ON THIS DATE (28TH MARCH) 139 YEARS AGO : AN IRISH REPUBLICAN HERO IS BORN.
' "If I die I know the fruit will exceed the cost a thousand fold. The thought of it makes me happy. I thank God for it. Ah, Cathal, the pain of Easter week is properly dead at last..." - Terence MacSwiney wrote these words in a letter to Cathal Brugha on September 30, 1920, the 39th day of his hunger strike. The pain he refers to is that caused by his failure to partake in the 1916 Easter Rising. Contradictory orders from Dublin and the failure of the arms ship, the Aud, to land arms in Tralee left the Volunteers in Cork unprepared for insurrection...' (from here.)
In his book 'History of the Irish Working Class', Peter Beresford Ellis wrote : "On October 25th, 1920, Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney - poet, dramatist and scholar - died on the 74th day of a hunger-strike while in Brixton Prison, London. A young Vietnamese dishwasher in the Carlton Hotel in London broke down and cried when he heard the news - "A Nation which has such citizens will never surrender". His name was Nguyen Ai Quoc who, in 1941, adopted the name Ho Chi Minh and took the lessons of the Irish anti-imperialist fight to his own country..."
Terence MacSwiney, born on the 28th March 1879 - 139 years ago on this date - was the Commandant of the 1st Cork Brigade of the IRA and was elected as the Lord Mayor of Cork. He died after 74 days on hunger strike (a botched effort to force feed him hastened his death) in Brixton Prison, England, on the 25th October, 1920, and his body lay in Southwark Cathedral in London where tens of thousands of people paid their respects. He summed-up the Irish feeling at that time (a feeling and determination which is still prominent to this day) - "The contest on our side is not one of rivalry or vengeance but of endurance. It is not those who can inflict the most but those who can suffer the most who will conquer. Those whose faith is strong will endure to the end in triumph." And our faith is strong.
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.
As modern society is highly organised and people tend to crowd into cities to earn a living, industry has become of paramount importance. We are no longer just an agricultural race, with cottage industries to supply our needs. The medium of exchange is highly complicated and, in the hands of unscrupulous men and under foreign influences, large numbers of our people are exploited so that individuals may amass fortunes, and trade is depressed or expanded to suit the British economy.
To some, this may seem far-fetched but, with a little reflection, they will realise the advantage to Britain of holding Ireland's purse strings. To achieve a balanced economy in Ireland, and give effect to the clause of the 1916 Proclamation which states "equal rights and equal opportunities" for all her citizens - compare this with the empty cliches of the 1937 Free State Constitition - and above all to bring social and economic life into line with Christian teaching is, next to achieving independence, the most important object of Sinn Féin.
The means whereby this can be achieved will naturally lie in the hands of the elected representatives of an All-Ireland parliament, but to show that the Sinn Féin organisation is not lacking in ideas as to how it can be done, a general programme has been drawn up and is presented to the people of Ireland for their criticism, and is available in a pamphlet entitled 'Sinn Féin Social and Economic Programme', price 6d, from 3 Lower Abbey Street, Dublin, or from any Cumann.
As the achievement of the objects of Sinn Féin can only be by stages, the most important one is to win the battle of the polls, but to fight an election requires an enormous amount of personal energy and large sums of money. Many an election is won on catchcries and vituperation, but that is not the method of Sinn Féin - we want everyone who votes for a Sinn Féin candidate to know why he votes for him, and what Sinn Féin really stands for. It is not enough that public meetings be held and handbills be distributed - personal canvass on a large scale by well-informed and enthusiastic men and women will win more votes than any loud-voiced oratory or 'smart' handbill.
We must wean the people from the factional approach to elections, and make the issue for or against a Free United Ireland. (Next - 'ELECTION MACHINE', from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (28TH MARCH) 126 YEARS AGO - BIRTH OF AN INSPIRATIONAL REPUBLICAN.
By the Republic
By the oath of Fenians
By young Irelands dream
By the creed of Tone
For him no stepping stone
But the green branch blooming
For the northern shores of Derry
To the Kingdom of Kerry
Tom Maguire (pictured), who held the rank of commandant-general in the Western Command of the Irish Republican Army and led the South Mayo flying column, was born on this date (28th March) in 1892 - 126 years ago today.
He died in his 101st year in 1993 : we wrote about the man in an earlier post this month, so we won't repeat ourselves. Except to say that he remains an inspiration for Irish republicans to this day.
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.
That was a very stirring account of the First Dáil in 'The Sunday Press' of January 23rd. It ended - 'It was a time of glorious courage in the hearts of the common people whose rewards have lasted into our own time." The glorious courage was born of the sacrifices of Easter Week, bouyed by the fighting and sacrifices of the men of the Irish Republican Army and cracked by the betrayal of the men who signed the Treaty.
The courage was further shaken when men who had voted against the Treaty, after a year or two, slipped into the 'Dáil' , and operated England's little 26-County establishment. Then, during what was known in the 26 Counties as 'the Emergency' and in the Six Counties as 'the war', nearly all the courageous had their courage protected in the Curragh Camp, or in the 'Joy', or in Derry and Belfast, and some of the very courageous died for it.
But the rewards have lasted, for there is courage still and it grows apace. (Next - 'IS THIS THE YEAR?', from the same source).
GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...
By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.
I remember with horror Basher Burn's 'tackle' on a comrade from Limerick. It was a Second Team match against Cage 12, but Basher's fundamental understanding of football (any type of football) was that in most ball games, the ball was round. Armed with this knowledge, Basher put his name down for the Second Team of Cage Eleven and those poor fools picked him for the team. He had one basic tackle : the fellow from Limerick was running down towards our goal with the ball, when 'Hard and Low' McGlow shouted for Basher to stop him.
"NO DON'T BASH..." I shouted, but my plea was too late - his basic tackle, the uppercut, stopped and dropped the Limerick man dead in his tracks, but there was something beautiful in the way his limp body arched and spiralled in mid-air before it hit the ground in a crumpled heap, followed by a dull sickening thud. As we all stood looking at Basher with our mouths open in disbelief, he lifted the ball out of the Limerick man's unconscious grasp and, looking over at us, asked, without batting an eyelid, "What do I do now?"
We gathered speechless around the inert Limerick body lying on the ground, and watched as one of his eyes seemed to flicker and a groan came from somewhere deep within him. "He's still breathing," said a voice in the crowd, "quick - give the ball to Cheeser..." And Cheeser, with the ball, ran up the pitch and scored a goal! (MORE LATER).
ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK...
Easter commemorations in Dublin and the behind-the-scenes work that goes with those events. But we'll be back on Wednesday 11th April 2018 with, among other bits and pieces, a few words about a woman from a Fenian family who was one of the very select group of people who knew about, in advance, the plans for the 1916 Easter Rising. See ya then!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.