Category Archives: War for Independence period
December 8 marked the 95th anniversary of the execution without trial of left-republicans Liam Mellows (1895-1922), Rory O’Connor (1883-1922), Joe McKelvey (1898-1922) and Dick Barrett (1889-1922). The four had been taken prisoner after the surrender of the anti-Treaty forces in the Four Courts in Dublin on June 30.
In the ten months of the civil war the Free State would murder in cold blood more republicans than the British had in the almost three years of the war for independence (aka the Tan War).
Further reading (three chapters from my old MA thesis, written in 1995 and the first few months of 1996):
Kevin’s book The New Politics of Sinn Fein (Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, 2007) is essential reading for tracing the evolution of the Provos and how the British state drew them into a process of betrayal. The talk below is from last August (August 2016), given at the Communist University in London.
Here’s yet another place where what Matthews dishes up is at best highly questionable and, in fact to put it bluntly, most likely untrue.
For instance, Matthews’ Renegades asserts that Markievicz did very little in Liberty Hall during the lockout other than flounce around making a show of herself.
Well, here is some testimony from Louie Bennett, a leading figure in the Irish labour movement for many years. Bennett was a suffragist wh0 got involved with the radical end of the labour movement at the time of the 1913 lockout and subsequently played a leading role in the militant Irish Women Workers Union. Here she is talking about how she secretly started going to Liberty Hall during the lockout:
“At that time I belonged to the respectable middle class and I did not dare admit to my home circle that I had run with the crowd to hear Jim Larkin, and crept like a culprit into Liberty Hall to see Madame Markievicz in a big overall, with sleeves rolled up, presiding over a cauldron of stew, surrounded by a crowd of gaunt women and children carrying bowls and cans.” (Bennett talked to R.M. Fox about her life and this provided the basis for his 1958 book on her, Louie Bennett: her life and times, p42).
This suggests Markievicz worked hard in the soup kitchen and was not some dilettante who only appeared when photos were being taken, as suggested by O’Casey and picked up by Matthews.
Moreover, Matthews is highly selective about providing context. If she wants to Read the rest of this entry
Back in May, this blog reprinted an excellent piece from the Irish Political Review by Manus O Riordan on the revisionist assault on Constance Markievicz (see: The assault on Markievicz: as fact-free as it is malicious). Below is another excellent piece from the IPR dealing with Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc’s exposure of a chunk of other revisionist – ie professional anti-republican – propaganda masquerading as disinterested historiography. People have a range of views about IPR and the politics of the small current which produces it. However, there can be no doubt that these folks perform a valuable service in tackling and exposing the products of the political project of the historical revisionists. The piece below is taken from this month’s IPR (August 2016).
The March issue of Irish Political Review published the remarks made by Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc on the occasion of the launch of his book, Truce: Murder Myth and the Last Days of the Irish War of Independence. Ó Ruairc then presented his book as “a challenge to myth, propaganda and fabrication”. Indeed it is. For, from the word go, the author tackles revisionist academia head on: “Eunan O’Halpin, Professor of Contemporary Irish History at Trinity College Dublin, stated in a recent television documentary that (RIC Constable Alfred) Needham had married in a church ceremony and was shot dead in front of his new bride just minutes after they had exchanged wedding vows. A common element in most of these accounts is the suggestion that the IRA Volunteers who killed Needham knew a ceasefire had been agreed with the British forces and that was a motivating factor in the attack. The stories about Needham’s wedding are part of a wider narrative about the War of Independence, which claims that the announcement of the Truce on 8 July 1921 led to a wave of unjustifiable ‘eleventh-hour’ IRA attacks before the ceasefire began. Supporters of this narrative claim that republicans launched a determined campaign to kill as many people as possible before the war ended and that these final IRA attacks were made mainly against so-called ‘soft targets’, i. e., unarmed members of the British forces and loyalist civilians… Some of these stories have a grain of truth in them. Others are entirely fictional, or are genuine killings taken out of context and with new details invented for propaganda value.”
Ó Ruairc exposes the Needham tale, which had been related with such feeling by Professor O’Halpin, for the fiction that it is: “There was no wedding ceremony, no teenage bride… Needham, a Black and Tan from London, was shot standing at the door of a stable with two other armed members of the RIC – not while leaving a registry office with his new bride. This tale about Needham being killed immediately after getting married appears to have been invented for melodramatic effect in a propaganda story. Yet different versions of this story continue to surface every few years masquerading as factual history.” (pp 9-11).
In his history of the build up to the Truce itself, Ó Ruairc also makes clear how the war violence of the preceding seven months was solely the British Government’s responsibility, for in December 1920 it had rejected what it would accept in July 1921, Michael Collins’s proposal for a comprehensive bilateral truce, with a commitment that “the entire Dáil shall be free to meet and that its peaceful activities not be interfered with”. (p 31). But, of course, the very reason for the War of Independence had been Britain’s refusal to accept the democratic validity, Read the rest of this entry
Anne Haverty’s updated new edition of her bio of Constance Markievicz is well worth a read (and a buy). Among other things, Haverty disproves the notion that Markievicz shot an unarmed cop at the beginning of the takeover of Stephen’s Green and then ran back inside the Green exulting in the killing. Personally, I happen to think members of the Dublin Metropoitan Police were legitimate targets, but the attack on Markievicz is that she shot him at point blank range when he was unarmed and had no chance to surrender. Various professional anti-republicans (the historical revisionist school, for instance and folks like Ann Matthews, whom I simply can’t take seriously as any sort of historian) have peddled this nonsense, using highly questionable ‘evidence’.
Haverty runs through, for instance, the use of a Geraldene Fitzgerald’s account which revisionists typically classify as being from her diary. Haverty points out that it is actually two typed pages that read like a deposition for a prosecution, one the state did not pursue (which itself says something about the fanciful nature of the claim). Haverty shows how Fitzgerald’s testimony is faulty (different time to when the policeman was actually shot; distance from the shooting and yet Fitzgerald claimed to hear words spoken in the Green!!!) and concludes of Fitzgerald’s ‘evidence’: “Only the Read the rest of this entry