Flight of the Earls
Crash of Flight 633
Pope John Paul II September 1979
|Ireland in 1978|
The European Court of Human Rights found Britain guilty of inhuman and
degrading treatment of republican internees in Northern Ireland.
January 19th: The Fianna Fáil government dismissed the Garda Commissioner Edmund Garvey without explanation.
January 21st: Johnny Giles resigned as manager of the Republic of Ireland national football team.
January 24th: Eddie Gallagher and Dr. Rose Dugdale, both jailed for their part in the kidnap of Tiede Herrema, were married in Limerick prison.
February 17th: The IRA killed twelve Protestant civilians in the La Mon Restaurant Bombing.
February 18th: Police in Northern Ireland arrested at least 20 people in connection with the La Mon bombing.
February 26th: Film critic Ciaran Carty hailed the Irish language film Poitín for its deromanticization of the west.
Aftermath of the La Mon bombing
Wood Quay protest
March 4th: General James Emmet Dalton died aged 80. He had led the bombardment of the Four Courts andwas with Michael Collins when he was assassinated.
March 6th: Micheál Mac Liammóir, poet, actor and founder of the Gate Theatre, died.
March 23rd: The state funeral of former President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh took place in Sneem, County Kerry.
March 31st: 6,000 people marched through Dublin to Wood Quay to protest against the building of civic offices on the Viking site.
April 7th: British Prime Minister James Callaghan and Taoiseach Jack Lynch met at the European Community summit at Copenhagen.
Collins, a Catholic teenager, was shot dead by the British Army while
he was travelling in a stolen car outside Andersonstown RUC base,
May 16th: The Irish Minister for Education Gemma Hussey announced a new £20 million project that would create the transition year in post-primary schools.
June 1st: David Cook of the Alliance Party became the first non-unionist Lord Mayor of Belfast.
June 4th: Belfast flute player James Galway reached no. 10 in the British charts with Annie’s Song.
June 13th: In a report, Amnesty International claimed that people held at Castlereagh RUC detention centre on the outskirts of Belfast had been ill-treated.
'Annie's Song' by James Galway
John Carroll of the ITGWU addresses protesters
July 31st: U2 played McGonagle's in Dublin in support of Modern Heirs and Revolver.
August 18th - 20th: Over 5,000 people took part in a rally against a nuclear power station at Carnsore Point, County Wexford.
August 21st: RTÉ broadcasted Eddie Macken on Boomerang winning the Aga Khan trophy.
August 27th: 10,000 people took part in a march from Coalisland to Dungannon, County Tyrone, to commemorate the first civil rights march 10 years earlier.
September 1st: Dublin Institute of Technology was created on an ad hoc basis by the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee.
September 6th: Gerry Adams, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), was cleared of a charge of membership of the IRA.
September 9th: U2 supported The Stranglers at the Top Hat Ballroom in Dublin before a crowd of 2,500 people, their biggest gig to date.
October 12th: The IRA put a bomb on a Belfast to Dublin train. A woman was killed when it exploded without warning.
U2 in 1978
RTÉ 2 logo from 1978
Ireland's second national television channel, RTÉ 2, opened with a live broadcast from the Cork Opera House.
November 28th: A Bill was passed in the House of Commons to increase the number of Northern Ireland Members of Parliament at Westminster.
December: Cork Regional Hospital officially opened in Cork.
December 21st: The IRA shot dead three British soldiers at Crossmaglen.
1917 - 1918 in IrelandBy 1917, the tide of public opinion had turned decisively towards the rebels of 1916. Sinn Féin swept to victory in the general election of 1918.
Crowds turn out in Dublin to welcome the last of the men detained during the Rising and released in June 1917
An anti-conscription rally in May 1918. Eamon de Valera shared a platform with John Dillon, the leader of the Nationalist party, in Dillon's home town of Ballaghadareen, Co. Roscommon. In the December 1918 election, De Valera would deprive Dillon of the seat he had held since 1885
Author: Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh
Ireland Before The Famine 1798 - 1848
Publisher: Gill & MacMilland
Date published: 2002 (1972)
In the latter part of the 18th century, Ireland's economy was expanding and her population increasing rapidly. Yet all was not well. Government was in the hands of the Protestant Ascendancy; Catholics suffered discrimination; and one third of the population depended for sustenance on a single, vulnerable crop. A doomed rebellion in 1798 led to Union with Britain. Ó Tuathaigh carefully sifts through the facts, arguing that Ireland's economic decline following the Union was not simply a consequence of losing protecting tariffs. He describes the role of the British state and its attempts to maintain control over a volatile situation through a mixture of education, welfare and coercion. The British government gradually conceded Catholic emancipation, but would not budge on Repeal of the Union, and also struggled with the thorny issue of tithes paid by the masses to an Established Church that was not their own. When disaster struck in 1845 and the crop on which so many depended began to fail year after year, the impact was felt not only in a loss of life, but also in the decline of the old culture and language. Ó Tuathaigh analyses the tragic events of this time and argues that what happened should not be called 'genocide'; the state was simply too weak for the concerted action needed to deal with the Famine.
Extract from August – October 1920
Cormac K.H. O'Malley, 1936, 1979, 2002
Lynch had a high domed forehead. When he smiled I could see a row of
large teeth; his face tightened quickly on his smile. He was quiet, but
forceful and commanding. He tapped the table impatiently with his
pencil at side issues and quickly worked through a long agenda. His
eyes had large pupils which grew blacker and larger when he stammered
in anger. He had a clear, well-organised mind. He made frequent notes
in a loose-leaf notebook as we talked.
That night Liam told me about the capture of General Lucas. He had been with two officers on a fishing trip when Liam and his officers came upon them. Liam did not like to tie their arms. Lucas and Danford, a staff officer, were in the back of one car guarded by Paddy Clancey, who stood up to face them. The officers spoke to each other quickly in Arabic, then Danford made a dive for Clancy's gun and Lucas jumped on Liam who was in the front of the car. Clancy was suffering from the effects of a hunger-strike in goal, but he fought off Danford. Lucas twisted round Liam's Parabellum till its muzzle was against his chest, but the safety-catch was on. Liam slipped it off, twisted the gun and made Lucas put up his hands; then Liam fired at Danford who was overpowering Clancy. The other officer, Tyrrell, was left behind with the wounded Danford and a car. 'It was a near thing,' Liam said. 'Lucas nearly crushed my hand as we twisted the gun every which way.' The prisoner had seen a good deal of the country as he moved through north Cork to west Limerick, Clare and back to east Limerick. 'He must have learned a lot more about us than he should,' I said.
General Liam Lynch
column or Active Service Unit – ASU – was developing in the
south. East Limerick had organized the first column, but it had kept
away from me. I had a bad reputation for working men too hard. The
North Cork column of twenty-four men was drawn from battalion staffs;
Liam had some brigade officers with him as well. I trained the column
in field work for over three weeks, as we moved around; at night the
men attended lectures that I gave to officers of the local battalion.
There was great rivalry between the squads. Nightly they held councils to discuss the day's training and the ground problems for the next day. In the morning squad commanders came to a column council where they made suggestions and interpreted the complaints and difficulties of their men; an action council to discuss operations was attended by the local battalion staff. In two weeks' time I felt that we could carry out attacks. Liam was worried; if we were surrounded and beaten or surprised at night the officers would be a great loss. Often an area depended on the personality of its commandant.
Paddy McCarthy, our quartermaster, was stocky; he had a rosy, eager face. His cap was at an angle on his thick hair. He was very good-humoured; that was unusual for a QM who had too many worries through excessive demands on his small resources. He sang at unexpected times. He had a huge sack from which he could draw pencils, sticks of gelignite, a bull's eye card, a textbook or cigarettes. He drew out the articles with a surprised flourish. A shortage of tobacco was hard on all of us except Liam. None of the men drank; drinking was discouraged by senior officers. They usually set the example. We had to keep our wits clear and to avoid random talk.
Liam Lynch and I went off on foot to inspect the road from Mallow to Cork. Convoys passed along there frequently through a pass in the hills; armoured cars escorted lorries and two or three lorries often went together. We found two good positions. We looked at them from either side and from either end, and decided where we would place scouts, signallers and men. Whilst I was giving a lecture in a barn to officers that night, Liam was called outside. After the lecture he said, 'The Mallow commandant brought out a young lad named Bolster, but I thought I'd wait until you were finished. He's working in the military barracks, and says he thinks it can be taken.'
The boy was seated in the kitchen of the house where we two slept. Liam brought him into another room and closed the door; we sat down at a table. The boy was tall, serious looking, a little nervous at first, but by degrees the nervousness wore off. He had a strong Cork accent and was eager to speak. He spoke evenly; we both eyed him closely as he talked.
'Are you a Volunteer?' Liam asked.
'Yes, sir, and I want to help in any way I can.'
'What do you know about the barracks?'
'I am a painter and I work there with another chap, Willis, who will do anything you want him to. The arms are nearly all in the guardroom at certain times.'
'How many men in the guardroom?'
'Four or five.'
'How many sentries are there?'
'One inside the main gate during the daytime.'
'How many officers?'
'One and a sergeant-major. The regiment is the Lancers, the 17th – they call themselves 'The Death or Glories' – and there are about forty or fifty men.'
'Can you draw a rough plan?'
On a piece of paper he outlined buildings, sheds, the guardroom and the sentry. 'In the morning the horses are taken out for exercise, and about eight or nine men and the officer go with them.'
Liam asked him to come out next evening; in the meantime he was to examine the guardroom without attracting attention.
'Well, what do you think of it?' said Liam.
'It looks simple enough,' I replied. 'We could take the barracks in the morning-time.'
'Do you think Bolster can be trusted; perhaps it's a trap?'
'He gave his information steadily. Two machine-guns and thirty rifles are worth a risk. We often have men killed trying to capture a rifle.'
Next day we went into Mallow, walked around the military barracks and the side streets and had a look at the police barracks. The difficulty would be to bring in the column in the morning. They would be noticed, and the people of Mallow – long a garrison town – were not very friendly. The Town Hall stood high above the houses near it. 'We could bring the men in at night and stay in the Town Hall till morning,' I said.
'Yes we could,' said Liam. We looked at the back walls leading up to the town hall, then we walked back to Burnfort. We decided to act at once; the garrisons might be strengthened at any moment or additional sentries might be posted The plan was formed and reformed. Our quartermaster, McCarthy, would go next morning to the barracks as an overseer to superintend the work of the two painters. Each would carry a revolver. When the troopers left to exercise the horses, I would knock at the barrack gate and say I had a letter for the officer. When I had disarmed the sentry, the other three, who were to be working near the guardroom, would hold up the guard and wait for the rest of the column. Motor-cars and drivers were to be ready outside the town, waiting to move in when signalled to by our scouts.
In the evening Bolster came out. Liam asked, 'Can another man go in with you to the barracks?'
'Yes, he can come in with me in the morning; the Lancers won't notice anything.'
'Can you use a gun?'
'No, nor can my pal; we've never handled guns before.'
He was shown how to load and unload, how to grip, then our plan was explained to him. We watched McCarthy and Bolster disappear into the darkness with three revolvers; we hoped they would not be held up before they reached the town.
The column was drawn up. They smiled joyfully when they were told that we were going to seize the barracks. At two in the morning, behind our scouts, we moved into the town. The advance guard was told to make prisoners of everyone they met and blindfold them. There were no lights in the houses, no people in the streets. The men moved quietly and that was a comfort, each was part of the adventure. Our approach up to higher ground brought us through back yards, barbed wire and across high walls. We used ladders on the high walls. When I looked down on the houses I saw a toy town, blurred and misty with half light and warm through changing shadow colour. The nerve straining to sense danger increased until we were safe in the large town hall.
We had not disturbed the inhabitants or their dogs. Scattered throughout the rooms we lay on the floors and waited. For the first hour we were ready in position for a surprise attack. We might have been seen by someone who would report us to the peelers or the military. We're like the Greeks in the wooden horse, here in the belly of the town, I thought, and laughed. Dave Shinnock, the column adjutant, was with me in one of the frontrooms as we peered out into the night through a window; he asked me why I laughed and I whispered to him the end of the siege of Troy. Later I heard him whisper it to the men in an inner room, and when I passed through, a boy slapped the wall and said,'Now, girl, whoa girl, steady here,' and made a wind purr with his mouth as if he were rubbing down a horse.
At dawn our scouts reported. Nothing unusual in the military or police barracks; our entry had not been noticed. Liam and I moved cautiously through the rooms of the town hall, a massive old building, and noted how it could be defended in case we were attacked.
Then we waited, impatiently. At nine o'clock the horses were usually exercised. At ten o'clock a scout to say that the horses and riders had left the barracks. Riflemen were placed in position to cover the police barracks and the approaches to it, and to hold up passing lorries; but we had few men for the work Liam and I had already detailed off men and had questioned them until we felt that they knew what they had to do. The work had to be done quickly and there could be no bungling, but we had to make allowances for the excitement.
my trousers out over my long boots, placed a Parabellum automatic in
the breast pocket of my coat and borrowed an overcoat, which I put on.
Liam shook hands with me as I left by the back door. 'I hope nothing
goes wrong with the timing,' he said, 'or you will find yourself
holding up the barracks alone.' I walked up to the gate of the
barracks. Paddy O'Brien from the column was some distance behind. I
knocked. A face with a tin hat on its head peered through the iron
grating. 'What do you want?' said a voice.
'I've a letter for the officer commanding.' He unbolted the door. I passed through. He closed it. He stood in a half-on-guard position, the bayonet of his rifle pointed at me. About fifteen yards away was a group of Lancers, others stood around the barracks yard. I held the letter in my left hand; as he stretched out for it, I bent down and put on the safety catch on his rifle so that he could not fire. I snatched the rifle from his hands, slipped off the safety-catch and shouted, 'Put up your hands!' He put them up quickly. I backed and opened the door; our men rushed in. The guardroom was held up as soon as I had disarmed the sentry.
A Crossley Tender British army vehicle
drove in. Rapidly, rifles, revolvers, lances, swords, ammunition and
equipment were carried out to them. I heard a shot and saw a Lancer
fall as I rushed with two men for the officers' quarters, but I had no
time to investigate. Upstairs we went, to find the officer's room
locked. With a smash three of us broke in the door. Inside was a
soldier – the officer's orderly. We searched for papers but did
not find many. Later we discovered a large tin box full which was too
heavy for us to carry. I sent down for two more men. On the officer's
desk was an unfinished letter: 'Mallow is a very quiet town; nothing
ever happens here...'
I saw motor-cars move off, long lances stuck out and pennons waved. A wounded sergeant-major lay on the ground; some of his men were trying to stop the blood whilst I bandaged his stomach wound. I heard Liam order all men to leave the barracks. 'But it hasn't been properly searched yet,' I said, 'and it hasn't been burned.'
'We have no time,' he said, hurriedly. I tried to stop the flow of blood whilst the comrades of the dying man stood around. I heard a shout from the gate. Jerry Kieley, a rifle slung on his back, ran towards me.
'I came back,' he said, 'when I heard you were alone. Why didn't some of them stay?'
'Let's move those bales into the building,' I said.There were compressed hay bundles in the yard. We tugged them towards the main building, loosened them inside and set fire to the hay, then we dashed through the gate and down the town. We caught up with some of the rearguard, seated on an ass and cart; their rifles covered the road behind them. One was playing a melodeon. The thin swirl of smoke from the barracks did not increase.
Above Burnfort we halted. Thirty rifles, two Hotchkiss guns, small arms and over four thousand rounds of ammunition had been captured, and had been brought by the motor-cars to a safe place in the opposite direction. Sentries were thrown out while some of the men slept. Twelve miles away was Fermoy with a strong enemy garrison of about fifteen hundred men. Buttervant with its hutments and camps was eight miles away, and was a battalion headquarters. We could expect a concentration of troops in and around Mallow. The Mallow commandant sent off dispatch-riders to mobilize some of the armed men in the battalion. After some time they came, poorly armed, mostly with shotguns, and reinforced our outposts.
'We must surely get away as soon as it gets dark,' said Liam,'there will surely be a round-up, a big one, and they'll know that we've come in this direction.'
Some of the column officers wanted to remain with me to help the local men defend the town against reprisal parties. 'We must get away,' Liam said, 'the local men can easily avoid the round-up. We must get twenty-five or thirty miles away before the morning.' The Mallow commandant received instructions. He said he would do his best to defend the town. 'The colonel from Buttevant has promised the parish priest and the minister that there won't be reprisals,' he added.
'We cannot rely on such a promise,' I said.
Bolster and his friend Willis were now members of the column. We started off in ponies and traps, strung out at intervals. We lifted the cars across trenches and through gaps where the roads were blocked with heavy, fallen trees. We hauled and pushed them across streams where the bridges had been smashed, we removed heaps of stones or networks of boulders strewn over a long stretch of road. We bumped over filled-in trenches and lurched into deep pot-holes. This battalion had done its work well. Enemy would find it difficult to penetrate. The rearguard had to put back the obstacles.
We halted from time to time on rising ground to look towards the town. At first we could see a faint haze, the lights of Mallow, then it dimmed as we moved on; nothing had happened. Later we saw a dim glare; but as we watched it seemed to disappear. Could it be the town? The men would surely defend it. Some hours later we came to a high hill and as the ponies struggled on the bad road the men jumped out and ran up quickly. Away in the distance were flickers of light, separated by intervals of darkness. The flames leapt up as the wind increased. It was Mallow. 'I hope to God it rains,' said the adjutant. Another pointed to a big glare in the centre. 'What's that?' he said. 'It must be the creamery; that means about three hundred out of work.'
Bolster looked at the leaping stabs of flame. 'I think it's the town hall.' There was a silence for a time as we watched, helpless. The sheltering belly of our horse had paid for harbouring us.
'Damn it, it's terrible,' said Liam, 'to think of the women and children in there and the Tans and soldiers sprawling around drunk, setting fire to the houses.' The enemy had revenged the capture of the barracks on the townspeople. Our elation at success ebbed way; we felt cowardly and miserable; in silence we journeyed on amongst the hills.
Next morning we learned that an aeroplane from the Fermoy direction had circled around Mallow barracks, some time after the colonel had given his promise, and had dropped a message. It had flown towards Buttevant and had then returned to Fermoy. Some of the people felt secure, others nailed up galvanized zinc in front of their glass windows so as not to expose the glass to temptation. In the night the soldiers from Buttevant and Fermoy had come in lorries, equipped with sprays and incendiary grenades. The local Lancers joined then; they had burnt the creamery, the second largest in the south of the country, the town hall and ten houses. A Volunteer fire-brigade had confined the flames although they had been fired upon repeatedly. The police from the barracks and the few Tans there had given shelter to some women and children who had fled from their homes; an expectant mother and a woman, who had spent the night in a graveyard, died of exposure.