People outside the Mexican Embassy in Dublin on Wednesday evening remember the 43 students and call for justice.
A short but moving event was held in Dublin yesterday evening (Thursday 26th September) to remember the 43 Mexican students made to “disappear” in Mexico by the authorities or in collusion with them on 26th September 2014. The students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College were kidnapped while they were taking part in an annual commemoration of the Tlatelolco Massacre (of 300-400 students and other civilians by police and military on 2nd October 1968, less than a fortnight before the opening of the Olympics in the city that year). They are widely believed to have been murdered and a supposed investigation by Mexican State authorities petered out without a result.
The event last night was organised by the Mexico Ireland Solidarity Collective (MISC) and Latin America Solidarity Centre (LASC). Sunflowers as a symbol of hope were placed in the railing of the Mexican Embassy in Raglan Road, Dublin and ribbons in the Mexican colours of green, white and red were also tied there. The names of the 43 “disappeared” students were laid on the pavement in front of the Embassy which, like the embassies of a number of other states, is located in a quiet upper-middle class area south of the Grand Canal. Few people passed the remembrance event and staff leaving the Embassy did not stop to talk to the gathering except for the last two who greeted them politely and took a photo of the display.
A spokesperson for MISC said that the event is organised every year so that the people are not forgotten.
People took turns to read the name of each of the 43 from their cards and the traditional “Presente!” was called out after each one, signifying that alive or dead, they are present with us, remembered.
A statement was read and some verses from Woody Guthries’s Plane Crash at Los Gatos were sung and then a long silence was observed, which ended with a call for “Justicia!”
People gathered early evening Thurday (21st) on O’Connell Street, Dublin city’s main street, to protest the convictions and sentencing of the Altsasu Eight. They held Basque and Catalan flags and displayed placards demanding “Free the Altsasu Eight!” and another pointing out the severity of the sentences for what was a bar brawl with Spanish police.
From the leaflet distributed: “In November 2016, during a festival in Altsasu, Nafarroa (Navarra) Province of the southern Basque Country, a lieutenant and sergeant in the Spanish Guardia Civil police force, both off-duty with their girlfriends, entered a late-night bar well-known as a place for pro-independence Basques to socialise. An altercation occurred in which the police said they were attacked by the Basque youth and claimed a fractured ankle suffered by one; others say it was just some shoving and pushing.
“The Navarran regional police force, the Policía Foral, first on the scene, treated it as an alleged assault case which is how the local court wished to deal with the issue. However the Spanish state Prosecutor intervened and, transferring the case to Madrid, accused eight youth of “terrorism” for which they could face a total of 375 years in prison. He failed to prove that but on charges of public disturbance, assault and threats alone, on 1st this June the eight youth were variously sentenced to between 2.5 and 13 years in jail as well as fined thousands of euro.”
Leaflets were distributed to raise awareness of this injustice and many passers-by stopped to talk and ask questions. One group of interested youth was from Zaragoza, which is in Aragon province and not far from the Basque Country.
Live music was provided for the participants and passers-by: two women sang Txoria Txori in harmonies and a Basque sang a new song that has been composed about the Altasasu 8, while another accompanied him on guitar (hope to post the lyrics and translation). Txoria Txori is a short simple allegorical song about a man who loves a bird and says that if he cuts its wings it would stay with him but he can’t do that because then no longer would it be a bird – and he loves the bird. This song is well-known and loved in the Basque Country.
The picket was an event of internationalist solidarity, not only because it was carried out in Ireland in support of victimised youth in the Basque Country, but also because the picket line included Irish, Basque, Catalan and Italian people.
On the 6th of March 1988, an undercover unit of the IRA in the Spanish State was being tracked by Spanish police. As the unit headed in to Gibraltar, their surveillance was taken over by a British Army unit of the Special Air Service. Very soon afterwards, the SAS attacked the IRA unit and shot them down, shooting them again with execution shots on the street. The IRA unit were unarmed and there was no attempt made to arrest them. The SAS claimed that they had a bomb ready to detonate but no such bomb was ever found. The three Volunteers were Mairéad Farrell, Seán Savage and Daniel McCann.
A Gibraltar woman, Carmen Proetta, who witnessed the murders from her flat and testified to what she had seen was villified and libelled in the British media (she successfully sued a number of them later). A Gibraltar inquest judged the killings to have been unlawful. Amnesty International in Britain denounced the killings — one of the few occasions in which Amnesty criticised the British Government with regard to its conduct in relation to the 30 Years’ War in Ireland.
Almost two months after the shootings Margaret Thatcher and her Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe tried to prevent an independent British TV company’s documentary on the killings, Death On the Rock and the career of the lead Editor, Roger Bolton, suffered severely, although an independent investigation of the program vindicated the program.
Streets of Gibraltar song
By The Irish Brigade (long version) + verse by DB*
Oh, sad are three homes in Belfast Town,
all Ireland shares their sorrow;
as they walked in the sun, the Brits drew their guns
and they died on the streets of Gibraltar.
They flew out of Belfast with an ambitious plan
to carry the struggle to free Ireland –
Mairéad Farrell, Seán Savage and Daniel McCann –
and they died on the streets of Gibraltar.
Hidden eyes had been watching, they followed each one They knew they weren’t armed, that none had a gun
They gave them no warning and no chance to run For the three must die on Gibraltar.
Each of them unarmed, without mercy gunned down, *
shot again in the head as they lay on the ground
by the Special Air Service, assassins of the Crown –
they were murdered on the streets of Gibraltar.
The SAS stood there, so proud of their deed –
three more freedom fighters shot down in the street:
Mairéad Farrell, Seán Savage and Daniel McCann –
they died on the streets of Gibraltar.
Mairéad, while in prison we watched you with pride; True to all you believed in and for this you’ve died With two fine volunteers Dan and Sean by your side — A part of us died in Gibraltar.
It happens each time that a Volunteer dies — They screen out the truth with a cover of lies; But we know what happened on that warm peaceful night The Brits planned their deaths on Gibraltar.
A crowd gathered at the Dublin and Monaghan Bombing Monument in Talbot Street this evening for a short ceremony and the start of a march to rally at the General Post Office building in Dublin city’s main street. The event was organised by Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland “to highlight imperialist war-crimes around the world, from Ireland to Yemen and Syria.”
View of section of crowd before start of event with the Memorial in the background (Photo: D.Breatnach)
As people assembled, a crowd of European youngsters was noted passing by, no doubt part of some scheme to learn English and something of the culture outside their own country. Sadly their teacher passed by the Monument without calling their attention to it.
The bombings on 17 May 1974, killing 33 civilians and a full-term unborn child and injuring almost 300, claimed the highest toll of any event during the 30 Years War and was the deadliest attack in the history of the Irish State. The bombings were organised by British Intelligence agents with Loyalist participation and not one person was ever charged.
It was not a good day for the march and participants came prepared for the worst but the rain stopped just before the event and held off, apart from an occasional drizzle, until after the event, when it fairly lashed down.
Pádraig Ó Fearghaill spoke first in Irish welcoming all who had attended, outlined the order of events and then called on George Galloway, famous British anti-imperialist politician, writer and broadcaster, to lay a floral wreath at the monument, which he did. Ó Fearghaill then called on Diarmuid Breatnach to sing the Woody Guthrie song about the massacre of mineworkers in Colorado, USA, by capitalists including the imperialist John D.Rockefeller. Breatnach sang “The Ludlow Massacre”.
The march then formed up and, led by a floral wreath-holder and black flags, proceeded up Talbot Street, into North Earl Street and up to the GPO. Along the way they chanted“From Ireland to Palestine- Occupation is a Crime” and “Donald Trump/Theresa May- How many kids did you kill today?” The demonstration received a lot of support from passers by along the way and drivers of cars and buses who beeped to show support. The marchers, some of who were carrying candles or light up boards made there way to the GPO where a further crowd had already gathered.
From well-known activists participating and banners carried it was clear that the march had attracted wide support across sections of the Republican movement in parties and campaigns, with participation of independent activists of republican, anarchist and socialist background.
Outside the GPO building, Ó Fearghaill called on Máire Uí Mhaoileoin to lay a wreath in memory of those who have lost their lives as a result of imperialist war-crimes and then introduced George Galloway, who remarked that he was proud to speak outside the building that had played such a part in the first blow against the British Empire of the last century. Galloway went on to refer to continuing British occupation of the Six Counties of Ireland and imperialist interference in the Middle East and the occupation of some countries. In the latter category he praised the Palestinian Ehed Tamimi, whose 17th birthday was just that day and called her “a leader of the resistance for the whole Middle East”.
Reminding the attendance of the ongoing crime of internment, Ó Fearghaill announced a representative of a campaign around Tony Taylor, who announced he was reading a statement from Lorraine Taylor, Tony’s wife. Taylor, a Derry Republican, was detained in March 2016 and has been in jail since, without trial or even charge.
Presenting Diarmuid Breatnach again to sing the famous Eric Bogle anti-war song “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”referencing the bush-ballad of “Waltzing Matilda”, the Australian unofficial national anthem. However, following
a suggestion from a participant, Breatnach led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” in English and in Irish to Palestinian child-prisoner Ehed Tamimi. After Breatnach’s rendition of Bogle’s song, Ó Fearghaill thanked all the the participants and promised that Anti-Imperialist Ireland would continue to build up resistance against imperialism in Ireland and in the world beyond.
Bobby Sands, who was the first of the ten hunger strikers to die in 1981, had written a number of articles, songs and poems. One of the latter was arranged for song by Christy Moore, calling it “Back Home In Derry” to the air of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (by Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot).
The rendition here by Diarmuid Breatnach is to a new air composed also by Breatnach. Although he has been singing it for some years in song sessions, this is the first time it has been posted as a video.
“I thought that the lyrics and the original author deserved a new air”, said Breatnach, a Dublin singer. “Christy Moore did a great job arranging the lyrics for song. I hope the new air becomes at least as popular as Gordon Lightfoot’s.”
Scuffles broke out and people were pushed to the ground by Gardaí as an unidentified man, later assumed to be an undercover Special Branch officer, grabbed a megaphone from the hands of a person chairing the protest. Yes, the public disorder and assaults were all the work of the Gardaí.
An ad-hoc group called Socialist Republicans Against Royal Visits had organised the protest, also with the intention of marking 12th May, anniversary of the execution in 1916 by British firing squad of James Connolly, revolutionary socialist, as well as the death after 59 days on hunger strike of Francis Hughes in 1981.
Today Prince Charles of the British Royal Family, also Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal, Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment (perpetrators of the Ballymurphy and Derry massacres), was due to visit Glasnevin Cemetery.
Participants in the event met this morning at Phibsboro Shopping Centre and marched along Phibsborough Road towards Glasnevin cemetery, carrying banners, flags and two floral sprays. Led by a banner carrying the legend which Connolly had erected over Liberty Hall during WW1, “We Serve Neither King nor Kaiser”, they passed over Cross Guns Bridge on the Royal Canal and on towards Glasnevin Cemetery, heading for the Hunger Strike Memorial there. However they found their way barred by a metal screen and blackout material, fronted by Riot police and other Gardaí with mounted police also being brought up.
The marchers were not allowed to proceed and uninvolved members of the public were also prevented by police from proceeding along the pavement. After awhile, Dáithí Ó Riain, chairing the proceedings began to hand a megaphone to Diarmuid Breatnach who was about to speak when a man in plainclothes rushed forward and grabbed the megaphone. At no point did he identify himself nor give a reason for wishing to take the appliance except to say “Because I say so.”
Participants came forward to defend the speaker being assaulted and the police charged in, knocking people to the ground and twisting people’s hands and bending fingers back until they succeeded in forcibly removing the megaphone.
As participants demanded to have the megaphone returned and the police continued to refuse, Breatnach addressed onlookers to explain what had just happened and to say that “this is the kind of democracy that exists in this country …… when people want to peacefully protest and it doesn’t suit the State that they do so. When you hear of disturbances at a demonstration this is most likely how they started, with a police attack on people.”
Overhead, a helicopter kept circling the area for a period of hours.
A number of speakers addressed the participants and bystanders and congratulated them on not allowing themselves to be provoked by the police assault and a chant of “Shame!” was taken up against the police, in addition to the crowd singing two verses of “Take It Down From the Mast Irish Traitors” directed at the Gardaí.
The floral sprays were laid at the corner of the wall of the cemetery since further progress was prevented by the Gardaí.
After some time, the protesters marched back to Phibsboro Shopping Centre where they held a short street meeting, to be addressed briefly by a number of speakers and to hear a reading of James Connolly’s last statement before his execution, after which they dispersed.
During the event, Sean Doyle and Ger Devereaux engaged with a radio program explaining the reasons for the protest and the commemoration, in addition to dealing with the statements of callers denouncing the participants. The police attack occurred during the radio interview so listeners got to hear more of what went on than was expected.
Sean Doyle and Ger Devereaux interviewed live on radio from demonstration:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 becameof 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.
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 Banban” 1882–1963), 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.
THE MACARONIC VERSION OF MEN OF THE WEST/ FIR AN IARTHAIR
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.
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.
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.
Foreign tourists and Irish-based visitors looked on with curious interest at a gathering at the foot of the East Pier, Howth on Sunday 24th – the group contained a number in military-type uniform, some were carrying flags, each one of a different design and a number of people in ordinary civilian clothes were carrying floral wreaths.
Most onlookers at that point would not have known that those gathered there had a threefold purpose:
to commemorate the landing of Mauser rifles for the Irish Volunteers
to commemorate the massacre of civilians by enraged soldiers later that same day on Bachelors Walk and to
launch the Asgard 1916 Society.
The men and women in uniform formed up with the flags as a colour party and led the procession the full length of the pier to its end. There the procession came to a halt in front of a plaque on the wall commemorating the landing of 900 Mauser M1871 single-shot rifles and 29,000 rounds of ammunition in 1914 by a crew skippered by Erskine Childers with his wife Molly and friend Mary Spring Rice. The arms were taken ashore and whisked away in an operation planned by Bulmer Hobson of the IRB and carried out by the Irish Volunteers and Na Fianna Éireann.
The Dublin Metropolitan Police and British Army were mobilised by Dublin Castle authorities to seize the guns (unlike at the previous much larger operation by the Loyalist UVF at Larne) but only managed to get a few. As the disgruntled Scottish Borderers marched back into town, they were jeered by Dublin crowds and some cabbage stalks were thrown at them. On Bachelors Walk, very near the Ha’penny Bridge, an officer brought them to a halt and they faced the crowd with guns pointed, then opened fire. Three men and a woman were killed and 38 wounded, including the father of singer Luke Kelly of the Dubliners ballad group (also called Luke). One of the victims died of bayonet wounds.
Margaret McKearney, who has had three brothers killed in the Six Counties during the 30-years war, stepped forward to address the crowd as tourists and visitors took photos or watched and listened. After giving a brief account of the Howth landing and of the massacre on the Dublin quays, also of the smaller landing at Kilcoole, McKearney called forward Pól Ó Scanaill of the 1916 Societies to read the 1916 Proclamation of Independence. After he had finished, McKearney called for the young bearers of two floral wreaths to make their presentations:
Ellen O’Neill, with a wreath in memory of those killed and injured by the British soldiers at Bachelors’ Walk;
Roibeard Drummond, whose uncle Michael Moore was a crew member of the Nugget, landing rifles at Kilcoole, laying a wreath for the Asgard 1916 Society to commemorate the landing of the rifles and those who carried them in battle in 1916.
Last of the wreath-layers was Denise Ní Chanain on behalf of the Anti-Internment Group of Ireland.
MOORE STREET SPEECH
Niamh McDonald gave a short speech on the current situation in the struggle to save the revolutionary quarter of Moore Street. She informed her audience that NAMA had sold the debt of the Irish speculator company Chartered Land (Joe O’Reilly) to Hammerson, a British-based vulture capitalist company, who are continuing with the plan to build a huge shopping centre over the whole historic quarter. Meanwhile, the Minister for Heritage, Heather Humphreys, is appealing the High Court judgement that the whole quarter is a national monument. McDonald asked people to keep an eye on the campaign’s
Facebook page for updates and for calls to support actions.
McKearney then called on Diarmuid Breatnach to sing Me Old Howth Gun, pointing out that guns landed at Howth had been the first to fire on the Lancers in O’Connell Street on Easter Monday 1916. Breatnach introduced the song as having been written apparently in 1921, that is a year before the outbreak of the Civil War, by James Doherty, who also used the pseudonym Seamas Mac Gallogly.
MAIN SPEAKER — JOHN CRAWLEY FROM THE MARITA ANN
The next speaker to be introduced by McKearney was John Crawley who was arrested on board the Marita Ann trawler, intercepted off the Kerry coast by the Irish Naval Service on September 29, 1984, when seven tonnes of arms were seized. The US heavy machine guns recovered on the Marita Ann had special mountings allowing them to be used as anti-aircraft weapons. Another of those detained on board – and later jailed for 10 years – was Martin Ferris who went on to become a Kerry TD for Sinn Fein, while John Crawley has taken a line of opposition to the Good Friday Agreement.
John Crawley gave the main speech at Howth, in which he traced the history of the struggle for the Irish Republic from the Volunteers onwards, pointing out that many who fought the British in 1916 had different aspirations for the country, which explained why they parted ways in 1921. Crawley stated that the British have always been able to pick out those whose primary intention was to survive the struggle from those whose intention was if necessary to give their lives for the objective of the Irish Republic.
Crawley pointed out that some people had led a section of the Republican movement in accepting the right of a foreign country to decide the future of a part of our country; they had joined in the colonial administration and had accepted the colonial police force.
After the applause for the speech died down, McKearney thanked those who had participated and asked Diarmuid Breatnach again to step forward to sing the national anthem. Breatnach sang it in Irish, first verse and chorus (and noticeably sang “Sinne Laochra Fáil” instead of “Sinne Fianna Fáil”). Participants joined in with the chorus and then all made their way along the pier towards a local pub where refreshments had been made available by the new 1916 Society.
I WAS INVITED TO SING A COUPLE OF SONGS AT THE LAUNCH OF “OUR RISING – CABRA AND PHIBSBOROUGH IN 1916″. Of course I was honoured to accept; the songs I chose to sing were “Sergeant William Bailey” and “Where Is Our James Connolly?” I chose them as important to the events around the Irish Volunteers and hoped they would be considered appropriate to the book launch event also.
These years are the centenaries of many things in our history and it is right that we should remember them. Among those things we are told that we should remember the First World War. I think the people who say that are right – we should, but not in the way most of those people mean. We should remember that in a dispute about what markets of the world should be dominated by which World powers and which resources they should have a monopoly on stealing, they sent millions to their deaths and millions more to injury and tragedy. And of course, the capitalists, the class that controlled those Powers were not among those dead and injured millions.
When those people tell us that we should commemorate the First World War and collect songs and memorabilia they don’t mean that we should sing songs against the War, collect anti-War leaflets and honour those brave few who dared speak out publicly against the war stampede of their countries. And who paid the price for doing so. And yet those things too are the history of the War and to my mind the parts of that history that, among all the wars of the past and the present, hold out a hope for the future.
Peadar Kearney was an Irish Republican of a Dublin skilled working class background born not far from Phibsborough – in Dorset Street, around the corner from Inisfallen Parade, where Sean O’Casey was reared. When Kearney taught night classes in Irish, O’Casey would be one of his pupils.
Kearney wrote many songs that are still sung today, the most famous of which is the Soldiers’ Song, on which he cooperated with Patrick Heeney, from Railway Street, off Gardiner Street. When the Irish Volunteers was formed in 1913, Kearney was a co-founder and his song was one of a number sung by other Volunteers during the 1916 Rising, in which Kearney also fought.
Peadar Kearney also wrote a three-verse song mocking a recruiting sergeant for the British Army, who apparently had a pitch at Dunphy’s Corner. According to a local historian, that was outside what is now Doyle’s pub, at the Phibsboro crossroads. I added two verses to that song, in order to give Sergeant William Bailey a bit of a background story.
Of course, the 1916 Rising is a part of the history of the First World War too – and not only because it took place during that War. For some, undoubtedly, it was a case of “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity”. But for some others, including Connolly, as he made clear a number of times in writing, the Rising was necessary to interrupt the War, to stop the bloodshed of class brother killing class brother across Europe.
Connolly was a revolutionary socialist. At the end of the 19th and very early 20th Centuries, the standard position of the international socialist movement had been against imperialist or colonialist war. In 1912, on November 24–25, the congress of world socialist parties at Basel in Switzerland, including revolutionaries and reformists, had come out clearly against imperialist war. Their manifesto was unanimously adopted at the congress. In the context of the situation created by the war in the Balkans that had begun in October 1912 and the increasing threat of world war, the Basel Manifesto called called for an unrelenting struggle against war and those responsible for it, the ruling classes of the capitalist countries. It stated that that war, if it began, “would create an economic and political crisis,” which should be utilized to “hasten the downfall of the rule of capital.”
As we know, the leadership of those parties that we now call the social democrats abandoned this position completely and championed their own ruling classes two years later as WWI broke out, cheering the workers of their countries on into uniform, to kill and be killed. There were some uprisings against the capitalists and against war but the first of any significance — and indeed of great significance — was the 1916 Rising in Ireland. The next revolutionary blow to war would not be until be a year later, with revolution in the Russian Empire.
Of the two better-knowns songs about James Connolly, the song “Where Is Our James Connolly?” is I think the best and truer to Connolly’s ideology. It was written by Patrick Galvin who was, among other things a writer, playwright, screen writer and singer. Galvin died only four years ago. Christy Moore remembers learning the song around 1970 which is probably not long after it was written – or at least published.
The 28th of June was not a normal Sunday in Moore Street. On a normal Sunday, Moore Street is not a busy street, although it is not quiet either. The stallholders are on a day off to come back on Monday but a number of small shops are open as are the supermarkets and the ILAC shopping centre, one of which doors opens up on to Moore Street. But on this Sunday, crowds packed a part of the street for the event organised by the Save Moore Street from Demolition group.
As a crowd had gathered already by 1.30pm, a half an hour early, singer-musician Paul O’Toole responded to his performing instincts and started playing a set of compositions of his own and of others. A song against the Water Charges opened his set, to be followed by another of his own, We Shall Not Lie Down.
Meanwhile the Save Moore Street from Demolition (non-political party) group, had set up their stall as they had done the previous day there and on another 41 Saturday afternoons in Moore Street. The folding table, covered in a Cumann na mBan flag donated by a diaspora supporter, was staffed by Bróna Uí Loing, a relation of 1916 veterans and of Fenians involved in the famous Manchester prison van escape, and Vivienne Lee, another early activist in the campaign. On the table was a petition to save the street and leaflets were being handed out by helpers. Nearby, some Irish tricolours, the Starry Plough and the Irish Republic flag fluttered and a number of placards indicated the concerns of the campaign: “NÍL SAOIRSE GAN STAIR (“There is no freedom without history”) stated one, while another said “NO TO SPECULATORS”.
MOORE STREET IN HISTORY
Moore Street is the sole remaining street of a market quarter going back hundreds of years comprising three parallel streets with many lane-ways in between, all the rest of which are now buried underneath the ILAC shopping centre and a Dunne’s Stores; people lived in those streets and laneways and clothes and shoes, meat and fish, fruit and vegetables and furniture were sold there.
But in 1916, Moore Street, its back yards and its surrounding streets were host to history of a different kind: in the last days of the 1916 Rising, the GPO roof burning and the ceiling unsafe, around 300 Irish Citizen Army and Irish Volunteers evacuated the building and made their way through a side door, across a Henry Street made hazardous by flying bullets, and into Henry Place. It was probably here that the English revolutionary socialist, Weekes (also variously Weeks, Wicks) who had joined the Rising, fell dead.
The insurgents’ evacuation group included three women: Elizabeth O’Farrell, her life-long friend Julia Grennan and Winifred Carney, James Connolly’s secretary who, on leaving Liberty Hall on Easter Monday, had packed a Webley pistol along with her typewriter. All three had refused to leave as the other Cumann na mBan women made their own earlier hazardous way helping the wounded fighters to Jervis Street hospital.
As the evacuees made their way hurriedly through the Henry Place laneway, they encountered a storm of machine-gun and rifle fire at the intersection of the lane and another, now named Moore Lane. The fire was coming from a British Army barricade at the top, in what is now Parnell Street. Here Michael Mulvihill fell, mortally wounded; he was also fresh over from England but originally from Kerry. Volunteers broke into a yard and dragged a car out, placing it across the gap and taking a breath, they ran across, mostly one by one. Connolly was being carried on a makeshift stretcher, his ankle shattered earlier by a ricocheting bullet in Williams Lane, ironically just next to Independent House, owned by leader of Dublin “nationalist” capitalists, William Martin Murphy and also ironically, across the road from the former office of the Irish Socialist Republican Party, founded by Connolly in 1896, sixteen years earlier.
Shortly before the evacuating group were making their way across that murderous gap, Michael The O’Rahilly had led a dozen fighters who had volunteered for the task in a charge at another British barricade and machine-gun a the top of Moore Street, also in what is now Parnell Street. Since the GPO was being evacuated, there was no covering fire from the top of that building and the fire coming down the street must have been terrific. None made it as far as the barricade. The O’Rahilly was apparently unharmed and got quite close; he sheltered in a doorway on the west side of the street and then ran across to a lane on the other side. A burst of machine-gun fire caught him and in the laneway, now named O’Rahilly Parade, he died, after having penned a note to his wife. The note is reproduced now on a bronze plaque in that street.
The other group, having made it through Henry Lane and prevented from further progress by the firing of that same machine-gun, broke into the first house of a Moore St. Terrace on the north side of the terrace and began to tunnel northwards from house to house, occupying in time the whole terrace by the time their leaders gave up their plan of breakout and, in an attempt to save further loss of civilian life, surrendered themselves and all the garrisons of the Rising on both sides of the Liffey on Saturday of Easter Week.
The surrender party of Pearse and O’Flaherty met General Lowe in what is now Parnell Street (exactly where is disputed but from the photo of the event it would appear to be outside of where In Cahoots café is now). The GPO/ Moore Street garrison marched up O’Connell Street and surrendered their arms outside the Gresham Hotel and were kept prisoner in the garden of the Rotunda, the building where the first public meeting to found the Irish Volunteers had been held in 1913. A British soldier posed later for a photo with the Irish Republic flag held upside down in front of the Parnell Monument and at some point a whole group of British officers posed for another photo, also holding the flag upside-down to signify the defeat of the rebels.
From that tunneled-through terrace in Moore Street, six were among the 14 shot by firing squad, including five of the signatories of the Proclamation: Tom Clarke (whose tobacconist shop was where the Centra shop is now, across from the Parnell Monument), Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, Seán Mac Diarmada and Joseph Plunkett. Another, William Pearse, was also executed.
MOORE STREET ON THE 28th JUNE 2015
Jumping forward to June 28th 2015, while Paul O’Toole was playing and singing to keep the audience interested, shouted slogans from the Henry Street end of Moore Street announced the arrival of the Dublin Says No weekly march, come to support the campaign.
Paul O’Toole’s place was taken later by Kev and Dwayne, who played and sang a set of Dublin and 1916 ballads, to be followed by a performance of two of his pieces by John Cummins, Poetician, champion of the Slam Poetry competition. His piece on Moore Street was particularly well received.
Diarmuid Breatnach of the Save Moore Street from Demolition group, who had been MCing the entertainment part of the event, then called on the crowd to line up on the street and stretch arms in a symbolic act of: “Love for Moore Street and our heritage and resistance to the plans of property speculators to destroy it”. Paul O’Toole came back on and played as the crowd eventually stretched around all four sides of the “1916 terrace”, areas where in 1916 bullets flew and people died as a relatively small group of women and men took on the British Empire. Cries could be heard of “Save Moore Street, save it all, Save the Terrace and the stalls!”
When the ‘Arms Around’ exercise had been completed, photographed and filmed, Breatnach called the participants to gather back around to the Moor Street terrace and introduced Mel Mac Giobúin, to speak on behalf of the SMSFD group and to MC the final part of the event.
Mel thanked the crowd for encircling the 1916 terrace in defence of “ ‘me jewel and darlin’ Dublin’ as Éamon Mac Thomáis would say”. Mel explained that the small group of which he was part had run an information and petition stall “every Saturday for over 40 weeks in Moore Street, in rain, cold and now sunshine” and paid tribute to all those who had campaigned over the years. He spoke of the support of ordinary people who shop in the street, who come up to the stall not only to sign the petition but to tell us their memories of shopping or working in Moore Street, of relatives who were involved in the 1916 Rising and/ or in the War of Independence.
Enumerating some of the advances that had been made over the years, Mel denounced the Chartered Land giant “shopping mall” proposal and the NAMA process through which property speculator Joe O’Reilly was now going and Moore Street along with him. (Joe O’Reilly was, at €12.8 billion, top of the list of NAMA debtors not long ago but is now at No.6 of the Top Ten. He is still in business and being paid €120,000 annually by the State to manage his debts; also was recently involved in bidding for another big property site — DB). Dublin City Council had received a large number of submissions, Mel said, and was now beginning to think that another shopping mall might not be the best idea for Moore Street.
“We should continue to recognise the important significance of the 1916 Rising and the long tradition of the street market” Mel said and, in concluding, he thanked the crowd but asked them to be ready to be called out again in defence of the Moore Street historic quarter.
Next to speak was Donna Cooney, representing the 1916 Relatives Association, who spoke of the Cumann na mBan women in Moore Street in 1916, one of them being her great grand-aunt, Elizabeth O’Farrell. Donna recounted how O’Farrell had tripped in Moore Lane during the evacuation but had been caught and saved by Sean McGarry. On entering No.10, the first thing O’Farrell remembered seeing was Connolly on a stretcher and went to tend to him (she was a nurse by profession).
Donna spoke of the perilous journey O’Farrell had to take twice in the negotiations with General Lowe and then later, more danger in the unhappy task of taking the surrender instructions from Pearse and Connolly to insurgent strongholds in various parts of Dublin. “The Government needs to do much more”, said Donna, referring to Government plans to commemorate the centenary of the Rising in 2016 and was warmly applauded by the crowd.
Proinnsias Ó Rathaille, called up next by Mel, is also a 1916 hero’s relative – his grandfather was The O’Rahilly, who died in the lane that now bears his name. Proinnsias spoke briefly of the international importance of the 1916 Rising, which had given such inspiration and encouragement for their own revolutions to nations around the world, particularly those under the British Empire. Turning to the importance of the Irish diaspora to the struggles, Proinnsias singled out Maeve O’Leary who continues to promote the cause from Australia where her home is now and who had recently returned to her native Dublin for a short while (and worked with the Save Moore Street from Demolition group — DB).
Proinnsias concluded by reading the moving poem written by Yeats to the memory of The O’Rahilly to great applause.
The final speaker introduced by Mel was Jim Connolly Heron, great-grandson of James Connolly, a long-time campaigner for the appropriate preservation of Moore Street. Jim spoke about how the Chartered Land plan to destroy Moore Street had been agreed by a Minister in the current government and how a land-swap deal, which would have facilitated the destruction of much of the 1916 terrace, had been voted down by elected councillors of a number of political parties and independents.
Jim went on to speak of the NAMA sell-off of assets due for the following day, when among other properties, Chartered Land’s stake in the ILAC and Moore Street was to be sold off to the highest bidder. “Moore Street is not for sale”, he said, to cheers. Jim went on to speak of “the golden generation” who had risen in 1916 and the need to honour their memory and to commemorate the event properly and how conserving the historic Moore Street quarter, the only surviving 1916 battle-site, is very important part of that. Jim concluded to loud cheering and applause by saying that “Moore Street will not be sold on our watch!”
Paul O’Toole then played and sang again his “We Will Not Lie Down”, with the crowd joining in on the chorus, after which he accompanied Diarmuid Breatnach singing “Amhrán na bhFiann”, the first verse solo and everyone joining in on the chorus.
And so the third Arms Around Moore Street event in six years (along with other types of campaign events) came to a close. Next Saturday, the Save Moore Street from Demolition information and petition table will be there again, for people to sign, to read, to share their memories, their anger, their hope that the market, the terrace, the quarter are saved. In the meantime, people will sign the petition on line and post supportive comments on the SMSFD Facebook pages and others. It is not just their past – it is their future too.