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Given that this week has seen the unveiling of a mural and the erection of a plaque in memory of the Irish anti-fascists that went to fight in the Spanish Civil War 1936-39, it was great to come across the clipping below when doing research for a completely different article. Reading like a veritable who’s who of revolutionary politics, Charlie Donnelly, Frank Ryan, and the sons of Thomas McDonagh and Francis and Hannah Sheehy Skeffington all appear in an article dated May 12th 1934.

The article focuses on the foundation of a society called Student Vanguard at a meeting in a room in 41 Parnell Square. The society, a joint effort between UCD and Trinity students, unveiled its manifesto at the meeting, stating:

The Student Vanguard sees in Fascism in Ireland the bludgeon of the reactionary elements against the struggle for the national and social liberation of the Irish people.

The meeting did not go entirely to plan though, and eleven Blueshirts made their presence known at the back of the room causing a scuffle to break out and the meeting to be interrupted. Bizarrely enough, it looks very much like the Blueshirts were present, somewhat under the blessing of Charlie Donnelly, who would later fight and die in Spain, on the Republican side. A Mr. K. Patton from UCD, who declared himself a Blueshirt stated at one stage “We promised Mr. Donnelly we wouldn’t cause any trouble here tonight.”

From the Irish Press, Saturday, May 12, 1934

Frank Ryan later apologized in the meeting stating that if it was the case that the Blueshirts present were indeed there under invite, then he retracted his demand for them to leave. At the meeting, it was also stated that “Fascism (means) political, economic and cultural repression; distortion and restriction of education; the crushing of all progressive movements; perpetuation by force of ‘the present economic anarchy,’ unemployment and distress.”

Despite what seemed to pass off as a rift between two groups of students, settled by a polite handshake and an apology, a couple of years later, men from both sides would be making their way to Spain to fight on either side of the Civil War. The Blueshirts left with a fanfare, and came back without a loss in combat and with their tails between their legs. Some on the Republican side, like Michael O’Riordan and Bob Doyle would come back alive, others, like Charlie Donnelly would not.

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In December 1945, sixty people attended a meeting in Dublin to form the ‘Irish Soviet Friendship Society’. It is interesting to note that both its president and its honorary secretary were women. Who exactly were they and what ever happened to them?

Well, the president of the society was a Helena Early (1887 – 1977). She made history by becoming Ireland’s first woman solicitor, having taken up law in her brother’s office in the early 1900s. In 1913, she raised money to help the families of the victims of the Church Street tenement disaster.

She became the first woman auditor of the Solictors’ Apprentices’ Debating Society of Ireland (SADSI) in 1922 and the following year she saved the records of the society, storied in the Four Courts, from destruction during the Civil War. At the time, she was a close friend of of Countess Markievicz.

After her degree, she handled district court work and later became the first woman Commissioner of Oaths in Ireland. She was active in the 1930s with the Women’s Social and Progressive League along with Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington and others.

In February 1946, representing the league, she was part of a welcoming committee for the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt who was visiting Ireland. It was quoted in the papers that she asked Roosevelt how she thought ” women could extend their influence”.

She continued to work professionally and with various campaigns in the 1950s and 1960s.

In November 1970, she was interviewed in The Irish Independent where she said “This liberation movement has been taking too long. Women have be far more active than they are. They’ve been underestimating themselves for too long”. Helena passed away in 1977.

The Irish Times, Oct 28, 1970

The first Honorary secretary, Mrs Hilda Verlin, was quoted in Russia Today magazine (1948) as being a “journalist and housewife”. A trawl through the archives shows that she had an irregular column in the The Irish Times. She spoke at a public meeting, organised by the society, with Hewlett Johnson (aka ‘The Red Dean of Canterbury’) in The Mansion House in Dublin in November 1946. This meeting descended into violence. (I plan to write an article focusing on this disturbance in the near future)

She last crops up in the news in 1950 when she writes to The Irish Times from the National Hotel in Moscow. I wonder what happened to her?

Letter from Verlin to The Irish Times. 21 October, 1950

As well as this the society had a female second honorary secretary (Ms Margaret Mac Macken) and treasurer (Ms Ann Peache) but even less is known about them.

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The images below are scanned from an original copy of the Illustrated London News from January 1921. They show Hamar Greenwood, Chief Secretary for Ireland, inspecting R.I.C Auxiliaries in Dublin at Beggars Bush Baracks.As D.M Leeson has noted in his study of The Black and Tans, Greenwood ‘described the Irish insurgency in almost hysterical terms’ when he noted that “For years past now Sinn Féin extremists and their Soviet colleagues in Ireland – their Sovietism in a marked degree in Ireland- have conspired to smash the empire.”

Greenwood was one of those who essentially endorsed a policy of reprisals at the height of the War of Independence. Greenwood had famously told the House of Commons that “things are very much better in Ireland” only days before Michael Collins obliterated what he called the ‘Dublin Castle Murder Gang’ on a November morning in 1920.

Below these images the page contains a quote from Greenwood, telling the men he inspected that:

You are here to rescue Ireland from the assassin, to save her from the small minded misguided minority of her people. You are here to maintain the United Kingdom intact, and to break up that conspiracy which has for its object the smashing of the British Empire!

This is an interesting example of British war propaganda during the Irish War of Independence, and this is also the first time I’ve seen several of these images myself.

From: Illustrated London News, Jan 29 1921.

This second image is interesting, as it shows how the British armed forces attempted to deal with the guerrilla warfare tactics of the IRA, with new “protection against bombs” in the field.

From: Illustrated London News, Jan 29 1921.

(more…)

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Cool, culture jamming art project called ElephantInTheRoom based out of D7.

One aspect has been stenciling slogans from Emma Goldman, Ned Kelly, Albert Einstein and MC Tomo Kiernan ‘Dublin’s Rapping Busker’ onto currency and recirculating it.

Credit - elephantinroom101.blogspot.com

Tomo seems happy about it anyway!

Credit - elephantinroom101.blogspot.com

They’ve also been behind some ‘adbusting’ on the dart.

Credit - elephantinroom101.blogspot.com

Credit - elephantinroom101.blogspot.com

Credit - elephantinroom101.blogspot.com

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CRONY 2012

Will. St Leger does it again.

I mentioned yesterday spotting Bertie’s Colouring Book in a few discount bookshops in the city recently, I grabbed a photo yesterday with the day that was in it.

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Today, a friend sent me on an article from Wednesday’s Morning Star about the decline of Europe’s left-wing press. It got me thinking about the newspapers and magazines that are published today in Ireland and what kind of future lies ahead for them.

While the latter question cannot be answered without some thought, I thought I’d first try to write up a detailed, updated list of what is currently being published.

Here’s what I came up with…

The anarchist group the Workers Solidarity Movement publish a paper Workers Solidarity (Free, bi-monthly) and a more theoretical magazine Irish Anarchist Review (Free, bi-annually, 24 pages).

An independent counter-culture crew bring out Rabble (Free, Quarterly, 24 pages).

The Workers Party produces a broad left magazine called Look Left (€2, Quarterly, 40 pages).

Current Issue of Look Left

Trotskyist groups The Socialist Workers Party publish The Socialist Worker (Donation, Monthly, 8 pages) and Irish Marxist Review (€3, Irregular, 55 pages) while The Socialist Party publish The Socialist (Donation, Monthly, 12 pages) and a political journal Socialist View.

Within Irish Republicanism, Sinn Fein produce a newspaper An Phoblact (€2, Monthly, 32 pages) and a magazine Iris (€4, Quarterly, 64 pages), the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32CSM) bring out The Sovereign Nation (€2/donation, Irregular, 8 pages), Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) publish Saoirse (€2, Monthly, 16 pages) and the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) has a new magazine Starry Plough (€1.50, Quarterly, 28 pages).

Current issue of The Starry Plough

The Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) publishes Socialist Voice (€1.50, Monthly, 12 pages)

As far as I’m aware, the Irish Socialist Network (ISN) still prints Resistance (Free, Quarterly, 4 pages)

A group of socialists independently produce Red Banner (€2, Quarterly, ?)

While Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) has a newsletter In The Area (Free, Quarterly, 4 pages) and a magazine No Quarter (€2, Irregular, 28 pages).

Current issue of In The Area

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Leave Bertie A Loan.

De Bruder did the above piece as a tribute to King Chancer, with the day that was in it yesterday. Thug Life is a play on the lavish lifestyles enjoyed (and boasted about) by a certain kind of hip hop artist of course. Bertie was never a hip hop artist, more a piss artist.

It reminded me to dig through the archive for this Come Here To Me classic…..

…..and that my friends is why they put cameras into mobile phones. Earlier today I spotted the same autobiography in a discount bookshop in town. How the mighty have fallen.

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