Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol.19,1967-68
1June 1967 – 3 June 1968
Themes: Decision to keep his family home in Birkenhead following his sister’s death, as well as her cottage at the Stiperstones in Shropshire, and to divide his time and work between Liverpool and London – Tidying up the house, garden and cottage – Further visits to Ireland for purposes of research for his biography of Liam Mellows – Interviews and meetings with Tony Woods, John de Courcy Ireland, Roddy Connolly, General Sean MacEoin, Uinseann Mac Eoin, Maire Comerford, Eileen McGrane, JC Joshi, Frank Robbins, Alan Heussaff, Donal Foley, Cathal O’Shannon, Gerry Ashe and Mrs Tom Clarke – Articles and lectures on the 1968 centenary of James Connolly’s birth – Revival of Britain’s application to join the European Economic Community by Harold Wilson’s Labour Government – Disillusionment in Britain’s Irish community at Wilson’s failure to insist on reforms in Northern Ireland – Public meetings in Britain with Gerry Fitt MP – CA financial problems – Improvement in relations with the Irish Workers Party in Dublin and the CPNI in Belfast – Marriage of Connolly Association General Secretary Sean Redmond and his seeking alternative employment – Problems arising from the Manchester CA branch’s project for a monument to the Manchester Martyrs – Social meetings while undertaking Mellows research in Dublin with Republicans Cathal Goulding, Sean Garland, Seamus Costello and Tony Meade – Strictures on Roy Johnston for getting too involved with the Republicans: “I told him he would get the Republicans into a mess and then we’d get the blame” – Contacts with the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists
* * *
June 1 Thursday (Dublin): I did not get much done today. An hour or so in the Library was followed by lunch with Tony Coughlan, after which we both went out to Maire Comerford’s and after much conversation, she took us to Countesss Markievicz’s cottage. The farmer below who owns it is an old Republican. According to Maire, Mrs Mulligan (whose cottage still stands and was formerly adjoined by the other) was a laundress with the Gore-Booths, but apparently was originally a Wicklow woman. We then went up the mountains to where Andy Macdonald hid when on the run, and saw the anvil which, says Maire, they used for repairing their weapons. It was lying beside the path and I put Maire Comerford up to asking if it could be presented to Kilmainham [ie. the Kilmainham Prison collection; the restoration work on the prison was ongoing at the time], but the owner was not yet willing. Back at the house she showed a remarkable manuscript written by Anna Parnell, which had been given to Helena Moloney, then lost, and then recovered when a friend she had lent it to died.
We returned to Finglas, and at 1 am. Cathal returned with Tony Meade and his new assistant Seamus O’Tuathail, the Misneach man [a militant Irish-language organisation founded by Irish writer Mairtín O Cadhain, to which Seamus O Tuathail belonged at the time]. They left at 4 am.! Meade was at his usual habit of attacking Sinn Fein. It ought to be abolished and the IRA made the political party. Seamus O Tuathail, who is in nothing and less circumscribed, doubted this. He was not too sure perhaps of the political ability of members of the IRA. He had gone to a meeting on ground rents addressed by Haughey and Lenihan [Fianna Fail Government ministers; Seamus O Tuathail, later a Senior Counsel at the Irish bar, inaugurated at this time the campaign which led to the abolition of gound rents in the Republic of Ireland] and had reduced the latter to incoherent flusterment by skilful questions. Then Sean Kenny shouted out, “What about the Offences Against the State Act?” Haughey’s face lit up. He immediately switched on to the subject of democracy and kept on that until the points made about ground rents were well forgotten. It is quite odd, by the way, that the United Irishman, owned by the IRA, has on its advisory committee people like Tony Coughlan and Oliver Snoddy who are nothing to do with it, and employs a man who is in nothing! [Seamus O Tuathail was not a member of either Sinn Fein or the IRA, although he edited their monthly paper, the “United Irishman”, for some years after Tony Meade gave up the editorship].
June 2 Friday: I went into the Library quite early considering the late night and spent the whole day there, not returning to Finglas until about 10 pm. Again the weather was warm and dry though cloudy. The boys went to a Fianna camp.
June 4 Sunday: Cathal and Helga decided to go to see how their offspring were faring at the Fianna camp [a Republican youth movement], so I accompanied them. We went through Enniskerry and turned off the Glencree road to a site half-enclosed by a curve in the river just below Knockree. A tricolour and a Fianna flag floated in the midst of the field and the tents were well dispersed and almost invisible from the road. Liam McAnally, who lives in Finglas Park or near it, was the leader – they all refer to him as “CS”[Chief of Staff] But there was a great variation of age. He is married with one small daughter and would surely be every bit of 25. His younger brother who used to call at 74 Finglas Park would be about 18. But most of the boys would be around ten or eleven. They spend the time walking and swimming, and periodically the bugle toots and they all leap for some ceremonial or other. Roy Johnston came along with Mairin. He assured me the Fianna was growing fast. Also the Republican clubs in the universities. Of Mairin he said ruefully, “I’m afraid the Labour Party is going to take her for a ride.” “Quite so”, said I, “she should have stayed in the Workers’ Party like everybody else.” There was no answer, for Roy himself is in it only in the sense that he can’t bear to be out of anything. He invited me to Galway next weekend, but then recollected that he might not be going there. He proposes to spend his vacation as deckhand on a fishing vessel being sailed from Dublin to Galway, and is having a trial run, possibly. But he offered me the use of his cottage in Connemara any time I wanted it, which was thoughtful enough. I reciprocated with the one in Wales. We came back through Rathfarnham, after Cathal, Helga and myself had walked to the top of Knockree. The weather was excellent but towards nightfall as we came back, strato-cumulus began to drift across the sky, and it turned cool.
June 5 Monday: We got up later than usual. Cathal who was last, came down with news of the ructions in the Near East [ie.the Arab-Israeli Six Days War]. We did little enough, however, for the day proved wet and the boys were back from Knockree tired out quite early.
June 6 Tuesday: I spent practically the whole day in the Library, apart from having lunch with Tony Coughlan.
June 7 Wednesday: Again I spent the day in the Library and had lunch with Tony Coughlan. He told me that Kader Asmal is very much afraid of the fall of Nasser.
June 8 Thursday: Again I was in the Library, this time having lunch with Tony and Asmal. The latter repeated his fear of Nasser’s impending resignation, saying that he considered that to be the imperialist war aim.
June 9 Friday: Yesterday Eamon Martin sent a copy of my book to the Library asking me to inscribe it, which I did. After a short spell at the Library I took the inscribed volume up to him. He met me outside the Sweep and drove me to Tony Woods’s office. He was out, but his brother Enda was there, and Tony came in later, also his wife. They were able to untangle some of the skeins, and I was invited to visit their sister in Rathfarnham tomorrow night. Then I went to see Mattie O’Brien in Moyne Road. He confirmed the Woods’s account of the visit to Rathdrum and Clonmel, but said the objective was Cork. Clonmel was touched only on the way back.
He was a small rather wizened man, rather embittered. “The people who did nothing got the jobs and pensions. I got nothing.” He wondered when he looked back, “if it was worth it”. He was in the clothing trade and went broke during the slump, passed a civil service examination but was rejected on account of his age. He talked freely about the times he had had a good mind to bump people off, and I did not get a very good impression. He had gone Fianna Fail and served in the Army. It was after this he tried to get Sean MacEntee to endeavour to get him the Civil Service job. At the same time I have no reason to doubt his record in the troubled times.
I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and Alan Heussaff, the Breton. He is working on the subject of the Common Market and wonders whether to oppose it or take the view, “It is here, let us make the best of it.” If Ireland had taken that view during the Union, it would not exist today. He seemed very despondent about Brittany, and Scotland, but thought perhaps Wales might survive. He said that the reason why the French Communists are so blind to the subject of Breton Nationalism is the centralism which is so ingrained in the opponents of feudalism. Provincial privileges are forbidden – and small nations are provinces. The children are not taught to read Breton and it is dying out fast. Also there is much bitterness on the Left over the fact that extreme Breton Nationalists supported Hitler during the war. I think he is a sincere enough man, but very confused. He wanted Tony to speak at a meeting neither for not against the Common Market, which Tony agreed to do since he hopes to make it into a demonstration against it.
There is trouble in Finglas Park. Little Conor came back from school yesterday with a crick in his neck. He cannot move his neck, after a fall. Helga took him to hospital and it is believed nothing is damaged and the trouble will right itself. But Helga goes to Germany in a week and wants to be able to leave him behind.
June 10 Saturday: Little Conor was very much better today, so fears have subsided. Cathal took the two girls to Galway. I spent the morning in the Library and in the evening went out to see Tony Woods’s two sisters, Eileen and Mairin, at Eileen’s in Rathfarnham. They were a most interesting family. Apparently after the troubles Mrs Woods busied herself with the Irish India League and was closely in touch with Krishna Menon [later Defence Minister of India]. They were interested to know that I also knew him in London. Apparently as a result Eileen married an Indian doctor and lived for twenty-sight years in Merthyr Tydfil. He died three years ago and she came home. On a visit to India she took masses of her mother’s papers there, but now De Valera, who years ago said he didn’t want them, is asking for photostats. Apparently Gandhi and the Nehrus stayed at their house and they knew well the man who married Svetlana Stalin. Mrs Woods was also friendly with Mrs Despard and the family often went to Roebuck. They are angry with Sean MacBride for selling the garden as building land. Eileen said she thought Mrs Despard twice the woman Maud Gonne was – ” So you can see where my political sympathies lie.” This explains why on ringing up to make the apppointment for me Tony Woods, as well as calling me, “a friend of Eamonn Martin”, said, “who is very active in the socialist movement.” They brought in Sean Harbourne who gave me details of the disposition of cells in Mountjoy. In the house was a young Indian looking girl who is the daughter, and I am informed that she is to marry and emigrate to Canada.
June 11 Sunday: The weather being hot and dry Roy Johnston and I cycled to Ashtown and back. Along the Ballymun Road vehicles were head to tail and we met Seamus O’Toole out for an afternoon walk. He has no job, refuses to emigrate, lives with his parents and brothers and for a time ran a stall selling Gaelic literature. Now he works for Meade on the United Irishman. Roy says he is one of the best of them. We continued, and all the time we were off the main road it is to be doubted if we saw a dozen cars. I imagine they were all heading for the coast. At every point where the road crossed a river, however, there were two or three parties of pushbikers. Roy told me he often had a smack at the motorists in his articles in the United Irishman, but Meade always cut that out. Cathal was not home till late, bringing two sunburnt little girls and descanting on the glories of Galway, which he is sorry to be losing his connection with.
June 12 Monday: I did not get much done today but managed to trace Ernie Nunan and make an arrangement to meet him tomorrow. It is clear that I shall have to come back after Trafalgar Square. I had lunch with Tony Coughlan. The opinion of Roy Johnston, which seems generally shared, is that the Irish Workers Party may before long have a chance of expanding in the new atmosphere in Ireland. But Tony Coughlan stresses the vital importance of the written word.
June 13 Tuesday: I met Ernie Nunan in the morning. He had scarcely a trace of a London accent, so I guess he will be the younger brother. He told me that Richard Mulcahy comes in to see him at Walton’s practically every week, but as at meetings, refuses to discuss anything that happened after 1921. He seems to live with a permanent guilty conscience. We mentioned Charlie McGuinness, whom Enda Woods had told me “couldn’t walk – could only strut.” “I’m sure he’s alive today,” he declared. “There were five saved, a hundred yards from the shore. He was drowned – the only swimmer among them! And the body was never found.” He is also in frequent touch with Tom Kerr.
After lunch with Tony Coughlan I went to the National Library, and found Snoddy, a fast talking, extraverted Carlowman in his late thirties. He is writing a life of Colbert for the Mercier Press but can only fill 20,000 of the 30,000 words they want. He says that the Tom O’Neill-Frank Pakenham collaboration [in writing an official life of De Valera] has been damaged by Pakenham’s publisher, who now wants only one volume. Tom O’Neill will thus finish his two volumes and publish them in Irish, while Pakenham’s single volume appears in English. We must wait and see how far Pakenham succeeds in censoring O’Neill! There has been a vast accession of Mellows material to the Museum, and it looks as if I shall have plenty to do yet.
I returned to Finglas and Cathal ran me to the boat. I found that “Johnny”, as they call him, the steward whose table I sit at, knew Nunan. But he told me the Munster is going out of service in October and all the staff is being dismissed. As a preliminary they have Americanised the meals.
June 14 Wednesday (Liverpool): I did not sleep well – the early blazing sunshine makes it difficult – so got off the boat as soon as I could and went to 124 Mount Road. I was disappointed that the white lilac had failed, but the roses were extraordinarily gay. I doubt if I saw such a display on those two old bushes that CEG [his father] planted. I cleaned up a number of items, paid bills, made a few notes and spoke to Cathal on the telephone in the evening. Pat Bond is still staying with Roy, which hinders Mairin’s election campaign. Little Sheila [Pat Bond’s daughter] caught appendicitis in Cork.
June 15 Thursday (London): I caught the 12.30 to Euston and went in to the office. Sean Redmond was there in excellent form and told me the news. Chris Sullivan is dropping out of things, probably from discouragement with the slowness of progress. He had unburdened himself to Pat Hensey at a midnight session after sales. I had guessed this was coming. I think also that he did not like that Charlie Cunningham should get the credit for redecorating the premises, as he had had a tiff with him. Olivia MacMahon is moving to Dundee, another blow at Manchester. Glasgow have paid for no papers, but they appear to be meeting occasionally.
A letter from Brief asked for particulars of the legacy [ie. from his sister Phyllis’s estate] for the tax people. And simultaneously came information from Bateson’s that the Probate people (one of whose representatives called just before I went to Ireland) had said the house was worth £3500 not £2500 and they want more tax. Batesons say, “You remember it was entered at £2500 at your suggestion” – but Batesons themselves sent a professional to value it! This is the second little incompetence I have noticed. The first was to misunderstand completely a letter I sent them, showing that there was no personal attention. So I must give clear instructions. And than came the explanation – Batesons have been taken over by a firm of London solicitors, and Mr Bateson will from now on be only a consultant. Obviously he is getting old and has sold the practice to the best bidder. And so monopoly spreads.
June 16 Friday: It was cooler today though the drought continues. I spent a good part of the day on the paper, but it was not easy owing to preparations for Sunday’s meeting. In the evening I was out with Des Logan, who has to some degree come back into things. He has just completed one of the examinations which for some reason he is taking.
June 17 Saturday: I met Cathal and Helga with Egon and Bebhinn at Euston. Cathal had conceived the idea of sending them sightseeing on their own and Helga was loudly protesting. I had to go to South Kensington so as to get him there. Then I excused myself. I went to the office, which was a scene of frantic activity [preparing for the annual Trafalgar Square demonstration the following day]. Very little could be done on the paper. Cathal and the others returned to the office at 6 pm. and later took them to Liverpool Street. He met myself and Peter Mulligan at the Crown in Cricklewood and finished the sale with us.
June 18 Sunday: I went to the EC [ie.the Connolly Association Executive Committee] in the morning, leaving Cathal in the flat. Chris Sullivan was there, but neither Gerry nor Toni Curran, Tom Redmond, Michael Crowe and Olivia MacMahon from Manchester, Sean Redmond, Joe Deighan, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Peter Mulligan, but not Pat Bond. It was not a very decisive affair. I took the chair and the question of presidency was remitted to the Standing Committee.
Then I picked up Cathal and we went to Hyde Park. Both Gerry Fitt and John Ryan [Labour MP for Uxbridge]were there. I had forgotten him but I had met him before at a conference run by the Democrat. I showed him the resolution and he remarked that he was against the Common Market too and was glad we agreed on this. He argued, and he is an economist himself at the University of Glasgow and thinks, as I do, that all industry will be attracted to the centre of things, though also there are local concentrations within each country. “Look at Italy!” he declared. “The motor industry will be centred in West Germany.” He said that he believed that when Brown threatened to leave the Cabinet in July last year, he and Callaghan extracted from Wilson the promise that he would apply for membership of the EEC as a price of continued cooperation. If this is true, since these gentlemen have no convictions of their own, except of the evil of Communism, there must have been strong personal persuasions running parallel with the so-called plot of the “gnomes of Zurich”. So what inducement was offered them?
The march was colourful and the meeting went well, though with some Orange hecklers who had obviously come specially. Joe Deighan spoke well, with thunderous oratory which brought many a cheer. This is his strong point. Ryan was cautious but sound. Cathal found he could not read his notes so that he seemed hesitant. Bobby Rossiter lifted £61 and Fitt spoke for half an hour on the platform and for God knows how long after the meeting closed. He was trying to convert the Orangeman, and I dare believe he made a slight dint in his armour. Then we went to Schmidt’s. Des Logan and I saw Cathal off, and that was that.
June 19 Monday: I spent the whole day on the paper and had brought the total of pages completed to five by evening. Then Sean Redmond and I went to the Irish Committee [a meeting of Irish members of of the CPGB] – and only Joe Deighan joined us. Sean Redmond told how he had tried to bring young Andy Barr on to the committee, and he had seemed interested. But Langan, son of the milk roundsman who made Leftist orations in Dublin in 1946-7, was most indignant. He was so insulting to Seán that he replied in stronger tones than usual. This seems to have cooled off your man – but Barr has declined. But young Brendan, Sean’s brother, has accepted. I went in again to carry on with the paper late at night.
June 20 Tuesday: I finished the paper in the morning, having got up at 6.30 am. I called in to see Betty Reid and she told me Bob Stewart was short of visitors [Bob Stewart, 1877-1971 veteran Scottish communist; one of the founders of the CPGB]. I had intended to go up for a talk about historical matters, so I decided to go this evening. “He is brisk and alert,” she said, “but his sight has failed and he can’t read.” When I went into the general office the bouncer of a fellow was there who is married to Gladys Easton. I grasped at once, when he gave me a “Kerrigan look”, that I was not a popular visitor. Bill Ross came in and said, “How are you?”
“Vert well,” said I, “considering all I have to contend with.”
“What have you to contend with?” asked the bouncer with heavy sarcasm.
“Old age, poverty,” I replied, “and rude remarks.”
Ross looked surprised. “Oh, that means me,” said the bouncer, whose tone became a little more amenable.
“You’ll soon be penning another attack on Malachy Gray.”
“It’s that resolution, at the TGWU.”
“Is he a delegate?”
“No, he’s on the Standing Orders committee. Anyway, a decision has already been made on it. It’s not coming up. It would involve them in interfering with their Irish section. It’s asking too much. They won’t do it.”
“They’ll do it yet,” I answered.
He mistook my meaning – “Oh yes, sometime no doubt. But it’s quite impossible now. It’s asking too much.”
I would be very interested to know who participated in this decision.
In the evening I went to see Bob Stewart at Fenstanton Avenue, Finchley. He is staying in a room in a group of houses where old people are looked after. He was certainly hale and hearty, though more frail than before. His only difficulty is that he is now largely blind and can’t read. He has a tape-recorder, with books which he can listen to; local people come and read editorials from the party press. And he says, “I’m very lucky.”
He confirmed that passports were forged in or around 1922 [by the British communists to help the IRA] and said the man who did it was Dave Ramsey, now deceased. And there was a photographer, as Eamon Martin suggested. They used to get a reasonably accurate description and replace the photograph. Passports were something of an innovation and were not scrutinised with great care. He thought a man called Robinson came to Glasgow looking for gelignite from the Ayrshire miners.
In the early days they used to get sponsors for passports for people travelling illegally. But these, doctors, clergymen etc., got into trouble and complained. “Of course you couldn’t afford to consider people’s feelings; you had to do the job.” He spoke of Roddy Connolly. “He did no work. He was living on his father’s reputation. There were quite a few of them. They made trips backward and forward across Europe and lived like that.” Roddy “was” the CPI – three or four of them.
He started reminiscences of Larkin. He lived in Gardiner St. O’Casey used to call. “He’s a great conversationalist,” Larkin would say. “Yes,” said Stewart, “if any of it was worth talking about. ” He recalled a breakfast at the Russell Hotel where Larkin, newly arrived from the USA, entertained Barney Conway, PT Daly, Delia and Eamonn McAlpine, that “key adventurer”.
Gallacher was furious because McAlpine kept chipping in with irrelevancies when he wanted a serious talk with Larkin. Bob Stewart went to Moscow in 1923. MacManus [first chairman of the CPGB, Belfast-born, had met James Connolly] was there before that. He thought it possible that MacManus was Eamon Martin’s contact. In 1923 Larkin met Chicherin [first Soviet Foreign Affairs minister] and tried to persuade him that if he gave him a million pounds he could “bring Ireland on a plate”. But Chicherin had lived in London and knew the English scene as well as Larkin. This contact with the Anglo-Saxon world helped the Russians and the good relations between the British and Russian parties dates right back to the days of the refugees. Chicherin always met people in the middle of the night. He always wore a muffler. And he was a fine musician.
Bob Stewart told me – what I had missed – that Bill Joss had died last week. He was very upset indeed about it. They were old friends. He was born in Arbroath and worked as an engineer for Stevensons of Glasgow. In the first World War, though a civilian, he was buried alive in an explosion and that is how he lost his hearing. He was a great “hiker” and knew the country like the palm of his hand. He could find out more about a town in two days than its inhabitants learned in a lifetime.
He also spoke of George Gilmore. He was in Moscow too. “But we had nothing to offer those fellows. He could never understand the struggle for increasing wages. He was a natural idealist. “’What was the sense in worrying about that when we have a country to free?'” As for young Jim Larkin, “He had been to Pearse’s idealistic school.” He thought Fintan the best of them, but he was not interested in politics.
On present politics he showed considerable grasp, though he has well over-reached the “age of indiscretion”. The split with China completely baffled him. “I can see no reason for it. These red guards – who are they? They can’t belong to the working class, or they’d be at work. Are they students? Possibly army cadets. Or even schoolboys. No wonder our people don’t know what to make of it. When you consider all the knocks we’ve had in the last ten years, it’s a wonder we’re here at all.”
He kept reverting to China. “I just sit here worrying about it,” he volunteered. Of Wilson and Brown he said, “They don’t want to take power,” and added, “I wonder if this is the time to split the Labour Party. For it will have to be split. Sometimes I wonder where it will all end. Certainly the outlook is bleak now. Vietnam! Egypt – the Arabs took a terrible blow. The Israelis must have had American planes. And we can expect some economic knocks in this country too. And all we’ve got is Wilson and that silly man Brown. And the Jews! – Turning themselves into Hebrews!”
He thought possibly the reason why the French and Italian parties with all their numerical strength had not yet won power was that “possibly they didn’t do enough work in the army.”
He was very glad to have the visitor and I must have been there two hours at least, during which he showed no trace of fatigue.
June 21 Wednesday (Liverpool): I caught the first train to Liverpool and worked in the garden, clearing things up and also did some work on the book. John McClelland rang up confirming the meeting tomorrow night. Mrs Phillips said she would come tomorrow and Mrs Stewart said she wanted to go to the cottage on Saturday for a week. I found I had left the papers from Bateson and Brief in London, so I will have to go back.
June 22 Thursday: I did some work on the Michael Collins lecture. There were about 17 people there – quite a mixed gathering, with John McClelland, Barney Morgan, J. Roose Williams and the bearded Trotsky-like individual who was a nuisance in Manchester. This time he said less. But in the pub afterwards he said something about Clifford saying he had been looking at the papers the Connolly Association threw in the dustbin outside 374 Grays Inn Rd., and he added cynically, “I bet there is interesting stuff in King Street’s dustbins.” I could not of course inform him as to why, to my knowledge, there was not! But it struck me that an incinerator might be a good purchase, though where we would put it I don’t know. Brian Stowell was there, with his wife, and car, in which he took John McClelland and myself through the tunnel. The Liverpool branch is doing quite well. And has the best attendances in England.
June 23 Friday: I took the 10.30 to London and collected the papers and another load of books. The walls of 6 Cockpit Chambers are beginning to be visible again! I have however only moved a fraction. I had hoped to go out and buy things, but the heavens opened. As a result I could not get a taxi for 30 minutes, missed the 5 pm. train, and was forced to wait an hour at Euston for the Pullman at 6.10. I was then in the midst of the holiday rush. But all the same I managed to get back without too much discomfort. Then I polished the new bookshelves ready for the new load. I wrote to Brief and to Batesons.
June 24 Saturday: I got quite a deal done in the day and was able to catch the train to Dublin in the evening.
June 25 Sunday (Dublin): I arrived at 74 Finglas Park before Cathal was up. He was in late last night as his meeting dragged on till 11 pm., and he was out again in the day. At midday he reappeared with Tony Meade. The meeting was a gathering of Wolfe Tone clubs. By all accounts the difficulty was persuading the Belfast delegates to oppose the Common Market, since they believed this would embarrass them in view of Paisley and the Unionists saying the same. They had not been persuaded by lunchtime, but Cathal, who is chairman, hoped they would be persuaded by evening.
By all accounts they were, and Jack Bennett called up with Fred Heatley [members of the Belfast Wolfe Tone Society]. They were on their way back to Belfast. Jack Bennett is, of course, a lazybones, which is a pity when one considers the good head he has. I told him about the TGWU thing. He thought that next time we might contrive to get a resolution from Ireland. But the Trade Union movement here is economist in the last degree.
When they had gone Cathal and I went to Meade’s at Skerries. The two twins aged six months were serenading their heads off, and Meade had gone round to his brother-in-law’s house – rented for the summer. He comes from Kerry and his name is Lynch [ie. Micheal S. O Loingsigh, CEO of Drogheda Printers and a leading member of the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society and the early anti-EEC campaigns]. So we left the car and walked, as we were told, into ” a square that is not a square”. We found the sign “Cearnog”. But square it certainly was not. It was shaped like a dandelion leaf, with round or sharp cul-de-sacs branching off to right and left, indeed spreading tentacles like an octopus. We found Meade and came back to his house. The noise was if anything greater. This was his first free night for a month – so we went back to Lynch’s and drank the wine Cathal and I had collected at Doran’s where “end of bin” discontinued lines were offered at 5/- a bottle. We bought a dozen and took two with us.
Tony Meade gulped it down like beer. By the time his brother-in-law came in he was highly argumentative. “Your generation never did fuck-all!” he told Lynch – 28 telling 35, as I discovered it was! And he gave the poor man’s petty bourgeois illusions a terrible pounding and left them bloody but unbowed. Later he felt sick and went out. Cathal took him home and on returning told me this was very unusual indeed, and he feared his wife might make some complaint on it. “But serve him right for being so argumentative, if she does.” So then we returned.
I omitted to say that in Liverpool on Saturday I had a lucky find. Mattie O’Brien told me that on the Rathdrum-Clonmel drive Liam Mellows and he stopped at the “Forge of Clohogue” in Co. Wexford – “the place the song is about”. I rang Mairin Johnston and asked if she knew the song. She did not. But opening Collins’s “Arguments for the Treaty” which Bulmer Hobson’s house, “Martin Lester”, published, I found an advertisement for a novel by James Murphy, “author of the Forge of Clohogue”. So this means I will be able to trace the place. Unfortunately, the list of townlands does not help.
June 26 Monday: I went in to Sean Nolan’s and found Pat Doherty there. In the evening Tony Meade called again, rather ruefully considering the plight he was in last night, but by all appearances none the worse for it. I wrote to Sean Nunan, John Ireland, and a Thomas Metcalfe whose name I found in the telephone book. There is an Alf Metcalfe who appears periodically in the papers of Liam Mellows and he lived in Crehelp, Dunlavin. This man is also in Dunlavin, so I took a chance on it. Cathal went to an Anti-Apartheid concert tonight. I rang Snoddy and made an appointment with him for tomorrow.
June 27 Tuesday: I spent most of the day with Snoddy in the Museum, and we found quite a deal of material, the notes of which I lost on the way back to Finglas – the bus being as hot as hell (thanks to a new fool design without ventilation) and my mind on nothing but how to get off it.
Snoddy was in London and worked on the South Bank. He says Lawless was one of Brian Behan’s proteges and at one time a most enthusiastic YCL [Young Communist League member]. He was always immoderate and when they walked home together in Clontarf he would shout, “You Free State bastard” at policemen and kick motor cars if he had a shred of suspicion that they belonged to the “special branch”. Snoddy was also with Lawless at Sean Furlong’s house. He thought him the pleasantest of them but noticed that every item in his house related to Russia or China, and nothing to Ireland. So if we could discover who pushed Brian Behan forward, we might explain the origin of the plot, which could easily have succeeded [relating possibly to Brian Behan’s election to the CPGB executive].
June 28 Wednesday: Very fortunately I recovered the lost notebook from the Lost Property office. I had lunch with Tony Coughlan. Today is the day of the municipal elections, the first for seven years.
June 29 Thursday: I visited Frank Kelly again up in Rathgar and acting on a telephone call from O’Loingsigh went to the Library to confirm some photostats. I had heard from Peadar O’Donnell that Paudeen O’Keefe’s daughter was married to Seamus O’Neill, who invited me out to his place in Blackrock – very middle-class! The Irish middle-class, unlike that of Britain, does not lean on a hereditary aristocracy, but rather towards a rebel tradition, but it contrives to hold that tradition away from anything affecting its immediate interests.
June 30 Friday: I spent most of the day in the National Library, apart from a visit to Peadar O’Donnell for a few minutes.
July 1 Saturday: It seemed hard to believe it was July already, and so little done. After spending the morning shopping, in the afternoon I went to Dalkey to see John de Courcy Ireland. I used to be quite friendly with him in or around 1946-50, and he used to call at 6 Cockpit Chambers on the way through from Paris. Then he took to air travel. But periodically his pupils came to us. They included Arthur Reynolds, who was library editor and later circulation manager [of the “Irish Democrat”], and of course the inimitable Frank Small.
He met me at the station and seemed to have retained more hair than I thought he had, though it was now grey. He told me his wife had just had to leave, for England I imagine, as her mother is dying and the sister looking after her has a heart attack. The daughter is in the house looking after it. It is a fairly secluded house, with a fine garden of shrubs – rhododendron and flowering species, and walks overflowing with Centhranthus, which replaces the ubiquitous Epilobium that has over-run England. His library is not Irish like Seamus O’Neill’s, but international with a bias to shipping. He took down the particulars of the ships and people I wanted traced. A letter from Sean Nunan told me that Liam Mellows returned on the Philadelphia. John Ireland produced a 1915 Lloyd’s list and there it was as large as life. He also traced the “Strathfallan”, a Scotch vessel, but could not find the “Harry Herbert”. He promised to trace Blanco White and the Cunard Captain who was said to have produced the Admiralty maps.
After that he fell to discussing his main interest – making the people of this country interested in the sea. He spoke of historical work being done and the great material that was unused in coastguards’ logs. Apparently they noted the slightest thing. The Maritime Institute is in a difficult position. When British Railways and their co-conspirators over here decided to inflict the car-terminal on Dun Laoire, they decided they wanted the Maritime Institute building. They confiscated it but promised another. When John Ireland approached them they replied, “That is Education. See the Department.” He did. “Shipping? Oh, That’s Transport and Power. See them.” He did. “We don’t know if we’ve any money. You’d better see Finance.” He did. There was no money. But now he hopes there may be some, and he will get a building in central Dublin. Meanwhile all the good records are cluttering up space in Dun Laoire Town Hall. However, there is considerable civic spirit there and this is evidenced in the strong movements which have prevented speculative builders getting too big a foot in the district.
We fell to discussing people and what had happened to them. Harry Craig is still with the BBC. His circumstances have changed since he lifted books of poetry off second-hand book stalls in Charing Cross Road or wheedled £100 from Lindsay Drummond with the aid of Pat Dooley for a book he never wrote. He is making a £2 million film on the subject of the Battle of Waterloo. He asked about Justin Keating. I told him I met him by accident when lunching with Oliver Snoddy last Tuesday. In the far corner was a large group of diners. They came out, several priests among them, and then I discerned one stocky well-covered figure delaying to speak to me. It was Justin. “You are in distinguished company now, Justin,” I said, “lunching with the priests and the cl-a-rgy.” “Pooh”, says Justin deprecatingly, “It’s nothing.” We exchanged good wishes and off he went. “He has sold the land round his bungalow for £50,000,” I told John Ireland, who then declared that he had promised the Maritime Institute would be well paid for the research work that enabled him to do a programme on shipping. They got £10 and John Ireland lost an irreplaceable book. “Demand that Telefis Eireann buys you a photocopy from the British Museum,” I advised, “and next time send them a bill.”
He thought that Justin’s refusal to continue on television [Keating had done veterinary programmes on RTE for a period] was a sign of residual integrity. He was not prepared to be a complete prisoner. He told me about Hector Cathcart [also known as Rex Cathcart] who floated round TCD when Roy Johnston, Paul O’Higgins and others were there. He became Headmaster of Sandford Park school, the highest paid headmaster in Ireland. He persuaded John Ireland to leave his job in Dalkey and join him there. Later Ireland discovered why Cathcart was never in the school. The scholars were all the vulgar sons of vulgarer business and top professional people. Perhaps they were aware of Cathcart’s socialist past, even though he had decided not to publish his valuable theses on Marx and Berkeley. John Ireland left. But soon afterwards Cathcart found himself dismissed. And to this day he has no notion of what struck him. The Department of Education is understood to have promised him something in December. John Ireland is very critical of both him and Justin Keating for their failure to keep appointments or even reply to letters. He has however plenty of respect for Tony Coughlan, Roy Johnston and those who are still with us. He still sees Arthur Reynolds, but they thought I would be telling them where Frank Small has got to [Arthur Reynolds had been in the Connolly Association in London for a period some years before, and Frank Small was a protégée of his who had joined it recently]. John Ireland will see his brother – small and dark whereas Frank is fair and tall – but the two brothers do not get on together.
He was amused at my news of Grove-White, now the Anglesey Squire. They have not met since I prevented White from suing him over some fancied grievance! That was surely while I was still in Golders Green and John Ireland was asking was Bill Grove White still in Aldershot!
When I got back to Finglas he rang me up to say that a friend of his in TCD, a young lad, was anxious to work on references to a Leveller plot to join with the Irish and Spanish in overthrowing Cromwell and restoring the Stuarts with a radical social programme. He thought this had a bearing on TA Jackson’s Owen Roe-Monk negotiations, which the reviewers had criticised. I have told him of the plan to re-issue ‘”reland Her Own” next year [ie. Jackson’s history of Ireland, to which Greaves wrote an epilogue when it was republished in 1971].
There was an interesting thing this afternoon. John Ireland told me that he had invited the local Labour Party man Vincent MacDowell to come and meet me. And he promised to do so. He did not turn up. I did not tell Ireland the probable reason. It is that he would be afraid to face me, as Lawless’s paper has been carrying reports from MacDowell, and one of them allegedly quoting remarks I made at the meeting at the Moira Hotel, was sheer invention.
The water was cut off when I reached 74 Finglas Park. The man next door, a plumber, had been conducting the water to the hut in which Cathal proposes to accommodate his father’s workshop. The mother is lonely in Galway without her children, and anxious to return to Dublin.
Returning to John Ireland, he told me that his father was killed in the first World War, and his mother married a strongly Protestant Dutch diplomat who was (of all places) accredited to the Vatican! He was thus brought up in Italy. The atmosphere was so stifling that he ran away to England on them at the age of fourteen, I think. Just after the war, the diplomat having died, his mother wrote to him suggesting making contact again, and said, “I hope you are not shocked, but I have become a Catholic.” And from that day she moved to the left, and he can talk politics at any time with her. She is about 84 and still in Italy. I think it was Tony Coughlan said he was born in Italy, but I don’t think so. Malachy Boyle told me he met a cousin who said he came originally from Manchester, and certainly it was in Bolton I first heard of him, I think when I was speaking there. I knew he gave some help to the IRA men who were over there in 1938 and ’39.
He was telling me of a grand film on the life of De Valera that has been made, and Telefis Eireann which, he says, “is run by hoodlums”, refused to show it on the grounds that it was “too Republican”. He took down Tom O’Neill to argue the toss with them, but to no avail. I asked why not pop a question in the Dail, “What pressure has been exerted by the British Ambassador to prevent the showing of the film on DeValera?” He laughed heartily at this. When I left I urged him to put a more nationalist slant on his articles in Tribune and he said he would.
July 2 Sunday: Dolly Miller from next door came in to borrow tinfoil – after her husband had cut the water off last night! This was strange since after a schemozzle about a year ago she is “not speaking” to Helga. She imagined she was being slighted because Helga went on with her work while she was in the house. She stormed out. Helga went the length of apologizing. But it was of no avail. Then she was telling the neighbours how sorry she felt and “I don’t know what came over me.” Now I imagine she will be a-borrowing again.
I rang up Roddy Connolly. His wife answered the telephone. One could hardly say she sounded inviting. But in her sharp Scotch voice she said she would ask him if he was free. He was in bed. He was fine, so I went to Bray arriving at about 3.15 pm. I saw two women sunning themselves in the pool. “Yes!” said one of them, as you might to an unwanted customer, or collector for a disapproved charity. She was grey-haired and revealed herself as Roddy’s wife. He was still in bed. Her son, the youngest, was watching Wimbledon tennis on a television box, and he too did not seem too amiably inclined to his father’s visitor. “I think I knew your mother,” said I to Mrs Connolly, “Or it may have been my sister.” I mentioned Countess Markiewicz’s letters. “Ooh, the sister. She was the only one interested in that old stuff. I never bothered with any of it.” Referring to Roddy who was dressing, she said, “He’s always sleeping. He’s very good at it. He’s the best bed-man you ever met.” I was amused at the double-entendre.
When he came down he said, “Let’s go for a drive in the car – to the mountains where it’s cool.” We went to Roundwood and Glendalough, where it was raining heavily. There were quite a few cyclists and hikers, which shows that the youth of Ireland is not yet so degenerated as that of England. Roddy told me that Ross, his only son interested in politics, goes cycling to youth hostels every weekend with his family. He is going to Wales this year. Roddy understood the British scene perfectly well and thought just what we think about Wilson. How he had managed to do things the Tories would not have dared to do interested him vastly.
After leaving Glendalough we had tea at Glenmalure in the old restaurant that, says Roddy Connolly, Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington used to be so fond of. It had an old-world air and the old ladies who had it brought out hot scones which they themselves baked to perfection. It is now owned by the Melville Hotel of Bray and served us with tinned salmon. Roddy had asked the girl, “is the salmon caught locally?”. “I don’t come from round here,” she replied. “Well, is it fresh?” I persisted. “It is.” It must have been fresh from the tin! Then we went to a hotel at Avoca on the side of a hill and I asked a number of questions which he was able to answer. He brought me back to Bray and on reaching 74 Finglas Park I found Cathal was back, together with a pound of country butter and a large portrait of his Grandfather the Fenian.
On my way back we passed through Rathdrum and found that Walshe’s Hotel that Liam Mellows stayed at is now called Pierce’s.
July 3 Monday: Yesterday Roddy Connolly was interested to hear about his father’s letters from William O’Brien’s collection being in the National Library. He suggests I contact him at the Dail where he was attending a meeting of the Collins Commemoration Committee, which was to award scholarships for research into the 1916-21 period. He suggested that I might meet General MacEoin who was chairman. After some dodging backwards and forwards in the Dail we located each other and had lunch in the new restaurant, which is of a somewhat chromium plate variety, not homely like the old one, but at least not a cafeteria like the thing at Westminster. There is another small one, which we went into by mistake first, where there are tablecloths. I imagine this will be the counterpart of the elite one at Westminster. Sean Dunne was there [Irish Labour Party TD]. I had not met him since the election of 1948 when Ross Connolly was a frightened youngster in the office, and Dunne looked down at the floor, up at the ceiling, and at the four walls in succession to see if there was any escape from this reporter from the terrible Daily Worker, for which I was covering the election. He was very affable, remembered the occasion well, and was on top of the world with the Labour successes.
Roddy told me the General was not there but he had his telephone number. He rang him and he invited us up to his house at 3.30. Meanwhile over lunch Roddy told me about the scholarship. I put in a good word for Snoddy yesterday, and today Roddy told me he was on the short list, together with (of all people) Proinsias MacAonghusa [journalist, active in the Irish Labour Party at the time] for whom I put in a word of faint praise – very faint. MacAonghusa had suggested as a thesis Collins’s life in London. They thought the scope too narrow. Another applicant had proposed getting at the six barrels of Fenian documents in the Catholic University in the USA, which the wretches will neither return nor have copied, but will allow somebody to look at. I have a half-feeling this may be Snoddy. Then there were others – one in Cambridge, another in London.
Roddy Connolly has been in touch with Fitt, whom he helped in the Belfast election. MacAonghusa had ignored three offers of help in Louth, and Roddy believes his aim was to have all the glory for himself. Fitt he considers a good man, but is urging him to establish a proper party with branches and not rely on the wretched system of key-men.
We went to Pearse Street where I showed him the mysterious Italic typewriting regarding German arms. He had said yesterday that Sean O’Sullivan had had an Italic typewriter. But clearly he had not written this. Indeed he thought it was the work of some confidence men. I very much doubt it. I imagine it might be JT Ryan. But it is hard to say. Briscoe is the obvious man, but I am not anxious for Fianna Fail to know about these papers before I have extracted the important material regarding 1923-25 and had all that is useful copied or summarised. Some of it might disappear; or Cormac O’Malley might be got at. Possibly these fears are groundless. Possibly not. Some of the material consists of papers which I imagine the Government might claim were their property. Incidentally, Roddy Connolly told me of the role played by the Socialists in the revolutionary period that is forgotten. Sean MacLoughlin contributed to the training schemes of Collins and others and was out in 1916, and Billy Beaumont was the brother of Sean Beaumont who was a TCD lecturer and socialist. He also told me that the Lecky who appears in the O’Malley papers was a CPGB member and represented the Comintern, on whose behalf he visited Ireland, because relations between the parties were so bad.
Then we went to see General MacEoin, a burly bluff old man, extremely hale and hearty, and with considerable personal magnetism. After my explaining what I wanted he called for a tape-recorder. I spoke my question into it after he had said in his tape-recorder voice, “This is the third day of July 1965” – he started by saying twenty-seven, amended it to forty-seven, then got it right. But he decided to start again. “Mr Roddy Connolly is here with some friend – a friend – who wishes to ask me some questions regarding Michael Collins and Liam Mellows, God rest them both, and I propose to answer his questions.”
Quite quickly be became the countryman again. He dealt with the Brugha-Collins differences as arising from the IRB’s internal politics. When I spoke of the exchange of arms he said nothing of Republican arms being exchanged. But said that the IRB had proposed an invasion from Donegal to Louth and that they got as far as Enniskillen and were “bet out of it. I lost fourteen good men and the fifteenth got back by the skin of his arse.” Regarding the 1924 meeting he said again the IRB was responsible and that Mulcahy went against the Government and had to resign.
After he had put the tape-recorder away, he apologised, took his teeth out, and sent for whiskey. He then spoke of the philosophy behind the Inter-party Government. He had played golf with his opposite number in Belfast. At the ninth hole the other said that the six and twenty-six counties were alleged to be separate nations. “The man who says that is a liar,” said MacEoin. After further fencing the northerner said, “You seem to want straight talk, so I’ll give it you. I’m a Cabinet minister. There is some prestige in it. There are opportunities, perquisites and emoluments. Do you think I’m going to give these up to come and plant my arse on the back-benches in Leinster House?” “I think we can arrange that,” said MacEoin.
He calculated it would cost £8,000,000 and put it up to the Cabinet and was nearly thrown out of the Government for his pains. Then Costello got the idea that the Canadian Government would do the devil and all. They did nothing, so they proclaimed the Republic. “But we did it too quickly,” said MacEoin.
He was gloriously partisan. Of one man he said, “And that man is alive today, in the town of Longford, alive and well, and I regret to say Fianna Fail.” “I’m sorry to say” and “I regret to say” were the usual preludes to his criticisms of his political opponents. He talked much about the IRB. He says that in 1919 Harrry Boland was the Chairman of the Supreme Council. He alone could nominate anybody he wished to fill the chair, and he holds the view that Boland introduced De Valera as president of the Republic partly in a wave of enthusiasm, partly from this knowledge. Collins took over at the end of 1919. He was summoned by Brugha from Ballinalee and ordered to go to London to liquidate the British Cabinet. The IRB was opposed to it. “Do you think they’ve only the makings of one Cabinet?” The Government had not decided on it, though some knew. This was near the beginning of 1920. MacEoin went to see Collins and Mulcahy. He realised they knew nothing of the plan and ordered him back to Longford. This Brugha did not like. But there was no personal bitterness. It was Brugha’s pet scheme, which he had spent five months in London studying. MacEoin told him that he, MacEoin, was unsuitable, being a countryman. The thing had come up previously over the conscription issue in 1918. He described the conciliation meetings of 1922 and how he proposed a concession which Boland and Mellows took to Dev, and he took to Griffith who said, “Get out”. Collins decided to risk it. He took it to Griffith under the stairs of the Gresham where he had his office and there persuaded Griffith to sign. Griffith agreed provided Collins took responsibility for the consequences. Dev and Cathal Brugha refused. He never knew why. I have the notes of this conversation.
I returned to Finglas, found letters from Miss Louise Gavan Duffy and a brother of Alf Metcalfe of Crehelp. Alphonsus died in 1965 – what a pity I was not able to go out there then! Again and again the need for immediately following up clues is rubbed in by experience.
July 4 Tuesday: I did not do much in the day but saw Una Daly at the Land Commission at 4 pm. I found she had become a little deaf and though as helpful as she could be, her memory was not good, and like all typists she did not recall what she was typing. All the same, progress was made, largely because I knew better what to ask.
But one thing she did do was to put me in touch with a man called Baskerville, who was with Liam Mellows in America. I called up to him but he was out. I also called on Rita Brady who was away.
I had mentioned to Cathal that I would like to meet Vincent MacEoin, the architect. I wanted to ask him about the social significance of the “palm tree belt” in Dublin, which seems to have housed many revolutionaries. To my surprise he came up soon after Tony Coughlan arrived, panting and expostulating about Roy Johnston’s hare-brained schemes of committees, sub-committees, super-contra-and-retro-committees, all for a membership of eighteen people. “But he was shot down,” says Cathal. “He was. And then didn’t he say, ‘I might as well resign’ – and nobody says, ‘please don’t’”. Roy can of course be mechanical to the point of utter impracticability. I had to put up with plenty of it. But he is tough, morally and intellectually, and when the arrogance has worn off he is back proposing more sense or nonsense as the case may be.
MacEoin came in afterwards and told me something about old Dublin. He thought the south side was the revolutionary centre from housing the intelligentsia. But he agreed that the classes involved were broader, and that the activists were the intelligentsia of the newly rising nationalist small business people. Among other remarks were that emigration is treachery – something he wrote about in the Democrat, and McCormick who did seven years in Crumlin Road replied to very crudely. And “scratch an English Communist and you find a British Imperialist,” a saying he attributed to his mother. And also that Ireland has been in continual “decline” since 1922. When he had gone I remarked to Cathal that he had a streak of forced cynicism. “He has. He drives Cathal Goulding round the bend with it.” We demolished three bottles (between the four of us) of the Jura wines which Doran’s are selling off at 5/- a bottle. I think we have had our share of them!
July 5 Wednesday: I spoke to Baskerville on the phone and found he filled the gap of the “Irish Citizens’ Association” period in the USA. But he cannot see me this week. Then I rang the Michael O’Leary Sean Kerr told me was in Liverpool. I am getting ready the research in that city and know that Dublin introductions will be the best. But the reply was, “Mr O’Leary used to live here, but he is dead.” His daughter had answered the phone but told me of a brother of his in Inchicore.
Then I tried Eileen McGrane [member of Cumann na mBan and activist on the anti-Treaty side in the civil war]. Her husband, named MacCarvill, said she would be back later. When I rang again I found I was talking to somebody with brains. I explained that it was not essential to history that one should know where Liam Mellows stayed in Liverpool, but I wanted to find out just the same. “Of course,” she declared in most definite terms, and then as a Professor telling her students she said, “a research worker must cover the ground! Walk down the paths he trod!” So I looked forward to the appointment she gave me. After that I rang Mrs Cuffe’s daughter, Mrs Hope, and she confirmed that Mellows stayed a week at Glenageary and that the maid, Annie Wrigley, was from Wexford and recognised him. Her mother had to swear her to secrecy.
I called at the Housing Department but found Christie Byrne had died some years ago. Then I went to Dr MacCarvill’s [ie. Eileen McGrane’s] and was not disappointed. She lives in an expensive flat in Fitzwilliam Square, with a grand piano in a huge room, with pictures on the walls, mostly modern, and magnificent bookcases. She said she was a great friend of Ernie O’Malley and described herself as “of the left”. But she could give little information about Mellows. Her trip to the south was to warn of a Free State encircling operation. She thought either the plenipotentiaries should have been arrested on their return to Dun Laoire or the treaty accepted. Either was better than the drift into civil war. But she emphasised the youth of the Irish leaders except Griffith. I had come to much the same view myself, and it was Gallacher’s too. She was also interested in the social side.
In the evening just as Cathal and I were finishing supper didn’t Tony Coughlan and Cathal Goulding appear – wanting to know what Sean MacEoin had told me! Tony Coughlan is a desperate gossip. But they stayed till 2.30 am. The return of the remains of Dunne and Sullivan [executed in Britain for the assassination of Sir Henry Wilson] has been negotiated by the National Graves.
July 6 Thursday: Owing to last night’s protracted session I decided to postpone my journey till tomorrow. I got little done indeed, except to go to Bulfin Road and meet Denis O’Leary who was in the burnings in Liverpool in 1920. He gave me the address of his niece in Great Corby. He thought Mellows stayed with Mrs Lanigan.
Cathal and I were getting ready to retire at about midnight when the door burst open and in poured Tony Coughlan, Cathal Goulding, Sean Garland, Seamus Costello, an older man Ryan [probably Mick Ryan], and a Fianna boy. They saw our dozen of stout and three bottles of wine. “Not enough,” they declared, and down to Kirwan’s they went, midnight though it was, and brought up a few more bottles. There was loud argument and laughter till 4 am. and the only value was to enable me to see what theoretical points need explanation.
July 7 Friday: Of course here was another day lost. I spent most of the time with Tony Coughlan, but Cathal drove me down to the boat and I went on board.
July 8 Saturday (Liverpool): I arrived in Liverpool, meeting Paddy MacLoughlin who was coming off the Woodside boat. I rang Mrs Darby whose name was given me by O’Neill in Inchicore and she seemed very friendly, and suggested I go out to see her, as the nieces of Stephen Lanigan lived near. Accordingly I went out beyond Crosby. But to my surprise she received me most coolly, informed me that the two women had left the district and that she had no information. I wondered what had happened. Had she rung up the Irish Centre and been told by Walsh that I was a dangerous “left” and to say nothing? Something like this must have happened. Looking up my references I realised that Lanigan was described by Sean Kerr, the docker, as a “big shot in the Customs”, so that apart from anything else I was up against middle class snobbery. When I got back Dorothy Greaves called and said that Elsie Greaves’s daughter who was going to be the journalist is thinking of giving it up because of all the snubs she receives! Elsie’s first husband’s mother has died and apparently has left Elsie (whose daughters for all she changed their name to Campbell are her grandchildren) a lot of money.
July 9 Sunday: I did some work on the American period during the day and in the evening met John McClelland in town and had a wee drink with him. The baby is only about three weeks old but has had to go to hospital with a strange skin complaint which is, however, now clearing up. His parents arrive for a holiday tomorrow. Both Tom Redmond and he are mystified as to where Sean Redmond, who was to have contacted us from Blackpool, can have got to. I am a little afraid he might get into a position where he would get the blame for splitting Malachy Gray’s delegation. But if he is there early enough surely he will meet them all.
July 10 Monday: I did some work on the book and spoke on the phone to Mrs Stewart. A dreadfully gloomy letter came from “The Bay” – there were no amenities there, she could’t go out because her shoes were wet, the loneliness was dreadful, and all she could do was to think how near she was approaching her allotted span. On the phone she said she was weighed down with thinking what the loss of Phyllis had meant to her. For now she had nobody who would go there with her. She said she would come to lunch on Friday. As for the effect of Phyllis’s death, there is no doubt about the blow these things deal. I only began to notice during the last two months the return of normal energy and desire to get on with work. One is depressed without realising it. I went into town and bought an extra desk, which is to support the microfilm reader. Still no word from Sean Redmond.
July 11 Tuesday: I went to Preston to see Mrs Mackey, of whom Dr McCarvill had told me. At once I was at home – an old Irish woman of 76 years; not a gloomy middleclass snob. It struck me to check again my notes of the O’Learys. I had been given Miss Darby’s name. I said shall I write Miss or Mrs. “Miss would be better,” said they. But I wrote to Mrs, and she is an Englishwoman he has married in Liverpool, with no interest. Mrs Mackey thought that burning woodyards would not be very respectable and she would not want to describe how friends of her husband’s harboured a “criminal“[The IRA had organised the burning of warehouses and timber yards on the Liverpool Docks in November 1920]. Perhaps her daughter knew who Mellows was and she doesn’t.
Mrs Mackey did not give me much information. But I enjoyed my talk with her. She is a great “character”, full of fight, though paralysed with a stroke on one side. She explained that she was from near Navan in Co. Meath, where her people held land under entail for six generations. Her mother would never allow the local landlords to hunt there and was active in Land League days. This seems to indicate a Protestant origin, and the name could conceivably be Scottish in origin. On the other hand she says her maiden name was O’Neill and to presume the land was on her side and not her husband’s vitiates that argument. I was not quite sure of what she was saying. One thing, if I remember it aright, was that her uncle was the famous Fr Lawrence O’Neill who was associated with O’Growney. Her husband, who died at the age of 30, was described as Professor of Economics at Liverpool University, and Editor of the Economist. But later she referred to the Financial Times or News. I don’t see quite why owners of entailed land should be Catholics and Land Leaguers. Still, the house was burned by the Tans and the mother lived five months afterwards. The district was Bective. Her sons are in Canada and Australia; a grandson is going to be a priest.
All round the room were pictures of priests, bishops, cardinals, ending with the Pope. She pointed out Cardinal Hinsley, “But sure he was only a Bishop, then.” She claims an intimate acquaintance with De Valera and Sean Lynch [ie. Jack Lynch, Fianna Fail leader] – but the “letter” he sent her about the Common Market, which she is against, was a press hand-out. She says she was brought into things by Countess Markievcz, whom she considers ill treated by her biographers. She admires Pearse and Childers, but dislikes Casement as he continued to draw his Civil Service pension. She says that Markievicz took instruction to become a Catholic but did not do so as she could not understand the Immaculate Conception. She knows Maire Comerford very well and remarks that her book is too long and much of it is irrelevant.
A visitor came, a devout Catholic. She started attacking ecumenism, till her guest pointed out that Pope John was inspired by the Holy Ghost, “Pooh, the Holy Ghost’s dead years ago,” she declared – and she the Life President of the Liverpool Irish Centre. She was a Cumann na mBan woman in the Four Courts in 1916. She came to Liverpool only around 1921 or 1922. She suggested I get in touch with Sean McCann.
July 12 Wednesday: I got quite a bit of indexing work done during the day, which was hot and humid.
July 13 Thursday: I continued indexing. In the evening I went to the Connolly Association branch meeting, which 24 attended. Brian Farrington spoke on Nationalism in literature. This is the best-attended branch in England, but it is only once a month. Tom Redmond and Michael Crowe were over from Manchester. Nobody had heard from Sean Redmond. Perhaps he did not get to Blackpool at all. Rock, the YCLer with the Trotsky ideas (the waste-paper-basket merchant) was there and tried to trip Brian Farrington up on the question of censorship. When it was all over Barney Morgan asked if he had been right to prevent his selling the Communist Manifesto at the meeting. Certainly, said I – and I guessed that this would be the gate through which Trotsky literature might find its way. For all his superficial cynicism Barney Morgan is sound enough. Roose Williams was there too, in fine form. He invited me to his cottage at Menai Bridge, whither he repairs next week. He still talks warmly of the help I gave him in North Wales in the middle thirties. I recall trying to get a branch [of the CPGB] going in Blaenau Ffestiniog – that would be 1938 I think. It is strange how these forgotten activities spring back to memory. Doherty is in good form.
July 14 Friday: As arranged, Mrs Stewart came for lunch and helped sort out some old things that must be disposed of. She told me that she is feeling quite neurotic and wakes up in the night worrying over aches and pains. She has an arthritic spine. Phyllis’s illness took a lot out of her, as indeed it did out of younger and more vigorous people, and she is only now catching up with her homework. She had looked forward to meeting Miss Merry at Pennerley, but learned she was in hospital with an “obstruction but not serious”. As if any obstruction could be anything but serious. I have learned enough to be highly sceptical about hospital cases that are not serious – after CEG, TA Jackson, and then Phyllis. Still, one hopes for the best. At first I said why do you not turn your interests more to the young people. I laughingly suggested she might find herself with grandchildren yet. But her son “does not look at women.” So she believes, anyway. Then I suggested a part-time job to compel her to put household and health worries on one side. She said she had considered this and thought it might be a good plan. Never retire, I said.
July 15 Saturday: Everybody is still talking about the thunderstorm that came at midnight on Thursday. It was the most severe I recall since that of September 2nd, 1939, that ill-fated night when Geoffrey Bloor and I scuttled home from the Kingston by-pass in drenching rain, and the war began next morning. Like that it came at midnight, and out of the southwest. That was followed by a hot dry autumn and a savage winter – but the latter I hardly expect. I suspect 1963 “broke” the run of cold winters and it may get mild again. Certainly the last one was like the olden days. However, to return, I went into the chandlers in Borough Road to buy canes to hold up the artichokes which the gusty hot wind is blowing about. Every customer had to listen to the tale of the storm and its effect upon the dog that belonged to the proprietor’s daughter in Canada, that would not eat a bite since the night of the storm, notwithstanding the attentions of the finest veterinary surgeons in Liverpool.
And apart from staking the artichokes I worked on the book.
July 16 Sunday: I was busy making card indexes all day, but in the evening went for a short bicycle ride.
July 17 Monday: Again I was busy on the card indexes. A letter from Dorothy Greaves said that Harley had been in trouble again. He had fallen asleep while watching moths in the middle of the night, had been carried off to hospital in a police car, and then found perfectly all right. She enclosed the newspaper cutting which gave an account of it. His statement was quite good. “Fishermen often fall asleep catching fish? Why shouldn’t entomologists fall asleep watching moths?”
July 18 Tuesday: Again it was card indexes. Without a very complete one nothing can be done on such a complex subject.
July 19 Wednesday: I bought some beetroots in Grange Road and selected a bunch with very fresh green tops. “Will I cut the tops off?” “By no means,” said I, “I chose the fresh ones so that they could be eaten.” “Eaten?” The shopgirl made the most dreadful grimace. “You couldn’t eat these.” I told her they were “like spinach”. No use explaining what the chenopodiaceae are! Whether or not, she was unimpressed. Actually when cooked they were as good as the best spinach and the roots will be made into borsch. Otherwise it was card indexes.
July 20 Thursday: I am getting on well with the American period and have now identified practically all the incidents in Liam Mellows’s letter to Nora Connolly O’Brien.
July 21 Friday: A letter from Sean Redmond says that Bobby Rossiter has had terrible trouble with his eyes and that one is blind. He thought it was the effect of the sun at first. Sean seems very upset about it. I don’t know what Rossiter will do if his sight is permanently impaired.
July 22 Saturday: I finished the card index of the American period at last – at about midday. Then I prepared further research. But I felt so very tired that I went to bed at 11 pm. – without supper, and merely with a glass of hock as a nightcap. I don’t remember feeling so tired for quite a long time.
July 23 Sunday: It was a most magnificent day. I thought I had awakened at 7 am. and was all set to go to the cottage. But my watch had stopped. It was 8.50 – no wonder I felt refreshed. I set off none the less and cycled to Chester. Then I went to Eccleston, intending either to cross by the ferry or go past Easter Hall to Coldford. But alas – the ferry is no more. And the public cannot now (so said a local inhabitant) use the bridge in the estate. So it was back to the Wrexham Road. I tried another road. Again it was no use, and by the time I reached Wrexham I was famished. But there was no restaurant open. So I took the train along the line they want to close down, to Chester Northgate, had a meal there and cycled back to 124 Mount Road. There seems to be a “jinx” on my visits to the cottage.
July 24 Monday: I spent the whole day indexing for the book. I still have not written another chapter.
July 25 Tuesday (London): I went to London on the midday train and found Sean Redmond in the office in good form and getting ready for the “happy event”[ie. his impending wedding].
July 26 Wednesday: I spent the whole day till late at night on the paper. Tony had sent some material, and I got on quicker than I expected.
July 27 Thursday: Again the whole day was spent on the paper, and there were no events of note. I seem to be finishing it in record time – a measure of the fact that only now am I recovering anything approaching normal energy.
July 28 Friday: I saw Sean Redmond for a few minutes in the office, then he went off to get ready for tomorrow. I spent the afternoon at Marx House. The paper is finished.
July 29 Saturday: I spent the day at Colindale going through files of the Liverpool Daily Post. And certainly made one or two discoveries.
July 30 Sunday: I went to Hyde Park in the afternoon. Joe Deighan was there with Dorothy. He has hurt his back again, pulling a chair forward while he was sitting on it! Pat Hensey and Gerry Curran spoke and I said a few words myself. There were “hippies” in the Park, with flower-embroidered jeans and wee cow-bells attached! In the evening I was at Sean Redmond’s party, with Tom Redmond, Aine, Des Logan, Peter Mulligan, Pat Hensey – and Tadhg Egan whom Pat Hensey and I met in Camden Town and took up with us. I think it has every chance of being a success. Susan is a rather unassertive type who obviously takes quite a risk; but she seems very fond of Sean, and of course they are not 21. Jane Tate was there, Barbara Haq, Eugene Downing and many others, including Pat Bond, who got drunk, I’ll swear for the first time in his life, and wouldn’t stop singing!
July 31 Monday (Liverpool): A queer day. First I missed the train to Ripley, and had to take a taxi. Near Coxbench we noticed the cars approaching us throwing up spray. There was a sharp line across the road at the boundary of a violent rainstorm that had passed. The paper went exceptionally smoothly. But the blocks did not arrive. The blockmaker was telephoned. He could not be contacted. Then we learned from his Head Office in Sheffield that the storm had broken the telephone connections. Later we discovered that the blocks had been going backwards and forwards on the bus, and we could not be told because of the breakdown. I decided to go via Manchester. But the train went later than the enquiry office said it would. I phoned John McClelland at Manchester and he said he would meet me at Central. Again the train was late. I hurried over to Central, but no McClelland came. I waited an hour, seeing some queer people. There was an African who strutted up and down talking to himself, with his hands on his belly. Then came a man who sounded German – he had a rucksack and was in his bare feet, one foot labelled “left” the other “right”. He wanted to know where the left luggage office was. This must be another kind of “hippie”. Everybody gets madder as society disintegrates. There were only two of them.
However, I got tired of waiting and took a Rock Ferry train. When I reached 124 Mount Road after a cup of tea I rang McClelland. His wife told me he had been waiting for me at Birkenhead Central, while I was in Liverpool. Later he came on the phone. Naturally we were both disappointed as we had looked forward to a chat over a drink.
There were letters. One was from John de Courcy Ireland. He had discovered when a ship I was interested in had tied up in Dublin. Rita Brady wrote giving what she knew of “Pa Murray”, Liam Mellows’s relative in Los Angeles, as she thought. A man or woman from Shrewsbury called Wallace wanted the cottage I can’t get to off me! Dorothy Greaves sent a receipt for insurance I paid her. Ben Briscoe had asked his father some questions I sent – I think the old man must be very unwell now and perhaps he is unable to write. I had shot a bow at a wild venture and asked whether he or Michael Cremin sent reports to GHQ on an italic typewriter. He replied “Cremin”. So a great mystery is solved by good guesswork.
August 1 Tuesday: I started again on the book and am still slowly wading though the American period. Very slowly indeed the pieces are falling into place.
August 2 Wednesday: Again I was able to spend another day writing. I took a chance last week and wrote to Norman Thomas. I was gratified to get a reply, but he is blind and cannot write much. But what is interesting is that he says it was Dr Maloney who brought him into Irish affairs.
August 3 Thursday: I wrote during the day, and in the evening met John McClelland, this time at the Birkenhead Park Hotel which is the quietest place we have found yet.
August 4 Friday (London): Tony Coughlan telephoned in the morning after arriving from Dublin and came out for breakfast [He spent some weeks of his university vacation in London each year for some years, helping with the Connolly Association’s work]. We then went to London.
August 5 Saturday: I met the usual people and went out in the evening with Des Logan on the papers in Paddington.
August 6 Sunday: We held a brief meeting in Arlington Road, with Tony Coughlan, Peter Mulligan and Jim Kelly. I said a few words at Hyde Park in the afternoon.
August 7 Monday (Liverpool): Tony Coughlan had a letter from Seamus O’Toole (the Misneach man) who had discovered that the Provost of Eton [rather the Bursar, Mr Jocelyn Proby] was a great groundrent landlord in Dublin. He had decided to go to Slough and hold a press conference against him. He was to arrive in Liverpool tomorrow and would come to London [In due course Seamus O’Tuathail and Anthony Coughlan went out to Eton College at Windsor and distributed leaflets to the students there criticising Dublin’s ground landlords, one of whom was their Bursar]. I went to Liverpool myself in the afternoon.
August 8 Tuesday: Here was another day spent card-indexing and writing my way through the interlude chapter.
August 9 Wednesday: I sent Alf Monahan [ie. Ailbhe O Monncháin] back his manuscript a few days ago, together with some further enquiries. I am wondering if the ICA man Egan can have been the docker who accompanied him to Derry. But I have had no reply. I am writing all day – and re-writing!
August 10 Thursday: Another day spent in the same way. Unfortunately however, the weather has decided to break and it is getting cooler.
August 11 Friday: Again I spent the whole day on the book – on and off – but the work is terribly slow.
August 12 Saturday: I had intended to go to the cottage, but it was cold and cloudy and the weather forecast for tomorrow was bad. I worked on the book.
August 13 Sunday: The day opened badly and then improved. I was sorry I had not gone to the cottage after all. However, there was so much to do that the time was easily used up on the book. I was hardly out of the house all day.
August 14 Monday: Again I spent the day on the book, and re-emerged into the American story.
August 15 Tuesday: Another day on the same job. I am wondering if I can possibly do both this and the Jackson job by the New Year [ie. the Epilogue to TA Jackson’s history of Ireland, “Ireland Her Own”, bringing the narrative up to date, which Greaves had agreed to do].
August 16 Wednesday: In the evening I went to the Connolly Association meeting. Brian Stowell, the Manxman joined. Tony Coughlan gave the talk. John McClelland, Barney Morgan and others were there, but the meeting was badly attended. Tony Coughlan said Seamus O’Toole was delighted with his visit, stayed with Peter Mulligan and went out selling the Democrat!
August 17 Thursday: Tony Coughlan came for lunch. We then went for a walk into the part of Wirral soon to be devastated by the Government’s wrongly sited motorway. We went to little Storeton, then by the old Barnston path to the railway, and joined Landican Lane. Then we took a bus and went to the top of Bidston Hill. John McClelland came to 124 Mount Road in the evening, and finally we saw Tony Coughlan to his bus.
August 18 Friday: It poured rain all day. I did a little more on the book. In the evening John McClelland called to collect some raspberry canes which I have been thinning out and transplanting. I am trying to remove the tangle on the fence that has the loganberries on it. A letter came from Swords to the effect that Alf Monahan is dead – died on 30th of July. So that is why there was no reply. But his adopted daughter [ie. Mrs Helmi Saidléar, sister-in-law of the Editor’s wife, Muriel Saidlear] is confident that the date was 1922 and the man was Egan.
August 19 Saturday (London): I spent the morning clearing up and took the 4.30 to London where I was in Holloway with Joe Deighan. He was complaining about Sean Redmond and telling me how nobody but myself could get the CA going as it should be. For a while I listened, then I thought this is his way of enticing me back to London.
August 20 Sunday: I was in the office working on the paper most of the day, but was out with Peter Mulligan in the evening in Kilburn.
August 21 Monday: Again I spent the day on the paper. In the evening Joe Deighan, Charlie Cunningham, Peter Mulligan and others came in. As Tony Coughlan said, they are still foostering about with details and have no real conception of finishing the job for a date. I tried to persuade them to put in linoleum instead of laying floor tiles on gloss and heaven knows what surfaces. But no, they must drag it out! I think Charlie Cunningham secretly likes to have a place where he can work as a tradesman “for himself”. One can see how essential a part “alienation” plays in getting a job finished!
August 22 Tuesday: I worked most of the day on the paper but wrote to Helga in Eslohe [ie. her native village in the Sauerland, Westphalia, Germany] to the effect that I would not be here next Wednesday, the day Cathal told me she was arriving at noon. I suggested she delay a day.
August 23 Wednesday: Again I was busy on the paper all day. There was a branch meeting in the evening, but I did not attend it. By dint of speedy typing I managed to get the whole paper finished and sent off by the last post.
August 24 Thursday (Liverpool): So here the day comes round again [ie. his sister’s birthday],and Phyllis would have been only 51! I was in the office a few minutes in the morning. Peter Mulligan told me that the meeting last night had been attended by a priest and twelve students. They are all busily researching into the Irish in Britain. Damned social busybodism! Every university is at it. The only people who have no initiative allowed them are the emigrants themselves. But at any rate these were among the first to come along to us, and the priest will have more social responsibility than a professor. I saw Idris Cox for a few minutes, about restarting the committee [presumably the CPGB International Affairs Committee or its Irish sub-committee]. Then I went to Liverpool.
August 25 Friday: A card from John de Courcy Ireland says that he has made a little but not much more progress with tracing the voyages. I worked on the book.
August 26 Saturday: I found I had a severe cold coming on – very strange indeed for this time of year, and it went to my chest. However, I got more done on the book.
August 27 Sunday: I had intended once more to go to the cottage, but did not like risking it with the bad cold. And then again it was the “Bank Holiday”. Heaven knows why they shift these things about instead of abolishing them and giving everybody an extra week on his annual holiday. However, I got on with the book.
August 28 Monday: I spent another day, slowly constructing the American story and got into 1918 – quite a step. The work is difficult because of the variety of issues involved and, of course, the lack of information from Mellows himself. I have no diary until 1919.
August 29 Tuesday: A letter came from Cathal. Tony Meade has resigned from the editorship of the United Irishman, saying that the paper is not taken seriously. There is talk of O’Toole doing it. He is not a member of Sinn Fein. Roy Johnston told Cathal they are asking Tony Coughlan and Cathal wants to stop him. Did I agree? I did of course and wrote as much. But my guess is Tony Coughlan will do it. There was not a whisper of this while he was over. He is, however, notoriously secretive. Cathal fears that if things go wrong we will get the blame. Apparently also while clucking to Tony to come to the grain, Roy is preparing his own exit. He told Cathal that if the next Ard Fheis does not adopt a “progressive” policy he will “return to his origins”. The complete irresponsibility of the petit-bourgeois! Everything is done as the fancy takes them! I asked Cathal if he will be the Dublin correspondent if Tony Coughlan pulls out. But he is a lousy correspondent! I doubt if he will. But I think Tony Coughlan will take the UI [ie. The editorship of the “United Irishman”; in fact Seamus O Tuathail became editor and remained so for several years, although he was not a member of either Sinn Fein or the IRA].
August 30 Wednesday (London): I went to Ripley, did the paper, and then went to London again. At the branch meeting there were 28 people, including visitors like Des Logan and Colm Power who usually turn up if I am speaking. I was talking about Michael Collins and there was a good discussion.
August 31 Thursday: I saw Sean Redmond in the office. He knew about Tony Coughlan. He says he is anxious to do full-time work again. He says Meade is joining the staff of the Kerryman. His wife is from Tralee. He thinks he is very defeatist. I suspected long ago that he might look for a career. In the afternoon I went to the Marx Library and John Williams telephoned and said he had arranged for Weinstein from the USA to see me at 5.30 pm. tomorrow. I got many letters written in the evening.
September 1 Friday: I was in the office in the day and saw Weinstein in Iris Wilkins’s office at Central Books, after which we went for a talk in the Levy and Franks public house on the corner of Theobald’s Road. Iris stayed in the office awhile, then joined us. Weinstein remembered the names of quite a number of people I was interested in. Of Norman Thomas he said he was strong on civil liberties and spoke at Alexander Trachtenberg’s funeral because he “could never forget the fact that Trachtenberg recruited him into the socialist party [A.Trachtenberg, 1884-1966, an American publisher of radical political books and pamphlets, activist in the Socialist Party of America and later the Communist Party USA]. Gregory Weinstein went back to Russia probably at the time of the deportations. He remembered Larkin. The Indian Lajpat Rai [Indian nationalist leader, 1865-1928] he described as “a right winger.” He had been with Joshi [Indian communist leader] in Moscow a week or two ago and had been asked about some Indians arrested in San Francisco. I ought, he said, to get in touch with Joshi, as he was in New York about this time. He had come to Europe for his wife’s health. She is very enthusiastic about London, I don’t know why, except that she likes to find the places mentioned in English literature – those of them that are not knocked down by the “property developers”. He thought some of the people I was interested in were still alive, and suggested I send him a memorandum. I was in Hammersmith with Sean Redmond [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat” in the evening].
September 2 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning. In the evening I was with Des Logan in Paddington. He said Eamon MacLaughlin is hopelessly chained to booze, and Barbara nearly as bad, and he expects him to drop out of everything. He is getting restless about continuing to live in London, but everybody he knows is there. I understand from Sean Redmond that Tom had a great time in Dublin, with press conferences and television men. The boulder they want for the memorial weighs five tons and stands on forestry ground [This was a project to make a monument to the Manchester Martyrs from a boulder of Wicklow granite]. They therefore took the television men to another stone at the foot of a sculptor’s garden, and they will (they hope) remove the other one secretly. I asked Sean how they thought they could get the whole thing done by November – he seems quite happy about it! I can foresee a last-minute scare.
September 3 Sunday (Liverpool): The Standing Committee took place in the morning and was reasonably useful. I left for Liverpool in the afternoon and resumed work on the last American chapter. I arrived in a roaring gale with the bottom out of the glass.
September 4 Monday: The gale continued with drenching rain. Harrison, who was going to start painting the house, came to explain that he could not do it, which was obvious.
September 5 Tuesday: Although it was windy and showery, Harrison started cleaning the paintwork and I got on with the writing.
September 6 Wednesday: The showery weather continued, but Harrison got on very well. Again I spent the day writing.
September 7 Thursday: The barometer is sailing up, and the cold that nearly prostrated me last week is improving.
September 8 Friday: I worked on the book all day. In the evening John McClelland called. We had a good chuckle over Tom Redmond’s boulder. How Dooley [Arthur Dooley, sculptor] is going to finish the job and have it cast by November we do not know. I had told them at the start to get a temporary base of concrete and put the other there at their leisure.
September 9 Saturday: The weather became very fine, and I had half a mind to go at long last to the cottage. However, I am still struggling with the same damned chapter and decided I could not afford the time. A letter came from Sean Redmond to the effect that R. Palme Dutt had telephoned to say Joshi is in London. I rang Stan Davidson, who was reputed to know his whereabouts, but could not get through to him.
September 10 Sunday: Thanks to a deceptive weather forecast of rain that did not come, I again failed to make my trip to Salop. However, I put in about 10 hours on the book and felt quite tired by night.
September 11 Monday (London): A letter from Cathal invited me over next week and added that Tom Redmond had thrust the transportation of the boulder on to poor Kadar Asmal, but Cathal was going to try to get some old college friend of his who manages a quarry to transport it! Soon we’ll have boulders on the brain!
I caught Davidson, who referred me to Sharma (I am not sure of the spelling). He told me that Joshi was writing the history of the Indian Communist Party and was short of records between 1919 and 1925 [PC Joshi, 1907-1980, former secretary of the Communist Party of India]. Dutt had told him about the Woods papers which I had mentioned to him. He also recollected talking to Weinstein about California. He was leaving on the 23rd, when I hope to be in Ireland. I decided to go to London today.
I went to 6 Cockpit Chambers for a minute or two, went out for a meal, and then went from Paddington to Southall, a sprawling characterless suburb in appearance, but really quite remarkable, as those children that shoot along the pavements on bicycles, or the youths who peer at clothes shop windows, are all brown-skinned children of Indians and Pakistanis. I quite easily found the place where Joshi is staying with some friends, and we had a talk lasting about two hours. He is a great character, full of ideas, and “alive” in the way that English people are not. Weinstein had given me the impression that he was in the United States. But he is only sixty, and did not join the party till 1928. His parents were very rich. I got the impression he was in Britain as a student. He is not apparently, as Sharma told me, writing the history of the Indian Party, but reviewing the history of the Comintern and its continuation in the international movement, as regards the colonial question. Why the split in India? “They could not solve the problem, so they split.” The Indonesian debacle? [Between 500,000 and a million Indonesian communists and other leftwingers were slaughtered in Indonesia in 1965-66 following a military coup in that country] The only success of China! – Mao took no notice of Stalin. If there was any tendency it was to blame Stalin’s leftism for most historic errors, but also to say there was too much application of Russian experience mechanically elsewhere. I asked him if he thought it was wise to found the Comintern at all. He replied that he thought it was, but to present the parties of the Second International with the ultimtum “all or nothing” was an error; also the speed with which it was pushed through.
He is taking off three months each summer to come to Moscow and London. He has introductions from the CPI [Communist Party of India], but also from the Government, for the Prime Minister still calls him “Uncle!” In a few years the old generation that fought the national struggle together will be gone, so future Communists will not get Government sponsorship. He is reading in the British Museum and the Indian Office library. At the moment he is studying the antecedents of the movement. He was interested in my discoveries about the Indians in America, and in the papers Aileen Woods told me about. I suggested he should go to Ireland, and he thought he would like to next year. He could get an introduction to the Department of External Affairs. I assured him that the Irish Workers Party would be delighted to receive him.
September 12 Tuesday (Liverpool): I saw Sean Redmond for a few minutes in the morning. A letter came from Henry of Edinburgh Trades Council, this time not a bit reserved, inviting me to address the Connolly Centenary lecture on June 5th next. I returned to Liverpool at midday.
September 13 Wednesday (Shropshire): The weather being warm and dry, at last I went to the cottage, taking the train to Shrewsbury and cycling up by way of Minsterley and Shelve – not much more than 16-20 miles in all. A plastic pipe protruded from the ground at the gate. Presumably “making a connection”, for which the Water Board wants to charge me £14, means pulling the bung out of this! The “well” was not dry, but too muddy to drink. I cycled to the Stiperstones Hotel and brought up a plastic container of drinking water. I can see how Mrs Stewart found it difficult. But I found plenty of timber for fuel and a crab apple tree with all the crabs blown off by the recent gales. In the evening I climbed to the top of Nipstone Rock.
September 14 Thursday (Liverpool): I spent the morning cycling round some of the lanes to the west of “To Bay” and left the cottage about 2.30 for Shrewsbury. I thought I was lucky in catching the 4.7 to Chester. But near Whittington the train stopped. The guard explained there was a derailment ahead, and indeed as we later passed Gobowen on the other line, it was easily seen, with a wagon jutting over the line that we ought to have been on. I cycled from Chester to 124 Mount Road, not along the main road I used to use as a boy, but through a maze of traffic-free by-ways it is lucky I remembered.
September 15 Friday: I did very little today. I am still not the better of the damned cold I caught early on in the month. Harrison is still painting the house, but it is nearly finished. But he wanted the windows of my room open, and this brought the danger of the papers blowing about unless they were weighted down.
September 16 Saturday: I was to have gone to Ireland tonight but decided to try and get a little more writing done, and I made some progress.
September 17 Sunday: Lorries are going by all the while, loaded with results of excavating the new tunnel. I now see they are dumping the earth in unsightly heaps along Lever Causeway. What a gang of vandals are running the country these days.
September 18 Monday: I brought the story up to De Valera’s arrival in the USA. So that is some progress. Then I started preparing for the Dublin trip.
September 19 Tuesday: I wrote to Mrs Conor, Baskerville, Norman Thomas, Jim O’Regan, Tony Coughlan, Mrs Czira, and heaven knows who else. I am going to Ireland a little better prepared than usual and hope I do not lose too much time. Harrison demanded £40 for painting the house. He has daubed and splashed a bit, but the weather will be kept out so I gave it to him, and then I caught the Leinster.
September 20 Wednesday (Dublin): I went up to 74 Finglas Park in the morning and met old Wilson the dentist, Cathal’s father, for the first time. I had lunch with Tony Coughlan, who told me that Seamus O’Toole, the Misneach man who went to hold a press conference against the Provost of Eton last month [properly the College Bursar], was to become Editor of the United Irishman. He had been offered it himself but had been dissuaded by Kader Asmal. Tony Meade is soon leaving for Kerry, to write on the “Kerryman”. I saw him for a moment in the evening when Cathal and I called in to the United Irishman office. O’Toole was there, and Barrett the Fianna boy. Cathal was not pleased that Meade was leaving. He thinks he will drop out of the Republican movement altogether [as indeed happened]. Orders have now been issued that nobody is allowed to join the IRA who does not sell the paper. I asked why Meade was not asked to remain on this basis. Cathal thought that an Editor who comes in on the understanding that the paper will receive support would stand a better change of getting it. He said that Tony Coughlan was willing to leave the IWP to do it but when he expressed disgust mumbled something about the principle of the greatest good. [Anthony Coughlan, whom Greaves refers to in the entry for 29 August as “notoriously secretive”, was not a member of the Irish Workers Party, although he was close to some of those who were. He did not discuss the details of his political activity in Ireland with CDG in those years. His political work related to his being Assistant Secretary and then Secretary of the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society in the middle and later 1960s – for which see the Society’s Minute Book and other records. He also acted in a voluntary unpaid capacity as Dublin correspondent of the “Irish Democrat” from when he came to work in Dublin in autumn 1961 until that paper ceased printed publication in the early 2000s, and he had regular monthly articles in it over that time. See also a cognate entry in the later Vol. 21, for 15 March 1970.]
September 21 Thursday: I saw Ernest Nunan in the morning and told him about my talk with his sisters. I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and Kader Asmal. In the evening I called out to Baskerville, who was in the Irish Citizens Organisation in the USA.
September 22 Friday: I saw Sean Nolan and urged him to invite PC Joshi to Ireland next year. We discussed the Connolly Centenary, and he told me what they are doing. I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and rang Nora Connolly O’Brien, who told me to contact Stephen Murphy of the Citizen Army about Egan the docker. He thought the name was Charlie Egan but would find out. Then I met Roddy Connolly. We called at the United Irishman office to borrow a tape-recorder, and Nora Connolly having Fiona with her and inviting us to tea, we went up to Galtymore Park. There Roddy played the recording he got in Belfast and I taped it on to Tony Meade’s recorder. Then we spent the evening talking. Fiona recalled the meeting we had in Westminster, I thought at the Caxton Hall, she at Denison House, when Peadar O’Donnell and Dorothy Macardle spoke. I was in the chair but cannot recall RM Fox being present, though she says he was. It would be around 1943. We spent half an hour looking for a place for coffee. I have a dim recollection that McInerney was there. How we paid all their fares I don’t know. I remember we asked Dorothy Macardle why she finished in 1927. “I am afraid that is the year when I ceased to agree with Mr. De Valera.” Fiona typed the book and helped with research. She said De Valera read every word. It was taken to him section by section, and a complete extra typescript was given to and paid for by Fianna Fail. Fiona recalls that after the meeting she and RM Fox, if it was he indeed, went to Jack Carney’s flat in or near Chancery Lane. She recalled that he was extravagantly dressed on that occasion, but apparently Moira Carney asked Fox archly, “Who’s the glamour girl?” “Well, you see,” says Fiona, “I work for a writer, and as the work is badly paid, I have to put on my best clothes for public occasions.” Moira Carney, says Roddy, was a niece of Samuel Gompers [the US trade union leader].
September 23 Saturday: The first day of autumn, but quite a fine day. I went out to see Margaret and Tom Skinnider and was able to make some useful checks on the American chapters. Tom Skinnider is 86. When I last met her [ie. Mrs Skinnider] her life-long friend and companion, Miss O’Keefe, had just died. They had lived together for 40 years. She was more collected this time, and I could see an underlying kindliness of a rough Scotch kind that is quite attractive. If there had been a decent leader after 1916, these women would have been a tremendous lasting asset. I wrote some letters, to Bax and Boileaus – in an attempt to identify the “Bacheys” in Mellows’s diary.
September 24 Sunday: It poured rain in the morning. Cathal was in Galway. Tony Coughlan and I walked round Howth head in the afternoon, when it was warm and dry. I saw Rita Brady.
September 25 Monday: I called in to Stephen Murphy in Clare St. and he had my book ready for me to autograph. He told me that Andy Egan is still alive and has a daughter and son-in-law in Phibsboro. He told me that he was in the old CPI with Roddy Connolly, Nora Connolly O’Brien and others. He recalls Nora Connolly and Eamonn Martin also had a secret group or faction. Seamus McGowan told Murphy to join it to spy on it. Roddy Connolly wrote to him telling him to leave the secret group or be expelled. McGowan told him to appear to leave it but to carry on clandestinely. Yet to this day he doesn’t know what the group was all about. Certainly Roddy later expelled Nora from the party! All his effort to ascertain the purpose of the group have failed and neither Nora nor Roddy will talk about it.
I found the daughter of Andy Egan – Mrs. Donegan. She told me her father was in Ballybough House. Strangely enough he was the person I met outside to ask directions of. He is 89, within two months of 90. But he did not take the rifles to Derry. He told me much about the bringing in of arms at the North Wall and thinks that the “seafaring man of Synnott Place” of Woods’s papers, is the Kavanagh of Dr Paddy Daly’s.
In the evening I went up to Bulfin Rd. to try to trace Charlie Strickland, but it was dark so I gave up.
September 26 Tuesday: Again I had lunch with Tony Coughlan. A letter came from the manufacturing chemists Boileau & Boyd saying to my surprise, since I had made a sheer guess and fired a shot at a venture, that they were almost certainly the people who supplied Mellows with chemicals in 1922. I began to dare to hope to be able to uncover some solid facts about the Purchases Department.
I went in to see Teehan at the National Museum. Snoddy is in London. But I got what I wanted from him – another look at the 1922 Notebook of which I propose to try to make a reconstruction which will ascertain the order of sheets torn off, and so on.
I spent all afternoon with Frank Robbins. When I first met him years ago he would always greet me with “How’s the ould Communist Party?” Then he stopped. A phonecall from John de Courcy Ireland said there was a “frightful row” at the committee of the Maritime Institute because he had written in the Democrat and I was the villain. “I’ve spent all my life,” said one worthy gentleman, “combatting the devilish doctrines of that man!” “He hasn’t been very successful,” I commented. Now my guess is that Robbins was there. He works for Irish Shipping. He is in my estimation an emotional character, without intellectual integrity but able to follow individuals who look after him. Thus he passionately admires Devoy and says that he went under his own steam to America to get the Devoy papers, and himself donated them to the National Library. But this cannot be true as I was myself told in the National Library that they could not be consulted without Bill O’Brien’s permission. Who then calls the tune? He admires O’Brien as fanatically. Larkin never did any good at any time in his life. Mellows, Nora Connolly and others were always being mistaken in small things. He says Mellows got his wife to promise to try and persuade her to leave the Irish Citizens Army and join the Volunteers. “So now where’s the Socialism?” he asks. But according to Margaret Skinnider the ICA [Irish Citizens Army] had no use for him, since he went Free State. He has there all Mellows’s books that were left at Kirwan’s, but according to him Mellows took away his books in ones and twos before leaving Kirwan’s. He says Mellows left in 1919 (he was not there himself then) but I made a list of some of the books, together with dates, and all are dated either 1917 or 1918 – in conformity with what he told me before that Mellows left Kirwan’s in August 1918. As a result of spending all afternoon there I could do no shopping and missed Cathal at Finglas. I had to take a taxi to the boat. But I had a most useful afternoon, and he invited me to meet his wife, who may have some of the later period’s recollections.
Two things I must record though they happened yesterday. I saw Jim Fitzgerald about my idea of running a play-writing competition in conjunction with the Connolly Centenary [ie. the centenary of James Connolly’s birth the following year,1968] and he thought it would be quite practicable. It also occurred to me to have a poem and a ballad and a political essay. He thought this the real way to run a commemoration. He promised to send me some model notes. The other is about Mrs Donegan, the old man’s daughter. She was describing the wildness of her father as a younger man and concluded, “Not a greater character would you see under the canopy of heaven.” So O’Casey’s proletariat is not quite dead.
September 27 Wednesday (London): I returned to London, without doing much to clear things up but leaving them in order. There was a reasonable amount of copy in the office and I do not think it is going to be too difficult to get out a paper in the short time. But sales are not good. Sellers are few. Holidays have disrupted things and with all his many virtues the routinism of Sean Redmond shows itself – the spark of imagination that will make people act is missing. But to have anybody at all, I suppose, is something. His talents for keeping it going are mercifully able to balance his inability to expand it. They had a “working party” tonight. The attendance was not good. Pat Hensey promised to come but did not. There was no Charlie Cunningham or Peter Mulligan – these would have good reasons. And Toni Curran told me that Dorothy Deighan is getting so awkward and cross-grained that one almost suspects mental illness.
September 28 Thursday: I worked on the paper. In the morning I saw Iris Wilkins in Central Books [ie. the leftwing bookshop in Holborn, London] for a few moments. She told me that Ully Harris, who looks after periodicals, has been taken ill with violent abdominal pains and removed to hospital. About the time I came to Bloomsbury she and Ron Harris, a scientist, used to inhabit a top-floor flat, which they called the “crow’s nest”, though afterwards they moved to Handel St. Disdaining the “bourgeois institution of marriage” they lived in what is usually known as “sin” for over twenty years. Earlier this year, or possibly last, he ran off with another woman – a thing men often seem to do in the late forties before age has quite got them, and they want to prove their youth. No doubt the emotional upset affected her hormone balance and it is to be hoped that whatever it is has been caught soon enough.
I heard that the position in Manchester is that the Guardian have been prevented from proceeding with erecting the boulder and plaque by the Evening News. They now want to give Tom Redmond another site which involves knocking down a wall. Apparently planning permission is required for this. Can this be got in time? The Guardian told Tom how to find the man who would give it easily. But meanwhile all is in abeyance and Michael Crowe told me on the phone that the Editor of the Evening News is a friend of the Chief Constable who wants a memorial to Sergeant Brett [the policeman who was killed during the Manchester Martyrs incident]. A letter was received at the Manchester office threatening that if the monument was erected there were those who would provide as much gelignite as would blow it back to Wicklow where it came from. And to add to that the branch office was burgled! Michael Crowe tells me that the Manchester branch is almost defunct, that Platt Fields meetings are no more, and that Tom proceeds on his publicity trail without telling him the slightest thing – he fears he will be restrained. I spoke to Aine Redmond over the phone and suggested Tom might come to the Standing Committee on Sunday, but I don’t think he will.
September 29 Friday: I spoke to Alan Morton on the phone and he promised to call in on Tuesday. From Aine Redmond I learned that Tom had written. He was not coming on Sunday but wants Sean Redmond to go to Manchester. Sean is going to the Labour Party Conference on Monday, will go to Ripley on Wednesday and to York (where he has a meeting with the Young Socialists) that night. He will stay with the gypsy [Desmond Greaves’s name for one of the Redmond sisters], whom (by the way) I ran across in Dublin last week. Now he will have to go to Manchester on the Thursday. I imagine Tom thinks he can pull the wool across his brother’s eyes, whereas to answer awkward questions from the Standing Committee would be a different matter. All the same I have a good mind to go there myself. “Why isn’t there more control from the Centre?” asked John McClelland on the phone. “To see Tom negotiating with Dooley was pitiful. Instead of writing to him and giving him an order for a plaque sized so-and-so, he let Dooley talk him into giving him forty feet.” I dare say this exaggerated memorial, which the Guardian had to prevent, was the beginning of their coolness towards the whole project. They may have got the impression that Tom was incapable of carrying it through.
September 30 Saturday: We were preparing for the “opening” of the premises today. I understand that Charlie Cunningham has taken a scunder and we are not likely to see him for a bit. But Peter Mulligan was there and Jim Kelly, Sean Redmond, Dorothy Deighan and the rest. Vivien Jackson [daughter of TA Jackson] came in to discuss the History of Ireland. She told me that Stella [a second sister] is moving to Bedford to “share a flat” with Ewart Milne. Even though in his latest poem he swore his wife was “the only woman in his life”, Stella allowed it to be published from her address! The move enabled Vivien to rescue some of TA Jackson’s unpublished MSS, one of which is a history of the American Civil War called “John Brown’s Body”. Maurice Cornforth has taken it and may publish it. I recall Jackson talking over drink about Stonewall Jackson – years ago – coming from Carrickfergus. He must have been studying American history.
October 1 Sunday: We held the Standing Committee in the morning. I went there early, arranged the “Board” table and put papers there, including Toni Curran’s appalling financial report. It is clear that I paid Sean Redmond a compliment when I said he could keep things going. I judged from what I heard that the opinion was widespread that he did not put a proper drive into things. He does his work but does not bring out in other people anything but what drips out. So I asked him if he was satisfied that we were getting all we might from our existing forces. Of course, he replied. I pointed out the collapse of sales. “Every member was asked.” I wondered how energetically. I recalled that when I asked, “What about sales this weekend?” I heard no figure, but mainly, “There’ll not be many out this weekend.” I said no more. I was not asked myself. “If you’d told me, I’d have got you a partner” – so there were some unused. Joe Deighan said he likewise was waiting to be asked. Sean then lost his temper and blustered, while the two of us kept calm and smiled. “You’re putting me on the spot,” he shouted, “this is damnable. I’ve a bit too much experience to stand that,” and so on and on. But then Pat Bond (whose sharing my opinion was the sign I took for the possibility of raising the thing) said much the same, and all save the General Secretary were of the view that more drive could be applied. I think Sean may possibly think things over and correct the weakness, but I am not sure. He was very rude to Toni Curran yesterday, leaving her without an apology when Tony Smythe walked in. Perhaps he has mingled with members of Parliament too young. Gerry Curran’s view is that he has a shocking swelled head, which I think is true. But now that the members are not prepared to give him the benefit of youth any longer, a counter-pressure may be exerted which may improve him, and them as well.
I was in touch with Michael Crowe in Manchester and also John McClelland in Liverpool. I asked them to get Tom Redmond to ring Sean this morning. It is a great addition having Pat Bond on the Committee. He saw at once the nonsensical position Tom has created for us – wrecking the branch in the process. So Sean decided to call there on Thursday on his way back from Scarborough. In the evening we had the “Weihe des hauses“[Consecration of the House, title of an 1822 work by Beethoven] with wine and cheese, and we presented Sean Redmond with a book signed by all present to commemorate the occasion. Those present included Colm Power, Des Logan, Gerrry Curran, Pat Bond, Elsie O’Dowling, Ben Owens, Pat Devine, Peter Mulligan, Bobby Heatley, who gets married tomorrow, Barbara Haq, Jim Kelly, who acted as barman, and Eamon MacLaughlin. The last started praising us, and slowly the praise became a lament. “The Irish in Britain don’t deserve an organisation like the Connolly Association.” “Tt.Tt.,” I said, “Such is the style of speech of every extinct revolutionary who blames those he has given up trying to help emancipate themselves.” He said nothing, was not the slightest offended, and went on pouring drink into himself. Rusca was there [Jack Rusca, a leading trade union figure].
October 2 Monday: I saw Sean Redmond in the morning. It would be hard to say he was chastened. It will take more than that. I had suggested that he take pamphlets to Scarborough [for the Labour Party conference]. I must see if he did. Yesterday I got agreement that Peter Mulligan should be released from Central London to help apply some of the missing drive on the paper. He responded at once and was in twice today, duplicating the financial appeal. The building of a voluntary system to provide driving force will probably be the best solution. This will mean Sean Redmond will be able to concentrate on what he is good at. Of course just at present he is newly married and is flat-hunting. There is an excuse for a lack of drive. But he should not deny that the reduction has taken place, or we will simply drift downard. The Connolly Association finances are in an equally disastrous state, yet he does not ask the NCCL for his expenses to speak at their meeting at Scarborough!
October 3 Tuesday: In the evening Alan Morton came for a meal. The two boys are away now. John hopes to have a research post at Nottingham. David is in hospital. The girl is still at home. Alan told me of something I had missed, namely that A. MacPherson is dead – about two months ago. He was surely not more than 47. I think he came up to Liverpool the year after I left, say 1936-7. If he was 18 then, then he could not more than 49 now. It is strange. I can not easily recall the period I first became friendly with him. He took the chair at a meeting in the Picton Hall in about 1943 when “The Dawn“[an early Irish political film which the Connolly Association had a copy of] was shown. It must have been in 1945 that CEG was in the Philharmonic Society and Malcolm Sergeant invited us all to remain after an afternoon concert and see a film of Toscanini. I think Freda [ie. Mrs Morton] was there, so presumably Alan was. That would be the time Freda got to know Phyllis. I remember visiting the MacPherson house in Wallasey. Then he was in London with tuberculosis. It must have been over the Hungarian business that he left our movement. I wrote to him when his wife died but had no reply. Alan did the same and got none either. His trouble was too much dabbling in psychoanalysis. His obituary was in The Times.
October 4 Wednesday: I did some work on the book, made a trip to Colindale and also prepared some of the Labour Monthly article.
October 5 Thursday (Liverpool): I wondered whether to go to Liverpool and take a cheap return to Manchester, whither Sean Redmond is also bound after his meeting with the Young Socialists in York. I decided, unfortunately as it happened, to spend the extra money and go direct. At Bletchley the train stopped. It was announced that the one ahead had broken down and we reached Manchester not at 8 pm. but at 9 pm. The meeting was 8.30 at Tom Redmond’s flat. I jumped into a taxi and arrived at 9.20 – intending to leave for the 10.30 to Liverpool. The meeting was in progress. Tom Redmond, Aine, Michael Crowe and Sean – and in addition I was relieved to see two bald heads, Harry Allen and another. But the wee Belfast girl was there. It was clear that they were bogged down. Even now Tom Redmond was hoping “it would be all right on the day.” The position is that the Guardian’s tenants will not have it on the original site and the Salford Corporation has decided that planning permission is necessary to get it on the other. The Guardian joint board meets on October 31, the Planning Committee on the 1st November, and the full Council next day. Obviously the plan was impracticable. I was in a hurry so I told Tom Redmond that he was in the dirt and I would tell him how to get out of it. He should cancel the stone (he still believes Carroll [John Carroll, leading official of the ITGWU in Dublin] will pay £20 for getting it over though Kader [Kader Asmal, Trinity College law lecturer, who advised the ITGWU on labour law matters at the time] told me he would not). He should postpone the ceremony until the site is available. He should get Dooley to make the plaque at once, and hold a public meeting on November 26 with Rose, Allaun [Paul Rose and Frank Allaun, two Manchester Labour MPs] and Deighan. If planning permission is not given the meeting should campaign for it. If it is, then money should be raised for the stone. But the essential is to get the plaque made. They all agreed to this, the bald heads pressing most strongly, and I got another taxi. At Central Station I found that the 10.30 no longer runs, although it is in the timetable. How determined they are to smash the railways! So I waited for the next and had to take a taxi through the tunnel.
October 6 Friday: I spent most of the day writing an article for Labour Monthly. I heard from John McClelland that his social last night was a powerful success and all seems to be going well. The contrast between Liverpool and Manchester is very marked!
October 7, Saturday: I finished the Labour Monthly article and posted it off to R.Palme Dutt [editor of “Labour Monthly”]. I am not very pleased with it, but I am feeling tired – I cannot throw off the cold I caught in the summer.
October 8 Sunday: I was again tired but did some needed work in the garden where the beans and kohl-rabi have proved a great boon. I have at last got lettuces since I bought netting to keep the birds off. Late at night I suddenly bethought me. I bet Tom Redmond has not written to Dooley about the plaque. He is quite capable of letting that also slip through his fingers. I rang him up. Of course he had not written. He wanted to speak to Dooley. It was no use writing to him. He wasn’t that kind of man. He was an artist. “If you had written,” said I, “he would already know what you want and then you could discuss details later.” Tom felt we could not hold Dooley to something as small as 2ft x l ft. He must be given his head. I told him that we were paying him for the service of making a plaque that suited our purposes. Then Tom wanted speakers from Ireland. “You can’t afford it.” “We’ve got £50.” “You already wrote that down to pay for half of the cost of the plaque.” It struck me afterwards that they may not have £50 – this may be the money the Manchester Guardian was to advance them and which they may never see! I persuaded him to take John McClelland to see Dooley with him and rang John to inform him of the cloud-cuckooland that Tom is inhabiting and ask him to supervise.
October 9 Monday: I made some shelves, wrote letters to Seifert, Sean Redmond, Norman Thomas and Alan Bush, got batteries for the tape recorder – and so on.
October 10 Tuesday (Salop)[Salop, an old name for Shropshire]: I decided to go away for a brief holiday. I have not had one that is worth calling one for years. Last year I was too unsettled and went from place to place without enjoying it. On the other hand I didn’t feel like going, but remembered Phyllis’s dictum that that is the very time one should go. And I will certainly never finish this damned book till I get another lease of physical energy. I cycled to Chester and took the train to Salop. On the way I read of the death of Bernard Flood. It must have been in or around 1934-5 I met him, probably 1935. He was one of the leaders of the student group in Oxford, along with Francois Lafitte, and others I forget. He may have been at the Sheffield Anti-War Congress, I doubt it. He was tall and very fair, very English as I thought, though apparently he is of Irish extraction, one is told. They all said he was a banker’s son because after leaving college he appeared so immaculately got up with pinstripe suit and rolled umbrella that the students could not understand such sudden affluence. This has been a week for deaths – Sargent [Sir Malcolm Sargent, English composer], and Norman Angell [Sir Norman Angell, English peace activist and Labour MP, author of “The Great Illusion”] as well. We regarded him as quite a hero in our youth. I never spoke to him, but remember almost bumping in to him on the stairs of the Students’ Union and being surprised that so eminent a man was so small in stature. He wore heavy fur collars, to show he was a baronet, I thought – more likely to offset the small size. Then we were disappointed in the generality of the talk he gave. André Maurois I did not regard seriously, but I think I heard on the radio that André Malraux had died as well.
When I got to Shrewsbury it had started to rain. But I cycled the 18 1/2 miles to the cottage. I had no cape, having expected a dry day, but I had a nylon anorak so that apart from a few inches of my shorts I was dry – till I reached the gate. After that it was pitched blackness, and fine rain clouding glasses. In daylight I would have taken my shoes off, but couldn’t with the pieces of rock about. So my feet were soaking. And to make it sillier, I had a pair of plimsolls I could have put on at Shrewsbury, but I forgot all about the watercourse that comes down the path when it rains! Things inside were not as damp as I feared, so all was fairly well.
October 11 Wednesday: I felt tired in the morning – still uncertain whether I wanted a holiday or not! This is of course a sign of over-tiredness. However, I went to Snailbeach for provisions and the mood wore off.
The proprietress of the Stiperstones Hotel was not depressed. “What do you think of the “breathalyser”? This is the absurd construction for breath analyser that the Government has coined or adopted. Naturally I was not thinking about it.
“It’s cut our trade to nothing. There were only three in last night. Usually we have fifteen. And they’re only allowed two pints of beer. We can’t keep going on two pints of beer. And they’ll fine them £100 or four months in jail. I’m told that every taxi in London has been booked up for Christmas already! Its very hard you know when you work years to build up a little business. We certainly have been cut off at the knees.”
I sympathised of course – I have nothing against publicans except what one has against all retailers, so polite when business is bad, so cocky when it is good. But the thing that is shown is how much boozy driving was going on up to now. I took photographs all round the cottage and from the Nipstone rock.
October 12 Thursday: I thought of leaving today but the weather was delightful and I stayed. The blackberries are still on the bushes. I occasionally see people gathering them – always elderly people. It used to be children. Now I doubt if their parents would know what to do with them. I also found several other crab apple trees. Pugh is the farmer. Obviously he never touches them! I saw him today. He was full of indignation over the breathalyser. “Its a dictatorship!” he declared. “Soon they will be telling you what to eat.” I told him about the Stiperstones Hotel. “Of course! Do you think I am going to get dressed and changed and go into Minsterley for a pint of beer? I am told Welshpool market was empty last week. It used to be one of the most thriving in the West Midlands.” I didn’t like “Westmidlands”! – from a man named Pugh, with the slightly Welsh accent every native of these parts has. Still I let that pass. Did they not want to sell cattle and sheep? “Of course – but who will go under these conditions?” “Well, what will they do?” “What can they do?” The answer is, of course, go under those conditions. But maybe enterprising buyers will go round and collect the cattle.
I found a grocery van which I stopped near Minsterley. This was “owned” by Owen, “Central Grocer” of Snailbeach. The van was labelled “Mace” – the vast monopolies are in every tiny village. But the selection was poor. Potatoes only in six lb. packets. No scales on board – he might cheat the monopolists. The principle of the monopoly is take it or leave it. There were curry packages brightly decorated – but no curry powder that you could use yourself. It would prevent your buying the monopolists’ product. There were tins of meat, mostly with sodium glutomate (meaning the taste is deficient) or sodium nitrite (meaning the colour is deficient; probably it began its culinary life as sodium nitrate despite the law in some countries.) The frozen food section was an army hay box, with a packet of brine freezing mixture above and below. I was interested that he did not use dry ice. But that might have to come from Wolverhampton or Birmingham. Still, I was glad of frozen chops and chicken – as no doubt I was intended to be. He had bottles of milk. Everywhere around are churns on the side of the road. The farmers send in every drop and buy their own milk in bottles twice a week – or for some part they do. I tried to get milk at a farm yesterday and failed. And then the country children – some I dare say are children of “incomers”, outer-belt Shrewsbury workers, possibly having once been on the land. Contrast them with those in Ireland! Boys of eleven in elegantly tapered long trousers and collars and ties. Not all of course – some parents apparently have the sense to provide jeans which, if inelegant, do at least allow the children to run wild. There is a local school. I did not see the juvenile fops in the playground, I admit. So perhaps the outer-belt suburban is right.
Incidentally the man who had the grocery van set me thinking. I said, pointing west, “That, I take it, is Corndon Hill.” “Yes,” said he, obviously pleased “That’s Corndon.” Aha, said I to myself. The locals do not use the word hill. I set about finding Corndon on the Ordnance survey map. There was none near the hill. So this is Corn-dun, the horn of the fort. But the map shows no camp, only cairns. I must go and look at it some time. When I came here the first time I was puzzled. Phyllis had left an account of the cottage, very well written and showing she might have made a novelist (she always said she wanted to be a journalist, but bad luck prevented her until she had become interested in security) and told of “Granny Ferrier”. Pugh spoke of Granny Smith – presumably it was she who died before Phyllis got the cottage. In the account Granny Ferrier is described as looking over to Moel y golfa. I could not understand why Smith was changed to Ferrier, which is not Welsh, if Corndon Hill (which dominates the scene) was changed to Moel y Golfa which is the highest point in the range. This I could not see and thought was invisible. But today it was clear, and I could see that it is visible. But it has no appearance from this height. So again I wonder at its significance. The whole range of the Berwyns was visible tonight, from their beginning at Chirk, to Moel Fferna, Cadair Berwyn, Moel Sych, Aran Fawddwy and finally Cader Idris! A remarkable sight. I take it that what Mrs Stewart regards as Snowdon is in fact Cader Idris! No English person every saw a high mountain in Wales without presuming it was Snowdon. Away to the left again is a lower but still high point, which I take to be Penlimon, but am surprised at its steep sides – it is like a dome.
October 13 Friday: The “can of paraffin” upstairs of Mrs Stewart’s note turned out to be alcohol. So I cycled to Minsterley and bought a gallon of paraffin. Then the tin began to leak. I bought a plastic one and arranged for five gallons to be sent up on Monday week and left with Mrs Pugh. Then I saw the coal merchant. He also delivers on Monday week. I told them I would be here. I got the tilly lamp working – it had been leaking – and opened the Daily Express. And who was on it but my bold Tomaisin! The story was that Dooley was doing the Manchester Memorial for nothing. As a result all the plans had been changed. The memorial would consist of a six-ton rock of granite (so it has put on another ton!) and three ten-foot “shields”. Dooley had been “doing a lot of researching in libraries to find out what the ancient Irish shields looked like” and apparently had found out, only to decide that he might “take liberties with the design.” He was going to cut them to shape from a ship’s plate which he found in a Liverpool scrap yard. But the boulder could not be landed because of the Liverpool dock strike. But, said Tom Redmond, “We will definitely be unveiling the shields on the Sunday before or after November 23.” But where? Ah, said the Express, that is snag No. 2. Salford had vetoed their being erected at any site in the City. “But,” said the irrepressible Tomaisin, “we have several alternative sites in the Manchester area!” So there it is. I wasted my breath, and the committee their time. His lordship does what Dooley tells him – it is clear that he is completely under the influence of this man and had only to meet him and have the whole thing torn up. Dooley has got his way by offering to do the “shields” for nothing. The plaque goes to the wall. My guess is that Dooley will charge for his materials, and the Connolly Association will then pay for the ship’s plate that he found in a scrapyard and which he would otherwise have on his hands. My first feeling was angry impatience with this priceless barren spot we have in Manchester. I can quite see that Michael Crowe is right when he says that he knows nothing of the affairs of the branch. Tom Redmond does whatever comes into his head and there is nobody to control him. The bald heads haven’t the energy. Michael Crowe has not the personality. The wee Belfast girl and his Bohemian friends play up to him. I will of course never entrust a serious matter to him again. All that said, I couldn’t help laughing to myself at the whole thing. Perhaps the shields will end up on Ilkley moor bah t’hat [without a hat, from a Yorkshire song], waiting for the dock strike to end!
There seem to be no mushrooms in the field above the cottage now. But on one of the banks by a ditch there are most magnificent specimens of amanita muscaria – how anybody ever mistook these brilliant things for mushrooms and ate them, heaven only knows.
October 14 Saturday: It blew great guns in the night, still from the southwest, and there was heavy rain all day. This was good for the water supplies but bad for the timber supplies. And of course I had to burn timber because apart from a short walk across the fields to see if sticks had blown off the trees, I had to stay indoors. The things that are here are many of them reminiscent. The table is the one that we had in the window of the breakfast room at 124 Mount Road. There is the Russian bowl I got from Toni Curran and gave Phyllis. There is a green and gold chair AEG had in the front room, and the old lamp I bought in Holborn when the lights failed at 374 Grays Inn Raod and then gave to Phyllis. Other furniture is from Mary Greaves’s and I think most of the crockery is from there. A “fireside chair” is one AEG got for 124 Mount Road. But most notable of all and typical of Phyllis is the great variety of gadgets and small accessories.
October 15 Sunday: Today was showery and cold, with a strong wind. I decided not to go to Nant Dernol. The intervals between the showers were too short. At about 4 pm. the showers ceased – just when if they were conventional they should not. The sun came out. I walked beyond “The Rock” and went on the hill north of the Nipstone rock, finding a sizeable bog from which I intend (on the quiet) to nip some turf before the forestry plant all over it. There was a green patch where an old dwelling had been, still an old apple tree, but the walls only a foot high. I then saw in the south what I took to be a warm front – the explanation for which the cessation of the showers had led me already to anticipate. I also decided not go to Clun (the alternative) but gathered firewood on the hills and stayed the night again. By 6 pm. it had clouded over and by 8 pm. it was raining again, thus making the hundred odd yards to the road more like a quagmire than ever. I spotted some other old things – soup dishes AEG had, a bedspread which I am sure she knitted and the old kettle we had for the coal range before we came to 124 Mount Road in 1931 – it must be 40 years old!
I have enjoyed being here, despite the two or three very bad days. But the snag is that I am too frequently reminded of responsibilities. So, if the weather is fine tomorrow, maybe I should go to Dernol. There I do not have to order coal, secure delivery of paraffin, make sure there is firewood till the coal comes, and worry my head about water mains. I am satisfied however that the cottage is worth keeping and could be a great asset.
October 16 Monday: It would be an undeserved compliment to say that the weather today was abominable. I was not five yards outside the cottage all day. At 9 am. I looked out on a gloomy overcast sky with zeppelin-shaped fracto-stratus floating slowly over the rock. Then rain began. The cloudbase descended below the summit of Corndon, then blotted it out. Then the Stiperstones went the same way, the road, the cottage, and then through occasional clearings one saw the mist at the base of the valley. All the time there was heavy rain and a steady moderate wind from East Southeast. The milk supply gave out. Then the butter. Then the fuel – but for one stake and some boxes. The very day I intended to go! At 8.30 pm. after 16 hours it showed signs of stopping. It was milder, Corndon was visible again and the clouds were hard enough to be seen in the light of the moon somewhere behind them. But it went on – and soon the wind which had veered southwest veered again – and there were torrents and gale out of the northwest. The rain stopped sometime in the night.
October 17 Tuesday: Last night I burned the last stick of timber. Today was cold. I also drank the last milk and ate the last butter, and delved into the emergency stock of tins. And today was showery, the northwest wind still at least half a gale. I availed of the intervals between showers to bring broken heather and furze shrubs down. I also found an old fence on forestry land which had apparently been destroyed in a heather fire. Quite a number of stakes remained, lying rotting in a ditch. So I retrieved these – perhaps just enough fuel for the day. But I also brought some pieces of turf where some machine or other had ripped up the heather, and if it dries I can try it some other time. It was too cold and showery to go to Minsterley. I found the grocer’s van at Penerleyand bought a Daily Express. Then I poured all the paraffin into one lamp and the primus and contrived to do the cooking on the fire. What will happen if tomorrow also is a bad day is uncertain – a cycle trip to Salop in the rain, I suppose.
October 18 Wednesday: It was fine but cold in the morning, but the cirrus was soon coming up out of the southwest. I decided to leave the Stiperstones and cycled over the shoulder of Corndon to Priestweston and Welshpool. There seemed little doubt to me that Corndon would fit the meaning “horn by the camp”, as there seemed to be several earthworks on lower hills and from the Montgomery side the peak is noticeably horn-shaped. I had lunch at Welshpool and cycled on to Gobowen. There was fifty minutes for a train which the station official assured me would stop at Chester. At Chirk I learned it would not. It passed me at Rhosymedre. I cycled on to Wrexham. It was cloudy, but mercifully did not rain. I took a train there – caught it with a 30 seconds’ margin – to Heswall Hills and rode home.
On the phone I learned that Tom Redmond had seen Dooley, agreed to accept the “shields” and then the Salford Conservatives had made a tremendous furore, which put Tom on television again. John McClelland went to Manchester for a meeting with Tom Redmond and Dooley plus Dooley’s wife. They were talking of bringing this sheet of metal and erecting it in the Registrar’s office. “Will the floor stand it?” asked McClelland. The Tories were then threatening that if the monument was erected they would go to the Home Secretary and demand action under the “Race Hatred” Act. The atmosphere was thus a little more favourable to John McClelland’s proposal that Dooley make a plaque and exhibit that, but that a photograph of the “shields” be on view. This was seized on and energetically supported by Dooley’s wife who can imagine her controversial husband “on a gibbet high” before the business is finished. So, unless it has all changed again since Sunday, all is reasonably well.
October 19 Thursday: In the evening John McClelland called up and I heard more details of the Salford affair. Apparently the present position was not reached without Tom Redmond going on television again. There was a letter from Cathal enclosing letters from Pax Whelan and others.
October 20 Friday: I spent some time writing letters, but apart from that it would be hard to say the day was very productive.
October 21 Saturday: Again I wrote letters. I got tinned foods from Lewis’s (Hungarian dishes) to take for the cottage, and in the evening I mended Jean Huck’s typewriter for her.
October 22 Sunday: I found the railways were running again so went to Shrewsbury, loaded with supplies and cycled through Snailbeach to the cottage. There was no fuel and I had intended going to the hostel at Bridges. But the night was dry and mild and I found some more old stakes on the forestry land. This with shrubs of heather and furze eked out.
October 22 Monday: I saw Mrs Pugh in the morning, then Mrs Corbett and her sister on holiday here. Between her house and the cottage is an old lead working. They are everywhere. About midday the paraffin came. I had lugged the 5-gallon drum halfway across the field when the coal wagon hove in sight. I had got the oil to the house and had lugged one sack (28 lbs at a time) to the cottage when the rain began. I had intended to go back to Liverpool today, but I had to wait for it to stop, which it did at 5 pm. I had all the coal down by 6.15. The main obstacle is the water, nearly knee deep in places. I tried climbing carefully along the bank but slipped and got shoes and stockings wet. Then tried bare feet, but part of the path is stoney. Then I did what should have been obvious, wore plimsolls without stockings and let them get as wet as they pleased. By the time the job was done it was too late to think of going to Shrewsbury.
October 24 Tuesday: The weather was excellent today, and I dallied, climbing the hill beside Nipstone Rock and taking photographs. Pugh the farmer came down. I pointed out Cader Idris, but he did not know its name. It was the little hump I thought might be Plynlimon that was alleged to be “the top of Snowdon” – apparently Miss Merry the matron started the story. I think it must be the last of the Berwyns. In the clearer weather from twelve till later I thought I saw the low fat mass of Plynlimon and the Brecknock Beacons.
I was talking about the cottage and the door at the top of the stairs. Pugh told me that originally there were two cottages built by old people for themselves. The husbands worked in the mines and the women stayed on when they died. There was a communicating door on the first floor. The one Granny Smith had was kept in repair, but next door fell to pieces, and that is the origin of all the stone lying in heaps. When did the mines stop? “In 1936.” “Were they worked out?” “Oh no, underneath your house there is lovely stuff. It was the water that beat them, seeing there’s no electricity up here.” “Lead, I suppose?” “No, barytes. There is lead lower down the valley, but its all barytes here.”
Pugh is a peasant type, rare in England. I mentioned the builder who had repaired the cottage for Phyllis. What was his name. “Roswn of Snailbeach?” He spelled it. “Is that a Welsh name?” “Och, halfway to it, I suppose.” I asked about the clump of trees on a hill. “Oh yes – that, a circle of pine trees. You see it from everywhere round here. We call that the callow.”
When I left at about 2 pm. I cycled to Shelve, then up the road towards Pentisoin [? placename unclear] and passed below the Callow, down to Worthen, then to Westbury and Shrewsbury, where I got the train to Rock Ferry. I think on balance I felt better and more able to tackle the big jobs coming.
October 25 Wednesday (London): I went to London somewhat later in the day than I had intended. Sean Redmond had gone to Manchester to help Tom with his commemoration. The Shieldses were showing colour slides at the Central Branch. I told Ted Shields that I had returned his MS to Alan Bush [distinguished British leftwing composer] and suggested that it be revised to fit into the Connolly Centenary next year. His face hardened with hatred at the mention of Bush’s name and I can see that there are storms on that sea coming too.
October 26 Thursday: I was impressed by the shocking state of the paper sales. I asked Peter Mulligan if Sean Redmond had carried out our decision to increase the pressure. He laughed. “Has he made a drive? He has, insofar as he is capable of doing anything different today from what he did yesterday. But it’s all routine.” And indeed he had sent out two identical circulars of extreme wooden-ness. I was on the phone to Michael Crowe only to discover that Sean Redmond had been caught up in the hysteria and was running a campaign to get planning permission for the erection of these shields. I pointed out that this was not what the committee had decided. “But what about Dooley?” “All he can reasonably demand is to be paid for his work.” For Dooley is the scatterbrain who by proposing those gigantic effects brought us the need for planning permission. Sean Redmond thinks the odds are the shields will go into the Salford Art Gallery. Meanwhile the paper sales are down to 600, whereas in Joe Deighan’s day they were 1500. The Redmonds were never able to build a movement. I saw it when they had the old North-West London branch. Tom cannot stick at anything. Sean cannot do anything new. Yet they are very clever boys. They just lack the special flair for building an organisation which depends on collecting cadres like gems. I saw it tonight when Peter Mulligan went to such pains to get hold of some new visitor and take him for a drink with us. Toni Curran was on the phone. She complains of Sean Redmond’s never telling her anything. But then I learned of the way she puts her work on his shoulders to save a journey into town!
October 27 Friday: In the afternoon Sean Redmond came back. He had taken my advice and insisted on our having a breathing space in Manchester as soon as the meeting is over. I managed to extract some information as to the balance of power on the Salford Council, and put it in the paper.
In the evening I was out with Joe Deighan. Relations between us have been not strained but a little cool since I got tired to death of humouring his ego. He can put on more airs and graces than a prima donna. However, he was in great form tonight and I think we might find a role for him in London. That is what he lacks. We spoke of the difficulties in our path. He told me how the Morning Star had not reported the Dublin Vietnam demonstration and he had written complaining. Then he found Dublin between Hull and Halifax in the English list. He thought that Dublin [ie. the Irish Workers Party] was cool towards the Connolly Association largely because it restricted their authority as a centre. They cannot organise the Irish in Britain as they would like. He said that when he went into the shop when on holiday Sean Nolan said to him, “It must be very difficult for you over there now – sentiment counts for nothing these days.” Very cynical, we thought. On the other hand, Betty Sinclair and those in the North, says Joe, are in the British system anyway, and we cannot harm them. So they are closer to us personally, though politically further apart. Such, at any rate, was his opinion.
October 28 Saturday: I went on with the paper and saw Peter Mulligan in the afternoon. We are busy preparing for a big book sale at the end of the month. In the evening I was out with Sean Redmond. He seems to have no idea of the seriousness of the financial position. The paper sales in September and October have not paid the printer’s bill. He can think of nothing to do, and does nothing, not even call an emergency meeting! As for the Connolly Association, his income tax is five months in arrears and insurance stamps months behind – yet I had the hardest job explaining that all would not be lost if we had the Annual Conference in our own premises and save £15 on halls. He seems to be living in a cloud cuckoo land – is this the euphoria of early married life? Or has he some plan in mind to operate if the worst befalls?
I was in touch with Toni Curran and Pat Bond and we decided to transfer £250 from reserve to the current account. Pat Bond will try to replace it in April. I told Sean Redmond this and he did not even appear interested. I took steps to see that the coming Standing Committee meeting is made into an emergency meeting.
October 29 Sunday (Liverpool): I finished the paper in the morning. Joe Deighan and Dorothy went to the Park, but I fear they were drenched in the torrential downpour. I went to Manchester and saw Tom Redmond, learned much that Sean had kept to himself, and noted how the branch continues to decline as Tom continues to go on television. They have not had Platt Fields meetings for two years (a year ago Tom, a terrible bluffer, told me they had not missed a week!) and have now given up weekly branch meetings. There is no stability in this young fellow, and I think he is bound to fly off at some tangent some time. He has all Sean Redmond’s weaknesses and few of his virtues, but could charm the birds off a tree, which Sean cannot do. I went in to Liverpool better informed and after arranging that an attempt be made to use the Gorton by-election to force the hand of the Salford people. Apparently the Liberals hold the balance of power.
October 30 Monday: I worked on a memorandum for next week’s Standing Committee and posted copies to Sean Redmond, Pat Bond, Joe Deighan and Toni Curran, asking Sean to duplicate it. In the process of thinking over the facts as I had managed to ascertain them, after considerable discussion with Pat Bond, Toni Curran, Peter Mulligan and Joe Deighan, I drew the conclusion that the personal difficulties that exist – for example Charlie Cunningham has not been seen for six weeks and Sean Redmond has written to him! – are due to the political situation not being understood. The people are disillusioned with the right wing and have not yet moved to the left. If the move to the left is the next thing on the historical agenda, we should be in the thick of it. As regards the Irish national demand, there is widespread recognition of its justice now, but no movement strong enough to enforce it. I examined various possibilities and came to the unpleasant conclusion that Sean Redmond hasn’t it in him to restore the position of the paper, and that I will have to do it myself, with the aid of volunteers. I had plenty of provocative things in the memo, so it should set them talking.
October 31 Tuesday: A letter came from the Mercier Press saying they were interested in the idea I had put to them of their jointly republishing “Connolly” with Lawrence and Wishart. So I sent their letter to Maurice Cornforth. I had quite a busy day. I wrote to various people, got muslin (at great difficulty, but finally at Beatties) to filter the juice of the crab apples I brought from Salop. I lifted the artichokes despite the muck and rain and washed them. There is quite a pretty crop, I suppose five or so times what I put in. I ate the kohlrabi (there is a little still left) and cut the last of the runner beans. I spoke to John McClelland on the phone. He says Roose Williams did very well at the last meeting and had not answered my letter because he had expected to meet me there. McClelland wants an extra 50 papers, bringing Liverpool up to 400 – very close to what Manchester are doing. It is a far distinctive cry from when Joe Deighan had it and they sold 1500!
November 1 Wednesday (London): In the morning came a letter from J. Roose Williams, entirely agreeing with my proposals for meetings in Wales to commemorate Connolly. I thought he would be anxious to do it. It may give Plaid Cymru a push to the left and make the Labour movement more nationally conscious. This is as good a step forward as any since I came to the conclusion that Wales could not be saved. As a matter of interest Plaid Cymru sent a letter to the Democrat this month. Roose Williams enclosed a paper he had written for the Caernarvonshire historical society.
I went to Ripley in the pouring rain [to supervise the laying out of the monthly paper], and very expensive it was. I missed the first train thanks to the bus “go slow” – no bus arrived at all! I took a taxi for the second. Then being late I had one each way in Derby. Then I came on to London to try to clear up some of the mess and attended the Central London annual meeting. Sean Redmond was not there. He was painting his flat! Those who were there included Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly, Joe Deighan, Dorothy, Pat Hensey, Jane Tate and Elsie O’Dowling. Elsie confirmed that Tom Redmond had sent no guarantor money – in Manchester he told me they were sending Elsie O’Dowling £1 a month. He is the most appalling little liar. After it was over Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly and and I had a drink in the Pinder of Wakefield. The relations between the two boys are amusing. Kelly is all hot-headed rebellion and regards Peter (seven years older) as a father to be liberated from. Peter finds his boyish intensity too reminiscent of his own earlier youth. “D’you remember the first meeting I came to?” he asked. He must have been the most argumentative visitor we ever had.
The memorandum had been duplicated by Sean Redmond, which was good, and I think Joe Deighan had read it. He seems to have kept up his more reasonable mood and Dorothy also is a little sweeter. Tony Coughlan told me she had been attacking me in Dublin last Friday. I tackled Joe about it.
November 2 Thursday: I spent eleven hours in the office. I drafted a form to send out with free copies to ask for annual subscriptions and another appeal for funds and selected the recipients. I prepared the basis for making a list of industrial establishments where we could sell the paper. And I wrote a number of letters to “stimulate” people. Sean Redmond left at 2.30 pm. to paint his flat, or so I presume. He shows just a slight uneasiness now that I am demanding consideration of dramatic changes. I suspect that he is possibly the only one who would not be too pleased (despite its compensations) to have me back in the office here all the time. However, I have told them I am no longer 21 and must divide my time. For the time being I propose a 50/50 basis, here and Liverpool. Last night I stopped the changes which Central London were thinking of, pending the Standing Committee on Sunday. There was a poor attendance. Last night they told me that Charlie Cunningham had declared his intention of having a “three months rest”. I asked Sean Redmond if he knew this. He replied that he did. Why can he not pass this information on? I have asked him dozens of times what was the position with Charlie. I also have in mind to breach the mystery of the absurdly complicated card-index system, which nobody but Sean who has constructed it can use.
November 3 Friday: In the evening I was out with Pat Hensey. Joe Deighan was in a reasonably good mood still but confused as usual on a number of things. Although he had not read Bert Pierce’s article in Marxism Today he was asking where Gollan was going to stand “as a Scot” after the Hamilton election result [Winifred Ewing’s victory in the Hamilton, Lanarkshire, by-election on 2 November 1967 brought the issue of Scottish devolution and independence to the fore in British politics]. I had been busy in the office all day.
November 4 Saturday: I was out with Joe Deighan and Peter Mulligan in the evening and despite threatening rain we did surprisingly well. Everybody knows the price and has the 9d. ready. How are we going to make it 1/-?
November 5 Sunday: The Standing Committee took place in the morning, with Joe Deighan, Sean Redmond, Peter Mulligan, Pat Bond, Toni Curran, Pat Hensey and myself. I found Sean somewhat restless and defensive. But I think they began to get some notion of the seriousness of the position into which the CA was drifting and is liable to continue to drift. I easily got all my proposals agreed to, but as Toni Curran remarked, everybody still remained in his own rut, Joe Deighan the republican, Pat Bond the organiser to whom politics are “given”, Pat Hensey convinced but unable to understand his own convictions, still less express them practically, Peter Mulligan light hearted as becomes his youth. And as Peter remarked when we had a quick drink, “I heard nothing about this month off by Charlie Cunningham. I see him every Tuesday. I think he is just waiting for someone to go down on his knees and beg him to come back. He is very critical of Sean, you know. I think the trouble is that Sean just regards this as a job.” So if it folds up he simply gets another. But of course it is more complex. Laziness is not the word. Lack of drive might be the nearest. When others supply the drive and things go well – there is no trouble. Today he left Pat Hensey leave without arranging sales with him – we were one short. The result was Pat did not turn up. Sean was due to speak in the Park – did not turn up. No arrangement was made for taking the platform. Yet he had specially brought Bobby Heatley down. Will he write and apologise? At every point the easy way out is taken, and around this is built the defence structure – a fierce and instantaneous resentment of the slightest criticism. I never once since I knew him recall his apologising for anything, however mistaken. Yet at the same time he has a job that interests him and he wants on the one hand to preserve it, on the other hand not to make it too hard! Naturally, of course, he cannot fire others with an enthusiasm he does not possess. We decided on two committees, one to organise the Connolly Association, the other the Irish Democrat. I want Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Bond and will try for one or two more. Sean will be able to have Joe Deighan and Pat Hensey.
There were one or two interesting and illuminating remarks. When I said I want to carry out the terms of my arrangement that half of my time is available for writing, and mentioned that I was not any longer 21 and there was no pension here and I have no close relatives, Sean Redmond agreed because, “I think it is a matter of principle that the movement should look after its full-time workers.” Nice to have such good patrons! Bur Joe Deighan thought that if I were to give up writing altogether and devote my time to editing and acting as business manager-cum- circulation-manager of the Democrat, I could double its circulation in two years! “You’ll not miss two years,” he pleaded. We remarked later that he showed little sign of giving up his own well-paid job for two years. And of course what I intend to do is simple commonsense – strike as reasonable a balance as possible, to keep the paper going if possible, but also avoid dying in a ditch myself.
November 6 Monday (Liverpool): I went into the office before 9 am. and remained till just after midday, discussed the new moves with Sean Redmond – necessary because of the shake up yesterday – and I think he will hurry in his slow way. Then I came to Liverpool. Two delays, by engine failure and derailment, were announced while we waited at Euston for the train. Obviously British Railways are skimping on safety to please the Treasury. At 124 Mount Road I found that while I could telephone other people, they cannot telephone me. I spoke to John McClelland and learned that there is a resolution coming up at the AGM of the Irish Centre to debar Connolly Association members from membership – this from two notorious craw thumpers. He thinks that on balance it will be possible to defeat it. I wrote to Sean Redmond pointing out the great importance of his meeting at the end of the month.
November 7 Tuesday: Elsie Greaves called in the morning to take me to the Stiperstones. I asked how she was. “Not good.” And indeed it is not. She found some swelling and had some discomfort at first attributed to colitis. Now after an x-ray there is talk of radiotherapy. She is very depressed. I asked should we be going, and she said she was glad of the outing. But she picked up her domestic assistant on the way. She remained in the car while I took things to the cottage and wrapped the mattresses in the polythene sheet Bobby Rossiter had got me. The roads were swarming with policemen because of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in Chester and Salop, but Pugh said there was none within 18 miles of the Stiperstones. We assured him we had been on no other land.
Back in Shrewsbury we had difficulty finding a car park, and Elsie had great difficulty getting up the slightest hill. She coughs all the time, and her heart is in a poor state. While she was away a minute I commented on this to Dora. “She seems to be running steadily down hill. She has lost a terrible lot of weight.” So it is the old enemy again. It was strange; when I got back I felt I wanted to tell Phyllis about it! This is the time of life when the sky darkens.
There was a letter from Cathal about my going to Dublin yesterday. I rang 74 Finglas Park and spoke to his father. I wrote to Enid Greaves [a first cousin] about Elsie.
November 8 Wednesday: I started a systematic writing of letters to people in order to try and get the number of people to be called on down to a minimum.
November 9 Thursday: I decided not to go to Dublin tonight because I have a cold, and carried on with the writing.
November 10 Friday: I went into the city to buy some things and was caught in the Birkenhead bus strike when loaded with things. I went back into the Underground. “Ha! ha! They have to turn to the ould railway!” said the ticket collector when the crowds trooped in!
November 11 Saturday: I continued the writing of letters. In many cases the letter required elaborate research.
November 12 Sunday: I spoke to Cathal for a minute on the phone. He may move on December 4th[to his new house in Rathmines]. I had the bright idea of writing to the Board of Trade about Hoare, who is said to have engaged Liam Mellows in a crew in 1916.
November 13 Monday: At last a second dry day. I was able to clear up a little in the garden. A card came from Mrs Stewart thanking me for some carrageen I had sent her. In the evening John McClelland called. We discussed the decision of the Committee of the Liverpool Irish Centre to try and debar CA members of membership of the Centre. He suspects that the Manchester Martyrs people, belonging to the same generation and living in the past, grew jealous of Tom Redmond’s publicity and have stirred up Liverpool to put a sprag in our wheel. The Catholic Pictorial editor is dealing with it and is opposed to it.
November 14 Tuesday: A letter came from Maire Comerford suggesting that Annie Minihan of New Ross might be the woman I am trying to trace. I had already seen the name in the supplement to the Irish phone book. So I wrote to her. She also gave names in Wexford from which I might trace the Kirwans. I had a better day in every way. Mr Greenwood – Superintendent Greenwood – of the Board of Trade said on the phone that he had traced Captain Hoare of the Merchant Navy, spoken to Captain Curry and traced a great friend of Captain Hoare’s, Captain Hobbs, who had been down country but had returned to Liverpool. And in Jacqueline van Voris’s book I found that the Maloney papers are in New York, and that JJ Hearn of Westfield, Mass., has a daughter living.
I spoke to Mrs Mackey on the phone. She told me that Mrs Tom Clarke is now living in Liverpool with her son, who is a doctor in Rainhill. She claims to be a close associate of the Countess Markievicz and says Mrs van Voris’s book is “more false than any of them”. She says that two years ago the grandson of Constance’s brother Josslyn came to see her and she gave him all the information she had about the Countess, and what did he do but give it to this woman who couldn’t possibly do a good job . . . But all this is nonsense for the book bears good evidence of the fifteen years of research behind it. She said she does not think much of the Connolly Association or some of the people in it. And look what they did to Connolly (making him a socialist!). Was I in it? I told her I was. Strange that I introduced myself as Editor of the Democratand these people are so remote that they don’t know. She said there was an Irish Club being established at Preston. But they were “only immigrants”. It was not like Liverpool where there was a national history. I spoke to John McClelland later and told him about this. He said, “Perhaps the Liverpool Club is socially somewhat more edifying too.”
November 15 Wednesday: In the afternoon I went to the Picton Library to look up the Detroit telephone book and try to find Catherine Golden. She was mentioned in a letter I had from Harbotttle’s daughter some years ago. It began to pour rain. There was still the bus strike. I got to Central Station but had to shelter there an hour, drinking small beer. Then I got to the Library – a rather casual uncooperative place compared with those in London or Dublin – and found only a Katherine. But I wrote. A letter came from Cathal.
November 16 Thursday: A letter came from Ben Briscoe TD giving the information that Mellows’s “night binoculars” had been presented to him by Bob Briscoe and he could not therefore have got them in Germany himself. He thought Mellows was never in Germany. I think this is fairly conclusive. For Eamon Martin knows nothing about it and he and Roddy Connolly used to get the passports forged. I wrote to Ben Briscoe and also to Ruairi Brugha asking about Peter MacSwiney. I am making a frontal attack on the questions that have for so long held me up!
November 17 Friday: I spent another quite fruitful day on the book, and indeed this past spell has been about the best since things went so well in 1965.
November 18 Saturday (London): Before leaving for London still no buses – I rang Elsie Greaves and heard that she had been taken to Clatterbridge and had had an operation for gallstones. The pathologist’s report was not back yet. So they do not know the position. I must ring again. At Central (low level) I met Miss Stothard, looking as cheery and healthy and on-top-of-the-world as ever. At London I found Sean Redmond had already gone to Glasgow. Sales were as bad as ever. Sean had been lamenting to Toni Curran that “all the brains” were on the DemocratCommittee and all he had left were Joe Deighan and Pat Hensey! Actually, I never expected the CA committee to to anything, and I swiped the people who might save the whole situation. The only decision of November 1st to be put into operation had been that the files and card indexes had been tidied up! No Willesden. No groups. And Pat Hensey busy talking about reviving West London in Eamonn MacLaughlin’s flat. I was out with Joe Deighan and think his trouble may be political. He says he is very disillusioned with the CPGB, which he says talks anti-imperialist and acts imperialist. But I told him he grossly oversimplified. The problem is what anti-imperialist action is required.
November 19 Sunday: They were going to cancel the Hyde Park meeting because of the cold. But I persuaded them to have it. I spoke myself with Joe Deighan, and Jim Kelly opened. Peter Mulligan was there. Then in the evening I was out with Peter. In Hyde Park the unstable Mr Denis McCarthy was selling “Chairman Mao badges”!
November 20 Monday: I worked on the paper in the morning, after a brief visit to Idris Cox. He is a queer character. He had written asking me to help him over some resolution. I was away so he rang Sean Redmond. I went down to no purpose today, but there was not the briefest or most conventional form of thanks. Woddis was there too. He has acquired a new bustle since he took R. Palme Dutt’s job, but at times it is hard to distinguish it from being full of himself. I met Nora Jeffrey in the corridor – how she contrives to continue to look so fresh at the same age as myself, I do not know!
We had the Business Management Committee in the evening – Peter Mulligan, Pat Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly and myself. I think on the whole it began to turn things the right way.
November 21 Tuesday: To my surprise Sean Redmond appeared in the morning, though I had already feared he would waste money coming back to London. He said he travelled on Sunday night and had to have a day working on his flat. He went back to Manchester in the afternoon. I spoke to Toni Curran later. She said that the Shields had withdrawn their financial support to the CA after a disagreement with Sean Redmond. What about? He had been replying to letters addressed to them. The same happened to Toni Curran. And the two had compared notes and found he always replied to the letters of people who were important but left the unimportant people alone. Now that is just what he has been doing on me! And to make matters worse he leaves no carbons so that you don’t know what he has said. There is no doubt now about the widespread dissatisfaction that exists. It is not intense, as the situation is irritating rather than annoying. But his carelessness as to the fate of paper and premises might indicate that his sights are set elsewhere – or it might just be a head too big for its hat! I decided I would fix the little correspondence issue. Yet it is hard to say. In a more critical atmosphere he might look to his laurels.
November 22 Wednesday: I worked on the paper all day. The branch meeting was held in the evening. It was not very well attended, and Joe Deighan was talking as if everything was a labour to him. But the young people were not depressed, nor Jane Tate.
November 23 Thursday: I find I have raised about £120 for the paper since I sent out the emergency circular at the beginning of November. But we still have not our tenants [ie. in the new premises at 283 Grays Inn Rd.] and are losing £50 a month in rent. The landlord is in America. In the evening I went to South London. It was very well attended, with Pat Bond, Bobby Rossiter and many others. Bond is the solidest of the lot.
November 24 Friday: I did some work on the paper and then met Ben Owens at Central Books. We had lunch. Then he came to the office to buy Xmas cards and sat talking over his past life. He is seventy-nine but feels better than he did. He is from Castlewellan, which I knew well when we used to go to Newcastle. At sixteen he emigrated to Motherwell where an uncle was in the steelworks and got him a job. His first recollection of rebellious feelings was when he was prevented from going in to work through the man at the gate putting up the barrier while he was still waiting in the queue. “Let’s rush the gate!” he shouted. This came to the ears of the uncle, a foreman. “Why did you shout that?” “Because it wasn’t my fault. I was there five minutes early but the gateman wouldn’t let us through quick enough, and I lost a morning’s pay.” “And what would have happened if the others had taken any notice of you?”
Soon after that he was near the outskirts of an SLP meeting. His uncle came from behind and took him away by the ear. “What’s the matter?” “Come to this place of high ground. Now look at that speaker. Can’t you see the devil sitting on his shoulder.” The boy could not but judged it wise to say nothing.
Seemingly he remained there till war broke out, and that is how he met Pat Devine, who is only 69! He was determined not to join the army but had no intention of going into prison. So he bought a carpet bag and travelled from market to market – Dundee, Glasgow, everywhere. Naturally those on the same game were many of them criminals, and some rather resented his determination only to stay at good hotels. It was then that he resolved never again to work for a boss. His two great political mentors were JR Campbell and William Paul. He heard the latter say that if given the choice of being a worker or an employer he would be an employer. There was some dissent at this, but Owens was not part of it.
In London he worked with the unemployed movement in Camberwell. The police got him a job in Greenwich to get him out of it. He got out of it himself when the money he had accumulated from previous ventures began to run out.
As we passed 53 Grays Inn Road he said, “There’s where we used to get out the Irish Front” and told of the leftist elements, Prendergast, McInerney to the fore among them, who moved his expulsion when he urged printing “Irish Freedom” elsewhere than at the Daily Worker. “I found the place at Ripley,” he said. “If I didn’t do that I was out.” Incidentally he told how Peter Kerrigan as good as kicked him out of his office when he went for support for the paper. “Connolly Club? Its a ‘band.’” Campbell also held this view. And of course Pollitt hated it, except during the war!
Opposite the office is Britannia St. “That was where Unity Theatre was. We held our first big meeting there. Roddy Connolly was there and he attacked it. “This is another of those organisations that will last for five minutes.” Then he was sorry, for some people tackled him. It was a hive of activity round here. I used to open up my cafe at twelve o’clock for them when they came away.” His cafe is now an Indian restaurant, his funfair two doors away the “Commercial” office supplies shop. He housed the Connolly Association there for five months, and then the explosion at King’s Cross station made things very difficult [This was an IRA incident, that body having “declared war” on Britain at the start of World War 2]. One night his window was daubed with Swastikas from top to bottom. The police gave him little comfort. What could he expect when all these Irishmen were hanging round. No other café proprietor had suffered.
His partner was a man called Harry King who had in some way been wished upon him. Most partnerships are criminal, he remarked in parentheses. One day a young boy brought some small geegaws which were such as he would “put in the crane”. He asked where he got them. He won them for a penny in some other fun fair. Why have they no scratches on them? He won them first time. He paid him a few shillings. At once a policeman who had been watching the proceedings took the youngster in. Soon afterwards they came back for Ben Owens. And finally Harry King joined them in the lock up. Next morning the magistrate told him to defend himself. He insisted on having an adjournment – and with great difficulty secured it, having to threaten to see Members of Parliament. Before the case was heard he went into hospital with a duodenal ulcer. When three months later the case was heard the boy’s parents had judged it wise to have him plead guilty, and Ben Owens was faced with a difficult situation. King had seen the boy who had promised to “tell the truth this time”. As a result he told the court that he had assured Ben Owens that he had won the trinkets in a funfair. The case was dismissed. But that night the police called and asked for £100.
“We’ve raided Harry King’s and found stolen goods there – a lot of them from your funfair”.
“Why didn’t you say that in court today?” “Well, we thought that neither you nor Mr King are badly off, and after all our pay is not too good.”
Ben Owens told them to go to hell – which I believe he would, rather then pay them money – and presumably consigned King to the same destination. Soon he had to leave, however. Things got too hot when the police were against him. Harry Pollitt’s son has opened a restaurant a few doors away on Grays Inn Road and took over his advert on the Unity Theatre programme.
But towards the end he received a visit from a plainclothes man, who asked him to listen to the conversation of the Irishmen who frequented his café and meet him in a restaurant in a week. At that time people professing to be the IRA were ringing up every evening saying that he would get a bomb himself if the next issue of the paper didn’t support the bombings. He met the detective in the restaurant. He was delighted to see him and pulled out a chair. “Well, what did you find out?” “Nothing”. “Oh no. Surely you got something.” “Well,” says Owens, “I’ll be frank. Every night the IRA are on the phone telling me that if I don’t do as they say they’ll blow the place up, and I’m more afraid of them than I am of you.” It was soon after this he returned to Belfast.
He told how he went in to the dog business – I imagine some time after the Camberwell period. A man came in to say he could get a greyhound for £8. “Well, why don’t you?” asked Ben Owens. “I haven’t the money.” “Well what d’you want me to do?”. “I want you to put down the £8 for the dog and give me a share in it.” “Very good,” said Ben and off they went to some track where he paid £8 and came back with the dog. It turned out to be a good one. It won several races. Ben’s “partner” like all small dog-owners in the early days of the track drank all his winnings. Ben bought other dogs. In the end he had 36 of which 17 were let at a pound a week each to one track manager. When he went to the track the underlings used to touch their caps and say, “Good day, sir.” He was a big fish in the wee pond.
In Paddington he had strange experiences. One day the police called to say there was a house worth £12,000 going for £6000 if he cared to put the money down. “But mind, we’ll want a corner.” He declined. The police said the owners must get out in a few days. He passed on the particulars to a Labour Councillor whose sister bought it. The police called for their cut. She told them she owed them nothing. They came to Ben Owens. He likewise refused to pay. “They got very nasty,” said Ben. “I had to talk about the Home Secretary.” But a while after this the Inspector called again. “Listen, Mr. Owens,” he said, “we’ve decided you’re not a bad fellow and we’re going to give you another chance. We want you to run your hotel as a gaming house once a week. The people who come will be important people, and you’ll be guaranteed £20 a night.” Again he declined and from then on they approached him no more.
He said he met Prendergast at the TUC. “I’m a new Jim Prendergast,” said that inveterate self-dramatist. “I’ve married a good party woman and she keeps me on the right track.” I looked sceptical. Ben Owens laughed. “I always wondered why a girl like Celia (his first wife) married a scoundrel like Prendergast.” But I found Celia emotional and unstable, though Woddis spoke well of her in the early days. Malachy Grey he never trusted. He was slightly surprised at Sylvie Maitland, pleasantly surprised at Flann Campbell being no worse, and then after the long talk he gave the paper a five pounds donation. I think he greatly enjoyed his trip.
In the evening I was out with Pat Hensey in Holloway.
November 25 Saturday: I finished the paper in the morning. Dorothy Deighan was there, and by evening our book sale had taken about £16 – Peter Mulligan went to Manchester last night to help with the meeting, but Jim Kelly gave a hand. I did more of the circulation work in the evening. It is plain to me that it has been completely neglected. Already I have some small results. If I could let the rooms I would try holding the price at ninepence for another few months. I got a list of possible subscribers from Jim Savage in Cork, and an order for three copies a month from the Irish TGWU [Irish Transport and General Workers Union, Ireland’s largest trade union, whose Executive later commissioned Greaves to write its history].
November 26 Sunday (Liverpool): I spent the morning “clearing my desk” in the office, after which Jane Tate came in. Then I caught the 2 pm. for Manchester. First it went to Northampton, then it went to Birmingham, and finally ran into thick fog at Stockport. “There’s Tomaisin’s meeting ruined,” said I. I managed to get to 2, Princess Road and found Sean Redmond, Tom and Aine, and Peter Mulligan there, with Margaret McClelland and the children. John McClelland’s car, borrowed off the MacPeakes, had broken down at Bolton last night and he had gone to collect it. It had taken him three hours from Liverpool (which is clear) to get here in a borrowed car. All the time Tom Redmond was ringing Dooley. He advised him to drop the idea of coming by road and to catch the train. But as the trains left each time he checked, he found Dooley still at home. Finally he sent Barney Morgan to collect him and take him to Lime Street.
There was some doleful talk about this afternoon’s proceedings [ie. The Manchester Martyrs Commemoration organised by the traditional local Manchester Committee]. After all was over and Jimmy Steele from Belfast [an IRA veteran] had delivered a bomboorish oration in which among other things he attacked the “new departure” of Davitt and Devoy, somebody plucked the chairman by the sleeve and he called Mr Fitzsimons to speak. That gentleman then announced that the Manchester Martyrs Committee had no connection with any other committee purporting to commemorate Allen, Larkin and O’Brien. “We are Catholics first and Irishmen afterward,” said he “and we do not want our freedom given us by Moscow.”
When we got to the Hall it was gradually filling up despite the fog, and I would say about fifty attended [A Connolly Association meeting to launch the Manchester Martyrs commemorative plaque, made by sculptor Arthur Dooley]. But there was no Dooley. Then a phone call came that he would be there soon after eight. Stan Orme, MP for Salford West, spoke. Then the Secretary of the Stockport Trades Council. The two Redmonds talked, they did not speak, saying everything three times in scarcely varied terms. But then time was expended. And I was told Dooley would be there at 9.5 pm. when I got up last. I did not attempt to stretch it out. He was not there at 9.5 or 9.10. We decided to wait and I had a chat with Gately who was in the CA with Joe Deighan when he was building it up. He told me that he accompanied Brian Behan to the boat when he left Ireland to settle in England. “Oh, I was there,” said I, “though I only saw him at Dun Laoire.” I told him about the cock-and-bull story about the berth he had put in his book. What was the point of it? “That it was my duty to support him and if I didn’t I was mean.” Gately then told me an interesting thing. They were on strike and Behan was the leader. Behan was married and his wife working. The single boys on the other hand were hard up. The canteen, run by a contractor, was kept open during the strike and Behan sat beside Gately, who had not even the price of a cup of tea. Behan bought himself a pudding that cost 3d. and Gately thought he would bring him one. Behan ate it and went to the counter again – bringing another, also for himself. This was too much for Gately.
“What about me? ” he asked. “If you’re going to be a revolutionary,” said Behan, gobbling his pudding, “you’ve got to learn to be hard!”
Gately commented to me. “And at that time I looked up to him with such hero-worship that I took it without questioning it.”
I was down at the door when Dooley arrived, and the plaque weighing a hundredweight was hauled up stairs and placed on the back of a chair which promptly broke. I was not favourably impressed by Dooley – too much of the bohemian showman. He stood by his handiwork, unkempt, uncouth, gorilla-like, as the cameras flashed. Would be raise the plaque? “Those cameras are much more manoeuvrable than this is.” Orme introduced himself. “I think I’ve met you in the House?” “Which house?” asked Dooley with duly calculated effect on those listening. As for me I had to sit in a chair and laugh. For the boulder is forgotten. The shields to be made of ships-plating are forgotten about. We have got exactly what I told them to get at our first meeting ever – and Dooley only finished it tonight and that is why he was late!
I noticed another thing. There was no move on the part of Sean Redmond or Tom to introduce myself or Peter Mulligan to Dooley. Not of course that would make any difference if I had wanted to meet him. I have already resolved to have nothing more to do with him without compelling reasons – and never to rely on Tom Redmond’s judgment on anything of the smallest importance! But it was good hear Sean Redmond’s valedictory remarks. In closing the meeting he said that all the speakers had spoken very well and had expressed themselves simply and to the point. How the head expands!
Then of course it was necessary to get to Liverpool. John McClelland came back in the McPeakes’ car and we set out slowly through the fog. After Haydock however it suddenly cleared and since the Liverpool half of the East Lancashire road is lighted, we managed the journey in about two hours. The Birkenhead bus strike is still on but John McClelland dropped me off at 124 Mount Road.
There I found a mass of interesting correspondence – from Frank Mitchell (of TCD), Anna Minihan of New Ross (not the one I am seeking, but a big Fianna Fail person), Peadar O’Donnell, Captain Hobbes’s son, Greenwood of the Board of Trade, Pax Whelan, Kerry County Library, the Public Library of Falmouth, Dr Ben McCarthy of Johnstown, Co. Kilkenny, and Jacqueline Van Voris, who has just written the life of Countess Markiewicz.
November 27 Monday: I must have spent most of the day answering letters that awaited me and following up the questions raised.
November 28 Tuesday: Again I spent a rather frustrating day. I went to Derby – where there was a ‘bus “go slow”, did the paper and then was delayed at Crewe. On the whole very tiresome.
November 29 Wednesday: I did some more work on the book, mostly following up the correspondence and reading some microfilms. New York Public Library told me they have masses of Moloney papers and that there is a published catalogue. I went to Clatterbridge to see Elsie Greaves, who is much better.
November 30 Thursday: In the evening John McClelland rang up to say he had received a letter from the Irish Centre asking him to return his card when his subscription would be refunded. We decided to have a word with Hostettler. On Sunday he told me about the complaints at the last AGM (when the motion to exclude the CA members was passed) that the disposal of the profits had not been revealed and that copies of the Constitution were not available. It might be that a warning shot might deter them from expelling Barney Morgan and others. Brian Stowell has already received a similar letter which he is going to reply to in Irish! Apparently the man behind the whole thing is MacHugh, the one-time schoolmaster who went up as Anti-Partition League candidate in Bootle after the Ireland Act. He has done well out of his Irish and anti-Labour activities and runs a travel agency sending church parties to Ireland.
December 1 Friday: There was a letter from Seamus Nolan, once of Waterford now in Cabra, telling me that he recalls Mrs Woods calling on him – but Mellows was with her! So why the long list of addresses? I replied. I also wrote to Tony Coughlan and Mrs Beaumont, whose address Frank Mitchell sent me. In it he said that Grove-White was going to Europe to find out if Rio Tinto was going to ruin Anglesey. I always fear the foreign tours of County Councillors. He is quite able to come back and swear it will not!
In the evening I went to the Anti-EEC meeting in the small St. George’s Hall. Ken Gill was there, and Jim Mortimer on the platform [both leading British trade unionists]. I knew nobody else. It was a curious affair. Mortimer based himself on any left TUC resolutions he could quote but did not observe that nothing was being done to implement them. Shinwell [Emmanuel Shinwell, Minister in the post- war Attlee Labour Government] was in great form – a witty forceful speaker; no wonder he got on. And how the art of oratory has declined since the invention of the idiots’ gogglebox. Jay [Douglas Jay – President of the Board of Trade, sacked by Harold Wilson for opposing British EEC accession] is tall, calm, gentlemanly and far from ingenuous as he is painted. Reneé Short [Labour MP for Wolverhampton] was not too bad.
Shinwell based himself on the Commonwealth. It was being sold down the river and Great Britain after it! Jay was more restrained, but brought in EFTA, and the “North Atlantic Alliance” as well. He proclaimed in reply to a questioner who asked why England was broke and the countries defeated in the last war lending her money, that Britain had paid for everything she used in the war and had honoured all her debts afterwards. Mortimer quoted the TUC on arms expenditure; export of capital, the imperialist bases abroad, were not mentioned. So no wonder Jay rejected suggestions from a well-dressed young man that Wilson by conspiring with foreign powers against the sovereignty of the queen of England was committing treason. No, no! It was just a highly unfortunate mistake that Mr Wilson had fallen into. The imperialist line of British policy was not once questioned during the meeting. It is as if Jay could see that Wilson was proposing to take away the scraps which the imperial diners had been throwing the British workers and was anxious to keep the bribery going. After all (as he said) France and Italy had big communist parties.
No wonder there was a restive air in the meeting. There were interruptions from the most varied standpoints. A woman I took to be Jewish objected to association with Germany. A young man I took to be Trotskyist said the German workers were like themselves and should be united with – as if the plan were to unite with the German workers! A bullet-headed interrupter said he was a father of ten and could not get a job in his own city. There was indeed a most restive air, and though there was applause there was undoubtedly very deep suspicion of the whole trend of Labour today. There was even at times an air of irresponsibility. The people of this country might well fall for a demagogue. There was vacuousness in the faces of some who spoke – particularly of the brother of the father of ten who demanded more trade with Spain and Portugal.
December 2 Saturday (London): I left in time for the 4.30 train and met Pat Hensey in the office. We went to Hammersmith but did not do well. There was an air of apathy and disillusionment about. No wonder after Wilson’s antics.
December 3 Sunday: I was in the office most of the day, and then went to Camden Town with Jim Kelly in the evening. We did surprisingly well. But I am dubious about the raising of the price next month. I wonder if we could improve the content first, or try to get over the hump of Christmas. Of course if people stay here because of the foot and mouth disease epidemic we may do well.
December 4 Monday: I was late in the office. I went to see Chetsiga to settle the sub-tenancy, Tom Redmond having declared that Sean was not pressing matters. Then after ringing Seifert, I wrote to him. To get the upper rooms let will help enormously. Sean Redmond had gone when I arrived. But Peter Mulligan came in to see about the circulars at midday and he told me Sean had moved into his new flat over the weekend. So one must make allowances – when one grants his curious conception of priorities. He came in late in the afternoon. I did not say anything. I have got my hands firmly on the main controls, so do not depend on him for the essentials. At the same time he should have told Peter Mulligan and left a note for me. I did Peter’s circular for him [informing people of his Connolly Association branch meeting]
In the evening I went to the Festival Hall to hear Samson. The last time I heard it must have been in 1927 at the old Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool. I imagine it was the Welsh Choral Society and I think CEG may have been in the chorus. I am not sure. When it was the Post Office Choral Society of which he was deputy conductor we had a box, but we did not for Samson. It may have been 1928 or 1929 because Hilda Taylor was over from Australia and said Samson was “frousty” or some such word and I dissented. I wondered would I still defend it. Ofcourse the performance tonight was far more accomplished and Handelian. The Welsh tradition makes the chorus everything, and the drama is underplayed. I missed the great brilliant lights of the old Philharmonic. Modern halls are too dark, like the restaurants. I also missed the magnificent straight trumpet. There was no soloist for the obbligato. But there was a greater intimacy – not unaffected by the fact that I paid for the most expensive seat!
At first I was a little bored. Then I got the impression of the eclecticism of the thing. There is this semitic tradition in English literature. Milton – Handel – Byron. So we had the theme of the revolutionary age pulled down in disillusioned name, set to music which is one moment Italian opera, the next German pietist Church music.
But as it proceeded it began to convince. Of course Milton’s words help. For once there is a libretto in English. For to combine Italian and German traditions was Handel’s achievement. By this he created modern European music, and the process he initiated in London was continued in Vienna by those who always regarded him, and not his greater contemporary Bach, as “the master”. One could see what he taught. And the national liberation themes of Samson and Judas Maccabaeus show the English revolutionaries donning the cloak of Old Testament heroes once the content of the revolution was well under control. Incidentally, I think Judas is better.
I recalled that CEG used to sing “Honour and Arms” with much gusto, in the days before radio when people came and there were musical evenings all the time. Taking it further I began to enjoy it immensely. The dead march – ruined for me since it was dirged out day and night on the radio when the King of England died in 1935 or ‘36 – was performed splendidly. It was the “Handel Opera Society” and the operatic touch was welcome. So I bought a bottle of Retsina on the way home to round off a pleasant evening.
Thinking about CEG’s singing [ie. his father] led to some reflection. “Arm, arm ye brave” from Judas was an even greater favourite. When he was a boy he was considered the moody member of the large family. He would, at one stage, descend into the cellar, presumably with his brothers, and clank chains and make dreadful moaning noises till his mother would call down, “Charlie – are you alright?” When depressed or frustrated he would play “See the conquering hero comes” on the piano. One begins to see the picture of the lad of real ability, in music at least, denied the freedom of expression or the cultural development that would have enabled him to express himself fully, not getting the chance to break away and coming to terms with his environment in the way that he did, still potentially the hero.
December 5 Tuesday: I was in the office practically all day. Sean Redmond called the organisation committee in the evening. Pat Hensey came a half hour late. Joe Deighan sat sullen and unproductive all the time. Elsie O’Dowling was at least cheerful. A young lad, Sweeney, London Irish, was there, and there was a tendency to take refuge in discussing his projected work in Willesden. I got them on to tackling three areas, Willesden, Ilford and Acton, and suggested they call together interested persons in each place and meet again as soon as there was something to report. Sean Redmond was in good form, not puppydoggish, and suffered only a deficiency in ability to envisage a possible position and work for it. I obtained from Cardiff a number of back numbers of “Y Cymmrodor” and had an interesting late night browsing through them.
December 6 Wednesday: It turned cold and wet, with a touch of sleet in the evening so that our branch meeting was spoiled. Joe Deighan was in a better mood. I have been buttering up Dorothy the last week and I think the process does relations and indirectly Joe good! Of course the root trouble with him is political confusion, but it need not necessarily lead to the defeatism he so often shows.
December 7 Thursday: A letter arrived from Michael O’Riordan asking if I would lecture in Dublin on 5th May on Connolly the Marxist [the upcoming year, 1968, was the centenary of James Connolly’s birth]. I replied that I would prefer a date in June. He also raised the question of a Communist Connolly centenary event. I had written to Idris Cox on this subject some time ago. In the meantime I rather went off a meeting, so I told O’Riordan I was thinking of a special issue of Marxism Today, and I wrote to Klugman and Idris Cox again on the subject of that. It turned fiercely cold. It has been freezing all day. So I rang Jean Huck and asked her to turn off the water at 124 Mount Road and pull the watercloset chain [to prevent a pipe burst], which she said she would.
Going through the Glasgow folder in the evening I found that J.MacGregor had written to Sean Redmond on November 5th saying that a man called Leckie was in Glasgow, who claimed to have known Connolly. He is on holiday from Australia. He must surely be the Leckie whose memorandum is preserved among the O’Malley papers, and of whom Roddy Connolly told me that he visited Ireland during the Civil War for the Comintern. I was cursing Sean Redmond for not passing this on to me. I left London the day it arrived. I wrote to MacGregor at once.
December 8 Friday: Another cold day. I hope this doesn’t presage a hard winter. There was snow, as early as this. I went to Colindale [ie. to the British Library there]. Mrs. O’Mahony had sent me the strange letter Liam Mellows sent her father from “somewhere?” It says, “You’ll never guess where I was a few days after the Cork Tipperary match – off Helvick Head.” O’Mahony was then in Dungarvan and Pax Whelan told me he thought Mellows came into Dungarvan while the ship was sheltering at Helvick. At Colindale I found out that the Munster hurling final between Cork and Tipperary was held at Dungarvan on October 1st, 1916. I guess Mellows must have gone there. So this gives an important date. The strange thing is that the letter is signed “stoker”. So did he know already what job was to be got for him on board ship? This date agrees with that I have assigned for his brief stay in Liverpool and the putative date of sailing for New York. It may also enable me to check the Helvick date from weather records.
I went into the office and found a letter from Olivia MacMahon saying that the Dundee Trades Council had formed a committee to hold a Connolly Commemoration next year. I think we might later connect up these committees and have an enlarged Connolly Association out of it. I also secured an order for papers in Derby. For the first time I noticed in Sean Redmond a certain scratching of the head at the sudden lurch of progress! Toni Curran came in, but unfortunately she is getting tied up with some residents’ association because a speculator wants to buy up all their back gardens.
At the International Affairs Committee in the evening the usual people were present, but not Palme Dutt who is ill. Nan Green gave the talk, which was very interesting. But how pale and grey she looked. Later I learned she had broken her hip and was hobbling about on crutches. MacWhinnie also looked a bit drawn. Sam Russell, large and rubicund, was full of resounding health and took no notice of the ladies present when he described his interview with Che Guevara, whose opinion of the South American Communist Parties he quoted – they were “shit”. Now, as somebody remarked, he has paid for the error when confirmed in his self-destructive course. A pity, too. Idris Cox told me that he and Klugman had conferred on my proposals and they had been accepted. I asked Jack Woddis how was Palme Dutt, but he didn’t know. Billy Strachan was there, full of independent ideas, and Chris Meredith. Kay Beauchamp looked very old and wrinkled. Tempora mutantur . . . Andrew Rothstein has broken his arm, and that is why I substituted for him on Wednesday.
December 9 Saturday: I was busy in the office most of the day preparing this brief chapter on Ireland for the East Germans’ book on Britain – I have stipulated that nothing should be said that makes it appear that the two countries are, were, could be or should be one, and they accepted that. They are even putting in some Welsh and Scotch nationalism, but I fear the tendency to place all on the same level.
In the evening I was out with Joe Deighan. He is still disoriented but I think I have worked to a better personal position from which it may be possible to make him willing to discuss his difficulties. There was less of the “martyrdom” reaction. There is a fierce mood of apathy among the Irish.
December 10 Sunday: The Standing Committee was in the morning. On the way to the office I met a familiar figure, very much the gentleman in overcoat and well polished shoes. It was that rat Prendergast, grown fatter and flabbier, but seemingly good for a few more years’ mischief. I was prepared to notice him, as I was curious at the way he had changed. But he kept his eyes fixed on the ground as he passed me by. There was no insolence, I thought even a touch of shame, as he would not meet my eye.
When I got there I found Joe Deighan was sick with a cold which was coming on last night. Pat Bond, Toni Curran, Pat Hensey and Sean Redmond were there, and the interchange was quite useful. Peter Mulligan did not come. I saw him in the evening and mildly reproved him. I trust it will take effect. I told him he was not 21 anymore and must accept the responsibilities of citizenship! We went to Holloway.
December 11 Monday: I was busy in the office all day. In the evening we had the meeting with Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Bond and Jim Kelly. I saw Klugman in the afternoon.
December 12 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went into the office for a few minutes, but in the afternoon took the train to Liverpool. In Manchester the police have objected to Tom Redmond’s plaque being put up after the Council decided (by a casting vote) to support it. Barney Morgan has received a letter demanding that he give up the Connolly Association [This came from the Liverpool Irish Centre, a social venue for the Irish in that city, which Morgan regularly patronised]and Eric Gormley has been told not to “associate” with members of the CA. This is the “free world” that we live in. Yet every day we learn of Liverpool Catholics holding a “dialogue” with communists. The Irish Centre offers as proof that the Connolly Association is communist the fact that it is affiliated to the MCF and the NCCL!
December 13 Wednesday: I dealt with the correspondence, which showed my letters had resulted in the gathering of quite a deal of information.
December 14 Thursday: I was busy mostly with correspondence all day. Some progress was made with the American period.
December 15 Friday: Again it was correspondence. I decided to spend Xmas in London this year. Some material came from Cathal.
December 16 Saturday: I was busy once more on the American period, recording extracts from The Call on to the machine Tony Meade got me, and writing up what I did a month ago. John McClelland was on the telephone. He saw Morgan and Doherty on Thursday. He speaks of calling on Monday evening. A note from Sean Redmond said that Roger Woddis had telephoned saying R.Palme Dutt is better and is coming out of hospital and extending his press date for the article I am doing for Labour Monthly.
December 16 Sunday: I did more work on the American period, then transcribed from last night’s tape and spent all evening recording again – to my satisfaction I note I have only two more reels that I must go through carefully. I hate microfilm work. Nobody has invented a decent reader. At about 6 pm. John McClelland called, bringing with him one of the McPeakes (Francis, I think) a man of about fifty or over, son of the original McPeake, now eighty-two or three – born 1885! John brought a copy of the Catholic Pictorial with fierce attacks on the Connolly Association. McPeake was loud in his denunciations of the Catholic Church and told me how his father “couldn’t stand them” and that Ireland would never be free till they were got rid of. Of course if John McClelland or I had said one-tenth of it he would have dissented at once! He was quite astute however and pointed out that not only the Connolly Association but Connolly came under attack and advised us to stick to that aspect in replying. McClelland came today because McPeake is staying with him and he can use the car, which is anyway marooned here because of foot and mouth.
December 18 Monday: I went on with the recording/transcribing of American material and found much that will interest Joshi.
December 19 Tuesday: Things went on the same way. On the whole I think the use of the tape-recorder is justified. I think it is slightly slower than making direct extracts but is much less effort. The only difficulty is occasionally with the spelling of Indian names. Mrs Phillips was here. I pricked up my ears when she said that she often saw Jean Hack from next door “when Miss Greaves was in bed”. Perhaps this was when she caught her severe cold. But I cleared out the medicine box on the bathroom wall and found it stuffed with aspirin, chlorodyne and every conceivable mixture and pill. Nobody would ever tell me she was not enjoying good health! Least of all herself – when I last specifically enjoined on her to do so.
December 20 Wednesday: I finished The Call to the date of Mellows’s return to Ireland. There is less in the later numbers. John McClelland called in the early evening and we got out a reply to the egregious Father Brady, who has raked up every old wife’s tale and Tory libel that malice could give him the energy for. The Catholic Pictorial has printed the lot. But Barney Morgan thinks “appealing” will help!
December 21 Thursday: I had the idea of perhaps reprinting Connolly on India and recorded his two articles from The Harp – the first two issues.
December 22 Friday (London): Here was another fine “warm sector” day with strong Southwest wind and the typical cloud formations that used to be so frequent in the thirties. I wonder what hope there is that after the set-back of 1940-63, the advance to increasingly mild winters will be resumed? Certainly the change since 1963 has been as spectacular as that after 1940, and this year above all I have been reminded of the old days. Though we do not yet have the southerly gales of those days. I called on Elsie Greaves yesterday. She is much better.
I went to Birkenhead Market and bought myself a goose for £4. It is not that I propose to be engulfed in all the nonsense of this absurd commercial festival. It is simply that there are no geese on the market at other times. Then I took the train to London and went to Holloway with Peter Mulligan.
December 23 Saturday: Another mild day, at least for most of its course, and the temperature was not far off 60’F. I spent some time clearing up in the office – a mass of stuff has accumulated. Sean Redmond and Jim Kelly were there, and Chris Sullivan for a brief while. Gerry Curran was to have gone out with me tonight but rang up that he had contracted a dinner engagement that he had forgotten all about. In the afternoon I replenished the depleted larder at 6 Cockpit Chambers and obtained enough food and drink to withstand the next three days’ siege. Jim Kelly and Peter Mulligan are going to stay a few days with Pat Bond. He invited me too, but I can’t stand radios and gramophone records and small talk, however kindly it all is intended. I am delighted at getting the three extra working days. In the evening Sean Redmond and Jim Kelly and I went to Holloway, but there was a “holiday atmosphere”.
December 24 Thursday: I got up later after a night in which I did not sleep well. I have a sniffy cold and being not too deeply asleep can be awakened at intervals by the aeroplanes that plague the night. In the afternoon I went to the office, and thanks largely to Tony Coughlan’s plenteous copy, got four pages completed, which was exceptionally good. Peter Mulligan came in later. He was waiting for Jim Kelly and together they were going to Pat Bond’s. In the evening I transcribed some of the tape record of “The Call” and ate some of the goose which I had left cooking all day.
I telephoned Mrs Stewart. She still has trouble with arthritis – finding it difficult to bend but is otherwise fair enough. She told me she had heard that the Foot and Mouth disease has not got up to the Stiperstones, which is good. But how I wish it would go away altogether so that I could have a break!
December 25 Monday: A wet Christmas Day – very unusual, even in the olden days. I went to the office in the morning and finished two more pages – also exceptionally good. After lunch I went back – the rain continuing – and managed one more page by 6 pm. This was page one and more troublesome. After tea I went again and fini
shed the last page – I think surely two days must be a record! The reason is of course that I had already written my own articles before I went away, and the contributions came in on time.
December 26 Tuesday: This was another satisfactory day. I felt quite pleased with the result of spending the holiday this way – and was wondering when was the last time anything went right! I transcribed more of The Call record in the morning, so that less than one side of a tape remains, and in the afternoon I sent off quite a few letters from the office. About 3 pm. Peter Mulligan came in from Pat Bond’s. Only he and Jim Kelly were there. Des Logan was invited, but gave some reason for not going. Sean Redmond told me that he (Logan) was in the office the day before I got back and was talking about becoming a full-time student of statistics. I think he will not do much more politics. Whether he will ever succeed with the statistics is another thing. He must be 40-45 and has not yet the “GCE”[General Certificate of Education] – which I take to be the old matriculation. Peter seemed a bit uncertain about what he wanted to do. But I did not invite him for a drink as I wanted to get on with other work. And in the evening I wrote to Sam Levenson, Elsie Greaves, Hilda Taylor and Bertha, Mabel [maternal aunts] and the girl in Canada who sent a card thinking Phyllis was still alive, Alan Morton, and one or two more. So most of the Xmas cards are now acknowledged.
December 27 Wednesday: This was not a satisfactory day at all, apart from the rain, and despite the continuing mildness. I spent all day at Colindale going through Lloyd’s list for 1916 and did not find a thing. I went into the office in the evening, and didn’t Alf Kearney come in – a decent man, of Citizen Army stock, with a touch of anti-semitism (which incidentally affected Larkin too). I let it pass. He identifies Jews with capitalists. If we can teach him more about the latter he will see the difference himself. I think his employer is Jewish. I had a drink with him. Then I returned to 6 Cockpit Chambers to do more transcribing. Kearney had donated a bottle of whiskey for the ballot on Sunday, so I had to go out with him. But that meant the day brought practically nothing.
December 28 Thursday: Another day with little to show for it. I wrote to Lena Jeger [Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras] confirming the date for 21 February and rang Idris Cox to try to get Betty Ambatulis for the same meeting. He is seeing her on Monday. She is a Cardiff woman whose name was Bartlett. I never met her. Twice in the period around the end of the war I was going to speak in Cardiff where she was Propaganda Secretary [ie. for the CPGB], and the first time the meeting was cancelled and the second I had an abscess and Bhattacharya gave me sulpha-tiazol, which was quite up to date in those days, and it made me feel worse than the abscess. That must have been in 1945 or ‘46 I imagine. I think she must have met Ambatulis in Cardiff, for there was a large Greek colony. I recall being entertained by some people called Economides when the Student Labour Federation had its Conference in Cardiff and that wild character White descended from Aberystwyth with a head full of the crassest leftism. That must have been the last time I saw John Cornford [Cambridge student killed in the Spanish Civil War] – or perhaps the next to last, I saw him for a brief period in Cambridge perhaps.
I finished the cassette. But first Jameson came from Glasgow and kept us talking. We took him to lunch with Peter Mulligan at the Indian in Marchmont Street. And then Leo McCormack came in, and Peter again! I heard Toni Curran has influenze and according to the papers it is on the rampage.
December 29 Friday: I was in the office a brief while near midday. In the evening I had invited Charlie Cunningham, Peter Mulligan, Pat Bond, Gerry Curran and Toni Curran for a meal, but both Toni and Gerry had influenza. The others came however. Peter stayed overnight, having along with all of us taken his share of wine. I was interested in his remark that Sean Redmond was wondering whether to carry on full-time for the CA – that explains a strange lack of communication of late. He is not however to be blamed if he thinks this is not a particularly well-paid job for a dashing young fellow, and there is little doubt in my own mind that his wife is basically non-political. I find he seldom now attends the Central London branch meetings and goes off home slightly earlier. Peter Mulligan was talking about doing the job himself. He thinks he could raise the money on the sales of books. But he has nothing like the political ability of Sean Redmond. He said several times that Sean was a “married man” but that he would need £20 a week himself!
December 30 Saturday: I did not get up early – arose, awakened Peter Mulligan and got him off to work – and then went back for an hour. We must have made a night of it! Not all day would I have accepted a drop of alcohol if paid to drink it. In the afternoon I went to the Westminster Public Library and to the office in the evening. A card came from Joshi and a letter from Charles T. Rice of the American Irish Historical Society, who is trying to find out for me the name of the vessel on which Liam Mellows went to the United States.
December 31 Sunday: The Conference today was poorly attended – only myself, Sean Redmond, Joe Deighan, Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly, Bobby Rossiter, Pat Hensey, Chris Sullivan, Kearney, and Pat Bond in the chair. Gerry Curran and Toni both professed influenza. Charlie Cunningham presumably still had it. Jane Tate rang up to say she had caught it and about a dozen or more others just failed to show up. Yet the whole thing was more constructive and sober than I ever remember. Incredible – Joe Deighan was himself! Completely free from his absurd self-conscious gestures and quips. Sean Redmond had plenty of hesitant “Ohs” but none of his irritating conceited “Ahs”, and they both spoke well on the introductory resolution. I had been thinking over the various cross-currents and decided what was needed was a strictly political approach. All seemed to wish it. Everything was constructive and so we broke up quite early. This evening comes the New Year Eve Social, which we all fear will be badly attended. The weather is against it – this morning wet and bitterly wild, this evening dry and frosty.
I went to the Social. Though only moderately attended it was quite a success, with several young English musicians who had learned Irish traditional airs. Joe O’Connor was in great form, doing step dances like a march hare. And Tadhg Egan also was there, very festive and diplomatic. Peter Mulligan, Joe Deighan and others were there also, but not Sean Redmond as Susan was ill.
I spent some time talking with Joe O’Connor, and he referred to the fact that Tom Aherne had been replaced by Tom Leonard as full-time man at NUR [National Union of Railwaymen] HQ. They seem to take it in turns to occupy the position, then return to the tools. He said he preferred Tom Leonard, which showed sense, but there had been some mixed feelings because he was in the Labour Party. I said that some years ago, having heard that Aherne was going under a false name and had blotted his copy book before leaving Cork, I had made enquiries in Cork and found the first untrue, but the second true to an extent. “Yes, he signed out of jail and joined the Free State army,” said O’Connor. This throws some light on his anti-national position within the CP. He has done damage only exceeded by Prendergast – indeed maybe it does exceed it, for people pay less attention to the other.
When it was all over Peter Mulligan and Jim Kelly were disputing as they always are – mostly Jim is the aggressor barking at the bigger dog. Then Pat Hensey and Chris Sullivan couldn’t get a taxi and I had to take them home and make tea to prepare them for their long tramp. Joe Deighan remained in good form but Dorothy kept a mask of sour disapproval at all this drinking and enjoyment around her. Thanks to the absence of proper public transport people all left early and there was no letting in of the New Year as there used to be. Instead of the worthy old festival we have to suffer the three days’ insincerity of Christmas, commercialised to the point of absurdity. I was talking with Mrs Donovan whose daughter at TCD was present, and I urged her to contact Tony Coughlan.
A letter came from Dave Slipper saying that he might do something in Cardiff and today Joe Deighan was most enthusiastic about prospects in Wales.
January 1 Monday: From Michael O’Riordan came a letter inviting me to give a lecture on “Connolly the Marxist” in Dublin on June 8. This is the day of the unveiling of the plaque in Edinburgh. So I am inclined to suggest they make it the 9th. Sean Redmond has already written to O’Riordan suggesting he speak at Trafalgar Square on May 12th, but he does not seem to have got the letter yet.
In the evening Alan Morton came for a meal. He told me that travelling each day from St. Albans to Chelsea is getting too much for him. His first chance for retirement comes in 1973. He doubts if he can continue that long. I suggested that as soon as the youngest child, Alisoun, is at the university safely, he should move into town, and enjoy the marvellous quiet at night – except of course in the middle of the night when the sky seems to fill with aeroplanes. He was considering that. He remarked that baleful eyes have been cast on his department. “Do you realise, Professor Morton,” said the Principal just before Christmas, “That it costs more to turn out a Botany graduate than any other? I wondered if you were aware of it.” Alan said he was not, but it did not surprise him. The Government has started auditing them, and the result is the gradual replacement of accidental waste by organised waste, with a great increase in the efficiency of wastefulness. It is all part of the dictatorship that is gradually being rammed down on the country. He told me that young John was promised the research job at Nottingham, but the grant did not come through. So he is working in a tropical timber research institution in Grays Inn Road. Young Alisoun is still unwell, and dislikes being it very much. I asked why he didn’t take her away to some cottage in the North of Scotland where there wouldn’t be any germs and she couldn’t catch anything. Then when she got back she might be healthy enough to be resistant.
January 2 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went into the office in the morning. Dorothy Deighan was there and Sean Redmond came in later. Then I left for Ripley. I had heard the weather forecast yesterday morning. “Snow now falling will turn to rain on low ground.” It was then raining. But Holborn is very low ground. I was surprised to find a snowy landscape from the slopes of Cricklewood to Kettering. Then it was milder and green. Melville Reynolds told me that Michael O’Riordan was asking for quotations for an “Irish Socialist” of double size. So he must be doing well.
Then I came in to Liverpool, and found letters from Roy Johnston, Mrs Curran and Mrs Furlong of Gorey (Wexford), and K.Greaves [a family relation] in San Francisco. This one regretted that I had had an operation and hoped I was better! Elsie Greaves must have written and perhaps K.Greaves had misread Elsie’s name. I have now Patrick Liam Mellows Kirwan’s address from three sources, the third being Charles T. Rice of the American Irish Historical Society. I wrote to him.
January 3 Wednesday: I spent the day acknowledging correspondence and writing off further letters of enquiry. It was cold, with a blasting half-gale and a wild sunset with fracto-stratus zeppelins against a peach and white west. Plenty more storm to come – but excellent that the weather should remain active into the New Year.
The buses are running again. The shopkeepers say the people are not using them much and this is partly indignation over the strike. First the strike took place on a Friday without warning. Second it was extended over Christmas in order to avoid providing Christmas services. “People will be slow to forget it.” Then comes the disclosure that Liverpool Corporation deliberately refused work to men and then said their services were as bad as they were “through shortage of staff”. The constantly increasing size and remoteness of all these authorities means that offical lying has reached unprecedented heights.
In the garden there is a magnificent white rose – I think my reward for putting down basic slag. And opposite it is the Christmas Rose or Helleborus, which Phyllis was so fond of. I think I will try a more ambitious gardening programme this year.
I typed out extracts of items in The Call referring to the Indians in New York, and tomorrow intend to send a copy of the synopsis to PC Joshi.
January 4 Thursday: I did not get much done on the book but managed some useful work – the drafting of a resolution for the CDU [Campaign for Democracy in Ulster] conference at the end of a month from the new angle that the Catholic population of the Six Counties are a minority held in the UK against their will and denied the right to ventilate their grievances in the UK Parliament. A letter from Sean Redmond said that O’Connor Lysaght [Dublin-based leftwing historian] has been ringing up asking me for information about the Irish Soviets. I also wrote a letter to CP Joshi and wrote an article on Countess Markiewicz for Labour Monthly. Mrs Stewart rang up and invited me over for lunch tomorrow. That means I will not get much done then, but one cannot work every minute of every day. I heard Clive Jenkins interviewed on this absurd “We back Britain” stunt, where five fool typists decided to work an extra half hour a day for nothing, and the firm they worked for is getting gigantic publicity trying to spread the new practice [Jenkins was leading trade unionist in the Association of Scientific and Technological Workers, ASTMS]. I thought he did not come off best. The interviewer was the usual insolent BBC pup, snarling out his own propaganda. Jenkins was too quick. He relied on his slickness and found it inferior to that of his trained opponent. I thought over the interchange carefully. I came to the conclusion that Jenkins is an opportunist who in a fit of “cleverness” admitted his opponent’s case at the very start of the interview. It seems to be very important when dealing with these fellows to realise that the essence of their tactic is provocation. I remember seeing Attlee in Belfast interviewed on the EEC. He never raised his voice, often answered in quiet monosyllables, or said, “I don’t think so.” You felt he had said nothing. Naturally the interviewer had instructions to treat him gently. But whether or not, the old man was not to be hustled. He gave himself time to get the implications of the question.
January 5 Friday: Not much could be done today. I spent the morning on the Van Voris book review. Then, as promised, I went to have lunch with Mrs Stewart. She suffers badly from arthritis and is unable to bend with any weight and is worried about her garden. Also she finds herself too much alone. Miss Holstead is making a trip to Australia. Miss Stothard is as lively as ever. Her son, the lecturer at the “University” of Lancaster (where that rat Carter went to be Chancellor) is worried about the cuts in education [Prof.Charles Carter was joint author, with Denis Barritt, of the book “The Northern Ieland Problem, a Study in Group Relations”, 1962, to which Greaves wrote a critical response in “The Irish Question and the British People”,1963, that was later expanded into “The Irish Crisis”, 1972]. He says it is impossible to get lecturers in science. All scientists go into industry. And it is also impossible to get enough science students. Serve them right, said I. They want people to opt for slavery and they won’t! It was 7 pm. before I was back and by the time I had read the weekly papers it was too late to do anything – near 10 pm. I heard from Elsie Greaves again.
January 6 Saturday: I was busy once more on the American period, mostly card-indexing, which takes a desperate time. But I also started construction of a new bookcase, to accommodate the still rapidly accumulating volumes, some from London, some new.
January 7 Sunday: Today was fine! So I sandpapered the shelves, outside and finished the construction of the shelves.
January 8 Monday: It began to rain. Then to snow, and by evening it was beginning to stick. I wrote to a number of American Libraries.
January 9 Tuesday: John McClelland rang in the evening. He had just escaped the snow, having by good fortune caught the early boat to Stranraer. He is still driving the McPeakes’ car. But they did not come as they had an engagement cancelled in Manchester. Both he and Tom Redmond are for the conference in Manchester at the end of the month. He says that Dooley has written to the Catholic Pictorial and he understands something is to be carried. I sent the letters off to the USA.
January 10 Wednesday: I continued work on the American period, but I cannot say I have mastered it at all. It is surprising what superficial accounts seem to satisfy some authors. “The politicians” in the USA. Yes, but what were they aiming at? Apart from this the weather occupied most attention. The snow started falling off the roofs of the shops and covered one young fellow from head to foot and filled up a baby’s perambulator. Then it started freezing. Then the wind freshened from the NW and the kitchen chimney smoked Mrs Phillips out. In the evening the room seemed warm, and I switched off the two electric radiators I had supplementing the fire. About a half hour later I heard rat-a-tat outside the window. I ascertained it was water. When I went out – it was about 8.30 pm. – a fast thaw was in progress. The weather forecasters promised rain and we got frost. Now they promised frost and we get a thaw!
January 11 Thursday: I was busy on the book, one way and another, all day. There was snow and ice and slush everywhere and I was glad to be indoors.
January 12 Friday (London): I saw in one of the papers that LJ Solly had died – quite young too. It must have been as far back as 1950 when I last met him. It was at the Soviet Embassy, I think, when they used to invite all kinds of unimportant persons to their functions as the important ones wouldn’t even drink their vodka. I remember seeing Aneurin Bevan there, however – stotious drunk. The time I spoke to Solly must have been during the 1950 election when Hugh Delargy went up against him. He was afraid Delargy would make use of the fact that his marriage had broken up. Was it true, he asked, that Delargy’s own past was not entirely free from blame? I had no compunction in telling him that I was in Elsie O’Dowling’s flat when my bold Hugh presented himself with a tall ungainly female and I was told afterwards that he used to stay there – or next door with Sean Dowling – fair lady and all, because MPs are paid every six months, and he had to go six months without pay when he was elected. Elsie was asked did she mind, and they were not married. After the six months was up Delargy never came near Elsie again.
I caught the midday train to London and found Sean Redmond in the office. He seemed in good form. I went to the International Affairs Committee in the evening. It was curious. Woddis was in the chair and showed signs of unusual irritability. Idris Cox talked about China and “contested” some conference conclusions. Woddis replied lastly that he had every right to “contest” whatever he liked, but that the Executive Committee was going to do what the conference had told it! And Idris revealed that when he was on the EC years ago he was in a minority of one on the Yugoslavian issue. That opened a train of thought.
January 13 Saturday: It was snowing first, then it began to thaw rapidly and to rain. I would judge it had hit about 42’F by nightfall. I saw Peter Mulligan and the others in the office and in the evening was out with Sean Redmond.
January 14 Sunday: We had the Standing Committee in the morning. Joe Deighan was in great form and seems to have lost his nervous and strained manner. Last week I sent him a letter congratulating him on his speech at the conference. It all puts me in mind of Marcello Pirani and the way he used to use the oil can! [ie. pouring unction]. A handy weapon I have not valued at its full worth. I must make more use of it. He is energetic and genuine, but he wants to feel appreciated! As for the young fellow he is too much appreciated, and that has given him the big head. He was very lofty in the manner in which he explained he had been invited to the Cuban Embassy. I remember when James Klugman used to get these invitations and how shrewdly he pulled out. Some people used to spend most of their lives supping free coffee and attending free films. I have a suspicion that Prendergast is also somewhere in the picture, as at the Conference Sean said something about drawing that gentleman into some form of collaboration. I think he is better where he is! In the evening I was out with Peter Mulligan and saw Charlie Cunningham and Jim Kelly in the afternoon. Pat Bond has moved to Eltham. Sean Redmond had seen Geoffrey Bing at the Cuban Embassy and he had been telling him of his willingness to go up in Mid-Ulster [where a by-election was pending] if he was the sole opposition candidate. Roy Johnston tells me Austin Curry wants it. But he might stand down for Bing. I don’t know. Bing is far more capable, but oh! how lazy. Dooley used to go mad when he used to appear on our platforms and make an atrocious speech “off the cuff” because he had not troubled to prepare anything. He drifted away from us after the Ireland Act when the “Friends of Ireland” group broke up [ie. the Friends of Ireland group of Labour MPs, led by Geoffrey Bing, who had opposed the 1949 Ireland Act, which stated that there would be no change in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland without the consent of that area’s Parliament at Stormont]. And when he lost his seat the House of Commons heard not a word about Ireland until I interested Orbach and Lipton [Maurice Orbach, Labour MP for Willesden and Col.Marcus Lipton, MP for Brixton] .
January 15 Monday (Liverpool): I went into the office for a few minutes but caught the 11 am. to Liverpool. It was 3/4 hour late, and there was such a crowd that I could not get lunch. I was not too pleased. It meant getting an afternoon meal and disrupting the rest of the day. There was a letter from Cathal – he is still in the midst of moving [to a new house that he had purchased at 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, Dublin], but based on Finglas Park. I had mentioned to Roy that I hadn’t the faintest idea where he was, and Roy had passed on the message to Helga, amplified into an enquiry as to whether he was still alive!
There is no Dublin sailing on a Monday now – “progress” has settled accounts with that “amenity” – so I remained in Liverpool but rang Helga and got Kader Asmal’s number.
January 16 Tuesday: I spent most of the day on the book. Last night the taximan told me of a dreadful gale on Sunday. Apparently Glasgow was like a bombed city. But today I came up in the No.60 bus and found a diversion from Church Rd., because the spire of St. Catherine’s Church had been rendered unsafe and a part of the back fence connected with what was Smiths was blown down – no doubt thanks in part to the two adipose gentlemen in red ganseys who recently sawed the three beech trees down and exposed us more sharply on the northwest. However, I nailed a bit of it up and the woman tied up the other end. I think she said she was Smith’s daughter, but I had little to do with them. “Old Smith” was a philosophical old local and a fanatical gardener who allowed no lawns but cultivated every inch. I rang up Tony Coughlan but could not find him – he certainly does not appear to overburden Trinity College with his society. But I got on to Kader Asmal’s secretary and left a message to the effect that I was arriving tomorrow. Later I sailed out into the gale.
January 17 Wednesday (Dublin): It was a wild night and for a good part of it sleep was out of the question. I did not feel utterly exhausted but soon it became apparent that a cold had been precipitated by the strain. I went up to 74 Finglas Park for breakfast. Little Bebhinn was up at once asking for chocolate. The others were at school since the boat was an hour late. Mrs Wilson was sharing a bedroom with Bebhinn and I suppose Finoula, and presumably the boys are in Finoula’s room. “Pop”, I presume, is below. It is a tight squeeze.
Helga drove me over to Rathmines. She rang Mairin Johnston’s bell but she seemed to be out all morning. This disappointed Helga as she had been relying on her opening the door to the Gas Board’s engineer if she was not there when he came. She showed me round the house [ie. their new house at 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, which coincidentally was just two doors from the house of Roy and Mairin Johntston at No. 22]. I can hardly conclude Cathal has made a wise decision. It is a huge rambling place, bigger than Roy’s, part of the Plunkett estate. The outer facade may be all right. I did not know. But internally it is like the proverbial “shit-house”. I doubt if I ever saw the like. The previous occupants were thrown out by the Bailiffs for being three years in arrears with the rent. Their name was O’Neill and they had the most aristocratic accents in Rathmines, which was something. Apparently they spent their days in wild drinking parties. If they decided that a pair of shoes was worn out they threw it through the window, where it would alight in the garden. There, this and similar refuse, grew sodden and rotten and worm eaten and mouldy and met the encroachments made by the neighbour who threw his hedge clippings over the wall. Part of the premises must have been sublet. Finally Mrs O’Leary got them out, and was determined never again to own a house. I am assured that cubic metres of filth have been thrown out already. The wallpaper is greasy and tattered. In one room the floorboards are burnt, in another crumbling with damp. Windows are broken and stuffed with rags. I told Helga she should think of borrowing £1000 from the bank, putting the minimum living space and one bedroom to rights, and then slowly repair the rest from the proceeds of the tenancy.
After that I met Tony Coughlan for lunch. He said he had taken a house – bought it indeed – on the same estate as Asmal, as he paid £4 a week for his room and would only pay £5.5 on his mortgage. He was not thinking of enlarging his domestic economy and Roy Johnston was wrong in suggesting high romance. “No,” said I, “but we all believed you were living in ‘sin’” – at which he snorted!
I rang up Kadar and he told me expected me [Greaves stayed with Kader Asmal at his home on Barton Road East in Dundrum during this visit, as Cathal MacLiam was moving house]. Then I went to see Sean Nolan about the lecture in June. Tony Coughlan told me, by the way, that Roy was complaining that Helga when visiting Rathmines too frequently, went into No. 22 and wasted Mairin’s time and drank his tea and coffee! He told me Justin Keating had recently joined the Labour Party.
I met Tony again in the evening and we went to the Pearl Bar [in Fleet Street]. Cathal O’Shannon came in and we made him join us and bought him drink and got him talking as much as he would. Donal Foley, now News Editor of the Irish Times, came in. He made some remark about the Connolly Association conference he came to at the start of when he was the London correspondent. “You only stayed there ten minutes,” said I. “I did not,” he replied, “I was there all morning” – perhaps the “morning” stopped at 11 am. when the pubs opened! The conference was due to begin at 10.30 but of course the delegates were late. Finally Tony Coughlan brought me out to Kader Asmal’s [on Barton Road East, Dundum] and stayed till I was too sleepy to talk any more.
January 18 Thursday: The cold developed, and a cough. I rang Mrs Czira but she told me it was “out of the question” for me to see her. Somebody had called to discuss the Countess Markievicz and had “stayed all afternoon”. She was very busy and efficient sounding; obviously she is personally administering a tremendous business. But she said she did not know all that much about Mellows. I am inclined to believe it – or she would have been in print with it. However, I asked would she reply to specific questions and she said she would consider it. I was tired and went to bed early.
January 19 Friday: In the morning I went to see Eamon Martin at the Sweep. Apparently he had written to me, but only since I was on my way here. He simply does not believe that Mellows was three months on the Atlantic. He thinks three months from Balloughtra to New York. He does not recall the name of the ship but says that Mellows said it sailed from Devonport. He told me Gregg Ashe is still alive and found his number for me. For half a moment Brendan Sinnott hopped off a bus in Westmoreland St. to invite me to a TCD meeting. But I did not go. Instead I had a meal with Cathal, and later we went to Asmals with a bottle or two of drink. Tony Coughlan had gone to address a meeting in Limerick. I wrote to Gregg Ashe and ordered a suit from Kevin and Howlin’s.
January 20 Saturday: I went out to see Gregg Ashe – near where Madge Daly lives at Foxrock – and found him a very fine old gentleman, one of the old timers that are a pleasure to meet. He confirmed my guess that Thomas Ashe was the IRB head centre in 1911. He was most opposed to Collins. The oration over his brother’s grave was to be delivered by Fr Albert. Collins’s leap forward with the closing of the volleys was thus a conscious act of pushing Fr Albert into the background. Gregg Ashe thought that the woman Llewelyn Davies met Collins around March 1921 and had been deliberately sent over from England to soften him up. Ashe was in America in the earlier part of 1918 and says that Liam Mellows complained to him of being short of money. Ashe used to meet him at Kirwans. He regarded John Devoy as a dictator – if he said that white tile was green, then green it was. I saw Cathal and Helga in the afternoon. “Pop” took an impression for the purpose of making me a new denture [Cathal MacLiam’s father was a retired dentist]. I spent the evening with Frank Robbins, who contradicted everything Ashe said.
January 21 Sunday: I rang Maire Comerford who invited me out in the evening. After a talk there, in which she agreed to come to London for the meeting, she drove me to Sheila Humphrey’s house. Her two brothers, one a City Architect, another a barrister, were there, and the wife of one is the daughter of Dr Sigerson Shorter, and also present was Fiona Plunkett. She told them of some people who were Protestants called Morchoe (O Murchadha). They were neighbours of the Plunketts. “One of them was picked for the squad that shot Joe and refused to do it.” He was courtmartialled and discharged from the army [Joe McKelvey, IRA officer executed by the Provisional Government in 1922]. She had only learned this very recently.
January 22 Monday: I had a wild day. Thinking to have my luggage ready for the boat after booking my ticket at Westmoreland St. I asked if the depository was open at the quay, and on learning that it was, took a taxi there. It was shut. I got a receipt from the taxi driver, went back to Westmoreland Street and demanded that they pay it. They were very apologetic and said they would. I was badly delayed but had a long talk with Seamus Reader [Fianna Eireann activist from Glasgow, involved in 1916] at the back of the Dail. He was very useful. After that it was one thing after another – till I found I had left my watch at Ballinteer, and Asmal’s number being a new one is not in the book! I missed Tony Coughlan, and finally walked down to the North Wall (I had left the luggage already in a second taxi) and got on the boat.
On the whole, despite its brevity this has been quite a successful visit. I saw Roy Johnston on Sunday and told him me about Bing and mid-Ulster – a good alternative to Austin Curry. Today I saw Nolan and heard proposals about the lecture in June. He was in Belfast yesterday – of course he would never think of telling me he was going. He is like a clam. Perhaps he should be soaked in wine and then cooked. I had no luck in speaking to Mrs Robbins as Frank was interrupting with his monochromatic picture. But she managed to get out, “Well, I don’t care what you say, Liam Mellows was a lovely fellow.” And of Gregg Ashe she said with ready enthusiasm, “Ah, he was a great person!” I would love to meet her when the husband was absent. But I did learn that the Kenny affair was soon after Mellows’s arrival in New York and about events in Galway. Monteith’s grilling was in relation to his leaving Germany. Needless to say, Robbins is bitterly anti-Casement. I got Gregg Ashe’s definite statement about Mellows being hard-up around the winter of 1918 and his then being at the Kirwan’s. And I got some firm dates from Eamon Martin. Eamonn de Barra told me that old Mrs O’Doherty is not lucid any longer, but he promised to try and find me a spare copy of her book. And above all I got the confirmation of the IRB succession.
January 23 Tuesday (London): I went to London on the 2.30. Never was there so attentive a crew, anxious to placate me for not being able to provide lunch last week – which reminds me that on the way over I found the old Munster crew had taken over the Leinster and I was ushered to the reserved table in state! On the way back it was the Leinster men again, so there was no special mark of recognition. I was hardly back when Sean Redmond went off. I saw all the letters we addressed a week ago had not yet been posted, but Sean assured me he had spoken to Peter Mulligan. I had a word with Toni Curran who is deep in committees resisting some proposal to build on a field the local tenants own among them, but which the Council proposes to acquire for a speculative builder, or some such matter. Maurice Cornforth sent a letter. That Panther books are looking at Connolly with a view to a reissue as a paperback was his news. Klugman wanted articles for Marxism Today and a blurb, and Idris Cox had a query as to the last day for the IAC meeting, which now falls inconveniently on a Friday.
January 24 Wednesday: I worked on the paper all day. Sean Redmond was in good form. He had done two articles and all the work seemed in good shape, and there was no moodiness. The CDU [the Labour Party-based Campaign for Democracy in Ulster] who had rung up last night to ask if we would withdraw a reference to the Republic from a resolution we sent to their conference on Sunday, rang up again. We said we wouldn’t and Paddy Byrne climbed down. They have brought out a paper with Jim Argue as Editor, four pages, printed at Ripley and atrociously laid out. I decided on a “toccata in E” to scatter them! I rang Tony Coughlan and asked him to get me a lot of photographs from the Irish Times. We can thus display our superiority on the technical field and safeguard circulation.
In the evening a young Welsh nationalist, of Irish descent, Michael Keane came to speak. He was a dashing young fellow not a day older than 22, who had the most extraordinary combination of ideas. It was like a Christmas pudding into which he poured one exotic ingredient after another, meanwhile giving it a round of stirring. The countries that excited his admiration were Sweden, Finland and Israel, with Yugoslavia and Rumania behind. Russia and China were big and nasty. He was a “socialist” – now a brand of “Welsh Socialism” appears. He was not entirely free from a desire to cut a dash and did some posturing, like “pop” singers who think their music is aided by a liberal display of front teeth and suitable woggling of the eyes. He was not above lecturing the Irish on their lost revolution, all his ideas upon it being culled from bourgeois sources. At the same time, as Bobby Heatley acutely observed afterwards, he showed the Welsh movement had all the ingredients of a genuine national struggle. They were fed up with the centralised British state and had economic, political and cultural grievances which they wanted to right themselves. And he told us that all of his colleagues are young men like himself. I am glad to have seen the day.
January 25 Thursday: I continued with the paper. Peter Mulligan was in during the evening. Tony Coughlan sent the photographs, so that was all well done.
January 26 Friday: I continued again with the paper. I still have a cold and find work rather a burden. In the evening I was in Holloway with Sean Redmond.
January 27 Saturday: I finished the paper – rather late. In the morning Sean Redmond, Dorothy Deighan and later Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly and Pat Hensey were in. There is a curious inward-looking tendency. Joe Deighan is intoxicated with the Welsh and Scottish nationalist revivals, is giving out a few words of atrociously pronounced Welsh and going to the Celtic League, and the thing reflects itself in Central London Branch talks. Now they have come along with the idea of a St. Patrick’s Night social in the premises – back to Manchester methods. Sean was of course furious and says they turn in on themselves, and he is quite right. In the evening I was in Paddington with Charlie Cunningham.
January 28 Sunday (Liverpool): I went to Manchester on the incredibly slow train which took me a tour of the Midlands by way of supererogation. I reached All Saints at 2.30 pm. – the meeting was called for 2 pm. Tom Redmond was there, John McClelland, the Welshman from Liverpool who is in the Celtic League, and later (much later) Michael Crowe. Mai Nolan was also there from Clann na hEireann. I had a curious impression. Manchester is in a state of sad decline. And everywhere there are signs of confusion of objectives. After the meeting Tom Redmond showed me a letter from Cathal Goulding protesting at the inclusion of the name of Brett in the Martyrs’ plaque [which Tom Redmond and the Manchester CA branch had spent much time and energy on]. That is fair enough. They did not consult us and I told them they had made a mistake. But my bold Goulding wants to meet Tom Redmond in Liverpool “and settle things over a glass of beer”. I told Tom to reply that he was referring the matter to his EC in London. I was angry at the interference, and at the hopeless political incompetence and opportunism that had provoked it. Tom Redmond now says Dooley did it without permission and issued a statement to the press. I do not believe this, as I have no confidence in Tom. He does not deliberately mislead; he merely lies himself the easiest way out of criticism. He has no stability or discipline. I well recall that he and the others were all for Dooley’s nonsense.
Then John McClelland in Liverpool is as bad. While we in London are stiffening our attitude, he can only think of Labour MPs. Be careful the muck doesn’t come off them on to you, I told them. I drew the conclusion that we make a mistake not to hold more frequent EC meetings. We are losing control of the provinces and they are being wafted by any words that blow out of the Republicans or the Irish Centre [ie.the Liverpool Irish Centre, a community social centre]. I will take this up next week. The money will have to be found.
The Nolans drove me to Liverpool, as their car had more room than the McPeakes, which John McClelland is running. They are very nice people indeed, such as you do not often meet these days, shrewd, warm and civilised. They said their purpose in going to Manchester was to promote unity and I suspect Cathal Goulding was on about this when he was in Liverpool just before Christmas. Unity all right, but interference, no! Business can only be done between independent equals.
In the evening I heard on the radio that the Cuban Government is starting a show trial and I was very sorry to learn of it. But anything is possible these days. If, of course, it is true!
January 29 Monday: I spent the day on things I had unfortunately had to bring from London: the blurb for Klugman of his special Connolly issue [ie. of the monthly “Marxism Today”] and the document that Idris Cox wants for the IAC meeting next Friday week. And thanks to the mild weather I managed to do a little on one of the borders, where I am thinking of growing pot herbs.
January 30 Tuesday: I cleared off a mass of correspondence, mostly to the USA. A few of the Libraries I wrote to have responded, but others have not. I thanked all who had.
January 31 Wednesday: At last I got started on the book shelf. I decided to do the Irish story [a general chapter in the Mellows biography on the background to the Irish national struggle] while I am awaiting more material from America – if it comes!
February 1 Thursday: I continued with the same Chapter. In the evening John McClelland called. He told me that Tom Redmond had shown Cathal Goulding’s letter to him to Mai Nolan – of all things – and that he would not have seen it but that he demanded to know what it was. This confirms my opinion of the utter incapacity of Tom in political matters.
February 2 Friday: I continued the chapter and then ran against the usual complete contradictions in the source books. It will mean a day at Colindale to find out what happened. It turned cold in the evening and the place was deluged with hailstones.
February 3 Saturday (London): I returned to London after a most irritating series of delays; thanks to the shocking bus service I missed the fast train by one minute and had to go through Birmingham. I had only time to snatch a bite and go to meet Pat Hensey and Charlie Cunningham in Hammersmith – and even then I missed them. I met them later, half-way to the Broadway and we did reasonably well. I felt rather tired. I wish to goodness I could occasionally get a break!
February 4 Sunday: We had a Standing Committee in the morning. I think gradually the guns are being got round into the right positions. But it is slow. It was agreed that we reinforce the decision that branches may only deal with national organisations to which they are not affiliated through the national office. This should assist in controlling Tom Redmond. I also got them to decide to call the EC more regularly, and Pat Bond was pleased at this, also to hold it in Birmingham. This represented a victory over policies of retreat, of which probably Joe Deighan is as much the exponent as anybody. Sean Redmond will go forward if given a lead. But Joe Deighan was at work today and could not attend.
In the afternoon there was an emergency meeting on the position of the Irish Democrat. It was typical of Joe Deighan that he took the position that the price must go up, but that we should “keep it down as long as possible”. Who decides what is possible? Not Joe. I asked him point blank where was the money to come from. He could give no answer. But Toni Curran had announced her intention of drawing on the book fund. I knew Dorothy Deighan would go mad, so I wanted to put Joe on the spot first by asking what else we could do. I knew he would avoid any position on the other thing. At the same time the decision is not easy. Joe O’Connor and Henry the building worker were both for an immediate price increase and fight it out. I thought this interesting. The most hopeful sign was Henry’s interest.
I heard from Pat Bond about Terry Kennedy’s position. He is in hospital and Pat will be surprised if he ever comes out. It is true he had cancer but, says Pat Bond, it is now said that it is “not active”. However, when he was being treated with pills he got the notion that he was being poisoned. When they were stopped he concluded he was being neglected. He then swallowed all that he had left in an effort to finish himself off. Apparently the result was a form of muscular paralysis, and now the unfortunate man is back in the hospital with the slender prospects Pat Bond envisages.
February 5 Monday (Southampton): I was in the office in the morning, and afternoon, then took the 6.30 pm. to Southampton. The train left at 6.45. At Southampton I had to get a taxi to go to the Students Union to lecture on Connolly. But there was no taxi – not for some time. I was thus pitchforked into immediately addressing the audience of 25 – quite bright young people. Miriam Daly was there, and she introduced me to two of her research students. They had arranged no overnight accommodation, so I had to catch the 10.12. One of the students fetched his car from where it was parked, I could judge a mile away, and ran me down to the wrong side of the station, that used to be open, but is now closed so as to discourage passengers. So I missed the train. He drove me to a hotel. Over a drink he explained that he was going up for secretary of the Student Union. He was in his second year, studying, inter alia, politics. What would he do? “I think I will look for a career in politics.” “How can they teach politics in a University? Are they not a matter of opinion?” “They teach the history and form of institutions. But it is hard not to accept what they say in political matters. You have to keep on the alert.” So it is a matter of staffing the lesser offices of state with people trained to maintain them?” “More or less that.”
February 6 Tuesday: I was up early enough, but as a result of having to wait nearly 25 minutes for a bus to take me to the station I had to travel on the 9.38, which was described to me as “semi-fast” by the booking clerk – in other words damned slow. I went to the British Museum for the book the Superintendent had written to say he had kept in reserve for me. There was no trace of it. It had been there a year and had been specially catalogued as a result of my request. The state of disintegration of English society is simply unbelievable.
In the evening only Elsie O’Dowling and Chris Sullivan appeared at the Irish Committee. I had a drink afterwards with Chris – a curious person indeed. He said something about suicide and that a man could do it because of the boredom of living! He confirmed that Joe Deighan had told him that he resigned the presidency because I took the chair at the O’Riordan meeting and he wanted to do so.
February 7 Wednesday: A letter came from Maire Comerford saying that Francis Carty of the Sunday Press had some important information about Mellows. So I wrote to him. I also wrote to Maire Comerford, Charles T. Rice, Peadar O’Donnell and others.
There was a curious atmosphere at the Central London Branch meeting. I detected the same malaise as there is in Manchester. There were complaints because Jim Kelly sat doing the Democrat accounts instead of coming to the meeting. He had missed coming last night and had been late tonight. Seamus Treacy was talking about “Celtic Heritage” – nothing about Celtic future! Plainly they are avoiding awkward questions and the Labour debacle has confused them. This was shown in a sharp interchange between Joe Deighan and Sean Redmond. Jim Argue reported the CDU meeting. He had spotted things Sean had not noticed, namely that Fitt sprang his emergency resolution for action on the so-called “Convention” not to discuss Stormont affairs at Westminster, as a result of the passing of our resolution. He gave an optimistic estimate. Sean Redmond disputed his explanation and gave an account of the “bankruptcy” of the CDU – would it last another 9 months? Joe became excited and said Sean should not say such things. Sean Redmond replied that he would criticise as he liked. And for a few minutes there was high ding-dong. Then the whole thing flared again but against an atmosphere of sullenness, on the question of the Social. Peter Mulligan showed himself very defeatist, and when I learned he was with Charlie Cunningham last night, I mentally blamed the latter.
February 8 Thursday: The weather was chilly and damp with an odd sleet shower – how tired I am of the winter! This is the worst month of the year always. I was in the office in the morning. I mentioned to Sean Redmond my uneasiness about the Central London branch. He says he has sensed dissatisfaction for a week or two, and blames Joe Deighan for not pulling his weight. He thinks it is lack of confidence in the Labour movement, but last night he rather showed over-optimism. Sean says he had his facts wrong. He also blames him for the muddle over the social. From this centre, he thinks, a mood of defeatism spreads. I suggested a one-day school with JR Campbell. Letters came from Tony Coughlan and Brian Farrington. In the evening I went to South London where they seem to be doing well.
February 9 Friday: I went to the British Museum in the morning to look at the catalogue of the Maloney papers. I found he died in 1952 – Bulmer Hobson had told me 1936, and the BMA [British Medical Association?] had given me (I think)1962! No wonder The Scotsman could not find the obituary. Then in the afternoon I was in the office.
In the evening there took place the International Affairs Committee, and Elsie O’Dowling, Chris Sullivan, Sean Redmond, Joe Deighan and young Andy Barr – now 24! – were there, together with Jack Woddis, R.Palme Dutt, R. Page Arnot and others. Joe Deighan was quite enthusiastic, but I find that, like Pat Clancy in the past, he views development through a kind of distorting mirror, the mirror of his not quite materialistic concepts. This is what gives him his bouts of depression and tendency to pursue side-issues. All present were genuinely pleased at the improved position in Ireland.
February 10 Saturday: In the morning I called into the office for a few minutes, then went to Colindale, partly for the Clare Election of 1917, partly for that damned ship! I did not have time to look through the vast American newspapers.
I saw Sean Redmond for a brief spell in the evening. He told me he is going to Slough to try to restore the sales dropped by Cooley. I would say that he has taken notice of the criticisms levelled a month or two ago, and is working very well. Also the (unfortunate) atmosphere in Central London is putting him on his metal. This morning Charlie Cunningham declined to renew his membership, and Sean is now convinced that my guess about his influence on Peter Mulligan was right. I advised him to go very cautiously. I think we might undertake a “general offensive” soon in which all this could be forgotten. Disillusion with Labour is the basis, of course.
In the evening I was with Charlie Cunningham in Hammersmith. We did very well. I did not of course advert to his present mood. I know he does not get on very well with Sean Redmond – I saw an example last Wednesday when Sean’s Dublin crudeness irritated Charlie on this very question of the subscription, though Sean had not the slightest intention of annoying him.
Just before I left to meet Charlie there was a telephone call from Roy Johnston who was in London. He wanted to track down some of the Clann na hEireanns. But he has, he said, no business with them. He had come to London for a rest. “I can’t get a moment’s peace unless I leave Dublin.” But why London? And why no warning? He can get a cheap air trip to Timbuctoo [Roy Johnston was working for Aer Lingus at the time]. It connects with a remark of Mairin to Helga. “Get that man helping Cathal in the house. He will go mad if he stays in that room any longer. He’s there morning, noon and night.” Apparently after spending two years touring the country he decided to devote himself to theoretical work on a grand scale. But since then Mairin turned against Helga!
We heard of the death of Sidney Silverman. I only met him once, when I saw him in the lobby of the House of Commons and asked him to support the release of the Republican prisoners. He was unsympathetic. “I only tackle one or two things that I’m interested in,” was his reply, and he got on with his campaign against capital punishment.
February 11 Sunday (Liverpool): I was in the office for a short time’ then I caught the 2.30 to Liverpool. It took 4 1/2 hours – slow for the olden days! In Staffordshire I began to see snow on the ground. In Cheshire it was thick. The streets were clear in Liverpool and Birkenhead but at 124 Mount Road there were drifts 18″ deep. I had to get a coal shovel to dig open the garage door to get the spade out to clear the paths! This was very surprising, as I was unaware there was snow lying in the north. I would say there had been a 3″ fall. There was a letter from Muriel [Muriel MacSwiney, widow of Cork Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney who died on hunger strike in 1920], and Eamon Martin, and the Irish Advocate of New York agreeing to print a letter. And a damned nuisance too, the house was ice-cold, and the telephone dead.
February 12 Monday: Examining the snow, I found to my surprise that part of two lawns were clear and there was drifting on both sides of the door. I concluded the drifts must be roof falls. Then, round at the back, I saw the insulators from the roof lying amid the two-foot roof falls – and there was Jean Hack. She explained the phenomena. There had been more than one snow fall. What I saw was “only what was left”. Indeed, she remarked, “I never saw such snow since I was in the land army.” That would be in the notorious winter of 1942, just after the climate changed. It was a foot deep on her garage roof. All the telephone lines were down. Then after the first fall slipped from the roofs there was another substantial fall. I dug the back door clear. Then it began to rain. I had to go into Birkenhead for a new typewriter ribbon. And then it began to pour. But there is so much snow about that it still remains after the rain. I wrote to Muriel, and to Mrs Tom Clarke who is now in Liverpool. Apparently Muriel is in occasional touch with her and has a high opinion of her, as she has of Briscoe. But her hatred of the Catholic Church is inextinguishable, and indeed she looks under the table for evidence of its plots – she may even be worse now than she was in 1945!
February 13 Tuesday: I worked most of the day on the article for Klugman and practically finished it by evening. But during the afternoon an unexpected event took place, which rather pleased me. I had walked to the post office to get a stamp to send a letter to Muriel and was coming back. A car pulled up. Its driver beckoned me, all smiles. Who was it, I asked the vaguely familiar figure. “Geoffrey Bloor”[See Volume 2]. At once I saw the youth through the age. He drove me to 124 Mount Road, where I produced a bottle of beer to celebrate the occasion, there being nothing stronger in the house. He told me he had been working for British Railways in York City until about four years ago. Then he returned to Liverpool to avoid the threat of demotion. He is living in Rock Park, in a large house once the property of a diamond merchant. The whole district is threatened by the Corporation’s plan to drive a motorway along the Mersey, and the Dock Board’s proposal to give ICI an oil terminal. This is being opposed by Levers, as liable to silt up their frontages. There was until a few years ago a model of the Mersey at the NPL. It was destroyed on grounds of economy, so now they can argue as they please, the pack of fools. Bloor told me that his eldest daughter has finished college and is in statistics. His second, a boy, has some postgraduate work in biochemistry at Cardiff, and his youngest, also a boy, is in his last year at school and is good at mathematics. He told me that FM Jones is no longer County Architect for Cardigan – which Mervyn Jones told me he was around 1955 – but is “leading a research team at Liverpool University” and lives in Oxton. He has a daughter at the University. He asked about Alan Morton whom he thought was at Liverpool. I imagine he means John Morton [ie. one of Alan Morton’s two sons]. After he went I was wondering when I met him last. It must have been in Liverpool around 1945 or possibly 1946, when I was here a few days, and spent quite a bit of time with AmTh [not known whom these initials stand for] whom I met at the Philarmonic Concert when Sargent [Sir Malcolm Sargent, the conductor] showed the film. He still has the depression in the forehead caused by the accident in Abyssinia, and a slight puzzlement as if there was a touch of brain damage – a pity; he was a very bright young fellow in his time. I suppose he would be about 50 now.
February 15 Wednesday: Much of the snow had gone, though the heaps remain. I decided to move rosebushes from back garden to front. I bought a wheelbarrow, some fertilisers and some seed. I sent off the article to Klugman and wrote to Sean Redmond, since the telephone is likely to be off weeks.
February 15 Thursday: I managed to get in some work on the book. But the weather remains very cold and trying.
February 16 Friday: Again I spent a day writing. But it is a damn nuisance having to go downstairs all the time to get coal. The fire is eating it!
February 17 Saturday: I went into Grange Road to hurry up the wheelbarrow. It came in the afternoon. There is still snow heaped in the garden, but to my surprise the telephone engineers came and repaired the line. There was a letter from Mrs Tom Clarke, saying that her sister Madge was ill and might die any minute or linger on months; also one from Marie O’Kelly with a message from De Valera; and two from Muriel MacSwiney. I did a little more digging. I have to make a fresh bed into which to have the front border plants moved while I got some repairs done to a wall, and also clear out the old beds. I spent most of the day however on the book – a very tricky chapter full of significant detail.
February 18 Sunday: I got a letter with the book. Also I spoke with John McClelland. They are to hold a concert and a meeting with Fitt. They feel scared of defending Connolly and seem to want the party to do so [ie.the local CP] – better than it should not be done at all. But the Birkenhead Trades Council want Betty Sinclair, which is good. Yesterday the birth certificate of Dr Maloney came. The BMA [British Medical Association] were exactly ten years out, as I found out at the British Museum. There is a sister mentioned in it.
February 19 Monday: I was getting on famously today. But tomorrow I have to go to London! That is the trouble. By the time I am in the mood for writing I must take my mind of it.
February 20 Tuesday (London): We had the Irish Committee in the evening – Joe Deighan, Elsie O’Dowling, Sean Redmond, Chris Sullivan and young Andy Barr. I had a drink with Chris afterwards.
February 21 Wednesday: I worked on the paper. Sean Redmond went to London airport to meet Maire Comerford and at 8 pm. we assembled at the Conway Hall [For a Connolly Association meeting on Northern Ireland]. To start off on the wrong foot I asked Mrs Jeger [Labour MP for St Pancras] if she was Mrs Ewing! [Winifred Ewing, Scottish Nationalist MP] – on the basis that one MP must look much like another. But then Mrs Ewing came in – I thought she was about 27 years old, but I was assured she was 38 and had three children. There was some delay while Enid Lakeman arrived. Then Mrs Ewing wanted to go to the lavatory, and Maggie Hunter who had come specially to meet her (she had not met her before) couldn’t find her. Maurice Bowles was there, and Betty Harrison. It was indeed one of the best attended meetings we ever had, with May Malone, and Kay Phoenix, Elsie O’Dowling and Paddy Clancy smoking his pipe like an elder statesman, sitting next to Joe Deighan smoking his pipe like another elder statesman, Eamon MacLaughlin, Barbara, and Claude Cockburn [well-known leftwing journalist]. We got started at last and all went well. Mrs Ewing at the start was trying to argue with me that the Twenty-Six counties had complete political independence, so apart from the Six there was no issue – and I was trying to persuade her that because of the Six, the Twenty-Six were constrained. Then Sean Redmond began to speak and spoke better than I ever heard him. She listened. She began to rummage in her notes. She whispered, “I’m getting worried. I know nothing about Ireland.” “Speak about Scotland,” said I. And she did. She was cock-a-hoop because an opinion poll had put the SNP as the leading party in Scotland. Labour is paying for its treachery! Lena was good, and so was Enid Lakeman, and Maire Comerford gave reminiscences which were greatly appreciated.
We all went to the “Enterprise” in Red Lion Street. Fred O’Shea, the snake, was there. I did bid good evening to him. But nobody else even noticed him. Charlie Cunningham and Pat Hensey were in great form, and with Mrs Ewing sat Claude Cockburn, a mile high and drunk as a lord. As he went out I recalled to him when I last met him – in the Newsroom of the Daily Worker in 1938! “Oh, yes! I’m sure it was a good story! Ha Ha!” He could hardly stand straight. Then I went to Joe Deighan’s with Maire Comerford and she was talking away, vastly enjoying herself. She said she did not think the Wolfe Tone Society would come to anything. They were too “innocent”! She told Sean Redmond that nobody in Dublin listens to the old people like herself now. Either they don’t listen at all, or they listen politely and take no notice.
February 22 Thursday: Sean Redmond and I took Maire Comerford for lunch to the Indian restuarant in Curzon Street. She spoke of Mrs Mackey, who claims to be a great friend of hers. She had written accusing the Connolly Association of “dragging the name of Connolly in the mud” and I had just drafted a strong reply to be published over Sean Redmond’s name. She said that she met the same Mrs Mackey last year. Her maiden name was Maire O’Neill, and around 1922-3 a young woman of that name was discovered wandering round North Co. Dublin in Cumann na mBan uniform, appearing here, there and everywhere, and appeared to have some connection with a certain police official. Accordingly Maire Comerford and some other Cumann na mBan officers invited her to a house. On the steps she was held up with revolvers and whisked away in a car for a “court martial”. She was sentenced to death. But apparently Austin Stack got to hear of it and sent orders post haste that she mustn’t be shot. “I’m sure we didn’t intend to shoot her,” said Maire Comerford. However, she was taken down to the North Wall and put on the boat to Liverpool and told not to come back. “I asked her if she was the same person,” said Maire, “But she didn’t answer me.” So apparently she is walking around thinking she has taken Maire Comerford in. A fine person to preside over the Liverpool Irish Centre and the “old IRA”. I was glad I’d written the strong reply. Perhaps the information might stiffen up John McClelland. Later Sean Redmond and I saw Idris Cox and in the evening I went to the Festival Hall for Mozart and Schumann’s fourth.
February 23 Friday: I finished the paper. In the evening I was out in Holloway with Peter Mulligan, who (like Charlie Cunningham) is in better form.
February 24 Saturday: I went to Colindale to look up a few things after calling to the office. In the evening I went to Kilburn with Charlie Cunningham. He tells me that the great “beat the budget” boom is in full swing with enough new cars reaching his place of work to jam the roads for miles round.
February 25 Sunday: The Standing Committee took place in the morning. The ZAPU [Zimbabwe African People’s Union, a CA sub-tenant in No. 283 Grays Inn Road] position was discussed. On Friday one of their people came in and asked if he could use the telephone. He did. Then he went out. The Exchange rang back and said the call cost £11. It was to Lusaka, Zambia! When Sean Redmond went up to get the £11 your man had gone! I know there was something wrong as they were a month late moving into the premises and have only paid half the rent since. Now Sean learns that there are political divisions in Zambia. Apparently those sitting safely in London think those in Africa should use physical force. That might be true, but it would be safe to let them decide for themselves. There have been Court cases and attempts to disfrancise the London ZAPU or disaffiliate them. We do not, and cannot, judge the rights and wrongs of it. But we suspect that the MCF request that we take them had the alternative motive of disentangling themselves, as seemingly they have plenty of room for them up there! We decided it was pay up or move out.
After the meeting I came to Liverpool.
February 26 Monday (Liverpool): I did not get a great deal done in the day. The bank of snow is still at the rear of the house – only 9″ deep now and not more than two yards long and one across. It continues cold. In the evening John McClelland called and collected the film, “The Dawn”, which I had brought up [an early film on the Irish War of Independence]. During the war it was shown in the Picton Hall and AmTh was the chairman and I was the speaker. Then it went to Bill O’Toole’s in Preston and remained there close on 20 years, when O’Toole found it in an air raid shelter and told Malin [a CA member in Liverpool] about it, and so we recovered it. The owners had gone out of existence and all copies were destroyed, apart I believe from one in Killarney where it was made, so we kept it. The soundtrack is poor, but it is still a very interesting show.
John McClelland was driving the McPeakes’ car and going rounding people up for the show which is on Thursday. But the organisation is stepping back into the position I pulled it out of a few years ago – propaganda and culture. We must return to agitation. At 11 pm. I went to Lime Street for the Glasgow train.
February 27 Tuesday (Aberdeen): There was fog at Glasgow. But when I got to Edinburgh it was a brilliant mild day with a west wind. What a change! I called in to the Scotsman and found Maloney’s death notice. He was an MBE[Member of the British Empire order] – I wonder how he got it. This would be strange when he was living in New York. At the same time he was also an FRSE [Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh] and LLD – obviously a remarkable man. He had two sisters in Edinburgh and his father was a “watchmaker”.
I took the train to Aberdeen – a delightful journey along the coast which I enjoyed, and Brian Farrington with three students met me. We went for a meal, and then to the Students’ Union. About 17 people arrived, including Owen Dudley Edwards and his wife and one or two party people. There was a lively discussion, and a young boy told me he was from the very area of Edinburgh where Connolly was reared. He had spoken to old people, but none had heard of its being called “Little Ireland.” So I take it this was said by other people. The Irish would hardly say it themselves. I did not get his name but I thought him a very promising youngster. Then there was another from Antrim stock.
Afterwards Brian Farrington drove us in Olivia’s car to Dudley Edwards’s place. He produced whiskey and there was talk till very late. He says Tom O’Neill is not a professor at Galway, after all, but lecturer. But he’s well on his way to a professorship when Hayes McCoy dies. We were talking about Frank Pakenham, and I recalled the time I used to meet him in Oxford, and he turned Catholic to get the votes in one ward. But he lost the election. He recalled how Desmond Ryan tackled him after a meeting he addressed in TCD. Owen Dudley Edwards spent quite a time with Ryan and edited his book on Stephens which he did not finish. He is writing an attack on Griffith, which is no harm except that he talks of a “reactionary strand in Irish nationalism”. I questioned the use of the word “strand”. But in a way it is just what Connolly said. Edwards did not in conversation give any class basis.
February 28 Wednesday: Brian Farrington called for breakfast in true university style and Mrs Edwards produced “Eggs Benedict”, very well prepared. Then they went to give lectures and I walked round the City – the only town of importance in these islands that I have up to now never visited. Like all Scottish towns it is full of interesting and curious buildings, and though of course they are doing their best to spoil it, the process has not yet gone far. Brian Farrington met me at 11.30 and we drank lager and talked. I was pleased to hear that his parents are busy on the defence of Dublin’s buildings and canals. He has bought a house in Aberdeen and in the meantime Olivia will keep her flat in Dundee and come home each weekend.
I left for Glasgow at 1.5 pm. – another perfect day, cold in Aberdeen, but mild in Glasgow. I found the boys at the Connolly Association meeting. J McGregor, Travers, late as usual, Alf Jamieson and the red headed YCL, the liveliest of them all, now running his own car and reading everything. I spoke on the subject of Collins. The Clann na hEireanns were in the pub but did not attend the meeting. Their leader is O’Doherty [ie. GerryO’Doherty], a bearded or more properly unshaven Dubliner very similar in appearance to Luke Kelly, though bigger and tougher and wilder. I think he enjoys being a “tough looking customer”. He had been to the Clann na hEireann annual meeting at Birmingham and they were all delighted at the swing to the left. Travers has chopped off his beard, left the buses, and is now doing parts on Scottish television. He has no more discipline or idea of politics and I think spends all his time with the Sinn Fein. We went to his flat and his mother – a grand woman – produced tea. There one of the Clann na hEireanns told me that at Birmingham they had removed all restrictions from membership of the Clann, but the Executive retained the power of expulsion at discretion. I said to myself, here is the bid to absorb the Connolly Association. If it fails we absorb them. They told me that the so called “Irish Militant” is being distributed by Clyde Books [probably the Glasgow CPGB bookshop]. I was very surprised. They can’t know what it is. Finally I caught the 11.55 pm. to Liverpool.
February 29 Thursday (Liverpool): I had had a good night going north. I got little sleep coming south. However, I spent the day making things ready and did not attempt any serious work. I wrote to Sean Redmond, Brian Farrington and others. The photostats had come from the British Museum.
In the evening I learned from Margaret McClelland that the film show tonight was a powerful success, with 50 present.
March 1 Friday: I worked on the book for a good part of the day but also completed the transference of the roses from the former rose-bed at the back of the house to new positions in the front garden.
March 2 Saturday: I worked on Chapter 9 in the morning – there is a mass of work still to be done – then in the afternoon went to see Mrs Tom Clarke in Rainhill. I got the impression she had moved to the right, though this may not be so. She was less strident, more restrained, if anything more “reasonable”. Naturally she is worried about her sister Madge, who has been five months lying helpless being fed on milk. “I hope when I go it is like that,” she said, snapping her fingers. I wondered about this change. Of course she went Clann na Poblachta [ie. joined or supported Sean MacBride’s republican political party founded in 1946].
She was quite favourable to Collins. She did not confirm Gregg Ashe’s opinion that she was sorry she got him appointed to the National Aid. One could say she preferred Collins to De Valera. She got Collins the job on the strength of his willingness to go for another Rising. She says Collins reorganised the IRB after the release of the prisoners and that there was no proper Supreme Council till then. MacCartan, O’Doherty and Liam Clarke were not acting authoritatively. She paid Clarke to travel the country with money sent by Devoy. But MacCartan got him to “short-circuit” her, something she found outd by accident later. She had had Tansell’s book and possibly this had influenced her. Her younger son, Emmet, came in. He was very anti-De Valera. As he drove me to Prescott he rremarked, “While Mick Collins was fighting, De Valera was studying Macchiavelli.” He said that the essence of Macchiavelli’s teaching was feathering one’s nest while appearing to be politically pure. Not till he read Macchiavelli did he understand De Valera. But this makes him more articulate than he was. He did not strike me as being a sharp-witted person and he seemed to find it hard to put into words his political judgments. Also, he never smiled, which his mother did. This may be the result of years working with mental patients, or lack of a sense of humour.
In the evening I did some more work on the “Irish Revolution”, Chapter nine.
Incidentally, I mentioned to Mrs Tom Clarke that Desmond Ryan’s posthumous book on the Fenians had been edited by Dudley Edwards. She replied that she had little time for Desmond Ryan. “Any man who is infatuated with another man is unreliable. He was infatuated with Pearse. He was not one of his pupils. He was in college in Dublin to escape conscription. His parents were in London. I had a long controversy with him in the press. Tom told me he was the last to leave the Post Office. Ryan denied it.” She explained that Clarke had gone back to check nobody was behind, and probably Ryan did not know this. Clarke had told her this in Kilmainham.
March 3 Sunday: I got on well with Chapter 9 and made some progress. I spoke to Roose William on the phone regarding the invitation of the Celtic Youth Congress to address them at Bangor. I suggested we might try a Connolly meeting at the same time. He did not know what the Celtic Youth Congress was – nor do I.
March 4 Monday: I wrote to Miss Kilpatrick of the Celtic Youth Congress and said I might manage to speak. I had spoken to Tecwyn Evans whose telephone number was given me by John McClelland. He told me it was he who had suggested that the Dublins invite me. They were discussing Europe. I thought it highly desirable to put a spragg in the wheel of the EEC. If we could get Plaid Cymru and the SNP [ie. the Scottish National Party] off it, it would be a great thing. I wrote to Tony Coughlan along these lines.
March 5 Tuesday: I finished the chapter – and no harm. Then I realised that I must check all the sources for 1919: Dorothy Macardles’ book is the myth of origin of Fianna Fail, just as Beasley’s is the myth of origin of Cumann na nGael [Piaras Beaslai, author of “Michael Collins and the Making of a New Ireland”]. I only see this as I wade through the period now. It is quite clear that Fiona was right. Mrs Stewart called in the evening.
March 6 Wednesday: A letter from Sean Redmond said that Chetsega had been replaced by the ZAPUS in Lusaka and he had raised enough money in England to pay the rent he contracted for and the telephone bill, but he did not propose to take the rooms. I rang Sean and said we would have to cancel the publication of the Connolly pamphlet. Betty Harrison is anxious for rooms for the Women’s Assembly, so perhaps she will take it.
March 7 Thursday: The last trace of snow melted today – only today! I did a few jobs in the garden. I am making a new compost heap and removing the one at the back of the house. I have two cuttings of the lilac Phyllis was fond of, and if I can get them to grow elsewhere then I will cut down those at the back and clean the tangle. It is strange that they throw off no shoots from the roots. If I could make them do this I would not need the cuttings.
March 8 Friday: The dry cool weather with the endless northwest wind goes on, and as we are so near the coast there is little sunshine. Still, I did some work in the garden and began studying the Dail Eireann period. Mrs Phillips called for a minute.
March 9 Saturday: I spent another day divided between the garden and Dail Eireann and got a certain amount of work done.
March 10 Sunday: I spent most of the day in the garden, moved the compost, dug it in, started the new heap, and did plenty on the front of the house. I begin to see signs of finishing.
March 11 Monday: A letter came from Maire Comerford. She has written to Miss Hearn urging her to supply me with the papers I need. Also there was an urgent note from Peter Mulligan to whom I promised an article for the Camden Race Relations journal. I wrote it hastily and posted it off to him. As for the rest, I continued operations in the garden and started preparing the netting to protect peas and lettuces and planned the kitchen garden as completely as possible.
March 12 Tuesday: Another cool dry rather windy day from the northwest. But I made great progress with the garden. I made the net and set the peas and lettuce. I have the compost heap moved and the last of the “jungle” is beginning to give way.
March 13 Wednesday: Another day in the garden. The greater part of the preparation of beds is now complete. I had the garlic set and the wynwyn dyn [“Sir Onion” in Welsh] dug, which has been greatly increased by sowing the viviparous sets. I told the Celtics I would go to Bangor and wrote to Maire Comerford and others. I rang Geoffrey Bloor to invite him and his wife to dinner.
March 14 Thursday: Mrs Phillips came, and I spent what should be the final day in the garden. I sawed up much of the timber cut from the trees and burned the small twigs without the incinerator I ordered, which has not yet come. The BBC is very excited over the gold speculation. It seems to have the smell of world economic crisis. What a pack of utter fools they all are! Every kind of explanation is sought except that the situation is brought about precisely by themselves and their method of production! I would not like the economic results, but at the same time I would not be sorry to see a few of their little schemes nicely upset.
March 15 Friday (London): I went to Liverpool in the morning looking for a vacuum cleaner but found none to satisfy me. So I took the afternoon train to London. Sean Redmond had gone. But I met Joe Deighan and we went to Holloway. He told me that Dorothy has what he calls quinsy, and he has had influenza. He is very busy. There is much sickness. He tells me economics are going crazy. A dealer came in and gave him £1 for an old medicine bottle. “I’ll sell it for five,” he said. Joe was incredulous. The dealer replied, “They’ll buy anything now. They don’t trust the money.” He tells me that Sean Redmond has completely failed to assimilate his wife to the movement. He had tackled them both. The reality is of course that she has no interest in it. This was a piece of Jane Tate’s match-making. And of course there is no reason why an Englishwoman should grow interested in an Irish Movement in England.
March 16 Saturday: I saw Dorothy Deighan in the morning. I think she is in better form. Certainly the old oil can seems to have eased the works. She told me that much of the dispensing that Joe has to do is for “sickness of the central nervous system”. The cause? She says “financial worries, mortgages beyond what people can pay”. And of course the whole gigantic crazy credit structure might any minute come toppling down. No wonder they’ll “buy anything”. I saw Sean Redmond in the morning. The sales have been poor. Toni Curran says that his wife is bringing pressure to bear on him to reduce his own contribution. She had tackled her after the Markievicz meeting but got no real satisfaction. It is vitally important to find a way to bring her in. But it is not going to be easy.
While we were there a young Irishman was waiting outside No. 281. He asked for Maguire or some such name. He had been told that if he was there at 11 am. he would receive his week’s wages. Of course there was no such office. Presumably he had worked a week for some “labour only” sub-contractor.
I was in Hammersmith in the evening with Pat Hensey and we did very well. One man I used to see in Kilburn but is now in Fulham told me that he and all his family used to vote Labour, but from now on it will be the Conservatives. “And I know,” he said, “that people say those are the big fellows. But if they get the money they’ll give some of it to us – not like this shower of bastards!”
March 17 Sunday: I read the papers, and then went to the office and cleared off correspondence to R.Palme Dutt, J.Roose Williams, Tony Coughlan, Roy Johnston and others. Chris Sullivan came in. He has secured a re-training grant and proposes to become a sheet-metal worker. I wonder if he will manage it. I gave him a little homily on seizing his opportunity and making sure he maintains good relations with his tutors and not becoming rebellious over abstract principles. But I fear he will find too much wrong to be able to keep quiet. We will see. John McClelland told me on the phone that they had a great crowd last night in Liverpool.
March 18 Monday: I was busy on the paper all day and indeed was in the office until late at night.
March 19 Tuesday: Another day on the paper – apart form buying a half-dozen of Chianti to “beat the budget”. There were very gloomy forebodings in Soho, but when the results were known I must only have saved 6d. a bottle, and I’ll drink more than that! Jim Kelly came in in the evening, to do the accounts.
March 20 Wednesday: Most of the day I was on the paper. But in the evening Stan Orme came to the Central Branch. There was a good attendance, about 19, with Sean Redmond and Susan, Joe Deighan, Dorothy, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Peter Mulligan, Tadhg Egan and Vivien Morton and Betty O’Shea. Orme gave a description of the Labour Party meeting and Budget speech. He was the first to speak at the meeting. He spoke of the extraordinary applause given to Jenkins [Roy Jenkins, Chancellor of the Exchequer], and how some members were on their feet waving their order papers in sheer delight. Then when he spoke at the party meeting there were loud mutters of disapproval. “They didn’t want to hear it.” But later some listened. On the whole he was pessimistic. I asked if the Left would survive the debacle that is going to overtake the Labour Party. He thought not. He was talking about going back into industry. On the whole he was ingenuous. He lacks real understanding of politics, but is an honest man, one of the few in the House, and is genuinely shocked at recent developments. He said he voted ten times against the Government in one day.
March 21 Thursday: I finished the paper and went to Colindale in the afternoon, to read the Irish News for 1917-18. In the evening I spoke at South London and had a very good meeting. I said among other things that the essence of the budget was a wage-cut. Bobby Rossiter told me afterwards that he came home Saturday to find his little Basque wife crying. She thought she had lost £1 out of her housekeeping money. They counted up everything she had spent and found she had not lost a penny. ”So there it is,” said he,” it is just like a a wage-cut.”
All week they have been discussing Sunday’s ructions in Grosvenor Square [a demonstration against British support for the US war in Vietnam]. It seems clear that even if the Trotsky element had not gone with the intention of causing trouble, the police were equally determined on their part. Wilson’s man was begging in Washington, and socialist heads must be broken in London. I had a description from Eddie Ferguson, last night from Bobby Heatley, and early in the week Peter Mulligan and Jim Kelly.
March 22 Friday: I spent a good part of the day at Colindale, but in the evening was in Kilburn with Peter Mulligan. He gets more like PJ Kearney every day, and arrived half an hour late in a taxi, full of smiles and apologies.
March 23 Saturday: In the morning I saw Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham and Pat Hensey at the office. In the afternoon I went to Colindale, and in the evening was in Holloway with Joe Deighan.
March 24 Sunday (Liverpool): I left for Liverpool at midday, started work on the garden, but had Geoffrey Bloor and his wife for dinner at 8 pm. I had only met her once before, and 20 years ago at that. My impression is that she was somewhat restrained then, but certainly not now. She reminds me of Dorothy Deighan – with a very good Lancashire heart but a very loud Lancashire voice. It seems that as well as their own three children they have two to whom they provide fosterage. These were victims of a “broken home” and were discovered sleeping in the seats of a cinema where their father was a worker of some kind (by arrangement with the watchman) and likewise in a betting shop where he was a traveler. She explained that their first reaction was to eat – to stuff themselves and not put on a pound of weight. The next was to talk – incessantly, endlesssly about nothing. For four years the younger boy sneered as many Dublin slumboys and Liverpool slumboys do. Then for the first time he laughed. The elder foster-child is now in College.
However Geoffrey’s younger brother, now about 41, is at Manchester University lecturing in medicine, but (says she) he will never be a professor. He is too fond of whiskey. He married Professor Blackett’s daughter and has a country cottage in Wales. It occurred to me that the loss of radicalism in the working class of this country is connected with the social transformation inherent in this picture. Bloor’s father (who is still alive at 89, his mother having died only before Christmas) was a railway signalman. I met him once. He had just smashed up the train near Earleston, was retired, doddering (I thought) and dazed, That would be about 1935. The Lancashire County Council sent the boys to universities. Mrs Bloor likewise comes of proletarian stock. She became a nurse, married Bloor, and now puts five through College. In other words, those who would have been rebels and agitators in unemployment or artisanry, are realising themselves in technology. For all five are in science. The question is, when will these rebel?
March 25 Monday: Though I had intended to go to the cottage, I had to go to Ripley to read the proofs. Alll was smooth today. Ripley Printers are making further building extensions. They can’t do too badly out of our orders.
March 26 Tuesday: I started clearing up the garage drive into which I dumped the first boughs of trees which I cut down when Phyllis was ill. The incinerator arrived and I began cutting and burning.
March 27 Wednesday: Two copies of Davies’s “Reasons why Ireland was never subdued” arrived. I have promised one to Joe Deighan. I spent the day on the drive, and was glad to be able to finish the job.
March 28 Thursday (Salop): After an early lunch I cycled to Chester and then took the train to Salop, thence cycling to the cottage. Though I arrived after dark, the ground was dry and hard and I had no difficulty getting down from the road. The place was damp. But the polyethylene had kept the mattress dry and the supply of coal made it easy to dry things out.
March 29 Friday: I burned the notorious old chair Mr Pugh had given Phyllis, who only took it so as not to hurt his feelings. When Elsie Greaves took me there last autumn it was full of maggots and Mrs Stewart said she was afraid to sit on it. That took a good part of the day. I gathered wood and lit a large fire, then dragged the huge thing on to the top of it. Mr Pugh passed in the next field – but he was too busy burning furze to see what I was doing. I made a sort of inventory of some of the contents and noticed the wee dilapidations which are showing. There are daffodils outside, not yet in bloom, and long primulas – almost certainly the fruit of Phyllis’s tireless efforts at improving her surroundings. Wherever she was one finds these little touches of tasteful activity.
I met Mrs Corbett who was amazed that the gales had not blown everything down. It is very wild for the time of the year – the resemblance to the weather of the nineteen-twenties keeps startling me.
March 30 Saturday (Liverpool): I left after lunch, and cycled to Oswestry, just missing a train, and then on to Wrexham. When I reached 124 Mount Road I found a letter from Sean Redmond, and another from Peter Mulligan showing a Morning Star containing an appalling photograph of me. I don’t know where they got it! Possibly it was on one of the marches. There came a day or two ago a letter from Muriel asking who had suggested I should write the life of Mellows. She must think I am on the verge of conversion to the Catholic Church [Mrs Muriel MacSwiney was very anti-Catholic].
March 31 Sunday (Bangor): I pottered round the garden in the morning. Then I went to Bangor. There was a chapter of misfortunes. I left my razor behind. I found my reading spectacles broken. The train was 1½ hours late arriving at Bangor. I booked into the Waverley and had scarcely sat down to dinner when there was a power cut. I waited a half-hour for a taxi and finally had to walk to the University where the Celtic Youth Congress was meeting. They had been locked out when the porter failed to appear so that the meeting did not finish till nearly 11 pm. A Mrs Trefin Morgan (of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraie) [Welsh Language Society, a direct action body on the Welsh language] was speaking. The subject was “The Celtic languages – survival or death?”. She gave much interesting information but dealt with the desirability of survival rather than the means to ensure it. The Scotsman, William Neil, extremely humorous, dry, generous and a great admirer of Hugh MacDiarmaid, was rather similar, but defeatist. Uncertain of the future, they stuck to the past. The Irish lad, who was not the MacAonghusa advertised on the programme [He was Micheál MacAonghusa, not Proinsias MacAonghusa, whom Greaves had expected], was far better. I spoke to the two of them afterwards. They said the Free Walsh Army had been in yesterday. “They’re courageous,” was the comment, with jackboots up to the knees. The gathering was interesting, but the Irish boys warned me to expect opposition. They informed me with wonderment, “There are some of them here who are monarchists!” Connolly could expect a rough passage.
April 1 Monday: I borrowed a razor at the hotel. Just as I was about to leave the wind that had been blowing great guns all night brought a deluge of horizontal rain. I could not get a taxi, but made my way as far as was possible in the lee of the buildings. I gave my lecture. It was not very good – too long, and I had to speak from memory from difficulty in reading the notes, the focus being too close for my normal spectacles and too distant for the naked eye. The chairman was a moustacheod dapper little middleclass Scot. Then Major Boothby spoke on behalf of Scotland for about ten minutes. His thesis was that anything might happen to England at any time now, and Scotland should be ready to take her destiny into her own hands. His favourite expression was “make noises”. It was time the Irish “made supporting noises”, but it would be unwise to “make noises of support” for the British as it might do them more harm than good. But he was a cheery old soul of great girth and good humour. There were questions for both of us. I preferred the Welsh to the Scots. I put this down to the fact that the Welsh were on their home ground, and their impecunious students could still attend. But the Scots were from a distance and were of the middle-class. The Irish on the other hand were from the Wolfe Tone Society, a genuine delegation – and very typical Gaelic Leaguers!
I had lunch with the Celtic Leaguers, then went to the station when the rain eased off a little and came slowly, how slowly, back to Liverpool.
One of the boys called Donald (or so Major Boothby addressed him) seemed to be a student at Strathclyde University. He told me of the John MacLean Society – we had heard of this from Glasgow. He said a NILP [Northern Ireland Labour Party] man from Belfast was in it, and was a Trotsky, though in general it was an offshoot of the SNP [Scottish National Party]. I think the NILP was called Farrell. He was saying first that John MacLean influenced Connolly and vice versa, and that “The Communist International ratted on Maclean and wouldn’t allow a Scottish Communist Party.” I checked the possibility of the first when I got home and found what I suspected, that MacLean did not join the SDF [ie.the Social Democratic Federation, Britain’s first socialist political party, founded by HM Hyndman in 1881] until after Connolly had left for the USA – already a leader. If they did meet it would be for a short time only. As for the other, Bell’s biography does not give all the details. When one drops such words as “ratted” it is possible to see the basis for a genuine disagreement here. Bell says MacLean did not join the CPGB.
There was a strong current of criticism of Plaid Cymru [the Welsh National Party] which many of them think is “compromising”. How justifiable this opinion is I do not know. I returned at 6 pm.
April 2 Tuesday: The wild wet weather has turned to frost and snow! When the rain stopped last night I put some shorts on the line to dry. They were frozen stiff. But my seedling lettuces seem to have escaped destruction, and the other washing I put up dried quickly as soon as the sun came out. Then in the evening there was a heavy fall of snow, which melted for the most part by midnight. I spoke to John McClelland on the phone. The continuing Liverpool bus strike led to his cancelling the meeting for Thursday. I wrote to Muriel, who wanted to know who put me up to writing “Mellows” (implication – the Catholic Church) and I told her.
April 3 Wednesday: I broke my glasses and had to have them repaired in a hurry. It cost £2, a damn nuisance. A letter came from Sean Redmond saying that ZAPU now want the rooms again! A circular from Sean to the EC also came, in which he announced his resignation on the grounds (1) that the pay is insufficient and (2) that he wants to return to Ireland and must get some trade first. His statement was fair enough. He gave as the main reason his marriage and the fact that he could not maintain his wife if she were not working. It is interesting. He wrote a few days ago expressing concern about the meeting on the 24th. I said I would go to London at once. He wrote back and said it was unnecessary, but the phrase he used, “You might care to remain in Liverpool a few days”, struck me as odd at the time – revealing a desire that I should stay. Of course, if I had gone to London I would have seen his circular as it was duplicated. His point about the pay is quite unanswerable. It was amusing. When Joe Deighan was objecting strenuously to raising the price of the paper, I challenged him, “And how do we pay the printer?” “Oh,” says he, “We’ll just have to get by as we did in the past.” That is – starve the organisers! Now he should see what happens – but will he? I very much doubt it. He will put the blame on Sean’s English wife, who would be all forthe job, IF it paid a salary.
I wrote to J.Roose Williams, R.Palme Dutt, Andrew Rothstein and Sean Redmond. He asked me in a letter if I would go on Friday (I had said Saturday at the end of the “few days”). But I feel disinclined to scurry back when the OK is given. He talks about retiring at the end of the year. I said to myself I would let other people oppose it or comment on it. Financially of course it could provide welcome retrenchment, that is IF a voluntary organisation could be created again. I do not think we could find or afford a substitute.
April 4 Thursday: I did very little in the day – went to town and bought a few things – and in the evening decided I have to re-write the middle chapters entirely. In the evening Tom Redmond rang and said Eddy Lenihan was dead and the funeral is tomorrow
April 5 Friday: I got up early to find snow everywhere. I did not relish the journey to Moston cemetery [in Manchester] – and nearly missed the train owing to the chaotic traffic conditions. The snow was swirling round as we left Lime Street, then at St Helens we ran into bright sunshine. At Moston it was dry, and almost warm. The showers must be hitting the coast. Michael Crowe arrived in a taxi in which he left his briefcase but the driver found it in time. As I went up the bus was delayed while a young man tried to recapture his pup which was under a van; each time he tried to catch it on one side it ran out under the other! Then the bus carried me beyond the cemetery. Jimmy McGill was there, and Tom Redmond, Tommy Watters’s two sisters, and Harry Allen. Michael Crowe has got a job as Senior Lecturer in French at Sunderland, which is I think part of Newcastle University. Tom Redmond is trying to get to Dublin as a computer operator. Harry Allen has retired and is moving to an island off the west coast of Scotland where his wife has a cottage – to write his memoirs – and he tells me Tom Redmond does not bother to call branch meetings. He has lost interest. After the funeral Jimmy McGill and I went for a drink and Pat Devine’s son, also Pat Devine, came with Bob Leeson’s brother, who is also at the University – like young Pat Devine a lecturer in economics. Young Pat Devine used to be very critical of his father, but I am glad to say he has revised his opinion. I came back to Liverpool and arrived at about 4 pm. Later I spoke to John McClelland on the telephone.
April 6 Saturday (London): I caught the morning train but it was delayed by a power failure near Stafford. However, I saw Sean Redmond in the office. I said nothing of his plans and was suitably affable. There was a slight sign of strain in him, and I imagine a disinclination to discuss the details of the meeting tomorrow. I went for a drink with Charlie Cunningham and Peter Mulligan who were there, and Colm Power followed us. I did not realise that Charlie had declined to sit on the Executive, so we spoke in front of him, which was a pity. But of course bad news flies fast. His comment was, “Sean will be better as a lay member.” To Peter Mulligan it was, “There’s a fine pickle.” We did not mention it to Colm Power. In the evening I was with Chris Sullivan in Holborn. Sean Redmond had arranged to have Joe Deighan and Peter Mulligan with him in Camden Town, but had a slight infection of the eye and at my suggestion did not go out.
April 7 Sunday: I went into the office. I knew Pat Bond was calling there to pick up Joe Deighan, Peter Mulligan and Bobby Rossiter and drive them to Birmingham. So I left him a note suggesting that he put to Sean Redmond the question: “If we can raise the money by the end of the year, will you remain?” I want to separate the strands. Then I went to Euston and found Charlie Cunningham and Sean Redmond already on the train, and Pat Hensey soon joined us. Nothing of Sean’s decision was spoken. At the same time it was strongly on everybody’s mind. As soon as the two from Manchester had arrived we started the meeting, John McClelland being delayed by an engine failure. The proceedings began with a general report by Sean Redmond in which he spoke of what an “important EC” it was. He asked a lot of confused questions and indeed without the slightest lead for the future. It was as if all the bounce and self-confidence had gone out of him. Then followed a woefully confused discussion, showing the poor quality of the present leadership, for they cleared over old long-settled problems and missed the elephant of the sharp new crisis of world imperialism. In what followed Joe Deighan (and others) mentioned the lack of open campaigning and Joe made reference to a time when Sean Redmond had not come to Kilburn but stayed in the office – the universal complaint of him, this. Instead of quietly explaining that the work couldn’t be left, he grew angry, and got on his dignity. I never once since he came into that office heard him admit a fault, let alone apologise for one, however obvious. However, it was all patched up, and when we came to the resignation Pat Bond popped his question. Sean replied that he did not believe that we could raise the money and was not going to gamble. The reason he was retiring was financial. That was fair enough. But when I said I thought quite apart from finance (which I know enough about to sympathise with him) there was a touch of pessimism in his political report, he came as near to self-criticism as I ever heard him. “I don’t intend to be pessimistic. Maybe I don’t always clearly see the way forward, but I can’t be called a pessimist.” Which of course was also fair enough – I had not said he was! In the end it was agreed to try and get somebody else and to announce the resignation simultaneously with the appointment of a successor. There was a slight brush with Gerry Curran. “You say you are only getting £14 a week. I’m not getting much more than that. You say you want a minimum of £20 a week. Well, I hope you get it.” At the same time it was all very well for Joe Deighan to preach the virtues of sacrifice and living on an “uneconomic wage” – it is easy to sleep on another man’s wound. I decided to help him to get a job if necessary and try to hold him in a voluntary capacity. The point is doubtless that he has not an income sufficient to satisfy the very respectable middle-class English “in-laws” that he has married as well. He would be best in Ireland.
I returned with John McClelland and we discussed Tom Redmond’s woeful performance – not a trace of criticism, irresponsible but still irrepressible. Michael Crowe by contrast was quiet and dignified. McClelland says that the trouble was that the Manchester branch never had a satisfactory letter from the Head Office. It was a family correspondence [ie. between the two Redmond brothers].
April 8 Monday (Liverpool): I went to town for a haircut in the morning, and for the rest of the day did my accounts, pushed on with the garden and generally cleared up since I shall not be much here during the next two months.
April 9 Tuesday (London): The train times having been (as frequently happens these days) altered without proper announcement, I had a two-hour wait in Liverpool. I met John Gibson at Central Station and we went for coffee at the Kardomah. I said I had seen the name of Bisson as an artist at the Bluecoat School and recalled that when I joined the YCL in 1934 he was the “big noise”. He used be on a continuous “qui vive” for any of 57 varieties of “deviation”, along with another sectish terror called Baruch [See Volume 2]. Was he on the left still? On the contrary, said Gibson, he was very much the reverse, and he recalled that Cannon of the ETU was similar in his day. It is as if their opinions did not sit comfortably on them, and they must chastise the weakness they thought they detected in others so as to prevent its getting a hold of themselves.
I bought Desmond Donnelly’s book to read on the train [British Labour MP, 1920-1974, later expelled; contested the Co.Down seat for Northern Ireland Labour in 1946. The book was probably “Gadarene ‘68”]. When I remember him first he had just fought the South Down election, unsuccessfully. He got into touch with Dooley in some way and spoke at some of our meetings. Dooley showed him quite a few things, but his comment was, “That young fellow does want badly to get into the House of Commons.” Now it looks as if he is on his way out.
I went to Birmingham where Harry Bourne told me that Mulready had been dabbling in Chinese policy. He advised against holding a Connolly Commemoration in mid-May in the City. I continued to London and went to the International Affairs Committee. Pat Sloan was there – I had not I think met him since 1940 when I was in Barrow doing some work for the YCL and he visited the place. He looks as fit as a fiddle. He would be about 57 – radiating good health, though grey as a badger.
Palme Dutt spoke to me about the Liam Mellows article. He wanted me to do it. I pointed out I am doing one the same month for Klugman, and asked Joe Deighan would be do it. He agreed. Then Dutt said Deighan was not good enough. He would like nobody but myself. Now he has changed his mind. He wants me to help Deighan. “It must be as good as if you did it yourself.” I can of course take the horse to the water. But will it drink?
April 10 Wednesday: I got ready the new paper, spending most of the day in the office. In the evening I tackled Joe Deighan, who agreed to have a try at the article. The branch meeting had Peter Mulligan, Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunnigham, Jim Kelly, Chris Sullivan, Sean Redmond, Jane Tate and others at it. It was noticeable however how much lower the general morale is than it used to be. I blame this mainly on Joe Deighan – though he has improved – and secondarily on Sean Redmond. However, part of the thing is the fact that things slipped while I was away, and the new position is too “comfortable” to be given up easily. The ZAPU have come back, and that has meant £90 for us. It seems that Mayo, the treasurer, has come to make peace with Chetsega, and all may now be well. The man who rang Africa from our phone has been told not to do it again.
Telefis Eireann rang up about a Connolly programme. “It won’t be what you’d like,” said the producer, Eoin something-or-other [Perhaps Eoghan Harris]. “It will be what the Irish Government likes.” He asked me to go to Dublin for a day and appear on the programme but I told him I am too busy to oblige. He wouldn’t have Sean. He said he knew Tony Coughlan.
April 11 Thursday: I found I had a cold but went into the office to work on the paper. Pat Bond came in and gave Sean Redmond a donation of £100 for the Connolly Association. “That will help him,” said I. “Hm. I wish I was confident he was helping himself.” I pointed out Sean Redmond’s many excellent qualities, remarking that the vitiating factor is surely his conceit. Thus when he went to Seifert and failed to ask a question that seemed to me obviously required, he tried to bluff and bluster and confuse the issue instead of merely remarking that he hadn’t thought of it. In the evening Jim Kelly came in.
April 12 Friday: I was in the office in the morning. Pat Bond and I went to Kilburn. He recalled that he was in the Connolly Association in London since 1951 and he thinks Des Logan arrived here just after that. In the evening I was with Joe Deighan in Camden Town. He was more depressed than usual and very apprehensive of raising the price of the paper. But for his opposition I would have got it up long ago, though I suppose I could have put my foot down. He was talking of his work as a pharmacist. Apparently he is handing out soporifics on a gigantic scale. The country is becoming one vast psychiatrical ward.
April 13 Saturday: In the morning Des Logan rang me up and we rearranged things so that I was with him in Paddington in the evening. Peter Mulligan has gone to Dublin, but Pat Hensey, Joe Deighan and the others were covered. There was another woeful report of the financial position from Toni Curran, another £150 taken out of reserves. Des Logan is talking about becoming a full-time student – in his forties! He said he came to London in 1953, around the time that Justin Keating and Loretta got married. So it was two years before that Pat Bond came. As usual he complains of illness, but as usual the doctor can find nothing wrong with him, but doses him with drugs, presumably to satisfy him. We were in Paddington in the evening.
April 14 Sunday: Though the wind was still cold, the sun was warm and we held a meeting in Hyde Park. When I got there Sean Redmond was being heckled furiously by a young man in his early twenties, with a fortnight’s growth of beard, a white gansey, and bare feet. He was obviously under the influence of some drug. His face was distorted with frenzy and his eyes flushed like the dogstar. He was form the North. Although he was offering a brand of Connolly Socialism, I could see he was Protestant. And this he later revealed. In the end Bobby Rossiter and Charlie Cunningham went into the crowd in front of him and trod on his feet till he cleared off. People who come to do battle should come prepared. He was vaguely familiar to me, but I can’t remember when I saw him.
I had confirmation of my suspicion of television interviewing. A man spoke to Sean Redmond who had gallivanted off to Belfast to do a programme. “You said on television that the Connolly Association was communist,” “No”, said Sean, “I said it was not.” “Did you? That isn’t what I heard.” In other words, the audience does not hear the speaker but absorbs the general atmosphere created by the producer. Joe Deighan, Bobby Rossiter and Bobby Heatley all spoke, and in the evening I went to Kentish Town with Jim Kelly.
April 15 Monday: The weather was warm as well as dry for the first time. I went to Trafalgar Square and met Des Logan there. He came back for a meal. He told me he had met Brian Behan who does not look as prosperous as his apostasy should have made him [Behan had left the CPGB and joined a Trotskyist group]. But of course he would be thrown on one side once he had served his turn. I learned from Logan that Charlie Cunningham had been there. I was a little late and the crowds were dispersing.
April 16 Tuesday: I spent the whole day on the paper which, being a twelve-page one for a special occasion, demands extra work.
April 17 Wednesday: I went to the Irish Club in the evening to speak to the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster on the “Government of Ireland Act”. Hymie O’Donoghue was in the chair but Pat Byrne dominated the proceedings. In the bar afterwards one of the Willesden Labour Party people started denouncing the “blacks”. He said, “I used to be tolerant. But now I hate them.” He was beyond reasoning with. Did he seriously propose that the Government would spend a sum of perhaps £1000 million sending all the immigrants back? Yet this was the talk.
April 18 Thursday (Liverpool): I continued with the paper, and when the last sheet was posted took the train to Liverpool.
April 19 Friday: In the morning Sean Redmond rang up. “Trouble. Peadar O’Donnell’s doctor has ordered him not to travel.” So what could be done? I rang Mairin Johnston who brought Cathal to the phone and he promised to find somebody else.
April 20 Saturday: Cathal went out [to Howth Head] to try and get George Gilmore, but did not succeed [ie. as a speaker for the annual Connolly Association Trafalgar Square demonstration in June]. He said he would try Ron Lindsay of the TCD Republican Club.
April 21 Sunday: I had a phone call from Cathal to the effect that we could have Lindsay, Cathal Goulding, Seamus Costello or Tom Gill. So that was fair enough. I chose Lindsay.
April 22 Monday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs. Brian Reynolds [manager of the printing company] was talking about Enoch Powell’s speech [ie. Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech about the consequences of uncontrolled immigration to Britain, which led to Edward Heath expelling him from the Conservative Party]. “He’s only said what most people would like to say,” was his comment. “The Labour Party’s as bad as the Tories, anyway,” he went on. “The two parties are the same.” So that is the citadel of Labour [i.e. the Nottingham/Derbyshire area]. I returned to Liverpool to try and write an article for Klugman.
April 23 Tuesday: I spent a good part of the day on Klugman’s article and finally finished it. I had left my reading glasses in London, which made it difficult.
April 24 Wednesday (London): I went to London in the morning. Then I went to London Airport to meet Roddy Connolly, who arrived just after 5 pm. He told me the Irish Labour Party was drafting a new Constitution at a conference in June. A number of young people are making the running now. Muriel MacSwiney was at the meeting but left early. Joe Deighan achieved the nadir of inept chairmanship, gave lengthy introductions to every speaker, made no effort to keep anybody to time, and as I expected (and said at the EC) prevented me from speaking, as I knew he would do. He shouldn’t be in a chair at a meeting; he should not be allowed to sit on anything more important than a po. Even Roddy asked afterwards why we didn’t have a decent chairman. Flann Campbell and Paddy Clancy, Paddy Byrne, Elsie O’Dowling, Des Logan, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Peter Mulligan and all the others. It was a very satisfactory meeting – but for the chairman.
April 25 Thursday (Nottingham): I went to Nottingham and called to John Peck [local CPGB organizer]. He ran me round in his van looking for a hall to hold a meeting in. Just as I was leaving for Liverpool I got one on the phone, whose caretaker had been out. The reception I got from Peck contrasted very favourably with what I usually get from Harry Bourne [CPGB organiser in Manchester] who talks and talks but does nothing. I think that something might be done in Nottingham yet.
April 26 Friday (London): I returned to London by evening and was in Holloway with Joe Deighan [ie. selling the monthly Irish Democrat]. Before we left the office he remarked that he had been reading the Trotsky outpourings of the Clifford group and that their policy was identical with that of the CA except in their constant attacks on myself. I noticed this as the summit of Deighan’s penetration, and I also noticed that Charlie Cunningham is spreading their rubbish around. He told me he was having difficulties with the Labour Monthly article. I don’t wonder. The paper was 1/-. There was not a trace of hesitation – for this Joe Deighan helped to delay the price increase by months and lost us hundreds of pounds!
April 27 Saturday: More trouble this morning. Peter Mulligan had made some indiscreet statements at a conference called by Camden Trades Council [presumably on the race relations question then to the fore following Enoch Powell’s speech] and these had been published in the North London Press who rang Sean Redmond who repudiated Peter – and this morning he was arguing the point. I was out with Charlie Cunningham in the evening in Paddington. He sympathised with Peter. I think probably the trouble is Sean Redmond’s manner. He always appears to be saying, “See how clever I am.”
April 28 Sunday: I went into the office and found a note on Sean Redmond’s typewriter in which Peter Mulligan seems to have offered an indeterminate resignation. I wrote him a conciliatory letter. The whole trouble is the non-political leadership of Joe Deighan and Sean Redmond and complete absence of perspective. The result is that the inexperienced members are blown hither and thither by their emotions, but everything must fit into his office hours.
In the Park in the afternoon, however, I learned that Jim Kelly had sparked off the quarrel with Peter, since he has the habit of teasing him. He was telling Peter Mulligan that he was sending out too many notices and he can go on like a rasp. Suddenly Peter said, “You send them, then,” and walked out. In the evening I was out with Gerry Curran who told me of Sean Redmond’s telling Pat Hensey that my call for a business-like statistical examination of paper-sales was “unrealistic”. I wrote to Peter Mulligan.
April 29 Monday: There was no word from Peter, but Sean Redmond does not think he will respond. I was in the office most of the day but in the evening decided to investigate the statement in the press that the Irish had been largely involved in the East End pro-Powell demonstrations. I called to Danny Lyons in Stepney but arrived late owing to a signal failure on the District line, and he had gone to a meeting of the Docks Branch [ie. of the CPGB] in Poplar. I found a handy taxi and pursued him there. At the table in the “Old Council Chamber” was Lyons and beside him Tony Gilbert and Jack Eighteen. The former had come to open a discussion on the very subject. There were about thirteen present and I learned how the settlement made some months ago made the “Port Liaison Committee” official and at the same time put it out of action. There is no leadership in the docks – in other words the Labour Party is responsible for opening the door to Fascism. One man said he believed immigration should be stopped until those who were here were “absorbed”. Another was for “unlimited immigration” (a seaman on the Executive of his Union). Another compared the arrival of the coloured men to Cromwell’s admission of the Jews, and several argued that whenever the capitalists are in difficulties they “bring in” somebody to split the workers. A young fellow, hearing that Fr Donnelly, a Catholic priest, had mounted a platform to reprove pro-Powell dockers, declared that the Catholic priests were Fascists themselves and everywhere they were influential the workers were in chains. Another had sympathy with the immigrants because of the low living standards which “our forefathers” imposed on them. The word “imperialism” was not mentioned all night. Afterwards I asked Gilbert why he did not refer to imperialism and neo-colonialism. “I refrained on purpose,” he said. “I said capitalism. Otherwise they would not understand.” So that is how he educated them. And not unnaturally their whole approach was defensive since the enemy was unknown.
Years ago there was an election in Stepney. The candidate (whose name I now forget) was most indignant at the thought that “Irish nationalism should be aroused”. I see he has made good work. Likewise I tried to persuade them in Ilford that the national feeling of the Irish in Fords was a worthy anti-imperialist sentiment. Those at the meeting deplored this tampering with the natural brotherhood of man. Well they have that brotherhood now on show in Fords as well. And they don’t know what has hit them.
I had a drink with Gilbert. He comes from the East End, was in the International Brigade and was in the army. In Castleton in Yorkshire he “had trouble” with a priest. Jack Brent sent him copies of the Irish Democrat (possibly the previous name “Irish Freedom” was the in use). He sold it and founded a big party group. But the priest won. He got in touch with the parents of those who joined. Fr Magee was his name. Gilbert claims that one day he found three Jesuits in the lounge of the hotel where the miners lived. They wanted to have a “philosophical discussion”. After some time one of them told him, “You cannot sin.” He laughed. “That is good news.” “You cannot sin. It is only possible to sin in the sight of God and I’m satisfied that you are a genuine atheist.” But now the priest’s voice became terrible. ”But it is a crime punishable by death to seduce any son of the Church away from his faith.” That, he said, was twenty years ago. Who was going to kill him? “Well,” says Gilbert, “they spoke as if they had the power.”
He also told me about an old lady in Stepney who had plenty of money and had discussion in her house to which he invited students who were in financial difficulties, including some from overseas. He was there one night arguing atheism till 3 am. At 3.15 there was a break. The old lady had got up to make them all coffee and sandwiches. She pointed her stick at Gilbert. “You fool”, she said, “You fool! You communists are doing God’s work on earth, yet you waste your time arguing atheism!
“And she was right,” said I,
“Not about God’s work.”
“Well, it’s a manner of speaking.”
Apparently he did not know Conrad, as he did not reply, “And a verra foolish manner of speaking, Mr Jukes.”
I understood from those present at the meeting that Fr Donnelly at least got a hearing from the dockers, but the Church of England parson showed his nervousness and uncertainty and was so severely heckled that he had to give up. Fr Donnelly gave them some home truths, and Gilbert thinks that most of his hearers would be Catholics or ex-Catholics. From Lyons I could only get the statement that the Irish were no better or no worse than any of the others. But of course all of them would be second or third generation Irish. I saw Klugman and Idris Cox during the day.
May 1 Wednesday (Liverpool): I went into the office. Sean Redmond had had a letter from Peter Mulligan saying he felt there was “no comradeship” in the CA and he was resigning from all official positions and dropping out of activity. This led me to reflect on some of his proposals which Sean Redmond fought. He wanted a social on March 17 at the branch rooms. He wanted branch meetings abandoned in favour of “working parties”, and fewer outside speakers. In his letter he observed that this “comradeship” had been attained during the period that work was being done on the premises. He was a child of a broken marriage and left home to make his own way at the age of 15. This desire for stable and positive human relatons is therefore very understandable, and I would say Sean Redmond’s type of leadership, with its strong bureaucratic tendency, does not provide this. It is what Gerry Curran refers to as Sean’s “failures in communication”. It is a pity. He is a very efficient office worker, and if he had that gift also, he would carry us a long way.
In the afternoon I came to Liverpool to do a “bulletin” for Idris Cox and send off some letters about the book.
May 2 Thursday: I spent the whole day trying to catch up with growth in the garden, sending off letters about the book and preparing the bulletin for Cox.
May 3 Friday (London): I returned to London and was out with Joe Deighan in Holloway. He said Peter Mulligan did not turn up on Wednesday. His view of the situation is that Peter, being 29 years old, looking 24 and acting 20, has come up against the fact of boyhood’s end and feels very bad about being compelled to answer for his actions as an adult. He is not prepared to sit down and study to equip himself for adult life and has thus retreated from Sean Redmond’s criticisms in high dudgeon. Of Sean he thinks quite obviously it is marry in haste, with plenty of leisure ahead. The girl used to be at the Hyde Park platform every week until they were married – not once since. The old old story. I replied that I had written offering to help him find alternative employment but had not had the favour of an acknowledgement. “That means he’s going to Dublin,” said Joe.
On the bus I met Jane Tate who told me about Alec Digges’s friend “Jimmie Smith”. He was in the army and around 1947 came to live in Marchmont Street. So I thought him a rather dull Cockney of the streets – all the tricks off pat as behoved a child of the slums. But he came into the movement under (I suppose) Digges’s influence. He was a fine figure of a man. Only last autumn I saw him strutting out of Mecklenburg Gardens in his continental shorts looking no more than 30 but for the grey hair. Now apparently he has returned to hospital after an operation for a tumour on the brain, and there is little hope for him. He would not be over 48.
May 4 Saturday: I had sent Idris Cox an account of my activities in Poplar. Today I had a reply. He said that the new draft of “The British Road to Socialism” ignores that Britain is the centre of a vast imperialist Empire and treats it like any other capitalist country. He has sent the EC a memorandum on the subject which he expects to argue with them at their next meeting.
At the office Pat Hensey and Jim Kelly performed Peter Mulligan’s functions, and there was a poster parade in Kilburn in the afternoon, with Chris Sullivan, Dorothy Deighan, young Joe Sweeney and others. Sean Redmond was at the NCCL conference.
A letter from Betty Sinclair [Secretary bof the Belfast Trades Council and a leading figure in the CPNI] was the second to refer to some gathering which Michael O’Riordan is convening next Saturday night with that rat Prendergast. It seems that the old Dublin crowd are unable to come here without embarking on some intrigue. Of course Betty did not know that I had been kept in ignorance of it. But apart from raising funds, I have a shrewd suspicion that holidays in Eastern Europe feature in the scene. Though of course it may be a concourse of old friends for the sake of auld lang syne! And it may not.
In the evening Joe Deighan, Sean Redmond and I set off for Holloway, but the heavens opened. All we could do was sit and drink small beer till it stopped, which it didn’t. We smiled at Sean Redmond’s handling of Peter Mulligan. He wrote pointing out that he had underestimated his frustration but that this was largely Peter’s own fault since he had not spoken of it. Then he asked Peter not to be silly and to come in and see him! The difference – Joe Deighan at least talkedabout going to see him himself. The letter from Betty Sinclair came in for discussion. Joe Deighan thinks that Michael O’Riordan and others hold that the Connolly Association cannot survive under the Wilson administration and that this is seen as an opportunity for the Irish Workers Party to restart its fund-raising operations in London. On the other hand, Sean Redmond tells how when the Russian representative went to Dublin for Telefis Eireann, Betty Sinclair, Prendergast and somebody else sat till 2 am. in a hotel drinking at the expense of Telefis Eireann. He thinks they want the same at ours. But I think Sean Redmond intends to discuss with O’Riordan a job in Dublin. It remains to see what terms O’Riordan exacts and whether Sean Redmond is prepared to meet them. This is putting matters crudely. The parties would hardly look at it that way. It may be, however, that Sean has no other way out, to save his political interests and his marriage. I could see his falling well into the Dublin leadership which does little active work and leads normal family lives, but makes pronouncements, initiates moves, publishes pamphlets and generally acts as an ideological centre.
Reverting to Peter Mulligan, Sean Redmond who has had more to do with them than his secretive soul admits, says that he “has no real friends but he occasionally takes a smell of drugs with Tony Marr”(I think the name is right, but it might be Maher). And his emotional life is thin and immature – how to get into bed with women without incurring any further responsibilities. I do not know how far this is true.
In the afternoon there was a poster parade attended by Chris Sullivan, Jim Kelly, Pat Hensey, Dorothy Deighan and others.
May 5 Sunday: I went into the Park in the afternoon. There was a substandard May Day procession. I saw Nora Jefferies and Bill Alexander, also old Frank Jackson standing by himself. The Connolly Association meeting was addressed by Sean Redmond, Gerry Curran (who has bought a motor car, so what we will see of him in the future is doubtful) and Bobby Heatley. Some of the others were there – Charlie Cunningham, Dorothy Deighan and Joe Long, who has come back. In the evening I was with Pat Hensey in Holloway.
May 6 Monday: I was in the office most of the day. In the evening Joe Deighan brought in his article for the Labour Monthly, which I thought a woeful effort, and had to spend until 10 pm. discussing its revision with him. It is clear that he is extremely confused and when he attempts to set his thoughts on paper the confusion that affects his utterances becomes deeply apparent. But he professes to believe that his difficulties are due to the fact that he is not a practical worker, or that he “doesn’t know enough about the British Labour movement.” But he has really no idea. He talks about “quoting Lenin” with a chuckle as if this was only done to add authority, with no notion of what circumstances call for a quotation and what not. I think he felt “taken down a peg” by the criticisms. What am I to do? Let rubbish go forward without attempting to improve it?
May 7 Tuesday: Another day in the office. Sean Redmond got through mountains of work for the weekend’s effort. We had news that Jim Kelly and Chris Sullivan had been “booked” for poster-sticking last night. Chris always seems to manage this. Jim Kelly thought it a huge joke. In the afternoon a young man named Fullerton came in saying he was the son of the President of one of the Irish trade unions – Engineers and Electricians. He wanted a Democrat. He also thought of looking for a job as a laboratory assistant, so I promised to enquire. I rang up Alan Morton later and he said of course he could give him a job, if he was any use. But if he wanted a degree, then he doubted if being a laboratory assistant was the way to start. He told me that John Morton is now at Hull and David at the accident hospital in Birmingham for a short spell. Maggie, the maid at Weston, died at the age of 75. She was with the family for 58 years! His mother is 91, and the sister is bringing her to London in the summer. Alisoun is now improving after two years’ sickness. They are spending their holidays in Wales – and learning the Welsh!
May 8 Wednesday: I worked myself on the paper and Sean Redmond worked like a Trojan on the demonstration. In the evening I addressed the Central branch. Young Fullerton came and Joe O’Connor discovered he had known his grandfather. Peter Mulligan was not there, but we had Jane Tate, Jim Kelly, Joe Deighan, Dorothy, Tadhg Egan, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey and others. I think they have rallied slightly when they lost Peter Mulligan – maybe they think they left him with too much on his hands. I was also favourably surprised at Joe Deighan. He had completely re-written the article for Palme Dutt and it had turned out not so bad. So he is going to send it on to him. Possibly he learned something from the discussion, so that it was not the work I felt it was when I had to listen patiently to his cynical expressions and loud breast-beating. I told Joe O’ Connor that I had got Sean Redmond to write to Cathal Goulding to try and force Clann na hEireann into our parade. He said Goulding would be glad to be rid of them and that on one occasion he asked if Joe O’Connor would “take them over”.
May 9 Thursday: A letter from Tony Coughlan complained that he was never so busy since he returned to Ireland. I worked on the paper for most of the day. I have an unpleasant head-cold not improved by the cold wet weather we have been having. Gerry Curran is in bed with tonsilitis. Pat Bond is on holiday and Peter Mulligan is in high dudgeon! Sean Redmond went to South London [ie. to speak to the Connolly Association branch there].
May 10 Friday: Today was the anniversary of the damned event of two years ago [ie. his sister’s death]. Sean Redmond was still working at full tilt so that whatever strictures one might pass, there is none due for the preparation of the event on Sunday, despite the shocking weather prospects [ie. the annual CA Trafalgar Square demonstration for civil rights in Northern Ireland, preceded by a march from Speakers’ Corner, Marble Arch]. I still have a cold, yet when Roger Woddis rang up and asked about my health in the course of a conversation about Joe Deighan’s article, I answered “very well” from force of habit! I went for a few minutes to the International Affairs Committee but left at 8 pm. R.Palme Dutt asked if I had edited Joe Deighan’s thing. I told him that I had seen better than the final result but I had also seen worse. When I saw Deighan in the evening and reported that a few more days’ polishing and tidying would have been beneficial he evinced no enthusiasm whatsoever. He was in one of his irrational moods and we went selling as far as Archway when he “took a scunder and went off.” He is in a most unhappy, restless, defeatist frame of mind which nothing but some marked success will dispel.
May 11 Saturday: I was in the office early and so was Sean Redmond, who is keeping up a terrific tempo of activity. At midday I met Betty Sinclair at Euston – she had flown to Liverpool. The meeting in Birkenhead was disappointing – only 14. She thought the Labour Party exhausted and dispirited after the election results. In the evening I was in Kilburn with Chris Sullivan and Michael Keane, who has reappeared. In the afternoon Susan Redmond came in to help, which I was pleased to see, and encouraged her all I could. It struck me that possibly Sean had decided on another attempt to interest her.
May 12 Sunday: In the office in the morning I saw Sean Redmond and Susan. So she came in again. Sean had heard from Joe Deighan that Betty Sinclair told him that Michael O’Riordan’s object in meeting certain individuals was to get donations of goods for his bazaar from various socialist Embassies. I think that that rat Prendergast is something of an Embassy-fly today. It is of course their own business and as long as they don’t shit on my doorstep I’ll not worry. But they [ie.the Dublin IWP] still have the conception of a subsidized movement, with a low-priced paper and literature. O’Riordan rang at noon. He had arrived only today.
It had been raining all week. Today dawned fine and clear, with a weather forecast that improved as the glass rose. Our expectations rose accordingly. In the office I was able to observe relations between Sean Redmond and his wife, and I began to see why he had so far failed to interest her. I saw her reacting with irritation to the very traits of Sean’s personality that others find irritating. She told him how to do something he couldn’t understand, but was too preoccupied with his own matters to try to understand. When his method failed he “discovered” hers. “That’s what I told you ten minutes ago,” she replied with amused exasperation. But he failed even to acknowledge the remark. He thinks he is cleverer than he is. On the other hand when he hasn’t an idea what to do he can ask with the shamelessness of a subordinate asking for instructions and reveal “his” plan to others with the aplomb of a managing director. Nevertheless, his work this week is such as to call for toleration of all blemishes, and it crossed my mind that perhaps we should try to hold him.
We gathered at Marble Arch. The Welsh Nationalists were there, including the young student who so strongly lapped up the socialism at Bangor. He is at London University. The parade went off in a fine style. But there were no supporters from Clann na hEireann in spite of Sean Redmond’s writing to Cathal Goulding to “put him on the spot”. Tom Gill was in Birmingham recently and forecast that Clann na hEireann would become “as strong as Clan na Gael in America”. Hm! Some of the CDU were there, and Mike Cooley had the DATA banner [Engineering and Shipbuilding Draughtsmen]. He thought the situation in this country comparable to that in the Weimar Republic. He was very frank and forthright, but I detect a hidden obstacle – perhaps no more than an intense dogmatism under a surface flexibility. He and Whateley were recently speaking for an organisation which Sean Redmond says is “Maoist”.
Ben Owens was there when we arrived. He was watching an anti-Polish procession based on their supposed anti-Jewish proclivities. A number of Sikhs marched off in turbans protesting at not being allowed to wear them on Wolverhampton buses. They said that if turbans were not allowed “Sikhism will die.” That snake O’Shea walked with us. He is trying to get back. And at the Square there was my bold Prendergast himself, dressed somewhat flashily. with Sean Furlong, while Furlong looked very prosperous. Mortimer gave a good speech [Jim Mortimer, 1921-2013, official of the Draughtsmen’s Trade Union, later Labour Party General Secretary], and I spoke a little longer than usual myself. For the first time Joe Deighan was there and Des Logan told me he reacted very favourably, which was good. Betty Sinclair and Michael O’Riordan gave strong speeches and Joe Deighan concluded – taking only five of his allotted 15 minutes, I am quite sure as a kind of self-inflicted penance for making the last meeting drag on. So we finished ten minutes early.
We went to Schmidt’s for a meal, then to the Cranbourne at the corner of Garrick Street and St. Mathew’s Lane. It was the last night this house was to be open and the landlord (who had expected an empty house) showered us all with sausages and plates of sandwiches. The long bar was divided into two groups. In one Michael O’Riordan sat with notebook in hand, while sums of money were furtively (and sometimes not so furtively) handed to him. Around him were Prendergast, now drunk on half a pint of beer, Tadhg Egan, Pat Cronin, Furlong, who assumed an air of lofty disdain in his new finery and did not deign to notice anybody but his few cronies, and a few more. Prendergast became maudlin and wanted to shake hands with Elsie O’Dowling, who refused to speak to him. He came to me and said we must forget the past. I said to myself, “I will skeweryou.” So I said I might possibly ask him for his reminiscences of Ryan [Frank Ryan, leader of the Irish contingent in the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, in which both Prendergast and O’Riordan had also fought] if I decided to write his life. Then I had to see Betty Sinclair to London Bridge.
On the way she told me that Prendergast had been in Moscow (why, I don’t know) and found they had established one solitary “English-type” public house. He frequented it so unwisely but so well that he was barred from it. Michael O’Riordan had told her this and his lordship was very indignant: “I told you that in confidence.” Betty Sinclair asked my opinion of him. “I’ve no time for him.” That was also hers. He was utterly unreliable and drank more than he could hold.
She was staying with R.Page Arnot. I telephoned him to say she was on her way, and he said he had just seen the procession on television. That was good. There was as much coverage as is ever given to any but the very biggest demonstrations. When I got back to the Cranbourne Peter Mulligan was there. He had been at the back of the Square, hiding himself. He was with Tony Moore, now big, fat, bloated and stupid, and was in a childishly frivolous mood. Moore tried to make passes at Susan Redmond, I learned afterwards, which explained why she so promptly and decisively assented when I described him as a “bum”. Peter Mulligan was of course defending himself with his frivolity. They were well oiled as they had been with Charlie Cunningham to a German beerhouse. Sean Redmond says Moore is the bad influence on Peter, whose desperate need of companionship is not matched by the ability to form mature relationships. Near closing time Prendergast waddled over to try and appease Elsie who was having none of it. It is characteristic of him that he thinks what he says will influence people. “You’re still pretty,” he told Elsie, who is 71. Actually it is the truth, but she didn’t appreciate it from that source. “You’ll never forgive me,” he wailed. She said nothing. He was so tight that nobody was the slightest embarrassed, and nothing better could have shown him up to those who didn’t know him. Then he turned the sunshine on me. “Ah. You wrote a wonderful book! I congratulate you.” Outside later one of his cronies came up to me, as if to reveal their real mind. He was a tight-lipped fifty-year old with a pointed grey beard, beady eyes and the intensity of malice which is the sole compensation nature gives to people who have lost all hope or self-respect, yet feel that they should have been something. “I congratulate you,” he said, “for thanking the police for their conduct of the demonstration. Thank them for being nice to us.” Prendergast was as quick off the mark as was possible for a man in his condition. “No, No,” he said, “You were right, Desmond. When I was going to Moscow there were two guards on the train.” I didn’t think this was a pun – he was too drunk. It was an example of his monstrously doctrinaire political judgement. I said nothing. What had happened was that a Sergeant had threatened to arrest Sean Redmond for offering badges for sale. The Inspector was reported to have said, “It’s illegal. But we won’t see you doing it. That’s alright, isn’t it Sergeant?” At one point a motorist tried to break the procession and a policeman booked him at once. I think orders had been given that any interference with this procession would handicap Mr Wilson in his work of pacifying Ireland.
Betty Sinclair said to me that her visit had been “an experience” for her and I am quite sure that we have the prospect of much more fruitful cooperation in the future.
May 13 Monday: We were in the office all day, clearing up. In the evening the Irish Committee was held and both Michael O’Riordan and Betty Sinclair attended. After it was over we had a drink and they all greatly enjoyed themselves. I think (and it was interesting) that they now enjoyed themselves better with the Connolly Association crowd than with the ex-Leftists. The press coverage of the event yesterday was excellent, and one of my epigrams was reported in the Times. Holywood at last! But of course the report itself was unclear.
May 14 Tuesday (Nottingham): We met early in the office and left on the midday train for Nottingham. Michael O’Riordan was rather surprised at our doing this city, but when we explained its radical tradition and took him (in the rain) to see the Fergus O’Connor statue [Irish-born Chartist leader, 1794-1855, MP for Cork and later Nottingham] and the plaque in the People’s Hall, he appreciated the point and became quite interested. He is anxious to have us represented at the Joint Council (combined from North and South), but Gollan does not want the British Party represented. Likewise the Irish do not want English representation. Now his proposal is that Joe Deighan, Sean Redmond and myself go alternatively in “an individual capacity”. What about individual expense? Of course there are plenty of designs, and opportunities to create rifts. At the same time, it is clear that while he accepted money from the dissident element he must have declined to make policy with them, or I imagine even to discuss it. And he fell over backwards to make himself pleasant, emphasizing that as far as he and his colleagues were concerned all past differences were forgotten all about. He has plans for an eight-page “broader” monthly paper printed in Ireland, a theoretical quarterly, and the amalgamation of the two parties. At the same time there are reservations in the North. Sean Redmond asked him at one point, “What’s the idea? Do you want us to gang up with you to influence the North?” It was hardly a question that could be replied to in the affirmative. It is much more likely a move towards a new modus vivendi all round, in which Dublin would like hegemony but will take as much as it can get. The positive developments in the country have engendered a less protective outlook.
The meeting was not a powerful success. Only 14 arrived. These included John Peck, Joe Whelan, who acted as chairman and is much more self-assured now that he is a full-time worker for the Miners Union, Andy Tierney, and old Mrs Buck with whom we used to stay. Old Peter Connolly was there and his son Seamus, married with six children, and wilder even than Tomaisin [ie. Tom Redmond in Manchester]. He had us in a bar where his wife works. I don’t know if he got the drink cheap. We suspected it. Then at the hotel O’Riordan produced a bottle of vodka he had acquired on his travels and we assisted him with it.
A most significant thing was that at the meeting when asked what the Irish in Britain could do, O’Riordan said, “First, join the Connolly Association.” This is quite new.
May 15 Wednesday (Liverpool): We saw Michael O’Riordan off to the airport, then Sean Redmond went off to London and I came on to Liverpool. I was glad to see the lilac and the fruit trees in bloom, though the white lilac is not yet out. Despite the cold, this wet spring has been a boon to vegetation, and the trees look very handsome. The rhododendron however has not flowered since 1966 – perhaps my additions of KNO3 were the cause. I must put phosphorus perhaps. There were letters from Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam in Dublin], from Muriel MacSwiney, and Nora Connolly O’Brien, Maire Comerford and others. Helga’s new addition is due in August. She certainly keeps the production-line going! Cathal ls disappointed that this is in the middle of his holiday.
I was somewhat tired after the late night and did little but lounge about and read my correspondence. Muriel [ie. Mrs Terence MacSwiney] has got Terence’s letters and proposes to give them to the Bibliothéque Nationale but she wants someone to “go through them” with her first and it will take several hours. The trouble is that I do not know exactly what she has in mind.
May 16 Thursday: I spent most of today tidying in the garden – and since Mrs Phillips seems to have disappeared, in the house.
May 17 Friday (London): I rang Sean Redmond before leaving for London and reached there in the afternoon. There were no sales arranged for tonight. Apparently the meeting on Wednesday was not too good. I worked on the paper in the evening.
May 18 Saturday: I was the whole day on the paper except in the evening. ZAPU has booked one office but replaced Chetsega with their New York man. Chetsega is very unhappy, as his brother was killed some weeks ago crossing into Rhodesia as a guerilla, and he is in the midst of this political turmoil here. He is a pleasant person. To make matters worse he has not heard from his wife since February. His letters do not seem to reach her, or hers do not reach him. He sat a whole day in our office and at last managed to contact her by telephone. He was more cheerful then. She has a passport for England but is not promised entry. He told her to travel and be damned – needless to say not in English. I was with Pat Hensey in Hammersmith [ie. selling the Irish Democrat around the Irish pubs]. We noticed no less than four policemen standing outside the George at Hammersmith Broadway. We wondered why. Then we saw a café, or snack bar, brightly lit but without a single customer within. Had there been ructions of some kind? Pat Hensey said he recalled complaints from a café-owner on the West London Observer to the effect that police had stationed themselves outside his café and were intimidating his customers. Apparently he was some man with a criminal record. How then can he keep in business? Pat Hensey, despite the lack of leadership, is very sound and is studying Marxism. He says that Charlie Cunningham’s tantrums are responsible for Peter Mulligan’s and that these people do things without calculating the consequences.
May 19 Sunday: We had the Standing Committee in the morning, and Sean Redmond and Jim Kelly both revealed the shocking financial position. I met Vic Eddisford in the afternoon, on my way to the Indian restaurant for lunch. “I hear you’re on the election job?” I said [ie. he would be standing for the CPGB in the next general election; Greaves was sceptical of the value of communist candidates opposing Labour Party ones in British elections].
“I am,” he relied.
“I wish you joy of it!”
“Everybody wishes me the same,” he replied with a wry smile. I realised at once that this was a much-sobered man, quite different from the somewhat cocky young fellow Sean Redmond and I met at the TUC at Blackpool.
“I don’t think we can do it on our own,” he remarked. This sudden conversion to what I have been saying for years startled me. People do after all learn from their experience.
“Well,” said I, “It looks as if nothing can prevent a Conservative victory. So the struggle must come after that – with ourselves and the Labour Left fighting Toryism and trying to brush the rightwing leadership aside.”
“That,” he rejoined, “is the only hope, not only for us, but for them as well.” This is a bit different from Falber’s talk! [Reuben Falber, CPGB official]. He told me that Bill Alexander had retired from full-time work and had got a job teaching. Apparently he is satisfied. But I did not find out the reason for the reshuffle – did not even ask. Eddisford is living for the moment with Willy Harris, which is why he was in Bloomsbury. He will remain there until he can find a house. I rang Joe Deighan and told him Eddisford was here, as he knew him well in Manchester and they now live less than 100 yards apart.
I spent the evening finishing the paper. But for this I would have left for Liverpool again. I have so many lectures to give and articles and reviews to write, that how I am going to touch Mellows I do not know! [Many of these related to James Connolly as 1968 was the centenary year of his birth]
May 20 Monday (Liverpool): I was up at 7.30, went into the office at 8.30 and was well on with the correspondence when Sean Redmond arrived at 10.15. I managed to clear up my desk and by luck got a taxi immediately I went outside the door at 10.50 and almost miraculously caught the 11am.
Wen I got to Mount Road I found that Mrs Hearn had sent Mellows’s correspondence with her mother, which was good, for the material is most useful. Slowly I lift the lid on the American story. This and the good news from France [ie. the May 1968 demonstrations in Paris and elsewhere] made me feel more than usually cheerful, and but for the need to economise I would have celebrated with a bottle of something good! John McClelland, to whom I spoke on the phone, says arrangements are advanced for the meeting at the weekend to which Gerry Fitt and Tony Coughlan are coming, but he cannot estimate the effect of the continuing Liverpool dock strike. It is impossible to conceive of a Corporation or a Government more irresponsibly indifferent to the construction of a public service.
May 21 Tuesday: It was dry and cold and I did some work in the garden, as well as dealing with correspondence, and accounts.
May 22 Wednesday: Again it was dry and cold with a northeast wind. I continued work in the garden – where there is plenty to do. The shrubs and flowering trees are as fine as I ever saw them, but the rhodondendron for the second time has not bloomed.
May 23 Thursday: It was not quite so cold today, but still dry. And Mrs Phillips came! I made a new bed for white turnips and transplanted them into it. Mrs Phillips was a little distressed at the loss of her husband, but she is getting over it and she was glad of my advice to her, “to get over it” as quickly as she could.
May 24 Friday: At last a warmer day – but with signs of a change – which made my turnips wilt though I showered them with water. Rain was forecast but did not occur. Again and again it has happened this year. A cyclone gets blocked by high pressure on the continent and the wind blows sharply from the east – frosts pile up, a complex depression forms and then we have a week’s rain! I prepared the speeches for the weekend in Liverpool and Manchester.
May 25 Saturday: The rain came this morning. And what a downpour, as I expected, all day long! I went into the City but could not make all my purchases as the rain was too heavy for walking in.
May 26 Sunday: At about 10 am. Tony Coughlan arrived. He had come on the new car ferry and told me it was all spit and polish and chromium plate, and blaring television in the restaurant. It is of course designed for brainless motorists, and presumably that is all we can expect. He told me the news of Dublin. Roy and Mairin more or less go their separate ways. Helga expects the new arrrival in August, as I knew. Kader [ie. South African law lecturer Kader Asmal] had been asked to deliver the lecture [a commemorative lecture on James Connolly on the centenary of his birth] to the Irish TUC at Liberty Hall. He declined and suggested Owen Dudley Edwards, much to Tony Coughlan’s dissatisfaction. He thought Edwards a trifle confused, though his delivery and presentation were polish apotheosized. His praise of my own book brought forth a press attack on me from Cathal O’Shannon. He thought everybody smiled and commented on the crabbed old man. No more whiskey for him in the Pearl Bar! We went for a walk through Stretton Woods, had a beer in the Travellers Rest and came back by ‘bus.
After lunch we went to the meeting at the Walker Art Gallery. Eric Heffer [Labour MP for Liverpol Walton, 1922-1991] had travelled up specially from London and gave a good speech. Fitt gave his usual speech at usual length. Tony Coughlan read excerpts fom one he had made in Dublin and I said a few words myself. Despite the bus strike there were about 45 there. Heffer said his father had been a regular British soldier who nevertheless bought the leftwing press, and he remembers the occasion when he told the family about James Connolly. John Gibson was there, J. Roose Williams, his brother and some of the YCL. An “anarchist” descried two plain clothes men at the back. At once Fitt made use of the situation with references to “the two gentlemen at the back”. They heard enough to set their cheeks burning before the meeting was over. The same anarchist thought Heffer an “opportunist”. We noted certain inconsistencies in his speech, and that when he quoted the “New Evangel” [by James Connolly] it was from Clifford’s duplicated reproduction, not from the IWP [Irish Workers Party] one. At the same time it all went down very well and we all had a cup of tea in Lime Street’s filthy railway tea room – except myself who nipped out to the little café in the street where they all queue, drank tea out of a proper cup, then rejoined them. Mai Nolan was at the meeting.
Barney Morgan drove us to Manchester. Gerry Fitt was talking all the way, though he professed to have been up all night on board ship, canvassing some soldiers to the cause. We all doubted it. He said he was wondering how to bring down O’Neill so that Craig [Home MInister at Stormont and ultra-Unionist critic of Captain Terence O’Neill as Prime Minister] would replace him. This would result in cruder behaviour in Belfast and British Labour would be forced to act. This is his mechanical reasoning. Had I any suggestions? He had been told by Phelim O’Neill, Terence’s cousin, who was drunk, that “They’re gunning for Terry.” Apparently the revolt has been well prepared in the constituencies and might succeed. Apparently to show he is as good a Unionist as anybody O’Neill has to attack Fitt. With Craig on one side and Harold Wilson on the other he must move gingerly. “Praise O’Neill for his moderation,” said Tony Coughlan, “that would bring them out against him.” “What,” says Fitt, “and have my own people asking have I gone mad?” I thought it over a bit. Was there anything which might set them on a sensible course? I manufactured a dilemma for him. I told Fitt to get the Civil Liberties [ie. the recently formed NICRA] to launch a concerted attack not on O’Neill but on Craig, the actual author of the ban on the Republican Clubs. The aim should be to get O’Neill to dismiss him. If on the other hand Craig fought back and toppled O’Neill, then the British Government would confront Craig, so we would win either way.
Fitt had had a conversation with Ben Whitaker [Labour MP for Hampstead]. Until recently Wilson used to invite a dozen or so backbenchers to Downing Street every fortnight, ply them with drink and listen to their woes. Fitt put up Whitaker to ask Wilson about the Six Counties. He had just met O’Neill and Craig together. He commented to Whitaker, “I’ve just met the Lardner-Burke of Northern Ireland”[a Rhodesian ultra and supporter of a unilateral declaration of independence there]. Fitt and Whitaker professed to see in this a sign of Wilson’s critical attitude to Northern Ireland. Our party in the car saw only Wilson’s preference for O’Neill as a better smokescreen – an Ian Smith was not on the cards. Still we were able to rub in the idea of an attack on Craig. Fitt then expounded his idea of a petition to the House of Commons, and some way of getting it raised in the Lords that Geoffrey Bing had put him up to. Fitt says Labour members are writing to their old employers to see if their jobs are open [ie. in case they lost their seats in the next general election].
Among other things he expressed the opinion that Winifred Ewing will now be ostracized for her remarks on the drinking habits of MPs. She has no great opinion of them and may not worry. I remember her saying at the Manchester meeting that Lena Jeger was “one of the more pleasant features of the House of Commons”.
We went into the Indian Restaurant at All Saints, then to Chorlton Town Hall. The CP had booked the Registry Office for a meeting on France [ie. on the May events in Paris]. This did not please me, though it need not detract much from ours. It shows how utterly unimportant they rate Ireland. But that is nothing new. Their meeting was spoiled by Trotskies who chanted, “We want the revolution now.” I wanted a thousand pounds, but I couldn’t get it!
Our meeting was fair, though it started late. Eddie Frow [Manchester trade unionist and later founder with his wife Ruth of the Workingclass Movement Library, Salford] made a scholarly speech and Frank Allaun covered a deal of ground [1913-2002, MP for Salford East]. He was less effective than Heffer but is palpably a much more genuine man. Ted Ainley [secretary of the Communist Party’s cultural committee in the 1960s and before that secretary of the Association of Scientific Workers, of which Desmond Greaves was a member] once told me that Allaun’s father was the biggest financial rogue in Manchester and that Frank reacted against it so strongly that he cares nothing for money. “He’s a saint,” said Ainley – I do not know how literally this was to be taken. Tony Coughlan and Gerry Fitt made the speeches they had made in Liverpool, but I saw there were a few native Irish present, so I changed mine. Michael Crowe was there. He has his hair dangling down at the back like a youngster though he is 36 or 37. “He’s gone to the dogs,” said John McClelland. He soon leaves for Sunderland, and Tom Redmond leaves for Dublin. Mrs Daly was very sad, saying this would be the last occasion when we would meet in Manchester. I wonder if Tom has been putting that round? I told her we would not give it up easily. The work Joe Deighan initiated [ie. in the 1950s and early 1960s] has now reached its point of liquidation and for this I blame Tom’s utter irresponsibility and ineptitude. And with the Redmond conceit he will never learn.
Thdere was one interesting thing. A lad who said he would join said that the boys on his building site did not think much of the Connolly Association. I thought it would be allegations of communism. But no. “They say the day we separated from England was the worst Ireland ever had.” So it has come to this! Barney Morgan drove me back, picked up a healthworker who is doing two nights a week at the till in a night-club, and brought her out to Greasby before taking her back to his part of Liverpool. She said that eight night-clubs had been opened in Liverpool by her firm in the past six weeks.
May 27 Monday: In the morning Tony Coughlan came. We had lunch and then went out by train to Caergwrle [a village in Flintshire]. But torrential rain came down. We sheltered awhile, had a drink and then came back. I do not recall such a thoroughly bad month of May in many years, and I have another cold. We discussed the meeting, noting for example the presence of Jim Gardiner and his wife at Manchester – they have both aged badly and she expressed her dislike of it. “I’d sooner be sixty four than seventy-four,” she said. He also looks very frail. Barney Watters was there, well up in his seventies. Tony Coughlan told me that the United Irishman had increased its circulation by 40%. The O’Moran libel action had been removed by Sean Garland’s line of action [it is not clear what this refers to] And the same had happened over the breach of copyright Jim O’Regan was involved in. Now they have given orders that if anybody says anything about anybody Kader Asmal [law lecturer in Trinity College] must see it first [ie.to check it for libel].
May 28 Tuesday: I rang Sean Redmond in London. There were about 35 in Leeds, and Corscadden turned up, the wild, lame, flamboyant Leitrim man who used to sell the paper in Coventry. He thought there was some interest there. In the evening John McClelland came over.
May 29 Wednesday: I had intended to go to the cottage today, but left it till midday in the mistaken belief that Mrs Phillips was coming. It was as well I did as a letter came from Cathal saying he was coming on Saturday morning and would accompany me to Salop.
In the evening I went to the Philharmonic concert. Yhe Philharmonic Orchestra of Israel was there. I aked for a seat in the best part of the hall and was charged only 10/-, “reduced from two guineas” the box-office clerk told me. All around were ladies in gorgeous wraps, shimmering with gold and silver, men in dress suits and a tubby individual with a chain whom I took to be the Lord Mayor. I had still a cold and did not much enjoy the programme. Schonberg’s “Verdammte Nacht” I consider amorphous. It put me in mind of a time I was with Alan Hodge in his house in Prince’s Boulevard. He is still coincidentally editor of History Today, I believe. Norman Suckling [English composer and pianist] was there, only 25 but bald, black and heavy. I think Hodge was still at school. I happened to say that CEG [his father] had been listening to a long dismal work by Schonberg. ”Ugh!” said Suckling with a shudder, dismissing the work as not fit for mention in decent society, “Definitely post-Wagnerian”. The Brahms concerto for violin in D was played by a legless fiddler – I thought the orchestra lacked sparkle – possibly through not having a single resident conductor, for I thought the response was a little sluggish. Then came the “Eroica”, and I thought the tempi wrong and the thing not sustained, but again I was not in the mood. I imagine the event was to be a great rally of Liverpool Jewry and that exceptionally high prices were first tried but then withdrawn. When it was over the social occasion was resumed and I overheard one well-dressed person ask another, “Did you enjoy it?” “Yes,” she replied, “but it was rather heavy.”
May 30 Thursday: I spent the day on the Glasgow Trades Council lecture [on James Connolly] for the most part, though I also did a few odd jobs in the garden.
May 31 Friday: I spent the day on the Edinburgh Centenary lecture, apart from which I got a few things for Cathal’s visist.
June 1 Saturday (The Stiperstones, Shropshire): Cathal arrived quite early, but before we could go we had to replace a three-speed cable in the Calton which he used. I rode the Houndsworth. We cycled to Neston North and took the train to Wrexham. After lunch there we went by train to Gobowen and then cycled through Kennerley, Melverley and Worthen to the cottage. Cathal was very taken by 124 Mount Road [his family home in Prenton, Birkenhead, which he had inherited from his sister], which he thought “a place you could get attached to”. Unfortunately, we got to the cottage very late. It was sprinkling rain, and we did nothing but air the mattresses and go to bed.
June 2 Sunday: We cycled to the Stiperstones Hotel and had a drink – after hours, much to the surprise of Cathal who had never heard of such a thing in England. In the affteroon we walked to Linley Big Wood and traced the Onni northwestward. Of course I got all the news. Egon and Conor will not go to the Rathmines Fianna because it is too rough and dictatorial and nobody there can teach them anything. Both Egon and Finoula will be ten next week and they are very independent now. They all speculate over the sex of the coming child, the girls wanting a girl, the boys a boy. Helga sold a plot of land in Germany at a great price and they are redecorating 24 Belgrave Road [ie. the house in Rathmines to which the MacLiam family had recently moved from Finglas] in great style, central heating, everything. Visiting them Fred Heatley of Belfast [a committee member of the NICRA] asked, “How can you afford a place like this?” He must be a Lancashire man! When Argue came into the office and told his name Dorothy Deighan said, “That’s a funny name!” In the evening we walked down to the Stiperstone for a drink.
June 3 Monday (Liverpool): We left the cottage at about 1 pm. and went to Minsterley. Once again there was drinking after hours. We were amused at this. Is it that the Minsterley police are “sensible men”? Everywhere as we cycled back to Gobowen we saw the empty houses, the work of that criminal Wilson and his predecessors, On the train were five cyclists – apart form whom I doubt if we saw another five. I think I had seen the group before, one a hunchback. Cathal decided to stay overnight.
June 4 Tuesday (Glasgow): I arranged for Cathal to go to John McClelland’s for the night. Then we took a taxi to Exchange and I entrained for Glasgow. It was a desperate journey. First there was the slow train to Preston. Then the Glasgow express (from Birmingham) was announced 35 minutes late. I bought a glass of beer – the train came in unexpectedly near the time and I had to gulp it. I had lunch on the train and the waiter spilled wine all over me. However, I arrived at about 5.30 pm. and went to see Wyper at the Trades Club, where he showed me the vast extensions they have made.
Before the meeting Charlie Byrne arrived with a large number of old-timers, Jim Sutherland, chief of Scottish ITV [Independent Television], in all about 80 to 90, and the talk [a Connolly commemoration lecture] was very well received. We had a wee drink with Broadbent who runs the Railway Development Association. He has compelled British Railways to run three extra trains to Kilbride, and he urges a plan for vast rail extensions In Glasgow to be operated free of charge. The cost per annum would be equivalent to one mile of motorway. We spoke of congestion. “I’d like to put a bomb under all the motorcar fuckers,” said I, not too literally. He was immensely delighted. And yet I learned he was one of the chief engineers at Rolls Royce! Old Bob Irvine with whom I stayed years ago was there.
I stayed the night with Charlie Byrne. He told me that Jim Sutherland, who said a few words, had been a great friend of the author of the “Scots Quaire” – Burke, I think his name was [an error this; the author of this trilogy of novels on Scottish life, written in the 1930s, was Lewis Grassic Gibbon]. When ITV was started the Director asked Burke to get talent. Burke gave the job to Sutherland, who filled up Sottish ITV with the leftwingers the BBC would not allow within a league of a microphone. Charlie Byrne was very bitter against Gordon McLennan, whom he described as a “little scoundrel”, and Maggie Hunter. He described them as “Orange communists” who had embarked on a campaign of “character assassination” when he started working for the Connolly Association. If somebody important came they would genuflect, always there was a charming smile, but they had always got choppers ready. He said Bill Loughlan had had a nervous breakdown and blamed the two mentioned. I would hesitate to say this was so. But it appears so to him. On the other hand, to Jimmy Reid he gives a powerful name. Byrne tells me that he cannot now go to town as his ability to walk has been further impaired. It is really amazing that he is still going on.
June 5 Wednesday: I cycled in to see Wyper and had lunch with him. I found him a somewhat limited person in general conversation. I made the error of remarking that Edinburgh was a beautiful city – something never to be said before Glasgwegians. Wyper denied that cities could be beautiful. “Beauty? You mean Princes Street. I can understand the beauty of an aeroplane! Something made by men.” Presumably cities are not made by men, nor streets – at any rate not by aircraft engineers, of which he used to be one. But a minute later he was extolling the virtues of St Vincent St., Glasgow! He is of Polish extraction, he thinks, but does not seem certain. In the great controversy over Scottish Nationalism he does not think the CP should “become more nationalist”.
He says his club has a turnover of £100,000 a year. The Labour Party people have dubbed it “The Kremlin”. “But I don’t care,” he says, “money talks.” I suggested to Wyper the possibility of a Connolly scholarship to be awarded by the Scottish TUC. He was not encouraging but thought Kelsen might do something.
When I got to the Edinburgh Trades Council office who should be sitting there with John Henry but Gerald Griffin of New Zealand. Henry arranged accommodation for him with a Mrs Alexander and I was at the County Hotel which I think is CWS [ie. run by the Cooperative Wholesale Society] like the Grand in Glasgow. I accompanied Griffin to his digs. Mrs Alexander had lost her husband two years ago. And last night she had waited up for two booked guests who had never arrived – motorists, needless to say. They had just driven off without cancelling. I was prompted to remark that Griffin was a very important man, General Secretary of the Post Office Workers Union of New Zealand. “My husband was a great trade unionist,” said she. “He was a member of the Trades Council.”
We returned to the County and I was just leaving when Cook – I think no longer a councillor – arrived. A round-faced man of about 40. He was the chairman.
The next people I saw were Fiona and Nora Connolly O’Brien [two daughters of James Connolly; Mrs Fiona Connolly-Edwards had typed the MS of Greaves’s biography of Connolly]. “Go into the hall first,” says Fiona, “and make sure Bert is not there”[ie. her husband, Bert Edwards, from whom she was estranged]. He wasn’t. “He’ll be there on Saturday. He’ll want to be there with me.” She told me that he had been writing to Roddy Connolly and had convinced him that she and I were “bonkers” and that he wasn’t off his head at all, and that the scene he created in our office was a figment of our imagination. But I myself heard him assert that Fiona was guilty of incest with her son, also called Roderick. Other Connollys were present – Seamus, young Roddy Connolly’s son, and his daughter Jessica, very excited, the first time out of Ireland (aged 16) and the first time in a plane. Cousins were there too, one of them the image of Fiona’s Roderick and not unlike the old man himself. Fitt had asked Nora to unveil his Belfast plaque. She had kept him waiting for a reply so long that he had invited Roddy, and Nora had decided on Edinburgh instead.
There were about 80 people present and the lecture was well-received. We went to the Trades Club afterwards, and I sat in the midst of the Clan Connolly. Fiona’s landlord had seen Connolly on television. His wife said, “That must be Fiona’s father. She calls herself Fiona Connolly-Edwards and she has the same photograph over her mantelpiece.” “Nonsense”, said the landlord, “That couldn’t be. He was a very great man.” I spoke to Abe Moffatt [Scottish Miners leader] who thought the scholarship idea a good one, and to Henry who thought the same. Having told me the BBC had let him down, and so had Telefis Eireann, I told him about Jim Sutherland. Nora told me that when her father first heard the phrase “the inevitability of gradualism” used by some English Labour man, he nearly had a canary fit. Several people from tne United Irish League were there, and the “East of Scotland Irish Association”. They were mostly of Scottish birth. And there was also a schoolteacher called Hughes who asked a question I thought hostile, but who turned out not to be.
June 6 Thursday: I spent the morning in Edinburgh with Gerald Griffin. He told me that Mrs Alexander had in her possession an autographed copy of my book which her father had bought at a meeting I addressed some years ago. I took him to the Cowgate [the area of Edinburgh where James Connolly had been born] and showed the character of the surrounding district. He is an extraordinarily interesting and intelligent man, and he formed many absolutely correct conclusions at a distance of 15,000 miles from Ireland which he left as a boy about fifty-five years ago – so long ago that he has no trace of a Cork accent but speaks like a New Zealander.
He was secretary of an Irish Self-determination League in New Zealand in 1920 or thereabouts (he is 64 now, so that he must have been young) and joined the New Zealand CP. He was on its Central Committee. After 1928 there were some ructions, largely surrounding his opposition to the current sectarianism, and he retired for a while. He was brought back, made general secretary in (about) 1934 and went to Australia to a conference aganst war and Fascism together with Kisch. He was given a test in Dutch, Kisch in Gaelic, and they were out of Australia that night. I remember this happening. He returned under a false name, held a number of meetings, but was then instructed to give himself up so as to bring the case before the courts. This kept him in Australia for some months, though he won the case. In the meantime his brothers were jailed for their political activities and he had to decide to quit in order to keep the home going.
One who joined his SDL was Loughran, the youngest member of Connolly’s ISRP [Irish Socialist Republican Party], who emigrated for some personal reasons in 1913 or thereabouts. Griffin describes him as the “forgotten man of Australian communism”. He is thinking of doing a little memoir of Loughran whom he regards as a remarkable man. In London he hopes to meet R.Page Arnot and if possible R.Palme Dutt and go to the Marx Memorial Library. He has a great regard for Dutt and used to correspond with Sean Murray. But he has a weak heart and must walk very slowly up steps. I think that is why he retired at 64.
I went to Glasgow again and called to the new National office, out in the same Albert Road that Maggie Hunter used to inhabit when Cathal was there [ie. Cathal MacLiam, who had spent some time in Glasgow in the early 1950s]. But Reid was not there. Finlay Hart was, and my arrival prompted a set of reminiscences (he was in the SLP [Socialist Labour Party], which greatly interested Ian Mackie (If I have his name right) who is new there. When I got to the Byrnes’ I mentioned Alexander. Charlie Byrne said that at the meeting in Edinburgh to launch my book a most respectable gentleman in spats bought a copy from Maggie Byrne. She thought it a good idea to ask me to autograph it, which I did. Charlie Byrne walked along the road with him a little suspicious. However, he thinks he represented NALGO [National Association of Local Government Officers]. As there was only one other copy sold on that occasion this must have been Alexander. Both of the Byrnes said they had no opinion of Travers, who is a romantic and they had tried to get him out of the Association as tney think he will do harm. He is no longer acting on television but is a builder’s labourer.
The meeting was quite good, about 50 present, including Alec Clarke. I met CM Grieve [Christopher Murray Grieve, the Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid] for the first time for about 15 years. He is becoming frail. Sean Redmond was there and made a correct but pedestrian speech. There was a mixed audience, with quite a number of Donegal lads, and the Sinn Feins all in a row, complaining afterwards because there were no questions, though they didn’t attend when there were! Peter Sweeney had a drink with CM Grieve, Clarke and me afterwards, and Sweeney was inclined to associate himself with the CA. Outside when Michael Grieve had come and collected his father (“He is editing the SNP [Scottish National Party] paper, but he agrees with me about them,” says Christopher), I met a DATA official, or at least an EC member, who asked me if I knew Cooley. I said I did. He seemed friendly enough, so I asked him about sponsoring the CA in Scotland. His response was refreshing. “I’m a member of the CP,” he said to begin with. “But a comrade with whom I am most intimate and whose political judgement I value most highly, tells me that you are wasting your time. You are wasting all these high abilities that could be put to better use. You cannot do anything for Ireland except in Ireland. The Irish workers must look after themselves. We don’t need any Tariq Alis in this country.” I gathered he meant that Tariq Ali [Pakistani leftwing spokesman in the British student movement] should go home and not try to lead British students. I pointed out that Britain had troops in Ireland. “They are trying to close down Harland and Wolff both here and in Belfast. The workers have the same issues. It’s not a matter of England and Ireland.” So there was one of Charlie Byrne’s Orange Communists of whom he says there are many[Greaves used frequently refer to such “Orange communists”, particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and their lack of interest in the Connolly Association’s work in Britain and their lack of understanding of the national question generally].
Apparently Travers had not notified Sean Redmond of the arrangements, so he stayed in a hotel. I suggested we bring all the boys for a talk. “I’m seeing them tomorrow night,” Travers declared, with a slightly unpleasant smile. “I’m going boozing with them.” It was very clear to me that he didn’t want me talking with the members. I wonder why.
The very good YCL lad from Kilbride and a friend drove us from Partick into the centre of the city. The friend “hated” CM Grieve, who addressed a march of English people who had walked to the Holy Loch [against the nuclear base there] with the words, “Now you English, get away back to England. You’re not wanted here.” “He was drunk,” said the other, and the entire talk was about Scotch Nationalism. Sean Redmond said he had the same in Perth and Dundee. I caught the 11.55 to Liverpool.
I was thinking quite a lot about my Scottish experiences and about Idrix Cox’s discussion article in Marxism Today [on Scottish and Welsh nationalism]. I was turning over in my mind the wisdom of making a plain straightforward statement in favour of self-determination for Scotland and Wales, including the right of secession. This is in accord with my feeling, and always has been, but thought must be exercised upon it.
June 7 Friday (Liverpool): I spent most of the day preparing for the trip to Dublin which I have to make tomorrow. There was no correspondence.
June 8 Saturday: Another day comprised entirely of preparing lecture notes and working in the garden. I left for Dublin in the evening.
June 9 Sunday (Dublin): It was a calm crossing but I did not sleep well. I had a slight headache when I came to Moran’s Hotel with Cathal. We went a short walk as we were early. The thing was due to begin at 10.45 am [a public meeting on the James Connolly centenary organised by the Irish Workers Party]. I thought there would be nobody there, but Heavens! The room was crammed– there must have been 150 at least. These included Peter O’Connor, Maire Comerford, Roy Johnston, Tony Coughlan, Mrs Tom Johnston who is 93, Ina Connolly, Desmond Brannigan, Donal Nevin, Barry Desmond, Seamus Costello, Cathal Goulding, Seamus O’Toole, Vincent McDowell, John Swift, MIchael O’Riordan, Sean Nolan, Sam Nolan, Packie Early, indeed the whole of the progresssive movement of Dublin. Carmody took the chair [Paddy Carmody, leading Irish Workers Party figure] – needless to say the IWP were cock-a-hoop. And the thing was well received, what was more.
Maire Comerford invited me to go with her afterwards and have lunch with Aileen McGrane and Sheila Humphreys at Aileen McGrane’s house. It was a little gate-crashing, but I was happy to go and we were made very welcome. The vivacity of these Cumann na mBan veterans is tremendous. They get as big a kick out of life as they did when they were girls. Men are half-stupid by the time they reach the middle seventies. Aileen McGrane was not the formal professor anymore. She was winking at Maire Comerford’s girlish enthusiasms in between showing her own. She was furious at the knocking-down of Dublin’s historical buildings. “And aren’t they all capitalists who are driving it?” Sheila Humphreys said she always believed in the social revolution. “But I’ll find it hard to give things up, as I know I must.” Maire Comerford, not having much, could afford to be more philosophic. They spoke about Mrs Llewelyn-Davies who “ran something approaching a brothel in Raheny.” Her name had been O’Connor (I think) and her father had betrayed the “Invincibles” and was the cause of Carey getting the blame. They consider she was a British agent who set out to suborn Collins with malice prepense.
I had a brief sleep at 24 Belgrave Road and then met Cathal and Tony Coughlan at Mooneys. After that we had a meal at Nicos and as 24 Belgrave Road [where the MacLiam family lived] was in a chaotic state, Roy Johnston who called invited me to stay at No.22, as Mairin Johnston is away in Kiltimagh. There is a huge new painting in the room which Mairin, going to an exhibition with Carmel O’Dwyer, bought when she was drunk for £60, selling the ring Roy’s mother had given her and enjoined her never to part with, to pay for it. She and he go their separate ways. He actually called her, jestingly, “my ex-wife”.
Just before Cathal left Roy Johnson said that he would shortly be taking over the secretaryship of the Wolfe Tone Society. “If you’re elected, Roy”, said Cathal. He said Tony Coughlan would take his job as Education Officer of another organisation [Roy Johnston was education officer of the IRA at the time, having joined it and Sinn Fein some years before]. “Indeed,” said I, “but isn’t he in the IWP?” “Well, Tony’s in the same position as myself.” “You mean as to membership?” “Yes, indeed.” I then gave him a piece of my mind, with Cathal backing me up. “You’ve got to go where people want you,” he answered lamely. “Which people?” I told him that as far as I was concerned there was only one centre, and that was that of the workingclass movement, and that he appeared to think there were two. “I consulted Nolan”, he said. “About Tony?” “No. That’s his affair.” “What, not your affair? You’re a member too” [An error this: A.Coughlan was not a member of the IWP. See Note attached to the entry in this Volume for September 20 1967; also the cognate entry for March 15 1970 in Vol.21]. I told him he would get the Republicans into a mess and then we’d get the blame. “Well, like me, Tony was asked.” “I’d have more respect for you if you did it on your own initiative.” Cathal, who is chairman of the Society, learned of impending changes on his committee for the first time.
Roy then pronounced himself worried. He felt for some time I had doubts about his straddling two horses. He would think carefully over what I said. I did not mince my words here either. “Well, when you think, think long, too, as your main defect is over-rapid passage from thought to action.” “And in the meantime,” I added for good measure, “Don’t do it again. Don’t take anybody else.”
June 10 Monday: I met Peadar O’Donnell at the Gresham in the morning and a young man – professor of something in the USA – who was on a visit here, a Cork man I would judge. Peadar said Fr McDyer had “gone soft”. He had been at my lecture. His only criticism was that I was too generous to the Connolly family. Nora and Roddy had broken up the Republican Congress. The young man said he knew Emmet Larkin and that he had only published his book in London because he could not get a publisher in the USA.
Later I called to Sean Nolan. The papers gave the attendance as over 200. I told him about Roy Johnston and Tony Coughlan and he was as angry as I was. “It’s like having the IRB [Irish Republican Brotherhood] all over again,” he remarked. I did not record it yesterday, but I told Roy my opinion of the burning of the buses in Limerick [an IRA incident carried out ostensibly to assist a local trade union strike] – in Gerald Griffin’s words, “political slumming”. Needless to say, Nolan entirely agreed with me. Roy has no more understanding of Marxism than a cat. I saw Helga later and then took the Liverpool ship.
[EDITORIAL NOTE: In 2002 Roy Johnston asked the Editor could he read the original text of the Greaves Journal for purposes of his autobiography, later published in 2006 as “Century of Endeavour”. Having read the Journal he asked to be permitted to insert a signed note with the original manuscript text, to be deposited in the National Library, following the above entries, and a few similar signed notes following some later entries. The Editor agreed and the first of these notes is reproduced here as follows:
“On June 10 1968 CDG recorded meeting with Sean Nolan and told him about RJ and AC, and SN was as angry as he was: ‘It’s like having the IRB over again’…I was said to have ‘no more understanding of Marxism than a cat…’ He then went back to Liverpool.
CDG had not grasped the extent to which the IWP vision and mode of operation, rooted as it was in the by then totally corrupted and Moscow-dominated ‘international movement’ was a political cul-de-sac in the Irish context. They were like a religious cult, with Moscow instead of Rome. AC and I had, in our separate ways, understood this, and envisioned a much broader-based movement, while keeping to the Marxist core-idea of getting democratic control over the capital re-investment process. In our ‘feline Marxism’ we had the vision of building a national unity movement around the combined interests of working people, including small business and self-employed in the definition. The idea of the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ in the Irish context was a non-starter, whatever dubious value it may have had in more industrialised countries, and that indeed also was open to question. The ultra-left of course regarded this as heresy, and openly attacked us, as indeed they did with CDG when he tried to promote the Connolly Association as a broad-based national movement. AC and I were trying to do in Ireland something somewhat similar to what CDG was trying to do in Britain. I don’t think he ever understood this. [Signed]: RHW Johnston, 10 January 2002”]
June 11 Tuesday (Liverpool): I spent the whole day pottering round the garden and clearing up business correspondence.
June 12 Wednesday: I extracted references to nations form the Communist Manifesto as part of the preparation for a talk next week, also did correspondence relating to the book and did some work in the garden. The hot dry weather has continued. The white lilac is now just beyond iis best but all the shrubs are the best I saw them – the air is scented with roses. The weight of flowers has actually broken a branch on the “Madam Butterfly” and the “Hugh Dixon” is weighed down with a mass of crimson. Partly it is the good season, but possibly also in these instances it may be the basic slag.
June 13 Thursday: I continued the work on next Sunday’s lecture and sat in the garden for it. But laburnum petals began to fall like snow and threatened to submerge the typewriter.
June 14 Friday: I learned that Tom Redmond leaves for Dublin tomorrow. I rang Michael Crowe and arranged to see him in Manchester and see how we could pull things together.
June 15 Saturday: I was busy on the book till evening when I met Michael Crowe at All Saints at 6.15 pm. He was quite changed – like his old self. He said he thought it was hopeless to do anything while Tom Redmond was there and that now he was sorry he was leaving. I got the impression that he would have tried harder to remain if he had known Tom was going. He complained that everything was decided individually by Tom who answered every complaint with, “I’ve arranged it with Seán.” He would never get anything definite. Week after week speakers for branch meetings failed to turn up. Later he discovered that Tom Redmond had forgotten to invite them. Then Tom put the job of inviting speakers on to the Belfast girl, who of course failed. Michael Crowe thinks this was a deliberate plan to stifle her criticism and show others were as bad. He lost interest in branch meetings two years ago. His main interest was himself and any publicity he could get on press or television. When Sean came they would meet in Tom Redmond’s house, and Tom would do most of the talking and Sean the rest. As for Sean, Michael Crowe said he would never discuss anything with him and he thought the reason was that he was totally lacking in self-confidence. Asked why he didn’t put up a stronger fight against Tom Redmond he said it was like trying to catch a fly with your bare hands. Tom would ask him to attend a meeting at Platt Fields, then when he got there Tom would not turn up. He got to the point where he had no confidence whatever in Tom’s ability or willingness to keep any arrangement he made. He was prepared to spend a week of fulltime political work in Manchester and would do all he could to leave someorganisation behind him. But Tom had gone away with the membership list and left the finances in chaos; nor had he appointed any successor, or even called a meeting to do so. He had concocted with Sean Redmond some arrangement to have Pat Garrett as secretary, but Pat did not want to do it. We agreed to try a meeting on Tuesday week and thereafter bring Michael O’Riordan there. After that we went on a sale, and I was struck first by the prevalence of countrymen, and second by the ready support. One interesting thing was that Michael Crowe came by accident across a letter that Tom Redmond had protested to Sean Redmond at the latter’s having read out his letter at a Standing Committee meeting. Possibly this was the start of Sean’s tendency to keep certain items of business to himself. It looks very much as if as important a factor in the demoralization of Sean Redmond or his wife has been the necessity for protecting his brother from criticism. For I knew damn well there was something wrong, and yet I could never get to the bottom of it.
June 16 Sunday: I spent the whole day on the talk and nearly finished it. It is one of those damned things they give to those attending, so it has to be written out – a desperate nuisance, and it is bound to be the wrong length. I was speaking to John McClelland on the phone. He said Sean Redmond had written to him asking would be go to Manchester once a week for the sales. But Michael Crowe had told him not to agree till he had tried to revive Manchester. I had thought when I saw Michael Crowe growing his hair in a kind of curl at the back of his neck that this was a sign of the type of demoralization that Brian Farrington used to accuse him of, but clearly this is not so – possibly it is the last loss of inhibition that marks boyhood’s end! I think Michael will be about 37 or thereabouts. At the same time I always had more confidence in him than in anybody else there. Of course Sean Redmond was doing his best – the best that would not take him off his office chair.
June 17 Monday (London): I finished off the lecture, did some work in the garden that had to be done and then took the 4.30 pm. to London.
June 18 Tuesday: I went into the office. Apparently Sean Redmond is quite complacent about the Manchesters. I think he is completely overweighed by the financial problem and has become defeatist. He therefore obstructs every proposal aimed at improvement and though we will miss his office work, on balance he will probably be best away. For he has ceased to react politically and when I said bring along some of the ordinary members to the E.C. [ie. the Connolly Aassociation Executive], he had all kinds of formalistic qualms. I saw Idris Cox for a few minutes in the afternoon. I thought he did not look too well. Jim Kelly was in during the evening, in good form, probably the most promising of the youngsters. And Eamon MacLaughlin was there, rehearsing his concert.
June 19 Wednesday: I worked on the paper most of the day. In the evening there was a very full meeting when Fr Donnelly spoke on racialism [This was probably the regular CA Central London Branch meeting.] It was he who tackled the dockers in East London, and he said that the television completely started the thing by showing only the opposition. Later he started avoiding them as they only distort. He is quite a young man – I think he said only 29 – a Glaswegian but a graduate of Cambridge. I would say he was able enough. He said he was appointed the virtual spokesman of the Catholic Church on colour questions because he himself started to agitate about it. He is a Franciscan and at present teaches in an East End school. But he will work full-time on race relations from next September. A key remark was that in the East Indies 75% of the Catholics practice their religion; among the immigrants into Britain it is 4%. We took him to the Pindar of Wakefield and bought him a few whiskies, and he then admitted that there were those who thought he was going anong dreadful people in coming to our meeting. Among those present were Des Logan, Tadhg Egan, Peter Mulligan, whom I had invited to come and mend a typewriter for me, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Gerry Curran – quite a gathering of the clans.
June 20 Thursday: I worked on the paper all day and am quite well advanced, with a week in hand. I seem to be the only resident left in Cockpit Chambers, as I see all the other flats show signs of emptiness. So we will see what happens next. In the evening Eamon MacLaughlin came in to rehearse his musical effort, and later Des Logan appeared with Mairin Johnston, whom he had met at the airport. She brought my watch which I had left at Roy’s. She was in great spirits – over nothing of course. Eamon MacLaughlin smelled strongly of drink when he first arrived, but that did not stop his celebrating again afterwards. He has grown fatter still and almost waddles. But he seems to enjoy himself.
June 21 Friday: I came near to finishing the paper, a week ahead of time! It is to be hoped no sudden developments take place! [ie. in Northern Ireland; the first Civil Rights Association march there, from Coalisland to Dungannon, was to take place just two months later]. I heard from Jane Tate that Jimmy Smith died three weeks ago while I was away. We had lunch with Mairin Johnston who told Sean Redmond while I was out that she was none too pleased with the IRA, some of whose members appeared on her doorstep fearfully dishevelled, and that day she read about the bus burnings! She said to one of them, “Do you think burning those buses the best way to help the workers?” “Fuck the workers,” was the reply. I was to get a story of the carpenters’ strike. There were no pickets, and five men hung about reeking with spirits. There was no story.
June 22 Saturday: I finished the paper to all intents and purposes, revised tomorrow’s talk, and was out with Sean Redmond in the evening [ie. selling the monthly paper].
June 23 Sunday: I went to give the talk at Marx House [probably on James Connolly as Marxist]. Among those present were Des Logan, Eamon MacLaugnlin, Elsie O’Dowling, Chris Sullivan, Tadhg Egan, Pat Hensey, Jenkins who was at Cambridge with Alan Morton, Phyllis Bell, Barbara Ruheman and quite a few others. It was indeed well attended. The Clifford gang were there and made themselves unpopular by using the meeting as a platform to attack the Connolly Association and myself. Among them was Kearney, the Belfast man who worked for Gael Linn. He is now pallid and grey and wears that mask of introverted tension characteristic of these people. It is as if a man really interested in Marxism should be allowed to study it on the one condition that he utilize his studies for the benefit of the secret police. He must imagine that people who enable him to study are betraying themselves or he will betray himself, to himself. I told them it was no business of the meeting if the Connolly Association chose to deprive itself of the amiable society of these estimable gentlemen. Even Clifford laughed at this. They had already exposed themsleves by defying the chairman several times. Then I went to Liverpool.
June 24 Monday (Liverpool): I spent most of the day in the garden, but mentally developed the theory of the Scottish and Welsh nationalisms, and the connection with the decay of colonialism. The garden had advanced enormously in the past few days. I was surprised. The turnips were flowering and scrophularaceous plant I rescued as a dry seedling because I thought it was a verbascum, had produced a splendid yellow flowering spoke. Gardens tell the history of their owners. The bright red Hugh Dixon rose came from Rock Ferry. CEG [his father] got it soon after he bought the house he had rented. Another ilant thus bought was the clematis. The raspberries and birch trees were, I think, here already. Only the plain yellow one of the brooms CEG planted are still here. Every man with a new garden plants too much. He put in the lilacs, the Dervilla, the Mme Butterfly rose, a plum tree (since gone) but I think the cherries (now dead stumps) were here already. I think I planted the mullins. I brought Geranium Sanguinium from Rock Ferry. It came from Great Saughall near Chester. I used to be friendly with AH Williams while we were schoolboys – he became a doctor in Bristol and was the recipient of a notorious criminal confession which made legal history. His grandmother lived near Chester and we cycled out there. This would be 1927 or 1928. How different things were. The country was quiet. There was no road traffic to speak of. Williams used to stay there and play with the country boys, then all got up in brown corduroy shorts and jerseys. I remember asking if they resented the intrusion of city-dwellers like himself, got up in tweed suits, school blazers and suchlike. Not a bit. They were intensely interested in the life of the town, now just beginning to force itself on them. I daresay Great Saughall is now either a suburban housing estate or non-existent but for a solitary farmhouse. In those days there were many children in the country.
Then there are the plants that came from Mary Greaves’s remarkable garden in Portsmouth, the poppies, the japonica and the genothera. I rescued some of these – they were absent in 1965, but my earth-moving operations brought up many dormant seeds. During the war Phyllis was in Llanberis whence she brought Welsh onions. I think the Helleborus must have been brought from Ireland by AEG [his mother], as Phyllis strongly enjoined on me not to leave it here but to give it to Alan Morton if I didn’t have a garden for it. It was the only plant she wished to ensure a friendly owner. The daffodils and iris plants were surely from Phyllis’s time on her own. So when I look round I bring to mind many past events. My own operations have been reasonably successful. I have cleared the jungle behind the house, and after moving the roses planted about 20 years ago, I have them flowering for the first time in years. But there is still plenty to do.
June 25 Tuesday (Manchester): I cleared up odds and ends, then left for Manchester. Despite the rail “work to rule” I arrived there without difficulty and went to the meeting I had called in Moss Side. Michael Crowe was there and old Barney Watters. I was very pleased that no less than 12 members turned up. I proposed that we try a meeting with Michael O’Riordan on July 16 as he will be in England. This was taken up with enthusiasm. Joe McCrudden and the construction boys were on strike and had been drinking all day. Joe threw down a £5 note and insited that the Registry Office be taken for the O’Riordan meeting and offered to guarantee the cost of the hall. His colleagues backed him up. It was more than I intended but in the end I accepted it as to make a success of something would change the whole situation. Michael Crowe is his old self. He was just waiting till Tom Redmond got out of the way. He is sorry to be going to Sunderland. Tom left everything in chaos and the remarkable thing is he gave the branch records to Jimmy McGill, the antiquarian bookseller. He was present so I got a decision that they were “deposited” there. I will see if I can get them to London. I stayed the night with Michael Crowe. Pat Devine 2 [ie. Pat Devine’s son, a university lecturer in economics] was at the meeting but is hesitant about getting involved.
June 26 Wednesday: I was in the office in the morning. Aparently there is still Gilbert in the bas-fond of Cockpit Chambers. In the evening I went to the branch meeting, at which there was a disappointing turn-out. When I got back I realized that Fitzgerald is still here – the three who live on their own. So the story of the “Cockpit” is nearly but not quite over. It was Dooley [Pat Dooley, leading Connolly Association figure in the 1940s, see the relevant Journal volumes] found the place for me, and it must have been at the end of 1943 or early in 1944 that I came, probably the latter. At that time Ashton, a ship’s musician, was above. He voted communist [ie. in the 1945 general election]. A woman had the next flat. Beneath me immediately was Mrs Fitzgerald, and I believe though 86 was one of the remnant of the Irish colony in Holborn. She voted communist too. Next was Petlock. He voted communist also. One of the women told me one day that Petlock had “dropped down dead”. There was a re-shuffle of the flats. People called Connolly from Enniskillen came in for a time. But the oddest outfit was the “bas fond”[ie. the basement flat]. A man called Price had it at first. He sublet it to Peter Robson, or rather to Kirkpatrick who sublet it to Robson. First Kirkpatrick came back. Then Price claimed it. He was a bohemian. He claimed to have put a red light outside it, but the landlord stopped him. Then Gilbert came. Fitzpatrick told me very excitedly one day that Gilbert had pronounced himself to be “a homosexual” and one of the women commented to me on strange “goings on” below. “We never had anything like that here before,” she declared, though (as she well knew) we had certainly had something else, for Mrs Morris in the dairy said to me, “Those two women in your flat are well…They are, well…They are, well.” Verb sap. But I think Gilbert was the youngster in the YCL years ago who asked Dooley’s advice and Dooley sent him to a psychiatrist, thus starting him off believing he suffered from a disease and weakening him from the start. I recall seeing him with his door open one time and having to go in for some reason. He was banging on a typewriter. “My God!” said I, “You look as if you were typewriting a death-warrant.” “You don’t understand. This is serious. I’m typing my symptoms!” And he got more grey and miserable as the years went by. Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam]saw his advert in the Daily Worker and took a room in the flat. He lasted there about three weeks when he retreated up to me. As for Fitzgerald, Mrs Fitzgerald died and the young fellow, in his fifties, does nothing but listen to the radio every night. But unlike Gilbert he is quite sane and says good morning. Gilbert, on the other hand, is totally wrapped up in himelf and I doubt if he is fit to communicate with a single other human being.
June 27 Thursday: Owing to the rail “go slow” I could not go to Colindale [Headquarters of the British Library newspaper collection at the time], as I intended. I did some work on drafting a new Constitution for the Connolly Association [ie. amending its 1955 Constitution]. In the evening Charlie Cunningham appeared. He had been at Bodenstown. Maire Comerford had invited some of them to go with her to Mrs Mulligan’s cottage and they went to a dance instead. Maire had gone to great trouble and was very disappointed. I was very annoyed as they had told me they were going and I had written as much to Maire. The sloppy Currans did not show up at all. We really have some shocking material, all flabby feeble crocks, unable to carry things through, and the sturdy office-worker Sean Redmond the best of a bad bunch!
June 28 Friday: I did manage to get to Colindale, though travelling was extremely hazardous and uncertain. In the evening I was in Kilburn with Jim Kelly, who is showing distinct signs of developing, but is still very jumpy and impatient.
June 29 Saturday: I was in the office for a few minutes in the morning, then went up to Colindale again. In the evening I was in Paddington with Charlie Cunningham. He told me that Peter Mulligan was “having a gay old time”. I asked doing what and received no satisfactory answer. There is something very unsatisfactory in Charlie and my guess is that Peter would never have taken this road but for his influence. He is too knowledgeable in matters of “low life” and there is a lightweight quality in his political outlook. He will never speak at Hyde Park or express a public opinion but talks negatively in private.
June 30 Sunday: We had the Standing Committee in the morning, with Joe Deighan, Sean Redmond, Pat Hensey and myself. I proposed a series of measures to put the CA on its feet. Not that I have great hope that Sean Redmond and the others will have the energy or continuity of purpose to put them through. Joe Deighan was as usual. He has no real political contribution to make but draws attention to himself by making sceptical remarks. I quietly forced him to spell out his ideas, and reveal he had none. Pat Hensey was not bad. His trouble is that he falls down on jobs he undertakes. Sean Redmond understood what was needed all right, but he is a “nine-thirty-to-five” revolutionary! Of course he has a desperate financial problem – but nine-thirty to five is not adequate to solve it.
In the afternoon came the EC [CA Executive Committee]. Pat Bond was in the chair, and we had Pat Hensey, Joe Deighan, Sean Redmond, Chris Sullivan and we co-opted Jim Kelly. I had no real difficulty in getting them to accept new measures, but again I doubted their ability to carry then through. Sean “lets the grass grow under his feet.” Bobby Heatley gave an instance. An attempt was made to get a Willesden meeting. The room was not available and the members went home annoyed. I know for a fact that Sean did nothing about this, though he will type minutes till they are mountain high. He was in such a hurry to get home that he would not telephone the press with the resolutions we passed, though this means we probably miss publication. And for days running he has left the cover of the duplicator open to the dust, a sure sign of declining interest. The decision to circularize for tenants of our empty room, taken a month ago, he just did not do. But agendas are a great favourite with him! A rather poor bunch!
[End of Volume 19, c.77,000 words]
DESMOND GREAVES JOURNAL, VOLUME 19, INDEX
1 June 1967 – 30 June 1968
– Aesthetics and cultural matters: 12.4, 5.28
– Assessments of others: 6.15, 6.25, 7.3-4, 7.11, 7.14,
7.31, 8.21, 8.24, 8.29,9.8,9.11, 9.23, 9.26, 9.28,
10.1,10.3, 10.8, 10.11-12, 10.26-27, 11.1, 11.5,
11.21, 11.24, 11.26, 12.1,12.4, 12.8-10, 12.29,
12.31, 1.4, 1.14, 1.17, 1.28, 2.5-7, 2.27, 3.14-15,
3.17, 3.20, 3.24, 4.1, 4.7, 4.9-10, 4.15, 4.24, 4.26,
4.29-30, 5.4-6, 5.12, 5.26, 6.4-5, 6.15-16, 6.23,
– Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 6.15,
7.31, 8.27, 9.17,10.11-12, 10.30, 12.1, 1.1, 1.3, 1.24,
1,27, 2.5-6, 2.28, 3.14, 3.16, 3.21, 3.24, 4.12, 4.17,
4.22, 4.30, 5.20, 6.4
– Civil Rights Campaign on Northern Ireland: 1.14, 1.24, 2.7,
4.21, 5.12, 5.26
– European supranational integration/the EEC: 6.9, 6.18,
6.25, 12.1, 3.4
– Family relations: 11.7, 12.4
– Holidays/cycle tours: 9.13, 10.14,10.10-24, 6.1-3
– Ireland, public attitiudes and assessment of trendas in: 6.29, 7.2
9.23, 9.26, 12.9
– Mellows research: 6.9, 7.1, 6.25, 7.3, 7.5, 7.18-20, 7.21-22, 7.31,
8.9, 8.28, 9.26,11.8,11.12, 11.14, 11.16-17, 12.8, 1.10,
1.21-22, 1.31, 2.2, 2.17, 2.19, 3.2, 3.5, 4.4, 5.19
– National Question: 6.9, 10.12,10.30, 11.1, 11.18,12.5,
12.9, 12.31, 1.24, 1.27, 2.21, 2.27, 3.3-4, 3.31,
4.1, 4.29, 6.5-6, 6.24
– Self-assessments: 6.20, 10.30, 11.2, 11.5, 12.4, 12.23, 12.30,
1.14, 1.23-24, 4.10, 4.14, 5.13, 5.19-20, 5.26, 6.4
Organisation Names Index
Campaign for Democracy in Ulster (CDU):1.4, 1.24, 2.7, 4.17, 5.12
Clann na hEireann: 2.10, 2.28, 5.8, 5.12
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 6.19, 6.20, 8.24,
11.18,11.24, 11.26, 12.7-8, 12.31, 1.12, 1.23,1.29,
2.6, 2.9, 4.1, 4.29-30, 5.4, 5.10, 5.12-14, 5.19, 5.26,
Communist Party of Northern Ireland: 10.27, 5.12-14
Connolly Association / Irish Democrat: 9.22, 9.28, 10.1-2,
10.27-28, 10.30, 11.2, 11.5, 11.13, 11.18, 11.24-25,
11.26, 11.30, 12.3, 12.5, 12.8, 12.12, 12.20,
12.25, 12.31, 1.24, 1.28, 2.4, 2.7, 2.10, 2.21, 2.28, 2.4,
4.3, 4.7, 4.10, 4.12-13, 4.21, 5.1, 5.4, 5.8, 5.12-14, 5.26,
6.4, 6.6, 6.15, 6.24-25, 6.27, 6.30
Irish Workers Party (formerly Irish Workers League): 6.4, 6.12, 9.11,
10.27, 5.4, 5.12, 5.14
Labour Party (British):6.18, 6.20, 7.2, 10.2, 12.1, 1.1, 1.28,
2.10, 2.21, 3.16, 3.20, 3.24, 4.22, 5.19
Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF): 12.12
National Council for Civil Liberties: 10.2, 12.12, 5.4
Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalist Party): 11.1, 1.24, 3.4, 4.1
Sinn Fein/IRA: 6.1, 6.25, 7.6, 8.29, 9.23,1.28, 2.28, 4.21, 5.12,
Trotskyite and far-left organisations: 5.26, 6.23
Wolfe Tone Society: 6.25, 7.4, 2.21, 4.1, 6.9
Personal Names Index
Aherne, Tom: 12.31
Allaun, Frank MP: 5.26
Angell, Norman: 10.10
Argue, Jim: 1.24
Arnot, R. Page: 6.6
Ashe, Gregg: 1.20,1.22
Asmal, Kader: 6.8, 9.20, 10.5, 1.15-17, 5.27
Behan, Brian: 11.26, 4.15
Bennett, Jack: 6.25
Bing, Geoffrey: 1.14, 5.26
Bloor, Geoffrey: 2.13, 3.24
Boland, Harry: 7.3
Bond, Patrick: 7.30, 11.5, 11.23, 12.23, 4.11
Briscoe, Ben TD: 11.16
Bush, Alan: 10.25
Byrne Charlie: 6.14
Byrne, Paddy Cllr.: 4.17
Campbell, JR: 11.24
Cathcart, Hector: 7.1
Clancy, Paddy: 2.21
Clarke, Mrs Tom: 3.2
Clifford, Brendan and Angela: 6.22, 4.26, 5.26, 6.23
Cockburn, Claude: 2.21
Comerford, Maire: 6.1, 11.14, 2.21-22, 3.11, 6.9, 6.23
Connolly-Edwards, Fiona: 9.22, 6.5
Connolly, James: 9.12, 9.26,11.1, 12.7-8, 2.27, 4.1, 4.10, 6.4-5
Connolly O’Brien, Nora: 9.22, 9.25, 11.24, 6.5, 6.10
Connolly, Roddy: 6.20, 7.2-3, 9.22, 9.25,12.7, 4.24, 6.10
Cooley, Mike: 5.12
Cornford, John: 12.28
Costello, Seamus: 7.6, 4.22
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 6.1, 6.12, 7.5-7, 7.26, 8.4, 8.6-7, 8.16-17,
8.29, 8.31, 9.20, 9.24, 12.24, 1.16-17, 1.23-24, 3.4, 5.26,
Cox, Idris: 8.24, 11.20, 12.7-8, 1.12, 1.23, 5.1, 5.4, 6.6
Craig, William: 5.26
Crowe, Michael: 10.13, 6.15-16, 6.25
Cunningham, Charlie: 8.21, 11.2, 4.6, 6.29
Curran, Antoinette (Toni): 10.26, 10.28, 4.13
Daly, Miriam: 2.5
Deighan, Joseph: 6.18, 8.19, 10.31, 11.5,11.18, 12.5-6,
12.9, 2.6, 2.9, 2.21, 4.3, 4.9, 4.24, 4.26, 4.28, 5.5-6,
5.8, 5.10, 5.12
Delargy, Hugh: 1.12
Despard, Charlotte Mrs: 6.10
De Valera, Eamon: 6.10, 7.1, 7.3, 9.22, 2.17, 3.2
Devine, Pat: 4.5
Dooley, Arthur: 10.8, 10.18, 11.26, 1.28
Dooley, Pat: 4.9
Donnelly, Desmond MP: 4.9
Dudley Edwards, Owen: 2.27
Dunne, Sean TD: 7.3
Dutt, R. Palme: 9.9, 9.11,11.20, 12.8, 12.16, 4.9, 5.10, 6.6
Eddisford, Vic: 5.18
Ewing, Winifred MP: 2.21, 5.26
Falber, Reuben: 5.19
Farrington, Brian: 6.14, 7.14
Fitt, Gerry MP: 6.18, 7.3, 2.7, 2.18, 5.20, 5.26, 6.5
Fitzgerald, Jim: 9.26
Foley, Donal: 1.17
Fox, RM: 9.22
Frow, Eddie: 5.26
Gallacher, Willie: 6.20, 7.5
Garland, Sean: 7.6
Gibert, Tony: 4.29
Gill, Ken: 12.1
Gill, Tom (Tomás MacGiolla): 4.22, 5.12
Gollan, John: 5.14
Goulding, Cathal: 7.4-6, 1.28, 2.1, 4.21-22, 5.8, 5.12
Gray, Malachy: 6.20
Greaves, Phyllis: 7.14, 11.7, 12.19, 3.29
Griffin, Gerald: 6.5-6
Grove-White, Bill: 12.1
Guevara, Che: 12.8
Haughey, Charles TD: 6.1
Heatley, Bobby: 1.24
Heatley, Fred: 6.25
Heffer, Eric MP: 5.26
Hensey, Pat: 11.5, 5.18
Heussaff, Alan: 6.9
Humphreys, Sheila: 1.21, 6.9
Ireland, John De Courcy: 7.1,7.31, 9.26
Jay, Douglas: 12.1
Jeger, Lena MP: 2.21
Jenkins, Clive: 1.4
Johnston, Mairin: 6.4, 6.8, 6.20
Johnston, Roy: 6.4, 7.4, 8.29, 1.14, 2.10
Joshi, PC.: 9.11, 9.22, 12.18, 1.3
Keating, Justin: 7.1, 1.17
Kelly, Jim: 6.28
Kennedy, Terry: 2.4
Kerrigan, Peter: 6.20, 11.24
Klugman, James: 12.7-8, 12.11, 1.23, 2.13
Lakeman, Enid: 2.21
Larkin, James: 6.20
Lawless, Gery: 6.27, 7.1
Leonard, Tom: 12.3
Lindsay, Ronald: 4.20-21
Logan, Desmond: 4.13
MacAonghusa, Micheal: 3.31
MacAonghusa, Proinsias: 7.3
Macardle, Dorothy: 9.22, 3.5
MacBride, Sean: 6.10
MacDiarmid, Hugh: 6.6
McClelland, John: 7.31, 11.30
McDowell, Vincent: 7.4
MacEoin, General Sean: 7.3
MacEoin, Uinseann: 7.4
McGrane, Eileen: 7.5, 6.9
McInerney, Michael: 11.24
MacLean, John: 4.1
McLennan, Gordon: 6.4
MacLiam, Cathal: 6.3, 6.25,8.29,1.15-16, 5.15, 6.2
MacLiam, Helga: 5.15
MacPeake, Francis: 12.16
MacSwiney, Mrs Muriel: 2.11-12, 2.17, 3.30,4.2,4.24, 5.15
Martin, Eamon: 6.9, 6.20, 9.25, 1.19
Meade, Tony: 6.1,6.11, 6.25, 8.29, 8.31, 9.20
Menon, Krishna: 6.10
Monahan, Alf (Ailbhe O Monncháin): 8.9
Morgan, Barney (Bernard): 7.13, 11.29, 12.12
Mortimer, Jim: 12.1
Morton, Alan: 10.3, 1.1, 5.7
Mulcahy, Richard: 6.13, 7.3
Mulligan, Peter: 10.2, 10.26,11.5, 11.25, 12.10, 12.26,
12.29-30, 3.11, 3.21-22, 4.6, 4.28, 5.1, 5.3-4, 5.8,
Nolan, Sean: 9.22,10.27, 1.22
O’Brien, Mattie: 6.9
O’Brien, William (Bill): 9.26
O’Casey, Sean: 6.20, 9.26
O’Connor, Joe: 12.31, 5.8
O’Donnell, Peadar: 6.30, 9.22
O’Dowling (neé Timbey), Elsie: 1.12, 5.12
O Loingsigh, Micheál S.: 6.25, 6.29
O’Malley, Cormac: 7.3
O’Neill, Captain Terence MP: 5.26
O’Neill, Professor Tom: 6.13, 2.27
O’Riordan, Michael: 12.7, 1.2, 5.4, 5.12-14, 6.25
O’Shannon, Cathal: 1.17, 5.26
O’Shea, Fred: 2.21, 5.12
O Snodaigh, Padraig: 6.1, 6.13, 6.27, 7.3
O’Sullivan, Chris: 3.17,
O Tuathail, Seamus: 6.1, 6.11, 8.7,8.16, 8.29, 9.20
Orme, Stanley MP: 11.26, 3.20
Owens, Ben: 11.24, 5.12
Pakenham, Frank (Lord): 6.13, 2.27
Pollitt, Harry: 11.24
Powell, Enoch MP: 4.22, 4.29
Prendergast, Jim: 11.24, 12.10, 12.31, 1.14, 5.4, 5.12,
Redmond, Sean: 7.21, 7.25, 7.30, 9.27, 10.1-2, 10.26,
10.30, 11.2 ,11.5, 12.4, 12.29, 12.31, 1.14, 3.16,
4.3, 4.6-7, 4.11, 4.28, 5.1, 5.3, 5.7, 5.11-12, 5.14,
Redmond, Tom: 9.2, 9.8,9.28-29,10.5, 10.8, 10.13, 10.18,
10.26, 10.29, 11.5,11.26, 1.28, 2.1
Reid, Betty: 6.20
Reid, Jimmy: 6.4
Reynolds, Arthur: 7.1
Robbins, Frank: 9.26, 1.20, 1.22
Rossiter, Bobby: 7.21
Rothstein, Andrew: 12.8
Russell, Sam: 12.8
Ryan, Desmond: 3.2
Ryan, John MP: 6.18
Savage, Jim: 11.25
Shinwell, Emmanuel MP: 12.1
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 5.4, 5.11-13
Silverman, Sydney MP: 2.10
Skinnider, Margaret: 9.23
Small, Frank: 7.1
Snoddy, Oliver (See O Snodaigh, P.)
Steele, Jimmy: 11.26
Stewart, Bob: 6.20
Stowell, Brian: 11.30
Whelan, Joe: 5.14
Whitaker, Ben MP: 5.26
Wilson, Harold MP: 6.18, 12.1-2, 6.18, 5.12, 5.26, 6.3
Williams, Roose J.: 7.13, 11.1, 3.3
Woddis, Jack (Hillel): 11.20, 1.12
Woods, Tony and Mrs: 6.9-10, 9.11