ON THIS DATE (5TH FEBRUARY) 98 YEARS AGO : REBEL WOMEN SAY 'NO!'.
Eithne Coyle, Cumann na mBan President.
On the 5th of April 1914, in Wynn's Hotel in Abbey Street, Dublin, the inaugural meeting of the newly-established 'Cumann na mBan' organisation took place, with Kathleen Lane-O'Kelley in the Chair. Its constitution made no secret of the fact that it was not opposed to the use of force to remove the British military and political presence from Ireland and the organisation also declared that its primary aim was to "advance the cause of Irish liberty (and) teach its members first aid, drill, signalling and rifle practice in order to aid the men of Ireland." It was the first female military force in Ireland.
In 1918, Westminster threatened to conscript Irishmen into its armed forces and the then four-year-old Cumann na mBan organisation campaigned to such an extent against that conscription that its ranks swelled and it found itself ideally placed to assist the then Sinn Féin organisation in its election campaign in December that same year. At this time, Cumann na mBan had approximately 600 active branches in the country, with the majority of its members aged from their late teens to their mid-30's, and all were active on the republican side during the War of Independence that followed, in which an estimated 10,000 women played an active part. In October 1921, the Cumann na mBan leadership recorded that it had at least 12,000 active members in 800 branches.
However, when the 'Treaty of Surrender' was signed in December 1921 (resulting in partition and the creation of two bastard States) the republican forces, including Cumann na mBan, effectively split into three groups - supporters of the Treaty, those who opposed it and those who withdrew in a neutral stance. A group of Treaty-supporting activists left Cumann na mBan and formed themselves into a new group, 'Cumann na Saoirse' and, five years later, when the Fianna Fail party was founded, more Cumann na mBan members left the organisation to join Eamon de Valera in his new party. Also, in the mid-1930's, yet another group from within Cumann na mBan left to form 'Mna na Poblachta' but the Cumann na mBan organisation itself stayed true to its republican principles in 1970 and again in 1986, when opportunists again left the Republican Movement to seek their political (and financial) fortunes in constitutional political assemblies.
Today, the Cumann na mBan organisation remains affiliated to the Republican Movement and can be contacted at 223 Parnell Street in Dublin and/or 229 Falls Road in Belfast. The email for getting in touch with the organisation is firstname.lastname@example.org.
PUTTING (ALLEGED) 'NEW OIL' INTO A SEIZED 'ENGINE'.
In this corrupt State, Leinster House is the 'engine' and all the candidates beseeching you for your vote in the 8th February 2020 'general election' are the self-declared 'new oil' that 'can fix the engine' and, with your vote, they will 'fix' that 'engine' - for themselves, that is, financially. One term in Leinster House is all they need to secure an income for themselves for life and/or to make business contacts which will ensure for them a paid position in either Brussels or on the Board of some NGO/Quango but the collapsing health service and housing situation etc in this State will continue in a downward spiral. The Leinster House institution is only fit for one purpose - the cutting of deals and throats ; the deals favour those inside that venue and the throats belong to those of us on the outside who, through our taxes (and votes), pay for the life of luxury enjoyed by those inside those gilded walls.
Compromise with George Carlin (pictured, above) - on the 8th of February next, claim your ballot paper and write 'NONE OF THE ABOVE' on it and place it in the ballot box. Don't fall for the slick words of a shyster mechanic.
ON THIS DATE (5TH FEBRUARY) 200 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF A 'UNITED IRISHMAN' FOUNDING FATHER.
The cause, or the men, of the Emerald Isle..."
- the words of William Drennan (pictured), 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.
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.)
'When Erin first rose from the dark-swelling flood,
God blessed the green island, he saw it was good.
The Emerald of Europe, it sparkled and shone,
in the ring of this world, the most precious stone.
In her sun, in her soil, in her station thrice blest,
With her back towards Britain, her face to the West,
Erin stands proudly insular, on her steep shore,
And strikes her high harp 'mid the ocean's deep roar...' (from here.)
'A SACRED TRUST...'
From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, December 1954.
In this period, coming up to Christmas, we especially appeal to you on behalf of An Cumann Cabhrach, to aid the prisoners' dependents. Christmas means so much to all of us in Christian Ireland, and our patriotism has always been so closely linked with our faith, let us not forget our boys in prison.
Send us a subscription, but do a little more ; get your friends to do likewise. If possible, form a small committee and write to An Runaidhe, An Cumann Cabhrach, and obtain collection cards. Small weekly subscriptions from many people will ensure the continuance of the fund, without throwing too great a strain on the pocket of any individual. God knows the demands on the pocket of the working man are manifold, but remember this - every penny you contribute is another blow at British domination in Ireland, and the results even in our own day may reach beyond our wildest dreams.
All subscriptions and communications to : An Runaide, An Cumann Cabhrach, c/o 94 Sean Treacy Street, Ath Cliath.
(END of 'A Sacred Trust' ; NEXT - 'IRA Criminal Conspiracy - A Conspirator Speaks And Is 'Boohed' ', from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (5TH FEBRUARY) 99 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF AN UNWITTING FEMME FATALE.
Katharine Wood in 1846, on the 30th January ; she matured into an unwitting femme fatale, and is said to be practically solely responsible for 'the most notorious scandal of the late Victorian Age' - the downfall of Charles Stewart Parnell and the split which followed in the 'Home Rule Movement'.
'Kitty' was a name she would have hated, as it was slang for a woman of loose morals. In fact, she only loved two men in her life and married both of them, though the marriage to Charles Stewart Parnell was to prove tragically short-lived as he died in her arms after a few brief months of happiness. She was born Katharine Wood in 1845, and was known as Kate to her family. Her father was a baronet, a member of the British aristocracy and her brother a Field Marshall, although their grandfather had started life as an apprentice and was a self-made man.
The Woods were closely linked with the Gladstone family and Katharine often acted as a go-between with William Gladstone when Parnell was trying to persuade the British government to grant Ireland independence. She had married William O'Shea at the age of twenty-one, not long after the death of her father, and the marriage had produced a son and two daughters. O'Shea neglected his wife and pursued his own pleasures while she was often left to bring up the children alone, while also looking after her elderly aunt. She played the part of a dutiful wife, however, and hosted dinner parties to help her husband's career. Parnell, an important figure in Irish politics, was always invited, always accepted and yet never showed up.
Annoyed and perplexed by these apparent snubs she went to confront him in person at his office in Westminster in July 1880. The effect was immediate ; "This man is wonderful and different," she was to write later. Parnell was a bachelor who had once loved and been rejected, and never took an interest in women again until he met Katharine. It was a suicidal love as she was married to a fellow Irish MP and was a respectable wife and mother. The power of the attraction between the two, however, was impossible to resist and before long they were living together in her home in Eltham in the suburbs of London.
They had an illicit 'honeymoon' in Brighton and Katharine was to bear three children to Parnell while still married to O'Shea, the first of whom died soon after being born. It is even thought that she bore Parnell a son who could take his name after they finally married, although this child was stillborn. O'Shea knew of the relationship but turned a blind eye to it. Then the Aunt died and left Katharine a large inheritance and he decided to divorce his wife and shame Parnell publicly. The ensuing scandal ruined Parnell's career and his health.
His traditional supporters in Catholic Ireland turned away from him when they learned he had been living with a married woman even though he and his beloved Katharine became man and wife after they married at Steyning register office in Sussex, the county where they made their home. In an attempt to revive his flagging fortunes, Parnell went to Ireland and spoke at a public meeting in County Galway. He was caught in a thunderstorm and developed a chill from which he never recovered. Seriously ill, he returned to be with Katharine and died soon afterwards. They had been married for only four months.
It is estimated that half a million people lined the streets of Dublin to pay their respects to Parnell as his coffin was taken to Glasnevin cemetery to be buried near Daniel O'Connell. Later Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins were also laid to rest nearby. On the granite stone above his grave lies just one word – 'Parnell', enough to identify Ireland’s flawed hero whose dream of a free and united country at peace with Britain was destroyed by his love for a married woman.
Katharine Wood died on the 5th February 1921 - 99 years ago on this date - at 75 years of age, in Littlehampton in Sussex, England, and is buried there.
'WOMEN AIDING WOMEN...'
The worker's joined a trade union several months ago in an effort to enter negotiations with management concerning the running of the refuge.
They have, to date, met with no cooperation from management on this front - they have had no response whatsoever from the committee to their strike action in support of Wenda Edwards, the sacked refuge co-ordinator. It appears that the major problem the management committee had with Wenda was her commitment to putting the interests of the residents of the refuge first. She refused to follow their lead in a number of cases - management wanted the number of times a woman could come back to the refuge limited ; they also wanted the number of women housed by the refuge to be held to a strict limit, and they didn't want the workers contributing to the 'Women And Poverty' tribunal on the grounds that poverty has nothing to do with domestic violence!
There were other indications of a conflict of interests - the refusal by management to take up the proposal from the workers that they each spend two hours per month in the refuge getting to know the conditions and needs of the women who use it, suggests a lack of interest on their part in the lives of the women coming to the refuge. The overall issue is about more than democracy. Perhaps the most fundamental issue at stake is that of power ; who has the power to run the refuge? Who should have that power? Should the women with direct experience of domestic violence be empowered to change their lives or should they have 'charity' dispensed to them?
The kind of life experience that can result in a woman (and her children) becoming a victim of battering and mental or physical mutilation by her 'life partner' is something which is not just alien to a lot of other women who have never had contact with such a person - it is something which a lot of women refuse to acknowledge for fear of admitting their own vulnerability... (MORE LATER.)
'IRA PRISONERS REMANDED : ELABORATE SECURITY PRECAUTIONS BY NORTHERN 'POLICE' '.
Elaborate security precautions were taken by 'the police' when eight men arrested after the raid on Omagh military depot appeared on remand at Omagh, yesterday, on a charge of attempting to murder Fusilier John Callaghan on October 25th (1954).
They were taken from Belfast Prison in two motorised convoys, at the head of which rode plain-clothes policemen on motorcycles, provided with wireless. At Omagh, 120 policemen, some armed with Sten guns, surrounded the Courthouse and all traffic was stopped and streets sealed off. Only reporters were allowed into the court. The republican prisoners were handcuffed in pairs, and they in turn were handcuffed to a policeman on either side.
The accused men are Thomas James Mitchell (29), Eamonn Boyce (29), Philip Clarke (21), Patrick Joseph Kearney (28), John McCabe (33), all from Dublin, and Seán O'Callaghan (21), Seán Hegarty (20) and Liam Mulcahy (22), from Cork. Seven of them were dressed in British Army fatigue uniform and wore brown gymnasium slippers. Eamonn Boyce wore a grey sports coat, brown flannels and a white shirt.
The court proceedings lasted six minutes - Head Constable McQuaid said that he had not completed his inquiries. The magistrate, Mr. W. McC. Miller, asked the accused men if they had any questions to put to the court and Patrick Joseph Kearney asked "Do we have to recognise the court to ask questions?" and Mr. Roy, the clerk, replied "I am afraid it would amount to that", to which the magistrate stated -"It is not a matter for me, but for yourselves."
When remand in custody for eight days was decided upon, the magistrate inquired if it could not be made longer than that and District Inspector O'Brien said that if the accused men agreed they could make it 14 days, but if it were not agreed then it must be eight days... (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (WEDNESDAY 12TH FEBRUARY)...
the Luas, pulling-up outside Wynn's Hotel in Mid-Abbey Street in Dublin, and yer man is happy 'cause he just won one of the eight prizes in the Cabhair raffle...!
the Cabhair organisation : the work for this event began yesterday, Tuesday 4th February, when the five of us started to track down the ticket sellers and arrange for the delivery/collection of their ticket stubs, cash and unsold tickets (yeah, right!) and, even though the raffle itself is, as stated, to be held on Sunday 9th February, the 'job' is not complete until the following night, when the usual 'raffle autopsy' is held.
The time constraints imposed by same will mean that our normal Wednesday post will more than likely not be collated in time for next Wednesday (12th) and it's looking like it will be between that date and the Wednesday following same (the 19th) before we get the time to put a post together but, if you're missing us that bad (!), then drop in and say 'Howya!' on Saturday, 15th February next, in Wynn's Hotel in Mid Abbey Street in Dublin, between 12 Noon and 4pm, for the 'Year Of Revolution' seminar. Sure we might even sell ya a raffle ticket for the March gig..!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.