Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol. 18, 1966-67
1 June 1966 – 31 May 1967
THEMES: Dealing with his deceased sister’s affairs – Decision to make Birkenhead, Merseyside, his domicile rather than London – Renewal of research for his biography of Liam Mellows – Connolly Association moves office from No.374 to No.283 Grays Inn Road, London WC1 – Connolly Association conferences in London and Manchester on civil liberties in Northern Ireland – Stormont Prime Minister Terence O’Neill’s letter to the Connolly Association – The CA and the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster – Attacks on Greaves and the Connolly Association by Gery Lawless’s “Irish Militant” and Brendan and Angela Clifford’s Irish Communist Group – Attending the British and Scottish TUCs – Conference on Sean O’Casey – Meetings with Cathal Goulding, Tony Meade, Sam Levenson, Michael O’Leary TD, Basil Clancy, Jim Fitzgerald, Mike Cooley, Betty Sinclair, Anthony Coughlan, Roy Johnston, Maire Comerford, Palme Dutt and Bob Stewart – The NCCL (National Council for Civil Liberties) and the foundation of the NICRA (Northern Civil Rights Association) in January 1967 – Meeting with Sam Levenson and Charlie McCarthy – “Irish Democrat” conference on “The Irish Question: Challenge to Democratic Britain” in February 1967 – Art and Billy McMillen, Belfast – Republican leader Sean Garland seeks Greaves’s attendance at the banned meeting of Northern Republican Clubs in March 1967, which Tony Smythe, secretary of the British NCCL, then attends – Protests in London and Dublin against the renewal of Britain’s EEC membership application by Harold Wilson’s Labour Government
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June 1 Wednesday (Inverness): Despite last night’s fair sky, the morning was cloudy and drizzly and I left very early, since I had left my anorak at Mackenzie’s farm. The drizzle held off and I was able to get on the anorak before it started raining. And the rain was little enough. Old Mackenzie was there, busy with his cattle, and cheerful as if expecting a good season. Going up his track I went over a bump. A spoke went, and soon the wheel was rubbing on the stays. I decided to make for Inverness and had half a mind to carry right on to Liverpool. The hotel at Gairloch PO was crowded with charabanc parties – the place is like Wales in the thirties. Everywhere the crofts go vacant and the tourists pour in. The second is not necessarily evil, except when linked with the first.
I was in no hurry to get to Inverness and thought of staying at the Kinlocheur Hotel – there was a notice “house full”. I pushed on to Achnasheen. Here again charabanc parties and a full house. And so early in the season. So I took the train fully expecting to carry on back to England. But at Inverness I bethought me of Munro, the very good cycle mechanic, so went to the hostel for the night. The wardens recognised me at once, remarking that I had new spectacles since I saw them two or three years ago! There were one or two old age pensioners here too, about a half dozen young cyclists, and the rest the usual run of cosmopolitan hitch-hikers with empty expressions on their faces. The wardens are all for the cyclists and give the hitch-hikers all the work to do! They’re sitting in other peoples’ cars all day! “I believe Craig is very grand, these days,” said the warden’s wife. “It used to be falling to pieces.” I decided however that I had had a long enough break, and that I would return south tomorrow.
June 2 Thursday (Liverpool): I had the bicycle mended at Munro’s by 9.30 am. but took the train to Glasgow. Again the weather was dull. At Glasgow I caught the through train to Exchange and was back in 124 Mount Road by 10 pm. There was a letter from Elsie Allnettsaying she had retired and would tell everybody in Portsmouth about Phyllis [ie. the death of his sister in May]. Also there was a letter from Hetty Brown saying she knew CEG [his father] first when he was a boy of 16. She is 90 this year. She asked me to keep in touch, which I surely will. She has had two heart attacks and cannot now leave the house. She seems very contented, but was of course very sad over Phyllis, who used to visit her periodically and take her to Chester in her car.
June 3 Friday (London): I spent the morning clearing up. Harry the gardener must have come. The padlock was wrenched from the back door and the grass collected from the lawn and some dead tree branches moved. He has a damned cheek to force the padlock screws. I screwed them again but left the lock off. Then I rang Sean Redmond and decided to come on to London. Slowly a modus vivendi is beginning to crystallise in my mind. I have made a rough list of the things I wish to keep and will look for accommodation in London big enough to hold them and give me working conditions of a higher standard. At the moment I am thinking of retaining possession of 6 Cockpit Chambers but sub-letting the front two rooms. I would thus have a pied-a-terre in Central London but could keep the piano (my main consideration) in conditions where it could be kept.
At the office I saw Sean Redmond and Charlie Cunningham. Later Joe Deighan arrived. I went to Camden Town with Sean [selling the monthly paper], but we started late. He has had trouble getting speakers for the 19th. Fitt has been warned by the Embassy, and neither Tony Coughlan nor Roy Johnston can come. I learn from Charlie Cunningham that the Derry man who masquerades as a brother of Liam Lynch (Seán Lynch is the name he goes by, and he is a Trotsky linked with the O’Neill-Lawless bunch) has announced my impending “execution” by “the IRB.” A delightfully kind thought!
June 4 Saturday: I saw Dorothy Deighan, Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey and Peter Mulligan in the office in the morning. The book sales are going very well. In the evening I was in Paddington with Sean Redmond. He told me about the great schemozzle at the MCF Conference when the resigning Faris Glubb accused Barbara Haq of sabotaging and obstructing his work. There were only 25 delegates present and many who came on the day of the ructions did not return on the Sunday. Glubb had apparently mishandled the EC nominations. Only London had nominated, and eleven out of the twelve which included five communists. Glubb tried to persuade Sean that his Oman Committee’s nominations had been lost in the post. Would the Standing Orders Committee accept them though they were now late? Sean consulted with Julius Silverman [leftwing Labour MP] and they declined to agree. Then Hampstead Labour Party was put up by Glubb to nominate – also late. Sean Redmond pointed to the constitution under which local organisations had no power to nominate. But then Glubb resigned, so his tricks must have been out of the altruism of his conception of public spirit. Sean wondered how long the MCF will survive. But the NCCL is better. Birnberg [a solicitor on the NCCL Executive] had proposed a list of good Protestants for the subcommittee on Northern Ireland, but as one of them was Paul O’Higgins this was not so bad. He accepted my name without demur but hesitated over Hostettler. He agreed in the end however.
Among those who came into the office in the evening were Jane Tata, now selling regularly, and Joe Deighan and Robbie Rossiter. Apparently Rossiter has now given up his nonsense of emigrating to New Zealand. We hope he stays off it.
June 5 Sunday: In the morning Sean Redmond came in at about midday and we discussed plans for the future. In the afternoon I went to Hyde Park where Peter Mulligan and Pat Hensey were speaking, and the striking Dublin and Belfast bank clerks gathered on the grass [a strike of bank officials that went on for months was on in Ireland at the time]. In the evening I went to Camden Town with Peter Mulligan and finally went to Euston for the Liverpool night train.
June 6 Monday: I looked through the window at 3.30 am. and to my surprise saw Overton Hills and the Mersey. I took a taxi from Lime Street and was in bed at 124 Mount Road at 4.30. I was tired, nevertheless, and did not go to Salop, as I had intended. I messed around the house and garden till half one, then went to Lime Street and back to London with six packages of books – my rucksack, CEG’s old officer’s grip, Phyllis’s rucksack, music case, wicker basket and my duffle bag! Sean Redmond was at Euston and we brought them to Cockpit Chambers, and discussed the notion of having the Plough and Stars at the parade on Sunday week [ie. the Connolly Association annual parade from Hyde Park to its public meeting in Trafalgar Square].
June 7 Tuesday (Liverpool): I caught the 8.30 for Liverpool, and came straight to Mount Road. In the early evening Elsie Greaves and the two youngsters came, and I told them they could have Phyllis’s bedroom suite. Elsie was quick to ask for the carpet, which I was a little hesitant to part with – I had not realised where it was – but later it occurred to me that I could possibly get help in selling the car in return. When they had gone, two elderly women came to the back door while I was struggling with the long grass. I did not at first recognise her, but who did it prove to be but Dorothy Greaves [his uncle Harry Greaves’s second wife], and we had a long talk. I told her the substance of Phyllis’s story. She was surprised that she should have gone before Elsie Greaves whom she considered to be the weaklier. I had never heard her story before. She said Harry Greaves was a delightful man to live with, even-tempered and very considerate. He had ensured that she had a widow’s pension. It was Elsie Greaves who started drinking spirits while in Birkenhead and set Harley Greaves [son of Harry Greaves by his first marriage and Desmond Greaves’s first cousin] on the booze. She had supported Harley’s going to Southsea to study as this would separate him from his drinking companions. Many a time she had to patch him up when he had injured himself from falling when stotius. After he had been in Southsea a few months she met him and he said, “I’m worse now than I ever was, but” (and his eyes sparkled with glee) “nobody knows a thing about it.” I remember Phyllis telling me the story of how Mary Greaves on one dreadful occasion saw a huge number of corks and beer bottle tops pouring from her dustbin as it was emptied on to the cart. The poor woman could not understand it – but soon arrived at an explanation. She says Harley has physically degenerated since Mary Greaves’s funeral. He seems to have “shrivelled”. There might be something in the drug theory. Of course, pharmacy is now merely a shop-boy’s job and Harley may be bored with it. Daphne Greaves repeated what Peggy Gaskell said, namely that I have grown to look like AEG [his mother], so there must be something in it.
June 8 Wednesday: At 7.15 am. Daphne Greaves rang up to say she had lost her handbag, possibly in the taxi I got for them last night. She could not trace it, and it contained her return bus ticket to Bournemouth. At John McClelland’s advice I inserted adverts for the car in the Post and Echo, and Enid Greaves consented to receive any phone calls. The garage where Phyllis bought it are so far showing no interest. I spent practically the whole day in the garden, making order of the wilderness where the raspberry canes are, and finally cutting the last of the 18″ high grass. I could however spend another week on it and still have work to do. There are two dead cherry trees to be felled, and I fear the worst for the apple tree from blight. In the evening I had a drink with John McClelland at the Prenton Hotel. It was too crowded. John is using the McPeakes’ car, which they would not take back to Belfast with them.
June 9 Thursday: In the morning a letter came from Peggy Gaskell saying she would be here on July 29th. All who received things from Phyllis have acknowledged, but Alison Taylor. That would be one of the two packets I posted in Gurve. But the other has arrived. A letter from Miss Stothard invited me to the school prize giving. But I shall be away. I got busy with correspondence – sixteen items, some complex. Then I set to work on the garden again, removed the old flowering currants that CEG planted, and civilised the front borders. I was at it till 9 pm. once it became obvious that I could not go to the Stiperstones [near his sister’s cottage in Shropshire].
June 10 Friday (London): I worked further in the garden, made a blitzkrieg on the slugs which, as Phyllis said they would, are gobbling the lettuce seedlings from the cotyledons, and have after finishing the meal now turned to the spinach. I put lime on the tangle of buttercups in hopes of damping their ardour. It is obvious to me that before thinking of selling the house I must get much into order – things Phyllis would not have let get out of hand. Then I took the train to London and went to the International Affairs Committee. Hymie Fagan gave an interesting account of the Socialist International meeting at Stockholm, with pen pictures of George Brown [Labour Foreign Secretary] radiantly announcing “I told you we’d win” to the reporters of the Times and Telegraph, when he had succeeded in denying the Africans a platform. R.Palme Dutt was there, sitting in the body of the room at Marx House, Jack Woddis taking the chair with Idris Cox beside him. The old faces are getting fewer – Rothstein, Pefkos, H. Rathbone; there have been three deaths in three months. Elsie O’Dowling was there and Sean Redmond and I took her for a drink. A letter from Bateson indicated that he might find me a purchaser for the car.
Dutt was very enthusiastic about our raising the issue of the Casement diaries in the last issue of the Democrat and said “You are on to a winner”, as the whole system of political character-assassination was brought under examination. The evening ended with a violent thunderstorm, Sean Redmond describing one of the peals as the loudest he had ever heard. He and Elsie sheltered for a time in 6 Cockpit Chambers.
June 11 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning and met the usual people. In the afternoon I cleared up papers, and in the evening was in South London with Bob Rossiter. Of all people we met Eamon Quinn, the tiny cocksparrow who was on the Hyde Park platform in 1950 when we were all knocked off it by an infuriated mob! Since then he became a CP district treasurer, got into trouble with the funds, and then went off to be a Trappist monk. Finding he hadn’t the vocation he thought, he gave that up! And he looks very well on it all! We did not do well as in the public house where Robbie Rossiter has all his support. The deafening American band had been replaced by a noisy English one, and everybody is up in arms.
June 12 Sunday: Again the weather was hot and dry, notwithstanding Friday’s storm. I went to the Clann na hEireann meeting in Trafalgar Square. Only 96 walked into the Square and O’Sullivan the charmer told them in ten different ways that they had come to commemorate Wolfe Tone who was a great man. The crowd was thin. Our old antagonist Callaghan was there, very friendly and we chatted as if we had never been trying to break each others’ heads sixteen years ago! [Callaghan, an independent speaker, used hold his own regular Irish meetings at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park]. Tony Maguire was there. “Clann na hEireann is finished,” he said. Young Lawless was there, selling the “Irish Militant”. He looked very pale and forlorn apart from his one eye. I wonder if it is “schizophrenia” that is coming on? Certainly he is physically unwell.
Up at the Park afterwards Sean Redmond told me that Kenny [Sean Kenny, leading light in Clann na hEireann and responsible to Cathal Goulding in the Republican Movement in Dublin] had spoken to him saying he was surprised we had published a letter to him that was not sent. Sean gave particulars of the sending and Kenny quite automatically assumed that one of the other leaders had found it and suppressed it. He is returning to Dublin for good on Thursday, and it may be that this is the finish of Clann na hEireann. Charlie Cunningham says he swears he met Kenny walking down Kilburn High St. last week, talking to himself and cursing like a trooper. There was of course no proper preparation. Bobby Heatley [Belfastman, Connolly Association member] spoke at the meeting. He was surprisingly good and spoke with more conviction that I have heard from him for years. He must be about 30 years of age now. I wonder could he possibly steady up?
I was in Camden Town with Sean Redmond in the evening. He was telling me how he and Birnberg are the two EC members of the NCCL who are starting the Northern Ireland Committee. Birnberg has discovered some tame six-county Protestant lawyers. But Sean got Hostettler accepted. Now Sean has had to write to Fitt. But Fitt has cold feet over the Connolly Association. So his friends at the Embassy will be torn between cooperation with the CA and possibly seeing Fitt drawn under our influence or having no say in the affair. My guess would be that the Anti-Partition League will ask for a representative [The Anti-Partition League, which had a mass following amongst the Irish community in Britain in the late 1940s, was now a small group aligned with the Irish Embassy through its official Mr Tadhg Feehan]. Sean Redmond was wondering whether to secure the job of being Secretary. I said no, let Birnberg. Toni Curran works there one day a week and as he does not know (we think) her connection with us, we would have secret tabs on him if he tries to cheat us. But when I thought of the Anti-Partition League’s probable tactics, I thought perhaps we should resist that.
I heard the amusing story of Heatley’s parsimony – after giving Chris Sullivan 2/- for the £1000 fund he went with them to Schmidts. When the meal was over he seized the menu and a paper serviettte and started totting the bill. The waiter professed to be scandalised. In forty years as a waiter he had never seen such a thing done, still less had it done on him. Bobby Heatley was unmoved and argued the point, observing that even a man like the sixty-year-old waiter could live and learn. They were at it hammer and tongs for some minutes when the waiter told Heatley that if he ever came to his table in Schmidt’s again, he would refuse to serve him even if he were starving. And, said Sean, Heatley’s pockets were stuffed with pound notes.
June 13 Monday: A letter from Roy Johnston reports that “Monthly Review”[American leftwing magazine] had established an office in London and were soliciting support. He asked were they Trotskies. I went to see Betty Reid [CPGB activist who had written a pamphlet on Trotskyite organisations] who told me that they adopt a skilfully presented “Chinese” line, and that possibly their appearance may be connected with the capture of the Earl Russell Foundation by the Fourth International. She said that the old villains Andy O’Neill and some of his supporters are busy trying to split the Chinese Friendship organisations [These were former members of the North London branch of the Connolly Association who had been expelled because of their opposition to the CA’s “nationalist” policy; they were later involved in the ballot-rigging controversy in the Electricians’ Union]. She had seen the long attack on the Connolly Association in Clifford’s duplicated effort [ie. Brendan Clifford]. He accuses Palme Dutt and myself of carving up the parties of these islands into four uncoordinated forces. Apparently we accomplished this tour de force “in the fifties”. The Russell thing of course links with Faris Glubb!
I worked on the paper in the office, and at last on the book [ie. his biography of Liam Mellows]in the flat all evening. I could not get a berth for Dublin for next Monday, but intend to go to Liverpool anyway. One piece of good news is that Aine Redmond has decided to go back to Manchester and mend up her marriage with Tom Redmond.
June 14 Tuesday: I was in the office most of the day, but found the damp heat, noise and petrol fumes very oppressive. In the evening I went to St. Albans and had a meal with Alan Morton and Frieda, Alisoun the fifteen year old daughter, and Alan’s mother who will be ninety this year, but though frail, is active and in perfect possession of her faculties. I had not met her since 1938 – the year after her husband died,but recognised her at once. Chelsea has now been attached to the University of London, so that Alan Morton is now a professor of that. The new Hertforshire project has been dropped. Alan is now 56 and talks of retiring at 62. He is therefore disinclined to move away from St. Albans, though he finds the journey to Chelsea every day very tiring. He tells me houses cost £38,000 in Chelsea moreover.
June 15 Wednesday: I spoke to Elsie Greaves on the phone in the morning and she told me she had been offered £550 for the car. I said done and asked her to fix it all up with Bateson, and she said she would. A letter from Cathal MacLiam came to Sean Redmond, saying that Cathal Goulding had been given three months in lieu of the £50 fine which he refused to pay. Cathal was trying to collect the £50 so that the fine could be paid in time for Goulding to appear at Bodenstown [for the annual Sinn Fein Wolfe Tone commemoration there]. One phrase he used made me think Roy was behind it. “We must save the Republicans from themselves.” So I sent him a £l postal order – cheques are no use as the bank clerks are still on strike.
I was talking to Barbara Haq who has beautified the MCF office with carpets and clean neat shelves. The lease on 374 Grays Inn Road runs out on 31 December. The superior landlord will renew, but she imagines rent will be doubled. She wants to find another place – and no worse time could be thought of.
The Central Branch met in the evening – a very good meeting, with an air of enthusiasm that has been absent a long time. £5 was sent to Goulding fund.
June 16 Thursday: From Miss Stothard came an account of the mysterious card-index boxes which Phyllis had left at school. They are a collection of portraits of historical characters – several thousand from the catalogue – got together by Alfred Corby, Bert Willshire’s nephew, the boy who died of tuberculosis some years ago. Bert had made the boxes to hold them. I wrote asking Enid if her daughter wanted them. Miss Stothard had given the prize in memory of Phyllis, and I must send her the cheque. Her successor starts next week.
More ruin! A letter from Camden Borough Council informed me that the Council had acquired the Rugby Estate. I have a shrewd suspicion that this heralds the demolition of Cockpit Chambers, and my plan for a pied a terre in Central London is to fail.
In the evening at 5 pm. Sean Redmond and I attended the little celebration at 16 King Street to mark R.Palme Dutt’s 70th birthday. Bob Stewart was there – looking not a scrap different, but saying his sight is failing [British communist veteran, involved with the Irish Left in the 1920s]. He is nearly 90. “You can live a long time if you want to,” he summed it up. He confirmed that the CP used to supply passports to the IRA in 1920-21. Seemingly these were not scrutinised as they are now. Ted Ainley however looked very old. Kay Beauchamp was there, and R. Page Arnot (who told me Zelda Coates was keeping a discreet eye on Palme Dutt’s domestic life), and Nora Jeffery, the Hunters, Jack Hillel Woddis, Idris Cox, and many more. Pefkos, Maurice Bowles and Kay Beauchamp and Ted Ainley expressed themselves very kindly about Phyllis. Palme Dutt, who is showing his years, was presented with a brief case, and made a brilliant little speech in reply, which showed his spirit unmistakeably. He explained that he was not allowed in to India till he was 50. But he had kept in touch with his peasant forbears in Sweden and Finland. His first venture into journalism was when he was at school. The magazine was called the Pelican. He duplicated the “Sparrow”. It sold like hot cakes. The second issue was printed. And he then retired on the profits. His favourite Roman poet was Lucretius, and he quoted his saying that life is given not to keep but to use. “Spend it,” was his dictum, “spend it usefully.” I did not see Emile Burns, but maybe he was at the back. Gollan was there but Gordon MacLennan made the presentation. Palme Dutt described the time when he and the secretary (Inkpen, I presume) were the only two full-time workers. He edited the paper. He also made reference to his wife whose poems he recently published. “She was a completely delightful person and we worked closely together for forty-two years, until she died on the morning of her seventy-fifth birthday”. He told me that he had cut the reference to Engels in the little tribute I sent to the Labour Monthly. I had compared his position as an educator and advisor to that held by Engels in the British movement towards the end of the last century. But I expected him to cut it out.
In the evening was held later the South London meeting. This also was quite good, with Robbie Rossiter in great form, Eddy Ferguson with a big belly filling a scarlet shirt, and a new lively young lad, Gallivan, bouncing with joie de vivre. We learned Cathal Goulding is released and that he “doesn’t know who” paid the fine!
June 17 Friday: Yet more ruin again – a letter from the Railway surplus property people gave notice of termination of our lease at 374 Grays Inn Road [the office was in a building on the traffic island across from King’s Cross railway station] on 31 December, and promised “further proposals” later on! We are disinclined to pay a greatly increased rent for the unsatisfactory accommodation, so may have to move. On another front however was a happy windfall – notification that I am to receive an income tax refund of £106. I bought Sean Redmond a bottle of wine at Schmidts on the strength of that. The Ulster bone-head was there. The papers have widely reproduced our letter to Wilson [Harold Wilson, Prime Minister, who had promised during the 1966 general election campaign to take action against discrimination in Northern Ireland] and Dymond of the Belfast Telegraph came for a copy and took a cup of tea with us at Lyons. He has got quite friendly with Fitt. I was in Camden Town with Joe Deighan in the evening.
June 18 Saturday: I did a little on the paper in the morning, and in the evening went to Holloway with Sean Redmond.
June 19 Sunday: The threatened bad weather did not arrive. There was a good assembly at Hyde Park and a colourful parade of about 160 to Trafalgar Square. Andy Barr [leading Belfast communist trade union leader] was in it. I saw old Ben Owens in the park. He looked well, but said he had undergone a serious operation. He seems as vigorous as ever, as though he did not walk, he was in the square. This was the most enthusiastic meeting we had, and Robbie Rossiter lifted a collection of £66-16. which Sean Redmond says will nearly pay the expenses. My mind goes back to 1946 when Sylvie Maitland (with the whole organisation falling in ruins thanks to his incapacity or carelessness) used to say, “Don’t you agree we are in an expanding situation?” I hope we are in a real one. I was a bit dissatisfied with the provincialism of Andy Barr who refused to come to Schmidt’s for dinner with our Executive on the grounds that he had work to do at his hotel, and yet appeared in Schmidts with Hughie Moore, his wife and two others just as we were finishing and seemed set for the night there. They do not consider anybody outside their own circle as human. Some of our people were displeased. Hughie Moore comes here to see his wife who is working here but never comes near us even when she is at work.
There was an amazing incident. Robbie Rossiter was gathering in pound notes in great form when a police Inspector approached the plinth. “Have you the permit to take this collection?” He had not, but called Sean. He said it was among the papers he had given me. But I could not find it. Then he recalled he had given it to Terry O’Byrne with whom Rob Rossiter came in a van and chased after him. All this while the Inspector stood waiting, while Rob Rossiter went on gaily with the collection. There were great hoots of delight when the permit was found. This same Inspector recently tackled Sean Redmond over the tricolour in Hyde Park. We believe he is new to the job.
June 20 Monday: I went to Lyons for a coffee, while Sean Redmond got his notebook so that we could talk some things over. I noticed the villain Lawless sitting at the next table but one, dressed in jeans and a donkey jacket. Suddenly I heard my name spoken as if by somebody who could not be sure of my identity. It was Flann Campbell. Mary had been making faces at me for several minutes. I moved to their table – within earshot of Lawless! – and soon Sean Redmond arrived. Joy Rudd has been bringing Flann Campbell to our functions and he may yet be back with us. Mary says she is doing a film about the Tan war, and wrote to Dan Breen. He is in a hospital run by monks – it was originally (she says) intended for alcoholic priests – but she wrote to him, made several visits and got on famously with him. She and Flann have just returned from Tipperary. She says Breen’s sentiments are far to the left, and that he uses the name of God as an expletive in a way very unsuited to his surroundings. She had never met him before. I spent most of the day on the paper.
In the evening, finding that Tony Coughlan’s copy had not arrived, I rang him at Aughrim St. He was out. I rang Roy Johnston – he was coming from Cork this evening and Roy would meet him at TCD at 10 pm. I asked would he telephone me. But no call came. Roy said that both AC’s [ie. Anthony Coughlan’s] father and mother were in hospital at the same time. And Mairin said her own mother had had a bad fall and is in hospital. Was there ever so much trouble as in the last twelve months!
June 21 Tuesday (Liverpool): I worked on the paper till about 2.l5, then went to Euston and caught the 3 pm. – not a very satisfactory train from the food standpoint. Miss Stothard [Deputy headmistress at the school of which his deceased sister Phyllis had been headmistress] arrived with Mr Loughheed – of Belfast extraction, and his nephew. If he was not Irish, I don’t know what he was. We found the loom, but not the peddle, and the projector but not the slides. But the bulkiest part was taken away in Lougheed’s car. There were several letters, one from Mrs Stewart who is on holidays. The Browns are also away in Belfast.
June 22 Wednesday: I found I had sat on my reading glasses. I went to Hamblins of Bold Street and they matched the lens perfectly and all was well by 5 pm. – though much time was wasted. Mrs Phillips came and did some clothes washing for me. Enid Greaves telephoned with a message from Elsie Greaves. The portrait cards were delivered here last night. Elsie does not want them. So I will throw them away and keep the useful boxes. After all the young man had his pleasure in collecting them, and that was their sole value. It looks as if the apple tree is badly affected – but I seem to recall its having this fungal disease before and recovering of its own accord. But I doubt it. The disease attacks the blossom first, but the gale, that blew it all off prevented me from seeing it and taking early action. On the other hand the colcannon and some of the lettuces are making great headway. In the evening I found the slides.
June 23 Thursday: I did some sorting of Phyllis’s silver things in the early morning. Then I went to Birkenhead and ordered a new bicycle – with ten gears. I want to take the Carlton to London and leave the MacLean in Dublin, now that rail fares for bicycles are up to half of ordinary fare. I bought fertilisers, insecticides and slug pellets; on the way back, a Welsh farm chicken – and then set to work on the wilderness of buttercups at the back of the house. I cut down the apple tree. It has much mildew on it. Sections seem fair, but there are other cogent reasons – light to the kitchen and lounge windows, protection against damp. And the difficulty of clearing the ground underneath while it remained. I made a new bed and put colcannon out of the boxes in it and sowed lettuce, spinach and endive. The next bed I cleared and turned over. The beans all blew flat in another gale, so I used up the lilac trimmings to make support which I also supplied to the peas. I have the half of a reasonable kitchen garden made and sprinkled some dilute KNO3 [potassium nitrate] on the vegetables already growing. Apart from the use, it would be less easy to sell the house if and when I want to do so, with the square yards of buttercups and tangled weeds. Then I can train the lilacs back nearer where they should be and put a new trellis or rustic arch up to hide the garage from the kitchen window.
I found my spirits rising – only when they rise does one appreciate they were low. It almost seems mean to get over Phyllis’ death so quickly – it would not have been thus if there had not been the long-drawn-out gradual parting. In a sense the removal of the apple tree symbolises the new epoch, and it is new whether one likes it or not and must be treated as such.
I went to the Connolly Association meeting in the evening. J.Roose Williams was there again, and Barney Morgan – he had met some character, Larry Murphy, whom Pat Doherty expelled from the CA. Roose spoke of the foundation of the party in North Wales. “It all came from that meeting in Mrs Jones’ cottage. Did I tell you she was the grandson (sic) of a famous Welsh poet?” This is nothing now, of course. Roose Williams did not wholly agree with my likening Harold Wilson to “that scoundrel Lloyd George”. He blamed Tom Ellis for breaking up the Welsh Home Rule movement, and believed Lloyd George was “progressive” during the Spanish War period. Roose is too much a Caernarfan man to accept the summary dismissal of Lloyd George. Tom Redmond was there and went to stay the night with John McClelland. Barney Morgan was trying to persuade him to come to Liverpool. “There are many advantages in living in Liverpool”. Liverpool and Manchester Corporations are at present engaged in a great “image”-making rivalry – they vie with each other to see which can do more of the things I don’t agree with!
June 24 Friday: The offer of a berth and sailing ticket for coming back from Dublin came from Court Lines. I accepted. Also there came a letter from May Grant, who says she met me years ago, at Lime Street station, when she was going to Leeds. I think this must have been when Phyllis was a student there, and I was seeing her off. But I do not remember the incident. It was a belated letter of condolence, somewhat sentimental and unnecessarily consolatory, with references to an “after-life” and expressions of feeling not only of Phyllis’s but AEG’s and CEG’s “presence”. Her mother says, fancy Phyllis Greaves being there “waiting for her”. I recognised the good will, but was not pleased with the letter, even with the complimentary references to myself. Apparently May Grant knew the family. So I wrote back my thanks, saying we should not live on regret too long, that the sum of the matter was that if the Liverpool Corporation checked the health of its teachers periodically, Phyllis would probably be alive today, and that the lesson was to enjoy ourselves while we could.
I met Tom Redmond and had lunch at the Arcadia. Later I finished digging up the wilderness and made two new beds for the kitchen garden. The garden now looks much bigger. I sorted out some papers and found a very few relating to Phyllis’s researches into the supposed settlement of Cornish miners at Maeshafn. Apparently she grew interested in this in 1956 while at the Liverpool Corporation settlement at Colomendy. If I could find the resulting thesis I would edit it and publish it. But there is no sign so far. There were also duplicated brochures of school trips to Derbyshire, presented with great ingenuity, even to including a topical crossword. This was 1955 when Phyllis would be about 39 – I was astonished at her seeming youth then; she could have been in her mid-twenties. This emphasises the ageing of the last years. Another photograph of two years ago still showed her young for her age.
June 25 Saturday: I went to Whitechapel, got some films, then went to Grange Road and bought two clematis plants, much fertiliser and insecticide. I then waited till the heavy rain cleared (yesterday was the same) and erected a new rustic arch, cleared the last beds near the lounge window, and fixed the clematis in such a position that I hope they will screen the garage from the scullery window. I planted many seeds. I also cleared the pigeon-holes in the bureau – rather a depressing job: Phyllis had preserved all the letters of condolence at AEG’s death. It was as if she could not bear to part with anything relating to her. Such a collection of records of family misfortunes was seldom together in one place. But there were also newspaper cuttings of CEG’s musical successes, and letters I wrote to the paper, about things I had forgotten all about in the meantime. I think CEG collected them. It was a pity our views on politics clashed. Then I wrote letters.
June 26 Sunday: Although the morning was fair and I got more outside work done, at lunch it started to squib and spit, and at 6 pm. a downpour began. This is the third successive substantially wet day. I wrote more letters, sending Phyllis’s belated Xmas present to M.Quigley in Belfast. Phyllis did not want to upset M.Quigley (who has awful trouble with her parents being so old) by reminding her she was still sick. So I had to delay. Then I looked at the drawers in the bureau where there seems to be even more depressing material – all CEG’s old diaries. Some of these are useful for dates, so I decided to keep them for the time being at least. What with this and the weather, I decided to go south tomorrow to avoid “the blues”.
June 27 Monday (London): I had hoped to go to Shrewsbury to see the cottage [the tenancy of which he inherited from his sister, together with the family house in Prenton, Birkenhead], but in the morning the rain was still pouring down. I took the 10.30 to Euston. Diamond drove me over and said I looked better, not so worried. I saw Sean Redmond at the office and we discussed a meeting on Sunday to take up the issue of the shootings in Belfast. He told me that the “Workers Group” Trotskies (Lawless and Dalton) had held a meeting cheek by jowl with ours on Sunday and denounced me abusively for an hour. Two of their touts simultaneously tried to make the Connolly Association meeting impossible by heckling and interrupting. The speakers were Sean Redmond, Bobby Heatley and Gerry Curran. Dorothy Deighan who was in the office at the time was worried because Joe Deighan will be there on Sunday. I agreed to go there myself as well, and Bobby Heatley said he would go again. Sean Redmond will do Chairman and try to round up plenty of supporters.
The violence of the attack and its timing are subject to speculation. I hazarded the guess that it was more related to possible united action with Clann na hEireann than fury at the last week’s successful meeting. Did they attack Sinn Fein in relation to us? They did, said Sean Redmond; they accused us of “making Sinn Fein stalinist” and one of them referred to Roy Johnston.
At the flat I found letters from Cathal MacLiam, and Peggy Gaskell, still very upset about Phyllis, and reporting that her father seemed to have had another slight stroke.
June 28 Tuesday: I saw Sean Redmond for a few minutes in the office, then went to Ripley. The food on the train to Derby was atrocious, and little better on the way back from Nottingham. All the train times have been altered. There are no through trains beyond Derby and Nottingham. Those that run to these places are half empty, and it is easy to see the plan for closing down the Midland line.
June 29 Wednesday: In the evening there was a very large meeting of the Central London Branch. Sean Redmond had hit on the idea of inviting people to come and hear what the Connolly Association was. To his surprise about twenty came and they had to sit at the table.
June 30 Thursday: I went to the R. Palme Dutt’s 70th birthday dinner at Victoria Station. It was a very well-attended affair – Bob Stewart (90 next February) still in evidence and R.Page Arnot, well in the seventies giving reminiscences (told to him) of the International Socialist Congress in London in 1896. Sid French was there – rather down in the mouth, and worried about China (as he was last time I saw him). I had a long talk with Phyllis Bell and exchanged words with Campbell and the usual people. Falber, unlike his last appearance, was full of good spirits and bonhomie.
July 1 Friday: In the evening Sean Redmond and I went up to Camden Town, and did very well with the papers. The rising interest in Belfast is of course bringing more interest in the paper and Connolly Association.
July 2 Saturday: In the morning the usual people came into the office, and in the evening Des Logan and I were in Paddington, finishing up at Eamon MacLaughlin’s where Logan is looking after the cat while the householders are away! He tells me that Eamon had another failure at the concert held to raise money to meet the deficit on the play. The result was that he was hitting the bottle more than usual. We did well enough, but there were some signs of mild hysteria. A man who accused us of putting his picture on the Democrat when he was drunk (and interrupting our selling) was enraged for faith and fatherland, and strongly resented our meeting in Hyde Park tomorrow to protest about Paisley.
July 3 Sunday: The day was exceptionally fine and warm. I do not usually prepare a speech for Hyde Park, but I did today, together with a few “spontaneous repartees” to things I judged interruptors might shout up. When Sean Redmond and I got there, we saw two Irish flags flying already. Lawless got up on one platform, while O’Sullivan of Clann na hEireann walked over to the other, a lofty contraption in the shadow of which stood John MacDonald, Tony Maguire and Callaghan! We started at once. I spoke after Sean and apart from an incorrigible Orangeman I scattered easily, there was not an interruption. Joe Deighan had a very little, and Bobby Heatley was not really vigorous enough to hold the crowd once Callaghan was up. I was over for this event, and heard one of the crowd shout, “Where have you been these ten years?” “Well,” said he, “I did a term in prison, and then I had other work to do.” If I recall aright the jail sentence was for some kind of petty fraud. I took our resolution, passed quasi nemine contradicente, to their platform in hopes of inducing them to pass it, and thus commit them to a policy from the start. The boy who was Chairman read it anxiously, MacDonald, thoughtfully, Maguire with half-hearted approval. Nothing could be done till Callaghan gave his decision. It was enthusiastic. But whether they read it out or not I do not know. We put up Pat Hensey and Bobby Rossiter to outlast Lawless. Dalton spoke for them and drew loud interruptions when he declared that the Bishop of Galway was doing in the South what Paisley was doing in the North. He walked to the edge of our meeting and asked Sean Redmond, “What about Connollyism?” He has a moustache. “Is it because he thinks he is Connolly?” asked Crilly, a northerner in the crowd. So with O’Sullivan thinking he’s Casement, and another of them being Pearse, we are well supplied with romantics. But they did not have their hoodlums there as they had threatened. Their language had disgusted everybody. It was bad enough to call our speakers “pricks” and “tits”, but when they threw out such epithets as “bogmen” and “Kiltimaghs” that thoroughly inflamed our audience of countrymen, and perhaps they judged it wise to miss a week. I think Clann na hEireann must have collapsed in London, and that O’Sullivan has resuscitated Callaghan to draw people away from us, and find fish in the resultant pond. In the evening Sean Redmond and I went to Hammersmith.
July 4 Monday (Liverpool): I caught the 8.30 to Lime Street, and was soon over at 124 Mount Road. The warning of Phyllis came true. The slugs had cropped the lettuce like rabbits. I bought a huge tin of anti-slug. But if it rains while I am away, it may prove ineffective. A phone fall from Mrs Phillips’s daughter said she was in bed with asthma. Then “Harry” the gardener turned up, and I saw Jean Brown (who had a great holiday in Donegal) and made arrangements for cleaning the windows and gathering loganberries. Then I went aboard the Leinster.
July 5 Tuesday (Dublin): I arrived at 74 Finglas Park to find Finoula and Bebhinn down with mumps, the first very sorry for herself. Helga has her hands full. I had lunch with Roy. He did not know of Lawless’s latest attack but thought he could explain the oblique reference to my “setting up house in Finglas”. A character called Gleeson, thrown out of the Republican movement but in everything else, started to “bait” Roy at a party last week where Eamon McLaughlin was present. He tried to squirt a bottle of beer over Roy, but it went over Barbara, whereupon Mac Laughlin challenged him to mortal combat hoping he would not accept, which he fortunately did not – he is only about 25! Roy thinks this character is closely in touch with Lawless. Cathal told me how Helga and Mairin were busy bailing Cathal Goulding out – or rather paying his fine. Cathal raised the money (it was his idea) and had it done through a solicitor. To this day Goulding is puzzling who can have done it. When he was told he was being released as his fine had been paid he said he didn’t want to go. But they told him he wouldn’t be allowed to stay – so all was well.
July 6 Wednesday: I went into the Pearse St. Library and found I had not a clear enough memory of what I had copied already to do more without making a catalogue. So I got cards and started. I was made very welcome. My book [ie. his biography of James Connolly] is on display in the exhibition below. In the evening I went with Cathal and Helga to a meeting on Rhodesia where Conor Cruise O’Brien took the chair. A Fr O’Neill who was in a controversy with George Jeffares over China spoke. He was not very forceful. Quite a number of priests were in the audience, and people like Maire Comerford were there; young Sean Edwards came to speak to me. His father, Jeffares, Tony Coughlan, Roy and others were there. A young man from TCD, Owen Dudley Edwards, made great use of his handsome appearance, resonant voice, and Trinity Historical Society manner, to take up a £100 collection – to be trusted as far as you could spit. I missed hearing Garret FitzGerald, but took him to be a rather faded middle-aged don, without strong convictions on anything. O’Brien himself has most brains. But even he has an eye to success which confines his forthrightness to international questions where the Anglo-American antagonism is exploitable.
I met (again) Seamus Costello. He is obviously worried about Lawless and Dalton’s attacks on Roy. He also thinks Gleeson the villain. He said he was going to a Clann na hEireann meeting on Sunday. I mentioned the recrudescence of Callaghan. Like Roy he gave no reaction, so again I suspect some complicity. I saw Sean Nolan at midday.
July 7 Thursday: I was in the Library for most of the day, and only at the end of it had I more or less recovered the position of last December. Six months is a long time to be away from a research operation. I had a word on the phone with Roy Johnston, who had seen the Dalton attack now, but we agreed it was best to ignore it.
July 8 Friday: I saw Michael O’Riordan after working at the Library. He told me he had discussed with Cathal Goulding the possibility of bringing back Frank Ryan’s remains from Dresden. He is going there next week for the 30th anniversary of the International Brigade. Donal O’Reilly is to go with him, a man who was in the GPO in 1916 at the age of 13 – his mother was dead and the father had nowhere else to put the three children. He is hopeful of establishing a broad committee led by Peadar O’Donnell. He told me that Margaret Murray [widow of Northern communist leader Sean Murray] is in Dublin. The street she lives in is mixed and the Catholics consented to having red, white and blue bunting attached to their houses [this was the period of the 12 July Battle of the Boyne commemorations in the North]. While she was out, it was attached to hers. There was “some noise upon it” and her friends advised her to come to Dublin for a few days. She is staying with a sister. I wonder if it will become permanent. I understand from Cathal that Cathal Goulding is no longer the Chief-of-Staff [ie. of the IRA]. Apparently the position does not automatically revert when its holder returns. This explains why the IRA turned out in force to defend the “blue flag” at Bodenstown. They had so much greater strength than the police that to ban it would have involved the use of troops. The IRA thus acted as a kind of Citizen Army on this occasion. Every man had a baton concealed in his trousers. This was not Goulding’s idea but his successor’s, and he doubted its success. The fear is now that it becomes a matter of principle. The change of Chiefs-of-Staff also explains the discussion with O’Riordan.
July 9 Saturday: I was all day in Pearse St. Library and managed to get quite a deal done. It seems possible that I shall finish the O’Malley papers this trip.
July 10 Sunday: I had hoped to get out into the country, since I have had no exercise all week. But it poured rain from 8 am. until after 5 pm. and cooped the whole lot of us up in the house. I wrote to Connellan in Newry.
July 11 Monday: I was in the Library most of the day, but in the evening met Maggie Murray and took her out for the evening. She told me the story of the bunting and why she had judged it wise to get out of Belfast. She said that Warren has done most of the work on a brief life of Sean Murray, but Hughie Moore will not cooperate as well as she had hoped. Jimmy Stewart has been “off the rails” for a bit and is now back on them. Another spot of news was that Hughie Moore had “turned”, and was married in a Catholic Church in London after “receiving six lessons”. His wife had seemingly held out on him for six years until finally he gave in. Not many know this, but Margaret Murray herself, though of the Catholic Community, does not approve. From what she says, I gather that she does not get on very well with Betty Sinclair whom she accuses of going into public houses and drinking at other peoples’ expense! Otherwise she is all right.
July 12 Tuesday: I spent the morning in the Library but the rest of the day with Tony Coughlan. His parents are both out of hospital but the father is 82 and cannot be expected to last long. The sister, the nun, has been in a Dublin hospital with some nervous complaint and he is trying to stop her being a nun any more [a misinterpretation; neither of these statements is accurate – Ed.]. He told me that it was he who wrote the editorial on the United Irishman on the Anglo-Irish Trade agreement. Tony Meade [“United Irishman” editor] said, “I don’t know much about economics!” He fears he will not be able to spend August in England, but hopes to come for a week or two.
July 13 Wednesday: A man telephoned twice saying he was interested in O’Casey and would I meet him. I rang Sean Redmond who said he had seen him in London.
July 14 Thursday: The O’Casey man rang in the morning saying he was called Maurice Goldring and was a Frenchman who had translated O’Casey. Tony Meade called in the evening seeking Cathal’s help in making a recording of Bodenstown to send to the USA. He expressed the view that Clann na hEireann would agree to unity talks. He was sorry we had not sent a contingent to Glencolumcille [to support Fr James McDyer’s cooperative movement there]. He does not understand that to remove forces from Clann na hEireann is to move inactive people; to move our people is to move active ones. I made it quite clear to him that we would be responsible for the movement in Britain, and that this was the natural concomitant of leaving the movement in Ireland free from interference from ourselves.
July 15 Friday: It poured rain most of the day. I was in the Library first, then met the young Frenchman Maurice Goldring – Sean Redmond had described him as a “lad”, but he was at least 30, possibly 35, and has a child aged nine. He had a notebook ready to take down my words of wisdom, but I told him to put it away as I could give him no special information about O’Casey. I told him the little I knew. He has translated some of O’Casey’s plays which were performed in Paris. But it was clear to me that he was attracted to precisely those aspects which to us are negative.
He came up again in the evening. It was quite interesting to note how the French Communist is more unconsciously imperialistic than the British – this apparently is possible. Thus the British Communist would mostly reveal hangovers of imperialist thought which he would reject once they were pointed out. I don’t know if Goldring is typical – Cathal and Roy say he is – but he refused to hear of the preservation of the Basque or Breton languages. The way to ensure they died out, he thought, was not to prohibit them, nor to give them any help. Least of all should they be taught in schools. Naturally he believed Irish should not be taught in Irish schools. Pressed hard he fell back on the argument that those cultures would not be saved anyway. But he was all for German in Alsace – that was the language of a big country! Along with this went his views on television and motorcars. He had them for the sake of the children! What did the children get out of them? Their father’s convenience, and the loss of every element in their own culture. He was a very pleasant individual but steeped in the cosmopolitan “mass culture”. He believed that Algeria must always be tied economically to France, and Ireland to Britain.
July 16 Saturday (Belfast/Dublin): I went to Belfast and had lunch with Jack Bennett. To describe this more accurately Jack met me at the College of Technology. “I don’t eat during the day. But if you’ll buy me a pint of beer, I’ll see if we can find a place where you can have a meal as well.” Like Roy he is known far and wide for his extraordinary parsimony. He got his pint of beer, and I learned the situation in Belfast. Then I went to see Art McMillen. He was in Dublin. A relation of Billy McMillen was there, Frank Teigh (if I got the name right), and we had quite a long talk. He told me Paisley had done the Republicans more good than a boatload of machine guns. His mother came in, warning him that his father had taken too much drink, and asking him not to take him out for any more. But Frank was going to take the pioneer pledge this weekend. The old woman (and she seemed old at 58) recalled the days of 1920, when she ran in her bare feet to get the priest for her father who was shot by Orange hoodlums. She was taken into a police barracks on the way but ran out and escaped them.
When I got back I rang Cathal MacLiam and he met me at Daly’s on Eden Quay before going to take his photographs at Bray. The process lasting till 4 am. only earns him £2, and in my opinion is not worth the trouble. He had been in the United Irishman office and on arrival found Cathal Goulding, Tony Meade, Sean Garland, Tom Mitchell and Denis Foley in a heated argument about the decision of the Editorial Committee not to print Mitchells’ reply to Roy Johnston, who had urged the elimination of Catholic rites at their commemorations. “Look at the persecution of the Catholic people through the ages,” said Mitchell. “Your trouble,” said Meade, “is that you never think over what you believe for fear you should find something wrong in it.” “There it is – Johnny-come-lately must be the first concern.” They grew quite angry, Garland saying nothing but showing sympathy with Mitchell, and Foley trying to calm them down. They should of course never have raised the question, which is entirely speculative since there is no sign of any Protestant drift towards Republicanism.
Cathal told me that he was very interested to find that Garland also is of Goulding stock – I did not gather that his mother was one of Cathal’s mother’s sisters, but he is some other relative, I imagine. We remained in Daly’s till just before 10 pm. when Cathal went to get his bus to Bray.
July 17 Sunday: Once again the weather was wet – though it improved later in the day. The result was that nothing much was done. I had a cold, also.
July 18 Monday: I spent the day in Pearse Street. In the evening Tony Meade came up and said he understood that Clann na hEireann were accepting the proposals to discuss unity.
July 19 Tuesday: I spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone. He had had a reply from Clann na hEireann proposing a conference at the Welsh Hall, their meeting place, and there was a stipulation about no “press or other” publicity. I advised him to delay his reply until we could have a committee meeting for, as he said, Joe Deighan and Pat Hensey were both out of town. The sooner I can finish this wandering and get back to London the better. We could easily lose the initiative on a number of fronts, because creative initiative is the only important quality Sean Redmond has not yet developed.
July 20 Wednesday: I finished what I have to do with the O’Malley papers, and delighted the Librarian [Miss O’Byrne] by giving her a card index, which she will have typed and give me a copy. She is doing my photostats at half price too. She is interested in Connolly, asked me would I autograph the reference Library copy of my Life of Connolly, and criticised the National Library for making their concentration on mediaeval and neglecting contemporary Irish history. She knew Roddy and Ross Connolly and commented that members of that family never seem to get on too well with their spouses! It is interesting that socialist ideas have become so widely acceptable, or at least respectable, that she could talk of his “relevance” (favourite scholarly argot) to Ireland today.
July 21 Thursday: I went into Pearse Street to clear things up, and left about 3 pm. Cathal Goulding came up [to his cousin Cathal MacLiam’s house in Finglas where Greaves was staying] and asked me if I wanted to discuss anything with him. He was surprised when I replied in the negative, and mentioned that the Clann na hEireann are forming a committee to promote the return of Casement’s private effects to his heirs. He said he had one or two points he wanted to raise with me, and would come to lunch on Saturday. I saw Sean Nolan.
July 22 Friday: Today was the first cloudy one (from midday onwards) for over a week, but since the morning was bright I cycled to Balrothery, looked at the family tomb of the Hamiltons, and then went to Drogheda, returning roughly the same way, via Stamullen and the Naul.
July 23 Saturday: Today Helga and the children were driven to Galway by Tony Meade, Cathal going there and back with them. In the evening I met Tadhg Egan and Desmond Logan and we went to Hennessys. Tony Meade complains that Roy has got too grand to recognise him in the street – I doubt this, too preoccupied, possibly, with “lofty political thoughts”. Tony Ruane was there, coming from a Sinn Fein committee meeting. He complained that Clann na hEireann was a source of concern. The London group was intransigent, and the northerners sent more money, which was to him the main thing. He thought the work parties in Glencolmcille a waste of time. I told him that in my view they would accomplish more to help the west by having one man in the Dail. “We’ll go in only when we get an overall majority.” “Then,” I said, “you ask the public to buy a pig in a poke, and they won’t.” “Ah,” said he, “that may be true, but if you said that you’d be damned.” I understand from Cathal that Tony Meade has the idea of building up the Wolfe Tone Society to replace Sinn Fein as the “political arm” of the IRA! And they are damned careful who they let into it. Of course in this way they avoid a political battle, and regroup through organisational steps.
When I got back Cathal had returned. With him was Tony Meade and one of the young Clann na hEireanns they had collected at the airport. He is going to Glencolmcille. Cathal afterwards told me with some interest that Meade had disclosed to him that his taking Cathal to Galway had “the approval” of the Republican movement. I was wondering what would happen to members of the IWP who are in the Wolfe Tone Society, if it became a political party. Cathal Goulding rang postponing his engagement.
July 24 Sunday: We had invited Des Logan up for the evening, but Mairin rang in the morning asking if we would “take him off her hands” for the afternoon, as she wanted to go to bed. We said we were going cycling. He said he would get Roy’s bicycle and come up by 2.15. At 3.15 we left a note and departed. We met him puffing up Ballygall Road East – he decided he had had enough, so we left him in the house and went to near Mulhuddart, bringing back water cress, peppermint and elder flowers with which to flavour gooseberries.
When we got back, over a bottle or two of wine, Des Logan told us the latest about Roy and Gleeson. Soon after he had thrown the beer which missed Roy and went all over Barbara MacLoughlin, there were threats issued that Roy would be “bumped off”, with a revolver. Mairin commented that that was apparently the risk of the kind of politics he was engaged in. Then Gleeson intimated by some means that Behal had promised to throw a grenade through the window of his house. Mairin was wrath. “Surely they don’t need to throw it in the house. Couldn’t they as easily get him when he was walking down the road.” She consulted with her brothers. They went to Cathal Goulding. Though Behal, still on the run, is apparently now only loosely connected with them, they communicated with him and received a denial of the threat. Goulding then went to O’Riordan and demanded that Gleeson should be “disciplined”. But this was not before dire counter-threats had been communicated to Gleeson by Mairin’s brothers!
At about 11 pm. Des Logan was to cycle back to Rathmines, and we told him the way. An hour later he arrived back. He had missed the way and found himself at Collinstown! So much for looking in the wine when it is white! He stayed the night. Logan told me, by the way, that the week after I was in Hyde Park, Dalton spent at least 45 minutes on the platform attacking me, devoting the remainder to Callaghan, who he said had been “picked up from the gutters of Edgeware Road”. So the farce proceeds.
July 25 Monday: I went into Pearse St. Library. Miss O’Byrne was back. She and Miss O’Dowd had me autograph the lending library copy of the Life of Connolly. I asked what would I write. “Anything you please.” I wrote, “May the young people of Dublin learn what Dublin taught James Connolly.” They seemed very pleased with the sentiment, which anyway left scope for exegesis. I picked up the photostats and went back to Cathal’s.
July 26 Tuesday: I spent the day cleaning up, and at 5.30 pm. Cathal Goulding came up. He asked if we would consider the setting up of a Committee in relation to the Casement Diaries a trespass on our territory, as he had been told that we had already set up a committee. I said we had not, though we were committed to a campaign. We would take the view, “the more the merrier”. He then asked about the “Irish Workers Group” who now sport a blue flag with stars on it. How did they get their money? I stated that they were a society of vulgar anti-communists whose purpose was to take Communism in the rear by asserting that it was not communist enough. The Republican counterpart, he replied, is found in the Cork City “anti-revisionists”. I stated also that if that gang were represented on the committee we would not be, and that we had no interest in any secret agreement. It must be public and above-board. He agreed with this. Then he drove me and Cathal to the boat. Cathal was going to the Committee meeting of the Wolfe Tone Society which some of them (including Tony Meade) regard as a future replacement for Sinn Fein. I asked myself again. What happens if they start a party?
July 27 Wednesday (London): I arrived in Liverpool, and went to 124 Mount Road, found the lettuces almost eaten away by slugs (as Phyllis said) but the colcannon and parsley doing well, and the fennel and spinach fairly. The fine rhododendron CEG planted is putting on more leaf than I ever saw. I ascribe this to either or both of my actions in immediately cutting off the dead flowers, and applying some KNO3.
I caught the 3.30 and Sean Redmond met me. We went to the Civil Liberties Committee on Northern Ireland, and very interesting it was too. As Sean led the way upstairs, a tall figure carrying a bright crimson bag on his back followed us. This was McHale, one of Binnberg’s nominees. In the knowledgeable precincts of the Temple, where he has his chambers, this would be generally recognised as the container of important briefs. In Camden Town he might, but for the black coat and striped trousers, be taken for the postman. He strode forth unconcerned, strong in the knowledge of his intrinsic respectability. Birnberg was there already, a picture of a social climber, with an accent which while not being deliberately affected was not deliberately popularised. Tony Smythe, the new NCCL Secretary, is a dashing young fellow of 28. And Hostettler arrived. Hostettler and Birnberg had been articled together in Seifert’s office [Seifert was Greaves’s personal solicitor]. But Birnberg had deserted his revolutionary principles. I was pleased to note that they were all considerably younger men than I, and I took advantage of that fact to lay down the law occasionally. Otherwise they would have gone back to square one, “collecting information”. I told them I had collected it for thirty years and they might as well use what was collected already. The lawyers were very conscious of their professional dignity, except for Hostettler who said very little. Everything was very amicable however and we all went for a drink, Birnberg suggesting Henikey’s Wine bar where he chose a 1962 Beaujolais. Martin Ennals appeared from nowhere and drank a glass of it. Then the three of them moved off and left us with Smythe. It was, incidentally, amusing to hear them talking of McCartney as an “expert” when it was we who introduced him to the subject and trying to draw in Paul O’Higgins, whom they also regarded as an expert. The title “expert” has no relation to one’s learning, but to one’s being in a position to sell it.
Smythe had been leader of the “War Resisters’ International” and has done time in an “open prison” into which it was possible to introduce and regale oneself on cherry brandy. He has toured round all Europe mixing with anarchists and pacifist circles. He still has anarchist connections and was in Dublin the day Noel Browne was bitten by a police dog. He also knows Puxon [Grattan Puxon, a campaigner on itinerant issues]. How did he get the job, we asked. He replied that nobody was more surprised than he. But according to Sean Redmond, Ennals pushed him, for knowing of his anarchist connections, he kept that knowledge to himself. But how he could put it back! Bottle after bottle had to be ordered. Poor Sean had to opt out before the last one. And your man was pouring it down. Then he thought he was a little too cheerful to go and stay with his middleclass parents (his wife and four children are living in Northamptonshire), so he agreed to go home with Sean Redmond, whose parents are in Cornwall and there is only Brendan [one of Sean Redmond’s two brothers] in the house.
July 28 Thursday: A letter came from Chris Kelly (who I bailed out when he was arrested in or around 1943) saying he is in a mental home to which he has been committed as a result of an “anti-socialist conspiracy” and will I give him a “character” so as to help to get him out. I will not come to much harm from writing a letter, so will see what I can do. He is of course “odd”, but I would not think he needed to be locked up. He says the Connolly Association of Australia is badly split and Felix Deighan “isolated”.
According to what Sean Redmond learned last week, Paul Rose [Manchester Labour MP] has become intensely interested in Irish history and is writing a book on the Manchester Martyrs. He goes through the files of the Times while waiting for the division bell to ring! It is well to be a “public representative”.
I had an interesting letter from Flann Campbell. I had written telling him of my finding a reference in the O’Malley papers to his two brothers’ jeering the Staters when on their way to Rathdrum. The soldiers put them in a field and fired shots over their head. According to the report Joseph Campbell, his father [and well-known Irish poet and song-writer], was then in Mountjoy. According to Flann, who had heard of the incident, the youngsters were on their way back from Bray (a long journey when they were aged only 10 and 8, I would say) and the report was correct. But at that time his parents were already separated. He knew his father was in Tintown but never heard of his being in Mountjoy. His father was a romantic, not politically active. He was however against the Treaty. His mother, on the other hand, was extremely active and resisted the Treaty vigorously. Despite this, his sister always remained friendly with Desmond Fitzgerald [Minister in the 1920s Cumann na nGael Government], despite his position. Flann also mentioned that both Francis Stuart – later a prominent pro-Nazi – and Joseph Campbell lived in Glencree, and Stuart might know something about those days.
July 29 Friday: I learned that the Connolly Association finances were so bad that Sean Redmond was two weeks behind in his salary. Instead of taking vigorous measures to bring us money he had borrowed £30 from the book account. Toni Curran and he seem incapable of keeping at the money-raising business. Every time I go away they forget to put the appeal on the Democrat, yet its sole value is in its regularity. Toni is coming in every other Wednesday and is being paid 12/6 an hour. I calculate that this compares with 7/7 an hour for Sean Redmond who is called upon to spend another twelve to sixteen or even 20 hours a week unpaid. By contrast Tony Smythe draws £20 (against my £15 which is however by agreement “part time”) and his assistant draws £15 against Sean Redmond’s £14. I think I will try to get the wages and the standards of efficiency both up.
July 30 Saturday: I went over some financial statements with Sean Redmond. We went to look at new premises in Pioneer House with Barbara Haq. She was complaining of dizziness and goes on holiday next Monday. There are two rooms, one 73 feet by 120 feet, and another the quarter of the size. The owners of 374 Grays Inn Road are prepared to renew the lease (at a price) but insist on only one tenant. This means the MCF would have to take on the responsibility and sublet to the Connolly Association, ZAPU [Zimbabwean African People’s Union]and others. Sean commented to me privately that the small organisations which hang around the MCF do not in fact pay them rent, but the leaders (which include Fenner Brockway) don’t wish to throw them out as their votes are handy when they disagree with Woddis. So Barbara Haq had the notion of taking the small room at £1000 a year and dividing it into four, but this would leave us insufficient space. She agreed to consider the larger one at £2000. This would mean our paying £500, which I said we could do but could the others pay it? MCF themselves might just manage it. Would they have to carry the others, and would Barbara Haq’s health be up to carrying the whole thing on for seven years? I wondered afterwards if it was wise to link ourselves with the MCF like this. On the other hand I want nothing to do with subletting. One door, one key, one rent. The premises are available because the new Labour daily newspaper, which was to have been produced there, has now been abandoned.
Pat Hensey was back from Ireland. His mother who is 65 had a cerebral haemorrhage, but is recovering. In the evening I went to Kilburn with Chris Sullivan. There was a wild holiday mood, the English being badly affected because their football team had won the “World Cup”, an institution productive of the maximum international friction and jealousy. One drunk picked up a chair at us. Further up there were fights outside public houses. Strange deliberately tatterdemalion creatures, coats ripped, trousers hanging on threads, bare backs and bellies showing, pranced through Willesden and were admitted to establishments, I do not know if they were served. The extremely Irish houses like “The Old Crown” and the “Case Is altered” were comparatively sober. This time it was the English who showed the volatility.
July 31 Sunday: Though the weather was unsettled we managed to have an afternoon meeting in Hyde Park. Callaghan was there again, and later Dalton, as vociferous as ever. I said a few words myself, and Pat Hensey, Bob Rossiter and Peter Mulligan were there also. We had intended to go out in the evening, but the rain began to pour down in torrents. There were quite a few things to talk over, so Sean and Peter and I retired to the “Bull” where the most magnificent trappings have been installed to attract customers, but without removing the ex-army-policeman licensee who is the reason for driving them away. Account book management never gets the right reason for anything.
August 1 Monday (Liverpool): I left for Liverpool on the early train and was in 124 Mount Road soon after midday. Mrs Phillips is still ill, so she did not come. In the afternoon Mrs Stewart came and sorted out Phyllis’s clothes. Then Peggy Evans and her husband came, with the little girl May, who is 12, and I believe Phyllis’s godchild. She was to choose the books she wanted. Peggy’s brother is at home, is still estranged from his wife, and thinks he is going to get better. He sits irritably watching television all day. The paralysis due to haemorrhage is going. But the brain tumour is still there. I would not like his wife’s prospect. I noted, incidentally, that the Gaskell’s are still very left-wing, and this adds to my opinion that it was regrettable that they moved to Chichester.
August 2 Tuesday: Today was quite fine after a bad start and I did away with the hopelessly overgrown rockery and made a bed for flowers and vegetables, and cut down a mountain ash and two brooms for the northwest corner. The change slightly reduces the seclusion, but lets in more light, and is the only practicable method of opening up the corner so that I can get rid of the bramble and convolvulus and train the rambler rose along the wall.
In the evening Miss Stothard came and went through the school material.
August 3 Wednesday: I had intended to go to the cottage in Salop but the weather was too bad. In between the heavy showers I demolished the rockery outside the back door. It was hopelessly overgrown with tansy. I made a new bed in its place and planted hollyhock seedlings from other places. In the evening I met John McClelland in the city. I arranged for his wife, who is small, to come and see if any of Phyllis’s old things will fit her.
August 4 Thursday: Again the weather was bad. Fred Brown was wild because the window cleaners had dug their ladders into his soft concrete! Thanks to the weather limiting my activity I found it hard not to dwell too much on memories of Phyllis. It is all very well to talk about a break when you have not the practical administration to carry out. A thought came to me in the middle of last night, that I cannot hope to live her life as well as my own. How far to keep contact with her friends and the family connections she preserved is not an easy question to decide. To respect the past without becoming its prisoner is the question.
August 5 Friday: I went to Bateson’s in the morning and swore the affidavits which are needed to obtain probate. This will take some four weeks. Then it has to be registered. Regarding the house if it is sold within a short period there must be an adjustment to that figure it fetches. I am not at present in a hurry over this. In the evening Lockheed came to remove the school things that Miss Stothard had collected, and Peggy Gaskell collected the Royal Doulton statuettes which she had forgotten last Monday, and which I rather hoped she would leave forgotten. Apparently she was present when they were purchased, I am sure in AEG’s time. The Chinese bowl I gave them has gone to Mrs Stewart, some of the books to May Gaskell. I found the four-year diary which Phyllis was anxious that I should not read. It seems a pity to destroy a record of a human personality. At the same time I want to execute her wishes.
August 6 Saturday: The weather was still cool, but there was much less rain. I went in to the city in the morning. In the afternoon John McClelland and his wife came and Margaret was very delighted at some of the clothes which fitted her. She asked if Phyllis had lost weight. Apparently the more recent clothes were smaller than the earlier ones. So there is a story told, yet seemingly she never suspected.
August 7 Sunday: I wrote a few necessary letters and continued with the general clearing up, but that was about all.
August 8 Monday: I went to see the cottage. I took the 9.40 train from Heswall Hills station, noting as I cycled thither that Barnston is in course of demolition. I then cycled from Wrexham through Overton to Oswestry, crossed Melverley Bridge – where I saw the first road I ever saw in England with passing places on the Scottish model – and so on to Westhay and Minsterly. I had lunch at Oswestry, at the Wynstay. An old gentleman in sports coat and baggy creased flannels sat at the next table. “I want a three-course lunch for eleven and six.” Soon he was arguing the point with the waitress in a fine old ex-army colonial voice. “You say you serve three courses for 11/6. What are your three courses?” The waitress pointed them out. “But I don’t want that.” “That’s one of them, sir.” “No, no. You say three courses for 11/6.” Just what he wanted I do not know, but he had evidently discovered a supposed ambiguity in the menu. “Go and get your manager and ask him what it means?” However, he ordered something. About fifteen minutes when I was enjoying a half bottle of Piesporter, I heard him say, “I still want the manager. And I want him quick.” The manager came, all dapper in black and white. The old man was equal to the occasion, explained how he had “told the girl three times” and had had liver because “that’s all you seem to have.” And how tough it was. “You should get rid of that cook. I know it’s not right. Yes, yes, it may be of the best quality but I know from my knowledge of cooking liver. . .” Then I heard, “I sympathise with you. I know how difficult cooks are these days.” And the noises showed signs of evident mollification. The waitress brought my bill. To him she said, “The manager will see you about your bill; he will decide how much is to be taken off it.” I asked her, “If I say that steak was tough, d’you think I can get a few bob knocked off as well?” She replied, “I think he was short of money. He kept saying he wanted lunch for 11/6 and no extras.” I apparently was not!
From Minsterley I went up the hill to Snailbeach and was melting with heat and parched with thirst when I saw the Stiperstones Hotel. It was 5 pm. I asked a bystander what time did they open. “Six o’clock.” But I went in. Two people had ordered tea. “I suppose,” said I, “that you’d hardly be open yet for alcoholic beverages.” “We’re not,” quoth the landlord, “but what do you want?”. So I had a quick bottle of beer and resumed the push up the hill of 1 in 10. The valley opened up into a high moorland, punctuated by extinct mine shafts, and overlooked by extraordinary vertical crags, which I had indeed seen before reaching Oswestry. These must be the “Stiperstones” (steep stones?). I found the bog and went on southwest until I saw a pine tree a hundred yards below the road on the right. I recalled the pine tree in Phyllis’s pictures, and noted it was the only one in the vicinity. I immediately afterwards saw the cottage, and made for it across a hayfield, dodged under barbed wire, and so identified it from the name-board, “Greavehoughs” – which Phyllis took from her own name. I went in, and had a look round. Two rooms, one on each floor, a few chairs, cottage-like knick-knacks fixed above the fireplace. One of Mary Greaves’s carpets on the bedroom floor. But there were no fuel or food supplies, and it was clear that Phyllis used to bring whatever she needed in her car and take away what she did not use. I imagine the people who were working in the hayfield would be the Pugh family. They passed me on the way back to their tea. However, for a number of reasons – I was tired, I had not time to think what my course of action should be, I was disinclined to talk about Phyllis, anxious not to take the thing over in a state of moral dependency on the nearest neighbours –I did not call to the house. I stayed only 20 minutes and then ran down through Minsterley to Salop, where missing a train by five minutes, I waited two hours and reached 124 Mount Road at five minutes before midnight. A quick cup of tea with a ham sandwich, and so to bed. [The house or “cottage” which Phyllis Greaves rented and which Desmond Greaves continued to rent for some years following her death in 1966 was at the south end of the Stiperstone hills in West Shropshire. Theirs was the nearest house to the Nipstone Rock, just below the adjacent road, from which there is a path up to the rock and beyond. Nipstone Rock is one of the ancient rock protuberances that mark the Stiperstone range of hills. The house on the site of Greaves’s place is now known as “Stone Cottage”. The house Greaves rented was originally a miner’s house. It was demolished by its owner a few years after Greaves ceased renting it and the man who demolished it was required by the Council to build a new house on the site, which was later extended to become quite an elaborate dwelling that has been occupied by different owners since. It still incorporates the eastern gable end of the original miner’s house. In October 2023 the house and adjacent Nipstone Rock were visited by Michael Quinn, Desmond Greaves’s biographer, Anthony Coughlan, Greaves’s heir and literary executor, and Eddie Cowman, former Connolly Association organiser. They were all members of the committee of the Annual Desmond Greaves Weekend Summer School in Dublin. Greaves had taken several photos of the area in different directions from Nipstone Rock, which he visited in 1967 together with his Dublin friend Cathal MacLiam, and the more recent visitors were able to compare these with contemporary views. They were pleased to see that the area had been significantly improved since Greaves’s time. Local tourist notices indicated that it had been covered with coniferous trees in the 1960s – a development Desmond Greaves deprecated in his Journal. But in the early 2000s these were mostly removed and the Stiperstone Hills were returned to their original natural state, with the extensive wild heather covering that exists today. Greaves would surely have approved of this change. Shelve is the nearest village to the Nipstone Rock area and the nearest town in Bishop’s Castle, a few miles to the south. (See www.desmondgreavesarchive.com; and the Index references for Desmond Greaves under“Holidays/cycle tours”; the name “Stiperstones” is a useful search word to use in the online edition of the Journal.)]
August 9 Tuesday (London): I cleaned up the place superficially – watched the gardener take an hour over half the front lawn, and then stop owing to rain – and then took the 2.30 pm. to London. Opposite me was a young railway clerk who had used his free pass to go to Manchester (via Crewe, changing there!) to Liverpool and back. He spent an hour in Liverpool looking at a “do it yourself” exhibition in St. Georges Hall which he thought was the “Town Hall”. He had intended going to the waterfront but “it began to rain.” Yet he was quite a bright lad and wanted to know what the effect of joining the Common Market would be.
Before I left Liverpool I telephoned Mrs Stewart. She told me a friend of Phyllis’s had written saying first that she was very shocked to hear the news (belatedly), second that she hoped that Mrs Stewart would keep on the cottage, and third that if she was not going to do so would she see the tenancy was transferred to a friend of hers! It was apparently this person who found it for Phyllis. I told her to say I intended to keep it awhile but would remember her favourably otherwise. When I reached 6 Cockpit Chambers I found a letter from the Borough Estate Manager referring to “development” of this site. So I was right.
August 10 Wednesday: I was busy in the office all day. There is no doubt that there are a number of basic things, like finance, being neglected. And last weekend sales were a complete catastrophe. Toni Curran was in during the afternoon.
August 11 Thursday: Again I was in the office all day. In the evening I went to South London. Learning that we were only £21 short of the £1000 target [ie. to employ a new organiser] Robbie Rossiter gave £10. I was hesitant about accepting it. I hope he doesn’t regret it. Pat Bond is away to Devon on holiday.
August 12 Friday: I was busy in the office all morning, and then went to Chez Emile for lunch. When I reached home afterwards I recalled that I was there a year ago today with Phyllis. The last time I saw her passably well, and the day she was so despondent about her health but never got on to the thing which must really have been on her mind.
Then I went to see IWK [full name not known] at Central Books. I am trying to revive their order [ie. for the monthly “Irish Democrat”] which has fallen to less than 300, the lowest ever. Her old shop in Dale End is down.
August 13 Saturday: I worked on the plans offered me by the MCF. They have been offered a space of 130 x 70 in Pioneer House for a rent of £1600 plus rates. This is 4/2d. a square foot. I asked Barbara Haq why they did not give money away as a simpler proposition. What was the snag? “I think that being the Coop they would like to induce friendly organisations to go there.” I asked her to send me a letter stating her offer of a quarter of this for £500 a year. Des Logan came in the evening and we went to Camden Town.
August 14 Sunday: The General Purposes Committee decided to go ahead with the MCF offer although Barbara Haq’s letter did not come until evening. In the afternoon the characters who had tried to break up Joe Deighan’s meeting were there – wild bearded creatures I had seen before. But they were quieter and did not stay. Tony Maguire was on the old rubbish of “no hope from British politicians”, and Callaghan was at it.
August 15 Monday: I worked in the office all day. Barbara MacLaughlin rang inviting me to dinner on Friday and asked (“by the way”) what had happened to Des Logan who was due on a Tuairim ramble yesterday. She gave a giggle when I replied I had no idea. So seemingly she is still in pursuit and she will get her quarry if I know her. I decided to go though it will probably be a waste of time.
August 16 Tuesday: This morning Barbara Haq announced “snags” in her scheme. She had offered us 72 x 30 ft. for £500 a year. Alas, that was the total she had available, and she now offered us a quarter of that, less corridor space at £400 plus rates. This is nearly £1 a sq. foot! I asked her if there were any other wee snags. She still wanted to proceed. I spent the day making new plans and circularised them. I asked Barbara Haq to ascertain the rates definitely.
August 17 Wednesday: When Barbara Haq appeared again I wondered what next. She had learned that the rates were £1000 a year. I told her I doubted if we would be interested and that our own course was to appeal against the termination of our own tenancy. Toni Curran came in later and while she was there Barbara returned saying that the rates were not £1000 at all, but £550 – the £1000 being the rateable value. I then asked further questions. Having now little faith in the MCF’s knowing what it was doing, I asked where would we be if the MCF folded up. Her position is that she hopes it will not. But she cannot go ahead with the scheme unless we take up £600 worth of space. I am hesitant, but what can we do? The alternative is to stay in appallingly cramped conditions, and pay £300. Incidentally our rent is the lowest per sq. ft. in the building. I think we are probably the oldest tenant.
The evening meeting of Central London was fairly reasonable, with Peter Mulligan, Joe Deighan, Keith Cavanagh and one or two others. Jane Tate was back and agreed to be treasurer of the CA until Christmas.
August 18 Thursday: I worked on the paper. Unfortunately, thanks to Barbara Haq’s nonsense I am rather behind. In the evening I went to West London, and some old friends were there: Des Logan, Colm Power and Gerry Curran.
August 19 Friday: I was busy on the paper when Joe Deighan walked in, his head swathed in bandages. He had an ulcer on the eye and had been to a hospital. That excludes him from everything this weekend. We learned that the so-called Irish Workers Group are organising a parade on Sunday against Lemass’s Trade Union legislation.
In the evening I went to Eamon MacLaughlin’s. Des Logan was there. But the booze! About nine or ten bottles of wine. I drew a line, but Eamon was quite happy to go on drinking, though Des Logan left early. Eamon looked very much like himself when I first met him in 1946 or 47 in Coleraine. But though the sun may have helped his complexion, I suspect something else has also had its effect. He is politically totally defeatist.
August 20 Saturday: Joe Deighan and I decided to put out a disclaimer of tomorrow’s effort [ie. of the demonstration in London against the Irish Government – see previous day’s entry], to appear after it has happened. I sent it off to the printer.
August 22 Monday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley, read the proofs and saw the collecting card being printed. Then I went on to Liverpool and saw McClelland and talked over the plans for TUC week.
August 23 Tuesday: I spoke to Enid Greaves on the phone. She had sent an invitation to Anthea’s wedding, but I told her I would be away on holidays (as I hoped I would, though cannot be sure). She was a little disappointed, but she will soon get over it! I arranged September 8th for her collecting some furniture. In the afternoon I went to Manchester, had tea with Tom Redmond and Aine, now together again, and so to the branch meeting. There is a lively young Dublin lad there, full of enthusiasm. I hope he keeps it up. Tom Redmond strikes me as rather lackadaisical these days. However, I tried to stimulate them, to what effect I do not know.
August 24 Wednesday (London): Phyllis would have been fifty today. I spent the morning writing letters, got Jean Hack to witness a declaration that I was the owner of the grave in Bebington cemetery, wrote to a monumental mason to get an engraving according to Phyllis’s wishes and generally brought everything up to date. Probate has been granted and it is to be hoped the business will soon be finished. I spoke to Mrs Stewart on the telephone. She had spent a week of glorious weather at the cottage. I observe a certain claim of proprietorship. She was cleaning out mouse nests and talking about ordering coal, and did not seem pleased when I spoke of adapting the arrangments in accordance with my needs. Presumably this does injury to her memories, and I can understand that. But nothing can be founded on what is not, or is no longer.
I caught the afternoon train and returned to London, where I attended the Central meeting which was fair. Peter Mulligan was away on holiday. Joe Deighan was there but suffering from an ulcer of the eye.
August 25 Thursday: I was busy in the office all day, launching the new fund. In the evening I went to South London and found Pat Bond, Robbie Rossiter and others.
August 26 Friday: I was again in the office, and in the evening went with Charlie Cunningham to Camden Town. We had a drink in the Wine Bar at Holloway. We had little peace for an old Frenchwoman, well drunk, kept up an incessant conversation in a mixture of English and French with phrases of German thrown in. She was well read, an admirer of Somerset Maugham, and a despiser of the English who don’t know their own history. She praised Shaw’s St. Joan. “But as for the church – they burn her – then hundreds of years afterwards they make money out of her. So you see what kind of a Catholic I am.” She thought women should wear hats, but not “mini-skirts” (the latest craze) and for all that she was, she said, a servant in the household of Julian Amory at Brentwood. She was smartly attired, had an air of sophistication and was as dignified as the copious quantities of vin blanc she had consumed would allow her.
I had a card from Miss Stothard who is in Norway, and a notification from the Prudential Assurance Co. that Phyllis’s policy had been surrendered and the cash paid to my solicitor.
August 17 Saturday: Elsie O’Dowling came in the morning and took over the Guarantor fund. She had been in Glencolmcille. Apparently Cathal made a great impression there. But her impression of Fay is of a big-headed drunkard. And I hear the BBC and the other parasites are moving in – soon Glencolmcille will be a publicity stunt for caravan sites! For these things cannot be done by private effort, which is always turned to the purposes of the existing government.
In the evening Jane Tate came and took over the treasurership temporarily. I was in Paddington with Charlie Cunningham in the evening.
August 28 Sunday: I was busy in the office all morning. Then Chris Sullivan came and I accompanied him to Hyde Park. There I spoke first and observed the bearded long-haired “Irish Workers Group” in the audience. Lawless went past, heard me talking about partition and went off with a contemptuous toss of the head. One of his group however was actually silenced by what he learned about that subject. I got down, and saw Callaghan and MacDonald coming to me, both very white and agitated. The three bearded creatures had started bawling in their meeting, and then introducing “filth”. Callaghan and his mates had “belted them” and pursued them across the grass to Lawless. There Lawless denied any connection with them – though they had carried his platform there! Callaghan uttered dire warning of what any repetition would entail, and they parted on the worst of terms. “How amusing,” said Colm Power who was there and went to Schmidt’s with us afterwards, “that they should approach you as peacemaker”. “Divil a bit were you a peacemaker,” says Charlie Cunningham.
Then I heard Chris Sullivan’s tale of woe. “You’ll not see Jim Kelly again. He’s pulled out.” I was not pleased. He had been out last night with Chris. They had already had some disagreement on Friday. Now there was a dispute over whether they should take a bus or walk, and Jim Kelly had “taken a scunder” and gone off. “It hurt him,” said Chris Sullivan, “but you can’t be molly-coddling them all the time.”
However there he was, large as life, and I sent him off to Hammersmith with Charlie Cunningham. It is quite clear that he is a young lad of considerable responsibility and conscience, and he was very relieved when we told him to take no notice of Chris, who could easily get into a bad mood. Robbie Rossiter was in the park, as Joe Deighan has still an ulcerated eye, and Peter Mulligan and Gerry Curran are away on holiday.
August 29 Monday: I was in the office all day. Barbara Haq left a note offering us yet anotherspace in her new premises. I think it is as broad as it is long, so we will agree. I got out the requests for sponsorship of the 21/1/1967 conference and included both Fitt and Rose. The day was hot at first, then became thundery, so that I was thoroughly tired and glad to have nearly finished all the operations.
August 30 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went into the office for a few minutes, cleared up the remnants of the work and then went to Liverpool. In the evening I met John McClelland.
August 31 Wednesday: For the most part I did odd jobs about the house that required attention. Miss Stothard sent me a card, and a letter from Mrs Stewart suggested that I consider buying an oil-fired oven for the cottage that Phyllis had been negotiating over. I am not sure whether I want this. So I will say sell it, but if you don’t I’ll look at it. I met Sean Redmond at Chester and brought him to 124 Mount Road.
September 1 Tuesday: So here the month’s round again in which both CEG and I were born, CEG and AEG married, Phyllis was taken sick, and AEG died, the most beautiful month of the year, that one now greets with such mixed feelings. Sean Redmond and I cycled to Heswall Hills, took the train to Penyffordd and cycled to Llandegla and Llangollen, returning through Wrexham. There is a hideous cafe on the top of Oernant, and a vast caravan site under the shade of Valle Crucis Abbey. From Wrexham to Ruabon is one endless “subtopia”.
September 2 Friday: Having crossed last night, Tony Coughlan called at Mount Road. We had a discussion on what was needed in London, after which he went on there. We met Robbie Rossiter at Lime Street, and he and Sean Redmond then went to stay with John McClelland.
September 3 Saturday: The day was not very fruitful. We met John McClelland and his wife in Birkenhead, then went for a “cruise” on the Royal Irish or Daffodil or some other flower – mainly an excuse to drink in the afternoon from what I could judge, but all the same providing an unusual gay and innocuous outing for people. I suppose this will soon be a thing of the past. We met McClelland in the evening.
September 4 Sunday: All four of us went to Blackpool [for the TUC conference]. There was violent rain and wind. We attended the CND meeting but found the part of the sands we had been allocated too wet for us. I had a word with Phil Bolsover, now editor of “Sanity”. Clive Jenkins [later a well-known trade Union leader] was one of the speakers, a young man who is just a wee bit too smart. John Gibson was there [Liverpool CPGB member]. He should go back to being a draughtsman. He speaks of having been ill during the year – nervous sickness I am sure due to his sense of failure as a political organiser. He speaks of his work for “Soviet Weekly” as providing “bread and butter”. We also saw Vic Eddisford, as grey as a badger. Tom Redmond missed the train and arrived late. On the whole the day was not fruitful. Sean Redmond and Bob Rossiter stayed at Marriotts, but John McClelland and I returned to Liverpool.
September 5 Monday: I reached Blackpool again shortly before midday, and we handed out leaflets to delegates at the TUC.
September 6 Tuesday: Again I went to Blackpool. In the evening we held our meeting. I was pleased to see there Hugh Darcy, who used to handle the Democrat for me in Edinburgh. He is now on the EC of the AUBTW [Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers]. Paddy Healy was with him. There were two Welsh miners and several draughtsmen, plus a man from Leeds who is in the TGWU, and the Draughtsman delegate from Belfast, Banks, a harmless enough individual whose handshake is as flabby as dough. Michael Cooley was in the chair and Sean Redmond spoke. Again I returned to Liverpool.
September 7 Wednesday: Back at Blackpool, I went in to see the show. All three of us had been given visitors’ tickets, and of course we wanted to hear the big debate. Cousins [Frank Cousins] was professional but a little lacking in conviction. Jenkins was again too much the clever advocate. Painter [Will Painter] was precise, clear and dignified. Both Carron and Feather had to disassociate themselves from AEU man Boyd’s attack on NALGO. The voting was very close, if the wrong way.
We then held a discussion with the Belfast delegation, sent to raise the question of the proposed closure of Short and Harlands [the Belfast Aircraft firm]. Billy Wallace was one of them, together with a Catholic with a pioneer pin named Carlin, and a bearded young Protestant, Harrison, who said little. Carlin impressed me very favourably. After that I returned to Liverpool while Bob Rossiter and Sean Redmond prepared to go to the Mayor’s reception for which they had been got tickets. I spoke to Tony Coughlan on the phone. He told me that sales had been fair.
September 8 Thursday: I felt tired today – partly the early rising and late nights and the travelling to and from Blackpool. Also I think a substratum of nervous exhaustion following last winter’s vigil and its melancholy event. I decided to go and have a holiday before resuming the book. There was good news from Manchester, that Michael Crowe and Brian Farrington are back, one from London, that twelve MPs have agreed to sponsor next January’s conference, including Gerry Fitt. This almost guarantees its success. Also about £30 has come in for the premises fund. There is of course nobody like Tony Coughlan for creating an atmosphere of optimism and confidence and he has achieved quite remarkable sales figures.
In the afternoon Enid Greaves and Anthea came to collect the bedroom suite from the back room, that used to be my room as a student’s den. She is to be married on the 24th, but I told them I was going on a holiday and could hardly be there. Elsie offered to drive me to the cottage to bring back anything I required, and I told her I would take her up on that. For the rest, I wrote letters and planted raspberries at the side of the kitchen garden. “Harry” appeared, and for ten shillings and a bottle of beer made the bed in front of the front window presentable. The colcannon has proved a powerful success, and the garlic also. The beans have been affected by black fly, the lettuces are only now producing hearts, and the spinach has been thin. The parsley has been excellent, with the sage and the fennel. But everything seems to have come to an end early, and there is a coolness that may forbode a bad winter. I cannot avoid recalling that four years after 1891 came 1895!
September 9 Friday (London): I travelled to London on the 10.30 train and found Tony Coughlan in the office, which was looking very bare as a result of his clearing-up operations. Robbie Rossiter came in, very pleased with his experiences. Pat Bond promised to pay in the £250 that would bring our special fund up to £1000, which means we can employ another man. I went to the International Affairs Committee. Woddis, Cox, Page Arnot and R.Palme Dutt were there, the last shortly to visit Belfast and asking me for suggestions on his speech.
September 10 Saturday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool on the early train, and Sean Redmond came to Mount Road for lunch. He does not seem to have used his time in Manchester to much effect. We went out with the papers around Myrtle St., John McClelland’s conception of an “Irish area”, but did little largely thanks to a boxing match which had every public house agog with gangsters.
September 11 Sunday: Much to my surprise today’s activities were quite a success. It rained all morning. We could not find the Catholic pro-Cathedral which Barney Morgan had said was up Copperas Hill – I always recall it being up Brownlee Hill, but I presumed it had been changed owing to the building operations. But the rain cleared off, and Morgan appeared with the platform, followed by Pat Docherty, with a cheery smile for a change, and old Jones, the Liverpool Welshman who worked in the Irish Land Commission before 1919 and became converted to Irish nationalism. Then there was young Jones, who wanted to join the Connolly Association but because there was no branch joined Clann na hEireann. Eva Gormley was there, with her sister, and told me that Malin (Doran) is in Liverpool and that it is he who seems to be inserting the advertisement in Tribune for the “James Larkin Association”.
September 12 Monday (London): I did a little work in the garden, tying up loganberries which are making tremendous vegetative growth, and doing a few other odd jobs. The apple tree I cut down is sprouting and, who knows, may recover, but that Fred Brown’s next door are diseased and he hasn’t cut them down. I met Sean Redmond at midday and we returned to London, where we found Tony Coughlan in the office.
September 13 Tuesday: I worked on the paper all day, but in the evening Tony Coughlan and Sean Redmond came to 6 Cockpit Chambers for a meal.
September 14 Wednesday: I was rather depressed today – the anniversary of my arrival in Liverpool to find Phyllis so desperately ill. I worked on the paper and got quite a bit done. Joe Deighan is suffering severely with his eye and tells me the disease is more serious than he has told anybody. And Toni Curran has gone partially blind in one eye, thanks to a scar on the cornea, the origin of which she cannot guess.
September 15 Thursday: The day was spent on the paper. I learned that last night’s meeting was quite a success. A young man called David Broderick [a member of the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society and former member of the Republican Club at Trinity College, where he studied veterinary science] was there. It was he who drove Sean Redmond to Murlough [for the annual Roger Casement commemoration in Co.Antrim] and nearly had him too late for his speech. And he turns out to be the lad who approached me in the National Library some time ago. Tony Coughlan was with him in Hyde Park last Sunday. He knew Lawless while at college. Lawless called him over and in the presence of his “mott” asked him, “why are you speaking to that fucking cunt Coughlan.” In the meeting he regaled his audience with a pleasing fantasy of myself disappearing down a lavatory “out of history”, or to be more precise presumably “into” history”. He is in the Wolfe Tone Society.
There was a useful enough Standing Committee in the evening. Joe Deighan was there, his eye still very sore. He tells me new spots of infection have appeared. Pat Bond, Chris Sullivan and Peter Mulligan were there.
September 16 Friday (Liverpool): I was busy in the office all day, but left for Liverpool on the 6.30, accompanied by Tony Coughlan who is on his way back to Dublin. Deighan reported that his eyes were on the mend.
September 17 Saturday: I finished the paper in the morning and pottered around the garden for the rest of the day. There is still much overgrown foliage to be cleared away, but slowly I am getting it shipshape.
September 18 Sunday: I went to Manchester in the afternoon only to find Platt Fields covered with helicopters. The Army was having a show. Apparently about five of the summer weeks have been taken off the open-air meetings, thanks to the democrats of the Manchester Labour Party. I had a short talk with Tom Redmond and Michael Crowe.
September 19 Monday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs and had awful trouble with the trains on the way back. John McClelland met me at Birkenhead Central and we had a brief talk.
September 20 Tuesday: I had thought of going away today, and certainly the weather was delightful, but I did not feel up to it, nor do I expect to be tomorrow.
September 21 Wednesday: I was right, I did not feel up to going away. A cold seemed to be coming on, and this neuritis thing was here that I had a year ago. So I stayed in and read this new book about O’Casey. I decided that we must defend O’Casey. I typed some reminiscences of him for Ayling [Ronald Ayling, writer on Sean O’Casey].
September 22 Thursday (Douglas, Isle of Man): At first I thought I was fit to cycle into Wales, then I decided I was not, and took a taxi to the landing stage where I boarded the Snaefell and went to the Isle of Man. Though it was busy it was sunny and warm. I spent a good part of the time talking with one of the shareholders of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company – a Mr. Fell whose great grandfather had been the first Captain of the first Steamship, the ? Isle [first name unclear], in the eighteen forties. He said the Snaefell used ten tons of fuel oil to fire her engines each trip, and this cost £10 a ton. Thus it cost about £400 a trip, and about 200 passengers were needed. In the winter there was a slight loss, but in the summer it was very profitable. There were five ships, all built by Cammell Lairds [in Birkenhead]. There were only two in service during the winter, but all were laid up in the Longshore Dock in rotation. The only loss of life in 186 years had been when the old Ellen Vannin went down in the Crosby Channel. I seem to remember this around 1932. There were about 30 on board. The diver who examined the plates announced that they were as thin as cigarette papers. The samples he took were mysteriously lost and could not be produced at the enquiry!
I mentioned the Princess Victoria and he asked how it could come about that an inexperienced Captain should give a wrong position. I told him I had heard that thanks to the appearance of high Government officials on board there was some merrymaking among the officers and the crew were not properly supervised. He replied, “You should see it here when there’s somebody reported on board – up with the Captain on the bridge!”
He told me that the Isle of Man trade was declining. They could no longer rely on the miners and millgirls, though there was a tradition of cheapness thanks to them. He doubted the statement that only 40% of the population were natives but recognised there was much building and people from Lancashire were retiring there. Meanwhile the people at the table in the lounge discussed motorcars solidly for four hours, telling of the towns they had been to and remarking that they could remember nothing about them.
After reaching Douglas I took a bus to Peel and heard some Gaelic forms of speech. I could not see a hotel that attracted me so returned to Douglas and stayed at the Peveril. It seemed a rather pretentious place with Italian chef and waiters. But the guests were oddly assorted – retired people in faded flannels, fat young Lancashiremen in corduroy jackets and trousers that did not match, and one magnificent specimen of the jeunesse doreé, in a cream trousers loudly checked in black and pink, a crimson jacket, and a scarlet tartan shirt, who flitted in and out of the bar with the inconsequentiality of a red admiral butterfly.
September 23 Friday: It was misty and cooler today. I went to the Government office and bought a paper on the constitutional position, then to the Manx Bureau and bought books from a girl who was not very enthusiastic. Then I went on the light railway to Laxey and to the top of Snaefell where we couldn’t see a thing. The railwaymen seemed Manx, but there is not a marked local accent. One person I was assured was a Manxman seemed to have blended the accent of all four neighbouring coasts. I sent a card to Joe Deighan.
September 24 Saturday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool where the weather was brighter again. I still thought to go into Wales. But I changed my mind. I am still suffering a kind of listlessness which must be a reaction from the Phyllis affair, so thought what I wanted was more probably company, so I rang Cathal.
September 25 Sunday (Dublin): I arrived in Dublin and went up to Cathal’s. A young Clann na hEireann man called Cregan was there. He had been in Glencolmcille. He is hoping to take a job at Pyes. The leader of the Ais Eirighe people came in (Cunningham) and took him away for a drive. Cunningham in some way reminded me of Senator McGill. As we went into town we saw some Fianna boys in Finglas, and I spoke to one of them and told him who I was. He had read my pamphlet on Wolfe Tone and was called Donal Burke of Galway. He introduced us to a very young lad – about fifteen I imagine – who was the son of Seamus Mangan of Swinford that Des Logan was telling me about. They were in Dublin for the Fianna Ard Fheis. When we got back to Finglas after battling with the football crowds, we found Cathal Goulding in the house [probably having been informed by his cousin Cathal MacLiam]. He still cannot see why the British movement cannot make the same onslaught on Lemass that can be done here. This must be because he has no belief that British Labour can ever act in an anti-imperialist direction, and therefore all that remains is one Irish race.
September 26 Monday: I went into town and had lunch with Tony Coughlan. There was no fresh news. I had seen him too recently. We walked around Stephens Green. Later I went to the “Plough and the Stars” at the Abbey, reading the text between each Act and being enabled to judge both play and production without too much reliance on memory. Outside I met Roy Johnston, and we came back to Cathal’s. Who should turn up but Tony Meade. He can see points that Goulding does not appreciate, but for all that is not decisive in his own mind.
September 27 Tuesday: I went into town in mid-morning and met Tony Coughlan. While there is nothing to celebrate except I suppose that I’ve seen it at all, we went for lunch at the Gresham on account of my birthday and demolished plenty of steak and Meursault! [It was his 53rd birthday]. In the evening Cathal went to a Wolfe Tone Society meeting. He has only just been admitted into this somewhat select society, though Tony Coughlan is editing their paper, Tuairisc [an occasional cyclostyled bulletin];I hope he doesn’t neglect the Democrat! It is rather like the IRB and Meade says frankly it is intended to replace the Sinn Fein, Cathal being sceptical. Rather to my surprise all three of them came in bearing bottles of wine “because of the day that is in it”, and the day that was “in it” was as good for a thirst as any other day.
September 28 Wednesday: I spent most of the day in Dublin – merely strolling around and looking at shops. Helga’s crab apple tree has the same disease that led to my cutting down the one at 124 Mount Road (though that is sprouting again) and I went to see if I could find another in a garden supplier’s shop, but without success. I decided to go to Wales, so caught the Munster again at 8 pm. and for the first time was given the corner table usually reserved for ship’s officers, a very marked sign of “most favoured passenger” treatment. It happened that I exchanged greetings with the young Scotchman who used to be on the “Irish Coast” and the purser was standing by. The purser followed me into the dining room and suggested I be given the reserved table as no officers were coming in! I often wondered how people got that table.
September 29 Thursday (Nant Dernol): I took the train to Newtown, Montgomery and cycled through Dolfor, Bwlch-y-Sarnau and St. Harmon to Dernal. I arrived at 7.30. The warden and her family were out, but I contrived to enter the hostel through a back window. I did not see them even at 10 pm.
September 30 Friday: I went into Rhayader for lunch. The Castle Hotel now serves wines with meals and the number of vegetables that go with roast beef is now six – potatoes (roast and boiled) carrots, peas, parsnip, turnips and beans. I know of no place so enterprising. The marks of tourism multiply. The place is alive with “gift shops” while the old businesses supplying shoes and clothes to local people close down one by one. All the cafes and “gift shops” seem to be run by English people. The only people with Welsh accents are the farmers. They too are declining in numbers. The local council which boosts “pony holidays” has built a huge caravan site just outside the town and lets these destroyers plant themselves for the absurdly low figure of £30 a year, with all manner of free conveniences. A chalet has appeared near the confluence of the Dernol river and the Wye. And the stream of traffic is such that rarely are there less than two vehicles in sight on a winding road. The railway bridge across the Wye is knocked down, and fords are being closed to the public. The Warden said she had had a bad year, and attributes this fact to the amount of motor traffic on the road and the transfer of the hostel to South Wales from Birmingham area.
October 1 Saturday (Liverpool): I got up early to find the rain pouring from the sky. Then a strong wind got up and was busy stripping the leaves visibly from a Great Maple in the hedgerow. It cleared by 11 am. but was cold. I cycle to Llanidloes. The cafe where I usually have lunch has also gone on to wine, and the menu is now highly competitive, with a “giant steak” at 14/6, mushroom soup made of mushrooms(!), asparagus and goodness knows what else. Caravan dealers have appeared along the road, bulldozing spaces from the hillsides. I came on to Newtown, and found the train was 5.20. This was only 3.30. So I cycled to Welshpool, arriving at 4.30. The train would leave at 5.43. So I went on to Gobowen, and found I had still an hour to wait, so had a meal and was ready for it at 8 pm. The five-speed gear cable broke, which was a nuisance on a Saturday. But I was at 124 Mount Road at 10 pm. There was a notice from the Post Office availing of the transfer of the telephone to my name to do away with the exchange “Rock Ferry” and give me the Numbers 645. Sic transit!
October 2 Sunday: I had an attack of diarrhoea and did not go out much, but dug up some of the garden. I was displeased at this sickness as I have just been having a holiday and cannot think why I should not be well.
October 3 Monday (London): I was better today – but have a cold. Perhaps that was it. I cleared up at Mount Road and caught the 12.30 to London. Sean Redmond was away from the office, presumably enjoying the fun at Brighton [ie. at the Labour Party conference]. There was a letter from our old supporter Liam Mullally offering his services for the Irish Democrat new job! [financed by the development fund, see above] At Cockpit Chambers there was a letter from R. Palme Dutt saying he did very well in Belfast on the 24th.
I went to the Festival Hall and enjoyed a very satisfying concert – Kodaly, the Schubert A minor played by Annee Fischer, and Dvorak’s 7th symphony in D minor. I was in the first row of the stalls and derived much information from the expressions on the pianist’s face which revealed how she regarded the music. In Villiers Street whom should I meet but Jean Hack and her husband, in London on a week’s holiday. I said I would invite them to lunch. It will enable me to repay the kindness they showed to Phyllis.
Over the past year I have been from time to time adverting to the subject of founding an anti-imperialist poetry in English. I have a feeling I may now be getting somewhere with it, in theory at any rate [This was perhaps the genesis of his long poem, Elephants Against Rome]. But we must see.
At about 11 pm. the woman below called to say that “some fellows” called this morning and said they were friends from Ireland, going back tomorrow morning. They might call tonight. They would not leave a name.
October 4 Tuesday: I did precious little today, as I met Jean Hack and her husband and took them for a good meal at Chez Auguste. In the office at 6 pm. I met Jane Tate who is doing the finances still. The Connolly Association is just surviving. She remarked wistfully that it is well over a year since Seán Dowling died. Apparently Elsie O’Dowling is quite well. She spends much of her time with her many friends and is over seventy – this is surprising, but apparently true. I spoke to Toni Curran about the money, and Gerry Curran about the O’Casey symposium.
October 5 Wednesday: I was in the office most of the day and tried to get in touch with Sean Redmond who is in Brighton, but without much effect. The Central London branch met in the evening, and Joe Deighan was there, his eye better. Chris Sullivan and Pat Hensey and the others were there, with Cooley’s colleague McKenzie giving the talk.
October 6 Thursday: Sean Redmond returned in the late afternoon. He seems to have done useful work at Brighton. I went to West London, unexpectedly, and found Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Cronin and Kellett, all very much at sea and indecisive. I suggested their holding a conference on the wages issue.
October 7 Friday: I was in the office all morning. Sean Redmond struck me as being in a somewhat depressed mood, for what reason I do not know. He went off to lunch on his own and was not much better afterwards. Perhaps he is concerned about his sister, the birth of whose first child seems to be delayed; or perhaps he is “in love” on his own account. Robbie Rossiter at Blackpool noticed the moody streak he has. I think he bottles up his troubles.
When I went into Farrington Road [the “Daily Worker” office] to get cooperation for the West London venture, I spoke to Jack Eighteen’s secretary. She turns out to be the sister of Beryl Styles, Phyllis’s friend, and her first words were to say how sorry she was to hear about Phyllis, how well she had been doing and how clever she was. That explains how some of the London District people knew so soon.
We were at the International Affairs Committee, where Palme Dutt spoke, and met the usual people. Kay Beauchamp is on holiday. Dutt was speaking of Belfast. What impressed him most was to see huge chalkings of “Remember 1690”.
Yesterday I was talking with Ted Ainley. He knew Rose’s parents who were founder members of the YCL in Manchester with him, descended from Russian anarchists, and somewhat wild. Rose’s brother is better than himself. He says of Frank Allaun [Manchester Labour MP] that he has an “almost saintly” contempt for money, because his father amassed a fortune by means of a series of fraudulent bankruptcies.
October 8 Saturday (Liverpool): I came first to Liverpool after learning from Tom Redmond that Fitt has a meeting under the auspices of Rose’s outfit [ie.the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster] at the St. Pancras Town Hall this afternoon. I was puzzled by this as Fitt asked Tom to remind him to get his plane ticket to come to Manchester! When I got to Manchester I found that they had done quite a bit in their chaotic way, so returned to Liverpool for the night.
October 9 Sunday: I went to Manchester, had lunch, and met Eamonn Travers, a likeable young Dublinman very active with the papers, and his sister in All Saints Gardens. Tom Redmond, John McClelland and others came announcing that Fitt was on the train and due in at 3.10 pm. “That means four o’clock,” said I. We started twenty minutes late, Tom Redmond wasted more time in speeches from the chair, and the first speaker from the chemical workers union said he hoped to live to see the day when nations would be no more. The only way, of course, for that to happen is with an atom bomb. Stan Orme made a good speech but seemed uneasy. Tom Coughlin, a “secret communist”, was on the platform. “Would he say anything to embarrass him?” he anxiously asked Tom Redmond who said he wouldn’t. To make matters more complicated the CP had sent a message of support and a £1 note. I suggested that the greetings only be read out when the press had gone, and for the rest of the meeting we were eyeing the Manchester Guardian man who seemed to take an inordinate time to satisfy himself there was not much more to the story.
While I was speaking I noted nods of approval from Orme even on the question of total separation [ie. of Ireland from Britain], but on the question of a united campaign he was immobile. He had said that the “Campaign for Democracy in Ulster” was not competitive with the Connolly Association. In fact both he and Fitt were inclined to draw away from us when the CDU blew its first trumpets, and now they return slightly shamefaced, but still smiling.
Fitt gave a good fist-thumping speech. He reminded me of old Larkin: his heart is in the right place; his head is capacious, but there is not much theory in it. He had taken to calling “Derry” “Londonderry”. I asked him to stump the country with the truth. He replied he had accepted 47 invitations to speak all over Britain and would keep close touch with the Association. I had taken the CWU [Construction Workers Union] speaker to task for abolishing nations so precipitately. He replied after the meeting that he had enjoyed listening to an “old-timer”. Eddy Lenihan was there. “You don’t look a day older.” “No,” said I, “but I’m looking enough older for people to say that to me. What you really mean is ‘My God! Are you still about?’” He told me of a violin Ned Stapleton had got, and for which Lenihan was offered £100. Now he believes the value is around £2000 but has lost track of Stapleton. He hopes he still has it. I left Manchester at 6.30 and reached Mount Road at 10 pm. I could have been at 6 Cockpit Chambers at 9.15! So much for the Railways improvement programme.
October 10 Monday: I went to Manchester and met Tim Coughlin, who said that it was unlikely that we would get mass representation from the provinces at a London Conference.
October 11 Tuesday: I went to buy some things in town. As I came down from Lewis’s basement I saw a little bent old man, very grey, but dapper, and I thought he must be Postlethwaite who used to walk briskly every night at 8 pm. from his house in Parkhill Road, down to the end of Lever Causeway and back. He came in the train to Hamilton Square, but just missing a 64 bus I took an 86 to Singleton Avenue, bought a few things, and then caught the next 64. I sat opposite him and asked if he was Postlethwaite. He was. It must be 33 years since I spoke to him on the boat and he was predicting Armageddon, “after which the millennium will come over the ruins of Europe”. He left Parkhill Rd. six years ago and is in Higher Bebington, presumably still with his sister. He said Donal Magee is in London but “he’s not well at all.”[See Book 1]. He did not recognise me but remembered me well enough when I told him my name.
Then Mrs Stewart came for lunch, and Mrs Phillips to clean the house, and the window cleaners, and Clifton cycles with a new Holdsworth bicycle with ten gears. Mrs Stewart said that the new headmistress is the complete opposite of Phyllis, “but seems to have fallen over backwards to give no offence to those who were devoted to Phyllis.” I took the boat to Dublin.
October 12 Wednesday (Dublin): I took a taxi up to Cathal’s and saw him a moment before he went out. A letter came from Miss Talty’s niece, Mrs Morrissey, of Tarmon East, Co. Clare. But another came from Cathal’s parents saying they would be here tonight on a surprise visit. I saw Tony for lunch. He said Lawless was reported to have said in Hyde Park that “Coughlan and Greaves went to Liverpool one Friday afternoon in the Pullman car. You know how much that costs. That’s how these people live! And moreover we have a photograph of them.” But, alas, there is no afternoon Pullman car – it runs at about 6 pm. We were in the ordinary dining car – but what if we were in the Pullman car? Is it Lawless’ money or our own we would be spending? What exercised us most was whether he had had us tailed. He was recently in Cork (not at our expense) trying to link up the “Poblacht” group of Trotskies with his own.
In the afternoon I met Maire Comerford at the City Library and showed her my classification of O’Malley’s papers. Miss O’Byrne was there and we had quite a chat. Maire Comerford said she has traced references to thirteen meetings of the Second Dail which are not recorded. She is aware that many records have been destroyed. Miss O’Byrne said that Mulcahy burned all the Free State papers in 1922!
I met Tony Coughlan again. By now the rain was tippling down. We saw David Broderick, who is starting a Republican Club in TCD, who wants me to address them next term. He says that Campbell of Clann na hEireann says that if they have too close an association with the Connolly Association then the Association will get all the members! And, he added, “You know, too, that fellow Greaves is a great friend of De Valera, and he never goes to Dublin without visiting Aras an Uachtaran” How stories grow! Once I met De Valera at Aras an Uachtarain!
Then Tony and I went to “Dylan” – a rather wearisome succession of bedroom and drinking scenes á l’Americain, supposed to depict the decline and fall of the “great poet”. I never met Dylan Thomas, so can’t judge, but all my instincts tell me he was largely a charlatan, or at least the charlatan preponderated, while in the case of Behan it was the honest man who counterbalanced the other.
As Cathal’s parents had move in, I stayed with Roy. I had been telling Tony Meade that the Wolfe Tone Society was the IRB rediscovered. Strange to say, George Gilmore has told them the same! Cathal brought my things to Roy’s in his father’s car.
October 13 Thursday (Kilkee): I went to Cathal’s in Roy’s car, because in O’Connell St. Roy remembered that he had forgotten to shave, so borrowed Cathal’s razor. We found Mrs Wilson taking up cups of tea to “Charlie” (Cathal pére), who had fainted while sitting on the lavatory in the middle of the night because (his wife told him) he had been drinking whiskey late at night. It had been foggy and we nearly collided with a herd of young bulls on the North Road. But the fog cleared and I got to Kingsbridge just before it began to pour torrents once more. I went to Limerick and Ennis and by the coastal bus to Kilkee. After booking in at the Stella Maris hotel I cycled towards Tarmon East but was assured by a “Tarmon man myself” that there were “no Talteys in Tarmon”. I returned to Kilkee, as it was dark. A Guard assured me that Miss Talty lived in Querrin. A shopkeeper named Talty said she was living with the Morrisseys in Tarmon – so that is why “the Tarmon man” did not know her. So all that being the case, despite the fact that it would be convenient to get away early in the morning, I decided to leave the visit till tomorrow, and go east by the later bus.
October 14 Friday (Ennis): It was about midday before I found the Morrissey’s house in Tarmon East, but Miss Talty was still in bed. Her nephew told me that her memory had gone and that this greatly depressed her. This I found to be true. She believed Mellows had come to the house in Pine Grove, Victoria Park, Manchester, but was not certain. She thinks he had a fiddle, but then there were other great musicians there then. Certainly Liam Maher was married in Manchester, and his wife predeceased him when they were back in Dublin. So there is no explanation of the postcard from America, or light on the English or German journey. But they gave me a few addresses.
I cycled on to Kilrush, found it a real one-horse town where they only lunch available consisted of kippers (aged variety) and baked beans. I managed to get some eggs and took the bus to Ennis where I stayed in fair comfort at the Queens.
October 15 Saturday (Dublin): I got a bus to Ardrahan, cycled to Kinvara, then decided not to stay the weekend as there were spots of rain, and returned to Gort, taking the train the Athenry. Transport arrangements are desperate. I went into Galway to kill a few hours, had dinner at the Great Southern which I had not been in since the days at Mulrany [In 1951, see Vol.10] then caught the night mail to Dublin, ringing up Mairin Johnston from Athlone. Opposite me was a retired Co. Dublin man whose daughter lives on Innisbofin from which he had come. He tells me the population has dwindled to a few hundred, there is hardly any fishing, and the youth are only waiting to escape by emigration. The parish priest is no good and gives no lead. The older people can speak Irish and do not, the younger people forget it as soon as they have left school. There is only the tourist industry apart from the farms, which are now able to give a good living as there are so few of them.
When I reached Dublin I learned Roy Johnston was away, but would be back tomorrow.
October 16 Sunday: Roy appeared at ten in the morning, jaded and unshaven. He had been at an all-night meeting and was inclined to inveigh against the romanticism of this exercise. He said there was talk of entering the Dail. But Mitchell and Gill were most opposed to that tendency as the voting repeatedly revealed. They had sent Tony Coughlan to Belfast to try and revive the Wolfe Tone Society there, which means he can’t be at the Labour Party Conference.
In the middle of the night just before I went to bed I heard somebody in the outhouse. I went to look and a figure sprang up with a rather lame “boo”. It was Michael O’Leary. “What are you doing here” he asked, having expected to see Mairin. “What are you doing here?” I returned. “I’m looking for food,” said he. So I cooked him a chop I was not going to bother about, and he talked and talked – about the huge Labour Party conference, the hundred candidates to go up at the next election, the “honesty” of Corish who said that if there was a coalition, he would not accept office in it (personally pure despite dirty politics), of how Lawless was present “writing down every word” and even got into the dinner and sat down beside a TD. He expressed the view that his group were “semi-criminal” and that some of them were concerned in the cutting of telephone wires during the telephonists’ strike. His questions in the Dail were not properly answered and he wondered why nobody was caught.
Roy and Mairin were highly amused, but Mairin rang him up and told him not to come in the middle of the night any more. Once Seamus Mangan had arrived with armfuls of stout bottles. Her mother was in, with instructions not to open the door. Mangan thought she was in and would not open. They sat on the step, pouring one bottle after another down them, and fired the empty bottles at the milk bottles on the steps, working from house to house as they smashed one set after another. Roy and Mairin then appeared and chased them away. Apparently the Republicans have quite a few people to whom night is day. Vincent MacEoin delivered a letter at 3 am., getting them up to receive it. They think that what happens at night is unobserved!
Talking of Kiltimagh, Walter Dwyer is dead. Mangan, O’Riordan and the local priest spoke at the funeral. A pity – a rare character, resembling both in physical appearance and activity the noted Sheikh of Araby. His wife, who left him, came back to collect the insurance money, only to find it was disposed of elsewhere. I forget if I noted that Tony Coughlan told me Vincent Crotty was dead [Irish psychiatrist and mental hospital reformer]. He was the man who was let out of jail in the early forties for whom I tried to get a job as a scientist, something which, Tony Coughlan tells me, he remembers favourably all these years.
In the evening I missed the boat train (the late one no longer runs) so met Roy in town. We went up to the Brian Boru to meet Ned Stapleton, to whom I confided Eddie Lenihan’s message that the fiddle he had got for him might be worth a thousand pounds. Stapleton did not think so. It was not German as Lenihan supposed, but English. Still, he would have it valued. It was in somebody else’s possession at the moment. Stapleton thought that the “Phoblacht” crowd in Cork were not capable of producing a political paper, and he suspects that the articles are written for them, possibly by a brother of Cunningham, the Aiseiri man [a nationalist Catholic group in the 1940s]. After we returned to 22 Belgrave Road [Roy Johnston’s address], Cathal arrived in his father’s car with a bottle of wine. He said the mother has gone to England, but the father will be staying in Finglas for about three weeks.
October 17 Monday: I did little enough today – was still troubled with what I thought last year was “writer’s cramp” but now think is rheumatism or the like. I talked with Mairin who complained about Roy’s notorious parsimony. He had a cat to chase birds from his fruit trees to save buying nets. It kept having kittens. But “he won’t have it doctored because he won’t spend the money. Meanwhile I’m broke feeding the families of them. Don’t tell me that man is an economist!”
Roy told me, by the way, that the solicitor McAnally had told him that Lawless came from Fr Tom Fahy’s movement [properly Fr Denis Fahey,1883-1954, who founded the ultra-Catholic Maria Duce movement in 1945] which had virulent anti-communist (almost Fascist) tendencies. His defence at the International Court against the reply that he had refused to accept the Constitution was that under Article 44 it restricted the rights of the Catholic Church! He then said this was explained in “Fiat” (Fr Fahy’s journal, which was Irish for something or other, whereupon the Court dissolved in laughter.)
I met Tony Coughlan for tea and we discussed the paper. He had been in Belfast, as they said, and had met easy-going Jack Bennett and others. He thought we should try and get the Democrat into the Falls Road. He came down to the North Wall with me, and I embarked on the Munster for a crossing which promised to be quite rough once we had cleared the Liffey.
October 18 Tuesday (London): The channel was indeed quite rough, though once we were in Liverpool Bay it moderated. I slept well, nevertheless, but awoke with a swaying sensation one gets after such a journey. It may arise from the continuation of the accommodation one makes to a swaying ground. I had intended to catch the 10.30, but found all my money was Irish, and so had to go to the bank. Then Mrs Phillips came, and the delay necessitated a taxi. I went to the office on arrival in London and found Sean Redmond busily engaged in preparing his accounts. He has turned over £1400 and lost £100. There was a very friendly letter from Cahir Healy [Nationalist MP for Tyrone and Fermanagh in the Stormont Parliament and former Nationalist Party leader] which I interpreted as acceptance of sponsorship of our conference, though he used the word “support”. There was also a letter from Alan Bush [English music composer] asking me to write the “foreword”, as they call a preface these days, to the Workers Music Association song book compiled by the Shieldses [ie. by Ted and Gwen Shields, Connolly Association members in East London]. He also expressed his sympathy over Phyllis. From Bateson’s came a note saying they had raised the question of buying the freehold of Phyllis’s cottage, but the agent thought the owner would not wish to sell as the cottage is right in the middle of the estate. If Wilson starts one of his fool new towns at 1400 feet altitude, he might sell the whole for “comprehensive development!” Central London is doing well, though Joe Deighan has become chairman and I fear he will overshadow and block the young people. But young Kennedy acted as chairman in the park. Peter Mulligan was, as usual, on top of the world, but Gerry Curran is doing very little, though apparently working on the O’Casey. West London is still in the doldrums.
When Sean Redmond and I returned to London after Blackpool we travelled on the 12.30, and the dining car crew were there who were on today. A ship had just arrived from Nigeria, and as British Railways will not give them a proper service from Riverside, the sea passengers had to crowd on the regular service in competition with normal travellers. A very educated-sounding young African in his early twenties sat in the dining car and asked for a drink. Later the conductor discovered he did not want lunch and asked him to vacate the seat at Crewe. He refused. While passengers queued for luncheon seats he sat firm. The crew are Cockneys but for one Dublin man who talked to Sean, and on the whole a cross-grained lot. One of them seized the African’s luggage and took it into another compartment. There were nearly fisticuffs but the African could not retaliate without losing his seat. The last we saw of them were the conductor, the Irish steward and the African walking solemnly across Euston Station with a railway policeman. The luggage had been lost. Out of curiosity I asked what was the upshot. “Oh, it was glorious,” said the man who moved the luggage. “I skipped off just before the train slowed and he accused Paddy who hadn’t spoken to him. So it was agreed it was a case of mistaken identity.” The conductor himself was not too sure of the “glory” of it. “I don’t want a race riot on my train!” he declared. But he nearly had one. Whether the luggage was ever recovered nobody appears to know.
October 19 Wednesday: I did well today, for I got off from scratch four whole pages to the printer. A letter from Pat Devine with his copy said he was off work, through sickness. It seems all one ever hears these days! Not, however, from Peter Mulligan and the other gay young fellows. His vitality is inexhaustible. He has spent £10 on stencilling equipment and now promises circulars of great typographical virtuosity, full of spelling mistakes. But he scatters an infectious good humour. Jane Tate was in the office on the finance. She said that Vivian Morton, TA Jackson’s daughter, has plans for a reissue of his “Ireland Her Own”. I said I would be prepared to revise the later part in the light of new discoveries. And Toni Curran was also there assessing our lack of funds. I sent my Income Tax claims to Brief, and finished the first of what I hope will be a series of anti-imperialist poems.
October 20 Thursday: The paper occupied most of the day. In the afternoon Sean Redmond announced that the water closet on the third floor was blocked with shit, and I had him hunting for caustic soda, but it was early closing day. Barbara Haq blamed the Pan-African Congress – “American stooges”, declared Sean. During the Standing Committee meeting the ball valve choked and floods of odoriferous liquids cascaded down the stairs. I managed to cut off the flow with a sharp brush. A highly unsatisfactory episode.
October 21 Friday: I got some caustic soda – at 5 pm. two tins had been used with only moderate effect. Barbara Haq described the Pan-Africans as a “pain in the neck” – but alas, she wants their votes. I finished the paper, and in the evening went to Hammersmith with Pat Hensey. The West London branch, which I visited last night, is still in doldrums. I am inclined to blame Charlie Cunningham’s economism and wonder if I am not giving it a hand by putting them on to this wage freeze conference. In a number of public houses, the Trotskyist “Irish Militant” had been on sale. It may be coming near the time to launch a counter-blast on them, as we gather they have caused disturbances and made themselves very unpopular.
October 22 Saturday: We applied more caustic soda, with as little effect, but live in hopes. If we could stop the other tenants making water in the thing we could get it cleared. There was a continuous procession in the office: Dorothy Deighan, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Peter Mulligan, Terry Kennedy, then Aine Redmond, and a call from KC [not known whom these initials stand for] to Sean Redmond saying he was coming back into activity. His reason was that as President of the Imperial College Union he had suffered from Trotskies trying to exploit his inactivity to turn him against us. He had decided to refute them in action. I hope he does so. Later John McClelland and Margaret arrived for the EC. Tom Redmond is at Sean’s.
In the evening I went to 16 King Street to the gathering in honour of Gus Hall, the American leader [leader of the CPUSA]. I passed on to Nan Green Vivian Morton’s proposal for a reprint of TA Jackson’s book. I arranged for Dorothy Deighan to go and see Kay Beauchamp, and for discussions with Tom Durkin who was there. I spoke with Marian Ramelson who is looking more frail but has written her book about the suffrage movement and is planning another. I had a revealing conversation. She had been to Ireland in 1948 and was appalled by the priests and shrines. “There’s Protestant England talking,” said I. But of course not, it was a backward country, and that was why. I said the movement was in better shape there than here. “That’s national chauvinism.” “It’s not national chauvinism for you to say it is backward and hopeless, though”. Nan Green laughed. “At every meeting I ever addressed on Spain, I look for the little old man who’s going to ask if I don’t agree that everything that ever went wrong in Spain was due to the Catholic Church.” “But I’m not like that,” Marian protested. But she had unwittingly explained why there was never any stand on the Irish question in Leeds, and why when I went there years ago she remarked, “The boys I required are those who stand up against all that in Dublin.” She meant the Catholic Church! Her father was old Jessop – a good Nottingham family with all the ingrained prejudices of Yorkshiremen.
I also spoke to Andrew Rothstein. He asked me about the Casement article in Labour Monthly. Seemingly it was sent via Maurice Richardson, who still remains friendly with Palme Dutt. The writer is a rather curious fellow. I challenged his assertion that Casement came to stop the Rising, quoting Monteith. Andrew, who has only the vaguest notion of Irish affairs, for all his vast scholarship, said he thought Casement a lone wolf, a rather odd character, and that he was not really surprised at the homosexuality. I replied that the diaries had been proved to be forged. He knew nothing about this. It is really quite astonishing.
Ted Ainley was there – looking terriby old. He can’t be well. But old Bob Stewart looked the same as ever, at 89! Gus Hall is a disarming speaker, a Finn by birth but a protegé of John Williamson in Ohio. He was very relaxed and accomplished in his compliments and proved that the Americans have the best manners of any nation! He was an enormous success and the room rang with “He’s a jolly good fellow”. He did not know Tom Cox and seemed to imply that he was never with them. And who should turn up but the same Keith Cavanagh, practically the youngest person there. It poured rain.
Incidentally Tom Durkin [Irish activist in the CPGB, but not the Connolly Association] revealed his limitations clearly in commenting on the revival of the movement in Ireland. It was due to the spread of industrialisation and the growth of foreign investments – while these are of course important factors, this tradesman from a county town could not identify himself with the farmers, who this week held the biggest demonstration this generation has seen.
October 23 Sunday: The weather has turned cold. I put my watch on instead of back, and so got up at 6.25 Greenwich mean time! However I remained up and cleaned up the flat. The Executive Council meeting was held – quite a good attendance, with Sean Redmond, Joe Deighan, Peter Mulligan, Chris Sullivan, John McClelland, Pat Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Tom Redmond, Olivia MacMahon, Michael Crowe, Pat Hensey and Gerry Curran.
October 24 Monday (Liverpool): I went into the office first, saw Sean Redmond, and then went to Ripley to read the proofs of the paper. Then I went via Crewe to Liverpool and went over to 124 Mount Road.
October 25 Tuesday: I telephoned Elsie Greaves in the morning and she said it would be convenient to go to Pennerley today, so off we set in her car. We lunched at the Wynnstay Arms in Oswestry and reached the cottage at about 3 pm. I brought the carpets out of the cottage, and stepped in the mud. Elsie was puffing and panting with the exertion of coming up the hill jumping through the marsh. I met Mr Pugh, who was the man I had seen last time I was up here. “Are you moving out?” he asked, with a countryman’s grasp of essentials. I left Phyllis’s water containers and brought away the “lie-low” that Mrs Stewart wants to borrow. The weather was brilliantly sunny and altogether delightful, and we reached Mount Road again at 6.30 pm.
October 26 Wednesday: I ordered the medical books for the Women’s Hospital from Lewis’s (Gower St.). In the Liverpool Lewis’s I met Anthea and her husband. At 5 pm. Elsie Greaves came down for a cup of coffee bringing the pictures of the wedding. Today was a horror, teeming rain from dawn till dusk and damned cold.
October 27 Thursday (London): The weather had turned very cold. The ground was too wet to be walked. I cleaned up essentials and took the midday train to London. In the evening I went to West London. Joe Deighan was speaking, and Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey and one or two more were there – not a good attendance.
October 28 Friday: I got quite a bit done, but hardly scratched the surface of what is needed! Then in the evening I went to Hammersmith with Sean Redmond. We did badly.
October 29 Saturday: At midday the office was a scene of great activity. Gerry Curran came to discuss the draft of his paper on O’Casey, which I persuaded him to re-write, not without having to listen to some moaning and groaning! Those who came in included Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Kieran Crilly, Peter Mulligan and Dorothy Deighan.
October 30 Sunday: I was in the office for a while in the morning, then went to the park. Bobby Rossiter was there but suffered from a cold. Joe Deighan spoke, and very effectively too, but while he was concluding, the one-time green-costumed commissionaire who used to heckle and oppose in the fifties and then grew cynical, was descried speaking to Peter Mulligan. He came over to me, all maudlin and full of virtue. He was getting Peter a flat and would give him a bed, a table, a television set very cheap, and heaven knows what else. His wife and five year old child had just died but he had buried them in Wexford, thanks be to God. He was always anxious to do anybody a good turn, and nobody more than ourselves. Mary, the Belfast woman who has a slightly romantic republican tinge, drew my attention to his activities first, asserting he was a “copper’s tout”. Then we learned he had accosted Dorothy Deighan and Jane Tate in the public house last night and swore he had this flat for nobody but a CA member.
I wondered what it was. An attempt to secure membership and get names? Or a device to unload stolen furniture on an innocent? Or as Mary was sure, to get a leading Connolly Association man into a “bugged” flat! At first I inclined to the first, but suspicion of the second is growing on me! I advised Peter to keep away.
But then we saw Fitzy [Connolly Association member John Fitzgerald] with a half-inch stubbly grey beard. He had been ill. The doctor had told him to grow the grey beard, then he would look old, and then people would not ask him to do so much for the movement. The only service he could possibly do it would be to keep his tongue still. No doubt the doctor knew this and probably said mentally, “grow the beard and get out of my surgery.” Bobby Heatley was also there, in his thirties now, I suppose, and inclined to look it, fatter now, but he could not possibly get lazier. A pity too, as he has a bag of brains. In the evening I went with Peter Mulligan to Camden Town.
October 31 Monday: All seems set for a quite successful O’Casey Symposium on the 11th. We heard from Gerry Raffles today, and that may mean Joan Littlewood is coming. Roy Johnston was supposed to be over today, but there was no sign of him. There was much work in the office all day. Indeed perhaps we have too much on. In the late afternoon Charlie Cunningham and Peter Mulligan came in. Both Sean Redmond and I had colds today, his somewhat the worse of the two. But in the evening there was rain, a possible indication that the cold spell may end.
November 1 Tuesday: I was again busy all day and hope gradually to pull things round – the greatest problem being the CA finance, with some £60 Income Tax and a good sum of insurance owing – to say nothing of the new tax. Sean Redmond sometimes strikes me as curiously immobile in face of such difficulties. He spent all afternoon writing seven large pages of EC minutes. He would do this if the walls were crumbling. It must be the office worker’s training. Yet I am sure he is very worried about it.
A young student later came in at midday, and while he was there Clifford (“creeping Jesus”, as Andrews calls him) appeared. Then the actor asked me what I recalled of 1916 – seeing that I’d be six or seven at least at the time! [He was in fact three years old] So bang go the final illusions! However that may be, I see now in Clifford that inevitable physical degeneration which seems to afflict Trotskyites.
November 2 Wednesday: At about midday who should drop in but Derry Kelleher, formerly of South London, with whom we had lunch in Schmidts. He brought a message from David Broderick, repeating his request that I should speak at TCD, but suggesting December 4. I said it was too soon but said I would consider March. I then wrote to Cathal and asked if they thought this was wise and pointed out that I would need more than a verbal message. From Kelleher I realised where Roy Johnston drew one of the strands of his eclectic web. Kelleher, who is working for Goulding’s Fertilisers after being in Southampton, said, “when an Irishman goes home he is treated like a second class citizen.” Roy had declared as a great discovery that this was now “realised” – a sign of revolutionary progress. Of course what really happens is that he goes from a region of low competition back into a region of harsh competition, but they are all for “the responsibility of the people at home for the exiles”. I suggested that first they tell the exiles how they can look after themselves, and secondly that they take measures to see there are no more. This would probably do them for now. And Sean Redmond added for good measure that there were enough Marian agencies and what not taking “responsibility” for people. Still, it was a pleasant visitor, with plenty of news of scientific goings on.
In the evening I spoke at Central London. Sean Redmond went home with influenza.
November 3 Thursday: In the morning came a telephone message from Kevin Casey, saying that he would be in London on the 11th and would like to speak at the O’Casey meeting. This was very good. Rose had not come in on the Conference of 21st January, so I wrote suggesting that he might not have had our invitations and saying that we wanted the CDU with us. They have launched a duplicated bulletin.
Again Sean Redmond went home, this time at midday. So that is what must have made him so listless and depressed at the beginning of the week. He was pleased today however, as Pat Bond donated the CA with £200 in sprawling tenners to pay the debts. Gerry Curran’s paper on O’Casey is very poor, so that I look like having to re-write it, a bloody nuisance. At West London Jim Argue was present. He sees much of Melly, the CDU man, who was rather antagonistic to us. But since I gave him a “mention” this month he is “very pleased”, much to the witty Argue’s amusement. Jim Argue has not been at a meeting for some time. He tells me he sees much of Seán Hurley whose main interests are music, and falling off scaffolding which he is still at. And of all people Eamon MacLaughlin stirred his stumps and came, followed afterwards by Barbara. And Michael Keane is back from his travels. He found that plastering was injuring his eyes, so that he has had to turn to joinery. He thought that while there was a tendency for young Irishmen to look for work without insurance cover, if we told them not to “they would obey” as he had persuaded one of them only this morning.
November 4 Friday: Sean came in bravely in the morning but left after a few minutes saying he “felt lousy”. A letter came from Rose asking for his name to be added to the list of sponsors – this had crossed mine. We guessed he had seen the list on the Democrat and decided he could not afford to stay out. In the evening I was in Camden Town with Joe Deighan.
November 5 Saturday: Sean did not show up so he must be worse. I managed to get done what was needful. But our sales were ruined by lashing rain. Des Logan was with me, but we returned to 6 Cockpit Chambers and had a drink. He is still busy studying, I don’t know why. He told me that Eamon MacLaughlin was talking about “returning to politics” and indeed he accepted an invitation to speak again in West London on Thursday, much to the surprise of Pat Hensey and Charlie Cunningham. Peter Mulligan did not show up. Possibly he is ill. Pat Bond was otherwise engaged – so on the whole this was a disastrous night.
November 6 Sunday: Again Sean Redmond was away. But we had a useful meeting on the subject of the paper, with Joe Deighan, Chris Sullivan, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Bobbie Rossiter and Seamus Treacy, an old schoolfellow of Deighan’s and a very intelligent man. When I asked him for his opinions he replied simply, “I don’t know enough about it.” It takes intelligence to know that! On the whole the feeling is good and the members want progress. But Pat Hensey and Charlie Cunningham are not strong in political thinking. Hensey particularly is very mechanical. Chris Sullivan said that Bobby Heatley had written a play a hundred typescript pages long, and that he had Fitzy in his room till 3 am. this morning, intoning one of the parts. “He ought to be writing articles for the Democrat, not plays for his own amusement, ” said Bobby Rossiter. But I said I thought if it was a success it would benefit us, and if it was a failure it would educate Heatley. But Rossiter would not have this at all. He told of the madwoman they have got in South London. She says Karl Marx should be canonised and called Saint Marx, and that Rossiter is cruel and wicked to eat steak when God really intended us to eat grass!
At 5 pm. Charlie Cunningham rang up in great excitement. Lawless’s paper “The Irish Militant” had an attack on Peter Mulligan saying he was a full-time official of the CA, and that he had “beaten up” two sixteen-year-olds while selling the Irish Democrat at a football match. They said they would “not be responsible” if the boys’ friends wrought vengeance on Peter who would be “sent back to Moscow in a brownpaper parcel”. He asked if this was libel, and I said I thought it was gross libel, indeed if criminal libel was still in it, it would be that. He was going to rush round with the paper, but I told him it would wait.
I was out in Holloway with Joe Deighan. The “Archway” lounge was crowded with well-dressed Irish people, mostly in their twenties and thirties. Four boys whom I would judge to be about 19, were fantastically dressed and bellowing three words, “Bread and margarine” (which they pronounced as if it were marjarine) into four microphones, and playing megaphonic guitars with great verve and gusto. I recall how Phyllis and I used to entertain when we were that age, the sheer high spirits of youth, its sheer energy, producing the effects. Joe Deighan swore they were Irish – despite the softened “g” – and said “that’s the younger generation”. There was a cynical cosmopolitan atmosphere. He said that the barman had spoken of the traditional – or more traditional – music they had previously to him last week. “We’re getting rid of all that old shit. We’re going up to date. We’ve got a group that will pack this bar.” And it did.
Deighan told me how a traveller in brushes came into his shop, a Wicklow man called O’Keeffe, and saw “Inniu” [an Irish language weekly paper] lying there. He disclosed that he was a brother-in-law of Joseph McCrystal, and that he hid the men who operated the Arborfield Raid at his house in North London – Highgate, I think [ie. the raid by the IRA on Arborfield Barracks to obtain weapons for the 1956-61 “Border campaign”]. They wanted to bring the guns and dump them in the cellar, but he declined to oblige. McCrystal, who is a barrister, he said, is disillusioned now and out of politics. It was he who launched the “Liam Mellows line” in the IRA which led to a split. Now they have swung far to the left of him, and he is out of it. He is lecturing in the National University and is a respectable citizen, reconciled to his former enemies. The brother-in-law says he is “brilliantly intelligent”, whatever that is, but that as person he prefers the brothers who are free from his kind of instability.
November 7 Monday: In the morning I went to see Stan Davidson at Southall and had quite a useful little talk with him. He would be about 40 I imagine, but still feels embarrassed at expressing an opinion that might not be “right”, and thus hesitates to talk about ordinary things in ordinary language. He gave me a very good impression.
When I got back to King’s Cross I found Sean Redmond was back, though not too fit, and soon Peter Mulligan came in coughing and spluttering. I adverted to the “Militant” and its libel.
“Pooh,” said he, “I’ll do nothing about that.”
“You don’t mean to say you did beat them up?”
“Of course I did”
“Were they badly hurt?” asked Sean.
“I don’t think so – I knocked one of them down and kicked him in the face. No. I don’t think you could say he’d be badly hurt.”
Then it transpired that they had got on two sides of him, when Jim Kieran was with him, and tried to block his way every time he tried to sell a paper. Finally one of them deliberately stood right in front of him. So, sure he could not say “excuse me” and pass without lowering himself, he “hit him a clatter” and knocked him out. Then the other came his arms waving like a windmill, so he knocked him out as well. “Yes,” he remarked, “Jim Kelly was quite surprised to see it.”
We could hardly believe our ears – from the mild, cheery, even-tempered Peter, nobody could offend – and laughed till our sides ached. In the evening we saw Robbie Rossiter, Chris Sullivan, and Elsie O’Dowling. Both Rossiter and Chris Sullivan were pleased and vastly amused with Peter’s performance. We saw the “Militant” and noted that its tone was milder than Charlie Cunningham had indicated. It was headed, “A blow for Socialism”, but admitted that the boys were interfering with Peter. Bobbie Rossiter said that Seamus Treacy does not get on with Pat Bond, who “wants to be Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and all else”, whereas Treacy merely wants to be chairman. But for Rossiter’s stopping him he was going to propose the madwoman for chairman! – Treacy is chairman himself at the moment, and Bond has so long carried everything on his shoulders that he forgets he has a capable chairman. Treacy is remarkable in that he used to be an “alcoholic” but cured himself.
November 8 Tuesday (Liverpool): I called in to the office for a few minutes, and then went to Birmingham. I called at Key Books but nobody was there. They are poked up an alleyway near Digbeth police station. I also went to Sparkbrook and found a shop that might stock the Irish Democrat. It displays the Irish Press. Birmingham is even more hideous than before, the architecture which Elsie O’Dowling calls “fascist” predominating everywhere, and all walking having to be done by a succession of tunnels, so that there is no longer a sense of the one-ness of the City. That has been given over entirely to the motor vehicles. There were quite a few young people hanging about in working clothes, but none of them appeared to be Irish.
Before I left I had an unpleasant surprise, a letter from Bateson, enclosing a further letter from the owner of the cottage saying that he would only transfer the lease if I undertook to connect the water when it was available, and also the electricity, at my own expense. The water he gave no estimate of, but the electricity involves a capital payment of £80 and an annual guarantee of £20 consumption – a vast figure, as much as I used at Cockpit Chambers with heating included. This is not likely to happen for eighteen months, so I wondered whether to agree, to get a year, then to give the place up. It all involves decisions on future policy that I need some peace to think out.
I rang Mrs Stewart. She had been in Scotland, and “felt a new woman”, now completely well “after this terrible year when misfortunes seemed to crowd in”. She had been to the places she used to visit with Phyllis, and “enjoyed the memory of past happiness”. The cottage they used to stay at has been brought by retired people who have incorporated it into the structure of a prefabricated house of extreme luxury. Soon these things will spoil the entire length of Loch Stewart. I was, indeed, surprised that they had got so far.
November 9 Wednesday: I went to town to collect some Veldtschoen [tough leather shoes] I had ordered, and met Joe Rawlings in the bus on Church Road. He referred to an incident I have no recollection of. Did I remember FC Moore? I did of course. Well, he used to lean his head on his hands during meetings and anybody would think he was asleep. Apparently one of my youthful gesticulations knocked his hand from under his chin and gave him a great surprise. Rawlings was still laughing over this affair thirty years and more! [See Vols. 1 and 2 – Ed.]. He said he was 72 years old.
In the evening I met John McClelland and we had a talk in a public house in Oxton Road. He says Tom Redmond is no use unless somebody is driving him. Michael Crowe says he has “lost interest”. But things are not going badly in Liverpool.
November 10 Thursday (London): I did some more clearing up in the garden, and then took the “lie-low” from the cottage to Mrs Stewart who met me at Lime Street. She had got her legacy and proposed to take Phyllis’s advice and go for a holiday in Greece next year. I told her about the cottage and she promised to try to find out what the other tenants are doing. She thinks Phyllis intended merely to set up a standpipe at the gate.
I took the 4.30 to London and went to West London, where I saw Pat Hensey and Eamon McLaughlin walking disconsolately away from the meeting room. Only they had turned up. I asked if the notices had gone out on time. They had not. We went for a drink and were soon joined by Charlie Cunningham who had been at the London Trades Council, and Seán Gould.
November 11 Friday: Quite early Kevin Casey was in touch, but not Fitzgerald [Jim Fitzgerald, Dublin actor and producer]. We were frantically ringing Roy Johnston all morning, without result. Ronald Ayling arrived at about 4 pm. and we arranged to meet Casey for a meal at Schmidt’s. Sean Redmond came too. Casey was not acquainted with Fitzgerald and wanted him to produce a play of his own. Sean speculated as to what professional sideline Fitzgerald was up to. Ayling was going to see Mrs O’Casey! Ayling and Casey were not in entire agreement about O’Casey and nobody could get a word in edgeways as they argued the toss. They talked about Butler and here they were in agreement but thought Krause’s [editor of Sean O’Casey’s letters] making a reply in the Texan Quarterly or some such periodical, less satisfactory than would have been a letter to the Evening Press where McCann would have seen it was published. Sean Redmond went to get the literature while I walked to the Conway Hall with the others. At about 8.10 pm. Gerry Curran arrived. At 8.15 in came Fitzgerald whom I thought bore a curious resemblance to somebody I had seen before. The attendance was not good; only about 80 people turned up. Unfortunately the event clashed with others. Gerry Curran read his paper rather woodenly – not surprisingly since I had had to rewrite it to bring out the real issues clearly enough. Ayling then followed with an interesting defence of O’Casey’s later plays and autobiographies. Kevin Casey sounded the critical note, and then Fitzgerald lifted his loud trumpet and blasted O’Casey’s reputation as a politician right out of the hall. He recalled that when he and other young people were fighting the obscurantism which covered Ireland for over twenty years, O’Casey gave no help. The struggle in Ireland might not exist. When he said there were now signs of a more open and civilised society, an Englishman with white face and longish hair shouted “Nonsense”. “How then do you account for a known Communist like myself becoming director of Telefis Eireann?” (“Are you really a Communist?” asked Kevin Casey afterwards. “As much as any dramatic director can be,” was the reply.) McKay spoke from the floor in good secularist vein. “Rubbish,” shouted Fitzgerald from the platform when he defended O’Casey’s anti-Catholicism. A few more spoke, mostly favourably, and there were many imperialistic smirks on English faces. But all enjoyed it, though the critical political issue of the whole thing, which is the attitude to the Free State, was never brought out.
So we all went to the “Enterprise”, the speakers, Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham, Robbie Rossiter, Elsie O’Dowling, but surprisingly enough not Paddy Clancy who usually comes to these things.
November 12 Saturday: The weather seems never to stop raining, though mercifully it seems to be getting too late for a really long savage winter; the old type with the main bite after Christmas perhaps. Roland Ayling came in at 3.30 and Jim Fitzgerald at 4 pm. After a discussion we felt progress had been made. Last night I invited the three of them to the office. To Fitzgerald I said, “This man is going to write the official biography of O’Casey whether we like it or not. We must collaborate with him.” “I’m on,” said Fitzgerald and he was. I suggested that perhaps Conor Cruise O’Brien might be persuaded to do an article on O’Casey’s politics, and then get this work done that Ayling might find it difficult to do through lack of intimacy with the Irish scene of a generation ago. He is not more than 30. Jim Fitzgerald is 37. Fitzgerald said he hoped to meet O’Brien shortly and would put it to him. “I think we brought Ayling round a bit,” said he as we went to Schmidts. There we had a meal and talked more freely. He mentioned the Promethean Society [a student Marxist society at Trinity College in the late 1940s of which Roy Johnston had been a member] and my lectures there in 1947 and meeting me there – it was then I realised to whom he has the strange resemblance. It was himself! But he was only eighteen then, and I do not recall him saying anything. He is still in touch with Paul O’Higgins but despises Justin Keating who excuses himself with philistine frankness when asked to do anything that would “injure his career”. He asked where Dick Stringer had gone. I didn’t know. But I told him about George Fairbrother. He is arranging a “teach in” on the subject of the Abbey. At a performance a few days ago there were only 17 people in the auditorium. This is the dead hand of the Establishment, with Ernest Blythe [Abbey Theatre director, former Cumann na nGael Government Minister] as the chief manipulator.
He told me about receiving an invitation to join the board of the “New Abbey” and wondered what was the trick. After some thought he declined. David Thornley (“that little opportunist”) was also invited. He rang up Jim Fitzgerald for advice. “Don’t accept.” But Thornley wanted another opinion [David Thornley, TCD academic historian, later a Labour TD]. Fitzgerald put him on to Todd Andrews. He also advised him to decline. But he accepted. Four days later the Government distributed bonus shares to the older shareholders which exactly balanced the votes of the new men. This was the trick. And now Blythe is talking of resigning – but nobody knows if he will. Jim Fitzgerald had indeed been at other business – he had been to see Brook (I think his name is thus) to secure the rights for a realistic play in his repertory. But he declined to assist. But Fitzgerald did not return empty handed as he had a good meal on me, and his fee from the Democrat. When he had gone I went home for a coat (rain again!) and then went out to Hammersmith to meet Charlie Cunningham. Jim Fitzgerald told me that the “egregious Mr Pat O’Neill” is living quietly in Cork City!
November 13 Sunday: I went to Hyde Park in the afternoon. Peter Mulligan was speaking till it began to rain again. Joe Deighan, Pat Hensey and Jim Kelly were there, the last showing more promise than anybody since Peter Mulligan came along. And Dorothy Deighan was there with the books. In the evening I went to Kentish Town with Sean Redmond. We decided to postpone the conference to February. Fitt agreed.
November 14 Monday: A letter from Michael O’Riordan asked me to do a school in Dublin on 25th February! But as the Conway Hall is booked for that day, we may meet on the 18th. So I wired Fitt over that date. Last Thursday Sean Redmond was at the Civil Liberties [National Council for Civil Liberties executive] and who should arrive but MacCartney [Jim McCartney, law lecturer at Queen’s University]. He was expressing fears that some villains from Dublin were starting a Civil Liberties which was not a branch of the British one, and Sean was speculating as to who it was. I told him that I had tried to put the Dublin Republicans up to setting up an independent one and had tackled Cathal Goulding about it [this was the initiative which led to the foundation of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association the following January]. Tonight I rang Jack Bennett to get Fitt’s address. “We’ve a big Civil Liberties meeting coming off. Of course a certain man wants it to be a branch of London, and we have to be careful about the link with Dublin if we want the Trade Unions. So we’ll have a separate Six-County one.” So that was good.
Then hardly had I rung off when another voice came on. It was Val Deegan of all people, promising a donation to the Irish Democrat and really wanting to find out the status of a man who published “Platform” and who says he will now close it down. He talked as if he was a great communist, but the CP had told me he was out of everything. Still, I will find out and will use my own judgement as to what I tell him. He mimicked Colm Power who had called on his mother and said, “Yes – Val’s married, but-there-are-no-wedding photographs, or pictures – on – the – mantelpiece.” Deegan always seemed the quicker, wittier and brighter, but I learned from experience that really he was all on the surface. He had no capacity for conceptual thought and worked from emotion. This, Colm Power did not do.
November 15 Tuesday: I learned from Sean Redmond that Val Deegan had been mentioned in the National Press last week as shopsteward in a bus garage where 200 conductors had decided to withdraw political levy from the Labour Party. For some reason he had not drawn my attention to it. I spent most of the day on the paper.
November 16 Wednesday: The meeting took place at Hammersmith Town Hall, with Hostettler, Cooley, John Gould as speakers. Colm Power was there, as well as Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey and some from Central London. Though it was not well attended – about 26 – it was generally thought worthwhile. I had spent most of the day on the paper.
November 17 Thursday: Again I worked on the paper, but in the evening went to West London to try and end the indecisiveness of Charlie Cunningham and Pat Hensey.
November 18 Friday: More on the paper. I drafted a reply to Captain O’Neill’s letter but was not entirely satisfied by it [Northern Ireland Premier Terence O’Neill had written to Sean Redmond, Connolly Association General Secretary, criticizing the policy line of the Association vis-à-vis the Stormont regime]. In the evening I accompanied Sean Redmond to Camden Town.
November 19 Saturday: On Thursday coming up Grays Inn Road I noticed that Melker’s bookshop was vacant and to let. We telephoned the agents who met us and we looked at the “upper part” – 1100 square feet at £l a square foot. We discussed it at the Standing Committee and decided to go forward. Already I had told Barbara Haq that the Reynolds property was a folly, as the material alone for reconversion cost £750. She was relieved at our giving her a way out. The Vietnam woman, Petra Sachsenennengberg (if I have it right) was also relieved. So yesterday I phoned our application and today came a request for three referees. It seems that Melker did not pay his rent. Worse than that, say the agents, “somebody “stripped the lead off the roof before he disappeared. So this time they will be more careful.
The usual people came in, Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly, Dorothy Deighan and so on. I was with Charlie in the evening. He told me that Jim Argue spends much of his time at Sean Hurley’s listening to “folk song” (as they call it) and that he is closely associated with Melly and Donoghue of the CDU.
November 20 Sunday: The Central London branch had a committee meeting. But they have no ideas. All is routine. And Peter Mulligan is full of indignation at the “bad organisation” of the office and can’t see that nothing can be done without money. He thinks all that is needed is “enthusiasm”. Sean Redmond has in this connection still traces of the irresponsibility of youth and can allow people to dump things all over the place without seeing that it is his business to know what is what and to supervise.
November 21 Monday (Liverpool): I was in the office until about 4.30 pm. clearing things up, and then caught the 5 pm. to Liverpool. On yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph there was an account of raids made by Rhodesian agents on the offices of Amnesty, the Anti-Apartheid and the Zapu upstairs. Sean Redmond recalled one of those which took place in February. The story states that an agent who posed as a supporter had stolen headed notepaper and used it to spread damaging propaganda in Africa. Sean was unaware of this. But he thinks the Pan-African Congress, also upstairs, are an American stooge outfit.
John McClelland telephoned me to confirm tomorrow’s meeting with the MCF in Birkenhead.
November 22 Tuesday: I mostly pottered about in the day. In the evening I rang McClelland asking confirmation of the MCF venue. He said it was “Vernon St.” between “Birkenhead Town Hall and the river”. I had never heard of it, but presumed it was on the far side of Chester St., in an area I was never in. I went down there; could find nothing; called in the police station and was told there was no such place. Finally I found it by chance on the side of the Town Hall awayfrom the river, in Duncan Street! McCauley was in the chair – and inclined to be garrulous, but not too bad. A Councillor Rimer was there who said she remembered me in Coulthard’s days (1940) but had not recognised me when I arrived – in those days I “had a shock of black hair”! And McCauley recalled “dodging bombs in Victoria Park” with me at the same time. I learned afterwards that McClelland had told Roose-Williams the wrong street too, and he and a friend had lost their way. But a man was there who recalled the meeting in Trafalgar Square, “about those two lads who shot a policeman”.
November 23 Wednesday: Once again my intention of going to Salop was foiled by an incipient cold. So I spent another day puttering – there is plenty to do.
November 24 Thursday (London): I did some more in the garden, then took the 4.30 to London, and went straight out to West London. Pat Hensey and Charlie Cunningham were there, and Peter Mulligan the speaker without an audience. There is no doubt something drastic needs to be done there.
November 25 Friday: I learned from Sean Redmond that the woman from the “League for Democracy in Greece” next door had called. She had heard from Seifert that we were bidding for 289 and she had tried to get it herself. She had been refused and the reason was that the owner of 289 had lost her husband, or his wife, on the Lakonea, and wanted no truck or association with Greece. That explanation I ventured to doubt. But in any case it would hardly behove us to sublet to them! Then another piece of news was that that egregious scamp Dominic Behan had pushed a glass into a barman’s face for not serving him with drink at 11 pm. and may do time for it. We all hope so. Sean Redmond, Joe Deighan and I went to Camden Town/Holloway and did well.
November 26 Saturday: On the telephone from Michael Crowe I heard about O’Shaughnessy’s CDU meeting in Manchester last night. He thought there might be 100 there. Many of them were contractors, very opposed to the Association, and displeased by Fitt’s open socialist speech. Rose and Mrs McCluskey presented the case for Captain O’Neill’s making a deal with the middle-class Catholics at the expense of the working class ones. This is of course the gravamen of his letter to us, and the reason why his secretary today sent us a sweet sweet acknowledgment of our reply. Tom Redmond was there and spoke from the floor. Then Michael Crowe and two others went to see them at a club whither they had repaired, and they would not let Eamonn Travers in because he wore no tie. The others protested, and finally the “bouncer” came and struck one on the cheek. A policeman was fetched by OIivia McMahon, but in the end they all went away. It is to be hoped that that silly young Tom Redmond, who can’t tear himself away from Rose or any other MP, has learned sense.
November 27 Sunday: We held a General Purposes Committee in the morning. Neither Gerry Curran nor Toni Curran came, nor Robbie Rossiter. But the others were there, and the discussion was useful. It concerned partly the premises, of course, but also touched on the poor sales in West London. Colm Power, Des Logan and Jim Argue are all at evening classes. And the others have not great capability. Eamon MacLaughlin is over-eating and over-boozing – then oversleeping!
November 28 Monday: Things went on as usual in the office. The sales appear to have been good. Toni Curran rang up apologising for not letting us know she could not be present yesterday, but adding the significant remark, “I did not get the cooperation I had hoped for.” Presumably Gerry Curran was in one of his depressed moods.
November 29 Tuesday: I had written to Joan Grey, who got Phyllis her cottage – a friend of Peggy Evans, it seems – to ask if any of her friends wanted the cottage on the agent’s terms. I had her reply today. She says that Miss Merry who has a cottage nearby has declined to accept the electricity. This strengthens things, so I may make a compromise offer, to connect the water (which I want) but to leave the other matter in abeyance. However, I have not yet written to Bateson.
The agents for our new premises told us verbally that our financial references have proved satisfactory and that subject to the owner’s agreement a draft lease would shortly be sent to us. So that is a step forward.
There was an amusing instance of the impetuous Mr Mulligan tripping himself up. Apparently in settling a bill for 14/- for an advertisement in the Morning Star, he enclosed the copy of a leaflet he had been handing out with the papers. This advertised a talk on Irish songs to be given with tape recorder in the office tomorrow, the Shields giving the lecture. He came in at midday. The Morning Star had printed the whole thing as an advertisement making 19 lines at 2/6 a line. Peter had telephoned to protest. “I banged the table at them,” he declared metaphorically. So they gave it him for half price. Now the office will only hold about a dozen people, and there are only that many chairs. And we have visitors of the entire “pop-world” of London descending on us. I nobly offered to stay away to make room for one more! “They printed the whole bloody thing!” Peter kept repeating. Later we met Posner (the Morning Staradvert man) by accident and explained that Peter Mulligan was a “young fellow” (Sean Redmond was thirty on Saturday and is now outside the category), whereupon he said. “That’s why I offered to split the difference. It was my ‘young fellow’ who thought it was an advert and put it in.”
Another amusing development is that Surrey YCL who have the MacPeakes [the Irish musical group] this week, had advertised Dominic Behan, but now have dropped him out of the programme. This Sean Redmond had from his brother Brendan, now working in the Islington Public Library and turning out quite a good lad, if somewhat anglicised.
Gerry Curran agreed to address the Twickenham Labour Party Young Socialists for us. So perhaps he is now reviving.
November 30 Wednesday: Already by 7.30 there were arrivals for Peter Mulligan’s meeting. One was the “Hon. Sec.” of the Workers Music Association who seems strongly on Shields’s side over the song book. Apparently he withdrew it because it was submitted to me. Possibly the fact that he was not told (but allowed to find out, I take it) sharpened his chagrin. I do not entirely exonerate this person (called Delia something) from a little pro-Shields mischief-making. She said that the EC decided that somebody should call on me “to fetch it”. But if that was so, it was not conveyed to me. However, I will send it back to Alan Bush. I told this Delia that the CA would not issue the book instead of the WMA, and that the best course was to work for conciliation all round, and that I was going to be drawn into no disputes. I was sent the book by Bush for my opinion, I had given my opinion and would now return the book. What he did, or the WMA did, either with my opinion or the book was their affair. She seemed to accept this. Then the Shieldses came, were affable enough, and got their tape recorder set up. I escaped.
December 1 Thursday: It seems about 22 people turned up last night and the collection was £2-7-6, of which Peter Mulligan sent the Shieldses 10/-. Apparently it was a powerful success.
In the morning whom did we meet in Lyons but the famous “Boscoe” Jones who has left Collets since they moved their despatch department to Wellinborough, and is now at King’s Cross Railway Station in the Left Luggage department. He offered to help us with the move when we go. He also spoke of Fred O’Shea, whom he considers weak and afraid to defend the party policy for fear of offending people. His wife is now “very sour” and is always criticising the Staror individuals in the leadership of the party. So, as Sean Redmond remarked, to some extent they have caught them on. He also said that Sean Hurley separated from Pat O’Neill in the closing stages of the ETU rumpus, and that O’Neill threatened to punch his jaw!
I went to West London. A card from Des Logan expressed his regret. But Gerry Curran, Eamon MacLaughlin and Joe Crilly turned up and undertook to attend next week. Curran was very despondent and still urged the dissolution of the branch. Pat Hensey was not so bad.
December 2 Friday: Most of the day from lunchtime to 10.45 pm. was taken up in getting the books ready for the book sale, and a dusty dirty job it was.
December 3 Saturday: A letter from Klugman [James Klugman, leading CPGB official] enquired about a man called Thomas P. O’Mahony who had written to Marxist Review. The book sales began but the customers were not as numerous as on previous occasions. Nevertheless, I imagine we still have taken something like £15 when the total is made. Dorothy Deighan, Peter Mulligan, Bobby Heatley and Pat Bond were there. Charlie Cunningham went to the Conference of Trade Unionists at the Beaver Hall. In the evening Joe Deighan, Sean Redmond and I went to Camden Town and Holloway.
December 4 Sunday: The book sale went on, Dorothy Deighan and later Jim Kelly and Peter Mulligan helping. We heard bad news about Terry Kennedy who has developed a swelling of the testicle and must go into hospital. He has heart trouble and looks like a ghost at the best of times, and of course he fears it may be malignant.
One of the Sunday papers had a picture of some of our neighbours [in the same building] – the young bearded man who helps Barbara Haq and the “mouse in sheep’s clothing”, as I call him – a lad dressed in a synthetic sheepskin of inconceivable shagginess. Somebody threw a brick through South Africa House window, wrapped in one of their posters. This has not been blamed on them, though they think it was a “headcase” who recently resigned. But undoubtedly it helped to get them publicity.
In the evening I was in Paddington with Charlie Cunningham. He had been at the “Trade Union Defence” conference yesterday, and said Cooley got the best applause.
December 5 Monday: I had a letter from Sam Levenson [in the USA], saying he was thinking of doing some more work on his “Life of Connolly”, and asking for help. I sent the letter on to Maurice Cornforth [of the publishing firm Lawrence and Wishart, which has published Greaves’s “Life and Times of James Connolly”] and wrote to him saying I would meet when (as he says) he will be in Europe from Christmas Day onwards. Quite a Connolly industry is developing. Joe Deasy has done a pamphlet – nothing bright – but quite useful.
In the evening the International Committee had a discussion, with Betty Reid opening on the subject of ultra-leftism. She made reference to Reg Birch who is now liable to be thrown out of the party, having started an independent periodical, “The Marxist” I know he was a great friend of Pat Dooley’s and shared his leftism together with his vanity. Whenever I saw him speak he was visibly preening himself. He has adopted a Chinese type of policy, but Betty Reid, wisely or unwisely, let drop the gossip that he is hitting the bottle.
December 6 Tuesday: Sean Redmond spent most of the day on routine matters, and only squeezed out 17 circulars for next Saturday’s repeat book sale on which all depends! Nor does he show any drive for the premises fund. He is not bureaucratic but bureaudominated! Always the routine gets precedence – the training of a junior clerk! He called the dance committee in the evening, and here perhaps the methodical approach was of value. But my mind often goes back to Pat Bond’s shrewd remark about a month after Sean replaced Tony Coughlan, that there was evidence of a sound political mind but a great reduction in driving power, and a determination not to work too late – though it should be said that he has nothing like the physical stamina that Tony Coughlan has, though he imagines he has it. Anyway, I stayed in the office till 8 pm. and sent away the notices (another 30) myself, though I was not too pleased to have to do it. I had to complete the first development fund myself while he was on holiday, I have had to apply the drive to get the circulation back from what it lapsed to while I was away, and I have had to get the West London Branch functioning again. Joe Deighan of course does not help in this. His desire to play the “elder statesman” when he is politically in some ways behind Sean Redmond, results in Sean having nothing to sharpen his resolve upon. The Standing Committee, with only Pat Hensey and Joe Deighan apart from Sean Redmond and myself, is quite inadequate. We can wish for the days we had Tony Coughlan and Roy Johnston – who by the way I see from the paper is on the Ard Comhairle of Sinn Fein.
December 7 Wednesday: I had a letter from Maurice Cornforth referring to Sam Levenson’s. He suggests I call in to Lawrence and Wishart on Friday. He permitted himself to be playful over Levenson’s request of a copy of my book that I was to “honour him” by inscribing. Maurice professed to believe that I was to “honour” the book, after which it could be despatched to Washington. In the evening Pat Bond, Toni Curran, Jane Tate, Peter Mulligan and Joe Deighan came in, but Sean was holding his 30th birthday celebration at the first time his sister could come, and Kennedy was ill. Peter gave a woeful performance introducing a discussion without preparation. A young lad formerly in the Irish Labour Party was there, Domhnal O’Sullivan, and seemed quite intelligent.
December 8 Thursday: Thanks largely to Pat Bond’s re-enrolment activity the Connolly Association has something like £83 in hand, and the paper £73. The development fund stands at £1150, of which £1000 is earmarked for a new employee. We received notification yesterday by telephone that we can have 283 Grays Inn Road, and that if we do it up ourselves, we can have four months rent free. Sean Redmond and I discussed things and decided that a month’s overlap would be best, and this might enable us to get the fund up to the required figure. I rang up Seifert about it. Then I saw Barbara Haq. Even though we pull out, still her EC want to go on with the Pioneer House scheme. Brockway says he will raise the money personally. But she says she is worried to death. The other organisations do not pay regularly. Jones owes her £70. The Pan African Congress (whom Sean Redmond says is a stooge American outfit) owes £16 for telephone calls to Germany. The Vietnam Committee is really half-subsidised by the MCF, borrows things all the time, while the MCF pays the cost of repairs. Bills for dilapidation from the existing landlord are expected at anytime. I said let them sue her for them and produce witnesses to swear the place is a damn sight better than when they went in, or alternatively has been ruined because the landlords failed to mend the roof. But she has not the health or physique to fight them and if she is not lucky she will be back in hospital. Apparently she has used up most of the £240 raised for the premises on current expenditure. She does not use our method of having three banking accounts, so that each activity pays for itself and transfers require a committee decision and signatures for cheques. I had great difficulty in persuading Toni Curran to accept this, but how it has protected us.
In the evening the WMA [Workers’ Music Association] rang up about the Shields’s manuscript. I said I would send it to Alan Bush. “But I have been delegated by… ” “I am afraid that’s not my affair. I return it to the man who sent it me.” So they accepted that. Apparently Shields was not annoyed because I was to check it, but because anybody was to look it over at all. Like most people who have not written a line before in their lives, he regards the products of his pen as sacred.
Sid French rang up, promising to discuss the Irish Democrat in Surrey. And I spoke to Harry Bourne [Birmingham CPGB organiser] who told me what I did not know, that Lindsay Aiken had been writing letters about me to him and to Gollan saying that my editorials in the Democratwere so constructed that if read in a certain way between the lines they disseminated secret information. “He’s a head case, ” said Bourne, and he will arrange a meeting as soon as I care to go to Birmingham. Incidentally, again there is no reason why Sean Redmond shouldn’t have pressed these people. But still, one mustn’t be too hard on him. He did the job while I was away and many could not have done it at all.
I saw the Irish Times had a report that Fitt was speaking favourably of the EEC. I had a letter from Art McMillen and mentioned this in my reply. I also wrote to Jack Bennett and suggested a campaign to lift the ban on the United Irishman so that the people of the Falls Road can read the case against entry [ie. to the EEC, the British application to join which the Harold Wilson Government was then reviving]. I see the high-principled Beaverbrook Evening Standard has reversed its position and is all for the EEC now. So, seemingly, has the Labour Tribune.
Great excitement in the Cockpit. On Tuesday midday the two top storey flats were burgled, and the musician lost £60 he had left in the house. The glass of the door was smashed. In the other case entry was made through a lavatory window. This was the second time for this person. So now there is talk of locking the street door. This was stopped by the people who have left – who objected to my bicycle in the corridor and turned the lamp on. I had the silver nitrate ready for them; when they left after that, hire-purchase firms were busy enquiring after them.
I went to the West London Branch. The number was the best yet – 8. Eamon MacLaughlin was there, and Charlie Cunningham and Pat Hensey began to perk up. For the first time they lifted a collection that would pay for their room. Joe Deighan was there and when we had a drink aftewards teased MacLoughlin, “You’re putting on weight. You need exercise.” “How will I get it but by selling the Irish Democrat?” But nobody bit. Joe was talking about the possibility of his coming back again. Eamon MacLaughlin alone could lend politics to the branch, if he could overcome his laziness. At the moment his contributions show him to be sadly out of touch.
December 9 Friday: When I got in to the office in the morning Sean Redmond told me he had been at the NCCL Executive last night. There was a letter from McCartney reporting on the Belfast meeting, which complained that “too many Republicans” were there, and what was as bad, Jack Bennett seemed to be running things [The meeting at the War-Memorial Hall, Waring Street, was held on 28 November, and a decision was taken at it to draw up a civil rights charter at a meeting in January, which became the first meeting of the NICRA]. Some of them had objected to taking up civil liberties other than political ones. Tony Smythe disclosed that when the meeting was announced the NILP [Northern Ireland Labour Party] had rung the NCCL to ask if they were running it. They replied in the negative. Now they want Tony Smythe to go over as quickly as he can. Sean was against this. He too was hesitant. Ennals looked on with a sardonic smile. One of McCartney’s complaints was that “too many people from Dublin” were at the meeting – they were indeed: McAnnally [Dublin solicitor Ciaran McAnally] who defended Smythe after he had been bitten by the police dog that took a snap at Dr Browne, and Kader Asmal [Trinity College law lecturer] whose father-in-law is on the same Executive [ie. the British NCCL Executive]. But Sean Redmond had the impression that there had been fierce battles on the Irish question for a long time past. We decided to urge Jack Bennett to invite Smythe, and thus to spike McCartney’s guns. I may take a quick trip over to do this, or possibly phone.
At midday I called to see Maurice Cornforth. He provided a copy for me to sign, and said he would send it to Levenson. He asked me how long was “Mellows” going to be. I said a bit shorter than “Connolly”. “Oh, indeed – you know we’re making more money out of long books now. You could put a bit more in it, and we’d sell it for £3.” He brought in a copy of TA Jackson’s book, noted that it was bulkier still, and said he would reprint it if I would revise it from end to end, and add an epilogue. So that was well, and later I wrote to Vivienne Marcier [TA Jackson’s daughter] to tell her about it.
There was an International Affairs Committee in the evening. Sean Redmond was there but left immediately it was over. From his furtive behaviour I scented a romance, which will do him no harm, and we hope will not affect the work. It should not. He is old enough. I went for a drink with Michael Harmel, who told me that Sean MacBride had been in South Africa a few years ago and had warned the Communist leader who was jailed as a result of two colleagues giving way under torture, not to denounce them afterwards. This had caused splits in Ireland. His advice was taken, and Bram Fischer in his subsequent statements placed the blame entirely on the police, which was right.
Jack Woddis spoke to me about Keith Cavanagh. Seemingly he attended a student meeting and made an attack on the leadershp of a rather sophisticated kind, so that they fear the Trotskies have been influencing him.
December 10 Saturday: The second booksale took place today. Dorothy Deighan was hard at it. But she was very angry at the way Sean Redmond and Peter Mulligan refused to take her work seriously, and indeed from time to time they are shockingly rude. I think it is probably an unconscious crude nationalism, that does not think an Englishwoman worth a polite word. But why it should affect only Sean and to a lesser extent Peter is hard to say. But there is also Dorothy’s tactlessness, which irritates the boys newly become men and leading to this desire for reprisal. Joe Deighan has complained to me about it. But nothing can be done till experience broadens these young people. The sale was quite a success. Brendan Clifford the Trotsky walked in and retreated. Later his wife came three times, each time buying a number of books. They have an attack on us in their duplicated sheet. They say “Unity Theatre” has gone “revisionist” and add somewhat inconsequentially that there is an unpaid bill to the brewery of £800, though all the beer has been drunk. Then it is added that members of the CA, “that mutual admiration society run by Desmond Greaves”, are in danger of the law. This must refer to Denis McCarthy, the wild man who as far as I am aware has not been a member since the ructions of 1959. I heard from Tony Coughlan.
December 11 Sunday: We held a Standing Committee meeting in the morning. We got the business done but Joe Deighan was inconsequential and consequently irritating. And poor Pat Hensey chirped in with useful suggestions, all of which were impractical, and Sean Redmond gave his reports without preparation and thus encouraged Joe’s inconsequentiality. So I was thoroughly irritated.
In the early evening I rang Jack Bennett and told him about the NCCL. He was very delighted and thanked me several times for the information. I suggested that his committee should invite Tony Smythe to its next meeting. In the evening I was in Camden Town with Jim Kelly, but we did not do well.
December 12 Monday (Liverpool): I caught the early train to Liverpool, and thanks to the wet weather spent the whole time indoors, except for seeing John McClelland in the evening.
December 13 Tuesday: Once again my purpose of going to the cottage was frustrated by the seemingly endless rain. The ground in the garden is sodden. I met Mrs Phillips in Grange Road and arranged for her to call tomorrow. Apart from that I could do very little. The annual nonsense is in full swing, the shops crammed with rubbish at fancy prices.
December 14 Wednesday: Again it rained. “Harry” came for his 14/- earned in October. Perhaps he wanted a Christmas box. I did not give him one. The piano tuner came and charged £2.7 for two visits. Being a householder is not cheap!
In the evening I went to the CA meeting. Owing to the confusion of two names, we had to make do with an alcove of the saloon bar. But Pat Doherty was there, still very leftist and angry at the “phoney” opposition to the “wage freeze”. Brian Farrington was there and Aine Redmond. She said that the Manchester branch had taken up, with an influx of new young people. Barney Morgan seems to have improved and is less cynical. Roose Williams was in Wrexham, and the Gormleys at the Irish Centre. But there were quite a few present. Olivia McMahon spoke on O’Casey. It was stated that Arthur Dooley the sculptor acted as a “front” for a concert in the University Union attended by 1600, the proceeds of which were privately channelled to the IRA. So says Barney Morgan. He claims to be “in the know” of everything.
December 15 Thursday (London): I returned to London, and in the evening went to West London where the Shieldses gave a lecture on Irish “rebel songs” rather sentimentally presented to the accompaniment of commercial records which were truly woeful. There was a good turn out – Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham, Eamon MacLaughlin, the mad little Denis McCarthy, Barbara MacLaughlin and others, including Pat Cunningham, Charlie Cunningham’s younger brother who works for EMI, is struggling year after year with an accountancy examination, and supports the Common Market.
December 16 Friday: Little enough happened today. Sean Redmond seems in great spirits, however. The usual people came in and I was with Charlie Cunningham in Holloway in the evening.
December 17 Saturday: The usual people foregathered on the Saturday morning. Sean, Dorothy Deighan, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Peter Mulligan and Chris Sullivan. I was also pleased at the reappearance of Colm Power, now at Acton Rails.
December 18 Sunday: Not very much happened today. I met Chris Sullivan and Charlie Cunningham in the office in the evening. Sean Redmond had telephoned to say he was not going out.
December 19 Monday (Liverpool): I left for Liverpool in the morning, taking up a large number of books, having in mind writing the book in 124 Mount Road.
December 20 Tuesday: I had thought of going to Scotland, but the weather seems desperately unsettled.
December 21 Wednesday (London): I went to London again, for the purpose of getting another load of books. According to Brief if I made 124 Mount Road my main residence I can avoid capital gains tax. So why look for another place for the moment? I went to the Central London meeting. Joe Deighan, Dorothy, Chris Sullivan, Pat Hensey and Peter Mulligan were there, but Sean Redmond had said he had a cold.
December 22 Thursday (Liverpool): I caught the 8.30 train to Liverpool and met Mrs Stewart for lunch. She seems reasonably well and cheerful. Of course we talked about Phyllis. She told me how, bursting into tears, Phyllis had told her that she had placed too much stress on economic security, when of course she did not enjoy her savings. On the other hand the BUPA was very handy, because she was spared the worry of whether her resources would stand a prolonged illness. I rang Elsie Greaves in the evening. A card came from Miss Stothard.
December 23 Friday: Of all the maddening things, I have caught a cold – almost certainly from Chris Sullivan last Sunday, for he had been in bed most of the day doping himself with whiskey. I secured a supply for myself, and went to bed early.
December 24 Saturday: In the afternoon Elsie Greaves came down for a couple of hours. She told me she is still having continuous medical treatment, including radio-therapy, for her throat “condition”, as the medical people call it. After a rather severe spell she asked was it cancer. “It can’t be that, or you wouldn’t be here now,” replied the doctor, “but we are puzzled. There is inflamed tissue and we don’t know what’s causing it.” This seems perilously like “the old old story”. As for Elsie, she says, “I don’t like this process of getting old, not at all.” I was surprised to realise she was 59. Bill Pemberton is over 60. “He is getting to look very white,” says Elsie. Though a very healthy youngster she took tuberculosis (which killed her sister, Mary Greaves 2, in about 1930 at the age of 27) and for thirty years has lived like a pendulum swinging in and out of hospital. She brought up a family of three girls under those great difficulties, and was moreover handicapped before her death by her mother’s absurd parsimony, and when she got the family fortune (only £15,000, though that was something in those days) she had her feeble-minded brother to look after. He is now fat, fifty, grey as a badger and with the mind of a boy of six.
I lit a fire in the front room and burned Phyllis’s five-year diary unopened as requested. I also started replanning the upstairs back room with a view to making a study of it as I hope to come here to write “Mellows” in the summer. A bay-tree I ordered from a nursery was delivered, but I did not feel like planting it, as the cold has developed.
December 25 Sunday: I slept late in the morning but went up to 32 Tranmere Road at about 2 pm. – Elsie Greaves, Will Pemberton, and the two young people Anthea and Eric. I never remember the surname – something like Slater. I must find out. He is quite a decent young fellow, quite class-conscious and apparently of Welsh extraction, as he several times made observations of which one was, “Up the Welsh.” Apparently he has connections in Abergavenny. He certainly looks “Celtic” and could be taken for an Irishman, with his coal-black hair and distinct features. And there was Leslie, with toy trains for Christmas, and as Mary Greaves used to say, repeating himself like a “little parrot”. So there is the luck of the draw – Leslie Greaves an old man with the mind of a child, who never knew any pleasure or pain but a childish one. And Phyllis with all her fine faculties, under the sod. Leslie has taken to retailing deaths. “President Kennedy is dead,” he will say. “He was sixty four”. “He was not 64” says Pemberton. Then he mentions somebody else who died. They likewise are sixty four – comedians, showmen, anybody he has heard of. But it causes as much emotion as if they had gone to America.
Later Thelma, 22 against Anthea’s 21, came with her husband. He is a mainly more English type than Eric, with correspondingly conventional opinions. I have not much time for Thelma either. When at Phyllis’s request I sent her a substantial wedding present (adding £5 on my own account) she had not the grace to acknowledge it, even though Phyllis was on her death-bed. Of course I had kept them in the dark about that aspect of it, but a fool could see it was serious. Thelma’s husband was glad to leave school since he escaped Shakespeare and Dickens. “Don’t you like Dickens?” asks Eric. “I do not!” “Surprising. They’re great tales!” I imagine thus that he is from a Welsh radical family. The length of the others’ intellectual interest is the absurd rubbish on the television. Pemberton went to sleep while they watched. Then when it was over they talked about drink, drink and drink. A fellow teacher of Thelma’s (I think she teaches only things like cooking) drinks a bottle of white rum a night. She is twenty-two. “I can believe it,” said I, “as she’ll hardly reach thirty-two.” This is the brave new world of experience that ready money has opened to them. Apart from that they talked occasionally about motor cars, but not excessively. These and television are mercifully being taken for granted, so that even if one cannot do away with them, at least you do not have always to be hearing about them. I noticed in this connection Eric’s objection to the continental traffic signs. “Yes,” says he, “the only purpose is to let them drive all over the country, while we can’t.” Nationalism versus EEC!
December 26 Monday: I was somewhat better today and wrote a book review and read a couple of books. But in mid-afternoon Fred Brown appeared and insisted that I join them for lunch. I could not refuse. Molly Hack, Jean’s sister, was there with her son, a rather studious retiring boy of 17, physically huge. He is going to college next year to study pharmacy. “And what then?” I asked, meaning what kind of a job. “I hope to make money.” His father dropped down dead about three years ago – the name is I think Bowen, another Welsh name – and the youngster drives Molly about in the car she bought. She is quite radical – there is a huge reservoir of working class sentiment in the people, and it will be interesting to see whom it will overwhelm if it ever flows out – denounces the Vietnam war, and the atom bomb. She says the children who come into her sweetshop spend everything they have and eat it at once. “This is due to the insecurity caused by the bomb.” Jean says there is more sickness than ever before and put down to the side-effects of all the pills people are taking. A commercial artist, formerly a confectioner, came in. He had painted a picture which was now hung in the dining room – and very well painted too. And another man, a former farmer in Wirral, brought his young boy for Fred to take to the football match. Then there was some criticism of the building of housing estates at Holm Lane, Oxton. “You’d not have to be sentimental,” said Molly, “they just lay out roads without regard to the old places they destroy.” There is thus a current of dissatisfaction even now at the cruder aspects of the policy of creating a faceless, rootless interchangeable population. But when the process is accompanied by financial gain – it is a different matter.
The young lad (Alan Brown) sat open-mouthed when Molly described the “medders” of years gone by, which were raked out into the street, and the refuse left till a cart came to clean it. The street grids were cleaned with long manually operated scoops, and the piles of solid matter, dank and soaked, was left likewise for the cart, this however getting a sprinkle of calcium chloride. A year this evening was the last day Phyllis was up.
December 27 Tuesday: This was the day a year ago when Phyllis was taken by Elsie Greaves to Ince Blundell and I went to London to do the paper, only to be called back in a week. When she left we still did not realise that she was to have no respite. I had a filthy cold still but was able to plant the new bay tree, turn over some soil, and do a few other odd things.
December 28 Wednesday (London): I left for London by the 12.30 and came into the office to see Sean Redmond and Chris Sullivan who was there. He was asked would he work on Saturdays. “I’m on a forty hour week.” “Very well, here are your cards.” So that is how things are under Labour.
When I got back to 6 Cockpit Chambers I found a letter from Sam Levenson saying he did not want to come to London but would like very much if I could get to Dublin. He has only a fortnight here and that restricts him. I rang him up at the Anchor Hotel. He was out but rang back a few minutes later. So I agreed to go – perhaps on Friday if I can get the paper done. I returned to the office and worked on the paper till 10 pm. Charlie Cunningham came in, and looked rather glum when I said I would not be at the New Year’s Eve social, for it was I who urged them to have it.
December 29 Thursday: I rang Cathal’s. Conor answered the phone. Helga explained that the parents leave on Friday, but Cathal is taking them back. However I should see him on Sunday. I attacked the paper vigorously at the office and by 10 pm. had most of it done. Some I can do in Dublin. In the evening Peter Mulligan was there. He had just had a flaming row with Eamon MacLaughlin whom he had asked to do MC [ie. master of ceremonies at the social]. Eamonn had declared that he was not “asked properly” and declined to come to the social at all. Ten minutes later he rang back and asked for Sean Redmond. “How old are you at all?” he asked. “Just 27,” Peter replied. “Well you’re old enough to know better. All the same I’ll see you at the social.” Of course all this is Eamon’s play-acting to get out of the job. I didn’t tell Peter that, however. I asked was he really 27. He was. He could pass for 23. “And two years ago, I’d pass for 21,” he replied, but could not pass on the secret! I hope, however, he is not like PJ Kearney who looked very very young but died at 36. From this one concludes that there is an element of development even in senescence. But the surprise was that Kerstin of all people arrived. I was sure he was dead. He used to be a damned nuisance and at one time was under O’Shea’s influence. He had won £100 on the Irish Sweep and had been in to pester Sean Redmond a month or two ago. Still we spoke him fair.
A visitor during the day was Alec Higgins, of Maes Ty, now living in Bristol, a very old supporter whose father was secretary of the ISDL [Irish Self-Determination League] in Maes Ty. I did not realise that he was in the International Brigade. He works at a “classification centre” for “young delinquents”, covering all Southwest England and South Wales. North Welsh boys go to Liverpool. He had not realised the deliberate denationalizing on foot here but said no Welsh-speaking youngsters ever appear before them. He knew Roose-Williams well. His children are now grown up and he may return to ordinary teaching.
December 30 Friday: I finished the greater part of the paper, and went to Liverpool on the 5 pm. train, took a taxi to 124 Mount Road, collected one or two things, and just caught the boat to Dublin.
December 31 Saturday (Dublin): I reached 74 Finglas Park just as Cathal and Helga were leaving to get the parents’ car put right for the journey to Galway in the afternoon. She was soon back, but I left in mid-morning to meet Levenson at the Anchor Hotel where he was staying. He was a slightly dapper little American who works in the publicity section of the Government cancer research department at Washington, though he originates in Massachussetts. He is Jewish, and strongly opposed to the Vietnam War. He became interested in Connolly during the depression of the thirties. He is 57 years old and is toying with the idea of coming to Ireland to work on his book when he retires in two and a half years’ time. He is interested in the personal stories of Connolly. “Did he have any other love affairs? Didn’t he chase other women? We’ll sure have to find some faults or he won’t be human.” Levenson could not thole Pearse, whom he described as “sick”. He also said that many Americans would not understand my book – as I refer to “trams” and a “brake”.
He invited me to have dinner with him and some friends. One of them was the Editor and owner of “Hibernia”, Basil Clancy. He was a middle-aged sandy-haired man of a relaxed and urbane manner, with his wife Loretta, born of a Liverpool Irish family, also very pleasant. The other was McCarthy, one of the new numerous directors of the Abbey [Charlie McCarthy, Vocational Teachers’ trade union official and later TCD academic]. He was speculating as to when Blythe would be leaving. All agreed Blythe had the most vigorous brain on the Board. The general tenor of the conversation was Fine Gael, and basically anti-language. Levenson expressed surprise that I should support the Gaelic revival. “But so do I,” says Clancy, “Though I fear it’s impossible.” McCarthy was more militantly for English. He also held that all Trade Union officials should regard themselves as failures if they had to resort to strike action. Levenson asked me my opinion and was disappointed when I merely asked if they should ever accept failure. “In certain circumstances, yes.” “Well, then there is no basic difference – all depends on the individual case.” They had been meeting Larkin. “This country needs a ‘left’. We’ve got to have it,” says McCarthy. “Well, we are the left,” says Clancy, meaning Hibernia which has recently blossomed out into dissent. But McCarthy would have none of this. All agreed they despised the brainless, gutless ineffective Labour Party. So what of the young members of Fine Gael? “You know as well as I,” said McCarthy shrewdly, “that the typical Fine Gael member is a fairly substantial business man or landowner.” They will be pleased to see the young men of the party talking left, as they will think that that will get them into power. But what happens when they are in power? Will they allow them to carry out that programme or, if they form a coalition with Labour, will they give them that plank to resign on?”
While I was having a drink after the dinner, Tony Coughlan telephoned and he waited for me in Grooms’ next door. We took a taxi up to 74 Finglas Park, and he told me about Cathal Goulding who requested space in the Democrat and then didn’t want it. “Hm,” says Tony, “they came to me and said Goulding wanted to write in the Democrat but didn’t know what to write about. So he asked me if I’d write it for him.” I said I had heard that the Republicans decided that no “message” should be sent to any paper but their own and, pointing out that no question existed of a message, expressed the view that they “muddled it up”. “He always does,” said Tony. I was rather taken by Tony’s vastly increased maturity, in style, manner and judgment. Then I realised he is now thirty.
Helga was not in bed, and we sat and talked, all trooped out at 11.59 and in again at 12.1 and the New Year being let in to the accompaniment of Helga’s village songs, opened another bottle of wine. Tony Coughlan is in good touch with events now. He says that he understands that at one time Basil Clancy had to submit every article that went into Hibernia to the Knights of Columbanus. But they have withdrawn their share-holding so that he has been able to swing to the left. I remember Basil Clancy starting up as a publisher about twenty years ago, and the sour comments of the Labour crowd I knew then. I asked Tony about Broderick’s lecture and whether I should do it. He said he thought that Broderick was well-meaning and had now got the biggest society in TCD. But he was dubious.
1 9 6 7
January 1 Sunday: We went to Bray and walked round the Head to Greystones. It was bright and sunny but the wind started to veer from West to the North and it gradually grew colder. Tony Coughlan told me that the Belfast Civil Liberties meeting was most representative, and that Eddie McAteer was present [leader of the Nationalist Party in Stormont]. Also McCartney made himself most objectionable and tried to prevent the committee being established, objecting that this would prevent the British NCCL from doing anything. It was generally agreed that it would not. Tony Coughlan added that McCartney blocked the Anti-Apartheid in the same way. He regards McCartney as a soured embittered individualist who must rule. But Jack Bennett regards him as a careerist. Tony Coughlan dilated on the Goulding article business and expressed the opinion that the Republicans always pull out of any relationship with the left. It happens every time.
I returned to 74 Finglas Park and found Cathal back. He asked me about the Goulding article. I told him, and of course he knew already and was displeased. He said that of the Republicans he knew the most serious, consistent and straight in his dealings was Tony Meade, and he did not think that it was his influence that had stopped the other man. Then to our surprise, in came Cathal Goulding, his wife and son aged about fourteen [Goulding was a cousin of Cathal MacLiam’s, with whom Greaves used regularly stay when visiting Dublin]. They had been drinking. The wife was in a gloomy mood and was talking about a girl from Limerick who has just gone back to England after visiting her family. She had an operation for cancer of the uterus, and though she did not tell her parents, she now has the swelling and the pain returning and there are lumps on her legs she thinks are secondaries. Goulding called this all morbidity. His wife countered by challenging him for having expressed anti-religious sentiments in front of the woman. He at first denied it, then said it was no matter. But everybody agreed with the wife and Cathal said, “You’re in the hot seat.” However, he replied that he was the one who wrote the letters to people who were sick.
One thing amused me. He said he had thought that Dominic Behan was a waster but had changed his opinion. So this is what a threepenny bit can do. I think it possible that Behan took the initiative in Liverpool. His reason would be that he wants to draw to himself some of the popularity of the “Dubliners”, especially when his stock is otherwise somewhat low. I could see from this that Goulding has not great political acumen. Goulding was anxious that I should speak to the students [at the Trinity College Republican Club]. But I find it difficult to decide.
January 2 Monday: I called to Jim Fitzgerald’s house and trailed him to the Molesworth Hall, but just missed him. I met Derry Kelleher by accident, then took a taxi to see Cashman the photographer. I selected about six pictures. He is tall, slender and 86 years old. He is a great hoarder. “I kept everything,” he said “and the others threw theirs away and were sorry afterwards. I’ve been cashing in on the commemoration last year.” A Cork man, he worked for 14 years with the Examiner before coming to Dublin. Some of his famous photographs were taken with a five-shilling “Brownie” box camera. He was in a window when he took the famous baton charge. “I knew something was afoot when I saw all the police about.” He said he would not allow everybody to look through his collection. “But I like your side. I like the Labour side. My son knows you. He is very active in the cooperative movement here.” He was quite prepared to give me copies and said, “Sure, I’ll be dead before you pay for them.” I offered to pay in advance. He was pleased but said, “I gather from my son that you’ve a struggle to keep the paper going.” He then spoke of the war in Vietnam. “The Americans, the people who saved the world! And now they’re the biggest butchers of the lot.” I had a very good impression of this interesting and intelligent old man.
When I got back to town I found Jim Fitzgerald and we went into Nearys. He was most indignant at the abolition of the “splash” by Dublin publicans. Indeed he had a bright idea, and when I sat before a half-bottle of tonic water, persuaded me to have a soda-water with the next drink and told them not to charge for it as the Tonic water was by mistake! He used to live in the same road as Pat O’Neill, but could never stomach his brand of romantic nationalism, and (like Levenson) could not stomach Patrick Pearse.
He said that it was obvious that the shareholders of the Abbey did not know anything that was going on, for Blythe had ceased to be director a month ago. He is, however, still on the board. He thought Blythe’s secret was the most highly developed administrative skill. He could accept ten instructions and subvert the lot without altering a comma of them.
I saw Levenson again at his hotel. He had been to the ITGWU and seemed fairly confident of his enterprise. Of course he has been told every “good story” imaginable and proposes to select those he uses by means of the somewhat suspect criteria of their “ringing true”. I then went up to Cathal’s for my bags and left for the Liverpool boat.
January 3 Tuesday (Liverpool): The weather has started to turn cold. I arrived in Liverpool and went to 124 Mount Road. I still suffered from the effect of the cold I caught at Christmas and could do very little.
January 4 Wednesday (London): I went to Ripley via Crewe and Derby, read the proofs of the paper, left my camera behind, and reached London in time for the Central Branch meeting. Sean Redmond was not there. I think his sister is staying with them. But Joe Deighan, Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly and others were there, and on the whole the evening went off well enough. The New Year’s Eve social was a powerful success.
January 5 Thursday: I was in the office all day, and in the evening went to West London; there we found Pat Hensey still away. His mother is dying and I think he will stay there if necessary a few weeks. Charlie Cunningham, Colm Power and several others were there, including a young lad called Peter McGovern from Newry, a very quiet lad. If Charlie had any powers of leadership, the branch could resume its previous position. Sean Redmond would not hold a Standing Committee tonight as he has on some “private function.”
January 6 Friday: Again I was in the office. Chris Sullivan, who is unemployed but hopes to get into Acton Rails with pushing from Eamon MacLaughlin, is helping every day with the sending out of circulars for the conference. The sales are not good this weekend. Sean Redmond is not going out on Sunday, and several people are away. And it began to snow at night. It seems that unless I kick up a definite fuss beforehand, nothing will induce Sean to work out targets and try to achieve them. He is the clerk (and a very efficient one), not the capitalist!
January 7 Saturday: The usual people were in the office in the morning – Sean, Charlie Cunningham, Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly and quite a bit was done for the conference. Charlie had been very dubious about McGovern, but he turned up to sell last night and so the man he described sceptically as “either a saint or a sinner” seems to have been accepted into the great mediocracy. In the afternoon I put up polythene sheets to make a double glazed window. It is still little above freezing point.
January 8 Sunday: I spent a good part of the day in the office, trying to get the feature pages of the February issue under way. Then in the evening I was in Hammersmith with Charle Cunningham.
January 9 Monday: I saw Nicholson, the Scottish lad who looks after the students. Woddis had expressed the fear that Cavanagh was imbibing Trotsky opinions at Imperial College, but Nicholson expressed himself not worried. He was very helpful in what I wanted of him, but I did not judge him to be very sharp. Then I saw JR Campbell [leading CPGB official].
In the evening we had the Irish Committee meeting and Cooley was at it. Campbell spoke. After it was over we went for a drink (Sean Redmond had had to go to an MCF meeting) and Cooley came out with a torrent of leftism. He had reluctantly come to the conclusion that the Chinese were right. This had taken him three years. The Russians were holding the workers back from revolution. West Germany was no danger to them; it was a bogy to keep the Eastern European countries quiet and docile. On the other hand, Khruschev had been afraid to have a show-down with the Americans, and Stalin knew how to deal with them. Khruschev was suckered only because he wanted to go too fast. Now his successors were busy at the dismantling of socialism and reintroducing profit. Everything the Chinese were doing inside the country was justified by the “fact” that the Russians had called on the Chinese people to overthrow their leaders. As for the disruption alleged of them at International conferences, Ron Whitely had been to an international conference where the French Chairman had switched off the microphone when the Chinese delegate went to the rostrum, and all present began a slow hand-clap. I did not like this about Whitely; and I recalled how one of his members who was at the TUC without being a delegate, and for no obvious purpose showed a burst of unprovoked and ill-concealed hostility to myself, which was strange since I had never met him before and forget his name now. Joe Deighan thought Cooley was influenced by the industrial struggles his union was engaged in. Bobbie Rossiter asked if he agreed with the “British Road to Socialism”, and he said he did not. I remarked that though not a worker by origin, he idealised the proletariat, and thought they would act in accordance with a preconceived plan of his own. This gave him slight pause but did not check him.
January 10 Tuesday: We heard the bad news that though her committee insists on trying to go ahead with the Pioneer House scheme, Barbara Haq has been taken ill. Sid French postponed his meeting with me to Friday, Harry Bourne sine die.
In the evening Alan Morton came to dinner. He said in some wonderment, “Do you know I am due to retire in five years’ time?” I think he is 57 in March and retires at 62, though he can get an extra five years.
January 11 Wednesday: Barbara Haq’s illness is pneumonia. So she must be off for a fortnight at least. That surely puts paid to the scheme. Our lease arrived from Seifert, but it contained some conditions I did not like, so that I discussed proposing amendments with Toni Curran. We are in the happy position of having enough reserves to meet the contingency of having to drop it and take No.374 as a whole, since the MCF intend to move anyway.
The branch meeting took place in the evening, and was attended by Sean Redmond, Joe Deighan, Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly, Chris Sullivan and a few more. Bobby Heatley was there with a cascading fringe over his forehead, rather an exaggerated juvenilism for a young man over 30 – I looked curiously at it! Then I saw that the hair was thinning. Poor Bobby has a frantic attachment to his youth! And of course he is not to be blamed for that. He is about at the age when its disappearance strikes the loser most forcibly.
January 12 Thursday: I was in the office all day. But in the evening I went to West London, and found there Charlie Cunningham, Colm Power, Gerry Curran, Pat Hensey and Kt. Pat Hensey’s mother had died during the two days he made a flying visit to London. He was very quiet and depressed.
January 13 Friday: We had lunch with Sid French [Leading light in the Surrey District of the CPGB; later broke away to found the New Communist Party]. He made some useful promises and I think he will carry them out. He is against the electoral policy of opposing Labour everywhere and thinks this should only be done where there is no risk of splitting and bringing in Tories. He is also in favour of a strong line with the Chinese. I would say on the balance he is on the “right”, if one can use such words. In the evening after the International Affairs Committee I had a drink with Kay Beauchamp, Harry Bourne and George Pefkos. The last told us how he challenged some of the Chinese leaders on “splitting the anti-imperialist front” while on a visit to China, and the Russian Embassy wondered how he got away with his life. Perhaps this must be taken allegorically, of course. Kay Beauchamp said that in preparing election addresses for the Greater London Council she had three District Secretaries to contend with – Sid French all fire and dash, Aaronovitch all caution and Davidson in between! Bourne developed the generally held thesis that the people were liable to swing back to the Tories anyway, and to warn against this must take second place to presenting the more progressive alternative which was the only way out. This policy would, he thought, arouse class feelings and compel a change of policy in the Labour Party. I said I did not think it was quite so simple. Kay Beauchamp agreed. And of course all condemned the electoral system which creates and ossifies the two-party system.
January 14 Saturday: Michael O’Riordan telephoned in the morning and said he would be with us tomorrow. In the office were Gerry Curran, Peter Mulligan, Pat Hensey, Sean Redmond and Dorothy Deighan, and Charlie Cunningham, who went on strike on Tuesday, is still off work. Apparently he proposed that when a man was suspended for refusing to work on a job that did not pay well, they should consider themselves all suspended. The shop-stewards however have not the courage to put up a real fight, or the good sense to go back. The management refuses to discuss with them, while they hover between two policies.
January 15 Sunday: I got up late with a slight cold. Then, after lunch, I went to the ACTT hall where O’Riordan gave a very good talk on the work of the Irish Workers Party. Among those present were the usual people, plus Fred O’Shea, the snake, and Joe O’Connor. We invited O’Riordan to have a meal with us, but the boys found him walking off with Joe O’Connor who had promised him a drink out of hours. And most of the time he was talking with this one, as if the younger generation were of no account. This is the effect imprisonment has on people; in their personal behaviour they remain always in prison. In the evening I was in Hammersmith with Sean Redmond. We took Charlie Cunningham with us, where he joined Jim Kelly in the Hop Poles. All seem to have been well pleased with the day’s work. O’Riordan has again put off the school they want me to take in Dublin, and it may prove “sine die”, which will really suit me as I want to return to work on the book.
January 16 Monday: I had thought of going to Liverpool today but postponed it. Among other things came an amended bill from the new premises’ owners’ Solicitor, showing that he had had an afterthought which steepened his terms. I decided to show less interest for a while. Apart from anything else I want to bring the CA members up clearly against the issue they face. I prepared also a list of people to approach for the conference. We found from Cooley that the invitation had not been brought up at the DATA meeting [ie. the Draughtsmen’s Trade Union], that is, it was “killed” by Doughty in the office.
January 17 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went into the office in the morning and got preliminary work on the paper done. Then, after having missed the 3 pm. train, I went to Liverpool on the 5 pm.
January 18 Wednesday: There was a letter from Daphne Greaves saying that she had taken her car for Harley to adjust the plugs. He had kept it for a week. She called for it one morning at 11 am. and found it standing there with the battery flat, and himself in bed. So he seems well set on the downward path. Also there was a note from Mrs Stewart saying that Phyllis’s friends in Norway had sent 2 lbs. of gjetost via Ivey Hicks, and that she, while thanking them, had had to break the bad news. I got very little done today, as I felt so damned tired. I met John McClelland in the evening.
January 19 Thursday: Again a most unsatisfactory day. I still felt tired out – a slight cold but probably the result of last year’s strain combined with the winter. The weather is mild, like a winter thirty years ago, but I hardly felt like going out.
January 20 Friday: I went to bed earlier last night, about midnight, after drinking a bottle of Niersteiner I bought at Christmas and didn’t feel like taking! And I got up late. So I went into town and met Mrs Stewart, priced desks at “Withy Grove” in Whitechapel, and bought a book shelf to put one on. I have fixed Mary Greaves’s carpet in my old bedroom – vacated when I went to London in December 1936 – and am busy making it into a study. But I still felt tired and rang Sean Redmond with a view to finding the position there and decided to go back to London. But I still felt dog-tired. I bought a small book-case for the study.
January 21 Saturday: Last night I retired at 11.30 and did not rise till 11. And still I was tired out – with occasional sneezes. So it seems to be a cold!
January 22 Sunday (London): Today I got up at 8.l5 am., feeling quite lively, and without the depression of the last few days. Not since 1922 have I been laid up with “influenza”, but I have often thought that perhaps I take it lightly and do not recognise it as such. Whatever it was, I never felt so worn out for less reason in years. Still, it seems to have gone. I spoke to Tom Redmond in the morning. He said Eamonn Travers has gone to Glasgow, John McCullough to Birmingham, so I thought we must get after them quickly. In the afternoon I came to London and was out with Charlie Cunningham in the evening [ie. selling the monthly paper].
January 23 Monday: Not much today. I worked on the paper in the office and lunched at Schmidts as usual with Sean Redmond. In the evening I read microfilms – it must be the first time possibly since August 1965! Such has been the delay.
January 24 Tuesday: More today. Sean Redmond was at the MCF last night. Though Barbara Haq is still sick, and likely to remain so, and Reynolds News insists that they sign the lease by January 31st or withdraw, and while they need £1100 and have only £200 (less than we have) still they are going ahead. It is of course madness. Kay Beauchamp tactlessly asked why the CA had pulled out with all its reserves of building labour. Sean Redmond said we would help anyway. Afterwards he told Kay we thought it would be a fiasco. “Oh! That was the reason,” she said with more understanding than he expected. Brockway hopes to raise £200 in the House of Lords tomorrow. Then he will tackle MPs. Last Sunday he told the London MCF he was retiring to make way for a younger man. Somebody suggested the new premises should be opened to coincide with his retirement and a world-wide financial appeal be launched. Indeed the premises should be called “Fenner Brockway House”, though the room is a physical part of Pioneer House. Brockway expressed deep qualms of conscience over keeping staff in No. 374 where the wiring was so bad that the place might go up in flames at any minute, and before the meeting was over he was himself referring to the new place as “Fenner Brockway House”. “He’s a vain ould divil,” said Sean.
In the morning a Czech called Hucara telephoned. The Morning Star had put him on to me. He wanted an interview as I thought for a newspaper. He came into the office at about 11 am., and his first act was to plant on the table a huge two-bottle flagon of gin. Having thus disarmed me he produced a tape-recorder, set it going, and there I was, a prisoner. He wants it for a broadcast on the Irish question. I was at it till 1 pm. and needed the gin by the time he had finished.
Sean Redmond went to lunch with Tony Smythe [NCCL Secretary] at Schmidt’s to discuss his visit to Belfast next Sunday [for what was to become the foundation meeting of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association]. And I went to see Seifert about the lease. We drew up nine points we wanted altered, and Seifert expressed the opinion that it had become possible to take a shorter way with landlords, as much property was coming on to the market. When I got back to the office Sean and I sampled the gin.
In the evening Elsie O’Dowling, Robbie Rossiter, Jim Kelly, Pat Hensey and Ted Shields came to the Dance Committee. I was working on the paper. Gerald Hamilton who had written about Casement in the Labour Monthly, wrote expressing appreciation of the letter I wrote commenting on his opinion that Casement had come back “to try and stop the Rising”. His point was that when he had discussed the matter with René McColl they both thought it possible (“It may be,” said the Scotsman at Ballachulish years ago, “but it’s verra dootful”) and I gathered that “his friend Montgomery Hyde” thought the same. However, the letter was very friendly and he admitted my argument that Monteith would know more about Casement’s intentions than anybody else.
Finally in the evening Cooley rang asking if I would do a school for DATA on March 12th and I consented. There is no doubt that he is an extremely sincere person, and I hope he sorts out the confusion that affects him on some matters.
January 25 Wednesday: I was busy on the paper most of the day. In the evening the Central Branch met and Joe Deighan was quite enthusiastic about Larkin. He thought Larkin was Danny Kilcommins multiplied a thousand times, but there was (I thought but did not say) a wee element of Joe Deighan that could be multiplied into the same thing. The usual people were there.
January 26 Thursday: In the morning time was wasted by a man from Belfast who came in to exercise a bee he had in his bonnet about Freemasons. He was a decent enough fellow but not very worldly wise. The Standing Committee took place at last in the early evening, and Sean Redmond spoke at West London on Griffith. We had lunch with Tony Smythe who is away to Belfast at the weekend. He is staying with McCartney – only arranged it last week. Jack Bennett, whom I had asked to invite him, had apparently not done so.
January 27 Friday: The German girl came in and told us that Brockway had decided not to sign the lease of Pioneer House on his personal account. Some good friends had warned him of the danger. But, said Petra, nobody warned Barbara Haq. She was not important! But Petra had warned her. Now Brockway wanted to establish a Trust by Monday morning. Of course this is absurd. So it will probably all fall through. I was out with Peter Mulligan in the evening.
January 28 Saturday: We saw the usual people in the morning, Peter Mulligan, Pat Hensey, Chris Sullivan, Jim Kelly and Sean Redmond, and Charlie Cunningham in addition in the evening. I returned to spend the evening preparing for tomorrow’s school. Colm Power rang saying he was coming, and also asked what I thought of the area election, Birch having been suspended from the Communist Party. Birch was a great friend of Dooley’s and perhaps their leftism was the mutual attraction. But Scanlon [Hugh Scanlon, Engineering trade union leader] I have no time for either. He was quite offensive when I approached him once in Manchester. So I merely said that those who had weighed the pros and cons seem to think less danger arose from the knave than from the fool!
January 29 Sunday: We had the school on the Common Market, which was very well attended. JR Campbell acted as tutor for the morning, and as well as Sean Redmond and the young lady he calls his “mott”, with two “t”s though the word is palpably the same as “mate” (the cat is out by the way; but he introduced her to nobody, but Jane Tate told me she works in her office), there was his father, his young brother Brendan, now a tall lad of twenty very busy in the YCL, and Colm Power, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Bobby Rossiter, Dr Betty O’Shea, the two Treacys, Joy Rudd – oh, about thirty in all. Campbell was very good and generally speaking everybody was satisfied. There was a continuous series of questions which never dried up and I think Campbell was rather surprised. Charlie Cunningham’s younger brother was there. He has been an outspoken supporter of the EEC, and Desmond McDade.
January 30 Monday: I was in the office all day, mostly cleaning up after the work on the paper. I had intended going North, but Reynolds rang saying the paper would be ready tomorrow. I learned that Petra Sachsenberg or -burg (such is the name, the more complicated version was Seán’s) is leaving for Tanzania next month, or soon afterwards. So blows crowd on the MCF, which she is trying to run while Barbara Haq is ill.
Last night, I forgot to say, I went to the Festival Hall, since Sean Redmond decided to go out with the “mot” instead of selling. It was Mozart’s Requiem, very well done (better than most) and the conductor was a young man who recalled that in the olden days the individual musician played and his listeners danced; now one man dances to a full auditorium.
January 31 Tuesday (Liverpool): The very mild weather continues but the winter is dreary none the less, for it is the damp cloudy type of mild weather we had so much of in the thirties. I went to Ripley. Everything was ready, but didn’t they give me Russell, the machine man, to do the corrections. It was with difficulty I caught the 5.45 to Crewe and Liverpool, and there was no hope of going to Nottingham as I had intended. There was a letter from Mrs Stewart, and books from Galway. The bay tree looked healthy enough; the old clematis was sprouting a fortnight ago; now the new one is so also. The Women’s Hospital acknowledged the arrival of the books.
February 1 Wednesday: I accomplished little during the day, except for tidying-up the front garden, and buying some seeds for this year’s vegetables. One would think there had been hardly a touch of frost the whole winter. The evening I spent with John McClelland. He told me that Gerry Cohen had not sent out the free copies and circular we had sent him.
February 2 Thursday (London): I left early, just as there reappeared on next doors’ arches the thrush that stood on the dead cherry tree and trilled through the whole of Phyllis’s illness. I went to Birmingham, rang Bill Warman who was out, then went to Well Lane and got the Trades Council’s address from Harry Bourne. He said he was beginning to recruit only Indians “again”. “Did it stop?” “Did it? We lost 85 of them over the China business.” “Well, the Chinese are making it easy now.” “Indeed! A mad house!” I indicated my view that the new “British Road to Socialism” should contain programmatic provisions to place hindrances in the way of such developments in this country. “Indeed!” says Harry, who never did anything in his life by halves, “We must lean over backwards.”
I went to the Trades Council office, got the book for 7/6 and had lunch in Pattersons, which seems to have improved in service since I was last there surely 15 years ago. Birmingham, of course, is more brash and ugly than ever. People must be exhausted walking up and down its ramps and stairs. Here is the motor-car sitting on the City Council with a good majority. I went to Nottingham and saw John Peck. He has only himself and Westacott now, the smallest staff for years. He was going out, so that we could not talk. But he got in touch with Charlsworth for me and went to see him in Bosford. He had not received our circular. He gave me some names and addresses and a copy of his book.
Then I came back to London on the Thames-Clyde which now comes into Nottingham, the Waverley running no more, as they try to kill the lines and drive people on to the roads. I went straight to West London, and found Joe Deighan there, with Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey and Klt.[Name unknown], all rather gloomy at the small meeting. Gradually I see the problem more clearly. Charlie is basically a British Trade Unionist and has no “feeling” for the disorganised “exile”. Hence Labour- movement modes of thought prevail entirely in their fully-developed form, and there is no bridge to the youngsters who has just left the farm [ie. to young Irish immigrants from rural parts]. But what should be done?
February 3 Friday: I did odds and ends in the morning. In the afternoon I went to see Seifert. The landlords have agreed to all our points but one. They want £150 down. Seifert strongly urged me to let him try to get them to waive this, and with some hesitation I agreed. The difficulty is that in the days when we thought leases were scarce I agreed on the telephone. Then we saw the “To let” notices going up all over the place as the “squeeze” killed the small businesses. While I was with him there were phone calls. In one conversation he told a fellow solicitor that if the other client did not hand over a business for £6000, he would apply to have it liquidated, even if that meant his third share of £3000 was worth only £1000! There were dissenting sounds from the far end. “We’ve taken Counsel’s opinion, and mind you, we’ve got other things up our sleeve that I’m not at liberty to tell you about.” When the receiver was replaced Seifert commented, “This is what might be called bluff and counter-bluff.” Seifert’s idea in our case was that he should try to get Coutts to climb down while I am in Scotland, and if all fails I can make a handsome confirmation of the original proposal. But I think there is little in it.
Tonight Sean Redmond did not go out, and owing to the sickness of Toni Curran we could not get Gerry. But we must be patient, considering the way it is. I did some microfilm work.
February 4 Saturday: In the morning not only Pat Hensey, Peter Mulligan, Sean Redmond, Chris Sullivan and Dorothy Deighan came in, but Colm Power and then, surprise of surprises, Jim Argue. He told us the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster want to send eight delegates to our conference. Over a cup of tea he disclosed the surprising information that they have an office in the same building as Lawless. It was claimed that they were unaware of this when they went there. I doubt it. I told him we would not accept any of that gang as delegates. He said that when the CDU started in London, Dominic Behan with that crowd, ten strong, stood at the door ready for a take-over. Melly hunted them. Larry O’Dowd says that MacDonald is running a big social in North London for his Cumann na Poblachta – but I suspect Lawless is in this too. Silly Larry O’Dowd is playing there. He would cut off his big toe for a five-pound note.
Afterwards we compared notes of Jim Argue’s remarks. That he gave £3.15 to our development fund was favourable. But he described how Melly was afraid that now Labour had done nothing, his members would join Sinn Fein or Lawless’ bunch. He preferred if he must have an umbrella, to have the Connolly Association. He also remarked that Rose, who is now a PPS [Parliamentary private secretary to a Government Minister] and resigned the Chairmanship, told them that they were simply a group of talkers and had “no mass following, and that’s what people look for”. On the United Irishman [The Sinn Fein monthly newspaper in Dublin] which is just out by the way, comes the first boost of Dominic Behan, from the pen of Mairin Johnston.
In the evening I was in Hammersmith with Charlie Cunningham.
February 5 Sunday: The Standing Committee met this morning. Sean Redmond said that Smythe was disappointed at the lack of press publicity in Belfast and the bitter feelings revealed. He had stayed with McCartney but in the end got “fed up with him” as he “hadn’t a good word for anybody”. So at least it is good that he has caught him on. They have established a fairly wide committee, and will affiliate to the NCCL in London [This refers to the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, whose first meeting had occurred the previous Sunday and whose formal Constitution was adopted at a second meeting the following April].
Barbara Haq was in the office – washing the floor! We berated her soundly, but to what effect? Nobody had done a thing while she was away. But Brockway is so set on getting the “House” that they are forming a “trust” to lease Pioneer House. The whole thing is fantastic.
I was in Paddington with Sean Redmond in the evening, and then left for Glasgow.
February 6 Monday (Glasgow/Liverpool): I arrived in Glasgow after a reasonable sleep and first went to see the bookshop. Bill Cave was away in Clackmannan, but Jean Sweeny was very helpful, and I arranged for a circularization [to publicise the “Irish Democrat”]. She told me of the Irish folk song boom, and I put two and two together. I called to the fine new Trades Club, set up with the aid of £18,000 from a brewery as is done elsewhere, but Hugh Wyper was having a week’s holiday in Ayrshire. Then I had lunch with Jimmy Reid [1932-2020, leading Scottish trade unionist and writer]. It is impossible to do justice to the warm-hearted reception given by these Scottish people – there is not its like, even in Ireland itself, and how it contrasts with London or the Midlands. He agreed that Travers should not be interfered with if he proposes to start the Connolly Association. And we had a long talk on the subject of the National Question in these islands, and I found his views very similar to my own, though I do not think he would go so far in alliance with the Welsh and Scottish nationalist parties. He does however see the need for regional autonomy before socialism, if of course it can be got. In this I think he is in advance of Pierce [Bert Pierce, CPGB organiser in Wales].
I spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone, and he said Coutts had been pressing for a decision on the premises and said that the owners would not proceed without the deposit, which I always expected.
Later I tracked down Travers, who lives with his widowed mother and sister in Buccleuch St. He has not yet found a job, and I suspect that his return to Glasgow is due to family reasons. She seems a very pleasant elderly woman – perhaps sixty – not very political but with the Dublin regard for old Jim Larkin. Travers and I went to the Buchanan – as Ferraris is now called; the brewery took over the restaurant when Ferraris retired, introduced monopoly food, monopoly prices and monopoly “music” on tape recorders – and discussed plans for Glasgow. He is prepared to have a try. He is now sporting a species of beard as well as the moustache, but I suspect it has as its object giving him self-confidence while he is unemployed and it may come off later! He is of course not an exceptional lad in any way and will develop only if he has the right experience and advice.
I took him out to Charlie Byrne’s, and Maggie came in soon after we arrived. She has a more responsible job now and is an “executive”. The goitre seems to have cleared up and she has put on some weight. Both of them were agreed to make another effort, and Travers asked for 100 papers to be sent him. I was so satisfied with the result that I decided there was no special reason for staying in Scotland – I had discussed the conference and the Connolly centenary with Reid and others – so took the midnight train for Liverpool.
February 7 Tuesday (London): It was drizzling in Liverpool, and the ground was as sodden as ever. There were crocuses and snowdrops, which Phyllis used to be so fond of. And the thrush trilling exactly the same notes. I saw that Fidelio was at Covent Garden so went to London again, and was just in time for it. It was a good production – apparently a revival of Klemperer’s. A note was left in the office by Sean Redmond to the effect that Coutts had been pressing again. I went into an expensive seat at the opera, which I think was probably too near the front. But there were hardly any left. Behind me sat a man from Manchester whom I heard describe himself as Chairman of the newspaper industries Labour Board, in charge of negotiations, and with him was a music writer on the Scotsman. Around me they were all black-suited penguins and their women with loud voices. The newspaper man hailed a friend. “The bar in the interval.” “I hope there’s another interval,” said one of the two behind, “surely there must be.” “Oh no,” said his friend, “I think they’ll play it straight through.” In a word all ignoramuses.
February 8 Wednesday: I was in the office all day. Quite a deal of work had still to be done, but there are now 70 delegates for the conference, but still no sign of Sean Redmond going to see anybody! Still, if he is not made that way, what can one do? A letter came from Alan Bush denying the suggestion that he had expected the Connolly Association to help produce Shields’s book. He had written to Shields again asking if the Workers Music Association would publish it, and had added that he was thinking of asking me to act as Editorial Advisor and that that might involve changes. I was not too pleased at this, as it may divert Shields’s fury towards me. I do not understand why Bush is so anxious to publish it, as it is quite inferior work. I tried to get him on the telephone but without success. Sean Redmond is extremely cynical about Bush and keeps repeating the tittle-tattle of the secretary of the WMA to the effect that Bush is “acting as foolishly as Shields” and much more in the same vein. Indeed this brings out the whipper-snapper in Sean, who delights in the “democratic process” of dragging a distinguished man down to street level. Bush thinks that Shields displays “hatred of the WMA”. My guess is that both the WMA secretary and Shields share a hatred of Bush, in which Shields is honest, but the other cunning enough to conceal it. But this is mere guesswork.
Another political cloud, already bigger than a man’s hand, blew up on the Cooley front. I had at the last Central London meeting suggested discussions on the Common Market countries – as a warning, and mentioned Cooley in connection with Germany, since he goes there often and speaks German. Peter Mulligan telephoned him. He agreed to speak, but went on, “I don’t agree with the selfish attitude of the Left on the subject of the Common Market,” and added something about supporting the Anglo-French “Concord”[the faster-than-sound aeroplane], that damned thing that they want to have crashing about the sky by day and by night – all to achieve nothing. It struck me – the man is pro-German, and otherwise expresses the interest of his profession, while all else is selfishness. Yet he abounds with energy, which he uses selflessly – is in Liverpool next Sunday with the Trade Union defence committee. Yet like this other “militant” Birch, his theoretical equipment consists of odds and ends, and if it comes our way or not, I smell trouble in the air. Happily I shall be able, all being well, to attend the meeting he speaks at.
And then there are other things demanding work. Michael O’Riordan wrote saying his school is arranged for March 11th after all. I said I would go. And Vivian Morton rang to say that the East German “Seven Seas” want to publish TA Jackson’s book in conjunction with Lawrence and Wishart, and as they want the MS by next February, would I possibly re-arrange my plans. I said that provided “February” was a flexible date I might manage it. And on top of all, the Fenians are upon us! [ie. the anniversary of the 1867 Fenian rising in Ireland].
February 9 Thursday: A letter from Art McMillen enclosed a copy of Paisley’s “Protestant Telegraph” which reprinted Tony Coughlan’s article in full [an article for the “Irish Democrat” describing a Paisley religious service, which was reprinted in the “Protestant Telegraph” under the headline, “As others see us”], incidentally accused us of being a “Romish” front of the Communist Party, connected with Gerard Fitt and Michael Harmel [mistakenly rendered as “John” Harmel in the original], who was “expelled out of South Africa on an Irish passport.” All of which not too bad! Coutts rang in the afternoon, and Sean Redmond, most embarrassed, explained that I was away. He asked if we were still interested and talked of offering the premises to somebody else. But Seifert was unperturbed. “This is just part of the war of nerves. Keep out of the way a bit longer. They’ll probably climb down.” I objected that we have a meeting on Sunday. “I’ll ring their solicitor tomorrow. I have heard nothing from him yet.” So we will see what happens next.
Into the office came £25 for the fund, all sent by Eamon MacLaughln, £5 of which from Des Logan. Then at West London Charlie Cunningham reported that Eamon intended to put on a “Fenian” show in September, that he hoped it would be for the Connolly Association, but that he was going to do it anyway. Were the two events in any way connected? And why make it so clear that he is to be the sole person to make the decision? Bobby Heatley spoke on the Irish banking system. There is no doubt he has a good brain and a lively wit. It is a dreadful pity he is so self-centred and lazy.
February 10 Friday: We learned that the Wolfe Tone Society are sending Derry Kelleher to our conference, and that Tony Coughlan is coming. The issue of the premises is not resolved. The solicitor will not deal with Seifert. I am keeping off Coutts. But I think this is all Seifert’s nonsense, and as there was no news by late afternoon, and it was too late when I tried to cancel Sunday’s meeting, we shall tell Seifert to go ahead, subject to two things – the right of way to a petrol tank on the roof being restricted, and the rates not being excessive.
Then I went to Camden Town Hall at lunchtime and ascertained that the whole of the premises of 284 [the new Connolly Association premises was at 274 Grays Inn Rd., London WC1] are assessed as one, and at nearly £600. Seifert thinks our share would be at least £200 – whereas Coutts was talking about £110. However, we shall see on Sunday.
In the evening R.Palme Dutt took the chair [presumably at the CPGB International Affairs Committee] and it was like old times. I found there had been a great swing of sentiment towards autonomy for Scotland and Wales, thanks to the mood of the peoples themselves. Page Arnot weighed in for Scotland, Cox for Wales, Rothstein for more attention to Ireland, and myself for all three. And the sense of the meeting was entirely with us. I felt very pleased at this development.
During the day Petra Sachsenberg came in. The MCF is shortly to go to Pioneer House, though they have nothing like the money required and they are asking affiliated organisations to sit in corners of the vast room until such time as they effect the partitioning. I can see it all coming to grief and the MCF, or what is left of it, asking if we can accommodate them.
February 11 Saturday: The month-old mild spell seems to be collapsing, though it is still not too cold for the time of year. The usual people came in the morning, Peter Mulligan, Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly, Sean Redmond and in the evening I was out with Sean.
February 12 Sunday: The meeting in the morning was attended by Joe Deighan, Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Gerry Curran, Jim Kelly, Seamus Treacy and one or two more. The question of the premises was discussed “at brave length” and it was decided to pay the £150 deposit for the sake of a speedy settlement, and I wrote to Seifert to pass on the news to him. In the evening I was in Camden Town with Sean Redmond. We met MacDonald with some ex-Sinn Feins. He organised a social for next Thursday night, but I suspect Lawless may be connected with it.
February 13 Monday: Coutts rang again, but I was out. I rang him back and he seemed somewhat relieved and promised to find out about rates and the petrol, which he says is rubber solution. The evening meeting was successful, with Sean Redmond (as his wont is) a little flippant about the development of policy towards Wales and Scotland, but Joe Deighan checking him and showing how important he realises it is. At the same time I don’t know what is the matter with Deighan. At meetings he mostly sits quiet, reserved and almost sullen, as if the task of keeping going made him feel a martyr; yet when he does express his view it is always sensible. Perhaps he would like to be able to shine more personally but is too disciplined to want to do it at Sean Redmond’s expense.
February 14 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went first to Chester to see if I could find anything new about the Fenian effort in February 1867. The castle is surrounded by car parks. It is astonishing that people tolerate these eyesores, except of course that to many of think cars are more beautiful than orchids. I came on to Rock Ferry, found letters from Daphne Greaves and Mrs Stewart, and in the evening went to the Philharmonic concert where there was a Rumanian fiddler, Ion Voicu, who did double-stopping with pizzicato in an encore to the Mozart concerto, and whom I then noticed from the programme was trained by Oistrakh. He was a quiet business-like performer, everything being done with consummate ease. There was a strange piece by Bartok, interesting because of the variety of unusual noises that broke the monotony of his repetitive unmelodic phrases, except in the highly cerebral fugue with which the thing begins. And then there was Dvorak’s G-major symphony, of which a good spirited performance was given. It contains, of course, some fine themes, but it seems that only a first-rate composer (as opposed to a musician merely) can create necessary development.
As I returned there were spits of sleet, and just before midnight a wild flurry of snow driven in the southeast wind. “Aha, back to the arctic!” said I, thinking of the last 28 years. But no. In a few minutes it was raining and we were climatically back in the nineteen thirties!
February 15 Wednesday: I replied to the correspondence and did some work in the garden. It was windy and chilly, but the brief spell of cold weather has collapsed. I rang John McClelland, who said all was well – and his paper order 400!
February 16 Thursday (London): I completed the gardening for now and returned to London, just in time for the Standing Committee. Joe Deighan was so much cheerier that I wondered what was the occasion for it. Instead of sitting glum and silent, he made useful points from the start. At the very end he announced that he was resigning as president from today. “Then I can get on with my ordinary work,” he added. Obviously this was a weight off his mind. So I was not far wrong in my guess as to what was worrying him. We didn’t argue with him. He will not be at the EC. We told him that the meeting will ask him to reconsider his decision and thus the whole thing can be deferred. Probably it is best to abolish the office; but perhaps Pat Hensey can hold office pro tem. Then I went to South London. Their erstwhile Treasurer has been arrested and charged with swiping books from a library where he was working with cleaning manufacturers. This is the man Bobby Rossiter said was a “head case”. And Seamus Treacy is running into trouble at his work. He teaches in a Catholic school but is not too studious over his devotions. This no doubt is the reason why the head teacher declines to inform him of who is his deputy; and my bold Seamus instead of accepting the proposal to settle it all quietly with the priest, has insisted on calling in the Government Inspector. To run further risks he wants to bring a pupil (or two even) to the Connolly Association meetings. I raised the question of parental consent when this came up at the meeting. But after hearing of his difficulties afterwards he decided to try and keep the pupils out of the way. I remember the scandal years ago when FC Moore lent one of his English pupils Upton Sinclair’s “Oil”.
February 17 Friday: I was in the office all day or most of it. I signed the lease, then tried to phone Toni Curran for the purpose of securing her signature. After a provoking series of wrong numbers I found her line was out of order, and had to wire. Likewise Coutts was in Weybridge, so I could not inform the landlords.
At 7 pm. I went to Bob Stewart’s 90th birthday party in the Holborn Assembly rooms across the road in the Mews. There was a large gathering, not exactly the same as those at R.Palme Dutt’s. The “oration” was delivered by JR Campbell who took occasion for a smack at Larkin which Pat Devine thought in poor taste. “I wouldn’t have said that if I’d known you were here,” says Campbell to me afterwards. But I have long accepted him as a “Rangers’ man” and see quite well that he will respect the Irish movement for its strength and nothing else. His remark implied that whereas when he was in Dublin Bob Stewart “talked sense”, Larkin’s oratory was eloquent but nonsensical. Of course Larkin did have his idiosyncrasies. I remember Gallacher [ie. Willie Gallacher] writing to me once that he infuriated Connolly as he gave the right conclusions for all the wrong reasons.
Bob Stewart himself seemed to have aged since Dutt’s affair, but gave a lively speech. His head is as clear as ever. Idris Cox was there. I think he has abandoned his old talk that Wales is “not a nation”, which was what he told Margot Parrish, who had not the stamina to keep going until reason asserted itself. Some people age badly, others hardly at all. Despite her illnesses Maggie Hunter looks as fresh as a daisy, and her husband into the bargain. They were asking after Cathal. Maurice Cornforth however seems partially lame and hobbled out like an old man. Jack Cohen is sprightly but grey. James Klugman on the other hand looks much better. He chased round the world looking for remedies for asthma, but was cured by his own hospital! I was depressed to learn that Pat Devine’s recent illness was cancer of the lung. He has now given up smoking. But the pain is still there. And he walks very very slowly indeed. I had a drink with him and Gloria afterwards. Palme Dutt was there but did not stay long, and of all people Aileen Palmer once again. I thought she had retired from everything. It brought back the memory of the days twenty years ago when Bob Stewart and Jimmy Shields shared an office and she used to be the technical worker for them. Mrs Bowman was there too. I had not met her since I used to stay in her house in Dundee, and Dave who still works for the NUR [National Union of Railwaymen]. He, by the way, told me that “Seven Seas” want to cooperate with the republication of Jackson’s book. So I must get the time off.
One thing Pat Devine said was curious. He had been somewhere in Eastern Europe and met Derek Peters of Belfast, a very “orange” socialist who after returning home from Manchester became interested in Gaelic and appeared when Sean Redmond spoke at Murlough [at the Roger Casement commemoration. Peters was the first secretary of the NICRA]. He said he had taken a marked dislike to him, and could not understand this son of a policeman who seemed to have visited every socialist country in the world and was so full of himself. Why should I be interested? Well, somebody suggested we ask him to be Democrat correspondent in Belfast.
Afterwards I read Bob Stewart’s book, of which Cornforth told me he had sold forty copies tonight, and I recognised the use he had made of material I provided for him twenty years ago!
February 18 Saturday: The usual people came in to the office, Pat Hensey, Sean Redmond, Dorothy Deighan and so on. In the evening I was in Hammersmith with Pat Hensey. He is incapable of contradicting anybody about anything and was telling me of how Des Logan felt that the CA as at present constituted and conducted made “no contribution to his social life” (ie. did not provide him with a woman), and how Eamon MacLaughlin wants a regular dance every month. I suggested that these critics give Sean a hand with preparing for the dance that is being arranged at present. It is quite amusing to see how the minds of people who are doing nothing work. Not that there is a trace of ill-will. They are merely too out of touch to envisage realities.
February 19 Sunday: It was wet, mild and blustery – the shape of the twenties and thirties still – so I stayed in till evening. Sean Redmond appeared in the office with his “mott” (a word which is presumably “mate”) and had her selling papers in Hammersmith, a task before which she appeared, if not to quail, to anticipate with mixed feelings, as Joe Deighan tactfully represented to her [Suzanne in due course became his wife]. She has good looks, is very feminine, has a sense of humour, but a cold flaccid hand. She will probably think the world of Sean, which will suit him, and possibly on balance suit everybody else also. I went to Camden Town with Gerry Curran, Joe Deighan to Kilburn on his own, as that scapegrace Peter Mulligan rang from Streatham that he was not coming. Gerry Curran was in much better form than usual.
February 20 Monday: There are now 99 delegates accredited to the conference, and the former Councillor Getlin said he was coming and wanted to bring a friend of his. Tony Coughlan seems worried about the EEC thing and thinks that the Sinn Fein and Republicans will hesitate to hold out against it as this would “mean a siege economy”.
February 21 Tuesday: Quite early in the morning Charlie Cunningham appeared at the office. He had taken the day off to go to the lobby at the House of Commons. He got one or two stories for me, which was useful. A strange letter came from John MacDonald to Sean Redmond talking of the equally strange social held last Friday. Clann na hEireann were there, and two of Lawless’s associates. MacDonald said that these two hated the CA leaders and would “use violence if they thought they would get away with it.” He enclosed a colour photograph of himself with Tony Maguire and these same gentlemen but asked for it back. He asked Sean Redmond not to take too much notice of his being seen around with them. He was feeding them false information. He asked that the letter should be destroyed. Needless to say we filed it in a safe place and took a photostat of the photograph before returning it. It reminded us of the forger Pigott. I advised Sean Redmond in his reply to disassociate us entirely from the passing of false information. We noted that when MacDonald came in yesterday he did not stay and wasted half an hour by chattering. He cleared off as if he felt unsure of himself. He may have feared he would give some game away.
February 22 Wednesday: There were further applications for our conference, so that the number of delegates now reaches between 110 and 120, with more on the way. I went to the Concert at the Festival hall in the evening. There was Haydn’s “Clock” Symphony in D minor, Mozart’s earlier B flat piano concerto, and Beethoven’s first symphony. I enjoyed it all, but found the Beethoven a little dull, probably from over familiarity. I knew every bar and what was to follow it. The Mozart was the most satisfying, but the Haydn went down well enough. These composers all taught each other; the young learnt from those who knew. Now they go to schools and all are the same, for they are taught by machines to be machinery. The players obviously enjoyed playing (the Mozart players) and I noted the quick unpretentious efficiency of the young man with the kettle-drum, contrasting sharply with the “beatle”–like fringe and histrionic gestures of the lad in Liverpool a week or two ago. I walked most of the way home. Again the mild weather has returned, with blustery southwest winds that I thought had gone for ever, and the fresh damp air which reminds me of distant youth! It is as if the bad weather remained till all my family was bumped off, and then fled away itself! It is strange that smells are more nostalgic than any sights or sounds.
February 23 Thursday: The latest news about the MCF is that they are now negotiating for the lease of the AEU premises in Fortiss Road, for they are moving before it has expired. So it looks as if the Pioneer House fantasy is fading. In the evening Joe Deighan was at the Standing Committee, in much better form. Leases have now been exchanged and we have the tenancy of 283 Grays Inn Road. I was at West London in the evening.
February 24 Friday: The telephone was ringing all day and Sean Redmond tells me there are now 142 delegates coming to our conference, which is not too bad [This was a conference in the Conway Hall, London, under the auspices of the “Irish Democrat” on the theme: “The Irish Question: Challenge to Democratic Britain”. It had a wide range of distinguished sponsors. Gerry Fitt MP was the main speaker; it was chaired by CD Greaves and its proceedings were subsequently published as a pamphlet.]. We are of course wondering what villainies the Trotskies will be up to. We imagine they will post their touts around the door and try to sell their literature. News came from Manchester that Michael Crowe was not coming, and there is talk of a rift of some kind between him and Tom Redmond. In the south Bobby Rossiter is in a tantrum, probably mainly from losing his good job and gaining a bad one, but ostensibly because the conference is being held on a Saturday instead of a Sunday. So there is always something! In the evening I was in Holloway with Sean Redmond. What I am afraid of is that his reduction of his sales to two nights will influence others. But what can one say? How can one object? Are we always to be tied to setting this example?
February 25 Saturday: In the morning first Derry Kelleher, then Tony Coughlan, arrived from Dublin. A constant stream of people came into the office. Then we went to the Conway Hall for the conference. The attendance surpassed our most optimistic estimates. The Mayor of Camden, Luke O’Connor, sat on the platform wearing his chain of office, McCabe of the Anti-Partition League was there (and spoke well), and so many people known and unknown that it would be wearying to give an account of it. Clann na hEireann did not show up. Fitt was late, so that I had to jettison my opening remarks. When it was over McCabe, a very decent fellow, said “We’ll get a bit more cooperation by degrees. But we’ve got a couple of big fellows with stiff collars to contend with.” Paddy Byrne, the ex-CPI member, promoter of the absurd proposal to send the Queen of England on a visit to Dublin, sidled up. “We must get unity!” He is the man who started the CDU to create disunity. “You’ve got it here,” said I. “Ah no. We must have one organisation!” Which we had, to a greater degree, before he and his friends started another. However, everybody was pleased. One or two of Lawless’s bunch seemed to have got elected as delegates, and took copious notes, perhaps for their paper, perhaps for (who knows) the CIA. And outside they ranged with their little sheets. Desmond Geraghty who conducted the Sceim na gCeardchumann meeting in Dublin where he tried to keep them to midnight pursuing the pure soul of democracy, was there. And a number of them all of the same complexion seemed gathered towards one corner of the hall in the mysterious way herds flock together. Much of it was honest leftism and there was plenty of that at the conference.
February 26 Sunday: We had the EC all day. Michael Crowe did not come. Tom Redmond says he is not pulling his weight. Olivia McMahon says he is in some kind of psychological trouble, can’t finish his doctorate thesis, comes late for everything and can’t pull himself together. He seems to have stagnated totally. On the other hand there is a leftist faction rearing its head, by means of a girl called Maguire who was with this useless little bullet-head McCann [ie Eamon McCann] at Queen’s University. I could detect some traces of leftist thinking in Travers too. Tom Redmond claims that Michael Crowe does not help him to resist it. I said I would go up and see what I could do.
At the meeting Cooley delivered himself of his own brand. The more I watch his political stances the more uneasy I feel. He shows a deep sense of uncertainty and pessimism, yet proposes the most leftist remedies – as if the weakness he feels was an excuse for behaving as if he had strength. And he talks gaily about not spending so much time on the “Parliamentary side”, asserting that the Trade Unions will bring about all we want. He is stumped by the question, “but who will legislate it?” He was very much on his own. While he does not stray too far, the straying is all on the one side. Yet he is deeply in earnest – maybe too romantically so – and offers and does do, work. We learned that Joe Deighan’s resignation was precipitated by his not being asked to take the chair possibly at the O’Riordan meeting. He did not raise the matter at the time but told Chris Sullivan that to take the chair on this occasion was “his of right”. However, he is in a better mood now, so that is that. Nobody wanted to take the job, so we left it vacant.
Of course Tony Coughlan had the news from Dublin. Roy Johnston is going up as a Sinn Fein municipal candidate. He cannot resist anything. But he is being taken up for dangerous driving, having knocked down a woman in an otherwise empty street. It is said his defence is that she was trying to commit suicide. But unfortunately for Roy’s case, apparently she did not succeed, and may be expected to appear in court to contest it. Mairin was in hospital recovering consciousness after a small operation. As she came round, in came the devoted husband with a bouquet of flowers. “It’s happened at last.” “What has?” “I’ve knocked somebody down.” “Oh my God!” And back she went into unconsciousness.
There was bad news from South London. Terry Kennedy is back in hospital and I imagine that he is not likely to come out again. For a long time he has looked like a ghost. Nothing ever happens to the scoundrels, but the useful people go down.
Pat Bond was so pleased at the conference that he offered to pay the wages of a part-time worker to help Sean Redmond out while I am making an effort to finish “Mellows”.
February 27 Monday: We learned that Joe Deighan flew to Belfast yesterday on the same plane as Fitt and his wife! Joe was of course delighted. Fitt met his wife in London and brought her over and to the conference. We went to the new premises and noted down what was to be done and cancelled next Sunday’s lecture so that we could do it. Toni Curran came in the evening, still coughing after the bronchitis. The finances of the paper are not good. Whereas an income of £200 a year gave us a slight profit, now it shows a deficit.
February 28 Tuesday: I bought a box of American cranberries to try an experiment. True, they cost only 3/6 a lb., but I had the idea that perhaps they could be cultivated in mountainy places where there is an acid soil and help some of the hill farmers the rat government is trying to root out. I will try to grow them from seed, and plant them at Stiperstones [ie. near his deceased sister’s Welsh cottage].
In the evening the dance committee was held, and I waited till it was over to take Bobby Rossiter, Shields and Jim Kelly to the new premises. Earlier I had noted down what was needed to maintain it, and what repairs are required. I then wrote a series of letters inviting people to come in on Sunday to clean the place up ready for occupation. Unfortunately, we have to pay two rents over an overlap period. But with luck we may make some money over the extra issue.
March 1 Wednesday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley and, finishing early, came on to Liverpool via Crewe. There were letters from Daphne Greaves and A.Taylor’s’s wife Allison to the effect that she had received the bequest last May and had acknowledged then, though I did not get her letter. Letters seem more prone than ever to disappear without a trace. There were books awaiting me from Kenny’s and Hanna’s and prints from the Chester City Library. But the seeds from Dobbins had not come.
March 2 Thursday (London): It blew a gale again, so that I could do little in the garden. So I returned to London on the 4.30 train, then going out to Hammersmith. Eamon MacLaughlin was speaking – “reminiscing” would be more accurate, but as well as Charlie Cunningham and Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly was there, and Pat Cronin. So it is improving.
March 3 Friday: I saw Frank Jackson for a moment in the day, and Molly Zak. She and Bill Zak think Belgium is not suffering acutely enough to be made an illustration of the evils of the Common Market. A pity she would not oblige! However, he is going there at Easter and will have a look. Des Logan rang and responded to a letter I had sent him saying it was time he did something. The success of the conference and the acquirement of the premises seem to have stimulated interest. Meanwhile some builders who are mending the roof of 374 connected up a wire to our electricity supply and blew the main fuse. Barbara Haq brought the Electricity Board and after an hour in the dark, light was restored. There was nobody unattached, so I spent the evening at 6 Cockpit Chambers continuing the microfilm of the New York Call.
In the evening Alan Morton telephoned to say that his youngest, Alisoun, is in hospital – at Guy’s where her brother is a student, and is puzzling everybody with a strange chronic infection. And he told me more of the familiar tale. What should we have? Motor cars for the masses, drugs on the health-service, or a decent humane medical service preserving the dignity of all who avail of it? Alan went to a Harley Street specialist, taking good care to be Professor Morton. Freda took Alisoun there. “I think you’d best go into hospital.”
“I don’t want to”. “Well that’s the only way to get the tests through quickly.” “Which hospital is it?” “Guys” “Oho,” quoth Freda, “her brother is there.” “Ah, well, Alisoun,” said the great man, “how could you possibly go into any other hospital?” So there she is, and David pops in when he can. She is assured “VIP treatment”, and when the great man comes round with his retinue, all the patients are packed into their beds, and the covers made horizontal, vertical perpendicular and flat, so that the substance and the form go together. It is indeed a commentary on social democracy that not the most far-going democrat hesitates to use what influence he has to by-pass its sausage-machine.
March 4 Saturday: The usual people came in, Sean Redmond, Jim Kelly, Peter Mulligan and Colm Power, whom I had berated in a letter for not attending West London. In the evening I was in Kilburn with Des Logan, who has reappeared again as a result of a letter.
March 5 Sunday: Some of us spent the day cleaning up 283 Grays Inn Road – Peter Mulligan, Sean Redmond, Jim Kelly, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Chris Sullivan and for a brief spell Dorothy Deighan. Bobby Rossiter, who had promised, did not arrive, nor Colm Power who had half promised. Still we got quite a deal done. In the evening I went to Hammersmith with Charlie.
March 6 Monday: There was not much in the day. I have a touch of arthritis and do not feel at all pleased, for this is the third day. And of course since you look perfectly well nobody believes you when you say you feel bad! We heard that there was an apparently authentic account of the recent Clann na hEireann conference in Lawless’s “Irish Militant”, which said that Cathal Goulding, whom they described as my “messenger boy”, had come over from Dublin to persuade the Clann na hEireann to cooperate with the Connolly Association. Apparently they passed a resolution that that should be done, London being for it, but Leeds and Manchester against. But apparently they followed it up in a half-hearted fashion and did not attend the conference.
March 7 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went into the office in the morning. Sean Redmond was in one of his more depressed moods. However, I was away by midday and went to Liverpool. I found the garden immensely advanced – the contrast between this year and last would almost tempt belief in the pathetic fallacy. The thrush is squealing on the dead cherry tree. The daffodils and other things are out – the saxifrage that flowers in June, even. The garlic is sprouting nobly and the colcannon has appeared. I sowed the cranberries in leaf-mould.
March 8 Wednesday: I bought a desk for the study, which will be delivered next week. But I found I had a cold, so later stayed in and prepared the Dublin lecture. It was blowing a gale.
March 9 Thursday: It was still blowing a gale so I spent another day on the lecture, instead of crossing to Dublin as I had intended.
March 10 Friday: The gale continued, but I had no choice but to cross tonight. I spent the day finishing the lecture, and typing it out decently with emphases in red.
March 11 Saturday (Dublin): I went up to 74 Finglas Park, and had only been there a few minutes when Cathal Goulding arrived. Cathal [ie. his cousin, Cathal MacLiam] was doing some electrical contracting for him and they went away. I saw Michael O’Riordan in the morning. The boat had been late owing to the gale, though I slept through it reasonably well. So it was late before I was through this. I went to Hanna’s to look for books and then returned to Finglas. Tony Meade drove me in to the meeting in his large car [A meeting on the national question organised by the Irish Workers Party at which Greaves had been invited to speak].
There was a substantial gathering. Meade had a tape-recorder – I had suggested to Michael O’Riordan that one should be installed lest the Trotskies wormed their way in and published a bogus account – but this was his own idea. Among those present were Packie Early, old Kenny of the Dublin Trades Council, who thought it was like “old times” to have me speaking in Dublin, Betty Sinclair, Andy Barr, Jeffares – oh! dozens of them. And on the whole it was quite a success.
March 12 Sunday: Up to 74 Finglas Park last night came Tony Meade, and later Roy appeared. It was 3.30 before we retired. But we went to the morning session of the “seminar” at which as last evening I recognised John Swift of the Bakers Union. Andy Barr spoke. Little weedy Pat Murphy who was with the Clifford Trotskies was a delegate from the Sceim. Meade had introduced him to Cathal MacLiam as a good man and induced Cathal to give him a job at Pyes. So the Republicans still have no political smell. Murphy tried to create a split by asking Barr if he dissented from my thesis of the priority of the national struggle. But he said he did, and left his interlocutor no room for manoeuvre. In the afternoon Deasy was lecturer. A young lad again tried to raise the socialism versus nationalism issue and gravely provoked old Donal O’Reilly by giving an account of an article he had written in the “Republican Congress” thirty three years ago, which O’Reilly declared was “all lies” and demanded the protection of the chair. I was not sorry at this episode, whatever the young man’s motive, since it provoked great merriment and made O’Reilly look an old fool just after he had attacked me for criticising the British Labour Party. Roy was at this session. The Ard Chomhairle of Sinn Fein was last night, so that he could not come then. Otherwise Cathal Goulding would also have been there.
We left just before the end as Maire Comerford had invited me out with “anybody else I chose to bring”. We had a long talk with her, beneath the high bookshelves that used to belong to Gavan Duffy. She told how she was at school at Farnham and learned all about the pageantry of Parliament. Then an uncle who was an MP took her into the Ladies’ Gallery and she was crudely disillusioned. While doing secretarial work in London she was forced by the anti-Irish attitude of her workmates to adopt a nationalist position.
She is very critical of De Valera who told her, “Some of our people were believing their own propaganda when I got back from America. Some of them still do.” She said De Valera came into the movement because of Sinéad O’Flanagan, the Gaelic Leaguer. He was always referred to then as “Miss O’Flanagan’s young man”. “How did he become a commandant?” asked Cathal. Probably through sheer ability, it was agreed. She has been analyzing the old Dail debates with a microscope, noting wherever there is a discrepancy and asking what was the difference between the real Cabinet and the Dail Ministry. She says there were five meetings of the Dail that are not recorded, and that the anti-partition struggle during the Treaty period has been suppressed. She says that when she asked De Valera what was being done about the Government of Ireland Act he replied that they were in touch with Devlin about it. She claims that when the plenipotentiaries were in Dublin just before the treaty, Document No. 2 was put to the Cabinet but not to the “Ministry”. Whenever a more secret or select cabal was required, a new committee was invented.
I asked about Alice Stopford Green and Maire Comerford surprised me. She considered that she had greatly influenced Collins towards his ultimate treaty position. She had backed Casement loyally, though her financing of the Howth gun-running was essentially a piece of English Liberal politics. Over Casement she lost her liberal friends, while retaining some of the Labour ones. She came back to Ireland towards the end of the war and Maire then became her secretary – not a very good one, and not a very continuous one since she was always being “lent” to national organisations. Once Mrs Phillip Snowden came over to see Black-and-Tans. She took her down country and going into a cottage said, “Here’s an English woman.” The storm of abuse against England was torrential. Mrs Snowden was an actress. She feigned a dramatic swoon, and later after she was “revived” there was discussion. In this way Mrs Green would be kept in touch with events all over Ireland – as, for example, when Maire Comerford was “lent” to Bob Brennan.
On one occasion Alice Stopford Green asked her to read the headlines of the morning paper to her. She began, “Seventeen auxiliaries ambushed”. It was the only time Mrs Green revealed her true opinions. She rushed over, snatched the paper from Maire Comerford’s hands, tore it, crumpled it, threw it down and stamped on it. The inherent imperialism came out. Maire thought there were two reasons. One was that she was a nineteenth century liberal who thought that British democracy would, given time, evolve to a perfect form of government by consent. Secondly her study of the decentralised old Gaelic state had led her to a fanciful parallel between this and a decentralised British Commonwealth. I forgot to enquire whether she used the word Commonwealth, which I understood to originate around 1921, from liberal centres. Britain was the “mother country”, as Tara was the high kingship. She wanted an enlightened Union, and the Free State seemed to give it, just as partition seemed a form of decentralisation.
She thought that Collins was “loyal” and never started any intrigue of his own. But for some reason De Valera gave Griffith a “veto” on everything. She had only met Griffith once when he came to see Mrs Green and was very impatient at her being out. Maire Comerford led him on the subject of William Rooney, one of those who first went to Bodenstown. She also thought Collins was very loyal when De Valera was in the USA.
We discussed Frank Gallagher’s life of De Valera and mentioned Tom O’Neill. “What’s Pakenham’s position?” she asked. I replied that I saw him as a British Government agent, a kind of unofficial censor, sent to keep an eye on O’Neill and prevent the most discreditable revelations about a discreditable period seeing the light of day as a result of a young man’s enthusiasm. She laughed and agreed. “When Frank Pakenham sent his son Tom here to school, he used to come over quite often. He mixed in the kind of circles I mixed in. One day in 1939 he called us all into the room and said there was a war on. Then he said he was in the intelligence service, or something or other, and he concluded by saying, ‘When any of you talk to me remember that.’” I told her about Oxford, where he became a Catholic in hopes of winning the seat for Labour, his ignorance of Connolly, and his arrogance towards a student of which I was a witness.
Then Cathal drove to Dun Laoire and I got on the boat.
March 13 Monday (Liverpool): This time it was a calm crossing. I caught the 8.5 am. train to Chester, and so, by slow stages, reached 124 Mount Road. The desk which was supposed to have been delivered today did not arrive. I telephoned. Tomorrow. There was a letter from Daphne Greaves, who sounds very depressed. Her lodgers, on whom she depends, are leaving her. She surprised me by saying that when Harry Greaves died his pension died with him. For he himself told me he thought CEG [ie. Desmond Greaves’s father] may have been mistaken in not so arranging things as to provide for AEG [his mother]. This made AEG very bitter as she had worked for him loyally since they were married and spoilt him, as Alan Morton said, by being “too good a wife”. That was one of the things that tied down and frustrated Phyllis. But Daphne has no resentment, and I got the impression that he may not have had the opportunity that CEG had. Daphne bemoans the fact that Harley Greaves is so unreliable that she has nowhere to turn for advice. And her friend in New Ferry is dying of cancer.
March 14 Tuesday (London): The desk came quite early, so that I caught the midday train to London. There I learned that Dennis Goodwin was dead – the one I always thought the best of an indifferent bunch on the fourth floor of Farringdon Road [ie.the Daily Worker/Morning Star office]. All the Trotsky papers are in full hunt after us. The Six-County Government have made all Roy’s “Republican clubs” illegal. So that our enemies are hitting back. The Trotsky and anarchist attitudes are merely crude anti-communism.
Then Peter Mulligan came in with a strange tale. He was telephoned by a Scotland Yard man who said he wanted to ask him some questions and would come to his place of work. Peter said he would see him at Tottenham Court Rd. police station. “No, I’ll meet you outside it.” But Peter went inside. He did not see the man, but later he appeared at his place of work, and thus it became known everywhere that the police were interviewing him. The policeman described himself as a “Detective Constable” and said he was asking about gelignite found in Wales, and probably (I imagine) planted there by police-activated lunatics to try to prevent the spreading of the influence of Plaid Cymru. Peter of course would tell him nothing and rounded on him for coming to his workplace. “Why pick on me?” He was then told that it was because he spoke in Hyde Park, and the police thought, “Those various nationalists may be getting together”. We advised him to go to the NCCL. And last week Betty Reid forwarded to me two letters correctly addressed which had been mysteriously delivered to King Street. The Post Office today wrote to me very very sweetly assuring me that they didn’t know how they could possibly have gone astray like that! [ie. letters addressed to the Connolly Association that had been delivered to the CPGB office]
March 15 Wednesday: Both yesterday and today Sean Redmond seemed on top of the world. I note this because of the discovery of the Planet Neptune by the deviations of Uranus [an allusion to Redmond’s having met his future wife Susan]. But at the branch meeting in the evening he snapped at Joe Deighan who had urged him to sell on Sunday as well as Saturday because “he was only a young fellow” – an example of Deighan’s unfailing tact. “But you told us last week that we must twist your arm!” said Peter Mulligan. “Can’t we twist your arm?” joked Joe Deighan, but after a very poor sale, Joe Deighan, Jim Kelly and Sean Redmond are out only for the one night. Thus the example I feared, with little to be done about it.
Then came up another issue. Mike Cooley had been invited to speak on Germany and EEC. Peter Mulligan had telephoned him and he had declared that he was opposed to the usual “selfish” attitude of the left regarding the EEC. These countries should get together, and the USA was the enemy, not Germany. Cooley had phoned suggesting another subject, possibly the industrial struggle at present proceeding. Peter was asked why he had left out the EEC from the Democrat advert. This, explained Peter, was to edge Cooley off the EEC. There was amusement at this, and Joe Deighan announced that Cooley was a member of the Connolly Association and entitled to air his views. Sean Redmond doubted if these were his views, but I had heard them in full already and note Colm Power’s surprise at his close connection with the ENV Trotskies like Hogan, whom “Cooley thinks are fine fellows.” I expressed the view that the propagation of views contrary to those of the EC was our business. Joe Deighan indignantly stood for free expression of opinion. I reminded him that Cooley was a member of the EC – and I could, but forgot to, refer to the all-day school on the EEC which he did not attend. Deighan then said his membership of the Association’s Executive made all the difference. I had said at least the EC view should be heard simultaneously. Sean Redmond then said quite vehemently that this was insulting to Cooley, and he was not prepared to assess people’s opinions on snatches of conversation, quite ignoring the fact that Cooley had himself suggested that his views might be an objection to his speaking at this meeting. Afterwards it struck me that Cooley, who excused himself by saying that he kept his opinions quiet and “only told me them personally”, might himself not wish to come into the open with them. I felt more uneasy than ever about him and am wondering how to prevent the trouble that is possible.
Incidentally, thinking to myself I had best read up on possible controversies, I took down a volume of Mao Tse Tung’s selected works and found a refutation of Cooley’s theory of absolute egalitarianism, written in 1929. So these ideas may come from some other source. Now we get some light on Sean Redmond here – he does not understand how theoretical matters affect policy, nor is he sensitive to those differences or their warnings. And of course Joe Deighan is all emotion and instinct and intellectually without a shred of discipline.
March 16 Thursday: In the morning the door opened and a West Indian walked in. Did we ever help other organisations – not financially of course, but with advice. We agreed to listen. “I want to have a revolution in my country, and I thought you would tell me how to do it. For”, he went on, “the premier of Barbados has sold out to the Americans. There is only one thing to do. We must be prepared to pay with our lives.” He then explained he came from Barbados but had just arrived from Geneva. He had been doing business on the continent. He was still a member of the Executive Committee of the ruling party in Barbados, and had no time for Grantly Adams, who I took it was the leader of the Labour opposition. The Government had spent a million dollars on independence celebrations for a country only as big as the Isle of Wight with 300,000 people in it. Now after the jamboree was over the CIA was busy buying America’s way into everything, and the policy of the new Government was decided in every case on “advice” from London and increasingly Washington. He had made the mistake of refusing to go up for Parliament, and now look what he was unable to oppose.
Would there be a General Election? Not for five years. “I am thirty nine, and I cannot afford to wait five years.” Bye-election? “I could easily get somebody to stand down. But if I go into politics what is a member of Parliament paid? My income will drop. I am a scientist and economist. I cannot travel on the continent.” So we suggested perhaps starting an opposition paper would help. How much would it cost? We told him roughly. “Very well. I will pay three men to do that – up to £8000 a year.” “But,” he said, “it is a pity we can’t have a revolution. Mind you, I don’t want to hurt the Prime Minister. After all his cousin is my Godfather. And he is related to me in other ways. I would like to have somebody appointed to control him, to prevent him selling out to the Americans.” I suggested to him that it would be a far happier world if men like himself were able to get strongly entrenched Governments to change their policies by means of quick revolutions that did not overthrow them, and then got back at once to moneymaking on the Continent!
Among other things he claimed were that he had run in arms for Ben Bella [the Algerian independence leader], and “never taken a penny for it”, and that he was the only man who could invite Cheddi Jagan and Burnham for dinner [British Guianian politicians] and both would come. Jagan, he asserted, took money from Nasser and Ben Bella, being American-educated, but would not touch the CIA. Burnham, being British-trained, preferred the CIA. Here was punctilio indeed. “But the great trouble,” he said, “if I go into politics is that when I am living in my own country I put on too much weight.” He had plenty already. He left us highly exercised over the character of the “national bourgeoisie”.
Last night Tony Coughlan telephoned saying that there might be ructions in Belfast next weekend and that somebody was coming to see us about sending an observer. The delegate telephoned while we had the Standing Committee. Pat Hensey was not there, but the other two were in good form again. He arrived after the others had gone and proved to be Sean Garland. I had met him for two minutes once at Cathal’s. He told me that the Republican Clubs, which had been made illegal in the Six Counties, had decided to defy the law and hold a convention in the Ard Scoil, Divis Street, on Sunday. They wanted me and Sean to go, as many British MPs as possible, and observers of all kinds. What were we going to observe? He could not say. Anything might happen. I roundly ticked him off for not consulting us over something he wanted us to take part in and added that I could think of nothing more foolish for an illegal organisation than to bring all its members together in one place ready for the authorities. I did not think that we would participate. However, I would see what could be done about observers. I asked why they decided on this action, and he replied that they felt that if they did not do something they might as well give in. I would prefer the alternative course of a legal campaign for the lifting of the ban, I said. He was throwing in his main forces without consulting his allies, merely expecting them to follow suit, and I was afraid they might split the civil liberties committee over there. He listened to all this quite quietly. He was here to get what he could, I presume, and an observer would be better than nothing.
March 17 Friday: Garland came again in the morning. I got him to tell Sean Redmond what he had told me before I told Sean my own view. Sean Redmond did not perhaps put things as forcibly, but his conclusion was the same. I then asked Sean to take him up to Tony Smythe and see what the NCCL would do. They went up and came back laughing. Instead of urging caution, Smythe had banged the table and cried, “That’s the way to break those bans! Direct action!” He was all for the NCCL sending somebody, and later offered to go himself if we paid for the trip and his EC members did not object. Meanwhile we wired the Leicester Group of “Amnesty International”, which is studying the special Powers Acts. Johnson telephoned and said he thought somebody would go, and I phoned Jack Bennett asking him to have these facts announced. Smythe was to meet Garland at the dance at the Porchester Hull [the annual Patrick’s Night dance]. Marcus Lipton [Labour MP for Brixton] was there. “I hope Tony Smythe is not going to get into trouble,” he said to Joe Deighan as he left. “Ah well – two weeks jail will not hurt him and ‘twill make wonderful propaganda.” When speaking to Garland I adverted to the prospect that Amnesty’s man would be hit on the head by the RUC, he replied: “We can only pray for it.” So their allies are highly expendable!
The dance was a great success. Smythe said his Executive had decided he should go, and leaked stories to the papers, and started arranging a press conference at London Airport to mark his triumphant return. It was made clear however that he was only going there to see what happened and report it.
March 18 Saturday: From reports all round there were more minor incidents at the dance than at any previous one, though none developed to a serious point. The Clifford Trotskies were selling their paper when I arrived. It subsequently transpired that the Lawless Trotskies had been there, and since arrivals were slow, had gone for a drink. They lost their positions, and after gulping their drinks came over to take second place. But inside there were a number of AEU and ETU people – Fitzgerald, Hennessy, Taylor, and others all divided between useless Scanlan and hopeless Birch, intriguing and whinging, and almost coming to blows – indeed coming to them in one case. Colm Power again raised the point of Cooley’s mixing with this leftist element, and I think he tried to “warn” him. Kay Beauchamp was there – her first time. And a profit was made.
In the morning the usual people were in the office – Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham, Derry Kelleher [a member of Sinn Fein and visiting from Dublin], Dorothy Deighan and Sean Redmond who took an emergency resolution to the Annual Conference of the MCF [relating to Northern Home Minister William Craig’s ban on the Republican Clubs]. Smythe was on the phone first to say he was uncertain of getting a flight, then to say he had been in touch with Belfast. The DATA man had said, “You come, but you understand we (DATA) can’t touch it”. Then Jack Bennett said there was no objection from the Northern Ireland NCCL [ie. the NICRA] to Smythe’s going there, but that the convention had now been “cleared” by the police. In other words, an illegal organisation had asked police permission to hold a meeting of its entire membership and had obtained it. Smythe wondered if he should still go. His feeling was that the action of the authorities was somewhat illogical and on balance he thought he should. So we said we agreed. Kelleher was in the office at the time and told us that Tony Coughlan was going [as an observer from the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society]. But he entirely agreed that we would be wise not to do so, as we would hardly be classed as disinterested observers and would be fulfilling the purpose the Republicans wished us to fulfil rather than the one decided at our own Conferences. Kelleher told me of the meeting of the Teilhard de Chardin Society in Dublin. He had been to see the woman who started the thing in England, and she told him that Lady Astor had paid the rent on their premises for the next seven years. The aristocracy does as it pleases; the bourgeoisie what is profitable.
Later I learned that Sean Redmond had got the emergency resolution through the MCF, and I went to Hammersmith with Charlie Cunningham. At midnight Jack Bennett rang saying he was afraid he had misled Smythe. The radio had reported Craig’s saying that the convention was illegal after all. In response the Republicans had announced that they would hold it in a “secret place”. Of course he was anxious that I inform Smythe, who may be going first thing in the morning if he can get a flight. I asked Bennett what about taking a message to the Convention. He was not too keen – it was an “illegal organisation”, but he would. But I did not bother.
March 19 Sunday: Of course thanks to the excitement I forgot about this absurd “summer time” and learned that Smythe had taken the 9 am. flight and was in Belfast already. I rang Gerry Fitt, but he was in bed. So I went back to Jack Bennett. A further statement had been issued. “The Government are wavering like a reed in the wind.”
In the evening I was out with Joe Deighan. Sean Redmond did not go out. He said he was very tired and I think he was. But Joe had no sympathy:”sitting on his arse all day!” In the Mother Red Cap at Camden Town we met Brendan Malone, now “chucker-out” at the Camden Town dance hall. He used to be at the Blarney. He bought us a drink, stopped to talk about the Labour party and Wilson whom, he protested, over-protested indeed, was a “genius”. I told Joe Deighan his strange story. Deighan says, “the republicans will never change. This is a temporary phase.”
Later I got Jack Bennett again. The conference took place. The Republicans remained for a short time after the others left. Four of them were arrested, including Tom Mitchell and Frank McGlade.
March 20 Monday: We learned that the men arrested in Belfast had been let out. But others were taken in, in Tyrone and Derry. They were expected soon to be released. We had lunch with Smythe, who described the high tension before the meeting, when all thought it would be prevented. He had gone to Liam McMillen who told him to go to the 43 Club, knock, find it locked up and go away seemingly disappointed into a neighbouring cafe where a room was booked. He did this. There were about 80-100 there, including Tony Coughlan, Betty Sinclair, Gerry Fitt, Tony Meade and others. Six resolutions were passed. But the preamble had involved the Trades Council. The “only sour note” came from Betty Sinclair, who objected to this – in my opinion rightly. They cannot involve organisations through individuals. And Fitt lectured them on going into Parliament and on other things. Tom Mitchell, always the firebrand, said they had made the mistake of not going up as Sinn Fein in the past. When he was arrested Smythe and Gerry Fitt went to the barracks, whose officer said he was not there, though they could see him. The second in command, who is to take over shortly, showed visible embarrassment – and spoke with an impeccable Oxford accent.
In the evening Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Chris Sullivan and Peter Mulligan helped in the premises.
I rang Michael Crowe late at night. He said that Tom Redmond was coming to London this weekend and the paper sales would be poor. The object was the CND march and several others were coming too. But when I got through to Tom he said he would be in Platt Fields.
March 21 Tuesday (Manchester): I saw Sean Redmond in the morning and he was more moody than ever. My guess is that he is facing an internal conflict. He has to decide whether to join the movement a second time. He is attracted to this very “sexy-looking” girl, who in my opinion, though I only exchanged two words with her, but from her appearance has a head stuffed with the matters common to shorthand-typists in their early twenties. Sean has not the money to entertain her and perhaps feels his prospects of “marrying and settling down” and maintaining her if there should be children, are not easy when he is working for the CA. So we will see how this theory fits the facts as they develop.
For myself I went to Derby and Ripley, then on to Manchester. Michael Crowe was on time at the meeting, the next arrived at 8.30, Tom Redmond at 9 pm. (after work) and the three young people who had been putting out leftist ideas at 9.30. One of them read out quotations from the anarchist attack on us and the IRA, and it was clear that all three are strongly influenced by Lawless’s propaganda. The young Belfast girl Maire Maguire was at one time being courted by the young scapegrace McCann, who edits Lawless’ nonsense but subsequently broke with him. O’Shaughnessy rang Tom up and told him that he will have to disband the Manchester Campaign for Democracy in Ulster. He ran a ceili in a Church Hall. The priest urged all present to join. They did. At the next meeting the priest appeared. Then the same one called at O’Shaughnessy’s lodgings and asked him why he didn’t go to Mass! “It’s been taken over on me,” O’Shaughnessy complained. He was going to try Liverpool instead, but there the respectable Irish insisted that he should have nothing to do with Eric Heffer! [leftwing Labour MP]
The main talking point in Manchester is the decision of the Guardian to give the Manchester Martyrs Plaque Committee (as they foolishly call it) £50 if they will bring a piece of Irish granite and have Dooley’s plaque set in that. The Manchester Guardian wants Lynch [Irish Taoiseach Jack Lynch] over to unveil it. I think Tom Redmond is rightly caught. He has no political astuteness at all, and the three semi-Trotskies are in his house all the time. His true place is among the jeans and banjos of the bohemian youth peace movement. But perhaps he will grow up.
March 22 Wednesday (Liverpool): I went to Liverpool in the morning, and one of my first operations was to unscrew the parts of the desk that was lying in the hall. But it would not sufficiently come apart to enable me to lift it myself. So at 5.30 pm. I rang John McClelland who agreed to come over and help me to get it up the stairs to the window of my old room, of over thirty years ago. It was easily done. Size, not weight, was the trouble. McClelland remained until the last bus. He told me that in Manchester he had found Tom Redmond very bohemian and constantly needing to be urged. As to the semi-trotskies, they would come in ten minutes before a meeting ended and try to introduce something irrelevant – just what happened last night. The bearded youngster had indeed rung him up trying to get Maire Maguire to the Labour conference and Liverpool transport before Manchester had even discussed the matter. So we now know more of them.
March 23 Thursday (London): I spent the morning putting the desk together again and doing odds and ends in the garden, which is showing extraordinary growth – I can only think of 1937 as a comparison to this winter almost free from north or east winds. Then I returned to London. Sean Redmond was to have gone to Brighton but his meeting had been cancelled. In the evening I went to West London and was gratified to see ten people there – and even then Eamon MacLaughlin and Des Logan did not turn up.
March 24 Friday: The day was spent painting and papering the new office, with Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham, Michael Keane, Jim Costello, a Central London member, and (later) Peter Mulligan and Jim Kelly, Joe Deighan (smoking his pipe) for a short while, Colm Power and Jim Kelly.
March 25 Saturday: Another day went on the new rooms, with mostly the same people, but Bobby Heatley appeared in his former role of carpenter and this was very useful as we lack carpenters, though we have almost every other trade in plenty. I was in Camden Town with Peter Mulligan and Jim Kelly in the evening, Peter in a wild and frisky mood, but in tremendous high spirits as behoves someone twenty-seven years old and without a care in the world. He had thoroughly annoyed Jim Kelly by unpunctuality yesterday, but today it was merely headshaking: “What can you do with Mulligan?”
Incidentally, Cooley rang up. He was to have spoken to Central London on Wednesday, on Germany. Then he changed it to the wage freeze, which I was not sorry for. Now his wife telephoned asking if he could advertise his speech in the Morning Star, and the DATA would pay for the advertisement, as it was Union policy. I have never known this to happen before. She also indicated his wish to secure the presence at the meeting of building trade workers. So far nobody but myself sees this as in any way remarkable!
March 26 Sunday: We were in the new rooms most of the day. Sean Redmond who was to have come down at 11 am., appeared after 3 pm., went to Hyde Park in a rush, found nobody owing to the rain and then disappeared again till evening; meanwhile Peter Mulligan and Joe Deighan were wondering what had become of him. I was in Hammersmith with Charlie Cunningham.
March 27 Monday: I did some work on the paper, and spent the evening reading microfilms. I am wondering if a dictaphone or taperecorder would help in this. At about 6 pm. there was a phone call. A bluff Belfast voice cries, “Oh, you’re a terrible man!” Who was it? Lindsay Aiken, normally anything but bluff. Could he see me? I replied I was busy. “But I’ve stayed over specially to see you.” “A pity you didn’t make an appointment first.” “Listen – I assure you – you’re in no danger.” “Why should I think I was?” Silence. Then, “Well that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you for months.” “I haven’t heard you.” “Well listen, will we shake hands on it?” “On what?” I asked, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “Well anyway, let’s forget it.” “By all means.” “Will you shake hands on it?” “Provided it’s done by telephone.” “Well listen, now, give me a sign. Give me a visible sign.” He must be “bonkers” as they say.
March 28 Tuesday: I worked on the paper most of the day and in the evening we were busy at the new premises. Sean Redmond had a day off.
March 29 Wednesday: I was at the Central London meeting. Cooley spoke. I listened with some attention but heard nothing I disapproved of, though I did note his disinclination to seek political solutions – industrial action alone would influence the Government.
March 30 Thursday: I went on with the paper. In the evening there was the Standing Committee. There is no doubt that Joe Deighan feels easier after his resignation as President. I think he came to London to shine in a bigger firmament and expected the existing luminaries to dim their light. He took a rather unenthusiastic view of our growing attention to the Labour movement and wanted the Association to be “more Republican” and appeal to the Irish in Britain on this basis. So there was some discussion on this subject. While lecturing Sean Redmond on the need to pay his Income Tax more regularly, he said, “of course it might mean that a week or two you might have to do without your full wages.” There was some sentiment that the Association was not engaged in as much public activity as formerly. Sean Redmond was as tense and nervous as a kitten – he is really a rather “highly strung” young fellow, a more complex character than appears on the surface. He used to give the same reaction whenever I praised Tony Coughlan!
March 31 Friday: I hear from Maurice Cornforth that Lawrence and Wishart want Mellows in the summer and Jackson by February 1st. Apparently Seven Seas have an absurd rule that all the manuscripts they are going to publish that year shall be in their possession on February 1st. And what happens if mine reaches them on February 2nd? They are in time for February 1st of the following year. “That’s the way to treat bureaucrats,” says Maurice!
Now to make things as difficult as possible, the Post Office says they cannot transfer our telephone to No.283 for three or four weeks. Joe Deighan says it may well be three or four months. They are incredibly inefficient and get worse, not better. An official visited him although his phone was not out of order. A few minutes later a miniature radio van appeared in the street, raised an aerial for a moment, then departed.
April 1 Saturday: We spent practically the whole day moving – or at least the old faithfuls did, myself, Sean Redmond, Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham and Chris Sullivan – with some help from Dorothy Deighan. We also had Joe O’Connor, who was very useful.
April 2 Sunday: Again the day was spent in completing the move. Sean Redmond and Charlie Cunningham worked very well, and by evening all was complete.
April 3 Monday (Liverpool): I went into the new office till 10.50, then went for the 11.05 for Derby. A notice board outside the platform said the 11.05 cancelled. The industrial dispute between British Railways and the NUR had resulted in some disruption. I had to take the Nottingham train and change at Trent, thence reaching Derby and taking a taxi. It was lucky that the paper was well advanced. I caught the 5.45 to Crewe (an hour later than usual) but found a connection waiting for me – a special train leaving Euston at 5 pm. Then I telephoned John McClelland and we had a drink and a talk in central Birkenhead.
April 4 Tuesday: I did very little today – went into the city in the morning and had a visit from Elsie Greaves in the afternoon. Indeed all I did was to plant some chives.
April 5 Wednesday: I did quite a deal of work in the garden and also cleared the front room downstairs – making it free of papers for the first time since Phyllis was taken ill. The account for the addition of her name to the gravestone arrived, so I paid it. Unfortunately the weather has turned cold, and a northwesterly gale is raging. So once again my plan to go to the cottage has been foiled by the elements.
April 6 Thursday: The gale only slightly moderated. But I was able to get into the garden for a while, and in addition actually began work on the book in my new study – the room where I wrote and typed my university thesis in 1935! I certainly never thought to work in it again, or indeed that I would ever again live in Mount Road!
April 7 Friday (London): I seemed to be developing a cold, but it wore off as the day went on. I returned to London and entered the office to see Elsie O’Dowling there and learn that Guilfoyle [John Guilfoyle, a CA member] had placed my desk where I saw it standing on newspaper in the middle of the room and had gone out to buy wood and varnish for it. Soon he returned with these things, refused to take his expenses and set to work. But that was my work prevented.
In the evening after the International Affairs Committee we all went up into the flat at King St. and saw Palme Dutt and Malcolm Muggeridge on television. It was an informative interview conducted for once in a civilised manner.
Elsie O’Dowling says that she awoke at 3 am. this morning to see a man in her room. He ran away, with two weeks’ pay and possibly £57 in savings for her holiday. She had left her latchkey in the door. She did not feel alarm at the time, but now has a sense of shock.
April 8 Saturday: I was out in Kilburn with Sean Redmond in the evening. He told me that he had met Sean Mulgrew there a week or two ago; and tonight we met the man who used to play the accordion at our social evenings.
April 9 Sunday: Most of the day was once again spent working on the premises. The general office seems very handsome, and Bobby Heatley was very active with the carpentry. He is thinking of getting married and Pat Bond has been helping to find him a house. I think he is obsessed with the sense of the impermanence of youth. He is about 32 years old. He has his hair frizzed up at the front as if he were nineteen, but alas it goes grey round the ears. He used to wear spectacles but secured contact lenses with all their discomfort, for the sake of appearances. And the probability is that from the age of 16 to 24 he was so active in the Belfast YCL that he missed his youth; then he tried to have it in his twenties. Perhaps now he wants to “settle down”. He is at present living with Declan Mulholland, who is making plenty of money in films, not because he will ever be an actor, but because Peter O’Toole has taken a fancy to him.
April 10 Monday: Not much happened in the day. In the evening Chris Sullivan did not turn up at the meeting. He is in a bad mood with Charlie Cunningham, who gave somebody a job to do in the premises which Chris insisted on doing and then made a mess of, and (Joe Deighan believes) also about his resignation, which no doubt Joe would like to think has adequately shaken the floor boards. However, the last was in an exceptionally good mood tonight.
Afterwards Gerry Curran and Sean Redmond and Bobby Rossiter came for a drink. Bobby told us why he had not been active lately. Apparently Pat Bond drives people home in his car after the meetings of South London. Bond has of course not the faintest understanding of the way working class people enjoy a drink and a chat after any work is done. Why should he? He can stock his own house with gallons of cointreau, which he enjoys whenever he feels like it. So he goes with them into a bar, gulps down a glass of beer and whirls off half the company saying, “I’ve a wife at home, and she’ll murder me!” She is as small as he is big, but I have no doubt she can be a wasp. This happened recently, and Robbie Rossiter was angry about it. “But what do you do about it?” asks Sean. “Your motto is anything for an easy life.” And there might be something in that too.
April 11 Tuesday: In the evening Charlie Cunningham, Peter Mulligan and Chris Sullivan came to help with the premises, the last still in an atrocious mood. Matters were not helped when Charlie gave him next to nothing to do, and wasted his own time sawing up pieces of wood in the store room. One would thank heaven for the serene extravert Peter Mulligan – whose temperament is halfway between that of Pat Kearney and Cathal MacLiam!
April 12 Wednesday: It has been raining since Sunday night and is cold with a north-east wind. The meteorological fools who forecast cold dry months from December to March, forecast a warm sunny April. One forgets what the sun looks like! I was met on the stairs by the woman below who told me that there had been another burglary; I think Fitzgerald (who lost £15 or some such sum from his gas-meter, a prepayment machine) and that miserable six-foot string-of-woe, Gilbert of the bas-fond, were the victims. This time the thieves are thought to have climbed walls and entered by a window. So I am wondering what to do when I am out of London, and contemplating taking the most valuable books to Liverpool or depositing them at No.283 [ie. the CA office].
In the evening I was at the Central London meeting. Joe Deighan spoke and showed some sense of urgency, which is good. Pat Bond came in and told me that the difficulty at South London is that unless he drives the members to the meeting in his car they will not attend. But, as I remarked, it is not true that if he does not drive them home they will not get home.
There was a conversation after the meeting which I have noted elsewhere. There is an article on the Trotsky “Irish Militant” which is by “Chris Fry”. “He is a member of ours,” said Sean Redmond. Then they disclosed that he and Jack Henry (speaking to West London tomorrow) were after our conference on February 25th seen in deep and friendly conversation with Dalton. There seems to me to be an ugly situation gathering, happily still in the distance, but to be watched.
April 13 Thursday: I spent the day in the British Museum and was glad indeed to get back there after all this time. I got quite a bit done. Then in the evening I went to West London. Jack Henry had been billed to speak but did not respond to Charlie Cunningham’s letter giving the date. So yesterday I agreed to stand in. Then yesterday evening Henry agreed to come. Instead of wiring, Charlie wrote. Presumably Henry did not get the letter. I had made notes but did not take them. There was a good attendance. Gerry Curran stood in with a talk he had got ready on the Irish theatre.
April 14 Friday: I was in the office, and later was in Hammersmith with Chris Sullivan, whose mood is a little better. Everybody was talking about the Labour debacle. There is only one point of agreement in the sycophant press – Labour must carry on its disastrous course.
April 15 Saturday: There was much work in the office again, Charlie Cunningham leading the van. He is an extremely good workman, quite remarkable. And Bobby Heatley was very busy too. On the way to the office whom should I bump into but Eddie Lander, the Scotto-Hibernian whom Peter Mulligan and I met recently in Holloway – living in Oxford, back in the tents of Israel, sectish and sentimental as ever. Today he showed evidence of being in the wars. He explained he got “hell of a drink” last night, got into a fight, and apart from cuts on the face was fined £1 this morning at Clerkenwell police court from which he had just come! London is full of Scotchmen, and by evening, after their football team beat the English one, they were full of excitement and fairly full of drink. But we saw no misbehaviour when Charlie and I went to Willesden. Not so mild were the English youngsters. Outside one of the public houses we saw about twelve boys of about 17, driving cars into each other, chasing each other with brace handles and huge six foot poles, breaking bottles and generally “creating an affray”. There were many comments from the Irish watching them to the effect that “if this was poor drunken Paddy there’d be a few police here.”
April 16 Sunday: There was the Standing Committee in the morning. On the suggestion made by Toni Curran on Wednesday it was decided to ask Jim Kelly to keep the cashbooks so that Toni could look after the accountancy, which she does not have time for. A letter had come from Tom Redmond complaining that “London” had stopped the joint Liverpool/Manchester meeting which was to have discussed “broad issues”, whatever that may mean. But Michael Crowe to whom I spoke on the telephone said he knew nothing of this project.
In the afternoon I left for Liverpool en route for Glasgow. The trees outside the house had come into partial leaf, but the garden had progressed less than I had expected.
April 17 Monday (Glasgow): I took the early train from Exchange to Glasgow. As I went up his street in a taxi I saw Eamonn Travers running down, his face now covered with a voluminous beard – never, in my opinion, a good sign. I stopped the taxi and went up to his house. There I gently prised from him information about what has been happening. He “still had some papers left” but would send the money “some time”. He had been to see the Byrnes but did not expect them to do much. He had booked the Trades Hall for Sunday last, but not yet for next Friday. He seemed mainly concerned with the group of Republican friends, one or two in Clann na hEireann, others not. One of the Clann na hEireann boys had gone to Dublin to ask whether it was in order for them to join the Connolly Association. The idea was abroad that Cathal Goulding had urged them to “make use” of the Connolly Association. And it was very clear to me that my man was completely oriented in this direction.
He had arranged an informal meeting for tonight. After booking in at the Cooperatively owned Grand Hotel (and noting the grand price) I met them in the lounge. McGinley, a young left-labour Scot of Irish descent, the two Republicans, likewise Glasgow-born, and several others. In the conversation it emerged that Travers had applied to join Clann na hEireann and this is why there were enquiries about him in Manchester. And he had attended the last two meetings. So now it came out that it is acceptance of his membership which is at issue with Dublin. And thus the total collapse of all effort to sell the Democrat is explained. The strength of the present Republican honeymoon with the left is that they can thereby attract people like Travers and hold them. So I had a fine problem on my hands. I decided quite soon to oppose any fusion of the two bodies, and I think I got it accepted, pending the decision in Dublin. I explained that I didn’t want to be responsible for any Republican actions and didn’t want them to be responsible for our socialist connections. Again, from Travers’s inclination to make McGinley secretary, I suspect that they are moving in the direction of a Connolly Association as a “front” for the others. And I have to decide whether to accept that as an alternative to nothing, at any rate as a temporary expedient.
April 18 Tuesday (Dunoon): I took the train to Gourock and the boat to Dunoon [to attend the Scottish TUC conference]. The weather was delightful, and the Firth of Clyde looked its best, with just touches of snow on the highest mountains to the north. The Queen’s Hall was near the pier, and in no time I had identified it. But what were the rules I did not know. There was nobody on the door. Everything seemed deserted. It was about lunchtime, so I went for lunch myself in the East Bay. It was only later I discovered the existence of the West Bay and found that this was where the bigger hotels (but not the shops) were situated and the delegates had disappeared behind a substantial mound, which took them very quickly out of view. I spotted Jimmy Reid. He suggested I get a press ticket, which I found quite easy, and promised to try to get me an invitation to the Civic reception tonight, if I booked in at the Selbourne. This I also did, attended a meeting addressed by Clive Jenkins, Jarvie and Kitson, met Bob Doyle of Dundee, and Hughie Wyper and later Alec Clarke. The atmosphere is entirely different from that of the British TUC. The left seemed to predominate, and the delegates were constantly praising the platform.
The expected ticket did not materialise, but again on Reid’s advice I tried to get in on my press card, and succeeded. There I met Dave and Mrs Bowman, spoke to MacLean, the conference chairman, and also Thompson, the Irish CTU delegate. Unfortunately, I did not know enough people already to make many extra contacts, but at any rate I met a few, Izott of the Furniture Trades, and Anderson. The chairman’s speech was strongly anti-Wilson and all say there will be a great left victory. I also met some journalists.
April 19 Wednesday: Today was as wet and miserable as yesterday was warm and bright. The bays were shrouded in driving drizzle, and one could scarcely see Gourock across the Firth. I attended a few hours of debate, and heard Thompson make a very good speech, with quotations from Connolly at the end. He was presented with the works of Burns. What a contrast when Harry Nicholas got up. This time he was sober, which was to the good. But so absurd were some of his statements, such as that “statistics showed that prices had not gone up as much as we thought they had”, that the delegates’ scepticism found audible expression notwithstanding his status as a guest. He also permitted himself a few pleasantries in relation to Scotland and gave them all a good lecture on support for the Government. He didn’t win much. And when the chairman handed him his copy of Burns it occurred to him to wish him a safe journey home. Strangely enough, nobody seemed to notice the double entendre, or perhaps were too polite to show it.
I got our reprint [of the “Irish Democrat”] from the Poste Restante and gave one to Doyle and handed a few others round. In the end however I decided not to wait till tomorrow merely to see Callaghan trounced, though it would have been interesting. Apparently the miners were to move an emergency resolution condemning the budget which was to be debated before Callaghan [James Callaghan MP, Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, later Prime Minister] arrived and thus commit the delegates before they heard him. And the Foundry Workers had refused to allow their resolution on Vietnam to be composited, so as to get another blow in. However, I crossed to Gourock, took the slow slow train to Glasgow, and went on board the “Royal Scotsman” for Belfast.
April 20 Thursday (Belfast): After a somewhat wild crossing, once we left the Firth of Clyde, I reached Belfast by 7 am. I tried to catch Jack Bennett at Great Victoria St. but missed him. After telephoning him and making a lunch bar arrangement, I called to Art McMillen but he was out. I went to see Betty Sinclair, now alone in the large office since Billy McCullough retired. She told me that she discovered that when she was prevented from speaking at Casement Park, it was not the fault of the GAA but that the Republicans had cold feet at the last minute. How she found this out was that on the way to Murlough last year Sean Steenson drove her up in his car. “I believe you objected to my speaking last year,” she remarked. “Not a bit of it”. The Republicans had told her that while they would be delighted to have her, they had been threatened that if she spoke they would never get the Park again. Even when she got to Murlough she was left off the agenda and the chairman was closing the meeting after Sean Redmond spoke. But one of the officials ran to the chairman. Betty Sinclair wondered if a fight would ensue. Then the chairman, a local man, said “Miss Sinclair wished to say a few words.” Such is the fear of communism.
She described the banned meeting, and of her remarks which Tony Smythe had described as striking a jarring note, there were of course reasons. She had objected to the description of the Six Counties as a police state because it was to frighten people. She told Tom Mitchell,”What a job you could have done for us if you’d taken your seat – a real Irishman there!” And she described refusal to enter Leinster House as “mock heroics”. “Why,” she asked apropos of the meeting itself, “have you always got to be baring your breasts and asking for the fatal shot?” And her reaction to the defiance of the ban was exactly mine. “They have no politics at all,” was her comment. McGlade she described as “stupid from the feet up”. And she had less time still for some of McCartney’s protegés. At a meeting of the Civil Liberty organization [ie. the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, which had recently been established] Billy McMillen had said that there should be free speech for everybody. “Well that should apply all ways,” said she, “You stopped me from speaking at Casement Park.” He blushed a deep red.
Later I had a drink with Jack Bennett who got me a £20 cheque cashed at McGlade’s bar, which was handy. He is extraordinary. Betty Sinclair says he is lazy. But he now announced that as a protest he was drinking no beer except on special occasions. When the Government had put up the price by 1/2d. the publicans had raised it by 1d. Instead he had gone back to brewing his own with the help of his wife, and made it for 3d. a bottle. I am quite sure that the real reason for his carefully rationing his activity is because activity costs money.
I went up again to Art McMillen’s and this time went to his brother’s [ie. Liam/Billy McMillen’s house in Ton Street]. The mother was there – Liam is the only unmarried son out of about eight, and lives with her. She sent a wee girl to get Art from his wife’s mother’s. They all live close together, which is a great thing. It is this which modern housing policies are destroying. The old lady is 73 and got the house in the year 1915. It then cost 3/6 a week and is even now only 9/-. But soon it will be knocked down and she will go to Andersonstown. When Art arrived I went to his place.
We spoke only for a short time as I had arranged to see Jack Bennett again at 4.30. He promised to put the suggestion that one of them should come to London in June [ie. for the Connolly Association annual Wolfe Tone demonstration in Trafalgar Square]. He thought there was a chance. We discussed Fitt and all agree that his head is in danger of being turned by success. But so far all is well. He showed me exercise books in which he was endeavouring to get to grips with political ideas. “The army,” he said, “would like to cooperate with everybody, including Communists, but there is a strong group of old-fashioned Sinn Fein in the way.” He asked if I thought Betty Sinclair would cooperate on a campaign against unemployment. I said I was sure she would provided they did not attempt to cramp the functions of the Labour Movement. For that is the danger. She thinks they are all very suspicious of Protestants, and that the Protestants feel lost, not knowing what nationality they belong to, or having any history or culture. But he did not show signs of this. He is probably the most thoughtful and broadminded, though the brother is more forceful. The brother has just been fined £25 on a charge of dangerous driving. It is considered to be if not exactly a trumped-up charge, one that would not be likely to be pursued in the case of some non-political person.
Later I saw Jack Bennett again. He told me about McCartney’s intrigues, which are not confined to politics. He was involved in a cabal to deprive Professor Montrose, a bluff but pleasant fellow who had been Dean of the Faculty of Law for years and years, of his position and give it to his assistant, to whose retinue McCartney now belonged, though it was Montrose who gave him the opportunity to give up his job as a TU organiser and turn to law. Seemingly the plot worked well. Montrose was terribly upset, went to India as part of a world tour, and died there. He was dedicated to his profession. His wife was distraught. Jack Bennett says McCartney is a social climber of the worst type and will not be on the NCCL committee here [ie. the NICRA] if he cannot dominate it.
I went to the Whitehall for tea. Who should be there but Sean Caughey [who had led a civil liberties group in the early 1960s and was now in Sinn Fein], who was genuinely delighted to see me. He thought the stagnation was over. Fitt was now “a little tin god” in Belfast and obviously Caughey greatly admired his work, though he had his doubts about his policy of going to Westminster. Apparently he does a bit with the Civil Rights Committee.
April 21 Friday (Glasgow/Edinburgh): I returned to Glasgow on the Irish Coast, which was fitted out with the notices of the Liverpool run, from which it was taken only that day when the huge car ferry replaced it. The staff were largely from Liverpool and will now only go home once in three weeks. Where the “Royal Scotsman” had gone I do not know. The crossing was much calmer and after a breakfast in the city I went up to Travers’s house. He was out, being on the early shift, but I had a talk with his mother and sister. “Labour has reneged on all its promises,” said I. “Do you think so?” asked Mrs Travers. “Oh, of course,” said the daughter who works in a confectioner’s shop. “Every day people ask why the prices have gone up when there is supposed to be a standstill.” I thought of the woman in Mackey and Gladstones in Birkenhead who said, “It’ll be all right if it does any good – but if it doesn’t there’ll be murder.” “But if Labour is defeated,” said Mrs Travers, “what Government are we going to have?” And that is precisely where the rub comes. For no more progressive alternative is in sight. It is Labour modified, or the unmodifiable Tories. It was not easy to explain this.
Unexpectedly Travers came back. He had a “split duty”. We had a talk, to the accompaniment of the invariable drink, and he seemed more set on the Connolly Association than before and offered to do something with the paper. But now the TGWU were wanting to send him on a Trade Union course! I had already made up my mind to risk the uncertainties of the Clann connection, while endeavouring to establish certain safeguards. And he seemed to have done some preparatory work for Sunday.
I then went to the Glasgow City office and had a talk with Gerry Greig [local CPGB organiser],who was interesting and informative, explaining the difficulty of contact with the vast electorates of new towns. He defended “overspill” as reducing housing densities but believed in confining it to satellite towns. I remarked that there was nothing about the Gaelic language in their programme. Why was it? “Because we’re a load of amateurs”. This was refreshing. He showed plenty of imagination in other things too, and while he might not be political dynamite, he was broader in his outlook than many who are supposed to be.
I then went to Edinburgh, having secured Honor Arundel’s address from Greig. I could not find Mrs Farrant in the telephone book, so took a taxi to Castle Wynd, right on the top of the hill. A girl of fifteen came to the door. Was Honor Arundel there? No, she was in London. I was about to go away when a bearded man appeared. “Alec McCrendle,” he introduced himself, and on learning my name asked me in, and introduced me to the wee girl who had suddenly transformed herself by changing into a blue dressing gown.
I accompanied him to [name in the original unclear] in his car, where he had a look at a garden shed he is thinking of buying for his country cottage in Co. Berwick. On the way back he said we’d never find Mrs Farrant and invited me to stay the night. So I acquired some Liebraumilch and after stowing safely went to the Trades Club. Jack Henry, the secretary, was a bullet-headed little man from Perth City. The Trades Council had written to the Herriot-Watt four months ago asking for permission to attach their own plaque to the site of Connolly’s birthplace. They had not yet given their answer. I got a strong impression that Edinburgh Trades Council were insisting on the bonus of Connolly and felt myself bound to contradict the assertion that his birthplace was unknown until they had “discovered” it two years ago. Henry was silent. But then he explained that a plaque would be expensive – would cost £100. I told him that the £100 would be easily got, for example from Dublin and Belfast and USA. But he had spoken to members of the ITGWU on his first visit to Ireland last year and did not think so. He had of course not allowed them any cut of the honour that was to be put around. This was shown by his next objection, which was that if other people were to contribute they would want their names on the plaque, whereas the Trades Council wished that in commemorating Connolly they should commemorate themselves! I therefore appeared to fall in with it all and see whether Herriot Watt agreed, but meantime to see what I could do to interest others. McCrendle suggested I see Wyper.
So we went back to the house on the heights and I had a long enjoyable talk with McCrendle, who is a cultured imaginative person. I am not qualified to express an opinion as to his capabilities as an actor. He had never heard of the O’Casey controversy, but agreed with me that possibly O’Casey was being badly produced, the wrong things being made into “punch-lines”. So this was support for a theory I have been forming, that we must not be in too great a hurry to assess O’Casey as an anti-national brainwasher, as some of the boys do. He told me that he was brought up in Glasgow in an ILP family. His father was addicted to the bottle and many a time young Alec ran in his bare feet. The father was a merchant seaman, and often drank away his pay the first few days ashore. He joined the movement in 1932 and was in the “Clarion Singers” and from performing Eugene O’Neill and O’Casey he finally decided to become an actor. He became Scottish organiser of Equity after a long spell in London, but is now concentrating on his profession. He was at the Scottish TUC but we did not meet.
He is a great admirer of CMG [Christopher Murray Grieve, original name of the Scottish poet Hugh McDiarmid] whom he regards as the ablest poet writing in any language today. He will be 75 in August and McCrendle invited me to come to Edinburgh for a show he is putting on at that time. He spoke of McDiarmid’s return to the party after Hungary, which was done with “characteristic panache” and at a time when he could carry out his intention with dignity. McCrendle recalled telling Gordon MacLennan of the decision. “Yes, we must discuss it on the Committee.” Grieve/McDiarmid was of course a problem to them. But when he was awarded the Honorary Doctorate Margaret Hunter commented, “Hm! We must pay more attention to him!” How slow people are to discern outstanding quality in their own, without the praise of the ascendancy. MacDiarmid is still drinking. He passed out at a party six months ago. Everybody advised him to see a doctor, who pronounced heart, lungs and liver perfect. The old man was cock-a-hoop, basking in public approval after all his years in the desert, and confident of long outliving his older contemporary, Compton Mackenzie.
April 22 Saturday: In the morning at breakfast the girl in the blue dressing gown, who said she had met me last night, was suddenly joined by another in a pink one, who said the same. They turned out to be twins, and damned similar ones! I left for Glasgow, though I would have like to have seen Brian Wilkinson in Perth. The trains were inconvenient. I called in to the Trades Club and saw Wyper. While he was friendly and cooperative, I could see he was badly worried at the proposed incursion of the Irish Question into comprehensible Scotland. I mentioned the plaque first. He brusquely dismissed all my tentative suggestions, without attempting to play them round his mind. There was none of Greig’s imagination. All was cut and dried. But of course I realised that he did not want to commit himself to something he did not understand. It was as if I had just heard of Connolly and he was advising from his long years of experience of the subject. I then introduced the question of getting the Scottish TUC to pass a resolution on an enquiry into maladministration in NI. “Of course,” he said, “it would be easy. But how hopelessly abstract!” I then felt impelled to inform him that I was struck by the absence of any action whatsoever on the subject of the Six Counties in the Scottish Labour movement, and indicated that had it been present, there would be a basis for understanding the significance of the demand. I then told him about the ban on the Republican Clubs and a few other things and he began to see what I was getting at. I had a drink in the Club, heard the announcement that as many as 100 glasses a week were being stolen. And the warning that glass-swipers would be prosecuted.
An old docker, Willie Anderson, told me about his son in the ETU [Electrical Trade Union]. His lowest week’s wage is £32. He gets an £8 subsistence allowance for living in Edinburgh, but actually drives there each day in his car. His wife works as a nurse. Recently he went down country and started laying poison for salmon. He had taken seven when a police whistle blew. He backed into his car and drove like a madman to the nearest hotel. “Take them off my hands,” he said, “at any price”. So the price was £2 a head – £14 made less the cost of the poison. Then the policeman appeared and asked where were the fish. He hadn’t any. The water-bailiff then appeared with his gun, and though they had to give him the benefit of the doubt the bailiff indicated that if he saw him in the vicinity again the gun would go off “and blow your fucking brains out”. Now that is the “affluent” British working class. Needless to say, the son will have none of his father’s socialist ideas.
Returning to Wyper, his anxiety was shown at one point when he asked, “Just what was your purpose in coming to the Scottish TUC.” It was not greatly allayed when I replied it was to spy out the land. When I mentioned the possibility of the reconstruction of the Connolly Association in Glasgow he asked, “Is that young fellow going to do it?” and added with marked scepticism, “He’ll have a hell of a big job.” What I imagine is that Wyper is of Protestant extraction and underneath has a feeling that this Irish question raises questions which are in the main the interest of papishes [Orange term for papists]. I may be wrong of course, but I have met it before.
April 23 Sunday: I went to Travers’s house and went down with him to the meeting at the Grand Hotel. He had forgotten to invite Charlie Byrne but telephoned him. Among those present there seemed to be the basis of a branch. The Republicans were conspicuous by their absence, and I was not sorry. I explained the work of the Connolly Association, and Travers who took the chair, or at least sat in it, called for questions. A septuagenarian Dubliner called Doran launched an attack on the whole conception and declared that Ireland’s main enemy was the Catholic Church. I replied sharply though politely. Then the other old people had a go. Finally, the young people got in, and from them came the common sense. Apart from Travers, who is somewhat vague, there was John McGinley whom Travers suggested as secretary, a technical school teacher, ex-labour moving left, and affianced to a Waterford girl in Slough. Then there was a friend of his, Alf Jamieson, a pure Scot, also a teacher but at a school; and a very bright personable youngster, Matt Forsyth, also pure Scot, who like McGinley wrote into our London office. He afterwards revealed that he was in the YCL. Old Symington was there. He used to be a member in Nottingham, and James Maguire, a Gaelic enthusiast who heard me speak with Oliver Brown during the war and said, “I remember you as a dark curly-headed young fellow.” And then there was Farrelly, who seemed fair enough, a man in his fifties.
My proposal, which they accepted, was that the four young people should form a committee. They did. It met a little afterwards and elected McGinley secretary. Charlie Byrne had arrived and rambled somewhat about the need for youth, and I used this to propose the youngsters and keep the old codgers off. But I was annoyed to find that after we had left they invited Farrelly to attend their committee meeting. I went to Charlie Byrne’s and Travers rang up worried. I tackled him about Farrelly. “But it was only a bollocks of a meeting.” “Maybe,” said I, “but the committee consists of the people elected and if you bring on one more why shouldn’t you bring on the lot?”
I spent the afternoon at Charlie Byrne’s, and Maggie Byrne came in. They have a tolerable garden, and a blackbird nesting in the vestibule. I had arranged to meet McGinley in the evening but had difficulty in preventing Charlie Byrne coming as well. However, I put my foot down and a friend drove me up. McGinley was there waiting. We had a cup of tea. Then he drove me home to sample some beer he had brewed (Jack Bennett is at the same thing) which was certainly quite potent. I formed a favourable impression. He was at the University of Strathclyde, but I would judge he is in his late twenties, as I think he was in the army. His father was the local Labour parliamentary candidate, but he considers the Glasgow Labour Party utterly corrupt and richly deserving defeat at the forthcoming election. He is well read in Irish and Scottish history and teaches economics in the commerce department. Charlie Byrne had said he thought Travers very unstable; he had told him of his coquetting with the IRA. So I was glad to find this more stable character. He may also do book reviews for us. Finally he drove me to Central Station and I took the midnight train to Liverpool.
April 24 Monday (Liverpool/London): This is the twentieth anniversary of the death of CEG [his father]. I was at a meeting of the IAC at King Street and Phyllis was telephoning till very late. It was a warm night and I seldom recall being so thirsty. So I learned the news first thing next morning. In the meantime they have all gone! When I reached Liverpool it had started to rain. Doing anything in the garden was once more out of the question. So I dealt with some correspondence, and caught the 4.30 pm. back to London. Calling in to the office I found Chris Sullivan, Charlie Cunningham, Sean Redmond and Jim Kelly, all busy and Bobby Heatley had made himself really useful. A letter from Maurice Cornforth awaited me. He had had a letter from Maire Comerford offering her reminiscences, which already run to 200,000 words and were not yet complete. “What am I to do with this prolific old lady?” he asked. I doubt if a lengthy thing like this would sell in England. Perhaps a sixty or eignty thousand word volume just might?
April 25 Tuesday: I was busy on the paper all day. In the afternoon Sean Redmond went to the House of Commons to try to secure Fitt for a meeting.
April 26 Wednesday: Again it was the paper all day. Sean Redmond did not attend the meeting in the evening. Jim Kelly, who had been pitchforked into agreeing to speak by Joe Deighan, got cold feet at the last moment, so that there was a general disorder in which Dorothy Deighan raised her discordant voice.
April 27 Thursday: It was strange to find Sean Redmond in such a good mood when I went in this morning. It was as if he had shaken off his preoccupations and was himself again. But not till lunchtime did I learn the reason. He explained that he was going to get married on July 29th, and wanted agreement to have his holiday in August. To that I readily assented, as I think Tony Coughlan will be over. But it was not till evening that the reason for his past moodiness emerged. And my most considered guess was not far wrong. He told the committee (Pat Hensey and myself, Joe Deighan had forgotten to come) that he had decided that after marrying he would continue to work full-time for the Connolly Association, but would within a year or two need more pay. So this must have been the internal conflict which is now resolved, and no harm either!
He got Fitt for Trafalgar Square but for nothing else. Fitt told him of the deputation to Wilson. Wilson boasted that he was the first British Prime Minister to attend a Patrick’s Day celebration. “I believe you wore a grand bunch of shamrock,” said Stan Orme. “Pooh!” said Wilson, giving his true feelings away “that was only because somebody stuck it on my coat when I went through the door”.
At West London in the evening not many were there, but it was not too bad. Gerry Curran told me how he had a long poem published by Ewart Milne all about his wife. He discovered she had been unfaithful to him. “I bet that was Galvin!” I said, remembering our conversation in Bewleys. “It would be,” said Gerry after I recounted this, “for it says that this man was interested in the theatre and was blackmailing her.” So we must await with relish a magnificent libel suit – if Galvin dared. Ewart’s poetry has only one subject, himself dramatised, and he should be grateful to Galvin for giving him a good drama.
April 28 Friday: The lease of the cottage arrived, so that is settled, once I sign it and get it back. Sean Redmond seems to have levelled out on an even keel. In the evening he went to the NCCL, and I to Joe Deighan’s lecture on Fenianism at Marx House. Present were members of the Connolly Association, members of the “Irish Communist Group” Clifford and his wife, an Australian and an Indian who left early. Such is the intense interest felt in the Irish Question by the British movement. The Cliffords weighed in on this, and Bobby Heatley (who had been in the premises and came down with me) said quite a deal afterwards. Fitzy was there – perhaps I should have distinguished him – and always able to draw attention to himself dropped a tin of tobacco with a loud clang three times while Joe was speaking. Joe Deighan was interesting enough but a trifle dull. “I don’t like indoor speaking,” he said, “it requires too much discipline.” And that was true for him. Afterwards he went for a drink, but Dorothy Deighan went home. Elsie O’Dowling told me of Dorothy’s complaints last night. “She is a misery,” said Elsie. And that was true for her.
I had a letter from Cathal who said he had had German measles. He had sent me a card to this effect which I did not receive. He is still going backwards and forwards to Galway, and his parents are coming to live with him in May. He suggested that I go there before the end of that month as he could delay their arrival by a short time. Tony Coughlan has several times written asking when I was going and pointing out that Jammet’ restaurant to which I have never been was to be knocked down, and to hurry [He had indicated that he would like to go there at least once before that happened]. He was also, I presume, counting on Cathal’s car.
April 29 Saturday: Sean Redmond and others were at the NCCL, but Charlie Cunningham and Bobby Heatley came into the office and got busy on the shelving of the bookroom. In the evening I was in Camden Town with Sean Redmond, who got entangled in innumerable conversations. It was as if everybody he knew was there to meet him!
April 30 Sunday: The Irish Democrat conference was in the afternoon. It was badly attended. Joe Deighan had played hell yesterday over a meeting in the Park. But now today he didn’t want to do it; there is a streak of crossgrained leftist opportunism in him, and he thought the way to boost the Democrat was to “speak brutally” to the British Labour movement, left as well as right. I was very tired, with toothache (which however wore off!) and found the general tenor of Joe Deighan’s, Chris Sullivan’s and even Bobby Heatley’s remarks a little depressing. A complete cleavage revealed itself between Heatley and Sean Redmond, in which there was no doubt in my mind that Sean was right. Charlie Cunningham was of the opinion that discontent with the slow progress of the CA had erupted against the paper, and that might be right as Bobby Rossiter regretted the absence of a conference. Anyway, I took the train to Liverpool, and left them to it.
May 1 Monday (Liverpool): The weather was showery and very cold, with hail and flakes of snow. This often happens after a mild winter. I began reading the text of “Mellows” as far as I have gone. But I must have a week in Wales. I feel very tired and “run down”. I met John McClelland in Birkenhead in the evening. He has a Manxman to address the branch [ie. the Liverpool branch of the Connolly Association] on the Irish Question. He tells me that Leo McGree is seriously ill with cancer of the stomach and is not expected to live long now, which is a pity [Greaves had admired McGree and his speaking style as a young man; see Journal Volumes 1 and 2]. Barney Morgan, he says, has become less cynical, but he notes that his political life is an adjunct to his social life. He collects acquaintanceships like “philatelists” collect stamps. But let John wish to sell papers when Barney wishes to go on a “hike” in Wales, and the “hike” wins. His wife? A quiet long-suffering woman, happy at home as Barney is happy to get out of the house. Pat Doherty, he says, is also doing better.
May 2 Tuesday: The day seemed brighter and warmer than the forecast promised, though there was a strong northwest wind, and periodical gathering of cloud. I went to Crewe and Derby, noting the “passenger census” in progress, which no doubt heralds a substantial reduction in the services, a few closed stations and “sites for the boys”. The country looked very bright and pleasant. Two or three months ago the taxi-man told me of attempts to knock down a concrete cuboid structure outside Derby Station. It had defied the efforts of a contractor for several months. He had offered to do the job for £15,000 and had gone bankrupt after firing shots which broke windows but did not affect it. It was the above-ground part of a war-time strong-room which was never used. It showed some signs of wear today, but presumably the new contractor is working on cost plus! When I got back to Liverpool a violent hailstorm was in progress, the ice covering the streets to the depth of two inches. Despite the expense (and the day having been cheap) I took a taxi through the tunnel.
May 3 Wednesday: What weather! Five different kinds in a day. First huge hailstones dropping out of a northwest wind. Then clear skies with a northerly wind and damned cold. Then cloud and an east wind, quite fresh. Then broken skies with a south-west wind – still cold. Finally pouring rain and half a gale from the southeast! The rain was pouring and the gale blowing while the telephone weather forecast was still busy promising a fine dry night! I read a bit more of the chapters done already, and that was about all. But I am noting things to be checked.
May 4 Thursday: It was not quite so cold today – reached 50’F indeed. I put up a further arch behind the kitchen garden and sowed climbing beans. I finished reading what I had done, and noted the superiority of the work done before Phyllis was ill. I have quite a deal of leeway to make up.
May 5 Friday: The weather is still wild and wet and I can’t see myself going away yet. I did a little more work on the book, but have not yet “got into it.”
May 6 Saturday: More bad weather. Thunder, hail, and wind, and nearly as cold. Again I put in a few hours, and have started to “bite”. As a result of comparing Mrs Woods’s with Pax Whelan’s reminiscences I came to the conclusion that her journeys in November 1921 must have been concerned with the disposal of the arms landed by the Freda. The dates are extremely significant. This may mean dispensing with a whole series of visits all over Ireland – if I can only find one who confirms that Mrs Woods visited him on account of arms. I was wondering about Tess O’Shea in Abergavenny.
May 7 Sunday: At last the advantage of immersing myself like this has begun to tell. I must have got in twelve hours constructing a reference system for future enquiries, and I have formed another conclusion, namely that the unsigned reports written on an italic typewriter among the O’Malley papers, may be composed by Chas McGuinness – despite the fact that their degree of accomplishment may seem greater than could be expected of him. His book “Nomad” however proves he could write and O’Malley’s suggestion that they may be Boland’s or Briscoe’s are vitiated by the fact that these are referred to in the third person, though that is not decisive. It is an interesting theory, to check tomorrow.
May 8 Monday: I rather went off the McGuinness theory when I looked at some dates and expect to have quite a lot of collation to do. The German end is certainly most confusing.
I telephoned Mrs Stewart who had greatly enjoyed her trip to Palestine in a Norwegian ship. The weather was slightly better but still cloudy and chilly.
May 9 Tuesday: Today was the first reasonably fine day – though cold at night. I spoke to Cathal on the phone. He has erected a workshop for his father already. I had intended to go to the cottage today, but didn’t feel up to it. Then I thought of tomorrow, but found I had no spanner to adjust the bicycle saddle. So I decided to carry on here, which meant delaying my visit to Dublin, as I want to get a few days in the country first.
There was an important advance today. I had noticed before the letter from Austin Stack to Liam Mellows in August 1921 about sights or nights. It suddenly occurred to me to connect this with Ernie O’Malley’s story of Mellows’ telling his colleagues at the Four Courts about a visit to Germany and showing the binoculars given him by the firm of “Leiss”. This, I decided, must be Leitz, not Zeiss, for I remember buying a Leitz microscope in about 1929/30 – for £3.10! Mellows had a German pocket-book printed in Hanover. So there is a chance he was in Germany during the truce! I must ask Eamon Martin about this.
May 10 Wednesday: I divided the day between card-index making and cutting wood to make new bookshelves. It was of course the first anniversary of Phyllis’s death. The weather turned fine and warm, but without much sunshine. Still the effect is startling. I had a drink with John McClelland in the evening. He tells me Cath MacLoughlin is working in a hotel in Llandudno. All her family are away and all are useless. The youngest is 20 and wears his hair down to his shoulders and won’t work. She has a flat in the house at 62 Waterloo Road. Pat is living in Church St., Birkenhead, bemoaning the fact that he didn’t get his job in Corby so that he would get the £5 a week subsistence allowance, in pursuit of which he wrecked his marriage twice. And on top of it all he is talking about marrying Cath again for the third time!
May 11 Thursday: I had toyed with the idea of a trip to the cottage, and might have gone there but for an early shower. Instead I spent most of the day on the shelving, which I hope will accommodate many books. I have taken rather more trouble than usual, so that the thing is erected on its own feet and does not require to attach to anything. There is no sign of Mrs Phillips or of “Harry” the gardener. So this means I have had to mow lawns and generally tidy up, which is time-consuming. I rang Cathal and arranged to go there in about ten days time.
May 12 Friday (London): I cleared things up a bit in the morning, then took the 2.30 to London. I did not go to the office but straight down to the International Affairs Committee meeting, where I learned that Dutt, who has been in hospital with some form of phlebitis, was now back at home but is not yet well. It is a tragedy that that brain could not be housed in a lustier body. There was a report of a meeting in Carlsbad where the Irish Workers Party and Northern Ireland Communist Party were present, and let though a resolution which could be interpreted as accepting partition. Of course nothing was further from their minds. I had a drink afterwards with Harry Bourne and Kay Beauchamp. I said that perhaps when history was written we might find there were circumstantial excuses for Chinese extravagances. “I’ll never forgive them,” says Harry. “They’ve wasted too much time, creating divisions and such like.” But Kay Beauchamp was more lenient. “You are making the mistake that Khruschaev made about Stalin. He didn’t view him historically.” As he departed Bourne assured me he had not “forgotten” about the meeting in Birmingham. He also said that Lindsay Aiken was sending him five letters a week, making an elaborate fantasy of accusations in which I figured prominently. He has a few cronies round him. Harry Bourne has indicated that all future correspondence will be put in the wastepaper basket.
May 13 Saturday: I started on the June issue – but Tony Coughlan sent word that his copy will not be here till Monday. Cathal told Sean Redmond that he had appeared on television on an anti-EEC panel and was in the midst of tremendous activity. Cathal may be coming to the Trafalgar Square meeting to represent the Wolfe Tone Society. He also requested Sean Redmond to write to the Society in Irish, which they are using increasingly in their affairs. Whether they should do this before they have brought the Northerners in is doubtful. But the main thing is not to go too far. When the language is under such assault it is impossible to counsel caution in its defence.
In the day the usual people came, and in the evening I was in Kilburn with Joe Deighan, now seemingly in quite a good mood. Chris Sullivan on the other hand is in the midst of a fit of gloom.
May 14 Sunday: The General Purposes Committee was held in the morning, with Pat Bond, Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly, Bobby Rossiter and Joe Deighan. It was quite useful. The tendency I had already detected at the conference was present, but I was prepared for it. In essence it was to retreat from the attempt to win British Labour and the Irish to remain in their own camp. I think we won general conviction for keeping on. The treachery of Wilson and the Labour debacle is a political experience most of our young people have never had before, and I told them about 1931. I remember it well.
The rain continued all day, so I worked on the paper, then on the premises. I understood from Joe Deighan that the slight “tabloidization” of the paper has met with approval. Certainly the sales have been distinctly better this month.
May 15 Monday: I continued with the paper, but Tony Coughlan’s stuff did not arrive. Apparently TCD is observing Whitsun, and not the Government’s new-fangled spring holiday copied from England. All I could do was get on with the paper as well as possible, and hope something comes tomorrow. In the evening a good crowd came in to help with the premises – Charlie Cunningham, Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly, Sean Redmond himself and one or two more. And Sean Nolan called in during the day. The discussion on Wales and Scotland had not come off. In the early evening only Joe Deighan, Sean Redmond and myself were at the committee. Chris Sullivan is in a queer mood; Bobby Rossiter is not much better. So we decided to try and get new blood, which meant Brendan Redmond (Sean’s young brother), Andy Barr’s son of the same name, and one or two more, including possibly Bobby Heatley, now more interested in things.
May 16 Tuesday: Tony Coughlan’s stuff came at last, so that I was able to do most of the paper and get it off. Once again there was a good crowd in the office in the evening.
May 17 Wednesday (Liverpool): I did a few odd jobs, then caught the 11 am. to Liverpool. Once there I got busy on the bookshelves and completed the job. The weather has turned as cold as ever. The trees on Borough Road and Bedford Drive have not a leaf on them – I think they are black poplars.
May 18 Thursday: I was busy indexing all day. But in the evening I went to the Connolly Association meeting in Liverpool. Those present included John McClelland, J.Roose Williams, Barney Morgan, Eric Gormley and Sean Butler who came in late. The speaker was a young Manxman from the school of Technology, called Stowell [Brian Stowell, 1937-2019, Manx linguist, physicist and broadcaster]. He would be close to 30 and has his children speaking Manx. He says there is still one native speaker in it. A man from the Celtic League was there. He gave me their literature, but while I am sympathetic I do not approve of their aim of a “Federal Europe”, which to my mind has nothing to do with the case. European cooperation is what we want in our time, and within it national liberation. So I did not join – not that I would regard it as a matter of principle not to do so, but I disagree with that.
After it was over, Roose told me about having objected to Bert Pierce’s statement about the Rhondda by-election. He would have voted for Plaid Cymru. He wrote to Pierce and was asked to attend the Welsh Committee [ie. of the CPGB] in Cardiff. “I had to give an account of myself,” he said. “I’m sure,” said I, “you gave as good as you got.” “As good as I got, indeed? I gave better than I got!”
He told me that since Gwynfor Evans was returned [as Plaid Cymru MP] every Welshman feels he can stand up a little straighter. He says the country is reviving, and I was very pleased.
With John McClelland and myself on the underground came Stowell. He lives in King’s Lane, not far from where Hodge used to live. I told them how when I was 19, Alan Hodge and I got copies of O’Growney’s Gaelic Grammar from the ’98 shop up Scotland Road. Now he is editing “History Today” from a very “Establishment” angle. It was Robert Graves who ruined him, I think. The old IRA man wanted us to “reopen the case” of the Manchester Martyrs! An idea, though.
May 19 Friday (London): I spent most of the day on the book, but took the 6.30 to London. I called on Elsie O’Dowling about the new Committee members.
May 20 Saturday (Liverpool): I called in to the office in the morning and found Charlie Cunningham there with a huge squad, and Sean Redmond in the office. The paper has gone well, but the weather is murder. Then I returned to Liverpool with another load of books.
May 21 Sunday: There was a phone call from John McClelland to the effect that Leo McGree had died. The funeral is expected to be on Tuesday. I had hoped to go to the cottage then, but the weather is wild, wet and cold. So there goes another light out.
I remember McGree first when there were ructions in the University Socialist Society [See Volume 2]. Riddell had brought him there. I think Peter Evans was all for him, but Bill Hamling [later a Labour MP] squashed it. He had been in the thick of the Birkenhead Unemployed disturbances a year or two previously and was arrested when after a long wait in the traffic he incautiously put his head from out of the tarpaulin of the potato cart that was conveying him privily to Ormskirk. After that he did much agitation on the docks. I recall him at a meeting at Birkenhead Park. It must have been around the time of the “Silver Jubilee”. He was talking about the associates of the King of England at his celebration. They included the Maharajah of Patiala, whose robes Leo graphically described. He damned the monarchy by its associates. But he added, “My father was only an ignorant Irishman. But he would never have a Union Jack in the house. For he said wherever that flag flew … ” Then I used to meet him in Southampton, where I did a bit of speaking and he appeared by a series of coincidences the very days I was there. This happened on several occasions. He was John Riddell’s hero – but a bad hero for a student. I recall the time he thought his letters were being opened, and his wife filled a letter with pepper, and twisted a piece of elastic round a couple of matchsticks. The letter was posted to herself. But alas, it was not opened, and she forgot her own handwriting and the room was filled with pepper.
John McClelland said that Barney Morgan was going and would give me a lift. But I think I will go myself. I finished the preliminary work and can now go to Dublin.
May 22 Monday: It was another wild wet showery day. Mrs Phillips is in hospital with asthma. There is no sign of “Harry”. So I bought some clippers that you can work without bending down to it. Not that much can be done in the wet and the cold. This reminds me somewhat of the May of 1928, and the summer after it was not too bad. But it should begin to take up now. Travelling in the bus I was surprised to see how many bushes (including the rhododendron at 124 Mount Road) have not blossomed. The buds must have been nipped by frost, and the clematis and hydrangea show serious leaf damage. I spoke on the phone to Cathal at night.
May 23 Tuesday: I went to Leo McGree’s funeral and arrived (delayed by more heavy rain) while Gollan was speaking [John Gollan, CPGB general secretary]. It was a gathering totally unlike those at Golders Green. “That’s a big do,” said the taximan when he saw the long row of cars, “Who is it?” I told him. “Dear me! I used to listen to him at Islington Square.” In the courtyard – which I remembered surprisingly little of, though Phyllis was brought there only a year ago – were hundreds of building workers, all with Irish faces, some in overalls with rulers sliding out, boys in jeans and denim jackets, all in working clothes. I saw John Gibson there. He said he was well, but he looked very pale. Arnison on the other hand was healthy enough to joke about Tom Redmond’s boulder, which Gibson could not. I was told Barney Morgan and Pat MacLoughlin were there, but I did not see them.
When I got back a character from the probate arrived. He was arguing the point with McAnalty that the valuation of the house was too low. I told him that he got a professional to do it. So he said he would argue the point with him also! The later part of the day, though windy, was dry and I got the lawns cut.
May 24 Wednesday: I pottered round the place, prepared material for checking in Ireland, and dodged the incessant showers of rain. Finally I boarded the Munster and had a meal with a man in his late sixties who proved to be of farming stock on the Fylde. He recalled as a boy attending the sheep round-ups in the village of Mardale, now entirely submerged by those devils in London, parish church, market place, everything. The farmer and their dogs drove all the sheep from the mountains into Mardale. There they spent three days checking and marking. He said there was no accommodation. The men slept rough. And whether this was around lambing time (which seems odd) I did not quite understand. He spoke of whole nights spent drinking whiskey, but then going out to attend to any sheep that were in difficulties. He spoke of Kirkby Londsdale (and pronounced it Kirby without the K, which is what they do at the “new town” outside Liverpool). There was an old horse-coach which used to be used to take visitors round the Lake District. His family had a grouse shoot, and he recalls hearing the guns being fired at Lancaster. “The war must be over,” his family said. It would be towards the end of October 1918 – possibly before the armistice was granted. The local people filled the old coach with hay and straw and it was dragged round the market place ablaze. I was interested in this for when Richard Greaves [a paternal granduncle?] got a job in Whitehaven, CEG used to visit him, and he often described cycling round Kirkby Lonsdale. That would be up to twenty years earlier than that again.
May 25 Thursday (Dublin): I arrived in Dublin and came up to Cathal’s. Wind, showers and cold were again the order of the day. I met Tony Coughlan at midday, and from then on till late a night I seemed to do nothing but sit drinking. Cathal Goulding appeared and Tom Gill of Sinn Fein. Tony Coughlan has worked up a great campaign against the Common Market. He told me how Tully is the strongest anti-EEC man in the Labour party. It was he who threw out MacAonghusa the arch-marketeer. Michael O’Leary is vacillating along with his chief, the spineless Corish. I suggested to Tony Coughlan trying to stir something up in O’Leary’s own constituency where he things some of the car-workers live. There is none of the euphoria of a few years ago.
May 26 Friday: The twins were off on a school excursion to Belfast. I didn’t do much today. Cathal drove me over to Roy’s, whence I collected the bicycle. Mairin is going up in the Labour interest in Michael O’Leary’s constituency. She is candidate, election agent, finance officer and committee and spent all day looking for committee rooms. Mercifully, the showers were less frequent. Roy was of course as usual on top of the world. Cathal and I then went to look at 131 Morehampton Road where the Woods family lived. The name St. Endas was still on the house, and his name painted on a wall, and we thought we probably identified the house in Mount Eden Road that Peadar Ward had, and into which they escaped. We imagine the garages then covered much less ground.
May 27 Saturday: The rain poured down until evening. Cathal and I then went into town and walked in the protest march against the Common Market sell out. Sinn Fein had organised it, but if they had not invited the Irish Workers Party they would have had nobody! – Sean Kenny, Tom Gill, and a handful apart. Michael O’Riordan was there, Jeffares, Sean Nolan, Packie Early, Carmody, indeed most of the leading lights. The largest contingent consisted of two dozen or so members of the Connolly Youth, the soberer dressed in blue jeans and combat jackets, but others sporting what Cathal calls “cosmopolitan dress” – brightly coloured trousers, and long hair. Much to Carmody’s displeasure they were shouting slogans. Young Sean Edwards, now a teacher, but with a beard and bohemian “get up”, was a leading light of it, and one of the Mulready boys was away at the YCL conference. They are not officially (blessed word!) connected with the IWP, and cynics say that this saves the IWP a lot of hard work! Which I believe. Derry Kelleher was there, and I understand spoke. But the boy from TCD who opened the proceedings told his working-class audience that under the EEC wages must be leveled-up to the highest in an industry, so that since a Dublin man receiving £9 a week might have to be paid £14, Irish employers would be ruined. He does not appear to have ascertained what had actually happened in the EEC – for example to the much-publicised leveling-up of women’s wages to those of the men. So this movement is in a rather confused state.
May 28 Sunday: It rained heavily and continuously until mid-afternoon. Then we took the children to the National Museum. The sun had then appeared and we went to Bull Island. In the evening I called to see Jim Fitzgerald who had asked to see me. He told me he had the responsibility for doing the research for a television programme on the history of Irish Trade Unionism. There was a delicate situation because of the proposed merger between the ITGWU and the Workers Union of Ireland, which he did not wish to hinder. He wanted references and I told him of Clarkson’s book and made some suggestions. Then I met Tony Coughlan at the main entrance of TCD and Cathal, noticing that the rain had returned, thoughtfully drove in and carried us back to Finglas.
May 29 Monday: Incredible as it might seem, it rained again! But it was not quite so determined. I went into the National Library, and later made appointments with Eamon Martin and one or two others.
May 30 Tuesday: I again went into the National Library, went through files of the Independent, and then went to see Eamon Martin at the Sweep. He assured me Mellows never went to Germany. But he confirmed that he got the passports from “the party” and that De Valera was one of those who got one! He thought the Leitz binoculars would come off the Frieda – which I now think likely since Pax Whelan has the barometer. Later I saw Tony Woods.
May 31 Wednesday: At last a fine day. I spent most of the time at the National Library but rang Maire Comerford in the afternoon. The lawn mower was going outside her window and at first she thought I was Desmond Guinness whom she has roped in to her Tailors’ Hall campaign [campaign to save the Tailors’ Hall, where the Dublin United Irishmen used meet in the 1790s]. But we soon straightened things out.
DESMOND GREAVES JOURNAL, VOLUME 18, INDEX
1 June 1966 – 31 May 1967
Greaves, C. Desmond
– Aesthetic and cultural matters: 10.3, 10.12, 10.19, 1.30, 2.7-8, 2.14
– Assessments of others: 6.13, 6.16, 6.23-24, 7.6, 7.15, 7.27, 7.30-31,
8.8, 8.24, 8.26, 9.4, 9.22-23, 10.22, 10.30, 11.2, 11.6-7, 12.6, 12.8-9, 12.10, 12.24-25, 12.31, 1.2, 1.6, 1.11, 1.25, 1.28, 2.4, 2.6, 2.7-8, 2.17, 2.19, 2.26, 3.12, 3.15-17, 3.21, 3.27, 3.30-31,4.9-10, 4.15, 4.17, 4.21-22, 4.27-28, 5.21
– Britain, public attitudes and assessments of trends in: 6.28,9.1,9.30,10.22,
11.6, 11.8, 12.26,12.28, 2.2, 3.3, 4.15, 4.20-22, 4.28,5.14,5.24
– Civil Rights campaign on Northern Ireland: 11.14,11.18,11.26,
12.9,12.11,1.24, 1.26, 2.5, 2.25, 3.6, 3.14, 3.16, 3.19, 4.17,
– European supranational integration/the EEC:8.9,12.8,12.15, 12.25,1.29,
2.8, 2.20, 3.3, 3.15, 5.13, 5.18, 5.25, 5.27
– Family relations: 6.25, 8.4, 12.25, 3.13, 4.24
– Holidays/cycle tours: 6.1, 9.1, 9.22, 9.29-30
– Ireland, public attitudes and assessments of trends in: 8.17, 10.15,
– Mellows research: 7.7, 7.20, 10.13-14,12.9, 12.19, 1.23, 2.26, 5.3-9,
– National question: 9.30, 10.9, 10.12, 11.11,12.25, 12.29, 2.6, 2.10,
2.13, 3.11, 3.16, 4.21, 5.18
– Self-assessments: 6.23, 7.3, 7.29, 8.4, 8.5, 9.8, 9.14, 9.24, 9.27-28,
10.9, 12.6, 12.24, 4.21, 4.25, 4.30, 5.1, 5.18
Organisation Names Index
Campaign for Democracy in Ulster (CDU): 10.8-9, 11.3-4, 11.26, 2.4,
Clann na hEireann: 6.12, 6.27, 7.3, 7.6, 7.14, 7.19, 7.21, 10.12,
2.25,3.6, 4.17, 4.21
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 6.10, 6.16, 7.15, 9.9, 10.9,
10.22,1.30, 12.5, 12.9, 1.13, 2.2, 2.10, 2.17, 3.14, 4.7,4.22, 5.12
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 6.11, 6.17, 6.19, 6.27, 6.29, 7.1-2,
7.14,7.29-30, 8.16, 8.29, 9.4-8, 10.9, 10.18, 10.22, 11.11-12,
12.8, 1.29, 2.25-26, 3.6, 3.14, 4.17, 4.21-23, 4.30, 5.14
Irish Workers Party (formerly Irish Workers League): 11.14, 1.15, 3.11,
Labour Party (British): 6.10, 6.17, 9.25,10.9, 2.4, 4.14, 4.18, 4.21, 4.27,
Labour Party (Irish): 10.16, 12.31, 5.25
Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF): 6.4, 6.15, 7.30,8.13,11.22,12.8,
1.24,1.30, 2.5,2.10, 3.18
National Council for Civil Liberties: 6.4, 6.12, 7.27, 11.14, 12.9,12.11,
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association: 11.14, 12.9
Northern Ireland Communist Party: 5.12
Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalist Party): 3.14, 5.18
Sinn Fein/IRA: 6.16, 6.27, 7.6, 7.8, 7.12, 7.14, 7.16, 7.19, 7.21, 7.23-
24, 9.25, 10.16, 11.14, 12.31, 1.1, 2.26, 3.6, 3.11-12, 3.14-18,
Trotskyite and far-left organisations: 6.3, 6.13, 6.27, 7.4, 7.26, 8.19,
8.28,10.12, 10.21, 11.1, 2.26, 3.6, 3.11, 3.14, 3.18, 3.21-22,
Wolfe Tone Society: 7.23, 7.26, 9.27,10.12, 10.16, 11.14, 2.10, 5.13
Personal Names Index
Allaun, Frank MP: 10.7
Argue, Jim: 2.4
Arnot, R.Page: 6.19, 6.30, 2.10
Asmal, Kader: 12.9
Ayling, Ronald: 9.21, 11.11-12
Barr, Andy: 6.19, 3.11-12
Beauchamp, Kay: 1.13,5.12
Behal, Richard: 7.24
Bennett, Jack: 7.16,11.14, 12.8-9, 12.11, 1.1, 1.26, 3.17, 4.20
Birch, Nigel: 12.5
Birnberg, Ben: 6.4, 6.12
Blythe, Ernest: 11.12, 12.31, 1.2
Bond, Patrick: 11.3, 2.26, 4.10
Bourne, Harry: 1.13, 5.12
Bowman, Dave: 4.18
Breen, Dan: 6.20
Brockway, Fenner (Lord): 7.30, 1.24, 2.5
Broderick, David (O Bruadair): 9.15, 10.12,11.2
Bush, Alan: 11.30, 2.8
Byrne, Paddy Cllr.: 2.25
Campbell, Flann: 6.20, 7.28
Campbell, JR: 6.30, 1.29, 2.17
Casement, Sir Roger: 6.10, 10.22, 1.24, 3.11
Caughey, Sean: 4.20
Clancy, Basil: 12.31
Clifford, Brendan and Angela: 6.13, 11.1, 12.10, 3.12, 3.18, 4.28
Comerford, Maire: 10.12, 3.12, 4.24, 4.28, 5.31
Connolly, James: 12.31, 4.21
Cooley, Mike: 12.4,1.9, 1.24, 2.8, 2.26, 3.15, 3.25, 3.29
Corish, Brendan: 5.25
Cornforth, Maurice: 12.7, 12.9, 2.17, 3.31, 4.24
Costello, Seamus: 7.6
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 6.20, 7.6,7.12, 9.2, 9.7-9, 9.13, 9.15,
9.27,10.12, 10.16-17,12.6, 12.31, 1.1, 2.9, 2.20, 2.25-26, 3.16,
3.18, 3.30, 4.27- 28,5.13, 5.16, 5.25, 5.28
Cox, Idris: 6.10, 6.16, 2.10, 2.17
Craig, William: 3.18
Crotty, Vincent: 10.16
Cunningham, Charlie: 12.3-4, 4.15
Curran, Antoinette (Toni): 6.12, 7.29
Curran, Gerard: 11.11,11.29
Dalton, Liam (aka McQuaid]: 6.27, 7.24, 4.12
Deasy, Joe: 12.5
Deighan, Dorothy: 12.10
Deighan, Joseph: 12.10, 1.25, 2.13, 2.16, 3.15, 3.26, 3.30, 4.28
De Valera, Eamon: 10.12, 3.12
Devine, Pat: 2.17
Dooley, Pat: 12.5
Durkin, Tom: 10.22
Dutt, R. Palme: 6.10, 6.13, 6.16, 6.30, 9.9, 10.3, 10.7, 2.10, 4.7, 5.12
Edwards, Owen Dudley: 7.6
Edwards, Sean: 5.27
Ennals, Martin: 7.27, 12.9
Falber, R.: 6.30
Fitt, Gerry MP: 6.12, 6.17, 9.8, 10.9, 11.13, 12.8, 2.25, 2.27, 3.19, 4.20,
FitzGerald, Garret: 7.6
Fitzgerald, Jim: 11.11-12,1.2
Foley, Denis: 7.16
French, Sid: 6.30, 12.8, 1.13
Galvin, Patrick: 4.27
Garland, Sean: 7.16, 3.16-17
Geraghty, Desmond: 2.25
Gill, Tom (see MacGiolla):
Gilmore, George: 10.12
Gleeson, Paul: 7.5, 7.24
Glubb, Faris: 6.4,6.13
Goldring, Maurice: 7.13-14,
Gollan, John: 6.16 ,5.23
Goulding, Cathal: 6.15-16, 7.5,7.8, 7.16,7.21, 7.24, 7.26, 9.25-26,11.14, 12.31, 1.1, 3.6, 3.11-12,, 4.17, 5.25,
Green, Alice Stopford: 3.12
Greaves, Phyllis: 6.24-25, 8.4-5, 8.24, 12.24, 12.26-27
Hall, Gus: 10.22
Harmel, Michael: 12.9
Healy, Cahir: 10.18
Heatley, Bobby: 6.12, 10.30,11.6, 1.11, 2.9, 3.25, 4.9
Hensey, Pat: 3.30, 1.12
Hostettler, John: 6.4,6.12,7.27
Jackson, TA.: 10.19, 12.8
Jeffares, George:7.6, 3.11
Jenkins, Clive: 9.4, 4.18
Johnston, Mairin: 7.5, 7.24, 10.17, 2,24, 5.26
Johnston, Roy: 6.27,7.5-6,7.16,7.23-24,10.16-17,11.2,12.6, 2.26,3.12
Keating, Justin: 11.12
Kelleher, Derry: 11.2, 2.10, 3.18, 5.27
Kenny, Sean: 6.12
Klugman, James: 12.3, 2.17
Lawless, Gery: 6.3, 6.12, 6.20, 6.27, 7.4-6, 8.28, 9.15, 10.12,10.16-17,
11.6, 2.4, 2.12, 2.21, 2.25, 3.6
Levenson, Sam: 12.5, 12.28, 12.31, 2.2
Lipton, Marcus M.P: 3.17
Logan, Des: 7.24
MacAonghusa, Proinsias: 5.25
McAteer, Eddie: 1.1
MacBride, Sean: 12.8
McCann, Eamon: 2.26, 3.21
McCarthy, Charlie: 12.31
McCartney, Jim: 11.14, 12.9, 1.1, 1.26, 2.5, 4.20
McClelland, John: 6.8, 8.6, 9.10
McCluskey, Patricia: 11.26
MacCrendle, Alec: 4.21
MacCrystal, Joe: 11.6
McCullough, Billy: 4.20
MacDiarmid Hugh: 4.21
McDonald, John: 2.21
McGiolla, Tomas: 5.25
McGlade, Frank: 4.20
McGree, Leo: 5.1, 5.21, 5.23
McLaughlin, Eamon: 8.19
MacLennan, Gordon: 6.16, 6.19, 4.21
MacLiam, Cathal: 6.15, 7.5, 9.24-25, 1.1, 3.11, 4.28
MacLiam, Helga: 7.5, 12.31
McMillen, Art: 7.16, 12.8, 2.9, 4.20
McMillen, Liam (Billy): 7.16, 3.20, 4.20
Maitland, Sylvie: 6.19
Martin, Eamon: 5.9
Meade, Tony: 7.12, 7.16, 7.18, 9.26, 3.11-12
Milne, Ewart: 4.27
Mitchell, Tom: 7.16, 3.20
Moore, Hughie: 7.11
Morgan, Barney (Bernard): 6.23, 9.11,12.14, 5.1
Morton, Alan: 1.11, 6.14, 3.3
Mulcahy, General Richard: 10.12
Mulholland, Declan: 4.9,
Mulligan, Peter: 10.18-19, 10.30, 11.7, 11.20, 11.24, 11.29, 12.10,
12.29, 3.5, 3.14-15, 3.25, 4.11
Murphy, Pat: 3.12
Murray, Margaret: 7.8, 7.10
Nolan, Sean: 7.21, 5.15, 5.27
O’Brien, Conor Cruise: 7.6, 11.12
O’Byrne, Miss, Dublin city librarian: 7.20, 7.25,10.12
O’Casey, Sean: 7.14, 9.21,10.5,11.11-12, 4.21
O’Connor, Joe: 1.15, 4.1
O’Dowd, Larry: 2.4
O’Dowling (neé Timbey), Elsie: 4.28
O’Higgins, Paul: 6.4
O’Leary, Michael TD: 10.16, 5.25-26
O’Malley, Ernie (papers): 7.20
O’Neill, Andy and Patsy: 11.2, 6.3, 6.13, 11.12, 12.1
O’Neill, Captain Terence: 11.18, 11.26
O’Neill, Professor Tom: 3.12
O’Reilly, Donal: 7.8, 3.12
O’Riordan, Michael: 7.8, 1.15, 3.11, 5.27
O’Shea, Fred: 11.30, 12.1
Orme, Stanley MP: 10.9, 4.27
Owens, Ben: 6.19
Pakenham, Frank (Lord): 3.12
Paisley. Ian: 7.2, 2.9
Pefkos, George: 2.17
Peters, Derek: 2.17
Pierce, Bert: 2.6, 5.18
Ramelson, Marian: 10.22
Redmond, Aine: 6.13
Redmond, Sean: 6.16-17, 7.19, 7.29, 8.31, 12.6, 12.8, 1.6, 1.24, 1.29,
2.9,2.19, 2.24, 3.15, 3.17-18, 3.21, 3.30, 4.27
Redmond, Tom: 11.26, 6.13, 3.21
Reid, Betty: 12.5
Reid, Jimmy: 2.6, 4.18
Rose, Paul MP: 7.28, 10.7, 11.3-4, 11.26, 2.4
Rossiter, Bobby: 8.11, 11.6, 4.10, 6.19
Rothstein, Andrew: 6.10, 10.22, 2.10
Ruane, Tony: 7.23
Ryan, Frank: 7.8
Seifert and Co, Solicitors: 2.3, 2.9
Shields, Ted and Gwen: 10.18, 12.8, 2.8
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 7.11,3.11, 3.20, 4.20
Smythe, Tony: 7.27,12.9, 12.11, 1.24, 1.26, 2.5, 3.17-20, 4.20
Stewart, Bob: 6.16, 6.30, 2.17
Stewart, Jimmy: 7.11
Stowell, Brian: 5.18
Tate, Jane: 6.4, 8.17,10.5
Thornley, David TD: 11.12
Tully, James TD: 5.25
Williams, J.Roose: 6.23, 5.18
Wilson, Harold MP: 6.17, 6.23, 10.18, 4.18, 4.27, 5.14
Woddis, Jack (Hillel): 6.10, 6.16, 7.30
Wyper, Hughie: 4.18, 4.21-22