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The War of Independence 1919-2004: What Is The Dispute About Kilmichael And Dunmanway Really About?

category national | history and heritage | feature author Friday December 03, 2004 16:31author by Niall Meehan Report this post to the editors

Battles Continue Over the Interpretation of Irish History

(An Indymedia Volunteer has asked me to introduce and to try and summarise the basis of the dispute over aspects of Irish history which has made some appearances on the site recently. This I attempt to do below – apologies in advance for the length of the ‘summary’)

After simmering along on Indymedia for a number of weeks, a dispute over the actions of legendary guerrilla commander Tom Barry and the IRA in Cork during the 1919-22 period boiled over into print in The Village, the BBC, The Irish Examiner and The Sunday Times. The controversy relates to research by historians, Meda Ryan and Brian Murphy, criticising claims first put forward by former Queens history lecturer, now Memorial University Newfoundland academic, Peter Hart.

The dispute centres mainly on two areas:

1. Peter Hart’s attempt to overturn the long held and widely accepted view that British Auxiliaries fired on and killed three IRA soldiers after the Auxiliaries had called a surrender during the Kilmichael ambush in November 1920.

2. Peter Hart’s suggestion that the post-Truce killing of Protestant males in the area surrounding Dunmanway in April 1922 was part of a sectarian war being pursued by republican forces. Point 1 is related as it formed Hart’s launching pad into his thesis that the Anglo-Irish war was in reality a squalid battle for ethnic supremacy, and that the two states in Ireland are an expression of a mutually exclusive ethnic sectarianism (except that Hart is accused of under-reporting unionist sectarianism and British responsibility for using sectarianism as a method of government in Ireland).

In other words it is suggested that Hart sees Irish politics in the context of balkanisation, rather than in the context of colonialism and imperialism.

Kilmichael Critique

The critique of Hart on Kilmichael centres on the following

- His two sources for the Kilmichael ambush are anonymous (now over 80 years after the event) and therefore difficult to test and to validate. Peter Hart says he carried out his interviews in 1988 and 1989 but, according to the records consulted by Meda Ryan, only one battle survivor was alive at that stage, but too infirm to repeat his account. Reportedly, none were alive on 19 November 1989, the date of Hart’s interview with the scout ‘AF’. According to Ryan, the last scout died in 1967, while the last survivor, Ned Young, died on November 13 1989. This is an anomaly that needs to be addressed – and for which there may be a simple explanation. As of yet, it has not been proffered.

- Hart accepts British inspired reports of the engagement, reports that Dr Brian Murphy demonstrated recently were produced by a sophisticated British propaganda unit run by Basil Clarke and Major CJC Street. Hart also accepts British documentation claiming to be the unsigned typewritten report of the battle by Barry to his superiors. Again, this is disputed, not least because of glaring errors of detail that it is suggested Barry would not have made. For instance the report says that two IRA soldiers died later and one on the spot. The opposite is the case (see Ryan, pages 59-60).

- Hart claims that Barry did not make the "false surrender" claim until the 1940s. Ryan showed that it was published in the 1920s. Hart’s apparently clinching point about Barry failing to mention in it in a major 1932 Irish Press article was refuted by showing that it had been edited out of the story, and that Barry himself had protested in writing. Ryan produced information to the effect that open discussion on the false surrender was common parlance among survivors of the ambush.

The Dunmanway Critique

On more than one occasion Hart quotes from original documentation in a way that seems to diminish British responsibility for promoting and provoking sectarianism, while appearing to highlight republican responsibility. For example, Brian Murphy pointed out that in order to portray the Dunmanway killings as sectarian, Hart quoted half a sentence from British intelligence documentation suggesting that Protestant farmers as such did not engage in active informing on behalf of the British during the War of Independence. Hart ignored the other half of the same sentence, where the British say that the one exception was the Bandon area (which includes Dunmanway). Bandon was unique in witnessing the promotion of unionist sectarianism in support of the British presence. The atmosphere surrounding Bandon is indicated by two well-known phrases describing the place: "the Londonderry of the South" and "even the pigs were Protestant".

- While Hart’s researches were not apparently thorough enough to uncover this, he also did not report on the exceptional organisation of loyalist paramilitary activity in association with British forces, that saw the use of extra-legal retribution alongside those forces.

- Meda Ryan reported on the above and she also reported new information relating to the killing of Protestant males in April 1922, after the Truce. Ryan reported that the surnames of all of those shot, in defiance of an IRA amnesty for spies and informers, were on a list of "helpful citizens" left behind by the Auxiliaries when they evacuated Dunmanway Workhouse. In other words those shot were targeted because of their alleged association with sectarian paramilitary violence –and immediately after two individuals on the Dunmanway list had shot and killed an IRA officer. Sectarianism as a motive for the killings would not appear to have been paramount, or indeed a factor at all.

- Ryan reported extensively on the denunciation of the wave of killings by pro and anti treaty forces, on energetic efforts to stamp them out and to provide effective protection measures for those thought vulnerable to attack. Tom Barry was actively engaged in providing this protection, which included, according to Manus O’Riordan, denouncing some individuals seeking to take advantage of the atmosphere by stealing Protestant owned livestock. Peter Hart either ignored, was uninterested in, or just failed to uncover, this information.

- Ryan reported on Protestant support for the independence struggle, Hart largely ignored this point. Ryan reported on British and Protestant church comment on the absence of sectarianism in the fight being waged by those trying to achieve Irish independence. Again, Hart ignored this information.

Pseudo History

While Hart accuses his critics of a "faith based" and "pseudo" history, he has refused to comment on criticism based on matters of fact uncovered by both Murphy and Ryan. The re-emergence of this debate was sparked by the repetition of Hart’s view in Diarmaid Ferriter’s new survey of Irish history, without any reference to the substantive published critique of that view. Also sparking re-interest was John Bruton’s repetition of the Kilmichael and Dunmanway allegations in a review of Ferriter’s book in the Irish Independent. It would appear that Hart’s view was not subject to considered refutation. This raised the hackles of those who feel that the cogently argued alternative account was effectively censored out of academic and media existence.

After a long silence, and as a result of this recent renewed interest, Peter Hart committed himself on Indymedia.ie to responding to Ryan and Murphy, though where or when has not been clarified.

Some sophisticates are apparently unnerved by the specter of West Cork rustics laying claim a peoples’ history and by historians who do not politely tiptoe through, or unquestioningly accept the wisdom of those who inhabit, the groves of academe.

Faith in Hart

They suggest that this dispute is uninteresting, or that the Kilmichael ambush is unimportant to the extent that the Dunmanway killings are more worthy of attention. They forget that Ryan and Murphy tackle both events without hesitation. Some of this commentary may undoubtedly be blinded by the sectarian failings of the state that emerged out of the Civil War, but history is read backwards in seeking an original sectarian sin within the War of Independence. This is what makes such observers susceptible to accounts such as those promoted by Peter Hart, and why, ironically, they may be accepted largely as a matter of faith.

Then again Peter Hart may be right and his critics largely incorrect in their assessment. If so Hart has been reluctant to engage with them. This stance may puzzle those who are neutral on the matters in dispute. Is this a matter of disdain? No, because Hart says he "respects" Meda Ryan and Brian Murphy. Is it disinterest? No, because Peter Hart has continued to write on the subject. Is it lack of confidence in the validity of his research? Peter Hart appeared confident of his position in his interview on the BBC. Peter Hart can answer this question. It is to be hoped that he will, soon.

Revisionism, Post-Revisionism

On a more general point, this debate reflects a continuing interest in Irish history. It also indicates the continuing relevance of the debate on "revisionism". Many historians express a wish to move on to a "post revisionist" view of the field, and this latter term assumes a defeat for the original revisionist project of undermining Irish nationalism per se.

As one historian remarked to me recently, the revisionists were really commenting on the politics of the 1970s and 1980s, while ostensibly researching a more distant past. It was really a negative view of the violent explosion of discontent in the North post 1968. This point seems eminently sensible, since history is a reflection of the concerns of the present imposing themselves on a view of the past. The politics of the present in relation to the National Question are still very much an aspect of contemporary politics. Efforts to put the power-sharing executive in the North back together dominates the news agenda as I write.

A view of the National Question that relegates British responsibility for sectarianism and which elevates instead an indigenous ethnic sectarianism is highly contentious and is in itself political. It is a view of the conflict which is congenial, whether Peter Hart is aware of it or is concerned by it or not, to a unionist and pro-British view of the conflict. For unionism it is a reason for separation and for Britain a justification for adopting the role of neutral facilitator. This view of the conflict has been promoted over the course of the recent ‘Troubles’. Peter Hart has introduced the point as a defining characteristic of the original ‘Troubles’, the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-21.


In contesting the empirical or factual basis of Peter Hart’s view, Brian Murphy and Meda Ryan have furthered our understanding of the period.

Ryan’s meticulous examination of the minutiae of the Kilmichael ambush, the Dunmanway killings and the Crossbarry ambush (in which up to 40 British soldiers died), and her account of British treatment of prisoners, suspects and the civilian population generally helps to re-create the atmosphere of the period and the motivation of those taking part. As she is concerned with detailing the events at Dunmanway, Ryan brings us more detail on the interaction of Protestants and Catholics, differences of opinion within the Protestant community, and the peculiar situation in that part of Ireland than has traditionally been afforded.

Aside from its impact on our views of Kilmichael or Dunmanway, Brian Murphy’s research on media manipulation is fascinating. It adds to our understanding of the development of propaganda as a weapon of war. What also fascinates is Murphy’s research demonstrating that sophisticated British propaganda played a role in attempts to define the conflict then, and that it has re-emerged in contemporary historical accounts of the period. The revelation of persistent British attempts to define their enemies as sectarian, while themselves promoting sectarian allies, may inform our view of the present as much as it may help our understanding of the past.

While I am sympathetic to the view put forward by Ryan and by Murphy, it is clear that Hart’s industriousness was a stimulus for the production of alternative accounts of the period. It may be that positive aspects of Hart’s research have become obscured by the dispute. If commentary has become polemicised, this may be due to the absence of a reaction from Peter Hart to the criticism put forward by Ryan and by Murphy. It would appear to be the case that making a loud noise has more chance of eliciting a response.

And, despite Peter Hart’s somewhat negative view of the contributions, the debate on Indymedia has perhaps rekindled an interest in History among the many who are less and less likely to take it as a subject in Irish schools. Why is history in decline as a school subject? Is it due to lack of interest in history? Between 1,500 and 2,000 attended the Kilmichael commemoration on November 28th and heard Meda Ryan’s oration, so popular interest in aspects of Irish history appears intact. Or is it lack of interest in the written history that is presented to them that switches modern students off?

The historians may say that it is not their task to provide partisan accounts of any particular period. It is possible that partisanship from another direction may silently intrude, however, especially when grappling with historical events with pressing contemporary parallels – the terms IRA, violence and conflict being highly charged in current circumstances. Ideology takes many forms, the denial of its presence being merely one. Objectivity may inform the historical method but it is never an end in itself and never at an end, just like the historical journey.

While there are clear differences in overall view between Ryan and Murphy on the one hand and Peter Hart on the other, the practicality of explicating the differences boils down to the interpretation and acceptance of documentation and other important evidence.

A more objective view may arrive during the course of debate. And debate is what we are waiting for.

Previous Indymedia Coverage of This Dispute Here

author by Brian Vernonpublication date Sat Dec 04, 2004 20:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hindsight-assisted intelligence

Peter Berresford Ellis reviews British Intelligence in Ireland 1920-21: the final reports, edited by Peter Hart, Irish Narratives, Cork University Press, £7.50 pbk

THIS BOOK consists of the publication of two reports written after the truce of 1921. One is found in the papers of lieutenant general Sir Hugh Jeudwine, who commanded the 5th Division based at The Curragh. The papers are in the Imperial War Museum and anonymous intelligence officers wrote the report.

The other is the report made by the notorious brigadier general Sir Ormonde Winter who was deputy chief of police at Dublin Castle and director of intelligence of the Crown forces. His report is in the Public Records Office.

The book also contains a few explanatory footnotes and an interpretative introduction by professor Peter Hart.

What astonishes me is that Cork University Press, usually known for its academic sobriety and restraint, resorts to announcing publication of the 109pp book in the following intemperate fashion: “Casts a new light on the career of Michael Collins, challenging the belief that his tactical genius was the key to winning the ‘intelligence war’; reveals previously unseen secret documents and tells the inside story of British Intelligence in Ireland.” .........


author by Brian Vernonpublication date Sun Dec 05, 2004 19:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Found this, by another "impartial colonial academic"
old ground but worth a revisit. Its in PDF format, but you can "Google" the html version.

Related Link: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/archive/00000006/01/British_Security_Policy_in_Ireland.pdf
author by Brian Vernonpublication date Sun Dec 05, 2004 23:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

1897-1980; b. West Cork; son of RIC officer; ed. National School; served in Mesopotamia [Iraq] in WWI; gassed in Basra; enrolled in business college; 3rd (West Cork) Brigade of IRA, 1919; commanded West Cork IRA unit, and later flying column; ambushes at Kilmichael and Crossbarry; opposed Treaty; arrested and imprisoned as a Republican, 1934; called for war against English, 1936; opposed IRA support for Republicans in Spanish Civil War; resigned from Army Council, 1937; quit IRA, 1940; sent ironic telegram to Gen. Perceval upon the surrender of Singapore, Perceval having previously acted as ‘easily the most viciously anti-Irish of all serving British officers’; unsuccessful candidate in Cork, 1946; latterly employed by Cork Harbour Commissioners; m. Leslie Price, a prominent member of Cumann na mBan and Irish Red Cross;issued Guerrilla Days in Ireland (1949) and The Reality of the Anglo-Irish War, 1919-21 (1974), a pamph. contesting Liam Deasy’s Towards Ireland Free.

author by Paddy the Irishman - and proud of it!publication date Mon Dec 06, 2004 02:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why not go back to the Dáil debates at the time of ‘the troubles’ and see for yourself what was being said.

What is most dreadful to know is that so many good and decent Irish people fought to give us our Right to be independent and free in our uniqueness to be Irish and that over time the time since we have found ourselves infiltrated and politically corrupted until we now find ourselves stuck with the like of ‘Bertie’ hungrily palpitating for the ‘European shilling’.

“Men love their country, not because it is great, but because it is their own”. ~Seneca

Go look at the link to the debate above and see the type of leadership we once had. Good Irish political representatives of the people that in hindsight seem to have taken their integrity with them to the grave.

Look at the fervour as they savoured the prospect of writing OUR constitution - Bunreacht na hÉireann and then consider the cowardice and imbecility that the Irish electorate now suffer.

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing”. ~John Powell

We Irish have already learned by bitter history that our people will not be subservient to foreign dominion by those who could only but envy who we are as a people, and what we believe in. Freedom and independence were never impossible but we always seemed to have a few rotten eggs, a few Judas characters leading us astray.

“Many politicians are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story who resolved not to go into the water till he had learned to swim”. ~Thomas Macaulay

Look and weep – or DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Perhaps Bertie & Co should consider the following….

“If you are ashamed to stand by your colours, you had better seek another flag”. ~Author Unknown

Debate on the Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, signed in London on the 6th December 1921: Sessions 14 December 1921 to 10 January 1922

Related Link: http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/E900003-001/E900003-001.html
author by historianpublication date Mon Dec 06, 2004 10:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hate being pedantic, but that is not quite accurate. Barry was opposed to IRA Volunteers going to Spain as he knew that it weakened the IRA and republican and left opposition to Fianna Fáil, but he supported the Republic politically.

author by Michael Henniganpublication date Mon Dec 06, 2004 12:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As to history and Paddy the Irishman, it's said that a statesman is a dead politician. We should be careful with this 'George Washington never told a lie' type hagiography.

Personal ambition, jealousy and resentment have been present in all ages. It is true that the rules of what is right are wrong are more elastic in modern times. As to De Valera, the chief architect of the Constitution, questions have been raised in recent times about the funding of the Irish Press Group and De Valera family finances.

-the principal difference between the past and the present is that we the great unwashed, have a greater chance of becoming aware of wrongdoing.

author by Paddy the Irishman - and Proud of it!publication date Mon Dec 06, 2004 15:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have no doubt that you have already read the Irish Constitution that is well recognised as the best protection the citizens of Ireland could ever had to defend them from the tyranny of the state and that you also are aware of how significant Eamonn De Valera, was in the framing of that protection.

I do think that Bunreacht na hÉireann is a vital document that needs to be read over and over again especially at this most crucial time when our political representatives are running amuck and are bent on giving our sovereignty and protections away to those who are already established as untrustworthy.
Whistle-blower admits defeat on EU corruption
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Brussels


“A whistle-blower who brought down Jacques Santer's European Commission on fraud charges three years ago has resigned.

Paul van Buitenen, 45, leaves office today after admitting defeat in his fight to root out corruption.

He plans to slip away quietly after serving his last day as a fonctionnaire, saying only that he was "bitterly disappointed" at the failure of the new team under Romano Prodi to clean up the system”.

As for your comment on De Valera’s open decision to be involved with the press. Have you not considered the possibility that he was being shrewd? The state could not control our newspapers but he made sure that at least one paper would be a funnel to properly inform the Citizens of Ireland on factors that would involve their freedom and their lives. And would we not want our political leaders to also be prudent and capable of organising their own businesses and lives so as not to have to scavenge the Irish exchequer with quasi-legal expenses, and personal budgets as well as their greatly exaggerated wage requirements topped off with the multiplicity of pensions to the extent of gluttony?

Do I exaggerate? Have you not read the constant political propagandist drivel that we the people suffer now that that independent forthright media has been all but subverted? Have you not seen that with your own eyes? Have you not looked at RTE’s contorted coverage of the Irish Presidential Election that we never had? Have you not seen how RTE spent vast sums of our tax payers monies to try to spin their one sided opinion on the American Election.(whether you agree with the end decision or not) Do you not see the utter hypocrisy in those matters alone? RTE is a state organisation, they should inform the people yes but they were never given the mandate to dictate to the people or issue propaganda at their whim.

Was De Valera not perfectly right in his forethought and preventative measures? Be fair. Is the press/media infiltration and subversion he worked to protect us from not now worse than ever?


The Pew Report: http://halfbakered.blogspot.com/2002_08_04_halfbakered_archive.html

“Listening to your radio or watching TV news today you may have heard something about a "Pew report" on the media, probably talking about the believability and credibility of TV news anchors and public figures. Well, the full story, as always, is somewhat different and more unflattering. You can find the report to read for yourself here. For those with too little time, there are charts in the report you can glance over to get the gist.

Biggest finding overall is that the public's view of television news is back to where it was before 9/11. That is, sceptical. More than half of those surveyed said that news organizations are politically biased! Only one quarter thought the press was careful not to be. Nearly two-thirds think they try to cover up their mistakes. And half believed that the press gets in the way of society solving its problems!

Only a third think they get their facts straight; just over half think they report inaccurately. A constant third think the press immoral and half believe they don't care about people.

Won't see that covered too much, will ya?”

And then to home;

The Republic of Ireland has been branded "one of the most corrupt countries in Europe”

The Republic of Ireland has been branded "one of the most corrupt countries in Europe" in a report commissioned by a British-based charitable trust.

The report declared that corruption was a central theme of life in Ireland and that human rights standards were below international levels.

Commissioned by the British-based Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the report said: "Ireland is now regarded as one of the more corrupt European states - and to have lost a considerable amount of foreign investment because of its international reputation."

The report, prepared by independent social researcher Brian Harvey, was published on Thursday following a baseline study almost a decade ago.

Former Taoiseach Charles Haughey faced cash allegations

It coincided with continuing proceedings at tribunals of inquiry into payments made to Irish politicians - including three-times former Prime Minister Charles Haughey - and alleged planning irregularities also implicating senior political figures, as well as a number of scandals.

But Mr Harvey found that while the continuing investigations had "done much to determine the nature of corruption, changes to improve the political and administrative system have been minimal".

"The fact that the problem is systemic has yet to be fully recognised. It is a serious gap in the modernisation of Irish governments," he added.

Mr Harvey called for the establishment of a special independent body to monitor corruption and cronyism in public life.

'Widening inequality'

His report also said the Irish Republic had "widening levels of inequality, extraordinarily low levels of investment in public services, and a depressing record on environmental protection".

He said that despite years of "unprecedented wealth" in the Republic of Ireland, resources had been squandered with many public services, especially health, in a worse state than ever.

The report also said the state was in breach of five international agreements related to the treatment of mentally-ill prisoners.

"It's unacceptable in the face of evidence about the widespread abuse of human rights that many would have characterised as being a feature of the Soviet system many years ago," Mr Harvey added.

Mr Harvey said problems requiring "urgent action" included:

A lack of police accountability to the government or the public
The "taboo subject" of links between the judiciary and political parties
Public appointments to state-run bodies.

Well Michael, very few of us are being conned, surely you too would agree?

Related Link: http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/upload/publications/297.htm
author by researcherpublication date Mon Dec 06, 2004 15:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Do any books on him have any detail on this? can anyone sketch this out?

author by Michael Henniganpublication date Mon Dec 06, 2004 17:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Tom Barry lived in Bandon for some years before joining the British Army and it wasn't just another Cork town. It was known as the 'Londonderry of the South' and had active Orange and Masonic Lodges and several Protestant churches. This West Cork oasis of unionism must have had quite an influence on Barry.

The following is an extract of an article which I wrote about Bandon and Dunmanway:

It was no surprise that one of the most significant English settlements in the south of Ireland from late Elizabethan times was the walled town of Bandon. It was built in the most fertile area of the Bandon River valley. Ten miles west of Bandon on the main road to Dunmanway, the land quality noticeably changes. Christ Church, the first Protestant church to be built in Ireland, was completed in 1610 and it was said throughout Ireland that even the pigs were Protestant in Bandon. It was also said that the main gate to the town had a sign which read: A Turk*, a Jew or an Atheist may enter this town but not a Papist. A local who had some béarla (English) apparently wrote under it: Whoever wrote this, wrote it well /For it's the same that's written on the gates of hell!

In 1650, a Richard Cox was born in Bandon and his ambition was to build a town to the west of Bandon, on McCarthy land. Oliver Cromwell, the most hated Englishman in the history of Ireland, had been in Bandon about that time and land had been confiscated in the parish of Fanlobbus. Cromwell was on a visit to Ireland to put some manners on the natives who had become unruly during the 1640's, when English attention was focused on the civil war between him and King Charles I.

It was not until 1807 that a Catholic dared set up a business in the centre of Bandon: Extract - History of Bandon, George Bennett 1869-'It was about this time that the first Roman Catholic shopkeeper ventured to reside in any of our principal streets. For several years previously some Roman Catholics had crept into the town, but they were content with the humblest habitations within the walls, and in the most out of the way places. The name of this adventurous pioneer was Paddy Gaffney. He was a resolute sort of fellow, and a very good-tempered fellow at the same time; but he was as ugly as if he was made to order. Nothwithstanding his lack of personal attractions, he was a light-hearted soul.' (My father used to often talk about Bandon's most notorious hanging judge Captain John Nash who was known to the Irish as Shane Dearg Nash. He died in 1725 and is buried in a tomb in front of Christ Church on North Main Street. 'Dearg' is the Irish language word for 'red' which likely refers to blood).

*In the European Middle Ages, the term Turk was commonly interchanged with Mohammadian, a follower of the Prophet Mohammad.

author by Brian Vernonpublication date Mon Dec 06, 2004 21:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Republic of Ireland has been branded "one of the most corrupt countries in Europe”

Whilst I dont' disagree with the thrust of your argument it has to be pointed out that that particular report was comissioned 13 years ago, ands it not surprising that you will find it on the BBC's webbie.

Try finding a report on the true number of childer living in poverty in England, comissioned by the same "charitable organisation". You wont'!
The WHO puts it at somewhere near 5 million.

A recent report found that 6 children are murdered every week in England by a family member. Try finding it on the BBC's webbie.

They (the British) are great at pointing out other peoples failings while totally ignoring their own. Mass Deflection.

author by Dónal Connollypublication date Tue Dec 07, 2004 21:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am somewhat puzzled by the following sentence in the article:

"In other words it is suggested that Hart sees Irish politics in the context of balkanisation, rather than in the context of colonialism and imperialism."

It seems to me that balkanisation, i.e. the process by which the Greeks, Bulgarians, Albanians, Serbs, etc. escaped from Turkish imperial rule and achieved national self-determination had just as much to do with resistance to colonialism and imperialism as the equivalent struggle here in Ireland. So why contrast the two processes? The Turkish empire was just as bad in its day as the British empire (remember the Armenian genocide - even today the Ankara regime won't admit that it ever happened).

author by Barrypublication date Wed Dec 08, 2004 16:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It would seem the term "balkanisation" in the article, refers to Harts attempt to portray Irelands anti-colonial struggle as a sectarian squabble.

Harts misleading attempts to highlight the events in Bandon as evidence of the sectarian nature of Irelands struggle for independence can be viewed as justification for partition - Britains false excuse for being here that civilised England has to prevent warring ethnic groups which wont live together from slaughtering each other.

It is clear the term Balkanisation is a comparison to how the former Yugoslavia has been carved up along religous lines. Tom Barrys struggle was to rid Ireland of the illegal British occupation, not to create some ethnically pure Catholic state.

author by Slobodanpublication date Wed Dec 08, 2004 21:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Barry, I wouldn't disagree with your excellent summary of the "balkanisation" theory put forward by "revisionist" historians.
However, I can't help but think that the the concept of Irish history over the last 100 as a "balkanised" conflict is a convincing one when the more recent conflict in the north/Ulster/6counties/norn iron is also taken into account.
And while the "old" IRA may not have necessarily have been striving for an ethically pure Catholic Irish state, their efforts certainly brought about one which was cominated by the Catholic Church - much to the detriment of protestants. I concede that a significant, but small, minority of the War of Indepence IRA would not have intended for this to come about.
Apologies all for straying off the Kilmichael debate.

author by slobodanpublication date Wed Dec 08, 2004 22:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ooops... I mean "dominated by the Catholic Church".

author by Barrypublication date Wed Dec 08, 2004 23:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think it is important to remember that the 2 states which were formed by the British were neither fought for or even envisaged by the IRA in the slightest.

As part of the Govt of Ireland act (1920) they were put by the British to the Irish people as a fait accompli. The message was simple and clear. Accept this state of affairs or else "immediate and terrible war" - essentially genocide and destruction of the entire country by a huge military super power. The IRAs position was clear, the country had ratified its independence, Britain had no right whatsoever to interfere in Irish affairs whatsoever. It is a matter of record that the vast majority of the rank and file IRA bitterly opposed the formation of the free state - hence an extremely bitter and brutal Civil war which lasted about the same lenghth as the Tan War.

The British armed and equipped and even trained to a large extent the free-state side, just as they did exactly the same with the unionists. The Catholic church, which was a bitter and sworn enemy of republicanism for well over a century by then was virtually given control of the state, in the full knowledge it would play its traditional role. Similarly the Orange order was given control over the 6 counties. Therefore in no way can the sectarian lines on which Ireland was divided by Britain be regarded as remotely what the IRA fought for.

It was Lord Birkenhead who openly rejoiced that England "controlled one part directly, the other indirectly, all with a great economy of English lives". This was not even a partial IRA victory but a total British one.

author by Brian Vernonpublication date Wed Dec 08, 2004 23:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

.....coroners evidence that British officials had an opportunity to prevent the Provisional Volunteers from mounting the attack. Instead the Volunteers were allowed to congregate at Loughgall where British forces set up a killing zone. The Volunteers were given no opportunity to surrender. When trapped in this killing field nine people were killed with another civilian receiving serious wounds.

Wonder if Mr Hart would care to give us his assesment of the Loughgall killings, or would that be outside of his terms of reference?

author by pjcrumpublication date Thu Dec 09, 2004 01:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hey this is a bit daft. This happened in the last century. Forget it mate. We are in 2004.

author by Dónal Connollypublication date Thu Dec 09, 2004 02:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The term 'Balkanisation' long predates the break-up of Yugoslavia and it follows that it cannot refer to that process. In fact, it refers to the break-up of Turkey-in-Europe during the Balkan wars of the 19th and early 20th centuries. This process was/is deplored by those cosmopolitan sophisticates who view(ed) the emergence of relatively small mono-ethnic national states from a large empire as a retrograde development that could only impair the onward march of civilisation (now known as 'globalisation'). It seems to me that it is quite reasonable to compare Ireland's liberation from British rule with, e.g. Bulgaria's liberation from Turkish rule, and I can see nothing to regret in either process. But then, unlike those who use 'Balkanisation' as term of opprobrium, I believe in both the principle of national self-determination and the principle that 'small is beautiful'. The sooner all empires are Balkanised the better!

author by Devil Dogpublication date Thu Dec 09, 2004 04:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

How many prisoners did the IRA take? Loughgall was an outstanding success, big boys' games, big boys' rules.

author by pat cpublication date Thu Dec 09, 2004 11:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

so you believe in shooting prosoners out of hand? i presume you remember that the sas also shot 2 civilians at loughall? a bit trigger happy, what?

seeing as you are determined to take the debate outside the relevant period, and you claim to have been an USMC officer, i have some questions for you.

1. Were Washington, Jefferson, Henry, Adams, Madison, terrorists? What Democratic mandate did they have to launch the American War of Independence? They certainly didnt have the sort of mandate the IRA had from the 1918 election.

2. The US Founding Fathers launched actions afainst individual British soldiers as well as engaging in battle. Was this terrorism?

3. The US Founding Fathers launched military actions against those civilians who stayed loyal to the Crown. Was this terrorism?

4. The US Founding Fathers launched actions which drove those civilians who stayed loyal to the Crown out of the US and into Canada. Was this Ethnic Cleansing?

5. Nathan Hale "spied" against the British. He was not in military uniform. He was hanged as a "spy". When asked if he had any regrets he said: "I regret I have only one life to give for my country". Was Nathan Hale an illegal combatant? Was he a terrorist?

author by Brian Vernonpublication date Thu Dec 09, 2004 20:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

By the same token Kilmichael was an outstanding success.

author by Michael Henniganpublication date Fri Dec 10, 2004 11:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Barry writes that 'It is a matter of record that the vast majority of the rank and file IRA bitterly opposed the formation of the free state...'

So how come those who thought that they could inflict a crushing military defeat on the British and establish a 32 county republic could fail comprehensively against what must have been a remnant of the IRA ( i.e. small minority ) that formed the nuclues of the Free State Army?

The IRA was running short of ammunition before the truce in July 1921 and in May that year, it had suffered its greatest setback with the surrender of 120 men at the Custom House in Dublin.

-in the absence of compromise and almost wholly dependent on the British market for trade, dreaming of an ideal is fine but the reality can be a desert.

As to sectarianism, it was De Valera who included a clause in the 1937 Constitution recognising the special position of the Catholic Church and banning divorce - a century and a half after the French Revolution.

Many have trekked to Bodenstown graveyard over the years to pay homage to Wolfe Tone who, influenced by the French Revolution, wished to 'to substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter.'

However, there was little evidence of the spirit of the United Irishmen from the 1920's onward, for many decades.

author by historian2publication date Sat Dec 11, 2004 18:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

How could the Free State/Éire/Ireland avoid being dominated by one religion when that was the object of partition? Have you learnt nothing from 20th century history? Why do you think the Catholic Church supported the treaty and used their influence against the War of Independence? Only under British domination could they be guaranteed of their place; this is what the treaty and partition gave them.
Let us not be diverted into the examination of our own inadequacies, as Hart (being only a public face of the revisionist agenda) and co. would wish.
("Pseudo history" - Irish history isn't real - it's all your imagination. Therefore we can overwrite it and expect you to believe it. "Faith-based" - well, you can't really believe anything Catholics say - they're rather inadequate. And sectarian. What, bigoted, me? It's your imagination. Anyway, I'm an academic, and approved by the great ones on high, i.e. The Irish Times.)
It's a standard imperialist tactic. Under the circumstances, Bunreacht na hÉireann was an amazing achievement , and one to be proud of, as is the fact that we managed to establish an independent state, though partitioned. Let us examine the issues as laid out in the article above.

author by Michael Henniganpublication date Sat Dec 11, 2004 22:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For a self-styled historian, the penchant for superlatives is curious; 'Bunreacht na hÉireann was an amazing achievement.'

Poor Mr. De Valera had no choice but to be steamrolled by Archbishop McQuaid! - and this was an individual who had partcipated in a Civil War for more independence.

There were many templates available for a Constitution and as far back as 1791, the First Amendment to the US Constitution handled the issue of religion very well:

'"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

author by Barrypublication date Sat Dec 11, 2004 23:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

DeValeras constitution, whilst making a claim on Irelands territorial integrity cannot be viewed as a republican document. As well as its inherent sectarianism, it makes no attempt to declare Ireland as a republic or to formally disassociate Ireland from the British commonwealth.

Its republicanism should be viewed alongside DeValeras actions. Within a few short years of the1937 constitution he was bringing over the english hangman Pierrepoint to dispose of Irish patriots. He formed a semi paramilitary deathsquad known as the "Broy Harriers" to assassinate republicans on the streets of Dublin.

As regards Michael Hennigans view of the Free State Army, any in depth reading of republican accounts from that period constantly refers to what were known as "trucileers". That is those who decided to join the IRA when it was both safe and fashionable - during a truce. This is almost identical to the situation in the north today. Theres never any shortage of bandwagon jumpers in this country who will quite happily shoot down true republicans.

Many within the Free State Army were either these types or even ex British Army, of which there was no shortage, such as the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. They were heavily armed by the British and equipped with numerous armoured cars, heavy machine guns, artillery and plentiful supplies of ammunition. The IRA fought a guerilla war against the Brits, they did not try to occupy fixed positions. These tramps were therefore better able to accomplish what the Brits were unable to do- defeat republicanism militarily. The population in general was confused as to who was "our army"

author by historian2publication date Sun Dec 12, 2004 00:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I reserve the right to use superlatives anytime I wish, Mr Hennigan. My qualifications have nothing to do with the matter. And please stop trying to use invective as a way of distracting from the argument.
Actually, de Valera was influenced by the American constitution in the drafting of the Irish constitution.
All the main religions in the country at the time were protected under the constitution, and I doubt any historian would agree with your contention that there was sectarianism inherent in the Irish Constitution.
I repeat, interesting as the discussion on republicanism and its continuance or otherwise in the Ireland maimed by a sectarian partition necessarily is, it isn't strictly relevant to the issue at hand, i.e. revisionism. (My opinion, of course.)

author by roosterpublication date Sun Dec 12, 2004 17:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

by Devil Dog Thursday, Dec 9 2004, 3:49am
How many prisoners did the IRA take? Loughgall was an outstanding success, big boys' games, big boys' rules.

After the sas started to play the ira at their own game the ira called a cease fire within five years.

author by pat cpublication date Sun Dec 12, 2004 20:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the sas/britarmy/ruc were carrying out shoot to kill operations against ira volunteers from 1971, as i am sure you are well aware.

but anyway none of this takes away from the fact that the a lot of extra graves were dug in the sas regimental cemetery due toira action.

author by it's the way they tell thempublication date Sun Dec 12, 2004 22:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"After the sas started to play the ira at their own game the ira called a cease fire within five years."

Ah yes .... it'd remind you of 1919-21 ....
After the IRA started to play the Black & Tans and Auxies at their own game, the Brits called a ceasefire within .... well .... about one and a half years .......

author by Michael Henniganpublication date Mon Dec 13, 2004 00:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

historian2 writes: I doubt any historian would agree with your contention that there was sectarianism inherent in the Irish Constitution.

Until 1972, the Constitution which was written for all Ireland had a clause which read:

The State recognises the special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as the guardian of the Faith professed by the great majority of the citizens.

-I suppose it depends on how sectarianism is defined.

In a review of different constitutions, an Australian expert has written:

In the Constitution of the Irish Republic for example, the preamble reads like a Papal decree, invoking 'the name of the Most Holy Trinity, from whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred'. This preamble is entirely consistent with the historical significance of Catholicism in the definition of Irish Republican identity.

author by barrypublication date Mon Dec 13, 2004 08:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

within these 2 republican and revolutionary documents we have our freedom, secular, Irish and with no reference whatsoever to religious bias and preference. The republicanism which was slaughtered on Vinegar Hill, was put to the sword by papal collaborators in1922 (77 executions). DeValera tried to extinguish it, and now Adams tries to snuff the flame of freedom in his day as well.

As for these tramps who throughout this and other debates have scorned AND RIDICULED Irelands entire struggle for Independence, IGNORE THEM.

Devil Dog and his like have ,sneered constantly not only at Tom B arry, the Loughall massacre, but at the sectarian slaqughter their MI6 fellow travellers are responsible for here. They arent interested in debate, to crow over the graves of murderred I rishmen is the actions of a piece of shite and not worthy of debate. Devil Dog snd his likes are only brit loving human excrement, devoid of human or any other sympathy - ignore the trash.

Mi6 imported the weapons which slaughtered 100s, planted the bombs which killed and maimed dozens of our citizens. This scumbag called Devil Dog thinks its all funny and a big jokr. Ignore his trash comments, he is only scumm and brit loving shite, not worthy of time and debate.

author by roosterpublication date Mon Dec 13, 2004 14:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thats the only SAS man I can remember being shot, perhaps you can think of more?

And as for 1919-1921, after that period Ireland was an economic black hole completely devoid of internal or external investment. London saw that and was trying to get out as quickly as possible before to many of the bills built up.

author by pat cpublication date Mon Dec 13, 2004 14:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the phoenix had an article on the 40 - 50 sas members who died in the north. did they expire from food poisoning?

author by pat cpublication date Mon Dec 13, 2004 18:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was a bit out in my reckoning. But when will we ever read the truth about the sas involvement in the north?

Officially only a handful of sas assassins died in the north. but it has now been revealed that 30 sas men killed in Ireland have been buried in their Regimental cemetery in Sterling Lines, Hereford (8 died from self inflicted wounds). This does not include those given family burials elsewhere. Two including the celebrated Captain Robert Nairac have never been found. (Anyone who ate pork products sourced in north Louth in late 1977 should be feeling queasy at this stage.)

All this came to light when the sas were applying for planning permission for a new cemetery to be located at Credenhill, outside Hereford town. The old cemetery is now full. Hopefully the new one will soon be bursting at the seams!

author by pat cpublication date Mon Dec 13, 2004 18:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

i can only offer comments of my own on indy in 2002 as a source at the moment. but i'll try and track down the article. it does not apear to be online.

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=12463&search_text=hereford&search_comments=on#comment29895
author by historian2publication date Wed Dec 15, 2004 20:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mr Hennigan, out of interest and so I can check the context of the quote, can you tell me which Australian historian you are referring to? Australian historians have their own problems, what with collective amnesia of their country's genocides, etc.

author by Devil dogpublication date Fri Dec 17, 2004 18:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's great to see you descend into the mire of your hatred and ignorance Barry, keep it up. Then again, what can you expect from a supporter of the Omagh murderers, Islamofascist head-hackers and someone who delivers himself of the amazingly insightful opinion that "all Americans are stupid".

I wonder if I or Toneore or RP referred to someone here as "shite" or "human excrement" what the reaction would be?

Pat C, care to mention some of the other actions in which the IRA killed SAS troopers? Westmacott & Slater, that's it.

As for your grisly comment on Nairac's ultimate fate, would you find a Bobby Sands "slimmer of the year" jibe equally amusing?

author by pat cpublication date Sun Dec 19, 2004 20:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

how exactly do you think the sas cemetery was filled? traffic accidents? the sas dont always admit their casualties. they often also pretend that the soldiers were in other regiments eg nairac was only "attached" to the sas.

i agree with you about nairac, my comment was in bad taste. nairacs body should have been returned.

i note that you have not dealt with my points about the US war of independence. please answer them.

author by Barrypublication date Sun Dec 19, 2004 22:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You are absolutely right, my comments were completely over the top, ill-mannered and uncalled for.

If you notice the spelling, you can also deduce I was a bit drunk at the time. Whiskey and political debate obviously dont mix. Apologies again.

author by Michael Henniganpublication date Mon Dec 20, 2004 08:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Interesting historian 2 that your focus is on the individual rather than what was said.

The name is Mark McKenna who is a republican who doesn't ignore his country's past - one in which the Irish were also a part of :

Extract from speech:

I am sure that everyone here tonight will agree that the culture of silence and forgetting over the way in which Aboriginal people have been treated since 1788 has been shattered. We know that the coming of Europeans to this continent resulted in the dispossession of indigenous Australia. We may argue about the ways in which dispossession occurred, but we cannot deny that dispossession was, in so many cases, the result of colonisation.

In 2004 we cannot plead ignorance about the way in which Aboriginal people have been treated since colonisation began in 1788. Nor can we now deny the unique contribution Aboriginal people have made in developing our nation. How then, can we move towards a republic believing that our indigenous people are once again to be thought of as a separate issue, a separate problem?

The starting point for the democratic process that moves us towards a republic should be this. Negotiation with Aboriginal people is crucial at every step in the journey.

The republic is the most powerful promise of constitutional renewal we have before us. Constitutional renewal is not simply a matter of re-branding Australia, or of airbrushing anachronisms from the text of the Constitution. In order to begin anew, constitutional renewal reminds us of our origins. It raises the issue of sovereignty.

author by Devil Dogpublication date Tue Dec 21, 2004 15:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Barry: Apology accepted. You're a gentleman, although you may need to watch not only the quantity but also the quality of the booze you imbibe.

Pat C: I can't find your questions but to cut it short, I don't know THAT much about US WoI but I don't think it's as clearcut as you make out and certainly not comparable to NI. Let's face it, if the Brit King hadn't been such an idiot, the settlers, who were British themselves, wouldn't have fought a war for independence.

As for the SAS not admitting members being killed by the IRA - why admit Westmacott & Slater and not others?

And what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander - Was every IRA volunteer killed admitted as such? How about Fergal Carraher, Liam Ryan and the 3 from Cappagh killed in 1991 for starters?

author by pat cpublication date Tue Dec 21, 2004 15:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

why would the sas admit 2 losses and not others? i dont know. you claim to be a (former) USMC officer you might be able to work out the thinking behind it. maybe its because the sas like to portray themselves as super-soldiers.

but, the sas cemetery was still full 2 yrs ago. so was this due to food poisoning, traffic accidents, boredom, what do you reckon?

the IRA eventually claimed those you name as Volunteers. they are on the Roll of Honour.

i am shocked that a USMC officer would be ignorant of events in the US WoI. it is relevant because of the tactics used by the Founding Fathers. tactics you condemn when used by the IRA in the 1920s. hers the Qs:

1. Were Washington, Jefferson, Henry, Adams, Madison, Hamilton terrorists? What Democratic mandate did they have to launch the American War of Independence? They certainly didnt have the sort of mandate the IRA had from the 1918 election.

2. The US Founding Fathers launched actions against individual British soldiers as well as engaging in battle. Was this terrorism?

3. The US Founding Fathers launched military actions against those civilians who stayed loyal to the Crown. Was this terrorism?

4. The US Founding Fathers launched actions which drove those civilians who stayed loyal to the Crown out of the US and into Canada. Was this Ethnic Cleansing?

5. Nathan Hale "spied" against the British. He was not in military uniform. He was hanged as a "spy". When asked if he had any regrets he said: "I regret I have only one life to give for my country". Was Nathan Hale an illegal combatant? Was he a terrorist?

author by Daithipublication date Thu Dec 21, 2006 19:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

My name is Daithi O'Chrualaoich and my grandfather was the famous "scout" who basically saved a lot of 3rd Br. F.C. on that day.
I cordially invite any one (or more) of these pseudo- "historians"
to contest what my grandfather told me exactly what happened on that fateful day as he lay on his deathbed at the age of 96.
all responses to this e-mail tafbel@hotmail.com
As Gaeilge freisen

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