REPUBLIC DAY CELEBRATION HELD IN DUBLIN FOR EIGHTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR

 

Diarmuid Breatnach

 

On Monday 25th April people gathered in front of the General Post Office building in Dublin city centre. The occasion was the commemoration and celebration of the reading of the Proclamation of Independence by Patrick Pearse outside that same building, shortly after the 1916 Rising had begun under his overall command. Standing nearby during the reading had been James Connolly, Commandant of the GPO Garrison and also commanding officer of the Irish Citizen Army. Both were executed by the British weeks later for their part in the Rising, along with another thirteen (twelve in Dublin, one in Cork) and months later Roger Casement was tried in civilian court in London and hung.

 

Tom Stokes, who has been a chief organiser of this event since 2010, opened the proceedings, addressing the crowd and the flag colour party. He reminded his audience that in 1917 it had been Republican women who had organised the 1916 commemoration, printing many copies of the Proclamation and pasting them around the city, also defying British military law to gather outside the GPO to mark the events.

Tom Stokes speaking at the event outside the GPO (photo: D.Breatnach)

Among the reasons for this given by Stokes was that many Republican men had but recently been released from British prisons and concentration camps but also that the women had a special stake in the Republic for which the Rising had taken place – they in particular stood to gain from its achievement the status of citizens and many other changes in their status as a result.

So it was appropriate, Stokes said, to have women take prominent roles in the event, starting with Evelyn Campbell, who accompanied herself on guitar while singing her compositions Fenian Women Blues and Patriotic Games.

Evelyn Campbell performing (photo: D.Breatnach)

Following that, Tom Stokes gave the main oration, outlining his vision of a Republic and castigating the Irish state for what it had produced instead, in particular attacking its treatment of women and declaring that abortion was a private matter in which the State had no right to interfere.

This was followed by Fiona Byrne, in period costume, reading the Proclamation and after that came Dave Swift in Irish Volunteer costume, reading a message given by a wounded James Connolly  (he had been injured Thursday of Easter Week by a ricochet in William Street while on a reconnaissance mission).

Fiona Byrne reading the 1916 Proclamation.
(photo: D.Breatnach)

Cormac Bowell, in period Volunteer costume played an air on the bagpipes, Fergus Russel sang The Foggy Dew, Bob Byrne sounded The Last Post on the bugle and Evelyn Campbell came forward again, this time to accompany herself on guitar singing Amhrán na bhFiann.

Cormac Bowell playing at the event.
(photo: D.Breatnach

Tom Stokes thanked the performers and everyone else for their attendance and said he hoped to see them all again on the 24th April 2018, which will be a Tuesday. He said it was his wish that this day be an annual National Holiday and they had started the annual celebration because no-one else was doing it.

Some of those present marched to Moore Street with a Moore Street campaign banner, taking the GPO Garrison’s evacuation route on Friday of Easter Week through Henry Place, past the junction with Moore Lane and on to Moore Street, where Dave Swift, still in Irish Volunteer uniform, competing with the noise of construction machinery coming from the ILAC’s extension work, read the Proclamation before all dispersed, leaving the street to street traders, customers, passers-by and builders.

 

A chríoch.

 

 

Bugler Bob Byrne sounding The Last Post.
(photo: D.Breatnach)

(photo: D.Breatnach)

(photo: D.Breatnach)

(photo: D.Breatnach)

(photo: D.Breatnach)

Dave Swift reading Connolly’s statement after he had been wounded. (Photo: D. Breatnach)

 

 

SHOOT-OUT IN DUBLIN ON MARCH 14 LEAVES SEVEN DEAD

SHOOT-OUT IN DUBLIN ON MARCH 14 LEAVES SEVEN DEAD1

By John Dorney

(Re-published from The Irish Story, History webpage http://www.theirishstory.com/2015/01/26/the-pearse-street-ambush-dublin-march-14-1921/#.WN6_Ukvb-_s by kind permission of John Dorney)

Dublin awoke on the morning to March 14th 1921 to the news that six IRA Volunteers, captured in an ambush at Drumcondra two months before, had been hanged.

The gates of Mountjoy Gaol were opened at 8:25 am and news of the executions was read out to the distraught relatives of the dead. As many as 40,000 people had gathered outside and many mournfully said the rosary for the executed men.

On the morning of March 14 1921 six IRA Volunteers were hanged in Mountjoy Gaol.

Crowds of protesters outside Mountjoy Jail being held back by British troops and a tank (image from Dorney’s article)

The labour movement called a half-day general strike in the city in protest at the hangings. The clandestine Republican Government declared a day of national mourning. All public transport came to a halt and republican activists made sure the strike was observed. IRA officer Frank Henderson recalled:

Patrick Sweeney, Vice Commandant of the 2nd Battalion, and other members of the Battalion paraded the Battalion area during the hours of public mourning to ensure that shops were closed. With the exception of one or two public houses which had to be cleared, the order to cease work was loyally obeyed by the citizens.”

By evening, the streets cleared rapidly as the British-imposed curfew came into effect at 9pm each night. The city must have been a fearful place, patrolled by regular British troops and the much-feared paramilitary police, or Auxiliaries, as people scurried home and awaited IRA retaliation for the hangings. This was not long in coming.

Pearse Street, or Great Brunswick Street as it then was, nestles just south of the river Liffey, running from Ringsend, an old fishing port, to the city centre. Number 144 housed the company headquarters of the Dublin IRA’s 3rd Battalion at St Andrews Catholic Hall. It had been used for this purpose since before insurrection of 1916.

On the evening of March 14, their captain Peadar O’Meara sent them out to attack police or military targets. As many as 34 IRA men prowled the area, armed with the standard urban guerrilla arms of easily-hidden handguns and grenades. One young Volunteer, Sean Dolan threw a grenade at a police station on nearby Merrion Square, which bounced back before it could explode, blowing off his own leg.

Auxiliaries on a raid c.1920 (image sourced on Internet)

It was about 8 o’clock. The curfew was approaching. A company of Auxiliaries, based in Dublin Castle was sent to the area to investigate the explosion. It consisted of one Rolls Royce armoured car and two tenders (trucks) holding about 16 men. Apparently the Auxiliaries had some inside information as they made straight for the local IRA headquarters at 144 Pearse Street. One later testified in court that – “I had been notified there were a certain number of gunmen there”.

But the IRA were also waiting. As soon as the Auxiliaries approached the building, fire was opened on them from three sides.

What the newspapers described as ‘hail of fire’ tore into the Auxiliaries’ vehicles. Five of the eight Auxiliaries in the first tender were hit in the opening fusillade. Two of them were fatally injured, including the driver (an Irishman named O’Farrell) and an Auxiliary named L. Beard.

But the IRA fighters were seriously outgunned. The Rolls Royce armoured car was impervious to small arms fire (except its tyres, which were shot out) but mounted a Vickers heavy machine gun, which sprayed the surrounding houses with bullets. The unwounded Auxiliaries also clambered out of their tenders and returned fire at the gun flashes from street corners and rooftops.

Civilian passersby flung themselves to the ground to avoid the bullets but four were hit, by which side it was impossible to tell. The British military court of inquiry into the incident found that the civilians had been killed by persons unknown; if by the IRA then they were ‘murdered’, if hit by Auxiliaries the shootings were ‘accidental’ — which, aside from demonstrating the court’s bias, shows us that no one was sure who had killed them.

Firing lasted for just five minutes but in that time seven people (including the two Auxiliaries) were killed or fatally wounded and at least six more wounded. A young man, Bernard O’Hanlon aged just 18, originally from Dundalk, lay sprawled, dead, outside number 145, his ‘bull-dog’ revolver under him which had five chambers, two of which contained expended rounds and three live rounds – indicating he had got off just two shots before being cut down.

Another IRA Volunteer, Leo Fitzgerald was also killed outright. Two more guerrillas were wounded, one in the hip and one in the back. They, along with Sean Dolan who had been wounded by his own grenade were spirited away by sympathetic Fire Brigade members and members of Cumann na mBan and treated in the nearby Mercer’s hospital.

Three civilians lay dead on the street. One, Thomas Asquith was a 68 year-old caretaker, another, David Kelly was a prominent Sinn Fein member and head of the Sinn Fein bank. His brother, Thomas Kelly was a veteran Sinn politician and since 1918 a Member of Parliament. The third, Stephen Clarke, aged 22, was an ex-soldier and may have been the one who had tipped off the Auxiliaries about the whereabouts of the IRA meeting house. An internal IRA report noted that he was ‘under observation… as he was a tout for the enemy’.

Location of the plaque on house near to Library in Pearse St. (formerly Gt. Brunswick St.) commemorating the fight. The plaque is in the 3 o’clock position on the photo. (photo D.Breatnach this year)

In five minutes of intense gunfire, seven people were mortally wounded; two IRA Volunteers, two Auxiliaries and three civilians.

Two IRA men were captured as they fled the scene, one, Thomas Traynor a 40 year-old veteran of the Easter Rising, was carrying an automatic pistol but claimed to have had no part in the ambush itself. He had, he maintained, simply been asked to bring in the weapon to 144 Great Brunswick Street. The other was Joseph Donnelly a youth of just 17.

As most of the IRA fighters got away through houses, over walls and into backstreets, the Auxiliaries ransacked St Andrew’s Catholic Hall at number 144, but found little of value. Regular British Army troops quickly arrived from nearby Beggars Bush barracks and cordoned off the area, but no further arrests were made. Desultory sniping carried on in the city for several hours into the night.

The plaque closer.
(Photo sourced Internet)

Footnotes

1The title is our own, i.e of Rebel Breeze blog

MOORE STREET MUSEUM — A FUTURE TOURIST’S ACCOUNT

A MOORE STREET HISTORY TOUR — A VISITOR’S EXPERIENCE IN THE FUTURE

Some decades into the future, I invite you to imagine a foreign-based tourist writing of her experience of the 1916 History and Cultural Quarter. Her name might be Isabela Etxebarria, from Argentina; she may be writing in her excellent English or perhaps her Castillian was translated.

This also formed part of my submission to the Minister’s Consultative Group on Moore Street which is soon to publish their recommendations.  A number of important, not to say crucial, campaigns were excluded from that group but were permitted to make submissions.  I contributed to two group contributions but this is piece is from my personal one, of which I have previously posted some sections:

https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/the-1916-history-of-moore-street/

https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/the-moore-street-market-a-possible-future/

https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/personal-recommendations-for-the-moore-street-quarter/

 

“Dublin is an amazing city for someone interested in culture, literature or history. By virtue of its long existence as a centre of population, and also as a result of its history of invasions, occupations and resistance, it has enormous historical interest. It has also contributed three writers to the Nobel Prize pantheon and arguably would have contributed another one or more, were it not for certain prejudices of their times. I had read something about the Rising in Dublin against the British Empire early in the 20th Century — right in the middle of the First World War — and was eager to learn more.

I was also aware that an Argentinian citizen, Eamon Bulfin, of the Irish diaspora to my country, had raised the Irish Republic flag on the GPO, had been condemned to death after the Rising and then deported to Buenos Aires where he had functioned as a foreign representative of the revolutionary Irish Republican government. His sister Catalina had married Seán McBride, a Nobel laureate and also winner of the Lenin Peace Prize, son of John McBride, one of the sixteen executed in 1916, and of Maude Gonne, a prominent Irish Republican activist.

“Irish Republic” flag, the design of the flag which was raised by Eamonn Bulfin on top of the GPO.
(Photo source: Internet)

On Friday, we went to experience one of the famous historical tours of inner city Dublin. There are various history tours, some of which lead to a building called the General Post Office but which all the locals refer to only as “the GPO”. Other tours then take the ‘GPO’ as their starting point and it is one of those that I joined – its title was ‘The 1916 Rising – Evacuation, Advance & Surrender’.

The tickets of those participating were checked (except for children’s tours, the regulations restrict to no more than thirty at a time including ten children,) and we were handed audio earphones, radio receivers and issued with our instructions – stay with the group, obey the instructions of the guide, etc.

Our group contained some young children and a few in their late teens, with their parents. About half or more of the group looked like tourists and some asked for the foreign-language options of receivers. There was one man in a wheelchair.

As instructed by the guide in a number of languages, we tested our receivers to find the volume settings appropriate for each individual. Then our guide motioned for us to listen to our earphones … and the narration began.

Depiction of 1916 Rising in art
(Sourced on Internet)

Gradually, we were pulled back across the decades until we were in that amazing Rising, taking place in what had once been considered the second city of the British Empire, rising up against that very same Empire, the largest the World had ever seen.

Eamon Bulfin, from Argentina, who raised the Irish Republic” flag on the GPO at the Henry St. corner (Photo sourced on Internet)

In our imagination, aided by a commentary, it was the fifth day of the Rising and many of the buildings in the city centre were ablaze. Through our earphones, against a backdrop of booming cannon and crashing shell, chattering machine guns, rifles’ crack and whining ricochet, we could hear the crackle of flames. Irish Volunteers’ voices reported that the glass in Clery’s building opposite had melted and was running across the street like water. The heavy ledgers the Volunteers had placed in the GPO windows to protect against bullets were smouldering. Other voices added that despite fire-fighting efforts the roof was on fire and the roof lead melting. We could almost smell the smoke. Then finally, on the following day, the order to evacuate given in an Edinburgh accent – James Connolly, the socialist commandant of the HQ of the Rising, the General Post Office.

The scene inside the GPO just prior to the evacuation through Henry Place as imagined by Walter Paget
(Sourced on Internet)

In the hubbub of people getting ready to evacuate some voices stood out: Elizabeth O’Farrell, giving instructions about the moving of the injured James Connolly; calls to evacuate by the side door and caution about crossing Henry Street, with machine-gun sniper fire coming from the east all the way down Talbot Street from the tower of the train station at Amiens Street and indeed, some bullets traveling from the west along the street too.

A man’s voice in our earphones says “It’s lucky we have oul’ Nelson there to shield us some of the way!” and we hear a few people laugh.

Then, The O’Rahilly’s voice, calling for volunteers to charge the barricade at the top of Moore Street and a chorus of voices answering, clamouring to be chosen.

Now we are out in a group and crossing Henry Street. The man in the wheelchair, having politely declined offers to push his chair, is propelling his wheels strongly along with his leather-covered hands. Brass ‘footsteps’ laid into the street draw attention to the GPO Garrison’s evacuation route. It is weird to see the pedestrian shoppers and sightseers of the Twenty-First Century as half our minds are back in the second decade of the Twentieth.

Across this short stretch to Henry Place we went, the crack of rifles and chatter of machine guns louder now in our earphones. And explosions of shells and of combustibles. The garrison scurried across this gap carrying the wounded Connolly on a bed frame and Winifred Carney, carrying her typewriter and Webley pistol, interposed her body between Connolly and a possible bullet from the train station tower.

The laneway here has murals and marking on the ground to mark the route of the evacuation. Immediately we stepped on the restored cobbles of the lane-way, the sounds of battle in our earphones receded somewhat.

No bullets can reach us here!” shouts a voice in our earphones.

No, but bejaysus them artillery shells can!” replies another.

Other shouts a little ahead warn us that gunfire is being directed down what is now Moore Lane from a British barricade on the junction with Parnell Street.

A sudden shouted warning about a building ahead of us, to our left, facing Moore Lane.

See the white house? The bastards are in there too,” shouts a strong voice which I am told is Cork-accented, a representation of the young Michael Collins’. “Let’s root them out. Who’s with me?”

Another chorus of voices, a flurry of Mauser and Parabellum fire, then only the steady chatter of the machine gun up at the British barricade and the sound of bullets striking walls.

The Cork sing-song voice again. “I can’t believe it — The place was empty, like!”

Aye, it was so many bullet’s hoppin’ off the walls made us think the firing was coming from inside,” a voice says, in the accents of Ulster.

The “white house” at the junction of Henry Place and Moore Street, on the GPO Garrison’s evacuation route on the way to Moore Street, photographed soon after the Rising. (Photo sourced at the Internet).

Then an unmistakably Dublin working class accent: “Would yez ever give us a hand with this!” followed by the creak and rattle of wheels on the cobblestones as the cart is dragged across the intersection. Now we can hear the machine gun bullets thudding into the cart.

Quick now, cross the gap!” comes the order and the dash across the gap begins. Nearly 300 men and women? Someone is bound to get hit and yes, they do and we hear that one of them died here.

Across the gap, nowadays mercifully free of enemy fire but still feeling vulnerable, we follow Pela, our guide, to the corner with Moore Street. In character, she peers carefully around as we hear machine-gun and rifle here too, but Mausers and Parabellum as well as Lee-Enfields.

Gor blimey!” exclaims a London accent from our earphones, reminding us that some of the Volunteers had been brought up in Britain. “O’Rahilly’s lads are getting a pastin’. None of ’em made it as far as the barricade!”

An Irish voice: “Into these houses then – no other way! We have to get into cover to plan our next move.” This is followed by the sound of a door being hit and then splintering as they break into No.10, the first house on the famous 1916 Terrace.

“Careful now,” Elizabeth Farrell’s voice, followed by a muted groan of pain as Connolly is maneouvred through the doorway and up the stairs.

Pela sends the man in the wheelchair up in the lift and leads us up the stairs. When the lift and the last of our group arrive we proceed across the restored upper floors from house to house, passing through holes in the walls, as the GPO Garrison did in 1916 – except that they had to break through the walls themselves, working in shifts and our ‘holes’ are more like jagged doorways.

No.10 was the field hospital and here, represented by dummies and holograms, are the cramped bodies of wounded Volunteers and the British soldier rescued by George Plunkett. The woman of the house is trying to prepare food for the fighters.

Through a few unshuttered windows, we can see the busy street market below us going about its business, apparently oblivious of our passage above them. But then, thousands of tour groups have gone through here over the decades. The weather being fine, the transparent roof covering the street is withdrawn and through the double glazing of the houses one can just barely hear the street traders calling out their wares and prices.

We pass through those hallowed rooms, listening to ghosts. Here and there a hologram appears and speaks, echoes of the past. Dummies dressed in the uniforms of the Irish Citizen Army, the Irish Volunteers, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna and Hibernian Rifles are on display here and there. Imitation Mausers and Parabellums and Martinis, each one carefully made and to the same weight as the original, are there. They are security-chained but we know people are free to pick them up and feel the weight, as a couple of children do, to imagine carrying and firing one. But not to be flash-photographed, which is not permitted here.

Working people’s bath in the early 1900s.
(Sourced on Internet)

Black cast-Iron kettle from the period
(Sourced on Internet)

Candleholder for lighting for the bedroom
(Sourced on Internet)

Replica Cumann na mBan medical kits are on display, open so one could inspect the contents. The houses also have period furniture, fireplaces, beds …. chamber pots …. kitchens with utensils … bedrooms …..

Mauser ‘Howth’ Rifle
(Sourced on Internet)

There are dummies dressed too in civilian clothes of the time typical of that area — women, men, children (even the dog fed by Tom Crimmins, the last Volunteer to leave Moore St.).

ICA Male Uniform
(Sourced on Internet)

Here are some Volunteers breaking through a wall; over there, exhausted Volunteers sleeping

Cumann na mBan uniform.
(Sourced on Internet)

We see magnified historical newspaper headlines, photos, badges and medals. A map of Dublin with fighting locations flashing on them, some of them going out as they fall, the dates appearing above them to show when that happened. But many were only surrendered on receipt of the order from Pearse or Connolly.

Snatches of poetry, of song come to us as we cross from room to room, from house to house, some of it nationalist, some traditional or folk, some even music hall from the era. And for our eyes, the holograms of the Proclamation, the portraits of the executed 16 and many others who fought and died or who survived, flags, the Tricolour, the Irish Republic, the green-and-gold Starry Plough, waving in the wind above Clery’s ….

Half-way along the terrace we come to the historical discussion between the leaders, creatively reconstructed on the basis of some witness statements. Pearse wishing to surrender to avoid further loss of civilian life (the names of the dead civilians in Moore Street, their ages and the manner of their dying appearing above him), Clarke arguing, a sob in his voice, Connolly saying maybe they should wait for Sean McLoughlin to get back (he is out preparing a diversion attack to allow a breakout) …. Then the arguments with some of the other Volunteers, Mac Diarmada having to use all his powers of persuasion.

Oh, such emotion in such short discussions! Then the decision, and Elizabeth O’Farrell volunteering to go with the white flag to open negotiations with the enemy …. even though civilian men and women have already been shot in died in that street, including one beneath a white flag.

Shortly afterwards, the faces of the dead civilians and Volunteers appear, then the sixteen executed come into view, suspended in the air in front and a little above us. We stand there while passages are read out from their trials, letters from their condemned cells, words to relatives …. Then the dates appear above them and we hear the fusillades as by one their faces blink out, until finally only Casement remains, the image of the gallows and then he too is gone. All is dark for a moment, then all sixteen faces appear again, over a background of the three flags of the Rising, with a list of the fallen rank-and-file, to a swelling chorus of The Soldiers’ Song, in English and in Irish.

Portrait of the 16 executed in 1916.
(Sourced on Internet)

At the end of the Terrace, we descend again, somewhat dazed and here view the O’Rahilly monument plaque and in our earphones hear the words of his final letter to his wife read out – he wrote it as he lay dying from a number of bullet wounds. I found my eyes moistening again as they had several times during the tour and some of the others were visibly crying – including other foreign tourists.

The end of our tour lay ahead, through the underground tunnel under Parnell Street to the Rotunda. There the Volunteers had been publicly launched and recruited in 1913 and there too, in 1916, the GPO/ Moore Street garrison had been kept prisoners without food and water or toilet, some for two days, while political colonial police came down to identify whomsoever they could from among the prisoners. Here Tom Clarke had been cruelly stripped by his captors, diagonally across the road from one of his two tobacconist shops, on the corner of Parnell and O’Connell Streets. Elizabeth Farrell had been kept prisoner in that shop too by the British, before being escorted to deliver the surrender order to a number of garrisons.

In between the shop and the Rotunda stands the Parnell Monument, as it did then, honouring “the uncrowned King of Ireland”, who had tried by mostly parliamentary means, two decades earlier, to bring about Home Rule for Ireland and had failed. British officers had been photographed in front of the monument with the “Irish Republic” flag held upside down – had they been entirely conscious of the irony?

British soldiers posing with captured Irish Republic Flag upside down in front of Parnell Monument, just near where prisoners were kept on Easter Saturday and Sunday. (Photo sourced on Internet).

Directly across the road from us stands a historic building too – the premises of the Irish Land League and where the Irish Ladies Land League had been formed and also raided by the police.

Now the recordings in our earphones ask us to remove our earphones and to hand them to our guide, also to listen for a moment after she has collected them. Having gathered the sets and put them away in her bag, Pela asks us all to give a moment’s thoughts to the men and women and children, particularly of the years each side of the centenary year of the Rising, 2016, who had campaigned to preserve this monument for future generations. Pela tells us that her own grandmother had been one of the activists.

Incredible though it may now seem, the whole terrace except for four houses had been about to be demolished to make way for a shopping centre, which would also have swallowed up the street market. It had taken a determined campaign and occupations of buildings with people prepared to face imprisonment to protect it for our generation and others to come. The State of those years had little interest in history and much in facilitating speculators.

Pela invited us to applaud the campaigners, which we did, enthusiastically. She then asked us to turn around and view the reconstructed building we had left. There was a plaque on the wall there “Dedicated to the memory of the men, women, girls and boys of the early 21st Century ……” In bronze bas-relief, the plaque’s image depicts 16 houses in a terrace with activists on the scaffolding erected by those who intended demolition, with a chain of people of all ages holding hands around the site and in one corner, a campaign table surrounded by people apparently signing a petition.

Once through the underpass and inside the Rotunda building, the tour officially over, we thanked our guide and made for the Republican Café. I found we couldn’t say much, as my mind was half back in 1916. My companion was quiet too as were some other from our tour but some of the children seemed unaffected, brightly debating what to choose from the menu in the Rotunda café, or what souvenir they fancied from those on display.

We took a program of events, including film showings, lectures, dramatic representations and music and poetry performances, in order to choose which to attend later. There’s also a Moore Street and Dublin Street Traders’ Museum in the Rotunda which we intend to visit, perhaps tomorrow, after some shopping in the existing ancient street market.

Some of our tour group, we could hear, including the indefatigable man in the wheelchair, were going on the short walk up to the Remembrance Garden and we heard mention also of the Writers’ Museum and the Hugh Lane Gallery adjacent to the Garden.

We’d had enough for one day, however – we were full. It was truly an unforgettable experience and I knew that for me and probably for my companion, it was something that would remain forever alive in our memories.”

WHEN DUBLIN WANTED MAYO TO WIN — MEN OF THE WEST AND THE MAN FROM DUBLIN

Diarmuid Breatnach

As Mayo began to prepare for a replay of the 2016 championship Gaelic Football final against Dublin, I stood with others on a very wet day in Dublin’s Croppies’ Acre to commemorate and honour Robert Emmet and the United Irishmen – an event replete with Mayo connections.

line-enniscorthy-group-at-monument

Eniscorthy Historical Reenactment Society inside the monument during the ceremony. (Photo: Paddy Reilly)

The event, organised by the Asgard Howth 1916 Society, was graced by the presence of the Enniscorthy Historical Reenactment Society, men and women in 1798 costume bearing pikes, including officer uniforms – they had travelled up from Wexford that morning to attend the event. Donal Fallon, historian, blogger, tour guide and broadcaster was to give the oration. Padraig Drummond, the organising persona, had asked me to sing two songs at the event, one near the start and the other near the end.

For the first song, I had chosen the Bold Robert Emmet ballad1 (originally known as The Last Moments of Robert Emmet2), a song that commonly sung more often a few decades ago but still reasonably well remembered. For the second, I was spoiled for choice of relevant songs: Anne Devlin, Boolavogue, The Croppy Boy, Henry Joy, The Irish Soldier Laddie. Kelly the Boy from Killane, The Rising of the Moon, Rodaí Mac Corlaí, Sliabh na mBan, the Three Flowers, The West’s Awake, The Wind That Shakes the Barley …… or I could finish learning some of which I knew bits, like the Sean Bhean Bhocht, General Munroe, Memory of the Dead (Who Fears to Speak of ’98?) or the Mayo version of An Spailpín Fánach.

Drawing depicting the trial of Robert Emmet in Green Street Courthouse, Dublin

Drawing depicting the trial of Robert Emmet in Green Street Courthouse, Dublin. (Photo source: Internet)

Though a beautiful song in lyrics and air, I felt Sliabh na mBan was too long for the event and cutting it would also feel wrong. Anne Devlin remembers an extremely brave comrade of the United Irishmen and gives rare acknowledgement to the role of women in the struggle for Irish freedom, which had me veering towards that choice. However, I eventually settled on Men of the West, celebrating the 1798 uprising in Mayo when a small French force under General Humbert landed to support them.

Diarmuid Breatnach singing "Men of the West/ Fir an Iarthair". (Photo: Paddy Reilly)

Diarmuid Breatnach singing “Men of the West/ Fir an Iarthair”.
(Photo: Paddy Reilly)

MEN OF THE WEST

The Mayo connection in the forthcoming GAA final was one reason for the choice, another was that this time of year is that which witnessed the repression in Mayo after the defeat of the last rising of that year (and the last forever, the British and their Orange supporters may have thought, until Emmet came out five years later). And other reasons were that I could sing it as a macaronic song (with some of the verses in Irish and some in English), the song was not too long and it has a chorus in which participants could join.

Bartholomew Teeling, with the French who landed at Mayo, captured when they surrendered at Baile na Muc. Hung in Dublin and his body thrown into the "Croppy Hole".

Bartholomew Teeling, with the French who landed at Mayo, captured when they surrendered at Baile na Muc. Hung in Dublin and his body thrown into the “Croppy Hole”. (Photo source: Internet)

There were yet other reasons for the choice too – not in our culture of song and game, nor in the calendar, but in the ground under our feet, for somewhere under there in what was first called “The Croppies’ Hole” and later “Croppies’ Acre”, the mass grave of many United Irish, lie the bodies of the executed Matthew Tone — younger brother of Theobald Wolfe Tone (who was soon after to give his own life to the Rising) – and Bartholomew Teeling. The younger Tone and Teeling had landed with the French in Mayo, been taken prisoner after the surrender of the French at Baile na Muc, in Co.Longford, brought to Dublin and, despite their French Republican Army officer rank, tried as rebels and hung there.

And in researching background for this article, I came across even further Mayo connections.

The lyrics of Men of the West were written by William Rooney and put to the air of an Irish song called Eoghan Chóir written in turn — and also air apparently composed — by a Mayo United Irishman and songwriter, Riocard Bairéad (Richard Barrett3), who composed the even better-known Preab San Ól4.

The lyrics of Men of the West were later translated into Irish by Conchúr Mag Uidhir, who won a prize for that work at a Feis Ceoil in 1903 – again in Mayo. It was the lyrics of both these versions that I combined to make the macaronic version I chose to sing at the commemoration at Croppies’ Acre5.

THE DUBLIN SONGWRITER — BACKGROUND

While I need to do some research to find out more about this Mag Uidhir, quite a lot is known about William Rooney (Liam Ó Maolruanaigh). Born in the Dublin former red-light district known as “The Monto”6 in 1873, Rooney grew up in a what had been considered the second city of the British Empire but had declined in status with the abolition of the Irish (colonial) Parliament in 1800. The city contained the residence of the Crown’s representative in Ireland, a number of British army barracks and the administration apparatus of the colony, the latter in Dublin Castle. Dublin also contained a substantial loyalist population of the Ascendancy, in addition to “Castle Catholics”7. However, Dublin was also a focal point in Irish nationalist and separatist politics. Relatives and descendants of members and sympathisers of the United Irishmen of 1798 and 1803 lived in the city and the events were in the living memories of some.

William Rooney, journalist, organiser, Irish language revivalist and author of songs.

William Rooney, journalist, organiser, Irish language revivalist and author of songs. (Photo source: Internet)

Irish Republicanism had seen a resurgence with the Young Irelanders of 1848 and some of their supporters were easily alive when William Rooney was born in 1873 and during his childhood. The founding of the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1858 preceded Rooney’s birth by only 15 years and although the raid on the The Irish People newspaper took place in 1865, followed by the trial and conviction to penal servitude of Ó Donnobháin Rosa, Thomas Clarke Luby and John O’Leary, they would have been still talked about during Rooney’s childhood.

The following year, 1866 saw the failed rising of the Fenians in Ireland and also their shock invasion of Canada and, in 1867, the stirring freeing of the American Fenian prisoners in Manchester and the subsequent hanging of the three martyrs, Allen, Larkin and O’Brien. The spectacular rescue of escaping Fenian prisoners from Australia by the Catalpa and their celebrated delivery to the freedom in the United States took place in 1876.

Although these events were all over (or just occurring, in the case of the Catalpa) by the date of Rooney’s birth, their echoes remained – in living memory, in the cause of prisoners serving sentences in English jails or penal colonies and in agitation for a political prisoners’ amnesty. And God Save Ireland8, written to commemorate the Manchester Martyrs in 1866 by Timothy Daniel Sullivan would have been an extremely popular song among a wide section of the Dublin population during Rooney’s childhood, along with patriotic verses and songs by Thomas Moore (1779-1852), Thomas Davis (1814-1845) and James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849). Verse and songs by these poets were learned by ear and recited or sung but were also available in printed form, in songbooks, song sheets and nationalist publications.

Sullivan was a journalist, owning and editing the publications The Nation, Dublin Weekly News and Young Ireland. As a journalist, Sullivan published reports of meetings of the banned National League in December 1887, for which he was convicted and imprisoned for two months by the British administration. William Rooney was in his late teens at that time and Sullivan lived until 1914.

At the age of around thirteen William Rooney became acquainted with a leading Irish nationalist of his times, Arthur Griffith, through Rooney’s membership of The Irish Fireside Club, a literary discussion group. Both of them joined the Leinster Debating Society (which later became the Leinster Literary Society) which they soon led, Griffith as presidents and Rooney as Secretary. The early 1890s controversy surrounding Parnell’s relationship with Catherine O’Shea caused a serious disruption in the nationalist movement of the time and caused a serious split in the Irish Parliamentary Party of which the Leinster Literary Society became a casualty.

Rooney then formed the Celtic Literary Society in 1893, of which he became president; he also edited An Seanachuidhe (old spelling of “Seanchaí”, a story-teller, a relater of things past), the Society’s journal. The Society’s aims were the study of the Irish language, history, literature and music; it had branches in different parts of the country and its members included John O’Leary, Frank Hugh O’Donnell and Arthur Griffith.

AN GHAEILGE

William Rooney was fluent enough in the Irish language to write and to give orations in it and journalists of his times, after summarising a speech in English from the same platform, generally wrote only that he had spoken in Irish9. When he learned his Irish is not clear but he was teaching it in the offices of the Celtic Society. Then Eoin MacNeill got him to join the Gaelic League/ Connradh na Gaeilge after it was formed in 1893.

The Connradh was mainly concerned with promoting the Irish language and literature but also became a social focus in later years, hosting céilidhe (dances and occasion for songs, recitations). Patrick Pearse advocated a more political approach to promoting Irish culture and this accorded with Rooney’s opinion. On the other hand Rooney regarded Irish independence without the revival of the language and culture as meaningless and he castigated the Irish Parliamentary Party for its inaction on the Irish language.

Rooney gave an alternative example, traveling the country speaking publicly in Irish and in English on the need for Irish independence and for the revival of the Irish language.

JOURNALISM AND POLITICAL ORGANISATION

Building on his earlier writing in An Seanachuidhe, Rooney founded with Griffith The United Irishman newspaper in 1899 and his articles and other writings were published in a number of publications of his times:United Ireland, The Shamrock, Weekly Freeman, The Evening Herald, Shan Van Vocht and Northern Patriot (the latter two in Belfast).

Near the end of 1900, again in conjunction with Griffith, William Rooney helped found Cumann na nGaedheal.  The former Fenian John O’Leary was president and the Cumann was intended as an umbrella organisation to co-ordinate the activities of a number of nationalist groups (it was merged with others in 1907 to form the original Sinn Féin).

As the centenary of the 1798 Uprising approached, there was something of a fever of preparation with many indicating an interest in participation. Rooney would see his 25th birthday during centenary year and became of the most prominent organisers for the National Commemoration committee, if not, indeed, the main one.

The year 1898, somewhat similarly to the current centenary of the the 1916 Rising, saw commemorative plaques and monuments being erected, along with talks, meetings, lectures, articles and songs being written. According to historian Ruan O’Donnell, a feeling that the 1889 events had not reached an appropriate level led in 1903 to substantial commemorative events of Emmet’s rising in 1803. Many political working relationships were made during those years which were to survive into much more active days less than two decades since. Many of the songs we have today about the 1798 Rising were written during this period too and Rooney’s Men of the West was presumably also.

In the year of the 1798 centenary commemoration, one of the main centenary commemorations was held in Croppies’ Acre, attended by a reported 100,00010. Rooney was one of the main organisers and a stone was laid on the site which is there to this day.

Stone laid (or unveilled) during commemoration event in Croppies' Acre in 1898, the first centenary of the Rising. (Photo: Paddy Reilly)

Stone laid (or unveilled) during commemoration event in Croppies’ Acre in 1898, the first centenary of the Rising. The stone is on the ground near the north-west gate and corner of the park. (Photo: Paddy Reilly)

WILLIAM ROONEY IN MAYO

(The following text is taken from an article by Brian Hoban in the on-line edition of the Castlebar News for 22, Apr 2011)

William Rooney had visited Castlebar with Maud Gonne in 1898 for the centenary celebrations of ‘The Year of the French’. He gave a passionate speech in Irish in which he exhorted people to think for themselves, to educate themselves, and not to take their teachings from others.

He founded Castlebar’s first Public Library at the Town Hall, to which he dedicated his books. Three years later, at the early age of twenty-eight, William Rooney was dead, but the esteem in which he was held in Castlebar continued to grow. In 1911, a new Hurling Club in the town was named the ‘William Rooney’ in his honour. The following year “The Rooney Hall” was opened in Tucker Street. It became a local landmark for several generations, much used by various civic and voluntary organisations, including the PTAA.

The one surviving connection is in ‘Poems and Ballads’, a collection of Rooney’s poetry edited by Arthur Griffith and published in 1902, a year after his death. An original of this title is held by Mayo County Library where it can be consulted.

1798 Centennial Celebrations

William Rooney was one of the main protagonists in establishing the National Commemoration to celebrate the centennial of the 1798 rebellion. Only one month after its inception nationalists in Mayo formed the “Castlebar Central and Barony of Carra ’98 Centenary Association with James Daly appointed as president of the Connaught ’98 Centenary Council. On the 9th January 1898 a commemoration, which was presided over by James Daly, was held at Frenchill, near Castlebar. This was attended by Maud Gonne Mac Bride and addressed by James Rooney. ……………….

James Daly pointed out that the event was both about remembering dead patriots and undertaking “to abide by the principles of the men of ’98 until their country was free again and took its place among the nations of the earth.”

EARLY DEATH AND MEMORY

William Rooney died of TB in 1901 at the age of 27, shortly before he was due to marry. He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

In 1902 the United Irishman published a collection of his writings and in 1908 a collection of his work edited by Griffith, Poems and Ballads of William Rooney, was published. The publication was reviewed disparagingly in the Daily Express that year by James Joyce but Yeats dedicated the 1908 edition of Cathleen Ni Houlihan “To the Memory of William Rooney”. A collection of his lectures and articles, from the United Irishman was published by M.H. Gill the following year.

Griffith described William Rooney as “the Thomas Davis of the new movement”. Brian Ó hUigín (“Brian na Banban1882–1963), editor for many years of The Wolfe Tonne Annual and himself no slouch as a writer of songs and verse, said of Rooney that “he blazed the trail to 1916 and gave his life for Ireland”.

And many of William Rooney’s songs are still being sung.

End.

Wreath being laid by Pól Ó Scannaill inside the monument on behalf of a number of groups. (Photo: Paddy Reilly)

Wreath being laid by Pól Ó Scannaill inside the monument on behalf of a number of groups.  Padraig Drummond of Asgard 1916 Society MC of event.
(Photo: Paddy Reilly)

 

APPENDIX

THE MACARONIC VERSION OF MEN OF THE WEST/ FIR AN IARTHAIR

(Arranged by D.Breatnach)

1.

Má mholtar le dán is le h-amhrán,

Na fir a bhi tréan agus fíor,

Donal Fallon, historian, blogger, tour guide and broadcaster who gave the main oration

Donal Fallon, historian, blogger, tour guide and broadcaster who gave the main oration

Chuir clú agus cáil lena ndánacht

Ar shruthán ‘s gleann agus sliabh:

1798-panel-monument-wall

One of the panels inside the circular monument. (Photo: Paddy Reilly)

Ná fágaidh ar deire na tréan-fhir

Do chruinnigh ar phlánai Mhuigheo –

Nuair a ghnóthaí na Gail I Loch gCarman,

Said muinntir an Iarthair ‘bhí beo.

Chorus

I give you the gallant old West, boys,

Where rallied our bravest and best;

When Ireland lay broken and bleeding:

Hurrah boys, hurrah for the West!

enniscorthy-marching-to-gat

(Photo: Paddy Reilly)

2.

The hilltops with glory were glowing

‘twas the eve of a bright harvest day,

And the ships we’d been wearily awaiting

Sailed into Killalla’s broad bay.

And over the hills went the slogan

To awaken in everyone’s breast

That spirit that’s never been broke’ boys

Among the true hearts of the West.

Curfá

Seo sláinte muinntir an Iarthair daoibh,

Section of Croppies Acre showing circular 1798 monument in middle distance and Collins Barracks Museum in the far background. View is from NE gate on Wolfe Tone Quay. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

Section of Croppies Acre on a drier day, showing open circular 1798 monument in middle distance and Collins Barracks Museum in the far background. View is from SE gate on Wolfe Tone Quay. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

Do chruinnigh le cunamh san áir,

Mar sheas siad in aimsir an ghéar-chaill:

Seo sláinte fear Chonnacht go brách!

3.

Níor bhuail sé an dó dhéag san oíche

Gur ghlan’mar Cill Ala go breá:

‘S ní dheachaidh an ghrian síos ‘na dhiadh sin

Go raibh brat glas ar chúirt Bhéal an Átha.

Chruinnigh na céadta le cúnamh,

Agus mairfidh an scéal sin go buan;

An chaoi inar ruaigeadh na redcoats

As Caisleán an Bharraigh go Tuaim!

Chorus

I give you the gallant old West, boys,

Where rallied our bravest and best;

When Ireland lay broken and bleeding:

Hurrah boys, hurrah for the West!

4.

Agus gairim na Franncaigh breá láidre

Do tháining le Humbert anall,

Mar thug siad dúinn croí agus misneach

Nuair a bhíomar go brónach sa ngabháil.

Agus trócaire Dé ar na céadta

Do thuit is do leagadh san áir;

Tá a gcnámha faoi fhód ghlas na hÉireann

‘s cuimhneoidh muid orthu go brách.

Curfá

Seo sláinte muinntir an Iarthair daoibh,

Do chruinnigh le cúnamh san áir,

Mar sheas siad in aimsir an ghéar-chaill:

Seo sláinte fear Chonnacht go brách!

5.

Though all the bright dreamings we cherished

Went down in disaster and woe,

That spirit of old is still with us

That never will yield to the foe;

And Connacht is ready and awaiting

When the loud rolling tuck of the drum

Rings out to awaken the echoes

to tell us the morning has come.

Chorus.

I give you the gallant old West, boys,

Where rallied our bravest and best;

When Ireland lay broken and bleeding:

And looked for revenge to the West!

THE VERSES OMITTED IN THE MACARONIC VERSION

IN THE TRANSLATION INTO IRISH

2.

Tháinig na longa lá Fómhair,

Go cuan Chill Ala ag snámh,

‘S bhíomar chomh fada ag súil leo

Gur shíleamar nach dtiocfadh go brách.

Agus thosaigh na hadharca ag séideadh,

Ag fógairt go raibh siad ar fáil,

Agus corraíodh spreagadh in Éirinn

Nach múchfar i gConnacht go brách!

5,

Má caitheadh le fána ár smaointe,

S ár ndóchas faoi scrios agus léan,

Tá an fíor-spiorad beo inár gcroíthe

Nach ngéillfidh don námhaid go héag!

Agus féach: Táimid réidh ar an nóiméad

A chluinfimid torann an áir

Ag fógairt ar chlanna na hÉireann

Go bhfuail saoirse ár n-oileáin ar fáil!

Also, the final chorus in the Irish version:

Seo sláinte na gConnachtach fíora

Do chruinnigh le cúnamh san ár!

Siad togha agus rogha na tíre:

Seo sláinte sean-Chonnacht go bráth!

IN THE ENGLISH ORIGINAL

1.

While you honour in song and in story

the names of the patriot men,

Whose valour has covered with glory

full many a mountain and glen,

Forget not the boys of the heather,

who marshalled their bravest and best,

When Éire was broken in Wexford,

and looked for revenge to the West.

4.

And pledge we “The stout sons of France”, boys,

bold Humbert and all his brave men,

Whose tramp, like the trumpet of battle,

brought hope to the drooping again.

Since Éire has caught to her bosom

on many a mountain and hill

The gallants who fell so they’re here, boys,

to cheer us to victory still.

MODERN LAST VERSE ADDITION TO “BOLD ROBERT EMMET”

11Erin, mo mhuirnín, my love and my country!

Ireland, my Ireland, though dead I shall be,

Hear now the words of my final oration:

Write me no epitaph ‘til my country is free!

FOOTNOTES

1

Unknown author but sometimes credited to Tom Maguire (1892– 1993, famed leader of the Mayo Flying Column [yet another Mayo connection!] in the War of Independence, who later took the Republican side in the Civil War). On the other hand Zimmermann (1967) gives the song its earliest appearance as c.1900, when Maguire would have been around only eight years of age. For Tom Maguire credit see http://thewildgeese.irish/profiles/blogs/robert-emmet and a number of other references, some of which state inaccurately that Emmet was “hung, drawn and quartered”; that was indeed his sentence but the British practice of cutting the body of “traitors and rebels”open while still alive to access the entrails had been discontinued for decades although the decapitation part was still practiced and was carried out on Emmet.

2Bottom p.159, Remember Emmet, Ruan O’Donnell

3In the very brief research I carried out on the Mayo songwriter, I came across another songwriter by the name of Richard “Richie” Barrett (1933– 2006), an Afro-American who was also a singer, musician and band promoter, involved with such famous rythm ‘n blues groups as the Chantels and Three Degrees. One might hope for a family connection ….

4Translated later into English, recorded by the Dubliners folk and ballad group under the title Another Round.

5For lyrics, see the Appendix after article body and Sources.

6No.39 Mabbot Street, D1

7A pejorative term to describe Catholics who cooperated with the colonial Ascedancy regime in Ireland and sought admission to their social circles (for example, to balls and receptions held at the Castle in the 19th Century). An even more contemptuous description for the behaviour of this stratum was the Irish “ag sodar i ndiaidh na h-uaisle” (‘trotting after the nobles’, i.e. like dogs or perhaps servants)

8He also wrote the All for Ireland! anthem, Song from the Backwoods and the Michael Dwyer ballad.

11This last verse was written in 2014 by Alan P. Barrett

INFORMATION SOURCES:

http://www.castlebar.ie/Nostalgia/HISTORIC-PAINTING-RETRIEVED.shtml

http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/4034

http://www.ricorso.net/rx/az-data/authors/r/Rooney_W/life.htm

http://www.iol.com/~fagann/1798/songs.htm

http://www.ainm.ie/Bio.aspx?ID=1038 (NB: I am not the Diarmuid Breathnach, joint author of this piece — please note the slightly different spelling of his family name)

http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/and-william-rooney-spoke-in-irish/

https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/mass-croppies-burial-ground-open-to-the-public-once-again/

https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/captain-bartholomew-teeling-united-irishmen-hero-believed-to-be-buried-in-croppies-acre/

O’Donnell, Ruan: Remember Emmet: Images of the Life and Legacy of the Irish Revolutionary Robert Emmet, National Library of Ireland (2003)

Zimmermann, Georges-Denis, Songs of Irish Rebellion: Political Street Ballads and Rebel Songs 1780-1900 (1967), Allen Figgis, Dublin; reprinted (2012) by Four Courts Press.

SIXTEEN MURDERS IN ONE AREA OVER LESS THAN 24 HOURS

Diarmuid Breatnach

On a sunny but somewhat cool day on the 30th April, despite being on the cusp of the first day of Summer, a plaque was unveiled in North King Street. It was at last a memorial, a kind of formal recognition of a series of murders that took place in the locality 100 years ago. So many murders, in fact, that they have collectively become known as the “North King Street Massacre.”

In the closing days of the 1916 Rising the British army exacted brutal revenge on the civilian population of North King Street. Between 28th and 29th April sixteen civilian men and boys were brutally murdered by members of the South Staffordshire regiment of the British army.

The bodies of many of the victims were secretly buried in yards and cellars and personal items of the victims were stolen. Not one British soldier or officer was ever held to account for this atrocity.

The revenge on the civilian population of that small area of Dublin was for the spirited and well-planned defence of the area by Volunteers under Commandant Edward Daly, whose district HQ was the Four Courts. 60 Volunteers fought off repeated attacks by a force overall in their area of over 800 British soldiers — outnumbered 40 to 3 and, furthermore, without a single machine gun, of which the British had several (and better, faster firing rifles).  A video on the battle by Marcus Howard can be found here, with interviews with Darren Kelly and Derek Molyneux, authors of When the Clock Struck in 1916 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kuy5u6BnjQo

Lone piper leading march from Stoneybatter along North Brunswick Street

Lone piper leading march from Stoneybatter along North Brunswick Street

THE MASSACRE

An account and contemporary statements on the murders may be found here http://source.southdublinlibraries.ie/bitstream/10599/11507/5/Fragment1916.pdf from which the following has been extracted:

‘These 15 unoffending citizens were murdered by the military under circumstances which mark the crime as a cold-blooded and calculated atrocity hardly equalled in the blackest annals of warfare. None of the victims had any connection whatever with the insurrection, and indeed some of them may have been entirely opposed to it. One of the- murdered men, immediately before being shot, pointed to a pictorial representation of the Royal Standard which hung over his bed as a proof of non-complicity with the Insurgents, but no mercy was shown him.

‘The doomed men were torn from the bosom of their family, and despite all exposulation and explanation regarding their views, or identity, and despite the tears and entreaties of their terror-stricken relatives and women-folk, were led away to be slaughtered. In some instances requests were made that the military should at least make enquiries at the neighbouring police stations or obtain information from some of the prominent citizens to whom they were known. But all appeals were fruitless, they all shared a common fate at the hands of their cruel captors.

‘The young son of poor Hickey — a lad of scarcely 15 years — was at the last moment heard pleading pathetically for his father’s life. Both father and son were butchered together.

‘The wife of one of the murdered men carried a baby a few weeks old in her arms; the wife of another gave birth to a child but a few weeks after her husband’s murder. Both saw their husbands led away to death without even a moment’s respite to snatch a last farewell to those they loved. The houses in which they were taken were never at any time occupied by the Volunteers and no traces of arms or ammunition were found on the premises.

‘None of the murders was done during a sudden attack of assault, or in the heat of passion. In some cases several hours elapsed, allowing ample time for consultation with the officers in command before the doomed men were slaughtered. The officers seem in all cases to have overseen or directed the “ military operations.’ It would be difficult to find a parallel to these atrocious crimes.

‘At the inquest on Patrick Bealan and James Healy, Lieut.-Col. Taylor did not appear but sent a statement to’ the Coroner in the course of which he said :

“ No persons were attacked by the troops other than those who were assisting the rebels, and found with arms in their possession.”

General Maxwell afterwards made the sufficiently candid and luminous statement in the “ Daily Mail ” respecting the conduct of the troops under his command:

“. . . . Possibly some unfortunate incidents, which we should regret now, mav have occurred . . . . it is even possible that under the horrors of this attack some of them ‘ saw red ’, that is the inevitable consequences of a rebellion of this kind. It was allowed to come into being among these people and could not be suppressed by velvet glove methods, where troops were so desperately opposed and attacked. Some, at any rate, of the allegations are certainly false, and are probably made in order to establish a claim for compensation from the Government.”

Past and Future

Past and Future

Section of crowd at North King Street at unveiling of plaque event

Section of crowd at North King Street at unveiling of plaque event

‘Repeated attempts were made to have a public enquiry into the facts of these military murders, but were opposed by the British Government.’

Sixteen civilians had been murdered in cold blood in one of the principal cities of the British Empire by soldiers of that very Empire.  No official investigation ever took place, no soldier or officer was ever charged.

NO MEMORIAL FOR NINETY-NINE YEARS

It is perhaps understandable that no memorial was put up to mark the massacre while the British remained in occupation of the city – it would have been taken down by the authorities. But after the 26-County State was set up in 1921, it is less easy to understand. These victims were innocent civilians and not partisan to either side during the Civil War or the years of anti-Republican repression that followed. Not even the allegedly ‘Republican’ governments of Fianna Fáil provided a permanent marker to commemorate the massacre.

But for some years, Terry Crosbie, a local history enthusiast, has been campaigning to get a memorial erected to remember the massacre and its victims. Slowly, over the years, his campaign attracted support and finally came to fruition this year, the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising and of the massacre too. Terry had in mind a boulder with a plaque on it but found that difficult to advance and, faced with a plaque being at last permitted and the wish to see the massacre being marked in its centenary, was pleased to see the erection of the plaque 100 years after those hours of terror for the area.

Historians and Reenactors by the plaque

Historians and Reenactors by the plaque

Terry Lyons (foreground), moving spirit behind the commemoration, in private conversation after the event

Terry Lyons (foreground), moving spirit behind the commemoration, in private conversation after the event

A PLAQUE AT LAST

The parade for the march to the site assembled at 2.00pm outside Kavanagh’s Pub on Aughrim Street in Stoneybatter and not long afterwards departed in a short parade, led by a piper, to North King Street where the plaque was unveiled

Dr. Mary Muldowney of the Smithfield and Stoneybatter People’s History Project presided at the short ceremony. However, the amplification seemed poor and most people failed to hear what was being said. A number of “We can’t hear!” calls resulted in slightly better volume but still not enough for most to hear. A song that had been specifically written about the massacre was played but the same difficulty prevailed.Leacht

The plaque was unveiled to loud applause and wreaths and single lillies were placed before it by people related to the massacre victims.

The attendance was a healthy one in numbers as may be seen from the photos but also attracted a great cross-section of the political spectrum: older Stickies and Provos, some Left Labour, independent socialists and Republicans, housing activists, Save Moore Street activists, anti-Water Tax campaigners mixed with historians and local people who had no political organisational or campaign affiliation to speak of.

It was good to see a permanent memorial at last to the murder in cold blood of 16 civilians by an Army that has been responsible for countless atrocities around the world, including a number during the 30 Years War in the Six Counties; at least one of their units is accused in bronze here for what they did over a period of less than 24 hours one hundred years ago.

End.

Will The Black And Tans Be Added To The Glasnevin Wall of Shame?

Timely article on the Necrology Wall at Glasnevin Cemetery and what seems like an intention to add to it the names of Black & Tans, Auxiiliaries and B Specials who were killed by Republicans.
https://ansionnachfionn.com/2016/04/06/will-the-black-and-tans-be-added-to-the-glasnevin-wall-of-shame/

 

An Sionnach Fionn

Further on the divisive “Wall of Remembrance” unveiled in the historic grounds of Glasnevin Cemetery on Sunday, a monument which partly pays tribute to the members of the British Army and Police who lost their lives during the Easter Rising of 1916, the motivation behind its erection was clearly heralded by the Glasnevin Trust in a statement from its chairman, John Green, submitted to an Oireachtas committee in November of 2015. This includes a potentially troubling passage, highlighted below :

“…Glasnevin Trust has been working closely with the State in playing its part in the Decade of Centenaries. Glasnevin, true to its mission of serving people from all creeds, beliefs and walks of life, has been central to a number of State commemorative ceremonies. These have ranged from the commemoration of Irish men who lost their lives in the First World War to Collins and Griffith…

This work will continue right through the 1916 Centenary Commemorations with…

View original post 328 more words

Colonic News extract: Executions for State 1916 Commemoration in Dublin

Diarmuid Breatnach

The Colonic News, “Hanging Will Do Them Good”

Friday 24th April 2016

The gallows being erected at the O'Connell Street approach to North Earl Street (Photo D.Breatnach)

The gallows being erected at the O’Connell Street approach to North Earl Street
(Photo D.Breatnach)

(extract)………. As part of the Dublin State 1916 Commemoration a gallows has been erected at the approach to North Earl Street. It is understood that there will be ceremonial executions here over the weekend. Those listed to ‘take the drop’ over Easter (not at all to be confused with ‘taking A drop’) are believed to be a Water Charge Protester, a Minister Botherer, a Homeless Person and A Nother. Gardaí have refused to confirm the names prior to informing their families, “Out of humane considerations” said Garda Commissioner Battenum.

The gallows, constructed by Pierrepoint Solutions of London, can accommodate eight condemned people at once, according to the manufacturers, “with a little squeeze.” A number of Moore Street Blockaders had been in line to partake of the hanging also but a recent judicial decision has resulted in their surprise acquittal. Asked about the unexpected turn of events, Minister Humphreys said “chucky poor law” which is understood to be a Monghan Orange dialect variation of the Gaelic or Erse for “Our day will come”.

Rumours abound that Hillary Clinton and President Obama and other White House personnel are to have live footage of the executions beamed to them, in recognition of their interest in such events.

Other high points of the 1916 commemoration will be a reading out of the 1916 editorials of the Irish Times and Independent condemning the Rising and calling for stern punishment for the Rebels and, in the case of the Independent, calling not too subtly for the death penalty for Connolly and Mac Diarmada. Sir Bob Geldoff will read the Times editorial and Diarmaid Ferriter the Independent’s.

The full list of all British personnel killed during the Rising will also be read out and in a special addition which is sure to find favour with everyone, also the names of the Lancers’ horses, previously neglected and unrecognised but campaigned for by historian Ann Matthews for many years now, who makes the point that although they were military, they were working horses. Kevin Myers will read out the British Personnel’s names and Frank McDonald will perform the duty for the horses.

After ‘The Last Post’ has been played by an Irish Army bugler, the ceremony will conclude with the solemn “Je vous prie”, with all dignitaries present going down on one knee and, partly in Irish but wholly in English, begging Her Royal Majesty’s pardon for having risen against her predecessor and any and every vexation given since.  Going down on both knees had been originally scheduled but was since ruled out as being too servile (and in view also of certain words on the nearby monument to Jim Larkin).

The ceremony will be televised in full and, in an exercise of civic involvement, people throughout the country will be encouraged to kneel at the same time and to repeat the words as they are pronounced.

Substantial security steps have been taken to prevent undesirable elements such as citizens attending the events.

Some of the physical security measures -- view north along O'Connell St. from the Spire

Some of the physical security measures — view north along O’Connell St. from the Spire (Photo D.Breatnach)

In separate but related developments, Dublin City Council Executive Own Keegan and Jim Keoghan of the Planning Department have announced

Some of the physical security measures -- view southwards along O'Connell St. from the Spire

Some of the physical security measures — view southwards along O’Connell St. from the Spire (Photo D.Breatnach)

plans for the changing of the North King Street name to “South Staffordshire Street” and the erection of a 1916 commemorative plaque with the words “Nothing happened here in 1916”.

Similarly, in Balbriggan the Development Association has unveiled plans to rename the main street “Auxiliary Boulevarde” in memory of the illuminations carried out by members of the Auxiliary Division on the night of 20th/ 21st September 1920.  A street party will be held to mark the renaming with children’s face-painting (black or red, white and blue colours only, apparently) and dressing up in Auxilliary or RIC-type costumes for photos, ‘Knock-the-Volunteer Over’ ball-throwing etc.  The candy floss and rock stick on sale will be in red, white and blue colours.  All the cooked food will be char-grilled to commemorate the historic events in 1920.

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