Monthly Archives: July 2012
Johnny White: an appreciation
I recently missed marking the fifth anniversary of the death of Johnny White in 2007. Below is the oration delivered at his grave on May 2, 2007 – video of funeral, here – by Johnny’s close friend and comrade Terry Robson:
Comrades and friends:
We are gathered at this place to mourn the death and to honour and celebrate the life of our friend and comrade Johnny White.
In celebrating his life, we are expected to say that he lived life to the full and that we are able to remember the good times as well as the bad. His family will be left to mourn a man of generosity, of simple pleasures who was most at ease in the company of his own family and of his friends. But we also know that Johnny’s life since the death of his wife Maura was one of sadness and of loneliness. Although he was always comforted by the closeness of his sons and daughters, the light in his life flickered and never really recovered since the death of Moria.
But as many of you who stood at this same spot some three years ago will remember and who observed the effect on Johnny of the deep tragedy of Moria’s death and the pain that was evident in his face, there was also a realization that we were probably witnessing the beginning of the end of Johnny’s life as well.
There is a deep irony in claiming to be wise after the event, but there were those of us who knew him well who quietly looked at each other and understood instinctively that the man mourning the death of his wife was confronted by a deep and painful agony with which he was to grapple from then until now.
But just as it is important to express and make clear the hurt of this loss suffered by all of us and especially by his family, it is also important to make clear that Johnny White was no ordinary man and that in our individual and collective grief we should be able to record for posterity, our admiration for his intellect, our respect for his political commitment and our gratitude for his loyalty and devotion to his friends and comrades.
This connection with Johnny goes back a long way and in my case for almost forty years. During the heat of political debate and in the confrontations of street conflict, it was Johnny White who made it clear to me and to others that what was taking place in the struggle for civil rights in the North was both a struggle for national self-determination and a struggle for Read the rest of this entry
Frank Conroy, Kildare republican and communist, died in Córdoba, Spain 1936
Christy Moore paid tribute to the Irishmen of the International Brigades with his poignant song ‘Vive la quinta Brigada’. In the final verse Moore names Frank Conroy, his fellow county man, “who fought and died in Spain with the International Brigade”.
Frank Conroy came from Fair Green, Kildare town and was an IRA activist who fought with the working class against the fascist Blue Shirts in Kildare and Dublin during the hungry 1930s. Like many Republicans he joined the Republican Congress and Communist Party. Conroy volunteered to fight with Republican leader Frank Ryan in the International Brigade to defend the Spanish Republic against Franco.
A report from Spain written by Donal O’Reilly recorded, “May, Fox and Conroy can’t be stopped taking down and cleaning their machine gun. A comradeship of heroes. The company forms and moves to the attack. The fire is terrific, Read the rest of this entry
Given that rather too many times than I care to recall, I’ve said this or that would be up on the site and it hasn’t materialised I’m reluctant to make promises. But these are some things currently under way:
* Constance Markievicz’s 1923 pamphlet, What Republicans Stand For
* Reviews of the Socialist Democracy book on the credit crunch; the Augusteijn bio of Pearse and the Ó Beacháin book on Fianna Fail’s first 50 years