CATHAL BRUGHA HONOURED AT SPOT WHERE FREE STATE SHOT HIM

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time main text: 6 mins.)

On the evening of 7th July, people passing on O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main street in the north city centre either stopped a while or passed with a glance at the crowd gather at the intersection with Cathedral Street, a narrow lane leading eastward.

The Irish Tricolour and the Starry Plough flags (both versions1) held aloft gave a strong indication of the purpose of the gathering, which was to honour an Irish patriot shot down at that spot by Free State soldiers on 5th July 1922 and dying on the 7th.

A poster from the period with drawings thought to be by Constance Markievicz (Photo: D.Breatnach)

CATHAL BRUGHA RESUMÉ

Cathal Brugha was an Irish Republican, an Irish language activist, a soldier and politician. For a period in the Irish Republican Brotherhood, he joined the Irish Volunteers at the outset2 and was a lieutenant in charge of twenty Volunteers to receive with others the arms delivered to Howth Harbour in 1914.

In the 1916 Rising Brugha was second-in-command under Eamonn Ceannt at the South Dublin Union, now covered by James’ Hospital, where he received in excess of 25 wounds from bullets and grenade shrapnell and was not expected to live.

Surviving, Brugha was elected a Teachta Dála (member of parliament) for the abstentionist Sinn Féin coalition party in the UK General Election of 1918, serving until his death, first President of Dáil Éireann (the Irish Parliament) from January to April 1919, Minister of Defence from 1919 to 1922 and Chief of Staff of the IRA from 1917 to 1919.

Cathal Brugha, along with most Republican activists, was strongly opposed to the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1921 which was supported by Michael Collins, Arthur Griffiths and others and joined the Republican opposition in the Dáil, resigning his government posts to do so.

A poster from the period with drawings thought to be by Constance Markievicz (Photo: D.Breatnach)

However, he and Oscar Traynor of the IRA both opposed the occupation of the Four Courts by IRA under Rory O’Connor but when it was bombarded by the Free State with British artillery on 28th June, Traynor ordered occupation of O’Connell Street buildings to divert some of the heat from the Four Courts.

The Free State Army bombarded the Republican positions in O’Connell Street with artillery and machine guns (as the British Army had done in 1916). Eventually the Republicans retreated apart from a small holding group which Brugha ordered to surrender but did not do so himself.

Approaching Free State soldiers with pistol in hand, he was shot by them in the leg, severing a femoral artery and died two days later in hospital. His widow Kathleen continued the Republican line as an activist and TD.

Mags Glennon, Chairing the event (Photo: D.Breatnach)

THE HONOUR CEREMONY

Mags Glennon, chairing the event, thanked people for coming, stressing the importance of remembering our history and listed briefly the important actions of and positions held by Cathal Brugha, before calling on Sean Óg to perform The Soldiers of ‘22,3 the five verses of which he sang, accompanying himself on guitar.

At intervals between speakers Sean Óg performed another two songs, Cathal Brugha and A Soldier’s Life4.

Joe Mooney brought a series of three posters for distribution, which were quickly taken up. These were copies from the period, condemning the Free State Army for the murder of Cathal Brugha, with drawings believed to be by Constance Markievicz.

A poster from the period with drawings thought to be by Constance Markievicz (Photo: D.Breatnach

MAIN ORATION

The main speaker was historian and author Kerron Ó Luain, who began speaking in Irish and returned to it on occasion, though the content of his talk was by far in English.

Ó Luain initially paid his respects to recently-deceased Mícheál Ó Doibhlin, a Dublin historian who had done much historical research to bring further into the light of today the contributions two Republican women in two different periods.

These were Anne Devlin of the United Irishmen (uprisings in 1798 and 1803) and Josephine McGowan, killed in 1918, the first Cumann na mBan martyr5. Ó Doibhlin had also assisted Ó Luain in the latter’s research into the insurrectionary history of his own area, Rath Cúil (Rathcoole)6.

Kerron Ó Luain speaking, Joe Mooney holding the microphone. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

Continuing to relate some brief facts about Brugha’s early life, born into a mixed-religion household, Ó Luain emphasised Brugha’s interest in the Irish language and his membership of the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge)7 in the same decade as its founding.

The speaker contrasted that aspect with the militarist image of Brugha often projected by hostile commentators. Brugha met his future wife at meetings of the Connradh and had been a strong advocate of the proceedings of the First Dáil being conducted mostly in Irish and of the Democratic Programme being first read and agreed in Irish.

The setting up of Sinn Féin to contest the 1918 UK General Elections had involved a coalition of many different elements Ó Luain said, including dual monarchism advocates such as the original founder Griffiths and even white Dominion aspirants, alongside Republicans such as Cathal Brugha.

Section of the crowd at the event. (Photo: D.Breatnach

These had been the lines along with the alliance had fractured when the British proposed the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. British influence on the Free State was seen not only in its war on the Republicans but in the legal system adopted based on common law without any thought given to any of the principles of the native Brehon Law.

The British influence was evident also in the form of dress with some Free State politicians such as Cosgrave wearing a top hat and research has shown over 90% of the civil servants of the Free State had been employed by the previous British colonial administration.

The Free State adopted a formal position of support for An Ghaeilge, the Irish language, while doing nothing to support the struggling rural Irish-speaking areas, which were being drained by emigration, leading the inhabitants to want to acquire English for their future locations.

Some of the attendance. (Photo: D.Breatnach)
Another small section shot (Photo: D.Breatnach)

The number of Irish-speakers within the territory of the State has declined drastically since it was founded.

Unusually for an oration honouring an Irish martyr but very important historically, the speaker pointed out that Brugha was not a socialist Republican and had advocated land ownership whereas other Republicans such as Liam Mellows (executed by the Free State in 1922), Peadar O’Donnell and Frank Ryan in the 1930s had proclaimed the need for a socialist Republic.

In conclusion, the speaker said that Cathal Brugha was an honest courageous Republican with a genuine love of the Irish language and a staunch upholder of the truly independent Republic proclaimed in 1916 but yet to be achieved. He had been killed as part of the counterrevolution.

It is important for future efforts, Ó Luain stated, to be aware of the different strands in the Republican opposition to the status quo and to be clear on the desired future shape of society in the Republic.

View of many in the attendance at the event. (Photo: Cabra 1916-1921 Rising Committee)

OTHER REPUBLICAN MARTYRS OF THE BATTLE FOR DUBLIN 1922

Damien Farrell spoke on behalf of Dublin South Central Remembers and representing the McMenamy family from the area. Frank McMenamy had been asked to introduce the Roll of Honour on behalf of relative Ciaran McMenamy of F Coy, 1st Batt, anti-Treaty IRA (Ambulance Corp) but was unable to attend.

Ciaran was one of four brothers — Fergus, Manus and Francis — who fought in the revolutionary period 1916-23. Ciaran was part of the crew that tended Cathal Brugha and rushed him to hospital on the 5th July. When Brugha succumbed to his wounds, Ciaran was a pall bearer at his funeral.

Damien said that this most likely identified him for arrest which happened later and he was interned in the infamous Newbridge Camp and participated in the mass hunger strike of prisoners in 1923 against conditions.

Ciaran McMenamy contracted a cold that developed into consumption which secured his release to convalesce in the County Home in Kildare but this proved ineffective and Ciaran was eventually released from internment around Christmas 1923.

On the 26th of April 1924 Ciaran McMenamy died in 55 Pearse Square, a house connected to the family. For the past two years Dublin South Central Remembers have held remembrance events at the house, with the full permission and support of the current occupants (no relations) with the intention of having a plaque erected in time for his centenary in 2024.

Finnuala Halpin reading the Roll of Honour of the The Battle of Dublin 1922, in which her grandfather fought. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

Fionnuala Halpin read the roll of honour of those killed in The Battle of Dublin 1922, a battle in which her grandfather fought.

John Monks

William Clarke

Joe Considine

William Doyle

Francis Jackson

John Mahoney

Sean Cusack

Matthew Tompkins

Jack McGowan

Thomas Markey

Thomas Wall

Charles O’Malley

Cathal Brugha

Veteran Republican, hunger-striker and author Tommy McKearney placed a wreath in honour of the fallen on behalf of Independent Republicans and a minute’s silence was observed in their honour also.

COMMEMORATE THE CIVIL WAR MARTYRS OF YOUR AREA?

A number of different Republican organisations were represented at the event, along with many independent Republicans and historical memory activists, including walking history tour guides.

Poster and dedication floral wreath in honour of Cathal Brugha, Cathedral Street, Dublin city centre 7 July 2022 (Photo: Cabra 1916-1921 Rising Committee)

Mags Glennon asked people to keep in touch with the organisers and also to be aware of other commemorative events, offering to make available the commemorative posters with the local martyrs’ names incorporated into the design for display for others around the country.

End.

FOOTNOTES

1The original, with the design of plough in gold following the outline of the Ursa Mayor constellation in white stars, on a green background and the later Republican Congress version of the white stars alone on a light blue field.

2Formed in 1913.

3Composed by Brian Ó hUigínn, sung to the air of The Foggy Dew.

4A Soldier’s Life was originally composed by Young Irelander Thomas Davis (1814-1945) and recorded by The Wolfe Tones band; the composer of Cathal Brugha’s lyrics appears unknown and it was recorded by Declan Hunt.

5A rally held by women just off Dame Street in 1918 was batoned by members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and she died of her injuries shortly afterwards. I have heard Ó Doibhlin relate her story and saw him becoming emotional as he did so. The DMP’s batons in September 1913 were also responsible for the deaths of at least three others, although one died in 1915.

6For a number of recent years Ó Doiblin has been noted, along with historian Liz Gillis and others, for research and exposition of information regarding the Burning of the Customs House on 25th May 1921, which corrected a number of common misapprehensions about that event.

7Founded by Protestant Douglas Hyde/ Dubhghlas de hÍde this month in 1893.

USEFUL LINKS

The Independent Republicans group do not appear to have a website or FB page but may be contacted through the Cabra 1916-1921 Rising Committee: https://www.facebook.com/cabra1916

The National Graves Association: https://www.facebook.com/NationalGravesAssociation

TEENAGE ANTIFASCIST MARTYR INSPIRES CONTINUED RESISTANCE

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 7 mins.)

On a wall near the Madrid Metro station of Legazpi, there is a plaque. Those who stop to look at it will learn that it commemorates the antifascist Carlos Palomino, who on 11th November 2007 was fatally stabbed by a career Spanish soldier who was also a neo-nazi “skin” (or “skinhead”). The plaque placed by antifascists on the station entrance has been defaced by fascists a number of times but was always restored; it was also destroyed but soon replaced. In May 2016 Madrid’s City Council erected a plaque on No.145 Paseo de las Delicias where Carlos Palomino died while being given emergency aid. The plaque states:

Here was murdered on 11th November 2007 Carlos Javier Palomino Muñoz, of 16 years of age, a fighter against fascism and racism.

Plaque placed by Madrid city council commemorating Carlos, “fighter against fascism and racism” (Photo sourced: Internet)

MURDERED BY A SERVING SOLDIER AND NEO-NAZI

A Google search featuring the name “Carlos Palomino” throws up the Mexican heavyweight boxer – one needs to refine the search to come up with the antifascist youth. Palomino was 16 years of age when he went with friends to counter-protest the fascist organisation Democracia Nacional that was holding an anti-immigrant demonstration at Usera, a south Madrid district of noted migrant habitation, particularly of Latin American and Chinese background.

The antifascists boarded the metro carriage at Legazpi station on Line 3, unaware at first that 23-year-old Josué Estébanez de la Hija, a neo-nazi “skin” and professional member of the Spanish military, was on board, on his way to participate in the fascist demonstration. Seeing the youth and identifying them as antifascists, Estébanez drew a knife he was carrying, the blade of which was 25 centimetres (nearly 10”) long and held it concealed behind his back.

Not noticing the knife but becoming aware that Josué Estébanez was wearing a Three-Stroke sweatshirt, known as a label worn by neo-fascists, Carlos began to remonstrate with Estébanez, who then stabbed him fatally. Another youth was gravely injured and lost two-thirds of a finger to the knife attack1.

Josué Estébanez then fled the carriage and the station, pursued by antifascists, who caught him and were administering a severe beating when a passing police patrol rescued but also detained him. Carlos’ mother and Movement Against Intolerance were the civil society prosecutors (a provision in the Spanish legal system which is more typically availed of by organisations of the Right) at Estébanez’s trial. During two years of legal procedure Josué did not once express regret for what he had done until the last moment of the trial, having been found guilty and about to be sentenced.

Metro video footage produced during the Madrid trial clearly showed the sequence of events in the carriage and contradicted the neo-nazi’s claim of self-defence. During the trial Estébanez pretended he had not been on his way to the demonstration but instead was going to meet friends but failed to produce corroborating evidence. He denied being a fascist but the video record showed him giving the nazi salute and shouting “Heil Hitler!” His attempts to deny his neo-nazi sympathies were not aided by the number of fascist organisation in Spain and across Europe that publicly declared in his support.2

Fascists in Paris demanding freedom of the fascist murderer

Josué Estébanez was from Galdako3 in Biskaia province in the Basque Country, a country where the majority had a long tradition not only of antifascism but also of resistance to service in the Spanish military. It would be interesting to know how he came to enlist in a military career and to be a neo-nazi, though both things are probably not unconnected. According to a press report, his neighbours in Galdako didn’t know he was in jail until the news reached them and hadn’t even known he was in the Army. His mother had not seen him for some time.

Estébanez’s defence team sought a total of nine months’ jail, six on conviction for reckless manslaughter and three for causing grievous bodily harm to a second person. The family prosecution sought 37 years’ imprisonment and compensation, while the civic association joining in the prosecution, Alto Arenal or Movement Against Intolerance asked for 30 years’ jail as a “hate crime”.

Josué Estébanez was sentenced to 26 years in prison and to pay a compensation of 150,000 euros (not a cent of which was ever paid). On 22nd April 2010, the Spanish Supreme Court confirmed the sentence.

THE MOTHER

Carlos Palomino’s mother, Mavi Muñoz attended all days of the trial of her son’s murderer, accompanied by her own mother and other family. When on the very last day, just before sentencing Estébanez turned to her and apologised for the suffering he had caused her, she replied: “I wish you all the worst.”

Mavi became an antifascist activist and founded the Association of Victims of Racism and Homophobia4 and entered the organisation Mothers Against Repression, of which she has been made the honorary president.

Public meeting of Mothers Against Repression (Mavi is 2nd from the left in photo). The flag on the wall on the left of photo is that of the Spanish Republic. (Photo source: kaos en la red)

When the Madrid city council at last erected the plaque to commemorate her son’s murder, she was there and, among other events, attends the annual demonstration in remembrance of her son. Every year a public demonstration is held on the 11th November in Madrid to honor the memory of Carlos Palomino and to reaffirm resolute opposition to fascism and often fountains are dyed red.

On the 10th anniversary of his murder, the demonstration in Madrid easily exceeded a thousand and antifascist demonstrations were held in many other parts of the Spanish state. Mavi Muñoz sent the following message that year:

“Let his blood not have been (shed) in vain”

“Now more than ever, on this tenth anniversary, not only for Carlos, but for all those who have fallen at the hands of fascism, I pray that their blood has not been shed in vain. That blood has been shed for defending a better world, I believe that there is a better world, but we have to find it, we have to fight for it, and there is no fight without sacrifices. I ask the anti-fascist movement of today, the anti-fascism of now, to commit itself, that the fight continues, that we do not allow ourselves to be stepped on, that we realize that the fascists are advancing, that we cannot allow that. Our motto is They will not pass! and it’s time to put it into practice. We have to reorganize and restructure all of us, because there are many more of us and we can handle them. We have to show it and not allow them (to spill) more of our blood. We are not going to allow one more of us to fall. And to each attack there must be an effective response.”

13th CARLOS PALOMINO ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATION WEDNESDAY 11th

Many hundreds turned out in Madrid on the evening of the 11th of this month for the annual commemoration of Madrid’s latest antifascist martyr in a march convened by Friends and Relations of Carlos and supported by other organisations, including the Madrid Antifascist Coordination. They rallied outside the Atocha Metro station – it was in Atocha that a lawyers working for the trade union movement led by the Communist Party were massacred by fascists in 1977 — one of the many attacks on the Left and democratic forces of the “Transition”, to ensure that post-Franco Spain remained in the hands of the same people but in a “democratic” form.

Part of the commemoration march on Wednesday, holding placards with images of Carlos Palomino. (Photo sourced: Internet)

This week the marchers proceeded from Atocha in columns, maintaining social distancing, with his image on placards and led by a banner declaring “Carlos vive, la lucha sigue” (“Carlos lives, the struggle continues”). The march passed through Paseo de las Delicias, where Carlos Palomino had died.

Banner leading the commemoration march: “Carlos lives, the struggle continues; the best homage is to continue the fight”.

Then they lined the route through which a small group passed, holding up a placard recording the murder, along with his image on another placard, with red flares burning (see video) to bursts of applause and cheering.

MADRID

Madrid is a city of wide disparities. There are the imposing buildings, monuments and fountains of an imperial past for example around Puerto del Sol and la Plaza de España on the one hand and on the other, areas like Valences, more on the outskirts, with its radical traditions, mixed ethnic population, the Rayo Vallecano football team with it anti-fascist ultras, the Bukaneros (of which Carlos was one). Carlos lived with the Palomino family there. Even down a few minutes walk from the Plaza de España, one finds small areas like the Cuchilleros where the ambience is more antifascist and tolerant of difference in sexual preference; there are many areas like that in Madrid, close to the city centre (if Madrid can be said to have just one city centre).

The city is split politically between extremes of Right and Left. The Right are the political heirs (and often the actual descendants) of the victors of the fascist-military uprising in 1936, their current fortunes often the prizes awarded by the Dictator, General Franco. On the other hand, the Anarchists and Communists of various types – the heirs of those who lost. Madrid was successfully defended against the fascist-military coup in 1936 but then besieged by land and bombarded from the air. Franco had airplanes and pilots from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, along with land transport vehicles and armaments, while the European states blockaded the elected government of the Spanish state.

No pasarán!, “they shall not pass”, was the cry for the defence of Madrid in 1936 (and actually at the Battle of Cable Street in London’s East End that year too). But sí pasaron, they did pass. The city fell on 28th March 1939 and, like in all other conquered Spanish, Basque and Catalan cities, the hunt began for “the Reds” — i.e antifascists of any kind. Huge numbers found their end against blood-spattered walls.

But still the resistance did not end. On 5th August 1939, the JSU, a communist youth organisation assassinated Isaac Gabaldon, Commander of the paramilitary police force, the Guardia Civil, after which 51 female and male antifascists, the “Thirteen Roses and the 38 Carnations”, were shot by firing squads (see article on that elsewhere on Rebel Breeze). In the 1970s the antifascist workers’ movement forced the post-Franco “Transition” for fear of revolution.

The antifascist resistance still lives in Madrid today.

End.

FOOTNOTES

1The knife was identified as an Army one by the family prosecution but by the trial had disappeared.

2Brenton Tarrant, mass murderer of 51 innocent Muslims in New Zealand in March 2019, had names of some of his heroes marked on his weaponry, among which was that of Josue Estébanez. Unlike his hero in Spain, Tarrant admitted to all charges but like him, expressed no regret during his trial; he was sentenced to natural life in prison.

3As I was writing this today the news came of the arrest of two supporters of the Amnistia movement against repression (not part of the official Left Abertzale leadership), one of whom is from Galdako.

4The title seems a reply to the right-wing Association of Victims of Terrorism, which counts many military and police and their relatives as members.

SOURCES AND FURTHER INFORMATION

Erection of the plaque: https://www.diagonalperiodico.net/libertades/30374-placa-para-recordar-carlos-palomino.html

The murder and trial: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asesinato_de_Carlos_Palomino

Commemoration in Madrid on Wednesday (reports, photos, videos):

https://www.eldiario.es/madrid/colectivos-antifascistas-manifiestan-madrid-recordar-carlos-palomino-asesinado-soldado-neonazi-13-anos_1_6405758.html

https://www.publico.es/sociedad/carlos-palomino-madrid-antifascista-vuelve-rendir-homenaje-carlos-palomino-13-aniversario.html

https://www.madridiario.es/manifestacion-con-motivo-xii-asesinato-carlos-palomino-grito-madrid-tumba-fascismo

Was a hero of mass murderer in New Zealand: https://elpais.com/ccaa/2019/03/15/madrid/1552645383_279994.html

Estébanez neighbours in Galdako and studying law and pottery in jail: https://www.elespanol.com/reportajes/20181116/asesino-neonazi-carlos-palomino-josue-derecho-alfareria/352744736_3.html#img_12