William Smith O’ Brien commemoration

Good turn out today for the william smith O’ Brien commemoration, thank you to all who attended. 🇮🇪

With many thanks to: CSF Tipperary for the original posting.

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On the 23,October, 1971, at 11 years old, I was informed by my father, that I was to become the man of the house, as he fought back tears, I never seen him cry before, and was quite shocked by this.

Just before dawn, my mother, Maura Meehan, 30, and her sister dorothy maguire,19,had tried to warn neighbours of the incursursion and military raid by British army regiments,namely,the royal greenjackets and the queens own green Howard’s,armed only with a foghorn, they cruised the streets of Belfast trying to protect the catholic community against what turned out to be the dawn of internment ,where no due process was afforded,nor legal representation allowed,innocents were sent to concentration camps under the prevention of terrorism act,put in place by British government to achieve their means without legal repercussions.

The car in which they were passengers, swerved to avoid hitting a military vehicle , veered off cape st,coming to a full stop against a gable end brick wall at Omar st,
The nightmare had only begun,the army opened fire on the car with extreme prejudice and executed my mother and aunt on the spot,to add insult to injury,they refused to let an ambulance try to save their lives and also a priest, there to administer the last rites and sacrament, claiming there were armed terrorists in the car and it was booby trapped.

The lies that followed are part of the cover up that continues to this day,amnesty international and the European court of human rights have both ruled against England’s refusal to publicize there findings as evidence proves wrongdoing on their part, the historical enquiries team ( now dismantled) said,”it’s not in the publics need to know”,not only is this unadulterated murder, it’s a war crime.

As articled under the Geneva convention to protect against genocide by armed forces slaughtering their own civilians,once again Britain tips the scales of justice to justify slaughter and thumb their nose at the world, further reading can be found on my page at friends of maura and Dorothy, their only “crime”was saying,”the British are coming”and paid with their lives,think for a minute what kind of world we would live in if the Brits had murdered Paul revere?
©By Gerard Meehan

With many thanks to: Pictures of Ireland with Jim Meehan and Eddie Meehan for the original posting.

In memory of I.R.A Volunteer Joseph O’ Connor. Executed this day in 2000 by the British agents of the British Crown in collaboration with the Provisional Republican movement.

In memory of Oglach Joe O’Connor

R.I.P comrade #TAL

As now exposed British agents helped establish the Good Friday Surrender, many Republicans stood resolutely opposed, realising what we know as fact today, that it would not eradicate sectarianism, it would not remove British rule and it would therefore not lead to a Socialist Republic.

To oppose this the 32 County Sovereignty Movement was formed. Around this time, the Irish Republican Army also reformed as the Provisional movement was now in direct contradiction of its own aims. Instead, the provisional movement began to carry out the wishes of the British establishment by trying to silence Republicans by any means. To carry out what then British Secretary of State Mo Mowlam refereed to as “internal house keeping”.

However, there was one young, idealistic and fearsome I.R.A Volunteer these agents of British rule could not silence or intimidate. Joseph O’ Connor publicly challenged these alley rats and stoops of British rule.

After leaving his mothers house on the 13th October 2000, two of these agents approached I.R.A Volunteer Joseph O’ Connor and shot him dead.

To further the aims of British intelligence they also tried to plant the weapon near the office of another Republican organisation to stoke division. The old British mantra of divide and conquer was not lost on these agents. However, a local republican spotted these agents and realised their intent.

Joseph is forever remembered by his comrades throughout Ireland who like him, have never and will never accept any false right of Britain to remain in Ireland.

R.I.P Oglach Joseph O’ Connor, Belfast Brigade, Irish Republican Army.

Beir Bua!

With many thanks to the: 32 County Sovereignty Movement Co Cork and McKelvey Steele Cumann (RSF) for the original postings.

Raymond McCreesh park: Council say it is a ‘surplus asset’

Raymond McCreesh Park

Debates over the name of Raymond McCreesh Park have gone on since it was opened in 2001

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has decided to sell a Newry play park named after an IRA hunger striker.
The council said Raymond McCreesh Park is now “surplus to requirements”.

Other public bodies will now have first refusal on the Patrick Street site. Its name will be a matter for its new owner.
The name of the park had led to a long-running dispute in the area. Unionists demanded the name be changed, while republicans insisted it be retained.

SDLP councillors were caught in the middle.
Originally named Patrick Street Play Park, it was renamed in 2001.
‘Surplus asset’
Following a report into play facilities in the area, an agreement was made on Monday night to dispose of the site.

SDLP Councillor Michael Savage told BBC News NI: “The decision was taken, after a number of months looking at play park provision in this area, that McCreesh Park, based on the low score that it came up with as part of that independent process, would be surplus to requirements for the council.
“It would then be earmarked as a surplus asset.”

Raymond McCreesh

Raymond McCreesh died on hunger strike in the Maze Prison in 1981
The council now plans to build a new play facility on Doran’s Hill, which runs alongside the existing park.

There are also plans to build 200 homes nearby.
Raymond McCreesh Park
Image caption
Local residents say there is ongoing anti-social behaviour in the area
Sinn Féin, which has an office on the same street as the park, is unhappy with the decision.

Newry councillor Liz Kimmins proposed the council reverse the decision to sell and carry out a community consultation, but this was voted down by the other parties.
“The people in the Ballybot and Barcroft areas areas have strongly supported the name to stay,” she said.
“This issue has not been resolved.

“The SDLP, Alliance and unionist parties have voted to refuse the community their say on the future of Raymond McCreesh Park and instead put it up for sale.”

‘Summer from hell’
However, some residents in the area support the decision – not necessarily because of the park’s name, but rather because of the poor condition of its facilities and ongoing anti-social behaviour in the area.
Newry woman Sheila Hughes said she had had “the summer from hell” living near the park.
“They’re spilling up the steps at the back of the park into where the houses are and they won’t move,” she said.
“It’s hard when you don’t have anywhere else to send them or anywhere else for them to go.”

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story.

McCreesh Park decision prompts further spat amongst councillors

The decision by Newry Mourne and down District Council to sell off the controversial Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry has led to more wrangling among councillors, with Sinn Fein accusing the SDLP of misleading people over the park’s future.

Following a report into play facilities which identified “surplus assets” in the area, an agreement was made at Monday night’s full meeting of council to dispose of the site as it is “surplus to requirements.”

Sinn Fein Councillor, Liz Kimmins, proposed to reverse the decision and put the site’s future to a community consultation. Her proposal was defeated in a Chamber vote, with SDLP Councillor, Michael Savage proposing to stick to the original recommendation and seek expressions of interest from Government Departments during a D1 disposal process.The name of the park will now be a matter for its new owner.

Originally named Patrick Street Play Park, it was renamed after IRA Hunger Striker, Raymond McCreesh in 2001. The naming of the park led to a protracted dispute, with Unionists demanding the name be changed, whilst Sinn Fein argued to retain the name.

Following Monday night’s meeting, Ms Kimmins said the decision to dispose of the park “reinforced the belief of most that SDLP have a stated objective of rejecting the democratic decision of the people of the area to name this community asset after Raymond McCreesh.”

She said the ratification of the Council’s Play Strategy review at the full council meeting last month had recommended McCreesh Park alone for the D1 process, out of 10 parks in the district which fell below play value set out by the categorisation developed by Playboard NI.

“There was no rush from the SDLP to dispose of any of the others as disposal was not part of this process, a fact which was confirmed by council officials at the most recent meeting,” said Ms Kimmins. The Sinn Féin elected representative also disputed Councillor Savage’s claims that he carried out an audit in the area which supported the disposal of the park and the site to be used for housing.

“No one that I have spoken to in Ballybot or Barcroft has had any engagement with Cllr Savage on this issue,” she said, calling on the SDLP Councillor to “present evidence of his alleged community audit.”

“The attempt by other parties in the Council to force through the disposal of Raymond McCreesh Park without local consultation is an attempt to eradicate the name of Raymond McCreesh from the area.Cllr Savage and the SDLP should be honest with the people of Ballybot and Barcroft as to what their real intentions are,” demanded the Sinn Fein Councillor before pledging her party’s opposition “to any move in the Council to deprive the people of the area of the right to decide on the future use of this community asset”.

The Barcroft Community Association (BCA) has also challenged Mr Savage about his audit claims. BCA Chairperson, Darren Thompson, accused the SDLP Councillor of making “unsupported claims that he called to every house in Barcroft and Ballybot and surveyed residents about the future of Raymond McCreesh Play park.”

Mr Thompson said committee members have spoken with over 30 residents “and none of them were contacted by Councillor Savage.”

“Michael Savage has shown a total lack of respect for the people of Barcroft and neighbouring areas with regards to the alleged ‘audit’,” he added, accusing Mr Savage of using the local community as “pawns”, in “a cheap election gimmick.”

Meanwhile Mr Savage hit back and accused Sinn Fein of dishonesty over McCreesh Park. The SDLP Councillorsaid the local community will be “fully consulted” on the future of the park when viable options that can be funded and benefit the people of the area are identified.

“Anyone who I have worked for and been in contact with in the Ballybot and Barcroft area know that I have been open and honest with them about the future of the park,” insisted Mr Savage.

“Contrary to what Cllr Kimmins believes, I have knocked the doors in the area and provided residents with an update on the park and had many doorstep discussions with residents on the future of play provision in the area. I was open and honest with them about the process and I have remained true to that.”

He said Cllr Kimmins was fully aware that McCreesh Park had been identified as a surplus asset at a previous Active, Healthy Communities committee meeting,and that “To come along now and cry foul and hide behind a call for community consultation is being disingenuous to the people of the area.”

“We have agreed to seek expressions of interest from Government Departments to see if they can come up with schemes for the park that are a benefit to the local community under the D1 process,” he explained.

“During this process the local community will be asked to give their views on the options available and if the Council and the community believe any of the proposals are a good fit, then we will progress them.

“I am disappointed that Cllr Kimmins and her party have decided to play last minute political party games to try and mask their involvement in and approval of this process at every step.”

With many thanks to: The Examiner for the original posting.

Remembering life-long republican and patron of Republican Sinn Féin, Dan Keating who passed on the 2nd of October

Dan Keating was born on the 2nd January in Castlemaine, Co Kerry. He received his education in local schools, including the Christian Brothers School in Tralee, where he did his apprenticeship. During this time he became a skillful Gaelic football player in his native Kerry.

Dan was born on the 2nd January 1902 in Castlemaine, Co Kerry into a family steeped in National revolutionary freedom fighter’s dating right back to the great genocide. Through family Dan was taught the importance of nationhood, Irish, gaelic and revolutionary culture and history. It’s here Dan’s political leanings stemmed from, several of his uncles were militant freedom fighter’s in the land agitation years following the great hunger. In two interviews for a Radio Ulster documentary on his life, Keating recalled how his past shaped his future. ‘One branch of the family was very militant. At the time land-grabbing was rampant in Ireland. You had an agent in Milltown called Leslie, and Lord Mounteagle was the landlord. You could be doing well today and a couple days later they would raise the rent to something you couldn’t meet and they would put another fellow into it and you got the road. That brought the Moonlighters and it must be said, the Moonlighters did a great job. In every generation you had people willing to fight. . . the Moonlighters, the United Irishmen, then onto Sinn Féin and the IRB. You could say they were the soul of Ireland at the time.’

He was 14y old when the 1916 Easter rising took place, the 1916 rebellion and the gallantry of the rebel leaders was to have a great influence on Dan. He joined Fianna Éireann in 1918. In 1920, during the Irish War of Independence, he joined the 3rd Battalion, 1st Kerry Brigade, of the Irish Republican Army. He was an active volunteer brave and daring. On the 21st of April 1921, an RIC Constable Denis O’Loughlin was shot dead in Knightly’s public house in Tralee. Keating, Jimmy O’Connor and Percy Hanafin were suspected of the killing, and were forced to go on the run. On the 1st of June, Keating was involved in an ambush between Castlemaine and Milltown which saw five members of the crown forces disposed off. Dan’s unit was involved in a gun battle with the British Army near Castleisland which resulted in the deaths of four British soldiers and five IRA volunteers. Tralee co. Kerry became a stronghold for the IRA, militant nd, supportive
Dan Keating opposed the sellout 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty and remained principled and faithful to Republicanism, going on to fight on the anti-treaty side in the Irish Civil War. He was involved in operations in Kerry, Limerick, and Tipperary, before his column was arrested by Free State Forces. Keating spent seven months in Portlaoise Prison and the Curragh concentration camp before being released in March 1923. He remained committed to the Republican cause and a dedicated IRA volunteer for a long time after the Civil War. He was arrested several times during the 1930s on various charges. He was active in London during the 1939/1940 IRA bombing campaign.
In 1933, he was involved in an attempt to assassinate the leader of the Irish Blueshirts, Eoin O’Duffy, during a visit to County Kerry. The attack was to happen at Ballyseedy, where Free State forces had carried out the Ballyseedy Massacre during the Irish Civil War. However, the plot failed when the person travelling with O’Duffy refused to divulge what car the latter would be travelling in.
Dan returned to Dublin and worked as a barman in several public houses. He later returned to his native Kerry in 1978, living out the rest of his life with relatives in Knockbrack. Until his death he refused to accept a state pension because he considered the 26-county Republic of Ireland an illegitimate state which usurped the 1916 Irish Republic.

Tralee co. Kerry became a stronghold for the IRA. When there was some British soldiers shot one November night they decided to have this curfew. You had some very bitter policemen in Tralee also.’ Keating had begun working in Gerry McSeeley’s bar and bakery in Castle Street in Tralee, as an apprentice barman. ‘The first year you got no money, but you were well fed, before rising to a pound a week in the third year.’ His involvement in republicanism came not from lengthy historical or political study but from being swept away in the fervour of the time. He said there was no relevant history taught in schools, and that he and others were simply reacting to events and following each other into the ranks of the IRA. ‘It was the thing to do at the time—there was a wave and you got caught up in that.’ He was too young to join the IRA and joined the youth wing, Fianna Éireann, instead, providing information, from the vantage point of the bar or from elsewhere.
Graduating to the ranks of the IRA, Keating took part in several ambushes and continued intelligence-gathering. Tralee and the surrounding area was by then the scene of serious fighting between the IRA and the Crown forces, including Irishmen in the RIC, several of whom were shot by the local IRA. Under suspicion for one such killing, Keating went on the run but said that he and others in the IRA melted into the local population, who gave them full support. ‘They were great, the local people at the time, they were the soul of Ireland. Without the local people, the Flying Columns couldn’t exist. They’d [the police] get no response from the people. The people were opposed to them at the time, and it continued that way right up to the Truce.’
Rather than boasting about his involvement, Keating said that it was no more than what his contemporaries did. He did not know if he had killed but said that the prospect did not trouble him. Recorded by the BBC in March 2007, he said: ‘When you are involved in an ambush with a crowd of men you wouldn’t know who killed who or what about it. It never troubled me. You were fighting for a just cause and once you have that in the forefront it never troubled you. It never troubled me—it was a job to be done and at the time it was a just cause. And the more that was killed the better you liked it. Everyone was delighted about Kilmichael and other big ones in Cork.’
The largest operation he was involved in was an ambush in Castlemaine. Keating knew of a regular bicycle convoy of Crown forces through the village, and he sought assistance from outside for a major attack. ‘At the outset in Castlemaine there were only two riflemen and about twenty shotgun men, completely inadequate. In the course of the day, some came from Beaufort and one from Farranfore, and there were twelve men who came and they were based in a hut in Keel. Fourteen policemen left Killorglin to go to Tralee to draw the month’s wages. They were in different file, about 30 or 40 yards before every man going. They went and collected their wages anyway and they had a few drinks on the way home, they went into the pubs in Castlemaine—it must be said the publicans were great, no hint in the world [of the ambush plan]. When they went across the bridge at Brackhill Cross they were intercepted, there were eight of them killed, and there was one [unscathed] survivor anyway. He was left to look after the injured.’
He spoke ruefully of a final attack launched in the last hours before the Truce. Hatred of the Black and Tans, RIC and Auxiliaries was such that one final assault was launched, but one in which four IRA men were killed along with a number of Black and Tans. ‘It was a complete fiasco. Four great men killed. I knew them all well.’

Greatest detestation for the Free State Army)

He continued in the IRA in the Civil War, fighting against the Treaty. ‘When it came out that you were prepared to hand over a big part of your territory to the British, there was a revulsion against it. People expected a lot—when they found out they got nothing but partition, they got very annoyed.’ While he spoke in a detached sense about British forces during the War of Independence, Keating seemed to reserve his greatest detestation for the Free State Army. He said that some in its ranks in Kerry were demobilised British soldiers who were battle-hardened from the Great War. ‘In the later stages of the war in France, there was a hint, not an order—“no prisoners, dead men”. They murdered all around them, in France. They joined the Free State Army and you could say they were a murder gang.’ Kerry was the scene of brutal fighting in the Civil War. IRA forces captured barracks, and Keating was sent to Limerick to assist in fighting before making his way to Tipperary, where he was to get a flying column from Kerry fighting there to return to help out in Limerick. They were duped into capture by a local, leading to Mountjoy and then the Curragh, where he met others like Tom Barry. ‘I knew him well. In later years I was very friendly with him. No doubt, he was the greatest. But you must say, he had a certain amount of luck on his side.’
Although he fought against the Treaty, he admired Michael Collins and had contempt for Éamon de Valera. ‘Collins did marvellous work in the war against the Tans—but when he went Free Stater then, actually he declared it one time that he was signing his own death warrant. He knew it was wrong, which made it worse. As it went along then he got very bitter.’
‘De Valera? I never liked him. You’d have to ask the question: did de Valera like anyone? I have described him before, as a thorough scoundrel … He was a very devious character. He’d make a statement and it’d have about four different meanings … I always thought there was something queer about him.’
Keating said that republican contacts helped him to get work as a barman in Dublin, before he made his way back to Kerry when a bar he worked in, Brady’s near the GPO, was sold. ‘I went back to Kerry then and I worked in a bread van for a number of years, but I got various jobs through the years all along. I was arrested a number of times; the finish was refusing to answer questions and I was jailed. I lost my job again—came out and was going all right again. There was a lot of turmoil, unemployment was rotten, but I was always able to get something to do. I like work—I always believe you couldn’t exist without work.’
He remained active in the IRA, and was involved in a planned ambush to shoot Blueshirt leader Eoin O’Duffy in Kerry. John Joe Sheehy had ordered the operation, to shoot O’Duffy en route to Tralee in a car from Limerick in 1933. ‘We decided anyway to take him out of it, the IRA in Kerry. Six of us assembled in Ballyseedy. The train is over the road at Ballycarthy. I was up in the railway station and Christy Leen was in the roadside to give me the number of the car when it’d come. The reception party was Johnny O’Connor, John Duggan, my brother Tadhg and Josie Hassett—they were well armed, they had a Thompson machine-gun and two rifles, he wouldn’t escape.’
The registration plate of the car was to be phoned to an office in Tralee by Stephen Coughlan, later to become mayor of Limerick, who was working in the city. ‘We had very strict instructions about the number of the car not to make any mistake. The man that was to give us the word, Stephen Coughlan, his conscience got the best of him and he decided to give the wrong number. And Duffy escaped into town.’ Even though he did not follow him to Tralee, Keating was nevertheless jailed for six months for involvement in a riot that erupted subsequently in the town between Republicans and Blueshirts after O’Duffy’s arrival.
Keating went to England afterwards to work in the bar trade again, returning to Ireland before heading for England once more in 1939 to take part in the disastrous IRA S-Plan bombing campaign. He worked in a bar in The Strand in central London, owned by the Irish publican Mooney, but, unknown to his colleagues, he led an IRA cell in the city. ‘I had a number of men there—three or four active men. We kept ourselves small. And we laid bombs whenever we got the chance. You would have to say we were very successful for a long time. You would select places and one of the places we selected was the Grosvenor Hotel in Park Lane. The bomb was laid at the back of a flowerpot. The only thing was to try and cause as much confusion as we could. But as time went by, what we were doing was nothing. The war was on.’ Keating said that his targets ranged from electricity facilities to bombs left in shops near closing time, timed to go off during the night.
He said that he had no concerns about attacks on civilian targets, but that no one was killed in his operations and none of his unit was captured. His IRA active service career ended when he narrowly evaded capture by Scotland Yard detectives and returned to Ireland. He was interned shortly after his return, before release in 1944. A legacy from a rich aunt in America helped him and his wife, Mary Fleming from Waterford, to set up home in Dublin, where he worked in the bar trade until her death in 1977. Keating said that he offered a safe house to Republicans and, despite having senior policemen as friends and neighbours, stored guns too.
He returned to his native Kerry a year later, but continued working as a barman well into his eighties when friends opened a pub in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick. Keating remained active in the background, siding with the Provisionals in 1970, and followed Ruairí Ó Brádaigh into Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) in 1986 after the split over ending abstention in the Dáil. He was a patron of RSF when he died. In robust health and walking several miles a day unaided until he suffered a stroke in August 2007, Dan Keating passed away on 2 October 2007 in hospital in Tralee. His funeral oration was given by Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.
At the time of his death he was Ireland’s oldest man and the last surviving veteran of the Irish War of Independence.

In proud and loving memory of Dónal Céitinn (1902 – 2007)

Dan Keating joined na Fianna Éireann in 1918. In 1920, during the Irish War of Independence, he joined the 3rd Battalion, 1st Kerry Brigade, of the Irish Republican Army. He was an active volunteer brve and daring. On the 21st of April 1921, an RIC Constable Denis O’Loughlin was shot dead in Knightly’s public house in Tralee. Keating, Jimmy O’Connor and Percy Hanafin were suspected of the killing, and were forced to go on the run. On the 1st of June, Keating was involved in an ambush between Castlemaine and Milltown which saw five members of the crown forces disposed off. Dan’s unit was involved in a gun battle with the British Army near Castleisland which resulted in the deaths of four British soldiers and five IRA volunteers.
Dan Keating opposed the sellout 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty and remained principled and faithful to Republicanism, going on to fight on the anti-treaty side in the Irish Civil War. He was involved in operations in Kerry, Limerick, and Tipperary, before his column was arrested by Free State Forces. Keating spent seven months in Portlaoise Prison and the Curragh concentration camp before being released in March 1923. He remained committed to the Republican cause and a dedicated IRA volunteer for a long time after the Civil War. He was arrested several times during the 1930s on various charges. He was active in London during the 1939/1940 IRA bombing campaign.
In 1933, he was involved in an attempt to assassinate the leader of the Irish Blueshirts, Eoin O’Duffy, during a visit to County Kerry. The attack was to happen at Ballyseedy, where Free State forces had carried out the Ballyseedy Massacre during the Irish Civil War. However, the plot failed when the person travelling with O’Duffy refused to divulge what car the latter would be travelling in.
Dan returned to Dublin and worked as a barman in several public houses. He later returned to his native Kerry in 1978, living out the rest of his life with relatives in Knockbrack. Until his death he refused to accept a state pension because he considered the 26-county Republic of Ireland an illegitimate state which usurped the 1916 Irish Republic.

“All the talk you hear these days is of peace. But there will never be peace until the people of the 32 counties elect one parliament without British interference.”

In 2002, he refused the state’s standard €2,500 award to centenarians from President Mary McAleese, Keating became patron of Republican Sinn Féin until his own death. He was buried in Kiltallagh Cemetery, Castlemaine.

1916 changed everything
Yet after land reform, relations with the British garrison stationed in Tralee improved. Before 1916, he said, British soldiers mixed freely with locals, with some even joining in pub singsongs. But all was to change after the Easter Rising. ‘I was only 14 when 1916 happened. When the executions got going there was a revulsion of feeling in the county,’ said Keating. He remembered particularly the execution of James Connolly, and the backing it got from William Martin Murphy through the pages of the Irish Independent. Fraternising with locals was at an end for the British regiments, and local women who formed liaisons with soldiers were attacked. ‘Their hair was cut and they were warned off.’

‘Tralee became very militant IRA-wise. When there was some British soldiers shot one November night they decided to have this curfew. You had some very bitter policemen in Tralee also.’ Keating had begun working in Gerry McSeeley’s bar and bakery in Castle Street in Tralee, as an apprentice barman. ‘The first year you got no money, but you were well fed, before rising to a pound a week in the third year.’ His involvement in republicanism came not from lengthy historical or political study but from being swept away in the fervour of the time. He said there was no relevant history taught in schools, and that he and others were simply reacting to events and following each other into the ranks of the IRA. ‘It was the thing to do at the time—there was a wave and you got caught up in that.’ He was too young to join the IRA and joined the youth wing, Fianna Éireann, instead, providing information, from the vantage point of the bar or from elsewhere.
Graduating to the ranks of the IRA, Keating took part in several ambushes and continued intelligence-gathering. Tralee and the surrounding area was by then the scene of serious fighting between the IRA and the Crown forces, including Irishmen in the RIC, several of whom were shot by the local IRA. Under suspicion for one such killing, Keating went on the run but said that he and others in the IRA melted into the local population, who gave them full support. ‘They were great, the local people at the time, they were the soul of Ireland. Without the local people, the Flying Columns couldn’t exist. They’d [the police] get no response from the people. The people were opposed to them at the time, and it continued that way right up to the Truce.’
Rather than boasting about his involvement, Keating said that it was no more than what his contemporaries did. He did not know if he had killed but said that the prospect did not trouble him. Recorded by the BBC in March 2007, he said: ‘When you are involved in an ambush with a crowd of men you wouldn’t know who killed who or what about it. It never troubled me. You were fighting for a just cause and once you have that in the forefront it never troubled you. It never troubled me—it was a job to be done and at the time it was a just cause. And the more that was killed the better you liked it. Everyone was delighted about Kilmichael and other big ones in Cork.’
The largest operation he was involved in was an ambush in Castlemaine. Keating knew of a regular bicycle convoy of Crown forces through the village, and he sought assistance from outside for a major attack. ‘At the outset in Castlemaine there were only two riflemen and about twenty shotgun men, completely inadequate. In the course of the day, some came from Beaufort and one from Farranfore, and there were twelve men who came and they were based in a hut in Keel. Fourteen policemen left Killorglin to go to Tralee to draw the month’s wages. They were in different file, about 30 or 40 yards before every man going. They went and collected their wages anyway and they had a few drinks on the way home, they went into the pubs in Castlemaine—it must be said the publicans were great, no hint in the world [of the ambush plan]. When they went across the bridge at Brackhill Cross they were intercepted, there were eight of them killed, and there was one [unscathed] survivor anyway. He was left to look after the injured.’
He spoke ruefully of a final attack launched in the last hours before the Truce. Hatred of the Black and Tans, RIC and Auxiliaries was such that one final assault was launched, but one in which four IRA men were killed along with a number of Black and Tans. ‘It was a complete fiasco. Four great men killed. I knew them all well.’

Greatest detestation for the Free State Army

Members of the Continuity IRA firing a volley of shots over the grave of Dan Keating on what would have been his 106th birthday, 2 January 2008. (Wikipedia)
Members of the Continuity IRA firing a volley of shots over the grave of Dan Keating on what would have been his 106th birthday, 2 January 2008. (Wikipedia)

He continued in the IRA in the Civil War, fighting against the Treaty. ‘When it came out that you were prepared to hand over a big part of your territory to the British, there was a revulsion against it. People expected a lot—when they found out they got nothing but partition, they got very annoyed.’ While he spoke in a detached sense about British forces during the War of Independence, Keating seemed to reserve his greatest detestation for the Free State Army. He said that some in its ranks in Kerry were demobilised British soldiers who were battle-hardened from the Great War. ‘In the later stages of the war in France, there was a hint, not an order—“no prisoners, dead men”. They murdered all around them, in France. They joined the Free State Army and you could say they were a murder gang.’ Kerry was the scene of brutal fighting in the Civil War. IRA forces captured barracks, and Keating was sent to Limerick to assist in fighting before making his way to Tipperary, where he was to get a flying column from Kerry fighting there to return to help out in Limerick. They were duped into capture by a local, leading to Mountjoy and then the Curragh, where he met others like Tom Barry. ‘I knew him well. In later years I was very friendly with him. No doubt, he was the greatest. But you must say, he had a certain amount of luck on his side.’
Although he fought against the Treaty, he admired Michael Collins and had contempt for Éamon de Valera. ‘Collins did marvellous work in the war against the Tans—but when he went Free Stater then, actually he declared it one time that he was signing his own death warrant. He knew it was wrong, which made it worse. As it went along then he got very bitter.’
‘De Valera? I never liked him. You’d have to ask the question: did de Valera like anyone? I have described him before, as a thorough scoundrel … He was a very devious character. He’d make a statement and it’d have about four different meanings … I always thought there was something queer about him.’
Keating said that republican contacts helped him to get work as a barman in Dublin, before he made his way back to Kerry when a bar he worked in, Brady’s near the GPO, was sold. ‘I went back to Kerry then and I worked in a bread van for a number of years, but I got various jobs through the years all along. I was arrested a number of times; the finish was refusing to answer questions and I was jailed. I lost my job again—came out and was going all right again. There was a lot of turmoil, unemployment was rotten, but I was always able to get something to do. I like work—I always believe you couldn’t exist without work.’
He remained active in the IRA, and was involved in a planned ambush to shoot Blueshirt leader Eoin O’Duffy in Kerry. John Joe Sheehy had ordered the operation, to shoot O’Duffy en route to Tralee in a car from Limerick in 1933. ‘We decided anyway to take him out of it, the IRA in Kerry. Six of us assembled in Ballyseedy. The train is over the road at Ballycarthy. I was up in the railway station and Christy Leen was in the roadside to give me the number of the car when it’d come. The reception party was Johnny O’Connor, John Duggan, my brother Tadhg and Josie Hassett—they were well armed, they had a Thompson machine-gun and two rifles, he wouldn’t escape.’
The registration plate of the car was to be phoned to an office in Tralee by Stephen Coughlan, later to become mayor of Limerick, who was working in the city. ‘We had very strict instructions about the number of the car not to make any mistake. The man that was to give us the word, Stephen Coughlan, his conscience got the best of him and he decided to give the wrong number. And Duffy escaped into town.’ Even though he did not follow him to Tralee, Keating was nevertheless jailed for six months for involvement in a riot that erupted subsequently in the town between Republicans and Blueshirts after O’Duffy’s arrival.
Keating went to England afterwards to work in the bar trade again, returning to Ireland before heading for England once more in 1939 to take part in the disastrous IRA S-Plan bombing campaign. He worked in a bar in The Strand in central London, owned by the Irish publican Mooney, but, unknown to his colleagues, he led an IRA cell in the city. ‘I had a number of men there—three or four active men. We kept ourselves small. And we laid bombs whenever we got the chance. You would have to say we were very successful for a long time. You would select places and one of the places we selected was the Grosvenor Hotel in Park Lane. The bomb was laid at the back of a flowerpot. The only thing was to try and cause as much confusion as we could. But as time went by, what we were doing was nothing. The war was on.’ Keating said that his targets ranged from electricity facilities to bombs left in shops near closing time, timed to go off during the night.
He said that he had no concerns about attacks on civilian targets, but that no one was killed in his operations and none of his unit was captured. His IRA active service career ended when he narrowly evaded capture by Scotland Yard detectives and returned to Ireland. He was interned shortly after his return, before release in 1944. A legacy from a rich aunt in America helped him and his wife, Mary Fleming from Waterford, to set up home in Dublin, where he worked in the bar trade until her death in 1977. Keating said that he offered a safe house to Republicans and, despite having senior policemen as friends and neighbours, stored guns too.
He returned to his native Kerry a year later, but continued working as a barman well into his eighties when friends opened a pub in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick. Keating remained active in the background, siding with the Provisionals in 1970, and followed Ruairí Ó Brádaigh into Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) in 1986 after the split over ending abstention in the Dáil. He was a patron of RSF when he died. In robust health and walking several miles a day unaided until he suffered a stroke in August 2007, Dan Keating passed away on 2 October 2007 in hospital in Tralee. His funeral oration was given by Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.
At the time of his death he was Ireland’s oldest man and the last surviving veteran of the Irish War of Independence.

With many thanks to: McKelvey Steele Cummann Republican Sinn Féin for the original posting.

In proud and loving memory of Dónal Céitinn (1902 – 2007)

October 3rd 1981, Hunger Strike Ends In Long Kesh

The hunger strike had started on March 1st 1981 after years of a blanket protest and the failure of the British Government to implement the agreement which ended the hunger strike of 1980.

Republican prisoners had five demands:

1.The right not to wear a prison uniform.
2.The right not to do prison work.
3.The right of free association with other prisoners, and to organise educational and recreational pursuits.
4.The right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week.
5.Full restoration of remission lost through the protest.

By the end of July, families of some of the hunger strikers began to intervene and take their loved ones off the hunger strike, by September it was clear the families would intervene in all of the remaining hunger strikers as no deal looked possible and ten hunger strikers had already died.

At 3:15 pm, on October 3rd 1981 the Hunger Strike was called off, over the coming months the British Government granted all the demands except the right not to do prison work.

After the great escape of 1983 the prison workshops were closed so this now meant all the five demands had been granted without the British publicly acknowledging they had given political status.

Ten Irish Republicans died in Long Kesh in 1981, fighting for political status, they were:

Bobby Sands MP
Francis Hughes
Ray McCreesh
Patsy O’Hara
Joe McDonnell
Martin Hurson
Kevin Lynch
Kieran Doherty TD
Thomas McElwee
Michael Devine

With many thanks to: Irish Revolutionaries for the original posting.

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Robert Emmet, United Irishman and the leader of the rebellion on 1803, was tried for high treason in Green Street courthouse, 215 years ago this week

Robert Emmet speach from the dock

He was found guilty, and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. The execution was carried the next day in Thomas Street.

Emmet was found guilty after what was essentially a show trial. The clerk of the crown read the indictment, and stated the verdict, before asking: “What have you, therefore, now to say why judgment of death and execution shall not be awarded against you according to law?”

This was his response, with the interruptions of the judge, Norbury, also recorded.

What have I to say why sentence of death should not be pronounced on me, according to law? I have nothing to say which can alter your predetermination, not that it would become me to say with any view to the mitigation of that Sentence which you are here to pronounce, and by which I must abide. But I have that to say which interests me more than life, and which you have laboured, as was necessarily your office in the present circumstances of this oppressed country to destroy. I have much to say why my reputation should be rescued from the load of false accusation and calumny which has been heaped upon it. I do not imagine that, seated where you are, your minds can be so free from impurity as to receive the least impression from what I am about to utter. I have no hope that I can anchor my character in the breast of a court constituted and trammelled as this is. I only wish, and it is the utmost I expect. that your lordships may suffer it to float down your memories untainted by the foul breath of prejudice, until it finds some more hospitable harbour to shelter it from the rude storm by which it is at present buffeted.

Were I only to suffer death, after being adjudged guilty by your tribunal, I should bow in silence, meet the fate that awaits me without a murmur; but the sentence of the law which delivers my body to the executioner, will, through the ministry of the law, labour in its own vindication to consign my character to obloquy, for there must be guilt somewhere — whether in the sentence of the court, or in the catastrophes posterity must determine. A man in my situation, my lords, has not only to encounter the difficulties of fortune, and the force of power over minds which it has corrupted or subjugated, but the difficulties of established prejudice. The man dies, but his memory lives. That mine may not perish, that it may live in the respect of my countrymen, I seize upon this opportunity to vindicate myself from some of the charges alleged against me. When my spirit shall be wafted to a more friendly port — when my shade shall have joined the bands of those martyred heroes, who have shed their blood on the scaffold and in the field in defence of their country and of virtue, this is my hope — I wish that my memory and name may animate those who survive me, while I look down with complacency on the destruction of that perfidious government which upholds its domination by blasphemy of the Most High — which displays its power over man is over the beasts of the forest — which set man upon his brother, and lifts his hand, in the name of God, against the throat of his fellow who believes or doubts a little more or a little less than the government standard — a government which is steeled to barbarity by the cries of the orphans and the tears of the widows which it has made.

[Norbury — “The weak and wicked enthusiasts who feel as you feel are unequal to the accomplishment of their wild designs”.]

I appeal to the immaculate God — I swear by the Throne of Heaven, before which I must shortly appear — by the blood of the murdered patriots who have gone before me — that my conduct has been, through all this peril, and through all my purposes, governed only by the convictions which I have uttered, and by no other view than that of the emancipation of my country from the superinhuman oppression under which she has so long and too patiently travailed; and I confidently and assuredly hope that, wild and chimerical as it may appear, there is still union and strength in Ireland to accomplish this noblest enterprise. Of this I speak with the confidence of intimate knowledge, and with the consolation that appertains to that confidence, think not, my lords, that I say this for the petty gratification of giving you a transitory uneasiness. A man who never yet raised his voice to assert a lie will not hazard his character with posterity by asserting a falsehood on a subject so important to his country, and on an occasion like this. Yes, my lords, a man who does not wish to have his epitaph written until his country is liberated will not leave a weapon in the power of envy, nor a pretence to impeach the probity which he means to preserve, even in the grave to which tyranny consigns him.

[Norbury — “You proceed to unwarrantable lengths, in order to exasperate or delude the unwary, and circulate opinions of the most dangerous tendency, for purposes of mischief”.]

Again I say that what I have spoken was not intended for your lordship, whose situation I commiserate rather than envy — my expressions were for my countrymen. If there is a true Irishman present, let my last words cheer him in the hour of his affliction —

[Norbury — “What you have hitherto said confirms and justifies the verdict of the jury”.]

I have always understood it to be the duty of a judge, when a prisoner has been convicted, to pronounce the sentence of the law. I have also understood that judges sometimes think it their duty to hear with patience, and to speak with humanity; to exhort the victim of the laws, and to offer, with tender benignity, their opinions of the motives by which he was actuated in the crime of which he was adjudged guilty. That a judge has thought it his duty so to have done, I have no doubt; but where is that boasted freedom of your institutions — where is the vaunted impartiality, clemency, and mildness of your courts of justice, if an unfortunate prisoner, whom your policy, and not your justice, is about to deliver into the hands of the executioner, is not suffered to explain his motives sincerely and truly, and to vindicate the principles by which he was actuated?

My lords, it may be a part of the system of angry justice to bow a man’s mind by humiliation to the purposed ignominy of the scaffold; but worse to me than the purposed shame or the scaffold’s terrors would be the shame of such foul and unfounded imputations as have been laid against me in this court. You, my lord, are a judge; I am the supposed culprit. I am a man; you are a man also. By a revolution of power we might change places, though we could never change characters. If I stand at the bar of this court and dare not vindicate my character, what a farce is your justice? If I stand at this bar and dare not vindicate my character, how dare you calumniate it? Does the sentence of death, which your unhallowed policy inflicts upon my body, also condemn my tongue to silence and my reputation to reproach? Your executioner may abridge the period of my existence, but, while I exist, I shall not forbear to vindicate my character and motives from your aspersions; as a man to whom fame is dearer than life, I will make the last use of that life in doing justice to that reputation which is to live after me, and which is the only legacy I can leave to those I honour and love, and for whom I am proud to perish.

As men, my lord, we must appear on the great day at one common tribunal, and it will then remain for the Searcher of all hearts to show a collective universe who was engaged in the most virtuous actions or actuated by the purest motives — my country’s oppressor, or —

[Norbury — “Stop, sir! Listen to the sentence of the law”.]

My lord, shall a dying man be denied the legal privilege of exculpating himself in the eyes of the community from an undeserved reproach thrown upon him during his trial, by charging him with ambition, and attempting to cast away for a paltry consideration the liberties of his country? Why did your lordship insult me? Or rather, why insult justice in demanding of me why sentence of death should not be pronounced? I know, my lord, that form prescribes that you should ask the question. The form also presumes the right of answering. This, no doubt, may be dispensed with, and so might the whole ceremony of the trial, since sentence was already pronounced at the Castle before your jury were empanelled. Your lordships are but the priests of the oracle. I submit to the sacrifice; but I insist on the whole of the forms.

I am charged with being an emissary of France. An emissary of France! And for what end? It is alleged that I wish to sell the independence of my country; and for what end? Was this the object of my ambition? And is this the mode by which a tribunal of justice reconciles contradictions? No; I am no emissary.

My ambition was to hold a place among the deliverers of my country — not in power, not in profit, but in the glory of the achievement. Sell my country’s independence to France! And for what? A change of masters? No; but for my ambition. Oh, my country! Was it personal ambition that influenced me? Had it been the soul of my actions, could I not, by my education and fortune, by the rank and consideration of my family, have placed myself amongst the proudest of your oppressors? My country was my idol. To it I sacrificed every selfish, every endearing sentiment; and for it I now offer myself, O God! No, my lords; I acted as an Irishman, determined on delivering my country from the yoke of a foreign and unrelenting tyranny, and from the more galling yoke of a domestic faction, its joint partner and perpetrator in the patricide, whose reward is the ignominy of existing with an exterior of splendour and a consciousness of depravity. It was the wish of my heart to extricate my country from this doubly-riveted despotism — I wish to place her independence beyond the reach of any power on earth. I wish to exalt her to that proud station in the world which Providence had destined her to fill. Connection with France was, indeed, intended, but only so far as mutual interest would sanction or require.

Were the French to assume any authority inconsistent with the purest independence, it would be the signal for their destruction. We sought their aid — and we sought it as we had assurances we should obtain it — as auxiliaries in war, and allies in peace. Were the French to come as invaders or enemies, uninvited by the wishes of the people, I should oppose them to the utmost of my strength. Yes! My countrymen, I should advise you to meet them on the beach with a sword in one hand and a torch in the other. I would meet them with all the destructive fury of war, and I would animate my countrymen to immolate them in their boats before they had contaminated the soil of my country. If they succeeded in landing, and if forced to retire before superior discipline, I would dispute every inch of ground, raze every house, burn every blade of grass; the last spot on which the hope of freedom should desert me, there would I hold, and the last of liberty should be my grave.

What I could not do myself in my fall, I should leave as a last charge to my countrymen to accomplish; because I should feel conscious that life, any more than death, is dishonourable when a foreign nation holds my country in subjection. But it was not as an enemy that the succours of France were to land. I looked, indeed, for the assistance of France; I wished to prove to France and to the world that Irishmen deserved to be assisted — that they were indignant at slavery, and ready to assert the independence and liberty of their country; I wished to procure for my country the guarantee which Washington procured for America — to procure an aid which, by its example, would be as important as its valour; disciplined, gallant, pregnant with science and experience; that of allies who would perceive the good, and polish the rough points of our character. They would come to us as strangers, and leave us as friends, after sharing in our perils, and elevating our destiny. These were my objects; not to receive new taskmasters, but to expel old tyrants. And it was for these ends I sought aid from France; because France, even as an enemy, could not be more implacable than the enemy already in the bosom of my country.

[Norbury — “You are making an avowal of dreadful treasons, and of a determined purpose to have persevered in them, which I do believe, has astonished your audience”.]

I have been charged with that importance in the efforts to emancipate my country, as to be considered the keystone of the combination of Irishmen, or, as your lordship expressed it, “the life and blood of the conspiracy”. You do me honour overmuch; you have given to a subaltern all the credit of a superior. There are men engaged in this conspiracy who are not only superior to me; but even to your own conception of yourself, my lord; men before the splendour of whose genius and virtues I should bow with respectful deference, and who would think themselves disgraced by shaking your bloodstained hand —

[Norbury — “You have endeavoured to establish a wicked and bloody provisional government”.]

What, my lord! shall you tell me, on the passage to the scaffold, which that tyranny, of which you are only the intermediary executioner, has erected for my murder, that I am accountable for all the blood that has been and will be shed in this struggle of the oppressed against the oppressor? Shall you tell me this, and must I be so very as slave as not to repel it?

[Norbury — “A different conduct would have better become one who had endeavoured to overthrow the laws and liberties of his country”.]

I who fear not to approach the Omnipotent Judge to answer for the conduct of my whole life, am I to be appalled and falsified by a mere remnant of mortality here? By you, too, who if it were possible to collect all the innocent blood that you have shed in your unhallowed ministry in one great reservoir, your lordship might swim in it.

[Norbury — “I exhort you not to depart this life with such sentiments of rooted hostility to your country as those which you have expressed’.]

Let no man dare, when I am dead, to charge me with dishonour; let no man attaint my memory by believing that I could have engaged in any cause but that of my country’s liberty and independence; or that I could have become the pliant minion of power in the oppression and misery of my countrymen. The proclamation of the Provisional Government speaks for my views; no inference can be tortured from it to countenance barbarity or debasement at home, or subjection, humiliation, or treachery from abroad. I would not have submitted to a foreign oppressor, for the same reason that I would resist the domestic tyrant. In the dignity of freedom, I would have fought upon the threshold of my country, and its enemy should only enter by passing over my lifeless corpse. And am I, who lived but for my country, who have subjected myself to the dangers of the jealous and watchful oppressor, and now to the bondage of the grave, only to give my countrymen their rights, and my country her independence — am I to be loaded with calumny and not suffered to resent it? No, God forbid!

[Here Norbury told Emmet that his sentiments and language disgraced his family and his education, but more particularly his father, Dr. Emmet, who was a man, if alive, that would not countenance such opinions. To which Emmet replied: ]

If the spirits of the illustrious dead participate in the concerns and cares of those who were dear to them in this transitory life, O! ever dear and venerated shade of my departed father, look down with scrutiny upon the conduct of your suffering son, and see if I have, even for a moment, deviated from those principles of morality and patriotism which it was your care to instil into my youthful mind, and for which I am now about to offer up my life. My lords, you seem impatient for the sacrifice. The blood for which you thirst is not congealed by the artificial terrors which surround your victim [the soldiery filled and surrounded the Sessions House] — it circulates warmly and unruffled through the channels which God created for noble purposes, but which you are now bent to destroy, for purposes so grievous that they cry to heaven. Be yet patient! I have but a few words more to say. I am going to my cold and silent grave; my lamp of life is nearly extinguished; my race is run; the grave opens to receive me, and I sink into its bosom.

I have but one request to ask at my departure from this world; it is – the charity of its silence. Let no man write my epitaph; for as no man who knows my motives dare now vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them and me rest in obscurity and peace, and my name remain uninscribed, until other times and other men can do justice to my character. When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written. I have done.

With many thanks to the: Irish Republican News for the original posting.