ON THIS DATE (23RD MAY) 264 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF A 'UNITED IRISHMEN' FOUNDING FATHER.
The cause, or the men, of the Emerald Isle."
- the words of William Drennan, physician, poet, educationalist political radical and one of the founding fathers of the 'Society of United Irishmen', who was born on the 23rd May in 1754, 264 years ago on this date.
As well as his involvement with the 'United Irishmen', William Drennan will be forever associated with the descriptive term 'Emerald Isle' being used as a reference for Ireland, although he himself stated that that expression was first used in an anonymous 1795 song called 'Erin, to her own Tune'. When he was 37 years of age, a group of socially-minded Protestants, Anglicans and Presbyterians held their first public meeting in Belfast and formed themselves as 'The Belfast Society of United Irishmen' (the organisation became a secret society three years later), electing Sam McTier as 'President', strengthing the link that William Drennan had forged with that revolutionary organisation - Sam McTier was married to Martha, who was a sister of William Drennan.
'..he was born on May 23, 1754, at the manse of the First Presbyterian Church, Rosemary Street, Belfast, where his father was minister. A doctor by profession, he became one of the pioneers of inoculation against smallpox. Drennan became one of the founder members of the United Irishmen, and upon moving to Dublin in 1789 was appointed its chairman...after he was tried and acquitted of sedition in 1794, he withdrew from the movement and emigrated to Scotland (but remained) committed to radical politics..he married Sarah Swanwick in 1800, and they had four sons and a daughter...' (from here.)
William Drennan died on the 5th February 1820, at 66 years of age, and is buried in Clifton Street Graveyard, Belfast.
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.
PEARSE AS OUR GUIDE.
Sinn Féin will undo the conquest in all its phases, and build a united and prosperous Ireland on solid foundations and, in pursuing the material welfare of our people, we will be mindful of the words of Pádraig Pearse : "Do the millions that make up the population of modern nations, the millions that toil and sweat from year's end to year's end in the factories and mines of England, the Continent, the United States, live the life intended for man?
What are the hero-memories of the past to them? Are they one whit better because great men have lived and wrought and died? Were the destiny of the Gael no higher than theirs, better for him would it have been had he disappeared from the earth centuries ago!"
(Next - 'FIANNA NOTES', from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (23RD MAY) 97 YEARS AGO : DISAPPEARANCE OF A BRITISH 'RFAIO' IN IRELAND.
At the time of his disappearance, the Colonel commanding the 16th Infantry Brigade based at Fermoy basically accused Vincent of lying about his intentions of going on leave but, within a week, another report, regretting several errors in the first, was issued, which noted that Vincent had appeared somewhat disorientated before going on (approved) leave. It went on to report that five days after he left, three members of the 2nd Brigade of the IRA raided Fermoy Station and, breaking into the office there, had stolen various items from Vincents luggage, including a service revolver. Although the Royal Irish Constabulary were informed nothing was ever discovered about his whereabouts. It is thought that he, and possibly another man, were murdered (sic) by the IRA and buried at Lenihans Bog. Vincents body was later re-interred in Glenville Church of Ireland, Glenville, Co. Cork...' (from here.)
*The IRA found a notebook in Royal Field Artillery Intelligent Officer Vincent's pocket in which he had listed the contact details of locals that were opposed to the struggle for independence - he was gathering intelligence on where 'friendly houses' were located and probably attempting to convince the local 'friendlies' to forward any information in connection with the 'dissidents' on to him. As a teacher by profession, his was a lesson hard learned.
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.
SINN FÉIN NOTES.
Are you an Irishman who has served or who is now serving with the British forces? It is unlikely that you are, but it's possible - if so, bear with me a moment.
There are men doing wrong who know what they do yet continue to do it. There are others doing wrong who tend towards regret but allow pride to restrain them. There is a third group who are upright, guiltless men and, though they be doing wrong, they sincerely believe they are right - indeed, they are often convinced that their actions are not only just, but noble.
It is to you men of the latter two groups that I am writing. I put it to you that it is not right that an Irishman should join the British forces, whether he serves in China, Africa or Ulster - he is supporting the British occupation of his country. It is a self-evident truth that directly or indirectly he is killing his fellow countrymen. This is fact - face it, for there is no way around it... (MORE LATER).
A BLANK CHEQUE FROM THE TAXPAYER TO THESE POLITICAL TIME-SERVERS...
'cherish all the children of the nation equally' then vote 'NO' - show them that some children should not be cherished more than others. Your children will thank you for it in later years. Literally.
GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...
By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.
DID WE WIN?
Somewhere from the bowels of the canteen a crazed scream went up - "You Sticky bastards, ye's are all WASTERS!" The debate stopped abruptly, such was the violent tone of the scream - the 'screamer', Owen, a volunteer from the Falls Road, was asked what his problem was. "What's my problem?? Are you deaf or what? Did you not hear them Sticks getting into us?"
"What Sticks, Owen?" 'Lightning' Barnes inquired, They're our ones pretending to be the Republican Clubs and the SDLP," he said, pointing out that if you have a line you can sometimes catch people with it. "But you can't seriously hope to shoot down their argument just by calling them names. You have to make a better argument. Hopefully, the next time we have this debate the 'Shinners' will make a better argument."
Owen was still shaking with rage when he was led away by his comrades. An hour later, I'm glad to say, the arguments of the 'Republican Clubs' and the 'SDLP' were dismantled by the main body of the 'audience', to my personal satisfaction. We went in to see if Owen had cooled down and when we got to where he was sitting,the first thing he asked was 'did we win?' "It's not over yet," came the reply...
(END of 'GROWING UP IN LONG KESH' : Next - 'VIEW FROM THE HILLTOP CAFE', from 'Magill' magazine, July 2002.)
Thanks for reading, Sharon.