" 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.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015



'Glaine 'nar gcroi – Purity in our hearts. Neart 'nar ngeaga – Strength in our arms. Beart do reir ar mbriathar – Truth on our lips : Na Fianna Éireann, 1909 to date.

On the evening of Friday October 6th 1922, a young Dublin lady, Jennie O'Toole - a member of Cumann na mBan - was pasting republican leaflets on lamp posts on the Clonliffe Road in Drumcondra, Dublin and, when she got near the Distillery Road junction, she was shouted at repeatedly and verbally abused by a local man when he saw the nature of the material involved. That loudmouth was, according to information distributed in Irish republican circles at the time, Free State Army Captain Pat Moynihan, who lived on that same road. Moynihan, an Irish republican 'poacher-turned-gamekeeper', could very well have been watching that street as two of his nieces were expected home on that route from a date to a theatre which they had been on with two anti-republican State operatives, Nicholas Tobin and Charlie Dalton, who both worked for the Free State Army Intelligence Section at Wellington Barracks. When Charlie Dalton was the same age as one of the NFE youths mentioned in this piece - Joseph Rogers (16) - he was recruited by Michael Collins and joined the squad that Collins was then assembling : this IRA unit was permanently housed in Abbey St, Dublin, in a 'front' premises in which a 'legitimate' business operated from - 'George Moreland, Cabinet Maker'- and squad members were paid £4 10s a week to carry out assassinations on a full-time basis. Shortly after his 17th birthday, as a member of that Squad, Charlie Dalton took part in the executions of British Army Major C M Dowling and British Army Captain Leonard Price in their bedrooms in Baggot Street.

The distressed young lady, Jennie, encountered three young lads, members of Na Fianna Éireann, who offered to take over the work : Edwin Hughes (17), who lived at 107 Clonliffe Road, Drumcomdra, Brendan Holohan (17), 49 St.Patrick’s Road, Drumcondra and Joseph Rogers (16), 2 Upper St.Patrick’s Road, Drumcondra. It appears to be the case that Free State Captain Moynihan met Nick Tobin and Charlie Dalton and told them that republicans were in the area, pasting leaflets, and that Tobin and Dalton contacted a near-by Free State Army barracks for a search party and arranged to meet them in the area. Dalton could very well have known who he was hunting, as young Brendan Holohan and Joseph Rogers were near-neighbours of his and the nature of his job would have dictated that he familarise himself with local Republican activists.

The three young boys were still pasting leaflets on poles on that route which took them in the vicinity of Free State Captain Pat Moynihan's house when, shortly after 10.30pm on that Friday night, a Free State Army truck screeched to a halt beside them and they were violently thrown in to the back of it and taken to Wellington Barracks, where they were interrogated and released. Their Free State captors included Charlie Dalton and Nick Tobin. The next day - Saturday 7th October 1922 - the three young lads were lifted again by the Free Staters and soon found themselves standing in waste ground just off the Naas Road in an area known then as 'The Quarries', in Clondalkin, Dublin (near to the Naas Road/Monastery Road junction) : each of them was riddled with bullets and had a coup de grâce delivered to 'finish the job' - a shot to the head. The youngest of the three lads, 16-years-old Joseph Rogers, was the son of well know Dublin Bookmaker Mr. Thomas Rodgers and had served two years of his apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer. The remains of Edwin Hughes (17) was identified by his older brother, Gerald, 17-year-old Brendan Holohan's body was identified by his father Michael and Joseph Rogers (16) was identified by his older brother, Michael.

At the inquest, Dr Frederick Ryan, who performed the post mortem, described the wounds that killed them ; "Joseph Rogers' overcoat was saturated with blood. He had 16 wounds altogether. There was an entrance wound in the back of the skull, about an inch and a half from the ear. There was no exit wound. It was possible for a man to inflict this wound while both were standing. There was no singeing. In the left upper jaw there was an entrance wound, but no corresponding exit wound. There were superficial wounds on the left side of the body corresponding to the nipple, on the left side of the abdomen, a punctured wound on the left side of the nose, an entrance and exit wound at the base of the left index finger, superficial wounds on the left arm, an entrance and exit wound in the middle of the left thigh, a large contused wound on the left shin bone, and an incised wound on the left knee, probably caused after death. Regarding Brendan Holohan there was a bullet hole through the peak of his cap, but no mark on his head. The coat was torn on the right elbow, and there was a wound through the flesh of the arm, corresponding with the perforation in the sleeve. There were two entrance wounds, four inches from each other, in the right chest...(but no exit wounds). They were clean cut, such as might be made by an instrument of the same diameter as a pencil. The clothing was perforated at the place corresponding with these wounds. There was a wound over the right shoulder blade, which was an old one. There was an entrance wound in the lower portion of the abdomen, and a bullet lodged in the surface over the left hip bone and the shin. There was a wound in the back of the skull in the occipital protuberance, which took a downward direction into the neck and severed the spinal cord. This was sufficient to cause death immediately. If a man was standing on top of a ditch he could have been shot in the head, otherwise he must have been lying down."

In the case of Edwin Hughes (17), he said "The first wound, on the right-hand side corresponding to the second rib, took a horizontal direction and pierced the great vessels of the heart. There was no exit wound to it. There was no singeing. Another bullet pierced the overcoat on the right side, but there was no mark on the inner coat or vest. There were wounds in the abdomen and on the left thigh. On the right knee and right arm there were superficial wounds, such as might be caused by grazing bullets. The clothes were cut as if by barbed wire. The abdomen wound might possibly be caused by a prod of some instrument, but that was not probable."

But this crime did not go unnoticed - Dermot MacGiolla Phadraig, a Na Fianna Éireann training officer, was passing by the area at the time on Saturday 7th October 1922 and witnessed the executions and a Charles Byrne, an undercover man for the IRA in Oriel House, was also passing by and actually spoke to one of the Free State gunmen, Charlie Dalton and, in November 1922, an inquest was held at which the prosecution demanded that a verdict of murder be brought against Charlie Dalton but, apparently, the jury were 'reminded' by the State that they were living in 'exceptional times' and, following that and possibly other 'reminders', the jury declined to entertain the prosecution. In an effort to suggest that 'justice will be done', Dalton was then 'arrested' by his colleagues in the CID but was never charged with an offence related to the 'Quarrie Killings'. Incidentally, Nick Tobin, one of the Free State 'Quarrie Gunmen', was in charge of a Free State raiding party later on that same month (October 1922) when they went to kill more Republicans who, they were told, were operating an IRA bomb-making factory from house number 8 in Gardiner Place, in Dublin city centre: Nick never made it back to his Free State base that day, having been shot dead by 'accident' by his own colleagues.

The Na Fianna Éireann organisation is still active to this day and, as in 1922, continues to support the republican position : Na Fianna Éireann (literally 'Warriors of Ireland') has had several subtitles in its history ; Irish National Youth Movement, Irish Republican Youth Movement, Irish Republican Scouts etc but its central ethos has never changed. It has always had the object of educating the youth of Ireland in national ideas and re-establishing the independence of the nation. The goal of the organisation on its foundation in 1909 was "...to re-establish the independence of Ireland by means of training the youth of Ireland to fight Ireland’s fight when they are older and the day comes...". Members are trained in scouting skills and parade drill and receive education regarding republicanism and Irish history and heritage. In short, the NFÉ organisation instills a sense of pride, worth and value into those who join - worthy character traits which they carry with them into adulthood.

A video crew from the international 'Vice News' organisation, which has offices throughout Europe and America and "provides an unvarnished look at some of the most important events of our time (and) highlight under-reported stories from around the globe..." was in Dublin over the last few months and recently produced a twenty-minute video on the Na Fianna, which can be viewed here. Finally, if you would like to contribute, financially, to Na Fianna Éireann you can do so care of 223 Parnell Street, Dublin 1. Go raibh maith agat!


Last month, 28 women who protested peacefully in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, against US President Ronald Reagan's visit to Ireland received £1000 each arising from their action for wrongful arrest. Gene Kerrigan recalls the weekend when another State determined Irish security requirements and details the garda action which could cost tens of thousands of pounds. From 'Magill' magazine, May 1987.

Monica Barnes tried to raise the issue of conditions in the Bridewell but was told by the Ceann Comhairle she could not - the Minister for Justice, Michael Noonan, was supposed to reply to the deputies, and he announced that he had read in the newspapers that the women might take legal action. Although the matter was not sub judice , he said, it might become so in the future so it would be "highly undesirable" for him to comment : "I am speaking in the shadow of a legal action".

Noonan would only offer the excuse that since the women were arrested on a Sunday and that the following day was a public holiday "the usual morning sitting of the court did not take place" : the District Court sits every day of the year except Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day, and there is always a court sitting on public holidays, from 10.30am, but neither the Chief Clerk's office nor the office of the President of the District Court have a record of whether the court sat that morning, but did say it would have been highly unusual if it did not.

On Sunday night, June 3rd, however, the gardai at the Bridewell were able to tell the 'Irish Times' newspaper that the women would be brought before the court on Monday afternoon. (MORE LATER).


Ed Moloney speaks to a leading member of the Provisionals who has been authorised to speak on behalf of the (P)IRA Army Council.

From 'Magill' magazine, September 1980.

Ed Moloney : What is the present attitude of the Army Council to 'Éire Nua' and federalism?

IRA : The position of the IRA on federalism is that for a long time we promoted it as the best way of solving the problem by marrying the Unionist tradition to the Irish tradition in a transitional situation. However, within these last number of years and especially since the loyalists started to promote 6 county independence which they had anyway for 50 years we began to examine federalism again and the dangers involved. It wouldn't break the back of loyalism in Ireland and get rid of the bar to solving the national question and opening the possibilities of establishing a democratic socialist republic. What we now advocate is a single national government, but with much decentralisation as possible. On the question of Éire Nua, we totally support the way Sinn Fein is progressing and the way it has handled these problems because certain people do cherish certain ideas and even though there are only minor differences between us, on the majority of points we are agreed.

Ed Moloney :Why did the IRA kill Sir Richard Sykes, the British ambassador to The Hague?

IRA :We have carried out bombings and shootings in Germany over the last two years as well. Last Spring, we executed Sir Richard Sykes. He was involved in intelligence gathering against our organisation, but he was also a leading propagandist in the same way as Peter Jay was in America. Sykes was also the man who conducted the investigation into our attack on the British ambassador to Dublin, Ewart Biggs. Sykes was a very important person. What that and other attacks have shown is the IRA's capability to operate abroad and against the enemy, not the host country, and gained our struggle attention there. (MORE LATER).


James Carey (left), a member of 'The Invincibles' who turned informer on his comrades. And paid the price for doing so...

In November 1881, a group was formed in Dublin with the objective of "removing all the principal tyrants from the country" ; they called themselves 'The Irish National Invincibles' and, within a few months, they were to make world headlines. The group consisted mainly of former Fenians and decided to announce their presence in a dramatic fashion - on May 6th, 1882, they assassinated two of Britains top officials in Ireland : Chief Secretary Lord Frederick Cavendish and Under Secretary Thomas F. Burke in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, just yards from the Viceroy Lodge. The British offered a reward of £1000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible and put their top man in Dublin, Superintendent John Mallon of the 'G Division' of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, on the case. He arrested dozens of 'suspects' and repeatedly questioned those who were known to be in the Phoenix Park that night , but to no avail.

Then, in November 1882, six months after the British lost their men, Superintendent John Mallon arrested a member of the Invincibles, Robert Farrell, and Mallon told him that they knew the identity of those that had carried-out the assassinations and advised Farrell to save himself - this was the same line that those previously arrested had been told but, unfortunately, Robert Farrell fell for it ; within weeks, twenty-six men were arrested. The 'G' man, John Mallon, needed additional witnesses and evidence to build a substantial case against the men and reverted to form - three of the twenty-six men ( Michael Kavanagh , James Carey and his brother, Peter) turned informers. In April 1883, in Green Street Courthouse in Dublin, Judge O'Brien began to hear 'evidence' against thirteen of the men. Five of the men - Joe Brady, Dan Curley , Michael Fagan , Thomas Caffrey and Tim Kelly - received the death sentence and the other eight men were sentenced to long periods of imprisonment (nineteen year-old Tim Kelly faced three 'trials' before eventually being convicted, the jury at the previous 'trials' having failed to agree on a verdict) . Joe Brady, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey, Dan Curley and young Tim Kelly were hanged in Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin between May 14th and June 4th, 1883. One of the informers, James Carey, was shot dead on board the 'Melrose Castle' off Cape Town, South Africa, on his way to Natal to 'begin a new life' with his wife and children, on July 29th, 1883 - 132 years ago on this date - by Donegal-man Patrick O Donnell, who was caught and escorted back to Ireland , where he was executed on December 17th, 1883.

Carey knew he was being hunted by his old comrades and couldn't afford to let his guard down. A member of 'The Invincibles', Patrick O'Donnell, was on the same ship and, on Sunday 29th July 1883, words were exchanged between the two. Carey reportedly drew his revolver but O'Donnell already had his in hand and fired a shot at Carey, hitting him in the neck. Carey turned to flee and O'Donnell fired again, hitting the informer in the back, and fired again for good measure. Carey died and O'Donnell was arrested on board the ship, then held in British custody. His 'trial' (all two hours of it) was held at the 'Old Bailey' in London on the 30th November 1883, in front of Judge George Denman, a Liberal politician known to be in favour of public executions. Pat O'Donnell was found guilty of 'wilful murder', despite having the best defence team that money could buy - his supporters had raised and spent about fifty-five thousand dollars on legal representation for him, but then, as now, the British wanted their 'pound of flesh'. And they got it on the 17th December 1883 when they executed Patrick O'Donnell.

My name is Pat O’Donnell I was born in Donegal

I am you know a deadly foe to traitors one and all

For the shooting of James Carey I was tried and guilty found

And now upon the scaffold high my life I must lay down.

I sailed on board the ship Melrose in August ’83

James Carey was on board the ship but still unknown to me

When I found out he was James Carey we had angry words and blows

The villain swore my life to take on board the ship Melrose.

I stood a while in self defence to fight before I’d die

My loaded pistol I pulled out at Carey I let fly

I gave to him a second one which pierced him through the heart

I let him have a third volley before he did depart.

Then Mrs Carey came running up to the cabin where he lay

O’Donnell you shot my husband Mrs Carey she did say

O’Donnell you shot my husband Mrs Carey loud did cry

I only stood in self defence kind madame answered I.

The captain had me handcuffed and in strong irons bound

He gave me up as prisoner when we landed in Capetown

They turned me back to London my trial for to stand

And the prosecutors for the crown were Carey’s wife and son.

To all the evidence they swore I said it was a lie

The jury found me guilty and the judge he did reply

You’ll never more see Erin’s shore O’Donnell you must die

On the 17th of December upon the scaffold high.

If I had been a free man could live another year

All traitors and informers I would make them shake with fear

Saint Patrick drove the serpents from the our holy sainted land

I’d make them run before me like the hare before the hound.

Farewell to dark old Donegal the place where I was born

And likewise to the United States which ne’er was known for scorn

And twice farewell to old Gráinne Mhaol with her fields and valleys green

For never more around Erin’s shore Pat O’Donnell will be seen.


The British dismissed the rebels as "a farce" and sneered at the attempt to challenge their hold on Ireland. But while they sneered, the Irish were learning from the failure...

Ireland, 1848 - the third successive year of the potato blight ; man-made 'famine' had put approximately one-and-a-half million men, women and children in early graves, and forced about another two million Irish people to emigrate (of whom thousands died in passage to America and Canada) . However : the incident that this article is about - the Uprising of July 29th, 1848 - had its roots two years earlier, in July 1846. Daniel O'Connell's 'Loyal National Repeal Association' was simmering with discontent - not all in the leadership, or membership, agreed with O'Connell that "Irish independence was not worth the spilling of one drop of human blood .....". Then, as now, the British were not shy about who's blood they spilled in their 'conquests' and in holding on to the 'spoils' of same and, also, then as now, not all Irish men and women were against 'fighting fire with fire'.

Even when Irish violence was to be employed in self-defence, Daniel O'Connell's 'Loyal National Repeal Association' was against it ; this led to tension within that organisation, and a 'split' developed - those that left included William Smith O'Brien (a Member of the British Parliament, Harrow-educated, with an accent to match!) , Thomas Francis Meagher and John Mitchel - a new group was established ; 'The Young Irelanders', and they outlined their position in their newspaper,'The United Irishman' - a call for immediate armed revolt against the British. Westminster was alarmed ; the 'Paris Revolution', which had taken place that February (1848) must have helped to put the final 'wind' up Westminster, as they moved quickly - John Mitchel was accused of writing "wild and menacing words" and was arrested by the British. In April 1848, the 'Treason Felony Act' had been introduced, followed by the suspension of 'Habeas Corpus' on July 25th that same year. William Smith O'Brien recognised that the British were 'battening down the hatches' - with John Mitchel in a British prison, he was in command ; he called for an immediate rising against the British. A 'War Council' was appointed (as was a 'Provisional Government of Ireland') comprising William Smith O'Brien, Thomas Francis Meagher and John Blake Dillon ; the latter was to come to the fore in the late 1870's when, as a member of the 'Irish National Land League' (which was formed in 1879 to protect the Irish 'tenantry' against the abuses of British 'landlords') he led a campaign against a British 'landlord' who was buying-up lands from which Irish 'peasants' had been evicted. As a result, a new word was to enter the English language ; 'boycott'.

At a meeting in July 1848 at Ballinkeale, County Wexford, it was agreed that a 'Provisional Government of Ireland' would be established, to operate from Kilkenny. The Young Irelanders 'War Council' sent its people out to all districts in the South of Ireland to organise any local resistance groups and to make a reconnaissance of enemy strength and movement. But the timing was wrong - the blight that became known as 'The Great Famine' (sic) was on the land ; the potato disease first hit, that time, in 1845 and, by 1846, every county on the island had been struck by it, with three-quarters of the potato crop destroyed. Typhus fever, diarrhoea, cholera and dysentery followed. It was in this atmosphere that the Irish rebels were attempting to organise a military challenge against British mis-rule in Ireland. But the RIC - 'the eyes and ears of Westminster' - had their informers at work against the 'Young Irelanders'. Westminster was made aware that armed men and women were gathering in Ballingarry, County Tipperary, and that William Smith O'Brien, James Stephens and Terence Bellew McManus were in that town, organising the insurgents. A patrol of forty-six RIC men, from Callan in County Kilkenny, were the first to arrive in Ballingarry on that day, the 29th July, 1848 (167 years ago,on this date) knowing that more British Crown re-inforcements were on the way. However, on seeing a rebellious crowd of about one-hundred people, armed with firearms and/or pikes, the RIC decided to retreat until their re-inforcements arrived ; but the Irish rebels had seen them and, as the RIC mob quickly headed out of the town, they were followed closely by the insurgents. The British 'policemen' headed east out of Ballingarry and took refuge in a two-storey grey-stone farmhouse on the top of a small hill (the house now boasts a plaque above its door, inscribed 'Remember 1848', and is known locally as 'The War House') .

At that time, a British 'warrant' had been issued for the arrest of William Smith O'Brien and, in all probability, the RIC detatchment from Callan, Kilkenny, were out to prove to their British paymasters that they were a trust-worthy bunch of loyal serfs, and decided that, by putting down a rebel rising and 'arresting' a wanted man, they could prove their worth to the Crown. But they were out-numbered by the rebels by about two-to-one, so they fled - but couldn't escape their pursuers. They forced their way into a house owned by the Widow McCormick, who was not at home at the time. But her five children were. An RIC Inspector, followed by about forty-five of his men, ran into the house shouting "British Grenadiers! British Grenadiers!" They then proceeded to thrash the dwelling, ignoring the cries of the children, and used what little furniture there was, and the debris they created, to block the doors and windows. On being told that there were five children in the siege house, rebel leader William Smith O'Brien offered the RIC hostage-takers the opportunity to surrender, making it clear that they would only lose their weapons, not their lives. But the offer was rejected. The RIC contingent inside the house realised that the rebels would not attack as long as the McCormick children remained in the house and they also knew that their RIC colleagues were on the way - so they 'got brave', refusing to release the child hostages or surrender. Trapped in a house, surrounded by their enemy, yet safe from attack. They cleared window-space in the house and readied their rifles and fired a volley at the rebels, killing two and wounding about a dozen. The McCormick children were by now hysterical, the rebels were in disarray as they couldn't attack but were under fire, and were about to be surrounded themselves : British Crown re-inforcements had arrived. They had to flee, and headed for the countryside. William Smith O'Brien, Terence Bellew MacManus and Thomas Francis Meagher were captured within days and sentenced to death by the British, but the sentences were later commuted (in June, 1849) to transportation for life to Tasmania.

Other leaders of the failed 1848 Rising - John O'Mahony, James Stephens and John Blake Dillon - escaped capture and left the country. John O'Mahony went to America and was one of the founders in that country of the American Fenian Brotherhood (or 'Clann na Gael', referred to in Ireland as 'The Organisation' or the 'IRB') , while James Stephens made it safely to Paris, France and, that being the time of Louis Napoleon, made contact with several 'secret societies' which existed in France at that time. Incidentally, eight years later (ie in 1856) , James Stephens was to go on a 3,000-mile 'tour' of Ireland, mostly on foot, organising opposition to British mis-rule in Ireland. On Saint Patricks Day in 1858 (17th March), James Stephens was one of those who took an Oath, in Dublin, "...in the presence of God, to renounce all allegiance to the Queen of England, and to take arms and fight at a moments warning to make Ireland an independent Democratic Republic, and to yield implicit obedience to the Commanders and Superiors of this Secret Society." That 'Secret Society' was the Irish Republican Brotherhood. James Stephens had learned of a better way in which to organise a secret society - his 'stay' in France had been spent studying the structures of anti-government organisations there, and the IRB (Ireland) and the Fenian Brotherhood (America) were established to consist of 'closed circles', in which one member was allowed to know only one other member of any other 'circle', and all 'business' was to be conducted in public venues ie bars, restaurants, sporting events etc instead of holding same, as had been done, in a room in an hotel or in a members house. The new system worked - only months after its inception (ie towards the end of 1858) a young man named Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa, who worked for the Irish Republican Brotherhood, was caught in Cork with three or four other men, whom the RIC alleged were acting suspicious ; it was actually a 'swearing-in' ceremony which the RIC had discovered but, due to their lack of information (their informers knew nothing about it) the RIC let the men go, believing, as they were told by O'Donovan Rossa, that the group were discussing the possible establishment of a political grouping, to be called ' The Phoenix Society'!

However - the failed 'Young Ireland' rising of 1848, which began on July 29th that year, was dismissed by the British as 'a farce' but it was what came from the attempted rising that was to prove the British wrong in their description ; Westminster derisively described that attempted rising as "the battle of the Widow MacCormicks cabbage garden", but the fact that armed British military personnel practically kidnapped five Irish children that day, and held them hostage to save their own skins, was not talked about. The British would prefer that each Irish rising, each rebellion, should be dismissed as 'a farce', as the actions of an unrepresentative few 'malcontents'. That is, after all, how the 'Empire' was built and maintained ; and, for our part, this 'weblog' has no hesitation at all in cheering on those 'malcontents'!


Catherine Byrne (linked, above) didn't lick it off a stone, as we say here. The following information was recently collated by the 'RTE Investigations Unit' and was published in various outlets, including 'The Clondalkin Echo' (16th July 2015, P24).

Between March 2011 and December 2014 (inclusive) , if his two political pensions and two political lump sums had been paid weekly, Bertie Ahern would have pocketed €3947 a week, each week, for the 184 weeks mentioned above. But he didn't take his 'State entitlements' in that manner - in 2011 he was given a 'termination lump sum' of €16,404 and then a second amount of €159,873, on top of his weekly ministerial pension of €1690 which was paid to him on top of his Leinster House pension of €1110 a week! He obviously has a big biscuit tin.

If Brian Cowen had taken his 'political financial entitlements' for that same 184-week period on a weekly basis, he would have pocketed €3947 a week as well, every week but, like Ahern, he took two lump sums up front as well as pocketing the proceeds of two State political pensions each week. If he hasn't got a bank account to hold his fortune in, no doubt someone else is to blame!

If Mary Harney had taken her political retirement 'entitlements' on a weekly basis over the same 184-week period, she would have received €3518 each week but, like Bertie and Brian, she didn't, but she still managed to collect a total of €647,406 over that period. And I bet not one of the three of them spared a thought for the less well-off among us like, for instance, Fianna Fáil's Michael Woods : his 'entitlements' over the same period would have seen him collect €3440 a week had he not been given that €632,967 in a different manner.

I also have the figures relating to political payouts collected by Dermot Ahern, Mary O'Rourke, Rory O'Hanlon and John O'Donoghue, but I haven't got enough zero's left on my keyboard to write them here. But the money involved was well worth collecting, even though those collecting it were not, and are not - in my opinion - worth the money.


'The report says: "We used to have a great sport in India going out after crocodiles with Hindu babies for bait..." ...and details that the parents of the babies were paid six cents per day and that sometimes, the parents would not even insist that the babies were returned safely. The officer also claimed that with one particular baby girl as bait, he had shot 100 crocodiles and that it was not possible to follow the same practice in Florida, in the United States, during the same period....several newspapers such as The Red Cloud Chief, The Helena Independent, Desert Evening News (and the) Roanoke Times referred to an advertisement titled 'Babies wanted for crocodile bait. Will be returned alive', which was published in a Sri Lankan newspaper named Ceylon Catholic Messenger....accounts in various newspapers indicate that the British thought that the crocodiles were attracted to the brown skin of the babies and were attracted to the shore by their cries. After shooting the reptile, the hunter would take possession of the skin and head and leave the rest of the flesh for the local people. One newspaper said: 'The baby is taken home to its loving parents, to be used for the same purpose the next day.' British colonialists also followed a similar practice in the United States where the babies of African-Americans were used as late as the early 20th century to hunt for crocodiles. A headline in the Oakland Tribune published on September 21, 1923 read 'Pickaninny bait lures voracious gator to death'. The report says that the babies of black parents were used as live bait for two cents. 'Pickaninny' is a derogatory term for blacks....'
Very interesting 'Twitter' site here which highlights some of the crimes against humanity which were committed by the British and which explains their arrogance to this day. If at any time in their sordid history they ever managed to temporarily leave the sewer they only ever got as far as the Sewel. The world would be a better place for their absence.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015



Fine Gael's Catherine Byrne (left, )- receives obscene amounts of money from the public purse and has the cheek to try and lecture the public on how to spend the pittance they are left with after taxes!

'She knows nothing; and she thinks she knows everything. That points clearly to a political career' (- with apologies to GBS!) .

'While Catherine Byrne was voting for health cuts, eviction, water charges and austerity...(she) terrorised the public purse for the disgusting amount of €451,223.13c between the general election in March 2011 and the end of July 2014...' (from here).

And 'terrorise the public purse' she certainly does : in 2011, this woman took home €2387 a week, comprised of her weekly salary of €1812 from Leinster House and an extra €575 a week in 'expenses and allowances'.

The following year, 2012, the lady obviously realised that she was short-changing herself and, on top of her wage of €1812 a week she upped her 'expenses and allowances' to €899 a week, 'earning' a combined total of €2711 a week.

In 2013, perhaps thinking that whereas she had underpaid herself in 2011, she might have overpaid herself in 2012, she landed bravely on the middle ground - €2566 a week, comprising her €1812 weekly wage and 'expenses and allowances' of €754 a week. That's called 'taking a hit for the team'.

Last Year (2014), she not only 'took a hit for the team' again, but became a martyr for the cause - the lady managed to eke out a living of sorts on just €2166 a week (comprising her weekly wage of €1812 and 'expenses and allowances' of €354 a week). This is the same women who stated (above link) - "I go to the shopping centre at the weekend like most normal people (and) I try my best with my budget to fill it out and get what I need..." "Normal people" in this State would be doing well to be on over €2000 a month, never mind a week and those that are fortunate enough to be on the money that Catherine Byrne is on would not be complaining about budget constraints like she is. I reckon it's a ploy on her behalf to soften us up in preparation for later on when her 2015 'earnings' become public! ('1169' comment - the above amounts were arrived at from figures published in 'The Clondalkin Echo' newspaper, 9th July 2015, page 20.)


Last month, 28 women who protested peacefully in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, against US President Ronald Reagan's visit to Ireland received £1000 each arising from their action for wrongful arrest. Gene Kerrigan recalls the weekend when another State determined Irish security requirements and details the garda action which could cost tens of thousands of pounds. From 'Magill' magazine, May 1987.


John Kelly, Fine Gael TD (sic) spent much of his speech in Leinster House praising the gardai and assuring the Dáil (sic) of what he called his 'bona fides' before he got to the point, and mentioned in passing the subordination of the Garda Siochana to the US Secret Service - "What appeared to be a large portion of their normal peace-keeping and security enforcing duties were appropriated, by what authority I am not clear, by a police force or a security force for which no one in this country was responsible."* He was immediately warned off this issue by Ceann Comhairle, Tom Fitzpatrick.

Kelly pointed out that "the greatest principle of criminal procedure" is that an accused be brought before a judicial authority (a judge or peace commissioner) where it will be decided whether the accused will be granted bail or remanded in custody. Pointing out that the maximum penalty which could be imposed on the women, had they been found guilty, would have been a £5 fine, he said "there is some explaining to be done, and I do not mean of the police, but more generally on the part of the State, if we have a legal system which makes it possible for people to be held in custody for so long when the maximum charge on which they can be convicted is such a trivial one, carrying such a trivial fine."

He referred to suspicions that the object of the exercise "was to keep those women on ice until such time as the President of America should have left this country." Some people, he said, might consider such protestors a pain in the neck : "In many ways they are a pain in the neck to me too but next time, Sir, it could be you or me. Unless we stand up for the people who are a nuisance** it could be our turn next."

(* '1169' comment : strange how Mr. Kelly or his political party never once complained about, or objected to, the fact that, less than 90 miles from where he spoke, a so-called " police/security force" from an outside source were appropriating "peace-keeping and security enforcing duties" which should be carried out, if at all, by Irish agencies// ** the real "nuisance" was Reagan and the administration in this corrupt State which allowed him to land here in the first place.) (MORE LATER).


Ed Moloney speaks to a leading member of the Provisionals who has been authorised to speak on behalf of the (P)IRA Army Council.

From 'Magill' magazine, September 1980.

Ed Moloney : Does the IRA intend to retaliate against loyalists for recent attacks on republicans and in particular the killings of John Turnly and Miriam Daly?

IRA : Firstly, the majority of people assassinated by loyalists have been totally innocent catholics. This year they have attempted a certain degree of discrimination. They have attacked republicans and also fellow protestants, close to the Irish nationalists tradition, in an attempt to provoke the IRA into blind or frustrated retaliation. We have absolutely no intentions of getting involved in such a war. They distract the IRA from attacks on Crown forces and help the British to foster the idea of being brokers between two factions. That's not to say that we wouldn't take retaliatory action against loyalists we knew were specifically in the UVF or UDA, and were in an influential position with regard to these attacks.

Ed Moloney : British undercover surveillance has been responsible for a number of recent arrests of IRA teams in transit this year. How badly does their activity affect the IRA?

IRA : The British are very good at undercover work. This is what they are into now. Nevertheless, we are totally satisfied that we know why our active service units are caught. While the British are good, we always know where they operate and why they operate. Because the population is hostile to them and sympathetic to us, they tell us about them. They're not that effective, but they're a hindrance and they probably perceive their role as that. (MORE LATER).


...'born', that is, from an organisation that was 'conceived' in February 1900 - the British 'Labour Representation Committee', a group of like-minded working-class activists who agreed to "...embrace a readiness to cooperate with any party which for the time being may be engaged in promoting legislation in the direct interests of labour.." . The formation of such a group, at that particular time, was a daring move in itself, a challenge to the 'Establishment' (a trait lacking in the British Labour Party today which, in our opinion, is actually part of that 'Establishment) ; the 'Combinations of Workman Act 1825' effectively made trade unionism illegal in that it was an Act of the British Parliament which declared that it was practically 'treasonous' for any trade union organisation to seek improved working conditions for its members, outlawing the right to strike and giving employers the power to jail 'offenders' for 3 months for having 'interfered with commerce and trade'.

Workers and their trade union representatives fought back as best they could, but it seems that both sides were reluctant to fully 'test the waters' regarding the 'Combination Act'. This scenario was brought to a head by the actions of management in the Taff Vale Railway Company, in Wales, where 1,327 workers ('Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants' [ASRS] union members) went on strike in August 1900 for better pay and to have their union properly recognised by the company, which hired scab workers (from the so-called 'National Free Labour Association') and evicted striking workers and their families from the cottages they were renting from the job.

The strike only lasted for about two weeks, as the company was continuing to trade but the workers were suffering more than they could endure - they reluctantly agreed to go back to work on the understanding that they could have their jobs back, with nothing else being offered. However, during those two weeks, the company began legal action against the ASRS under the 'Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act of 1875' for financial reimbursement and the union tried to defend itself by claiming that as it was not a corporation or an individual it should not be held responsible for financial losses caused to the company by the strike action. The company won its case but that decision was overturned on appeal and the issue was then referred to the 'House of Lords' for final adjudication, following which, in 1901, the company emerged as the winner, meaning that picketing could only be carried out in a manner that made it ineffective and trade union funds would be open to the company in question to seek damages from.

It was not until five years later (in 1906) , with the passing of the 'Trade Disputes Act', that this employer-friendly loophole was closed. The only real benefit (and, believe it or not, it was actually seen as such at the time!) was that the dispute concentrated the minds of trade unionists to the extent that, in 1906, the 'Labour Representation Committee' reformed itself as 'The Labour Party'. And it has been operating since then, just like its 'sister' grouping in this State, as a political vehicle on the back of which careerists can forge a path to a political pension for themselves. And to hell with the workers except, of course, at election time!


The Reverend William Archibald Spooner and his wife, Frances Wycliffe Spooner : the poor woman must have been driven to distraction by being married to such a brilliant, but 'absent-minded', man!

This 'On This Date' post is not one of our usual offerings, but we couldn't let the 22nd July pass without mentioning one of the most academically-sharpest minds that we have encountered on our internet 'travels' - William Archibald Spooner, born in London, England, to William and Jane Lydia, on this date (22nd July) in 1844.

As far as we can ascertain, he did not involve himself in Irish republican issues either here or in England but deserves a wee mention for his many other achievements and on the manner in which he propagated his knowledge to his students - he was born an albino and, as such, his eyesight was extremely limited, but that didn't stop him from living a full life. He was a father to seven children, an Anglican priest and a scholar who studied at New College in Oxford, where he eventually lectured for about 60 years, on a range of subjects including history, philosophy, divinity and Aristotle's Ethics.

By all accounts, William was a gentle, humble man who was known to be kindhearted, and his acquaintances found it easy to forgive him his absent-mindedness : it seems that his intellect and ability to visualise what it was he wanted to say outpaced his physical ability to actually say it - he inadvertently placed the initial letter(s) of one word in front of adjoining words, meaning that his tongue couldn't keep up with his thought processes, resulting in many verbal blunders for which he became famous : "Blushing crow" for "crushing blow", "a well-boiled icicle" for "well-oiled bicycle", "I have in my bosom a half-warmed fish" for "I have in my bosom a half-formed wish" (supposedly said in a speech to the British 'Queen', Victoria), and "a toast to our queer dean" instead of "a toast to our dear queen".

On dropping his hat, he is said to have asked "will nobody pat my hiccup?", at a wedding he stated that "it is kisstomary to cuss the bride", on paying a visit to a college official he asked "Is the bean dizzy?", and speaking to farmers he addressed them as "noble tons of soil". He reprimanded a student with the words "You have hissed all my mystery lectures. You have tasted two worms. Pack up your rags and bugs, and leave immediately by the town drain!" - "You have missed all my history lectures. You have wasted two terms. Pack up your bags and rags, and leave immediately by the down [London] train!" and, finally, an Irish connection - he once referenced a famous Irish play as "the Ploughboy of the Western World"!

William Archibald Spooner died in Oxfordshire, England, in his 86th year, on the 29th of August, 1930, and is buried in Grasmere in Cumbria. Or, perhaps, he's crasmered in Gumbria, and, hopefully, pesting in reace!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015



(*Translated by Google!)

"I voted no because I think having our own currency will give us better and more efficient management over our economy. Let’s take Iceland for example. They said no to the IMF, and now after five years, they are the fastest growing economy in Europe. There have been suicides because of how bad things have become. Our previous governments promised us no austerity measures. But then they passed two memorandums and drove us to the worst, favouring the rich and those who have interests against middle class..." (Student George Flamouris,20 - from here.)

"We are not Irish, we do not sacrifice ourselves for the rich..." (from here) - understandable that some Greek people should think like that, but a clarification is needed : it is the majority of the corrupt State and local politicians here that will sacrifice anyone they have to, including those of their own ilk, in order to financially secure their own position in society. Some of us protest continually against the endeavours of those corrupt politicians and should not be included with those here who do indeed 'sacrifice themselves for the rich'. Indeed, not all voters in Greece voted 'NO' and it would be wrong to place those brave 'NO' voters into the same 'camp' as those who voted 'YES' ie those who voted to 'sacrifice themselves for the rich'.

Anyway - once again, congratulations to those who declared, on Sunday 5th July 2015, that they will no longer 'sacrifice themselves for the rich' : if only Irish 'YES' voters had your courage! The Republican Movement here in Ireland issued the following statement in support of those voters who made a stand against big business interests -

Statement from Republican Sinn Féin International Department :

July 5: A good day for Europe.

In a statement, released following the referendum in Greece on the evening of July 5th 2015, the International PRO of Republican Sinn Féin welcomed the NO vote of the Greek people: "The 5th of July will go down in history as a good day for all people of Europe!"

The statement continued: "Today, the people of Greece voted for a new, a social, Europe, in a democratic referendum. Dissatisfaction with the undemocratic, anti-social, and corrupt EU elite in Brussels and the IMF has been growing for years. The Greek people are among the very few people in recent years who had the chance to decide on their future on their own. The victory of the 'NO' campaign is the expression of the will of the people for a better, just, and democratic future. This victory of the 'NO' campaign in Greece can pave the way for a better future for all people of Europe.

Republican Sinn Féin welcomes the decision of the Greek people. We as Irish Republicans are of the opinion that only a complete break with the anti-democratic EU and the establishment of an association of free nations based on the values of prosperity, democracy, justice, solidarity, peace, and equality of all people in Europe will provide a peaceful and prosperous future for us, the people of Europe and the coming generations," the statement of the International PRO of Republican Sinn Féin concluded.


For confirmation: PRO, Republican Sinn Féin International Department, international@rsf.ie

Sinn Féin Poblachtach / Republican Sinn Féin

r-phoist: saoirse@iol.ie / international@rsf.ie

fón: +353 (0) 1 8729747

223 Sráid Pharnell, Baile Átha Cliath 1 / 223 Parnell Street, Dublin 1.



Last month, 28 women who protested peacefully in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, against US President Ronald Reagan's visit to Ireland received £1000 each arising from their action for wrongful arrest. Gene Kerrigan recalls the weekend when another State determined Irish security requirements and details the garda action which could cost tens of thousands of pounds. From 'Magill' magazine, May 1987.

Pat Kenny and the TV crew set out to go to the commentary position but were stopped by a US Secret Service agent : Kenny explained that there were only twenty minutes to airtime and it would be highly embarrassing to everyone if TV screens remained blank during the president's departure, to which the US agent replied- "I have my orders." Pat Kenny's 'Foreign Affairs' friend saw what was happening and intervened, but to no avail. The gardai were sent for, but no dice. The US agent had his orders, he said, from his superior out there on the tarmac.

Stephen Fanning, head of the Special Branch, told the US agent to let Pat Kenny and his TV crew pass through. "I have my orders" , said the agent. Eventually, however, Fanning ordered that the RTE people be let through "on my authority". President Reagan flew out to London at 3.30pm and, back at the District Court, the women were still being processed. They were all released by 4pm.


Over three weeks later - on the 28th June - John Kelly TD (sic) , Fine Gael, raised, in an adjournment debate in the Dáil (sic) , the matter of the Phoenix Park arrests because, on the 19th June, the women had appeared in court to find that the case against them had been dropped - the gardai were offering no evidence.... (MORE LATER).


A picket will be held at the GPO in Dublin on Saturday 11th July 2015, from 12.45pm to 1.45pm, in support of republican prisoners. All genuine activists welcome!


Ed Moloney speaks to a leading member of the Provisionals who has been authorised to speak on behalf of the (P)IRA Army Council.

From 'Magill' magazine, September 1980.

Ed Moloney : What effect did the appointment of Sir Maurice Oldfield as security co-ordinator have on the IRA ? IRA : Well there was a feeling of expectancy whenever Oldfield was appointed ; after all, this was what Thatcher offered after the massive demoralisation on British forces of Warrenpoint and the execution of Mountbatten. Some of us thought internment might come in but instead they produced Oldfield at the time, and we know this, he said that he would have the IRA beaten within six months. Now he's gone without any success except the much lauded detente between the RUC and British Army.

Ed Moloney : What are the reasons for attacks on UDR and ex-UDR men, when most Protestants in the North view those attacks as sectarian?

IRA : In the RUC Constabular gazette of June 1979, they admitted that the UDR and RUC Reserve were the eyes and ears of the Crown forces in the North. We don't shoot anyone because of their religious beliefs. There have even been a few Catholics in the UDR killed by the IRA - there was one killed by a landmine at Castlewellan this year. We have given notice to UDR men that if they contact us and assure us they are no longer members of the UDR we will not touch them. The problem has been because of the difficulties the UDR has in recruiting members because of declining morale - the turnover has been so high and occasionally our intelligence has been mistaken and we have shot by mistake former members. In rural areas, it is the UDR and RUC, not so much the British Army, which is repressing people, so our attacks on them will continue. But nobody can show there is a sectarian pattern to our attacks on the UDR. (MORE LATER).


Patrick Cannon from Dublin and Peter McElchar from Donegal (pictured, left) : both of these IRA Volunteers will be commemorated in Dublin on Wednesday 15th July 2015. Born in Dublin on November 28th 1955 - one of a family of seven (three girls and four boys) - Pat Cannon and his family lived in Edenmore, on the northside of the city. He was a fitter/welder by trade , and was only 20 years of age when he died.


In the Election of 1918 the Irish People, by an overwhelming majority repudiated the claims of England and her parliament to rule them and they established the Irish Republic which was proclaimed in arms in 1916. The Republican Government and State then established were later overthrown by England and the nation was partitioned into two statelets. The cardinal objective of the Irish People is the restoration of the Republic thus unlawfully subverted.

The resurgent confidence of Irish men and women in their own strength and ability to achieve the full freedom of their country and the right of its citizens to live in peace, prosperity and happiness has enabled Sinn Féin to contest all 12 seats in this Election and give an opportunity to our people in the Six Counties to vote for Ireland, separate and free. Sinn Féin candidates are pledged to sit only in a republican Parliament for all Ireland. Apart altogether from the futility of the procedure, sending representatives to an alien legislature is in effect attempting to give it semblance of authority to legislate for and govern the people of North-East Ulster. Sinn Féin candidates seek the votes of the electorate and the support of the Irish people as the representatives of the Republican Movement now on the onward march towards achievement of the National ideal - the enthronement of the Sovereign Irish Republic.

The winning of seats in these elections will not be regarded by Sinn Féin as an end in itself, nor will the results, whatever they be, effect in any way the determination of republicans to forge ahead towards their objective. Neither will the number of votes recorded for the republican candidates be looked upon as something in the nature of a plebiscite affecting in any way the right of Ireland to full and complete freedom. That right is inalienable and non-judicable and must never be put in issue through referendum of a section of population nor of the people of the country at large. Through the medium of the election machinery, Sinn Féin aims at providing an opportunity for the electorate, in all constituencies, and for the people of the country to renew their allegiance to Ireland, and by their support of the republican candidates demonstrate to England and to the world the right of an ancient and historic nation to its complete and absolute freedom and independence.

Sinn Féin has been charged with disruptionist tactics. The aim of Sinn Féin today as always is to secure unity of thought, purpose and deed in the achievement of separate nationhood. Bigotry, persecution and sectarianism have no place in the Sinn Féin programme. Republican policy has ever been to secure civil and religious freedom for the Irish Nation and the individual citizens. Ireland and all its resources belongs to the Irish people. Sinn Féin will, with the consent of the Irish people, organise and develop the resources of the nation for the benefit of its citizens irrespective of class or creed. The continued occupation of Ireland by England makes such development impossible, since England has succeeded in making effective in Ireland the Imperial dictum of 'Divide and Conquer' thereby impoverishing not only the Irish people but the material resources of the country as well. Sinn Féin appeals to all Irishmen to forget all past dissension's and to demonstrate by their support of the Sinn Féin candidates their opposition to English occupation and their determination to achieve National Independence.

Published by Sinn Féin Northern Election Committee, Divis Street, Belfast and printed by the Cromac Printery, Belfast.

The big news of that 1955 election was Sinn Féin's two seats and its 23.6% of the vote. Sinn Féin's two successful candidates in Mid-Ulster and Fermanagh and South Tyrone had been imprisoned for their part in the raid on Omagh. Philip Clarke and Thomas Mitchell were the successful Sinn Féin candidates for Fermanagh and South Tyrone and Mid Ulster respectively. However as they were serving prison sentences they were deemed ineligible to serve in the House of Commons. In that same year - 1955 - a child was born in Dublin on November 28th : he was one of a family of seven (three girls and four boys) and his name was Pat Cannon. He and his family lived in Edenmore, on the northside of Dublin city and he became a fitter/welder by trade. He joined the IRA whilst still a teenager and soon became a trusted member of that organisation....

Republicanism in Ireland in 1976 , the year Pat Cannon died :

March 31st - 'Sallins Train Robbery': A large quantity of money is stolen from a CIE train at Sallins, County Kildare.

July 15th - Four prisoners escape when bombs explode in the Special Criminal Court, Dublin.

July 21st - Christopher Ewart-Biggs, UK ambassador, and a civil servant, Judith Cooke, are killed by a landmine at Sandyford, Co.Dublin.

September 23rd - Free State President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, consults with the Free State Council of State for four hours on whether to refer the 'Emergency Powers Legislation' to the Free State Supreme Court.

October 22th - Free State President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh resigns following the 'thundering disgrace' remark from the Free State Minister for Defence, Paddy Donegan.

12th February - Frank Stagg, Provisional Irish Republican Army hunger striker for 62 days , dies in Wakefield Prison (he was born in 1942).

In July 1976 - 5 months shy of his 21st birthday - IRA Volunteer Pat Cannon and his comrade Peter McElchar from Donegal , set out in a car in which they were transporting an explosive device. They crossed the border from Donegal into Tyrone and were approaching the town of Castlederg when the device exploded prematurely. Peter McElchar was killed instantly and Patrick Cannon was gravely injured. He was taken to Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh. He was being transferred to a hospital in Belfast when he died...

The 39th Anniversary of these two men will be marked by Republican Sinn Féin in a commemoration which will be held in Dublin on Wednesday 15th July 2015 at 6.30pm in the old Balgriffin Cemetery, near the Malahide Road. Those attending by bus from Dublin are advised to get the number 42 from Talbot Street and get off near Campions Pub on the Malahide Road. The assembly point is at the cemetery gates at 6.30pm. All genuine republicans welcome!


IRA Volunteer Joe McDonnell - died on the 8th July 1981 after 61 days on hunger-strike.

The fourth IRA Volunteer to join the hunger-strike for political status was Joe McDonnell, a thirty-year-old married man with two children, from the Lenadoon housing estate in West Belfast. A well-known and very popular man in the greater Andersonstown area he grew up in, he had a reputation as a quiet and deep-thinking individual, with a gentle, happy go-lucky personality, who had, nevertheless, a great sense of humour, was always laughing and playing practical jokes, and who, although withdrawn at times, had the ability to make friends easily.

As an active republican before his capture in October 1976, Joe was regarded by his comrades as a cool and efficient Volunteer who did what he had to do and never talked about it afterwards. Something of a rarity within the Republican Movement, in that outside of military briefings and operational duty he was never seen around with other known or suspected Volunteers, he was nevertheless a good friend of the late Bobby Sands, with whom he was captured while on active service duty. Although he didn't volunteer for the earlier hunger strike in 1980, it was the intense disappointment brought about by British duplicity following the end of that hunger strike and the bitterness and anger that duplicity produced among all the blanket men that prompted Joe to put forward his name the next time round.

And it was predictable, as well as fitting, when his friend and comrade Bobby Sands met with death on the sixty-sixth day of his hunger strike, that Joe McDonnell should volunteer to take Bobby's place and continue that fight. His determination and resolve in that course of action can be gauged by the fact that never once, following his sentencing to fourteen years imprisonment in 1977, did he put on the prison uniform to take a visit, seeing his wife and family only after he commenced his hunger-strike. The story of Joe McDonnell is of a highly-aware republican soldier whose involvement stemmed initially from the personal repression and harassment he and his family suffered at the hands of the British occupation forces, but which then deepened - through continuing repression - to a mature commitment to oppose an occupation that denied his country freedom and attempted to criminalise its people. It was that commitment which he held more dear than his own life.

Joe McDonnell was born on September 14th 1951, the fifth of eight children, into the family home in Slate Street in Belfast's Lower Falls. His father, Robert, a steel erector, and his mother, Eileen (whose maiden name is Straney) , both came from the Lower Falls themselves, and they married in St. Peter's church there, in 1941, living first with Robert's sister and her husband in Colinward Street, off the Springfield Road, before moving into their own home in Slate Street, where the family were all born. A ninth child, Bernadette, was a particular favourite of Joe's, before her death from a kidney illness at the early age of three : "Joseph practically reared Bernadette", recalls his mother, "he was always with the child, carrying her around. He was about ten at the time. He even used to play marleys with her on his shoulders." Bernadette's death, a sad blow to the family, was deeply felt by her young brother Joe.

Joe and his then girlfriend, Goretti, who also comes from Andersonstown, married in St.Agnes' chapel in 1970, and moved in to live with Goretti's sister and her family in Horn Drive in Lower Lenadoon. At that time, however, they were one of only two nationalist households in what was then a predominantly loyalist street, and, after repeated instances of verbal intimidation, in the middle of the night, a loyalist mob - in full view of a nearby British Army post, and with the blessing of the raving Reverend Robert Bradford, who stood by - broke down the doors and wrecked the houses, forcing the two families to leave. The McDonnells went to live with Goretti's mother for a while, but eventually got the chance to squat in a house being vacated in Lenadoon Avenue. Internment had been introduced shortly before, and in 1972 the British army struck with a 4.00 a.m. raid ; Joe was dragged from the house, hit in the eye with a rifle butt and bundled into a British Army jeep. Their house was searched and wrecked. Joe was taken to the prison ship Maidstone and later on to Long Kesh internment camp where he was held for several months. Goretti recalls that early morning as a "horrific" experience which altered both their lives. One minute they had everything, the next minute nothing.

On his release Joe joined the IRA's Belfast Brigade, operating at first in the 1st Battalion's 'A' Company which covered the Rosnareen end of Andersonstown, and later being absorbed into the 'cell' structure increasingly adopted by the IRA. Both during his first period of internment, and his second, longer, internment in 1973, as well as the periods when he was free, the McDonnell's home in Lenadoon was a constant target for British army raids, during which the house would often be torn apart, photos torn up and confiscated and letters from Joe (previously read by the prison censor) re-read by infantile British soldiers, and Goretti herself arrested. In between periods of internment, and before his capture, Joe resumed his trade as an upholsterer which he had followed since leaving school at the age of fifteen. He loved the job, never missing a day through illness, and made both the furniture for his own home as well as for many of the bars and clubs in the surrounding area. His job enabled him to take the family for regular holidays - he took a strong interest in his children, Bernadette, aged ten and Joseph, aged nine, teaching them both to swim, and forever playing football with young Joseph on the small green outside their home - but Joe was a real 'homer' and always longed to be back in his native Belfast ; part of that attraction stemmed obviously from his responsibility to his republican involvement. An active Volunteer throughout the Greater Andersonstown area, Joe was considered a first-class operator who didn't show much fear. Generally quiet and serious while on an operation, whether an ambush or a bombing mission, Joe's humour occasionally shone through. Driving one time to an intended target in the Lenadoon area with a carload of Volunteers, smoke began to appear in the car. Not realising that it was simply escaping exhaust fumes, and thinking it came from the bags containing a number of bombs, a degree of alarm began to break out in the car, but Joe only advised his comrades, drily, not to bother about it: "They'll go off soon enough."

Outside of active service, Joe mixed mostly with people he knew from work, never flaunting his republican beliefs or his involvement, to such an extent that it led some republicans to believe he had not reported back to the IRA on his second release from internment. The British, however, persecuted him and his family continually, with frequent house raids and street arrests. He could rarely leave the house without being stopped for P-checking, or held up for an hour at a roadblock if he had somewhere to go. A few months before his capture, irate British soldiers at a roadblock warned him that they would 'get' him, and they did - his capture took place in October 1976 following a firebomb attack on the Balmoral Furnishing Company in Upper Dunmurray Lane, near the Twinbrook estate in West Belfast.

The IRA had reconnoitred the store, noting the extravagantly-priced furniture it sold, and had selected it as an economic target. The plan was to petrol bomb the premises and then to lay explosive charges to spread the flames. The Twinbrook active service unit led by Bobby Sands was at that time in the process of being built up, and were assisted consequently in this operation by experienced republican Volunteers from the adjoining Andersonstown area, including Joe McDonnell. Unfortunately, following the attack, which successfully destroyed the furnishing company, the escape route of some of the Volunteers involved was blocked by a car placed across the road. During an ensuing shoot-out with the British Army and the RUC, two republicans, Seamus Martin and Gabriel Corbett, were wounded, and four others, Bobby Sands, Joe McDonnell, Seamus Finucane and Sean Lavery, were arrested in a car not far away. Three IRA Volunteers managed to escape safely from the area. A single revolver was found in the car, and at the men's subsequent trial in September 1977 all four received fourteen-year sentences for possession when they refused to recognise the court. Rough treatment during their interrogation in Castlereagh failed to make any of the four sign a statement, and the RUC were thus unable to charge the men with involvement in the attack on the furnishing company despite their proximity to it at the time of their arrest.

From the day he was sentenced Joe refused to put on the prison uniform to take a visit, so adamant was he that he would not be criminalised. He kept in touch instead, with his wife and family, by means of daily smuggled 'communications', written with smuggled-in biro refills on prison issue toilet paper and smuggled out via other blanket men who were taking visits. Incarcerated in H5-Block, Joe acted as 'scorcher' (an anglicised form of the Irish word 'scairt', to shout) shouting the sceal, or news from his block to the adjoining one about a hundred yards away. Frequently this is the only way that news from outside can be communicated from one H-Block to the blanket men in another H-Block. It illustrates well the feeling of bitter determination prevailing in the H-Blocks that Joe McDonnell, who did not volunteer for the hunger strike in 1980 because, he said, "I have too much to live for", should have become so frustrated and angered by British perfidy as to embark on hunger strike on Sunday, May 9th, 1981.

In June 1981, Joe was a candidate during the Free State general election, in the Sligo/Leitrim constituency, in which he narrowly missed election by 315 votes. All the family were actively involved in campaigning for him, and despite the disappointment at the result both they and Joe himself were pleased at the impact which the H-Block issue had on the election, and in Sligo/Leitrim itself. Adults cried when the video film on the hunger strike was shown, his family recall, and they cried again when Joe was eliminated from the electoral count. At 5.11 a.m., on July 8th 1981, Joe McDonnell, who - believeably, for those who know his wife Goretti, his children Bernadette and Joseph and his family - "had too much to live for" died after sixty one days of agonising hunger strike, rather than be criminalised.

(From 'IRIS' magazine, Volume 1, No. 2, November 1981.)


Mary Anne McCracken (left) was born on this date (8th July) in 1770 and, at 21 years of age, she became an active campaigner for social reform and a supporter of revolutionary republicanism, abiding interests she maintained for the following 76 years.

She was born in High Street, Belfast, one of six children ; her father, John, was a ship's captain and her mother, Ann Joy, was a successful business woman with interests in the 'Newsletter' newspaper, a paper mill and the cotton industry. As a child, Mary Anne took an avid interest in world affairs and was especially well-briefed about the American War of Independence - it was this interest that encouraged her and her sister-in-law, Rose Ann McCracken, to join the Society of United Irishmen soon after its formation in Belfast in October 1791. Indeed, following the battle of Antrim in June 1798 and the collapse of the Rising in the North, Mary arranged safe passage for her brother, Henry Joy, on a ship bound for North America, but he was arrested as he was about to board the ship and imprisoned in Carrickfergus Jail, County Antrim, and from there he was transferred to Belfast Jail. Mary was present at his court-martial, and comforted him in his cell as he awaited execution. She accompanied him to the scaffold, and didn't hesitate when expected to look after Henry Joy's daughter, Maria Bodel. Five years later, just as she had seen her brother make the supreme sacrifice for liberty, she was to again witness another loved one, Thomas Russell, meet the same end at Downpatrick Jail in 1803. She withdrew from radical politics following Russell's execution and joined forces with English prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, to form a 'ladies committee' to demand better conditions in Belfast's workhouse.

She was a member of the ladies committee of the poorhouse, secretary of the Belfast Charitable Society (between 1832 and 1851) and president of the 'Committee of the Ladies' Industrial School for the Relief of Irish Destitution', which assisted victims of an Gorta Mór. She was also an outspoken opponent of slavery and campaigned to abolish the employment of small boys as 'climbing boys', who were young boys used by chimney sweeps as helpers, and won improvements for poor house women in the clothing trade and in children's education - she helped develop the idea of an infants school which flourished for a brief period. She was bitterly opposed to slavery and she fought hard for better conditions for other children who worked in factories. During the early 1840's she assisted Dr Richard R.Madden, the historian of the United Irishmen, with detailed accounts of the lives of her brother and Thomas Russell.

In her last years she saw the republican principles for which she had fought and for which those she had loved had died, once again being widely espoused throughout Ireland by the Fenian movement. Mary Anne McCracken died on July 24th, 1866, in her 97th year, and deserves to be remembered as much as her brother, Henry Joy McCracken.



- but not because myself and the girlfriends will be in New York on holiday, unfortunately! If only. The reason is mundane, compared to the NYC reason I'd much prefer to be writing about : am busy helping to put a 650-ticket raffle together for the Dublin Executive of Republican Sinn Féin and, although it's not actually going to be held until Sunday 12th July, myself and the raffle crew are already 'marching' (!) throughout Leinster (and beyond) organising the collection of the ticket stubs and, highly organised and all as we are, the distribution of hundreds of tickets for the August 2015 raffle!

And, as if that wasn't enough to be getting on with , preparations for the raffle begin four days before the actual event is held and finish, 'officially', on the Monday night following the Sunday raffle, at a meeting to discuss how things went and how things could be improved etc ("give us an extra 150 tickets to sell, for God's sake...!") so, overall, I'll be 'down', timewise - including the weekend of the raffle - about five days, part of which I would otherwise have spent helping to put this blog together. And there you have it - we'll be back here on Wednesday 22nd July 2015, all going well. Unless, of course, the dollar/euro exchange rate improves (it's a lousy $1.10c to the euro, as I write) in which case in my next blog post (in late August sometime!) I'll be reminiscing about how much I already miss that wonderful, mad, smelly, gritty and noisey city!

But much more likely that I'll be posting here on Wednesday 15th July next. Check back and prove me wrong. And I hope you do!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

"YOU ARE 1066".

YOU ARE 1066!

Bobby Sands (Roibeard Gearóid Ó Seachnasaigh), 27 years young when he died on the 5th of May 1981, after sixty-six days on hunger strike.

"...they all glare at me , and then begin to shout at me : "I am a Sir, I am a Sir, you will conform, conform, conform". They all grab me and start to beat and kick me while screaming : "You will conform, you will conform in H-Block 5". I awake, shouting and rolling on a filthy mattress on the floor. "Where am I?". "Are you alright?", asks my cell-mate. "Where am I?" "You are in your cell, you must've been having a nightmare," he says. Our cell door opens and a black uniformed figure stands there, "Food", he says. "What was that, Mister?" I ask. "You call me Sir. You're in the H-Blocks now! You're in H-Block 5. Don't forget it, 1066..." - Bobby Sands, from an article entitled 'I am Sir, you are 1066', which was first published 37 years ago on this date (1st July, 1978) :

'I must have died last night, because when I awoke this morning I was in hell. I don't really know how I got here. I don't think I've done anything to deserve being here. But I am here, and I am suffering terribly. I think I am in some sort of tomb. I can not see, as everywhere is in total darkness. I have no clothes on, except some sort of rag around my waist. The floor of my tomb is covered in a wet mushy substance, the source or nature of which I don't know. There is a revolting stench lingering in the darkness and the air is warm, heavy and humid. There is something soft and damp lying in the corner, which seems to be some sort of bedding to lie upon. I can hear heavy booming noises echoing all around me like thunder. Somehow it reminds me of heavy doors closing. I check the four walls of my tomb; there appears to be some sort of a door in one of the walls. I can't understand my being here. What, I wonder. will become of me? I know I am a human being, although I'm naked and bearded. I can think and breathe. Am I in hell or some sort of limbo? I can hear heavy footsteps approaching. They stop quite near to me. There is someone or something nearby. I can hear it moving and breathing. It is watching me. More noise directly outside my tomb, a rattle of metal against metal. A square form of light begins to materialise. revealing an entrance as a door swings open. A figure stands in the grey dim light of the doorway. It is a human figure, dressed in what appears to be some sort of black uniform.

It stands scrutinising me in silence for several seconds, before letting out a terrifying yell that sends shivers through my body. "I am Sir." The words echo around my tomb. "I am Sir" it bellows again. "I am Sir, you are 1066." The door slams shut with a loud explosive boom, killing the dim light where the entrance had been. Still afraid to move, I stand in the total darkness. What is 1066, I think? Obviously it is me, but I can think, speak, smell and touch. I have all my senses, therefore I am not a number, I am not 1066. I am human, I am not a number, I am not 1066. Who, or what, is a 'Sir'? It frightened me. It was evil. I sensed its hatred of me, its eagerness to dominate me, and its potential violent nature. Oh, what will become of me? I remember I once hid a family. Where are they now? Will I ever see or hear of them again?

It's watching me. Once more the door opens. The dim light gives off an illumination, revealing the black uniformed figure at the doorway. "I am Sir", it says, "here is your food, 1066." A bowl is thrust into my hands as the door slams. Before the light dies I catch a glimpse of the floor. It is covered in filth and rubbish. There are several maggots clinging to my legs. The walls are covered with a mass of fat bloated flies. Once again I am terror-stricken. I pace the floor, aghast at my surroundings. The bowl in my hand is cold, it contains some sort of porridge or gruel. The smell from it revolts me. I set it down on the floor. Pacing the floor in total darkness, I become engulfed with depression and despair. I wish I was dead. "But I am dead." I say aloud I can't even kill myself.

A breeze, I feel a breeze coming from the wall behind me. Feeling about, I touch a piece of cloth. I tug it and it falls. A light of great intensity hits my eyes, temporarily blinding me. My tomb becomes illuminated with light, revealing a window divided with concrete bars. Stepping closer, thousands of lights of every size and colour appear in my view. These lights are perched upon mountains of barbed wire that glitter and sparkle on the black horizon. Another step forward, and stiII looking straight ahead, a small building looms up in front of me, displaying a dozen or so windows all of which are brightly lit up. Several naked figures appear at the windows. The building is thirty yards away. I can see that all the figures are bearded, they all seem to be fairly young, but all their faces are pale and haggard. They are young men, but have old men's faces. Am I gazing at death? These figures keep staring out at nothing, or pacing to and fro. Footsteps again! I turn, apprehension again gripping me, to await my door being opened. My new-found curiosity having diminished, I fall deeper into the depths of depression and despair. The thought of what lies on the other side of that door tortures me. The door swings open, and several black uniformed figures stand there, surrounding a very small, fat, evil-looking person who evidently is their leader. They all glare at me, and then begin to shout at me: "I am a Sir, I am a Sir. You will conform." They all grab me and start to beat and kick me while screaming "You will conform, you will conform in H-Block 5." I awake, shouting and rolling on a filthy mattress on the floor. Where am I? "Are you alright?" asks my cell mate. Where am I? "You are in your cell, you must've been having a nightmare," he says. Our cell door opens and a black uniformed figure stands there "Food," he says. "What was that, Mister?" I ask. "You call me Sir. You're in the H·Blocks now. You're in H·Block 5. Don't forget it, 1066..."

The sectarian realities of ghetto life materialised early in Bobby's life when at the age of ten his family were forced to move home owing to loyalist intimidation... (and that was in 1962, before 'the Troubles' started, according to the 'official' version of our history). Bobby recalled his mother speaking of the troubled times which occurred during her childhood ; "Although I never really understood what internment was or who the 'Specials' were, I grew to regard them as symbols of evil". Of this time Bobby himself later wrote: "I was only a working-class boy from a nationalist ghetto, but it is repression that creates the revolutionary spirit of freedom. I shall not settle until I achieve liberation of my country, until Ireland becomes a sovereign, independent socialist republic..." (from here.)

Bobby Sands joined the PIRA in 1972, at 18 years young, and was arrested that same year and charged with possession of four handguns which were found in the house that he was staying in. He was convicted in April 1973 and sentenced to five years but was released in April 1976, returning immediately to active service for the PIRA. In October that year, the Balmoral Furniture Company in Dunmurray was attacked (an economic target) but as the (P)IRA men left the scene there was a gun battle with the RUC. Leaving behind two wounded, Seamus Martin and Gabriel Corbett, the remaining four (Sands, Joe McDonnell, Seamus Finucane, and Sean Lavery) tried to escape in a car, but were arrested. One of the revolvers used in the attack was found in the car. In 1977 the four were sentenced to 14 years in the Maze (Long Kesh) for possession of the revolver. They were not charged with explosive offences.


Things are loud and getting louder

so I don't have a lot to say

if I did you wouldn't hear me

so what's the use anyway

go fight your war and hide your whore

I'm sure Jesus understands

leave me in my own head

where I'm remembering Bobby Sands

Washington fought the British

they put him on a bill

an Irishman does the same

and special forces shoot to kill

while Amerikay looks the other way

among those who know firsthand

the price of freedom is tears and blood

and remembering Bobby Sands

the price of freedom is tears and blood

and remembering Bobby Sands

When a soldier lays down his life

so his comrades can be free

is it not us who forced his hand

by ignoring tyranny?

when men sit by and let others die

the killing will expand

so I'd like to take a moment here

to remember Bobby Sands

Tonight I'll tuck my children into bed

under liberty's flame

and soldiers will go off to kill

so ordered in my name

how do I sleep with a price so steep

and a government so bland

maybe it's time to hit my knees

and remember Bobby Sands.

Bobby Sands was born in Rathcoole, North Belfast, in 1954. He 'celebrated' his 27th birthday on the ninth day of his sixty-six-day hunger strike. He died on the 5th May 1981, the thirteenth Irish republican hunger-striker to die since 1917, and will always be remembered by Irish republicans.


Last month, 28 women who protested peacefully in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, against US President Ronald Reagan's visit to Ireland received £1000 each arising from their action for wrongful arrest. Gene Kerrigan recalls the weekend when another State determined Irish security requirements and details the garda action which could cost tens of thousands of pounds. From 'Magill' magazine, May 1987.

In the cells of the Bridewell, Mary Phelan was being taken out of her cell as were Nina Quigley, Phillipa Robinson, Toni Ryan, Sue Russell, Scotlyn Sabean and Catriona Ni Shiacuis. "...thank you again for this great honour..", said Ronald Reagan, "...and God bless you all." Then, at 12.50pm, he went to lunch with President Hillery at the US Ambassador's residence in the Phoenix Park from where he spoke again of human liberty, to which President Hillery replied - "Ireland shares with the United States a profound respect for the rights of the individual."


The woman were kept waiting for about two hours before being brought up to District Court Number Four at 2.30pm ; they were bedraggled and exhausted, and were brought up in batches and formally charged , and were remanded on £10 bail for two weeks. The mysterious 'edict' which had incarcerated them had still not been produced.

While this was happening President Reagan had been taken to Dublin airport and Pat Kenny was doing the RTE commentary on Reagan's departure. Kenny chatted to a friend from his college days who was now working in the Department of Foreign Affairs and he (Kenny) had seen the US Secret Service agents clearing journalists from the concourse in Shannon and had seen gardai standing by as the Americans directed security. But it wasn't like that at all, said Kenny's friend from 'Foreign Affairs' ; the gardai were in charge and the Americans were under garda orders! (MORE LATER).


This hasn't made the same headlines that it would have made a few years ago, and not just because it's not seen as such a big deal nowadays - as it seems to happen every other Tuesday - but the politician in question this time, (ex-)Dublin North Inner City PSF councillor Jonathan Dowdall, is known for , as stated in our headline , 'resigning from his resignations'.

Jonathan now claims that "...bullying is allowed go on in certain parts of (Provisional) Sinn Fein...there were numerous attacks on myself from a certain element within [the party], and there were attacks on my team members...I reported them, team members of mine reported them, and nothing happened...I was given a mandate by the people to represent them in the area and at the end of the day I couldn’t continue to represent them because of what I was subjected to – it was getting really nasty at the end....I could no longer stand over and watch certain attacks from certain elements within the party..."

However, a PSF spokesperson has denied the claims made by Jonathan Dowdall, saying that there is no problem with bullying in the party and that "a robust mechanism" exists to prevent same from surfacing. So - whether you believe the company director is correct or Aengus knows better then just don't forget that paper doesn't refuse ink....!


Ed Moloney speaks to a leading member of the Provisionals who has been authorised to speak on behalf of the (P)IRA Army Council.

From 'Magill' magazine, September 1980.

Ed Moloney : Have the tough security policies of Charlie Haughey contributed to those, 'circumstances forced on you'?

IRA : No. The majority of our operations are carried out by personnel who live within the Six Counties. Belfast, for instance, is the spearhead of our campaign. People there don't run back across the Border. The Volunteers who set up road blocks in Carrickmore last October didn't run back across the Border. Our people are based in the North and our attacks occur there. What is happening is that Charles Haughey, without the sanction of the Irish people, is spending over £80 million of their money making sure that attacks from his side of the Border on occupation forces are inhibited.

These occupation forces infringe the sovereignty of the 26 Counties, these are the people who have fired across the border and killed people, these are the people who go over in plain clothes and are blocking off border areas, hindering the farming communities there. The 1000 troops and Garda Special Task Force are there on the Border to suppress the people and to collaborate with the Brits. But that is not the reason for the lower level of operations this year.


Reginald Maudling (pictured, left) the British 'Home Secretary for Northern Ireland' at the time, didn't enjoy his visit here on the 1st July 1970...

On Tuesday, June 30th, 1970, the British puppet-'parliament' at Stormont, in Belfast,passed into 'law' the 'Criminal Justice (Temporary Provisions) Act' which, among other injustices, decreed that a mandatory prison sentence of six months be imposed on anyone found guilty of rioting. Two days before that 'law' was signed into being (ie on Sunday June 28th) about 500 nationalist workers at the Harland and Wolff shipyard were violently rounded-up by their unionist/loyalist co-workers and told to leave the job or face the consequences. Protests, pickets and marches were held on that Sunday and also on the following day (Monday 29th) over the forced Harland and Wolff expulsions and, coincidentally, (!) a new 'anti-rioting law' was introduced within hours.

On Wednesday, 1st July 1970, Reginald Maudling, 'Secretary of State for the Colonies', flew in from England on a visit to Belfast to assure British subjects that the 'mammy parliament' in Westminster was prepared to 'protect' them from the nasty nationalists. However, Maudling obviously felt that he himself needed 'protection' (or something stronger!) because, on Wednesday 1st July 1970, as he was boarding a plane to take him back to what he considered 'the mainland', he is reported to have declared - "For God’s sake bring me a large Scotch. What a bloody awful country!"

The cheek of the man - to use one Irish city , Belfast, as a yardstick for the whole of Ireland. A mistake, to be sure, that is often made in relation to, say, politicians : just because one of them is said to be 'dodgy' doesn't necessarily mean that they all are!


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.)

(*"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 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 'old', 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 he had based on the French Tricolour) in his native city, Waterford, on the 7th March 1848, outside the Wolfe Tone Confederate Club and, 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 labored 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, in 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. 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' remains to be resolved.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.