" A wealth of information..."

"1169 And Counting is a wealth of information on our Republican past and present , and demonstrates how the Irish political landscape , like that of any nation, will never be a black and white issue..."

(From the ‘e-Thursday’ section of the ‘Business Week’ supplement of the ‘Irish Independent’ , 21st August 2008.)



This blog was listed as one of the 'Finalists' in the '2016 current affairs/politics' category of the Littlewoods Ireland blog awards - but we didn't win the award. But not to worry -thanks to everyone involved for getting us to the final stage of the competition and sure we'll try again the next time!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

THE IRISH 'INTELLIGENTSIA' AND THEIR 'BRITISHNESS'.

PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

FOR ALL THE HARD WORK.

For all the hard work, soul searching, enjoyment, reflection and silent pondering that went into crafting this book from all concerned. We would like to thank Sister Caoimhín for all her hard work on behalf of prisoners in this country, for her kindness and compassion. For she is truly a great woman with a big heart.

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Sister Caoimhín Ní Uallacháin OP, Matt Talbot Community Trust, 42 St. Laurence's Road, Chapelizod, Dublin 20 -

"Our organisation is a non-residential drug free community founded to befriend and work in solidarity with young disadvantaged adults, mostly young men over 17 years, returning to their community from prison, addiction therapy, state/psychiatric care or struggling in the face of poverty or homelessness.

We offer education, training, work, counselling and therapy, recreation and meals to those employed with us on a CE scheme. We are also involved in prison and home visitation, a woman's group, a family summer project and local networking and partnership."

(END of 'PROSE AND CONS'. Next - 'Joker In The Pack', from 1987.)





PERCEPTIONS...

"We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all." - So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for 'Northern Ireland', last July in 'The London Evening Standard' newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from 'Iris' magazine, Easter 1991. ('1169' comment : *'August' as in ' dignified and impressive'? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway...)

The English concepts of 'doing the honourable thing' and of 'duty to a colony' which were recently agonised over when making settlements about Hong Kong, have never had the moral force to stand up to economic reality. 'Good moral reasons' are always found for their own actions ; although British governments have a masterly grasp of the effective use of propaganda, they must sometimes wish we were not quite so gullible, so easily cowed, so trusting of the authoritative voice of English mentors.

Questioning voices on the truth of the British government line always come from independent newspapers or television in Britain, not from programme-makers or media people in Ireland. The 'master-servant' relationships taboos are alive and well in the Irish media.

One of the saddest facts of Irish history is the way, time and time again, the Irish 'intelligentsia' have allowed themselves to be pushed into a welcome acceptance of 'Britishness' ('1169' comment - lol! And lol again!) : this acceptance of colonised mental status is as true for the North as it is for the rest of Ireland. Discussion programmes on television emanating from Belfast contain constant references to 'the mainland', while in 'the Republic', the present reappearance of the colonised mentality is more insidious but none the less real. (MORE LATER).





GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

SELF-INFLICTED INJURIES.

The drunken boaster was caught red-handed in the pub, handcuffed to a cop, escorted onto the Liverpool boat and transported back to Ireland. He was handed over to the RUC on the dock at Belfast and, after a short visit to the Petty Sessions Court in Townhall Street in Belfast, where he was remanded in custody, he was sent to Long Kesh.

We of course had no idea as to why he was in prison - it was none of our business. Usually a new guy would just tell you over a cup of tea but this new guy wouldn't come across with any info at all. We thought this was very selfish and told him so, but he wouldn't say anything about his charge. The I.O. (Intelligence Officer) in Cage 10 was a mate of a mate, so we cornered him the next day : "What's the crack with yer man?" we asked. "The new guy", we said.

"I can't tell you", he said, but we knew by his face that he was bursting to tell us. "Ah go on, tell us, we'll not say anything to anybody..." we said to him. And he told us all about the new guy - the'phone caller' - and the phone call he made. We could scarcely believe the stupidity of the guy but there it was, and we were duty-bound not to tell anyone about it... (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Saturday, July 15, 2017

PAT CANNON COMMEMORATION, DUBLIN, JULY 2017.

VOLUNTEER PAT CANNON COMMEMORATION, WEDNESDAY 19TH JULY 2017, DUBLIN.

Pat Cannon (left), Dublin, and Peter McElchar, Donegal.

At 2.15pm on Saturday, 17th July 1976, two IRA Volunteers on active service - Patrick Cannon from Dublin and Peter McElchar from Donegal - set out in a car in which they were transporting an explosive device. They crossed the border from Donegal into Tyrone and were approaching the town of Castlederg when the device exploded prematurely. Peter McElchar was killed instantly. Patrick Cannon was gravely injured and was taken to Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh. He was being transferred to hospital in Belfast when he died.

Born in Dublin on November 28th 1955 - one of a family of seven (three girls and four boys)- Pat Cannon and his family lived in Edenmore, on the northside of the city. He was a fitter/welder by trade, and was only 20 years of age when he died. A wreath will be laid to mark the 41st anniversary of the death of this young Irish soldier on Wednesday 19th July 2017 at 6.30pm in Old Balgriffin Cemetery, off the Malahide Road, in Dublin (the number 42 bus from Talbot Street in Dublin city centre will leave you at Campion's Pub, right beside the graveyard). Organised by Republican Sinn Féin Poblachtach : ALL WELCOME!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, July 05, 2017

THE SHAMROCK AT THE HEART OF THE IRISH NATION.

ON THIS DATE (5TH JULY) 77 YEARS AGO : THOMAS ÓG MacCURTAIN'S LAST DAY ON EARTH...

Tomás Óg MacCurtain, left, 33 years of age, pictured in Cork in 1948 (thanks to Brendan O'Neill for the pic!).

In Cork, in 1920, Irish republican Tomás MacCurtain was elected as 'Lord Mayor' of the city, just one of the many changes that resulted from the 15th January local council elections that were held in Ireland that year, in which Sinn Féin won control of 11 out of 12 cities and boroughs - the only municipal council in all Ireland left under Unionist control was in Belfast ; out of 206 councils elected on the island , 172 now had a republican/nationalist majority.

The British had 'outlawed' Dáil Éireann (the 32-county body, not the pretend 'Irish parliament' in Kildare Street, in Dublin, which Free Staters claim, falsely, to be the same institution) directed all local council's in Ireland to break their connection with the (British) Dublin Castle system of local administration and, within months, most of the local councils in the country were reporting to the republican administration. Incidentally, that All-Ireland (32 County) Dáil continued to function underground until 1938, when it delegated its executive powers to the Army Council of the IRA, in accordance with a resolution of the First Dáil in 1921. With the 1969 split, Tom Maguire, the last and faithful survivor of the All-Ireland Dáil, stated that the Provisional IRA was the successor of the 1938 body - similarly, following the 1986 split, he nominated the Continuity IRA as the legitimate IRA. Tom Maguire died in 1993, aged one-hundred-and-one (101).

Anyway - back to Tomás Óg who, in the year that his father was elected as 'Lord Mayor' of Cork, was only five years of age. He developed an interest in all things Irish, encouraged as much by his mother, Eibhlís Breathnach, as well as his father and, as an adult, became every bit as active in Irish republicanism as was his father, and quickly became a trusted and leading republican, sitting on the Executive of the IRA. This, plus his family history, marked him out to the Free State 'authorities' as 'a person of interest'.

On Wednesday, 3rd January 1940, in St. Patrick Street in Cork, Tomás Óg was jumped-on by a number of Free State Special Branch men, who had decided to 'arrest' him - he fought with them and, in the scuffle, a gunshot was fired. A Free State detective, from Union Square Barracks, by the name of Roche, who in particular had been harassing Tomás Óg for weeks, fell to the ground - he was fatally wounded and died the next day. On the 13th June 1940, the Free State 'Special Criminal Court' sentenced Tomás Óg MacCurtain to death, to be carried out on the 5th July 1940 - 77 years ago on this date. An application for 'Habeas Corpus' was lodged and the execution was postponed for a week, but the Free State Supreme Court then dismissed the appeal. The whole country was divided over the issue - some demanded that he be put to death immediately as a 'sign' from the Fianna Fail administration that they were serious about 'cracking-down' on their former comrades in the IRA, while others demanded that he be released. Finally, on the 10th July 1940, the Free Staters issued a statement - "The President, acting on the advice of the government, has commuted the sentence of death on Tomás (Óg) MacCurtain to penal servitude for life."

It has since been alleged that a sister of Cathal Brugha's widow, who was then the Reverend Mother of an Armagh Convent, had requested that her 'boss' , Cardinal MacRory, should 'speak to' Eamon de Valera about the case. This, if indeed it did happen, and the fact that Tomás Óg's father had actually shouldered a gun alongside many members of the then Fianna Fail administration (before they went Free State, obviously), saved his life.

Tomás MacCurtain (Senior) died in 1920, only 36 years of age, and his son, Tomás Óg, died in 1994, at 79 years of age.





PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

THE GENERAL. (By Brendan Walsh.)

For this world you were too good,

the media clamoured for your blood.

They couldn't see that from childhood

you were a real life Robin Hood.




The evil Minister once did say,

Martin Cahill can't win the day.

So assassins called into play,

it was the extrajudicial way.




In the Dáil (sic) she did stay,

the wicked day to while away.

Waiting for the news to say,

The General has died today.


('1169' comment - I don't know the author, Brendan Walsh, nor do I know, or understand, how any 'republican' could consider people like Martin Cahill to be a "Robin Hood"-type figure. And I don't understand how the author's comrades in Portlaoise Prison allowed that piece to be published in a book linked to them and to what they believed, at that time (ie 1999) to be 'republicanism'. However, some (small) comfort to be had in the fact that not all in their own organisation supported the "Robin Hood"- type propaganda.)

(Next - 'For All the Hard Work' - a final acknowledgment.)






PERCEPTIONS...

"We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all." - So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for 'Northern Ireland', last July in 'The London Evening Standard' newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from 'Iris' magazine, Easter 1991. ('1169' comment : *'August' as in ' dignified and impressive'? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway...) "This injurious feeling of inferiority" is also that with which the Northern Protestant deals with England - "His going to the capital (London) to find the central focus of his values, solves nothing. It only proves that his problem is not chiefly one of provincialism, but must be rooted in some species of colonialism or post-colonialism" - JW Foster, 'The Irish Review', Autumn 1988.

According to Joe Lee, Professor of History, UCC, the qualities in the Irish acceptuated by colonialism were "ambiguity, evasiveness, furtiveness and mendacity." All species of fawning behaviour just adds to the thwarted sense of irritation that bedevils our relationships with England. Why, thinks the average English politician, should a problem so fundamentally unimportant take up so much of our time?

As Garret FitzGerald said ('Irish Times' newspaper, 7/6/1989) "We have always in Ireland failed to understand the extent to which the British governmental system has weaknesses and inefficiencies. We tend, because of a traditional inferiority complex, to think they're being clever when they're being stupid. The failure of the Irish to understand how stupidly the British can act is one of the major sources of misunderstanding between our countries."

Commentators in the better-class English newspapers use a half-humourous, patronising tone when writing about Ireland, that manages to make the reader feel that these are an inferior but interesting people. The same tone was always used until recently in articles about Russians ; it signifies that those written about are in some way outside the Pale. This tone of almost affectionate disparagement is beautifully illustrated in an article in the 'Independent' newspaper, 18th March 1989, by Glebern Davis when he writes that "..panic was ever a traditional and economic element in Irish conflict.."

(MORE LATER).






ON THIS DATE (5TH JULY) 155 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF THE NATION'S SHAMROCK.

In Dublin, on the 8th October 1822, a child was born (out of wedlock - a 'mortaler' in those days!) to Mary Williams and a Tipperary Count, Nicholas D'Alton ; the child, Richard Dalton Williams (pictured, left), was reared at Grenanstown, Nenagh, County Tipperary and, at the age of ten, began his education at St. Stanislaus School, Tullabeg, in County Laois, and then at St. Patricks College, County Carlow, where he stayed until he was 21 years of age. By the time he left that college he was fluent in three languages, and was studying medicine in St Vincent's Hospital in Stephens Green, in Dublin, preparing himself for a career as a doctor. He combined both 'crafts' to produce a poem, which he called 'The Dying Girl' -

'From a Munster vale they brought her,

from the pure and balmy air ;

An Ormond peasant's daughter,

with blue eyes and golden hair.

They brought her to the city

and she faded slowly there -

consumption has no pity

for blue eyes and golden hair.'
(From here.)

His first published poem was entitled 'The Munster War Song' and it appeared in 'The Nation' newspaper on the 7th January, 1843, under the pseudonym 'Shamrock' (at the time of its publication, he was actually in the process of moving from Carlow, to Dublin, to study medicine in St Vincents Hospital). 'The Nation' newspaper received a great response to Williams' poem, and 'Shamrock' became a regular contributor, with works such as 'Sisters of Charity' and 'The Haunted Man', which raised the profile and readership of the newspaper and of 'Shamrock' himself. As well as the poems, 'The Nation' newspaper published a series of humorous articles from Richard Dalton Williams, entitled 'Misadventures of a Medical Student', and described the author, 'Shamrock' (in its July 1851 issue), in the following terms - "His intellect is robust and vigorous, his passion impetuous and noble, his perception of beauty most delicate and enthusiastic ; his sympathies take in the whole range of human affections, and his humour is irresistible. We think, indeed, that 'Shamrock' excels all his contemporaries in imagination and humour."

By now he was a member of the 'Young Ireland' Movement, and put his medical training to good use during 'The Great Hunger' of 1845-1849, by helping to ease the suffering of hundreds of cholera victims ; he was a hardened opponent of British misrule in Ireland and had joined the 'Irish Confederation' group, which was founded in January 1847 by William Smith O'Brien and other 'Young Irelanders' who had disagreed with Daniel O'Connell's 'Repeal Association'. He was quickly elected to leadership level in the 'Confederation' and was the driving force behind a short-lived newspaper called 'The Irish Tribune', which he published with the assistance of 'Young Ireland' leader, Kevin Izod O'Doherty ; the first issue was published in June 1848, but only five issues of the weekly 'paper made it on to the streets before it was suppressed by the British in early July of that year. But the British used 'The Irish Tribune' newspaper as a reason to arrest both men, and they were charged under the 'Treason-Felony Act' with "intent to depose the queen and levying war."

A famous barrister of the time, Samuel Ferguson, defended both men in a trial which lasted five months and caused great embarrassment to the British. Eventually, in November 1848, Williams and O'Doherty were acquitted ; Williams went back to studying medicine, and qualified as a doctor, in Edinburgh, in July 1849. In June 1851, he emigrated to America and, whilst in New Orleans , met and married an Irish woman, Elizabeth Connolly ; the couple moved to a town called Thibodeaux in Louisiana, where he wrote his last poem - 'Song of the Irish-American Regiments' -

'We have changed the battle-field,

but the cause abandoned never -

here a sharper sword to wield,

and wage the endless war for ever.

Yes! the war we wage with thee -

that of light with power infernal -

as it hath been still shall be,

unforgiving and eternal.'
(From here.)

On the 5th July, 1862 - 155 years ago on this date - just shy of his fortieth birthday, Richard Dalton Williams, 'Shamrock of the Nation', died in America of consumption in Thibodeaux, Louisiana. A patriot, a poet and a publisher, Dr Richard Dalton Williams is one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of almost unknown and/or practically forgotten Irish men and women that played their part in the on-going struggle to remove the British presence from Ireland. They deserve to be remembered somewhere : 'Now thou art a sink of evil — a serpent's nest — a tiger's den — an Iron-crowned and armed devil, having power to torture men.'





GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

SELF-INFLICTED INJURIES.

"Hello, which service do you require?" "Gimme the peelers, the RUC in Belfast." "One moment, please, until I connect you." The RUC man who was just about to lift the phone - and at the time didn't know it - was about to have a brilliant day. "Constable Flannigan here. Can I help you?" "You can go and fuck yourself" , answered the caller, who it transpired at his trial, was calling from Liverpool. "Look it was you that rang me," said the RUC man who, at the same time, was getting another RUC man to trace the call. "Well, you don't know me," said the caller, "but you'll be happy to know that I'll be giving you bastards a break for a while." "A break from what?", asked the RUC man.

For the next five minutes the caller, who was the worse for drink, listed all the robberies he had carried out during his illustrious career as a republican activist. The RUC man in Belfast egged him on with platitudes, and pretended to be impressed with his chat-line pal while giving the cops in Liverpool enough time to walk next door from the biggest police station in that city to the pub where the boaster was boasting... (MORE LATER).





ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK..

..that is, on Wednesday 12th July 2017, we won't be posting our usual contribution, and probably won't be in a position to post anything at all ; this coming weekend (Saturday/Sunday 8th/9th July 2017) is spoke for already with a 650-ticket raffle to be run for the Dublin Executive of Sinn Féin Poblachtach in a venue on the Dublin/Kildare border (work on which begins on the Tuesday before the actual raffle) and the 'autopsy' into same which will take place on Monday evening, 10th, in RSF Head Office on Parnell Street in Dublin, meaning that we will not have the time to post here. But we'll be back, as stated above, on Wednesday 19th July 2017. See ye then!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, June 28, 2017

AN AMERICAN-BORN POACHER-TURNED-GAMEKEEPER...

ON THIS DATE (28TH JUNE) 95 YEARS AGO : FREE STATERS USE BORROWED WEAPONS FROM WESTMINSTER AGAINST THEIR OLD COMRADES.

"For a little while on the morning of the attack on IRA Headquarters, Four Courts, Dublin, 28th June 1922 (95 years ago, on this date), Liam Mellows and I shared vigil at one of the barricaded upper windows, and watched the city bestir itself, within our arc of vision, to the noise of rifle fire and light artillery fire. We thought our thoughts.

Two men, obviously workmen making their way along the quays to their jobs, started us speculating on what role the trade unions would have been guided into were James Connolly alive and the Republic under attack. It was the first time I heard Mellows on the play of social forces in the crisis of the Treaty ; I was present at the Dáil Éireann session when he made his speech against the Treaty but, while what he said then impressed me greatly, it gave no indication of the pattern of ideas he uncovered now.

The Four Courts fell and its garrison became prisoners, and with it members of the IRA Executive - Rory O' Connor, Liam Mellows, Joe McKelvey and Peadar O' Donnell. In the angry mood of the thronged cells in Mountjoy Jail , the prisoners instinctively turned to Mellows as the one among us who must, somehow, be able to explain how the Republican Army could permit itself to be overrun by much weaker military forces and why certain men of courage, hitherto devoted to independence, should choose to enter on a road of struggle to overthrow the Republic and raise on its ruins a parliament which rested on the penal British Government of Ireland Act 1920.." (From 'There Will Be Another Day', by Peadar O'Donnell, first published in January 1963.)

'..on the 14th April 1922, Anti-Treaty forces under the command of Rory O'Connor occupied the Four Courts and several other buildings in Dublin city. A tense stand off between Pro and Anti-Treaty Forces commenced. Anti-Treaty forces hoped that their occupation of the courts would ignite a confrontation with British troops and thus unite the pro and anti Treaty forces. However, this hope never materialised. Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith ('1169' comment - Both Free Staters, pro-Treaty - they were sold a pup, and they tried to sell it to others by subterfuge - in Griffith's own words "I have signed a Treaty of peace between Ireland and Great Britain. I believe that treaty will lay foundations of peace and friendship between the two Nations. What I have signed I shall stand by in the belief that the end of the conflict of centuries is at hand..") came under increasing pressure from London to assert the new governments authority in Dublin and remove those occupying the courts...on the 22nd June 1922, two men assassinated soldier and Unionist politician Sir Henry Wilson in London. Though it was stated that the men were acting on their own initiative, it was suspected that they were acting on orders from Anti-Treaty forces. This action produced an ultimatum from the British government, that they would attack Anti–Treaty forces in the Four Courts unless the Free State government took action. Collins issued a final ultimatum to those occupying the courts. The three-armed parties involved had now reached a point of no return. Civil War was now inevitable...on the 28th June 1922 at 04.10 hours, the bombardment commenced. Shelling was to continue for a number of days..' (from here.)

Michael Collins (left) and his bodyguard, Emmet Dalton.

Emmet Dalton led the Free State attack on the Four Courts ; he was an Irish rebel-turned-Free Stater, who was born in America on March 4th 1898 and died in Dublin on March 4th 1978 - his 80th birthday, and also the bicentenary of the birth of the man he was named after - Robert Emmet. Dalton sold out in favour of the 'Treaty of Surrender' in 1921 and made a (Free State) name for himself by attacking republican positions from the sea, actions that his British paymasters considered as having 'turned the tide' against the Irish republican resistance. He was with Michael Collins on the 22nd of August 1922 when the latter was shot dead by republican forces in West Cork (Béal na mBláth) and is said to have propped up a dying Collins to place dressings on his wound. He resigned from the Free State Army shortly after Collins was killed, and was appointed as the clerk of the Free State Senate, but resigned from that, too, three years later, and opened a film production company, Ardmore Studios, near Bray, in Wicklow. He died, aged 80, on the 4th of March 1978, the same date and month that he had been born on, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

He, Collins, Griffith and those others were wrong at the time when they propagandised that their 'treaty' offered "the end of the conflict of centuries" as they were experienced enough to realise that that wasn't the case. They cursed the rest of us for their own ends.





PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

SCENT OF FRAGRANCE. (By Greg Tarrand.)

You sent me a flower

A powerful message

From you to me

On my birthday.




Oh what a surprise

I could never surmise




At thirty-four

And never before

To my door

A flower had I.




The flower may not last

But the memory will never pass

The fragrance will never be lost

As on that December day

You took away the frost.




Oh the power

Of that flower

From me to you

Thank you.


(Next - 'The General', by Brendan Walsh.)






PERCEPTIONS...

"We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all." - So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for 'Northern Ireland', last July in 'The London Evening Standard' newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from 'Iris' magazine, Easter 1991. ('1169' comment : *'August' as in ' dignified and impressive'? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway...)

We do not totally annihilate our political opponents, therefore we cannot adequately comprehend or defend ourselves against the totalitarian callousness of their 'real politik' since it breaks our unwritten codes of behaviour.

To them, our small, quickmoving , falsely jolly politicians with their undeviating lack of steadfast resolve, have more in common with Italian businessmen or Levantine street-sellers than with the grave dignified men of affairs they perceive themselves to be.

We do not have their assured possession of superb self-confidence. We never approached their conviction of moral superiority. We are socially a little unsure of ourselves but we get on well with them at an effective rather than at an intellectual level. We fall too easily into the old master-servant pattern of behaviour which is the historic English-Irish mode of relations... (MORE LATER).






GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

"HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS...?".

Nobody I knew up until I got the scallions would even admit to eating Champ but now they were champing at the bit to get eating it.

The next day started like any other day but a feeling of optimism swamped the cage. The potatoes were peeled and the scallions were prepared. A rumour was circulated that Cage 10 had sometime during the night redirected their tunnel by 240 degrees in the direction of Cage 11 in an effort to tunnel into our cage while we slept and steal the scallions. Gangs of men armed with iron bed-ends roamed Cage 11 waiting for one sign of infiltrators, but no one showed up.

Finally, the Champ was ready. My comrades customised their portion with their own preferred selected goodies - there was Champ l'Orange, Fillet de Champ, Ulster Fry Champ, Fish n' Champ, Bangers and Champ, Champ Madras and Curried Champ with Black Bean Sauce.

Over the coming weeks and months we grew to hate the stuff! But we all agreed that, on that particular balmy Sunday in Long Kesh, it was one of the most civilised meals we ever had. Except for the fights that broke out over the extra portions!

[END OF "HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS...?" : next - 'Self-Inflicted Injuries'.]





ON THIS DATE (28TH JUNE) 219 YEARS AGO - 'UNITED IRISHMEN' LEADER EXECUTED BY THE BRITISH.

'Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey was captured within a few weeks by the British and was 'tried', convicted and hanged on the 28th June 1798 (219 years ago, on this date) at the bridge of Wexford. His body was then beheaded, the torso thrown into the River Slaney and his head displayed on a spike at the courthouse in Wexford town....' - from a piece we wrote here on the 31st May last, as it was on that date (31st May) that the 'United Irishman' in question, Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey, '..was appointed by the approximate four-thousand strong rebel army in that area (Wexford) as their Commander-in-Chief..' (from here.)

We won't re-post the whole piece, as it's only five weeks ago that we first posted it on this blog but, having said that, we couldn't let the date pass without referencing its relevance to the man, and drawing your attention to this article, from the 'Library Ireland' website : 'Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey (was) an estated gentleman of about £3,000 a year, in the County of Wexford, a barrister, and commander of the Wexford insurgents in 1798. He was born about 1762, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, studied at the Middle Temple, and was called to the Bar in 1782. Before the insurrection of 1798 he "was in tolerable practice as a barrister, and was extremely popular with all parties. He was high-spirited, kind-hearted, and good-tempered, fond of society, given to hospitality, and especially esteemed for his humane and charitable disposition towards the poor."

He resided at Bargy Castle, and when the insurgents took the field in May 1798, in the north of the county, Harvey, with his friends Colclough and FitzGerald, was immediately imprisoned in Wexford on suspicion. After the defeat of the royalists at the Three Rocks, Wexford was evacuated by the small garrison that remained, and the prisoners were on 30th May released by the inhabitants, who implored Harvey to intercede with the insurgents for the safety of the town. This he did, and upon its being occupied by the insurgents he was appointed Commander-in-chief...' (from here.)

Farewell to Bargy’s lofty towers, my father’s own estate

And farewell to its lovely bowers, my own ancestral seat

Farewell each friend and neighbour, that once I well knew there

My tenants now will miss the hand that fostered them with care.




Farewell to Cornelius Grogan, and to Kelly ever true

John Coakley and good Father Roche, receive my last adieu

And fare-thee-well bold Esmond Kyan, though proud oppression’s laws

Forbid us to lay down our lives, still we bless the holy cause.




Farewell my brave United men, who dearly with me fought

Though tyrant might has conquered right, full dearly was it bought

And when the sun of freedom shall again upon you shine

Oh, then let Bagenal Harvey’s name array your battle line.




Although perchance it may be my fate, in Wexford town to die

Oh, bear my body to the tomb wherin my fathers lie

And have the solemn service read, in Mayglass holy towers

And have twelve young maids from Bargyside, to scatter my grave with flowers.




So farewell to Bargy’s lofty towers, since from you I must part

A stranger now may call you his, which with sorrow fills my heart

But when at last fate shall decree that Ireland should be free

Then Bagenal Harvey’s rightful heirs shall be returned to thee.


Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey 1762 - 1798.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, June 21, 2017

THE 'MOLLY MAGUIRES' AND 'THE DAY OF THE ROPE'.

ON THIS DATE (21ST JUNE) 44 YEARS AGO : "FASCIST MURDER SQUAD" STRIKE AGAIN.

"The Belfast Brigade denied any involvement in the murder of the young protestant whose body was found in the Lower Falls area. They say that it is likely that he was the victim of the local fascist murder squad who were responsible for two murders of catholic boys in the Giants Ring area" - from the 'Republican News' newspaper, June 1973.

Of all the bombings, atrocities, tortures and killings that have unfortunately being visited and imposed on this country by Westminster due to their unwanted military and political presence here, the shooting dead of David Walker is one of the worst : this special needs sixteen-year-old boy was lifted off the street by the 'Official IRA', apparently as a 'dare', at about 8.30am on Thursday, 21st June 1973 - 44 years ago on this date - as he was working in his job. He was found about three hours later on the Falls Road with gunshot wounds to his head and chest. He died a few minutes after he had been found.

'David Walker, 16-year-old Protestant civilian was found at O'Neill Street in the lower Falls area where he was shot and left by the Official IRA..(he) was described as being educationally subnormal and had a job in the Belvoir area of south Belfast near his home at Castlecoole Park...as (he) was working, the Official IRA abducted him and took him to the west of the city where they shot him. Joseph Cunningham, Senator Paddy Wilson, and Irene Andrews were later killed by the UDA/UFF in retaliation for young David's death. The man jailed for David Walker's killing said in a statement that he thought David was a member of the UFF. He said he had been approached by a man in Leeson Street who asked him if he was "man enough to shoot a member of the UFF murder gang". The man said: "I said I would do it if there was proof that he was killing innocent Catholics. I asked for proof and he said Walker was involved in the murder of Danny Rouse". The judge said that David Walker's murder was "a horrible and unjustified murder.." ' (from here.)

It may well be forty-four years since that barbarous act, but the political conditions for deeds like it are still in place - and it would still suit those in power in Westminster to have 'the wild Irish' killing themselves, allowing the British - the 'man in Leeson Street' - to continue to present themselves as being in Ireland 'to keep the warring factions apart'. The only workable solution is that of a British political and military withdrawal from Ireland.





PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

THE EYES OF THE BARD CAN BE HARD. (By Greg Tarrand.)

If you put a bard in a prison yard

would he tell of the noise and the chatter

or maybe the rain

and the way it might clatter?




Would he paint a good picture

and make it all seem well

and not tell

about the fear and the smell?




Would he say it was nice

and not think twice

would he tell of the mice

and the dirty old lice?




would he tell of the morning

when there was a fight with the warden

or would he be sly

and turn a blind eye?




If he seen you cry

he'd probably say you were full of joy

I wonder why the bard has to lie?

Maybe that's his only ply

To make people sigh.




Maybe people will only listen to him if they enjoy

so he tells about the best of us

to placate the rest of us

he probably sees this way

so he can live day to day

and maybe earn extra pay.




That's probably why he distorts the truth

'cause nobody would give a hoot

and he would be without his loot

forgetting not the talent he's got

is why he doesn't give away a lot.




The bard can't live singing sorrow as his jibe

but if you look in his eyes

you'll see his disguise

but we know

what he sings is for show.




So if he lies to bring people joy

rather than make them cry

well, so he should

'cause his song is good.




He makes people light-hearted

even the obdurate warm to his charm

as they're wise enough

to know there's no harm

with wine and song they get along

and through the bard they're not that hard.


(Next - 'Scent Of Fragrance', by Greg Tarrand.)






PERCEPTIONS.

"We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all." - So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for 'Northern Ireland', last July in 'The London Evening Standard' newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from 'Iris' magazine, Easter 1991. ('1169' comment : *'August' as in ' dignified and impressive'? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway...)

Since the Irish and the English see the world from completely different planes of being, it is of interest to examine how, after all this conflict, one side views the other : "Fundamentally they do not very much respect us, we carry in our bearing, in our eager efforts to please, too much of the humility of the one time native. It is there in our sudden gushes of talk, in our sideways glances, in our constant lack of urbanity," as Elizabeth Bowen said, we are "florid, vain, quick to guilt and sentimentality." We disregard things important in their civilisation ; like pride in their army and navy. We lack periods of silence, good breeding and restraint. We speak a rapid, almost foreign, type of English, like Indians - "a brogue", they call it.

Unlike the Scots and the Welsh, we have constantly wanted to stay out of their hegemony. We have nearly always been regarded as "a damned nuisance". We exasperate them by our sense of history ; in no other place has the population been in such constant rebellion against their impartial benevolent rule, and we will not let them forget it. Duplicity, fear and evasion are all at work in our mutual relations - the glissades of unsettled historical conflict and of unspeakable present happenings cause undercurrents at the most staid and informal of our encounters.

They find us unpredictable, we find them stiff. We can offend them by our most commonplace utterances on, say, World War II or the Malvinas War and they offend us likewise, since they do not understand or practise our unspoken, unacknowledged but very real concept of 'face'... (MORE LATER).






ON THIS DATE (21ST JUNE) 140 YEARS AGO : 'THE DAY OF THE ROPE'.

'On 21st June 1877, in the anthracite-mining county of Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, ten Irish immigrant men alleged to have been members of an oath-bound secret sect of vigilantes called the 'Molly Maguires' were hanged in what came to be known as 'The Day of the Rope'. Twenty members of the group in all would be executed, following a kangaroo court that American historian John Elliot called "one of the most disgraceful episodes in the history of the bench and bar in the United States." Oppression, exploitation, racial and ethnic bigotry, strikes and union-busting are common enough themes in the American labour movement, but the story of the 'Molly Maguires' and the ruling class's attempts to destroy these Irish workers is so especially contemptible it has achieved legendary status....' (from here.)

On what became known as 'Black Thursday' (21st June, 1877), ten coal miners were hanged until dead in eastern Pennsylvania ; all ten had been born in Ireland but were forced to leave because of An Gorta Mór. It was claimed that they, and others, were involved in 'organised retributions' against corrupt and unfair employers and other members of the establishment, and operated as such under the name 'Molly Maguires' (Molly Maguire had become famous in Ireland [or 'infamous', as the 'landlord' class described her] for refusing to bow down or bend the knee to them).

The workers had been arrested for their alleged part in several killings and, despite much doubt cast over the 'evidence' used against them, they were convicted and sentenced to death. The court case was widely seen as employers drawing 'a line in the sand' in regards to what they considered to be 'uppity' workers looking for better wages and conditions, and an excuse for the establishment to vent its anti-labour and anti-Irish prejudice - 'The first trials began in January 1876. They involved 10 men accused of murder and were held in Mauch Chunk (an Indian name meaning 'Bear Mountain') and Pottsville. A vast army of media descended on the small towns where they wrote dispatches that were uniformly pro-prosecution. The key witness for the prosecution was yet another Irishman, James McParlan. Back in the early 1870's, when Gowen had hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to spy on his workers, McParlan had gone under cover to infiltrate the Mollies and gather evidence. And gather he did — or at least he claimed he did during the trials. On the stand he painted a vivid picture of 'Molly Maguire' secrecy, conspiracy and murder. With Irish catholics and miners excluded from the juries, the verdicts were a foregone conclusion.

The scene in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, 21st June 1877 - 140 years ago, on this date - as alleged members of the 'Molly Maguires' were taken to the scaffold.

All 10 were convicted and sentenced to hang. No doubt seeking to send the most powerful message to the region's mining communities, authorities arranged to stage the executions on the same day — June 21st, 1877 – in two locations. Alexander Campbell, Michael Doyle, Edward Kelly, and John Donahue were hanged in Mauch Chuck (where the four men "all swung together") , while James Boyle, Hugh McGehan, James Carroll, James Roarity, Thomas Duffy, and Thomas Munley met a similar fate in Pottsville (where all six "swung two-by-two"). Although the hangings took place behind prison walls, they were nonetheless major spectacles that drew huge crowds and generated international news coverage..' (from here).

It was reported that there was "..screams and sobbing as husbands and fathers were bid goodbye.." and that "..James Boyle carried a blood-red rose and Hugh McGehan wore two roses in his lapel (as) James Carroll and James Roarity declared their innocence from the scaffold.."

Over the following two years, ten more alleged members of the 'Molly Maguires' were hanged, including Thomas P. Fisher (on the 28th March 1878) and James McDonnell and Charlie Sharp (on the 14th January 1879). In 1979, the state of Pennsylvania pardoned one of the men, John 'Black Jack' Kehoe, after an investigation by its 'Board of Pardons' at the behest of one of his descendants (incidentally, Seán Connery played the part of John Kehoe in the film 'The Molly Maguires') and, on the 5th December 2005, the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives passed a resolution recognising the lack of due process for several of the men.

Make way for the Molly Maguires

They're drinkers, they're liars but they're men

Make way for the Molly Maguires

You'll never see the likes of them again.



Down the mines no sunlight shines

Those pits they're black as hell

In modest style they do their time

It's Paddy's prison cell

And they curse the day they've travelled far

Then drown their tears with a jar.



So make way for the Molly Maguires

They're drinkers, they're liars but they're men

Make way for the Molly Maguires

You'll never see the likes of them again.



Backs will break and muscles ache

Down there there's no time to dream

Of fields and farms, of womans arms

Just dig that bloody seam

Though they drain their bodies underground

Who'll dare to push them around.



So make way for the Molly Maguires

They're drinkers, they're liars but they're men

Make way for the Molly Maguires

You'll never see the likes of them again.



So make way for the Molly Maguires

They're drinkers, they're liars but they're men

Make way for the Molly Maguires

You'll never see the likes of them again.








GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

"HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS...?".

We carried the containers into the canteen as he drove off and I gave him a nod to indicate my thanks for the bounty I was soon to receive. The bunch of scallions was enormous - there was plenty for everyone, and tons for me. My colleagues on the Canteen Staff started dishing out the suppers - we had earlier decided to keep the scallions for Sunday dinner.

Some big mouth in the Cage let the cat out of the bag that we had scallions, and the tobacco tins were flying into Cage 11 from all directions, all carrying the same message : 'Can we have some scallions?' They tried every device to get their hands on our windfall but to no avail. Old favours were called in, family ties and threats of physical violence. I personally was offered a huge sirloin steak for a plate of Champ - but you could pick up sirloin almost anywhere, but not so with scallions.

I offered to get some scallions for them the following week but that offer was thrown back in my face : 'We want Champ and we want it NOW!' They tried to entice us with cigarettes, tobacco, poteen and places in their tunnels. I know for a fact that if these men had been outside and their mothers had put Champ down in front of them for dinner, they would have said no to it and then wrecked the house. Champ in our area was very much an end of week supper just before the weekend when the housekeeping money was low... (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, June 07, 2017

"WE REQUIRE MASSIVE POLITICAL AND STRUCTURAL CHANGE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER..."

ON THIS DATE (7TH JUNE) 96 YEARS AGO : TWO IRA MEN EXECUTED BY WESTMINSTER.

Patrick Maher (left), executed by the British on the 7th of June 1921 - 96 years ago on this date.
Ned Foley, executed by the British on the 7th of June 1921.

"Fight on, struggle on, for the honour, glory and freedom of dear old Ireland. Our hearts go out to all our dear old friends. Our souls go to God at 7 o'clock in the morning and our bodies, when Ireland is free, shall go to Galbally. Our blood shall not be shed in vain for Ireland, and we have a strong presentiment, going to our God, that Ireland will soon be free and we gladly give our lives that a smile may brighten the face of 'Dear Dark Rosaleen'. Farewell! Farewell! Farewell!" - the last words of Limerick (Ballylanders) IRA man Patrick Maher, 32 years of age, to his comrades.

Patrick Maher and his comrade Ned Foley were hanged in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin by Westminster on Tuesday 7th June 1921 - 96 years ago on this date - for their 'involvement' in the rescue of Tipperary IRA man Seán Hogan ; Patrick Maher, who worked as a clerk at Knocklong railway station and was about three miles from the scene of the rescue when it happened, was not involved in that operation. The two men were charged with the 'murder' of two RIC men (Peter Wallace and Michael Enright): - Patrick Maher strongly protested his innocence but, even though two juries failed to reach a verdict, he was convicted (by a military court martial) and sentenced to death. He was one of 'The Forgotten Ten' IRA Volunteers (Kevin Barry, Patrick Moran, Frank Flood, Thomas Whelan, Thomas Traynor, Patrick Doyle, Thomas Bryan, Bernard Ryan, Edmond (Ned) Foley, and Patrick Maher) - Kevin Barry was executed in 1920 by the British and the other nine men were put to death in 1921. All ten were buried in the grounds of Mountjoy Jail in Dublin, where six of them were placed in the same grave.

John Ellis, the British hangman hired to execute Maher and Foley, had 'proved his worth' to Westminster by previously carrying out other 'jobs' in Ireland for that institution - he and his assistant, Bill Willis, had listed in their bloody CV the names of Roger Casement and Kevin Barry. The most poignant appeal for clemency was made by Edward Wallace, the father of RIC Sergeant Peter Wallace, who wrote to the Commander in Chief of British forces in Ireland, Sir Nevil Macready - "The tragedy will pass heavily on me during the remaining years of my life, if any lives are sacrificed on account of my son's death. My son and daughter join with me in imploring you to be clement and merciful to those who have been tried in connection with the tragedy. May God forgive those who were really guilty. I do." Thousands of people had gathered outside Mountjoy Jail in Dublin in protest against the executions, but to no avail (it should be noted that at the time, Munster and a small part of Leinster were under British 'martial law' and those executed there were shot as soldiers, but Dublin was under civilian law and that is why those executed in Mountjoy were hanged).

On Sunday, 14th October 2001, nine of those men were reinterred in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin by representatives of a 26-county state in an 'official' ceremony and, on Friday 19th October 2001 this state made the final arrangements to do the same for the tenth man, Patrick Maher, who was reburied in his home parish of Glenbrohane in Limerick (at the request of his family) on Saturday, 20th October 2001. Both reinterments were carried out by a state which none of the ten men were fighting for - a 26-county free state - as the objective of the republican campaign - then (1920/1921) and now (2017)- was and is for a free Ireland, not a partially-free Ireland. And, to add insult to injury, the then Free State 'minister for justice', John O'Donoghue, was the 'official figurehead' present, on both occasions, during which he delivered the graveside orations. Irish republicans are looking forward to the day when those moral and political misappropriations can be corrected.





PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

IN MY HEART. (By Keith Sinnot.)

I've been alone some time now

it's seven years in all,

I miss my Mum and family

God I miss them all.




I hear their laughter every day

it soothes me when I'm mad,

memories of when we were one

lift me when I'm sad.




Forever I will love you all

but forever is not long enough

for the love I must repay.




And I carry with me in my heart

the times we laughed and wept

and I carry with me in my heart

your love, in all its depth

no matter what life deals to me

my love for you remains.




I love it when we laughed and played

and when we sung a song,

although alone and far away

in my heart you will always stay.


(Next - 'The Eyes Of The Bard Can Be Hard', by Greg Tarrand.)






RICOCHETS OF HISTORY...

At the end of a year in which *IRA decommissioning has been met with widespread euphoria, Phil Mac Giolla Bháin takes a stubborn look at the facts and concludes that the celebration party may be a little premature. From the 'Magill Annual 2002' (*PIRA).

The same Belfast dynamics which tore up Cathal Goulding's blueprint for proletarian revolution might well yet undo the best laid plans of conflict resolution dating back to Hume/Adams. The key concept - that nationalists can sit anywhere on the equality bus and that they have a right to express their will to steer the bus in the direction of a 32-county state - still gets the lynch mobs out in Belfast and Portadown.

The pipe-bombing pogrom in the narrow-minded streets around Glenbryn is driven by this belief system. They are the rough trade of this worldview, but the ideas exist also in more genteel quarters. Having a leader of unionism who thinks that Sinn Féin ministers need 'house training' shows that the colonialist mindset is alive and well on the Stormont veranda.

Put it all together - the pipe bombings, the melting possibility of a united Ireland, the massive leap of faith which may or may not pay off, the ingrained culture of carrying arms - and it is still time to tread carefully.

(END of 'Ricochets of History'. NEXT - 'Perceptions', by Cliodna Cussen, from 1991).






GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

"HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS...?".

My friend went on to tell me about how contraband was the currency of the crims and how everything had a price, especially cigarettes. I asked him if he needed any fags or tobacco and if he did, not to hesitate to ask myself or one of my cage-mates for whatever he needed. "If there's anything that I can do for you, let me know," he said in reply, which made me think - I remembered that my friend worked in the prison kitchens.

That fact on its own meant nothing, but it made me think of the exotic foodstuffs at his disposal. Like scallions. "Here, see if you can get me any scallions." "Scallions?" he said,"Of all the stuff I can lay my hands on, why settle for scallions?", he asked. "With scallions you can make Champ," I drooled. "Jesus, Champ..." ,he said, "..I haven't tasted Champ in months!" "And we haven't tasted Champ in years..", I replied. "Right," he said, "if it's scallions you want, it's scallions you'll get."

At suppertime that night, the lorry approached the gate of Cage 11, and I could see my friend peering around the side of it. He winked at me, and I took this to mean that he had got the scallions and I was delighted. He lifted a container off the back of the lorry, taking great pains to show me which one held the exotic contraband... (MORE LATER).






ON THIS DATE (7TH JUNE) FOUR YEARS AGO : A PERSONAL REFLECTION.

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh (far left, and his funeral service, above), pictured in 1954 : from this blog, June 2013 - 'Funeral arrangements : Reposing at Smyth's Funeral Home, Roscommon, on Friday 7th June 2013, from 5.30pm to 8.00pm, followed by Removal to the Sacred Heart Church. Requiem Mass on Saturday at 11.30am with Burial afterwards in St. Coman's Cemetery. Family Flowers only. House private Saturday morning. Donations, if desired, to CABHAIR (Irish Republican Prisoners’ Dependants Fund), 223 Parnell St, Dublin 1 and to the Roscommon-Mayo Hospice.'

'Born in Longford in 1932 to a republican family, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh studied at UCD where he gained a degree in commerce. During his time at UCD he became involved with Sinn Féin and joined the IRA, of which his father had also been a member. Although by profession a teacher, Ruairí spent most Of his time as a training Officer for the IRA and in 1954 was appointed to the Military Council Of the IRA, eventually being IRA Chief Of Staff until 1962. He was elected as Sinn Féin TD in the Longford – Westmeath constituency in 1957. In 1970 Ruairí Ó Brádaigh led the walkout from the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis after the majority voted in favour of the abolition Of Sinn Féin's policy of abstention. He became President of Provisional Sinn Féin which he held until his resignation in 1983. In 1986, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh again led a walk out, this time from the Provisional Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, when they voted to drop the abstention policy. He and several supporters established Republican Sinn Féin..' (from here.)

"In the coming year we must present to the whole Irish people our framework of a federation of the four provinces of Ireland - in a post British withdrawal situation - with maximum devolution of power and decision-making to local level, with the complete separation of church and state and the building of a pluralist society and with neutrality and non-alignment in foreign affairs as the best hope for all the people of this island...this requires massive political and structural change on both sides of the border in order that all of us may escape from the political strait-jacket North and South designed for us in the Westminster parliament and imposed on us by the English ruling class to our detriment. Such a solution remains our only hope of growing and developing naturally as a people and enjoying our cultural heritage. God speed the day...!" - Aitheasc an Uachtaráin Ruairí Ó Brádaigh don 85ú Ard-Fheis de Shinn Féin in Óstlann an Spa, Leamhcán, Co. Atha Cliath, 21ú agus 22ú Deireadh Fómhair, 1989 (Presidential Address of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh to the 85th Ard Fheis of Sinn Féin in the Spa Hotel, Lucan, County Dublin, 21st and 22nd October 1989). And I still go looking for him at the Ard Fheis ; I miss him. But, thankfully, that which he stood for and represented is still here.





ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (WEDNESDAY 14TH JUNE 2017)...

..we should be just about finished one of our multitasking jobs - this Sunday coming (the 11th June) will find me and the raffle team in our usual monthly venue on the Dublin/Kildare border, running a 650-ticket raffle for the Cabhair group; the work for this event began yesterday, Tuesday 6th June, when the five of us started to track down the ticket sellers and arrange for the delivery/collection of their ticket stubs and cash and, even though the raffle itself is, as stated, held on Sunday 11th June, 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 week (14th June) and it's looking like it will be between that date and the Wednesday following same before we get the time to put a post together. But check back here anyway - sure you never know what might catch our fancy between this and then, time permitting!

Our second multitasking job, which we have assisted with but won't be there in person for, is the annual Wolfe Tone commemoration in Bodenstown which, unfortunately, clashes with the raffle. And, as talented (!) as we are, we actually can't be in two places at the one time, but we hope that Peter and the behind-the-scenes crew can struggle on without us and the weather holds for all concerned (even though we'll be in a nice, dry, warm hotel!). And, as arranged, we'll meet-up in the raffle hotel afterwards and have a chat about how both gigs went. And maybe share a pint (of cider) or two...!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, May 31, 2017

THE 'REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT' AND "THE VENEER OF A SETTLEMENT".

ON THIS DATE (31ST MAY) 5 YEARS AGO : A MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR PAYBACK!

On (Thursday) the 31st May 2012 - 5 years ago on this date - a vote was held in this State to decide whether to support or not to support a European treaty in relation to fiscal rules which would limit State spending by the Leinster House administration, placing those limitations into State law. At the time, the Euro currency was in trouble ("the most serious financial crisis at least since the 1930's, if not ever..") and the quickest way for the political and financial 'bosses' to stabilise it (and, by extension, their own profits) was to take more of it from the 'ordinary joe' throughout the EU, by instructing local politicians to cut back on their share of the 'cake'. But, as expected, when those 'captains of industry' were raking it in during the cyclical 'boom times', they were quite happy to leave us little people to our own devices, sink or swim.

At the time, we stated - 'This Treaty is about trying to shore-up a failed currency - the Euro. In this State, that failure is compounded by the activities of the gangster politicians, property speculators and bankers who, although already wealthy and financially comfortable, wanted more and, because they move in the same 'circles', closed ranks to protect each other's backs as their joint efforts bankrupted the State. Those who still have jobs, and those who have lost them, are now being penalised for the mistakes and the outright greed of that 'elite'... (from here.) Unfortunately, more of those that voted went with the establishment and the good guys lost, prompting the following from us -

'I don't write this post as a sore loser, or a begrudger or because I'm in a vindictive mood (well..no more than usual, anyway!) but rather as someone who has seen the same mistake being made over and over again and, despite repeated warnings to the victim, as someone who has recently witnessed the same again : scare tactics and a pro-administration and business-friendly media manipulated enough victims into the path of the cushion-covered snare it had hidden in the undergrowth and obtained the result that their employers in the IMF and the EU ordered : a 'YES' vote for more austerity for the unemployed and the low paid, to secure the continued comforts of the 'protected class' ie the politicians themselves and their 'friends’' ('interests', rather..) in the banking and property-speculating industries.

Although over three million people (3,144,828) in this State were entitled to vote on the 'Austerity Treaty', only slightly more than one-and-a-half million (1,584,179) of those actually did so and, of that latter figure, 955,091 voted for more 'austerity' (after being told by the 'Establishment', among other frightening lies, that the ATM's would soon be cashless!) whilst 629,088 voted 'NO'..'


The 'Yes' vote was signed into FS law by the Free State President, Michael D. Higgins, on 27th June 2012 but, five years after the fact, the Euro currency is still in trouble, the 'cops' (who are as 'careless' now as they have been in the past..), like the State that employs them and gives them succor, are bent but are still sometimes the only point of rescue for those that the State would rather forget while those that the decent among us would rather forget are allowed free reign. And neither Brussels or Leinster House will do anything - except probosculate about it, occasionally - because the careerists in those institutions would be making headlines like that themselves were it not for the fact that they are placed in positions where they can cover for each other.





PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.

First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.

THE SERPENT. (By Cian Sharkhin.)

Sliding through the swaying Savannah

his presence is scarcely felt.

Satan's sacred servant

is slinking through the veldt.

A glint, a gleam and shimmering sheen,

his form so lithe and svelte.




Skulking in the Savannah

that swaddles the Swaziland,

he stops and smiles, his simpering smile,

whilst striking the serpents stand.

He sighs a lisp, a sibilant lisp,

sensing his prey at hand.




The rummaging rat came rooting,

sniffing, twitching, snooting, snouting.

Rustling, bustling through the brush,

its presence it was-a-flouting.

Without a care and unaware

it was on its last outing.




The reptilian gin whips it in

with swishing slash and scything.

A squeal, a squeak and piercing shriek,

in tightening tendrils writhing.

A twist, a quirk and spasmodic jerk,

the resistance is now subsiding.




Swallowing the prey, he slithers away,

never lauded as heroic.

That wry simpering smile,

so merciless and stoic.

A projection of our darkside,

so complexly metaphoric.


(Next - 'In My Heart', by Keith Sinnott.)






ON THIS DATE (31ST MAY) 219 YEARS AGO : 'UNITED IRISHMEN' LEADER ELECTED.

Farewell my brave United men,

who dearly with me fought,

though tyrant might has conquered right,

full dearly was it bought.

And when the sun of freedom

shall again upon you shine,

oh, then let Bagenal Harvey’s name array your battle line...'


Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey was born in Wexford in 1762, into a fairly well-off (Protestant) family, and was educated at Trinity College in Dublin (his father was a senior civil servant). Beauchamp, by now a barrister, was an outspoken supporter of Catholic emancipation and, at 30 years of age, joined the 'Dublin Society of United Irishmen'. In that same year (1792) his father died, leaving him property in Wexford and Waterford, which yielded an annual rental of £3,000.

Harvey was arrested by the British in late May 1798 and was imprisoned in Wexford Jail but the prison was forcibly taken over a few days later by the United Irishmen and he was set free. On the 31st of that month - 219 years ago on this date - he was appointed by the approximate four-thousand strong rebel army in that area as their Commander-in-Chief. He gathered his forces and headed for the walled-town of New Ross, intending to set up camp there - they set up a temporary base at Three Rock, just outside Wexford Town, and spent about three days there, drilling and learning basic military manoeuvres. From New Ross they intended to march on Kilkenny, where they could recruit more fighters. On the 5th June 1798, Harvey sent a despatch rider into New Ross with an instruction to the British general in charge (Johnson) demanding the surrender of the town 'to avert rapine and bloodshed' but the messenger was killed by Johnson's yeomanry. The Irish, numbering approximately four-thousand strong, attacked New Ross and won the fight, and the town, only to lose it when the British re-grouped and drove them out. However, within hours the Irish had themselves re-grouped and were ready for another attack.

The rebel leaders - Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey, Thomas Cloney, Father Philip Roche and John Kelly - led their army into New Ross again and scattered the British but failed to properly secure the town ; the British again re-grouped, attacked and, for the second time, put the Irish to flight. Feeling that a final victory was within their grasp, the United Irishmen assembled for another push - the third such attack. They divided into three groups, two of which - each consisting of hundreds of rebels - were dispatched towards Wicklow, to confuse the enemy, while the third contingent, consisting of about three-thousand men and women, headed for New Ross again. The two 'Wicklow' groups put up a fierce struggle against professional British Yeomanry, but were eventually forced to scatter, leaving hundreds of fellow rebels dead or dying. By this time, the largest group (under Harvey) had reached Carrickbyrne Hill, about two-hours march from New Ross ; on their journey from Three Rock to Carrickbyrne Hill they had encountered and defeated armed British contingents and Harvey decided they should set-up base at the Hill and teach the rebel army how to use the captured pieces of artillery which they had taken from the British forces they had met along the way.

After a few days in training, the rebel army were judged to be ready to be moved to the next 'camp', Corbett Hill - the last such stop before they would reach the town of New Ross, and from where they could look down on the town. They knew that there was about three or four-thousand enemy soldiers in New Ross, commanded by a General Johnson and a 'Lord' Mountjoy, the latter in charge of an enemy Brigade from Dublin. Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey wanted to take the town without bloodshed, if possible, and sent a number of his men, under a flag of truce, to let the British know that he was willing to accept their surrender and take prisoners. The British shot the truce party dead. A battle that was to last thirteen hours was about to begin.

The rebels gathered a huge herd of cattle and stampeded the animals towards the town, following immediately behind the terrified beasts. The British outposts fell, and the Irish fought their way into the middle of New Ross , meeting strong resistance - the enemy retreated, re-grouped and, once more, succeeded in forcing the United Irishmen out of the town. Some of the rebel army were reluctant to lose the ground they had gained, and had to be practically dragged away by their own comrades ; one such rebel was Mary Doyle, who ran from body to body of dead and dying enemy soldiers, finishing them off or just making sure they were dead before removing their ammunition belts and weapons which she then distributed to her own side! -

'By 1798 the wearing of the colour green was forbidden by order of the English government, but this order was defied by the women, especially in Wexford. The women of Wexford had their petticoats, handkerchiefs, cap ribbons and all parts of their dress that exhibited a shade of green, torn off and were subjected to the most vile and indecent language by the Yeomen. Any women who encountered the government troops ran a most terrible risk. In a desperate encounter with a Hessian Captain, Anne Ford of Garrysackle, County Wexford, slew him with a mallet. Peg Kavanagh was one of many women who conveyed despatches and food to Michael Dwyer and Joseph Hall in their hiding place in the Wicklow Mountains. Susan O'Toole, the blacksmith's daughter of Annamore, carried ammunition and provisions to the insurgent chiefs for many a long year. Joseph Hall used to call Susan O'Toole his "moving magazine". William Rooney has immortalised the memory of Mary Doyle, a fearless Wexford insurgent :

But a figure rose before us,

Twas a girl's fragile frame

And among the fallen soldiers

There she walked with eyes aflame,

And her voice rang o'er the sea :


"Who so dares to die for Ireland

Let him come and follow me!"
' (more here.)

It was during that retreat that Mary Doyle was said to have climbed on to a British cannon and vowed to stay with the gun regardless of what happened - her own comrades could only get her to safety by wheeling the weapon out of the town, with Mary Doyle said to be sitting on the barrel of it! The town of New Ross was now on fire, with buildings crumbling and hundreds of bodies strewn around ; one of the leaders of the United Irishmen, John Kelly (from Killane), assembled the remnants of the rebel army for one last push, which he led. It was in that last attack that Kelly was badly wounded and Mary Doyle was killed by one of the many fires which now consumed the town. Both sides were by now exhausted. One of the surviving United Irishmen, Thomas Cloney, described the last battle as a free-for-all "with two confused masses of men struggling alternatively to drive the other back by force alone." For the third time in 13 hours, the Irish rebels were forced out of their own town - they had lost the battle. The British 'Lord', Mountjoy', who was in command of a British force from Dublin, was killed during the fight. Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey was captured within a few weeks by the British and was 'tried', convicted and hanged on the 28th June 1798 at the bridge of Wexford. His body was then beheaded, the torso thrown into the River Slaney and his head displayed on a spike at the courthouse in Wexford town.

The British no longer 'behead and spike' their enemy anymore (at least not in Ireland) but they continue to make enemies of the calibre of the Harvey's and Mary Doyle's of this world and will continue to do so until they realise that their 'days of empire' are over.





RICOCHETS OF HISTORY...

At the end of a year in which *IRA decommissioning has been met with widespread euphoria, Phil Mac Giolla Bháin takes a stubborn look at the facts and concludes that the celebration party may be a little premature. From the 'Magill Annual 2002' (*PIRA).

Had there truly been a pan-nationalist front, the Sinn Féin leadership would never have found itself in a situation of having to approach the IRA to ask them to destroy weaponry under the gaze of a British proxy. The present departure is, partly, a leap of faith by the republican leadership (sic - the author was referring to the leadership of the Provisional grouping) in the goodwill of Blair and the British government. Partly, too, it has occurred because this was the only tactical option open to republican leaders in a situation that had been constructed to corner them ('1169' comment : what nonsense! That leadership willingly walked into a political cul-de-sac, feigned surprise that it actually was a cul-de-sac, and then attempted to blame those who pointed them in the direction of that cul-de-sac!).

The narrow-minded streets of Glenbryn may yet remove the veneer of a settlement. In some ways it is already business as usual in the Alabama of the North, with pipe bombs and burnings on a weekly (and sometimes nightly) basis. If history tells us anything, it tells us that the nice new mission-statemented 'Police Service of Northern Ireland' will look and act remarkably like the 'old' RUC.

What has happened over the past couple of years is that the leadership of the republican movement (sic - the author was referencing 'the PSF leadership'), cut adrift by the Dublin government, had no choice but to consent to unionist demands ('1169' comment - so those the author considered to be 'the leadership of the republican movement' had placed themselves in the political position wherby they were reliant on the backing of a Free State administration? Completely ludicrous to suggest that any republican would do that. A (constitutional) nationalist would, but not a republican..). No amount of 'strategic thinking' by the republican base will get away from that central reality... (MORE LATER).






GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.

His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!

"HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS?".

It was Saturday afternoon in Cage 11, Long Kesh, and most other places as well, I suppose. Anyway, I was out walking around the cage - the crims ('ODC's) were out on the football pitch, as was normal for a Saturday, playing football. I recognised one or two, as I walked around, and waved to them.

The match was getting a bit heated so I stopped to watch for a while. It started to cool down again and wasn't much of a spectacle, so I decided to continue my dander. "Hey, do ya want any drugs?", asked a voice from the other side of the wire on the football pitch. "I'll drugs ya, yea wee bastard ye, if I get my hands on ya...", I shouted. One of the lads on the pitch that I knew came running over to me - "What's wrong, Jim?" , he asked. "That skinny wee bastard there is trying to sell me drugs", I replied.

"Hey you, fuck off", he said to the pusher. "I'm only trying to swap some drugs for cigarettes", the pusher moaned. "He doesn't wany any, so fuck off", was the reply he got from my friend, who was a good republican who, charged with an unscheduled offence, could not qualify for 'Special Category Status'. He explained to me that there was a major drug problem among the young crims and how it was easier to get drugs than cigarettes... (MORE LATER).


Thanks for reading, Sharon.