Freedom For All Ireland Report – August 2018

by Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair

A chairde:

FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

A-Retaliatory arrests of NO STONE UNTURNED Filmmakers-Trevor Birney, and Barry McCaffrey, whose thrilling documentary film exposed collusion and cover-up in the Loughinisland murders, were arrested in retaliation. Just before the 1994 ceasefire, patrons watching Ireland play Italy in World Cup soccer were marked for death. Six were murdered and others wounded. Items containing DNA, including the getaway car, weapons, and clothing were recovered. A gunman’s wife posted a letter and made an anonymous call to the constabulary naming the murderers. Her voice gave away her identity, since she worked for the RUC.  The film title, NO STONE UNTURNED, quoted an RUC member who pledged no stone would be unturned in the search for loyalist killers. It became a term of scorn for families who saw no killers charged, despite massive evidence, because the loyalist criminals were protected as British agents. The families turned to investigative journalists and ombudsman Michael Maguire. The filmmakers found and filmed one of the killers. The AOH FFAI noted “these arrests say it is ‘NO STONE UNTURNED’ when it comes to going after journalists who reveal truths the crown wants kept hidden.” Families also turned to filmmakers about the Ballymurphy Massacre and collusion killings. These arrests send a chilling message that the crown will go after press and filmmakers who embarrass them. The two men were released but documents were seized and the threat of prosecution hangs over them. The pretext for the arrests seems to be that they “stole” items which they explain in the film were sent to them anonymously. The action came weeks after Constabulary Chief

George Hamilton was welcomed to the West Belfast Feile. As Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin comes to Washington, on September 12-14,lawyer Niall Murphy wants the AOH to brief Congressmen to raise this issue.

B- British trash investigations on Ballymurphy Inquest eve-With the Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest set to begin on September 10th, past and current British commanders began rubbishing any legacy investigations of British crown or collusion killings as a “witch-hunt”, “macabre charade” or” legacy scandal”. They are timed to discredit the Ballymurphy families who have waited 47 years for truth and justice. After the first Internment raids, Paratroopers barracked in Ballymurphy came out and opened fire without warning. A Catholic priest, waving a white handkerchief, Fr. Hugh Mullan, nineteen-year-old Francis Quinn, mother of 8 children, Joan Connolly, were shot dead going to wounded victims. Daniel Teggart, felled by a bullet to the leg, was shot a total of 14 times. Noel Philips was shot dead that first night. Joseph Murphy was wounded, taken into custody and shot a second time inside the barracks before his death. Edward Doherty, John Laverty, Joseph Corr and John McKerr were murdered over the next two days. An eleventh murder victim, Paddy McCarthy, died of a heart attack, when troopers placed an empty gun inside his mouth in mock execution. British Royal Military Police whitewashed troopers making the dead guilty. With the Inquest set to begin September 10th, British Army Commander Nick Carter proclaimed that British Troops in the north had done a “remarkable job”, were “chased by people making vexatious claims” but “that will not happen on his watch.”Former British commander Bramhall wrote that the Britain “must by whatever means put a stop to this “macabre charade.” Colonel Tim Collins, wrote in the first in a series of “STOP THE LEGACY SCANDAL” essays in the BELFAST NEWSLETTER that almost all British crown forces “shootings were within their legal duty.” Why are British Army commanders so worried about the verdicts and findings of their own British courts and judges?

C-DUP will not budge on Irish language act says Foster-Almost 600 days after the collapse of power-sharing, former First Minister Arlene Foster said her DUP party would never accept an Irish language act, which was “non-negotiable”. Foster and the DUP also staged a “Sinn Fein end the boycott” protest in front of Stormont, demanding that nationalists return, while talks on outstanding issues take place. It is unclear how any talks could progress, if main issues are “non-negotiable”. Ironically Foster’s red-lining of an Irish language act follows Sinn Fein removing its redline over Foster as First Minister. The late Martin McGuinness resigned on January 9,2017 over Foster’s refusal to stand aside while her Renewable Heat Initiative(RHI) “money to burn” scandal was under investigation. Foster blames approval of a 500 million pound plan paying a profit to burn fuel, on her advisors. This scandal is under an ongoing public inquiry. In February 2017, Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein said power-sharing with the DUP had been ten years of “deliberate provocation, arrogance and disrespect.” Talks earlier this year ended in a Valentine’s Day breakup after the DUP reneged on a deal for an Irish language act coupled with Ulster Scots and an overriding Respecting Languages Bill.

D- Unionist fury at Limerick Hurlers’ Song-Unionists were outraged that Limerick hurlers sang Sean South of Garryowen at Croke Park, while celebrating their All-Ireland victory. They did not watch the match or post-match singing live. Apparently video of the spontaneous celebration was distributed online by Unionist groups, to get complaints. The song, by the Wolfe Tones about the 1957 IRA attack on Brookborough Barracks, includes the lyrics “And the leader was a Limerick man- Sean South of Garryowen”. The incident came weeks after outrage at the Wolfe Tones singing Celtic Symphony at the West Belfast Feile or Festival. Unionists feel entitled to parade and play Orange songs a everywhere in the six counties then dictate that Republican songs not be sung anywhere in Ireland. 

FFAI NATIONAL COMMITTEE APPOINTMENTS

In order to do the work of being “the voice of the Irish in America” on FFAI across the country, our national leaders have directed formation of a National FFAI Committee. This committee is tasked with being the major information resource for members and Divisions on FFAI issues. The initial appointments by our National President and officers were made in early August, however since then, I received several other requests and recommendations and we are looking to expand the National Committee in the near future. The initial appointments are:  

1-Past National President and Former FFAI Chair Brendan Moore, for overall experience and guidance;

2-Jim McLaughlin- of Virginia whose location allows him to assist anytime we go to Washington, as well as coordinate in the south.

3-Gerry McHale-Philadelphia is a current state FFAI Chair in the key FFAI state of Pennsylvania;  

4-Sean O’Dowd in Chicago will be working throughout the Midwest.

5-Malachy McAllister-in New Jersey and overall help with political, publicity and fundraising initiatives.  

BALLYMUPHY MASSACRE CALL TO ACTION

The voice of the Irish in America must be heard in support of the Ballymurphy Massacre families and their fight for justice.  National Vice-President Danny O’Connell and Secretary Jere Cole will be in Belfast to meet the families and to show AOH support. Carmel Quinn, whose brother John Laverty was murdered by British Paratroops is coming to us to give the AOH an up to the minute report on the inquest. This tour has been expanded to take in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and other locations. We also want show the British that American Congressmen and Senators are watching. During the Ballymurphy Massacre Tour we will be circulating a draft sign -on letter for Congressmen expressing concerns of their constituents and notifying the British they will monitor the evidence and verdict.

REMEMBERING IRISH PATRIOTS WITH PRIDE

Ruan O’Donnell, of Limerick University will give the Hibernian Lecture at Notre Dame: “America and the Irish Revolution 1916-22” on September 21st at 4:30 pm at McKenna Hall. Professor O’Donnell says that our work for FFAI is part of a long history and without America no part of Ireland would be free! It is open to everyone.

James McGlashin will speak at the Robert Emmet Statue, 1700 24th Street NW Washington, DC on September 30th at 11:30am.

Please contact me at MGALVINESQ@AOL.COM.                              

Martin Galvin

Irish Language Mass at Basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral

The New York County Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral invite all to celebrate an Irish-language Mass on Saturday, March 10, 12 p.m. at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral on Mott Street between Prince and Houston Streets.

Father Andrew O’Connor of St. Mary’s Church in Manhattan will be the celebrant. Liturgical music will be performed on the Basilica’s historic 1868 Henry Erben Organ by resident organist Jared Lamenzo, and Paddy Connolly will be the Cantor. There will be readings in Gaelic by several guests.

After the Holy Mass, there will be a party held in the St. Patrick’s Youth Center with Traditional Irish music performed live. There will be Irish Soda Bread, food and beverages available. So, we will enjoy the Mass, followed by ceili (great music), craic (great conversation), dancing, and refreshments. Come and join us to celebrate the Feast of Saint Patrick!  There is absolutely no charge to attend. Free-will contributions will be gratefully accepted.

For additional informtion contct Jim Hamilton at jhmltn17@aol.com

The Hibernian Catechism by Father Henry Reid

Father Henry Reid

Father Henry Reid, NY AOH State Chaplain, has created an Irish-English Language Hibernian Catechism to view online and to download and print in a convenient booklet format.  Included in the publication are many of our daily prayers, the US and Irish national anthems, a primer on our Catholic Faith and a section on important dates in Irish history.

Read the Hibernian Catechism online here.

Download the Hibernian Catechism (print version) here.

Catholic University of America

Pictured (L- R) meeting at Catholic University are Bob Sullivan and Dean Poos of CUA, Vice President Brendan Moore and Director Keith Carney.

In 1896, 8 years after Catholic University of America (CUA) was founded in Washington, DC, the AOH provided a gift in the amount of $50,000 to endow a Chair in Gaelic Languages and Literature. That endowed fund still exists at Catholic University today, under the title AOH Chair of Gaelic Language and Literature.  The AOH endowment was looked at with great suspicion by some at CUA when it was originally provided.  It was a unique and extremely generous gift at the time and it was only the second endowment the University had ever received, the first being in 1893 (in the amount of $30,000) by U.S. Catholic Bishops.  The only other Celtic department in the United States at that time was at Harvard.  Many at the University were suspicious of the AOH at the time actually frowned upon the gift for a Chair calling the organization a “secret society”.  One historic reference in a University correspondence of 1892 expressed the view that “this University Chair ought to labeled the ‘Murderers’ Chair.”

In 1983, Catholic University established The Center for Irish Studies which organized lectures and other co-curricular events relating to Irish history, literature, and culture. Subsequently, a Master’s Degree in Irish Studies program started in 1991.  The degree program required study of modern Irish language but enrollment in courses for that language included students who were not in the Irish Studies Master’s Degree program.  In 2009 the AOH discovered that Catholic University had shut down (if only temporarily) their Irish Studies program because of a shake up and abrupt departure of the acting chair of the department and other associated staff.

Vice President Brendan Moore (a Catholic University alum) and National Director Keith Carney recently met with representatives of Catholic University in Washington, DC to discuss the status of the AOH endowment at the University.  The meeting included the Dean Larry Poos of the English Department, Bob Sullivan – the head of Development for Catholic and Dr. Coilin Owens a professor currently teaching an undergraduate Gaelic Language class at CUA.  Many options are on the table on how to deal with the AOH endowment and CUA is determined to maintain the fund for use as close to its original intent as possible.  Director Carney had requested a status of the endowment provided by the AOH and was provided with a status of the account in October of 2010 – that account currently holds (according to the University’s document) over $215,000.

While the amount of money currently in the endowment is significant, it is not enough to pay to hire a full time dean to run a Gaelic Studies program.  The University could not comment on the accounting of the fund over the years but readily admitted that they had not invested “any” endowments well over the years (until recently).  Catholic University has several other endowments that support Irish studies, including the Rose Saul Zalles Chair in Celtic Studies, the John F. Kane Fund, and the Mary Moran Chair in Celtic Language.  The two former funds were the chief sources of funding for The Center for Irish Studies activities. While no conclusions were drawn at the meeting, the combining of the other endowments (similar in purpose) to better pool resources in order to fulfill the original intent for the funds was proposed.

The Washington, DC AOH recently organized a Division at Catholic University, named the Sons of Saint Aiden Division and have over 40 members (all college students) that is serving as a model for other College students looking to start divisions.

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Thomas MacCurtain

January 30, 1920 was a happy day for Tomas MacCurtain. He had been elected Lord Mayor of Cork. Born as Thomas Curtin in Ballinknockin, Co. Cork, on 20th March 1884, he began using the Gaelic version of his name, Tomas MacCurtain, when he joined the Gaelic League in Blackpool, Cork City in 1901. By 1902 he was the group’s Secretary. He was also a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (American Alliance) in Cork City and rose to be the Division President. Tomas was interested in Irish history and was a bagpiper as well as an accomplished violinist and often played in an orchestra. This brown-haired, blue-eyed Irishman had great determination.

After he left school he worked at Marks Mills in Crosses Green and in his spare time he taught the Irish language to those wishing to learn. He met Eilish Walsh, also active in the Gaelic League, and they married on 28th June 1908. They had 5 children and lived at 40 Thomas Davis St in the northern part of Cork City.

By 1911, he was involved in the running of Fianna Eireann, and he became a Volunteer in 1914. He fought for Irish freedom and for that cause served prison terms in 1916 and 1917 in Wakefield, Frongoch and Reading Jail in England. He became Commandant of the Cork Brigade of the IRA which grew so large that on Jan 5, 1919, it was divided into 3 Brigades with Michael Collins presiding over the meeting. Commandant MacCurtain was left to command Cork Brigade No 1 and Tom Hales became Commandant of Cork Brigade No 3. The following day, MacCurtain presided over a meeting in Mallow to form (North) Cork Brigade No. 2.

Under a policy of ignoring institutions established by the British, the Irish used the legal elections held by the Brits to elect their own representatives, and establish their own Parliament instead of sitting in Westminster or accepting Crown appointed officials. On January 31, 1920, elections were held in Cork City, and Sinn Fein dominated local councils. Tomas was elected by his Ward and was chosen to be Lord Mayor of Cork City. The Brits were furious. Tomas began implementing changes with a mind toward the dream of a free Ireland.

On March 19, 1920, at 11 PM, a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary was shot and killed on Pope’s Quay, Cork. Some hours later (just after 1 AM, March 20) men disguised with blackened faces burst into the MacCurtain home and shot the Lord Mayor in his bed. In the house at the time were Mrs. MacCurtain, her children, her brother, 3 sisters, 2 nieces and a nephew, and her invalid mother Mrs. Walsh. Tomas’ sister-in-law Annie came down the stairs with a Crucifix and holy water. They knelt down and prayed by the lifeless body, Annie holding her arm under Tomas’ head. He was bleeding from around the region of the heart. Annie described how they remained praying until the priest came in response to Mrs. MacCurtain’s telephone call. I called on the Sacred Heart to spare him, at least until the priest would come, Annie said. When the priest came I went away for a few minutes, but came back then to see him die. His last words were: “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit”.

Tomas died just after receiving the Last Rites. Such was public reaction, that the funeral on Monday 22nd March, from the North Cathedral was the largest ever seen in Cork city. Tomas MacCurtin, musician, pioneer of the Gaelic revival movement, Commandant of the Cork Brigade, Sinn Fein member, AOH President, founding member of the Irish Volunteers, was laid to rest in St Finbarr’s Church graveyard, in a plot facing the main gate. His personal pistol was given to his friend, Michael Collins. The Cork City Council held an inquiry and indicted the British government for MacCurtain’s murder. Among those involved in the murder was RIC District-Inspector Oswald Swanzy, who was secretly transferred to Lisburn in Northern Ireland to safeguard him from retaliation.

However, retaliation was the order of the day as far as Collins was concerned. It took a few months to locate him, but In August, Collins handed Tomas MacCurtain’s pistol to a hand-picked team who went north and on August 22, 1920 dealt justice to Inspector Oswald Swanzy from MacCurtain’s own gun. Swanzy’s death so infuriated the Brits that the entire Catholic section of Lisburn was burned to the ground.

MacCurtin was succeeded in office by Terence MacSwiney – and that’s another story.

Sean MacDairmada

One of the lesser known, but major figures, in the 1916 uprising is Sean McDermott. If you don’t know his story, don’t feel alone. He is so little known that you can’t even find him on the internet. You’ll find Sean McDermott the actor, Sean McDermott the singer, Sean McDermott the NFL star, Sean McDermott the missionary, and even Sean McDermott the U.S. Navy C2/E2 pilot of the year 2005. The only way to find our Sean McDermott is to look up his name the way he signed it on the proclamation of the Irish Republic – in the Irish language: Sean MacDiarmada – a name that was on British secret police files for years until his death.

Seán MacDiarmada was born on February 28, 1883 in small Co. Leitrim town near the Donegal border, where there now stands a monument to his memory. Sean was born there, but ran away at age 15 and went to Glasgow where his uncle was a gardener. He worked for a time with his uncle, but soon took a job as a conductor on the Glasgow trams. After 2 years, he went to Belfast and worked as a tram conductor, and later as a barman.

In Belfast, he joined the Ancient Order of Hibernians which was closely associated with the Irish Parliamentary Party. While the AOH were then considered to be the custodians of Irish nationalism, MacDiarmada looked for and joined other Irish nationalist organizations as well, including Sinn Fein and the Gaelic League. He gave a speech at a Sinn Féin convention in Dublin that made a deep impression on all who heard him. Described as “strikingly handsome and earnest, speaking with natural eloquence and a sincerity which held his audience”, he was also called lighthearted with a gift of telling a humorous story and a tongue that was witty without being malicious. Then, in 1906, MacDiarmada took the oath of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and it changed his life forever.

He moved to Dublin in 1908, and met the veteran Fenian Tom Clarke who had been sent back to Ireland from America to reorganize the IRB. MacDiarmada was tireless in his efforts to spread the IRB across the country. As a result Tom Clarke took the young dynamo under his wing, and made him a national organizer for the Brotherhood. A strong friendship developed and, over the years, MacDiarmada and Clarke became nearly inseparable. Then tragedy struck. MacDermott was afflicted with polio. After a long recuperation, however, he threw himself back into the nationalist movement. Though now forced use a cane just to walk about, his infirmity never slowed him down nor dampened his nationalist spirit.

In 1910 he became manager of the newspaper “Irish Freedom”, which he founded with Bulmer Hobson and Denis McCullough. In November 1913 he was one of the original members of the Irish Volunteers formed at the Rotunda by Padraic Pearse, and worked tirelessly to bring that organization under IRB control. Sean became Secretary of the IRB and in May 1915 he was arrested in Tuam, County Galway, under the Defense of the Realm Act for giving a speech against enlisting in the British Army for WWI. Released in September, he was invited to join the IRB’s secret Military Committee, to plan a rising against the Crown. Indeed, it was he and Tom Clarke who were most responsible for planning the Easter Rising of 1916. And, in spite of his handicap, Sean MacDiarmada limped into that milestone of Irish history, carrying his cane not as a crutch of dependence, but as a scepter of authority, as part of the HQ staff of James Connolly. It was MacDiarmada who read Pearse’s letter of surrender to those in the G.P.O.

After the Rising was put down by the British, and the rebels taken captive, a sneering British officer remarked as MacDiarmada limped by, “No wonder the Sinn Feiners lost, with such cripples in their army.” MacDiarmada made no reply. In fact, he almost escaped execution by blending in with the crowd of prisoners until a British officer named Lee-Wilson, pointed him out saying “take the man with the stick, he’s the most dangerous man here after Tom Clarke.” Lee-Wilson was later killed during the Irish War of Independence on the orders of one of MacDiarmada’s closest friends – a big fella by the name of Michael Collins.

On May 12, 1916, Sean MacDiarmada was murdered by the Crown in the Stonebreaker’s Yard of Kilmainham Jail; the same day as his comrade James Connolly. They were the last two to face the firing squad. In 1922, poet Seamus O’Sullivan wrote:

They have slain you, Sean MacDermott; never more these eyes will greet
The eyes beloved by women and the smile that true men loved;
Never more I’ll hear the stick-tap, and the gay and limping feet,
They have slain you, Sean the Gentle, Sean the valiant, Sean the proved.