Wednesday, March 07, 2018



'On March 7th 1921, the IRA's South Mayo Flying Column (pictured), under the command of Tom Maguire, surrounded a British army patrol at Kilfall between Ballinrobe and Castlebar forcing it to surrender and give up their arms. The patrol were then released unharmed. Tom Maguire’s personal account of the engagement is given in the book 'Survivors' by Uinsean MacEoin...

On May 3rd of 1921, Tom Maguire led an ambush party on an RIC patrol in Tournakeady, Co. Mayo during which four RIC men were killed. Following the engagement, Maguire’s flying column made their escape to the Partry Mountains which lie to the west of Lough Mask. They were pursued by a large force of British soldiers and policemen who used an aeroplane to monitor the progress of the column. A number of skirmishes ensued during which Maguire was wounded and his adjutant killed. There is some dispute about the number of British casualties but fokelore has it that they were substantial. The column managed to escape with no further casualties...

Tom Maguire was elected to the Dáil elections of 1921, 1822 and 1923. He took the anti-treaty side in the Civil War and was a member of the anti-treaty IRA executive which commanded the anti-treaty army. He was captured by the National Army and though he was told he was to be executed, his life was spared. However, his younger brother Seán aged 17 was executed in Tuam on 11th April 1923 along with six others. These men are known today as the 'Tuam Martyrs'..' (from here.)

In June 1923 General Maguire escaped from Athlone Barracks and was never re-captured. Along with other surviving faithful members of the Second Dáil - the last All-Ireland parliament - he delegated Executive Authority to the Army Council of the IRA in 1938. In December 1969, he recognised the Provisional Army Council as the legitimate successor to the 1938 body -

"The majority of the delegates at the December 1969 IRA Convention, having passed the resolution referred to above, proceeded to elect an Executive which in turn appointed a new Army Council, committed to implement the resolution. That Convention had neither the right nor the authority to pass such a resolution. Accordingly, I, as the sole surviving member of the Executive of Dáil Éireann and the sole surviving signatory of the 1938 Proclamation, hereby declare that the resolution is illegal and that the alleged Executive and Army Council are illegal, and have no right to claim the allegiance of either soldiers or citizens of the Irish Republic.

The delegates who opposed the resolution, together with delegates from units which were not represented at the Convention, met subsequently in Convention and repudiated the resolution. They re-affirmed their allegiance to the Irish Republic and elected a Provisional Executive which, in turn, appointed a Provisional Army Council. I hereby further declare that the Provisional Executive and the Provisional Army Council are the lawful Executive and Army Council respectively of the IRA* and that the governmental authority delegated in the Proclamation of 1938 now resides in the Provisional Army Council and its lawful successors. I fully endorse their call for support from Irish people everywhere towards the realisation of the full freedom of Ireland.."

Dated the 31st day of December, 1969. Signed : THOMAS MAGUIRE, (Tomas Mac Uidhir) Comdt. General."

NOTE - *Following the 1986 division, Comdt. General Thomas Maguire nominated the Continuity IRA as the legitimate IRA. Tom Maguire is one of the many Irish republican men and women that the Republican Movement was, is and always will be guided by : When the majority of (P)IRA and (P)Sinn Féin decided to abandon abstentionism in the 1969/70 split, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Dáithí Ó Conaill sought and secured Maguire's recognition of the Provisional IRA as the legitimate successor to the 1938 Army Council. Of the seven 1938 signatories, Maguire was the only one still alive. Likewise in the aftermath of the 1986 split in the Republican Movement, Maguire signed a statement in 1986 which was issued posthumously, in 1996 : he conferred this legitimacy on the Army Council of the Continuity IRA (who provided a firing party at Maguire's funeral in 1993 - he was 101 years of age when he died). And he remains an inspiration for Irish republicans to this day.


Robert Bonfield (pictured, left) was born in Youghalarra, Nenagh, County Tipperary in 1903 and was educated by the Christian Brothers at Synge Street, Dublin and, at the age of 17, entered University College, Dublin, to study dentistry, and joined the IRA through contacts in that College. A number of weeks before his death (he was shot dead by Free Staters on the 29th of March 1923) he was arrested at his home by the Staters, but he escaped from their custody (in Portobello Barracks) and went on the run, and remained a free man until his recapture and subsequent 'disappearance'. He was visiting the Seven Churches on Holy Thursday when he was picked up by the Staters (visiting the Seven Churches was a custom in Dublin during that period, when its citizens would visit all seven churches during Holy Week).

After being captured he was dragged towards the Baggot Street corner of Stephen's Green, near the Shelbourne Hotel, and in the direction of both Oriel House and the new CID Headquarters which was just a few hundred yards away on Merrion Square. He was assaulted on several occasions by his escort in full public view and this was the last time he was seen alive ; his body was discovered the following day, Good Friday, by a shepherd at Clondalkin, Dublin - the previous day (Thursday, 29th of March 1923, between 6.30pm and 7pm), a young girl named Bella Brown, who lived near the Red Cow in Clondalkin, heard six shots as she was bringing milk to a neighbour's house. The following day, Friday 30th March 1923, the body of Robert Bonfield was discovered in a field close by - he had been shot several times in the head.

According to testimony given by several witnesses at the inquest there is no doubt that IRA Commandant Bonfield was arrested by members of (Free State) President Cosgrave's personal body guard and later murdered, either by them, or their associate detectives operating out of Oriel House. He was discovered lying on his side at the bottom of a ditch at Dowling's Farm, Newlands Cross - he had been shot a number of times. He was only 20 years of age. His remains were refused admission to his local Parish church in Ranelagh and he was buried in the family plot, St. Paul's section, Glasnevin Cemetery :

'Bonfield was arrested on 07th March 1923 (95 years ago on this date) by a Lieut. Bolger after his house at 103 Moyne Road, Ranelagh was raided and a veritable arsenal (including a Lewis Gun and three revolvers) were seized. He was taken to Portobello Barracks from where he subsequently escaped a couple of nights later. He went to the house of schoolmates of his, Brendan and Kevin Mangan, at Albany Terrace, Ranelagh and had a wash and some food before going on the run. A 'servant girl' who had helped give him the meal probably reported him to the authorities. The following night the Mangan's house was raided by "a group of men in plain clothes accompanied by a man in the uniform of an Army Lieutenant" who were looking for Bonfield. Brendan Mangan was taken to the back garden and interrogated. His parents attempted to intervene and when his mother asked why he was not arrested and charged in the 'proper way', the chilling reply was "We are out to execute, not make arrests".

Mangan's excuses were believed and the group left, which was rather lucky as Bonfield had hidden arms under the floor of the Mangans henhouse and Brendan was aware of this. The Mangans kept the guns hidden for many years and later when the family moved house Brendan transferred the guns to the hen house at their new address. It was only years later when there was an amnesty that his brother Kevin handed in the guns. On the 29th of March 1923, about 2 weeks later, Bonfield was lifted by Cosgraves bodyguard which included Joe McGrath, John O'Reilly (who was either a Colonel, a Commandant or a Superintendent) and an unnamed guard. Two of these men took Commandant Robert 'Bobbie' Bonfield to Clondalkin and shot him...' (from here.)

However, in her book 'Four roads to Dublin: the history of Rathmines, Ranelagh and Leeson Street', Deirdre Kelly came across sources who suggested that the then State 'authorities' believed that a different IRA man had executed Seamus Dwyer - '(IRA man) Frank Lawlor was aware that CID agents were looking for him. He was tracked down to a friends house in Ranelagh and taken from there by the CID. His body was recovered at Milltown Golf Club. Nothing was heard of Lawlor until the 1st of January 1923 when his body was found on Orwell Road...if Frank Lawlor was killed (he was killed by Staters on the 29th December 1922) in revenge for Dwyers death, it appears..that they got the wrong man, as according to IRA officer Séan Dowling it was another man, Bobby Bonfield who shot Dwyer, for which Bonfield was himself assassinated by pro-Treaty forces in March 1923..', and yet another IRA man, Thomas O'Leary, had his name linked by Staters to the Dwyer execution ; both IRA men were shot dead by Leinster House operatives, either because of the whispered 'Dwyer link' or simply due to the fact that they continued to be Irish republicans, unlike those that shot them.

Seamus Dwyer, a member of the Free State political establishment - whether or not he was a member/supporter or leader of the anti-republican CDF organisation, he was a poacher-turned-gamekeeper - was shot dead by the IRA on the 20th December 1922 : on that date, Robert 'Bobby' Bonfield went to James Dwyer's shop at 5 Rathmines Terrace, Dublin, and shot him dead. James (Seamus) Dwyer was once a Sinn Féin and IRA activist but, at the time he was shot, was a pro-Treaty politician. Three months later Bobby Bonfield, 20 years of age, Quarter Master and Acting O/C of the 4th Battalion, 1st Dublin Brigade of the IRA - a known 'anti-Treaty guerrilla'- was killed by Free State forces in revenge for the shooting of Dwyer.


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.


Now the first task for Sinn Féin is propaganda. Recent usage of this word has given people the idea that it means only the use of careful mis-statements and clever falsehoods to deceive people and lead them astray : but it has the other meaning, which is the dissemination of truth to prevent them from going astray.

Thus we see that the Catholic Church has its College of Propaganda, whose duty it is to see that Catholic teachings and ideas are broadcast and false doctrines refuted. In these days of fast communications, radio and television, and mass-produced literature, it is essential that we in Ireland see to it that our people are protected against the wholesale influx of harmful foreign ideas and influences, and that they are constantly reminded of their national duties and obligations.

If we are to resume the struggle with England we must be mindful of how thorough and widespread press censorship can be, and how ruthlessly it can be used against us. Measures must be taken now to counter such a move, and the lessons learned in the past borne in mind.

Propaganda has become one of the major weapons of war and we must use it to the full, being weak in other respects. A well organised network of Sinn Féin Cumainn throughout the 32 counties is the first step.

(Next : 'SPREAD THE PAPER' , from the same source.)


- an image depicting the Free State army detonating a landmine after they had placed nine republican prisoners near it, on the 7th March 1923 - 95 years ago on this date.

On March 6th, 1923, five Free State soldiers, including Captains Michael Dunne and Joseph Stapleton of Dublin Brigade, were killed in Knocknagoshel, Co Kerry, by a booby trap mine. The target of the trap was a local man by the name of Paddy 'Pats' O'Connor who, according to the IRA, was a notorious torturer of prisoners. O'Connor joined the Free State army because of the treatment of his father by the local IRA, involving a dispute over farmland in the Glansaroon, Castleisland area, and a fine issued because of same by the IRA.

The IRA's local commander, Humphrey Murphy, organised for a 'tip off' letter to be sent to the Free Staters, informing them that a stash of republican weapons were hidden in a specific location at Barranarig Wood near the small town of Knocknagoshel, in North Kerry - in her novel, '1921', Morgan Llywelyn gives this account of what occurred : 'A letter in the handwriting of a known local informer had been delivered (to Free State forces) the evening before..the letter gave the location of a major IRA weapons dump at Barranarig Wood, Knocknagoshel (but) the letter was a forgery. A mine casing packed with shrapnel and an explosive charge was waiting, buried in a lonely field at the supposed dump site. At 2am on March 6th, 1923, five members of the Free State Army – three officers of the 'Dublin Guards' and two enlisted men – were blown apart.' Five men, including Paddy O'Connor, were killed immediately and a sixth man lost both legs. In a press statement after the explosion, the Kerry command of the Irish Free State Army announced that IRA prisoners would clear road obstacles in future.

The 'Dublin Guards', who had been in Kerry since the previous August, were commanded by Major General Paddy O'Daly (pictured, left), a 'poacher turned gamekeeper' ie an ex-IRA man. He was furious over the booby trap and it subsequently became clear that he was responsible for what took place following the Barranarig Wood incident. At around 2am on the 7th March, 1923 - 95 years ago on this date - nine IRA prisoners, many of whom had been tortured, were brought to Ballyseedy Wood where they were told that they were to remove an "irregular (ie IRA) road block" (which had been put in place by the Staters themselves). However, it was clear to the men what was in store for them when they had been shown 9 coffins in the barracks. Each were offered a cigarette and told it would be "the last you'll have".

They were then tied together to the mined 'roadblock' and blown up. Some of the men were still alive and were finished off by grenade and machine gun - Dorothy Macardle described what had happened : "The soldiers had strong ropes and electric cord. Each prisoner's hands were tied behind him, then his arms were tied above the elbow to those of the men on either side of him. Their feet were bound together above the ankles* and their legs were bound together above the knees. Then a strong rope was passed round the nine men and the soldiers moved away..." (*their shoelaces were also tied together). The 'barricade/road block' was a large log, against which was placed a mine.

But the Free State troops weren't aware that one man had been blown clear and managed to escape - his name was Stephen Fuller (who become a FF 'TD' in 1937, and died at Edenburn nursing home in February 1984.). Because the bodies were so badly mangled all nine coffins were filled with the remains of the eight who perished. This was to lead to a near riot in Tralee when the coffins were handed over to the families at the gates of Ballymullen Barracks- the families broke open the coffins to try and identify the remains and 'disturbances' erupted when the crowds realised what had happened. Later on the same day a very similar incident took place at Countess Bridge in Killarney where five IRA prisoners where asked to remove a mined road block which was also blown up. Three of the men who lay wounded were finished off by grenades. Again, amazingly, a fifth man, Tadhg Coffey, survived and escaped.

Five days later 5 more IRA prisoners were killed in a similar explosion - those murders took place at Bahaghs, near Cahirciveen on the 12th March, 1923. The victims were republican soldiers from the Kerry No. 3 Brigade of the IRA : Michael Courtney jnr, Eugene Dwyer, Daniel Shea, John Sugrue and William Riordan, all from the Waterville area. Each of them was first shot in the legs to prevent them escaping, should they survive the explosion, and were then put over a mine and blown up. When the details slowly emerged about what really happened the Free State administration was forced to call an inquiry into the 'incident' and they appointed none other than Major General Paddy O'Daly to oversee the 'court of inquiry' in April, 1923 - it was never going to be anything other than a whitewash. One Free State soldier, Lt W McCarthy, resigned his commission after the incident and called his colleagues "a murder gang". Captain Niall Harrington (Author of 'Kerry Landings') of the Free State 'Dublin Brigade' reported that "the mines used in the slaughter of the prisoners were constructed in Tralee under the supervision of two senior Dublin Guards officers". But neither he nor Lt W McCarthy was ever called to testify, thus, obviously, limiting the amount of 'whitewash' the Staters needed to cover up the truth.


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.


"Back to Wolfe Tone", says 'The Times' correspondent, who "desires a united Ireland as much as anyone." It is very heartening to read such splendid sentiments, and we wish that all who express such sentiment could see the way to that united Ireland as we do. We do not believe that James Connolly measured anything more than his conception of economic freedom "by the living standards enjoyed by the lowest economic class in society".

We do not believe that James Connolly would have been content with the most benevolent of conquerors even if they gave the lowest economic class conditions that would satisfy the most critical, nor would the people of Ireland ever accept foreign government, however well-meaning, as a substitute for self-government.

Yes. I'm afraid this "brand of green patriotism rising its head again" is the continuation of seven centuries of struggle - and Tone's, and Fintan Lalor's and O'Donovan Rossa's and Pearse's was the same brand, and the brand is pure certainly, but not sentimental. And the fact that it is raising its head again makes it fairly obvious that the Irish people of 1955 are just as determined to have complete separation as those of 1798, 1803, 1848 and 1916. (MORE LATER).


'The Limerick City curfew murders of March 1921.

Assassination of Mayor Clancy, ex-Mayor O'Callaghan and Volunteer O'Donoghue.

Contributed by Mrs O'Callaghan, Mrs Clancy, and comrades of the murdered patriots.

On the morning of March the seventh, 1921, Seoirse ('George') Clancy, Mayor of Limerick, and Michael O'Callaghan, his predecessor in office, were foully murdered by British police in their homes, and in the presence of their wives. The Mayoress, Mrs Clancy, was wounded during the assassination of her husband. The murder of Michael O'Callaghan took place about 1.10am, and that of Seoirse Clancy about 2.30am. Some hours previously, Joseph O'Donoghue of the IRA was murdered and his bullet-ridden body was found in the street in the morning...' (from here.)

'George Clancy, the Mayor of Limerick, and his immediate predecessor, Michael O'Callaghan were shot dead in their homes. Known as 'the Curfew Murders', as their houses were raided during the hours of curfew, their deaths shocked the whole City and Country and became International News. Mrs Clancy was wounded in a vain attempt to shield her husband from assassination and Mrs O'Callaghan also witnessed the murder of her spouse. Both victims were distinguished members of the Community and had been involved in the struggle for Independence. Clancy was an ex University Professor and a friend of James Joyce. He is believed to have provided the background for a character in Joyce’s Classic 'Portrait of an artist as a young man'. O'Callaghan’s grandfather, Eugene O'Callaghan, was Mayor of Limerick in 1843.

The third leading Citizen, Joseph O'Donoghue, was taken from his house that night and found shot dead in a field some hours later... their assailants were in Mufti, wore goggles and had their coat collars turned up but it quickly became obvious that the gang in question were serving members of the Crown Forces. Mrs O'Callaghan gathered what evidence she could collect and demanded an inquest but no inquiry other than a military one was ever carried out. Even the ex British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith stated that members of the RIC (Auxiliaries) were the culprits. However the particular individuals who carried out these attacks were never formally identified with the crimes. Many years later in the 1950's a deceased British Officer was named as one of the murderers but no conclusive proof was ever established as to his involvement.

A further twist to the story of the Murdered Mayors was added when, in February 1982, the Limerick Leader published a picture of 'Black and Tans', taken at William Street Police Station (now demolished). A side note to the photograph by Willie ‘Whack’ Gleeson, alleged that two of the Tans in the photograph, Sergeant Leech and Sergeant Horan, were also involved in the killings. While Leech was implicated in the murder of Joseph O'Donoghue, we don't know what part, if any, Horan played on the night in question. In the summer of 1922 Leech was shot dead at Harcourt Street Station, Dublin...' (from here.)

The two republican politicians were democratically elected by their own people in their own city yet were coldly assassinated by representatives of a foreign occupying force. Joseph O'Donoghue was an Irishman, in his own country, who bravely decided to defend his country from that foreign occupying force. Incidentally, Herbert Asquith was obviously made aware that two members of 'G Coy ADRIC' ('Auxiliary Division Royal Irish Constabulary') played a part in the assassinations, and he was no doubt given the same names as those mentioned in this country at the time - George Nathan and Les Ibbotson. But British 'justice' covered-up for its lackeys in this country, as it had done for centuries before then and as it continues to do to this day.



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

At the same time as you were grabbing his face you had to shout "C'mere here, where do you think you're going?" This innovation was introduced by Honky Wilson and, on the face of it, it changed the face of 'face collecting' forever.

Strangely enough, I have never seen any reference to 'face collecting' in any GAA handbook or manual - it's not even in 'The Imbeciles Guide to WWF'. Yet. Some people would try and grab their opponents by the nose, but this was frowned upon as mundane. If you think about it, where is the skill in grabbing someone, say, with a big enormous nose or chin, for example? God knows, there was plenty of them about Long Kesh.

I well remember the inter-cage results being put up on the notice board in the study hut of Cage Eleven. This was always waited on with great expectation within the cage, as it was the only true record of the injuries we inflicted upon one another during the course of the season. Oh! And anyone who was remotely interested could find out the scores of the matches, as well... (MORE LATER).


"Abhor the sword - stigmatize the sword? No, for in the passes of the Tyrol it cut to pieces the banner of the Bavarian, and, through those cragged passes, struck a path to fame for the peasant insurrections of Innsbruck! Abhor the sword - stigmatize the sword? No, for at its blow a giant nation started from the waters of the Atlantic, and by its redeeming magic, and in the quiverings of its crimsoned light, the crippled colony sprang into the attitude of a proud Republic - prosperous, limitless, and invincible! Abhor the sword - stigmatize the sword? No, for it swept the Dutch marauders out of the fine old towns of Belgium - scourged them back to their own phlegmatic swamps - and knocked their flag and sceptre, their laws and bayonets, into the sluggish water of the Scheldt.." - Thomas Francis Meagher, pictured.

Born on the 3rd August 1823, died (in mysterious circumstances) on the 1st July, 1867 :'Does the world even have heroes like Ireland's Thomas Francis Meagher anymore? After fighting for Irish independence ("I know of no country that has won its independence by accident") ,then condemned to death, pardoned and exiled, Thomas Francis Meagher escaped to America,where he became a leader of the Irish community and commanded the Irish Brigade during the Civil War. General Meagher's men fought valiantly at some of the most famous battles of the Civil War, including Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. After the war, Meagher served as Acting Governor of the Montana Territory. In 1867, Meagher disappeared on the Missouri River ; his body was never found..' (from here.)

Thomas Francis Meagher was born in Waterford City (near the Commins/Granville Hotel) on August 3rd, 1823, into a financially-comfortable family ; his father was a wealthy merchant who, having made his money, entered politics, a route which the young Thomas was to follow. At 20 years young, he decided to challenge British misrule in Ireland and, at 23 years of age (in 1846), he became one of the leaders of the 'Young Ireland' Movement. He was only 25 years of age when he sat down with the Government of the Second French Republic to seek support for an uprising in Ireland. At 29 years of age, he wrote what is perhaps his best known work - 'Speeches on the Legislative Independence of Ireland', of which six editions were published.

He unveiled an Irish flag, which was based on the French Tricolour, in his native city, Waterford, on the 7th March 1848 - 170 years ago on this date - outside the Wolfe Tone Confederate Club. The French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alphonse de Lamartine, and a group of French women who supported the Irish cause, gave Meagher the new 'Flag of Ireland', a tricolour of green, white and orange - the difference between the 1848 flag and the present flag is that the orange was placed next to the staff and the red hand of Ulster adorned the white field on the original. On the 15th April that same year, on Abbey Street, in Dublin, he presented the flag to Irish citizens on behalf of himself and the 'Young Ireland' movement, with the following words : "I trust that the old country will not refuse this symbol of a new life from one of her youngest children. I need not explain its meaning. The quick and passionate intellect of the generation now springing into arms will catch it at a glance. The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the 'orange' and the 'green' and I trust that beneath its folds, the hands of the Irish protestant and the Irish catholic may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood.."

He was arrested by the British for his part in the 1848 Rising, accused of 'high treason' and sentenced to death ("to be hanged, drawn and disemboweled..") but, while he was awaiting execution in Richmond Jail, this was changed by 'Royal Command' to transportation for life. Before he was deported, he spoke in Slievenamon, Tipperary, to a crowd estimated at 50,000 strong, about the country and the flag he was leaving behind - "Daniel O'Connell preached a cause that we are bound to see out. He used to say 'I may not see what I have laboured for, I am an old man ,my arm is withered, no epitaph of victory may mark my grave, but I see a young generation with redder blood in their veins, and they will do the work.' Therefore it is that I ambition to decorate these hills with the flag of my country.."

In July 1849, at only 26 years of age, he was transported from Dun Laoghaire on the S.S.Swift to Tasmania, where he was considered, and rightly so, to be a political prisoner (a 'Ticket of Leave' inmate) which meant he could build his own 'cell' on a designated piece of land that he could farm provided he donated an agreed number of hours each week for State use. In early 1852, Thomas Francis Meagher escaped and made his way to New Haven, in Connecticut, America, and travelled from there to a hero's welcome in New York. This fine orator, newspaper writer, lawyer, revolutionary, Irish POW, soldier in the American civil war and acting Governor of Montana died (in mysterious circumstances - he drowned after 'falling off' a Missouri River steamboat) on the 1st of July 1867 at 44 years of age. Once, when asked about his 'crimes', he replied - "Judged by the law of England, I know this 'crime' entails upon me the penalty of death ; but the history of Ireland explains that 'crime' and justifies it."

This brave man dedicated twenty-four of his forty-four years on this earth to challenging British misrule in Ireland and, while it can be said without doubt that Thomas Francis Meagher did his best, a 'crime' does remain to be resolved.


..we won't be in a position to post our usual offerings and we may not be able to post until the following Wednesday, 21st March, as the Dublin Executive of RSF are holding a 650-ticket raffle in a hotel on the Dublin/Kildare border on Sunday, 11th March, meaning that we'll be busy with that from Tuesday 6th until Monday 12th. We might, hopefully, slip-in a few words between now and then, but it looks like our next post might not be until Wednesday 21st next. And, I'm told, that next post will include a piece on a Free State Minister for 'Justice' who arranged State citizenship for a certain foreign gentleman (and his then wife, as well!) who was infamous, to put it mildly, in the world of high finance...see ya then!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018



'O see the fleet-foot host of men, who march with faces drawn,

From farmstead and from fishers' cot, along the banks of Ban;

They come with vengeance in their eyes. Too late! Too late are they,

For young Roddy McCorley goes to die on the bridge of Toome today...'
(From here.)

'Upon Friday last, a most awful procession took place here, namely the execution of Roger McCorley who was lately convicted at a court-martial, to the place of execution, Toome Bridge, the unfortunate man having been born in that neighbourhood. As a warning to others, it is proper to observe that the whole of his life was devoted to disorderly proceedings of every kind, for many years past, scarcely a Quarter-sessions occurred but what the name of Roger McCorley appeared in a variety of criminal cases. His body was given up to dissection* and afterwards buried under the gallows...thus of late we have got rid of six of those nefarious wretches who have kept this neighbourhood in the greatest misery for some time past...' - from the 'Belfast Newsletter' newspaper, 4th March 1800 (*..a 'politically correct' way of attempting to describe what had actually happened - Roddy McCorley's body was removed from the scaffold and, in front of the hundreds of on-lookers, was disembowelled. The various parts were swept up and disposed of in a hole under the scaffold, at the rise of the bridge, where those going from Antrim to Derry and back again would be forever minded that such was the fate of those "nefarious wretches" who dared stand up to Westminster. Those body parts lay there for fifty-two years). However, the British exposed their own 'nefariousness' by presenting McCorley as a common criminal, a 'felon', yet prosecuting him at a military court martial rather than through the 'assizes' criminal system, which was where those they considered to be 'common criminals' were given 'justice'.

Anyway - that same 'newspaper' ('The Belfast Newsletter') had, one month earlier, published a 'letter to the editor' (signed as being from 'A Christian') in which Roddy McCorley was mentioned as being one of "..a knot of ruffians, who so lately infested the neighbourhood of Ballymena..(guilty of)..murders of the deepest dye, robberies and burglaries of the most calamitous kind.." No change there, then, from those pro-British elements in this country - destroy the character first to make it easier to 'destroy' the person.

A depiction of the murder of Roddy McCorley, 28th February, 1800 - 218 years ago on this date.

Roddy McCorley was an Irish republican activist who was active in 1798 (considered to be "a common rebel", not a leadership figure, and is known to have continued on the fight afterwards until he was captured), a part he would have played even if he had not witnessed his father being put to death by the British for allegedly stealing sheep - the man was one of many hungry Irish 'peasants' murdered by Westminster as an 'example to other Irish troublemakers' : this 'sheepstealer' was a miller by trade, and was proud of his membership of 'The Defenders' - after he was 'given justice' by the British, his wife (a Protestant woman, from the McErlean family) and children were evicted from their hovel.

Roddy McCorley was unfortunate enough to be 'arrested', as he attempted to flee the country, in what the 'authorities' called "a clampdown on a notorious band of outlaws" which, they claimed, was led by Thomas Archer, from Ballymena in Antrim, who had left the notorious 'Antrim Militia', a proper 'band of outlaws' which had been assembled by Westminster in 1793 to 'put down' any inkling of rebellion by the Irish or, as the British put it - "the horrible and unnatural rebellion" (!)

Fifty-two years after he was 'dissected' by the British, his nephew Hugh McCorley found himself in charge of a construction crew who were working on a new bridge across the River Bann, in roughly the same location where the 'common criminal' was put to death in 1800 - he recovered the remains and gave them a proper burial in the graveyard at Duneane Parish, in County Antrim, but left the grave unmarked ; no doubt because he was aware of just what the ghouls in Westminster were capable of.

'The aged persons were telling the tales of bygone feuds and their consequences, and of chiefs who fell victims to their own folly. They were telling of the valiant youths hanged at Toome in those days, and pointed to the very trees on which they had atoned for their rebellious crimes. The young, with the interest peculiar to their years, were listening attentively, and gazed with awe as the stones were removed and the bones presented to view, of him who has been the subject of song, which has kept fresh in his country's memory the events of his short life and his sad end, having been cut down in maturity and vigour of life, before the eyes of those nearest related to him in this world...' And so it continues to this day - the lives and times of those who stood here before us being relayed to those who will stand here after us.


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.


Today the aim of Sinn Féin is no more and no less than that. New difficulties and new pitfalls have arisen, but they are no more insurmountable than those which faced our fathers, when Sinn Féin was a new gospel looked upon with suspicion.

That gospel must be preached anew and with no less vigour, for the politics of latter years have induced what we might call a 'sophisticated' attitude in the minds of many people who confuse politics with nationalism and they can only be won over, if at all, by the utter sincerity and transparent honesty of those who teach the doctrine of Sinn Féin. (Next : 'NEED FOR PROPAGANDA' , from the same source.)


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.


Mr. J. E. Warnock, Northern Ireland's (sic) Attorney General, has said that he is not particularly anxious about the size and progress of the Irish Republican Army - for that I am sure we are glad. We would indeed be sorry to cause the gentleman any anxiety.

We would like him to know that, and also the people to whom he was speaking at the 'Northern Ireland (sic) Unionist Headquarters' but, since 'The United Irishman' newspaper is considered unwholesome reading for people of the Six Counties, they cannot know how we feel. (MORE LATER).



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

Two days after the match, Cage 13 officially requested to withdraw from the league! Their request was turned down. They would have to take their medicine. Some screws volunteered to join the 'Sewers Escape Search Team' rather than 'guard' us while we played football.

I was talking to a friend recently who told me that when they played these 'games' in the internee end of Long Kesh, they used to have ambulances at the ready. I suppose that I should make an attempt to say something about the football match, but it's a funny thing - if you ask anyone who played in those matches not one, including myself, can remember anything about the actual playing. No one remembers the scores of the matches but they have all got a story about the fighting. Alas, the football itself is a blur.

The closest I can get to reporting on the actual matches is the not so subtle practice of face collecting - that is not a new kind of tackle in GAA circles, but the likes of Bloggs, Honky, Big Juice and Snakehips Stone elevated it to a level that before then could only be dreamt about and spoken about in the abstract.

I remember a comrade called Lettuce Barnes who, for three days after one of those matches, still had Bloggs' fingerprints clearly visible all over his face. 'Face Collecting Should Only Be Used As A Last Resort' - Geneva Convention, General Council's Office Order 22/64836/73. But in Cage 11 it was used with a reckless abandon. Everyone was at it. As a tactic, we loved it.

The actual execution (for want of a better word) of 'Face Collecting' was that when a player from the opposite team got past you with the ball - or without it - you just stuck out your hand and grabbed him by the face and in one quick flick of the wrist tried to render him unconscious. The recorded cases of whiplash in Long Kesh rose some 356% within the first three months of the start of the inter-Cage matches... (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018



'Exhumed in glory a November moon was drifting

And freedom's light aglow

When some IRA had gathered in a graveyard in Mayo.

Those brave Irish Freedom fighters

Who came together in the West

Had come to fill the promise to lay Frank Stagg at rest.'

'Frank Stagg was the seventh child in a family of thirteen children, born at Hollymount near Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, in 1942. Stagg was educated to primary level at Newbrooke Primary School and at CBS Ballinrobe to secondary level. After finishing his education, he worked as an assistant gamekeeper with his uncle prior to emigrating from Ireland to England in search of work. In England, Frank was employed as a bus conductor and later qualified as a bus driver. In 1970 he married Bridie Armstrong from Carnicon, Co Mayo. He joined Sinn Féin in Luton in 1972 and shortly afterwards joined the IRA. Frank remained in touch with home and spent his annual holidays in Hollymount up to the year of his arrest and imprisonment in 1973. In the words of his mother, "he never forgot he was Irish..." ' (From here.)

Frank Stagg had begun his fourth (and final) hunger strike in late 1975 - having been convicted under the notorious 'British Conspiracy Laws' - as it was the only 'weapon' he had at his disposal with which to impress on his British captors his desire to be repatriated to Ireland. He died, blind and weighing just four stone, in Wakefield Prison on 12th February 1976, after 62 days on hunger strike.

His remains were hijacked by suited, uniformed and armed members of the State, acting under orders from FS Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave and his 'Justice' Minister, Paddy Cooney - the airplane carrying his coffin was diverted from Dublin to Shannon and, when it landed, the Special Branch surrounded it and forcibly removed the coffin and buried it, supported by an armed escort, under six feet of concrete in Leigue Cemetery in Ballina, County Mayo, in a grave purchased by the Free Staters and which was located about 70 meters from the Republican Plot in that cemetery ; on that day - Saturday, 21st February, 1976, 42 years ago on this date - the Requiem Mass was boycotted by almost all his relatives.

For the following six months, armed State operatives maintained a heavy presence in the graveyard to prevent Irish republicans from affording Frank Stagg a proper burial but they were not the only group keeping a watch on the grave : the IRA were aware of their presence and, after the Staters withdrew, the IRA made their move : on the night of the 5th of November, 1976, the IRA disinterred Frank Stagg's remains and reburied them with his comrade, Michael Gaughan.

When questioned in Leinster House about this sordid affair, its 'Director', Paddy Cooney, stated - "The persistent attempts by members of an unlawful organisation and their associates to exploit the situation that arose are well known and, indeed, notorious. Because of this and because also of certain obligations of confidentiality, I must decline to make any comment on the question of the choice of burial place.."The "question of the choice of burial place" was, thankfully, not one that was left to Cooney and his thugs to decide. Frank Stagg, aged 33, had three funerals and two burials. One funeral had no body and one burial was done in darkness. In his final message to his comrades in the Republican Movement he wrote : "We are the risen people, this time we must not be driven into the gutter. Even if this should mean dying for justice. The fight must go on. I want my memorial to be peace with justice." That objective has still to be obtained and those in Leinster House, Stormont and Westminster are still working against it, still pouring 'concrete' on Irish republicanism. Shame on them.


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.


Sinn Féin is not, and never was, a 'political party'. Sinn Féin is a national movement pledged to assert the sovereign independence of Ireland. It is a movement of the common people, successor to the popular movements all down the ages which strove to restore Ireland to her place amongst the nations.

Democratic in its essence, it relies not on influential figureheads nor on craven intercession in the halls of the enemy, but on the will of the people to be free. In the past it raised them from the low state in which nineteenth-century politics had left them, and gave to each individual a new dignity, and a realisation of the part that each one of them could play in the rebuilding of the Nation.

One of the most noteworthy characteristics of the war years - 1916 to 1922 - was the high sense of personal honour and integrity of those who took part, and the rebirth of that deep national pride, which had almost been forgotten. Antipathies of class and creed found no echo in the hearts of those young volunteers - they lived and worked that Ireland might once more be a country fit for Irishmen to live in. (MORE LATER.)


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.

All this because the men who control our destiny are trying to rebuild a nation on the foundations of half a nation. They have not produced results. For past services and sacrifices let them have honour, but not office. 'To every generation its deed' - they have done theirs.

The immediate duty of our own generation is to unite our country before decadence has sapped our strength, and before the occurrence of a world war has added its special difficulties to our problem. The national fervour accompanying our effort will do more for Gaelic culture etc than the national apathy at present prevailing.

The goal is not merely a united Ireland but a united Irish-Ireland, and more than that. It is a position of influence for good among the nations of Europe and of honour before the eyes of the world. (END of 'TO EVERY GENERATION ITS DEED'. Next - 'COMMENTS', from the same source.)



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

Finally I knew I would have to hit someone - people were beginning to notice me sitting on the ball in the centre of the pitch. I sprung into action. This fellow from somewhere in the county Tyrone , I think, ran up and kicked the ball with me sitting on it, so I jumped up and grabbed him by the throat. "What's the matter with you?", he shouted. "Why did you kick out at me?", I shouted back. " I didn't, I was kicking at the ball" , he replied. The haymaker I launched at his nose travelled from about five feet behind me. I was like a coiled spring. I wound my arm up and put everything into that one punch. It had his name written all over it.

Unfortunately, it had the wrong address. I missed him by about two feet, lost my balance and fell at his feet. Oh Christ! I thought, here it comes... "Are you all right there, Jim?" he asked, picking me up like a rag doll and dusting me down. "Thank God I missed you, I might have killed you", I 'joked'. "What was that?" he asked, acting as if he hadn't noticed me throwing the punch - but I can recognise a 'fool's pardon' when I see one.

By this point, there were about 30 men in one of the goals beating seven bells out of one another - the craic was ninty. All types of fighting styles and struggles were involved, from sissy-stuff, embryonic Thai boxing, over-the-top Bruce Lee moves, WWF wrestling, Sumo wrestling, Graeco-Roman wrestling and, at a higher level, intense political debate! (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018



James McCormack (aka 'James Richards') was born in Mullingar in County Westmeath in 1910, and he joined a unit of the IRA in Tullamore, County Offaly, the same county where his comrade, Peter Barnes, was born - in the town of Banagher, in 1907.

'I have the honour to inform you that the Government of the Irish Republic [32 counties], having as its first duty towards its people the establishment and maintenance of peace and order here, demand the withdrawal of all British armed forces stationed in Ireland. The occupation of our territory by troops of another nation and the persistent subvention here of activities directly against the expressed national will and in the interests of a foreign power, prevent the expansion and development of our institution in consonance with our social needs and purposes, and must cease. The Government of the Irish Republic believe that a period of four days is sufficient notice for your Government to signify its intentions in the matter of the military evacuation and for the issue of your Declaration of Abdication in respect of our country. Our Government reserves the right of appropriate action without further notice if upon the expiration of this period of grace, these conditions remain unfulfilled...' - IRA ultimatum to the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, 12th January, 1939.

Thirteen days later - on Friday, the 25th August (a few days before Hitler's German army invaded Poland) - an IRA man from Cork, Joby O'Sullivan, was strolling through Broadgate, in Coventry, wheeling a push bike, on his way to a police station. The bike repeatedly got stuck in tram tracks on the road and, frustrated, he removed it from the road and propped it up against a wall. The bike had an armed bomb in the basket that was fixed to the handlebars, which had been wired up to an alarm clock timer, which was set for about 2.30pm. He left it there, and walked away. The five-pound bomb exploded prematurely, killing five people and injuring dozens more - it was one of about 150 IRA bombing incidents in England at that time, targeting infrastructure such as electricity stations, post offices, gas stations and government buildings.

Not long after the explosion, Peter Barnes (who was in London on the day of the explosion) was arrested at the lodgings he was staying in and, three days after that, James McCormack (aka 'James Richards') was pulled-in along with the other tenants of the house he was staying in. The 'trial' began in December (1939) and both men were convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. Throughout the court case, James McCormack remained silent until he told the court - "As a soldier of the Irish Republican Army, I am not afraid to die, for I am dying in a just cause."

Peter Barnes stated to the court - "I would like to say as I am going before my God, as I am condemned to death, I am innocent, and later I am sure it will all come out that I had neither hand, act or part in it. That is all I have to say." In his last letter (to his brother) he wrote - 'If some news does not come in the next few hours all is over. The priest is not long gone out, so I am reconciled to what God knows best. There will be a Mass said for us in the morning before we go to our death. Thank God I have nothing to be afraid of. I am an innocent man and, as I have said before, it will be known yet that I am.'

In the last letter he ever wrote, James McCormack said - "This is my farewell letter, as I have been just told I have to die in the morning. As I know I am dying for a just cause, I shall walk out tomorrow smiling, as I shall be thinking of God and of the good men who went before me for the same cause." (That letter was addressed to his sister, as both of his parents were dead.)

In Winson Green Prison, Birmingham, at 8.50am on Wednesday, 7th February 1940 - 78 years ago on this date - the two men received a final blessing. Minutes later they walked together to the scaffold and were hanged by four executioners.(Two short videos here and here, in relation to those two men, and a few paragraphs re Jimmy Steele...)

One of the few Irish republicans to be charged by Westminster with "treason felony" (an archaic charge originally devised for John Mitchel, the Young Ireland leader, in 1848) Jimmy Steele, who was born in Belfast on the 8th August, 1907, lived his life as a soldier, writer and poet, and devoted his 63 years in this world to the Republican Movement and the cause of Irish freedom.

At the age of 12, he joined Na Fianna Éireann and was active with his young comrades in assisting the Volunteers in his own area, the New Lodge Road, during the Tan War. Following the Treaty of Surrender in December 1921, and the split in the Movement, Steele remained true to his republican principles and, in the early 1920's, he joined the IRA. Arrested twice - in 1923 and 1924 - he was held for several months in Crumlin Road Jail. Following his release later that year and the freeing of the internees in 1925, he assisted with the re-organising of the IRA and NFÉ in Belfast. On the 25th April 1936, while attending an IRA court-martial in connection with the abortive Campbell College raid in December 1935, at the rooms of the Craobh Rua Club at Crown Entry in Belfast, Steele and most of the Belfast Battalion Staff were 'arrested' by British forces. On the 29th May 1936, he was charged with 'treason felony' and, along with twelve others, was found guilty and sentenced to five years penal servitude in Crumlin Road Jail.

Released in May 1940, he reported back to the Army leadership and continued on as before. While 'on the run', he married Anna Crawford, a member of Cumann na mBan who came from a staunch republican family ; unfortunately, married life in freedom was to be short-lived - the following December he was re-arrested and sentenced to ten years in jail. In January 1943, along with Patrick Donnelly, Ned Maguire and Hugh McAteer, Steele escaped from Crumlin Road Jail. Despite a reward of £3000 being offered by the Stormont administration for his capture and his photograph being displayed throughout the Six Counties, he reported back for active service and was appointed Adjutant of the Northern Command Staff IRA.

He figured in two major operations during his brief period of freedom : in March 1943, along with Liam Burke and Harry White, he organised and assisted in the escape of 22 IRA Volunteers from Derry Jail and, in April 1943, he participated in the Broadway Cinema operation on the Falls Road when armed Volunteers took over the cinema and stopped the film while Steele and McAteer went on stage and read a statement from the IRA Army Council. The two men finished off the nights entertainment for the packed cinema by reading the 1916 Proclamation!

By May 1943, Steele was back in jail, this time sentenced to twelve years. When he was released in September 1950, he was the last republican prisoner of that era to be freed, leaving Crumlin Road Jail empty of political prisoners for the first time since partition. During the following years, Steele edited two Belfast newspapers - 'Glor Uladh' and ' Resurgent Ulster', and was the main author of two books published by the National Graves Association - 'Antrim's Patriot Dead' and 'Belfast Patriot Graves'. On the 21st December 1957, following the beginning of the IRA's Border Campaign, internment was once more introduced in the Six Counties and Steele was among the 167 republicans interned in Crumlin Road Jail - he was released three years later and reported back to the IRA. He was an outspoken opponent of the policies being pursued by the leadership of the Republican Movement and, in an oration at the re-interment of the remains of Peter Barnes and James McCormick at Mullingar, County Westmeath, in July 1969, he severely criticised the leadership and in particular the running-down of the IRA.

Within six months (January 1970) the inevitable split in the Republican Movement occurred and, following 'the parting of the ways' Jimmy Steele, a member of the IRA's Belfast Brigade Staff and the Provisional Army Executive (a position he held until his death) was active in Belfast re-organising and re-arming IRA units to defend nationalist areas from attack by Orange mobs backed-up by the B-Specials and RUC. A founder member of ' Republican News' in June 1970, the four-page weekly paper under the editorship of Steele soon had a circulation of 15,000 copies per week. Jimmy Steele was Editor of that 'paper when he died on the 9th August, 1970, at 63 years of age : more than twenty of those 63 years were spent in jail. Steele by name, and Steele by nature - hard to break.


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.

The foregoing particulars are given merely as a rough outline of the drain imposed upon the economy of the Irish Nation through the business operations of foreign insurance and assurance companies. While such companies are permitted to function within the shores of Ireland, this drain on the resources of the Nation and the savings of its people will remain and, if present trends may be taken as correctly indicating what the future holds, not alone will this drain continue at present levels but will continue to expand to the further detriment of the Irish economy.

It is the aim of Sinn Féin to have legislation enacted by the National Government whereby, after a given date, foreign insurance and assurance companies shall be debarred from transacting 'new business' within Ireland and existing business to be liquidated thereafter as and when policies already in force reach maturity.

If, after an acturial computation of the financial issues involved, other means of a nature more beneficial to the Irish people can be devolved to terminate more rapidly the business transactions of the foreign companies, then such means should be adopted. (END of 'SINN FÉIN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRAMME' : next - 'SINN FÉIN IS EVERYTHING ITS NAME IMPLIES - GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE!' , from the same source.)


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.

Padraig Pearse defined "Ireland one and Ireland free" - is not this the definition of 'Ireland a Nation'? Irish nationalists are those "who accept the ideal of, and work for, the realisation of an Irish nation, by whatever means?" Justifiable means, of course. These definitions are embarrassing nowadays to those who honour the man yet reject the teaching that made the man ('1169' comment - such as those in the Leinster House institution, for example).

Pearse expressed his opinion on the use of force - "A thing that stands demonstrable is that nationhood is not achieved otherwise than in arms : in one or two instances there may have been no actual bloodshed but the arms were there and the ability to use them. Ireland unarmed will attain just as much freedom as is convenient for England to give her ; Ireland armed will attain ultimately just as much freedom as she wants."

And, if bloodshed is horrible - "The nation which regards it as the final horror has lost its manhood. There are many things more horrible than bloodshed ; and slavery is one of them." Another is national extinction.

Those of us who are realists must admit that national extinction is a definite possibility. The signs are there - we see a static ageing population, a decline in Gaelic culture (at least in so far as it interests the majority of our people), too little progress in agriculture and too much foreign influence in industry. Through the influence of the wireless, the cinema and television, the atmosphere has become something which is foreign to our culture, and stronger than it... (MORE LATER.)



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

The abuse coming from the 'enemy' who were looking on was deafening - they were gloating at us, laughing and calling us every name under the sun. "Don't take them under your notice, boys.." shouted Bloggs Long, "..we play them (Cage Ten) next and we'll fix them, no problem!"

The scenes on the football pitch reminded me of some John Ford western - it all looked totally choreographed. I can honestly say that I didn't see anyone getting hurt. Embarrassed? Yes. Hurt? No. Just loads of John Wayne's fighting loads of Victor McLaglen's, and I noticed a few Maureen O'Hara's fighting a few Bette Davises as well! I looked at my comrades 'playing football', and it was frightening. I was beginning to feel sorry for them (Cage Nine) when Danny D hit me a slap on the back of the head and said "Stop feeling sorry for them and get stuck into one of them..."

The fighting was starting to concern both the Cage Staffs, especially when it started affecting comrades like J. Allsopp, who was normally a quiet spoken, mild mannered friend from Belfast - he threw that which was called 'a wobbler' (a mad fit) and had to be subdued by players from both teams who cut short their own wobblers to take care of him... (MORE LATER).


..we should be just about finished our multitasking job - this Sunday coming (the 11th February) 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 Feb, 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, to be held on Sunday 11th Feb, 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 (14th) 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...!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018



Tomás MacCurtain (pictured), was born on the 20th March 1884, and was murdered by British agents on the 20th March 1920, at 36 years of age.

The first Irish republican to hold the 'Lord Mayor' office, Tomás MacCurtain, was elected to that position on the 31st January 1920 - 98 years ago on this date. He was assassinated by the British at his home in Thomas Davis Street in Blackpool, Cork, between midnight 19th March 1920 and the next day, which was his 36th birthday - his killers, dressed in 'civvies' and speaking with pronounced English accents, were RIC members tasked with the 'job' by their political bosses. He was buried in the Republican Plot in St. Finbarr's Cemetery in Cork on Monday 22nd March 1920.

"We find that the late Alderman MacCurtain, Lord Mayor of Cork, died from shock and hemorrhage caused by bullet wounds, and that he was wilfully murdered under circumstances of the most callous brutality, and that the murder was organised and carried out by the Royal Irish Constabulary, officially directed by the British Government, and we return a verdict of wilful murder against David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of England ; Lord French, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ; Ian McPherson, late Chief Secretary of Ireland ; Acting Inspector General Smith, of the Royal Irish Constabulary ; Divisional Inspector Clayton of the Royal Irish Constabulary ; District Inspector Swanzy and some unknown members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. We strongly condemn the system at present in vogue of carrying out raids at unreasonable hours. We tender to Mrs MacCurtain and family our sincerest sympathy. We extend to the citizens of Cork our sympathy in the loss they have sustained by the death of one so eminently capable of directing their civic administration" - the unanimous verdict of the inquest into the murder of Alderman Tomás MacCurtain, Lord Mayor of Cork and considered by many to be the 'inventor' of the 'Flying Column' tactic, as read out on 17th April 1920 by Coroner James J. McCabe. Sixty-four 'policemen' were questioned at the inquest, along with two British military operatives and thirty-one civilians.

Tomás MacCurtain, Irish republican Lord Mayor, born 20th March 1884, died 20th March 1920, elected to Office on the 31st January 1920 - 98 years ago on this date.


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.

Since the above figures apply in respect of the 26 Counties only, to get an overall picture for Ireland it is necessary to add the relevent figures for the Six Counties.

So far as is known, foreign companies operating with the latter area do not publish separate returns indicating the extent of their business within the area - it is safe, however, to assume that through addition of the relevent figures the totals given for the foreign companies would be considerably increased.

It is also worthy of note that in the 23 years from 1927 to 1949 the annual premium income of foreign companies from business transacted within the 26 Counties shows a remarkable increase, the figures for 'Life and Industrial Assurance' alone being, for 1927, £1,829,730 and, for 1949, £3,717,360... (MORE LATER.)


Charles Stewart Parnell's sisters, Anna and Fanny, established a 'Ladies Land League' on the 31st January 1881, which, at its full strength, consisted of about five hundred branches and didn't always see eye-to-eye with its 'parent' organisation - in its short existence, it provided assistance to about 3,000 people who had been evicted from their rented land holdings.

The 'Ladies Land League' was formed to assist and/or take over land agitation issues, as it seemed certain that the 'parent' body was going to be outlawed by the British and, sure enough, the British Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, introduced and enforced a 'Crimes Act' that same year, 1881 - that particular piece of British 'statute law' in Ireland was better known as the 'Coercion/Protection of Person and Property Act', which made it illegal to assemble in relation to certain issues and an offence to conspire against the payment of rents 'owed' which, ironically, was a piece of legislation condemned by the same catholic church which condemned the 'Irish National Land League' because that Act introduced permanent legislation and did not have to be renewed on each political term.

And that same church also condemned the 'Ladies Land League' to the extent that Archbishop McCabe of Dublin instructed priests loyal to him "not to tolerate in your societies (diocese) the woman who so far disavows her birthright of modesty as to parade herself before the public gaze in a character so unworthy of a Child of Mary.." - the best that can be said about that is that that church's 'consistency' hasn't changed much over the years!

In October 1881, Westminster proscribed the 'Irish National Land League' and imprisoned its leadership, but the gap was ably filled by the 'Ladies Land League' until it was acrimoniously dissolved on the 10th August 1882, 19 months after it was formed. And it should be noted that the anti-republican State parliament in Dublin, which was created by a British act of parliament, is still involved in the business of landlordism...


From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.

The phrase which entitles this article is from the writings of Padraig Pearse ('Coming Revolution', November 1913). Pearse applied to his own generation the doctrine of Irish nationalism taught by Tone, Lalor, Davis and Mitchell ; this was the true doctrine because it included Irish separatism among its tenets.

Pearse saw, however, that the modern separatists had drifted too far away from Gaelic culture and he also saw that the modern revivalists of Gaelic culture had drifted too far away from separatism. His main contribution to Irish nationalism was to weld these two movements together, and to relate the combined product to our Christian beliefs. The result was the Republican Movement as we know it today.

It is necessary that the present generation should know something about the effects of the Movement on modern nationalistic thought, that they should see that this was a logical process leading to logical solutions and clear-cut definitions... (MORE LATER.)


The UVF, pictured, in the early 1900's ; it was a politically-minded organisation when it was first formed, on the 31st January 1913 by the 'Ulster Unionist Council', with support from the 'Ulster Reform Club', but transformed itself into a drug-fuelled mini-mafia in later years.

One of the (original) UVF's better-known leadership figures (apart from 'Sir' George Richardson, a retired British Army general) was Colonel Frederick Hugh Crawford CBE, who viewed himself as a breed apart from others who shared the planet with him - "From these settlers sprang a people, the Ulster-Scot, who have made themselves felt in the history of the British Empire and, in no small measure, in that of the United States of America. I am ashamed to call myself an Irishman. Thank God I am not one. I am an Ulsterman, a very different breed.." 'His official title read Director of Ordnance of the HQ Staff of the UVF...he had first rate Protestant credentials for he had been one of those who signed the Ulster Covenant in his own blood. He had travelled the world, fought for a time in South Africa and returned to throw himself tirelessly into the fight against Home Rule for Ireland...' (from here.)

Colonel Frederick was born in Belfast on the 21st August 1861, and died in his 92nd year on the 5th November 1952. His father, James, was a factory owner in Belfast (manufacturing starch) but Frederick struck out on his own, becoming an engineer with a shipping firm before taking to a military life, which brought him into the Boer War. On the night of the 24th April, 1914, Frederick Crawford, the 'Director of Ordnance HQ Staff UVF' (who was cooperating re acquiring arms with, and for, the 'Ulster Unionist Council') and the main instigator in an operation in which over 25,000 guns were successfully smuggled into Ireland, witnessed his plans come to fruition - for at least the previous four years, he and some other members of the 'Ulster Reform Club' had been making serious inquiries about obtaining arms and ammunition to be used, as they saw it, for 'the protection of fellow Ulstermen'. Advertisements had been placed in newspapers in France, Belgium, Germany and Austrian newspapers seeking to purchase '10,000 second-hand rifles and two million rounds of ammunition..' and, indeed, between August 1913 and September 1914, it is known that Crawford and his colleagues in the UVF/URC/UUC obtained at least three million rounds of .303 ammunition and 500 rifles, including Martini Enfield carbines, Lee Metford rifles, Vetterlis and BSA .22 miniature rifles, all accompanied by their respective bayonets, and six Maxim machine guns (from the Vickers Company in London, for £300 each).

The ads were placed and paid for by a 'H.Matthews, Ulster Reform Club' ; Crawford's middle name was Hugh and his mother's maiden name was Matthews, an action which some members of the Ulster Reform Club objected to, leading to Crawford resigning from that group and describing the objectors as "a hindrance" : he described that period in his life as being "so crowded with excitement and incidents that I can only remember some of them, and not always in the order in which they happened..". Crawford and his UVF/URC/UUC colleagues had ordered some munitions from a company in Hamburg, in Germany, and had paid a hefty deposit up front but, months later, as they had not heard from the company, Crawford was sent there to see what the delay was and discovered that the German boss, who was in Austria while Crawford was in Germany, had informed Westminster about the order and was asked by that institution not to proceed with same - the deposit would not be returned and the deal was off, as far as the company was concerned. Crawford tracked him down, in Austria, and called him and his company swindlers and was then told of a similar 'deal' involving that arms company regarding Mexican purchasers who also got swindled but, on that occasion, words and bullets were exchanged, the latter from gun barrels!

At 60 years of age (in 1921) he was named in the British 'Royal Honours List' as a 'CBE' ('Commander of the Order of the British Empire') and he wrote his memoirs in 1934 at 73 years of age. He died, in his 92nd year, in 1952, and is buried in the City Cemetery in the Falls Road in Belfast. The then British PM, 'Sir' Basil Brooke, described him as "a fearless fighter in the historic fight to keep Ulster British.." but, whatever about his 'successes on the battlefield', he was apparently less successful in his family life -

"What sort of man was my Father? As a boy and as a man he was never very intelligent. He was an unconscious bully and for that reason unloved by his children. Each in turn left the home as soon as we became adults and were able to do so. The U.V.F rifles - I think about 15,000, were stored and kept in good condition in a shed in the grounds of Harland and Wolff where I once saw them. For legal reasons they were in my father's name. After the retreat from Dunkirk Britain was desperately short of arms and wanted to purchase the U.V.F rifles. As you are now aware my father was not a very intelligent person and was a hopeless business man. My father's chartered accountant sent word to him to say that Sir Dawson Bates wanted to meet him about something important. Accordingly my father went to the accountant's office where his old friend Sir Dawson Bates was waiting for him - "Ah Fred, so glad you've come". The three, my Father, the accountant and Sir Dawson Bates sat down at a table.

There Sir Dawson carefully explained the desperate need Britain had for arms and asked my father, for patriotic reasons, to release the rifles – it would only be a simple matter of signing a prepared document. My father, in the presence of the accountant and Sir Dawson Bates, for patriotic reasons, signed the document without reading it. It conveyed ownership of the rifles from my father to Sir Dawson Bates who sold them to the British Government for, I believe, £2 a unholy trio had been cheating him for years ; his estate agent who collected all revenues due to my father was keeping most of it. His chartered accountant was presenting false figures for income tax purposes and all this skulduggery was made legal by the co-operation of his trusted friend, his solicitor..." (from here.)

Colonel Frederick Crawford CBE proudly worked for, and aided and abetted, British imperialism, only to be used, abused and cheated by that same system. A lesson (which will no doubt go unheeded) to be learned, even at this late stage, by those who, today, work that imperialist system in this country, north and south.

The 'modern day' UVF, meanwhile, are a self-sustaining criminal outfit, using politics as a disguise for their continued existence - 'Loads of youngsters were recruited...but the only thing these kids are good for is blocking the street. They wouldn't know the difference between Edward Carson and Frank Carson..drug dealers and housebreakers have also been recruited. They are given the option of having their arms broken for anti-social behaviour or joining up...nearly everyone joins up. I know of a few fellas who have been out of work and deliberately allowed to run up tabs in UVF pubs. The UVF comes to them at the end of the month and says "pay up lads". When they cannot they are given the option of a beating or signing up...' (from here.)

First established on this date - 31st January - 105 years ago, they are still cheating on each other to this day.



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

My comrades in Cage Eleven immediately voted unanimously to honour my special talent by electing me as the first captain of Cage Eleven's First Team, the rest of which was a mixture of failed soccer wannabes with a prima donna called 'Farron' or something like that, from the St. James Road area of Belfast. But they were eager to learn. I heard someone say years later that they were donkeys being led by a lion (...thank God for artistic licence).

The first matches between Cage 9 and Cage 10, then Cage 12 and Cage 13, were pretty boring affairs. There wasn't one fight! But, when it happened, it came without warning - the umpire threw the ball up into the air between the two teams and it was fully five minutes before anyone else touched it. There was fighting breaking out all over the pitch. The actual fighting itself was more relentless than vicious, far more gratifying than gratuitous - and I can't help thinking that the umpire, Cleaky, must assume a lot of the responsibility for it.

The instant he threw the ball in the air to start the match he punched the full forward of Cage 9 on the chin - it wasn't that Cleaky disliked the comrade, or maybe he did ; he was just setting the scene for the rest of the season. To say that old scores and grudges were being settled would be inaccurate, so new scores and new grudges were created and settled. On the spot! I looked around for an Ardoyne man to hit, as they were generally considered to be the easiest (a curse on artistic licence) - Ardoyne men are universally well known for their fantastic sense of humour and, by their nature, are very forgiving (!). But I wonder, do they post out a Fatwa to you or will it just appear in the 'North Belfast News'? Anyway, the Ardoyne men were all on our team, so it was academic. I let it go... (MORE LATER).


'Saint Brigid was

A problem child.

Although a lass

Demure and mild,

And one who strove

To please her dad,

Saint Brigid drove

The family mad.

For here's the fault in Brigid lay:

She WOULD give everything away...
(from here.)

A belief associated with St. Brigid is that of the 'Brigid's Bed', where single females of the area would each make a doll (a 'Brideog') to represent Brigid and dress it with as much colour as they could and then make a bed for the doll to lie in. On St. Brigid's Eve - 31st January - the girls and young women would gather together in one house to stay up all night with the 'Brideog', and are then visited by all the young men of the community who must ask permission to enter the home, and treat them and the doll with respect. Unless, of course, you're a rich male egotist who lives in a mansion paid for by those who work for a living or those living to find work.

The terminolgy in the following piece about St. Brigid is a bit 'dated', but would definitely appeal to the above-mentioned mansion-house lodger :

'The housewife used the occasion of St. Brigid's eve to ensure the house was respectable and tidy, a festive supper was also prepared consisting of apple cake, dumplings and colcannon, irrespective of the financial situation of the household. Allied to this all farmers wives made what was known as a bairin-breac, neighbours were invited around and engaged in drinking and merrymaking. On St. Brigids eve it was generally believed that the saint travelled around the countryside, bestowing blessings on the people and livestock.

Various elements were used to indicate that her visit to the house was welcomed. A common practice entailed the placing of a cake or pieces of bread and butter on the window-sill outside. Often this offering was left to be collected by a tramp or impoverished person. In other areas it was brought in the next morning and shared between the members of the household. Often a sheaf of corn was placed beside the cake as a refreshment for the Saint's favourite cow who accompanied her. Other households placed a bundle of straw or fresh rushes on the threshold on which the Saint may kneel to bless the house or on which she could wipe her feet before entering. Further traditions include that dishes of water, salt, pieces of meat or butter being left outdoors as an offering for the saint and, after she had passed by, these would have acquired medicinal properties and were used to ward off illness...' (from here.)

Happy St. Brigid's Eve!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.