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Friday, February 12, 2021

The Tenth Anniversary of the Easter Rising on 2RN in 1926


The tenth anniversary of the Easter Rising would have been ideally commemorated on the new radio service 2RN in Ireland but the opportunity was missed. The new station had begun broadcasting on January 1st 1926. The new service, while in pole position to bring takes of the Rising to a wider audience was hampered by two rules. Firstly, the station director Seamus Clandillon was urged by the Government to avoid any political discussions on the airwaves and with the bitterness of the Civil War still fresh in the minds of many, discussions on the Easter Rising was not about to be allowed rock the boat. 


Some of those who had taken part in the Rising did appear on air over the Easter period 1926 but they were confined to performing musical items. The second problem for 2RN was that for much of Easter weekend 1926 they were off the air. As part of their license from the Government the station was silent on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The rest of the weekend Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday was devoted to orchestral and classical music performed live in the 2RN studios on Little Denmark Street. On Saturday the station was on air for just three hours 7.30pm to 10.30pm with the following schedule,

7.30—German Lesson

7.45—Irish Talk

8. 0—Station Orchestra. 8.20—Songs—Mr. A. J. O'Farrell (Baritone). 

8 30—Organ Recital from St. Patrick's Cathedral

9. 0 — Songs Miss Edie O'Dwyer (Soprano). 

9.10 — Recital Mr. Frank Fay and Party. 

9.40  - Station Orchestra. 

9.50 — Songs—Mr. A. J. O’Farrell. 

10.0—Weather Forecast. 

10.01-10.30 - Choir and Orchestra Station Mr. Joseph O'Neill (Tenor).

Closedown

 

While on the Sunday there was only two hours broadcast which was entirely made up of music from the Army Band conducted by Colonel Braise. Easter Monday's programmes were again on air for three hours from 7.30 with the entire schedule presented by the Gaelic League, whose then President Douglas Hyde had been the first voice on the new station the previous January. 


On the streets, there were parades and commemorations which were widely reported in the newspapers but the new 2RN did not even have a news service to report on the 1916 events. As the years moved on from the iconic events of 1916, Irish radio and later television extensively covered the events that took place to commemorate the Rising but in 1926, the new medium of radio did not feature. 


Sunday, February 7, 2021

2020 SUCKED!! THANK GOD FOR 2021

 

For reasons that will probably become clearer shortly, I have recently been attending counselling and one of the ‘tricks’ she encouraged me to follow was to write down all the negatives in my life and then find the positives within them and write them in a separate column. This is the result, I hope it helps someone else, even a little bit.

 

January 1st 2020 began like most other New Years with the fervent hope that we would have a good year. I was happily working away as a pub day manager in one of Dublin’s finest establishments, change was on the horizon as I reduced my workload there and began to focus more on my hobby, that was now paying, lecturing on aspects of Irish history. There was so much to look forward to. In March, I was invited on a funded trip to Washington DC to lecture the following October and my youngest daughter was going to go with me. In early March we sat down to plan the trip, flights, accommodation and events including a visit to the home my sporting hero’s the Washington Redskins.  Two weeks later, some new words were in our vocabulary Covid 19, self-isolation and lockdown. Paddy’s Day came and went but I was suddenly feeling unwell. I just had a cold and an irritating cough, I told myself repeatedly. It got progressively worse and two weeks later on a bright March morning, I was being wheeled out of the house by an ambulance crew in full PPE, much to the upset of my eighty-year-old mother. More new words, low blood oxygen level, temperature spikes, ICU. I had Coronavirus and I was ill, very ill.

 

I spent those first few agonising days in St. Vincent’s hospital, in an out of consciousness, well aware from the constant news reporting that so many were going into hospital and not coming out. I rang my children to reassure them I was OK, firmly believing that it would be the last time I would hear their voices. It was a dark time. Medical care was delivered through a glass window, communication by phone, this was no ordinary hospital stay. After pumping me full of drugs I turned a corner, the first real positive. As I was moved from ICU to an isolation room, the scariest moment happened. As an orderly in a full hazmat suit wheeled my gurney down those long plain painted hallways, a gentleman, about twelve feet in front, blew a whistle and everyone darted out of the hallways into doorways as I passed. ‘Unclean’ was the overriding feeling but the need for caution overrode everything. Another ambulance ride and a transfer to St Michaels Hospital in Dun Laoghaire was a step in the right direction. I never knew this wonderful hospital existed. The care was outstanding. I felt human again. The food was magnificent not least because my appetite and taste were back. I should have put up a TripAdvisor post to signpost their wonderful facility. Another positive as I was wheelchaired out to be collected by my sister, the feeling of wind and a light shower on my face was truly a positive.

 

After two weeks, I was home, still required to self-isolate, the great news was that despite the fact that she was the only person in the house with me, my mother never caught the ‘bug’. The pub was closed, the university was closed and I was the recipient of another new term ‘the Government Covid payment’. I was now out walking every day, enjoying the fresh air and occasional summer sunshine. I built up enough strength to for the first time run (truthfully a fast walk) the Women’s Mini Marathon with my family to raise funds for the Blackrock Hospice and yes, I know I’m a man but hey it’s 2020. That was a huge milestone. Then one Sunday evening as we were conducting our family Zoom quiz (yes, another new word in our vocabulary ‘Zoom’), I was rocked to the core when I was told my friend Declan, a year older than me had been found dead. He was the first person I asked to be best man at my wedding but he turned it down simply because he hated priests. But he did enjoy the reception. We were Rovers fans together travelling Ireland on the supporters’ bus, away days in Bray, no match, just a pub crawl. A road trip to London to see the first ever WWE event held this side of the Atlantic now we lined the avenue outside Mount Jerome as the hearse passed, we all popped open a can of beer and toasted his memory. It created a positive memory from a sad day. Funerals are a centrepiece of grief in Ireland, cathartic, but Covid dehumanised it, robbed the dignity of a poignant farewell, left us feeling guilty. At least the small socially distant tribute outside for Declan was a far cry from Ronan O’Rahilly’s funeral, a friend and fellow free radio advocate, whose coffin sat alone in a country church with just a priest and a web link to embrace the grief of others. It was perhaps a jolt into the reality that Covid was having in our so called normal daily lives. 

 

The pub briefly reopened under strict restrictions. It was OK but it was tough dealing with idiots who thought they knew better and refused to follow the rules. I had been forty years working in pubs and during this period and for the very first time one afternoon, I was bitten by a drunken female customer, who did not like being told that she was not being allowed in. Another trip to St Vincent’s A&E for treatment, a tetanus shot and scarily, a HIV test. I did not realise how badly that would rock me not least the mental trauma of finding myself going back through the doors of that A&E.

 

On the positive side, a book I had written was published in the strangest of times but I am very proud of it, as it brought my two loves, pubs and history together and thanks to the publishers they found a perfect title ‘Thirst for Freedom’. It tells, for the first time, the story of the role of pubs, bar staff and alcohol in the fight for Irish Independence.

 

Then the devastating news that my Uncle in New York was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was a fine hard-working man, a true humanitarian and he helped me and my family so much. When our own pub suffered badly after the financial crash, he rode in like the ‘Knight in Shining Armour’ and provided financial help not as a loan but as a gift. The gift wasn’t to keep the pub open but to relieve the stress of raising a young family at the time. His death hit me like a rock and to make matters worse because of Covid, I couldn’t fly over to pay my respects. A webcam of the mass was how we said our goodbyes, sanitized and impersonal. When his son died in the line of duty with the NY Fire department, I made a day trip to the big Apple to be there to say my farewells. How times had changed so dramatically.

 

Surely the year could get no worse. I was sorely mistaken. After feeling a bit below par and a visit to my doctor, I was back at Vincent’s hospital to be diagnosed with long Covid. Once again, the huge positive here is the care, the professionalism and the dedication of those frontline workers who have dragged us through this swamp of pain to firmer ground. I found myself back out to St Michaels for pulmonary rehab, the torture chamber of exercise. The positives are that my lungs are getting better, the lack of ‘umpf’ was lifting, I realised I wasn’t alone and the phycologist was making me write these lists of positives and negatives.

 

In 1992, I married the most beautiful lady in the world. We had three wonderful children together but as a famous Princess once pointed out, there was someone else in the marriage. She had the cruellest disease of all, she alas had a dependence on alcohol and it took her life. I am heartbroken, words will not reach this page to describe that pain and even though we separated some years ago, we never divorced. The hardest part was not being able to say a proper goodbye and thank her for what she had done in her short but amazing forty-nine years. She studied hard part time at Maynooth and offered her experience and knowledge learned to help children less fortunate than ours and single mothers struggling after giving birth. She spent hours in the cells of Pearse Street Garda station soothing the panic of often homeless children, who had been arrested for vagrancy and petty thefts.  But her demons got the better of her body and she slipped from this mortal earth.

 

The positives of that part of the story are those three wonderful strong children. I am so proud of them, how they stuck together in difficult times, there for each other, caring and wanting to do the right thing. They are her legacy and she would be proud. It gave me enormous relief that all their partners, who care for them, were there by their sides, offered support and comfort. Now for the real positive of his tale of woe for 2020, I am the proudest father of three gay children, yes, all three. I’m probably the only father in Ireland that can attest to that wonderful claim. They are in great relationships and even if they don’t last, their partners support during my three’s mothers passing, will live long in my memory. I believe in the old adage of live and let live but some narrow minded people have belittled me for admitting to three gay children, their pathetic insults do little justice to their education or background. One woman who I had got to know through a social media app during the lockdown was very happy to converse with me for almost three months but as soon as I revealed that my three wonderful children were gay. She reacted with,

‘is there something wrong with you?’ and end of conversation.

 

The Redskins, as a positive reinforcement of inclusivity, dropped the name and became the Washington Football Team, slowly moving with the times and into the playoffs. As I look at a different person in the mirror, yet it’s me, we have all lost in 2020, personally, emotionally, financially, physically, mentally and humanity is not the same anymore, the one important positive I will leave you with and perhaps the reason I have put these words down, is my tree looks the same as it did in 2019 and it will once again in 2021, the constant that life goes on, the fight must remain and our faith in our fellow Irishman or woman must and should stay strong.

Sunday, November 8, 2020



Purchase your signed copy of this important historical account of the role of Pubs, Publicans and their staff in the fight for Irish Independence. 

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thirstforfreedom@mail.com

 

with your contact details. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Ireland's Biggest Funerals



Ireland’s funeral traditions have been well documented and in modern times some of Ireland’s most famous citizens have been honoured with very large funerals. Today the ceremony and reverence displayed at a state funeral is often conveyed on television and with access to instant media, the large funerals of the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century have become less common. This is a list of thirty of the largest funerals ever seen in Ireland.

To attract an attendance of over 15,000 at your funeral in 1729 was a remarkable achieved both to your status and the efforts of those to attend in an era when transport options were limited. This though is the esteem to which William Connolly, known as The Speaker Connolly was held when he died in November 1729. Born in Ballyshannon the son of an innkeeper, Connolly rose to become the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and a popular politician. Once in charge of the Revenue Commissioners though his position as the Speaker he was the de facto PM in Ireland. His legacy was to build the impressive Castletown House as the family residence which can still be seen today.

In the mid-19th century with a growing sense of Irish nationalism in the face of the worst famine to hit the country, the funeral of the nationalist Daniel O’Connell was bound to draw a large crowd. O’Connell, after whom the main thoroughfare of our capital is named, died in August 1847 in Genoa, Italy and his body returned to Ireland for burial. According to the London Times 100,000 lined the streets of the city to bid farewell to the native of County Kerry.

In March 1861, the Evening Post reported that on a desperately wet day, over 20,000 people attended the funeral of Captain John Boyd O’Neill. O’Neill was Captain of HMS Ajax and had lost his life heroically saving others as a storm raged in the Irish Sea. He was buried in St. Patrick’s Catederal.

In November 1861, Fermanagh born Young Irelander Terence Bellew McManus died in San Francisco and his body transported to Ireland for burial. He had taken part in the 1848 Rebellion and having been convicted was sent to Van Diemen’s land. He escaped from Australia after three years and made his way to the United States. His funeral to Glasnevin cemetery according to the ‘The Nation’ newspaper was watched by over a quarter of a million people on the streets of Dublin. Of that total 50,000 marched behind the coffin as it made its way through the city.

When the Most Reverend Daniel O’Connor, the Bishop of Saldes died at the Augustinian Friary at John’s Lane Church in July 1867, fifty thousand Dubliners lined the cortege route from Thomas Street to Glasnevin Cemetery. Born in 1786, he joined the priesthood in 1810, he spent many years on the missions in India. He returned to Ireland suffering from ill health caused by the extreme tropical conditions to continue as a popular bishop in Dublin for over twenty years. These years included the worst of the famine years and the political upheaval caused by the growing rebellious movement across Ireland against British rule. He passed at the age of 81.

In May 1876, The Nation newspaper reported that a crowd in excess of 20,000 ‘sombre souls’ lined the funeral route for Joseph P Ronayne in his native Cork City. Born in 1822 the son of a Cork glass maker he made his name as a civil engineer especially through the expansion of the railways in Munster. He was elected as a Cork member of Parliament for the Home Rule League in a 1872 bye election, retaining the seat in the 1874 General Election. He died in Queenstown and in an obituary he was described as being ‘endeared by all, by a noble generosity, a genuine spirit of self-abnegation, a modesty that could conseal neither his remarkable powers not the brillancy of his wit. A gracious manner, open handed charity and a kindly heart.’

In October 1891, Dublin would witness one of the biggest funerals ever seen in the city, even to this day. Even at the relatively young age of 45 at his death, Charles Stewart Parnell left a lasting impression on his nation and a legacy that helped Ireland achieve independence. Born in Avondale, Co. Wicklow he was elected to the British House of Commons in April 1875 as a nationalist MP. His Home Rule party, The Irish Parliamentary Party struggled for the morale high ground with revolutionary nationalists like the IRB but his party in 1885 held the balance of power in Westminster and his support of the Liberal Government was conditional on Home Rule being adopted for Ireland. At the height of his success, a personal scandal when it was revealed that he was having a longtime affair with a married woman Kitty O’Shea and had fathered a number of his children irrevocably damaged his reputation and career. When he died in 1891 after a gruelling election campaign when he was already in ill health took his life, nearly a quarter of a million people lined the streets of cold snowy Dublin to bid farewell to the Irish patriot and statesman.

In a new century in March 1903, one of the old guard of Irish nationalism Charles Gavan Duffy died in France. His body was returned to Ireland where the Freeman’s Journal reported in excess of 20,000 on the streets of the capital to watch his coffin being transported from the docks to the Pro Cathedral and onwards to Glasnevin Cemetery.

One of the biggest funerals ever witnessed as an orchestrated piece of nationalist theatre. When the elderly leader of the IRB, Jerimiah O’Donovan Rossa died in New York, his body was transported back to Ireland in July 1915 for a stage managed funeral to Glasnevin which will historically be remembered for Patrick Pearse’s graveside oration which included the famous quotation, ‘they have left us our Fenian dead, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace’. The rallying cry was the opening verbal shots of the 1916 Easter Rising. Twenty thousand marched behind the hearse from the Pro-Cathedral on Marlborough Street to Glasnevin with the streets lined by over 150,000 according to Irish Independent and the Freeman’s Journal.

As the green fields of France turned crimson red with blood, a German U boat off the coast of County Cork caught the ocean liner The Lusitania in its torpedo crosshairs. On May 5th 1915, as she reached the conclusion of her cross Atlantic crossing from New York to Liverpool with 1,962 guests and crew on board she was sunk by German torpedoes. 1,198 people lost their lives in the icy waters off the Cork Coast. Bodies that were recovered were taken to Queenstown (Cobh) where a mass grave was prepared long before a DNA service could identify those who had no personal belongings to repatriate them to their families. According to British Pathe over 10,000 lined the route as one hundred and forty-eight unidentified victims were taken to a small cemetery the crowds made up of locals and military personal based in Cork.

The most deaths the following year was those executed in the aftermath of the Rising but they were not accorded a normal burial instead buried by the British in then unmarked graves. In September 1917 more than forty thousand lined Dublin streets in defiance of the British authorities to witness the funeral of Thomas Ashe who had died following complications in Mountjoy Prison when he was force fed by the prison authorities after being on hunger strike. The British in their clumsy attempts not to create another martyr for Irish nationalism offered the perfect patriot for a huge funeral on the streets of battle damaged Dublin.

Outside the capital, in Cork in November 1920 the Mayor of Ireland’s second largest city Terence McSwiney died on Hunger Strike at Brixton prison in England after 74 days on strike. Future Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh who was in London at the time of McSwiney’s death remarked, ‘a nation that has such citizens will never surrender’.  After the murder of his mayoral predecessor Thomas McCurtain on March 20th 1920, McSwiney was elected mayor. He was arrested by the British military forces on August 12th and sentenced to two years in prison following a court martial charged with having seditious material. Thirty thousand filed passed his coffin at St. George’s Catederal in London. Fearing a massive Republican funeral in Dublin, the British forced his family to take his body directly to Cork. Despite heavy and at times brutal security arrangements put in place by the British, over 15,000 attended the funeral in Cork where McSwiney was laid to rest in St. Finbar’s Cemetery.

The politician who would deliver the graveside oration for Terence McSwiney would be the recipient of the next big funeral in Dublin in August 1922, when Arthur Griffith died. Griffith had headed the delegation that attended Downing Street for the Treaty negotiations at the end of the War of Independence. He worked tirelessly and even though ill continued a heavy workload leading to his collapse and death on a Dublin street on August 12th 1922. According to various newspapers reports of the day over 100,000 people lined the streets of Dublin from the Pro Catederal to Glasnevin cemetery four days later. One of the most high profile mourners was Michael Collins who would replace Griffith’s as the de facto head of state.

Collins himself morbidly would be the next big funeral in Dublin. Ten days after Griffith’s death, while touring his native County Cork, Michael Collins’s motorcade was ambushed near Beal na Blath outside Macroom. In the midst of a bloody Civil War, the Free State forces transported Collins’s body via ship from Cork to Dublin where his body lay in state at City Hall. The funeral mass was celebrated by the Archbishop of Dublin Rev. Byrne along with 300 priests. A gun carraige drawn by six black horses carried the coffin and fourteen further cars were required for the wreaths. To allow as many as possible to witness the occasion, the cortege left the Pro Cathederal and headed down Gardiner Street, over Butt Bridge onto Great Brunswick Street (now Pearse Street), around Merrion Square, onto St Stephens Green, down Grafton Street, through O’Connell Street and onto Glasnevin via Dorset Street taking over four hours to pass any one point on the route. A half a million people paid their respects to the fallen leader followed by a graveside oration delivered by General Richard Mulcahy before internment.
 In April 1932, one of the largest funerals for a woman took place when the mother of the executed 1916 leader Patrick Pearse, Margaret passed away. Having lost two sons to the executioner’s bullets in 1916, Patrick and William, Margaret continued to be a political activist for the rest of her life. In 1921 she was elected as a Sinn Fein MP but having taken the anti-treaty side during the subsequent debates in Dail Eireann she left with DeValera. She helped DeValera found Fianna Fail and also strived to keep open her son’s school St. Enda’s in Rathfarnham raising thousands to keep it going.  Her funeral, soon after Fianna Fail and DeValera had taken power for the first time was a propaganda coup for the new Government. An estimated 40,000 filed passed her coffin laying in state in City Hall and over 100,000 lined the four mile route from Westland Row to Glasnevin where DeValera delivered the graveside oration.

One of the saddest funerals in Dublin was that of three firemen Thomas Nugent, Peter McArdle and Robert Malone of Tara Street station who were killed as they fought a fire on Pearse Street in October 1936. Led by Eamon DeValera and members of the Government, along with the families of the fallen firefighters and colleagues from Dublin, Ireland and further afield, the cortege travelled from the con-celebrated Mass in Westland Row to Glasnevin watched by what the Irish Press estimated as 100,000 people but other sources put the total nearer 40,000, still an impressive turn out in tribute. A volley of shot was fired over the graves by colleagues of Robert Malone, who had served alongside DeValera in Boland’s Mill during the Easter Rising.

In November 1960, Ireland was taking its place amongst the nations of the world and lending its weight to UN peacekeeping missions around the world but events in the Congo would according to the Irish Independent bring 300,000 Irish citizens onto the streets of Dublin to pay tribute to 9 Irish soldiers murdered at the Niemba ambush in the Congo. Those who died were Kevin Gleeson and Michael McGuinn from Carlow, Hugh Gaynor, Peter Kelly, Liam Dougan, Matthew Farrell, Thomas Fennell, Anthony Browne and Gerard Killeen all from Dublin.

In the days before the Easter Rising, former British diplomat Roger Casement was arrested for treason for his contacts with the Germans as he attempted to land arms off the coast of Kerry. He was secretly transported to London where he was tried and executed at Penteville Prison. In accordance with most execution he was buried within the prison walls in an unmarked grave but as relations between the two islands thawed, Roger Casement’s body was returned to Ireland for burial at Glasnevin cemetery in March 1965. According to the Evening Herald 30,000 lined the streets of the capital as the cortege passed the GPO on its way to the northside burial grounds.

Dublin born Sean T. O’Kelly became Ireland’s second President in June 1945 and served two terms. A veteran of the Easter Rising and the War of Independence, he served in various roles including Sinn Fein’s envoy to the US after the Civil War and in various Fianna Fail cabinets after 1932. He passed away in November 1966 with the Irish Press reporting 30,000 lining the streets of the capital to bid farewell to the former President.

As 1969 arrived the troubles in Northern Ireland intensified and in September 1971 the death of a fourteen year schoolgirl shot dead in Derry brought 10,000 out onto the streets of the Maiden city for her funeral. Annette McGavigan was caught in crossfire between an IRA unit and British soldiers near her home in the Bogside. She became the 100th civilian to be killed since the start of the troubles and her memory remembered in the ‘Death of Innocence’ mural in the Bogside where she is depicted in her green school uniform. Civil rights leaders including Ivan Cooper and John Hume attended the large funeral.

One of the survivors of the Easter Rising and a man at the heart of Irish history for over a quarter of a century Eamonn DeValera died aged 92 years in August 1975. His wife of 65 years passing away earlier the same year. Having cheated the executioner bullet after the Rising, he would go on to lead the anti-treaty forces during the Civil War and in its aftermath found a new party Fianna Fail who came to power in 1932. He led the Government until 1959 when he became President of Ireland serving two terms in Aras An Uachtarain. Over the first weekend of September, his casket lay in State at St Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle and according to the Irish Examiner more than 100,000 filed through the great hall to pay their respects. More than 100,000 lined the streets of Dublin as the cortege travelled up O’Connell Street passed the GPO and onto Glasnevin for burial.

One of the few sportsmen to make the list is the great Cork hurler Christy Ring. When he died in March 1979 he was a legend in the GAA. Just 58 years old when he suffered a massive heart attack as he walked along the streets of his beloved city, Christy’s prowess as a centre forward earned him nine Munster titles, eight All Ireland titles and eighteen railway cups hurling with Munster. In 2000 he was named as the right wing forward on the team of the millennium. The former Taoiseach and fellow Cork native Jack Lynch said upon his passing
‘As long as young men will match their hurling skills against each other on Ireland's green fields, as long as young boys swing their camáns for the sheer thrill of the feel and the tingle in their fingers of the impact of ash on leather, as long as hurling is played the story of Christy Ring will be told. And that will be forever.’

Two years later saw one of the biggest funerals ever seen on the island in May 1981. Following sixty six days on hunger strike at the Maze prison also known as the H-Blocks, twenty seven year old Bobby Sands died. During his strike and incasaration he was elected as a British member of parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Sands became the first of ten Reublican prisoners to die during that period as the Brotosh Government refused to give into the demands of the prisoners who were seeking political status rather than. Over 150,000 people lined the streets of Belfast as Sands was buried in the Republican plot at Milltown Cemetery.

In June 1996, as IRA subversives attempted to rob a cash in transit van in Adare, Co Limerick, the gang opened fire on two Garda special branch detectives who were protecting the delivery. Garda Jerry McCabe was shot dead, His funeral was attempted by in excess of 40,000 shocked locals lined the funeral route through Limerick City with mourners led by his wife Anne. Four IRA men were subsequently convicted of manslaughter of the Garda.

The sudden passing of motor cycling superstar Joey Dunlop following an accident in Estonia drew in excess of 50,000 to the small town of Ballymoney Co. Antrim. It took the hearse bearing the sports stars body who had made the famous Isle of Man TT races  over an hour to travel the single mile from his family home to the local church for the funeral service.

Diarmuid Fawsitt, An Unusual Diplomat


Diarmuid Fawsitt, An Unusual Diplomat

In September 1919[1], with the War of Independence raging in the Irish countryside, across the Atlantic the fledgling State had appointed Jerimiah (Diarmuid) L. Fawsitt as Consul General in New York and led the first official Irish Trade Commission. The United States was vital as pressure on the Wilson administration would be vital in achieving legitimacy and the diaspora on the far side of the Atlantic would be both a source of fundraising for the campaign against the British and an important trading partner when Independence was won.  The Consulate opened offices located at Suite 404 in 280 Broadway, Manhattan and Fawsitt was the first appointee of the new Dail Eireann.  

He was born in Bandon, Co. Cork and made his name as the Secretary of the Cork Industrial Development Association. He forcefully encouraged overseas business to both invest in Ireland and to trade with Ireland. One of his great successes was encouraging Henry Ford to build his first car factory outside the United States in Cork. When DeValera arrived in the U.S. in June 1919, he introduced Ford to DeValera. As a fellow Corkonian he also enjoyed a very close relationship with Michael Collins and was pro-treaty when the peace arrived.

The son of a Cork builder, he joined the IRB in February 1904. In 1911, he married Tipperary born Kathleen Kenny and the couple see eleven children born up to the youngest Ethna in 1931. Fawsitt became President of the Executive of the Volunteers in Cork[2] which he helped found in 1913. He was involved with Sir Roger Casement and helped to fund the arms shipment from Germany in advance of the Easter Rising. In 1915 he was ordered by the British authorities to leave Cork and he travelled across the Atlantic and went on a lecture tour laying the ground work for his appointment as the first Irish Consul in New York in 1919.

Even before his departure for the United States, in January 1919 he received a polite rebuff from the White House after inviting President Woodrow Wilson to visit Cork. He battled hard to improve direct trade between Ireland and the United States and throughout 1919 battled to get a direct shipping route from the East Coast of America to Cork striking a deal with the Moore and McCormack Line. Much of the then trade traveled by ship across the Atlantic to Liverpool and Southampton before being then sent onwards to Ireland. While serving in New York he had several run ins with fellow Irish-American James O’Mara, who complained to Dublin about the extravagance of the Irish consulate in NY and at one stage refused to pay a $32,000 maintenance bill eventually the dispute forced DeValera himself to step in and resolve the issue. In an era where rumour and gossip often had an impact on views, Fawsitt was rumoured at one time to be involved on the orders of DeValera to kill James Larkin while he was in the US. Larkin was seen as an agitator and troublemaker and was now overly welcomed back to Ireland in the early days of the new State.

In August 1920 left the job and returned to Ireland He was officially replaced in October 1921 by Belfast man Joseph Connolly. In 1920 he traveled across the US to San Francisco to take part in the welcoming committee for the controversial Australian Archbishop Daniel Mannix and he wrote a moving obituary in the US newspaper for his former schoolmate the late Thomas McCurtain, the Cork Lord Mayor who had died on hunger strike. Fawsitt was an economic advisor at the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations in 1922 and subsequently became an assistant secretary of the Department of Industry and Commerce (1922-23), and in this position played a role in developing the scheme for compensation and reconstruction following the burning of Cork in December 1920

Fawsitt went on to become a leading Judge and he died April 1967 and is buried in Sutton, Dublin along with his wife who pre-deceased him. Their grandson Duncan Stewart is a well-known television personality, while their daughters Sheila, Kathleen and Marie had roles in the 1937 film Some Say Chance.




[1] http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS1728.pdf#page=10
[2] http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS0939.pdf#page=119

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Battle of Bass Ale


The Battle of Bass
Many moons ago when I was a bar manager, the pub I worked in had been renovated and a well-known Dublin politician was to perform the opening ceremony but the only stipulation was that I had to have a pint of Bass for him, a product that at that time was not a great seller and once the opening was performed within a week the tap had been removed. There had been a sea change in Irish politics after the battles of the civil war and Eamon DeValera had taken power in March 1932 but despite his movement away from the IRA, including naming his new party Fianna Fail, the IRA remained in the shadows. The organisation manifested itself under different guises including in November 1932 as the ‘Boycott British Goods League’. The Leagues campaign was aimed at one particular company, the British ale brewery Bass.

Bass had already been subject of an earlier boycott in Ireland from 1918 to 1924 as it was a huge seller in Ireland, probably second only to Guinness with a bottle costing the customer 8d and a draught Bass between 10d and a schilling. Bass was targeted because one of its directors was Colonel John Gretton, who was in 1932 a Conservative Party MP and an Olympic gold medallist in sailing, was seen to side with the Unionists in Ulster and during the conscription crisis he was quoted as saying ‘send every young Irishman to Flanders, then the Irish race will be exterminated’.  The Boycotters also advised that there were plenty of alternative Irish made Ales for the consumers.

In Dublin the company, Bass, Radcliffe, Gretton and Company imported their casks on ships to the Liffey Quays and then moved them by horse and dray to a warehouse they maintained on Moore Lane. From there the drays would deliver to pubs in the inner city, by truck to Leinster and by train to the rest of Ireland. In November 1932 came the first reports of draymen being attacked and their casks of Bass emptied into the gutter began to emerge.

In December especially in Dublin, publicans were visited by armed men and told that they had seven days to get rid of their Bass stock or face some serious consequences, some threatened with being burned out of business. The problem for publicans was that Bass ale needed to mature in stock before being served and with the run up to Christmas publicans carried a lot of Bass stock. The Minister for Defence Fianna Fail man and War of Independence veteran Frank Aiken said when questioned in the Dail by TD’s allied to the Licensed Vintners Association said that there seemed to be ‘concerted activity amongst members of the Irish Republican Army and kindred terrorist organisations’.  The ‘Army Comrades Association’ known as The White Army made up of veteran IRA men who had sided with the Treaty forces at a meeting in the Mansion House said that they were willing and able to assist the publicans in the protection of their businesses from what they described as ‘a bunch of hooligans’.

On December 14th there was an armed raid on the Bass warehouse at Lavitt’s Quay in Cork with all the stock destroyed. Casks were emptied and bottles smashed although it was reported over the festive period that bottles of stolen Bass was seized in a pro-IRA shebeen near Macroom. The next day on Dublin’s north quays a dray moving stock from the port warehouse to Moore Lane was attacked and twenty casks emptied onto the streets. On the 20th, sixteen men from the ‘White Army’ escorted a convoy of drays from the Quays to Moore Lane which itself was now protected by armed guards.

The campaign in early 1933 consisted mainly of attacking Bass signage and advertising inside and outside pubs and in some cases especially in rural areas, hammers were used to smash ads in pubs where only a barmaid was on duty. The boycott and intimidation campaign intensified once again towards the end of the year. In August there were attacks on pubs in Dublin, Killarney, Midleton and Waterford, with masked men entering the pub and ordering the publican to cease buying or selling Bass and destroying the Bass stock on the premises. In September there were more attacks in Dublin stretching from Sandymount to Pimplico Merrion Row to Patrick Street and Henry Street to Stoneybatter. Across the country there were attacks in Ballinrobe, Dun Laoghaire, Clonmel, Navan and Tramore. Armed Gardai were protecting trains as they travelled across the country. Thirty-five pubs were visited in Monaghan on one night by a large group of armed and masked men.

Some of those arrested were jailed for their offences and then in Mountjoy Jail they went on a failed Hunger Strike in an attempt to be released. The attacks trailed off, in October there was just one reported attack in Clare and in November only Tramore suffered the intimidation from the Boycott movement. Pressure from the DeValera Government had reduced the numbers involved and the fact that courts were not showing any leniency, the campaign against Bass ended.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Parnell's Sunday Drinking Dens


It was designated as ‘Parnell Sunday’ but October 12th1902 would shine a light on a darker side of the Irish psyche, our drinking culture. The licensing laws in Ireland in the early part of the twentieth century meant that public houses closed early on a Saturday night and only opened for a couple of early evening hours on a Sunday if they had a seven-day licence. The gap in the opening hours allowed illegal drinking dens, so called ‘bogus clubs’ and shebeens to profit and on this particular ‘Parnell Sunday’ the gap would be exposed and some famous people caught up in the resultant court actions.

A number of ‘clubs’ opened in the early 1900's mainly serving various industries allowing workers to gather socially to play card games and enjoy banter though these were also the hotbed of industrial unrest as the Unions used these clubs to enroll new members and ferment unrest. The clubs would open and serve large quantities of alcohol from early evening to Sunday night often not closing and they were the only place in Dublin to get a drink on a Sunday morning. The problem became such a problem between January and November 1903 there were 105 prosecutions of these ‘bogus clubs’ for illegally selling alcohol to other than members as per the law.

‘Parnell Sunday’ was a popular day in the Dublin city as they celebrated the life of Charles Stewart Parnell and the authorities knew that many of these clubs would be full and on that Sunday evening in 1902 a number of raids were carried out leading to numerous subsequent convictions. Wexford man Patrick Hanlon, who’s wife Margaret ran a public house at 6 St John Rogerson’s Quay ran a hall at 4 Sandwith Street Lower where a number of unions and clubs met. On October 12th a ‘Sunday’ meeting of The Dock Labourers Club was in full swing when a DMP Inspector Dunne and Sergeant Dockery from nearby Great Brunswick Station (now Pearse Street Garda station) raided the club and discovered many of those on the premises were neither members nor signed in by members. The Inspector observed that many of the women and some children were highly intoxicated. Hanlon and two bar staff, Joseph McMahon and his sister Kate Reilly were charged with breaking the then licensing laws.  After leaving the Dock Labourers the two policemen moved around the corner to 46 Great Brunswick Street where the Democratic Labour Club were meeting. The Club had been formed in 1892 on nearby Lombard Street and on that night over one hundred patrons were on the premises when the two policemen arrived just after nine o’clock that night. While it was supposed to be a club and a meeting hall the Inspector said that there ‘was a bar that was a public house bar’ even though the club did not have the required license. The bar manager James Murphy, his wife Mary who was serving behind the bar and John Kane were arrested in this shebeen when it was later demonstrated in court that there were more people of the premises than there were actual registered members. Mrs Murphy was freed by the courts subsequently as the Judge said that he believed she was under the influence of her husband. James Murphy was fined ten pounds while John Kane was fined one pound. Kane’s crime was buying drink for a non-member and allowing a non-member to buy him a drink. The non-member who was called as a witness in the prosecution of the club operators was James Larkin who would later have played such a pivotal role in the 1913 Lockout.

The Foresters Club on Capel Street was also raided and John and Sarah Somers convicted of selling alcohol without a licence. John was given a three months with hard labour sentence while his wife was fined fifty pounds. When raided there were eighty four persons on the premises and the DMP seized 239 bottle of porter. There was a lot of newspaper comment on the widespread number of the ‘bogus clubs’ and the increasing public drunkenness especially when public houses were closed. It eventually led a couple of years later to a tightening of the laws surrounding Clubs and their ability to serve alcohol.


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Books from the 1916 Tour

Rebel Radio
The story of the broadcasts from the rebels of 1916 when Ireland became the first nation in the world to be declared by radio.

http://kilmainhamtales.ie/14---rebel-radio.php

The Battle for Facts, American Journalists during the 1916 Easter Rising


https://www.amazon.co.uk/1916-Easter-Rising-American-Press/dp/1520722346

Facts of the Rising you never knew.


COMING SOON
The Thirst For Freedom



The Battle of Bass



Many moons ago when I was a bar manager, the pub I worked in had been renovated and a well-known Dublin politician was to perform the opening ceremony but the only stipulation was that I had to have a pint of Bass for him, a product that at that time was not a great seller and once the opening was performed within a week the tap had been removed. There had been a sea change in Irish politics after the battles of the civil war and Eamon DeValera had taken power in March 1932 but despite his movement away from the IRA, including naming his new party Fianna Fail, the IRA remained in the shadows. The organisation manifested itself under different guises including in November 1932 as the ‘Boycott British Goods League’. The Leagues campaign was aimed at one particular company, the British ale brewery Bass.

Bass had already been subject of an earlier boycott in Ireland from 1918 to 1924 as it was a huge seller in Ireland, probably second only to Guinness with a bottle costing the customer 8d and a draught Bass between 10d and a schilling. Bass was targeted because one of its directors was Colonel John Gretton, who was in 1932 a Conservative Party MP and an Olympic gold medalist in sailing, was seen to side with the Unionists in Ulster and during the conscription crisis he was quoted as saying ‘send every young Irishman to Flanders, then the Irish race will be exterminated’.  The Boycotters also advised that there were plenty of alternative Irish made Ales for the consumers.

In Dublin the company, Bass, Radcliffe, Gretton and Company imported their casks on ships to the Liffey Quays and then moved them by horse and dray to a warehouse they maintained on Moore Lane. From there the drays would deliver to pubs in the inner city, by truck to Leinster and by train to the rest of Ireland. In November 1932 came the first reports of draymen being attacked and their casks of Bass emptied into the gutter began to emerge.

In December especially in Dublin, publicans were visited by armed men and told that they had seven days to get rid of their Bass stock or face some serious consequences, some threatened with being burned out of business. The problem for publicans was that Bass ale needed to mature in stock before being served and with the run up to Christmas publicans carried a lot of Bass stock. The Minister for Defence Fianna Fail man and War of Independence veteran Frank Aiken said when questioned in the Dail by TD’s allied to the Licensed Vintners Association said that there seemed to be ‘concerted activity amongst members of the Irish Republican Army and kindred terrorist organisations’.  The ‘Army Comrades Association’ known as The White Army made up of veteran IRA men who had sided with the Treaty forces at a meeting in the Mansion House said that they were willing and able to assist the publicans in the protection of their businesses from what they described as ‘a bunch of hooligans’.

On December 14th there was an armed raid on the Bass warehouse at Lavitt’s Quay in Cork with all the stock destroyed. Casks were emptied and bottles smashed although it was reported over the festive period that bottles of stolen Bass was seized in a pro-IRA shebeen near Macroom. The next day on Dublin’s north quays a dray moving stock from the port warehouse to Moore Lane was attacked and twenty casks emptied onto the streets. On the 20th, sixteen men from the ‘White Army’ escorted a convoy of drays from the Quays to Moore Lane which itself was now protected by armed guards.

The campaign in early 1933 consisted mainly of attacking Bass signage and advertising inside and outside pubs and in some cases especially in rural areas, hammers were used to smash ads in pubs where only a barmaid was on duty. The boycott and intimidation campaign intensified once again towards the end of the year. In August there were attacks on pubs in Dublin, Killarney, Midleton and Waterford, with masked men entering the pub and ordering the publican to cease buying or selling Bass and destroying the Bass stock on the premises. In September there were more attacks in Dublin stretching from Sandymount to Pimplico Merrion Row to Patrick Street and Henry Street to Stoneybatter. Across the country there were attacks in Ballinrobe, Dun Laoghaire, Clonmel, Navan and Tramore. Armed Gardai were protecting trains as they travelled across the country. Thirty-five pubs were visited in Monaghan on one night by a large group of armed and masked men.

Some of those arrested were jailed for their offences and then in Mountjoy Jail they went on a failed Hunger Strike in an attempt to be released. The attacks trailed off, in October there was just one reported attack in Clare and in November only Tramore suffered the intimidation from the Boycott movement. Pressure from the DeValera Government had reduced the numbers involved and the fact that courts were not showing any leniency, the campaign against Bass ended.