Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol. 29, 1978-79
1 January 1978 – 31 August 1979
Themes: Finishing “Sean O’Casey: Politics and Art” and embarking on his “History of the ITGWU” – Lecture to the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society – Celebration to mark his thirty years’ editorship of the “Irish Democrat” – Noel Harris’s debacle with the ASTMS trade union – Persuading ITGWU General Secretary Michael Mullen to give the union records to the National Library – Influential elements in the CPGB encourage Clann na hEireann, the SFWP support-group in Britain, rather than the Connolly Association: “I told them they were handing over the Irish to the Provisionals and the solidarity movement to the Trotskies (9.29) – Writing his pamphlet, “Reminiscences of the Connolly Association”, for the CA’s 40th anniversary – Connolly Association summer school on the Irish language – Researching the date of James Larkin’s birth in Liverpool – Irrelevance of the Trade Union-sponsored “Better Life for All” Campaign – Conclusion that “The less the CPGB does about Ireland the fewer mistakes will be made” (6.17) – An incident of deception by the Troops Out Movement (8.4) – Attending Fenner Brockway’s 90th birthday party (11.4) – Debacle of the Liverpool Trades Council conference on the Prevention of Terrorism Act: “Partly it is the way the CP has gone from extreme of discipline to extreme of indiscipline, and partly also the emergence of an academic Marxism where any absurd nonsense is tolerated.”(12.10) – Pessimism regarding the future of British society (12.11) – Sid French leaves the CPGB to set up the “New Communist Party” – Growing differences between CPGB “hardliners” and “soft-liners”: “…there is much difference over ‘The British Road to Socialism’… In the most difficult and complex general circumstances, instead of concentrating on the immediate, they produce a long detailed blue-print, full of things to differ on.” (2.25: 2) – Visiting the Irish Embassy in London (3.12:2) – Hostelling holiday in North Wales – North of Ireland Protestant Noel Gordon replaces Eddie Cowman as Connolly Association organiser – Meetings with or comments on Justin Keating, Maolachlann O Caollai, Rayner Lysaght, Mike Milotte, Paddy Devlin, Dr W.A. Lee, Brian O’Neill, Roddy Connolly, Sean Mulgrew, Fenner Brockway, Harry Craig, Tony Benn, Jonty Hanaghan, Daltún O Ceallaigh, Ulick O’Connor, Betty Sinclair, Dr Helena Sheehan, Charlie Donnelly – A theory of homosexuality (7.1:2) – Some reminiscences by Peadar O’Donnell (7.19:2) and by George Gilmore (8.15:2) – The assassination of Lord Mountbatten, which occasioned Greaves’s long poem “The Mountbatten Award” – Starting on his “age of indiscretion: to give the indiscretions a bit longer to sink in”(7.31:2) – Assiduous gardening at his home in Prenton, Birkenhead, whenever work commitments allowed
* * *
Index to Volume 29 of Desmond Greaves’s Journal
[Editorial Note: In this and the further volumes of the Greaves Journal from No.28 to 38 the Index is placed at the beginning rather than the end of each volume, the better to facilitate readers seeking knowledge of the particular volume’s contents.
In the Index references throughout, the month comes first and then the day of the month. Thus 6.7 means June 7th, 1.25 means January 25th, 12.4 means December 4th and so on. Where the entries in a particular volume extend beyond one year so that monthly dates are repeated, as in this Volume 29, the figure (2) is attached to each entry in the second year.]
Greaves, C. Desmond
Aesthetic and cultural matters: 6.3, 12.20, 8.19(2)
Assessments of others: 2.26, 3.31, 4.2, 5.3, 5.29, 6.5, 7.21, 9.23,
10.20, 10.22-23, 7.1(2), 7.15(2), 8.6-7(2)
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 2.26, 4.2, 11.25,
Civil Rights Campaign on Northern Ireland: 6.17, 7.21(2)
European supranational integration/the EEC: 4.13, 6.1(2) 8.15(2)
Family relations: 5.4
Holidays/cycle tours: 4.17-22, 10.12-28
ITGWU history research: 2.7, 3.17, 3.21, 6.23, 7.15, 7.21, 7.31, 7.12(2)
Meteorology, interest in: 2.18, 5.24, 6.30, 12.12,12.31,1.15(2), 5.20(2)
O’Casey research: 1.9, 2.10, 6.26-27, 8.27
Self-assessments and personal plans: 1.31, 2.4, 2.7, 2.26, 5.10, 6.9,
9.27, 10.25, 12.20
Organisation Names Index
British and Irish Communist Organisation (BICO): 7.26
Clann na hEireann: 3.23, 3.28, 4.30, 6.12-14(2), 6.24(2), 7.28(2),
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 2.26, 3.9, 4.8, 5.3, 5.22, 6.17,
6.29, 7.31,8.21, 8.23, 11.1, 11.4, 11.25, 12.10, 2.25(2),
3.22(2), 6.24-26(2), 7.1(2), 7.9-10(2), 7.14(2), 7.19(2),
7.26(2), 7.28(2), 8.13(2), 8.23(2)
Communist Party of Ireland (CPI): 2.6, 3.28, 5.13, 6.14, 8.21, 11.4,
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 4.25, 4.30, 5.23, 5.27, 6.5, 6.9,
9.23, 9.27-28, 11.1, 3.4(2),6.25(2), 8.28(2)
Irish Labour History Society: 3.2
Irish Sovereignty Movement: 4.13
Irish Transport and General Workers Union: 2.7, 3.17, 3.21, 6.23, 7.15,
Labour Party (British): 7.6, 6.30(2)
Liverpool Trades Council: 12.10-11
Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF)/Liberation: 6.30(2), 8.22(2)
National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL):11.4
New Communist Party: 7.28(2)
Sinn Fein/IRA-Officials (SFWP): 3.7, 3.28, 6.1, 6.24, 9.19, 9.27, 10.28,
6.21(2), 6.24(2), 7.10(2), 7.14(2), 7.19(2)
Sinn Fein/IRA-Provisionals: 3.7,12.18, 8.31(2)
Troops Out Movement: 7.14, 7.27, 8.1-2, 8.4, 8.7
Trotskyist and ultra-left organisations: 7.14, 7.27,12.10
Wolfe Tone Society: 2.15, 5.9
Workers Music Association: 11.4
Young Communist League: 7.26(2), 8.13(2)
Personal Names Index
Ainley, Ted: 3.4
Anthony, George: 6.30(2)
Asmal, Kader and Louise: 6.13, 7.18
Barr, Andy: 6.29
Behan, Brian: 8.3(2)
Benn, Tony: 6.30(2)
Bennett, Erna: 8.15(2)
Bennett, Jack: 8.15
Bergin, Paddy: 3.2
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 12.30, 1.12(2)
Boyd, John: 4.29
Bree, Declan: 5.15-16
Brennan, Irene: 2.26, 3.9, 3.23, 3.26, 4.8, 4.30, 5.1, 5.5, 5.22, 6.17,
6.29, 7.14, 7.27, 8.4, 8.21, 9.29, 12.10, 1.12(2), 6.12(2),
7.1(2), 7.28(2), 8.17(2)
Brockway, Fenner Lord: 11.2, 11.4, 8.3(2), 8.13(2)
Browne, Dr Noel TD: 6.24
Byrne, Charlie and Maggie: 4.12(2)
Callaghan, James MP: 6.30(2)
Campbell, Flann and Mary: 7.13, 11.4, 2.28(2), 3.4(2), 6.24(2), 8.3(2)
Carnduff, Thomas: 7.19(2)
Carroll, John: 7.21, 6.20(2)
Carter, Pete: 7.27
Charles, Wilf: 9.29, 10.12
Clarke, Dardis: 5.15
Clinton, Mark: 2.18, 2.26, 5.3, 5.31, 6.3, 8.3, 8.15
Cohen, Gerry: 3.22
Comerford, Maire: 7.9(2)
Connolly, James: 7.19(2)
Connolly O’Brien, Nora: 8.7
Connolly, Roddy: 5.15, 7.18-19
Cook, David: 8.21, 2.28(2), 7.1(2)
Costello, Seamus: 7.16(2)
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 2.6, 2.10, 2.13, 2.15, 3.4, 3.19, 4.5, 5.11-
12, 5.19, 6.1, 6.12, 6.29, 7.20, 9.19, 9.23, 9.27-28, 1.12(2),
6.1(2), 6.29(2), 7.5(2), 7.14(2)
Cowman, Eddie: 2.23, 3.26, 4.29, 5.28, 5.31,6.28-29, 7.1, 7.30, 8.12,
9.21, 9.27, 11.1, 12.9-10, 12.13, 1.3(2), 1.12(2), 1.14(2),
1.31(2), 2.25(2), 2.28(2), 3.12(2), 3.16(2), 4,12(2), 4.18(2), 6.29(2), 6.30(2), 7.1(2), 7.24-25(2), 7.27(2), 8.3(2), 8.5(2), 8.13(2), 8.22(2), 8.26(2)
Cox, Idris: 6.30(2)
Craig, Harry: 11.4
Craig, Malcolm: 3.2
Crawford, Lindsay: 7.25(2)
Crowe, Michael: 8.22(2)
Crowley, Brian: 2.25(2)
Cunningham, Charlie: 4.29, 6.3, 7.1, 9.23, 3.30(2)
Curran, Mrs Antoinette (Toni): 2.25, 4.29, 9.23,11.4, 3.31(2),7.24(2),
Curran, Gerard: 1.7, 1.28, 11.4, 7.24(2), 7.29(2)
Daiken, Leslie: 6.14
Davison, Madge: 7.3(2)
Deighan, Joseph: 6.7
Devine, Francis: 6.18
Devlin, Paddy MP: 6.15
Dobson, Frank MP: 2.28, 6.24
Donnelly, Charlie: 6.14
Donnelly, Joe: 6.14, 6.18, 6.23
Dooley, Pat J.L.: 11.4
Draper, Lenny: 1.5, 2.3
Dunne, Bill: 2.26, 7.28(2)
Durkin, Tom: 9.23, 6.30(2)
Dutt, R. Palme: 5.29
Edwards, Frank: 5.9
Egan, Tadhg: 2.28
FitzGerald, Garret TD: 6.15
French, Sid: 7.28(2), 8.15
Gaughan, Fr Anthony: 2.15
Geraghty, Hugh: 4.14
Gilbert, Tony: 11.4, 6.30(2)
Gilmore, George: 6.29, 7.11(2), 8.15(2)
Gordon, Noel: 2.25(2), 5.2(2), 6.3(2), 7.1(2)
Goulding, Cathal: 8.15(2)
Gunn, Richard: 6.13
Hanaghan, Jonty: 7.15(2)
Harris, Eoghan: 7.10
Harris, Noel: 3.2, 3.4, 3.7, 3.11, 4.5, 5.11, 5.13, 5.19, 5.31, 6.1,
6.12-13, 6.24, 9.19, 7.18(2)
Hayes, May: 7.16(2)
Heatley, Bobby (Robert): 7.27, 8.20
Hoffman, John: 2.26
Hosey, Sean: 7.18
Huggett, Stephen: 7.28, 8.18, 9.21, 9.27-28, 8.3(2)
Hume, John MP: 1.12
Jenkins, Clive: 3.4, 5.19, 6.1, 6.12, 8.23(2)
Johnston, Roy: 2.6, 2.15, 3.2, 3.4, 5.9, 8.14(2), 8.17(2)
Kaye, Jacqueline: 8.4, 8.7
Keating, Justin TD: 4.11, 7.13, 9.23, 6.1(2), 7.1(2)
Kelly, Dalton: (See O Ceallaigh, Daltún)
Kennedy, Fintan: 7.21
Kilbracken, Lord: 8.22(2)
Larkin, Denis: 4.11
Larkin, James: 4.11, 6.23, 7.1, 7.19(2), 8.10(2)
Lee, Dr WA: 10.2
Levenson, Sam and Lee: 7.17
Lowery, Robert: 8.14
Lysaght, Rayner: 6.13
Lyne, Gerard [See O Luanaigh):
MacAnna, Tomás: 8.7(2)
MacBride, Sean: 8.5(2)
McConnell, Maisie: 3.2
McDonald, Jim: 1.14, 2.28, 7.28-29(2)
MacEoin, Uinseann: 2.6, 3.4
MacGiolla, Tomás: 8.15(2)
McLoughlin, Eamon: 9.25
McLennan, Gordon: 2.28, 4.8, 11.4, 6.3(2), 6.30(2), 7.29(2)
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 2.10, 5.8, 6.12, 10.30
MacLiam, Egon: 4.9, 5.8
MacLiam, Finula (NicLiam): 4.9, 5.8, 6.12
Maguire, Prof.John: 2.14
Mason, Roy MP: 3.7, 11.14
Meade, Tony: 6.18
Menzies, Edwina: (See Stewart, Edwina)
Merrigan, Matt: 6.24
Milotte, Mike: 6.14, 6.17
Morgan, Barney: 6.5
Morton, Alan G. Prof. and Mrs Freda Morton: 10.28
Morton, Alisoun: 5.14
Mountbatten, Lord: 8.28(2), 8.31(2)
Moynihan, Noel: 2.25, 3.26, 1.31
Mulgrew, Sean: 9.28
Mullen, Michael: 3.9, 3.15, 5.11, 5.15, 5.19, 6.20(2), 7.12(2),
Mulligan, Peter: 11.26, 12.30
Myant, Chris: 2.26, 6.24(2), 7.1(2), 7.10(2)
Nevin, Donal: 7.18-19
Newens, Stan MP: 11.4
O’Beirne, Miss (Librarian): 4.11
O’Brien, Conor Cruise TD: 4.11, 7.13
O’Brien, William (Bill): 7.19(2)
O Caollai, Maolachlann: 2.16, 5.28-29, 6.22, 7.13(2), 8.15(2)
O’Casey, Sean: 2.10
O Ceallaigh, Daltún: 2.7, 3.10, 4.10, 5.9, 6.15, 6.24, 7.19, 6.21(2),
O’Connell, Joan: 6.13, 7.18
O’Connor, Emmet: 5.11, 6.22
O’Connor, Ulick: 8.7(2)
O’Donnell, Peadar: 2.13, 7.19(2)
O’Donohue, Pat: 2.25, 4.29, 7.30, 11.26
O’Dowling (née Timbey), Elsie: 4.6, 9.23
O’Dwyer, Paul: 6.14
O’Hagan, Dessie: 6.17, 6.29, 7.26
O Loingsigh, Micheál S.: 2.16, 6.17-18(2)
O Luanaigh, D.: 5.10, 6.19, 8.14(2)
O Murchú, Eoin: 3.7, 6.29, 7.26, 7.14(2), 8.14(2)
O’Neill, Brian: 6.14, 6.18, 6.23
O’Regan, Jim: 3.29, 4.10-11, 5.11-12
O’Riordan, Michael: 6.17, 7.14(2), 7.17(2), 8.17(2)
O Shannon, Cathal: 7.19(2)
O Snodaigh, Padraig: 8.15(2)
Parker, Bill: 8.23(2)
Piratin, Phil: 11.4
Powell, Pat: 6.21(2)
Power, Colm: 4.15, 5.11, 6.24
Ramelson, Bert: 7.28(2)
Redmond, Sean: 2.17, 7.18(2)
Redmond, Tom: 7.14(2), 7.18(2)
Rendle, Philip: 11.4, 1.31(2), 7.10(2), 8.22(2
Rigney, Peter: 2.9, 5.19
Robbins, Frank: 2.13, 4.11
Rothstein, Andrew: 4.29, 5.1
Rudd, Joy: 2.15
Saidlear, Muriel: 2.10, 2.15, 5.14, 7.20, 7.13(2), 8.15(2)
Saklatvala, S. MP: 7.19(2)
Seifert, Siegmund and Connie: 11.4, 2.22(2)
Sheehan, Helena: 2.6, 3.7, 7.14(2), 8.17(2)
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 5.13, 5.29, 6.14, 6.29, 8.21, 7.21(2),
7.31(2), 8.5(2), 8.23(2)
Skelly, Jeff: 2.1
Smith, George: 6.30(2)
Smythe, Tony: 11.4
Stallard, AW “Jock”, MP: 2.26, 9.23, 11.14-15, 1.12(2), 2.28(2),
Stewart, Jimmy: 5.22, 6.8, 8.23(2)
Sullivan, Chris: 11.25, 2.2
Swift, John: 7.19
Tate, Jane: 7.30, 9.27, 7.1(2)
Thomas, Dylan: 11.4
Thomson, Prof. George: 7.13(2), 8.15(2)
Trench, Brian: 2.14, 6.24
Walsh, Tom: 12.10, 12.30
Watters, Frank: 5.3, 7.14, 7.31, 8.15
Woddis, Jack (Hillel): 2.28(2), 3.23(2)
Wynn, Bob: 6.3(2)
January 1 Sunday (Liverpool): I looked everywhere for a decent book for the continuation of this journal, but good ones are not made any more. It is a remarkable thing that the people who run this country ooze complacency at every pore, but every single thing gets worse and worse. I spent the day revising O’Casey.
January 2 Monday: Again I was in all day revising.
January 3 Tuesday: I went to Ripley to read proofs and all went well with reasonable smoothness.
January 4 Wednesday: I have heard nothing from Dorothy Greaves, so I wrote to ask if she is well. Bertha Taylor died and nobody told me a thing.
January 5 Thursday: Apart from going out to buy things I spent the day on revision.
January 6 Friday: I spent the day on revision.
January 7 Saturday (London): I went to London and was in Hammersmith with Gerry Curran. He is suffering badly from “depression” and people say he is breaking up. That is probably an exaggeration.
January 8 Sunday: On turning the page I am struck by the vile inferior paper. But good material cannot be obtained. I was out with Michael Ryan in the evening.
January 9 Monday (Liverpool): I took the manuscript into Lawrence and Wishart, but they have not been able to get me a typist. I decided to take it back to 124 Mount Road and type it myself [This was the MS of his book “Sean O’Casey: Politics and Art”]. So I came back.
January 10 Tuesday: I spent the day typing.
January 11 Wednesday: Apart from shopping I spent the day typing.
January 12 Thursday: Typing all day.
January 13 Friday: Typing all day.
January 14 Saturday: Typing all day.
January 15 Sunday: Typing all day.
January 16 Monday: Typing all day.
January 17 Tuesday: A letter came from Cathal [ie. his friend Cathal MacLiam in Dublin]. I was typing all day.
January 18 Wednesday: Typing all day.
January 19 Thursday: Typing all day.
January 20 Friday: Typing all day.
January 21 Saturday: Typing all day.
January 22 Sunday: Typing all day.
January 23 Monday: Typing all day.
January 24 Tuesday: Typing all day.
January 25 Wednesday (London): I went to London, did some work on the paper and spoke to Central London [ie. the Central London branch of the Connolly Association].
January 26 Thursday: I worked on the paper [ie. editing the monthly “Irish Democrat”. It was normally eight pages in length; occasionally there was a “special” twelve-page issue]
January 27 Friday: Again on the paper.
January 28 Saturday: I finished the paper – somewhat late, as Gerry Curran did not turn in his page. I was out with him [ie. selling the paper] and he said he was better. I don’t know if he is.
January 29 Monday (Liverpool): We held the Standing Committee. Pat O’Donohue was there but not Toni [ie. CA activist Mrs Toni Curran], but Gerry Curran came. We decided we cannot continue to employ Eddie Cowman [ie. because of lack of money]. But he seems quite understanding over it. I came back to Liverpool.
January 30 Monday: I went to Ripley. There was more difficulty with the paper than usual, but I got through it.
January 31 Tuesday: I have only two chapters still to type, so that with any luck at all I should be able to send the thing off to Lawrence and Wishart on Thursday. I never had such a month in my life. I have often been typing from 10 am. till 11pm.
February 1 Wednesday: I at last finished the typing of O’Casey. I decided to go on a day trip and take it to London. I don’t want this to go astray in the post as copy for the paper did.
February 2 Thursday (London): I went to London and took the manuscript into Lawrence and Wishart. And mighty glad I am to see the back of it.
February 3 Friday (Liverpool): I spent most of the day clearing up. Now I have to carry out reorganisation.
February 4 Saturday: I sorted out the carbons so that I have another duplicate manuscript. Letters came from Daltún O Ceallaigh and I arranged with Tony Coughlan to go to Ireland on Monday. I told them in London that I am proposing to give up the flat at 33 Argyle Square. I am only there a few days a month. I could stay with somebody and pay them.
February 5 Sunday: I spent the day getting ready for departure. There will be a week’s work when I get back.
February 6 Monday (Dublin): I took the morning train to Chester an Caergybi [ie. Holyhead] and was met by Tony Coughlan at Amiens Street. He tells me that Uinseann Mac Eoin is in jail [Dublin architect, conservationist and political writer]. He was sentenced to a fortnight for refusing to pay his TV license as a protest against the insufficient Irish on television. He showed me some documents from Roy Johnston which contained some rare nonsense. He is up for expulsion from the CPI for attacking another member at a meeting. I think this is Helena O Murchú [ie. Dr Helena Sheehan] with whom he had some differences over a scientific conference. Apparently though he wishes to remain a member he wants to be accepted as a “licensed eccentric”, that is to say to have his cake and eat it.
February 7 Tuesday: I did not get much done today but had lunch with Daltún O Ceallaigh and talked things over. It seems as if I will have to do the ITGWU history like O’Casey, by a series of forced marches. But it will help if I can get rid of the London commitment. I hate going near the place and am increasingly getting prepared to face the upset and move to Dublin.
February 8 Wednesday: I spent most of the day in the Manuscript Room of the National Library going through the minute book of the No.1 Branch of the ITGWU.
February 9 Thursday: I was in the Manuscript Room all day. The weather is turning very cold, and it was by no means warm. I met Peter Rigney for a few minutes in the evening. He has got his degree and a job in the Department of Health. He turned down an appointment with ASLEF because he did not wish to leave Ireland, but I don’t think a short spell in England would have harmed him. Another young man, who overheard a Librarian addressing me by name, introduced himself to me. He is another member of the Labour History Society, Kevin Cronin.
February 10 Friday: White snow everywhere, a very unusual sight. I have not seen it before since the late sixties. I was in the Manuscript Room all day but in the evening Cathal, Tony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear went to “The Star Turns Red” at the Abbey and the magnificent production disposed of the transatlantic pretence that this is O’Casey’s weakest play. The audience was all for Red Jim, against the fascists, and none too well disposed to the priests. “The audience lapped it up,” I said to Tony as we were going out, “but whether they would if they weren’t quite sure that there’s no possibility of its happening is another matter.” A woman just beside us overheard and gave laughing assent. We went to Cathal’s after the show.
February 11 Saturday: There was snow and thunder today. I went Into the Library in the morning and did shopping in the afternoon.
February 12 Sunday: I stayed in all day. I don’t like snow. Indeed of all the elements it is the most objectionable. The roads are icebound and Tony Coughlan had to walk home from TCD. It was risky to go.
February 13 Monday: I was in the Manuscript Room room again. By accident I ran into George Gilmore in the Chinese restaurant. He still hobbles around. He must have an amazing constitution. He thinks Peadar O’Donnell is not long for this world. He is 86 and it is difficult to understand him. He was talking about McInerney’s writing about Peadar [Michael McInerney, author of “Peadar O’Donnell, Irish Social Rebel”,1974, had had some articles on O’Donnell in the “Irish Times”, of which he was political correspondent]. George told Peadar to be sure and insist that he saw every instalment before it was printed. “Oh – I’ve told him what I want,” says Peadar. “But”, said George, “He did not appreciate that it would be filtered through a certain mentality.” He was very contemptuous of Frank Robbins, whose book I bought. He thinks he simply lies about Larkin and his sanctimoniousness is repulsive. He is preparing a set of notes for Tony Coughlan on the errors of my bold Michael.
February 14 Tuesday: I was in the Library all day. In the evening John Maguire. who was at the seminar in Pembroke College, picked me up and took me to UCD where there was a meeting of “Christians for Socialism” which I addressed [Professor John Maguire, sociology academic and activist for Irish neutrality]. Brian Trench from “Hibernia” was there, probably to learn a bit about Connolly. They were quite nice youngsters. Micheál O Loingsigh picked me up and we got safely to Dundrum.
February 15 Wednesday: I was in the Library all day. Jim Scully brought in a Father Gaughan, a young priest in his late twenties, who is writing the life of Tom Johnson, the man who was doing it before having died of cancer [ie. Fr Anthony Gaughan, historian]. In the evening I addressed the Wolfe Tone Society, and having committed numerous indiscretions, was informed to my amazement that the press were present and I had not been told. I blew up when I found out, but Tony Coughlan says it was Muriel Saidlear’s fault, and I can’t be hard on her. Tony Meade was there, and Joy Rudd, Roy Johnston for a short time, and for a marvel saying nothing. They told me afterwards that he was today told of his expulsion. And now he has charge of the Peace Movement and there is no control of him. I was amazed at their appointing him. He was late tonight because he was escorting Sean MacBride [former Irish Foreign Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner].
February 16 Thursday: I was in the freezing Library all day. Some of the central heating pipes have burst. In the evening Tony Coughlan and I went to Micheál O Loingsigh’s in Barton Road East. Maolachlann O Caollai of the Gaelic League lives opposite and came in. There were three good results, quite remarkable in these days when nothing goes right. O Caollai agreed to talk at our summer school. Micheál O Loingsigh told me that he knows personally the managing director of Ozalid in Ireland. Daltún O Ceallaigh was all afternoon trying to find an instrument maker to mend the lens of my microfilm reader. He showed it to a friend of the ITGWU who thought the best thing would be to try to trace the maker in Munich. We were going to ask Helga to phone. But on top of this Maolachlann O Caollai says there are two readers going free at Siemens where he works!
February 17 Friday: After a morning in the Library I had lunch with Daltún O Ceallaigh and made preparations for departure. I omitted to say that yesterday I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and Sean Redmond. Afterwards Sean told me that he is now general secretary of an old but small union. It is affiliated to the Labour Party and if he does not join he will be the odd man out. He is not a member of anything else, so I told him I saw no reason why he should not join, but I don’t think Tony Coughlan was pleased. I thought he could be useful.
February 18 Saturday (Liverpool): I took a taxi to Dun Laoire then came back to Liverpool the usual way. There was snow along the Welsh coast, but none in the Wirral. But it was intensely cold and indeed the turnips had been killed by the frost. The outer leaves of the pumpkins were withered and the cauliflowers looked far from happy. It is a “black frost.” I have been expecting a very cold winter for several years, but did not count on the 1947 type, though that followed a hideous summer. My notion of a cold winter is 1929, or above all 1940, and I am not yet adjusted to the snowy type. But what is interesting is that this year the cyclones are further south than ever. Warm sectors of course have disappeared years ago. The general climate prospects seem as bleak as everything else.
I found a letter from Mark Clinton saying that he has had trouble with his back and has been forced to give up everything [Mark Clinton was a CA activist in Birmingham]. So there is collapse there!
February 19 Sunday: The weather remained bitterly cold and I stayed in all day and did some clearing up.
February 20 Monday: I was out buying things and also did some clearing up. At night, though the wind was in the southeast, I saw some strato-cumulus clouds crossing the moon from the southwest. I therefore expected a change and was glad of it. I wrote to Tony Coughlan, Mark Clinton and others.
February 21 Tuesday: I stayed in all day, though the frost melted in the morning and by evening it was quite mild. The ground is frozen however and it was with difficulty I forked up a couple of turnips. I spoke on the phone to Eddie Cowman and Gerry Curran.
February 22 Wednesday (London): I took the midday train to London and spoke at the Central London branch meeting in the evening. I worked on the paper.
February 23 Thursday: I spent the day working on the paper. Eddie Cowman seems to be in better form, thanks to the policy of Fianna Fail
[Irish Taoiseach Jack Lynch, 1917-1999, at the time had urged the British Government to base its policy on a declaration of intent to work towards Irish reunification, a policy Greaves and the Connolly Association supported]
February 24 Friday: I finished the paper. In the evening I was out with Charlie Cunningham, who also seems in better form.
February 25 Saturday: I saw the usual people in the office, Eddie Cowman, Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate, who is much better. I was out with Gerry Curran in the evening. He told me that Toni Curran is still sulking from the refusal of the Standing Committee to give her her own way on the bookshop. Meanwhile Noel Moynihan is doing the work, quietly, efficiently and peacefully, and we do not have to suffer the ill-mannered intrusions of Pat O’Donohue and Toni. Strangely enough everybody says Pat O’Donohue’s manners have improved. Gerry is convinced that Pat O’Donohue influenced Toni to her detriment. I am inclined to think the contrary the case. And of course she must be at a certain stage of life.
February 26 Sunday: We held the Executive Committee in the afternoon. Only Mark Clinton came from the provinces. A few weeks ago he was telling me of desperate straits, with his back incapacitated and all lost. Now he is talking about holding a conference, and we thought of sending up Eddie Cowman to help him. He says that Irene Brennan is often seen in Birmingham and that her fiancè is industrial organiser [ie. of the CPGB]. Michael Ryan says that she seems to be doing nothing on the Irish question and suggests that she volunteered for working on it so as to get her name known and has now decided to try to climb higher, and that Myant was the same [Chris Myant, assistant editor of the “Morning Star”]. They also say that the “pure trade union” conference of the “Better Life for All Campaign” features a Bill Dunne speaking for London District CP, and that all the speakers were predictably economist and there was no result [The “Better Life for All” campaign was launched in 1976 by the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to highlight social and economic issues in Northern Ireland. It avoided the constitutional issue and was supported by various trade unions as well as “Official” Sinn Fein (ie. Sinn Fein the Workers Party). The term “economist” was used by Greaves to refer to those concerned with economic issues who tended to ignore political ones]. Whatever about it, they’ll waste no more of my time. If that is usefully employed, well and good.
In the evening there was a party to celebrate the fact that I have been editing the “Irish Democrat” for 30 years. Among those present were Eddie Cowman, Charlie Cunningham, Flann Campbell, Toni Curran, Noel Moynihan, Michael Crowe, May Hayes, Pat Hensey, Paddy Bond, Mark Clinton, Elsie O’Dowling, Jim Kelly – who has come back – Jane Tate, Gloria Finlay (Devine), Patsy Byrne, and George Smith. Jock Stallard [MP for St Pancras North] was also there. Messages came from John Hoffman in Leicester, Andrew Rothstein and Pat Sloan. Nobody represented the CP, but I do not know if they were officially invited. Gloria Finlay told me of her attempt to sell the “Irish Democrat” at the “Morning Star” rally and of the sour looks she got. Well, I have it diagnosed for years. They want to use the Irish question to strengthen their influence in British Trade Unions who have members in Northern Ireland. The thing is totally chauvinistic, but they are totally blind to anything but immediate self-interest. They will never learn.
February 27 Monday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley in the afternoon. Apart from the train breaking down and delaying me, all went reasonably well.
February 28 Tuesday: I had a phone call from Eddie Cowman to the effect that Jack Woddis and Gordon McLennan had sent good wishes. A copy of Woddis’s indeed arrived by post. He had intended to come but was prevented at the last minute.
March 1 Wednesday: I did some (insufficient) preparatory work for the trip to Ireland tomorrow and rang Tony Coughlan to confirm my arrival time.
March 2 Thursday: I went to Holyhead and Dun Laoire and Tony Coughlan met me at Amiens Street. We went to a meeting of the Labour History Society at Liberty Hall. Paddy Bergin, whom Malcolm Craig and I used to visit at Carlow when cycling to Castlecomer and Waterford, was speaking about Gaffney, whom Dundon used so much to admire. He gave a very informative talk and I had a few words with him afterwards. Peter Rigney and Daltún O Ceallaigh were there. Francis Devine [A leading figure In the Irish Labour History Society] is somewhat rude, quite capable of interrupting everybody or walking off in the middle of a conversation. Peter Rigney on the other hand has good manners. I think Francis Devine gets his manners from being born in Yorkshire. I also met Maisie McConnell [A left-wing activist in the Irish Labour Party]. Apparently her brother Eddie Connell is still in England. There was a certain amount of news from Tony Coughlan. It seems that Roy Johnston has been fired from the CPI. They gave him the Peace Committee and it is now his latest plaything. Apparently Noel Harris has had a nervous breakdown thanks to a “Stickie” intrigue in his Union office. His wife, Rhona, is extremely worried. It seems he has suffered a complete collapse. But then since his sole cultural pabulum is television, what ballast will he have?
March 3 Friday: In the evening Daltún O Ceallaigh brought over the microfilm reader that O’Caollai gave us. He will keep the extra one for the union.
March 4 Saturday: Tony Coughlan gave a party this evening. It was largely for the ISM sale of work helpers. Cathal and Helga came, Uinseann MacEoin, Rhona Harris, Daltún O Ceallaigh and quite a few others, including Roy Johnston. It was Japanese torture. Whoever I was speaking to, didn’t Roy sidle up to find out what was going on and put in his mouth. I hear he has got some money out of Michael Mullen by dint of perseverance. I had a talk with Rona Harris. I told her that Noel should make his peace with Clive Jenkins against whom he has been an outspoken rebel. Jenkins has offered him a place at a convalescent home. I said he should take it and while there he could become newly convinced of Jenkins’s virtues. These fools here would probably walk into the trap and attack him for becoming a “Jenkins man”. He could then combine with Jenkins to crush them, and then with his rear safe pursue his own course. She thought the same. It seems that they are not above rifling his filing cabinets and briefcase to find means of damning him. I told them about Ted Ainley, who used to visit one of the Embassies. Some official asked him for an assessment of Ben Smith, his second in command. Like a fool he wrote it. Like a bloody fool he left it is his briefcase. Like a lunatic he left the briefcase in his office. Smith found it while making a routine check of his principal’s property. This gentleman then abstracted it and stipulated as a condition of returning it that Ainley should resign and recommend Smith as his successor. He did, and Smith followed him as Secretary of the AScW.
March 5 Sunday: I stayed in most of the day. In the evening Cathal and Helga came out. Finula is still in London, and Egon unemployed [These were two of the MacLiam children].
March 6 Monday: I was in the National Library all day. Rhona Harris came out and took Tony Coughlan to visit Noel Harris away out in Lucan.
March 7 Tuesday: I was again in the Library. Eoin O Murchú had lunch with us. Helena is in Moscow working on her thesis. He told us the SFWP Ard Fheis was not as well attended as previously. The Harris element carried the day. They are to participate in the EEC elections. They have not yet dropped the SF [ie. “Sinn Fein” in their name] but are preparing for it. And they line up with Mason against the “Provisionals”[Roy Mason, Labour Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. 1976-79]. Their Waterford and Cork sections dissent.
March 8 Wednesday: I was in the National Library all day.
March 9 Thursday: A letter from Eddie Cowman said that that meddling Irene Brennan has sent a letter not to Eddie Cowman or myself but to our Executive suggesting a joint approach to the Home Secretary on the Prevention of Terrorism Act. “This will take us off course,” is his comment. It will not! I imagine that Clann na hEireann is waiting in the wings to be trotted along with them. It is very reminiscent of the English committee of the International Workers Association in Marx’s day, anxious to manage the affairs of the Irish. They are steeped in chauvinism. But until this lady came along I had hoped we might have put a wee dent in it [Irene Brennan was an Executive Committee member of the CPGB].
I saw Daltún O Ceallaigh. He was telling me of the plying of Michael Mullen with coffee to soften him up for the wages agreement press conference. Apparently also Meade in Galway has died, so Pat Powell is in full charge [ie. of the Galway branch of the ITGWU]. Meade was only 39.
March 10 Friday: I phoned Rathmines in the morning. Daltún O Ceallaigh came out to see me last night and stayed later than I wished. He was not in this morning. The girl on the switchboard said, “You must have left him in a terrible state last night.” Now how did she know I was with him? A guess, I imagine, as I did not leave him. He left me, under his own steam, in his car, and though he had drink taken, not the worse for it. Then his secretary said something along the same lines. Now I registered it in my mind as something to be noted. Tony Coughlan has gone to Scotland.
March 11 Saturday: In the afternoon I was walking down O’Connell St when I saw Miriam Daly speaking outside the Post Office. The meeting was run by ICRA [ie. the Irish Civil Rights Association, supported by Provisional Sinn Fein]. Our former CA member Peter Grimes was there. I was quite astonished at the way he now looks the typical better type of “Provisional”. It would not surprise me if he was in the CA for “intelligence” purposes. It reminds me of those Roy Johnston sent in. When Sean Redmond retired they all rushed to join the CA in hopes that this would get one of them the job!
In the evening Rhona Harris drove me out to Lucan, where Noel Harris lies under heavy sedation in an isolated country house. The more I heard of it the more ridiculous the whole thing seems. They encourage these fellows to sit on their backsides in chairs or car all day, to drink morning noon and night, and to dope themselves with television. When there is trouble it festers at the back of their minds. When the problems that have not been faced overcome them, because there is no thought-out course of action and the organism seeks relief in collapse, instead of helping them to solve the unsolved question they turn them into cabbages. Moreover, this fool doctor is telling him to go back to work immediately he is no longer drugged, instead of advising that he take Clive Jenkins’s offer and starts turning the tables on his enemies. For he would then go back to face the very thing he ran away from, with nothing gained but two weeks’ systematic poisoning of his nervous system.
March 12 Sunday: I went to look for Peter Purcell, son of a founder of the ITGWU, but he was out. I saw Cathal in the afternoon, but he was tired out.
March 13 Monday: I spent the day again in the National Library.
March 14 Tuesday: Again a day in the National Library. In the evening I found Peter Purcell. This repeatedly happened. He said he knew me well and used to read the “Democrat” for years. Also Denis Larkin had told him I might be looking for him. And during the war he used to live in New Ferry.
March 15 Wednesday: Today was largely wasted. Mullen had arranged to meet a Mrs Crowley who was donating to the union some historic photographs. Daltún O Ceallaigh asked if I would go down. When I got there there was no sign of Mullen, who had gone to a funeral. The visitors thus gate crashed a sub-committee and Clancy received the documents while we all had our photographs taken. Then it transpired that Mullen had thought the reception had been postponed a half hour, and he had to buy them a lunch to make all smooth again.
March 16 Thursday (Liverpool): I was driven to Dun Laoire by Daltún O Ceallaigh and returned by train to Liverpool.
March 17 Friday: I went into town to buy things and then started on clearing up my study ready for writing the ITGWU history. I am beginning to get to grips with it, but again it will be forced marches and imperfect work. I never had so much to do as during the past year.
March 18 Saturday: I went on with sorting and clearing.
March 19 Sunday: The weather has turned wild and though I had hoped to tackle the garden, it is far too wet. However, there is enough to keep me busy in the house.
March 20 Monday: The first day of spring was marked by none of the ameliorations one expects from that season. But I got on with the Union History.
March 21 Tuesday: More work on the Union history. Emmet Larkin has sent me his notes taken from the missing file 275.
March 22 Wednesday: More on the Union history.
March 23 Thursday: I worked on the Union History but broke off to listen to Cherubini’s “Anacreon” on the radio. Eddie Cowman telephoned to say that he was in the House of Commons for the debate on the Prevention of Terrorism Act and 20 MPs opposed the renewal. He also told me that Maher and Blennerhassett, two good lads in the building trade, are now asking sceptical questions about the “Better Life for All” campaign, along such lines as, “Is it only intended to help the Protestants?” That sabotaging woman who invented the thing, possibly prompted by the SFWP crowd, is not getting it all her own way. But it will take a generation to repair the damage she has done. She has destroyed our work with the English and lined them up with the Orangemen. Incidentally it has come to grief in Belfast as well. Noel Harris told me that Michael O’Riordan had visited that place to “read the riot act” because everything has fallen flat. And how could anything else happen when their policy is what it is. Mark Clinton wrote saying that he is getting little help from his own members but seems to have about three who do something. Well, Manchester used to be as bad as that. Glenholmes seems to be the main addition.
March 24 Friday (London): I went to London on the midday train and found Eddie Cowman in the office. I was out in Hammersmith with him.
Mar 25 Saturday: I saw the usual people in the office in the day and was again in Hammersmith with Gerry Curran.
March 26 Sunday: We held a Standing Committee in the morning and decided not to join with Irene Brennan in her plan to lead everybody to the Home Secretary. In the early afternoon we had a finance sub-committee meeting and decided to try to keep Eddie Cowman on. Those present were Paddy Bond, Jane Tate, Pat O’Donohue and myself. It was amusing to see Pat O’Donohue trying to bait Jane and herself rising to the bait. It involves raising over £1000. Then I went to Hyde Park and said a few words, with Charlie Cunningham, Chris Sullivan and Gerry Curran. Noel Moynihan was there and one notes the bookshop is being run efficiently and without fuss. Eddie Cowman has recovered from his demoralisation, I hope not too late. I was out in Paddington with Charlie Cunningham.
March 27 Monday: I worked on the paper all day. It was Bank Holiday but Eddie Cowman came in. He is going to Birmingham tomorrow. Mark Clinton talks of calling a conference in June, but I’ll swear he has not done a thing.
March 28 Tuesday: Eddie Cowman went to Birmingham. I went to address a meeting of the Acton UCATT. When I got there I saw Hourigan sitting in the chair. Now he is credited with being Clann na hEireann and not having much love for the Connolly Association. It was the secretary of the branch who had me invited. And indeed at first, when I heard all the reports of the “Better Life For All” campaign, I wondered how I was going to tackle things. It had to be, “this is all very good, but there is also…” I was successful in this because I saw that I influenced Hourigan, a Limerick man, and indeed though I did not mention the “declaration of intent”, since it is Lynch’s policy we are founding ourselves on, I had him doing it [ie. Irish Taoiseach Jack Lynch]. After the meeting was over I had a talk with him. He said he was with the “Officials” but had quarrelled with Clann na hEireann. He asked about the differences between the CPI and the SFWP. I told him I favoured the CPI. “I think that’s what I’d join if I went home,” he said.
March 29 Wednesday (Liverpool): There was so much to be done in the office that I did not get away until the 4.50 train. A letter from Tony Coughlan told me that Jim O’Regan is very ill. He was shocked by the change in him and does not think he is long for this world. Yet he smokes like a chimney.
March 30 Thursday: I did some clearing up. Then the lights fused. I had Ashford up as I suspected a fitting. He repaired it, so all was well.
March 31 Friday: The piano tuner came in the afternoon and I had a word with Eddie Cowman on the phone. I was quite right. A month has gone by and Mark Clinton has not done a thing. Eddie talks of going there again next week or the week after that. But I do not like the idea of frittering away the money that should pay his salary for the stimulation of a likeable lazy bone. The number of people with ability is small; it is smaller among those prepared to use it.
April 1 Saturday: I managed to get in a few hours reading in connection with the Union history, but I am uneasy at being so far behind. It has taken so long to catch up with the sources.
April 2 Sunday: For the first time the weather permitted me to do a bit in the garden. I was giving Jean Brown some turnips when she told me that on a very mild night while I was in London the burglar alarm rang. A policeman called but could not get it to work, so he switched it off. We fell to talking about burglars. It seems the burglarising window cleaner is about again, and cleaning windows! She told me how she was in a quiet and somewhat genteel neighbourhood paying a call when she turned out sharply and caught a boy holding a stone in his hand, obviously on the point of hurling it through a glass-protected street sign. “He was a lovely boy,” she said, “well dressed and well spoken. He was so surprised that he said to me “’Do you want a stone?’ I replied, ‘What would I want with a stone?’ ‘To smash something up,’ he replied. ‘Why smash something up?’ ‘For a laugh.’ ‘What did those boys smash up the ferry boat for?’ ‘For the laugh.’” She saw he was with another taller and probably older boy who kept out of the conversation. She got into her car and when she came level with them she called the younger one over.
“Now,” said she, “I’m from a different generation from you. When I was your age we used to make things and grow things, not smash them.” He was prepared to listen. “Now what are you going to be when you’re grown up. You’ve obviously got some brains and you could do well.” He replied, “I think I’ll be one of those satanic persons.”
Obviously he did not invent this himself at the age of 14. I think it is potential Fascism. If ever a generation was mis-educated it is those who form the “television generation”. Not that they need to watch that. That is simply the guarantee that they derive their ideas from big business and not from their parents. I thought of Finula [ie. his friend Cathal MacLiam’s eldest daughter]. “She has no ambition” says Helga. “She is working as a telephonist in London and says that in twenty years there’ll be socialism.” I wonder does she think she won’t have to work then?
April 3 Monday: Ripley asked me to put off my visit to read the proofs, but I got something done in the garden. I was speaking to Eddie Cowman on the phone and he told me of the visit to Birmingham. Of Mark Clinton he says, “the flesh is weak.” His wife was in bed all the time. Whether this is sickness or confinement I do not know. Of Frank Watters [ie. the local CPGB organiser in Birmingham] he said, “He’s a funny fellow. He told me “The Irish are as racialist as anybody else.” I told him, “That’s what I’m here for. We can say something to them that you can’t and wouldn’t think of, the relation with the Orange order and the history of imperialism.”
April 4 Tuesday: I went to Ripley and all went well.
April 5 Wednesday (Dublin): I caught the usual train and when I got to Dublin found Tony Coughlan waiting at Amiens St. He said that Noel Harris is still bedrugged in the nursing home and seems to be trying to avoid his Union conference. I think it is silly nonsense. He should think of a course of action and follow it out.
April 6 Thursday: I discovered that Daltún O Ceallaigh was away on holiday at Elsie O’Dowling’s cottage in Connemara. Helga has just come back from it. They gave Elsie a few bob. I spent the day in the National library.
April 7 Friday: Again I spent the day in the Library, but saw Cathal in the evening.
April 8 Saturday: I went in to see Sean Nolan and had a look at the “British Road to Socialism.” They have included the main point I stressed in my letter to Gordon McLennan – recognition of the right of the majority of the Irish people to rule the whole of their country. It may be I have convinced them. Or it may be that they do not understand what they have written. It is there but accompanied by much vague slush – though even this is very substantially reduced. So perhaps all is not lost. If they got rid of that egregious woman there might be a faint hope.
April 9 Sunday: I cycled down to Cathal’s for lunch. Egon MacLiam has got a job in a tourist office that brings him £40 a week. To everybody’s surprise Finula walked in, thin, broke, slightly sulky and entirely lacking in joie de vivre. She has lived in four “squats” since she went over and all she can talk about is “pop” (popular) music. She seemed so listless that I wondered if she had been using cannabis. I hope not.
April 10 Monday: I was in the library all day but at about 10 pm. I saw Daltún O Ceallaigh unexpectedly in the wine shop in Dundrum. He is pressing his suit with a wee girl, so we may soon have a wedding. Tony Coughlan has not seen Jim O’Regan again, but he suspects it may be cancer of the lung. He still smokes like a chimney.
April 11 Tuesday: I had lunch with Daltún O Ceallaigh, otherwise spent the day in the Library. Tony Coughlan told me that Jim O’Regan’s brother is back and thinks the disease is no worse than starvation due to self-neglect. He thinks the brother may take him in hand.
I went into Pearse Street Library and while I was talking with Mrs Dowd, Miss O’Beirne came in [ie. the City Librarian who had encouraged Greaves to do an initial sorting of the Ernie O’Malley papers in the Pearse Street library. See earlier volume]. She recognised me at once and was most cordial, indeed promised to find out for me when Megahey was appointed to the Municipal Art Gallery. She thinks he was not curator, but merely a messenger. O’Casey calls him a Galway Art teacher. She is an excellent woman in every way, indeed a breath of fresh air. She knew young Jim Larkin when she was Librarian in Bray. She said he was a “librarian’s delight”, always borrowing the most important books on any subject he was following up. She told me about Ballymun. The skyscraper ghetto is just north of the new crossroads. On the south side is a row of middleclass semi-detached houses. The church is sited on the side of those remote from the flats. She drew a map and showed me a blank space between the houses and the flats. “I put my library there,” she said, jabbing her finger on the spot. “Next to the ghetto. I don’t give a damn! They’re borrowing eight hundred and fifty books a day.”
She told me that the natural political position that a person like herself would take up was Labour. But she cannot agree with the coalition policy – that Labour should never stand on its own feet. And she told me something that was explanatory. She said this to Larkin, but he wouldn’t agree. His reason was that the main body of the Labour movement was the Trade Union movement. In other words, he showed the traces of syndicalism, or if not that, of misprision of politics. I was telling her about McInerney and O’Brien, Thornley and Keating. She said perhaps O’Brien had something to be said in his favour; after all he raised issues. I told her that I could think of little to commend him. “I agree,” she said. Then she said that Justin Keating was the best of them. I told her that I knew his mother well, and oddly enough she knew the father. I remarked that of all the people I ever met he is the most obsessed with “getting on”. She said it was the fault of his upbringing. Sean Keating was by no means an easy man to get on with. Perhaps there were occasional financial problems when he was not selling many pictures. Justin Keating was determined to be a success. It was inferiority complex. I remarked that if he had refused a cabinet post in the coalition and had the sense to stand down, he would have become the leader of the Labour Party and would have a chance to be Taoiseach. She entirely agreed. Of Denis Larkin she said, “He looks like his father, but he is only a shell.” She was disappointed in Frank Robbins’s book. It is embittered and one-sided. she is also a friend of O’Snodaigh’s. But she had only heard of Tony Coughlan.
April 12 Wednesday: I spent another day in the Library. There is still a mass of material to be gone through.
April 13 Thursday: The day today was spent in the National Library. I had lunch with Daltún O Ceallaigh. They held a meeting of the ISM to decide what to do about the direct elections [ie. to the European Assembly/ Parliament, the first direct election to which took place in 1979]. I told them they would have to widen the thing out beyond the “Provisionals” and the CPI. For if these are the only people pronouncing a boycott it won’t be successful. I suggested that they call a very wide conference to consider objectively what the effect of joining the EEC has been. If this can get a broad consensus that it has been deleterious, then the argument can be made that “every vote gets us deeper in.”
April 14 Friday: Today was largely wasted. Tony Coughlan brought Daltún O Ceallaigh back from the meeting because he wanted to see me, but as is the Dublin custom, he stayed into the small hours and I got up late. Daltún went to Sligo today, with McKenna and Whiston. Now Whiston keeps the key of the room where I have some of my materials kept for safety and it couldn’t be found. Moreover, I had to stay there because the youngest of the Geraghty family, Hugh, wanted to consult me about Partridge, whom he hopes to write about. I found him by far the best of that family. According to Tony Coughlan he is the youngest, but he certainly looks older than some of the others. I would put him near forty.
April 15 Saturday (Liverpool): I took a taxi to Dun Laoire and returned to Liverpool. There were two letters and a paper from Colm Power. He is afraid the Government will get a good turnout for the European elections by holding them on the same day as the local ones.
April 16 Sunday: I did little apart from some clearing up and getting ready to go away for a few days.
April 17 Monday (Cynwyd): I cycled to Heswall Hills on the first reasonably dry day that wasn’t fiercely cold. I took the train to Rhuabon and then cycled through Llangollen and Corwen to Cynwyd. The old warden there, who despite his Lancashire accent is a native of Cynwyd and speaks Welsh (I think slowly but am not a judge of ability), is showing his years. He has bronchitis and his energy has gone. At night he goes down to the local bar. There was nobody there but myself.
April 18 Tuesday (Dinas Mawddwy): The fine weather quickly broke. There was rain this morning and it was cold again. All the same I cycled to Bala where I had lunch, and on through Llanwchillyn to Dinas Mawddwy. The only others there were three young Australians whose mother was staying at the hotel. They were quite superior youngsters and would be a credit to any country – the first decent Australians I ever met, though I knew such must exist. The boy was still at school, and at about 18 was thinking of college. He has an elder sister at Oxford on a Commonwealth scholarship, studying Icelandic on a postgraduate basis and looking for a job as a lecturer. The two girls, aged about 20 and 22, were obviously intelligent and alert, and opposed to the EEC like any sensible Australian would be. All of them were active. A thing was no sooner suggested than it was done.
April 19 Wednesday (Blaencaron): I cycled to Machynlleth in just under an hour. Then I took the train to Aberystwyth and cycled via Sarn Helen to Tregaron. There was present an American graduate who after completing two terms of postgraduate economics had given up. He was reading Veblen. Though by no means stupid, he was without energy – the opposite of the Australians. He was helpless too. He opened a tin of sardines, fried or rather warmed them in a pan, and after eating them, drank water. He had brought nothing with him. Then for another meal he opened a large tin of baked beans which he wolfed without bread or condiment, and then drank water again. Very poor company, a feeble crock.
April 20 Thursday: It started to rain at about 4 pm. yesterday. Today it went on from morning till night. There was nothing to be done.
April 21 Friday: It rained most of the morning and the rest of the day though dry was cold. There are no leaves on the trees. Some hawthorn hedges are green, others not. Even the sloes have not yet flowered. There are celandines, windflowers in some woods, primroses and one or two small crucifers. But no sign of hyacinth, Geranium Robertianum and such as would be expected. I decided to return tomorrow, to stay at Dinas and then go on to Cynwyd and Liverpool.
April 22 Saturday (Cynwyd): Today was bright and chilly, with a good following wind. I cycled to Aberystwyth, took the train to Machynlleth and was in Dinas by 4.15 pm. I decided to push on over the pass and arrived at Cynwyd at about 8.15. I was alone again. “It is very quiet,” said the warden. One almost fears the ice age is round the corner!
April 23 Sunday: I cycled to Rhuabon against a very cold, strong unpleasant east wind – though the sun was warm. I continued to Wrexham as the train was not due, and there took the train to Chester. It was half an hour late and just missed the connection for Rock Ferry. I decided to cycle and was in 124 Mount Road in little over an hour, for reason I had the east wind behind me. I felt a little tired after all the physical exertion, though the maximum distance travelled in any day was only 48 miles (I used to think nothing of 150!), so I had a drink and retired at midnight.
April 24 Monday: I did a little work on the paper. Unfortunately, Tony Coughlan has sent his copy to London, but Eddie Cowman said he would send it here. I still felt a trifle tired. Not that that is much harm. Once you get over the immediate muscular strain you feel the benefit of the exercise.
April 25 Tuesday: I did more work on the paper. Eddie Cowman spoke on the telephone. Charlie Cunningham is off to Ireland for a holiday tomorrow. Jim McDonald and others are starting an East London branch on Thursday. Fifteen MPs have agreed to sponsor our appeal for advertisements – this is very good. And Eddie Cowman seems to be on top of the world. I hope we can go on paying him.
April 26 Wednesday: I continued with the paper. The weather is still almost wintry. On the astronomical scale it is now equal to August 18 – on the meteorological one it is equal to November 5. It feels like mid-December. There has not been a day when the temperature reached 60’F, and I doubt if it has twice reached 55’F. It hovers between 45’F and 52’F. All the same I am cutting some very nice cauliflowers – the best I ever raised – and purple sprouting broccoli.
April 27 Thursday (London): I took the two o’clock train to London and found Eddie Cowman in the office. He had called a meeting of members in East London and it was agreed to start a branch in the area. A man named Twomey who married one of our very active members some years ago and then moved out East, agreed to be the secretary. Jim McDonald was there, but I expect little from him. He came into politics in an English contest and spends his life going to one meeting after another.
April 28 Friday: I was in the office most of the day but cannot say I saw much for it. I was out with Jim Kelly who has reappeared, not to much purpose.
April 29 Saturday: I was in the office all day. There is no doubt that Eddie Cowman has developed enormously during the year he has been with us. We have still managed to keep him going and have enough for another month.
I went for dinner to Pat O’Donohue’s. I was surprised at the invitation, but since Toni Curran gave up the bookshop in a scunder there has been a diplomatic revolution. Pat O’Donohue is all sweetness and light. His wife is a mellowing influence. Toni Curran has actually offered to help Noel Moynihan get out a new catalogue. By contrast, Charlie Cunningham is gradually dropping out and has gone job-hunting in Dublin. As always after a prolonged strike he is demoralised. Of course he may recover as he did before. There was a wee party at John Boyd’s, a kind of repeat of the affair at the Kenilworth [John Boyd lived in Ealing, was a campaigner against the EEC and founded the Campaign Against Euro-federalism]. Andrew Rothstein was there [British communist intellectual], also Molloy, the local MP, more than something of a showman. I said a few suitable words.
April 30 Sunday: We had the Standing Committee in the morning and discussed the Association’s forty year “jubilee,” which we are going to try to use to put the thing back on the map. Eddie Cowman reported a decided up-turn in the amount of correspondence and numbers of enquiries. It looks as if Clann na hEireann in London is dead. I always thought Irene Brennan would give them the kiss of death. In the afternoon we had an editorial meeting. Gerry Curran was there, but he suffers from continuous and worsening “depression” and in my opinion is a sick man and unable to make a job of the book page, which has badly gone off.
May 1 Monday (Liverpool): Again the weather was very cold – I doubt if the temperature reached 50F – though it was not raining. Jane Tate told me on the phone that in London it poured rain out of the heavens all day, but the Connolly Association had 24 walkers in the May Day parade, while Clann na hEireann put in only a token appearance. One or two things I did not note: Paddy Bond was at Irene Brennan’s committee of amateurs, dilettantes and meddlers [ie. an “Irish Committee” of Irish CPGB members, mainly in London]. They received the letter in which we declined to move on the Prevention of Terrorism Act until after Shackleton had reported and were compelled to admit its good sense. On Saturday evening Andrew Rothstein was talking about present trends, and the uniform dullness of the ‘Morning Star”. This he ascribed to the present “nationalist” policy, which ignores international obligations. He told me that he had pursued the Casement poem, written by Scawen Blunt, with Lord Lytton, but that that gentleman had informed him that all Blunt’s papers were in the possession of Lady Longford who is writing his life. Andrew groaned.
May 2 Tuesday: It rained all day, morning, noon and night, and was very cold. The garden is inaccessible and is weeks behind. The danger is a sudden heatwave which will bring everything up when I am unable to attend to it.
May 3 Wednesday: I had a letter from Mark Clinton. He tells me that both Frank Watters and Goulding are opposed to his conference. But he has put himself in an illogical position. He has extracted from them a promise to give all the help they can. Now nobody is going to be energetic in pursuing something which he thinks is foolishness. Mark Clinton thinks that Frank Watters’s reluctance is derived from a general reluctance to further Irish causes. He accused Mark of “opportunism” and of “jumping on the anti-racialist bandwagon,” all of which is nonsense and at the same time shows the utter backwardness of the man. It is no wonder the CP makes no progress when one realises the poor quality of its representatives. He has just not the brains to see what are the determinants of social developments. However, Mark Clinton has no right to expect Frank Watters to do what he doesn’t want to do, and if Mark was dependent on his good will he should have consulted him. If he was not so dependent he could let him go to the devil. So there we see Mark’s own backwardness. I wired him and when he rang said I would see him in Birmingham. But how am I going to get him out of the mess? I had a word with Eddie Cowman, who agreed with me. He adds that Frank Watters dislikes Mark Clinton and thinks he is no use.
May 4 Thursday: I got a little done in the garden and a little on the book. A letter from Dorothy Greaves said she could not throw off bronchitis, is suffering acutely from the unnaturally prolonged cold weather, is giving up the insurance agency, and looking for a smaller house. I told her I thought she was wise and that I would try to get down to see her. So there is another brick of the ruin getting loose.
May 5 Friday: I went to Ripley. All was reasonably well. Then I went to Birmingham where Mark Clinton met me at New Street. The difficulty is that he does not think politically and mixes personal things with politics. It struck me that Frank Watters would come in on the thing if he was given an opportunity to send a speaker, so I advised Mark Clinton to widen it. It is commonsense, I told him, that for all the promises “extracted” from him, he is not going to put himself out in an enterprise of which he disapproves and out of which he stands to gain nothing. He told me that now he thinks it is not Irene Brennan but her twin Mary Brennan who is getting married. So we shall still have her meddling around, though as I think she has run out of ideas, we may not have so much trouble as we feared. Mark told me that he and Sean Kenny carried the Connolly Association banner on May Day. Clann na hEireann did not show up, but SFWP had somebody in Birmingham. I reached 124 Mount Road at 11 pm., but strangely I was not particularly tired, though I went out at 8.20 am.
The larger trees have no trace of a leaf on them over a great part of the Midlands. I never saw such a stagnant season. One forgets what the sun looks like. Always there is an East wind and intermittent rain or drizzle.
May 6 Saturday: I had intended to go to Dublin today, but I had not things ready and spent the day preparing.
May 7 Sunday: It was possible to do a little in the garden and though it was still cold I made some progress.
May 8 Monday (Dublin): I left at the usual time and reached Amiens Street, where Tony Coughlan awaited me. We went up to 24 Belgrave Road as I had brought some cauliflowers out of the garden for Helga. Despite the weather they have been excellent this year. Finula was home, and seems likely to remain. Apparently Alf McLaughlin’s youngster did not make a powerful success of his “pop” music and she had to support him. Growing tired of this she returned (I think Cathal sent the fare) so that her parents could support her, as indeed they will do, as they should. It is a pity, however, that she wears an expression of perpetual discontent. Egon, on the other hand, has the assurance of a successful man. With £40 a week of which his mother only takes £7, one fears he will do no more studying.
May 9 Tuesday: In one of those amazing transformations that can occur, the weather today was brilliantly sunny all day, without a cloud in the sky. But none the less it was barely warm – perhaps the middle sixties at best. I met Daltún O Ceallaigh for lunch. He told me of Roy Johnston’s latest. The SFWP have opened a shop, and launched their venture with a liquid reception, with plenty of cakes and booze. Roy came from it to the Wolfe Tone Society. “It was a great pity we had dinner before going there,” says he unashamedly. He attended a reception of the Russian society run by Frank Edwards. The Russian artistes were preparing to sing, but my bold Roy was deep in conversation. “Now Roy,” says Frank Edwards, “let’s have a little attention.” “Fuck off!” cries Roy to the surprise of all present. “A very embarrassing incident to some of them,” says Daltún. Daltún told me that Michael Mullen is in hospital and is far from well.
May 10 Wednesday: I had spoken to O’Luanaigh yesterday [Gerard Lyne/O Luanaigh, keeper of manuscripts at the National Library at the time] and today Daltún and I took him to Liberty Hall and showed him the archives. He was very keen on the National Library’s getting them. I saw Alf McLaughlin afterwards and he was bursting to get something on paper. “What if you and Dalton Kelly are both knocked down by buses?” The National Library staff seem deeply conscious of the uncertainty of human life. On the way back in the car O’Luanaigh spoke of the great difficulty of completing the ITGWU history, by “you or your successor”.
May 11 Thursday: I wrote to Eddie, to Emmet O’Connor (for whom the egregious Biddy O’Connor seized the remaining papers of the founder of the ITGWU in Waterford, after which Colm Power indiscreetly interfered) and to Nora Niland [Colm Power was a CA activist in London who had returned to live in his native Waterford]. She is running an exhibition to mark the visit of the ITGWU to Sligo and thinks all the local minutes are in Liberty Hall. I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and George Gilmore. Tony told me that Jim O’Regan had died. Jim Savage had telephoned TCD. So there goes another we can with difficulty spare, while rats prance around like race-horses. I first met Jim O’Regan in Cork in July 1939 when on holiday there with John Lancaster and we took to each other at once. The standing joke was our plan to meet on Patrick’s Bridge at 8 pm. He arrived at 9 pm. and as the bars closed at that hour, I expressed some dissatisfaction. But apparently the “closing” was to be understood in a purely Pickwickian sense. We went to Counahan’s. Lighted cigarettes were everywhere to be seen glowing in the darkness and change was counted by lifting the rim of a bucket that covered a candle. I did not examine the device. The oxygen must have been inserted in some way, but how I did not know. The next I saw of him was in Parkhurst Prison, and I remember having to go to the Prison Commissioner and interview those horsefaced men – all policemen, never a doubt [Jim O’Regan had been imprisoned in Dartmoor and Parkhurst Prisons during World War 2 for his connection with IRA activity in England in 1939].
At 11.30 Daltún O Ceallaigh came home with Tony Coughlan. He announced that Michael Mullen, who had been lying in bed surrounded by telephones, had discharged himself, but not before Noel Harris had visited him and he invited him to join the ITGWU. Noel Harris is still not back at work and I understand the conference of the Irish section takes place this weekend.
May 12 Friday: In the morning Tony Coughlan dressed in jet black set off for Jim O’Regan’s funeral. He goes to Cork every weekend because his mother, aged 77, is growing a trifle frail. I was in the National Library all day myself, and there is plenty yet to do.
May 13 Saturday: I was telephoned at about 9.30 by Rhona Harris who told me Betty Sinclair was staying with them and asked me to come over. Noel Harris picked me up in the car. The impossibility of getting the Irish question properly discussed by the CPs had been engaging us both, and I do not see much prospect. Noel Harris seemed back to normal.
May 14 Sunday: I went to Cathal’s for lunch. Alan Morton and Freda and Alisoun were there. I was struck by Freda’s showing her age. She has been suffering from a stomach ulcer, brought on, it is said, by Alisoun’s repeated illnesses. In the evening I had dinner at Muriel Saidlear’s [at 24 Crawford Avenue, Drumcondra], and again there were Alan, Freda, and Alisoun, plus Tony Coughlan who had returned from Cork to act as chairman of an anti-nuclear conference.
May 15 Monday (Sligo): I went to Sligo. The first person I met in the office was Dardis Clarke. A year ago I gave a talk. Roddy wanted it printed. Micheal Mullen wrote a preface. Roddy wrote another preface to the preface – and we are still waiting. This is an example of Clarke’s dynamism. I was driven round a number of old members’ houses. Then I met Declan Bree and stayed the night at his place. He is quite a remarkable young man and I hope he does not yield to his generous impulse to go up for the council as a CP candidate. He is better as an Independent. He has one small child, but his wife expects another. He runs a second-hand bookshop, but as he scarcely makes a living he is trying to develop a trade in new books. O’Callaghan, who drove me round, thinks he is a “nice fellow” but deplores his politics.
May 16 Tuesday: I met O’Callaghan at the Union office. After calling upon one or two local people we went up to Summerhill College where I met Father Lavan who had written for a copy of my pamphlet on Fr O’Flanagan. O’Callaghan was in his element. He emphasised his close connections with the clergy. But the priest, an Arigna man, a teacher of Irish and as well able to blaspheme as old Fr Duffy [ie. Fr Clarence Duffy, an old friend of Greaves’s], was constrained to remark that it was bad to be “great” with the clergy, though you shouldn’t be “out” with them. I forget the precise form of the adage. I left for Dublin by the 2.15 train, and Declan Bree came to see me off. I think O’Callaghan is not pleased that the history is being written by somebody he regards as an outsider. Miss Niland, whom we visited first, lent him my life of Connolly, but I think he feels a trifle uneasy about Connolly too! I spent the evening in the National Library.
May 17 Wednesday: I spent the whole day in the National Library, morning, afternooon and evening. The weather is dry but still a trifle cold.
May 18 Thursday: Again I spent the whole day in the Library.
May 19 Friday: I called in to Sean Nolan in the early afternoon. He told me that Noel Harris is in woeful difficulties. He was told by Clive Jenkins to see him before he returned to work. He is seeing him today. But events took a more sinister turn when last week Jenkins postponed the interview a week and sent him instructions not to resume his duties until further instructions. In the meantime he sent out a circular to the effect that Noel Harris had resigned. He moved with complete ruthlessness. While Harris was lying in drugged slumber the plot against his livelihood was given leisurely development, and if Michael Mullen could not have him, or is too sick to take a decision, what then? I saw Mullen yesterday at Liberty Hall. He is not well. Clancy told Daltún O Ceallaigh, “His liver is fucked.”
I went this morning to Bray and met an old man. Then in the afternoon I met Francis Devine and Peter Rigney, who has given up the civil service and is now assistant General Secretary of the Union Sean Redmond left. He is a most energetic young man and bursting with enthusiasm for Labour history. When I saw Tony Coughlan, in the small hours returned from Wexford, and told him about Noel Harris, he said he would go up and see Rhona Harris.
May 20 Saturday (Liverpool): I took a taxi to Dun Laoire and reached 124 Mount Road in the middle of the afternoon. There was no post – nothing from the Workers Music Association [which was publishing his booklet “The Easter Rising in Song and Story”], nothing from Lawrence and Wishart, so three of my works hang fire.
May 21 Sunday: The weather was quite warm, and dry. I spent the day in the garden.
May 22 Monday: Again the weather was warm and dry – by warm this year I mean the low sixties – and again I spent the day in the garden. I had a word or two with Eddie Cowman, who telephoned. Irene Brennan had told him that Jimmy Stewart is spending a week in England and asked him to arrange for him to speak at Central London. This is the patronising way everything is always done by those chauvinists at Farrington Road [ie. the “Morning Star” premises in that street, where the London CP District was based]. Why do they not write to the branch? Why assume that Eddie Cowman has the power to order our branches to change their speakers? Of course it is a matter of finding places for him to speak. I told Eddie to say we have got Betty Sinclair next Wednesday and it would be inappropriate to have two speakers from the one organisation at such close intervals. She also wanted me to speak at the “Communist University of London”. Paddy Bond said the subject suggested at her “Advisory Committee” was Republicanism Today. I might have considered that. But it was Republicanism before 1922. I told her in a letter from Dublin that in any of the past few years I would have been delighted to accept an invitation, but that this year I had too much on my hands. Tomorrow I hope to see how things are going in London. I saw O’Caollai several times in Dublin. Today Ashford came in and fitted a strip light in the lounge to supplement the other lights, which have twice failed. The strip light works off the power circuit.
May 23 Tuesday (London): I travelled to London to work on the paper. First the underground broke down. Then there was a strike of restaurant car staff. But I arrived in the end and found Eddie Cowman. He told me there was a revival of interest in the Association, but the members are demoralised. This probably stems from Charlie Cunningham and Michael Ryan, whose unsuccessful strike affected them badly.
May 24 Wednesday: I continued to work on the paper. The weather has started to take up and seems to promise a dry spell. This year falls 45 years after 1933, and on the expectations of Boyd, it should stand at the centre of the five warmest years since then. In the evening Betty Sinclair came to the meeting and there was a fair attendance. Chris Sullivan and Pegeen O’Sullivan were there, and Pegeen gave me back Clarkson’s book magnificently bound, and refused to accept a fee [ie. JD Clarkson’s “Labour and Nationalism in Ireland”, 1925].
May 25 Thursday: The fine weather continued. It would not surprise me if we had another dry summer. I do not expect a “normal” one. I finished most of the paper.
May 26 Friday: I was in the office all day and in the evening was with Eddie Cowman in Holloway. We did badly. I have noticed however the increasing number of phone calls and enquiries.
May 27 Saturday: Today was definitely warm – about 68’F – so there is a chance of reaching 70’F by the beginning of June, without which a warm summer is unlikely. We had a visit from Ann Doherty while the Standing Committee was in progress. There is a distinct anti-communist group forming in it, led by Charlie Cunningham and Michael Ryan, and needless to say Pat O’Donohue backs them up. We see nothing of Toni Curran.
May 28 Sunday: I was in the office in the morning. The rest of the day was reasonably successful. Eddie Cowman went to the Gaelic games at Morden and sold £116 worth of books. Cormac McKeown gave a good talk at the Summer School on the Irish language and a successful social evening followed. Among those present were Betty Sinclair, May Hayes, Elsie O’Dowling, Noel O’Connell of the Irish Texts Society, the Gaelic teachers Daly and Kenneally, Hanley, Maher, Tadhg Egan, Oliver Mulligan the singer, and Maolachlann O Caollai from Dublin, Toni Curran and Niall [ie. one of Toni Curran’s two sons]. Barry Riordan from Oxford and one of his Irish class were also there, together with many young people. We are still managing to pay Eddie Cowman.
May 29 Monday (Liverpool): The morning session was occupied by Maolachlann O Caollai who gave an extremely interesting talk on the Irish language movement. He is obviously very well read, but I think he has drawn somewhat on University sociology, with its odd jargon and schematic conclusions. His theory of the growth of a movement from a small dedicated group to a revolutionary establishment, and then an establishment that is not revolutionary, did not fit the history of the Gaelic League which he was using it to illustrate. But he was strong on detail and we all learned something. O’Conchuir was less effective as a speaker, though his material was good. I had lunch with O Caollai, Jane Tate and Betty Sinclair. To my surprise O Caollai told us that over the past few months he had found sleeping difficult but had managed five hours last night and was refreshed. I then looked at him more closely and could see that he was not well. He looks very young for his age, and it is a bad sign. There is a certain pallor. And I reflected that since I first met him at the Celtic Youth congress in 1968, I always felt there was something slightly odd about him – probably of nervous origin.
“Take a stiff whiskey before you go to bed at night,” said I.
“There,” says Betty Sinclair, “Dr Greaves will give you the answer to anything.”
Jane tells me that Betty is in better health, is not drinking heavily but talks of returning to Prague. O Caollai did not know that R.Palme Dutt was the originator of the term “neo-colonialism”. He thought it was some professor fellow. They have not been long burying Dutt’s memory. I caught the 5.30 pm. train to Lime Street and came to 124 Mount Road.
May 30 Tuesday: I caught the 9.20 to Crewe and Derby and went to Ripley to read the proofs. All went smoothly.
May 31 Wednesday: I spoke to Eddie Cowman for a few minutes on the phone. He said that Stella Bond had banked over £800, the product of the good weekend. But at the same time he is not unduly elated. At the end of last week Mark Clinton’s wife rang up to say Mark was ill with influenza. I had stressed the need to get the conference notices out by this weekend. Eddie offered to go to Birmingham last weekend, but Mark Clinton said he would come to London, but gave no date. The week wore on and on Thursday I wrote an urgent letter. It was on Friday his wife telephoned. Now Eddie Cowman took the call. Pat Bond had told us of the city election scare, and Eddie, impressed with this and taking too literally my statement that if the notices did not go out this weekend we should call it off, called it off. Mrs Clinton then said that was what Mark Clinton proposed. Now I was displeased that Eddie had not let the onus of cancellation fall on Mark Clinton. Anyway I wrote to Clinton a friendly but reproving letter, showing how by continuous procrastination he had produced a failure. Eddie Cowman now told me that there is a reply in which he says my letter is unfair. Another thing that Eddie told me was that there had been loud demands from his members in Dublin that Noel Harris should withdraw his resignation, and that he replied that he had not resigned at all.
I at last got down to the garden today. I have only done the “new garden” that I turned over myself. Today I did something on the older garden and also sowed a few seeds. I went to Birkenhead Market and bought tomato plants. There was a variety called “Pixie” which I did not buy, but on looking it up I found it was a very good one, rather better than the first I bought. The weather remains hot and dry.
June 1 Thursday: I went down looking for “pixie” tomatoes, but they were sold out by midday. So I came back and continued work in the garden. Eddie Cowman phoned saying the ITGWU had been phoning. I could not get them at Rathmines, and then realised they are at Sligo. I telephoned Cathal, but learned he was in Sligo. But Tony Coughlan happened to be there. He told me that Noel Harris had told Clive Jenkins that he was prepared to resign on “terms” – I gathered financial terms. But Michael Mullen remains ill, not going into hospital but mooning round Liberty Hall, and the “stickies”[ie, the “Official” Republicans, SFWP, who had several leading figures of the ITGWU among their members] are doing their damnedest to prevent Noel Harris going to the ITGWU.
June 2 Friday: Again I went down for “Pixie” tomatoes and they had sold out the next lot. So it was back into the garden.
June 3 Saturday: At last I got the tomatoes by dint of going down very early. I cleared clogged ground and planted the tomatoes. In the evening the “Magic Flute” was on the radio, and I listened to it. There is no doubt that Mozart put some of his finest music into it, that which arose most intimately from his own convictions. This gives it some of the quality we find in Beethoven, but it is free from that “high moral earnestness” that I dislike in middle Beethoven. The chorus of priests, which I remember once hearing superbly sung by the Glasgow Orpheus choir, seems perhaps to have inspired the prisoners’ chorus in Fidelio. At the same time, not having the Masonic key, I find the comic subplot a trifle pathetic. So I would say that on balance I prefer Don Giovanni, even granted that the other contains music of a solemnity not usual in the classical style.
I had a letter from Arno Gilman of the Workers Music Association to whom I had written pointing out that they had the Song Book since the first of May 1977. She said the delay was due to the difficulties in getting the music copied. It was now being done by somebody in Wales and was half finished. At the same time I had also written to Lawrence and Wishart, but nothing has come from there. Though it seems incredible, they have put Irene Brennan on the Board and I would not put it past that lady that she would try to “sabotage”. I also received Mark Clinton’s reply. He said that when he received my letter at first he was angry and wrote a letter which he afterwards thought “unfair” and tore up. This one in effect accepts my strictures as justified. Eddie Cowman told me on the phone that there is a marked “lack of enthusiasm” in Central London and only he and Charlie Cunningham turned up to do painting. The weak point is of course Charlie, who is well-meaning but takes pleasure in misfortune.
June 4 Sunday: I had thought of going away for a few days. But though the morning was very sultry the weather forecast was bad, and I decided to carry on in the garden. This I did until 3.15 when a thunderstorm came up from the southwest. It became so dark that I had to switch lights on. The lightning and thunder were plentiful but not like that of some of the storms I have seen. However, the rain was torrential. There were puddles in the garden – one in the middle of Jean Brown’s lawn! But the storm passed by 4.15 and though it rained and drizzled on and off, by 6.45 it was dry again and the clouds beginning to break. But some seedlings had been badly battered.
June 5 Monday: The weather though cooler was still quite warm, but I did nothing in the garden. Instead I did a chapter of a pamphlet of reminiscences of the Connolly Association [published in 1978 as “Reminiscences of the Connolly Association” to mark the 40th anniversary of the organisation’s foundation]. When I was in the paper shop I saw a middle-aged man waving through the window. It was Barney Morgan. He told me he had been out of things for a while though he still sees Brian Stowell at the Irish Centre. He has had a divorce, but has been awarded the children, so that looking after them has him down. He has given up huckstering and returned to the pyschiatrical health service. It is astonishing that people unable successfully to manage their own affairs are paid huge sums to advise others! He may come to London for the CA jubilee.
June 6 Tuesday: The weather has suddenly turned cold and wet. So I was not sorry I stayed here. To make matters worse I seem to have caught cold.
June 7 Wednesday: Another cold day but dry. A call came from Eddie Cowman. Betty Sinclair had been trying to contact me to say that Joe Deighan will be back in activity in five months. That is good news.
June 8 Thursday: Eddie Cowman telephoned. It seems Jimmy Stewart called in to the office while the social committee was meeting and saw Paddy Bond, Eddie Cowman and some others. He was peddling the old bankrupt rubbish that the Protestant paramilitaries were “turning to class politics”. He is a lazy useless conceited customer, but according to Eddie he struck him as being very nervous, as if he was afraid of the CA. Most likely he knew he was talking nonsense and was wondering if he’d be made to look a fool.
June 9 Friday: I finished a short history of the Connolly Association, only 10,000 words, but I suppose it will be better than nothing. If I got five minutes to spare I’d like to get down to making a real estimate of the international situation, both on a governmental scale and in relation to “Eurocommunism”.
June 10 Saturday: I worked on the minutes of the Cork branch of the ITGWU, as I want to take them back to Ireland on Monday.
June 11 Sunday: I finished the minutes and finance books [ie. of the ITGWU]. The weather is still unduly cold and unduly dry, very bad for the garden.
June 12 Monday: I took the usual train to Caergybie and Dun Laoire, and Tony Coughlan was waiting for me at Amiens Street. The weather was calm enough but very cold, dull and dreary. We called up to Cathal complete with a bottle of whiskey [ie. his friend Cathal MacLiam’s at 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines]. Finula is back, it seems permanently. Apparently she had to send for the fare and found it by no means pleasant to be maintaining that young scapegrace Alf MacLoughlin’s son, guitar and all. She is now becoming sorry she ceased studying, but I think there will be time. Television has invaded 24 Belgrave Road and Helga has them all watching it, and even Cathal has to give in as it is planted right in front of his chair and there is no other room where anything can be done [The MacLiam family had had no TV in the house while their children were growing up]. Later Tony Coughlan told me about Noel Harris. The ASTMS made a statement that he had resigned before he came out of the hospital. It was the most foolish thing on earth to go there in the first place, though Tony understands that he has been under great strain and unable to sleep for a year. A week digging his garden or walking in Connemara plus a diet of beef steak, little carbohydrate, and a double Jameson at night would have put him right. However, now he has been offered two years’ salary, the sensible course would be to take it. Nobody can push around a man with £20,000 in his pocket, at least as long as it lasts. And he could get into the ITGWU and bring over the members at a later date. So Clive Jenkins would have lost both ways and the tables be turned. But apparently he is not in a mood for this and is talking about litigation. He can never hold the job again. That does not happen. So he risks the £20,000. I understand half the battle has been the presence in his office of a character called Mitchell who is generally believed to be up to his neck in the SFWP and has been determined to oust Noel Harris. It seems that Harris’s choleric temperament has not been a match for the cunning cuckoo.
June 13 Tuesday: I was in the National Library all day, but in the evening went to see an exhibition of Trade Union banners at TCD. Joan O’Connell was there and that ass Dr Lysaght [ie. Rayner Lysaght]. “I understand that you regard me as a dirty Trotskyite” he said to me, possibly for the benefit of somebody with him. “On the contrary,” said I, “I do not use such adjectives.” “Well, a Trotskyite then?” “I don’t know what you are.” I might have added that I didn’t care either. “Ah dear me!” cried the exhibitionist in mock misery, “And this is my success in getting myself known!” Of course I was not to be “drawn”. Louise Asmal was there. She told me Noel Harris had been up to see Kader and had announced his determination to sue Jenkins, though Asmal advised against it. “I feel much better now I have decided to fight,” he said. But it is all nonsense. He should pocket the money, forget all about Jenkins, and concentrate on his future. George Kelleher was there, and Paddy Bergin.
June 14 Wednesday: I was in the Library all day. Kelleher, who is rather a nuisance with his constant talk despite his goodwill, introduced me to a young fellow from Derry called Milotte. The name is French-Canadian. He has written a thesis on the history of the CPI and now Gill and Macmillan want to publish it. They have asked him to cut it to half the length and cover double the period of his original manuscript! The ways of publishers are mysterious. Lawrence and Wishart have advertised my book on O’Casey at £6 and everybody is asking me about it, but I haven’t got the galleys yet. Well young Milotte – who incidentally wrote to me a year ago and I referred him to Jack Woddis – now it is obvious he knows little about the subject and I would not imagine Gill and McMillan have any regard to the interests of Michael O’Riordan. Milotte has been talking to Republicans in Belfast and they have told him that Billy McCullough and Betty Sinclair were “sentenced to death” by the IRA and only Hugh McAteer’s personal defiance of the order saved their lives. Granted that nothing is too mad for the IRA, it is highly unlikely that they would chart a course towards political suicide. I advised him to show Betty Sinclair the text. He is coming to Dublin.
Tony Coughlan told me about Joe Donnelly. Apparently he has got the poems Leslie Daiken sent to Devin Adair through the good offices of Paul O’Dwyer [These were poems by Charlie Donnelly, who was killed in the Spanish Civil War. Joe Donnelly was Charlie Donnelly’s brother. Paul O’Dwyer was a New York Democratic politician, born in Co. Mayo, who was sympathetic to Irish republicanism]. What is one to say of a large publisher which for twenty years holds a manuscript and does not even reply to the queries of the man who sent it them? Or was it all Daiken’s fault? But when Tony Coughlan went to ask for my file of “Irish Front” Donnelly, who is a nasty little ferret of a building contractor, said Brian O’Neill still had them, and then (bless us!) began to lay claim to the copies as his property, in some mysterious way inherited from his brother. I was highly displeased and I said to myself, “I’ll fix that young fellow,” and set about thinking how. Donnelly said that Brian O’Neill is doing an article for his book and that George Gilmore has consented to do so. He also strongly objects to Charlie Donnelly’s being described as a “communist” and we imagine he is as much a “Holy Joe” as Donnelly’s parents.
June 15 Thursday: I had lunch with Daltún O Ceallaigh. He was telling me about the gavottings of Paddy Devlin. He carries a gun. But he can’t resist showing it off to people. At some European meeting last year which was attended by Garret Fitzgerald [Irish Foreign Minister at the time] he was fiddling with it when all the bullets fell out and rolled over the floor.
A civil servant told Daltún, “The Meenister was very displeased.” More recently he had a drink taken and fired a shot in his hotel bedroom in the middle of the night. He had it at the ITGWU conference in Sligo, though what he’d want it there for nobody could conceive. When he took it out his wife hid behind a car. “Now Paddy,” she called, “don’t point that bloody thing at me!” He is always very affable and good tempered, but one can see he is really a big play-boy.
June 16 Friday: I was in the Library all day. There still seems a mass of material to be exhumed.
June 17 Saturday: Today Tony Coughlan went to Cork. He goes at least every other weekend, his mother being old and frail, though his sister spends the night with her. I saw Sean Nolan and Michael O’Riordan in the afternoon. Milotte had seen him, but he had no notion that there was a book coming. He is still gunning for the CPGB. “Don’t think this is a monomania with me” he said, “But the British published their ten-year commentary on Czechoslovakia and mentioned the French students[ie. the 1968 events in Paris], but nothing about Ireland. I must do something about that.” It makes me wish they would all do a damn sight less. While I was in Ireland last Irene Brennan wrote to me asking me to speak at her “Communist University”. I pleaded pressure of work. Jimmy Stewart and Desmond O’Hagan (SFWP) will be there. I would rather be “hors de cette galère”. The less the CPGB does about Ireland the fewer mistakes will be made and Michael O’Riordan should refrain from poking the fire when there is a chance that it may go out [ie. by refraining from raising the issue of the USSR’s intervention in Czechoslovakia ten years before].
June 18 Sunday: To everybody’s surprise today was cloudless and hot, with an easterly wind. Spirits rose. I went down to Cathal’s. While I was there Micheál O Loingsigh and Tony Meade came in. Micheál is finding running three papers at once something of a strain, and I thought the triple editor Tony Meade looked a trifle restrained and worn. I have the same feeling about him that I have with Francis Devine, that he is a “crypto-stickie”. I never feel at ease with him. And Tony Coughlan experiences the same sensation. Micheál O Loingsigh said Maolachlann O Caollai might be calling up to me tonight. He was very pleased with the school in London, even though he was ill for several days when he got back. I wrote a letter to Brian O’Neill saying that Tony Coughlan would call up to him to pick up the file of “Irish Front”. And Donnelly will not get it back.
June 19 Monday: I spent the day in the National Library. O Luanaigh had a few words with me and I told him Daltún O Ceallaigh and I have made a recommendation that the ITGWU archives go to them, but when an answer will be given I do not know. The weather looks like turning unsettled again.
June 20 Tuesday: I was in the Library all day. The weather has turned cold and wet. I left my bicycle at Cathal’s, but there was no chance of collecting it.
June 21 Wednesday: I was in the Library all day. Late at night Daltún O Ceallaigh called.
June 22 Thursday: Some time ago Colm Power discovered that Peter O’Connor’s young son Emmett, who was a child of about three when I was last at the house, had some ITGWU material. I wrote to him and today photostats arrived. He seems quite a decent young fellow. He must be every bit of 22 now and he has studied at UCG. He is working on a thesis upon Waterford Labour politics. Late at night I called on Maolachlann O Caollai and thanked him for coming over. I had to go out to post a letter and passed his house [O Caollai lived near Micheál O Loingsigh’s, Noel Harris’s and Anthony Coughlan’s houses off Barton Road in Dundrum, where Greaves was staying in the latter one]. His brother was there, also a highly intelligent articulate Irish-Irelander.
June 23 Friday: I went to the Public Records office and collected my first stroke of luck since starting the ITGWU history – Larkin’s entry in the Census of 1911 which is written in Irish! Then I went to the ITGWU solicitor and had a talk with Ciaran O’Brien about tracing the lost minutes of 1918-23. Tony Coughlan came back late. He had called on Brian O’Neill and brought away the file. He was for making photoprints at once and sending them to O’Neill. I said wait till he asks. We had lunch with George Gilmore yesterday and he told us that for from writing for Donnelly he has declined, as the young fellow wanted him to certify that Charlie Donnelly was not a Communist whereas George knew that he made no secret of it. He declined to assist. And now apparently Tony Coughlan has learned that Brian O’Neill also has little desire to facilitate this man. He may be glad of the excuse to pull out. So why force the papers back on him? The wretched cold weather continues.
June 24 Saturday (Liverpool): I left Dublin early and came back to 124 Mount Road. There was a letter from Colm Power asking whether it did not look very much as if SFWP had “bumped” Noel Harris. From what Daltún O Ceallaigh says, there have been several SFWP appointments to the ITGWU. Everything one hears of them is of falling membership and general decline. They disgraced themselves at Sligo. But they are expert intriguers. Noel Harris denounces them on the telephone, giving out about “the Army Council”, which of course they still have. And Brian Trench has been ringing up Daltún O Ceallaigh asking how many of the new appointments have gone to SFWP. Trench, a Trotsky and writer in “Hibernia”, may have an exposure story soon. He is a member of the Socialist Labour Party started by Merrigan and Dr Browne [ie. Dr Noel Browne, former Government Minister]. He must be feeling sore about the altogether scandalous campaign of the SFWP against Browne, a series of concerted press attacks. Then I see Francis Devine is going to Oxford to talk at a seminar in company with Purdie and characters from the “New Left”. So my suspicions were well founded. A damp miserable evening.
June 25 Sunday: It was another dull cold day. I had intended to do something in the garden but it was too cold.
June 26 Monday: I managed to do some gardening today, though there was a cold wind. The microfilm reader arrived. Lee Levenson is coming to Dublin to stay with Imogen Stuart. Like others she thinks my book on O’Casey is out!
June 27 Tuesday (London): In the morning there arrived a letter from Skelly. He says Lawrence and Wishart are in the midst of publishing a book on the Grundwick strike which is three times as long as was expected and over which innumerable discussions are being held. So he wants to postpone O’Casey till the spring of 1979. He is of course suitably apologetic. I wrote a courteous reply. It does release me to seek an Irish publisher for the ITGWU. My feeling is however that there is nothing sinister even though Irene Brennan is on the Board of Directors. I went to London and found Eddie Cowman a trifle despondent. Noel Moynihan told me that the members were not giving him support, and I believe it. Paddy Bond rang up to say that no papers have been sold in West London for two months. This is presumably because Pat O’Donohue is married.
June 28 Wednesday: I worked on the paper. In the evening only Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham, Eddie Cowman and Mabel O’Donovan came to the meeting. Michael Ryan has disappeared and about six people who promised to come failed to do so. Eddie was very despondent. But Charlie Cunningham is a little better.
June 29 Thursday (Liverpool): I went into the office at 6.30 am. and had the paper finished before Eddie Cowman arrived at 10 am. He is still down in the mouth. He talks of Mark Clinton’s collapse in Birmingham, of Michael Crowe’s spending three days in London and not bothering to came to the office, of Chris Sullivan limiting his activities, and says all the members are bums who have made a mess of their careers and all the people of ability are working for capitalism and doing very well. He thinks they all read the “Morning Star” and are demoralised by it. It is of course appallingly dull and completely devoid of political explanation. I told him to try to start some outdoor activity.
There was a letter from Betty Sinclair. She deplores the fact that the Irish question has been made a “Northern Ireland” question. But there are those around her who do not and who do not like the Connolly Association. That will mean Andy Barr. She notes that our friends have invited “our enemies” – that is to say that Dessie O’Hagan [a leading SFWP member] is speaking at the Communist University, and she blames the “femme fatale,” whom I take it to be Irene Brennan! Eoin O Murchú is also coming, so there should be some fun, if he stands his ground.
There is an appalling article on a book about a Third World War in “The Times” of today. Everything is being done to work up a war psychosis. I told Tony Coughlan this months ago and he didn’t believe it. Then George Gilmore said the same but added that Tony Coughlan didn’t agree. But this time somewhat grudgingly he did agree. And by making fools of themselves over Soviet dissidents the Left are handing to the warmongers their “war aims”, while the realities are oil in Mesopotamia and copper in Africa.
June 30 Friday: The weather was a bare trifle better and I transplanted some tomatoes. It was wretchedly cold – really cold, I doubt above the middle fifties. The seeds have germinated very poorly and while this may not be a disaster, there are no flies or other insects. I never saw so few, just an occasional bee, and a tiger moth. And cloud all the time. What is quite remarkable about the climate now is its tendency to produce extreme weather patterns that last for weeks, even for months. The whole direction remains Northwest.
July 1 Saturday: I was thinking about Eddie Cowman and indeed wrote to him last night. The difficulty is that Charlie Cunningham goes to see his mother every Sunday. Even if he were able to speak in Hyde Park, he is full of the type of socialism that Sinn Fein’s people profess and will not answer Irish peoples’ questions. He is essentially a “Labour man,” rather than a Republican. Again Hyde Park is nothing but tourists and the Irish hardly go there, except a few of the older men. Why should speakers waste time on continental tourists and similar EEC scum? It struck me when I was in Kilburn last that here is the only area which is still predominantly Irish, so much so that it will take years to change. Why not set up an outdoor stance in the midst of that and try to attract new members of the younger generation to replace those worn out by years of criminal neglect on the part of our friends, and opposition and sabotage by “our friends”. I spoke to him on the telephone and he seemed willing enough to try. The committee meeting is in the afternoon.
Studying the photostatic copy of Larkin’s census form I have formed the opinion that he was born in 1879, not 1876 as Emmet Larkin suggests. This means that they have celebrated the centenary three years early, and there is still time to get up the monument. I am wondering what best to do about it. Weather filthy!
July 2 Sunday: I did some work on the history.
July 3 Monday: Another day on the history.
July 4 Tuesday: Another day on the history.
July 5 Wednesday: Another day on the history.
July 6 Thursday (London): I came to London and in the evening addressed the Wood Green Labour party. They were a great deal more sober and sensible and receptive to ideas than most CP branches would be, and I put it down to the fact that, first, they had no theoretical preconceptions, and second, they experienced the pragmatism of power. One of them asked why England remained in Northern Ireland. I replied for the same reason the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia. One of them thanked me for (as he saw it) defending the Russians.
July 7 Friday: There was trouble today. I left material in Liverpool that I wanted in London and had to rush to 124 Mount Road on a day trip. And though I got back in time for sales with Eddie Cowman, the heavens opened and nothing could be done.
July 8 Saturday: I was in the office all day. Out with Charlie Cunningham in the evening, but again the heavens opened.
July 9 Sunday: We had a Standing Committee in the morning, indeed with Michael Crowe from Newcastle. Pat O’Donohue and Gerry Curran came – the latter I am afraid going to wrack and ruin with “depression”. We tried a meeting at Kilburn Square, but there were no listeners. I want to get them off their backsides. Then I was out with Michael Crowe. He tells me many in the North-East have joined Sinn Fein, but that relations with them are not bad. That is good as ultimately there might come reunification.
July 10 Monday: I spent the day at Colindale and the evening in the office.
July 11 Tuesday: Another day spent the same way.
July 12 Wednesday: Another day spent the same way.
July 13 Thursday: A letter came from Flann Campbell. He says that he had a long talk with Justin Keating, and that gentleman has now got it in for Conor Cruise O’Brien and coalitioners, which he rightly estimates cost him his seat. Flann suggests that I get in touch with Keating when I am next in Dublin and invites me to visit him first. Flann has just written a pamphlet for the CA, but I am not prepared to seek Justin out in order to help him out of his difficulties. (I came back to Liverpool on Friday) Tonight I attended a meeting of the Workers Music Association. I went to Somerset House seeking Larkin’s date of birth.
July 14 Friday: There was a letter from Mark Clinton to the effect that Frank Watters has asked him on behalf of the CA to sponsor a “Troops Out” conference. In the circular it was stated that “Desmond Greaves may be one of the speakers, but he is writing to a deadline on a book.” He tells me that every crank and Trotsky in the Midlands is in on it. He thought that I had given a diplomatic excuse. But I was not consulted. But when Irene Brennan invited me to address the “Communist University” I replied that I was working to a deadline on a book. I didn’t want to be bothered with all the chatterboxes. She was the only person to know this. So she is obviously plunging wildly about in search of a policy. The printer sent an estimate for my pamphlet reminiscences.
July 15 Saturday: I began writing the introduction to the ITGWU history. I have a fair hope of making a job of it.
July 16 Sunday (Dublin): I crossed over to Dublin and found a message from Tony Coughlan and a note from Maolachlann O Caollai about an article on Irish.
July 17 Monday: In the morning Lee Levenson rang. I spent most of the day in the Library and had dinner with her, or rather she with me, in Buswells’ Hotel. She told me that Sam Levenson had a stroke following an embolism occasioned by a cataract operation. He had done little on the book, which is on Skeffington, and she is writing the entire thing and finishing the research. She says he and she were in the CPUSA until 1939 and left when the war broke out – perhaps over the Soviet-German pact. The party is now pitifully weak, but she is still “told the line” by the local secretary. She has it in her head to present Skeffington simply as a pacifist, and she is like most present-day Americans unsympathetic to national independence, though she supports it in words.
July 18 Tuesday: I received Larkin’s birth certificate from the Registry. It gives the date as 2/5/1879 – the one William O’Brien had. I was in the Library all day but went to the meeting at Liberty Hall which young Sean Hosey addressed [This was a meeting organised by the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement. Sean Hosey had been a member of the YCL in Britain. He went on a mission to Apartheid South Africa for which he was jailed for five years under the Suppression of Communism Act, being released in 1977]. The first person I saw there was Roddy [ie. Roddy Connolly, James Connolly’s son], and Asmal dragged us off to sit among the “distinguished visitors”. Later Donal Nevin appeared to represent the ICTU. My first impressions of Hosey, who would be about 29 or 30, were that he had worn well in jail and was surprisingly unaffected by it. But later I thought I detected a certain inner tension, so we will see what will happen when the need to be fully extended has passed. I always thought it was nonsense for anybody to send him on a mission like that. At the same time he seems quite a decent open young fellow, and certainly has shown more courage than perhaps was good for him. After the meeting Cathal, Conor, Egon, Finula now back home, Helga and Joan O’Connell went for a drink.
July 19 Wednesday: I had spoken to Donal Nevin about Larkin’s birth. He told me this morning that he would bring Denis Larkin over to Buswells’ to see me. On the way into town I called on old John Swift [ie. of the Bakers’ Union, a veteran Labour radical]. He knew nothing of the alternative date. I had lunch with Daltún O Ceallaigh and Paddy Clancy [Clancy was Daltún O Ceallaigh’s superior at the ITGWU Research Dept.] That gentleman, whom I sized up as a shrewd peasant, had been asking Daltún if the history would ever see the light. I suggested having lunch with him. I think it was a good move. Daltún said he was surprised. He was looking for firm dates, but I told him the middle of next year was the earliest.
Then after he had gone Donal Nevin came in and we met Larkin [ie. James Larkin’s son Denis] and his new General Secretary, Cardiff. We were driven to the WUI office where Larkin took a photostat to compare with his own records. The doubt is the mother’s name. She died in 1907. then I saw Roddy at the Labour Party office and got a mass of information about old ITGWU people. He told me that JJ Hughes whom I thought became secretary of Cumann na nGaedheal, really joined the CID. His sister is the secretary of a Labour Party branch and does not know. He was talking about his days in Moscow. He was very friendly with a man whose name I got as “Peters” who was prominent in the secret police – was it the “Cheka”? – and used to give him lifts in his car. JL Quinlan of “The Harp” was there and in a letter to Bill O’Brien told him the route by which Roddy Connolly was to return to Ireland. Peters was confident that this was passing information to the enemy and wanted to have Quinlan shot. It was with the greatest difficulty that Roddy Connolly prevented it, explaining that they did not care who knew which way they were returning home. “So,” was Roddy’s comment – “when you get power…” And there would be this more to it. If you are a policeman whose job is to catch the political enemy, it looks bad if none of them are caught. So people were sent to the guillotine and the tumbrils passed through the streets of Paris every day. Late in the evening Daltún O Ceallaigh called in.
July 20 Thursday: I made a flying visit to Tipperary to see Brien O’Donnell, a septuagenarian formerly a Councillor who is very interested in history. I discovered that he had at one time sent a poem to the “Irish Democrat”. In the evening Cathal called. He tells me Tony Coughlan’s affair with Muriel Saidlear has cooled off, but he is not without recourse.
July 21 Friday: I had lunch with Kennedy and Carroll [respectively President and Vice-President of the ITGWU]. I much prefer Kennedy. He has a wider culture and more insight. Carroll is perhaps sharper, but he is more of the jumped-up clerk. Neither Daltún O Ceallaigh nor myself could understand the precise genesis of this lunch. I had asked for a talk with Fintan Kennedy on historical matters. But he declined to talk without Carroll present. My guess is that when the thing was first mooted, and Michael Mullen suggested myself, Kennedy agreed and Carroll opposed. I have a notion I did something to “melt” Carrol today. Such was my aim.
July 22 Saturday (Liverpool): Since the National Library is now closing on Saturdays I came back to Liverpool and went on with the Introduction.
July 23 Sunday: I went on with the Introduction. The cool cloudy weather goes on for ever! Yet there is little rain.
July 24 Monday: I spent another day on the history of the ITGWU and managed to do just a little in the garden. When the weather is occasionally tolerable I do not seem to be here. The courgettes did not germinate this year. I have tried them again in pots.
July 25 Tuesday (London): I came to London and started on the paper. To my surprise I found Jane Tate was in hospital, but only for a “check-up”.
July 26 Wednesday: I worked on the paper. In the evening I saw Bobby Heatley. He told me that he was at the “Communist University”. Eoin O Murchú put the national case so well that Dessie O’Hagan was all but tongue-tied. The main opposition came from the “Two Nations” theorists. This is the explanation of Irene Brennan’s coming out on the national line which had impressed Eddie Cowman favourably.
July 27 Thursday: A letter came from Mark Clinton. He is deeply disillusioned with the poor quality of his members, but he lacks leadership. He told me that the “Troops Out” people are holding a conference and every Trotskyist in the Midlands is sponsoring it. It is a chatterbox conference like the “Communist University”, with no direction at all. They have the impertinence to mention my name, and to add that I am “working to a deadline” – the exact words I wrote to Irene Brennan to avoid going to the “Communist University”. So she is up to the neck in it. Mark Clinton says Pete Carter is also in it [A CP trade union activist in Birmingham]. He says, “We’ve got to win the Trots.” Clinton thinks they will win him!
In the evening I had dinner with Flann and Mary Campbell on their “patio” surrounded by foliage among the brick walls. He was also at the “Communist University” and thought that the Connolly Association was “missing”. but Bobby Heatley told me he could not get a word in edgeways.
July 28 Friday: I did some work in connection with our “Jubilee”. And in the evening I was out with Steve Huggett who is back from a trip to the USA, which he wants to visit again. I told him, “caelum non animum mutant…”
July 29 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning, then went to Colindale in the afternoon and was out with Gerry Curran in the evening. He is a little better.
July 30 Sunday (Liverpool): We held the Standing Committee in the morning. Toni Curran was not there, but Gerry and Pat O’Donohue were, the latter a trifle more agreeable than is his wont. He told us that the paper is “breaking even”. But our problem is to get through the next six weeks and pay Eddie Cowman. He does not work terribly hard – rather less than Sean Redmond who had at least determination, far less than Tony Coughlan. I mentioned this to Jane Tate and said I thought he looked with envy at the £100 a week he could get shovelling shit. She says he is always short of money as he has a lady-love he must spend it on. But, characteristically lacking in imagination (most of them are), she did not reflect that he has been with us over a year and we have not increased his pay!
We had intended to go to Hyde Park in the afternoon, but the one day’s fine weather of yesterday was replaced by the familiar heavy clouds and rain. I do not immediately recall a year when there was so little sunshine, and when the days of high summer were so dark. So I came to Liverpool to work on the book.
July 31 Monday: I am still busy with the Introduction, but it is proving a tougher proposition than I first anticipated because of the high degree of compression required. It is necessary to trace causes which operated over many centuries. A letter from Mark Clinton told me more of the Birmingham situation. It seems that Frank Watters will not commit the CP until the CA moves in. Perhaps he has some vestiges of good sense.
August 1 Tuesday: Eddie Cowman phoned saying that a letter had arrived from Birmingham Troops Out Movement about their conference on “British Involvement in Ireland”. I asked him to send it on. I worked all day on the book.
August 2 Wednesday: The letter from Birmingham came. It was long. It invited me to speak on Irish history up to some year, 1921 I think. Of course they are not interested in what I might say. They think that my presence might bring people along who would like to listen to them! I remember looking at things in exactly the same way nearly fifty years ago.
August 3. Thursday: There was another letter from Mark Clinton. He has also written quite a passable article on Scawen Blunt. I find it hard to take his measure. Is there a slight immaturity? A slight romanticism? He is very bitter about the Birmingham members, and heaven knows they are bad enough. But everything stems from the entourage of Frank Watters, whom, however, I do not blame. He does his best but has to combine bluster with artfulness.
August 4 Friday: I got a little done (between showers) in the garden and otherwise wrote. Eddie Cowman telephoned to say that the “Irish Post” contained an announcement that I was going to address the Birmingham conference. I was of course displeased. I imagine the object is to bounce Mark Clinton and Frank Watters. Their letter contained the same “deadline” business that Irene Brennan must have passed on to Clann na hEireann. So they knew that I was uncertain, but to reach the “Post” in time for publication they had to send out the announcement of my acceptance simultaneously with the invitation! Needless to say, I do not propose to entertain any proposition from such people. A week or so back Arthur Latham sent me a copy of his reply to Jacqueline Kaye (I do not know if I spell it aright) who had viciously denounced him in one of her duplicated sheets for not doing what she wanted. These amateurs whose sole intention is to be important not in the world but to themselves and a group of close admirers, are like flies on a summer day, whenever there is a summer’s day. They effect nothing but make all effecting tiresome.
August 5 Saturday: I got on with the book. The weather remains cold and cloudy. I do not think there has been so much cloud for years.
August 6 Sunday: Filthy weather again. It is impossible to get out. Of ten tomato plants six have grown huge but set no fruit. I managed to get the marrows up and the courgettes are only showing cotyledons. A number of tomatoes are not yet in flower. Strawberries are still ripening and I have only been able to gather half the blackcurrants.
August 7 Monday: Another vile day. A letter came from a character who signed herself Eibhlín Ni Sheidhir. She had talked Nora Connolly O’Brien into giving her my address. She had been in touch with this reptile Jacqueline Kaye in London whose husband, Roland Kennedy, tried to blackmail Eddie Cowman into taking the Connolly Association on a march in favour of the “Provisional” prisoners by threatening to picket our offices if we did not. I told him to make the pickets a cup of tea. Indeed they did picket 16 King Street [ie. the CPGB Head Office]. Now she has been writing to Dublin some rigmarole about our “making use of Connolly’s name”. Very fat we waxed on Connolly’s name! She has been talking to Nora, and she comments, “Surely Desmond Greaves is in favour of political prisoner treatment!” The fact that a page of the current “Irish Democrat” is devoted to it is no doubt hidden from her. So this woman whom Roddy told me about, who passes as her secretary, tried to “use” Nora’s name to embroil me in an intrigue with Jacqueline Kaye. Je m’en fous [I don’t care]. I sent the “Irish Post” a letter denying that I am speaking in Birmingham.
August 8 Tuesday: Incredibly, another gloomy dark wet day. However I have started on Chapter 2.
August 9 Wednesday: I got on with Chapter 2. And the weather got on with being as miserable as possible. Most of my tomatoes are not setting fruit. I wondered why. Then I noticed there was not an insect in sight. I got a paintbrush and tried artificially to pollinate those with no pollen. Washed away I suppose. But I have started some courgettes in peat pots and planted them out in the pouring rain.
August 10 Thursday: More writing. And more rain.
August 11 Friday: More writing. Mostly rain, but a few dim rays of watery sunlight to show the sun is still there!
August 12 Saturday: For the first time since the end of July a fine day, and quite warm. But there are still no insects. The place is moreover alive with snails. I had a letter from Mark Clinton saying that Frank Watters told him he was retiring. And for the first time Watters seemed relaxed. He is still trying to persuade Mark to bring the Connolly Association into this thing in November as he thinks “something might come of it.” But as Mark Clinton remarks, the main organisation of the Labour movement will not touch it. He had not been taken in by the announcement in the “Post” that I was speaking at it. Incidentally, I have raised a good sum of money to keep Eddie Cowman going, £50 each from myself and Jane Tate, £50 from Pozzoli, £50 from Grove-White and £100 from Bill Hardy.
August 13 Sunday: It was fine for half the day. I went on with Chapter 2.
August 14 Monday: I finished Chapter 2, so now I can go to London to get out the special issue of the “Democrat”. I was never so busy in my life, but I will treat tomorrow as a holiday.
August 15 Tuesday (London): I took the afternoon train to Birmingham where Mark Clinton was waiting for me at New Street. We went in to see Frank Watters who is a new man, completely relaxed and enjoying the prospect of being District Secretary no longer. He said that certain political differences had arisen between him and the new man. I imagine he is one of the new school. Mark Clinton does not look too well. He is disgusted with the Birmingham people, and no wonder. Then I came on to London and saw Eddie Cowman in the office.
August 16 Wednesday: I worked on the paper. In the evening Central London had their branch meeting, and Eddie Cowman, Charlie Cunningham and others were there. Jane Tate is on holiday in the USSR. Michael Ryan is sulking because after he had missed a few meetings they deposed him as chairman. So he has not attended. Jim Kelly has disappeared.
August 17 Thursday: I went on with the paper. Everybody has sent me articles a mile too long. So I have enough material for two papers.
August 18 Friday: Again I worked on the paper and was out in Hammersmith with Steve Huggett in the evening. He has been in the USA. He works a milk round in the morning but now has a grant to return to College.
August 19 Saturday: I went on with the paper and was in Hammersmith again during the evening.
August 20 Sunday: I did something on the paper and was in Hyde Park during the afternoon. Charlie Cunningham speaks much better now. Michael Ryan was there and I persuaded him to attend meetings again. Bobby Heatley was also there. We had a drink afterwards and were discussing possibilities among the Protestants in the Six Counties. I made the suggestion to him that the Gaelic League translated into English might be the thing. Local history societies are numerous and repeatedly they find on delving into the past the Celtic substratum.
August 21 Monday: I went on with the 12-page paper. Late at night Betty Sinclair rang. She said that she and others had decided no longer to buy the “Morning Star”. Apparently they had something on Czechoslovakia on Saturday. I did not see it. I always buy the “Star” when I see it on sale, but I do not go round looking for it. It is badly edited. However another thing she said was that Irene Brennan is no longer concerned with the Irish question. Betty Sinclair is pleased of course for that. For my own part I anticipated it. I have seen these creatures before. Their instinct is themselves, and gaining position. Having wrecked everything she moves on. But, says Betty, she is to be substituted by a man called Cook, who knows nothing about Ireland. Now Betty, without my knowledge, invited Jimmy Stewart to contribute to our special issue. I have not much time for that gentleman but must see what it is like. The CP do not consult me here anymore. On the other hand the CPI may be more friendly, even Jimmy Stewart.
August 22 Tuesday: This was really a wasted day. I had to go with Bernstein the accountant to argue the point with the Inspector of Taxes over the finances of Connolly Publications.
August 23 Wednesday: I finished the paper. In the evening there was a good attendance. Michael Ryan came, and Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham and others. Eddie Cowman is away in Ireland and I do not know in what frame of mind he will return. A man from South London, Burke, was there. He told us that after reading the “Morning Star” on Saturday he had resigned from the CP and joined Sinn Fein. Among the lot of them they’ll have everything in ruins. And it’s all unnecessary. What is happening is that the sea of nonsense in which British Socialist politics are floating is getting a trifle more stormy! They do not know what they are doing.
August 24 Thursday (Liverpool): I was in the office in the morning but came back to Liverpool in the afternoon. A letter from this young fellow at Lawrence and Wishart came in. He is trying to be a copy editor, but I am well used to looking after my interests and not allowing feelings to enter into things. I will make concessions in some things, not in others.
August 25 Friday: I did some shopping and then got on with the Transport Union History.
August 26 Saturday: I went on with the book.
August 27 Sunday: Just the same. I am having to do the Union history by forced marches as I did the O’Casey. As regards that I had a letter from Young Nick Jacobs saying that they are getting the MS ready for the press and suggesting (the old copy editor trick) that things that he doesn’t know are bound to be incomprehensible to the reading public. I sent some alternatives. Why should I bother myself with them?
August 28 Monday: On with the history. I lifted potatoes which despite constant cloud and dampness were not too badly slug-eaten. There is no year I recall that was so cloudy. Perhaps 1931 is the nearest. But there were a few warm days then.
August 29 Tuesday: On with the history. No events – mercifully – except a flying visit to Ripley to read the proofs of the paper. Taxi this time, not bus.
August 30 Wednesday: On the book all day.
August 31 Thursday: On the book all day.
September 1 Friday: Apart from lifting the rest of the potatoes, I did nothing but carry on with the book. The week has been drier, but the cloud cover is continuous.
September 2 Saturday: I am beginning to see the shape of the preliminary chapters and mightfinish it by the end of the year.
September 3 Sunday (London): I came to London on the midday train and saw Charlie Cunningham and Pat O’Donohue in the office.
September 4 Monday: I spent the day at Colindale.
September 5 Tuesday: I had lunch with Skelly of Lawrence and Wishart. I did not get the impression that he was what the Bulgarian woman said, but I had the feeling that he was “not a gentleman”.
September 6 Wednesday: I spent another day at Colindale.
September 7 Thursday: I spent the morning and afternoon at Colindale. In the evening Eddie Cowman, Jane Tate and I got out material for the conference. I was rather hoping that an election would be announced as it would give us an excuse to postpone the conference, for which not enough has been done. But even so, there are advantages in having it.
September 8 Friday: I was at Colindale again and in the evening out with Eddie Cowman.
September 9 Saturday: I was again out at Colindale, and with Gerry Curran in Hammersmith in the evening.
September 10 Sunday (Liverpool): We had a Standing Committee in the morning. Pat O’Donohue did not turn up. I think he is on his way out, and probably Toni Curran too. Jane Tate thinks that the accountant Rushworth might do the job for a consideration. I then went to Liverpool.
September 11 Monday: Nothing in the garden has grown. The courgettes have not a flower. Nor is there a flower on the marrows or pumpkins. The low temperatures and lack of sun have stunted everything but the weeds. I worked on the book.
September 12 Tuesday: All day spent on the book.
September 13 Wednesday: All day on the book.
September 14 Thursday: All day spent on the book.
September 15 Friday: All day spent on the book.
September 16 Saturday: All day spent on the book.
September 17 Sunday: All day spent on the book. The weather is milder though cloudy and things are growing a little better, but so late!
September 18 Monday: All day spent on the book, though I did a certain amount of clearing up in between.
September 19 Tuesday: At 3 pm. Tony Coughlan arrived from Holyhead. He was cheery enough but a trifle worn. I made curry which he wolfed and drank wine at a rate I never saw him do before, and made himself sick, a thing he never does. I think it is nervous strain after all the trouble he has had. Noel Harris is going to Czechoslovakia and SFWP proceed to spread like a virus in the Trade Union movement while they decay in the country.
September 20 Wednesday (London): I accompanied Tony Coughlan to London, where he spoke at the Central London branch.
September 21 Thursday: I left my British Museum reader’s card in Liverpool and took a day return to get it. I decided to treat it as a holiday. But one useful thing was that now that drought has descended I was able to water the garden. Now that it has turned warm the marrows are flowering profusely so that I am going to get some marrows after all. I was back by 7.30 and since it was Eddie Cowman’s birthday (he is 26 today) we went to the Cosmoba for a meal, that is to say, Tony Coughlan, Eddie Cowman, Jane Tate and myself. Eddie tells me that Pat O’Donohue has told him that he does not propose to get out of bed on Sunday mornings in order to come to the Standing Committee. And he is not coming on Saturday. I doubt if he will be at the Conference, and we might find the accounts dumped on us any minute. There is a man in Central London who used to do the CP fundraising, I wondered if he could do it. Or possibly Steve Huggett.
September 22 Friday: I spent the day at Colindale. The weather is quite warm and pleasant for a change.
September 23 Saturday: The first day of autumn brings us the first summer weather since May! Charlie Cunningham is back from Dublin where he has been looking for a job. He is very restless and unsettled. As Jane put it, he is forty and no longer are all the young girls running after him, and he cannot pull himself together. So it is, “caelum non animam mutant…”
There was an unpleasant blow this morning. Over the past while the accountants have been addressing all correspondence to me, and Toni Curran has been doing nothing. Today there came notification that we will have to pay £420 in tax on our 1977 results, but Pat O’Donohue and Toni Curran are not coming to the Standing Committee this afternoon. They would never send in a letter resigning; they would wait till they were challenged and then go out in a scunder, accusing us of insulting them and being as unpleasant as possible. Toni Curran says she is not coming to the conference. For some reason they resent Eddie Cowman. I think the trouble with Toni is in particular the change in life, and in general the fact that she always loses interest in her enthusiasms before she can achieve anything.
In the morning I rang Gerry Curran about the Standing Committee at 11 am. He said he could not come because he only received the notice yesterday. I then realised that Eddie Cowman had sent the things off my second-class mail that takes a week, thus putting excuses into the mouths of Pat O’Donohue and Toni. They would never tell you why the thing was late. I tackled Eddie about this. But what can you do with young people? The EC was held, and to my surprise Pat O’Donohue came and was in better form than usual. So then I thought we may have his services longer. If he is continuing and Toni Curran is not we should find a secretary. He came late, however, and we had already discussed finance. Charlie Cunningham confirmed that he was retiring from the CA and taking a job in Navan. I think he will be back! Every time he is in an unsuccessful strike he is demoralised for a year. This is the generation that has no socialist education. And of course the children are worse off still.
We held the first part of the conference in the afternoon. Tony Coughlan gave a good account of the position in the 26-Counties. Incidentally he promised the CA a thousand pounds, and Jane Tate and I decided to keep it dark, for it may be delayed longer than she thinks. In the evening there was a most successful evening in the Kenilworth Hotel [to mark the 50th anniversary of the Connolly Association’s foundation]. Pat Clancy and Joyce were there, the Seaforts, Elsie O’Dowling now nearly 83 and as vivacious as ever. Tom Durkin came and instead of his usual distant self was very amiable indeed. Jock Stallard and Mrs Stallard came and he said a few words. I discussed with him the possibility of getting a statement favourable to Lynch’s proposals issued by a group of Labour MPs when Parliament has reassembled. Chris Sullivan told me that Justin Keating has leukaemia and so is presumably not long for this world. I am of course sorry for it. And more so still for Loretta. Will she be able to resume the musical career she sacrificed to his ambition?
September 24 Sunday: The conference continued. As Paddy Bond said, it was the smallest ever. All he could think of was to tell them all to work harder like the CP pep-talk organiser of the olden days. He is quite incapable of seeing the political reason behind anything. Eddie Cowman on the other hand is completely dispirited by the march of reaction. He talks of going home next summer and says already what he intends to do. He would like Steve Huggett to take over. He has not proved a success, but it would be wrong to say he was a failure. If I were here all the time I could make something of him. But that cannot be.
September 25 Monday: I spent the day in Colindale and the evening on the paper. I had a bite with Tony Coughlan and was in the office in the evening. I learned that Eamon MacLaughlin had had a slight cerebral haemorrhage and that that is why he came only to the morning session of the conference. I think he is only 56. But in the evening he was drinking like a fish.
September 26 Tuesday: I spent the day in Colindale, and again had a meal with Tony Coughlan. The weather is very good considering the awful summer we have had.
September 27 Wednesday: I spent the day in Colindale. But since at 9 pm. I reached the advanced age of 65, Tony Coughlan, Eddie and Jane entertained me to a dinner. After that came the Central London branch meeting, and after that again I provided those present (Eddie, Jane, Chris Sullivan, Charlie, and a young Englishman Philip or Philips Randle whom I have not yet estimated) [An incomplete sentence, presumably intended to indicate that he went for a drink with them]. And of course Steve Huggett. I do not find 65 much of a climacteric. I suppose it is more likely at 70. I remember I did not find 21 anything of a cusp, but 25 I thought more so. I must have been into the fifties before I got that sense of total independence in judgement which comes with age – and I have often observed becomes rigidity after 70.
Things in the CA are looking up. Although Charlie Cunningham says he is going home and thinks of taking a job in Navan, we have discovered the youth, and the hasty expedient of putting a boy to do a man’s job seems to be paying off. Members of the Irish classes are joining. Steve Huggett has a grand party for the young people tomorrow night, and Eddie Cowman himself at any rate since the conference is showing no signs of being “burnt out”. I learned incidentally that Des Logan instead of coming to our anniversary social went to see the “arch-revisionist” Monty Johnston. He lives in the Irene Brennan country, and according to Eamon McLaughlin recently invited that baggage to go to a dance with him. Not surprisingly, she laughed in his face. The “Morning Star” has taken to using a hostile approach to the Republic. This is presumably part of the SFWP plan. On the other hand it might be sheer nonsense.
September 28 Thursday: I spent the day in Colindale. Steve Huggett has agreed to go to Ripley for me on Monday. He wants to be a journalist, so that perhaps there is a possibility of an editor for the “Irish Democrat” when I retire. If I could get the donkey work done I could supervise and still retain my organ. Tony Coughlan called in for a few minutes before leaving for Dublin. He saw Sean Mulgrew last night [ie. in connection with the history of the CA that he was then researching, an unfinished project]. He is 83. I remember his mother in Mulranny. She showed me the chimney where he hid, I forgot whether from the Tans or the Staters. But Tony tells me that he was engaged in the incendiarism of Liverpool under the direction of Rory O’Connor. He was one of those who escaped. And it was apparently he who brought the Republican Congress to London and brought the entire membership over to the Connolly Club. He is fiercely anti-clerical.
September 29 Friday (Liverpool): I went into the office in the morning. There was a letter from Wilf Charles in Manchester asking me to draft a comprehensive resolution for the National Committee of the AUEW [ie. the Engineering Union] which would demand the withdrawal of troops. He seems somewhat alarmed at the tendency of public opinion. I am not surprised. they have all been chasing the will o’ the wisp of the “Better Life for All Campaign”, which everybody with the slightest knowledge of the Six Counties knew would come to nothing. Irene Brennan trotted off to Oxford to tell everybody how little the Connolly Association was doing about that campaign. That decent silly old dodderer Ben Ainley, after telling Lenny Draper that the Irish question was for too important to be left to Irishmen, sent a deputation to Belfast without taking the precautions we would have insisted on. Some of them were harassed by the polices on their return, but their Unions then refused to have anything to do with Lenny Draper. My God! If I had only had the means to knock the heads together of those blithering idiots. But Wilf Charles, who is the best of them and the only one who stood by Lenny Draper, is the first to seek a way out. I told them they were handing over the Irish to the Provisionals and the solidarity movement to the Trotskies. But they are brainless. Now Irene Brennan is telling Pat Bond that she has no time for the “Better Life For All” and Pat Bond – poor innocent hard-working trusting Pat – thinks the collapse of her policy a conversion! And he was even taken in by her proposal to set up a Labour Movement group to monitor civil liberties in Ireland.
“Ireland, did she say, or Northern Ireland?”
Most testily Pat Bond (at the Standing Committee) replied “Oh – I couldn’t say, she may have said Northern Ireland.”
“The distinction is such that it would be useful to know what she did say.” He had not even questioned it in his mind.
However, I will draft Wilf Charles a decent resolution. If this action is an act of rebellion on his part, well it is not before time. As for the monitoring of Civil Rights in Ireland, no sooner was the nonsense out of Irene Brennan’s mouth than the “Morning Star” started attacking Jack Lynch [ie. the Irish Taoiseach]. But it is useless to talk to them. They are lost in a fog.
I came back to Liverpool on the evening train. I am under great pressure to get on with the history. But I think a pamphlet explaining the present position of the National demand needs to be written soon. Before it can come out we must bring out Flan Campbell’s [ie. his pamphlet “The Orange Card”]. One thing Mark Clinton told me at the weekend. He suspects that the “Troops Out” conference is really Frank Watters’s work, and that that is why he was opposed to the Connolly Association’s running one. He also says Clann na hEireann has pulled out of it. But he is often inaccurate. He is back on the buildings! [ie. working in construction rather than in his profession as a teacher].
September 30 Saturday: The rain poured all day in torrents, and the temperature was in the low fifties. Apparently it has been so all week here. My marrows have set but they do not make decent courgettes yet! The yellow tomatoes have not a fruit on them, but some of the red ones have quite a reasonable crop. Snails are everywhere, apart from the areas where I poisoned them. Crabs and caterpillars have had a field day. A beetroot was blown right out of the ground by the raging NW wind. It seems to be blowing up for an ugly winter. The striking thing is the slow movement of the barometer. I think there is a large volume of exceptionally cold air over the polar regions and that this is hampering the eastward movement of depressions. I went into Birkenhead and bought supplies of food sufficient to last over a week. I want to make a concentrated attack on the book.
October 1 Sunday: I spent the whole day working on the Transport Union history. I have never had such a couple of years!
Octpber 2 Monday: The same again.
October 3 Tuesday: And today.
October 4 Wednesday: Another day at the same thing.
October 5 Thursday: Another day. I almost forgot what day of the week it is.
October 6 Friday: The only thing that can be said is that the weather is taking up. I think I will go away for a break next Thursday.
October 7 Saturday: Another day’s writing.
October 8 Sunday: I think I am going to have one small marrow! There never was such a year for slugs, snails, caterpillars and beetles. I spent the day writing.
October 9 Monday: Another day on the book.
October 10 Tuesday: Another day on the book. Eddie Cowman tells me that Charlie Cunningham is definitely going to take a job in Naas, but that he is retaining his London flat until Christmas and does not want a farewell social. Eddie has half a feeling that he may come back. I hope so.
October 11 Wednesday: I spent most of the day on the book. But the weather has become hot. The temperature reached the seventies. I have known very warm weather to give way to very cold. I therefore brought in the tomatoes and left them on tables to ripen. The crop is plentiful, but then I have more plants than ever before. The best fruit but the smallest yield was on the “Golden Sunrise” plants, with “Outdoor Girl” being most prolific.
October 12 Thursday (Mael Hafan): The weather being very warm and sunny I went to Penyffordd on the train and cycled to Mael Hafan. I was the only one there, so went down to the local public house for a drink. There were two men from Altham there who had known each other in the army and met again after years and years, country men, both with Flintshire connections. They were talking about the Six Counties and regarded the people there as incomprehensible savages. “The only thing to do,” one of them said, “is to bring our boys out of it and let them fight it out.” It is interesting that Wilf Charles, who wrote to me asking for a resolution calling for the withdrawal of troops, obviously under local pressure, did not acknowledge my letter. My guess is that he will follow the flock. They know nothing and they will not think.
October 13 Friday (Cynwyd): I cycled to Cynwyd where again I was alone. Apparently next weekend (the 20th) the parties begin to arrive, when the school holidays begin. I went through Yale to the junction for Llandegla, then turned right to the head of the Nantygarth, and left over to Bryn Eglwys where I had lunch.
October 14 Saturday (Braich Goch): I went first to Dolgellau, the weather being very good, then over to Corris. At the Youth Hostel I found a crowd of youngsters, with two whom I took to be teachers. They were sitting about but had made no effort to clean a pot. I went to the warden and almost stayed the night but decided not to and went to the Braich Goch where the publican told me that the name is common among farms around Corris, and she thinks it refers to a vein of red or pink in the slate deposits, now no longer worked.
October 15 Sunday (Ystumtuen): Imagine my surprise at the sudden change – the day broke wet, indeed very wet. There had been early fog yesterday and indeed I had missed the way at Llandderfel, going up through the village and emerging at Bethel. I could have gone back but there was plenty of time. Also there was fog in the evening, but I thought nothing of it. Now I went down to Machynlleth and had lunch. The rain eased off so that I could get to Capel Bangor before it started again. And then a strong wind blew me up to Ystumtuen, which I reached by crossing the hills. I was fairly wet but quickly changed and dried. There was a French agricultural student from Toulouse, quite a civilised person, who was unfortunately “hitch-hiking”. The French are far more personable than the Germans. It is doubtful if one could find two neighbours so different.
His jeans were covered with mud, which he had acquired while climbing Ben Nevis, how I can’t imagine. Incidentally I was shocked at the large number of Birmingham people about. I never heard so much English in Machynlleth.
October 16 Monday (Blaencaron): I cycled to Blaencaron, stopping for refreshment at Pontrhydgroes where the publican told me that he remembered Rhos fair in Pontrhydfendigaid. Really it disappeared with the horses. He said it was known locally as Ffair crog (with a long o). I did not wish to appear ignorant, so did not ask what “crog” meant – I assume it means cross or crucifix and may relate to the old abbey. Unless of course there was a hanging fair! Of this word “crog”, I noted an interesting use in the pub at Cynwyd, where they were all speaking Welsh. The domino players’ phrases interested me. A “hard” was a “Haw,” and when a man was “out” he was “allan”. I had a sense that these Welsh words were used with a meaning which was idiomatically English. Likewise, I think literary Welsh shows English etymology – though perhaps it is Latin. But of one idiom the Welshness was not in doubt. When a man had lost a game badly his opponent said “crogi!”
I had a bottle of Guinness at Ffair Rhos where an English couple have a public house. A Londoner was there – about 60. He had bought a small holding. His wife hoped for employment in “social services” in Aberystwyth, and he (who had not yet settled) was learning Welsh at the London Welsh Centre in Gray’s Inn Road [ie. near the Connolly Association office in that street]. The Welsh Language Society is having some effect. He will not find it easy to speak at the speed of the people here! I bought food at Tregaron. But all the character is out of the main shop. A group called “Spar” control it and you might as well be in England for all the character of the assistants. There is an underlying “take it or leave it” which permeates everything.
October 17 Tuesday: I cycled about a bit, but the wet cloudy weather continues. This year is certainly the year for clouds. The farmer at Glan isaf told me he had had a bad year and the swede crop is a failure. They think it is because they had rape last year, but it may be the filthy weather. I had company at night, a cyclist in knee breeches, from Ewill. He also was talking of looking for a job in Wales. They have ruined their own country beyond repair and want to get out of it! I told him he would need to learn Welsh. He had little brains and no conversation. I would say he was about 32 and would be one of these “ewiger jungers” [eternal youngsters] who sit unobtrusively in an office job but live outside it. The cat reappeared – the poor thing on its last legs was able to jump on the roof and meow through a window at us!
October 18 Wednesday: It was a wet heavy cloudy day, but not cold. I could not do much but committed myself to relaxation. Nobody came.
October 19 Thursdsay: Again it was wet and heavy, indeed worse that yesterday. And again nobody came. In the evening I counted 29 moths on the windowpanes of one room.
October 20 Friday: It drizzled all day but I went into Tregaron. There was no sun. In the evening there arrived two Australian females. They were not going to the Warden, but I sent them down. They were about the emptiest people I ever saw in a world of emptiness. They did not even converse together. One sat reading till 10, the other till 11.
October 21 Saturday: The Australians lay abed till 9.20 and then they found their voices. They sat chatterboxing till 11 am. Then one of them decided to write a letter in microscopic handwriting. This took one and a half hours, and I finally got rid of them at 1 pm. – I have the key of the place, so do not leave before them. One of them did all the work. The letter-writer was a selfish little bitch. I do not believe they had regulation sleeping bags. And as soon as these creatures departed it began to rain, so my day was spoiled. The mist came down so low that I could scarcely see the twenty yards across the river. At about 5.30 an Australian girl was dropped by a passing motorist. I asked her if she had been to the warden. “Here that’s not necessary,” she said. I told her it was. I saw no more of her, and good riddance. A cyclist then arrived. He had just missed me a year ago, and indeed had consumed potatoes I left behind. He was livelier than the last man, something of a “character” and reasonable company if not powerful. He had been at Dolgoch and Dernol. The Dernol man told him that the Dolgoch man was very foolish to move. He had no knowledge of Welsh and could not pronounce the simplest word. He was very particular however that he must have wholemeal oats and brown rice. It is nonsense, but sensible nonsense!
October 22 Sunday: The Bristol man told me that “two fellows” were due tonight. He left in the rain, though it lifted at midday. I would say he was possibly a graduate and aged about 30. The “two fellows” were schoolboys of about 18 – one spending an extra year at school, the other, the less assertive, being younger. They were wet, having been “orienteering”. The elder played chess. But it was merely skittles, King’s Gambit stuff. He could manage simple combinations and had a thirst for material, but I doubted if he had ever heard of positional play. There was no pleasure in it. And when the boys played together it was clear that the younger had even less notion of it. The leader boasted that he had “never read a book about chess.” As a good Englishman he could not pronounce a single Welsh word, and in that as in everything else he was proud of his ignorance. But they were not bad lads, had they the chance of education.
October 23 Sunday: I was checking up with the warden. She told me that the two Australian girls who were here on Friday did not come near her, and in fact had a free night. The Australians are notorious for this. No other nationality makes a general practice of it. The little bitches had gone out to protest to me that they had paid up!
There was a family party in the evening, and it is clear that if I sought peace and quiet I came away far too late. However, they were pleasant people – Allen, a lecturer in engineering (what kind I forget) at Swansea, his wife and four children, 5, 7, 9, and 11, all very well-behaved youngsters. Although he worked in Swansea he could not pronounce Welsh! And I have not much opinion of academic standards either. He started discussing the bicycle and asked why it was more “efficient” to travel on one than to walk. I told him it was the elimination of friction and explained how in walking there was a certain destruction of momentum which involved both external and internal friction. It was a new idea to him, that there might be friction inside an organism. And still he puzzled. “Surely,” said I, “you should be the man versed in the theory of machines.” And believe it or not I had to explain to him the relation of the wheel to the lever! There was also an Australian boy, about 20, who was totally empty but had that pleasant affability possessed by seamen and others who have to mix with all sorts. He had worked on helicopters in New Guinea and had collected enough money to spend a year bumming around the British Isles. Allen brought me news from Dolgoch. The warden looks ill. He is crippled with arthritis, as he lives on dried food, or such is the reason given. And while Allen was there a messenger brought the news that a warden twenty miles north had died. He thought it was Corrig Bwla.
October 24 Tuesday: The Australian went early. I was wrong about “bumming”. He has a bicycle, so he is a cut above the others. I was talking to Allen. He says he is totally non-political and apart from his work and walking in the country, his main interest is his allotment. I think he and his wife are of working-class origin. He had been talking about Thorpe [ie. Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe who had to resign because of a homosexual scandal]. He said he was sorry for the man as he would never have been in the position in which he finds himself if he had not been in public life. Now what “totally non-political” people say is of great political importance. The “right” know this; the “left” do not. The Australian was stung to curiosity before he left. “What’s the meaning of this word ‘llan’?” he asked [ie. a church or village in Welsh]. Allen asked me and I told him. “Is it English?” he asked. I explained that it was not. “Gee! I thought Welsh was a dialect. You really mean it’s a separate language?” Now Allen had called his eldest son Damien after an Irish friend and one of the daughters was Geronwy! Yet every relation in this man’s life was purely personal.
In the evening two female teachers arrived. One was young and pretty and a pleasant enough girl devoid of much in the top. The other, much older, struck me as a sour bitch. They left a window open for the rain to get in, and a half-cleaned pot.
October 25 Wednesday: I met the “nature-food” cyclist who had been to Nant Dernol. The place was chock-a-block, and didn’t the gas run out. The Hen Gardi [ie. the hostel warden] had driven down to Llanddewi for a spare cylinder. It is his nature that he keeps the coal and gas at his farm!
In the evening two more wretched Australians turned up, a man and his wife, around 30 years of age. They went collecting blackberries which they cooked with apples which I got the impression they had “scrumped”. Their main interest was what could be got for nothing, though from the size of their suitcases one would not think they wanted for much. “Any fish in that river?” asked the man. “I reckon they’d be too small.” However, I packed them off to the warden and I believe they left their cards.
I decided to leave tomorrow. I have been extending my stay day by day, but the fortnight is up. I have been working things out. Just before I came away I learned that I am entitled to an old age pension of £17 a week. I have not yet accepted it but will consult the accountant. The question is how it affects tax. I then thought I would try to make a few thousand in the next year or two and invest it. I will buy a rail card for cheap travel, but not go for a bus ticket. I had thought of giving up 33 Argyle Square [ie. his rented flat at King’s Cross, London]. but decided to hold it a while, pending a decision by Camden Borough Council on the future of the premises. On the subject of Connolly Association policy I thought that the explanation of the need for the reunification of Ireland was never more necessary, but perhaps the immediate issue to link it with is the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
October 26 Thursday (Dinas Mawddwy): I cycled to Aberystwyth, took the train to Machynlleth and then cycled to Minffordd, Dinas Mawddwy, by the right bank, that is to say entirely through Meirionydd. There was no traffic and the weather was superb. At Dinas there was a teacher from Walsall – about 25-27, a mountain walker and canoeist (if that is the spelling). He could not pronounce a word of Welsh and his mental pabulum must have been tourist literature, for he described Aran Fawddwy as the “highest point in Mid-Wales”, as if there was any recognised entity of Mid-Wales! He was pleasant enough. The others were teachers, two of them, from Buckinghamshire, and with boys aged 11-13. The leader was an athletic-looking young man of abut 35-40 – the possessor of undoubted qualities of leadership. The discipline was perfect, though in no way obtrusive. His companion was a retired teacher who had returned for the occasion, a man of 70 I would say, who had taught woodwork. I complimented the older man on the excellent behaviour of these youngsters, which differed from that of the Birmingham crew. “Well,” he replied, “he’s a bit selective over whom he brings. After all he’s giving up his holiday to bring them.” They had walked from Dolgellau, were going to Corris and then to Harlech.
October 27 Friday (Cynwyd): I cycled up to the top of the Bwlch y gross, where my chain got knotted up. What happens is that you jump off, your chain comes off, and because of the gradient you permit the machine to reverse. I had resigned myself to coasting down to Llanwchllyn and borrowing a screwdriver after I had crushed several pointed stones trying to free it. But I had one last try and all came right as if by magic. I do not recall ever being up there in such fine weather. The temperature must have been in the mid-sixties. On the way up I discarded an anorak and a jacket and was riding without gloves. The sun was hot. True, I had a strong vest between singlet and shirt, but could have done without it. Every detail of Aran Mawddwy’s precipices stood out. Arenig Fawr and Moel Llyfnant basked in the sun. Southwards I took the most conspicuous individual peak to be that of Drygarn Fawr, with the Radnor forest in the background. I was in Bala by 1.15 and had lunch there. I then continued to Cynwyd. There was a mixed company. A very retiring motherly woman in violet trousers was cycling with her two daughters – such I took the relationship to be. A Wrexham man with a Liverpool accent had arrived in a car. There was a rather personable girl of 18, a boy of 16, and another, totally different, of about 15, I took to be possibly adopted. Her accent was different. They made a meal, played “monopoly” and then went to Corwen for “fish and chips”. The most civilised were two young married teachers from Walsall who had a French girl with them. Apparently they did a great deal of walking.
October 28 Saturday (Liverpool): I left at about 9.30 and cycled without stopping to Penyffordd. There I found out the train times and went on to Shotton, where I bought some food and then took the train to Heswall Hills and so on to 124 Mount Road. It was not much after 2 pm. so I cycled into Prenton to buy other items of food. Again the weather was perfect.
On the way in I followed a route which aroused memories at almost every bend of the road. There was the time Edge and I climbed Moel Famau and because my heart started beating very rapidly (which thank goodness it did) I was sure I was going to have a heart attack (at 18!). There was Rhyd Talog where, probably the evening I cycled out to see Horace Green at Llandegla, where he stayed with a shanachie, I quite miraculously escaped when I rode off the road into the moor and back again on! It gives me the shudders when I pass the spot. But though it was pitch black (and I 21) it didn’t take a thing out of me at the time; the place at Coed Talwrn where Be. had the spill and we had to walk to Buckley for repairs. All like Har Breitman’s party “away in die Ewigkeit”[ie. gone into eternity]. However, whatever about reminiscences I do not propose to be intimidated by a combination of digits.
There was a letter from Alan Morton which also recalled the olden days. He sent me a photostatic copy of an obituary of old Dr Lee [William Arthur Lee, 1870-1931]. He was President of the Liverpool Botanical Society and a most remarkable man. He was the first man I ever heard give an hour’s lecture on a philosophical subject without any notes and never falter or fail in a perfect sentence. We seldom reflect on what started us on things, but I am sure that if I had not seen that at the age of 16 or 17 I would not have set out to do the same myself. I knew it was possible. The secret is the correct order of presentation. On the occasion in question I recall commenting to Horace Green, “Aha!” said he, “that’s the advantage of a trained mind.” In those days scientific papers used to carry summaries in Latin. I remember asking Dr Lee the meaning of “pagus”, which he explained meant heathland (not a district, an ecology) and mentioned the word “heathen”. He died in July 1931. CEG [ie. Desmond Greaves’s father] knew him and had a great respect for him. I seem to remember CEG saying one day, “Dr Lee is dead,” and remarking on what a remarkable man he was. And indeed it was Lee that set me off studying mosses. But I think I was mostly worried over the damage to my bicycle at Coed Talwyn and getting ready for the cycling holiday with Bo. In any case I had no experience from which to judge a man forty years and more my senior. The obituary was written by WG Travis, who said that Lee would be honoured to be remembered as one of the traditional “working man naturalists” that Lancashire had produced. He was of course Irish and it struck me on reading the obituary to wonder if he knew Lloyd Praeger whom he must surely have met in Dublin. Alan Morton (whom I also met at the Liverpool Botanical Society, I half think when Lee was giving a lecture) has long promised me this obituary. I don’t know how it came his way, so I was very pleased to have it.
There was a cutting from “Hibernia” without a covering letter which probably came from Tony Coughlan, though the handwriting resembled Cathal’s. It gave an account of the actions of the SFWP at the WUI conference. Surely these people are anxious to destroy themselves. Certainly “demonstrati sunt”[They have shown it].
October 29 Sunday: I did not go out today. the fine weather seems to have departed, so I am well back. I did little apart from some clearing up.
October 30 Monday: But no. The fine weather is back again, but there are no marrows. The sauerkraut is the best of the vegetables. Helga got me seed from Germany. The five yellow tomato plants have three fruits to the lot of them. There is one pumpkin the size of a large plum! The white beets are only one and a half inches across. A pretty disastrous season. At the same time, as last year there has been no frost, the Tropaeolums are perfect, strawberries are in unseasonable flower and most of the place is overgrown with grass and weeds. If there is a mild winter, and it is 50/50, then next year will be as bad for snails and slugs. I did a certain amount of work on the History.
October 31 Tuesday: I was on the phone to Skelly. He tells me that Carl Reeve’s book on Connolly in America is out and that somebody in Ireland has bought 800 copies. Young Nicholas the unsaintly answered the phone and handed me on to Skelly like a hot potato!
November 1 Wednesday: I had a phone call from Eddie Cowman. He seems to be doing reasonably. They had a social and five people wanted to join. He told me of having difficulty with the Camden Race Relations people. And why? Because at some meeting the CA attended, the CP proposed a resolution which said that the present racialism had its origin in post-imperialism. “We voted for it out of solidarity with the CP,” said he, and apparently there was a split. What possessed them to vote for it? Why couldn’t they abstain on the grounds that causation was irrelevant to the immediate tasks of resisting it? It is the same old thing. The SDF ran up a red flag in Poplar. Silly old Kay Beauchamp carried an Irish flag in a May Day march against all advice and the procession was attacked – I think it was a CP march! And now they thrust out something that can be quarrelled about, all in boundless enthusiasm for the cause! I told Eddie Cowman not to do it again. I went on with the book.
November 2 Thursday: Eddie rang to remind me that Fenner Brockway’s party is on Saturday. I can’t spare the time, but I propose to go.
November 3 Friday: Atherton came at 10 am. to adjust the sustaining pedal on the piano. He told me that when he has left, many people re-adjust it so that the dampers are permanently out of action! I had the opposite trouble and it makes for better playing. We all tend to use the pedal too much. He also told me that some clients like pianos out of tune. When he gets the pitch perfect they complain, “the tuner has taken all the tone out of the piano.” He told me that in some cases he uses a little psychology and leaves one or two notes a little out here and there “to give it a slightly tinny sound.” I laughed a great deal at this.
November 4 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I went to London. I arrived at Lime Street intending to buy a day return ticket. But there was a delay of three hours, so I was advised to buy an evening ticket – £7 cheaper. So I threw in a bottle of whiskey. As it happened, there was a refreshment car anyway. I saw Eddie Cowman in the office and went to Fenner Brockway’s 90th birthday celebration. I had a word with him but he did not seem particularly pleased to see me. This is of course political not personal. Stan Newens on the other hand was exceptionally amiable. Flann and Mary Campbell were there. Flann has re-joined the Connolly Association. Gordon McLennan was there [ie. CPGB General Secretary]. He always seems on top of the world – I imagine you’d need to be an optimist to do his job! He had been in Ireland with young Myant. A “joint statement” had appeared again. I am by no means sure that this joint statement business is not a fallacy. Why does the CPI not put out its own statement? Because its Northern section is affected by Unionism? Some of the boys had told me that they spoke about the “ultimate re-unification of Ireland” and no doubt ignored Lynch’s stated policy [ie. Irish Taoiseach Jack Lynch, who had urged the British Government to work towards Irish reunification] and enabled him to avoid doing too much about it. But Gordon was apparently very delighted. They are all pleased at small things. He had “spent a long time with Michael Mullens” (sic) who had said CDG was doing the history. I suppose I shall learn the details later. I do not know whether it is significant that Myant went over, and not somebody else. I hope so. If they have finally dropped that dung, well and good.
Now I saw people I had not met for years. Phil Piratin – doesn’t look a day old; sour old Tamara Piratin also looking not a day older. Seifert and Connie Seifert I see more often. Tony Smythe – looking somewhat bald and middle-aged, who asked after Sean Redmond [Smythe had been secretary of the NCCL a decade before, when the NICRA was established and had been present at its foundation meeting in 1967]. Whatever about him he was a cut above the bunch they’ve got at the NCCL now. The Workers Music Association choir sang, but though the place is an architect’s dream it is a musician’s nightmare. The half-witted nincompoops who design these absurd buildings are hooked on what they call “modern technology”. That means you can put the drains on the roof providing you have a strong enough pump, windows you don’t need at all as there is plenty of electricity the manufacturers will encourage you to waste, and there is no need for any concern for acoustics as you can put a loudspeaker every few yards. But of course people learn to ignore loudspeakers. Arthur Latham [ie. the Labour MP] secured quiet for five minutes while extracts from Fenner Brockway’s immortal works were read. I think it was Philip Rendle – whom McLennan recognised, but with a certain edginess on both sides, if I am not mistaken – who remarked that every quotation was selected to show that though he was against imperialism he was also against the USSR. What do they all intend to do about that country? Go to war? If not, how can they avoid some accommodation some time? Jane Tate was there, and Jim Cosgrave. The Bulgarian and Cuban ambassadors were there. I told the latter that Brockway was “good” but like much else in the world he was not “perfect”. Tony Gilbert was disappointed when Eddie Cowman, Philip Rendle and I left at 10 pm. We said it was too noisy for drinking. He said Brockway was going to “make the speech of his life, but he couldn’t be sure what was going to be in it.” Kay Beauchamp was also there. But there was no sign of Jack Woddis.
Gerrard Curran who was present told me that Toni Curran was waiting for a bed in hospital for an ear operation. Jane Tate said to me that over the past two or three years she has suffered a “change in personality”. There is something in this. Likewise Gerry Curran is not the man he was, as can be seen from the current “Irish Democrat”. He also came out with us. He told me that Harry Craig is dead. Kings and golden boys all must like chimney sweeps come to dust. He was the golden boy all right. His father was a Church of Ireland parson in Limerick. From TCD he came to London about 1941 or 1942. He was a great one for reading poetry in a most solemn voice he had probably imitated from Yeats. I saw him in Elsie O’ Dowling’s flat with a load of Dylan Thomas’s rubbish. He confessed he wouldn’t have bought them but had “lifted” them in Charing Cross Road. According to what Gerry Curran told me, he got quite good at “lifting” and lifted himself into television and made a lot of money. Dooley got him a hundred pounds from Lindsay Drummond to write a book about modern Ireland. Perhaps he will complete it in heaven. Dooley used to do things for people to anchor them to his own support but had no judgement of character. So there is another lamp gone out, though not a very bright one. I returned on the night train. Another one I heard had died was Charlie Byrne. Nobody ever tells me anything in time.
November 5 Sunday: The weather was perfect but I was a trifle tired. It is not possible to get a night’s sleep on a “sleeper”. However, I spent the evening on the history.
November 6 Monday: I got on with the book.
November 7 Tuesday: Another day on the same thing. The good weather continues. The Tropaeolums are as they would be in September, completely perfect. But the marrows are not getting fertilised.
November 8 Wednesday: Another day on the book.
November 9 Thursday: Most of the day on the book. Eddie Cowman told me over the telephone that he hears that there has been a rift between Irene Brennan and Myant over the Irish question on the Political Committee [ie. of the CPGB]. He thinks that is why he went to Dublin and not she. It will be no loss if we see the end of her malign influence.
November 10 Friday: Another day on the book.
November 11 Saturday: Another day on the book.
November 12 Sunday: Another day on the book.
November 13 Monday: The proofs of the Songbook came – the text, that is, not the songs.
November 14 Tuesday: Late at night Eddie Cowman rang. They had a lobby of Parliament and Jock Stallard said Rees and Mason are at odds over increasing the number of Six County MPs. He asked if I would telephone him. The weather has broken.
November 15 Wednesday: I rang Stallard and agreed to write a statement he could show round to a few MPs. More on the book.
November 16 Thursday: Despite yesterday’s gales it is still fairly mild. The Tropaeolums are a trifle battered in exposed places, but otherwise perfect. They die at the first touch of frost, so there cannot have been any. And I think two marrows are setting – I saw swarms of wasps round the flowers about ten days ago. I have not heard from Daltún O Ceallaigh for ages. Tony Coughlan says Michael Mullen was asking after me.
November 17 Friday: I spent the day on the book.
Novemver 18 Saturday: I spent the day on the book.
November 19 Sunday: I spent the day on the book.
November 20 Monday: I spent the day on the book.
November 21 Tuesday (London): I went to London and worked on the paper.
November 22 Wednesday: I continued work on the paper and had lunch with Professor Siegmund-Schultze from Halle [ie. Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze, professor of English at the university there, who organised six biennial Halle conferences in the German Democratic Republic on “Ireland, Culture and Society”, whose proceedings were published. Greaves’s article “Ireland in English Literature” was read on his behalf at the conference in 1981].
November 23 Thursday (Liverpool): Finding I had some copy in Liverpool I returned to finish the paper there.
November 24 Friday: There has been a severe frost and marrows and Tropaeolums have been cut right down. It is odd. The leaves on the elder and other shrubs are still green. And the Diervilla [ie. Honeysuckle] was frost-bitten, not shedding its leaves in the usual way. A poppy plant survives the frost, so they are harder. I finished the paper.
November 25 Saturday (London): I was at Colindale most of the day and went on a sale with Chris Sullivan in the evening. I think he is somewhat distressed by the state of the CP and feels hurt when so many of the members criticise the “Morning Star”. Of course in a country in economic decline demoralisation is to be expected. I don’t think they know what to do.
November 26 Sunday: In the morning we had the CA Executive Committee and there was no Mark Clinton or Barry Riordan. But Michael Crowe came from Newcastle, Peter Mulligan took the chair and there were Paddy Bond, Eddie Cowman, Noel Gordon, Jane Tate and Gerry Curran. Pat O Donohue’s wife has had a child so he did not come. And neither did Noel Moynihan. However it was quite a useful meeting.
In the evening I gave a lecture on early Irish history. The room was crammed – about 100 people, quite a few history students and lecturers, the whole audience “ordinary people,” no cranks or far-out politicos. Flann and Mary Campbell were there, Tadhg Egan and many others.
November 27 Monday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley and read the proofs and then came back to Liverpool.
November 28 Tuesday: I got in food and worked on the book.
November 29 Wednesday: All day on the book.
November 30 Thursday: All day on the book.
December 1 Friday: I continued work on the book.
December 2 Saturday: Again all day on the book.
Decemer 3 Sunday: Again all day on the book.
December 4 Monday: Again all day on the book.
December 5 Tuesday: Again all day on the book.
December 6 Wednesday: Again all day on the book.
December 7 Thursday: Again all day on the book.
December 8 Friday: Again all day on the book.
December 9 Saturday: I met Eddie Cowman at Lime Street and we went to the “Morning Star” bazaar, which did not look a powerful success but it may have been so in the morning. Then he went to see Veronica Gibson at the bookshop [ie. the Liverpool CP bookshop].
December 10 Sunday: I went with Eddie to the Liverpool Trades Council conference which we thought was on the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It was the most ill-planned and amateurish effort that could be imagined. Frances Maguire of the Belfast Trades Council gave a good opening. Then a young man from Tyrone got up. The thing thus got off on the wrong foot. At first I thought there were only one or two leftist chatterboxes, but there were more. And discussion on the situation in Ireland was allowed to drag on. The “Workers’ Revolutionary Party” (composed for the most part of young mixed-up students) was there in force. And didn’t they chatter! The young woman McCarthy who is working for the NCCL did not get speaking till the conference had been in session for five hours. Until then the PTA had only been mentioned by myself and one other. A resolution had been drawn up. Amendments had been sent in by post. Most of them were utter nonsense and the resolution was a typical Six-County effort. Brendan Gallagher made a defiant speech. There was not a trace, or scarcely a trace, of practicality. My effort to get it on track was a total failure. Eddie Cowman got up to try to suggest that the majority of Irish people and their elected representatives were very important and had not been mentioned. There was never such a morass. Finally they took the amendments one by one. At the beginning reason won easily. But then the Trotskies who at last tasted blood in a small majority united. The Bill of Rights was thrown out. Then out went the Better Life For All. The chairman, a boilermaker’s full-time official and (I thought) slightly influenced by SFWP (he is on the CP Executive and will have heard the vapid outpourings of that woman) appealed to their sense of responsibility not to pass any resolution contrary to TUC policy for fear of bringing the TUC down on them. But you might as well appeal to a snake. Indeed if he had urged them to vote for his resolutions because it was not TUC policy, they would probably have supported him because they’d not know what TUC policy was! Of course those who drafted the thing had no notion of what it all meant. Then, when the resolution had been emasculated, a Workers Revolutionary Party man stood up and proposed an alternative resolution which had not been circulated, and the chairman allowed a vote on something that I had not even read, nor had Eddie Cowman. He was so mightily frightened by appearing “undemocratic”, you’d no more hesitate to be undemocratic with scum like that than you’d be embarrassed at being naked before an animal. Denis Anderson protested at the chairman’s accepting the thing. But it was carried and the result of the conference was that the entire proceedings were negatived, including the traces of possible practical progress by means of a sheet brought in by people who were not even delegates from Trade Unions. And the communist chairman would sooner propitiate fools like that who didn’t matter a cabbage stalk than avoid a clash with the TUC who could disaffiliate them and close them down. I tried to explain one or two things to the chairman afterwards – he wouldn’t be much over 40, certainly not 50, and he listened but didn’t know what I was talking about. And this happens every time thanks to the pattern that conceited woman has set. Francis Maguire said she had never seen anything like it in her life. Nor had I, for though I have heard of these chatterbox conferences, so far I have avoided them. If I could finish this book I’d be tempted to take a hand myself. But my difficulty is that after the two years’ honeymoon period, now I’ve got to earn money to pay tax on money paid before. This is the penalty these fools pay for rejecting the Irish Government and the Irish in Britain [ie. as regards their policy line on Ireland].
This was shown in the lunch break, when we went up to the Irish Centre and Tom Walsh welcomed us with open arms. I don’t believe they were invited. And what is so shocking is that the Liverpool Trades Council has wasted hundreds of pounds. Deplorable how honest sincere people can be so incredibly bungling. I was sorry for them. I hope the Trades Council is not disaffiliated; after all it is the oldest in the world. But Anderson told me that it used to be in CP control but is not now, and its influence has declined. Partly it is the way the CP has gone from extreme of discipline to extreme of indiscipline, and partly also the emergence of an academic Marxism where any absurd nonsense is tolerated.
For the last few days the weather has become exceptionally mild again.
December 11 Monday: I went into town to see Roger O’Hara [Liverpool CPGB secretary] about yesterday’s conference. He told me that the same thing happened before. The thing was supposed to be a national conference. But there was untold squabbling before it was halfway arranged and in his opinion it ought to have been cancelled. He had not been invited, nor Clann na hEireann, who had phoned to ask if he knew why. So on the one hand you have amateurs, on the other wreckers, a bad combination. I think the Liverpool Trades Council is probably still dreaming of past grandeurs, both of its own and of the city. I told O’Hara that I thought he should ask Williamson the chairman to come and see him and work out some way to extricate the Trades Council from the mess it has got into.
Of course you can’t have a strong progressive movement if the class on which it depends disintegrates, and I can see western society going the way of ancient Rome, with a handful of mighty proprietors, a number of well treated slaves, and a huge free proletariat dependent on doles, and the whole lot held together by a massive dictatorial state machine. I spent most of the day on the book.
December 12 Tuesday: I spent the day on the book. The weather is still mild and the barometer is below 29’ – about 28.82’. But when in the early thirties it used to fall as low as 28.10 (the lowest I remember) it used to swing about, rising or falling half an inch in a few hours. Now high, low or medium it is always stagnant. I hope this does not presage a terrible winter. I rather fear it does. At the same time the seventies have been something of a “little thirties”, and for several nights we have had warm clear nights with magnificent moonlight.
December 13 Wednesday: I spent the day on the book. Eddie Cowman rang. He is in better form. I noticed the immediate change when at the last E.C. I proposed him for the position of General Secretary. I think he has it in him.
December 14 Thursday: I spent the whole day on the book.
December 15 Friday: Another day on the book.
December 16 Saturday: Another day on the book.
December 17 Sunday: Another day on the book.
December 18 Monday: I spent the day on the book. I spoke to Eddie Cowman on the phone. The lecture by Flann Campbell had been well attended, and the party on Friday night made about £200. Those damn fools [ie. the Provisional IRA] have started putting bombs again. I was afraid that this might keep people away, but apparently it didn’t.
December 19 Tuesday: I worked on the book till the lamp in the microfilm reader burned out. The weather has turned very cold. It looks bad.
December 20 Wednesday: It was afternoon before I got the new lamp, so I did a little shopping and decided the day had gone. I have been turning over in my mind stating my views with unusual frankness in the January issue of the “Democrat”. Eddie Cowman rang in the evening. They are having a party instead of a branch meeting. It will keep them together. I listened to an “eighteenth century style” performance of “Messiah” on the radio. I always listen when I can as I am so familiar with it. They had a wretched countertenor who took all the arias his voice was most unsuitable for. And I don’t like the decorations. No wonder Beethoven put his foot down. Moreover, I wonder if in the 18th century they may not have been rather more skilled in the decorating business. I was brought up on “baroque” music, with AEG’s Beethoven [ie. his mother’s] as a kind of alternative pabulum. I remember quite well when my interest stretched to “classical” music. I would be about 20 or 21. I never liked the romantics, though I suppose Schumann is the best of them. When I was nearing 30 I grew interested in the neo-classical people, particularly Brahms, and I still can listen to them with interest. But since I got back here I have put in such an intensive study of the classical composers that I would not be desperate if none other existed. But it is very seldom you can hear the lesser lights – though the BBC featured some a week or two ago.
December 21 Thursday: I went on with the book. The weather seems to be getting a trifle milder again.
December 22 Friday: The weather improves further. More on the book. I heard from Dorothy Greaves.
December 23 Saturday: Another day on the book. Tony Coughlan rang up; he is going to Cork for the day [ie. Christmas Day].
December 24 Sunday: Another day on the book.
Dec 25 Monday: Another day on the book. The weather is very mild. Though there are gale warnings on the radio, none of them seem to come here. I so far conceded to the season as to drink a bottle of sekt at night.
December 26 Tuesday: Another day on the book. Apparently there is a mass of very cold air to the north that will push the mild air back.
December 27 Wednesday: Another day on the book.
December 28 Thursday: Another day on the book. I am on the 1913 strike now and find my old extracts taken from the “Daily Herald” over twenty years ago invaluable.
December 29 Friday: Another day on the book. The colder air has arrived.
December 30 Saturday: I had a telephone call from Paddy Bond wishing me a happy New Year. It is cold in London too. He told me that he met by accident a member of the E.C. of the United Irish Societies. Peter Mulligan had applied for affiliation and it was refused on the grounds that the Northampton branch was not the head office. I thought this was probably an excuse and was indisposed to send in a national application. But this man told Paddy that we were held in very high regard by the Association Executives and that if we applied we would probably be accepted. Eddie Cowman and I had hoped to get Tom Walsh on his own at the Irish Centre but we did not succeed. This is extremely interesting as showing the results of our policy. Another day on the book.
December 31 Sunday: It was freezing hard in the morning – I would say the worst since 1963. I was afraid it was coming and it might go on for three months. There was ice inside the kitchen windowpane and the bath and bathroom outlets were blocked. I poured salt down them and they cleared. It is a shocking sight that one sees through the window. The only advantage will be the killing off of all the snails that have proliferated. The rule is a good one. Whenever there is a terribly bad summer, then there will be an abnormal winter, mild or cold. Now we know which. And it has begun damned early. Terribly low temperatures on the continent are also a very bad sign. Anyway, I got on with the book. The only thing to do is to soldier on. but of all the things I loathe, it is snow. There hasn’t been any for years.
January 1 Monday: I don’t think it is quite so cold today. But the last few days I have had a filthy cold myself. I went on with the book.
January 2 Tuesday: I had thought of going to London but decided I would catch pneumonia in that icy flat. I may go tomorrow. My cold has slightly improved. I worked on the paper.
January 3 Wednesday (London): I had a bright idea. I took a fan-heater with me to London. I spoke at the branch meeting in the evening. Jim McDonald told me that Eddie Cowman told him he was going home in the summer, and Jim McDonald knows he is not making what he could of the job. His outlook is that of a peasant. He thinks that socialists are all misfits who cannot make a job of capitalism, and instances Gerard Curran the melancholic, Clendening, and nine tenths of the CP. He allows a few exceptions, but thinks they are off their heads for not doing well for themselves and forgetting all else. His brother earns £100 a week painting farmers’ gates and has no troubles or responsibilities. Jim McDonald is very sceptical about whether he will find things as he imagines them.
[Mr Eddie Cowman made the following comment when he read the above passage in 2022, forty years after it was written: “I don’t know where Desmond Greaves got the idea that I was returning home to Ireland to paint farmers’ gates and fences. Neither myself nor any of my family were involved in painting. With no disrespect to painters, I find it hard to imagine a more dreary occupation than that suggested. I had never intended to stay in Britain more than five years. Any longer and it would start to become permanent. That was the reason I was returning to Ireland.]
January 4 Thursday: I took a sleeping bag as well as the heater to the flat and the cold grew less intense. However, I brought away the paper to finish in Liverpool.
January 5 Friday (Liverpool): I finished the paper and posted it off. The weather is cold but not so cold as it was, but I don’t relish the prospects for this winter. It is the worst so far since 1963! I think I forgot to note was that a letter came yesterday from Lenny Draper. He has left Paris, is staying with friends in Salford and tossing up between going back to Portadown and going to live with his orange brother in London. He returned £10 we lent him years ago. I wish I understood just what made him tick. There is something unknown. I returned to Liverpool.
January 6 Saturday: I went on with the book.
January 7 Sunday: I went on with the book.
January 8 Monday: I went on with the book.
January 9 Tuesday: I went on with the book.
January 10 Wednesday: I went on with the book.
January 11 Thursday: I went on with the book.
January 12 Friday: I was intending to go to London today but Eddie Cowman told me that the papers are lost in the railway system. He also told me that Irene Brennan is no longer running the Irish Advisory committee of the London District Committee. Another man has it and he has been pressing Eddie Cowman to join. He is a borough secretary. He will certainly not understand the Irish question, nor will he have the time or inclination to learn. Presumably he knows Eddie Cowman works for us full-time. Why should he not work for him? I have absolutely no confidence in the ability of these amateurs at Farringdon Road to do more than cook up time-wasting diversions they think will bring about short-term advantage to themselves. I advised him to decline. They’ve got Paddy Bond already. One is enough.
I wrote to Tony Coughlan. He had told me that John Hume is talking about launching an anti-partition movement. I asked Tony to try to prevent him from rushing in for the purpose of making a showing at home. I think a meeting at the House of Commons such as Stallard and I have been discussing could be followed by one to which Hume could be invited.
January 13 Saturday (London): I went to London. The papers are still missing. For a miracle the flat was not frozen up.
January 14 Sunday (Liverpool): We held a Standing Committee in the afternoon. Pat Bond, Eddie Cowman, Jane Tate and the rest were there. Eddie told us he intended to return to Ireland in the summer. So that is that. I think he hankers after £100 a week even if it is earned by painting fences all day. Jim McDonald is sceptical and thinks he will find he dislikes it. I returned to Liverpool.
January 15 Monday: The one-day break in the cold weather is over, and without a doubt this is the coldest winter since 1963. And as in that year there is endless snow. I started up again with the book.
January 16 Tuesday: I continued with the book.
January 17 Wednesday: I went on with the book.
January 18 Thursday: I went on with the book.
January 19 Friday: I went on with the book.
January 20 Saturday: I went on with the book.
January 21 Sunday: I went on with the book.
January 22 Monday: I went on with the book.
January 23 Tuesday: I went on with the book. The cold weather seems to have set in. There is not a sign of a break in it. My good parsnips are under ground that can’t be broken. And I have not been able to cut the cabbages or sprouts.
January 24 Wednesday: I went on with the book.
January 25 Thursday: I went on with the book.
January 26 Friday: I went on with the book.
Januart 27 Saturday: I went on with the book. More snow.
January 28 Sunday: I went on with the book. More snow. An odd thing happened in the evening. There was a knock at the door. I was making out index cards and did not go down at once. There followed a louder knock and a very hard one. I went down. there was a man of about 50 – I would judge an Irish countryman or rather from a small town. He said his wife was giving out invitations to some Methodist thing and thought that this was the place it should be delivered, as it is “the last house before the estate”. He showed me an envelope and it was open. The letter he took out began “Dear?” “She can’t be sure of the name.” I am poor at features but the face is familiar. Possibly he is somebody who lives around here. But the thing reminds me of an occasion in Dublin where a man brought me a bogus invitation because, no doubt, he was anxious to see what I looked like. The man on that occasion was one of the “Broy Harriers”[ie. the Special Branch police]. And I wondered whether it was far-fetched to think it was the same man. It is certainly somebody very similar. But I cannot think of any reason why anybody should be interested. But what makes me highly suspicious of the visitor is first that he was extremely alert and was taking my features in, second that when I asked him, “what is the name of the man your wife wants to invite” he disclosed that she did not know. In other words to give an answer would be to give my name and give the show away.
January 29 Monday: I was to have gone to London but stayed here and went on with the book.
Jan 30 Tuesday (London): I went to London.
January 31 Wednesday: Yesterday evening I had a long talk with Eddie Cowman and Noel Moynihan. They are both anxious to get back to Ireland, and I’m sure I can’t blame them. But Eddie, though as firm a nationalist as ever, is inclined to think that capitalism has quite a future for him, even if it is only getting extortionist payments from painting farmers’ fences. On the other hand Noel Moynihan is critical of Eddie for having no cultural interests. So that is the difference between them. I attended a branch meeting. They have let it run down, and this is partly due to Eddie Cowman’s lack of a feeling of settlement. Steve Huggett was there, Jane Tate, Philip Rendle, who came sufficiently out of his skin to suggest that Charlie Cunningham (who is skulking in Paddington) should give a talk on “Life in the wild”. I didn’t think he had it in him. For the rest I worked on the paper. I brought the O’Casey proofs with me and did a little on that. The weather is not so cold here as in Liverpool, a reversal of the usual winter position.
February 1 Thursday: I got on with the paper.
February 2 Friday: I finished the paper and went out with Chris Sullivan in Camden Town.
February 3 Saturday: I worked on the proofs [ie. of his book “Sean O Casey: Politics and Art”]. In the evening I was with Gerry Curran in Hammersmith. Who should we see in the pub in Fulham where they have the Irish music but Lenny Draper. He is staying in London for a while. I very much doubt if he will come back into politics, though he was very pleased to see me.
February 4 Sunday: I finished the proofs.
February 5 Monday (Liverpool): I took in the proofs to Lawrence and Wishart and returned to Liverpool.
February 6 Tuesday: I went to Derby to read the proofs of the paper. The snow was covering everything. This winter reminds me of 1947, though the fact that there has been snow with a wind in the west reminds me of 1945.
February 7 Wednesday: I started on the index for O’Casey.
February 8 Thursday: I concluded the index – staying up till 2 am. to do it.
February 9 Friday: I went on with the Transport Union history.
February 10 Sunday: All day on the book.
February 11 Saturday: All day on the book. The weather remains abominable.
February 12 Monday (London): I went to London and gave Skelly the index. I took him out to lunch. Actually he is not that bad. He says that the boys in his office are ferocious “soft-liners” and when I said I did not think much of the London District Committee he said, “You should see them now.” I got back late.
February 13 Tuesday (Liverpool): All day on the book.
February 14 Wednesday: All day on the book.
February 15 Thursday: All day on the book.
February 16 Friday: All day on the book.
February 17 Saturday: All day on the book.
February 18 Sunday: All day on the book.
February 19 Monday: All day on the book.
February 20 Tuesday: All day on the book.
February 21 Wednesday: All day on the book. The weather has taken up.
February 22 Thursday: All day on the book. Jane Tate rang up to say that Sigmund Seifert is dead. I am sorry. He had a heart attack. I have only two chapters to do.
February 23 Friday (London): I left for London on the 2 o’clock train and found Eddie Cowman in the office. I was out in Paddington with him. People were asking about Charlie Cunningham, but there is no sign of him.
February 24 Saturday: I went to Colindale in the afternoon and found one or two things. I was with Gerry Curran in Hammersmith in the evening.
February 25 Sunday: We held a Standing Committee in the morning, with Paddy Bond, Jane Tate, Pat O’Donohue, Eddie Cowman, Gerry Curran and Noel Gordon. In the evening I gave a lecture on Ireland during the Union which was very well attended. New members joined. Eddie is now talking about going home “at the end of the year”. He is going to Bulgaria with Noel Moynihan in July. I got more news from Brian Crowley, who was in yesterday morning. Eddie gave him a severe talking to about the failure of the members to support the CA when its work is going so well. Crowley had been to see Charlie Cunningham. Michael Ryan had said he was waiting for a redundancy payment from Rolls Royce. He owes Paddy Bond £100 for calendars. Brian Crowley said the CP is doing so badly that Gordon McLennan had to call on people himself to get them to re-enrol. He says there is much bitterness over the “British Road to Socialism”. And of course things will not go well. In the most difficult and complex general circumstances, instead of concentrating on the immediate, they produced a long detailed blueprint, full of things to differ on.
February 26 Monday: I worked all day on the paper.
February 27 Tuesday: Again I spent all day on the paper.
February 28 Wednesday: I finished the paper. In the evening there was a most successful social evening at the Mother Redcap in honour of Jock Stallard, who said a few words on his resignation as a whip. The prospective candidate for Lena Jeger’s constituency was there, Dobson, sound on the Irish question and a very pleasant fellow [ie. Frank Dobson, later MP for Holborn and St Pancras 1979-2015 and a Labour Government Minister]. Two UCATT organisers were there. One of them told me that up to now the Irish had always voted Labour. Now they said, “Never again.” I think his name was Kennedy. He knew Jim McDonald well. O’Hea was there also. Jim McDonald was very impressed with this and also the presence of councillors or prospective councillors like Rossi. And he made a comment that was interesting.
“That man’s supposed to be right-wing.”
“Well what is right wing?”
“A silly word.” To my surprise he agreed. Handsome is as handsome does.
I have no doubt that the success of this evening, on which we must have made £50 – largely contributed to by Tadhg Egan and his friends who now found something they could do – has helped to stabilise Eddie Cowman [Tadhg Egan was a longstanding CA member]. Moreover, the embassy [ie. the Irish Embassy] have agreed to see us, which is also good. Flann Campbell was there but Mary was unwell.
I decided to stay till the weekend when I give the lecture on Partition, and meanwhile go to Colindale a couple of times. I have summarised Eddie Cowman as of the sanguine type who cannot abide boredom. The political aspect is a certain disenchantment with the CP. “I blame Cook,” he says, “he brought all the students into the YCL and they joined the CP and fucked it.” He says that they do not want to secure actual change but live the way of life of a left-wing word-spinner, as if it were a religion. I heard that Frank Cartwright left the London District because he cannot stand Gerry Cohen. Very interesting. Eddie blames him too.
March 1 Thursday: I went to Colindale in the day. The evening was spent over a couple of pints with Eddie Cowman who asked me to go to the station with him, where they sell “real ale”.
March 2 Friday: I went to Colindale again. In the evening I was out with Eddie.
March 3 Saturday: I was in the office most of the day. There is difficulty in running the bookshop and Eddie Cowman decided to “give out” to the branch.
March 4 Sunday: We had a seminar on partition. It was attended by about thirty people including Eamon McLaughlin and Flan Campbell, also this time Mary. I think there were new members. Moreover, they are a new type of member, ordinary Irish people.
March 5 Monday (Liverpool): I was in the office in the morning, but as the printer will not have the proofs ready until Tuesday I came back to Liverpool.
March 6 Tuesday: I went to Ripley. The transport was bad. The paper took a long time and I did not get back until 9.15 pm.
March 7 Wednesday: I did not get much done today, though I lifted some parsnips. Already everything is growing, a crocus is out and daffodils are pushing up, but the garden is in a mess.
March 8 Thursday: I went on with the book.
March 9 Friday: I went on with the book.
March 10 Saturday: I went on with the book.
March 11 Sunday: I went on with the book.
March 12 Monday (London/Liverpool): I went to London on a day trip. When I got to the office Eddie and Flan Campbell were there and we went to have lunch. Then we met Paddy Bond at Hyde Park Corner and walked down to the Irish Embassy where we had a talk with a Public Relations or Press Relations man called O Ceallaigh. We suggested to him a resumption of publication of the old External Affairs Bulletin and to send it to Trade Unions to urge them against Partition. We were treated to coffee and the whole thing was very cordial. Partly I thought of it to kill two birds with one stone, the other being to encourage Eddie Cowman. He held a meeting on Wednesday at which he gave out about the lazy bones that the members are. I forgot to ask him what happened at it. Then I came back to Liverpool.
March 13 Tuesday: I went on with the book.
March 14 Wednesday: I went on with the book.
March 15 Thursday: I went on with the book.
March 16 Friday: I went on with the book. Eddie Cowman told me on the telephone that Charlie Cunningham is back. Philip Rendle went to see him after the “giving out” session when each one of them agreed to visit an inactive member. Steve Huggett went to see Jim Kelly. So Charlie Cunningham says he will be along to the Patrick’s Night dance. Eddie Cowman is now talking of staying till the end of the year. He may well if he sees some progress.
March 17 Saturday: I went on with the book.
March 18 Sunday: Paddy Bond rang up to say his St Patrick’s night dance was ruined. The police called an hour before it began to say that no drink must be served. I’m not surprised. When he couldn’t get a publican to provide a bar I suggested that he should cancel it.
March 19 Monday: I went on with the book.
March 20 Tuesday: I went on with the book. But it is devilish slow work. It snowed today.
March 21 Wednesday: I got on with the book. Eddie Cowman told me that the lobby of Parliament was a success. It was snowing today again.
March 22 Thursday: Another day on the book – and with snow. But it all melts. It is too late in the season for it to lie on this coastal strip. Eddie Cowman rang up in great excitement. The “Manchester Guardian” and the “Morning Star” report a split in the CP. I am not surprised for I stand aghast at their fearsome stupidity, that instead of uniting for peace, economic gains and above all the Common Market, issues on which they could get support, they fool about with a sort of Pilgrims’s Progress they actually believe sets out a “British Road to Socialism”. And all they bother about is talking about this pie in the sky, like J. Godolphin Bennett and his yogis endlessly discussing their pantisocracy in South Africa [See the 1940s volumes, when Greaves worked in British industry]. He tells me that Gordon McLennan wants to send Monty Johnstone, a horrid little revisionist (I use the word in its original meaning, not as abuse), to some affair in Hungary. Gerry Cohen has said that if Johnstone goes, he resigns. Now why this should produce a split I don’t know. I would think the Hungarians could manage Johnstone, and I’m sure it would be no loss to British politics if that egregious vanity-bag of a Gerry Cohen got out of them, the cocky conceited little jackanapes. But then it struck me. If Johnstone does not go, who is Cohen’s candidate? Irene Brennan? Quite possibly. I wonder if the sensible people who still remain will ever get an opportunity to make their voices heard. I think if that opportunity came one would probably have a duty to take it. But I am afraid that the demoralisation has gone a long way, and many of the young people have not the categories to think with.
March 23 Friday: I realised I should have been at the International Affairs Committee. They are discussing China and I intended to go. Thinking along the lines of the last sentences of yesterday I sent Jack Woddis a letter suggesting he should call a conference on internationalism. I told him that in my opinion a lack of understanding of this question is the cause of all the trouble in the world working class movement. Perhaps I should not have said all.
March 24 Saturday: Another day on the book.
March 25 Sunday: Another day on the book.
March 26 Monday: Another day on the book.
March 27 Tuesday (London): I went to London to start on the paper. Eddie Cowman seems in good form and is talking of staying to the end of the year. I got the impression that the “split” is a storm in a teacup. According to Jane Tate Frank Cartwright is now running certain Camden social services and told her that he cannot stand the sight of Gerry Cohen. I think he carted Cartwright round the country to do his work for him!
March 28 Wednesday: There was quite an amiable letter from Jack Woddis taking up the idea of the conference. I wonder if it might help. I went on with the paper.
March 29 Thursday: I went on with the paper.
March 30 Friday: I finished the paper and was in Paddington with Eddie Cowman and Steve Huggett. We called on Charlie Cunningham and found him with an Iranian mott. Very indecisive and demoralised – hopelessly, I think. My theory is that he’d like to clear out but is afraid his mother might die.
March 31 Saturday: I was in Hammersmith with Gerry Curran. The latest is that Toni Curran is now friendly with a man who used to work on the “Morning Star” – I forget his name. He runs the “Country Standard”. He was sacked from the “Star” as unceremoniously as Pat Devine. He lives in Devonshire and Toni Curran periodically goes there and takes the children. The marriage has completely broken up. But they will stay together until the children are off their hands.
April 1 Sunday (Liverpool): We held a Standing Committee and things have greatly improved and Eddie Cowman is quite enthusiastic. The finances are better and there is £275 in as a subsidy for Flann Campbell’s pamphlet. I returned to Liverpool.
April 2 Monday: I went on with the book
April 3 Tuesday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs and everything went smoothly enough.
April 4 Wednesday: I went on with the book. What it amounts to is coming into this room at 10 am. and writing till midnight barring meals.
April 5 Thursday: I went on with the book
April 6 Friday: I went on with the book.
April 7 Saturday: I went on with the book.
April 8 Sunday: I went on with the book.
April 9 Monday: I went on with the book.
April 10 Tuesday: I went on with the book.
April 11 Wednesday: I went on with the book. Eddie Cowman has arranged a social tomorrow. I was intending to go on a day trip to London, but he suggested I should stay over to evening and say a few words at the event. So I got him to book me a sleeper.
April 12 Thursday (London/Liverpool): I went to London, looked up a reference in Somerset House and made some purchases. There was a first-class social in the evening. Eddie Cowman had got some marvellous youngsters from the Comhaltas. There was one little girl with a fiddle who could not have been more than eight, and they had whistles and recorders and the looks of concentration on their little faces as they played was a delight to see. All kinds of people were there, Tadhg Egan, Bill Hardy, Paddy Bond, Stella Bond, and Maggie Byrne from Glasgow. She seems cheerful enough. She is spending a deal of time travelling but keeps the house for the moment. I caught the midnight train.
April 13 Friday: I went on with the book.
April 14 Saturday: I went on with the book.
April 15 Sunday: I went on with the book.
April 16 Monday: I went on with the book.
April 17 Tuesday: I went on with the book. I spoke to Daltún O Ceallaigh on the telephone. There is still a postal strike and liable to be a bank strike. I remember Dooley once growing indignant at being kept waiting for a table at the Waldorf and exclaiming “modern life is exasperating”. He should see it now!
April 18 Wednesday: According to Eddie Cowman he made about £60 on the social. But he rang up again in great perturbation. Some of those lovely children we had at the social have been killed in a car crash – a girl of fifteen, a boy of eighteen, and one other. Not the very young ones. They were going to Coventry to give a concert. One of the men badly injured is the man who runs the youth orchestra. It is really deplorable. Eddie will go to the funeral with Siobhán O’Neill.
April 19 Thursday: I went on with the book.
April 20 Friday: I went on with the book.
April 21 Saturday: I went on with the book. The weather is still atrocious and I haven’t touched the garden.
April 22 Sunday: I went on with the book.
April 23 Monday: Same thing.
April 24 Tuesday: I went on with the book. I had hoped to have had it done by now, but then even if I’d been able to get away for the holiday I hoped for, the weather would have been impossible.
April 25 Wednesday: Still on the book
April 26 Thursday: Same thing.
April 27 Friday: Same thing.
April 28 Saturday: Same thing.
April 29 Sunday: Same thing.
April 30 Monday: Same thing.
May 1 Tuesday: Same thing.
May 2 Wednesday (London): I went to London to work on the paper. Eddie Cowman seems full of enthusiasm now he knows he is leaving. He has asked young Noel Gordon if he would do it, and I think he will. It will be a long time since we had a Northern Protestant on the job!
May 3 Thursday: I went on with the paper.
May 4 Friday (Liverpool): I went on with the paper and then returned to Liverpool.
May 5 Saturday: I went on with the book.
May 6 Sunday: Again the book.
May 7 Monday: Again the book.
May 8 Tuesday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs.
May 9 Wednesday: I went on with the book.
May 10 Thursday: I went on with the book.
May 11 Friday: I went on with the book.
May 12 Saturday: I went on with the book.
May 13 Sunday: I went on with the book. The weather is atrocious, as cold as winter. It is costing a bomb for heating.
May 14 Monday: I went on with the book.
May 15 Tuesday: I went on with the book.
May 16 Wednesday: I went on with the book.
May 17 Thursday: I went on with the book.
May 18 Friday: I went on with the book.
May 19 Saturday: The same.
May 20 Sunday (London): I went to London to give a lecture on Irish history.
May 21 Monday (Liverpool): The same.
May 22 Tuesday: The same.
May 23 Wednesday: The same.
May 24 Thursday: The same.
May 25 Friday: I finished the book. I never had such a time before in my life. Talk about forced marches. Of course I’ll have to revise it, but I don’t think it’s too bad.
May 26 Saturday: I had intended to go to London but the eighth bus strike in a month caused me to miss the train.
May 27 Sunday (London): I went to London and had a desperate journey. I did four pages of the paper.
May 28 Monday (Liverpool): As it is a holiday there was no point in staying, so I came back to Liverpool to do the paper. The weather was not too bad in London but very cold in Liverpool.
May 29 Tuesday: I worked on the paper.
May 30 Wednesday: I posted off the paper. I had to go to Rock Ferry and go by train to Central as there was another bus strike. It started to rain at noon. It was like January. And the rain. I think that there is a chance that this will be the end of the cold weather. This very continuous heavy rain has a presage of summer in it. Also it came twice, a sign of a warm occlusion. I revised the Introduction.
May 31 Thursday: The weather steadily improved and the radio spoke of great heat in Germany. Tonight this is the first time I have not had an electric fire on. My electricity bill for the autumn and winter and early spring has been £130, and I have burned a ton and a quarter of coal. There was a fine-weather sunset for the first time. So I sowed some parsley and put in some tomatoes. But the garden is a total wilderness. It has never been so bad. Four or five bad springs have come in a row.
June 1 Friday (London): I went to London and in the afternoon Tony Coughlan came from Sussex where he has been at an anti-EEC meeting. He told me that many of them are getting worried about the growing dominance of Germany. The old firms that supported Hitler are behind the EEC. He also told me that Justin Keating has been ill and indeed at one time did not expect to survive. He has some strange disease which according to Tony (who admittedly doesn’t understand it) brings the pressure of the skull on the brain. He wrote an article saying that when anticipating dissolution he looked on his past life and decided he would do again all that he did! It is strange that he should be proud of it. Apparently the condition is being controlled by means of drugs. I was out with Chris Sullivan in Camden Town.
June 2 Saturday: I was in the office. Nothing much happened. I was out in Hammersmith with Gerry Curran.
June 3 Sunday: The Standing Committee took place in the morning. I am afraid Eddie Cowman is going to leave in August. It is strange, though, how enthusiastically he works while he is here. Among those present were Jane Tate, Paddy Bond, Pat O’Donohue, Gerry Curran, Steve Huggett and Noel Gordon. He is older than Eddie, being 28, but not so developed. Still I hope he will take it on. In the evening there was a social evening to mark the publication of O’Casey. Jeff Skelly was there, and Gordon McLennan, very affable and, people said, enjoying himself. It is possible that he found the Irish atmosphere relaxing. Tadhg Egan, Noel Gordon, Jane Tate, Toni and Gerry Curran, Steve Huggett and people who we don’t often see were there. Toni Curran bought a copy for Bob Wynn who is her latest flame. Gerry told me that the marriage is completely broken up. But young Niall, a bright youngster, was there.
June 4 Monday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool in the morning and began the work of clearing up. What a job!
June 5 Tuesday: The young man Jean Brown found finished painting her house yesterday and started mine today. I did a little in the garden.
June 6 Wednesday: Again I did a little in the garden.
June 7 Thursday: The weather seems definitely to be taking up. I cleared away many weeds.
June 8 Friday: The young fellow has had to interrupt the painting but will recommence on Monday. I really need a holiday but am afraid it is out of the question till September.
June 9 Saturday: More gardening. I put in the tomato plants and sowed some seed. Also parsley.
June 10 Sunday: Again gardening.
June 11 Monday: Today the weather was warm – around 68’F-70’F. I would say I have sowed marrows, more tomatoes, ridge cucumbers, fennel, cabbage, pamphrey and calabrese.
June 12 Tuesday: I did some more gardening, but I also made some notes for my Scottish lectures. A few months ago a young maths teacher aged 21 wrote from Edinburgh asking for particulars of the Connolly Association. He had just left Clann na hEireann on account of their anti-national policy. We did not hear again for a while. But in April he suggested that I go and address some meetings because of the confusion in Scotland. He is in the CP. They agreed to arrange the meetings. I wrote to Alan Morton [who had moved to live in Edinburgh on his retirement] but Alan replied saying he is in Canada. She is arranging for me to stay with John Morton who is now married (Nobody ever tells me anything). The first meeting is tomorrow and I propose to give them the works. It won’t be what they’d hear from Irene Brennan!
June 13 Wednesday (Edinburgh): I caught the 9.45 train to Edinburgh. Mr and Mrs Sardesai (the man a Goan Portuguese, the wife from Stornoway) met me and when we got to his place Fergal O’Doherty was there. They conducted me to 6 Dryden Place where Alisoun Morton was waiting for John Morton and his wife. The meeting was at 7.30. About 40 people were present, a few of them Trotskies, but mincemeat was made of them. I had a very good impression of O’Doherty. He spoke of Clann na hEireann’s penetration of the CP and said they were strong in Glasgow, not Edinburgh. He was brought to Glasgow as a young boy, from Monaghan Town. I stayed the night with John Morton [ie. one of Professor Alan Morton’s two sons]. He has of course matured considerably. He struck me however as still a rather serious young man with very strong emotional convictions. But his ideas are sound enough. He was in Dublin a few years ago seeing Alisoun Morton and met Cathal MacLiam and Tony Coughlan. He told me that the son of a gun has left the CP about three weeks ago [ie. Richard Gunn, who had written an article on Dialectics in the journal “Marxism Today”, which Greaves wrote a reply to; see earlier volume]. He also said that Alan and Freda are not enjoying their visit to Canada because of the tantrums of David’s wife [David was Alan and Freda Morton’s other son].
June 14 Thursday: I went to Glasgow with Fergal O’Doherty. He told me that he comes from a Republican family – a large one, of which I gather he is the youngest – and that one of his elder brothers did 8 years. He told me that Mary Travers married Sean Garland [ie. the “Official” IRA/SFWP leader]. He is something of a “hardliner” and wears a Lenin badge. I had a talk with some of the committee in the morning and stressed the need for education. The Belfast policy has bitten deep. But they are contemplating a week-end school and I stressed the need to bring people from Dublin. Later I went to the bookshop and O’Doherty bought two novels by Ostrovsky. He wanted me to go and have tea at his mother’s, but I made an excuse. She will want to see her “baby”. Instead I prepared a new lecture on the evils of sectarianism. This I delivered at 7.30. There were at least 80 people there and the questions went on long. Of course all the “Better Life For All” nonsense was in the air, and the Bill of Rights for a place without a written constitution. One fool raised the subject of birth control, and a “women’s’ lib” advocate took me to task for suggesting that national independence might take precedence even over that. She wasted so much time that I did not get an opportunity to talk with the Clann na hEireanns, who wanted to pour contumely on the “Provisionals.” And an Englishman, whom I afterwards discovered was a lecturer in “politics” at Strathclyde, told me at the end that he was very interested but disagreed with what I had said. It was intended to provoke disagreement from patronising chauvinists like himself, who would have been more entitled to form conclusions if he had spent a minute for every year I have spent studying the subject. But there was so much interest provoked that the Scottish Committee were very well pleased, though a trifle dismayed at times at the independent policy I outlined.
The Clann na hEireanns did not open their mouths. We went back to Edinburgh on the last train and John Morton was at the station. Fergal O’Doherty hopes to come to the conference.
June 15 Friday (Liverpool): I travelled to Liverpool again.
June 16 Saturday: I did little but make preparations for going to Ireland.
June 17 Sunday: I caught the morning train, was badly delayed at Chester, but caught the boat and found Tony Coughlan waiting at Amiens St. We went up to Cathal’s and who should be there but Micheál O Loingsigh, Paddy Bond and Stella. they are going to see Elsie O’Dowling at her cottage in Galway. The postal strike is ruining Micheál O Loingsigh [who ran a printing business] and indeed it has ruined the launching of my book.
June 18 Monday: I had lunch with Daltún O Ceallaigh. He says that Clancy has been hesitating about Lawrence and Wishart as a publisher though it is not strong [Clancy was Daltún O Ceallaigh’s immediate superior in the ITGWU Research Department]. Dardis Clarke resigned and SFWP man Des Hegarty has replaced him.
June 19 Tuesday: We discussed the question of typing the draft. Daltún has made a list of agencies.
June 20 Wednesday: We had lunch with Michael Mullen and discussed the book. He is very concerned at possible attacks on Larkin. Of course the whole thing is aimed at getting amalgamation with the Workers Union of Ireland [which had been established by James Larkin following his break with the ITGWU in 1923. The two unions eventually merged in to form SIPTU in 1990]. He wants a second volume, and we also persuaded him to adopt the policy of handing the archives to the National Library. As we were dining who should come in but Sean Garland and Sean Cronin. Mullen is still in touch with them.
In the afternoon I read passages from the book to Daltún O Ceallaigh, John Carroll and Michael Mullen. They seemed highly pleased. But one of the best typists made such a mess of the synopsis that I doubt if an agency could do the book. Tony Coughlan is in Cork.
June 21 Thursday: I was in Liberty Hall where some minutes of 1920-21 have turned up. Daltún O Ceallaigh came in. Pat Powell had telephoned him. The two Galway city organisers are SFWP, and Pat has constant trouble with their intrigues. There is also much SFWP sniping at Daltún whom (an atheist) they describe as a “typical bigoted Belfast Catholic”. Tony Coughlan came back and Daltún and his wife came out to 111 Meadow Grove [where Greaves was staying at Anthony Coughlan’s house in Dundrum]. She is quite an intelligent girl.
June 22 Friday (Liverpool): I came back to Liverpool. Eddie Cowman rang. He has got 60 delegates to the conference and some visitors. It is a pity he is going.
June 23 Saturday: I went to London and found there were now 80 delegates and many visitors. I was out in Paddington with Eddie.
June 24 Thursday: The conference was a powerful success – 133 people present. Jock Stallard came with me to lunch at Flann Campbell’s. Stallard was very dispirited over the election result but was quite surprised at the size of the conference and the air of enthusiasm that prevailed – that is, with the exception of a Six Counties Protestant from the Executive of TASS. It is typical that they should send an Irishman and one from the North at that. Tony Coughlan was in good form and as for myself I let them have it. Clann na hEireann opposed political prisoner status for the Long Kesh prisoners. But there was very little nonsense. Eamon McLaughlin took the chair in the morning and Frank Dobson, MP for South St Pancras, was there. Myant came in the afternoon only. He was CP delegate. He did not speak. I would not trust him out of my sight. I can see it in his eyes.
June 25 Monday: There was no report in the “Morning Star”. Eddie tells me that they did not print a single one of our statements. It shows we have a following in our own right. I returned to work on the paper.
June 26 Tuesday: We had thought there might possibly be a report on the “Morning Star” today. But no. It is total boycott. Possibly the CP are annoyed because we did not invite them to sponsor it. Or they may be afraid to annoy unions with members in the Six Counties.
June 27 Wednesday (Liverpool): I finished the paper and returned to Liverpool.
June 28 Thursday: I did some work in the garden and a little clearing up.
June 29 Friday (London): I returned to London and went into Lawrence and Wishart to see Skelly. I told him about the difficulties regarding getting the union history for L&W. Tony Coughlan had called in to collect some books. Skelly was tremendously impressed by him, and I did a little discreet boosting myself, telling him of his appearances on TV. Skelly is also impressed with Eddie Cowman. He gets more of a mystery than ever. His enthusiasm is unbounded. He is now more capable than Sean Redmond, and that is something. He proposed a plan for reorganising the offices to increase our income. Yet at this time he insists on leaving. But he is not going home immediately. I think he feels he can make money – he has the brains and the only weakness is a form of dyslexia. Incidentally I never believed dyslexia existed until I found he did not recognise “sorry” when a typist had written “sprry”. There is a special imagination required in linking up letters. I think computers are dyslexic.
June 30 Saturday: In the morning I went to “Liberation’s” conference. Stan Newens greeted me at the door. Among those present were Chris Sullivan, Eddie Cowman, Noel Gordon, his girlfriend Helen, Kay Beauchamp, Tony Gilbert, Joan Hyman and about 50 delegates. There was a stormy debate on Iraq. Idris Cox, now nearly 80, disagreed with my belief that a weak resolution should be remitted. I thought there was something in it of the British desire to act as the conscience of the world. In the afternoon the Connolly Association resolution was carried with one dissentient after the one-man Standing Orders Committee had tried by compositing it with a badly drafted resolution from South London which we wanted withdrawn, to remould it nearer to the desires of the Executive. We stood our ground. Tony Benn was there and gave a good talk on modern imperialism. He is a good speaker, though a trifle too polished. I asked Idris Cox if he thought we now had the Messiah. He thought not and gave voice to the heretical (by present standards) opinion that if we ever had a leader he would have to come from the working class.
In the evening I went, as an invited guest, to the Greater London Trades Councils’ reception. I spoke to Benn. Again I had the same impression: “too polished”. But Gordon McLennan who was talking to him commented to me, “That fellow’s coming on.” I then tackled McLennan himself. “What you ought to do,” said I, “is to put the whole CP on to three or four single immediate issues and put a moratorium on theorising.” “Dear me!” he exclaimed, “that would be very difficult.” He took himself off with remarkable celerity. “It is easier said than done?” “It is” – as he beat a swift retreat.
Some of the Irish boys were there, Maher for example. He was inveighing against the academics. Peter Walsh, a Connemara man, learning that the Eddie Cowman was going home and fearing he might be starting up as a businessman disclosed bitterly that money, “bloody money”, was the root of all evil. He was near enough to a natural economy to understand it. Tom Durkin was very affable, also against the academics, and even George Anthony who had described the “British Road to Socialism” as a “lively document”. Among others present were Chris Sullivan, Tadhg Egan and Bill Parker. One man asked what had happened to Charlie Cunningham. Several of those who had been at Liberation’s conference remarked how well Eddie Cowman spoke. “That boy has brains!” said Peter Walsh. A Croydon Councillor asked me about starting a branch in that part of Surrey.
It was George Smith who had organised the whole thing and invited me. Benn made a speech which again seemed to have the effect of rallying the rank and file. He is responding to the general dissatisfaction with Callaghan’s disastrous leadership. He may save the Labour Party. On the other hand he may prevent its moving too far to the left, that is to say to keep the rebels in a manageable state.
July 1 Sunday: We held the Standing Committee in the morning. Neither Pat O’Donohue nor Paddy Bond, nor indeed Gerry Curran nor Toni were there. Those present included myself, Eddie Cowman, Jane Tate, Noel Gordon and his girlfriend, whose name I have not yet got. Noel agreed to take over from Eddie in September. But Eddie goes on talking as if he will still be here and even talked about Annual Conference in November. He can probably not make up his mind.
Paddy Bond telephoned. He returned from Ireland. He had been to see Justin Keating but he has no imagination. He said that Keating was “very sorry about all the ill-feeling between you and him.” I told him I had no ill-feeling whatsoever. “But you said he was actuated by ambition.” “And so he is,” I replied. Even if it were untrue it would not be libel. But I express that opinion just as I would say that an animal was obviously a horse, without the slightest felling towards the creature, positive or negative. Of course it is Tony Coughlan’s fault. To my amazement when I got to Dublin I learned that he had sent him the cutting from the “Democrat”, something he had no right to do, as it was likely to make mischief. Justin Keating would think I was anxious that he should see it, whereas I was completely indifferent.
I had a meal with Jane Tate in the evening. We were discussing the “Communist University”, whose session on Ireland is to be staffed by Chris Myant and Irene Brennan, one of the SFWP and another of the CPI, an Englishman from the North. Eddie Cowman found this out, also that no CPI material, nothing written by myself, or indeed by any Marxist at all, is referred to in the list of materials to be studied. Jane told me that there is a rift between Costello, a “Eurocommunist”, and Cook, the former student organiser. Jane says that according to Eddie Cowman the latter is a “raging homosexual”. Certainly of all pieces of nonsense, I saw on the “Morning Star” an advertisement for a meeting of the “Gay YCL branch”. This misuse of one of the most useful short words in the English language is typical of present “trendiness”. It is obvious of course that all species have mechanisms of fertility and mechanics of sterility. The vicissitudes of life are such that when sterility is needed the need comes for too suddenly to make possible the switching off of the apparatus of fertility. Various diversions, or as they are called, perversions, make sterile what would in normal use be fertile. It is a feature of modern society that high fertility is not required. It is avoided in various ways. I do not accept the theory of biological separateness. If there were a gene for homosexuality, it could not survive. But a gene, or genes, for switching on homosexuality under conditions of biological (or social) stress would serve a useful purpose and could survive. But many more people would have it than those in whom it operated.
July 2 Monday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley where the paper was produced smoothly enough.
July 3 Tuesday: I went into the city looking for a good sportscoat and flannels. I could not find anything presentable. This just shows the appalling decline of Liverpool as a shopping centre. There is nothing but the gaudy rubbish of the international monopolies.
July 4 Wednesday: The weather has taken up. It was dry and quite warm, though there is none of the intense heat of 1976 – it would be about 70’F. I got some work done in the garden, which remains in many parts a regular wilderness.
July 5 Thursday: Another fine day. I got quite a deal done in the garden, though my crops are not anything like so numerous this year. Tony Coughlan telephoned in the morning. We decided to postpone our trip to Wales until September.
July 6 Friday: Another fine day and quite warm. In the afternoon I cycled to Thornton Hough and through Raby to the top of Chester Road within a mile of Neston.
July 7 Saturday: I did some preparatory work for Vol II of the ITGWU history, and a little gardening. Eddie Cowman said my book had been reviewed in the “Irish Press”[ie. his book “Sean O’Casey: Politics and Art”].
July 8 Sunday: Today was not so fine, but it could scarcely squeeze out a drop of rain, though in anticipation of it I transplanted some tomatoes. I cannot get seeds to germinate. First it was cold and wet, then cold and dry, and now warm and dry. I spoke to Daltún O Ceallaigh on the phone. He thinks he has got a typist.
July 9 Monday: I did quite a bit in the garden. The man from next door but two, Douglas Liddell, has replaced my outside backdoor which was destroyed in a gale. He is a shipwright and is on strike. He says that Lairds are bad employers and the union is worse than useless [ie. Cammell Laird’s shipyard, Birkenhead]. He is conscious of the de-industrialisation of this country. But nobody has had the courage to trace it to its cause, not even the CP. There is still a greater foreign investment per head of population in Britain than in any other country, and the parasitism increases all the while. The weather was fine again.
July 10 Tuesday: Liddell finished the door and made a very good job of it. He is far superior to Ashford. Eddie Cowman phoned. He told me that the “Communist University” recommended reading includes the SFWP thing on industry [ie. the “Irish Industrial Revolution” document written in Dublin by Eoghan Harris for Sinn Fein the Workers Party]. They are deliberately disseminating this nonsense. He also said that Philip Rendle had asked Myant why he suppressed the reporting of the CA conference. First he talked about the paper having gone to press. Then he said that he had to be careful how much he reported anything that was not “party policy”. So are we to conclude that the SFWP rubbish is party policy? He also said something about calling a meeting of all people concerned with the Irish question. This was decided last November twelve months. It will be hard to do it before November. But there are some ugly symptoms. I expect an indecisive conference and further losses of membership. For they are all so bumptious and brainless.
July 11 Wednesday (Dublin): I caught the usual train at Rock Ferry and sailed from Caergybi to Dun Laoire. Tony Coughlan met me at Amiens Street.
July 12 Thursday: I had lunch with Daltún O Ceallaigh. He thinks that he has lined up the typist which McInerney had suggested when I rang him up during my last trip. He also told me that Michael Mullen is very perturbed about Larkin’s birth, and wonders if anything should be said about it. He has of course heard about McIntyre’s attempt to represent him as the son of Carey[ie. the informer involved in the Invincibles’ assassinations]. I thought this over and decided that Paris was worth a Mass. I can’t insist on this being regarded as Holy Writ and having had so much nonsense from Nicholas Jacobs, for no reason, I do not feel like jibbing at Michael Mullen’s when it is accompanied by reason. He does not want to offend the Workers Union of Ireland.
July 13 Friday: Just before I left Liverpool – indeed no more than half an hour – the postman delivered a manuscript by George Thomson [Professor of Greek at Birmingham and Irish scholar]which he had sent Lawrence and Wishart. It was a social and literary history of the Blaskets. I have now read it and think it good. That man Thomson is quite a clever devil, though I had not much to do with him and thought him a trifle conceited. This evening Tony Coughlan had an East German Professor of Celtology. He had met him at Halle and invited him to call if in Ireland. I do not recall his name [He was Professor Martin Rockel from Humboldt University, East Berlin]. Muriel Saidlear came up too, so that affair still proceeds. But more important Maolachlann O Caollai came. He thought there would be a good sale for the Thomson manuscript but did not think a grant would be the thing.
July 14 Saturday: Tony Coughlan has gone off for a week’s holiday in West Cork with his sister, so I am on my own. I went to New Books. They were holding a seminar with Eoin O Murchú as tutor. He told me that his wife is looking for a job as a lecturer in philosophy and will go to England if necessary. Lawrence and Wishart have all but decided to publish her thesis in two volumes. I hope it is not too dry. We went for a drink. Tom Redmond was there. I was struck by the fact that he remains a lightweight. He told me that the British CP had assured them that Irene Brennan had now nothing whatever to do with shaping policy on Ireland. But they had appointed nobody else. I told him that I was very pleased at this. The less they do the better. But when I cast some doubt on Myant’s understanding. Tom assured me that that gentleman was quite different – that is to say, bad in a different way, and more dangerous.
Later Michael O Riordan came in. He told me how Gormley became the fourth lecturer at the “Communist University”. When it was first proposed it was Irene Brennan, Chris Myant and two SFWPs. The CPI protested and got Gormley instead of one of them. They believe that Gormley, a Liverpool Irishman, is good on the Irish question and there is talk of his replacing Jimmy Stewart, who is said to be of little use, and I don’t wonder.
Michael O’ Riordan was telling me about the Ryan thing [ie. returning the body of Frank Ryan, Spanish civil war campaigner, from his burial place in East Germany to Ireland]. Apparently he brought the remains back. There was a catastrophe at the airport. The “Provisionals” wanted to take charge. “They said ‘We’re the Republican movement.’ I said nothing as I didn’t want to admit what is a fact, they are the Republican Movement.” Then there was trouble with Fitzpatrick of the National Graves. O’Riordan got six ex-IRB men to take the coffin the first dozen yards. Fitzpatrick ran up. “Ye’re breaking the agreement.” But the principle had been asserted and Fitzpatrick was then allowed to proceed. Michael said relations with SFWP were worse than ever. He told me about the time when the CPGB gave Tom Gill a tour. Following protests they asked Michael O’Riordan to do a tour. He was inclined to say “shag ‘em” and refuse. But he did it. But he is thinking of calling off the polemics as the “United Irishman” had descended to such depths.
July 15 Sunday: Cathal and Helga invited me to lunch. Cathal then cycled to Fergal Costello’s and I accompanied him to Dartry. Later he came in to 111 Meadow Grove for a drink.
I see there are moves to boost psychiatry and similar nonsense in Dublin and the pioneer work of Jonathan Hanaghan is being given favourable mention [ie. Jonathan Hanaghan, a British citizen who settled in Dublin and founded the Irish Psychoanalytical Association in 1942]. I met Hanaghan once, about 1935 I imagine. It was after the burning of Connolly House. I was very friendly with Ivor Mercer at the time. His father had been prominent in Labour circles in Belfast, and indeed attended a meeting of the ITUC. I am not sure where they originated, possibly Yorkshire. What happened was that he was at first the politician, then he was unable to address a meeting for some reason, and his wife took his place. I think she was Liverpool. She was nothing but an emotional socialist. I think they were both ILP for they “remembered Ramsay MacDonald when the shoes were falling off his feet.” She was, anyway, such a success that Wilkie, as he was called, got no more invitations. It was always herself and she became Mayor of Birkenhead. They were in some way connected by marriage with Harley Greaves’s mother, no blood relation [For early references to the Mercers, see Vol.2].
Possibly it was in Belfast they met Hanaghan. According to the papers he was born in Scotland. But he might have been in Belfast. Certainly the connection with him was Irish in some way and they obviously thought him important, or to be more precise Mrs Mercer seemed to, while Wilkie contemptuously dismissed him as a talker. I remember going to the house in Clarence Road, and finding him in session. He was a big man with a striking personality and up to every trick.
He spoke of running a theatre in Devonshire. He turned to me and said, “I don’t know if you ever ran a theatre” (and I 21 years of age). When I got somewhat irritated at something he was saying he said, “Ah” Don’t let you get excited, you will spoil your fine mind.” It did the trick. But I often thought that if he was right there would be precious little left of that “fine mind” today, after years of listening to claptrap and being irritated by it. He talked about the attack on Connolly House [in Dublin in January 1933] and described the hoodlums, moving forward relentlessly, shoulders bent, with a “keep together, keep together”. He spoke of his brushes with authority and seemed to overcome every official by threatening him with “My friend the Home Secretary.” I remember deciding to get what fun I could out of the situation. I think my parents were away. It was certainly summer and he kept us up till the light came – Mrs Mercer, who suffered from arthritis, coming in at intervals because she repeatedly gave up the attempt to sleep. I decided at one point to ask, “Who killed Kevin O Higgins?” He looked at me very intently. He had the habit I have seen in others – not much recently – of making an impressive point by shaking his head and rolling his eyes. He said, “I wouldn’t be sure of that, but it’s said that Pat Mulcahy (at this point the headshake and the eye-roll) was responsible for that work.” I remember noticing the Pat Mulcahy and wondered if I had misheard. For I presume he meant Richard, or Dick. I remember the old woman, perhaps it was Mrs Mercer’s cousin. The discussion drifted to the subject of survival after death and they all (I don’t think Phyllis Mercer or Ivor expressed an opinion) swore there was such a thing.
“Do you think there is?” the old woman asked me.
“I do not,” I replied.
“That’s what I think,” she said, “I think when you’re dead you’re dead.”
Now Hanaghan told us he was the principal psychoanalyst in Dublin and when Lancaster and I were cycling in Ireland and passing through Dublin [ie. in 1939, see Vol.5] we thought of calling on him, but thought it might be embarrassing if he had an impressive surgery in Fitzwilliam Square to confront his receptionist in short pants. Recently I saw in Easons a booklet containing his sayings. It seems it is not long since he died.
July 16 Monday: I met Michael Mullen outside Liberty Hall and strolled along with him. I had just met May Hayes who is treasurer to a Seamus Costello memorial committee. She looks better than she did in London. “Quite a good fellow, Costello,” said Mullen. I had a few words with him about Larkin. For I had discovered that Delia married Colgan under the name of Bridget, and that is the name in the census. I may therefore be able to find her birth entry and crack the Larkin nut.
July 17 Tuesday: I met Sean Redmond in Liberty Hall and arranged to have lunch. I also met Miss Bouchelle, a rather good-looking and undoubtedly intelligent young lady, and gave her the manuscript. I am working on Volume II.
July 18 Wednesday: I had lunch with Sean Redmond at the Stag’s Head. He has Tom living with him. I remarked that that if Tom Redmond took over the CPI from Michael O’Riordan, as it is rumoured he will, he would probably fuck it up within a year. Sean thought he could do a quicker job than that. “He lacks shrewdness,” said I. “But what is worse,” said Sean, “He likes to please people. I know from my job that it’s no use buttering up the members. If a man’s got a bad claim, tell him so.” He told me of his visit to the USSR. It is very impressive. There is construction everywhere. The standard of living is constantly rising. There is no unemployment and in places a shortage of labour. He was in Lithuania and asked whether they got their share of industrialisation. They said they did. He got friendly with a radio producer who had been in the CPSU a short time. He asked him if he thought the Russians had been wise to go into Czechoslovakia. The man replied, ” Well it is a complicated subject, but I think it was a mistake.” So they can’t be quite so cowed and scared to express an opinion. For he was not to know that an Irishman regards the informer as the lowest form of life. He thought the gallivanting of the CPI “ridiculous“[ie. their frequent visits to East European communist countries]. “O’Riordan’s never in the country,” he declared. As for Tom Redmond, he smokes too much, but Susan Redmond at least makes certain that he gets his meals, which he himself would not bother about. He told me that Noel Harris is still living in a dream world. He is never in the same continent two nights running. He dismissed Sean Redmond’s suggestion that he apply for the position of organiser in one of the educational unions. But he hopes to return to Ireland at a higher level. “At the level of general secretary of the ITGWU?” Sean asks.
July 19 Thursday: I went to see Peadar O’Donnell this morning. He looks very old now. He is 86, but his speech has recovered and his mind is as clear as ever. We ranged over a wide field. He told me that when in 1919 there was a rumour that Larkin was returning Bill O’Brien called a meeting of organisers and told them of the irregular way Larkin used to run the Union. He and Rooney and the younger man derived from this a picture of Larkin fighting the employer with every means at his disposal, but not a penny of the money he spent irregularly went into his own pocket. He said he was amazed at the change in O’Brien. They all thought he was as indomitable as Lenin and would lead the Irish revolution. Cathal O’Shannon came nearest to understanding Connolly. But he could not stand up to O’Brien and he probably took to drink from frustration. Rooney was a fine character but seemingly went Free State and was very embarrassed when coming into Tintown in an officer’s uniform, he saw Peadar a prisoner. I met Rooney myself in the late fifties. He had become a doctrinaire socialist. He said, “It was Connolly who introduced the nationalist deviation into Irish Socialism.”
Peadar O’Donnell thinks the men with the best brains after Connolly were Sean Murray and George Gilmore, but Gilmore is too self-effacing. Others would of course add Peadar himself. He spoke of the CPGB and their tendency to produce theological theses. He was once invited over. “I’ll come,” he said, “if it’s only to translate your statements into English.” He asked me why they took up the attitude they did on the Irish question. “Chauvinism,” I replied. “They don’t recognise it as such, but that’s what it is.” He agreed. He told me of being at an international meeting at which Pollitt denounced imperialism in every country in the world but Ireland. After it was over he saw Peadar and George Gilmore. “How are you,” he said. “D’you know I would have mentioned Ireland if I’d known you were here.” “Ireland has suffered terribly from the backwardness of the British workers,” Peadar remarked. “Only Saklatvala opposed the treaty [ie. Shapurji Saklatvala, 1874-1936, Labour and Communist MP]. Nothing was done to save Connolly.”
I asked for his explanation of the descendants of the United Irishmen becoming Orangemen. He thought that after 1800 the Orange oath was altered and Presbyterians were accepted into it. They were helped into it by the sectarianism of Daniel O’Connell. I mentioned Carnduff. He said he knew him well. He showed him the minute book of an Orange Lodge. When the band went out they were all paid. Even the men who held the strings of the banners were paid.
He thought the failure of Labour in 1918 to insist on its quota of candidates was to throw away what Connolly won for them. The reason was that members of the British Trade Unions, for example Cassidy of the Typographical Association, feared to lose members in the north. At that time, in 1919, it was usual to conclude meetings in Donegal not with the Soldiers’ Song but with the Watchword of Labour.
Of the SFWP he said they should have joined the CPI. I told them that some of them did.
He told me of an interesting experience he had in Prague. Some refugees in England asked if he would find out if some relatives in Czechoslovakia were well. He said, “I’ll do more than that. I’ll take them a letter.” When the letter arrived, to make sure it was not encoded, he re-drafted it and got them to write it out again. When he got to Prague he spent a few days finding out how to go straight to this place without asking the way. He was received with surprise, but they became friendly and invited him to visit them several times. On the last occasion they let their hair down. The denunciations of the Government were hot and strong. The old man who obviously held the authority talked about overthrowing “those bastards”. But, he said, and banged the table with a resounding thump, “not a word about capitalism. The word is democracy!”
Peadar then acutely embarrassed them by telling them who he was. They were very worried. As he took his leave he said, “Don’t alarm yourselves. This will go no further than me.”
The young fellow – possibly a great grandson, about fourteen, took me to the bus stop. Of Peadar he said, “He knows everything. Whatever you ask him he tells you.”
In the evening I went to see Maire Comerford. Her book is finished and is with two publishers. As Peadar O’Donnell said, she will put in all the facts, but there will be no philosophy. She jumps about in conversation. But she was delighted to see me and I was very glad I went. She said that Countess Markiewicz’s daughter burned a lot of her papers. I told her of how the same woman had sold the furniture to Steve Farrelly to buy whiskey. She agreed they used to sing the Red Flag but did not know it was written by an Irishman. She told me that after the civil war Gerry Boland was making soap, others were door-to-door bacon salesmen for O’Mara, who though Free State would still employ them. They started Fianna Fail and got out of that. But they were determined never to go back to a life of hard work and poverty again.
July 20 Friday: I spent some of the day in the National Library, but most of it getting ready for return. I saw Cathal and Helga in the evening.
July 21 Saturday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool – a very unsatisfactory journey. I found awaiting me a letter from Betty Sinclair. Apparently the TASS delegate gave a very bad account of my speech on June 24th. She was glad to see the “Irish Democrat” to correct the “garbled” account. She said she had been convinced for some time that there will be no civil rights in the Six Counties until there is a general settlement. That is obvious. And I also think that one of the greatest evils in Ireland is the presence of British trade unions.
July 22 Sunday: I got a little gardening done.
July 23 Monday: I got some more gardening done. I have only half the garden cultivated this year but cut a good cauliflower this afternoon.
July 24 Tuesday: I went to London and found Eddie Cowman in the office, in splendid form, possibly from relief at the prospect of a new life. Yet contrary to what would usually happen, he has shown the most tremendous burst of energy, has moved the bookshop into the back room, doubling its size, got Helen MacMurray, Noel Gordon’s friend, to take charge of it, and cleaned the place from top to bottom. He is really a most interesting and curious young man, and but for this wretched dyslexia he would be quite remarkable and make his mark.
In the evening Gerry Curran came in. He told me he had separated from Toni and got a room on Ealing. He will visit them once a week. He says she will not “compromise”. Of course it is six of one and have a dozen of the other. But whereas his weakness is slovenliness, hers is bitchiness.
July 25 Wednesday: I spoke to Central London branch on Lindsay Crawford [Irish Protestant politician and journalist, 1868-1945, who founded the Independent Orange Order in 1903, sympathised with James Larkin’s trade unionism and later shifted his loyalties to the Irish Free State]. Eddie Cowman’s worst failure has been this branch. He let it collapse when he experimented with irregular meetings. He was there, also Jane Tate, Mabel O’Donovan, Philip Rendle, a very poor attendance.
July 26 Thursday: I finished the paper and in the evening addressed the South London branch. There were about eleven there, Pat Bond, Noel Gordon, Helen McMurray and a few others including a YCL. Seemingly these are supporting the “British Withdrawal” demonstration on August 12. Eddie Cowman attended their committee and they decided not to have a speaker from any sponsoring organisation. This YCL sported a large badge showing Lenin. “Be careful,” I quizzed him, “you’ll be arrested as a hard-liner.” It seems just possible that the one ray of hope may be that there will be a reaction from the youngest of the young people.
July 27 Friday: I learned from Eddie Cowman that he is giving up his work with the Connolly Association at the end of next week, going to Bulgaria for a week and then staying in England, apart from an exploratory trip home, till about Christmas. He told me he feels uncertain of the character of the boom in Ireland. His enthusiasm and energy are unabated. He is going to be a sad loss, at a time when we are less able to sustain it than when Sean Redmond went.
July 28 Saturday: Jim McDonald came in to post letters to his union members explaining why he was resigning. He was “going abroad” (not “back to Ireland.”) He will not be joining the CPI. First he will go to Sligo, then to his native Kilkenny. He does not like Dublin. One can comment with Michael Crowe, who said of Lenny Draper, “another casualty of the Communist Party”. He is completely disillusioned. Despite the loss of 5,000 members since the “greatest piece of Marxist thought of the 20th century” was adopted [ie.“The British Road to Socialism”] he expects no revolt at November’s conference. He thinks there might be at the one after this. But he anticipates immediately a further swing to the right. He blames Sid French for taking the strongest “hard-liners” out. But the New Communist Party has now begun to exhibit signs of sectish megalomania. They attacked the Connolly Association in their paper and spoke of all the wonderful things they were going to do for Ireland. Jim McDonald says the only person in the leadership who enjoys the slightest respect is Ramelson [CPGB National Organiser]. He regards the London District Committee with contempt, the best being Bill Dunne, whom he thinks however little more than a talker. He told me some extraordinary things.
It was apparently only some time after she got herself appointed the Irish manager that Irene Brennan came to see me. In the meantime she had set up her London Committee. Apart from Tom Durkin and herself all present were members of Clann na hEireann. Durkin was moaning about my approach to the Political Committee. I should have gone to the Irene Brennan committee. But I did not know of its existence – nor did Cohen, on the Political Committee, enlighten me. The plot proves to be of such dimensions that I am inclined to agree that things will be worse before they are better. I hope that no individual is made a scapegoat as happened in the Browder affair [Earl Browder, leader of the American CP, was expelled from that party following World War 2 for proposing its liquidation and merger with broader leftwing forces]. Jim McDonald told me that at an industrial meeting a few nights ago he was introduced to a number of post workers, members of the CP, who were also members of Clann na hEireann. They were carn saison [ie. Welsh for “true English”], with no knowledge of nor the slightest connexion with Ireland. Why had they been sent into Clann na hEireann and when? To which Jim McDonald supplies the answer: a few years back at the time of the founding of the London Committee. Why? He cannot say. Perhaps to strengthen Clann na hEireann? Perhaps to control it? The whole thing stinks. Jim McDonald and I were out in Hammersmith with Gerry Curran.
July 29 Sunday: We had the Standing Committee without Steve Huggett, Toni Curran or even Gerry Curran who had promised to attend. he told me last night that he had not moved. Perhaps he will think better of it. The danger is that he will go to pieces completely. He must be about 55 years of age and lacks resilience. Those present were Eddie Cowman, Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Noel Gordon, Helen McMurray and Jim McDonald. Pat Bond told me that Starrs had tackled Gordon McLennan about not sponsoring the demonstration. His reply (that he could not accept the British troops would be in the Six Counties ten years hence) showed he had misread the invitation which spoke of their being sent in ten years ago. We had a little celebratory or rather valedictory lunch owing to Jim McDonald’s impending departure. He has given a motor car to the Connolly Association. I hope it is not more trouble than it is worth!
July 30 Monday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley and got through earlier than was ever managed before and caught the 4.35 train back to Crewe.
July 31 Tuesday: I did some shopping and then started work on the garden. Late at night Betty Sinclair rang. She had showed a letter I sent her to Madge Davison who is seemingly much in agreement with our general outlook. I had told her that I was going to start my “age of indiscretion” now, to give the indiscretions a bit longer to sink in. She said she would do the same!
August 1 Wednesday: The weather though cool was dry enough for operations in the garden, and I started what I hope will be a grand clear- up, on the North garden first.
August 2 Thursday: I continued and finished the North garden, which is a vastly improved place.
August 3 Friday: I started on the West garden, which will be a much bigger job, with its three compost heaps and “lime pit”. I spoke to Eddie Cowman on the phone. The Flann Campbell pamphlet social evening at the Mother Redcap in Camden Town was a great success. Fenner Brockway was there and told of his experiences in Lincoln Jail with De Valera. He said he had to thank the Irish prisoners for preserving his sanity when he was in solitary confinement. He shook hands with everybody before he left and made a great impression. Steve Huggett somewhat euphorically implied that only the CA could organise anything. Eddie Cowman will warn him not to get over-confident. At the same time this is bound to raise the prestige of the CA in Camden Town. Flann Campbell spoke well too. There were four members of Clann na hEireann. They remained in the bar all evening. Eddie wondered why they had come. I told him about Brian Behan who was on the E.C. of the CP and used to bring a troop of his admirers to our functions and sit in the bar all night. They were trying to contact individuals they could use for disruption. And who should be there praising the CA to the skies but Callanan, who boasted of having joined it with the object of creating a split (though I also doubted this) and made a fool of himself planning military campaigns in Kilburn.
August 4 Saturday: I worked on the West garden, incidentally coming across a magnificent tiger moth which seemed to have just hatched out. I have not seen one for forty years. I thought the insecticide people had exterminated them. Tony Coughlan told me he is coming on Tuesday.
August 5 Sunday: Despite an adverse weather forecast, today was the finest day for some time and I think I may have the back of the west garden broken tomorrow. Today Eddie Cowman left for a holiday in Bulgaria. I am very sorry to lose him. The things he organises are invariably a success and I know Noel Gordon will not have the drive – or rather I fear it, certainly not the lively enquiring mind, constantly thinking of things to do.
Betty Sinclair rang up. Apparently Sean MacBride and Michael Mullan have joined together in boosting the “Irish Caucus” [ie. in the USA]. She is very upset and wants to write to Mullen about it. I advised her not to do so. I reminded her that I had told her to expect “top level” developments on the American front, if only so that Carter can prevent the Irish vote swinging to Kennedy [ie. in the US election]. There have been a number of straws in the wind. She says the Irish Caucus” is run by the State Department and that Tip O’Neill is “anti-working class”. Quite a few of the workers of Belfast are anti-working class. I think she is lonely, anxious for a function, somewhat frozen out by useless Jimmy Stewart, and drinks too much.
August 6 Monday: Despite the forecasts another fine day. I may not have succeeded in “breaking the back” of the gardening work (whatever about my own) but I got on well. On the radio came the news that England and the Republic are being invited to discuss Northern Ireland in America. I certainly did not foresee this, though I expected something. It will make these fools in London look bigger fools than ever to everybody but themselves. The central political issue refuse to lie down.
August 7 Tuesday: I did a little more in the garden. At about 7.30 pm. Tony Coughlan arrived, on his way to London. He said Daltún O Ceallaigh was furious at Mullen who had not consulted him about the “Caucus”. Apparently he does so usually. The British Government are now swearing that they will not go to Canossa even if they go to New York. Tony brought two very favourable reviews of O’Casey, the surprising one coming from Ulick O’Connor[Irish writer and broadcaster]. He was the young student responsible for breaking up the Dean of Canterbury’s meeting in the Mansion House. According to Tony he is a homosexual and notorious for his bad temper and tendency to insult waiters in restaurants. I once saw him on RTE. It must be the one time I watched the nonsense in ten years, and he struck me as a showman. But there it is. He has written a light but effective review. A more weighty one by Mac Anna shows less insight. I wonder what “got” O’Connor?
August 8 Wednesday: Tony Coughlan went off to London in the morning. I did not do very much in the day. I need a proper holiday. Also, apart from the second volume of the ITGWU history I am turning over in my mind the writing of a work on the subject of Irish Protestantism. Then there is the story of political labour in Ireland, and the analysis of the Irish question in English literature. I will be 66 next month. I wonder if I could finish the Irish corpus by the time I am 70, would I get a few years for the general questions?
August 9 Thursday: The weather was cold and stormy but there had been heavy rain in the night. It is not often I had to put on an electric fire in August, but it happened this time.
August 10 Friday: The weather was much milder today and in view of the rain forecast I transplanted brassicas. I am still stymied by the Larkin puzzle. It has proved so far impossible to find his birth registration. The date in Emmet Larkin’s book is wrong. “Delia” is entered in the 1911 census as Bridget and married under that name. I have just got from London the certificate relating to the only Delia in the index and it is the wrong child in the right district, or at least the district Larkin married in. But I noticed in the index a James and a Bridget from West Derby. I must get the certificates also for the death of James’s father, James.
August 11 Saturday: I started to take down the corner compost heap but I suspect it contains a wasps’ nest, so I have to think how I will manage it.
August 12 Sunday: Both Tony Coughlan and Daltún O Ceallaigh rang in the morning. I arranged to see Tony at Chester tomorrow. Daltún says the typist is half-way through the manuscript but expects to be several weeks.
August 13 Monday: I met Tony Coughlan at Chester and we travelled together to Dublin. He told me that the Connolly Association had about 200 marching in the demonstration yesterday. Clann na hEireann did not participate. The CP made a statement that though it was not sponsoring it, it advised participation by members. This looks like a papered-over division. The London District Committee and the YCL walked and Tony saw Irene Brennan with Pegeen O’Flaherty, but was not talking to her. Eddie Cowman was back from Bulgaria, in good spirits but very tired. He had his camera stolen and could not contact the police as there was nobody on duty at the barracks. So much for the “police state”!
August 14 Tuesday: Mrs Bouchelle has done half the MS and Daltún O Ceallaigh brought it me. I bought “Hibernia” and saw that Robert Lowery of the Sean O’Casey Society has launched an attack on me, and a rather unmannerly one at that. I went down to see Roy Johnston who wrote the review and he agreed to reply. He had gone into Hibernia and asked for the copy Tony Coughlan took them, saying quite shamelessly that he thought that a good way of getting a free copy. I saw Alf MacLoughlin and he thanked me for getting him the ITGWU archives. O’Luanaigh had had a letter from Michael Mullen.
August 15 Wednesday: I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and George Gilmore. Peadar O’Donnell is out of hospital and with it frail. George Gilmore told us of a most remarkable experience while Charlie Donnelly was in Spain. Gilmore intended to marry Cora Hughes and Donnelly, who also wanted her, stood down in his favour. One evening an incident he describes as hair-raising took place. He came in to his flat one day and had an overpowering feeling that Charlie Donnelly was upstairs [George Gilmore informed the Editor on another occasion that it was Cora Hughes’s flat in South Frederick Street, Dublin, that he was visiting, not his own place]. He was afraid to go up the first flight of steps. The fear grew stronger as he mounted the second and he felt a pricking sensation in his scalp. He had to force himself to come down for water. It was later discovered that was the very day Donnelly died. He said he never believed in “extra-sensory perception” but could offer no explanation.
Of course everybody knew that Donnelly’s life was in danger. The only comparable experience I had was an April 1947, when CEG [ie. his father] was in hospital. I went to Arigna for a trip at Easter. I was there a couple of days stopping at Drumshanbo. All the time I had hiccups, which lasted on and off the whole two days. As I cycled off to an Easter Commemoration at Arigna (there being more police than commemorators) I remember feeling a sense of deep and unreasonable depression. When I got back to Holyhead a telegram which I had arranged to have sent awaited me. It said the CEG have been operated on at the operation was a success. But the strange coincidence was that he had been suffering from hiccups at the same time as myself. Now in my case also we knew he was unwell. It would seem that repressed fear exhibits itself in an irrational form. I think it was on this trip that I met Callan who ran the original Arigna “Soviet”.
In the evening Maolachlann O Caollai called in and promised to read George Thomson’s small book on the Blaskets. He thought the Harcourt Street bookshop [ie. that run by the Gaelic League] would take about 500. O Snodaigh had said it should be published on the strength of Thomson’s reputation in Ireland.
Afterwards, Tony Coughlan told me of some strange goings-on in Glasnevin. Two Americans expressed the wish to meet Cathal Goulding and Tomás MacGiolla. Muriel Saidlear took them to the SFWP club. There they found “Erna” Bennett, Jack Bennett’s brother who is the SFWP representative in Italy and has done the CPI harm with Berlinguer [then leader of the Italian CP]. He was staying with Cathal Goulding. Muriel invited the two leaders to her house and as they left the club Goulding brought from behind the bar the largest bottle of whiskey she had ever seen in her life. “Erna” (correctly Ernest) was dressed in female attire. He is a very muscular fellow and the last person you would expect to be a transvestite. However needless to say they all got drunk, but when Goulding was about paralytic with his head on one side like Brendan Behan “Erna” became the life of the party. The Americans asked why SFWP supported the Common Market. Tomás MacGiolla said, “We’re in it now.” Muriel Saidlear said she disagreed. And so do I, said the Italian representative. They then drifted on to other things, “Erna” getting ever more argumentative, waving his huge hands and shouting. Suddenly he was brought up sharp when he heard the American woman refer to him as “this silly young fellow”. He must have forgotten he was posing as a woman.
August 16 Thursday: I went through some Executive Committee minutes in Liberty Hall. Daltún O Ceallaigh came in the evening and told what Michael Mullin’s secretary had told him. She had been told to ring Cardinal O Fiaich and suggest that the E.C. of the Union should present the Pope with a set of instant vestments on his arrival next month. The Cardinal’s Secretary replied that these would be very acceptable, but it would not be possible for him to present them to the Pope in person. “No vestments, then”, declared Mullen.
August 17 Friday: Daltún O Ceallaigh and I had a look at the archives in the basement. It will take years to clear them. Then I met Colm Power who is staying in Dublin with his brother. He has another year at College. In the evening I felt to thinking of Roy Johnston’s conversation. This probably arose from a lunchtime visit to Michael O’Riordan’s bookshop. He showed me a letter from Carl Reeve to Gerald O’Reilly complaining that Lowery was attacking him too. Michael O’Riordan spoke favourably of Sawtell’s Magazine and referred to “Comment”[a CPGB publication] as “shit”. Roy Johnston was denouncing O’Riordan most immoderately, saying that Stalin wasn’t a patch on him. He also referred to the “ex-nun”. I immediately thought of Irene Brennan, but he meant Helena O Murchú [ie. Dr Helena Sheehan]. Indeed he quite sharply expostulated, “No, Irene Brennan’s a sensible person!” How did he get to know her? His complaint against O’Riordan is that he “drove out” Jeffares and Carmody and “fucked out” his worthy self. Tony Coughlan is going to Wexford with him tomorrow and will try to draw him out. I must try to trace the date of Roy’s quarrel with O’Riordan and see what other things were going on.
August 18 Saturday (Liverpool): I took a taxi to Dun Laoire and returned to Liverpool, bringing with me the typescript. I did a little correcting.
August 19 Sunday: I did a little in the garden but the earlier part of the day is wet. There seem no male flowers on the marrows but two seem to be forming. The wasps are still there. I heard Cherubini’s “Deux Journèes” on the radio. I think that composer grossly underestimated. In the evening there was Mozart’s “Requiem”. There was of course no doubt which was the greater work. The recording was a good one and I sat and followed the score. There was not a dull passage. I wrote reviews of Reeves’s and Faligot’s books.
20 August Monday (London): I went to London and met the usual people, Eddie Cowman, Jane Tate and others. Returning late to 33 Argyle Square, I found I could not open the door. So I opened a bottle of wine and slept as best I could in the office.
August 21 Tuesday: I could not open the door in the day either but rang Jim McDonald who managed to force an entrance. We found that the roof had been repaired but a load of plaster and slates – in a dangerous position – had been dropped through the ceiling. I must get out of that place.
August 22 Wednesday: The Central London branch had no proper meeting. If they do not meet they will get no new leaders. Eddie Cowman was at the Young Liberals finance committee. Steve Huggett said to me that Eddie was uneasy about Noel Gordon. He thought Helen McMurray’s influence not good and that Philip Rendle was trying to establish an influence over them. I guessed that Eddie Cowman is feeling the way Charlie Cunningham felt when he was replaced by Eddie and suggested to Noel Gordon and Helen McMurray who were there that Eddie remain Hon. Secretary until he returns to Ireland. They agreed. So I hope I have averted that danger. Michael Crowe was there, as vague as ever and leaving his things all over the place. He has been in London for three weeks. I wish he would move here. Philip Rendle had a letter in the “Morning Star” complaining at the foolishness of the CP in not properly supporting the demonstration on August 12th. Everybody was very pleased with it. Also, we had a letter from Lord Kilbracken wanting to join the Connolly Association. We had asked him to sponsor our conference. He had asked for more information. Philip Rendle, who is running a Parliamentary Department for us, had sent him the “Liberation” resolution and the conference press report. I finished the paper.
August 23 Thursday: I went into the office in the morning. A letter came for the CPI, signed Jimmy Stewart, though on All-Ireland paper. It speaks of the importance of the “solidarity movement with the Irish question” and the need to “process” this and suggested a joint meeting with an agenda at an agreed venue. I know what this is. There was a furore among the Orange communists at the line of our conference (Betty Sinclair told me this. She was quite surprised when they found out what it is) and they wanted to persuade us to change it. I’ve drafted a reply for Eddie Cowman to send – the Standing Committee meets on Sunday – stating that the matter would be referred to our full Executive Council and that I would discuss the matter with Michael O’Riordan when in Dublin, and when I had reported back we would probably invite them to send a representative to our E.C. This will avoid a carefully stage-managed meeting in Dublin or Belfast. “Solidarity with the Irish question” (Bless us!) means looking after the interests of the members of British-based Trade Unions and mouthing platitudes about civil rights to put on a front for the others. I spoke to Pat Bond on the phone. His reaction was, “They’re not going to tell us what to do.”
I omitted to record yesterday that I had lunch with Bill Parker (WD Parker). He is technical director of a large company and recently visited Japan. We last met in 1969 just after Maud Rogerson had died. He did not now say he left the CP in protest at the ETU affair. He said he was as good as chased out by Max Morris. He had little opinion either of that man or his wife. He knew about Derek Walker but does not want to see him as he has grown incredibly respectable. J.Godolphin Bennett died a couple of years ago. He must have been over 80. He is still on the Finance Committee of ASTMS. He thinks Clive Jenkins a scoundrel. When he sued Paul Foote for libel and was awarded £2000 pounds Bill Parker found it was not contrary to rule for his branch to send Foot £50 pounds. Apparently others did the same so that Jenkins was in fact paid out of his own funds. He has a daughter just out of college and the son at Cambridge is doing classics. They do not get jobs in the vacation, which is as it should be.
I had to move my journals and came upon an autobiography covering the period from 1937 on. But alas, there had been three volumes and the central one was missing. This contained much of the detail of the infighting in the Connolly Association and would have helped Tony Coughlan [ie. as regards the history of the Association, a project that A.Coughlan had taken on but did not complete]. I wonder where it got to. I only vaguely recall writing it. Could it possibly be in some old box in London? I stayed up reading the remaining part until 4 am. Most of it I had forgotten all about.
August 24 Friday: I took it easy, did a bit of shopping and pottered about the garden. I want to spend three weeks putting the house and garden straight, then go away for a decent holiday and I don’t intend to make a sweat of it.
August 25 Saturday: I did little enough but started correcting the MS of Volume 1. The typist’s work looks marvellous, but there are many errors. Daltún O Ceallaigh rang up to say that he is posting the rest of it.
August 26 Sunday: The weather is dry at last, but with a chilly wind. I had intended to go out cycling but for that reason did not. Eddie Cowman rang to say that the Standing Committee had replied to Jimmy Stewart saying they would need a full Executive Council, after which they might invite somebody to attend a meeting and explain this proposal. He has agreed to remain as Hon. Sec. I wish he were continuing full-time. I finished correcting the MS.
August 27 Monday: It was bright, though cool, so I cycled to Storeton, Brimstage, Thornton Hough and Leighton to Parkgate. There were crowds there. The old public houses are all nautical, for example the “Marie Celeste”. But the vast monopoly of Whitbread’s has opened a place as big as a cathedral which sports the “Copenhagen Bar”. There is now no channel though there remains one overgrown slipway [ie. on the River Dee]. I remember when there used to be half a dozen fishing smacks. But the cafes still cell “Dee shrimps”. I wonder do they still catch them there. I came back through Gayton and Brimstage. It was still chilly, so I sawed up some timber and lit a fire in my study.
August 28 Tuesday: Today was dry and sunny, but with a chill in the wind. Toni Curran was at Ripley. I telephoned over a statement saying that blowing up innocent civilians was not good. She told me that everybody was talking about the death of Mountbatten [who had been assassinated by the IRA along with others in Co. Sligo]. Of course, the “economism” of the Irish TUC and Labour Party is the precondition for this.
In the afternoon I went cycling again, this time rather further, for I went to Wollaston and Burton and back along the Dee Road through Ness and the back of Neston. I was rather tired, I think because I have a suppressed cold I can’t get rid of. This is the first August I remember when fires were needed in the evening. I spoke to Eddie Cowman on the phone. He was sorry I had not ignored the Mountbatten thing. It seems that “An Phoblacht” has been speaking favourably of us. But they are no more justified in their acting for that. We have other people to keep on our hands as well.
August 29 Wednesday: it was fine again and somewhat warmer. Indeed I cut two marrows and gave one to Jean Brown. I did a little in the garden.
August 30 Thursday: Again I went cycling in the afternoon. I am taking a couple of months easy as I’m still a trifle tired, perhaps more mentally than physically after the two years’ heavy work. I went to Raby Mere and found it astonishingly unchanged after 45 years. Then I went as far as [placename indecipherable]. Two useful roads have been blocked off because of the motorway and Raby Mere is now on a cul-de-sac. There were quite a few people on bicycles and perhaps half a dozen who would merit the title “cyclists”. Then I did a little in the garden. I am gradually catching up.
August 31 Friday: Today the weather was fine and very warm, certainly in the seventies. Not that I would not have preferred the eighties, but as always the heat did me good and it was the first day on which I did not feel tired any more. I spent about eight hours in the garden, cleared and extended a bed and got the brushwood off the third compost heap. Considering the late start the vegetable garden looks very well, with marrows, calabrese, mangolds, tomatoes in profusion, plums very promising and cauliflowers, colcannon, pamphrey, cabbage and swedes all promising for the winter.
I had a word with Daltún O Ceallaigh. He posted the MS on Monday but it has not arrived. He tells me the whole of Ireland has gone security mad and that there are fire drills and bomb drills on the ITGWU premises. It strikes me that a left influence must have been developing in Provisional Sinn Fein. This probably explains their praise of the “Democrat”. This insane “propaganda par le fait”[ie. propaganda by the deed, a reference to the assassination of Lord Mountbatten and others] is directed towards destroying that. There is a parallel with the Phoenix Park murders, aimed at making it difficult for Parnell to contract an alliance unwelcome to the “Invincibles”. It would not surprise me if this action led to the maturing of a split in the “Provisionals”. Certainly the Establishment has made as much as possible of the thing. For who could possibly justify the bumping off of civilians who not only took no part in the politics of Partition, but were moreover friendly to Ireland? They will find this was their biggest mistake, though their enemies may make greater!
[End of Volume 29, c.50,000 words]