" 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.)



IRISH BLOG AWARDS 2017 - ooops! It seems that our entry application was "not completed in time to be considered.." (?) and, as such, we are not now in the running. But we wish all the best to the successful entrants and to the organisers, and we hope all goes well for them on the day!


Friday, September 17, 2004

'TAN WAR' REPUBLICAN NEWSPAPER - 'An tOglach' , 1918-1921.......

....... Ernest Blythe , one-time Editor of 'An tOglach' , the Irish Republican newspaper , accepted the 1921 Treaty of Surrender ; in his new position within the Free State Cabinet he cut the old-age pension by one shilling and discussed , with his Free State Cabinet colleagues , which IRA prisoners should be executed next .......


At one such Free State Cabinet meeting it was agreed that IRA leaders Rory O'Connor , Liam Mellows , Richard Barrett and Joe McKelvey should be executed immediately ; at 3.30 AM on the morning of the 8th of December 1922 , the four men were told that they were to be placed in front of a Free State firing squad in a few hours time - no trial , no jury .

Indeed , in one month alone - January 1923 - 34 IRA members were executed by Free State firing squads in nine different towns in the new Free State . However - one of the Free State Cabinet Ministers that had condemned to death the four IRA men named above , Kevin O'Higgins , was only a couple of months in his new position as Free State 'Minister for Home Affairs' - effectively the 'hard man' of the new Administration .

But ordering the death of those four IRA prisoners gave O'Higgins a troubled mind ; and with good reason .......

(MORE LATER).


WHERE MOUNTAINY MEN HAVE SOWN :

war and peace in rebel Cork ,
in the turbulent years 1916-21.

By Micheal O'Suilleabhain : published 1965.

RAIDS.......

" .......one of our supporters , Sean , lived off the beaten track , and was not accustomed to having his house raided ......."


" Sean was past middle age - stout , humorous and excitable . On this particular day he worked in a field at a good distance from his house and uphill from it ; his neighbour , a young man , came running downhill to him . " Sean , " he said , " have you anything in the house ? If you have , tell me , quickly , and I'll dump it . The Tans are coming ! "

" Oh ! H'anam an diol , na bitcheanna , " shouted Sean , as a prelude to a quick mental survey of all the rooms in his house . " No ! No ! No ! " he added . Then , an inspiration struck him : " H'anam an diol ! The picture of Archbishop Mannix ! Put out Mannix ! Put him out ! For the Tans hate him ...." Then , to ensure beyond a doubt the safety of the picture , he said - "....but put him under a stone , carefully ! "

The neighbour , trying to hide his laughter , was already speeding down the hill .

[END of 'RAIDS.......'].
(Next - 'THE TRUCE' : "...one regrets that it ever came about.....")


TINKER , TAILOR , HIGH RISK SPY .......
By Frank Doherty .

First published in ' New Hibernia ' magazine , May 1987 , pages 7 , 8 and 9 .
Re-produced here in 11 parts .
(4 of 11.)

The British Secret Intelligence Service , under Maurice Oldfield , its de facto chief , began preparing briefings on Ireland in the autumn of 1969 using two Officers sent from London to set up an intelligence network aimed at keeping " a watching brief " . By early 1970 , Maurice Oldfield had set up an MI6 station on the first floor of the Conway House Hotel at Dunmurray , Belfast : with secure , independent communications links to Secret Service HQ at Century House , London , the station became co-ordinating centre for MI6 Offices at Lisburn Army HQ and Stormont , where British Secret Service men served as ' political Officers ."

Ironically , it was Harold Wilson , who , according to Maurice Oldfield , would cross the street rather than speak to him, who sent MI6 into Northern Ireland (sic) , reportedly because he distrusted MI5 even more - with good reason as recent revelations by ex-MI5 man Peter Wright in Australia have shown .......

(MORE LATER).






Thursday, September 16, 2004

'TAN WAR' REPUBLICAN NEWSPAPER - 'An tOglach' , 1918-1921.......

.......Ernest Blythe TD , and Minister for Trade and Commerce in the First (All-Ireland) Dail Eireann , was Editor of the 'An tOglach' Irish Republican newspaper for a period in 1919 ; he probably regretted it later on , after he 'jumped-ship'.......

In 1933 , Ernest Blythe was the Editor of the (right-wing) 'Cumann na nGaedheal' party newspaper , which they called 'The United Irishman' (!) - this group was also known as 'the Blueshirts' , due to a coloured shirt their members wore in solidarity with the shirted fascist movements on the continent . Or you could believe the explanation given by the Blueshirts themselves for their dress-code -

- they claimed that they wore a blue shirt to prevent members from hitting each other should a fight break-out at a meeting they were at ! ('1169...' comment : colour- blindness must not have been 'invented' at the time .......!) But Ernest Blythe had 'changed sides' : he accepted the 1921 Treaty of Surrender and , by the following year , was to be found sitting at a Free State Cabinet table with , amongst others , William Cosgrave and Kevin O'Higgins , discussing which Irish Republican prisoners were next for execution .

Incidentally , it was at one such Free State Cabinet meeting that Ernest Blythe made a decision which was to haunt him for the rest of his political life - he cut one shilling from the old-age pension.......

(MORE LATER).


WHERE MOUNTAINY MEN HAVE SOWN :

war and peace in rebel Cork ,
in the turbulent years 1916-21.

By Micheal O'Suilleabhain : published 1965.

RAIDS.......

".......the Irish were proud to display pictures of executed hero's , and almost every house had them - this , of course , was a great help to the British , as they immediately knew which side of the fence you were on , depending on the pictures hanging on the walls of your house ....... "

" Later on , as the resurgent spirit increased , the pictures of other patriotic Irish men and women were added ; among them was that of Most Rev. Dr. Mannix , Archbishop of Melbourne . When a British raiding party entered a house , the sight of a picture of Irish patriots did not tend to improve their goodwill towards its occupants ; very often the picture was torn down and trampled upon . This , in turn, did not help to soften the feelings of the householders for the British raiders .

As the Freedom struggle was intensified , most of the people removed their pictures to a place of safety - they would only be broken by the enemy , and their display would only incite the British to further effort and research which might perhaps reveal an arms dump in the vicinity or , worse still, a wanted man .

Our friend Sean lived on his farm off the beaten track between Kilnamartyra and Ballingeary ; it was not often , therefore, that the enemy paid him a visit . The year was 1920 , and most people had got accustomed to raids and searches . But not Sean ....... "

(MORE LATER).


TINKER , TAILOR , HIGH RISK SPY .......
By Frank Doherty .

First published in ' New Hibernia ' magazine , May 1987 , pages 7 , 8 and 9 .
Re-produced here in 11 parts .
(3 of 11.)

Nominally , 'Sir' John Rennie was in charge of MI6 ; he had been given the post in 1968 by the British Labour Government to keep Oldfield , bitterly disliked by both George Brown and Michael Stewart , out of the job after 'Sir' Dick White retired . Rennie , a 'black propagandist' with the misleadingly named ' Information Research Department' , had little knowledge of the bizarre world which Maurice Oldfield controlled .

Like many others who crossed the little fat man with the florid face and mincing step , Rennie met his 'Waterloo' quite quickly , falling victim to character assassination less than three years after his appointment , when his son and daughter-in-law were arrested with a huge haul of heroin .

When Rennie was forced to resign , after news of the heroin bust had been 'leaked' to Fleet Street , along with details of his sensitive and secret job , Maurice Oldfield was his only possible successor .......

(MORE LATER).






Wednesday, September 15, 2004

'TAN WAR' REPUBLICAN NEWSPAPER - 'An tOglach' , 1918-1921.......

.......when ' An tOglach' Editor , Piaras Beaslai was 'arrested' by the Brits in March 1919 , he was succeeded in that position by Ernest Blythe , a TD and Minister for Trade and Commerce in the First (All-Ireland) Dail (32-County Irish Parliament).......

Ernest Blythe had some experience in editing a newspaper - two years previously (ie in 1917) he assisted in re-organising ' The Southern Star' newspaper in Skibbereen , West Cork - that was in January 1917 , and Michael Collins ( still an Irish Rebel at the time) came in as a shareholder . Then , in February that year (1917) Ernest Blythe was appointed Editor of 'The Southern Star' .

In November 1916 , 'The Southern Star' newspaper had been suppressed by the British , as its "...increasingly nationalistic tone " did not meet with the approval of the 'authorities' . The real authorities , meanwhile , were left to read the other Skibbereen-based newspaper , ' The Skibbereen Eagle' , and IT did not " meet with their approval " ; so they raided the premises - again ! At the time , ' The Skibbereen Eagle' was being run by local solicitor and (British) MP for West Cork , Jasper Wolfe ; a Mr. Eldon Potter had founded the newspaper in 1907 , but it never quite 'clicked' with the nationalist population . Thus the 'visits' it received from the then real authorities , the IRA .

However - (mini-tangent , that ...!) - Ernest Blythe was to go on to have even more experience in the Editor's chair : this time from the 'opposite side of the house .....'

(MORE LATER).


WHERE MOUNTAINY MEN HAVE SOWN :

war and peace in rebel Cork ,
in the turbulent years 1916-21.

By Micheal O'Suilleabhain : published 1965.

RAIDS.......

".......my uncle and Jerrick Sheehan were a few feet in front of us , leaning against a fence - they were not aware that myself and 'Mick the Soldier' were there ; we were all watching for enemy trucks , hoping to avoid them . Jerrick had taken his pint of stout with him ......."

" Suddenly , I saw something gleam in Mick's hand - it was Jerrick's pint of stout being carefully withdrawn from its resting place ; he brought it back safely , turned towards me and , bowing gravely , raised it to his lips . I saw it tilt slowly and thought of its previous owners care for its safe transport . I judged that a third of it had gone when it was again lowered . Then it was raised and lowered a few times until finally it was empty , and raised for my inspection !

Gently , it was replaced on the flat stone and the 'operation' was complete ; although taking no active part in the 'operation' , I must get credit for not jeopardising it , for the struggle I had to make to smother laughter was indeed a hard one . We resumed our positions and waited , and soon we heard the noise of the departing British lorries . Then my uncle spoke - " They are going up Ard a' Bhona , Jerrick , I think we can adjourn . " " All right , Dan , wait 'till I get my pint . " A clink of glass on stone and then - " H'anam an Diol , Farmer , 'tis empty ! "

" You must have spilled it , Jerrick . " " No , no , I put it down on that stone there and there was not a drop spilled out of it . Someone must have drank it - it bate the devil . Or who could do that ? " A voice from the other side of the fence answered him : " Another ould soldier ! "

When British forces raided the homes of our people they naturally looked for some indication as to where the peoples' sympathies lay ; in many houses , prior to 1916 , a large picture of Robert Emmet hung on the wall on one side of the fireplace and was sometimes balanced , symmetrically , by a picture of Daniel O'Connell on the other side . A very poor balance it was , in my opinion . After 1916 , however , equilibrium was restored , for a picture of the executed leaders was substituted for that of the politician ....... "

(MORE LATER).


TINKER , TAILOR , HIGH RISK SPY .......
By Frank Doherty .

First published in ' New Hibernia ' magazine , May 1987 , pages 7 , 8 and 9 .
Re-produced here in 11 parts .
(2 of 11.)

Maurice Oldfield was a regular visitor to 'The Highwayman Lounge Bar' in Comber , County Down , and to Balloo House , a pub/restaurant several miles away at Killinchey , where his favourite drink was vodka and tomato juice , which he refused to call a 'Bloody Mary' . Maurice was still 'flashing' when two uniformed RUC men from 'Golf' Division walked into the toilets and arrested him , bringing an end not only to the career of the Ulster Security Co-ordinator (sic) but to an era in Irish history .

For 'Sir' Maurice Oldfield was not just a retired Secret Intelligence Service Chief (MI6) turned Mrs Thatcher's 'special crusader against the IRA ' , he was without doubt the most influential Briton in Ireland since 1971 . Oldfield's association with 'John Bull's other island' began in 1969 after British troops were put onto the streets by Harold Wilson . Oldfield was then Deputy Chief of MI6 in name , but in reality was the man who ran the spy service .......

(MORE LATER).






Tuesday, September 14, 2004

'TAN WAR' REPUBLICAN NEWSPAPER - 'An tOglach' , 1918-1921.......

.......once again , this time in March 1919 , 'An tOglach' Editor Piaras Beaslai was 'arrested' by the Brits (under the 'DORA' legislation) ; but he did'nt stay locked-up in Dublin's Mountjoy Jail for long .......

In early April 1919 , eighteen Irish Republican POW's escaped from the 'Joy , one of whom was Piaras Beaslai but , unfortunately for him , this time freedom did'nt stay long - the Brits caught up with him on May 1st , 1919 but , this time , they sent him out of the country - back to Strangeways Prison in Manchester , England . However , again - he did'nt stay long !

The IRA organised a 'jailbreak' from Strangeways Prison on 20th October 1919 - six prisoners , including Piaras Beaslai and Austin Stack , were free again . Incidentally (another 'tangent...' !) , when Piaras Beaslai was 'arrested' by the Brits for the first time in 1919 (ie in March) , he was succeeded as Editor of 'An tOglach' by Ernest Blythe , TD (in the First Dail , 32-County body) for North Monaghan , and Minister for Trade and Commerce .

Blythe , a Northern Protestant , had some experience in editing a newspaper - with Michael Collins .......

(MORE LATER).


WHERE MOUNTAINY MEN HAVE SOWN :

war and peace in rebel Cork ,
in the turbulent years 1916-21.

By Micheal O'Suilleabhain : published 1965.

RAIDS.......

".......two lorries of British Auxiliaries were on their way ; 'Mick the Soldier' and myself were knocking on doors , warning our friends and comrades to make themselves scarce . Dannie Sheehan's shop was open , and his wife was sitting by the fire ...... "


" Tadhg Buckley had just entered as we reached the shop doorway - " How are you Tadhg , " said Mrs. Sheehan . " I am the happiest man in the world , " said Tadhg , " until I hear the sound of a lorry ! " " Tadhg , " I spoke sharply , " get out now . "

He turned quickly and made a dash through the doorway ; just outside was a large polished limestone slab and Tadhg's heels , to use a local expressive saying , " went from under him " on the polished surface and he came down with a crash . ' Mick the Soldier ' found time for a burst of immoderate laughter , while poor Tadhg quickly regained his feet and , crossing the road, disappeared over the meadow fence .

We hastened along past Johnson's Forge until we reached the point where the fence of the Brewery Field joined that of the road at right angles . Here we left the road and slipped along by that fence on the side remote from the village . Reaching a certain point , we stopped to reconnoitre ; we heard a noise on the other side of the fence - my uncle and Jerrick Sheehan were just taking up a position with their backs to the fence , and to us : Jerrick spoke - " Do bheirim o'n diol , Dan , I brought my pint with me . Ould soldier , boy ! " he said in triumph .

A row of strong furze bushes grew along the top of the fence ; raising our heads cautiously , we were just in time to see Jerrick place his pint on a flat stone between two of the thick stems of the bushes then , turning his back on it , he leaned against the fence with my uncle . Both remained silent as they gazed towards the village , listening for sounds of enemy activity , not realising we were only feet away from them . Behind them we stood motionless , leaning slightly forward on the fence . My companion , 'Mick the Soldier' had his eyes firmly fixed on Jerrick's pint ......."

(MORE LATER).


TINKER , TAILOR , HIGH RISK SPY .
By Frank Doherty .

First published in ' New Hibernia ' magazine , May 1987 , pages 7 , 8 and 9 .
Re-produced here in 11 parts .
(1 of 11.)

It was mid-afternoon , late March . A small , fat man with thick spectacles and darting eyes swayed back from the urinal in The Highwayman Lounge Bar , in Comber , County Down , nodding , smiling , flashing at each lone customer who arrived to relieve his bladder . His breathlessness was due as much to excitement as to his chain-smoking and asthma , for he was playing a game as dangerous as it was 'exciting' : Maurice Oldfield was engaged in what the homosexual fraternity call " cottaging " - and what police call " importuning " .

It was a game which he played regularly ; several times a week he would climb into his official car at Stormont Castle , where he had an apartment and office , and be driven four miles to The Culloden Hotel outside Hollywood and , having dismissed his driver/bodyguard , he would order a taxi to take him to Bangor , five miles away , from there he would pick up another cab to take him on one of his excursions into the Ards Peninsula or East Down .......

(MORE LATER).






Monday, September 13, 2004

'TAN WAR' REPUBLICAN NEWSPAPER - 'An tOglach' , 1918-1921.......

.......a commemorative pamphlet was issued in memory of Austin Stack (with whom 'An tOglach' Editor , Piaras Beaslai , had shared prison space with in Strangeways Prison in Manchester) who died on 27th April , 1929 .......


' Fittingly , the question - 'What is a Republican? ' fails to be answered in our memorial number for Austin Stack , a man who bore and dared and suffered , remaining through it all and at the worst , the captain of his own soul . What then was Austin Stack , Republican ? A great lover of his country . A man without a crooked twist in him . One who thought straight , acted straight , walked the straight road unflinchingly and expected of others that they should walk it with him , as simply as he did himself .

No man could say or write of him - " He had to do it ..." . That plea of the slave was not his . His duty , as conscience and love dictated , he did . The force of England , of the English Slave State , might try coercion , as they tried it many times : it made no difference . He went his way , suffered their will , and stood his ground doggedly , smiling now and again . His determination out-stood theirs , because it had a deeper foundation and a higher aim .

Compromise , submission , the slave marks , did not and could not exist for him as touching himself , or the Cause for which he worked and fought , lived and died . '

However , I digress ('tangents' again !) - the Editor of 'An tOglach' , Piaras Beaslai , was once again 'arrested' by the Brits , in March 1919 (under the 'DORA' legislation) and locked-up in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin ; but he did'nt stay long .......

(MORE LATER).


WHERE MOUNTAINY MEN HAVE SOWN :

war and peace in rebel Cork ,
in the turbulent years 1916-21.

By Micheal O'Suilleabhain : published 1965.

RAIDS.......

".......it was a harvest evening in 1920 - a dangerous time for us , as the British Auxiliaries went raiding and searching local villages ......."


" Myself and 'Mick the Soldier' had just finished our tea when the furious gallop of a horse sent us running out of doors ; my mother stood at the gate , and the three of us saw a rider on a heavy awkward horse down the steep hill from Caherdaha . Stones and sparks flew from under his thick hairy fetlocks - his hooves tore the road as he was pulled up . The rider was Jim Lehane of Coolierach , an IRA Volunteer , and he told us he was bringing the horse to the forge when two British Army lorries began to climb the long steep hill of Caherdaha behind him .

Jim had urged the horse to the utmost , first uphill , next for two hundred yards on the level , and finally downhill steeply for two hundred yards to our gate . He quickly told us the news and galloped off ; my mother went into the house while we went down to the Cross , to warn anyone who might be in Den's pub at the corner or in Dannie Sheehan's shop . We first looked into the bar - it was empty , and we ran out again and , as we passed along the front of the pub , I got a notion : running to the kitchen window , I seized the lower sash and, raising it , put in my head and shoulders . In the dim light I could see my uncle Dan and Jerrick Sheehan , an ex-British soldier , sitting at the fire . Two full pints stood near them ; Jerrick had been working with my uncle , and both had just come for a drink after the day's labour .

" Clear out the back , and through the Brewery field - now ! " They did not question my unceremonious order , but got busy - I noticed that while my uncle left his pint , Jerrick brought his swiftly but very carefully along . He did not catch the glass by the middle , but from above, with all his fingers around the top .

Dannie Sheehan's shop-door stood wide open ; his wife sat by the fire ......."

(MORE LATER).


DEATH OF A BUTCHER .
(No By-Line)
First published in 'IRIS' magazine , March 1983 , Number 5 , page 42.

Re-published here in six parts .
[6 of 6].

Immediately on his release in August 1982 , having served six years of a twelve-year sentence (with full remission) , Lennie Murphy set about regaining control of the UVF and reforming a murder gang on the lines of the ' Shankill Butchers ' . Between August 1982 and his execution in November 1982 , Murphy was known to have been behind the killing of Brian Smith , a UVF dissident , on September 5th , 1982.

He was also involved in the brutal murder of a west-Belfast Catholic , Joseph Donegan , who was kidnapped on October 22nd 1982 . The killing of Donegan , however , was probably Lennie Murphy's last ; for , on November 16th , 1982 , the IRA caught up with him , and then , for him , as for his unfortunate victims - there was no escape .

[END of ' DEATH OF A BUTCHER....... '].
(Tomorrow - ' TINKER , TAILOR , HIGH RISK SPY ' : 'Sir' Maurice Oldfield .)