Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol.16, Jan.-Oct. 1965
1 January – 31 October 1965
THEMES: Reactions in the Irish community in Britain to the Harold Wilson Labour Government – Connolly Association campaign for a public enquiry into the working of the 1920 Government of Ireland Act – Chauvinist attitudes to Ireland in British leftwing circles – Tracing Liam Mellows’s family background and political activity in Galway, Cork, Callan, Waterford and Wexford – Interviews with Ernest Blythe, Bob Briscoe, Stephen Jordan, Jim Donovan, Eamon Dore, Eamon Martin, Tom Barry, Pax Whelan – National Council for Civil Liberties conference on Northern Ireland – Tensions with Sinn Fein support group Clann na hEireann in London – Political attacks by Gery Lawless’s Irish Communist Group – Belfast Trades Council conference on an anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland – Fenner Brockway and the Movement for Colonial Freedom – J.Roose Williams – Foundation of the Labour-party-based Campaign for Democracy in Ulster – Undertaking initial sorting of the Ernie O’Malley papers – Cancer illness of his sister Phyllis Greaves – Visiting her in Liverpool Women’s Hospital, Clatterbridge Hospital, Wirrall, and Ince-Blundell Hall nursing home, Merseyside
January 1 Friday (London): I spent the day writing letters and gathering my thoughts for next Tuesday’s important meeting [ie. of the CPGB’s International Committee to discuss the Irish question]. In the evening Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham and Ken O’Leary came into the office and we went out for a drink. Sean Redmond was at an Anti-Apartheid New Year Social, to which Michael Harmel [South African communist activist] invited him.
January 2 Saturday (London): The usual people came into the office, Dorothy Deighan, Jim Argue, Peter Mulligan, Sean Redmond and others. Dorothy brought me a bottle of whiskey and said Joe Deighan is desperately overpressed by his job. It is in my opinion a pity he didn’t stay in Manchester. Sean Redmond said that at the social last night Fenner Brockway’s secretary told him that there is a big tussle between Soskice and Elwyn Jones [Labour Ministers, Frank Soskice being Home Secretary and Elwyn Jones Attorney General] over the inclusion of religious discrimination in the forthcoming Bill. Soskice is anxious to placate the Unionists by keeping it out; Jones wants it included. Charlie Cunningham came in in the evening.
January 3 Sunday: I decided that to solve the mystery of the origin of the Mellors family the army records of John Mellows would probably be the most easily accessible document. I therefore wrote a very diplomatic letter to the Army Records centre and asked for particulars of enlistment and decease of John Mellows and Pierce Larkin. If they supply them I may be able to decide between Callan and Lancashire [ie. for Liam Mellows’s family origins]. I am at present inclining towards Callan, but do not understand how Irish people would drop the “r” from Mellors and convert it into Mellows.
In the afternoon there was a well-attended General Purposes Committee [of the Connolly Association.], only Pat Bond being compelled to stay away. There is a turn for the better in the finances, and we awarded Sean Redmond an extra pound a week to make his salary more realistic [Redmond was Connolly Association General Secretary and full-time organiser at the time]. There was however nothing surprising that happened.
January 4 Monday: I had a letter from Sgt. Flannery suggesting I contact a man called Jim Hunt of Gurteen, Co. Sligo. His sister, who has Mellows’s autograph, will not allow it to be photographed. I suppose she is well over eighty. They certainly live to a ripe age!
I went to Ripley on the paper today [Ripley, Derbyshire, where the monthly Irish Democrat was printed]. The travelling was good despite the cold weather (not desperately cold but in the twenties by day and freezing at night) and everything was ready for me at the other end.
January 5 Tuesday: The long-awaited meeting [of the CPGB International Committee with party members who were Irish. See the related entry referring to this meeting at 24 May below] took place in the evening. There was a magnificent display of British hypocrisy – one after another placing hand on heart and declaring with God as their witness what wonderful work the “broad movement” was doing and then denouncing it thoroughly after the word “but” had introduced the sequela. I was left puzzling over whether such hypocrisy is conscious or not! The only one who made no bones of his opposition [ie. to the nationalist policy line being pursued by Greaves and his colleagues in the broad movement, viz. the Connolly Association] was Tom Durkin, a poor stupid thing probably flattered by Prendergast – who was not there, nor O’Shea [Jim Prendergast and Fred O’Shea were Irish members of the CPGB who were opposed to Greaves’s nationalist line and thought that the Connolly Association should be advocating socialism and encouraging Irish people to join the Communist Party, whereas Greaves sought to maintain the CA’s character as an independent non-socialist organization. Prendergast had been in the International Brigade in Spain]. Palme Dutt [leading CPGB theoretician and authority on national and colonial questions in the British Empire empire, who supported Greaves’s position on the national question and whom Greaves held in high regard]. made himself as pleasant as possible, uttering flattering remarks both in public and private. Elsie O’Dowling thought this was because he wanted to make up to us for the raw deal we were getting. I doubt it, but I take no notice anyway. However, O’Connor was shown up as a fool [ie. Irish CP member Joe O’Connor], and the chorus of Kay Beauchamp, Tony Gilbert and (joining them to my surprise) Idris Cox tended to drown the support given by Pefkos (back from Greece) and Michael Harmel who backed us up [non-Irish members oif the Committee]. It was interesting to note that Pefkos and Harmel, who really did care about imperialist oppression in their countries, backed us up, while it was equally obvious that Kay Beauchamp and her friends cared not a straw about partition, discrimination or anything else. So of course there was no junction. But Robbie Rossiter was delighted and thought there was a great improvement. Joe Deighan was depressed and said R. Palme Dutt “let us down” and Cox “stabbed us in the back”. And on the balance I think we won a new position of initiative which, if rightly used, could rally all sensible people to a common point. At any rate I had a half assurance that the O’Connor-Durkin circus would be closed down. But that means we are on the spot to open something ourselves. For my part I thought Palme Dutt understood full well the complex difficult position and helped substantially the cause of reason. [The issue was presumably whether the CPGB would seek to influence its members to support the nationalist and anti-Unionist policy being pushed by the Connolly Association under the influence of Greaves and his colleagues and discourage their leftist critics amongst the CPGB’s Irish members, ie. “the O’Connor-Durkin circus”. In an article in the book“Making the Difference, The Irish Labour Party 1912-2012”, Trinity College historian Eunan O’Halpin refers to an MI5 transcript of a bugged conversation between Greaves and Palme Dutt in CPGB headquarters ten years before, on 22 February 1955, contained in the National Archives at KV2/3360. He also refers to an MI5 minute referring to Greaves dated 21 August 1947, at KV2/3359. Presumably the bugging continued in later years].
January 6 Wednesday: The day was spent in the office on the usual things. The Social Committee met in the evening, and later Peter Mulligan came in.
January 7 Thursday: In the evening Joe Deighan and Gerry Curran came in. Both Gerard and Toni Curran are pleased about Monday – rather more than I am, as I had hoped to finish the matter. Sean Redmond is in good form, Joe Deighan gloomy as usual. I think his job is too heavy for him and he has had a great disappointment coming to London.
January 8 Friday: There was very little of importance today. In the evening Sean Redmond and I took out the papers, but everywhere seemed deserted.
January 9 Saturday: In the morning Jim Argue [Argue was in the Labour Party] and Gerry Curran came in, full of left-wing resentment against the failures of the Wilson Government to distinguish itself from its Tory predecessor. The disillusionment has come very quickly. Again Sean Redmond and I went to Camden Town with little success.
January 10 Sunday: I saw Toni Curran in the morning and she says we made £175 gross profit on the paper last year, which is not bad. Of course there are items to be set against it. In the evening again we went into the desert [ie. selling the Irish Democrat in one of the Irish districts of London, with presumably a poor response].
January 11 Monday: While Eber and Mrs Eber [of the Movement for Colonial Freedom] are in Paris, Sean Redmond had a talk with their third in command, Barara Haq. She says that Brockway [Fenner Brockway, former MP, Labour anti-colonial activist, now Lord Brockway] is writing in Tribune [Independent Left Labour weekly] in support of Malaysia, and has consented to leave off his article the title “Chairman of the MCF” since the movement is opposed to Malaysia. She types his article every Monday and is most depressed. Meanwhile the circulation of Tribune has fallen by thousands because of its abandonment of the causes it previously stood for. We hear from other sources that Soskice and Elwyn Jones are at grips over the application of the watered-down anti-discrimination Bill to religious persecution in the Six Counties, needless to say Soskice on the wrong side. When he wins, as I anticipate he will, I think Tribune, up to no good on Ireland, will go the other way. The Irish Committee [advisory committee of the CPGB] took place in the evening and it seems that most people are pleased with last week’s work.
January 12 Tuesday: I worked on the next issue of the paper, and later was present when the Social Committee met. The draw, intended to cover the loss of St. Patrick’s night (this year a Wednesday) seems to be going well. Pat Bond, now in great form, was there.
January 13 Wednesday: I went on with the paper, and in the evening did a bit on Mellows. But I must get back to Ireland or nothing serious can be done.
January 14 Thursday: We had a letter from Sean Caughey saying that he and Mrs McCluskey and a representative of the Trades Council [ie.the Belfast Trades Council] were coming to the NCCL conference [National Council for Civil Liberties, founded in 1934, to which the Connolly Association was affiliated, with Sean Redmond representing it on its council.]. Poor Ennals [Martin Ennals, NCCL general secretary, brother of Labour Minister David Ennals] is in a dreadful state. Wilson is telling everybody he has no power to intervene in Northern Ireland – the old claptrap – and the NCCL is holding a conference right in the middle of his renegacy. He is so upset that he is afraid to speak – yes, even to speak – to Sean Redmond on the phone and makes excuses of one kind and another through his secretary. The nationalists [Northern Ireland Nationalist Party in the Stormont Parliament] are also said to be coming. The Irish News [Northern Ireland nationalist daily] has had banner headlines and the Belfast Telegraph an editorial urging the Unionists also to attend. MacCartney [Law lecturer at Queen’s University] is coming to deliver a paper on gerrymandering, but his name has not yet been disclosed. We decided at the Standing Committee to be all sweetness and light and to try to arrange to have the Unionist (and McCartney –NILP) first met by Englishmen, which will throw all their calculations out. Joe Deighan was still in the dumps despite our wonderful progress, but Gerry Curran is very pleased with things and is going off willingly to speak at Trade Union meetings while Joe grumbles and thinks of his steak waiting at home. In some curious way he is here out of his element; perhaps the impersonality of London depresses him. You can’t “have a talk” with people as in Manchester, and the stakes are too high. Yet he has quite a good grasp of fundamentals and saw quite well that Ennals wants to display the Irish disagreeing. Eber and Mrs Eber told Sean Redmond today that now that Brockway is clamping down on every activity of the Movement for Colonial Freedom they want to get rid of him. But will they be proscribed [that is, by the Labour Party leadership as having communist links], we ask.
January 15 Friday: Half the month gone, and nothing done but argue! We had a phone call from Cooley [Mike Cooley a Galway man active in the Draughtsmens Union and TASS, later an iinternational authority on human-technology relations]. The EC of his Union yielded to the clamour of their Belfast orangemen and pulled back on their previous efforts to get an enquiry into Northern Ireland. Cooley has been writing letters to the union journal exposing things over there. When the EC refused to move, the London area decided to do so on its own. But today Cooley had a phone call from “another place” requesting him not to press his demand, and to cease sending letters to the Union journal [the “other place” was presumably a CPGB or leftwing source, concerned about maintaining their trade union influence by not alienating Northern Ireland union members.] Why? he asked. He must not isolate himself and reduce his influence in the Union, and the Belfast members were up in arms. At present the DATA [Engineering Draughtsmens’ Union]are pressing hard for the release from jail in South Africa of one of their former members, Kitson, who opposed Apartheid and paid the penalty. “It’s a fortunate thing for Kitson,” said Cooley, “that the Union has no members in South Africa”. So there is the rotten chauvinism we are up against. Well do I now know what Jimmy Shields meant when he used that expression to me nearly twenty years ago! [Jimmy Shields, born 1900 in Scotland of Irish parents, chairman of the South African communist party in the mid-1920s, CPGB liaison worker with British Empire anti-colonial movements, died of TB in 1949]
But by contrast George Matthews, whom I telephoned yesterday, did us proud in the Daily Worker[CPGB daily paper of which Matthews was then editor]. I find that people who are immersed in the problems of one industry tend to be narrow, and to accept current prejudices in anything outside their immediate experience. Those who come into contact with many things will obviously be more enlightened.
In the evening Peter Mulligan and Chris Sullivan came in. Joe Deighan went to a Trade Union branch last night and tonight goes to a meeting to support Gordon Walker. I rang Phyllis [his sister Phyllis Greaves, a school headmistress in Liverpool, who lived in the family home at 124 Mount Road, Birkenhead] who is going to Kendal for an interview on Monday. Liverpool intends to carry out its scheme of comprehensive schools on paper using the old buildings often miles apart and reducing the status of the teachers. So she hopes to pull out.
January 16 Saturday: In the morning Joe Deighan telephoned and said he had gone to Gordon Walker’s meeting [Patrick Gordon Walker – Labour Foreign Secretary contesting the Leyton by-election, which he lost, forcing him to resign. He took a CA delegation to tea in the House of Commons when in opposition in 1961] and asked what about Ireland. “We’re not going to burn our fingers on that question,” replied the candidate.” We’ve handed over responsibility to a government and it’s going to stay there.” In other words, the Irish question must be kept out of British politics. Peter Mulligan, Pat Hensey and Jim Argue [Labour Party members of the Connolly Association] were very indignant at this, and Argue says there is much grumbling and discontent in the rank and file of the Labour Party already.
Sean Redmond went to the MCF General Council meeting. Now that Brockway is a Lord, he can’t book rooms in the House of Commons. Eber, for reasons best known to himself (I’m an Asiatic,” he said when the lights went out, “I’ll just sit there quietly in the dark”). arranged the meeting at 374 Grays Inn Road [near King’s Cross Station, where the MCF had its office in the same building as the Connolly Association]. Brockway complained that the place was dirty. But Eber borrowed our chairs. We suspect he wants the meeting on ground where Brockway will be less of a father figure and more “one of the boys” – possibly a naughty boy.
January 17 Sunday: Phyllis rang in the morning saying that all her fences are blown flat by the gales. This is a winter of the style of years ago, wild, mild and changeable. She thought I had been to Lewis [to visit two of his maternal aunts]. I went on the 12.45 from Victoria and took a taxi to the small house built facing the hill and from the back overlooking a deep valley with the downs in the distance. Bertha greeted me, and both were overjoyed to see me. Bertha thinks she looks like AEG [his mother] but I would say in ways Hilda does more – but both are very similar. Bertha is 70, and Hilda something like 75 or 76. Victor apparently is about 79[Maternal uncle], and the reason for the gap between him and AEG [Amy, his mother] is that there was another boy who died. Bertha has had one coronary thrombosis and must take things easily. Hilda is half-crippled with arthritis. I said to Bertha who accompanied me a few yards from the door when I left that she was not too bad, but she told me she had taken a stiff dose of a drug when she knew I was coming. They live reasonably comfortably, but simply. And of course they are now entirely living in the past. This is the contrast with the Greaves family, who never looked backward however old they got. But they think the Greaveses “hard”. They were very pleased to have seen Mary Greaves [his paternal aunt]. Both retain their lively sense of humour. They have been here nine years and used to do much walking but now cannot. Until last year they used to sing in the local Church of England choir. They have a piano with one pedal dated 1851 by a reference to the British Exhibition, and watch television and listen to the radio. Bertha is a nurse and can look after Hilda. Every Wednesday a doctor comes to see if the drugs she is taking have resulted in side-effects. “Its sad when you’re getting old,” said Bertha and they urged me to call again soon as “time is getting on.” Apparently after Hilda’s husband, named Crofton, died they came here for a holiday, and when they saw this house going for three or four hundred pounds bought it up cheap.
Apparently when my message reached them Mabel [another maternal aunt] was there, so they urged me to call to her before returning. There is just a wee bit of rivalry. I rang her up and postponed my train by an hour so as to go and have a meal with her. Bertha has the same droll ways as fifty years ago, indeed as fortynine years ago when she used to tantalise me as a toddler by drawing a ship and putting wheels on it, or a picture of CEG with a pipe in his mouth. Apparently I used to get wild and AEG would say “leave him alone, you’ll spoil his temper.” She told me of something I do not remember, namely telling AEG of some dreadful account of how the plumbers had been and the house was flooded where Bertha lived, and when she arrived to view the damage all was well. “Dear me,” said AEG [his mother], “I don’t know what I’ll do. He’s going to turn into a little liar.” But I do recall Phyllis sitting in her baby chair and a flood of water coming down in our own house, and AEG racing off to Crosthwaite the plumber as the poor little thing let off the most dreadful howl, myself, aged three, rushing out after AEG, and being shooshed back. So one is probably the reflection of the other. There is a photograph showing my grandmother aged thirty, and looking twenty, with AEG, Victor Taylor, Hilda and Mabel a baby in arms.
At first Bertha was directing me to Mabel’s and said, “Go up the road on the left and if you come to anything that looks like a church or smells like a stable, you’re there.” But she then came part way with me. She said she was in Ireland during the time that Terence MacSwiney was on hunger strike and hoped that the Lemass-O’Neill talks would result in the reunification of the country. She recalls arriving at 1 am. from Holyhead and throwing up stones at the window of AEG’s house when CEG was on night work. She used to be afraid to meet him in the street. Under his arm would be rolls of music, and he would stop and say, “Look at this now, Bertha – the flute goes tum-te-tum-to-tee and then the tenors come in and go tum-te-tum-to-to…” and she would look round for means of escape. But Hilda was always the favourite with Phyllis and myself as children, and I was sorry to see her so crippled.
I reached Mabel’s early. She is of course financially better off, with a beautiful house, good piano and everything of the best. She produced two bottles of beer, and was likewise very pleased that I called up to her. She said she had never been told the cause of AEG’s sudden death. I don’t think she was at the funeral. However I told her it was coronary thrombosis, and she told me how George Peachey her husband had fallen down dead in front of her at the age of 49 [He had been a director of Costains the builders and gave CD Greaves his first job in an estate office in East London – See Vol. 4A, the 1944 Restrospect]. I found her a wee bit inclined to “lay it on with a trowel”, and how I dislike compliments which mean nothing. But of course she was trying to please me, and it was her way of doing it. She also lives somewhat in the past, but lives in the present as well, and is very sorry that Hilda and Bertha have “let themselves go”. She would enjoy perfect health but for having put a knee out of joint a year ago, which obstinately refuses to get better. So that is another pity. Rene has been in hospital with intestinal trouble; Dorothy also on and off, and though Vic is well, two years ago he slipped on the ice on the way to an orchestral rehearsal with his flute, and cut his head open. But, still he seems the heartiest of them. Ethel, in Australia, has lost her husband, or maybe I recollect it wrongly, is liable to do so. Mabel is worried by her children. Brian has had a “set-back” having been suddenly transferred from Silchester to Wareham, having to give up the house he was buying. Diana is married to a Major who is virtually a dipsomaniac. The youngest is the least trouble and is running a pig farm in Sussex with her husband. The feud with Dorothy still goes on, and particularly with her husband – a somewhat stupid Cockney who once got the measure of Rene’s tongue for saying all Irish people were mad! I left at 5.50 after promising to make more regular visits in future.
Back in London I found Sean Redmond and Peter Mulligan and Joe Deighan came in soon afterwards. Sean and I went to Holloway [selling the Irish Democrat on the weekend paper run, which Greaves regularly did for years, indeed decades, usually for two or three nights at weekends when in London]. He is in much better form now. Goodness knows what was biting him a few months ago! We saw Campbell and O’Meehan (I think that is the name – the man who came from Derry and worked the trick on Sean at Hyde Park – and they actually bought papers from us. We are adopting the policy of not keeping up the feud, while expecting little cooperation.
January 18 Monday: What with one thing and another I could not leave London today. But in preparing for departure I happened to compare the photograph Morgan gave me with the group taken in Dublin (in 1904 I would guess) [He was researching the family origins of Liam Mellows for the biography he was working on]. I suddenly realised it was not of WJ Mellows but of the other soldier in the group, presumably his brother. I was puzzling as to why it was taken in Plymouth, which as far as I can gather WJ Mellows never visited. So this is an important strike. I was thinking of paying a visit to Somerset House, but decided on second thoughts to go to Callan [In Co.Kilkenny, Ireland] first.
January 19 Tuesday: On the way to Euston I called into the office. In that very two minutes, Cox telephoned. Apparently my proposals for a settlement have won some support, and my letter to R.Palme Dutt has been duplicated and distributed. Not of course that no bargaining will take place, but it seems the stage is favourably set. My central proposal was for a pamphlet, “Communism and the Irish”. I think this should satisfy those who see propaganda as the great aim, and at the same time if some of the sectish ones can be drawn into its preparation they will realise the subject is a complex one. That realisation is badly needed. Then we may have peace at last.
I left for Liverpool on the 12.20, and called in to 124 Mount Road [His family home in Birkenhead where his sister Phyllis lived] where I left an oil lamp for Phyllis’s cottage – the one we got for the office when the light was cut off by the landlord’s incompetence. She is apparently still in Kendal, and has gone by road, which is a pity, as I saw frost in the fields on the way up. A workman was mending the fences, which have been completely wrecked by the storm – indeed I do not think I ever saw them so badly damaged. Seemingly the gale reached 100 mph. and apart from slates and fences, actually lifted the roofs of some houses. However, when I boarded the Munster, the wind seemed light enough.
January 20 Wednesday (Dublin): I disembarked in a rainstorm and high wind, so took a taxi to Cathal’s [his friend Cathal MacLiam and his wife Helga who lived at 74 Finglas Park, Dublin 11]. The crossing was stormy, but I have known much worse. I did not do much in the day, but some essential shopping, and then talked with Cathal. Cathal Goulding [Sinn Fein and IRA leader, who was Cathal MacLiam’s cousin – see Volume 15] had been several times and had papered their walls (he and his father run a decorators’ business).
January 21 Thursday: I did some work at the National Library, and found out something about Callan in the mid-nineteenth century from the Kilkenny Journal. Apart from that there was nothing.
January 22 Friday: I went to the Custom House to seek Mellors and Gardiner in Callan. The first death register is of 1864. There I saw Edmund Gardiner, Callan – in the very first volume. But I searched to 1886 without finding another, nor a Meller. Then I decided to find the death entries of Jeanne and Frederick. There was some delay. I turned over a page by accident – to March 1914 instead of August and though I had never seen another Mellows family in all the searches I have ever made there, there was John Mellows, large as life, dying in Celbridge at the age of 30. Quite possibly this is not the family at all. But it raises fascinating questions. Joseph, the baker, however cannot be traced.
I had lunch with Roy Johnston. Cathal went to Galway taking Egon and Finula, so the house seems quiet. Roy called up in the evening to borrow a baby’s bath, as he expects Mairin’s new arrival in a week or two. I went to the National Library again. I also saw Sean Nolan and Michael O’Riordan [leaders of the Irish Workers Party, the Republic of Ireland’s communist party]. The latter was very anxious for me to go to the CPNI Conference in Belfast [Communist Party of Northern Ireland]. But I have not been invited. “An oversight,” says O’Riordan. Belfast is supporting the O’Neill-Lemass talks, while Dublin is opposed and calls it “total capitulation”.
January 23 Saturday: I did little enough today, apart from some useful planning of future work. With the twins away the house seems astonishingly quiet. I saw Sean Nolan, and with him was Frank Edwards, who to my surprise invited me to his film show. He is credited with being the most anti-nationalist of all. But perhaps he too is “melting”.
January 24 Sunday: I wrote quite a number of letters, and in the afternoon went to the GPO to post them. Who should I meet but Beatrice Browne, very distraught and tearful at the loss of her mother a month ago. I think there were only the two of them. She is working in the Corporation and says the corruption is appalling, but she did not go into details or say whether it was in big things or in small. Cathal came back late.
January 25 Monday: I went to the National Library, and found the date of Liam Mellows’s Athlone visit if it was, as Walt Mitchell said, the day of the races in 1913. I also found useful Fianna reports in the Limerick Leader of all places. But these searches are time-consuming and there is little to be seen for a day’s work. Cathal went to an Anti-Apartheid working party in the evening[The Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement had been founded the year before by Trinity College law lecturer Kader Asmal and his wife Louise. Cathal MacLiam and Anthony Coughlan were on its first committee. Asmal later became a Minister in the first two post-Apartheid South African Governments] .
January 26 Tuesday: I made very little progress today, but had a talk with Bob Briscoe at the Shelbourne at midday[Fianna Fail TD and War of Independence veteran]. He says he thinks it unlikely that the McGuinness who went to Clooncunny was Captain McGuinnesss. It might have been Professor McGuinness, in which case the mystery deepens. I looked through an 1880 Kilkenny directory and found neither Meller nor Gardiner, and could not trace more than one of the addresses in Liam Mellows’s notebook or Mrs Woods’s list. Of course, as I have found, Thoms often did not change their directory for years on end. And the times were troubled. I found the Edinburgh air raids Nora Connolly was caught in, but that was about all. When I got back to Finglas Cathal Goulding was there. He agreed that Caughey and Gill [Tomás MacGiolla] should get in touch with us on arrival, and that they should try to come on March 12th. He is traditional but chafing against tradition. He thinks republicans might consider legal defences to avoid the blackmail. He says, “it dies hard” and that “it would have been better if the movement had been completely smashed after the Civil War, then it could have been built afresh from its foundations”.
A letter came from Mr Ward of Raphoe, saying he would be glad to meet me if I go north, and saying Alasdair McCabe, who taught in an industrial school at Killybegs until 1916, would know if Liam Mellows went to Killybegs in 1913.
January 27 Wednesday: I telephoned Ernest Blythe [Former IRB member, of Northern Protestant backround, later Cumann na Gael Government Minister] in the morning. He was most cordial and referred to the Democrat. His experience on arrest in 1916 is of value in corroborating accounts of Mellows’s. He told me he was at a little place in Co. Limerick near Newcastle West. He could not remember its name. The Irish Times in 1916 spelled it first Althea, then Altrea, but I imagine it is Athea. It was, I understood him to say, “Near where Con Colbert came from”, but I was not sure he did not say “Colivet”, but he was not named Cornelius. He was arrested at his hotel at 3 am. soon after Sean MacDermott had been to Limerick (St. Patrick’s Day) and given Blythe the first hint of the Rising. It was after this visit that Blythe went to Athea. He was taken to the Railway Station, kept for a few hours in Limerick police barracks, then taken by train to Dublin, to Arbour Hill. When he arrived Mellows, who was there before him, was swiftly hustled out of the room. There was no trial. The arrest was under DORA [Defence of the Realm Act] He was kept at Arbour Hill for a fortnight, or at least for ten days. Then he was given a ticket for Abingdon, and taken to Holyhead. Two military policemen escorted him. He escaped from the train when they were asleep, but found he had no money. All he could do was to take another train to Abingdon. There he booked into a hotel, and immediately wrote home. Later he found digs. Helena Moloney came to make arrangements for getting him back to Ireland. Later Art O’Brien came from London, and he nearly went there with him. “Are you going to report to the police?” he asked. “I am not!” said Blythe. After Mrs Fitzgerald had visited him, he was arrested for not obeying his instruction to report to the police. He was taken to Reading jail, then to Brixton. There when he went to chapel he went into the front row. Next day to his surprise he was rudely hustled to the back, but not before he had caught sight of a tall bearded man sitting alone surrounded by maximum security. This, he says, was Casement [Sir Roger Casement, executed for his involvement in the Easter Rising]. He was not given any choice of towns. He commented, “Mellows was better primed than I. He reported to the police.” It is interesting if he is right about Casement, for it means he was a practising Protestant at that time.
I then rang Alasdair McCabe. He told me that he was not teaching in Killybegs till 1915 so does not know if Liam Mellows was there. He thinks he left Ballymote in 1918, but he is on Mrs Woods’s list, which must have been made in or after 1921.
The weather is shocking, wet snow showers, filth and sludge.
January 28 Thursday: I accomplished very little today, though I spent a few hours in the Library searching for the Cork City meeting which I imagine must have been during the truce. I did not complete the search, but so far drew a blank. It might be argued that all this detailed research on Mellows’s movements diverts attention from the broad sweep of revolutionary development. But I find usually that the one illuminates the other. For the objective position was one thing only – how individuals reacted to it is the other. A letter came from McGuinness of Kilbeggan. I half think he may prove to be the Clooncunny McGuinness. He gave me the address in Dublin of Seamus Brennan – a man Eamonn Martin mentioned as connected with Tullamore, but could not supply the address. Martin is very tiresome in that every bit of information has to be extracted from him at great pains and then is only half-complete. He does not see the significance of things.
January 29 Friday: I called to Seamus Brennan in Leinster Road. His brother opened the door and advised me to return later, which I did. Unfortunately his wife is ill, so that we had to defer a full discussion till I return from my tour. He spoke with emotion of the execution, or murder he called it, of Liam Mellows. Every Sunday he sees Dick Mulcahy at Mass. “I try to forgive him,” he said, “but I can’t forget. Not when I see him there”. Mellows stayed at his house at Tullamore when organising the Fianna in 1913. “I’ve seen him go out and cycle ten or fifteen miles on a frosty night,” he recalled. The last time he spoke with him was while the negotiations at the Mansion House were under way. He had dinner with him. His last words were, “Seamus it’s not very hopeful. They’re asking too much.” Seamus Brennan did not take part in the Civil War, though they sympathised with the Republicans. He felt most bitter about Churchill and angry at the ballyhoo that is filling all the papers.
I had lunch with Roy Johnston. He had been with Sean Cronin [IRA leader during the 1956-61 “Border campaign”, who was married to an American lady] who is going back to the USA for at least six months. I suspect he might remain for good, but Roy thinks not [Cronin did in fact remain in America, and died there].
In the evening we had a visit from Tony Coughlan. Until recently he was toying with the idea of returning to England to work on the Irish Democrat. But I expected the pull of academic life would be too strong. He now says he will remain at TCD until some offer of a political job arises in Ireland. But of course it won’t. I doubt if he expects it.
January 30 Saturday (Belfast): I went to Belfast. In place of the wet snow following the rains, there was brilliant sunshine and black frost. I found Jack Bennett digging his garden [journalist of Protestant background then working on the “Belfast Telegraph” and writing the influential “Claud Gordon” political column in the weekly “Sunday Press”, a member of the Belfast Wolfe Tone Society and an old friend of Greaves’s]. I paid a visit to Art MacMillan [Sinn Fein member and brother of IRA leader Liam MacMillan. He used send Greaves regular material on discrimination issues in these years] who told me Mrs McCluskey [of the Dungannon-based Campaign for Social Justice] was coordinating with Caughey[Sinn Fein supporter who was running a Civil Liberty Association]. While suspicious of the O’Neill-Lemass accord, and quite sure it represents a capitulation on Lemass’s part, they have little policy but to wait till the people are disillusioned. And there may be some wisdom in this. Jack Bennett says that hopes of a brave new world north of the border are stronger than on the other side.
January 31 Sunday (Gortin): I took the train to Dungannon – for the last time seemingly since the line closes in a fortnight’s time. While Lemass was junketting with O’Neill the latter was proceeding with the isolation of Derry. From Dungannon I cycled through Pomeroy to Gortin. Again the weather was brilliant, tolerably warm at midday, but extremely cold at night. I scarcely remember seeing the stars so clear, and that the bright red sunsets, still continuing, are due to volcanic dust there can be no doubt, for there was not a wisp of cloud or smoke in the lower atmosphere. I was talking with Mrs Collins. She was very concerned about reports of the An Oige hostels being full of bugs and God knows what. An Englishman had been so badly bitten that he had had to go to hospital. She mentioned Ball Hill. I said I was there recently and saw nothing untoward. Again she mentioned Mount Shannon, which is looked after by a miserable old bitch who wants to sell teas to motorists she illegally lets in – but she knows which side her bread is buttered on well enough to look after the hygiene. I strongly suspected Orangemens’ stories and told her so. She said she could believe that, but there was no smoke without fire. But I heard the same yarn before the war and while there might be an occasional flea near Dublin, generally there is little sign.
February 1 Monday (Raphoe,Donegal,Sligo): Again in intensely cold brilliantly sunlit weather I cycled on to Newton Stewart, Clady and Raphoe where I called on Peter Joseph Ward whose house is next to his solicitor’s office in the Diamond. I arrived at about 2 pm. and he took me into the hotel and provided a good lunch and several double whiskies. “You’ll be on the bus now,” he said. It is surprising how clues and explanations crop up in unexpected places. He says that he was Liam Mellows’s host after he left Mrs Woods in about March or possibly April 1921, in a large detached house in Serpentine Avenue, Ballsbridge. He was born in Killybegs, was a student in Dublin in 1913, but then returned to Co. Donegal. In March 1921 Collins brought him to Dublin to deal with an importation of arms from (he thinks) Italy. Then he was transferred to Cathal Brugha’s staff. The ill-feeling between the two men was already strongly developed and as soon as Ward passed under Brugha’s leadership Collins had no more to do with him and lost interest in the project. This presumably was that of getting arms from D’Annunzio. Collins’s loss of interest is sometimes attributed to preparations for the truce. Ward’s explanation is more probable. After a while he was approached by Mrs Woods to find accommodation for Mellows. He had it in mind that Mellows spent some time in England on his way back from America. Possibly the story that Mellows went a second time to the USA is correct, in which case Ward would not know he had been with Mrs Woods. Mrs Woods on the other hand does not say he left her to go to Ward’s. But, on the other hand, Ward “went Free State”. Today he expressed unbounded admiration for Collins and could easily have forgotten Mellows and told me the life of his hero. “People report to Collins when they ought to report to me,” Mellows said to him once. This was because they wanted to earn Collins’s praise above all else.
He recalls the house being surrounded and the outhouses searched. In one of them was a bicycle that Mellows used. It had been “swiped” from the military and Mellows thought as soon as it was seen the Crown Forces would grow suspicious and raid the house. But they did not. Only one man used to call at the house, a one-time devout Catholic who married a Protestant from Co.Down and took the hierarchy’s condemnation of the IRB so seriously that once he had taken the oath he never went near a church again. He could not remember his name. Etchingham did not come to that house. He confirmed the incident of going to the races with a car which stuck in the mud in a field, the Auxiliaries helping to pull it out. He added that these were, he thought, Castleknock races, and that at that time it was forbidden to use a car without a permit. This is of course why Mrs Woods tells the story, but she omits the explanatory point. He spoke of a Donegal McGuinness who might have been the man at Clooncunny. He knew there was a plan to land arms in Sligo or Donegal as when Mulcahy’s office was raided it was stated that some such plans were found, and his name was mentioned. But he knew nothing of it and the whole thing may have been a code for something else. He gave me the address of the former secretary of the Derry Fianna, who lives in Corby, Northants.
Leaving him at 4.10 I caught the bus to Donegal and Sligo, staying the night as once before at Niland’s Guest House.
February 2 Tuesday (Dublin): I had half intended to return to Dublin before making for the west, but missed the train, so took the bus to Claremorris and the train to Athenry. An old man who got out at Tuam was talking to a young boy who had just withdrawn from a college at Cloonfad, I think, and was returning home to Clonmel. Both were praising the train as against the icy cold uncomfortable bus. But now that the train does not stop before Tuam the old man has to make a six mile bus journey back towards Claremorris. The old man said those Africans were savages and not ready for independence. None of the white races were ever cannibals. But the lad said on the contrary once the Europeans left them alone they’d quickly pull up and become civilised.
At Athenry I called on Stephen Jordan. He confirmed Mrs Frank Fahy’s account of the tent at Ballycahalan. Though he and Mellows took the tent, Mellows did not return with him and stayed on there. He recalled the Geraldines coming to Athenry, thus confirming a statement in a document Tony Coughlan brought up for me, a military bureau statement by a Trade Union man called Doyle. And he gave me further descriptions of the kind of work done by Mellows in Athenry.
I then cycled to Loughrea. But it was cloudy and cold and a steady easterly wind delayed me. I couldn’t get accommodation at the Railway Hotel. As Stephen Jordan had said Loughrea was the “most prosperous town in Ireland” and was having great difficulty in housing all the mining experts who are centred on the lead of Tynagh, I did not delay, but caught the afternoon train to Dublin, where Cathal and Helga were quite surprised to see me, so much so that Cathal produced a bottle of Chianti, which added to the one I had with me made two.
February 3 Wednesday: I intended to return to Loughrea but mistook the time of the train and went back to Finglas having missed it. I went to the National Library and checked on the races Peter Ward said he accompanied Liam Mellows to in 1921. He said Castleknock or “some place beyond Phoenix Park” but all I could find in the Racing Calendar for 1921 were Phoenix Park races, and Fairyhouse, which I had indeed thought he meant. I wrote giving the names of some winners in case he remembered them. Michael O’Riordan was in the National Library and professed himself very pleased with the conference in Belfast.
February 4 Thursday (Loughrea): This time I caught the train and on reaching Loughrea called into Tom O’Brien who keeps a medium-sized hardware and general store, with the inevitable “Select Bar” at the rear. He is a tall youngish-looking man, I would say in his forties, with a habit of leaning over and whispering confidentially in his conversation, even though not the faintest evil would come from speaking out loud. By this means he nevertheless conveys the sense of a compliment. He wears a pioneer pin. I found him most helpful. He mentioned first and foremost Coy, whom Stephen Jordan had told me of. Then there was Martin O’Regan who claimed much of the credit for lifting Mellows’s motorcycle out of police custody in Loughrea barracks. “His brother claims to have been there too,” he said, “but I can tell you he wasn’t. He funked it. And old Martin is just a windbag. Coy’s your man. And then there’s Gilchrist.” “What about Newell?” asked the wife rather timidly. Her husband shook his head and the matter dropped. I went off to look for Coy. I found his house about two hundred yards east of the town, a bungalow part up a left fork. His wife said he was out but might be in Cronin’s opposite O’Brien’s taking a drink. Thither I repaired, but no Coy. O’Brien then urged me to go to Gilchrist, who keeps a second-hand furniture shop towards the lake from O’Brien’s. I found him and he painfully descended the staircase which seems to lead from his country house, and had a few minutes with him. He directed me to Pat Regan, brother of Martin. When I reached his house at the foot of Kelly St. he was in bed, but on hearing my business promised to be up if I came back in an hour. Meanwhile I made a second call on Coy, and finally met him in the street and accosted him thanks to O’Brien’s description of him as wearing a bluish coat, and walking with a slightly military bearing holding one shoulder higher than the other. He told me he was responsible for the capture of the motorcycle which was hidden over the wall of Mount Carmel convent, and then taken into the country under a load of hay. As Jordan and O’Brien indicated, he was a kindly, modest, transparently genuine old man without the amour propre to dilate on his exploits. He urged me to see an older man, Newell, and took me slowly (his heart is causing him trouble) to the end of his road. The car was not there so he must be out. He was a paymaster for the Board of Works or County Council or something like that. I then repaired to Pat O’Regan’s, after a brief discussion with Dermot Sweeney who keeps a shop on the Galway Road. Sweeney runs a travel agency. His unexpected accent he quickly explained. His mother was Birmingham Irish and brought up in a highly nationalist exile atmosphere. His father, who married her in Birmingham, came back to Ireland when he was about seven, and after a brief spell in Dublin set up shop in Loughrea.
He says he remembers Mellows arriving on a push-bike, as he understands it, just before Easter 1916. He says he is now 56. He doesn’t look it, but this must mean (making due allowances for a year or two) that his father was not long in Loughrea when Mellows arrived. “I don’t know whether he stopped here or in O’Flaherty’s,” he said. Then he made the strange claim to have been in English prisons as a child with his father. I was therefore disinclined to pay too much heed to him. Above all he stressed that his father was a Trade Unionist, and to a lesser degree a Sinn Feiner. I recognised in his scrap book which he brought out the headed notepaper of the Dublin Trades Council, and cuttings which appeared to have come from Patricia Rushton’s “Irish People”, the Labour Party paper.
Pat Regan was mainly concerned with his own part in the capture of the bicycle. He described his brother’s proposing the capture and Coy’s assent. They climbed over the wall in their stockinged feet, broke the lock on the door, opened it and wheeled the motor bicycle out. He told the story of how Larry Garvey, whom Mellows had met at a meeting in Athenry only once, was standing at Mullagh crossroads when Mellows arrived on a motorcycle. He recognised Garvey and said to him, “Give me a push bike, and take this motorbike instead.” The reason was that motorcycles were rare, and noisy. Bicycles were common and quiet. Mellows had come from Loughrea to Mullagh. Later the premises of Garvey were raided and the bicycle taken to Loughrea barracks, where the six men under Coy captured it. Regarding the origin of the motorcycle, it was testified by the National Bureau that it was the one presented to Mellows in 1915. He had moreover come on it from Dublin to lead the Rising. Why come to Loughrea, then go back to Mullagh? How could he have it in Dublin when he was taken to England with no more than what he stood up in and his fiddle? On the first point, he came from Dublin since he was dressed as a priest, and it is known that that is how he came from Dublin. So there are several contradictions there.
O’Regan said the old Fenian Flynn started Na Fianna, with a small delicate lad, Dick Wilson, a pharmacist. Tom Donohoe, who later became a priest, used to come out from Dublin at intervals. He did not know whether Mellows came or not. It was possible. Like O’Brien he insisted on the Redmondite character of Loughrea. Duffy the MP was the great public figure. He himself had taken part in knocking that gentleman’s walls down to encourage him to divide up the large farm he had acquired. He was notorious for buying the cattle of evicted persons, but as a large shopkeeper and useful man of influence he still held the respect of the people. He had a big farm outside the town. The wall-breaking campaign at an earlier stage had secured holidays for the town tenants.
When I returned to O’Brien I had from several sources acquired the knowledge that O’Brien though once friendly with Newell had broken with him about a year ago. O’Brien told me that Pat O’Regan was the brother who “funked” stealing the motor bicycle. As for Dermot Sweeney, his father had refused to lend Liam Mellows a bicycle to go from Loughrea to Killeeneen, with the result that he had to be carried in turns on the crossbars of the party which came to collect him. Newell was a member of that party. “Now as for Newell, I’ve no time for him. We had a little disagreement about a year ago. But he did do that, and to be out in 1916 was the only hard work he ever did in his life. So you should go and see him. But be careful, don’t mention me. Say Coy sent you”.
So off I went, and it was now dark. I found the house, noted the car outside, and was escorted in by Newell’s wife. There was a trace of irritability and what did I do but say, when asked who sent me, Tom O’Brien. I explained briefly what I wanted. Suddenly out of the blue he demandingly asked, “Credentials?” I was surprised and told him I was the author of the Life of James Connolly, half-expecting that now the cat was out of the bag I would see myself shown the door. To my surprise his manner softened at once, and he apologized. “James Connolly, the one and only”. So this was not a plot by Tom O’Brien to revoke his pension. He proved the sharpest-witted of all I met and grasped all my points at once. He was a native of Killeeneen and an admirer of the Flemings. He also admired Kenny but said that on his return from America in 1923 he refused to touch the National Question, saying he was not going to forget all he had learned in America. “The partition will go when the workers of Ireland join hands across the border,” he declared. Kenny had done a mass of work in South Galway since 1906. He used to go to Dublin every few weeks and meet Clarke and MacDermott. He was mainly a GAA man, but also Sinn Fein. It was he who secured the right of Galway IRB members to take part in agrarian disturbances. When a policeman named Burke was shot as a result of some land agitation there was criticism from the IRB and Kenny went to Dublin and secured support for the local position. Loughrea was by now a very pro-British town, though in Land League days it had been the National Capital of Galway. The Loughrea IRB was in effect parliamentarian, whence the difference. Sean MacDermott came to Craughwell in 1910 with the objective of composing the differences, but without success. The new movement demanded a new centre which could only be found in Athenry. Newell promised to accompany me to Mullagh tomorrow.
I then went to see Pat O’Regan again. On the way I observed a phenomenon similar to what I saw in Belfast last week. Then a first magnitude object, not as bright as Jupiter, but about as bright as Sirius, moved along the track of the zodiac, through Taurus and Gemini eastwards. I saw it enter Cancer, then confused it with Procyon. The night was cloudless and I formed the theory that it had entered the earth’s shadow and become eclipsed. Tonight it appeared again, but farther south, and fainter. It began no brighter than Aldeboran, then as it moved into Orion, before my very eyes it faded to second, third – and no magnitude. So the theory was confirmed, as it passed through the penumbra first. What the sky will look like in twenty years time heaven knows. We will be dizzy trying to find the fixed stars behind the floating ironmongery.
With Pat O’Regan I went to his brother, Martin. As Tom O’Brien said, he could tell me little. But both of them appreciated that Liam Mellows could not come from Dublin on a bicycle he had not got, and would not need to be carried on the cross-bars out of Loughrea if he had a bicycle there which he obtained in Mullagh. The conundrum was not easy.
When I had asked about staying the night and failed to get into the hotel where Monahan [Alf Monahan] stayed when he was working for the Military Bureau, O’Brien said, “There’s a little Protestant girl down the road here, Mrs Hunniford, whose husband died and she’s trying to make a bit on bed and breakfast”. He had a word with her, and I duly booked in. After leaving the O’Regans I went there. For all the Protestantism a holy picture was in a corner of the room. But elsewhere were old portraits, and the bookcase with glass in it contained the entire novels of Dickens and Maria Edgeworth, with poems of Byron and such like. The bookshelves without glass contained modern cheap paperbacks.
February 5 Friday (Kinvara): For all the Protestantism it was eggs for breakfast [the day being the Friday ”fast day”]. Newell called for me in his car and while it was not freezing in Loughrea, we soon were travelling through freezing fog. We turned right at KIlreekill and left at Mullagh Cross and called on Mr Garvie, aged 83, who was in bed. He speedily got up when he learned Newell was here and in answer to our enquiries said that Liam Mellows left his motorcycle at Mullagh before Easter, and took a bicycle in its place. When he came from Dublin for the Rising he arrived on another motorcycle, which he left here, proceeding on a bicycle to Athenry. So now there were two motorcycles at Mullagh. “The first time he came,” I said to him, “weren’t you surprised to be asked for a bicycle and given a motorcycle in exchange?” Well,” he replied, “the motorcycle really came from Mannions.” He explained that Michael Mannion was still in the old home, and after hearing something of Mellows’s efforts to organise East Galway, we went there. Mannion’s was a two-storey house. Old Mannion, who has with him a Mrs Magill as housekeeper, had been breaking ice on a tank and held out his hand. The housekeeper did not seem desperately pleased to see us, as she had to leave the warm room (as is the custom still in Connaught) to allow the men to discuss their business in private. The account given by Mannion (described by Garvie as a person of of superior intellect) was as plain and simple as to dispose of all argument. On the day Mellows arrived from Dublin on the pillion of one motorcycle, which its driver took to Ballinasloe, Corbett who had been using Mellows’s while he was away, left it at Mannion’s when it broke down somewhere near Mullagh. It was then taken to Garvie’s after the Rising. Mellows arrived on Spy Wednesday and stayed the night. Mannion borrowed him a bicycle from a neighbour and he rode to Loughrea on it late on Thursday, Mannion having taken a message to O’Flaherty. The reason why Mannion had to borrow a bicycle was because his own had been lent to Corbett. But that meant he returned quickly what was borrowed from the neighbour. Since there was a fair in Loughrea on Good Friday, Mannion walked his cattle into town, got the bicycle from Peter Sweeney’s and rode it back. And since Mellows could not persuade anyone in Loughrea to lend him one, he had to proceed to Killeeneen on the crossbars of a detachment from Craughwell Company. The reason he came to Mullagh was that he crossed the Shannon at Banagher, not touching Ballinasloe. We were both very delighted to get this full account, which resolved the whole crux.
After lunch in the railway hotel – fish since I was not so quick as a young city lad who whispered to the waitress and got steak – I saw O’Brien finally and took my leave. His wife deeply regretted the fact that the young people seemed to be taking no interest in local history. ”There’ll be none recorded in twenty years’ time,” she said. But at all times the youth spend their time playing, and what is there to be surprised at in that.
I cycled through Kilcreest and Castle Derg to Ardrahan and Doorus. There was freezing fog around Kilcreest, a thaw which had the trees dripping huge drops at Ardrahan, and more freezing fog which built up a furry layer of icicles in my woolen gloves and stockings. By the sea again it was a little milder.
February 6 Saturday (Kinvara/Ennis): I had half-intended to push on southwards but had not finished my notes. Accordingly I cycled along the peninsula to Aughinish, and back to Kinvara for supplies, before returning and doing more with the material gathered in the last few days. I only saw three species in flower this time – the ivy, already mostly fading, the daisy and the dandelion. But, sign that winter is passing, there are many lambs in the fields. Old Frank, the caretaker, told me that the Youth Hostel is really closed, but I could sign my name without any date, then he would put the date in in March! He did not seem to be drinking so heavily. Perhaps he gets no salary in the closed period.
February 7 Sunday (Ennis, Limerick): Today was milder again. The thin high clouds broke and there was plenty of sunshine. I therefore enjoyed thoroughly cycling to Crusheen, this time going a rather circuitous way which brought me near Gort and past a very fine round tower in a graveyard which must however be much more recent than the tower. One side of the tower had been damaged, I imagine, by lightning. There is now a lightning conductor on the top. At Crusheen I was told that Sean MacNamara’s son was living in Ennis. So I cycled on to Ennis and found him in Station Street. He took me up to an old man, Sean O’Keefe, who runs a sub-post office near the station. His information made important corrections. Father Crowe did not live in Corofin in 1916, but in another townland two miles from Ennis. It was to this priest Sean MacNamara brought Mellows. The habits for the nuns were supplied by the woman who is now Mother Lelia McKenna, of Tulla. She may indeed be the cousin of Mrs Padhraig Fahy of Tullyra. But the Corofin story put everybody off the track. It is still not known, however, how Liam Mellows came from Ballyoughtra to O’Brien’s Castle, or why that spot was selected.
MacNamara’s son, the national teacher, would be about my own age, though greyhaired and named Tadgh. He is not intensely interested and speaks of records lost and stories unrecorded. His father knew much folklore that his sons paid no heed to, all of which is now irretrievably lost. He was rereading Mac A’ Bheatha’s Life of Connolly and noted my name in the bibliography. His wife provided an appetizing meal and he drove me out to see the house Fr Crowe had when a curate, decently and safely away from the parochial house on the same road, occupied now by a “retired American”. He regarded his work with some cynicism. For a national teacher to pit himself against radio and television was hopeless. He sounded very afraid of Communism and noted that Mac A’ Bheatha (what’s his name in English? he asked) had described Connolly as a “communist”. Yet he used such phrases as “cult of the individual”, which he said O’Keefe was free from, and “I think affluence has destroyed our national spirit.” Again and again, with Garvie in Mullagh, with the O’Regans, and now with MacNamara, I heard the complaint, “We did not think of money in those days. Now everybody does.” And of course “pop” music, which pours continuously off radios wherever there are four walls to be contained, is an art primarily based on commerce, a true expression of the age we live in. People without strong convictions and lacking the analytical equipment to get at the significance of things, give up the struggle. And this is what national teachers are liable to do.
I took the bus from Ennis, and went to Limerick where I stayed at the National Hotel, which was well heated and very comfortable.
February 8 Monday (Limerick, Cork): I went first to the City Museum. The 1916 collection was not on display, and the Librarian not very interested or helpful. Indeed an odour of provincialism and mediocrity hung about the place, despite the valuable material known to be there. I was interested in a picture of Tom Clarke, Sean MacDermott and John Daly sitting together in the garden. An interesting feature was MacDermott’s bushy black beard. Could I get a photocopy? They didn’t do them. Could I find the date of the picture? It would involve a lot of trouble.
So I sought out Eamon Dore whose baker’s shop is at 27 William St. He was a friendly talkative man who walked to the station with me when I went for my train. He said the picture in the museum was taken soon after MacDermott was released from jail around Christmas 1915, after he and Tom Clarke went to Daly’s for a holiday to recuperate. Clarke had been “run down” also.
Dore had known Mellows, in 1914-16 in Athenry and in mid-1921 in Limerick. He had been a medical student in Dublin and was sent to Athenry to Mellows with a message. There was something of the sea-green incorruptible about him. Clearly his idol was MacDermott, and his bête noire Hobson. I noticed he had all the ultra-republican explanations of the behaviour of those who differed from him. He said before MacDermott returned to Dublin Hobson was very friendly with the Clarkes. Then MacDermott curbed him and he became intensely and bitterly jealous. Dore claims that when Hobson went to the USA he told John Devoy to hold no further communication with Clarke, since he was showing signs that his prison experiences had affected his mind. Clarke received no replies to his letters to Devoy for the space of a year. Then MacDermott was sent to the USA to discover the reason and found it was Hobson. It was this that began the division, and Hobson lost his job on the Gaelic American (poor as it was) for this reason and not on account of voting Redmond’s nominees on to the Volunteer Committee. Dore said that he met Hobson only once. He had gone to Belfast and was told bring nothing back. But a “dilettante”, HM Pym, a convert full of romanticism, urged him to take 400 rounds of ammunition to Hobson. He demurred, but when Pym accused him of cowardice, like the youngster he was, he gave in. He brought the stuff to Hobson who was sitting in the Volunteer office behind a banner. He lifted this up and invited Dore to sit behind it and talk with him. He was very affable.
“He had a great capacity to make himself attractive to boys.” But Dore said to him, “Here’s the stuff. Give me the receipt.” He had taken an instantaneous and violent dislike to him. He mentioned this to MacDermott, and said he did not trust him. “Don’t say that outside,” said MacDermott, “the people will think that it comes from me.” As for Father Martin, this is Dore’s account of it: “Fr Martin wanted to be Professor of History at UCD. Professor Tierney was married to MacNeill’s daughter. So she handed him the papers and he published the vindication of MacNeill written by himself.” Dore expressed the view that anything that MacNeill or Hobson said to justify themselves should be discounted. He disbelieves Hobson’s statement that he did not know about the plans for the Rising. Seamus O’Connor, a close friend of Hobson (whom Fr Martin wrote to me about), was at a circle meeting when it was announced that the Castle was to raid for Volunteers’ arms. The arms dumps should have a guard mounted over them. O’Connor dismissed this, “Take no notice of it.” There were several warnings came out of the Castle. He entirely disbelieved that Plunkett forged the document that led to the Rising. He considered that Hobson and MacNeill alone were responsible for discrediting its authenticity. If O’Connor knew about the Rising so did Hobson, said Dore, and the discrediting of the document was part of their case against dead men who could not defend themselves. As for JJ O’Connell, who started the civil war, he tried to stop the Rising in Wexford. Did I know this? I did. Bob Brennan had described it. “Ah – Bob Brennan – he was one of the successful revolutionaries.” Dore said he “sometimes felt bitter.” He had never accepted the pension and had happily never needed it. But he saw bogus reputations on all sides while the real martyrs were disregarded. I judged that much of this came from Mrs Tom Clarke. He would know her well, when the family were all in Limerick up to a few years ago.
All this was of interest. I have noted down the Mellows material elsewhere. The recriminations that follow setbacks and failures are not good evidence of anything but themselves, but they do have a certain content. Here is the old old heresy that when a party within a party decides on action, those who are not fully within its confidence are morally bound to support what they have not been consulted about. Now this exonerates MacNeill who was not in the IRB, but exonerated Hobson only if he was deliberately deceived, for the IRB handed over responsibility to a military committee, as Denis McCullough told me himself. The secretary of the Volunteers could not possibly have been expected to breach Volunteer discipline without previous preparation and discussion and to fail to consult Hobson was to put him in an impossible position, whereas his previous one was merely difficult.
I took the train to Limerick Junction and left the bicycle there, then came on to Cork City. I called on Jim O’Regan and sat talking with his mother till he came in, rather late. She has been very ill, and indeed only got up from bed yesterday. He is useless about the house, so that things are chaotic. He repeated what Tony [ie. Anthony Coughlan] had told me about the Dean of Cork, Canon Duggan, ordering the Cork Examiner not to review my life of Connolly or mention my name in the paper, and likewise ordering Denis Gwynn to write the second review retracting anything he said in the first one! The reviewer had taken great trouble with the review and felt very sore.
We sought Jim Savage but he was out. Then we had a quick drink and I returned to my hotel, Corrigans in MacCurtain Street, not as good as the National in Limerick. He told me that Mitchell lives in Kerry Pike, several miles out, and Ballincollig barracks is a long way down Carrigrohane Road, so it is a pity I left the bicycle at Limerick Junction!
Now my impression of Cork is that it has changed less than any other Irish town, and that the standard of living is lower here than elsewhere. Here quite a number of middle-aged women wear shawls. Here there remain second-hand clothes shops, which are rapidly disappearing even from Derry. Two men, one with a fiddle, the other with an accordion offer eleemosynary strains from opposite sides of Patrick Street. Fifty yards from the station I was invited to subscribe “the price of a cup of tea”. On the South Mall there is a public lavatory with one compartment free, providing only a hole in the ground and a tap. And even at mid-afternoon groups of shabbily-dressed young men are to be seen lounging about the town – though less so than in the towns of the Six-Counties. And yet here is the pleasantest city in Ireland, which you can walk round almost as if in Edinburgh, admiring the curious buildings and enjoying the “character” of the place.
February 9 Tuesday (Cork): After much enquiring after buses I took a taxi out to Kerry Pike, which is only 4½ miles out, but curiously inaccessible. There I saw Sean Mitchell, at the foot of a garden which terminated in a field containing two cows, hanging up clothes to dry on a line among the bushes. He was a little cool at first but thawed and invited me in. This was a Catholic house, but not ostentatiously so. His wife was unwell and sat in a chair in a room whose walls were decorated with photographs of a large family. They told me their story. He is from Offaly, but she from Athlone, where he went to live while young. He remembers Mellows from the end of 1914. She recalls him better and says he started the Athlone Fianna. “And a lot of use they were,” he interjected. “I took them over when he fell through. The oldest boys joined the Volunteers, but most of them were soldiers’ sons wanting an outlet for their energies.” Athlone, they explained, was a Unionist town, ”and still is.” Mitchell had little regard for Mellows’s instruction on the handling of guns – didn’t everybody in Athlone, or at least in the country around, start poaching as a child? The countryman’s contempt for the townsman was very evident, and so I understood the two cows at the back of a very modern well-fitted house. They explained that away back in 1915, Mitchell took instruction to become Catholic and as a result of family differences he moved to Cork, immediately after 1916. Owing to this, and the family disputes, he dropped out of the Volunteers until the week before the Rising. All those who dropped out were requested to hand in their arms. A meeting was called which he attended with his rifle, his own property. “I’ve brought myself as well.” “Are you coming out?” “Indeed I am.” The proposal was to link up with Mellows at Portumna. It was decided that to save transport difficulties he would take the arms to Banagher in a boat he had. This he did on Easter Saturday. Nobody turned up all day Sunday. On Monday he returned, rowing upstream, though he had sail and drying his rain-soaked clothing by the heat of his exertions. In Athlone he learned of the countermand. He tried to get a few men out but did not know where the remainder of the arms were secreted. The Corkman who was leading the Volunteers was on the run. Others scarpered to the States. He attributes the fact that he was not arrested to his simply returning to work in the woolen mills as if after a day off. But seemingly his family was well up in the wool trade for he was buying wool in England with his uncle when he was nineteen. In Cork he was active in the Volunteers, and particularly during the civil war.
He is a far “harder” man than his younger brother Walter, and has a slightly condescending attitude to that one’s lack of ambition, sitting by the lockside year after year. He spoke very warmly of Frank Hynes in Athenry but said in his youth he was a very nervous man. Jim O’Regan says he was more or less in charge of the IRA in Cork when he himself first came in contact with it. Mrs O’Regan knew he had a very good job, and so was very sorry afterwards to see him with pick and shovel on the roads, as a result of victimization. He drove me back to Sunday’s Well [where Jim O’Regan and his mother lived] in his van, after I had met his two daughters. One of them, a doctor, who wanted me to go and have tea at her house, had read my life of Connolly. These were people who refuse the Fine Gael or Fianna Fail pensions (or did not apply for them) and again the complaint was heard, “We did nothing for money. But what of the people now?”
After Jim O’Regan got home he took me round to see Tom Barry. At first his wife was extremely chilly. But the man himself invited us in, and she rapidly thawed. Barry is an old man, but of slim build and military carriage. His accent is compounded from Cork and British public school. Jim O’Regan told me afterwards that joining the army at sixteen he was pitchforked into the first World War and in Mesopotamia became very much assimilated to the British officer tradition. When he was demobilized and offered his services to the Volunteers at first he was put in intelligence work. Then confidence in him grew and his professional soldier’s swagger and disciplinarianism brought him a great reputatlon as a training instructor.
Mrs Barry completely dismissed Dorothy Macardle’s book[The Irish Republic]. They would not buy it because of its inaccuracies. It should not even be used as a basis, as it was simply a source of confusion. Though she is a great friend of De Valera she thinks this book written simply to glorify him, and as if nobody else did anything. I told Jim O’Regan afterwards how years ago I asked Dorothy Macardle why she stopped at 1926 and she said, “That was the time I came to disagree with Mr De Valera.” McInerney [Michael McInerney, first editor of “Irish Freedom”, predecessor of the “Irish Democrat”, and later political editor of the “Irish Times” and an Irish Labour Party supporter] was present and said to me afterwards, ”There you are, she’s a socialist.” But of course she was referring to the formation of Fianna Fail.
I got little information from the Barrys – except the impression that was inescapable of the hopelessness of the anti-treaty cause from the start. He spoke of lack of discipline, the abdication of political leadership by such older men as De Valera, and made no bones about the “failure of leadership”. From what he says Dorothy Macardle exaggerates the possibilities open to the anti-treaty side. I asked about Mellows’s paper. “Possibly he had a duplicated sheet for propaganda. But where would be get anything printed? We had no money but the raids on the banks. And the Irish regiments, disbanded at Oswestry, were sent straight back to Beggars Bush as the nucleus of the Free State Army. I showed them what should be done at Limerick. That should have been done in Dublin, and there would have been no Free State.” This is of course what Gallacher said [British communist Wlliam Gallacher, who came to Dublin at the time the “plenipotentiaries” returned from London with the Anglo-Irish Treaty and proposed to Liam Mellows and Rory O’Connor that they be immediately arrested. See “Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution” Chapter 14]
We went away then and saw Jim Savage, and I returned to my hotel.
February 10 Wednesday (Cork, Tipperary): I called in to Walter Furlong the tailor in Main Street. He told me that Tom Barry the auctioneer might fill the gap between Liam Mellows’s arrival in Cork and his departure to Courtmacsherry. But unfortunately that man was not at work. I decided not to delay, and went to Glanmire, had a few passing words with Donal Sheehan [Irish Workers Party member and brother-in law of Michael O’Riordan] who was just coming on duty, and went to Limerick Junction, recovered the bicycle and cycled to Tipperary Town, booking in at Dobbyn’s Hotel. One last thing about Cork. Furlong, a man Jim O’Regan says did not receive his due meed of appreciation for his national work, commented on the “great comradeship among the people of this country fifty years ago – it doesn’t exist in public life today.” Jim O’Regan commented on the destruction of the entire class of landless farm-workers, who supported every revolution in Irish history. It poured rain all evening, so that my plans for looking up people in Tipperary could not be put into effect.
February 11 Thursday (Callan): I did not delay in Tipperary.The day was mild and free, but with cirrus in the west. Making the most of the weather I cycled to Bansha, New Inn and Fethard to Poulacapple, noted that there was no church or graveyard there, and turned in towards Callan. I passed down the road where Lancaster [John Lancaster, with whom Greaves had gone on a cycle tour of the South of Ireland in 1939; see Vol. 5] was bitten by the “p’isoned fly”, but what a deterioration! The trees had been cut, the hedges replaced by cheap netting, and an air of waste-land had replaced the rural “community”, if such a word is permissible. I stopped at old Kilbride graveyard, but found scarcely a stone legible. Why they have undergone such destruction I cannot imagine, unless the local stone is insufficiently durable. I then came into town, an object of much interest to one inquisitive old policeman, who thought the plastic tags on my anorak were part of a photographer’s equipment. I booked in at the “Grand Central”, very much less grand than Dobbyn’s, but central enough.
The waitress told me there was no historian in the town, and that my best plan was to go to Kilkenny City and see Roughan, of the Kilkenny People. That would leave me here with nothing to do. On my way down the hill I noticed a pub called Gardiners, and went in there and ordered a whiskey. A young man in his late twenties was behind the bar. “You’ll never guess why I came in here – the name Gardiner.” I then introduced Mellers, and the Gardiner connection. “Well,” said he, “the Gardiners are only one family, though they’re numerous, and they come from outside the town.”
“Would it be from Poulacapple?” I asked.
“That is the place.”
We dallied a bit when he said, “I’ve just remembered something. You say Mellows was a baker. Of course the town was peppered with bakeries. I took out old ovens and flues from this place when I did it up. Now my name is Hogan. My father-in-law is Gardiner. It’s considered an aristocratic name around here. It’s Lord Mountjoy’s name. But I remember my father saying that when he renovated his place it was a bakery, and the man who had had it in the past was named Mellows – he was the father of the man shot in Mountjoy, but of course that is all hooey. Still it may be the same people.”
“Did your father take it over from the Mellows family?”
“Oh No, not at all.”
I went down to see the father, as pleasant and sympathetic as the son. He lives in Mill Street and told me that an old man who lived opposite, Tom Heron, had told him when he bought his premises in 1948 that they had been Mellows’s bakery. So I was brought to the spot thanks to the name Gardiner, though the connection was entirely fortuitous! Surprising coincidence. Pat Hogan said old Mellows (he believed to be the father of Liam Mellows) was a British soldier who stayed on after the army left Callan. He said Tom Heron’s son was a doctor in the town, so I walked out to his house and found him, a tall, slim, spare man, rather similar to Dr Paddy Daly and with the somewhat sceptical air many Irish doctors have – a feature which distinguishes them from their English colleagues. He confirmed what Pat Hogan had said. He added that his father, who was 90 in 1948, died in 1951 and told him many a story about old Mellows (or Mellis as the local people called him, possibly from the Irish for honey [ie. “Mil”, Genitive “meala”]. He was a hard-headed materialistic Englishman who joined the Catholic church on marrying a local girl, but was known to eat duck eggs to the universal consternation on the “black fast” of Good Friday. “I suppose he thought you have only one life and he was not going to allow anything to interfere with his enjoyment of it.” He said his brother was interested in Irish history, but he was “sickened with it”. It was badly taught. ”And anyway the only ones who put the fear of God into England were English themselves, Pearse, Tone, and Emmet. The old Irish you get along this road are a degenerate race. The planter stock is far superior. Now the English names in Callan are importations from Tipperary, from the Cromwellian plantation.”
I made further enquiries and learned that the parish priest is a crusty old fellow who would certainly not look up his parish register for anybody, and is by no means likely to allow anybody to make a search for himself. Nevertheless tomorrow I may try him out and see.
February 12 Friday (Waterford): The proprietor was in no hurry to give me my bill, but left it to his wife, who is a cockney. While I was waiting for the compilation, I went down Mill Street again and saw Pat Hogan. I asked him whom he bought the premises from and he said Dr Dunne of Castlecomer whose sister, Mrs Teehan, lives in the main street. What solicitor acted for him? Hogan round the corner. So I went to Hogan whose busy office is above the post office. Crammed into a small room are two typists and a clerk who also types. I met the proprietor’s son, who quickly found the deeds, and said that the origin of the present house was a sale of Baroness Annaly in 1922. He showed me a plan which indicated that the old bakery was the extreme western third of Hogan’s premises, and stretched back further than the premises next door which are now incorporated with it. The sale was made to Dunne, and he thought possibly the Annaly estate office in Kilkenny might have old rent books. This is situated opposite the Castle in KIlkenny City, the man concerned being named Haughton. Lord Annaly is now a complete absentee, living in London, and has not been seen in the county for 30 years.
Though I had the main thing I wanted, I still called on Mrs Teehan, a few doors away, and she confirmed what the solicitor said, but knew no more. She did not know tenant names, but suggested I try a Mr Kelly in Mill Street who was 90. I tracked him down. He was only 87, but in bed sick. A woman I imagine was his daughter went upstairs and asked if he remembered a Meller or Mellows in Hogans, but the only name he remembered was Lennon – this would presumably be before he joined the British army, that is possibly as early as 1891. So the elusive Joseph Mellows still escapes me. I did not follow up the suggestions of an old woman, or trouble about the Parish Priest, but cycled into Kilkenny after paying my bill, had lunch and called to Davis’s Estate Office. There I found that Haughton was away for the day at his Clonmel office and would not be back till Monday
I decided to go to Waterford, make the trip to Dungarvan tomorrow, and return to Kilkenny on Monday. But the only train left at 8.17 pm. I had six hours to fill in and thought very carefully over the wisdom of calling on members of the Archaeological Society whose names I was given, one of whom had been in Hogan’s shop between my visits. Another, a great expert on Callan, is Roughan of the Kilkenny People, who does a Callan history column every week. I decided against. For one thing, what I want is a document not hearsay; for another I didn’t want another Mac a’ Bheatha affair, where my discovery of Connolly’s birthplace was plastered all over Dublin by The Standardwithout my prior publication (which had stimulated Mac a’ Bheatha) being acknowledged. In this case I would not even have the prior information, and it is I who hold the key facts obtainable only in England. I would be prepared to trust the local journalists, but not the Press or Independent,who would publish it to spite me for political reasons.
So I called to the County Library. The young librarian showed no interest. An older woman advised me to try the City Hall. There I was directed to the County Council offices, without result, then the Health Department. An old, very knowledgeable man who was familiar with every street in Callan, told me his records only went back to 1927. He got out the oldest book he had but of course there were no Mellows. He suggested the Valuation Office, Ely Place, Dublin. Everybody I have spoken to who holds any official or professional position has deplored the destruction of the Irish Record Office in 1922. So that was as far as I could go. I walked round the town – an interesting one that I stayed in when cycling with Lancaster in 1939 and which I have passed through once or twice with Malcolm Craig and alone once or twice in the nineteenforties. It is strange that I have not the slightest recollection of where we stayed in 1939. Nor could I recollect the bar where we had the drink after Lancaster was bitten by the “pi’soned fly”. One thing did strike me in Callan, and that is the smaller number of countrymen about. On the other hand there were carts drawn by asses, and quite a number of horses throughout the dairy zone. These are rare in Galway and Clare. So in ways old Ireland survives most in the south midlands where the economy is soundest and has suffered least change. In arable areas the tractor has sent the sons abroad and the continuity of farming is threatened. Were any times so foolish as these? Hm!
February 13 Saturday (Dungarvan/Waterford): I caught the first train to Dungarvan and tracked Pax Whelan down to the Gaelic field where he was getting ready for tomorrow’s match, with a burly young fellow the very embodiment of the GAA. I went over with him some of the points I did not get clear before. The essence of his story is that on Feb.12-13 1921 a special meeting of the Southern Brigades was held at Glenville, Co Cork, to discuss the problem of shortage of arms. It appears to have been known that there were arms in Italy, presumably through Leahy. It was suggested that instead of bringing suitcase detachments, there should be a gun-running at Helvick, the peninsula being sealed off until the Volunteers could disperse with small parcels. It was left to Pax, as the only one who knew (though little more than) the bow from the stern of a ship, to make further proposals depending on sanction from HQ in Dublin. Accordingly he was dispatched to Dublin and tried to find Collins. He had great difficulty in locating those responsible, whose first cry was of protest at his tracking them down. He demanded a meeting to discuss his proposal and succeeding in getting one only on pointing out that the southern leaders were still in session, and if they were captured all was lost in the South. Then the meeting was agreed to. Cathal Brugha, Sean MacMahon, Michael Collins, Mellows and others were present. The date must have been about February 15th. Collins put every obstacle in the way. He and Brugha were already at loggerheads. Pax had already had brushes with Brugha, who would insist on investigating every complaint from his subordinates and tried to run an army as you would run a business, every penny accounted for. He was thus “not a Charlie man”(for Charlie they called him) but this did not help him now with Collins, who asked, “What’ll you do when you lose the ship?” “Let her go,” said Whelan. As he went out Mellows, who bad been blamed for the arms shortage, commented, “So now you see my problem; it’s by no means as easy as it looks.”
“Why don’t you run in the guns behind their backs?” asked Whelan. I would speculate that this must have been the period when Collins was forced to relinquish control, and Brugha and Mellows handled matters themselves. Collins seems to have reacted by refusing to have anything more to do with the larger plans. After much further preparation, Briscoe got the Frieda, and they waited at Helvick in September. For some reason Captain McGuinness, a Donegal man, overshot Helvick (to which Liam Mellows had been making repeated journeys, but not Cathal Brugha) and turned up Waterford Harbour. Not knowing what to do with his cargo he tied up at Helvick and went ashore. He met the parish priest who directed him to the one important Sinn Feiner he knew, Dr White, and it was he notified Waterford and got the men. The next load was some months later at Helvick. The Frieda was worked to Cork and sold to Captain Collins. The [name of other ship is unclear],after its cargo of cement was auctioned at Helvick and its arms mostly taken to Birr, was sailed to Dublin where it was loading fats for Germany when it was seized by the Free State during the period of the attack on the Four Courts. Liam Mellows, in Mountjoy, suggested that Pax Whelan as owner should bring an action against the Free State. It is just conceivable that there may have been an intention of bringing the next load in somewhere near Sligo, to strengthen defences along the border.
Of the extraordinary convention, all Whelan (also present) remembered was a resolution proposed by Tadhg Brosnan [surname unclear] demanding an immediate attack on Beggars Bush. This was to “put everybody on the spot”. He confirmed Barry’s impression of the indecision that gripped everybody. The picture was amended everywhere by Dorothy Macardle. No decision could be made, for none could be operated without unanimity. ”They should have arrested the plenipotentiaries,” I commented, “or they could scarcely recover.” “Exactly. It was no good attacking Beggars Bush now. It was all too late.” He thought Sean MacBride would be a useful man if he would talk.
I returned to Waterford City on the afternoon train and found Peter O’Connor at his new “Guest House”. They had the plumber there discussing how to get water after 9 pm., when seemingly it is cut off. I went up to see Francis. He has been ill, with stomach ulcers, being by now about 65 years old. He stated that he was billeted near Helvick in September 1919 and he knows that Brugha visited the place with Mellows, he thinks more than once. Mellows was often there. The talk of the second visit to America was common at the time – that is, after the time – but he has no direct evidence for it. He and his wife gave Dr White great praise.
He told me of John Doyle whom I called up to see, a native of Cheekpoint. He recalls the landing, having recently returned from Liverpool at the time. The Frieda tied up at Cheekpoint and the rifles and ammunition were taken to Butlerstown Castle. He and one or two more took her out from Cheekpoint and sailed her to a place near Tramore. They were then picked up in a car and brought to Cheekpoint again. He understands the ship was then sailed to Cork. The point near Tramore is also near Annastown and called Boastrand or something like that. Those who took her to the point were Sean Whelan (now dying at Cheekpoint), Denis Murphy (now dead) and Captain McGuinness. They left at 11 pm. and arrived about 8 am. He urged me if possible to go down to Cheekpoint and see Whelan. There is also Pierce Kavanagh the car-driver to be seen.
I returned to Peter O’Connor’s. The television dominated the room, and I tried to manoeuvre so as to go back to the Bridge Hotel. But his hospitality was too pressing. I represented that I had come suddenly, and it was unfair to his wife – to no avail, and of course I could not tell him the real reason (partly that I don’t like television, and secondly that I am sure his wife resents political intrusions). Between the bursts of vulgarity and nonsense, in the course of one melodrama in which his young daughter aged eight burst into hysterical tears at some desperate improbability, he told me that he had grown very disheartened, that I had “not a very high standing among the Waterford boys”, namely O’Byrne and O’Shea, and I replied suitably, saying honestly that O’Shea was an intriguing rat, but being a total scoundrel will never be caught at anything [Waterfordman Fred O’Shea was a political critic of Greaves’s in British communist circles and had encouraged leftwing opponents of the nationalist policy line in the Connolly Association]. Gabriel Lalor he has not seen for years, and understands he has had some nervous breakdowns that have left him ill. I tried to represent that the movement is taking up, which it is, and that progress is being made, and perhaps cheered him a little. But his wife has been dutifully making money.
February 14 Sunday (Waterford): We got up late. Indeed I was up first doing my notes. There are now employees who light the fire [ie. in Peter O’Connor’s guest-house on the Mall]. Peter ran me up to Kavanagh’s place, and on the way I noted how prosperous Waterford now looks. The new industries must pay cross-channel rates for young people in order to retain them. These are those strange social havens where “teenagers” waste £4 a week on “popular” records, earning £15 a week against their fathers’ £10. Indeed many of the youngsters earn £20. The result is that Ireland can only retain luxury industries, and the old industries are bought up and closed down. Peter told me that in the highly Republican area of Kilmacow there are a few small farms and there have been rent campaigns. Alphonsus Ryan has been in to see him[a local IRA man], so they are prepared to cooperate here also.
Kavanagh is a comparatively young man – only 63 and looking less. He gave me valuable dates for Mellows’s visits to Waterford and Helvick, and showed me a leather coat that Mellows sent down to him a week or two after returning to Dublin, commenting on his great national activity in 1915-21 (he was in the Waterford Fianna at 13). He said, “And it was all a waste of time. That’s how I regard it now!” Peter O’Connor made a comment on “jobs”. “Yes – there they are, doing very well.”
After that I returned to Kilkenny after lunch at Breens and looked in at the Imperial. I intend to return to Waterford tomorrow and see if I can see Whelan. One important thing is that the O’Connors gave Dr White a very good name.
February 15 Monday (Kilkenny/Waterford/Enniscorthy): The “Imperial” Hotel though claiming to be “under the same management” as Breens of Waterford, is not so satisfactory though tolerable enough. After breakfast I called into Davis’s Estate Office and asked for Mr Haughton. The same girl who was there on Friday seemed very reluctant to speak to him. “He’s been away three days in Cork and one in Clonmel and he’s terribly busy. He’s trying to catch up on his work. This was not satisfactory to one who had been waiting three days at considerable expense. “Couldn’t you write to him?” she asked. It became clear to me that she was thoroughly frightened of him. So I tried the tactic of mentioning a bigger bow-wow. “Let me see,” I said, “Lord Annely is in London now, isn’t he? Well, I suppose when I get back to London I could have a word with him. Do you know, he’s been there thirty years! And yet, it does seem a long way round, doesn’t it?” She then asked me if I could come back in an hour. I replied that my train went in an hour. Would half an hour do? She then took down my enquiry in shorthand, and I went to the station to leave my bags from the hotel. When I got back she was all beams and smiles. Haughton must have been a really busy man. Obviously to her extreme surprise, he opened the vault at once, found the oldest Mill Street, Callan, rent books were 1874, and ascertained that there was no Mellows living there at the time. He even suggested I try the Valuation Office, as Hogan had done.
With this I left Kilkenny and went back to Waterford. I had lunch and called into the Waterford News.The Manager could not tell me if he had the files for 1921 and 1922 but thought the Library might have. I then took the bus to Enniscorthy. When the woman sitting immediately in front of me alighted I moved myself and my bags forward one seat. Two minutes later, a young woman behind again was violently sick and sprayed vomit where I had just been sitting. The bus scarcely got past a huge tractor with a bicycle sticking out sideways and then was held up behind an ass and cart bearing an enormous hedgehog of brushwood. There were several narrow escapes from wagons coming in the opposite direction. But we reached Enniscorthy and I booked in at the Railway Hotel.
After a cup of tea I walked out to Parnell Avenue and called on Seamus Doyle, a florid grey-curlyhaired man now very badly affected by arthritis. He had a room containing a splendid library of Irish books. But the neighbour who showed me his place knew it by the “beautiful rose bushes”. He showed me two postcards from Mellows, and the cover of Sean MacDermott’s address book. This was slipped to him after the G-man had made him step out of the ranks of the deportees in Richmond Barracks. He would like to give the Mellows cards to some relative. I mentioned Rita Brady but could not assure him she had any children. I suggested the National Museum. “What about Kilmainham?” he asked. Who was in charge of it? I mentioned Eamon Martin, and he asked me to get Martin to write to him when I saw him in Dublin. One thing was amusing that he told me. In America De Valera had a dictaphone into which he would speak anything useful that would occur to him in the middle of the night. Mellows got hold of it and sang, “Lift your heart up, Mother Erin” into it, for devilment. One of the cards refers to Mellows having met Sean Etchingham. Etchingham was not in the West, and Mellows’s card was sent “to take the hunt off him”.
It was Nagle who received the order for the Rising in Waterford, he said, which was brought by Eily O’Hanrahan. Following its receipt his colleagues asked him to go to Dublin and see Sean MacDermott, which he did on Good Friday. The plan was to join with Waterford and Kilkenny and hold the strategic Barrow Valley. Doyle considered the whole 1916 plan militarily hopeless. The more I see of it the more formidable it appears in conception. Only two things were wrong, I think, the premature timing and the omission of Ulster.
February 16 Tuesday (Wicklow/Dublin): I decided to take the train to Wicklow and see if I could find Mrs Vyze. I was successful in this – but what a “one-horse town” Wicklow is, without any place where you can get lunch! I found her, to the south of the town, living alone, her three sons in England and one in the Irish army in Cyprus, a tall woman in her early sixties, half-and-half grey and black. She confirmed Joe Vyze had been in the Helvick landing, and said he was arrested the day Sean Treacy was shot. She had lost the Cathal Brugha letters from Collins to Vyze, or had destroyed them when her husband died in 1959. Vyze was not a British naval man as Piaras Beaslai had said, but a ship’s engineer in the Alan line. He had received the “active service pension” which ceased the day he died, so that she had to sell up her home and move to the modest house in Wicklow where she lives alone. I remarked that all Governments were mean. ”No – England is very fair. I have my three sons there, but I wouldn’t wish to see them back. Yet it’s terrible they can’t live in their own country after their father …” Mrs Vyze said Joe Vyze was a great admirer of Collins.
It is astonishing how widespread in Ireland in the myth of the benevolent British Government, so free with its charity to all who serve it.
She told me that Joe Furlong was still alive. He is 77 and goes to bed every afternoon. I called to the house, and he was in bed. His wife said that Furlong, not Vyze, was Director of Purchases. However that may be I cycled as far as Rathnew, then decided to go right on to Dublin, as a bus was due in a minute. When I reached Cathal’s I learned that his sister Maire was coming tomorrow, and he guesses it may be the final break with Sheridan. There was a letter from Phyllis, saying that Harley Greaves [Desmond Greaves’s first cousin, a pharmacist by occupation] had been fined £30 for not supervising the sale of drugs. It was sent her by Mabel! [a maternal aunt]. Also Cormac Lloyd sent a card from Inch, and O’Keefe of Ennis a very useful statement. A letter from Sean Redmond said that Ennals seems to have decided he’ll not be successful with any watering-down of the terms of the Civil Liberties Conference, and so now seems to be accepting the position as it is. The Clann na hEireanns show all signs of moving over to the right and O’Sullivan is chief marshall of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. They are busy on the “buy Irish” campaign and claim to be in close touch with the organs of the “Leinster House Government” which they don’t recognise.
February 17 Wednesday (Dublin): I rang up Roy who had not sent his copy to Sean Redmond, and he promised to stimulate Tony Coughlan and Michael O’Riordan [ie. to submit copy for the paper]. Then I went to Wicklow and met Mr and Mrs Joe Furlong. Furlong’s memory had gone. “|t is the greatest affliction possible,” he said, tapping his head, “far worse than any bodily disease. I can remember things that happened when I was five years old, but the things that I want to remember I can’t. Without your memory you might as well be dead!” He looked at photographs of men he was in the Free State Army with. ”I can’t remember a single name.” Nevertheless, I did get some background from him. Two thing struck me, first that like Mrs Vyze these older Free Staters passionately regretted “the split”, second, that here was a man who was a turner by trade who became Major General in the Free State Army. When I got back to Finglas Maire was there.
February 18 Thursday (Dublin): The position of Cathal’s sister seems to have been more difficult than we had imagined. Apparently Sheridan sold up their house over her head, and installed himself, herself and three children at the flat of his lady love, who is interested in advances in a big way and has kept him without working since October. The two other children, twelve and sixteen, probably thoroughly anglicized, do not want the “home” broken up, whence she arrives alone with the baby. The baby, a nice little thing with curls and chubby cheeks, is emotionally upset and cries whenever Maire goes out of the room. So there is a fine pickle.
I went to the Valuation Office in the afternoon and found a Joseph Mellows in Bridge Street, Callan, in the sixties, and evidence of his survival till 1882 – two years before I called off my search at the Custom House. So I must go back. And there is no sign of an occupancy at Mill Street. Possibly he lived to a good old age, and the Mill St. tenancy came even later. At any rate the name “Joseph” seems to corroborate the Callan locality, and it may be possible soon to elucidate the whole history. I wrote for further information to Mrs Tom Clarke, Pearse Kavanagh, John Morgan and Sean Mitchell. The position now arrived at is that lines of research are happening to converge instead of diverge, so perhaps writing can soon begin.
February 19 Friday (Dublin): A bad set-back and a lost day – fortyfive years of death registers searched and not a sign of Joseph Mellows! Even more surprising – nor of his wife! And then, going up to Leinster Road after looking for death entries all day, and what should be staring me in the face on the door but a card on which was inscribed, “Maire Brennan RIP, died 18 February”. So I had to leave Seamus Brennan be.
February 20 Saturday (Dublin): I called in to Sean Nolan in the afternoon, when a telephone call came to the effect that Joe Deighan was in Dublin, and Hughie Moore [Northern Ireland Communist Party official.] would soon be here. I went off with Cathal, who came in while we were talking, and bought a chicken for tomorrow, after which we returned and met Deighan. He told us that following our proposals Denis Ogden had invited both Nolan and Hughie Moore to write for “Comment”[A British CP publication] but had told neither of them that he had invited the other. By accident they discovered it and Nolan wrote to enquire what was intended. The reply was that the editor thought it would be useful to present “both sides”[The proposed contributors belonged to the two Irish communist parties, one based in Dublin and the other in Belfast]. And of course to everybody here it appeared simply “divide and conquer.” So Hughie Moore is here to consult with Sean Nolan, and asked Joe Deighan to accompany him. But he came earlier through availing of a lift in his brother-in-law’s car. He has been pleased with his visit to Belfast and has seen Betty Sinclair, Sean Caughey and many others. The fact that he attended the Republican meeting where, to the surprise of those present, somebody produced and fired a petrol-soaked Union flag, was reported on the BBC. I detect a slight note of irritation with Sean Redmond, but there seemed no grounds for anything stronger than that. “We’ll see how he gets on with the paper,” says Joe. Of course if he makes a mess of it I daren’t leave London again, which would hinder me, but make things easier for Joe!
In the evening we learned more from Cathal’s sister, the eldest of his family. Apparently Sheridan mingles with left-wing university circles, every individual of which is involved with somebody else’s wife. Sheridan decided to go and look for work in Hull, after giving up his job. Since then he has been living with and on a wealthy divorcée in the city. Just before Christmas he rang her to say he was going to London with the female concerned to stay with Rev. Bill Sergeant, another leftist muddler. Maire was so upset that she took a bottle of barbiturate tablets with intent to kill herself, and very nearly succeeded. She was in hospital for a fortnight. But she does not wish to make use of her legal rights – this crux comes again and again. When the position is reached where somebody must be hurt, the one who says “it will not be me” is usually the less worthy of the two.
February 22 Monday (Dublin): I had a letter from Toni Curran saying things were not going too well over there. I think the O’Neill-Lemass talks have produced complacency. This morning I telephoned Eamon Martin and arranged to see him at 2 pm. at the Sweep. I then called up to Alfie White. He was just going out, but told me that his monograph on Mellows was written in five days for the Capuchin Annual during the war, but was banned by both the ecclesiastical and governmental authorities. He threw it in a drawer and forgot about it. He is a gay extroverted character and has the style of a comparatively young man.
I then called back to the Valuation Office who referred me to the Registry of Deeds and the Land Registry, after which I went to see Martin at the Sweep. He answered quite a number of questions. He declared categorically that Liam Mellows made no second visit to America. He was very angry with Briscoe and said he had transposed periods in order to bring himself into the picture sooner. He never knew Mellows in the USA, and had nothing to do with Martin but he met him on the ship. He was in Germany on a purely personal business visit and was contacted while there. He showed me typescript copies of photostats which show Briscoe writing defending a man Martin claims to have detected as a spy and describing himself as a loyal British citizen – in 1921. Briscoe, he said, “came in after the truce.” “I had the bill of lading of the Frieda for years,” said Martin, “but I lost it.” Now Pax Whelan last week said he had some papers relating to the Frieda and that Briscoe asked him for them, and that these would have dates.
I then saw Tony Woods again. He strongly advised me to see Jim Donovan in Rathgar who had been director of Chemicals. Woods said that when De Valera and Sean MacBride went to Paris, Martin got them passports through the Communist Party. De Valera went disguised as a priest. He himself was arrested just before the truce and would not know the facts of the Clooncunny affair.
After tea I rang Jim Donovan and went up to his house in the evening. This was a useful discussion. He was a member of the HQ staff and is the only surviving anti-Treaty member of it. He thought Vyze and Furlong of minor importance, and scouted the idea that the IRB ever organised arms running worth mentioning. He thinks Liam Mellows was appointed at the same time as himself in a general army reorganisation in November 1918.
He speaks with an English accent, overlaid with Dublin, and an educated one at that. I judge his wife is English. She is a “television addict”. He has lost several fingers in explosives and is very sick with arthritis. He reminds me of Dr Paddy Daly – slim and wiry, and with a sharp enough mind, able for a Latin tag or a quotation in French or German, contemptuous of “pensions history” and a sharp critic of De Valera whom he accuses of “causing the civil war”. He now regrets being on the anti-Treaty side and thinks that much time was lost in pursuing the struggle. He has high hopes of the O’Neill-Lemass talks but deplores the actions of the “extremists” in Ireland who hold back the process of reconciliation. He gave me pictures of Collins which were realistic in appearance and had good words for Hobson and Mulcahy. Most striking was his regard for Larkin and Connolly. “You’re suspect if you mention them here,” he said. “Everybody wants to play safe.” And he seemed actually to approvewhen in response to an an inquiry I told him that I had no religion. The house contained no obvious religious decorations. He is now writing memoirs, and tells me that Mulcahy is doing the same. He used to be in Bulmer Hobson’s house when Hobson lived in Dublin. Of the people at Clooncunny, he said Mrs Woods could be eliminated as providing the car and the rendezvous, possibly Mellows who might be relaxing after truce talks, and the Plunketts were merely O’Connor’s bodyguard. That meant the significant people were O’Connor, Rusell and McGuinness, with possibly Mellows. Now this meant all the anti-Treaty HQ staff except himself were there. He was then in hospital as a result of the explosion which cost him his fingers. Like Martin he said that the IRA was supplied with guns by the Org.Gesch – a German “restore the Kaiser” movement.
He referred to Desmond Ryan, and said, “He was considered a dangerous leftist here.” He particularly disliked Piaras Beaslai, who had said in his life of Collins that “a gentleman called O’Donovan” had been appointed to the HQ staff “during the truce”. This, said O’Donovan, was a lie, and some time afterwards he was able to challenge Beaslai in the presence of witnesses much to his embarrassment.
February 23 Tuesday (Dublin): Today was not so successful. Mother Leila of Ennis Convent sent me a description of the escape, and included the address where the Mellows family lived in Cork – an astonishing coincidence for she had it from one of the sisters in the convent who used to live next door. The map showed the road just below the main barracks in the centre of Cork City, and I would think she is correct. But from Waterford came the news that the “Waterford News” file is not in the public library. When after lunch I rang Mulcahy [ie. General Richard Mulcahy, one of the few people who refused an interview to Greaves when writing his biography of Liam Mellows]. I had a very snooty reception – indeed beginning before I announced who I was and what I wanted. His voice was highly anglicized and his manner resembled that of a Labour Peer, puffed up with self-importance and terrified that somebody will see through him. I then went to the Registry of Deeds in Henrietta Street, a heavy dark building surmounted by the Royal Coat of Arms, and checked registrations in Callan. There was no entry for Mellows, or the property concerned. I then rang up Mrs Una Nolan who confirmed that Mellows had asked Julia Morrissey to meet him at Seamus O’Connor’s, where she stayed, but said this was around the time of the pact. I imagine this would be when she returned his ring. Her brother-in-law’s children are in Africa, but she promised to write to them and tell them of my query.
I then called on Sean Nolan and met him with Michael O’Riordan. They are agreeable to provide a tutor for the school [presumably a British C.P. weekend school on the Irish question], but do not know yet who it will be. But it looks as if the date may clash with the Connolly Association annual conference. I wrote to Sean Redmond about this. I also wrote to Tony Coughlan.
In the evening, when I returned I found Cathal Goulding had come and we sat talking while Maire Sheridan and Helga MacLiam went to a cinema. He is very anxious that I should meet Tom Gill, but I think of leaving on Sunday.
February 24 Wednesday (Dublin): A better day again, though not powerful. In the morning I saw Seamus Kerr, solicitor son of Neil Kerr. He told me that he was only a boy during the troubles in Liverpool, for he is of Neil Kerr’s second family. He recalls the house being raided, and the fires in Liverpool workhouses. It was his mother-in-law who started the handkerchief for Dr MacCartan, not Mrs Doherty, he says, and Dr MacCartan later agreed that the statement in his book was incorrect. “But,” he said, “the book’s published and I can now do nothing about it.” His father was a passionate admirer of Collins. He himself, however, while he admires Collins also and regrets there is not an annual commemoration, hates politics and considers all the politicians “a load of chancers”. His father was from Armagh, and he recommended me to call on his half-brother Tom, who was born in Armagh before the migration to Liverpool. So later on I wrote to Tom Kerr saying I would call on Friday afternoon.
I then went to look up the Cork address in the Valuation Office but found no trace of the name in the place stated by Mother Leila. I then went to the Four Courts and searched the 1901 Census, again without result. I looked also at Callan, and at Wexford. There I found Denis Kavanagh of Cronecribbon [near Inch, Co Wexford] was son of Murtagh Kavanagh, a gardener, so this helped. But Liam Mellows was not in Wexford at the time. Easter Sunday was April 7th that year so it seems possible his school holidays could have begun on time for 31 March. But nevertheless there was nothing to be found. This search took all afternoon. I wrote then to Mother Leila, Denis Kavanagh, Jim Hunt, Eamon Dore and Mrs Tom Clarke.
February 25 Thursday (Dublin): A letter from Kilkenny County Council informed me that the records of burials in Kilbride Cemetery, Callan, only go back to 1910. I went back to the Public Record Office. Before doing so I spoke on the phone to the adjutant at Cathal Brugha Barracks who was of the opinion that the barracks was an address in itself. It was even mentioned in the index at the PRO, but we could not find it, so a morning was lost.
In the afternoon I went to see Frank Kelly in Rathgar, 77 years old and a Londoner from the diphthongized “o” which I observe they retain longer than anything else. Sean Nunan had it even mingled with Americanisms. Kelly is a very vigorous man, and to see him nimbly lifting heavy packages of photographs is an illustration of how fit an old man can be. He was one of the “London Brigade” who came across in 1916 – only a dozen of them, which included himself, Michael Collins, the three Nunans and a man called Good. He knew little about Mellows though he used to work in the Sinn Fein office. Seemingly he was in the civil service in London, and ran a poultry farm in Bray, until after 7 years he got his job back, I did not ask him whether in London or Dublin. His wife knew Mellows well. She was Miss Fitzsimons, popularly known as “Fitz”. He gave me a good photograph of Mellows which I took into Lafayettes to have copied. I got a spare copy for Cathal. He had a photograph of Collins in which he looked an absolute boy and said that though Collins had a streak of generosity, especially in matters of money, he “could not suffer fools gladly” and when he was as he felt unreasonably disagreed with, or felt somebody was wasting his time, could be curt beyond all tolerable rudeness. Kelly played football (rugby) for the London Irish in 1912. He took the anti-Treaty side. He told me that Rex Taylor came to see him when writing his life of Collins, and told him that Mulcahy and the Free State party had given him no help at all; but afterwards he saw from the references in the book that he had quoted them a great deal.
Roy Johnston is cock-a-hoop because his wife has produced a 9½ lb. daughter. Helga took the children to see her this afternoon and brought them back so excited that their naughtiness was not exhausted till 9.30 pm. after many dire threats and operations “auf popo”. To make matters worse, Beibhinn, who is usually the cheeriest of little souls, half walking half crawling over the room, picking things up and cooing all the time, decided to produce three new teeth and set up one howl after another all evening. Cathal went to the Anti-Apartheid meeting. He told when he came back of the annoyance Dr Browne had caused them by asking questions prematurely in the Dail and getting the inevitable rebuff. He has, it seems, “jumped the gun” before.
February 26 Friday (Dublin): A letter came from Fr Rock at Rochestown Friary to the effect that Fr Bonaventure was still alive and at the Franciscan Friary at Kilkenny. I went again to the Public Record Office and at last the Portobello barracks was found – in a package where it was not indicated. But there were no Mellowses there. This means a further search for the Mount Brown address.
When I reached Finglas a telegram came – from Cathal’s mother saying she was arriving tonight, no doubt worried about Maire. And of course Tony Coughlan was coming. There was great rearrangement of sleeping accommodation, but it was finally arranged. She is a very decent woman, crisp, shrewd and kindly. The men went into the front room and talked, and left the women to have their talk alone. Tony Coughlan and I arranged to go away for the weekend.
February 27 Saturday (Dundalk/Omeath): I met Tony at Amiens Street, attired in overcoat, a good sports coat and trousers, and carrying a haversack resembling a postman’s delivery bag! He proposed hiring a bicycle at Dundalk, whither we went by train. He found a cycle shop, induced the proprietor to hire him a bicycle at 5/- a day, paid £5 deposit and rode away. At Carrickaneena, or just before it, he noticed a tear in the front tire and the tube bulging through. We repaired it by tying cotton and twine. A few hundred yards on, we went down hill and didn’t he pull the front brake, throwing himself instantaneously to the ground, breaking his glasses and (as he thought) dislocating his finger. A farm house was there. We got him in, gave him tea, and sent the daughter of the house to phone for an ambulance. It came in twenty minutes and I followed on the bicycle to the County Hospital [in Dundalk], after arranging for the farmer’s son to bring the bicycle in when he met the Dublin bus at 3.45 pm. I found Tony after a while, at a window, waiting for a doctor to send the X-ray plates. At about 3.15 he was told nothing was broken and had difficulty in persuading them to bandage his left hand up. He decided to go on. So we left a message with the cycle dealer and walked as far as Rockmarshall where, expecting a ‘bus in half an hour, we went for a glass of stout. My timetable said the ‘bus was due at 6.35. But the publican insisted it never arrived till ten to seven on a Saturday. Meanwhile he pumped discreetly in hope of satisfying a countryman’s curiosity, and told us among other things that he was sure Omeath Youth Hostel was closed down. As for Casement he said, “| wonder if they know what they’re burying“[The Harold Wilson Government was permitting the exhumed body of the executed Sir Roger Casement to be brought to Ireland for a ceremonial state funeral the following Monday]. About 6.30 he put up shutters but we heard nothing go past, and sallied forth at 6.40, fortunately walking to a road junction. There we just succeeded in hailing a bus that came through Ravensdale, whose conductor assured us that the Newry bus must be ahead, as he had come a long way round. He was only going to Carlingford. But the timetable brought him to Carlingford simultaneouly with the direct line. We began to feel alarm when we realised that he was going to Whitestown and within a stonesthrow of Greenore. We feared the other bus would pass us on the main road while we were dallying at the coast. Actually, we had misread the timetable. The direct bus left Rockmarshall at 6.30. The 6.35 bus was marked “Except Saturdays”, and this one missed the Whitestown detour. But seemingly though not in the timetable the one we caught did run on a Saturday, and as well as losing time on the way to Rockmarshall, did the detour done by the other during the week. We reached Carlingford long after the Newry bus had gone on. And once again everybody told us the Hostel was closed [ie.the youth hostel at Omeath, an area with which Roger Casement had had connection].
We began to feel that there was a “jinx” on us! But suddenly our luck turned. The first car we hailed picked us up, and in it a man we judged to be an agricultural inspector told us that the young people were deserting the country, and not being driven off the land by displacement by machinery. He also thought the Hostel closed and said he would wait while we found out and if needed drive us on to one of the hotels. But we had only to come to the junction to see a blaze of light. We were informed that a working party was renovating it, and anybody who came along could stay.
By this time Tony could move neither hand to his face. I cooked the meal which by the aid of the fork he could just eat, and heated blankets at the fire so as to give him a very warm bed. After that we retired. Apart from ourselves there was one cyclist, about four of the working party, two with motor-scooters, and a family in a car who kept their lordships severely to themselves and contributed nothing to the running of the place.
February 28 Sunday (Dublin): Tony was markedly better and could eat his breakfast if not cook it. Also the day was superbly fine, with brilliant sunshine and views of distant Slieve Bearagh, that CEG [his father] and I climbed away back in 1930, nearer the walk along the canal we used to make from Warren Point to Newry. Tony did not know this district and was glad to be there notwithstanding the fortunes of war. We walked to the border, across the mountain to Clintygora stone circle, and so to a place I took to be Flurrybridge but did not seem to recall. We asked for food at the Inn. They referred us to the Roadhouse, and there we had a tolerable meal. We had asked one man if this really was Flurrybridge, and he said he thought it was, but the bridge was down there. Now we stopped an older man on a bicycle and he said this was Flurrybridge indeed. ”Then where’s the Post Office?” I asked. He pointed to a low building in the dip of the bridge and said it was disused now. I explained that Liam Mellows used to stay there with the McKinlays. “And a very good man he was too!” said the cyclist. He said all the McKinlays were away years ago. We photographed the building we thought he had indicated, but checking in a house we were told we had taken the wrong house. The real one was one of two joined together, one two-storeyed, the other one on the far side of the stream. This we then realized was in Co. Armagh. The old Dublin-Belfast road had cut twice across the border, while the present one cuts it only once. Hence the changed aspect of the place.
The two buildings were unoccupied but the house was full of builder’s materials as if it was to be rehabilitated. We went round the back, after Tony had seen a thousand mice scatter from a pile of grain four feet high, and had judged through the window that he saw a post office counter. We found a way in, saw a solid very postoffice-looking desk, shelves and other features of a “wee shop”, and finally a notice board saying “Postal and Telegraphic” in the Six-County black and white. We took it that Liam Mellows stayed at the house, which was where McKinlay the Postmaster lived. So we photographed this one as well.
On the way back towards Carrickaneena we overtook an old woman dressed in black. We asked her if that was the Post Office the McKinlays had. She said it was and confirmed that Mellows used to stay there. “I suppose you’re Catholics,” she said before giving any further information, ”though of course it doesn’t matter what ye are.” She then said that McKinlay had a forge, and we remembered seeing the place where it was. It seems to be a poultry house now. All went well until we reached Mount Pleasant station, as it was, when within minutes black clouds gathered in the North, first rain, then sleet, and finally snow poured down, covering the mountains and changing the aspect of the country entirely. Once in Dundalk Tony negotiated a further charge of £2 for the damage he did the bicycle, and we walked to the Dublin train. We agreed that he should come to Finglas and let Helga have a look at the injured hand. She did so, and expressed the view that though it was liable to be painful, it should recover without much difficulty.
While we were away Maire and her mother had been able to consult uninterruptedly with Helga and Cathal and it was possible to see how Maire was more relaxed, though the baby Finoula will not allow her out of her sight without saying ”Ma-ma-ma” until she comes back. She is however just beginning to get used to Helga also.
March 1st Monday (Dublin): Snow was thick on the ground when we got up. It seems only too apparent that the winters are becoming colder again. I had hoped that the winter of two years ago would be like the snap of a spring and we would return to the mild weather of our youth. But it looks perilously like the opposite. I went into town, being badly delayed, and started looking for St John’s Terrace, Mount Brown, in the 1901 Census. There was no sign of it in the package containing Mount Brown. The Public Record Office closed at 11.30 because of the Casement Funeral and I might have gone to Glasnevin [ie. Glasnevin Cemetery], but for the appalling weather. After standing over half-an-hour at O’Connell Bridge, seeing the cortege slowly pass, and hearing Chopin’s march, I felt like a block of ice. Indeed I was not warm again till evening. There was a blizzard of wet snow. Conditions could not have been worse. I got the impression that the by-standers were satisfied but not profoundly moved. But the weather would stifle any emotions however generous and justifiable. Back in the Public Record Office after lunch still I drew a blank. I have a feeling that the records are not very systematically filed. And though they are more obliging here than the British would be at Chancery Lane, still they are not like a Library.
I decided not to leave Dublin tomorrow as the weather grew steadily colder. At night it was freezing hard. Strangely though there were compensations. Mother Lelia (I can’t read the signature which is ambiguous) sent me an address in Dublin of people who had lived next to Mellows in Cork City. The nun who told her had joined the order in 1913 and had played with Jane Mellows who died in 1906, I think the reference is to a younger brother. His name is MacSweeney There also was a letter from Sean Redmond, saying Gerry Curran had resigned as chairman of the Irish Committee [an advisory committee of Irish members of the CPGB, linked to that orgnisation’s International Committee] and Sean could see little but try to do it himself. I wrote and urged him to do no such thing, and also wrote to Fr Bonaventure, and sent letters of thanks to other correspondents. I should add that this afternoon I met Tadgh Egan.
In Sean’s letter he says they sent material on the Six Counties to about 60 new MPs and that one of them, after thanking Sean for the material said “Give my regards to Desmond Greaves – and tell him it is high time he lobbied me.” It was Bill Hamling [elected MP for Woolwich West in the 1964 general election; had been a student and member of the Socialist Society at Liverpool University when Greaves was there in the early 1930s; see Vols. 1 and 2] , and Sean (not to be kept in ignorance) looked up his biography and found he was at Liverpool University. So he won the seat he was telling me about, and I had not noticed it. In the afternoon another letter came, from John Morgan of Leek, though an amanuensis. His Cork address was not the same as Mother Leila’s, but agreed with it in some important particulars. I am sure the two will refer to the one place.
March 2 Tuesday (Dublin): Today was drier but very cold. I called down to Paul MacSwiney, at Rathlin Avenue, Home Farm Road, to the address given me by Mother Lelia. He was a spry 72-year-old Corkman, very affable, who gave me another address in Ballyhooley Road, and told me that Liam Mellows attended the Military School at the main barracks in Cork, and that during the Boer War Mellows and Fred and he used to play in the garden, the Mellows boys taking the side of the British, MacSwiney of the Boers. On the other hand, hearing this, I was too fed-up to go searching through the haystack at the P.R.O. If you had confidence they had the right labels on their parcels it would be different. But MacSwiney said he used to visit the Mellowses near Mount Brown on the McCaffrey Estate. I later saw Sean Nolan.
In the evening Cathal and I called on Roy Johnston. We saw the new baby with slit eyes and jet black hair, and very long fingers; mostly asleep. While we were talking to Mairin, Roy came in and out. Once it was to confirm that the children had put on the heater in the bathroom. Later it was that Mairin had said Fergus could watch television another ten minutes when he had forbidden it: “As long as I’m the boss in the house, my word goes!” says Roy, and was thereafter reduced to pleading his case before Mairin in the presence of the five-year old. Of course since all the decisions are guided by one motive alone, that of economy, the children do not see them as reasonable and he cannot enforce them. So he reduces his own status. When we left he was asking Mairin if she required the electrical fire in her bedroom!
They had heard about Tony Coughlan from Michael O’Leary. All three had split their sides laughing, as they think anything that reduces Tony’s dignity amusing.
March 3 Wednesday (Dublin): I had intended to go south today, but there was a snowfall and a promise of more. A letter came from Jim Hunt of Co. Sligo which was very useful, illuminating certain points in the Woods papers.
March 4 Thursday (Dublin): There was much more snow in the night, and from all accounts roads are blocked, and the main railway to Wexford endangered by seas. So here was another day that was a dead loss, and all my plans have been thrown out of gear. To add to the confusion, all the children are ill, though Cathal’s elder ones are not bad, as the doctor himself pronounced. Little Finoula Sheridan however has tonsilitis and is giving us a wild time. A letter from Pax Whelan gave useful information.
March 5 Friday (Avoca): Today brought brilliant sunshine and a steady thaw. I took the bus to Rathnew and cycled to Rathdrum thinking possibly to go up Glenmalure. But I found the snow too deep. I therefore went to Avoca and stayed at the hostel, which has just re-opened. The brilliant sky, duck-egg blue, and the silver hairstripe of a moon made a grandiose contrast with the flaming sunset – still showing the signs of volcanic dust. My idea is to chew over a few ideas in my head, and possibly work round to Cork before returning to London.
March 6 Saturday (Avoca): I thought the snow would prevent my reaching Cronecribbon [near Gorey, Co. Wexford] and getting on to Cork – the public transport timetable seems specially designed to make travel as difficult as possible. There is never anything in the middle of the day. So I went up to Glenmalure, found the hostel closed, and returned to Avoca. The snow was thinning on the fields. Yesterday the furze stuck oddly through the snowdrifts, with its yellow blossoms; today most furze-patches are clear.
March 7 Sunday: Though again the sun was melting the snow, I decided to postpone the Southern and Eastern trip and cycled to Ticknock Bridge and North to Wicklow and Dun Laoghaire. There were celandines out in sheltered places, and it was as mild as an October day along the coast. I crossed to Holyhead.
March 8 Monday (Nant Dernol): I took the train to Crewe, Shrewsbury and Caersws, then cycled to Nant Dernol. I tried to buy a New Statesman in Shrewsbury. Not a single newsagent stacked it. So the onetime capital of Powys has sunk to a stronghold of English Toryism.
March 9 Tuesday (Nant Dernol): I cycled to Rhayader, which the old farmer here pronounces (correctly) as Rhaidr. His son told me that the hostel was once a farmhouse, which his father got when be bought the farm to add to his own. During the war a Mrs Maeler had it, and then or later a Russian lady. It was afterwards used by these or some others as a weekend residence. We saw the man from the farm at the top of the valley go slowly down smoking a cigarette. Seemingly he no longer sleeps in the farmhouse where he lives alone, but spends the night with two old ladies at Portdraw, the place of the dogs. The dogs, I am told, have given no trouble since I wrote to the police about them, and it is thought that a very severe warning was given. Mine was by no means the first complaint.
While I was throwing stones on to an ice-flow in the Wye to send it floating downstream, a woman passed and showed me the scene of the autumn floods. “There was to be a caravan site in that field,” she said, “but he would need to have boats. They would also be floating. Anyway I hope that will stop it. He has taken them away.” Everywhere these scoundrels want to buy their way into good agricultural land. And if it is liable to flooding – well, it will not do them either.
March 10 Wednesday (Nant Dernol): There must have been a hoodoo on my camera this trip. FIrst I lost a roll of 36 exposures containing all the Galway pictures relating to Mellows. Then another twenty-four in the camera, and I lost that. Up at Flurrybridge I noted that I had turned on beyond the twenty. Opening the wretched thing at Avoca I found the winding tug had gone and most of these must be lost – including Flurrybridge. The 36 I put in at Avoca were going splendidly, but now to cap all I seem to have lost the camera itself, which I imagine must have fallen out of the bag in some way during yesterday – possibly when I went off the road to clamber over three-foot snowdrifts. I told the people of a couple of farms to look out for it, but hardly expect to see it again. A nuisance – another camera of the same kind might not be so good. This one was excellent, light, usable and reliable, a Russian make.
There was a bitterly cold east wind all day and I rather feared more snow, but the wind dropped at nightfall. As for the last two nights, there is brilliant moonligt and a great display of winter stars, with Jupiter and Mars (in Leo) to set off the show.
March 11 Thursday (London): I cycled in to Caersws and just caught a train for Shrewsbury and London. In the office Peter Mulligan was mixing a pot of paste for sticking up posters for the dance (ie.the upcoming Connolly Association St Patrick’s Night dance held in the Porchester Hall, Paddington, an annual fund-raising event]. He said things were going well, but that Joe Deighan was full of gloom.
March 12 Friday: In the morning I saw Sean Redmond who was in good form and appears to have managed very well during my absence. The office was tidy and everything seemed under control. In the morning also we met Betty Sinclair at the air terminal, took her to lunch at “Chez Auguste” and finally set her on the road to Ilford where she is to stay with Joe Deighan. Sean Redmond showed a letter from Caughey who declined to call into our office because “Desmond Greaves, Sean Redmond and Joe Deighan are active members of the Communist Party.” She was so indignant at this letter that she took a copy of it. Of course, we explained, he might walk in any minute and say the letter was dictated by prudential considerations. What annoyed her particularly was that he gave as his objections the opinion of “our people at home, Clann na hEireann in England, and the Irish Hierarchy”. This was too much for the Presbyterian upbringing of Betty Sinclair. And of course it makes nonsense of their professions of non-sectarianism.
March 13 Saturday: The Civil Liberties Conference took place [conference on civil liberty issues in Northern Ireland organised by the National Council for Civil Liberties, to which the Connolly Association was affiliated]. Originally intended for the small Conway Hall it was moved to the large one because “Ulster Television” wanted to show it on Monday. The representratives from the Six Counties sat in a semi-circle with the lights blazing into their eyes, and they were called in such an order that NILP Brett gave out the “key-note” and deplored the proposal for a Royal Commission [to enquire into the working of the Government of Ireland Act, which the Connolly Association had been advocating], and Sheila Murnaghan [of the Northern Ireland Liberal Party] ended with a strong attack on it. When Brett had finished Betty Sinclair passed Sheila Murnaghan a note: “Taylor [John Taylor, later an MP, the Young Unonist representative] can go home. Brett has put the Unionist case already.” And it was indeed so. Brett struck me as a man in his early forties who had still not grown out of enjoying the sound of his own voice, and striving for effect with expression and gesture. Smug wordy falsity marked every line of his face, and what he said was in effect that the Six County regime was quite a dark shade of black, on the one hand, but on the other it had quite a distinct snowy white tinge to it. Caughey then made quite an excellent speech along the lines I had discussed with Cathal Goulding. This must have been collectively prepared. Then Betty read the Trades Council statement and added a few words of her own. Austin Currie said his piece with one eye on the television, the other on the Dungannon Observer [Currie was then a young member of the Northern Ireland Nationalist Party]. He now has a pipe, and looks wise as he sits, and is practising hard with the slightly bluff, forced affability which he thinks goes with his new position. He has a dark suit with no turn-ups to his trousers, so perhaps he still awaits his pay. I remember Hugh Delargy bumming meals on Elsie O’Dowling during his first six months in Parliament. Then we saw no more of him. Still, the content was good enough. Mrs McCluskey had good material, but her delivery was woeful. Moreover, all the fire had gone out of her, and she told Betty Sinclair afterwards that she is retiring disillusioned by the fact that members of her own committee have been prepared to accept £20 back-handers for getting people houses.
The Unionist had plenty to answer [ie.John Taylor]. He was a young man of about Currie’s age, not quite so caught up in his own mission as Currie, eager and more self-controlled. In essence his message was, “How we have been misrepresented and misunderstood! How could you say all those dreadful things.“ And he put on an excellent act, very amusing to watch, that since it contradicted what Currie said strengthened our case for an enquiry. Sheila Murnaghan came out against any enquiry, and it was clear that Percy Lubbock, Ennals and Shepherd, the NCCL “platform”, would secretly like to be rid of their commitment to it. And a weedy specimen called Sean Egan [probably a mistake for Bowes Egan who later was active in the People’s Democracy in Northern Ireland post-1969], who had no right to be present at all since his “organization” is non-existent in Belfast and he resides in London, did a good effort at reducing everything to confusion, but was not even able enough as a speaker to do that.
In the afternoon the cameras were away. Caughey introduced me to Tom Gill [ie.Tomas MacGiolla, President of Sinn Fein and close colleague of Cathal Goulding], and told Sean the state of his conscience regarding the letter he had sent. Sheila Murnaghan had deliberately referred to Betty SInclair as the “Communist delegate” and Taylor had jumped up at once to ask if she was a Communist or not. The indignation of the meeting at this old heresy had impressed Caughey who was not quite so sure of himself now, especially as Tom Gill was visibly impressed by Betty Sinclair’s contribution. Tom Durkin [Irish member of the CPGB who had previously been critical of Greaves’s and the Connolly Association’s policy on Northern Ireland] was there and spoke, after I had suggested some lines to him (It is worth noting in parentheses that Larry O’Dowd told us that Joe O’Connor [a colleague of Durkin’s] is going ahead with a social when O’Riordan comes over in May [Michael O’Riordan, Irish Workers Party leader]. But I did not ask Durkin about it. Durkin says he is going to Ireland this year “with one or two others” – the more the merrier). Mike Cooley made an excellent speech. And McCartney [Jim McCartney, Queen’s University law lecturer] gave an account of the electoral system which showed that his study of the facts had led to some progress in his opinions. He also corrected Brett’s final appeal to do nothing and let things be. He had not intended to speak again but Brett was too much for him. Dr McCluskey was much more forceful than his wife. He is a tall handsome man who must have cut a mighty dash in his student days – about forty years old, I would say.
Of our own people Sean Redmond and Peter Mulligan spoke (the latter out of turn!) and Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Argue, Desmond Logan were present. The Unionist Taylor utterly failed to impress this “anti-Ulster gathering” as he called it, but talked to everybody and succeeded, I suppose, in convincing some of those present that he wasn’t a bad fellow at all. But the parochial quality of the opposition is illustrated by a remark I overheard Dr McCluskey make to Austin Currie when the meeting was over: “That was grand,” he said, “and we can take it that Donnelly’s claims are finished now.” Donnelly is Currie’s rival for the position of MP within his own Nationalist party.
March 14 Sunday: I did some work on my notes, and a little on the paper in the afternoon. My proposed arrangement is to devote the morning to the book. I was out with Peter Mulligan in Camden Town in the evening.
March 15 Monday: Again a day without much incident. Betty Sinclair and Dorothy Deighan met Ennals and McCartney in Petticoat Lane – the first time the man had been there, and the first time Betty Sinclair was there for thirty years, and of course the only place in London to take a visitor to on a Sunday morning. Ennals was surprised at the absence of “fireworks” on Saturday. Both agreed to press for the enquiry. In the evening I saw Pat Bond, Pat Hensey, Michael Keane and others at the Dance Committee. This seems the best year so far.
When I reached London I found a summary of John Mellows’s army career which came from the Public Record Office. It gave the date of death, in Lancaster, and I went to Somerset House and found the entry in the index – it was one of the “possibilities” found in a previous general search. I had rejected it because of the place. The summary also gave the birthplace as Callan(mis-spelled Cullan) and the enlistment at Liverpool.
March 16 Tuesday: The death certificate of John Mellows came by post. There is certainly a voodoo on the records of that family The place of death is not mentioned – though the fact that it was sudden as to lead to an inquest was. So I am still only assembling brick by brick. We all went to Woddis’s [Jack Woddis, CP authority on national and colonial questions] lecture in the evening – Sean Redmond, Chris Sullivan, Robbie Rossiter, Charlie Cunningham and one or two more.
March 17 Wednesday: I worked on the paper during the day and went to the St Patrick’s Night dance in the evening. To our susprise it was the biggest ever, and 14 Members of Parliament turned up, led by Alice Cullen. Sean had already told me that Bill Hamling had been elected for Woolwich and had been asking after me, and now I met Norman Buchan [Labour MP for Renfrewshire West] at whose house I stayed in Glasgow some years ago, say 1954 or 1955) also an MP. He introduced me to Rose [Paul Rose, Labour MP for Manchester Blackley], a somewhat cagey young man from Manchester who tells me that that chancer Byrne, the Croydon councillor, is trying to start a new organisation composed of Labour Party members opposed to discrimination. I put “a bug in his ear” which I hope bites. Desmond Logan was there – now complaining of a pain in his hip but looking as well as he always does.
March 18 Thursday: Toni Curran came in and told me that the paper was not doing too well financially. We must do something to revive it. Circulation has fallen off badly. Of course this is largely because I cannot give it proper attention myself. The Standing Committee was held in the early evening, with Joe Deighan still in the dumps. I think at times his trouble is that while he sees successes he would like to be recognised as the sole author of them. Peter Mulligan says that whenever he is alone with Joe he hears nothing but complaints about Sean Redmond, and when with Sean complaints about Joe. I told Sean not to discuss Joe with other people. We don’t want difficulties to grow. Another aspect of Joe Deighan is however that he has not a deep grasp of politics, and now his traditional Republican prospect seems to have failed, he cannot adjust himself to the non-classical position. In the day I met Sid French [CPGB activist] accidentally. He is very worried about China and wants “to have a go at them”.
March 19 Friday: I worked on the book, preparing the enquiries I want to make in Ireland next week. The dance made £50 and the ballot £90, which is good.
March 20 Saturday: Apart from a little work on the Easter issue of the paper, I did some more on the notes. I had a wee drink with Sean Redmond and Charlie Cunningham in the evening.
March 21 Sunday: I had intended to go to Dublin last night, then tonight, but decided I didn’t want to sit seven hours in the Holyhead train, and postponed my journey till tomorrow.
March 22 Monday (Holyhead): I went into the office, cleared one or two things up and then went on the Emerald Isle Express to Holyhead.
March 23 Tuesday (Dublin): As usual I was too tired to do very much after that wretched Holyhead crossing. I went to some bookshops, looking for one or two things I want.
March 24 Wednesday: The weather remains wet. I went to the National Library and spent most of the day there working on the Irish Bulletin 1919-21 and finding Vyze’s obituary and one or two other things. Yesterday I had my eyes tested and ordered new spectacles which will be ready tomorrow. I think I will have some separate ones for reading and microflm work. Yet Dixon Hempenstall’s man, who stood to gain £8 of business by my taking a second pair, was very insistent that I should have the distant ones first and only buy the others if I really felt I must have them. What he does not appreciate of course, is the strain of using a microfilm reader that I will have so much of.
March 25 Thursday: I was in the Library early, and then went to see Seamus Brennan. I have noted the contents of the conversation elsewhere [in hs research notebooks.]. I then returned to the Library and found the United Services Magazine, something I found out about by seeing a reference to it in the Kilkenny paper of 100 years ago. Callan was not mentioned, and round 1850, the year I want, there was a break of ten years in the Library series. So I will have to try Colindale. I collected the new spectacles. They are enough better than the old to justify the change, but not enough to alarm me with fears of rapid deterioration. But there is a loss of accommodation, and I think I will get the reading pair as well, possibly when I return from Cardiff [for the Movement for Colonial Freedom Conference there].
March 26 Friday (Cork): I set out early, went to Amiens Street, Kingsbridge and so to Cork City. My first call was to 7 St Joseph’s Terrace where I found Mrs Twomey’s daughter, but she, being 85, was not yet up. She had confirmed to them however that Mellows lived at No.2. I arranged to call back after lunch and meanwhile went to Tom Barry, the auctioneer. He said he did not know who arranged the Cork visit in 1916 but sent me to Liam Russell the bookseller. He thought it was Captain Collins. He rang Sean Murphy who was ill in bed but answered through his wife that Captain Collins got nuns’ habits and went to Clare to bring Mellows to Cork. He stayed at Captain Collins’s house for the night. Then a man called Jeffers, a stevedore, got him to Liverpool on the City of Cork Steam Packet Co. So there is another totally different story. They had none of them heard of Byrne. I forgot to ask about Sisk. I then went back to Ballyhooley Road and Mrs Twomey could tell me nothing. But when I mentioned the two clergymen who were registered as owners of the property, Mrs Twomey said the place belonged to the African Missions. So they may have records. So there is one name, Jeffers, and one property owner! They sent me to Mrs Wright, whose brother named Barry lives just round the corner at the foot of a quarry. He remembered that the Mellowses were there and said (as indeed Mrs Twomey said) they were not there long – perhaps a year. Micheal MacSwiney, dead 12 years, Paul MacSwiney’s elder brother, used to talk about them, and told how they played Boers versus British in the quarry below, as well as the quarry above, the house. So with this little done I took the Innisfallen [to Fishguard, South Wales].
March 27 Saturday (Cardiff): I took the train to Cardiff – and a damned slow one at that. When I arrived Sean Redmond was at the station. He has been staying with the Cardiff Movement for Colonial Freedom man, who got him some publicity on the local papers. But tonight we must go to a hotel, booked for both of us by Eber. We went there to dump our luggage. The name is Glenmor, and the woman who booked us in is Irish. It seemed reasonable enough. Then we went to have lunch, look at Cathays [A colourful district of Cardiff], and go to the conference. Cardiff was always impressive. I would say that this time it impressed me more than ever. There is no one-way traffic and therefore, as yet at least, few of the shoddy ill-designed buildings that spring from the bowels of account books.
We saw Woddis, Kahn, Szur, Eber – Oh, plenty of people. Sean Redmond was on the “Standing Orders” Committee whose chairman, Silverman, could not attend, so most of it fell on Sean. There was no great news. Des Logan had shown up again, full of enthusiasm after the dance. The proposed Trade Union conference got zero support and will have to be called off. Apart from that nothing much happened.
March 28 Sunday (Cardiff): The Conference went on, still very dull indeed. In the afternoon Eber was again stalking the ghost of Ian Page, when the impious London Area tried to set up an Editorial Board to control his publication, “Colonial Freedom News”. The interesting thing is that he lost, despite his stooges accusing London of all kinds of dreadful villainies. But this was the only warmth manifested. It might be said that the conference no more than showed that the MCF can survive in a period of Labour Government.
March 29 Monday (Cardiff): We went first to see Bert Pierce, now District organiser here [i.e of the Communist Party.]. He had met us momentarily yesterday, and he now made us very welcome. Towards the end of our talk he said “Roose Williams is in the next room.”[whom Greaves knew in North Wales in his student days in the early 1930s; see Vols. 1 and 2]. I immediately went to see him and there was the same man, fiery, impetuous, intolerant, with no sense of humour at all though he laughs at things he says himself, so he must have some yardstick for serious and facetious – but a character! He is married and settled in Liverpool. “But,” he said, “I’m thinking of marrying again, a girl who is a nationalist.” In speech as quick as machine-gun fire he conveyed that he was for an alliance with the Welsh Nationalists whom Bert Pierce and others thought were Fascists. I did not remind him of the time he resigned from their national executive and walked out of the room to the accompaniment of loud cries of “traitor!” He is the most sectish person there is. He is angry about the proposed New Town for mid-Wales, which he rightly understands as an attempt to plant Birmingham between the Northern and Southern Welsh Gaeltachts and thus extinguish the Welsh language for ever. He tells me that Bangor College now has only 25% Welsh students, the Chancellor pursuing this policy under the advice of the “Duke of Edinburgh”. “I’ve nothing against Birmingham people,” he said. “They’re alright – in BIrmingham. They’re no good in Wales.” He was pleased we were going to see Plaid Cymru, and was critical of Enright, whose leftism had been the result of wrong information supplied from Cardiff. “And too many English people come to Wales to give us advice – Peter Kerrigan for example [Communist Party organiser]. It doesn’t occur to them that we know something about Wales.” This was of course his complaint when he was organiser in North Wales. I met him around 1938 and asked him how Coedpath was doing, and whether he got much assistance from Manchester. “Plenty of interference, but no help!” he answered. Today he gave me his address – a postcard written in Welsh. “Anyway you can’t read it,” he said, indicating that no secrets had been given away. I proceeded to translate it. “Not bad,” he said. “It must be thirty years since you and I were together in North Wales” Now it was Bert Pierce’s turn to pick up his ears. He could not understand what I had been doing in North Wales. “Oh-students!” said Roose with a wave of lordly dismissal. He said Coedpath still survives as an isolated unit. His mother died, over 90 years old, a couple of years ago. He teaches in the Liverpool School of Commerce, but still has a cottage in Bangor. He was in Cardiff doing a television programme in Welsh.
After the talk with him we went to the Welsh Nationalists’ Office. The principal official was out sick, though I had a few words on the phone with him. The women’s organiser received us very courteously, told us what they were doing and provided a number of pamphlets. They have all the inhibitions of Sinn Fein in Ireland, plus some peculiarly Welsh ones. There is a complacency absent in Sinn Fein, and certainly they lack the spontaneous gaiety with which so many Irish Republicans can attack their tasks. I bought a book from them and after seeing Sean off to Barry, and catching my own train to Fishguard, started to read it. It attempted a complete revaluation of the early stages of English history, denied the Saxon invasion, attributed the Germanisation of Eastern Britain to the Romans and blamed all the alleged false history on a supposed interpolation in Gildas which was sanctified by Bede. I chuckled when I thought of Page Arnot [Robin Page Arnot, British communist journalist and politician] who quoted Bede at me once (and I have no reason to doubt Bede was right) with the triumphant words, “Are you saying that the Venerable Bede was a liar?” This man certainly thought him an extremely unreliable historian, and in the process jettisoned Arthur, Taliesin and [name omitted in the manuscript journal]. His thesis was essentially that Wales was a Roman succession state, and my impression is that the Celtic regions are muffled by a desire to keep continuous the claim of Christianity. Everywhere the Saxons are tolerated, and the Picts and Scots are the enemies, I have the impression. We were in the National Museum this afternoon – and noted its extreme poverty in original Welsh archaeology. Everything important is a cast or replica of something in London or Dublin. And the word Celtic hardly ever appears. Instead there is “pre-Norman” or “early Christian”. This is the way the Welsh nation is emasculated. But it is clear to me that there is no parallel here with Ireland. It is a national question, not a colonial question, in its classical form. England’s first colony has much fresher hopes than England’s first subject nation. I am forming the opinion however that in a socialist Britain it would be permissible to have in Wales and Scotland a different class alliance holding the reins of power than in England, and that much more control of industry would have to be given to the minority nations than is at present envisaged, and that the “building of socialism” would have to wait till a phase of “national reconstruction” was completed.
March 30 Tuesday (Fishguard/Callan): Things went well today. Like yesterday the weather was fine and warm. I took the train to Waterford, picked up my camera which Cathal had sent there, and then cycled to Mullinavat, Hugginstown and Callan. I booked in at the Grand Central and after lunch rang Canon Doyle who invited me to come up at once. I found him at the Parochial House wearing his grand cloverleaf hat, and he took me into the sacristy, found table and chair, and produced registers from 1821 to 1853. I searched the books from 1832 onwards but could not find John or Henry Mellows. Then I found a note that Joseph Mellows was “received into the Catholic Church” on 7 August 1835. So the others must have been Protestants. Most interesting is the fact that his regiment was given, namely the 76th. So we may yet find his birthplace and the origin of the Mellowses. Another interesting thing is that there is no doubt that the original form of the name is Mellows. I then found the baptism of a younger son, Garret, and later a second marriage, whose sole issue was daughters. So here is the explanation of the secession of the Liam Mellows line from the father’s stock. Canon Doyle told me that there is nothing unusual in Catholic Churches in this part of the country having records which go right back in this way. Another interesting thing is that Joseph Mellows’s first wife’s name was Kelly, the second Bryan, which later became Brien.
I went down South Bridge St. to see if I could identify the site of the Library, and chose a newsagent’s to enquire in. “Are there any numbers on any of these houses?” “Well, this one’s eleven.” She said this as much as to add, “And eleven it’s going to stay.” “Is there any special way the numbers go?” I asked, meaning were they serial or alternate. “There’s no system at all”, she said, “and I had so many things lost in the post I decided I was going to have a number. I counted the number of houses from the end of the road, and it was eleven. So this is eleven. Now I’m getting correspondence. There are three Mrs O’Briens in the town and if anything went astray it was always a cheque.” “And a big one too, I am sure,” said I to be pleasant. So I went to Dunne’s bakery. He hadn’t a number, though on Mrs O’Brien’s reckoning it would probably be 8. I asked how long it was a bakery. Well his mother had it from her aunt. Was the name ever Fanning? No it was not. Did he ever hear the name Purcell? That was the aunt’s name. She was married to Philip Purcell. This means that possibly this is the old No.27/28 sublet by Joseph Mellows to Anastasia Purcell. His mother got it in 1905. Anastasia Purcell was tenant as far back as about 1870. But this is possible. And Dunne’s Library could be No. 27 quite well provided the numbering is serial and begins not as Mrs O’Brien’s does at the crossroads at the centre of the town, but at the bridge. On this arrangement 12 would be almost opposite, but nobody had heard of Fannings. The local schoolteacher and others who were in “digs” at the Grand Central (it is Central but not very “grand”) remembered me and asked how I got on with the Canon. Apparently he is regarded with some awe, even mixed with aversion, but I think he is simply an old man whose patience could conceivably occasionally wear thin. He went out, leaving me in the sacristy, and since I was finished before he returned, I left him a wee note and a pound note.
March 31 Wednesday (Callan/Dublin): I first went to Poulacapple. Just before I got there I was taking a picture of the few scattered survivors of the magnificent interlacing avenue of trees that I remember so well in 1939 [when he made a cycle tour of the south of Ireland with John Lancaster, see Vol.5]. A man of about 40 asked me why I did it. Sure there was nothing there now. He then told me how the County Council had felled the trees to widen the road and that he had a photograph of himself and his sister as youngsters which showed the whole avenue intact. Ireland is rapidly acquiring the look of the English countryside. There are dumps of rusty tins on the roadside here also now. Hedges have been cut low, fences erected of concrete posts (which boost sales for Portland Cement) and everything is done to speed the tourist on quickly as possible between the points where he will spend money. At Poulacapple I found the Gardiners’ house – a couple of miles into Tipperary. The woman of the house thought they were not the same family, though the Gardiner of Callan, her husband’s brother, should know. So this is an interesting possibility, that the two boys were Protestant still and linked with the army connections, but married Catholics later. That would be something of a coincidence. I left Poulacapple and cycled through Coolagh, Ballyhall, Kells, Bennetsbridge, Gowran and Muine Beag [Bagenalstown] where I took the train to Dublin and went out to Cathal’s. I remarked the series of mills sited at intervals along the banks of the King’s River. All, of course, are derelict now.
April 1 Thursday (Dublin): I found I had a cold coming on and did little. I ordered some spectacles for reading, as I have so much microfilm work to do, and called up to Alfred White, who assures me Mellows spelled his name without the second “e”, and that Piaras Beasley who asserts the contrary is “an old cod” – and “Cathal O’Shannon’s another old cod!” And that was as much as I felt like doing.
April 2 Friday: I had lunch with Roy, who is very flattered at the attention he is receiving in Republican circles. He says Tony Coughlan intends setting up a Civil Rights organization which will oppose the “Offences Against the State Act”. Of course they are forever beating on the outer barricades, and if the working class organisations were not completely petit-bourgeois in outlook, and the left proper so lacking in self-confidence, these democratic issues would never be limited to the Republican order of the day. I mentioned the new proposal to Cathal who said Cathal Goulding had said Roy favoured it, and they would watch if they did anything, to be able to call for a replacement if need be. In other words they intend to see it is confined to their requirements. From their point of view it is quite sensible and since there is no other point of view expressed at all – that is that.
At Finglas John Sheridan turned up dismissing his marital experiences as of no moment. Carrying a rolled umbrella and a guitar he could be troubadour or “man of means” as he wished. He is looking for a job in the Irish Times, the last resort of all floating kidneys. When he first arrived he looked a bit sheepish. But his conversation – that of the slow-speaking, pipe-smoking, armchair philosopher – shows he is completely insensitive to the issues his behaviour raised. He is talking of going to Galway. Helga gave him no encouragement, but he is unable to take a hint.
April 3 Saturday: I took the bus to Dundalk and cycled to Flurrybridge to take pictures of the Post Office to replace those that were lost. Returning to Dundalk I took bus and train back to Dublin. The weather that had been brilliantly fine all day, turned dull and cool in the late afternoon. Consequently I did not go to Dunleer as I had intended.
On my return I found my bold Sheridan had left for Galway, taking with him Helga’s warning not to be seen by Mrs Wilson. “I’m not going there if I’m going to be insulted,” he disclosed, and of course he said he felt “very guilty” at doing nothing for the Democrat !
April 4 Sunday (Holyhead): Again the weather was mild and sunny. In the afternoon we took all the children to the Botanical Gardens. In the evening I left for Holyhead.
April 5 Monday (London): I went to the office on arrival in London, and almost at once Sean Redmond returned from lunch. He told me that Joe O’Connor’s social took place on Saturday. It was now called a “Railwayman’s Reunion”[Joe O’Connor was a member of the National Union of Railwaymen] and Frank Murray was there. Tom Ahern was there. My bold Joseph was there and the “Irish Communist Group”(Trotskies) there in force. The man who calls himself Sean Lynch told Frank Murray he was a Derry man, and Liam Lynch’s brother and that the Connolly Associaton were rascals, especially myelf. Liam Lynch had a brother John, who was in 1958 still living in Ballylanders. We feel tempted to stage something to expose this charlatan. But is it worth the effort? The most interesting thing is that the “ICG” bulletin [the Irish Communist Group, led by Brendan and Angela Cliffiord] advertised the social as a means of raising money for Micheal O’Riordan and Sean Redmond complained to Cox who in turn complained to Mahon [John Mahon, London District CPGB organiser]who knew nothing about it. What does however more and more clearly emerge in the Trotskyite inspiration behind the whole thing, and it is amazing that Ahern and Dave Bowman [leading figure in the National Union of Railwaymen] who were there, cannot smell it. It is a measure of their own sectishness.
April 6 Tuesday (London): I still had a bad cold. Sean had learned that the Trotskies at Joe O’Connor’s social had already taken up a collection for themselves!
April 7 Wednesday: Sean saw Kay Beauchamp last night and she was not the only one to be upset at the trick played last Saturday. But she cannot see the complicity of Joe O’Connor in the whole thing, saying the poor dear is “hot-headed” when everybody else knows that he “hears voices” and is bonkers, politically and in every way.
April 8 Thursday: We had the Standing Committee in the evening. Toni Curran was present and Joe Deighan who seems in better form. Apparently we made a profit last year, and for the first time in our history our assets exceed our liabilities.
April 9 Friday: Again I was busy on the paper – a heavy job this time, with a special extra issue to run for three weeks.
April 10 Saturday: We are still awaiting the result of the elections. Apparently I cannot finish the paper. A letter from Phyllis told me that the Belleek pottery I sent her had arrived safely, and she noted that Wesley Church, Birkenhead, had been demolished, presumably along with it the plaque to the memory of CEG [his father]. Such is the destruction of human monuments in the days of “redevelopment”. However, nobody who would be seriously hurt by the disappearance is still alive. Mary Greaves was the last. Strangely enough, it was Harley Greaves who was most pleased that it was there.
In the evening Sean Redmond and I went to Camden Town and found everywhere crowded with Scotchmen down for a football match.
April 11 Sunday: We held the Irish Democrat conference in the morning. Joe Deighan, Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Argue and quite a few others were there, including Bobby Heatley who seems to be getting over his doldrums to a slight extent. In the afternoon we had a walk in the Park, and in the evening I went to the Festival Hall to hear Ogden.
April 12 Monday: I took the Waverley to Nottingham, and as there was a long queue for taxis walked to the City square and found a Pakistan who drove me to Ripley. He was only four months a taxi driver, but now owned two cabs. He had worked for eight years on the buses and as well as the cabs now owned a farm in Pakistan for which he paid £4000. His son is at the local Grammar School. I was his first fare. He never goes early to the rank, or rushes to be first, “For nobody knows who God will favour, and the last in the row may have the £1 customer.”
Returning, who did I have opposite me in the dining car but a portly gentleman who owned an underground car park near Central Station Manchester. He was shortly to retire and thought he would write a book about himself. His father was buried in a pauper’s grave, and he rose from poverty to the position of a “semi-millionaire”. He had a third-class ticket, whch may account for it. He had been Mayor of Salford and had the OBE [Order of the British Empire]. He thought he would, among other things, expose the ways of bank managers. His name was T.Mellor.
I omitted to record yesterday that Joyce Tringham was at the Conference, with Declan Mulholland. She told me that Page, one of the students in Wimbledon [where Greaves had lodgings in the late 1930s when he worked as a research chemist at Epsom Salts; see Vol.4 Retrospect], is a director of the firm which is losing the TSR order. She expresses surprise that one who was such a dedicated communist in 1937-39 should have tied his career to military aviation. He was of course aeroplane mad, his mother ensuring that he was born with an aeroplane-shaped birthmark on his arse! This she put down to the air-raids taking place when she was carrying him in 1916 or thereabouts! He is married to Joyce’s sister – possibly the one who used to threaten the family with a carving knife! A mad family, named De Courcy, but with plenty of character
April 13 Tuesday: I did some preparatory work on the next issue, for which I have only three weeks. In the evening I made a sketch of the supposed floruit of Joseph Mellows based on a birth in 1812.
April 14 Wednesday: A number of mysteries were cleared up when I visited the Public Record Office. In the Rolls Room with Commander Godfrey in charge, a highly capable helpful character, much in contrast to some of the other officials of that department, I traced the pension record of Joseph Mellows, to find he died in 1865, though the valuation lists his name to 1882 – probably his wife survived him. Also he must have been born around 1797 and settled in Callan late in his army career. How the Callan people remember him is quite extraordinary. That is the strength of tradition in a small place before television commenced its work of cultural destruction.
April 15 Thursday: I went to Colindale and found the Mellows’s inquest recorded in one of the Lacaster papers. It added only the medical details to the story I know already but indicated that the wife was alive. Here are thus one or two other avenues of enquiry – Pierce Larkin, William Larkin, may have been soldiers. But the family seem all to have avoided being in England during censal years! I went to Hammersmith with Peter Mulligan after the Standing Committee [selling the monthly paper].
April 16 Friday: We started the Easter paper drive. I went to Hammersmith twice, once with Charlie Cunningham and in the evening with Michaeal Keane. The usual people were in the office during the day – Joe Deighan, Pat Hensey, Sean Redmond, Chris Sullivan and Gerry Curran.
April 17 Saturday: The usual people were in again, and as far as can be gathered all went very well yesterday.
April 18 Sunday: We had a meeting in Hyde Park, after Clann na hEireann had started their parade to Trafalgar Square.
April 19 Monday: I worked on the book most of the day, but Des Logan came in for a meal in the evening – still (in my opinion) a hypochondriac who never feels well unless he is ill. He told me that Eamon MacLoughlin now laments the fact that he is a “political has-been”, but has no prospect of being again.
April 20 Tuesday: I was in the office most of the day, and did a little on the first chapter in the evening. The weekend paper sales were a record, 2550.
April 21 Wednesday: At the Public Records Office I found the documents relating to Joseph Mellows and found that his birthplace was Bulwell, Northampton. This was the county I would have elected. I wrote to the Rector at Bulwell to ask if he had any parish records going as far back as this. Apparently the old man was of working class origin, or a small artisan, as he is described as “bleacher”. Nothing is said as to what he bleached, or what with!
April 22 Thursday: Word came from Brockway that he will speak for us in Trafalgar Square [ie. at the CA annual Wolfe Tone commemoratipn meeting in June], and letters came from McCartney and Mrs McCluskey, deploring Ennals’s statement in “Civil Liberty” that there is no discrimination in Government service in Northern Ireland.
April 23 Friday: I failed to find the parents of John Morgan at the Register Office, so I suppose I will have to pay another visit to Leek. Probably I should anyway, as talking over things may elicit more detail. In the evening the Civil Liberties conference began [Annual conference of the National Council for Civil Liberties]. A pawky Scotchman, Malcolm Purdie, was in the chair, next to him chubby Martin Ennals, Shepherd of the old Board, and an imposing array of lawyers and trade unionists. It is like no other conference, because of its heterogeneity, because it is minorities who require defence, so minorities were present in force. There was a tang of the nineteenth century about it, and it was taken for granted that if the British Constitution did not exist, at least its modest beginnings would grow into the full fruit of democracy. There was a spirited defence of the youngsters with long hair, who cut it to please themselves. A tense lad called Horsfield demanded the vote at 18. We had Sean Redmond, Pat Hensey and Robbie Rossiter there and our resolution proposed by Sean Redmond and seconded by St Pancras Trades Council was carried unanimously. Sonia Clements was there, and we had a long talk in the public house where a room had been booked. She declared on the one hand that the Trotskies were unworkable with and decribed how they had come in force to the Young Socialists meeting, forcibly taken possession of the chair, voted delegates to the rebel conference and sent a press statement on the Labour Party’s own telephone and sent off letters on its typewriter. On the other hand she believed they promised “the only true milk of revolution”. I dissented. Then was I a “revisionist”? “Revise what has to be revised,” I replied. “That is most strange coming from you!” she replied, and added that she came from American anarchist background. It is quite amusing that people believe it is possible to pass from past to future without the intermediacy of the present! She complained of dreadful CP activities in the Anti-Apartheid, all connected with Russia. I pointed out we had no “Russian problem” in the Connolly Association, where there was also a sensible “Left”. “Aha,” said she, “you are under a more insidious, the blackinternational” [ie. the Catholic Church]. Mrs Bain from Carlow interjected a few remarks, all rather self-consciously Irish, as if to explain the Irish to Sonia instead of letting her study for herself and sticking to actions, and an old couple annoyed everybody by referring to a discussion among the “Paddies”. “Alexander Marmaduke is my name,” said one of them. Afterwards Ennals invited Sean Redmond and some others to his flat, and I went home. McCartney was there.
There was also, of course, great speculation on who put a bomb in the Irish Embassy. We had to admit there was no clue whatsoever, nor was there any obvious motive. But the singling out of the Embassy as a point of protest is a background of such things, and it is to be hoped it will be stopped.
April 24 Sunday: I went to the office in the morning and then went to the Conference where Sean had got through his second resolution. “I see you’re enjoying yourself,” said Purdie, ”and no wonder. You’re getting all your own way”. The most spirited debate arose when the Secular Society went for the disestablishment of the Church of England. The Executive feared a head-on collision. Bryn Thomas made a speech of great brilliance. I could not however miss a slight expression of artfulness on his face – he was only a yard away since I was in the front row – and thanks to a manoeuvre, the EC got the resolution referred to them. They added those who were completely against it with those who wanted it revised.
Last night nothing had happened. When I entered the hall yesterday McCartney asked whether I would be prepared to advocate an interruption of the campaign for an enquiry [into the working of the Government of Ireland Act 1920] while we gave the Unionists an opportunity to put their house in order, the campaign to be resumed if they failed. I replied I would not. They were only talking about the electoral system. The current claptrap is that a “Royal Commission” is too slow. But to hand the initiative back to the Unionists would be slower still. Would we oppose the Unionists taking measures themselves, he asked. Of course not, I replied. We would regard it as a welcome sign of weakness. But on the whole he spoke well and has moved a long way from the time at Queens when he told me, “You want to put us under the Pope”.
In the evening we had a visit from Scotland Yard. They were looking for a man named John Read, who, they think, had something to do with the Embassy bomb outrage. We knew the name had been attached to our appeal to picket the Ulster Office, or the hotel where O’Neill or Brookeborough were staying. But both of us thought it was a bogus name at the time. They said that this individual had given the address of 374 Grays Inn Road. After they had gone it occurred to us that possibly the event took place before the Trotskies left the premises [they had had an office in the same building]. However, they had not told us when our address was used. They asked whether any of the Connolly Association would be concerned in the attack, and we told them we thought they should know us well enough by now to be assured of the contrary. “Well,” said the tall brain man as the muscle man stood by, “I remember you in Hyde Park up to fifteen years ago.”
We went to Camden Town. There Sean Redmond mentioned that Gabriel Lalor was dead, and only 57. A few days ago Kitty Klugman died and I wrote condolences to Maurice Cornforth. I remember cycling to Waterford with Malcolm Craig around 1948 and calling in to the Lalors at a hotel he then had. Later I met him at Peter O’Connor’s, but he had dropped out of things.
And at 11.30 when I returned home who rang me up but Tim Carroll. He said he had been in Coventry. He had differences in policy with Nolan (Nolan, of course, would never tell me; I have seen him often enough these last six months). He was now working in London. He wanted it to be known that he had made many mistakes and had come to the conclusion that some of his former associates were a gang of hoodlums (I presume he had the O’Neill crowd in mind). And he would like re-instatement into, I presume, the Connolly Associaton. I agreed to see him next week. Another person wanting to see me is Leo McCormack, about a “personal matter”.
April 25 Sunday: It had been agreed that we were to start the meeting at Hyde Park irrespective of Clann na hEireann. But when Pat Hensey and I got there we found Robbie Rossiter had agreed not to start till they moved off (which proved to be 4.30 pm.!) and Sean Redmond who had undertaken to be there at 3.25 was nowhere to be seen. Again and again important things are lost by petty defaults. Sean is always there when he promises, but sometimes on time, and sometimes not. There was a good attendance of Embassy officials and I was talking to Tadhg Feehan [official attached to the Irish Embassy in London]. He was upset at the Clann na hEireann desire to march to the Embassy to protest against persecution of Easter Lily sellers [in Dublin]. “The Connolly Association never did that,” he said. As for the bomb, he thought Clann na hEireann had put it there, otherwise why did they send a picket there next day. Certainly their speeches were extremely denunciatory, and about 97 walked down there, according to Charlie Cunningham’s enumeration. Flynn was there, Dalton, Brendan Clifford and his wife, Fitzy, and Tom Walshe. I think all these walked but cannot say for certain. Feehan said he thought Labour would soon have 40 seats in Dublin, and that Fine Gael had unshipped Dillon so as to present a more radical face. O’Sullivan on the Sinn Fein (Clann na hEireann) platform was denouncing capitalism in fine style. Everybody is at it but none of the capitalists seem a penny the worse, because the denouncers will not combine with the real enemies of the capitalists. I told Fitzmaurice that they make a mistake in picketing those who appear before the world as representatives of the Irish people. “I hope it won’t be necessary again,” he said. As we left the Park we heard that demonstrators had come to blows with the police and four had been arrested. So we are wondering who they are. We told the meeting that we thought this type of protest a mistake.
April 26 Monday: I completed a draft of Chapter 1 incorporating all the new discoveries, the work taking me from 8.30 am. till 3.55 pm. Then I went to the office. Sean Redmond had heard from Pat Bond that those arrested at the Embassy were Lawless, Dalton and a man named Curran. As far as can be gathered a Clann na hEireann man struck the first blow, but Lawless wasn’t long jumping on a policeman’s back. They are remanded to May 10th if they can find bail, and to May 3rd if they can not. Dalton has been allowed a counter-summons against an officer whom he says “beat Lawless to pulp in the station”, and Lawless is in hospital unfit to plead. The Executive Committee meeting took place in the evening. The Manchester members would of course not come, nor Charlie Cunningham, Michael Keane or Jim Argue. But the session was useful. There was very llttle sympathy with Lawless, though some fear that he might now represent himself as a great martyr. My own feelings were mixed. No doubt he gave provocation, but I have no doubt also that he was paid in good measure. It seems a pity, all of it.
May 1 Saturday: I have been busy on the book all week. Chapter 2, a condensation of Irish history that would take a volume in itself, is very tiresome. And it is not finished yet or near it. The NCCL are taking up Lawless’s case so his genius for getting publilcity is still exerting itself.
May 2 Sunday: We were all in Hyde Park where the demonstrations seemed smaller than usual. Our own meeting was very good.
May 3 Monday: More work on the book. Sean Redmond is in Oxford at the meetings being arranged by Lalor and the students.
May 4 Tuesday: I had a long talk with Kay Beauchamp after the IAC meeting [International Affairs Committee of the CPGB]. It is my opinion that Mahon is dragging his feet on the Irish school, a highly unsatisfactory state of affairs [A special weekend school on the Irish question which the CPGB had agreed to hold for their members, English ones as well as Irish]. She said she had not been told about the plans. I wrote to Woddis about it.
May 6 Thursday: After the Standing Committee where quite a good deal was done, I had a talk with Joe Deighan who recalled that years ago, when the rumpus was in full swing [presumably the conflict in CPGB circles in 1958 over Northern Ireland policy, which influenced some Irish members of the Connolly Association], Mahon banged the table at him and declared, “The Irish question is a religious question,” plus more talk about reactionary Catholic clericalism. So perhaps it is Carmody he objects to! [Paddy Carmody, Dublin Irish Workers Party representative, who was envisaged as a speaker at the proposed weekend school]. If they do not give any support, then we’ll have to rein it in for some time to come, as they were the ones complaining that something like this was not being done [presumably to educate CPGB members generally on the Irish question].
May 7 Friday: I went into the office for the earlier part of the morning, but left London in the afternoon for Heysham and Belfast.
May 8 Saturday (Belfast): I rang up Anna Bennett on arrival and called in to see Betty Sinclair. Who should come in but Art McMillen [Belfast Republican, brother of IRA leader Liam McMillen] – looking very much worn with the toil of overtime. He has not been sending paper cuttings for some time and says he has been very busy.
The conference [Conference on civil liberties issues in Northern Ireland under the auspices of the Belfast Trades Council, stimulated by Betty Sinclair and Billy McCullough, who were Trades Council officials] took place in the afternoon on the third floor of the jade monstrosity the ATGWU has built by the big clock. It is of course there for years, but no more attractive. There were about a hundred present, I would guess, and these included all political parties but Unionists and Nationalists. Hughie Moore, Jim Stewart and Sean Morrissey were there, Caughey, Mulholland and a young red-headed very Sinn-Fein-looking lad called Gorman for the Republicans. Duffy, the lame lad, represented the “National Party”, Cllr Allen the NILP – but Fitt and Hanna’s people were absent. Very more unions were there. It was interesting to hear the Catholic delegates of the ITGWU getting up and explaining discrimination to Protestants who were listening for the first time. There was unfortunately no declaration against discrimination from a Protestant as such – though there were several speeches that assumed that attitude – and the strongest speeches were from people who described themselves as atheists, some from one side, others from the other. The Republicans of course could not resist using the platform, and Sean Morrissey visibly squirmed, such is the duality of his position as an ex-Republican. I had a talk with Andy Barr and Hughie Moore afterwards, and all agree it was a historic event, the first time there has been a meeting of Protestant and Catholic workers under the auspices of the Labour Movement directed to democratising this State.
May 9 Sunday: I spoke to McGrath on the phone about the letters of Mellows Joe Deighan thought he had located. It seems they have been lost, but McGrath is the nephew of Father Peter Magennis and the letters were sent to him in the USA, after Mellows returned to Ireland. I spent a dreary day waiting for the only train to leave after the early morning, and went straight to Dublin and out to Cathal’s.
May 10 Monday: In the lunch-time I called to see Sean Nolan. He told me Carmody was coming – something we didn’t yet know. He said O’Neill (Andy) and Lawless are officials of a large North London ETU branch [Electrical Trades Union] and fight like cats. And he gave the show away about Joe O’Connor’s railwaymen’s social. Apparently his main collector now is Larry Fennell who wrote saying that the Trotskies had queered the pitch because they had announced in their paper that a collection was to be taken up for Michael O’Riordan. They had to call it off as “it couldn’t be represented as a genuine railwaymens’ social”. He told me also that O’Riordan had had two talks with Clifford before (of course) he had set his Trotskyist course. The Sunday Independent had banner headlines about Lawless, Clifford etc. Nolan said, “I think I know where they got that from.” “Where?” asked I, thinking I had a legitimate interest in the matter, since we were attacked by a side-swipe in the same article. “I’m not telling you,” he replied coolly. Then he endeavoured to explain that he was uncertain, and “didn’t want to be the starter of a rumour”. The afternoon Evening Herald was at it again and referred to heckling at the Connolly Association meeting on Sunday. So Nolan still sees himself as a grand-spider of intrigues, manipulating and managing across land and sea, and very acutely conscious that his own interests are his own. I dropped a note to Sean Redmond but said nothing about this. The willingess of Nolan to associate with our enemies is regrettable.
May 11 Tuesday: I was in the National Library a short time and had lunch with RoyJohnston. When I got back to Finglas Cathal told me that he and most of the Headquarters staff at “Unidare” had received “protective notice” that their services would be dispensed with as from next Saturday when the Electricity Strike is due to begin. He knew all about capitalists before, but was nonetheless very much put out by this indication of how little his labours were appreciated. He says the directors are not concerned about losing their key personnel. To get staff is the task of their underlings.
Two people called, one Seamus O’Toole and an American [Seamus O Tuathail, Irish language activist, independent Republican, later editor of the “United Irishman” and in later life a Senior Counsel at the Irish bar, counsel in the Crotty, McKenna and Coughlan constitutional actions.] Both speak Irish very fluently and I understand O’Toole is in the “Sceim na gCeardchumann” whose meeting I attended last year. He knows Tony Coughlan well, and indeed had learned from him of the accident in the Co. Louth. He had once, he said, gone swimming with Tony off the coast of Co.Cork and Tony (who is very unlucky) cut his foot badly on a submerged rock. He runs a stall in Parnell Street where he sells books in the Irish language. He would be described as a language ultra-enthusiast. Later Roy Johnston came and said that since Justin Keating had become director of Agricultural Broadcasting for Telefis Eireann he had not been to any political function, even the most innocuous. But Loretta works for the Anti-Apartheid. There was a letter from Justin to me today acknowledging the condolences I sent at the death of his mother [May Keating, well-known in Dublin leftwing circles at the time, widow of the painter Sean Keating, Justin Keating’s father].
May 12 Wednesday: I went to the General Registry and found the death entry of Joseph Mellows in Callan, so that one other thing may be learned – the address he died at. The Kilkenny Journal did not report his death, and indeed it was surprising that it contained no death notices at all. After looking for these, I read the Independent [ie. the Irish Independent] and found a reference to a meeting Mellows addressed in Tullamore.
In the evening Cathal called and I went to Abbey Street where the IWP [Irish Workers Party] were having a meeting. I spoke to Peter Lalor whom I asked about Gabriel who died recently. Pat Mooney was there, looking very old. Michael O’Riordan and Sean Nolan spoke. But they are uncouth characters, going off without saying a word to either Cathal or myself, full, I suppose, of their high mission. They spoke well, but there was no sense of closeness with the crowd. All comes from the same thing. They have not solved the problem of undertaking action. We had a talk with Tadhg Egan who says the Sinn Fein and others are holding an extra-ordinary conference to discuss going into the Dail and there will be a split. I heard about the conference, but Egan always tends to exaggerate the direness of events.
May 13 Thursday: I did some work in the National Library, but apparently they have lost the General Report of the 1881 Census, so I could not compare 1911 with anything!
May 14 Friday: ThIs also was an unproductive day. Tony Coughlan called in the evening and told me he hopes to come to the Connolly Association conference.
May 15 Saturday: Tony Coughlan stayed overnight, so this morning I went into town with him and we discussed the new prospects before our movement. I told him that recent developments had led me to hope that the Irish Labour Party might make progress in the right direction. It is the strongest it was since 1927, or even earlier, and developments in the North where the civil liberties movement is drawing its separated strands together will have their effect in the south. Up to the present the Labour Paty has been a force that could be written off, but it may not be so from now on.
In the evening I went to Hennessy’s public house with Tadhg Egan and met Denis Casey (once of West London Connolly Association) and Tony Ruane [the latter a Sinn Fein activist]. The Manager of the United Irishman [the Sinn Fein/IRA monthly paper] was there – a very Dublinish youngster of about 25-30 who I thought good enough for the present but a bit of a showman and with an artful face. He contrasted strongly with the Editor [Kerryman Tony Meade] who passed Tony Coughlan and me in the street this morning; he is of more open appearance. Ruane told me that he is not finding all plain sailing. A cartoon that he published last month aroused strong criticism, satirising the sacred cow of not entering Leinster House. According to Egan, to Tony Coughlan and to Roy, there is shortly to be an extraordinary convention to decide this point once again, and Cathal speculates that this is what keeps Cathal Goulding so busy that he has not a night free this week. It was not of course easy to talk in a crowded room – a private room above the bar where only Republicans can go – but I had a go at some recent nonsense, such as Caughey’s true reason for not meeting us before the NCCL conference, and Kenny’s “Communism is the enemy of Ireland” statement [Sean Kenny, Sinn Fein activist and Clann na hEIreann organiser in Britain]. And I rubbed it in that it was not much use talking of cooperation and rejecting every conceivable opportunity to have it on equal terms. He was very hot on the “turn to the left”, saying that “even Fianna Fail was doing that”, a rather strange argument of the “everybody’s doing it” type. Kenny, he said, was “not authorized to make his statement and had been given strict instructions “not to offend anybody”. As regards Caughey he recalled discussing the question of a meeting prior to 13th March but gave me no indication of the state of feeling. When the social and economic progemme was discussed Caughey had said he “felt there was something wrong” with it and suggested it should be sent to the Catholic Church for approval. Ruane indicated that he disagreed with this, since Roy Johnston had drafted most of it and if he were to discover where it was being submitted, as a Protestant he might object. But he showed evident satisfaction at the fact that after being studied for three solid weeks by an eminent North of Ireland Catholic philosopher it was pronounced unobjectionable in theology, and politically “revolutionary”. So Caughey was satisfied. There was much dissatisfaction with Caughey, he said, but who else had they in the North? When they went up for the election campaign they found a political desert. So they had to give Caughey “a free hand”.
By the time we had got this far the room was filling up. Sweeney, a much-travelled building worker, was interrupting. But Ruane indicated to me the distaste in which Lawless is held over here, and hinted that but for the onset of these effeminate times, a short way would be found to deal with him. He is a man of about 60 I would say, and the manager of the United Irishman would have nothing but that he [ie. Ruane] should sing the Red Flag, which he admitted to having first heard in 1922 in Union Square, Chicago. So he sang the two verses to great applause, the UI man accompanying him with a phrase here and there, but not really taking it seriously.
May 16 Sunday: Cathal, Helga, myself and the three children went first to Arbour Hill and then to O’Connell Street to the Connolly Commemoration meeting [an annual event organised by the Dublin Trades Council]. It is interesting that everywhere Connolly becomes the symbol of 1916, and we will see next year if Pearse is put forward to recapture his lost ground. We met Roy Johnston and Pat Hensey over for a weekend. Roy remarked that there was nobody under 40 on the parade. And the speeches were trite and meaningless. Michael O’Leary [recently elected Labour TD for Dublin Central] was there and I had a few words with him. He was bemoaning the slum clearance which was liable to remove half the population from his constituency. He has been made spokesman on foreign affairs for the Labour Party in the Dail, and I observed to Tony Coughlan that many will be trying to make the balls he will fire, and perhaps we will have a look in.
Quite unexpectedly, late, Cathal Goulding called in, rather tired I imagine. I think Roy Johnston had been talking to him, possibly telling bim what I told Ruane. According to Goulding Ruane is a “good man but a bit of a bluffer”. He thinks most highly of Denis Foley, the young editor of the United Irishman, and Cathal [ie. Goulding’s cousin Cathal MacLiam] tells me that they also rate the brains of Timoney very high. Judging by the ability to express himself they may be right in this. I was asked not to hold Kenny’s statement unduly against him. It was supererogatory and he had been told so.
May 17 Monday: The death certificate I was waiting for had not come in the morning, though a letter from Sean Redmond arrived. I had intended to go to Co.Wexford, but was determined to get the certificate first. I went down to the Custom House and they typed it out there and then. But it was too late to go South, and perhaps this was as well as there was a wet evening that stripped every petal off Cathal’s crabs and flowering cherry as if a giant had plucked them. Little Conor had his fifth birthday, and was king for the day. An interesting coincidence is that tomorrow is the exact hundredth anniversary of the death of Mellows’s great-grandfather. The place of death is Bridge Street and this seems to dispose of Morgan’s story – as indeed it is rendered unlikely by the date.
Cathal went to meet Cathal Goulding and was driven back by a young man 27 years old whose name I gathered was Tony Meade, one of the former Crumlin Road prisoners. Cathal went to bed and left me to entertain him – having brought up the wine with which to do it. He expressed great pleasure in meeting me and plunged into the problems facing Republicanism. He had spent 14 of the past 24 hours at meetings. He told me he had been very opposed to the Connolly Association and Communism until our campaign to release the prisoners, and meeting Jim O’Donnell who had a great regard for us [The Connolly Association had campaigned for O’Donnell’s release from prison and had urged people to send him postcards]. He well recalled the hundreds of postcards sent him which were well passed round. Like himself O’Donnell is working for Gael Linn. He said by the way that he had answered hundreds of calls regarding Dalton, who was reported as working for Gael Linn. He had been one of thousands of collectors. He asked me straight what was my opinion of the best tactics in Ireland, and I advised first ending the Unionist majority and getting a coalition Government in the North, and then testing out Article 75 [of the 1920 Government of Ireland Act, which asserted the supreme authority of the Westminster Parliament over the Six Counties of Northern Ireland], after which the constitutional crisis would be solved between the parties involved. “So you see no value in a military organisation down here.” He then said that even going into Leinster House, let alone disbanding the IRA (which I had not suggested), would strain the old faithfuls who are the “backbone of the movement” beyond cracking point. So becoming primarily political would presumably mean a split – and we are back where we started. He asked if we did not try to spread the Connolly Association to Ireland, and I told him why we did not and suggested that it was a pity that they spread to England. “But how much money could you send the IRA? – Kenny sent us £350 in five weeks.” I replied that we wouldn’t want to; we had the same demands for funds from others and had often to resist them. Then he asked about getting people trained politically abroad, and I said I didn’t really think much of the idea. But it was clear to me that he describes himself as “totally confused” because he and his colleagues are prisoners of history, and the historic door has not yet opened to let them. And yet all the more intelligent ones (among whom he named Timoney) would like to escape did they know how. And whereas at one time their seeking was all on the right, now it is on the left. They see how little effect their periodical military actions have. Yet “Principles” (of which he spoke bitterly, almost cynically, repeatedly) hold them back. Perhaps if they could get into Leinster House without a split the work there might gradually absorb their interest – but, then, they fear that as well!
May 18 Tuesday: I intended to take the 2.30 bus to Wicklow, but it no longer carries bicycles, so I cycled to Avoca (where I stayed the night) via Wicklow and Brittas.
May 19 Wednesday: I cycled to Woodenbridge, Johnstown, Coolgreany and Inch, finding Denis Kavanagh at his cottage in Macoyle. Luckily he had decided to have a day off and only had to be wakened. I was very hospitably received and we discussed the old days. His father was John Kavanagh and the gardener at Hyde Park. Murtagh was his father again. Miss Mernagh died only a few months ago, and the schoolteacher she spoke of as a “great man of learning” was Bose, followed at the school by Callaghan, whom Brennan-Whitmore told me about.
He decided to show me the sites of the various houses. From his house which is the first on the left east of the cross-roads, we returned to the cross, turned left and saw first on the left the Whitmores, where Liam Mellows used mostly to stay, on one occasion bringing Tony Woods and Rory O’Connor; then on the right just beyond is the back-lodge of Hyde Park which the old land-steward had. Hyde Park itself, when the last of the three old Beaumont ladies died, passed into the hands of a major Hoare (I think) and it was then sold to Macarten who cut the timber and sold it again – after some further transactions Lady Kelly got it and is now sorry she sold it. It is now owned by Germans, and he pointed to the two bright blue sixty-foot silage cylinders. “The two gas-chambers!” he remarked. “They’re for silage, but they’d do for anything.” “They must have plenty of money,” said I, viewing the huge cattle-shed of modern design. “And why wouldn’t they have? Didn’t they rob every jew?” He then explained that the local people could not fire a shot of a popgun on their holy ground. We walked to the first river and immediately we had crossed it, dropped over the hedge to the right, across a field, leaving a house over on the left, climbed behind an old building into another field and struck across the next townland to the other river. This we crossed on the trunk of a tree, holding a sapling which served as a handrail by one side. Then we were in Monalug and a few hundred yards away was the site of the first Jordan abode. There is a green patch, but not a stone remains. This house had also belonged to the Beaumonts, who then owned everything for miles round. They were indeed the descendants of the notorious Beaumonts of 1798, and Kavanagh had no doubt Liam Mellows would hear all about their record from his grandfather or indeed others. It was common knowledge.
We retraced our steps, crossed the tree trunk again, and went to the house, where we saw David Condon. He confirmed that the site we had visited was occupied by old Jordan for the first part of his married life and that for the second he lived at the back gate, presumably when it became vacant, or when the Beaumonts sold the first. Condon said Liam Mellows (and Ernest Blythe, or did we confuse this?) stayed at this house in 1915 after being ordered to leave Ireland. He knew nothing of his arrest at Courtown just afterwards.
“The country’s getting thinner and thinner,” said Condon.
“It’ll soon be a ranch.”
“They won’t stay a day after they’re twenty.”
“And look at that house up there empty – as fine a house as anybody would want.”
“And the one beyond it, used as a store!”
We returned by the road, crossed the southernmost river where we had dropped over the hedge and saw the first of these houses. Maura Laverty used to take it each year to do writing in [Irish author, journalist and broadcaster 1907-1966]. The second was the back gate. Then at Macoyle Crossroads we turned right and a few hundred yards down on the left saw the house I took the photograph of when one of the O’Hanlon boys directed Roy Johnston and myself there. It is now a cattle-shed. We went in and saw the two rooms with fireplaces scarcely showing above the heaped bedding of straw. It has been so used for about a year. Liam Mellows occasionally stayed there, but Barney [Mellows’s brother] stayed some years. This is presumably where the old woman moved after being evicted from the back gate at her husband’s death in 1904, and Maggie Jordan, the one daughter who did not marry, had it until the forties. Barney left it to return to Dublin to die of cancer of the throat. The fact that Barney stayed there in recent times explains why he is still well remembered in the district, while Liam is not.
I left them and cycled to Arklow, taking the train which broke down at Rathdrum. They got it going again, however, and I caught the Holyhead boat at Dun Laoire.
May 20 Thursday (London): I went to the office and found that Rothstein who was to take the second session of Sunday’s School, was indisposed (some suspected he had cold feet!) and Woddis asked me if I would do it as well as be chairman. I promised to consider it, and will tell them tomorrow that I will.
May 21 Friday: We learned that one of Lawless’s “Irish Communist Group”, Peter O’Toole, once a friend of Brian Wilkinson, wants to come to Sunday’s school, claiming to hold a party card. Sean Redmond telephoned Kay Beauchamp, who had sent a letter full of apologies. But no English people are coming to a school intended to educate them. She said Jack Nicholson had recruited him. Sean rang Nicholson and found this was true. He had not known anything of his antecedents, or seemingly had the sense to suspect him – for he has the set eyes of a maniac, and the drawn tense fanatical features. He will surely end in a mad-house.
May 22 Saturday: I spent most of the day on the paper, and some on the school – none on the book.
May 23 Sunday: The school was as much of a success as it could be. Carmody [Paddy Carmody, of the Irish Workers Party in Dublin] did quite well and seems to have been pleased. Those present were all of Connolly Associaton extraction. Joe O’Connor and Betty O’Shea were compelled to behave themselves, and hear the Irish Workers Party saying the same as ourselves. Now what was interesting was that those who were criticizing us for not “taking an interest in” the IWP, were strongly critical of it – O’Connor, Betty O’Shea and Pat Powell. In other words what they want is freedom to interfere with the IWP.
May 24 Monday: Bill O’Shaughnessy [British Labour Party member, then or previously a member of the Connolly Association] rings Sean Redmond up twice every day about the meeting he is arranging in the Grand Committee Room of the House of Commons next Tuesday week [with a view to establishing the Labour Party-based Campaign for Democracy in Ulster]. We are trying to persuade him to have Jim Argue [a Labour Party member of the Connolly Association] on the Committee. Kay Beauchamp came in and said Peter O’Toole was giving them murder pestering the life out of the local people as to whether “Desmond Greaves is an opportunist”. They have no judgement of people, and make the most astonishing mistakes, admitting palpable nuts or lunatics into their confidence. It has been so for years. And when these people show themselves up they sigh piteously and make the same mistake next time.
In the evening, while the General Purposes Committee was in progress, I went to Parliament Hill Fields CP branch. To my surprise I saw Andrew Rothstein in the chair, Barbara Ruhemann opposite and one of Nicholson’s election organisers as secretary. Three Irishmen sat on one settee. I found them very attentive. During the election campaign Nicholson’s agent told me of some Irish lads who heckled them at Kentish Town shouting, “You’re the same as the others.” He wanted me to undertake to speak there to help them out of their difficulties. I said I could think of no better way to convince them of the truth of their allegations. They must know something about the Irish question and then they would show themselves different. At the International Affairs Committee meeting in January I cited this and convinced the bourbons of Farringdon Road not a bit [where the Daily Worker had its offices]. At R. Palme Dutt’s suggestion I then proposed the approach we are now advocating – which is our policy in substance, but in a face-saving form. And now even in St Pancras light is dawning. They admit they must learn it themselves. So perhaps the Bourbons will learn as well, given time.
May 25 Tuesday: I spent the whole day and most of the evening working on the June issue of the paper.
May 26 Wednesday: O’Shaughnessy told Sean Redmond that the “Campaign for Democracy in Ulster” does not want Argue on its Committee. Byrne, the man who proposed the Queen of England should go to Dublin, is the man behind the throne. The reason given is that Argue gave no help when things went slowly, but now he wants to climb on the bandwagon. There was a very good Central London branch meeting in the evening, the second that has drawn over a dozen.
May 27 Thursday: O’Shaughnessy now disclosed that the reason why they don’t want Argue is that he is on the Executive of the Connolly Association. So truth is out. The Chairman is Brockway and Ogden, Rose and Aubrey with Delargy form the Committee. Delargy will no doubt keep an eye on it from the standpint of the Executive [ie. of the British Labour Party Executive]. He may be the man who doesn’t want Argue. However, the Irish Democrat is being sent two invitations, so we will attend, and Mrs McCluskey is flying over most of her Committee by chartered ‘plane! The United Ireland Association [descendant of the Anti-Partition League of the late 1940s] asked for a place on the Committee and were refused it. But no doubt Feehan [Tadhg Feehan, attached to the Irish Embassy, formerly of the Anti-Partition League] will be at the meeting.
May 28 Friday: I had a reply from McCabe of the United Ireland Association to the effect that while next Easter at Trafalgar Square (which they intend to book) [on the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising] their own banner will be the only political one, and they are inviting the non-political organisations to go with them. They are anxious to find ways of cooperation with the Connolly Association. This is a substantial advance.
May 29 Saturday: Today the Connolly Association Annual Conference began. Outside the Conway Hall, the two Cliffords, Lavery and Peter O’Toole were selling the rags of the so-called “Irish Communist Group”, all either bearded, denim-trousered, or otherwise bearing the brand of mass eccentricity. They issued an appeal to our members to join them, the sole condition being acceptance of the need for a “revolutionary party” in Ireland. I know of several who claim to be that. So they want one more. There was of course the usual attack on myself, and there seems some ulterior motive in this.
The day was successful, a good assembly gathering in the afternoon, with people from Tuairim [London branch of the discussion society in Ireland] and the Plaid Cymru [Welsh Nationalist Party]. At the evening social, also well-attended, the scum were outside, plus Lawless and Dalton inside. We did not allow any of them into the room. Peter O’Toole on being barred flashed a Communist Party card and we replied it was not a communist gathering, and he revealed a Connolly Association card. Michael Harmel [South African ANC and CP member and Anti-Apartheid activist] was telling me of the disruption they had to contend with from similar groups in South Africa. I guessed that there would be an attack on myself sometime, as one of our boys was followed in to the toilet and insulted. When I went there myself, Dalton tried to attack me, but either of drink or half-heartedness, his throw was easily evaded and I went upstairs none the worse. The aim was probably to provoke a disturbance rather than do any harm there and then. It would also go ill with him when he has an assault case already hanging over him. But he told Chris Sullivan later, “Our trouble is we haven’t killed anybody yet”, and Lawless told Gerry Curran, “Your crowd must be exterminated.” So the wish is clearly expressed, and the degree of degeneracy they have reached well exposed.
May 30 Sunday: Today we were not troubled with the scum. Again the conference was a workmanlike job. Argue did not attend either day and lost his position on the Executive, which was taken by Brian Farrington [French lecturer and author] – also in absentia – and Michael Cooley replaced Kath MacLaughlin. Eamon MacLaughlin was there and I tackled him to do a bit of work for us for a change. This he promised to do. And the same went for Des Logan! I had the impression that we have got together quite a group of youngish people who are able to do some thinking, and there was more from the floor of a constructive character than I ever remember. Mercifully of course we have got rid of some of the old fools.
May 31 Monday: I was able at long last to do a bit more on the book, but very little. A letter came from Cathal saying that Peadar O’Donnell is dangerously ill after an operation. I imagine things must be going badly with him.
June 1 Tuesday: We discovered to our annoyance that O’Shaughnessys’ meeting is not today but tomorrow, so that we had no need to have called off our lobby [ie. of the House of Commons]. I don’t know how Sean got it mixed up, but I think O’Shaughnessy told him wrong over the phone. We went to the International Affairs Committee in the evening and had a drink with Kay Beauchamp afterwards. She was very friendly and I think the strained relations that existed are mending. Bill Strachan was there. He is a clerk in a Magistrate’s Court because, says she, he looks like a European. But his West Indian colleagues failed to turn up tonight to discuss the West Indies out of a feeling of separatism. ”If only my skin were a shade or two blacker,” sighed Strachan.
June 2 Wednesday: I caught the 9.15 to Nottingham, took a taxi to Ripley, corrected the proofs and caught a taxi to Derby, then went from St Pancras to the House of Commons – a day of rush and tear. Jim Argue was outside, Sean Redmond in the main lobby and Mrs McCluskey, JJ Donnelly of Enniskillen, Dr McCluskey and Gregory. Brockway took the chair in Room 14 and pointed out the historic associations of the place to the hundred odd members of the general public who were there in addition to about 20 MPs. O’Shaughnessy opened up, a palpable scoundrel, anxious for a seat. Rose followed – anxious to keep a seat, so more broadminded. Then Mrs McCluskey spoke, this time very effectively. Her husband followed and then there were questions. Among the MPs were Norman Buchan I used to know in Glasgow, and Bernard Floud. I remember him when he was at Oxford, a famous Communist but always verry exquisitely attired with a beautifully rolled umbrella, very blonde. Now he is grey and dignified but not sparkling with personality. Nevertheless he asked pointed questions, one of which went to the root of the O’Shaughnessy-Byrne cabal. Was this to be confined to the Labour Party? Were not some Liberals and Conservatives anxious for democracy in “Ulster”? O’Shaughnessy wants it confined to Labour so that he gets the chance of a nomination and the Connolly Association is kept at arms length. This issue was momentarily superseded when McCabe got up and announcing his affiliation to the United Ireland Association asked if it was not admitted that Partition was the root cause. O’Shaughnessy looked daggers at him. JJ Donnelly, sitting next to me, wished he had left the subject alone. Then an Irish Young Socialist, with a Sinn Fein appearance, asked what the Labour Party ever did for Ireland, and a UIA man from St Pancras Labour Party asked was it not a vote-catching stunt. Denis Ogden [properly Eric Ogden MP] then rose and requested that O’Shaughnessy make it quite clear that the campaign was not confined to the Labour Party. He wavered and hedged. Then Paddy Byrne, probably the brains of the cabal, got up to make it clear for him, his head or his heart calling God to be his witness, that ANYBODY was welcome. Finally a committee was elected, but not before Sean Redmond had got in his matter. Before the proceedings closed Alice Cullen moved a vote of thanks to Fenner Brockway, who received a standing ovation. I was speaking to him afterwards when Sean Redmond told me McCabe wanted to speak to me. He repeated substantially what was in the letter and added that several times the United Ireland Association had tried to cooperate with Sinn Fein, especially at Pentonville [in relation to the removal of Roger Casement’s remains], but now they had cut them out of Trafalgar Square. There is much ill-feeling there. Then O’Shaughnessy told Sean Redmond privately what he would like to do with McCabe over the UIA – who raised questions which might be too advanced for a prospective nominee till he knew the constituency. Alice Cullen told Sean Redmond that she was exhausted by constant late sittings, and in several ways it became clear that the real indignation is not really against the Unionist Government but against the Unionist MPs. I walked down from the meeting with Ogden and we stood talking under the huge chandelier in St.Stephen’s Hall. He pulled me aside. “Get away from under this. It always makes me uneasy. If that bloody thing came down now, it would be our majority gone!” Mrs McCluskey and her husband both congratulated Sean on the work of the CA, so that we seem in most people’s good books even if they avoid direct cooperation. After the meeting Jim Argue told us he had worked overtime instead of coming to the conference and that this meant £16 to him for the two days. So that is the modern worker.
June 3 Thursday: We had a visit from Sean Kenny of Clann na hEireann, who says they have Richard Behal in Hyde Park on Sunday. We have a big meeting too. They have an office in Finsbury which will cost them £6 a week. In the autumn they bring over Father McDyer [Parish Priest of Glencolumbkille, Co. Donegal, where he established cooperatives]. One thing is to be hoped, that no further ructions are started on the Border, for that is the only thing that can save Unionism in the next few years. At the Central London meeting, as well as Columba O’Doherty of Loughrea, a very promising young fellow we think, were two young London Irish YCL-ers and Sweeney, who seem very good lads too. Joe Deighan was very gloomy.
June 4 Friday: I spent quite a part of the day on the book, but found it terribly slow going. I wonder if I’ll ever see it finished at all. The work goes so slowly and the time so quick. I went to Hammersmith with Sean Redmond. Des Logan came in.
June 5 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning. The boys went off to Wembley to hold up posters and see the game. Joe Deighan came in very woe-begone as he has caught one of those damned virus diseases that proliferate in London. He went straight home.
June 6 Sunday: Today Clann na hEireann brought Richard Behal over from Kilkenny. We decided, since no approach was made to us to give way for them, to put on an exceptionally good show ourselves, but suffered from lack of Joe Deighan [ie. at the weekly meeting at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park]. Still we had Pat Bond, Sean Redmond, Robbie Rossiter, Peter Mulligan and myself. We started before them and finished afterwards. But the United Irishman sellers were very friendly to us. There seem to be two distinct factions, and what is really going on, Heaven knows. In the evening Sean Redmond and I went to Holloway. The Irish are very cynical over Labour.
June 7 Monday: I wrote a little and then painted the wall of the corridor. Later Des Logan came in and we ate and drank. He promises to be more active (for a time) and to use his influence on Eamon MacLaughlin. Though MacLaughlin promised to go to West London it was Barbara [MacLaughlin’s wife] who went. Des Logan explains this by a theory that she is a wee bit sweet on nobody but himself, all of which is a conceit that pleases him very well.
June 8 Tuesday: A Mrs Kenna, wife of a friend of Tadhg Egan’s, came in to get help over the case of Kenna’s brother, an asthmatic who could not attend school and is illiterate. He says that when in a betting shop he saw a pension book on the floor, he picked it up and was accused of stealing it and £3 that was in it. The story was complicated, but at length he found himself on remand in custody at Brixton. The police seem to have behaved very shabbily. I had great trouble getting a solicitor. I tried Hostettler, Ennals, Birnberg and finally persuaded Seifert, who does not really specialize in that type of case.
I learned from Robby Rossiter that the whole of the scum were in Hyde Park yesterday. The big omadaun [Irish word for ignorant fool] Laverty was interrupting Rossiter shouting that he was a socialist. And Brendan Clifford had a big notebook in which he purported to write down everything Gerry Curran said. Their great contribution to the struggle against imperialism is to make themselves a nuisance to its opponents.
I spent the day getting off the equivalent of two pages of the Democrat to Ripley, as we decided to print an extra two pages and have them inserted, also to use them as a propaganda folder.
June 9 Wednesday: I spent most of the day on the book, but found I could not make much headway with Chapter II till I had revised the Introduction.
June 10 Thursday: Another day spent working, this time over the Introduction – with much note-taking and checking of references. I was at the Standing Committee in the evening. We learned it was a good meeting in the Park last night, as Eamon MacLaughlin came. I raised the point that Charlie Cunningham had failed in his examination as a result of his work with us and urged them to find new forces so that this will not happen again.
June 11 Friday: Again writing the revised Introduction (which was to have gone in Chapter II) and in the office helping to prepare the Trafalgar Square effort[Connolly Association demonstration around the time of the traditional commemoration of Wolfe Tone’s birth on 20 June 1763].
June 12 Saturday: It seems plain enough that the Democrat sales are badly falling off, and perhaps the reason is editorial, as I can’t give the detailed attention. But also the Labour Government has not enamoured itself to the mass of the Irish. Whatever the reason the problem is serious. But I must get the book done first, before I tackle it.
June 13 Sunday: I saw Sean Redmond, Jim Argue, Peter Mulligan and others in the office in the evening. Apart from that I was working all day. They said their meeting in the Park was excellent. So why the ever poorer sales? I found a curious thing, namely that Marx in his chapter on Ireland (page 729, Moore and Aveling) has his figures for Irish population wrong. He speaks of 1851-61, but gives figures for 1841-61, and a total is 100,000 out. The same error is in the German, which I checked.
June 14 Monday: I was working in the morning, sending out the invitations to the Yeats lecture in the afternoon, and painting the flat in the evening, so that I am now rather tired.
June 15 Tuesday: I spent another day on this damned Introduction, without any prospect of bringing it to an end.
June 16 Wednesday: There was a meeting of Central London in the evening, Sean Redmond having gone to speak to a meeting of several wards of the Hammersmith Labour Party. Charlie Cunningham rang up late and told me that he had met Jim Argue who said they were all highly impressed by him and thought him a “coming young man”.
June 17 Thursday: We still do not know finally about Sunday. Fitt [Gerry Fitt, Republican Labour MP in the Stormont Parliament to which he was elected in 1962] was to have telephoned from Newcastle. We rang Jack Bennett who said he would come but wanted £18 sent him for expenses. Joe Deighan went through the roof at this and recommended his protégé McClelland from Manchester, whom he may have thought a halfway house to our asking himself. But for the time being we have stuck to Bennett. There is some speculation over the reasons for Caughey’s resignation as Vice-President of Sinn Fein.
June 18 Friday: At midday Tony Coughlan arrived. He had been speaking to Jim O’Regan about Caughey. Apparently he had threatened to resign a few months ago. It seems that a circular was sent out to all branches asking their opinion on nine points, and these included such things as applying for permits to sell Easter lilies, recognizing courts and, finally, entering the Dail. They agreed with all but the last, and Caughey who had been pressing for it, broke on that issue.
June 19 Saturday: We had a call from Jack Bennett to say Fitt wants to come after all. So Sean Redmond told him to give him the £15 he had wired him on account. There was a bustle of activity in the office all day, and Sean certainly worked well. We were awaiting a reply from Cathal, before which he can’t arrange his holiday. So I wrote to Finglas asking him to hurry up and answer.
June 20 Sunday: Despite the most discouraging prognostications, the weather suddenly took up and yesterday and today were equally dry, sunny and warm. I rang Jack Bennett in the morning and he confirmed that Fitt had left. There was a good gathering at Hyde Park, a gay colourful march, but fewer by far of the young Irish lads who were there on previous years. Where are they indeed? Everybody notes the small attendances at churches and the thinning of the public houses. I suspect some are on provincial building sites, others back in Dublin where there is a boom. The gathering at the Square [Trafalgar Square] was slightly smaller than that of last year, but a slightly larger collection was contributed. Fitt arrived, breathing fire and brimstone against the NILP [Northern Ireland Labour Party, which was broadly unionist in outlook]. These indeed have tried to wreck O’Shaughnessy’s movement. Some legal spirits among the MPs wrote to Napier asking the NILP opinion on the “Democracy in Ulster” points. They explicitly rejected the enquiry into the Six County administration. Rose was furious at this “stab in the back”. “We’ll fight them,” said O’Shaughnessy. “We’re stronger than the NILP.” So siehst du aus! we said to him in our minds. So Sean Redmond had to explain all this to Fitt and to give him his due, not a word about them passed his lips. Then we have Brockway and Molloy to contend with [William Molloy, Labour MP for Ealing North]. Brockway announced that he had four more meetings to go on to, and would like to leave at five. Molloy was due on first but agreed to change places. I wanted to get the collection after Fitt. What does Brockway do but avail of the occasion to make a far-reaching policy statement going right outside the terms of reference of the meeting. He proposed a “Council for Ireland”, federation, and return to the Commonwealth. He lectured the audience on what was “possible” and dismissed their desires as of no importance by saying, “I know that this will be far enough from your minds.” As a result there were boos mixed with applause. I dissociated ourselves from the thing by saying that after Ireland was independent it would no doubt listen to any proposals from other countries. Brockway slipped as he got off the plinth, Eamon MacLauglin told me, and though he did not hurt himself, his mental state was clearly indicated by the mischance. He is puffed up with vanity and self-romanticization, a rather tragic figure in the sense that the great movement against imperialism flows through the one outlet Social Democracy will permit it, but the pipe is a leaky one!
I called Fitt, then had to face an angry Molloy. “You promised to call me next. I’ve five meetings, not four. I’ll have to go.” I managed to pacify him. He is an excitable Welshman with a majority of 27 in Ealing. He thought I was going to call him after Brockway, but I persuaded him that I had indeed asked him to change places. Perhaps he had in mind throwing himself up in contrast to Brockway. I read the letter from the Belfast Trades Council to tame Fitt, and after he was down heard Molloy with relief. He was very good and certainly had a touch with the Irish and pleased the Welsh Nationalists who were there. It was with relief I called calm, quiet, sensible Orbach [Maurice Orbach, MP for Stockport South] who sat impassive through the whole proceedings and delivered the clearest speech of the lot
We went to the One Tun, the only public house Willie Gallacher [Former Communist MP and sympathetic to the Irish question] went into in his life, the day we walked to Clerkenwell Green in 1958. There Sean Redmond offered Fitt the remaining £3, which he refused, adding that he had gambled the original £15 on horses so thought he’d best stand his own expenses now. There was a character present whom I took to be a Scotland Yard tout – very knowledgeable on the personnel of Irish affairs, and very flabby in his politics. Another interesting thing was that Fred O’Shea walked. And Tom Aherne was in the Square. Orbach praised the CA. “The great Connolly Association, so long derided, is now coming into its own.” And Lawless was there with his wee paper. We stopped their selling it. He tried to pick a fight with Peter Mulligan on the way down but Peter refused to be provoked. There was a very poor attendance from South London.
June 21 Monday: I made a little more progress with the Introduction. Having first taken about seventy pages to have a prospect of finishing in twenty five is not too bad. But the work of compression is tiring and tedious.
June 22 Tuesday: I had a new gas-cooker installed in the morning, and not before time. Then I went to the office and we both [himself and Connolly Association General Secretary Sean Redmond] waited for Brian Farrington. Finally I rang Manchester wno told me he had left at midday. The Yeats Centenary lecture [organised by the Connolly Association, which later published it in pamphlet form, titled “Malachi Stilt Jack”] took place in the evening. Farrington gave an excellent speech. WR Rogers was there but said nothing in particular. The hoodlums of the “Irish Communist Group” were there selling their rubbish. We refused to let them in. Dalton uttered more threats of volence, this time to Sean Redmond. Joyce Tringham was there, and Paddy Clancy, who made some good points drawing the distinction between Sligo and its patriarchal landlords and Mayo with its absentees. Joy Rudd was there, and Eamon MacLaughlin, Robbie Rossiter, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey and a sprinkling of strangers – about 70 in all. Gerry and Toni Curran were there too, with Pat and Stella Bond.
After the lecture we went to the “Crown” where Rogers told me about interviewing Ernest Blythe for Television and asking him if it was true he had ruined the Abbey, as some people said. After a while he lost his temper and said, “I’m like Kevin O’Higgins. I’ve a hide like a rhinoceros. I don’t care adamn!” But he was quite capable of stopping the engagement of people who offended him, for example Brinsley McNamara who found his invitations to America mysteriously dried up.
On the whole it was a worthwhile departure, with a number of young people present. Brian Farrington went to stay with Pat Bond. Paddy Clancy told Rogers and me about Yeats throwing coppers over the fence into his school playground to see the children scramble for them and (in the election when he went up for Fine Gael or its predecessor, around 1927 he thinks) thereafter holding a meeting in which he said “We must abolish taxation.” Also that he met him in Sligo and told the poet (being then more credulous than he is now) how as he cycled along a dark road he thought he saw a tiny man running in front of him. No matter how quickly he rode he could not catch up. “You should speak to those poor bewildered people,” said the poet,”they might be looking for your help.”
June 23 Wednesday: Last night O’Shaughnessy and O’Donohoe met Sean Redmond in the “Crown” and in a conversation punctuated with long pauses explained that it was clear that the Cabinet did not intend to move on the question of Northern Ireland, and what was to be done now. It hasn’t taken them long to find the same bolted door that we have been kicking at for years. But today O’Shaughnessy rang Sean to say that Chuter Ede had decided to align himself with their demand [Home Secretary under Clement Attlee in the 1945-51 Labour Government]. So the thing looks interesting. Presumably, like Shinwell [Minister for Fuel and Power in the same Labour Government, later Minister of Defence], he now has no real power.
June 24 Thursday: I spent the whole day on the paper until the Standing Committee at 6 pm. After it was over I did a little on the Introduction, still far from finished. The problem of relating economic statistics to historical consequences is not hard to solve but is time consuming.
June 25 Friday: I began at last to get near the conclusion of the Introduction. But in the afternoon Kay Beauchamp telephoned saying that Idris Cox was back in hospital, and not very likely to survive, though it was not hopeless. Would I take a place in the rearrangement of the school against imperialism at Hastings? Of course I could only say if all others fail, yes.
June 26 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning and saw the usual people, and in the afternoon did a little on the book.
June 27 Sunday: In Hyde Park who should appear but Lawless and Daltun on a large expensive platform, talking arrant nonsense. As Joe Deighan is away and Peter Mulligan and Robbie Rossiter were not available, Pat Hensey, Sean Redmond and I had to hold the fort. They have another attack on Sean and myself in their bulletin, about Brockway needless to say. And with their usual lack of taste or sensitivity they launch an attack on Piaras Beasley just when he has died. Now he wrote generously over the death of Liam Pedlar, so they have no excuse at all. Daltun’s case has been adjourned to July 20th. I cannot understand why the long remand. A friend of Peter Mulligan’s called to see us and described how he was arrested in a fracas in the Hammersmith Dance Hall, taken to the police station, charged with assaulting a policeman, forced to sign a statement pleading guilty and fined £30!
June 28 Monday: I rose early intending to go to Ripley, but on telephoning found that the paper was not ready, so wrote away at the book. In the evening I saw Chris Sullivan, Robbie Rossiter and Gerry Curran.
June 29 Tuesday: I went to Ripley. There were two editions to check and I had to wait till the last minute and take a taxi to Derby. The compositors, incidentally, say that the majority of journalists today can’t write their own names. Those who used to be journalists have “got better jobs” and nobody worries if the papers are illiterate. I am sure this is true. The failure to teach etymology in place of Latin is resulting in all manner of confusions between words.
Back at King’s Cross I found the meeting in progress, with a speaker from ZAPU [Zimbabwe African People’s Union.] who want independence for Southern Rhodesia. In this, as in everything else, Wilson has shown the humbug he is. I asked them why they did not demand union with the neighbouring territories that speak their language. Surely that would fix the South. But there was no satisfactory reply. Sean Redmond thought perhaps the more governments the more lawyers – this lad was a law student – but still, the choice is theirs.
June 30 Wednesday: I was in touch with Jack Cohen over the school about Imperialism at Hastings on Sunday where I am taking Cox’s place owing to his illness. He had been almost given up for lost, but now is showing signs of recovery. He had an operation last week and must have another before the end of the year. Sean Dowling, Elsie’s husband, is in St Peter’s Hospital. I had a letter from Charles Duff who is writing a book on Easter Week.
Apart from a couple of hours at No. 374, I spent the whole day writing at home, from 8 till 11.50 pm. and then drank a bottle of wine and went to bed. I have finished the Introduction and am back on Chapter II.
July 1 Thursday: I was busy on the book for most of the day, finished Chapter 2 and found to my relief the work I had done in Scotland on Chapter 3 was quite a good basis. That meant much time saved. We had arranged a meeting in West London at which one of O’Shaughnessy’s men intended to come. But he pulled out at the last moment.
July 2 Friday: This afternoon after calling in to Jack Cohen [CPGB official.] I went into St Peter’s Hospital in Henrietta Street to see Sean Dowling. He was sitting on top of the bed in a dressing gown, and told me the doctors “did not know what was wrong with him”. So that sounds like the worst. He gave me £2 for the paper. He was very gloomy and depressed, for he has been ill for a year. He talked about being at Mrs Despard’s [Charlotte Despard, 1844 –1939, English-born, later Irish-based Labour advocate, suffragist, novelist and Sinn Fein activist] and how Bob Stewart [1877-1971; founder member of the CPGB], Jimmy Shields, Pat Devine and others were there. He thought “those fellows in King Street” [British CP head office] had precipitated the Republican Congress and forced a vote on the Workers’ Republic [the 1934 Republican Congress had split on the issue of whether their political objective should be an Irish Republic or a Workers Republic] and added, “That’s why I hate them.” I have no doubt plenty of blunders were made, but almost certainly through amateurishness. He spoke equally ruefully of the people in Castlecomer. He is not a person I ever regarded very highly, and indeed only called to see him for the sake of Elsie. But I was sorry to see him in that physical and mental state, and doing so set me thinking on his side of the history.
In the evening I met Charlie Cunningham in Hammersmith and we did quite well [ie. on the “Irish Democrat” paper sales].
July 3 Saturday: As part of my progressive improvement of the flat, which I have been painting and re-arranging and partly re-equipping when tired of writing, I had the piano tuner in in the morning. He must have been in his sixties. Are there any young ones in the occupation at all? However, when I spoke of buying a new one – I can’t really bring the Grotrian from Phyllis’s – he told me that a man called Vincent in Camden Town has a piano factory and if I mention his name I can get one at the trade price. In the evening I went to Paddington with Des Logan but it rained, and as I had no macintosh I returned and left him to proceed. He thinks now, what he would not admit before, that Eamon MacLaughlin is “finished politically”.
July 4 Sunday: I got up ay 6 am. caught the 7.10 to Hastings and took a taxi out to Netherwood, a guesthouse kept by Joe Bennett and his wife which he keeps vacant for an occasional school. Keith Cavanagh was not there as he has broken his ankle of all things. But Sean Edwards, Frank Edwards’s son, was there and though he is only 20 and still a bit childish in an estudiantine way, I formed a better impression of him than I had been led to expect. Hostettler was there too [John Hostettler, solicitor and legal historian, whom the Connolly Association had engaged to cover the Mallon and Talbot trial in Belfast in 1958]. He says he is dreadfully busy and though he took my suggestion of a bottle of wine at night to combat insomnia, he still suffers from it. He was amazed at when in order to make up for having only four hours sleep last night I slept for two hours solid in a chair while everbody moved about, talked, played chess or banged doors. I have no doubt he has plenty of worries. He is too conscientious and puts no limit on himself. I have told him to be the judge himself of what he can do, but he learns it only slowly.
The school seems to have been a fair success. But the evening was not. In the afternoon Bennett rang Hastings station to find the time of the last train to London. It was at 10.4 was the reply. Hostettler ran me down at 9.15 and we went for a drink. Presenting myself at the platform at 10 I was told the train had gone. Appparently it was at 9.4 and another at ten. Hostettler had gone. I had thus to take a taxi back to Netherwood. Kay Beauchamp fixed up a room for me. R. Palme Dutt was there. I asked how he had enjoyed his holiday in the USSR. He replied he had really gone for a check-up of his health and had found it strenuous. It was most thorough and, he said with satisfaction, “I was shown the full report. They don’t usually show it. They say it can frighten people. But I told them I was not easily frightened.” He did not say he was well, and Kay Beauchamp thought he had gone very old. He is certainly moving about with much impaired agility. He told me the specialists said frankly nothing could be done about the distribution of the skeletal structure, but were amazed at how the organism had adapted itself to it.
July 5 Monday: More purgatory with the trains. This time, getting up at 6.30, I had a taxi take me in for the 7.12. This reached Cannon Street after innumerable delays at 9.10. Sean Redmond was to meet me at Waterloo at 9.35 but was calling to the office. But Cannon Street was a wilderness of boarding in which reverberated the sound of innumerable pneumatic drills. To telephone was impossible. I took a taxi home, and rang the office but it was obviously too late. I rang Waterloo – engaged. Finally at 9.45 I got through and the Stationmaster promised to page Sean Redmond and give him my message. I got there at 10.30 after breakfast and a wait and found he had heard the message just as he was going through the ticket barrier after giving me up.
We had the usual good journey to Portsmouth, a great contrast to the Southeastern line. The TGWU conference was at the Guildhall. We gave out 550 leaflets, then went to the Canoe Lake grounds where I collected some bayleaves from the tree AEG [his mother] and Mary Greaves [his paternal aunt] used to pluck them from. Then we met Malachy Gray [Belfast trade unionist] who ruefully spoke of the “misunderstanding” after last year’s conference when he attacked the Democrat and we replied. “It did me a lot of harm,” said he, “I lost three thousand votes.” And serve him right too. He wasn’t quite as touchy today when he saw people who could do that to him – not of course that there is any real proof that he didn’t lose the votes some other way, such as by being an insufferable conceited ass. We also met Sean Connolly whom Sean Redmond had met in Manchester.
Returning, the train was full of naval top brass, and they in turn were full of gin.
July 6 Tuesday: I spent most of the day in the office as Sean Redmond is off to Ireland for his annual holiday tomorrow. He has cleared everything up reasonably well, so that I am hoping not to have too much to contend with at the IAC in the evening. R.Palme Dutt was there, still walking badly but looking better. But apparently Idris Cox is worse.
Dymond of the Telegraph came in early in the day, saying that the Editor in Belfast had asked for a copy. Rose is asking a question on Thursday. We told him about the TGWU. He had been speaking with Ennals who said he had done nothing about the resolution!
July 7 Wednesday: I went into the office to answer the correspondence, Sean Redmond being away. And then returned and worked on Chapter 3.
July 8 Thursday: I finished Chapter 3 and would have started on the next but that Tom Leonard rang, saying he had just come from the London Trades Council [activist in the Railwaymen’s Union, the NUR, and a Labour Party member]. His motion on Ireland had been ruled out of order by a substantial majority. I had a drink with him at the Scotch establishment behind Holborn Tube. He is going to the TUC and Labour Party conferences and gave useful advice on meetings there. He is quite a “hard” character. He thinks Wilson a “rat”, buys the Daily Worker and says “Thank God for Russia and China.” Of Tom Aherne he says he is only concerned with major world issues but, “If I’ve got toothache and you’ve got cancer, I know what I’m worried about”, so he sticks to Ireland. He was plotting recovery only half an hour after his defeat. And he makes no bones about asking me to boost him in the paper. Apparently he comes from Bundoran, and that is why his speech is Connaught of the Sligo kind, rather than Ulster. He tells me he was spokeman for the men even at home, at the age of 17.
July 9 Friday: I got verry little done today, but arranged some work for the next chapter. In the evening I went to Camden Town with Des Logan, who is active again. He tells me that Joy Rudd who was thinking of joining us has rather gone off it. But there is plenty of good will there and that is important. Unfortunately it rained for an hour and that delayed us.
July 10 Saturday: Though rain threatened nothing much came of it. I was in Camden Town with the young lad from Loughrea, Charlie O’Donnell, a very intelligent youngster. That rat Daltun was in the “Nag’s Head” trying to make a nuisance of himself. I treated him as a provocateur and left him be. They act as if they would like to provoke a fracas, but they draw back after a certain point.
July 11 Sunday: Another damp blustery day, Pat Hensey told me that the Hammersmith Town Hall meeting which the “Campaign for Democracy in Ulster” was to hold has been called off. They were to have it tomorrow and O’Shaughnessy seriously thought he could get Soper [Rev.Donal Soper, radical Methodist minister, socialist and pacifist] there and take a picture of him denouncing the Unionists in London on the Twelfth of July. But last night they were touring the public houses, six strong, all Irish, handing out leaflets asking for money. O’Shaughnessy told Pat Hensey that he had received a phone call saying he would be “bumped off” on the Twelfth of July. He went to see Marcus Lipton about it [Labour MP for Brixton]. “Pooh!” says Lipton, “That happens every time I make a speech.” But of course it is all histrionics as O’Shaughnessy tries to make himself important. What they have done is to divert the energies of the 64 MPs by taking the pressure off them, and mighty pleased they will be. So the “campaign” now reduces itself to a handful of Irishmen in the Labour Party and it looks like coming to nothing.
Tom Redmond rang and said Aine’s baby is a boy.
July 12 Monday: Curious to find out about the Clann na hEireann, I telephoned Pat Devine [Speaker at the regular Sunday afternoon Communist Party meetings at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park]. He told me Dalton and Lawless were holding a meeting and Dalton went the length of making the suggestion that Cardinal d’Alton’s palace should be blown up. He was very annoyed that we were not there at the same time and alarmed that this rubbish was being peddled under the title “Irish Communist Group”. He said 75% of what Dalton said was true – I suspect that he appealed to Pat Devine’s touch of leftism – though his remedies were egregious. The Clann na hEireann thing was woeful. He doubted if twenty looked up and about fifty went to look when the pipes blew.
July 13 Tuesday: Confirmation of what Pat Devine said came from Pat Hensey. He said about 40 walked on Sunday. Our meeting was a success. Apparently the Welsh Nationalists walked with them, this time with a red dragon flag. I had a letter from Bill Parker whom I had written to about Kilkenny anthracite. He told me H.Godolphin Bennett has married again and a son and heir is announced [former chief executive of the chemical firm in which Greaves worked in the early 1940s and an exponent of the Gurdjaev-Ouspensky theosophical system. See Vol.7]. He must surely be nearly 70, but still keeps turning out Yogi books which the Times reviews half seriously. Parker [ie. his former industrial colleague Bill Parker] says he is a “fraud”, but I would use a softer word and say a humbug. It is a pity for he has plenty of brains. He told me Idris Jones retired two years ago but still sits on committees.
July 14 Wednesday: After the branch meeting in the evening (I was at Colindale in the day and found a reference which led me to doubt Liam Langley’s account of MacDermott at Trim) I was in the Pindar of Wakefield with Chris Sullivan, Peter Mulligan and Tom Walshe. He went to Trafalgar Square on Sunday and said it was woeful. At most 50 walked, and at the Square they were practically talking to the pigeons. They did not even take up a collection. Apparently Lawless and Dalton went on speaking while they gathered their crowd, but Clann na hEireann did not attempt a meeting themselves. I asked did this not cause resentment. Among the leaders perhaps, Walshe admitted, but the youngsters of 17 and 19 regard Lawless as a great hero. Walsh described him as “possibly a paid agent of Dublin Castle” and said Dalton will not get much of a sentence next Tuesday. The work he is doing suits some people too well.
July 15 Thursday: I was busy on the chapter on the Rising all day, but did not manage to finish it. There was a letter from Cathal, and one from Tony Coughlan saying he was coming on the 30th.
July 16 Friday: In the morning I went to Hounslow to get a new heating element for my refrigerator which has broken down. I fitted it on returning and was relieved to see the thing working again, but not I am afraid freezing hard. I imagine the refrigerator has corroded through disuse and not quite as much gas is going through. A letter from Sean Redmond had the weather in Dublin as bad as it it is here.
July 17 Saturday: I wrote more of Chapter 5 during the day and was with Des Logan in Hammersmith in the evening. He is staying in Eamon MacLaughlin’s flat while they are away. His brother Kevin is in London, but having joined the army at 17 is thoroughly denationalized.
July 18 Sunday: I said a few words in Hyde Park and saw young Sean Edwards in the crowd. In the evening I was in Camden Town with Joe Deighan, now back from his holiday in the Scilly Isles. We finished early as both of us were tired after the Park. Deighan’s gloom seems to have dispersed. He is all the time talking of moving to West London, which would have its good and its bad points.
July 19 Monday: I spent the day on the book, which probably I should not have done, as I will have to rush the paper. But there it is.
July 20 Tuesday: I worked on the paper all day. Around midday there was a furious rainstorm, which marooned Peter Mulligan in the office all his lunch hour, and must have flooded the Post Office for I saw Larry O’Dowd in his bare feet and trousers rolled up standing just within the doorway. Kenny rang saying that at a Clann na hEireann meeting in Manchester somebody on the platform had attacked the Connolly Association. I rang Tom Redmond later and he told me that the meeting was at the Chorlton Town Hall, about 70 were present from Liverpool and Huddersfield as well as from Manchester. The attraction was oddly Daly of Huddersfield and Kenny [Sean Kenny,organiser for Clann na hEireann] made no bones about raising funds to buy guns for the IRA. Possibly this is why Caughey resigned. Surely they are not going to start it all over again!
July 21 Wednesday: I went to Brighton in the morning and called out to see Ben Owens[a well-to-do early member of the Connolly Association]. He said he was not too well. His doctor had told him not to go to Africa this year as his health will not stand the heat. But he daren’t stay in England as his lungs will not stand the cold. “You see,” he says deprecatingly, “I’m old – I’ve got all the things that kill you.” He was very interested in our latest development. He recalled the early days when he had his café where the Cypriot café is now. He had a fun fair next door away from the station. He recalled being offered a big sum for his lease. Going to the Town Hall he discovered plans to knock down the “island” where we are and make it into a bus station [ie. the triangular-shaped traffic island by King’s Cross railway station where the Connolly Association then had its office at No. 374 Grays Inn Rd.]. He did not sell – “like a fool”. He made a dance hall above the fun fair. Cora Hughes’s brother [ie.Tom Hughes; Cora Hughes was fiancé of Republican Congress leader George Gilmore in the 1930s and Taoiseach Eamon De Valera’s god-daughter] put down the new floor and he paid him £75. He bought 60 or 70 chairs. The first meeting [of the Connolly Association] was to move the expulsion of the chairman, Sally, who had turned Trotsky. He got a band and had a weekly dance. Then the International Brigaders came back from Spain, full of frustrated leftism. McInerney [Michael McInerney, first editor of the then Connolly Clubs’ monthly paper, “Irish Freedom”. He later worked at the “Irish Times” and became its political correspondent following his return to Ireland] wanted to parade them at the dance. After a couple of weeks of this the dances fell through. There was nobody there and the band had to be paid. He and Chris O’Farrell paid it between them. Then came the IRA explosion at Kings Cross and finally the war. Such was the first year of the Association.
We went down to the Friends Meeting House to try to book a room for September 6th. We had high hopes of getting it when Ben mentioned the Labour Party. The warden – a typical Quaker woman – grew a little cool. So we may and may not. I will see. Ben has some other possibilities and will do what he can. Like Portsmouth Brighton is very quiet. The waitress in the appallingly inefficient restaurant where I had lunch said, “It’s the high rile fares.” More likely the motor car is destroying the old public watering places. The moves are afoot to rail off part of Brighton’s foreshore for private enterprise, complete of course with car-parks and everything to cater for “status seekers” as they call themselves. Pat Bond addressed the Central London Branch [ie. of the Connolly Association]
July 22 Thursday: I worked on the paper. Of course there were visitors all the time. Michael Brennan came in and said Peter O’Toole (the madman) who used to be at sea with him invited him to the “Irish Communist Group”. I know he wanted my consent to go, so I gave it, as if there is anything Michael enjoys it is a bit of intrigue! And he may learn something. I believe the Taylors are in it, for what use they ever were. I heard from Sean Redmond and Cathal. It is not yet certain when Cathal is coming. It will be either next Saturday week or a fortnight today. Sean Redmond says the weather in Ireland is shocking. So it is here. I went to West London and saw the usual people.
Eamon MacLaughlin was there and Barbara. Des Logan has a theory she is tiring of Eamon and is after him. If she is, she’ll get him. Tonight she volunteered for sales, but got landed with Pat Hensey. I don’t know if she’ll be there. We’ll see. Then she invited me to the flat. She commented to somebody that Des Logan sometimes came to see me. So all that fits in. Of course all bagatelle, but amusing. Joe Deighan is talking of moving to Marchmont Street.
July 23 Friday: I finished most of the paper and sent it off. Peter Mulligan was there at midday, and a card came from Sean who has gone from Cavan to Donegal. Tony Coughlan has been a great supplier of news during the paper strike [a lengthy industrial dispute in Dublin at the time]. There are remours that it will be over this weekend. In the evening I continued with the improvements I am making in the flat.
July 24 Saturday: Nothing of much importance today. I was out in Kilburn with Chris Sullivan in the evening – more rain.
July 25 Sunday: The meeting in Finsbury Park was washed out by another thunder-storm, and evening sales by a belt of rain.
July 26 Monday (Manchester): I went to Ripley to the printer’s, then on to Manchester. Michael Crowe came into the Indian Restaurant and afterwards we had a committee meeting [i.e. of the Manchester branch of the Connolly Association].
July 27 Tuesday: I went to Blackpool to try and book a room in the morning, then came back to Manchester for the branch meeting which was a good one, about 23 being present. In the afternoon I had a long friendly talk with Eddisford [Vic Eddisford, Manchester CPGB official].
July 28 Wednesday (London): I reached the office about 2.15 and found a note from Elsie O’Dowling saying that Sean [her husband, a former International Brigader] died yesterday and would I ring. I did but she was out. Later I went home and found another note there. I got her on the phone and she had wanted advice about the music, as the funeral is tomorrow. She has chosen the “Bold Fenian Men”. Quite a good choice. I saw Peter Mulligan, Chris Sullivan and Columba O’Doherty in the evening.
July 29 Thursday: I went to Elsie’s flat and they had a place for me in a car going to Golders Green [cemetery]. Alec Digges was there, and Tony Gilbert of the International Brigade. I asked about Sean O’Dowling’s service. Digges has become rather cynical, an extinct volcano if ever there was one. “Most people I talked about didn’t think much of it.” But the others said he drove an ambulance and that had to be done. Michael Brennan was there. The ceremony consisted of standing in pews while the organist played the “Bold Fenian Men” á la Mozart turned Church of England. Then we all walked out after Elsie. Jane Tate [English-born Connolly Association activist who had been personally attached to Dowling] sobbed a little in the car reflecting on the “emptiness” of the parting. It would have been better to have a religious service, but Sean was Presbyterian, his sister Catholic. Elsie had got the funeral through quite in accordance with his wishes before anybody could arrive from Kilkenny [presumably Dowling’s relations in Ireland].
July 30 Friday: Neither Pat Hensey nor Toni Curran could come to the Standing Committee, so I cancelled it. Joe Deighan and Dorothy are negotiating for a flat in Marchmont Street.
July 31 Saturday: In the morning Tony Coughlan arrived at the office, with plenty of life and vigour. He is to spend a month here helping us in the office. In the evening Des Logan came in, with Peter Mulligan and the rest. I was in the south with Robbie Rossiter [that is, selling the Irish Democrat in the South London branch area].
August 1 Sunday: For once a fine day with wind. We tried a meeting at Finsbury Park but without much successs. Everybody was listening to football on the radio.
August 2 Monday: I mostly worked on the book, though I called in to the office to find something for Tony Coughlan to do.
August 3 Tuesday: At midday Cathal arrived unexpectedly. He will stay here till the end of next week. Sean is expected tomorrow but I suggested to him having another few days. He was with Roy Johnston at Murlough on Sunday [ie. for the Roger Casement memorial meeting in Co. Antrim] where Roy made the ”oration”. Roy thinks that he is leading and educating the Republicans, while in reality they are availing of his willing services. Still both are pleased.
August 4 Wednesday: Tony Coughlan spoke at the Central London branch meeting. He has become excessively academic, and more vague and impractical than I ever remember him. The work he is doing is calculated to specialise him into every groove he would like to be worn into. The early adventurousness has gone. Yet he comes over here every year for a month, which is more than most would do. Cathal met Columba O’Doherty, his fellow countyman for the first time.
August 5 Thursday: We expected Sean Redmond all day but he did not come. He must be staying. Cathal went to West London in the evening. Des Logan, on holiday, called in during the day. Tony Coughlan went to South London[to speak at the Connolly Association branch meeting] where there is little stirring but an attendance of seven.
August 6 Friday: I have got Mellows to America again, and am now working on the first American chapter. MacDonald called in to the office in the afternoon, with a story that Dalton now dominates the “Irish Communist Group”, Lawless is declaring Clifford “too moderate” and will soon be out, and that Lawless asked him to try and get a photograph of myself, no doubt for his thugs. Callaghan [an independent and eccentric Hyde Park speaker on Irish topics] has been talking of returning to Hyde Park and Lawless and Dalton say they will ”put him in his grave” if he does. It remains to be seen if anybody is intimidated by all the bold threats. I told MacDonald only what I was willing to go back [ie. to Lawless, Dalton etc.].
A message came from Phyllis in Norway, a request from Jack Cohen that I do a school in September, a letter from Egon [Cathal MacLiam’s young son] to Cathal and myself (completed by Helga) and permission from Cormac O’Malley to examine his father’s papers.
August 7 Saturday: I was at the office in the morning and saw the usual people. I was in Camden Town with Des Logan.
August 8 Sunday: Cathal went to Golders Green and bought a very good bicycle for £13 from a lanky youngster of 20 whose advertisement said he was now “motorized” – he had bought a scooter. However he is hugely pleased with it and spent a part of the morning riding round his old haunts in London, many of them of course utterly changed, and usually not for the better. One improvement is however that our old office in Rosoman Street seems to have been included in a park. In the evening I went with Cathal to Hammersmith where we met O’Donohoe (or O Donabhain) and heard him apologising that we had not been at his meeting (“Movement for Democracy in Ulster”) through their fault of not notifying us. His colleague Dolly was busy denouncing us to Jim Argue last week, and had everything worked out (as Argue told Robbie Rossiter) that I was to be replaced as editor by Argue himself. Rossiter told him to pass this on to me. He had not done so yet and looked sheepishly at me when I met him in a public house! Sheepishly, but not from more than a slight embarrassment, I would say.
August 9 Monday: I rang Recordale on Friday asking for particulars of a microfilm reader. I suspected that lack of interest in fresh orders meant a long delivery date, so I rang Ozalid and they said they would put literature in the post. I started the first American chapter again. I had got into difficulties through lack of information on the 1st World War, so Cathal and I spent Saturday afternoon on Charing Cross Road getting books. In the evening Des Logan and Tony Coughlan came to a “banquet” [ie. a meal which he prepared in his flat at 6 Cockpit Chambers, Northington Street, WC1].
August 10 Tuesday: The Ozalid and Recordale literature came together. Recordale offered a six weeks delivery and wanted £220. Ozalid offered the Dutch machine I had heard of at £62 off the peg. We went down to look at it and I gave them a cheque and took one away. I have just given Cathal a pair of cycling stockings which I got at the Scout shop last week. He had bought me Lloyd George’s memoirs. I have not the faintest idea who bought what as we came back loaded with the reader and electrical fittings of all kinds. At the conclusion, after much screwing and hammering, I had an electrical point for the reader and we managed to make it work. In the evening Cathal went to see if he could meet Sean Redmond’s train. Perhaps he did not come today. He was apparently not at Euston.
August 11 Wednesday: In the morning I went to the office and found Sean Redmond there. He had to go to Elsie O’Dowling’s to bring away some books and “jumble”. A desk she offered to me is I think too big, but if we can get it in the office I can take the small one. He seems to have made good use of his time. Roy Johnston is deep in his Republican propaganda, but apparently it does not affect his relations with Nolan who could be forgiven for thinking he could be doing more for the IWP [Irish Workers Party, the Republic of Ireland communist party]. It seems to Sean that the swing to the left is real, but like me he wondered what direction they will turn to in the end. They say, “Yes, yes, yes” but do the other. I brought Sean in with Cathal for lunch, and saw him again later. Cathal went to Eamon MacLaughlin’s for the evening. I read the first “Call” reel on my new machine.
August 12 Thursday: Last night’s “affair” at Eamon MacLauglin’s does not seem to have been a success. First Barbara invited Cathal for 7 pm., then swore it was 6.30, started the meal before he got there and read him a severe lecture on punctuality. Then the sheer quantities and gluttonies before him put him off. The food is copious and of good initial quality, but Eamon lacks the chef’s touch, since his main concern is to fill his annually expanding belly with good stuff, and Cathal also remembered his experimental days when he served him with “scad-the-beggar”, which consisted of porridge containing orange-peel. Then Des Logan came and the wine was all drunk, so they went out for more, and brought whisky and brandy and beer, till Cathal had had too much as he didn’t feel like eating, and was sick on the way home, and felt very small and kept me up till 2 am. telling me about it and getting it off his chest. However, this morning he got up bright and cheery as usual, so no harm was done.
Around midday Phyllis rang and I took her to lunch at the Italian place that used to be Chez Emile. She complained she has a varicose vein, and that sometimes when she does too much walking her ankles swell. She is thinking of consulting her doctor. She brought me some whisky from Copenhagen and I saw her off from Euston.
Then there was a Standing Committee with Peter Mulligan, Toni Curran, Pat Hensey, Sean Redmond and Joe Deighan, Peter being added for the occasion. Toni will not be able to do the accounts much longer and indeed they suffer from the restrictions her domestic duties impose on her. Sean Redmond recounted how the present editor of the United Irishman[the Sinn Fein/IRA newspaper], Foley [ie. Denis Foley], called him into his office when he was on the premises with Cathal Goulding and Roy Johnston, and showed him a letter written under the name of Madden urging cooperation with the Connolly Association. He disclosed that there was no such person as Madden, and that he had written it himself. He then told Sean that the Republican rank and file did not know much about the CA and believed false things about it. He suggested that Sean should write a letter to the United Irishsman based on Madden’s thing explaining what the Connolly Association was. There was much discussion on this. Joe Deighan, immediately inspirited by the prospect of unity with his old cronies in their successes, leapt up enthusiastically. I was for a more cautious approach. Once more the back-door is being tried, a temptation which can be totally disowned. And to make matters worse this young lad Foley, who proposed that the Republicans should enter Leinster House, has made himself so controversial a figure that despite his success in increasing circulation by 5000 or more, is to be replaced as editor by Tony Meade. I am anxious not to move to a limited unity in which the Connolly Associaton takes the place of the British branches of Sinn Fein, and think that this present talk means the failure of Clann na hEireann has been recognized.
August 13 Friday: We got up early and went to Paddington, took a day return to Oxford and thence cycled through Eynsham and Charlbury to Kingham Station and Stow-on-the-Wold. We looked at earth works and the remains of a Roman villa, had lunch at the Bell at Charlbury and tea at Stowe. Then we came back through Oddington where we looked at the old church, and so to Kingham village and back to the station. The day was then “washed away” with a bottle of hock. Cathal thought the countryside resembled parts of Germany in having the old-established farmhouses built over generations. Moving on by-roads we encountered next to no traffic.
August 14 Saturday: Cathal was out all day buying electrical bric-a-brac. As a result the sale arrangements were interfered with but I got plenty of writing done.
August 15 Sunday: I got another day in at the book, which was good. Cathal went to Hyde Park and seemingly all went well there.
August 16 Monday: Cathal was backwards and fowards on his bicycle, taking things to Euston, buying presents for the children, and panting to be on his way. After lunch we looked through the window and saw workmen beginning the demolition of the low building in Cockpit yard. They began by trying to save the glass fanlights, then gradually a desire for destruction began to grip them and they smashed the glass and toppled the chimney stack on to it with evident delight. Cathal was greatly amused at the way they carried themselves so self-assuredly with their big potbellies and enormous strength. He left at about 5 pm. and went for the Emerald Isle Express.
August 17 Tuesday: Today I had to do some work on the paper. I roped Sean Redmond and Tony Coughlan in to some extent, but only managed to get off a page. The weather has been good for the greater part of this month. But the office is suffocating with the window closed and deafening with them open.
August 18 Wednesday: More work on the paper, and three pages off to the printer. Apart from that there was not much news. Sean Redmond told me about Brian Farrington. Apparently the reason he is in Manchster is that he is somewhat estranged from his wife. The circumstances are a great pity. One of their children was drowned in 6 inches of water in an ornamental pond in the garden and perhaps she blamed him or he her. At any rate it came between them.
August 19 Thursday: I had three more pages done by the time the Standing Committee met. Joe Deighan could not come, but Tony Coughlan, Pat Hensey and Sean Redmond were there [A.Coughlan was attending as an invited visitor]. Then it began to rain. So I stayed in the office and finished the job.
August 20 Friday: At lunchtime somebody stuck a typewritten notice in our door, with reference to coloured people and Malayans, the man who comes on the bicycle in corduroy shorts(myself) and the mousy young woman with flat heels. These were very suspicious goings-on and it was stated that 374 Grays Inn Road was a den of fifth-columnists and worse. The “mousy” person is the girl who works for the MCF [Movement for Colonial Freedom], a very decent girl too. At about 4 pm. Charlie Cunningham arrived and took Tony Coughlan off for tea later. I spent the day in the office cleaning up, and should now be able to return to the book.
August 21 Saturday: Into the office in the morning trooped Barbara MacLaughlin, with the news that she was to give a talk to West London on the social condition of the Irish, and had we any books on the subject. We hadn’t. So she bought a Gaelic grammar and a Walton’s Song Book and was about to go away when we asked her why not let Tony Coughlan give the talk he gave in Central London. A good idea, said she, would we ask him? We did. But Sean Redmond let Pat Hensey ring her up, and didn’t he get Eamonn and make the most flatly apologetic approach so that by evening she was ringing me and also disclosing that Eamon had chosen the first weekend of the paper [ie. the four weeks per month when the Irish Democrat was sold round the pubs of the Irish districts, principally Camden and Kentish Town, Kilburn, Paddington, Hammersmith and Fulham, Brixton and Elephant and Castle] for a Sunday night social at his house, and has, to make things worse, invited De Wrixon [a professional singer] to waste his talent on the company. I expressed myself forcibly on the subject but to little effect as the damage is done.
August 22 Sunday: I managed to get a half-day on the book and am launched into the middle of Chapter 7. But in the morning we had a General Purposes Commitee, and quite a useful one.
August 23 Monday: Again, apart from the usual visit to the office in the morning I spent the whole day on the book.
August 24 Tuesday: The day was again spent writing. I telephoned Phyllis on the occasion of her birthday. Though in good health she didn’t want to be 49 at all.
August 25 Wednesday: The earlier part of the day was spent writing, and I completed Chapter 7 and am now halfway. In the evening I gave a “banquet” to Sean Redmond, Tony Coughlan and Peter Mulligan, and among the four of us we contrived to stow away two sizeable chickens, the things that go with them and seven bottles of Zeltlinger Riesling!
August 26 Thursday: The book takes a new turn now, as I plunge into the period after November 1917 and it is clear to me more research is needed. The Standing Committee was held in the evening. Pat Hensey was apologetic about next Sunday. Sean Redmond thinks that Eamon MacLaughlin for all he may be returning to activity is “tailoring the branch to suit his own lazy inclinations”, and of course there is nobody to say “Booh”.
August 27 Friday: In the evening I was with Peter Mulligan in Kilburn. He is talking of moving to North KensIngton to have a room in the place where Charlie Cunningham lives. Chris Sullivan is back from Dublin. At Helga’s invitation he stayed three nights at Cathal’s. He says Fitzgerald and Joe O’Connor were on holiday together in Dublin.
August 28 Saturday: I was with Des Logan in Paddington but it poured rain. He is likely to be coopted on to the committee of Tuairim. Barbara rang up to say what a marvellous talk everybody said she gave. It lasted 15 minutes. She was put out that Des Logan did not attend. He had “personal problems”. I did not discuss this with Logan. I can guess the situation all right.
August 29 Sunday: I saw Sean Redmond and Tony Coughlan at midday. Then at Hyde Park there were Pat Hensey, Gerry Curran, Charlie Cunningham and others. Tony Coughlan returns to Ireland overnight after having been a great help. Chris Sullivan was talking to Des Logan who was also there and Fitzgerald was telling them that he was never drawn into any faction, though many a time he was asked, and so on. Logan thinks he has read the suggestions of unity with the Connolly Association in the current United Irishman, or heard that in Dublin. We had a valedictory dinner at Schmidts with Tony Coughlan. Then Joe Deighan and Chris Sullivan went to Kilburn and Sean Redmond and I to Camden Town. The others went to Eamon MacLaughlin’s nonsense.
August 30 Monday: The morning I spent reading, and the afternoon doing some painting, and then went to the office to dispose of some items of correspondence. I had another letter from Major Ned Mordaunt. He is the brother of Myles Mordaunt, and was at the Royal Hibernian Military School, and the Four Courts [the bombardment of which was the commencement of the Irish civil war].
Apparently he was “born in the sevice” at Canterbury, Myles at York and Myles was “withdrawn” from the RHMS at the earnest request of the authorities. Apparently he was “picked up” by accident and found himself in the Four Courts. Not being under IRA discipline he was not popular with all the leaders, but apparently got on well with Mellows who gave him to understand that he was at the RHMS [Royal Hibernian Military School]. The school was started by the Irish Parliament before the Union, something which Mellows pointed out to him, and did in fact take a small number of day boys, as the man in the lodge whose job was to keep down the numbers of the deer in the park, had a son there. The main function was to train army schoolmasters. Mordaunt spoke of MacCabe and confirmed his strange stay, his decision to enter the Fourt Courts in 1922, and return to his regiment voluntarily in 1926!
August 31 Tuesday: I went into the office in the morning and made plans with Sean Redmond for the period when we will both be away. The sales reached nearly 1750, which was good, but Sean (who is in good fettle since his holiday) thinks some of the sellers are getting tired. Eamon MacLaughlin’s thing was merely a self-glorificatory booze session with his amateur theatrical group and did the branch no good whatsoever. We think there will be no repetition. But Des Logan seems to be playing unduly near the fire of Barbara and we wonder what will happen next. I left London by the Emerald Isle Express, which was crowded but not so crowded as it would have been after the earlier Bank Holiday
September 1 Wednesday (Dublin): I arrived at Dun Laoghaire after a pleasant enough journey and went up to Finglas. Cathal had left for work and Finula was in Galway. But little Bébhinn had acquired a whole new series of tricks. I went to Pearse Street Library armed with Cormac O’Malley’s authorization to examine Ernie O’Malley’s papers, but had some difficulty in persuading the assistant librarian to disgorge them. In the end I persuaded her. While she was taking them out I went to the National Library where they said they would get them out in a few minutes. Back at Pearse Street I found the famous “trunkfuls of punk” that Moss Twomey spoke of. The pity is that a little more historical sense and O’Malley would have assembled a priceless collection. But he has written down what people told him without attempting to connect their experiences with a precise universal chronology. So these records will be mainly interesting as a check on the Military Bureau documents after their fifty years is up[i.e. the Military History Bureau records of activists in the Irish War of Independence, which were released to the public in 2012]. He was most assiduous and there is a mass of material. The assistant librarian thinks it will remain at Pearse Street, but believes it to be more important than it really is. Back at the National Library I found the wee girl had not been able to locate O’Malley’s “box of documents” but MacNicol, who also failed to trace them, promised to do so tomorrow. When I said there were others at Pearse Street, he remarked “Aha – safety! He’s afraid of another 1922”[when most of the national archives were destroyed in the burning of the Four Courts].
Cathal and I talked further about Roy Johnston and both of us were inclined to think that people who today belong to two parties end up tomorrow belonging to none. He was in Abbey Street described as a “Republican” and the police inspector wrote it down at once. Then MacAonghusa [Proinsias MacAonghusa, then a prominent member of the Irish Labour Party] loudly called him a “red socialist” and Roy was in a state of suppressed fury at “MacAonghusa the lecher” talking to him like that.
September 2 Thursday: There was no trace of O’Malley’s “box of documents” at the National Library though MacNicol assured me they had ransacked the place. But I think I found them at Pearse Street where Miss Brown was very delighted at the thought that she had the whole collection. She said Cormac O’Malley thought he was not sufficiently enthusiastically received in Kildare Street [ie. by the National Library staff there], but “they’ll have to come on their bended knees to us now” – this was of course not said mischievously but with the pride of a Librarian. There was in the box a large typed manuscript which may well represent O’Malleys collation of his experiences. But how he could collate the jumble of his notebooks I do not know. But he may have had a good memory. Certainly the notebooks contain underlinings in red, and it is often not obvious why they should be there.
I met that exhibitionist O’Donovan, the London-Kerry man, at O’Connell’s Bridge. He said he was not in the “Irish Communist Group” and that they were split over who was the finer, Stalin or Trotsky. He had “told” Lawless that Ireland was too prosperous for a revolution – and more of it. Lawless apparently lives in a world of fantasy. A note came from Tony Coughlan that he will be out of town for a while. I met Sean Nolan in the street.
September 3 Friday: I worked all morning at Pearse Street and found the O’Malley papers very valuable. The typed MS is a personal story, a kind of supplement to “On Another Man’s Wound” giving a most detailed account of the defence of the Fourt Courts. I had lunch with Roy. He is very active, and enthusiastic about what he is doing. I notice the establishment of a kind of convert’s emotionalism regarding the Republican Movement, and was interested to note that he took fish [it being the Friday, the day conscientious Catholics abstained from eating meat]. A few years, months, ago he would have preached his Protestantism by ordering a steak. I took fish myself – but only because fresh salmon was on the menu at 2/- extra. It will be interesting to see how he develops. He is going to the British Association [for the Advancement of Science] over the weekend. I suggested to him that he try to find out what Lemass hopes to gain from the Trade Treaty [ie. the 1965 Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement], as that should not be considered an inevitable non-entity. He asked me what was behind the Irish Peers’ demand for their seats [in the House of Lords] The essence is to be paid for sitting, I said, no doubt tried on when there was talk of closer relations. Some of them must be poorer than church mice.
I returned to Pearse Street, finished the MS, then went to Kildare Street. MacNicol told me, “You’re in luck. We’ve found O’Malley’s box.” I looked through the assortment of papers and found most interesting things, letters from DeValera, Rory O’Connor, written in 1922, a copy of a statement smuggled out of jail by Dunne in 1922, old IRA field books and the despatches of the Civil War. I worked till the Library closed without a meal and returned to Finglas tired out and ravenous. Moreover, I think I have got “writer’s cramp” – and if that’s all it is it can clear up when the book is finished.
September 4 Saturday: I spent the morning at the National Library, went out to make some purchases in pouring rain, ran into Casey, one of Sean Redmond’s old cronies, now a strong Labour supporter and then went to Pearse Street [the Irish Workers Party bookshop at No.16A] and had a hearty talk with Michael O’Riordan. He is prepared to come across and do any meetings we desire and likes the idea of speaking with Gollan [CPGB General Secretary] next Easter. He talks of launching a quarterly theoretical journal then. This is good. There is no doubt they are making some progress, though if they had the art of influencing actual events they would make it more rapidly. Cathal says people join and leave because they have nothing to do. But who can tell why people leave? They give no reasons themselves. Sean Nolan is on holiday. A letter from Bill Meek said he had traced the MacMahon family for us at Blessington. and Sean Redmond wrote about Hughie Moore’s wedding present.
September 5 Sunday: The day being wasted in the nature of things I had intended to go on a cycling trip as Cathal has gone to Galway to collect Finula. But the weather was dull, cold and showery. Apart from a brief trip into town I did nothing but read the papers.
September 6 Monday: All morning and afternoon I wrote in Pearse Street. Moss Twomey was not right in referring to O’Malley’s material so disparagingly. There is a great deal of dross. O’Malley seems to have had a passion for detail. There is no evidence as to how he would have marshalled it. The original MS of “On Another Man’s Wound” is there, and a complete MS of a second book. The second exists as rough notes, a consecutive outline, and then a very sophisticated story in which direct speech is used. This leads me to doubt if his vivid syle of writing leans precisely on historical details, despite his passion for them. Everything points to his having been a really remarkable man. He has notes on the races of South America, references to Rembrandt, a list of the piano works of Beethoven, enquiries as to “what music Rory O’Connor played” (not listened to). Then there are business accounts of his farming transactions. As in his book there is nowhere a reactionary sentiment. He is the perfect democrat. In documents he marks the political issues in red ink, and frequently marks specially references to Labour. The impression I had when studying his book remains and is reinforced. I would call him the artist and man of action. He makes many profound remarks, but shows no great power of abstraction, though not showing it is no proof of not possessing it. Why did he not cut a much bigger dash afterwards? Possibly partly because men of idealism could only survive if they were prepared to plod thirty years in the wilderness. He was too honest for the problems and he despaired of Government, and too financially independent once he had married the American. Yet he would also be too impatient and too attuned to the full life to make common cause with Sean Russell [IRA leader in the 1930s] and Ryan [Frank Ryan, left-wing republican] all those weary years. And artistically he had nothing but one subject, the years of his youth when the experiences were too intense to be erased or even interleaved with fresh experiences. When I was in Mulrany [in 1951; see Vol.10] he was in Burrisbook Lodge. I was thinking often of calling on him, but he had barricaded the house against his wife. At the National Library I found in his papers a set of IRA reports of 1922-23, and minutes of the EC. [ie.of the IRA Executive], also a statement of the events that led up to the Civil War with no signature and the first page missing.
September 7 Tuesday: Again I was in Pearse Street. The Librarians now bring me tea and biscuits every morning. Miss Brown was quite excited at having the MS of “On Another Man’s Wound” in her custody. But the main discovery of the day related to the document I found last night. Sorting out loose papers I found the front page, and also a reference to it in a covering letter. Plus Liam Lynch’s comment [leader of the Republican forces in the civil war]. It is quite clear that the document was written by Mellows himself and smuggled out of Mountjoy. It clears up many things that are obscure in Dorothy Macardle’s book [viz.“The Irish Republic”]. I wonder if she ever saw it. I doubt it. Yet Lynch had a copy and O’Malley kept one. This has a front page in typescript and the others are quite inferior copies, but the fact that all four pages comprise one document is established not only by the context but by the reduplication of the last word on each page and the first on the next. Mellows seems to have had very little confidence in Lynch. Lynch’s comment is that Mellows’s “ideals” were too strong for his judgement, or something to that effect. I feel I am at last beginning to understand the period.
Coming back I stopped in O’Connell Street where there was a large meeting. The evicted tenants who live in Mountjoy Square were speaking. They were demanding houses. I saw the rather weedy specimen from London who is a member of Sinn Fein but somewhat disillusioned. He used to sell the United Irishman outside Holloway Dance Hall. “What do you think of him?” he asked me. “A good speaker,” said I. “What. Didn’t you hear him praise Hitler and condemn Russia?” ”I didn’t,” I said, “But I only arrived two minutes ago. But what did he say?” “Well he didn’t actually praise Hitler, but he said we might as well be in Russia.” ”That wouldn’t worry me,” I replied, “Why not? He should have compared us to London?” “He should of course,” said I, “but we’ll not quarrel with him while he’s looking for a house, despite his lack of knowledge of the world at large.” “There might be something in that, he replied, giving me a look of astonishment. The sectishness of the sea-green incorruptibles has to be seen to be believed. Only a year ago he would have complained that he was too kind to Russia in suggesting that Dublin was “as bad” as it! It would have been “communist propaganda”. Now he is as narrowly viewing the world from the opposite position.
September 8 Wednesday: I went through the Four Courts story and made many notes. Then I went to the National Library and copied out the Mellows memorandum. He promised and there is evidence that he sent out a critique of Mulcahy’s [General Richard Mulcahy, member of the Provisional Government] Ulster policy. I wonder where that got to. It might just possibly be in the Pearse Street papers. That would be a wonderful “find”.
September 9 Thursday: This being Miss Browne’s day off I could not work in Pearse Street, so I went to the National Library and had another go at “Nationality”. On my way back to Finglas I was tapped on the shoulder in the bus queue. It was Joe Massey, who used to be in Coventry. He looked older now, but otherwise is unchanged. He had the makings of quite a leader. I never recall anybody who could start a speech so well. The essence of what he was going to say was delivered with tremendous fiorce in his first sentence. He lived in a caravan owned by his fiancé’s parents. These were extremely narrow-minded tradesmen-like people who looked down on the proletarian Massey. Everything revolved round the wife’s family and his people were not even invited to the wedding. They moved to London and called in to my place once. I had some good continental food which he appreciated but she refused to eat, thinking fish and chips the apogee of the culinary art. She insisted on going to Dublin to have the first child and then died in childbirth. Her family tried to take charge of the baby, but he stood his ground at last and took it to his. Now the baby is seven years old, and attends the Christian Brothers school. I heard that Massey had got at cross-purposes with the Irish Workers League and that he had had some mental trouble. That is possible but there was no sign of it this evening.
September 10 Friday: I spent another full day at Pearse Street and then went to the National Library in the evening. Tom O’Neill was there [Professor of history at UCD and joint biographer, with Frank Pakenham, of Eamon De Valera, then President of Ireland]. He said he spends most of his time at Aras an Uachtaráin. He wanted to know if I had found anything that would connect Mellows with DeValera in 1922. I had not. He says De Valera mentions seeing Mellows from time to time, but O’Neill would like to find some document making Mellows the go-between through whom De Valera approached the IRA. How this would please Frank Pakenham, of course, is a different matter. He had been reading my life of Connolly and expressed himself very interested. I presume De Valera showed it him [Greaves had sent his biography of Connolly to De Valera, whom he later interviewed for his biography of Mellows].
When I reached Finglas Roy was there, looking pinched and jaded. He was rushing off to meet a fisherman at Dun Laoire. It is remarkable how he is exerting himself now. He used to say that married men should not be asked to do too much. Now he is doing it with a vengeance. I told him to take it easy. He is tramping the mountains with Brian Farrington on Monday and tells me the proofs of Farrington’s lecture have arrived.
September 11 Saturday: I received a disturbing letter from Phyllis this morning, to the effect that she goes into hospital tomorrow for the removal of an ovarian cyst. Helga does not think it was a desperate operation. But Phyllis seems very upset, as it is the first illness she has had in her life, apart from colds and influenza which she is very liable to. She has gone to stay with a Mrs Stewart in South Liverpool. I sent a wire and later spoke to Mrs Stewart on the phone. She said Phyllis was upstairs in bed and could only walk about the bedroom. I think Enid Greaves [a first cousin] took her there in the car. When she comes out she has arranged to stay with Enid. So now I must reconsider my movements.
Again I was in Pearse Street, but arrived late and left early so that there is still one notebook to be looked at, and a mass of documents remain. But though the documents fill two large drawers and the notebooks only one, I think I will find that the documents will mostly be irrelevant and perhaps three days will be enough
September 12 Sunday (Dublin): I found yesterday there were sailing tickets at Holyhead and no tickets for Liverpool. I decided to go to London on Monday, but rang up Liverpool first. Helga tells me that the removal of an ovarian cyst is not a very serious matter, but an operation is an operation.
September 14 Tuesday (Liverpool): What a twenty-four hours! I can hardly measure the time. Thinking there was no great urgency and I could get back to London, get a change of clothing and some money and then go to Liverpool possibly on Wednesday I went south yesterday to Limerick Junction. My intention was to ring and if the operation had been performed and it was thought desirable, go from Fishguard to Liverpool, if necessary hiring a car. At Carrick I was to take the train. But first I telephoned Mrs Stewart. She told me that Phyllis was very ill indeed and that I should ring the hospital. I did so and learned she was on the danger list. I went back to the station, booked to Rosslare and discussed hiring a car there which would bring me to Liverpool as soon as the Dublin boat would have done. All seemed well. Then the train ran ten minutes late, fifteen, twenty. “Sure they hold up the boat for it. It’s the boat train.” But they didn’t. A new message came that the train had broken down between Cahir and Clonmel on a long stretch of line. It was pouring rain. A driver said he wanted £10 to take me to Dublin. But could I get a plane there if I got there? It was dubious. There was a 4.0 am. boat. Perhaps a car in Fishguard would serve better. I did not think till too late of hiring the car to catch the boat. Finally I thought of Roy [ie. Roy Johnston, then working with the Irish State airline, Aer Lingus]. The train was nearly two hours overdue by now. I rang him from the station, after a trial with Aer Lingus who said the first places were on a flight to Newcastle at 9 am. Mairin answered the phone. Roy was out. I told her the circumstances and she rang back in 20 minutes. He was at a meeting and they had taken the phone off the hook. She had rung two of his associates who were going there and he would surely do everything possible.
I took the car and had to pay the £10 in advance. The old man who was driving brought his son as a relief driver. He was intending to make for Thomastown after filling the tank with petrol and buying one or two bottles in a pub “for the way back. It gets cold in the early morning.” But we found the level-crossing gates closed in readiness for the train which was the cause of all the trouble. We went to Ninemilehouse, Callan, Kilkenny, Castlecomer and Athy. Along the road the son – stone-deaf as a result of chickenpox but a powerful car mechanic who can tell when an engine is going wrong by placing his hand on the bonnet – said I’ll get out and pump ship. “I’ll do the same,” said the father, and got out on the opposite side of the car. There was no sign of rushing water on the father’s side but an over-powering gust of whisky-fumes as he got in again. Just the same he got me to Roy’s safely at 1.15 am. on Tuesday. Roy was not in. I had left things at Cathal’s and relied on Roy to drive me there and get them, now I was making for Liverpool direct and was short of money. Michael O’Leary was there, waiting for Roy to return from a meeting which was discussing the homeless people who are living in IRA tents in Mountjoy Square. Geraghty the Trotskyite has moved in on it, and if his performance at Sceim na gCeardchumann is anything to go by, they were deep in argument with him. However Mairin told me they had tried to get me on a cargo plane that was flying tonight. He would try again for the 8.15 to Liverpool, though it was booked up. “There’s always room,” said Mairin. Then O’Leary offered to drive me to Cathal’s. As we went through acres of derelict property, whole parishes being eliminated for the money-makers, he remarked, “This is my constituency.” He might have added, “This was.” He regards the Mountjoy Square business as a puxonite type of stunt [a reference to agitation by itinerant champion Grattan Puxon] and is concerned that Lawless is back in Dublin ready for more mischief. Cathal and Helga were very concerned – they were in bed, but since Cathal and I interchanged keys years ago, I did not need to knock them up. O’Leary got me back by 2 am. and under Mairin’s persuasion I rang the hospital again. I was afraid to, but for her wise prompting. The news was that Phyllis was slightly better. So that eased my mind a very little. At 3 am. we learned that Roy had got me put at the head of the standby list for Liverpool, and as this list is not made out till 7.45 am. this was an important concession. He was not in when I returned. I hardly slept but rested nonetheless. We telephoned Ryan’s to send a cab for 7.10 am. as I had to be at Collinstown by 7.45. At 6.20 I got up, had a wee bite and got into the taxi. At Collinstown to my relief I found that I had been booked for the flight since last night. Who lost his place I do not know. I heard a man saying he was from Aer Lingus staff and wanted to go on the standby list. However, we landed down at Liverpool at 9.5 and I took the bus into the city and a taxi to the Women’s Hospital at Catherine Street.
There I was told the melancholy story. There is a tumour of the abdomen which they took out. Then they found another beneath it, and they fear malignancy but cannot tell till the pathologist reports. They tried to get it all away, but what hope is there? They will however try to kill any surviving malignant cells by a course of radiation treatment at Clatterbridge and they have brought Phyllis round. I thanked them for telling me the facts as they knew them and went in to see the poor girl. She could only whisper. She had had two blood transfusions and was being fed glucose intravenously like CEG [his father] was years ago. She was very pleased to see me and rallied. Mrs Stewart was going there in the afternoon, so I availed of the opportunity to try and make arrangements about tonight’s meeting. I went to Manchester. FIrst I rang Tom [Tom Redmond, Sean Redmond’s brother, who was a key Connolly Association activist in the Manchester branch] at home. No answer. Then I got him at the canteen at work. He did not know Sean’s whereabouts in Manchester. I rang Joe Deighan and asked him to stand in if I could not get Sean to London. He grumbled, said he was “on rota” but agreed. I tried the Indian Restaurant, the Connolly Association rooms and the party office without result. I then wnt into All Saints Post Office to advise Cohen that I can’t do his school at Hastings this weekend. I’m not leaving till I see Phyllis out of danger and am “keeping my fingers crossed”. As I came out of the Post Office I was hailed by Sean himself. I told him briefly the circumstances and he agreed to go to London at once. He telephoned Joe Deighan to get Peter Mulligan to take the stuff to the hall and I saw him off on the 4.25 to London through the window of the 4.30 to Liverpool. Back in Liverpool I rang the hospital, and they said it would do Phyllis good to see me. I was up there by 6 pm. and remained with her over an hour. She was very uncomfortable, looking at her watch every few minutes and saying, “Oh dear!” I tried to comfort her as best I could, and she had a little sleep. I was very shaken and had to “take myself in hand” when I got home (the half-bottle of brandy is on the table to be drunk after 11 pm. when I ring the hospital again). It is no use wasting any energy on pity (though God knows I feel enough) if it can be used helping Phyllis. So that is the measure of it.
I rang Enid Greaves who very kindly invited me to go there and asked me to take Phyllis some flowers. Then Mrs Stewart rang me. By this time I had to some extent recovered my internal balance (if not equanimity!) and was working out how I could do the paper, finish the book, and do the best possible for Phyllis. So I rang the Conway Hall and asked them to tell Sean Redmond to bring all the Democrat material to Manchester and I will do what I can between visits to the hospital. But of course I am worried sick, or if not physically sick – very worried.
September 15 Wednesday (Liverpool): Another very trying day, not improved by torrential rain almost all the time. When I got to the hospital I found Phyllis with a tube in her nose, so as to take liquid off the stomach. She couldn’t speak. I stayed there till the surgeon came. He was quite frank. The growth was highly malignant. It had burst its capsule. The carcinoma invaded the uterus, the bladder and one ovary. These were removed in whole or part. But unfortunately it had also seated itself so deeply in the pelvis that he could not clear the lot. “There is only one thing in which I might be open to criticism,” he told me, “that I put her througn all this in an almost hopeless case. But there is still one chance in ten, if we get her to Clatterbridge. We must hope that what is left behind will respond to radiotherapy.” So that was that. I told her I was going for lunch. Then I returned. She wanted then to sleep. So I went out and stayed with her from 6.30 to 9.30 in the evening. How impossible it is, clinging to a hope in ten. I got £100 transferred to Manchester and asked Sean Redmond to do the paper. I will do some of it, if I can.
September 16 Thursday: Things looked up a little today. I went into the hospital at about 10.15 am. and sat there till about 1 pm. There was little improvement and she had had a bad night. I felt I hadn’t a shred of policy, since the surgeon’s sole course of action – to get her mobile quick enough to try the radiation before the carcinoma has time to spread further – seemed too remote to be counted on. I had indeed not dared to bank on it. However I met Sean Redmond at Central. He showed me the latest effusion of the “Irish Communist Group”. What Donovan told me was true. They are quarrelling over who was the finest, Stalin or Trotsky, and apparently the wild men ruined a social on them and they were foolish enough to print an apology to all who came, thus spreading the news wholesale. This time they have discovered the distinction between the socialist and the national revolution. And they extol the virtues of hard practical work and, for example, “Nobody listens to Desmond Greaves. He is a clever man, but a windbag.” Mutat nomine…[one changes the name]. Sean is prepared to do all that is necessary to enable me to look after Phyllis.
Now when I got back I found her much brighter and drinking of all things a cup of tea. The glucose drip had gone this morning, so that was something. I saw the specialist. “Well, she’s holding her own,” he said. “It’s rather remarkable after what she’s gone through.” At seven she was nibbling a creamcake and had been out of bed for two seconds. A married nurse who is from the Midlands (Birmingham I imagine) was delighted. So at last I got some shred of policy – to do everything possible to speed the initial recovery. And it is clear that my presence helps. Of course we may be in for a terrible disappointment. I asked her would I tell EWG or WT [family relations] – “No, no. I have a form duplicated to send to them when I’m better. It just has the place for the name.” And what could I say?
September 17 Friday: I went in to the hospital again. She is now described as “comfortable” and was sittng in the chair while they made the bed. The tube is out of her stomach and she was talking quite merrily. She was able to describe the awful experience of coming round, the shock like the clashing of a million cymbals her head, and her wondering if she could bear it and saying, “Well, I can only die.” She also shows some inkling of the fact that she is not out of the wood. The sister told me that since she is the strong-minded intelligent woman she is, they will not try too fool her, but Hirsch the surgeon will tell her tactfully at the right moment. So we are now on the hook of the new hope. She was telling me how early this year she felt often very tired.
I had lunch with Sean Redmond at the St George, now very deserted at lunchtime, possibly because so much of the surrounding area is demolished. I hope it doesn’t close down. It is a comfortable traditional restaurant, quiet, and roomy, with none of this damned piped, boxed or canned music now stuffed down everybody’s ears. I said to him that I had seen a book in the house on the subject of middle-aged women’s problems. I had guessed that she had mistaken the symptoms of the disease for the approach of the menopause. In the afternoon she explained this very thing to me. And to make matters worse the doctor who had written the book was a friend of hers, and she had not even thought of consulting him. I thought to myself that the first thing they should put in their book was that every woman who suspects the change of life should consult her doctor. Indeed if we were not living in an age of humbug and barbarism, there would be women doctors available everywhere for just that.
I discussed the paper with Sean Redmond. Ayling, the man who wrote to the Daily Workervehemently defending O’Casey against Fallon, and whose letter they rejected because it contradicted my review, which in turn they rejected because it was contradicted by Ayling, wrote a very nice letter [Ronald Ayling, author of several books on Sean O’Casey]. He sympathised, or to be precise “expressed support” to me, on account of the “Irish Communist Group” attacks. He sent a long criticism of Fallon’s book[Gabriel Fallon, who wrote on Sean O’Casey], and it is clear from a quotation that Fallon had attacked him in it. I do not see why Ayling is not as entitled to the expression of his point of view as Fallon. I said when the Daily Worker rejected my advice to “publish both sides and be damned” that they didn’t know how to run a newspaper. Labour Monthly may possibly publish a short article from him. I will support publishing his criticism in full, and let Fallon come back if he wants to.
As a measure of her improvement Phyllis suggested that I should not come in this evening, as she could then sleep. She may have been influenced by the fact that two days running I fell asleep in the chair. This is not an unusual thing as I am strongly addicted to “cat-naps” and always go to sleep (even with my head on my hands at the office desk) whenever I feel tired. When I wake up I am not tired any more. But it was a good sign. It means we are a wee bit ahead in the race against time.
I went up to Enid Greaves’s and she made dinner for me. She proposes to go and see Phyllis on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. So I will find out the best time. She is liable to become a grandmother in October. Leslie is there, 50(?) years old, as grey as a badger, with most of his own teeth, and the mentality of a child of seven. Elsie just orders him about like a child. It is the only thing to do. I remember when we used to go to Cressington Avenue during the First World War, Harley Greaves and I used to be afraid of him, though he was a year or so younger than we were, because he would scratch and bite, and do at the age of four what children cease to do at two. The poor divil has had none of the joys and none of the sorrows, and it is only when you see the like that you opt consciously for consciousness, even though poor Phyllis only six weeks ago said to one of Elsie’s daughters that she was petrified at the very thought of going into a hospital, and Enid said how she was trying to be brave. She has a huge “fan-mail”(more than I would ever get) and is obviously enormously respected everywhere she is known. I rang Mrs Gaskell and wrote to Mabel[Mabel Taylor, a maternal aunt].
September 18 Saturday: In the morning and afternoon I went into the hospital. Phyllis was bright and cheerful, and making plans for the future. Apparently she has a choice of a very good appointment with the Education Department, as an “adviser”, far better paid than a head teacher. She now keeps remembering items of evidence of ill-health over the past two years, beginning at the time of Mary Greaves’s death. It is most unfortunate that preoccupations of one kind or another put her off the track of it, yet in between times she has felt very well. I saw Jean Hack in the evening, who is a nurse. She gave the Clatterbridge “deep X-ray treatment” a very good name. But I am on edge, and hope and despair simultaneously. She thought they would not tell her that the operation was not a complete success, and would say, “This is to make sure.” But whether that would deceive Phyllis is a different matter. She is as sharp as a razor on all these things. I met her friend Mrs Stewart in the afternoon, a teacher who has just retired, and must be about 60. She is a very pleasant woman. She and Phyllis were talking shop merrily for half an hour.
September 19 Sunday: I went to the hospital again, in the morning and afteroon, leaving at about 7 pm. Phyllis is better still, and everyody is delighted. She now suspects that more than the ovarian cyst was found. But I doubt if she has an inkling of the diagnosis still confronting her. We thought however that I could make a quick trip to London. I would bring some work up to do while she is in her improving phase and be around to help her with the next. I spoke to Aine Redmond [Tom Redmond’s wife in Manchester, who was a nurse] on the phone and she says what all say, sometimes the X-ray treatment is effective, sometimes it is not. But when Phyllis says, “Don’t bring too much here, I’ll soon be well”, I have to avoid frightening her by bringing it, and at the same time see it is brought!
September 20 Monday: I saw Phyllis in the morning and again in the afternoon when Enid Greaves came and (for a moment) another headmistress appeared on the scene – a rather simpering species of character I thought, but no doubt estimable. Later when I had gone Mrs Stewart was coming. She continued to improve and though I knew the extent of the problem, I can’t help a rising optimism based on the speed of her advance. A letter came from Alan Morton saying he had executed one or two small commissions for me in London. He could not stand in for the YCL school at Hastings owing to the short notice, and the fact that he becomes the first Professor of Botany at Chelsea on October 6th. David, the younger boy, has got a place at Guy’s Hospital to do medicine in October. This is what he always wanted to do from the time he was quite small.
September 21 Tuesday (London): I caught the “Shamrock” to London, by two minutes, and after calling to Northington Street, went to the office and found Sean Redmond in good form. Joe Deighan and Toni Curran both asked after Phyllis when they rang up. Both have moved, Deighan to Marchmont Street, the Currans to Ealing. East London is deserted [where Deighan and the Currans had been mainstays of the East London Connolly Association branch]. For some mysterious reason Robbie Rossiter launched an attack on Sean Redmond and myself at the General Purposes Committee last Sunday week, and said all the other members of the Standing Committee were “rubber stamps”. This annoyed Joe Deighan. “Are you saying that I’m a rubber stamp?” Sean thinks he got it from Waterford [Rossiter’s home county]. Possibly that rat O’Shea was there [Fred O’Shea]. However he was in the Park on Sunday, doing quite well. At 6 pm. Sean Redmond went to Oxford. Lalor is going to an agricultural college near Northampton, but there is a young fellow who mght carry on with the papers. Eamon MacLaughlin is behaving strangely in West London, and criticizing Pat Hensey and Charlie Cunningham. But we think that Gerry Curran, wbo is the only one remotely near his match, will now counterbalance him. His trouble is that he is lazy, likes to be important and make suggesions, but not to carry them out. And he is always on the look-out for diversions into the field of pseudo-culture.
It was only when I got back to London and started working on the paper that I realised what a strain the last week has been. I am tired at 9 pm. I rang Sister Bazier at 7 pm. and she told me that Phyllis is better than ever and has taken a lamb chop. She says the other specialist from Clatterbridge comes tomorrow but they will not tell her till the morning. Mercifully the Clatterbridge machine did Enid Greaves much good.
September 22 Wednesday: I went to bed at 10.30 last night and woke much refreshed and put in a day’s work on the paper. I rang Liverpool and learned that Phyllis was much better and they had told her about the move. I was sorry as I would have preferred to do this. Joe Deighan did not improve my feelings by saying Dorothy Deighan’s elder sister died of what Phyllis has got. I drank over a bottle of Zeltlinger and went to bed soon after 12. Quite a number of the boys are asking about her, including Tony Coughlan in a letter from Dublin.
September 23 Thursday (Liverpool): I spent the morning on the paper in the office. Whatever is said or done, certainly Sean Redmond is most understanding and is willingly taking on the whole weight of the work for the coming period. I packed a lot of material and returned to Liverpool going straight to the hospital. I found her In a very emotional state, saying she had had her worst day, with great pain, and was finding herself near the end of her tether. However, she has been given a tablet which helped and soon she was talking away cheerfully, or as cheerfully as possible. I tried to comfort her as much as possible. She says she is frightened, half jokingly. But it is a desperate blow having to go to Clatterbridge, losing her private room and the pleasant nurses, especially as Clatterbridge has a bad reputation and is outside the City, a very long way for her friends to visit her. She has heard from Mabel, Hilda and Bertha [Maternal aunts]. Apparently Mabel rang Dorothy who seems to have panicked and sent Laura Austin (Renie’s old friend who used to look after us when we were children when the parents were out) up to see her. Phyllis told her the operation had been much worse than she had anticipated. And that the uterus and one ovary had been removed, she told me she knew, but did not tell her. She thought that Hirsch [the surgeon] was evasive, did not look her in the eye and that they were saying that water could collect again and she must be a month in Clatterbridge. She was better when I left.
September 24 Friday: I went to the hospital in the morning, managed to do a little work in the afternoon and then went to the hospital again in the evening. Phyllis was noticeably brighter, with occasional pains, but nothing to compare with those of yesterday. But she was talking about wills, and the death of AEG, and CEG [their mother and father] and all kinds of things from the past. She cannot believe the transformation that has befallen her, but is now resigned to its being a “long job”. The endless rain continues. I had a long talk with Sister Brazier who was present at the operation. Whether she was trying to cheer me up or not I do not know, but she assured me that there was hope.
September 25 Saturday: It was the wettest day yet, morning, noon and night, and dark as November. I rang the hospital in the morning. Phyllis was brighter. In the afternoon she had a bad turn when Mrs Stewart was with her, but improved in the evening and seemed quite cheerful when I left. A letter from Hilda came asking for more information. Phyllis told me about John Lake, the organist who used to be friendly with CEG and who sent flowers to AEG for three years after his death. Apparently he went to Lyme Regis, married a teacher, and agreed to be headmaster of a village school, a position for which as a secondary teacher of French he was in no way qualified. He came at cross-purposes with the vicar, involved in the local feuds, and finally drove his motor-car across the top of a cliff, leaving wife and children to contend as best they could. Phyllis sends them a wee present each Christmas.
September 26 Sunday: I got some work done on the review of Fr Martin’s book [Irish historian of the 1916 Rising] – shockingly delayed through one reason and another – and in the early evening went to the hospital and found Phyllis a little better again. She was wondering if the further treatment she was to have was with radium.
September 27 Monday: I was fifty-two this evening, and that I have come into the firing line is only too evident when the bombs start dropping behind. But what did I find on the doormat but a card from Mrs Stewart and another from Phyllis with a birthday present of £25, whch of course she shouldn’t have sent, but must express the way she feels. I rang Aine [Aine Redmond in Manchester]and learned that yesterday’s affair at Manchester went off very well and they had a great time at the Trades Club.
I called in to Phyllis at about midday as Mrs Stewart had rung and said she had a burst pipe(of all things) and could not get out. In the evening I saw her again. She can walk across the corridor unaided now. The specialist who was in said she was now “more normal” and they may have her over in Clatterbridge [Clatterbridge Hospital was on the other side of the Mersey from Liverpool, on the Wirral peninsula but nearer to the Greaves family home in Prenton, Birkenhead] quite soon. The treatment somtimes causes a kind of radiation sickness. I only hope she is not made to feel ill again without result. But if there is no result I suppose she’ll feel ill anyway. So the two alternatives are sickness with hope and sickness without. She has a great reputation as a good patient. She shows tremendous strongmindedness and powers of organisation. She has a notebook with pages marked alphabetically and notes, though writing is still an effort, the various people she must write to and who have sent flowers so that she can thank them afterwards. And she sends out duplicated bulletins (I must enquire who does them for her!) to her friends without disclosing her whereabouts. She is of the opinion that the exclusion of visitors, arranged with Sister Brazier at the start, has been a blessing.
Mabel wrote her another very sensible letter which pleased her. She had a card from Mrs Threlfall, Hetty Brown, who is nearly 90 and lives in an old people’s home. She and her husband decided to sell up and move into the home. A builder who came to do a small job learned of the proposal. “How much do you want for the house,” asked the small businessman. “Well, we paid £2000 for it,” she said sweetly. “I’ll give you £2000 for it,” said he. “Oh, dear me”, said Hetty,”that would mean we’ve had the use of it free all these years.” “Never mind,” said the scoundrel, “I’ll do it up and invite you to see it when it’s finished.” He did not invite them and of course the house was worth £5000, being in Ullet Road. And so the sharks gobble people. According to Phyllis Captain Brown moved into Harland Road and the first person Hetty spoke to was CEG [his father], for whom she always had a soft spot because he lent her a bicycle pump. That is why she is so fond of Phyllis. But Threlfall, who died a year or two ago, was a great socialist. She was a great friend of Mary Greaves, and I think I am right in saying that the husband of her other friend, Captain Dunn, was on the same steamship line.
The weather was fine and sunny, though cool, and the first sunflower opened in the front garden. What a season!
September 28 Tuesday: I saw Phyllis for a few minutes at midday and again in the evening. The announcement is that she moves tomorrow and she is not too pleased.
September 29 Wednesday: I went to Crewe and Derby, sent Phyllis a greetings telegram from Ripley, read the proofs, went through Manchester to Liverpool and after reaching 124 Mount Road rang Clatterbridge. I got through to the Conway Ward. “May I speak to the sister?” Silence. “Hallo.” “Hallo.” “May I speak to the sister” Silence. “Hallo.” “Hallo. Is that the sister?” “No, it’s Nurse Foster.” I knew there was something amiss. “Can she be seen?” “Yes, you can come tonight if you like.” I quickly made an omelette and a cup of tea, had a wait while the taxi was coming up and went out there in ten minutes. When I went into the room – a very pleasant private room approached through a ward where people looking terribly, hopelessly sick were sitting, standing or lying (amazing how one’s sympathy is all for one’s own! There is none left for the others – indeed I wish they weren’t there as they may frighten Phyllis) – I found her in bed. She broke into tears and told me of her experiences. The journey was long and uncomfortable, the ambulance an hour late. When she was brought in on a stretcher a “sister” was available to receive her. The stretcher was placed on the ground whereupon the “sister” from her full height declaimed, “We’ll have no stretcher cases here. Can’t you walk?” Phyllis explained that she could do everything but get out of bed. “Oh, You have to help yourself here,” declares the battle-axe. Then she was left till I arrived with nobody even to ask how she was. She has to go to the toilet quite frequently owing to the bladder trouble. They objected to providing her with a bell. By the mercy of providence Mrs Stewart was there and put her foot down, so they fitted it. She had some treatment, and she likes the Dr Dawson who gave it. I think it was the humiliation of the treatment by this bitch which upset her. Now while I was there the night nurse came in and seemed a nice person. I asked her if it could be said of the sister that her bark was worse than her bite. The nurse seemed to think there was plenty of bark and would not commit herself about freedom from bite. However as I left the night sister came in and I introduced myself and shook hands with her as you shake hands with a social inferior when you wish to pay them a compliment. She bit. Then I told her that Phyllis was the headmistress of one of the biggest schools in Liverpool, and that she was hoping to start a much bigger job looking after several schools (which indeed she was invited to apply for) and that she was so disappointed at not being able to do it (she didn’t care a damn) that it had made her value privacy and consideration more than anything. They were suitably impressed with her importance. Then I said I wanted some latitude on visiting hours as I had come all the way from London. She thought this would be in order. When I got back I telephoned Mrs Stewart and told her the lies I had told the sister. She was shocked but then classified them as “white” lies – later she said she was a Christian woman. Thus she could not deliberately set out to deceive and call a lie a lie! But she has written to Phyllis’s doctor. I then spoke to Jean Hack, the nurse next door, and she told me that nurses who upset patients are liable to severe reprimand. Well, I am not a Christian man, and any damage to the status of the good “sister” that is necessary for Phyllis’s well-being will be done, as effectively as possible, and without hesitation. What befalls the unfortunate National Health patient, heaven knows. I thought the best course would be to have a word first with Phyllis’s general practitioner.
I spoke with Sean Redmond later. He said the Labour Party conference was a triumph for imperialism, and the exhibition of the “left” was woeful.
September 30 Thursday: I found Phyllis’s doctor’s name and rang and found the line engaged. Then Mrs Stewart rang saying she had asked if she could visit Phyllis this afternoon. The answer was in the affirmative. She talked of “making bridges” and diplomacy. I was a wee bit impatient with her, but nothing much. Phyllis was terribly upset at the lack of provision of vases for her flowers. I said I would buy some. Mrs Stewart was somewhat cool over the idea and “not wanting to interfere”, advised me not to. However I rang Dr Spence’s house, and found the number of the surgery, and I told him what had happened.
“You spoke with Dr Hirsch?” he half enquired. “Well, you know the position. The prospects are not good.”
“Then,” I replied, “every minute that my sister has left must be made as tolerable as lies within human power.” If she recovers, then better still.
He assented. But what could we do? Could we get her in a hospital in London? Or if she came home what about the help? What did I want him to do? I replied, to visit her and use his influence for an improvement. So he said he would. I then got the vases, and some chicken which I cooked and packed in a plastic dish, and some flame-coloured roses to replace those she had taken away, and at lunch-time called a taxi and took out with me Mrs Stewart. When we reached the ward we found Phyllis in great form. The sister had given the nearest thing to an apology she was capable of, and all the nurses had been in saying what an auld bitch she was. The night nurse had passed on about who she was. Then Councillor TK Williams of the Liverpool Labour Party had rang up enquiring for her. More flowers arrived. And since her room is just opposite the sister’s office she heard three times the details, non sotto voce, of a dreadful schemozzle which had taken place. One of the nurses had allowed a patient to go home in error. His doctor was walking round the ward with the sister and came upon the empty bed. Rounding on the sister he declared it was the worst ward in the hospital and she was telling the nurses, who are in great awe of her, what she was going to say when he complained to the matron. Phyllis was in high spirits and we all laughed heartily at the situation. For now the sister wants “no disturbance here, and long may it continue – oh!”
I stayed a few minutes after Mrs Stewart but caught her up at the bus stop. She is quick-talking kindly woman and she told me how Phyllis had spent years and years never thinking of herself but working for other people. She was reproaching herself for not insisting on a medical examination after Phyllis first began to feel pains. She said Phyllis thought it would all be in the book, and thus her strong intellect was her misfortune because in this field it was not allied to experience. I went to the St George for a meal. Then I decided I must see her again, so took the bus back to Clatterbridge and spent an hour there. She was in even better spirits. There had been the greatest volte-face she ever saw. They were bringing covers on all the food, offering her a choice of meals, coming to see if she was enjoying it, providing a chair to push her to the radiography room without complaint, and giving her VIP treatment. She in turn has displayed her wad of “get well” cards, dropped casual remarks about her “country cottage” and used the only weapon she has very effectively, and to give her full due she never speaks without deploring the way the unfortunate ordinary patients must be treated.
I find when I am with her I can be gay enough, but get a bit depressed when I get back to the house. If possible I will try to work in the day, letting Mrs Stewart go in the afternoon. I will go each evening. Phyllis invited Elsie for tomorrow. She referred to our conversation in London. If I had then insisted, “go to a doctor at once” she would have gone without delay. But what is the use of talking? I was with her too short a time to think there was anything serious coming on. But she told me also that she had had deep fits of depression during the summer term but put it down to hard work. I wrote to Dr Dawson who is treating her and told him I was staying here to see her through, and added that I wanted to see him.
The rain was coming down heavily when I returned, and to make matters worse I had to take the bus that goes via Dacre Hill and walk thence to the roundabout and up Bedford Drive. Certainly this has been the most deplorable September for years. I rang Elsie and she agreed to go tomorrow.
October 1 Friday (Liverpool): I went to town in the morning and saw Sean Redmond. He thinks the leftwing [of the Labour Party] are thoroughly scattered, but doubts if the law to crush pay-claims will be put into effect. Paul Rose and O’Shaughnessy were talking to Michael O’Leary about the Connolly Association “not being proscribed because it was not worth proscribing” [ie. put on Labour Party’s list of communist organisations, membership of which was incompatible with Labour Party membership]. He said it should dissolve and all its members join the Labour Party. “And what happens if the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster folds up in a year’s time or Rose loses his seat?” asked Michael White, no great enthusiast for us, but clear-headed enough.
In the evening I called up to Elsie and we went to see Phyllis. She was still cheerful but it was a cheerfulness without much confidence. It is as if her faith in her own bodily constitution has gone and she says her best ally is her intelligence. Often her emotions bring her in the direction of tears which she controls. She is too sensitive a soul and her pluckiness is all of the intellect. She is now being properly treated and Dr Spence has been to see her. He is a personal friend of Dr Murray who looks after her. But now another worry appears. She is to have a blood transfusion tomorrow and is of course a little apprehensive. When we got back I rang Jean Hack to ask if she thought I might be allowed to be present. She thought it quite possible, so I shall ring up.
It is strange, Elsie was in the same ward a year ago, undergoing the same treatment, but for a bronchial condition. Not that I’d go Napoleon on the success of the thing; she is coughing all the time. But she has no fear of hospitals. Unlike Phyllis who was never in one till now, she talked about eight she has been in. As quite a young woman she suffered from tuberculosis, from which her elder sister died and she cannot understand Phyllis’s desire for privacy. The rain went on all day.
October 2 Saturday: I telephoned the hospital, was told the blood transfusion was not till Monday, that I could be present, and that the doctor was coming in the morning. I rang Crossvilles and found that there was a bus every half-hour passing the house and stopping at the gate of the hospital. So I decided to handsel the service [by paying for the bus ride] and went out. Phyllis seemed much brighter. She is of course outwardly confident of recovery and said things which indicate the strange effect of sickness on the mind. She said she could not believe she would be so placid. She doesn’t feel “ill” but as if “something has gone wrong with the works”. And she even reached the point where she said she was “not sorry it had happened”. She is strongly urging me to “have a check-up” and says that Dr Murray was interested in the fact that I had had a cyst removed in 1938, and that there had been up to now no recurrence (and may there not be!). So deferential have the nurses become that they brought me up a cup of coffee! I suggested we would get her out to her cottage as soon as she can get into a motorcar, and she told me she thought a Miss Nicholson would do it.
October 3 Sunday: I discovered the Sunday ‘bus schedule was very unpromising. But Jean Hack, who came in to bring some flowers, got her husband to run me out in his car. “Come round the side into Borough Road,” he said. Then he explained, “I’m not speaking to Mrs Marsden and I don’t want her to see you getting into our car.” He then retailed his complaints against this good lady, which included the fact that despite his insistence that she should call him “Fred” she invariably called him “Mr Brown”. And again she is the greatest gossip of the district. For my own part I couldn’t care less if she spent a week talking about my getting into Brown’s car. But there is here both the kindliness and the pettyness of the village. I found Phyllis plotting further actions to secure most-favoured-patient treatment. The male sister who covers the whole ward was back from holiday. She overheard some nurse protesting at the proposal to give her a blood transfusion in her room on Monday. She was very up in arms, but I pointed out that since the sister had stood firm, her interests were secure. But I told him I was going in. But to my surprise I learned the process will take eight hours, so either they are giving her an immense amount of blood, or they are putting it in very slowly. She now complains of swollen ankles again.
I spoke to Mrs Stewart and she also had noted a kind of discontent in Phyllis, which was directed particularly against the sister who had so outrageously humiliated her, but was being kept up to no useful effect, since she had won the battle, as far as it could be won. She would not give these people a sensitivity they did not possess. But she could get them doing their job, and she had done. She said she was glad of a day to relax. Phyllis talks constantly and tires herself. But then she was never a listener. She did not get on with CEG and many wondered why not. This was because AEG was a good listener and CEG was not. They competed for AEG’s attention. So she must be better when she becomes herself, though I notice she loses the thread of a story more easily. She is however in a very shocked and emotional state. “I had to smile when she was telling me her virtues,” said Mrs Stewart, “and said she was a very humble person.” That said Mrs Stewart was the one thing she was definitely not, and when they were both on holiday she would have to stand up very firmly to prevent Phyllis “organising” her. She is indeed a terror for her own way. But I told her that we must humour her in everything, and when the blood-transfusion has taken place, and the continence is relieved, the somewhat gloomy judgement of her surroundings may be modified. But we must protect her from a head-on collision, while she is feeling blue.
I went back in the evening and she had had her deputy there. She was still waging the campaign, and they were plotting to get the matron of Newsham Hospital to enquire after her. I said I thought the campaign had gone far enough, and I think she realized this. She should have been in court on the 14th. One of her staff had tripped on a badly constructed stairway and the F.U.T.[Federated Union of Teachers] were claiming from the Corporation. She was more pleased now as the sister she refers to as ”the bitch” had been telling her she had a sister in Blackpool a teacher (Phyllis listened and made duly acknowledgments) and had examined her, and told her to put her feet up, and that her tomatoes had been brought cut up in a very attractive way. Such are the small items of hospital life. It is quite astonishing. But at the same time I had to take in her Norwegian grammar as she has been learning the language.
October 4 Monday: In the morning I found Phyllis less tired, but worried at the swollen ankles and feet which she has to place on a chair since there are no stools and precious few other conveniences. Thermometers are put under the arm. There are not enough to have them used orally. Last night the nurse was very inattentive and was half an hour answering the bell. She also left her several hours a night, though fully aware that Phyllis can not get out of bed. But she reported to the sister that she had examined the swellings and they were subsiding, which was a direct lie. Another nurse corroborated much of this, and there is no doubt it happened.
I saw Dr Dawson, a man of about 45, very practical and dressed for his radiotherapies. He told me that he counted on curing, not merely upholding, the pelvic condition, which was good, and that he thought he could get Phyllis well enough to leave hospital preferably to go and live with friends. But, said he, “We’re not happy about her. There is likely to be a deterioration, although it will be slow, and it may be delayed.” When I left the hospital after my evening visit she was having a blood transfusion – two pints.
October 5 Tuesday: Again I was at Clatterbridge morning and night. I found Phyllis very tired. The transfusion device had not worked properly and the operation was not concluded till 2.30 am., after which she found it hard to sleep. To add to the difficulties of the situation there were ructions of some kind in the next ward, and a nurse walked out on them. The battleaxe who presided over her arrival is now as sweet as honey, as Dr Allen(the school doctor) and the Matron of Newsham Hospital (one of her Board of Governors) rang up to enquire after her. Phyllis now accepts this deference as her due – but does not see the funny side of the dumping of the headmistress while the underlings argue where she is to go. Mrs Stewart, who has a good sense of humour, gave a retrospective chuckle, but was pleased that Phyllis has now been appeased and had abated her understandable fury. Had it been a broken leg, there would have been no serious side to the incident. But a serious operation requires to be taken seriously. In the afternoon I came to the conclusion that I would hardly get back to Ireland before Phyllis is discharged, and since I need a bicycle I went to the Cycle Exchange in Conway Street and bought a lightweight racing machine in seemingly excellent condition for £12.10. The last two days have been like summer. Before that it had rained for four days running.
October 6 Wednesday: I went to the hospital in the morning and found the most decisive improvement yet. Phyllis can now get out of bed unaided. “But I’m keeping this dark!” she said, because when she is tired in the middle of the night she may not be able to. Some of the pallor has left her, and though she does not feel dramatically better she feels she is improving. She is opposite to the Sister’s office and overhears all the conversations. And now nurses are popping in for a chat with her. One asks her advice over a difficult “teen age” daughter. Another explains that an Indian patient is behaving very curiously, and expresses the suspicion that he has smuggled in supplies of marijuana. Elsie went to see her in the afternoon and I at night.
October 7 Thursday (London): I rang Mrs Stewart and happened to mention Phyllis was talking of inviting her on Monday. “Aha,” says she laughing, “She’s trying to organise me once more. But I’m not having it.” There was a letter from a friend in Hull, saying she stayed a weekend with Phyllis at the end of August and was completely astonished by the sudden severe illness. I replied, and told her I was sure Phyllis would be glad to see her, but not to come rushing across in a panic. I also had a letter from Cathal, and a note in it from Helga, both of whom expressed very warmly their good wishes for Phyllis. They seemed to think I had been some time letting them know she was out of immediate danger; but the time, at most a few days, was so full of alarms and excursions that they flew by. Phyllis can now hardly remember what took place, but she did say, last night, that now she feels she will pull through. I should remember if there was a mischance and she did not, that nobody could have done more.
I went to London via Manchester, the wreckers having cut out the midday train from Liverpool to Euston. Sean Redmond was there and Joe Deighan and Pat Hensey came to the Standing Committee. Nothing very exciting has happened. There was a letter from Tony Coughlan to the effect that Wilson is rumoured to be pressing Lemass to introduce passports for the Irish so as to be able to win his leftwing for his immigration policy. I asked him to try and trace it to its source. O’Leary is trying to get other Labour TDs to demand a general election before the “Free Trade with Britain” pact is signed [ie. the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement]. He was introduced to Wilson at Blackpool, and that second Lloyd George of opportunism told him, “Our two countries are closer together than ever.” There were letters from Nan Green who wanted a quotation from Cathal Brugha for Gallacher’s posthumous volume of memoirs, and from Andrew Rothstein about the meaning of the phrase “legislative independence”. All seem in good form but Robbie Rossiter, who is somewhat erratic.
When I rang Clatterridge I was told Phyllis had had a very comfortable day and that the Sister from the last hospital had been to see her. This may be Sister Brazier, a quite remarkable woman.
October 8 Friday (Liverpool): I went to the shop in Red Lion St. where I had ordered white “formica” for my microfilm reader. This was on about August 18th. It was to be ready on the Wednesday. Sean Redmond called for it on that day and again on the Friday. Now the place is empty and scheduled for a betting shop. My guess is that it was never ordered. Now when I went to London last for a day I had a taxi at the door when the woman of flat No.8 called me and said a roll of photostats from the British Museum had arrived. She went up to get them. They had been too big for the door’s letter box. When she was upstairs she asked the old woman about them. She knew nothing. So I had to return to Liverpool without them. I went to Flat 8 today. The old woman was there. But I am afraid she is suffering from senile dementia. I could get no sense out of her. I came back to Liverpool as last time on the 2.25, and from Rock Ferry took a taxi to Clatterbridge.
I found Phyllis in good form, comparatively speaking. She now can get out of bed easily and I think no longer keeps it dark. Dawson, Murray and another doctor were in to see her and pronounced themselves satisfied for what that is worth. Her old French mistress from the Girls’ Secondary School was in to see her, a Miss Drance, now about 72 and retired. And the sister who came last night was Sister Bethel, who happened to be looking at the radiotherapy but waited a half hour to see Phyllis. She says the result of the sicknes is to make her more childish in her reactions and also to lose the thread of what she is saying, so she keeps notebooks in which she writes down what she must tell her visitors. These are all alphabetically arranged. There have been high jinks. The ward is to be divided into two and it looks as if heads will roll. She is now convinced that the ructions over the wrongly discharged patient took place before she arrived and that she got the backwash of it. She also said she was told that some of the newspapers reported protests against the quality of the food at Clatterbridge. But her appetite is not good enough for her to want me to take her anything in, except grapefruits. She now told me that Dorothy and Renie and Viv [maternal relations] went to stay in Lewis for a “get-together” – amazing, all of them were still alive while not one of that generation of the Greaveses survives – but that Dorothy developed influenza and Mabel had to drive her back to Devon. I hope nothing goes amiss in that quarter while Phyllis is ill.
I omitted to record a curious event that took place this morning. Sean Redmond, Chris Sullivan and I were in St Pancras refreshment room when a tall slightly hangdog character appeared and asked if Sean would have a word with him. We had left a notice on the door saying where we were, so that is how he must have traced us. When Sean returned – Chris Suilivan meanwhile swearing that your man could be nothing but a detective – it was explained to us that he was indeed a detective, but a private detective employed by a very wealthy woman whose hobby was making donations to charity. Some years ago she had donated money to help spastics but had since found that only 40% went for that purpose. Subsequently she had always employed an enquiry agent. Apparently she had seen Tom Redmond on Granada Television about the Manchester Martyrs, and took the impression that the Connolly Association was a charitable organization. Hence the appearance of the detective. Sean assured him we were not, but gave him the constitution, and told him he proposed to forget about it
October 9 Saturday: I went to the city in the morning, looking for some kind of anorak, but found nothing I liked. In Birkenhead I bought a pump which proved too short for the welded-in hollows in the bicycle. I then bought a leg of mutton for the weekend and did a little writing. I felt a cold coming on and had a sleep in the chair, then went out to Clatterbridge. Phyllis looked better, but said she did not feel as well as yesterday. Nevertheless she gets out of bed and in again quite easily, though she keeps up a pretence that it is difficult with the nurses. I took her some unsalted butter, since she says the food is dry. Laura Austin had been in again. Seemingly Dorothy Taylor [a maternal aunt] keeps ringing her about Phyllis but does not write to Phyllis herself!
October 10 Sunday: I took about 14 lbs. of fruit off the apple tree. This with that already collected and that still on the tree should give about 40 lbs, a good crop in comparison with last year’s. Jean Hack came in and said she had seen Phyllis today and she was better and sent the message to me. In the afternoon I went for a short cycle ride. I found the Wirral less damaged than I feared. The gamekeeper’s cottage at the corner of Marsh Lane seems to have gone. The wood behind is now lagely oak, though some of the once predominant pines remain. It is open to the public seemingly and there were couples walking on its paths. On the right of Marsh Lane hay was being harvested and bailed by tractors – I do not remember this in the past. I think it was stooked, even if the base was not the parterre. The little spinney near Landican where the crooked willow tree used to be, has been desecrated. It seems to be being used as a rubbish tip. On the western curved end of Lever Causeway large select company directors’ houses have appeared, but Landican Lane remains the same, and the big stout sandstone farm buildings are still there. On the way to Barnston the road has been widened but I was pleased to see hawthorn being replanted to make fresh hedges. Beyond Barnston station villa residences have been springing up, and the old Barnston Dale pleasure grounds to which excursions were made fifty years ago, were now some kind of army camp. Thornton Hough has a garish Victorian attractiveness when contrasted with the murdered villages of the motormaniac age. I went to Raby Mere and saw not a mere, but a sea of cars. Nowhere did I see young people walking – a few family groups with perambulators. I remember the time you would see thousands. I saw no “cyclist”, but a couple of dozen boys from fourteen to sixteen riding bicycles to get into the country. And of course since the roadside verges and paths have been cut away to make toom for those fools with their stuffy uncomfortable horse boxes, walking has been rendered all but impossible. There are however horses being ridden on the old bridle ways, and I was surprised at the number of hares in the fields. I wonder is it too late for mushrooms? The day was brilliantly sunny but with an easterly breeze with just a slight nip in it.
I went to see Phyllis in the evening. It was right that she was improved, but only half an hour is required to see that she is miles from being herself. Perhaps the most painful thing is to see the failure in confidence. She told me that she lost some confidence in her own health when she had the wee breakdown after CEG’s death and could not sleep, and that I was the only one who talked to her sensibly about it and didn’t make her feel she was in some way “to blame”. She says she is lucky to be alive. I did not contradict this, even if she has to be disappointed yet, she will feel she got something. I wonder if I am right in surmising that Dawson thinks his treatment will cure the pelvic condition from which Hirsch feared rapid deterioration, and that consequently she may get a spell measurable in years with the chance of a slow deterioration. Or is this too optimistic?
October 11 Monday: I did a little work on the book in the day, then called to see Phyllis in the evening. The reorganisation seems to have taken place. The late Lady Mayoress of Liverpool (A Mrs MacMillan I think) came this evening to see her and was brought in by Dr Dawson himself. This with other developments have improved things out of recognition. At the start she was not being offered choices of menu to which she was entitled. Now matters have changed. Mrs Stewart was also there today and she can read her Jane Austen in a normal manner. But she suspected she had four months treatment instead of the normal two today, and that this is because a super-specialist saw her.
A letter from Cathal asked if he could help in any way, and he added he had ordered a goose for me for Christmas. Phyllis had both good and bad news. The Liverpool Archives Society (if I have the name correctly) of which she is I think secretary – there is a certain lack of precision though she talks all the time – held their meeting a few days ago and took up a collection to send her a handsome item of headwear, a kind of shoulder gown. Her deputy brought a booklet, bound by the art teacher, in which every child in the school had drawn her face in coloured crayons. And the same art teacher, recognized as the best in Liverpool, is applying for a job in a training college. So Phyllis fears losing her services. And in one form or another news comes of the dismantling of the Liverpool education system, once the envy of the northwest. The wings of headteachers have already been clipped, and now even the “advisers” who cover a number of schools are being checked and watched. It has not reached the clocking-in system, but the nearest thing to it. It always happens the same way. The run-down at ICI which gave Alan Morton such a bad time showed all the same symptoms, as modern society can produce nothing else in its present form. Phyllis once had 500 pupils. Now she has only 240.
October 12 Tuesday: I would not say Phyllis seeemed to have improved today, though she would not have gone back. The real weakness of the place is that no practice is made of offering continuous nursing attention, and there are none of the little attentions and explanations that allay anxiety. Althea, Elsie’s youngest daughter, came in and told Phyllis she was to be married to the joiner. I did a little work late at night, and wrote to Mrs Stewart inviting her to lunch.
October 13 Wednesday: I felt a little uneasy about Phyllis all day. I noticed last week that the treatment grew less tolerable as the week went by. I went in at 6.45 pm. and found her very downcast and not far from tears. She had had a severe attack of colic in the afternoon which had left her tired out. Yet this morning she had been quite well. She was saying how she never expected to be in this position; and people who smoked and boozed and abused their bodies come to no harm. This is of course just the restatement of the universal maxim that there is no justice in heaven. But earth, where there is a little, is subsidiary to it. However, the night nurse assured us that the feelings she experiences are the transient results of the treatment and since she has only five more, she has done very well. What they told her was that the longer treatment of a few days ago was only apparently so. The machine is uncertain in its workings. I received that for what it is worth. She was talking of cancelling all her visitors of tomorrow night, but I persuaded her not to. How does she know she will not be better tomorrow? The difficulty is that having such an active mind and little to occupy it, she exhausts her nervous energy in endless speculation which leads to no enlightenment. As she says to me, she cannot stand suspense. Mrs Stewart rang in the evening accepting my invitation.
October 14 Thursday: I rang the hospital in the morning and heard that Phyllis had had a much more comfortable night. Mrs Stewart came to lunch, and seemed very pleased with the invitation as she wanted to look for some membership cards of the Liverpool Archives Society, of which Phyllis is not secretary but treasurer. I was remarking on how sickness exaggerates one aspect of personality and now Phyllis is endlessly planning and speculating, but now like Sir Michael Scott’s demon with sand as raw material. She said she had noticed changes in Phyllis over the years. On the one hand she had grown far kinder to her subordinates and went to endless trouble to help them when she saw they were really only weak and not worthless. But also she had become quite conventional. As a headmistress she must look smartness itself. She was still in a sense the rebel, but she lacked a worthwhile cause – on holiday she looked like a tramp and there was still the rebel of old. She was restless and always planning when they were on holiday. “And”, added Mrs Stewart, “That’s one side of her, and then also there’s the splendid side.”
When I got to the hospital in the evening she was far better. The super-super-specialist had been there and had asked why blood tests were not being made every two days. They all pronounced themselves pleased, for what that means, and she has only four more X-ray treatments. Miss Nicholson came. She is more strident, more “successful” than Mrs Stewart, sceptical of doctors’ pretensions and nurses’ airs but without the wisdom of the older woman. She is a headmistress. Mrs Stewart is an honours graduate in history and returned to teaching on the death of her husband, a Unitarian clergyman. But Phyllis opened up curiously in front of her. We were joking about the meal Mrs Stewart had, and how she pronounced the aphelia and souvlakia delicious. “I want to be there,” said Phyllis. “Next time we’ll bring you by helicopter.” She took this suddenly to heart. “Next time” – she thought I meant next time she was in hospital, though Miss Nicholson understood me to mean next time Mrs Stewart came. Then Phyllis told the story of Dr Guthrie. His grandfather was Dr Barnardo of Edinburgh. His two daughters were university lecturers. He was somewhat overloaded and aloof. When AEG died he seemed as if he was just leaving the house when Phyllis asked, “What do I have to do?” He was so upset that he withdrew into himself. Then she said he lived for his practice, and though he kept reducing it he could not tear himself away. At length when he was over eighty he was told he must stop. “He knew the symptoms quite well,” said Phyllis, “but he said, ‘They say it’s only a little anaemia.’ He must have been like the rest of us, deluding ourselves and refusing to face facts.” And therein may lie the explanation of the sudden changes of mood, from “Queen of the hospital” to “poor little thing”. And I suppose I am the same myself. When she is bright I feel the same.
October 15 Friday: In the morning Mrs Stewart rang up, a little worried about whether Phyllis will be comfortable when she goes to stay there. If she has to stay upstairs all day she wants to put in a fresh electric point. I told her not to incommode herself at all, and that I would endeavour to persuade Phyllis not to go there till she was fit, if necessary going to some convalescent institution first, possibly a nursing home. However when I saw Phyllis in the evening, she was all set on Mrs Stewart’s first, but said Clatterbridge had improved so much that she would be prepared to spend longer there than she would have contemplated at the start. But she was scarcely in a state to discuss the matter. Every day she is different. Today the trouble was deep lassitude. She has been asleep a good part of the day. She is paler, too. Yesterday the specialist ticked off one of his underlings for not having blood counts twice a week. Possibly she needs a transfusion. On the other hand it is scarcely possible that X-rays should be concentrated on your tissues without producing poisons. While she was in no pain or discomfort, she was too tired and sleepy to be able to talk to me tonight. I cooked a piece of ham this morning and took her some at her special request – but she was too tired to eat more than a mouthful.
From Sean Redmond I learned that Manchester do not want the Annual Conference on New Year’s Day – perhaps as well, considering how I am fixed.
October 16 Saturday: When I went to Clatterbridge in the evening I found Phyllis much revived, presumably from having the irradiation twentyfour hours behind her. We imagine she will remain there until about the twentyeighth of the month, possibly a little longer.
October 17 Sunday: More than half of this queer month gone. It was like a summer day so in the afternoon after Jean Hack had visited Phyllis taking some books by Robert Louis Stevenson. I went cycling. I passed the gamekeeper’s cottage on the corner of what is called Marsh Lane (I think this name appeared in the thirties) and saw a single storey structure behind the present (quite old) house, which may be the original cottage. The cars drawn up outside the wood, and the sounds of crackling branches and hooliganism told the full story of the destruction of this attractive place. But the woods further south were less damaged, and what were once mere spinneys and thickets further south again had sprouted into passable woodlands. I went to Brimstage and on to the Heswall Hills, thence to Pensby. From there on I could scarcely recognise the place. I knew one building in Irby. The rest was new. Houses and shops were everywhere, with not the slightest attempt to blend with or incorporate in a general scheme the fine red cottages and barns of local stone. Everywhere was the hand of the get-rich-quick and the rat-racer. I found patches of agriculture interspersed with “development”, it being clear that not even the vestige of control existed from 1950 to 1965, and there is merely a threat of it now. Caldy was not so bad, Frankby and Greasby unrecognisable. Arrowe Park was well patronized, and the trees outside the cemetery have grown so that the area increasingly resembles Surrey. Then I turned down Landican Lane – the corner where Boyd used to live is huge flats and houses – and found myself in a different world, the world of rural decay. The lane used to be a broad bridleway which could take two carts. It now consists of a western approach to a farm, and an eastern approach to another farm. Between them is a muddy footpath overgrown with weeds. There were two young women who had never been before traversing it. They called it “the footpath to Storeton”, and two youngsters out for a Sunday walk. At the railway, however, a new pathway will take a cart right along to Barnston Station. Such is the fate of a road that will not take motorcars. Why is there an insufficient rural population to keep it clear? This I soon discovered when I saw the enormous fields that have been made by bulldozing the hedges, and I notice that “Storeton Hill Farms” (presumably a limited company) has its notices over miles of land. Barnston Station, which I went to again from Little Storeton, is closed. The Barnston footpath seemed little used, though a few dozen cars were drawn up at its entrance. A group of youths were trying (unsuccessfully it seemed) to fly model aeroplanes in one of the fields. Others just sat quietly in their cars, basking in the sun of vacant possession. I was out for about three hours.
In the evening once more I went to see Phyllis and found her less sleepy still, but all the same sleepy enough. She has had other visitors during the afternoon and had had to send them away. Unfortunately she thinks she must talk to them.
October 18 Monday: Mrs Stewart was in to lunch again. It seems to be fairly well agreed that when Phyllis comes out she will go straight there, as she is now willing to remain as long as is necessary. Then, I suppose, we keep our fingers crossed. But at 6 pm. she rang to say there were more excitements. The Almoner had come in and Phyllis understood her to be leaving on Thursday. She objected that now Mrs Stewart was talking about marshalling extra electrical heating capacity, and seeing the local doctor and District Nurse, nothing could induce Phyllis to go to a convalescent home first. According to Mrs Stewart she told the Almoner that if she went to a convalescent home she wanted “intellectually congenial company”. She is terrified of being dumped in some place where she cannot talk about what interests her. I rang the Almoner but she had gone. When I got to the hospital it had all changed again. Dr Dawson had been in and assured her that he had a bed in the radiotherapy building which she could have if some urgent case were required here. So the date seems going back towards the 28th. I told Phyllis that I thought she could possibly misuse her energy in endless battles and she should conserve it. But there you have an independent, strong-willed, intelligent but at the same time sensitive character, who is going to war on illness as it manifests itself in the circumstances of illness, and this would not happen if this mixture of mystery and casualness in the medical service did not leave her without guidance upon how to fight on the main front. She told Dawson she must have a private nursing home if she has to leave Clatterbridge before being able to go to Mrs Stewart’s. I have no doubt the lack of proper advice on how to deal with her symptoms (constant diarrhoea, bouts of colic, sharp alternations of temperature and sleepiness) on her own initiative. But she has me fighting the battles over again – if she finds them as tiring as I do, no wonder she’s sleepy. And tonight, to make things nice and convenient, the bus broke down where the road from Spital to Brimstage crosses Mount Road.
October 19 Tuesday (London): I went to see Phyllis in the morning and she was still as bright as yesterday. At times when she is animated she is almost her old self. But when she gets up and walks slowly across the room her face is drawn. She was tired and suggested cancelling the visit of Elsie’s youngster and her fiancé, but I advised her not to. She may not feel tired then, and she can aways lie quietly. I tried to persuade her that it is not necessary for a patient to entertain her visitors.
Then when I was back at 124 Mount Road, didn’t Mrs Stewart ring up full of apologies. Yesterday’s scares had so upset her that she went out to friends for advice and lay awake all night. She says of Phyllis that she says, “I don’t want to burden you”, and then takes the one decision that will burden you more than any other. She has gone to her doctor about having Phyllis on her panel. But the doctor turned on her, told her not to be a sentimentalist, to think of the patient and herself and on no account to have Phyllis there till she had been away for a holiday, and had a certificate from Phyllis’s consultant that she needed no more trained attention. “I belong to a marvellous profession,” said the doctor, “But some of its members are not above applying a little moral blackmail when they want a patient out of the way. Your friend is entitled by law to stay in hospital until she is able to look after herself.” I told Mrs Stewart I entirely agreed with her doctor, both on what should be done and what her profession was like and I urged her to go away at once, and that I would look after Phyllis, whom I believed had moved towards going to a nursing home or convalescent home before going to Mrs Stewart’s, as I had advised from the start. Of course Mrs Stewart’s health is not equal to contending with a sick Phyllis on her hands. A good half of our difficulties, if not more, is of course due to the deficiencies of the health service which treats intelligent people like nincompoops or babies and thus arouses Phyllis’s resentment and determination to pay for better treatment.
I then went to London. Sean Redmond was in the office. The latest is that Marcus Lipton had given an interview to the Daily Mirror which is printed prominently. In it he is alleged to have advocated passports for Irishmen to stop deported criminals returning to the country. Pat Bond was going to a committee meeting. I said that in my opinion Lipton had probably been drinking too much whisky and got carried away when the reporter challenged him. We would oppose the proposal, which Tony Coughlan has already tipped us from Dublin originated with Wilson who hopes to divert on to the Irish the issue of his lousy immigration policy, but leave Lipton a way of escape.
October 20 Wednesday: I worked on the paper most of the day, ringing at 7 pm. and learning that Phyllis was “very comfortable”. I rang the Irish Times for permission to reprint an article. Seamus Pyle [properly Fergus Pyle, later editor of that paper] who used to be in Tuairim London, is features editor or his deputy and was very helpful. He knows Roy Johnston and Des Logan. The Central Branch met in the evening. It goes fairly well, but work is poor. Gerry Curran is of very little use and Eamon MacLaughlin a diversion who does harm. It becomes clear that MacLaughlin’s degeneration was not Barbara’s but his own. Sean Redmond has developed very well and continues to learn. Peter Mulligan and Chris Sullivan are in full swing. Joe Deighan was there – not perhaps his old positive self – but positive enough. He told me that when Dorothy Deighan went to her doctor to ask for a smear test for cervical cancer, the doctor told her she was the first patient who had ever asked for it, and could not tell her the faintest thing about how to get it.
October 21 Tuesday: Most of the day I spent on the paper. A wee card and message came from Phyllis in the morning saying she was comfortable. The evening telephone verdict was “verycomfortable”. Mrs Stewart also had heard from her and she is going away on Saturday for a week. I suggested two weeks. And Phyllis now believes she was the first to think of going into a nursing home before going to Mrs Stewart’s (much to the latter’s kindly amusement) and is in love with the idea. So things gradually sort themselves out. I told Mrs Stewart that while I was naturally grateful for any help Phyllis’s friends gave her, they should not consider themselves as indebted to me, and that I would take responsibility for looking after her until she was able to look after herself, or they could accommodate her without strain. She went so far as to say she felt guilty about withdrawing from her promise to take Phyllis at once. I replied that as soon as it was seen that Phyllis’s illness was much more serious than was at first believed, all such undertakings went by the wall. She then offered to contribute to the cost of the nursing home, which was very kind of her, since she is not on a full pension, but I assured her that Phyllis had plenty of money, which she has.
The Standing Committee was held in the evening, and we decided to try and hold Lipton by not protesting about him, but getting a private letter from a number of his constituents urging him not to carry out his threat of demanding passports for Irishmen in the debate on the Immigration Bill.
Later I rang Alan Morton who was pleased to learn Phyllis was improving. Years ago he used to go cycle rides with her as he tried to get her interested in our politics, but without success. “Teachers are very radical,” she said to me apropos of something else, “but not very courageous.” He thought it possible that we might find some drug or hormone treatment that would reduce the chances of a secondary, and he also said be sure you pay the top price for the very best nursing home available.
I asked how he was enjoying his success. “Success indeed,” he said. Apparently Chelsea Polytechnic which was to have moved out to St Albans to become the University of Hertfordshire, and which apponted Professors and enrolled students in July, was told in September that it was not to move. Since then it has been like Mahomet’s coffin suspended between heaven and earth. “So you’re a professor of a university that doesn’t exist.” “Yes.” “And who’s to blame?” “Crosland.” [ie. Anthony Crosland, Education Secretary in the Wilson Labour Government]. The University Grants Commission meets today and they are trying to get as much as they can, but can’t expect largesse. Regarding David he told me that he was rejected by Liverpool, the first preference, then Manchester, Dundee and by both Guys and the Middlesex, eighteen months ago. All seemed lost when Alan decided to write to Guys and the Middlesex. He wrote a very tactful letter, saying that there had been no room for David last year, but he wondered if there might be by now, if only by some chance. But he did not forget to add, “I fully appreciate the difficulties of selection, as I have to do this myself as I am in charge of an honours school.” He then signed himself Professor Morton! A reply came back next day from Guy’s offering an interview for the day after, and the day after that David was accepted. The day after that again came an offer from the Middlesex which David turned down. So, we agreed, it’s not what you know but who you are.
I was amused by Sean Redmond’s report on Michael O’Leary who was descanting on what “rats” Wilson and others are. “I may have to break off relations with him some day,” declared the possible future Minister for External Affairs. He told Sean that MacAonghusa is of no significance [Proinsias MacAonghusa, journalist and Irish-language broadcaster, then vice-chairman of the Irish Labour Party]. “I have a good mind to try and be Vice-Chairman of the Labour Party myself next year.” The dashing young fellow!
October 22 Friday (Liverpool): The paper was finished in the morning. We learned that what has activated Lipton is concern for the West Indian vote. The West Indians have been complaining bitterly that they are subject to immgration restrictions and the Irish are not. Lipton, the arch-opportunist, believes the Irish vote is safe, but the West Indians (very backward and leftist) are threatening to join the Liberals.
I returned to Liverpool and saw Phyllis. Better again. She is all for going to Ince-Blundell and talks as if she intended to all the time. She also says she always believed Mrs Stewart needed a holiday and urged her to go away. But she is impressed that the doctors said she should go straight to Ince-Blundell and not go home. An additional problem arose. Naturally a woman of her intelligence can pick up scraps of information. A few days ago she listened–in to a lecture to students about the X-ray machine. She asked me this evening whether the tumour that was removed was malignant as she would prefer to be dead than face the whole thing again. I said I didn’t know. Alan Morton also advised this, unless she becomes very pressing. Jean Hack also thought the same. Otherwise every little thing will seem the start of a secondary. If she is one of the lucky ones, why have it hanging over her. If not, it is time enough when the blow falls.
I rang Mrs Stewart to tell her Phyllis said she had found her keys. I learned that she had said Mrs Stewart had them, and when she said she had not, insisted and added something about not having the keys to your own house. Poor Mrs Stewart spent a day searching every drawer and even pulled up the carpets. And Phyllis has them in the hospital all the time. Also Mrs Stewart says Phyllis never said a word about her going away. So how is this explained? Either Phyllis is too ill to remember what she said, or Mrs Stewart (who is slightly deaf) was too distraught to hear it. But now we have the problem of seeing that sound decisions are taken. Jean Hack says that this type of “hospital amnesia” often affects patients after a serious illness. It is necessary to be very understanding. But tonight she was giving me directions as to where to put the bicycle!
October 23 Saturday: In the morning I rang Dr Spence, thanking him for intervening at Clatterbridge and securing the improvement. Then I asked him about a doctor in Larkfield Road and was told, as was to be expected, Mrs Stewart’s family doctor! I decided to leave that in abeyance till Phyllis has been to the convalescent home. Then I said to him that I understood we would know if the pelvic condition was cured or controlled or neither within a few months. He agreed. I then said that my main fear, supposing success so far, was of course a secondary. He agreed. I then made the suggestion that there might be drugs or preferably hormones which could reduce the danger. He agreed, and when I explained I was a biology graduate, he mentioned several he had seen work wonders, but, said he, keep off “H11” as it is no good. He thought that Phyllis’s present advisers would be competent enough to think of these possibilities, and did not think I need worry about the danger of their failing to prescribe. All would be available on the National Health Service. So at any rate I fired a shot.
Then the phone rang. Laura Austin asked could she bring flowers which I would take out. “I haven’t spoken to you for many years,” she said. “No,” said I, “I doubt if it would be a day under fifty” “Fifty indeed!” she exclaimed. “I remember I was fourteen at the time, and that would make me sixty-four, and I’m nowhere near it.” It is forty years! I don’t know what devilment prompted me to the leg-pull. But I chuckled copiously over it. She might be pushing up to sixty.
I rang Phyllis and she came to the phone. Immediately she started telling me what had happened at Clatterridge, not even asking what I phoned for. I could see exactly what it was. The shock of the whole experience has put her “on edge” and talking is the only relief. I asked about a parcel of laundry. She said she had news that Ince-Blundell is very good, which is excellent. When I got out there in the evening (taking a few books I had bought at Phillips’ – Penguin paperbacks she can browse through) I found her less happy than yesterday. The diarrhoea had returned, she believes, because they do not provide her with the proper prescribed diet. Her doctor friend was in this morning and she it was who said the Ince nursing home was the best, and added, “The sooner you’re out of here the better.” This doctor was shocked at the administration’s colluding in bullying a patient to leave in the midst of feeling thoroughly sick. And to make matters worse, the visitor was not the Almoner herself but some little whippersnapper understrapper. She cheered up well enough while I was there, but she is not eating sufficiently and is terribly thin. She assures me that all this emphatic talking does not exhaust her but does her good. But I fear she lives the experience too intensely. She does not relax, but fights every inch of the way. I returned rather more depressed than usual, as she was speaking of feeling “disheartened”.
There was fog in the hollow where the wise men have built the hospital, but no fog by the bus-stop; thick fog on the hill, but none by the house in Mount Road. I made a rough plan of action for the next month or so. But it is impossible to look far ahead.
It is interesting that Phyllis, while recognising Laura Austen’s kindness in bringing the flowers, considered that concern for Phyllis is mingled with inquisitiveness, the desire to know all about Phyllis’s illness and more about myself. But really the sentiment is not so dreadfully ignoble, though it slightly irritated Phyllis, who naturally dislikes being in a position where she arouses such curiosity. The check-up is on November 18th, which pleases her as it was AEG’s birthday.
October 24 Sunday: I saw Jane Hack after as well as before she saw Phyllis. She took her some clothes and took away others. This is for the move tomorrow. She said that Dr Spence was with her, but she seemed tired as a result of diarrhoea. I did manage to do a little work in the morning, but this news disturbed me a little so I went in earlier than usual. There I found her dressed for the first time, and in quite good form despite diarrhoea. She had had a long talk with Dr Spence. His wife is on the management committee of the hospital. He asked what did she think of it. She said unevenness was its main characteristic. Almost every night there is a different nurse. This rationalises shifts and ensures that nobody knows patients’ requirements. Last night the toilets were forgotten till 2.30 am. There were apologies this morning – but the trouble was entirely due to unfamiliar nurses who did not even know what patients were there. The general broilerisation of the whole thing was illustrated by the fact that one man is employed to dust all tables and another to sweep the floor. The table man just sweeps crumbs on to the floor – and tonight a six-foot cobweb hung from the ceiling. The ward has never been cleaned since Phyllis went into it. On the other hand certain nurses, and especially some of the sisters, are excellent.
I realised that she was far more natural tonight, and I take it that the psychological as well as the physical effect of the treatments are wearing off. A nurse brought in lettuce and tomato, which she is forbidden to eat. When she pointed this out the nurse pointed to half an egg and went out slamming the door. But I had taken her some sliced roast beef to follow up the ham I sent through Jean Hack. It is fantastic that they can disobey doctors’ orders regarding food and then say take it or leave it. However she leaves tomorrow.
October 25 Monday: In the morning Phyllis was to have gone to the Radium Institute where a bed was to be available. She was due to leave at 10 am. I rang at 11.30 and she was still there. I went into Birkenhead to make a few purchases and get some money from the bank. As I came though the door at about 3 pm. the telephone rang. The Radium Institute had just admitted her. But she had expected (and been given a doctor’s promise of) a private or “amenity” ward, which was not available at all. So she wanted to come home, Dr Dawson contradicting Dr Edwards and giving permission. That was Dawson out of his difficulty. I hastily put the electric blanket on her bed, bought in some extra food and went to Liverpool Central. There I could get no taxi driver prepared to risk the tunnel at 5.30 pm. I went up to the Radium Institute and found Phyllis sitting fully dressed in Ward 5 – incidentally looking quite smart – surrounded by old people in the last stages of decrepitude, “poor old things” as Phyllis calls them. I had had no food but Phyllis produced some chocolate, which normally I do not eat. Then at 7 pm. the Institute rang for a taxi and we went first to Grange Road West for some brandy (for me, as I have a sore throat and slight temperature) and then to 124 Mount Road. Jean Hack and her husband were getting into their car. Jean came in and helped Phyllis up the stairs, a long process, and she went to bed.
Then I heard the story. It seems that the Clatterbridge bunch excelled themselves. Dawson had told me that Phyllis was to leave on the 29th. She was told this at the Women’s Hospital. But the bed was wanted. Edwards and a young understrapper tried to bully her into leaving, but could not suggest any place to go to. She got in touch with friends and compiled a list of six or seven places, choosing Ince Blundell Hall, run by the nuns. The matron of the Women’s Hospital wrote and put this first on the list. From Clatterbridge there was nothing. When Phyllis demurred about leaving, Edwards descended to another subterfuge. He told Sister Beswick that it was her duty to persuade Phyllis she was much better and should leave. So in comes my woman with, “My dear, how well you look now. You are quite well enough to go to a convalescent home.” Yet it was their duty to see she was nursed, and she would have gone back to the Women’s if she had been able to book.
She had lunch brought at 1 pm. The ambulance arrived at 1.15. She complained that she was waiting 3¼ hours. The driver apologised and said 20 drivers had left and gone to Fords in the past few weeks. Why? Is it the pay? No, it is the way we are treated – too much work, incompetence of administative staff, and complaints from patients justifiably angry. She was not even helped out of the hospital. Nobody saw her off. The ambulance driver went ahead with her luggage, and she made the longest walk since her operation amid total indifference on all sides. The ambulance driver, noticing that she was far behind, then came back to assist her.
But back in the City everything changed. The Radium Institute – being closed down under the broilerization programme – were as concerned and helpful as Clatterbridge was barbarous. When she explained she wanted a private ward they tried to find her one. Then they rang the Women’s and other hospitals. Finally they got Dawson’s permission for her to come home. The amazing thing about Clatterridge is that though she was ordered a diet to prevent diarrhoea, she could not get it!
However I was pleased at the upshot. As we went through Great Charlotte St. in the taxi she chortled with pleasure at seeing the shop windows. ”I feel like a person again,” she said, “not just a body.” And she almost cried with joy when she was back in the house, eating civilised food and being addressed in a proper manner.
October 26 Tuesday: Most of the day was spent looking after Phyllis. At lunchtime she enjoyed food in a normal way for the first time since the operation. I had ham, and fresh salmon, and roasted a duck. She became even more herself and in the evening was showing me her clothes and telling me what she will wear for Anthea Pentaton’s wedding. Anthea came in and cut her hair; her fiancé Eric turned over the car and promised to do it again for her. Jean Hack came in; one or two friends telephoned, and I found out from the Radium Institute and Ince Blundell about tomorrow’s appointment, and I booked the taxi from Murphy’s. At about 9.30 pm. a CID man called saying that Phyllis had been picked for jury service. I assured him it was out of the question and that if he had called tomorrow she would be in hospital. “In that case,” said he, “that’s easy. I’ll put tomorrow’s date on this paper, and so she’s in hospital.”
October 27 Wednesday: After breakfast the taxi arrived and took Phyllis and me to Ince Blundell Hall, an old rambling mansion set among the woods. The driver was excellent and Phyllis enjoyed the trip, which was good. There is a chapel attached. A very pale sister (in the religious not the medical sense) welcomed her in the library. She was Irish and it was possible to talk with her. I left Phyllis there, both of us feeling fairly confident she would be comfortable. The driver then brought me back to 124 Mount Road. His name is Diamond and he is the personal chauffeur of Scott of Scott’s Supermarkets. Scott is abroad for a few months of each year and during that period Diamond works part-time for Murphy. As for Scott his main bête noir is compulsory purchase orders, which ruin his speculative real estate investments. He lives in a huge house on Thurstaton Hill. He is one of those who have made a suburb of West Wirral. Diamond was deferential, efficient, obliging – and completely accepting the world he lived in.
October 28 Thursday: I got on with Chapter 8 during the day and finished the economic section. At 5 pm. I went to the bus station at Skelhorne Street, and caught the 6 pm. which left at 6.15 – having been delayed by the tunnel queues, for which the motor-mad Government is proposing another two-lane tunnel as a remedy! Happily I had provided myself with an electric lamp with which to cross the dark underpath across Ince-Blundell grounds. I was shown up to the top floor by an aged priest, a patient, with an Ulster accent. Everybody seems to be Irish. And I found Phyllis in her bedroom. She shares this with Mrs Crawford, who is not ill, but waiting to leave for South Africa after losing her husband. She is 77 and looks 69, and moves about briskly and has told Phyllis all the workings of the place. She is of course very devout and goes to every service. The only snag is that she snores – Phyllis being the lightest sleeper on earth wakes up at the scratch of a pin.
The moment I saw Phyllis I recognized the improvement. It was as if several years had been taken off her. She is completely content and delighted with all the little attentions, and the fact that (as today) she can telephone. She thought the two days at home were useful as providing the first food she enjoyed eating and made a psychological break. Clatterbridge and the previous period seems like a bad dream that is now over. The two days at home made her feel a person again, and not a “case”. The most trying thing she found at Clatterbridge was the assumption that a badly sick person loses his mental faculties. The physiotherapist taking her to practise on stairs told her to “look at the lunatics”! But now she is allowing her mind to turn over the possibilities of the check-up at Clatterbridge on November 18th, and I on my part am silently wondering how to find out the full facts in time, and how to take the initiative for any prophylactic treatment that may be necessary. I spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone.
October 29 Friday: I got little done today but went to Ince-Blundell in the evening once more, and found Phyllis further improved, and not walking quite so stiffly and more quickly. She certainly looked better. Naturally she is very worried about her future, without her knowing what I know. “This has scared me stiff!” she told me, and she wondered if she would ever be in complete health again. I have encouraged her in the belief, which it was not necessary to implant, that she is lucky to be alive at all. Then if Dawson has done the short-term trick, we can look at the further prospects then. She is getting on famously with the nuns, and she knew all about the fire in Dublin, which I had not seen on the “Times”. There was a friendly letter from EWG (Mrs Campbell) who is back in Cranwell after a holiday in France. Phyllis says she is somewhat cynical of her offers of health as she and I are likely to die without issue. Which minds me a will must be made, if only to safeguard the literary side. From Mabel I learned that her youngest daughter Diana has been in hospital two weeks for a gall-stone removal operation.
October 30 Saturday: I managed a little more work on Chapter 8 – surely the most difficult in the book as it tackles the fundamentals of the resurgence of 1917-19. In the evening I found Phyllis further improved, with a little colour, and proud of having walked up and down six stairs. But she is disturbed about her work. She says that the school is one of those still scheduled for gleichschaltung [integration/assimilation], and the Corporation have promised that Head Teachers will not lose pay. But what they are doing is running down the attendances so that Phyllis has dropped two grades. Then by the time they pay heads for ordinary teaching work they will have got them down to the lowest possible level. She does not even like to think of school. She finds being a head interesting and enjoys administration. She was even wondering whether to go on to pension even at a low level and find some other occupation. This might even conceivably be the best depending on her health.
October 31 Sunday (London): Just before I left in the morning Jean Hack called in to say she was going to visit Phyllis this afternoon. I caught the 2.10 and went a tour of Lancashire before crossing the Mersey at Warrington and getting to Crewe. We arrived very late but I was in the office before Sean Redmond and Charlie Cunningham, both of whom asked kindly about Phyllis. I was pleased with Sean as he assumed he was going selling alone and explained when I volunteered to go with him that he was sure I would be tired after all the excitements. They are certainly keeping everything going very well. There are signs of growth in Oxford and Hull and about £35 for the development fund from which we hope to get an additional organiser, possibly Peter Mulligan, who is in Ireland.
There are various changes rumoured. After his accident they say R. Palme Dutt is retiring from the E.C [The CPGB Executive], but not from politics if I know him. He came into collision with his wardrobe and had his neck in a plastic construction. I hope it was not a slight cerebral haemorrhage. Kerrigan also, rumour has it, is not going up again. I don’t think I remarked that Claude Porter died. As you get older, of course, the slaughter increases every year. Idris Cox is back again at work two days a week after two operations both for cancer in one year. So he has the secret of survival.
At Hull Sean Redmond was with the Sheridans. Apparently Sheridan now has his “mistress” in Hull but lives at home most of the time. Maire presumably suffers it for the period she has the children. Afterwards we shall see. I imagine that Sheridan’s sudden decision to do something for the Connolly Association is intended as a counterbalance to the opinion which is held of him in Finglas Park. By all accounts Eamon MacLaughlin is persisting in his intention of presenting his “play”(described by “The Stage“ as “gruesome”) at the Anson Hall every day of Easter Week next year[that being the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising, which was a theme of the play]. When he asked Charlie Cunningham to come to a rehearsal he replied that he had his washing to do.
(c. 72,000 words)
DESMOND GREAVES JOURNAL, VOLUME 16, INDEX
1 January – 31 October 1965
– Assessments of others: 1.15, 1.19, 2.5, 2.7-8, 2.11-13, 2.15,16,2.20,
3.13, 3.18, 3.29, 3.30, 4.2, 4.23, 4.25-26, 5.24, 6.2-3, 6.20, 7.2, 7.4, 7.17, 7.22, 7.29, 8.12, 9.21, 9.6-7, 9.9, 9.14, 9.16-17, 9.21,9.27, 9.29, 10.3, 10.14, 10.18, 10.21,10.27
– Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 1.15, 2.4, 3.27,
3.29, 4.23, 5.24, 6.20, 6.29, 7.21, 10.11, 10.17, 10.21
– Civil Rights Campaign on Northern Ireland: 1.14, 2.13, 3.1, 3.13, 4.23,
5.8, 5.17, 5.24, 6.3, 7.11
– Family relations: 1.17, 4.17, 9.11, 9.17, 10.1,10.3, 10.8
– Holidays/cycle tours: 1.31, 2.27-28, 3.5-11, 8.13, 10.10, 10.17,
– Ireland, public attitudes and assessments of trends in: 2.5, 2.7-8, 2.10-
– Mellows research: 1.18-3.2, 3.24-26, 3.30-4.1, 4.14-15, 4.21, 5.12,
5.19, 5-28, 9.1-10
– National question: 3.29
– Self-assessments: 1.17, 2.22, 3.18, 3.29, 5.29, 7.2, 7.4, 9.16-17, 9.27,
Organisation Names Index
– Campaign for Democracy in Ulster (CDU): 3.17, 4.26-27, 5.24, 5.26-27,
6.2, 6.20, 6.23, 7.1, 7.11, 8.8
– Campaign for Social Justice: 3.13, 4.22, 5.27, 6.2
– Clann na hEireann: 2.16, 4.18, 4.24-25, 6.2-3, 6.6, 7.12, 7.14, 7.20,
– Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 1.1, 1.5, 1.11, 1.15, 1.19,
2.20, 3.1,4.5, 5.4, 5.20-21, 5.23-24, 6.25, 7.2
– Communist Party of Northern Ireland CPNI): 1.22
– Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 1.5, 1.10, 1.14-15, 2.13, 3.1,
3.12, 3.17-18, 4.8, 4.20, 4.23-24, 5.24, 5.27-30, 6.2, 6.20, 7.6,
7.8, 7.21, 10.1,10.8, 10.19, 10.21
– Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement: 2.25
– Irish Workers Party (formerly Irish Workers League): 1.22, 5.11, 5.23,
8.11-12, 9.1, 9.3-4
– Labour Party (British): 1.2, 1.9, 1.11, 1.14, 1.16, 3.28, 5.26-27, 6.2,
6.12, 6.23, 6.29, 7.4, 7.11, 9. 29, 10.1, 10.7, 10-.21
– Labour Party (Irish): 4.25, 5.15-16
– Labour Party, Northern Ireland: 3.13
– Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF): 1.11, 1.15-16, 3.27-28
– National Council for Civil Liberties: 1.14, 2.16, 3.12-13, 4.22-24, 7.6
– Nationalist Party, Northern Ireland: 1.14
– Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalist Party): 3.29, 5.29
– Sinn Fein/IRA: 1.26, 2.14, 2.16, 3.12, 3.29, 4.2, 5.12, 5.15-17, 6.2-3,
6.17- 18, 7.20, 8.11-12, 8.29, 9.1, 9.3, 9.14
– Trotskyite and far-left organisations: 4.5-6, 4.23, 4.25-26, 5.10, 5.29,
6.22, 7.21, 9.2, 9.16-17
Personal Names Index
Argue, Jim: 1.9, 5.24, 5.26-27, 5.30, 6.2, 8.8
Arnot, R. Page: 3.29
Ayling, Ronald: 9.17
Barr, Andy: 5.8
Barry, Tom: 2.9
Beauchamp. Kay: 1.5, 5.4, 5.21, 5.24, 6.1, 6.25, 7.4
Behal, Richard: 6.3
Bennett, Jack: 1.30, 6.17
Blythe, Ernest: 1.27, 6.22
Bowman, Dave: 4.5
Brennan, Seamus: 1.29
Briscoe, Bob: 1.26
Brockway, Fenner (Lord): 1.11, 1.16, 4.21, 5.27, 6.2, 6.20
Browne, Noel, Dr: 2.25
Brugha, Cathal: 2.13
Buchan, Norman MP: 3.17, 6.2
Byrne, Paddy Cllr.: 3.17, 5.26
Carmody, Paddy: 5.6, 5.23
Carroll, Tim: 4.24
Casement, Sir Roger: 1.27
Caughey, Sean: 1.14, 1.30, 3.12, 3.13, 5.8, 5.15, 6.17-18, 7.20
Clancy, Paddy: 6.22
Clarke, Mrs Tom: 2.8
Clements, Sonia: 4.23
Clifford, Brendan and Angela: 4.25, 5.10, 5.29, 6.8, 8.6
Cohen, Jack: 6.30, 7.2, 8.6, 9.14
Collins, Michael: 2.1, 2.13, 2.25
Connolly, James: 5.16
Cooley, Mike: 1.15, 5.30
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 1.29, 2.2, 2.27-28, 3.2, 4.2, 5.11, 5.14-16,
6.18, 7.15, 7.23, 7.31, 8.4, 8.9, 8.17, 8.19, 8.21, 8.25, 8.27,
8.29, 9.22,10.7, 10.20
Cox, Idris: 1.5, 1.19, 4.5, 6.2, 6.30,10.31
Craig, Malcolm: 2.12, 4.24
Cronin, Sean: 1.29
Cullen, Alice MP: 6.2
Cunningham, Charlie: 3.16, 3.20, 4.16, 4.25, 6.10, 6.16, 8.20,10.21
Curran, Antoinette (Toni): 1.10
Curran, Gerard: 3.1, 6.8, 9.21
Currie, Austin: 3.13
Dalton (Daltun, aka. McQuaid), Liam:4.26, 5.29, 6.22, 6.27, 7.10, 7.12,
Deighan, Joseph: 1.2, 1.5, 1.14, 3.18, 4.8, 5.4, 5.6, 7.22,10.20
Delargy, Hugh MP: 3.13, 5.27
Despard, Mrs Charlotte: 7.2
De Valera, Eamon: 9.10
Devine, Pat: 7.2, 7.12
Digges, Alec: 7.29
Donovan, Jim: 2.22
Dore, Eamon: 2.8
Dowling, Sean: (See O’Dowling)
Duff, Charles: 6.30
Duggan, Canon: 2.8
Durkin, Tom: 1.5, 3.13
Dutt, R. Palme: 1.5, 1.19, 5.24, 7.4, 7.6, 10.31
Eber, John: 1.11, 1.15, 3.27-28
Ede, Chuter MP: 6.23
Edwards, Frank 1.23
Edwards, Sean: 7.4
Egan, Bowes: 3.13
Egan, Tadhg: 5.12, 5.15
Ennals, Martin: 1.14, 3.13, 3.15, 4.22-23, 7.6
Fallon, Gabriel: 9.17
Farrington, Brian: 6.22
Feehan, Tadgh: 4.25
Fitt, Gerry MP: 6.17, 6.19-20
Floud, Bernard MP: 6.2
Flynn, Philip: 4.25,
Foley, Denis: 5.16, 8.12
French, Sid: 3.18
Furlong, Walter: 2.10
Gallacher, Wilie: 6.20
Gill, Tom (Tomás MacGiolla): 3.13
Gollan, John: 7.4
Gordon-Walker, Patrick MP: 1.16
Goulding, Cathal: 1.20, 1.26, 2.23, 3.13, 4.2, 5.15-16, 8.12
Gray, Malachy: 7.5
Greaves, Phyllis: 1.15, 4.10, 8.12, 8.24, 9.11, 9.14, 9.16, 9.27,
Gwynn, Denis: 2.8
Hamling, Bill M.P.: 3.1
Harmel, Michael: 1.1,1.5, 5.29
Heatley, Bobby: 4.11
Hensey, Pat: 4.23, 4.25, 7.11
Hobson, Bulmer: 2.8
Hostettler, John: 7.4
Johnston, Mairin: 2.25, 3.2, 9.14
Johnston, Roy: 1.29, 2.25, 3.2, 4.2, 5.15, 8.3, 8.11-12, 9.1-3, 9.10, 9.14
Jordan, Stephen: 2.2
Kavanagh, Denis: 5.19
Keating, Justin: 5.11
Keating, Loretta; 5.11
Keating, May: 5.11
Kelly, Frank: 2.25
Kenny, Sean: 5.15-17, 6.2-3, 7.20
Kerrigan, Peter: 3.29
Lalor, Gabriel: 4.24
Lawless, Gery: 4.25-26, 5.1, 5.10,5.15, 5.29, 6.20, 6.27, 7.12, 7.14, 8.6,
Lemass, Sean: 9.3
Leonard, Tom: 7.8
Lipton, Marcus MP: 7.11,10.19, 10.21-22
Logan, Desmond: 4.19, 8.9, 8.29, 8.31
Lynch, Liam: 9.7
Macardle, Dorothy: 2.9, 2.13
MacAonghusa, Proinsias: 9.1, 10.21
Mac a’Bheatha, Proinsias: 2.7, 2.12
McCartney, Jim: 3.13,4.13, 4.22-24
McCluskey, Dr Con: 3.13, 6.2
McCluskey, Patricia: 3.13, 4.22, 5.27, 6.2
McCullough, Denis: 2.8
MacGiolla, Tomas: See Gill, Tom
MacInerney, Michael: 2.9, 7.21
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 1.20, 5.11, 5.15, 8.12-14, 9.1
MacLaughlin, Barbara: 8.21, 8.28
MacLaughlin, Eamon: 6.7, 8.12, 8.26, 9.21,10.31
McMillen, Art: 5.8,
MacNeill, Eoin: 2.8,
MacSwiney, Paul: 3.2
Mahon, John: 4.5, 5.4, 5.6
Martin, Eamon: 1.28, 2.22
Martin, Fr Xavier: 2.8, 9.26
Massey, Joe: 9.9
Marx, Karl: 6.13
Meade, Tony: 5.17, 8.12
Meek, Bill: 9.4
Mitchell, Sean: 2.9
Molloy, WiLliam MP: 6.20
Moore, Hughie: 2.20, 5.8, 9.4
Mordaunt, Major Ned: 8.30
Morrissey, Julia: 2.23
Morrissey, Sean: 5.8
Morton, Prlofessor Alan G.: 9.20,10.11,10.21-22
Mulcahy, General Richard (Dick): 1.29, 2.23
Mulligan, Peter: 3.11, 3.13, 6.20, 8.25, 8.27
Murnaghan, Sheila: 3.13
NicLiam, Bébhinn: 9.1
Nolan, Sean: 1.22, 2.20, 2.23, 4.24, 5.10, 5.12, 8.11
O’Casey, Sean: 9.17
O’Connell, JJ: 2.8
O’Connor, Joe: 1.5, 4.5-7, 5.10, 5.23
O’Connor, Peter: 2.13
O’Dowling (neé Timbey), Elsie: 7.2, 7.28-29
O’Dowling, Sean: 6.30, 7.2, 7.29
Ogden, Eric MP: 6.2
O’Leary, Michael TD: 3.2, 5.16, 9.14, 10.1, 10.7, 10.21
O’Malley, Cormac: 8.6, 9.1
O’Malley, Ernest (Ernie): 9.1, 9.3, 9.6
O’Neill, Andy and Patrick: 4.2, 5.10
O’Neill, Professor Tom: 9.10
Orbach, Maurice MP: 6.20
O’Regan, Jim: 2.8-10, 6.18
O’Riordan, Michael: 1.22, 2.3, 2.23, 4.5, 5.10, 5.12, 9.4
O’Shaughnessy, Bill: 5.24, 5.26-27, 6.2, 6.20, 6.23, 7.1, 7.11, 10.1
O’Shea, Betty (Dr Elizabeth): 5.23
O’Shea, Fred: 1.5, 2.13, 6.20, 9.21
O’Sullivan, Chris: 10.8
O Tuathail, Seamus: 5.11
Owens, Ben: 7.21
Page, Ian: 3.28
Parker, Bill: 7.13
Pierce, Bert: 3.29
Powell, Pat: 5.23
Prendergast, Jim: 1.5
Purdie, Malcolm: 4.23-24
Pyle, Fergus: 10.20
Redmond, Aine: 9.19, 9.27
Redmond, Sean: 1.3, 3.1, 3.12, 3.18, 3.26, 4.5, 4.23, 4.25, 6.2, 6.19, 7.5, 8.11-12, 8.25, 9.14-17, 9.23, 10.8, 10.31
Rose, Paul MP: 3.17, 5.27, 6.2, 6.20, 10.1
Rossiter, Bobby: 1.5, 4.23, 6.8, 7.31, 8.8
Rothstein, Andrew: 5.20, 5.24, 10.7
Ruane, Tony: 5.15
Rudd, Joy: 6.22, 7.9
Russell, Sean: 9.6
Sally, Jim: 7.21
Savage, Jim: 2.9
Shields, Jimmy: 1.15, 7.2
Shinwell, Emmanuel MP: 6.23
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 3.12
Stewart, Bob: 7.2
Stewart, Jimmy: 5.8
Stewart, Mrs: 9.18, 9.29-30, 10.3, 10.7, 10.14, 10.19, 10.21-22
Tate, Jane: 7.29
Taylor, John: 3.13
Twomey, Moss: 9.1
Vyze, Mrs Joe: 2.16
Ward, Patrick Joseph: 2.1
Whelan, Pax: 2.13, 3.4
White. Alfred: 4.1
Williams, J. Roose: 3.29, 5.4
Wilson, Harold MP: 1.9, 1.11, 1.14, 6.29, 10.7, 10.19, 10.21
Woddis, Jack (Hillel): 3.16, 3.18, 5.4, 5.20
Yeats, WB: 6.22