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Posts Tagged ‘Irish Republicanism’

Mellows’ last message was delivered to Eamon Martin by a prison officer. It was written at 7.30am and ran:

To my dear comrades in Mountjoy. God bless you, boys, and give you fortitude, courage and wisdom to suffer and endure all for Ireland’s sake.

An poblacht abu!
Liam O Maoiliosa (Liam Mellows)

The above is taken from C Desmond Greaves wonderful biography of Liam Mellows, entitled Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution. Undoubtedly one of the most complex characters of the anti-treaty republican movement, I’ve always been fascinated by Mellows. A great account of what Mellows was like as a man inside Mountjoy can be found in Peadar O’ Donnell’s prison memoirs The Gates Flew Open.

Recently, I saw the letter below. It is the final letter of Liam Mellows, the letter published above in Graves biography. It comes from the personal papers of Paddy Kelly, whose father was a republican prisoner in Mountjoy at the time. Look closely at it however. There are a number of clear edits made to the letter, for example the first line, where “to my very dear comrades…” becomes “to my dear comrades”. “God bless you,” becomes “God bless you boys” and the word “and” is added at various points, replacing the & symbol.

At the end of the letter “Irish first” is added and underlined next to Liam’s name.

Were these edits made by Mellows himself, or are they an early example of spin doctoring? Was the letter edited by republicans for propaganda impact before publication? Several of the letters seem completely different to those in the original letter, yet with others it’s a little less clear.

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Who was the first man shot that day?
The player Connolly,
Close to the City Hall he died;
Carriage and voice had he;
He lacked those years that go with skill,
But later might have been
A famous, a brilliant figure
Before the painted scene.

From mountain to mountain ride the fierce horsemen.

W.B Yeats.

This Easter Monday sees a new plaque unveiled in Dublin, a plaque to the memory of Sean Connolly and his siblings ( Joe, Mattie, George, Eddie and Katie, who all served with the Irish Citizen Army during the Easter Rising) and young Molly O’ Reilly who raised the green flag over Liberty Hall in April, 1916.

In The History of the Irish Citizen Army, by R.M Fox, he wrote that:

In front of the hall itself the Citizen Army cleared a space and formed up on three sides of the square. Inside this square was the women’s section, the boys scouts’ corps under Captain W. Carpenter, and the Fintan Lalor Pipe Band. Captain C. Poole and a Colour Guard of sixteen men escorted the colour bearer, Miss Molly O’ Reilly of the Women Workers’ Union who was also a member of the Citizen Army.

….. “I noticed” said a member of the Colour Guard, “That some men, old and middle aged,and a great number of women were crying. and I knew then that this was not in vain and that they all realised what was meant by the hoisting of the flag

Sean Connolly famously starred in a play by James Connolly entitled ‘Under Which Flag?’ a week before the insurrection, which went hand in hand with the symbolic raising of the green flag over the hall. He was shot on the roof of City Hall on Easter Monday by a British Sniper who had taken up position in Dublin Castle. His brother, Mattie, was with him as he died. Sean is remembered not only as a captain within the Citizen Army but also as an actor at the Abbey, with Lady Gregory writing a poem in his memory after 1916.

James Connolly himself wrote in an article titled The Irish Flag published on the 8th April 1916 in the Workers Republc newspaper, that

For centuries the green flag of Ireland was a thing accurst and hated by the English garrison in Ireland, as it is still in their inmost hearts. But in India, in Egypt, in Flanders, in Gallipoli, the green flag is used by our rulers to encourage Irish soldiers of England to give up their lives for the power that denies their country the right of nationhood. Green flags wave over recruiting offices in Ireland and England as a bait to lure on poor fools to dishonourable deaths in England’s uniform.

On Easter Monday, April 5th the flag will be raised at Liberty Hall by a relative of Molly O’ Reilly. This flag will be presented by the great grandson of James Connolly. This ceremony will begin at 12 noon. After this, the crowd will move on to Sean McDermott Street where the plaque will be unveiled on 58/59 Sean McDermott Lower, where the home of Sean Connolly once stood.

There will be a photographic exhibition of images from the revolutionary years in the nearby Community Hall at Killarney Court.

This is all being carried out by the North Inner City Folk Project, the people behind fantastic events like the commemoration of the forgotten women of 1916, and promises to be a good one. I look forward to it!

Update: Images and audio from the launch can be found here

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