ON THIS DATE (20TH JUNE) 169 YEARS AGO : TROUBLED IRISH REPUBLICAN POET DIES.
My Dark Rosaleen' ; a poem about the authors feelings for his country and its tradition of resistance in arms to those that would seek to rule it. The author, James Clarence Mangan (pictured), contributed written material on a regular basis to the Irish republican newspaper 'The Nation', and became friends with its editor, Charles Gavan Duffy.
Born in Fishamble Street, in Dublin, in May 1803, James Clarence Mangan did not have an easy life (or an easy death). He went to a school on Lord Edward Street (then known as 'Saul's Court') and was known as a bright child - although barely in his teens, he did not need to be prompted to study other languages ; he was well on his way to being fluent in German, Italian, French and Spanish when his parents had no choice but to remove him from school, as they were in dire needs, financially, and their fifteen-years young son, James, would have to bring in a wage if the family were to stay together.
He got a job in a solicitors office as a 'clerk/secretary/general gofar' and was able to use his time in work to study his own preferred papers - language , poetry and politics. He would sometimes translate poems and other writings from the German language and, indeed, from the Irish language, into English, and have them published, under the name 'Clarence', in some of Dublin's periodicals. His published works in 'The Nation' newspaper concerned themselves with Irish poetry and short stories, and were signed as being from 'The man in the Cloak', 'Vaccus' and 'Terrae Filius'. He was an Irish republican at heart, and his writings could be found in the 'United Irishman' newspaper (edited by John Mitchel), 'The Irish Felon' newspaper (edited by Thomas Devin Reilly) as well as Charles Gavan Duffy's 'The Nation' newspaper.
James Clarence Mangan was a troubled man in his own mind ; a deep-thinker, he tended to keep to himself and, apart from his writing contacts, was not one for socialising : he apparently suffered from what we now know as 'depression', and his 'mood swings' were no doubt exasperated by the fact that every day was a challenge for him, financially. He felt he had no-one to confide in, or lean on. He fell into the trap that snared so many others in those days (and still does today) - alcohol ; drink and opium were his crutch, and weakened him to such an extent that he became a victim of the cholera epidemic of that time. On 13th June, 1849, he was found half-dead in a damp cellar in Bride Street, Dublin, and was taken to the Meath Hospital ; on the 20th June, 1849 - 169 years ago on this date - James Clarence Mangan died, aged only forty-six years. His writings have secured him a place in Irish history and, although perhaps not as well known as others of his time, James Clarence Mangan played his part as best he could.
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.
'NOTE WELL WHAT MR. E. KELLY SAID IN 1916'.
4th May, 1916, as reported in 'The Dundalk Democrat' - 'Mr E Kelly, JP, said that since their last meeting all the members were very well aware of the trouble in Dublin and some parts of Ireland. He did not know how the majority of the Guardians might feel on the matter, but he felt himself perfectly inclined to pass a verdict in the way of condemnation of what had occurred because he considered it the most disastrous thing that had happened during their time.
So far as the rank and file was concerned he would be inclined to make an appeal to the authorities for leniency because certainly from what he knew and from what he heard it appeared that these young fellows had been led into this business like lambs to the slaughterhouse.
Mr J. Shevlin (an ex-RIC man) : "Hear! Hear!"
Mr. E. Kelly : "Although on several occasions they gave us a very awkward time in this district. The reason I am glad is that, had it done no other good, it has let these poor dupes of fellows see the folly of their movements. I see where the leaders were shot. We are a kind-hearted people in this country and we like no man to be shot if possible, but I think that the people in the rural districts of Ireland should not let their tenderheartedness get the better of them in this business and that everyone should approve of the action of the authorities in shooting these rebel leaders.
Because that is what they are - only a handful of foolish revolutionists. I would like to make an appeal to the authorities to have mercy on the poor dupes who were led away without knowing anything..." (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (20TH JUNE) 255 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF 'THE FATHER OF IRISH REPUBLICANISM'.
That Ireland was not able of herself to throw off the yoke, I knew ; I therefore sought for aid wherever it was to be found. In honourable poverty I rejected offers which, to a man in my circumstances, might be considered highly advantageous. I remained faithful to what I thought the cause of my country, and sought in the French Republic an ally to rescue three millions of my countrymen" - Theobald Wolfe Tone, who was born in Dublin on this date - 20th June - in 1763, in a family said to be related to French Protestants who arrived in England in the 16th century.
His father, Peter, was a coach builder who also farmed in an area close to Sallins, in County Kildare, and his mother, Margaret, was from a merchant family - she converted to the Protestant faith following his birth. He was baptised as 'Theobald Wolfe Tone' in honour of his godfather of the same name from Kildare (who was himself related to Arthur Wolfe, the '1st Viscount Kilwarden').
That Wolfe Tone was born on the 20th June, 1763, is not in question, but the exact date and circumstances of his death most certainly is - "..he was sentenced to death on November 10th, 1798 ; on November 11th he was informed by his gaolers that he would be publicly hanged on the following day, Monday 12th, at one o'clock.
It is generally accepted that Wolfe Tone died on November 19th , 1798, (but) in fact, he could have been murdered at any time during the previous week, and there is no doubt, and none of us should be in any doubt, of his murder by British Crown agents..." (more here).
'Once I stood on that sod that lies over Wolfe Tone
And I thought how he perished in prison alone
His friends unavenged and his country unfreed
Oh pity, I thought, Is the patriot's need
I was awakened from my dreaming by voices and tread
Of a band who came in to the home of the dead
There were students and peasants, the wise and the brave
And an old man who knew him from cradle to grave.. (from here.)
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.
A Damning Indictment - "Only four per cent of the 450,000 pupils attending primary schools could get secondary education, while only eight per cent of secondary students could afford to go to a university," pronounced Dr Noel Browne, Fianna Fáil Executive member, at a party social in Tipperary on January 23rd.
This was surely a damning indictment of not merely Leinster House policy, but nineteen years of Fianna Fáil supremacy in that House.
Dr Browne was followed by a Mr Con Ryan, the local Fianna Fáil Chairman who, believe it or not, said - "Fianna Fáil is the legitimate successor of Sinn Féin." ! ('1169' comment - how ironic! Any Irish republican will tell you that, today, it is (P) Sinn Féin that are "the legitimate successor" of Fianna Fáil as, just like Fianna Fáil, the Provisional Sinn Féin grouping left the Republican Movement 'to change the system from the inside' ie from within Leinster House. And, as with Fianna Fáil, the system changed them!) (MORE [from News, Comments etc'] LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (20TH JUNE) 151 YEARS AGO : IRISH REPUBLICAN 'CLANN' FORMED IN AMERICA.
here - also* ; according to John Devoy [in 1924], Jerome James Collins founded what was then called the 'Napper Tandy Club' in New York on 20th June 1867 : 151 years ago on this date.)
In his book entitled 'Women in Ireland's Fight For Freedom', the late Cork republican Gearoid MacCarthaigh wrote - "In the 1940's, the women of Cumann na mBan and the girls of Clann na Gael were the ones not in gaol or internment camps and managed to keep the republican position before the public. They held regular protest marches and meetings in Dublin, and were often batoned by the Free State Guards. On one such occasion the late Commandant Katie O'Connor of Clann na Gael was knocked unconscious in the middle of O'Connell Street, Dublin, by the blow of a baton welded by one of the so-called 'Guardians of the Peace'.."
For one who played such a pivotal role in Irish republicanism, Katie O'Connor is not remembered as much as she deserves to be - it was at the funeral of the Fenian leader Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, in August 1915, that a fifteen-years young girl, from Henrietta Street in Dublin, was moved by the scenes she witnessed. One year later, that girl, Katie O'Connor, now aged 16, involved herself in the Easter Rising, carrying messages between the different rebel garrisons, and the following year she joined Clann na nGael, an Irish republican girl scout organisation (which had been founded by the Kelly sisters in 1910).
During the Tan War (1919-1921) Katie O'Connor was a dispatch carrier and, like all other members of the Clann na nGael girl scout organisation, she opposed the Treaty of December 1921 and took the republican side in the Civil War. She was jailed in Kilmainham in the autumn of 1922 and was subjected to degrading treatment by her Free State captors : she was stripped naked and jeered at by the Staters, who delighted in terrorising their 22 years-young female prisoner. She was the youngest of the women political prisoners and was transferred along with other female prisoners to the Free State internment camp at the North Dublin Union Workhouse. When released two years later (in 1924), she was elected leader of the organisation and, from then until well into the 1940's, she travelled throughout Ireland and England setting up branches - she was to hold her leadership position for almost fifty years.
On one of her visits to England in the late 1920's, in a hall in Gay Street in Liverpool, the 'Countess Markievicz' branch of the Clann was established ; Katie O'Connor and two other Clann leaders, Cissie Cunningham and Kathleen McLaughlin, became firm friends with the 'Markievicz' membership, especially the O/C, Kathleen Walsh, and sisters Rita and Kathleen McSweeney. It was members of Clann na nGael that organised the first van-load of supplies for the nationalist population of Belfast, and other areas, following the August 1969 pogroms. In the 1970's, Katie O'Connor stepped down as Clann leader (her replacement was Maura Lyons) but Katie did not end her support for the Republican Movement - she assisted the IRA and worked with the prisoners organisation, 'An Cumann Cabhrach' (now 'Cabhair').
On the 11th January, 1983, at 83 years of age, Katie O'Connor died ; she had been a 'dissident/terrorist' for sixty-seven years. And we need more like her.
And we also need more like John Kenny - 'In 1914, Co. Kildare native John Kenny ran a dangerous secret mission that helped set the stage for the 1916 Uprising ; he was born in Branganstown, Co. Kildare in 1847 and, after spending a few years in Australia, he arrived in New York around 1870, where he joined Clann na Gael (and) rose quickly through the ranks - by the early 1880's he was the president of the New York Clann na Gael. John Devoy and Thomas Clarke, later arrested and imprisoned on an attempted bombing mission in London, were among the members.
In 1885, John left a very successful business in New York to bring his family back to Ireland, renting The Mount, a horse farm in Kilcock, Co. Kildare. There, while playing the part of a gentleman farmer, he ran high-level meetings and laundered funds coming in from America. His young daughter Margaret would be sent through town carrying a cake to a neighbour's house as a signal that a meeting was to be held that night. The children were strictly warned never to speak of anything or anyone they saw at The Mount (and) despite evident surveillance by G-men, the children enjoyed their years in Kilcock - but the stress took its toll on John's marriage. In 1890, the family moved back to New York. John and Annie separated, the children were sent to boarding schools in America and John returned to Ireland – first to Naas and later to Dublin, where he continued his revolutionary work. His frequent trips between Ireland and America served as a cover for his role as a Clann na Gael/IRB liaison operative..' (from here.)
They rose in dark and evil days
To right their native land ;
They kindled here a living blaze
That nothing shall withstand...
(Re my soon-to-be holiday destination : Clann na Gael were once based in Number 112 West 72nd Street, New York. And we'll be sure to visit that building on our travels but it's not one of the apartments we'll be staying in. Just as well, really, as it's a bit on the 'rough' side for our liking...!)
ON THIS DATE (20TH JUNE) 220 YEARS AGO : FOULKSMILLS -'TREAT THE LOCALS AS HARSHLY AS POSSIBLE'.
General Sir John Moore left New Ross with 1,500 men to march to Wexford town. With the Wexford rebellion contained he, in conjunction with General Lake marching from the north, was determined to crush the Wexford rebels...Moore was supposed to be joined en route by the garrison of FortDuncannon. These troops however failed to turn up and, after a delay of a few hours, Moore resumed his march towards the village of Taghmon.
As the troops neared Goff's Bridge near Foulksmills, scouts reported a large rebel force advancing to meet them. The rebel numbers were estimated at 5,000 men. Moore immediately deployed the 60th Rifles to hold the bridge...
The United Irishmen were led by Fr. Philip Roche who, seeing the riflemen deployed at the bridge, led his men to the left of the road in an attempt to out flank the British troops. Off the road, the rebels were in cover of the fields, ditches and hedges (and) attacked with great numbers, but were poorly armed with few muskets and mostly pikemen (but) outnumbered, the 60th Rifles were scarcely able to hold back the attack (and) Moore was forced to personally deploy his troops in line to meet the rebel attack. Once he had done so he was able to bring his artillery into play and the rebels were driven back field by field. However they did retire in good order and the battle was far from a government victory...500 United Irishmen died at Foulksmills along with 100 British troops. The battle left the road to Wexford open to Moore and he took the town the following day...'
Those that live in and around that part of Wexford who have an interest in local history will tell you that British General Moore issued orders for his troops to treat the locals as harshly as possible and to take any provisions they needed, from the locals, to sustain them for at least three weeks. Moore and his gunmen had arrived in Wexford from the West Cork area where they had been 'searching for arms', during which they burned homes and generally terrorised the people of that area. The General himself boasted about how, when a single redcoat appears, everyone flees - but he couldn't have guessed that some so-called 'republicans' would actually run towards, and morally embrace, a redcoat...
VIEW FROM THE HILLTOP CAFE...
What is her solution? Only parties disassociated from violence should be allowed to stand. But what about the almost 20 per cent of the electorate who voted for Sinn Féin? "Those who vote for terrorists aren't democrats," she replies, "If people don't like living in Northern Ireland (sic) then why can't they go and live in the Republic (sic) ?" When it is pointed out that Catholics and nationalists were settled in the North long before the arrival of mainly Protestant planters, she simply says that refusal is indicative of their general disloyalty.
Ivor is a member of the Portadown District Lodge, and served time as an internee at Long Kesh in the 1970's. He has lived in Portadown since then and, in what emerges as a recurring theme in the evening, he claims that he has "no problem with the ordinary decent Catholic people...there was no problem in the Garvaghy Road before that McKenna (Brendan MacCionnaith) came along.."
Brendan MacCionnaith is the spokesperson for the Garvaghy Road residents association and was a member of the IRA, convicted of blowing-up the British Legion Hall in Portadown. The Orange Order refuses to meet MacCionnaith because of his convictions - "As a matter of principle, we cannot be involved in talks with convicted terrorists because of what they have inflicted on our community," says Country Grand Master Denis Watson ; this is despite the fact that Orangemen met with the late LVF leader Billy Wright during disturbances in 1995...
Thanks for reading, Sharon.