Lindie Naughton’s biography of Markievicz

I must admit that when I saw journalist Lindie Naughton had a book coming out on Markievicz my initial response was one of trepidation.  Even if it was a good book, what was there left to put into a Markievicz bio that hadn’t already been covered by Anne Marreco, Jacqueline Van Voris, Diana Norman and Anne Haverty?

To my delight – especially since I bought the book after a few internet chats with Lindie  – I can report that Lindie’s biography does bring more stuff to the table and is a really good read.  In fact, I found reading the lead-up to the Rising had me quite excited, indeed riveted.

Lindie has made a good deal of use of the Bureau of Military History archives, most particularly the witness statements from the revolutionary period.

She seems to have been through papers of the time pretty methodically, looking for more stuff by and about Markievicz, as well as using the body of Markievicz’s articles that I dug up in the 1980s and put up on this site when I started it.

One result is that, even though I think a know a lot about Markievicz, I have found out more by reading this book.  I think it’s also interesting that Lindie has brought a journalist’s research skills to the work – these are far superior to those of a so-called professional historian like Anne Matthews.  And, speaking of Matthews, Lindie puts another nail in the coffin of Matthews’ attempt to frame up Markievicz for shooting an unarmed Dublin cop at point-blank range and then gloating over it (Anne Haverty also demolishes this frame-up).  I did, however, think Lindie could have said a bit more about the problematic nature of the Geraldene Fitzgerald claim to have witnessed Markievicz killing the Dublin policeman and exulting over it, especially as she had mentioned to me some problems with the Fitzgerald statement.  While Anne Haverty utterly demolishes Matthews’ attempt to stitch up Markievicz on that one, Lindie does, however, show it to be highly unlikely that Markievicz did any such thing.  Also, Lindie notes that Connolly had specifically ordered ICA members not to shoot unarmed cops and soldiers.

Below is a page from Lindie’s bio.  It will give you a taste for the book and, I hope, encourage you to go out and buy it.  It deserves to sell well and be well-read.  The extract deals with some stuff at Liberty Hall a few weeks before the Rising:

By the time the police returned, Connolly, Constance and Helena Molony, all armed, were waiting, along with a number of Citizen Army members.  Nora Connolly had delivered mobilisation orders to Mallin and others and they were on their way.  Connolly again demanded a warrant.  With both Connolly and Constance armed and Citizen Army reinforcements arriving, the sergeant ordered a retreat.  No one had any idea what had caused the raids and so Constance and the women searched for copies of the latest Gael,  It had not arrived.

Soon, a third group of policemen led by Inspector Bannon appeared at the Eden Quay shop and, this time, a warrant to search the premises was produced.  Connolly told them to go ahead with the search but warned them against setting foot in Liberty Hall.  After turning over the shop, the police left.  By now, around 150 Citizen Army members had downed tools and arrived at Liberty Hall, some dripping wet after swimming across the Grand Canal.  Although still in their working clothes, many were armed and both Dublin Castle and the Viceregal Lodge received hundreds of calls from alarmed citizens.

For the rest of the day, with the level of excitement boosted by wild rumours of an attack, guards were posted guards were posted at the Liberty Hall doors.  All day, a stream of Fianna and Women’s Ambulance Corps, as well as Citizen Army men, came and went.  Constance had returned to Surrey House in the late afternoon and Connolly sent his daughter, Nora, after her to collect a carbine and bandolier.  When she told Constance that her father expected that “anything may happen at any time”, Constance replied that she would return to Liberty Hall immediately and take her turn at standing guard. . .

As they were about to leave, there was a knock at the door.  Two detectives stood outside with an order prohibiting Constance from entering “that part of Ireland called Kerry”.  An exchange of views followed, with the policemen taking careful note of Constance’s pistol.  “Remember, I am quite prepared to shoot and be shot at,” she said as she shut the door.  Constance was scheduled to give a lecture on ‘The Fenian Rising of ’67’ to Fianna boys in Tralee, County Kerry the following Sunday.  Connolly advised her not to go; she would risk arrest at a time when there was important work to do in Dublin.  She was still in the process of making large-scale maps of Dublin city for use in the rebellion – the perfect job for a trained artist.  Marie Perolz went in her place, delivered the speech written by Constance and enjoyed herself thoroughly, especially when she was questioned about her Russian nationality.  “Those were great days and I would crawl on my knees to do it all again,” Marie was to say later.

Although the Gaelic Press printing machines were confiscated, some frames of type escaped attention.  With the help of the owner, Joseph Stanley, these were rescued from the Liffey Street printing shop by a group of Irish Citizen Army men wearing working clothes and using a hand cart.  Watched by the police, they loaded up the cart and took the frames of type back to Liberty Hall.  The Spark, owned by Perolz and edited by Constance, and another newspaper called Honesty came out as usual that week.  Later, this type was used for printing the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

With four weeks to go until Easter, Liberty Hall was guarded night and day, with Constance regularly taking her turn as sentry and bringing cakes for tea.  Some of the Irish Citizen Army men slept there and, when not on guard duty, occupied their time making bombs. . .

Posted on July 2, 2017, in Constance Markievicz, Fianna, Historiography and historical texts, Irish Citizen Army, James Connolly, Nora Connolly, Political education and theory, Republicanism post-1900, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, The road to the Easter Rising, Trade unions, Women, Women in republican history. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Lindie Naughton’s biography of Markievicz.

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