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Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:25 pm
by michaelcarragher
Many of the criticisms of Gerard Murphy’s book indeed are valid, given that the author’s evidence is often inadequate to support his claims, his connections are frequently tenuous, his conclusions sometimes overstated.

But is this surprising, given his upfront admission (p. xi), that the book “is the best I could do with what I uncovered, and some conclusions may turn out to be incorrect when more evidence becomes available. It is at best a theory or, rather, a series of interrelated theories. These may be refuted by future scholars. If so, good luck to them”?

Despite the book’s scholarly shortcomings, therefore, it has served a valuable purpose in provoking discussion and raising awareness of this hitherto secret chapter of our past. That corrections and amendments already have been made shows that our understanding of that dark period has improved, thanks to Mr Murphy’s flawed work.

Concentrating on its flaws has allowed hostile critics to evade the substance of the book, which is that a politico-sectarian murder campaign was carried out by a cadre of paranoiacs and villains under cover of the Tan War and—especially—the Munster Republic, and against the professed principles of Irish republicanism. The book establishes a strong case that this did happen—for all that the details its author provides for individual cases often may be unconvincing and sometimes seem far-fetched.

I have not read all the reviews, but I don’t think I’m unfair in saying that at least some seem hostile toward the book less because of its author’s failure to adequately support his central thesis than because of his advancing such a thesis at all. To be blunt, an anti-revisionist agenda seems to be animating some critics.

Such studied hostility toward critical re-examination of our past does us Irish little credit. Robert Fisk, hardly a ranting champion of British imperialism, or enemy of Ireland, observes that in war there are “no good guys”; Gerard Murphy agrees: “War is a phenomenon from which very few protagonists emerge smelling of roses” (p. xii). So why do we Irish (some of us) feel a shrill need to insist that we are the exception; that all on “our side” were good guys? Is it an atavistic fear of our imperial masters that makes us deny that we possibly could have done anything “wrong”, anything “ignoble”, in our struggle against them for our freedom? Or are we just so deeply insecure (another post-colonial burden) that we feel a pathological need to be loved by the rest of the world, and therefore must portray ourselves, in all our “approved” accounts of history, as either fearless heroes or hapless victims of Perfidious Albion?

Why can’t we see what a blind man can see: that such an approach all too easily may expose us instead as liars or fools? Seumas Mac Manus, a precursor of today’s anti-revisionists, claimed (in The Story of the Irish Race): “Emmet’s failure in Dublin was a more permanent, more far-reaching success than Wellington's triumph at Waterloo”. Big tickle, Seumas! How loudly would you like the world to laugh? Similar howlers litter Roger Casement’s writing, for instance his lofty boast (in “The Romance of Irish History”): “no nation, no people, can reproach Ireland with having wronged them”. Tell that to Saint Patrick’s father and mother—or to Pat himself, or any other slave. Tell it to the Indians slaughtered by Phil Sheridan, Myles Keogh, and countless other Irishmen. Right-on Roger—way to go, man! Tell it like it is.

However some of us persist in denying the dark side of our past, the terrible fact is that through the various Troubles thousands of our people, Catholic as well as Protestant, were murdered by their fellow-Irish or fled for their lives. That many Protestants returned after the Civil War shows that their fears were not of republicans who took seriously their responsibilities to all the new state’s citizens, but of motley thugs and murderers who took advantage of their anarchic position.

We do not need Gerard Murphy’s book to know this: as Professor Brian Walker points out in The Irish Times (19 January 2011), the Catholic Bishop of Cork at the time pleaded publicly on behalf of “Protestants [who] have suffered severely during the period of civil war in the south”. Professor Walker cites further contemporary evidence of Protestant persecution, as of course does Gerard Murphy in his book. The census figures show that Protestant numbers declined. That evidence is lacking for the worst excesses Gerard Murphy seeks to expose has much to do with Die Hard suppression of Cork newspapers, as well as intimidation both then and in subsequent years. Evidence of many murders was literally buried. But absence of evidence is never evidence of absence.

That said, any claim must be backed by evidence if it is to be accepted by reasonable people, so more needs to be done here, as on other aspects of the revolutionary period. But thanks in part to Gerard Murphy’s flawed book, further investigation already is being carried out in the case of Cork.

Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:15 am
by anchorman
Michael, You seem to be suggesting that you have the conclusions and that the evidence will follow (though not now from Gerard Murphy). Did you see the letter in the Irish Times the day before Professor Walker's?

The Irish Times - Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Political killings in Cork

Madam, – Gerard Murphy objected to your reviewer considering his
The Year of Disappearances a “confusing muddle” (December 11th,
January 6th). His book alleges that republican forces in Cork city in
1921 targeted uninvolved Protestants. It is in the loose tradition of
the “Ulsterisation” of the Irish War of Independence, one in which
republican forces are portrayed as sectarian. It emerged from TCD’s
history department in the 1990s.

Many of Mr Murphy’s disappeared victims are unnamed. They have no
known prior existence. No relatives searched for them and no one cried
wolf. In Mr Murphy’s view this is because southern Protestants acted
like sheep.

In fact, southern Protestants spoke out. Ulster unionist
propaganda rationalised sectarian attacks on northern Catholics on the
basis that southern Protestants got it in the neck too. Representative
southern Protestants, including unionists, spoke plainly, publicly and
often to reject these allegations. Evidence is required to counter
this Protestant view. Phantoms will not do.

Mr Murphy speculates that Josephine O’Donoghue, wife of IRA head
of intelligence in Cork, Florence O’Donoghue, and a spy in her own
right, abducted (even drowned) Protestant teenagers in 1921. One such
speculative instance is sourced by Mr Murphy in the Times of London
(May 18th, 1921). A “mysterious individual in a motor car” reportedly
abducted “somebody’s child” near Cork city “on a calm Spring evening”.

I checked the reference. It is not an eyewitness report of the
alleged abduction, it is not by a regular Times reporter and the date
of the event was, as I later discovered, some weeks before May 18th
(therefore before Mr Murphy’s assumed time-line). The article contains
little concrete information and nothing as to the religion of the
unnamed child. It was within the second of a five-part Times series
entitled, “An English Officer’s Impressions”. Interestingly, the
anonymous officer later published the series as A Journey through
Ireland (1922, republished in 2008). For what it is worth, that book
expanded on the Times account. As Wilfrid Ewart (the author) passed an
agitated group he overheard a description of Mr Murphy’s “mysterious
individual” as “some bastard of an Englishman”.

Nothing links the event, as described by Mr Murphy, to Josephine
O’Donoghue. Other sectarian activities attributed to her are based on
similar or no evidence.

Your reviewer considered the strengths and weaknesses of The Year
of Disappearances fairly. – Yours, etc,


Should history proceed by means of research and interpretation based on evidence or through assertion of what we might like to believe?

Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:04 am
by michaelcarragher

I’m sorry if I gave the impression that I “have the conclusions” to this controversy. Rather, I am following the forum’s discussion with interest, but perhaps because I’m not greatly surprised by anything so far, that lack of surprise may have come across as the impression that you got.

I’m not surprised because though war is universally awful, we Irish often like to flatter ourselves that we are the exception to the human condition; that we never did anything awful in any of our wars; that all that was awful was done to us; and that anyone who says otherwise is wrong if not indeed a traitor, seanín, West Brit—more recently, “revisionist”.

I think that Gerard Murphy is often wrong, while suspecting that, despite this, his thesis cuts uncomfortably close to the Irish bone. As he says, war tends to bring out the worst in people, and speaking of revolution, Joseph Conrad says:

A violent revolution falls into the hands of narrow-minded fanatics and tyrannical hypocrites at first. Afterwards comes the turn of all the pretentious intellectual failures of the time…. The scrupulous and the just, the noble, humane, and devoted natures; the unselfish and the intelligent may begin a movement—but it passes away from them.

I also believe that we were spared the worst of what Conrad describes; that the most of our revolutionaries were well-intentioned and essentially decent men—and, of course, women. Yet, to quote someone else (possibly Kingsley Amis, speaking of Communism?), given the choice between self-evident truth and ideology, the ideologue will always go with ideology, and square the outcome by either denying what happened or justifying it. Hence the many euphemisms that go to cover such crimes: “mental reservation”; “ethnic cleansing”; “final solution”; sacrificing “the wine of human blood”. Though Pearse was of a “noble, humane and devoted nature”, his insouciant admission that “we may make mistakes at the start and kill the wrong people”, and his obvious acceptance that innocent lives are a fair price to pay for his vision, tells a lot. Imagine how acceptably expendable to the like of Dan Breen the martyred hero’s pronouncement must have rendered the life of a policeman?

Viktor Frankl claims that all groups contain “decent” and “indecent” human beings. He found “decent” concentration camp guards and “indecent” fellow-prisoners. Anyone who lived through the more recent Troubles knows that there were villains on both sides. Human nature doesn’t change, so we know that it was the same 90 years ago. Then our “heroes” gave us Altnaveigh; more recently Darkley, Enniskillen, Omagh. While accepting that Gerard Murphy has not proved his case, I believe it’s perfectly credible that equally terrible things were done in Cork and elsewhere; given human nature, it might rather be incredible if they weren’t. To hold this view is not to claim that “history [should] proceed by means of … assertion”.

While no longer surprised, I still can get annoyed by implication that all the villains were on the other side and none on ours. This is a simplistic version of history and I don’t like to be treated as a simpleton. Hence I welcome anything that challenges our complacent, pious view of ourselves as either hapless victims of universally unscrupulous villains or as universally flawless fearless heroes. Gerard Murphy’s book, for all its faults, so challenges us.

Our cult of victimhood is pernicious. It encourages self-pity and a sense of entitlement, and can justify resentment and hatred, thereby promoting division. It also confers a smug spurious moral authority on those who champion the “victims”, and casts opponents of these champions as supporters of the oppressors. Inevitably it fosters a slanted view of history that can verge on the absurd: because “we” were the victims, ergo, all our opponents were oppressors, so the carter who tried to recover his property from the barricade in Stephen’s Green on Easter Monday somehow deserves all he got for opposing his self-appointed liberators; while the grotesquery of the Citizen Army, ostensibly defenders of the working class, stealing the livelihood of a working man and then murdering him when he tries to reclaim it, is glossed over. Drawing attention to such obscenities provokes angry shouts of “revisionist!” from the “victim class”.

That unfortunate carter was a real victim, and far from being the only victim of “our” side. Gerard Murphy tries to discover others. He may have initiated a process that unearths some of them and improves our understanding of our past.

So to return to your questions: no, Tom, I do not know the conclusions, but I’m enjoying the discussion, and waiting for more evidence, from one side or the other or from both, to improve my understanding of our past. I’ve changed my mind before, and would do so again, if solid evidence or sound argumentation warranted a change. I do not “like to believe” that sectarian atrocities were carried out in my name but alas they were, as the evidence proves. I am not convinced that they happened in Cork but neither am I persuaded that they didn’t. The evidence proves an exodus of Protestants from there and I doubt if they were running from the Legion of Mary.

And yes, Tom, I did read Niall Meehan’s piece in the IT, and it’s fair comment (certainly much more so than his earlier review reproduced on this thread above). It’s also fair comment to point out that far more important than possible misidentification of a kidnap victim is the documentation of how decent republicans refused to identify Protestant homes to their superiors, and mounted guard on those homes against possible attack by rogue elements in their own ranks (Murphy, p. 195).

Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:37 pm
by thepremier
The notion that Protestants were being targeted by the IRA is not a new discovery by intrepid historians; it was a creation of Basil Clarke's propaganda team at Dublin Castle. Its purpose was 1) to depoliticise the war by making it an issue of inter-denominational feuding, casting the British forces in the light of honest brokers and 2) to justify and legitimise partition. Now, whether this was purely black propaganda (likely, since the key component of Castle propaganda was, according to Clarke, “verisimilitude”: that it appear as if it could be true) or there was a grain of truth cannot be determined unless universities cease insisting that students accept the Dublin Castle line. I submit David Miller's article on how this has influenced how certain influential historians have written the War of Independence.

In my university experience it was impossible, even unacceptable, to take an academic approach on these matters, because it was made clear that the Dublin Castle line was the correct one. By academic, I mean the kind of sceptical attitude to the claims of both sides that is necessary to study matters of intelligence and warfare. The lopsided and false perspective created by this kind of pressure exacerbates the problems caused by the patchiness and incompleteness of sources on both sides. As I have said before, the notion that universities possess scientific rigour and nationalists emotion is pure spin. I agree that republican sources on this war in particular haven't dwelt enough on the casualties they inflicted, but then the logical outcome of this kind of propaganda right now is to twist the narrative and force the nationalist perspective perpetually onto the defensive.

Gerard Murphy should really have asked a good historian to proofread his book. He would probably have been told that certain aspects of it, such as the issue of the missing Protestants post-Civil War, would make for a worthwhile article or two, but the rest of it needed to be ditched.

P.S.: a Dublin Castle production, Tales of the R.I.C., promoted standard propaganda fare such as the mutilating of bodies with axes at Kilmichael, that the Lord Mayors killed by the Auxiliaries were in fact killed by the IRA, etc. Although PR inventions these are still often taken as fact. However, I challenge students to find evidence of another of the book's delightful claims, that a Jewish Bolshevik cabal based in Glasgow was running the Irish labour movement. Maybe someone could write a shocking expose on that?

Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:05 pm
by michaelcarragher

In order to advance our understanding of the past, it is indeed essential to adopt “the kind of sceptical attitude to the claims of both sides that is necessary to study matters of intelligence and warfare”. I’m reading Coolacrease at present, and it’s clear from that book alone that “both sides” can be highly emotional in their engagement; and as I’ve remarked before, while emotion is always good for engagement with the study of history, it can get in the way of coming to reasoned conclusions.

Tales of the RIC is set mostly in Mayo but with fictionalised name places. This fact would not be evident to a non-Irish, even non-local, readership, and clearly was of value in a work of propaganda 90 years ago. One can work out the various places the fictional names represent, and it would be interesting if correlations can be found between events in the book and actual occurrences, and how fair the fictionalised accounts might have been (in a clearly propagandistic work, one suspects “not very”). Any idea who “Inspector Blake” is meant to be?

Some time ago I set out to find out more about this book (a far relation fought in the Tan and Civil Wars in Mayo), but haven’t followed through. As far as I recall, there is a Blackwoods archive in the National Library of Scotland that may contain some details.

Project for someone?

Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 3:48 pm
by Na Fianna Éireann
The 1911 census records the sixteen rooms of Ballyturin house as occupied by: John C Bagot, age 54, Landowner, his wife, Anna C Bagot, age 44. The Bagot's had a house staff of five: Norah Mc Mieghan, age 28, servant; Mary Cadwell, age 27, servant; Mary Anne Turney, age 22, servant; Patrick Connelly, age 27, groom and Patrick Smith, age 28, servant.

On the 15th May 1921, District Inspector Cecil Arthur Maurice Blake, his pregnant wife, Lilly, two army officers and Margaret Gregory, Lady Gregory's daughter-in-law, had been visiting the Bagots, where they enjoyed a tennis match, played on the lawns at Ballyturin House. When they left in the early evening, they stopped their car by the gate, to open it. Suddenly, someone shouted 'Hands up', shots were fired, and the car's windscreen was broken by bullets. The car was quickly surrounded by the IRA and the Blakes and both army officers were shot dead. Of the cars occupants, only Margaret Gregory escaped with her life.

The Bagots, on hearing the shooting ran down to the gate. John Bagot was held at gunpoint while the IRA members searched the bodies of the deceased. He was then handed a note which read:

'Volunteer HQ.
Sir, if there is any reprisals after this ambush, your house will be set on fire as a return.
By Order IRA.'

The IRA members then fled. Police soon arrived and described the scene as a gruesome massacre. The IRA had used shotguns and Lilly Blake's body contained the horrendous wounds from nine shells of lead pellet.

The viciousness of the Ballyturin ambush and the deliberate shooting dead of Mrs Blake was probably in revenge for the hardship dealt out by the Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries on the people of south Galway. However, it was said there was also an element of land grabbing - the Bagot’s had previously been pressurised to sell off their land.

The police ignored the IRA note and on the 16 May they attempted to round up the IRA members responsible for the ambush. Nine houses were destroyed or damaged in the vicinity of Ballyturin. A curfew was imposed and all businesses in the area were ordered to close.

John Christopher Bagot died on the 27th April 1935. His wife, Anna lived on until 17th January 1963. She died in London aged 96 and was buried at Gresford Church near Wrexham, North Wales.

Ballyturin House was abandoned and let fall into total ruin

Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 3:50 pm
by Na Fianna Éireann
The memoirs of John M. Regan, a Catholic officer in the RIC and RUC, 1909–48

The memoirs of John M. Regan, a Catholic officer in the RIC and RUC, 1909–48
Joost Augusteijn (ed.)
(Four Courts Press, e55)
ISBN 9781846820694
Editor Joost Augusteijn has made accessible a ‘warts-and-all’ memoir that provides a unique insight into the 1914–22 period in Irish history and into what it was like to be a Catholic serving in the RUC in the early years of the northern state. John M. Regan was born in Belfast in 1889, the son of an RIC inspector who rose through the ranks. In 1908 Regan junior joined the RIC as an officer cadet. Following time as a district inspector, third class, in counties Clare and Fermanagh, Regan volunteered for service in the British Army in World War I. He joined the Royal Irish Rifles in October 1915 with the rank of captain. (This was in sharp contrast to many fellow RIC officers who, when requested to make themselves available for military service in January 1916 by Inspector General Joseph Byrne, found all manner of excuses to avoid doing so.)
Judging by his actions, Regan was a physically brave and resolute man. When his service was completed, he rejoined the RIC in Cork in 1919. In April 1920 he was appointed staff officer to Brigadier General Cyril Prescott-Decies, RIC divisional commissioner, and was transferred to Limerick with the rank of district inspector. In September 1920 he was promoted to the rank of acting county inspector. His tenure in Limerick has given rise to serious questions about his attitude to disciplining his subordinates and to revenge killings, and this attitude is reflected in his writing.
On page 139, on the subject of avenging dead comrades, he writes:

‘It is a fact that those police quickest to avenge the death of a comrade were Irishmen and men of an excellent type. Black and Tans, having drink taken, might fire out of lorries indiscriminately, loot public houses, or terrorise a village but the Irishman would avenge his comrade when absolutely stone cold sober and on the right person. It required a great deal of courage to do so as if detected he ran a serious risk of being hanged.’

While Regan’s use of cover names limits the appeal of his memoirs, context can fill in some of the blanks. On page 162 he refers to a Black and Tan whom he names as ‘Wellarly’ and describes as ‘a public school type of fine physique and excellent manners’. Wellarly was a cover name for RIC constable Thomas Huckerby, who was originally stationed at Foynes. In August 1920 Huckerby accompanied a Constable Hall to see a doctor in the nearby village of Shanagolden. When they emerged from the doctor’s house they were held up by an IRA party, under Captain Timothy Madigan, who were hoping to relieve them of their weapons. When it emerged that Huckerby and Hall were unarmed, the IRA forced them to remove their uniforms and boots and they were allowed to return to Foynes in their bare feet and underclothes. The IRA burned the uniforms and boots in frustration at finding no weapons. That evening the RIC and Black and Tans returned to Shanagolden and exacted revenge for the indignities that had been heaped on Huckerby and Hall. The creamery, along with some shops and houses, was burned down. A number of men found playing cards in a house were driven some miles out of the village, stripped of their boots and clothing and forced to walk home in a manner similar to the policemen that morning. Additionally, a 60-year-old man, John Hynes, was fired on and killed. The shooting of John Hynes was blamed on Thomas Huckerby, who was immediately transferred to Abbeyfeale.
On Saturday 19 September 1920 the IRA set an ambush for the curfew patrol on the outskirts of Abbeyfeale. The purpose of the ambush was to shoot Thomas Huckerby. Two policemen, Constables O’Donoghue and O’Mahoney, were killed in the ambush; Huckerby, the target of the action, escaped because he had not been rostered for the patrol. On the following Monday evening Huckerby stalked two young men, named Healy and Hartnett, on their way home from work. He shot and killed both men on the outskirts of the town. Neither of them had any involvement with the IRA. Significantly, when the death certificates were issued by a military court of inquiry, the cause of death was put down as ‘Shot by revolver shots fired by T. D. Huckerby’ instead of the usual terms used to justify police shootings: ‘justifiable homicide’, ‘shot while trying to escape’, etc. It was obvious that the court of inquiry considered Huckerby to have murdered the young men. Regan’s reaction was to transfer Huckerby to Limerick City ‘in order that he would be under our eye’.
On Saturday 27 November two ex-British soldiers named Michael Blake and James O’Neill were stopped and shot dead while travelling from Dublin to Limerick. James O’Neill and Patrick Blake, Michael Blake’s brother, had earlier been found not guilty of the shooting of Constable Walter Oakley at a court martial in Dublin. They had been released following their trial but they were stopped and murdered at the Cross of Grange about six miles from Limerick City. Again, neither Blake nor O’Neill had any involvement with the IRA. They came from families that, between them, had contributed ten sons to the Munster Fusiliers. Both men had ‘recognised the court’ and they had stayed apart from IRA prisoners while on remand. From the evidence at the court of inquiry, much of it given by British soldiers, it emerged that a group of about eight masked men had carried out the killings. The leader of the party was a very tall man who spoke with a distinctly English accent. While there is no definite evidence to tie Huckerby to the shootings at the Cross of Grange, it is surely significant that it was on the Thursday following these shootings that Regan saw fit to transfer Huckerby to Limerick City. Regan does not refer to these shootings in his memoirs but he was the RIC county inspector for Limerick at the time. He refers to Huckerby, or ‘Wellarly’ as he calls him, as ‘undoubtedly the most extraordinary man I had met’, very laudatory terms for describing a man who was in reality a cold-blooded killer. (Constable Thomas Huckerby resigned from the RIC on 26 December 1920 because disciplinary charges were pending against him. The record does not state the nature of these charges.)
On page 159 Regan refers to shootings at a dance at Caherguillamore House, near Bruff, where one Black and Tan and five IRA men were killed. This dance, which was run by the IRA to raise funds, was held on St Stephen’s night, 26 December 1920. The raid was organised by the RIC under County Inspector Regan. Here again serious questions arise about Regan’s attitude to discipline and a policy of ‘shoot to kill’ by subordinates. In relation to IRA sentries he says, ‘meanwhile the armed sentries outside had been shot at sight’. He refers to one of the IRA men who

‘. . . saved the situation for me. With what I thought was brazen effrontery he demanded to know our authority for being there. This was the last straw, with one of my men shot dead. He was hit and there was a rough house for some time, several of the IRA being injured.’

His last observation is an understatement. In an interview given in February 1994 Major Ged O’Dwyer stated that every male attendee at the dance was beaten up. Ged O’Dwyer and his brother Nicholas were among the very few IRA members to escape from Caherguillamore House. Some were so severely beaten that they never recovered their health. This was in addition to the five IRA men who were killed. Four members of the IRA, including three sentries, had been killed before one of them, Ned Moloney, shot dead Constable Alfred Hogsden. Moloney was immediately shot dead by Hogsden’s comrades. Yet in his memoirs Regan used the shooting of Hogsden as a pretext for all the killings and assaults at Caherguillamore.
Regan’s attitude to discipline and killings by his subordinates was in sharp contrast to that of the then British Army commander in Limerick, Brigadier R. P. Cameron. In the case of the shooting dead of a school attendance officer, Richard Leonard, at Ballybrood in December 1920, the three officers involved were placed under arrest when Cameron heard of the circumstances surrounding the shooting. Although the three officers involved were eventually exonerated by a military court of inquiry, Cameron indicated by his actions that he was not prepared to tolerate or condone the involvement of his subordinates in random or retaliatory killings. It is doubtful whether the same could be said for Captain John Morton Regan.

Tom Toomey is currently researching a history of Limerick in the War of Independence, 1912–21.

Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 3:52 pm
by Na Fianna Éireann
interesting site for chronology of events


Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:38 pm
by thepremier
Michael, Robert Emery wrote an article about it in a periodical called Notes and Queries. The recently-published memoirs of Dublin Castle civil servant AP Magill identified the author as Aubrey Waithman Long. He was a British army officer who was mentioned in despatches during world war I and worked in the Belfast prison service from 1922. What he did in between is somewhat of a mystery, although his obituary notes that he was ex-RIC. I think as Magill knew of his authorship it's a fair guess that he worked at Dublin Castle, most probably for Basil Clarke's propaganda team.

Blake is probably based on Long himself. I would guess he had some service with the Auxiliaries before being employed at Dublin Castle. Emery speculates that the mention of the RIC in his obituary is wrong because it refers to Belfast, but I think only the Belfast part is mistaken. Tales of the R.I.C. is Ireland viewed through the eyes of an Auxie, but spun according to propaganda necessity. While Long, unlike Blake, was not Irish, he did have Irish connections and holidayed here before WWI. It also makes for a better story to have the hero be an Irishman righteously angry at the state the Shinners have brought the country to than an Englishman.

While the events are fictionalised, they are clearly intended to be read as the "real story" as told by the guys on the ground who know it (but might be punished by their superiors if they were to speak out openly), unlike the weasly politicians who make concessions. This is why I have no qualms in saying that it was absolutely intended that readers believe in the existence of a Jewish/Bolshevik cabal controlling the labour movement - a very common propaganda theme at that particular time - and so on. Many of the ideas put out by Tales of the R.I.C. have lingered, such as the notion that the mayors of Limerick were actually shot by the IRA, and of course the Kilmichael story.

Re: Historical Revisionism and the Irish War of Independence.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:04 pm
by michaelcarragher
Excellent work, Premier!

Can you say which issue of Notes and Queries? (I’ve located Magill.)

Your speculations also make sense. It had struck me too how the age-old prejudice against Jews recently had been reinforced by the role played by Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev and other Jews in the Bolshevik revolution, and the threat Bolshevism was presenting on British—and indeed Irish—soil at the time.

Many thanks.

PS: Just located the article in Notes and Queries.