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Laziness and Propaganda Have Unfairly Tarnished The Black and Tans' Reputation

category national | arts and media | news report author Thursday August 31, 2006 03:55author by Kevin Myers (with explanatory notes) - West British Independent

Part One; Tomorrow Kevin Myers rescues Hitler’s Waffen SS from the verdict of woolly headed liberals

[Explanatory comments on Kevin's news from the bunker are in italics below. Please note, the headline and article by Kevin Myers is not a spoof. He wrote this.]

Irish Independent August 29, 2006

Kevin Myers

ON Friday, June 23, in a village in Surrey, an old man breathed his last, and with him went a connection to one of the bloodiest episodes of the Troubles of 1919-21, and to another, and one of the strangest.

Brigadier Mortimer Kelleher MC, aged 98, was the son of Jeremiah Kelleher, a general practitioner in Macroom, and the brother of Captain Philip Kelleher, DI, RIC. Like Mortimer, he was a holder of the Military Cross.

[Good start, Kevin Myers carries his own cross for the British military.]
"Lazyness and propaganda": something Kevin Myers knows a lot about
"Lazyness and propaganda": something Kevin Myers knows a lot about

The caricature of the Auxiliaries and the Black and Tans is now so firmly established in the public mind, reinforced by lazy historians and propagandising film-makers, that it is quite impossible to present an alternative view: that many of the New Police - as the force was more properly known - were driven not just by mercenary motives but according to the lights of their conscience.

["Impossible to present an alternative view": why does Kev waste his and our time then? For the entertainment value perhaps.]

Contrary to myth, the jails of England were not emptied in order to fill the ranks of the new RIC force, though to be sure, many British recruits were tempted by the money.

[Oh, "to be sure", Kev.]

But other recruits were middle class Irish Catholics, who were apparently drawn by the need to prevent the country from falling into anarchy - which was precisely where it was then heading.

[Ah, the "middle class Irish Catholic": he decided to burn Cork, Fermory and Balbriggan, as well as all those Protestant owned creameries, did he? In order “to prevent the country from falling into anarchy”. Pull the other one, Major Myarse. ]

One such man was District Inspector James Joseph Brady, a former officer with the Irish Guards, and son of Louis Brady, the Dublin Harbour Master, and nephew of PJ Brady, MP for St Stephen's Green. He joined the RIC in March 1920, aged 21.

Technically, therefore, he was a Black and Tan - but he was active in preventing reprisals by the security forces in Sligo after IRA atrocities.

[“Active in preventing reprisals by the security forces in Sligo.” What an exceptionally decent chap. A pity his kind was exceptionally unsuccessful in preventing torture, brutality, random assassination and the shooting of prisoners. Brigadier-General F P Crozier resigned from his position in charge of the Auxiliaries because he was prevented from dismissing the perpetrators of atrocities in British ranks.

Crozier was not the only one to resign. So too did RIC Constable Jeremiah Mee in Listowel. Here is a short account of what happened.

Colonel Gerald Bryce Ferguson Smyth had been appointed Divisional Police Commissioner for Munster on June 3 1920. On June 17 the police in Listowel were ordered to hand over their barracks to the British military and most of them were transferred to different stations in the district where they were to act as scouts for the troops. The police held a meeting and decided not to obey these orders. The following day the county inspector, Poer O'Shee, came to Listowel and when he tried to force the men to obey fourteen of them threatened to resign.

Next morning, June 19, Colonel Smyth arrived at Listowel barracks. He was accompanied by the inspector general, General Tudor, a commissioner of police from Dublin Castle, Major Letham, the county inspector, Poer O'Shee, the O.C. of the military stationed at Ballinruddery, Captain Chadwick, and Assistant County Inspector Dobbyn, and it was obvious that the purpose of his visit was to deal with insubordination on June 17.

Smyth asserted that the crown forces would have to take the offensive and beat the Republicans at their own game. To this end martial law would come into force immediately and by June 21 the police and military would be completely amalgamated. Then, together, police and military would engage in a ruthless pacification programme and if, in the course of it, innocent people were killed he would see to it that no policeman would have to answer for such an eventuality.

Mee responded: 'By your accent I take it you are an Englishman. You forget you are addressing Irishmen.' Then taking off his cap, belt and bayonet and laying them on the table, he continued: 'These too are English. Take them as a present from me, and to hell with you, you murderer.' Mee was supported by his RIC colleagues, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. It is the kind of historical incident Kevin Myers does not take any interest in. He prefers ‘new police’, Black and Tan style, to 'old police', Jeremiah Mee style.

See for a fuller account.]

His patrol was ambushed by the IRA near Tubbercurry, and he was dreadfully and fatally wounded by explosive dum-dum bullets in September 1920.

[Dum de dum: if so Brady was shot with British bullets as the IRA captured their ammunition from British forces. The British Army manufactured 'dum-dum' bullets. It is a well known, though not to K Myers, fact.]

Joining the RIC at around the same time as young Brady was Philip Kelleher, like him a Catholic veteran of the Great War, having won a Military Cross with the Leinster Regiment. Similarly, Kelleher achieved rapid promotion, being made District Inspector within two months of joining.

He was one of 13 children, his brother Mortimer being 11 years younger than him. A few days after DI Brady was killed, DI Philip Kelleher went unaccompanied into the Greville Arms Hotel in Granard, Co Longford.

Why on earth would a man as vulnerable as this young police officer go alone into the hotel that had been the centre of Sinn Fein activity in the area since 1917? It was owned and run by the Kiernan family – and was one daughter of the household, Kitty Kiernan, not the sweetheart of Michael Collins?


So what was he doing there? The contemporary newspaper accounts tell us nothing other than that he was alone in the hotel, unarmed and in civilian clothes.

Was he there to meet someone? Who was that someone? Could it have been Collins? Or one of the famously pretty Kiernan sisters? And was he betrayed? Whatever the truth about that, he was shot and killed as he sat in the bar. His body was sent back to Macroom for burial.

[Translation: “I haven’t a clue but I can make up drivel as I go along.”]

Three weeks later, his father, Jeremiah Kelleher, was called out to conduct post-mortems on the 16 RIC Auxiliaries killed at Kilmichael. He found that some of the bodies had been mutilated after death.

[Wrong Kev. Kelleher did not make this finding. It was an invention of British propaganda. Read Brian Murphy’s Origin and organisation of British Propaganda 1920 (2006). Even Peter Hart, normally an academic version of Kevin Myers, admitted, "the medical evidence does not support the accusations of mutilation".]

A 17th, Cadet Guthrie, who had escaped, was captured next day, held for two more days - what an interesting time that must have been – before being murdered and his corpse buried secretly in Inchigeela bog.

[Myers is lazily rehashing propaganda he penned for the Irish Times. From ‘Forget not the Boys’ of Kilmichael by Manus O’Riordan:

In the same issue (Irish Times, December 2) Kevin Myers objects to Pádraig Ó Cuanacháin’s use of words in saying (November 28) that the totally uninvolved civilian Séamus Ó Liatháin was “murdered in cold blood” but that the Auxie storm-trooper Cecil Guthrie was “executed”. Yet in what Myers refers to as “Peter Hart’s outstanding study” Guthrie is also described as “executed”. What Hart nonetheless fails to mention is that in one of the reference works which he himself cites, Father Pat Twohig’s “Green Tears for Hecuba”, Guthrie was identified as the actual Auxie who had murdered Ó Liatháin in Ballymakeera.

Myers proceeds to re-echo Hart’s incorrect claim that Ó Liatháin was “the only person killed by the Macroom Auxiliaries before Kilmichael”. They were in fact in the process of establishing a reign of terror over what they regarded as the untermenschen of the West Cork Gaeltacht.

(Note: “Untermenschen”, literally “less than men”, was the term used by the German Nazis to describe those whom they regarded as “lesser breeds”, the indigenous inhabitants of Eastern Europe whose countries they had invaded and occupied).

Sunday after Sunday the Auxies systematically descended on Ballingeary at Mass-time in order to corral and abuse the villagers as they emerged from worship. And in a “shoot-to-kill” mission on November 10, 1920 they murdered the unarmed Volunteer Criostóir Ó Luasa in the neighbouring townland of Túirín Dubh. Hart chose to make no reference whatsoever to this murder, nor to the subsequent encounter between the gloating Auxies and the local parish priest and Gaelic scholar, an t-Athair Donncha Ó Donnchú, at whom they gleefully roared “There’s work for you back there!”.

By way of contrast with the vendetta pursued against Barry’s reputation, the Gaeltacht Volunteer leader Micheál Ó Súilleabháin was one IRA commander about whom Hart could not find a bad word to say. He referred to Ó Súilleabháin’s annoyance at having to cancel his own plans to attack Macroom Castle after Kilmichael. But he avoided quoting what Ó Súilleabháin actually wrote of Kilmichael in the latter’s own memoirs, “Where Mountainy Men Have Sown”. For Ó Súilleabháin clearly set the ambush in the context of what proved to be unmentionable for Hart, the murder of Criostóir Ó Luasa:

“He was not armed. It was a pity, for it was a remarkable fact that even a shot or two exchanged with these warriors disturbed their aim unduly. A few weeks later these marauding Auxiliaries were trapped at Kilmichael, a few miles to the south of our area. Seventeen of them were killed”.

Indeed they were, and the course of the War of Independence was altered.

See ]

If you are going to fight a guerrilla insurgency, ambushes like Kilmichael are the inevitable consequence. It is really neither here nor there that some men were shot after they had surrendered.

[“Neither here nor there.” As in, it didn’t happen hear or there. Old Kev is making it up again. He doesn’t mention the originator of this fiction, Peter Hart, anymore, because Hart’s assault on the account of the Auxiliary false surrender at Kilmichael has been thoroughly discredited. Do a search for ‘Peter Hart’ on Indymedia.]

Ambushes are meant to kill all who fall into them. They are intrinsically wicked instruments: and Kilmichael was merely a scaled-up version of Solohead Beg, in itself a very wicked act indeed.

[“Oh, wicked, wicked, wickedly wicked. Another bottle of ‘WKD alcopop’ please barmaid. My prose is truly wicked.”].

But in a way, even more sordid than the actual deeds was how they have been hailed since. People have sung rousing ballads about Kilmichael, as if there were something musically and lyrically laudable about butchering helpless captives, even as they were pleading for their lives.

[“Butchering”: another theme of British propaganda at the time. Another discredited smear from the pen of an imperial drone.]

Young Mortimer, who was 12 at the time of his brother's murder and the slaughter of the Auxiliaries down the road from his family home, was soon sent away to school in Castleknock, thence to UCC where he studied medicine.

[A medical student, just like Kevin Barry. There the comparison ends, as Barry, one of the recently re-interred ‘Mountjoy Ten’, was hanged for being a soldier in the army of Irish democracy against British imperialism.

Like so many Irish medical graduates of the time, he joined the British Royal Army Medical Corps, and later won the Military Cross in Palestine, saving the lives of two soldiers under fire in the course of a terrorist ambush.

[Ah Palestine. What ever happened to the British guarantee to their First World War Arab allies of independence for Palestine? ‘Young Mortimer’ was saving the soldiers of the Crown, and doggedly prosecuting the ‘white man’s burden’ against inferior races who rejected their ordained position of supplication and servitude. Kevin is right to doff his cap in salute and to tug his forelock in gratitude. He should be on the Queens honours list, hopefully very, very soon.]

One rather feels, like father like son. Remarkably, Mort, who made it to the rank of one-star general, outlived his adult brother by nearly 86 years.

THERE are no Irish ballads about the Kehellers [sic] of this world - men who have taken the Hippocratic Oath to protect life, and who spend their lives doing just that.

[Unlike Kevin, who has taken the ‘Hippocritic Oath’.]

But give me the unlauded Kehellers (and indeed the DI Bradys) any day to the killers who are hailed in the depraved anthems of republicanism - not least because those who warble threnodies to murderers never quite rid themselves of murder.

[But you are wrong again Kev, there is a song, or rather a poem, that someone with your talents could surely put to music. Then you could warble your own threnody:


Come all you staunch revisionists
And listen to my song,
It's short and it's unusual
And it won't detain you long.
It's all about a soldier
Who has carried history's can,
Who dodged Tom Barry and Dan Breen
The gentle Black and Tan.

'Twas the curse of unemployment
That drove him to our shore.
His jacket black and trousers tan
Like a badge of shame he wore.
"Subdue the rebel Irish
And shoot them when you can!"
"May God forgive me if I do,"
Prayed the gentle Black and Tan.

The burning of Cork city
Was indeed a mighty blaze.
The jewellers' shops were gutted
Not before the spoils were shared.
Gold and silver ornaments,
Rings and watches for each man,
"But I only struck the matches,"
Said the gentle Black and Tan.

Croke Park and Bloody Sunday
Was our hero's greatest test.
The spectators on the terraces
Nigh impossible to miss.
With salt tears his eyes were blinded
And down his cheeks they ran,
So he only shot Mick Hogan
The gentle Black and Tan.

So take heed you blinkered Nationalists
Fair warning take from me.
If you want to live in safety
And keep this land at sea.
Take heed of our three heroes
Murphy, Edwards and Yer Man,
Who will sing the fame and clear the name
Of the gentle Black and Tan.

By Breandan O hÉithir

See for more: Eoghan Harris’s attempt to rescue the Black & Tans from history’s verdict]

Related Link:

Wrong again Kev - your guys are celebrated in song
Wrong again Kev - your guys are celebrated in song

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