Twice a hero by Phil Tomkins

Twice a hero by Phil Tomkins

A soldiers story written by a soldier.

The true story of hardship and horror in the blood and mud as seen through the eyes of a teenage volunteer and his comrades in the forgotten conflicts of Salonika and Palestine,during the great war,fighting for the freedoms of small nations and in particular,during the Great War,fighting for the freedom of small nations and in particular for Home Rule in Ireland.Then testing his extraordinary courage in the Irish War of Independence,which ended 700 years of bloody struggle and helped establish a nation.
Phil Tomkins.
The Book is dedicated to my maternal Grandmother Mrs Annie (Nan) Hewitt(nee Adamson),men and women of the Athlone Brigade,Irish Republican Army and the many brave Irishmen of Kitcheners army who served in the Great War,who gave their lives in the mistaken belief that their sacrifice would lead to an Independent Ireland.
Phil Tomkins.
This is a very good book, it covers the life of George Adamson,his joining the 10.th Irish division in 1915,to his induction to the Leinster Regiment and the serice of these units in Salonika and Macedonia, 1916-1917.The campaigns are covered in detail up to George’s discharge from the British Army after 4 years and thirty eight days,,he was awarded the DCM.
On his return to Ireland he joined the Athlone Brigade IRA,because of his military past he was promoted to Vice O/C of the brigade.
The book is very well researched and there are very interesting details regarding service in the British army in ww1 and also good detail on the Athlone Brigade in the the Irish War of Independence.
It is the story of one Irishmans short life,but what an eventful life he had,and he ultimately gave his life for Ireland.

IRISH WAR OF INDEPENDENCE EXHIBITION DISPLAY & LECTURE Limerick city

IRISH WAR OF INDEPENDENCE EXHIBITION DISPLAY & LECTURE
The Irish Volunteer Commemorative Organisation is happy to announce an exhibition, lecture and display over 2 days on Saturday and Sunday, March 3rd and 4th, 2012.
The event opens each morning at 10:00 am and ends at 6:00 pm.
The event will take place at the Best Western Perys Hotel (Formerly Glentworth Hotel), Glentworth Street, Limerick City. http://www.perys.ie/ Tel (+353) 61 413822
The Hotel is centrally located and the train and bus stations are only 500 yards away. Parking is available.

The Glenwoth Hotel 1919-1922
An exhibition of Irish Volunteer items from 1913 to 1923 will be on display and we will have members on hand to answer any questions from the general public.
The lecture will be given by well known historian & author Tom Toomey, author of the excellent book “The War of Independence in Limerick 1912-1921”.
Entry will be 5 euro per person and 10 euro per family.
Special group rates available. Phone John: (086) 395-6642 or Garry (086) 873-1497.
Please address all enquiries to info@irishvolunteers.org or see http://irishvolunteers.org/exhibitions-commemorations/ for details.

The Black & Tans: British Police and Auxiliaries in the Irish War of Independence, 1920 -1921. By David M. Leeson

A Book review by Padraig O’Ruairc.

The Black & Tans: British Police and Auxiliaries in the Irish War of Independence, 1920 -1921. By David M. Leeson Oxford University Press Hardback £30

With the centenaries of the 1916 Rising and War of Independence fast approaching a whole raft of books of widely varying quality are being published on the Irish revolutionary period from 1913 -1923. So far the majority of these books have focused on the lives and exploits of the 1916 rebels, and republican guerrillas – but Leeson, a Canadian historian, has instead opted to write about the Black & Tans and R.I.C. Auxiliaries. Leeson’s book “The Black & Tans” is not the first on the subject: Richard Bennett’s book “The Black and Tans” was first published in 1959, and last year Ernest McCall published “Tudors Toughs. A Study of The Auxiliary Division Royal Irish Constabulary 1920 -1922.” However Leeson’s book is the first academic work to take a look at the Black & Tans / R.I.C. Auxiliaries and is without doubt the best book yet published on the subject.

Leeson’s book starts by charting the British Governments difficulties in maintaining control in Ireland, and maintaining the integrity of the R.I.C., in the face of growing republican militancy from 1918 onwards. This led the British government to begin recruiting ex-soldiers in Britain and through the Empire as members of the R.I.C. which had traditionally been an Irish dominated police force. Leeson conducts a statistical analysis of the 1,153 men who joined the R.I.C. in October 1920 using it as a sample against which to test the enduring myth that the Black and Tans were jailbirds from England who had been specifically released from prison to join the R.I.C.  He also documents the experiences of members of the Black & Tans and Auxiliaries during the war, with separate sections on their experience of ambushes, assassination attempts, barracks attacks and after being captured by the I.R.A. He examines the role that Black & Tans and Auxiliaries played in British reprisal killings and arson attacks and asks what drove these men commit these acts.

Throughout Leeson’s book is well structured, well argued and clearly written. Leeson’s book is one that anyone interested in the War of Independence will undoubtedly learn something from. His work is at its strongest when he is analysing the development of the British Government’s policing policy in Ireland and R.I.C. recruitment from 1919 onwards. However Leeson’s work is most flawed in his examination of events at a local level which seriously detracts from what would otherwise have been a very good book. Leeson chooses the police jurisdiction of Galway West Riding as his case study for the War of Independence . His narrative of the conflict in the county is weak, contains a number of factual errors and is overly reliant on the official British version of events.

For example when dealing with the sensitive issue of spies Leeson states that the I.R.A. in Galway West executed five suspected spies. This is incorrect – two of these men, Thomas Molloy and Thomas McKeever, were killed by the Black & Tans. In his footnotes Leeson raises the possibility “that the police killed Molloy under a false flag”. Yet in the main body of the text he sticks to the official British version of events that Molloy had been killed by the I.R.A. and Leeson counts him as a victim of I.R.A. violence.

Leeson doesn’t express any similar doubts about his claim that the I.R.A. killed McKeever. Leeson’s research would have benefited from better use of the statements of Galway I.R.A. veterans collected by the Bureau of Military in the 1950‘s. Thomas Mannion an I.R.A. officer from Dunmore, where McKeever was killed, stated categorically that McKeever was not a spy and that he had been killed by the R.I.C. (See Thomas Mannion BMH WS 1408 Pages 15 – 16 National Archives Dublin) Leeson also states that the body of Patrick Joyce one of the three suspected spies who were actually shot by the I.R.A. – “was never found.” However Joyce’s body was discovered and disinterred by An Garda Siochana in 1998. Given the controversies and debates that have arisen concerning the execution of suspected spies by the I.R.A. during the War of Independence Leeson should have researched these cases in much more depth.

Leeson also makes some mistakes when recording the geography of the region. For example he refers to a police riot in Caltra, Galway as having happened in Longford, and states that an I.R.A. ambush in Ballinderry, Roscommon happened in Mayo. To be fair, Leeson probably made these errors simply because he over reliant on these contemporary British newspapers rather than other more reliable sources, but this is another flaw which again detracts somewhat from the overall quality of the work.

There are other aspects of Leeson’s work on the War of Independence in the West of Ireland which are also disappointing. Leeson’s account of the Rineen Ambush (22nd September 1922) which took place near Milltown Malbay in County Clare is poorly researched. Leeson repeats the revisionist version of the ambush proposed by the Richard Abbott in his book “Police Casualties in Ireland 1919 – 1922”. According to Leeson six members of the RIC were ‘massacred’ at Rinneen “where the guerrilla’s were suspected of using dum dum bullets and finishing off the wounded.” The deaths of R.I.C. men killed by the I.R.A. were usually recorded on the R.I.C. register as having been “Murdered by Sinn Feiners” – however the registrar recording the death of Reginald Hathaway states that he was simply “Killed in ambush.” This record of  Hathaway’s death at Rineen seems to contradict the version of events which maintains that the I.R.A. had ‘massacred’ the R.I.C. or ‘finished off the wounded.’

Leeson’s various references following the Rineen ambush, while mentioning the reprisals against property and rioting which followed failed to explore in any depth the full scale of the reprisal killings which occurred. Leeson quotes a contemporary report from the Manchester Guardian newspaper which claimed that after the ambush “two men were killed in Ennistymon …both of them were ‘marked’ men – men believed to have Sinn Fein Connections.’ Infact six people were killed in R.I.C. / Black & Tan reprisals following the Rinneen ambush including two elderly men and a teenage girl – Norah Fox. Only one of the six, Patrick Lehane, was an active member of the I.R.A.

On pages 127 and 128 Leeson discusses in detail the use of the steamship ‘Shannon’ by G Company of the Auxiliaries who were stationed at the Lakeside Hotel at Killaloe in Clare. He describes in detail the damage that was done to the boat by the Auxiliaries and states that the boat was “too slow, old and expensive for G Companies purposes”. However Leeson fails to mention what purposes the Auxiliaries had intended the boat for. The Shannon was used by the Auxiliaries to abduct and kill three members of the I.R.A.( Michael Mc Mahon, Alfred Rodgers & Martin Gildea) and a civilian (Mike Egan) who after being interrogated were tied together and shot dead on Killaloe Bridge. Leeson failed to mention this event in his book. It is a pity that Leeson overlooked this, since this multiple killing would have been far more relevant to his thesis than a discussion on the Auxiliaries yachtsmanship!

Leeson has produced some great research on the reprisals carried out by Irish members of the regular R.I.C. during the War of Independence. However he missed a great opportunity by not examining the role played by Irishmen who joined the Black & Tans and Auxiliaries. Although the traditional Irish narrative states that Black & Tans were all Englishmen, recent archival work by W.J. Lowe has shown that approximately 10% of the Black & Tan’s recruits and 14% of the Auxiliaries were Irishmen. (For more see Lowe, W.J. “Who were the Black-and-Tans?” History Ireland Autumn 2004.) By contrast on page 108 Leeson excludes 16 men from his sample of Black & Tans who joined the force in October 1920 “for being Irish.” Yet the Irishmen who joined the R.I.C. as Temporary Constables (Black & Tans) or R.I.C. Auxiliary Cadets would have been party to the same pay, conditions, and uniform shortages as their British counterparts. Here Leeson has missed a great opportunity to examine whether Irishmen joined the Black & Tans or Auxiliaries because they were had suffered I.R.A. intimidation or because it was a natural step for those who had Loyalist political sympathies.

I was also a bit disappointed by the brevity of the conclusion as I felt that the author could have done more to develop definite conclusions and to construct an argument about the role of the Black & Tans and Auxiliaries in the War of Independence. For example Leeson fails to explain why the British Army did not earn an equally odious reputation in Irish history and folk memory as that afforded to the Black & Tans when their actions during the War of Independence were often comparable.

Despite these stated flaws Leeson’s book is a very good effort. It is by far the best book yet written on the subject of the Black & Tans / R.I.C. Auxiliaries and is set to become recommended reading for those studying this period of Irish history and I eagerly  look forward to seeing more of his work on the period.

BOOK REVIEW – “THE MUNSTER REPUBLIC:THE CIVIL WAR IN NORTH CORK” BY MICHAEL HARRINGTON

BOOK REVIEW – “THE MUNSTER REPUBLIC:THE

CIVIL WAR IN NORTH CORK” BY MICHAEL

HARRINGTON

“They had spent two years on the run fighting the might of the British army… The vast majority of the Volunteers were young men plucked from working on the land or from employment as clerks in offices or shops. Some of the officers had second-level education, few had third-level qualifications, and the education of most of the Volunteers would have ended at primary-school level. Their understanding of national freedom was narrow; in essence it meant the ejection from the country of British troops and the British system of government, and its replacement with a form of government that they believed was free and fundamentally Irish. Consequently, the vast majority of the Volunteers did not have the opportunity to consider the concept of republicanism in any depth, let alone the implications of democracy.

“Republicanism for the Volunteers was shorthand for anti-British nationalism, combined with traditional insurrectionism. Republicanism was an expression of Irish identity, and the cry of “Up the Republic” was hurled provocatively at the hated occupying forces. It did not have any philosophical basis. Nor did it imply any future structure of government beyond a native Irish government based on self-determination.”

These were the preconditions of the ‘Civil War’ according to a book called The Munster Republic: The Civil War In North Cork by Michael Harrington published in 2009 by the Mercier Press. The book “started out as a thesis”. It is the “third level qualification” view of the War of Independence: it was fought by ignoramuses who did not know what they were fighting for, did not know what republicanism was, or what democracy was, and who therefore did not know when to stop fighting.

But who “plucked” them from their labour in the farms and the offices, gave them a few war-cries to utter, and put them fighting without a “philosophical basis “? Surely it was in England that was done, with virtual conscription followed by actual conscription! Or in Redmondite Ireland, which siphoned people into the British Army with crude shibboleths. But never mind the facts. Learn to feel the feelings of our new quality education which aspires to comprehensive thought control.

What did the plucking is not material. The story is that the ignorant lower classes were plucked from useful labour in farms and shops—what, no tradesmen! were they Poles even then?— and put fighting in the IRA without knowing what they were fighting about.

“In post-First World War Ireland, democracy was sometimes interpreted in different ways. Universal suffrage among males was in its infancy, women did not have the right to vote [!!!], and the implications of full civil rights for all had not been addressed. Some people believed that a democratic government based on the will of all the people… was appropriate. But many others believed that government decisions should be based on general collective will demonstrated over several generations of Irish people, and that doctrines embedded in this general will should influence decision-making in government, even if the expressed will of the majority of the people at a certain point was otherwise. Hence the view that the majority did not have the right to do wrong… In this way republicans could justify taking up arms against the majority of the country because the will of earlier generations had been a complete break from, not the reaching of an accommodation with, Britain…” (p137).

Now this is puzzling. The ignorant Volunteers plucked from the farms and shops had an understanding of things drawn from the most philosophical of all modern political theorists, Edmund Burke, who held that the present generation had no right to do as they pleased, but were bound to preserve the inheritance of past generations and transmit it to future generations. And C.C. O’Brien told us we should revere Burke, did he not?

Harrington’s quite short Bibliography includes two books by Peter Hart (who of course interviews the dead) and three by Tom Garvin. He seems to have been much influenced by the view of things expounded in Garvin’s 1922: The Birth Of Irish Democracy.

Garvin in 1922 puts one in mind of Nietzsche on the immoral history of morality and the taming by violence of human impulse in the cause of civilisation. The ‘Civil War’ brought us to our senses—or it tortured our senses into the bourgeois/capitalist mould. The ‘Civil War’ was about forcing a wild society—a society made wild by its newly established independence gained in a surge of unrealistic expectations—into the narrow constraints of bourgeois life under capitalism.

Garvin does not accept that a genuine will to independence was expressed in 1918. He says that the Election, though policed by the British apparatus of state, was rigged by a small minority of Republican intimidators. (He says that in some places and says something else in other places, but that is the sense of his account of the ‘Civil war’.)

By means of skilfully directed terrorism the small, active minority, obliged the populace to behave as if they had willed independence and fought for it against the Imperialistic intransigence of the British Democracy. Because the people had not willed what they fought for they did not know when they had gained it. Britain conceded independence with the Treaty, but it did not live up to the unrealistic expectations of those who had been excited by the fighting. Therefore they did not want what they had won, and it had to be imposed on them by superior force by an active authoritarian element which knew what freedom meant if it was to be functional. Viable democracy emerged from the purposeful infliction of pain on the idealists by the authoritarians.

Garvin etc. make a point of seeing Ireland post-1918 in what they think is an international context. They mean that what happened in Ireland was of a kind with what was happening elsewhere.

It is not at all impossible that a people should fight for independence with anarchic assumptions about what independence would be like, and should then be hammered into shape by purposeful authoritarians. Something like that happened even in Italy, which disrupted itself through its Irredentist war on Austria (egged on by Britain and the Redmondites). It emerged from  the War in the “exalted” condition attributed to the Irish by Garvin, Foster etc., and then had to be battered back into shape by Mussolini.

That is not what happened in Ireland. Some of the Treatyites, who did not feel it was appropriate to defend the Treaty as a submission to irresistible Imperialist force with a view to fighting another day, believed or pretended that it was what happened. The difference between pretence and belief is not easy to pin down in a case like this. One easily becomes the other. (See Pascal.) And some of the Treatyites lived out that pretence/belief very earnestly in the 1930s when they became Fascists for the purpose of suppressing the anarchy within which Irish Bolshevism was lurking.

But the Irish disorder of 1922 was not the disorder of independence won with anarchist expectations. Nationalist Ireland was well adapted to the bourgeois/capitalist order of things long before 1918. The land agitation parted company with anarchic Utopianism, or Millenarianism (which revisionists love to find in nooks and crannies) about 1850 when Gavan Duffy launched the Tenant Leagues on the assumptions of bourgeois political economy—and on that ground made common cause with the Ulster Protestant farmers. And, half a century later, Canon Sheehan and William O’Brien, in active alliance with the Orangemen, got rid of the landlord system strictly within the order of bourgeois political economy. And then Sheehan and O’Brien made a serious bid to consolidate the gains of 1903 within a coherent capitalist order of things, and to sweep aside the sectarian grievance-mongering being peddled by the Redmondites. And they succeeded in County Cork and adjacent areas—which is where the War of Independence was fought in the main.

The Dail Government policed the country in 1919-21 in accordance with the bourgeoiscapitalist order of things. The capitalist order of property was held sacred by it, as well as by the society which elected it, leaving aside a residue of problematic forms of landed property in the Midlands. The country did not need to be tortured into capitalist ways in 1922. That torturing had been done generations earlier. And what had been sought by the great agitations launched by Duffy and completed by Sheehan and O’Brien was not some unrealisable Utopia, but access to the capitalist way.

There were elements of Utopian phrasemongering in Redmondism to the end. But Sinn Fein was bourgeois from the start. (Griffith’s guide in these matters was the political economist of national-capitalist development, Frederick List.) And the Sinn Fein Party as reconstructed after 1916 was the bourgeois party of a society which had settled down into bourgeois ways. Garvin prefers to ignore that development, as does Harrington.

If the British Democracy had recognised Irish independence when it was asserted in January 1919, I can see no reason to think that anything but bourgeois social order would have followed.

Such disorder as occurred in 1919-21 was the result of the British military attempt to prevent the elected Irish Government from governing. And the disorder of 1922 resulted from the success of the British Democracy in breaking up the Irish Democracy and obliging it to make war on itself.

According to Harrington: “The Civil War did not happen overnight—it was at least one full year in gestation…” (p15). This accords with the academic view of recent decades, often asserted but never demonstrated, that it was the outcome of basic differences within the Sinn Fein party of 1918-21.

“When the Civil War finally began, it seemed that the republicans had the advantage… Yet within two months Provisional Government forces controlled the towns and cities…” (p16).

I doubt if it seemed to De Valera in late June 1922 that the anti-Treatyites had the advantage. About 40 years ago I read the papers for the first six months of 1922. It seemed to me that the Treatyite leaders had prepared for war from the moment they became the Provisional Government on Whitehall authority. They strong along the Anti-Treatyites while they built up a heavily armed mercenary (paid) army with British support. When they struck, they did so with organised force against a disorganised enemy that had made no real preparation for war.

The Anti-Treatyites were strung along by means of juggling with the Dail Government, with its Sinn Fein party and Volunteer Army, and the Provisional Government and its professional Army. Griffith and Collins played a double act, with Griffith running the Dail and Collins the Provisional Government. But it was Griffith who pressed for war and Collins who delayed. Then Collins struck from a position of strength, and in a little over a month it was all over but for the mopping up of pockets of guerilla resistance in Munster.

When I was satisfied that I knew what was the case in January-June 1922 I thought no more about it for over twenty years. I was trying to deal with the Northern situation, and Northern nationalism tended to be pro-Treaty. When I was asked to give a talk at Newmarket about the Civil War, I merely said it was fought over Crown sovereignty and created the party system of the 26 Counties. It was fortunate that I had not gone into the matter any further as I was told at the end of the meeting that it was the first public discussion of the Civil War in North Cork since it ended, and people were on tenterhooks about it.

Anyhow, forty years ago I thought I knew what had gone on between the Treaty and the War but suspended judgment on it until I was finished with Belfast politics.

Harrington says: “The delegates, unsurprisingly believed themselves to be full plenipotentiaries”. They made a Treaty, as they were entitled to do. The Dail ratified the Treaty.

De Valera, who used to be a democrat, rejected the Treaty, either out of pique at not being obeyed, as some suggest, or out of rivalry with Collins for the leadership as Ryle Dwyer suggests. He became ambivalent about democracy and made speeches which can only be understood as incitement against the democracy. The democracy acted to defend itself. That seems to be more or less Harrington’s story.

I remember much talk about “plenipotentiaries” from when I was very young and was surprised to see it being recycled. A plenipotentiary is a diplomat on whom the power of state is conferred for the purpose of making arrangements with another state. He is a creature of a bygone era when travel was slow and there were no telephones.

Whatever the Dail delegates were, they were not in fact plenipotentiaries. They did not present their credentials as authorised representatives of a foreign state at the Court of St. James and have them accepted. The Dail was not recognised by Britain as having any legitimate authority. It was a bunch of rebels. Britain would be willing to make a deal with some of these rebels and set them up in subordinate authority. After much haggling it put its final offer on the table and demanded that it be signed at once by the rebels. The Prime Minister had two letters in his hands.

One of them meant peace, the other war. If the rebels signed it would be peace, and they would be set up in authority. If they did not all sign immediately it would be war. Mr. Shakespeare was waiting to see which of the letters he would rush off to Belfast with. The rebels signed and made themselves the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland.

The delegates were rebels in London but, until that moment, they had taken themselves to be representatives of the sovereign authority in Ireland. They were under instruction to sign nothing without the approval of the Dail Government. But they could not consult their Government because Mr. Shakespeare was waiting. And anyway weren’t they plenipotentiaries?

Argument about Mr. Shakespeare was part of my childhood. Later on I thought of looking him up. He turned out to be a member of an influential Baptist family at a time when Nonconformists were entering the ruling elite as a matter of course. In 1921 he became a member of Lloyd George’s Secretariat. About 30 years later he published his memoirs, and described the Treaty’ signing: /

“About seven-thirty Lloyd George delivered his famous ultimatum. The Irish delegates, he said, were plenipotentiaries and they must sign now. If they refused to sign, war would follow immediately…

‘I have sometimes wondered since whether Lloyd George was right in presenting that ultimatum. I am convinced on mature reflection that but for the ultimatum we might have had no treaty. Supposing the Irish delegates had not signed that night; that the negotiations had terminated inconclusively; that the final decision was left over to the Republican atmosphere in Dublin, which had a few days previously rejected Dominion status. Would the treaty have emerged intact? I doubt it. As it was, here were the five Irish delegates committed before the world by their signatures to the approval of the treaty and going before the Irish Cabinet and the Dail to recommend its acceptance. Even so, the treaty survived only by the narrow margin of seven votes in the Dail…

“If, then, Lloyd George was right in attaching the utmost importance to the fait accompliand to the Irish signing that night, he was entitled to use the most potent weapon in his armoury. The delegates to whom the ultimatum was delivered had been in prison, had been hunted, had seen their comrades executed or shot, their homesteads razed to the ground. Savage guerilla warfare had ravaged their homeland. The ultimatum conjured up before their eyes further years of bloodshed and reprisals on a vaster scale.

“I have, however, never understood why the Irish accepted the ultimatum at its face value. Why did they not call the bluff? Lloyd George stated over and over again that he had promised to let Sir James Craig know next day (Tuesday, December 6) one way or the other. Supposing Arthur Griffith had said: “What is sacrosanct about Tuesday? We have waited hundreds of years for a settlement… Are you really going to break the truce and plunge Ireland again into war without giving the Irish Cabinet the chance of discussing your latest proposals?” How could Lloyd George have persisted with the ultimatum if Arthur Griffith had argued like this.

“But the Irish delegation did not counter the ultimatum with logic. They bowed to it and signed.  I am nevertheless puzzled to find the reason. Was it that Arthur Griffith, having won the substance of Irish independence, signed because he, too, thought it would be more difficult for the Dail to repudiate it?

“Perhaps, as so often is the case, the simplest explanation is the true one. In the debate in the Dail on the treaty Barton said: “The English Prime Minister, with all the solemnity and the power of conviction he alone of all men I have ever met can impart by word and gesture, declared that limit of his patience. He threatened war, he looked war, and he intended war, unless they signed.

No one could doubt his sincerity when his word “imparted conviction”, his eyes flashed lighting. How dare they question the ultimatum? They were awed and they signed…

“I dined with Lloyd George that night alone. He was in a mood of suppressed excitement.

“I have delivered my ultimatum”, he said. I am not giving his exact words, but this was the effect of them: “We have offered full Dominion status. Either they sign now or negotiations are off. If there is a break we will put into Ireland a large force and restore order. I told them as much and it is now up to them to choose between peace and war.” Estimates of the size of the force needed to hold down Southern Ireland varied, but the highest figure mentioned was 250,000 men.

“One significant remark made by Lloyd George as he was leaving I shall always remember:

“If only Michael Collins”, he said, “has as much moral courage as he has physical courage, we shall get a settlement. But moral courage is a much higher quality than physical courage, and it is a quality that brave men often lack”…” (Sir Geoffrey Shakespeare. Let Candles Be Brought In, 1949, p87-9).

So the Irish delegates were hustled, bluffed, intimidated, and over-awed. They forgot what they were and became rebels against their own government. Collins denied in the Dail that he had signed under the impact of the threat of immediate war, and there is evidence that his decision was made beforehand. In that case the persuading was not all done by Lloyd George. Collins and Griffith were party to the final hustling of the other delegates. But Griffith seems to have had little talent for negotiation or for the handling of power. His mind ran on a short-circuit and he had little influence. It was Collins who counted. And it was Collins who took the crucial decision to make a  settlement without consulting the Dail Government.

What matters is not whether the British position was final, but Collins’s decision not to make the Dail Government deal with his conclusion that it was final and that it must either settle for it or prepare for war. He pre-empted the Dail Government, knowing that the immense British propaganda apparatus would be immediately activated in support of him, and that the situation when he came back to Dublin after signing would be utterly different from what it would have been if he had come back before signing to put it to the Dail Government that the final position had been reached, and obliging it to deal with his own ultimatum within the structure of confidence of Dail legitimacy.

In the realpolitik of the situation, Collins took the game into his own hands with that decision and he acted as if he knew it. He became the Provisional Government on British authority and built a new army with British support. The obvious purpose of his new army was to make war on the IRA, and he must have had that in mind if he said that by signing the Treaty he also signed his own death warrant. But he also seems to have thought that he could handle not only the IRA and the Dail, but also Whitehall. And that was where it all broke down. In the event he was Whitehall’s man. Whitehall was jubilant when it got him fighting the IRA.

It now seems to be agreed in official circles that the Anti-Treaty position in 1922 was undemocratic. I have learned to be careful about using the word ‘democracy’. In 1969 I made myself widely hated by pointing out that Partition was socially based. Then, around 1970, I wrote something about the Northern Ireland state being democratically valid. That was nonsense.

Northern Ireland was not a state and it had always been excluded from the democracy of the State of which it was part. But, hated though I was, nobody refuted me by pointing this out. I had to refute myself. And that taught me to be careful about democracy.

In January 1922 a Provisional Government was set up by Collins on British authority. Those who set it up might have had a small majority of Dail members for what they did, but it was not the Dail that set it up. Britain did not recognise the Dail as a sovereign authority after the Treaty any more than before it. The Provisional Government was established on British authority both de jure and de facto. And those in the Dail who supported it had to meet as the Parliament of Southern Ireland under the 1920 Act in order to set it up.

That Dail had been returned without a vote in the Summer of 1921. The Home Rule movement had withered away after its defeat in 1918, and no other party or individual contested the independence issue with Sinn Fein.

After the Treaty it was agreed that another election should be held quickly. In May 1922 an agreement was made that the election should not be contested between the Treaty and Anti-Treaty faction of Sinn Fein. The aim was to reproduce the existing balance of forces in the new Dail and establish a Coalition Government with a Treatyite majority. The Dail ratified this Agreement.

Collins was summoned to London and ordered to break it, which he did in ambiguous terms two days before the election.

The election had been delayed so that a Constitution for the Free State should be published for the information of the electorate. Collins tried to nudge it towards republicanism but this was vetoed by Whitehall. The draft Constitution acceptable to Whitehall was published on the morning of the election.

The Election Agreement ratified by the Dail was broken by Collins, sort of, but not quite. A substantial part of the voting was done on the assumption that it held. The Agreement provided for a Treatyite majority in any case, so the Treatyite majority was no surprise. The voting was not on a referendum proposal. It was the election of a Parliament to form a Government.

The Civil War was launched a few days after the Election. It was not launched on the authority of the Dail that had just been elected. If that Dail had met and the matter had been put to it, it is very unlikely that there would have been war.

The war was launched by the Provisional Government in response to yet another Whitehall ultimatum, threatening that the British Army would go into action if the Treatyite Army did not act promptly. The newly elected Dail did not meet until September, by which time the Free State Army was in command, the war was won, and all that remained to be done was the atrocities designed to burn the spirit of defeat into the souls of the defeated.

The most interesting book I know of about the war is by another Harrington, Niall C, the son of a Redmondite MP, who qualified as a chemist, joined the IRA, then joined the Medical Corps of the Treatyite Army and was present with it in Kerry in the Autumn of 1922. The book is Kerry Landing, published in 1992, and it tells how the Munster Republic was taken in the rear by means of a naval landing in Kerry. Harrington then had a long career in the Army before becoming the Organiser of the Federated Union of Employers in 1959. He died in 1981.

Leaving aside ideology about democracy, the book confirms the conclusions I came to forty years ago, so how could I not think it good! : e.g.—

“The Provisional Government had been in existence for almost six months… In that time, despite the toing and froing of opposing political and military heads, it was able to build resources and make emergency plans. It could keep its ‘front’ busy in talks, arguments and disagreements about maintaining the IRA as the nation’s volunteer army, while building and strengthening the new regular army. It had the means of doing what it wished to do, while observing very closely the growing aggressiveness of an opposition which spent its time thinking and talking, without agreeing on what was to be done or how to go about doing it. That was where the line of demarcation lay…” (p33)

On the constitutional situation brought about by the Treaty:

“Two Irish governments now functioned side by side… : the Dail Eireann Government… and the Provisional Government…

“In that confused and emotive period… not only were there two national governments…; there were also two national armies…, each giving allegiance to a republic, one to the “existing republic” proclaimed on Easter Monday 1916 and ratified by Dail Eireann…, the other to a republic to be achieved in time by the “stepping stone” of the Treaty…” (p7).

“Richard Mulcahy… was insisting that enlistment in the new army being formed by the Provisional Government was an engagement to serve in the “Regular Forces of the Republican Army”. This was illusory, of course; de facto it was the army of the Provisional Government that was being recruited; in other words, it was the Free State Army. The IRA who were against the Treaty… could claim that theirs was the true Republican Army, and so they did claim…” (p 10).

In an Appendix, from “unpublished documents”, Harrington gives a document by the “Chief of the General Staff”, apparently drawn up in early August 1922, which makes the following comment on the war and the Constitution:

“It is too early to say yet whether we could so establish ourselves [in “certain principal points” in Munster, BC] in time to have Parliament meet on 12th (August). I feel that we shall have to have another postponement…

“I consider that if Parliament did not meet until 24th our military position would be very favourable; we would have occupied sufficient additional posts in the South to dominate entirely the position there, and would be able to indicate so definitely our ability to deal with the military problem there that no parliamentary criticism of any kind could  seriously interfere with our ability” (pl64).

This was the parliament elected in June, that constituted the foundation of ‘democracy’ in 1922, but which had never met while democratic order was being imposed.

Brendan Clifford

A review of Gerard Murphy’s The Year of Disappearances: Niall Meehan, 17th November 2010

Nial Meehan has contacted us and has pointed us to an article he wrote some time ago,in fact the first review of the book, thank you for submitting the article to us , his words are below:
My review  of  Gerard Murphy’s The Year of Disappearances:
Niall Meehan, 17th November 2010
Gerard Murphy’s ‘The Year of Disappearances, Political Killings in Cork, 1921-1922’, published by Gill & Macmillan on 29 October 2010, purportedly examines the period of the so-called ‘Cork Republic’ during 1921-22. Murphy alleges that the Cork IRA killed and ‘disappeared’ sometimes-uninvolved Cork Protestants, including teenagers, in the final phase of the 1919-21 Irish War of Independence (WoI)[1] and its aftermath. This is a controversial thesis and part of a debate whose parameters have been much publicised and discussed for over a decade.[2]
INTRODUCTION
Before tackling the book, it is necessary to give a brief historical introduction for those unfamiliar with this period in Irish history and/or with the context within which a debate on sectarianism in Irish history is taking place.
The British government refused to accept the verdict of a large majority of Irish people who opted for independence from Britain at the 1918 General Election. Sinn Féin won 73 of 105 Irish seats and set up a breakaway Dáil (parliament) in January 1919.[3] As a consequence of British suppression of Irish demands and institutions, an increasingly ruthless and bitter military, clandestine, intelligence, propaganda and political struggle broke out between British and Irish forces during 1919-21. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) fought British counterinsurgency forces. Support for the republican project deepened in the face of British measures that, while effectively brutal, were otherwise ineffective. Protestant and Roman Catholic civil society south of what became the border of the state of Northern Ireland either supported or was effectively neutral toward republican forces, mostly the former. British policy aimed at managing the conflict by encouraging and deepening sectarian division failed, essentially because their republican opponents, while mainly Roman Catholic in religious outlook, were politically anti-sectarian.[4]
However, small but significant counter republican forces based ideologically on Protestant loyalism and support for the British Empire may have been successfully activated. Such groups and individuals faced severe IRA sanction, including execution and deportation. As Third West Cork Flying Column leader Tom Barry put it, ‘The British were met with their own weapons – they had gone down into the mire to destroy us and our nation, and down after them we had to go.’[5] The question is, how far was that?
A truce between the belligerents, preparatory to negotiations, came into force on 11 July 1921.[6] An Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921 provided for partial independence for 26 of the country’s 32 counties. The Irish Free State emerged from a split over the Treaty provisions that caused a 1922-23 southern civil war.[7]  The residual Six County statelet of Northern Ireland, which remained inside the United Kingdom, effectively began life by expelling thousands of Roman Catholics and ‘rotten Protestants’ (socialists) from their jobs. It survived by institutionalising and maintaining sectarian discrimination.[8] The permanently governing Ulster Unionist Party oversaw sectarian discrimination until the Northern Ireland parliament was effectively abolished in March 1972, a situation ‘sanctioned by the neglect of successive British governments’.[9]
The path to relative political stability by the mid 1920s was as fractious and bitter as what preceded it. It left a lasting legacy whose parameters are disputed and which acted as a significant influence on the outbreak of ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland after 1968. Disputes over what happened then, between 1919-23, are also frequently disputes over what happened after 1968. Irish history has become intertwined with, and is interpreted within, the framework of Irish politics. Within this fractious exercise British responsibility is frequently abstracted from the picture, replaced with considerations of sectarian strife peculiar to the island of Ireland.
In addition, in recent years emphasis on unionist and British responsibility for sectarianism has shifted. It has been argued that Irish republicans targeted Protestants for sectarian reasons during the WoI, rather than for engaging in largely clandestine activity on behalf of British forces.
GERARD MURPHY’S YEAR OF DISAPPEARANCES
In The Year of Disappearances Gerard Murphy acknowledges his debt to the late Peter Hart who pioneered the republican sectarianism argument in his highly influential The IRA and its Enemies: violence and community in Cork, 1916-1923 (OUP, 1998). Subsequent criticism established that Hart invented evidence and misreported archival material in order to establish his case. Inexplicably, with few exceptions, Irish historians failed to respond to the serious problems raised.[10] Murphy wrote that Hart’s 1998 book ‘is worth the cover price for the sources alone’ and that ‘Hart’s sources’ were his ‘starting point’. (p. 22) [11]
Hart’s argument had strong media supporters. Kevin Myers in the Irish Times and Eoghan Harris in the Sunday Times and Sunday Independent, vigorously promoted his research, Myers from 1990 and Harris from 1998. These efforts reflected their opposition to the Northern Ireland peace process up to and after the 1994 IRA ceasefire. Journalist propagandists like Harris and Myers promoted and amplified research with which they politically agreed, while dismissing counter arguments.[12] The impact of their efforts should not be casually dismissed. Thousands of readers without access to a different argument were potentially conditioned to accept a tendentious view of Irish history.
This is the context within which Gerard Murphy’s book has been written and within which, inevitably, it will be interpreted. However, all interpretation, irrespective of origin, should bow before evidence. Without identifiable evidence within historical texts, discussion and debate becomes merely contested rhetoric. It is here, as I shall demonstrate, that Murphy’s book fails.
Murphy acknowledges that his 498 pages and 58 chapters contain ‘at best a theory or, rather a series of interrelated theories’ (p. XI). Numerous problems arise, however, from ill-considered suppositions and speculations. The absence of an adequate scholarly apparatus gives rise to doubts over the work’s merits. It also creates severe difficulties in establishing how Murphy reached his conclusions. Unfortunately, though referenced in notes, the book contains no list of primary sources. A thin bibliography of published work is provided. However, un-paginated citation of published material is of no help.[13] On occasion also Murphy cites unnamed individuals he encountered on his quest, for example: ‘This book was almost finished when I chanced upon an elderly Cork city man’ (p. 301); ‘A number of years ago a friend of mine was driving along one Sunday morning listening to the car radio…’ (p. 245) The impression of a carelessly prepared work rushed into print (for the Christmas market?) is evident. Take page 86 for instance. There, in the second of two mentions, it is reported that there was ‘no branch of the UDA in Cork’. Presumably, instead of this unexplained acronym, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF, founded in 1912) was intended, rather than the Ulster Defence Association (UDA, which emerged in the latter part of 1971).[14] Since ‘The Year of Disappearances’ is advertised as a referenced work of history it therefore lacks prima facie credibility.[15] In most reputable universities such work would not be admissible as research.
MEDIA AMPLIFICATION
Murphy suggests that sectarian strife was a product of Irish Republican Army (IRA) activities in the city of Cork and its environs in the province of Munster, the hotbed of military opposition to British rule during the WoI. It was a period in which the IRA and then anti-Anglo Irish Treaty IRA gained control, a control that began after the Truce and continued to July 1922. This is the period of the so-called ‘Cork Republic’.
Murphy accused the local IRA, in particular its south side No. 2 Cork city battalion, of killing and disappearing Protestants, including teenagers. As with Hart’s research, Murphy’s book attracted significant media attention on publication, from Eoghan Harris, Kevin Myers and (also on this occasion) from John Paul McCarthy.[16]
With media publicity came also examples of a media amplification effect. Harris suggested that Murphy’s figure of 78 (sometimes unknown and unnamed) Protestants he alleges were killed during 1920-22 is ‘not far from the German-Jewish figure of 91’ murdered ‘during the Nazi pogrom of Kristallnacht, November 28, 1938’. Not far in total but quite so, time wise. Far, also, from the estimated six million Jews annihilated during World War Two. If Harris opted in his inappropriate comparison for a ‘European perspective’, Myers chose an all-island one. He observed, ‘Most Belfast nationalists know of the terrible things that befell Catholics’ there. He continued, ‘What happened in Cork was actually worse’. To put this comment in perspective, between July 1920 and June 1922, it is estimated that 276 Catholics and 185 Protestants (all named), plus three whose religious identity was indeterminate, were killed in sectarian disturbances in Belfast.[17]
An observation by McCarthy (a young Cork originating historian, who echoes the thoughts of Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris[18]) illustrates our first example of a limitation in Murphy’s approach. Murphy refers on page 194 to ‘the first time I had heard mention’ of Jim and Miah Grey, described as, ‘two of the most prominent IRA gunmen on the North side of Cork city’. He reports the Grey brothers as so intent on killing Protestants they were opposed internally. For example, noted Murphy, in ‘the winter of 1921/22’, an IRA company in Glenville, County Cork, put,
‘a round the clock armed guard on the local demesne, that of Sir Edward Hudson Kinehan… At the time the armed guard was said to be a protection against ‘the Grays’’.[19]
McCarthy praised the book in the Sunday Independent on 7 November 2010. He described the brothers as,
‘two notoriously cruel IRA men from the city’s trigger-happy south side [sic] battalion whose ample defects were still discussed at the drag-hunt meetings in Dripsey that gobbled up my childhood Sundays’:
McCarthy continued,
‘Murphy recounts the dramatic scene during the winter of 1921 when the local IRA company in Glenville posted an armed guard around the local demesne so as to protect the well regarded Protestant Kinehan family against a nocturnal visit from the Grays intent on a rerun of the earlier sectarian massacre at Coolacreese [sic], Co Offaly.’
Aside from McCarthy placing the brothers on the south-side, while Murphy described them as in a north side IRA battalion, there are significant problems with Murphy’s narrative, and with McCarthy’s amplification:
First, Murphy’s evidential basis ‘for this story’ consists of two ‘neighbours in Glenville’, whom he names. This local lore may be a useful source. However, oral history should be triangulated with other evidence (where available). This is desirable to avoid history resting on hearsay;
Second, though it is a ‘story’ which alleges the Greys were contemplating a killing, no evidence is provided that they attempted to carry it out or that they were planning it. What we have is an uncorroborated non-event;
Third, McCarthy’s sly reference to a ‘sectarian massacre at Coolacreese [sic], Co Offaly’ is noteworthy. In Coolacrease in June 1921 the IRA executed two brothers called Pearson for informing and for firing on and severely wounding an IRA road blocking party. McCarthy tendentiously describes it as a sectarian killing, in which he also insinuates the Greys may have participated, when there is far more reasonable evidence to show that the Pearson brothers were killed because they were militarily engaged informers.[20] Nothing suggests Grey brother involvement.
Instead of relying solely on sketchy local lore, Murphy should also have inspected archival material. There, the origin of the oral memory, subsequently exaggerated, may be found. Indeed, UCC historian John Borgonovo has already published on it in an article for The Irish Sword. The Greys ran the IRA’s transport section. They believed, for whatever reason, that in April 1921 Kinehan had somehow obtained car parts reserved by the Greys for the IRA. Consequently, wrote Borgonovo,
‘Six armed Volunteers raided the home of Sir Edward Kinehan. They dismantled his car, took away numerous parts, then destroyed the engine with pick-axes. On the car door, they chalked the message, ‘Don’t take our parts. By Order, Transport Commandant, 1st Brigade IRA’.[21]
So, in this case there was no assassination attempt. The car was executed, not a Protestant knight of the realm. An archival source (in this case an RIC report), while also requiring interrogation, has the value of pinpointing and preserving the time and place of this event. It also clarifies a lingering memory that appears, as reported, to have lost its shape over time. Murphy did not take this elemental step, a failing that permits scope for speculation along possibly pre-conceived lines.
Leaving McCarthy aside, let us now pursue Murphy’s methodology and see where it leads.
‘A FELLA BURIED IN THIS BOG AND… IN THAT BOG’
Murphy’s case rests on being able to show that more people were killed during the conflict than has been recorded. He suggests that this occurred particularly during the closing period of the Anglo-Irish conflict, the period of the Truce after July 1921 and in the six-month interregnum between Treaty split and onset of civil war in June 1922.
Who died? In Murphy’s ‘Appendix II’, the following 12 unnamed and unknown Protestants are listed in ‘Post-Truce/Civil War Killings of civilians in Cork City and Environs’:
Three Protestant Boys – 11-15 July 1921
Six ‘Prominent Citizens’ – 17 March 1922
Three merchants – June 1922
Murphy then lists in Appendix III and IV, missing persons from 1922-26 and missing persons inquiries, 1923-28, produced by the Irish Free State. There is no correlation between Murphy’s speculations in Appendix II and the official lists. There are no links whatever to the IRA in many cases. Here we have Murphy bothering to produce archival data but the problem is that it does not confirm his speculations.
On pages 39-40 Murphy wrote of the origin of his suspicion that the IRA engaged in systematic secretive assassinations, based on unreasonable paranoia. He noted,
‘This was not the history we had learned in school, though it did correlate with what I had learned from neighbours as a child when I’d be told: ‘Well, there was a fella buried in this bog, and there was a fella buried in that bog, and there as another fella tied to a gate and shot in Glashaboy’.’
The 40-odd civilians shot as ‘spies’ by the Cork IRA during the War of independence is likely to be an underestimation, because tramps and those in the margins of society disappeared leaving no record’.
This is followed by note 6 (p. 354) that cites Peter Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies, but no page number. The reader cannot trace these reportedly executed tramps to the information source. Had the reader done so he or she would in any case have been misled. Hart has been criticised for failing to document any evidence of his dead tramps, though he speculated freely on the IRA targeting them and ‘social deviants’, in his final chapter.[22]  While such comments may make media sound bites they are not history. In this case it is also an example of one largely contentless reference (Murphy’s) building upon another (Hart’s). So here, where Murphy provides a gestural reference, he did not check to see whether Hart had sourced his materials, and is apparently unaware that Hart’s scholarship has been questioned.[23] No effort is made to estimate the number of tramps and ‘those in the margins of society’ in order to come up with an estimate of the numbers of non-recorded killings in the conflict. What we have here is merely speculation. It is essentially a faith-based history that is a logical outcome of Peter Hart’s sometimes-questionable methodology.
The nub of Gerard Murphy’s argument requires him to establish who organised the disappearing and shooting of uninvolved Protestants. He stipulates that three leading Cork IRA members were responsible. They are:
IRA head of intelligence, Florence O’Donoghue;
Josephine O’Donoghue (wife of Florence as of April 1921), an IRA spy who worked for General Strickland, the British Army Commander in Cork;
Cork No. 1 Brigade leader, Sean O’Hegarty.
Murphy does not establish what O’Hegarty, ‘a fierce ascetic and atheist’ (p. 15), has against Protestants, and his case against the O’Donoghues is entirely speculative. The O’Donoghues are regarded by Murphy as primarily responsible.
DROWNED IN PARANOIA
In his review of the book, Eoghan Harris accurately and supportively summarised Murphy’s portrayal of a ‘depraved’ Florence O’Donoghue and his ‘sinister’ wife Josephine. (Examiner, 5 November) They are accused by Murphy of executing Protestant teenagers and Josephine’s Protestant neighbours in a series of ‘what if’ scenarios that encapsulate the book’s ‘methodology’.
Murphy argued that Josephine was ‘paranoid’ (p. 316). How so? A son from her first marriage to a British soldier, who was killed in the First World War, was retained by her late husband’s anti-Catholic family in Britain. In return for Josephine’s offer to the IRA to spy on General Strickland her son was sensationally either kidnapped or liberated (or both, depending on point of view) in November 1920 by Florence O’Donoghue and five other IRA volunteers. He was returned to Cork where Josephine’s sister hid him. In April 1921 Florence and Josephine married.[24]
Murphy speculated that Josephine’s paranoia was due to the publicity surrounding this event. She became ‘frightened of her Protestant neighbours’ and ‘turned on them in case they might inform on her’, while scaring off others (p. 114, emph. in original, see also ‘Map 2’). The arrest of a father and son named Blemens on 29 November 1920 by the IRA and their subsequent execution for spying, is given as the prime example, as they lived near Josephine. However, Josephine’s then mother in law in Barry in Wales received anonymous letters ‘stating that the little boy was in Cork with his mother’. Florence O’Donoghue thought the sender was ‘a Miss Murphy who lived at No 3 Roxboro Terrace’, beside Josephine (ibid). Miss Murphy was unharmed despite proof of being suspected in this regard. Gerard Murphy glides past the fact, before fixating on the Blemens family and an assumption of paranoia on the part of Josephine.
Supposition devoid of a scintilla of corroborative evidence supports the unstable foundation of this argument. The argument, however, proceeds apace.
Take page 310. Murphy comments on Florence O’Donoghue’s correspondence with his wife in June 1921, written while he was separated on IRA duties. A letter of 17 June revealed, writes Murphy, ‘very little… to suggest that dramatic happenings might be taking place in Roxboro Terrace’ where Josephine resided at No. 4. Murphy observes, however, ‘the lack of direct reference… may itself be grounds for suspicion.’ One or two ‘hints’ in the letter may ‘cast a new and extraordinary light’ on a previously reported Times of London article of 18 May 1922, in which ‘somebody’s child’ was abducted along the Blackrock Road, Cork city, again near Josephine’s house (p. 307). Though no other newspaper reported the alleged abduction and no archival trace of it can be found, Murphy considers the story of great significance. He asks,
‘was [Josephine] the ‘mysterious individual in a motor car’ who was involved in the actual abduction? The use of the word ‘individual’ rather than ‘man’ is interesting.’ (p. 309)
Yes, quite interesting. We move now to the ‘extraordinary light’ Florence’s letter allegedly casts on this dramatic episode, from which Murphy deduces Josephine’s role. O’Donoghue’s 17 June letter to his wife contains, writes Murphy, ‘one cryptic reference to matters in the city’:
‘some friends from Cork tell me you were , so to say, on active service one day a while ago. But there was nothing doing apparently’.
O’Donoghue then asks his wife to be ‘careful’. Murphy comments, ‘this of course could be interpreted to mean anything’. According to Murphy it could mean that Josephine was a ‘mysterious individual in a motor car’ who abducted a teenager. By the same token it could mean that Florence was advising his wife simply to be careful while carrying out her IRA duties.
Murphy makes further deductions on the basis of a letter of 20 June. In a closing paragraph on family matters Florence O’Donoghue commented on a 20 June Cork Examiner report of a small family boat involved in an unconnected aquatic accident. O’Donoghue refers to ‘a boating accident…. and there was a youngster in it’. He wonders, on the basis that his wife was a keen yachtswoman, if it ‘was your party, ye seem to have a pretty taste in accidents of that kind. Glad to see that nothing worse than a ducking befell anybody’. [25] Murphy observes, ‘Again, this could be interpreted in many different ways’. Indeed it could, but Murphy is determined on this:
‘considering that we have already speculated [!] that boys may [!] have been taken and thrown into the sea along with YMCA provisions during [IRA] raids on the harbour in mid-June, and also that [Henry A] Harris appears [!] to have been drowned in Boulogne, this is an amazing coincidence’. (p. 310-11, see also p. 312)
‘Amazing’ indeed. On this reasoning, that includes reference to an event that occurred one year later in March 1923, Murphy insinuates that Josephine was drowning as well as abducting Protestant teenagers.
At the risk of drowning the reader in detail it is necessary to explain Murphy’s reference to Henry A Harris. Harris had been a prominent Cork Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) member who Murphy believes was deliberately killed by drowning in France in March 1923 (Ch. 39, ‘A Boulogne Mystery’, pp. 207-11, citing the Irish Times, 26 March 1923, Cork Examiner, 21 April 1923).
However, on page 211 we read, ‘We are not 100 per cent sure of course, that the body found in Boulogne harbour was that of H.A. Harris’. In fact, apart from, ‘his age was about right’, that Harris was English and the body was assumed to be, no evidence suggests that it was. A subsequent press report that ‘I/O IRA’ killed this unknown individual, as a ‘traitor to Irish Republic’, was later again reported a ‘definitely established’ hoax, perpetrated by yet another Englishman (Irish Times, 9, 23 April 1923) For Murphy, however, ‘this was almost certainly an IRA job’, the use of ‘I/O’ (for ‘Intelligence Officer’), being the determining factor in Murphy’s view. In support, he reports that records of the East Bristol YMCA in England, where Harris was General Secretary to the end of 1922, subsequently went missing. On this basis alone, he writes that the Irish Times ‘hoax’ article was ‘dissimulation’, and also, ‘It suggests that somebody in Britain wanted to keep the facts of the drowning a secret’. Who and for what particular or peculiar reason Murphy does not explain. In an initial Times of London report (26 March 2010, not cited by Murphy) police suggested that the individual, whose possessions were missing, was robbed after he drowned and after his body was washed up on shore.
The reason Harris is swept into Murphy’s narrative is because, in a previous chapter (Ch. 18, ‘The Cork YMCA’, pp. 100-07), Murphy discusses and dismisses IRA assertions that a pro-British intelligence ring operated out of the Cork YMCA. The reason Murphy is on the trail of Harris in the first place is because,
‘Harris would have made a good candidate as the leader of an alleged spy ring operating out of the YMCA…. I have found no evidence from any surviving IRA men’s accounts that he was ever shot by the IRA or targeted or that his name was ever known, but he was the head man of the Munster YMCA during the War of independence. Therefore he would make for a logical target’. (p. 207-208)
There is, in other words, no evidence the IRA was after Harris in the first place. Therefore, not a scintilla of hard evidence justifies including Chapter 39 in the book. It is an evidential dead end[26] and Murphy’s readers have entered a speculative wilderness.
On the IRA suggestion that there may have been clandestine activity on the part of some Cork YMCA members, Murphy dismisses it. ‘Going through the records of the YMCA from 1915 to 1924’ convinces him that the YMCA was not a ‘secret service agency’ or even a ‘cover up’ for one (p. 103, 104). This reasoning is naive. It is doubtful if a group of the clandestine type the IRA alleged existed would have detailed their activities in the YMCA minute book. That would be foolish. On the same basis, hunting through Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) records might fail to uncover evidence of Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) infiltration, though it occurred. Murphy could have taken a hint from the YMCA General Committee Year Book, in which he is surprised by ‘how little the YMCA seemed to be affected by the conflict going on around it’ (p. 105). Preserving the stated purpose of such an organisation would be essential for a group operating ‘under-the-cover’ of the YMCA. To maintain security and credibility, most YMCA members would surely be entirely unaware of the use to which their organisation may have been put. Surprisingly, this possibility does not appear to have occurred to Murphy.
The piling of unproven assumptions one on top of the other leaves the discerning reader underwhelmed.
YMCA TOILET PAPER
‘[T]his is all mere speculation’. (Gerard Murphy, p. 147)
Eleven pages on from his boating incident commentary and with no further substantive argument, Murphy writes, ‘I am now of the view’ that the O’Donoghues and, Sean O’Hegarty,
‘snatched local Protestant teenagers – of 16 years and upwards who may or may not have been connected with spying activities – and used them as hostages against British executions of IRA prisoners’. (p. 321)
Dan O’Brien was the last IRA prisoner to be executed on 16 May 1921 (p. 313). Murphy suggests that a group of teenagers was ‘snatched’ in the first two weeks of May to place pressure on the British not to shoot O’Brien. They were shot, alleges Murphy, after O’Brien was. The reason this IRA activity has no extant evidential basis is, suggests Murphy, because even the British,
‘covered up the blackmail and reported to Dublin Castle that the boys had been conscripted into the IRA’. (p. 322)
Why the British should do this strange thing is not clear. Even more peculiarly, ‘a month later [16 June 1921], with more prisoners on death row, the trick was tried again’. (p. 322) Why, when it did not work the first time? Murphy has already admitted that O’Brien was the last to be shot. Furthermore, it appears that O’Donoghue knew he would remain the last. He wrote on 15 June 1921, ‘Official reprisals are certainly at an end, which is a big victory for us’. And, on 16 June, ‘I think the shooting of men for having arms and levying war is at an end’.[27] Undaunted, Murphy alleges that the IRA,
‘now leave a note in the YMCA toilet, intended to be passed on to the military, either to warn against spying, or supplying the military or that the boys would be shot if the British returned to official executions’. (p. 322)
It sounds like a complicated message. What did it say? We must turn back 216 pages to page 106, where YMCA minutes note,
‘the discovery in the downstairs toilet of the YMCA (which was used by the public) of ‘a piece of paper… purporting to come from the CO IRA, Cork District, containing a threat’[…]. There is no hint as to what the threat actually was.’
Within Murphy’s methodology, ignorance is no barrier to certainty. The truth is, Murphy cannot demonstrate that the IRA snatched, imprisoned or shot two groups of Protestant teenagers. Murphy’s case is built almost entirely on supposition. His evidence, where evident, appears to consist of local lore, partial and vague archival references, and his imagination.
For an exercise in sustained supposition with regard to allegedly missing persons based on no hard evidence, however, Chapter 50, ‘St Patrick’s Day Parade’ (pp. 268-277), is possibly the best example.
Here Murphy discusses the alleged kidnapping of his ‘Six ‘Prominent Citizens’ – 17 March 1922’ listed in Appendix II. His discussion is based on ‘confirmation… of a rumour… that some prominent local supporters of the Treaty were recently kidnapped’ (Irish Times, 21 March 1922, in Murphy, p. 269). Murphy supposes (without describing how or why) that these were ‘lower middle class Protestants’ (p. 271), who he cannot name and whose relatives never sought their whereabouts. They ‘simply disappeared’. (p. 270) Murphy suggests,
‘Secrecy and censorship… makes a space in which it is possible for all kinds of people to have disappeared. It appears that the reaction of the families involved was in effect to collude with this silence out of fear of attracting even more violence’.  (p. 272).
Murphy notes by way, it must be assumed, of corroboration, ‘I have not been able to find any’ references to the event in state papers. (p. 385, n. 21) Murphy has based his theory on a rumour devoid of substance. The absence of evidence reinforces Murphy’s belief system, rather than (as in most social science and other forms of rational enquiry) acting to change his hypothesis. Instead, Murphy attempts to make the past fit his point of view.
On pages 273-274 Murphy cites various contemporary Protestant statements condemning unionist attacks on Catholics in Northern Ireland. They were invariably accompanied by statements that the Protestant community in the south ‘never suffered from intolerance’. (p. 273). This included ‘50 Cork business leaders’ whose ‘denial’, writes Murphy, ‘of the events of St Patrick’s Day was absolute’, absolute in the sense that these alleged ‘events’ did not penetrate their consciousness. Instead (p. 274), the business leaders called on the Northern Ireland Government to re-instate the up to 10,000 Roman Catholics who had been expelled from their work in Harland and Wolfe and other shipyards and workplaces in July 1920 by unionist mobs.[28]
Murphy concludes from this evidence of no sectarian targeting aimed in their direction:
‘It is … clear from this that, for the Cork business community and for Southern Protestants in general, suppression was the price of survival.’ (p.274)
Murphy continues, ‘the YMCA general committee remained unchanged…. and kept on meeting as if nothing had happened. Indeed, there is no reference…  in YMCA minutes’.
In other words, where Murphy has no evidence that something happened, he cites further evidence undermining the suggestion. In Murphy’s methodology this becomes confirmation that the alleged event did in fact happen. Maybe it should occur to him that indeed, ‘nothing… happened’.
A sub-theme pursued by Murphy is that if Church of Ireland Anglicans were oblivious to events, then their low church Protestant counterparts, in particular Methodists for some reason, were sectarian victims (Ch. 44, ‘Clerical Errors’, p. 232-241).  Unfortunately, Methodists were equally uncooperative in confirming Murphy’s thesis. Murphy cites the Rev. Alfred Harbinson, a Methodist minister in Dunmanway who stated after the exceptional April 27-29 killings of 13 Protestants in the Bandon Valley that, contrary to mistaken reports, he had been ‘neither visited or attacked’ and,
‘Never at any time have I been molested or interfered with in any way. I have always received the utmost courtesy from the people of the town and surrounding community’.
Murphy, then observes, ‘All the evidence from a variety of sources suggests that Rev. Harbinson did in fact flee’. (p. 274) He cites, precisely, none. The Reverend gentleman is portrayed, on no evidence whatever, as an unreliable reporter of his own experience. Cork’s most prominent Methodist, Crown Solicitor Jasper Wolfe, insisted afterwards that though he was subject to attack, this was not because of his religious beliefs, but rather due to his leading position within the British administration during a period of armed conflict. His grandson biographer recently expressed ‘surprise’ at allegations of republican or nationalist sectarianism. Jasper Wolfe had never raised them in often told tales of being,
‘kidnapped by the IRA, or attempts to shoot him, or of his house on the outskirts of Skibbereen being occupied by Republicans or Freestaters in turn. But I never heard any suggestion of sectarian hostility towards the Wolfes, whether from the I.R.A., from their Catholic neighbours, or indeed from any Catholics at all’.[29]
LOYALISTS Vs PROTESTANTS
Where Murphy relies on published sources for evidence of extra unrecorded killings it reflects further weaknesses in his argument. On page 328 (of 408 in Chapter 57, of 58), Murphy cites a June 1922 statement from the Irish Compensation Claims Committee complaining of ‘more murders of loyalists, ex-soldiers, ex-policemen than have been reported to the [British] House of Commons’ (Irish Times, 2 June 1922). Murphy supports this allegation. However, a section of the same committee report not cited by Murphy mentions ‘the position of Southern loyalists’. The ‘expulsion is not confined to Protestants’. It refers to, ‘a very large number of the exiles’ being  ‘Roman Catholics … members of the old nationalist Party of Mr Redmond’ that was superseded by Sinn Féin in the 1918 general election. Anti Protestant activity is alleged to be concentrated in West Cork, where ‘nearly every Protestant trader and small farmer has been expelled’. This is the only mention of Protestants per se and relates to the fearful and understandable exodus after the April 27-29 killings of 13 Protestant civilians in the Bandon Valley.[30] Who are the culprits? The statement explains:
‘The Irish terror is directed against all who own any property or capital, or are supposed to belong to the so-called “bourgeois” class.’
The controlling influence is said to be the ‘Irish Transport Union’ and ‘the anti capitalist influences of the Third International’. In short, the source blames communists for these attacks, rather than the IRA.  While such misstatements are expected in propaganda intended to secure compensation, they are highly problematic as a historical source.  Even then, the statement undermines charges of sectarianism, since both southern loyalists and home rulers are said to have been the targets.[31]
In Murphy’s methodology, the lack of evidence for something always becomes evidence of its existence when that is convenient. Do we have examples of him doing it the other way when it suits him?
In his passion to pursue rather than control his speculations, Murphy misrepresents more representative Protestant views. Again on page 328, Murphy asserts that ‘the disappearance of youngsters…. truly traumatised the Protestant community’. At the end of July 1922, according to Murphy, ‘the Southern Protestant Appeal, set up to support families who were fleeing the south drew up a declaration’. Murphy cited it in reference to ‘Protestant residents in Southern Ireland’, who,
‘desire to express our abhorrence of sectional bitterness manifesting itself in acts of violence. We earnestly hope that recent horrible reprisals, culminating in the killing of children, will make it clear that citizens of all creed and classes must unite in a most determined effort to secure peace’.
At first glance, this does appear to be significant, in particular ‘the killing of children’ reference. However, this appeal made its first public appearance in the Irish Times on 7 April 1921, nearly four months earlier. The Southern Protestant Appeal did not relate to Protestants in Southern Ireland. It arose from concern at violence against Catholics in Northern Ireland. The appeal therefore did state what Murphy cited above, but with reference to the killings in the North. The appeal continued, in a passage that Murphy does not cite, with the following observation,
‘We further desire as members of religious minorities in Southern Ireland, to put on record that the South of Ireland has been notably free from sectarian violence’.
This statement was made, let us remind ourselves, in April 1921 after two years of often-bitter conflict and two months before the Truce. It was instigated by a letter to the Irish Times from an EA Aston, a Protestant, on 21 March and supported by ‘Belfast Catholic’ on 24 March, who referred to ‘a bomb thrown amongst Catholic children in Weaver Street’ in Belfast, in the North, not in the South. The ‘killing of children’ reference was to the killing of Catholic children not Protestants. It is of significance that southern Protestants did not support the contention that they were subject to sectarian attack.
One exception to this rule appears to be the April 27-29 1922 killings in the Bandon Valley of 13 Protestant civilians. The Protestant Convention, that paralleled the Southern Protestant Appeal, met on 11 May 1922 and stated,
‘apart from this incident, hostility to Protestants by reason of their religion has been almost, if not wholly, unknown in the twenty six counties in which Protestants are in the minority’. (Irish Times, Independent, 12 May, 1922)
While Murphy selectively quotes from the Southern Protestant Appeal and misreports its origins, I can find no reference to the parallel Protestant Convention in Murphy’s book. I raise the issue because Florence O’Donoghue’s leading role in the IRA was then coming to an end. He resigned from the IRA at the end of June 1922 and stayed neutral in the ensuing Civil War that commenced on 20 June (p. 317). Murphy’s problem is this:  at the height of O’Donoghue’s alleged sectarian reign of terror against Cork Protestants, southern Protestants were claiming that they were not targeted on a sectarian basis. Murphy’s solution to this problem is (as noted) to accuse Protestants of lying about their own experiences. Murphy has preconceived speculations that he is unwilling to test carefully against the evidence.
JOHN BORGONOVO’S RESEARCH
‘Further evidence may ultimately suggest that even my most closely argued theories are wrong.’ (Gerard Murphy, p. 29)
In 2007, in 198 pages and nine chapters, John Borgonovo ploughed the same ground as Murphy. His concisely composed Spies, informers and the ‘Anti-Sinn Fein Society’, the Intelligence War in Cork City 1920-21 (Irish Academic Press, 2007) covered the same series of IRA executions that Murphy analyses. It was completed originally in 1997 as an MA thesis in University College Cork (UCC), prior to publication of Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies in 1998.[32] Borgonovo also edited Florence and Josephine O’Donoghue’s War of Independence, a destiny that shapes our ends (IAP, 2006). Though Murphy stated (p. 22) that Hart’s published work provided the stimulus for his research, Borgonovo’s may have provided its structure. The O’Donoghue’s demeanour as anti-Protestants in chief in Murphy’s research does not tally with Borgonovo’s portrayal. Borgonovo revealed how Josephine was working for the British Army commander in Cork, General Strickland, as an IRA spy. Under her codename, ‘G’, she was the source of valuable intelligence information used not only in Cork but also in Dublin by Michael Collins, the head of intelligence. Borgonovo carefully evaluated evidence and suggested that IRA intelligence appeared extensive and absent of sectarian intent.[33]
GRAVES
One aspect of Murphy’s research has already excited media attention[34] and may also attract the official version. It suggests where bodies of some of those executed during the conflict are buried. It is a fact that some were never recovered. Borgonovo noted that Martin Corry, an IRA volunteer and subsequently a Fianna Fail TD, regularly ‘boasted’ that his land was one location.[35] In addition, a colour photograph in Gerard Murphy’s book, facing page 143, contains the caption,
‘The clump of trees at Frankfield, Ballycureen, where three Protestant boys who were executed by the 2nd battalion of the city IRA are believed to be buried’
If they are there, the authorities may take an interest in the recovery of human remains. The remit of the commission tasked with recovering bodies after the recent conflict in the North of Ireland could be expanded to examine this.
CONCLUSION
Gerard Murphy, who has written two novels, has produced novel material in a work that began life as a novel. (p. XI) It may soon feature, as with Peter Hart’s research, in Orange Order commentaries.[36] But it should be treated as fiction until better evidence is provided. Southern Protestants consistently rejected unionist claims that the IRA was deliberately targeting Protestants.[37] Some committed loyalists begged to differ, not Protestants generally, including many unionists. Much better evidence needs to be supplied than Murphy provides to overturn the judgment of those most likely to have had such fears.
Gerard Murphy’s is not a history based on Michael Oakshot’s dictum that,  ‘History is what the evidence compels us to believe’. It is rather based on what Gerard Murphy believes. Evidence in these circumstances is a useful support but not essential. Not only does Murphy fail to supply appropriate compelling evidence for what he believes, he also manages to provide sufficient warrant to show that his case is riddled with contradictions. The best that can be said for the book is that it was published in an unfinished condition. There may be a better smaller book hiding inside. The back dust cover includes an accurate statement from Professor Eunan O’Halpin of Trinity College Dublin that the work will ‘stir up controversy’. It will and it should, controversy about the lapses in historical standards and the absence of historical method that are prevalent in some revisionist histories of the Irish War of Independence and its aftermath.
[1] Sometimes referred to as ‘the Tan war’ (after the British ‘Black & Tans’ counterinsurgency force), usually to undermine the impression that full independence resulted.
[2] See note 10.
[3] Dorothy Macardle, The Irish Republic, Wolfhound, 3rd ed., 1999, pp. 266, 271-76. Most of the remainder were won by unionists in the province of Ulster.
[4] An unsurpassed survey of the Anglo-Irish conflict that discusses the sectarian and propaganda aspects of British policy is a participant’s account, Frank Gallagher, The Four Glorious Years, Blackwater, 2005 (originally publ., David Hogan, pseud., Irish Press, 1953). Gallagher, the last person prosecuted by a Free State military tribunal in 1931 and the first Editor of the Irish Press, also pioneered analysis of the sectarian structure and practices of the Northern Ireland statelet and of its private sphere, The Indivisible Island, Gollancz, 1956.
[5] Cited on rear dust cover of Meda Ryan, Tom Barry, IRA Freedom Fighter, Mercier, 2003
[6] Macardle, op cit, p. 477.
[7] Ibid, Chapters 64-76, pp. 608-754.
[8] See G.B. Kenna, Facts and Figures, The Belfast Pogroms, 1920-22, Donaldson Archives, 1997; also note following.
[9] See Michael Farrell, Northern Ireland, the Orange State, 2nd ed., Pluto, 1980; John D. Brewer and Gareth I. Higgins, Anti-Catholicism in Northern Ireland, 1600-1998: the Mote and the Beam, Macmillan Press, 1999; Tim Pat Coogan, The Troubles: Ireland’s ordeal, 1966-1996, and the search for peace, Hutchinson, 1995; John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary, Explaining Northern Ireland, Blackwell, 2003, p.45.
[10] See Meda Ryan, Tom Barry, IRA Freedom Fighter, Mercier, 2003; Brian Murphy, The Origin and Organisation of British Propaganda in Ireland in 1920, Spinwatch-Aubane, 2006; John Borgonovo, Spies, Informers and the ‘Anti Sinn Fein Society’, IAP, 2007; Brian Murphy, Niall Meehan, Troubled History, a 10th Anniversary Critique of Peter Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies, Aubane, 2008; Niall Meehan, Distorting Irish History, the stubborn facts of Kilmichael: Peter Hart and Irish Historiography, at www,spinwatch.org, 2010. See http://gcd.academia.edu/NiallMeehan. The following also addressed Peter Hart’s questionable methodology:  Brendan O’Leary, ‘A Long March,’ Dublin Review of Books, No. 5, Spring 2008, at www.drb.ie; Conor Kostick, Revolution in Ireland, Popular Militancy 1917-1923, 2nd ed., Cork University Press, 2009, pp. 102-3.
[11] At a Centre for Contemporary Irish Research Seminar in Trinity College on November 3rd, chaired by Eunan O’Halpin, Murphy reported Peter Hart’s work as the initial and continuing inspiration for his research.
[12] See Niall Meehan, 2010, op cit.
[13] Also, unpublished theses cited by Murphy are not listed in the bibiography. One is cited in a misleading manner, on pages 42, 82, 360 and 393. On page 42 a source for ‘Table 3. List of civilians killed in the environs of Cork city during the War of Independence’ is given simply as ‘Miller-Borgonovo’. This hyphenated individual is not indexed, though a ‘Borgonovo, John’ is indexed as making his first appearance on page 82 (not 42). There, a ‘John Miller Borgonovo’ (without hyphen) is named as the author of the ‘most recent detailed work’ on ‘executions carried out by the Cork No 1 Brigade in Cork city’. This is cited as ‘Informers, Intelligence and the Anti-Sinn Féin Society, the Anglo Irish Conflict in Cork City 1920-21’ (note, the term ‘Anti Sinn Fein Society’ should be in inverted commas). This is followed by note 6 in which the work is again named and dated as a 1998 University College Cork (UCC) MA thesis (p. 360). The note concludes by misnaming the 2007 Irish Academic Press book by ‘John Borgonovo’ that is based on, but also updates, the thesis. That book is ‘Spies, Informers and the ‘Anti-Sinn Féin Society’, the Intelligence War in Cork City’. Murphy again leaves out the important inverted commas surrounding ‘Anti-Sinn Féin Society’. He also omits the hyphen between ‘Anti’ and ‘Sinn Féin’, substitutes ‘League’ for ‘Society’ and omits the sub-title. In the bibliography (p. 393) these mistakes, apart from the now included subtitle, are repeated. To sum up, the 1998 Borgonovo thesis that Murphy names in his main text and cites in note 6, p. 82, is not the ‘most recent detailed work’ on the subject, Borgonovo’s misnamed (pp. 360, 393) 2007 book is. More on Borgonovo’s significant research later.
[14] Coogan, op cit, p. 130. Also, On page. 246, Professor John A Murphy is criticised for asserting ‘There was no ethnic cleansing on [Cork city’s] South Mall’, the up market commercial and financial district said to be dominated by a well to do Protestants. Neither the source, The Sunday Independent (4 October 2004), or the context, (a meeting of Reform, an organisation wishing to take the Irish Republic back in to the British Commonwealth), is given. Murphy observed, ‘Irish Protestants in the 26 counties suffered population decline, grievously in the 1914-23 period and more gradually thereafter. There are many explanations for this phenomenon, active persecution being the least plausible… the notion that tens of thousands of Protestants were compelled to flee their shops and farms is Paisleyite myth-mongering.’ Murphy, it should be stated, supports the argument that individual Protestants ‘were victims of Catholic sectarian nationalism masquerading as republicanism in places like west Cork’ and sources his view within Peter Hart’s research. Murphy replied to newspaper criticism from Eoghan Harris and from John Paul McCarthy on this point. He stood over his original comment. (Examiner, 5, 10 November 2010; Sunday Independent 7, 14 November 2010)
[15] See, http://www.gillmacmillan.ie/history/history/the-year-of-disappearances (accessed 9 November 2010).
[16] Eoghan Harris promoted the book in the Examiner, 5 November 2010. John Paul McCarthy wrote similarly in the Sunday Independent on 7 November. On 12 November in the Irish Independent, Kevin Myers observed in his commentary, ‘I invented the entire subject of historical journalism for the period 1914-23’. He continued, ‘my exclusion by the Irish Times from its supplement to mark the 90th anniversary of the [1916] Rising was one of several reasons why I resigned from that newspaper’.
[17] G.B. Kenna, op cit, p101. Kenna names and dates the victims. Of the 185 Protestants, up to half were probably killed by Catholics, mostly from belief that they were acting in self-defence. The remainder were said to be victims of indiscriminate unionist firing and attempts by the British military to repel unionist attacks on Catholics (ibid, pp. 101-114).
[18] See for example, John-Paul McCarthy, ‘Lost chance to write the Workers’ Party history’, Sunday Independent, 8 November, 2009.
[19] While Murphy and, following him, McCarthy use ‘Gray’, ‘Grey’ is the more usual spelling in the literature. I am informed by Manus O’Riordan (email, 15 Nov 2010), son of Michael, below, ‘There is not the slightest evidence to support the charge of sectarianism against the Greys. Quite the contrary. When Michael O’Riordan was expelled from the Labour Party in 1944 – following his public stand against the anti-Semitism of Cork Labour Councillor Tim Quill – and went on to establish the Cork Socialist Party, Jim Grey became one of the most active campaigners on O’Riordan’s behalf in the subsequent [14 June] 1946 Cork [Borough] by-election [in which O’Riordan obtained more votes than Tom Barry, see http://electionsireland.org – NM]’.
[20] The Coolacrease killings were the subject of a controversial 2007 RTE documentary involving Eoghan Harris. For a critique, see, Philip O’Connor, Paddy Heaney, Pat Muldowney, Coolacrease: the True Story of the Pearson Executions, an Incident in the Irish War of Independence, Aubane, 2008. See also Niall Meehan and also (separately) Philip O’Connor and Pat Muldowney’s response in Dublin Review of Books, No. 11, Autumn 2009, to a review by Tom Wall in issue No. 9, available at www.drb.ie.
[21] John Borgonovo, ‘The Guerrilla Infrastructure: IRA Special Services in the Cork No. 1 Brigade, 1917-1921,’ The Irish Sword, XXVII, No. 108, pp. 215-16. Borgonovo’s sources are, n. 53, RIC Daily Reports, 8 – 14 April 1921. This is not an obscure source.
[22] Hart, 1998, op cit, p. 311. One reason ‘tramps’ sometimes received attention from the IRA was that the British army were in the habit of sending soldiers out disguised as tramps. See Florence O’Donoghue, No other law, Irish Press, 1954, p. 119.
[23] See note 10.
[24] Murphy, notes that this story ‘has been described in detail elsewhere’. It is the O’Donoghue’s own story, in John Borgonovo, ed, Florence and Josephine O’Donoghue’s War of independence, a destiny that shapes our ends (IAP, 2006). Unsurprisingly, the O’Donoghue’s memories of these years do not correspond with Gerard Murphy’s views.
[25] The episode is also mentioned in Borgonovo, ed, 2006, p. 174, 188-9, n. 47, which publishes the letters series.
[26] A logical place to pursue the matter would be in Boulogne itself, but there is no evidence that Murphy thought of or did this.
[27] In Borgonovo, ed, 2006, p. 170, 171
[28] G.B. Kenna, op cit., p. 22, citing Protestant expelled worker, James Baird, in the Dublin Evening Telegraph, 11 November 1920, who gives this figure.
[29] Jasper Ungoed-Thomas, Jasper Wolfe of Skibbereen, Collins Press, 2008, pp. 143-4, 220-1; Jasper Ungoed-Thomas, ‘IRA Sectarianism in Skibbereen?’ Skibbereen and District Historical Society Journal, Vol. 6, 2010. p. 97.
[30] The incident climaxed Peter Hart’s conclusion (op. cit.) that the IRA was sectarian toward Protestants. For a counter view, see Meda Ryan, ‘‘The Dunmanway find’ of Informers’ Dossier’, in Tom Barry, IRA Freedom Fighter, Mercier, 2005, pp. 209-229.
[31] Irish Times, 2 June 1922. The same page reports 200 refugees from unionist sectarianism in Belfast being transferred to the Marlborough Hall, Dublin.
[32] Borgonovo, 2007, op cit, p. 1.
[33] Ibid, passim.
[34] See Kevin Myers, op. cit.; and, prior to the book’s publication, Andrew Bushe, ‘Have secret files solved 85-yr-old murder mystery?’, Sunday Mirror, 1 July 2007.
[35] John Borgonovo, ‘The Guerrilla Infrastructure: IRA Special Services in the Cork No. 1 Brigade, 1917-1921,’ The Irish Sword, XXVII, No. 108, pp. 211-13
[36] See interview with Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson, Irish Times, 17 June 2006.
[37] A useful exploration is contained in four articles in Church & State, No. 86, Autumn 2006: Eamon Dyas, ‘The Crown Campaign Against Protestant Neutrality in Cork During the Irish War of Independence’; Editorial, ‘Ireland in 1921: Dr. Fitzpatrick Puts Mr. Bury’s Foot in It’; Joe Keenan, Dennis Kennedy, ‘Protestant Refugees: Semantics or Accuracy?’; Sean McGouran, ‘Robin Bury’s Faulty Witness’. It is available at, http://free-magazines.atholbooks.org/c&s/cs86.pdf. See also http://free-magazines.atholbooks.org/c&s/cs90.pdf for Manus O’Riordan, ‘Tom Barry and Sectarian Degradation’, Church and State, No. 90, Autumn 2007. The issue is also discussed by Niall Meehan, ‘Frank Gallagher and land agitation – a response to Tom Wall’s ‘Getting Them Out, Southern Loyalists in the War of Independence’’ (DRB, Issue 9 Spring 2009)’, Dublin Review of Books, Issue 11, Autumn 2009; ‘Top People, review of The Irish Establishment 1879-1914, by Fergus Campbell’, Dublin Review of Books, Issue 14, Summer 2010 – available at www.drb.ie and at, http://gcd.academia.edu/NiallMeehan/Papers.

Nial Meehan has contacted us and has pointed us to an article he wrote some time ago, thank you for submitting the article to us , his words are below:
My review (the first) of Gerard Murphy’s The Year of Disappearances:
Niall Meehan, 17th November 2010Gerard Murphy’s ‘The Year of Disappearances, Political Killings in Cork, 1921-1922’, published by Gill & Macmillan on 29 October 2010, purportedly examines the period of the so-called ‘Cork Republic’ during 1921-22. Murphy alleges that the Cork IRA killed and ‘disappeared’ sometimes-uninvolved Cork Protestants, including teenagers, in the final phase of the 1919-21 Irish War of Independence (WoI)[1] and its aftermath. This is a controversial thesis and part of a debate whose parameters have been much publicised and discussed for over a decade.[2]INTRODUCTIONBefore tackling the book, it is necessary to give a brief historical introduction for those unfamiliar with this period in Irish history and/or with the context within which a debate on sectarianism in Irish history is taking place.
The British government refused to accept the verdict of a large majority of Irish people who opted for independence from Britain at the 1918 General Election. Sinn Féin won 73 of 105 Irish seats and set up a breakaway Dáil (parliament) in January 1919.[3] As a consequence of British suppression of Irish demands and institutions, an increasingly ruthless and bitter military, clandestine, intelligence, propaganda and political struggle broke out between British and Irish forces during 1919-21. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) fought British counterinsurgency forces. Support for the republican project deepened in the face of British measures that, while effectively brutal, were otherwise ineffective. Protestant and Roman Catholic civil society south of what became the border of the state of Northern Ireland either supported or was effectively neutral toward republican forces, mostly the former. British policy aimed at managing the conflict by encouraging and deepening sectarian division failed, essentially because their republican opponents, while mainly Roman Catholic in religious outlook, were politically anti-sectarian.[4] However, small but significant counter republican forces based ideologically on Protestant loyalism and support for the British Empire may have been successfully activated. Such groups and individuals faced severe IRA sanction, including execution and deportation. As Third West Cork Flying Column leader Tom Barry put it, ‘The British were met with their own weapons – they had gone down into the mire to destroy us and our nation, and down after them we had to go.’[5] The question is, how far was that?A truce between the belligerents, preparatory to negotiations, came into force on 11 July 1921.[6] An Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921 provided for partial independence for 26 of the country’s 32 counties. The Irish Free State emerged from a split over the Treaty provisions that caused a 1922-23 southern civil war.[7]  The residual Six County statelet of Northern Ireland, which remained inside the United Kingdom, effectively began life by expelling thousands of Roman Catholics and ‘rotten Protestants’ (socialists) from their jobs. It survived by institutionalising and maintaining sectarian discrimination.[8] The permanently governing Ulster Unionist Party oversaw sectarian discrimination until the Northern Ireland parliament was effectively abolished in March 1972, a situation ‘sanctioned by the neglect of successive British governments’.[9]The path to relative political stability by the mid 1920s was as fractious and bitter as what preceded it. It left a lasting legacy whose parameters are disputed and which acted as a significant influence on the outbreak of ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland after 1968. Disputes over what happened then, between 1919-23, are also frequently disputes over what happened after 1968. Irish history has become intertwined with, and is interpreted within, the framework of Irish politics. Within this fractious exercise British responsibility is frequently abstracted from the picture, replaced with considerations of sectarian strife peculiar to the island of Ireland. In addition, in recent years emphasis on unionist and British responsibility for sectarianism has shifted. It has been argued that Irish republicans targeted Protestants for sectarian reasons during the WoI, rather than for engaging in largely clandestine activity on behalf of British forces.GERARD MURPHY’S YEAR OF DISAPPEARANCESIn The Year of Disappearances Gerard Murphy acknowledges his debt to the late Peter Hart who pioneered the republican sectarianism argument in his highly influential The IRA and its Enemies: violence and community in Cork, 1916-1923 (OUP, 1998). Subsequent criticism established that Hart invented evidence and misreported archival material in order to establish his case. Inexplicably, with few exceptions, Irish historians failed to respond to the serious problems raised.[10] Murphy wrote that Hart’s 1998 book ‘is worth the cover price for the sources alone’ and that ‘Hart’s sources’ were his ‘starting point’. (p. 22) [11]  Hart’s argument had strong media supporters. Kevin Myers in the Irish Times and Eoghan Harris in the Sunday Times and Sunday Independent, vigorously promoted his research, Myers from 1990 and Harris from 1998. These efforts reflected their opposition to the Northern Ireland peace process up to and after the 1994 IRA ceasefire. Journalist propagandists like Harris and Myers promoted and amplified research with which they politically agreed, while dismissing counter arguments.[12] The impact of their efforts should not be casually dismissed. Thousands of readers without access to a different argument were potentially conditioned to accept a tendentious view of Irish history.This is the context within which Gerard Murphy’s book has been written and within which, inevitably, it will be interpreted. However, all interpretation, irrespective of origin, should bow before evidence. Without identifiable evidence within historical texts, discussion and debate becomes merely contested rhetoric. It is here, as I shall demonstrate, that Murphy’s book fails. Murphy acknowledges that his 498 pages and 58 chapters contain ‘at best a theory or, rather a series of interrelated theories’ (p. XI). Numerous problems arise, however, from ill-considered suppositions and speculations. The absence of an adequate scholarly apparatus gives rise to doubts over the work’s merits. It also creates severe difficulties in establishing how Murphy reached his conclusions. Unfortunately, though referenced in notes, the book contains no list of primary sources. A thin bibliography of published work is provided. However, un-paginated citation of published material is of no help.[13] On occasion also Murphy cites unnamed individuals he encountered on his quest, for example: ‘This book was almost finished when I chanced upon an elderly Cork city man’ (p. 301); ‘A number of years ago a friend of mine was driving along one Sunday morning listening to the car radio…’ (p. 245) The impression of a carelessly prepared work rushed into print (for the Christmas market?) is evident. Take page 86 for instance. There, in the second of two mentions, it is reported that there was ‘no branch of the UDA in Cork’. Presumably, instead of this unexplained acronym, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF, founded in 1912) was intended, rather than the Ulster Defence Association (UDA, which emerged in the latter part of 1971).[14] Since ‘The Year of Disappearances’ is advertised as a referenced work of history it therefore lacks prima facie credibility.[15] In most reputable universities such work would not be admissible as research. MEDIA AMPLIFICATIONMurphy suggests that sectarian strife was a product of Irish Republican Army (IRA) activities in the city of Cork and its environs in the province of Munster, the hotbed of military opposition to British rule during the WoI. It was a period in which the IRA and then anti-Anglo Irish Treaty IRA gained control, a control that began after the Truce and continued to July 1922. This is the period of the so-called ‘Cork Republic’. Murphy accused the local IRA, in particular its south side No. 2 Cork city battalion, of killing and disappearing Protestants, including teenagers. As with Hart’s research, Murphy’s book attracted significant media attention on publication, from Eoghan Harris, Kevin Myers and (also on this occasion) from John Paul McCarthy.[16] With media publicity came also examples of a media amplification effect. Harris suggested that Murphy’s figure of 78 (sometimes unknown and unnamed) Protestants he alleges were killed during 1920-22 is ‘not far from the German-Jewish figure of 91’ murdered ‘during the Nazi pogrom of Kristallnacht, November 28, 1938’. Not far in total but quite so, time wise. Far, also, from the estimated six million Jews annihilated during World War Two. If Harris opted in his inappropriate comparison for a ‘European perspective’, Myers chose an all-island one. He observed, ‘Most Belfast nationalists know of the terrible things that befell Catholics’ there. He continued, ‘What happened in Cork was actually worse’. To put this comment in perspective, between July 1920 and June 1922, it is estimated that 276 Catholics and 185 Protestants (all named), plus three whose religious identity was indeterminate, were killed in sectarian disturbances in Belfast.[17] An observation by McCarthy (a young Cork originating historian, who echoes the thoughts of Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris[18]) illustrates our first example of a limitation in Murphy’s approach. Murphy refers on page 194 to ‘the first time I had heard mention’ of Jim and Miah Grey, described as, ‘two of the most prominent IRA gunmen on the North side of Cork city’. He reports the Grey brothers as so intent on killing Protestants they were opposed internally. For example, noted Murphy, in ‘the winter of 1921/22’, an IRA company in Glenville, County Cork, put,‘a round the clock armed guard on the local demesne, that of Sir Edward Hudson Kinehan… At the time the armed guard was said to be a protection against ‘the Grays’’.[19]McCarthy praised the book in the Sunday Independent on 7 November 2010. He described the brothers as, ‘two notoriously cruel IRA men from the city’s trigger-happy south side [sic] battalion whose ample defects were still discussed at the drag-hunt meetings in Dripsey that gobbled up my childhood Sundays’: McCarthy continued, ‘Murphy recounts the dramatic scene during the winter of 1921 when the local IRA company in Glenville posted an armed guard around the local demesne so as to protect the well regarded Protestant Kinehan family against a nocturnal visit from the Grays intent on a rerun of the earlier sectarian massacre at Coolacreese [sic], Co Offaly.’Aside from McCarthy placing the brothers on the south-side, while Murphy described them as in a north side IRA battalion, there are significant problems with Murphy’s narrative, and with McCarthy’s amplification: First, Murphy’s evidential basis ‘for this story’ consists of two ‘neighbours in Glenville’, whom he names. This local lore may be a useful source. However, oral history should be triangulated with other evidence (where available). This is desirable to avoid history resting on hearsay;Second, though it is a ‘story’ which alleges the Greys were contemplating a killing, no evidence is provided that they attempted to carry it out or that they were planning it. What we have is an uncorroborated non-event;Third, McCarthy’s sly reference to a ‘sectarian massacre at Coolacreese [sic], Co Offaly’ is noteworthy. In Coolacrease in June 1921 the IRA executed two brothers called Pearson for informing and for firing on and severely wounding an IRA road blocking party. McCarthy tendentiously describes it as a sectarian killing, in which he also insinuates the Greys may have participated, when there is far more reasonable evidence to show that the Pearson brothers were killed because they were militarily engaged informers.[20] Nothing suggests Grey brother involvement.Instead of relying solely on sketchy local lore, Murphy should also have inspected archival material. There, the origin of the oral memory, subsequently exaggerated, may be found. Indeed, UCC historian John Borgonovo has already published on it in an article for The Irish Sword. The Greys ran the IRA’s transport section. They believed, for whatever reason, that in April 1921 Kinehan had somehow obtained car parts reserved by the Greys for the IRA. Consequently, wrote Borgonovo,‘Six armed Volunteers raided the home of Sir Edward Kinehan. They dismantled his car, took away numerous parts, then destroyed the engine with pick-axes. On the car door, they chalked the message, ‘Don’t take our parts. By Order, Transport Commandant, 1st Brigade IRA’.[21]So, in this case there was no assassination attempt. The car was executed, not a Protestant knight of the realm. An archival source (in this case an RIC report), while also requiring interrogation, has the value of pinpointing and preserving the time and place of this event. It also clarifies a lingering memory that appears, as reported, to have lost its shape over time. Murphy did not take this elemental step, a failing that permits scope for speculation along possibly pre-conceived lines. Leaving McCarthy aside, let us now pursue Murphy’s methodology and see where it leads.‘A FELLA BURIED IN THIS BOG AND… IN THAT BOG’Murphy’s case rests on being able to show that more people were killed during the conflict than has been recorded. He suggests that this occurred particularly during the closing period of the Anglo-Irish conflict, the period of the Truce after July 1921 and in the six-month interregnum between Treaty split and onset of civil war in June 1922. Who died? In Murphy’s ‘Appendix II’, the following 12 unnamed and unknown Protestants are listed in ‘Post-Truce/Civil War Killings of civilians in Cork City and Environs’:Three Protestant Boys – 11-15 July 1921Six ‘Prominent Citizens’ – 17 March 1922Three merchants – June 1922Murphy then lists in Appendix III and IV, missing persons from 1922-26 and missing persons inquiries, 1923-28, produced by the Irish Free State. There is no correlation between Murphy’s speculations in Appendix II and the official lists. There are no links whatever to the IRA in many cases. Here we have Murphy bothering to produce archival data but the problem is that it does not confirm his speculations.On pages 39-40 Murphy wrote of the origin of his suspicion that the IRA engaged in systematic secretive assassinations, based on unreasonable paranoia. He noted,‘This was not the history we had learned in school, though it did correlate with what I had learned from neighbours as a child when I’d be told: ‘Well, there was a fella buried in this bog, and there was a fella buried in that bog, and there as another fella tied to a gate and shot in Glashaboy’.’ The 40-odd civilians shot as ‘spies’ by the Cork IRA during the War of independence is likely to be an underestimation, because tramps and those in the margins of society disappeared leaving no record’. This is followed by note 6 (p. 354) that cites Peter Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies, but no page number. The reader cannot trace these reportedly executed tramps to the information source. Had the reader done so he or she would in any case have been misled. Hart has been criticised for failing to document any evidence of his dead tramps, though he speculated freely on the IRA targeting them and ‘social deviants’, in his final chapter.[22]  While such comments may make media sound bites they are not history. In this case it is also an example of one largely contentless reference (Murphy’s) building upon another (Hart’s). So here, where Murphy provides a gestural reference, he did not check to see whether Hart had sourced his materials, and is apparently unaware that Hart’s scholarship has been questioned.[23] No effort is made to estimate the number of tramps and ‘those in the margins of society’ in order to come up with an estimate of the numbers of non-recorded killings in the conflict. What we have here is merely speculation. It is essentially a faith-based history that is a logical outcome of Peter Hart’s sometimes-questionable methodology.The nub of Gerard Murphy’s argument requires him to establish who organised the disappearing and shooting of uninvolved Protestants. He stipulates that three leading Cork IRA members were responsible. They are: IRA head of intelligence, Florence O’Donoghue;Josephine O’Donoghue (wife of Florence as of April 1921), an IRA spy who worked for General Strickland, the British Army Commander in Cork;Cork No. 1 Brigade leader, Sean O’Hegarty. Murphy does not establish what O’Hegarty, ‘a fierce ascetic and atheist’ (p. 15), has against Protestants, and his case against the O’Donoghues is entirely speculative. The O’Donoghues are regarded by Murphy as primarily responsible.DROWNED IN PARANOIAIn his review of the book, Eoghan Harris accurately and supportively summarised Murphy’s portrayal of a ‘depraved’ Florence O’Donoghue and his ‘sinister’ wife Josephine. (Examiner, 5 November) They are accused by Murphy of executing Protestant teenagers and Josephine’s Protestant neighbours in a series of ‘what if’ scenarios that encapsulate the book’s ‘methodology’. Murphy argued that Josephine was ‘paranoid’ (p. 316). How so? A son from her first marriage to a British soldier, who was killed in the First World War, was retained by her late husband’s anti-Catholic family in Britain. In return for Josephine’s offer to the IRA to spy on General Strickland her son was sensationally either kidnapped or liberated (or both, depending on point of view) in November 1920 by Florence O’Donoghue and five other IRA volunteers. He was returned to Cork where Josephine’s sister hid him. In April 1921 Florence and Josephine married.[24]Murphy speculated that Josephine’s paranoia was due to the publicity surrounding this event. She became ‘frightened of her Protestant neighbours’ and ‘turned on them in case they might inform on her’, while scaring off others (p. 114, emph. in original, see also ‘Map 2’). The arrest of a father and son named Blemens on 29 November 1920 by the IRA and their subsequent execution for spying, is given as the prime example, as they lived near Josephine. However, Josephine’s then mother in law in Barry in Wales received anonymous letters ‘stating that the little boy was in Cork with his mother’. Florence O’Donoghue thought the sender was ‘a Miss Murphy who lived at No 3 Roxboro Terrace’, beside Josephine (ibid). Miss Murphy was unharmed despite proof of being suspected in this regard. Gerard Murphy glides past the fact, before fixating on the Blemens family and an assumption of paranoia on the part of Josephine.Supposition devoid of a scintilla of corroborative evidence supports the unstable foundation of this argument. The argument, however, proceeds apace.Take page 310. Murphy comments on Florence O’Donoghue’s correspondence with his wife in June 1921, written while he was separated on IRA duties. A letter of 17 June revealed, writes Murphy, ‘very little… to suggest that dramatic happenings might be taking place in Roxboro Terrace’ where Josephine resided at No. 4. Murphy observes, however, ‘the lack of direct reference… may itself be grounds for suspicion.’ One or two ‘hints’ in the letter may ‘cast a new and extraordinary light’ on a previously reported Times of London article of 18 May 1922, in which ‘somebody’s child’ was abducted along the Blackrock Road, Cork city, again near Josephine’s house (p. 307). Though no other newspaper reported the alleged abduction and no archival trace of it can be found, Murphy considers the story of great significance. He asks,‘was [Josephine] the ‘mysterious individual in a motor car’ who was involved in the actual abduction? The use of the word ‘individual’ rather than ‘man’ is interesting.’ (p. 309)Yes, quite interesting. We move now to the ‘extraordinary light’ Florence’s letter allegedly casts on this dramatic episode, from which Murphy deduces Josephine’s role. O’Donoghue’s 17 June letter to his wife contains, writes Murphy, ‘one cryptic reference to matters in the city’:‘some friends from Cork tell me you were , so to say, on active service one day a while ago. But there was nothing doing apparently’.O’Donoghue then asks his wife to be ‘careful’. Murphy comments, ‘this of course could be interpreted to mean anything’. According to Murphy it could mean that Josephine was a ‘mysterious individual in a motor car’ who abducted a teenager. By the same token it could mean that Florence was advising his wife simply to be careful while carrying out her IRA duties. Murphy makes further deductions on the basis of a letter of 20 June. In a closing paragraph on family matters Florence O’Donoghue commented on a 20 June Cork Examiner report of a small family boat involved in an unconnected aquatic accident. O’Donoghue refers to ‘a boating accident…. and there was a youngster in it’. He wonders, on the basis that his wife was a keen yachtswoman, if it ‘was your party, ye seem to have a pretty taste in accidents of that kind. Glad to see that nothing worse than a ducking befell anybody’. [25] Murphy observes, ‘Again, this could be interpreted in many different ways’. Indeed it could, but Murphy is determined on this: ‘considering that we have already speculated [!] that boys may [!] have been taken and thrown into the sea along with YMCA provisions during [IRA] raids on the harbour in mid-June, and also that [Henry A] Harris appears [!] to have been drowned in Boulogne, this is an amazing coincidence’. (p. 310-11, see also p. 312)‘Amazing’ indeed. On this reasoning, that includes reference to an event that occurred one year later in March 1923, Murphy insinuates that Josephine was drowning as well as abducting Protestant teenagers. At the risk of drowning the reader in detail it is necessary to explain Murphy’s reference to Henry A Harris. Harris had been a prominent Cork Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) member who Murphy believes was deliberately killed by drowning in France in March 1923 (Ch. 39, ‘A Boulogne Mystery’, pp. 207-11, citing the Irish Times, 26 March 1923, Cork Examiner, 21 April 1923). However, on page 211 we read, ‘We are not 100 per cent sure of course, that the body found in Boulogne harbour was that of H.A. Harris’. In fact, apart from, ‘his age was about right’, that Harris was English and the body was assumed to be, no evidence suggests that it was. A subsequent press report that ‘I/O IRA’ killed this unknown individual, as a ‘traitor to Irish Republic’, was later again reported a ‘definitely established’ hoax, perpetrated by yet another Englishman (Irish Times, 9, 23 April 1923) For Murphy, however, ‘this was almost certainly an IRA job’, the use of ‘I/O’ (for ‘Intelligence Officer’), being the determining factor in Murphy’s view. In support, he reports that records of the East Bristol YMCA in England, where Harris was General Secretary to the end of 1922, subsequently went missing. On this basis alone, he writes that the Irish Times ‘hoax’ article was ‘dissimulation’, and also, ‘It suggests that somebody in Britain wanted to keep the facts of the drowning a secret’. Who and for what particular or peculiar reason Murphy does not explain. In an initial Times of London report (26 March 2010, not cited by Murphy) police suggested that the individual, whose possessions were missing, was robbed after he drowned and after his body was washed up on shore.  The reason Harris is swept into Murphy’s narrative is because, in a previous chapter (Ch. 18, ‘The Cork YMCA’, pp. 100-07), Murphy discusses and dismisses IRA assertions that a pro-British intelligence ring operated out of the Cork YMCA. The reason Murphy is on the trail of Harris in the first place is because, ‘Harris would have made a good candidate as the leader of an alleged spy ring operating out of the YMCA…. I have found no evidence from any surviving IRA men’s accounts that he was ever shot by the IRA or targeted or that his name was ever known, but he was the head man of the Munster YMCA during the War of independence. Therefore he would make for a logical target’. (p. 207-208)There is, in other words, no evidence the IRA was after Harris in the first place. Therefore, not a scintilla of hard evidence justifies including Chapter 39 in the book. It is an evidential dead end[26] and Murphy’s readers have entered a speculative wilderness.On the IRA suggestion that there may have been clandestine activity on the part of some Cork YMCA members, Murphy dismisses it. ‘Going through the records of the YMCA from 1915 to 1924’ convinces him that the YMCA was not a ‘secret service agency’ or even a ‘cover up’ for one (p. 103, 104). This reasoning is naive. It is doubtful if a group of the clandestine type the IRA alleged existed would have detailed their activities in the YMCA minute book. That would be foolish. On the same basis, hunting through Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) records might fail to uncover evidence of Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) infiltration, though it occurred. Murphy could have taken a hint from the YMCA General Committee Year Book, in which he is surprised by ‘how little the YMCA seemed to be affected by the conflict going on around it’ (p. 105). Preserving the stated purpose of such an organisation would be essential for a group operating ‘under-the-cover’ of the YMCA. To maintain security and credibility, most YMCA members would surely be entirely unaware of the use to which their organisation may have been put. Surprisingly, this possibility does not appear to have occurred to Murphy.The piling of unproven assumptions one on top of the other leaves the discerning reader underwhelmed.YMCA TOILET PAPER‘[T]his is all mere speculation’. (Gerard Murphy, p. 147)Eleven pages on from his boating incident commentary and with no further substantive argument, Murphy writes, ‘I am now of the view’ that the O’Donoghues and, Sean O’Hegarty, ‘snatched local Protestant teenagers – of 16 years and upwards who may or may not have been connected with spying activities – and used them as hostages against British executions of IRA prisoners’. (p. 321)  Dan O’Brien was the last IRA prisoner to be executed on 16 May 1921 (p. 313). Murphy suggests that a group of teenagers was ‘snatched’ in the first two weeks of May to place pressure on the British not to shoot O’Brien. They were shot, alleges Murphy, after O’Brien was. The reason this IRA activity has no extant evidential basis is, suggests Murphy, because even the British, ‘covered up the blackmail and reported to Dublin Castle that the boys had been conscripted into the IRA’. (p. 322)Why the British should do this strange thing is not clear. Even more peculiarly, ‘a month later [16 June 1921], with more prisoners on death row, the trick was tried again’. (p. 322) Why, when it did not work the first time? Murphy has already admitted that O’Brien was the last to be shot. Furthermore, it appears that O’Donoghue knew he would remain the last. He wrote on 15 June 1921, ‘Official reprisals are certainly at an end, which is a big victory for us’. And, on 16 June, ‘I think the shooting of men for having arms and levying war is at an end’.[27] Undaunted, Murphy alleges that the IRA, ‘now leave a note in the YMCA toilet, intended to be passed on to the military, either to warn against spying, or supplying the military or that the boys would be shot if the British returned to official executions’. (p. 322)It sounds like a complicated message. What did it say? We must turn back 216 pages to page 106, where YMCA minutes note, ‘the discovery in the downstairs toilet of the YMCA (which was used by the public) of ‘a piece of paper… purporting to come from the CO IRA, Cork District, containing a threat’[…]. There is no hint as to what the threat actually was.’Within Murphy’s methodology, ignorance is no barrier to certainty. The truth is, Murphy cannot demonstrate that the IRA snatched, imprisoned or shot two groups of Protestant teenagers. Murphy’s case is built almost entirely on supposition. His evidence, where evident, appears to consist of local lore, partial and vague archival references, and his imagination. For an exercise in sustained supposition with regard to allegedly missing persons based on no hard evidence, however, Chapter 50, ‘St Patrick’s Day Parade’ (pp. 268-277), is possibly the best example. Here Murphy discusses the alleged kidnapping of his ‘Six ‘Prominent Citizens’ – 17 March 1922’ listed in Appendix II. His discussion is based on ‘confirmation… of a rumour… that some prominent local supporters of the Treaty were recently kidnapped’ (Irish Times, 21 March 1922, in Murphy, p. 269). Murphy supposes (without describing how or why) that these were ‘lower middle class Protestants’ (p. 271), who he cannot name and whose relatives never sought their whereabouts. They ‘simply disappeared’. (p. 270) Murphy suggests,‘Secrecy and censorship… makes a space in which it is possible for all kinds of people to have disappeared. It appears that the reaction of the families involved was in effect to collude with this silence out of fear of attracting even more violence’.  (p. 272). Murphy notes by way, it must be assumed, of corroboration, ‘I have not been able to find any’ references to the event in state papers. (p. 385, n. 21) Murphy has based his theory on a rumour devoid of substance. The absence of evidence reinforces Murphy’s belief system, rather than (as in most social science and other forms of rational enquiry) acting to change his hypothesis. Instead, Murphy attempts to make the past fit his point of view. On pages 273-274 Murphy cites various contemporary Protestant statements condemning unionist attacks on Catholics in Northern Ireland. They were invariably accompanied by statements that the Protestant community in the south ‘never suffered from intolerance’. (p. 273). This included ‘50 Cork business leaders’ whose ‘denial’, writes Murphy, ‘of the events of St Patrick’s Day was absolute’, absolute in the sense that these alleged ‘events’ did not penetrate their consciousness. Instead (p. 274), the business leaders called on the Northern Ireland Government to re-instate the up to 10,000 Roman Catholics who had been expelled from their work in Harland and Wolfe and other shipyards and workplaces in July 1920 by unionist mobs.[28]Murphy concludes from this evidence of no sectarian targeting aimed in their direction:‘It is … clear from this that, for the Cork business community and for Southern Protestants in general, suppression was the price of survival.’ (p.274)Murphy continues, ‘the YMCA general committee remained unchanged…. and kept on meeting as if nothing had happened. Indeed, there is no reference…  in YMCA minutes’. In other words, where Murphy has no evidence that something happened, he cites further evidence undermining the suggestion. In Murphy’s methodology this becomes confirmation that the alleged event did in fact happen. Maybe it should occur to him that indeed, ‘nothing… happened’.A sub-theme pursued by Murphy is that if Church of Ireland Anglicans were oblivious to events, then their low church Protestant counterparts, in particular Methodists for some reason, were sectarian victims (Ch. 44, ‘Clerical Errors’, p. 232-241).  Unfortunately, Methodists were equally uncooperative in confirming Murphy’s thesis. Murphy cites the Rev. Alfred Harbinson, a Methodist minister in Dunmanway who stated after the exceptional April 27-29 killings of 13 Protestants in the Bandon Valley that, contrary to mistaken reports, he had been ‘neither visited or attacked’ and,‘Never at any time have I been molested or interfered with in any way. I have always received the utmost courtesy from the people of the town and surrounding community’. Murphy, then observes, ‘All the evidence from a variety of sources suggests that Rev. Harbinson did in fact flee’. (p. 274) He cites, precisely, none. The Reverend gentleman is portrayed, on no evidence whatever, as an unreliable reporter of his own experience. Cork’s most prominent Methodist, Crown Solicitor Jasper Wolfe, insisted afterwards that though he was subject to attack, this was not because of his religious beliefs, but rather due to his leading position within the British administration during a period of armed conflict. His grandson biographer recently expressed ‘surprise’ at allegations of republican or nationalist sectarianism. Jasper Wolfe had never raised them in often told tales of being,  ‘kidnapped by the IRA, or attempts to shoot him, or of his house on the outskirts of Skibbereen being occupied by Republicans or Freestaters in turn. But I never heard any suggestion of sectarian hostility towards the Wolfes, whether from the I.R.A., from their Catholic neighbours, or indeed from any Catholics at all’.[29] LOYALISTS Vs PROTESTANTSWhere Murphy relies on published sources for evidence of extra unrecorded killings it reflects further weaknesses in his argument. On page 328 (of 408 in Chapter 57, of 58), Murphy cites a June 1922 statement from the Irish Compensation Claims Committee complaining of ‘more murders of loyalists, ex-soldiers, ex-policemen than have been reported to the [British] House of Commons’ (Irish Times, 2 June 1922). Murphy supports this allegation. However, a section of the same committee report not cited by Murphy mentions ‘the position of Southern loyalists’. The ‘expulsion is not confined to Protestants’. It refers to, ‘a very large number of the exiles’ being  ‘Roman Catholics … members of the old nationalist Party of Mr Redmond’ that was superseded by Sinn Féin in the 1918 general election. Anti Protestant activity is alleged to be concentrated in West Cork, where ‘nearly every Protestant trader and small farmer has been expelled’. This is the only mention of Protestants per se and relates to the fearful and understandable exodus after the April 27-29 killings of 13 Protestant civilians in the Bandon Valley.[30] Who are the culprits? The statement explains:‘The Irish terror is directed against all who own any property or capital, or are supposed to belong to the so-called “bourgeois” class.’The controlling influence is said to be the ‘Irish Transport Union’ and ‘the anti capitalist influences of the Third International’. In short, the source blames communists for these attacks, rather than the IRA.  While such misstatements are expected in propaganda intended to secure compensation, they are highly problematic as a historical source.  Even then, the statement undermines charges of sectarianism, since both southern loyalists and home rulers are said to have been the targets.[31] In Murphy’s methodology, the lack of evidence for something always becomes evidence of its existence when that is convenient. Do we have examples of him doing it the other way when it suits him?In his passion to pursue rather than control his speculations, Murphy misrepresents more representative Protestant views. Again on page 328, Murphy asserts that ‘the disappearance of youngsters…. truly traumatised the Protestant community’. At the end of July 1922, according to Murphy, ‘the Southern Protestant Appeal, set up to support families who were fleeing the south drew up a declaration’. Murphy cited it in reference to ‘Protestant residents in Southern Ireland’, who,‘desire to express our abhorrence of sectional bitterness manifesting itself in acts of violence. We earnestly hope that recent horrible reprisals, culminating in the killing of children, will make it clear that citizens of all creed and classes must unite in a most determined effort to secure peace’.At first glance, this does appear to be significant, in particular ‘the killing of children’ reference. However, this appeal made its first public appearance in the Irish Times on 7 April 1921, nearly four months earlier. The Southern Protestant Appeal did not relate to Protestants in Southern Ireland. It arose from concern at violence against Catholics in Northern Ireland. The appeal therefore did state what Murphy cited above, but with reference to the killings in the North. The appeal continued, in a passage that Murphy does not cite, with the following observation,‘We further desire as members of religious minorities in Southern Ireland, to put on record that the South of Ireland has been notably free from sectarian violence’.This statement was made, let us remind ourselves, in April 1921 after two years of often-bitter conflict and two months before the Truce. It was instigated by a letter to the Irish Times from an EA Aston, a Protestant, on 21 March and supported by ‘Belfast Catholic’ on 24 March, who referred to ‘a bomb thrown amongst Catholic children in Weaver Street’ in Belfast, in the North, not in the South. The ‘killing of children’ reference was to the killing of Catholic children not Protestants. It is of significance that southern Protestants did not support the contention that they were subject to sectarian attack.One exception to this rule appears to be the April 27-29 1922 killings in the Bandon Valley of 13 Protestant civilians. The Protestant Convention, that paralleled the Southern Protestant Appeal, met on 11 May 1922 and stated,‘apart from this incident, hostility to Protestants by reason of their religion has been almost, if not wholly, unknown in the twenty six counties in which Protestants are in the minority’. (Irish Times, Independent, 12 May, 1922)While Murphy selectively quotes from the Southern Protestant Appeal and misreports its origins, I can find no reference to the parallel Protestant Convention in Murphy’s book. I raise the issue because Florence O’Donoghue’s leading role in the IRA was then coming to an end. He resigned from the IRA at the end of June 1922 and stayed neutral in the ensuing Civil War that commenced on 20 June (p. 317). Murphy’s problem is this:  at the height of O’Donoghue’s alleged sectarian reign of terror against Cork Protestants, southern Protestants were claiming that they were not targeted on a sectarian basis. Murphy’s solution to this problem is (as noted) to accuse Protestants of lying about their own experiences. Murphy has preconceived speculations that he is unwilling to test carefully against the evidence.JOHN BORGONOVO’S RESEARCH‘Further evidence may ultimately suggest that even my most closely argued theories are wrong.’ (Gerard Murphy, p. 29)In 2007, in 198 pages and nine chapters, John Borgonovo ploughed the same ground as Murphy. His concisely composed Spies, informers and the ‘Anti-Sinn Fein Society’, the Intelligence War in Cork City 1920-21 (Irish Academic Press, 2007) covered the same series of IRA executions that Murphy analyses. It was completed originally in 1997 as an MA thesis in University College Cork (UCC), prior to publication of Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies in 1998.[32] Borgonovo also edited Florence and Josephine O’Donoghue’s War of Independence, a destiny that shapes our ends (IAP, 2006). Though Murphy stated (p. 22) that Hart’s published work provided the stimulus for his research, Borgonovo’s may have provided its structure. The O’Donoghue’s demeanour as anti-Protestants in chief in Murphy’s research does not tally with Borgonovo’s portrayal. Borgonovo revealed how Josephine was working for the British Army commander in Cork, General Strickland, as an IRA spy. Under her codename, ‘G’, she was the source of valuable intelligence information used not only in Cork but also in Dublin by Michael Collins, the head of intelligence. Borgonovo carefully evaluated evidence and suggested that IRA intelligence appeared extensive and absent of sectarian intent.[33]GRAVESOne aspect of Murphy’s research has already excited media attention[34] and may also attract the official version. It suggests where bodies of some of those executed during the conflict are buried. It is a fact that some were never recovered. Borgonovo noted that Martin Corry, an IRA volunteer and subsequently a Fianna Fail TD, regularly ‘boasted’ that his land was one location.[35] In addition, a colour photograph in Gerard Murphy’s book, facing page 143, contains the caption,‘The clump of trees at Frankfield, Ballycureen, where three Protestant boys who were executed by the 2nd battalion of the city IRA are believed to be buried’If they are there, the authorities may take an interest in the recovery of human remains. The remit of the commission tasked with recovering bodies after the recent conflict in the North of Ireland could be expanded to examine this.CONCLUSIONGerard Murphy, who has written two novels, has produced novel material in a work that began life as a novel. (p. XI) It may soon feature, as with Peter Hart’s research, in Orange Order commentaries.[36] But it should be treated as fiction until better evidence is provided. Southern Protestants consistently rejected unionist claims that the IRA was deliberately targeting Protestants.[37] Some committed loyalists begged to differ, not Protestants generally, including many unionists. Much better evidence needs to be supplied than Murphy provides to overturn the judgment of those most likely to have had such fears.Gerard Murphy’s is not a history based on Michael Oakshot’s dictum that,  ‘History is what the evidence compels us to believe’. It is rather based on what Gerard Murphy believes. Evidence in these circumstances is a useful support but not essential. Not only does Murphy fail to supply appropriate compelling evidence for what he believes, he also manages to provide sufficient warrant to show that his case is riddled with contradictions. The best that can be said for the book is that it was published in an unfinished condition. There may be a better smaller book hiding inside. The back dust cover includes an accurate statement from Professor Eunan O’Halpin of Trinity College Dublin that the work will ‘stir up controversy’. It will and it should, controversy about the lapses in historical standards and the absence of historical method that are prevalent in some revisionist histories of the Irish War of Independence and its aftermath.[1] Sometimes referred to as ‘the Tan war’ (after the British ‘Black & Tans’ counterinsurgency force), usually to undermine the impression that full independence resulted.[2] See note 10.[3] Dorothy Macardle, The Irish Republic, Wolfhound, 3rd ed., 1999, pp. 266, 271-76. Most of the remainder were won by unionists in the province of Ulster.[4] An unsurpassed survey of the Anglo-Irish conflict that discusses the sectarian and propaganda aspects of British policy is a participant’s account, Frank Gallagher, The Four Glorious Years, Blackwater, 2005 (originally publ., David Hogan, pseud., Irish Press, 1953). Gallagher, the last person prosecuted by a Free State military tribunal in 1931 and the first Editor of the Irish Press, also pioneered analysis of the sectarian structure and practices of the Northern Ireland statelet and of its private sphere, The Indivisible Island, Gollancz, 1956.[5] Cited on rear dust cover of Meda Ryan, Tom Barry, IRA Freedom Fighter, Mercier, 2003[6] Macardle, op cit, p. 477.[7] Ibid, Chapters 64-76, pp. 608-754.[8] See G.B. Kenna, Facts and Figures, The Belfast Pogroms, 1920-22, Donaldson Archives, 1997; also note following.[9] See Michael Farrell, Northern Ireland, the Orange State, 2nd ed., Pluto, 1980; John D. Brewer and Gareth I. Higgins, Anti-Catholicism in Northern Ireland, 1600-1998: the Mote and the Beam, Macmillan Press, 1999; Tim Pat Coogan, The Troubles: Ireland’s ordeal, 1966-1996, and the search for peace, Hutchinson, 1995; John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary, Explaining Northern Ireland, Blackwell, 2003, p.45.[10] See Meda Ryan, Tom Barry, IRA Freedom Fighter, Mercier, 2003; Brian Murphy, The Origin and Organisation of British Propaganda in Ireland in 1920, Spinwatch-Aubane, 2006; John Borgonovo, Spies, Informers and the ‘Anti Sinn Fein Society’, IAP, 2007; Brian Murphy, Niall Meehan, Troubled History, a 10th Anniversary Critique of Peter Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies, Aubane, 2008; Niall Meehan, Distorting Irish History, the stubborn facts of Kilmichael: Peter Hart and Irish Historiography, at www,spinwatch.org, 2010. See http://gcd.academia.edu/NiallMeehan. The following also addressed Peter Hart’s questionable methodology:  Brendan O’Leary, ‘A Long March,’ Dublin Review of Books, No. 5, Spring 2008, at www.drb.ie; Conor Kostick, Revolution in Ireland, Popular Militancy 1917-1923, 2nd ed., Cork University Press, 2009, pp. 102-3.[11] At a Centre for Contemporary Irish Research Seminar in Trinity College on November 3rd, chaired by Eunan O’Halpin, Murphy reported Peter Hart’s work as the initial and continuing inspiration for his research.[12] See Niall Meehan, 2010, op cit.[13] Also, unpublished theses cited by Murphy are not listed in the bibiography. One is cited in a misleading manner, on pages 42, 82, 360 and 393. On page 42 a source for ‘Table 3. List of civilians killed in the environs of Cork city during the War of Independence’ is given simply as ‘Miller-Borgonovo’. This hyphenated individual is not indexed, though a ‘Borgonovo, John’ is indexed as making his first appearance on page 82 (not 42). There, a ‘John Miller Borgonovo’ (without hyphen) is named as the author of the ‘most recent detailed work’ on ‘executions carried out by the Cork No 1 Brigade in Cork city’. This is cited as ‘Informers, Intelligence and the Anti-Sinn Féin Society, the Anglo Irish Conflict in Cork City 1920-21’ (note, the term ‘Anti Sinn Fein Society’ should be in inverted commas). This is followed by note 6 in which the work is again named and dated as a 1998 University College Cork (UCC) MA thesis (p. 360). The note concludes by misnaming the 2007 Irish Academic Press book by ‘John Borgonovo’ that is based on, but also updates, the thesis. That book is ‘Spies, Informers and the ‘Anti-Sinn Féin Society’, the Intelligence War in Cork City’. Murphy again leaves out the important inverted commas surrounding ‘Anti-Sinn Féin Society’. He also omits the hyphen between ‘Anti’ and ‘Sinn Féin’, substitutes ‘League’ for ‘Society’ and omits the sub-title. In the bibliography (p. 393) these mistakes, apart from the now included subtitle, are repeated. To sum up, the 1998 Borgonovo thesis that Murphy names in his main text and cites in note 6, p. 82, is not the ‘most recent detailed work’ on the subject, Borgonovo’s misnamed (pp. 360, 393) 2007 book is. More on Borgonovo’s significant research later.[14] Coogan, op cit, p. 130. Also, On page. 246, Professor John A Murphy is criticised for asserting ‘There was no ethnic cleansing on [Cork city’s] South Mall’, the up market commercial and financial district said to be dominated by a well to do Protestants. Neither the source, The Sunday Independent (4 October 2004), or the context, (a meeting of Reform, an organisation wishing to take the Irish Republic back in to the British Commonwealth), is given. Murphy observed, ‘Irish Protestants in the 26 counties suffered population decline, grievously in the 1914-23 period and more gradually thereafter. There are many explanations for this phenomenon, active persecution being the least plausible… the notion that tens of thousands of Protestants were compelled to flee their shops and farms is Paisleyite myth-mongering.’ Murphy, it should be stated, supports the argument that individual Protestants ‘were victims of Catholic sectarian nationalism masquerading as republicanism in places like west Cork’ and sources his view within Peter Hart’s research. Murphy replied to newspaper criticism from Eoghan Harris and from John Paul McCarthy on this point. He stood over his original comment. (Examiner, 5, 10 November 2010; Sunday Independent 7, 14 November 2010)[15] See, http://www.gillmacmillan.ie/history/history/the-year-of-disappearances (accessed 9 November 2010).[16] Eoghan Harris promoted the book in the Examiner, 5 November 2010. John Paul McCarthy wrote similarly in the Sunday Independent on 7 November. On 12 November in the Irish Independent, Kevin Myers observed in his commentary, ‘I invented the entire subject of historical journalism for the period 1914-23’. He continued, ‘my exclusion by the Irish Times from its supplement to mark the 90th anniversary of the [1916] Rising was one of several reasons why I resigned from that newspaper’.[17] G.B. Kenna, op cit, p101. Kenna names and dates the victims. Of the 185 Protestants, up to half were probably killed by Catholics, mostly from belief that they were acting in self-defence. The remainder were said to be victims of indiscriminate unionist firing and attempts by the British military to repel unionist attacks on Catholics (ibid, pp. 101-114).[18] See for example, John-Paul McCarthy, ‘Lost chance to write the Workers’ Party history’, Sunday Independent, 8 November, 2009.[19] While Murphy and, following him, McCarthy use ‘Gray’, ‘Grey’ is the more usual spelling in the literature. I am informed by Manus O’Riordan (email, 15 Nov 2010), son of Michael, below, ‘There is not the slightest evidence to support the charge of sectarianism against the Greys. Quite the contrary. When Michael O’Riordan was expelled from the Labour Party in 1944 – following his public stand against the anti-Semitism of Cork Labour Councillor Tim Quill – and went on to establish the Cork Socialist Party, Jim Grey became one of the most active campaigners on O’Riordan’s behalf in the subsequent [14 June] 1946 Cork [Borough] by-election [in which O’Riordan obtained more votes than Tom Barry, see http://electionsireland.org – NM]’.[20] The Coolacrease killings were the subject of a controversial 2007 RTE documentary involving Eoghan Harris. For a critique, see, Philip O’Connor, Paddy Heaney, Pat Muldowney, Coolacrease: the True Story of the Pearson Executions, an Incident in the Irish War of Independence, Aubane, 2008. See also Niall Meehan and also (separately) Philip O’Connor and Pat Muldowney’s response in Dublin Review of Books, No. 11, Autumn 2009, to a review by Tom Wall in issue No. 9, available at www.drb.ie.[21] John Borgonovo, ‘The Guerrilla Infrastructure: IRA Special Services in the Cork No. 1 Brigade, 1917-1921,’ The Irish Sword, XXVII, No. 108, pp. 215-16. Borgonovo’s sources are, n. 53, RIC Daily Reports, 8 – 14 April 1921. This is not an obscure source.[22] Hart, 1998, op cit, p. 311. One reason ‘tramps’ sometimes received attention from the IRA was that the British army were in the habit of sending soldiers out disguised as tramps. See Florence O’Donoghue, No other law, Irish Press, 1954, p. 119.[23] See note 10.[24] Murphy, notes that this story ‘has been described in detail elsewhere’. It is the O’Donoghue’s own story, in John Borgonovo, ed, Florence and Josephine O’Donoghue’s War of independence, a destiny that shapes our ends (IAP, 2006). Unsurprisingly, the O’Donoghue’s memories of these years do not correspond with Gerard Murphy’s views.[25] The episode is also mentioned in Borgonovo, ed, 2006, p. 174, 188-9, n. 47, which publishes the letters series.[26] A logical place to pursue the matter would be in Boulogne itself, but there is no evidence that Murphy thought of or did this.[27] In Borgonovo, ed, 2006, p. 170, 171[28] G.B. Kenna, op cit., p. 22, citing Protestant expelled worker, James Baird, in the Dublin Evening Telegraph, 11 November 1920, who gives this figure.[29] Jasper Ungoed-Thomas, Jasper Wolfe of Skibbereen, Collins Press, 2008, pp. 143-4, 220-1; Jasper Ungoed-Thomas, ‘IRA Sectarianism in Skibbereen?’ Skibbereen and District Historical Society Journal, Vol. 6, 2010. p. 97.[30] The incident climaxed Peter Hart’s conclusion (op. cit.) that the IRA was sectarian toward Protestants. For a counter view, see Meda Ryan, ‘‘The Dunmanway find’ of Informers’ Dossier’, in Tom Barry, IRA Freedom Fighter, Mercier, 2005, pp. 209-229.[31] Irish Times, 2 June 1922. The same page reports 200 refugees from unionist sectarianism in Belfast being transferred to the Marlborough Hall, Dublin.[32] Borgonovo, 2007, op cit, p. 1.[33] Ibid, passim.[34] See Kevin Myers, op. cit.; and, prior to the book’s publication, Andrew Bushe, ‘Have secret files solved 85-yr-old murder mystery?’, Sunday Mirror, 1 July 2007.[35] John Borgonovo, ‘The Guerrilla Infrastructure: IRA Special Services in the Cork No. 1 Brigade, 1917-1921,’ The Irish Sword, XXVII, No. 108, pp. 211-13[36] See interview with Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson, Irish Times, 17 June 2006.[37] A useful exploration is contained in four articles in Church & State, No. 86, Autumn 2006: Eamon Dyas, ‘The Crown Campaign Against Protestant Neutrality in Cork During the Irish War of Independence’; Editorial, ‘Ireland in 1921: Dr. Fitzpatrick Puts Mr. Bury’s Foot in It’; Joe Keenan, Dennis Kennedy, ‘Protestant Refugees: Semantics or Accuracy?’; Sean McGouran, ‘Robin Bury’s Faulty Witness’. It is available at, http://free-magazines.atholbooks.org/c&s/cs86.pdf. See also http://free-magazines.atholbooks.org/c&s/cs90.pdf for Manus O’Riordan, ‘Tom Barry and Sectarian Degradation’, Church and State, No. 90, Autumn 2007. The issue is also discussed by Niall Meehan, ‘Frank Gallagher and land agitation – a response to Tom Wall’s ‘Getting Them Out, Southern Loyalists in the War of Independence’’ (DRB, Issue 9 Spring 2009)’, Dublin Review of Books, Issue 11, Autumn 2009; ‘Top People, review of The Irish Establishment 1879-1914, by Fergus Campbell’, Dublin Review of Books, Issue 14, Summer 2010 – available at www.drb.ie and at, http://gcd.academia.edu/NiallMeehan/Papers.

De Valera was an English spy?

De Valera was an English spy?

By Padrig O Ruairc.

Book Review:- “England’s Greatest Spy – Eamonn De Valera.” By John J. Turi. Published by Stacey International, London 2009. ISBN 978 – 1 – 906768-09-6

Last week I stumbled across the above book, in O Mahony’s Bookshop, Limerick. I was completely unaware of the radio debate that had taken place on RTE a few hours earlier between the author and the veteran Irish historian and journalist Tim Pat Coogan. I found the title of the book both shocking and intriguing as this weighty tome seemed to rally against the perceived orthodoxy, and whole fabric of accepted modern Irish politics and twentieth century Irish history. After reading the sleeve notes which stated: “Turi presents startling new evidence to prove the man who led Ireland throughout most of the 20th century [De Valera] … was an agent for England” I decided, although immediately sceptical of such a controversial claim, to read the book eager as a historian examine this “new evidence” and determined to try and keep an open mind about the book’s central thesis.

Unfortunately the new evidence promised in the sleeve notes does not appear in the main body of the book. Instead the reader is treated (mistreated?) to a whopping 462 page political rant which re-hashes worn out conspiracy theories and pub talk about ‘Who killed Michael Collins?’. Added to these are the author’s even more fantastic deductions about the War of Independence and Civil War which he arrives at without providing any conclusive documentary evidence. Infact Turi’s whole thesis that De Valera was a British Agent seems based completely on supposition, propaganda stories, wild interpretation of accepted facts, hear say and illogical conjecture. Throughout the book any setbacks that are encountered by those fighting for Irish independence are immediately ascribed to conspiracy by Mr. Turi, who never considers the more realistic possibility that these events were due to bad luck, chance, incompetence or poor decision making. What little he does offer as evidence to prove his claims is regularly liberally interpreted to suit his theories – rather than adjusting his theories to suit the facts.

Turi’s central argument is that the British authorities in Ireland were fully aware of the I.R.B’s plans for the 1916 Rising but allowed the rebellion to take place so that they could organise a “machine gun massacre” of the rebel Irish. According to Turi the British had already ensured the rebellion would failure through the actions of their spy Austin Stack was responsible for the capture of the German arms shipment on the Aud. This and not Eoin Mc Neill’s countermanding order was responsible for the failure of the rebellion. Turi then claims that after his surrender to the British and imprisonment in Kilmainham Jail, De Valera was given a stark choice become a British Agent or else be executed along with Pearse, Connolly and co…
De Valera readily agrees and through the secret machinations of Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, he is appointed leader of Sinn Fein in 1917. This of course was part of a secret British plot to split the Sinn Fein party, code named: “Assignment Sinn Fein” Unfortunately for the British this plot is then foiled by one of the heroes of Mr. Turi’s tale Arthur Griffith. De Valera is arrested by the British and imprisoned in Lincoln Jail, England and then his escape is staged so that De Valera can go to America to sabotage the Irish American groups lobbying the American President to support Irish Independence. This secret operation is dubbed “Assignment America”
Eventually De Valera takes part in “Assignment Ireland” whereby he returns home to destroy Sinn Fein and The I.R.A. From within – he succeeds and the I.R.A. are forced to negotiate with the British. In two further British assignments – ‘Chaos’ and ‘Civil War’ De Valera first ensures that the Irish delegation in the Treaty negotiations will not secure a Republic and then he argues against the Treaty so that he can plunge the south of Ireland into Civil War. This of course is orchestrated by the British because Michael Collins is about to cause trouble for them in the north, and the Civil War will keep him distracted long enough for De Valera’s next assignment – the assassination of both Griffith and Collins.
Turi’s heroes Collins and Griffith of course by how are about to discover De Valera’s role as a British agent. Griffith is murdered after being served arsenic laden chocolates, and Collins’s assassination / murder is organised personally by De Valera and Emmett Dalton in Cork. Collins wasn’t hidden by the I.R.A. ambushers at Bealnablath on 22nd of August 1922 he was actually shot in the back and then in the head by a British agent who was posing as a Free State soldier.
The story doesn’t end there – Sean Hales T.D. starts investigating the plot and is also murdered by De Valera’s henchmen.
De Valera remains working as a British agent long after he is elected President and under their guidance manages to sabotage the Irish economy and keep Ireland neutral during World War Two in order to create anti-Irish feeling in the U.S. By the end of the book the only thing surprising to the reader is that Mr. Turi’s does not claim that De Valera’s masters in the British Government were not themselves being controlled by the Free Masons and the Elders of Zion who secretly control the world!

Does Mr. Turi’s book present any real proof to support these claims? Of course not, but he claims the proof exists – on page 302 Turi actually calls for the exhumation of Collin’s remains to prove he was murdered! On page 298 he quotes a Dr. Singh calling for Griffiths remains to be exhumed to prove he was also murdered. What would be the purpose of these exhumations? On page 462 the need for these exhumations is made clear when Turi calls for De Valera to be given a posthumous trial on charges of “treason, fraud and conspiracy to murder.”

Not content with merely vilifying De Valera, the author also derides a whole host of Republican figures who opposed Collins and the Treaty. Turi often uses rumour innuendo and Pro-Treaty and British propaganda tales of the period to do so. According to Turi: Countess Marcivictz was a coward. De Valera may have had an extra marital affair. Liam Lynch was ‘quite possibly insane’. Oscar Tranor the leader of the I.R.A.’s Dublin brigade was more interested in killing Irishmen than British soldiers. Austin Stack was a British spy since at least 1916. Erskine Childers ‘spent his whole life in the service of England and English Imperialism.’

One of the only leading anti-Treaty republicans who does not suffer character assassination at the pen of Mr. Turi is Cathal Brugha. It would have been incredibly difficult for Mr. Turis to question the integrity and motives of Brugha who had been severely wounded by a hand grenade, as well as by multiple gunshot wounds during the 1916 rising. After suffering these wounds Brugha initially was not expected to survive by his comrades. However since Brugha did survive and became one of Collins’s main rivals for power after 1916 it is surprising that Turi does not implicate him in the conspiracy.
Infact the name Cathal Brugha does not occur once in the whole book!!! Instead, rather confusingly, Brugha is only referred to by the English language translation of his name Charles Burgess. Turi who boasts that he has read over two hundred books on the subject must have known that Irish and British historians uniformly refer to the man as Cathal Brugha. Intriguingly when Turi quotes passages from other books which mention Cathal Brugha he seems to have deliberately translated the name in the quote from ‘Brugha’ to ‘Burgess’. Is it possible that when Mr. Turi was unable to discredit one of Michael Collins’s main rivals for power that he decided instead to try and airbrush him from the history books using literary slight of hand? Or have I too begun to suffer the effect of Mr. Turi’s love of illogical and absurd conspiracy theories?

As well as having a very thin, convoluted, unrealistic and often contradictory plot, Mr. Turi’s book suffers further from a disorganised chronology which has several large gaps in the first half of the book. The narrative constantly jumping back and forward in time to so often that it reminded me of the television series “Quantum Leap” Amazingly there is no account of the East Clare by-election of 1917 – I cannot think of too many biographies of politicians that do not give an account of the first time they stand successfully for public office! The whole narrative of the book is badly written, confusing and in some places incomprehensible, In the chapter about the Treaty negotiations and the causes and beginning of the Irish Civil War Turi’s thesis that De Valera was a spy gets lost completely, only to re-emerge in the narrative like a nmany headed hydra at a later point.

The language, grammar, terms and descriptive phrases used in the book are very, very poor, and couched in ‘twee’ Irish-American stereotypes of Ireland. This occurs so often as to be annoying and distracting. Ireland is referred to as ‘the Emerald Isle” or the “oulde sod”, books about Irish history are ‘Gaelic history books’, De Valera’s friends and comrades are his ‘buddies’ etc. The author also seems to suffer from difficulties with the geography of Britain and Ireland. The phrases England and Britain are constantly interchanged and confused in the text, on page 258 Turi paradoxically defines Scottish Planters as being “English settlers.” The British Prime Minister of the period Lloyd George is described on page 192 as “Lloyd George, a Welsh [sic] and Celt himself” – surely this should have read: ‘Lloyd George, a Welshman and fellow Celt (like De Valera). In many cases the language appears, to me, to be low brow and crass ie. page 259 “The decision was a slam-dunk, a no brainer”, on page 292 events are “shifted into fast forward”

On page 294 “Modest and frugal, Griffith literally sold the shirt off his back to keep his newspapers alive.” Whilst I can appreciate and agree with the point Turi is apparently(?) trying to make here that Griffith often deprived himself of money which he diverted to ensure the survival of his political newspapers – the sentence quoted suggests that Arthur Griffith went bare-chested to a used shirt traders in Dublin to finance his newspapers!
While I can appreciate that these seemingly grammatical mistakes may be the result of the many cultural and linguistic-dialectic differences between America and Ireland , it should be noted that other American / Irish American historians writing about the same period such as T. Ryle Dwyer and John Borgovono do not use similar phraseology in their work and take some care to tailor it to their Irish readership. I do not mean to ‘nit pick’ or become pedantic in highlighting these grammatical / descriptive errors which seem trivial when taken individually, occur so often through out the text that they become infuriating.

There are no attempts at impartiality of language or tone throughout the book
British soldiers are described as ‘screaming deamons’ Cromwell is the ‘plague of all plagues’. Orangemen and Irish Unionists are ‘Unionist goon’s’ Members of the Anti- Treaty I.R.A. during the Civil War are described as ‘IRA dissidents’ a heavily politicised, and ‘loaded’ modern political term connected with the post 1998 peace process.

De Valera is described by Turoi using imagery which is suggest to my mind the forces of the occult – the implication being as far as I could see that De Valera was a tool of evil. “Eamonn De Valera cast his long black shadow on events…” De Valera’s supposed British allies are “screaming demons”. Page 66 “Eamonn De Valera, forsaking martyrdom, made his Faustian pact with the Devil…” Or if the Prince of Darkness isn’t harsh enough how about Hitler! Page 450 “De Valera’s extremists in the Irish Republican Army were the Irish version of Hitler’s Brown Shirt enforcers.”

The only redeeming features in the whole book are Mr. Turi’s critical examination of the many myth’s surrounding of De Valera’s parentage in Chapter 2, and the examination of De Valera’s poor performance as a military commander during the 1916 Rising in Chapter 4. These deservingly challenge propaganda myths later created around De Valera’s early life and career, by sympathetic historians. Perhaps if Mr. Turi had not indulged in fantastic conspiracy theories, and firmly grounded himself in factual evidence, he might have produced a poor to fair critical biography of De Valera worth reading.

Finally to make matters worse Turi continually makes scathing and insulting references to a whole host of Irish historians and previous De Valera biographers including Longford and O Neill, Desmond Ryan, Joe Whelan, Dorothy Mc Ardle, T.Ryle Dwyer and Tim Pat Coogan. He seemingly regards them all as incompetents for not discovering De Valera’s alleged role as a British spy. These attacks are counter productive to Mr. Turi’s argument, and give the impression that not only is he a ‘conspicary nut’, he is also a bitter ‘crank’.

This book is not a work to be tossed aside lightly – it should hurled away from the reader with great force! It has often been said with regard to publishing that “Paper never refused ink.” I would suggest that if Mr. Turi publishes any other similar works in the future that he uses softer and more absorbent paper! The great tragedy here is that Mr Turi’s unfounded conspiracy ramblings will receive far more media attention and airtime, because of their controversial nature, than more deserving, thought provoking and well researched books on the period that have been recently published such as Terrence O Reilly’s “Rebel Heart – George Lennon Flying Column Commander”, William Sheehan’s “Hearts And Mines” or T.Ryle Dwyers “Michael Collins The Man Who Won The War”

In Turi’s interview with Fiona Audley for the Irish Post newspaper, the author commented about De Valera: “I don’t have enough bad words to say about him.” Having taken the time to read and suffer through all 462 pages of it, it is my humble opinion that the same could be said about Mr. Turi’s book! So I think I’ll end it here…

If the above arguments have failed to convince you that the book is a “feeble effort” ( The authors own modest description. Preface Page xi) then you might be interested in listening to Tim Pat Coogan in debate with Mr. Turi on the Pat Kenny Radio show, available by podcast at the below link.

http://www.rte.ie/podcasts/2009/pc/pod- … tkenny.mp3

The Year of Disappearances. Political Killings in Cork 1921 – 1922.

An article by Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc ,
Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc challenges the claims in Gerard Murphy’s recent book, The Year of Disappearances. Political Killings in Cork 1921 – 1922.
Professor Eunan O’ Halpin of Trinity College, was prophetic in his endorsement of Gerard Murphy’s recent book, The Year of Disappearances. Political Killings in Cork 1921 – 1922. O’ Halpin stated the book ‘…is bound to stir up controversy.’ Murphy claims that the I.R.A. murdered dozens of Protestant and Unionist citizens of Cork between July 1921 and August 1922. However close analysis reveals that the historical documents Murphy uses as evidence do not always support the claims in his book. Questions need to be asked about the reliability of Murphy’s research.
Murphy’s book examines the execution of suspected British spies by the I.R.A. In 1921 the I.R.A. was a secret guerrilla army where many orders would have been given orally and where written communication would frequently have been destroyed. As a result the evidence for the guilt or innocence of those the I.R.A. executed is often fragmentary. Murphy links these fragments together using supposition, coincidence, and local rumor. Murphy frequently relies on anonymous sources for information. Given the long running controversy caused when the late historian Peter Hart used anonymous sources to make controversial claims about the War of Independence, Murphy should not have made contentious charges about the same period without definite written evidence.
Murphy believes that the I.R.A. abducted teenagers from Unionist families during the conflict to put pressure on the British. He suggests many of these were killed and secretly buried but often fails to produce verifiable evidence to prove this. Even Murphy’s definition of what constitutes a teenager is problematic. Murphy refers to four British soldiers Privates Cannim, Powell, Morris and Dacker killed the night before the Truce as ‘teenage soldiers’ (p.16). None of the four were teenagers. They were aged 20, 20, 21 and 28 respectively. When questioned about this inaccuracy Gerard Murphy told the Sunday Tribune newspaper, ‘They are usually referred to in Cork as teenagers and this is why I referred to them as such. I did not look up their ages.’* In this instance rather than conducting a quick internet search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission which would have confirmed the soldiers ages in minutes Murphy instead relied on incorrect second-hand information and treated it as factual.
Rather than conducting a quick internet search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission which would have confirmed the soldiers ages in minutes, Murphy relied on incorrect second-hand information and treated it as factual.
The lists of those killed by the IRA in Murphy’s book also pose difficulties. Murphy states that a person named Duggan was abducted and killed by the IRA in Cork sometime in July of 1921. There is no record of a person named Duggan being abducted at that time. Murphy does not state Duggan’s full name, sex and date or place of death in the book. He admits that, ‘Little or nothing is known about Duggan’ (p.35 ) Yet he automatically accepts Duggan’s death as historical fact.
Three Protestant Boys
Murphy’s lists of Cork civilians killed by the I.R.A. also lacks essential detail. It includes groupings of anonymous fatalities including ‘Three Merchants’ and ‘Six Prominent Citizens’ ( p.338 ) Crucially Murphy claims that the IRA in Cork did not target Protestants because of their religion until the War of Independence ended in July 1921 He writes that, ‘… the IRA campaign in the city, at least up to that point was not sectarian’ ( p.42 ). Murphy states that the IRA killed three Protestant teenagers from Cork between 11 – 15 July 1921. According to Murphy, the trio confessed they were British spies before being killed. Murphy sees this as a key event which launched the Cork IRA on a murderous sectarian campaign in late 1921 and early 1922. In his book Murphy insists that this event ‘…set in motion a whole witch hunt fuelled by suspicion and paranoia that led to dozens of deaths.’ (p. 306) The three victims are unnamed in Murphy’s work and he refers to them as ‘Three Protestant Boys’.
There is no record of three Protestant youths being abducted together in newspapers or police reports of the time. Nor is there any record of their existence or death in archival collections such as the Mulcahy Papers in the U.C.D. Archives. Other youths who disappeared, were abducted individually, and secretly executed by the IRA in Cork in the same period were recorded. How could the disappearance of this group of three have escaped the attention of their families, the press, the police and the British authorities? The logical conclusion is that the disappearance of the ‘Three Protestant Boys’, which Murphy claims sparked a sectarian campaign, was not recorded because it did not happen.
The logical conclusion is that the disappearance of the ‘Three Protestant Boys’, which Murphy claims sparked a sectarian campaign, was not recorded because it did not happen.
Murphy’s only information about the fate of the ‘Three Protestant Boys’ comes from one anonymous source. Murphy states that he was told ‘the story’ (his description – p.302) by the 89 year old son of an IRA veteran. Murphy states this man was informed ‘…by a Volunteer who waited until all connected to the event were themselves dead.’ ( p.302) Murphy does not state how the IRA veteran his 89 year old source supposedly heard the story from knew of the killings. Nor is he named anywhere in Murphy’s book. This third hand anonymous information cannot be verified or examined and therefore completely lacks credibility. Yet it is Murphy’s strongest evidence not only for the fate of the ‘Three Protestant Boys’ but also of their existence.
The Documentary Evidence
Murphy claims that the killings of these three were referred to by Connie Neenan in an account of his IRA activities recorded in writing by Ernie O’ Malley. (Ernie O’Malley Military Notebooks U.C.D. Archives P17b/112 p. 126) Murphy gives the following as an extract from this interview: ‘Three were friends and they confessed to their trackings and they were killed.’ This sentence is so central to Murphy’s thesis that he refers to it no less than 15 times in the book. Murphy also entitles the book’s 27th Chapter ‘Three Were Friends’. However the phrase ‘Three were friends…’ is not found anywhere in the document cited by Murphy.
The sentence in the account quoted by Murphy actually reads: ‘Both kids confessed their trackings, and they were killed.’ This transcription of the sentence has been confirmed by two other historians who have specialised in transcribing O’Malley’s notebooks. Namely O’Malley’s son Cormac K. H. O’Malley and Dr. John O’Callaghan of the University of Limerick. While O’Malley’s handwriting is difficult to read, this document is amongst the most legible interviews he recorded. It is clear beyond doubt that there are only nine words in the sentence. A comparison between Murphy’s transcription of the passage and the original (above) shows that Murphy frequently misidentified words, in one case reversed the order of two words, changed numerals to words and inserted several words that were not in the original.
Presumably Murphy mistook the B in ‘Both’ for the numeral ‘3’. Regardless, Murphy provides an extremely poor and misleading transcription of the sentence. It is clear from the original that Neenan was referring to two suspected spies executed before the Truce and therefore could not possibly have been referring to ‘Three Protestant Boys’ killed afterwards.
Gerard Murphy insists that the transcription of the document in his book is fully correct and accurate. This claim is paradoxical since Murphy gives at least three slightly different transcriptions of the sentence in his book (pp. 109, 149,306). When questioned about the accuracy of his transcription of this sentence Gerard Murphy told the Sunday Tribune newspaper, ‘To my eyes at least the word ‘friends’ is clearly legible. A blind man could see that the sentence has ten words not nine, excluding the 3.’
When contacted concerning the accuracy of Gerard Murphy’s transcription of the sentence and provided with a copy of the document in question, Gill & Macmillan, Murphy’s publishers stated; ‘It is not our intention, to insert ourselves into this scholarly dispute.’
Given the lack of any verifiable proof whatsoever that this incident ever happened, serious questions need to be raised about the dozens of deaths that Murphy claims were a result of it. Murphy makes over forty references to O’Malley’s handwritten documents in his book in support of his various claims. If Murphy was unable to read and accurately transcribe O’Malley’s interview with Neenan then the other references Murphy makes to O’Malley’s notebooks must also be treated as circumspect by the reader until they have been checked in the original.
By omitting three key words from his transcription Murphy has completely changed the meaning of the sentence. The original sentence implies that I.R.A. methods of gathering information were competent and precise. Murphy’s incorrect transcription of the sentence gives the opposite impression.
Finally Murphy’s inaccurate transcriptions are unfortunately not confined to handwritten documents. Murphy reproduces part of a typed IRA document issued by the 1st Cork Brigade. (O’Donoghue Papers National Library of Ireland MS 31 230) According to Murphy it directs IRA intelligence officers to examine letters addressed to ‘… any address or firm with which people generally deal…’
The document actually states that the IRA should be on the alert for letters sent to ‘… any address or firm with which people locally do not generally deal…’ By omitting three key words from his transcription Murphy has completely changed the meaning of the sentence. The original sentence implies that I.R.A. methods of gathering information were competent and precise. Murphy’s incorrect transcription of the sentence gives the opposite impression.
The flaws in Murphy’s work are often evident only when his original source material is examined. If Murphy can not accurately transcribe either the handwritten or typed documents he uses as evidence, then the claim that his book is a work of historical fact based around these documents is seriously questionable.
Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc is a Ph D student at the University of Limerick. He is the author of Blood On The Banner – The Republican Struggle in Clare and The Battle For Limerick City both published by Mercier Press, Cork. He administrates the website www.warofindependence.info
*The quotations from Gerard Murphy above, are taken from his unpublished response to The Sunday Tribune newspaper and appear courtesy of The Sunday Tribune.