|July 2020 Cultural institutions in Ireland are beginning to re-open, as Covid-19 restrictions are gradually eased. Due to continuing social distancing requirements the way we engage with our physical heritage and culture will be different – visitor numbers will be controlled – queuing will be required – you might be asked to wear a face covering.
This is a new experience for everyone. And requires patience and understanding.
As Ireland opens its doors again please try to support local booksellers, walking tours, heritage groups – all those who continue to bring our history to you through their work.
As always, if you would like to inform us of any suitable material – anything related to the Decade of Centenaries – please feel free to email [email protected].
|The new History Ireland issue is now available online to subscribers and will be in the shops now. The magazine includes the following articles:
WAR OF INDEPENDENCE I: The agrarian movement of 1920 by Terry Dunne
WAR OF INDEPENDENCE II: Michael Collins and the British press by Alison Martin
WAR OF INDEPENDENCE III: Britain’s ‘disappeared’ by Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc
WAR OF INDEPENDENCE IV: The Royal Navy in the War of Independence by Daire Brunicardi
To subscribe to receive a digital edition of the HistoryIreland magazine every month, click *here* to see the available options. This also gives full access to the archive of articles. There is also a single subscription offer at the moment -for €5 you can receive a digital/physical edition of thecurrent issue.
The Kerry Writers’ Museum have curated an excellent online exhibition covering the Listowel Police Mutiny of 1920. They aim to have the physical exhibition open soon. In the meantime, now that they are open to the public again,you could visit their new permanent exhibition, installed earlierthis year entitled Listowel through the Ages which traces the history of Listowel & North Kerry from ancient times, through medieval & Victorian Listowel, the Great Famine and War & Independence.
From their own introduction to the Mutiny exhibition: On June 19th 1920, fourteen rank and file members of theRoyal Irish Constabulary in Listowel defied the order of their superior officers and refused to hand over the control of the barracks to the British Military, and to adopt a shoot to killpolicy against the local community. This incident – forevermore known as the Listowel Police Mutiny – was a seminalevent in the Irish War of Independence. But what led to the incident and what were its long term repercussions? To mark the centenary of this significant historic event, Kerry Writers’ Museum presents this commemorative exhibition. It features recounts of events by leading historians, first-hand accounts from those involved, photographs, and videorecordings of family members of the Listowel ‘mutineers’.
100 YEARS AGO: The Listowel mutiny Published in History Ireland: Issue 3 (May/June 2020), Volume 28 By Joseph E.A. Connell
The Irish Bulletin, a Dublin newspaper edited by Desmond FitzGerald, was one of the most effective propaganda arms for the IRA/Volunteers during the War of Independence. It was published daily from 11November 1919 until the Truce. On 19 June 1920, itreported the words of Lt. Col. Gerald Brice Ferguson Smyth DSO, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, Divisional Commander for Munster, who addressed RIC members at their barracks in Listowel:‘Well, Men, I have something to tell you. Something I am sure you would not want your wives to hear. Sinn Féin has had all the sport up to the present, and we are going to have the sport now. The police have done splendid work, considering the odds against them … This is not enough, for as long as we remain on the defensive, so long will Sinn Féin have the whip hand. We must take the offensive and beat Sinn Féin with its own tactics. Martial law, applying to all Ireland, is coming into operation shortly, and our scheme of amalgamation must be complete by June 21st. If a police barracks is burned or if the barracks already occupied is not suitable, then the best house in the locality is to be commandeered, the occupants thrown into the gutter. Let them die there, the more the better. Police and military will patrol the country … They are not to confine themselves to the main roads, but make across thecountry, lie in ambush and, when civilians are seen approaching, shout “Hands up!” Should the order not be immediately obeyed, shoot and shoot with effect. If the persons approaching carry their hands in their pockets, or are in any way suspicious looking, shoot them down. You may make mistakes occasionally and innocent persons may be shot, but that cannot be helped, and you are bound to get the right parties sometime. The more you shoot, the better I will like you, and I assure you that no policeman will get into trouble for shooting any man. In the past, policemen have got into trouble for giving evidence at coroners’ inquests. As a matter of fact coroners’ inquests are to be made illegal so that in future no policeman will be asked to give evidence at inquests. We want your assistance incarrying out this scheme and wiping out Sinn Féin. Areyou men prepared to cooperate?’
Col. Smyth denied giving this speech in this form, but many RIC men remembered his words. A member of his audience, Constable Jeremiah Mee, replied: ‘By your accent, I take it you are an Englishman, and in your ignorance you forget you are addressing Irishmen. These, too, are English [taking off his cap, belt, and arms]. Take them too.’
Two days later the Irish Bulletin published lists of RIC men who had resigned. On 17 July it reported that Lt.Col. Smyth had been killed in the Cork City and County Club. On 11 October 1920, the Cairo Gang, a group of British intelligence officers, surprised Dan Breen and Seán Treacy outside the Drumcondra house of an IRA sympathiser, Prof. Carolan. Breen and Treacy escaped but killed two, including Major George O.S. Smyth, brother of Lt. Col. Gerald Smyth. Upon Lt. Col. Smyth’s death, Major Smyth had requested a transfer from Egypt to Ireland and to go after Breen and Treacy, whom he mistakenly blamed for his brother’s death. Breen was wounded several times and badly cut on a broken windowpane in making his escape. Prof. Carolan was put up against a wall and shot. Before he died, he was able to give a full account of what happened.
Treacy was followed to Prof. Carolan’s funeral and was killed in a street shoot-out. After he left the RIC Constable Jeremiah Mee went to work for Countess Markievicz in the Dáil Ministry for Labour.
Joseph E.A. Connell is the author of The shadow war: Michael Collins and the politics of violence (Wordwell Books).
Although History Ireland has been unable to hold its ‘Hedge Schools’ in person, the discussions continue – and are recorded as podcasts.
Two were released just this week.
The first is an examination ofthe Connaught Rangers Mutiny on its centenary (28 June).
The discussion covers Irish soldiers in the British Army, defending the Empire in other colonies – the possible causes of the Mutiny itself – the reaction in Ireland when the time came for the Mutineers to apply for pensions.
The second examines political conditions in Derry and the North-West (1920-22).
Both these podcasts (and previous Hedge Schools) are available onthe History Ireland website *here*
The podcasts are also available on other streaming platforms, such as Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
Dictionary of Irish Biography
Decade of Centenaries and Dictionary of Irish Biography have been collaborating during lockdown on showcasing women of the early twentieth century who strove for Irish Independence; for female suffrage; to improvethe lives of women in poverty; and to improvethe standard of care for children. These women worked hard throughout their lives to improvethe lives of others, but they have not always been accorded their due recognition. Hopefully this series will bring their deeds to a new and wider audience.
Fourth in the series is: Rosa Barrett by Frances Clarke and Patricia M. Byrne
Barrett, Rosa (Mary) (1854–1936) philanthropist, child-careworker, and suffragist, was born 15 January 1854 in Royston, Hertfordshire, England, daughter of the Rev. W. G. Barrett and Martha Barrett (née Fletcher).
From the 1860s she was resident with her family in Dublin. Her interest in child care developed at an early age, when she used her pocket-money to pay a nurse to mind the children of working charwomen, and by the late 1870s she had become a significant figure in Dublin philanthropic circles.
In 1879 she founded Dublin’s first crèche, the Cottage Home for Little Children, in Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire). Catering initially for working mothers on low incomes (it cost a penny a day), the home subsequently expanded into an orphanage which by 1900 provided care for up to forty-five children under the age of 6.
During the Great War, Belgian refugees added to their numbers. Barrett was herself a congregationalist, and the home was open to children of all protestant denominations.
Throughout the 1880s and 1890s it pursued a policy of boarding-out and emigration. This led her to visit Canada on several occasions to inspect the children’s adoptive homes, after which she made a detailed study of adoption legislationin Canada and the US, the result of which was her article on adoption in the Journal of the Statistical and Social InquirySociety of Ireland (1891).
Having long campaigned for a modernisation of the laws relating to children, in 1889 she broadened her child-care activities with the establishment of the Dublin Aid Committee. This provided the basis for what became the Irish branch of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty toChildren (NSPCC).
Founded in the aftermath of an investigation she initiated into the mistreatment of children in a home in Tuam, Co. Galway, it sought to ensure that the legal rights of children were enforced. Both she and her brother William were original general committee members of the NSPCC’s Irish section; though his association with it was brief, she remained on the committee until 1908.
Though she was best known for her work with children, she also took part in other philanthropic projects, among them the Irish Home Industries Association of Lady Aberdeen and the Philanthropic Reform Association.
She often raised the issue of women’s welfare and was among those who assisted in establishing the Women’s National Health Association. Formed in 1907, it sought to promote public awareness about the prevention of diseases, particularly TB and infant mortality.
A prominent figure in the suffrage movement, she was an active member of the non-militant and non-party Irish Women’s Suffrage Federation, and as such was included in the delegation that travelled to London in 1912 to lobby Irish MPs in connection with the home rule bill. She was alsoa keen temperance advocate, serving for a time as president of the Irish Women’s Temperance Union.
A prolonged illness in 1919 forced her to retire from her position as secretary of the Cottage Home in 1920, after which she left Kingstown and moved to England.
Nevertheless she maintained her connections with the home, continuing as a committee member and its president until her death.
Throughout her career she produced various publications on child-related issues, most notably her paper ‘Juvenile criminals’, given to the International Congress on Prison Management in Budapest (Sept. 1905), which won the Howard medal. She also compiled Lock’s Guide to Dublin charities (1884) and wrote a biography of the White Cross pioneer Ellice Hopkins (1908). A keen traveller, over the years she visited Sweden, Norway, and South Africa. She died unmarried (28 August 1936) at her home in Hanside Lane, Welwyn Garden City, Herts.
Sources:GRO (England and Wales); Report of the National Society for thePrevention of Cruelty to Children (1890–1908); Thom, 1891; NAI, MS 1901 census records; G. D. William, Dublin charities (1902); J. S. Gibbonsand Rosa M. Barrett, Inebriety and crime (1906); WWW; Times, death notice 1 Sept., obit. 2 Sept. 1936; Olive C. Goodbody, One hundred years a-growing (1979); Cliona Murphy, The women’s suffrage movement and Irish society in the early twentieth century (1989); Maria Luddy, ‘Women and charitable organisations in nineteenth-century Ireland’, Women’s Studies International Forum, xliv (1989), 301–5; ead., Women and philanthropy in nineteenth-century Ireland (1995)
Further reading:For more details on the work of the DIB see: https://www.ria.ie/research-projects/dictionary-irish-biography
Frank McNally An Irishman’s Diary on the Belgian refugeesof 1914-18 RTÉ – The History Show – Belgian Refugees in Ireland Conor Mulvagh Minute book of the Belgian Refugees’ Committee Sarah-Anne Buckley, ‘Child neglect, poverty and class: the NSPCC in Ireland, 1889—1939 — a case study’, Saothar, Vol. 33 (2008), pp 57-70. (This is a JSTOR link – the article is available to read online for those who do not have institutional login, it is possible to register as an individual).
Fifth in the series is: Louisa Bennett by Frances Clarke Bennett, Louisa (‘Louie’) (1870–1956), suffragist, trade unionist, and peace activist, was born 7 January 1870, in Garville Avenue, Rathgar, Dublin, the eldest daughter of James Cavendish Bennett, a prosperous auctioneer, and his wife Susan (née Bolger).
She was brought up at Temple Hill, Blackrock, and educated at Alexandra College, and at an academy for young ladies in London, where she and her sisters formed an Irish League; she went on to study singing in Bonn, Germany. Already as a teenager she showed an interest in writing, her first literary effort being ‘Memoirs of the Temple Road in the 80s’; she afterwards published two unsuccessful romantic novels, The proving of Priscilla (1902) and A prisoner of his word (1908), the latter set in Co. Down in the aftermath of the 1798 rebellion. She turned her attention to women’s issues and by 1910 had become involved in the suffrage movement, initially through her reading of the suffrage monthly Irish Citizen.
In 1911 she co-founded, with her life-long friend and colleague Helen Chenevix, the Irishwomen’s Suffrage Federation, an umbrella organisation, which by 1913 had connected fifteen Irish suffrage societies and had established links with Europe and the USA. She and Chenevix were the organisation’s first honorary secretaries. She was also associated with the Irish Women’s Franchise League, for which she ran public-speaking classes. However, as the divide between militants and opponents of the use of violence became more pronounced, Bennett, as a confirmed pacifist, who endorsed what she called ‘constructive, rather than destructive action’, distanced herself from the league, and through her involvement in the production of the Irish Citizen sought to sideline the militants. Bennett’s concerns were not limited to the question of women’s franchise. As founder of the Irish Women’s Reform League, she not only addressed the suffrage question, but examined many social issues concerning women. The league focused on working conditions, monitored court cases involving women, and demanded school meals and better education. She was among those who assisted in the relief effort at Liberty Hall during the 1913 strike and lockout in Dublin, and she appealed for funds for strikers’ families through the Irish Citizen.
In the period that followed she maintained her links with the labour movement. She often opposed the direct, uncompromising approach of both James Connolly and Helena Molony, and argued that labour and women’s issues could only be hampered by any affiliation with nationalist politics. The aftermath of the Easter rising, and in particular, the murder of Francis Sheehy Skeffington, caused her to revise some of her views on nationalism. In late 1916 she accepted an invitation to reorganise the Irish Women Workers’ Union (IWWU), on the understanding that she would have complete independence from Liberty Hall.
Assisted by Chenevix and Father John Flanagan, she re-created the union along professional lines, and by 1918 its membership had risen dramatically from a few hundred to 5,300. She consistently defended its separatist stance, arguing that women’s concerns in a male-dominated union would always be of secondary importance. Throughout the first world war Bennett campaigned for peace, and she was selected as the Irish representativeto the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She led the IWWU in its opposition to the attempted introduction of conscription in 1918, and in1920 she travelled to America to highlight Black and Tan atrocities (she later met Lloyd George and demanded the removal of the Black and Tans from Ireland). As a member of the Women’s Peace Committee, she acted as a mediator during the civil war. In 1925 she was appointed to an Irish Trade Union Congress (ITUC) committee to promote a scheme of working-class education with the assistance of the labour movement; her interest in adult education later led to her involvement with the People’s College. A member of the national executive of the ITUC (1927–32,1944–50), she became the first female president of the congress in 1932; she served a second presidential term in 1947. Her knowledge of labour issues was officially acknowledged by the Irish government in 1932, when she was sent as a representative to Geneva to put forward the case of Irish women workers. In 1938 she delivered a paper entitled ‘Industrialism in an agrarian country’ to the International Relations Institute in the Netherlands.
Despite the depth of her involvement with the union movement she had ambitions outside trade unionism, and in 1938 she let her name be put forward by the IWWU as a congress candidate for election to the senate, but this came to nothing. In that year she was appointed to the government commission on vocational organisation (1938–43). In 1943 she was elected as a Labour Party member of the Dun Laoghaire borough council; as a councillor she consistently lobbied for improved housing and was instrumental in the establishment of Dún Laoghaire’s housing council in 1949. She had refused a labour nomination in the 1918 general election, but she stood for Dublin county counciland the dáil in 1944, in both cases unsuccessfully. Shewas the only Labour Party member to criticise the party’s support for the Fianna Fáil minority government of 1932, arguing that it is ‘never right or wise to co-operate with another party with fundamentally different principles’.As an elected member of the Labour Party executive she represented Ireland at the International Labour Organization in Europe. She was also a representative at the League of Nations. Throughout her public career Bennett consistently condemned colonialism, fascism, and armaments expenditure. She is possibly best remembered for her leadership in the laundry workers’ strike of 1945, during which IWWU members successfully fought for a fortnight’s paid holiday. Her management of the IWWU, which lasted until 1955, was marked by determination and diplomacy, though she often used threatened resignations as a means of controlling her colleagues. She died, unmarried, 25 November 1956 in Killiney, Co. Dublin.
Sources:R. M. Fox, Louie Bennett: her life and times (1955); J. Anthony Gaughan, Thomas Johnston (1980); Rosemary Cullen Owens, Smashing times: a history of the Irish women’s suffrage movement, 1889–1922 (1984); Ellen Hazelthorn, ‘The social and political views of Louie Bennett’, Saothar, xiii(1988); Mary Jones, These obstreperous lassies: a history of the IWWU(1988); Cliona Murphy, The women’s suffrage movement and Irish society inthe early twentieth century (1988); Donal Nevin, Trade union century (1994)
The final entry is: Margaret Buckley by Frances Clarke Buckley
(Goulding), Margaret (‘Maggie’; ‘Margaret Lee’) (1879–1962), republican, trade unionist, and writer, was born in July 1879, at Winter’s Hill, Cork, the eldest daughter of James Goulding and his wife Ellen (née Joyce), both of Cork. Her father, who was employed as a labourer at the time of her birth, later worked as a railway porter and then as a railway inspector. Her family were supporters of Parnell. As a young woman she worked as a teacher. She was active in Cork musical and cultural circles, participating in local choral and operatic societies, and in the Gaelic League. She became politically active through her involvement in the Cork Celtic Literary Society, founded by Terence MacSwiney in 1901. She joined the Cork branch of Inghinidhe na hÉireann, serving initially as its assistant honorary secretary and later as its president. As an Inghinidhe activist she campaigned for the establishment of the Irish Industrial Development Society, and she was among those who in 1904 organised protests against Edward VII’s visit to the city. Following her marriage in June 1906 to Patrick Buckley, a civil servant in the revenue commissioners, she moved to Glasnevin, Dublin, where she lived for the remainder of her life. It was in Dublin that she first became involved in the trade union movement. As secretary of the Irish branch of the Women’s Federation, she was eager to see the union distance itself from its British roots, while keeping its independence from male-dominated Irish unions. With this in mind she sought talks with the Irish Women Workers’ Union (IWWU) in 1919. This resulted in her appointment as an IWWU official, with responsibility for the semi-autonomous Domestic Workers’ Union. In 1920 she opened its offices in North Great George’s St., and began a campaign for ‘good wages, fair conditions, to secure good service’. As she was an outsider, her appointment as an IWWU official initially caused some resentment within the union but this was soon laid to rest by the significant contribution she made to the union movement. Buckley was in Cork at Easter 1916; after the rising she joined Sinn Féin and was an active member of the Michael O’Hanrahan cumann in north Dublin. She regularly travelled the country organising and liaising with fellow Sinn Féin activists and, on occasion, came close to arrest. She was appointed as a judge of the republican courts, and served alongside Kathleen Clarke and Jenny Wyse Power in Dublin’s north city courts, of which she also served as treasurer.
An opponent of the treaty and active member of the Women’s Prisoners’ Defence League, at whose meetings she often spoke, she was interned in Mountjoy jail in January 1923. Following periods of imprisonment at the North Dublin Union and Kilmainham jail, she was released in October 1923. Her prison experiences provided the material for her book The jangle of the keys (1926).After the formation of Fianna Fáil, she represented Dublin at the Sinn Féin ard fheis in 1926. She was among those who joined Comhairle na Poblachta in 1929 in an effort to reconcile the various conflicting republican groupings. Having served as vice-president of Sinn Féin, she was appointed president in 1937. In this role she criticised the 1937 constitution of Éamon de Valera, in particular because it treated ‘the women of the country as though they were half-wits’. Following her retirement as president of Sinn Féin in 1950, she remained a member of the organisation’s standing committee. She retired as a trade union official in the late 1950s. Under the pseudonym Margaret Lee she wrote articles and stories, and in 1956 she published a short history of Sinn Féin. She brought up her nephew Séamus Ó Goilidhe after the death of his mother in 1925. She died 24 July 1962 at her home in Marguerite Road, Glasnevin, Dublin, and was buried at St Finbar’s cemetery, Cork. ————————————-
Sources: GRO; NAI, census returns, 1901; United Irishman, 18 Apr. 1903; Margaret Buckley, The jangle of the keys (1938); United Irishman (Dec. 1950); (Apr.–June 1951); (Jan. 1952); obituary, Irish Press, 25 July 1962; Margaret Ward, Unmanageable revolutionaries: women and Irish nationalism (1983); Mary Jones, These obstreperous lassies: a history of the IWWU (1988); Kathleen Clarke, Revolutionary woman: Kathleen Clarke, 1878–1972, ed. Helen Litton (1991); Uinseann MacEoin, The IRA in the twilight years, 1923–1948 (1997)