ON THIS DATE (25TH APRIL) 337 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF AN IRISH 'RAPPAREE'.
Redmond O'Hanlon was born into poor circumstances in Ireland, in the year 1640, even though his family's family came from what would be called today a 'middle class' background - the O'Hanlon's were closely associated with the old Irish 'Airgíalla' confederation and were linked to what became known as the 'Tandragee Castle Estate'. When the family land and 'chattel' were 'confiscated' by British and pro-British 'landowners', the O'Hanlon's were left destitute, and Redmond 'lived rough' in the countryside, where he survived as best he could with other Irish people who told much the same story - they joined forces and, led by Redmond, formed themselves into an 'outlaw militia' which operated in the Armagh area.
The 'militia' convinced (!) the 'new landowners' that it was in their best interest to take out insurance against theft etc and issued written documentation to them and to their business associates and visitors to 'their' holdings - for a fee, of course - guaranteeing safe passage. Should some ne'er-do-wells' interfere with business, O'Hanlon and his men ran them down, imposed a 'fine' on them, retrieved the stolen goods and returned them to the 'insurance policy' holders and, if the rogue-robbers persisted in offending, killed them.
A 'town-crier'-type leaflet issued in 1681 stated that '..necessity first prompted him to evil courses and success hardened him in them ; he did not rob to maintain his own prodigality, but to gratify his spies and pensioners : temperance, liberality, and reservedness were the three qualities that perserved him ; none but they of the House where he was knew till the next morning where he lay all night ; he allowed his followers to stuff themselves with meat and good liquor, but confined himself to milk and water ; he thought it better thrift to disperse his money among his receivers and intelligencers, than to carry it in a purse, or hide it in a hole ; he prolonged his life by a general distrust...'
Redmond had many enemies, and the 'Establishment', too, had placed a bounty (of £100) on his head : on the 25th April 1681 - 337 years ago on this date - he was shot dead while sleeping - 'At one o'clock on the warm afternoon of April 25th, 1681, country people from County Down in Ireland were gathering for a fair at Eight Mile Bridge near the present site of the village of Hilltown. At a prearranged spot near the fair three men met after coming down separately from hideouts in the nearby Mountains of Mourne. One was William O'Sheel ; another Art O'Hanlon ; and the third was Art's foster brother, Redmond O'Hanlon, the most sought-after outlaw in seventeenth-century Ulster, a desperate man with a high price of £100 on his head.
The three came to a small cabin by the roadside. O'Sheel stationed himself a little way along the road. Art O'Hanlon stood on guard by the door of the cabin. Redmond went inside to rest. By two o'clock he was sleeping soundly. Grasping the opportunity for which he had been waiting, Art shot his foster-brother in the chest, then fled to fetch help to secure the body...' (from here.)
'There was a man lived in the north, a hero brave and bold,
who robbed the wealthy landlords of their silver and their gold,
he gave the money to the poor, to pay their rent and fee
for Count Redmond O'Hanlon was a gallant rapparee...' (from here.)
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.
THE RIGHT MEN.
When the hour of liberation is at hand we must be ready to take over the responsibility of ruling the nation - it is our duty now to prepare for that day. There will crop up the necessity of having sound men of proven national outlook to take up positions in time of stress, and carry out onerous public duties, while at the same time they may be hounded by the forces of 'law and order'.
In former times these men sprang out of the ranks of Sinn Féin, and it is to Sinn Féin that we must look again when the occasion arises. Therefore, the expansion of the organisation becomes a matter of dire importance - it would be presumptuous to expect that an efficient administration could be set up if the material is not to hand. (Next - 'PASSIVE RESISTANCE', from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (25TH APRIL) 419 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF AN ANTI-IRISH BUTCHER.
Pictured - some of Oliver Cromwell's Irish victims, sold as slaves and 'sex workers' to the highest bidder.
On the 29th April, 1599, a baby boy, Oliver Cromwell, who had been born on the 25th April - 419 years ago, on this date - was christened in Saint John the Baptish church in Huntingdon, England. Decades later, when someone was trawling through the birth records for that period, they came across an unofficial addendum to that particular entry : it read - "England's plague for five years..."
Cromwell should need no introduction to readers of this blog, but some readers may not be aware of the significance of a particular date - the 3rd September - in relation to his time on this Earth. That creature died on that date in 1658, and it was also on that same date, in 1649, that he began his nine-day siege of Drogheda after which thousands of its inhabitants were butchered (...but they deserved it, according to the man himself - "This is a righteous judgement of God upon these barbarous wretches, who have imbrued their hands in so much innocent blood.."). The infamous 'Death March', which he forced on his enemy after the battle of Dunbar, took place on the 3rd September (in 1650) and, one year later on that same date - the 3rd September, 1651 - he wallowed in more blood and guts, this time in his own country, at the battle of Worcester. And, somewhere in between wrecking havoc and stealing and selling Irish children, he found the time (on the 27th September in 1649) to write to his political bosses in London :
'FOR THE HONOURABLE WILLIAM LENTHALL, ESQUIRE, SPEAKER OF THE PARLIAMENT OF ENGLAND :
Dublin, 27th September 1649.
Mr. Speaker - I had not received any account from Colonel Venables - whom I sent from Tredah to endeavour the reducing of Carlingford, and so to march Northward towards a conjunction with Sir Charles Coote - until the last night. After he came to Carlingford, having summoned the place, both the three Castles and the Fort commanding the Harbour were rendered to him. Wherein were about Forty Barrels of Powder, Seven Pieces of Cannon ; about a Thousand Muskets, and Five-hundred Pikes wanting twenty. In the entrance into the Harbour, Captain Fern, aboard your man-of-war, had some danger ; being much shot at from the Sea Fort, a bullet shooting through his main-mast. The Captain's entrance into that Harbour was a considerable adventure, and a good service ; as also was that of Captain Brandly, who, with Forty seamen, stormed a very strong Tenalia at Tredah, and helped to take it ; for which he deserves an owning by you.
Venables marched from Carlingford, with a party of Horse and Dragoons, to the Newry ; leaving the place, and it was yielded before his Foot came up to him. Some other informations I have received form him, which promise well towards your Northern Interest ; which, if well prosecuted, will, I trust God, render you a good account of those parts. I have sent those things to be presented to the Council of State for their consideration. I pray God, as these mercies flow in upon you, He will give you an heart to improve them to His glory alone ; because He alone is the author of them, and of all the goodness, patience and long-suffering extending towards you. Your army has marched ; and, I believe, this night lieth at Arklow, in the County of Wicklow, by the Sea-side, between thirty and forty miles from this place. I am this day, by God's blessing, going towards it.
I crave your pardon for this trouble; and rest, your most humble servant, OLIVER CROMWELL.
P.S. I desire the Supplies moved for may be hastened. I am verily persuaded, though the burden be great, yet it is for your service. If the Garrisons we take swallow-up your men, how shall we be able to keep the field? Who knows but the Lord may pity England's sufferings, and make a short work of this? It is in His hand to do it, and therein only your servants rejoice. I humbly present the condition of Captain George Jenkin's Widow. He died presently after Tredah Storm. His Widow is in great want.
Still - the man was appreciated in some circles...
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.
SINN FÉIN NOTES.
Arrangements are being made to hold public meetings and collections at Castlebar and Cavan on Sunday 13th February, as the GAA Railway Cup semi finals are being played at those venues. The collections will be in aid of the Northern Election Fund.
NORTHERN ELECTION COMMITTEES.
The Northern Election Committee of Sinn Féin wishes to thank sincerely all who contributed so generously to the fund at last season's GAA games, and a list of the games and amounts collected is published in this issue.
The committee has a tremendous task to perform, as the twelve candidates have already been chosen and a £150 deposit is required for each constituency, a total of £1,800, and publicity and organising work has to be done as well - most of these constituencies have not being contested since 1918.
Sinn Féin is making it possible for the first time since 1918 for the Irish people in the Six Counties to re-affirm their desire for national unity and a republican government of the 32 counties. The need for funds is urgent and the committee again this season appeals for support. (Next - 'PROGRAMME' and 'LETTERS', 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?
The debate begins - the Sinn Féin team laid out its case using the 'Eire Nua' document as the basis for its argument. It was about this time that we were actually looking at this document ourselves and, to be honest, in a good few of our opinions, it wasn't the political solution for this country that we were looking for ('1169' comment : and we dare say that the 'alternative' - Stormont and a 'peace'-at-any-price deal [a direction which wasn't even guessed at, at the time] - had it been known about - "wasn't the political solution" that any republican was looking for, And it still isn't).
The 'Sinn Féin' team then told us* that in the New Ireland the seat of government would be Athlone - this was because of Athlone's geographical position on the map, as being in the middle of Ireland (fair enough!). The new nation's capital would be jointly held by Dublin and Belfast. "What about Cork?", came a shout from the audience. "Yeah right enough", shouted someone else, "What about Cork? it's big, isn't it?" After a brief but heated debate amongst the 'Shinners', it was decided that Cork also would be a capital and that the capital would be rotated on a bi-annual basis.
"Which city gets to be the capital first..?", asked the same audience member who, I suspect, wasn't taking this aspect of the argument too seriously. "Knock it on the head", ordered the OC. "Heh, heh, heh" sniggered the heckler, "Heh, heh, heh," echoed the OC.
(*an Irish republican having to be "told" that that proposal was part of that policy?) (MORE LATER).
Thanks for reading, Sharon.