ON THIS DATE (2ND JANUARY) 103 YEARS AGO : "FIGHT FOR IRELAND" SPEECH BY 1916 RISING LEADER.
Tomás Ceannt (Thomas Kent) was born on the 29th August, 1865, in Bawnard House, Castlelyons, in Cork, the fourth of seven sons and two daughters, for David and Mary Kent. The Kent family had a long tradition of fighting against social and political injustices : 'His family were squeezed off their land by the British Crown's incremental rate increases. Thomas Kent left for Boston in the United States, but returned to Ireland several years later, owing to illness. Himself and his three brothers became radicalised, and were often jailed for their political activities, chiefly their support for the Land League and their membership of the Irish Volunteers. When the Easter Rising kicked off in April 1916, Tomás Ceannt, then 50 years of age, and his brothers, obeyed Eoin MacNeill's countermanding order and stayed home, Kent having planned to head to Dublin to fight. In a swoop for known republican sympathisers, however, the RIC made a dawn raid on the Kent family home in Castlelyons.
The Ceannts resisted arrest and had a shoot-out with the RIC, which lasted four hours. The RIC's head constable was killed, his face blown off, before the Ceannts surrendered. When they arrested Tomás Ceannt..he was paraded through the town of Fermoy a bit like Jesus Christ. His hands were tied and he had no shoes — he wasn't allowed wear any boots. He was humiliated...his mother was 89 and she was cooling down the guns and supplying her sons with ammunition during the raid. (The RIC) humiliated her as well. She was too old to walk so they put her on a cart with her dying son, the youngest son, Richard. He suffered from his nerves, as they said in those days. He had mental issues...he was terrified when he was arrested and he ran away and was shot in the back. He was dying. He died about a day later from his wounds...' (from here).
Thomas and his brother, William, were charged by the British with 'armed rebellion' - the brother was acquitted, but Thomas was found guilty and sentenced to death. Another brother, David, was 'found guilty' of the same charge and received a death sentence, but this was commuted to five years penal servitude. On the 9th May 1916, Tomás Ceannt was put to death by firing squad and his body was placed in a hole in the ground of Cork Prison, where he lay for 99 years : in 2015, the Free State administration, still attempting to associate themselves with those who fought against British rule, shamefully re-buried that Irish republican in a televised display of pomp and ceremony and it and the 'establishment' it spawned practically crawled over themselves to be seen to be associated with such a man.
After their taxpayer-funded meal and drinks, they reverted to condemning those who continue to fight for the freedom of this country. Disgusting behaviour from a disgusting political 'elite'.
"Those whose faith is strong will endure to the end and triumph. The liberty for which we today strive is a sacred thing - inseparably entwined as body with soul with that spiritual liberty for which the Savour of man died and which is the inspiration and foundation of all just governments. We, taking up the work left incomplete, confident in God, offer sacrifice from ourselves. We ask for no mercy and we will make no compromise."
(END of the 'United Irishman'-edited version of that speech : NEXT - that speech in full).
ON THIS DATE (2ND JANUARY) 117 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF AN IRISH GUERRILLA FIGHTER.
They were great, the local people at the time, they were the soul of Ireland. Without the local people, the Flying Columns couldn't exist. They'd [the police] get no response from the people. The people were opposed to them at the time, and it continued that way right up to the Truce..De Valera? I never liked him. He'd make a statement and it'd have about four different meanings.. I always thought there was something queer about him...when it came out that you were prepared to hand over a big part of your territory to the British, there was a revulsion against it. People expected a lot — when they found out they got nothing but partition, they got very annoyed..
(Michael) Collins did marvellous work in the war against the Tans — but when he went Free Stater then, actually he declared it one time that he was signing his own death warrant. He knew it was wrong, which made it worse. As it went along then he got very bitter..I went back to Kerry then and I worked in a bread van for a number of years, but I got various jobs through the years all along. I was arrested a number of times ; the finish was refusing to answer questions and I was jailed. I lost my job again — came out and was going all right again. There was a lot of turmoil, unemployment was rotten..we decided anyway to take him (O'Duffy) out of it, the IRA in Kerry. Six of us assembled in Ballyseedy. The train is over the road at Ballycarthy. I was up in the railway station and Christy Leen was in the roadside to give me the number of the car when it'd come. The reception party was Johnny O'Connor, John Duggan, my brother Tadhg and Josie Hassett — they were well armed, they had a Thompson machine-gun and two rifles, he wouldn't escape...
I had a number of men there (in England) — three or four active men. We kept ourselves small. And we laid bombs whenever we got the chance. You would have to say we were very successful for a long time. You would select places and one of the places we selected was the Grosvenor Hotel in Park Lane. The bomb was laid at the back of a flowerpot. The only thing was to try and cause as much confusion as we could. But as time went by, what we were doing was nothing. The war was on.." - Dan Keating, pictured, from here.
Dan Keating was born on the 2nd of January in 1902 - 117 years ago on this date - in the townland of Ballygamboon, Castlemaine, Co Kerry. In 1917, he went to work in Tralee at Jerry McSweeney's Grocery, Bar and Bakery. Jerry McSweeney's uncle, Richard Laide, was shot in the attack on Gortalea barracks which was the first barracks to be attacked in Ireland. Dan joined the Fianna in Tralee in 1918 and about two years later he joined the Irish Republican Army. Others to join at that time were Gerry Moyles, Donnchadh Donoghue, Tommy Vale, John Riordan (Kerry All-Ireland footballer), Jerry O'Connor (better known as "Uncy"), Matt Moroney and Paddy and Billy Griffin.
In the meantime, he met a soldier who used to frequent the bar where he worked and during conversations procured a rifle from him. This was then handed over to Johnny O'Connor of the Farmers' Bridge unit. Dan was later to join this unit which included men of the calibre of Johnny Duggan, Johnny O'Connor, Timmy Galvin, Moss Galvin, Jack Corkery, Jim Ryle, Mick Hogan and Jamesy Whiston. This unit was very active from 1920 to 1924 and many of its members took part in the Headford ambush which claimed the lives of approximately 20 British soldiers. Volunteers Danny Allman and Jimmy Baily also lost their lives at Headford. He took part in the ambush at Castlemaine in which eight RIC and Black-and-Tans were killed. Gerry Moyles was severely injured in this encounter. The last ambush in Kerry took place in Castleisland on the night before the Truce and Dan also participated in this. Four RIC members were killed in this action and Volunteers Jack Shanahan, Jack Prenderville, John McMahon and John Flynn also lost their lives.
In 1922, he was transferred to a unit in Tralee which was commanded by Tommy Barton of Ballyroe when they occupied Ballymullen barracks for a period of three months. He took part in the attack on Listowel barracks, now occupied by the Free Staters, in which one Free Stater was shot dead. In Limerick, Dan, along with comrades from Kerry, fought the Free State troops over a period of ten days. Republican Volunteers Patrick Foran, Charlie O'Hanlon and Tom McLoughlin lost their lives there. Dan was then sent to Tipperary to instruct Gerry Moyles to return to Kilmallock but on the way they were surrounded by Free Staters. After a battle at Two Mile Bridge, Dan and his comrades were taken prisoner and held in Thurles barracks for two days before being conveyed to Portlaoise Jail where he was held for six months. This was to be the first of many times he was interned by the Free State. During this period in Portlaoise the jail was burned and Volunteer Paddy Hickey from Dublin was shot dead. Dan was then transferred to the Curragh Internment Camp and was held there until March 1923. A Free State soldier named Bergin from Nenagh, who became friendly with the republican prisoners and acted as a courier to republicans on the outside, was executed by the Staters.
Dan was charged with possession of a shotgun in 1930 and was issued a summons but did not attend court and was fined £1. In the true republican tradition he refused to pay and was sent to Limerick and held for one week. During a court case in Tralee involving Johnny O'Connor and Mick Kennedy, in which they refused to recognise the court, their supporters in the courthouse cheered loudly and when things died down the judge ordered Dan Keating to be brought up before him and gave him three months for contempt. He was jailed in Cork with Johnny O'Connor but after a hunger strike by Johnny both were released after three weeks.
The next time he was interned was after O'Duffy's visit to Tralee ; he was sentenced to six months in Arbour Hill Prison in Dublin. He was later captured in Carrigans in Clonmel by a policeman who had previously arrested him in Tralee and was taken first to Thurles and from there to the Curragh where he was held for three years and six months. In this period the camp was burned and Barney Casey from Longford was shot dead.
He was also on active service in England during the early 1940's, and returned to work in Dublin and operated as a barman in the Eagle House, James Street, the Cornet and the Kilmardenny public houses. His other great interest was Gaelic games, and indeed between football and hurling he has attended more than 140 All-Ireland senior finals including replays, which must be a record in itself. When he retired he returned to Kerry in 1978 and resided at Ballygamboon, Castlemaine and, in 2004, he replaced George Harrison of Mayo and New York as the fourth Patron of Sinn Féin Poblachtach since 1986, following in the footsteps of such illustrious republicans as Comdt-General Tom Maguire and Michael Flannery of Tipperary and New York. During his long, healthy and adventurous lifetime he had seen many splits and deviations from republican principles, but he remained loyal and true to the end. He died in Tralee on the 2nd of October 2007, at 105 years of age, after a short illness, and is buried in Kiltallagh Cemetery in Castlemaine, in Kerry, and his funeral oration was delivered by his comrade Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.
I measc Laochra na nGael go raibh sé .
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.
DERRY MEN FINED : Patrick Shields, Terence Doherty, John O' Doherty, Thomas Mellon and Seán Keenan, all of Derry, were charged at Derry Petty Sessions on January 31st last with collecting for the Republican Prisoners Dependents Fund without having a 'police permit'. None of the men appeared in court . They were fined £2 each.
GAA SUPPORT : Offaly County Board, GAA, adopted a resolution that each club contributes ten shillings to a fund in aid of the dependents of the men imprisoned as a result of the raid on Omagh Barracks.
MISTAKEN IDENTITY : In our January issue we commented on an article by a David Jack, which appeared in the 'Empire News' newspaper of the 26th December 1954. In the course of our comment we stated that Mr Jack was the coach to the Shelbourne Soccer Club. We are now in receipt of a letter from Mr David BN Jack, the Shelbourne manager coach, in which he states that he is not a contributor to the 'Empire News' and has therefore no connection with the article in question. We regret the error and wish to tender our apologises to Mr Jack for publishing it.
(END of 'Derry Men Fined', 'GAA Support' and 'Mistaken Identity' : NEXT - 'Death Of Patriot Irishwoman', from the same source.)
From 'Magill' magazine, February 1998.
A porter I knew at Liberty Hall was renowned for the sheer breadth of his opinions on complex national and international issues, although he may have been a bit weak on portering as such. Where Noel Browne went wrong in his battle with the Catholic Church and the medical establishment, where the country (sic) went wrong on decimalisation and where the government went wrong on emigration were only some of his areas of expertise.
"Do you know what has this country ruined?", he challenged a couple of drinking cronies in the adjacent Liffey Bar on a cold January evening. His comrades hugged their hot whiskies, knowing they were going to be told anyway : "Relativity", he pronounced, looking up from his 'Evening Press'. "There was never any relativity in this country before the British unions..." And he went on to berate one 'British union' official in particular who, happily, is still with us.
I thought it an odd line from an ITGWU partisan, given the origins of Connolly and Larkin. As if reading my mind, he threw aside the latest coverage of industrial strife and triumphantly 'belled the cat' - "I tell a lie. He (naming the 'British union' official) is not responsible for relativity. I read one time that a foreigner called Einstein started relativity, but I still say yer man brought it to Ireland..." (MORE LATER).
HAPPY WEDNESDAY (AND 2019!) TO ALL OUR READERS!
Twitter and Facebook - to promote what we believe in and hopefully reinforce that same belief in other Irish republicans and perhaps even convert some of those 'on the fence' to see issues as we do. A tall order, we know, but we're nothing if not persistent!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.