As I posted earlier this is my late mothers birthday
Naturally on such a day I would be thinking about her and her life. It was a life of dedication to her country and her family.
As I was thinking off her this came to mind.
My mother was never one to seek publicity or any public acknowledgement for the things she did both as A young girl or as a mother, when the call was made to step up to play her part in Ireland’s struggle for freedom that was something she knew she had to do, and it was also something her mother and father did without thought, in fact her father died in the early 20th century (1915) after an assault by the RIC as he led a strike of the low dockers in Belfast, and was closely connected to James Connolly during that period of Irish history.
That tradition was to continue for the rest off her life until she died in 1983.
There was one incident that I have a clear memory off and it was 1957 as my two elder brothers were in Crumlin road jail Billy was interned and John was sentenced to 8 years as a political prisoner
A person came to our house one Friday night he was on a little moped thing wore kid leather gloves at the time I did not get his name, but it turned out be one of the Cahill family from the Falls Road and he had come to offer what was called the prisoner dependants fund (PDF ) money, I don’t know the amount involved but whatever it was my mother and father refused it and asked the person to leave “saying that we dont want your money and please do not come back.”
At that time we were feeding half the jail with their weekly fruit parcels, but I think there was more to it than that, as one of our close friends was Harry Cordner who was with Joe Cahill and Tom Williams in the condemned cell for the shooting of a RUC officer in the Clonard area of west Belfast, as there was some comments about that and how Tom Williams was to be hanged for this event, but in any event west Belfast so called republicans where not welcome in our house.
That brings me to the real reason for this post. As my mother was being laid to rest she had a large funeral from St Patricks church in Donegal street and over Mill Field to Davis street and up the Falls road to the cemetery.
It was on our way back down the Falls Road from the cemetery that my brother Billy ran into Gerry Adams who passed the comments that he never knew that my mother was a republican !!
Billy then told him that republicans don’t all live on the Falls road and it took men like him and my brother John from North Belfast to organise the defence the Falls road in 1969 as he and his friends sat in the long bar in Lesson street as homes where being burned out and people killed
(above left my mother sitting and Winnie Carney standing this photo was taken after my mothers wedding.
This is my late mother, Margaret McGuinness Kelly, born 4th January 1904 to William McGuinness and Mary McClean who both were founding members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union in Belfast along with her mother’s (my grandmother) brother Alfie McClean who was to become the General Secretary of the Belfast branch of the union and James Connolly’s election agent when he stood for election in 1907/1911 in the dock ward for Belfast corporation. It was at this time that my mother met with Winnie Carney and formed a friendship that was to last a lifetime, Winnie was an assistant to James Connolly and was later to become his secretary and accompanied him in the GPO during the 1916 rising .
As time progressed into the 1913 to 1926 period her mother joined Cumman Na mBan and my grandfather William McGuinness was murdered by the RIC as he led a strike by Belfast dockers 1915, my grandmother who rose as far as I know to Officer Commanding Belfast. This brought her into contact with Countess Markievicz, Sir John Lavery, Lady Gregory, and other’s. It was in these years that my mother was to meet Joe McKelvey around 1918 and they were to become as they say ‘good friends’. Joe was later to become leader of the IRA in Belfast during the war of independence which he survived. After the treaty Joe took the republican side and was later murdered by the Free State forces when he was taken from his cell in Mountjoy Jail and murdered. They also shot Rory O’Connor, Dick Barton and Liam Mellows as an act of revenge for the attack by republicans on Kevin O’Higgins who was Justice Minister of the Free State, who had a lot of republican blood on his hands. After the civil war and the murder of Joe McKelvey she continued her involvement with Sinn Fein.
In 1926 Eamon de Valera stood as a Sinn Fein candidate and as the Sinn Fein party which was banned in Northern Ireland he was arrested charged and sentenced to 3 months in jail. It was my grandmother and mother who were designated to look after Dev while he was in jail i.e. his washing and food requirements. This was done before the founding of Fianna Fail which was to become the final hammer blow to any chance of getting changes to the treaty.
It was also in this period that she lost her father who while leading a strike by low docks workers they were attacked by the RIC and he was killed, leaving my grandmother with 3 sons William, James and John,plus my mother who was the youngest and was very close to her.
As my mother and grandmother got older and the demise of Sinn Fein took hold and as a small family needed to be reared, my mother made contact with her grandfather McGuinness who lived in Portaferry, Co Down who in turn introduced her to farmers in the area providing the seed money, enabling herself and her mother set up a small wholesale /retail green grocery business in Belfast Market (which she and my father continued to operate right up to 1970)
Around 1930 she met my father John Kelly. At that time he was working in the Irish News, they got married in 1933. They went on to have 9 children, whom they educated to the highest standards 2 teaching nuns, 2 engineers, a cost accountant, a solicitor, a nurse, my oldest sister and I both at separate times worked in the business, you can see from this that there was not much left at the end of the week for luxuries but we never went without anything.
This continued right through my younger years up to 1956 when everything for me and my brothers and sisters changed. My oldest sister had emigrated to Canada where her husband Art Gibson who got a job as a ships engineer working in the Arctic Circle, My other two sisters had entered into the convent to become nuns which both of them did and became teachers. That left John, Billy, Rita , Jimmy, Oliver and myself at home. But things were to change and change utterly, the hunger for justice, equality and freedom was once again to raise its head in our house and once again it was to take precedence, once again my mother was to step up to the plate.
It was a cold December 1956 and our home in Adela Street off the Antrim Road was raided by the B Specials and the RUC, John had been arrested in a place called Dunamanagh between Dungiven and Strabane along with 2 other members of his IRA flying column John Madden from Cork City and David Lewsley from Lurgan Co Armagh. All three were charged with arms offences and membership of the IRA and sentenced to 8 years in prison.
About two weeks later my other brother Billy was also arrested and interned for 4 years.
This was to be the start of a 8 yr period of providing care to the republican prisoners from the country and the Free State of which there was quite few. This involved providing them with their fruit parcel every week plus she would have made up a salad every Saturday consisting of either salmon or beef which would have been cooked on the Friday night with the scallions and other greens made ready on the Saturday morning along with a large block of cheese I don’t know how many it catered for but she was always assured that it was the highlight of the week for the prisoners. At this time our house was an open door to all relatives who where visiting their sons and brothers and many of those coming from Dublin, Cork, Kerry would have stayed at our home, some of them for a week at a time, all of this was done in my mothers quiet way and very few outside our home would have known about it
This work continued right up to 1964 when John was released, as i think he and John Madden were the last to be released
A kind of normal returned our house but that was not to last too long as 1969 bore down on us, once again she had to step up to the plate
As John was the leader of the Citizens Defence Committees in Belfast our home once again became the nerve centre with all of the worlds press descending on us along with the various Fianna Fail politicians right up to Paddy Hillary who was at that time Minister of Foreign Affairs. Based on the information provided to us at that time we all felt that as the world’s press was watching the British and the Unionist by exposing the various types of victimisation being imposed on the nationalist community that things were going to change and that Lynch and his government were going to help by providing the guns and training for nationalists to enable us to defend our community from further attacks as the talks process was to take place between the British and the Irish governments which would lead to the end of the Orange state of Northern Ireland and pave the way to a united Ireland
While all this was going on my father and mother tried to keep our business on the go but even that was to be destroyed in may 1970 when out of the blue Lynch and his free state Fianna Fail government ordered the arrest of john, Charles Haughey( MINISTER OF FINANCE IN HIS GOVERNMENT) Capt James Kelly Irish Army intelligence, Neil Blaney also a minister in his government along with a Irish/Belgian business man who was a close friend of Neil Blaneys. All were charged with trying to import guns and ammunition for the north and brought to trial but found not guilty by a jury of 12 people and all charges dismissed.
The result of this on our family was devastating, our business was destroyed and in November of that year my father was found dead in the yard of our home after he suffered a fatal heart attack which we all felt was brought on by the actions of Jack Lynch and the Free State. Once again the person she loved was taken from her by the actions of the free state government, first Joe McKelvey and now her husband for whom she bore 9 children
As time went on and the provisional IRA was formed by John and Billy along with others lots of members of what was to become the IRA were frequent visitors to our home at which time she would drown them in holy water and the rosary as they left the house it became a standing joke around the place .
Then came internment and the war really got hot. Oliver ( (a qualified solicitor) was interned and the rest of us were on the run or helping in any way we could but she kept helping out in anyway she could, it was in the blood and her hunger for justice and an end of the orange state was ever strong.
The first attempt on her life was in 1975. I had just been arrested in her home and was charged, 3 weeks after that while i was on remand a Unionist murder gang supported by the UDR /RUC/ British Army blew up our home in an attempt to murder her. It failed as they left the front door of the house open and the bomb blew away from her out onto the road instead of into the house but enough damage was done to the house that it had to be knocked down. Luckily my older sister had just returned from the US and had bought a house near by and she was able to quickly get back into another house.
As interment was over and things started to settle down for her and as she was at this time a woman of age she became less involved but then came the hunger strikes. It was at this time that the UVF/British struck again as she was walking to Mass she stopped to speak to her son my brother Billy as he was manning a hunger strike cadge they pulled up in a motorbike and they where attempting to murder Billy she got in front of them they shot her 5 times but she survived for a further 2 years, as one of the bullets they could not remove, shifted and entered her pancreas which ruptured, she died in the Mater hospital Belfast on the 13rd of April 1983 surrounded by all her children.
Due to her relationship with the Belfast Mater Hospital, the nuns requested that we lay her out in state in the hospital chapel overlooked by the nuns. It was a great honour for our family, and we will always be grateful to the Mercy Order of nuns. For me, a true mother of Ireland — strong, quiet, loyal. No talk, just get on with it; and she did until the day she died.
In conclusion as I reflect on my mother and her life I realise just how lucky I am to be her son and to have inherited her commitment to helping others less well off and to have an inherent love of Ireland and its people .
As I enter my own twilight years I think of my own mortality , the one thing I know for sure is that when its my time to leave this world it will be her standing at the door as she did when I was a child calling me home
thank you mother for your guidance and your protection in my life
Rest in peace your loving son
You know we Irish have faced the use of evictions as a punishment against its people for over 180 years when British landlords put people on the country path and caused over 2 million people, men, women and children to die of starvation or emigrate to far off places never to return, an event that was to haunt the Irish nation up to this day. At that time Ireland was a subservient state to the British establishment and its elites of lord this, baron that and Sir this and that , they held all the cards and we the Irish were the peasants and the dirt on which they walked, backed up by an army of red coats and blue coats and whatever your wearing yourself coats, that were used to plunder their crops especially corn, wheat, livestock. All of the small landholders were Irish catholic tenants of the elites, but as the potato crops had failed those years due to blight and as the landlords wanted these produce they rose the rent to a point that tenants could not pay them, they then evicted them, raped and murdered anyone Irish and catholic. There are still families in Ireland as their grandfathers /mothers reminisce about those times or when long lost cousins turn up on the doorstep to enquire about their roots and hear the stories of the American Wakes at the home or crossroads before they had to leave their homeland and unlikely to ever return. these were days we wished were in the past, but going by the events of the past 8 years when our so-called government handed the people of Ireland a 200e billion bill to bail out these banks that were broke because they went on a loan-giving spree to people they knew could not repay the loans.
We the Irish people were led to believe at the time of the bank bailout that this was to cover any losses at the banks and we would be repaid over a period of time, so what we thought was this would avoid people losing their homes but that was not how it all worked out, we the people of Ireland are still the peasants but the government and the banks are now the landlords, THE ELITES!!! Different times but the same story as in the 1800s
It would now seem that the state and their security services are now the coats of many colours but especially the ones in blue who are now the facilitators of this brutality against their own people. A brutality it is alleged was carried out by northern protestant paramilitaries, i.e. the UDA and/or the UVF, either way it was permitted by the Gardai who now claim that it was an order of the court, but I can be sure of one thing the courts did not approve of a 5 am visit from a gang of loyalists to brutalise and assault a family of elderly people in County Roscommon, but the Garda did !! as they blocked off the roads leading to the farmhouse and then looked on as people were assaulted by this gang of loyalist thugs.
All of this behaviour brings back memories of how these loyalist thugs burned out and forced the eviction of over 3000 catholic homes in Belfast 1969, but as these actions led to the creation of the Provisional IRA to defend our communities and homes but once again the blue shirts of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael turned their backs on the Irish population of the six counties and supported and defended the loyalists and their action, actions which were fully supported by the British government of the day. Now its the turn of the republic to see first hand what your Government and Gardai are capable of.
This proves to me that Irish People and their rights are expendable to the loyalists and the Banks,
(AS A FIANNIA FAIL LEADER ONCE SAID WE WILL NOT STAND IDLY BY )
WELL THIS TIME THEY HAVE AND WILL DO AGAIN AS LOYALIST ONCE AGAIN THREATEN OUR PEOPLE BUT NOT IN THE NORTH, BUT IN YOUR SOVEREIGN STATE, THE SO CALLED REPUBLIC OF IRELAND WHICH IS NOT THE IRELAND WHERE THOUSANDS OF OUR PEOPLE DIED AND SACRIFICED FOR
TIME TO CALL A HALT
At this time a rubicon has been crossed by the West British Fianna Fail / Fine Gael and these vulture fund companies and the banks.
All have raped and plundered our country of our national assets (oil, gas and our money which has destroyed our country as 1/2 a million of our brightest young people take to the skies and boats in search of a better future ), Just as the British did in the 1800s
SAME RESULT JUST DIFFERENT PEOPLE. THIS TIME ITS OUR OWN PEOPLE RAPING THEIR OWN PEOPLE TO SATISFY THE GREED OF THE POLITICAL CLASS AND THE BANKS, THE THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY ELITES .
Ray Burke TD, Fianna Fail Minister who gave away our gas to Shell worth billions. They have since sold it at a profit, but we are still stuck with all the tax breaks and subsidies given by Burke
Brian Cowen Fianna Fail Minister
As the country went on a spending spree so did he as Minister of Finance. He allowed the banks to do as they wished, he later dismissed the bank regulatory person with a big payout as he covered up what really went on in the banks and especially the Anglo Irish Bank. Not one person has seen the inside of a prison cell except a few order takers in Anglo Irish Banks
Last but not least the real architect of the bank crash and the bankruptcy of Ireland. As he lived the high life of Prime Minister, Dublin and Ireland burned because of his own political ambitions.
And therein lies the destruction of the Irish nation, Ego, Drink, Greed.
It takes time to get your head around why a country wants to walk away from a market of 500 million people across 27 nations to pursue an unidentifiable future, unless of course you happen to be a little Britten who still thinks that Britannia will once again rule the waves, or Boris Johnson and his crew who think they are the Donald Duck Trump of Britain and think they can make Britain great again brigade.
So I have to ask myself where in the name of sanity did these people get their education, only to discover that they are all from families of the British elite, mostly educated at Oxford or Cambridge and in many cases are straight out of the officer class of the British Army, Navy, or Air Force – you know the type, stick their heads in the air and hold their noses as they walk past the poor, the people that they have condemned to a state of poverty as they move their assets overseas and to Europe.
Now it is none of my business if the British wish to be satisfied with the crumbs from their tables, that is their choice. But this is not the choice of the people of Northern Ireland or Scotland who voted to remain within the European family nations where justice and equality and freedom for all 27 members is the corner stone of their policy.
So why does it concern me? that question is easy answered, its a thing called the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) which has brought peace to the island of Ireland where a 40 year war was fought by the Nationalist / Republican people of Northern Ireland to remove the cancer of the British from our land. In that war over 3,000 people died and 1000’s more suffered mental health problems, serious injuries, marriages destroyed and families broken. But the GFA brought all that to an end as the border between the northern statelet of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was removed which meant that we had / have an all Ireland economy and no physical border on the Island which made the possibility of an all Ireland unitary state by peaceful means and a border poll where the vote will be held every 7 years which is controlled by the British (who to date have denied the northern people that choice), possible because of the British and Irish membership of the European Union.
So for us Irish who live on this small island this is a disaster of huge proportions, and is a threat to our peace and prosperity like nothing ever did in the past. Even though the GFA is an International Agreement and is lodged as such in the United Nations in New York, the British now seem to be intent on ripping it up. What I saw on television today they now intend to reinstate a physical border once again on the island of Ireland to satisfy the so called Democratic Unionist Party, even though they only represent 32% of the Northern Irish people and that 54% of all who voted in the British referendum voted to remain in the European Union. This is /was a democratic vote under the supervision of the British which they now ignore, mind you it is not the first time the British ignored the democratic wishes of the Irish people (1918 Ireland voted in a British general election for independence from Britain which they ignored). It was 4 years after that and a war for independence in which 1000’s of people died that once again the British partitioned Ireland by giving the six north eastern counties to an orange order Protestant state for a Protestant people and Catholics need not apply. That state is now called Northern Ireland where the Irish community who live there are now British subjects, a title they reject as they are Irish in their own land, all be it a part which is under illegal British rule. All of this led to a continuous spate of unrest against this state, so this is one of my questions, are we now on the way back to the future, at the wimp of a government who treat the Irish people and nation as some kind of slaves who have to jump to their wishes? !!!
As there are many other reasons why we Irish want to remain in the European Union and one of them is food standards across the Union, I would like to explain where I am coming from. A couple of years ago I went into my local Tesco, it was the middle of Summer and I wanted to buy some salad/veg so I picked up an iceberg lettuce, it was from Holland, but the scallions were from Kenya. Now remember it was the middle of Summer when our own greens would be plentiful and available, so I put them back and left in the knowledge that our farmers produce would be in some other supermarket, so I went to my local Lidl and to my surprise what did I find, 90% of all veg on the shelves was Irish and presented to the highest standards and most important it was fresh. Then I found that 100% of all meats, chicken and ham/pork, potatoes etc were all Irish north and south, and no border to delay its delivery to the supermarket with less travel and none of whatever it is that is sprayed on goods from overseas to maintain its so called freshness.
I also found the same standards in ALDI, Supervalu and Dunnes Stores. Freshness and quality produce produced to European standards for food by Irish farming families without breaking the rules. As I continued to do my weekly shop the one thing that pleased me was the knowledge that all the goods I bought that was produced within the European Union had to meet certain standards as per the EU rules which gave me a sense of security and quality.
Above are a few products which I buy from Aldi, Lidl, Dunnes Stores and Supervalu. All are produced within the EU and all to the same standards and at fair prices which the working family can afford. There are other reasons that need to be considered here, these companies all buy other products and fresh foods for their shops across Europe which sustains more jobs for rural Ireland and this business is continuing to build across Ireland. All of this progress has been made in the last 20 years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed and put into action, an action which has greatly benefited all the people on this island, all of which is now at risk because of a few people in the British parliament who wish to, in my mind to disrupt the full potential of this Island called Ireland
And so here we go again, another split within the republican movement A split that is unnecessary and ill advised but created by people who have their own political ambitions, and a party it seems who have no moral compass on the rights for the unborn which must be a matter of conscience for any person or politician, especially in a country where a large minority voted against abortion, (33.6% ) a vote that also should be respected.
But it now seems that Sinn Fein, under both Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald, no longer represent the voice of that minority and so they force the withdrawal of a republican who did and does voice their concern about this law, who spent all of the abortion debate speaking against it and should have been allowed to continue to do so, and it is my belief that that decision taken by the leaders of Sinn Fein was one of personal preservation rather than the good of the party and the people of Ireland and their right to choose on what side of the argument they wish to promote.
Sinn Fein’s argument is that it was a decision taken by the majority at the party conference, but as we all know these conferences are party owned and anything the party puts forward will also be passed. Gerry and Mary Lou say its right so it must be right as they will not undermine the leadership whether its what they believe or not.
The Unforeseen Consequence Of This Decision :t
There comes a time when a political party has to give people/ members the right to follow their conscience on matters of faith and this is one of those times
This decision by Sinn Fein to suspend and censor Peadar Toibin was wrong very wrong and I hope not to late to revisit, as the main losers in this conflict, will not be Sinn Fein or Peadar Toibin but the nationalist community in the north, who will now have their vote split four (4 ) ways SDLP, PBP, S/F and now this new party being formed by Peader Toibin 4 parties all seeking for the nationalist vote, none of this to my mind makes sense as it once again may leave the door open for a return to Unionist rule in the north and do not think that proportional representation will protect the Sinn Fein vote it will not
As older people in my generation used to say,Splits and Money was always the downfall of the Republican Movement. So I appeal to Peadar and Sinn Fein not to split that vote any further at this time of crucial importance for the nationalist people in the north
For the people in the north while we respect Peadar’s stand on abortion and his right to life conviction , there are 100,000’s of people who want an end to partition and British rule above and beyond all else
Its Unity That We In The Northern Republican /Nationalist family need and not division Or People Who Will Put Personal Ambition Ahead Of the people who supported them
A brilliant place, they taught Irish there, which under the Northern Ireland special Power’s Act was illegal and if caught you risked getting six months in Crumlin Road Jail.
It was also a home for Irish culture, i.e. dancing and music, but as the troubles / war was erupting in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s it became the meeting place for the Association for Legal Justice who championed republican / nationalist prisoners rights.
The Association also investigated shootings carried out by the British Army / RUC and hit squads,
My sister Rita Kelly was a founding member of the Association of Legal Justice. She would later help to establish the Irish National Caucus in Washington DC, which was to introduce the Sean McBride Principles to the U.S senate and Congress which were to be followed by any American Company who were investing in Northern Ireland and that included work equality and justice. This is now law in the US, and is the basis for the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland.
Other founding members were, Fr Brian Brady, who was Dean in Trench House College for teachers in West Belfast, Pascal O’Hare and P.J. McGrory solicitors. Gerry Kelly’s (MLA) father was also involved. Other founding members followed which included my brother Oliver Kelly, Solicitor.
Oliver was in Longh Kesh at the time and he sent out several statements to the Association of Legal Justice from other internees who had been abused and tortured by the British/RUC. All of this information was sent to the Irish government who did nothing to help or support the prisoners. As a matter of fact my brother Oliver was arrested on the morning of internment and completed his law society exams in Long Kesh October 1971 and became a qualified solicitor. He was released from internment in December 1971 but was re-arrested in March 1972 and was one of the last internees to be released. Once again the free state stood idly by
If walls could talk the Ard Scoil could tell many stories from the beginning of a romance at one of the many Ceili dances , to sustaining our Irish culture and language, many happy nights.
But also many sad days as we read the statements from Long Kesh and the witnesses to the many murders committed by the British Army the RUC and their murder gangs of the UVF and other loyalist gangs
Over the years and for as long as I can remember the people of Ireland went all over the world in an effort to improve the living standards of the most oppressed and poor people in which ever countries they went to
In the past 100 years and more they have brought religion faith and hope to people weather that be in England, Africa ,The Philippines, Japan, South America, India and Europe, but no matter where they went they brought health care , education, self esteem self help, water production,animal welfare and hope for a better future, This was carried out much to the distaste of the elites of these countries who for their own reasons did not want to see change.
In the early days this work was carried out by the various Irish religious orders who educated , each brother priest or nun in a skill which they brought with them to these far off lands, but the most of them were farmers sons and daughters, teachers, nurses, and doctors who would have also given their lives to their god and were dedicated to working for the poor and improving their lives, even tho the numbers of the religious orders have dropped this work goes on as they now manage the schools and hospitals as the people they trained and educated are now taking over and running the day to day activities, and indeed many of these people are now working in our own health system and schools in Ireland so all that good work carried out by the early Irish missioners in these countries is now showing a benefit to the Irish nation. I don’t really belive in Karma but I do belive that good will always overcome evil and we will be rewarded as we are here in Ireland with the arrival into our mist the most beautiful and caring of people as I personally know from my own experience having met nurses from India and Africa all trained by the same Irish nuns and brothers who went to their homelands to help them and their families for a better future.
There is now a real threat to this work being able to continue as it did in the early days . but I do see hope that it will emerge from this down turn as I see the number of Irish lay people now doing this work, as I think of Gina Heraty from Westport Ireland doing amazing work in Haiti among the poor and victims of the recent storms and earthquake or Mrs Nobel in Vietnam where she runs an orphanage for street kids and there are many many more like her around the world all of them are Irish who are working quietly in different parts of the world bringing hope for a better life as they do the work that the capitalist system will not do
This was brought home to me early this year as my son Diarmuid sent me photos from Hanoi in Vietnam as he made up battery boxes to supply electricity for a village which two of his Irish friends who like himself are teachers, have adopted, because the people in this village can’t afford to send their children to school they teach them at the weekends in the hope that will get some kind of a start in life, once again we witness the kindness, caring and selflessness of the Irish abroad.
We are still missionaries at heart !!!
I was born and raised in Belfast 70 years ago and the most part of my life was spent in cities like Dublin and Belfast so I never really understood the life of living in the countryside and nature.
During the past 18 years since we moved to Mayo it was there that I started to appreciate the seasons , the spring the summer the autumn and the winter and how life continue’s in the circle of life. But this became more important to me in the past 18 months .
I started A journey of recovery following A nervous breakdown in 2017 and a bad bout of (PTSD), as part of that recovery I had a long time to look back and re-assess my life and the desisions I made over those years.
During those early years (1964) I saw the disrespect for human life committed by the forces of the Northern Ireland state as they raced up and down Davis Street and the Lower Falls Road firing at will from armoured cars not worrying who they shot as we were only Irish Catholics ( or fenians as they described us). Little did I know that this was to be the beginning of the nationalist /catholic fight back against a corrupt state which was being governed by a bible thumping fundamentalist protestant government whose only aim in life was to destroy any Catholic community living in the six north eastern counties of this Island. A form of ethnic cleansing!! at least that was how this was/is perceived within the nationalist community , this was to be reinforced a few years later (1969) , when the catholic community asked for basic human rights just as the African American and Dr Martin Luther King was doing in the united states of america at that time
As a result of this campaign the government launched an un-merciful attack on the catholic community across the six counties which was to lead to a 30 year war with them and the British and their army as they once again tried to impose their rule / misrule on the nationalist/catholic people of the six counties .
It was at this period of my life where I saw the unqualified misery of war. The loss of innocence , the murder of young children and not so young men and women as their blood ran through the streets of Belfast and across the north and at that time it did not matter whether you were catholic, protestant, Irish or British or loyalist because all blood is red and all bones are the same and all had mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and extended families who will mourn for the rest of their lives at that loss.
Added to this this is the mental scars which last for life plus alcoholism, drug addiction and suicide, these are all side products of war and trauma where the taking of human life is justified because it’s a war, stupid or is it ?
So let me return to my heading, Farming families in this and most countries have a right to protect their livestock especially sheep and that right allows them to shoot your dog if he is caught worrying or attacking the farmers sheep which can and does lead to the sheep aborting their lambs or babies as this goes on, but I have never seen or met a farmer who wants to end the life of that dog. As a matter of fact I have seen grown men and women cry because they had no option but to shoot that dog because once again some child or parent loved that dog and that shooting will bring sadness and loss to that family and once again the circle of life continues, hurt, pain, and loss , its not someones dog it was my dog This brings me to the 8th amendment here in Ireland and the yes vote I have to admit I voted yes for choice even though abortion would not be my choice I can not deny others that choice, that is a decision they will have to live with and I can’t and will not judge them
This is a complex situation with many questions and very few answers. Some people may abuse the law, some people may have other difficulties like drugs or may be homeless or for financial reasons or the baby may be disadvantaged with a birth defect like Downs syndrome, and may not be able to cope with that scenario, these are questions I have never had to face.
Yet I do know families who took on that challenge and have never regretted it as that child has brought great joy as did my great nephew’s mother. So its not easy to make those decisions, but abortion should always be the dooms day option as that baby will always be remembered. just as our mothers do when a tragedy of death and loss enters their life.
This is all written down as the CIRCLE OF LIFE a beginning and an end but abortion does not give that un-born the chance to even join the circle
Just ask any woman who had a miscarriage or a still birth , as that prospective mother will carry that tragedy for the rest of her life and that I know from personal experience Remember the sheep who lost its lambs,as it wanders the field looking for her lamb or the cow who cries for days when her calf is taken from her
AND THE CIRCLE OF LIFE BEGINS ONCE AGAIN
My Father John And My Sister Rita On Her Wedding Day
This month of November my memory returns to my father John and my sister Rita who both at great cost to themselves worked hard all off their lives, worked for a Republican united Ireland of justice ,equality and freedom from British rule :
My father when he married my mother was a printer with the Irish news paper in Belfast that was in the early 1930s , they had 9 children 4 girls and 5 boys.
My father was a very quite man but a very brave man as I was to learn later in his life as his whole life was about his children and my mother , yes they struggled being a catholic family in the north of Ireland but the big thing that drove them, was that all their children would be educated for the world off their time, never would the bigoted state-let of the unionist /British/ anti catholic ruled North of Ireland hold them back as it did in his time, where they suffered discrimination because of where they went on a Sunday morning or in his case every morning and the fact that they are Irish in body and mind, who believed in the principles of 1916 and the proclamation of freedom, in fact he and my mother lived it until they both died
As I was born in 1948 and the youngest in the family my first memory of my father was in 1954 as he took me by the hand to St Patrick’s CBS school in Donegall street Belfast . He was to take my hand to safety many times after that
Like the night of 26th December 1960 when my oldest Brother John who was a republican prisoner in Crumlin Road Jail Belfast where he was serving a 8 year sentence tried to escape along with a fellow prisoner Danny Donnelly while Danny made it John fell back down into the yard.
Danny arrived at our home in Adela street off the Antrim Road which was close to the jail, As I answered the door to Danny and as it was my 12th birthday , the only other people in our home that night was my sister Rita and my mother and father.
As my mother and Rita got Danny to a safe house my father and I went up around the Jail and the Mater Hospital grounds looking for John we were not sure if John fell back into the jail or outside off it but to no avail he fell back .
As he held my hand that night I saw a father who cared for his son and republican ideals, he made sure we were all safe before the the RUC /B’Specials arrived at our house were he with my mother were put under house arrest for almost a week.
All through the late fifties and sixties he was the quite strength to all of us , but as the trouble off 1969 started even tho he was suffering from serious heart disease for a number of years he was still there making sure we looked after our neighbours and friends as he sent us to man the barricades
As all this trouble raged and his two oldest sons Billy and John where at the forefront in organising the defence of the nationalist areas from the loyalist, the RUC, and the B’Specials he was always there when we would come home the teapot was on he never went to bed until Oliver and myself came in from the barricades
In April 1970 my brother John was arrested in Dublin by the fianna fail party and Jack Lynch as he was organising arms from Europe a episode that was sanctioned by the Irish government and became known as the arms trial.
This was a very testing time for him as we as a family were now pointed out as leading republicans John went on trial in May of that year and he was found innocent , but we lost our wholesale green grocery business and all of us were in danger of being murdered at any time by loyalist gun men or the RUC/B’Specials
On the night of the 3rd of November 1970 Oliver was home before me he found daddy dead in the coal yard as he was filling the coal bucket.
Because of the Arms Trial in Dublin John who was a wanted man in the north and was to be charged with conspiring to over throw the state ( northern Ireland) he arrived to our home under cover of darkness escorted by his comrades
My father was one of the unknown victims of the troubles
May you rest in peace Father and thank you for looking after me for all these years always in my thoughts and prayers as I ask you for guidance and protection
Even thou his father who was a member if the Irish volunteers, he joined the Munster’s and followed Redmond on to the green fields off France where he died in 1916 he would never allow any poppies into our home as his father did not die for the British but a promise that by going to war he was promised home rule for the island off Ireland,
A PROMISE BROKEN BY THE BRITISH