Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol. 15, Apr-Dec 1964
1 April 1964 – 31 December 1964
Themes: Campaigning in Britain against the Northern Ireland Unionist regime – Conflict with the Dublin communists over fund-raising socials being held in England – Meeting with Republican leader Sean Cronin – Legacy from his aunt – Research for his biography of Liam Mellows – Tracing Mellows’s movements in Galway during and after the Easter Rising – Interviews with James Connolly’s three daughters and with Mrs Tom Clarke, Stephen Jordan, Padraic Colum, Frank Robbins, Rory Brugha, Sheila Humphries, Moss Twomey, Hugh McAteer, Peadar O’Donnell, Maire Comerford, Denis McCullough, Mrs Frank Fahy, Dr Brian Cusack and Tony Woods – Austin Currie – Visiting Belfast to report on the 12 July Orange parades – Picketing the Ulster Office in London – Slough MP Fenner Brockway and the October 1964 General Election – Brian Farrington – Meetings with the Nationalist MPs in Stormont, with Sinn Fein Republicans in Belfast, with Dr Con and Mrs Patricia McCluskey of the Campaign for Social Justice in Dungannon and with IRA leader Cathal Goulding in Dublin – Attending a meeting of the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society – Tracing Liam Mellows’s movements in the Sligo-Roscommon-Galway area in 1922 and Mellows’s family connections in Britain
April 1 Wednesday (London): We had a visit from Bunting, proprietor of the “W.I.R” organisation [Workers International, a Trotskyite group] who are our landlord at present. The building was held by the Express Dairy which had a milk bar below that failed a few years ago. When the line of shops in front of King’s Cross Station was demolished to make way for workings on the new “Victoria” Tube line, a leather shopkeeper (who had been prosecuted for selling dirty postcards) bought the lease from the Express. The sub-lease was then held by Bunting, who had it off Meltzer the bookseller, who after building up his capital with booksales on Saturday mornings moved to a shop on the opposite side of Grays Inn Road. We have the front room on the first floor, the MCF[Movement for Colonial Freedom] and their tenants the two upper floors, including our old office on the top floor in the front, and the Trotskies get the first floor (back) presently free of rent.
Today Bunting said, “I’ve news for you” and stammered out the information that the leather man was buying his sub-lease, that he himself was “fed up” as he “got no cooperation” and that we become tenants of the leather man on June 24th. He anticipated he would try to raise the rent, as his shop is not paying and he wants the rent of the offices to offset his losses. Bunting urged us to stand firm as he would never get business people to take this tumbledown edifice. Sean and I were wondering how far this decision of Bunting’s follows from the curious events of the weekend.
Sean [Sean Redmond, Connolly Association full-time general secretary] saw Woddis [CPGB colonial expert]who told him that Eber [John Eber, full-time MCF organiser] official had gone to Africa to get money for the MCF. The reason he got none was that everywhere he went he tried to peddle the “Chinese” policy [Russian-Chinese differences divided the international communist movement at the time]. This issue lies at the root of the differences between Eber and Ian Page [Eber’s colleague as an MCF official]. Woddis says Page is pulling out [Jack Woddis, CPGB colonial expert]. It occurred to me he might work for us. But I decided against inviting him, as in a conversation we had it was clear to me that he was too ingenuous.
Toni Curran [Antoinette Curran, Connolly Association treasurer, married to Gerard Curran] came in the evening. She expects her baby in two weeks’ time and is giving a good part of the financial work to Peter Mulligan.
April 2 Thursday (London): We discussed premises at the Standing Committee in the evening. Gerry Curran suggested moving to Paddington where Toni Curran’s employer is giving up a shop.
April 3 Friday (London): There has been no sign of the Lawless gang [Leftist friends of Irishman Gery Lawless] in the WIR room all week. So we wonder if there has been a bigger rumpus than we thought on the other side of the landing. Toni Curran rang and said her employer has another shop he is also giving up, this time in the Belsize Park area. Both are badly placed, however, and we must look around King’s Cross first.
April 4 Saturday (London): Seán saw Scaife, his Trotskyite brother-in-law, who said that the leather goods merchant below had been bullying Bunting two years before his lease was up to repair dilapidations going back to 1876 or some such time. Bunting had accepting Meltzer’s lease uncritically, neglected to take proper legal advice, failed to have a waiver clause inserted in his agreement, and now had done no more than throw up the sponge, retreating he hoped without the leather man’s solicitors pursuing him. The Trotskies were cock-a-hoop. They are all doing well, said he, and all would be well with them as long as resignations from the CP kept them supplied with new blood. So as soon as the flow ceased they would be quarrelling among themselves. In other words he admitted to possessing no serious purpose. He told Sean Redmond that the article in MacCreavy’’s “Vanguard” which contained a personal attack on myself was originally several times as lengthy (and it was long enough in all conscience!) but was cut by the Editor. Would we reply? No – aquila non capit muscas, or words to that effect [The eagle does not hunt flies].
I was in Kilburn with Sean Redmond and Chris Sullivan [Selling the “Irish Democrat” monthly in the Irish pubs and outside the Irish dance halls]. Most striking is the steady degeneration of the people over the years, not so noticeable in places we frequent most. If I were the Parish Priest at Quex Road, instead of denouncing the Connolly Association as “Communist” I would get out among my flock and try to preserve such elements of dignity and civilisation as remain among them. I received the impression of a population totally aimless and disillusioned among whom, as an American recently put it, “everyone who wanted a drink was having one.” And the worst aspect was that the older men were less demoralised than those in their later twenties.
April 5 Sunday (London): I worked on the paper most of the day. Peter Mulligan came in to take the platform to Hyde Park [for the regular Sunday Connolly Association open-air meeting there] and Sean Redmond and Chris Sullivan came about 7 pm. Peter and I went to Camden Town – a cheerier district for us than Kilburn, with its sour looks mingled with cynical laughs. But a severe power failure blacked out everything. Burglar alarms tinkled. Youths and girls ran giggling and squealing at the novelty of darkness in their precious streets; and so we decided to go to Archway where there were lights. The result of this unusual happening was that our evening was not very profitable. I saw one of the Connolly boys of Longford (Raymond, I think it is) call in to the Trotsky office [upstairs in the same building at 374 Grays Inn Road, London WC1].
April 6 Monday (London): I saw Bobbie Rossiter among others this evening and he told me that he had gone to Helvick [near Dungarvan, Co Waterford] as I requested him and visited Sylvie Murray’s public house. It was on the second visit he met the daughter of the woman who had it in 1916. She was only a little girl but recalls being told or knowing in some way that Liam Mellows came there as one of the crew of a tramp steamer, not a fishing boat. She thought he stayed several nights but could not explain why he should separate himself from the rest of the crew. So my guess would be that he stayed several nights for the arms unloading a few years later and then revealed his earlier identity.
April 7 Tuesday (London): Things went as usual, though Sean Redmond has been pitched in gloom for a few days. Unfortunately, difficulties do not stimulate him to action and I think therefore he will never accomplish anything of importance, but live his life glued to a chair, a useful worker but not dynamite – especially when he will be middle-aged. It is always necessary to insist that something is done. Toni Curran called in, very big now and near her time. I got most of the paper away by nightfall [to the printers in Ripley, Derbyshire]. A letter came from Packie Early to the effect that he has arranged for us to go to Galway on Saturday week.
April 8 Wednesday (London): Ian Page was upstairs. Sean Redmond mentioned to him the latest developments regarding the premises, namely that Mrs Eber had spoken to the leather merchant’s assistant who said he was not taking the premises over, and she then told Sean that the MCF had a two-year lease still on the middle floor and one of three months only on the upper floors. Page was angry and surprised that she had told him nothing of the prospective loss of his office and told Sean of pin-pricking letters written by Eber in his “Cold War” with the London office. I recall now, however, that Malin came in one day and told me of a Trotsky plot to get us out of our office. Perhaps Bunting was lying and the Trotskies are staying – but that is not Scaife’s account.
April 9 Thursday (London): In the morning Joe O’Connor rang up saying he was organising a meeting on Friday 22nd May and 23rd at which the “lads” from Dublin will be present. The second is a social. Another social had been arranged by Andy O’Neill for the 9th May – presumably in the belief that the “lads” would be over then. Among the lot of them they seem to be achieving plenty of confusion, and my guess is that the dissidents will work busily within O’Connor’s sequestered territory[“The lads” were former members of the Irish Workers League in Dublin who in the late 1950s had attempted to get the Connolly Association to adopt a “leftist” policy of advocating socialism rather than national unity and independence for Ireland and who interacted with various trotskyist groups in London].
April 10 Friday (London): I received a letter from John Williamson and called in to see him. He told me that McCreavy elements had been moving in on the Marx Memorial Library, possibly with a view to a take-over. I asked about his treasurer, Ian Jenkins, who turned out to be the same head policeman’s son from Southgate who conducted Trotsky activities in the CA and exposed himself finally at the conference of 1959. Williamson considered that this (which he was unaware of) explained the mysterious dissemination of Chinese material to members of Marx House.
Seán told me about the two characters who were sleeping in 374 Grays Inn Road the night it was burgled. Apparently the boy is a student at the New University of Brighton and wrote that he would like to stay with Trotsky friends in London for one night, on his way home to Bristol. Scaife put him up on the Friday – surprised when he brought the girl with him. He was still there on Tuesday when Sean’s sister locked him out – and it was the following Tuesday when he left. His story to me that he had told the Trotskies he would arrive on the Thursday before Easter was thus a lie – he had been with them several days already. From rogues and innocents combined they seem to staff their movement.
Everybody is very pleased with the London Election results. The Labour majority was announced this afternoon. We met the “physical force” man in Holloway, who mentioned the new Association (Clann na hEireann) that Sinn Fein is setting up in London [This was the 1960s united Sinn Fein led by Tomas MacGiolla and Cathal Goulding, before the 1970 split which led to the formation of the Provisional IRA and Provisional Sinn Fein].
April 11 Saturday (London): The usual people came into the office in the morning, and I was out with Sean Redmond in Paddington in the evening.
April 12 Sunday (London): I met Joe Deighan and the others at Hyde Park. Before going to Camden Town with Joe I had a drink with him. He showed no disposition to leave and wanted to talk [Joe Deighan, former leader of the Connolly Association in Manchester, had now moved to London]. He began by saying the London Branches were not effective. I quoted South and West. He replied with East. I rejoined that it was no wonder when Gerry Curran and Toni Curran were engaged fully in head office work and he declined to be secretary. “It was clear to me,” he said, “from the start that Gerry and Toni were going to leave it to me. Well, Joe Deighan is not going to spend another ten years on his own.” I replied that in that case there was nothing more to be said, since his decision was his own and he had every right to make it, but his generalisations were purely subjective.
But he went on making them. The present, he said, reminded him of the “dark days when we were wholly overshadowed by Sinn Fein.” I replied that on the contrary these were very different days and that obviously 1964 was, like 1956, a year of sudden transition. He said he hated transitional years! I repeated the accusations of subjectivity. He complained that the Standing Committee was too small and the General Purposes Committee a “sounding board”. Sean Redmond refused to hold it at a convenient time for him to attend. I explained why it could not be any other time but 6 pm. and that Thursday was the only day he could attend. “I’m not prepared to give up my afternoon off.” “Then that is why the committee is too small,” said I, for he could suggest nobody else, and I told him, which he admitted, that we had warned him that settling in Ilford would restrict him in this way, but he had refused to believe us. After some more exchanges I told him his trouble was that he had been a big fish in a small pond in Manchester and now found himself surrounded by his like. He replied he had no political ambitions like myself (I said nothing about the honours and £5000 a year I could be getting as a scientist instead of £750 and constant personal attacks and sabotage) and that he was thinking of giving up the position of President. I replied that nobody was irreplaceable, though of course we should be sorry to see him go. However, when all the interchange was over he seemed to have got something off his chest and no longer wore the mantle of a disappointed man. My suspicion that he was secretly worried over the so-called Russo-Chinese differences was confirmed, though we did not discuss them, when I observed that his manner became more relaxed at the time I urged support for the line of policy adopted by the British CP. I imagine he was wondering whether to delve further and on this reassurance decided not to.
April 13 Monday (London): While Sean Redmond went to Ripley to read the proofs for me, I remained here and held a General Purposes Committee in the evening. It was a huge success. I reported on the Trotsky attacks, the formation of the Clann na hEireann (which we decided was not an enemy organisation). It was decided to run the conference as suggested by the Standing Committee, and to recommend the raising of the subscription to £1 – Joe Deighan even suggested 30/– in six monthly instalments – and to increase the price of the Democrat to ninepence as soon as the Conference shall have the opportunity to discuss it. Those present included Robbie Rossiter, Pat White, Pat Bond, Peter Mulligan, Des Logan, Jim Argue, Pat Hensey and Michael Kane, but not Gerry Curran. It was decided also to run a big Democrat campaign in May. Deighan was in an improved mood.
April 14 Tuesday (London): On his return Sean Redmond told me what had happened in Nottingham and Birmingham. Joe Whelan [Connolly Association activist in the Nottinghamshire mining village of Hucknall] is still active and standing as CP candidate in the local elections. While Sean was there a man called canvassing the Trotsky “Newsletter” who was quite put out when Joe told him to clear off. So they are active there too thanks to the absurd behaviour of the Chinese, who will live to regret their poking of their noses into countries they don’t understand. Sean Redmond then went to Birmingham and saw Bill Dunne [local CPGB organiser] who had thought we were hard on McNally – Joseph – when we made reference in our circular to “money-making and pleasure-seeking”, but he agrees Joe McNally is an old humbug and bluffs and lies his way through everything, and his estimate of Birmingham is ours [Joe McNally and his sons were old CA members in Birmingham]. Even Irish building workers are earning £20 a week. Money-making, pleasure-seeking, overtime and drink: these are the ingredients of Birmingham life. The city cannot maintain a theatre, or a first-class orchestra, and the Labour movement is without tradition or principle – the boom city. Exactly my impression of it.
April 15 Wednesday (London): I had intended to go to Dublin this evening but had too much to do in the office. We discovered that Lawless’s rats are formed into a “Connolly Commemoration Committee” to produce a paper in May to be launched for their “social” at the Pinder of Wakefield on May 9th. So there will be a fine display of scurrility then.
April 16 Thursday (London/Dublin): I was in the office a good part of the day but caught the “Emerald Isle” Express in the afternoon. A woman opposite was going home to Rye. She had a Cheshire accent and was describing the air in glowing terms – “like wine”. “What about the caravan sites?” “Oh, you don’t see them in the town, they’re out on the promenade.” And the “working man” had to have “somewhere to go”. What a pity, she complained, that she now had to change at Chester, and wasn’t rail more comfortable than road. But Beeching was “doing his best“[Lord Beeching had closed many British railway lines] – after all you couldn’t expect the railways to lose millions a year. What about the hidden subsidy to road hauliers? Oh, she could never understand politics, it was a dirty game!
April 17 Friday (Dublin): I slept very well considering the disturbed nature of the night, and in the morning called in to Sean Nolan [Manager of the Irish Workers Party bookshop at 16 Pearse Street]. I had hardly entered the door when he asked me about Joe 0’Connor’s social and meeting, and we had a long discussion, the upshot of which was that he should put to his joint committee meeting this weekend the proposition to proceed with the social but hold off the meeting and discuss the matter when they come over [presumably a joint meeting with the CPGB, and possibly also the CPNI]. The position is obviously that they want to operate in London, but do not want to incur any ill-feeling from us, which is an advance on positions they previously held. O’Connor had written to him suggesting a meeting and from the letter it appears it is a meeting of Irish Communists and friends in London, and Nolan understood that its purpose was that he or 0’Riordan [Michael O’Riordan, general secretary of the Irish Workers Party, before 1962 the Irish Workers League] should arbitrate on some disputed matters – in other words the same old thing, to enlist Dublin in the cause of disruption in London. O’Connor had the effrontery to state that I had no objection to the meeting. I told Sean Nolan that I had been informed of it but was not consulted. Nolan said they had no desire to interfere or poach on our preserves. I said we did not like his socials as there was a danger of setting up a disruptive centre of organisation. He replied that they would undertake not to have them more than twice a year. He was then speaking as if O’Connnor had proposed them. I told him I was aware that O’Riordan had proposed them in the first place. He then said his motive was to keep together the “neutral elements” who for personal reasons would not join the CA after the 1959 struggles [ie. when members of the the North London Connolly Association branch had tried to push a leftist policy on the organisation]. I told him I did not trust his “neutral elements” and that the self-appointed task of “keeping them together” might prove a fiasco for those who undertook it. He then said a subsidiary motive was to raise money. I said this was the only legitimate aim he could have in Britain but did not express my whole mind, which was that the way it was done was our business at least as much as his. However, the discussions were friendly and that is no harm.
I rang Roy Johnston’s work and learned he was in the USA and will be there for a fortnight. Tony Coughlan did not appear at lunchtime. I called up to see Cathal early in the evening and heard that Tony was “chasing a German nurse” on the continent. That explains his lack of interest in anything else, and failure to answer letters several people sent him.
Finally, I went out to Clonskea where Packy Early, Joe Collins and Jack McCabe were waiting for me. I had not met Collins since the dinner at the Garibaldi just after he was released from Parkhurst jail in 1949. We talked over the olden days. He told me how the leaders of the Republican Movement had rejected his request to be allowed across the border in the 1956 affair, in his opinion, because being old themselves they did not relish a middle-age man’s showing them up. The expulsion of MacLogan and company represented an IRA take-over of Sinn Fein. Packy Early thought the establishment of Clann na hEireann presaged the liquidation of Sinn Fein, after which a new party could go into the Dail. Others doubted it.
Among those present was Sean Cronin [IRA Chief-of-Staff in the 1956-62 Border campaign] and I had a long talk with him, in which I received a favourable impression of his intelligence, despite the usual inflexibility in political matters. We sat drinking poteen which Early had acquired till quite late and Collins had reached the ne plus ultra of “no compromise”. Within the “no compromise” position is a deep defeatism and lack of confidence in the people. Indeed that is the origin of the whole theory of the “faithful and the few”. Cronin was, like many “pure” republicans, opposed to calling religious discrimination by its plain name, and wanted to confuse this mode of operation with the political purpose. Their whole method is calculated to distinguish them from other people, instead of being based on securing a reputation as the best exponents of an agreed policy.
Collins told me about Gavaghan who made himself unpleasant (while drunk) both publicly at Trafalgar Square and privately at Hyde Park. Apparently it was he whose demoralised condition was responsible for the failure of the escape attempt from Parkhurst just after the war. Apparently his nerve failed at the crucial time. Collins, more unexpectedly, has no time for Jim O’Regan, says he “associated” with Fascist prisoners and is “a rat”. Packy Early told me afterwards that when he consulted O’Riordan on this he replied, “O’Regan’s a very unreliable fellow.” I would imagine that anybody who doesn’t fulfil the role O’Riordan unilaterally designs for him is an “unreliable fellow”. Early told me that a group of the IRA lads who (like Cronin) had been reading my life of Connolly wanted to meet me. But they objected to my reference to the “Phoenix Park murders” which, they said, appeared to condemn these assassinations. “They struck at the heads, not the legs,” said Collins. So I said that in future I must call these things “bumpings off” a l’Americaine and they laughed and agreed all the textbooks in schools used the expression objected to. I stayed overnight at Early’s.
April 18 Saturday (Clarinbridge): We had stayed up till 3 am, so did not leave till 9.15 am. to go to Galway. Mrs Early and the wee boy Breffni, aged about 9 l/2, came as well. We stopped at Athenry, and Packy Early confirmed the arrangements he had made at Easter with Stephen Jordan, that he and a colleague should come to Clarinbridge tonight. Then we went to the Flemings at Clarinbridge. George Fleming is Mrs Early’s father, a very nice old man, a firm supporter of De Valera, who lived a house or two away from the barracks that Liam Mellows and his men attacked in 1916. He described this. Then we went to see his brother a few doors in the opposite direction. He started a branch of the Fianna and has a great set of souvenirs which I imagine belonged to his father. The father and six sons were jailed in 1916. In the evening Stephen Jordan, Matthew Neilan and Jim Barrett came, and we had a long session in which I read my chapter on the 1916 Rising and invited comments. I received the impression that they felt that Frank Hynes had exaggerated his own part in the affair. Padraig Fahy they thought was too old to come – of course Ardrahan is a few miles away. Stephen Jordan was a cobbler and Jim Barrett is a painter. Of course they all have Sinn Fein pensions. Jordan was a Fianna Fail TD in or around 1932 and I would say has the clearest head on political matters. Barrett and Neilan are very bitter against Mulcahy, even now. But it is interesting that all scout the idea that Julia Morrissey was engaged to Mellows. They think the feeling was all on her side and not reciprocated at all. We ran them back to Athenry and had a drink with old Barrett, aged 88. “Do you know” he said, sipping his pint, “I never touched alcoholic beverages before the age of seventy-five.”
April 19 Sunday (Clarinbridge): I was up early myself but found the Flemings and Mrs Early had already gone to Mass. Later Packy Early and the boy went and I went out for a walk. George Fleming joined me and showed me round the village, the actual place where the men lined up, the tree from which the barricade was cut, the Headington memorial in the Diamond and so on. The “big house” is now a home for imbecile youths, as they call them, and sixty odd of them are on their way to Mass and I was moved to observe them closely. Many of them would have passed for normal, but I had strongly confirmed my opinion (now widely held) that mental sickness is part of a physical syndrome. Some of them I would say suffered from glandular disease, others from genetic insufficiency, which presumably is in part the same thing, and it was interesting to see the muscular defects which pulled some of their bodies into awkward and distorted shapes. Once a firm physical approach is made to these things and all the psychological claptrap forgotten all about, mental illness will be as curable as any other illness – which of course is only curable in a limited degree.
Before lunch Packy Early and George Fleming and I went to Limepark where we met its present owner, Peter Howley, who says he would have joined Mellows, Hynes and Monahan in the Aughty mountains but for his arrest. He had arranged to take them food in the evening when they were above at Patsy Corless’s. I forgot to ask why this was considered necessary. The old castle is now a ruin (it is called Rahey Castle) and the big house roofless. Howley, a tall upstanding man in his seventies with two fine sons in their late teens and younger daughters, had built himself a new house beside it. After 1921 his father, mother and brothers had inhabited it, but it was too big for his family. He offered me three cartridges he had found while demolishing the house, which Packy Early immediately demanded for his Kilmainham museum [Early was active on the Kilmainham Jail, Dublin, Restoration Committee at the time], so I raised no objection to his having them. What would I do with them anyway but give them to a museum? I got on famously with George Fleming who was fond of drink and kept discovering lots of whiskey for me. On the way back from Limepark we overtook some boys whose car had broken down. Packy Early left us in Clarinbridge while he took back some petrol to Liam Kilcolgan, and sure enough Burke’s oyster house was handy, not with oysters, but with all else. I was immediately classified as “the man that’s writing the book” and an object of interest.
It must have been about 3 pm. before we left, ran into a thunderstorm at Moate, stopped once or twice for a bottle of stout, and so reached Dublin about 8.30. I got Packy Early to drop me at Dolphin’s Barn. On the way we had discussed everybody we knew in the olden days. Packy Early was, I think, a foundation member of the Connolly Association [In 1938]. He left London and went to Chepstowe and I remember writing to him there. That would be around 1943. Then he returned to London and was on the Committee when Sylvie Maitland wanted to close down the Democrat and was opposed to it but did not fight hard. Indeed the only support I got was from Elsie O’Dowling and Jack Bennett. Early was a great admirer of Dooley. I did not mention, as I did not mention in the Democrat obituaries, how utterly impossible Dooley was. But Early did agree that his “wife” was governed by an unsuppressible fear that I, with my superior education, might displace Dooley as Editor during the time he required his position as a stepping stone to better things. By the time he had gone relations between us were no more than a keeping up of diplomatic appearances. Even when Dooley left the Democrat his actions had to be justified in retrospect, so he handed over the Editorship to Flann Campbell without even consulting the committee and answered those who wondered why I was not brought in by saying it had not occurred to him – even though I was in a sense his immediate predecessor as I produced the January 1942 issue when he was called into the army. It must be conceded though that he was far better placed to do the work than I, as he could devote his full time to it in those days.
We spoke of Joe O’Connor. Packy Early said everybody agreed he was “cracked” and that in the Curragh he had hysterics and had to be tied up. Also the IRA believed he had turned informer over the Plant case, though there was no proof.
About 10 pm. I reached Cathal’s [Cathal MacLiam and his wife Helga, then living at 74 Finglas Park, Dublin]. Helga said Mairin Johnston had told them Roy was staying so long in the USA because he is in hospital with a staphylococcus infection. Tony Coughlan is back after touring Norway and Sweden. She asked was I interested in meeting him, and if so she would bring him out one evening. Helga commented that Tony Coughlan was “afraid” of Mairin and might not come as she pulled his leg over his courtship. So I am disinclined to help Mairin in her plan to get free entertainment at the expense of my very short and valuable time. I may call out to see her myself. There was no great news – the death of Liam O’Hora, the Censor [ie. the State censor], had caused some comment. He has eleven children. Cathal described how when he went to see him he got out four bottles of whiskey and set one in front of each of his three guests and took one himself. Apparently Censors get ample presents from publishers around Christmas time, and it takes them all year to drink it. O’Hora, on the other hand, is believed to have been reasonably fair, and certainly refused flatly to allow political considerations to interfere with his work. Cathal went to his funeral [He was a distant relation], and there were two Ministers there. Talking about funerals, Brian Behan did not attend Brendan’s. He is a contractor now. I told Packy Early as I told Sean Nolan that all the rats [i.e. leftist critics of Connolly Association policy] have not yet deserted and not to assume too easily that all is well.
April 20 Monday (Dublin): I called out to see Ina Connolly after lunch. She told me what had happened to her since I saw her last. Savage, the San Francisco leftist, had tried to “take charge” of her in California, and caused some rift between her and the McGinn family, with whom she stayed first. Then she moved to Mexico, but to friends of his. She believed he had no real political affiliations but was a romantic not without his good points. On her return she found it impossible to sell the house in Belgrave Square, first because the lease had not expired and second because her tenant had paid no rent and she must recover it – the case has still to be heard. Of her son Brian she said she returned to find him engaged in “deep sea fishing”, an occupation which she believed to have been chosen under the influence of her much older son Seamus, who will soon retire from the army and has a fancy for the sea – an entirely empty fancy in her opinion. She persuaded him to go to San Francisco where he and his wife are now residing with John Savage. She was in London last August and stayed a weekend with Fiona, but she says of Fiona and Nora that “their politics are not mine”, and indeed Ina, the only member of the family who “wasn’t Free State”, is really becoming cosmopolitan. I never hear a breath of Irish national sentiment from her and well did Flann Campbell describe her as a product like those of the ILP.
Of her book she says she sold it to the Transport Union for £100 and they will bring it out sometime. I wonder. We sent to see old Barney Conway, now aged 82 and agreed that the Labour Movement has now no vitality, the leaders being without energy or capacity, and much more. He spoke of old Larkin, Connolly and Partridge as the best of them. He still looks the same, though if I can remember across the sixteen years since I saw him last, his moustache has become more conventionally trimmed. It is no longer a “1916 moustache” but a 1964 one.
After a meal I then went up to Nora’s. We discussed aspects of the Mellows book then went on to other things. Apparently Prionsias MacAonghusa had seen her and asked her what she thought of my book [ie. his biography of Connolly]. She told him (perhaps what she told me, but not necessarily so!) and then gave him the news that I was writing one on Mellows, which she said interested him. He is in the Labour Party, and according to Cathal who was at college with him, is a scoundrel. Even when Cathal was living with me I remember his speaking of MacAonghusa’s racketeering and fiddling. He does not now steal students’ coats, but is operating more respectably in radio, television and politics. According to Nora Connolly O’Brien there is much dissatisfaction in the Labour Party at the choice of University graduates for leading Trade Union positions [Barry Desmond, later Fine Gael-Labour Coalition Government Minister and Michael O’Leary, later Labour Party leader and Tanaiste, were the first such graduates].
When I was with Ina she spoke of Dr Browne. Apparently he thinks he is politically finished (and no harm at all, thought I, in view of his Trotskyist connections) but holds that McQuillan will retain his seat. She says he told her that joining the Labour Party was his “last hope”. Of course this incredibly vain and confused man, if he could not achieve success, must have martyrdom (to himself) and Ina says he has been offered a very small job in a hospital.
April 21 Tuesday (Dublin): The day was very wet. I saw Peadar O’Donnell in the afternoon. As Packy Early told me, he has aged considerably, though his pugnacious jaw and somewhat egotistical eyes remain – these descriptions befit the way he uses them rather than their physiognomy. He is still active with his work for small farmers, and I told him we would give him every support.
I also saw Nolan. He said his committee had decided to proceed with the social and suggest tripartite discussions in London – Mahon [John Mahon, official in the CPGB London District], O’Riordan and myself. Now though I can’t object I find myself in a pre-arranged minority with Mahon the most obdurate. Nolan also asked me to do the Belfast school [Weekend communist political education school] on June 14th. I replied I preferred the 7th and he will try to arrange this. I thought it unwise to decline, little as I relish the extra work and travelling, in view of the discussions in May. Since I lose on a straight showdown I must maintain good relations until the other side are educated to see our point of view, which at any rate Nolan is half way to doing.
I tried to find Padraic Colum in the evening, but only got so far as ringing Ewart Milne, who is not with the Academy of Letters as I thought, but suggested Austin Clarke.
April 22 Wednesday (Dublin): I spoke to Austin Clarke who said Colum had telephoned him a few weeks ago, presumably on his arrival. He gave me an address and a telephone number but was uncertain of them and I could not get through. I had lunch with Tony Coughlan. He had nothing to tell me I did not know, but we exchanged notes and opinions. In the afternoon I saw Dr Paddy Daly in Donnybrook. He must be about 70, but a lean healthy alert man very similar in appearance to his sister.
He gave me one or two items of information which helped to fill in gaps, but that was all. Then after returning to Finglas, I went with Cathal to a meeting at the Mansion House on the subject of anti-apartheid action [Organised by the recently founded Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement]. Barry Desmond, Tony Coughlan’s friend, was the most forceful speaker. He looks much older than the 28 years he has. There were interruptions directed to accusing Ghana of being as repressive as South Africa, and it was worth noting that the South African speaker silenced them by referring to the Six Counties. But the Labour Party would never dream of holding a meeting to protest against apartheid in Northern Ireland. It might divide their precious T.U.C. into camps based on principles instead of uniting them in the pursuit of lucrative offices. In the audience I saw May Keating, Justin Keating, Loretta, Michael O’Riordan, Sean Nolan, Edwards, and I was told Jeffares. Michael O’Leary and others were there. Afterwards we had a drink with Mairin Johnston who told us Roy would be back on Saturday morning. Here Tony Coughlan told me an interesting thing told him in Dublin, namely that Martin Ennals came back from the Six Counties two years ago with material completely condemning the Six-County Government (as indeed we know he did) but was prevented from publishing it on the intervention of Transport House as embarrassing to the Labour Party.
April 23 Thursday (Dublin): In the morning I called down to Peadar O’Donnell where he was making arrangements for pursuing his “major breakthrough” with the pilot scheme for western farms. A middleaged man called Jim O’Byrne was there for a while. His views are certainly not far from my own in many matters. He recognises the “souper” in Sean O’Casey and agreed that there ought to be written a history of Ireland from the standpoint of the autochthonous population of the Gaeltacht rather than the Pale. But he is of course a man of artistic rather than scientific mind and thus can come quickly to any point he understands but lacks analytical apparatus to resolve points that he doesn’t. His capacity to sum up human and political relations in a few epigrammatic words is quite remarkable. But he sees in the Civil War merely evidence of undying fidelity to the Republic against a class of compromisers – the part of imperialism of course he understands, but not the duality inherent in the establishment of the second Dail.
Later I saw O’Riordan. Like Sean Nolan he was extremely amicable and told me that he and his colleagues did not feel they had much interest in the maintenance of the Durkin-O’Connor activities in London. He said that no approach for the holding of socials came from him. He asked Mahon [London CPGB official] if he objected to a small number of copies of the Irish Socialist being distributed in London and Mahon turned over the question to Durkin, who organised a social. Now O’Connor wants a meeting to “discuss the EC statement on the Irish in London”. I told O’Riordan that, as I understand it, there was no such thing. Possibly he means the statement of Articles of Agreement drawn up in 1959. He volunteered the opinion that O’Connor was an intriguer, and always was. He invited me to the meeting this evening.
After returning to Finglas I brought Cathal over with me. Here at the IWP premises I found a shed newly concreted which was to receive a linotype machine. A press is already installed. I asked if they were interested in orders for jobbing work and O’Riordan seemed anxious for it. The lecturer was Jeffares, the subject “neo-colonialism” (a great advance) and while the presentation was protracted through lack of a sufficiently precise grasp of the subject, the discussion that followed was useful. Jeffares achieved the distinction of speaking on neo-colonialism for over an hour without mentioning Ireland.
April 24 Friday (Dublin): At last I contacted Patrick Colum and he will later arrange a meeting. I spent most of the morning with Frank Robbins. He says he is a “socialist” and probably thinks he still is one. He is very bitter against Larkin and claims to have been the first to warn Foran against him. He says that Larkin tried to extract full details of one of Mellows’s missions by threatening to tell the authorities the little he did know. He also is bitterly opposed to O’Casey and says that his plays were originally melodramas and the Abbey decided to produce them as tragi-comedies much to his indignation. But Dublin always buzzed with gossip. Robbins was in the SPI [ie. Socialist Party of Ireland] before Roddy Connolly started the CPI. He spoke of one of the SPI leaders who went under the name of Malcolm McCool, and was really a Glasgow man who came over with Gerrard of Belfast to escape conscription. But he gave me little about New York in 1917, except incidents and conversations. It is clear that it never occurred to him that the European war, the issue which divided right from left in Ireland in 1914, did the same to America in 1917. So the whole dispute is one of personalities. He told me that his objection to the Third International was the supranational character of its discipline. This was in 1919-20. He says that when he was a member of the SPI [Socialist Party of Ireland] they had a “Director of Propaganda” who never sold a pamphlet and that he became discouraged through having his bellyful of doing it alone.
April 25 Saturday (Dublin): I arranged to go to see Barrington, whom Dr Daly advised me to consult regarding arms smuggling from Newcastle in 1920-21. His wife told me that as a result of a cerebral haemorrhage a few years ago his speech is unclear and she doubts I will understand him.
In the afternoon I went to see Padraic Colum, living with his sister and family in a small but moderately comfortable house in Donnybrook. He is a pleasant tolerant old man, very healthy-seeming though with an uncertain memory over things that happened long ago. He spoke very well of Dr Maloney, the Edinburgh physician who treated his wife after an accident with unusual consideration. He thought Earnan O’Malley and Mellows the two sea-green incorruptibles. He was on Devoy’s side and said De Valera made a mess of things in America, but spoke without rancour. He was very interested in the Irish Times article on Marx and the Fenians, saying that Marx hoped the Fenians would turn communist but they didn’t. Of the American-Irish Movement he said it was like Marx’s communist movement, always split. He referred to Marx on several occasions, choosing him somewhat oddly as one of history’s failures, and returning to the subject in several connections. He told me of a Miss Rice in Monaghan who might be worth seeing. What was somewhat surprising was the absence of an American accent.
In the evening I called to see Packie Early who gave me a letter from Stephen Jordan and drove me back to Finglas.
April 26 Sunday (Dublin): I called to see Barrington, one-time schoolmaster at South Shields, whom Dr P. Daly had recommended me to visit. He had a cerebral haemorrhage some years ago and was very difficult to talk to. He explained that his brain was quite clear but he could not put his thoughts into words. I imagine there is some localized brain damage – for example he garbles words. For Liverpool he says “Liv” and for Newcastle “Naskel”. He does not hear well either. When his wife wishes to communicate something definite she writes it out and he can follow perfectly what he reads. He lent me a quite important document relating to the Northeast coast.
April 27 Monday (Dublin): I telephoned Rory Brugha [son of Cathal Brugha] and was invited into his tiny office in the recesses of Kingston’s clothiers in O’Connell Street. I found a lean alert man of about 40 years of age who told me he knew next to nothing about Mellows and had precious little about his father – he cannot have been more than a baby when he died. The conversation was interesting. Success – that was written everywhere, but without the smugness of success (a much larger financial thing of course in England). He asked my interest, was it Mellows’s social programme? I replied that inter alia. He thought those who fought in 1916-23 might with advantage have considered what was to come after independence. He himself went on automatically into the IRA as a scion of an English landed family would go into the Guards. It required much strength of mind, or obstinacy, or disregard of the feelings of others, to get out of it. He had joined at the age of 16. He spoke frequently to Irish representatives in African countries and found there, if accounts were reliable, the same crudity and belief in politics to solve all economic problems that marked the Republicans fifty years ago. The African saw the white man with a beautiful house. Why can’t I have one? He didn’t think of working for it. He frequently saw De Valera to whom he had given some of his father’s papers which, however, listed no events. De Valera had told him recently that when Brugha was wounded he said to himself, “I’m glad. That has shown Brugha is not afraid to fight. Now he will be able to negotiate with Collins.” But Brugha died – and so did Collins. He heard also how at that time Rory O’Connor left his car outside the Four Courts and some Volunteer wanted a car to go to Howth and was told to take O’Connors. He did so. On his return O’Connor asked, “What authority had you to take my car?” There was a great altercation. Traynor called in afterwards and on hearing the complaint of the car-borrower asked him, “Why didn’t you get out your gun and say, ‘This is my authority’?” Rory Brugha said this indicated that discipline was beginning to break down. His views on the treaty negotiations were reasonably sound. He said, “Yes, unfortunately” when I mentioned peace feelers early in 1921 and remarked that nobody who signed the Treaty ever kept the affections of the Irish people. But the present republicans were in too much of a hurry. Khruschev and Kennedy had thawed the Cold War by not being in a hurry. If the army could have been kept intact in 1922 despite the Treaty, perhaps in a year or two circumstances might have changed. He rang up Maurice Twomey and told him I was with him. Twomey asked him if it was the man who wrote the life of Connolly, and so I am to see him tomorrow. He also rang Norbert O’Connor, Rory O’Connor’s brother, and arranged for him to let him know as soon as soon as he got his new hearing aid, and Rory Brugha will ring me. He pronounces the name Brewa, not Brew, as some people do.
I then saw Nolan. Sean [ie. Sean Redmond, CA general secretary in London] had written saying the ILP[Independent Labour Party] summer school was being held in Dublin in August and asking what speaker on Ireland we should recommend to them since they have approached us. Nolan suggested Desmond Ryan or Cathal O’Shannon, but I suggested including Tony’s friend Barry Desmond.
Then I called up to see Ina Connolly. She told me about Eamon Rooney, who died a year or two ago. I called to see him while writing “Connolly”, but he was strongly critical of him while very friendly to me. “Connolly is the man who introduced the national deviation into socialist theory.” Ina says he was a Marxist and an atheist from the environs of Belfast, associated with the Republican youth before 1916 and one who went to Co. Tyrone with them, and a friend of Sean Lester. His wife refused to allow a priest to see him when he was ill until he requested it, and he died an atheist. Then she spoke to the children who were brought up Catholic and said that having respected his wishes to the last she now considered her duty performed and left the funeral arrangements to their judgement. After consideration and consulting a priest they decided on a Catholic funeral, acceptable to the church since he had not joined any other religion – and in due time it took place on a very magnificent scale, with a queue of hundreds of the faithful. She also recalled the meeting which she, Roddy and Eamon Martin had with Chicherin [First Bolshevik Foreign Minister] in Moscow. “We’ll give you recognition and what good would it do you? You’ll be cutting each others’ throats in a few weeks.” (Personally I doubt Ina’s memory here; according to McCartan Chicherin said, “If you accept something less than national independence what kind of fools will we look?”) She recalled that Gerry Boland was there soon afterwards and he got the Russian Crown Jewels which were in her care for a while.
When I reached Finglas there was a letter from Padraic Colum giving addresses. One more thing about Rory Brugha. The man who is now writing the life of his father is his first cousin; second, he says the reason why Caulfield’s book is so biased is that the first people he went to see were Cosgrave and Mulcahy[Max Caulfield, author of “The Easter Rebellion”].
April 28 Tuesday (Dublin): It poured torrential rain most of the morning. I went to Moss Twomey’s a little early, found him out, and traced him to the Monument basement where he sat drinking coffee with Rory Brugha. They had been discussing my book – not its contents but the fact that after some difficulty Twomey had supplied an American customer with a copy and he had not yet paid for it. Twomey and I went over to his shop. He is giving it up and already the fittings are being taken out of the front of it. We went down stone steps at the back and into a long gloomy cellar which he used as offices and storeroom. He could tell me little about Mellows except that he knew him in the Four Courts and had only heard of him before that, except for casual meetings. On the wall of his office was a photograph of Liam Lynch and it seems it was he who helped Florence O’Donoghue with his book “No Other Law”. O’Donoghue asked him about seeing people. “Are any on the banned list?” “No,” said Twomey, “we’ll ask everybody”. Mulcahy declined to assist. I had asked his opinion about approaching Mulcahy, and he thought it was wise, if even to do no more than elicit a refusal. Twomey had known O’Malley well when he was collecting materials for a sequel to “On Another Man’s Wound”. It was “word of mouth stuff – he had two big boxes filled with a lot of punk.”
After lunch I went out to see Sheila Humphries – a powerful character, and one of the most striking I have met during this research. I note here only her observations on present issues. She describes herself as a socialist and says that “Labour in Irish History” is her “Bible”. She does much St. Vincent de Paul work and is well aware of the poverty that exists even today. She is highly delighted at the ecumenical Movement and the ending of the “Cold War”. She says, “If we were practising Christianity there’d be no communism because we’d be the communists.” She was somewhat taken in by Caulfield. When I mentioned his background in Belfast and what Brugha had said she says, “Ah – there he is. Rory Brugha has superb insight.” She then remarked that Caulfield’s attack on De Valera was in appalling taste, but that De Valera didn’t seem worried. She has a great library, knows Irish, and is a close friend of Maire Comerford who, by the way, has been ill after a fall from her horse. One interesting thing was her reference to the raid on Ailesbury Road in November 1922 when Ernie O’Malley was shot. The police then confiscated many letters on social problems sent out to her by Liam Mellows. She wondered if I could get access to them. I met her daughter.
On returning to Finglas a letter from Seán awaited me, and a fine pickle it disclosed. He says that on learning that we had booked the Mother Redcap for our social, O’Connor had relinquished his booking for the Yorkshire Gray and had booked the Redcap for the fortnight following. And enclosed were two photostats, one of the “Connolly Commemoration Committee” with Dalton (MacQuaid) and a social they also have, with Dominic Behan singing; the other an appeal by the same bunch to protest against the persecution of itinerants; and finally there was a letter from Grattan Puxon offering an article on the tinkers. Now Puxon lives in a caravan on the tinker encampment, and I understand him to be a wild leftist romantic somewhat like that lunatic Gould-Verschoyle. So I have some thinking to do now. My general feeling is to minimise the ill-effect of O’Connor’s social and try to persuade the people over here to hold no more. I considered making an effort to get this one cancelled, or alternatively cancelling ours (which might be better), but am inclined to think a period should be spent getting more allies, something neglected before. The trouble with O’Connor’s choosing the same spot, is that since he also hires our musician O’Dowd, he can create confusion and make it appear that the Connolly Association runs the two socials. This is of course O’Connor’s object. The tactics are obvious. O’Connor organises an Irish Workers Party social under personal auspices so that Trotskyists can attend it. By so doing he splits our forces by giving the impression that we are opposed to or competitive with the IWP – and he splits the front just at the time the Trotskyists are beginning to establish an alternative organisation. No wonder the Republicans suspect him. One paragraph of Sean Redmond’s letter indicates how things are going. Chris Sullivan was in Willesden and met O’Connor, Fitzgerald and the wild leftist Higginses sitting drinking with Markey and some others. Markey asked Chris Sullivan, “Are you a sincere socialist?” and told him that when he asked me that question I had declined to answer. I don’t know Chris’s reaction to the trap question in front of people he did not know, but I gather that he did not consider it necessary to present his credentials to gentlemen whose sole sincerity is in their attachment to Guinness’s stout. I propose to treat all this extremely seriously.
April 29 Wednesday (Dublin): Both Tony Coughlan and Roy Johnston appeared at lunchtime. Roy is better, but still looks a little jaded. I spent the rest of the day with Tony Coughlan and showed him the letter and photostats that had come from London.
April 30 Thursday (Dublin): A letter came from Sheila Humphries which contained translations from the (Irish) life of Cathal Brugha, and references to letters sent by Collins to Joe Vyse. Also from Sean Redmond came the news that Toni Curran’s baby has arrived at last, is a boy, and weights ten pounds. I sent her a note of congratulation. The showery weather continued, making my movements difficult. I failed to contact Piaras Beaslai or Carmody and went into the National Library rather than hunt people out in the rain. I went back to Finglas intending to return to the library – but just at the crucial time there came another heavy shower. So little was accomplished either today or yesterday. In the evening Cathal and I went into town, had a drink, and brought back some Hungarian “Bull’s Blood” which I had never tried before because of the name. I suggested to him he should ask Roy Johnston if there was a job for him on the management side of Aer Lingus.
May 1st Friday (Dublin): A letter came from Sean Redmond enclosing a cutting from the Waterford “Munster Express” in which Prionsias MacAonghusa had been attacking the Irish Democrat as “viciously anti-Labour Party”, “Communistic” and a supporter of Fianna Fail! So now we know what he was doing with Nora Connolly. I spent the day in the National Library, but Roy came out at night and we discussed MacAonghusa. Apparently he spends long periods in Nolan’s shop and the day Cathal arrived in Dublin in 1956 Nolan was able to tell him he knew he was here, having heard it so quickly from MacAonghusa. The coat trade which he started in Galway grew from modest beginnings. He and a classmate, now a luminary in Irish management circles, began stealing coats from schools, then started on the University. They used to take suitcases up to Dublin on the afternoon train, sell them to pawnbrokers and then return. Afterwards they went on to microscopes. The police set a trap and caught them. Their parents intervened and Cathal, whose coat had been stolen, got a new one. In his schooldays MacAonghusa had been noted for selling free Red-Cross labels to schoolboys of seven and eight who thought they were postage stamps for their collections. I drafted a somewhat restrained reply which I posted to Seán.
We heard from Roy Johnston that Bill Meek, after having married an American heiress, is now sheep-farming on the shores of the lakes in Blessington. He does a little singing for Radio Eireann and all his political principles are forgotten. The same really applies to Justin Keating, also engulfed in the petit-bourgeois tide. He has thirty acres at Tallaght and is grazing sheep on them and also making his few extra shillings from Radio Eireann. It is interesting that radio and television both in Britain and Ireland have been the means of buying over the entire class of artistic intellectuals by providing them with easy money. And the conditions for ending all this have not yet appeared.
May 2 Saturday (Dublin): In the evening Cathal and I went to Packy Early’s at Clonskea. Jim Gallagher and his wife from Leitrim were there, and Danny Donnelly who escaped from Crumlin Road jail came in. I had met him in Cork when together with Jim O’Regan I went to a Sinn Fein open air meeting. I was struck then at the identification of Nationalism and Catholicism. While tonight he still quoted the “Irish Catholic” and wore his pioneer pin, he showed he had acquired much wider interests. He seems very well educated – possibly the product of a Catholic secondary school in the Six Counties. It was late when we got back and we talked late.
May 3 Sunday (Dublin): In the afternoon I called in to Jack MacCabe who is not a hundred yards from Cathal’s, while Cathal took the children to Kilmainham to see the jail in process of restoration. MacCabe said of Cronin that he had a good head and complete integrity, but thought he lacked the decisiveness of Frank Ryan. There are rumours that he intends returning to America. MacCabe thinks the sending up of candidates in the Westminster Election will do no more than demonstrate the weakness of Sinn Fein and says that most of those who took part in the last round of disturbances were scattered and disillusioned.
I returned for a meal and when Cathal returned he accompanied me as far as Dun Laoire where I caught the mail boat. In the cabin with me was a young RAF man who had just left his wife and children with his parents in Limerick while he went on a year’s assignment to Aden. He told me of his regret at parting. He had expected to be posted to some place where she could accompany him and now his plans were upset. He had slipped out quietly as he could not bear to say goodbye.
May 4 Monday (London): The Limerick RAF man came with me to London – talking all the while. The front page of the Daily Express had banner headlines announcing the alleged decapitation of British soldiers in Arabia. He was very sick when he mentally connected this with his own posting. “If the Greeks and Turks in Cyprus want to slit each other’s throats let them get on with it” was his philanthropic philosophy – but at least it was neutral. I saw Sean Redmond when I got back to London and could not avoid the impression that nothing had been done while I was away, but keep things ticking over. Sean is the greatest procrastinator on earth, of innovations at any rate. He should only be on routine.
May 5 Tuesday (London): I managed to stir things up a bit in preparation for the conference next week-end. As far as can be gathered, Sean Redmond has held what there is quite well but brought nothing new.
May 6 Wednesday (London): We were astonished to see on the Daily Worker an advertisement for a “Connolly Social” with Dominic Behan as “artiste”. It is, of course, Andy O’Neill and Dalton’s thing. So we informed the Daily Worker and they decided not to accept another such advert – they (and others) had thought it was the Connolly Association!
May 7 Thursday (London): The final Standing Committee before the conference took place. Joe Deighan had decided to be present. He was, as Pat Bond put it, in a curious mood. He came in almost shouting salutations, rushed upstairs to the toilet, and came down again as dull and heavy as a man who lost his shirt at a horse-race. Then in discussion he improved and fell back again. Still, he came.
May 8 Friday (London): Preparations have seemingly gone on fairly well for the conference. A number of people were in the office today, and who should walk in at 8 pm. but Frank Small. He stayed two months in Dublin, tired of it, and refusing to carry out Arthur Reynolds’ plan to work on a farm in a remote island of Denmark, he decided against everybody’s advice to get a job with Suttons of Reading and try to get into the University there. I think he has a chance. He says industrial members of the Irish Workers Party are dissatisfied at Michael O’Riordan’s going full-time. He has also seen through Arthur Reynolds, for all his surface charm. “He’s afraid to open his mouth. He spends all his time trying to make more money. And that’s because he has no real training. He’s a chancer.”
May 9 Saturday (London): Joe O’Connor’s long-awaited advert for his social came out today. It was in the Mother Redcap where we go tonight. Again Dominic Behan was the “artiste”. We had a successful conference, the financial provisions passing this time [Connolly Association annual conference] and met Sean O’Dowling on the way to Camden Town. He had already confused the two events. When we got there, who walks in but the unconscionable Beggs – the man who tried to force his way into my flat with Andy O’Neill, so that I had to threaten them with the police. We were about to throw him out (Robbie Rossiter and Sean Redmond hesitating till I forced the issue) when he realised his mistake and retreated. Later Joe O’Connor came. I snubbed him. Am I to be polite to splitters? And later Kay Beauchamp. Surely she must have mistaken the event. She told me she had had much to do with Fred O’Shea lately. He had saved their bacon by going up in an election and beating the Liberal. I replied that my opinion of the man was unchanged. She adverted to O’Connor’s social and said Tom Durkin was running them – the man who snubbed Des Logan and Elsie O’Dowling on the big march. I wonder if she had mistaken the event or was looking if the room was suitable for something else of her own. She told me there were fierce recriminations at the British-China conference today, but that reason prevailed.
Then Joe Deighan told how some of the slanders started by Andy O’Neill and his gang are being discreetly posted round again in party circles. Activity on all fronts, as before!
May 10 Sunday (London): We had two excellent sessions today. We also heard a report from Colm Power of the NCCL [National Council for Civil Liberties] conference. He showed us “Claud Gordon’s” travesty of a report in the Sunday Press – attributing the passing of the resolution to a paradoxical utterance by a Unionist Senator [Jack Bennett, who worked on the “Belfast Telegraph”, wrote an influential column in the Northern edition of Dublin’s “Sunday Press” under the pseudonym Claud Gordon]. Currie [Austin Currie, later SDLP MP], the young man from Social Justice [The Dungannon-based Campaign for Social Justice led by Dr Con and Mrs Patricia McCluskey] whom I met in Belfast, was reported and Colm Power [Connolly Association delegate to the NCCL Conference] was not. This was disgraceful since Currie came into our office on Wednesday, saying he was the representative of Social Justice in London, and that they had affiliated to the NCCL. We rang Ennals [Martin Ennals, NCCL general secretary] and arranged for Currie to second the resolution. Yet Jack Bennett did not even mention that it was our resolution! [The NCCL resolution on anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland had been proposed by the Connolly Association] .
May 11 Monday (London): Before going to Ripley I saw Sean Redmond who told me that he had reliably learned that Dominic Behan did perform at the Trotsky social on Saturday. I wonder will any action be taken. My guess is that he will be at O’Connors and the Trotskies will be there too, for I am convinced that these O’Connor socials are no more than a well-stocked pool for the Trotskies to fish in, cunningly disguised as events to show solidarity with the Irish Workers Party. Just where the stupidity ends and the malice begins is hard to say. But O’Connor is capable of anything, an utterly untrustworthy person. He was thrown out of the IWL; I declined to sponsor him for the British CP, but Tom Aherne obliged. But the IWP thole him well enough when he is over here.
May 12 Tuesday (London): Sean had had a telephone message from his sister who is married to Scaife. She described Saturday’s social. Apparently of 80 people only about 20 were Irish. In one corner of the room was McCreevy and his retinue. In another were some gentlemen who described themselves as “syndicialists”, who announced some function they are holding next Sunday. There were a number of “anarchists”, a few West Indians, and the Dalton (McQuaid) crowd. I asked Sean why his sister told us. His guess was that belonging as she does by marriage at least to the WIR crowd, she is irritated at McCreevy taking the lead. But perhaps it is jealousy of the adroitness with which Lawless and company seem to be moving their hands towards the £30,000 McCreevy’s father left him for leaving the CP!
I went down to see Jack Dunman in the afternoon and met Woddis at Leicester Square. He asked me about the social and I described it. He told me more about the Britain-China Society meeting, where apparently Andy 0’Neill and another Irishman (whom I took to be Lawless) led the van of the splitters.
Later I arranged for Chris Sullivan, Des Logan and Pat Hensey to go to the O’Neill meeting at the Conway Hall and they came in to my flat afterwards – or rather Chris and Des Logan did. There were only 17 there apart from themselves. Philip Flynn took the chair – he is a Gerry Healy Trotsky studying at the London School of Economics. Their expected speakers, Dr Browne and Joe Christle, were not there. Browne had not replied to their invitation. Christle had declined. Andy O’Neill and Lawless were the speakers. In the audience were Ian Jenkins (treasurer of Marx House), Seán Markey, Mrs and Miss Dale, Seán Lynch, Donovan, McCreevy and Callinan.
Some interesting statements were made. Lawless attacked the Connolly Association and O’Neill followed after him. It consisted of “Popes and Rabbis” (Lawless), “Pimps and touts”(O’Neill). While O’Neill was mouthing these engaging expressions he was smiling himself – no doubt thinking of all the beer that could be bought with McCreevy’s £30,000. And as if to make sure it came the right way he declared that of all the other organisations that of McCreevy came nearest to the opinions of the “Connolly Commemoration Committee” and that McCreevy’s committee should have been started fifteen years ago. Lynch (a friend of Joe O’Connor’s) attacked the Connolly Association, saying he was an ex-member. He said the N.I.L.P. [Northern Ireland Labour Party] was no good, but the IWP [Irish Workers Party] was different. He advised those present to write to the IWP and get links with them. Sean Markey (another friend of O’Connor’s who was drinking with him and Fitzgerald recently) stated that he was a “member of the Irish Committee of the Communist Party” and that they had recently conducted a social at which members of the IWP and NILP were present. At the conclusion £10 went to one and £10 to the other. There was to be another at the “Mother Redcap” next week. He thought those present, that is the new organisation, should strike up an alliance with the Irish Workers Party. Lawless stated that they would support the IWP social next week as they had supported it before and urged those present to attend. As for the new organisation, the meeting disappointed them. “Our enemies will derive comfort from the poor attendance,” Andy O’Neill complained, “but,” he continued in brighter vein, “if we do our work right, next year there will be 2000.” This was too much for old Mrs Dale, who burst out laughing.
May 13 Wednesday (London): I told Sean Redmond what had been communicated to me last night and he agreed that it tended to confirm most of our suspicions. In the evening Peter Mulligan came in together with Sean to send out notices. Joe Deighan rang up and said he was “coming into town” and would come to the Standing Committee. So we said very good and left it at that.
May 14 Thursday (London): I worked on the book [ie. his biography of Liam Mellows] most of the day. In the evening Gerry Curran and Joe Deighan came to the meeting. Elsie O’Dowling was working in the office. She said to me afterwards that she was surprised at Joe Deighan’s staleness. He repeated to Pat Bond that he was not going to spend another ten years building a branch in East London. But I suspect part of his trouble is disorientation, now that the Republican Movement is in eclipse. He has to be the label on a different bottle.
May 15 Friday (London): Then Chris Sullivan came in. He had tried out the 9d. paper and sold 28 in as many minutes with few refusals. This gave great encouragement. If we can sell a few thousand papers at 9d. we will have some money to work with. In the evening some of us went out and found an encouraging response.
May 16 Saturday (London): Quite a crowd were in the office in the morning and all reports of the 9d. paper were promising. Frank Small has come for the weekend from Reading and I had a talk with him about his work there. Once again every sale showed good results.
May 17 Sunday (London): Four of us, Sean Redmond, Frank Small, Peter Mulligan and myself went to Camden Town at lunchtime, then to Hyde Park where there was a good meeting. Everybody seemed to be there. Des Logan told me he had evidence that Markey and O’Connor held another “Irish social” at some place in Westminster recently. He will try to find out about it. Sean Redmond and I went to Camden Town in the evening and all went reasonably. We have a target of 1600 for the weekend, and are now approaching it.
May 18 Monday (London): We had another meeting in Hyde Park, also successful, and by evening time we knew we had passed our target and were approaching 2100 – a great vote of confidence. We made plans to finish this month’s in four weeks.
May 19 Tuesday (London): In the afternoon Toni Curran visited us, looking very slim again and jumping about the office like a gazelle. I discussed finance with Peter Mulligan later and we discussed a scheme for finishing this month’s papers in three weeks and bringing out a “Summer Special”.
May 20 Wednesday (London): I went in to the office early and got a letter off to Mahon by the first post, telling him of my discussion with O’Riordan in Dublin and my concern at not having heard from him. I sent a copy to Idris Cox [Secretary of the International Department of the CPGB]. Around midday Kay Beauchamp rang Sean to invite him to a meeting and asked if he was coming [Probably a meeting of Irish CPGB members in London]. Sean knew nothing about it and Kay Beauchamp then made clear she was not inviting him. In a later conversation she said perhaps she “had put her foot in it” by telling him about it. I decided to leave matters as they stood for another day and then to act.
May 21 Thursday (London): There was nothing fresh on the Mahon front, so I went to see Idris Cox but missed him. So I must leave it another day. In the evening the Standing Committee endorsed the financial and publication proposals. It is three weeks, the more so since Terence O’Neill [Northern Ireland Prime Minister] is coming to London on the 8th. I went to South London where young Pat Ward who was on the Manchester-Liverpool march is very active. They are getting some new people. Sean went to Kay Beauchamp’s meeting.
May 22 Friday (London): I saw Sean Redmond in the morning. He described Kay Beauchamp’s meeting. Joe O’Connor was there. At one point in the proceedings the subject was discussed of protesting to South Africa House over the prisoners. Suddenly Joe O’Connor burst out, “Let’s show our revolutionary spirit. Let’s get two hundred people arrested and break windows.” There was a hushed silence and the subject was dropped. I had a letter from Idris Cox saying there was a meeting next Monday, asking if I had been invited and whether I intended to go. I telephoned saying we had not been invited and that I was coming to see him. When I got there he had rung up Mahon and that gentleman had excused himself by saying he had invited the International Department to send a representative and had left open who it should be. Of course, he had no objection to my being there. “So there may be an explanation that it was a misunderstanding,” said Idris. I showed him the account Chris Sullivan gave me of the Trotsky social. He was very interested. “And Joe O’Connor,” said I, “in my opinion he’s mentally deranged.” “I’m sure he is,” said Idris. We discussed his delusions. “I think,” said Idris, “they occur after a night of hard drinking.” So he knows him better than I thought. The mystery is how he has imposed himself on Kay Beauchamp and her colleagues.
May 23 Saturday (London): In the afternoon there was a useful conference in which not a foolish word was spoken. Those present were myself Sean Redmond, Robbie Rossiter, Jim Argue, Elsie O’Dowling, Pat Ward, Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Chris Sullivan and Gerry Curran.
In the evening Sean Redmond and I went to Camden Town. A heavy shower came on and we delayed in the Brighton. At about 9.30 pm. we entered the Mother Redcap, seeing Lavery go by but into the public bar. In the saloon a great sight met our eyes. There was Andy O’Neill, Patsy 0’Neill, Jim Prendergast, Brendan Clifford and Sean Markey. Kay Beauchamp was there, and Bosco Jones, MacQuaid, and the “Mwarcsist”, Kearney drinking at a table with another man. By the bar I discerned Michael Kearney, fat, drunken and maudlin. Prendergast, sneering, smug and cynical. There was an atmosphere of frustration, arrogance and mutual suspicion. The room was sprinkled with the spilling of sentimental has-beens. We got out, and continued our sale, but not before MacQuaid had insulted Seán and Prendergast had tried to be unpleasant to me. So much for his repentance. Later I met Denis McCarthy, who said a “fascist” had been put out.
May 24 Sunday (London): In the morning Des Logan brought me an account of last night’s carousel at which Prendergast made an appeal which raised £36. Sean Lynch who was at the Trotsky meeting was on the door. All the Trotskies went upstairs except Pat O’Neill. Prendergast’s appeal was delivered in a state of semi-intoxication. “We were in the back line but O’Riordan was in the heat of battle in the front trenches…” Of course O’Riordan is safe as houses and never did a day’s jail since he left the IRA [Both Prendergast and Michael O Riordan had fought with the International Brigade in Spain and were friends]. The picture was given of a woeful priestridden country where the IWP [Irish Workers Party, the Republic of Ireland’s communist party] was holding on by dint of unexampled bravery. Of course in fact they live in a quite ordinary situation and cope with it in quite an ordinary way. O’Riordan’s speech was interrupted by interjections from a young man in a red shirt who cried “Where were you when my comrades were in Crumlin Road jail in 1942?” He was hustled out.
May 25 Monday (London): Quite early I went to Farringdon Road [“Daily Worker” offices in London]. Mahon and Moore were unavoidably absent, a double pity. Betty Matthews took the chair, competently and securely. Idris [ie. Idris Cox] was late but came. O’Riordan, Durkin and Kay Beauchamp completed the party. O’Riordan began by recapitulating what he had discussed with me in Dublin and read O’Connor’s letter which revealed that that gentleman had arranged a meeting on the penetration of the leftwing movement with Trotskyism, or (I did not understand exactly his vague phrase) Chinese theoretical tendencies. He felt that the IWP could “play a role” in correcting leftist tendencies which Irish people for historical reasons, he professed to believe, were prone to. Durkin then spoke saying that he had formed a committee including Aherne, O’Connor and Prendergast but they had drawn in others including Betty O’Shea and presumably Lynch. I then objected to them first on the grounds that they were run by a group of individuals. Kay Beauchamp protested this was not so. I showed the ticket [ie. relating to the recent social organised under personal auspices]. Then I said the net result was to provide a pool for Trotskies to fish in. When I read out the names Kay Beauchamp was squirming in her chair and Durkin was white and impassive – a pose he finds easy from his unrelieved stupidity. Idris followed, pointing out that the loyalty of Irish members was to the movement in this country and other salutary things. Durkin entered the fray to defend his reputation, dismissed my fears as exaggerated and before five more minutes had gone by he and Kay and O’Riordan were gaily planning a series of meetings with “get togethers” after them. Idris then stipulated that they write to Gollan [CPGB general secretary] first. So we will see.
The man it hinges on is Lynch, who wore a steward’s badge but was at the Trotsky meeting. But it would be interesting to know who else attended the preparatory meetings.
May 26 Tuesday (London): Most of the day I worked on the new paper. For the first time we are producing an extra issue. I saw Hugh Moore for a minute in the day [CPNI official].
May 27 Wednesday (London): Hughie Moore called in to the office in the morning. He told us that the man who created the disturbance at O’Riordan’s social was a Belfastman called Desmond 0’Hagan. Seemingly he was with Kearney, the “Mwarcist” – so called from his long political conversation with Joe Deighan in Gaelic after our demonstration at Trafalgar Square when he so pronounced it, keeping it up quite remarkably. He, according to Jack Bennett, attacked us when back in Belfast. That little ass McCarthy had told me O’Hagan shouted, “You should all be at Mass”. Hughie Moore says he shouted, “Where were you in 1942 when my comrades were in Crumlin Road jail?” This was of course obviously directed at the NILP[Northern Ireland Labour Party] and is in accordance with Lawless’s love of action – setting one against the other. We told him [ie. Hughie Moore] frankly that we believed those socials were splitting the front. He remarked that the main attack of Trotskyism was on the Connolly Association and myself. “Then,” said I ,”you should say, ‘all support for the CA.’ But you didn’t. You split the front for £36.” He was silent at that. But he is such an agreeable person that we hastened to remove the sting by assuring him that we understood this was quite unintentional, which for that matter it was, though the results are the same. He suggested the possibility of discussing the matter further at Belfast at the end of next week. I imagine no difficulty with the people in the North, but Dublin is a different matter. For years they have claimed extra-territoriality for their people here.
May 28 Thursday (London): The Trotsky element across the corridor seem to grow more careless now they are moving. The two sides present the appearance of cats on a wall. When we go downstairs their door opens by a chink, so that our identity can be seen. Quite by accident when this happened today Sean Redmond saw John Clarke of the St. Pancras Workingmen’s College. He was being attacked by the Clifford-Stewart faction who were expelled from the College, whereas he was not. But once again I find that bothsides of one of these wrangles contain Trotskyists. But the much advertised newspaper has not appeared.
May 29 Friday (London): I went to see Betty Matthews [Wife of George Mathews, editor of the “Daily Worker”] after lunch and had a cup of tea with her while she had lunch. I showed her the article in ROSC (Gaelic League) saying what a worried man I was wondering whether to support Russia or China as the two factions prepared for battle inside the Connolly Association. It was solicitous of them to be so concerned over the least of my worries.
May 30 Saturday (London): We saw Jack Bennett’s reply to Sean Redmond’s official complaint that he had totally suppressed the part the part played by the Connolly Association in the Civil Liberties Conference. It was a somewhat grudging apology which will do some good but as much mischief. Sean told me he saw Scaife last night and that indiscreet individual told him some of his plans. The paper was no longer to be exclusively Irish but was to deal with all colonial questions. Lawless claimed to have money for six issues already guaranteed. The calculation of the WIR Trotskies was that there would shortly be a big unification move with McCreevy, “as happened in Chile” as he put it. “The Connolly Association is in for a rough time,” he announced. The central issue the united organisation will raise is that of support for the National Bourgeoisie. The Russians are helping people like Nasser. The C.A. does the same. When we start stirring things up the result will be the formation of a faction in the Connolly Association that demands support for a Chinese line.” So that is what he says!
In the evening an interesting thing happened. Sean Redmond and I were in the “Clarence” at Finsbury Park. Three young lads were at a table – about 22-23 years old. One of them said he was Austin Currie’s friend MacLoughlin, who attended the NCCL with him and was antagonistic to the Connolly Association. He repeated his antagonism. He didn’t agree with our “principles”. Whatever about that he had none himself since he ran after us to ask if he might use the CA’s name in correspondence with Members of Parliament and was quite offended when we refused him. It seems that Mrs McCluskey [ie. of the Dungannon-based Campaign for Social Justice] has scattered her supporters everywhere. Like the CND [Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament] they have no discipline, no organisation and no experience. Having discovered constitutional agitation for the first time, and possibly reacting against the semi-military discipline of Sinn Fein, they are playing with it as with a new toy. Mrs McCluskey wrote about O’Neill’s visit. She wanted to put Social Justice literature on the seats of the diners at Claridges. I wrote and said I would go and see her next week. What has obviously happened is that in starting their agitation two or three years ago, the Nationalists have started mass activity that cannot be confined within the Hibernian straitjacket and quite possibly present developments are the beginning of the end of Hibernianism.
May 31 Sunday (London): Our very promising effort to get away the June issue was spoiled at its close by the wet weather. West London came in for a branch committee meeting in the morning. But the evening was so wet that Sean Redmond, Peter Mulligan and myself decided to stay indoors. Nevertheless the indications are that the finances have been vastly improved by the price increase and that it has caused no heartburning among our supporters.
June 1 Monday (London): I went to Ripley today. It was one of those rare occasions when all goes smoothly from the start. The train was early at Derby; I caught the first bus and all was equally smooth on the way back. Sean Redmond was in the office when I got back.
June 2 Tuesday (London): At the International Affairs Committee when it was over Palme Dutt had a word with me. There had been a report of O’Riordan’s meeting. He suggested another “look” at the arrangements. “They say the Irish Committee is only an executive of the CA” and “It is understandable that the London District Committee wants direct access to the Irish”, but “we still have our line“[Presumably relating to the separate character of the two organisations]. Sean Redmond had a working party in the office, so was not there.
June 3 Wednesday (London): I went to the South Hackney YCL in the evening, held in the flat below that of Molly Mandel whom I knew in Manchester years ago. She invited me up for a cup of tea and told me why she had separated from Kay Beauchamp. The two shared a house at Kay Beauchamp’s insistence. Molly’s marriage had broken up and her male friends used to visit her. On one such occasion Kay Beauchamp became most upset and said, “I thought we were going to have some companionship” with tears in her eyes. The “companionship” meant that Molly did the cooking. She regards Kay as emotionally retarded, unable to estimate people’s characters and desirous of organizing everybody’s life to the smallest detail. She cannot bear anything to be going on that she is not pulling the strings of. She soon accused Molly of having an affair with Frank Ormond who used to be at T.C.D. when it was her daughter he expressed a passing interest in. She can’t get on with John Ross locally. And why? Because she calls to people’s houses at 11 pm. So this is why she must rely on people like O’Shea! [Fred O’Shea, a long-standing political opponent of Greaves’s in London CPGB circles].
June 4 Thursday (London): After telling Sean Redmond my story I heard his. The Scaife crowd are to set up a paper not confined to Irish questions but to the whole colonial question. In the day Lawless poked his head round the door and asked us were we holding a picket of Terence O’Neill’s [Northern Ireland Prime Minister] gathering at Claridges, as they were. We told him nothing.
June 5 Friday (London): I went to Liverpool in the evening and took the ship to Belfast. I had intended to ring Phyllis but there were crowds travelling and the phone was engaged all the time.
June 6 Saturday (Belfast): Today was as wet as possible. I saw Somerset in the morning, setting out chairs, and Sean Morrissey at whose house I left my bag [These were two CPNI members]. There I saw young Michael. He has been expelled from St. Malachy’s for preaching atheism and is now at a “non-denominational” school whose headmaster (with an eye on the credit he can get for the career of a clever boy) has persuaded him to give up ancient history and go to Oxford for “Modern Greats”, the equipment of every civil servant and colonial administrator. Thus he will be de-Irishized and made soft meat for Imperialism.
I went into the Whitehall for tea and Hugh Moore came in. He had arranged to meet the Dublin people there, where a private room was engaged. I noted that I had not been advised of this arrangement. Later Barr came also [Andy Barr, senior Northern Ireland trade union leader and CPNI member]. The “school” began at 7 pm. and I delivered my lecture. It was well prepared and hard to upset and no attempt indeed was made, since I avoided policy like the plague. The title was “British policy towards Ireland – a historical review”. Among those present were Roy Johnston, George Jeffares, Sam Nolan, Paddy Carmody, Sean Nolan, and from the North Betty Sinclair, Billy McCullough – in all 17 from the South and 25 from the North, an impressive muster.
June 7 Sunday (Belfast): I “sat in” on the school all day. In the morning Carmody spoke about the effect of Partition in the Six Counties without mentioning my work on the subject and referred to O’Nolan’s fifteen-year-old book as the standard work. He seemed mainly concerned to ventilate some pet theories, but Tony Coughlan [present as “Irish Democrat” Dublin correspondent] thought his lecture was very good. Barr was better in the afternoon but displeased Betty Sinclair by not dealing with the political aspects of Trade Unionism. The meeting was full, cramped, on uncomfortable chairs and reeking with smoke. At the end O’Riordan got up and with the aid of defiant gestures that would be given by a man determined to “get something in” declared, “This has been the best yet. And why? Because we have had representatives of all three, Dublin, Belfast and the Irish in Britain. We must get more of them over from Britain.” So the British Labour movement does not enter the alliance, and I am under no illusion as to how far my own services made all the difference, since I spoke not a word all today. I imagine O’Riordan wanted me invited to set a precedent for bringing over somebody with whom he could concert policy in Britain. After it was over I learned by accident that a number of those present were going to Shorts’ Club. As a man who had volunteered to drive me to Morrissey’s was going there, I went. Otherwise I would have heard nothing about it.
In the evening I went to see Art McMillan [Belfast Republican who corresponded regularly with Greaves, brother of Liam McMillan]. I asked him what he thought of the prospects of Sinn Fein in the elections. He thought very poor. They would lose five deposits at least. He had urged restricting the number of candidates but the Dublin HQ had insisted on the full quota. I asked if the new developments in the Nationalist Party had brought it nearer to Republicanism or taken it away. He replied that the latter was the case. So it is clear that they have proved quite unable to form a policy after the cease-fire [i.e. the end of the 1956-61 border campaign]. A pity. They are about the best.
June 8 Monday (Belfast/Liverpool/London): I saw Betty Sinclair in the morning and she told me how Binks had lost his position as chairman of the Northern Ireland Committee of the ICTU. Much to his surprise Wylie and some others rounded on him and pushed him out of the way – just as the committee is winning recognition from the Government. So an epoch of “class cooperation” is coming – the Unionists’ one again. Betty Sinclair tells me that the Belfast Trades Council is being pushed aside, decisions properly belonging to it being taken by the Northern Ireland Committee [of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions].
Later I went to Dungannon and saw Mrs McCluskey at her large house at the highest point of the town. There were modernistic paintings on the walls and reproductions of Palaeolithic art engraved on the walls of the garage and rock-garden. Through the wide front windows she showed me the Mournes, the mountains between Belfast and Lough Neagh, and I had already seen the Sperrins. “This is the site of O’Neill’s castle,” she told me. We discussed Social Justice and the NCCL conference. I told her about the old drunkard in Hyde Park who was selling her free leaflets for sixpence and urged her to send people over and appoint people in England like MacLoughlin. The news had come through that Austin Currie had obtained the nomination for East Tyrone. She felt he was too young. Apparently the solicitor (Devlin) would have suited her better. But Currie represented the new forces which were transforming the Nationalist Party. If he did not get into bad hands all would be well. Of the older Nationalists she said Lennon suffers from coronary thrombosis, and of course Healy and Connellan are getting old. It was all they could do to get to London in January – younger people did not realise the effort it cost. I found her quite a remarkable woman, kindly, shrewd and broadminded. When I mentioned O’Reilly’s anticommunist outburst at the House of Commons she dismissed him as “a country boy”. She thought MacAteer a gentleman trying to be a statesman and finding the task heavy[Eddie MacAteer, leader of the Nationalist Party in the Stormont Parliament at the time] .
Back in Belfast I saw Jack Bennett. He was very apologetic over his Sunday Press misdemeanour – looked up and down and to the four walls of the room as he attempted to excuse it. He thought Currie’s nomination was “marvellous”. But the things he thought “marvellous” last year had admittedly not turned out too well. The Wolfe Tone Committee is to be closed down, and he is reduced to hoping the Sinn Fein will do very badly as it “might knock some sense into them”. But of course Gormley and Currie have got on the boat he and Caughey [ie. Sean Caughey of the Civil Liberties group jumped off when they abandoned the Civil Liberties Committee in Belfast. He thinks Currie will still come to Trafalgar Square[Connolly Association annual rally in the square, usually preceded by a march from Hyde Park] annual meeting in the square. I doubt it. After leaving Jack Bennett I went on board ship for Liverpool.
June 9 Tuesday (London): Arriving about midday I went to the office. Sean Redmond showed me a letter addressed to the “President and Vice President of the Connolly Association” – from the brother of Pat McNally who joined the army a few years ago after a dispute with his father. It was an effort at a rapprochement. Since Austin Currie came to London Joe McNally has cherished the object of reviving the Birmingham Connolly Association and thereby making himself the centre of a great rally at which his fellow Tyrone man will speak. Expecting any movement with him at the centre to collapse as soon as the Xmas trade in toys begins, we did not bite. Now Tony McNally has the notion of acting as peacemaker. I wrote a reply assuring him of our goodwill but telling the true facts.
Sean Redmond told me rain had reduced sales last weekend. In the afternoon Toni Curran arrived bringing the ten-pound baby in a carriage, but the noise of the traffic disturbed him, so she had to take him away again. Quite a nice child.
June 10 Wednesday (London): Enquiring about the possibility of accommodating Frank Small, now working in a nursery at Reading, Sean Redmond told me that Aine was there [ie. his sister-in-law]. She had decided to leave Tom Redmond in Manchester and go to work in Paris. She was there three days. I could not get a clear account of what happened from Sean, but I gathered she came back, went to Manchester, then returned to London. I still find this hard to believe. Moreover, I thought Sean was remarkably reticent not to have mentioned her presence to anybody. I asked was she hoping that Tom would commit an indiscretion while she was away. He thought not. Also I cannot find out definitely if Tom is coming for the Trafalgar Square meeting next week. Sean regards any action on his part to help a reconciliation as “interference”. Having her in the house however, is not.
June 11 Thursday (London): A letter came from Andy MacNally saying he was satisfied, but Pat MacNally wanted an apology from Sean Redmond for sending out a circular to all members after Andy MacNally had dissolved the branch. His letter showed a certain touch of imagination absent from any others I have received from the family. He says he is leaving the army in September and wants to join the CA and be active. How active he will be when he gets absorbed in Birmingham is another matter. Gerry Curran did not come to the Standing Committee. I suspect one of his attacks of neurasthenia.
June 12 Friday (London): The weather continues very bad, with thunder hanging about from time to time. Sean Redmond rang Jack Bennett and asked him to try and find out if Currie was coming. He rang me late at night saying that as the seat seemed to be likely to be contested he doubted if Currie would come, but that PJ Gormley and he had both advised him to do so if he could.
June 13 Saturday (London): I had a talk with Pat Hensey. He says he feels his position in West London as Branch secretary is being undermined. There are divisions on the issue of economic versus political demands, and Tim Graham is working overtime trying to turn Argue and Joe Long against the leadership. Nevertheless he is not of the opinion that the situation is serious. Sean Redmond went out with Aine Redmond tonight [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat”].
June 14 Sunday (London): There was a lively meeting in Hyde Park at which I had the pleasure of scattering the B-man. Sean Redmond and Peter Mulligan also spoke. It is interesting that the B-man (who is our most persistent heckler, a big bone-head from Strabane, fanatically anti-religious and especially anti-Catholic) boasted to one of our members that he had donated to Lawless for his proposed Trotsky paper.
June 15 Sunday (London): A letter came from Tony MacNally offering to come to London to work in the office for a few days. After discussion we accepted but did not arrange accommodation. We still feel a little sceptical of the MacNallies. In the evening Joe Deighan appeared at the General Purposes Committee, looking bronzed and fit. The meeting was very good and this cheered him.
June 16 Tuesday (London): There is still no news from Tom Redmond. My suspicion of Aine Redmond’s intentions grows. I never yet heard of a wife who left her husband to live with her mother-in-law. So the question arises, what has this mother-in-law got? And the answer is she has another son – the one Aine originally set her cap for, and failing secured the easier capture, Tom, whom now she doesn’t want. I do not take too much notice of “sweet little girls”. I have seen on her face betimes an expression of extreme artfulness, and she would be capable of pursuing a policy over a time. At present while allowing Tom Redmond facilities to misbehave she deprives him of allies in his own family. If he misbehaves in Manchester, then there is an excellent basis for splitting the branch into Tom and Aine factions. If she on the other hand misbehaves in London, we have it split nationally. I’d like to see Tom taking her away on that bus this weekend! Jack Bennett said he would come on Sunday instead of Currie.
June 17 Wednesday (London): A letter from George Fleming invited me to Clarinbridge at the end of next week. I learned that Colm Power, having started at ENV where Tim Graham works, found out that Graham had had Jim Argue up at Harlesden Labour Club drinking with Hennessey and the former NW London dissidents. Sean Redmond told me that Meehan has rejoined, and Maurice O’Byrne is talking about it. We suspected Durkin of discouraging the first, O’Shea the second.
In the afternoon Tony McNally arrived. We expected a stocky red-head. But unlike Vincent and Paddy he is tall and sharper featured – much like Tom. He is not older than Pat MacNally as we thought, but younger. He is buying himself out of the army. Where the others are phlegmatic, he is all vivacity and on the whole I had a good impression. He decided to go to Morden and see if he can stay with an uncle. I would say he is about 20 or 21.
Later on Pat Bond came, Chris Sullivan, Peter Mulligan and Pat Ward. But the most serious visitor was Fiona Connolly who told us that Bert Edwards [ie. her husband, a trade union official] was so insulting last night that she slapped his face and he knocked her senseless. She is determined now to break with him and wanted a solicitor. “I’m a refugee from British socialism,” she said as she came into the office. It may be that the accusations Edwards let out related not to Roddy in Dublin but to Roddy, her son by her former husband Wilson. Or it may be both – Bert apparently is beyond all reason. Yet she has held her hand from sentiment. He had worked for Trade Unionism all his life and could have been comfortable. Now he is a poor devil off his head. But she has left him definitely now. She should have gone before. She looks ten years older than she did two years ago. A great pity. She is by far the best of James Connolly’s children.
June 18 Thursday (London): We were as busy as could be preparing for next Sunday. One improvement took place that is badly needed. Joe Deighan attended the Standing Committee and when Sean Redmond put him on the spot as to whether he intended to be a member and attend regularly next year, he indicated that he would. I then went to West London and found Jim Argue professing contrition at not having come to Hyde Park on Tuesday, the only fine evening this week [In summertime CA meetings in Hyde Park were sometimes held in on weekday evenings as well as on Sunday afternoons]. The weather is deplorable. Nothing but rain.
June 19 Friday (London): A message came to the effect that Tony Coughlan will not arrive today but in the middle of the night. Young Tony MacNally has been reasonably busy but is arguing for a distinct “Young Connolly Association” for the youth. We told him we wouldn’t have it. If we don’t cater for them, then they must wait till they grow up. Of course the reality is nothing to do with youth – merely a desire to follow Joe McNally instead of the EC!
June 20 Saturday (London): At about 2 am. Tony Coughlan arrived. I accommodated him on a pneumatic mattress and he said he slept. I had no time to get news from Dublin. We had confirmation that as Austin Currie cannot come since he wants to address meetings after Mass, Jack Bennett will come, which is handsome amends. All day people were coming in and out. In the late afternoon the Manchesters, complete with Maire Redmond [sister of Sean and Tom Redmond], arrived. She came in with a sour puss and refused to go to stay with Pat Bond – though she is not a member and we have no responsibility for her. Indeed we made objections to Tom Redmond and John McClelland at having to accommodate non-members coming to London on a cheap jaunt. Sean said, “Very well, Maire, that’s all I have to offer.” And indeed it was and only available thanks to a cancellation. Immediately she began to bemoan the sad fact. Tony MacNally leapt to her aid and took her hotel-hunting. I sent Tom Redmond with them. While they walked around Tony MacNally confided in Tom, whom he doesn’t know, that now it was clear “what was wrong with” the Connolly Association; it was Sean Redmond’s “unfortunate manner”. And it was revealed that he had in fact urged Maire to come and regarded her as his responsibility. He declined to help any further with the work, and we let him go to have the joy of her society. Apparently he had met her last week in Birmingham and she and her husband had spent four hours attacking us, after some festival they attended.
June 21 Sunday (London): The great day arrived. The CA Executive met in the morning and Joe Deighan accepted the Presidency and stated that having at first doubted the value of the weekly Standing Committee he was now “convinced politically” (whatever that meant) that it was necessary. Anyway, he was convinced. Perhaps it may now be possible to associate him with other things which are really his responsibility. It is very desirable. With his support and an accord with Dublin, it might be possible to check the nonsense in London, and indeed turn the dissidents to constructive work of at least some kind. Neither Gerry Curran nor Toni Curran attended.
The morning was showery. A shower dispersed our crowd before the parade. Consequently our numbers were reduced to about 150, but the smaller crowd gave a collection of £67 in the Square. Lipton spoke well [Col.Marcus Lipton, Labour MP for Brixton], Michael Harmel [South African CP activist, who had previously spoken at the founding meeting of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement in Dublin], who substituted for Orbach [Maurice Orbach, Labour MP], who let us down without warning, better, Tony Coughlan was excellent and Jack Bennett was effective, but tried to teach too much theory instead of sticking to policy. Robbie Rossiter excelled himself and Joe Deighan was as good as ever. So the flower was plucked from the nettle. By contrast the social was a flop, despite Luke Kelly’s appearing on the scene. Yet all enjoyed it out of sheer relief.
June 22 Monday (London): I spent the whole day on the paper. The general opinion is that we did very well considering the misfortunes. Leaflets ordered to be given out at the Square to advertise the social arrived only this morning. Sean Redmond took the day off but we met in the evening where Chris Sullivan, Robbie Rossiter and Elsie discussed the preparation of a statement regarding the O’Riordan-Mahon issues.
June 23 Tuesday (London): Though I finished the paper it was not till late, so that I did not leave for Ireland as expected. On Sunday Aine Redmond asked Mrs Redmond if she could stay in London another fortnight. She would not return to Manchester on the bus as we had hoped. However, suddenly changing her mind, she went yesterday, so it is to be hoped that that chapter is closed – not that a new one could not very well open. Toni Curran came in today and did a little on the accounts, but the position is highly unsatisfactory. She wants to carry on despite the claims of the baby, but does not know how to do it, as since the child is her first, she has no experience of the stages to be gone through.
June 24 Wednesday (London/Dublin): I was in the office quite a deal. The most important thing, however, was a letter from the solicitor in Portsmouth telling me that my share of the cash left by Mary Greaves was close on £1000. I wrote saying I preferred cash to securities and also asked Phyllis to bank it for me if it arrived before I returned from Ireland. I left by the Emerald Isle Express for Holyhead.
June 25 Thursday (Dublin): I went straight up to Finglas and was just in time to see the children off to school – Conor is going now and feels very grown-up at four. Then I went into town and called up to Mairin Johnston who had Des Logan staying with her. He and I walked into town. He seems to have been enjoying himself and talks about getting a job and returning. It might be no harm. We need friends here. I had intended to go to Galway but felt too tired and returned to spend the evening with Cathal.
June 26 Friday (Clarinbridge): Leaving soon after Cathal, I caught the early train from Westland Row to Athenry and was bicycling round trying to remember where Stephen Jordan lived, when I saw Jim Barrett on a corner. After a “quick one” (the necessary accompaniment of an unexpected encounter) he said he saw Stephen Jordan and we followed and found him. He was going to Galway on the next bus so we had not long. Barrett then showed me the GAA field which Jordan was mainly responsible for acquiring, though it is named after Kenny. According to Barrett the Craughwell people were not too pleased at its location at Athenry, and others were critical of its association with the name of Kenny, who was anticlerical and refused to attend Mass. We met Stephen Jordan again as I was about to leave the town – he had missed his bus.
I cycled off to the Agricultural Station, then turned left down a bye road, the object being to trace the route of the main force in 1916. This brought me out on the Dublin road east of Athenry. A couple of miles further down I saw the lodge and a long avenue behind it. The woman at the gate invited me to take the track across her land to Moyode, and as I had no doubt it was the route followed, I complied. Through another gate, across a small road, the avenue could be followed further south, and soon I saw a ruined keep or castle on the left (Jordan had told me in Athenry that Mellows took a great interest in these antiquities. The Tourist Board were having the Athenry castle restored. Barrett disapproved. “Those things were built to keep the Irish out,” he said). Opposite were the ruins of Moyode, the house. A man in his early sixties came out. He lived in a small house within the ruins and had been cutting hay. He recalled the encampment and the sequel – artillery placed on the hill beside the castle and trained on Moyode, then owned by the Guinness family, but vacant or unused at the time. He remarked that this was a historic spot for other reasons. Hadn’t Sarsfield passed this way, and a few miles away twenty-five thousand men, no less, had been killed in one day. “And it was hard work killing a man in those days,” he added, “not like it is today with those atom bombs.”
As I prepared to leave, as it was raining heavily, he concluded, “Well, you’ve been in Moyode. And the best thing you can do now is to go away to Dublin and apply for a pension. For many of them who got one were in it no longer than you.” I went on towards Craughwell through the woods, but turned over the railway bridge and made for Cloghanee, Toberbracken and Clarinbridge. Mrs Fleming was there – but owing to the rain her husband had driven to Athenry thinking I was arriving on the evening train. He came back soon enough, and after a meal we went over to Burkes, the “oyster pub”. There I was introduced to an old man, “one of the richest men here”, who certainly didn’t look it. He claimed to have met Mellows at Rahasane to conduct him to Killeeneen after he had been at Kilchreest. Mellows had been at Killeeneen before, but was coming an unfamiliar way. Fleming confirmed what Barrett had said, that owing to the intensity of feeling between the UIL [United Irish League] and Sinn Fein in Craughwell, a number of UIL traders locked themselves up with the police in the barracks. Kenny and some of the leftists wanted to attack the town but Mellows said, “Our only enemy is England.” This displeased Kenny who had been counselling defeat on his various appearances mounted on a white pony. Hence the men passed to the east of Craughwell, as the men at Moyode also said. There seems to have been a class issue here as the leaders of UIL were the larger traders in the town, the Sinn Feiners artisans and small farmers. The two men then spoke of the truce period “when we had no government at all”, and poteen was sold openly in the pubs, which stayed open till 2 am.
We spoke of Killeeneen. Fleming’s father was out and he recalls Neilan bringing the mobilisation order. Tea was almost ready. The father and six sons got up and walked out in the pouring rain. They spent the night of Monday 24 April 1916, not sleeping, but walking and talking in Killeeneen old school. The parish hall was very small and when used for dances was crowded. But this was not where they stayed that night.
June 27 Saturday (Clarinbridge): The Flemings were anxious that I should accompany them into Galway city where they went for provisions, but readily agreed when I pointed out that my interest was more local than looking at a distant monument. So at George’s suggestion I cycled to Kilcolgan and called at the Post Office, which is in the charge of Martin Neilan. I was directed down a by-road which led past a “castle” (modern style) and there I found him with his old car, carrying buckets of milk to feed calves. I spent the whole morning with him. He described the discussions in Mrs Walshe’s house on Monday 24 April 1916, and the decision to mobilise. Neilan was asked by Mellows to write an order but decided to go personally. He brought about 70 from Clarinbridge, Kilcolgan and part of the parish of Athenry which is adjacent. Padhraig Fahy was sent to Kinvara to order Fr O’Meehan to mobilise. It was his capture, reported by those who had driven him there by car, that ended a long indecision. “We’ll get somebody for Padhraig,” said Mellows, whence the attack on Clarinbridge and the barricade against police coming from Kilcolgan, as was expected, bringing Fahy with them. Actually he was taken to Limerick.
He confirmed the circuit of Craughwell but said that this was subject also to broader strategic considerations. Mellows had in mind following Sarsfield’s route southwards, linking with or racing the Clare Volunteers and possibly marching on Limerick. But he doubted if the parish hall of Killeeneen was yet built in 1917. He thought also that the men were accommodated in peoples’ houses. The dances likewise would be held in one house or another as was the old custom.
Beside the place where he had his calves was a ruined church, which he said was in use – no doubt subject to periodical renovations – from the year 541 to 1731 – or thereabout. Then the landowner turned Protestant and moved the whole village to its present site where he established the Protestant church. In the churchyard, overgrown with weeds and nettles, brambles and saplings of all kinds, he showed me a slab on which was inscribed the name of Jenkinson Heath, who died aged 25 in the year 1841. He was from Co.Tyrone. Neilan told me that he had been employed by the Ordnance Survey and was mistaken by the local tenants for a process-server bringing a writ for the landlord. This, said Neilan, might have been expected to afford them pleasure. Their arch-enemy, who wrung every ounce from them for their tiny holdings and miserable hovels, was in difficulties himself. Instead they way-laid young Heath, beat him and waving aside his papers and protests, killed him. His mother came from Tyrone, placed the stone there, and her curse on the townland is remembered to this day.
We stayed some time at that spot. Neilan spoke of the return of the ascendancy, and how much they are made of by the Government. Haughey [Minister for Justice, later Taoiseach] will hunt with them, then they will meet the local head Garda and say, “I was with your boss, yesterday – told him you were all right.” Their arrogance is unabated, and perhaps foolishly he surmised, they hunt out all the vestigial unionists from their holes, and they too begin to show their old arrogance. He had been a teacher in Swindon before the First World War and told an anecdote of the time just after it started. A preacher in the city square turned to the attack on Catholicism, and an Irish solider knocked him off the platform. He and another Irish teacher kicked his box away and all adjourned to a pub – the crowd having dispersed “like sheep when three greyhounds were let loose among them”. He struck me as reasonably fair – he gave a balanced account of Kenny, said he had good points as an organiser, but was a supreme egotist. Before we left it occurred to me to enquire if he had ever brought Mellows to the same spot. “Several times,” he said ,”I stood talking to him where we are standing now.”
After lunch George Fleming offered to drive me to Killeeneen. Before doing so he called across the road to a man of about 40 years of age called Denis 0’Connell and offered to take him “for the spin”. As we passed a turlough near Kilcolgan, O’Connell was talking about eels and getting a boat to catch them. I thought we had with us a great fisherman and decided not to display my ignorance. We went through Rinn to Killeeneen and I took photographs of the ruins of the Walshe’s tiny cottage and adjoining school. of which only a wall remains, saw the parish hall, now a cattle shed, and concurred in both of their opinions that this was built earlier than 1917. We then went to the new school (not the present one) and Fleming recalled that guns were hidden in the rafters and that Neilan broke two holes in the ceiling getting them out. The housekeeper was told the RIC had raided the place for arms and this set the priest against the RIC. George Fleming and his father had built the school in 1917 – I think he said it cost £140, or some astonishingly low figure. He was very upset that somebody had broken the windows, and indeed not pleased that it had fallen into disuse.
Over tea Fleming told me that O’Donnell knew nothing about fishing. He had sold a grand little farm of 24 acres for £1500, and being unmarried, did not work. He had a fancy to turn fisherman and bought rods and reels in Galway but had not the slightest idea how to use them. His money would soon be gone for periodically he “went on the booze”. We took him out again later, this time to Limepark. The degree to which drink is assumed as an accompaniment to driving is quite striking. “I think all these little bends that are left when they straighten the road should be blocked up,” he remarked “Look at the way the cars park there, and somebody could easily come along, boozed, and run into them.” “That happens,” said George Fleming.
When we got to Limepark we found Pete Howley, tall, bony and angular, with his wife and six children, the two oldest boys less than twenty, the other four girls down to a baby of two. He described the position of his old house and indicated the escape route. I forgot to ask him however what arrangements he had made before he was arrested. We stopped at Kilcolgan on the way back for the inevitable “small one”. O’Connell would have kept us there all night. “I’m driving a car,” said Fleming firmly. Then later, when we were alone in Burkes, he said, “I hope that doesn’t set him on the booze”.
June 28 Sunday (Clarinbridge): Despite my protestations that it was not necessary, George Fleming insisted on tying my bicycle to the back of his car and taking me to the railway bridge above Craughwell. I was to see “The Hare”, Pat Callinane. The name is nothing to do with speed – an uncle was engaged in some litigation over a farm and announced that “I’m going to make my nephew Pat my heir”, with an audible aitch. The name stuck, though its origin and significance were lost. But Fleming did not think it wise to take me all the way, for Callinane had “turned Free State” and didn’t like members of Fianna Fail. The advent of the motor car has revised people’s ideas of cycling as of walking – and some of them have yet to count the cost to their health.
I found “The Hare’s” house, which was as dark and gloomy as it had been described. A son directed me across the road to the wife’s place. She has arthritis or some such sickness. He came out, very cordial. In my anxiety to disassociate myself from Fianna Fail, I introduced myself as “from England”, and this made him hesitant – or it may have been he would have been hesitant anyway. Fleming assured me he was without guile. But he did tell me about Kenny, whom he described as a “communist”, and that the priests had him removed from the charge of the GAA. Callinane confirmed that he had been in the USA and went there on board the Strathfillan with Kenny and Corbett. What I did not realise till now was that though they sailed after Mellows, they arrived sooner, and Kenny’s press statement which I could not trace was made before Mellows got there. “The Hare” allowed himself some mildly patronising remarks about Mellows being a “Dublin man”, who did not get close to the people till men like himself helped him, and added that he was active as far back as 1908-1910, in the land struggle and the IRB. Neilan had stated that the land struggle was an essential part of the background of the Rising, that the young farmers saw the landlord, the agent, the process-server and the police as one united conspiracy to prevent them getting that extra bit of land that would turn poverty into frugal comfort. Here was more evidence. Neilan had also said that the difference between the Rising in Dublin and the Rising in Galway was the difference between Thomas Davis and Fintan Lalor. Neilan, by the way, is the only man I have so far met here who can attempt a social generalisation. That is, of course, thanks to his education.
I left “The Hare” and cycled back to Moyode, found the road that by-passes Craughwell, though I am not absolutely certain that they went the two-mile detour its use would indicate, and then followed the route through Shanalogh, Creag Castle, and along the ridge overlooking the Kilchreest-Peterswell valley, to Grannagh and Rahaly Castle. I indentified the start of the escape route and pushed on through Peterswell to Gort. It was then 4 pm. and I had tea at Glynn’s Hotel, returning towards Clarinbridge along the main road as far as Tullyra.
A car was parked by the big gates. I was rather surprised when its occupants – taking me for a tourist – asked if I was looking for the Castle. I went to Fahy’s house. He did not invite me in but returned quickly to the house and brought out a paper which contained a report of his brother’s death. Sean was the brother Cathal and I went to see with the Fahys at Ballycahalan. Then he explained what had happened to make him so distraught. Yesterday a car speeding from Shannon Airport to some place in Mayo had knocked his little grandson from his toy bicycle and cracked his skull against the wall. The bloodstain was still on the road. The youngster was in Galway hospital, his life in the balance. Mrs Fahy came out of the son’s house and after a while we went in there and had a cup of tea. Naturally the discussion of today was disjointed, though they were glad enough to turn their attention to something new.
Part of the trouble was that Padhraig Fahy has aged, and his wife has not. So I heard the story of the ructions on the Memorial Committee of which Fahy was secretary, how Neilan made criticisms of the sculpture design without seeing it, and how he declined to attend the committee. Practically everybody, Neilan, Jordan, Barrett, were distorting history to glorify themselves. “Why wouldn’t you write down the truth yourself?” she asked her husband, “when you’ve such a good memory.” I saw the pictures of Sean South and O’Hanlon on the wall and suspected the alleged misrepresentatives of history were Fianna Fail to a man. Any deficiencies in her husband’s memory she was able to make up. For example she said that when in Tulla, Mellows stayed with the McKennas, cousins of hers (she is a Clare woman). “I thought he stayed in a hut” said old Padhraig, a little timidly. She then claimed that one of the same family, in the Convent of Mercy, Corofin, provided the nun’s habit which Mellows disguised himself with. However, Fahy did tell me the name of the taxi driver who took Mellows from Corofin to Cork and gave some circumstantial detail that helps with the picture. Miss Barry was summarily dismissed from it by Mrs Fahy, and the numbers in the taxi were given as six – three priests, two real nuns, and Mellows dressed as a nun. They suggested I should call on John O’Keefe, cousin of Sean MacNamara, now deceased, and on a man called Frank Brew at Tubber, who would have known Fogarty. Of Corbett, Mrs Fahy said he was a “touchy, jealous man”. Fahy said he met Mellows last in 1922 when he went to Tulla to promote the paper, An tOglach,that he was editing. From Tulla Mellows had gone to Kilfenora.
When I got back to Clarinbridge I mentioned that Fahy felt Pat Neilan’s account of 1916 was not accurate. About ten minutes later he came to me confidentially and said, “I think the truth of the matter is that Padhraig is really Sinn Fein.” He then gave his side of the dispute on the committee – Mrs Fahy had done all the talking though not a member of the committee. This was because Padhraig is getting “old and stupid” and she had to do the secretarial work. The others ceased attending rather than fight it out with her. Mrs Fleming added her own motto, even less charitable in effect. “Foolish boys” was their dictum on the last IRA disturbances and it was remarked that though Fahy’s sons were ardent Sinn Feiners, none of them showed any signs of crossing the border.
June 29 Monday (Clarinbridge/Kinvara): I finally took my leave of the Flemings, who made me most welcome, and cycled to Peterswell through Kilcolgan, Tourlough Cross, Caranavoodaun, Castle Taylor, Cregaclare and Rahally Castle. Then I turned up to Ballycahalan, this time being free from the confinement of a motor car leaving an opportunity to take in what I saw. I found the field where the camp was but wondered how people slept there when it was so marshy, and there also was old Sean Fahy’s empty house, with its curiously shaped chimney, its rotting sheds, and garden not yet weed-ridden but a mass of white flowers. I went into the field Padhraig Fahy showed us, from which he pointed out the direction of Hoode’s barn. I decided to go down to Lough Acalla, as Fahy yesterday said the fugitives crossed the north end of the lake. I suspected that they would cross by the road at the south end. When I got there I found a strange sight. The road had been widened and loose rubble tipped on such a scale that it seemed obvious that this point was liable to severe flooding. I went a short distance up the road in an easterly direction but found nothing of interest, so returned.
On the causeway, for such it seemed, a man who had been cutting hay slowly approached as I photographed the dense rushes and reeds by the lake shore. He wanted a match. Judging him to be a local man I started, “I wonder if you guessed why I was taking that photograph”. “Why?” “Well, in the period after the Rising in 1916, Liam Mellows crossed the end of this lake”. He became interested at once. “I have only today planted mangolds in the place where he slept”. He showed me where the old house had been by the shore of the lake which he called Druminaloch lake – thus giving me one of the names mentioned by Monahan [ie. Ailbhe O Monnchain] – and I asked him, “Would you be one of the Corless family?” He was. Patsy Corless was his uncle, and he has the farm. He told me that about 20 years after 1916 he had found Mellows’s wallet where it had apparently been dumped. He had shown it to the schoolmaster in Kilbecanty and the Connaught Tribune had published an article on its discovery. Apart from the newspaper cuttings nothing could be deciphered. It seemed t be a list of names, abbreviated or in code. He also told me where Hoode’s barn was to be found, by the side of a farm held by people called Kennedy. The “causeway” was of recent origin. The road had been narrow until last year, when a hole thirty feet deep appeared as a result of the caving in of a subterranean cavern. Lorries were two hours tipping rubble into it. The lake was, of course, a Turlough and both fed and drained subterraneously.
I went up the side of the mountain, noting the change from limestone to orange-yellow sandstone. There were two farms. At the further one not a soul was to be seen, though there was a wisp of smoke higher up the mountain – possibly where the barn was. As I passed the lower one which had also been deserted a boy of about fourteen pushed up a bicycle. But I did not ask him. I think I have a fair idea of the position now. I went down to Gort, where I had tea again at Glynns, and then went on to Durrus House, the Youth Hostel near Kinvara.
Those present indicated present tendencies very sharply. One was an Australian in a car. He had an expensive valise, a huge transistor radio, a camera surely worth £100 and an electric razor that contained an accumulator. And his attire was suitable for a garden party. Yet when he started to eat his baked beans he had to borrow a fork from a Dublin boy, who with his equally be-jeaned girl had come on a scooter and seen nothing of the country apart from the main roads. There were also two County Tyrone girls, from TCD I think, who were scrounging their way round Ireland. They had less than £1 each and were living on tea and biscuits. The two scooters, however, coming from the working class district of Cabra, at least fed well and cooked rather sausagy meals which while not particularly appetizing or health-promoting were at least substantial.
June 30 Tuesday (Kinvara): I went to Corranroo, Carran and Corofin, crossing part of the famous Burren limestone district. I was directed to a rather pokey little restaurant on the Gort road opposite a church. After the meal I asked the proprietress if the church opposite was the Catholic Church. It was. The Protestant one was up the road. Could she tell me if this was the church where Fr Crowe was parish priest. It was – indeed he was buried right in front of us in the third of the three graves in the courtyard. I went to look at it and noted the date of his death. The inscription said he was parish priest for 24 years – since he died in 1955 he could not have been parish priest in 1916. I went back to Gort and so on to Kinvara. To my surprise there were three Glasgow cyclists there, the two elder in their late thirties, the youngest about 21. They read the plaques relating to Yeats and seemed very civilised. Next came two Birmingham boys also on bicycles. They were nice enough lads though they had nothing much in their heads. But later came the inevitable motorists. One of them came to a little cottage where I got milk last night and went again tonight and asked if there was a hostel near.
As I was about to go I decided to ask the old man – crippled with arthritis – about Fr Meehan. Did he know him? Suddenly he was transformed. “Why wouldn’t I? He was my commandant when we were fighting for the independence of our country.” He had been taken to Fron Goch from Wormwood Scrubs and was not released till Christmas 1916. His son, about 35, who had worked in Harlesden, said to him, “You didn’t do much.” “We did a bit.”
I wondered what was the train of thought in the son’s mind, so asked if he liked London. “When you work there,” he said, “you finish at five o’clock.” “Ay,” said the father, the mother apparently being dead, “But you don’t lie in bed till ten in the morning.” The son was just washing to go for his relaxation. I gathered that the warden was a Leitrim man, 20 years in the British Army and then resident in Dublin. His relaxation was drink – or so his republican critics implied.
The three motorists, all aged 20-25, went off without food. Just before midnight they burst in to the dormitory, smoking, swearing and shouting. They grabbed blankets, rolled themselves up in them, not even troubling to undress, and within minutes were snoring in drunken slumber. From their accents they came from Yorkshire, Sheffield or Leeds.
July 1 Wednesday (Kinvara/Limerick/Dublin): The three ruffians drove off again early. The Scotsmen then allowed themselves some observations on the character of the “auld enemy”. One of them asked if there were any landlords left in Ireland. I explained the position and he remarked, “We could do with a bit of a Land Commission in Scotland.” I told him I knew the Highlands well, and entirely concurred. Though when I insisted to some of our people in London that the Highland question is an agrarian one, they showed no interest at all. They told me that they had been transferred from Glasgow to work in the linen trade in Belfast. My impression was that such immigration does no harm. Everything they said showed an interest in the country.
I went to the strand, very rocky, but with good views over Galway Bay, and then cycled to Moy, Tulla, Tubber and Crusheen. At first I thought of looking for O’Keefe. As I sat on the bank in the long grass eating sandwiches a girl passed. I asked if she knew or had heard of O’Keefe. She thought he lived down by the Railway Station. Had she ever heard of Sean MacNamara? She pointed to a low thatched cottage about twenty yards away and said that that was the MacNamara’s cottage. Accordingly I went over there, and asked if Sean MacNamara had lived there. The man of about 50 who came to the door said he was Sean MacNamara’s nephew. His father, Michael, had helped to get Mellows away. Sean had been born in this house but moved before 1916. This house was the HQ of the Volunteers from 1916 onwards. I enquired if he knew where O’Brien’s Castle was, and he indicated it was on the road to Tulla which I intended to travel. He told me Sean MacNamara’s son is a national teacher at Ballieruan.
I went to O’Brien’s Castle, then went on to the main Ennis-Tulla road, crossed it, passed East of Quin and rode into Limerick at about 5 pm. The train for Dublin left at 6.30 pm., and I was at Cathal’s by 9.3O. He was out having a drink with Cyril next door but came in about 11.30. They commented on my sunburnt appearance – I had not had a full-length mirror for days. When I looked in it, face, hands and knees were bright red. I will never persuade anybody that I need a holiday!
Helga told me about Desmond Logan’s valedictory party. Tony Coughlan, Roy Johnston, Cathal were there with O’Leary of the TUC [Michael O’Leary, then an Irish Congress of Trade Unions official, later a Labour TD and Minister]. He told how he had prevented Sean Dunne getting some union contribution to his election campaign. When Cathal came in he confirmed that the party consisted of the usual Dublin tittle-tattling with as much constructive thought as would be found in a bottle of vinegar.
July 2 Thursday (Dublin): I spent the day working over the materials secured in the west. In the evening I attended a meeting of the organisation [Sceim na gCeardchumann] set up by Tony Coughlan, Packy Early and others for introducing the Gaelic language and “Irish Irelandism” into the Trade Union movement, and a very queer outfit it seemed. The chair was taken by the most incredible waffler I have ever seen. He would sometimes have three distinct resolutions with attendant amendments on his hands, or rather in the air, at one time. The dashing young Cork man Michael O’Leary who used to come to the West London Connolly Association with Cal O’Herlihy in the Working Men’s Association rooms, was secretary and gave a glowing account of work done. Every other member of the committee gave a report and thanks and compliments were distributed to the remotest corners of the movement. But amid the back-slapping there were mysterious references to “dog-fights” on the committee which had “almost come to blows”. Sitting at the back of the room on a table were the opposition, in its centre Geraghty, who was concerned with Andy O’Neill in the attempt to smash the Connolly Association in 1957-59. His brother [Desmond Geraghty] had been social secretary and spoke Irish at length, very well, very fluently and easily. He was the frank open Dublin boy. His elder brother was stocky and stolid, with his conceit less embellished by playing the film star. Donal Donnelly, whom I met at Packy Early’s and previously at a Sinn Fein meeting in Cork when he was there, introduced the first note of division into the sugary language which marked the early part of the proceedings. He objected on principle (ie. on prejudice) to the adoption of a written constitution and fought long and hard. How could they adopt one, anyway, since they had no membership. It was voted by the non-members present that this constitution be adopted and that all who signed their names to it at the end of the proceedings were to be deemed members. Meanwhile they transacted the business of the meeting, which grew increasingly acrimonious. Mairin was there but did not speak. Packy Early tried to bring the Chairman to a decision. When the question of electing the committee for the coming year arose a blackboard was brought in by one of the Geraghtys, after which proposals were taken and names were written in chalk. “They’ll be here till midnight,” I whispered to Cathal and persuaded him to move the retention of the existing committee en bloc. Ned Stapleton supported this, O’Leary followed, and Barry Desmond added his weight. After about fifteen minutes the proposition was accepted for discussion, Geraghty (not the London one, now a fireman) protesting every inch of the way. It was done however, and Cathal and I left. How many other items remained to be discussed I do not know. But I suspect some Trotskyite game is afoot. My impression is however that this movement will not come to anything as no person of much consequence in the Labour Movement is in it.
July 3 Friday (Dublin): I spent some time in the National Library. In the evening Roy Johnston and Mairin came up to Finglas. There is not much tolerance in Mairin and Des Logan and then Tony Coughlan came in for it when she gave her opinion. She confirmed that Trotsky influence is rife in this “Sceim”. She, and they followed her, said Tony Coughlan behaves in a very erratic way. He feels his intellectual superiority to O’Leary and Desmond who come to him to have their speeches written. But they have the interesting jobs and are making their way towards the Dail by easy stages. Tony on the other hand has been given a position on the permanent staff of TCD (which makes Roy a little jealous, as he would love that) and seems cast in the role of onlooking don. So Tony shows himself simultaneously most capable at politics and too honest for them – since he demands also comfort and a “respectable” job. This presumably explains his alternation between prudence and rashness. The best thing the ruling class would do for us would be to victimise him. They’d have a formidable enemy on their hands, I imagine. But if they don’t do that, they’ll tame him given time.
July 4 Saturday (Dublin): I went into town with Cathal and saw Nolan and had a drink with Tadhg Egan, still in good spirits. Then in the evening I went out to see Packy Early and met the usual people who are to be found there. Packy conceived the notion of going to Stillorgan for a drink because a huge new bar was opened two days ago there. This planted me many miles from home at 10.25 pm. – but a ‘bus caught at 10.50 had me in Burgh Quay by 11.5 by dint of the most extraordinarily reckless driving, which however was nothing to that of the cars on the road. Everyone seems to go mad on a Saturday night. I learned something I desired to know, namely that Donal Donnelly has broken with the Republicans over some disagreement. But he has taken his sectishness with him and could easily fall a prey to Geraghty’s crowd.
July 5 Sunday (Dublin): I called on Peadar O’Donnell in the morning and remained to lunch. He urged me to see Mrs Tom Clarke as he thinks Mellows must have stayed with the Dalys in Limerick. He is now “trying to forget” his illness but must take care. While in hospital he was visited by De Valera who told him that Arthur Griffith withdrew his nomination as president of the new Sinn Fein in 1917 as a result of a direct demand by De Valera. “What about Plunkett?” asked Griffith. “Either Plunkett or I would do,” was the reply. De Valera says that he represented that a republican must hold the position. He has been told that given care he can live three to five years and is always wishing he could go to the West and lead the fight of the small farms. The limitations of his new situation have affected his personality, and the expression of personal vanity no longer crosses his features. He instructed the hospital authorities during his illness that his body should lie in no Dublin church, since these refused the 77 IRA men in 1924. After two days at his home his remains should be taken down country and buried without ceremony. His grand-daughter from America was there, aged 4, with two others aged 4 and 2. The American didn’t want the little boy on the garden seat. “There is no room.” “You must share,” said the old man, reading her a little lecture. “We don’t have to share,” she replied somewhat aggrieved. “That’s the little American,” said Peadar to me – and I thought him a little prejudiced. At lunch it was announced they were all going to Donegal.
“We should go to New York first,” said the little girl.
“Because then I could bring my swimming pool.”
“There’s one in Donegal,” said Peadar, “The biggest in the world.”
“But it isn’t mine, and mine is a big one.”
So he was right – and must have suffered plenty of it.
For the rest of the day I tried unsuccessfully to contact other people.
July 6 Monday (Dublin): Whereas all went swiftly in the west all goes slowly in Dublin. It was evening before I at last caught Eamonn Martin on the phone and got from him the address of Mrs Tom Clarke and Seamus O’Connor’s sister. Father Martin [ie. Fr FX Martin, the historian] had written to me suggesting I contact O’Connor. Eamonn Martin told me that he was an old IRB man who was not out in 1916.
On the way into town in the morning a young man stopped me by Fingal House. He was wearing a Fianna badge and turned out to be the lad who used to run the Fianna in London. He is now working full-time for them in the United Irishman office. He lives in Finglas and knows Jack McCabe.
In the evening I found little Egon more than usually excited. He was muttering imprecations on some “bold boy” who turned out to be a little bully aged nine who lives down the cul-de-sac. Conor had told Helga how in some dispute about playthings Egon had come to blows and apparently got the worst of it, since he is not yet six and small for his age. “Feel my muscles,” said Egon to me. “I’m eating Weetabix. It makes you strong”. A few minutes later Conor and another youngster about Egon’s age appeared. “Eat Weetabix,” says Egon, “I’ll get you some”. The contents of the packet were quickly divided and milk and sugar prepared. Then the three set off to the field like a little army. I went out, not to interfere, but just to see if there were signs of things going too far. A few minutes later I saw a very crestfallen youngster making his way to the cul-de-sac. A couple of minutes later came the triumphant army, Conor aged four slightly in the rear, which then proceeded into enemy territory and paraded up and down the cul-de-sac for several minutes. Later Conor told Helga how they had gone to the field and seen the offender and all jumped on him so that he ran away crying!
I went to Barringtons in the evening, and met his daughter, a history student who said that she read my book on Connolly and told Sceilg’s son what I said about his father – some quotation I made. “I’m sure he didn’t say that,” said the dutiful son “but, mind, it’s the sort of thing he would say.”
July 7 Tuesday (London): From nine thirty in the morning till 10.30 at night I was travelling from Dublin to London. There was a gale and driving rain. Everything was late. Many people were sick, and arrangements were as bad as possible. When I reached the office I found Peter Mulligan was there.
July 8 Wednesday (London): In the morning Sean Redmond told me that one of the Republicans had been in to see him and foreshadowed the discontinuance of Sinn Fein. He said that the Trafalgar Square thing was woeful [ie. the meeting held there by Sinn Fein], less than a hundred on a magnificent day. The speakers were poor, one of them being Daly of Huddersfield.
July 9 Thursday (London): We had a visit from Toni Curran, who is away to Belfast tomorrow. Those who are coming with me are Chris Sullivan, Jim Argue, Jack Lalor and Robbie Rossiter (making us three). Forces are badly depleted for the paper sales as Sean Redmond goes to a party school on Saturday.
July 10 Friday (London): Nothing much happened. But Chris Sullivan came in to lunch and told us that that rat Pat O’Neill is liable to have a writ served on him and that if it is, then the scandal of Haxell [relating to election ballot-rigging in the Electrical Trades Union in 1961] will be put in the halfpenny place. Sean Redmond and I said he would skip to Ireland. We went to Camden Town and found the pubs full of disgusted postmen, half drunk.
July 11 Saturday (London): I was in the office in the morning and there saw Sean Redmond who left for the school at Hastings. Chris Sullivan explained that the O’Neill thing was essentially one of “fiddling” large sums of expenses. He thought it was extraditable. Chris, Jim Argue, John Lalor and I then met at Euston and went to Liverpool where we boarded the ship for Belfast [to view and report on the 12 July Orange marches]. Lalor has started to sprout a beard – a nuisance as we can’t go on “diplomatic” visits. He is very much the “modern youth” – but then few people bouncing with rude health look beyond enjoying it.
July 12 Sunday (Belfast): On arrival I rang Jack Bennett. Caughey had been ringing Sean Redmond during the week about a case in Ballycastle he is involved in. A writ was served alleging he had “used insulting words and behaviour” at a meeting where he sang the Soldiers’ Song through a loud-hailer. He wanted an NCCL observer. They said they would send McCartney, and he said he preferred Hostettler but not from the Connolly Association. Jack Bennett advised me to contact Frank McGlade [a veteran Belfast Republican]. I took Jim Argue to his hotel opposite the GWR station while the others went to Margaret Murray’s [widow of veteran CPNI leader Sean Murray]. At midday we met Robbie Rossiter who had stayed last night in Dublin. He had seen Pax Whelan while in Dungarvan. While he went up to Margaret Murray’s I went up the Oldpark Road to McGlades. He lives in a small Catholic enclave of five or six streets, with walls abutting on waste land well decorated with Republican slogans. His wife, a lively woman in her late thirties, sent for him and he told me I could meet Sean Caughey this afternoon at a Republican Election committee meeting. McGlade would belong to the grade of unskilled workers, I would imagine. The essentially proletarian character of the Republican population is notable. I was very amicably received.
After meeting the boys I had lunch with them in the Whitehall Restaurant. Coming down Ann Street we heard bands and caught sight of banners. We quickened our steps and a half-crippled old man well oiled with whiskey shouted after us, “Yer all happy and smiling now, aren’t yeh? Well go home and get yer mother to bless yeh. Ye’ll need it.” To be happy and smiling is apparently the unmistakeable stigma of the Papist. So many banners went by that I found it hard to convince the boys that the real display was tomorrow. However, a van-driver assured us that this was merely a fragment. We went up to Brown Square and took photographs. Then I went to see Caughey. He was only able to come out for a minute, but while I waited Mrs McGlade plied me with tea and sandwiches and invited us all up to the house on Tuesday. Caughey introduced me to Tom Mitchell, a slightly stern but personable young man with clear marks of leadership about him. Later we went up to Caughey’s house. When we knocked the door was opened and two young men left as we entered – they did not greet us and I imagine they did not want to. We had a long discussion with Caughey. He will not attend the court nor pay the fine if it is imposed. Perhaps on such a farcical matter it is as well, but he wants us to send observers but does not want “officially” to have anything to do with us. Also it is proposed to hold a demonstration next Sunday, after deliberately refraining from notifying the police. The tricolour will be flown and arrests are expected. Apparently this was decided this afternoon. While not criticising anything they had determined to do, I said I hesitated at sending an observer to a show without punch, and I urged them to realise that in these new days, Stormont can be defeated politically, and after that is done Republicanism can make its claim on the immediate suffrage of the people. I said nothing about Sunday next, as they may cancel it. Sean Caughey did not seem too happy about going to jail, but was determined enough. As we walked down to the bus stop the two young fellows who had come out of the house when we went in, came back in the direction of the house. Caughey is in Antrim and was leaving by car, so I imagine he will take them there. At night Jack Bennett said the Republican Election Committee is like the Nationalist Convention – a gathering of individuals without party discipline, and not necessarily members of anything. He guessed Mitchell’s appearance meant that the Tyrone crux was being discussed. He spoke ruefully of not being on the committee himself and hinted that Caughey wanted him off it. Two years ago, indeed less, he was loudly and uncritically chanting Caughey’s praises. Now he says he is an erratic individualist, though genuine in his principles and is tolerated mainly because of his executive ability. I have now more than ever the feeling that Jack Bennett has left the working class movement permanently behind him, and he has now acquired that shiftiness of argument that marks people who are secretly ashamed.
July 13 Monday (Belfast): We watched the Orange walk for a half hour, then went for a drink. Two hours later we returned and saw the end of it. After lunch we went up Cave Hill but were much annoyed by young lunatics on motorbikes driving over the tracks and open country. Even motor cars are now driving across fell country here; it is impossible to get away from the things. Happily we saw one of the young rascals come off and hurt himself, but not half enough. The day was hot with a streaming south wind. When we saw the return procession in the evening one or two of the banners were ripped down the centre. It seemed to be generally conceded that feelings were less inflamed than at any time in the past, but there was no easy disposition to accept the highly qualified declarations of goodwill to all men the Prime Minister [ie. Captain Terence O’Neill] delivered this afternoon. After all the BBC and Telefis Eireann were there.
July 14 Tuesday (Belfast): Jim Argue left for Bailieborough, his home in Co. Cavan. He has an extremely sharp head, and one can’t help thinking of him as a city man. He came to London about seven years ago when about 17 or 18 years old. Three years ago he was active in the Legion of Mary in Hammersmith, then joining the Labour Party and the Connolly Association. His weakness is a certain attachment to drink; though he is never the worse for it, he can miss an appointment.
In the afternoon we went to Bangor and returned in time to call up to McGlades. There is a bush telegraph there. Within ten minutes of our arrival about a dozen local Republicans arrived; Mrs McGlade had tea and pie and sandwiches and we were entertained royally. I was very pleased at this, since these people are the Republican “die-hards”, and very fine people too. McGlade is an old friend of Joe Deighan’s.
After that we called to Jack Bennett’s father-in-law. In the morning the boys went to Stormont while I visited Margaret Murray.
July 15 Wednesday (Belfast): We went to Derry via Portadown, and walked around the town, meeting a Queen’s student with a fainne [ie. the lapel ring indicating an Irish language speaker] on the hill over Waterside, who pointed out the distribution of the wards. He had just come from a Gaelic festival in Dungarvan – or had been there last year, I forget which – and this greatly interested Robbie Rossiter. Then we returned along the coast, passing the abominable shanty-town that the coast of Derry has been converted into.
July 16 Thursday (Belfast/Liverpool): We had a talk with Betty Sinclair in her office [Secretary of Belfast Trades Council and leading CPNI member]. Chris Sullivan subjected her to a searching examination, much to my amusement, and touched off that latent Protestantism which sometimes but not always sleeps beneath the surface. Robbie Rossiter tackled her and said she was “struggling like an eel”. Of course they made no allowances for her, as I would. And then after tea at Margaret Murray’s we caught the Liverpool ship.
July 17 Friday (Liverpool): Young Lalor made for London, looking for women, Robbie Rossiter and Chris Sullivan went to Manchester, and I went over to see Phyllis [His sister, living in their family home at 124 Mount Road, Birkenhead]. She is in good enough form but stands to lose her status as a head teacher because the Liverpool Corporation are rushing through their “comprehensive schools” programme for political reasons. She will not lose her salary but is thinking of moving. Of late years she has become rather conservative in outlook, but this change in circumstance has reversed the process to a slight extent. She is going to Finland in a few days time.
July 18 Saturday (Manchester): There was a violent thunderstorm which postponed Phyllis’s departure for her cottage in Salop, so she ran me down to Rock Ferry and I went to Manchester.
July 19 Sunday (Manchester): The second thunderstorm, late last night, was followed by a grey drizzly day and the Platts Field meeting was not very well attended. The 50 or so who were there had come specially. In the evening there was a social in Moss Side. I stayed with Tom Redmond again and the McClellands were there with their little daughter aged four who was born in Manchester. The silly wife is telling her she is English while they are Irish, and I roundly ticked them off. She is a lively little thing with a great Belfast accent.
July 20 Monday (London): I went to see Arnison at Rusholme Road [Jim Arnison of the Manchester CPGB], then caught the 12.25 to London. Sean Redmond was in the office. He was very pleased with the school. That sleeveen Hosey from Coventry was there. How cowardly to declare himself against Irish national independence but parading his pure socialism till he made everybody tired of him, which was good. There was a shemozzle in Hyde Park yesterday. Joe Deighan was on the platform when Dalton (alias McQuaid) pushed his way through the crowd while Lawless and the two Cliffords hung around its edges. Dalton started screaming denunciations of myself and then worked round to Deighan, who was taken off his guard. He asked Joe a question in Irish which he declined to answer. Then he said his Fainne was bogus and that he could not speak Gaelic at all, adding for good measure that he was a “bastard” and a “cunt” and that he had been a police spy in Belfast. Poor Joe, who has a perverted sense of humour but little wit, spoke calmly and reasonably instead of repaying him with ridicule. A woman protested against the bad language. “Shut up, you fucking old whore,” said McQuaid (alias Dalton). At that point somebody in the crowd brought the police and at Dalton’s next explosion he was taken off, whether to be charged or not we don’t know. The crowd was upset. The Irish felt they had been disgraced, and the ill-feeling transferred itself to Joe whose platform had received some blows, especially when the drunken “Ulster Nationalist” tried to pull down the flag. Peter Mulligan tried to put him hors de combat unseen but failed. Somebody said, “You’re drunk.” “If I am, I pay for it myself,” he shouted. So in the end Joe Deighan got down discomfited saying that even James Connolly had been knocked off his platform. Sean Redmond came back from his cup of tea, brought things round, and when Peter Mulligan got up all was well. But Joe, who had been calm before the multitude, now revealed himself badly shaken and informed the members, waving his fist, that that organ would find its way into Dalton’s face if ever he met him on his rounds.
July 21 Tuesday (London): We spent the day getting everything in order for Seán’s departure tomorrow. He spent the week-end mending his bicycle, and tomorrow he goes to Cathal’s [ie. Cathal MacLiam’s in Dublin] for a few days. In the evening Peter Mulligan came in and I heard more about Sunday’s schemozzle. It is reasonably clear that Joe Deighan did not handle it too skilfully. He may now realise that politics in London is rougher than in Manchester, something he formerly doubted.
July 22 Wednesday (London): Realising that it is impossible to use the post to send copy to Derby, I had to rush the paper through at a record pace and finished it about midnight.
July 23 Thursday (London): I went to Nottingham with the copy, left it in at Ripley, then returned to London via Derby, and sent out notices for the “grand tour” Sean Redmond and I are making next month. A letter arrived from Mrs Tom Clarke.
July 24 Friday (London): A telephone call came from Jim Argue to the effect that Joe Long had been served with a summons to appear in West London Magistrates Court to answer to a charge of sticking up a poster on private property without the owner’s consent. Later Joe Long and Michael Keane came in, by which time Jim Argue and myself had been to the site and photographed an empty shop plastered with posters of all descriptions from head to foot. I engaged Hostettler and asked him to brief counsel, after that sending out an appeal for funds.
Eber came in and said he had seen the new landlord, an “airy-fairy” young man who had been left the premises on the death of his father and wants to receive the rent without having to perform any of the functions of management. He does not propose to seek an increase in the rent he receives, so that is good. But whether he has been left the outright ownership or the lease till 1966 we do not know.
In the evening I was out with Joe Deighan. whose amour propre was still affected by his discomfiture last week. He must be there tomorrow, to show he is not afraid of them. As if it mattered, as long as he was there at the times he was advertised to be there! But some explanation was forthcoming of his odd behaviour over the last year. He says the job he has to do in Ilford is the worst he has had in his life. The staff are worthless and the best of the customers dull. I had told him about this before he went there. Now he admits it is true. For Ilford is peopled with elements who just scraped out of the slums by exercising all the ugliest qualities of thrift, overtime and petty fiddling. Cooley came in, in the evening [ie. trade unionist and engineering design expert Mike Cooley].
July 26 Sunday (London): Joe Deighan went to Slough to help Cooley at midday. He came into Hyde Park and was there waiting to be asked to speak. But neither Peter Mulligan nor Bobbie Rossiter thought of asking him. Instead they put Lalor up and later on Joe was complaining of the “superiority of youth” (He meant arrogance, but used the flattering word because he wanted to go down well with his young audience). It was the typical meeting on a hot day with a holiday crowd, volatile, and needing a heavy hand to discipline it. We got rid of the B-man; then we had to get rid of photographers and tape-recorders. In the end we got peace. Gerry Curran was there, full of his trips. In the evening I went to Kilburn with Peter Mulligan. Joe Deighan complains he has rheumatism for the first time in his life. But perhaps one could say he is lucky!
July 27 Monday (London): I went to Ripley to read the proofs. The paper was in a moderately muddled state, but I caught the 5.45 pm. back by a hair’s breadth and after a brief visit to the office, went to bed early, at 11.30 pm. I got the photographs of Galway on the way to St. Pancras. Most of them are good, but a number of essential ones (presumably taken during the rain) have proved disappointing. This may mean another trip to Galway. But the obstacle to that is money. I have been rather holding back waiting for Mary Greaves’s legacy to arrive, but these things seem to take a year.
In the evening Alan Morton came for a meal. He says his slight stomach trouble has departed since he took the new job. He is much happier and hopes soon to be a Professor. Young John is 20 now! He intends to leave the University Hostel where he is living and to go into lodgings because of the unholy noise of the students, who apparently never sleep!
July 29 Wednesday (London): Later in the evening Charlie Cunningham came into the office with Peter Mulligan and told me that Hostettler had advised Michael Keane and Joe Long to plead guilty. I was not too pleased at this but must ring him and see what he proposes.
July 30 Thursday (London): I rang Hostettler who said he had explored every possibility of entering a plea of “not guilty” but couldn’t see how it could be done. But he would try and say a few privileged things for me to report, and if necessary would get himself shut up by the magistrate.
Cathal wrote saying he would be here on Saturday, and a wire came from the enigmatical Tony [ie. Anthony Coughlan] saying he would be here on Sunday.
July 31 Friday (London): In the afternoon Miss Rudd, Tuairim [ie. Joy Rudd, a member of the London branch of the Dublin-based Tuairim discussion society], came to ask about catering workers. She actually achieved a smile and revealed to my surprise that she is in the Labour Party and is helping Lena Jeger. Then a little squirt called Egan came in representing some high-titled Northern Ireland Civil Rights Society – half a dozen cosy students wanting to make their names known and a few pounds for an article in the Observer [probably Bowes Egan, later prominent in the 1969-70 People’s Democracy]. I went up to Camden Town with Joe Deighan. The weather is exceptionally hot and heavy and we found it tiring.
August 1 Saturday (London): Early in the morning Cathal arrived, and after a while went to bed. He came to the office about 11.30, where Miss Rudd was again, bringing a UCD student studying the “Psychology of Emigration”. I told her there wasn’t any – in the sense of psychological causes; all the sensations were the consequences of social causes. Rather to my surprise Miss Rudd strongly assented. Des Logan came there. He is in Tuairim too – for the sake of the women. They are working on an information document on Industrial schools, and also want to make a pamphlet advising emigrants on what they should do. Many people came in, Peter Mulligan, Jim Argue, Chris Sullivan and so on. I went to Kilburn in the evening with Cathal.
August 2 Sunday (London): I met Tony Coughlan in Holborn late on the way to Hyde Park. There was a very good meeting there at which Joe Deighan, Peter Mulligan and Robbie Rossiter made a very good impression. But once more it was hot and humid again. I was out with Cathal and we went to Kentish Town.
August 3 Monday (London): Cathal gave himself blisters on his feet walking round London and was consequently somewhat hors de combat. I did not go out in the evening. It has been quite a good weekend with Frank Small very busy and returning to Reading tonight. Sean rang up from Thurles.
August 4 Tuesday (London): I went to the bank. Last Saturday I deposited a cheque for £1050. I would have thought bank-clerks would grow indifferent at the sight of money, but apparently not. I do remember old Knight (or was it King) exclaimed “very nice” when I deposited £560. But this man was so overcome that he gave me back the cheque instead of the counterfoil paying-in slip. Today he had not recovered and I caught him eyeing me with the sort of interest that exercises a man who wonders how one has come by a thousand pounds.
August 5 Wednesday (London): Cathal was to go to Brittany tomorrow and was busy hunting round travel agents. But late at night he decided he would leave it till Friday. Then he learned that Pat Bond was motoring to Southampton to go to Normandy. So he will try to get a lift.
August 6 Thursday (London): The hot weather keeps up. Cathal got the promise of the lift. Tony Coughlan was very busy tidying up the office. Heaven knows what is thrown out.
August 7 Friday (London): Cathal left at midday – his blisters imperfectly healed. I was out with Peter Mulligan. Joe Deighan was in the office for a while. Sean Redmond is in Limerick.
August 8 Saturday (London): The weather has broken and it is much cooler – though still well up in the sixties. On the whole the temperature has been high this year, especially for the past month. I sent Sean Redmond money. He is returning to Dublin early next week and I may see him there.
August 9 Sunday (London): I spent the whole day, except evening when I went to Camden Town with Peter Mulligan, working on the paper, the book review for the Daily Worker and the East German symposium article for Idris Cox. I was glad to get some of those things out of the way. But there remains the International Committee memorandum.
August 10 Monday (London): I had intended to go to Ireland this evening but had too many things to do in preparation for the “tour of the constituencies”. I received word from Manchester, but not from Nottingham, Liverpool or Birmingham.
August 11 Tuesday (London/Dublin): Most of the day was spent as yesterday, but I did manage to catch the Emerald Isle Express.
August 12 Wednesday (Dublin): I travelled first class on the boat and had a large cabin to myself – the other passenger not turning up. Nevertheless, I was tired and had a half hour’s sleep on the settee in the afternoon. I phoned Mrs Tom Clarke in the morning and made an appointment. I also contacted Mrs Sean Nolan who seemed very anxious to help, and said she remembers Julia Morrissey well. She was a fine well-educated girl with great musical talent. So that is what must have brought them together. But she told Mrs Nolan that in any competition between herself and Ireland, “I would come second.” Her brother-in-law Seamus O’Connor is, she says, too sick to be seen, having lost his memory as a result of cerebral haemorrhage.
In the evening I went up to see Ina and Nora – and very exasperating it was to have the two sisters meowing at each other in Galtymore Park. Ina wants to go to Russia but doesn’t know what for. I have been trying to smooth the way by getting her, at her request, particulars of fares. But she wants to go on the cheap, as well as to have privileges! She told me that Savage, of San Francisco, recently died of a heart attack and left her a thousand dollars. He also left Sean Nolan a thousand dollars to be used in the “propagation of Marxism in Ireland”. Another reason why Dublin can’t plead poverty. But Nora doesn’t want her to go at all.
August 13 Thursday (Dublin): I went out to see Mrs Tom Clarke in Serpentine Road – she calls it Ballsbridge but it is almost Sandymount. I found a tall straight old woman, vigorous and sprightly, dressed smartly in very light-coloured wool and tweed. The house was full of photographs and large portraits, the largest one of John Mitchel. To the left of this was a bookcase with about three shelves, all of books about Ireland – Dineen’s dictionary, La Roux’s Life of Pearse, Beasley’s Life of Collins, and two copies of the White Cross Report. Most of the usual things were there and none that were likely to have belonged to her husband. The room had no religious pictures. It was a Republican house. There was a tripartite photograph frame showing Connolly. There was Wolfe Tone, a trio of whom two were Clarke and her uncle John Daly. The other might have been Diarmuid Lynch, but I had only a glance. Harry Boland was unmistakeable, and Edward Daly.
She told me she remembered Mellows well and that he was one of the men most trusted by her husband. The Ulster people were to assemble at Coalisland and cross to the West to join Mellows. It was not felt that a Rising was practicable in Ulster. She blamed Patrick MacCartan and Denis McCullough for the disbandment and the loss of this support. She well remembered the £100 sent in sovereigns from Limerick to Mellows up in the hills. Old John Daly had collected all the gold he could get, and when people paid in gold, instead of banking it he hid it. It was all subsequently given to Michael Collins, £2000 of it, at face value, a considerable sacrifice. She also recalled that after the treaty was signed and there was talk of an election, there was formed a “back-benchers’ committee” which met every night at the Mansion House to discuss an agreed election. Among those on it were Mellows, Boland and herself from the Republican side, and Sean MacEoin, Patrick O’Malley and 0’Dwyer from the other. The discussion concerned the allocation of seats, and the Free State party wanted the anti-treaty party to give up seven. One day Boland appeared very late and said, “The Chief says we can agree to that”. “He’s no chief of mine,” said Mrs Tom Clarke. She disliked this glorification of De Valera. “Will you go and see him about it?” asked Boland. “I will not,” she replied, for De Valera would confuse your mind and she wanted to keep her mind clear. “He would lead you this way and that, looking for something that would catch you.” Boland told Mellows, who at once declared, “I’m damn sure we won’t”. And they demanded a party meeting. When it took place De Valera said Boland had misunderstood him. Later, after going out to look for a cab to take her home, she came upstairs and heard Boland angrily expostulating with De Valera, who replied, “Harry, you misunderstood me.” “I did not! – Chief, you let me down, but I’ll not give you away.” It was Mellows who largely influenced the meeting against acceptance.
That was all she could tell me about Mellows. But she spoke readily enough about other things. She said she had been driven out of public life by De Valera in an extremely shabby way. When George V died the Dail sent a message of condolence to the Queen of England. She was then a Senator. To her surprise she learned it was to come up at the Senate. When it was mooted, she objected. The Chairman adjourned the Senate for one day. It was then that they decided to oust her and though the process took some time, it was successful.
She spoke of a book she had written which she cannot get published because it is held to be libellous. An English firm which was interested was so informed by their solicitors. Apparently many idols have feet of clay, and but for the danger of causing disillusion among the youth, one of those to be de-bunked would be Patrick Pearse. He, she said, was “wildly ambitious” and not a man with a fine sense of honour. On the first count she adduced the statement that he insisted upon being the President of the Republic though the organisation wanted Clarke. She recalled an occasion when MacDermott came into the shop very exasperated. She knew this from his habit of continuously knocking his cigarette out. She asked him what was the matter. He stood about five minutes looking out through the door. Then he exclaimed, “Pearse’s ambition is getting in our way.”
She held that the glorification of Pearse was due primarily to Desmond Ryan, who was infatuated by him. Ryan was not, she said, a pupil at St. Enda’s, but had been sent over from London by his father so as to escape conscription. He was at the University. Apart from Ryan, Margaret Pearse was the principal agent in the process of deification. She and Ryan provided Le Roux with his material. The result was that Pearse was credited with the work of others. Tom Clarke had told her that Pearse was very difficult to work with, and MacDermott thought Pearse wanted all the credit for everything. About Le Roux she said his life of her husband was unsatisfactory. He had asked her cooperation and she had argued that a “foreigner” who “knew nothing about Ireland” could never make a success of it. “But look at the lovely life of Pearse he has written,” said her sister. She allowed herself to be over-ruled and provided him with material which she invited him to check with others. Then she was told that Bulmer Hobson had refused to corroborate some point. This was because of the breach between Hobson and Clarke which made Hobson bitter. “I soon found that in every case he was taking other peoples’ versions instead of mine,” she declared, “so I cut off all connection with him.” Of Hobson she said both she and her husband liked him, but she believed he would never go the whole way because of his history and background. He was against the Rising and wrote a book called “Defensive Warfare”. She seemed to regard it as amusing and asked was I familiar with it, which I was. It is rather a pamphlet than a book. She was disappointed that nobody had written a good book about her husband. He had a very remarkable life. He didn’t see Ireland till he was ten years old. He was taken to South Africa when six weeks old, and there was a mutiny on board the ship. On the way back there was a fire which he survived. He joined the IRB at the age of about 16 or 17, his father, now Sgt. Major, asking him, “Don’t you realise the might of the British Empire? How could you possibly defeat it?” She commented that this background was precisely that of Mellows. When he went to America first he returned as a revolutionary. He had extraordinary experiences in prison. When released Ireland treated him badly. He was twice promised posts in the Corporations of Dublin and Limerick, and twice a proposal for a ballot vote was carried, and nobody knew who had voted against him. He and she lived in Long Island. From some source he learned of the inevitability of war between Britain and America and Germany, which was pushing them out of the markets of the world, and especially South America. It is usually held that Devoy sent him back, but she denied this. Devoy was surprised at his decision. But he kept his promise to give him every support. The boat which brought him back from America the first time sank, and he was picked up after two days adrift.
But this time all went well. The reason for Hobson’s bitterness was that Clarke had got him a job on the Gaelic American when he was practically destitute. When he voted to include the Redmondites Clarke wrote and suggested that Devoy stop it, which he did. She had thus nothing but praise for MacDermott and Mellows, and was not hard on Hobson, but very hard on Pearse.
She told me that the only man who gave her the credit for reviving the Movement after Easter Week was PS O’Hegarty in the “Victory of Sinn Fein”. She was a prisoner when taken to see her husband. By the Saturday she had taken action to start the Prisoners Aid. On her way back from seeing Tom Clarke she had said to herself, “Every Rising so far ended in sorrow, misery and hunger. This time we must give England something else to think of.” She counted her assets. At once she realised she must appeal to the public. In a few days streams of women were coming up the drive to her house. She had already been appointed “confidante” of the IRB. Nothing was written. But if the leaders were arrested she knew the names of second and even third substitutes for them. When the Rising was over, she used this knowledge to send a man through the country to say the Rising was not the end, and they must continue to arm and drill. She swore him to secrecy on the point that he had received his instructions from a woman.
She said that only once did MacDermott vote against her husband. That was on the question of the postponement from Sunday to Monday. She thought Clarke right in this and that the others had made a mistake. Clarke, who was idolised by MacDermott, as Pearse was by Ryan, was very upset. “For the first time Sean went against me”.
She told me her son, Emmet, is a doctor at Rainhill Mental Hospital near Liverpool. He could not get work in Ireland. He has children, quite young, who speak with broad Lancashire accents. “But perhaps they’ll turn into better Irishmen that some who were brought up here.”
As a final measure of her character, she told me that just after the treaty, much to her surprise, when she was discoursing on palmistry Mellows offered her his hand. “I was shocked,” she said, “there was a break which meant death, violent death”. I told him “You’ll never have grey hair, Liam,” and when he was shot I swore I’d never look at a palm again in my life.” Before I left she telephoned a sister in Foxrock and arranged for me to go there this afternoon.
I went up after having lunch in town and found a much bigger house, but curiously similar. The first thing to be seen when I entered was a large set of bookshelves, also filled with Irish books. Instead of photographs, which were there as well however, the dominating things were pictures, mostly portraits by Seán O’Sullivan and Seán Keating. The sister I met was the next to youngest. Madge is 87, and not fit to be seen, arthritic and lying in bed with a broken thigh. I was told here that it was John Daly who sent the £100 to Mellows, the very night Michael Molony came to report that Mellows was hiding with him. This was part of the hoard subsequently sent to Collins. Daly knew a cheque was useless to Mellows and so sent gold. She said that Mrs Clarke was “very bitter” and had written a book she would never get published as she’d be up for libel for every page. I told her in all innocence that that was what she had been told. “Oh, she told you that, did she? She didn’t tell us.” There was a ripple of laughter. This one is only 78! She said Mellows passed through Limerick on the way to Cork where Captain Collins made arrangements, and that he was dressed as a nun. She confirmed that he often stayed at Daly’s, which was an “open house”, but so many stayed there that she could not distinguish separate visits in her mind. She also had written unpublished memoirs.
August 14 Friday (Dublin): Sean [Sean Redmond, Connolly Association general secretary, then on holiday in Ireland] and I went off cycling today, going through Ratoath and Skrine to Tara. We spent a couple of hours looking at the fascinating remains that are there, though I must confess that I “came out at that same door wherein I went.” We had the advantage of a dry bright day, not too hot because of some high cloud, and decided to go on to Newgrange. After a meal in Navan we went to Slane and Knowth, only to find that the site was being excavated and was closed to visitors. Nevertheless, we were able to form a rough judgment of its extent and saw a stone with representations of the sun, as I presume they were, in the form of concentric circles. As by now it was late we pushed on into Drogheda and took the train back, arriving in Finglas at about 10 pm. Sean was extremely interested and there was a lively discussion with Helga who has also been to both places with Cathal. Among other things Sean showed me where his bicycle broke down last year, by the site of the battle of the Boyne!
August 15 Saturday (Dublin): I caught the train at Westland Row and crossed on the day boat – an hour late starting. I had expected to find Cathal here. But maybe he will arrive in the morning. A card came to Helga to the effect that he was immobilised in Armorica with blisters through walking. I went to the office and found letters from Gibson and the new Liverpool secretary McClelland [ie. John McClelland, Connolly Association branch secretary]. To be exact it was Veronica Gibson. Apparently Gibson [John Gibson, former Liverpool CPGB secretary] is no longer secretary but works for the Soviet Weekly. Veronica Gibson’s letter apologised for the slow reply. Apparently McClelland had opened the letters and not sent them on. She did not seem pleased at this. McClelland’s letter said they were “trying to keep” Gibson off things other than his job. At the same time he adopted a somewhat high-handed procedure and had not the courtesy to acknowledge the letters himself, till now. Instead he asked Doherty [Pat Doherty, Liverpool Connolly Association member] to arrange the accommodation and when he failed, fell back on Gibson, who had offered it “at anytime”. It seems Gibson had a nervous breakdown and had to go to hospital. I don’t wonder. He was too much of a “decent fellow” for Liverpool, which has such a bad tradition of intrigue, leftism and small-mindedness. He should congratulate himself that he escaped with his life – it used to be said in the days of Herman and Bright that Liverpool always killed its organisers [ie. its communist party organisers].
August 16 Sunday (London): I rang Waterloo and they gave me the time of the Southampton train as 9.55 – but Cathal could not have been on it, so I went to the office and Tony Coughlan came in. Just before I left Joe Deighan rang up. He said he “was an ould crock”, for whenever he wriggled his head he took a dizzy fit. His doctor is away on holidays, to make things worse. I suggested it was blood pressure, but he does not think so. At about 4.30 Cathal rang from Hyde Park; he had come by road and gone there expecting me to be there. He came to the office and had a drink around 7 pm., after which I went to Camden Town with Tony Coughlan [ie. selling the monthly paper]. When I reached home Cathal began, “I’ve bad news for you.” “What?” “Leslie Daiken’s dead – Flann Campbell rang up to tell you“[In 1944 Daiken edited a book titled “They Go:The Irish”, with contributions from Sean O’Casey, Flann Campbell, Jim Phelan, Charles Duff and others]. I appreciated this action on Campbell’s part but told Cathal that while I was certainly not pleased about Daiken, neither was I desperately sorry. I first came across him when Dooley was Editor, though he said he had seen me at the Sheffield Youth Anti-war Congress in 1934. He was young and talkative, bubbling over with himself. Dooley had little time for him. They competed on the bubbling level. For some years he belonged to the left, then made himself respectable via the BBC and finally took his opinions on the Irish Democrat from that scoundrel Prendergast. His arrogance was so unstably based as to appear ludicrous and I remember Dundon, the Limerick man, writing him a letter which punctured it completely. His wife used to hang on his words as if the most commonplace remark was the fount of wisdom if only you opened your ears wide enough. And he used to play the great literary man for her benefit. On the whole he was a good-hearted, ill-meaning, pushful and unpleasant humbug, who was tolerable until the humbug took himself in, but no longer. Cathal brought me a Breton grammar and dictionary.
August 17 Monday (London): I went to the office early. Tony Coughlan came in, and then Cathal to have lunch with me. Joe Deighan rang to say he was no better. He now attributes his condition to strain. “This has been the worst year of my life,” he said – referring to his mother’s death and his brother’s suicide last January. He may well be right. So I suggested he take a complete holiday, and I imagine he will. Later Cathal said goodbye and went to the flat to collect his things, while I went to the Irish Committee [ie. of the CPGB] with Chris Sullivan and met Robbie Rossiter and Gerry Curran. I feel very tired, so am going to bed before twelve.
August 18 Tuesday (London) I spent all day on the paper and finalising arrangements for the tour of the North. There was a quite useful General Purposes Committee meeting in the evening [ie. of the Connolly Association].
August 19 Wednesday (London): I managed to get the paper finished and posted off quite early. Then I went to address a YCL [Young Communist League] meeting in Kensington. The youngsters met in a dank cellar with a tea-bar on one side and were very late arriving. The early part of the proceedings were overshadowed by the efforts of one of them to buy a scooter from another who was married three weeks. His wife kept urging him to sell, but he did not wish too hastily to relinquish the independence of his bachelor days. “Surely,” says she, “if we want any transport we’ll get a car.” The word “car” was pronounced in the tones of reverence one might apply to “honesty”, “truth”, “goodness” or “the way”. It was all there, of course, especially the last – the way to get the walls up round domesticity. The poor fellow has no idea of all the overtime he’ll be working! However, they all came in and there was a very lively discussion lasting till after 10 pm. I had to take a taxi to meet Tony Coughlan in time. One interesting thing was that I was told that Ken Hugget, a CA member from Sligo who stalks Hyde Park blazoned with CND badges and insignia, has joined them. He joined our South London branch a few months ago, sold the papers a few weeks, then moved to Kensington. He listened to the Dalton-Lawless bunch while they were holding meetings in the Park. Now he is usually seen carrying McCreevy’s “Vanguard”, which has attacked us viciously, and there are reports that he is spreading poison against us. He is a tall lad with a slightly effeminate manner. Perhaps we will see trouble in Kensington yet – I regard his absence as significant. He will not however be capable of much unless others come too.
August 20 Thursday (Ruthin): I spent the evening in the office and got most things out of the way. Toni Curran was there and said the bank account books kept by Dorothy Deighan are in chaos. We decided to drop the book sales for a bit. The other account is chaotic enough, so Toni said she would resume full responsibility. For the moment she is living in the flat of the Formans in Islington. I left London in the early afternoon and went to Chester. After buying a few odd things I met Sean Redmond and we cycled to Mold and Ruthin, where we stayed at the Eagle Hotel in Clwyd Street. While fairly expensive, it was comfortable enough. I note that his cultural horizon is widening and this is good as it will give him more self-confidence in dealing with people.
August 21 Friday (Ruthin): We had a look round Ruthin – I had not stayed there since 1936 or ’35 when AMM [A.MacMath, his maternal grandmother or grandaunt] was living there, and then I merely cycled to Llanwchllyn, climbed Arenig Fawr and went back at night. Then we cycled to Derwen along the Corwen road, stopping to look at everything interesting. Not a word of Welsh did we hear all day. Yet everywhere were inscriptions, notices and signs showing how universal was the language only thirty years ago. Sean Redmond was increasingly alive to the universality of the crime that has been enacted under our very eyes. Another few years and they will sweep the evidence away and invent the story that the language died centuries ago. We sent to the quarry at Gwyddelwinn and over the hills to Bettws-gwervil-goch, and to Maerdy. Then we went to Llangwm on the way to which plain-clothes men in a car held us up to ask if we knew anything about a burglary. A house or shop had been broken into so, with a fine class instinct, they were “stopping all cyclists”. However, they were genuinely pleased that we were stopping at Ruthin (their headquarters) and were amiable enough throughout. At Llangwm we left the bicycles and climbed Foel Goch. The last time I went up it was during the forties with CEG [his father], though it was quite a favourite with me before that. We returned through Corwen (where we had tea) and Bryn Eglwys, taking the road across the Dee at Corwen. Just northeast of Bryn Eglwys we turned left and struck across to the head of the Nantygarth, and so back to Ruthin. Sean thoroughly enjoyed himself in his quiet way. “I wonder,” he said “if you’d ever get tired of just cycling around and seeing places?” This little break is due to the falling through of the Thursday and Friday night meetings in Liverpool.
The situation in Dublin has of course not altered since I was there last week. Cathal enjoyed his holiday but still suffers from blisters and sunburn to his upper lip, which has forced him to grow a moustache. “He’ll keep that,” says Sean. Sean’s friend Pat White (“Butch” as they call him) is still there and is selling clothes on hire purchase.
August 22 Saturday (Liverpool): We went to Llanbedr D.C. and over Bwlch pen Barras, stopping long enough to climb Moel Fenlli. There was more opportunity to observe the rape of Wales, the paths, car-parking areas and monstrosities in the Alyn valley. No wonder the fury of the Welsh Nationalists is compounded of helplessness, while their inability to fight present evils as they crowd in has left them defenceless. We went to Mold and Queensferry, in traffic of incredible density, its drivers more carless, stupid and arrogant than I have seen before. At Connah’s Quay (Shotton) we took the train to New Brighton and crossed to Liverpool. Pat O’Doherty met us and after discussing our plans we went out to Gibson’s.
August 23 Sunday (Liverpool): Unfortunately I seem to have been struck by a virus which rather reduced my activity. Nevertheless we were able to meet O’Doherty and hold a meeting on the Pier Head. It was a somewhat stormy one, since a group of Orange viragos appeared on the scene. Apparently they have already driven every progressive meeting away. Dr Steiner, whom we saw earlier today, a friend of Gibson’s married to an Irish woman, had them at an Anti-Apartheid meeting some weeks ago. We were shocked at the appalling destruction of the Pier Head open space, which is to become a kind of shunting ground for buses, with all manner of absurd constructions. We had quite an argument with Gibson about this. Utilitarianism, in other words anything to keep the rates down, seems to have got a fair grip on the movement in this country.
August 24 Monday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley and read the paper – perfunctorily I fear, as there was not much done. And I sent Phyllis a greetings telegram. Back in Liverpool I met Sean and we went to the branch meeting. A young member called Peter Canterbury was there – born in Liverpool of an Arklow father and a Welsh mother, but heavily attired with Irish emblems. And the somewhat cynical, weak, Barney Morgan. I think on the whole it was worthwhile.
August 25 Tuesday (Manchester): Wile I went seeking Mai Nolan, who was out, Sean Redmond found Dr O’Brien via the ’98 Bookshop (now a tobacconist’s in Fox Street, a very depressed area) and was quite pleased with the result. I then went to Manchester for the branch meeting. Things are not too good. They seem to have bitten off more than they can chew and the reaction has set in.
August 26 Wednesday (Liverpool): As Aine Redmond went out in the morning she remarked to me that she would not see me tonight, but tomorrow morning, as she was going to stay the night at Michael Crowe’s flat where she is supervising some alterations. I then went to see Eddisford and on to Liverpool. To my surprise Sean was not there to meet me and I wondered what the reason could be. At first I speculated that the arrangements had been misunderstood by one or both of us. I looked for him in the St. George in Lime Street. At about 1 pm. he turned up at the appointed place. He had waited an hour for the GAA man Walsh, from Huyton [Tom Walsh]. When he arrived he explained that a friend of his had been injured in a car accident that evening and he must go back at once. An alternative arrangement was made for today at 12. Walsh’s name had been given him by Dr O’Brien who goes into the ’98 shop. He mentioned Walsh as Secretary of the Liverpool GAA, but he is also the full-time organiser of the Liverpool Irish Centre, shortly to be established. He is Liverpool-born and told Sean Redmond that this fact was used against him. He has experienced the snobbery of the Irish Club in London, having on one occasion been refused admission. Now if he mentions this they refer most deprecatingly to this “terrible mistake” – so terrible that in a sense it “couldn’t have happened.” He is a young man of about Sean’s age.
Unfortunately, we had to leave Liverpool. We cycled up to Kirkdale together, whence I went along the East Lancashire Road to Manchester, leaving Sean to go to the meeting of the Preston Labour Party. With Tom Redmond I went to the Moss Side West branch of the CP. When I arrived Maxy Druck, the cast-iron Bolshevik, was in the chair and had all his facts ready for a fight, for which he was thirsting. Some time back Tom Redmond declined to sign Mrs Foster’s nomination papers, and while Sid Foster and others kept calm, Maxy found an excellent opportunity to lay down the law and display his own firmness and dedication. So he presented the subject matter for discussion in as uncompromising a way as he could. Or so I thought. However, though he would have enjoyed a scrap, when he saw that he was not going to get one he accepted the situation philosophically and all became sweetness and light. So the best possible outcome was achieved, all traces of ill-feeling being completely expunged, and Maxy making a number of quite useful suggestions.
Soon after we got back Sean arrived. The Preston Labour Party had been most unhelpful, keeping him waiting till ten minutes before his train left, then asking a host of questions some of which betrayed a thinly disguised hostility. He was thoroughly disgusted. Tom Redmond was worried about Aine and rang her up at Michael Crowe’s only to learn what she told me, namely that she was staying there for the night. However, Tom and I had had the foresight to acquire a couple of bottles of Riesling, so we opened them and turned our attention away from the Preston Labour Party and the complexities of matrimony. The more I think of it, the more certain I am that my guess as to the basis of the whole Aine Redmond problem is not far from the mark. I suspect that this conspicuous absence tonight is a little drama staged for Sean’s benefit.
August 27 Thursday (Manchester): This was not a particularly successful day. We saw Syd Foster and Vic Eddisford, spent hours trying to contact the Ilcester Liberal Party and Alf Havekin [formerly of the Manchester Anti-Partition League] – all without result – and finally returned to Moss Side. In the evening I went to Wythenshawe to a “meeting” where I knew nobody would turn up, and indeed nobody did. Tom Redmond had, with characteristic lack of realism, called it at short notice in the wilds of South Manchester. And Sean went to Warrington. Aine came in at 7 pm. and went to a Connolly Association social where Tom Redmond later joined her. When Sean Redmond returned he reported a very good meeting in Warrington.
August 28 Friday (Manchester): At lunchtime we held an open-air meeting at Manchester Dry Dock, under the auspices of the AEU [Amalgamated Engineering Union]. Stan Cole, who arranged the meeting, was held in a negotiation, but an old Belfast man acted as Chairman till he arrived. About 30 came out. One Englishman heckled – “There are free elections in Northern Ireland” – but on the whole we had a good hearing. In the evening the AEU group of the CPGB met and Cole was there too. He explained that the heckler was a supporter of the Mosley party [Sir Oswald Mosley’s fascists] and a well-known “boss’s man”.
August 29 Saturday (Manchester): Immediately after lunch Sean Redmond and I went to Liverpool and called on Cath MacLoughlin. She was out – a fact that betokens a considerable recovery. In June her daughter said she could scarcely hobble across the room. The two sons were there – one a huge hulking motorcyclist of a fellow with no brains; the other a poliomylitic hunchback with an electric guitar and (according to the big fellow) no sense. There are four “beatle” groups in the one street, and one used to meet and play in Cath’s house till the noise grew too deafening and the neighbours complained. We walked along the beach back to the station. It is all considerably more urbanised than it was, and bathing is considered dangerous because of broken glass. Everything constantly grows filthier and untidier, and nothing attractive remains of a once fairly pleasant place.
I went out in the evening with Tom Redmond, Sean with Aine Redmond. When we returned we saw Moss Side at its liveliest. Motor crashes take place almost nightly where Princess Road is crossed by Moss Lane East. The police station is only a few yards away and Tom and Aine have a fine balcony view of note-taking and tape-measuring, which seems to be going on as often as not. There were a few fights – nothing much – outside the Alexandra opposite. Police “moved on” coloured people whose sole offence seemed to be being there. But about 2 am. there was great excitement outside the all-night café, the “Long Bar”, which is apparently a haunt of prostitutes and demireps. Just what was happening it was hard to judge. But about twenty policemen were dividing up a crowd of about a hundred and leading them off in different directions as the “juke box” in the cafe blared and screeched. The crowd was partly coloured men in baggy Dutchman’s trousers, and partly white youths in very tight “jeans”, and intermingled were a few women, one accompanied by a young man in a soldier’s uniform. She was wearing a soldier’s blouse or golf jacket to her waist, and below this the flimsiest white skirt well above her knees. Only in Moss Side do such phenomena occur. And soon it is all to be knocked down.
August 30 Sunday (Manchester): The weather is still fine but today was cooler. Through the windows in the morning one saw the coloured families taking their children to church – the raggedy little youngsters of yesterday dolled up like fauntleroys in long trousers and shiny boots. The fashions bear little relation (otherwise) to those current in this country, and but for the absurd formality intended, the variation is welcome enough. We called on Barney Watters but he was out.
We went to Platt Fields in the afternoon where there was a good meeting. I spoke to Toni Curran on the phone, and she says all is going well, particularly the sales. We spent the evening re-arranging our work.
I forgot to record that Sean Redmond and I saw Havekin of the Anti-Partition League (United Ireland League) on Friday at a hotel, the “Grand” off Piccadilly. He goes there every Sunday evening and meets old cronies. “The oldest is 83,” he told us, “so of course we lose one or two from time to time.” Seán thought him a “very nice old man” and certainly he was as friendly as could be wished. He said Stephen Lally died two years ago. He keeps touch when in Ireland with Tom Mullins of Fianna Fail but speaks with an English accent and is English in his manner.
August 31 Monday (Manchester): Seán went off to Huddersfield while I did shopping. On his return late at night he said he had seen the Liberal agent, and the APL [Anti-Partition League] man, whose name maybe Holdsworth but this is uncertain – we found that name in the street directory corresponding to the address. He didn’t like the Connolly Association at all, or the Democrat, and indeed liked its editor less. After a time he softened and discussed differences. He was displeased at our orientation towards the working class, insisting that he was a “professional man” himself – probably a teacher – who had been to UCC with Tadhg Feehan [attached to the Irish Embassy in London].
For my part, I went to Irlam where Tom Redmond had organised a small meeting of members of the Irish community. Among them was the steel-erector, Fanning. We had a valedictory drink when all got back. There were a few minor car-smashes outside, and the usual succession of men and women accompanying policemen to the station – mostly I imagine making complaints to the “poor man’s solicitor”.
September 1 Tuesday (Bamford): We spent the morning on clerical work and after an early lunch cycled first to Michael Crowe’s, where I rang Toni Curran, and then on to Cheadle, Poynton, Shrigley and Chapel-en-le-Frith. The early part of the journey was through Manchester’s interminable motor-car-congested suburbs. Then we saw the follies and monuments of the upstarts who have started creeping up the Pennine Valleys. After that came Derbyshire landscape, preserving only its barrows and tumuli, all else of its Celtic substratum vanished – together with the tradition of the people, for all is commerce and the people have nothing in them but a thirst for tourists’ money.
We had intended staying in Castleton. I had this partly in mind because CEG [his father] told me of the place forty years ago. But it was totally commercialised with “caravans” and a “caravan that is different” and all the hotels were full. So we went on to Bamford, and stayed at the Derwent Hotel. All the hostelries in the area are busy going up in the world. Thus in Castleton we saw notices, “No hikers” and “hikers use public bar, please”. There were of course several youth hostels for these. The Derwent was being redecorated. It did not serve meals, so we went up to the pretentious “Angler’s Rest”, where Sheffield upstarts were popping champagne corks and talking nothing very loud. An air of guzzling prosperity engulfed the place. So we allowed ourselves to be engulfed as well and had a very good meal. The waiter who was deputising for the headwaiter forgot his Oxford accent for a moment and we challenged him as an Irishman, much to his mingled embarrassment and amusement. He was deprecatory. He did not really think much of these people, but money was money. For the rest we had a comfortable room apiece. The landlord was a military man and I take it from London or some part of the south. He had the military man’s respect for physical vigour and gave us quite a welcome when we returned from the Angler’s Rest.
September 2 Wednesday (Matlock): We cycled through Hathersage and Baslow to Matlock. There we had lunch and, leaving the bicycles, took the train to Derby City. We had an appointment with the Liberals. Unable to find the road we took a taxi, which landed us outside a small non-detached house in the working class area near the station. Peggy Edwards, the prospective Liberal candidate for Ilkeston, walked to the door as we drew up, and inside the small house was Mrs Wigley and three men, two teachers, one old, one young, from Belper and Loughborough respectively, and “Horseface” as I called him, who is going up in Carlton, Nottingham. Apart from Horseface all understood our arguments, especially the older teacher. Peggy Edwards said she supported us. But Horseface, who should not yet be out of the university, was the sort of man that was “worried” about everything, the worry presumably being that it should injure British Imperialism. We seemed however to get some measure of conviction on our two minimum points with the others.
They struck me as the type of lower middleclass people with a social conscience who would have supported the Spanish Republic thirty years ago – indeed the Loughborough man even resembled physically a Wimbledon schoolteacher I remember who came to a CP social but reached the pinnacle of bliss when Lady Hall came to his house. His wife had the place sealed almost hermetically lest a draught distract her sensitive Ladyship, and the older man was like Holloway in appearance. Now the Liberal Party is the spiritual haven of their indecisiveness. They want a better voting system but are not quite sure the present British one isn’t the best in the world like everything else British, but for what the Tories have done to the country. They would like more recent history taught in schools, the teachers at any rate having no dread of “bias”. Horseface, however, is simply a careerist. I explained our attitude to the parties as that of sausage-machine material who want a Government that’s good for sausages. He split his side laughing. “A cynical point” he commented “but very well taken”. And he was thereafter “very worried” about the “unity of the British Isles”. Mrs Wigley provided ample sandwiches.
We then had a drink to the accompaniment of a juke box that played the same things over and over again. Instead of “crooning”, shouting is now the rage and instead of syncopation with its air of sophistication, there are four-square thumpings to symbolise the wholesale automatisation of the present generation. Then we went to Douglas Coleman’s house and talked with one or two members he had invited along. He was a Cockney, but owing to some impediment in his speech we found him hard to understand. He was an appalling driver too. When he brought us back to the station in his van, he tooted at pedestrians who had right of way on crossings and made the thing rock as he stalled repeatedly as he let in the clutch. We went back to Matlock and stayed at the hotel where we had lunch.
September 3 Thursday (Burton-on-Trent): We decided to have a day’s holiday, and despite cooler, cloudier weather cycled through Winster to Hartington, where we found the same disagreeable commercialism as elsewhere in Derbyshire. The hotels serve lunch from 1 pm. to 1.30 and will not do so even at twenty to two. We went on to Ashbourne but as we arrived there early decided to go on again this time to Uttoxeter. But unfortunately we arrived on a race day and there was no accommodation in the town. We were compelled to push on to Burton-on-Trent, where we found no difficulty and stopped at the Midland Hotel. I get the impression hotels have improved since pre-war days. It is some time since I stayed at them in England, but in the unrationed prewar days there was little attention paid to food. Now it is better – about the only thing in the country that is! I had been in Burton before but had imagined it a smaller town than it is. One thing about it – the Derbyshire surliness was no longer here. So even in England of 1964, County differences remain.
September 4 Friday (Nottingham): We cycled to Ashby and then to Loughborough. There we left the bicycles and went by train to Nottingham, making Mick Jenkins’s our first call. We found Peck there [local CPGB official]. He spoke of the difficulty of Joe Whelan [a local CA member] coming into Nottingham City to sell the paper. He promised to look at the new members’ list to see if somebody in Nottingham could be found. We were not sure whether he was more concerned with finding somebody for us in Nottingham or keeping Joe Whelan in Hucknall. But we found out when we went to Hucknall. Joe told us he was standing for a full-time job as president of the Notts Miners. So Peck will be in hot water with us if he does not at least talk about finding somebody as a substitute for Joe. We stayed the night with Mrs Stanforth, a white-haired quiet woman with a huge son of 20, district secretary of the YCL. She has desperate trouble with her back – a slipped disc – and spends quite a deal of her time in hospital. I imagine she is not much over 50, but looks it.
September 5 Saturday (Nottingham): We did not seem to get through much today. We had intended to have an outdoor meeting but there was no flag – I think Robbie Rossiter brought it to London by mistake. News came that Tony Coughlan will be in Birmingham all week, and Charlie Cunningham and Chris Sullivan are in reasonably good form. We rang London to have a flag sent. In the evening Joe Whelan came into the city.
September 6 Sunday (Nottingham): In the lunch hour we visited the Irish Social Centre opposite the Catholic Cathedral and in the evening held a most successful meeting on the City Square. The character of the square is somewhat altered. The old socialists and atheists do not come down too much. Instead one sees a variety of youngsters between 15 and 25 in a great variety of very untidy dress. The boys wear their hair either to their shoulders or tied in a knot at the back, or in a forest of curls like a billowy sea. The girls are not distinguishable by hair style. The only de rigueur is a pair of jeans, which one girl had evidently deliberately bleached badly so as to produce a patchy and decrepit appearance. Some of them have blankets and sleep out. They lie on the concrete sides of the square and do nothing, not even talk. At the council house end the “rockers” assemble with motor cycles, occasionally passing these others, the “mods”, with contemptuous glances. A few weeks ago a hundred of them chased round the square on motor cycles, and a free fight subsequently took place [rivalry between British “mods” and “rockers” used occur at that time]. However that may be, all was quiet tonight and about 100 Irish people had come down specially to hear us.
September 7 Monday (Nottingham/Leicester): Sean and I collected our bicycles at Loughborough and cycled to Melton and Corby. There I left Sean and cycled to Kettering, taking the train to London.
September 8 Tuesday (Leicester): I spoke on the phone to Bill Dunn [CPGB official in Birmingham]. He has not accommodated the boys in Birmingham, but has asked them to draft him a leaflet. He has not seen our information sheet [On the Northern Ireland situation] that Reuben Falber [CPGB official] told me over a month ago was being sent out. I told Mahon [London CPGB organiser] about it in a letter, but had not the courtesy of an acknowledgment. The way these things are done is fantastic. One moment no interest, so no notice. The next, a panic alarm and the thing taken no notice of forgotten! I rang Loughlin who said he would investigate.
After seeing Peter Mulligan for a moment at the office I caught the train to Kettering where Sean Redmond was waiting. Unfortunately, he had not had the foresight to have lunch though it was nearly 2 pm. and his train was late. We cycled to Leicester, for the most part through country lanes free of traffic, through Loddington, Kelmarsh and Sibbertoft, Rowsley, Fleckney and Wigston Magna. Then Sean needed a meal. Whether it was because we were late or because he was not interested, we could not find Shepherd at home and went to our hotel with a complete blank drawn.
September 9 Wednesday (Northampton): We cycled to Northampton. The weather is keeping up very well, and Sean Redmond is sunburnt – something till now he claimed to be impossible. Again we went by lanes and touched the two Peathings, having lunch in Lutterworth. From there we went through Swinford and Yelvertoft to West Haddon, Long Buckby and Great Brington. There as we walked up the hill it became clear that my front tyre was soft. Sean had a repair outfit but when we opened it we found the rubber solution solid. He set off the the village to find some but was unsuccessful. Rather as a measure of desperation, we stuck on an adhesive patch and blew the tyre up very hard – and lo, all was well.
Mulcahy was waiting for us but we did not hold a meeting. The square was almost deserted. We went to call on Donal MacAuley, the Gaelic writer [ie. Domhnall MacAmhlaidh], but he was on holiday. So was Barry the lodging-house keeper who is one of the influential members of the Irish community. But Mulcahy got a member and met Hartley (a young lad with a desperate penchant for gambling), so that he was well pleased. We had the impression that much can be done in this area, as Sean had a most fruitful evening in Corby, meeting Sullivan of the Labour Club, and learning of a young lad who takes several copies of the Democrat by way of Central Books and is the leader of the Young Socialists.
September 10 Thursday (Oxford): We cycled to Oxford today, for most of the way finding quiet roads. This time it was through Rothersthorpe, Cold Higham, Blackesly, Woodend and Weston, Helmdon and Brackley, where we had lunch. There we followed the main road, had a meal, and met Jack Dunman outside the Cape of Good Hope. He had another meeting but had brought Ernie Keeling’s daughter. Keeling is ill, having suffered several cerebral haemorrhages. I sent my best wishes though I have no pleasant recollections of him. When I was on my big tour of enquiry (in 1953 if I remember aright) I came to Oxford from Northampton (one could cycle down the main roads then) and went to see him. He was South Midlands organiser. I never had a cooler reception in my life. He merely sat silent waiting for me to go. But times have changed and I have changed in them. It is different now but I do not forget the insults. The local party people had turned up in force, and about seven Irish people came. Jack Lalor was very pleasant. But at Dunman’s afterwards he was talking about leaving Oxford and going back to the land somewhere else. We tried to dissuade him.RIt was here I had the idea of a conference on the small farmer in Ireland and the emigration question to be held in Oxford. We might invite Peadar O’Donnell.
The Dunmans have a huge house crammed with books on every floor, Dunman himself is one of the very few really civilised people in the movement. I never heard a word against him in my life. He ploughs the unpopular furrow of agriculture and is a capable music critic. He has an extremely able mind, is indeed of the great generation of Cambridge students that produced Cornford, Klugman and Maurice Cornforth, but perhaps does not assert himself enough from the hang-over of anti-middleclass prejudice so widespread in those days. He edits the Country Standard unaided and unappreciated. Like those who espouse the cause of small countries, he is tolerated, even occasionally praised, but severely rationed in support.
September 11 Friday (Birmingham): We saw Gerry Pocock in the morning, a very helpful young man, quite in keeping with the amiable atmosphere of Oxford. We left the bicycles there and went to Birmingham, where we met Tony Coughlan, Chris Suilivan and Charlie Cunningham walking down New Street. They had worked hard enough but had little positive to report but paper sales. Tony and I met Frank Short [from Crossmaglen, formerly of the Anti-Partition League and father of the later Labour Minister Clare Short]. We had not met for over ten years, even fifteen, and hardly recognised each other. He was very impressed with the work we were doing but told us he had nobody in the city. He found us some addresses but they proved of little value. The McNallys are now entirely devoted to sing-songing and money making. Joe still works in the “dengem”[ie dungeon] where Pat spent his week’s holiday till his eyes were puffed with paint thinners and his face pale as a ghost’s. Vincent is going to Torquay to take partnership in a plumbing business. The only useful one is Tom, the youngest, whose health is too bad to provide such openings. The quicker we are disembarrassed of this family the better. There is no badness in them, only the most anarchistic self-important busy-bodyism.
September 12 Saturday (Birmingham): We spent the day striving desperately to find signatories for a letter to the press. The general demoralisation in Birmingham is incredible. It is as if all attempt at defence had been abandoned, and the entire city, structure, social life and ideology had been handed over to the “development” companies and the motor industry. Here is the example of the motor car supreme. The thing triumphant, and the person less than a non-entity.
I went to Saltley with Charlie Cunningham in the evening. Outside a public house we saw a drunken figure lurching. It turned out to be Con Cronin who told Charlie he had been secretary here for three years. When he saw me he was slobbering at the mouth. “I’m a disgrace to your movement” he said. “I’ve ended up where all the Irish end up. I’m a drunk. But don’t think I didn’t try. I tried. But it’s hopeless. I’ve got a wife and four kids down that road.” His voice was raised in fury. “Fuck Birmingham! Fuck Alum Rock! And fuck their motor car industry! Why can’t I live in Cork City where I was born? Goodbye now,” his voice fell, “I’m going in here. I’ve drunk it in. Now I must piss it out.”
On what should be done to the accursed city of Birmingham we were in full agreement with him. Its corrupt “Labour” administration has driven countless thousands into the gutter.
September 13 Sunday (Birmingham): The day was spent in preparations and in the evening we had a meeting in the Bull Ring – small by former standards, though many of the old faces were there. The youth were not. Strange as it may seem, the youth of Birmingham seem more strongminded than those of Liverpool or Nottingham. There are few “beatles” here. There is more money and all are neatly dressed. The city resembles Sweden where everybody eats at his appointed trough and there is the highest suicide rate in Europe. One difficulty is the seclusion of the “Speakers’ corner”, now surrounded with noisy “motorways” on three sides and accessible only at great inconvenience and after much skip-climbing along a cul-de-sac. There was no opposition. At no point on our journey have we found any, not an interruption or hostile question from an Irish person. So perhaps we might yet have organisation. It is possible. When we came to count up we found over 900 papers had been sold over the week, largely as a result of Tony Coughlan’s pushful salesmanship. Harry Bourne [Midlands CPGB organiser] is loud in his praises of this work, but in my opinion the matter rests there. Nobody arrives to continue it. Chris Sullivan returned to London.
September 14 Monday (London): We spent the morning cleaning up. At midday Charlie Cunnignham returned to London. Then I went to Oxford, collected the bicycle and took it by train to Reading. I rang Frank Small but got no reply. Fortunately, when I was sitting in a restaurant he appeared beside me. He had seen me through the window. For the first time for weeks (so it seems) it began to rain, but nevertheless we had quite a reasonable little meeting at the Trades Hall. The Saunderses were there, and as in Oxford the party people turned up, and a half dozen Irish. I then returned to London. Sean Redmond and Tony Coughlan are in Birmingham for a final meeting.
September 15 Tuesday (London): I spent the morning round the flat and saw Sean Redmond in the office in the afternoon. At about 5 pm. Fiona came in. Her troubles with Bert Edwards have reached the following stage. She has separated and is living in Willesden. Her son, Roderick, who is getting married next month, is living in Wembley. Bert remains in Kenton, living in the house and will not allow her to take away her clothes, her jewellery or the letters from James Connolly to her mother which Roddy (her brother) left at the house for transcription. Hostettler is unwilling to take Bert to Court for the valuables (says she) because he might in a fit of fury destroy the historical papers. So what is to be done? If she does nothing, Bert, who is living on his old age pension, may start selling the contents of the house. I suggested that Roddy should come over from Dublin to collect his papers in person. Then she will be free to act as she wishes. There are all manner of complications. Bert is telling everybody of alleged incest with her son Roderick and announcing his intention of going to Dublin to “make the name of Connolly stink”. I believe at bottom he is jealous of Fiona’s father and would like to be James Connolly’s son-in-law unencumbered with the consanguineous daughter. The real villains of the piece are the NUVB [National Union of Vehicle Builders] who retired Bert without a halfpenny of a pension and without any rights whatever. But Bert met this by means of tantrums which may have been intended as temporary but became permanent.
There was a well-attended General Purposes Committee in the evening, with Pat Bond, Joe Deighan, Chris Sullivan, Gerard Curran, Peter Mulligan, Pat Hensey, Jim Argue, Robbie Rossiter and Pat White. It is clear that during our absence London has been lagging.
September 16 Wednesday (London): I spent the day on the paper. Sean Redmond has been “done good” by the holiday and is full of energy in the office. Let us hope it lasts well. While he was at the House of Commons interviewing Fenner Brockway, Toni Curran was in the office and who should walk in but Bert Edwards in person. Toni quickly sidled out! “Sit down, Bert,” said I after greetings were exchanged. He was on a motorcycle but even when he took off the helmet and loosed the coat, I noted how changed he looked. His face had lost character. The determined angular look was gone. He said he had come to enquire about a hotel where he could accommodate twenty shop stewards. I suggested the Royal and offered him the use of the phone. As he was going to the phone he turned back, “Oh, there’s another thing I had almost forgotten. Do you ever see anything of Fiona?”
“Very seldom, but sometimes.”
“You know the marriage has broken up?”
“I do, of course.”
“I suppose she’d not have been here yesterday?”
“I don’t think so. I’ve been away.”
“Because I was at the Duke of York last evening at a Shop Stewards’ meeting and the car nearly ran over her.”
“What? Was she hurt?”
“Oh no – we saw her cross the road. I thought she might have been here.”
“Well, I wouldn’t know. Perhaps she was.”
“Yes. I’m afraid its bad. You know she actually admitted incest with her son. She was coming in at all hours, refusing to tell me where she’d been. When I told her that course led to prostitution she gave me a smack across the jaw and walked out.”
“Well, really, Bert, I shouldn’t be listening to this.”
He produced a cutting from the Times, a report of some fool Swedish psychologist advocating brothels for women over fifty whose husbands couldn’t satisfy them. “I tell you because there are young men here and she might be after them.” I thought of poor Fiona, her face worn and lined, her hair grey, and her age fifty-seven, but said nothing of the young men’s ability to seek out their own pleasures. It was difficult to stop him. But in the end I did – after he had told me that she was going “round telling everybody I’m mental”. “She’s never told us that,” I lied bravely. “Ah, no” said he, “you’d know me too well. Are those books for sale?” “They are not,” said I. And he said good day and departed. Of course the whole thing lies in the words “whose husbands can’t satisfy them”. His self-esteem could perhaps survive that while he had a position in the union, but not afterwards. I have advised Fiona to have no sentiment about extricating herself from her relations with him. After she has been strong, then she can be merciful.
Later Sean Redmond came back with material for a good story, and Peter Mulligan came in – later even Malachy McKenna we have not seen for some time. They started plans for getting the Central London Branch on its feet again. Charlie Cunningham came in. He had mistaken the day and thought the General Purposes Committee was tonight. He is trying to enrol for day classes in sheet metal work so as to leave his evenings free during the winter.
September 17 Thursday (London): I rang Fiona and told her about Bert Edwards – merely saying that I had not let on she had been to see me. In the afternoon she rang back. Last night she had contacted Roddy through Nora and asked him to come and collect the papers. He complained that it was more than his job was worth to take time off. She said he wouldn’t need to. Then he said he didn’t know whether the papers were very important. “You said they were,” said Fiona. “I don’t really remember what they are,” said he. “You know well enough,” said she. “Indeed, no”. “So have you let me put up with four months of misery for something you don’t even remember?” She was furious with him and slammed down the phone. The papers include James Connolly’s love letters to Lillie Reynolds, but Bert also has the manuscript of Dorothy Macardle’s “Irish Republic”, left to Fiona in her will. However, Fiona thinks she has done her best, and will now attempt to get her property by legal means, leaving Roddy to look after his own.
Michael Cooley rang up about Slough where Brockway [Fenner Brockway MP] has only 20 of a majority. When he saw Brockway four or five weeks ago he gave him an introduction to the Agent. Cooley wrote and waited a fortnight without getting a reply. Then he wrote again. Another fortnight passed. Then he telephoned and the Agent promised to pay him a visit last Tuesday night. Cooley brought a few friends round, but no agent appeared. Sean Redmond spoke to Eber, who thinks the agent regards Cooley as a dangerous Communist. Sean suggests Transport House [Labour Party Headquarters] are not too anxious to see Brockway returned and know that the Irish vote could return him.
We had a Standing Committee in the evening and Joe Deighan seemed vastly improved, almost his old self, though on Tuesday he was all gloom and despondency. He has become a desperately moody man.
September 18 Friday (London): Today was an uneventful office day. But one thing did strike me. I was wondering how we are going to save the Welsh nation from destruction. I was pleased to see that the CP has come out for “self-government for Wales”. This will be widely interpreted as a socialist piece of administration, not a National liberation. But if it was regarded as the latter, then an alliance between the Nationalists and the Labour movement would become possible, and those Welsh-speaking quarry towns could be the centre of it.
September 19 Saturday (London): The usual people came in, and in the afternoon Sean Redmond went to the MCF Council. He thinks Eber is a mischief-maker. I think it quite possible. He spoke to a woman who said she would find out about Slough.
September 20 Sunday (London): We had a firstclass meeting in Hyde Park in the afternoon. Malin, the white-haired epileptic, was there with people I judged to be Trotskies. But Lawless, MacQuaid and company have disappeared. Even the B-man was comparatively quiet.
September 21 Monday (London): I rang Joe Deighan in the morning and he was very pleased with his trip to Manchester. What has happened I don’t know, but his mood is the best since he came to London. I know he has put in an application to leave East Ham. Another curious thing is that Dorothy his wife, who is a Manchester woman, refused to go back with him even on a visit. Sean Redmond found out that the reason why the Labour Agent has not contacted Cooley is that some Irish Labour councillors are afraid of the Connolly Association establishing itself in Slough.
Brian Farrington called in to see us. His mother used to drive Countess Markievicz around the country, but she went Free State in 1922. Maire Comerford got her a war pension just the same. He is to spend a year studying in Manchester – computers. After that he hopes to get a university post here. He went to Paris in 1946. This year he was there in August. The crowds were absent. The place was quiet. Suddenly he realised consciously what he had already acted on practically. This was what Paris was when he first went there in 1946. He realised that now he no longer enjoyed living in it. The mad rush, the queues, the traffic blocks, the glass and aluminium civilisation, the crazy acquisitiveness in material things when all human relations decay, all sickened him of the place. And he believes he prefers Manchester. At least, he says, it has people in it and not the ill-mannered louts of the south. He is an extremely intelligent person and gave us a very good picture of the situation in France.
September 22 Tuesday (London): I had intended going on from Ripley to Birmingham, but a card (with birthday greetings for next Sunday!) from Helga [MacLiam] said she was arriving tomorrow. When I reached the office – without impedimenta – a cable to Sean Redmond said it was Thursday. Still, I decided I would only stay. So I went to Ripley and back in the day. I found Sean in the office in the evening. This is quite a new development. He used to go home whenever he could, which meant when I would not be there. But though this betokens energy, whether it is really good I’m not sure. His manner has been curiously reserved since we got back. I was watching him with Peter Mulligan and saw the differences there too. So possibly something has happened in the background he doesn’t want to speak of. It is not that he ever displayed high spirits, but together with most conscientious work there is a loss of them. So we will see.
September 23 Wednesday (London): No great event took place today. Sean Redmond told Cooley about his conversation with one of Brockway’s lieutenants, which revealed that there were certain Irish characters in Slough who disliked the CA and feared its influence. But taking too seriously our indignation at being played with for six weeks, he told Cooley, “no recognition no help”. When I suggested that the whole basis in Slough was mistaken – i.e. getting a register of Irish voters – he said it was a Standing Committee decision to compile such. I replied that my recollection was that it was a fait accompli reported to the Standing Committee. Sean Redmond took out the minutes, read them and closed the book without saying anything. I insisted on seeing it and found I was right. But there was no withdrawal nor would he ring Cooley to revise his advice. I did it myself from my home telephone and said nothing. Cooley said he had argued against Sean’s “tough” line but had not persuaded him. So Sean’s behaviour is due to a wee touch of conceit. Young people can get this, but usually grow out of it.
September 24 Thursday (London): When I got into the office in the morning, which was early, the electric light was on. I went away again, to make some purchases and on my return it had been put off or had broken down. Mrs Eber said a man had called and borrowed a chair. She lent it to him, whereupon he climbed up to the fuse-board, and did something, after which he returned the chair and departed. The current was shortly afterwards found to be cut off. Sean Redmond had a word with Eber who telephoned the “airy-fairy” young man reported to have inherited the building. This proved to be none other than the “gift man”, leather-goods merchant and pornographic literature purveyor who had come in and “bought the whole thing” some time ago. Eber had no satisfaction, as he told me. So I rang him myself and listened to a torrent of bile. He had not realised till now we were his tenants, or indeed the people below, and was most upset. Binky could not have paid the bill. But who would think Binky would do a thing like that? He would go and see the Electricity people tomorrow. He had not asked for the rent because until Monday – he hoped it was, but it might be Thursday – he had not been entitled to receive it. He would soon be along for it. I spoke to Eber. “This place,” he said, “is only a blind for an international smuggling racket. He’s not interested in it.” Later his mood had changed and he told Sean, “I’m an Asiatic. I’m prepared to sit in the dark. You’re wild Irishmen rushing around from pillar to post. But I’ll not lift a finger”. Yet at 5.30 pm he was down asking if we’d got any sense out of Wakefield.
At about 7 pm. Joe Deighan appeared. He was at first apparently in good form. But later the defeatism appeared again. Was soll all der scham und last? [What is all this burden and trouble about]
September 25 Friday (Birmingham): The electricity was not reconnected by the time I left for Birmingham. There I met Frank Small, full of enthusiasm and optimism. I wonder if he will keep it up. I have more than half a feeling that he might. We went out with the papers but found it very difficult to do anything with them.
September 26 Saturday (Birmingham): We went out with the paper at midday and had as bad a response as I ever remember. I had a talk with Ellen O’Brien in the bookshop. She said she expected the party vote to drop as the general atmosphere was one of apathy and indifference. She spoke of her former husband, Pat O’Brien, once our secretary in Birmingham. It is eight years (tempus fugit) since he left her and now he is only “a man she once knew”. This is charitable of her. I said to her that since he wasn’t prepared to be an Irishman he was incapable of being anything else. She then told me that his mother was an intense Republican and that when she suggested that a broker in difficulties should come to England for work, she said, “We’ll live in our own country, if we starve.” She was, of course, always the one who urged him to work in the Connolly Association. She said he was intensely jealous of anybody who was articulate, for example Roscoe Clarke, Bill Alexander – “or yourself”, she said with emphasis. Our experience in the evening was as bad.
September 27 Sunday (London): Today I was 51, bad luck to it. But even so, I have not the great accomplishment of age that it “doesn’t care”. Das kommt. And then God help some people. We tried the papers most of the lunch time. But both of us agreed Birmingham was the last place God made! We returned to London and Reading respectively and I went out with Sean Redmond in the evening.
September 28 Monday (London): There is still no electricity. I spoke again to Wakefield, who was more voluble than ever. The object of his temporisations became more clear when he explained that the electricity people “did not like” the arrangement by which the landlord paid the electricity bills irrespective of the amount consumed, but preferred each tenant to have his own meter. Our lease contains the provision that the landlord provides electricity.
The difficulties with Sean Redmond continue. Today I went over to his desk when he had some document in his hand. He deliberately raised it so that I should not see it. Later I discovered that it was of no importance. Thus we have the desire of young people to be important. And what can be done about it? Of course they will do this, and to what effect? None.
September 29 Tuesday (London): Still no electricity, though the splendid weather continues. What a September! The finest month of the year at its finest, now finishing unfortunately, but giving way to the second-finest month, so we must not grumble. Wakefield made his demand on Eber that he pay for lighting only and not heating. So gradually the plot unfolds. I found Sean Redmond laboriously drafting at a letter to be sent to the Press. His behaviour has its positive aspects. He is trying to be as big as his job and the crudities come from this. I gave him a few terse sentences and I think he was glad it was out of the way. However, he will have to do it himself through practice. The effort he is making is, I think, the key to the whole thing, and one must not be irritated.
We have had high jinks with Falber. Last Sunday week Robbie Rossiter told me of ructions in his branch of the CP because he was helping Lipton [Marcus Lipton MP for Brixton] in the election and refused to go to North Battersea. I told him not to take up this extreme position but to do a bit of both. He agreed and I wrote to Mahon[John Mahon, London CPGB organiser] and Falber explaining the position. Yesterday an incredibly rigid authoritarian letter came from Falber saying that I could “solve Rossiter’s problem by saying he goes to Battersea.” As if Irish men could be ordered about. I acknowledged it, and that was all. Today a very sensible letter came from Mahon, agreeing to a compromise, and I propose to regard Mahon as the zustandige behorde [competent authority]. Last night and tonight I did a little canvassing for Jack Nicolson [A local CPGB candidate].
September 30 Wednesday (London): The great weather continues. Each evening the sun sets in a cloudless sky leaving a fiery semicircle behind it – I imagine the product of recent vulcanism. I forgot to say yesterday that one of Nicolson’s committee rooms is at young O’Hanrahans. He was developed into a high-pressure personality monger – selling of all things industrial consultancy. “Have you any bright young men in the Connolly Association?” he asked. “I want them young. I’ll teach them to sell. I’ll mould them in my own image.” “Don’t do that,” I begged. “They’ll earn £4000 a year.” “Make it five thousand and I’ll see.”
October 1 Thursday (London): Still the lights are off. Eber and I sent an ultimatum to the landlord demanding that he make the connection by 10 am. on Saturday or we would do it ourselves and debit the rent. For Sean Redmond rang the electrical people who told him that Wakefield had said there was no point in his making the connection as he was re-selling the building. The shop down below, we find, is his all the time, so he must be supplying that with electricity. But since it is dubious if he does £2 of business there a day, it must be a cover for something else. I chanced to ask Sean Redmond if he could live on his salary. “I’m not paying my way at home,” he said. From then on his curious reserve disappeared – so perhaps lack of money is what was the matter with him. That is an understandable thing – but not to keep silent about.
October 2 Friday (London): No moves on the light front. Eber told me that tomorrow he would take the necessary steps to have the current restored in accordance with the terms of our ultimatum. What happens then we wait to see. There was great interest over the Belfast riots and we distributed a handbill. I learned that Robbie Rossiter is in a very sulky mood. So trouble is not over. In the evening I was with Sean Redmond in Kilburn. His puppy-doggishness is not diminished and I wonder if more money might make it worse. Slowly increasing is his habit of stylizing his words, putting on minced or pompous utterance, so that he drinks his own eloquence as one might take a bottle of wine. It is always a sign of gross conceit. But he is working well enough. Having got to some degree on top of this job as he conceives it, he thinks he has nothing to learn. However, I propose a temporary retirement to do my book, as from October 17th, and I will leave putting up with his idiosyncrasies to other people and for the moment will take no more notice.
Just how retired I will be able to be however comes into question from Gerry Curran, who had undertaken to get out the December paper. Now Toni Curran tells me he has a hernia, which will have to be looked at.
October 3 Saturday (London): About twelve members picketed the Ulster Office. The Daily Workergave a wee puff – on Tuesday when I first heard about the Belfast ructions I rang Gillet, News Editor, and urged him to carry something. Nothing appeared till Friday, the decision apparently being taken on Thursday when the Trades Council report came in. I had written to Mathews on the Thursday pointing out the constitutional questions involved [George Mathews, “Daily Worker” editor]. The picket was shown on midday television news, after which Charlie Cunningham, Jim Argue, Pat Hensey and Peter Mulligan came into the office. Peter having spent two days getting home from Eastern Europe in the summer, has to work every Saturday till he has made up the time. There was even a directors’ meeting to discuss his absence! He works for Lewis’s the medical bookshop.
The electricity is still off. While Sean Redmond and I were sorting papers by the light of hurricane lamps we saw Pat Malin across the road, with “mott”. To our surprise he came in and bought a Democrat. Then he noticed me in the dark corner and started to vituperate. “I’ll get you. Don’t think you’re impregnable. I’m not fucking Pat Dooley in the grave. You’ll change the look on your face before I’ve finished. I know you. I remember you at the EC waiting for the cat to jump. And Betty O’Shea got you out of the shit. And I’ll tell you more. I’m disgusted with the fucking Daily Worker over these past few days.” “There’s the door,” said I, and he retired cursing and swearing. He must be mixed up with the Trotsky bunch.
We went to Camden Town where I was amused by an extremely embittered Belfast character who sometimes comes to the Park. He evidently thinks I am a Dublin man and, proud of his city, he declared, “Listen! If you come to Belfast with me tonight and shouted ‘Up the Republic’ you’d see more in five minutes than you’d see in Dublin in a hundred years.” I assured him I had no intention of making the journey at all. Later on we met Luke Kelly the singer, whom Sean Redmond is anxious to book for the 17th. I heard, incidentally that Eamon MacLoughlin is writing a new “play”, to be performed as soon as November 4th. De Wrixon, who cannot get a living as a singer and is working as an ophthalmic surgeon, is to sing for him. It is shocking that when every mouth that can show a set of teeth in it can make a thousand pounds, an accomplished singer like De Wrixon can’t keep going.
October 4 Sunday (London): There was a very sizeable crowd at our meeting in Hyde Park, very anxious that something should be done about Belfast. I spoke myself followed by Robbie Rossiter, Joe Deighan and Peter Mulligan. It must have been one of the largest held for many years. Rossiter had a talk with me. He still feels that he has been hauled over the coals for one error while the others have got away scot free with the opposite one, and of course he is right. But I want the wind taken out of the sails of the more carping critics.
October 5 Monday (London): In the morning Fitzmaurice the Republican came in. He told us that Clann na hEireann had decided on a meeting in Hyde Park next Sunday followed by a walk to Whitehall. After a while I said that we would cancel ours in Hyde Park. He then invited us to come with banners. I came back with a suggestion for a joint meeting, with other organisations drawn in, and a march to Kilburn and Brooke’s house [Henry Brooke MP, the Home Secretary]. He agreed and promised to put the matter to his colleagues and return to our Standing Committee tonight. We were of course very pleased and our hopes ran high of unity at last. But at about 9.45 pm. he came back, this time with Campbell. He explained that it had been decided to proceed under Clann auspices but that our participation was invited. He spoke of thousands outside the Home Office and hinted at violence. “You intend to control it?” asked Joe Deighan. “Of course.” But, he explained, they would decide what to do when they saw how many were there. To cooperate with the CA would have a bad effect within their organisation. There was considerable arrogance in his manner, and meanwhile Fitzmaurice sat silent. What then, I asked, did they want? Campbell replied that we should do nothing to take people away from their demonstration and that we should attend and walk as a group. Joe Deighan tried to get discussing alternatives, but Campbell said he could not wait.
When they had gone Joe was in a very emotional frame of mind and told Sean Redmond he was “taking orders from Sinn Fein” when he advised participation. After some time however we persuaded him to agree to participate. But his mind moves in sentimental categories, and here was where Sean showed clearly he had the sharper brain. Joe has a habit of disassociating himself from the common cause when he feels it is suffering a setback – thus Sean was taking orders not himself. He repeated Dorothy Deighan’s assertion that the Connolly Association had nothing to tell the Irish in the Park to do – when in fact Joe had taken questions instead of listing the proposals he had undertaken to go with.
October 6 Tuesday (London): We were busy all day, and in the evening I went to help Nicolson again. I will be surprised if he polls a thousand, if the rest of the constituency resembles our bit of it. The light was reconnected today.
October 7 Wednesday (London): A phone call came from Peter Kelly in Belfast saying that Ina was arriving on Friday, but I rang her up at Nora’s and confirmed it – enough correspondence and counter-correspondence to fill a library. Among other things we learned Gerry Curran has a hernia and may have to go into hospital. I was asked to go to help Jack Nicolson draft a leaflet. “Now what am I to say to all those wild Irishmen?” His ignorance of even the most elementary things about the Six Counties was abysmal. And he was merely anxious to get some stock answers, showing no real curiosity about the basis of recent events.
October 8 Thursday (London): We saw Gerard Curran in the evening. He is not too easy about a possible spell in hospital but goes to see a specialist on Monday. Sean Redmond offered to get the paper out for me if Gerry cannot. Joe Deighan is in an improved mood, but perhaps his many troubles this year have made him incapable of feeling or expressing enthusiasm. He showed none even at a profit of something like £300 on the ninepenny paper.
October 9 Friday (London): I saw Seifert in the morning who promised to find out who our landlord is and if Wakefield doesn’t want the rent, then who does. He was highly amused at the situation. Then we met Ina at Euston and took her to the SCR [Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR]. She is staying with Zelda Coates. Sean Redmond said that while I was with Seifert Cox’s secretary rang up saying that Tom Durkin wanted the address of the Republican party in Belfast so that Les Burt could send a message of support. This is so odd a thing for Durkin, the apostle of anti-nationalism, that one could almost compose the Republicans’ reply for them, as follows: “Many thanks for your message of support and I trust that it assists you in your campaign.”
October 10 Saturday (London): There was much activity in the office this morning. I began to develop a cold and consequently did not go to the poster parade against Henry Brooke in Kilburn. Apparently Skeat saw it from his car and shouted “clap-trap” at it [Conservative MP for Willesden East, a seat which reverted to Labour in the October 1964 general election]. In this election great efforts are being made by both Liberal and Labour for the Irish vote. It is very amusing. The Belfast Telegraph contained a Unionist scare-story that British Labour was selling Ulster to buy the Irish vote and “132 Labour MPs supported the Republican Connolly Association.” A letter from Art MacMillan [Belfast Republican and regular correspondent with Greaves, brother of Liam MacMillan] sympathised with our difficulties with the “narrow-minds” of Clann na hEireann. I went to Kilburn at night with Chris Sullivan and Sean Redmond. There was no intense pre-election excitement, but the trend has become more markedly to Labour.
October 11 Sunday (London): I stayed in bed in the morning with a filthy cold. At about 4 pm. I went to Whitehall to see if the Clann na hEireanns were there. Not seeing them I took a bus to Marble Arch and saw our flag flying and Sean Redmond speaking. Pat Hensey and Jim Argue were there and Joe Deighan. Among them they told me what had happened. O’Sullivan had appeared from Belfast and a meeting was held exactly where we normally hold ours, so that people might well think it was ours. In his speech he glorified the Republican election struggle in the North and said that the tricolour would be on display again this week. Some say he said it would be defended with shotguns and fire-bombs if necessary, but I met nobody who actually heard this and regard it as possibly exaggerated hearsay. But departing from the agreement with us that the meeting was to deal with Belfast, he launched into a diatribe against those Irish who used their votes and added gratuitous attacks on Labour. Then they prepared to march and Sean Redmond undid our banner and gave it to Jim Argue and Pat Ward. It was placed towards the rear of the meeting. Then O’Sullivan appeared and said there was to be no banner but the Clann na hEireann. Sean protested about the agreement. O’Sullivan, the bearded imitation of Casement, was obdurate. For a moment Sean Redmond considered defying him to put it out. Unfortunately, he did not do so. He withdrew it and said he and Joe Deighan would decline to march as a protest. Pat Ward and Jim Argue also fell out. Others hesitated but went on. Thus our boys fell between two stools. A very large contingent, all of our supporters, marched off. The thing was entirely unsatisfactory and Joe Deighan was as usual deep in the dumps. Sean momentarily approached self-criticism, which was good for him, and I was very angry myself when I heard about it.
October 12 Monday (Belfast): I worked in the office during the day preparing a statement about yesterday’s incident for our own members. I foresee a long further period of struggle with the Republicans for the leadership of the movement in Britain. In the afternoon I went to Liverpool, had a few words with Phyllis on the phone and sailed for Belfast. I have heard from J. Cunningham of Carrick, Donegal, that he is the man involved in the Hay Mills Conspiracy case in Birmingham and I propose to go and see him.
October 13 Tuesday (Belfast): I met Jack Bennett outside the Telegraph and tried to find out what was the real position. Of the past he said that towards the end of last week the disturbances became an embarrassment for the Republicans. I was of course not in a mood to worry about their embarrassments. But apparently the rumpus interrupted all their election work. He said that people nothing to do with the disturbances (including a Newsletter reporter) were banged on the head, and the younger RUC men lost control of themselves. I had gone up Divis Street and I remarked there was not much danger. He replied that the riots were highly localised and the damage was repaired quickly. He says that Diamond [ie. Harry Diamond] is urging his case with the argument that he is the only candidate who can win. Fitt is helping Diamond, but not too much for fear of being too closely identified with him. The Republicans expect to increase their vote over that they got in 1959.
What will they do next, I asked, when they have got their “good vote”. “They are talking about a long-term campaign for the next election and of setting up a new Dail Eireann.” As to details even the romantic Jack Bennett could not regard the proposals as realistic enough to be so mundanely furnished. Of PJ Gormley he said that he and Currie were “more Republican” than the “Nationalist clique” and that Currie was believed to have swayed the Nationalists in refraining from sending up candidates against the Sinn Fein. I felt this was not satisfactory – why should those nearest to the “National political front ” (now dissolved in effect) be most anti-political? I have heard these “personal explanations” for years and invariably found that “one man in his time plays many parts.” “Currie was at the Manchester thing,” said Jack Bennett – and I presumed he meant the UIA [United Irish Association], but possibly he meant Birmingham. On Saturday morning Sean Kenny, who had told Tony Coughlan a few weeks previously that he had “retired from politics”, rang Sean Redmond and talked about a great “breakthrough” in Birmingham. Would Sean and I come up there, as Austin Currie and the devil and everybody else were holding a huge Irish meeting. Then his time ran out just as Sean was asking who was to pay the fare. When he came through again I was by the phone and held it. I elicited that he and McNally were extending a personal invitation to us to come and have a political talk. We can have that anytime, said I. When I suggested the Connolly Association ex-members should pay their subscriptions and rejoin he was somewhat less enthusiastic. The same morning I learned that McNally is leaving Dale End, so his connection with the left is weakening. Now I see from the newspapers that he has established a “Birmingham Branch” of Mrs McCluskey’s Social Justice. That lady sent us 20,000 leaflets on expensive paper by BEA at a cost of £3.17.6 freight. So much savoir faire have the novices. Their advertisement claimed that Caughey, Donnelly (who was named to contest Fermanagh), Tom Mitchell and heaven knows who else were to appear in Birmingham. So I asked Jack Bennett how did it come about that Currie was linked with Cllr. Donnelly? He did not profess to know. I sometimes think they are too amateurish to think that there may be a way to proceed in England. They think England is “England” and that is all you know and all you need to know.
Having left Jack Bennett I decided to go to Stormont. At about 12.45 in came Cahir Healy and Senator O’Hare, later to be joined by O’Reilly of Mourne, his brother-in-law from the USA, and Richardson. They invited me to have lunch with them and we were joined by Senator MacGill. Healy said that the reason why they did not contest against Sinn Fein was simple. They felt very bitter. “We could have three at Westminster,” he said, “and thanks to Sinn Fein we won’t get one.”
“Couldn’t you oppose them?” I said with assumed innocence.
He was quite irritated. “What’s the good? It would be money down the drain. We have only a majority of 200 votes”.
“Will they win?”
“Not a chance on earth.”
Naturally I addressed myself to the question of the effect of their intervention. “Will they get a good vote?” I asked.
“They’ll get a good vote now,” said Healy, “because of the disturbances. But they’ll not get a good vote at the next election. The people will be disillusioned.” He thought they had no chance even in mid-Ulster. The disturbances, he thought, were a Sinn Fein trick or alternatively a Unionist trick (he did not clearly specify) to get votes away from Diamond [Harry Diamond,1908-1996, independent MP for Belfast Falls in the Stormont Parliament, standing as Republican Labour]. All this was in the entrance hall. As we went up to the restaurant and for a moment or two halted in the Opposition’s room, he asked had the paper lost anything by going to 9d. He was astonished that it had not. He said the Irish News, which sells at 2d, pays 33 l/3% dividend, and has “enough reserves to go on years and years.” It is the strongest paper in Ireland”, with the biggest morning circulation in the North.
In the restaurant they asked would Labour win [ie. in the 15 October UK general election]. They were neither elated nor cast down when I said I thought they would. “Would it not help them?” “It should,” said Healy, “and anyway we couldn’t be worse off”. Richardson said he read the Democrat, which was sent to him, and gave me some verses about Kennedy he had written for his anniversary. McGill said very little. Reilly asked Healy why had Donnelly allowed his name to be bandied about and then withdrawn. “What is he?” asked the member for Mourne. “He’s a newsagent and tobacconist,” said Healy “and a bit of a decorator; he also runs an antique shop.” There were murmurs of surprise at the record of this enterprise. “And he builds houses for sale.” Some scepticism met an assertion that this alleviated the housing shortage when it was announced that the houses cost £3000, but Healy insisted, “It does help to alleviate the housing shortage.”
“Would he not be better to stay at that?” asked Richardson, but Healy explained in his curiously simple way that he was ambitious and wanted to be in politics as well.
This morning Jack Bennett told me about a fracas in Enniskillen in which the RUC had allegedly charged the platform party and a lad from Waterford was taken off to hospital. “They’re dreadful liars,” said Healy when asked about this, “The police protected them, and when the meeting was over they were away like a shot. They exaggerate everything.” Now Jack Bennett claims that the police used were in plain clothes, so possibly there is a misunderstanding here. Healy, also, has very poor eyesight, so one need not too readily assume lies on either side. He describes their taking away their flag. “They’re using the National flag for political purposes. It’s a shame!” he added.
He wondered why Wilson had given Mrs McCluskey assurances, and neither the Nationalists nor the Connolly Association [ie. regarding dealing with anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland]. “She’s a private individual.” “They wouldn’t reply to us because of the four NILP members, and he wouldn’t reply to you for some other reason,” he went on. They were annoyed at the recognition of Mrs McCluskey. I said I thought he changed his position after the disturbances but am not sure of the exact sequence of events. They spoke also of the great support they used to get from Reynolds News and Blatchford’s Clarion. On the whole they struck me as a very sad group of men, tired with long fruitless labour and seeing little way out of an impossible situation. Of the NCCL Healy was scornful when I said they would hold a conference. “They’ve been saying this for years and years.” Later Connellan appeared and they exchanged a few yarns. Then I returned to town with O’Reilly’s brother-in-law.
Later I saw Caughey in his office. He was as full of schemes and plans as champagne of bubbles. There was no stopping him. He was realistic enough to expect MacMillan [Liam MacMillan, the Republican/Sinn Fein candidate] at the bottom of the poll. But this did not worry him. I asked him what I had asked Jack Bennett – what next? After the election they would prepare for the 1966 election in the 26-Counties. This was the fiftieth anniversary of 1916. The South had helped the North in 1964, the North would help the south in 1966. They must send up at least 90 candidates. “We can’t expect the Irish people to treat us seriously unless we treat ourselves seriously.” This meant they aimed at a majority in the Dail. Of course there were only two years till 1966 (in my arithmetic there is 1.2 of a year) but look at the transformation that took place between 1916 and 1918. Then he explained how the committees in the constituencies had been dissolved in August, and directors appointed, who in turn appointed their men. “Dictatorship!” he smiled. Then he said the candidates could be regarded as deputies in a sense, since they represented a part of the Irish people. “Democracy has its uses … but ….” he smiled deprecatingly. The majority in the Dail, plus the candidates in the North would then “proceed to legislate for all Ireland.” “Well,” said I, “it is to be hoped you get your majority in the South.” He was pleased at this but waited for my reason. I felt like saying that only experience would bring him to earth but said it would give an opportunity to try out his policy in practice. But I then put my favourite conundrum. “What happens if you are unable to enforce your legislation North of the border?”
“Then we have to consider physical force.”
“You’d have to prepare the people for it.”
“How long would that take?”
“Then where does your situation then differ from that of De Valera in 1932?”
“We would break off relations with Britain, and appeal to the UNO. There are many countries that would support us.”
“That’s not the policy you first mentioned” – and he stopped because there is no reason to remain outside the Dail to advocate appeals from a de facto 26 county state to the UNO.
Then he spoke about the North. The main thing after the election was to force the Nationalists to withdraw from Stormont. “We must be ruthless. We must if necessary denounce them as traitors to Ireland. We told Harry Diamond that if he undertook to go up on the abstentionist programme we would not oppose him. But he said it would be ridiculous to stay out of Westminster when he went into Stormont.” He repeatedly stressed the need to be ruthless towards the Nationalists. They were the waverers. People were mostly swayed by their fears. Men wouldn’t pay their radio licences except for fear of a fine. So, and again he paid tribute to the “uses” of democracy, we should emulate Grivas who freed Cyprus.
“Cyprus is not free”.
“Well, I know it isn’t completely.” (This from a man who will not recognise Lemass)
“The reason they failed was that they did not accept the cooperation of the Trade Union Movement”. But some of his agitational ideas, for contesting local elections and trying to enter council chambers without swearing oaths, were sound enough.
When I left him, very disturbed at the prospect of his launching an all-out onslaught on the Nationalists and telling him bluntly that I did not think he could afford to neglect the working class who were still Unionists while he regrouped the forces that were already Nationalists, and perhaps needlessly, I went to see Art MacMillan. Here my reception was different. He is on shift work but got up out of bed to see me. Instead of the curious set smile, the slight stiffness within his cordiality, as if something was permanently in reserve, here was openness and frankness. He also was opposed to participation in Parliament but thought the Nationalists could exist as a coordinate “political wing” able to do what Republican principles forbade Sinn Fein to do. He said he was now convinced that Stormont disliked political activity by Republicans as much – or nearly as much – as it disliked their unconstitutional activity. I weighed in against Caughey’s plans for internecine warfare and won ready assent. Moreover, he had been talking with Betty Sinclair, had read the CPNI document and had ideas of forming special Sinn Fein branches of which any Trade Unions could be members. He said he was continually urging a less rigid approach.
When I went to Lisburn and saw Jack Bennett I had of course distinguished the two men by their class position. The stand of the Sheetmetal Workers under Barr [Andy Barr, leading Northern Ireland trade unionist and CPNI member] had weighed much with MacMillan. Caughey was the businessman [He ran a debt-collection agency]. And indeed to him, sitting with filing cabinets full of the financial intricacies of the unfortunate people who had fallen into the clutches of the hire-purchase sharks, it was an easy reflex in that men are ruled by their fears. (I wonder has he possibly been reading Machiavelli? I doubt it. He is not highly cultured. But he might.) But when I began to tell Jack a new thought flashed across my mind. I thought of the set half-smile, the faint half-hearted amusement at things that were not funny at all, the failure to answer the question you ask, the set course in accordance with principles purely internal, and I said, at random, “I wonder if Caughey is bonkers”.
The effect was immediate. “The very thing! The same idea has gone through my mind.” He undertook to try to prevent the proposed anti-parliamentarian witch-hunt. He pointed out that in Fermanagh at least a Nationalist agent had built their election machine for them, organised the postal vote and made possible any showing that they made. “And after the election he is to be denounced as a traitor.” Then he told me about the weekend. When Fitzmaurice came in I rang him to see if anybody would come over to the proposed joint meeting. He rang Caughey. Caughey said he did not agree that the Clann na hEireann should cooperate with the Connolly Association but rang Dublin for instructions. Bennett says he knows that Caughey was involved in a long telephone argument with people in Dublin who thought joint action was necessary, but finally Caughey had his way. So now we know what happened at least in part.
October 14 Wednesday (Belfast): In the morning I called to Ina’s friend Peter Kelly whose grandfather was Larkin’s lieutenant in 1907, or so he says. He is in his late fifties, runs a “fish and chip shop” (as Caughey calls it), or the “Savoy Super Saloon” as he calls it himself on the front. With him was a Derry lad, in his early twenties. Strange enough, both thought the Republicans should enter both Stormont and the Dail. Anna Bennett this morning told me that the Falls as she knew it was solid for Diamond. She had been at her mother’s during the riots[stimulated by Ian Paisley, who attempted to lead a Unionist crowd up Divis Street in the nationalist area to remove the tricolour from the Sinn Fein offices there] and the result was to rally support for Diamond despite sympathy for the Republicans, because Diamond could win, but Kelly expected Sinn Fein to win three seats. I imagine they could just manage to win one – mid-Ulster.
Then I read on the paper that Diamond had cancelled his rally in the Falls tonight because of the danger of riots. The Unionists were in the first edition of the Telegraph with a statement that “The issue of this election is the border.” On the fourth Sinn Fein had decided to fly the flag at their rally, and Liam MacMillen challenging Diamond to withdraw his “traitor’s oath”. The Government had on the other hand guaranteed all candidates equal rights. I rang Jack Bennett and told him I thought I would not be missing a story by returning to Liverpool tonight, and after ringing the Telegraph (he was at home) he agreed.
Incidentally, I noticed in Peter Kelly a pronounced English accent of a somewhat upperclass variety, though he said he was Belfast born and bred. He said he was “secretary” to Sir something-or-other Cunningham and was later an officer in the RAF. So that is where he got it. He was hopping to the phone and back from it all the time, full of enthusiasm for the Republicans. He had driven to Dublin to bring up Ina Connolly to present MacMillan with a “lucky horse-shoe”.
Before returning I went to see an old Republican Jack Bennett told me about. My object related to Mellows, and the notes are elsewhere. His name was Tom Flynn. Both he and his wife described the Republicans as hooligans, deplored abstentionism and were quite unaware of their illogicality in complaining that in their youth Devlin’s party had called them almost exactly the same thing. They will support Diamond. I left Belfast at 8.30 pm. for Liverpool.
October 15 Thursday (London): Today was polling day and we did little after I got back to the office around 1 pm. but speculate and talk about Belfast.
October 16 Friday (London): Very much what we expected took place, and Labour seems to have won an overall majority of four [also ending thirteen years in opposition. In Northern Ireland the independent Harry Diamond contested Belfast West but the nationalist vote was split between him and the Republican Liam MacMillen, the seat being won by Unionist James Kilfedder]. My own estimates of the Six County position proved correct and Kelly’s wildly optimistic. Liam MacMillen got fewer votes than his predecessor. Unfortunately, the results we were most interested in came so late that I could do little on the paper. Joe Deighan and Gerry Curran attended the Standing Committee and Toni Curran sent a note to the effect that if we could pay for a baby-sitter she would continue to be secretary of the company. I wonder if it will work out. It would surely mean a day or two evenings a week.
October 17 Saturday (London): Instead of the sales we had a “Victory Social” in Camden Town, which was quite a success, with new members into the bargain. At the 25/- rate this rapidly raises funds and Sean Redmond became quite cheerful. Desmond Logan came on the scene “with mott” – a pleasant unpretentious Dublin girl out of Tuairim. He says he is going into hospital once more with blood pressure. But if he hadn’t one thing he would have another. In my opinion it is all nervous tension. Like Gerry Curran he has a weak nervous system and the decisions of life are a strain, and its endless purposefulness tires him. Fitzy [John/Jack Fitzgerald, CA member] was there, paler and more woe-begone than ever, and such more cheery characters as Chris Sullivan, Pat Bond, Joe Deighan (in good form again mercifully), Sean Redmond’s parents, Eugene Downing, Aine Redmond (who knew Fitzy would be there, so the intrigues go on), Peter Mulligan – and many more.
October 18 Sunday (London): The Executive Committee was held in the morning, and as well as Michael Crowe, Tom Redmond and John McClelland, we had Mulcahy from Northampton, a Waterford man, John Lalor from Oxford, and of course the London people to whom might be attached Michael Cooley of Slough. This was a very serious and united gathering, one of the best I can remember. In the afternoon Joe Deighan, Sean Redmond, Tom Redmond, Peter Mulligan and Robbie Rossiter spoke in the Park and had a fine gathering. One of the Clann na hEireann boys was talking to Michael Keane, who told him of the trick they played last week. He agreed that O’Sullivan’s attack on Labour was unjustified and that he should not have told the Irish how to vote, or to be precise how not to vote. I spent the time on the paper. On the whole everybody was satisfied with the outcome of the events of the past few days, and there is a feeling that a turning point has been reached. But mercifully there are few of the illusions of 1945 and we hope there will be few of the mistakes.
October 19 Monday (London): I finished and sent off the last two pages of the paper and wrote off a few letters on the book [ie. his biography of Liam Mellows] to Rice of New York, Piaras Beaslaí, Liam Redmond, Tessie O’Shea and Bulmer Hobson.
October 20 Tuesday (London): The day was spent sorting out odds and ends in the office in view of my proposed temporary concentration on the book. I went to East Ham in the afternoon to see Toni Curran. She has arthritis. Gerry Curran goes into hospital on Thursday for an operation on a hernia.
October 21 Wednesday (London): Today I went to Ripley. Everything was for once in good order there and I caught the return train with an hour to spare. Peter Mulligan, who has had to find lodgings in Kilburn, came in.
October 22 Thursday (London): A note about Gertrude Biddulph came from Rita Brady and I decided to go to Somerset House and search the birth records for 1880 – 1900. I found a Mary Gertrude Biddulph born in Leeds in 1898 and calculate from other dates that she might be the daughter of either W. Mellows’s paternal uncle’s daughter or his paternal aunt’s daughter. The certificate should arrive on Saturday and we shall see. The Standing Committee was held in the evening, with Joe Deighan.
October 23 Friday (London): I spent the day between flat and office clearing up arrears of Connolly Association and other work and getting off some literary enquiries in various directions. In the evening Frank Small and Peter Mulligan came in and I was in Camden Town with Sean Redmond.
October 24 Saturday (London): The expected birth certificate arrived. It seems I have struck a bull’s eye. Gertrude Biddulph was the daughter of Ernest and Henrietta – the name of Liam Mellows’s elder sister, and was born at 66 West St., Leek, which street being the address the 1885 insurance was taken out at. But her name is written Mellor, not Mellows, so that (scribal errors apart) there is a new mystery. I went back to the marriage register and found Henrietta was the first child and the marriage was also registered in the name of Mellor. I ordered a copy of the certificate and we will see what it brings.
I spent the rest of the day writing letters and in the evening with Joe Deighan and Sean Redmond in Camden Town. A problem in West London has arisen. The members are getting very heavily into arrears with returning sales proceeds. I had a word with Charlie Cunnnigham about this and hope I have found out the position soon enough. It is due to the absence of a proper treasurer now that Toni Curran is in effect out of action. The problem is whether to take the bull by the horns and engage extra staff or struggle along till we have a greater reserve.
October 25 Sunday (London): I went to Hyde Park in the afternoon and we had a very good meeting. They continue to improve. Peter Mulligan and Pat Hensey were there with Robbie Rossiter. The Sion Mills B-man was making a nuisance of himself. The arch-Unionist is a shunter at Old Oak railway depot at £10 a week! I arranged with Michael Keane to collect paper money at each branch meeting. In the evening Sean Redmond came in and we went to Camden Town. I am rather in two minds about doing a pamphlet on the Belfast election. The difficulty is getting any publicity in the British Press. Yet I cannot afford the time from the book. So the decision is a difficult one.
October 26 Monday (London): I heard from the Medical Superintendent of Ballinasloe Hospital that Julia Morrissey is not in a mental state to answer any questions or give out information. So that door is closed.
October 27 Tuesday (London): Liam Redmond sent me the address of Earnan O’Malley’s son and brother, and I wrote to the brother in Dublin to ask where O’Malley’s papers are. Also a most intriguing marriage certificate came, that of Ernest Biddulph and Henrietta Mellor, again not Mellows. She was of 68, not 66, West Street, so the parents must have got them a house next door to their own, and the marriage was in a Catholic Church. This links with Padhraig Fahy’s story that Liam Mellows told him how the old man in Leek told of former persecution of Catholics – I imagine in 1851, when there were sectarian riots in many places. I guessed there might be an intermediary form Mellors between Meller and Mellows and when I looked for birth certificates I found Henrietta registered in that form. I expect the certificates on Thursday. But I searched back from 1869 to 1859 without finding the marriage of Henry Joseph Mellor (so recorded), Henrietta’s father. The difficulty was looking at all the forms – Meller, Mellers, Mellor, Mellors, Mellows and Mellowes! I imagine the oldest form will be Mellors, this (the r being dropped or unpronounced) becoming Mellows owing to illiteracy.
In the evening on my return I found a letter from Dr Tessie O’Shea, the daughter of Mrs Walsh of Killeeneen. She is at a hospital in Abergavenna and is anxious to help. So thanks to a determined effort I am beginning to locate some of the key people and perhaps next Monday I shall be able to begin my tour of them.
October 28 Wednesday (London): A huge packet came from Southsea, its most important contents being a cheque for £793 which I banked [Elements of his aunt, Mary Greaves’s, will]. If my health holds I have now enough reserves to do what I want. Gerry Curran, by the way, has had his operation and is satisfactory. But Desmond Buckle [Leftwing negro activist] is dead at 54. It is never the rats! They seem to be immortal! The Editor of the British Legion Journal offered to publish an appeal for old pupils of the military schools Liam Mellows is said to have gone to. I sent him the copy at once.
To my surprise at about 2 pm. Phyllis rang up from Euston and said she was on her way to Chichester for an interview for a new job at Horsham. The scheme of turning Liverpool education upside down is reducing many head-teachers to assistants, and though she would not lose salary Phyllis feels she is not prepared to lose status and responsibility. Naturally she does not want to leave Liverpool to come to the dull and dreary south of England. But she would have to move from 124 Mount Road as it is so noisy with traffic and the new estate is breeding hoodlums.
In the evening, after seeing Phyllis at Victoria, I was in the office and saw Peter Mulligan.
October 29 Thursday (London): I did some work on next Sunday’s demonstrations, drafting material and such-like. Then I went to Somerset House. For what had arrived in the morning but a letter on the notepaper of the Irish Agriculture Wholesale Society bearing the signature of Gertrude Biddulph herself – with the additional forename Mary, confirming the whole thing. I searched for the marriages of John Biddulph and Henry Meller and as I anticipated, Meller became Mellors. So it looks as if the whole genealogy is now cracked wide open. The interesting thing is the connection with the silk trade, and the Catholic religion.
October 30 Friday (London): Once more I went to Somerset House, this time to collect the two certificates I ordered. The Mellors one bears the name of Henry’s father, which was Joseph, which is thus transmitted to his great-great grandson. And he turns out to be a master baker – the nearest thing to the grocer of John’s marriage. It was seemingly John who changed the name. But the Mellors were not illiterate. Others made their “mark” but not they. We strike illiteracy and the land almost simultaneously, and the first mills mentioned are not silk. But I do not know if Joseph was Catholic. The Biddulphs are Church of England till they intermarry with Mellorses; but whether Mellors or Morgans are Catholics I don’t know. I wrote to the Catholic priest at Leek and Aldershot, asking them to send me the information I require to Cathal’s.
When I returned to the office Sean sat talking to a police inspector. Our picket tomorrow enters the sacred precincts of the City of London and nobody may distribute any handbill advertising anything in that holy place. Sean had to give him plenty of information into the bargain.
October 31 Saturday (London): I went to the bank early, then to the office where Sean was getting ready for the picket of newspaper offices. Then I went to Desmond Buckle’s funeral. Peter Kerrigan [CPGB industrial organiser] was there – looking older but no more mellow, and R.Palme Dutt getting very frail and old-looking. Kerrigan delivered an oration. The two sisters were there and the old mother – apparently about eighty. The ceremony was performed by a Negro clergyman. Most of those present were negroes and there was an atmosphere of dignity and democracy about the whole proceedings. The oration, while adequate, lacked great inspiration. Woddis and Kay Beauchamp were there, and a friend of Margot Parrish who took occasion to tell me how difficult Cox was to work with – they disagree on issues of Nigeria. Of Margot he said her advocacy of decentralisation, including independence for Cornwall, had separated her from Cox, who does not even believe his own Welsh are a nation. But I observed that I considered she had become comfortable and cynical, and often things with some inherent sense in them could be exaggerated to a nonsense.
When I got back to the office who was there but Tony McNally, released from the Army at last. He is on his way to Birmingham to do the devil and all. Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Bond and others were soon there and the picket went off well enough.
I rang Phyllis to see how her interview went off. Very badly indeed, she said. The interviewers were scarcely gracious. She thought the job was allocated long before the interviews were arranged. But she now hopes for some delay in the reorganisation in Liverpool, whence a reprieve.
Later Frank Small came in and Peter Mulligan mended the famous old typewriter that the Connolly Association had in Dooley’s days – bought by the West London Branch, brought in by the notorious Jimmy Quinn and stolen by Sean MacEvoy with the object of spiting Dooley. When it was mended we let Frank Small have it to use in his work in Reading. I went to Camden Town with Joe Deighan. He seemed to be his old self again, tonight at any rate. But he is a creature of desperate moods and goodness knows what he will be next week. O’Shaughnessy, once of the South London Connolly Association, rang and invited Sean Redmond to speak at the Streatham Labour Party. “Be careful,” said Bob Rossiter. “He imagines himself as the voice of the Irish in the House of Commons,” said Pat White. Apparently he is leading a faction against the candidate who lost the election, and would not be sorry if he was to win one himself in some future Labour landslide.
November 1 Sunday (London): Quite a crowd walked round the newspaper offices [To protest at the lack of coverage of Northern Ireland events] with Larry O’Dowd at the head[Post office worker at King’s Cross PO and well-known Irish piper]. But the walk was so long that when it was over, instead of going out with the papers we all sat in King’s Cross and drank Bass.
November 2 Monday (London): Another shock came as the first hints of autumn intrude into the great year. The door opened and a full country squire came in. I didn’t recognise him – yet it was Bill Grove-White. He is as grey as a badger, has put on much weight and there is an unhealthy touch to him. He told me he had been smoking heavily, had acquired a cough and begun to spit up blood. He stopped, recovered and put on weight. He defeated the rector to get on to the Anglesey County Council on a recount by a majority of one. Two miles away that accursed atomic station has been established so as to anglicise a people already starved of employment to the point where they will accept anything. He has sold his caravan site and now retires to act the amateur in local affairs.
November 3 Tuesday (London): It was expected that Ina would be back, but she was not by all appearances on the train which Sean Redmond tried to meet but failed since it arrived early. We rang Zelda Coates who had no news of her. There was a possibility of her staying longer, and this she may do. I went to the meeting [probably the CPGB International Committee], which was quite interesting. The Irish document comes up in January and has been drafted for a final show-down with O’Connor and his gang [Leftists on the Irish question and antagonistic to the CA]. I thought Kay Beauchamp very chilly indeed, so possibly she knows of its contents and disapproves. But one cannot say.
November 4 Wednesday (London): In the afternoon Sean Redmond and I went to the Marx House exhibition and found that though it was concerned with the First International it contained no reference to Ireland, except that a document was concerned with the Irish in the USA. We saw Frank Jackson who said he had prepared the material on Ireland but it was not included. Then we saw the woman herself who happened to be there. She began talking about the difficulty of staffing the MCF, now all the MPs had got Government posts and Brockway was pulling out. Then she told us O’Connor had discovered that O’Riordan [Michael O’Riordan of the Irish Workers Party in Dublin] was coming over next week and had planned a meeting and social. I protested. She said she thought it was quite in order after the meeting in May. I replied that I understood the contrary and that this intervention in international relations by a private individual was extremely curious. Did I object strongly? I did – but unfortunately I could do nothing about it. “But you can”. “What?” “Give me a good reason and I’ll oppose it myself and have the matter suspended till the meeting in January has taken place”. So I gave her one or two and she promised to do it, I hope with success, but fear without it.
November 5 Thursday (London/Holyhead): I wrote to Cox and sent Kay Beauchamp a copy of the letter, putting yesterday’s conversation on paper. It is obvious of course that somebody in Dublin warns O’Connor of O’Riordan’s impending arrival. Who more likely than O’Riordan himself. I told Cox I thought we should be told officially and not learn when somebody else was planning activities we have been given no opportunities to discuss. After sending off a few more letters, I caught the “Emerald Isle Express” to Holyhead and left for Dun Laoire. I brought the bicycle with me, the object being to travel around the country and meet Mellows contacts.
November 6 Friday (Dublin): I saw the British Legion in the morning. They knew nobody who had been to the RHMS [Royal Hibernian Medical School] or Portobello Garrison School. I rang Roy and we had lunch together. He is poking his head into everything, writing articles here, there and everywhere, but as unsettled as ever, thinking of alternative jobs, and is his father’s son in every way possible. He was talking of grandiose research schemes. I told him frankly he would never complete anything, for if a slate fell off the roof he would spend a week up a ladder in preference to a shilling on a roof-tiler.
In the evening I went up to Inchicore (after having tea with Cathal and Helga and noting the huge size of ten-month old Béibhinn, a very attractive little thing) and called on Gertrude Biddulph. She lives alone in a small house, seems comfortably placed, completely uninterested in national politics, but displeased at the withdrawal of ‘bus and rail services. “The Government should look after the people.” She completely confirmed my genealogy and the equation of Mellows with Mellor. But she did not know of the previous spelling Mellors. Her mother was Henrietta Mellor, her father Ernest Biddulph. “Keep the Biddulphs out of it,” she said, “They are English. They wouldn’t want to be in this at all.” I said I knew they were a Protestant family, and she said she spent all her holidays travelling, mostly on the continent, with a cousin of that name who is a Protestant. The people in Leek with whom Mellows stopped were named Morgan, and one survives, unfortunately blind. Her parents never returned to Leek. Seemingly there was a sister of her mother’s named Mary, eleven years older than Henrietta, who lived in Leek and WJ Mellows used to spend his military leave there. Most likely he spent his honeymoon there also. The Morgans – I found the Mellor-Morgan marriage but paid little attention to “Morgan” – she believed came from somewhere near Newry in the Co.Down. But she understood that Catherine Morgan who came to Leek as a result of the famine, met Henry Meller in Leed and that he came from Kilkenny. She was surprised when I told her about Joseph Mellors the grocer. Her father never spoke to her about his brother John. But she understood that WJ Mellows’s father had died young and that the boys were put into the RHMS. This of course raises ferocious problems of chronology. She thought none of the younger generation were at the RHMS. She thought that Liam Mellows was taken from Ireland and lodged in Knutsford Jail and that once there he chose Leek to live in, saying he had relatives there with whom he could stay. This raises the question of his possibly visiting Leek. More likely the Morgans were the people she recalls spending a holiday with the Mellows family, so that there would be a return. When the visitors came and Liam Mellows was away, Morgan was very embarrassed. Police watched his house for six months. So now I can go to Leek and it should be soon.
November 7 Saturday (Dublin): I went into town and later saw Cathal and Helga and the petits on an Anti-Apartheid poster parade that numbered some sixty people. Asmal, the South African Indian, had organised it. Tony Coughlan was there, and Barry Desmond, not a very inspiring young man, and a few others. In the evening Roy and Tony Coughlan and Asmal and his English wife came to Finglas and later Roy picked up from her home Eithne MacManus, a former pharmacist in Killala, who was conspired against and all but bankrupted when her creditors came to believe she was sheltering IRA men during the recent Border disturbances. She is an extremely likeable and intelligent woman in her late twenties, a firm believer in the small farmers of the west and strongly allied with O’Donnell [She later married “Irish Times” journalist Michael Viney]. Ireland differs from England in holding many deeply discontented people of many classes. But there is no gathering place where they can pool their efforts.
November 8 Sunday (Dublin): I scarcely went out today. As we retired late, so we arose. So the day was spent reading and talking. Cathal and Conor [one of Cathal MacLiam’s three sons] are not too well.
November 9 Monday (Dublin): Cathal was ill today and did not go out till evening. I was in the city, called to the British Legion but got little result. The oldest known pupil of the RHMS left in 1911. At about 5 pm. somebody none of us knew left a mysterious typewritten note. “Meet me in door of Madigans, North Earl St. 7.30 pm. Jack (Sean)”. Possibly McCabe, I thought, and Cathal having recovered enough to go to an Anti-Apartheid meeting in Terenure, I went down with him, and waited till 8 pm. without anybody appearing. Then, as I went to return, a wave of fog enveloped everything. Traffic stopped. I had to walk to Finglas and Cathal returned at about half past twelve at night, in Michael O’Leary’s car.
November 10 Tuesday (Dublin): Rather tired after the late night and long walk in the fog I did not go North as I had intended. I decided to take up Gertrude Biddulph’s point that Catherine Mellows is said to have married again. Working on the chronology I decided for the moment to ignore the withdrawal of Fred Mellows from the RHMS that the Public Record office told me about. I had best see the record myself and follow it back. Clearly if this Fred was WJ’s younger brother, there must be something up to 15 years between the two births, very unlikely. Gertrude Biddulph talks of the two boys being “put in” the RHMS, so assuming that this would not happen till WJ was old enough, then he would not be old enough till, say, 1863. The other might have been old enough in at the earliest 1864 – so I thought Peter’s marriage must have taken place around those years. Let us assume John was killed in action in the Indian rising, say in 1859, allow time for Catherine, aged 19, to return (being presumably Irish) to Ireland, and there to re-marry, and we come to about 1861. Unfortunately, the marriage records do not go back beyond 1864, and there was nothing to my purpose in 1864-68. It seems just possible however that there might be something at Leek.
November 11 Wednesday (Dublin): I made a little more progress. At the National Library I re-examined Thom’s directories for 1898-24 and am now convinced that the entry for PJ Mellows is a printer’s error for WJ Mellows, and that between 1908 and 1916 the entry was not revised. PJ Mellows never existed, so the attempt to identify him with the supposititious brother Frederick or the boy at RHMS must be abandoned. That raises the question of who was the second soldier in the family photograph of 1904? Possibly a half-brother I thought. But where did the real brother go?
Then I looked up the dates of Co. Clare fairs in 1916 and found Scariff fair was due to be held on May 1st. This favours Monahan’s [ie. Ailbhe O Monnchain] chronology against Fahy’s, and since Monahan was there and Fahy not (though he was near) presumably Monahan’s should be accepted.
I rang Tony Woods in the evening and he promised to get me the address of the Flannery family in Clooncurry, Co. Sligo, where his mother came from.
November 12 Thursday (Dublin): This was an unsatisfactory day. I had a slight sore throat, which did not however much worsen. But at the National Library when I had ordered the wrong file of newspapers by mistake, I found a lawsuit involving the RHMS quite by accident, and references that will help, prize-giving dates etc.
November 13 Friday (Dublin): I failed to contact Colm O’Loughlin, so spent the day and most of the early evening in the National Library. I found the arrests in Belfast which Martin spoke of in July 1913, and also the throwing of the policeman into the Liffey on Christmas Day of the same year. Hastings was not mentioned by name. But it was not believed that O’Malley’s or Dr Maloney’s papers were there, though Hobson had said the latter were and Kevin O’Malley the first.
With Cathal I went to a lecture on Casement compared with Tone by old Dr Mackey. He is an enthusiast for his subject. He became interested when living in London and having his children baptised by a Father O’Carroll. This priest – at Highbury, I think he said – told him he was a chaplain at Pentonville and spent much of his last days with Casement, who hoped against hope for reprieve even to the last. Cardinal Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster, received a copy of the doctored diaries and announced that Casement should not be admitted into the Catholic Church unless he signed a statement to the effect that he was aware that he had committed misdemeanours in both his public and private life and apologised for them. This he signed. Then Fr O’Carroll noticed that he was dejected. He enquired the reason, and went at once to the Archbishop, recovered the statement and tore it up in Casement’s presence. Casement had, if this story is true, been prepared to apostatise on all his work in this world for the sake of the non-existent benefits of the next. So far had his sense of realism, political and religious, deserted him. That he would be relieved at the withdrawal of this folly is easy to understand. But then, said Mackey, Fr O’Carroll told Casement that he would use his own authority as a priest to accept him into the Church, which he did. The matter of confirmation was, however, a matter for the Bishop. Mackey said that some years afterwards Fr O’Carroll said to him, when he learned Mackey was returning to Ireland, “Do what you can to get that man a Christian burial,” and this he promised. He explained that there was a grave chosen years ago by his sister, and that it was proposed to move the remains there if the new British Government allowed it. Up jumped the Chairman of Sinn Fein, MacGiolla, and asked whether failing to bury the remains at Murlough would “cause dissension among the Irish people”. This is a curious circumlocution for “arouse the opposition of Sinn Fein”, who do not always like to shoulder responsibility for dissension which is sparked off by their own dissent. Mackey referred to Hobson, saying that even he seemed prepared to accept the genuineness of the diaries. But his last letter to me gives Dr Maloney great credit for vindicating Casement. Among others present were Tony Coughlan, Tadhg Egan, Sean Cronin and Mairin Johnston, and Eamonn Lyons and his brother. Eamonn Lyons has gone as grey as a badger. He talked about telling Justin Keating (now out of everything seemingly) that he wanted to join the Workers’ League. But I doubt there is much enthusiasm there. He does however judge the situation here well enough. It is like that across the channel – a Government that has persuaded people that they “never had it so good” [a slogan of Harold Macmillan’s Conservative administration]. The only cloud is the building strike, now affecting the suppliers, which has emptied the working class bars but left the middle class ones full.
November 14 Saturday (Dublin): Again I went to the National Library. MacLaughlin, who looks after Manuscripts, told me that O’Malley’s papers are only there for safe keeping and are far from complete. I therefore wrote to Cormac O’Malley, his son, who is at Harvard at present. As for Maloney, “He was a terribly conspiratorial man,” said Mac Laughlin, “and he deposited his papers here on the condition that they must not be opened until everybody mentioned in them was dead.” “Is there a label saying who is mentioned in them?” I asked. He didn’t know, but I presume De Valera must be mentioned. Then, said MacLaughlin, “You can tell what he’s like from his book – he’s worse than old Mackey!” Desmond Ryan also spoke disparagingly to me of Mackey. I think he is indeed capable of special pleading and does not always quote his opponent’s arguments when making a good case. But if it is true that the diaries contain the names of streets and other places in Dublin and Belfast which do not exist and never had any existence, and show other crude inaccuracies, then his evidence is to be reckoned with, and in my opinion he is right both on Tone and Casement.
November 15 Sunday (Dublin): I did little enough today, but hang about the house, making a few notes and reading.
November 16 Monday (Belfast): I left for Belfast on the 2.45 and alighted at Lisburn. Jack Bennett was just finishing his holiday in which he intended to dig his garden and did a bit of it. A letter from Tony Woods awaited me. He has been in touch with the Flannerys of Clooncurry and I hope to make contact with them next week. I went into town later and saw the Solicitor Sean O’Kelly. He told me he was in the Fianna in 1909 and believes Mellows came to Belfast but not for organising purposes. He defended HM Pim by saying that he was a director of companies and suffered financially. He thought that Seamus Mallon would be the most knowledgeable man in Belfast. He used to meet Liam Mellows at the quarterly Ard Choisde of the Fianna, and when the Belfast delegates went to Dublin he said they used to stay at Bulmer Hobson’s flat in D’Olier Street. He gave Hobson high praise, and it is astonishing how his reputation was blacked out. Hobson used to get them all up early so that the Catholic boys could go to Mass.
November 17 Tuesday (Belfast): I did plenty of running round but to little effect. Hugh Corvin, the accountant, to whom I spoke on the ‘phone said he was not in the Fianna at all, though his young brother was. He also referred me to Seamus Mallon, a great Gaelic League man. In the early evening I saw Hughie Moore [Northern Ireland CP official]. I had telephoned Sean Redmond in the morning and he said Hughie Moore had called to see him yesterday to say that Nolan had rung him on Thursday (the day I saw him for the second time) to say that another social was due and that he would not be going to England because of the “situation in the international movement”. Nolan had asked him to see Mahon, which he did, and then felt it was his duty to see me too, but found I was away. Sean Redmond felt that Mahon was urging forward these socials despite our objections, but we have the fact that none was held. When I saw Moore he retracted what he had told Sean Redmond, adding that as an alternative Nolan had suggested he see Alexander [ie. Bill Alexander, CP official]. I asked him about Cox. “It was only this weekend I learned there was an International Department,” he said. This I find exceedingly surprising. What did he think Cox was doing – though I now recollect Hughie Moore was not present at the May meeting, so that Nolan was sending one absentee to another seeking information. However I gathered Nolan behaved quite correctly, which is good. I decided that since we are going for a political argument, nothing was to be gained by holding back our views, so I explained what we thought, and he was certainly impressed a little. The key thing was this remark he says he made to Mahon, “If it is true that we have sadly underestimated the broad movement, we will have to do a lot of re-thinking.” A pity they didn’t think, then they’d not need to re-think.
I left Hughie Moore and went to see Tom Flynn. He directed me to Joseph Cullen, a man of 66 who was also active in the Volunteers. He knew of the Connolly Association and greatly respected Sean Murray – I think he may be an old Republican Congress man. Of Sean Kelly he said he had helped in re-establishing the Volunteers after 1916 but had pulled out in 1919 so as to concentrate on his career. I had already looked up the people Grey in the Derry Directory and found some people of that name. But now that neither O’Kelly nor Corvin nor Cullen knew very much, I came to doubt whether Tom Flynn’s contacts are as good as he thinks they are. Cullen spoke also about Joe Deighan and McInerney. He confirmed Corvin’s suggestion that Willie John Kelly of Dungannon might be worth visiting. He expressed the view that the IRA in the Six Counties should never have split and that the Belfast boycott should not have been ended in the Craig-Collins pact, as everything in the North then fizzled out. He described himself as a man of the “left” – there were no Catholic emblems in the house, or at least in the room – and showed the curious defeatism of those whose leftism comes from disillusion with Republicanism. He thought the British social services confirmed Partition and that people would “never give them up”. He felt however that the combined action of Protestant and Catholic was essential and that the “younger people” were “keeping alive the bitterness of the past”. He also recommended Seamus Mallon, who is apparently a prominent Gaelic Leaguer.
November 18 Wednesday (Belfast): I went into Belfast fairly late, bought a beret in the Scout shop and was amused at the raised eyebrows when I chose green. After lunch I saw Hugh Moore, but nothing much emerged. Later I visited Seamus Mallon and was reasonably satisfied that Mellows was not much in Belfast. I am not hopeful of Derry or Dungannon either. Just before I left old Joseph Collins came in and said he was in the Republican Congress, as indeed I guessed. Jack Bennett and I went to a bar in Castle Lane seeking the man who claimed to possess the Mellows letters, but unfortunately he will be off work till Friday. Nevertheless, I obtained useful background material.
November 19 Thursday (Gartin, Derry): I took the train to Dungannon and quite easily found “Willie John” Kelly, father of Liam Kelly of the Saor Uladh, now I understand in Canada. He is a white-haired wisp of a man, in ill health as he is, living quietly on the West side of the town. A large photograph of a young man with a Fainne decorates the room. He assured me that Mellows was never in Dungannon. He was not himself connected with Tom Clarke, but his father was and he directed me to Art Megahy, sexton of the Catholic Church, who showed me the house Clarke lived in, which is an odd attachment to some one-time quite pretentious two-storey villas. It seems the small house with only one low storey was built for the Clerk of Works when the Church was built. It was occupied by the Clarkes after they moved from the centre of the town and is now several generations in the hands of the Patton family, extreme Unionists who play in the Orange bands.
Leaving Dungannon I took a train to Pomeroy and cycled to Gartin Youth Hostel. The weather was bright and sunny and as mild as mid-October. At night it was possible to see three planets in the sky at once, and the sunset still held the high ruby glow characteristic of this year.
November 20 Friday (Derry): I cycled through Plumbridge and Dunnamanagh into Derry City and booked in at the Melville Hotel where Sean Redmond and I stayed. I had the problem of finding the Grey family. I rang Brian Friel who suggested the Derry Journal, so I went into its office and saw the Editor, Tom Cassidy. He believed the Grey family was in Limavady and rang an old IRB man, John O’Connor, who confirmed it. There was no evidence that Mellows was ever in or near Derry. He then rang Hugh McAteer, Eddie’s brother [Hugh McAteer was Republican, his brother Eddie was a leading Nationalist MP], who said the same and suggested I call in to him tomorrow morning. O’Connor mentioned a bar-man at Quigley’s hotel, Limavady, who might know the Grey family; one of them was active in 1922 at Ballybofey but apparently all had now died or emigrated. The prospects are then not bright. It seemed however that Hugh MacAteer had spent a year in the Journal office going through files for a history of “Derry’s fighting Story”, so I decided to go down to his office at the Foyle Travel Agency, William Street. He had just gone, a third brother informed me, but he gave me his home address. On the way up Beechwood Avenue, steep, dark and full of numberless houses I asked a young man where was 38. He did not know. Then we came to a handsome detached house – “That’s McAteer’s” said he. “The very thing,” I replied and knocked at the door. It was opened by Eddie McAteer’s son – who directed me to the other house, No. 38 being somewhat less pretentious.
Hugh McAteer was not in but his wife persuaded me to wait. He was taking a wee daughter to the doctor on the way from the office. I was made very welcome. When he came I found a more thickset not quite so tall figure as Eddie, with the same full grey hair. I judged him about fifty. He gave no sign of having ever heard my name before but invited me to a meal, which I declined, having had one already. “A pity,” he said, “we are usually able to produce something for anybody who comes in.” He expressed immediate interest in the project of a life of Mellows. “I always thought him as one of the most remarkable – for his economic views, or should I say social views. He would be more at home in this socialist age than the one he lived in. He was a generation before his time.” This socialist age! A few minutes before he came in I watched the news on the television and saw his elder brother introducing the new nationalist programme “for this socialist age”.
What was to my purpose was that McAteer explained that he had made exhaustive researches into the history of the movement in Derry with the intention of preparing a book on Derry’s “Fighting Story”. The notes are copious. But the book is not written, since he shrank from the labour. He had noted the visit of practically every important figure of the old days – for example MacDonagh – but had found no reference to Mellows. Nor was there any tradition. This in itself, he thought, was not decisive since he had had an agricultural inspector ask every householder in a townland in Inishowen whether Casement had stopped there or not. No recollection remained. Yet he had.
McAteer promised to send to Dublin the results of enquiries which he would set on foot at once. He would re-examine his notes and ask some of the old people. It is clear that his knowledge is extremely extensive and I strongly urged him to reconsider producing his book. “Its a matter of having the energy,” he said. Then we fell to discussion of other things. I mentioned the Cultrough and observed that Joyce explained the term as meaning an old graveyard. He thought the name was Cultra – back strand, as a place in Buncrana was called. But, I said, there were no strands, back or front, in Co. Roscommon – though in fact Clooncurry is in Sligo. He spoke of his family being from the Fanad peninsula, living there many years. His father used, or at least understood, the negative “Ni” of Munster Irish and this he attributed to refugees from Munster after Kinsale, who were known to settle there. Of the revival of Irish he said, “The people want the language revived, but they want the man next door to do the work.” This was said with much bitterness, and it was the bitterness of disillusion. He spoke of the decay of Irish in Derry and of the existence of one translation of the Bible into it by a Protestant clergyman, and remarked that to this day many a Co. Derry farmer uses the Irish equivalent of “oat field”, “holy field”, rabbit warren” etc. for his fields without the faintest notion either that these names are Irish or what they mean. A friend who came in, probably nearer sixty than fifty, sent back the conversation to Mellows, and again it was repeated that nobody had ever heard of his visiting Derry.
Of the question of Killybegs McAteer recalled the stories of arms running in the period before Howth, or around it. His evidence for it was “the police activity”, but apparently nobody who took part in it ever spoke to him. He suggested searching the file of the Derry News, which is in the National Library. When finally I decided to leave, he wished me the energy to complete the task, only then disclosing that he knew my life of Connolly, and again regretted he was “too lazy” to do his own book, revealing of course the disorientation of even the very best representatives of republicanism, for this is a man of exceptional character and ability, on a par with Sean Cronin. He invited me to pay him a visit anytime I was in Derry, and I returned to the hotel.
One amusing thing. I was saying how the Military History Bureau had dried up sources by preserving them and hoped what was preserved was not all as uncritical as what I had seen. “They made those statements to bolster pension claims,” he said, “or failing that they took care to say nothing at variance.” Then he told of a man in Derry who had helped many old Volunteers to get pensions. He was never a Volunteer and never took part in anything. But since he had dressed up their claims, they felt it a debt of honour to invent one for him. And all this “punk” as Moss Twomey called it, will be carefully studied somewhere around the year 2,000!
November 21 Saturday (Carrick): I had in mind cycling into Donegal, taking two or three days to reach Carrick. But on calling at the doomed GNR station to collect my bicycle I saw a bus for Sligo about to start. The driver held on a moment for me, and away we went to Donegal. There is no doubt at all that the standard of living is rising in Derry, and the shops display the absurd little Lord Fauntleroy costumes fashion-conscious women are being induced to hang on their television-bound children. For the commonalty, however, it is ubiquitous denim “jeans” and a variety of ersatz top-pieces. Still, the whole thing has risen a step.
At Donegal I found a bus for Killybegs crammed with school-children, and not on the time table. However, it got me there for lunch. There seemed quite a few small craft in the harbour. I was not there since 1947 when Alan Morton and I landed at Belfast, cycled to Newcastle and Omeath, across to Longford, Carrick and Blacklion, and called on old Captain Fforde at Bruckless, now a “Guest house, Grade A”. We stayed at Paddy-the-Cope’s hotel, which was full of Gardaí gathering up ten times their ration of butter. Today I noted the changes. A “music man” with trombones and non-electrical guitars is set up in Mountcharles. The two main shops in Killybegs are both self-service stores selling packaged goods of the usual appalling quality. The one or two old-type general stores are empty and liable to be out of stock of lines they fear to carry. The usual long-haired be-jeaned youngster appears occasionally, but on the whole the West is so far spared this.
I cycled on to Carrick, booking in at An Oige. What a sight met my eye. The common-room-cum-kitchen was deep in water from the splashes from a tap which was gushing like a geyser. “We’re waiting for a plumber,” explained Mrs Cunningham the warden. If I had a tap like that I’d not wait a day. This had every appearance of being sans warden for weeks. A film of moisture was on everything. But a few blankets from the hot press and a hot-water bottle I forearmed myself with were utilised to make a dry enough bed.
As soon as I had changed and had a cup of tea I went up to see James W. Cunningham, the contractor, who figured in the Hay Mills case. The journey was well worthwhile as he told me about the enquiry in the Four Courts of which Una Daly took the shorthand notes and which were burned afterwards, “much to the benefit of the Collins faction”. He insisted that his group in Britain were getting arms for both sides. If that is so then Mellows was living in the past and the war that broke out was not his war. He also represented Mellows as urging unity of the army even against the criticism of Brugha.
November 22 Sunday (Donegal): I left Carrick at about 11 am. and cycled in a leisurely manner to Killybegs and Bull Hill. There is a new warden, with a very Ulster voice. I noticed changes here as well as in Carrick. In each place there is a ban on transistor radios – a measure of the development of this menace. There is also the unheard of provision of a “sleeping bag inspection”, and something I never saw before in an Irish Youth Hostel, a request to ask the warden for “duties”. The warden told me that he now issues frying pans to individuals who must return them, as they are now otherwise never cleaned. The visitors are Germans and Australians – everywhere the German language is paraded, though I was glad to see eight words of Welsh attacking the English; a pity they don’t defend their country at home! The genuine hosteller who wants to be close to the countryside has gone. Instead it is hitch-hiking with the standards of the age of motor cars and portable radios. If they had as little effect on the country as the country has on them, all would be well, but unfortunately this is not so. Just before I arrived it began to rain heavily, but I was early enough to light a substantial fire, dry shorts, stockings and shoes, and have an evening looking over notes and planning the rest of the tour. While at Carrick I was the first visitor for a month, here it is only three days since three Australian women were here. What a mercy of providence I missed them!
I was thinking over the conversation I had with Hughie Moore last week. His girlfriend is in London, has joined the Union and the CP. Why did she not join the Connolly Association? “She’s in enough organisations already,” he replied. And this is the principle he works on, for if that is the case he must hold that the Association should not exist.
I intended to record JW Cunningham’s story about Sean Russell’s coming to see him in Birmingham to see if he could help with machinery to start manufacturing arms and ammunition. They had dinner in the restaurant near Steelhouse Lane where Cunningham was. Russell would not begin till he had blessed himself. “That’s a foolhardy thing to do,” says Cunningham. “Why?” “You know nobody does it in Dublin, let alone Birmingham. You’ll draw attention to yourself”. “Well, that’s my belief, and rather than belie it I’ll be arrested”. “And what about me? What about the organisation we’ve built up?” “Can’t be helped. I’ve my principles and that’s what I believe in.” He had a great respect for Russell just the same. Cunningham expressed the view that the Hay Mills case had political motivation [a reference to an unsuccessful raid for arms on a factory at Hay Mills in Birmingham in April 1922 which led to widespread arrests. Attempts were being made at the time to prevent the IRA dividing following the Treaty debates. The court charges involved conspiracy to subvert the Provisional Government]. “We were sold down the river,” he said “and the next thing we knew was the pact and the pact election.” In other words he regarded the pact as a capitulation to Collins.
November 23 Monday (Boyle): I intended to go to Ballyshannon, take the bus to Sligo and then go via Clooncurry to Boyle. But rain began as I rode into Donegal Town. I had a two-hour wait for the bus and went over to the Tirconaill Bar to see if Mr McGahern was there. He was not. He had gone to Mountcharles Fair. She told me that Mellows was almost certainly never in Donegal and there was no Fianna there in the early days. Nor did she know of alleged gun running in 1914. She knew Casement stayed with a solicitor across the road, but nobody knew him at the time. When the bus came I went all the way to Sligo and then on by train to Boyle. The expected rain did not materialise and I could have cycled a good part of the way, but my times had been upset. I stayed at the “Royal” Hotel, with the names of the proprietors on the door “Izaak Walton, Ltd.” Without delay I walked up to Greatmeadow and found Tom Flannery’s house. He was out, but his daughter spotted him away down the road and brought him in. He told me that the day of the Mellows-Russell visit was in June 1922, something over a month before he left the force. They left quite late in the evening, a Saturday, and Mrs Woods invited him quite casually. When they reached Clooncurry about 2 am. they sat and talked, till another car brought an unknown driver to the place which was a rendezvous. The party consisted of Mellows, who drove, Mrs Woods, Rory O’Connor, Sean Russell, Flannery, who occupied the boot and discovered how cold a June evening could be at the speed Mellows drove, and a man called McGuinness, “though that mightn’t be his name”, plus the two Plunkett sons. McGuinness, Rory O’Connor and the two Plunketts went off in the other car to Donegal. I immediately concluded that this McGuinness was the “soldier of fortune” who was going to look at harbours for his next load of guns. It was quite light when Mrs Woods started talking about leprechauns and some of them went to the “caldera”, an old fort on a neighbour’s land. They went to the lake and Mellows put up a target in a field and Flannery scored a bull’s eye. None were armed but Mellows, who had a Webley revolver. He recalled Rory O’Connor’s ill health. Though they had arrived in the dark he exclaimed, “There’s lakes round here” and seemed allergic to whatever intimation he had of them. He thought they none of them had any sleep for two nights and when next night the second car came back and Liam Mellows drove back to Dublin, he remembers Mrs Woods giving him pills to keep him awake. He said he was with Mellows soon afterwards in the pub next to the Scotch House on Burgh Quay and people were glancing uneasily at him. “It’s hard to work off the look of a policeman,” he laughed. And indeed as was plain to me, it was not worked off yet, though he is 87, straight as a poker and has all his own teeth in fine condition.
His account of tipping the Sinn Fein about hand grenades being buried in trenches they had cut in the road, and other examples, seemed to me possibly self-justificatory. He did not leave the force till it was disbanded. But he made the point, “I never let down a pal” (meaning another policeman) but if I could warn a man to watch himself I would always put him on his guard.” Well, that has happened to me, so I well believe it.
Now as an example of how myths gather and accumulate he told me he thought Liam Mellows was a 2nd Lieutenant in the British Army and had undergone a course of musketry in Britain in a place called “Hythe”. This seems to echo his father’s position in Ashton-under-Lyne, “Hythe” possibly being really “Hyde”.
As a result of his trip home to Clooncurry he was away from work all day Monday, but was never missed!
After leaving him I called up to Michael O’Callaghan, also at Greatmeadow, but his wife told me he was teaching at the Technical School. The young lad at the hotel, Michael, grew quite interested in these comings and goings and expressed sound national feelings, saying among other things that books on Irish history were coming out plentifully now, and that until O’Callaghan’s book came out nobody of his generation knew the past activities of quite familiar people.
I had dinner and then at about 10.20 O’Callaghan came in. In the meantime a big man who introduced himself as MacNamara, director of Izaak Walton Ltd., explained the “gimmick” to attract fishermen. “It’s some English crowd really own this place” he said “and we didn’t know who the hell Izaak Walton was, though we wanted to make sure he was respectable.”
“Not a Black-and-Tan, for example”.
“Indeed not. But he’s dead a long time now and did nobody any harm when he was alive.”
O’Callaghan, a total abstainer, told me he had written to me in Dublin. He concurred with Hugh McAteer’s opinion of the Military Bureau histories, and the way people in fifty years time will be outrageously misled. He described to me the birthplace of Fr O’Flanagan [Irish republican priest who read the opening prayers in the First Dail], which is still standing.
November 24 Tuesday (Boyle/Galway): It was a “soft day” today with moderate wind and steady fine drizzle. As I had to call on country people I didn’t know, I had to wear long trousers and these became very damp and uncomfortable after I had taken the train to Ballymote and started cycling south. The first contretemps was when I stopped at the roadside to fulfil the wants of nature in front of an old ruined shack. I was standing in the recess of the road thinking nobody was in existence except miles away, and something, I do not know what, led me to walk a step or two forward. There was a very rough looking customer pulling his trousers up in the shack. I decided he might wish to argue over the possession of my property and availed of his momentary discomfiture to beat it away down the road. Then I reached Clooncurry and asked for Nathy Flannery. No such name in the townland. Extraordinary, I thought. “But there’s another Clooncurry”. For a while I was incredulous and then got out the map and found it on an isthmus of land that cuts Lough Gara from the next lake. Then a few explanatory thoughts came in. Tony Woods had given the address Clooncurry, Monasteraden, which he spelled “Monsteraten”. I had already thought how energetic Mrs Woods and the others were, making a journey of four miles to Lough Gara, and again Tom Flannery had given the distance from Boyle as seven miles, not twelve – and Pat Durkin of Tubbercurry had never heard of the incident. I thought I had examined the map carefully, but apparently I had not. The people who directed me were named Taylor.
So on I went into Gorteen, then to Ballaghroe and Monasteraden. This was much more interesting country and more worthy of great events than the drab undistinguishable scenery of the other Clooncurry. The townland is simply a strip of elevated land not more than 50 feet high stretched like a causeway across what is really all Lough Gara, with its islands, red bogs and the Curlew mountains to the north. I found the Flannerys and though they had not received my letter – sent to Clooncurry, Ballymote, with Monasteraden as an alternative – they made me welcome enough. Paddy is not nearly so well-preserved as Tom, though about two years younger, I understand. In the course of the conversation he told me that the Mellows visit took place on the night when a police sergeant and his son were both shot below Boyle. This makes precise dating possible and will have great significance for elucidating Mellows’s diary. He also remarked that Mellows and Rory O’Connor did sleep for a while, and when he went in to the room to get a collar to go to Mass, O’Connor jumped up excitedly and seemed to be reaching for a gun (Tom Flannery of course said only Mellows was armed). O’Connor seemed “as if he wouldn’t live long”. His hair was grey and his nerves were in an extremely jumpy condition. Mellows said to him, “Keep calm. It’s our friends” and he went to sleep again.
It was true, he said, that they went to the lake, about 200 yards away and to the “Culdera”, as he said it was spelled. Mellows put up a target and Tom Flannery did indeed distinguish himself well, not only with one but several bull’s eyes. He was a very practised shot. He recalled only one of the Plunketts and did not know the name of the man who brought the second car, or of the other person who went off with him. (It is noteworthy here that Rory O’Connor remained in Clooncurry and one has to set the notable incident against the policeman’s habit of observation). Paddy described Russell as a fine-looking young man with a shock of black hair, and Mellows as a delightful person who “made himself at home” and spent most of the day with him. His daughter (as I took her to be) made a cynical remark about Tom Flannery, “Just fancy him getting in touch with the police in Boyle and saying, ‘don’t worry its just Tom Flannery down on a holiday. Keeping in with both sides!’ ” Paddy said nothing and did not confirm this. But maybe bringing him has something of a ruse in it.
After the discussion the younger man who was either Nathy’s son (or son-in-law), a fine big fellow in his late thirties, took me to the Caldera. It was described by Tom Flannery as occupying a rood of ground. Unfortunately, I had forgotten how to compose a rood, but thinking it was a tenth of an acre and an acre 2/5 of a hectare I had estimated it would have a radius of about 30 metres. Without pacing it I was prepared to say it would be approaching this size – quite a few would go into the big fort at Tara. But it was very substantial, the earthwork being about two to three feet high and obviously the remains of a very sizeable fortification. I asked was there evidence of its being a graveyard. But all present considered it a fort. On an island in the lake a real old graveyard had been found with stones complete. Pointing south the son of the house said the lake had been reduced six feet in level a few years ago, and numerous crannogs or lake dwellings had been found containing bronze implements. There were other forts in the vicinity, and here indeed is a place reeking with history, which Mrs Woods must have known quite well. He described the bronze implements, “When you polished them they were the colour of a penny. We had some here but they got lost”. Since the word Caldera (Caldrough) is in use, it would seem that some people of note were once housed within the circle of the fort. I wonder if we could have it excavated.
In the drizzle, having already made one error, I made another by returning to Monasteraden instead of going to Frenchpark. I then went on to Ballaghadereen and finished at Castlerea – which I could have reached at midday – just after dark. I was through it in the train, and never walked through it. It is a more substantial town that I had believed. I had some difficulty finding what I believed was a hotel where I could have a good meal. I had had nothing since morning. But when I entered Toweys I found it very much the “bacon and eggs” establishment of years gone by. There were three people there, a man of about sixty, a younger man about thirty who seemed to be travelling in colour films, and another very modest young man of about 24 whom they left standing as they monopolised the fire and sent for their outside cars or forgotten papers. He blessed himself before eating. They didn’t.
After that I caught the Galway bus and lumbered, lights off on the narrower roads, though Ballintubber, Ballymoe, Glenamaddy and Dunmore to Tuam and the main road to Galway. There I booked in at the American Hotel. Was there a meal? “No, sir. We don’t do anything like that”. So I found a restaurant which served very fat chops, most of which I left.
November 25 Wednesday (Galway): My reason for coming to Galway was to see if the Connaught Tribune had any record of the objects allegedly found in Corless’s house. I went into the office and found about six subs crowded in a small room and asked if any of them was on the staff thirty years. “Only the Editor,” they said, showing me his room. In contrast to Tom Cassidy he had a substantially larger room than that of the subs, not ostentatiously fitted out, for there was no carpet, but in a way which showed the dignity of the occupant. Behind the one large desk was a bookcase full of large volumes, or not quite full, and not so orderly in their arrangement that one would deduce they were there for show. The Editor himself was as distinguished as the bookcase would lead you to expect and was very amiable and courteous. But he had no recollection whatsoever of the objects in question. He thought one of two National Teachers in Kilbecanty, Pat Fahy or a man called Dolan, might help.
I decided to push on to Athenry, but as there was still drizzle in the air, to go on the train. This gave me two hours to spare. I rang his son and made an appointment with Sean MacGiollarnath (John Forde) who wrote the pamphlet on Connolly under the name of Gerald O’Connor. I went out to Taylor’s Hill to see him. He was very amiable and asked, “Could I give you a little mouthful of the Irish stuff?”, to which I replied that he could. Two substantial mouthfuls were produced. He said he was Editor of Claidheamh Solais from 1904 onwards and Fr Martin [Fr FX Martin, Irish historian] had been writing about the motivation in MacNeill’s article starting the Volunteers. The O’Rahilly was concerned with O’Neill. Fr Martin had a theory that the third person was Connolly – this I doubt as he was totally occupied with the strike. On the other hand, later, he is said by Sean O’ Kelly in Belfast to have been a member in that city and to have drilled in the “huts”. He claims that as Hobson introduced Pearse to the IRB, so he (who was in Dublin at the time) introduced Pearse to Hobson when St. Enda’s needed funds from the USA and in the end Hobson went with Pearse to raise them. His own main activity was in the language movement, and he merely met Mellows occasionally at Aeriochta. He claimed to have been at his home in East Galway during the Rising and that he and Professor Tierney cycled to a place from which the men at Moyode could be warned that British artillery had left Ballinasloe. He suggested contacting Fr Fahy who advised the disbandment at Limepark. He is a retired professor, now very conservative, but would have something to say. He himself came to Galway in 1923. Of Mellows he stressed the gay side, saying that “he was not a puritanical revolutionary.” I referred to his pamphlet on Connolly and asked why he chose that pen-name. He replied that a man of that name had been recently prominent in London as a writer on Labour topics, so he adopted the name – a rather curious reason, I thought. It sold 14,000 while his pamphlet on Pearse sold 60,000. Stephen McKenna also did one, “Memories of the Dead”, which sold four or five thousand. He was slightly cynical about De Valera and here again one sees the pro-Treaty position linked with a tolerance of and interest in the labour movement. He described the present Sinn Fein as a “curious effort to keep alive an organisation that has served its purpose.”
I went to Athenry by train and found Hawberry’s Hotel was full. So was the Western. The Athenry might have been heavenly inside, but the bar smelled stale. I decided to return to Galway. First I went to see Stephen Jordan – fresh, sprightly and businesslike as a man twenty years his junior. He is nearly 78. This may be through constantly mixing with young people in the GAA. He is also active for Fianna Fail in the by-election, which is what has filled the hotels. He insisted that Mellows had never stayed at Frank Hynes’s. He told me something of the army in Ballycahalan, of Mellows’s IRB activities, of the probable identity of Monahan’s Mullane, which is Mullagh, not as I thought Bullaun. He pronounces Mullagh almost as if it were Muyya – with a highly consonantalised “y”, or when trying to be very clear there is an “L” of the type of the French “canaille”, approaching Italian “canaglia”. I got a much clearer picture of the work in Athenry and the explanation that Mrs Broderick ran a guest house and that Mellows paid her each week is satisfying.
I returned to Galway, this time stopping at the more expensive but more accommodating “Imperial”. I wanted to write in a commercial room – but found it hard to concentrate. A dozen black-coated, jowled and potbellied travellers were in transport over an American thriller which worked up to one incredible situation after another, at which point the advertising supervened. It would be worthwhile getting rid of capitalism if only to do away with commercial advertising. Below in the bar about a half dozen vets were drinking whiskey and talking about the “national interest”. One of them discovered Republican follies in his youth and was complimented on them. They all agreed that the Government, civil service and veterinary profession knew what was good for farmers and the farmers themselves didn’t. The only positive point was the great attention paid to a broadcast urging people to buy Irish. Some of the representatives would be travelling for foreign concerns, of course, and the nature of their interest is not disclosed.
November 26 Thursday (Kinvara): Struck by Stephen Jordan having described Hynes as their “superior officer” I decided to go to Athenry and ask him about Mellows’s residence. I cycled there, arriving just as the first heavy spots of the long-delayed cold front rain began. I got no reply, so went to Jordan’s again. Both he and Jim Barrett said “Sean Forde” was a chancer and that his story of being active even to a modest extent in Easter week was “all bullshit”. Forde was from Gurteen, Tierney some miles away near Ballinasloe. They suggested that he was teaching at St. Endas, got wind of the Rising and came to Gurteen for Easter to be out of it. He had actively canvassed support for the treaty, and when he opened an office as a solicitor in Athenry tried to persuade Jordan to support a tennis club, giving the game Gaelic terms, only to be rebuffed by so strong a supporter of the GAA. “He was a district justice – got himself a good job,” was their judgment of him.
I pursued the matter of the lodgings and when they said Larry Lardner’s widow was still alive, they arranged for us all to call to her. She said that Broderick’s was next door and there Mellows lived. Then it became doubtful whether he returned there on his release from jail. About Cumann na mBan Mrs Lardner said that it was started by Julia Morrissey during her honeymoon in August 1915 – that is while Liam Mellows was in jail. She told Jordan that Julia Morrissey had left it, but she preferred to say nothing about it. She mentioned people in Putney and Ilford who were in it.
Then I went to see Frank Hynes again. The others have thought his statements in An Poblacht somewhat self-glorifying. “He’s a modest, decent fellow,” Barrett finished, “but, you know him, he’s very religious.”. When I reached the house his daughter opened the door. She recognised me from my last visit. “He had a heart attack a few months ago, but he doesn’t know. We keep him in bed by telling him the day is bad.” He was only awake and in no hurry to rise. So I was shown into the tiny room at the back on the left, formerly called “Liam’s room”. At once I recognised that this was an open generous character who could easily leave wife and family to follow Mellows into the hills. “You’re talking to a man in senile decay,” he told me when I asked about when Mellows stayed with him. “I don’t think he stayed before he was in jail – except maybe a night when we’d be back after eleven and didn’t like to knock Mrs Broderick up.” He then said Stephen Jordan had a better memory than he and I should ask him. But it was after he was released that he used to stay with Hynes – just how consistently it was difficult to be sure without cross-examining a man too old to be kept to the point. I had to stay there about two hours while he recapitulated the entire stroy of the escape but gave useful details. Then I returned to Jordan’s. He seemed satisfied with what was arrived at. He was sure about Broderick’s for the first part for “Mrs Broderick was like a mother to him.”
The rain had stopped, but the temperature must have been fifteen degrees lower. I cycled to Craughwell, Ardrahan and Kinvara, reaching Doorus House just after six. I had a minute’s difficulty attracting the warden’s attention. When he came out he could hardly walk, held the walls and smelled like a distillery. Still, that did not affect me and I got in an evening on the notes.
November 27 Friday (Kinvara): I did little today, went into the village in the morning, had lunch at “Winkle’s Hotel”, more pretentious than Toweys, and presided over by a rare old battleaxe who seemed to be having trouble with some of the staff. When I returned it was just in time to see the warden deposited, even more completely stotious, by a young man in a car. Once again I got on with my notes. Letters forwarded by Helga from Dublin included one from Phyllis recording difficulty in getting a goose for Christmas, that from O’Callaghan in Boyle, and one from Fr Glavin, the Parish Priest in Leek, saying he was unable to trace the births of Morgans or Mellors in the years 1834-39. So either they were not recorded, or were then Protestant, or one or other was not born there at all.
I have made a list of the wild flowers I have seen in bloom – in the north Petasitis Fragrans was very common and with Hedera Helix and some furze (probably Ulex Galii, but I’m not certain) we have three seasonable flowers. But the most persistent hardy survivor is Geranium Robertianum. Then in various places I have seen Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum, Senecio Jacobaea, Senecio Vulgaris (not Var Radiata), Ranunculus Acris, Bellis Perennis, Trifolium Procumbens (or possibly Dubium) and a small umbellifer I did not at once know. The weather has become quite cold and showery, but turf briquette supplies are ample, and the hotel is very cosy. As in the North, warning notices have sprung up, testimony to the antisocial visitors from overseas who are overrunning the hostels because of the foolish policy of linking them to Bord Failte instead of to the Department of Education.
November 28 Saturday (Kinvara): The day was bright and sunny to begin with, and leaving Doorus at about midday I cycled to Kiltartan, making a detour in error that took me past Padhraig Fahy’s gates, and thence to Kilbecanty. Outside a schoolroom I asked a woman for Patrick Fahy’s. She told me that he is in Galway Hospital, St. Anthony’s Ward, and his wife goes every Friday and returns each Sunday, so his house is empty. He is the man Corless’s nephew consulted over what was believed to be Mellows’s wallet. I asked about Dolan. He is now in Ardrahan. So having drawn a blank, all I could do was come back, through Gort and Kiltartan. Another cold front struck with a sharp line squall and very cold rain. Then came a cold blasting evening on which I was glad to be indoors.
I should have included in my list of plants in flower rubus, the bramble, Taraxacum, two grasses (one a scutch grass, the other looking like Molinea), and a big umbellifer like a cow-parsnip.
November 29 Sunday (Kinvara): I had a “day off”, walking round the peninsula, or at least the eastern half of it, and doing nothing in particular. I found Min bloom, a large mustard-like plant all along the strand, but probably a garden escape, one or two other yellow composites, and a large field of furze just coming out. Without a flora I cannot say which it is, and Achillea Multifolium. It was colder than ever, but after a wild stormy night the wind died down and at midday one could comfortably sit in the sun, which was bright and prolonged.
There is no better sign of the decay of this once prosperous homestead than the thinning of the trees. Two solitary firs are now a landmark, standing on the highest point of the peninsula. They are close to the road and as I guessed, I found on examination that they are the remains of a line obviously planted as a windbreak. I counted six stumps sawn off and two blown down and uprooted. There was once also an extremely well protected orchard. Every tree is totally encrusted in lichen, and a dapple horse with a white mane grazes the rank grass below. On the shore side too, the trees give the impression of thinning out. All the outhouses and ancillary buildings are fallen into total ruin. But local farmers drive up in cars to draw water from the well, which in June had a cover, but now has not, and which also seems to have had at one time a pump, now no longer working. I tried the depth of the well, but it was something over four feet and I had nothing long.
November 30 Monday (Dublin): I had half intended to push south into Clare, but a very heavy shower of rain decided me in favour of an alternative course I had considered, namely returning to Athenry and going on to Dublin. I had two hours with Stephen Jordan, breaking my journey there to attempt another photograph of the south gate of Moyode. It was good that I did because I obtained certainty on quite a range of matters. But as usual the field opens up wider and wider. I caught the 4.12 pm. train back to Dublin, and Cathal and I sat up late talking. It seems that John Sheridan, whom he brought to hear TA Jackson at the WMA [Workers’ Music Association] years ago, has left his sister Maire and sold the house and property over her head and is not working. There was a letter from Sean Redmond and a copy of the new paper, which apart from a bad headline he has made a reasonable job of. Roy Johnston is changing his job, leaving Aer Lingus and going to the Industrial Research establishment in Glasnevin – where I think I remember Grove-White worked for a time during the war, and Boyd Barrett too, I think. But he may have retired by now.
December 1 Tuesday (Dublin): I made a search for the story of Sgt. Greer, but unfortunately there is no file of the Roscommon Herald in the National Library, and the only Roscommon paper there is poor as a record. In the evening Mairin Johnston came up to spend the evening with Helga.
December 2 Wednesday (Dublin): I combined the search for Greer with a general examination of the files of the Irish Times for 1922. There is so much unwritten history in this tangled period that one would almost despair of getting sense into it. It is clear that people were being activated by expectations which proved totally illusory. A letter from Fr Glavin contained the information that he had traced no Meller or Morgan in the RC records before 1837 in Leek.
December 3 Thursday (Dublin): From London Sean Redmond sent a letter from Peadar O’Donnell and another from Ina. She leaves for the US on December 10th. I wrote to both of them. I found the Greer reference in the Sligo Champion.
December 4 Friday (Dublin): In the morning I rang Dr Paddy Daly to tell him I had the notes on the Hay Mills case which he wanted, and to suggest bringing them out to him. I had a shock when he said, “I’m in bed, and I’m likely to be here for some time.” He is of course in his seventies but when I saw him he was as slim and sprightly as Stephen Jordan. Even now there was the same rich chuckle and sound of mischief in his voice. I then rang Dr Brian Cusack and arranged to go out to Rush on Monday.
I also had a letter from Sean Redmond saying how things are developing there. He tells me that Meehan, a protegé of Foxy O’Beirne, Fred O’Shea’s tout, is now publicly sneering at the “broad organisation” and celebrated the District Congress [ie. of the CPGB] by getting drunk, striking a policeman and spending the weekend in the cells with all the political documents in his pocket. A battle royal promises for January 6th, and I have every intention of making it decisive on the main issues. I saw Nolan and O’Riordan for a few minutes and for the first time noted a slight nervousness in the latter’s manner, whether this is at the prospect of twenty years of solid intrigue being liquidated, I do not pretend to guess. However, our interchanges were candid enough. In the evening I stayed in while Cathal and Helga went to a party at Tony Coughlan’s. Wee Beibhinn woke up and cried and squawked, and it was Japanese torture getting her quiet again. Michael O’Leary, whom Tony Coughlan now lives with, drove them home at 2.30 am. He is the “dashing young fellow” and regards the parish pump politics of the Labour and TU office machines as very consequential.
December 5 Saturday (Dublin): This morning Cathal left for Belfast, whither he is driving Tony Coughlan and Kader Asmal, the Indo-South African, for Anti-Apartheid activities in a hired car. According to what they say, Asmal is so upset by South African events that he has scarcely slept for a fortnight and had to consult a doctor.
I saw Nolan again, later in the day, and he said that the one-way traffic has hurt his business [that is, the Irish Workers League bookshop in Pearse Street, Dublin] , which of course it always does, because people can’t cross the road safely now that it is twice as wide and carries traffic at twice the speed. And in the evening I met Tadgh Egan and we went looking for some Sinn Feiners he knows, only to remember, when we couldn’t find them, that they have their Ard Fheis this weekend and that Roy Johnston has been invited to attend as an observer. Egan says he is contemplating coming back to London in the summer.
December 6 Sunday (Dublin): Owing to wet weather I remained in Finglas working over notes until evening, when I met Tadhg Egan and Denis Casey who used to attend West London Connolly Association. Apparently the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis had a resolution on joint action with other organisations and Roy Johnston was described as “our honoured guest” and invited to speak on it. A “head-case” shouted out, “does this involve cooperation with the Connolly Association?”, but there was no reply and Casey, who is a member of the Liam Mellows cumann), thinks it will pass without difficulty.
Cathal arrived at about 11 pm. from Belfast. “Would you say Cahir Healy was an old Fascist?” he asked. “No,” said I, “have you been talking to McCartney?” [ie. Jim McCartney, a Law lecturer at Queen’s] He had. Apparently McCartney chaired a meeting which fifteen attended. Andy Barr and Betty Sinclair were there. Cathal stayed with the Stewards, who had a party which went on till the small hours. But he went to bed. Asmal’s wife [ie. Louise Asmal] was seemingly the contact with McCartney and Asmal was seemingly inclined to accept McCartney’s anti-national views because of his help on South Africa. And of course he is glad of any he can get. But among other things McCartney was making dark hints of “financial mysteries” in the history of the Northern Ireland Communist Party. Tony Coughlan stayed with Cal O’Herlihy [then teaching economics at Queen’s University]. The latter is concentrating on his career.
December 7 Monday (Dublin): The rain poured in torrents all morning. But about midday it appeared to have stopped so I went by bus to Rush, Co. Dublin, and found Dr Brian Cusack in a bungalow at the far end of the harbour, a man of 84 (“that’s a good stretch” he said), with a short, pointed beard, who lives with his daughter who brought us coffee. He told me that he was one of the founders of the Volunteers in Galway (his wife’s home town) and thinks the first time he met Liam Mellows was when after the recapture of the Volunteers by the Provisional Committee, Mellows called a meeting of County Representatives in Dublin. He then left for a practice in the South of England (near Bath or Bristol, I gathered. He referred to Radstock). In 1916 there was no news on English papers on Easter Monday, but on the Tuesday they were full of it. He and his wife decided to go home. Holyhead was taken over by military and no civilians could cross. He telegraphed the Harbour Master at Fishguard who told him he could come, but services might be cancelled at any time. Next morning he arrived at Rosslare and sensed under the quiet a brooding tension. He got by train as far as Ennis. Beyond that the military had control. He tried to get a car. All cars were commandeered. Finally he made his way to Gort on a side-car. He recalls only one incident of the journey, which was when his wife, afraid for him in the event of submarine attack, awakened him from a comfortable sleep to tell him there was a life belt under his bunk. At Bristol, also, he went to confession. The priest was delighted with the Rising and at Cusack’s return. He reached Galway safely but took no part in operations. In any case the city was sealed off.
Six or eight months later he was in practice in Galway and participated in the Sinn Fein plan to buy the Unionist paper which was up for sale. Nicholls the Solicitor was the initiator and got together a committee of young republican curates who met in Keehan’s Hotel. About £800 was raised for the purpose. Professor Tom Walsh had the notion that the UIL [United Irish League] would do their damnedest to keep the paper out of Sinn Fein hands. He therefore suggested that George Nicholls should be the overt buyer, and Chris Daly of Athenry a second, but for the real buyer he went to the Medical School in Dublin and found a young student with a Northern accent that could be cut with a knife, who was to pose as the Editor of a Portadown newspaper. The auctioneer was Mackey and the auction took place just beside the Imperial Hotel. Professor Walsh had the money. The bidding reached £700 and Nicholls pulled out. It reached £800 and Daly pulled out. The Editor of the Connaught Tribune was bidding for the party when the young man from Portadown (uneasy now since he hadn’t a bean in his pocket) bid £825. The Connaught Tribune thought he would allow the crank to have it. A few minutes later Professor Kelly went over to him, bent down and asked, “Would you take £850 for your bargain?” And that was that. The paper became a Sinn Fein paper. Its office was two or three doors from the Skeffington Arms in Eyre Square.
He later took a practice in Oldtown, Co. Dublin, and recalls how one Saturday Liam Mellows called to see him, and suggested they go for three days to Co. Galway. He had to perform a minor operation, which he did while Mellows held the lamp. Then Mellows, driven in a commandeered German car which he thinks was a Mercedes Benz, accompanied him to Ballinasloe and beyond, mostly calling on priests. He thinks this was after the “ratification” of the treaty and before the Army convention was banned. He also went canvassing with Mellows in the 1922 pact election.
During his period in Bristol, Dr Kathleen Lynn who was deported came to stay with him. She must not leave the district without reporting to the military. She learned that Mrs Wyse-Power was in London and went there. The military called to see her and he told them she was in bed with severe nervous depression after her deportation and could not be seen for ten days. Later he got her an appointment.
The rain came on again and my plastic mackintosh showed its unsuitability by spilling gallons on my trousers, giving me a cold uncomfortable journey back to Dublin. Later Cathal and I went to the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society where Eithne MacManus gave a paper on Irish trade. Interesting things were said and the representatives of the big bourgeoisie present left the Sinn Feiners and Irish Workers League people quite without a stitch of policy. Roy Johnston brought in partition effectively enough and proposed a resolution for opening diplomatic and trade relations with all countries. Deasy, the farmers’ man (very very Oxford and Trinity)[Richard Deasy, leader of the Irish Farmers’ Association] and Duffy (I think that was the name; he sounded Monaghan or near it) knew their subjects well, and Rory Roberts [Later General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions], more oily and indeterminate than ever, showed clearly that the TUC policy was theirs. In other words there is as much chance of Ireland abandoning Fianna Fail (or Fine Gael) in the near future as there is of water flowing up hill. One accidental feature of the meeting was the cold and draughtiness – due to the windows having been blown in by the gale. Settees were tipped up against the heavy curtains.
December 8 Tuesday (Dublin): Again it rained in torrents all day. I rang up Denis McCullough. “What’s the use of asking me about Mellows? I was in Belfast. He was in Dublin.”
“I’m interested in his visit in 1913 on IRB business. Also the matter of his escape through Belfast in 1916”.
“Well, indeed,” he replied testily “that was farcical. It was written up by Miss Connolly in order to boost her own ego.”
“I only want the facts. I’m not boosting anybody’s ego.”
“Well, I’ll give you plenty of facts if you come along at about eleven on Thursday morning.”
This interview promises to be amusing, as he sounds a gloriously cantankerous old man.
Later I rang Nora Connolly O’Brien. Ina leaves tomorrow. I was invited to go for tea but arrived an hour and a quarter late owing to traffic jams. Crowds of Christmas shoppers had come into Dublin and found one-way traffic and driving rain and wind. It was interesting to see the two sisters at it. When Nora was out of the room Ina explained that the Transport Union was going to serialise her book. “They don’t teach what our Daddy stood for,” said Nora. “But does Fianna Fail?” replied Ina. The two sides of Connolly’s teaching, which to him were obverse and reverse of one coin, have been totally separated in his daughters. Ina was Free State. She has moved to a position of Labour reformism mingled with left anticlericalism. “I wouldn’t live here. Look at people blessing themselves on buses. That was never in the old days. And I’d freeze. They have no fires in their houses. No wonder they have rheumatism.” The last was a dig at Nora. Nora produced a painting of herself done in Arbour Hill. “I’m going to leave it to the Kilmainham Museum.” “You should leave it to Liberty Hall”. The division is complete. Says Ina quietly, “She’s completely full of her own importance.” And indeed I do note that there is hardly a scheme Fianna Fail has on foot that Nora doesn’t claim to have agitated for during years and finally seen fruition.
I had lunch with Roy. He said Cathal Goulding [IRA Chief-of-Staff and leading Sinn Fein activist at the time]had gone to London to investigate the dispute over the demonstration which happened during the election, and that having heard I was in Dublin expressed a desire to see me. He is Cathal’s first cousin, so I suggested to Cathal we might invite him up. Taking all in all things are progressing here “as well as can be expected”. The younger people with the Connolly Association experience are becoming personally acceptable to the Republicans, and after Monday’s meeting Roy Johnston and Seán Cronin went off to Tony Coughlan’s flat where the young Labour hero Michael O’Leary is sitting, and so all trends clarify each other by mutual interaction.
Another thing at the Connollys’. Fiona and Nora were in Edinburgh and made contact with the descendants of John Connolly. At the first family gathering there were twenty of them; at the second, forty.
December 9 Wednesday (Dublin): The weather vastly improved today. It was bright, though cool. I rang Maire Comerford who invited me to go out to her tomorrow, and Gertrude Biddulph who gave me Morgan’s address in Leek and asked me to call again. Later I called to Rita Brady but had not long there as she was going to a retreat. She told me one interesting thing, namely that when Liam Mellows went full-time he broached the subject by saying, “Mother, I’m going to be another Robert Emmet.” She says he stood best man for Joe McInley of Flurriebridge. She thought it worth while calling to Dunleer but warned me that the O’Neills are “somewhat cool”.
December 10 Thursday (Dublin): As I expected, I got on very well with testy old Denis McCullough. He lives in a splendid house in Oakley Road and is 82, “two weeks younger than Bulmer Hobson”. Of him he says they were bosom friends and Hobson often stayed in his house. I said I thought Hobson had not had completely fair treatment. “True – but partly his own fault. He is the biggest egotist on earth. You’d discuss with him and get every detail agreed, and then he’d go away and do what he said first.” He grew angry at the mention of Nora Connolly. “Those two women give me a pain.” He explained quietly that the other was Plunkett’s sister who said, “Joe told me this ” and “Joe told me that”, all to make herself important and get her own way. Nora, he said, was a talker, while Ina was a splendid little worker. Nora Connolly O’Brien had pretended to starting Cumann na mBan in Belfast. She did not. Its first president was his mother, and Nora Connolly had nothing to do with it. About the IRB and the Rising he said that the Supreme Council of which he was chairman “abdicated” (he said “abrogated” but what was meant was clear) their control and gave the Military Committee the task of organising the Rising. Pearse had promised to tell him of it two weeks before it happened but broke his promise, and it was only a week before Easter that he learned of the Rising by accident. He said Connolly was definitely a member of the Military Committee with Pearse, Plunkett, MacDermot and MacDonagh. He did not mention Lynch and did not recall Tom Clarke’s membership. But he seems to have known these personnel only from visits to Dublin. On the other hand he says that as Belfast OC of the Volunteers he was told by Pearse and Connolly to be ready to take his men to Tyrone and with the Tyrone men march to the West. “Its a long journey,” he said, “is that an order?” “It is,” said Pearse. He suggested something nearer at hand, but Connolly declared firmly, “Not a shot must be fired in Ulster.” This was for fear of arousing sectarian war. This conversation was in his opinion about two months before the Rising and before he knew the date. But I imagine it was probably nearer the time than he thinks. “How were you to get past Enniskillen?” I asked. “Impossible,” he replied. “It was utterly silly, and I was silly to listen to them.” He returned to Belfast when the Tyrone men refused to move. Not a single Tyrone man was under arms. He thought Binks, the OC for Ulster, “an idiot”. When he asked Connolly about Ulster he replied, “If we win through we’ll deal with Ulster.”
He told me of Cusack a soldier of the Royal Irish Rifles (I think) stationed at Carrickfergus, a member of the Volunteers with a consumptive wife and four consumptive children. The order came from Dublin to place him in charge in Co. Cavan as second in command to another man. He was to proceed at once to Ballinagh (which McCullough pronounced Bally-n-yá) and report [Ballinagh, a village in Co. Cavan]. McCullough sent Archie Heron to Carrickfergus with an order to this effect. He hung about outside the barracks till he found somebody who would take in a message to the soldier. The soldier went home to Belfast, took off his British uniform, put on Volunteer uniform, and with £2 which had accompanied the order, went to Ballinagh “on an utterly useless errand”. He told me regarding Liam Mellows’s escape that Nora Connolly approached him to get Mellows to Dublin and he got in touch with Dr McKee of Banbridge who had a car. “He lives up at Phibsboro Cross,” he said “I’m not very friendly with him now. He thinks he’s the last surviving link with the Republic. But he’s a decent crusty old fellow.” “What’s the name of that football team up there? – Dollymount.” He had a very high opinion of Alf Monahan.
I walked up to Rathmines to look for Bridie Mellows. She is in Leinster Road. Surrey House is let into flats. She is next door but one. But she was out. I took a taxi out to Maire Comerford’s. She has aged and stoops more and had a Gaelic- speaking crippled friend there in a wheelchair. “I must feed my dogs,” she said halfway through our talk. I saw on the shelves such books as “Horses and Ponies”, “Horses and Stables”, and books on cooking and gardening. Her papers she keeps in a huge low drawer and has to stoop and heave any time she wants one. She showed me some Cumann na mBan conference reports and told me she is writing her memoirs.
In the evening I went to see Dr McKee at 12 Dalymount. I was ushered first into his huge Victorian waiting room. Then he appeared. Like McCullough he is about eighty. While McCullough is stooped and slow but sounds vigorous, McKee though clear is slightly deaf and quivers slightly. He told me that Mellows was brought to him by another doctor from Belfast, and he thought possibly Winifred Carney. It was possibly even a couple of months before the Rising. Nora Connolly was not there. The other doctor, whose name he would not mention as “he went Free State” and wouldn’t like to be reminded of his work for the Republic, had the car and all of them stayed at his house in Banbridge. They dropped Liam Mellows at Phoenix Park or near it and he went to friends. They did not, he thought, deliver him to a house.
He then showed me a handbill with the Proclamation printed on it, which he said was an original, and a remarkable document in pencil. It was addressed to Mr PH Pearce” (so spelled) and was signed with the surname Lowe. It consisted of a note telling Pearse that hostilities would be suspended long enough for him to secure the surrender of his other companies in Dublin and that Pearse should then give himself up under the terms of his previous letter. McKee said a woman patient of his who is now dead gave it him because she knew he had gone into the GPO at the end to look after some wounded men. She had picked it up in the gutter. A man up the road had asked him for it, but he would not part with it.
“Would you not give a copy to the National Library?”
“I would not!” – and this was definite.
Now Roy had told me that Cathal Goulding, who was imprisoned over the Arborfield Raid, was anxious to see me. I rang him up and found he intended to call up to Finglas this evening, but Cathal and Helga were going out. He came about teatime, and I had the amusing experience of introducing him to Cathal, who is his first cousin. He said that he and Fitzmaurice had favoured the joint demonstration in London [ie. between Clann na hEireann and the Connolly Association, see entries for 5 and 11 October above], and were prepared to “pull a fast one” on O’Sullivan [O’Sullivan was the Republican in charge of Clann na hEireann in Britain at the time]. I replied that “pulling fast ones” often resulted in slowing down the beneficial results expected. He was anxious to be assured that the door to cooperation was still open. He thought any effort to force O’Sullivan forward would lead to a split in the English organisation but that other people were active over there including Mallon of Coalisland, who worked well in the election. He said he and his colleagues were now thinking in broader political terms than in the past. He struck me as a shrewd experienced revolutionary, but without much basic political knowledge, or better without a grasp of the laws of social evolution. The interesting thing is that he is prepared to support political action on matters of common concern. But like O’Riordan he appears to believe development in Britain can be directed from Dublin. He and Cathal were very pleased to meet and talked about their relations and family history.
December 11 Friday (Dublin): Again the weather was reasonable during the day and I got back to Finglas the bicycle up to now marooned at Amiens Street. Not very much progress was made in the day. A letter from Bulmer Hobson informed me that he was in touch with Pearse long before 1913, but swore him into the IRB late in 1913. Callinan “The Lane” sent me the address of Eamonn Corbett’s sister in Killeeneen. I saw Bridie Mullane in the morning. She was not organising in Galway and could not give details of Athenry Cumann na mBan. She suggested I contact two surviving sisters of Joseph Plunkett and Mrs Frank Fahy. I telephoned Mrs Sean MacEntee and she told me she went to Athenry with a message to Larry Lardner to start the Rising, but did not know what it was. I also telephoned Colm O’Loughlin who gave the names of two St. Enda’s boys who would have known Mellows. He himself had not recorded much and was not on the administrative staff of St. Enda’s at the period of the Rising. He told me Desmond Ryan was in Baggot St. hospital and there is not much hope, though some, that the doctors will pull him through. He had a severe stomach operation a few years ago, and now presumably it is the usual prognosis. I wrote to Morgan in Leek, Mrs Rabbitte in Killeeneen, Bulmer Hobson, Callanan and Desmond Ryan, sending good wishes. Cyril Kieran who lives next door called in the evening and he, Cathal, and I went down to the “Brian Boru” below Glasnevin. He works for a company that makes “non-stick” saucepans and they have been badly hit by the British import levy of 15%.
December 12 Saturday (Dublin): I went down to Drumcondra to Peadar O’Donnell’s, found him almost as active as in his prime, and was invited to go down to the Monument Cafe in O’Connell Street and “meet” Roy Johnston and Eithne MacManus. They were discussing plans, Roy pushing ahead quicker than things can go, and Peadar obstructing and driving Roy wild. I kept out of it. But it was very amusing to be gravely introduced to Roy Johnston! After they had gone Peadar, who wants Sceim na gCeardchumain to propagate his ideas for the West in Dublin, commented that they were a somewhat amorphous body. “They don’t know what their aims are,” said I, having observed them at close quarters. “No, indeed they do not. But there’s a fellow from Trinity College at the top of it, Cochrane, and he’s rather academic“[a reference to Anthony Coughlan]. I heard an astonishing account from a Donegal woman who sat beside us to bid Peadar good day. She actually admitted (or rather claimed) that shortly before the war a German stayed at her house at 7 Harcourt Terrace while he was photographing the entire East coast of Ireland. He asked for a room with two exits, which she had. These he then proceeded to reinforce and barricade. Later he asked her to find him a carpenter who would put a false bottom in a trunk that he had. “I know you hate England even more than we do,” he said. She found him the carpenter, who must be capable of holding his tongue. When the German left she said if he came again she would make room for him at any time. “No,” he replied, “I will make room for you.” “Well,” said Peadar neither believing nor unbelieving, “you’ve got that on your conscience.”
It began to rain again. I saw Cathal trailing Egon and Finuala up Grafton St. but went to telephone people. Andy Woods told me Tom Flannery had lost my address and would I send it to him. I arranged to see him on Tuesday. I then spoke to Mrs Fahy who said she took the message announcing the Rising to Athenry and gave it to Stephen Jordan. Like Mrs McEntee she did not distinguish between the messages sent at different times. Like her also she did not know its contents. But she recalled going on a week-end excursion to Loughrea and meeting Mellows at Broderick’s. Her husband was from Loughrea. She agreed to see me but asked me to ring this evening. This I did and she suggested Tuesday. This is liable to bring me back hastily from the Midlands. And even that is not sure, as I must ring first. She says that on his escape from England Liam Mellows stayed three nights at her home in Islandbridge and left on a motorbike. But her chronology seems vague and contradictory in the extreme. So she has useful information in a state of utter confusion, and I imagine has her own little niche in the tangle of glory which she occupies so as to receive a wee slant of light.
In the evening Cathal went to an Indo-South African gathering designed to raise money to fight Apartheid. But I met Tadhg Egan and Denis Casey.
While walking along O’Connell Street with Peadar O’Donnell this morning he stopped a man with the words, “Hello, Bill.” I had not recognised him, but recognised Bill Gannon solely from the resemblance to Margaret Murray, his sister in Belfast. Peadar O’Donnell told me that he had had a mental breakdown and had spent a time in Grangegorman. O’Donnell had taken steps to have his job kept open. Gannon was, of course, in the Four Courts in 1922, and Mountjoy. He blamed the clergy for the “rotten surrender” and later joined the Communist Party of Ireland. His eldest son Seán became a Trotsky. While in London he used to frequent Finch’s but later saw through the O’Neill-Prendergast mischief-makers. I think he is not long for this world. He seemed quite dazed and apologised several times to Peadar O’Donnell that the question of his job had been raised with him. Talking about Republican Congress, I mentioned Joe Cullen. “I do remember him,” said O’Donnell, “The gloomiest man in the world.” Now I did not notice this.
I wrote to Tom Flannery and acknowledged a letter from Sean Redmond which told me that Fr Martin had sent me a copy of his book on Howth.
December 13 Sunday (Dublin): I did very little today but worked on notes and came to the conclusion that I had broken the back of the pre-1916 period. Mrs Miller of No.76 came in and asked if it was possible to trace her brother, Douglas Shaw, who was lost track of in Birmingham in 1956. She says he was a “great socialist”. She knew the two men known by the name of Joe Monks, and that one was in Spain. Like many of the people in Finglas she is a Protestant and possibly the MacGregor influence reached her.
December 14 Monday (Dublin): We sat up talking so late last night that I missed my train to Tullamore. Also the telephone at the end of the road is still out of order, so I had to go to town before I could communicate with anybody. I rang Roy Johnston and was told he was at home sick. I gave a message to Cathal Goulding’s mother inviting him to Finglas tomorrow. I rang Denis McCullough who told me that the Doctor who drove Liam Mellows from Belfast would be Dr MacNabb, and that he is in practice at Ratoath, Co. Meath, and therefore quite accessible. I also rang Fiona Plunkett. She was in Athenry in 1918 but did not go there in 1915. Nor did she know the purpose of the Clooncurry trip. Her brothers never spoke of it, and anyway “they would forget.” “They were very secretive,” she added. If she is the “Plunkett woman” denounced by Denis McCullough, and he is to be believed, they’d need to be. But the frank declaration of ignorance was quite refreshing. She seemed to think that Sighle Humphries would know, but I doubt it. I rang Jack Bennett, who has done the article for me.
December 15 Thursday (Dublin): I set out early, contacted Cathal Goulding who agreed to call tonight, and then rang Mrs Frank Fahy and then went to her house, St. Brendan, in Sydenham Villas, Dundrum. She told me to get an 86 bus, otherwise I would have to “walk up the hill”, and I did. But the hill was gentle and only 100 yards long.
My telephone impression of her was quite wrong. She is nearly eighty, she told me, and her memory is not good. Far from wanting a place in the temple, she is content to rest modestly on facts. She had, I think, been turning over in her mind my questions and brought out her statement to the Military Bureau which I read and made extracts from. She was very apologetic at putting me off, and it was of course the sense of being “put off” that led to my impression that she was reticent. She says Liam Mellows made his own way to her house in Islandbridge when he returned from Belfast. It was about 11 am. and she would say two weeks before the Rising. She was not expecting him. It was not on a Sunday. He called because he knew the house and members of the Fianna, and Seán MacDermott, used to call there every Sunday night. She heard a knock and looked through the window. There was a priest. “I was very busy and wasn’t going down seeing that it was a priest, but then I did. – ‘Hello, Liam’, I said, ‘Where did you come from?’ This rather took him aback as he was supposed to be disguised.” That night Con Colbert and Liam Clarke called. When they found Mellows was there they wouldn’t go home, but spent the night singing rebel songs, despite the Unionists living next door on both sides, and had a pillow fight. A week later Mellows left in a motorcycle combination, she believed for Galway, but possibly for Wexford. Also he may have only been there three days. Asked whether he left the house, she said she thought not, but then reflected he may have done for a short time.
She recalled meeting him in Athenry. But it was not on an excursion but on her annual holiday. On a Sunday she and her husband were with him in Broderick’s when RIC men called and, standing in the doorway, read him the proclamation to the effect that he must quit Ireland. At that time he had a tent in Ballycahalan and he asked Frank Fahy to continue the work of drilling the Volunteers of that area. Sometimes they used to cycle home to Loughrea, two RIC men following them, but sometimes they stayed in the tent, Padhraig Fahy often bringing them breakfast to it. The house at Islandbridge, apart from having British on each side, was stuffed with Howth rifles. She herself fought with her husband in the Four Courts. She thinks that either Miss Rogers or Miss English started the Athenry Cumann na mBan with Julia Morrissey and also suggests that it was Julia Morrissey who went to Cork with Mellows, both of them being disguised as nuns. She does not think there was a real nun in it.
She recalls Eamonn Kent calling on Wednesday 19 April 1916 and giving her a message to take to Larry Lardner. She must get a receipt for it. She travelled next day. But Lardner was in Dublin and was not back even by midnight. She gave it to Eamonn Corbett because she had heard such praise of him from Mellows. When she arrived, by the train leaving Athenry at midnight, she had the receipt hidden in her very long hair. The cab she got was the dirtiest ever seen and before it was half way home the wheel fell off, and she had to walk the rest of the way. The train arrived at Broadstone at 4 am. Her husband was worried at her having given the message to Corbett. “What would you have done?” she asked. “Brought it right back,” he replied. Kent called about midday on Good Friday and on getting the receipt said to her, “You acted with great discretion.” At the close of the Rising she found the house in Islandbridge had been looted. Her husband was sentenced to 10 years in Portland. She sold the surviving sticks of furniture and went back to her parents’ home in Co. Kerry. For some time she wore her Cumann na mBan uniform as she had no other clothes. Before she was married her name was Barton. Her account mentions Ballyheigue and Blennerville. She spoke of the 1922 election but her recollection of it was not clear. Also she thought it was MacNeil’s countermanding order that Mrs MacEntee took; but I think it would possibly be Pearse’s confirmation. But I must check this against Alf Monahan’s notes. Of the period in Galway, at Ballycahalan and so on, she said, “They were the happiest days of my life. You felt you were doing something.” And later she said, “There were great people in those days. You don’t meet them now.” She was a close friend of Sean MacDermott and her other idol was Cathal Brugha. Of MacDermott she says he was always laughing and constantly in a good humour.
When I got back to town I had lunch and rang Tony Woods. He had to cancel our appointment because of a staff lunch, or dinner. But I asked him about the Mercedes that old Dr Cusack had referred to as a “commandeered car”. I was right in thinking he would know the makes of all the cars they had. But he could remember no Mercedes. I said Cusack thought it was a Mercedes-Benz. “Ah!” he said, “Bob Briscoe had a Benz”. So probably that was the one. And Woods himself drove Mellows to Galway during the Pact election.
Returning to Finglas I found a letter from Fr Tom Fahy, in Galway, another from Dr Paddy Daly saying among other things that he was much better, Jack Bennett’s article, a letter from Phyllis about Xmas, for which she has managed to secure a goose, and a note from Ripley to say that unless a good half of the copy reaches Ripley by December 23rd, he cannot get the paper ready for December 30th.
About 8 pm. Cathal Goulding appeared with a young man of about 23, who had been at the Mackey lecture and sat with Tom Gill. I did not completely ignore the possibility that either two sights were to be set on myself, or a check was to be exercised on Goulding. However, we talked and drank till very late. As far as I can gather, Cathal Goulding is around 42-43 years of age, possibly a little more, but looks less. He was in the Fianna around 1934 and considers the fundamental mistake of the left and the worst disaster that befell the Republican Movement, the formation of the Republican Congress in 1934. It withdrew the left and handed over power to the right. He gave me a copy of the first political statement made by the IRA as such since before the war. His sympathies, to credit what he says now, have been on the left all along. He is a painter by trade and apparently the common grandfather of himself and Cathal was one of the “Invincibles” who heard the guns of Easter Week while on his deathbed. His family tried to conceal from him that Cathal’s uncles were out, but he knew and said he was pleased to see the day. He was a close friend of Brendan Behan, has no time for Dominic as a money-making hook and regards Brian as a rat. Apparently knowing Behan he also knew Seán Furlong [Leftist member of the CPGB and the Connolly Association North London branch and opposed to Greaves’s “nationalist” line in the late 1950s], and it would not surprise me if the poison against the Connolly Association had been dropped in at one time. He told me that he first realised the importance of the Connolly Association at the time of the Mallon and Talbot trial [In Northern Ireland in 1958, which the CA had sent English lawyer John Hostetler to cover]. He was impressed with the way we did it and realised that the Sinn Fein couldn’t even if they wanted to.
December 16 Wednesday (Dublin): I did little today but had tea with Roy in the O’Connell St. Monument Cafe. He agreed to do an article for the next issue. I told him about our session with Goulding. He said Barry Desmond is prospective Labour candidate in West Cork, and Michael O’Leary wants to get Louth. To my query as to whether Tony Coughlan might hunt the same game, he replied that a TD’s salary was only £1250 and Tony would be much better off than that and with an academic career in front of him. But he deplored the fact that Labour was choosing its representatives from the ranks of “small-minded people”.
December 17 Thursday (Clara, Rahan, Tullamore, Dublin): I set off quite early and caught the 10 am. train to Clara. Cathal Goulding had told me of Watt Mitchel who lived “by the canal bank”. Alas, the canal was five miles away, so I cycled to Rahan. There I found him, acting as lock-keeper and I was made very welcome. He had only met Mellows once, but he was an eye-witness of the Tullamore incident. He did not know whether Mellows was there. He recalls a gathering in the Sinn Fein hall and a number of separation women and children parading the streets with Union Jacks and signing “Keep the Home Fires burning”. One child thrust up a wee flag into a Sinn Feiner’s face. Angry. he grabbed the flag, broke the stick, and threw the pieces away. The crowd pursued him into the hall, then got a three-wheel trolley used by a newsagent to bring his papers from the station, trundled it to where some road-metal stood waiting for use next day and brought down a hundred-weight or so of large two-three inch granite chippings or such-like. These they started hurling at the windows. Then after a while a window went up, and a hand came out, then an arm and a rifle. This was fired above the heads of the crowd and shattered the plate-glass window of the most splendid shop in Tullamore (Melvilles, I think). The police came, broke into the premises, and were fired on by the Volunteers through the floors, to drive them beyond the passage where arms were stored. Meanwhile a cat-walk through the window to neighbouring premises was constructed from a plank, and thus, though two policemen were injured, the Sinn Feiners seemingly got away. He told me his elder brother in Cork would know more.
An interesting thing is that he is a Protestant, though one who “doesn’t bother” over much. At one time there quite a few Protestant families in the neighbourhood, and with them the remains of the Catholic population. This is the great depopulated area, but at least at this point it is quite an interesting one. He spoke of a copper burial urn being taken out of one of the Rahan churches, of the Mitchels coming from Scotland and the form of the name sometimes changing to Mulvihill, and of the enormous cattle and human population of times gone by, which is still evidenced by existing remains. He had eight children. Two remain in Ireland. The others are in such places as Barrhead, Birmingham, Coventry and Singapore. One is even in the British Air Force. He has an enormous regard for Cathal Goulding, whom he knew in the Curragh. As well as lock-keeper he went in for a side-line selling agricultural machinery and lost this job as a result of politics. The Government tried to make the job of lock-keeper conditional on a political test, but he took them up on it and won. When the Company relinquished control it was guaranteed that the staff would retain all existing privileges. Thousands of tourists come down the canal every summer and boats are steadily being built at Roscommon and elsewhere. He is a great talker and I did not get away till nearly four. All I could do was cycle to Tullamore, look around the town and then catch the train back to Dublin. Letters awaited me, from the teacher Patrick Fahy, saying the wallet at Druminalough was Alf Monahan’s, not Mellows’s. But there was also a raffle ticket for a Mauser rifle which he gave to the National Library.
December 18 Friday (Dublin/Liverpool): I rang old Dr McNabb, but found him not very helpful. I drew the conclusion that nobody is thinking of anything but the great commercial racket that is now in full career, and that it will be impossible to get any further until the fever has died down [i.e. Christmas]. I therefore decided not go to to Dunleer either, but to return to England. After replying to some letters I went to the North Wall and caught the Liverpool ship, leaving the bicycle at Cathal’s, where I hope to return early in the New Year.
December 19 Saturday (Leek/London): I arrived in Liverpool and caught the 8.10 am. to Crewe. Not till I was on the train to Stoke did I discover how to get to Leek. The towns which have lost their railways have become entirely local affairs. A ticket collector told me to get off at Etruria, which I did, and took a bus to Hanley and so on another bus, freezing cold, watching children playing on frozen subsidence pools, I reached my destination. Leek was very much as I imagined it. Indeed I had the feeling I had been here before, but could not remember just when. I think it resembles Macclesfield, which I went to once with the intention of going to Leek. It is small enough to get round easily. I soon found old John Morgan at 10 Rosebank St. and he told me I was in the very house Mellows was deported to. He arrived on the Friday before Passion Sunday in 1916 and left on the Sunday night. So slowly the chronology is being worked out. He said after some police interference the Morgans decided to cut off all contact with Dublin. As a boy he used to spend holidays in Mount Shannon Rd. and knew the Biddulphs well. On the occasion “Bertie” came for them, Nora Conolly O’Brien did not enter the house. If they had a car she remained with it. After evening Benediction they used to repair to the Park Hotel which was run by the church organist. Liam Mellows did not like drink but came. In the midst of the evening somebody told them, “Bertie is here” and Mellows ran rapidly to the house. “It must have been pre-arranged.” They went into Mellows’s bedroom and the next thing they knew was that Bertie said he was staying in Liam’s place. Liam had gone. The father said, “We can’t countenance that. We might get into serious trouble.” So out went “Bertie” next morning.
Some interesting points made were that the Mellowses did live a while in Cork City, before being in Grenfield Place. WJ Mellows was constantly in touch with Bury (his regimental headquarters, I presume). Henry Mellor (“an old divil, God forgive me, a terrible man for drink”) said he was born in Callan, Co. Kilkenny. So this fits what Gertrude Biddulph says. His father was the youngest of the family and the first born in Leek. The others were born in Omeath, near Carlingford, Co. Louth. Henry Mellor used to speak of a friend of his youth, Charlie Gardiner, in Callan. To add to the geographical mysteries, Mr Morgan gave me a photograph of WJ Mellows, taken I imagine around 1885. He is already a Sergeant. But the interesting thing is that it was made by a photographer in Plymouth. Eamonn Martin thought some visitors seeking family connections came from Devon. Also WJ Mellows’s brother was named Jack, and came to Leek from India – so he could not have been in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He thought he was unmarried.
It was a curious conversation. Apparently he is totally blind. Somebody had lit a cheerful fire, so he seems to be well looked after. When I said something about not knowing Mellows personally he said, “Oh, you’re a young man, then?” So I had to explain. I was young enough however, not to be worried about the tedious journey which he thought was a dreadful series of adventures, but old enough to be pleased that I still wasn’t. He was most devout, and I had to hear accounts of every monastery and convent in Ireland. Father Glavin, who wrote to me, is eighty years old and an Irishman. Morgan recalls that when he was about sixteen he was to go with his parents to Omeath for a holiday. They were to sail on the Saturday morning from Holyhead to Greenore. The boat did not go on the Sunday. But though he was paying him only 5/- a week to work in a shop, his employer refused to give him the Saturday off. “I’ve never forgiven him,” he said to me with extraordinary bitterness. “That man! I was never able to see the place my people came from.” The word see has a special emphasis in a blind man. “There are parts of Leek that I’ve neverseen,” he said with the same special stress. He could go to Omeath now, but he could not see. He has burned many old papers. “I can’t see them,” he said, “and I’ve nobody to leave them to.” He proposes to do the same with the old album he gave me the picture from. If only people would label their photographs – nobody can be sure of them now. But quite possibly they contain some of Mellows’s ancestors – for example John Mellows the grandfather; or Jack the father’s brother. As I left he asked me rather pitifully to “say a prayer for me” and I could not do other than promise. I can quite understand why Gertrude Biddulph says, “I’m sorry for him.” His sole friend is the radio, on which he regularly listens to Radio Eireann, and his consolation is religion. His praise for Liam Mellows was for his devotion. He had the English Catholic’s dislike of “getting into trouble”, which may have arisen from anti-Catholic sectarianism in the past.
Some quite new questions arise. Was John Mellows (the first Mellows) ever in Leek at all, or did he join the Lancashire Fusiliers in Lancashire where one would expect him to? What kind of a master baker was it in Callan who had sons who joined the army in England, and whose youthful associates had such Protestant-sounding names as Gardiner? Did WJ Mellows and his wife spend their honeymoon in Devon? How can we trace the mysterious soldier Jack? In all this is hidden the secret of Liam Mellows’s national feelings.
I returned quite quickly to Hanley and Etruria, back to Crewe, and so caught a Holyhead train full of dining saloon stewards I knew. They were able to produce for me a tolerable “high tea”, so that the time passed pleasantly enough. The prospect of more work only means the prospect of more interest and I felt quite pleased with the day. On reaching London I called to 374 Grays Inn Road and found paper sales had been poor, as Sean Redmond had told me. I took my baggage home, and when I returned found I had missed him. At home there were letters from Charles Rice and some very useful material from Florence Lynch, old Captain Monteith’s daughter. She told me that her mother is now 93 and sends me her regards. A note from Cox [ie. Idris Cox of the CPGB International Commirtee] indicates that the gathering early in January is likely to be a final show-down, if one is to judge from the wide invitation list. Apart from getting the paper off, my main concern till then must be the preparation of the best presentation of our case [Presumably a discussion of the Irish question amongst the relevant CPs].
December 20 Sunday (London): I called into the office in the evening and saw Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham, and later Joe Deighan. From what I could gather though there is nothing seriously amiss. There is some complacency following the Labour victory, and Joe is still somewhat negative.
December 21 Monday (London): In the morning I heard the news from Sean Redmond. The most favourable sign is a large influx of requests for speakers from Trade Unions and other Labour bodies. Also Sean had a letter from Dick Clements of Tribune promising to keep up the pressure on the Irish question.
December 22 Tuesday (London): I have begun to develop a cold – as far as I remember, the first of the winter. No wonder, after coming to the electric fires and atmospheric filth of this city.
December 23 Wednesday (London): We learned that Desmond Ryan is dead, a great pity. Apart from the bad news, there was nothing but work getting the paper out and that was that.
December 24 Thursday (Liverpool): I set out quite early in cold weather, took a train to Manchester (the Liverpool service being so bad) and crossed Lancashire to Liverpool, and so to stay over Christmas with Phyllis. She was well and cheerful, has got over a cold and has all her work behind her. There is still uncertainty over the comprehensive schools’ silence in Liverpool and she is now looking for a job in Kendal.
December 25 Friday (Liverpool): Today was fine enough but we did not go out, and stayed talking, eating and drinking, to provide for which Phyllis went to some pains. Either I have a cold or age dulls the appetite (which it really can’t), but I found it hard to keep up with everything.
December 26 Saturday (Liverpool): Today the weather turned cold, and so we stayed in for a second day.
December 27 Sunday (Liverpool): Today it was colder still, with several inches of snow on the ground. So we stayed in again. This must be the most inactive three days on record! There was not much news to interchange either. Phyllis had heard from our scattered relations. But nothing of much import had taken place, and that was on the whole to the good.
December 28 Monday (London): I returned to Manchester and London. I had good journeys both ways this year. Arriving in the office about 4 pm. I found Sean Redmond was there. There was no news. Phyllis rang up in the evening to see if I had got through the snow, but it did not extend south of Luton.
December 29 Tuesday (London): I did more work on the paper. Peter Mulligan came in for a few minutes before going to the MCF meeting. So many Labour MPs are withdrawing from the MCF, that what with Brockway becoming a Lord, it is somewhat doubtful what the future of that organisation will be. Now that Ian Page has gone, the London Committee is becoming quite dead.
December 30 Wednesday (London): I had not noticed it on the paper, but Sean Redmond told me that Claudia Jones is dead [Trinidadian leftwing black activist in the USA and Britain]. This is a desperate year – O’Casey, Desmond Buckle, Desmond Ryan, and plenty of others, and now Claudia Jones. She was a girl of tremendous personality, and like all very emotional people had words always ready on her tongue. Her judgment was not always perfect. She had the faults of her virtues.
December 31 Thursday (London): I forgot to record yesterday that Alan Morton came for dinner and told me all was well at St. Albans but that his son David had had glandular fever caught at a Youth Hostel, and a very unpleasant disease too.
Today I finished the paper. Sean Redmond showed me a copy of the Daily Express, which reports a further stage in the ETU history. Sylvie Maitland, the one-time ghost Editor of the Democrat, has done at last what I expected for years. In order to keep his full-time job in the ETU he has resigned from the CP. Apparently all but one or two of Haxell’s myrmidons have done the same, showing the utterly artificial and opportunistic basis of the whole thing [referring to the conflict between left and right in the Electrical Trades Union and controversy over ballot-rigging for union positions]. But one thing is certain about experience and that is that very few people learn from it.
This evening there was a social in Brixton to mark the end of the old year. I did not go however. Last year it broke up at about 11 pm. and while it was decided to make a proper attempt this year, while I was away the decision was changed. Sean Redmond thought more money would be made in Brixton, and Joe Deighan thought he had a perfect excuse for leaving early. So I stayed in the office and wrote a lot of letters, and cleared up much of the arrears that had accumulated while I was away.
C. Desmond Greaves Journal … Index Vol. 15
1 April 1964 – 31 December 1964
Greaves, C. Desmond
– Assessments of others: 4.7,4.12, 4.14, 4.17, 4.20, 4.22, 4.23, 4.28, 6.6,
6.16, 7.3, 7.12,7.14, 7.19, 9.11, 9.28, 10.2, 11.17, 12.10, 12.12, 12.30-
– Book projects, articles: 8.9, 10.25
– Civil Rights Campaign (Northern Ireland): 5.10, 5.30, 6.8, 7.12, 10.13, 10.18,
– Health: 4.19
– Holidays/cycling trips and tours: 8.20-22, 9.1-10,11.21-23
– Ireland, public attitudes in and assessments of trends: 5.1, 11.22, 11.27,
– Irish Democrat: 4.13, 4.19, 5.16-19
– Mellows research: 4.6, 4.18-19, 4.25, 4.27-28, 6.26-30, 7.1, 7.5,
8.13, 10.22, 10.24, 10.26-27,10.29-30,11.6, 11.10-11, 11.21, 11.23-
26,11.30, 12.2,12.8, 12.10-13, 12.15, 12.19
– on Britain and British society: 4.4, 4.14, 9.12
– on class interest, class struggle: 6.6, 7.3, 7.24
– on communism, socialism, capitalism: 10.9, 11.25
– on the Easter Rising: 6.28
– on the Irish in Britain: 4.4
– on Irish history: 4.22, 12.2
– on Irish republicanism and republicans: 4.17, 4.23, 5.3, 6.7, 7.12, 7.14,
10.11-12, 11.13, 11.17, 12.10, 12.15
– on mental illness: 4.19
– on meteorology: 9.29
– on radio and television: 5.1,11.25
– on Trotskyites and ultra-leftists: 4.10, 4.14, 4.20, 4.28, 5.11-12, 5.27, 5.30
– Self-assessments: 4.12, 9.27
Organisation Names Index:
Campaign for Social Justice: 5.10, 5.30, 6.8,10.13
Clann na hEireann: 4.10, 4.13, 4.17,7.8,10.5,10.11-13
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 5.11, 6.2, 12.4
Communist Party of Northern Ireland (CPNI): 5.27
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 4.17, 4.21, 5.12, 5.27, 5.30, 6.2, 6.21, 6.22
Council for Civil Liberty (Sean Caughey’s): 10.13
Daily Worker: 5.6
International Affairs Committee (of the CPGB): 5.25, 6.2, 8.9, 11.3, 12.19
Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement: 4.22
Irish Workers Party (pre-1962 Irish Workers League): 4.17, 4.23,4.28,
5.11,5.27, 8.12, 11.4-5, 12.4, 12.12
Military History Bureau: 11.20. 11.23, 12.15
Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF): 4.1, 4.8, 12.29
National Council for Civil Liberties: 5.10, 5.30
Nationalist Party (Northern Ireland): 10.13
Sceim na gCeardchumann: 7.2,12.12
Sinn Fein/IRA: 4.17, 6.7, 10.11-13, 11.13,12.5-6,12.15
Transport House (British Labour Party): 4.29
Tuairim (London}: 7.31, 8.1
Wolfe Tone Society: 12.7
Personal Names Index:
Argue, Jim: 7.14
Asmal, Kader: 11.7,12.4,12.6
Barr, Andy: 10.13
Bennett, Jack: 4.19, 5.10, 5.30, 6.8, 6.21, 7.12, 8.6
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 10.31
Bourne, Harry: 9.13
Browne, Noel, Dr.: 4.27
Brugha, Rory: 4.27
Buckle, Desmond:10.28, 10.31
Campbell, Flann: 4.19, 10.13
Casement, Sir Roger: 11.13-14
Caughey, Sean: 6.8, 7.12,10.13
Caulfield, Max: 4.27-28
Clarke, Austin: 4.21
Clarke, Mrs Tom: 8.13
Chicherin, Georgy: 4.27
Clifford, Brendan and Angela: 5.23, 5.28, 7.20
Collins, Joe: 4.25
Colum, Padraic: 4.25
Comerford, Maire: 4.28, 12.10,
Connolly, Fiona: 6.17, 9.15-17
Connolly, Ina: 4.20, 4.27, 8.12, 12.8
Connolly, Nora: 4.20,8.12, 12.8
Connolly, Roddy: 4.27, 9.17
Conway, Barney: 4.20
Cooley, Mike: 9.17, 9.21, 9.23
Cox, Idris: 5.20-21, 5.25,10.31,11.5, 12.19
Cronin, Sean: 4.17, 5.3, 12.8
Coughlan, Anthony: 4.17, 4.19, 4.22, 4.27, 4.29, 6.7, 6.20-21, 7.2-3, 7.30,
8.6, 9.11,11.7, 12.4, 12.8, 12.16
Cunningham, Charlie: 9.11-12, 10.24
Curran, Antoinette (Toni):4.1
Currie, Austin: 5.10, 6.8, 10.13
Cusack, Dr Brian: 12.7
Daiken, Leslie: 8.16
Deighan, Joseph: 4.12, 5.14, 6.21, 7.20-21, 7.24-26,10.5
Desmond, Barry: 4.22, 4.27, 7.2-3, 11.7
De Valera, Eamon: 4.27, 7.5
Doherty, Pat: 8.15
Donnelly, Danny (Donal): 5.2, 7.2, 7.4
Dooley, Patrick (Pat): 4.19
Dunman, Jack: 9.10
Durkin, Tom: 4.23, 10.9
Dutt, R. Palme: 6.2, 10.31
Early, Packy: 4.17, 4.19, 7.4
Eber, John: 4.1
Edwards, Bert: 9.15-16
Egan, Bowes: 7.31
Ennals, Martin: 5.10
Fahy, Mrs Frank: 12.15
Farrington, Brian: 9.21
Flynn, Philip: 5.12
Friel, Brian: 11.20
Geraghty, Desmond: 7.2
Gibson, John and Veronica: 8.15
Gould-Verschoyle, Neil: 4.28
Goulding, Cathal: 12.8,12.10,12.14-15
Greaves, Mary: 6.24
Grove-White, Bill: 11.2
Haughey, Charles J.: 6.27
Havekin, Alf: 8.30
Healy, Cahir: 10.13
Hobson, Bulmer: 11.16, 12.10-11
Humphries, Sheila (Ní Dhonnchadha): 4.28
Hynes, Frank: 11.26
Jeffares, George: 4.23
Johnston, Mairin: 4.19
Johnston, Roy: 11.6, 11.30, 12.5-8, 12.10-12,12.16
Jones, Claudia: 12.30
Jordan, Stephen: 4.18, 6.26, 11.25-26
Keane, Michael: 7.24, 10.18, 10-.25
Keating, Justin: 5.1
Kelly, Luke: 6.21, 10.3
Kerrigan, Peter: 10.31
Lawless, Gery: 4.3, 4.15, 5.12, 5.27,6.4
Mac Aonghusa, Proinsias: 4.20, 5.1
MacCabe, Jack: 5.3
McClelland, John and Margaret: 7.19
MacCluskey, Patricia: 5.30, 6.8, 10.13
McCullough, Denis: 12.8,12.10, 12.14
MacGiolla, Tomas: 11.13
MacGiollarnath, Sean (Ford): 11.25
McGlade, Frank and Rebecca: 7.12, 7.14
MacLiam, Cathal: 4.30, 11.9,
MacManus, Eithne (Viney): 11.7,12.7
McMillan, Art: 6.7, 10.13
McMillan, Liam: 10.16
McNally, Joe: 4.14,6.9, 9.11
Mahon, John: 4.23, 5.20 , 6.22, 9.29,11.17
Maitland, Sid: 4.19
Meek, Bill: 5.1
Mitchell, Tom: 7.12
Monahan, Alf (Ailbhe O Monncháin): 12.10
Moore, Hughie: 5.27, 11.17. 11.22
Morrissey, Michael : 6.6
Morton, Alan: 7.27
Mulligan, Peter: 10.31
NicLiam, Beibhinn: 11.6, 12.4
Nolan, Sean: 4.17, 4.21, 4.27
O’Casey, Sean: 4.23,
O’Connor, Joe: 4.9, 4.17, 4.19, 4.23, 4.28, 5.9, 5.12,5.22,5.25
O’Donnell, Peadar: 4.21, 4.23, 7.5,12.12
O’Hagan, Desmond: 5.27
O’Hora, Liam: 4.19
O’Leary, Michael: 4.22, 7.1-3,11.9, 12.4, 12.8
O’Malley, Cormac: 11.14
O Monncháin, Ailbhe: see Monahan
O’Neill, Andy and Patsy: 4.9, 5.6, 5.9, 5.23, 7.10-11
O’Regan, Jim: 4.17
O’Riordan: 4.17, 4.23,5.24, 5.25, 6.22, 12.4,12.10
O’Shaughnessy, Bill: 10.31
O’Sullivan, Chris: 4.28
Page, Ian: 4.1
Prendergast, Jim: 5.23-24
Puxon, Grattan: 4.28
Redmond, Sean: 4.1, 4.7, 9.22-23, 9.29, 10.5
Robbins, Frank: 4.25
Rudd, Joy: 7.31, 8.1
Russell, Sean: 11.22
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 7.16, 10.13
Short, Frank: 9.11
Small, Frank: 5.8, 9.25
Twomey, Moss: 4.27-28
Whelan, Joe: 4.14
Wilson, Harold: 10.13
Woddis, Jack (Hillel): 4.1, 5.12
Woods, Tony : 11.11, 12.15