1 November 1962 – 31 March 1964
Main Themes: Work at Craig in Scotland on “The Irish Question and the British People”, a reply to Barritt and Carter’s apologia for Unionism – Sean Caughey’s civil liberties group – The Wolfe Tone bicentenary – Physically assaulted by a psychiatric case – Scottish and Welsh holidays – Gerry Fitt MP at London meeting – Death of aunt, Mary Greaves – Research for Liam Mellows biography – Interviewing Bulmer Hobson – Northern Nationalist MPs at the House of Commons – Connolly Association campaign on discrimination in Northern Ireland with the National Council for Civil Liberties and Movement for Colonial Freedom – Call for an enquiry into the working of the Government of Ireland Act 1920
November 1 Thursday (Belfast): I arrived here this morning from Liverpool after spending the Tuesday night with PAG [his sister Phyllis] in that city, and the Wednesday afternoon with Joe Deighan in Manchester [leading member of the Connolly Association branch in that city]. My object, to secure material for a short book refuting Barritt and Carter, is very much to his liking as indeed is the entire recent turn of events which has brought our friends in Belfast so closely into alignment with us [Denis Barritt and Charles Carter, “The Northern Ireland Problem: a Study in Group Relations”, 1962, analysed the Northern situation without emphasising British Government responsibility, as if the two communities were equally to blame]. I had a drink with Jack Bennett at lunchtime [Greaves’s friend in Belfast, son of a senior RUC officer, now a journalist on the “Belfast Telegraph” and writer of the influential “Claud Gordon” column in the Dublin-based “Sunday Press”, which circulated widely in the Northern Nationalist community in the 1960s], and a discussion with Betty Sinclair and Billy McCullough in the afternoon. I also saw Hughie Moore [CPNI official] who is off to Bulgaria tomorrow with Jim Graham (All three of these approved of my synopsis and promised to help to the best of their abilities)[These would be the principal “friends in Belfast” referred to above. Sinclair, McCullough and Graham were prominent Belfast trades unionists and Northern Ireland CP members, of Protestant background, who had previously opposed Greaves’s and the Connolly Association’s efforts to discredit the Northern Ireland Government in Britain as being too “nationalistic” a policy].
November 2 Friday (Belfast): We had a long discussion in the Trades Council office on the subject of the Northern Ireland balance of payments. “See where the dog is buried” said R.Palme Dutt [leading theoretician of the Communist Party of Great Britain] to me some years ago, but so far we have not tracked it down. The Nationalists, says Betty, say the Six Counties are subsidised. The Unionists say they are not. What are the facts? Nobody seems certain of them. Our examination of the finance account did not seem to make clear the origin or destination of the agricultural subsidies that Joe Johnston swears amount to £30 million and which he’d like either to get his hands on or do away with altogether in the interest of agriculture in the South [Joe Johnston, economist and Trinity College senator, father of Dr Roy Johnston]. The Isles report – written admittedly before subsidies reached their present level – casts no light on the darkness.
November 3 Saturday (Belfast): I saw Art McMillan and his brother [The brother was Liam MacMillan, leading Belfast republican, later assassinated in the 1970s. Art Macmillan regularly corresponded with Greaves at this time regarding discrimination issues in the North]. Both of them approve of my project and agree with the synopsis, though of course they do not bring to it the critical capacities of Billy and Betty [Billy McCullough and Betty Sinclair, the former being chairman of Belfast Trades Council and the latter its full-time paid secretary, as well as being leading CPNI members]. They were pleased with the meeting with Lipton, [Marcus Lipton, MP for Brixton] and seem prepared to consider a broader policy, but very much in the toils of their “principles”, which people often adhere to more rigidly the less practical effect they have had. They get the Democrat[The Connolly Association’s monthly paper, the Irish Democrat, which Greaves edited] regularly and seem to like it.
November 4 Sunday (Belfast): I went up to the Falls again to see if I could find Sean Morrissey [Belfast trade unionist and CPNI member, of Catholic nationalist background] but he was at work. His son, young Michael, has gone to the YCL conference in London [at which discrimination in Northern Ireland had been discussed.] When I returned Anna Bennet was unwell [Mrs Jack Bennett, with whom and whose husband Greaves stayed when he visited Belfast.]
November 5 Monday (Belfast): There was no banging of fireworks here – that was a Hallow E’en last Wednesday – so the loyal North has no indignation against Guido Fawkes! For the rest, there were further long talks with Billy and Betty, and I also visited Blease [ie. William Blease, Secretary of the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and leading member of the Northern Ireland Labour Party; of Protestant background; later Lord Blease). He was off to his secretary’s wedding. Tomorrow.
November 6 Tuesday (Belfast): I had a long talk with Blease, only interrupted by the arrival of the Rev. Meghahy, a cheery Presbyterian I think who says he is no relative to the man who designed the “Plough and Stars”. Blease declared defiantly that he considered Irish Nationalism as dead as the dodo now that “all the barriers between countries were falling down” and, I take it, Imperialism is no more. He was anxious to make his position clear. I refused to argue and said that what one person called patriotism another called nationalism, and what one called capitalism another called imperialism. These provocations, not of course without a sort of basis, seemed to persuade him I could be done business with! So we parted on good terms. His son is at TCD and a nuclear disarmer. The Belfast CND went to Derry on Sunday (or Saturday) to protest at “American bases on British soil”. I asked McCullough why they called it “British” soil. “Sure they don’t THINK” said he, and we are to wonder at the brains of people who even forget the name of their own country. However, I FRIGHTENED Blease – couldn’t resist this little divilment. I told him I had been assured by people who knew what the British Government was playing at, that Westminster would not do anything to help Northern Ireland, as they regarded it as expendable and a tree to be shaken till the cherries dropped over the wall into Lemass’s garden [Sean Lemass, then Irish Taoiseach]. “D’you mean they’ve got it in mind to force us into some kind of Federation?” he asked. “Something like that,” I said. A shadow of concern crossed his face. He is, as Betty says, afraid of the Protestant workers.
I went up to Stormont to see Cahir Healy [leading Nationalist MP in the Stormont Parliament] but could do no more than shake hands as he was going to a meeting. I saw McGill and O’Hare there [Northern Ireland Nationalist MPs]. When I got to Lisburn I found that Anna had had a miscarriage and the wee girl Helen was coping marvellously.
November 7 Wednesday (Belfast): I cycled to Portadown, took the train to Dungannon and after an unsuccessful attempt to see Mallon of the Mid-Ulster Observer, I cycled out to Lisnastrane to meet Mary O’Donnell. She is to be married in two weeks time and I had the impression the two old people will be sorry to lose her, since Jim is in jail and the youngest brother also is left [The Connolly Association had championed Jim O’Donnell on his arrest for Republican activity]. I think he lives there with his wife. I would scarcely imagine old O’Donnell, a shrewd old peasant and a good republican, was able to work the farm on his own. Indeed it was that difficulty that brought Jim back from Manchester in 1956. I called on Pat Corry at Roughan on the way back to Dungannon and reached Lisburn again quite late.
November 8 Thursday (Belfast): I called in to Caughey, whom I saw earlier in the week [Sean Caughey, Northern nationalist with Sinn Fein connections who had set up a Civil Liberties Council]. He seems to have taken on a new lease of life and talks of running a campaign for the lodger vote which would win the Protestant Trade Unionists as well as the Nationalists. But he has some curious notions of organisation. He wants a “National Liberation Council” to operate in secret, and direct work in a series of organisations. I suggested that the Council for Civil Liberties Executive should meet and if agreeable the Council should call a conference on the franchise, after which a representative Council could be established instead of a secret one – I doubt if I convinced him. A letter from Sean Redmond [Connolly Association General Secretary in London] told me that Cal 0’Herlihy [former Connolly Association activist] has an appointment as lecturer in economics in Queens University, starting in February. I told Betty about this [Trades Council secretary Betty Sinclair].
November 9 Friday (Belfast): I spent most of the day in Donegall Road Library where newspaper files are kept, but had a drink with Betty Sinclair as a valedictory gesture since I leave Belfast tomorrow. In the evening I called up to James Steele, the Republican leader [Jimmy Steel, veteran IRA activist]. He struck me as very kindly but very rigid. He wanted no aid from Nationalist MPs in releasing the prisoners; they would only make capital out of it later. He thought Fitt was the only one who had not blotted his copybook [Gerry Fitt, at this time an independent MP for Dock Ward in the Northern Ireland Parliament; from 1966 MP for West Belfast at Westminster]. I thought, but refrained from saying, that there is still plenty of time. Fitt is inclined to fritter away too much time drinking, and this means he can give serious thought to nothing.
November 10 Saturday: The morning I spent packing, sending two parcels away, one to Inveralligan, the other to London. Later I found I had not my cheque book. Either it is lost, or mistakenly enclosed in one of these parcels. So I wrote to the bank to stop all cheques – a damn nuisance. In the afternoon I read back numbers in the Telegraph building and had occasion to note what Jack Bennett always says, that since Thompson took over the paper its size had been cut from about 18 pages to 10, and these are all adverts, or very near it. Yet it still wins design awards. I left Belfast on the Glasgow boat in the evening, and treated myself to a bottle of hock, since I shall be away from the amenities of civilisation for a matter of a month, all being well bringing the MS of the “wee book” back with me [the reply to Barritt and Carter’s work, see above, which was published in pamphlet form as “The Irish Question and the British People”,1963, and later incorporated into Greaves’s book, “The Irish Crisis”,1972 which was translated into Italian, German, Russian and Hungarian].
November 11 Sunday (Glasgow-Ardgarten): Cycling from Glasgow to Arrochar I was surprised to see all the solders, airmen, boys’ brigade troops and others thronging the approaches to the churches. Scotland seemed very devout. Then I recalled it was “Armistice Day”. I think it was 11 November 1918 when all the hooters and sirens on the Mersey made a racket like two New Year’s Eves, and we all ran into the street, and learned that the war was over. I was of course too young to know the date. Mrs Brown, our landlady, who lived next door but one in Rockville St. (No 5) [Rock Ferry, Birkenhead] was delighted, but no more did we have her weekly visits when she collected her rent and told us she would “put a hum” on the Germans. Since then “hums” have become somewhat longer.
It was pleasant to come down the Clyde coast on a road deserted of traffic. But after Balloch the motor cars began to pour out. I crossed to Helensburgh but met them again – the day being dry and only lightly overcast with a Northeast wind. Seemingly there has been no frost here, since the Tropaeolums are fresh and green and bright in the gardens. The leaves have not been blown off the oaks and there is still much of the splendour of early autumn. I reached the Youth Hostel at 5 pm. but had to endure four hours listening, or to be more precise trying not to listen, to a folk-song enthusiast who had equipped himself with banjo, gramophone and radio and was thus able to present a marathon session.
November 12 Monday (Carnach): This morning the folk song merchant, who like Harriet Henderson before him, is something to do with Edinburgh University, was in a fine pickle when his hired car refused to start. I was well on the way to Crian Larich before they – he and his wife who never uttered a word, and indeed can’t get one in even as tympani – passed me with loud toots. It was extremely cold – quite a change from yesterday, with a dusting of snow about 2000 feet and a few dry drifts about 3000. The scenery was sombre without being grim – that will come. I reached Glencoe at 4.45, which was good, and had hardly been there ten minutes when an ambulance drew up, and out limped a red-haired girl of about 21 who had broken her ankle six weeks ago and had just had the plaster taken off. Her brother is in the local Mountain Rescue team, and apart from saving up to go to Norway (she was working in a hotel in Oban to accomplish this), she practices “spirit travel” each night if she is not too tired. She explained that the object is to disembody the spirit from the body, and so make a tour of the world that doesn’t cost anything. I asked her if she had ever managed to get very far on this basis, and she told me frankly that so far she had never even got out of her bedroom. So in this age of wonders, here is one we shall be deprived of. Travel is obviously an obsession with the young people of today, and they will gleefully wash up plates if they can then hitch-hike to some new address. In other words no kind of employment within their reach could do more than bore them.
A young man, about 28 or 30, incredibly fat from car-driving and television watching, was cooking big steaks through and through. He had the Glasgow Herald and disputed with the warden whether the SPGB [Socialist Party of Great Britain] was Colin Jordan’s party [British neo-Nazi figure]. The warden said it wasn’t and that Jordan had got nine months and lost his job. The fat man still felt it was much the same. The warden said the Socialist Party was the Labour Party. But there were the two opposed in a bye-election in Glasgow. “I think it’s time we went up to see Jimmy,” said the warden, and soon after 10 pm they drove back, and walked slightly stiffly across the room, showing that “Jimmy” had done his work.
November 13 Tuesday (Fort Augustus): Quite early the warden, dressed in a business-like blue “anorak”, drove off with the stout young man, pronouncing his gratification with the fine day that was in it. I had observed a “window in the pass” and had doubts which were quickly and superabundantly justified. After finding the Bellachulish ferry closed I resigned myself to the big drag through Kinlochleven, and before I reached that curious little aluminium town, which the sun shines on only for a quarter of the year, and the smell of tar from electrode baking hangs in the damp air, it was raining quietly but determinedly. A truck driver gave me a lift to Fort William where I had lunch. I pushed on, through intermittent rain, but decided to stop at Fort Augustus at “Richmond House” where I had dinner, a light supper, bed and breakfast for £l – very cheap. The snag was that there were only two blankets on the bed, but here my weighty but serviceable down sleeping bag was brought into use. There were two young lorry drivers and a bushy bearded man of about 40. The drivers went drinking, but the bearded man stayed, and revealed himself to be a worker on the Scottish 6-inch Ordnance re-survey. This, he told me, was begun around 1955. The triangulation was completed three years ago, and now aerial photography is well advanced. Main features are indicated from this, but afterwards there is a check for accuracy of detail which entails one man “walking a sheet” – a procedure which takes a month. This year the summer was so bad that only about 3 days could be “flown” – at 14,000 feet – but the fine weather in October was pressed into service.
The bearded man was very indignant at Beechings’ proposal [In an official report] to close all the railways in Scotland north of Perth, save the Aberdeen Elgin line. He considered it would prove a “deathblow to the Highlands”, which had already had a bad season. He attributed this to overcharging which had forced motorists to bring tents and caravans, of which he saw more this year than ever before. But I doubt his reason. The reason is that more people had them. Railway closures however will definitely force people on to the roads and encourage caravan rather than hotel holidays. He himself expects to suffer from the changes, since he lives near Dumfries where he has bought a shop and hopes shortly to retire from the survey and devote himself to his business. During six years in the Highlands he has noted changes. “You can even buy a gallon of petrol on a Sunday on the West coast,” he said. He works a seven-day week and gets “holidays in lieu” of weekends. He can thus devote each December, January and February to building up his business in the South. He blamed nationalisation for the railway closures, and hoped the doomed lines would be offered to private enterprise instead of being torn up. I told him about Marples [Conservative Government Transport Minister] and a new light dawned. He was a sceptical and well-informed man who believed that food today did not taste as good as food in the olden days. I told him the reason for that too. About 10 pm. the lorry drivers returned, also indicating the remarkable recuperative effect of keeping company with “Jimmy”, and I retired.
November 14 Wednesday (Inverinate): The lorry drivers drove off, and a “land-rover” driven by a man with an even bushier beard than himself, but of the same build and type, collected the survey man. Seemingly the profession demands some physical stamina. It may entail sleeping in tents for several months and climbing to considerable heights. This time the triangulation points had beacons erected on them, and the determinations were made at night. The only change the bearded man regrets is the failure to include the old levels from the 1856 (or thereabout) survey. They have been omitted because they are referred to the old Liverpool level, but there is an easily computed correction. “Often a farmer requires a height” and the difference to him is too little to mean anything. One interesting thing he told me was that every secluded stretch has a ruined village in it. No attempt is being made to recover the name, even if it is known. Instead the map marks “ruins”. The villages are found by the surviving green patches, and a few minutes excavation with a pick generally reveals the remains of the houses. “In one of the strathes there were said to be 20,000 people at the time of the clearances,” he said. “I wonder what the Highlands would have been like if they’d never taken place?”
The day was much colder, but dry and sunny till I was well up Glenmoriston. Then the hail began, intermittently, but sufficiently to cover the road for several miles after Cluanie bridge. All the hotels and boarding houses were closed, but finally I was directed to some forestry houses in or near Inverinate and found accommodation with a Yorkshireman and his Scottish wife, where two workmen with a huge lorry were staying. The comfort and modernity of this wooden house contrasts remarkably with the mediaeval appearance and simplicity of some of the stone cottages which survive here. On the whole Scotland is not kind to tourists. There is never a thought of serving a customer on early closing day, and several people told me they hadn’t the faintest notion where I would get accommodation till I tracked this down. Why this should be so in the Highlands especially I do not understand. Possibly it comes from the “proprietors”, as the landlords are called. The lorry driver who gave me the lift yesterday was from East Sutherland and spoke of the dourness. “Some of the proprietors would be glad if the same thing happened again,” he said, apropos of the proposed flooding of Glen Nevis. “They don’t want any industry in the Highlands,” he said. Possibly this suspicion of change, reinforced with memories dating from the clearances, give this character of inhospitality to people whose almost Irish accents would lead you to expect exactly the reverse.
November 15 Thursday (Dingwall): There were adventures today. I woke to find snow on the ground and a few hundred yards west of the forestry houses, the schoolchildren warned me that the roads were slippery. They were, and after the bicycle had fallen over I decided to walk up and down Inverinate Hill to Dornie. Thence I could ride to Ballymacara, but there was ice again on the hill before Kyle. About two miles from Kyle a sharp hissing noise indicated a blow off in the back tyre. I was fortunately near Kyle, but it was early closing day, and to make matters worse snowing and cold. I rang Sean [ie. CA General Secretary Sean Redmond in London] up and asked him to send up the books, and then caught the 5.3O to Achnasheen – after being assured by the Guard that the hotel was open. I ran along the platform to enquire and was told the hotel was closed but there was one open a mile away. The snow was two inches deep and still falling. “It’s a wee bit cold for the shorts,” commented one of the porters, and I agreed – the train had waited and I went on to Dingwall. A post office young man lifted the bicycle across the line and I was advised by one of the local people to try the Caledonian Hotel. It was full but the proprietress directed me to a Mrs Robertson along the second turning. This seemed something of a derelict area, obviously she had not counted the turnings or I didn’t know which turnings counted. It was now freezing hard, with Jupiter one side of the sky and a gibbous moon the other. I turned back towards a more expensive hotel when I saw the lad who had lifted my bicycle standing talking. I asked his companion’s advice. He directed me to his own house, where I was most comfortable.
There was a young baker lodged there, aged about 20, who scarcely spoke but watched ITV. Thain himself preferred the BBC. It seems the house had been his wife’s mother’s and she did a great bed-and-breakfast business, partly because she enjoyed visitors. The old woman died – the baker was her lodger – and during her illness the baker was so helpful that there would be no thought of turning him out. He sat at home every evening. The first week he came he had spent all his money by Tuesday on beer and “Bingo”. His landlady gave him some cigarettes and a lecture after which he has not stirred. Mrs. Thain “hates drink” but her husband, who last week won £30 at Bingo, occasionally takes a wee drop. He works in the Post Office as a clerk, comes from Caithness, and in common with all northerners speaks a very clear English – the baker from Banff I found harder to understand. He is opposed to the railway closures but owns a car. Seemingly the railways are for bad weather. He is against corporal punishment, whereas the baker is a “life for a life”. Likewise he is no slave to television and complains that it destroys conversation.
November 16 Friday (Inveralligin): I set out early, found the solitary cycle shop Thain had told me about and found the proprietor instantly willing to help. He proved an excellent mechanic with every conceivable tool available. His business is old established and handed down from his father. He sells no bicycles, only repairs them. For ten shillings he found a used tyre, filled it, mended the tube, adjusted the brakes and re-arranged the saddlebag. The trouble had been caused by a brake fouling the tyre and wearing it through. Snow was still falling but it was milder. I took the train – easy an hour late – to Achnasheen. Alec MacLennon no longer brings his bus past Kinlochlevin, so I took the Gairloch bus. Last time I was in it would be February l961, I think, when the weather was like June. Now it was like January. The snow was not however very deep, and when finally I reached Inveralligin there was none below about 500 feet. There I saw Kenneth MacDonald and stayed in the hostel. I noted that milk in bottles now comes from Dingwall. Even more remarkable is the delivery of milk from Inverness to Kyle. And on the train the churns make the opposite arc of the circuit. The absurdities of capitalism. Here in Alligin however there are one or two cows still, but the journey to collect milk grows longer every year.
November 17 Saturday (Inveralligin): Today snow showers began, and gradually the snow line crept down the mountains. By evening there was a dusting of snow on the grass outside the house. I had intended to go to Craig but decided to wait and see how the weather developed. Heavy falling snow was forecast – the earliest, I am told, for 18 years. I wrote a good part of the first chapter in the evening, after sending off a parcel of books and papers by bus to Dingwall, whence I would take them to Craig. According to Alec McKenzie who drives the bus, there should be very little snow near Craig, where it never lies long owing to facing such a large expanse of sea. It is to be hoped he is right.
November 18 Sunday (Inveralligin): I awoke to find several inches of snow everywhere. It was hard enough going 100 yards to the coal heap, let alone make the journey along the dangerous cliff path to Craig. I managed however to complete Chapters I and II, so some value came from this arctic incarceration. What I shall do tomorrow is wrapped in uncertainty.
November 19 Monday (Inveralligin): More snow fell during the night but in showers which seemed to die out during the day; by 3 pm. the slight thaw discernible in the morning was in full sway and Mrs MacDonald, next to a house with a windvane, announced a South wind. The roofs of inhabited buildings lost their snow in the morning. Then it seemed that the sandstone divested itself next. I compared it with other things and came to the conclusion that it must conduct heat stored in the rock during the summer. Down by the shore the sight was very beautiful, though with the kind of beauty one pronounces a little uncomfortable, like a picture of Greenland. The sea was a curious kind of pale duck-egg blue, which Phyllis would have been interested in. The mountains were covered with snow. Ben Alligin looking like a sugar loaf and the hills across Loch Torridon showing their glaciations fit for a school textbook. As the thaw proceeded a yellow tinge began to enter the scene, from the reds and low greens that had lost their snow cap. But the snow still fell from time to time, and the south wind did not puff very determinedly. I arranged, through Mrs MacDonald, to go to Diabaig for a couple of days to the house of a Gaelic speaker, Mrs MacKenzie, who takes visitors.
November 20 Tuesday (Diabaig): The thaw accelerated rapidly, and the south wind managed to blow a few spots of half-hearted rain on the melted snow. But I feared the cold was not going to be long returning without a good downpour. The scene, meanwhile, moved from yellow to brown; the sandstone everywhere jutted out of the snow, and the paths were either clear or slushy. I recall that it is recorded that in the famous winter of 1881, something like 20 or 30 Fahrenheit degrees of frost were recorded in November 1880. So it is not that bad.
When Alec MacLennon appeared with his landrover I went with him to Diabaig. The bicycle has contracted gear trouble now – I suspect a spoke bending the bracket. Differential gears are the only thing when you transport a bicycle from place to place. The road is tarred practically all the way now. But MacLennon only goes to Kinlochlevin. He proposes to give up his own bus and take the job of driver on the same route for the Northwestern Hotel company which does the Gairloch route. The trade is constantly dropping, he tells me. “Will it pay them?” “Well, you see, being a local man I am expected to carry people’s parcels and I can’t charge much for them. They would charge – and the people would take it better coming from them”. He was in Enniskillen during the war for a few days; he speaks fluent Gaelic but found it difficult to understand Irish Gaelic, though he could interchange common ideas well enough. The snow was very much clearer than yesterday, he said, and tomorrow he will even venture to take the bus. I was taken down to Mrs MacKenzie, No. 2, the Shore, and found it comfortable enough.
November 21 Wednesday (Diabaig): I took over two rucksacks full of books and papers to Craig. It had rained heavily during the night, and the brown was now several hundred feet up the hills. The pallor had gone from the sea. There was brilliant sunshine all day, and it was strange when one’s feet were squelching in slush that seemed determined to pull the boots off you, and every now and then you’d have to stamp to keep the circulation going, to feel almost burnt alive and ready to sweat! The path was awkward but not dangerous, and I got there in about 3 hours, returning in 1 hour and 20 minutes. The hostel was not in a good state. Bridget Gordon must have left in a hurry. The mice had been busy. Clothes were scattered about. But the essentials were there.
Before going over this morning I saw two men take the oars of a dinghy and sail across the harbour and back. They were away about an hour at most. Later I saw them unloading at the jetty. They had caught so many herrings that they didn’t know what to do with them, as there were no buyers here today. However, they trusted that the fish would keep fresh owing to the cold weather. And indeed there is every prospect of this being so, as it is freezing hard tonight, and the red round the horizon at sunset can surely mean frost and nothing else. The sky is completely clear. I spoke on the phone to Phyllis who says that Liverpool has been deluged with snow, and the scene is as wintery as in a bad January. Sean Redmond told me on the phone that in London it is blustery and hailstony. They had 25 out on their demonstration on Sunday in spite of this, which is good. Caughey has written Joe Deighan saying a prisoners’ release committee is started [in Northern Ireland].
November 22 Thursday (Craig): Before I left Mrs McKenzie got me six of yesterday’s herrings from the pier. My ignorance of herring fishing was revealed to me when I was told it is the custom to spread the nets at night and pull them in next morning. This was what I had seen done so quickly. Mrs McKenzie told me that she is shortly “going to England for a holiday”. Her destination proved to be Manchester, where her sons live, one working as an electrician, the other aged 16 1/2 as a sheet-metal worker. There was no work for them here, she remarked. Very like Ireland.
There was still snow, though much of the ground was clear. But I got to Craig all right and got busy on this wretched second chapter (the former third).
November 23 Friday (Craig): It was fine enough in the morning to enable me to get well from the shore, but at about midday it began to tumble with rain, with a Southeast wind. It went on all day. As there is no paraffin here I am reduced to candles.
November 24 Saturday (Craig): I went to Diabaig to pick up mutton and paraffin and got two eggs, a rarity just now. The snow has disappeared except for the finest little traces in exceptionally sheltered nooks. The snow line indeed has risen to between 1500 and 2000 feet, and the horizon which was formerly white now appears black. But a cold blustery Northeast wind in the evening made me fear a possible return of cold weather.
November 25 Sunday (Craig): I spent the morning gathering wood and bringing coal. The weather was milder again, though not exceptionally so. The snow is now disappearing from quite high summits. The Cailins of Skye now appear black and jagged on the distant horizon. I set to work later in the day on the chapter that is holding me up and completed it.
November 26 Monday (Craig): There were no events naturally enough. The weather grew milder still with a Southeast wind, and a bloodshot sky at night which I didn’t know what to make of. I finished the chapter on discrimination.
November 27 Tuesday (Craig): Another fine mild day with occasional “warm sector” drizzle. I never saw this mild quiet damp weather up here before – it was always a howling wind and intermittent showers from the Northwest. I had thought of going to Redpoint for provisions but left it rather late and abandoned the idea. Instead I finished the fifth chapter – half way through.
November 28 Wednesday (Craig): Again I left it too late to go to Redpoint. About 11.30 – I have set my watch by what seems to be the sun, and await finding out how far I am wrong – I imagined somebody passed the window. It is, I suppose, natural that the light should be cut off momentarily. I thought it unlikely but decided to look out. Sure enough there was an old man, presumably a shepherd, plodding past the larchwood native garden seat that Bridget has got one of her admirers to make, and away across towards the sea. I slipped on a jersey and went to the door. There he was, moving with steady slow measured steps, smoking his pipe. He did not look round, seemingly completely unconcerned with human habitation. Without apparent effort he mounted the highest spot among the tumbled rocks opposite the door, seemed scarcely to glance around him and went out of view on the other side. I went down to the shore later, and was also at the bridge over the river, but saw no sign of him again. I imagine he went back to Diabaig by the path from the shore to the junction by the very boggy part of the Craig path. Distinguishing sheep in all this wilderness of routes retournées must demand no mean skill. However there are about a dozen here, for I chased them away yesterday and shut the gate. They were along the pathway outside knee deep in their droppings!
November 29 Thursday (Craig): I went to Diabaig and enjoyed the walk. Though it was cooler than yesterday, with a WNW wind, there were no sizeable showers and I found the day exhilarating, with just enough wind to liven things up. Ben Alligin, which was a completely snowy dome a week ago, has only a few stray drifts left. The hills on the south side of Lock Torridon have no snow at all, as far as I could see them. At Diabaig down by the loch the trees still bear their bright autumn leaves. But only for twenty or thirty feet up. Mrs MacLennon provided me with salt herrings, milk and potatoes, and I met a woman whose son or husband had been with the old shepherd yesterday. I had been wondering where the man had got to. This evening there was the minutest ever crescent, a more cheery object than Jupiter to preside in the evening sky. It grew cloudy later on, and I was sorry because I thought I spotted a light in the northern sky and would have liked to see a good aurora again. I completed Chapter Vll.
November 30 Friday (Craig): It was much colder today with an ESE wind that brought sunshine – very mild and pleasant below on the shore. The moon attained a rather more imposing thickness, before settling soon after dusk. The night was clear. I looked for Fomalhaut but apparently it doesn’t rise high enough to be seen. This kind of night in the south betokens a dry spell. But here?
December 1 Saturday (Craig): It was indeed dry today and slightly milder with the wind a point south from yesterday. I went to Diabaig to collect provisions which should have been waiting me at Alec MacLennon’s. But hadn’t he put them in the back of the landrover for safety, and his wife had lent it to his brother, who had taken it either to the farm or to the holding at the neck in the freshwater Loch Diabaig. A fine pickle. I walked to the holding, which is a good mile, and on the way found sixpence! Then a landrover gave me a lift back to Mrs MacLennon’s. But the result was I was delayed and did not reach Craig till dusk, too late to get coal from the store, and very inconvenient for water drawing. At the holding old Mrs MacLennon was stooking oats – the first time I saw it done in December. But according to Alec MacLennon there is value in it for feed just the same. But why they don’t drain Upper Loch Diabaig and make themselves acres of new land I don’t know.
There was a letter from Sean and the Democrat which he has made a passable job of except for an editorial on Lemass which seems to lead nowhere and a rather sectish report of the Anti-Partition League Conference. According to a bulletin he enclosed, Caughey has got busy and he and Sean Stinson have set up or are setting up Prisoners’ Release Committees all over the Six Counties. Sean Redmond, Eamon MacLoughlin, Tom Leonard and Roy Johnston saw George Brown [MP and Deputy Labour Party leader] who promised to do something about Doyle. Gerry Reynolds was with him [MP for Islington North]. But they spent only a quarter of an hour. He was nothing like so forthcoming as Gordon Walker; less brains, of course, though possibly more shrewdness [Patrick Gordon Water, Labour Shadow Home Secretary, who had met a Connolly Association delegation in the House of Commons the previous year].
December 2 Sunday (Craig): It was again a trifle colder with SE wind freshening and high clouds slowly gathering. But there was no rain just the same. I spread some turf thinking there is always a chance! Apart from that I did little enough but finish Chapter 9.
December 3 Monday (Craig): No rain yet. The Craig river, overflowing its banks a week ago, is now looking empty. I can see the stones of the ford I made in 1959. If the dry weather continues I may cross tomorrow, as there are stacks of broken timber on the far side. Dry it may be, but very cold, even to the hands, as I found while rinsing some woollen stockings. By contrast, the sea is quite warm, and anybody who was a swimmer could plunge in unconcerned. It was definitely milder today, with similar appearance but a relieving rest, and wind too variable to be pinned down but mostly SE, almost calm.
About 3.15 there was a distinct explosion which seemed to come from the South round the corner of the bay. Another curious thing I have noticed here all the time is a continuous low frequency hum at about 150 cycles – I notice it whenever it is quiet and put it down to the Craig river. There may be a threshold frequency below which we cannot hear, so all the overtones seem to be built on that. But I also notice it halfway to Diabaig – yet again there are almost constantly streams within hearing. I finished the wee book tonight. I was a little surprised how pleased I felt, for it means I must go back to London.
December 4 Tuesday (Craig): Another dry mild day. I went to Diabaig to make arrangements for return. Mrs MacKenzie had left for Manchester this morning. I arranged to go there on Thursday. A man who gave me a lift “up the brae” told me the few fine days are “very unusual for the time of year” and that the dry Southeast wind was expected to last till Thursday. I hope so. I have come every autumn since 1954 and each year it has been wild and blowing out of the NW, except only in the great summer of ‘59, and the winter of 1961.
There was another explosion today which went off while I was traversing the Craig path, with echoes. I judged it must be blasting on the road-widening between Diabaig and Inveralligin. I have been in the warden’s room till tonight, when I moved into the kitchen. It is cosier here with the stove and I regret I didn’t decide to be here all the time. The open fire which is an attraction is not so effective as the stove. At this end of the house the hum resolves itself into a continuous surge, and so the origin must be the river, as there is a window in the ante-room looking out on it.
December 5 Wednesday (Craig): Once again a dry day, and with much sunshine, cirrus, and a SSE wind; the mildest since the warm day of the thaw. I spent the whole time putting things in order for departure. About 4 pm. I went out to admire the sunset and saw what at first sight was a large vessel lit up from end to end, lying far over the other side of Loch Torridon. But the lights spread, fluttered and I imagine I saw a long smoke trail carried away NW on a strong wind. It then seemed the first must be on land. I made a rough triangulation. An inch at five yards distance just obscured it when it had somewhat constricted – that gave a length of 50 yards, nearer 100 yards at its height. So I guessed a woodland fire, possibly pine trees, near Arrin na Chruine. The surprising thing was that the whole display was over by 5 pm. There was not even a glow after dark. Yet it would be impossible to get a fire engine there. Perhaps the forestry people have their own equipment. If so, it is very effective.
The stream was very low today and could be crossed with a little wading. But the water is very cold so I decided to stay on this side till tomorrow morning. That means I may not leave much wood for the next visitors, who might be myself. So I went to see what can be done tomorrow. I don’t think I ever recall so many fine days in a row up here.
December 6 Thursday (Diabaig): Another splendid day, one of the best yet. I left Craig at about 3.15 pm. and went to Diabaig. I rang Sean who told me London is blacked out with industrial fog – worse even than that of 1952 when Justin Keating and I got lost in Willesden in foggy air and on icy roads. All else goes fairly well, though the branch meetings have been killed.
I spent the evening talking with old and young MacKenzies. The explosions were blasting at a quarry near Shieldaig. The fire was believed to be the rather foolhardy burning of some heather. Then there were odds and ends of news. Bridget Gordon is to get married in April. The new warden at Craig is called “John”– I think the bearded country accountant with the romantic attraction for the Highlands. He was looking for a job here in 1959 and was surprised at not getting one. The shepherd who walked past Craig is called MacDonald, owns most of the sheep between here and Craig and is a “man like that, with no eye for anything but sheep”. He was born in Craig, where there were formerly five houses and a salmon fishing station by the shore.
Young MacKenzie revealed himself as quite a shrewd young fellow. I thought I detected the trace of the sly fellow, but it is I think peasant shrewdness. He has a boat and goes periodically to Shieldaig. He would like a larger one like Kenny MacDonald’s – a ship’s lifeboat that, but not suitable for him as he wishes to engage in fishing. He is a great sailor and has worked for private yacht owners, fond of whiskey too – only at Shieldaig can he get the proper stuff, except maybe on a weekend’s carousal in Inverness. He used frequently to visit Craig either by sea or on his way back from Redpoint where the yacht would sometimes be moored. He is an enthusiastic shot but is upset that he can never shoot a cormorant. Why he should want to, I don’t know. He expects when the new Shieldaig road is opened a third grocery van will be making its rounds from Lochcarron. The Diabaig shop closed not merely from competition but because when the old man died the sons were not really interested and kept a poor stock. So people patronised the van. The problem here is what to do in the evenings. They listen to the radio and sit round the fire and talk, but that is all. There are only about 3 children of school age in Diabaig and Alec MacLennon takes them to Torridon each morning, picking up the Inveralligin children on the way. They return by landrover. Gaelic is spoken by most of the people, but they think it is dying out as it can’t be spoken anywhere else. They do not find the Irish Gaelic easy to understand
December 7 Friday (Perth City): There was a most beautiful sunrise and I felt rather sorry to be away. I called at Alligin, paid my bill to Kenny MacDonald, and so to Torridon where I posted my books back to Sean [Sean Redmond in London]. As the bus passed Diabaig Post Office the Postmaster’s son brought a letter from him saying that the Manchester University Labour Club want to arrange a debate between me and Professor Carter. Rather amusing since I have been writing a review of his book and then a reply to it. We stopped a while at Torridon. “Christmas is showing its horns early,” said the Postmaster. It has horns to him when he looks at the mounting mail. Alec MacLennon was wondering whether to set up (if he could find out how) a wee factory to can Torridon herrings. I promised to try and find out for him how it is done. So I must not forget. I decided to go through to Inverness. The day was growing darker, and I had another little bicycle repair done at Munros. I decided then to go on to Perth. On the way the storm broke. I was at first annoyed to find that having booked through to London I must travel within three days. But the evening was so wild that perhaps, I thought, I’ll go straight on tomorrow. I stayed in Perth.
December 8 Saturday (Glasgow): Two Spanish nurses were in the hostel, on holiday in Scotland. “Why did you leave your own nice warm country and come here into the cold?” I asked. It had been blowing a hurricane all night and the sound of the torrents was thunderous. Apparently they have their holidays only in winter, and wanted to come to Scotland. They were exceedingly dark and more typically “mediterranean” than any Italians or even Greeks I have seen. Yet they come from Northeast Spain on the verge of the Basque country but are not Basques. Another character there was about 55 years old, a hotel worker who puts into his savings account throughout the summer and spends it away through the winter.
I started to cycle to Crieff. Three miles past Methven I decided I would turn back. The wind was too strong, and the showers though not heavy were frequent. So I took the train to Glasgow, and came to the hostel – a big gloomy building like all City hostels given over to hitch-hikers and their drivers – passing through fields and seeing roads that had been flooded by the downpour of the last twenty four hours. I have to collect my clothes from Ardgarten and then return to London.
December 9 Sunday (Ardgartan): I had thought of taking a bus to Ardgarten but though it was cold, it was bright, so I cycled via Helensburgh and arrived just before dark. There had been only 16 people last night as against 60 on November 11th. Some of them had been climbing Ben Arthur, but the snow here is down to about 1750 feet again. Among these was a young man of about 19 or 20, an electrician, who told me he had been off sick for nine weeks. An electrician, his foreman had sent him out on an errand on his bicycle. A Corporation bus forced him across the road into a tramline. He shattered his left arm. Now it has a screw in it holding it together. His doctor, very sensibly, told him to go off and hike round the youth hostels and not to tell him. He asked me to play chess with him; but he played atrociously without any instinct for the game. Campbell was still bringing up his bags of mussels, his new sideline, but otherwise there was nothing of note.
December 10 Monday (London): I had intended to go by train to Glasgow, but missed the railcar at Arrochar by about 2 minutes. So I had to cycle, and mercifully it kept dry. I caught the electric train at Bulloch and was soon at Queen St. whence to Central and on to the midday Scot. On the whole the journey was uneventful and not particularly comfortable. A drunken Glasgow man was calling “Up Rangers” and wanting to talk to everybody. But there was no harm in him. The dinner has gone up to 15/6d and is not correspondingly improved. And the train was too wobbly to make it comfortable to write on the revision of the book I have part written. I reached London at something near 9.15 pm. and went into the office, left some luggage there and went home.
December 11 Tuesday (London): I went into the office at about 9.45 am. Sean did not arrive till after 11 pm. Things have been going reasonably well, though I fear he is not sufficiently aware of the need to get the papers sold. Gerry Curran and Toni came in at 5 pm. and she stayed to a meeting. She told me that despite what he told me Pat Bond [Connolly Association treasurer] has been keeping the books by single entry, and she thinks he does not even know what double entry book-keeping is. So that is why I could never find anything out.
There was awaiting me a letter from Phyllis about her proposals to have repairs done to the piano at Mount Road; also a request from Cornforth that I have the MS on Mellows ready for next August. I want to make a study of the history of Republicanism first. The brief life of Wolfe Tone I have in mind would be a useful preparation.
I had a long telephone conversation with Joe Deighan late at night. Apparently Professor Carter refuses to debate and instead wishes to put up a Belfast man, Mr Gibson [later Professor of Economics Norman Gibson]. I said I had no desire to debate with Mr Gibson, whom I have never heard of. Carter has left Barritt to face the music in Belfast, and he is getting a rough time, climbing down and apologising for all his mis-statements. Carter wants Gibson to do the work of parading the divisions among Irishmen in Manchester. Meanwhile he takes his reward at the New University being established at Lancaster. We decided it would be best to launch our reply in Manchester in January. If the author of the Unionist book will not come forward in person, and insists on the book being his final word, then let our reply in book form be our word – unless of course Barritt cared to come. I doubt if he would. He may have had enough.
December 12 Wednesday (London): We went to the House of Commons to lobby for the release of Doyle. I had a couple of words with Marcus Lipton who promises to try and hold a deputation to Fletcher Cooke [Conservative Junior Home Office Minister].
December 13 Thursday (London): Lipton was as good as his word and rang Sean asking him to duplicate an invitation to other MPs to meet Cooke next Tuesday.
December 14 Friday (London): I started the typing of the book about Northern Ireland but found very many things I needed to check.
December 15 Saturday (London): I carried on with the typing, but in the evening went to Kilburn with Toni Curran. It seems that Pat Bond, though claiming he was doing it, never introduced double entry into our books, and moreover forgot or omitted to send the Annual Return to the Board of Trade. What further muddles we will find I can only conjecture. A year ago it was impossible to speak to him without his throwing a canary fit. Now he rings up for nothing, wanting conversation, and I don’t want to!
December 16 Sunday (London): Most of the day I was typing. In the evening I went selling in Camden Town with Peter Mulligan, one of the most promising of our younger people. He is about 22, and emigrated from Dun Laoire about four years ago following the breakup of his home. Apparently his sympathy and present contact is with the father, an old Larkinite, whom the mother left. Pat Bond who has by the way accepted the responsibility of Democrat Circulation Organiser on Toni Curran’s persuasion, and who called in tonight dressed in a fantastic blue anorak, has invited Peter to spend Christmas with him, for which he is very grateful, as having nowhere to go at Christmas time when everybody else is convivial, must be dreary, even if you think Christmas a damned lot of nonsense. There has been much refurbishing of the public houses of Camden Town even in the last few months. Attractive furnishings seem to draw people more than television. Incidentally the stuff they put over on it is so bad that it is a wonder they have any audiences at all. As I passed through one bar I heard the strains of a trite little Victorian duet that my parents used to sing at musical evenings. In the end they get married and all is well. Not only was it burlesqued, since these people do not believe in marrriage, but it was atrociously sung even as a burlesque, which shows they are not even serious musicians and above all contemn their audiences who are often all no more ignorant than themselves. Peter is young but sees through modern society well enough. When I commented on the shocking performances we witnessed as we passed scene after scene, he described people as “channelled” by the news media and unable to escape.
December 20 Thursday (London): Typing all week – often till after midnight, but I have to do the final corrections tomorrow. The typing is finished, and everything checked. Tom Redmond arrived in the afternoon, and attended the Standing Committee. Roy Johnston is talking of going back home in March. Logan is in one of his inactive spells – the first for a long time.
December 21 Friday (London): took the MS to Mrs. Poole to type – it will cost about £20 – on to stencils. Then we will duplicate it and have it read by those interested. Then I had to get busy with the Democrat, which I might finish tomorrow, so as to go to Liverpool on Sunday. Aine [Redmond, wife of Tom Redmond] came in at about 10.15, from Manchester. Tom was to meet her at the station but they missed each other.
December 22 Saturday (London): I was busy getting out the Democrat all day. Sean went off to meet Chris Sullivan in the evening. Peter Mulligan and a lad called Murray from Dublin went to Camden Town.
December 23 Sunday (London): Having finishing the paper yesterday I went into the office today and wrote 24 letters. Of course the Christmas nonsense is in full swing, and people are offended if you don’t write. But I sent Dorothy Deighan a card – she likes them, and also Jim O’Donnell, Joe Doyle and Rita Brady, Mellows’s cousin.
In the evening Roy Johnston and I went to Paddington [to sell the Irish Democrat round the Irish public houses]. It turned very cold, and after witnessing a person knocked down on a zebra crossing by a motorist – they are driving like madmen now – we bought a bottle of wine and took it in to Des Logan. He was surprised and pleased to see us, produced a bottle of Bush Mills, and we stayed quite late. His brother has lost his job as a draughtsman in Bristol and is “soured” because now he earns £1000 a year as a salesman in London which he doesn’t like. British manufacturers think any rubbish can be sold if you pay your salesmen enough.
December 24 Monday (Liverpool): I went into the office to finish off the letters, had lunch at the chop-house [a traditional establishment across the road from the Connolly Association office at 364 Grays Inn Road, near King’s Cross train station] and then caught the 2.25 from St. Pancras to Manchester, whence after changing I continued to Liverpool. I had a little trouble with one of the buffet car attendants who was a little the worse for drink, and in my presence threatened to fight one man, and insulted quite a few other passengers. When he came to my table and threw a spoon on it I protested. He tried to brazen it out, started to swear, threw a pot of jam on the floor and offered to punch my head. I went down the corridor and brought the guard. A grand inquisition followed in which all the aggrieved passengers gave evidence against him. We said we would not complain to the office if he apologised, so he had quite a bit of apologising to do. I became quite a hero, especially with the women.
At Rock Ferry I couldn’t get a taxi and had to wait 15 minutes for a bus. Everything gets worse and worse. There is now only one taxi company at Rock Ferry. They do not even have a man on duty. They keep a smaller number of taxis than are required by the public but keep on having them in use all the time. A person wanting a taxi has to telephone for it.
Finally I reached 124 Mount Road and saw Phyllis who has been unusually free from her annual affliction – colds; which is all to the good. Mary Greaves is now 87! [ie.his paternal aunt] Old Mr Quigley in Belfast is the same. SGW [Willshire, husband of his maternal aunt Dorothy] retires at the age of 65 in March or April. He and Dorothy are thinking of settling in Truro . . . Nos et mutamur in illis.
December 25 Tuesday (Liverpool): There was of course not much doing today, though I heard some little items of news from Phyllis. It seems that Mary Greaves is upset on three counts this year, and explained in a letter to Phyllis that they are, first the death of her sister-in-law, second the fact that her niece Kathleen has discovered her husband in San Francisco, and third that the young man to whom her great-niece, Harley Greaves’s daughter whose name I forget, is to be married proves to be a Roman Catholic and Mary can recall nothing good having ever been said of the Pope!
December 26 Wednesday (Liverpool): Today was much the same. While it is pleasant to see people, it can be done at more suitable times than in the midst of a general shut-down at the beginning of each winter. It had been intended to visit Dorothy Taylor [one of his maternal aunts]but the snow made the roads dangerous and since Phyllis now seldom ventures anywhere except in her car, we stayed inside.
December 27 Thursday (Liverpool): I have spent most of the past few days reading Frank MacDermot’s very anti-republican Life of Wolfe Tone, which assembles a mass of material yet makes quite surprising omissions, or rather does not place the finger on crucial things he must surely know. He has discovered in William Pitt the Younger an ardent genius for social reform! I went into the City in the afternoon. At least everything is running again, in so far as it does run – railway stalls without newspapers are of course commonplace at any time now. Phyllis went to the Theales in the afternoon and I telephoned Joe Deighan about going there tomorrow.
December 28 Friday (Manchester): We spent the morning and afternoon quietly enough. The man who was to fit new strings in the piano did not arrive yet so that since the action is out, it has been out of use throughout the holiday – a pity since the snow and ice has made it difficult to get out of doors.
In the afternoon I went to Manchester and met Joe Deighan at the Pakistan restaurant at All Saints. Then we went for a drink. He seems to be in a somewhat disoriented frame of mind. “I’m getting old,” says he “and I’m wondering how much longer you’re going to be writing papers and I’m to be selling them.” His curious “sense of humour” adds its own involution to what he means. But I have no doubt at all that middle age is getting the better of him – he is three weeks older than me! – and he would like to come home at night and sit in his chair and read Irish and learn Russian and follow the course of events. But his republican sentiments are too ingrained. The prospects of the EEC and a whole generation of new development outside the familiar framework rather depresses him. “As soon as the border goes,” says Dorothy, in a kind of exaggerated echo, “we’re giving up politics.” They will be in it for a long while yet! What does this middle-age deflation mean? Possibly a feeling that people will not enjoy the fruits of their labours of the future, and therefore that they might as well rest and enjoy now the fruit of their labours of the past. MacLoughlin has got it, an able clever man who has become so fat and lazy that he can hardly bring himself to answer the telephone. The disease is only flickering round Joe Deighan’s head, ready to light on him – but he has gone so far as to say, “I wish Tom Redmond would become secretary.” There are of course other factors. His young brother Gerard is what he describes as an “alcoholic”, son of a person who displays a curious allergy to alcohol. He recently tried to commit suicide in Australia, and Joe had to contribute £120 towards the cost of flying him home to Belfast. His depression would be strongly contributed to by that. Also 400 papers are left and he has to go to Bolton on Saturday night.
December 29 Saturday (Manchester): I called in to Tom Redmond and Aine in the afternoon. They had been in London over Christmas, and told me about the Trotskyist Scaife trying to worm information out of Sean Redmond by pretending that certain percentages in his possession enable him to calculate the absolute values of certain quantities interesting to the CA! He is married to Sean’s sister – not the gypsy, but the plainer one. In the evening we went to Wigan. Joe Deighan says that Aine is acting as a brake on Tom. I dare say, but I would not say it was being applied VERY hard.
December 30 Sunday (Manchester): Not much today. We sat and talked, and in the evening Tom Redmond and I went up the Oldham Road in the snow [to sell the monthly paper].
December 31 Monday (London): I returned to London through 170 miles of snow. It was much deeper in the South. I went to the CA New Year’s Eve dance – the last occasion at which the Orange Tree is open [a public house near King’s Cross]. So another historic venue has fallen to the road wideners and take-over men. Peter Mulligan, normally so abstemious, got badly drunk and we had to lay him on a pile of newspapers in the office to sleep it off, with Robbie Rossiter sitting guard over him all night.
January 1 Tuesday (London): The MS of the “Irish Question and the British People” is nearly typed on to stencils by Philip Poole’s wife’s agency. We calculate if we print it on newsprint we will be able to sell at 2/6d, but will need a subsidy to start with. Sean Redmond was telling me what he had wormed out of Scaife! Apparently Scaife fancies himself as the man who theorises on the Irish question in the Trotsky “movement”. He says there are four Justins (no less) in the handful of noisy nincompoops who form the present “Irish Socialist Republican League” (alias Irish Workers Union, alias heaven knows what, but it contains our old friends Dalton, Quinn, Donovan and a few more throw-outs from our old North London Branch – apropos of which when Pat O’Neill was expelled from the Party, Des Logan and I had herrings with “Sauce O’Neill” on them, so called from the colour of the sauce resembling that of shit). Their paper, the Irish Worker, which blames me for everything that ever went wrong in Europe, sells in Liverpool, the main Trotsky centre. Their sole importance is that the self-important Dr Browne TD [Noel Browne, Irish leftwing parliamentarian] has linked himself to their fortunes. They are prepared to profess unfailing loyalty to him!
Toni Curran came in at 6 pm. and threw doubt not only on the ability of Pat Bond who has, while telling me our accounts were kept in “double entry”, kept them in nothing of the kind, but on that of the accountant. Apparently he should never have certified the accounts were properly kept if they were not in double entry. Bond’s heart is of course very much in the right place; so is his head, but it hasn’t much in it. He has retired and left a legacy of muddle and incompetence that it would be hard to equal. Now Toni Curran has found a highly respectable accountant who will probably throw a fit when he sees the botched job we have been living on.
January 2 Wednesday (London): Snow on the ground all day, and a heavy fall beginning late at night, slushy, mucky, cold and miserable, though luckily I am feeling in better health than ever before in January, possibly as a result of being away in November. But there are enough colds about to track me down! I had the carbon of the book back from Mrs Poole and took the draft to Hostettler [John Hostettler, leftwing solicitor friendly to the Connolly Association] who is looking through it for libel. He was telling me about his Aden adventures, which had delighted R.Palme Dutt. In the evening the Central London meeting was held with Peter Mulligan none the worse for his adventures, Joe Andrews and Frank Murray, a Dublin man, about 30 years old, who lives at Rowton House [a Salvation Army hostel] but is shrewd and stable. I imagine he has always lived in poor circumstances. They are all set for our new campaign against the Home Secretary in his own constituency [Conservative Home Secretary Henry Brooke, MP for Hampstead].
January 3 Thursday (London): Still snowy, wet and miserable. After the Standing Committee I went to West London. MacLaughlin was not there though I believe he has returned – from his mother’s funeral. She was by all accounts a strong personality. A Protestant married to a Catholic, but the leader of the family. Eamon himself, of course, is politically played out, a pity because he is most able. Des Logan was there – showing signs of returning to activity after one of his three month lapses. There are some of our best people here – Roy Johnston, Michael Kane, Charlie Cunningham and Pat Hensey. But the branch is not enjoying very good days and there seems a lack of perspective. This is largely owing to the ossification of MacLaughlin.A fish goes bad from the head down, and that’s the trouble.
January 4 Friday (London): The slow thaw continues in the teeth of contradictory weather forecasts. I went to Harlesden in the evening, meeting Sean Hughes who occasionally comes to our socials and claims to be in the Dublin but not the London Sinn Fein, and travelling up to Willesden Junction with Larry Farrell – a very crestfallen Larry, quite unlike the ebullient leftist of two years ago, bemoaning the onslaught of the “rightwing” in his Painter’s Union, something not I believe unconnected with the above mentioned leftism.
January 5 Saturday (London): Sean, Frank Murray and I went to Camden Town at night [ie.selling the monthly paper]. There was a little contretemps at the Holloway Dance Hall when a young country boy tried to interfere with us, otherwise no incident. The youngster was with two companions, all three slightly drunk, but one of them kept discretely in the rear while the bullet-headed one tried to pick a quarrel. We know this character of old. People passing tackled him and asked were we interfering with him.
January 6 Sunday (London): We had a meeting of all branch officials in the office this afternoon at which I strongly urged the adoption of clearer local political aims by the branches. There were present Sean Redmond, Roy Johnston, Desmond Logan, Pat Bond, Peter Mulligan, Chris Sullivan, Pat White and her husband, Tom Walsh, and Charlie Cunningham and Pat Hensey. I wonder if we made any impression. This is the first time we have set out to create a real branch organisation undertaking local objectives, and it is clear that the matter will figure on the agenda of the conference in March.
January 7 Monday (London): We had a meeting in the evening which will be Cal O’Herlihy’s last in Britain. He leaves for Belfast at the end of the month on a seven-year contract with Queen’s University. I told Betty Sinclair about it and she thinks that as an economist he will be useful to them. But the use will be limited. He is not the idealistic young fellow he began as and is all set for a “brilliant career”. He will probably fall a victim to respectability, if he has not done so already, and edge his way steadily up the social ladder to unsurpassable heights of dullness. Bobby Rossiter was there – in great form, and eternally young Elsie O’Dowling, now about 65 years old, Sean Redmond and Gerry Curran.
January 8 Tuesday (London): I took in Idris Cox a copy of the “wee book” and left one for R.Palme Dutt – in duplicated manuscript, 68 foolscap pages, nearer 40,000 words than the 25,000 I first thought it. Hillel Woddis [better known as Jack Woddis] was there. A statement is to be issued on the ideological dispute in the international movement [between Russia and China over interpretations of revolution]. “I hope you’ll pour oil on troubled waters,” said I, “It will be very easy to make things worse.” I was assured that they had cast themselves in the role of peacemaker. “But,” said Woddis, “we may find ourselves attacked from both sides as conciliators and sitters on the fence.” He was very anxious that a halt be called to sticking labels on people, and quite rightly too. In the evening the International Committee met to discuss the Congo. R.Page-Arnott was in great form, and talked of Columcille converting a British king to Christianity by banishing “aquatitis besti” which lived “in flumine Ness” – unfortunately, said he, only into the loch! A Chinese member delivered himself of the statement, “If there is not a contradiction we must strive to create one”; whereupon Page-Arnott scribbled a note to me, “Not only must we strike the iron while it is hot, we must make it hot by striking it.” But the Chinese member concerned is one of the nicest persons who ever breathed and must be living a difficult political life just now. Differences of opinion often make people say things that they do not really believe at all.
January 9 Wednesday (Liverpool): I went into the office early, wrote a letter to the printers and left a note for Sean, then caught the 9.25 am. from St. Pancras across the snow-covered country. The timetable said the train went through to Liverpool, but it did not do so. We had to change at Manchester. I reached 124 Mount Road at about 2.3O and tried the piano which Phyllis has had fitted with new bass strings and re-felted. It is enormously improved in resonance, and the low notes sound pure once again. I took her a Belleek China catalogue from which she chose some pieces. She seems in good health these days, much better than formerly, but goes back to school tomorrow through the trampled snow. She lives in hourly expectation of burst pipes, and particularly tonight since it is clear with a brilliant moon. I then came over to catch the Belfast boat.
January 10 Thursday (Belfast): It seemed much milder in Belfast than in Liverpool, though it was still freezing hard. But there was no snow in the streets and Divis was black with scattered white patches. I called in to see Betty Sinclair and Billy McCullough, who had had the “wee book”. Both were very pleased with it, and McCullough even said for the first time he saw a gleam of daylight on the difficult balance of payments question. Betty had taken the trouble to make a whole series of notes, mostly on small points, the only major point they made being that they felt the inclusion of the Mallon and Talbot trial, which was a very human story, would divert attention from the more “scientific” items [The Connolly Association had sent solicitor John Hostettler as an observer to cover the trial of Republicans Mallon and Talbot in 1958].
I had a drink with Jack Bennett at mid-day – he is using his bicycle to come in from Lisburn, 10 miles each way, 20 per day, which I think is excessive in weather like this. Consequently, or in spite of it as he thinks, he is tired and has suffered from sinus inflammation. At 5 pm. there was a meeting of Hughie Moore’s committee [a committee of the CPNI]. Unfortunately, only Billy and Betty had received their copies, so after a preliminary exchange we decided on a further meeting next Wednesday, which rather upsets my plans, but what can I do? After the meeting I had a drink with Jimmy Stewart, the young Art teacher who used to run the Young Socialists and who since Sean Murray died has been editing their forthcoming programme. Then I went back to Lisburn, after exactly two months, and heard Jack Bennett express his own satisfaction at the draft. His father, who had an accident in the autumn, is somewhat better, his brother mercifully keeps out of the way, while his brother’s wife has gone to live with her mother, with consequential complications.
January 11 Friday (Dublin): I caught the “Enterprise Express”. In the restaurant car there was a young man whose face seemed familiar but I could not recall who it belonged to! He followed me down the train, passed, returned and then each realised who the other was. He was the secretary of the Irish Society at Queen’s University, Austin Currie, who had come to the meeting organised by Jack Bennett and Sean Caughey and attended by our delegation at the end of September. He took a message to Sheila Mallon for me [sister of Kevin Mallon]. He told me he had worked on the buses in Bournemouth for several years running, had “made” (ie. slaved for) £8OO and thereby kept himself somewhat more handsomely at college than would otherwise have been possible, and (I gather) taken one or two holidays abroad. Apparently all the boys do it, despite the fact that the curriculum is full to overflowing. I asked if he thought the enormous course of “History and politics” he described to me was necessary in order to produce the most effective citizens. He could think of no alternative but agreed when I suggested treating undergraduates at least in their last year as if they were graduates and setting research problems.
In Dublin I went straight up to Cathal’s [Cathal MacLiam’s] found the children all substantially bigger, and slightly quieter though noisy enough, and heard what news there was. Helga told me that Mrs Miller, next door, had a brother-in-law who played football with Liam Mellows. She promised to find his address. The children have been sent to the local Protestant school on the condition that they are taught no religion. Apparently the person who manages it has agreed to accept them on those terms. The biggest change I notice is the predominance of English over German in their speech.
January 12 (Dublin): I saw Nolan in Pearse Street, and there came in at intervals Carmody, Jeffares both much more affable than formerly, and Pat Mooney, once of West London [ie. the West London Connolly Association branc ]. Tadhg Egan came to tell me how he had decided to leave England and would rather like to be back in London. In the evening Tony Coughlan [then a junior lecturer on social policy at Trinity College] called up to Cathal’s and stayed overnight. He had little news, except that following young Bolton’s appearance at an Irish Workers League open-air platform, the non-socialist members of his Democratic Club [a group of young members of the Irish Workers League and others] all faded away. Now, indeed, I noticed for the first time the anticipated rusting of Tony’s keen political edge. He is beginning to accept the lackadaisical slovenliness of Dublin as the normal.
January 13 Sunday (Dublin): Today was the coldest ever, with a fall of dry powdery snow which got into the air in a light wind and settled on trees and hedges. We took the children for a walk in the afternoon. But Tony Coughlan would not stop during the evening. He is what Helga calls “straitlaced” and is always afraid of outstaying his welcome. He is full of generosity himself but cannot accept it, or is too hesitant to accept it, from others even when his own contribution outstrips.
January 14 Monday (Dublin): I spent the morning and the afternoon in the National Library, and later called out to find Ryan, the man who knew Mellows. I reached 224 South Circular Road successfully, but it was the wrong house. All the numbers had been changed. Told that the present 224 had been 94 formerly, I made a simple addition and called at No. 354. But that also was wrong. I was directed to 348 – but spied 224 over the house next door and found small whitehaired Mr Ryan. But unfortunately he had only known Mellows slightly, as one of the older boys who occasionally appeared at a field by the canal, and when “Bert” the brother would kick a football with the youngsters, would join in. He did not know what school he went to, or anybody else who would know.
Cathal was home very late. He works overtime constantly, and in my opinion foolishly, probably as he does not get paid for it. He says however that the Cambridge factory of Messrs Pye constantly threatens to close the Dublin one and consequently the manager is in a permanent rush to accomplish each project as it comes along.
January 15 Tuesday (Dublin): A thaw started last night and continued all day, but even at night there was still slush everywhere. I spent most of the day in the National Library and had a word with Tom O’Neill about his book on Fintan Lalor and the rather grudging review in Inniu [an Irish language paper]. He promised to send us a review copy. I lunched with Tony Coughlan who is thinking of spending his vacation with us again, and very welcome he’ll be, since we are short of people with drive and enthusiasm. He tells me that Justin Keating no longer attends the monthly meetings of the IWP Executive Committee – possibly out of a feeling of frustration, or perhaps through a desire not to hinder his career. If he behaves himself as a lecturer he need do little but allow himself to be carried up the escalator at the top of which is the climax of nonentity as Professor of something or other. But that is of little moment – the expensive comfort and general social respect is the deciding factor. But let us not be too hard on him – there are too many thousands worse.
By accident I met May Hayes. She has left Sandyford and gone to live in Foxrock. Her father is now in hospital from “old age”. Then I next met Denis Walshe of all people – no longer in the Irish Workers League, but active in his trade union, so he assures me. He is the only one of his family left in Ireland. His brother Desmond is in Reading, Reginald is in Oxford (the lad who called on me in Mayo when he was working with Walter Dwyer) and his mother is with a daughter in Derby!
January 16 Wednesday (Belfast): I travelled up to Belfast on the “Enterprise” and had lunch with Jack Bennett. He tells me heads are beginning to roll at the Telegraph. A splendid new Editorial Department has been created, all in one huge room, air-conditioned and plush. But the result is to emphasise what has been only too apparent in the policy of the paper since Thompson took it over – that the Editorial staff are merely an adjunct to the advertising now and fill in the space they cannot sell. He would not be averse to a move preferably on to a nationalist paper, for example, as Belfast correspondent of the Press [ie. the Irish Press and Sunday Press]. He says Caughey is bursting with energy and wants to start a newspaper [Sean Caughey,who was running a Council for Civil Liberties]. So we will see what happens there.
The meeting took place [ie. the CPNI meeting postponed from the previous week]. All were pleased with the book, made a number of useful suggestions and promised to try to secure a distribution in the Six Counties. On the whole Betty Sinclair was the clearest anti-imperialist, possibly from a faculty for putting things in a challenging manner. There is no question whatsoever that the days of misunderstandings with the Belfast people are gone, and I hope gone for ever.
January 17 Thursday (London): I travelled via Heysham to London – an unpleasant route where you are wakened at 5 am. and catch a train at 6.55. Despite the still generally snow-bound state of the country the train was practically on time, and I was in the office just after noon. Sean Redmond reported our financial affairs are in a bad state. As in 1947 the frost and snow has impoverished the building trade workers and our paper sales are cut to a half. Tonight it seems as cold as ever, though (perhaps thanks to a little more fat) I do not feel it as I did. I used as a young man to be deprived even of the power of thought in really cold weather.
January 18 Friday (London): Desperately cold again today with a few snow-showers. The chop-house opposite where Sean and I go to lunch was almost deserted. A year ago this was a most flourishing business, and people must have been all but lined up working every day since it started in 1895. But in the summer the fools who run St. Pancras Council accepted without protest the decision of that rogue Marples [Conservative Minister for Transport] to make Grays Inn Road traffic move in one direction only. His aim is to draw traffic off the railways, please the oil companies who have the Tories in their pocket and create a demand for road building ready for when he goes back to it. I tried to get it stopped – had the chairman of the roads committee in my office but could do no more than convince them of the need for extra traffic lights and an extended pavement. The business of all local trades people dropped catastrophically. Adams presided over a half-empty chop-house, and now the historic establishment is down to a fifth thanks to the snow! [There was a tradition that Lenin used dine in this traditional chop-house when he lived in London] I went out to Holloway with Peter Mulligan in the evening.
January 21 Monday (London): I saw Idris Cox to whom I had sent a copy of the MS. He was very cool about the first two chapters – as was Hostlettler too – and had read an article by Noel Browne in Tribune [the leftwing Labour weekly] which seemed to have impressed him with a belief that we were doing a great deal about “Northern Ireland” but nothing about “Ireland”. I tried to disabuse him about Browne. He did not know of that gentleman’s Trotsky connections.
January 22 Tuesday (London): As the impossible weather has continued we decided to make a special appeal for a sales drive this weekend and to keep the January issue for an extra week.
January 26 Saturday (London): There seems to be a fairly good response to our appeal, and the weather shows slight signs of becoming milder. I was out with Frank Murray.
January 27 Sunday (London): Sean and I went out to Camden Town at midday [ie. selling the monthly paper] and I went with Peter Mulligan to Kilburn in the evening [for the same purpose. Greaves typically did this a couple of times at weekends for many years. Organising weekend volunteer paper sales was a key function of CA branch meetings].
January 28 Monday (London): All indications are that we have avoided the disaster of March 1947 [presumably when paper sales collapsed or were not possible because of bad weather]. But the extra week will be needed. It is still cold. Yesterday was to have been a Connolly Association Executive meeting at Birmingham. But we cancelled it, and mercifully as more snow and cold came. The Standing Committee will have to prepare the conference, a pity but unavoidable.
February 1 Friday (London): It was very fortunate we made a drive last weekend as the cold weather has returned, but not as intensely. When I reached home I found water dripping into the room from Ashton’s flat above. There seemed to be nobody home. He is a seaman.
February 2 Saturday (London): I learned from Fitzgerald just below me that Ashton died last week – a pity, he was the sole surviving tenant apart from myself of the 1945 period when everybody in Cockpit Chambers voted Communist. I rigged up a device to divert the water into the bath.
February 3 Sunday (London): Sean, Peter Mulligan and myself went out to Kilburn in the evening, but did poorly.
February 4 Monday (London): At the International Committtee Woddis gave a good talk. Cal O’Herlihy shortly leaves for a post as lecturer in QUB [Queen’s University, Belfast, where O’Herlihy became a lecturer in economics and statistics for a few years before returning to live and establish a marketing consultancy firm in London]. We had a drink with him afterwards. But it was noticeable how he is gradually assimilating bourgeois ideas. In the discussion he expressed much surprise that imperialist unions still rode roughshod over the wishes of formerly colonial peoples. He thought all that kind of thing had finished. A pity, as he has some brains, a bit too greedy for information however and not very able to digest it. It was quite interesting that Roy Johnston, not a professional economist, was much more at home in the economics of “neo-colonialism” – Woddis and Cox are up in arms because I used the word “neo-imperialism”.
February 5 Tuesday (London): At the International Committee meeting China and the conference resolutions were discussed: Cox thought, rightly I think, that the long Trade Union resolution is a blunder.
February 6 Wednesday (London): I visited Ripley [in Derbyshire, where the “Irish Democrat” was printed each month] and found the roads comparatively clear in Derbyshire, and saw no sign of the vast new snowstorm reported to have struck the south midlands as I passed through them. So much for newspaper reports.
February 10 Thursday (London): It had been my intention to go away today to work on the Tone book, but I was not ready. Instead I attended a meeting of CA secretaries with the object of securing greater activity by our branches. Roy Johnston, Sean Redmond, Rob Rossiter and others were there. Des Logan not. He has secured a staff appointment with consequent overtime.
February 11 Monday (London): I had the electrical point repaired. But now the refrigerator has broken down. It must have been jealous of the weather and decided to go on strike! Yesterday some copies of the rat paper the “Irish Worker” were brought in by Sean. He had them from Scaife, a young po-head in the Trotskies opposed to us who has married his sister, more’s the pity. We had imagined that since Lawless had run away with Rosy Burke, now having her baby in an Islington hospital, the Trotskies would be less active. But they are here again, and no less than five of their articles contrive to make personal attacks on myself.
February 12 Tuesday (London): I was in the office early when there was a knock at the door and a young Dubliner, red-headed, but with long straight hair, very Protestant sounding, and indeed Protestant-looking came in. He said he had been sent by Arthur Reynolds and indeed resembled him in many of his mannerisms. As Reynolds, our former circulation manager, is a very good friend of ours, I made him welcome and when Sean Redmond came in we had a long talk. He is not quite seventeen, a nurseryman, but went to Kingstown Grammar School and was taught by John De Courcy Ireland. He lived next door to him in Coliemore Road by the sea and may have been the boy playing next door when I went there in 1946 or 1947!
He had been a member of CND and the National Progressive Democrats. He told me that Browne had launched a witch-hunt against communists in high places in academic and newspaper life, possibly trying to get at Justin Keating, whose mother still supports him, and Arthur Reynolds and McInerney [Michael McInerney, former editor of “Irish Freedom” and Connolly Club founder member, now a journalist at the “Irish Times”]. The young man’s name is Frank Small. He has a boyish enthusiasm which is like a breath of fresh air. He knows Browne quite well, and says his main character is the most incredible personal conceit. He will take no heed of those who will not flatter him. Since he is depicted on the front page of the “Irish Worker” Joe Deighan has written to him to ask if he supports their scurrility. But I fear criticism will not sit easily in the National Progressive Democrat. Apparently Frank Small met Arthur Reynolds when he was unable to turn off the outboard motor of his boat as he entered Dun Laoire Harbour, and rammed Reynolds’s curragh! We sent him out job-hunting, Sean Redmond will put him up.
February 13 Wednesday (London): At last I have persuaded Sean to go visiting people, and he seems to have become convinced of its value. He has made contact with all the important organisations in Hampstead [with a view to putting pressure on Home Secretary Henry Brooke at a public meeting in his Hampstead constituency] and indeed had to leave early tonight to meet the Young Socialists. The Secretary is Roger Silverman, Sydney’s son [Sydney Silverman, leftwing Labour MP]. Like his father he has a beard, but by contrast is a mile high!
February 14 Thursday (London): In the evening Alan Morton came. He had been ringing often, but during the flood and the electricity failure (a fused point) I had retreated to the office for the evening. He told me how after having been virtually offered the appointment as head of the new branch of ICI pharmaceuticals in Macclesfield, a young man of 36 has been appointed over his head. One of his colleagues has resigned, but he has a wife and a family at the most expensive age, so that while looking for another job, he must keep what he has. He told me that whereas a few years ago he felt he had not to change a word of his book “Soviet Genetics”, now he feels he was “let in” and is more or less refusing to write a line on the subject. He has moved his eldest boy, John, to Hatfield College as his school was worse than useless and is now manoeuvring to get him into Liverpool University, which he assures me is now very good and not all what it was when we were there! I told him I was toying with the idea of writing an epic, and he seemed very interested in the subject I had in mind [This is an early reference to what became Greaves’s uncompleted comic epic poem, “Elephants Against Rome”, which was published posthumously in 1999].
February 15 Friday (London): At last the affairs of Connolly Publications are becoming centralised. Toni Curran brought all the accounts and books into the office and Michael Keane will repair the lock on the drawer of my desk.
February 16 Saturday (London): It looks as if 1963 is going to be a troubled year. I had a notice that the building which contains my flat, which I have occupied for 19 years, has been sold, and a new estate agent is to collect the rent. A bad sign! Then a notice came from the Board of Trade saying our 1961 returns have not been sent in and threatening dire penalties. What this means is that Bond and his tame accountant Fisher just neglected to do their job. And of course if you asked Bond a question he would shake his head, sigh like a grampus and say, “I’m doing my best”, which was on the business side the same as his worst, nil, nothing, a duck. One day when some Income Tax papers came he threw them all up in the air and slapped his head – a pity somebody didn’t slap his arse when he was young. They turned out to be papers he didn’t have to do anything about. Those he should do something about he took no notice of, didn’t even throw them up in the air. I rang Toni, who said she had a similar notice and had sent it to Brief, the proper accountant we have now got. On Thursday night we found that Bond had not even signed or stamped the share certificates of the Company of which he was secretary – he has had four years to do it! I decided not to go away even if “Tone” remains unwritten.
I met Sean Redmond in King’s Cross Lyons for an hour or so. I am afraid I rather “gave out” to him about Bond and his muddles, and a few other things on my mind. Still one needs a chopping block if one is to chop. Instead of going away I cleared up my part of the office.
February 18 Monday (London): Today was just a normal office day, with Gerry Curran coming in and eating oranges at lunch-time till the place reeked, and Pat Hensey, Bond, Toni Curran and the usual people ringing up. A letter came from Caughey enclosing a manifesto which Jack Bennett has written which is “for discussion”. Jack Bennett rang himself later and I expressed the view that generalities never achieved anything. Billy McCullough also sent a discussion document for my opinion. His was at the other extreme but will have more effect as it asks that things should be done.
February 19 Tuesday (London): Again there was snow, but mercifully it was light. I had a phone call from Brief, our new accountant, and will see him on Thursday. This evening Toni Curran, Elsie O’Dowling and Mairín Johnston had a social committee, while I was working at my desk. Such wit and hilarity I never heard, led off by the voluble Toni but with Mairín scarcely an inch behind. The darkest cloud is a much worsened financial position. We are finding it difficult to pay Sean, partly because of poor branch attendances in the bad weather, but also through the general unemployment and shortage of money. We rely on the dance on March 16 to recuperate the losses [ie. the annual St Patrick’s Night dance for members of the Irish community in London].
February 20 Wednesday (London): There has recently been some controversy in the Daily Worker started by the “art critic” John Berger who wrote some absurd impressionistic claptrap about Fernand Leger the French artist. Apart from “Socialist realism” he was said to have achieved “poetry” and what not more. I wrote a letter drawing attention to the stupid expressionless mask-like faces of the figures and suggested that here we had possibly “critical realism” but not “socialist realism”. A lively controversy followed. That pretentious Jack-of-all-trades Lindsay discovered not only poetry sensa late but “lyricism” sensu stricto in the examples the Daily Worker had reproduced. Others wrote and pointed out the apparent weightlessness of a beam a group of four men were carrying. On the whole it was the working class who objected to the way Leger depicted them, and the artists and writers who thought they deserved no better. Now this morning what did Sean and I see but four men carrying a beam of exactly the proportions indicated in the picture. We watched as they took it into King’s Cross Station. We noted the tense lively expressions on their faces – and when we were close enough we heard the tense lively language. Berger in his reply described all who disagreed with him as “Philistines” and wrote a short dissertation on what he believed to be the origin of the Philistinism. If the artists would learn from their material, and the critics from the Philistines, what a more modest world it would be for them.
In the evening we had the usual meeting, including the final arrangements for the meeting next Thursday when Sean Caughey comes to Hampstead Town Hall.
February 21 Thursday (London): We went to Kilburn in the evening and found only Chris Sullivan there. Walsh did not appear. It seems when he was selling last week his ganger gave him a shilling. “He may give you more than that on Monday,” said Chris. So now we wait and see. I had seen Brief in the morning.
February 22 Friday (London): I went to Finsbury Park and Holloway with Sean and came partway down to Tufnell Park, where his parents were in the Boston[public house].
February 23 Saturday (London): Frank Murray did not turn up so I had to turn out again with Sean. The last place we went to was the “Boston” and as we had a minute to spare we sat down with his parents, Eugene Downing (whom I remember in the CA away back in 1942 or 43) and Scaife, the Trotsky who is married to Sean’s sister. Sean gave Scaife the Democrat – reluctantly as I thought – to show him the report of his effort to swing socialism on Ireland at the MCF conference. “That’s a fair report,” said Scaife who then unrolled a packet of a paper called “The Irish Worker” edited by Geraghty and Lawless with their company of touts. “It’s a pity,” said I, “that THAT paper also doesn’t give fair reports”. Then followed a discussion which grew increasingly acrimonious, as I pointed out that they had devoted no less than five articles to attacking me, three of which contained the grossest and most objectionable libel, after which I was described as “an unimportant piece of human rubbish”. Scaife protested that this was justifiable because I “supported the Irish bourgeois”. “Well, why not just say that?” asked Downing.
February 24 Sunday (London): I went with Sean to speak at Camden Town. Again Murray did not put in an appearance. Then I went to Whitehall to take photographs of the Sinn Fein protest against the continued imprisonment of Joseph Doyle. Yesterday Sean, Peter Mulligan and I went to Hampstead for the same purpose. At night I was out again with Peter, and we did very well.
February 25 Monday (London): The South London branch committee met tonight and I attended it – in Patricia White’s house – nice people, enthusiastic, but with little notion of what to do. Pat Bond made his own fumbling intellectual motions but got nowhere. I contented myself with throwing out ideas and hope some will hook on. The pavements there (Brixton) are covered with ice two inches deep in places. But the cold spell seems to be approaching its last, anticyclonic phase, with very dry east winds and intensely cold clear air.
February 26 Tuesday (London): Sean and I had a long day, myself with the paper, he with the dance. An invitation came from Kevin Smith, President of the Michael Collins Society, for me to address them at the Irish Club on some Thursday evening. I accepted and offered them March 14 or May 8, though I have half contracted to go to South London on the 14th. About three years ago Smith, then about 28 years old, was much publicised as Tadhg Feehan’s successor (in some sense, I forget which) in the Anti-Partition League. Fiona Connolly gave us a good impression of him when she heard him speak at an Anti-Partition League Conference which she and Cahir Healy attended. Cahir Healy on the other hand, while driving Sean and me to see Canon Maguire last April, told us that he and others were “merely looking for jobs at the Embassy”. When I wrote to him once he “wanted to know nothing about communism”. So why is he writing now? Perhaps these people envisage a Labour Government and do not realise how little influence we would have with it.
February 27 Wednesday (London): Before the meeting I had a bite to eat in the old chop-house opposite, founded by Adams (presumably the father of the present proprietor) in 1895. For the first time his wife began to talk about the decline in their trade since the one-way traffic introduced last year [ie. on Grays Inn Road]. “The small man is being crowded out” was the theme. She said that the combines, with their re-heated food and quickly cooked concoctions, had largely conditioned the younger people to require instant service, preferably in surroundings dominated by chromium plate. The “good old-fashioned” food at Adams does not appeal, except to the older people. They had been repeatedly urged to alter the style of their business and sell “hamburgers” delivered ready to cook from a central depot, but had so far resisted the temptation.
February 28 Thursday (London): Caughey arrived from Belfast at about 4.3O. He had spent last night with Joe Deighan in Manchester. He was talking about starting a paper in conjunction with Jack Bennett – a venture whose wisdom is much in doubt. He is still set on abstentionism and envisages the Prisoners’ Committees converting into “Wolfe Tone Clubs”, which would take political action but support Sinn Fein abstentionist candidates. Unfortunately, Jack Bennett here shows the romantic streak in his temperament and instead of opposing this inconsistency, tolerates it. He thought my “wee book” a very useful piece of work. Jack Bennett had said to him, “You are overawed by Sinn Fein.” At the meeting in Hampstead Town Hall he made a rather poor speech, having mistakenly written out in full what he intended to say. I arrived in time to see Sean ejecting McQuaid the Trotsky, that gentleman turning on the crocodile tears and whining “those prisoners include some of my personal friends.” Lawless and Donovan and “Editor” Geraghty got in by dint of coming late. Six of them assembled after the meeting to try (unsuccessfully) to sell their libellous rag.
After it was over Ben Parkin [Labour MP for Paddington North], Caughey, Sean, and a few others, including Jack Cooper the prospective Labour candidate who had made a full-blooded electioneering speech, went for a drink. I asked Parkin about Harold Wilson’s leadership of the Labour Party. “Will he do the trick?” “I don’t know if he’ll do the trick,” said Parkin, “but I know that for us it feels like being let out of a concentration camp.” He said it was true that Wilson had a prodigious memory. His working class background was also commented upon favourably.
Michael Keane had been refused an unemployment benefit additional payment for his wife on the grounds of her residence in Ireland. I rang the Ministry of Pensions today and was told he was entitled to the benefit. As he is one of Parkin’s constituents, he put the matter to him tonight and we will see what will happen.
March 1 Friday (London): Caughey came in again in the morning, repeated what he had said yesterday, and went off in hopes of seeing MacEllistrim, the secretary of the Sinn Fein sponsored Prisoners’ Release Committee, who was at the meeting last night. MacEllistrim admitted the CA was “doing good work” and approved of the Belfast Committee’s cooperating with us. His reason for not doing so himself was that we were “tainted with communism” and he was determined we were not going to taint Sinn Fein! He expressed great admiration for Sean Redmond and said how much he would like to have him in the Republican movement. Sean was as pleased as a dog with two tails.
March 2 Saturday (London): I went into Weiners, a shop kept by an old Jewish grocer. He was in a somewhat disturbed state after a customer had complained at the price he was charging for sugar. The multiple stores were selling it cheaper so as to entice customers into their shops. He expressed himself with great bitterness on the plight of small shopkeepers. He had been in Lamb’s Conduit Street from 1929, and his landlord had suddenly increased the rent by £12 a week and told him he must fit a new shop front at his own expense. “I’m getting out,” he said. I will watch to see if he does. If he pays the rent like a lamb it will be a measure of the good time these people have had.
I waited in the office for Andrews to come on the paper sale. He neither arrived nor phoned to apologise. But at 9 pm. Frank Small appeared, as enthusiastic as ever – but now he thinks London “a dirty place”.
During the day Desmond Logan came in. He has a job on the staff of a factory in West London, has his own cheque book and is working a 66 hour week! People who are not on the staff are earning 1 1/2 his wages but have neither the status nor the security. So sehen sie aus! However, he was at the Tuairim [London branch of the Dublin-based Irish public affairs discussion society of that name] last night. Jackson, the Sheffield lecturer who in his postgraduate student days learned all he needed for the thesis that brought him his job by attending our conferences, was lecturing on the Irish in Britain [John A. Jackson, author of “The Irish in Britain”, later Professor of Sociology at Trinity College Dublin]. He paid the Connolly Association a compliment, that we had made the Trade Unions take the Irish seriously. Kevin Smith approached Des Logan and expressed hopes of united action. Apparently he has joined the Labour Party. And then Tuairim did the unprecedented by climbing down out of its middle-class ivory tower and passing a resolution condemning the British Government for its refusal to give teachers adequate pay.
March 6 Wednesday (London): I went to Ripley to supervise the make-up of the paper and returned too late for the Central London meeting at which [name indecipherable] spoke.
March 13 Wednesday (London): At Central London Branch meeting Ian Page [full-time worker with the Movement for Colonial Freedom] gave an address to a good gathering.
March 16 Saturday (London): The Conference began today [ie.the Connolly Association annual conference]. Toni Curran made a mistake at the outset by letting in a very shady looking character who professed to be a teacher from “Hertfordshire”. But I did not learn about it till the end of the day. The dance took place tonight but I didn’t attend.
March 17 Sunday (London): The Conference continued. Some effort was made to persuade the delegates that it was time they got off their backsides. Whether that will happen remains to be seen. I had no time to talk to Joe Deighan who with the others rushed off for his train [Deighan,Tom Redmond and others were delegates from the Manchester CA branch].
March 18 Monday (London): There was a fairly lively Standing Committee at which I represented that there was insufficient attention paid to serious ideological work and that it was time that Sean Redmond and myself were relieved of the fantastic weight of organisational routine with which we are now burdened. Toni Curran and Gerry Curran agreed, but whether the cures proposed will help the disease we will see.
March 19 Tuesday (London): The fresh copies of the “wee book” have arrived. It has thus taken exactly four months and a week since I first set pen to paper. And damned hard work too.
March 21 Thursday (London): At the Standing Committee I returned to the attack. Poor old Pat Bond, who shows up more flabby and pitiful all the time, left early. He had confessed to Toni Curran that every Friday he “plays badminton with Stella” and every Monday practises “weight-lifting” in the city. What next! Roy on the other hand reacted robustly. The difference is between the aristocrat lumbered with the guilt of his riches, and the bourgeois proud of the virtue of his thrift [Pat Bond was one of the Bonds of Castlebond, Co.Longhford]. And on the balance I prefer the bourgeois, despite the lack of sensibility.
March 22 Friday (London): The weather has turned cold again, and I don’t like it a bit – despite the fact that it became warm too suddenly. Sean and I went to Kentish town.
March 23 Saturday (London): I spent most of the day reading about the ’98 period with a view to producing another “wee book” for June [ie. on Wolfe Tone].
March 24 Thursday (London): We had the first Hyde Park meeting of the year. Sean Redmond and Robbie Rossiter spoke, but Peter Mulligan, Chris Sullivan and a few others were there too. Trench-coated Donovan, and villainously moustached McQuaid (or Dalton) stood disconsolately conferring on the ramp. Apparently following his liaison with Rosie Burke, who is now living with him, their human dynamo Lawless is working constant overtime and cannot do much work with the “Irish Workers Union” or whatever they call it now!
March 25 Monday (London): I spent the whole day on Tone, and finished by no means sure I will be able to produce anything worth while to be out by June 17th.
March 26 Tuesday (London): Sean and I came in early and collected (by taxi) 19 parcels of the “wee book” from St. Pancras [ie.“The Irish Question and the British People” which was Greaves’s reply to the Barritt and Carter book, “The Northern Ireland Problem: a study in Group Relations”, published in 1962]. Reynolds told me over the telephone that the review slips and order forms come tomorrow. Then Sean set off to look for the Irish delegation to the unemployment lobby that takes place today. He arrived at lunchtime to report having seen Binks and Sloan [Northern Ireland trade union leaders], who came by boat, but the others had not arrived though having chartered a plane, eighty of them, at £13 a head. Binks, whom Sean described as a “horrible looking character”, was barely civil to him. We tried without success for some time to discover what had happened and learned of their arrival just before Sean left with an appointment to see the MP for Govan. Toni Curran, Gerry Curran and I were in the office at 7 pm. when he returned. He described the wild milling crowd at Westminster, how the police cleared the space in front of St. Stephen’s Hall, and after isolating those by the door knocked hell out of them with truncheons. “I was near enough to see but far enough to be safe,” he assured us. He suspected Trotskyist provocation. The ubiquitous and moveable Lawless was there, reputedly with a brickbat in his pocket. He is reported to have informed one of our members that he has instructed the “Irish Worker” (if it ever appears again) to call off its personal attacks against CDG (no doubt under the influence of my words with Scaife). That rat Andy O’Neill [former leftist opponent of Greaves’s nationalist policy in the North London CA branch, along with his brother Patsy; involved in a ballot-rigging scandal in the Electrical Trades Union and expelled from the CPGB as a consequence] was there, and cod-face Furlong [also a former North London CA branch member], two of the most useless degenerate specimens the slums of Dublin spewed up since the sham squire O’Higgins. Danny Ryan from Bristol appeared and told Sean he was now Industrial Organiser for the West of England district of the CP and had grown fat from sitting in a chair. Oh! Altitudine!
Chris Sullivan and Tom Walsh came in and did some work for the Hampstead campaign. I told Gerry Curran, who is looking after the distribution of the “wee book”, that R. Palme Dutt had telephoned during the day to suggest a weighty rather than a simple review in Labour Monthly, a proposal I readily agreed to. He suggests Hostettler should be asked to do it, which I am fairly confident he will. I felt a lot better pleased with the progress on Tone tonight.
March 27 Wednesday (London): I spent practically the whole day wading slowly through Wolfe Tone’s autobiography and making notes against MacDermot, whom I caught out only in “slants” and sins of omission [author of “Theobald Wolfe Tone: A Biography”, 1938]. He did however contrive to suppress completely the radiant sense of democracy which is in the diary.
In the evening Eber [John Eber, Movement for Colonial Freedom official; the MCF had its office at No.364 Grays Inn Road also, as had a Trotskyist group led by Tony Cliff] spoke to the Central Branch on the subject of imperialism and war. He talked like “poor poll” and went down heavily in my estimation. He did not even mention monopoly-capital and rotated round the subject like a letter-writer to the New Statesman, propelling himself so to speak by the aid of tags and cliches drawn eclectically from half a dozen political systems. Sean told me of rumpuses in the MCF, Eber wishing to “take the message to people in their drawing rooms”, and Woddis and Page preferring the streets. Eber’s talk would make me a Page enthusiast better than any of Page’s arguing. Also Brockway [MCF chairman Fenner Brockway, MP for Slough, later Lord Brockway], who is susceptible to female charms, induced the MCF to engage one Joan Raynor as prospective editor of a monthly periodical to be called “World Panorama”. Apparently the good lady was last week found to be running a sideline as correspondent of another paper. Hence her hasty dismissal, and (says Eber to Sean) “I’ve to put my head on the chopping block” in Birmingham when the conference takes place this week-end. Sean is to run their Standing Orders Committee for them [Sean Redmond represented the Connolly Association on the MCF committee at the time].
A mystery. The NCCL [National Council for Civil Liberties, to which the CA was also affiliated] sent resolutions, including one from its EC retreating on the question of Northern Ireland. Either we were invited to submit ours and Roy Johnston lost the notice, or we were omitted, which is very suspicious.
March 28 Thursday (London): I spent today as yesterday and am half way through. It is a slow laborious job but necessary. Roy swore he had never seen the NCCL thing, so we can take it he hadn’t, as although he’s a miser he’s not a liar. Toni Curran said Joan Rynor had been a secretary to the principal of the firm she works for now, and described her as a sad, dissatisfied person, superficially sophisticated who kept insisting that she was a “journalist” and too good for the job she was doing. The MCF is now £200 the poorer and the decision to issue a magazine has been dropped.
Nolan sent over the first copy of the Irish Workers Party programme, “Ireland her Own”. I wish they could have thought of another title. Why take over TA Jackson’s? [Jackson’s history of Ireland, to which Greaves later added an Epilogue in 1971, had that title] But it contains some good stuff and I wrote congratulating the midwife on the successful delivery.
March 29 Friday (London): Another day spent on Tone’s autobiography. I think MacDermot can be fairly dismissed. Some of his omissions are too pointed, and his choice of quotations to damn the Jacobins in France and the Defenders in Ireland too artificial. Gerry Curran came in at midday and got off the review copies of the “wee book”. Hostettler rang saying R.Palme Dutt had asked him to do an article on it in the Labour Monthly, so that is under way. Against that good news we are hard put to pay the telephone bill in the office and it may be cut off. Peter Mulligan came in the evening and went off on the papers with Sean Redmond. I expect Tony Coughlan will be here on Monday, and Sean will go on to Nottingham from Birmingham and try to stir things up there.
March 30 Saturday (London): I saw Sean for a few minutes before he went off to Birmingham. We have no word from Liverpool and are considering cancelling the conference we had planned there for April 28. I did more work on Tone. Later on Frank Small came in and announced that he was going to Sweden to work. Coelum non animam mutant qui trans mare currunt [Those who cross the sea change the sky, not the soul]. I went with Roy Johnston to Paddington, and discussed, inter alia, the political and intellectual blight that has fallen on MacLaughlin, a clever man, too lazy to do a damned thing, Chairman of West London branch who did not even trouble to attend its AGM last Thursday, much to Sean Redmond’s dissatisfaction. As for Des Logan he has entered one of his periods of quiescence. And when he revives he will be like a volcano, erupting in the most destructive place. Roy’s theory is that he has hopes of entering the middleclass and securing a “mott”[Dublin word for girl-friend, cognate with “mate”] in Tuairim. Feicimid! [Irish: We shall see]
March 31 Sunday (London): I spent most of the day on “Tone” finishing the autobiography and getting on to other things. It is just possible a job can be made of it, though I have had to fight hard to free myself of other encumbrances, and I have a doubt if everybody is equally pleased. Toni Curran and Gerry Curran have been my best supporters in this, Gerry partly because he remembers the original compact made in 1951, which has been so totally inoperative, thanks of course mainly to the sabotage of Prendergast, the O’Neills, Tom Aherne and a few more, plus of course their backers [referring presumably to the promise of support from CPGB circles when Greaves went full-time with the Connolly Association and took on the editorship of the ”Irish Democrat” in that year; those named were Irish members of the CPGB and CA who had opposed Greaves’s anti-Partitionist policy line]. In Hyde Park in the afternoon Gerry Curran and Robbie Rossiter had quite a good meeting, and in the evening Peter Mulligan appeared unexpectedly and took my place in the sales.
April 1 Monday (London): The day passed uneventfully enough but not the night. Returning from the International Committee [of the CPGB] in the evening, after a cup of coffee with Rob Rossiter, I was walking up Shaftesbury Avenue alone, when a hoodlum came up behind me, so quietly I had no warning, attacked me from the rear, sending my glasses spinning and knocked me down with a rain of maniacal blows. I struggled to my feet and through the blood dripping over my eyes saw him being held. I shouted “police”. They came quickly, but he escaped, and ran away. I entered the police car and we toured Soho looking for the man, dressed in a bright red jersey, a young fellow of about 25, very athletically built and with a “nervous” face, white below black hair. One or two unfortunates in red jerseys were momentarily held and brought for my inspection, and of course the people who held him would have been able to identify him had any of them been he. But we were unlucky. About an hour later, after having stitches in my forehead and drops in my eyes, I was recovering from the shock in Charing Cross Hospital, when I was invited to go and look at a man who had just come complaining about his appendix. It was the man. I accused him, and he was arrested and charged. After a cup of tea in Bow St. police station I took a taxi home. There was one glass of dry white wine left in a bottle, which I gulped and went straight to bed, very sore, sorry for myself and determined if ever evidence would do the trick, to put somebody behind bars for a good long time. The police, like myself, are mystified as to the cause of the attack.
April 2 Tuesday (London): I rang Hostettler who expressed the opinion that my assailant must be a “head case”. At Court he was duly charged, the police and I both identified him. He pleaded alibi. He lived in Hendon and was in Bayswater at the time of the assault. He had come to Charing Cross hospital in a taxi owned by a friend of his because of feeling ill. He was afraid for his appendix. The doctor gave evidence that there was nothing wrong with his appendix but that his knuckles were injured in a way consistent with his having been fighting. Challenged to produce the taxi driver he said he knew his name but not his address. When the Clerk of the Court said that since taxi driving was registered at Scotland Yard the name would suffice, he found he had forgotten that as well. He was remanded till April 19th for the report of a Probation Officer and also a medical report. “He came into the wrong hospital,” said a policeman to me, “it should have been a mental one”. So I trust when they get him back there they’ll keep him safer this time.
Toni Curran came in and brought me a few items I require. Tony Coughlan brought down a load of books. Gerry Curran appeared with a quarter bottle of brandy and I sent out for some wine. Beer also appeared, I didn’t feel much like the books, so I shared the wine with Gerry Curran and drank most of the brandy and went to bed if not fitter, less conscious of my unfitness! I must have received some ugly blows in the chest as I could barely sit in a chair without lowering myself against the pain. I rang the police and heard the result of the case as above, and apparently the man had had his appendix out. I trust the little contretemps brings the illness on again!
April 3 Wednesday (London): Today the eyes were better but not the chest. Sean Redmond came in for a few minutes in the afternoon and Toni Curran acted as nurse. I was able to read a bit. A couple of supporters of the paper and the office staff sent in a bottle of Russian cognac, which was greatly appreciated as pleasant medicine. I learned that Art MacMillan had sent a letter very flattering to the “wee book”.
April 4 Thursday (London): Today the chest improved but not the eyes, so there seems to be a leapfrog effect. At the same time I felt a certain return of physical energy, which must denote the recovery from what is known as “shock”. So I was able to read a bit and write a bit, and sip the cognac or sleep between times. There have been excitements in the Johnston household too. First a tremendous row over teaching Una to do arithmetic; then Roy down with influenza. No doubt the unnecessary quarrel and the influenza are traceable to the one virus. However, Mairín is now fussing round him like an old hen and all Una’s intractabilities are forgotten. Mairin, of course, is incredibly impatient, and Roy just credibly!
In place of the late Mr Ashton, who was always away at sea, some new people have moved into the flat above me, so that there are hammerings and sawings, and worst of all radio-playings.
I was a wee bit put out that Sean Redmond and Tony Coughlan had not been down today, since Sean had been in the vicinity and said so to Toni Curran – Tony Coughlan appeared in the evening after the Committee meeting bearing a bottle of Pommard which I considered handsome amends!
April 5 Friday (London): Still the eye lags and Toni Curran comes in every few hours and dowses it till I feel as if I’d a bucket of water thrown in my face. I have been doing plenty of reading but find it hard to settle. I must have got over the “shock” as I’m chafing at being kept in. Tony Coughlan and Sean Redmond called in during the afternoon, as a result of Toni Curran tackling them for not visiting me!
April 6 Saturday (London): I went to Charing Cross hospital and had the stitches taken out of my eyebrow. Late last night Joe Deighan rang up who remarked, when I told him of the blows on the back of the ear, the left temple, the right eye, the chest over the heart and the stomach, “that sounded like a professional thug! He seemed to know what he was about”. The eye was little better, but still I feel mobile again and went to the office for a few minutes. Tony Coughlan has been turning everything upside down. He has stirred them all up when they badly needed it. He had even asked Fitzgerald to sell. He declined, and confided to him that he and Bill Hennessy propose to go to Ireland in July to conduct a “private political enquiry” – that is to say, to make themselves important in their own eyes by meddling in what doesn’t concern them.
April 8 Monday (London): I decided to go in to the office again today, and did a certain amount of work on the second “wee book”. It only needs to try to start work again to appreciate how ill one feels. But anything is better than sitting around in the flat not doing anything in particular and dwelling on one’s discomforts. The burst of energy the Association is now taking on seems to be spreading.
April 15 Monday (London): Although I was unwell all week I managed to get a chapter or two of “Tone” finished. I was not too pleased with Sean and Toni on Friday, who I thought could have invited me to have lunch with them. The same thing happened yesterday, and presumably sick men are bad company and should be pushed out of sight. On the other hand they cannot be expected to appreciate how when every deep breath is painful and coughing a torture, people prefer not to be alone. By now however the eyes have cleared up. The chest and stomach blows must have been the severest.
April 20 Saturday (London): I learned from the police that my assailant was brought up again yesterday before the Chief Magistrate and was given three months in jail. “Watch out for yourself when he is released,” commented Robby Rossiter. “He may try the same trick, or worse, again.” So perhaps I should buy an umbrella!
April 23 Tuesday (Manchester): I went first to Liverpool where Sean and Pat Hensey are doing a week’s propaganda, and then to Manchester where I spoke at a conference – my first speech since I was ill. I was pleased that it was no worse. Newbold [Horace Newbold, Secretary of the Manchester Trades Council] in the chair rushing the other proceedings through in an hour and poor Tommy Watters had no time to speak, but plenty to complain about it afterwards over a drink! To my surprise Joe Deighan told me that he and Dorothy are thinking of moving to London in July. That will be as broad as it is long, so I offered no criticism.
April 24 Wednesday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool and saw Sean Redmond, Pat Hensey and Pat McNally from Birmingham. I had really intended going away for a holiday, but as I have to go to Ripley on Friday must wait till then.
April 25 Thursday (Liverpool): I feel distinctly better this morning, why I don’t know – the biggest improvement since the Saturday before Easter. Careful coughing is possible, but sneezing is the devil! Perhaps it is the result of the sail to Seacombe and the trip to New Brighton that we took! Sean and I are staying with John Gibson, a native of Chester City, and he tells me that Roose-Williams, once of Bangor, is teaching in Liverpool. His mother is still alive in Bangor. There still survives in Coedpath the branch [of the CPGB] that I with FM Jones, Geoffrey Bloor, John Edge and IH Jones started away back in 1936, and Tom Jones of Ponciau is still a TGWU organiser in Connah’s Quay [See Vols.2 and 3 of the Journal for the 1935 developments leading up to this]. FM Jones, by the way, I hear is County Architect in Cardigan. The others I have lost track of, and only heard of FM Jones from chancing to come across Mervyn Jones of the New Statesman. Gibson was very interested to hear of the period previous to that when he was active in North Wales.
April 26 Friday (Liverpool): We have been having open-air meetings at the Pier Head each night but owing to the chilly damp weather these have been poorly attended. Tonight’s was slightly better. But we have had considerable help from Pat Doherty whom Sean Redmond has discovered is from Dublin and therefore of course of very special human quality providing he doesn’t blot his copybook. He started life sailing on an Arklow schooner! Gibson told me that the heyday of the North Welsh district was the war period when many were evacuated from London. Even today he says in Llanwrst or some such place a public house will be suddenly strewn with party emblems – from the bungalow of some Cockney who has retired there. I expressed the view that this means nothing and that Wales for the Welsh would be a good principle to work on. We sat up late into the morning, talking.
The meeting at the Pier Head was lively and Sean had some difficulty controlling it. He is not very accustomed to addressing English audiences. I spoke myself and was very pleased not to have too much pain in the sternum area afterwards. More sitting up late. When we got back to Gibson’s a “deputation” awaited us.
April 28 Sunday (Liverpool): This was our last day in Liverpool, so we all walked to Hilbre from West Kirby and got our feet wet! Why ever did I leave and settle in that stupid place called London, where there is no air, no sea, no scenery, no variety? Sean and Pat Hensey were set talking of the advantages of Dublin, and we all deplored the fate that planted us in the “great wen”. In the afternoon the conference was held with about 20 present, not a bad start but no Trade Union delegates [This was a Connolly Association conference seeking to interest the Liverpool Irish community and Labour movement in the Northern Ireland question]. Gibson has given tremendous help [John Gibson, Liverpool leftwinger]. But the backwardness is deplorable in the people as a whole. At the Pier Head some Orange women appeared and again Sean found things very difficult. I intervened with more willingness tonight from having come to NO harm last night, and (understanding the people here as I do, and should do) I actually won a round of applause.
April 29 Monday (London): Sean and I went to Crewe, Derby and Ripley, altered the front page of the paper to announce Joseph Doyle’s impending release in July, and then went back to Derby and came on to London.
April 30 Tuesday (London): Alan Morton telephoned and said he wanted to see me, subsequently coming in for dinner. He is suffering from occasional indigestion and can’t drink even a drop of sherry. A couple of years ago he suffered from food poisoning and the after-effects remain. A few months ago he told me of the impending transfer of the “Fritz” laboratories to Macclesfield and that he was offered the post of director. This was then given to one of his juniors – as I suggested because the policy would be to close the long-term research down and the young man would be more pliable as having more freedom to be transferred upstairs. He resolved to look for another job. Now he has been offered one, as reader in Botany in Chelsea Polytechnic which is (so he is told) likely to be moved out of London and given University status. He asked me if I were in his position, with three children and £3000 a year, would I sacrifice possibly £800 a year. I told him in my opinion the £3000 was lost anyway, and that he might as well make sure of the £2200, since a superannuated senior is always expendable and measures are usually taken to expend him. He could seek another position as well from one as the other, and he would be saved the pinpricks and benefit from the change. He said he had come to much the same conclusion himself, and after thinking the matter over again, would tell me what he decided. He is with ICI for 15 years.
May 1 Wednesday (London): I have now finished the wee book on Tone, but must revise it pretty thoroughly as I have stepped on to ground where I am not expert. However, I am fairly pleased with it and I think we will go ahead. There was a meeting of the Central Branch in the evening at which Gerry Curran spoke on Chapter 2 of the Irish Question, but he did not clarify the subject, but got bogged down in detail.
May 2 Thursday (London): The news came that Nagle’s mother has died. He has been “paroled” for the funeral. The sycophant press (and the Anti-Partition League) hailed this proof of Mr Brooke’s enlightenment! Actually he has killed the old lady if anybody has, and the unfortunate prisoner who should have been let out last year and would have been if Brooke had not replaced Butler, is now to have a holiday from prison at his mother’s funeral. The “Michael Collins Society” who some time back invited me to address them next week, wrote cancelling the engagement because there are divisions in the ranks. So that society also goes the way of all flesh!
May 3 Friday (London): We learn the Belfast Tone Commemoration is on the evening of June 20th, but possibly Gerry Curran and Toni Curran may be able to go as they are contemplating a holiday at that time [This year,1963, was the bicentenary of Wolfe Tone’s birth and led to various commemorative activities, including the formation of the Wolfe Tone Society, with branches in Dublin, Belfast and Cork]. Jack Bennett tells me that he is preparing a “twelve page pager” – duplicated I suppose like Caughey’s [It was in fact properly printed as a once-off item] – and must take a week off work to do it, I don’t know why. He wants some suggestions on how to deal with Tone. Caughey’s latest bulletin has moderated its tone towards the Labour Party. but how I wish they would DO and stop making pronunciamentoes!
May 4 Saturday (London): We hear that Doyle has asked and been granted an extra day’s parole. So the Home Office is developing kid gloves to hide its infamy. We must contrive some way of showing Mr Brooke up in his true colours. In the evening I went to Finsbury Park with Frank Small, a very intelligent lad, as he proves, fully justifying Arthur Reynolds’s opinion of him, though his head is stuffed with a kaleidoscopic variety of ambitions. Colm Power however came in to the office this morning. That is twice in three weeks. He tells me his brother who became a priest, and whom Colm seemed not to wish to “let down”, has abandoned the priesthood and I guess Colm has relaxed the full purity of his faith, though I cannot of course ask! I simply sense it from some remarks. He believes Val Deegan is still living in Harrow but has lost touch with him. He has been conducting an unpublished polemic with the London Editor of the Manchester Guardian on the ancestry of Terence O’Neill [Captain O’Neill, Northern Ireland Premier], who claims to be a direct descendant of Niall of the Nine Hostages, yet also to be descended from an immigrant from the Orkneys in the ninth century. Colm argues that he belongs to the Chichester family, and Mr Fay does not seriously dispute that that is the source of his importance.
May 12 Sunday (London): At a social evening I got wind that something was afoot from Bosco Jones. I was then almost immediately presented with a cheque for £15.15 after Elsie O’Dowling had made a very complimentary speech [This was a gesture by the CA members following the physical assault that had been made on him]. Curiously enough I heard it all with great indifference and wondered why. Partly I think it is the consciousness that nothing substantial has come out of these long years of work. Partly too the feeling that whatever those assembled tonight professed to hold about my contribution, those who have the real power to make it effective are completely indifferent [presumably a reference to leading lights in the CPGB, the Labour Party and the Trade Union Movement]. Thirdly I felt like a small time Daniel O’Connell. That of course is not to say that I did not appreciate the gesture.
May 13 Monday (London): I endorsed the cheque given me last night and paid it into the Democrat fund. It can be used to get out the Wolfe Tone book. I had a talk with Toni who told me that it had got round that I was dissatisfied at the indifference of the CA members when I was attacked on April 1st and that this was to make up. Now a genuine expression of esteem is one thing. A species of conscience money is another. I exclude from this stricture Toni Curran and Gerry Curran, Elsie who thought I’d want to be left alone, Roy who at least rang up, and of course Joe Deighan.
May 19 Sunday (London): Pat Devine was to have had his copy ready for the paper but did not [He was employed by the “Daily Worker” and contributed a monthly “World Comment” article to the “Irish Democrat”]. I was to have gone away tonight but must postpone it.
May 20 Monday (London): I told Pat Devine what I thought of his lapse and he was duly apologetic. If one is on one pay roll one gets a month in Romania; if on another you get a holiday, even to convalesce from illness, when you get a chance! I rubbed this in to him.
May 21 Tuesday (Corris, Wales): I caught the 12.5 am. from Paddington and went to Ruabon – had a sleeper but scarcely slept a wink. A cold is coming on, headache and sore throat. In normal circumstances I would have stayed at home, but I have complained so much of not having a complete break after the assault that I thought it best not to cry “wolf”. It was cold and snowing, but I cycled to Llangollen first, and reached Corwen by about 8.30 am. and went into a milk bar to drink tea. The nationality of the owner I could not tell – I guessed Polish after learning English with a Welsh accent. The labourers and lorry drivers spoke Welsh. An Englishwoman with a flat Cheshire accent – Cheshire that was almost Derbyshire – came in and all spoke English. She was the height of unconscious vulgarity, with “bloody” and a few more minced expressions. One old Welshman told the story, apropos of nothing, of the man in a village nearby who “cut his throat, and made a clean job of it, not a drop of blood spilt, it was all caught in the bath”. The Englishwoman then said she felt ill and left. I rode on, met a cockney about 55 years of age at Llandillo – cycling is getting rarer these days and only the older generation seem to keep at it, except for a few students. He had a daughter at Bangor University where, so he said, the authorities believe it “good for the students” that they should not all be drawn from Wales but come from all parts of “the country”. I hazarded the guess that the real aim might be to prevent them from falling victims to Welsh Nationalism, and to breed a cosmopolitan middle and professional class. Good of the students! If it was as it was in my day, top University brass looks for knighthoods, slightly lower for Vice-chancellorships, while the more modest ranks look for Deanships and Professorships. The only thing that never interests them is the good of the students! Strangely enough, he agreed with me.
After Daws-y-nant the weather became bright and sunny. I had lunch at Dolgellau – plenty of Welsh spoken here, they have not yet succeeded in stamping it out, hard and artfully though they have tried.
I stayed the night at Corris Youth Hostel. The Warden, a Mr Edwards, told me that the quarries are working, and that Welsh is universally spoken by the children among themselves although the schools are bilingual. But he criticised some of the parents for not encouraging the children to speak it at home.
It struck me very forcibly how the great advantage in Wales has been the formation of a Welsh-speaking proletariat working in local extractive industries. That accursed “light industries” – making things that are not worth making – bring in “experts” who are too superior to learn the local language. But the light industries based on local materials would be another matter – it struck me that this waste slate with its highly laminated powder might be used in plastics. I do not recall it having been used as a filler. Edwards told me that Machynlleth is pronounced as CEG [his father] pronounced it Machgnllett. Llanmuwchllyn is usually Llanúwchllyn but could be pronounced as separate words.
May 22 Wednesday (Nant Dernol): In much better weather I cycled to Machynlleth and on to the beach at Ynyslas. The old Parliament House of Owain Glyndwr is partly a library, partly a restaurant, and part a billiard saloon resounding to the strains of “rock-and-roll”. Don’t the ruling class know how to demoralise the mass of the youth! They’ll have been like their parents if they can manage it. But against the greater pressure of propaganda and advertising there is the greater unreality of the whole Tory picture of things. So it balances now and will tip the other way later. Not a word of Welsh in this historic old building. Nor any signs of Welsh language newspapers in the shop-fronts.
I went to Aberystwyth, had tea, and so over the mountains to Llangurig and Nant Dernol. I was told that the snow had been six feet deep. It was “as bad as ’47”. Thousands of sheep had been lost on the hills. Those in valleys had been luckier.
May 23 Thursday (Nant Dernol): I went to Llandrindod. There the shop with the words “Llyfr cymraig” above it was selling low-grade paper backs. The Welsh Tourist Board office was adorned with innumerable photographs of the Queen of England – what is that to do with Welsh tourism?
May 24 Friday (Nant Dernol): I walked miles over the hills, the weather being moderately warm and dry. I note that there are only three farms in Nant Dernol now, though I see ruins of at least three more. In the next valley north, there are two ruins. The sheep look very scraggy and ill-fed, and I saw one that must have died less than a week – the lambs on the other hand look perfect, and one little thing kept me well entertained for several minutes, jumping two feet in the air on all fours and making fierce rushes at its unconcerned nibbling mother.
Old Curreghwla (I don’t know his personal name) was delighted when I told him of the lambs. “You were in the wrong place,” he told me however, “You should have been at Rhayader fair – horses, cattle, sheep, everything.” He added, “I sold four cattle – and not a bad price either.” He was so pleased that I gathered that he at any rate was not in the wrong place. But nobody wanted to buy sheep, he said. Too risky. The man in the top farm, who was reared there, left on his parents’ death to live two miles away, and then unable to stand the separation, went back to farm on his own, had lost many sheep. “He is very down in the dumps.” He had no cattle to fall back on, and that though there is good grazing. “He wants to be free – you can’t go away if there are cattle”. Curreghwla had brought his sheep down and fed hay.
An interesting thing was that he asked me if I had been to Cwmystwyth and pronounced it Cwm-y-stwyth – something I believe to be characteristic of South Welsh, though this is at least technically Co.Montgomery and therefore North Wales. Many of course come from Rhayader which is in Co.Radnor.
I learn that Nant Dernol hostel has been very quiet. Nobody was here this week, though last Saturday two Dublin people were here and left it in splendid condition, showing the An Oige tradition.
May 25 Saturday (Nant Dernol): I went into Rhayader over the old coach road to Cumystwyth, and so on to Aberystwyth, then back to Ystumtuen near Ponterwyd. A curious character was there, an oldish bookseller dragging an unfortunate Singalese round Wales on a bicycle, calling in at bookshops looking for bargains. I suspect he is not a private seller but a “searcher”. But what a talker, and a self-satisfied one at that. Now strangely enough he had accompanied the late Harry Pollitt to Ceylon (on board the same ship) and knew Jeffares, claiming to have heard of his running off with the local branch secretary’s wife from Pollitt himself! Apparently some friend of his is related to Jeffares. He was going to Llanbedr, “Lampeter” as he called it, where he says there is a good bookshop. He told me TA Jackson’s book was being requested every week in the circular. Apart from that there were four outrageously vulgar young schoolmistresses, and four young lads from Stoke-on-Trent.
May 26 Sunday (Nant Dernol): Last night I rang Sean who told me that the CA amendment at the NCCL was successful on the narrow margin of 93/88. Purdie the chairman was helpful, Ennals like a good “cricket player” saying “Well done” to Sean, and inwardly no doubt, “Damn his eyes”! So we forced a big debate, and perhaps have not had as little influence as I was inclined to fear. The results appear unexpectedly, for there was much verbal support. An old ass who is secretary of the Bermondsey Trades Council demanded that there should be no enquiry into discrimination because both sides do it – apparently if everybody does it, it is unobjectionable. The mad woman Olga, of the yellow star who was so rude to Sean and me, stood up and supported us on the grounds that young Irishmen disillusioned with the treachery of the British Labour movement were turning to fascism – an exaggerated thought, but it went down.
I cycled to Ponterwyd via “Parson’s bridge” and so on to Nant Dernol. At 9.5O a man of about 58 pushed up an old-fashioned bicycle – a pattern maker, one of these forlorn spirits, who had lived with his father in Coventry till the father died at a great age last winter. He has moved to Kingston, plunged I suppose from youth to old age with a single splash. He can’t cook, nor has he any notion of the simplest things – even how to light a hurricane lamp! Though he said he was afraid to try to cook steak which “took a long time”, he was bemoaning the refusal of the local Council to give him planning permission to use a house given a rebuilding grant for another purpose, namely offering “Bed and breakfast” to tourists. “After all,” he said, “I can knock up a breakfast for myself.” Yet he had appeared as an objector to the closing of the old Cambrian Line from Mount Lane to Brecon, as he likes to go and watch trains! And he is active enough as he went to Newtown to “see” the Midland and Welsh BBC orchestras play together – and said he (and of course how right he is) it “makes a big difference, seeing it.” Yet he had to wait to be 57 till he “saw” an orchestra and went only out of sentiment for the “midlands”. This is the civilisation of this country today. He avails himself of railway seven-day tickets with unlimited travel. Here you have the rootless consumer – the complete separation of work and leisure.
May 27 Monday (Nant Dernol): The weather was again bright and sunny. The air is still cool, and it is advisable only to sit in the sun. Perhaps cycling into the sun was the reason for my thighs getting bright red with sunburn, about four inches up from the knees. So far none of “microscopic” blisters that sometimes develop, but plenty of tingling. I went to Rhayader (Rhaidr, as Curreghwla correctly pronounces it – last night’s pattern maker assured me on the authority of the guide book that Welsh is not spoken in Radnor or Brecon owing to “something to do with Celts and Saxons”, but last night I heard old Curreghwla with three others engaged in a long conversation in Welsh, only ten yards inside Montgomery!) Then I went to St. Harmon and down the mountain-seeming road, which is merely a gorge separating two valleys. The army had pitched a camp by the Wye, and young soldiers in sports togs were crossing the river by sliding on a rope stretched between two trees. An attractive occupation for young people. In Rhayader two miles away there is an Army Recruiting van, and notices plaster the walls just opposite the war memorial with its incredibly long list of names for such a small place. I rang Seán and decided to stay on two days.
May 28 Tuesday (Nant Dernol): I merely walked on the mountain opposite the hostel, sat in the sun on the southwest side, dabbled in the stream where it was a foot deep, and generally lazed the day away. I am feeling very much better thanks to the week off, and perhaps when I get back will be able to resume on the old scale. Seán told me that Tony Coughlan and Pat Bond have read the proofs of “Tone” for literals, so there will be one chore less when I get back.
May 29 Wednesday (Salop): I left Nant Dernol at about 11.30 and cycled to Llanidloes, Newtown, Llandyssul and Church Stoke to Bridges. There I was followed by a thirty-year-old Cockney who had tried to attach himself to me at a cafe in Church Stoke. I know he was a stupid from the lordly metropolitan tone he adopted to the waitress, a young girl of not more than eighteen, who would care absolutely nothing for it. The impression was confirmed when after ten minutes he was draping himself in long trousers, as I guessed to go to a public house – and guessed right. He told me he was doing two jobs; had his own business and worked at night as well, rose at 6.30 am., finished work at 11 pm. He was “not doing too badly”, with one week’s cycling holiday for himself, one with wife and children, and one looking after the children while his wife had her private week.
May 30 Thursday (London): There was a thunderstorm early in the morning and the morning was cold and drizzly. I cycled to Shrewsbury, caught the 10.45 – this excellent line is to be closed by big-business Beeching – and was in the office at 2.45. Seán has been doing quite well while I was away. And later Toni appeared.
May 31 Friday (London): The last of the books were taken away by Melker’s man. The Connolly Association has made about £25 on the sale [a fund-raising special book sale]. Chris Sullivan was in the office all day, and in came Joe Deighan and Dorothy Deighan – JD is coming to London but has allowed himself to be deluded (possibly willingly) into the belief that he can play an active part in Irish politics while living at Southend-on-Sea!
June 1 Saturday (London): A letter from Phyllis announced her intention of going to Southsea next week, since Mary Greaves is ill [his paternal aunt], and Phyllis wants to see for herself whether it is serious or not. She wants me to go down and meet her there.
June 5 Wednesday (Portsmouth): I went to Portsmouth – despite the pressure in the Democratoffice, not improved by Seán Redmond’s non-appearance on Whit Monday, when a meeting had been advertised – and found Mary Greaves a little better than when I saw her a few weeks ago. But she can scarcely eat and will die of slow starvation if nothing can be done. Phyllis was very upset, and indeed my main reason for going when she was there was that the dangers of her becoming overwrought and driving that mad car of hers into a wall on the way home, would thereby be diminished. This is how brick loosens brick and so the wall is brought down. I would have visited Mary Greaves next week. But as it is, it was as well. Certainly the winter has wrought a serious change in her, the more noticeable since her voice has become shrill – due to a partial paralysis of muscles of the larynx, I am informed.
June 10 Monday (London): Unexpectedly Joe Deighan came in the morning. Dorothy would not come into the office. She was furious at my not applauding her plan to carry off Joe into the wilds of Southend-on-Sea. But apparently he had taken other advice and it had coincided with mine. So presumably their minds will be made up this coming week. A change will do him no harm, since he has been showing some signs of staleness of late. But a sojourn in the wilderness is not the way to cure it.
June 11 Tuesday (London): Lest our task become too easy Lipton told us he could not speak in Trafalgar Square next Sunday [for the Wolfe Tone commemoration which the Connolly Association held there each year] owing to the failure of his broken ankle to recover in time. Seán frantically wired and phoned Clements, Allaun, Zilliacus, Leslie Lever, Michael Foot [Richard Clements edited the leftwing weekly “Tribune; the others were Labour Party MPs] – all without avail. Add to this that Fitt [ie. Gerry Fitt, then MP for Dock in Stormont] has a slipped disc and is hesitant. And Manchester are dropping and changing their delegation with every post. But Tom Redmond, who is managing it, at least keeps us informed. His wife Aine, on the other hand, is now pressing him strongly to reduce (that is of course ultimately to cease) his activity in politics. According to current claptrap the woman inspires the man to great deeds. I have many many times more often seen the opposite. On the contrary, indeed, man has enslaved woman for three thousand years, and she revenges herself every minute of his life by linking him to what he has made her. So it is no use complaining – the new man and the new woman appear simultaneously in history.
June 13 Thursday (London): Sean tried Ben Parkin who said that Campbell had died, the MP for South Belfast, and that he could not possibly stand on an Anti-Partition platform and have his action turned against the Northern Ireland Labour Party. So he claims in Paddington to be against partition. In Belfast he is for it! We think that when Tony Greenwood went to Belfast recently he was well indoctrinated. However, Seán managed to get hold of Illtyd Harrington, who consented to speak. He will contest Wembley North at the next election – a Tory seat. I learn he has grown a beard, presumably for the only reason anybody would take the trouble, to give a false impression of himself.
June 14 Friday (London): We learned that Fitt is coming. Hostettler also agreed. So we have our platform.
June 15 (London): A telephone call from Jack Bennett – what a thing. Fitt, the MP, wants to come but hasn’t the money and nobody will lend it him. So we have to wire him £10 at 5 pm., which gets there just before the Post Office closes at 6 pm. He will fly in the morning. Then Parkin agrees with bad grace to meet him at the House of Commons on Tuesday, and wants Seán there too, presumably to dilute him. Tom Redmond and the others arrived, Pat McNally from Birmingham, but Michael Crowe (the professor!) missed the Manchester ‘bus. All day we were hectically painting posters and fixing banners and Roy and Frank Small toured London with a loudspeaker. The weather forecast is rain.
June 16 Sunday (London): It rained during the Executive Committee in the morning and more was predicted for the afternoon. But it did not come. So everything was a success. The demonstration was most colourful, with 36 flags, in the single colours of green, white and orange, banners of the four provinces and two new big banners. I took occasion as chairman to warn the Labour Party that there remain a number of young Irishmen who wait in the bitterness of frustration and defeat the opportunity for a fresh insurrection. I said I hoped that such an event would not happen. But if Labour fails Ireland then Labour will be more at fault than the Irish rebels. I hope it sank in to those present. It will of course not be reported on any newspaper.
We learned that Dorothy Deighan had “refused” to go to Southend, and of course it is all my fault! But an alternative has appeared in Goodmays, so they may take that. There was a social evening to which Margot Parrish came. She told me that in her opinion little more need be done for Africa, and that now those who believe in freeing the nations must concentrate on Ireland and Wales. She spends all her time now with Plaid Cymru – I hope I have the spelling right – and that they still speak of the time they walked in one of our processions to the square and to their amazement I thanked them in Welsh! Apparently it made an enormous impression on them. She was pleased that I was giving some attention to the question. She joined the Connolly Association and offered her technical services. I learned afterwards that her boyfriend is Irish, which is an additional reason. She is a very capable woman, with a dash of romanticism, and not all logic, but an invaluable addition. She and Shiela O’Brien made such a hullabaloo with their Kenya Committee that members of the House of Lords were demanding their suppression!
June 17 Monday (London): I had a letter from Cahir Healy thanking me for telling him what passed at the NCCL and concurring in my opinion that the NILP [Northern Ireland Labour Party] had been up to their tricks. He expressed himself very favourably on the subject of Betty Sinclair who had shown him the agenda. He agreed with me that Labour is too near to office for the NCCL to do anything! I wrote to Betty Sinclair and told her what he had said. Fitt told me yesterday that Healy is ageing rapidly. A pity, for he is a real character.
I spoke to Joe Deighan on the telephone. He said Fitt told him that Diamond [Harry Diamond, MP for Belfast Falls in the Stormont Parliament, in which Fitt represented Dock] advised him not to come to London to speak on our platform but that he disregarded the advice. We noted with great satisfaction that (according to the Daily Worker) the Northern Ireland CP has at long last declared plainly against partition. We can claim to have contributed to this result.
Margot Parrish rang in the morning saying she was very impressed by the demonstration and offering to do technical work for us. I suggested she replace Roy Johnston who is returning to Ireland.
June 20 Thursday (London): Caughey rang asking us if we could get an MP to act as observer at their demonstration for release of the remaining Republican prisoners, which they will hold on June 28th. Seán Redmond rang Brockway’s secretary and learned they had tried hard without success. So we suggested Hostettler.
In the evening I gave the Wolfe Tone memorial lecture. Margot Parrish was there, and Barbara Ruhemann. It was more or less decided that Margot would take over the work Roy Johnston has been doing , and so (if the arrangement works) there is a difficult problem solved by a lucky accident. Barbara Ruhemann had her son with her, a huge fellow of about twentyfive – so that is how the time goes. When I first remember her it would be about 25 years ago, and she was a fresh, lively attractive young woman. She has retained most of the first three – but can’t defeat the clock. There were quite a few people there who do not usually come to our functions and most people pronounced the evening a success. I learned that 80 copies of “Wolfe Tone” were sold in the Square.
June 22 Saturday (Nottingham): Sean went to Coventry and Birmingham in the morning, I to Nottingham in the afternoon. Joe Whelan [CA member in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, a leading mining trade unionist there] and I distributed some leaflets. We ended up in a public house in which two Dublin men, one from Dundrum and a countryman in appearance, the other the city type, run the Shamrock Club. They are extremely friendly and Joe thinks there is the hope of bringing some of them into the CA. I doubt it would accomplish much as every Saturday and Sunday night is given over to boozing.
June 23 Sunday (Nottingham): I went into the city in the morning to kill time after handing out leaflets for the evening’s meeting. Nottingham is pleasant enough and time can be killed there. I went to the banks of the Trent – an open space insufficiently deep to be completely satisfying. But there were boats to row or paddle or be driven in, and hundreds of fishermen catching nothing, mostly young people in leather coats and “jeans” of every hue and misfit. The army was displaying anti-aircraft rocket and had a band playing. The children swarmed over the service weapons. “Are you joining?” I heard a sergeant ask a young man with his girl. “Are you enjoying it?” the bandmaster asked a drawn-faced invalid, doubtless an ex-serviceman. A student commented to his friends, “My friend Christopher is joining the RAF. I told him the one thing he’d never have to do anymore is to think for himself.” I would not imagine they got many recruits. They were too polite to be doing well. In the evening we held quite a successful meeting. Andy Tierney was there – he has put on much flesh and I hardly recognised him. Tt.Tt. Nos et mutamur in illis [We too change with the times].
June 24 Monday (London): I went to Ripley first, and then returned to London, which I did not reach till 7.45 pm. after a very indifferent and expensive meal on the “Waverley”. A tiresome expensive day, thanks to the printer not being ready for me. The type was set, but not made up and was full of errors [the old hot-metal mode of printing still prevailed].
June 25 Tuesday (London): When Elsie O’Dowling came to the office in the evening I was surprised at her casually announcing she was in receipt of an old age pension. It is incredible – she is 65! She looks under 60. Margot Parrish came and sorted out the treasurer’s work with Roy Johnston. She is about 50 and looks 40. Certainly, some of the women wear well.
June 26 Wednesday (London): Joe Deighan came in at lunchtime on his way to an interview in Goodmayes. He had lunch with us, and Peter Mulligan also appeared on the scene. Returning at 4 pm. he pronounced the flat good and convenient and thinks he will come. He then told us of the Manchester plans to stage a Wolfe Tone demonstration on 14 July, and of their desire to borrow all our flags, banners etc. But he showed his lack of grip of political nuances in proudly declaring that our slogan “An Irish Republic, one and indivisible” was not good enough for Manchester. There they are to say “Up the Republic”. Thus they tacitly subscribe to the Sinn Fein position (THE Republic being that of 1919) – and exclude English support through a slogan only significant to Irishmen. Then (bless us) he complained that our banner relating to the London Corresponding Society was not suitable for Manchester because we had mistakenly limited the thing by including the word London and depicting St. Pauls. However, in Goodmayes he should be near enough to be helpful and far enough not to spread too much confusion. The characteristic I fear most is his PERSONAL (as opposed to political) approach to everything. A word here, a word there, and personal connections like a spider’s web.
A letter came from Tony Coughlan saying that his friend Tom Bolton was coming over to work as a bus conductor, having seen an advert in a Dublin paper, his reason being that he hopes to save money to get married. He is a member of the Irish Workers Party Executive Council (too young of course, but Tony Coughlan does not think so), but none of their persuasions could alter his determination. He will call in tomorrow.
Two young people from Mayo came to the meeting and one joined.
June 27 Thursday (London): Bolton showed up in the afternoon (rather to my surprise) and told us he is attached to Reigate garage, on a country bus route. I doubt if we’ll see much of him. At the Standing Committee Pat Bond was in tantrums again. A character called O’Byrne of Waterford, an associate of the rat O’Shea from the same city, is artfully putting about the idea that the Connolly Association should exist to bring about socialism in Ireland. Pat White, the secretary, asked me to go and open a discussion on the “role of the Association”. I said at the Standing Committee that I did not propose to fall into this trap. If I did I would get the appearance of consent from O’Byrne, but when I had gone he would commence the subtle analysis of my errors and omissions in answer to his questions, framed cleverly so as to mean one thing to me and another to them. I proposed that since the role of the CA is explained in its constitution and other literature, the dissidents should put their cards on the table and state their objections. Then I could reply. Bond disliked this intensely. He has been “explaining the role” of the CA to O’Byrne for several years without grasping the simple fact that that gentleman understands it better than Bond does himself, but disapproves of it and would like to get it changed, as his friend O’Shea before him. He is a nasty foxy little man, without the flamboyant surface of O’Shea. He LOOKS like a fox, and is one.
Then Toni Curran said the financial work was getting too much for her and she is off to Sudbury (Suffolk) for the weekend. One thing after another.
June 28 Friday (London): At last I have got started on Mellows, though how I will have it ready by the end of the summer I do not know. Toni Curran and Gerry Curran went off this evening after Toni had distributed bananas, wooden bowls and strawberries as a kind of peace offering.
June 29 Saturday (London): More work on Mellows – not the least difficult part being getting my mind back on it and starting the parturition. I was out with Seán Redmond and Frank Small at night.
June 30 Sunday (London): The General Purposes Committee met to launch a more vigorous policy of recruitment for the summer. In the afternoon Sinn Fein had 126 in their parade – less than half our 3-400 a fortnight ago. They eye me with displeasure as the cause of this, while making themselves pleasant to Seán Redmond and Frank Small whom they want to suborn (and have tried to.) They consider that this is their solemn duty, while in reality their duty is to learn the first element of politics. Seán had Orangemen to contend with in Hyde Park.
July 1 Monday (London): At the meeting in the evening only Chris Sullivan, Sean Redmond, Gerry Curran and myself attended – thanks to Elsie Timbey’s thinking July did not begin till tomorrow [presumably the CA Standing Committee meeting]. But we decided on a real effort to get English people to act on the Irish Question.
July 2 Tuesday (London): Mary Greaves being still in hospital, I went to Portsmouth early, and saw her, sitting beside her bed in a ward presided over by a pleasant easygoing sister. She thinks she will accept Enid’s offer to accommodate her on her farm in Cornwall. This is perhaps the best thing. Phyllis told me on the phone that it is cancer, and that a tube has been inserted in her throat. She is astonishingly lively.
Back in London I saw Margot Parrish, formerly Gallacher’s Secretary [ie. Willie Gallacher, Scottish CPGB MP] who agreed to become one of the English people working for the freedom of Ireland. Then we had a demonstration from Nanette St. to Hyde Park. Elsie Timbey, Colm Power (lately more active), Tony Maguire, were there as well as the usuals. The meeting was a great success, despite a few Orangemen.
July 3 Wednesday (London): I was not myself today – a touch of enteritis, possibly caused by timerariously eating a sausage on the way to Portsmouth yesterday when there was nothing else on the train, or possibly by a virus. So I did not go to Dublin as intended. A young friend of Jim Andrews, McLaverty, came to the meeting – also a mustachioed Englishman with a public school accent (Woods) who was as arrogantly insolent to Seán as was possible. I have a feeling he is a fascist, but don’t know just where I have come across him before. I spoke to Declan Hobson [son of Bulmer Hobson and active in the MCF].
July 4 Thursday (London): Again I was a little indisposed, so stayed in London. Roy Johnston having resigned as treasurer and Pat Bond off the committee and as vice-president, the Standing Committee is now reduced to three, Seán Redmond, Toni Curran and myself. We decided not to enlarge it until Joe Deighan comes down in August.
July 5 Friday (Dublin): I left Euston at 8.10 and went to Holyhead. A Welsh railwayman told me that the Welsh language was dying out as a result of the large number of Englishmen moving into Wales and refusing to allow their children to learn Welsh. He did not think it was compulsory. As far as Penmaenmawr the entire coast is a litter of caravan sites. Never was there such a wanton despoliation of natural amenities. But even in Caernarvonshire wherever the sea was sandy rather than muddy, there were the spoilers. I fear however the Welsh, despite their splendid holding operation of fifteen centuries, look like breaking down in this age of villainy and genocide.
The boat was full of children and transistor radios, and empty of suitable food or drinkable beverages. I had hoped Tony Coughlan would meet me but he did not. Afterwards Cathal told me that he had gone to Cork and would not have received my letter. We set to work trying to get a car to go to Galway on Sunday. This necessity is forced on me though the closure and restriction of public transport. If I can’t get a car for Sunday I will have to use the bicycle in the middle of the week. Helga and the petits are in Germany, and Cathal will go to collect them in the second week of August.
July 6 Saturday (Dublin): I didn’t do much today – obtained Cathal’s driving license for him, a long process of queuing in Kildare St. – went to Nolan’s shop – walked with Cathal in Stephen’s Green – wrote a few letters. The plan to get a car has fallen through, so it is bicycle. I much prefer it of course, but I am short of time.
Nolan told me about the Sunday Press controversy about Connolly’s birthplace where the facts are mentioned but credit for the discovery is sedulously kept from myself. He urged me to write a letter myself. Perhaps a good idea.
July 7 Sunday (Dublin): I accomplished very little – perhaps I would have accomplished more if I had not sat up till 3 am. last night drinking and talking with Cathal. There is excellent Chianti in Dublin which keeps its quality year after year; how I don’t know. When I went to Swords at about 3.30 pm. I found the Monahans [Alf Monahan, Ailbhe O Monnchain, and his wife and daughter] were out. I went for a walk, though the day was cloudy close and damp (a sunless summer, this, so far) but on returning saw my note on the door untouched, so returned to Dublin, and spent the evening at Finglas. It is remarkable how few people I now care to call on in Dublin. I would look up the Johnstons if they were here. But Justin Keating has become the great climber, with his two cars, his maid living in the house bought with his long head while his equally long tongue gave out the humbug of buying a house so that he would have something to fall back upon if victimised for his socialist principles. These principles include touring Italy (with two cars) and keeping away from political meetings while he becomes a professor.
July 8 Monday (Dublin): I drew a blank tracing the Mellows family at the Custom House. Tony Coughlan did not appear at lunchtime, but Cathal left a note for me when I called in to collect the bicycle to go to Swords on, that he was coming tonight. I went to Swords, admired the magnificent cactus Mrs Monahan has grown, a huge thing with giant blooms flaring all over it, and talked for an hour or two. She is very anti-American and deplores the Russian-Chinese differences. They asked if the Irish in Britain were “disgracing us”, and I told them the facts. Monahan was delighted with the first “wee book”. He has suffered some diminution in income as a result of the discontinuance of Brian O’Higgins’s “Wolfe Tone Annual”. His son has “not the gift of verse”, so it stops and Monahan cannot illustrate it.
On my return Tony was waiting and Cathal’s neighbour, a decent enough man whose wife provides him with no proper company, and who therefore comes to add his chatter in the scales of Cathal’s natural indolence and thus stops Cathal even getting down to write a letter. I noted tonight the first sign that Tony is running along the centre of a track with ever so elevated sides. The trough will slowly deepen and he will later not want to escape. He had had lunch at Power’s Hotel with a Professor of French [Professor Liam O Briain of UCG, who had been out in 1916] and by telling us he “occasionally went there” with a slight apology he disclosed a hidden conflict. He will never again devote himself to the Labour Movement unless of course there is some unforseeable social upheaval. Physical castration is a quick and painful process; a political change of life creeps on imperceptibly and is usually enjoyed.
July 9 Tuesday (Kinvara): I got up at 5.30 am., went to Kingsbridge and took the 6.30 to Limerick. There, despite showers, I pressed on to Broadford and Tullow. I asked two young men the way to Belloughtra (which they pronounce without the gh) and they told me Sean Malony died last year and his widow will not be at home since a neighbour has died. But they took me up to near the cabin where Mellows hid. “That fellow who hid there,” they asked, “did he stay there four days or four weeks?” I told them it was four months. One of them said, “I always wondered how he was never caught. Anybody can see the cabin from the road”. When I reached it I found that though the roof was clearly visible from where the road passes above it, the trees which surround it form a dense thicket and there are furze and heather bushes all round. Then below it is a triangular meadow lush with scented clover, lotus and orchids which is bounded by hillocks on all sides. At the foot is a forked stream and up this hollow Malony used to bring the food. I photographed the place and its surroundings – despite showers of drizzle which once wet the lens – and cycled on to Gort and Kinvara. Since the Galway bus does not connect with the Clifden bus I must cycle in tomorrow. With some hesitation I gave up the intention of going to the Youth Hostel and stayed at an Irish Tourist Board place, very barbarous, very unsatisfactory, and not cheap. It was run by an old Clare man in aprons like a baker with the assistance of a fourteen year old girl and a young boy who seemed to do odd jobs. The ground behind was a regular dump for bottles, tins and refuse, behind which ducks quacked, hens cackled and an occasional cow lowed. I telephoned Hobson [ie. Bulmer Hobson] who expects me tomorrow. Declan is there [ie. Hobson’s son].
July 10 Wednesday (Roundstone/Lettermullen): Up again early, and with a wind behind me, I passed quickly into Galway City. The Clifden bus left at ten, and I sat next to the driver who talked the whole way. I was interested to be in Connemara again, since I have only been here once, and at that passed rapidly through part of it, since Lancaster and I came in 1939. The change is striking. Then the roads were crowded with barefooted children and houses were all along the road. Now there are no houses and no children either. At one point the driver showed me a high townland of 70 houses. “All but six are empty,” he said, “the people have locked the doors and gone away.” At Recess where Lancaster and I climbed the wee mountain (“Lissoughter” on the map) and I twisted my ankle so that I could not walk round Galway when we arrived there, the marble quarry we poked around is enclosed and working. A man called Joyce has it. He makes rough ash trays of inferior finish which he charges some extortionate sum for if the driver is to be believed. Smokers are fools to smoke so they well may be foolish enough to be rooked for ash trays. Joyce has built an incredibly vulgar shop and car park from which the lake can be “viewed” (that is what is done today) by motorists who do not wish to get out of their cars, provided they do not mind looking over the gravel he has dumped and the concrete water-closets he has constructed. The road is everywhere wider, and its embankments cut the lakes in two, tip rubbish into the water-lilies, where old cars have not been tipped. In order to sell oil the companies need to keep people moving – hence only the major features of the landscape retain importance. All else can be tin cans and chocolate wrappers.
Declan Hobson met me at the end of the lane. The house is two miles beyond Roundstone, pleasantly placed above a strand, and next to a field the local go-getter is filling with caravans. The house is a bungalow, as Declan’s sister’s two little children explained. “You can’t go upstairs because there aren’t any stairs” (age 4). She has been living in England but has now a place in Limerick. She has been living with Bulmer till she found a house and has called back again because Declan is there. The old man, eighty, is healthy and ruddy complexioned, rather like McCartan in approach: “de vivis nil nisi bonum” with a few notable exceptions [concerning the living nothing unless good]. As for the dead, especially the glorious dead, they do not get off so lightly. Brian O’Higgins was a “barman in Dublin who took to hawking round patriotic verses.” Tom Clarke had no brains and travelled along “railway tracks”. Mellows was “sincere but dull and had an irritating habit of facetiousness”, which led to Hobson and O’Riain excluding him from their walks. “He hadn’t much in him,” said Bulmer. He met Tom Johnson first at a meeting of the Belfast Ethical Society, a mixum-gatherum of no-sayers of all kinds, which as a nervous youth of 18 he addressed on the “national movement”. He was “sat on” by everybody and felt very dejected when Cummings, a clever speaker who drank too much, defended him. The old IRB men were far gone in drink, and that is why he and McCullough in rejuvenating that organisation insisted on sobriety. That was also maybe why with the excellent lunch Declan’s sister served, we had Bulmers’s “Cydona” a non-alcoholic beverage that tastes like cider! Of Connolly Hobson spoke sympathetically but respectfully. In 1911 Connolly had asked him to give up the National Movement and devote himself to Labour. He declined. Then in 1914 or thereabouts he was the object of much suspicion from Labour. O’Casey in his history of the Citizen Army describes him as a bitter enemy of the Labour Movement. This is completely untrue. It is also untrue that the IRB instructed its members not to devote too much attention to supporting the strikes of 1913. The IRB was a much looser organisation than is usually believed, with mostly circle meetings and no caucus discipline. He was quite within his rights in voting for the inclusion of Redmond’s nominees. He resigned because MacDermott, an ex-Hibernian with a gift for intrigue, having replaced him as Tom Clarke’s mentor, was determined not to work with him. Next day in the shop Clarke asked how much he was paid for selling out. He did not know about the Rising, nor did Denis McCullough. He did not think he was bound to support something contrary to his convictions when there had been no democratic decision taken. The military council usurped the function of the Supreme Council, and this was unconstitutional. I have made notes elsewhere of this and other things.
He is now slightly deaf, though hale and hearty. He seems to be the “Tom Johnson” of the national movement; though without much respect for Johnson’s brains. He still feels it that he was “ostracised” after the 1916 since there is no doubt that he and other Belfast Protestants were at the heart of the revival from 1907 onwards.
I went back by bus to Maam Cross, then cycled to Lettermore and stayed at the hostel. Three Belfast boys signed themselves in as “British” and left all their pots dirty to advertise their adopted nationality. There were scooters from Dublin and two car drivers who arrived back from the pub at 12 and climbed and thumped to bed at 2.30 am. The youths and girls were pleasant enough but extremely limited in outlook. Their sole interest was the speed they could achieve in passing from destination to destination, and rapidly. These vary only in their names, and the succession of roadsigns, advertisements and petrol pumps is the same on each route. All quality is being sucked out of existence and the young generation shows an intellectual poverty similar to that of my own contemporaries and with both more and less excuse! I think only a social transformation that does away with the profit motive can alter this, and I must have a sharper go at profit in the Democrat.
July 11 Thursday (Dublin): It was mild and intermittently sunny. I splashed about in the sea off the outermost island, sat on the grainy sand dunes to dry and get bitten by ticks. A damn nuisance. But they ere not so charged with viruses seemingly as their Scotch cousins, perhaps from the absence of sheep, and once pulled out did not irritate much. I then cycled to Galway along the coast road. What destruction! This Gaeltacht will be gone in 20 years. The whole coastal strip will be a caravan park owned by English people. Possibly the part beyond Costello can be saved. The caravans have reached Barna. In the pub in Spiddal where I took a glass of stout, the old women talked Irish between themselves but spoke to the bartender in English. Again there seemed to be no local children. Galway City is becoming like an English holiday resort. Once Salthill was a suburb of Galway. Now Galway is a suburb of Salthill. “Prosperity” – for the motor firms, emigration for the people. I caught the 3.50 pm. from Galway and sat up late again with Cathal.
July 12 Friday (Dublin): I paid a final visit to Alf Monahan at Swords in the evening and made quite substantial progress in sorting out the information he had. Then I returned to Dublin and Tony Coughlan came in. Another late night.
July 13 Saturday (Manchester): Late night or not, I was up in time for the Mail Train, and its wretched boat to Holyhead – all children and squawking transistors. I reached Manchester at about 7 pm. and saw Joe Deighan, Tom Redmond and the others. The Deighans complain that Aine Redmond is “going Bohemian” and trying to draw Tom out of politics. There was a party which began at midnight and went on till 5 am., which Joe Deighan protested about without evoking much response.
July 14 Sunday (Manchester): The parade planned to commemorate Tone met at Platt Fields in very dull drizzly weather, such indeed has been the rule since mid-June. Nevertheless about 75 people walked plus a huge band. Seán Redmond arrived, Tom Redmond spoke and a few others. Tommy Watters was there, very benign and affable, and Jimmy McGill, who is collecting books with a view to starting a second hand shop. By all accounts he is nearly ready to start trading. Then there was Eddie Lenihan, one of the oldest members, an associate of Seamus Barrett the Fenian, who is now about 60 years old but seriously ill – I suspect cancer of the lung since he smokes like a chimney. Tom Redmond was there but not Aine, which was duly noted for what it might imply – at the very least a material slackening in her interest in the thing. Joe Deighan told us he intends to settle in London on August 19th, a suitable place, one minute from the station, and two minutes from the Mental Hospital having been found [Deighan was a professional pharmacist who dispensed drugs].
July 15 Monday (London): I had left the bicycle at Chester. Seán came there with me – on the old GCR line that will no doubt soon close, and we walked across the city and took it to Crewe and caught a Liverpool train. Toni Curran came into the office, reported all well except for finance. But Pat Bond who has resigned from the Standing Committee, somewhat in the fashion of a soldier buying himself out of the army, has offered to settle all the outstanding debts of the CA.
July 16 Tuesday (London): The first event of the day began at 12.10 am. and ended at 12.17. A telephone call. A gruff voice, obviously after drink. “Who’s that?” “Jim Prendergast.” Then a series of maudlin compliments. “You are doing such marvellous work. I want to come and talk with you. I’ve thrown up the sponge. You’re producing definitive work. So I’m prepared to follow you,” and so on. I said I was prepared to meet him, but preferably in the daytime. He rang off without altering his vein.
Later we discussed this new development. Gerry Curran told me that quite recently Prendergast had begun his usual complaining against me and that Tom Leonard had cut him short and refused to listen. So the conversion is recent. I think it dates to this weekend’s visit of Hugh Moore from Belfast. Elsie believes on no account accept his membership as he will set the young people drinking. I think we should permit him to “follow” provided it is at a safe distance – and outside the organisation. I anticipate no difficulty with the Committee. They like me are sick and tired of the long succession of intrigues he has either initiated, sponsored or encouraged.
July 17 Wednesday (London): A busy day I spent on the paper. About seven o’clock Gerry Curran and Toni Curran came into the office with the news that Gerry has given up his job because he was tired of it. Why now? For no reason but perhaps that he has fallen into one of his periodical fits of neurasthenia.
July 18 Thursday (Dublin): I caught the morning train and the day boat to Dun Laoire, and found Cathal engaged in washing the delph from last week – he has been working till late each night and eating in his factory canteen. Cyril, from next door, was coming to have a drink with us but his wife objected; so we went alone and had a meal instead. The joke is that while that good lady blames Cathal for bringing him out of the house, I blame him for preventing Cathal doing some of the things he could! As we returned we found him in his car with another neighbour. He had escaped.
July 19 Friday (Dublin): It was a wet intermittently drizzly day. I did a little work on my notes in the morning, then called on Sean Nolan at his shop. He had just sold a copy of my life of Connolly, which was to be presented to the Russian delegate to the Chemical Congress in Dublin. He thought the rumpus in the Dail yesterday was merely a diversion created by Fianna Fail to throw people off the scent till they had their unpopular turnover tax imposed. Apropos of the four young men caught in Waterford yesterday he thought the country would not stand for another round of border raids. He directed me to Hilda Allberry, who now works in the Russian bookshop in Kildare St. I called there but she could do no typing for me. She has given up that sideline. I asked if she had deserted Bill O’Brien who was writing his memoirs with her technical aid – plus Cathal O’Shannon, plus tape-recorders, plus mountains of material both purchased and filched. “He’s given ME up,” said she “not the other way round”. So the world is to be deprived of a historical insight into one of the most treacherous and involuted minds of the century. And then, believe it or not, O’Brien himself rang her up to say his game leg had folded up under him and he was waiting for the doctor.
I bought a bicycle pump at “MacHugh Himself’s”, a copy of the issue of “Irish Historical Studies” containing MacNeill’s document and returned to Finglas. Later I went to see Rita Brady, whom I showed the Mellows birth certificates to. She could not help further over the mystery of Leek, but she is convinced the PJ Mellows of Thoms is in fact FJ Mellows. He is a shadowy recollection to the whole family. The Leek Assurance Society letter is full of errors, and perhaps Pedlar is not very careful. She was definite that Mellows was with her mother for three years as a baby and as evidence gave the story of how he had fine curly flaxen hair and her mother had one lock kept in an envelope for years. The day he was executed and the telegram came, she picked it up and threw it in the fire. Second, she thinks that Herbert was definitely in Cork, where he had rheumatic fever. She thinks the family were in barracks there, and that possibly Liam went from Annadale Avenue, not to Cork but to his aunt (Rita Brady’s mother) in Macayle. The Kavanaghs are still there. I noted with some wry interest that though Rita Brady is a good Fianna Fail supporter in Irish politics, and considers herself a product of “the movement”, she strongly disagrees with the London demonstrations against the Greek Royal family, and is prepared to buy the Sunday Express for the sake of a serialised life of members of the British one.
July 20 Saturday (Dublin): It couldn’t be said that I got far today. I did however visit a number of bookshops and sent the purchases to London.
July 21 Sunday (Dublin): Again little happened. Those I telephoned were out, so I came back to Finglas and did some preparatory work on the book. It is beginning to shape itself better in my mind.
July 22 Monday (Dublin): I rang MacHenry whom Rita Brady had told me of, then Eamon Martin. Before going to see him I met Tom Redmond and Aine, who start their cycling holiday tomorrow. Tom thinks Joe Deighan’s move to London coincides with a desire for a less strenuous life. But I am not sure. They have arranged a great social evening to see him off on the 15th. I saw Martin at 2.15 and remained till 3.30. He told me that he saw Mellows sworn into the IRB on a mountainside in Glencree, at Easter 1912. But last time he told me he “sounded” him on this date. He also insists that Mellows did not come into Clarke’s shop till late 1911, and was in the IRB within months. When expressing his opinion of my discussions with Hobson he said that all the attacks ever made on Hobson were totally unjustified. In his opinion the 1916 rising was “daft” and its success was made by the British folly of the executions. This is a widespread opinion and corresponds to the modern temper of the bourgeoise.
Later I met Tom and Aine again, in Bewleys. Cathal went to Howth with Cyril and the lad who used to live next door but one. I met MacHenry and Joe Valentine at Groom’s Hotel – and didn’t an ex-Fianna Fail ex-TD from Donegal plant himself next to us to drink and talk. MacHenry suggested we go for a drive in his car and he took us to Portrane opposite Lambay island, where we saw on the strand a huge room with some fifty or sixty young men (16-20) amusing themselves. This was a boys’ club run by a Lieut.Col.McCabe (retired) whose career was chequered indeed. He joined the Fianna in Camden St. around 1912, and that year went with Liam Mellows and his brother to start the Dolphin’s Barn Sluagh. When the war came seemingly he joined the British Army – I am uncertain whether before or after 1916 – and became Sgt. Major. In 1922 he deserted and joined the garrison in the Four Courts, but after that returned, gave himself up (for economic reasons say MacHenry and Valentine), lost his rank and was sent to the North West Frontier [in India]. Through slow degrees he re-established himself and remaining active in the last war attained the rank of Lt.Col. and was awarded the MBE. He thought he could unearth Mellows’s father’s story from Regimental records, since there were friends of his well placed in the army. MacHenry was very keen on establishing that Mellows received absolution before he died. “If there’s any communism in this country, it’s due to that”, he said, “Communism” being presumably refusal to attend Mass, as he knew several who showed it that way. McCabe told us that Sean Cronin and another of the IRA approached him a few years ago to ask if he would establish a battle school. He went into the Wicklow mountains for a week and made the arrangements. When he gave them his plan they said, “Do you think people who work all day could do this?” “We did,” he replied, “and we got no money from America either. We had to buy our own hot water bottles and everything.” But they refused his advice. “They wanted something softer,” he commented. He was convinced that Mellows was at the military school in Phoenix Park. It was midnight before I got home.
One thing I forgot. McCabe, they say, is a daily communicant. He told us that he gave a subscription to the Prisoners’ Aid. He “confessed” this. “I’ve a paper here,” said the priest, “which prevents me giving you absolution.” “Very good,” McCabe commented “no more subscriptions. I’m getting too near my time.” So that is what the Republicans have to contend with. Finally, two things were agreed at MacHenry’s suggestion: first, that he arranges a gathering of Mellows’s old associates, second that I arrange a trip to see Fr Piggott in Arklow. He will drive us out.
July 23 Tuesday (Dublin): I spent the day rather reflectively. I rang Sean Nunan who last year said he had some Mellows letters, but now he sounded doubtful. Then I was with Peadar O’Donnell – met his wife for the first time, a very pleasant woman, and he and I then drove to Howth to escape the appalling traffic congestion. We talked rather generally about the peace movement, its tactics now internationally somewhat disarrayed, and the prospects of his efforts to save the small farms of Donegal. He promised to look into the herring question for Scotland. Canning, he says, cannot be done on a small scale. Later I called in to Tony Coughlan in the Meath Hospital. Nobody would believe he had an operation yesterday [an appendectomy]. He was sitting in front of a tray packed with marmaladed toast and was drinking tea in copious draughts, reading Ryan’s “Rising”. He had rung Fr Pigott all last week without success. I wrote him a letter therefore and said I would ring on Thursday. On my return Cathal was writing all the letters he has had on the long finger!
July 24 Wednesday (Dublin): I had another frustrating day at the end of which I was in half a mind to write the book on what I’ve got and not try to paint the lily. I was tired and got up late. I went to the Public Record office in the Four Courts to look for the Dublin Gazette which I had been led to believe years ago by P.O’Hegarty contained particulars of postings of British Regiments in Ireland. The girl behind the counter said that much had been destroyed in 1922 – “and quite rightly” she added, then catching herself on, explaining, “after all life comes before documents.” She brought in a middle-aged man who knew little and finally they brought in Miss Griffiths, a woman of 55 – 60, with a very Protestant manner – I do not know if she is one. She explained they “happened” to have “a few” copies that “came their way” but they did not normally cater for such enquiries. However, she took me up to the room where they lay – years of bound volumes thick with dust and stuck to the varnish of the shelves from having never been moved. When I opened them I saw that O’Hegarty had been wrong. British Army postings are not to be found in them. So all the trouble was for nothing.
I then learned the National Library was closed for the holidays. Thinking that at any rate I would try something, I rang Joe Reynolds, found he was out, but went to the Press Office and saw him. I was quite shocked at his physical deterioration during the year. I suggested a conversation tomorrow at Bewleys at 2.30 – “make it three,” he said “outside Bewleys.” The public houses close from 2 to 3; so now though I must be resigned to buying him drink, my problem is how to avoid taking it myself. Fortunately, Guinness’s have put on the market a lager called “Harp” that Roy assures me (and he works at Park Royal) has less alcohol in it than almost anything except pure water. I do not think I will learn much.
In the evening I called in to Tony Coughlan and found him tete-a-tete with a German girl who is a nurse in Cappagh. No doubt she is improving the shining moment and it is lucky for him that his confinement is short and that he is away to Cork and London. However, persistency was never lacking in a courting woman so Tony, after making so much fuss about the “bitch” who “kidnapped” Bolton, may be taken some kind of prisoner himself!
July 25 Thursday (Dublin): Today was not so tiresome. I worked on the chronology of the last period in the morning and went into town in time to meet Joe Reynolds outside Bewley’s. I wronged him grievously in my comments yesterday. He appeared spruce and vigorous and said that he had had a spell of ill health and is not allowed to touch alcohol. Apparently I mistook the Dublin carelessness of working attire for the inattention of old age. Apparently, however, yesterday was an off day for him. We talked for about an hour. He can throw no light on the Leek mystery but recalls that in 1924 or thereabout a young man called Mellowes (with the extra e) called to see Barney and described himself as his cousin from Lancashire. He spoke with a broad accent which recalled the comedienne “Gracie Fields”. I saw Rita Brady later and she recalled that years later two young people who were on their honeymoon came from England and introduced themselves as of the Mellows family. It seems also we must place Mellows’s stay in Wexford around 1894 – 96 since Rita Brady’s parents were married in 1897 and when they were so, Mrs Corcoran had to be recalled from Bradford to look after the old people. The widow only died in 1918 at the age of 98! I succeeded in making contact with Fr Pigott who invited me down tomorrow. Later I rang MacHenry and wired McCabe. Pigott seemed delighted at the prospect of meeting McCabe again. He explained why he had not answered my letter a year ago: “I lost the blooming thing”. Finally, I went in to see Tony Coughlan who had had no visitors today. He thinks he will be released on Monday and says he feels well enough to walk gaily out. I advised him to take a taxi. During the day I spoke on the telephone to Seán Noonan who read out a letter in Mellows’s handwriting to me. It was not of great significance.
July 26 Friday (Dublin): I met MacHenry and McCabe outside Groom’s and we drove to Bray, Rathnew and Arklow. After lunch in Arklow at the hotel they patronise every December 8th, we called on Mrs O’Hanlon at Castletown and then sought an “old postman” whom we finally located at Gorey where I was introduced to the “chief citizen”, a Mr Funge who is the leading light in attracting such events as the Fleadh Ceoil to the town. The postman, Byrne, was working at haymaking at the most inaccessible point along a road beset with tinkers and tinkers’ children. He remembered Mellows – “a dreary fellow; would always be reading a lot of bloody ould books”. Barney by contrast was one after his own heart. He, like MacHenry and McCabe, is a staunch Fianna Fail man, as is betokened by his well-saved hay and well-kept horses. All three held an indignation meeting over Oliver Flanagan’s outbursts in the Dail and so we parted, but not till he observed that the Fleadh Ceoil last year was the first gathering to exceed that of the 1798 Centenary meeting when the monument was unveiled.
In conversation we discovered how rapidly the most attractive sites are being bought up by English and German investors both for tourism and residence. Then we made back for Arklow. Father Pigott was sitting on a seat in the garden of the parochial house – a finely built edifice surrounded by ferns and araucarias. He greeted us hospitably and presented McCabe with the book he had just finished reading. Then we were entertained quite royally to tea complete with salmon (NOT poached from the local river we were assured) and strawberries. Fr Pigott gave me the story of Mellows’s last hours – not, I imagine, with the total possible fullness, but fully enough. “I think,” said MacHenry, “that the story that Mellows died without the last rites of the church is the cause of any communism there is in this country.”
“Pooh, no,” said the priest, “it’s only an excuse”.
Something of a wit in his way, he complained of overwork. “There are eight primary schools in the parish and three secondary, and who have I got to help me? Forty nuns and four and a half curates.”
He was cock-a-hoop at having bought the local dancehall for £13,000 though he has not yet disclosed his ownership. He suffers competition from a commercial concern which specialises in “the twist”– a silly craze that for some obscure reason is regarded as a little outré. This concern enticed his musicians away. An Arklow man can get away with anything. The town is growing and prosperous. He wants to encourage sports. He asked McCabe, a physical training instructor in the British Army, to come to Arklow and do it for him. Then he returned to the Dance Hall. “I have to make money for the glory of God,” he declared. He gave some experiences of attending to men about to be executed, saying that the English hangman had said it was a pleasure to come to Ireland, as the victims went to their doom so quietly. “In England they have to be dragged out,” he said. Fr Pigott attributed this difference to the Catholic faith. “We believe in God and we believe in a hereafter,” MacHenry explained. So there they were arguing over which set of illusions made men more willing to endure extinction without protest. I found the subject little edifying. We left Arklow at about 8 pm., stopped at Woodenbridge where I made notes, had a puncture at Rathnew, and finally reached Dublin at about 11.30 pm.
July 27 Saturday (Dublin): I went in to see Tony Coughlan in hospital. Cathal had been there yesterday. He is now becoming bored in the extreme and appreciates our visits. He expects to go to Cork on Tuesday. I also saw Nolan and learned later that Bill Laughlin is here.
July 28 Sunday (Dublin): After calling in to see Tony Coughlan for a few minutes Cathal and I went by bus to Enniskerry and walked through Glencree to Rathfarnham. I spoke to Sean on the phone yesterday, and today I wrote saying I anticipated staying here till August 13. He told me that Des Logan has shown signs of activity again.
July 29 Monday (Dublin): Another frustrating day in which nothing was achieved. I saw Tony Coughlan in hospital. He will be out tomorrow.
July 30 Tuesday (Dublin): I discovered to my dismay that the National Library will be closed till August 12th. I therefore wired Sean Redmond that I would return to London on Thursday. That means coming back here again. I spent a good part of the day telephoning people that were not available or had just gone out. I rang Eamon Martin three times; the CIE, looking for Percy Reynolds (mentioned in the letter of Mellows that Noonan read me), and many more. I did get speaking to Tony Woods. Even Nolan was not in his shop, which was occupied by a young lad I took to be one of Frank Edwards’s youngsters. Edwards is the chief leftist, Tony Coughlan tells me, while Carmody is now pressing the National line. So time brings its transformations.
July 31 Wednesday (Dublin): Once more everything went wrong. I was unable to contact Eamon Martin – almost I suspect he is avoiding me, so monotonous is the reply that he is out but is expected back. The latter camouflages the former. I met Frank Edwards, and had a conditional promise of discussion from Liam Deasy, and appointments for next week with Roddy Connolly and Tony Woods. Cathal is packing, which is to say that after having done every conceivable thing but pack for the past two weeks, he suddenly realises there is no escape! What an opposite to Roy Johnston, who kept Tony Coughlan on tenterhooks while he debated the cheapest way of getting back to Dublin. First, he informed Tony that having made a dreadful sacrifice by accepting a lower salary to get back to Ireland, he must reluctantly request Tony to get somebody in to share the basement flat and so pay a higher rent. Tony’s rent was not based, as is fashionable now, on his own means but on Roy’s needs! Then Roy changed his mind. The Fitzgeralds [actor Jim Fitzgerald and his wife Chris and their two children], who have the ground floor, would move into the basement so Tony must be out by the end of July [A.Coughlan rented the basement of Roy Johnston’s house at 22 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, when he came to work in Dublin in autumn 1961]. When I saw him on Monday Tony told me that Roy had written saying he would not come till the end of August. Tony, having learned his tricks, told him he was vacating it at the end of July [when he went to share a flat with his then friend and fellow Corkonian, Michael O’Leary, later TD and Labour Party leader, in Aughrim Street, Stoneybatter]. Meanwhile Roy had asked Cathal for the use of his house for the period Cathal is away. Cathal consented. Then he learned that Mairín might be coming for one night – last night. But she did not show up. The conclusion? That Tony having vacated, she went in. For Roy pursues money not with the passion of the entrepreneur, but with the obsession of the miser. The time he must waste working out every farthing seems to him no loss. And of course, he will never accomplish anything of importance, although he has considerably ability in science – though not in politics.
I spent the evening working on my notes. The search for primary material is the devil. When I did Wolfe Tone I surrounded myself with a file of some fifty books and set to work extracting and collating. Now I seem to interview a hundred eye-witnesses and extract nothing but contradictions!
August 1 Thursday (Dublin/London): I left early – before Cathal was up – and caught the day boat after the usual series of delays and incompetences. The train arrived nearly two hours late. Toni Curran telephoned me at home and told me she and Sean Redmond had gone to Euston but had missed me. Then Roy Johnston rang up and we all met at the office. Roy goes back to Ireland on Tuesday to take up his post with Aer Lingus. He wants to talk with everybody about his “role” there. But he is incapable of pursuing single-mindedly a political course of action, let alone originating one. So I made no suggestions. And in any conflict between his duty and his interests or convenience his interests or convenience are likely to win. Still he is not the worst.
[ an An Oige photograph of Desmond Greaves is inserted in the original MS here, dated 30 July 1963]
August 2 Friday (London): I spoke to Fiona during the day. Anna Munro died last year – we did not know – and left us £5. This was a nice thought from a great old woman. Fiona told me Nora is unwell and would like me to call on her.
August 3 Saturday (London): Cathal arrived at 6 am. – his train was early! He brought correspondence including my An Oige card (photograph above) and then set off for Germany after walking round some of his familiar stamping ground of 1954. The weather turned cool but close and humid. Whenever there is going to be a Bank Holiday, weather forecasters turn coy and promise fine weather in the vaguest way, lest they lose the monopolies’ money by keeping people at home.
August 4 Sunday (London): What a miserable wet day – after the usual sunshine broadcasts. Frank Small and I tried a meeting in Finsbury Park, and Sean Redmond succeeded in Hyde Park. Peter Mulligan and I held one at Arlington Rd. where yesterday the police told Sean Redmond to discontinue one. Sean retaliated by taking photographs of cars which were illegally parked and which the police had neglected to move. Today an officer with two stars appeared at the close of the meeting and was as ingratiating as is possible for a profession whose every other word contains an implied sneer. These gentlemen are mostly experts in innuendo. “I don’t think I know your organisation,” he remarked. “I think some of your boys do,” said I, to which there was no reply. Inter alia he treated us to the interesting observation that he could tell an Irishman anywhere and that some of them were shaped like Guinness bottles! I enquired whether they were expected to take that as a compliment or not. Again there was no reply. In the evening it rained so we could do nothing.
August 5 Monday (London): There was quite a good meeting in Hyde Park. The “Irish Workers Forum” rats were there also. They were until recently the “Irish Socialist Republican League”, formerly “Irish Workers’ Union”, formerly McQuaid, Donovan, Callanan and, to seal the continuity, the notorious Andy O’Neill recently spoke from their platform. Today they announced their discovery that during the war I was nothing less than a “recruiting sergeant” for the British Army. This tit-bit of slander came from Mr Lawless, the self-confessed spy, chancer and confidence man. In the evening Sean Redmond and I went up to Kilburn but not with great effect.
August 6 Tuesday (Dublin): I returned to Dublin, meeting one of the Longford Connolly boys on the boat – which member of this vast family of twins and triplets I am sorry to be unable to record! The father, one time in our West London Branch, has recovered from tuberculosis and is back in Longford. Ned is in Rath Luirc [Charleville], Co. Cork, doing very well in his electrical business for which he has bought a van. Peadar and Paudeen are still in Nottingham, with Tom and one or two more. The train and boat were both late so that when I arrived the shops were closed in the centre of the city. I cycled up to Cathal’s, left the bicycle, and returned to Cathedral St. for a meal. There I found the horse-show crowds had eaten them out of house and home.
August 7 Wednesday (Dublin): I worked on the book in the morning, fell asleep in the afternoon, and called on Alfie White in St. Peter’s Place at about 5 pm. He thought he would never see me again – I returned his MS after so long a spell. He has quite a collection of material given him by Countess Markievicz, including a painting done (he says) in Holloway Jail. He told me about her daughter’s tearing up much of her mother’s materials. She was brought up at Lissadell where Jocelyn cared little for his sister’s Nationalist pranks, as he thought them. I told White about the daughter in London around the end of the war. She was so fond of whiskey that she sold all her mother’s furniture to Steve Farrelly, who had been set up as a second hand dealer by Ben Owens. He told me that the Fianna Ard Fheis minutes were seized by police from Eamon Martin’s shop. They could have ended up in the Dail Library, formerly the Chief Secretary’s library. When he worked in the Corporation on the engineering staff a friend used to lend him books from it. One such was a story of the Invincibles (Tynan – No. 1) and the man who had prosecuted them had had it cut up, interleaved with blank sheets, and rebound. The blank sheets had been filled with the most copious annotations. He wondered if this would still be there.
White is a jovial soul with none of the heavy piety of MacHenry. Yet he is a pillar of the St. Vincent de Paul, a meeting of which he was attending this evening. He expressed the view that Hobson was a man of outstanding intellect who would have come to the top in any decent society. The reaction against his allowing in the Redmondites in 1914 was out of all proportion. Collins was equally prejudiced with Clarke and MacDermott – indeed the new IRB nearly took over the prejudices of the old. When I left White I rang Roddy Connolly and arranged to go out to Bray tomorrow. In Talbot St. a man who listens to me occasionally in Hyde Park – Collins of Manorhamilton – insisted on having a drink with me. It is surprising how many people in Dublin know me from Hyde Park. One of the orderlies in the Meath Hospital did so, and often people hail me in the street. Half the Irish in Britain seem to be here.
August 8 Thursday (Dublin): I called first at the Custom House and learned to my disappointment that the Register of Births does not go back before 1864 – so one useful line of enquiry was blocked. I then went to Bray. Roddy Connolly met me at the bus stop and we walked to Greystones round Bray Head. I urged him to write his memoirs as he took part in interesting events. He considers that Larkin on his return in 1923 completely disrupted the Irish Labour movement. I must say I can’t understand why he is still idolised across the channel. Roddy has finished his work in Gorey. He used to stay there all week and return to Bray at the weekend. Did he not find this tiresome, I asked. Not so, he replied, but a welcome escape from domestic circumstances which were far from bliss. His youngest son, Ruaidhri, was studying science at the University (TCD I imagine) but decided to get rich quick and went to London. There he earned good money in a dead-end job. He then decided to come back and take his degree. So poor old Roddy must go back to the grindstone for the sake of the younger generation. At present he is in Bayswater, working at one job by day, and as a potman in a public house at night. Yet even so, the old man must finance him. Now however Roddy has the chance of a post at Wicklow and a neighbour’s car to give him a lift there and back each day. He tells me that “his sister” has been unwell. I was surprised at the expression “my sister”. It became clear when he explained it was Aideen (whom the family despises from having married a cobbler). He has respect for Page Arnot, but not much for Willie Gallacher. I think he still regards himself as a Marxist. He has certainly no great regard for the Irish Labour Party. The impression remains of a highly intelligent individual whose convictions are too strong for indifference and too weak for cynicism in the face of the impossible situation that exists here, so that what he achieves is a sort of detachment.
August 9 Friday (Dublin): A letter came from Maurice Cornforth. He seems to be getting cold feet about “Mellows”. “Finding cash for printing costs is an awful and growing problem.” So I must make it short. And “I understand that there has been some conclusion of policy talks which have been going on for the past umpteen years, and I have a copy of a printed programme issued for Northern Ireland. So I hope you aren’t going to put any cat amongst those pigeons, though pigeons is hardly the right word.” Of course there are many like him – knowing nothing of this country, without a clue as to the probable sequel to any action they might take. I saw Nolan later in the day but said nothing of the above. There might conceivably be some pigeons who might only notice a cat among them if it was pointed out to them.
August 10 Saturday (Dublin): I wrote a draft of Chapter One last night and spent the morning working on Chapter 2. It is necessary to start writing to find out what is still missing, plenty I fear. By accident I ran across Arthur Reynolds in Westmoreland St., asking after Frank Small, and worried that he doesn’t get the best training as a nurseryman. Why, only last week the young fellow announced he had thrown up his work in that field and wanted to spend a year as a packer. I said nothing of this. Arthur would have him packed off to Sweden, then on a world tour. But he himself is getting old – 33. “Do you still ride your bicycle?” he asked. So what he thinks I am is best left unsaid. I called on another cousin of Liam Mellows, Mrs Norris, but she was going out and not interested.
A letter arrived from Phyllis saying that Mary Greaves who has been moved into a hospital for old people, has lost her voice again and can only whisper. If a tenth or a hundredth part of the war budget were spent on cancer research – but what’s the use of iffing? Another thing, Arthur Reynolds told me that MacInerney had a heart attack and has given up all his Union work.
August 11 Sunday (Dublin): A thoroughly unsatisfactory day. I had intended going to Dunleer and Dundalk but it rained. Then it cleared again, and then got showery. Everybody I telephoned was out.
August 12 Monday (Dublin): A letter came from Toni Curran saying she is going to Joe Deighan’s farewell party from Manchester. Gerry Curran has still no job – he threw his job up without warning just before they were due to go away on a holiday. She tells me that Margot Parrish, though willing to do much work is not prepared for responsibility. She is not very strong, very disillusioned (I think a love affair with an African came to nothing; as if you could mix love and politics and expect all to go smooth!) and has what Toni calls a “romantic streak” that keeps her captive to the illusions she has lost. She had been to see Maggie Mynott and induced her to put the “Irish Question” in a more prominent place in the shop. “Elevating the Irish question,” says she, “will be a sure way to defeat the wreckers.” Toni calls this a recognition of the National Question. If so, I do not follow her mental processes. I met Michael Keane in O’Connell St. on the way to Roscommon, and a member of the Manchester Branch returning from Roscommon, and Cyril who gave me a lift back here.
August 13 Tuesday (Dublin): First I went to the Irish Sweep office to see Tony Woods, in a single storey building surrounded by mountains of turf, both handcut and briquettes. The taxi driver, when I gave him 1/6, wished me good luck in the claim I was collecting! Woods is about 62, well preserved, and lively. He described Mellows as “Socialist” – one of the few who does this. The afternoon I spent in the National Library. Finally, I called to Bill Gannon’s – Margaret Murray having sent me his address from Belfast – in Drimnagh. He seems to have lost weight since I saw him a few years ago. He tells me he is in Dublin since Christmas, living with his sister, working as an electrician’s mate. The pay is bad but he has stopped drinking. He urged me to see Walter Carpenter – I saw him years ago regarding Connolly. He described how he had broken with the church in 1920 – he is still fiercely anti-clerical. But when he declared himself an atheist he hesitated a minute before saying the word, as if he secretly still dreaded the staff from heaven transfixing his impiety. All the voluble anti-clerics are outraged believers. He told me how he refused Church parades, even though he was entitled to “fall out” before going in to them!
He commented on the ETU case [the 1961 scandal over ballot-rigging in the Electrical Trade Union involving leading official Frank Haxell, in which the O’Neills were involved], saying he had believed implicitly in Haxell till the end. But his son Billy had warned him against O’Neill. O’Neill wanted a full-time job in the Trade Union and said so. He was so damned lazy that he boasted that he had not opened his toolbox all day. Behan [ie. Brian Behan] did this too, only it was “not touched a shovel”. O’Neill, says Gannon, fell under the influence of a like-minded character called Frazer, set him up as an idol and did what Frazer told him. Gannon also commented on Brian Behan’s memoirs at present being serialised in the Sunday Press. All I know is that he didn’t write them. For around 1952 – we were in the Workingmen’s Club, I think – he sent me an article that was too illiterate even to edit into publishable shape. His wife has enough education to write a dull article. I imagine some journalist has written the book. Of the MacHenrys, Gannon said they were of working class origin in Tyrone or Fermanagh, but without a touch of Larkinism. MacHenry himself was in the USA and worked as a labourer. They had a Hibernian background.
August 14 Wednesday (Dublin): I rang Tony Woods in the morning as arranged. He was out. His son was out. Then I rang again in the afternoon. He asked me to ring tomorrow and confessed he was asking Eamon Martin what he could divulge. So the path of the “contemporary historian” is not easy! However, I had a good day at the National Library with Irish Freedom. Curiously enough I saw a badly yellowed, worse frayed, set of 1947 copies of the Irish Democrat lying on a table in the news reading room. Who wanted it I do not know. They have never troubled to bind it or keep it clean. The December 1947 was the four-page issue I got Flann Campbell to bring out when he, Maitland, Clancy and Early were anxious to stop publication, and Jack Bennett, Elsie O’Dowling and I defied them and took the thing over ourselves. Then Dooley intrigued to get it into his hands again out of sheer jealousy of myself. I learned the rudiments of its production from Jack Bennett, but it was a few years before I was proficient.
I had a fruitful evening with Nora Connolly O’Brien. A few months before Sean Murray died she had given an interview to a reporter to the effect that the Connolly Association did not follow the principles of her father. “She’s not her father’s girl” commented Sean, who never got on with her. She seems to have been a handful before trouble mellowed her. I wrote asking about Leek a few months ago – I had sent condolences when Seamus died – as I judged it possible to give an appearance of separation between my political and literary work. I had no reply. However, that must have been inadvertent. I think she would have told me nothing about the people Mellows stayed with there but that I asked, “On which side were the relations in Leek?” Surprised that I knew they were relations she said, “On the father’s side”. So this links with Monahan’s recollection that the old man was a Catholic of Irish descent – a Larkin?
She told me about the family troubles. The Connolly family is always in upsets. Ina is back and at 11 Percy Place. Going to America she let her house furnished and arranged for the rent to be paid into the bank. Of course it wasn’t and now she is taking the tenant to court for possession and arrears. On the Roddy front, he was staying with Fiona and is no longer. That introduces the London front. Bert Edwards is giving every appearance of going off his head, something Sean Redmond and I noticed when he resigned from the Connolly Association in a huff because we wouldn’t sell him the Irish books we had earmarked for a special sale. Fiona is having a desperate time with him. He takes to heart that he has retired, is sound of wind and limb, but the Trade Union rules will not even allow him to attend a conference. They all went to Belfast and the Vehicle Builders went on strike. Bert poked in his nose and was told not to interfere. He was furious at this. When they arrived in Dublin didn’t the Dublin men go on strike as well and Bert, anxious to recover his self-esteem, offered his services and was again advised not to interfere. This is of course the absurdity of English unions operating in Ireland at all – a permanent false position. He came to Nora’s – then left when they were out, shaking the dust of Ireland off his feet as they thought. But no, it had occurred to him that while Fiona was in Dublin he could kick Roddy out. Roddy telephoned Nora, explaining that Bert had arrived in a towering passion and accused him of incest with Fiona. Roddy had tried to lock himself in his room but as there was no key he barricaded himself and kept an umbrella there in case he needed a bludgeon. When Fiona heard it she went to stay with Francis Dean. Later she had to go back to rescue Roddy’s belongings. She has seen a lawyer, but I suggested a medical man would do. So the effect of the NUVB system is to puff men up with consequence when everybody is asking their advice, and then debar them from all contact in the organisation to which they gave all their thoughts and all their efforts. So because Bert Edwards hadn’t the grace to die decently when he was pensioned off, and went to the indecent limit of remaining a strong active healthy man, Fiona who is only 56 is to be made 65 before her time. Nora Connolly says she looks ill, has lost weight and she wishes she would leave him be and come over here. But, seeing Bert’s problem, she doesn’t wish to do this. In O’Connell St. I met another old Connolly Association supporter.
There was a shower of rain when I came out of the National Library and I sheltered under an awning in South Anne St. Who should pop out but the gypsy – Seán’s [ie. Sean Redmond’s] sister, and twin into the bargain, a very fine-looking girl and an illustration of how women wear better than men, for Sean at 26 has streaks of grey in his hair, which he doesn’t like at all, as like all young people he has a regard for his looks. She is going to live with Tom and Aine in Manchester in a few weeks, unless she marries a millionaire. I am sure she has illusions about how this will work out. She and Aine are to study for GCE and Aine is a “sweet girl” and so on. I think she is a far better girl herself. I often see a trace of cunning on Aine’s lamb-like placid features. This one is all positiveness, like Sean would be but for his inhibitions. Sean, says she, is the only one of the family she doesn’t get on with. Why? He says she’s not serious. He’s working except for a game of football while she is out every evening enjoying herself. A great phrase, “enjoying yourself”. When I told Colm Power he could have a rest during his holiday he told me he didn’t want one, he wanted to “enjoy himself”. Mary Greaves used always to write to me “enjoy yourself – while you can”. As Hegel says, youth does not posess the category of work. However – there she was working all day and then working as waitress in a coffee bar for 10/- a night. So where does she differ from Sean? Only in that she does not choose her work but gets paid. He does and doesn’t. So who “enjoys himself”? I talked about the youth with Nora Connolly, who must be 70 or 7l. She says she tells them “about the dreadful conditions which existed” when she was young and says, “Look at what we won for you. Your job is to keep it.” Plus a few observations on the “inevitability of gradualness”, which would have drawn her father into a tirade.
But in Anne St. I saw a remarkable thing. “Look at the rainbow – on the house”, said the Gypsy (I call her the gypsy because she looks like one with her magnificent colouring.) It curved through the sky, then showed on a front wall facing us, then on a side wall – then as it brightened it curved down a shop front, and the drops of rain falling at our feet gave the appearance of “passing through” an invisible rainbow as they glowed first with one colour of the spectrum, then another. This was a splendid illustration of the origin of the rainbow. And of course those present thought the drops were “falling through” a rainbow which ended at their feet. The sun was shining along the street at the time and struck the ground where we were standing. It is the “distance” of the rainbow that is the illusion.
August 15 Thursday (Dublin): I saw Roy at lunchtime. He wants me to go into Wicklow for the weekend with him. Mairín is off to this YHA jamboree at Lettermullen the week after, so I suppose he wants his jaunt as well. I did not decide on the spot.
Later I went to Ballsbridge and found Tony Woods tremendously affable and from his observing that I “already had” one photostat I could tell he had consulted Eamon Martin already. It is also clear that I had nothing to fear from Martin. He had previously told me, “Tony Woods would know nothing”, and from his inaccessibility I thought he was anxious not to be too closely involved. My guess as to his motives was that, first, he was the “contact” between the IRA and the Communist movement, having visited Moscow in 1919 or some such time, and second, that in 1939 he financed the establishment of the Irish Democrat, then Irish Freedom. I guessed that though he would not be ashamed of those past actions, he might be afraid I might publish details which would embarrass him. It rained heavily in the evening, so I am dubious over Roy’s weekend.
August 16 Friday (Dublin): Today’s weather would have disgraced December, pouring driving rain, spattering in gusts of cold north wind, without intermission from midnight to midnight. It knocked leaves off the trees and gave the scent of incipient autumn. I spent the whole day in the library, and made some discoveries.
The document Tony Woods gave me yesterday is invaluable – the memoirs of his mother who had been collecting material for a life of Mellows. I read Padraig Colum’s life of Griffith. He seems a man of some character, perhaps rather like Beasley. He describes Mellows as the typical “Man of Virtue” – meaning sea-green incorruptible that must see a revolution through to the end. I must write to him and see if he replies. More interesting still, he quotes Hegel, though his material is carelessly, almost journalistically, ordered.
August 17 Saturday (Dublin): Through one delay and another I did not get into the Library this morning. I met Nolan, and Gannon and Carmody who floated in and out like a somewhat oversubstantial feather and then had a drink with Roy. He is anxious to “do” something, but is too philistine ever to do anything properly, so what is he asking? – to be given something to play with. If his play interferes with the serious business of making money and living in comfort he will drop it. So what is it possible to suggest under such circumstances?
I was walking down O’Connell St., somewhat depressed at the huge spectacle of wasteful mediocrity before me, when I espied a lorry opposite the “Press” office bearing a tricolour there was not enough wind to lift. Around here were men and boys with “Release the prisoners” posters. As I half expected, Sean Caughey was sitting on the lorry, and a meeting began. In the crowd was the London-Irish lad from New Cross who wears a crios [Irish for a belt or girdle] When he had finished Sean Caughey got down and we had a talk. He says “things are moving”. He and Jack Bennett speak in Dungiven tomorrow. But will things move after the election – for much of this is pre-election work for Sinn Fein. The speeches had nothing in them at all, and the crowd paid little real attention. There was no new phrase, let alone new argument, but at the playing of the National Anthem at the end there was dead silence. Sentiment without policy. One of the speakers, Fred Heatley [who four years later was a member of the Belfast Wolfe Tone Society and a founder committee member of NICRA], attacked the “so-called Government of Leinster House” and orchestrated much effort in disestablishing its legitimacy. Yet he asked the people of Dublin for “help” – what help? Overthrowing the Government? No doubt it deserves it, but when will this help arrive? So then I wasn’t very pleased after all.
August 18 Sunday (Dublin): I worked on the book, but without making much headway. I think I am still suffering from not having a proper holiday last year.
August 19 Monday (Dublin): I was in the National Library from 10.30 am. to 9.30 pm., except for a spell at lunchtime when I saw Nolan. In the GPO at 9.50 pm. I ran into Carmody who is more genial than of old.
August 20 Tuesday (Dublin): I left Dublin early after leaving the house stocked with plenty of milk for the petits and came to London, the old uncomfortable way, and with only a part of my work done. Toni Curran met me at the station. Sean Redmond is in Birmingham.
August 21 Wednesday (London): I set to work to produce a twelve page paper in three days – not an enviable task. And I feel as if I had malaria.
August 23 Friday (Birmingham): I got most of the copy off to Ripley and went to Birmingham where I met Tony Coughlan [who was spending some weeks of his university vacation working in the Connolly Association office] and Seán Redmond and Frank Small.
August 25 Sunday (Birmingham): Our long-prepared demonstration was rained off the streets. It rained all bloody day! We held a final meeting in the evening in the Bull Ring in the drizzle. We decided to try again next week.
August 26 Monday (London): Sean, Frank Small and I returned to London, leaving Tony. I got the last copy off .
August 27 Tuesday (London): We held a final General Purposes Committee and Sean went off on a month’s holiday. I saw him go with mixed feelings. It is an opportunity to liven up the organisation while he is out of the way and break it out of the melancholy routinism which is what his previous training as a clerical worker brings to it. On the other hand I get no holiday myself. I still feel as if I had malaria. Perhaps it is a touch of an influenza virus. But I don’t usually get influenza and never had malaria!
August 28 Wednesday (London): I went to Ripley, read the proofs – my time was “saturated” as the lino was making a mess of the letter s. Then I took leaflets to Tony Coughlan in Birmingham, but feeling quite ill, returned to London. I wonder what it is.
August 29 Thursday (London): Margot Parrish came in during the afternoon. She said that Maud Rogerson was allowed to go to Ceylon as it solved the problem of what to do with Idris Cox who had made himself thoroughly unpopular in Wales. I asked was she sure it was his fault and not his critics? She is very romantic and disillusioned with working at the party centre, with coloured workers, and others have made her a wee bit cynical. She says the workers at the centre “live in a world of their own.” I consider it possible that some of them do. But I imagine others elsewhere inhabit other “worlds of their own”. Every tightly-knit full-time organisation tends to be a “world of its own”. I felt unwell again and went home and had a couple of hours sleep. Then I bought a lot of wine and brandy and quinine, which I propose in a minute to swig.
August 30 Friday (Birmingham): I went back to Birmingham in the afternoon and found Tony Coughlan as lively as ever. The appendicitis did not take a hair off him.
August 31 Saturday (Birmingham): The weather is still abominable. So things do not look well for tomorrow. They have nevertheless brought one or two promising people together as a result of their efforts, though I fear old Joe will have them working in his subterranean devil’s furniture factory underneath the bookshop in Dale End [CA member Joe McNally, who had several sons and was a rather erratic character].
September 1 Sunday (Birmingham): As expected, the weather was indifferent. But we held the parade. The Superintendent of A division of the police approached me by the newly sited Nelson Statue where the “Speakers Corner” is located. He was nervous because of the letter I sent last week to the Chief Constable and Chairman of the Watch Committee protesting at our being compelled to move from the traditional site in the market below. Very apologetically he explained that no meetings were now allowed in the market. As I left the meeting an hour later I saw two of them in progress. I telephoned the Superintendent – but, alas, he could not be found! But they’ll hear more of it.
September 2 Monday (London): At the meeting in the evening, back in London, Robbie Rossiter reported that his employer Maurice O’Byrne has been repeating the old slanders invented by the snake Fred O’Shea whom he has been visiting lately. So we must watch that quarter. I did hear O’Shea had got cancer. But it doesn’t seem to have diminished his venom.
September 3 Tuesday (London): The working party met in the office in the evening. Toni Curran told me that the Birmingham boys hardly ever pay for their papers. It is a pity. I did not know this before, as I would judge old McNally the most scatter-brained person on earth in money matters, always tinkering around with some money-making scheme that never makes money in the vain hope of being an independent country artisan once again, which of course he can never be. Elsie was there, Gerry Curran, Charlie Cunningham and Pat Hensey, and quite a bit was done.
September 4 Wednesday (London): After a busy day I went to West London and found it very much degenerated from its former days. Still the fame of Eamon MacLoughlin, the supreme laziness, lives on. I told them privately that the divil was warming up a special niche in hell for those who lived too long on their past reputations. Then there is no Roy Johnston to agitate them with impossible proposals. And they actually believe Desmond Logan is ill and can’t help it. His main illness is however bad judgment – he takes on a job involving much overtime. Why? Fear of unemployment. He jumps from the frying pan into the fire, for then he must lose time through sickness and that makes him worse again!
September 5 Thursday (London): Huge six or seven foot Larry O’Dowd the piper strode in this morning [He worked in the King’s Cross Post Office; some years later he returned to his native Leitrim and used play his pipes at the Gralton School that was held there for some years]. He wanted to sell a pair of drums. Would we buy them? Well, hardly, I said. What would we do with them? We have nobody who could play them. “Couldn’t you look to the future?” asked the optimist.
“What, and tie up capital?” asked the capitalist.
“You might get a band going”.
“Aye, indeed you might.”
So poor Larry retired disconsolate. As he was going I thought of a consolation to offer him. I would put in the Democrat that he had a couple of drums for sale. So sunshine returned again. He is really rather a simple fellow. Like many others he will go to the most extraordinary trouble to get quite a small sum of money.
In the evening I went to South London. It was far better than West. Pat Bond was there. He has recently lost his father and feels his connections with Ireland have been cut. I realised why I find him so irritating. He says everything five or six times over and you feel like saying, “You’ve already said that.”
September 6 Friday (London): I was busy in the office all day and at night went round Camden Town with Frank Small [selling the monthly paper].
September 7 Saturday (London): Yesterday Deighan was in a queer mood, making difficulties about where he was to sell. I imagine he is finding his role in the larger pond more difficult to find. However, he appeared and went to Kilburn with Chris Sullivan.
September 8 Sunday (London): At the General Purposes Committee in the morning I tried to stimulate the flagging energies of the members. I did not invite Joe Deighan to take the chair, as I couldn’t bear his methods of chairmanship. However he was in a good mood today, so all was well. He went to Hyde Park and spoke well, making a very strong impression and that pleased him. Of course the moodiness may arise from the problems he has with a dipsomaniac brother now in hospital in Basingstoke.
September 9 Monday (London): I heard from Toni Curran that she is expecting a child. Also from Sean Redmond that Helga is the same. This will cost me a small fortune in “cocolade” [ie. for the MacLiam children in Dublin]. I started cleaning up the papers in my flat. It is time the archives were got into order. Also Cathal may be coming. Declan Hobson came in and told me old Bulmer had a heart attack and is leaving Roundstone.
September 10 Tuesday (London): I was busy in the office all day. In the evening the usual “Working Party” arrived.
September 11 Wednesday (London): Before I went to West London I had received a letter from a Miss Lavery of that branch enclosing a copy of the “Psychic News” and a suggestion that Ireland should become a “nation of hash-growers”. She also indicated that had one sufficient faith in one’s capacity to do so, one could convert water into wine, presumably without adding anything to it. I replied suggesting that she perform the transubstantiation and we undertake the distribution. And yet – fool or no fool – there she was at the meeting distributing Trotskyist literature!
September 12 Thursday (London): Joe Deighan once more put in no appearance at the Standing Committee. His wife had telephoned to ask if “anything important” was “coming up”. If so he would deign to grace us with his society. I went to Willesden. Hennessey is quite human when Fitzgerald is not about. The meeting was in the house of Frank Taylor – I think the boy who fought the YCL when a member on the subject of conscription. I secured him an interview with R. Palme Dutt and he had only to stand firm to win his point. But he capitulated on some absurd basis of wanting to share the experiences of the British youth. They sent him to Omagh, lectured him on the IRA, told him to “shoot the nigger” – a negro target – and since the IRA was then active he made some medical excuse and was discharged without a character. He is older now, but I think it is the same man. I didn’t wish to ask. He has married Hennessy’s sister. McDade too was very reasonable.
September 13 Friday (Birmingham): I hurried through the work in the office and went to Birmingham in the afternoon. The branch held a meeting, which was reasonably well attended. Joe McNally is still Joe McNally – the supreme diplomat and opportunist. He pretends the organisation is far stronger than it is; and that its policy is whatever happens to suit the newcomer.
September 14 Saturday (Manchester): I went first to Chester where I left my bicycle, then to Birkenhead and so to Liverpool for lunch. Then I called at Phyllis’s and left her an ornamental fruit bowl (she was away) and met Doherty for a few minutes at Lime St. Then I went to Manchester.
September 15 Sunday (Maes Hafn): At the Committee meeting I think at last we resolved the old problem of the policy to be adopted towards the Manchester Martyrs Commemoration. It was far easier now Joe Deighan has gone. He always saw it in terms of calling on the members of the committee and receiving a snub. In the afternoon – still hot and dry after three days – there was an excellent meeting in Platt Fields. After that I left for Chester, picked up the bicycle and cycled to Mold and Maes Hafn. There were three miles of crawling motor cars coming into Chester. I tried to recall when I first went to Mold. I think it was in 1915 – I remember going to Barnston Station by pony and trap, but nothing about going from there to Buckley. Then I have a picture of being in Buckley and being told that AEG and CEG had gone to Mold. It may have been this time that CEG drove a pony and trap into a gatepost. But I don’t think I recall it myself.
September 16 Monday (Nant Dernol): I cycled to Bwich-Pen-Barras, Ruthin, Corwen, Balu, Llanuwychllyn and over to Bwlchygroes to Dinas Mawddwy.
September 17 Tuesday (Nant Dernol): Another dry hot sunny day, but with an increasing mist in the air. I cycled to Cemmaes and Llanbrynmair, thence over the mountains to Llanidloes and Llangurig. As I walked up a hill a mile or two beyond Llangurig I heard a terrific barking from a farmyard. Three big sheep dogs rushed out, and before I could look round I found myself bitten on the left calf. I could get no answer from the farm so proceeded to the next. I was told the name of the dog owner was Mr Nash of Pont-y-drain. The lady of the house phoned Dr Rhys at Llanidloes. He suggested that the son of the warden at Nant-y-dernol should drive me to Llanidloes. So on I went to Nant-y-dernol. I knocked at the door but there was no answer. Up to the hostel. Nobody there. Back to the house – and the warden called down her son who agreed to take me. She explained, while he got ready, that many visitors complain about the dogs. “Indeed,” she said “they attacked the Minister.” So they must be bad! The younger man told me more about them on the way to Llan-i (pronounced LLan with a following Welsh U) as they call Llanidloes. They run after cars and will surely be the cause of an accident. Many a time he has tried to lull them as he went past, “but they are too cunning to be lulled,” he said. Even now he refused to go by the short road through Pontydwr but added four miles to his journey by going first to Dol Hilfa. In Llanidloes Dr Rhys advised me to go to the hospital, which I did. The tetanus injection of last April was no longer a protection, so I had another, and then returned seemingly little the worse.
September 18 Wednesday (London): One excitement after another, and a damn nuisance too. It poured rain and though I had sent luggage on to Ratlinghope I decided to take the train from Newtown which I left at 4.53. At Shrewsbury I took the bicycle to the front of the train and asked if there were room for it there. The guard who was present placed it in the corridor outside the cage saying to me – don’t worry about it. We will see it is right. But alas when I reached Paddington it was not there. Everything was unloaded. It was still missing. The guard admitted accepting it and advised me to go to the parcels inward office. There I was directed to the Stationmaster’s Office where a Scotch lad agreed to wire all stations. He spoke to Salop who promised to make a search. I drank a whole bottle of wine when I got home in a taxi!
September 19 Thursday (London): There was plenty to do in the office. I wrote to Nash and to the Montgomeryshire police – all at Nant Dernol seemed elated when I said I would take the matter of the dogs a wee bit further. A letter from the Birmingham police altered their position still further and the Markets Committee as good as said the police could do as they liked! In the evening Margot Parrish came and threw doubt on the wisdom of having a full-time organiser. Later Frank Small and Peter Mulligan came in and did some useful work. They are getting on merrily with the branch work. Certainly the absence of Sean Redmond leaves them free to develop. I was quite heartened by the initiative that Frank Small has shown. Toni Curran was there too. But the financial problem is the fiercest of all. The continuous loss of people going back to Ireland continually robs us of leaders, and thus branches collapse.
September 20 Friday (London): Seemingly there was an East London meeting on Tuesday at which Joe Deighan obstructed the taking of formal decisions and left everything in the air. Gerry Curran was quite annoyed with him. It is of course amiable well-meaning anarchism, which at the same time enables him to attract attention. I went to Paddington and found the bicycle!
September 21 Saturday (London): Last night Robbie Rossiter telephoned to say he could not come to lay the lino and do the painting as promised. Hensey promised to come instead. He did not arrive. Peter Mulligan and Frank Small and I had to do all the work ourselves, moving the furniture, knocking down and re-erecting shelves, painting, laying the lino, washing the woodwork. At 7.30 pm. a drooping and abjectly penitent Pat Hensey arrived. I hardly felt like speaking to him. Then Joe Deighan appeared grinning all over his face, upon which I gave him a piece of my mind. It was 12 o’clock at night before Peter, Frank Small and I got away.
September 22 Sunday (London): The General Purposes Committee duly took place. Charlie Cunningham who had first suggested cleaning up the office and had not done a tap towards it was there. So was Pat Hensey and Joe Deighan. There was little satisfactory about the meeting. And when it was over there was more painting. In the evening Joe Deighan, due to come in, failed to turn up. Like Hensey, he did not even have the grace to telephone us. Peter Mulligan went to Kilburn on his own and Frank Small and I went to Camden Town.
September 23 Monday (London): I have had the main work of doing up the office thrust on me by other peoples’ default and I am furious over it. It is remarkable how little the telephone rang over the weekend. Nobody was anxious to be roped in. Toni Curran had a scare that she had lost £15 and thought we had thrown it in the bin. We emptied the bin twice – or rather Frank Small did – after which she rang and said she had found the money. It was there all the time.
Later on Declan Hobson came in and said his father was still in hospital but hoped to be out soon. He will go to Limerick. Clonmore and Reynolds wanted to publish his History of the Volunteers for the Jubilee of their foundation. But apparently Fr Martin is going to edit them and get a preface by De Valera. “I don’t like that,” said Bulmer. “He’ll not change a word,” said Fr Martin.
Declan Hobson is very opposed to Eber. He expresses disgust at his month’s tour in Africa raising money – “touting coppers off the niggers” as he put it (not as an Englishman would say the word, note) and thought the MCF must soon fold up as “neo-colonialism” must be fought primarily in the newly liberated country. He could not see any method of showing solidarity. He said he would not remain with them much longer. Any dynamism the MCF retained was due to Ian Page. That I believe. “But are you going to leave Page in the lurch?” I asked “Ach, he’s very discontented; I don’t think he’ll go on with it much longer himself.”
September 24 Tuesday (London): Margot Parrish muddled up the putting up of the posters by going to the wrong tube station. She is not as much use as we hoped – cynical and romantic at the same time, with the strange culturelessness that marks most Birmingham people.
September 25 Wednesday (London): I received a letter from Nash in Llangurig denying responsibility for the attack of his dogs and cooly suggesting that some stray dog must have committed the crime, as his would never do such a thing. I guess the police have been up with him and helped him to concoct his story to make the most of my lack of witnesses to the actual attack. Still, I’ll try another letter.
More trouble. The arm which had the tetanus injection has developed an irritating rash which seems to be swelling.
September 26 Thursday (London): Seán Redmond arrived back today. I was pleased in one way at the return of another pair of hands. In another I was not so pleased. The labour of doing is to be replaced by the worry of watching undone.
September 27 Friday (London): I was fifty years old at nine tonight, bad luck to it. By the mercy of providence, if that is what accounts for it, I don’t feel it yet. But no doubt will do. Early in the morning Cathal came with Tony Coughlan from Dublin. We went up to the office. I was so “fed up” with the way the cleaning of the office was left to me that I didn’t go to the CA Jubilee dance. It was not a success, something which did not surprise me, since so little was done for it. Cathal came back early and we had a little private celebration. Tony Coughlan went out to stay with the Currans. I am told that Joe Deighan made his little speech and all those who are susceptible to the appeal of important occasions fully enjoyed their importance!
September 28 Saturday (London): I went around London a little with Cathal and then left him to go out with the papers, while Alan Morton came for another celebration. He starts a new job as Reader in biochemistry at Chelsea Polytechnic on Monday, and his oldest boy John has today gone to start his university career at Liverpool, where he is studying biochemistry. Alan is of course very proud of him and says he is highly political. I wonder if he will stay that way!
September 29 Sunday (London): The EC of the Connolly Association met this morning. Cathal came, but for some reason Tony Coughlan did not. Cath MacLaughlin reported that Betty O’Shea had invited her to some kind of faction meeting last night but she refused to go. When Sean Redmond proposed a vote of thanks to the members who had done up the office there was silence – a combination of indifference and guilty conscience.
There was quite a good meeting in Hyde Park though the numbers who turned up on the procession were so pitiful that the police protested at having their leave cancelled to accompany it. Joe Deighan was working this morning but in good form this afternoon. I note that the Trotskyite “Workers Forum” are not holding their meetings now. Lawless, their leader, is back in Dublin according to Sean Redmond. I also learned that the snake O’Shea was in Waterford and organised a “hate the Connolly Association” meeting at Peter O’Connor’s, but didn’t attend himself.
September 30 Monday (London): Tony Coughlan came into the office in the morning and left for Ireland in the evening. People say he has grown donnish.
October 1 Tuesday (London): In hopes of getting away to work on the Mellows book I set to work on outstanding reviews for the Democrat. I decided not to leave it to Sean Redmond, who might use it as an excuse for his shortcomings in other matters. My inclination is to try and get the finances completely straight and have all in order, and then retire from this work. The problem will be however to find and train a successor, as I think Sean, though well-intentioned, is too conceited to learn beyond a certain point.
October 2 Wednesday (London): I did the review of the Icelandic saga of Gisli – very interesting – and so that is one thing done. Sean Redmond went to see Desmond Logan who is in hospital.
October 3 Thursday (London): I did the review of the Celtic Studies in Wales, also very interesting, which is another thing done. We learn that Joe Deighan declines to serve on the Standing Committee, so that there is a danger of a division – not that he would deliberately set one committee against another. He would set the cat among the pigeons out of sheer disorganisation.
October 4 Friday (London): I did the review of the “Mask of Merlin”, which is a sustained diatribe against the reputation of Lloyd George. After reading it you’d think that nothing ever went wrong unless Lloyd George had a hand in it!
October 5 Saturday (London): I went to Hammersmith with dithering Hensey. We did very well – indeed had the best reception since 1955, which it reminded me of. In a sense I’m “not speaking” to him, but what’s the use. You can’t squeeze lemon juice out of a puffball.
October 6 Sunday (London): I saw the two boys in the morning – Peter Mulligan and Frank Small. They held two meetings at Arlington Rd and sold 82 papers without a trace of fuss or self-commendation. So the best people are the very young. Unfortunately they soon go off. It seems that the human head begins to swell seriously in the early or middle twenties! I spoke to Phyllis on the phone.
October 7 Monday (London): I went down to Southsea to see Mary Greaves. Undoubtedly she has deteriorated. She complains of pain in the throat, difficulty of breathing and loss of sleep. Mrs Marshall and the woman who “did” for her were there but left on my arrival. Undoubtedly the visit revived her spirits and at times she was almost lively. Her head is as clear as ever. A great pity to see her like that. Phyllis rang in the evening and I told her the news.
I met Gerry Curran and Toni Curran in the evening. Peter Mulligan had been calling on people. There is no doubt he is taking his secretaryship seriously. I arranged for Gerry Curran to complete the work on the paper so that I do not have to ask Sean Redmond. It is then on him to do his own work. Thinking it over I would say that it would be to wrong him to call him lazy or inefficient. It is simply that he should not be in charge of an organisation. All his faults are faults of responsibility. He simply does not understand that the leader is not permitted excuses. Repeatedly he forgets or omits things and then out comes the flow of glib excuses. All this irritates Toni Curran. So it is our own fault. We should have made him national organiser like Tony Coughlan and had a voluntary General Secretary. Now I wonder could Joe Deighan be brought to do that, or is it too late to make any changes? I must keep my own counsel about this.
October 15 Tuesday (London): The last week I have been busy cleaning and repainting part of my flat and getting out the November paper. I had intended to be in Ireland now, but it did not prove possible. I have now cleaned up most of what was in arrears and can think about it.
I met Stella Jackson in Northington St. this morning. She has grown to look older and at first I did not recognise her, mainly through not expecting her. She is working with the Penguin Encyclopaedia in John St. and is delighted to be back in “dear old Bloomsbury”, despite the slow encroachment of hideous modern buildings.
In the afternoon Des Logan came in – he has been in hospital for a month with high blood pressure, which in my opinion is of nervous origin. He said he had heard Prendergast had made peace. “How on earth did you know that?” “MacLaughlin told me”. “And he?” “From Tom Leonard, of course, he is on a committee with Prendergast and your man told him, ‘I’ve buried the hatchet with Greaves; the Democrat is doing good work and it’s not being recognised.’” So, thought I, when the handle came away from the head the only thing to do with the hatchet was to bury it. As for the recognition, the most that can be said is that it is a little better than it was, and this too may have encouraged the interment.
October 16 Wednesday (London): I received a postcard from Phyllis to the effect that Mary Greaves was on the danger list. But my phone was out of order and I could not get through to her. It was repaired by evening but finally I got through from the office at 10.30 pm. She told me that she had sent a letter after the card on the same day, to say that Mary Greaves died yesterday morning. Enid Greaves was with her just beforehand. I told her that though it was sudden, in one sense I was not very surprised. She had perked up while I was there, and at times smiled in a way that showed she was enjoying the visit. But when I looked round as I left the ward she seemed to have sunk back and her face was wooden.
October 17 Thursday (London): In the evening Phyllis rang. She had tried to get me at 0797 after I had rung from 4826, so naturally did not find me. She had received a letter from Enid and wondered about its implications. I had permitted myself some wry speculation over what will happen when the will is read on Saturday. For when I returned from Southsea last week I found a card from Mary Greaves telling me not to come as she had her solicitor’s clerk visiting her. Then she spoke of this, but I did not understand. But I guessed she intended cutting out Harley Greaves [a nephew] who has not visited her once during her illness. “I suppose he’s too sozzled,” she said bitterly, “But it won’t be to his advantage,” she added. Phylis tells me that my guess was right. But what is worse – since Harley deserved no better and had plenty from her anyway; indeed I am the only one who never asked even for the loan of a pound – she fears that Bert’s family [ie. Mary Greaves’s husband’s] may have been overlooked. Enid says the house and contents are left to Phyllis and Enid and the residue between all three of us. Phyllis wants to make some amends to Bert’s people if they have been left out. I advised her not to act with haste. I do not want a re-arrangement that would bring Harley in, which might be the price Enid would exact. So wait first to see what cards are played. I would however not oppose giving Bert’s relations what an accountant was able to define as Bert’s money, since this was his expressed wish. But we do not yet know if they have been overlooked. Phyllis fears so from not having heard from them. So heaven knows what sort of a gathering it will be on Saturday.
October 18 Friday (London): I did a little – oh so little! – on Mellows. One distraction after another and not the least the fear that if I take the foot off the accelerator the CA boys will allow the vehicle to come to a standstill.
October 19 Saturday (London/Portsmouth): I set off for Portsmouth early, had breakfast in that wretched new “griddle” – deliberately designed to kill the service; I never heard any topic of conversation in it but the badness of the service – and Phyllis met me at the station and drove me to Bristol Road. On the way she told me that Mary Greaves had suffered no pain and had, apart from the effects of sedation, had unimpaired mental faculties to the end. Enid Greaves had been with her in the morning and she died about midnight. And that was the end of a generation – a woman whose character can be summed up in the one word, strength. And of course she had the faults of her virtues. She would have been 88 at Christmas.
When we reached Bristol Road, Enid came out and remarked that Harley Greaves had not arrived. She feared he might be late, and indeed Phyllis and I suspected he might not come at all. Basil Wiltshire, the police sergeant, came next and then one or two others. There was only one cab and since WAG, the legal next of kin, was not present I found myself in it with Enid and Phyllis as “chief mourners”. We went to the cemetery chapel where a pleasant enough young fellow droned the usual meaningless “words of comfort” and we observed a good gathering of the Wiltshire family. Of course a very old person draws a smaller attendance. The impression was very different from the packed gatherings for CEG and AEG [ie.his parents]. Only a handful. Mrs Marshall was there, looking very upset. On the way to the cemetery Phyllis asked Enid, “Have the Wiltshires been looked after?” “Aye,” said Enid in the voice that she can use for a double entendre. However, it seems £1200 was given in tax-free bequests and the remainder is between Phyllis, Enid and myself. Harley was cut out on October 9th – “a very naughty” thing, said Enid.
After the interment we went to Elsie Allnatt’s – Bert’s niece – and drank tea. Whatever may be said as to their feelings the Wiltshires did not display the slightest coolness. Phyllis said she thought Mary Greaves took into consideration the fact that they had divided several legacies among themselves quite recently. The relatives were most cordial, and Phyllis who has a friend from Liverpool settled at Chichester, was invited to stay with them at any time. In the midst of the conversation, Harley Greaves arrived. I was shocked. It seemed as if the head of his father when an old man had been perched on a much bulkier body. I thought he was drunk. He took some time recognising people and his speech was slurred. But Phyllis said he was not drunk, and I believe it. The slurred speech must be the result of some kind of partial paralysis. He had a stomach haemorrhage which frightened him off drink. Phyllis said afterwards that possibly, being a pharmacist, he had taken to drugs. But I doubt it. His conversation showed a ready wit and a lively if disorganised mind, so that the disability is physical.
We returned to Bristol Road. Enid had laid in some cold ham, Phyllis got some salad and a bottle of Asti, and so the four of us had a meal together and by ourselves for the first time in our lives. An extraordinary occasion. We were always together as children. Then after about 1924 when Mary Greaves moved to Portsmouth sometimes all four, but usually only one, two or three would be there together. I had a look at the will, which was as described, but it is the contents of the house, not the house that are left to Enid and Phyllis. Harley Greaves was quick enough looking for anything that might be useful to himself and Enid was ready to hand it over without consulting Phyllis. But when Phyllis drove me to the station she told me that she would not trust Enid further than she would throw her, but that as she knew she was no match for her at the game of nest-feathering, she also believed she would set a limit at about 60/40 and that it might be that in order to get that portion she would allow Phyllis certain elements of choice that would suit her. This I considered shrewd enough. And so I went back. The death of somebody very old who has had a long illness does not strike with the force of a sudden unexpected blow. At the same time I felt sorry that there was one more person gone who had a disinterested concern for our welfare, and I was extremely glad I saw her last Monday. She had told Enid about my visit on the day she died. Still, that book closed because it was at its end. I will make some notes about her later; Enid and Phyllis promised to keep me all the historical material in the house, including the American letters, and some documents of my grandfather’s.
October 20 Sunday (London): There was a General Purposes Committee in the morning which was very well attended. I spoke in Hyde Park in the afternoon, and Sean Redmond and I had a splendid reception in Hammersmith in the evening.
October 21 Monday (London): I got little opportunity to work on the book today. It is almost impossible to concentrate on anything in this damned city. The only compensation is the magnificent weather. October (as often) has proved the best month of the year. Bunby, the owner of the lease of the upper part of 374 Gray’s Inn Rd., came in to tell me that the leather goods and pornographic postcard dealer who has taken the overall lease from the defunct “Black and White” milk bar, has been after him complaining that he has broken the terms of the lease by sub-letting. Bunby denies this. But to add injury to insult the new owner has sent him a bill for £50 from the surveyors who looked at the building and a demand that the dilapidations be put right at once. This is a blow to him since the Trotskies to which he belongs are putting on a full-time man to sell the works of the Master and spread mischief over the Russo-Chinese differences. My suspicions are that the days when 374 Grays Inn Road was a great leftwing address are numbered, certainly when Bunby’s lease expires in 1966.
October 22 Tuesday (London): I telephoned Phyllis who had just reached Liverpool safely. She has secured the pioneer letters for me [relating to his granduncle, Joseph Greaves, who had gone to the USA crossed America and joined the Mormons in Utah], but thinks she will not get much that Enid can tinker with and that of what she can’t, we should receive something over £1000 each. She is still talking about compensating the Wiltshires but I do not see why she should. She is very conscientious and too generous. As for myself, I was not well at all today. Partly I was depressed over Mary Greaves’s death, the full impact of which was shielded off by the actions and speculations of the last few days. However I felt better in the evening.
October 24 Thursday (Liverpool/Belfast): I went to Liverpool in the afternoon, had a meal with PAG [his sister Phyllis] and then caught the Belfast boat.
October 25 Friday (Belfast): I had a talk with Hughie Moore and later went out to Lisburn to see Jack Bennett. There is no doubt that he has now identified himself with the Republicans exclusively and has no intention of working for any partial demands that will bring the two sides together [ie.the Republican and Labour Movement sides].
October 26 Saturday (Belfast): I had lunch with Betty Sinclair. She tells me Caughey came in to see her last week and told her he will act as an election agent for Sinn Fein at the next election. Jack Bennett confirms this but claims the “Irish Union” thing was Caughey’s own nonsense, and that he and Caughey were summoned to Dundalk to give an account of themselves, and that Caughey deliberately left him behind so that his disagreement would not be known. And that is the way they fool about. I also met Art MacMillan.
October 27 Sunday (Dublin): I went to see Margaret Murray in the afternoon and accidentally met Cal O’Herlihy, now a lecturer at Queens. He had gone for a walk down Royal Avenue to “get some fresh air” and was meandering along with a face as long as a Lurgan spade! He walked as far as Carlisle Circus with me. Veronica is expecting another child. “Do you like living in Belfast,” I asked. “I do not,” he replied, “Even at the university the sycophantism is poisonous. They are all crawling. And outside the university there is nothing but religion.” He has, I understand, let himself in for seven years of this. When somebody accused him of social climbing and an eye for the main chance, he replied that he bet that if Desmond Greaves had his time over again he would concentrate on that. So I am a little amused when his upward process takes him through dirty country. His wife is a scheming bitch. After seeing Margaret I went to Dublin. I left earlier than I had intended because there is obviously nothing doing here till after the next election. The Bennetts made me very welcome and asked me to try and call on the way back. At about 10 pm I got up to Cathal’s and could relax. Helga told me that according to Justin Keating, whom they seldom see, Tony Coughlan is thinking of joining Gael Linn [ie.the Irish language cultural firm.There was no truth in this speculation ]. Apparently he has been no great success at TCD as he is not interested in it [A.Coughlan was in fact happy in his work at TCD].
October 28 Monday (Dublin): I saw the children in the morning – flourishing. Egon is far and away the brightest, a fine imaginative little child, who will sit for hours drawing or building. Finuala has a touch of deceitfulness of a childish kind, is not quite as open. Conor is placid and engaging. I saw Roy Johnston in the afternoon – as money-conscious as ever and subject to the same temporary enthusiasms.
October 29 Tuesday (Dublin): There was a visit from Nalty, the old schoolfellow of Cathal’s, with whom he used to go camping and accomplished his grand tour of Ireland. He is only a year younger than Cathal, that is 30, but still looks a young man – a testimony to Cathal’s continuous overtime at Pye’s radio factory, every night till 8 pm., for which moreover he does not get paid. I rubbed this in to Cathal, and Helga was quite pleased.
October 30 Wednesday (Dublin): I spent the day in the National Library, wrote to Tony Coughlan and to Walton of TCD [James Walton, later Professor of English at TCD]. A man in Leicester, Dipak Nandy, wants me to contribute to a symposium on Jonathan Swift Lawrence and Wishart will get out in 1966 or 67, and he has also asked Walton. Of all places, Walton is at No.39, TCD – where I stayed so often in the old days.
October 31 Thursday (Dublin): Another day in the Library. Better progress this visit. I saw Sean Nolan and arranged for books to be sent to London.
November 1 Friday (Dublin): Again a day without incident, unless the appalling weather can be called an incident in itself.
November 2 Saturday (Dublin): I saw Nolan again in the morning, and in the evening Cyril (next door) drove me with Cathal to Westland Row, where I caught the boat train. I took with me some copies of “50 Years of Liberty Hall” which Nolan tells me was subsidised to the tune of £7000 by the Transport Union and is thus worth far more than the 3/6 which it is priced.
November 3 Sunday (London): I arrived in London about 7 am. In contrast to Dublin’s, the weather was warmer and dry. After writing a few letters in the office I went to sleep for an hour and then went to Hyde Park. There awaited me a letter from Malachy Gray, even more impertinent than that insufferable coxcomb usually achieves. His claims were (1) that knowing that Prendergast and he had founded the Frank Ryan Committee, I had credited this to Ewart Milne out of personal animosity to Prendergast; (2) that the Connolly Association was the “Chinese “wing of the Irish Movement; (3) that Heatley had written against him “abusively” in the Democrat. I told him he had been unable to produce the slightest evidence in support of any of these allegations, and that since I had never discussed Prendergast with him he could have no knowledge of my state of mind regarding that individual. It is very amusing to reflect that when Prendergast first arrived in London over 10 years ago he went to see Alec Digges, and there announced his intention of ousting me. “One of us will bite the dust,” he announced. A few weeks ago he “buried the hatchet”. A pity somebody didn’t bury Malachy Gray! I was told in Belfast he is looking for a position on the executive of the TGWU, and hence his letter also contained a lordly “withdrawal” from the current controversy which he started himself.
And at home there was a letter from Stella Jackson [daughter of TA Jackson] complaining that a man called Martin Murphy had come to see her, having been directed to her from the Connolly Association office where he had enquired as to her whereabouts on his return from some years in the USA. He had addressed her as Jackson (or Galvin? She was never Milne) and she was quite sure the Connolly Association had put him up to this. This was injurious to her “persona” and she wanted to have no more to do with us. I told her I had never heard of Martin Murphy and as to the other, she must please herself and I thanked her for past services. Everybody I know who is twenty is getting married; everybody I know who is 40 is getting divorced; and now those who are sixty are all going off their heads!
I saw Joe Deighan, Frank Small, Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham and others at the Park, where there was a good meeting. Brockway has sent an article and Jackson is pleased with our attitude to his book and will also contribute. After discussing current affairs I collected some notes I had come to London for, arranged the transfer of £120 to current account, and returned on the Irish mail.
November 4 Monday (Dublin): I saw Tony Coughlan at lunchtime. He told me that Tadhg Egan had come looking for me on Saturday. Seemingly the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis a fortnight ago, against the wishes of the Committee which however did not intervene in the debate, passed a resolution sent by its Birmingham branch condemning the Connolly Association. He had not the terms, but Nolan afterwards told me it may have been directed against our urging Irish people to join the Trade Unions, and if this were the case it would do us no harm in Dublin. There was a long debate in which the article by Jim O’Regan [of Cork, a Republican friend of Greaves’s] in our Jubilee number was quoted. One of the delegates said, “What’s good enough for Jim O’Regan is good enough for me.” Tony Coughlan also told me that Roy Johnston has been up at Sean Cronin’s house and that Cronin has got my two pamphlets. While I was in the bookshop I noticed a blonde big man hovering around. When he spoke to me I realised that I had failed to recognise George Fairbrother, who read law at TCD and was one of the group Paul O’Higgins got together to publish the “Promothean” around 1947 [The Promethean Society was a leftwing student group at Trinity College in the late 1940s in which Roy Johnston was also involved]. I don’t think I met him since he left college soon after that; he is a solicitor in Cavan town and is doing very well.
November 5 Tuesday (Dublin): I went into the National Museum and had a talk with Dr O’Sullivan, who promised to find some of Mellows’s letters which were deposited there by Mrs Woods. In the evening I met Tony Coughlan and Tadhg Egan in the Pearl Bar. He gave me details of the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis and told the story of how Bill Hennessy had “seen through” Fitzgerald when over here, and provided another interesting piece of information, namely that Fitzgerald, the big fifty-year-old baby, had been activated by the well-meaning but inveterate intriguer Joe O’Connor [a CA and CPGB member]. Though indeed at times one wonders if he is so well-meaning.
November 6 Wednesday (Dublin): I examined some of the material in the Museum today. A young man I judged to be from Co. Cork was in charge of it. It should lead to quite interesting details about Mellows’s work as director of purchases. Whether Tony Woods would remember anything after being shown the notes in Mellows’s books is of course doubtful. There are names and addresses mostly from the South, Midlands and above all the west, as far North as Sligo. It seems now I will have to put off my journey to the west until I find out how many places I will need to go to.
November 7 Thursday (Dublin): I spent the day between Library and Museum, except for having lunch with Walton (the English Literature man, not the physicist) of TCD on the subject of the Swift symposium. I have the impression of the typical don, full of good manners and not without good sense, competent in his own field, but no pioneer in either action or thought. However, I impressed on him the need to counter any possible attempt to make the study of Swift an English national duty. I also mentioned Shakespeare. The man in Leeds, Kettle, did not even have the grace to reply to my suggestions regarding the quadrocentenary next year. He realises that Shakespeare is now an imperial institution, but though he has contributed to Kettle’s symposium and has warned his readers that MacBeth is ‘unhistorical’ (not ‘a deliberate distortion of history’), he has said no more. I went to Hodges Figgis and bought £15 of books of Celtic interest. They had advertised a grand collection but all the best had gone. I bought Cathal a copy of TF O’Rahilly’s book [on ancient Irish kinship and society].
November 8 Friday (Dublin): I finished the transcription of the Mellows papers in the Museum, and did no more. I have arranged to have a microfilm made. I called into see Nolan, who told me Roy Johnston was looking for me, and I rang him. I met the Fitzgerald who used to be in London about ten years ago, who is now married. At one time he was under Prendergast’s influence, but seemingly is no longer. He is still in touch with the Mooneys. He works as a porter at the Mater Hospital and tells me he has come to the conclusion that the pace of revolution is not so fast as he thought it. He would have studied to get a trade if he had not believed socialism was round the corner.
November 9 Saturday (Dublin): I seem to have developed a filthy cold, and consequently today was largely lost. I called out to Roy Johnston in the evening. He had little news, except that he understands that the Irish Workers Party are contemplating appointing a full-time organiser. Tony Coughlan is however increasingly orienting himself towards the Labour Party and according to Mairín is “courting” – she had seen him with a “mott” (if that is the right spelling; I always considered the word merely a variant of “mate”). Justin Keating is interested only in his own self-advancement, and basking in the inane formalities of the “good life”. So that on the whole there are enough life-histories to provide ample study of the dynamics of a period of reaction. Cathal is working the whole weekend; much to Helga’s distaste. Yet apparently the sales in Nolan’s bookshop are rising and presumably they must be making progress that they think will be sustained. Roy has taken a cottage in Connemara that costs him £20 a year.
A letter from Toni Curran informed me that the General Purposes Committee had to be held on Tuesday because Sean Redmond is playing football every Sunday, and that consequently Joe Deighan could not attend. It seems likely to me that he would if he wanted to. So his move to London must really be seen as a way out. Still it is true historically that it is just in such periods of quiescence as these that the last revolution has the chance to get decently forgotten, for that seems a necessity for the next. And at the same time the theoretical re-assessment proceeds, and from that the possibilities are sorted from the desirabilities, the new generation taking only what it requires and putting that alone into effect. Well on that we shall see.
November 10 Sunday (Dublin): It rained all day and blew a gale. I had a filthy cold and stayed in Finglas all day.
November 11 Monday (Dublin): At lunch Tony Coughlan appeared in the Monument restaurant. He had not received Roy’s invitation till after the party was over. He seems to me to have become somewhat disillusioned with political life in Dublin, which was to be so glorious when he first came here. And whereas then he was an uncritical admirer of the Irish Workers League, now he gives them less than their due and mixes mostly with Labour Party people. After lunch I took his material back to Tony Woods, rang Peadar O’Donnell who invited me to go up to Drumcondra in the morning. Then calling up to George Pollock (Mackay in the 2nd Workers Republic) to ask about the Mellows programme. He denies any connection between whatever document Gallagher brought over and the CPI programme. He thinks possibly Borodin [Mikhail Borodin, leading Comintern figure] who was in England drafted it, or possibly Roddy Connolly drafted it and consulted Borodin. Whatever came back was elaborated upon by their National Executive Committee. This included McCabe and Seán Stephenson, one time Dublin City librarian, both dead. And there were others whose names I did not catch. He hoped I would not mention Borodin, and particularly not that he was smuggled to Ireland and back to England where, says Pollock, the CPGB “carelessly let him be captured”. They were poor conspirators. He himself is 79, but still speaks with a Scotch accent. He was one of those who came to Ireland to avoid conscription and stayed here. He was extremely friendly. Then in the evening I called up to Nora Connolly O’Brien. Her arthritis is better and she is attending the Senate every Wednesday and Thursday.
November 12 Tuesday (Dublin): I called on Peadar O’Donnell and stayed for lunch. He shows a more lively interest in the Connolly Association and Irish Democrat than previously, regarding them somewhat as a [word unclear] that he doesn’t “believe”. He gave me an article and asked about circulation and “who was the president”. He does not think we will make much impression on the Irish, but more than the Irish Centre will do. He had been to see Brendan Behan in hospital, and to persuade the obstreperous Patrick Kavanagh to join the Academy of Letters. His telephone was going every ten minutes and we could gauge how he enjoyed being all the time mingled with people and affairs. He thought the World Peace Council was now only a cork carried on the current of the general sentiment for peace, and told me he had lost interest in it.
Later I got Padraic Colum’s address from his niece with whom Carmody put me in touch. This was useful progress. I met Tony Coughlan in Westmoreland St. with another young don, or presumably don. But he seemed a little embarrassed at meeting me, so I record this and we will see the reason in due course. I am trying to trace Una Daly, Mellows’s secretary, and rang Lt. Col. Feehan, who advised me to try the Adjutant-General’s office of the army.
November 13 Wednesday (Dublin): I met MacHenry at 11 am. and we went out to Portrane only to find McCabe was away. We returned and called in to a motor dealer in the same Fitzwilliam Lane that that incorrigible clown Cyril Murray had a place in. His name was (I think) Sean Moylan. He knew many people of the old days but like many comparatively unlettered people, thought “knowing” facts a more simple matter than it is. So MacHenry and he were soon in hot dispute over who killed Michael Collins. MacHenry, seeking to make a good impression, had made the most of what enquiries I had made, and thus encouraged Moylan to mount his high horse. So the result was confused. Nobody could tell me about Una Daly – but seeing a U. Daly in the telephone book, I resolved to try. And it was the right person. I called on Rita Brady to get the date she donated certain letters to the Library, but she was out.
November 14 Thursday (Dublin): The morning I spent in the Library. At 3 pm. I met Una Daly at the Land Commission, a grey-haired woman of about 60 who must have been quite striking in her youth. She had no great memory, however. She knew a number of names and told me of a photograph of Liam Mellows with Julia Morrissey at a farm gate. “He was a second Patrick Pearse,” she said, adding that after his death she worked for Seán Russell. Even now the recollection of the split distresses her, and she tells how Mellows brought her to the press table during the final debate on the Treaty, Collins put her out, and Mellows took her in again where she “saw De Valera swaying”. Before leaving I was introduced to the famous Neligan, who worked with Collins in the Castle. He is the head of the Department. She mentioned a Liverpool man, Cunningham, who settled in Carrick, Co. Donegal. In every part of the country and every walk of life those who took part in the revolution of 1916-22 are staffing State enterprises or running their own. But the anti-Treaty group received their rewards later. From this it is possible to discern the motives of those who urged or supported the Treaty from the background and were not intoxicated with the fine phrases which were cast over the issues to cover them. Later I saw Rita Brady, who told me more about the Biddulphs.
Although I see possible lines of enquiry stretching out in all directions, my feeling is that much time and money could be spent for a few grains gleaned from a vast field. So my inclination is to go back to London and this means starting the writing on the schedule I set in September. But whether I will be able to have a holiday (as I planned) in the winter or must spend it finishing the book is as yet impossible to decide.
Letters came from Toni Curran, from Phyllis and from Sean Redmond. The first sent some addresses. Phyllis told me there was “loads of gossip” I must wait for till I see her. Sean Redmond indicated that all is reasonably well in London.
One little reminiscence Una Daly gave is perhaps worthy of record. She knew Captain McGuinness, who was a man of incredible bravery but a “terrible adventurer”. He stole the ship in the end. He had acquired a Fraulein somewhere in Germany and when he was in Dublin rather long she wired him that she would kill herself unless he came back at once. He translated the German telegram to Una Daly and then wrote the reply, “Postpone Death”.
November 15 Friday (Dublin): I spent the day in the Library and one of the officials found me some letters written by Mellows.
November 16 Saturday (Dublin): I spent the morning in the Library and the afternoon with Cathal going to bookshops and having a drink. Then in the evening Cyril, next door, drove us both down to the North Wall where I came on the Liverpool boat to return to London, laden with notebooks and photostats, but still insufficient material for the big job.
November 17 Sunday (Liverpool): Phyllis picked me up at Woodside. She has been off work all week with one of those severe colds she gets every year, I don’t know why. She told me of Enid Greaves’s handling of the disposal of the contents of Mary Greaves’s house, the essence of which seems to be the bestowal of things in which Phyllis had an interest, without her consent, on anybody with whom her ladyship wished to be on good terms. Yet I felt Phyllis was adopting a somewhat ineffective attitude of contesting without intending to take any ultimate stand. This is because she still feels she should protect the interests of Bert’s relations. If she stood strongly for her own first, then she could look after them afterwards. But she is too soft hearted in this type of thing. Unfortunately, I have no locus standi whatsoever and can’t do a damned thing. I advised her if she felt it worth making a fight to do so thoroughly, otherwise to breathe sweetness and light – in modoat any rate, while being as firm as practicable in re.
She told me that of all people Halliday called [see Vols.1 and 2 of the Journal for these school companions of Greaves’s]. He is still in touch with the people we were at school with – is now rotund, bald and middleaged, and was moreover married three years ago with one child. Donald Magee reached the rank of Colonel in the British Army and acquired an OBE. Piggott is somewhere in the Midlands. What happened George Wright he did not know but had news about all kinds of people whose names Phyllis forgot. Mrs Pigott is still alive – she must surely be in her eighties. Halliday’s father died about five years ago, but he had broken with him since following his re-marriage, the new wife would not like Halliday’s Labour connections – he is a Trade Union organiser for USDAW in the Flintshire area, I think, and in my opinion a thoroughly right-wing one into the bargain.
November 18 Monday (London): Phyllis did not go in to work today as she still felt unwell, but she ran me down to Rock Ferry, and I changed at Crewe and came on to London on the Blackpool train. I saw Sean Redmond and Toni Curran in the office. And of course there were to be told the latest escapades of Frank Small. He learned that his father, aged 75, was in hospital with a stomach ulcer (which I fear sounds like a euphemism that the young lad doesn’t know) and that meant he might have to go home. Immediately he decided he must earn more money, and threw up his job for one where he could work at night. He has not been seen since.
We held a meeting to try and assemble a group of additional writers for the Irish Democrat, which needs fresh talent badly. Peter Mulligan and a new young man in West London, Jim Cosgrave of Sligo, came together with a strange (perhaps shy) girl who is supposed to have a law degree but can’t get a legal job. Gerry Curran was also there.
November 19 Tuesday (London): I was busy on the Democrat all day. I saw Robbie Rossiter for a flash, as he came in and out of a “working party” Sean Redmond had half-organised. Toni Curran is always complaining about him but in fact he does as much as anybody we would be likely to get. But it is mechanical, and he lacks the higher order of responsibility which would enable him to criticise what he is achieving now. Indeed he thinks he is doing marvels! Margot Parrish who is doing the books had been invited to Kenya for Kenya Independence Day, so how Sean Redmond will keep the finances together without extending his outlook we wait to see.
November 20 Wednesday (London): Again on the paper. The Central meeting was poorly attended, but Frank Small turned up! He had been leaving each night by bus for Hemel Hempstead and spending all night choked with dust on high ladders cleaning electric lamps and shades in a factory. He had decided to give it up. Chris Sullivan, an electrician now, asked, “Electric bulbs? Is that what you were cleaning?” “You wouldn’t have to be an electrician for that.” “Oh, wouldn’t you?” says Chris, who immediately wrote down the name and address of the firm.
November 21 Thursday (London): I practically finished the paper. Toni Curran was in rather a depressed state. She does not expect the child till April, but is already suffering swelling of the ankles when she walks, and is consequently wondering what will happen next. She is 35, and this is her first.
November 22 Friday (London): There were only a few odds and ends to finish on the paper. In the evening I went to Islington with Peter Mulligan. I saw Joe Deighan for a minute or so.
November 23 Saturday (London): Quite a few came into the book session this morning, Jim Andrews, Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham, Frank Small, as well as Dorothy Deighan and Sean Redmond. Though few non-member customers came, still the thing seems to be taking on, and is likely to grow. It has of course the great advantage of bringing people together.
Everybody is talking about the assassination of President Kennedy, and the Irish seem particularly upset. An old Irishwoman stopped me last night to ask if the reports were true. “It’s hard on him when he’d so much,” she said. I replied that life was pleasant to all. “It is not,” she said, “Poor people are glad to get out of this world.” I suppose that can be true if they think there is a better one to go to! Frank Small, who is always forthright, declared roundly, “I’m not sorry for him”, and referred to the people killed by American atom bombs. But there seems to have spread a notion that he had “turned against big business” as well as supporting Mr Lemass – which of course he did to an almost undetectable degree. I went out with Sean Redmond in the evening. He leaves for Manchester and Liverpool tomorrow, and I made a few suggestions as to how he should spend the time most profitably. I must say he accepted them without demur, but how far he will perform them we must see.
November 24 Sunday (London): I went to Hyde Park in the afternoon. It was cool, though not wet, and windy, but Joe Deighan held the audience well. Pat Hensey proposed a resolution of sympathy with Jacqueline Kennedy, which was passed but not without one or two lefts declaring, “Kennedy doesn’t stand for the working man”, and a few ultranationalists pointing out that the US has bases in the Six Counties as well as Britain. Deighan was anxious to get my assent to proposals to hold the East London Branch fortnightly – but I refuse to be committed. We had a meal at the Universal where my poor nerves were frayed by the irrepressible, erratic loquacity of Frank Small. Peter Mulligan was there also. Chris Sullivan remarked that Frank Small was quiet before he got to know us and we took it for maturity. Now he is like a cat with two tails and startled the population by stopping and shouting “Up the Republic” in Camden High St.
November 25 Monday (London): I worked on chronology all day. This book is proving a very heavy job. In the evening Peter Mulligan and Toni Curran and Malachy McKenna of Belfast were in the office. Later Declan Hobson came in. He told me that his father is rapidly improving and is taking short walks and playing with the children. At first he would not allow Fr Martin to publish his book on the Volunteers. But now it appears next week with a preface by De Valera. “Dev will want to alter it,” said Bulmer. “He’ll not change one word,” said Fr Martin. Extracts were in the Irish Times last week and Telefis Eireann were down in Limerick.
At the same time he realises that Bulmer cannot live very long, and has made arrangements to acquire a grave in Roundstone. A certain difficulty arises because the only cemetery is Catholic, and while a grave has been reserved he is insisting that any ceremony should be the type held by his own denomination, the Society of Friends. There will be no last minute body-snatching, said Declan, who thought the Gilbert Murray affair scandalous. He had now got over his anti-Catholicism, which was strong during his Twenties – he was born just before the truce of 1921 in Baggot St., Dublin – but was still taking no chances. I told him that Eamon Martin had remarked to me, “nothing that was ever said against Bulmer Hobson was justified.” This because I had heard he was puzzling over whom to invite to give an oration. He had thought of Martin, whom he had not however met. His closest friend Dennis McCullough will hardly cross to Roundstone. But I mentioned also Liam O’Broin, who says Declan Hobson used to visit him in Galway.
He told me about Eoin MacNeill’s arrest. After escaping from his house-arrest on Easter Monday 1916 he went to MacNeill’s and stayed there all week. MacNeill at first insisted that they should go to the Post Office. Bulmer Hobson dissuaded him, “What good could we do?” On the Friday a military car arrived, with a Captain in charge to arrest MacNeill. McNeill was being driven out – there was a long drive – when Bulmer Hobson returned from a walk and noticed the Captain with MacNeill in the car. He knew the Captain, who was a Belfast man, at least by sight. Hobson waved to MacNeill and the Captain and then passed on up the drive. The Captain had orders to arrest MacNeill, and he was arresting MacNeill, and that was that.
We discussed the possibility of De Valera going to Roundstone if he is spared [ie. for Bulmer Hobson’s funeral]. Declan Hobson was against it. Bulmer would haunt him for the rest of his life. He is very anti-Dev. “The uncrowned King of Ireland for thirty years and what has he done with it?” In the thirties, he said, Bulmer Hobson was interested only in economics. When De Valera was returned in 1932 he took him a plan to end unemployment – involving afforestation. “Come and see me tomorrow,” said Dev. He went. “Bulmer,” said the Taoiseach “That’s the very thing I want; you’ll be hearing from me”. He is waiting yet, said Declan – he submitted it to his Finance Department, and at once it was ruled out. Yet neither Declan, nor seemingly his father either, seem to take seriously, or enquire into the cause of, the financial limitations that were imposed.
One final anecdote – Declan Hobson thought the assassination of Kennedy appalling. “But thank God that other fellow’s shot! [ie. Lee Oswald] It spares us a political trial and the end of all prospects of a detente between America and Russia.”
November 29 Friday (London): I received a letter from Hugh Moore asking me if I would go over to Belfast in January to address a “school” he is organising in conjunction with Dublin. The subject is Partition. As I have arranged with Gerry Curran to get out the first two issues of 1964 in hopes that I can finish Mellows, I declined.
November 30 Saturday (London): Yesterday, I omitted to note, I heard news about the activities of the Dublin rats who tried to smash the Connolly Association. It seems that Andy 0’Neill has now shown his true colours by trying to organise a faction in his branch [ie. of the CPGB], ostensibly to support the Chinese policy in international affairs. I understand Furlong is with him as is to be expected, and one or two more.
Sean Redmond returned from the North with not a great deal done.
December 1 Sunday (London): The weather has turned colder. So far the autumn was mild. But it is not bad and I said a few words in Hyde Park. We have had a tremendous reception this weekend, and the best sale since Easter.
December 2 Monday (London): Sean Redmond secured the interesting news that that scoundrel Prendergast* is mixed up with the pro-Chinese faction and that there will shortly be a big meeting to discuss things. Of course everybody wants to go and we may not be able to hold our usual Tuesday working party. This week we could not pay Sean Redmond’s wages. This shook him, and I think no harm. But I am not seriously worried – the money is there. I worked out a plan for him. (*Kay Beauchamp imparted this information, but a few days later said it was incorrect)
December 3 Tuesday (London): Margot Parrish went off to Kenya for the celebrations – with Sheila O’Brien she ran the famous Kenya Committee which certainly made a noise in its time – and Jane Tate took over the Connolly Association finances again after about eleven years! I think it was Jane who preceded Pat Bond, or perhaps Maggie Larmour came after her. We scraped together a few pounds for Sean and perhaps can manage the same on Thursday.
December 6 Friday (London): A further letter from Hughie Moore pressed me to go to Belfast on the first weekend in March. I offered them March 14, but I do not think this would do them. Sean Redmond went to Reading.
December 9 Monday (London): There was a General Purposes Committee in the evening after I had spent all day on the “Irish World” at Colindale. It was of some use. I had left word asking Sean to prepare a report which he did, and I found him puzzling over it in the evening. When it was at length delivered it was deficient in political content – so the disease is diagnosed and is the usual one. He had made a real effort however. I think he wants to be told what to do, but because he feels he needs direction he resents criticism. So we must provide education with direction and not too much criticism – just enough to stimulate him.
Chris Sullivan passed over an interesting document, namely an invitation he had received, which was headed Irish Socialist, Dublin, and invited all readers to meet the Editor at a social at the “Pindar of Wakefield” on January 11. We had seen adverts for a social on this date in the Daily Worker. The first advert called it an “Irish Social” and since it included the pleasant advice “bring your shillelaghs”, we imagined it was under English auspices, although that mountainous intriguer Joe O’Connor was announced as MC. But now we are not so sure. Sean Redmond and I speculated that perhaps O’Connor had persuaded that sectish ignoramus Durkin to organise it and having that agreement had communicated with Dublin and induced them to interfere. Then when I reached home I recalled the Joint Council some years ago when all but Nolan were for a single Communist programme for all Ireland. When indeed Sean Murray pressed very hard for the arrangement now carried out, two partly contradictory, “overlapping” programmes, Nolan pressed very hard. Finally, Betty Sinclair decided to challenge him. In a metallic voice she asked, “Brother Nolan, I want to ask you a straight question. If we agree to a joint programme with the Irish Workers’ League, and sign it for the Northern Ireland Communist Party, will you be prepared to sign it for the Workers League, so that it bears the signatures of the two parties?” “Well,” Nolan hedged, “That’s another matter”. And the proposal was dropped. Carmody is Editor of the Irish Socialist and author of the programme. But he is probably highly averse to having his name connected with the CPGB. And so he steps into something which may well prove embarrassing for him, for a thing called in this hole and corner way might attract every ultra-Chinese sectary in London. We forgot to ask Chris Sullivan how he got it. It is printed in green, so possibly with the “Workers Voice”.
December 10 Tuesday (London): Again I was in Colindale. In the evening Sean Redmond and I went to Palme Dutt’s lecture (a very brilliant one) on the present disagreement in the world Communist movement [between the Chinese and Russians], and we met Chris Sullivan, Robbie Rossiter, Elsie O’Dowling, Toni Curran, Pat Bond and a few more. Chris Sullivan told us that he received the Dublin notice through the post. The interesting thing was that other recipients of the Workers Voice [the Irish Workers League weekly bulletin] did not receive it – even Sean Redmond’s father. So the intention is to keep it secret from us. A very creditable piece of intrigue! Now what was most interesting was who was absent tonight – the dissident group of course, Prendergast who hates Dutt, but more surprisingly Joe O’Connor, Betty O’Shea and the snake Fred O’Shea. These absences are very interesting. So we will watch what happens. According to Mollie Mandel, McCreevy’s crew had over 300 at a meeting. Where does their money come from, asked Deighan. Sean Redmond tells me that he is touring branches of the MCF!
December 11 Wednesday (London): Colindale again, then the Central Branch meeting. Sean Redmond went to Slough, where Cooley [Michael (Mike) Cooley, a CA member and trade union activist; later an authority on scientific systems in industry] had arranged a meeting.
December 12 Thursday (London): Last summer when there was much publicity attached to the Six Counties, “Peace News” sent its circulation manager to see me and ask for an article. It was plain from the start that he was angling for circulation among the Irish. However I did him the article called “Civil Liberties in Northern Ireland”, posted it off and received an acknowledgment. It did not appear. A few days ago Sean went into Houseman’s to buy a pen, and met the same man who told him the Editor had been directed to us by Marcus Lipton. There had been the intention of publishing it but for some reason he showed it to a Scotchman who was an “expert on Ireland”, who said it was all wrong. He was evidently an “expert” in keeping Ireland in subjection and didn’t like the anti-imperialist tone of the article despite its being written in a style suitable to the snivelling neo-Manchester Guardian. When I heard this I wrote and asked for its return. Today it came with a complex set of apologies and quotations from the aforesaid Scotchman, one of their directors seemingly, and I imagine at the University of Edinburgh – another Carter, to be sure. It was simply a complaint that I did not do the Unionists justice. But the interesting thing is the confirmation of the functions of the university people, to act as censors and imperial sounding boards in all manner of key places.
December 13 Friday (London): After making enquiries of Kay Beauchamp Sean Redmond discovered what purports to be the truth about the O’Connor Social. She says that O’Riordan wrote requesting it, and that Durkin received the request. Last year when a similar request came the District Committee (or their Executive) deputed the organising of the event to a committee composed of Durkin, Aherne, O’Connor and Prendergast (what a collection!) and these made the arrangements [Greaves considered that CPGB official John Mahon and others on the party’s London District Committee, English and Irish, were unsympathetic to the work of the Connolly Association because of their hostility to Irish national aspirations]. Durkin considers that last year’s decision was good for this year and made all the arrangements. Kay Beauchamp, who will never learn anything, thinks this arrangement excellent and wants O’Connor on the Covent Garden Committee and somebody on hers. I guessed the former demand would be made. But the essence of the thing is that rather than arrange a solidarity meeting for O’Riordan in which the British movement would be seen to be giving help, the matter is pushed off on to a few individual Irishmen all notorious for their leftist opposition to the main Irish movement in Britain.
December 14 Saturday (London): A further letter from Hugh Moore accepted my date of March 14 for the school in Belfast. So I will have to go.
December 16 Monday (London): I was busy with the paper all day. Sean Redmond is working very well just now and one or two wee criticisms by Toni Curran seem to have had effect.
December 21 Saturday (London): All week I was busy on the paper – above all held up by Tony Coughlan [who acted as Dublin correspondent and was occasionally behind with his monthly copy] and J.Platts Mills [a QC and former CPGB MP]. I was out with Joe Deighan in the evening – for reasons connected with his emotional temperament he was down in the dumps.
December 23 Monday (London): Only today was I able to get off the last of the paper, and that wretch of a Platts-Mills has let me down.
December 24 Tuesday (Liverpool): I saw Peter Mulligan and Sean Redmond – with the irrepressible Frank Small – in the morning and left for Liverpool on the midday Scot changing at Crewe. I was fortunate in the journey. Phyllis seemed to be in better health and less tired than usual at this time of year. She had braved the frost and ice to bring a goose from near her country cottage in the Stiperstones of Salop and taken all in all was in good form. The furniture from Mary Greaves’s which is her share is now here and she will take it to Salop.
December 25 Wednesday (Liverpool/Birkenhead): We merely ate and talked all day. There were cards from Hilda and Vic and Edie – the Taylor family apart from AEG [his mother] is still intact, while the Greaveses have all disappeared. I got from Phyllis the archives of the Greaves family which were in Mary Greaves’s possession. There is not much left, but it is extremely interesting and worth a little research. What is most striking is the variety of origins of the family and the comparatively recent date of things we thought had stood for all time.
December 26 Thursday (Birkenhead): This was another similar day, eating, reading, talking. In a way I would choose a more active relaxation, since the weather has broken these past two days and become bright and mild. But it was pleasant enough.
December 27 Friday (London): I returned to London where the weather has also improved, though less and later. In the office which I called into were Frank Small and Peter Mulligan busily getting off circulars for next week.
December 28 Saturday (London): I was in the office in the morning and read the proofs of the paper and returned them to Ripley. Peter Mulligan and others came, Frank Small later. At about 7.30 pm. Sean Redmond appeared, somewhat excited in the centre of his new vast dark duffel coat; apparently his father had refused at the last minute to go to Manchester with the family and told his mother to go on her own if she wanted to – and she did. Now Sean must go home with her as this first crass disobedience (his command being a prohibition) in 30 years is expected to have induced him to put his head in a gas oven or return to Dublin in an anticlimactic frenzy – or spend five days on the loose, which is most likely. It appears most likely that he asked himself the question, “How much drink can be bought for the price of the fare to Manchester?”
December 29 Sunday (London): There was nothing much today. One or two people like Frank Small and Peter Mulligan came into the office.
December 30 Monday (London): I missed the train to Ripley and had to take the midday one. Fortunately, it is very fast. Then I took a taxi, read the proofs and Terry Reynolds, rebellious son, ran me back to Derby. So I caught the 5.45. One thing puzzled me. One of the compositors said that when Sean Redmond read the proofs last he had with him a “girl” – but apparently not the usual kind, for Melville had said, “It wouldn’t be his daughter, would it?” So that is only less mysterious than where he picked her up, as he was making a complicated journey.
December 31 Tuesday (London): In the evening Alan Morton had dinner with me. Young John is delighted with his first term at Liverpool, and Alan himself is quite pleased with his job as Reader in Botany at Chelsea Polytechnic. After he had gone I went to the Connolly Association New Year’s Eve social. It was a passable success but by no means powerful. Everybody left at about 11.30 pm. but for a few, and though one can mainly blame London Transport, it is illustrative of how even community custom is being destroyed and the whole population being made slaves of the lamp
January 1 Wednesday (London): The mild weather seems to have settled. In the evening the Central Branch held its meeting but nothing much happened there. Peter Mulligan, Frank Small, Sean Redmond were there but no others.
January 8 Wednesday (London): I have been working at Colindale most days, which have been uneventful. Today Sean Redmond told me Kay Beauchamp had telephoned him asking him to canvass the Daily Worker on Sunday. This is of course his football day. So he told her he was too busy with the Connolly Association and couldn’t let it down! It may be she is at her wits end to get people; but it could also be an attempt to put Sean (and the CA) on the spot.
January 12 Sunday (London): From Sean Redmond I learned that O’Connor’s social was a powerful success, so much so that hardly an extra person could have been packed in. It was announced that O’Riordan was going to work full time – I had heard a rumour of this [Michael O’Riordan had previously worked as a busman in Dublin]. Of course he will try to raise his funds over here, and off our people too. This alarms Sean Redmond, who only gets his wages by a thread as it is. Worse, he says Nolan set off for Manchester, today, presumably on a similar fund-raising mission. One thing the Irish Workers League have always realized to perfection is the importance of finance. Sean had heard that Lawless and Flynn were there, plus a run of long-haired teenage motts who are admirers of Dominic Behan. Of course an element of competition will have some kind of advantage, and if (as appears likely) the Nationalist Party reintroduce the Irish Question into British politics, we may get more understanding of our function.
January 20 Monday (London): I had a long talk with Declan Hobson, who brought some things from his father I had asked for. The old man is now much recovered and more or less as I saw him at Roundstone. Declan told me some family history. Apparently Bulmer Hobson broke with MacNeill around 1923 or 1924 when he had twice promised him a job (presumably his publishing House, Martin Lester, had by then failed) and twice failed to get it him. It was then PS O’Hegarty got him a job in some section of the Stationery Office. Bulmer married a Catholic, but the marriage broke up. Declan Hobson was brought up Catholic but at the age of 18 stopped going to Mass and now seems to regard himself as a Protestant. That then is the explanation of his name. He speaks of his father constantly as the only person who ever influenced him in his life, and as possessing the strongest personality of anybody he knows. Apparently the family were friendly for years with Austin Clarke, and Bulmer Hobson himself ran a “Salon” each week in the approved Dublin style, where they all talked (I’ve seen it – a bloody waste of time!). Also they visited Sean T. O’Kelly whose book of memoirs Declan describes as written in schoolboy Irish and telling nothing new. His family used to visit Sean T – this surprises me but perhaps not all links were severed after 1916 – and Declan says that Sean T. O’Kelly’s memory went long ago. He would tell stories Bulmer Hobson had told him as if the events happened to himself! He spoke of the reasons why Bulmer had failed to reach the top – “MacNeill would have been first Premier, but Bulmer Hobson might have been second” – and gave the precise explanation I had arrived at myself, the correctness of which his sister also testifies to. That is that he was unwilling to fight, and when put in the wrong withdrew instead of justifying his position.
We then got on to English affairs. He is persisting in his decision to retire from the Movement for Colonial Freedom which he considers has now fulfilled its function. He says the talk of “neo-colonialism” is only an excuse to keep it going. The issues are now between Government and Government and the only thing that friends of the former colonial peoples can do is to work in the Labour Party – which begs the question, since the problem then beckons “how”? He has little opinion of Ian Page’s political ability – he is no use at the game of “plotting”, whereas old Helen Bastable was. In other words he is too honest, but then Declan Hobson thinks that his father’s (and his own) principal characteristic is “integrity” – thus he excuses MacDiarmada with rueful indignation that he succeeded, while he despises Jinks. He says Butler [ie. Conservative politician RA Butler] made the same mistake as Lord Curzon, waiting to be “fallen back on” as Premier, and saw a comparative stripling [ie. Harold Macmillan] snatch the prize from under his nose. Butler could have and should have called a cabinet meeting and seized the Premiership. “That’s how the big prizes are got.” It was 10.15 pm when we finished.
January 21 Tuesday (London): Sean went on a deputation to Wilson [Labour Party leader Harold Wilson] who promised to make Brockway’s Bill an official measure if he is returned. The deputation then waited on Selwyn Lloyd [Conservative Leader of the House of Commons] who refused to give a minute’s time to debate the thing, despite all the earnest pleadings. In his speech in the morning Brockway made reference to the visit of the Nationalists from Northern Ireland.
January 22 Wednesday (London): I had a letter from (Bill) Somerset about this school I foolishly agreed to do at Belfast on March 14. The first proposal was that I give a lecture on Partition – which I presumed to mean an account of my researches. Now I see they want something more like a tripartite conference, which I can see being designed nicely from Dublin. Nolan is an expert at setting a scene carefully, mocking his victim on to the stage, and there extracting some concession from him as the alternative of embarrassment or humiliation. I have no desire to be the sole unrehearsed actor in one of his dramas. So I am thinking how to get out of it. I wrote and said I was coming in a strictly personal capacity. But that may not be enough safeguard.
January 25 Saturday (London): In the evening Joe O’Connor rang. Would I see him? I wondered what it was about – more Irish Workers League socials in London? Meetings? Some intrigue, I was sure.
What he began with surprised me. He said the police are intimidating him, trying to break his nerves by tapping on the floor of the flat above him and preventing his sleeping. Worse, the landlord looks queerly at him, and he is sure “they” are watching the house. I told him to pull himself together, though little enough I care if he does or he doesn’t. It is all very well to have a sane man wrecking one’s work – without a persecution maniac. Later he informed me that O’Riordan wants another London social on May 12, to commemorate Connolly and would I object. I said I had no rights in the matter but would certainly give no undertaking that the CA would not proceed with their own.
He then told me that while Durkin placed the advertisement in the Daily Worker he, O’Connor, had to do all the work. He sounded displeased, but it is impossible to place any reliance on what he says. I always felt he was a bit “touched”, yet people take him seriously.
I spoke to Cahir Healy on the phone. He is anxious that their deputation should see as many people as possible.
January 26 Sunday (London): In the late afternoon I went into the MCF conference, thanks to Ian Page, and heard the last concussions of a fireworks display between the platform (Maurice Orbach, Declan Hobson, Ian Page and a silently brooding John Eber) and the Trotskies. Then Brockway spoke – reasonably well. Seán and I buttonholed him to urge him to get Wilson to see the Nationalists, as Grimond’s [Liberal Party leader] acceptance, that gives them nothing, is being boosted in the Irish papers as far more than Wilson’s agreement to support Brockway’s Bill. He agreed to do his best but was not hopeful. I suggested George Brown as an alternative. Brockway said he had booked a room at the House of Commons for 5 pm. on Thursday. He wanted to invite all the Labour MPs. But who would finance the circular. We said we would. And who would send it out? We would.
January 27 Monday (London): Brockway telephoned his letter to Barbara Haq of the MCF who duplicated 300 copies. Seán wrote the addresses and by evening, when Peter Mulligan also came in to help, we had got most of them out. We discussed with Barbara Haq the possibility of a Trade Union meeting afterwards.
January 28 Tuesday (London): Sean Redmond had gone to Ripley for Gerry Curran, who is doing this issue of the paper, and I made arrangements for the second meeting. Allaun [Frank Allaun, Labour MP for Salford, Manchester] agreed to act as chairman for a half hour but some other MP must stand in afterwards.
In the afternoon a worried Bill Wainwright [of the Daily Worker] telephoned. I had three weeks ago sent him an article on the Nationalists visit in which I had described it as historic and “putting the Irish Question back into English politics”. But now he had received a circular from PJ Gormley [Nationalist MP at Stormont] which among other things contained a heading “Red hand – mailed fist” (which I am sure that Wainwright construed as an attack on Communism!) and actually attacked the Orange Order by recalling that it had been called the first Fascist organisation in Europe. This was “sectarianism”, “racism” and every other reprehensible “-ism” in the calendar. Would I agree to cutting the word “historic” or his readers would think we welcomed it unreservedly. I agreed. Twenty minutes later he was back again. He had seen Hughie Moore’s letter and bulletin, one of which said that while it was good to go and complain about gerrrymandering, nothing would come of it unless they raised the really important question of the Special Powers Act, and the other said that though the Nationalist demarche was to be welcomed the proper thing to complain about was the electoral system. He wanted to put those reservations in. I replied that the visitors were coming to lobby for Brockway’s anti-discrimination bill and nothing else should be allowed to cloud the main issue. But he was adamant. Then you must publish the article under a nom-de-plume, said I, and he then rang off in order to look for a name. Sean Redmond got back at 8.45 – with a filthy cold.
January 29 Wednesday (London): We completed the preparations for the meetings, and telephoned a few people like Ennals [of the NCCL] and Enid Lakeman [of the Electoral Reform Society].
January 30 Thursday (London): I forgot to record an amusing event yesterday. I learned from Cahir Healy that the delegation is staying at the Irish Club. Two days ago the Daily Worker had no invitation to the press conference. Tribune thought they had but were not sure. So I telephoned the Irish Club. After much clicking of extensions I was told, “There’s a press conference tonight, but we don’t know when it is.” I disbelieved this and rang Diamond of the Belfast Telegraph. He told me he believed there was a press conference, but he thought it would be after the events had taken place – meanwhile he was going to the Club at 4 pm. Seán and I had our first suspicion that no proper press conference was arranged, but that the respectable doctors, architects and businessmen at the Irish Club had invited a few select friends to hobnob with the senators.
When Sean and I were outside the House of Commons he said to me, “I wonder will the Anti-Partition League be here”. We went up to Room 9, and saw Marcus Lipton with the delegation. Then came a few Irish journalists and Brockway, John Parker [MP for Dagenham], Frank Allaun, and a few more – and Tadhg Feehan looking more concentratedly wretched than when I met him on the Nottingham train, presumably because now he was not sustained by “Lolita”[Tadhg Feehan, formerly a worker with the Anti-Partition League, who had Irish Embassy connections]. All went well. About twelve MPs came. We found Lennon the most incisive character, McAteer the most statesmanlike, and Gormley the most energetic, but in a fussy slightly doctrinaire way. Lennon [Senator Gerard Lennon, who led the delegation] stated his case briefly and clearly. O’Connor seemed the great Hibernian, almost smacking his lips over his worldly success but deploring the sectarianism that denied it to others less fortunate if almost equally deserving. Old Connellan was an attractive countryman of the old gentlemanly type. Jennie Lee [Labour MP, widow of former Labour Health Minister Aneurin Bevan] cut into the proceedings with demands for action, which were seconded by Lipton, and a motion was drafted on the spot. I then told Lennon I had an application form for Short and Harlands which asked the prospective employees’ religion. He was most anxious to get a photostat, which I promised him.
After the first meeting there was not much time. Some journalists shepherded Lennon and a few more into the press gallery, but it grew full. The policeman therefore directed McAteer, Senator O’Hare, and a few more to the cafeteria, but we wouldn’t be let in without a pass. This was serious. Suddenly Sean Redmond spotted Grimond and with rare presence of mind sent O’Hare after him, after which we all trooped into the cafeteria with Grimond at our head.
At the second meeting I met Havekin [Alf Havekin, former leading light in the Anti-Partition League], who came over full of smiles expressing pleasure that I was there. At this meeting all spoke. Enid Lakeman and Ennals were there. The latter specially approached Sean and asked him if the Connolly Association would refrain from proposing any resolution on Ireland for this year’s conference – something he promised to “consider”. Consider what trap was being laid, he meant. Again Lennon proved the most impressive brain, but Cahir Healy had more opportunity this time (The Division bell went while he was speaking before, and while the MPs were out he decided to look for his coat, which he had mislaid) and it was clear that he alone had the real inner fire that makes a leader. His words came from feeling and conviction, Lennon’s from political grasp. Apart from Connellan and O’Hare, who are very decent fellows, there was some artifice in all the others, even McAteer. O’Connor gave us the “respectability” slant, and a youngish man Reilly performed a somewhat outmoded party piece in a sterling denunciation of communism in which he kindly promised the supposedly belligerent British people that he wanted discrimination ended so that he could march “shoulder to shoulder” with them in a war against the East. Woddis was there, and was as amused as I was.
MacAteer expressed himself well satisfied – Richardson was the only one who showed some antipathy to the Connolly Association, but his speech was the only empty one, and consisted mainly of funny stories. He had been a bricklayer in Liverpool during the war and had risen to be general foreman. He was what one might describe as a “stage-bricklayer”. And so after it was over Sean Redmond returned to the office and then had a drink and Feehan said to Lennon, “Come to the Club, there is food there” and they went off.
January 31 Friday (London): We are still sorting out our impressions of the past few days. It is clear that we have neutralised, thanks to Brockway, the effect of Wilson’s refusal to meet the delegates. We have shown ourselves a material power able to get the Nationalists to what the Embassy bunch [ie.Ireland’s official Embassy in London] could not get them. But we have forced rather than forged unity and must not expect such an alignment to endure. The last few days, with yesterday’s showdown, epitomise the several years that preceded them, expressing the position reached in a most striking way.
February 1 Saturday (London): Sean is quite unwell. His cold has set his nose bleeding at intervals, and he is understandably most sorry for himself. Frank Small on the other hand is beside himself with excitement and almost flies up the stairs three times a day to find out if anything new has happened. I went to Camden Town with Charlie Cunningham.
February 2 Sunday (London): Joe Deighan has been in Belfast. His mother died a few weeks ago, and his young brother, the alcoholic, committed suicide last weekend. Joe is naturally most upset. But he was able to see Jack Bennett and Hughie Moore. Jack is now growing impatient with Sinn Fein, or so he tells Joe. The story about Hughie Moore is more complex. Just before Christmas I foolishly agreed to give a lecture at a school organised by Belfast and Dublin at Bangor. Then Somerset sent me a letter announcing that after my own lecture I would be “transformed into a student” and expected to integrate the conclusions of the school in the programme in England. I then told him I could not go on these conditions. He has withdrawn them.
February 3 Monday (London): Last night Tom Redmond rang the office and told Peter Mulligan that Tommy Henry had died last Wednesday and was buried on Saturday. Cerebral haemorrhage was the immediate cause, but when he was in hospital other diseases were found. I imagine he would be in his late sixties. He was born in Mayo, and came to England at the age of fifteen, and was a character of characters. During the slump he went to Blackpool and had a stall at which people chose deliberately queered pop-guns, after firing which they kept what they hit. He called the stall the “diddlums”, which hugely amused Tony Coughlan when he heard it from the Kilroys. He was active in the Unemployed Movement and the Connolly Association for many years. I understand his sons and members of the CA were at the funeral.
Throughout the day I made preparation for departure.
February 4 Tuesday (Glasgow): I took the 12.10 am. to Glasgow sharing a sleeper with a young British army subaltern dressed in khaki from head to foot including handkerchief, but with brilliantly polished black shoes – a Scotchman, whose father was from Stewartstown and his mother from Glenties. His mother could understand Irish but not speak it; his grandmother could do both, and he neither – and he was dressed in khaki as a symbol of the persecution which spreads from England all the time.
At Glasgow I called on Mr Woods of the Scottish Youth Hostel Associaton office. He introduced me to one National Official who has just retired at 65 and told me he had still 6 1/2 years to go. He was vigorous and well-preserved and could have been fifty. His son, a pallid boy of 20 or 21 wearing a funny leather jacket, or whatever it should be called, had a few words about his car insurance. He is at Glasgow university. That times change was also illustrated by the story of Inveralligin. The annexe has rotted away, and the old hostel cannot contain the crowds brought by the new road. The SYHA has bought a house and wants to rebuild it. But Lord Lovelace the landlord spends most of his time in the Bahamas and when in Scotland is too inebriated to attend to business he is not interested in. So there may be no Inveralligin at all this year and the new one will probably be a horror – “Tastes change,” said Mr Woods. He spoke of his long efforts to “centralise the YHA in Scotland” through the years. And I had a suspicion that the tastes that changed were in fact the figures in account books. He said that the horrible new buildings being erected really designed themselves – the tower cranes had a certain range and the lighting and space regulations said this or that. There is of course something in this. And he told me how the SYHA got a wee hostel in Renfrew (I think this was the district) and all went well till the building of the new road was announced. The value of every landlord’s land leaped upwards and (help to the Highlands!) with visions of caravan sites, the good men demanded £800 for a shack not worth £8. I left on the 2.5 pm. for Perth and Inverness and booked in at the Eastgate Hotel which is comfortable enough.
February 5 Wednesday (Inveralligin): I took the train to Achnasheen – the restaurant car has been taken off it, and at various stations there are notices that freight traffic facilities are now withdrawn. The work of destruction goes on, faster and faster. As waste and frivolity increases here, the explosion of the “neo-colonial” have-not world is prepared by a constant deprivation even of the means of existence. I saw Alec MacLennon at Kinlochevin. He told me the new road would mean little increase of business in Inveralligin and Diabaig but “more people passing through”. The merchants and the crofters would welcome a convenience, but that was all. Across Loch Torridon I saw the hideous scar they have made – apparently it is impossible to make anything look decent today.
At Iveralligin I saw Mrs MacDonald, who made me a cup of tea, and Kenny later. It was true that the hostel is doomed, so I will presumably be the last to stay here. Strange how often this happens – we were the last to use the Workingmen’s Club at Holborn before it was converted into money-making offices, and the last to use the Orange Tree before it was knocked down to widen the road. Everywhere the things sought by the ordinary people are destroyed, the same people being told that they should want something else and pay for it.
I saw modern stamp trading at work. Coopers was rightly famous for the quality of its food – in Liverpool most of all, but also in Glasgow. Yesterday I went into Coopers at Glasgow, found that having entered a door marked “In” it was impossible to get out without passing the pay-desk. On principle I decided not to buy the bacon I had gone in for. I did buy some yogurt though. As I came out I stood in a queue – only one pay exit being in use – as a harassed assistant calculated the stamps customers were entitled to. Now these cartons were marked 10d. I bought some in Coopers at Inverness today – at 1/3. “I saw them at 10d at Coopers in Glasgow,” I said. “Ah,” said the assistant (this was not a self-service store) “they have their special prices on a different day from us”. So the purchaser’s outgoing bears no relation to real prices.
Mrs MacDonald told me that Lord Lovelace refused to allow the SYHA [Scottish Youth Hostel Association] to put up the horror they planned and that everybody in the village agreed. But she was displeased that the new hotel was so near the village, as the hostellers would destroy its community life. She thought the new road would make an enormous difference and the place would be inundated with cars.
February 6 Thursday (Inveralligin):I went to Craig, taking out a load of supplies, but returned to Inveralligin for the night. On a fast examination the hostel shows some deterioration. The hand of Bridget Gordon is no longer in it. Also everything is very damp.
February 7 Friday (Craig): I went out to Craig and remained, taking yet another load of supplies obtained in Inveralligin.
February 8 Saturday (Craig): I went to Diabaig to pick up a parcel of books from the Post Office and met Mrs MacKenzie with whom I stayed at the end of 1962. Her son is engaged on a water scheme which will bring a main supply from a loch two miles up in the hills. But most villagers have their own supply, and (says Mrs MacKenzie) if they adhere to that they will have no water rate to pay. Others believe they will have to pay it anyway. Meanwhile with the tarring of the road nearing completion, they all have plenty of work. Mrs MacKenzie invited me to come down and take a meal of newly caught herrings but I was pressed for time. The ground is very wet and I did not wish to be caught on the bog in darkness. There is no moon.
February 9 Sunday (Craig): The weather has been extraordinarily mild since the snow of last Tuesday night thawed. It was only a sprinkle on the West coast and did not reach down to the shore. I spent the day collecting fuel, and the night writing.
February 10 Monday (Craig): I went to Diabaig and collected the other parcel, containing a much-needed sleeping bag, and a two-gallon drum of paraffin from Inveralligin. I called to Mrs MacKenzie. She has named her house “Ceol na mara”[ie.music of the sea] and expects much more motor traffic over the new road. I mentioned the daffodils which are manfully struggling against the depredations of sheep, deer and wild goats – which eat them I do not know. “It was I took them there,” she said. “and my grandfather planted them.” Apparently they are a Craig family. Her husband was forty years a salmon fisherman near Red Point, and living at Craig, went to the salmon station by sea. They lived in the huge house near the shore, and it was there she took the daffodils in 1921. The path from the junction stone, as I call it, to the shore was then in use. When the hostel was first slated her husband was warden, and her mother used to fill the empty jam jars left behind, with jam which she sold the visitors along with milk, eggs and crowdie from their own stock. A coast road had been promised. “If it had been built there would now be seven flourishing families at Craig.”
She told me that the landlord who owns the Diabaig-Craig-Red Point coast was recently in Gaerloch and was asked about the road. “I hope I never see the day,” she replied. The landlord who has the Shieldaig-Applecross strip wants £10,000 for three miles. If the road were open the Craig coast would be afforested by the Government. It seems strange, however, that they didn’t buy the land and afforest from their own trades, rather than wait till the motor-road has increased the price of the land tenfold. “Help the Highlands” means enrich the landlords, by all appearances.
I spoke of Mrs MacDonald’s dissatisfaction that the new hostel is likely to be in the village. “Ah, well,” said Mrs MacKenzie, “that is like putting a spoon into her cabbage. She owns the croft and she gets money for it.” I assured her that Mrs MacDonald had rejected the plan of a London enthusiast to fight for the retention of the old hostel, on the grounds that her brother-in-law might want to work the croft, or they themselves might want to build there. She then expressed the view that the young people from the towns behaved like savages, especially on “the Sabbath”. There were two families of townspeople in Craig, and they would not keep the Sabbath, and were consequently “black sheep”. Townspeople said when they came to Diabaig, “There’s nothing there.” She replied, “There’s peace and quiet, and we want it to stay there.”
February 11 Tuesday (Craig): I remained all day in Craig. The “Aladdin” lamp brought by Bridget Gordon broke down, and it took me most of the morning to discover the trouble, oil the parts that were jammed, and have it in working order again.
February 12 Wednesday (Craig): The mild weather continues, but there was a wee touch of cold in the late afternoon as the wind, up to now Southerly, swings towards the East. An old fisherman in grey gansey and thigh boots told me that while he was glad of the mild weather the old country people of his youth wouldn’t like it. “Why not?” I asked. “It isn’t natural,” he said, “and they wouldn’t approve of it at all, at all.” I thought this expression confined to Ireland where indeed it has largely gone out of use. Alas there were no herrings. “The net came up slack.” I asked old MacKenzie what had happened to them. “They’re not in the deep sea; there’ll be none till next week. I’ll not put out the net tonight.” So though Mrs MacKenzie gave me a few on Monday, that looks like being the last. I collected my camera, which Sean Redmond had sent to Diabaig, and got fresh milk from Alec MacLarnon, who now does a delivery for the Achnasheen hotel company. He has prevented his children talking to anybody in English till they learned Gaelic, but now one of them goes to school. He seems to possess strong religious convictions. I remember coming from Kinlochlevin last Wednesday, commenting on the foolishness of sheep, which I said was due to those animals not being trained for work, and thus developing only passive responses. “That would take you into a very deep question,” he replied – to him obviously sheep, dogs, cattle etc. were not domesticated by man, but created by God. He showed his train of thought by turning to the folly of space-rockets, which might however he thought show those who fired them how “puny” their human efforts were. I expressed doubt whether it would have any such effect and he quite properly shared my scepticism. “All that money,” he said, “that is wasted, could turn the Highlands of Scotland into good grazing land.” Today he said we should be thankful for the mild weather and the good weather, and that from his knowledge of humanity, it was not thankful enough. So there he was, digging a ditch after a day’s work, feeling thankful for what it brought him while London, is full of parasites discontented that they can’t get more for nothing!
February 13 Thursday (Craig): Today it was much colder, but dry. I spent the whole day at Craig, and noted the destruction of the fine line of trees which bordered the river. They have no doubt been cut down by hostellers for fuel. I saw more signs of human destructiveness this year than ever when Bridget was here. The emergency stocks were left depleted, and though the place is open enough to absorb most follies, it is plain that a good warden is essential to keep control. If I had the summer off any time I would do the job myself as a holiday.
I got on with the “Introduction”, which is heavy work, raising questions which I have not the data to answer, and which there is little scientific work yet done on. To make matters worse I am not really sure that I am tackling the thing the right way and this work is experimental. I may have to scrap the lot!
February 14 Friday (Craig): Today dawned brilliantly clear, with the Coolins above the Northwestern tongue of Applecross forest, and the drifts of remaining snow clearly marked on the Storn, which looked only a couple of miles away. There seemed to be a dusting of hoar frost – when I put my feet on it, I found the ground was frozen hard. But by midday it had thawed where the sun fell. A day for photographs, and I took a few. Even in the late afternoon there were occasional thin sheets of ice on the stones – just how they were formed I would hardly say, except perhaps that they represent a water table of yesterday, whereas today’s is lower, and have so to speak “clumped” on dry ground.
Almost at dusk it froze again. And behind Venus and Jupiter I would say there was the “zodiacal light”. No moon. When will it appear? The stars were as brilliant as I ever saw them, and with Sirius just clearing the hill almost matching the two planets and the great winter display the southwest, there was a fine sight. I noticed for the first time what a beautiful star is Pollux – not noticed in all the surrounding finery by as steady as Capella and richer in hue.
February 15 Saturday (Craig): This was an unsatisfactory day. The intense night cold crowded the bedroom. I had to get up for more blankets. Then I slept it out till 12 and going to Diabaig late to get the parcel MacDonald was to have left at MacKenzies (No. 24), I found them out. I got milk off Alec MacLennon but disturbed him at dinner and found him just a wee bit cool. Then because it was late I had no time for getting eggs and on my return realised I was almost out of tea! Moreover, I had left the stove open and it had burnt itself out, and had to be lit again in the cold.
The weather was less brilliantly clear; there was a slight high mist as with very fine weather. For three days there have been low lenticular clouds lying along the western horizon – sometimes an odd one comes over land at night. Tonight there was a low barrier at about 10 degrees elevation. But the frost came down again, though the day was definitely warmer, as everybody says better than summer. A few daisies have opened around the house, and I have put brushwood over the daffodil clumps to protect them from the sheep, which come down every evening from the higher ground. There was a thin wisp of a moon at last.
A few days ago Mrs MacKenzie (Ceol na Mara) told me that in her young days they used to go down the cliff path. Then her husband said (and I was sceptical) he could walk to Craig in half an hour. “We know all the tracks,” he said. Knowing it was several miles, I was sceptical. At the same time I had often taken a cut across the bay, following a long glacial valley to the point where the regular track begins at the crossing of the stream. Today it occurred to me that the reason why the present track swings so near the sea is that Mrs MacKenzie’s family made it; as there were other families at Craig they would use a shorter cut – would it be on the north side of the stream, with a crossing in the glacial valley? I looked today and found it – quite close to my short cut across the bay.
February 16 Sunday (Craig): A good day today. The morning was less bright and the wind was stronger, and less steady, a point or two to the South, I would say. The ice-sheets here and there presented all day. I would say it was a little colder owing to the wind. There were streaks of cirrus instead of lenticular cloud lying over Skye and it was more hazy. Then at night there were scraps of what looked like fracto-stratus, or very low fracto-cumulus. By 11 pm. it was overcast and when I went out I found the wind coming round the Northwest end of the house – it was too dark to see the smoke. But that looks as if the fine weather is over – and my turf not saved. One day would have done it! Still, I got on so well in the evening that I finished the Introduction. It is long, but if it can be condensed will be a very useful summary of nineteenth century Irish history. The moon made a better job of it tonight, and looked like the pan of a balance, the other being Venus, and Jupiter holding the scales.
February 17 Monday (Craig): It was as I expected different today. The first thing I saw on going out was a flurry of snow flakes. But nothing came of it. There was a raw cold blustery northeast wind which grew quite strong. A towel and stockings I hung on the line before going to Diabaig were dry – bone dry – when I got back and were flying horizontal in the breeze. A snow-shower crossed Ben Alligin at midday and it remained dusted with white. None of the more seaward mountains showed any snow. There was much wild drifting cloud and the sun was of little use. Still I felt I had been “done good” by the walk. I got the parcel, and had a cup of tea at old Mrs MacKenzie’s. Duncan, Alec’s brother, came in for his lunch. He works the croft and it has his sheep at Craig. He has a herd of about a dozen cattle not yet calved. He was at Craig on Saturday, looking for two sheep that are missing. He found one dead in the barn by the stone house. And, said Mrs Mackenzie, she lost a chicken last night – probably to a cat – and so did the woman next door! She told me that in the olden days the people of Diabaig used to go along the Craig path to cut turf, and after it was dry would carry it back in creels. “But everybody is too lazy to cut peats these days,” she remarked. Duncan gave me about 5 lbs of his own potatoes, and I bought a dozen eggs. So I am well supplied should the snow come down badly. I learned that Bridget Gordon married a man from Poolewe, and that is probably why she does not come to Diabaig. There were three wardens here last year, and the last, a young man just graduated called John Williams, was not much use and spent most of his time in Diabaig. The sunset though was as wild as possible, with a furnace-like background covered with drifts of flying fracto-stratus. I learned in Diabaig there was snow in England.
February 18 Tuesday (Craig): Today was bright enough but very cold. About ¼ inch ice was on the bog water, and the ground was hard. The lenticular clouds still appear in the west, and I wonder if the decrepit cumulo-nimbus that just can’t squeeze out more than two flakes of a snow shower becomes lenticular cumulo-stratus when it gets over the sea. Why should it? I had to break ice in the river to draw water, a thing I never did before in my life. The sunset again was like a furnace behind bands of cloud, and I hope there is no snow coming this way. I did some work on Chapter 2 but find the whole thing very hard going.
February 19 Wednesday (Craig): I was in the wars today. Possibly from sitting up in a draught last night, didn’t I have the most excruciating arthritic pain in my left shoulder – I wish I had learned what all these bones are. I stayed in bed till 12 noon thinking how cold it was outside. When I got up I found the sun blazing and quite a mild atmosphere. The river had only small plates of ice on the stones and some of the bog-water, I imagine that with most hernia acid in it, had thawed. So I set off for Diabaig despite the shoulder – wasn’t I only a hundred yards gone when I had a colic, not intense but nagging, that went on all the way there and back. I spoke to Sean Redmond and learned that Brockway has put down a motion for an enquiry. I learned from Mrs MacDonald that the lamp for Lochan has come at last. I dragged my way back with two gallons of paraffin and two bottles of milk from Alec MacLennan who was not disturbed at meal today and is in great form, only he is talking to his children in English which I don’t approve of. When I got back I was cold (having come slowly) and feeling very put-out. I rested a while by the fire, drank lemon and sugar in hot water, and by 10 pm. could take a cup of tea. By about 10.30 I was more or less back to normal. How people do a life’s work fighting against sickness I do not know. When I am unwell I can think of nothing else.
The heather was being burnt between Craig and the ravine with the stream in it. But I couldn’t see who was doing it. I imagine the idea is to improve the grazing for sheep. It was cloudy in the afternoon, but the night fell brilliantly clear. The wind has been variable all day but settled back again in the East. I heard from the Postmaster that there has been much snow in the North of England with drifts 15 feet deep.
February 20 Thursday (Craig): I remained at Craig all day and managed to start on Chapter 3 – but how the presence of living creatures complicates things! LS Gogan told me he was appointed secretary to the Volunteers in December 1913 and held the position for five months. Bulmer Hobson said he was appointed while he was in America. But he went to America immediately after Christmas 1913, and returned at latest by mid-February, or the end of the month at the very latest, and when he got back found Gogan sitting in the office surrounded with unanswered letters he had not the faintest notion what to do with. He then told MacNeill to take his youngster away, and installed Mellows. But Irish Freedom records Bulmer Hobson as presiding at the Ard Choisde of Na Fianna Eireann on February 8th, a letter from Mellows of the 15th indicates that he has the key of Hobson’s cottage, and Hobson is reported as speaking at an Emmet commemoration, probably Sunday March 8th, in New York or Philadelphia (Hobson did one, Pearse the other). So if Hobson was not also to protest, the Gogan story would be accepted at once – for Hobson would return in April, and Mellows take up his duties early in May! So where is the mistake?
Today was brilliantly fine with not a cloud in the sky all day. The wind seemed light from NW till evening when it came from the East. No lenticular clouds now. But colder – the river was scarcely frozen yesterday, but was more frozen than ever today. Wherever the sun did not fall the frost remained, a rather thicker hoar frost than previously. Down by the shore it was so warm that one could sit down. At night the moon shone brilliantly, and needless to say, within an hour of sunset, it was as cold as in the middle of the previous night.
February 21 Friday (Craig): Last night must have been the coldest of all. Yesterday I broke the ice in the stream with a stick. Today I had to crack it with my foot first, and it was an inch thick. There was little thawing today. At midday there were some business-like looking cirrus moving over from SW, but by dark they had not thickened appreciably, though there was a line of cirrostratus away down over Skye. I brought the dry turf in, but do not expect much from this frost. Venus and Jupiter are very close together now – but the moon is away in Taurus. It continued warm in the sun – while the ground is hard with frost! By 8 pm. there was a 22 degree lunar halo, no rain.
Friday 22 Saturday (Craig): I went to Diabaig for milk and also was given potatoes by MacKenzie of 24, probably because I took his mail there for him. He asked about the fires and had no idea who had started them – possibly Duncan MacLennon wanting grass for his cows. But I think I would have passed him if he had, and in any case why go so near to Craig? So it remains a mystery.
When I got up there was a slight drop of water from the roof – it could be it had rained, but I doubt it. Possibly ice lodged there had melted. The bog was solid enough when I went to Diabaig but had softened considerably in the afternoon in a steady SE wind. There were a few spots of rain and alto-stratus by about six – and then it all thinned out again so that by 11 pm. the moon had another halo before it, and round the sky were scattered shades of cirro-stratus. So it does not look as if the rain is coming after all! I made some notes in the evening on Chapter 4, but did not get very far. The subject is difficult.
February 23 Sunday (Craig): Today it was fine and mild with a SE wind. By evening however it had clouded again and was spitting and squibbing from the East. Yet late at night there it was clear again. I did much work on Chapter 3 and I think perhaps the scheme I am adopting will work. But the difficulty is combining advanced political analysis with a story full of action, in which Mellows displays plenty of steadfastness but little consciousness of the process.
February 24 Monday (Craig): I wrote a draft Chapter 4 which will have to be much revised and worked on. I am getting on a little better than I feared and making useful general notes in the quietness. It began fine again with a South wind, gathered cirrus and cirrostratus by evening, spat and squibbed for an hour, then settled down to a mild brilliant moonlight night, not unlike those we used to have in Liverpool in the thirties (I never recall them in London) with scattered fresh cumulus in a Southwest wind. If only that climate would come back!
February 25 Tuesday (Craig): Another mild day with a SSW wind, brilliant sunshine and scattered clouds – and a bank of cirrus in the West that came to nothing. I was here about this time of year in 1960. It is not quite as warm now as then, but it is still quite remarkable. I started Chapter 6 – I have moved 5 to do in London.
February 26 Wednesday (Craig): An absolutely brilliant day without a cloud to speak of – bar the cirrus in the far West – and mild all the time. Even in the clear moonlight after a crimson sunset, one doubted if frost would come though the wind might be a point east of South. Venus and Jupiter look as if there will be an occultation. They are only about two moon’s diameters apart. But what a day! For the past week the stove has been smoking. Well did Mackenzies at No. 24 ask, “is the stove drawing?”. So today I decided to move out of the kitchen into the warden’s room and had even rearranged things there when I espied a sheet of corrugated iron. The chimney of the stove is rotten and barely two feet six long. I battered the iron into a roll round a log of wood and set it round the chimney and by knocking it upwards gave about two feet extra. The smoke was reduced at once, but did not stop. I then cleared the flue – possibly blocked as a result of my knocking – and, poof! – with a roar the fire went away, and after four hours all is still well. There is not a trace of smoke.
February 27 Thursday (Craig): The day began as brightly as ever – but soon a more businesslike front moved up and at 1.30 it was spitting steadily. Yet at six it had stopped again, and the wind was back in the south – very mild indeed. I worked very late, and got on well with Chapter 6, which will be rearranged to stop at the end of 1917. Today I crossed the river – but in bare feet. The stones were slippy with green algae and it was necessary to stand in the water to get a hold. It was only a couple of inches deep. On the far side also there was evidence of more destruction than heretofore. The worst thing, though, is the cutting down of the attractive trees, rowans too, that lined the river. The fools do not apparently know that birch burns when it is green, and there is any amount of it, which cut intelligently, would last for ever. I decided to go to Inveralligin on Saturday, stay there till Tuesday morning, then take the lamp to Lochane, from which it will be possible if the weather is good to get to the Kyle of Lochalsh, and so back to London.
February 28 Friday (Craig): I had intended to go into Diabaig but had a continuing stiffness in the left foot – nothing much – but sufficient to deter me. There was an unexpected visitor – a small tortoisehell butterfly in the window. I let it go, but I doubt if I was helping it. I think they lay on nettles, and there is not a sprig of them yet to be seen. It rained a little today for the first time, but was clear by afternoon.
February 29 Saturday (Craig): Great excitement today. I had intended to go to Inveralligin but what a succession of delays! Among them was meeting MacKenzie (24) and his wee son on the cliff. He was looking at some fox-traps he had set in the valley. There by the ravine who did I see but Sandy MacKenzie of the store and his young brother, Ian (they pronounce it Yon), aged about 20, with a policeman. This one explained that they had all been worried at Diabaig at my not showing up for a week and were sure I had fallen into a bog hole. He was from Kinlochlevin. So we all walked back together, and I found quite a few people asking if I was all right. But for the delays I would have been in Diabaig before they started. But who was the person who called in the police I do not yet know. Possibly Kenny MacDonald. I posted off some things to London in readiness for departure on Monday and found a letter from Packy Early offering to go to Galway with me and meet all Mellows’s surviving helpers. His wife is from South Galway. The letter says Julia Morrissey [Mellows’s girl-friend] is in Ballinasloe mental home. But she might have lucid periods. There was also a wee note from Toni Curran saying Seán is having a few days off. Will it be sickness?
As I came back I saw MacKenzie go back into his farm, but met the youngster a few yards along the track. He was full of the news. By the old house at Craig is an otter and her young. The small dog got the scent and started to investigate – result a piece bitten out of his neck! It turned cold this afternoon – the wind is SE again – yet the threatened rain kept off. But the evening was cloudy with more wind.
March 1 Sunday (Craig): I did nothing but got ready to depart. And indeed it took me from 9 am. till about 6 pm. I have to catch, or wish to catch, that early bus which leaves Diabaig at 8.30, which means rising at 6 or soon after it. So everything has to be “streamlined” for the morning. I think however I have cracked the Mellows nut. The great formative period was in New York in 1917-18. Then near the end of ’18 came the decision to “break with the gang”, whom he had been disregarding for some time by speaking at meetings and pursuing what was in effect anti-war lines of policy. But of course now there is more research to be done. The weather was once again brilliantly clear with a SW wind. And as usual the cirrus hovered over the western horizon and came up and went down again. But at night I thought it grew cloudy. The sun went down behind the lenticular alto-cumulus, an orange-yellow colour. This would surely mean rain. A week or two ago there were large winter moths flying in the windows. Tonight a number of smaller moths flew at it, and one came to the lamp. The daffodils are in bud, but I’ll not see them flower after putting prickles to keep sheep off. Ravens were crowing overhead all day. Spring is certainly not far off.
March 2 Monday (Strathcarron): I got up at 6 am., cooked eggs on the primus, and just caught the landrover at Diabaig. I got out at Inveralligin. There the mystery of yesterday’s search party was solved. Alec MacLennon apologised for reporting me “missing”, but said the policeman had gone at once instead of giving me till evening as he suggested – what nonsense, of course. “A man may be missing IF he doesn’t appear this evening”. Time enough to look then. I saw the parcel Woods had sent from Glasgow – a huge thing. MacDonald and I unpacked it. Finally we got an Aladdin pressure lamp and one storm lantern into my rucksack. But I was overloaded. MacDonald says Inveralligin is closed this year, and no certainty when they will rebuild. The trouble is, he says, there are too many committees and the people at the top do not make up their minds. This is of course a typical underling’s opinion. Woods, I am sure, gave away the real motive when he said to me, “I wish we could crack this Inveralligin thing – a warden who only comes in at 9 pm. for a few minutes.” So the first step is to get out of his house. But unless there is a break made and relations are severed, they cannot send up a new man. Possibly MacDonald feels this. He seems dissatisfied – he will lose possibly £1000 a year in business, as most visitors will spend up to 10/- in his shop. So the spoon is going into his cabbage! He speaks strongly for small primitive hostels, and I agree. But who can work against Woods’s account books?
However I left him and went to Shieldaig along the new road. It has been cut right through Lovelace’s estate. The trees have been mercilessly hacked. The turretted castle is now a turretted hotel, as I foresaw, and apart from a swathe of felled firs up the mountain to allow a pipe to bring it water supply, the place is littered with empty oil drums, corrugated iron – and of course a garish petrol pump. The Shieldaig end of the road has not received so much wanton destruction. And to cap it all, the County Surveyor, proud of his handiwork, has put his name on all the bridges!
I could not get lunch at Shieldaig. Troubles had begun. I then found the pathway to Lochewe impassable. Indeed I came off three times and gave my left wrist a slight sprain. The dry weather – and today was hot – had loosened every pebble and grain of sand. I turned back to Shieldaig after three miles, had tea with Mrs Campbell who took a melancholy joy in Lovelace’s discomfiture and having to sell up his beautiful estate – he has bought another at Torridon. Drunk he may well be all the time, but he was quick enough to make a few shillings on the Hotel. Then I persuaded some workers to give me a lift to Lochcarron from where I could catch the 6.23 from Strathcarron. Everywhere we saw the mountains ablaze. The cloudy sky, they said, was due to the smoke of innumerable heather fires. I cycled from Lochcarron to Strathcarron – and missed the train by 5 minutes. It had been re-timed to 6.16. There is a hotel at the station, so I stayed there. The only other guest was a doctor, two weeks retired out of the RAF, and full of officers’ mess talk – finding smoke-room points in Herodotus, what happened to this or that man who went to shoot a line, oh, full of facts and reminiscences, but without the slightest cohesion of thought, and jumping from one subject to another like a frog. In general, his opinions were what was on the Daily Express.
March 3 Tuesday (Inverness/London): The Doctor tagged on to me – he has nothing to do – and came into Inverness. All morning he was explaining his theory of road and rail competition, and explaining that the only reason the stations were ever built on this line was to enable trains to pass! It was with some pleasure I pointed it out to him when we came to one where they couldn’t pass. He was a man with “hobbies” – that is, a desperate bore. Yet he had begun as a wee lad herding sheep in the mountains of Co. Argyll and probably “did well for himself” as a country boy. Dodging around the world had spoiled his brain, though left him a “pleasant fellow”.
I caught the Royal Highlander, and after the first drink for a month, retired early.
March 4 Wednesday (London): I reached London at 8 am. – and shivered in the cold after coming home to Northington St. There was frost outside the city and the temperature must be ten degrees lower than yesterday in the Highlands. There have I been wearing shorts and no coat for a month, and never felt cold. Now attired with all the impediments of civilisation, I am “perishing”!
March 5 Thursday (London): The cold weather seems settled here – and the Times weather map shows the NW Highlands as I left them, bathed in warm sunshine. There have been no great developments since my absence. Frank Small has gone back to Ireland because of his father’s death, and Arthur Reynolds has through his friend the Danish consul arranged for him to go to Denmark, so Toni Curran thinks we shall see no more of him.
March 6 Friday (London): I decided I must have the file of the New York Call for 1916-22, so ordered the microfilm. It will cost about £80, a heavy expense. I was wondering if a book on WB Yeats would make enough money to pay for it!
March 7 Saturday (London): I had a few words on the ‘phone with Phyllis, who is well. She says that Mary Greaves’s house is to be auctioned on the 18th and Enid has put a £3250 reserve on it – much more that Phyllis had expected.
March 8 Sunday (London): I went on the papers with Joe Deighan who is a little more cheery but has developed a kind of irresponsibility – the origin of which is hard to trace, but probably originates in his finding himself in a pond which contains too many fishes of his own size.
March 9 Monday (London): There was a General Purposes Committee tonight, well attended with Sean Redmond, Joe Deighan, Chris Sullivan, Gerry Curran, Pat Hensey, Pat Bond, Pat Walshe, Robbie Rossiter and one or two more. By all appearances the dance this year has been much more seriously prepared [the annual St Patrick’s night dance], and into the bargain there is a greater willingness to work among the members. Partly this may be due to Sean Redmond’s improvement. He is taking his job much more seriously now and also perhaps the feeling of relaxation on the release of the prisoners has worn off. In conversation Sean told me that the members of the other committee were indignant at O’Connor’s proposal to hold a Connolly social in May [presumably the CPGB International Affairs Committee]. Cox advised him to protest to Mahon [John Mahon of the CPGB London District], which he did, and Mahon promised to discuss the matter with his colleagues!
March 10 Tuesday (London): The reply from Mahon arrived – a flat rejection of Seán’s protest in terms which accuse him of opposing “international solidarity” (instead of doubting Mahon’s method of dispensing it, and his right to do so without consultation) and telling him if he wants to discuss it further to talk to Kay Beauchamp. What is astonishing about that man is his inability to judge character. He will fall over backwards to appease every halfwit and hoodlum, but verge on the insulting to a serious-minded young man like Seán Redmond.
March 11 Wednesday (London): Toni Curran has now stopped coming to evening meetings and has arranged for Peter Mulligan to take over the entering and banking of cash.
March 12 Thursday (London): Hugh Moore rang while I was out on Monday to cancel the school next week-end. So I could have remained in Scotland, but I am very glad just the same. I have written the two middle chapters of the book on the Rising and the escape and have made so long a list of work still to be done that I sometimes wonder if it won’t take another year!
March 13 Friday (London): Again I spent most of the day on Mellows. In the evening I was in Hammersmith with Sean Redmond.
March 14 Saturday (London): What a day! Pouring rain and getting steadily colder from early morning till late at night! I was out with Sean Redmond in Camden Town.
March 15 Sunday (London): I had a telephone call from Charlie Cunningham who came into the office where I was doing a bit on the April issue. I sometimes have a slightly uneasy feeling about him, detecting something which reminds me of that blackguard O’Shea, and he brings tittle-tattle. This time it was that he met a man who told him that he belonged to the “Workers Forum” (alias “Irish Socialist Republican Party”) and that they had reorganised with big contacts in Ireland. True, yesterday I had seen Lawless – in the WIR office opposite us [Workers International Revolution, Tony Cliff’s Trotskyite organisation, which had its office in the same building at 364 Grays Inn Rd.]. And I also often feel I wrong Charlie as he shows none of the political viciousness of O’Shea and has a different background. However I took little notice. But as we went out what did I see but Andy 0’Neill – sheepish grin of sheepish grins on his face – followed by McConville (the man who touts Chinese publications, and is on the MCF council) and Lawless, with a group of others going into a meeting. So an amalgamation seems to have taken place. Lawless and McConville have one thing in common – an ability to get women into trouble. As to the other, no woman would look at him.
March 16 Monday (London): As I suspected, I learned today O’Neill is expelled out of the CP, and the second issue of MacCreevy’s “Vanguard” has an article, most likely by Lawless, attacking me, Sean Redmond and Roy Johnston, along with Dutt and Cox and a few more. I ventured to point out in a certain quarter [presumably to some senior CPGB people] that as all the renegades gathered their forces by professing to raise funds for O’Riordan, Mahon was by running his Irish Socials helping to collect another bunch – and Lawless and company look sure to attend. Now there was another strand. Malin [a former Connolly Association member in Liverpool] has been going into No. 75 [ie.the “Daily Worker” premises at 75 Farringdon Road], giving information that he has secured during private hobnobbings with the Trotskies. He should of course take care they do not find out. However he tells them, I am told, that McQuaid has been charged with founding an Irish organisation to supplant the Connolly Association, and that the whole bunch of them intend to replace the “partitionist” Northern Ireland Communist Party and Irish Workers Party by a “United Communist Party of Ireland”. Malin adds, off his own account, that CDG is an “unsuitable” leader for the CA – presumably because I won’t have him in it. Sean Redmond was vastly amused at these developments, but they will be taken seriously none the less.
To illustrate their methods of work, Sean told me he had seen MacQuaid, Lawless and another go out with posters denouncing Lemass who is opening some trade exhibition. O’Neill appeared in Lyons’s; presumably he had not made it. And wasn’t Malin there himself; great activity around Kings Cross. As a matter of interest, their idol, Dr Noel Browne, is ill and had been told not even to think of politics for six months. Sean Redmond thinks he has tuberculosis. He needs a long rest. Let’s hope he takes it.
In the evening young Lavery came in. He has been involved in a protracted storm in a teacup in the Workingmen’s College in Camden Town, where the head-case Stewart and others were conducting political propaganda of the most sectish kind. Needless to say the Trotskies were in the midst of it and he is now so eaten up with his grievances that he is talking of suing them for refusing him entrance without giving reason, if this is possible.
March 17 Tuesday (London): When I saw Sean Redmond in the morning he showed me a circular sent to his father calling for a demonstration against Lemass, who is still here today, which goes near to incitement to violence. It is signed inter alia by Lawless, Andy O’Neill, Brendan Clifford (whom I have heard of), McQuaid (or Dalton) and Tom Walsh.
Robbie Rossiter came in during the afternoon and told us that Maurice O’Beirne (or O’Byrne) who resigned from the CA recently after having talks with O’Shea, had received an anonymously sent copy of “Vanguard”.
“They know their men,” said Rossiter to him.
“They do not,” he dissented, “I don’t know how they got my address.”
His son, who is a good lad and joined when the father left, remarked that the Connolly Association was being attacked in good company. But the father takes up the position that the “Vanguard” are good boys “doing their best”- whereas we are dreadful villains. I have observed however that the heavens do not fall in when these attacks are made. I think there may be a sharp struggle over a period – but we are much wider awake than in the fifties.
The St. Patrick’s Night dance took place and was the best attended yet. Some who are usually there were absent. Mrs Burke had moaned, “I’ll try to get in and then you’ll ask me to do work”. Sean Hurley was missing and Betty O’Shea and Maurice O’Byrne – and Heatley [Robert/Bobby Heatley, a CA member from Belfast]. Joe O’Connor was present and had brought Fitzgerald, as we know from the ticket numbers. With them were Bill Hennessy and Taylor. Fitzgerald looked old, worn and broken – with that hangdog air that goes with political degeneration. They were all with the exception of O’Connor quite rude to Sean but greeted me like a long-lost brother and invited me to Taylor’s after the dance. I didn’t go of course.
I spent most of the time with Marcus Lipton and the Mayor of Paddington, a small tubby Jewish man with ferocious moustache and high good humour, who is the owner of the “Headquarters and General Supplies” that made a fortune out of war surplus. Lipton agreed with me that Lennon was the most impressive of the Nationalists – indeed said he would do credit to any front bench. With Lipton was the only Labour supporter within ten miles of Bracknell who drives Lipton around. He was trained as a chemist, worked for thousands a year with the Medical Research Council till he contracted radiation burns, went into industry, thence to America, and returned to become an advertising agent who bemoans the fact that his style is cramped by the excessive honesty of his clients, mostly small firms. He says that Bracknell has plenty of farm labourers, but all vote Conservative. Joe Deighan and Dorothy behaved in the way we grow accustomed to, complaining all the time. “I’m going to be on the Dance Committee next year,” said Joseph in front of a group of people – one would imagine he had been deliberately kept off it. He will not attend the Standing Committee, nor do any work but sell papers and speak in the Park. It is astonishing what small beer he seems at close quarters [ie. compared to what he was when he was leading the CA in Manchester] Why did he seem otherwise? Has he changed? And if so why? These are the questions I would like to answer.
March 18 Wednesday (London): Seán estimated a £5 profit on the dance. Pat Devine wrote saying it was not Irish enough. I then heard Joe Deighan was saying this all the way home in the bus. Dorothy had exploded when Sean and I got out. Why had we not paid like everybody else? Toni Curran explained that we were carrying weighty packages back to the office, and not being taken home, and that we still had to go home, that we were at work while she was at play, and that the alternative was a taxi paid for out of CA funds. Nothing would move her.
March 19 Thursday (London): The Standing Committee decided to hold the Annual Conference, election or no election, and have out all issues in dispute. We also thought we should raise the price of the paper to 9d and the annual subscription to £1. I discovered the paper has remained 6d since February 1956! We pioneered the high price policy in the Labour Movement. We were the first to charge 9d for a pamphlet. Now I think we are the only 6d periodical left in the whole movement.
March 20 Friday (London): For the first time we were unable to pay Sean’s wages. He took it well enough. Over the past period I judge his seriousness has deepened, as he sees how little one can afford to take for granted. We sent to Camden Town. When we told Joe Deighan about the conference he merely went on sulking. “You said it wasn’t necessary before. Still (shrugging his shoulders) if the Standing Committee has decided on it, thats that.”
March 21 Saturday (London): I am noting what happens in detail just now as I may want to recall details. Chris Sullivan rang after midnight last night saying he had been attacked by a hoodlum in the “Bell”. Tom Walsh (whose name is on the Trotsky circular) was present and held the chief hoodlum while Chris escaped. In the morning I saw Chris and we came to no conclusion as to the motive of the attack. He was not badly hurt but considerably shaken. He told me that Joe Deighan had expressed the opinion that the Standing Committee was politically disoriented and had as good as admitted it by saying a few weeks ago that as the Nationalists had the initiative we should not rush in with a new campaign. Then Chris gave me the impression that Joe Deighan has been influenced by those who want us to attack Lemass [ie. the Republic’s Taoiseach]. So perhaps what is the matter with him is that he is politically disoriented and suffers from this same line of leftism which is now appearing on all sides. I will try and judge this when I see him tonight.
March 22 Sunday (London): Joe Deighan did not turn up last night, or tonight. So my plan of finding out what is wrong with him failed. I was out with Peter Mulligan instead, both last night and tonight.
March 23 Monday (London): I spent most of the day at the British Museum newspaper library at Colindale. In the evening Gerry Curran, Charlie Cunningham, Toni Curran and Peter Mulligan were in the office. Toni is teaching Peter book-keeping, so that he can do some of the work when she is out of action. Charlie Cunningham has told her he will take over the book subs for Joe Deighan’s wife who is in a worse mood even than Joe. I wonder is it just injured vanity? It can make people do the very reverse of what they really wish. After finishing Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham and I went for a drink. Who should be there but the Lawless specimen – with Rosie Burke. So that is happening again. They seem to be in the “WIR” office day and night, so some great activity must be afoot.
March 24 Tuesday (London): I was most of the day in Colindale. An invitation to contribute to a journal I had never heard of called “Revolution” arrived. They offered £10 and payment for pictures. I checked up and found they were connected with MacCreevy’s people who have just published a personal attack on me in their paper “Vanguard”. So they can whistle for their article. Later a copy of the paper came and confirmed my decision.
March 25 Wednesday (London): I worked on the preliminaries for the May issue which we will turn out early. Sean Redmond returned from Manchester in the evening, and Peter Mulligan and others came in. Sean says Manchester are not unduly disturbed about the proposal to increase the subscription and price of the paper. Sales have fallen off owing to “re-development” of the Irish areas, and the removal of sellers.
March 26 Thursday (London): Again I was busy on the next issue. Toni Curran had the idea of asking Charlie Cunningham to undertake the book selling on Saturday mornings, as Dorothy Deighan is not very popular and is sulky and “impossible”. Instead of finding out by going to see her whether she wanted to give it up, what did she do but telephone her saying that she had somebody else. Dorothy then threw a dreadful canary fit! And Joe Deighan was most curt on the phone to Sean Redmond.
March 27 Friday (London): We were busy getting out the April issue. Toni Curran tried to see Dorothy Deighan to make peace, but she was out.
March 28 Saturday (London): Quite a number of people came in during the morning, including Des Logan, Charlie Cunningham, Colm Power, and Peter Mulligan later. Des Logan told me that he met Joe O’Connor in Hyde Park, and a young fellow approached them. Hearing Joe O’Connor address Des Logan as “Desmond” he asked if he was myself. On receiving a reply in the negative he told O’Connor that he had distributed the tickets to O’Riordan’s social as requested and that Pat O’Neill had sold five of them. A telephone call came from Toni Curran to the effect that she had seen Dorothy Deighan who had burst out crying and said she was upset at the way Joe was “being treated”. He had been respected by everybody in Manchester but here he knew nothing about what was going on. Why not come to the Standing Copmmittee meetings, asked Toni. They were held on his afternoon off. No compromise had been offered, even though he had suggested Sunday morning. This is of course incorrect but she could not be blamed for confusing the Standing Committee with the General Purposes Committee, which Sean Redmond refused to have on Sundays because that is his free morning when he plays football – encouraged by Joe Deighan who was a professional in his time! It is what I expected. They refused to listen when we told them Ilford was too far out for them to take a full part in central affairs, and now they find we were right, they blame us for the geography of London and being unwilling to accept a changing date and time for our regular meeting.
There was another piece of information. When Pat O’Neill first came to London he came to see me, but stated that he had already made arrangements to stay with people in Tottenham who had arranged a job for him. Nothing I could say would induce him to live centrally. Colm Power now tells me that the man who secured him an ETU card was Seán Gannon, Bill Gannon’s eldest (Trotskyist) son.
What is striking here is how far the plot goes back.
March 29 Sunday (London): I gave a lecture on Connolly at the ACTT hall in the afternoon. Joe Deighan was in the chair, and though he spoke well, was very moody and incommunicative afterwards. Of course London is nothing like what he expected. But he would not listen when we warned him.
I was later out with Peter Mulligan and returning to the office had two adventures. A rough looking customer, fortunately not very big, was attracted by my briefcase and indicated his intention of knocking me “on the fucking head” if I failed to hand it over. However, the threat was not put into execution. Then on going up the office stairs in the dark I found two University students, male and female, dressed in incredibly tight jeans reposing on the landing. They said they belonged to the Trotskies below and had arrived too late to sleep in the office.
March 30 Monday (London): We held a meeting in Hyde Park in the afternoon. Joe Deighan was there, very despondent, proposing we cancel it. I was chairman. He spoke for about ten minutes against the interruptions of a pest of Strabane Orangeman who was once a B-special. Sean Redmond finally routed that gentleman. Joe then brightened up. He was full of quips and perverse humour (a form of showing off) in the café!
March 31 Tuesday (London): We learned that Faris Glubb’s office on the top floor was burgled and £5 taken away. Naturally we suspected the students who were there on Sunday and Monday nights. But Glubb will not bring in the police since he believes they would concentrate their efforts investigating not the burglary but his organisation. It is true they might, but they might not.
There has been endless Trotsky activity during the last few weeks. All the old gang have reappeared, except Furlong’s coterie. I have seen Joe Quinn, Donovan the London-Kerryman, the ex-student Brown, a Bohemian who last year appeared in Hyde Park in bare feet, Dalton alias McQuaid, Lawless (there in the WIR office most of the day), to say nothing of Andy O’Neill who appeared once. Lawless came in to buy a copy of “Labour, Nationality and Religion”. He had the impudence to address Sean Redmond as “Sean”! So we await with interest the bombshell they are preparing for us.
I spent the evening preparing resolutions for the Connolly Association Conference and its annual report.
[c. 68,000 words in Vol.14]
Desmond Greaves Journal, Volume 14, 1962-64
– Aesthetics and verse: 2.14, 2.20, 11.7
– Assessments of others: 12.24,12.28,1.7, 1.11, 2.28, 4.6, 4.26,
4.30, 5.2, 5.12-13, 5.21, 5.26, 5.29, 6.11, 6.13, 7.7-8, 7.16,
7.18-19, 7.24-26, 7.31, 8.8, 8.14, 8.29, 9.1, 9.4-5, 9.20, 9.24,
9.27, 9.30, 10.1, 10.5, 10.7, 10.15, 10.19, 10.27, 11.3, 11.7,
11.12, 11.17, 11.23-24,12.9, 12.28, 1.20, 1.25, 3.2-3, 3.8,
– Britain, public attitudes and assessments of trends in: 3.2, 5.21,
5.26, 7.5, 8.3,10.5, 2.4-5, 12.12, 2.27, 3.2
– Civil rights campaign on Northern Ireland: 11.1,11.3,11.8, 11.29,
12.1,12.11, 12.14, 1.1, 1.8, 1.16, 2.13, 3.28, 5.1, 5.3, 5.12,
5.26, 6.16-17, 6.20,12.12, 1.21, 1.26, 1.28, 1.30-31
– Family relations: 12.24-25, 6.1, 6.5, 7.2,9.14, 10.7,10.16-17,
10.19, 10.22, 11.14, 11.17, 12.25, 3.7
– Holidays/cycle tours: 11.11-12.6, 4.25, 5.21-28
– Ireland, public attitudes and assessments of trends in: 7.10-11,
7.22, 11.14, 1.20
– Living arrangements: 2.16, 9.9, 9.21
– Mellows research 12.11,1.14, 6.28-29, 7.7-11, 7.19-31, 8.6-17,
10.1,11.4-16,11.25,11.29, 12.13, 2.16, 2.20, 2.24, 2.29, 3.1,
– National question: 4.25, 5.21-28
– Physical assault on: 4.1-20, 5.12
– Self-assessments: 5.1, 5.12-13, 8.27, 9.27, 2.19
Organisation Names Index:
– Anti-Partition League: 12.1, 2.26
– Belfast Trades Council: 11.1,1.10
– Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 11.2, 2.5, 3.31, 4.1, 8.9,
8.29,11.3, 12.13, 1.8, 1.28, 3.9, 3.16
– Communist Party of Northern Ireland: 11.1, 1.10,1.16, 6.17, 11.29,
12.6, 12.9, 1.22, 2.2
– Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 11.1,1.6, 1.28, 2.25, 3.31,
4.28, 6.27, 7.16, 8.4, 8.14, 8.25, 8.27, 9.1, 9.21-22, 10.1, 10.7,
10.15, 10.18, 10.21, 12.2-3, 12.12, 1.12, 1.21, 1.26, 1.30-31,
– Council for Civil Liberties (Sean Caughey’s): 11.8, 2.18, 2.20, 2.28,
5.31, 8.17, 10.26, 11.3
– Irish Workers League/Workers Party: 1.12,1.16, 3.28,12.9-10,1.12,
– Labour Party (British): 6.16
– Movement for Colonial Freedom: 3.27-28, 6.20, 9.23, 12.10, 1.20,
1.25, 1.27, 3.15
– National Council for Civil Liberties: 3.27, 5.26, 6.17
– Sinn Fein/IRA: 11.3, 2.28, 3.1, 6.30, 8.17, 10.26, 11.4-5
– Trotskyite and far-left groups, various: 1.1, 2.11, 2.23, 2.28, 3.24,
3.26, 6.27, 8.5, 12.13, 3.15-16, 3.23, 3.28, 3.31
– Tuairim (London Branch): 3.2, 3.30
Personal Names Index:
Allaun, Frank MP: 1.28, 1.30
Allberry, Hilda: 7.19
Barritt, Professor Denis 11.1, 12.11
Beauchamp, Kay: 12.2, 12.13, 1.8, 3.10
Behan, Brian: 8.13, 11.13-14
Bennett, Jack: 11.1, 1.10, 2.2, 2.18, 2.28, 5.3, 6.15, 8.14, 10.25
Blease, William (Billy) Lord: 11.5-6
Bolton, Tom: 1.12, 6.26-27
Bond, Patrick: 12.11,12.15-16,1.1, 2.16, 3.21, 9.5
Borodin, Mikhail: 11.11
Brady, Rita: 7.19
Brockway, Fenner MP: 1.21, 1.26-27
Henry Brooke MP: 1.2
Brown, George: 12.1,12.16
Browne, Noel TD: 1.1, 1.21,2.12, 3.16
Campbell, Flann: 8.14
Carmody, Patrick: 1.12, 8.19, 12.9
Carter, Professor Charles: 11.1, 12.11-12
Caughey, Sean: 11.8, 12.1, 11.21,1.16, 2.18, 2.20, 2.28, 3.1, 5.3,
6.20, 8.17,10.26, 11.3
Clifford, Brendan: 3.17
Collins, Michael: 8.7
Connolly, Fiona: 2.2, 8.14
Connolly, Roddy: 8.8, 8.11
Connolly-O’Brien, Nora: 8.14
Cornforth, Maurice: 12.11, 8.9
Coughlan, Anthony: 1.12-13,1.15, 3.29, 4.2, 4.4-6, 5.28, 6.26, 7.5,
7.8, 7.12, 7.23-26,7.31, 8.1,8.23, 8.26, 8.28, 8.30, 9.27,
9.30, 10.7, 10.27,11.4-5,11.9,11.11-12, 12.21, 2.3
Cox, Idris: 1.8, 1.21, 2.4, 8.29, 3.9
Cronin, Sean: 7.22
Cunningham, Charlie: 3.15
Curran, Toni (Antoinette): 12.11, 1.1, 2.15, 6.27-28, 3.23
Curran, Gerard: 12.11, 3.31, 6.28
Currie, Austin: 1.11
Dalton, L.(aka. McQuaid): 1.1, 3.16-17, 3.31
Daly, Una: 11.14
Deighan, Dorothy: 3.28
Deighan, Joseph: 11.1,12.28, 4.23, 5.31, 6.26, 9.7, 9.20, 10.3, 10.7, 3.8, 3.17, 3.28-29, 3.31
De Valera, Eamon: 9.23, 11.25
Devine, Pat: 5.19-20
Diamond, Harry MP: 6.17
Digges, Alec: 11.3
Doherty, Pat: 5.19-20
Dooley, Pat: 8.14
Doyle, Joe: 4.29,
Durkin, Tom: 12.9, 12.13, 1.25
Dutt, R. Palme: 11.2, 1.2, 1.8, 3.26, 9.12, 12.10
Eber, John: 9.23
Edwards, Bert: 8.14
Ennals, Martin: 5.26
Fairbrother, George: 11.4
Feehan, Tadgh: 2.26,1.30
Fitt, Gerry MP: 11.9, 6.12-15, 6.17
Fitzgerald, John (“Fitzie”): 3.17
Flynn, Phil: 1.12
Gannon, Bill: 8.13
Gibson, John: 4.25, 4.28
Gogan, LS: 2.20
Gordon-Walker, Patrick MP: 12.1
Graham, Jimmy: 11.1
Gray, Malachy: 11.3
Greaves, Phyllis: 10.6-7, 12.24-25
Havekin, Alf: 1.30
Healy, Cahir: 11.6, 2.26, 6.17, 1.25, 1.30
Heatley, Fred: 8.17
Henry, Tommy: 2.3
Hensey, Pat: 4.28, 9.21, 10.5,
Hobson, Bulmer: 7.9, 8.7, 9.9, 11.25, 1.20, 2.20
Hobson, Declan: 7.3, 9.9, 9.23, 11.25, 1.20
Hostettler, John: 1.2, 6.14
Ireland, John de Courcy: 2.12
Jackson, Professor JA: 3.2
Jackson, Stella: 11.3
Jeffares, George: 1.12
Johnston, Mairin: 8.15, 11.9
Johnston, Roy: 12.10, 4.4, 7.21, 8.1, 8.15, 8.17, 9.4, 10.28, 11.4
Keating, Justin: 12.6,1.15, 7.7, 10.27, 11.9
Kennedy, President John F.: 11.23-25
Lawless, Gery: 2.11, 2.23, 2.28, 3.24, 3.26, 8.5, 1.12, 3.15-16, 3.31
Lemass, Sean TD: 11.6, 3.16
Lenihan, Eddie: 7.14
Lennon, Senator Gerry: 1.30
Lipton, Marcus MP: 11.3, 12.12, 1.30, 3.17
Logan, Desmond: 12.21, 12.23, 3.2, 3.30, 9.4
McAteer, Eddie: 1.30
McCabe, Lieut.Colonel: 7.22
McCullough, William (Billy): 11.1, 11.3,11.5,1.10, 2.18
McDermot, Frank: 12.27, 3.27
McInerney, Michael: 8.10
McGill, Jimmy: 7.14
MacLaughlin, Eamon: 9.4 12.28, 1.3
MacLiam, Cathal: 1.11-12, 7.5, 7.7, 8.3, 10.29
MacLiam, Helga: 1.1
McMillan, Art: 11.3, 4.3,10.26
McMillan, Liam (Billy): 11.3
McNally, Joe: 8.31, 9.3, 9.13
Mahon, John: 3.9-10
Martin, Eamon: 7.31, 8.15, 11.25
Martin, Fr F.X.: 9.23
Monahan, Alf: 7.8, 7.12
Moore, Hughie:11.1, 1.10, 7.16, 10.25, 11.29, 12.6, 12.14,1.28, 2.2
Morton, Professor Alan Geoffrey: 2.14, 4.30,9.28, 12.31
Mulligan, Peter: 12.16, 12.31,3.11, 3.23
Munro, Anna: 8.2
Murray, Sean: 8.14
Nolan, Sean: 1.12, 8.9, 8.19, 12.9, 1.12, 1.22
O’Brien, William (Bill): 7.19
O’Connor, Joe: 12.9-10, 12.13, 1.12, 1.25
O’Connor, Peter: 9.29
O’Donnell, Peadar: 7.23, 11.11-12
O’Dowd, Larry: 9.5
O’Dowling, Elsie, neé Timbey: 5.12-3, 6.25, 7.16, 8.14
O’Herlihy, Callaghan (Cal): 11.8, 1.7, 2.4,10.26
O’Higgins, Paul: 11.4
O’Kelly, Sean T.: 1.20
O’Neill, Andy and Patsy: 1.1, 3.26, 3.31, 8.5, 8.13, 11.29, 3.15-16,
O’Regan, Jim: 11.4
O’Riordan, Michael: 12.13, 1.12,1.25
O’Shea, Fred: 6.27, 9.2, 9.29, 12.10
O’Sullivan, Chris: 11.20, 12.9, 3.21
Page, Ian: 9.23,10.16-17,1.20
Parkin, Ben MP: 2.28, 6.13
Parrish, Margot: 6.17,6.25, 7.2, 8.12, 8.29, 9.19, 9.24, 11.19
Pollock, George: 11.11
Power, Colm: 5.4
Prendergast, Jim: 3.31, 7.16, 10.15, 12.2, 12.10, 12.13
Redmond, Sean: 11.8,12.1, 12.7, 12.11, 2.16, 3.18, 8.4, 8.27, 10.7,
11.3, 11.19, 12.2, 12.9, 12.30, 1.8, 1.21, 3.9-10, 3.20
Redmond, Tom: 12.19,12.29, 8.14
Reynolds, Arthur: 2.12, 8.10
Reynolds, Gerry MP: 12.1
Roose-Wiliams J.: 4.25
Rossiter, Bobby, original name Ceannt: 9.21,1.7
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 11.1, 11.3, 11.5, 1.10, 1.16, 6.17, 10.26,
Small, Frank: 2.12, 3.2, 5.4, 6.15, 8.10, 11.18, 11.20, 11.23-24
Steele, Jimmy: 11.9
Tate, Jane: 12.3
Stewart, Jimmy: 1.10
Walton, Professor James: 10.30, 11.7
Whelan, Joe: 1.10
Wilson, Harold: 1.21, 1.26, 2.28
Woddis, Jack (Hillel): 2.4, 1.30
Woods, Tony: 8.16