all concerned (except, obviously, by the British and the Staters!). An estimated five tons of clay was removed (although other sources estimated that about 15 tons of clay was shifted) over a five month period and most of it was scattered in the prison grounds, although repeated attempts were made to dispose of some of it via the toilets, which blocked the pipes. A plumbing company was called in on a regular basis over that five month period but, whether they knew what was happening or not, they said nothing and the warders and their bosses knew nothing of the excavation that was then on-going - indeed, during the last few weeks of the dig, the IRA prisoners had held a 'mini-fleadh cheoil' to cover the noise and the constant comings-and-goings from cell to cell and from cell to prison yard.
Jimmy Steele and Harry White had each organised to have about 12 men on stand-by on each side of Britain's border in Ireland to assist with the dispersal of the escapees, the majority of whom were taken to Donegal but, within a day, eleven of their number had been captured by Free State forces and interned in the Curragh. Others were also captured in that county, in a place called Glentown, and they were then held in a FS barracks in Letterkenny and, within a week, only three of the 21 were still at liberty.
That successful escape effort not only helped to refocus world attention on to the then(-as-now) on-going struggle for national liberation in Ireland, but proved to be a massive morale boost for the Republican Movement. it helped to insure that the flame stayed lit, and brought in new recruits who, in turn, passed the mantle to those who hold the same values today.
ON THIS DATE (21ST MARCH) 97 YEARS AGO : 'LAST STOP' FOR SOME BRITISH ARMY SQUADDIES.
'On 21st March 1921, the Kerry IRA attacked a train at the Headford junction near Killarney. Twenty British soldiers were killed or injured...(they)were members of the Royal London Fusiliers, who were obliged to change trains at Headford Junction as they made their way back to Tralee ; consequently, the station was chosen as the natural venue for the ambush. The train in question, however, arrived earlier then expected, before the preparations for the ambush had been completed. Dan Allman and two others who had been on the platform as the train pulled in were forced to take refuge in a lavatory. The soldiers alighted leisurely, and as one of them entered the lavatory and discovered Allman, a scuffle broke out. Allman shot the soldier, and the ambush began.
The IRA fired on the train from both sides of the station. The British attempted to use a machine gun fastened to the front of the train, but this was specifically targeted by the IRA and played no major role in the ambush, which lasted for perhaps 50 minutes. The civilian passengers had disembarked from the carriages before the soldiers, but some were still in the station when the gunfire began : three cattle dealers were killed, and a three year old girl was badly wounded in both legs when a bullet passed through her fathers leg as he sought to shelter her. Two members of the IRA (including Allman) were killed, and the British recorded that they lost seven soldiers on the spot, though members of the IRA claimed that as many as 24 soldiers had been killed.
Tom McEllistrim, who was born in County Kerry in 1894, joined the Irish Volunteers when he was 20 years young (in 1914) and fought in the War of Independence. He took the republican side in the Civil War and, for three years, was an elected republican politician, but then joined Fianna Fáil in 1926, when that grouping was established. He died in 1973. He was the joint commander of the IRA column which carried out the ambush at Headford Junction at which 28 people were killed and, years later, stated - "When the battle was over, there were 28 bodies lined up dead inside in that platform.."
Many members of the 'Farmers' Bridge' unit of the IRA took part in the Headford Ambush, a unit which Dan Keating was later to join. That Active Service Unit included men of the calibre of Johnny Duggan, Johnny O'Connor, Timmy Galvin, Moss Galvin, Jack Corkery, Jim Ryle, Mick Hogan and Jamesy Whiston, and those men and their comrades were suitably spread out in vantage points in the immediate vicinity -
Tom McEllistrim, John Flynn (who was an ex-British Army man) and Paddy Lynch took control of the Station Master's House, Moss Carmody was at the Signal Box, Dan Allman, Dan Healy, Jack Cronin and Jim Coffey (another ex-British Army man) were in control of the toilet in the middle of the platform, Peter Browne and nine of his comrades guarded the South Embankment and John O'Connor was one of six men who had the North Embankment under their control. The remaining vantage point, the Mallow end of the Platform, was controlled by Jack Brosnan, Tom O'Connor and four other men.
Westminster would only admit to eight casualties - Adams, Brundish, Chandler, George, West, Woods, Young and Greenwood. The battle lasted for about one hour, but will be remembered - and recounted - forever!
GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...
By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.
The huts of the cages surrounding the football pitches were empty as the inmates took advantage of the high vantage points afforded by standing on top of the shower huts or the study huts that overlooked the football pitch. The banter and abuse, when being shouted at the same time, became just pure abuse, but hilarious.
The roofs of the huts were being wrecked by everyone not only standing on them but jumping up and down, screaming at the matches. It was absolutely nuts, and the worse perpetrators of this abuse were the men of Cage Eleven. They abused everyone about everything - but abuse about immediate family was taboo. Anything else, such as weight, size, girlfriends, boyfriends (some of the abuse could be very malicious!) was fair game.
Nicknames ranged from 'The Goldfish' to 'Sleepy Sickness', 'The Brush', 'The Poison Dwarf', 'Platehead', 'Plastic Hands' and 'More Rope', to 'Aldergrove Airport', which was a reference to a comrade running down the wing with the ball, and who found himself confronted by this mountain of a Belfast man who was on the opposite team - "Run around him, Davy", someone shouted, "Run around him.." "You must be joking", yelled Davy, "You'd be quicker running around the runway at Aldergrove Airport.." And the name stuck. (MORE LATER).
Thanks for reading, Sharon.