Posts Tagged ‘ Michael Collins ’

A Year in Brief: Part Two


Part two of NIB’s yearly round-up because 2013 was just too good! (Read part one here).

Dublin’s new bridge, crossing the Liffey at Marlborough Street and connecting Luas lines on each side of the river, was on the lookout for a name. A list of 85 possibilities was suggested by the public which was then shortlisted by Dublin City Council to 17. Some suggestions in a comments thread on The Times website included: Bosco Bridge; Daniel Day Luas Bridge (nice); Da Plain People O’Ireland Bridge; Jedward Bridge; and NIB favourite, the Feckin’ Bridge. Continue reading

News in Brief : National Hero At The Centre Of Langer Row

guiForgive NIB for thinking Arthur’s Day in all its Guinnessy glory was over for another year last Thursday. Seems we were wrong.

The celebrations haven’t stopped in Kildare. A statue of the man himself has been unveiled to celebrate the first thirty years of his life spent in Celbridge. Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan was at the event declaring the Diageo name, sorry Guinness name, was known around the world and he hoped the statue would encourage people to drink more Guinness, sorry, visit the town. Although it’s Leixlip that claims the birthplace of the actual black stuff as that is where the first brewery, owned by Diageo, sorry Arthur, was established.*

Apparently Health Minister, and NIB favourite, James Reilly, wants the country to be tobacco free by 2025. Or at least that’s what his smiling face on the advertising says. Behind the scenes it’s highly unlikely the government would outlaw one of the biggest revenue earners and key tool in keeping the masses in hand. More likely is Ireland will become tobacco free, but we’ll all be addicted to million euro gold cigarillos made of ground up unicorn horns. Continue reading

Sights Set On Breaking Cork Dominance As Under 19’s Fixtures Released

loiThe fixtures for the 2013-14 Airtricity U19 League Elite Division have been published and games will commence on the weekend of Sunday, August 18.  The fixtures for the Northern and Southern Divisions will be released next week.

The Under 19’s league does not get the coverage the league deserves but it continues to thrive.

Shamrock Rovers Under 19’s begin their league season with a home tie against St.Patrick’s Athletic Under 19’s on Sunday, August 18th. Continue reading

Remembering Michael Collins

August 22nd 1922, Béal na mBláth, County Cork. The escort carrying the Free State army Commander-in-Chief came under fire from Irregular troops. Instead of moving on or transferring their Chief to the armoured car they were ordered to stop and return fire. Michael Collins, who had fought alongside Padraig Pearse inside the GPO, who masterminded a successful intelligence war against Dublin Castle during the War of Independence, and who joined Arthur Griffith in negotiating the first ever treaty of peace between Ireland and England, was shot dead while exchanging rifle fire, killed by his fellow Irishmen before his time, before he could fulfil his vision for free Ireland.

We could certainly do with him today. In a time when Ireland has been humiliated financially and in many other ways, a charismatic figure like Collins, with his unearthly work ethic, financial acumen and a great love for his country to the point of self-sacrifice, would be of boundless help to us. Gone are the days when one’s life was put at risk for Ireland, now claiming expenses and trips abroad seem to be top of the list. Where one time Irish people risked imprisonment and death to participate in a once illegal Dáil Éireann, today they make excuses concerning why they cannot attend, and often find more ‘important’ things to be doing.

Collins was a man far ahead of his time, and certainly underappreciated by many of those who surrounded the Corkman. Confident to an extreme from a young age, he started work with Royal Mail, before moving to London in 1910 where he worked as a messenger for a company of stockbrokers. It was also in London the young Collins joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). Collins’ financial abilities didn’t go unnoticed and he was soon put to work as financial advisor to Count Plunkett, father to one of the Rising’s organisers, Joseph Plunkett. And it was his shoulders, several years down the line, on which the burden of organisation of the National Loan fell, after he had been made finance minister in 1919. Despite the responsibility of running the war, maintaining his intelligence units and looking after his people and their families, all the time cheerfully evading the British who scoured the city and country looking for him, not one person gave money and didn’t receive a receipt. Collins had a sharp eye for detail and a dislike of wasting energy, a moment not spent doing something constructive was a moment ill spent in his book.

And unlike many politicians today it sometimes seems, Collins understood the need for both the support of the nation and its people, and the importance of allowing the populace to make the most important decisions. Without the monetary support of Irish people at home and abroad, the loan would never have come into existence and the IRA would have been armed with hurleys and a prayer. And for the flying columns whose job it was to strike the enemy quickly and melt back into the countryside, the support of the locals was of far more importance than anything else – locals who fed and sheltered them from the British army and a certain death. Following the ratification of the Treaty in the Dáil, Collins was adamant that the people must be the ones to decide on its acceptance or dismissal, and would follow them either way. They accepted it, as did he, though many didn’t, and thus began the Civil War as the Dáil and the IRA split in two, and the rest, as they say, is history.

There is plenty more that could be said about Collins, his activities and his personality. I could talk and write for hours about his victories, his plans, his friendships and enemies and his dreams for Ireland. But many pages in many books have already been devoted to those topics. So all I will say is this – Michael Collins, you are sorely missed.

A Lost History Pieced Together

Records destroyed in a fire at the Four Courts nearly a century ago, and believed to be lost to the world have been reconstructed, the result of almost four decades of work by historians at Trinity College Dublin. The documents, from the medieval Chancery of Ireland have been made available to the public through a web project – CIRCLE: a Calendar of Irish Chancery Letters c. 1244-1509. A paper database of all references to known Chancery letters was established early on and using substitute sources from around the world, in combination with a keystone, the 1828 Latin Calender published by the record commissioners and containing a guide to the contents of original chancery rolls. The Chancery in Ireland was established soon after the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1169 and issued letters in the King’s name, bearing the seal of Ireland. Copies of these letters were transcribed onto parchment known as chancery rolls and stored away. However in 1922, a blaze whose cause is still unknown destroyed the records, which were thought to be lost forever.

Between the 28th of June and July 5th, a week of street fighting raged throughout the Irish capital. Furious at the acceptance of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, recently ratified by Dáil Éireann, around 200 anti-Treaty IRA members occupied the Four Courts in Dublin on the 14th of April, led by Rory O’Connor. Thousands of British troops remained in the city, awaiting evacuation under the terms of the Treaty. O’Connor and his Irregular (as they were also known) followers wished to reignite the conflict with the British thereby reuniting both factions of the IRA (which had split over the Treaty), going on to fight for a 32 county Republic.

However, those who occupied the Four Courts had miscalculated. If those leaders at the helm were to transform the Free State into a true and self-governing state, then it was they who had to shoulder the responsibility of putting down the rebellion. The death of Sir Henry Wilson in London at the hands of two IRA men on the 22nd of June brought British pressure to bear on the provisional Irish government to take action against the garrison in the Four Courts. Four days later, Free State General J.J. O’Connell was kidnapped by the anti-Treaty troops at the Four Courts and it was decided to move against the agitators. An offer of weapons support by Winston Churchill was accepted by Michael Collins and two 18 pounder field guns were placed across the Liffey from the Four Courts. After one final ultimatum, the bombardment began on the 28th. Between Free State troops attacks and the incessant shelling, the Irregulars began losing men to injury, death and arrest. Early on the 30th, Ernie O’Malley had taken command of the Four Courts following Paddy O’Brien’s shrapnel injury. Word filtered through from Oscar Traynor, the anti-Treaty IRA commander in Dublin, that he couldn’t reach their position to assist, and ordered the garrison there to surrender. At 3.30pm, O’Malley officially surrendered to Brigadier General Paddy Daly of the Free State Dublin Guard.

By this stage, the Four Courts was ablaze. Several hours prior to the surrender, between 11am and 3pm, the Irish Public Records Office, located in the western block of the Four Courts, was destroyed. The office, which had been in use by the Irregulars as an ammunitions store was part of a huge explosion and a thousand years of Irish history was turned to ash, scattered by the wind across the Dublin skyline. Accusations have flown around regarding the cause of the explosion and the subsequent destruction. In fortifying the Four Courts before the bombardment began, the anti-Treaty forces mined the complex. It has been alleged by some that the Public Records Office was also deliberately booby-trapped, causing the explosion. Seán Lemass, future Taoiseach, among other anti-Treaty supporters, vehemently denied this. The insurgents maintained it was Free State shelling which ultimately destroyed the priceless archive.

Following the clearing of O’Connell Street, victory in Dublin meant that the Free State army could move out around the country, and crushed resistance by anti-Treaty forces. Major towns were taken and even the use of guerrilla warfare, so effective when presided over by Michael Collins, could not save the Republican side. By early 1923, the anti-Treaty IRA’s capability to launch offensive operations was seriously damaged. Republican Liam Deasy called on his compatriots to lay down their arms and when Liam Lynch, the IRA leader, was killed in action and replaced by the more realist Frank Aiken, the 30th of April saw a ceasefire and the ending of Civil War.

The effects of the Irish Civil War have resonated through the decades in Ireland and not just in terms of our records and history. The death of Michael Collins not only cost Ireland an invaluable and promising leader, but it also ensured hostilities between both sides sharpened, and bitterly. With all of the damage caused by the Civil War, the fledgling state ended 1923 with a budget deficit of £4 million. Being unable to pay their share of Imperial debt as per the Treaty led to an adverse effect on the Boundary Commission of 1924, which left the border unchanged, instead of reducing its size as promised, weakening the North and making a union with the South inevitable. And a bitterness has resided in Ireland since the early 1920s. Families and localities during the Civil War were often divided by their loyalties to the Free State or the Irregulars, and those decisions were carried for decades. Up until last year, the two biggest parties in the country were Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, direct descendants of the two warring forces during the Civil War. Politicians during the following four or five decades were more often than not veterans of the conflict. And when their children entered the political arena, a second and third generation of bitterness continued to permeate the Irish political landscape. While in the North, no one can deny the impact of the IRA up there, who could claim ancestry to the breakaway anti-Treaty IRA of the 1920s and who dedicated themselves to ridding Northern Ireland of British rule in 1948.

Political fighting, deep and bitter, has been a hallmark of Ireland since we won our independence all those decades ago. And the years that have passed by since then have seen little change. Had the country seen a unified stance on the Treaty, in recognition of the bigger picture, things might be very different today. Some lessons, it seems, are never learned.

News in Brief-Meteors Adorn Irish Sky As Jedward’s Long Lost Triplet Emerges

Instead of meteors the entire night, try, we watched meteors the entire night. On Saturday, the Earth will move into the path of debris left behind by Comet Thatcher (the same Thatcher debris England has been left in?). The meteor shower should be clearest from Saturday night through to Sunday morning when we may be able to see meteors every three minutes.
Astronomy Ireland are encouraging people to go outside to look for the meteors but representative David Moore has warned large pieces of the debris can enter the atmosphere flaring up like “fireballs – these can often land on the ground!”
This must be where the third Jedward came from. A third Jedward! Jevin? Kedjward? Who knows and who knew? The third Grimes is a twenty-one year old law student who donned appropriate matching attire to attend the American Pie reunion premier in Dublin this week. Is this the final frontier? How many more Grimes brothers may emerge from the Jedward dream world or in fact space?
Back in Ireland we can only hope the suggestion of a new water tax is a joke. After the complete failure of the household tax, it’s not clear who exactly the Dáil think will pay an added four hundred euro for the privilege of a water tap. Communal taxing doesn’t sit well with most as a desperate attempt to recoup money spent by so few.
The Dáil have also announced plans to install oxygen meters into homes as part of the air-tax. The meters will be installed for free! Now that is a joke.
People in Cork are to get a bite of the giant Apple, the technology company – rather than a ‘James and the Giant’ type situation – Apple will create 500 jobs over the next eighteen months as their base in Cork expands.
The Holyhill branch was the first Apple base to open outside the US back in the 1980s before production was outsourced. Now it seems Cork will have another piece of the Apple pie.
Michael Collins’ cotton wool – used to clean his face after he had been killed – has been withdrawn from auction after outcry from Collins’ descendants and anyone that found the idea (dead man germs) frankly disgusting. The current owner has now presumably been forced into a cave till they have recovered from their embarrassment at trying to make a profit from such an item. 
The owner claims they had previously sort a home for the `artefact` in numerous museums but unsurprisingly none of them wanted the swab. They had then tried to sell it, the owner justified, to guarantee it went to an `interested party`. A lock of his hair (even more dead man germs?) Has now also been recalled from sale and will go to the National Museum. One can only hope replicas will not be sold in the gift shop, what ever happened to novelty pencils?

Scenes of Irish Childhood in Temple Bar, Dublin

After writing about the Dublin Airport’s contemporary photograph exhibition before the Christmas break, I want to follow up with a piece about an exhibition of historic photographs at the National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar. I am rather late in catching up with this one (it opened in August) but as it will run until June 2012, there is still plenty of time to go and see it. I happened on the exhibition by accident over the New Year holiday and spent a happy hour browsing the images.

The exhibition is entitled Small Lives – Photographs of Irish Childhood 1880 -1970 and the curators have assembled it from just a small part of the photographic holdings of the National Library of Ireland (NLI). The NLI has a mind boggling 630,000 photographs in its archive. The selected images give a picture (pun intended) of children’s lives in Ireland over a period of great social, economic and political change.

There are children rich and poor, at work and at play from all over Ireland. One of the interesting aspects of this exhibition is the changes in photographic technology over the period covered. In the earlier pictures the children had to hold a pose while the picture was taken and so the shots have an understandable formality about them. It would also have been quite an occasion to have your photograph taken back in the 1890s. Something that we think nothing of nowadays would have been quite an undertaking.

Though the images go up to 1970, I think the earlier pictures are the most fascinating and instructive. One of the unmistakable facts that the visitor to the exhibition sees is the vast gulf that existed between the ‘haves and the have-nots’ in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Children of wealthier parents are seen at leisure whereas working class children are shown in workshops learning a trade under harsh conditions. Photographs of barefoot children in rough clothes contrast with views of elegantly dressed youngsters assembled for the camera.

There are carefree scenes on beaches and in the countryside however, where children played games whatever their social status. I particularly liked a shot of a couple of girls paddling in the sea with their cumbersome skirts tucked up out of the way. Another reminder of how much things have changed in ninety years. From the same era, there is a family portrait where the young brother and sister both wore long hair and frilled dresses as was then the custom. No pink for a girl and blue for a boy in those days.

From a social history point of view, the exhibition is interesting as it shows children participating in a range of social activities such as religious events and festivals, playing games, working at a trade or learning in the classroom. There is even a shot of children solemnly marching in Michael Collins’ funeral procession.

The exhibition is well worth a visit and not just for simple nostalgic reasons. It is worth bearing in mind as you look at some of the pictures that children’s lives have changed immeasurably since 1880. Many children had very tough lives unless they were cushioned by a more elevated social position. Maybe today’s children should take a look at what life was like before twenty-first century comforts and digital television.

Until June 2011, National Photographic Archive, Temple Bar