1 Sept. 1969 – 31 May 1970
THEMES: British leftwing attitudes to the Nigerian Biafran war – Resentment at encouragement of “branches” in Britain by NICRA and the Campaign for Social Justice – Criticism of the pre-split Goulding-led Republicans – Holiday hostelling in Wales and the destruction of the traditional countryside there – Editing and writing a modern Epilogue to T.A. Jackson’s history, “Ireland Her Own” – Conversations with Roy Johnston on rising tensions within Republicanism following the August 1969 events in Belfast – Consideration of factors that went into the foundation of the NICRA – Reminiscences of Liam Mellows by Dr Teresa O’Shea from Killeeneen – Czechoslovakia and Scotland as issues at the 1969 CPGB congress – Impressions of Gerry Fitt, Bernadette Devlin, Eamon McCann, Michael Farrell – Fiona Connolly’s papers of her father and reminiscences of Countess Markiewicz – Comments on a Republican-Communist “National Liberation Front” – Preliminary research for a memoir of Sean Murray – “Irish Times” political correspondent Michael McInerney on the early days of the Connolly Association – Effects of the 1970 Republican split between “Provisionals” and “Officials” – Attending the Irish Labour Party annual conference and the unification conference in Belfast of the CPNI and Irish Workers Party, establishing the CPI – Conversation with Cathal Goulding on the Republican split – Difficulty in inducing British Labour movement organisations to take up the Irish question in a sensible fashion – Connolly Association-initiated petition campaign by Irish organisations in Britain on Greaves’s Bill of Rights as an alternative to “direct rule” from London – Resignation of CA General Secretary Sean Redmond and Greaves’s taking on the CA organisational work for a period while seeking to revamp the “Irish Democrat” – The Harold Wilson Government’s revival of Britain’s application to join the EEC as “threatening to alter the whole basis of European politics as they have been”(entry for 22 April 1970)
September 1 Monday (Liverpool): I spent the evening – what was left of it – writing letters. I wrote to Frank Watters [CPGB official in Birmingham] offering to call there frequently. He made some complimentary references to myself last evening – it is strange it gives me not a scrap of pleasure now – and may possibly cooperate if the references were meant. I told Sean Redmond and Joe Deighan about the proposals made in Birmingham to come to Brighton and for a lobby in the autumn. I have called the Democracy Committee for September 16th, and I wrote to Toni Curran regarding finance.
September 2 Tuesday: I started work on some additional bookshelves for my study so that the chaos can be ordered and I can start on TA Jackson’s book.
September 3 Wednesday: I completed the new bookshelves and cleared up the room – or at least got it manageable.
September 4 Thursday: I telephoned Sean Redmond in the morning. He told me that there was much lively discussion at the branch last night [The Connolly Association Central London branch, which was the principal one in London]. Charlie Cunningham was dealing with the relation between “civil rights” and “national independence”. But of course Joe Deighan has no sense or he would never have allowed somebody lacking theoretical ability to deal with an abstract subject. When I heard that Charlie was to do this I immediately wrote him a letter enclosing some notes and references, but although I spelt out some formulations for him, I very much doubt his ability to tackle the subject at all. Now they are all in confusion and they want me to give a talk on the same subject next week. Sean Redmond was at the TUC on Monday. Mike Cooley tried to get the DATA [Draughtsmen and Allied Technicians Association] to propose an emergency resolution on civil rights. But then Gill and some others held that this would anger their Northern Ireland members [Ken Gill, 1927-2009, leading British trade leftwing trade unionist]. So the opportunist nincompoops pushed the thing under the mat, ready for the next explosion. If somebody shoots their bloody members they’ll probably wake up to the problem! So they got the Thames Lightermen to propose it. The General Council [ie.of the Trades Union Congress, of which Ken Gill was a member] then said they’d made a statement a fortnight ago (which they had) and the Lightermen were not sufficiently knowledgeable to argue the point. Sean was not pleased. Nor was I.
In the afternoon I varnished the new bookshelves, and the place reeks.
September 5 Friday: I thought of going to the cottage but instead started on the revision of the introduction to the book.
September 6 Saturday: I spent the whole day on the introduction to the book, apart from writing a number of letters. I have it half done.
September 7 Sunday(Salop): Leaving at about 11 am. I cycled to Chester, then down the road to Aldford, Shocklach, Threapwood and so through Hanmer, Bettisfield and Loppington to Salop, and finally to the cottage, arriving at about 8 pm. The journey to Chester was pleasant and the countryside not nearly as destroyed as I feared it would be, though bad enough. I saw with satisfaction that there is a place on the Dee where the young people can sail. There should be one on the Mersey. Give them something to do and they won’t wreck everything. I think I only saw one cyclist – by which I mean a youngster in his twenties – and he was a racer. There were a number of boys in their teens, out for a day. And one very old man, I’ll swear 75 accompanied perhaps by his grandson. I guessed Pugh had left. All the gates had gone and there were no cattle. No work had been done on the cottage.
September 8 Monday: It was a beautiful September day with Corndon seeming near, but all behind hidden in the haze. I called on Mr and Mrs Corbett. They told me Pugh had gone, but as his lease runs to the 29th he had let the grazing. I saw one or two cows a few fields away and some wandered through the open gates. I had had a letter to the effect that a man called Evans was to “walk the estate” for a valuation. Apparently there are plans to sell it. But Evans said it is so derelict that the chances are small. “Bulldoze the lot and put it out for forestry,” he said. About three families have now left the Bog, as well as Pugh. The trouble is the closing down of the village school a year ago. Those accursed Social Democrats in London hate the country and want to exterminate the country people. Then two farmers have given up because they cannot afford the expensive machinery for producing milk that the “government” insists upon. It is quite tolerable to poison it with DDT. That helps the chemical industry! Mr Corbett said there were enquiries about reopening the mines. Apparently there are places where the rock is so hot that it is hard to drill. I never heard of radium being deposited with barium, but there is also lead. Possibly uranium? This I would not object to despite its disadvantages. It might hold some of the local population and might last a few years.
Then I heard about the fools of the Water Board. Everybody had told them that the water they were pumping to a reservoir in the hills was merely rain that had penetrated the old mine workings. They refused to listen. Some young ass from the City was in charge. Now the workings have run dry and every day they run up tankers of water by road and discharge it into their precious reservoir. Yet everybody knows there is water above the reservoir in plenty that would keep it full by gravity! The water at present is a dirty brown. It was added that Collins, the agent, who “used to be a pig” now “couldn’t care less”. He thinks somebody else will manage the estate. He allowed Pugh to take everything – including electric wiring and the roofs of the barns! He might not wish to press me to bring in this low-quality water, and I thought of delaying till the spring. The Corbetts now tell me – after the cute manner of country people only now that Pugh has gone – that when the Smiths had the cottage there was a well above it from which water was piped to outside the door. I might propose to restore that – I think I found it. Apparently Pugh ripped it up just after Mrs Smith died, to use it as building material. The Corbetts have relinquished their land on which my present well is situated.
I left at about 3.30 pm. and went to see Mrs Rosen at Snailbeach. She said that her husband had gone to the cottage to begin the painting but Mrs Corbett had told her about the valuation and the doubt about the future of the estate and he had decided to consult me before beginning. I learned that Pugh’s quarrel with Collins the agent arose after he had demanded the installation of a bathroom, which Collins refused, and that the refusal to mend the shores was only a part of the story. I went on to Salop and caught the 6.05 train to Chester and Rockferry. I did not do much further during the day, except to have a look at the “Introduction” which is a bit heavy but may have to be made heavier.
September 9 Tuesday (Liverpool): I worked a little on the introduction, and in the evening went to the CA branch. Brian Stowell, Barney Morgan, J. Roose-Williams and others were there. There is no “drive” left since John McClelland left. But I think we will keep it going. It is the only branch outside London, and as strange a mixture as Liverpool itself, composed of “famine Irish” and Welshmen!
September 10 Wednesday (London): I came to London on the midday train. The London crew were in the restaurant car. Harry Newcombe has retired and the present conductor retires in ten weeks after fifty years!
In the office were Sean Redmond and Peter Mulligan, still unemployed but looking for a job in another bookshop. The branch meeting was a great success in the evening, with about 40 people present, including Charlie Cunningham, Frank Small, Peter Mulligan, Sean Redmond, Joe Deighan, Vivienne Morton, Elsie O’ Dowling, Pat Hensey and many youngsters. The people being attracted are not ordinary workers for the most part, but a fair cross section of the more active immigrants. We went for a drink afterwards with Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly, etc. and Vivien Morton [one of TA Jackson’s two daughters, the other being Stella, who was married to the poet Ewart Milne] told me that she had the full text of TA Jackson’s memoirs that Cornforth rejected as “not edifying”[Maurice Cornforth,1909-80, British Marxist philosopher, in charge of Messrs Lawrence and Wishart, Desmond Greaves’s publisher]. She was not too pleased, even to recall it. But I do remember Frank Jackson saying that “We couldn’t print those memoirs. All it was doing was glorifying ‘himself’.” She invited me to go out to Clare [in Suffolk] and read them. I had told her I was working on the new edition of “Ireland her Own”[ie. TA Jackson’s history of Ireland].
September 11 Thursday: I was in the office all day. In the afternoon Joe Deighan appeared. He said that Pat Hensey realises that he is quite unsuited for the secretaryship of a branch. Joe now sees – what I saw all the time – that Hensey has no power of following things up, and that is why the West London branch collapsed while under the management of the pastel-coloured people. He had developed in understanding, but not in ability to achieve results. By contrast Charlie Cunningham, who was with him, has done so and now speaks in the Park regularly.
When talking about speakers Sean Redmond (with the type of mischievous humour that in Dubliners verges on the malignant) suggested Prendergast [Jim Prendergast, Spanish civil war veteran and old antagonist of Greaves in the CPGB]. Joe Deighan said, “I’d be quite happy to have him if he was sober.” Sean Redmond said he was half drunk at the TUC. Joe Deighan added he was half drunk (I would say three parts, though holding an olive branch) at the Conway Hall meeting. I said to myself, we will see! I do not totally exclude allowing him to cooperate, but I must have conditions.
Gerry Curran having said to me that he thought Sean Redmond was unfairly rejecting his services as a speaker to the branch, I suggested him. “Pooh,” says Sean, “he’d send them asleep.” It is unfortunately true that whereas at his best Gerry Curran can be very good, when he has an attack of neurasthenia he can be very dull. At the same time there is in Sean’s approach a complete absence of human regard for Gerry, or any notion of trying to find a use for his services. About the personal antagonism I am not sure. Sean has vastly improved and shows more initiative then ever and it would scarcely seem necessary for him to be jealous of Gerry. But I remember Pirani [Professor Marcello Pirani, a former scientific colleague of Greaves’s in the chemical industry] saying to me years ago that nobody would employ anybody older then himself. Toni Curran and Dorothy Deighan came in.
September 12 Friday: I worked on the paper most of the day. In the evening we had the International Affairs Committee [An advisory committee of the CPGB, consisting of people with specialist knowledge of different countries]. Sean Redmond told me he had had a curious letter from Hillel Woddis [Known generally as Jack Woddis, CPGB foreign policy adviser concerned particularly with Britain’s colonial territories] saying the Committee was to be “reorganised” and asking him to discuss it with him. It struck me after Gollan’s remarks [praising Sean Redmond, mentioned in Volume 20] that they may want to offer him the job Idris Cox recently vacated as Woddis’s assistant. But I said nothing. The EC [of the CPGB, in which Gollan, Woddis and Cox were officials] is on the Saturday and Sunday and Hughie Moore [CPNI official] is coming but not Michael O’Riordan [presumably to consider the Northern Ireland ructions, which were prominent in the media at this time] .
The meeting was quite a success. Joe Deighan, Elsie O’Dowling, Chris Sullivan and Sean Redmond were there, with Palme Dutt, R.Page Arnott, Kay Beauchamp, Harry Bourne and others. Afterwards we had a drink. I was talking with Harry Bourne, Kay Beauchamp and a Ghana who had only been in England a week. I said I could not understand why the unity of Nigeria with its imperialist boundary was such an article of faith among some of our EC members[The Biafran national independence war between the Ibo people and the Nigerian Government was then on]. To my surprise Kay Beauchamp, who knows Nigeria, agreed with me. Bourne offered some strange argument. One was that the destructiveness was so great that the Biafrans had a duty to accept peace on the basis of a unitary Nigeria. I asked if the Vietnams should therefore do the same and let the USA have the lot. So Bourne asked the Ghana man. He got the answer that most Africans believed the day for unity had gone and it was the duty of Britain and the others to recognise facts. Then he said the Russians were helping Nigeria for the sake of profit. Harry Bourne wouldn’t have this. It was from mistaken notions of how to fight imperialism – he had allowed our contention now if only for the sake of argument. But Kay Beauchamp said that some years ago she was travelling in Nigeria just behind a Chinese team who were handing out fountain pens and pamphlets. She was at the time very hurt that they were avoiding her. She could never catch up. Later she realised they were trying to replace the Russian influence among the Ibos. Then the only Russian who knew anything about Nigeria went to Kenya, caught some disease and died. The result was that the Soviet Government had no informed advise about the distinction between the Ibos and others. This at any rate was her theory. She also described the backward social conditions imposed by the enemies of the Ibos whenever they succeeded in defeating them. But while Harry Bourne was prepared to listen, he clearly felt that the Biafrans were defeated already and should lie down and get this awkward problem out of the way of civilized people. Yet all night we had been discussing Ireland.
September 13 Saturday: I worked on the paper most of the day. I learned from Gerry Curran on the phone that he was calling a meeting at his house next Thursday as part of a plan to restart the West London branch. I asked him if he had told Sean Redmond. He had not. He wanted me to do so. So here the antagonism is breaking out on the other side. Charlie Cunningham disapproved of Gerry’s action. “He starts things he expects others to finish.” There is also an element of laziness. He need not leave his own house.
Meanwhile Sean Redmond is pursuing with Toni Curran proposals for becoming a member of the staff of the paper [ie. the monthly “Irish Democrat”, of which Greaves was full-time editor] who would hire him out to the CA to avoid selective employment tax, without consulting me. However, he has to bring it up at a meeting sometime. I have my hands full with the lot of them. I told Toni nothing must be done without a branch meeting.
I was in Hammersmith with Charlie Cunningham and Pat Hensey. In Fulham three students were handing out leaflets and collecting money in tins. The money was to “buy equipment” needed in the Six Counties and was allegedly based on an appeal by Miss Devlin and Michael Farrell, the People’s Democracy people, who are endlessly boosted on press and on television [This was just a month after the attacks on Catholic areas of Belfast by Loyalist mobs and elements of the Ulster Special Constabulary].
September 14 Sunday: I worked on the paper in the office in the morning. In the afternoon there was a special meeting in Hyde Park, with Joe Deighan, Sean Redmond, myself and some of the young fellows. One Sean Johnston from Achill, a pushful capable young man of about thirty, very much the businessman and representative, spoke. He approached me about joining at the parade to Downing Street and I rather held him at some arms length. But he came in. He certainly knew his Achill, told me the Pattons were now all Catholic and that the Corrigans were there at Tonragee. Some people had doubted he was from Achill, but this was just talk. He has a very “educated” accent which they did not connect with the West – I imagine his people run a hotel at Achill Sound, but I did not take note of non-political names when I used to be there. Charlie Cunningham and Jim Kelly are both doing a little speaking and Pat Hensey was there also. Peter Mulligan came. He has thrown up his job in Lewis’s bookshop and is now very worried at the difficulty of finding another. Rumour says he is living with an American girl and rumour might very well be right. In the evening I went out with the paper [ie. selling it around the public houses of the Irish districts of London, which Greaves regularly did when in the capital. This was the main method of distributing the paper, as bookshop sales were slight].
September 15 Monday: Who should walk in but Desmond Hensey fresh from the Bogside [where there had been violent confrontations between local people and the police a month before, leading to intervention by the British Army in a policing role], somewhat physically exhausted, quiet and worried about “splits”. He came back, I think, a day or two ago. I went on with the paper. Jane Tate came in during the day. I saw Hillel Woddis for a few minutes. He said nothing about proposed “reorganization of committees”, but much about Russia. He was shown an article in a Russian paper saying that the British government was sending vast supplies to the Biafrans. He pointed out that this was not so. “Bourgeois propaganda!” was the reply. “But,” he insisted “there have been questions in Parliament. Britain is aiding the Federal Government.” But nothing would convince him. The tragedy is that it will take some serious setback to teach people that truth really is mighty and can prevail in the most unexpected ways. We had a short Irish Democrat meeting in the evening.
September 16 Tuesday: I was busy on the paper. Sean Redmond, who really is active now, went to a factory gate meeting. In the evening I went along to Hyde Park and said a few words at the Central London meeting and talked with some of the young people. One was a bearded rugby-playing character who spoke with a synthetic upper-class accent and irritated three bright young lassies by pontificating about the “sexual morals of the Irish” and the “influence of the Catholic church” which led to children being slapped at school and how shocking the nuns were. A student from Queen’s, Michael O’Kane, said to be one of the founders of People’s Democracy, was there – a quiet sensitive lad, not very vigorous, and with a cool limp hand, was also there. Clearly he would never be a rebel unless there was no alternative. He told of how he was walking down a street wearing a small pioneer pin and asked a woman a question. For reply she spat in his face. Sean Johnston, staying at the Grand Central, asked a man where was a Catholic church. “Another Papish bastard” was the reply he got. I think however that Michael O’Kane has learned something. He goes back in a week or two. On Monday we discussed drawing people into work on the paper. I asked O’Kane to send news. Charlie Cunningham has approached one of the girls, a Miss Finnigan, who will do likewise.
September 17 Wednesday: The whole of the morning and afternoon was on the paper. Tony Coughlan sent his account of the conference last Sunday [A conference organised by the short-lived “Solidarity” organization in Dublin, of which A.Coughlan was founder and secretary. It produced a pamphlet advocating a Bill of Rights like the Connolly Association’s which the Dept.of Foreign Affairs bought copies of and considered distributing, but did not do so]. I wrote and said we should have been represented. I felt convinced that the “Irish Republic now virtually established”, or the part of it that makes policy [that is, the IRA] would be unable to resist starting a branch in England and thus completing the fragmentation [following the recent establishment in Britain of “branches” or support groups of the NICRA, the Social Justice Campaign and the People’s Democracy; see Volume 20]
In the evening I went to the Festival Hall to hear Mozart’s C Minor Mass I hadn’t heard a note of these thirty years. It was an interesting performance, I thought perhaps not as dramatic as it could be. But these huge echo-less Festival Halls (this was the Elizabeth Hall) are not for drama.
After the concert I went to the public house where the Central London branch members repair after the meeting. Bobby Heatley was there with his wife. I assumed he would not be interested in music. To my surprise he was quite hurt and said that two years ago only he had been to a Promenade concert and had since become enamoured of Beethoven. But it was the Beethoven of the “Pastoral” symphony not of the last sonatas. Joe Deighan was there, in unaccustomedly good form, perhaps because his wife had let him out for a drink. Bobby Heatley said he had been at the MCF meeting. Stan Newens [Labour MP for Epping, chairman of the Movement for Colonial Freedom] had been shocking. Barbara Haq told me this earlier in the day. He is ignorant, I suggested. “Not a bit of it,” says Joe Deighan, “Wilson has gone up in the opinion polls and they all think they are going to get their seats back.” And that is about it! Desmond Hensey was there and I arranged for him to call into the office to tell me about the Bogside tomorrow. And others present were Charlie Cunningham, Michael Keane, Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly, Sean Johnston, the bearded one (also I think O’Kane) still on about Irish sexual morals, and the girls. Charlie Cunningham told me Columba Longmore would consider doing articles for the paper.
September 18 Thursday: Sean Redmond went to Glasgow today. I saw him for a few minutes before he went. An hour later Des Hensey arrived and told me about Bogside. I made copious notes. Then I left for Liverpool on the 6.30 train.
September 19 Friday (Liverpool): I spent the day buying things for the holiday I intend taking and generally cleaning up.
September 20 Saturday: I prepared an article on Bogside which I sent to Ripley and an article for Marx House on “Marx and Engels and Ireland”. I spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone. Glasgow is in chaos. He had no great success at all. This is through lack of party interest I know well. As Charlie Byrne calls them – they are many of them “Orange socialists” at heart. Sean said there was a letter from Tony Coughlan saying, “if they had known anybody was interested in attending the conference an invitation would have been sent.” And Sean said that a month ago McGill [ie.Tomás MacGiolla, President of Sinn Fein at the time] was talking of a branch of “Solidarity” in London. This, says Sean would abolish NICRA. Of course it would. It would place the fund-raising functions in the hands of the “I.R.N.V.E.” [ie. the “Irish Republic Now Virtually Established”, that is, the IRA, which traditionally claimed to be the lawful Irish Government]. There is plenty of method and no madness. Having stolen the CA initiative in the only way it could be stolen, by intervention from Belfast with the foolish help of Edwina Menzies and the rest of them, they now propose to switch control to Dublin[Mrs Edwina Stewart, CPNI representative on the NICRA Executive, who was rather starry-eyed over the Republicans at the time and supportive of setting up NICRA branches in Britain]. This will reduce the movement to a money-raising racket. The main consideration of Sinn Fein has always been to prevent or forestall any independent working class initiative wherever it is. And of course Roy Johnston with his Fanonist “socialism without the workers” [ie. influenced by the French West Indian theorist Frantz Fanon, author of “The Wretched of the Earth”] was the very man they wanted.
There were letters from Dorothy Greaves and others.
September 21 Sunday: I had thought of going away today but delayed to answer some letters. I am really rather tired and have to “make a break” in order to get away at all. I wrote to Pat O’Donohue, Liam Deasy and others.
September 22 Monday (Salop): I took the train to Salop and cycled up to the cottage. I saw Pugh dismantling some of his equipment. If ever a place was stripped naked this one is. The weather was bright and clear.
September 23 Tuesday: I spent the day at the cottage, except for the late afternoon when I went to the Stiperstones for supplies and called on Rosen, whose bags were outside the cottage. Unfortunately he was out.
September 24 Wednesday (Nant Dernol): Again the weather was reasonable. I left the cottage about midday and cycled to Church Stoke, Newtown, LLanidloes and Llangurig. As I was turning down the Wye valley a young man in his early twenties cycling in the opposite direction stopped me. Where was the hostel? Which one? He tried to pronounce Nant-Y-Dernol in a somewhat stilted English accent. At first I took him for German. He was wearing a species of cord knicker-bockers with bright red stockings. His bicycle was very strong and new, cluttered with every kind of carrier and contraption and had the sturdiness of a tank. I told him I was going there. Then it became clear he was Irish. But said he, though he was born in Dublin, his mother a Waterford woman, his father was a pure thoroughbred English Yorkshireman. He had been ten years settled in England, but before that lived in Kilkenny, in the country. He looked Protestant. He had been a student and was now working in London.
So we went to Nant Dernol. The old warder was there. How was she? “Fair – getting old, I’m afraid.” I notice she stooped more. I did not see the husband about, or the son either for that matter. We found a London cyclist at the hostel. He was like the Dublin man a militant cyclist, cursing the cluttering of the road by motorcars, though strangely tolerant of motor-lorries. The Londoner was about fifty. He told us his only interest was cycling. He spent every weekend at hostels. Seemingly his mother was still alive and he had few social connections – if he went to see anybody they were watching television. He worked in an office. All they could talk about was what they had seen on television. He bemoaned the decline of cycling. The young man said he thought it was becoming more popular among the young people. The Londoner said it was not. Nobody kept a bicycle after he was 17 and could get a licence to drive a scooter. He had little hopes of a revival. The Dublin man said he had hitch-hiked over Europe, but hitch-hiking was becoming impossible. Too many were doing it (It is certainly true, if John Grattan in the Morning Star is to be believed, that 99% of hostel visitors are now hitch-hikers). He thought hitch-hikers were no better than bums. There was a section turning to the bicycle for the sake of independence of course. Our friend was very pleased to hear this kind of talk, but regarded it only as that. The young fellow did not bother to make a meal and forgot to put his bicycle under cover. At the same time he was an intelligent boy. He had the New Statesman and an historical journal. He was not sure whether to be English or Irish. But the Irish streak was predominant for all that.
September 25 Thursday (Tregaron): The young Dubliner and I cycled to Llangurig. I think he would have come on to Tregaron if I had offered any persuasion. But he went on to Llanidloes when I didn’t. I went across a road that was new to me, turning left a mile beyond Llangurig and crossing the forestry land. There was plenty of sheep-grazing left, but I imagine it is badly reduced. In the upper Ystwyth valley there is a grand stretch of grazing land which would accommodate a small herd of cattle. I saw the building marked on the map as Lluest-dol-gwael. At first I thought it was inhabited. But it is not, though the metalled road reaches to it very nearly. There is a ford about eight inches deep and thereafter the road is rough. I saw no sign of life – apart from the ubiquitous sheep – but a magnificent peacock butterfly sunning itself on the wall. I think it must be derelict about five years, at a guess. Naturally I was not pleased.
The Londoner we met last night was speaking of the constant opening of new roads in this part of Wales. He thought it was the Tourist Board, but of course it is the forestry and the Water Board. I went on to Pont-rhyd-y-groes, Pont-rhyd-fendigaid and Tregaron. There I found the shop shut. So I went up to the hostel at Blaencaron and just before I reached it was passed by a motorcar containing a man and his wife. I was not pleased to see members of this tribe, but to my surprise found I had struck the exception.
We went to the Warden’s house. The wife had a life membership card. He started speaking Welsh to buy his milk and so on. He turned to me with a faint challenge, “You have no objection to our speaking our own language.” I told him that far from that, not only was I very pleased but I could understand perfectly well what he was saying. That shook him. The wee girl there came up to the hostel afterwards. She asked what he thought of the investiture. He was in favour of it, but didn’t like having this English prince foisted on Wales. On the other hand look at all the money it brought into Caernarfon. She was all for it, but for the terrible waste of public money. And, said the motorist, a Bangor man whose name was Wadhams, he speaks better Welsh than many in Wales. So they were undecided. “She’s a great Welsh nationalist,” said he to me. “And I don’t blame her,” I rejoined. And like all Welsh people, wanting to be independent but afraid of England, he replied both Yes and No.
However, we spent the evening talking and I learnt plenty. He is well up in the Merseyside YHA [Youth Hostel Association]. He thinks in ten or twenty years the YHA will be finished. First the government subsidized it. Then gradually it was bent round. The cyclist last night pointed out that after many attempts the London Executive brought in the motorists. The Bangor man held that school parties under the auspices of the Ministry of Education will do worse. He defended the motorist. What, he asked was better, a hitchhiker getting out of somebody else’s car at the hostel gate than a motorist driving up in his own. Of course, he explained, encouraging interest in the countryside, the purpose of the whole thing, has gone by the board. The young people have plenty of money. But they would participate in a YHA run on the old lines. He had no hope of this happening. The Liverpool Executive was a bunch of ignorant “do-gooders” who had never been in a hostel in their lives. He had walked out of the last Executive meeting.
He had come from Abergwesyn. There was a high dam in the distance at the head of the Towy. There was clay and soil all the way down the river. The scene of devastation was typical. The forestry was destroying the traditional sheep farming, but an old forester told him the way the cattle used to be driven in years gone by – not along the metal road which was hard on their shoes – but over a grass track. The practice of not employing local people was resulting in local knowledge dying out. This man had heard of the cattle route from his grandfather who had heard it from his grandfather. Now his wife was English.
“I don’t agree with my husband,” she said. “I think the most essential thing that people have got to have are fuel and water.” The key was in the word “people”. Why wouldn’t the Welsh get off their land so that the English could use it to supply their cities with water? Why, then should the English not close down their motorcar plants and move them to Wales to give employment to the Welsh people? Well, the Government is English. I said I was not surprised that when the local people reached the point of exasperation, they blew up the dams and pipelines. “Dear me,” she said, “All this violence. I don’t believe that violence has any place in this day and age.” “You may be right about violence,” I remarked, “but you can scarcely appeal to this day and age for support.”
“There have been more violent deaths this century than any other. This is the age of the world war and the atom bomb.” I didn’t mention the legalized slaughter on the roads.
“Ah well” she said, “there is a bigger population in the world today.”
The husband knew Roose Williams. He said he was a Welsh Nationalist when it was unpopular. Then he became a Conservative (which I do not believe), then a Communist. He thought him a “crank”. He would have “got much further” if he had not dabbled in politics. Always the ambivalence. In the same way he deplored the destruction of the traditional sheep-farming economy, was delighted at the Welsh nationalist proclivities of the Warden’s daughter (except for Welsh “pop” music – the English Trojan horse) but said, “Mind you the forestry gives employment.” Personally, I think the two could be combined, or a compromise reached. He did not know that J.Roose Williams’s mother was from Dun Laoire, or that his father was on the ships. But he said Roose lived in a rather poor part of Bangor where all the residents were sea-faring people, and everybody you met was Captain This or That; and he didn’t believe any of them were really Captains at all.
He was interested in Welsh. I must say his notion that every etymology must be a descriptive one did not impress me. But he knew much of the old habits of the country.
September 26 Friday: We went into Tregaron in the morning to buy provisions. I was very pleased to hear Welsh spoken universally in the shops. But it was too fast and complex for me to follow, except for prices. There are classes for learners for Welsh proceeding. There certainly does appear to be some sign of a national revival. It is badly needed. Back at the hostel an Englishman arrived – a huge fellow about forty, walking but wearing cycling shorts. He came down to the warden’s house. The wee girl – at school in Tregaron, she said she saw me there at midday – was talking Welsh nationalism. Apparently the teacher is inclined that way. She said people were saying that teachers should express no opinions and not try to influence the children. That is of course to leave all the influencing to the murder machine in London. I said in no uncertain terms that the more influencing an intelligent teacher did the better. If the child found it unreal he would revolt against it anyway. But the other is ubiquitous. Nothing must oppose them; not even a straw to the torrent! The cockney, for such he was, said he didn’t believe in Nationalism. No Englishman ever does – if only the whole world had the sense to be English there’d be no need for nations. But he was a decent sort of fellow. I turned on him as we left and said, “If there is no nationalism this country can be derelict. It is only the energy of the local people that can save it.” “Ah,” he said, “I see what you mean.”
Williams came back. We walked up the valley to near the bwlch [the pass]. Later there was talk about the failure of the YHA. The Londoner was a regular hostel-goer over years since the war when he was in the RAF. He had cycled till last year when he took to walking. Like most Londoners he knew nothing but was pleasant enough. He just had not the key to the country. When Williams and I told him that Latin words in Welsh did not come from English he was incredulous at first. But, alas, since English education virtually stopped with the war he did not even know the words were Latin! It is astonishing how education has been reduced to the bare minimum required to produce the different category of worker. plus the silliness and servility required by imperialism in its disguised days.
There were more complaints about school parties. Apparently it is a Liverpool nonsense. The Junior Minister is brought. He says what a wonderful thing it is – every asininity is a wonderful thing to a politician who can get votes from it by pretending it is of value to people who know nothing about it – and a few months later there is promotion in the Education Service for the executive member responsible. He does not think it is hypocrisy. It is “legitimate self-interested philanthropy”. We learn the South Wales area secretary is coming tomorrow to inspect the hostel. Williams has complaints ready for him. I thought I might stay and see the fun. Williams is about sixty-one, lean, tough, can touch the floor while standing, and has been everywhere and seen everything (moryah) [Irish words for “supposedly”, a pretence] being a mountaineer. He is anxious to complain about the conditions at Storey Arms – filth, lack of amenities and lorries pulling up all night.
September 27 Saturday: It was my birthday – 56 – no great reason for celebration, though some for thanks to Providence. I went into Tregaron, and had a few glasses of beer with lunch – nothing much. Then I cycled back to near the hostel and climbed a hill. There were two distinct markers on the map, Caron-is-y-bryn (or “is” something) and Caron mwch the same thing. Williams could not make out what “Caron” meant. No more could I but suggested two cairn mounds named in relation to Ystrad Ffleur. He thought so too and pointed out also a line called Cwys-ychnan-banrog, which he translated “earthwork of the ox”. “Banrog” defeated him. Of course it may be corrupt. However, I went up to it but saw little, not knowing exactly where to look. But I saw the cairns. As I went back to the hotel I saw two young people holding hands and dancing on their way. They turned out to be the YHA representatives, not from Cardiff as we had hoped but from Birmingham, whence this area used to be organized.
I went up another hill, then returned. There was a pleasant red-headed young man, about 28 years old I would judge. Both he and the dancer were called David. The girl, also red-headed was Christie, David’s sister. They made an inventory and started painting the outside walls. Williams came back. The fire smoked. He delicately explained to them that in sweeping the chimney they had blocked the flue. He is really rather pleasant. “Now the old country way of doing it is this. One gets on the roof and lowers a stone. One below ties a piece of gorse to it. Then the other hauls it up and out.”
He gave further evidence of the endless encroachment of big business and its bludgeon, television. Apparently Snowdon is now a horror. Traffic jams for miles. Some scoundrel on television has been popularizing “safe rock-climbing” in order to sell equipment. The approaches to Snowdon are being tramped flat and torn to pieces. Yet that ass Howells of Birmingham [Labour MP for Birmingham Small Heath and Minister for Sport 1964-70 in Harold Wilson’s Government] says, “What we want are more hotels and hostels.” The Liverpool YHA are apparently spending £160,000 on a huge white elephant at Pen y pass in order to please Howells.
Williams was delighted. The farmer next door went to school in the hostel which was open from 1883 to 1933. He also is Plaid Cymru. “The valley is a little nest of Welsh nationalism,” said Williams.
September 28 Sunday (Ty’n Cornel): I decided to go to Ty’n Cornel. Two of the inventory makers, namely the dancers, were going there also and kindly took my rucksack so that I had a very easy journey. There had been 13 there the night before. There were three cars (The two or three cyclists had gone). They were rather self-confident youngsters in their mid-twenties, big fellows as youngsters are now, one with a huge banjo which he mercifully did not twang much. They had spent two nights and had just returned from walking the hills. Some of them changed from bright scarlet shorts into jeans and one new to it asked why all hostels did not have hot water. The other defended simplicity. The objector said, “well why not sleep out altogether” and was silenced when the other replied “that’s what campers do.” The full pressure of the consumer industries is directed to telling the young people, “You need equipment”, and indeed the inventory people were busy talking about buying a water-heater, though they told the warden they could not afford new blankets.
I asked them how they got on with Cardiff. They replied that slowly the voluntary workers from the Midlands were dropping out. The Cardiff YHA was full of Welsh nationalists! I defended them and said they should help but not interfere. I found the girl very intelligent and surprisingly easy to convince on this point. Later I discovered her name was Evans. They said that Cardiff was not well off. Their hostels are not well equipped like those of Liverpool where the YHA has been rolling in money for years. Birmingham was better off than Cardiff though not well off. The South Wales are continuing the Birmingham policy of small simple hostels. I asked why Nant Llanerch had closed. It was near a large centre of population. The city people were careless and left gates open, arrogant and made too much noise and could not keep their quick city fingers off the farmers’ implements when they thought they might be handy to them at home. It is the same story all the time. This must be the most degenerate working-class in the world, though I am told the Germans are no better. Williams was telling me that the youngsters who hitch-hike from Liverpool sign the book, then go to the pubs. Their behaviour is shocking, and that I believe. In the olden days they were short of money and were dependent on good will. Now they let their money act for them. We discussed the possibility of an examination system, as they have for hostelling in Germany, to weed out the undesirables and make access a privilege.
The warden came down, a peasant if ever there was one, and a landholder in his fifties with a huge sheep farm, two bulls and herds of bullocks, but no cows. “He is not a Welsh Nationalist,” said Miss Evans. I guess not. He is far too well off, I would say. At about 5 pm. the walkers drove off to Birmingham in their car – they had said nothing in all their talk since their arrival and spent long periods silently looking at each other or through the window – saying that they would call for dinner and drink to an “AA one-star hotel in Llangton”. They hoped Radnor was not a “dry” county. Though they left things reasonably tidy, they did no more. I would say they regarded the excursion much as they would regard a game of football – get into togs, get thoroughly wet, dry, change and go on the booze! “Did you enjoy it?” a neophyte was asked – the one who wanted the hot water. “Indeed, yes, it was such a change from normal.” the word was normal! Nobody else arrived.
September 29 Monday: The warden came down in the morning and I had good reason to confirm my observations of the peasant in her. When the visitors were making the inventory it was:
“There are two brushes missing, a soft and a hard.”
“I have them up at the farm. I’ll bring them down.”
“And there is a wooden stool missing.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll find that.”
“Oh. Very good! You’ll find it. So we needn’t trouble now.”
This morning I planked down a pound note. He did not take it up at once. So I signed the book. It was still on the table. I left it while he looked through all the pages in the book. Then I heard him say goodbye. Quickly noting that my change was not there but the note was gone I reminded him.
“I gave you seven and six.”
“You did not.”
“I put it on the table – five shillings, two half-crowns…”
“You must have put it back in your pocket.”
“Two half-crowns, two shillings and six pence.”
I refused to budge. “I put it there,” he insisted, “But I did not see you pick it up.” He put his hand in his pocket and brought out a mass of coins including half-crowns, two shilling pieces and sixpences go leor[Irish words for “in plenty]. He paid out seven and six. “I hope you’re honest.”
I was no more angry than at the bark of a dog. I showed him a wad of fivers and said, “there is no reason to be otherwise.” I don’t know how that struck him. I think he is far from bankrupt. Anyway il s’est fiche de camp [he is escaped from].
I then went down the Doethie valley, pottered round the river in bright sunshine, and returned about 5 pm. After making a cup of tea I put my head out of the front door – and who was standing by the hedge but Williams. His wife came soon and I brought them in for a cup of tea. He has not been down the Doethie but over the col into the next valley, that of the Camddwr. He had found a wee chapel marked on the map below Brithdir, had entered, found flowers there and remembered that it was still being used, perhaps by no more than a half dozen farmers once a month – a social occasion for them. He spoke of the reputation of the people of Cardigan for thrift. The “Len Gardi” [ie. landlord] would come to town with four wagons twice a year with all his hired men. Having stocked up at LLanbedr, Tregaron or Llanymddyfri he would distribute to everyone of them sixpence, for a bun and a cup of tea, and then the caravan would return. Before the days of the labour exchange there were hiring fares at all these towns, and at these the agricultural labourer’s rate was struck like a market price for goods in Ireland. Williams deplored the discontinuance of cattle rearing in the hills. He says that sheep eat away the best grass and destroy pasture. Then they are fit for nothing but the Forestry Commission.
I told Williams of the Warden’s little attempted swindle. He remarked that these things could get around. The London cyclist turned warden had told me that he was warned that the Ty’n Cornel man could be awkward. Of course, as I said, it could be a genuine mistake. But I have handled so much money that I know all the signs of a trick, and they were amply present – the delay, the preoccupation with the book, the failure to draw my attention to the change or offer it to me. By all accounts, David Evans had told him, they have to be content with such wardens as they can get. Williams contrasted this with the family who look after Blaencaron. Five of them ran after him to say I had paid for my milk and he must not pay twice.
According to Williams there is a hall in Pontrhydfendigaid donated by some London “philanthropist” who was born in the district. On Saturday night 900 young people filled it to listen to “pop” music. I will find out more if I can. Was it “Welsh pop?” and if so who is behind it. Is it to divert them from Nationalism? To break the old culture finally and irrevocably and open the way to English gramophone records? Or just to get a market and be damned to the result. If the last it might be used.
September 30 Tuesday: To my surprise the warden came down for a few minutes at 9.45 am. bringing three buckets of coal. He asked me if I was staying another night. I replied not. He was not too pleased. I wondered afterwards if the coal was a kind of peace offering. Anyway he cleared off with scarcely another word. It is interesting to see the YHA in its decline would welcome visitors who arrived by spaceship. All rules go by the board, some of them not before time.
It was cold but I cycled to LLanddewi Brefi, to Pontllanw and so to Tragaron by a further detour. I bought food and had a beer and sandwich lunch. It was quite late when Williams arrived (Richard Glyn Williams is the full name). Last night there was a great dispute about the Mabinogion at the farmhouse – my doing, since I had told Williams about the Irish affinities of the stories. They were arguing about who it was lay down in the river to let Bran’s Army cross.
Today was fair day in Tregaron – all Welsh. I bought garlic from an old weather-beaten Breton who spoke to everybody in fluent Welsh. I was told he had been coming for years, first with a stick on his shoulder (which his companion has) now with a van full of onions. The farmers bargain with him. I did not – I did such business as was in it in French. He walks the farms after fair day.
October 1 Wednesday: This was a day of vicissitudes. I left Blencaron with some regret soon after Williams had gone. I cycled through Tregaron and LLanddewi Brefi to Llanbedr, where I looked for a reputed famous bookshop but could not find it – perhaps because it was early closing day. I was trying to remember when I had been there before. I could not recall the circumstances on which I had visited Tregaron bog – except that it was around 1944 when Idris Jones mentioned it to me at BCURA [ie. the British Coal Utilisation Research Association to which Greaves once belonged when he worked in the chemical industry] and brought samples. I often used to come to the upper Wye valley from London for long weekends. On one occasion I went up the Towy – now ruined, Williams says – and back through Aberyarysyn. I recall staying in a hostel where the German prisoner of war refused to work and I was able to summon enough German to find out it was because he was a Catholic and it was Good Friday. The first time I came to Llanbedr would be in September 1934. I went to Frome, then to Cowbridge, then probably to Brecon – I think this was the time I went to Merthyr – to Aberayron and finally joined Halliday in Pwllheli. I was only twenty then, and it was an exciting year for me.
I came on from Llanbedr through Llanpumsant to Llanwrda. Half way between the last the accident occurred. The chain caught between the two large sprockets. Try as I could I could not get it out. A farm dog barked around, then began to whine as if divining something was wrong. I went into the farm and borrowed a strong screwdriver and with this managed to free the chain. But not only were my hands black with oil and covered with blood from one of those little incisions that manage to look like a major wound, my knees and thighs were blotched with black and the lower part of my shorts likewise. There was oil on the saddle, the crossbar, the handlebars – everywhere! I found a mountain pool with sand in it and managed to get my hands dry if not clean. The bicycle I wiped with grass. I had oiled it before setting out this morning. It was hot in the sun, but cold when the sun declined. I had been so delayed that it must have been nearly 5.30 by the time I reached Llanymdyffri where I made purchases. I got to Cynghordy easily enough. Then I reached Hafod y pant to find only a young boy of about twelve there. The warden had gone out. He produced the book. My hands were now cold as well as black, but I managed to sign my name. I asked him to fill in the address, but he demurred.
“I’m not so good as writing,” he said.
He gave me the key and told me there were enough orange-coloured rods or stakes and posts for the 2/3 mile up to the hostel. I undid my saddle bag but left my lamp below. It was a rough track which wound through the edges of bog and often threatened to disappear. It was nearly dark when I let myself in. Across the valley were the mountains of the southern range. There is still Caledonian folding I think. But could I find the cylinders with the calor gas? I saw some through a window, but the door was secured. I wasted matches looking for a key. Finally, thoroughly vexed I walked down – hoping I would not spend the night in a bog-hole.
The boy’s parents were there. They told me the doors were open. All you did was to poke your fingers through the aperture I had taken to be a keyhole, and lift; and you were in. I asked why there could be no notice displayed to this effect. I had burned nearly a box of matches looking for one. Then came the reply illustrative, letting a flood of light on the bureaucratic mind.
“I have always said there should be notices giving instructions. But the District Secretary says he is opposed to notices. They want everything to be explained by the international signs.”
So anything that can’t be explained by international pictures must remain unexplained no matter what the inconvenience caused. The YHA was started to encourage interest in the countryside. But since the rats at Westminster have decided to introduce the new European feudalism [One of Greaves’s terms for the EEC, Britain’s application for membership of which had recently been reactivated by Harold Wilson following the death of French President Charles De Gaulle] they must suppress the fact that the countryside has written on it many inscriptions and one of these is national. The warden gave me a cup of tea and a brack. She has only being doing the job since July when the hostel was opened. The young boy – a very bright young lad – took me up to the hostel and told me more of the social situation than a hundred adults.
In the house was a calendar showing the members of the “royal” family. This cursed monarchy poisons the people’s minds. The father asked if I understood some of the Welsh they were speaking, as I had appeared to. I said a little. “Welsh is no use to you,” said the father. The woman was not in agreement. “This used to be a strong Welsh-speaking district, but English is coming in.” I told them to hold on to the language and keep the young people at home. Of course Welsh is only “no use to you” when England strangles Wales and the Welsh must emigrate. They said that the local school taught through Welsh. So that was good.
Now the boy was chattering all the way up. He went to the grammar school in Llanymddyfry. They had to wait twenty minutes every morning for the bus, as the lift they got by car brought them to the main road by 8 am.
“There’s no shelter. It’s freezing cold. We’ll get a bus shelter there this year, though, if we have to build it ourselves.”
He went on, “It gets dark early now – but not so early as it does when the snow is on the ground. I’ve often been up at midnight and one in the morning helping to feed the cattle. Bryn Rwrr Achaf you are going to be used to be a small holding. It was only 40 acres but we’ve got 360 acres.”
What would he do when he left grammar school?
“Oh – come back to the farm, I suppose.”
Did he like farming?
“Farming, well, I don’t know. But I like the animals. I like the sheep, but my mother is quite different. She likes the cattle.”
“Wouldn’t you think horses better than either?”
“Oh, yes. We’ve two horses, one a mare. She had a foal but we haven’t seen it for a year. It never had a man on its back. It will be hard to break in now.”
Again we remarked on the cold. “In the winter if there’s even a thin covering of ice or snow it is impossible for me to go to school. The car can’t get down the hill. Of course I suppose I could walk, but I think I am more use at home on the farm.”
So the peasant is the same throughout. He told me that his grandfather had lived in the same house. Coming to a fence he said boundary fences had only been introduced a year or two. Since then they’ve had more stray sheep than ever. His father had collected up to fifty. He’d also collected a sheep that had not been sheared for three years. In the old days sheep stayed on one part of the mountain. Now strays are more common than ever. I suggested that sheep got over the boundary fence at one point and could not find it to get back. He agreed. And he added that more sheep than ever were escaping the collection. The reason was that many of the farmers were not training their dogs but just letting them run with other dogs and pick up what they could. So on all sides we see the people getting more worthless as they follow the example of the worthless bureaucracy in the saddle. And as for this bright serious youngster, I wonder what he will become.
Up at the hostel he insisted on lighting the Tilly lamp, found me coal, tried to find me wood and was as obliging as possible – I think because in part he did not have to go to bed! It was around 9 pm. when he left, saying he knew the path like the palm of his hand, and that he had brought up many a hosteller at 11.30 pm. But weekend said the warden earlier, there were two parties, one from Cardiff the other from North Birmingham.
October 2 Thursday: The mist came down at 10 am. and there was drizzly rain – the first since I came away. But it cleared soon after midday. It was much warmer, that is to say the air was warmer, but it was now unmistakably October with a pale sun and flat clouds. I went on to Llanymdyffi in hopes of buying a new handkerchief. But it was early closing day. There was a snack bar open where I had coffee. On high stools against the wall were perched those I took to be the twenty-year-old shop boys and girls with nothing to do on their day off. They were chattering and fooling – in English!
I was back at Hafod-y-pant by five. I heard local mooing from a cow. Then I saw a number of calves with bloody heads. “The vet is here,” exclaimed the warden, “and we are de-horning.” She had explained this morning that she bred calves and that is why she must buy milk for the family. “They’re lazy things,” she said, “and they can be vicious.”
“I suppose he gives them a shot of anaesthetic.”
“He does, of course. But this is compulsory. In the old days cattle grew horns, and nobody thought it any harm.”
“Why do they cut them? For fear they’d gore some motorcar?”
“It is all this intensive farming. They are so crowded that they would butt each other with the horns. So they cut them off.”
“And all this to give us inferior meat fed on barley.”
“Indeed and the eggs are the same. I don’t bother with battery eggs. I just have my few (she indicated her chickens) and I let them run all over the place.”
She also has geese and ducks.
I walked to the top of the hill – less than half a mile away is the watershed and I had a great view of the upper Towy. To the south are the Carmarthen Ven and the Brecknock Beacons. It is a very attractive place with a 2-3 mile walk up a rough track to deter the motoring fraternity. At various points around the mountains are the shafts of disused lead mines, and an occasional tall chimney. I am told some of the shafts are a hundred feet deep and the protective fencing has long ago vanished. I saw the horse and mare scampering about, but no foal. I imagine it is lost – down a lead mine perhaps.
October 3 Friday (Nant Dernol): I came down from the mist in the morning. The vet was there again. I had intended to go to Llanddeusant but was told the warden was an art student probably working in the day. I rang up but received no answer. I therefore cycled to Llanwrtyd, Llangamarch and past the memory stone. There I noticed the English “Our prince Llewelyn,” but the Welsh was “Ein Llyw onaf ” – the second was in quotation marks, the first not. Another piece of sycophancy like the “Welcome to Builth” and every other place of the people who are running them.
I went on to Rhayader, as it is spelled, and so to Nant Dernol. I found the warden and son at the gate. There was the same air of depression. I had an even stronger impression that the husband had died but did not say anything to elicit the information. The son was saying that sheep which were selling at £8 last year were only £6.10 this year. Losses in the cold winter had made farmers afraid, but demand for lambs was good. I thought I was alone at the hostel, and indeed it was hard for anybody to be there. The reducing valve on the gas cylinder was faulty and there was no light. I spent two hours mending hurricane lamps and was just thinking of a meal when the door opened. A man appeared, in somewhat worn khaki shorts, and a “combat jacket”, obviously not having shaved for a week – grey and grizzled and with a look in his eye that I judged at first to be due to mental deficiency. He had been to Builth after cycling from Dolgellau and had been refused admission because a school party had occupied every bed. He had cycled up to forty miles across the mountains in the dark and the mist. I offered him tea which I had made. “No. I have not touched tea for thirty years.” A strict Mormon perhaps, I thought. Then he almost collapsed complaining of sickness and dizziness – a slight heart attack I thought. But soon he recovered, cooked a huge plate of chops, potatoes, cabbage and whatnot and drank, betimes, the boiled juice of squeezed blackberries! His conversation was sensible enough yet seemed strangely boyish. He told me three times he was not married and I think he lives with his mother. I thought of the meaning of “bachelor” as “boy”. It applied here. Then he retired – after telling me he had asked after the warden’s husband and had been told he was dead.
October 4 Saturday: The cyclist was up early despite last night. He told me he could speak Welsh since he was reared at Maerdy in the Rhondda. But when he spoke into a tape recorder he was shocked at his Birmingham accent. He had never in his life been to London; but cycled into Wales for holidays and some weekends. He thought the new buildings in Birmingham had “no soul”. Some of his remarks were shrewd enough. He thought that the warden’s son was not interested in the hostel and that it might now close, and that he had kept away for fear of being drawn into the work. Yet he had the most strange naivety of manner appropriate for a boy in his ‘teens – the sort of forced spontaneity that youth leaders affect. I thought surely a religious maniac. He had a touch of amour propre, and did not shave – I doubt if he wanted. Then he was off. He worked in a plastics factory.
I saw the warden and expressed condolences and arranged to look after the crisis due to the gas failure. However when I returned the gas company’s man arrived simultaneously. It was when I came up with him that I found the cyclist had left around the hostel the literature of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses”, a sincere but lunatic sect who believe in the imminent destruction of this wicked world. So my instinct was right.
Later there arrived a young very neatly dressed young man who proved to be a reporter on the Liverpool Daily Post – I presume a reporter – but very quiet. He was a graduate of Birmingham University a year ago, and told me that the Daily Post was recruiting graduates at the rate of about five to fifteen a year. He is now moving on to the Echo to avoid night work. He came by train to Caersws or part walked, part bummed the rest of the way. He was a graduate in Latin of all things and interested in Welsh. He said most of the new journalists were graduates in “politics”, “social science” and languages – well indoctrinated non-entities as I thought to myself.
Two Australians came, one about 25 years old interested in agriculture, and his girlfriend who worked for him. He was fairly knowledgeable in his own way, and better than most of the breed who drive motorcycles. But they did not like cleaning the hostel.
October 5 Sunday: The Australians left. The young journalist, changed into jeans but retaining his immaculate style and suede shoes, went up the mountain. The warden’s son called. He knew nothing about a new fancy gas jet and grill unit which the gas company’s man had brought yesterday. But he accepted it philosophically. He noticed that some of those using the old jets had pushed them so far back that they had burned the woodwork. “We’ve often wondered why this place didn’t go up in flames,” he remarked. Yet I think he is keeping it on.
I went to the highest of the surrounding mountains and walked back through the tops that are in Radnor. I met a cheery old sheep farmer riding a pony. He was driving some sheep from an esgair [a long winding ridge of gravel or sand] into a cwm [Welsh word for a glacial hanging valley]. “I want to settle them here,” he explained. It seems the lord of the manor had proposed to sell all his hill land to the Forestry Commission. They had taken that in Montgomery, but apparently Radnor would not give permission. So the farmer, whose name was Price, rented the Radnor grazing. But in order to be able to sell the lot at one fell swoop the lord of the manor had knocked down a hill fence. For some reason the farmer did not want the sheep grazing on the side nearest his farm. In the absence of the fence he must try to settle them in the cwm. If the fence was there he would leave them to find their own way to the cwm.
“The Forestry are buying all the land. The timber must bring in more than the sheep. So they must give a bigger price. The Lord of the Manor will sell to the highest bidder. Of course the young people will not live in the mountains. But of course they will come back. It is like a big wheel going round and round.” But later he said with equal vehemence, “The farmer is surely on the way out.”
“He’s has been that way for several centuries,” said I.
He rocked with laughter. “Indeed he has. But he is not out yet.”
He said he used bracken for hedging. He would not get straw. In England (he was in Huntingdon) they were burning it. He doubted the wisdom of this policy, and also that of excessive artificial fertilizers. We had a great chat before he must follow his sheep into the cwm.
Nobody else came to the hostel but the journalist stayed. I asked why the Liverpool Daily Post was such a stodgy paper. He blamed the family that owns it. He suspected that before long the News of the World, for which it does printing, would take over. They would have new premises soon. The paper would be an inch smaller to save newsprint. Already it had gone from eight to nine columns to increase space for advertising, and from eight to nine point to decrease the amount of setting. They produced virtually two papers – half their circulation is in North Wales, and the Liverpool edition is unsuitable.
He was quite an intelligent young fellow. He had studied Roman Britain and holidayed at Hadrian’s Wall. But he believed in Robinson Crusoe theories of social development. The universal stories and myths, indeed the major pantheons, had all arisen as a result of excesses of “imagination” by individuals, the result of which had caught on. It is clear that “psychology” is destroying the last traces of intelligent investigation in universities. He was talking of experiments in which people were asked to say which rectangle they preferred, and he gave its dimensions. He thought myths arose by means of some such mechanism. When I said he contradicted himself he could not see it! On the one hand the individual invention, on the other the necessary conclusion; on the one hand he thought the most illogical things the product of “imagination” but could not explain why men “imagined” alike. I think there has been an utter failure to put up a proper defence of historical materialism, for such young people would understand it. Of course such young people – with a Latin degree – think their education is complete and all can now be filled in by “imagination”. He felt it quite safe to attempt it, tracing back the forms of modern society to the “tribe” and the “tribe” to the “family” – which was in his view always monogamous. He had not the faintest idea that anyone had ever alleged a Gentile society in ancient Italy, but vaguely responded to the reference to Lex Gentilis! His name is Brian Whittaker, of Morecambe.
October 6 Monday: The journalist was away – in suede shoes! I went up Esgair Dernol and was rewarded by a fine view, Aran Mawddwy to the North, and I think Rhobell Fawr showing over its shoulder and (it seemed like) part of Cader Idris. To the east it may have been Moel y Golfa, possibly Corndon. Today was very clear. I crossed the Dernol from Montgomery into Radnor, then returned on the Montgomery side. I thought I would be alone, which would have suited me, but didn’t a middle-aged walker with a Liverpudlian type of accent appear. He was, he said, from Holywell. He was probably one of those thousands of English invaders who are destroying Flintshire, the devils. He works at the Summers’ steel works at Shotton. The more favoured grades are all building houses in Holywell. He told me that Flintshire farmers still speak Welsh but was obviously very anxious to believe it would soon disappear. The children did not speak it. He was one of the favoured grades who had a week’s winter holiday, thanks to length of service, and he walked as established employees do, slightly jauntily, slightly affectedly as if performing before the lesser ones. I imagine a draughtsman.
However one would be glad he was no worse, for soon an even more shallow and empty creature arrived, a young Australian. The warden had no milk. But I had left some I boiled yesterday. (By the way, she remembered I was not here last year, and her son remarked, “You are looking a lot better than you did the last time you were here.”) I also had a quarter tin of evaporated milk. Since the Holywell man had none, I offered this to him. When he came to use it, it had disappeared. We found the tin. The Australian had stolen it and hidden the empty can away. While we were looking for it he was expressing astonishment at the mysterious disappearance. For the rest he was rubbish. I decided I could not stand another night in such company. So I decided to go tomorrow – to the west if it was dry, to the cottage if wet.
October 7 Tuesday (Salop): This was the first rather wet day. The warden went to Aberystwyth. He name by the way is Hughes. A County Council workman I met yesterday and talked to before he cleared some of the drains beside the road, told me this. Also that the former occupants (before the war) were called Price and now had a farm half way to Pont-y-drain. Possibly the man I met was one of them. I left at about 11.45. There was a strong south-west wind. I stopped to buy a newspaper at Llanidloes, but not again until I reached Montgomery town at just after two. It was raining all the time, but the wind was behind me and I scarcely noticed it. I went on through Llanerch and “Grawch” [name unclear] to Shelve and so to the cottage. As I passed the side of Mr Pugh’s shed I saw the two Corbetts. They did not notice me. They were bent double looking on the ground for anything of value Pugh had left behind!
October 8 Wednesday: It blew great guns in the night and rained heavily. But the day was dry and gradually it blew itself clear – from the southwest. I spent the most of the day cleaning one quarter of the room, washing all the cutlery and delph and generally “spring” cleaning. I went to the Stiperstones shop expecting it to be open. I judged the busy family that has it would be too greedy to close for a half day. So perhaps they have to. I got milk from the farm opposite. Then after dark came a quiet clear night, warm too as the wind remained from the south-west, and I went for a walk – about 3 miles – to look at the stars. For a few brief moments Arcturus and Aldeboran were up together. Then Arcturus set, and Mars in Capricornus. The only first magnitude stars then, apart from Aldeboran, were Capella, Vega, Deneb, Altair and Formalhaut. The sky must be its least spectacular at this time. However, the constellation of Pisces was near the meridian and for once looked like a fish! And Jupiter was in Aries. The only discernible brightness in the sky was over Shrewsbury. But it was quite surprising how far away I could see the window of the cottage in which I had left an oil lamp burning. Just before dark I saw the Corbetts, again bent double in Pugh’s abandoned farmyard and struggling under a bathload of something or other it took the two of them to carry. There was something pathetic in these two old people. Not that they are gratuitous benefactors of course – they failed to tell me about the well Pugh had blocked up until I had paid the Water Board. On the other hand they fastened the gate while I was away and chased the cattle away that had knocked stones off my wall with their big clumsy backsides.
October 9 Thursday: Today the weather was dry and hot. I went to Bishop’s Castle and bought a paintbrush, some thinner, and two leather washers for the primus which stopped working last night. Unfortunately, I could not undo the screw which held the old washer. I went to the Stiperstones for milk – this time I left my jersey behind. But I forgot to bring the piston with me to the garage. Result – no primus at night. All cooking must be done on the fire.
I called to the Corbetts – still bringing bathloads of things. They explained that Pugh had said they could have some manure, and they had brought a bathload. The impression they gave was that the quantity was not large! But I think they have scoured the place for scraps of combustible timber, and of course I don’t blame them. Certainly not when I have no primus. Mrs Corbett said once more people are all leaving the Bog. Her daughter wanted her to go. But her great-grandmother had built this house – before the days when people could buy their freeholds. The grandson still came up twice a week. But he did not stay now as there is no television. He is just nine and already dependent on this rubbish. It should be noted that the intellectual level is such as to appeal to a child of nine. Brook House is empty. Brookhill farm lent the farm cottage to the man who sells motorcars off the boreen! And a “stranger” was seen on the road, believed to be the young man who had taken a cottage by the rock. I think I saw him today. I took him for a youth hosteller with his jacket and jeans.
October 10 Friday: Another truly magnificent day. Blazing sunshine from sunrise to sunset, scarcely a breath of wind, a slight drift from about south-southeast; I got a lot of work done. I completed the “spring-cleaning” of the ground floor, moving some of the furniture. The nut on the primus piston which refused to yield to heat, succumbed to bicycle oil. So the primus is working again. I picked about a pound of brambles from the field beside the cottage, collected laundry and bumped off flies with insecticide bought from the Stiperstones. I had the windows open and a fire all day. As a result the cottage has lost its damp smell for the first time since shortly after Phyllis died.
I have been doing a great deal of “figuring” while I have been away. It has not been a “carefree holiday”, though it has been a break and a change. I have to get more money, since I have foregone the retirement pension since Connolly Publications [the company that owned the “Irish Democrat”] could not raise it. I need the leisure to take up some projects I should have been busy with twenty years ago. I think I can see a way to make the Irish Democrat pay its way. If Sean Redmond gives up the job soon – and I regard his giving it up as inevitable – I would think of reorganizing the CA on a much looser basis but making the paper the centre of the work. When I get back to Liverpool I have a busy time. The new edition of Jackson’s book is required by the end of the year [ie.TA Jackson’s history, “Ireland Her Own”]. There will be correcting of the MS of Mellows, plus some additional work, including the completing of the introduction. I should return in a day or two, but am reluctant while this weather lasts.
October 11 Saturday (Salop): There was a strong wind in the morning, a couple of points further east and though it was still fine and sunny it was not quite so warm. Corndon stood out above pockets of mist, and indeed nowhere was as clear – still it was like a summer day. I started to paint the outside of the cottage and by early afternoon had the ground floor windows done. I then went to the Stiperstones shop. At the farm where I got milk there were three tiny kittens the mother-cat had no interest in. One was given to the pub where they are “mad on animals”. It was hoped the others would grow into great rat-catchers. An older brother from a previous litter was prepared to play with them and soon they will be pouncing on the pouncers.
At the Stiperstones it was almost impossible to buy anything for the screeching of a bird. I was invited to go in to see it, which I did, whereupon the creature said, “What are you doing?” in a deep rough voice and then started screeching in the high frequencies. On the way back I passed a young lad – how old it is hard to say as he wore the universal livery of gansey and jeans, but perhaps nine. He caught me up as I wheeled the bicycle up the steep hill. He remarked that it was cooler down the hill. And indeed it was quite chilly at Stiperstones as the sun shone with difficulty through a drifting mist. He came from Rock Cottage. They had moved there four years ago – he indicated the direction of Shelve. Did he like it? “I prefer it to anywhere else I know.” He used to go to the school at The Bog. It closed down through lack of pupils. These fell to 18. There were two teachers. One is teaching at Stiperstones. The other went somewhere else. He went to the Stiperstones for a while, but now goes to Bishop’s Castle, which is better. He had been to Pennerley to play with his friend. So there, for the time, is a satisfied country child. And of course the country is ideal for children.
I went to the Corbetts and borrowed the ladder. It was too long. There was no level ground on which to plant it. I lashed clothes lines to the top end and secured it through the window to the main bannister post. Then I nearly pulled my arm out of its socket stretching. Finally I tied the paintbrush to a stick and painted by remote control. “You’d be at a loss here if you didn’t improvise,” was Corbett’s comment when I returned the ladder and told my tale.
“The elements are exceptionally severe,” he told me as comment on the fact that he had had two chimney stacks rebuilt, and the probability that I will have to do the same.
“Have you been down country today?” he asked.
I didn’t know exactly what “down country” meant. But it meant down from the mountains into the plains. Apparently the whole of England is enveloped in thick fog as we bathe in the warm sun. There was a deep red sunset, but the stars were obscured soon afterwards. The wind fell to calm. The Corbetts told me that the “Miners’ Arms” ceased to be a pub only around 1964-65. The agent wanted to keep the licence, and would have done so if there had been water. Hence his frantic efforts to persuade everybody to have water. The water came but the pub had closed. “In the days when the mines were going it was a pub!” said Corbett, “The beer was sold by the bucket. And there was great singing there.” The quest for water led to neglect of electricity, which is what people want. The Bog was to be included in the Pennerley scheme. Corbett and Pugh attended a meeting with the Pennerley people. The Electricity Board agreed to include The Bog in the scheme. They surveyed, and re-installed, but nothing happened. The result was that “people got fed up and started leaving the district.” The Bog is a little oasis of oil lamps and private generators. The electricity is at Oldhill, Brooksfarm and Shelve – on all sides. Mrs Corbett has an exercise book in which she looked up the date of closure of the “Miners Arms”. I think it is a record of her personal transactions, but it may have historical interest.
As it was a weekend young people were out. Two girls about twenty dressed in jeans and anoraks walked through Pennerley, one in her bare feet. She cannot have come far that way and one guesses her motor car was round the corner. By contrast while I was at the Stiperstones a car halted and a boy of about the same age got out. In public school English he asked the way from which to ascend the mountain. He was dressed like a banker’s son. His friend and two motts were in the back. I thought the two would not get far. He drove off, anyway.
October 12 Sunday: The bramble jelly made yesterday was a success. So once more I ventured my bare knees among the prickles – the back of the thigh is the vulnerable place, as you turn without looking behind – and I collected a couple of pounds. I doubt if I ever saw such a prolific growth. Apart from that I had to prepare for my departure, get in wood for the next visit, and water. There was a stiff breeze all day, so surely there can be no fog “down country”. Talking about prickles, the hills are yellow with autumn furze. Yet plants I take to be Ulex Europeus are well equipped with tiny green flower buds. Ulex Gallii has a lower growth and does not form such big bushes. I took some blackberries and put them where Phyllis intended to have the rockery, in hopes that they would grow from seed. I took up the carpet which came from Mary Greaves’s. I saw there was moth in it. I found under it copies of the Times Educational Supplement dated 28-5-65, so Phyllis cannot have put it down long before she was taken ill. Indeed this may have been about the time she noticed the first swelling of the ankles. According to Mrs Corbett, Mrs Stewart helped her to lug the furniture down from the road. I am glad she didn’t have to do it by herself.
There was a red misty sunset. But the cirrus above seemed a little more definite and there might be rain on the way. I hope not.
October 13 Monday (Liverpool): I had intended to leave for Liverpool at 10 am and cycle all the way. The weather was delightful. October in excelsis. South wind, warm sunshine. All well. But a chapter of misfortunes opened. The primus decided to be temperamental. I had to light a fire. The bramble jelly had not set, and had to be reheated – on the fire. Then a stone fell from the wall onto the pedal of the bicycle. It rotated but not easily. I went to Shrewsbury and took the train.
In the evening I rang Mrs Stewart. She was in a most depressed state, saying she has had a lot more bereavements – not relations but friends. She is really a very lively woman to have all these people she regrets losing. But now she is getting rid of bulky items of furniture so that those who dismantle the house after her death will not find it too difficult. The arthritis continues and she says she has a nervous complaint that has her hand shaking. I hope it is not Parkinsonism. Yet she says her doctor does not appear concerned. She spends too much time alone, she says. Her son is coming on Friday and they will discuss getting rid of a “pianola”. I told her to sell it and how to get it valued – as a piano. Her sole reason is to make it easy for her heir. She says, “I feel as if I’m just going to pieces.” If she is ill of course this will affect her mind. However, she is talking of making a trip over here. I think the trouble is almost certainly loneliness, and having nothing to do she gets more and more morbid. What a contrast with Mary Greaves![ie. His paternal aunt]. I think possibly she got on well with Phyllis because she is deficient in emotional stamina and Phyllis was like a dynamo that gave her power to her.
There were letters. Tony Coughlan enclosed quite a good pamphlet he has written [for the short-lived “Solidarity” group in Dublin, advocating the Bill of Rights approach]. Sean Redmond sent on a note from Michael O’Riordan that Des Logan brought over. He has arranged a joint school with the Republicans (Sinn Fein or IRA or both) and they want me to open the session on Imperialism. Then the Republicans will do the 26 counties and the NICP (Jimmy Stewart) will do the north. I wrote and consented in principle [This event was never held, being presumably sidelined by the tensions that led to the Republican split in the following December and January].
Then Joe Donnelly wrote saying that he had got Charlie Donnelly’s poems from Devin Adair[Irish leftwing poet, killed in the Spanish civil war]. It was I who told him that Daiken [Leslie Yodaiken, 1912-1964, born Dublin, poet and writer, collaborator with Charlie Donnelly in editing “Irish Front” in London in the later 1930s] had sent them there and could not get them back. Yet after twenty years they came back readily. I imagine Daiken, who was a cantankerous customer, had squabbled with them and they wouldn’t reply to his rude letters. I used to be quite friendly with Daiken before he went to Israel, and I think it was he who gave me the copies of “Irish Front”, though he also gave a set to Dooley which I imagine that impossible woman Anne Kelly [Pat Dooley’s wife] has still got. And there was also a letter from Coogan [ie.Tim Pat Coogan], editor of the Irish Press, with information and an invitation.
October 14 Tuesday: I got precious little done. In the evening I rang J.Roose Williams and invited him to dinner. He was unable to fix a day. Then, when the shops were closed, he rang to say he was coming tonight. So he had to eat liver, but it was well washed down with drink. This was my first alcohol for three weeks, apart from a couple of bottles of beer on my birthday! So we drank a bottle of Chianti – and I had most of it as Roose is very abstemious.
He told me interesting things. I said that somebody in London – it may have been Jimmy Shields – commented on his full-time work in North Wales, and said he was doing badly and that Pollitt had given him a “last chance”. He denied this, and said that Idris Cox, who was “Empire building” in Cardiff, deliberately set out to undermine his position. Then he had him moved to South Wales, after which he gave up that type of work. I also found Cox two-faced in the early days of the war with Prendergast [ie. his conflict over policy with Jim Prendergast, former International Brigader, in the early 1950s, when Greaves had gone full-time as “Irish Democrat” editor and Prendergast seemingly had ambitions to become editor of the paper]. But later he took my part staunchly. So I would say fear for his own position rather than what Roose Williams would call “jealousy of others” is what motivated him.
He had been in Aberystwyth yesterday at TE Nicholas’s 90th birthday party [Thomas Evan Nicholas, 1879-1971, Welsh language poet and radical]. I remember Roose Williams talking about Nicholas when I first knew him 35 years ago. He told me his age now – it is 63. So he could only have been 28 or 29 when I used to cycle to Bangor to see him. He said he first met me at Mrs Jones’s. But I thought it was he who took me there.
He is now on the Board of Governors of University College, Bangor, and is going to press for a revision of the policy that fills Welsh colleges with English students. He told me he was invited by the Bangor students to address what was to have been a joint meeting of the CP, Welsh Language Society and Plaid Cymru. But the others didn’t turn up. The students called them Fascists and spent the time attacking Roose for “nationalism”.
“Were they Welsh or English?” I asked.
“English of course.”
“I thought as much.”
He is the official biographer of T.E. Nicholas and is writing his life in Welsh. I urged him to begin an amnesty campaign for those young fellows who were given the show trial during the investiture of the Prince of England. He thought Plaid Cymru has made a bad mistake in attacking them, and he said Saunders Lewis had told them so. He intends to settle in Wales as soon as he retires and he will join Plaid Cymru. He will be able to retain his other membership [that is, of the CPGB]. Of course like all of us he is no longer young. It is certainly to be hoped he has many years before him – he is worried over a persistent cough and I urged him to get medical advice.
October 15 Wednesday: Again I got little done apart from clearing off a mass of boring correspondence. We seem to spend half our lives these days filling in forms and answering the queries of the thing that calls itself the “Government”.
October 16 Thursday: I spent most of the day working on the introduction to Mellows [ie. the biography “Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution”, published in 1971] which I completed, but not to my satisfaction.
October 17 Friday: I rewrote the last few pages of the “Introduction” – it was a superb day and I was sorry to be indoors – but produced a somewhat more satisfactory result. I rang Sean Redmond and said I intended to go to London on Monday. Later I spoke to Pat Powell on the phone [leading CA activist in Coventry]. He told me that Gerry Fitt is giving them trouble, saying the time for public meetings is over, and keeping them in uncertainty as to whether he will be there next Thursday. Frank Conway is behaving strangely and opposed the selling of the Irish Democrat at Coventry Civil Rights functions. Pat Powell thinks he may be under the influence of some of the “Holy Joe” element in Birmingham who are sworn to cleanse the movement of “Communists” and “Trotskyists”.
October 18 Saturday: Michael Crowe rang [leading CA activist in Sunderland]. He says Horace Green has made a mess of the arrangement for next weekend. He has fixed nothing in Newcastle and seems merely to be interested in “cashing in” on the work Michael has done. The strange thing is that he believes that this will have the effect he desires. But I am not sure that Michael himself is as perfect a negotiator as we might wish. I started work on the Jackson re-issue. There are two things – the annotation of Jackson’s work and the preparation of the Epilogue. It is going to take me all my time to do it by December 31st.
October 19 Sunday: I went on with the preparations for the TAJa ckson job, but in a desultory manner, so to speak awaiting inspiration – a first sentence that would epitomise all that is to follow.
October 20 Monday (London): I went to London and found Sean Redmond in the office. Charlie Cunningham and Peter Mulligan (now more active again) came in and were joined by Jim Kelly, and later Gerry Curran arrived. There was a strike on the Underground so they arrived irregularly. Pat Bond is away on holiday. I outlined new ideas for attracting circulation to the paper.
Charlie Cunningham told me that when they all went to lobby at the House of Commons Gerry Fitt was there, and seeing Sean Redmond said, “Hallo, Tom.” This, says Charlie, was a calculated snub. But Sean Redmond replied coolly, “Tom is in Dublin.”
October 21 Tuesday: I asked Sean Redmond about Gerry Fitt. He did not think there was anything wrong with him but absorption in himself and a somewhat naïve faith in the Labour Party for doing what they have. He had travelled back from Brighton with Fitt, Paul Rose and Frank Pakenham. One could detect the inner awe when he said, “Lord Longford”. All the world loves a lord.
October 22 Wednesday: A telephone call came from Alec MacLennon asking Sean Redmond to go down before 11 am., which he did. When he came back he told me that young Andy Barr had been telephoned from some old friend in Belfast who asked him to meet somebody in Euston who would give him a password and a box which he was told to keep in safe custody. They asked Sean Redmond if he should do so and he replied not on your life. So I presume he won’t. He mentioned that Eamon Smullen is among four men arrested in Huddersfield while trying to buy arms [Smullen was an associate of Cathal Goulding’s]. Is this the IRA? I asked Sean. He thought it was some private grouping. Of course you’d never get to know, not because they wouldn’t blurt it out, but because they’d all blurt out contradictory things. Hillel Woddis had said nothing about the “reorganisation” of the International Affairs Committee. But Sean told me he had been asked to represent the IAC at the forthcoming congress. I appreciate that “absens haeres non erit”[the absent one is not the heir; in other words “out of sight, out of mind”; Greaves as the senior of the two would normally have been invited to represent the Irish interest on behalf of the International Affairs Committee]. I was, moreover, not anxious at the moment to spend the time there and foresaw this without wishing to influence it. It might of course have been thought that I had made a little contribution when the spotlight was not on these things. But it also crossed my mind that Woddis and others have their own plans for Sean. So we will see. I was not pleased, but I was not displeased. I know the world well enough by now. Sean Redmond told me that Roy Johnston was coming to stay with him tomorrow night. He is in England on some professional business.
In the evening there was a party meeting in Paddington. Gerry Curran was there, and Jack Henry. It was fair enough but conceived on a far narrower basis than would have been the case in years gone by. They are very narrow and I wonder why they can’t get out of it. In the evening, late, Pat Powell telephoned about Coventry.
October 23 Thursday (Coventry): In the day Maurice Cornforth [of the publishing house, Lawrence and Wishart, Greaves’s publishers] asked me to read Paul Rose’s manuscript which they have decided to publish – largely because he is a Labour MP. No narrowness in Lawence and Wishart! In the afternoon Sean Redmond said he was going out and offered no explanation. I immediately concluded he was looking for a job. He does not know that I have worked out in my own mind the way to deal with matters if and when he goes. I will not have any preparations made by him, as I do not want a legacy of bureaucracy, and want to use his departure to enliven things, but this means people must feel the impact of necessity. I mentioned my suspicions to Peter Mulligan who said, “It’s to be hoped he gives us decent notice.” I told Peter that I did not blame Sean. The movement cannot pay him a living wage. He wants children. He decides what comes first, and that is that.
Before he left Sean Redmond told me an interesting story. It was that one of the boys tried to get Peter Mulligan to join the IRA. I confirmed this with Peter. Sean tackled him and told him we would not have it. The culprit then disclosed that there were (I think) four members of it in the CA. I had already suspected that this “branch library” group was a cover for it, but Sean Redmond doubted it despite the fresh reason for suspicion. Sean received the reply that the names of some people who had been members of the IRA had been furnished him and on the list was Peter Mulligan, who of course derives from the Labour movement side and was never a Republican at all. Another piece of alleged information disclosed was the proposal for a resumption of hostilities in 1971 [that is of a new IRA campaign in the North]. This may be merely as a bait to get them to join. But there is talk of some of them going in for training. It would be nice to know for certain who they were, though we might guess.
Peter Mulligan is out of work. He can, he thinks, start in a fortnight as a correspondence clerk. But he regards this as “soul destroying”. He is nearly 30, and Sean Redmond says he had never “grown up” (whatever that means) and certainly he would pass for a man in his early twenties. He wants to “use his own initiative” but will not get down to acquiring the techniques to enable him to do so safely.
I went up to Coventry and Pat Powell met me at the station. I had a meal at his house and then we went to a meeting called by the local “Social Justice” people. It was attended by about 150 people, a large number of them students. [Editorial Note: This was a “support group” in Britain for the Campaign for Social Justice of Dr Conn and Mrs Patricia McCluskey in Dungannon. This Campaign had been founded in 1964 and produced valuable material on discrimination and civil rights issues in the North which was distributed to MPs in Britain, including by the Connolly Association. In September 1964, on the eve of his successful general election, Labour leader Harold Wilson had replied to a letter from the CSJ’s Mrs McCluskey (1914-2010), as follows: “I agree with you as to the importance of the issues with which your campaign is concerned and can assure you that a Labour government would do everything in its power to see that the infringements of justice to which you are so rightly drawing attention are effectively dealt with.” Three months later, following the Labour Government’s election, when Liberal MP Eric Lubbock wrote to Wilson in December about cases of gerrymandering and discrimination in housing and employment in Northern Ireland, Wilson replied to him: “Under the Government of Ireland Act nothing can be done by the Home Secretary about any of these cases …”]
Sean MacDermott from London arrived. He and McGill now privately admit they are sailing under false colours as the London branch of NICRA, which doesn’t have branches. He did not advance far beyond 1603. Gerry Fitt arrived a little late. The local MP, William Wilson, was in the chair and had matters so arranged that half the programme was devoted to Fitt’s speech. He was more egotistical than ever. Every sentence began with the word “I”. He claimed that the October 5th events were planned by him in the House of Commons [ie. the RUC assault on the Derry civil rights demonstration of that date, which had brought the anti-Catholic discrimination by the Northern Ireland authorities to world attention]. Bernadette Devlin was not even mentioned, nor the Belfast Trades Council, nor Austin Curry, nor the Derry Action Committee. After this he launched into adulation of the Labour Government that had “done more for Ireland than any since 1920”. He was “proud to sit on the government benches”. No wonder Wilson was ready for him. And of course, as he was the last speaker in the carefully contrived programme, nobody could enter the slightest qualification. The programme had been worked out by Pat Powell in consultation with me, and I had drafted the resolution which was carried. Wilson had caught hold of young Frank Conway while Pat Powell was collecting Fitt and rearranged matters. Sean Redmond and others said Conway was antagonistic to the CA now. I found him anything but antagonistic to myself. But I hope he is not developing Labour Party leanings. Fitt saw a copy of my booklet, “The Irish Question”, and told everybody around what a good piece of work it was, and how its author, Claud Gordon of the Irish Press, was really called Jack Bennett. I thought about Sean Redmond in the House of Commons and presented him with an autographed copy forcing him to hide his embarrassment. Among others present was Bill Warman, who made the best speech but was not really heeded, lacking the mystique.
Then we all went to the Irish Club, an impressive affair claiming the membership of 5,000 out of the city’s 10,000 Irish. I had a very good impression of Pat Farley, a young man of about 25 from Newry related to the Long family. He had a brother as red-headed as himself, also a good lad. And I stayed the night at the Hotel Godiva.
October 24 Friday (London): I returned to London by the early train and put finishing touches on the paper. The International Affairs Committee was in the evening. Kay Beauchamp, Woddis, Harry Bourne, Sam Russell, Sean Redmond and others were there. But where was the “old guard”? No Palme Dutt, Page Arnot, Andrew Rothstein, and one would think that the views of all present were taken for granted, as references were made to the follies of those who “supported the Russians”. It struck me afterwards that these absences might be related to the apparently suspended intention to “reorganize the committee”. So just who it will consist of next year it is hard to be sure. Woddis duly proposed Sean Redmond as the consultative delegate, and it was duly accepted. It was interesting that the beginning of Russian-Chinese rapprochement should begin just when “polycentrism”[ie. the idea that there should be several international communist centres, not just one in Moscow] was at its height. But these problems are always solved by being forgotten about. It is a pity people say all the things they do.
In the day I called to Lawrence & Wishart to see Maurice Cornforth. He showed me Rose’s MS and the pictures he has got and I took it away for reading. I asked if Rose acknowledged Tom Redmond [ie. Tom Redmond’s work on raising the situation in Northern Ireland through the Connolly Association in Manchester, where Rose was MP for Manchester Blackley], and I was glad to see he did. When I told Sean Redmond that Rose acknowledged Tom, not a trace of pleasure crossed his face. He is one of the most extraordinarily jealous persons in such matters.
In the evening after the IAC we met Roy Johnston in the Lucas Arms [on Gray’s Inn Rd., London WC1, where the Connolly Association office was at No.283], now not any longer the habitual haunt of the Trotskies. He was bleeding with self-criticism. “I’m afraid I may have done more harm than good,” and so on. Apparently the 1971 [ie. the rumour that the IRA was planning to renew its military campaign in Northern Ireland in that year] is all nonsense, unless he is not fully in their confidence, and this he fears. At the same time he is proposed for the Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle and cannot decide whether to accept. Last year he declined but then Dublin nominated him. Just what has gone wrong it is hard to say, except that after Kerry broke away from the Republicans, there has now been a meeting in Belfast. I told him what I told him before, that the petite-bourgeoisie, or any organisation based on petit-bourgeois presuppositions, has no safeguard against this. Apparently Jimmy Steele predominates and the McMillens [ie. Liam and Art McMillen, supporters of Cathal Goulding’s pre-split IRA in Belfast] keep clandestine touch with Dublin, who placate the embarrassing militants with promises of arms.
Says Roy, “I’m come to the conclusion that I am just like my father. He was always too much in advance of his time.”
“You’re like him in another way,” said I. “You are unable to hold your hand, and you’re unable to hold your tongue, and you can’t resist the temptation to see your name in print.” Roy laughed. He knew it was true.
We fell to discussing the foundation of NICRA. Sean Redmond remembered the circumstances. That rat McCartney [Queen’s University Law lecturer] came over to get the NCCL to start a branch there. We squashed it in London and the Republicans squashed it in Ireland. Did we thereby sacrifice the Protestant working-class support we were seeking? We were anxious to avoid accepting McCartney’s proposals for abolishing local government and movement along Wilson’s general federation lines [that is, closer Anglo-Irish relations in the context of the EEC]. Of course the danger has appeared as it is. Should we have accepted McCartney? Afterwards I concluded we had done wisely, as the bottling of the movement by McCartney would have led to even more uninhibited Trotsky exhibitionism, in which we would not have had a look-in. And interest in the south has been aroused. When he had gone I wrote to Roy Johnston, urging him to act cautiously as all was not lost, far from it. And I know he wants out of the Republicanism.
October 25 Saturday (Sunderland): I went into the office to write letters. Then I went to Durham city where I was met by Michael Crowe and Sean Healy, a wild Kerry peasant with a flow of poetic language and a good head. He was in the Republican movement in Killarney and is now in the party. A few students came and we went into a public house.
Then I was conducted to the house of Maurice Levitas, brother of Max, a man of 52, grey-haired, efficient, whose wife is meeting two friends of theirs just released from China. His impression is that they were as badly treated as he was when he was Franco’s prisoner after the Spanish Civil War. Hermann Goring liked animals and Beethoven’s music, and it seems the human animal is incapable of moderating its hatreds in accordance with its principles. So you are no better off in one jail than another. I happened to speculate as to whether some of the defenders of democracy in other lands would defend it so lustily in their own. “That’s what I often wonder,” he said shortly. And it won’t be they. It will be the young people when they are grown up. I noticed incidentally Celtic crosses in the churchyard opposite and he told me this all derives from Lindisfarne. It is not Irish emigration.
October 26 Sunday: In the morning Horace Green arrived and drove us to Stockton-on-Tees, where about 18 people met in the public house. There were one or two students who belonged to the International Socialists and called themselves Marxists, and a tall sandy-haired character of surpassing arrogance whom I took down a peg or two, so much so that Michael Crowe overheard his colleague telling him in the lavatory that he had ruined everything by going too far.
Then we went to the house of Norman Levy for lunch. Several people remembered I had been in Stockton-on-Tees before, though it must have been 1944. “You were an unusually lean young man,” said an old lady, “but you‘ve put on a wee bit of weight since that.” I remembered Levy. I think in 1944 I stayed in his house. He is a Londoner, an AScW [Association of Scientific Workers] member, and works at ICI at Bellingham, a chemist I think.
Horace Green then drove us to Sunderland through a barbarous “New Town” called Peterlee after a miners’ leader. He told us that people will not leave their mining villages to go there. Instead they buy motor cars. So their precious motor car for which the planners plan, defeats their fool plans. It is the first good thing in years I heard of motor cars doing! Michael Crowe feels very strongly against the way Sunderland and Durham are being allowed to decay while these horrors are being constructed. I suggested perhaps that the notion of buying land at agricultural rates and selling it at industrial and residential rates, the rate-payers making up the balance, was very attractive to big business.
We called into Nicholas Rowel where we had a cup of tea. As we walked down he expressed an opinion that my age was 66. When I demurred he replied, “you look it though.” So there you are. I told him it was the hard old life. His wife is a cripple, and one of his daughters. He does all the housework and works as an engineer. I thought he looked his 65. He was at the meeting I addressed in Sunderland in 1944. There were only 28 present. The narrowness of conception was apparent here also, but there was criticism that Green had promised a district project and had unloaded it on to the branches. Sean Healy had come in with Michael Crowe and I think he will help with things. Colin MacFarlane and others who knew Michael Crowe were there, and a few from the Catholic Club.
October 27 Monday (Liverpool): I caught the 10.12 train to Liverpool. Direct trains to London have been abolished but this solitary survival of the olden days still survives. It was exceptionally crowded, I was told. We reached Liverpool in the early afternoon. Opposite me from Leeds to Manchester was a young man who introduced himself as the Rev. Robert Turnhull MA. He was an Anglican and lectured on current affairs to policemen in Wakefield. He also spoke to classes of students. I was very intrigued at this. Just what is the Home Office up to? He was a classics graduate, about 30 years old I would judge, and was so interested in what I had to say that he gave me his card. Every Monday he spent enjoying himself, in mufti, and today he was traveling to Manchester, with gin and tonic inside him, and a bottle of wine before 10, and ecumenical thoughts in his mind. Quite a pleasant fellow.
October 28 Tuesday: The weather yesterday was like summer but today, though mild, it was cloudy. I did some cleaning up, bought things in town, and in the evening went to the CA meeting. I found them a little dispirited. Barney Morgan has no drive at all, the others have no political imagination. Brian Stowell and Roose Williams are busy and, apart from old Pat MacLaughlin, the rest are a wee bit lazy. They have given up fortnightly meetings through lack of speakers and returned to a monthly basis. The next speaker is Martin Guinan, who was recommended to them by John McClelland.
October 29 Wednesday: I started preliminary work on the Epilogue for Jackson’s book, and sent back Cornforth Rose’s manuscript, which is fair if not inspired.
October 30 Thursday: Nothing of importance. I just went on sketching for the Epilogue.
October 31 Friday: Another day spent the same way.
November 1 Saturday: I was in the house all the day. I have a few plans but none of them seems to me satisfactory. First I tried the “commentary in depth” approach, to parallel the introduction to Mellows. Then I went off that in favour of a set of concise note-like chapters, á la Jackson. But before long I found that since in the present situation the constitutional position must be explained, balance demands a similar approach to the history. It can’t be left at “this happened.”
November 2 Sunday: I had thought of going to the cottage but was rather engaged in the Epilogue, so I didn’t. Mrs Stewart rang up and I invited her for lunch on the 12th.
November 3 Monday: The weather seems to have broken, but in a good year it can mend again, even as late as this. It is not really cold. I continued on the Epilogue.
November 4 Tuesday: Apart from a trip to Birkenhead to buy groceries I spent most of the day on the Epilogue.
November 5 Wednesday: Again I spent most of the day, and managed to get out some kind of preliminary “statement of the problem”. How I hate writing! When you are speaking almost anything will do in comparison.
November 6 Thursday: A curious letter arrived from Freda Morton. She says that Alan is in a dreadful state of depression because of a “major disaster” in the form of a Trotskyite in his department. He is “distressed and dispirited”. She thinks I might be able to “lift” him a little. So here is somebody else. I mightn’t have any troubles myself but I must be “lifting” people who are a damn sight better off in every way! However, there must be much more to it than this. I would not describe Alan as “highly armed”. There is too much of the gentleman about him. He reminds me of Andrew Rothstein in that. He would not bump his opponent ruthlessly with no holds barred. But at the same time he is not without resourcefulness. Freda seems to think I will be able to think up some infallible plan.
It was a frustrating day. As I went to get the key which I sometimes lend Mrs Philips which had to be replaced, didn’t the window-cleaners come. Then Mrs Phillips came early and I decided I had best pick her up in a taxi. There was no work done at 5 o’clock, so I decided to go to the opera. The Marriage of Figarowas at the Royal Court. It must have been in the early twenties I was last there. There used to be a Gilbert and Sullivan season which CEG thought a suitable introduction to opera for children. It was on this inspiration that I took Cathal’s children to Carmen. The players were the W.N.O.C. [Welsh National Opera Company]. Coaches had come from the neighbouring parts of Wales. Liverpool Welsh hailed their friends and I was glad to hear the old language spoken on all sides. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The voices could have been in one or two cases more resonant I thought. It was not Convent Garden. But I was strongly confirmed in my opinion that everything in subsequent music is inherent in Mozart – or nearly everything!
November 7 Friday: I spent another day on the book. The weather has turned wet and the “bottom has fallen out” of the glass.
November 8 Saturday: More rain, torrents of it all day. I spent yet another day on the Jackson book.
November 9 Sunday: Again rain! The notion of going to the cottage is not to be realised. So it was another day on TAJ.
November 10 Monday: More rain still! So once more I spent the day on TAJ. I am also making a card index of dates from 1923 onwards.
November 11 Tuesday: It rained again all day! I went to the CA meeting in the evening. Martin Guinan was there. But his remarks were very general. He brought several lads with him from Blackburn. The attendance was very poor and I know Stowell is not up to the job. He lacks the background. All he knows about Ireland is the language. Barney Morgan has improved a bit. He is getting his mother who must be in her eighties to tell her reminiscences of 1916 onwards [Mrs Morgan had crossed from Liverpool to join in the 1916 Rising]. I was rather amused at the plight of old Mrs Mackey. She is the most outrageous snob and when I was at her house had her daughter the next thing to a peeress, in her descriptions of her. But alas! She is marrying a carpenter who plays the flute in the Liverpool Ceili band, a man who was with Pat Kilroy in Manchester and is friendly to the CA!
November 12 Wednesday: I had a visit from Mrs Stewart. I suspect her trouble is that she doesn’t cook herself the proper food, because she is on her own, is bored and owing to arthritis cannot get out much. Her son had been studying Robert Boyle who, he thinks, had more influence on Locke than was previously believed.
November 13 Thursday: Most of the day I spent on the Jackson Epilogue. I decided to make it a theoretical study of the modern period.
November 14 Friday: I spent all day from early morning till late at night on the Epilogue. I heard from Joe Donnelly and Pax Whelan. I arranged to go to Abergavenny tomorrow to see Dr Tess O’Shea of Killeeneen. The weather was not wet today for once. But it is getting colder. Nevertheless there has so far been no frost, so that everything in the garden is green, as well as seasonable chrysanthemums. There are Tropaeolums, Roses, pyrethrums, broad beans in flower, and evening primroses. I think the first time I saw them shed their seed and flower again, though some rosettes have shot up new flowers, another novelty. There is a strong hollyhock and the last poppy fell only a couple of days ago! And there are antirrhinums and fennel.
November 15 Saturday (Abergavenny): It poured rain, but I caught the train to Abergavenny, and was rewarded by a fine clear day from Shrewsbury onward, snow only sprinkled on the highest tops, and the trees more like October than November, some not even turning brown. I immediately spotted Dr Teresa O’Shea, a round little woman rather like Ina Connolly, bubbling with vivacity and without the strain that is in Ina. We started talking at lunch. Then as I had about two hours before the Cardiff train went, we went to her house. She told me all about her family in Kileeneen. Her father, Thomas Walsh, was the schoolmaster at Rosmuck and was replaced by that same Connolly or Conneely whose name is on Mellows’s list. They moved to Kileeneen – perhaps when he died, as her mother, also a teacher, wanted a school with school-house attached. Teresa was aged three. Her mother would be teaching in the school and at intervals popping out to minister to her young family, who in turn attended the school. Kileeneen was a remarkable place. The practice of almost communistic cooperation between the small farmers still survived. People would do each other’s work. It was after the parish priest at Clarenbridge tried to ban the Céilis in the schools that they were held in one farmhouse after another. Then when the bishop was on a visit Mrs Walsh got round him. This was the old Bishop O’Dea who called Wolfe Tone a cut-throat. He was very drunk at the time. But she preferred him to Dr Browne [Bishop of Galway] who was a small-time snob.
The time went by. Two trains were missed. I was thinking of looking for a hotel. She would not hear of it. Stay the night. Whisky appeared and we sat up till 2 am.
She had an interesting theory about the list of names in the National Museum. It seems that Mrs Woods was very fond of a drink and Mr Woods disapproved. She would sometimes go away with her cousin (old Sergeant Flannery) who would drive her to Clooncunny for example. She would have a holiday away from Mr Woods who would think she was doing secret work for Mellows. She thinks Mellows, being full of divilment, would cooperate in this. Certainly the addresses given had no relation to the existing whereabouts of those supposed to be residing there. However, there are difficulties in this theory too.
She told me that when she was in Cork she was at the university and lived with her sister who was married to Seamus Malone whose brother Ned Connolly and I met. She was only a young girl, about 14, or 15, in April 1916. She is now 67 – and a very lively 67. She is the typical countrywoman who comes from the people. Socialism, Communism, Republicanism, nothing rebellious shocks her. When Indians came to the hospital for the first time she went to their houses and ate curry. She is a strong Welsh nationalist and will listen to no nonsense about Abergavenny being in England.
It is a mental hospital she works in, though previously she was in another field and has technically retired. Monmouthshire consists of an industrial west and an agricultural east. Nobody is ever admitted into the mental hospital except from the west. She would not guarantee that the rural area would not produce people who were mentally “backward”, but it produces none that are mentally ill. [This is probably the basis of a discussion on mental illness in Book 3 of Greaves’s comic epic poem “Elephants Against Rome”]
She told me that there was absolutely nothing in Bridin O’Hegarty’s theory that Mellows went to Kileeneen courting her sister who married Seamus Malone. It was Eamon Corbett and the letter Mellows sent out from hiding was a plea on Corbett’s behalf. The Julia Morrissey story is likewise far simpler[she was said to be Liam Mellows’s girl-friend or fiancé]. Mellows wrote to Mrs Walsh to ask why Julia Morrissey was not writing to him. The letter was sent on to her. The reason was simple. Julia was enjoying herself with other men. She was very interested in music and this may have been the bond with Mellows. But Dr O’Shea believes, now that she casts her mind back, that even then she was showing signs of the schizophrenia she later developed. Now this is interesting – for she came from a rural area. The tendency is there, the strain activates it. Dr O’Shea herself worked in Ballinasloe asylum. She has visited Julia Morrissey and will do so again.
She says of Eamon Corbett that though he was a “nice fellow” he lacked qualities of leadership and could not carry things through. She confirmed that it was Sweeney in Loughrea who declined to provide the bicycle and Newell who provided it.
November 16 Sunday (London): We talked most of the morning and then went to lunch. I caught the train to Newport. There was a two-hour wait. Ultimately I arrived at Paddington and rang Alan Morton.
November 17 Monday: I went to the office and spent the day on the paper. Then in the evening Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly and Gerry Curran came and we held a meeting of the “Development Committee”. Pat Bond was to attend it but had another engagement. I have not really the resources, but I am going to try a facelift on the Democrat in January.
November 18 Tuesday: I worked part of the time on the paper, then went to listen to the debate on Scotland and Wales [at the CPGB congress]. I was satisfied that I had played some part in bringing that position about. I had got them off federation [ie. the idea that the UK should be turned into a federation to head off calls for Scottish and Welsh independence]. But when I came out I saw Robin Page Arnot. “I want to say something to you,” he said somewhat ominously. I think I know what it is. He thinks I should have come into the Czech debate, of which R.Palme Dutt got the worst. But I am not sure how much good is done. You rip an organization apart and then the problem is solved by being forgotten about. I get more impressed by the objective nature of historical forces. It seems as if all the individual can do is to squeal when he is impailed, and the impailment sometimes goes on and sometimes stops. I saw Sean Redmond talking to Joe O’Connor and they both looked displeased when I approached them. Last night Charlie Cunningham told me that Sean was speaking at a meeting with McGill, Palmer[ie. John Palmer, later European correspondent of “The Guardian” and head of an EU think-tank in Brussels], Eamon McCann and Bernadette Devlin. It was organized by “NICRA” (London) which is an organization that has a dual purpose [one of them being organising support for the Goulding Republicans]. I imagine Joe O’Connor is in it and they were afraid I would object to Sean Redmond’s going and wanted to get things settled so that it would be too late to intervene. So I said nothing.
In the evening Alan Morton called. He was in a desperate state. I do not remember him like it since he came out to see me in Ilford at the end of 1936 and I advised him to get some physical success and the psychological troubles would fade away. He told me his son David tells him he suffers from depression. I listened a while and then told him he should have a medical examination. It might be cancer. He showed no alarm. So he isn’t physically ill. But I insisted that if on examination he found there was nothing the matter with him, he could start afresh from there. What it all amounts to is that having accepted the post of Professor of Botany at Chelsea, he finds all the promises broken and insufficient money to run the department. As a result he has overspent. Add to that a lecturer he engaged turned out to be a wild leftist who is stimulating “student militancy”. So he is worried and upset and has no scientific ideas. Result – the Principal tells him he is not a suitable person to be the head of a department and that they will merge Botany with Zoology – which in my opinion they were looking for excuses to do anyway. He wants to retire. He bemoans his carelessness in financial matters. He hasn’t the money to retire. What a woeful thing for a man of his age. But why, I ask, who does have the money? So I told him that it was quite obvious that since he couldn’t retire he must restore his health. When he has that done, if it could be done (he talks like “I’m 59 and I’ve lost my health”), then he must find a way of adding to his income so as to be able to retire as soon as possible. Since the administration of the department had been taken off him, he should use the extra time writing textbooks or being a consultant, or whatever Professors of Botany do on the side – television maybe. He thought this was a good plan, but I doubt if he has the drive to put it into effect. I told him his trouble was he was too much of a gentleman. He thought people were decent and that they could be trusted. They are not and they cannot. They are dirty shits and live on society much as caterpillars on a cabbage leaf. The few exceptions are powerless against the universal decadence and corruption. And of course before it finishes there may well be some desperate ructions, which we are too old to contemplate with pleasurable anticipation. I think I cheered him up, and he thanked me when he left.
I called at the office. The Central London meeting had just finished. Jim Kelly told me that Desmond Hensey had being demanding a Central London representative on the Irish Democrat Development committee and had called it a secret society. I thought he meant Pat Hensey – but there you are, it wasn’t.
November 19 Wednesday: I worked on the paper during the day. In the evening I addressed the Central London branch. Charlie Cunningham has recruited a young man called Columba Longmore from Dun Laoire to the Democrat Committee. We had a talk with him. I was interested. I think we are living in a world which is pre-something else, not post-1917. He spoke of Czechoslovakia. He was surprised to find out how far I agreed with Palme Dutt – incidentally Alan Morton thought the same; also that the statements put out by the Russians had knocked the weapons out of their friends’ hands; Dutt was prepared to fight without weapons. But (he is in the party) he spoke of the Congress debate as being woeful, and bemoaned the re-election of the “same old faces”. He said a few words favourable to the Maoists. In these conditions local experience not international principles are going to provide stability. It is a phase like that of the Second International.
November 20 Thursday (Liverpool): I finished the whole of the paper but one page and, fed up with London, came back to Liverpool on the evening train, and left my anorak on it for my haste! I had with me Bernadette Devlin’s book [Her autobiography to date: “The Price of my Soul”]. Gerry Curran had reviewed it for the Irish Democrat but wanted me to check it. There had been some division with Sean Redmond. Sean had been asked to review it by the Star [ie. The “Morning Star” which had replaced the “Daily Worker” as the CPGB daily paper]. “But he wouldn’t,” said Gerry, “but then he was sorry.” So Gerry wrote but they wouldn’t give it him.
I heard Sean Redmond’s version too. He decided someone in Northern Ireland should review it and he sneered at Gerry Curran who had received the reply that, “We have sent it to Northern Ireland after consultation with Mr Redmond.” But another consideration present to his mind would be getting it out of my clutches!
Anyway, I read the book. There is a touch of megalomania. She may go off her head in the end. Yet, by God, there is some sound commonsense as well.
November 21 Friday: I had to go to the lost property office, but nothing had been turned in. Then I finished the paper and sent it off.
November 22 Saturday: It was a bright fine mild day. Still there has not even been a ground frost. The Tropaeolums, Evening Primroses, Anterrhinums, Chrysanthemums, roses, fennel, chives and pyrethrums are still in flower, and another poppy appeared today. I do not remember anything like this since 1932 or 1933 when the Tropaeolums lasted till Xmas, but scarcely flowering [Greaves had written and had published a paper on Tropaeolums in the “North-Western Naturalist” as a teenager]. Bernadette Devlin’s book has appeared in paperback in the newsagent’s shop opposite the house here.
November 23 Sunday: It has turned cooler, so I did not go to the cottage since I could work on the Epilogue to advantage, but I did not get much done.
November 24 Monday: By contrast today I got on powerfully and did the thirties almost at a sitting. It is quite remarkable how the brain seems suddenly to take the bit between its teeth, just after it seemed that nothing would ever get into order.
November 25 Tuesday: I did not sleep well. It was as if the next few pages were dictating themselves to me half the night. I got on with some of it during the day and for the rest made notes for when I get back.
November 26 Wednesday: I went to Ripley and discussed with Reynolds a more “tabloid” layout starting next month. He thought he could do it.
November 27 Thursday (London): After leaving Ripley yesterday I came to London and went to a meeting of the Marylebone Labour Party. I wondered who it was has had me invited. Then I saw Sonia Clements, Dick Clements’s [Editor of the left-wing weekly, “Tribune”] mother. The woman who met me at St Pancras told me that the Nunan sisters, “three old speakers” as she called them, sold the Labour Party monthly magazine. So that is the Nunan tradition, but I wish I knew more about the father. Lady Lucan was there (at least I assume it was she) and said she was Irish. But we had looked up her family name and it was not Sarsfield anyway. And the woman who drove me to the station explained that her husband was the chief police inspector at King’s Cross!
Today I was in the office from 10 am. to 10.40 pm., sending out letters in connection with the paper. Sean Redmond has been talking with me of the members who seem to know things. He said that the whole of the London IRA had been dismissed and must re-apply for membership. Also that Eamon Smullen was “No.2” in England, and that “we would be surprised if we knew who No.1 was”. Apparently “No.1” has not been dismissed. Sean and I were speculating as to what had happened. It looks as if they suspect that people have been given away. But as always with that organisation [ie.the Goulding-led IRA/Sinn Fein, which were to split over the following two months] it is impossible to know what policy they are reallypursuing.
Fiona Connolly rang in the evening. Before I went to Liverpool last Sean Redmond showed me or told me of a Marx House Bulletin which said that a great number of James Connolly’s relics had been presented to Marx House by Bert Edwards and Mrs Edwards. They were delighted with the present. We knew of course that these were the documents Hostettler had been consulted about during the time Robbie Rossiter went up with her as a “strong arm man” but without getting them [Rossiter had accompanied Mrs Connolly-Edwards to protect her against her then unstable husband]. I advised Sean to send the prospectus to Fiona Connolly, and then when she knew she could decide what to do.
She told me tonight that when she saw the Bulletin she “hit the ceiling” and wrote as once to Roddy Connolly. I advised her to go and see Andrew Rothstein, but to speak to nobody else. It was important that nobody communicated with Bert or he might throw a canary fit and burn the lot. But she could tell Marx House that they might display some of the exhibits for a period, provided they gave them back.
She explained that some of the letters from James Connoly to Lillie Reynolds she had not read. Neither had Roddy. He had started and he was so emotionally upset that he decided not to go on. This must be the Perth-Dundee period. She was determined they were not going on display till she was dead. She would leave them to her son in all probability but might agree with him to put them in the National Library, or for that matter Marx House. I suggested that she might reserve those she did not want to be made public for a long period, and to let Marx House have copies of any she placed in another library. Another thing is that there are a few dozen notebooks containing writings by Roddy Connolly all in shorthand. “They’ll get their shorthand experts at it,” said she, “but they’ll get nowhere. It is a special shorthand invented by Roddy himelf.”
She says that she and her son (also Roderick, and the one Bert Edwards accused of incest in one of his madder moment) were at first very angry with Bert but now they rather feel pity.
“Quite right too,” I observed. “The trouble started when he was retired out of the Union without a penny pension”.
“Thrown on the dungheap!” said Fiona.
So the thing is to get Marx House to play ball, and get the things out of his clutches.
November 28 Friday: I sent out quite a deal of correspondence in preparation for the “face-lift” I will give the paper next month. Joe Donnelly called [ie. the poet Charlie Donnelly’s brother; Donnelly was killed in the Spanish Civil War].
November 29 Saturday: Again I was in the office most of the time, and at various times came in Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly and others. At about 12.15 Donnelly arrived and we called up for lunch at Flann Campbell’s. His huge lump of an eighteen-year-old son Christopher had had his birthday party last night. The parents were not invited but seemingly provided the booze for the youngsters – and plenty there was indeed or had been. From a table littered with bottles Flann managed to locate a solitary decanter.
To Mary [Mrs Flann Campbell] scandal is the spice of life. So we started on Ewart Milne, and so on to Stella [One of TA Jackson’s two daughters who was married to Milne], and the poem against Gilmore [? surname unclear], a copy of which is in Holborn Library. Then we got to Charlie Donnelly. Flann Campbell had not met him but Mary had. She had met him in the dingier premises of the Trade Union Club which she thought was in Shaftsbury Avenue (but was more likely the one we used for conferences, I think in Newport Street). Donnelly was mad on military tactics. He was discussing the Spanish Civil War and Clausewitz and used the whole of a box of matches. They had to raid all the surrounding table for matches till he could complete the battle array. Another interesting thing came from Flann. Desmond FitzGerald’s book describes his calling at a house in Wicklow where the woman had been and the man was anxious to get rid of him. Apparently the people were Flann Campbell’s parents. His mother was an English woman, but his father Joseph Campbell had signed the original Volunteers’ Manifesto.
In the evening I was out in Paddington with Des Logan [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat”].
November 30 Sunday: The Standing Committee was held in the morning. Among other things Sean Redmond announced his resignation. Despite the problems it will create, it was not in me to feel sorry. His smallmindedness revealed itself even at the last meeting but one. We had decided to charge organisations which held meetings in our committee room. He has allowed many meetings to be held but has charged nothing. We pointed out that it had been decided to charge. “Yes,” he said, “but no procedure for charging had been agreed, so I couldn’t do anything.” What happened was that he had accepted the bookings, told nobody, and sheltered behind the plea of “no procedure” until I walked into the room and found a meeting in progress. He has accepted a job as personal assistant to the secretary of one of the house unions attached to the Insurance Workers’ Union. He has the making of a fine bureaucrat. We will see how much his better qualities stand up to the stresses of the new environment. It may do him good to be out of this small world where he is the kingpin. His head is swelled to bursting. And his manners to people from whom he hopes to gain nothing leave much to be desired. So we must leave him out. The work he has done is solid and useful and this past year he has been very active.
Indeed, I do not understand the basis of this spurt of activity and travelling just before he leaves. It is as if he could bear to see nobody else in the limelight. I think nevertheless he will tidy things up and leave everything straight. Then later we will find out little things that will explain what was not obvious.
Fiona rang up. She had made an appointment with Rothstein, but felt he was a little chilly. He knew nothing about it.
In the afternoon the conference took place [This was a conference of Irish organisations in Britain, sponsored by the “Irish Democrat” and called in Jockey Fields, London, at which it was decided to set up an ad hoc committee of the participating organisations and to take up a national petition to Parliament calling for a Bill of Rights to establish democracy in the Six Counties. This legislation at Westminster was envisaged as an alternative to leaving the North unreformed on the one hand and imposing direct rule from London on the other]. It was really a recall of the one wrecked by NICRA. The euphoria had cooled off. Delegates were present from Birmingham, Coventry, Manchester (Social Justice), Oxford and London (Civil Rights), the two CA branches, the MCF, and a few Labour Party and Trade Union people. It was decided to set up an ad hoc committee to take up a national petition. Old McNally was there, and Frank Farley from Coventry. McDowell (Birmingham) had been talking to Hume [i.e. John Hume] who was in favour of joining the “Ulster Defence Regiment”. He is civil but not to be trusted. This defence regiment is an astute move, and the absence of theoretical clarity in Belfast Left circles seems to prevent their exercising influence on the nationalists who are heavily divided. We got unity very early because the IRA members of London NICRA were at the NICRA conference in Belfast. Among those present were Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly, Pat Bond, Sean Redmond, who opened the discussion, Columba Longmore, Duignan, Chris Sullivan, Eddie MacManus, Elsie O’Dowling, Jane Tate, Joe Deighan (silent as behoves an elder statesman) and others. I took the chair.
When it was over some of us went to Schmidt’s and had a drink later with the Manchester boys and some of the Birminghams, among them silly old Joe. He was spinning me a yarn about a sum of money to be available to make possible the re-printing of my pamphlet on Fr O’Flanagan. “But it’ll have to be given in a roundabout way.”
December 1 Monday (Liverpool): I went into the office in the morning and did another batch of letters, to people who had attended the conference. Then I came up to Liverpool, and did a few hours work on the Epilogue.
December 2 Tuesday: I did some work on the Epilogue. In the evening I went to the CA meeting. I had not received an invitation, but since we had duplicated in London I might be presumed to know. I found them sitting chatting. The chairman Barney Morgan had not turned up. Quite early on Brian Stowell said he wanted to resign as secretary. He had expected Barney to be there as he had been talking to him last night. The innocent! I imagine he disclosed his intention and lazybones decided not to be available. I persuaded Stowell to carry on but I know he will not do so. Later it struck me to let it collapse, and then to unship Morgan. There will be no loss of sales as Pat McLaughlin does them all except for the 50 that Barney Morgan takes to Warrington.
December 3 Wednesday: I spent the day on the Epilogue. It is taking longer than I had hoped. Everything always does!
December 4 Thursday: Another day spent on the Epilogue. I have moved into the 30s.
December 5 Friday: I have now started on the story of the War. It is surprising how much time has passed!
December 6 Saturday: I had a letter from Michael O’Riordan to the effect that he has finished a life of Frank Ryan. He wants to see me badly, I don’t know what for, but one question will be the Republican/IWP school. This was off, now it is on again. I was busy on the Epilogue.
December 7 Sunday: I spent the whole day again on the Epilogue and am dealing with the early war years.
December 8 Monday: I spent the day on the Epilogue. Sean Redmond telephoned. There has been trouble with Des Hensey who has been caught stealing money. Apparently on Friday Sean Redmond missed £5 from his wallet. He guessed it might be Des Hensey. And in the meantime hadn’t a boy called O’Donovan, who lodged with him, found two wallets, his own (which had disappeared) and Peter Mulligan’s pushed down the side of the bed. Of course he brought Peter’s in. They consulted Sean Redmond. When Des Hensey appeared, which he did, they tackled him in the back room. He had, he confessed, been in trouble before and it had been reported to the police. He promised to repay. Then he was hauled into court for not doing so. Sean guesses he thieves from new victims to repay the old! I told Sean he should be thrown out of the CA. He said he did not want to bring in the police. I agreed. Then Sean Redmond said he had asked if he could still attend the Wednesday meetings. Sean had agreed as he hoped to get the money back. But this means he may go to the police and get money for telling them the names of people who attend the meeting. Then he can repay. It might be better to let him away, tell him to fuck off and not be seen near us again, and compensate the losers some other way. As Sean Redmond observed, “He’s not the Des Hensey of a couple of years ago.” And yet I always noticed a slight shiftiness and a sharpness with it. I was quite sure in my own mind that it was he who misrepresented a speech of mine to Peter MacManus of the South London. But I put it down to IRA interests, which shows you never know.
I brought the Epilogue to the end of the war. Twenty-five more years!
December 9 Tuesday (London): I went to London and heard more of the Des Hensey affair. Some of it was a little amusing. He had swiped £25 from Peter Mulligan and when he saw him without the price of a meal handsomely lent him £3! He had assured Sean Redmond on Saturday that he had never stolen anything before nor would again. But that same night he lifted 10/- from somebody else!
The International Affairs Committee was in the evening. Denis Ogden who has left the Morning Star and is rapidly going to the bad in a university post, proposed a provocative resolution condemning the Russian writers for expelling Solzhetsyn – if I have the name right [Properly Solzhenytsyn]. Rothstein was very angry indeed. Sean Redmond drove him home dropping me at the office and he recounted the story of the only time he had heard Lenin speak. He was in Russia with Willie Paul. It would I suppose be in 1922, and the government had not only demanded food for the cities but compelled the peasants to give a day a week carting it in their own vehicles. There was an indignant meeting. Speaker after speaker denounced the iniquitous levy. An anarchist got up. “Didn’t I tell you this would happen if you voted in the Bolsheviks? Didn’t I say the producers must have their products in common?” The speakers on the platform were scattered. But Lenin was in the wings and slipped on to the platform. The mood changed. There was violent cheering that went on for five minutes. Then as was his wont he took out his watch. There was silence.
“I understand,” he said, “that you are all very dissatisfied over these cartage levies. But you must consider the international situation …” He did not mention the Anarchist. All was well. Then a speaker – an old Bolshevik – got up and thinking to improve the shining moment declared that the Anarchists’ principle of the producers holding their product in common was that during the bread shortage the cooperative bakers alone were well fed. And this restored the position of the anarchists. So, says Andrew, “You need to keep your head in politics.” This apropos of the fact that though he was bursting with indignation he said nothing.
I had a brief word with Robin Page Arnot and find I misjudged the meaning of his remark after the Congress. Indeed he seems to feel much as I do. “I was about to say,” he remarked, “that Congress spent the whole day discussing a far-away country of which we know very little, and as a result we missed the vital question of Ireland.” And of course he was right.
At the office I found Charlie Cunningham and Jim Kelly. We had a drink and went home.
December 10 Wednesday: In the day I worked on the paper. In the evening I addressed the Branch meeting. Joe Deighan is making himself pleasant now Sean Redmond is going – within his capacity so to do! The attendance was very good – about 30. After it was over I had a talk with Vivien Morton [one of TA Jackson’s two daughters] who was staying with Jane Tate. I mentioned Ewart Milne’s poem in the frontispiece of TA Jackson’s book. “Oh my God!” she said, “I’d forgotten about that.” To make matters worse, it turns out that Stella is the eldest daughter. Vivien thought she would consult Cornforth and then write to Stella. The Irish Times contained a long letter from Ewart condemning the agitation against apartheid as part of a world-wide Communist plot to bring down civilization!
Incidentally, talking about people who are off their heads Rothstein told me last night that Fiona has agreed to allow Marx House to keep her papers on long-term loan and they will say nothing to Bert Edwards about it.
And talking about people who are anything but off their heads, I found a young Jackeenish individual called MacManus very anxious to talk in the pub. He seemed very concerned about the paper. How dreadful that the price of printing it had gone up. How did he know, I asked. I don’t recall showing Ripley’s letter to anybody. Jim Kelly would say nothing, nor I think Charlie Cunningham. Afterwards he came into the office. He wanted to speak to me privately. I remember its crossing my mind what would you do if a man pulled a gun! This was of course not serious. It indicated my bewilderment at the request for an interview at 11.20 pm.
I should have known. He wanted Sean Redmond’s job. He was single. He was used to living on low wages. He admitted he knew little politics. But he would do anything. He was afraid the Connolly Association would become like Clann na hEireann when Sean Redmond left. Others were worried, too – “six or seven of us who meet socially”. In other words the element orientated towards certain groups in Dublin. A take-over, thought I. I told him I did not think the post would be filled for some time. He said he had discussed the matter with Pat Bond.
December 11 Thursday: In the morning I mentioned to Sean Redmond that MacManus – who was in the Bogside, sent from London by Brendan McGill – had been canvassing Pat Bond “Oh – I know that,” said he, “Pat Bond told me.” I expressed some dissatisfaction that he had not thought to tell me. This is the streak of secrecy, as if nobody must break his monopoly of the strings of communication. Last night Bobby Heatley was complaining that a man from Belfast was looking for him last week – one of the Brutons he thought – and Sean Redmond had not passed the message on. “The departmentalized mind!” said Charlie Cunningham, whatever that meant. But he must have felt twinges of conscience nonetheless for soon he was offering to help me send out 300 letters. However there was no need.
In the evening came Gerry Curran, Jim Kelly, Charlie Cunningham and Columba Longmore, the artist.
I saw Jack Henry in the day on his site at Horseferry Road. He told me that MacManus had been at him too! He told him the job was political and he needed to know politics. “Would you have to be in the Communist Party to get that?” he asked, “Because I‘ve been thinking of joining it for a long time.”
I told Jack Henry my suspicions. “It fits like a glove,” he remarked. He is to see MacManus on Saturday. We arranged some meetings of building workers.
December 12 Friday (Liverpool): I was in the office in the morning. In the afternoon I went to look at some black storage cabinets in Leyton at a huge junk store run by a young Turk. I chanced buying one. I went to Liverpool.
December 13 Saturday: There were letters from Sean Morrissey and others. I at once plunged into work on the Epilogue.
December 14 Sunday: I spent the whole day working on the Epilogue and brought it towards completion.
December 15 Monday: I finished the Epilogue at midday. I phoned Cornford about typing and learned the office was closed. They all have influenza.
December 16 Tuesday (Belfast): I spent most of the day clearing off odds and ends of correspondence and then went on board ship for Belfast.
December 17 Wednesday: I left the ship in pitch-darkness and had to wait in the passenger lounge until 9.54 am. before it was light. So much for that ass Wilson [Prime Minister Harold Wilson] and his Central European time. I rang Betty Sinclair and called up to see her. We could do little but sit and drink. It deluged down rain which periodically turned to sleet, and cars coming into the city were covered with snow. Betty told me of talk of a “National Liberation Front” between Communists and Republicans. What in heaven’s name did they mean? She wasn’t sure. She thought the Republicans complete amateurs and was hesitant about entering into formal arrangements with them, the more so since it would seem that they would take things their way. She is now completely “rehabilitated” [that is, with her colleagues in the CPNI following disputes over her role on the NICRA Executive]. But when I told her Sean Redmond was leaving she said she would not mind the job herself. The Belfast Trades Council is losing affiliations as Trade Unions amalgamate. It is hard to keep going. She said she would never have returned to Belfast but for the fact that McCullough persuaded her [Billy McCullough, Belfast Trades Council chairman and leading CPNI member, Betty Sinclair’s partner]. But another interesting thing is that Jimmy Stewart takes on full-time work in January [ie.for the CPNI]. Betty does not think the position is healthy, however, as a number of Protestant members are falling out. Of course Stewart, who was as cautious and compromising as possible on the Partition question a few years ago, has been caught up like Jack Bennett was in the excitement of Republicanism and talks like an IRA man!
I went up to see John McCelland and indeed stayed there the night. We went with Betty Sinclair to the Engineers’ Club in the evening. Sam Gardiner was there. John told me that the Protestant community are sour and suspicious. Arms are coming in all the time. Everybody confidently predicts civil war and regards it as inevitable.
Of NICRA he says they are at sea. The McCluskeys helped “People’s Democracy” to oust Betty Sinclair. Now they want to remove those who did the former service for them. Above all they cannot grasp British responsibility. As for Edwina Menzies, who was to replace Betty Sinclair and set things straight again, she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown [Edwina Stewart, née Menzies, who was in the CPNI, had replaced Betty Sinclair on the NICRA Executive following the latter’s resignation with three others over the proposal by Michael Farrell and Kevin Boyle of People’s Democracy to hold an unstewarded civil rights march through Loyalist East Belfast to Stormont]. Not that I would have any sympathy for her, after the way she came over to London reporting that she had accepted the bogus London “NICRA” (another name for the IRA) because they would gather people “who would not work with the Connolly Association”. It is poetic justice. The same London NICRA with its nominal eight branches (that must be one person per branch) sent eight identical telegrams to the last general meeting.
In John McClelland’s house was his brother-in-law, who fought against the proposal to merge the NILP in the British Labour Party. Quite a good fellow. He played us a tape-recording of his speech.
December 18 Thursday (Dublin): I did not get into town till late and failed to contact Jack Bennett, so I went on to Dublin by the afternoon train and went up to Cathal’s [ie. Cathal MacLiam’s at 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines]. He has chopped his beard off, and a good thing too. Apparently following some criticisms he made of the working of the factory he has been offered a new big job as Production Planning Manager. So he must be Bohemian no more. The children are in great form. Little Killian is running around with his fingers into everything. Bebhinn is still the sweet little charmer, Conor has become much more self-confident and Finula and Egon are livelier than ever. A wonderful family. And once more all at the top of the classes at school. Finula came first in music so there is to be a piano bought.
I had had this letter from Michael O’Riordan asking me in about five different ways to be sure and contact him. So Cathal drove me down in the car Helga brought from Germany for one year. He had spoken of a joint school with the Republicans. It was off, now it is on again. And he named a date in February and a place I took to be in Co. Cavan. Second, there are proposals for the fusing of the IWP and the CPNI. A problem is the name. I was hesitant about Communist Party. I also wondered whether they would not be better to seek a joint programme and joint action first. I think that recent events have toppled them too far. They do not see that the anti-imperialist forces went into action ideologically unprepared and without their allies, or the allies they could have had later. The two qualities that so often go with Irish courage are precipitancy and intellectual arrogance. And these are about in plenty now. O’Riordan thinks that if they combined forces they would have to think of a national policy. So he is set on speedy reunification and showed me his document. I said nothing, but I had it in my pocket. Betty Sinclair had given me it. It has its points. But it smacks of the “National Liberation Front”, which, they say, is Roy Johnston’s invention. I don’t doubt it. Incidentally, they tell me that the IRA has held schools and that they use the group system favoured by the British CP, and who introduced it to them? The same man, I do not doubt, without acknowledgement.
When we got back to 24 Belgrave Road which we did after hearing Michael O’Riordan’s young daughter play the harp – Tony Coughlan was waiting. He had been in Belfast, but as usual was mysterious about his activities. Partly this is romanticism, partly also I think the fear that somebody might douche with cold water something he had set his mind on.
December 19 Friday: I saw Joe Donnelly first and then met Tony Coughlan for lunch. He brought with him a student in his early twenties named Daltun Kelly [Daltún O Ceallaigh, Belfastman, member of the Trinity College Republican Club]. He had worked on the illegal radio behind the barricades at Belfast. They say he has come on enormously in the past few months and he is older than most students, about 22 I would think. I can’t remember what he looked like and doubt if I would recognize him again. This is a good sign. There was nothing special in his attire or appearance. However, I was favourably impressed and I think Tony Coughlan considers he has a find. I was in the National Library.
December 20 Saturday: I was in the National Library all morning. MacLoughlin whom I saw yesterday has lost his brother suddenly, and was not in. I saw Roy Johnston who came in and invited me to the house. He had before him a half bottle of whiskey and had taken some of it. I helped him to take the rest. He told me that Brendan McGill was not in his opinion the London agent of the IRA. But who was, he professed not to know. He even went so far as to suggest that that gentleman was running a “Fianna Fail IRA” tendency with Blaney [Neil Blaney, Fianna Fail Minister at the time] to run guns from Donegal into Derry. I said not un-naturally that I couldn’t credit it. He likewise professed ignorance of the Bruton affair and thinks this may be the Belfast mutineers. I asked him why if they must play soldiers they didn’t send over revolutionaries instead of “fucking amateurs”. This did not offend him in the slightest, so one imagines he genuinely thinks the Republicans in Dublin have no responsibility for the attempts at getting arms. Yet Garland [Sean Garland, leading Republican] is “on the run” for robbing a bank and Smullen [Eamon Smullen] offers the Huddersfield gunsmith two hundred thousand, the proceeds of bank robberies! So who is who and what and where?
Roy Johnston has retired from the “Army Council”. Apparently, as I predicted, he got the blame for certain weaknesses in Belfast. Apparently he does not like being denounced. So he retired. Now they can denounce somebody else. But he says a recent convention voted 31/8 that Sinn Fein should go into the Dail. I represented to him that now the IRA has taken a democratic decision that Sinn Fein will take a democratic decision to send deputies into Leinster House, there now remained a third democratic decision to be made, but the electorate would do that. I impressed on him the danger and evil of civil war in the North, and perhaps I made a slight impression. He tells me he and Mairin are scarcely speaking, and I said they would soon be facing each other across the floor of the Dail. He did not appreciate this. And the trouble is that he is a good lad, and God gave him the most mechanical brain in the world. He said, incidentally, that Maire Comerford has being keeping away from Wolfe Tone meetings and he blames Tony Coughlan, whom he thinks had upset her.
December 21 Sunday: In the afternoon Cathal drove myself, Egon, Conor and Finuala to the Pine Forest. Helga wanted holly. The place was swarming with Dublin motorists stripping the trees and hedges. Cathal came back without any. I think he was too disgusted to join the rape. When one does it, all is well. But then holly acquires value. Everybody does it. There is no holly. In the evening I went out to see Maire Comerford. She did not like Tony Coughlan’s pamphlet. She thought they were so acting as to drive neutral forces into antagonism – exactly my criticism. Of the Wolfe Tone Society she said she objected to being manipulated by a small group – she recalls the IRB of course. I may add I object to it too, and they’d do it in London if they could, with ruthless vigour. And she thinks the Civil Rights people in the North have made “blunder after blunder”. Third point of agreement!
December 22 Monday (Liverpool): I had lunch with Tony Coughlan. Then in the evening Cathal drove me to the Liverpool car ferry. He is going to Cambridge soon in connection with his new job and may call on the way back.
December 23 Tuesday (London): I went to 124 Mount Road to see if there was any mail. There was a card from Mabel Taylor[one of his maternal aunts]. Then I came to London. I sorted a few papers, and found Charlie Cunningham had left me a bottle of wine, which was very kind of him, and then went to a CP branch presided over by Betty Reid, with Jack Cohen a member. He has grown a bit more respectful since the ructions [that is, the August 1969 developments in Northern Ireland]. He was one of those who thought I was “wasting my time”[ie. by Greaves devoting himself full-time to the Irish question over the years]. Alf Kearney was there and we had a drink – four of us – afterwards.
December 24 Wednesday: I worked on the paper most of the day. I am taking extra pains both with layout and material in hopes of attracting a larger circulation. Sean Redmond was in but left early. His desk is clear and everything filed away. That means I don’t know what has being going on. In the evening I had a drink with Joe Deighan and expressed some resentment at the way things have been conducted – not by Sean Redmond but by more influential people – over the past twenty years [presumably a reference to senior people in the CPGB and their lack of support on the Irish issue]. He had spoken to Sean and has been told that he proposes to continue as “Honorary Secretary” at least until the conference in April. This did not please me much but it leaves little choice. At last however Joe Deighan is seeing the petty side. He asked Sean why Susan did not attend the branch meeting. Sean explained that it was because Jane Tate was dictatorial at work. Now it was Jane Tate whose desire to interest Susan Redmond in politics led her to make the match and invite Sean and Susan to parties. She has consistently defended Susan and Sean. Nothing more “small minded” could have been said. Yesterday Sean Redmond told me that Jane had made an error of addition and the CA was £93 worse off than he had believed. I mentioned it to Jane, without criticism. She replied that she had taken on the job of treasurer as a stop-gap and had stayed for six years. Now what happened was that while Sean Redmond was on holiday I got her to take on the job for three months. At the end of the three months I mentioned to Sean that he should look for somebody else. He had by now quite forgotten that it was I had found her for the job and replied airily that he had everything fixed up. So I left it at that – now she throws it at me! While he is using her as a smokescreen.
It is now clear why there is the concealment. He intends to carry on and does not want me poking my nose into things! My suspicion is that he wants the publicity as part of the plan of career. I told Joe Deighan that I entirely reserved my own position. I do not propose to present my back free for stabbing by any of them – any more!
December 25 Thursday: I spent the whole day from about 10 am. till 11 pm. on the paper and got on quite well. I omitted to note one of two things I heard in Ireland. One is that David Thornley has been completely disillusioned by the Dail and is hitting the bottle [Labour TD and TCD academic. Note that this date was Christmas Day].
December 26 Friday: I spent another full day on the paper. Provided I have other peoples’ copy in time it is not hard to make a proper layout. In the evening Charlie Cunningham arrived and we went for a drink at about 10 pm.
December 27 Saturday: I spent another day on the paper and practically finished it. Again in the evening Charlie called in, with his brother, an accountant suffering from atrophy of the critical faculty.
December 28 Sunday (Liverpool): I made some extracts from the Democrat from 1945 onwards, in search of some dates for the Jackson Epilogue. Then in the evening I came to Liverpool.
December 29 Monday: There were cards and letters from Tom Redmond, Charlie Byrne and his wife, Enid Greaves, Dorothy Greaves, Mabel Taylor and Rita Brady. A letter came from Freda [Mrs Freda Morton]. She thanked me most effusively for what I did with Alan. He had gone to a Guy’s Hospital specialist who diagnosed depression and gave him pills which had a dramatic effect. I must say I view the whole thing with suspicion. If your mood and ability to work depends on tinkering with the nervous system it is not good for you. My own opinion is that Alan simply suffers from loss of self-esteem, because he values it immensely and has led the type of sheltered life that usually provides the basis for it. The cure is to get his own back! But instead he is on drugs. Freda disclosed a point I had missed. The Principal has demoted Alan Morton because he is under attack from a Trotsky lecturer he engaged. The Trotsky has threatened to stimulate student disturbances. The Principal is so scared that he will not back his senior staff. He falls over backwards to appease. But of course he too is probably the product of a somewhat sheltered environment, and wants peace and quiet until he retires. Freda Morton also says that Alisoun, the daughter who has gone to Edinburgh to study Irish, wants a talk with me.
December 30 Tuesday: I put some finishing touches to Jackson. I rang Lawrence and Wishart. They closed down through influenza last week. There was no reply, so presumably they are still closed.
December 31 Wednesday: I went to Ripley in the morning. The new layout takes about twice as long in the making up. The management is not pleased, but the comps [compositors] find it more interesting. I was fairly satisfied with the result. But next I have the problem of getting the sales. How do it without a complete shake-up? Perhaps in the provinces.
While at Derby on the way back I bought an Evening News and read of a derailment at Roade There had been snow on the ground in the morning as soon as I got east of Alsager, but it had gone from Derby by afternoon. It was very cold and when the Lincoln-Crewe train was 20 minutes late I thought very little of it. However, I reached Crewe in time to see a train for Manchester draw up. Then another drew up. Those on board did not know for certain where it was going, then it turned out neither did the staff. This would be at about 8.15 pm. Eventually it went on to Manchester. Then came the announcement that the next Liverpool train from Paddington would arrive at 10 pm. I went for a drink and amused myself writing limericks for Cathal’s children, working their names each into a verse [Note this was New Year’s Eve]. The train was the next arrival from the South. Meanwhile trains were started off from Crewe from the North. Belfast Orangemen tried to avoid full payment for drink at the bar, but eventually paid up. The Liverpool train arrived at 10.15. There was scarcely a drink left on board, though it was one of the regular barmen. The upshot was that I got back to 124 Mount Road at 11.45 pm. and let in a very cold New Year.
January 1 Thursday: Much to my surprise the sharp north-east wind of yesterday had disappeared. It was bright and mild and the wind from the SW. I nearly went out by day, but it began to cloud over. I spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone. I had tried to get him to make a statement on the bombs in Dublin but he had not managed it. Again I tried to get through to Lawrence and Wishart – without success.
January 2 Friday: I wrote to Cathal and sent the children their Limericks. A letter came saying he is not going to Cambridge until the 8th and wants to come here on the 18th. At last I spoke to Lawrence and Wishart. There is bad news. The typist who was copying “ Mellows” says she cannot read my handwriting and has let us down. I wrote to May Hayes to ask if she might try it. At least she would know the Irish names. But I also asked Nan Green to approach Fiona [Mrs Fiona Connolly-Edwards, one of James Connolly’s daughters, who had typed Greaves’s biography of her father] again. I thought Jane Tate might do the Epilogue. I posted it to Maurice.
Mrs Stewart telephoned. She had a cold and her son had had influenza and could not get home for Christmas. Mrs Corbett had written to her and said The Bog was “dying” and she thought the Corbetts were living up on the mountain almost by themselves. But though the daughter urged them to come down to Snailbeach, apparently they do not get on well with the husband. And Mr Corbett’s health is uncertain. He can potter around in the place he knows but how would he make out below? So proceeds the march of nonsense, geared by the monopolists’ price structure. It is rural decay like the days of the Roman Empire. I rang Will Pemberton later[the widowed husband of one of his aunts].
January 3 Saturday: A letter from Cornforth told the full woeful story of the Mellows MS. I told him about May Hayes and asked for a deadline. A cutting from Sean Redmond announced that a Kilmacthomas “businessman” was launching a weekly paper for the Irish in Britain on February 14th [This became the weekly “Irish Post” newspaper]. I think he is anxious to give away money. To launch a National Weekly is the hardest thing on earth. The last one went on for fourteen weeks, if I remember aright. At the same time it adds to my problems. It will of course make Sean’s retirement look bad. The trouble is that apart from Pat Bond there is not a really strong reliable man among the lot of them, and he is not by any means what he was. It snowed today, melted into sludge, and froze again.
In the evening I went up at his invitation for a glass of whisky with Will Pemberton. Leslie[a mentally handicapped cousin being cared for by Will Pemberton] was there later, and it was interesting to see the opinion of a person with a mind of a child of six. The “new buses” were “lovely”. The levelling down of Rock Ferry Station and the institution of an exit through a labyrinth was “grand”. So were the viaducts built to take traffic to the tunnel, and the incomplete re-development scheme near Central Station.
January 4 Sunday: The snow lay, while melting a little in the afternoon. I have a slight cold and owing to the weather cannot go to the cottage, the security of which I am worried about. With Mellows away and Jackson done I felt quite at a loose end. If the weather was not so filthy I would go to London and look for circulation for the paper. But I am afraid the house would freeze. I lifted some beetroots which were very good. I made a brief resumé of Sean Murray’s life and noted that the interesting part seems to have ended with 1942. And I also listed from my card index a number of lesser people for short studies.
January 5 Monday: I stayed in bed until about 10.30 am. and as a result managed to “throw off” the cold. But little enough was done in the day. It was wretchedly cold. I ordered another half ton of coal. A phone call came from Sean Redmond to the effect that Fiona had agreed to type Mellows. So there is some progress. I have not heard from May Hayes.
January 6 Tuesday: I decided to go ahead with the memoir of Sean Murray, and began to draw up lists of sources. I rang Tommy Watters and arranged to see him at his house in Manchester tomorrow. I felt quite cheerful in face of the prospect of some interesting research. But how I will hate the writing of it up!
January 7 Wednesday: There was bright sunshine but the snow did not melt – the wind still hacks from a westerly direction, about WNW or NW by W, and it is hard to believe the cold spell can go on long. We had this early in 1945, I remember. It was the first time I had known frost with a west wind – only six years after the big change in the climate. However, I went to Manchester and as nobody knew where Wythenshawe was I took a taxi. Agnes, Tommy Watters’s wife, has had influenza and is still crippled with arthritis. Tommy looks after her. He is really a rather remarkable character, and but for this sickness at home would doubtless have made a much bigger contribution. He is a reader on one of the morning papers.
He reverted while we were talking to an old bone of contention, or argued about twenty years ago – the closing down of the CPI in Dublin [In 1941 when Nazi Germany attacked the USSR communists in Northern Ireland supported the UK war-effort, while their counterparts in the South supported the State’s neutrality, dissolved their organisation and most of them joined the Labour Party]. Years ago he said to me, “If you’d been in my position, you’d have done exactly the same thing.” I do not know if I would, but I was prepared to agree that if things were the way he said they were, I might well. But what he had not said before was where he derived the idea. In 1938 he and Sean Murray came over to a meeting of the British Party and he remembers Murray and himself with Pollitt and Gallacher. Gallacher delivered what amounted to an attack on Murray and Murray was so nonplussed that he did not give a very good account of himself. Gallacher’s criticism was that two hundred people in what was then in British law known as “Eire” masqueraded as a “Communist Party”. “There will always be communist groups in Belfast,” he declared. “But Belfast is not Ireland, Dublin is Ireland.” He proposed the CPI should be closed down. Sean Murray opposed it, so did Tommy Watters, but they all agreed. “But we can’t take the decision,” said Pollitt, “We must recommendit to Moscow.” But apparently nothing happened. But Watters had this in mind in 1940 or 1941 or whenever it was.
He thought the founding of the CPI was premature. It was hurried under pressure from Moscow. I recall incidentally conversations with Jimmy Shields on that question. He thought the same. Tommy Watters said the most useful man ever sent from Britain to Ireland was Bob Stewart. “but he was an easy-going communist,” said Watters. I am not sure what he meant, so cannot say if it fitted him or not.
I returned to Liverpool on the 9.34 and reached the house at 11.25 pm.
January 8 Thursday: I spent most of the day clearing up and making preparations for articles for the paper. I went through Healy’s story of the Chichester frauds and Winder Good’s book on Ulster. Then in the afternoon half a ton of coal arrived.
January 9 Friday (London): I went to London via Birmingham. I discovered that the new bookshop [ie. the local CP bookshop] is to open on 31st of this month and I found Frank Watters in dungarees working on it. It is a drab and dreary city, with nothing attractive in it apart from the tiny city centre. The new development is shocking. However I got an assurance that the Democrat will be stocked. Then I went on to London.
The train was late, indeed I caught one from Manchester which left Birmingham 70 minutes after it was due to go – ten minutes after the one from Liverpool I had gone for! And it lost another hour. I found Sean Redmond there with a lad Art McMillen had sent. I sensed the unspoken hostility.
Then I went on to the International Affairs Committee. Tom MacWhinnie gave an interesting talk on the WFTU [World Federation of Trade Unions in Prague] conference. The unspoken issue was Czechoslovakia. He criticized strongly the sectish attitude of some of the delegations. Apparently the Italians made the running against the Russians. These, he said, proclaimed that the function of the WFTU was to “give total support to the Socialist world”. One of them asked MacWhinnie what he thought of it. He said it would make no impression on Western Europe. Pressed further he said, “The trouble is that you regard the WFTU merely as a means of influence abroad.” “Of course,” replied the Russian. “Well there you are!” The Russian shrugged eloquently and went off. “Why should he care a bugger about MacWhinnie?” said Harry Bourne afterwards, “After all they’ve got power.”
I had a drink with Bourne and Kay Beauchamp. Harry Bourne is always agog with enthusiasm. He is an ideal district secretary because he is always sure [He was CPGB Secretary in Manchester]. And now he wants us to “fall over backwards”, as he calls it, to promote free discussion on all the problems facing the international movement. It is clear that such discussion is required. He says of course that in this country we take free expression for granted and the mass of the people will not have it otherwise, which is good. I dare say “it is possible here without disrupting a movement because of the simplicity of the class structure”, would be the reaction elsewhere. But to me the interesting thing in the new mood is that at last the English are being forced to tackle theory. There is no question, incidentally, that there is a deep sense of grievance in the EC [Executive Committee] members. Woddis took me aside to show me a note published in the Information Bulletin published by Peace and Socialism in Prague. It gives a summary of our tripartite statement [ie. A statement on the Northern Ireland situation issued by the three communist parties, the CPGB, CPNI and IWL, which Greaves had been asked to draft the text of; see Volume 20] which leaves out our reference to Imperialism and makes it appear that we blame the Six County Government alone and want British intervention. In view of references in the Russian press to Paisley as a “Catholic priest” and pictures of British troops attacking Paisleyites captioned “British troops fight the forces of national liberation in Ireland,” I remembered that obviously they didn’t know the first thing about it. He professed to see the motive of discrediting the British CP among the majority of parties who supported the Russian action in Czechoslovakia. There is no doubt however that this practice of “slanting” information is wholly deplorable. It educates nobody and it drives critics into hostility. I wish I had time to sit down and think the whole thing out.
Back in the office before returning to 33 Argyle Street I saw a letter written to Packy Ryan of Oxford. I had been drawing him into writing in the paper. He marked his letter confidential. He wants to start a Connolly Association branch in Oxford, but he wants a private talk with me first. Now this is his initiative. I have never raised with him the question of a CA. Now attached to my confidential letter is Sean Redmond’s carbon copy. He never leaves carbons. His practice is to file everything away in a desert of folders that fills two large cabinets and whose system he periodically changes so that nobody can find anything. When in an attempt to find out what was going on I proposed that carbons should be kept he either failed to do so or kept them out of my way. Why then this one on my table? Because he has written to Ryan to say that starting a CA was his business and they should see him. And the carbon was on my table to pass the information to me!
I spent some time thinking over the position. He wants to remain Secretary till the conference. Why? Presumably to install somebody to act as his agent. Who? His wife? And why? I suspect he wants the publicity attaching to the Connolly Association in order to promote the next stage of his career. So we will see what happens on Sunday. In view of the financial position I thought I would take a firm stand that nobody should be appointed until the money is there, that the main immediate task is making the paper viable; and that the question of secretaryship must be left over if he wants it, but that it must come up again after the conference. I want him well out of the office before the decision is made. As far as the intermediate shenanigans go I can do little about it.
January 10 Saturday: I went into the office at about 10. The first arrival was Eddy MacManus. Then Charlie Cunningham and Pat Hensey came. MacManus was as romantically Republican as ever. He is only 23 and his hero is Pearse. Once again I thought of a comment of that wise old woman Maire Comerford: “What do you think is the origin of the intellectual arrogance of the Irish?” I didn’t know, nor do I, but there is another example of it. But when Charlie Cunningham and I I went to lunch with him it became quite clear that he is quite a good boy at the level of the heart, ready to die for Ireland, only wanting “enough money to live on”, but ready for any wild prank. I told him if there were any wild pranks and he got himself in jail we’d expel him from the Association, though we might send him an occasional postcard. I thought this might go back[that is, to MacManus’s presumed Republican principals in London or Dublin].
Later Frank Small came in and agreed to do the article on Irish scientists. He is a really excellent young man, by far the best of them, with a fine head and energy and enthusiasm. And he is doing well at his studies. I must invite him when Alan Morton is here some time as he is doing botany.
Then Sean Redmond came. There was much talk of the split in the Republican movement [Sinn Fein and the IRA had split between “Officials” and “Provisionals” recently in Dublin – the IRA in December and Sinn Fein in January]. Sean says it has put McGill the way he is not on speaking terms with Clann na hEireann, who have repudiated the new Leinster House policy. The improvement in the Democrat has made quite a “hit”. Eddie MacManus offered a periodical article on Irish postage stamps, Pat O’Donohue, a good lad, on radio. Pat Hensey made suggestions on articles on actors. In part the interest had been stimulated by a talk Sean Redmond gave on Wednesday.
I spoke to Gerry Curran. I had written to Toni saying very very diplomatically that I hoped she would do more with the accounts. Dorothy Deighan and Joe had to do the stocktaking. Gerry said that Toni would not come up because of the antagonism Sean Redmond shows to her and the “atmosphere”. I later saw Jim Kelly. He does not seem quite so keen. It crossed my mind that perhaps Sean Redmond is giving him the “treatment” too – anybody who is working closely with me, or who was doing so. Gerry was hoping I would spend all my time in London when Sean goes. But I do not propose to do so. I had close on ten years wasted by the intrigues and oppositions of Prendergast, O’Shea and the bunch, with nothing but indifference at best from Kay Beauchamp, Mahon and company[A reference to antagonism towards Greaves’s political work in the Connolly Association and the Irish community during the 1950s by some Irish members of the CPGB, supported by members of that party’s London District Committee]. I have a few years left to do what I should have been doing then. I say a few years left – perhaps I should add, “I hope.” If anybody says, “That is very bad,” I reply it is a pity nothing was done at the time [presumably a reference to what might have been if Greaves had been able to get a stronger Irish movement going earlier, with stronger British Labour Movement support, which might have been better able to influence Labour Government policy in a progressive direction in the 1960s, perhaps heading off moves towards direct rule of the North from London, then being called for by various parties, and the accompanying Republican/Loyalist violence].
I was out with Pat Hensey in the evening. It is extremely interesting that he has a shrewd notion that McGill is trying to “use” us. I have no doubt of it. He is continually on the telephone urging Sean Redmond to do this or that. I wonder what will happen when he cannot get through. A faction round Eddie MacManus?
January 11 Sunday: The Standing Committee took place in the morning, with Pat Bond, Joe Deighan, Sean Redmond, Pat Hensey, Toni Curran and Jim Kelly. There was a long agenda. The interesting item was Sean Redmond’s retirement from full-time work. He has the conception that he will continue as the General Secretary. He made three propositions – the appointment of a successor to do organizing work (i.e. a return to the Coughlan position) [a reference to the position which Anthony Coughlan held as full-time Connolly Association organiser in 1960-61], the appointment of a full-time worker on the Irish Democrat, or the appointment of a shorthand typist. He would like the last and envisages himself talking into a dictaphone. Yet because of an error in addition the whole thing has an overdraft of £100. I proposed a loan of £20 from the book fund. I also told them it was nonsense to think in terms of appointing anybody till the debt was paid off. I imagine it will be some time. Sean elaborated on his plans for coming in the evenings and running a voluntary system. But he doesn’t know if his new job would permit his being a General Secretary. Toni Curran, regarding whom Gerry Curran says that she is only plunging into local politics because of “the atmosphere” in the office, was there. She raised a question which was natural enough, namely that Sean Redmond had made all his dispositions on the assumption that I did not exist. She asked would I be in London. I said nothing then but later said if there was a danger of collapse I would endeavour to prevent it. A question rose in regard to Clann na hEireann, who got our support to a meeting and then introduced Lawless. Sean Redmond first wriggled and then went white with anger and started to bluster, until Toni Curran acutely presented the problem in a simple and unanswerable form, namely, that we should ask who else was speaking when we accepted an invitation.
Now in the afternoon the delegates of “Social Justice” and others from Manchester, Birmingham, Coventry and Oxford arrived [for a meeting of the joint committee of Irish organisations in Britain, and supportive British organisations, which the Connolly Association had initiated in face of the Northern crisis]. Hostettler did not turn up for the CP, nor did Barbara Haq. But O’Donoghue was there from the CDU[Campaign for Democracy in Ulster]. It was all peace until we discussed the text of the petition which I had drafted to include amendment of the Government of Ireland Act [a petition to be presented to Prime Minister Wilson, inter alia opposing direct rule]. O’Donoghue objected. He had two points. First, he wanted the precise action taken to be left to “Mr Wilson and his advisers”. Alas, we might find ourselves instead at the mercy of Mr Heath and his advisers. O’Donoghue thought Mr Wilson’s advisors very good ones. The other was that he wanted the way left open for the incorporation of the Six Counties in Britain. So this must be what Labour is playing for. The delegates were round the table. The “observers” (“there to observe the delegates, not the meeting”, said Sean Redmond), on chairs round the wall pushing up an occasional note.
I took the chair. On my left was Sean Redmond, then Pat Ward a CA member representing Coventry, then Frank Conway (CA Coventry). On the opposite side were McDowell of Birmingham (very much a Hibernian, I would say), and Michael Brennan from Manchester. Finally “Hammie” O’Donoghue on my right. O’Donoghue put up a potent rearguard action and won poor confused Brennan on to his side because he was totally out of his depth. Oxford and Coventry stood firm. For one dreadful moment Birmingham wavered. At that point I proposed that those who agreed should proceed and the others refer back to their committees. McDowell’s main concern was to take something back with him. He threw over a cheque for ten pounds as a contribution towards the cost of printing [ie. printing the joint petition forms]. Round the back were Joe Deighan, Charlie Cunningham, a girl and a young boy from Manchester (somewhat displeased that Brennan had not shown himself master of the situation), a young man from Birmingham who impressed me well and said he was “fascinated” by the discussion. “There’ll be talk all the way to Manchester in that car,” commented Charlie Cunningham. After that Charlie and the Oxfords went with me for a drink.
The Oxfords told me privately before this that they had tried to start a Connolly Association, but Leahy had collected subscriptions and not passed the money in. Sean Redmond said he would go to Oxford.
January 12 Monday (Liverpool): In the morning, possibly without adequate thought, I asked Sean Redmond to see he left me carbon copies of correspondence as when he was out of the office I would need to know what had happened and I wanted to familiarise myself with things. This may have rankled. After lunch the question of sending out the petition forms for approval came up and there was a disagreement about what had been decided. My impression was that Sean was trying to confine the campaign within limits he could control himself – that is, the CA contribution should be based on office work, whereas I stressed the need to provide the means for the members of the committees to get on the streets. He wanted a space on each copy for organisations to place their stamps. I thought if this must be done it should be on the reverse. He became quite angry, and at one point said, “I’ve being doing the work these past six months and if you think that you’re going to take over you’ve another think coming.” I made no reply, but drafted a memorandum setting my views, and typed six copies. He was blustering about referring it to the members of the Standing Committee. I then drew up the form as I thought best and handed it to him with the memorandum. I had been prepared to dispatch it myself, but since he wanted no take-over, why should I disappoint him. I told him to ascertain the views of the other members by any means that suited him and I would accept the majority view. There would have to be a discussion, he said. I agreed, but that was for him. “Well why not discuss now?” he said, half impertinent, half conciliatory. “Very well”. So it was agreed not to put the organisations on, but to discuss the approach to organisations separately at the next meeting of the Coordinating Committee. However, it was interesting that he showed his hand. What is the significance of it? It is twofold. First, he is like the man retiring who still wants to run the business. Second, I think he regards this job as a stepping-stone to a job in the Labour movement back in Ireland. He had me helping him draft a press statement even after the dispute. He is happy that I should draft the statement, but they must go out over his name. And he wants this to continue so as to further his career. And perhaps one might add for good measure that his head is completely turned. But I do not believe he will be able to do the thing on a voluntary basis.
In the afternoon also Gerry Curran came in. He is looking for another job. He told me that discipline has collapsed in the party in west London. Divisions are appearing on all manner of issues and members fighting each other in Trade Unions and so on. This arises from the international divisions. I am very dissatisfied with the Russian handling of Biafra [Desmond Greaves favoured the Biafran side in the Nigerian civil war going on at the time]. Others are dissatisfied with other things and the confusion grows. This is no doubt partly the basis of Sean Redmond’s behaviour. Today he said he would resign from the International Affairs Committee so as to devote all his spare time to the Connolly Association. Oh! To have the time to spend on theoretical work that alone will clear up this mess.
The Sinn Fein split was Eddie MacManus’s concern. I see Roy Johnston has gone on to the new Ard Comhairle [ie. of the Cathal Goulding-led “Officials”, as against the “Provisionals”, deriving from the recent Republican split]. Cathal Goulding, Tomas MacGiolla and others are on it. But Ruane [Tony Ruane] is with the breakaways and no doubt they will split in London too. I think on balance I am glad Roy has stuck it out. After all he got them into the mess as I told him he would, and to pull out would be irresponsible. I came back to Liverpool.
January 13 Tuesday: I did not do much. May Hayes says she will type the book. So now I have two! I wrote to Cornforth to ask if he thought we might get it out this year. I was thinking about the Sean Redmond business and decided to take no action until action is demanded. I don’t want a position to grow up where a disgruntled part-time secretary who is not doing the job is a constant critic of others who do it for him. Better to hive off from him departments that readily link with the Democrat work as he is ready to part with them, and keep general control, through resolutions at the Standing Committee and Executive Committee meetings framed with a good eye to the more distant future. It takes no skin off my nose if he succeeds in his plans for a career, but he is not going to do it at my expense or after keeping everything in his hands for the sake of publicity, then clear off and leave us flat.
January 14 Wednesday: I did some preliminary scouting round for material on the Glens of Antrim, [ie. relating to the background of Sean Murray,1898-1961, whose biography Greaves was then thinking of undertaking, a project that he later abandoned] and wrote some more letters.
January 15 Thursday: Much to my surprise, and it may be added, displeasure, I received from Sean Redmond minutes of the Standing Committee and a circular he had sent out which calmly appropriated the broad Coordinating Committee of Irish organisations and made the campaign one under the CA aegis. I fear the shape of things to come is clearly seen. This is the first time he has played the bureaucratic trick of carefully wording a statement to give his own interpretation, and incidentally breaking our agreement of last Monday. I decided I would write a reply, but wait until my indignation had cooled, and think well about all sides first. Cathal rang at night.
January 16 Friday: I wrote a reply to Sean Redmond in which I politely requested a special meeting of the Standing Committee to discuss the methods to be adopted in launching the broad campaign. If the others agree to the conception to which he is trying to tie us, well and good. Cathal arrived about 9.30 pm. He had been engaged in a whirl of factory-visiting all week. His impressions of Cambridge were interesting. Its cosmopolitanism. The absolute predominance of the profit-motive in every walk of life. The inefficiency concealed behind big talk. The American efficiency experts at £300 a week that nobody would tell anything to.
January 17 Saturday: We went into town in the afternoon and bought some squids which we decided to try. Then we went to the “Everyman Threatre” to see a rather silly skit, but the only thing showing was post-Christmas nonsense. Cathal had not heard of the Sinn Fein split, but he agreed with me it arises from the out-manoeuvring of the civil rights movement in the North and the consequent discrediting of the Republican policy of political action. It is thus in part the result of Roy’s nonsense, but more of the failure to tackle the Northern thing on sensible lines. His “Fanon” theory of socialism without the working class left the way open to every nonsense while Betty Sinclair was hounded out of the movement [i.e. induced to leave the NICRA Executive] with the compliance of Moore and Stewart[CPNI officials], who, poor things, don’t know what it was all about. Then Stewart went romantically Republican, and so committed the second blunder [ie.Jimmy Stewart, husband of Edwina Stewart/Menzies].
I learned that Roy Johnston and Mairin are scarcely speaking. On Christmas Day Roy and Cathal went out for a walk. Roy was complaining of his domestic difficulties. He was talking once more of living in the basement of 22 Belgrave Road and leaving Mairin the house above. Cathal pointed out that if he was below with his women and Mairin above with her men the children would be pulled this way and that. Why not let her have the house, and move away? Roy rounded on him. “I will not! That house costs me money.” So the sacred name was invoked, Roy’s ultimate God, and marital problems continue. The amusing thing is that Tony Coughlan has a great regard for Roy and has been writing letters to Mairin – with whom he had many quarrels – lecturing her on not appreciating Roy’s many good qualities. Tony Coughlan has now moved in with his mother [who came from Cork to live in Dundrum, Dublin, for a period following the death of her husband] but keeps his own house. “He is very much a ‘mother’s boy’,” Roy commented to me at Christmas. “Well why wouldn’t he be?” says Cathal. “He’s the only son.”
January 18 Sunday: We got up late, and then went for a walk over Prenton golf links, which I had not visited in (surely) forty years. The general destruction is visible there too. Then in the evening I went as far as Renshaw Street with Cathal, who went to the airport.
January 19 Monday: I went to Manchester in the afternoon and called into the party office. Gerry Cohen was in Liverpool, but I met the new Manchester city organiser [ie. for the CPGB], David Haywood, a very fine young man, I judged, from Maclesfield. I hope they do not turn him into the usual type of hack. He has only started the job a week and is still human. I arranged to write my suggestions. I went into the bookshop and spoke to the dreary old woman down there. She did not even stop entering figures in her day-book when I spoke to her. She was completely without interest, and without manners, without perspective and without hope – a hack.
At 6 pm. I met Michael Brennan at the City Library, and Ann O’Doherty came. We went for a meal. I found that she had an infinitely better grasp than he. She is from Newry, was at school in Dublin, but obviously has some connection with Manchester. I was shown a copy of the planned “Irish Post”. I suspect Brennan has been approached regarding it. He said they were confident of success as they had made a market survey. I suspect Paddy Ryan also of connections with it. We may possibly get some unexpected defections when it starts on February 14th. I resolve to treat it more seriously. The theoretical confusion is appalling. That also must be tackled. It was interesting that Ann O’Doherty spoke of the “failure of the Civil Rights Movement”. But Brennan gave me a copy of Farrell’s pamphlet which speaks as if the struggle was won and it was now “on to the Socialist Republic” [a pamphlet by Michael Farrell of the People’s Democracy, who had been earlier elected to the NICRA Executive along with his People’s Democracy colleague Kevin Boyle].
January 20 Tuesday (London): I went to London. I found Sean Redmond in a much less conceited mood, but he did not mention my letter. So I didn’t either. I asked him if he wanted to retain the positions he has in relation to the paper, small things, for the “Associate Editorship” has never been anything but fictitious except that he did go to Ripley and got out an issue or two while Phyllis was ill and perhaps once when I was on holiday. So that means I make myself independent as he wants rid of these jobs. But I must get others.
In the evening Pat Devine came. He told me his retirement from the Morning Star earlier this week was involuntary. His wife Gloria insists that it is because of his strongly pro-Russian attitude on the Czech affair. There was a little ceremony and a presentation. Before it started the father of the chapel approached and begged him not to say anything that would arouse feelings of bitterness. “There are enough there already,” Pat commented aside. When he had made his speech they thronged around. It was the finest he had ever made in his life. “That was the measure of their relief,” said Pat. They feared a valedictory broadside. Now Pat announced his intention of staying to the meeting of the DemocratCommittee. But before that would I come for a drink. I told him, as I have done many times before, that I do not drink before or during meetings or when I have still got work to do. So he went alone and I reflected that perhaps there was another reason for involuntary retirement.
Later Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Columba Longmore, Gloria Devine and finally Gerry Curran arrived. Pat Bond could not manage it. The fact that we had raised £65 encouraged Jim Kelly to think it was possible. So his morale has risen. Columba had done me a fine drawing to advertise the Connolly badge that Sean Redmond had ordered to be re-struck. Somebody told me Gerry Curran and Toni Curran had invited Columba to their house and found him very cynical about the party and flirting with Maoism and Trotskyism. I feel personally he is basically sound – but only from the ring of the glass, so to speak. He did the jobs for me. We distributed some of the tasks Sean Redmond had done. Afterwards Jim Kelly, Gerry Curran, Charlie Cunningham, Columba Longmore and I had a drink. Jim Kelly expressed the view that we would “have trouble” with Sean. “He is so vain. He always tries to draw everything to himself whereas he should be constantly pushing out to other people.” Now this is shrewd if it is his own and I wonder why he does not give more lead. He is aggressive but lacks vanity, which is good. Gerry Curran was telling me how Sean was descanting on my extravagance in buying a black cabinet which cost £30, and how he nearly ruptured himself getting it up the stairs. But while I was negotiating he never asked, “Could you do without it?” Gloria Devine looked pale and tired. She is devoted to Pat but he must be a trial to live with. They are on his memoirs and have two chapters done.
January 21 Wednesday: At lunch Sean Redmond adverted to my letter. I declined to disclose what I wanted and said it was not to discuss the rights and wrongs of his circular but to decide items of policy not yet clear and work out a perspective. It then struck me that his present good behaviour, refraining from sneers and cocky talk, is due to a fear. He fears criticism, being thought wrong, more than the plague. I have never once heard him apologise to anybody for anything. Very seldom have I heard him praise anybody, but sometimes. And he does not know if criticism is coming or not.
In the evening he went to Oxford, but not before he had asked me if I would do a meeting in Leicester. I agreed, though I must not take on too much. The facts of the Sinn Fein split are coming out, and I referred to it at the branch meeting. Seemingly London Clann na hEireann is pro-Stephenson [Sean Stephenson, MacStiofain, the Provisional IRA leader] and Birmingham pro-Goulding. Of course exactly what I told Roy Johnston would happen has happened, except that they did not even get their policy through before the split [ie. their desire to abandon the Republican abstentionist policy of declining to take seats in Dáil Eireann if elected to it]. None of the “Republicans” were at the meeting. It was well attended however, about 25 odd being there. I told them not to say or do anything to make things worse in the Sinn Fein. There is little doubt now that the influence of Republicanism in Ireland will be minimal for a number of years.
January 22 Thursday: The meeting at Oxford was successful and Sean Redmond founded a branch. He showed considerable enthusiasm and asked me for another date – assuming rudely I would “take over” where he approved. But I gave him a date. I spent the whole day on the paper.
Now at midday Joe O’Connor arrived. “The very man” said I, “I was going to ask you to come in.” He seemed worried, agitated and subject to conflicting emotions. Among other things he told us that Brendan McGill had gone with Stephenson, but MacDermott was for Goulding. There was still a split in London Clann na hEireann. They had a meeting coming on Sunday. Seamus Costello [of the Official IRA and Sinn Fein] was coming to it, and Joe O’Connor wondered if he could come into the CA office to receive a call from him – it was Costello arranged this. So he cannot trust any of his own people. I told Joe O’Connor I believe that Roy Johnston’s follies had contributed to the position, and that I did not propose to support Goulding. Nor would I support Stephenson. I ordered copies of the “breakaway” paper from Joe Clarke [ie. the “Provisional” Republican paper, “An Phoblacht”] and we asked the United Irishman [now the “Official” Republican paper] to continue.
According to Joe O’Connor the Bruton and the Dagenham arms raids were “unofficial” but Cathal Goulding was “standing by the boys”. The Huddersfield one was “official”. I asked first why they went about things in this amateurish fashion. Second, why if their policy was peace they were so busy getting guns. He admitted he had reflected on both these questions and came out through the same door as in he went.
Then in the afternoon came an event which sent Sean Redmond and myself into common indignation against foreign invasion! We had sent London NICRA (set up by the Republicans, probably with Belfast consent, I don’t know, to try and wrest the leadership from the CA) an invitation to take part in the petition campaign. We received from MacDermott (who is not the secretary) a letter informing us that NICRA “objected to organisations taking up money for civil rights” and intimating that NICRA intended to distribute the “official” Ulster Covenant of Civil Rights, plus more arrogant nonsense. I got Sean Redmond to ring Mrs Martin. She confirmed Sean’s opinion that MacDermott had acted on his own. So we set about discussing our reply, and if it splits London NICRA so much the better. They jumped on the bandwagon [that is, of popular interest in the Irish question following the Northern civil rights marches and the street ructions the previous August] to collect money, and nobody knows what happened to it.
Later Kay Beauchamp came and tried to persuade us to agree to Peter Mulligan’s becoming London MCF secretary. We wouldn’t. Sean Redmond told her he was leaving. “Have you another job?” “Yes”. “What is it?” “Assistant General- Secretary of an Insurance House Union.” Now what he is taking is the post of personal assistant to a General-Secretary. I wonder if he has a shock coming.
January 23 Friday: Again I was on the paper. In the afternoon Eddie MacManus appeared. Had Joe O’Connor a phone number? Why? There was a meeting of Clann na hEireann tonight. “But Joe told me he was not a member of it,” said Sean Redmond. “He’d come to this,” said MacManus. It seems that Sunday’s meeting has been brought forward two days so as to take place before Costello’s arrival. Was MacManus going? He was not. He didn’t know which side to join, and if there was a walk-out he wouldn’t like to be among the cravens who sat firm. But on the other hand he might walk out with the wrong side. This intrigued me. On Thursday Joe O’Connor said that he was afraid there had been (on the part of Cathal Goulding and Costello) “certain violations of democracy”. It would seem there are “certain violations of democracy” in London also.
Eddie MacManus’s first cry when he got in was “Yez have made front page news!” He brought in the Irish Press [the Fianna Fail-oriented Irish daily], which is busy stirring up trouble. The Stephenson faction have accused the Goulding faction of trying to liquidate Sinn Fein and the IRA and fuse it with the IWP and the CPNI in the broad organization. Undoubtedly Roy Johnston’s mechanical mind encompassed this for he mentioned something similar to me and I told him it was absurd. And the “man in charge of education” (Roy himself) is blamed. Goulding’s group are accused of saying that there was no need for an IRA youth movement as the Connolly Youth existed [ie. the youth section of the Irish Workers Party, the Republic’s communist party], and that Clann na hEireann was unnecessary since the Connolly Association existed. The two things are of course not parallel. But I know that Roy Johnston without consulting us ordered Clann na hEireann members to join the Connolly Association, and no doubt MacManus was one who responded.
Anyway, the upshot was that the Standing Committee that was called to enable us to settle our minor differences, is likely to deal mainly with the major differences of other people, and the attempt to divert part of the dirt unto us! I drafted a letter for Sean Redmond to send to MacDermott questioning the wisdom of distributing the NICRA “official” Covenant in England on two grounds. First it was addressed to Parliament and not drawn in the proper form. Second, and more important, the presence of signatures taken up in England would give the Unionists the excuse to say that it was not a genuine expression of Six County opinion. Pat Bond who called told us that Mrs Martin was at South London [ie. the Connolly Association branch there] last night and was confident she could defeat MacDermott [on the issue of the Labour-oriented Campaign for Democracy in Ulster supporting the call for abolishing the Stormont Parliament and introducing direct rule]. We were not so sure about it.
January 24 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning, but there was no Joe O’Connor. So they may have got wind of the putting forward of the meeting. Costello did not ring. Sean Redmond was there, and later Susan Redmond came in, Jim Kelly and Pat Hensey. But Charlie Cunningham’s brother had rang to say he was not available after all. Possibly trouble at home.
I had been up with Fiona on Wednesday and we read three chapters. I went up this afternoon and read a fourth. Of her expertise there is no doubt.
Then I met Jim Kelly but it poured rain. I allowed my mind to reflect on next moves after Roy Johnston’s nonsense has probably put Republicanism out of operation for some years, if not permanently. He has infected Tony Coughlan, who has been showing a new and typical blind arrogance in policy matters, though it was left to Bobby Heatley to find out the reason [ ie. for the erroneous rumour that Anthony Coughlan had joined the Goulding-led IRA. See entry for 30 January below]. I wrote to Barry Desmond [Irish Labour Party TD, first elected the previous June to represent Dun Laoghaire Dáil constituency] and dropped the hint that if Labour now made a strong national stand, they might become the leading opposition party, especially now that Fianna Fail is losing its mystique and is treating Labour as the enemy – as a rival for the fleshpots of course, now that go-getters Justin Keating and Conor Cruise O’Brien are in it. I would love to publish my analysis of the events that led to my worst warnings coming true. But I must hold until I have found out what others are doing.
January 25 Sunday: The day was wasted as Cassidy [of the Building Workers trade union] had not told me that the Building Workers’ meeting had been called for the evening. Charlie Cunningham and I waited half an hour and then rang him up. It was a nuisance as I had arranged to sell with Pegeen O’Flaherty (Liam’s daughter) but Charlie went with her instead. Cassidy, Jack Henry, Neilson and Finn [other Building Worker trade unionists] were present, and I thought progress was made. Afterwards Jack Henry said privately that Cassidy was “a funny fellow” and had done some “queer things”. Well, that is true enough but he is helping us now all right.
January 26 Monday: In the afternoon Margot Parrish came in. The Biafrans are moving from 283 Grays Inn Road[where the Connolly Association office also was] and renting a room from the Peace News [the Quaker journal whose office was nearby on Caledonian Road]. I wondered what was the political significance of it and we found out today. She is very upset about the Biafran collapse. She told me, “You will be interested to know that I have decided to resign from the Communist Party.” She had other differences as well as Biafra, mostly on the national question. I remarked that there had been no attempt to dragoon opinion on the matter, and that I had myself argued the point and gone my own way and nobody had even commented. That, she thought, was a measure of their disinterest. She had had a talk with R. Palme Dutt who had sent her a long letter advising against this step. She also wrote to Gollan. “ And this time he replied quickly,” she said a little maliciously. Then she said she would leave temporarily to see what it was like outside. She added that her membership had been an obstacle to her work in the British-Biafra Association where she was referred to as “that red secretary”. Afterwards Sean Redmond commented that she was under strong pressure from anti-party elements. She is too subjective and cannot see that will-power cannot change a cabbage into a pot of paint.
We heard from Charlie Cunningham and others about the CDU meeting. First Byrne told us that he was defeated in a vote 4/3 on participation in the petition. Melly and O’Donoghue were the villains. But Charlie Cunningham said they held a more public meeting afterwards and that there was utter confusion. One man turned on O’Donoghue and said “You’ll have to give up this direct rule business,” and others expressed disgust at the confusion [O’Donoghue was calling for the Labour Government to abolish the Stormont Parliament and rule the North directly from London. Greaves and the Connolly Association were campaigning for a Bill of Rights to be legislated by the Westminster Parliament that would at once impose civil rights reforms on Stormont while leaving a reformed devolved Parliament in existence, empowered to develop good relations with the South, as a counter to “direct rule”]. Now we learned in addition that NICRA is in confusion. Its Hammersmith Branch is apparently controlled by the egregious Lawless [ie. the Trotskyist Gery Lawless].
There was a well-attended Standing Committee meeting in the evening, only Pat Bond being absent. I prepared a set of about twelve questions and typed copies. When the meeting opened I asked Sean Redmond if he had an opening statement. He had not. I then distributed the questions and let them ponder them.
There was a long and useful discussion. One of Toni Curran’s alternative reasons for poor attendance is that no politics is ever talked. Sean Redmond lists about fifteen organisational questions for decision. And indeed he contrived to smuggle twenty minutes of this into the special meeting tonight. All went well until the question of the petition was broached. He thought it would be a flop. Instead he drew the picture of circulating every AEF [Amalgamated Engineering Federation] branch in England from the office asking for endorsement. What this would be but a flop I do not know. But it was something from the office. He grew at one point quite heated and bridled. But I was determined. I had asked the question what was the campaign for. I think it was simply that Sean Redmond saw the Vietnam “declaration” by organisations and it was his idea to imitate it. When I pointed out that our aim was to mobilize the Irish and that a General Election might throw his circulars to the winds, he suddenly backed down and strongly supported the alternative perspective I suggested, beginning with an educational campaign to dispel the reigning confusion. I think I have gained the initiative and killed a few birds with one stone. Those present were myself, Joe Deighan, Jim Kelly, Pat Hensey, Sean Redmond and Toni Curran.
Afterwards Toni and Jim Kelly and I had a quick drink. Toni said that Sean is honest enough to be convinced by a strong argument. He can however stiff himself up with the product of his own self-importance. Even tonight he was delivering the affected “ahs” and “ohs” by which an uncertain speaker turns the hesitant “er” into a sign of destination.
In the afternoon I had been out to Fiona’s again. Nan Green thinks we may get the book out this year. The theoretical struggle is all-important now. I suggested pamphlets tonight. “Who’ll write them?” asks Joe Deighan. Then he joked, “I suppose you’ll write them if we raise the money for them.” This from the man who wrecked our finances by opposing raising the price of the paper!
January 27 Tuesday (Liverpool): I caught the 12.50 am. train to Liverpool and came to 124 Mount Road. There was a letter from Michael McInerney [Then political correspondent of the “Irish Times”, formerly the first editor of “Irish Freedom”, the predecessor of the “Irish Democrat”, in 1939] replying to my enquiries regarding the Sean Murray book. I had heard from Peadar O’Donnell that he was working on one. He said that the Belfast CPNI and Sean Nolan had urged him to do so. He got together some material but insufficient. He would of course not have the techniques of historical research. Anyway, he offered to hand over what he had to me as he felt he would not have time to do the job. It was a very friendly letter indeed.
Then I went to Ripley. All went well with the transport. I finished the paper, caught the 5.40, which arrived early so that I caught the 7.4 which was late at Crewe, and was in Liverpool by about a quarter to eight. At Mount Road I found a letter from Sean Morrow, a friend of John de Courcy Ireland.
January 28 Wednesday: After some hesitation I decided to go to Ireland and find out what was happening and at the same time see Michael McInerney and Margaret Murray, even possibly John Warren [who had connections with Sean Murray]. So I took the boat to Dublin, after ringing up Cathal to say I was coming. I also rang McInerney who invited me to lunch tomorrow.
January 29 Thursday (Dublin): It was a calm crossing and I was not tired. I went out to McInerney’s at about midday and we spent some time going through his material which was deposited with him by John Warren. He has been off work for three weeks – despite the appearance of articles in the Irish Times, since he suffered a coronary attack and a very slight cerebral haemorrhage. He will retire next year. So he must be about 64. He told me some of his own recollections. I had thought he went straight from Limerick to London but he did not. Apparently he came to Dublin and lodged with Eamon Martin’s sister and there came first into contact with progressive ideas. His family was Redmondite, almost Unionist. He thought he was very brave when in 1932, having the vote for the first time, he voted Fianna Fail. When he came to London he was in touch with Eamon Martin. It was he who got “Irish Front” on to a regular basis after Charlie Donnelly had gone to Spain. Then he started “Irish Freedom”, now the Democrat. It had a broad impressive Editorial Committee and Eamon Martin contributed £15 [Republican leader,1892-1971, sympathetic to the left]. But the broad committee was dispersed by the first bomb that exploded [ie. in the IRA bombing campaign in Britain in 1939]. He recalls that about March 1939 they carried a headline, “Bombs will not free Ireland.” Not a copy was sold. The boys refused to sell it. The headline was the result of influence from King Street [Head office of the CPGB of which McInerney was then a member] and while the sentiment was sound enough it was not disseminated! When he went to Belfast he arranged to get Unity printed. The paper regulations were strict. No allowance would be given for any paper that had not appeared before war broke out. After a great search he found a single printed copy of a wee sheet no longer in progress. With the aid of scientists he contrived to erase the imprint and replaced it with his own. This done he came to London and went to the paper control? Thus he got supplies.
As a matter of fact I recollect the occasion. He had arranged to come to see me one evening, but Pat Dooley took him off to Reading or wherever it was, and I was not too pleased, and told him so. This must have been about 1942. But I knew nothing of the forgery, nor would I think could Dooley have done. He could not have resisted the temptation to tell me of it. However when he had got the paper and taken all the risks, it seems other people were put in charge – McCullough I imagine. He was upset and disappointed.
Of his recent articles [ie. on the Northern troubles in the “Irish Times”] he admitted to have been flying kites. He had seen the British representative in Belfast, a man named Wright [British diplomat, Home Office representative to the Northern Ireland Government, August 1969-March 1970] and the articles early this month reflected that gentleman’s thinking. He was three hours with him. And one hour with Callaghan last year. He was assured by Callaghan that there was “no question of another 1912-1914”. But McInerney is not a convinced Republican. “I thought surely direct British Rule would be better than the system they have,” he declared. And, “I wanted to show the good points of Britain – its big democratic and Labour movement.” As if bringing Ireland into a federation with Wilson and Heath would help that! “And – I don’t mind if I’m wrong,” he said. I explained to him what I considered the possible outcome of this Labour invasion of the Six Counties and I think he understood. He told me that this man Lawrence Pithkeithley who wrote in yesterday’s Press, is a BBC official in London, a Belfast man, a Unionist and former Paisleyite who was recently in Dublin airing the Establishment’s views.
He told me an interesting thing about Stella Jackson and Ewart Milne whose interminable witch-hunting articles fill columns of the Irish Times. Recently Gageby, editor of the Irish Times, received a letter from Stella. It warned him that he had on his staff a notorious Communist, none other than McInerney. And well did she remember the times when she used “sit at his feet” and hear him expound “Leninism”. That, said McInerney, never happened. But Ewart Milne, when he came back from ambulance driving in Spain, was not ashamed to take employment with the movement as Secretary of the Frank Ryan Release Committee, and he may have attended some of McInerney’s lectures. Apparently Gageby laughed heartily and gave McInerney the letter.
Regarding Sean Murray he began life as a journalist working in the Coleraine Constitution. He wrote a novel but did not finish it. He was, he thought, at both the Banned Convention and the Extraordinary Convention of 1922. But Bob Stewart was at the founding conference of the CPI and would know something, also Prendergast. I indicated that I regarded that gentleman as undesirable. Mrs McInerney recalled the time they lived with the Murrays. Sean Murray would come in excitedly from the garden: “The daffodils are out.” And he would go for walks along the banks of the Lagan looking at the trees and flowers. He had a great interest in the countryside.
Of the Labour Party McInerney said, “I recruited Justin Keating and Conor Cruise O’Brien here in this room.” But not Thornley [David Thornley, Trinity College lecturer and Labour Party TD]. He thought Barry Desmond’s main concern was “intense careerism”. As for Justin Keating, he was “often shocked by his remarks”.
Of the IRA he recalled going to Gerry Boland for information when he wrote the Peadar O’Donnell articles. They were talking about Stephen Hayes[1902-1974, IRA Chief of Staff 1939-40, accused of being a police informer]. “I can assure you,” said Boland, “that he was never a spy of ours.” And Maire Comerford told him she had defended Hayes. He came to the conclusion that the IRA had become demoralized at the time – as I thought myself. It was a coincidence that as he was typing the MS and was describing the Devereux affair [concerning IRA arms dumps whose loss was blamed on Michael Devereux, who was executed on Hayes’s orders. Protestant Republican George Plant was later executed by the Irish Government for killing Devereux], who should walk into the office (sent by Prendergast) but Joe O’Connor. “Were you anything to do with the O’Connor in the case?” asked Michael McInerney innocently. He got a shock when he learned that this “middle-aged tough-looking man” was the very one. The American book which Cathal Goulding and the others so foolishly furnished information for is coming out in April [This was “The Secret Army:the IRA 1916-1970” by the American J.Bowyer Bell, whom Cathal Goulding, Tony Meade, and other Republicans had cooperated with].
We left in the mid-afternoon. McInerney does not drive a car. “I think they are anti-social things,” he declared. So good for him that much.
Back at 24 Belgrave Road I found Cathal. Tony Meade had called. He was quite happy about the split, and glad that Stephenson had gone. He had rung one of the Bradys [either Ruairi or Sean O Bradaigh, leading founders of the Provisional IRA] and pretended to be the Irish Independent. Brady had denounced Cathal Goulding and Roy Johnston. For some reason Meade regarded this as a kind of treachery. But of course the party is irremediably split. The policy of the Gardiner Place element will be to let the others sling the mud but not to return it. I received the impression that Cathal had been convinced by Meade.
Then I went to look for Michael O’Riordan. But he was out. His wife was inclined towards the breakaways, unlike Michael. “How can they call themselves Republicans if they go into Leinster House?” I went to 16 Pearse Street looking for O’Riordan but he was not there. So I went then to Margaret Murray’s. She supplied me with much material, mentioned Sean Murray’s connection with Jim Walsh and Gralton and found letters from Frank Ryan. Jim Walsh had discussed the Miners Union with Sean Murray; so I must go to Kilkenny.
January 30 Friday: I went in to see Sean Nolan. Sean O’Rourke was there, then Andy Barr came in. I said I might be in Belfast tomorrow and would try and find Betty Sinclair. He was not enthusiastic. “Edwina Menzies is our representative on the Civil Rights,” he said. When he had gone I had a long talk with Sean Nolan. He thinks exactly as I do. When I asked what he thought of the Sinn Fein split he came out immediately, “Madness!”. The split takes place in conditions of extreme weakness. “Socialism” will frighten the farmers. If there was an election tomorrow every Sinn Fein candidate would lose his deposit. And what on earth did their socialism amount to? There would be much bitterness. “The Republicans can never divide without it.” The breakaways would look for martyrs. For a while the Gardiner Place majority would carry on, but when there was little progress thanks to the disunity, there would be a number of very disillusioned people.
He told me of the arrangements to unite the CPNI and the IWP at a congress in March. What did I think of it? I told him that Tommy Watters and I had discussed it and thought that while the principle was sound, the time needed to be propitious. He seemed to have reservations himself, but pointed out that the Labour Party was making play with being the “All-Ireland Party”. The two areas would be in effect autonomous as they are now, and each would retain its property. The title was to be CPI [Communist Party of Ireland]. I asked was he sure this was wise. “Well, the young people want it. They want to run up the flag and say ‘Curse on the lot of you’”. But he pointed out that the Trotsky-movement element who used the name Communist had not been run off the streets.
Then we discussed English policy towards Ireland. He interpreted the meaning of the Labour invasion of the Six Counties as I did, as a step towards the reabsorption of Ireland [referring to the British Labour Party’s absorption of the Northern Ireland Labour Party]. And of course bringing in a pro-Unionist force to the bosom of the Labour Party and making it difficult for us. And we also discussed the subject of democracy in socialist countries.
Of the Northern developments he said he had no doubt that history would lay the blame for the wrecking of our hopes of a non-sectarian civil liberties movement on “People’s Democracy”.
I had a drink with Joe Deasy, who came in. He said that Michael O’Riordan’s opinion was that Roy Johnston and Tony Coughlan should be in the Irish Workers Party instead or acting as independent ambassadors at large responsible to nobody. I said I thought the view tenable. He appeared to think however that Cathal Goulding would have a comparatively easy victory.
Then in the evening I went to Liberty Hall [for the Irish Labour Party conference] and Devine [Francis Devine, trade union official and Labour historian] gave me a ticket. Near me sat Kader Asmal [Trinity College law lecturer, founder and leader of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement and later Minister in Nelson Mandela’s South African Government]. On the platform was Roddy Connolly, looking old, but his neck swathed in a red roll-neck gansey. Michael O’Leary was up there too [Labour Party TD, later party leader, Minister and Tanaiste], Barry Desmond beside him and Justin Keating and Conor Cruise O’Brien[three Labour TDs, first elected in June 1969] somewhat discreetly stationed at the back beside Rory Roberts. I was in time to hear Michael O’Leary move a resolution and make a direct attack on Harry Nicholas who was present. He accused the British Labour Party of introducing a further split by its taking over of the NILP. The seconder received a great ovation from one side of the hall. From what was said afterwards I gather it was Vincent McDowell but that was not the name I thought I heard. But I knew at once that the Trotskyist claque was busy. Later a delegate protested that Bernadette Devlin had not been invited. More cheers from the same quarter of the hall. Corish[Brendan Corish, Irish Labour Party leader] was mainly concerned to justify last year’s election policy. His line on the Six Counties was based on “Labour the Six County Party”. On the Common Market he was defeatist. It was bad, but there was no alternative thanks to Fianna Fail policy. Indeed not an inspiring individual at all.
I returned to 24 Belgrave Road and later Tony Coughlan came. I asked if what Bobby Heatley had reported about his joining Roy Johnston [in the IRA and Sinn Fein, see entry for 24 January] was true. He said it was not. But I think there is more to it than meets the eye. While Roy Johnston will tell the truth or say nothing, I am not so sure that Tony Coughlan’s mind has not a distinctly Jesuitical trend. He was not so enthusiastic about Goulding’s prospects as Meade. But it became borne in on me that he is suffering from exactly what afflicts Sean Redmond – swelled head. Of the Labour Party he says, “Oh – it’s all a lot of nonsense.” I told him it was absurd to dismiss the third party in the State with direct Trade Union connections. I considered it of much more moment at present than the divided Republicans. It struck me how easy his work is. It is to state things impeccably to the already converted. There is romance to buoy them up. And from this stems the most incredible intellectual arrogance.
Of the situation in the North he advocated fighting both “People’s Democracy” and the McCluskeys with an alliance of Republicans and Communists. I preferred a junction with the McCluskeys based on a wide all-embracing unity, paralysing the PDs. But I know well the relations of Republicans with People’s Democracy, and the common petit–bourgeois fount of their ideology. “Tt, tt,” says Tony Coughlan, “The McCluskeys are in with this Fianna Fail effort. At least Con is, his wife’s too genuine.”
And why carry the war with Fianna Fail across the border! If unity can be made to include those who look to Fianna Fail, why should it not be accepted? The old sectish hatred of the Nationalist Party comes out. I asked about the future. A new constitution was being drawn up [that is, for the NICRA]. Like the last it made no provision for branches. What about the London branch? It was irregular. Would there be one in future? Only if it was irregular. But would they be irregular? Ah, he couldn’t say. So he occupies an equivocal position [Not so. Anthony Coughlan did not support the policy of having NICRA branches in Britain, although he was not a member of the NICRA or living in the North and could do nothing much directly about it]. With some difficulty I extracted from him the exact venue of the conference of February 14th [the NICRA annual conference] and told him I proposed to go myself. It was only later that I realised the political demand I should have made. But then I thought Belfast might be the place to make it. It was a blessing on the McNally petition [that is, the petition for a Bill of Rights which the Connolly Association and other Irish organisations were organising in Britain as an alternative to “direct rule”]. He said there was to be a resolution on a Bill of Rights. I trusted this would not be extended to England in a disruptive way. “A lot of us realise that the Connolly Association has had a raw deal,” he then admitted.
January 31 Saturday (Belfast/Liverpool): I called in to see Roy Johnston for a few minutes. He seems perfectly sanguine. “I’m quite happy.” There was nobody of any ability among the breakaways. The Bradys were busy getting external University degrees. They had substantially held Dublin. Jim Savage’s reputation was adequate to hold Cork. Mayo, Sligo and other western parts were with them. Limerick had refused to handle the United Irishman but Limerick boys living in Dublin had gone down there and sold more copies than the Cumann as a whole had done before.
I asked what was meant by the “autonomy” of the “Northern Command”. He said it was based on the Northern Ireland Committee of Republican Clubs, and that the “Army Structure” corresponded to that. I do not know what he meant. Indeed I got the impression that he is not told everything. He did not know for example that Costello had been to London. He had assured me before Christmas that McGill was not active for years. Now he admits he has been – but he may be one of those who have come back in response to the appeal for a return to the old line. Roy Johnston could give no satisfactory account of Belfast, saying that Steele would have no influence [ie. Jimmy Steele, respected veteran Belfast Republican who supported the formation of the Provisional IRA]. He said there was a full-time man, Kevin McCorry, looking after Civil Rights. In general there is complacent sectishness. Then I went to Belfast.
On the train was Gerry Fitt, very elated [Fitt had been at the Irish Labour Party conference]. He told me he had launched a fierce attack on the British Labour Party for taking over the NILP – in the presence of Nicholas – and had “invited the Irish Labour Party into the North”. So history repeats itself. I doubt if Fitt even knows that Roddy Connolly did exactly the same twenty odd years ago.
I took a taxi to Betty Sinclair’s but she was out. The driver was surely a strong Orangeman. I sang dumb, and he “explained the setup”. The troubles were two-fold. First, Unity Flats [A new high-rise flat development at the bottom of the Falls Road] had put the Catholics in an advantageous position. When they were in “wee houses down side streets” the police could keep an eye on them. But now they were all together ten storeys up and they could throw anything they liked through the windows. Indeed the whole trouble last year began when they dropped bottles on Protestants in the street below. And what was more, the flats should never have been built. They were near the future centre of the city. And if they weren’t needed for a motorway they were needed for a ring road. “If they don’t go before July they’ll have to go during July.” He assured me that “the boys” would “get” them, British army or no British army. The other grievance was that the government was “favouring” the people in the Falls Road who didn’t even vote for them.
I found John Warren’s house then. He knew I was coming, and Andy Barr had seen him this afternoon. He told me that Sean Murray was born in 1898, a teacher at the local school introduced him to “the classes”. He first got radical views while in the Glens, was to join a flying column but was arrested and lodged in the Curragh. There the Labour leader Frank Purcell introduced him to socialism. After the Treaty he went to Dublin but could not get a job, so went to London.
He brought me to a public house where a man who knew the Glens Historical Society came. The second taxi-driver, summoned by the landlord, was a Catholic and told me that the house where we had been drinking had been attacked by petrol bombs.
On board ship a thin-lipped aristocrat of the Douglas Hume breed was sitting opposite me. It would not have surprised me if he was a Special Branch man, but he seemed to have just too much refinement. He disclosed he was a naval officer at Sea Eagle, seemingly a quite important man. He cooperated closely with police and army and knew well all the “respectable middle-class” people in Derry.
“To me,” he said “it is just like the Americans and the Red Indians. These people have been conquered but they are still there, and now they are demanding something for themselves.” He knew Mary Holland [journalist on the London weekly “Observer” newspaper]. “But she does give me the impression that she regards herself as the ‘bees knees’”. He thought People’s Democracy was an extremist movement. He had access to classified information but never read it as he was too busy. A ship’s officer passed. “Here’s a man who’ll give us the forecast.” He did. “Southerly gales, force 8 to 9.” And it blew it. I went to bed before the bar closed and could hardly sleep for the swaying and crashing. When I got up I could hardly walk on solid earth without involuntarily adjusting myself to the boat.
February 1 Sunday: I was rather tired after the wild crossing and did not do very much during the day apart from write up some of the material. I rang Sean Redmond who told me that the estimate for the petition forms has not arrived from Ripley. Speaking to him I already felt he was “outside”. I think he will soon be quite glad to see things “taken over”!
February 2 Monday: I was still tired. But I got on with some notes. I wrote to Tony Coughlan making the point of NICRA acceptance of the MacNally petition. I also wrote to NICRA asking for press and visitors’ tickets. I tried to get Sean Redmond to go to the NICRA conference [an earlier conference, not the impending annual meeting]. He didn’t, so the London Republicans won their recognition [as a London NICRA branch]. Now I am going to repair the damage by going myself. But it will not be easy. I also wrote to Gerry Cohen about the Connolly Association in Manchester and to Toni Curran and Pat Bond.
February 3 Tuesday: I hunted through various books of travel etc. for references to the Glens of Antrim during historical crises.
February 4 Wednesday: A list of what was deposited of Sean Murray’s papers in the Public Records Office of Belfast arrived, as a result of Warren’s initiative.
February 5 Thursday: Brief’s activity [Brief was Desmond Greaves’s personal accountant] has got me a £40 Income Tax rebate, which is good. But gloomy news came with it. A letter from Mabel Taylor said that Hilda Taylor [maternal aunts] has been in hospital since the first week in January and is not expected to last long. I had intended to go and see them, but both she and Mabel urged me to delay owing to the influenza then raging, and some trouble with Mabel’s teeth. Mabel now says there is no point in going as Hilda’s mind is wandering as a result of sedation. Mabel seems to hope she will not linger long. Apparently of late the arthritis crippled her so completely that Bertha had sometimes to feed her. She broke her ankles twice falling. So now that family comes in for the chopper. It is surprising. AEG [His mother, Amy] the eldest died in 1953 – the next looks like going but not till 1970! Amy was nearly 69. Hilda must be close on 80. I felt rather depressed at the news – not so much at first, but more as the day went on.
I spent the day bringing card-indexes more up to date, and wrote to Mabel, Bertha, Belfast PRO and Brief. And of course the news on the radio was as bad as ever. Those criminals in London jailing patriotic young Welsh people for three months! And abolishing Local Government, echoing the Americans over the Near Eastern Crisis. The only good thing was a proposal to ban motor cars from ruining the Derbyshire Moors. The sycophants on the BBC hated that!
February 6 Friday (London): I went to London in the morning. There was a certain amount of mail in the office and a note from Sean Redmond to the effect that there were no lights on Wednesday and he had not been able to do a lot of work, which was a nuisance, as if it was my fault. However, the lights were all working, so heaven knows what he had been up to. I was out with Peter Mulligan in the evening [ie. selling the monthly paper].
February 7 Saturday: There was a great crowd in the office in the morning – Sean Redmond, Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham, Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly, Pat O’Donohue, Columba Longmore, and a great buzz of activity. Sean told me that he believed that the reason there was no electricity was that Toni Curran had not paid the bill. He had not informed her when he found out that this was not the case. He thought it served her right. Why it will, I could not understand. But I gathered she had complained at not being told.
Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham and I went into the Montegrappa [an Italian restaurant at King’s Cross, sometimes facetiously referred to by Greaves and his colleagues as the “moneygrabber”] with Columba Longmore. At the table by the door were three boys, exotically dressed in their late teens. When it was time to leave one of them said he wanted cigarettes from a machine. He was given the money by the restaurateur who was writing it on his bill when all three bolted through the door, gaining a free meal and free poison. But we soon found the restaurateur’s indignation turning to amusement. “He left his coat there,” exclaimed la patronne. He had left a coat with £5, in the pocket of which was a leather hat worth £2.
In the evening I was out with Sean Redmond. Fiona rang in the morning. I asked Sean how the new job was going. “It’s hard to say. It’s all very new.”
February 8 Sunday: The EC took place in the morning. Jim Kelly did not turn up. But Michael Crowe came, with Joe Deighan, Pat Hensey, Bobbie Rossiter, Toni Curran, Pat Bond and Sean Redmond, and the thing was useful enough. Toni told me at the start that Gerry had not come. She could hardly restrain her tears when she told me of Gerry’s worst ever attack of neurasthenia. He has not gone to work for two weeks and stays in bed. She seems worried to death. He was to have come today.
In the afternoon there was a general meeting at which Sean Redmond took the chair. And Joe Deighan also spoke. The first one spoke for about 10 minutes (mostly vague rubbish about the precedence of the country over the town!) and then left it to me. Afterwards he said Sean Redmond had commented, “You passed the buck quickly enough.” They are wretched people to work with. In the evening I had a drink with Jim Kelly and Charlie Cunningham.
February 9 Monday: I was in the office in the morning. Gerry Curran came in. He had dosed himself with pills and felt better. He complained about Sean’s failure to tell Toni Curran to stop pressing the electricity people. “Isn’t it typical of him?” he asked, “Nasty to the last.”
I went up to Fiona’s in the afternoon. We did not get much reading done. She wanted to talk. She got a number of things back from Marx House. But she cannot get Roddy to take any action to certify the ownership of the letters. She said that the reason why Roddy for all his fine brains has never been a great leader is that he was spoiled by being made too much fuss of in the period after 1916. I asked how Ina was. Apparently she is ill in hospital in California after a brain operation. Her emotional behaviour has grown more erratic. And Brian Heron is a “dead loss as a son”. She told me that the reason Ina went Free State was really a touch of social climbing – the “respectable” people were Free State. But when the Civil War broke out she came to help the Republicans! Then there were reminiscences of Countess Markiewicz. Mrs Connolly had double pneumonia and the Countess came to “do” for them. She recalls the dishcloth going down the drain and Madam asking her to go and get it from the outside grid. She did so. It was covered with tea-leaves and Fiona held it with one end. The Countess grabbed it from her and slapped her across the face with it. She was most indignant – the Countess thought she was angry at having to get it. Fiona replied that she was going to wash it. Fiona then refused to speak to her. In the evening the Countess apologized and said that as a mark of atonement she would let Fiona make the pudding, which she did. At dinner Madam took a large helping. “Not much good” she commented as she took another. “Really below the standard” she added as she took a third. Fiona – then a wee girl – stamped off into the other room, “If it’s so bad why do you take three helpings?” Said the Countess to one of the others: “I like to get her dander up.” She thought Countess Markiewicz was always used to luxury and though she didn’t always have it, enjoyed it. In the Connolly family there was an adopted child younger than Fiona.
The Democrat Committee met in the evening, with Jim Kelly, Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham and Pat O’Donohue come. It was not very satisfactory. But there was one interesting thing. Charlie had asked Sean Redmond how he was getting on. He replied that the General Secretary of the Union he now works for is to retire in seven years’ time and that he is to be “groomed to take his place”. But he intends to use the position to get experience of negotiating and then look for another job. So he is quite calculating, as I guessed, though Joe Deighan did not think so. However when everybody else had forgotten on Sunday, I proposed a vote of thanks for his services!
February 10 Tuesday (Liverpool): I was in the office in the morning and in the afternoon out with Fiona. She says two pages are missing and blames Lawrence and Wishart, but I think it possible I have lost them myself. One thing however did interest me. They posted the MS to her without even registering the envelope. I recall that when I read Rose’s MS for them they insisted on its being returned by registered post. So in the one case you have ten years’ work, research costing hundreds of pounds on a shoe string, sacrificing time, money, advancement, everything – that is nothing. What does it matter if it is lost in the post? In the other case you have the pickings of other peoples’ brains, research carried out by a paid secretary in the House of Commons Library, hastily knocked together within a few months – but by a Member of Parliament. And for various reasons they want the name of an MP on their prospectus, particularly before he loses his seat at the next election. Fiona was quite indignant – and so would I have been if I was not so long accustomed to such treatment. I wrote to Cohen the Lancashire organizer [ie. of the CPGB] a fortnight ago – not even the courtesy of a reply. He is a big fat useless lazy lump, full of phrases and plamás [Irish word for flattery], pleasant but ineffectual. I went to Liverpool on the night train.
February 11 Wednesday: I had a filthy cold these last few days. But I went into Birkenhead to buy a few things. I have in mind going to Belfast to see for myself the NICRA, also to cramp the style of the McGill and MacDermott splitters. It is interesting to note the disarray the Republicans and the Leftist “socialists” have created in a once promising movement. Without even the faintest inkling of a perspective of real change they spend their time manoeuvring for immediate advantages based on some narrow schematism which they have adopted notwithstanding the mutual exclusiveness of its several parts. What asses the world pups! The CDU [Campaign for Democracy in Ulster] hankering for “absorption” of the Six-Counties into England splits and becomes ineffective – the two wings gummed together by their own jelly. The NICRA offers the defunct “official” petition of last October and then fears to call its own (London) Committee together. Bernadette Devlin says anything provided it will be reported, goes anywhere provided she will be photographed, keeps saying she won’t stand for Parliament again so as to keep O’Farrell and McCann, two weedy starvelings with eyes for the cake on the table, at odds for the succession. Their “principles” of course are not based on any course of action, but are like labels on wine-bottles, intended to promote the purchase of the contents. And they are well up for sale. The only difficulty is getting a price in such an overcrowded market for nincompoops. I have had revolving in my mind some more forthright handling of the whole question, in a pamphlet for example.
It must have been about 11.30 pm. when Sean Redmond rang to say the Morning Star wanted a reply to Powell [Enoch Powell MP, speaking in support of the Conservatives before the 1970 general election], and that he could not do it till next week. I bought brandy for the cold.
February 12 Thursday: The weather is cold again. But it is late and shouldn’t last too long. I stayed in most of the day, rewriting the pages of the Jackson epilogue that Vivien Morton may have lost! Of course things have happened since I wrote it and I expanded two pages into five. I don’t know if it is any better.
February 13 Friday: I decided not to go to Belfast. A damper spring broke on the piano last night and I arranged for Atherton to come today. He is thinking of leaving Smith’s and launching out on his own. Would I transfer to him? I told him AEG [his mother] had done this years ago but had to go back to Smiths as the private man gave up. He said he was good for 15 years. I wondered if I am good for fifteen years! My glass cannot persuade me I am young! So I said let me know if he did launch out independently. He did a good job and I was better satisfied than previously.
In the middle of the tuning Alan Morton telephoned. He seemed on top of the world, but I thought he was anxious to emphasise that he was on top of the world. He told me he has gone to a specialist who had diagnosed depression. He had given him a drug, “not a mental drug” but “one that affects the metabolism.” He must take it for three months, but the result is already miraculous. Yet I still felt uneasy. This was something like religious euphoria. He went on talking. It will cost him pounds, I was thinking. He had the impression (when I was urging him to go to a doctor) that I was almost as upset as he was himself. That is what psychologists in my young days called “projection”. Of course he still knows nothing of Freda’s writing. But then at the end he disclosed a possible explanation. David [one of Alan Morton’s two sons] has graduated, “is now Dr Morton” and is to be married to an Irish girl tomorrow!
February 14 Saturday: It is still cold but we have escaped all the snow that is being reported. I wrote the Morning Star article. I tried a more popular style but am a little uncertain of the result. Also I posted off the epilogue. I spoke to Michael Crowe on the phone and he agreed to spend Easter in Manchester trying to get the branch started again. I went down Church Road and saw an “Irish Post” outside a newsagent’s. But it was only in the one place. Peter Mulligan told me on the phone that it was on news-stands in London. The ITGWU has a full-page advertisement in it. Even so I will be surprised if it succeeds. I rang Mabel Taylor in the evening.
February 15 Sunday: I still have the cold. A damned nuisance. I don’t feel ill, but I have to be careful. I spent most of the day card-indexing, but wrote to Cathal.
February 16 Monday (London): I went to Manchester in the morning and saw Gerry Cohen. He is cheerful and easy-going, far from political dynamite. I wanted two things, somebody to call CA meetings, book rooms in particular, and material for the paper. In a way this was only a courtesy visit and I expected to have to make my own arrangements, but he was not excluded from making his observations. There were two people I had in mind, young Pat Devine and Wolf Charles. He told me Devine was very busy and pulling off the DPC [District Party Committee]. As for Charles he doubted if he would do much. He rang him and I heard Wolf ask how I was. “Looking far better than he has any right to,” said the jocular secretary, at the same time revealing his inner feelings at the stirring up process to which he was being subjected. Anyway I went to see Wolf Charles. I did not waste time going into the “shop”.
When I got to see Charles he expressed great concern over my health, said I looked “knackered” and where was the long black hair of olden times. Like many other things it was of course in Die Ewigkeit [in eternity]. However, we got to business and he booked a public house room by telephone on the spot and said he would pay for it. He offered to circularise the members and call as many meetings as I liked, and to find a room for Easter Sunday. It was obvious that he was prepared to do for me what he was not prepared to do for Gerry Cohen, and the reasons were not very far to seek.
He said something about the Syd Abbott affair. Abbott is in a wheelchair and he goes to see him, a very different man from the young fellow of 1950 with his YHA badge. He thought Gardiner had been badly treated. He had made perfectly legitimate objections to the District Secretary climbing over the wall of the bookshop and helping himself to five pound notes and going to the races when he said he was addressing a meeting in Barstow. To a great extent he blamed Kerrigan [Peter Kerrigan, CPGB Industrial Organiser]. For himself he had no great regrets. He enjoyed his job with the CEU [Engineering Union] as he had enjoyed that as party organiser. But he pitied the young boy from Macclesfield who had come in to work with Cohen. This was clutching at a straw, too, for he had no background. “Seventeen organisers in Lancashire bit the dust,” said Wolf “and all of them have bitter feelings”. He must have dwelt on the subject long and carefully to have them all counted up. He was concerned that Palme Dutt was getting so old, but amazed at his stamina. He thought the condemnation of Russian action in Czechoslovakia was the cause of much trouble, as confusion reigns unbounded. He was also concerned that the old intellectuals are dying off and the next generation (he instanced Aaronovitch) going into academic life. On the whole he was by no means happy about things, but without much to propose.
I came on to London then, my purpose being largely accomplished, and rang Joe Deighan, who promised to consider going to Manchester at Easter. He laughed when I told him I had heard Wolf’s “tale of woe”. For he was in the thick of it before he left Manchester [Joe Deighan had lived and worked in Manchester in the 1950s and early 1960s and became prominent in the labour movement there]. Then I went to bed early.
February 17 Tuesday: I did some work on the paper in the morning, but in the afternoon went to Balham and spent the afternoon with Bobby Rossiter. He had been very anxious for me to come to lunch and sample his Spanish wife’s able cooking. I am afraid he drinks wine like beer – not wisely only but too well.
February 18 Wednesday: I spent the day on the paper. I was to speak to Hornsey YCL in the evening. I went up there and found only two apologetic females. The branch committee were away at another meeting. This sort of thing people who deal with the Irish question have year after year.
February 19 Thursday: Again I was on the paper. Joan Bellamy rang up and asked me to open the next discussion at the International Affairs Committee, but asked me to call in to her.
February 20 Friday: I finished the paper. And I saw Joan Bellamy. She had notes. “What are you asking me to talk for if you have it all worked out in front of you?” said I. However, I consented to give the talk but said I would do it in my own way. I am not just so very pleased with them that I will be turned on like a tap. But she is really a very civilized person, nothing of the Kay Beauchamp about her. Of course she is only 44. She is going up against Denis Healey in Leeds [Labour Secretary for Defence] and tells me that her husband, Ron, was at school with him since the age of ten. When they were demobilized at the end of the war he told Bellamy his plan to go into politics and “get on” and invited him to do the same. There is a rumour that he will become Secretary-General of NATO. He blushes whenever he sees Bellamy, she says. I would rather doubt it, though.
A letter came from Elsie O’Dowling saying that she had a slight heart attack and was in Dulwich Hospital. I wrote to her and also asked Pat Bond if he would call. I wonder if it is a “slight” one. I told her to treat it as seriously as if it was a bad one.
February 21 Saturday (Liverpool): I was in the office. More of the boys came in – Jim Kelly, Pat Hensey, Pat O’Donohue, Peter Mullingan, but not Charlie Cunningham or Sean Redmond. Dorothy Deighan and Jane Tate also came. I spent some time with Tecwyn Evans and a friend he brought from Reading. This was a man from Connemara, I judged fairly well educated. But when I asked to be introduced he asked the man his name, which I thought odd, though I immediately forgot it. He had been in Liverpool recently and had seen J.Roose Williams. Roose is soon moving to Cardiff. He will supply a Welsh column for the paper, but tells me that he has to write in Welsh, then translate. I note also that Roose Williams’s English, in his papers, is “wooden”. That must be the reason. There is only sparkle in the language you think in.
I left for Liverpool on the afternoon train through Birmingham. When I reached 124 Mount Road I found letters from Donn Piatt, Michael McInerney, Frank Short of Birmingham and Enid Greaves.
February 22 Sunday (Leeds/Doncaster): I did odd jobs about the house and then went to Leeds. There the YCL had arranged a meeting, in a public house near the centre. The District Secretary was there and about five others. It was obvious that no effort had been made, probably because King Street were paying three-quarters of the expenses. This group of meetings was nevertheless arranged at Yorkshire’s request. I did not think they were very interested. The secretary, David Cook, was an intelligent young man of about 23-25 I would guess. He thought Ireland very similar to England on the one hand, and that the Republic was a “clerical fascist state”. So there was no need to know anything about its politics! I stayed the night at his house.
February 23 Monday: The Cooks have a pleasant wee child of about one and a half years whose feet are deformed as a result of a misplaced tendon. They will take him into hospital today for an operation they hope will have him walking normally. Cook drove me into Leeds – he lives in Pudsey – in his van. I went to Derby and Ripley and, to my annoyance, found the paper was not ready. I must go on Wednesday. I rang Cook and told him I could not manage the factory gate meeting they had arranged in Sheffield. Not that I was much concerned. It was clear that they had booked this visit, then found it too much trouble to arrange, and handed it over to the YCL secretary because Hill himself was busy at other things. Cook admitted that the factory gate meeting was because they could think of nothing else.
I returned to Sheffield and went to Doncaster. There with some difficulty I found the public house – the notice had given the wrong road and an inaccurate name. There were about a dozen there, but though old they were interested, and there was one solitary young Irishman, Gerard Allen from Sligo, a trifle leftist, but otherwise seemingly a good lad. I stayed with miners in Rossington. Terence Wilde had arranged the meeting, but the man who should have done it, and accommodated me overnight, named Hanson, had done nothing and was not there. It was with Arthur Wilde, the father, I stayed.
He is engaged in a “one-man war” against the proposal that a coalite plant should be established across the valley. His objection is air pollution. The Coal Board has developed a most advanced process giving a better fuel (with the somewhat unimaginative name of “room-heat”!) without pollution. But they refuse to provide the capital for a plant. He was talking about it all the time. But his wife whose father used to talk socialism in the market square, wanted to talk about holidays in Russia. I have long been sceptical of the value of all this holidaying in socialist countries, in its political effect on the movement in Britain at any rate. It may create general goodwill, but little more. However, he stuck to his guns; he is going to address a public enquiry tomorrow.
She was telling me about Terence. He did not marry until he was thirty. His sole interest was bicycles, and cyclists were calling at the house at all hours. “Married or no, you must go when you’re thirty,” said his mother. Then he was thirty. “Married or no you go when you’re forty,” she said. “That’s how I got out of it, for I was sorry, though I couldn’t manage the catering.” She has asthma. But soon after he married. “And the girl wasn’t really to my liking. So I wondered if I’d forced him into it.” Apparently the marriage is successful. She puts up with his immersion in politics. He is never at home. And so on and so on.
“I think she’s getting a little more firm with him lately,” said Mrs Wilde to her husband. The old miner was looking for some papers in a cupboard. His voice was colourless and formal. “I don’t know,” he answered. I imagine this conversation had taken place before.
February 24 Tuesday: It was frosty in the morning. I went into Doncaster by bus, and then into Leeds and found Hill, friendly but casual. I asked how he had dealt with the IRA arms trial, and he answered as if I was a young branch secretary asking for “the line”. There was not the faintest desire to go into the Irish question, and I resolved to charge them my full expenses and hope they don’t get it back from London. Unfortunately London is very scrupulous and will probably pay them. Then I went to Bradford University. Once more there was every evidence of hasty arrangements. There were about nine people there. I met one or two lecturers I know but whose names I have forgotten. I think Marshall was one of them. The students were quite an intelligent bunch and the meeting was not a waste. Nor indeed was that at Huddersfield, which was well attended with about twenty present, filling the room they had booked. A lot of them knew me from the 1961 march [a march for civil rights in Northern Ireland which the Connolly Association had organised from Liverpool to Wakefield in August 1961]. I stayed with a young couple not far out of the town.
February 25 Wednesday (Barnsley): I took the train to Sheffield, then to Ripley via Derby, did the paper, then returned to Sheffield and went to Barnsley. The meeting again was poor, about seven present. The chairman, who seemed to be general factotum, was talking from the chair when I arrived. A big man of about sixty he was telling of his efforts to get a new incinerator installed by the Council. He seemed very self-confident and full of himself. I gave the talk. There was one young Irishman there who corroborated what I said. Then I went home with the chairman. He was still full of himself. He is the Soviet Weekly agent, keeps an Alsatian dog that bit the local policeman, and used to be circulation agent for the Daily Worker. There was one son, the youngest of six, who is going to be a medical student.
February 26 Thursday (Liverpool): It was snowing slightly. I went first to Leeds and collected my expenses. I did not overcharge them, since anyway London is paying. But I would have liked to have done so. I heard that the Barnsley man is strongly pro-Russian in the Czech affair and exerts something of a divisive influence. In other words he is full of himself on that too. I recall his criticising Monty Johnston for his articles in “Cogito”. I think that criticism has something in it. But then I learned he had been sent copies of my pamphlet and other Irish literature and had not (as I observed) displayed it. Only “Soviet Weekly” was on sale. Of course I had my own supplies with me so it did not matter.
Anyway, I was glad to leave Yorkshire and I went first to Manchester, then to Liverpool, changed, and returned to Manchester. There we had an excellent meeting in a pub Wolf Charles had booked for us and made arrangements for re-starting the branch. The atmosphere at an Irish meeting is quite different, and I noted the difference after the dull chilly gatherings (Huddersfield excepted) of the last few days.
The Barnsley man, whose name was Greenfield, told me about Jim Conway who used to distribute the Democrat and whom I visited in Barnsley. Apparently he committed suicide after discovering that his wife was going openly with another man. Apparently the marriage was not a success. “You’d go round to the house, and she’d be out, and he’d be busy on an ironboard, ironing her knickers,” was Greenfield’s story. He used to live with his sister and in the sad little note he left behind, he spoke of his “sheltered upbringing”. He fixed the exhaust pipe of his van so that it blew into the cab. He was a miner. It was he who introduced me to the Chartist manuscripts in Barnsley Library and I told Rachel Bush[wife of English composer Alan Bush] about them when she was doing her thesis.
February 27 Friday: I did not do very much in the morning. The weather was still damp and cold, and I have still a slight cold.
February 28 Saturday: I went to Manchester and called in to Danny Kilcommins. He was looking older, still complaining of arthritis, but in good enough form. Kilroy and Maire Redmond are totally separated now. I also saw Jimmy McGill in his rooms piled to the ceiling with books [These were all longstanding members of the Manchester Connolly Association branch]. He was late and I met his mother, now well up in her seventies and a native of Northamptonshire – near Corby.
A letter from Michael O’Riordan invited me to the “Unity Conference”[ie. of the Irish Workers Party and the Communist Party of Northern Ireland, in Belfast to establish the CPI] on March 15, so I was busy all day getting the Birmingham conference postponed.
March 1 Sunday: I spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone. He told me that the meeting in Coventry was fairly successful yesterday, and about 70 attended Pat Bond’s meeting in Lambeth. Callaghan was there and with O’Leary heckled Lipton [Marcus Lipton, Labour MP for Brixton] on an anti-Labour basis. “Judge by their past actions!” shouted Callaghan. “What about yours?” countered one of our boys, and Callaghan subsided. Sean told me that the mad Davoren bunch are holding a meeting in Trafalgar Square on March 15th. “As the exploiters of the Irish workers march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the workers hold their protest march.” Now among the speakers is bearded O’Sullivan, once a marshal of their own “exploiters” parade. “He’s not a member of Clann na hEireann anymore, since his name went on that leaflet,” Eddie MacManus told Sean Redmond. Another speaker is Eamon Melaugh from Derry. “He doesn’t know who he’s speaking for,” says MacManus. “None of them have the faintest conception of what they are doing,” I said to Sean Redmond. It is clear that the Republicans are wandering in a petit-bourgois labyrinth. They have no idea how to get out.
March 2 Monday: The weather has turned incredibly cold again. This must be the most treacherous winter for years. Never two days the same. I did very little.
March 3 Tuesday: Another cold day, and very little done indeed, except for choosing some quotations for Joe Deighan to translate into Gaelic. However I bought a double boiler to experiment making curry at a 100 degrees centigrade. It seems to work.
March 4 Wednesday: When I got up there were two inches of snow on the ground. It was melting and slipping off the roofs all day. In the evening Sean Redmond telephoned. Martin Guinan has arranged a meeting for March 24 in Blackburn, and in Oxford they have one on April 15th. He said the snow was knee deep in London, and the worst for years. As a result there were not many at the meeting. Mrs Phillips was here [ie. the lady who occasionally cleaned the house and whom he had “inherited” from his sister Phyllis following her death in 1966].
March 5 Thursday: Another cold day, though not quite so bad. Late at night Fred Brown from next door came in to report over my ‘phone a fault in his. He seemed in no hurry to go. Then he told me that Cowe, the chemist opposite, had fallen down dead of angina. So we started reminiscences. He was living in Harley Avenue and remembers the Wiend being built [opposite Greaves’s family home at 124 Mount Road, Prenton, Birkenhead], and Cowe taking the shop in 1928. I told him that I remembered the building – indeed well recall the field and the footpath where Thornton Road is, and the “water works” as we called it. Cowe was already established when we came up in 1931[from Rock Ferry, a mile or so away, where CDG had been born and spent his childhood years]. “So there you are,” said Brown, after commenting that Cowe did not drink or smoke. “We might as well eat, drink and be merry.” I reflected that while I had done my share of eating and drinking, merriment is harder to come by. It seems Cowe was 68 and had a brother a doctor who died in much the same way a few years ago. Cowe was in his shop from early morning till the middle of the evening. I commented it was always the wrong one – that miserable divil Cottrell whom Phyllis could not stand doesn’t look a day older than he was in 1931! Not of course that we ”wish anybody any harm”! Brown commented that Mrs Baker (“Extra Class”) is still there and she is 72. She seems quite a nice person. I don’t know if she does much business, but no doubt has her clientele. I did not remark to Brown that “be merry” is held to be a euphemism by some, though my lexicon gives the sense playing “like a child” rather than begetting children. He is somewhat straitlaced.
Incidentally Rowlands, the man at the paper shop, has also gone last weekend and a young fellow from Bebington (says Brown) has taken over. Rowlands has opened a restaurant in Criccieth. I do not object since from his name he would be Welsh. He might have a little respect. A further item of news was that Dr Marsden has been very ill – indeed in danger of his life.
March 6 Friday: The letter Sean Redmond told me about from Martin Guinan arrived. It invites me to a meeting in Blackburn on March 23, but the 23rd is a Monday, so I presume it is the 25th but I wrote for clarification. There was also a letter from Nan Green.
March 7 Saturday: A letter from Collins came from Leominster saying that the whole of the estate of Princess Loewenstein believes The Bog and Kennerley has been sold to a man called Fletcher in Shrewsbury. The name of his land agent was enclosed. So I can imagine I may lose the cottage. However, I never seem to be able to get out there, the weather is so unutterably wretched. Two more inches of snow last night, and today filth and slush as it melts.
Michael Brennan rang in the evening. The Belfast NICRA had written asking for particulars of our Petition and saying they were to have a “Covenant”, and what was interesting and promising is that the Manchester Social Justice referred it to the coordinator! I have no doubt of course that the enquiry was prompted by a desire to cause splits in this country. Such a shower of double-crossing petit-bourgeois rascals as are running that movement would be hard to find. As if they didn’t know about our campaign. I also blame Tony Coughlan who induced them to include the “Bill of Rights” in their programme along with a lot of unnecessary tosh, but presumably so as to keep himself free from the taint of “communism” kept all our past record dark [Anthony Coughlan advocated the Bill of Rights concept in Republican and NICRA circles from late 1968 onward because he believed it was the sensible policy, being well aware that Greaves and the Connolly Association had originated it in Britain and he never sought to conceal that fact].
I have no replies from Pat Kilroy or Barney Watters so I wrote again. I had to ring Michael Crowe who says he will not be free till Good Friday. Still, better than nothing.
March 8 Sunday: A queer day especially the weather. It was snowing till midday, but thawing at the same time. Then there was light rain and a south wind and consequently a quicker thaw, all unpredicted by the forecasters. But there was still snow in places where it had been thickest. I did some work on the paper. Otherwise little.
March 9 Monday: It was freezing hard in the morning with thick fog and there had been a sprinkle of snow from an east wind. Then in the afternoon it thawed, and the wind blew from the south. At nightfall it was drizzling – I experienced a sense of surprise at seeing and smelling rain! But snow still lay in places. Not unnaturally in such depressing circumstances all I could do was stay indoors, do one or two things for the paper and bring card indexes up to date.
March 10 Tuesday (London): I went to London: the whole country was under snow cover from the edge of Liverpool to the edge of London. Jim Kelly came in in the evening.
March 11 Wednesday: I did a few things on the paper in the morning. Then I spent the afternoon with Fiona on the book. She had been unwell and the last Chapter had brought memories back and made her cry. She recalled that Maire was a student. On 8 December 1922, Fiona being about 15, Maire appeared at the door at mid-morning. She was distraught and went right up to her room and closed the door. But Fiona managed to get the news from her and went to her mother. “What’s the matter with Maire?” “Mother, they’ve murdered Liam.” Lillie Connolly held the table to steady herself as she sat down on the chair and put her hand over her eyes. “Oh! My poor boy!” That was all she said. When Mrs Connolly was on her death bed her room was like a conservatory with flowers sent by Fianna Boys from all over the world [Liam Mellows had been much involved with the Fianna]. The old woman was very proud of this.
In the evening Michael Duignan gave a passable talk on Ireland and the EEC. But it was defeatist and at times there was just a touch of flippancy. The reason is that he probably believes in “the gun”, which will cut the Gordian knot. But he is more intelligent than MacManus and after the meeting dissociated himself from the younger man’s scatterbrained nonsense. I had told Sean Redmond not to get caught up in Clann na hEireann’s rubbish, but he had Pat Hensey at it last Saturday. They walked from Hyde Park, leaving late, with numerous sit-downs and “confrontations”, and Lawless and Davoren were there. I wonder if it taught them a lesson. Sean is scared of being “isolated”. But the real reason is that he cannot get impetus behind his own initiative. I raised the question of a centre to the campaign and he said he had been thinking of a public meeting. So he rang Hume there and then and Hume agreed to come. Hume said Rose had just been talking to him and seemed in favour of the Bill of Rights.
March 12 Thursday: First the Bulgarian Embassy rang for particulars of Sunday’s conference, the details of which had not been conveyed to the fraternal delegates! Then a letter came from Birnberg asking me to help in the case of Padraic Dwyer who was remanded in custody till 18 March on an extradition warrant issued in Dublin. I rang Birnberg. He told me Dwyer was wanted for robbing a bank. He claimed this was in pursuance of the aims of “Saor Eire” (which I had never heard of). The 1965 Act debars extradition for political offences. He wanted to establish that Dwyer’s offence was political. The story was that while out on bail Dwyer had been accused, or it was the rumour, that he was prepared to turn State evidence on the others. He was frightened when he received a bullet through the post. He fled to Spain. After six weeks he came to London. There he lost some hundred pounds’ worth of traveller cheques. He went to the police. They suggested the cheques were forged. When they got him into the station they brought out the extradition warrant. Birnberg added that the man admitted he had a criminal record. So I concluded he was an unsavoury character, probably one of those unstable emotional people who are so numerous. They live in a world of fancy. Birnberg wondered if I would appear as a witness to support the contention that these cases were political. I said I was very busy but would tell him on Tuesday after I had consulted people in Dublin. In the evening I spoke to Sean Redmond who thought great care should be exercised, and rightly too.
In the afternoon I was again with Fiona. She told me that Una Mallin, Michael’s daughter [Michael Mallin, Citizen Army leader, executed following the 1916 Rising], sees her once a year. She is a nun in Spain. It seems all Mallin’s children carried out his absurd injunctions to become priests and nuns; and one of the brothers taught Cathal [ie. Greaves’s friend, Cathal MacLiam] in Galway.
March 13 Friday: I did some work on the paper, and prepared the talk I gave to the IAC [International Affairs Committee of the CPGB] in the evening. Sean Redmond was not there. He is talking of giving it up. But there was a good enough gathering – Gerry Pocock replaces Harry Bourne, to what advantage we will find out, and Kay Beauchamp, Palme Dutt, Hillel Woddis, Joan Bellamy and Billy Strachan were there. Andrew Rothstein seems to have pulled out. Idris Cox was also there – always, I think, faintly carping, but it is his manner. The proceedings were notable for Palme Dutt’s recollection of “fraternal association”[ie. the notion that the British Empire should be turned into such rather than be dissolved and the colonies given their full independence]. They all opposed it, but Stalin refused to consider anything else. The Tsarist Empire had been made into a Federation, then a Union. Of course England must do the same. By such absurd follies is history determined. No wonder they do not take kindly to foreign advice now.
After it was over I had a drink with Kay Beauchamp and Billy Strachan. Joan Bellamy was going to a party with Page Arnot. Apparently she is 43 today! It was very amusing. “I don’t like to say it’s the reason,” said Kay Beauchamp, “but they do things differently since I was off the DPC.” She was always its stalwart defender. Not so now. And Egelnick came in for the main blast. They had wanted some Labour Party to put out a leaflet against racial discrimination and Sachs had taken it to Egelnick. After three weeks it was not done. Why not? “Why should we help the Labour Party?” asks Egelnick. So it was a matter of issuing it on their own behalf. “There’s no money,” said Egelnick. “We’ll raise the money,” said the West Indian and they did. Then there was the proposal that a leaflet should announce a meeting. Gollan was to be asked to speak at it. More delay. Egelnick did not think Gollan would do it. Sachs approached him directly and he assented. So back goes Sachs to Egelnick. Speaker, money, leaflet, all present. “I think this money should go into the electoral fund,” says Egelnick, “and we can see how the colour question can be raised.” And apparently that was that. Of course I have seen the same thing a hundred times. I long ago learned that if you want a thing done, do it yourself. Of the same Egelnick (whom I recruited into the Party nearly thirty years ago in Golders Green!) Joe O’Connor says, “He’s like a young IRA officer.”
March 14 Saturday: I worked on the paper in the morning, then came to Liverpool, stayed a couple of hours, then caught the Belfast boat.
March 15 Sunday (Belfast): I landed at Belfast and telephoned John McClelland. A taxi was available so I went right up. I was shown into the front room as a bearded figure leaped out of the bed-sitter. It was Tom Redmond who has covered his face with black fungus. He does not look well. There is a sallowness. John McClelland took Tom and me with him on a tour of the damaged areas. In one place bored soldiers played with Catholic toddlers. In others they stood stiffly by sandbag emplacements or invigilated from the roofs of buildings. I learned that there had been a CPNI conference yesterday and a great social last night at which they all got drunk. I was not invited to those things. As Harris [Noel Harris, DATA trade unionist and member of NICRA and the CPNI] told me a year ago, I have not many friends in the North – Betty Sinclair, and Billy McCullough when he was alive. And my invitation to today’s event was signed to O’Riordan and Nolan [that is, Irish Workers League leaders in the South]. I was on their list. We went to the hotel next to the police barracks where the conference had assembled. There was a bar below, and a bar in the conference room, an arrangement visitors from all over Europe agreed was new to them. However, it only opened between sessions and was probably the notion of the proprietors.
There were over a hundred people there – Sean Morrissey introduced me to some of the young people; and I saw Peter O’Connor and Peter Lalor, and John Meehan who used to be in South London. Noakes and Noel Harris were at the door. Andy Barr opened the proceedings by saying there was never a formal decision to divide the two parties (I wonder does he really remember those days?). It was “brought about by objective and subjective circumstances”. That of course leaves out only nonsensical circumstances, so might be true enough. There was not much in his speech. I thought it lacked conviction. But by contrast Michael O’Riordan gave a rousing speech. They were aiming to get a “united working-class approach to the problems of a divided country”. He made reference to Sean Murray and Billy McCullough, described the economic penetration and the proposals for a federation with England [ie. in the EEC]. Jimmy Stewart spoke, but with less conviction than O’Riordan. I am not deeply impressed with that young man, though he is “all right”. Joe Deasy deputised for Carmody, whose wife is ill, and showed more conviction than Stewart. Jim Graham [leading shop-stewart in Short’s aircraft factory] spoke of the fight for jobs. He confined himself to the Six Counties. I doubt if he ever familiarized himself with the world south of the border. Short and Harland is the centre of the universe. Edwina Stewart spoke on “Civil Rights” and tried to “balance things out”, with all the apparatus of Northern repression on the one hand and the Southern disapproval of divorce and contraception on the other. She wanted a “Civil Rights Charter” added to the constitution of Northern Ireland by the Westminster Government. She condemned the attacks on the Maoist bookshop in Limerick and spoke of the right of all to have a job and a house. She criticised “People’s Democracy” leftism, which was to the good and on the whole might have done worse.
We then had lunch. “There is a myth being created,” said I to Betty Sinclair. “You’re telling me,” she replied. But she didn’t do badly when she got up herself, for she spoke of the two groups having always been “spiritually one” – which was vague enough to allow any construction. I tackled Edwina about the report in the Irish Post that the NICRA was taking up their “Covenant” in England. She was inclined to blame Dalton Kelly for misinforming them. But I doubted it. “Anyway they’re not getting any,” she said of London NICRA and promised to issue a denial.
I had a word with Michael O’Riordan about Dwyer. Yesterday I had written Birnberg to say I could not see my way to giving evidence in the case. Was it political, I asked? “Sheer gangsterism. The money went on drink.” Saor Eire was the crowd who ran the paper in Cork, very ultra-left and nonsensical. It turns out it was Walter’s son [Walter O’Dwyer of Kiltimagh, well-known rural left-winger, whom Greaves knew when he stayed near Achill in 1951; see the Journal Vol.10] – it had occurred to me that it might be – Padhraigh as they called him. The last time I saw him he wouldn’t be twelve years old and was running round Kiltimagh in his bare feet. It is the worst possible case on which Birnberg could be fighting.
It was in the afternoon that the formal fusion took place. There were messages of greetings from about twenty communist parties. Then came a few fraternal speeches (read by the chairman) and individual messages. That from that rat Prendergast was read out as if it was from Lenin himself in the tomb. This was Barr’s doing, but Tommy Watters at least got a mention. Bruton’s elder brother spoke to me afterwards and referred to the somewhat hysterical message of support he had sent out to the YCL from Oxford jail. I said I doubted the value of demonstrations while the case is under appeal. So it was over. There were scenes of great enthusiasm and a rush to the bar.
“Have you any misgivings?” Sean Nolan had asked me at lunch. “I have,” I replied, “But it is done.” “The problems you hadn’t solved before reunification you’ll have to solve after it.” He put this in his final speech, and another thing I told him, to make the working-class Republican.
I had a few words with John Warren, and a talk with Adam Bell, now 91, but with perfect memory and remembering writing for the Democrat 15 years ago. Peter O’Connor[Waterford leftwinger, former International Brigader] told me his brother Francis and wife are both in poor health.
So off we went to Dublin, Tony Coughlan and myself. I was never sure Tony Coughlan was in the Irish Workers Party. Nor am I now! [He was not. Anthony Coughlan did not discuss the details of his political activity in Ireland during the 1960s with Desmond Greaves. He attended the conference as an observer from the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society and in his capacity as Dublin correspondent of the “Irish Democrat”; see the cognate entry for 20 September 1967 in Vol. 19. The only political party that he was ever a member of was the Irish Labour Party which he belonged to for three years when he was a student at UCC in the late 1950s, along with his classmate Michael O’Leary(1936-2006), later Labour leader and Tanaiste, and his other UCC contemporary Barry Desmond, born 1935, later Labour Minister for Health]. He is the very embodiment of secretiveness. Of course we were drinking all the way to Dublin. Joe Deasy and a friend were on the train. We then went into a public house with them. By the time we reached Cathal’s we had well looked after ourselves. Father Clarence Duffy was there. He was in Dublin for the Late Night show on Telefis Eireann, and heard I was coming. But I was not in good form for discussion. Tony Coughlan had brought bottles in, so everybody else ended the same way! However, nobody seemed to suffer any harm from it.
March 16 Monday: I saw Roy Johnston for a few minutes. He confirmed that it was Padhraig Dwyer. Then what of his brother-in-law the solicitor? “His family doesn’t want to know him,” Roy replied. Nevertheless, I went to the library of the Irish Times and got cuttings in which there were accounts of complaints by Gardai that they didn’t know whether to arrest bank raiders or not, as the Government seemed prepared to let political burglars away! It was agreed that it took no skin off our noses if the Irish police didn’t get Padhraig back, and the harder extradition was made the better.
I spent several hours with Cathal Goulding who called in. I had asked him (through Cathal) to discuss the Dwyer case, but I had found out all about it before he came. So we were talking generalities, and I noticed a change in him. Some of the bounce had gone out of him. He was more sober and inclined to be self-critical. “What’s that disease you’ve got that makes you need alcohol?” he asked me with a smile. “Oh – senile depression,” said I. “Well I’ve got that too. I’ve been getting very depressed at times, and the only thing that does me good is a night’s drinking.” He remarked that peoples’ occupations affected their outlook. He was no exception. He was too busy in his business to get around and see people. The only politically reliable people were the full-time workers – a curious sidelight on IRA sectishnesss!
“Of course the events of last August did us terrible harm.”
“Having no guns, you mean?”
“Yes. Though it was to a great extent the fault of Belfast themselves. The test of a man when the movement is broke is how deep he’ll dig into his own pocket.”
I remarked that the difference between the United Irishman and An Phoblacht [the monthly papers of the Official Republicans and Provisional Republicans respectively] did not seem to warrant a major split. “Don’t you think so?” He told me that Stephenson wanted the abstention issue discussed so as to kill it quickly. When he proposed delay as there was no election in sight, Costello challenged him, “Are you afraid to fight it out?” So it was discussed, and the result was a split. “The older I get,” Goulding remarked, “the more cautious I become.”
This put me in mind of Tom Redmond yesterday morning. Somebody said that the students were “deeply involved in social issues”. Tom (who made a good speech) dissented. “They are involved,” he said, “but not deeply.” “Dear me, Tomaisin,” I said, “What is happening to you? When did you ever start reading the fine print?” “Ah,” said he, “it is anno domini.”
Goulding said that Costello could never be reasoned into anything. He would not believe there was an obstacle till he struck it. “I’m worried about the north,” he said. I said so was I and it was not easy to see our preferred mode of transition, but mercifully the other side seemed as uncertain. He thought the British policy was to weaken and confuse the Unionists in hopes of imposing a federal settlement [that is, in the context of joint membership of the EEC by the two countries]. He mentioned apropos of the prisoners, Doherty from Glasgow, who paraded the country in old jeans and a “combat jacket” surmounted by a huge beard [Doherty was on trial in Britain for arms offences]. “A fucking amateur”, I described him as. He was not in a position to dispute it. I gave the impression that I did not much approve of these adventures, and I added that too much protestation could queer the pitch at the appeal. It was odd that Roy Johnston, while professing complete disrespect for the “private jobs” being done, thought it was necessary to help them with their cases and demand their release for fear other people did so. One gets the impression of a very imperfectly centralized organisation.
About NICRA, whereas Betty Sinclair said she would have striven to keep the McCluskeys, Cathal Goulding thought they were better out of the way. They either had to be rid of them or have NICRA dominated by Fianna Fail. He claims that Fianna Fail leaders are always wining and dining at Dungannon Castle [home of Dr Conn and Mrs Patricia McCluskey of the Campaign for Social Justice]. He said Curry is as bad. He likes good living and to have the price of a bottle of brandy. He mixes socially with the Unionists despite his political opposition to them. They are quite convinced he would fall for federation.
He said he had been invited as a “fraternal delegate” to the CPNI conference, which interested me. Of course Stewart, who a few years ago would have held up his hands in horror at the suggestion that he should meet an IRA man, has now gone to the opposite extreme. He views them through a haze of romance. He also asked, “Have you not got misgivings about this reunification?” I told him I had but asked him for his. “Well, I saw the CPNI as a door to the Protestant workers. If they become anti-Partition they may close it.” I told him I thought that in that case they would have to make the Trade Union movement the door.
I asked him about the “Irish Republic now virtually established”[the traditional concept, transmitted from the Fenians of the 1860s, that the IRA was the lawful government of the Irish Republic]. “I don’t set much store by it,” he said. “Young people can’t be bound by rules made before they were born. Revolutionaries must work from things as they are. For my part I cannot see any broad lines of tactics being evolved from anybody but dedicated Marxists. They will show the way to the future.”
It struck me that Cathal Goulding is now in a transitional phase. Joe O’Connor in London expressed the opinion that the Goulding IRA will go CPI and others become the recognized IRA. It would be a pity in ways. But it struck me that this might be true of Goulding. That he has enormously matured is certain.
I saw Roy Johnston again for a few minutes. It struck me that he was conscious of having lost influence. Cathal Goulding goes to Michael O’Riordan now not to him. As I left the house he said, “I want to talk with you – about philosophy.” It was because I have accused him of following Fanon [Frantz Fanon, French Caribbean theorist of the anti-colonial struggle who emphasized the importance of organising the oppressed peasants and landless in underdeveloped countries where the working class was numerically weak].
In the evening Moss Twomey called. But Cathal had come home ill and had gone to bed. This was a pity. When Twomey heard the names of the two children Conor and Finula he showed marked approval. Then he noticed the picture of Mellows on the wall, deduced he was in a Republican house, and felt himself pleasantly at home. He was most definite that Lynch [Republican leader Liam Lynch] went to the Four Courts only a few hours before they were attacked [at the beginning of the Irish civil war].
March 17 Tuesday: I had a message from Roy Johnston that a man on the North Wall had known Mellows. He is Ned Byrne. His son Kevin O’Byrne is editor of the Dublin Magazine. So I went to see him. He was a Free State soldier working secretly for the Republicans and is confident that it was he who smuggled out Mellows’s manifesto. He used the name Maguire at the time. The Manifesto was got to Lilly O’Donnell who (he says) had not yet met Peadar.
When I returned Cathal was worse. I thought it was influenza and suggested brandy and lemon till the doctor could be called. This sent him to sleep. When the doctor came he remarked, “I’m seeing these symptoms a hundred times a day.” It was a severe attack of tonsilitis. One tonsil was pallid and suppurating and the poison was running everywhere. I never remember seeing Cathal so ill.
However the time came to depart. Tony Coughlan came and Helga drove the two of us to Westland Row where she left us to have a valedictory drink. Tony Coughlan told me that people commented on the livelier Irish Democrat. Seamus O’Toole has started looking for means of brightening the United Irishman. He says Sean Garland is still on the run but has the feeling that if he comes off it nothing will happen. So we will see. He also added that he will eat his hat if Bernadette Devlin doesn’t stand for Westminster at the next election. I went to Holyhead via Dun Laoire – not a route I like, but there was practically nobody on board. I had brought a proper copy, so could drink tea, and this I did and made my notes.
March 18 Wednesday (London): I spent most of the day in the office on the paper. The branch was in the evening and I observed that nothing had been done to launch the petition in Central London. We had a drink afterwards and I was talking with Pegeen O’Flaherty, daughter of Liam the author. Apparently she speaks fluent Russian, is a friend of Elsie O’Dowling and makes her living largely as an interpreter. Her father is well. I mentioned his placing of the Red flag on the Rotunda. “He’s not ashamed of that or anything else he did – even being in the Irish Guards.” She said he was strongly Maoist, which I knew as I saw him in 16 Pearse Street buying all the Chinese periodicals. She is an interesting woman, of peasant, almost tinker, features, which present a great contrast when she becomes animated. She was in the United Ireland Association and gravitated towards the Connolly Association as more interesting. And she sells the paper. She has her doubts about the struggle for social change. “It would be terrible if all our efforts brought was a soul-less industrialism.” She has been in Greece. “I saw noble people. Yet all the things that kept them there were absolutely damnable.”
Afterwards Columba Longmore said he was going to Holland for a long time, making some playful descriptions of his intentions. Charlie Cunningham told me that he was giving up his job. He is very interested in art and has visited every important town in England just to see what its appearance is. Apparently this has led to a desire to get away from that is natural enough. He will now be able to see whether big business serves continental cities any better. But the interesting thing is that he has offered to put in a week in the office.
March 19 Thursday: Again I worked on the paper. Charlie Cunningham came in the evening and complained that Sean Redmond had squashed his proposal for a debate on the issue of suppression of Stormont. I said I thought it was not too wise as we might be manoeuvred into looking like defenders of Stormont. He said his complaint was that Sean “was opposed to it because he didn’t want the work”. This would very likely be true. He spoke of a Willesden meeting which the branch was assuming Sean Redmond would organise. It would be on a grand scale. But nobody had done anything about it.
March 20 Friday: Again the paper. Charlie Cunningham came in to mend some slates on the roof. I was out with Peter Mulligan in the evening. He told me that Sean Redmond has stopped his sending petitions to the London MCF affiliates, saying that at this stage we were not dealing with organisations. It almost went through my head that this was sabotaging it. He had already said it would be a “flop”, but it would rather be that since it was not his campaign he would find every obstacle. Peter said he would not mind working full-time if he had security, such as a house of his own. He complained bitterly of Joe Deighan and Pat Hensey with their dead hand on Central London. There is of course no question of this, and Sean Redmond has tolerated it to save himself trouble. I said Peter should himself try to get a relationship with Pat Hensey where he could suggest things to him before the committee met. He confirmed that the petition had not even been discussed. I thought Peter had developed appreciably, whereas I had expected he would not. Jim Kelly on the other hand seems stagnant.
March 21 Saturday: In the office in the morning the usual people came in. I learned that Pat Devine has had an operation and is seriously ill. There was no article this month [Devine wrote a personal “World Comment” column for the “Irish Democrat”]. Sean Redmond was there and I was in Holloway with him in the evening. I noticed some of the bounce had gone out of him. He looked somewhat sobered. At one point he said to me, “I wish I was twenty-one again.” I was with Fiona in the afternoon.
March 22 Sunday: The Standing Committee took place in the morning, and I brought everything up – the launching of the petition, the MCF, the Willesden meeting – with as much tact as was commensurate with the requisite firmness. Sean Redmond said that he had been told that Columba Longmore might do more than a week. I think Sean would like to have him full time. Indeed this was a new Sean Redmond for he said of Longmore, “He’s a good lad.” He has become convinced that he cannot continue as General Secretary. He will fall down on two jobs. I complained about the lack of a distribution manager and a proper business section. Gerry Curran promised to take this to Toni. Afterwards Sean said he thought he might do it. There is no doubt he could, but I would fear attaching to a declining star. But perhaps it is better than no star at all. I was with Fiona in the afternoon.
March 23 Monday: When I was with Fiona yesterday she spoke of “That poor boy who was killed in Spain”. She couldn’t remember the name. It was Charlie Donnelly. She said that her first husband, Len Wilson, had been very scornful of her “Celtic Twilight”. She had heard her mother was ill and insisted on making arrangements for a long stay in Dublin. He was still laughing when the telegraph announcing her death arrived. A while later (I presume, though I cannot recall when Lillie Reynolds died) they were at a party at Roddy’s. Charlie Donnelly was there. They were playing a game called “murder” in which you have to find the victim. It was Donnelly. I don’t know what the game is; I suppose you play it with cards. As Donnelly left, two days before he was to go to Spain, Wilson said, “I never saw death so clearly written in a man’s face”.
Well today I went on clearing up, wrote to Columba Longmore and went to Liverpool.
March 24 Tuesday (Liverpool): I sent to Ripley to read the proofs of the paper, and had a comparatively easy passage, which was good. I found a letter from Mabel Taylor to the effect that Hilda [a maternal aunt] had died in her sleep. She said it was for her a happy release. This was the first death in AEG’s family since 1953. She must have been about 81.
March 25 Wednesday: I have a filthy cold. I suspect that I picked up the primary infection from Cathal, for it developed at the end of last week. That is two colds this winter! All the same, I could not avoid going to Blackburn to speak at the meeting Martin Guinan had organised. He met me at the station and astonished me by saying he was now 40 years old. He could pass for 30. The meeting was quite a success, with about twenty people there, mostly building workers. Guinan said he had received no petition forms from Sean Redmond. Yet Sean told me he had circularized every member. Perhaps it was in London only. Martin drove me back to Liverpool – he works for a taxi firm – and I caught the last Rock Ferry train but one. He is an excellent person, a native of Newry, but his mother from Dover. He now regrets having taken up full-time work for the party – about 1961-1965 – and is very critical of Gerry Cohen who he says has no industrial experience and gives advice on strikes when he was never in one in his life. Personally I would regard him as a pleasant, easy-going lazy-bones. The trouble is that there are two many good opportunities for capable people and we cannot get good men; those that are there are not capable of understanding what is said to them, and thus everything is second rate, except for one or two national periodicals, and they are not brilliant judged by the standards of the thirties. I think he is dubious of the condemnation of Czechoslovakia. But I said nothing.
March 26 Thursday: I had a telephone call from Michael Crowe. I explained that I was down with a feverish cold and asked him to look after things when he got to Manchester tomorrow. However, he will ring again and see if I am better.
March 27 Friday: Though I was still not well, I went to Manchester in the afternoon and met Michael[Michael Crowe, now a lecturer in French in Sunderland]. There has been an enormous improvement in his alertness and self-confidence since he left Manchester. I think he hated the job and knew he was being victimized. We spoke of the improved prospect of Labour. I said I thought the Trade Unionists had found that when they sufficiently disassociated themselves from it ideologically they could fight it as well as the Conservatives. So there was now no advantage of having the Conservatives – they could fight the two of them! “Horace Green was saying something like that – Labour has abandoned wage restraint and restrictions on the Trade Unions. So people have found they can influence them after all.” I thought the different emphasis subtly interesting. Horace is a greater optimist than I, at the moment anyway. For I see a population utterly corrupted and doubt if anything but some great misfortune will restore them. But there is enough folly being committed by their rulers to ensure not one but a hundred misfortunes.
March 28 Saturday: I went to Manchester again. Again also I was too busy coughing to do much else. But Michael Crowe and I made a few arrangements.
March 29 Sunday: I went to Manchester to attend the social I had arranged. It was a powerful success. Pat Kilroy brought his flute and Barney Watters his fiddle. He is nearly eighty and tells me he has a hernia that is inoperable and has lost his self-confidence. Strange. Phyllis said that to me, and that it happened before her fatal illness. I think it was after having unpleasant after-effects from an accident in the tunnel. “I have already lost confidence in my body,” she put it. However, whether Barney has need to I cannot say. Michael Daly and Lena were there. Then the Beirnes came in, Alice with sandwiches, and the Branneys. Belle (now married to a Lalor) offered to act as the correspondence secretary. She would also sell papers. A very good girl. Jimmy McGill was there and later Danny Kilcommins came in, Michael Rabbitt, the CEU boys and finally Frank Duffy and Brendan McCaffrey of the Social Justice.
Michael Crowe and I had a conversation with these. Duffy explained they had broken with Dungannon [ie. the Campaign for Social Justice there] and had had a very rude reply. He then said that Edwina Menzie had been in Manchester at a meeting of representatives of Social Justice in Manchester, Birmingham and Coventry. It had been decided to link the three in a new organization under the aegis of the Belfast NICRA and to complete this before the meeting of the coordinating committee on April 12. Of course I was furiously angry at these intrigues by the so innocent seeming Edwina [This judgement was based on erroneous information, see the next entry below]. At the same time I was very anxious about it all. Duffy and McCaffrey were declaring with delight that soon there would be a Citizen Army in Belfast and this was because “the people were let down last August”. There is no political sense whatever. I can well understand why in small countries the bomb always goes off just when a loud bang will be of service to imperialism. I told them they should seek unity against the real enemy, not vie for the most spectacular place in the movement against it. I do not know if I made myself popular!
March 30 Monday: Despite the cold weather I went to Manchester again and found Michael Crowe at Alice Beirne’s house. They had continued the social until 4 am. at her house. Twenty-four had come with some six dozen bottles of stout. They discussed Duffy and his friend. They suspected that many of the Campaign for Social Justice people were interested in making themselves important, and there was some fear that the resurrection or revival of the Manchester CA would detract from that possibility. I said go ahead and be damned. We would fight and win in Manchester, we would hold the alliance in the Midlands and continue to dominate London. I was much encouraged by the social and arranged to call a branch meeting on Thursday week. Harry Allen was there. He is a most interesting person, deeply versed in local history, and when I told him that neither Maire Comerford nor Seamus Doyle knew of any townland in North Wexford called Clohogue (of the forge) he said “It may not be a townland, but there is a Clohogue just outside Ferns.” From his description of it it is surely the right place.
“How to you know that?” I asked. “You’re a Laois man”.
“In 1922”, he replied, “I joined the Civic Guard and I was stationed there for six months. Many a time I entered it into the report book.”
When I got back to Liverpool I telephoned Pat Powell in Coventry. He knew nothing of any visit by Edwina Menzies. He knew a busload had gone from Birmingham to Manchester (so with 40 CA members in the Hall and 40 from the Midlands, the 200 meeting was not so great an achievement) and no doubt there were discussions. It looks as if Edwina had been to Manchester before she met me in Belfast and worked out the strategy, which was then communicated at the Houndsworth Hall. But, Pat Powell told me, the constitution of the Coventry organization (unlike that of Manchester) does not link it either to Dungannon or Belfast. He promised to find out from Bill Goulding and Sean Kenny [Connolly Association members in Birmingham] what is cooking. He thinks that Coventry are not in the plot. It may be that Manchester is the centre of some leftist scheme. People’s Democracy were brought to their meeting, but not the Connolly Association.
March 31 Tuesday: I did a little today – a few letters, and a turn in the garden, where I planted a new bed of tree onions. Otherwise I still felt very run down. A letter came from Brian Stowell saying that he is calling a Liverpool Branch meeting. So all is not lost, though bad enough.
April 1 Wednesday: Mrs Phillips came in the day. I spent some of the time revising and correcting the MS typed by Fiona. On the whole it reads well enough and I do not contemplate heavy revision. But I still have a fierce cough.
April 2 Thursday: Again I did a little on the MS. But this cold is taking a divil of a time to clear up. And of course it is not helped by the cold weather.
April 3 Friday: I went to the city and was in St John’s Market which is to close tomorrow. I notice that fish is about half the price I have to pay in Birkenhead. It occurred to me to wonder will it still be so in the new market with its large rents. The principle these corrupt municipal authorities work on is that every inch of publicly-owned ground must be made to yield the maximum return for big business and I have no doubt the bribes are substantial and perfectly “legal”.
After buying the fish I went next door to Yates’s for a couple of bottles of Austrian Riesling which is cheap there. I mentioned the market. “Yes,” said the woman who served me, “the new one opens on Monday. But wait till you see the prices. The rents they pay are enormous.” Then she started talking of the olden days. “I remember the time when my mother would cook a rabbit with cow heel – you never saw anything like that for delicious jelly. And a huge pot of marrow bones would be on the old coal fire on a Saturday night. Everybody had soup and the youngest ate the marrow out of the bones. Talk about a meal for coppers. And yet, do you know, everything had taste in it in those days!” And more in the same vein. I wish I could remember the details.
April 4 Saturday: Again I was not yet recovered. I decided a bottle of brandy would do no harm, shocking as the price is.
April 5 Sunday: The weather continued cold, dull and wet. The forsythia is out and a couple of daffodils – the crocuses and snowdrops are finished of course – but everything else hangs fire.
April 6 Monday: More still of the cold damp weather. I managed to get some onion sets and shallots in however and finish the first chapters supplied by Fiona.
April 7 Tuesday: Probably thanks to a good tot of the brandy last night, and staying in bed till 10 am. I was somewhat better. In the early evening Brian Wilkinson rang up about a possible meeting in Newport, Monmouthshire. I urged him to come to the Conference and he said he would.
Then I went to the Liverpool CA meeting. Barney Morgan was in the chair – complete with sapient remarks and general lack of policy. Brian Stowell had called the meeting and Pat MacLoughlin and an old member were there. The others consisted of about five youngsters. I learned afterwards that they were the rump of the Northern Ireland Solidarity crowd. They had shed the Trotskies. The Civil Rights had lost interest (and small blame, a pity they ever had any), and these are the “genuine elements” that Pat MacLoughlin is responsible for salvaging. Genuine they may be, but raw as field turnips. A girl of about 22 doubted whether democracy would make possible “peaceful constitutional progress”. A young man of 25 was from the wee village of Newtown Hamilton, and with him a silent youth, perhaps four or five years younger, very intense looking, very much dominated by the other, and what could he dominate with? Utter confusion. The thing that strikes you about all these young people is that they have no bearings whatever. They have picked up a smattering of vague socialist phrases. I think they are unlike their parents in wanting to fight. After social-democracy, a land of militant anarchism. And they have not read even the simplest things. But they want to. I suggested a public meeting and they said they would do it.
April 8 Wednesday: The improvement of my health was not maintained. And small wonder. There was more sleet in the evening. Despite this I did a little in the garden and Mrs Phillips was here. But I do not much feel like serious work. When one has a cold at this period it is set till summer comes. This must be one of the longest spells of cold weather for years. There seems little doubt that the climate is deteriorating rapidly. I wonder will we have a 1740? Some of their fine industrial projects would look pretty silly!
I spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone. He told me Pat Powell had made enquiries in Coventry and there was no sign of any collusion with Manchester and NICRA. All the same I am going to get those Connolly Association branches built up if possible. Sean told me that on the current issue of the United Irishman is an announcement that the NICRA are to land in Liverpool and collect our petitions as they march from place to place, and then present ours with theirs. It did not occur to them to consult us. Their arrogance is only matched by their stupidity. And of course the reason is clear. British imperialism knows exactly its object – the consolidation of a West European Super-Imperialism [ie. in the EEC]. Every road must lead thither. But the unfortunate people of Northern Ireland also have the problem of how to live under the conditions that have been created. And I increasingly suspect that very clever “counter-insurgency work” is afoot, possibly with even the CIA having a finger in the pie [ie. America’s Central Intelligence Agency]. One of these young people last night proclaimed himself the “official representative” of Civil Rights in Liverpool. Who appointed him? Somebody in the USA!
Incidentally I think at last Sean Redmond has been converted to pushing ahead with the individual signature petition and getting it in early. Charlie Cunningham tells me there has been great activity sending forms out.
April 9 Thursday: I had intended to go to Manchester early but did not do so, though in general I feel better. There was a reasonable meeting, but for some reason no sign of Michael Rabbitt. I suspect the CEU [ie. the Confederation of Engineering Unions] must be meeting. However, they decided on a public meeting. The attendance was mainly the “Clan Watters” but Patton and a friend were there, and Harry Allen and Michael Daly. I caught the midnight train to London.
April 10 Friday (London): I was in the office all day. John Mahon [of the CPGB London District] rang, and Desmond McDaid. Jack Henry came in, and Joe Rourke, who has been in Argentina. He proposes to spend the summer on coastal shipping. Apparently on a recent trip the Chief Officer was a Larne man. Suspecting this Rourke of Liverpool of Fenian tendencies, he waited till he was away ashore for a day and searched his locker and drawers. There he found the literature relating to the Irish Democrat conference of early 1969. He dismissed him at once. The entire crew walked off the ship. The Captain was in a pickle. But he backed up his Chief Officer. But without warning the same Chief Officer dropped down dead. The captain then signed the same crew on again. But some word of the proceedings reaching the owners; he lost his ship for he was transferred on to shore duties.
I was out with Jim Kelly in the evening. He is showing intellectual development. Strange – like plants people seem not to grow, then suddenly a new phase begins. He was arguing about the economic basis of events in medieval Irish history. He told me something of his early life, which explains his slight “oddities”. He was sick at the age of four and was one of sixty children experimented upon with the drug streptomycin. Fifty of them died. The effect has been slightly to destroy his sense of balance. Whether all sixty would have died but for the drug we do not of course know.
April 11 Saturday: I was in the office. Pat Hensey did not come because his brother had arrived from Dublin. Peter Mulligan was seeing off his “lady-love” to Switzerland. Sean Redmond was preparing his annual report. But Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Dorothy Deighan and Pat O’Donohue came – the last quite a bright lad in his way. But there is a slight lack of drive everywhere, for which I blame Sean Redmond and Joe Deighan who have such strong pre-occupations regarding their own possibility of excessive involvement. Sean gave Peter Mulligan the job of Membership Secretary without consulting me. I doubted he would do it. Now it appears he is not. It is too boring for him. And he makes silly excuses for not doing things like sending members cards – never thinking of the effect on the Association if they do not receive them. So he is still the same in that respect – he will only do something that brings a constant novelty. Dorothy Deighan showed me Tribune [The British leftwing Labour weekly]. They have come out decisively for the abolition of Stormont. They will try to manoeuvre us into “defending it”. I rewrote our resolutions last week raising the demand for a united Ireland. That is the only obvious reply.
At midday Tom MacDowell rang. We have the meeting in Birmingham at 3 pm. tomorrow. Bless us has the world gone mad? We are meeting at the Public House and Hotel run by the Birmingham Social Justice secretary Lynch. “How many are coming for lunch?” he asked me. “Oh, we’ll get lunch on the way.” “Well whatever you do don’t eat too much.” “Why not?” “Well, I’ve booked 20 lunches for 3.30 pm.” “But good heavens! man – that will be in the middle of the meeting.” “Well I suppose we could have a recess.” So we assemble at 3 pm. We talk and starve for 30 minutes. Then we stuff ourselves and from 4.30 to 5 we discuss (if we can stay awake) and at 5 pm. we come back to London. So the only thing to do is to make sure of the vital things, use the shortage of time to avoid discussing the non-vital, and in general dispense sweetness and light!
Add to this the United Irishman announces the arrival of a contingent from Belfast who will pick up ourpetitions and present it with their Covenant! They are busy trying to get the Social Justice branches into NICRA, and of course use them for devious purposes! Such is the confused and demoralised state of the movement there.
Columba Longmore came in and said that the Fianna in Dublin had “gone Provisional”, that is anti-Goulding. He is coming in on Monday to work for a couple of weeks on the paper. I was out with Sean Redmond in the evening.
April 12 Sunday: I went into the office early. Joe Deighan and Jane Tate came in. Then Sean Redmond arrived and after meeting Barbara Haq at Euston we went to Birmingham. She was telling us about the woes of the MCF [Movement for Colonial Freedom]. They are “in the red”. They have the Israels causing them so much trouble that after one speech at the last conference Sachs got up and asked “on a point of order” whether this was a meeting of the MCF or the CIA. The Israels had said the MCF should concentrate on liberating the “Soviet colonies”. Then the chairman Stan Newens is very likeable, but is for the Common Market from some absurd belief that it is “international”, and spends most of his time with Ken Coates (who caused all the trouble in Nottingham) and “workers’ control”[Ken Coates,1930-2010,Trotskyist academic, founder of the Institute of Workers Control]. Why did he do this, I asked. “He was reared on Trotskyism just in the period of his malleability.” He is a historian – or rather a teacher of history, about 35 years old and has a great library of books on Essex. He will not find it easy to hold his seat.
We reached Birmingham. Frank Toohy and Frank Conway were there and we all took a taxi to the Wellington. We were the first there though it was 2.30 and more. Then Tom MacDowell arrived. A phone call announced six from Manchester. There must have been another six from Birmingham, including Frank Watters the party man, Joe McNally and so on, and Pat Powell from Coventry. The central table was arranged and a Manchester man – about 25-27 years old – replaced Michael Brenan as delegate. Anne Doherty was also there and some had huge cases which presumably contained banjoes. The central table was, to be precise, three, hastily wiped free from beer and each a different size and shape. There was a vast coke fire. Indeed MacDowell had determined that Birmingham hospitality was not be forgotten and he busied round in a pleasant businesslike way.
And so we began. I always ride this on a very loose rein, making little attempt to preserve “order”. Sean Redmond, Barbara Haq and I had more or less decided what we wanted on the way up, and except for Pat Powell I doubt if anybody else had much grasp of things. They are so raw and inexperienced. We got all we wanted, the postponement of the “organisation” campaign, for which to give him his due Sean Redmond fought lately. The early date of presentation [of the petition sponsored by the joint Irish organisations].The final review meeting on 28 June, and at 3.45 we went on to lunch. Drinks were provided and everything was as it should be. At 5 pm. we resumed. The Manchester delegate revealed that he had been with Edwina Menzies in Belfast. He proposed that our petition be presented with the Belfast one only just announced. McDowell asked why we should not get credit for our work. Old McNally, who also enjoys an odd ray of sunlight, said the same. The Manchester put up a resistance but was not hard to quell. If this had come from Trotsky sources it would have been harder fought, but there was a strong odour of “People’s Democracy” and I had the impression that he had reservations about what he intended to do, as he was anxious that we should not commit ourselves. He also thought we’d never get enough speakers. Brennan was more thoughtful and quite clearly he is learning. His girl friend was excellent. Then the Manchesters said something about names. “Should we discuss it now and get the opinion of London?” asked Tom MacDowell. “No,” said Manchester. So Tom McDowell said he was very worried about our not getting our train and that he would drive us to the station. In the car he told us that Manchester were demanding the change of name from Social Justice to NICRA and that they become NICRA branches. He was against it. They had built up a reputation on the name they had got. Coventry thought the same. We said we also counselled them not to change the names while the petition was being taken up. I suggested he could get the thing deferred until July – and this would help (I thought to myself) to keep them on the early date. He thought this a good idea. So now the Social Justice meeting could begin, and it was for this that the vast contingent came from Manchester. Sean Redmond and I had worked out our general tactics on these questions last night, and it was as well!
Before we left for the station Frank Conway said that divisions had arisen in Coventry regarding “abolishing Stormont”, which the Labour “Left” have brought out as a red herring. I was mighty glad I had forced a split on it. For if we had had the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster[the Labour Party based organisation] within the committee they would be able to do much damage in Social Justice. One of the Birminghams was a little uncertain, but on the whole all was well. The trouble is that Stephenson’s IRA has come out for it [ie.the newly formed Provisionals followed the People’s Democracy in calling for the abolition of the Stormont Parliament and direct rule from London]. The line-ups are very interesting. Barbara Haq told us that the CDU element visited her and tried to revive the MCF Irish Committee. This she now sees as an attempt to get “direct rule” into the MCF. The “Provisional IRA” of course think that any sacrifice is worth getting a direct line-up of Ireland versus England. They cannot see the projected sequel of a federal union, or indeed how they could conduct the struggle from the South. And I see from their newsletter that NICRA have so drawn up their petition for a Bill of Rights that they leave two alternatives open to the British Government – just what the CDUs wanted, and one could entail direct rule though I am sure they do not realise it. So there will be another split when some of their members discover that two interpretations were possible and that somebody can attract attention to himself by exploiting a difference.
April 13 Monday: When I got to the office at 9.20 Columba Longmore was already there. He is a bright young man, perhaps twenty-three years old – one cannot tell from the vast beard with which he disguises himself. It is clear that he has not yet found an identity and this is no doubt why he is going to seek it in a six-months-long hitch-hiking wanderjahre on the continent. He thinks the CA is “respectable”, though he buys the Morning Star every morning and is strongly committed because he defends it when attacked. His sister, who is about 30, is a Maoist and a terrible rebel. He was very useful and able to tackle any job in a business-like way. He was apprenticed as a silversmith and then went into the fine art trade for the past two years. He is of course like many young people seeking what does not exist.
I worked on the paper. I had hoped to prepare my Marx House lecture but did not get the time. In the evening Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Pat Bond and Toni Curran came in. I thought Toni was getting ready to retire as she is showing signs of wilting. And I found out afterwards that she has declined nomination to the Executive Council. Jim Kelly, on the other hand, shows signs of vigorous intellectual growth. Joe Deighan, Pat O’Donohue and Pat Hensey held a branch committee in the back room. Sean Redmond told me he had had no reply to two confirmatory letters sent to John Hume. I advised him to ring him. Hume said he would not be coming. He had “intended to write”. He was going to a “Credit Union” conference at Limerick which stretched over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Sean asked could he not come to the meeting on the Friday and fly to Shannon next morning early. He promised to think it over and ring tomorrow. I told Sean he would not and we discussed alternatives, finally tracing Edwina Stewart and learning that she would raise the matter with NICRA. She cannot come herself but thinks Kevin McCorry might [ie. the new NICRA organiser]. Peter Mulligan was there, but flitting this way and that, and doing some of the membership work he had hitherto neglected. I saw John Mahon in the morning.
April 14 Tuesday: I went into the office though I had hoped for a day off for the lecture. I got Kevin McCorry on the phone. He said he would like to come to our Conference, to which by luck I had invited him already, and would telephone his executive for permission – he is a paid organiser. I thought he would do it. Needless to say, by evening there was no word from Hume. Then news came from Manchester that the Friends Meeting House is only available until 9.30 pm. I must leave that trouble (in Manchester) for tomorrow. At midday I got away and worked solidly at the lecture (Lenin and National Liberation) until, as I thought, it was 7.30. But having taken a taxi to Clarkenwell Green [site of the Marx Memorial Library, the venue of the lecture] I discovered that St Pancras Station clock was run fast so I had an hour to wait. I learned that R.Palme Dutt was there last night and 130 were present. One of them asked about Czechoslovakia. He refused to reply. “I put my opinion in the proper place and I was defeated.” Chris Sullivan, who was there, told me that his leg was swathed in bandages. He is not well.
I only attracted about 30, among them Chris Sullivan, Charlie Cunningham, Jane Tate and Vivien Morton, all of whom came to King’s Cross afterwards [ie.to the CA office] where Jim Kelly was doing the books. Vivien Morton told me that TA Jackson’s book has been sent to Germany but it will take some years before they publish it [It was published in the German Democratic Republic, East Germany, in 1971 and subsequently republished in Britain]. Columba Longmore had left a message that Kevin McCorry can come on Friday, so that was good.
I omitted to say what passed with John Mahon. He is writing Pollitt’s life story, and is being surprised at the falsity of legends encouraged by Pollitt himself [Harry Pollitt, 1890-1960, CPGB general secretary from the 1930s to the 1950s, later party chairman]. This happens with everybody who is a public figure, especially in early years when youth is seeking an identity. Thus he used to say his mother was a foundation member of the ILP, while Mahon is sure that socialism only came into the family with Pollitt’s own generation. Mahon was disgusted with the CP election figures and thought work between elections was neglected and the pretence to be an alternative national party should be dropped. He told me that Robson [? Name unclear] is out of politics and he suspects he is in a fair way to becoming a Catholic. And he was considered the equal (very near) of Bob Stewart or Jimmy Shields.
This morning it was still cold but the afternoon was milder. When the day started there was not a visible bud on one of the trees in Argyle Square. But during the afternoon buds appeared on the newest – not a plane like most of them – and began to enlarge. Even so there was no green.
April 15 Wednesday: I was in the office working on the paper all day. Columba Longmore was there. He is a great help, energetic and willing to learn. It is a pity he must go on his wanderjahre hitchhiking through the continent. But perhaps when he has done so he will chop his beard off and settle down. I learned today that Sean Redmond has not confirmed Newens, so I sent him a telegram. Fr Duffy came in and we had lunch together [Fr Clarence Duffy, an eccentric Catholic priest who was friendly to the Connolly Association]. The talk ran like this. “So after I finished with McQuaid [the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin] I said to myself the next man I must challenge is Cardinal Heenan. And indeed on the matter of Catholic doctrine I’d challenge the Pope.” He is still buoyed up with indestructible confidence and optimism. But he thinks the way to move forward is to draw up programmes of ends. Means do not worry him. Perhaps that is why he retains the optimism, though he is 71 and walks with a blackthorn. His Bishop still tells him he must not set foot in the diocese but can do what he likes outside it. And this weekend he is going to say Mass for English Catholics in Purley. “I’ll come to the conference,” he said. “But I’ll have to go back home first to leave in my Mass-kit.” I suppose this is an American expression. But he has no bigotry, not a trace. “I work with many people,” he said. “And some do it for the love of God and others for the love of their fellow men and some even for both.” And he is still full of grandiose economic schemes of improvements to his own locality of Shercock [Co. Cavan]. A delightful character, though best when you have no work to do.
Columba Longmore told me that Kevin McCorry has telephoned last night that he was coming on Friday. So there was one trouble less. I was speaking to Joe Deighan who seems to have acquired a more cooperative tendency. I asked him if he would go to Manchester some Thursday and return on a sleeping car, and to my surprise he agreed to do it. Wolf Charles’s office then rang to say the Quaker Hall we had booked for the first of May is only available till 9.30 pm. So I told him to cancel it.
April 16 Thursday: There was a strange thing. The papers from the NCCL [National Council for Civil Liberties, of whose Executive the CA’s Sean Redmond was a member] came in and it seems that the EC are opposing the Connolly Association resolution. And the remarkable thing is that it is last year’s policy. We rang Sean Redmond who said he had not attended the meeting as he was duplicating his annual report. Jane Tate was there and I remarked how typical this was. It would not matter whether we had a written report or we took down his speech on a tape-recorder. He always puts the office work first. If a revolution started he would complete card-indexing the members in arrears before going out.
I had lunch with Columba Longmore and he told me more about himself. He lived a somewhat sheltered existence in Dun Laoire and did not have a political family. His father died when he was twelve. He is the youngest of a sizeable family. His father was Protestant but turned Catholic on marrying. His mother is devout but not excessively so, some twenty-five years younger than the father was. It is a sea-faring family, mostly now living in Central London. An uncle, James Longmore, was arrested and jailed because as a seaman on the first ship sent to bomb Liberty Hall in 1916, he and another mutinied and refused to fire. But he does not know why, for he thought the family staunchly Unionist.
In the evening I went to South London. I did not recognize him at first, but a very old poorly dressed man turned out to be the Kane who was chairman of the Sutton branch of the CP in 1938 when I used to speak on Wimbledon Common. I asked about the Lovemans. He thought they had “gone to Africa”. A letter came from Brian Wilkinson. He is arranging some meetings in South Wales and I gave him some dates.
The Irish Post came out with an editorial comment on our operations. The idea of a petition was marvellous but it was being operated by a gang of amateurs. Sean Redmond observed truly, “They are all champing that we are on to a winner and they made the mistake of staying out of it.”
April 17 Friday: It has been impossible to get out a decent paper, and if Columba Longmore had not been here it would have been impossibler! I had to shove in the Connolly Association Annual Report, so it is as well Sean did it. He rang Tony Smythe [of the NCCL] who said that the objection came to the statement that extremism was growing in the Unionist Party. Some wiseacre said it was growing on the other side too. You have to “see both sides” in an organisation like that. He suggested that we withdraw it and substitute an emergency resolution on recent developments. We decided to think it over. I was inclined to fight it out and put them on the spot. The week after Paisley got in to Stormont there will be no doubt about tendencies within Unionism. They would never dare to be without a resolution and we would probably carry it. I said alternatively we would withdraw it, provided they would accept it as the emergency resolution if we deleted the offending clause. He said they would not use an emergency resolution as a means of effecting a late amendment. So we were both inclined to fight it out and summon NICRA to our support. Sean Redmond will have both Kevin McCorry and Tony Coughlan at his house on Saturday, and among other things will discuss the Birmingham and Manchester developments.
In the early afternoon Kevin McCorry [full-time organiser for NICRA in Belfast] arrived – I formed a very good impression of him, a fresh open young man in his early twenties. He spent the whole afternoon writing out his speech. Obviously he is not very experienced. I imagine a Goulding Republican. Then Pat MacLoughlin came from Liverpool and started talking. I packed him off to drink tea but he was soon back again. Then Bobby Heatley arrived with a revised hairstyle, showing he has had to compromise with “anno domini”. And then Sean Redmond who had left work early. He said Toni Curran had declined membership of the EC. Jane Tate and I had already anticipated this and discussed having Sean take over control of the finances, which is a thing he could do.
When we got to the Friends Meeting House Davoren and his rats were trying to get in, but we kept them out. They were furious. But there were no speakers. Newens had had a quarrel with his constituency party who had invited Jenny Lee to speak there without consulting him. He felt he had to be there. At 8.10 there were only Sean Redmond, Kevin McCorry and myself. But we started. Then Tony Coughlan came. He had been circling round London Airport for half an hour. And then Tom MacDowell came. It was a good meeting after all, and a great gathering of the clans. Paddy Clancy was there – getting very old. And Flann Campbell, Eamonn MacLoughlin, Des Logan, Gerry Curran, Pat Hensey, Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham, Columba Longmore, Pat Bond, Joe Deighan and many others, O’Sullivan of Clann na hEireann, several London NICRA boys (the better ones) about 120 in all, giving a collection of £42 plus about £15 on the door. Fr Duffy was there and Tadhg Egan introduced him to the Sinn Feins, who left pronouncing him a “great fellow”. And MacDowell introduced his remarks by singling him out “Reverend Fathers, Reverend Gentleman, Ladies and Gentlemen” having somewhat multiplied him for the purpose of oratory, much to Tony Coughlan’s amusement. I had a brief talk with Kevin McCorry in the Euston Tavern afterwards. An Englishman heard Fr Duffy talking. “I’m an Englishman,” he declared. “I’m glad to meet you” says Duffy “I’m glad there’s one Englishman in London.” “D’you know what ‘faugh a ballaugh’ means?” “I do,” says Fr Duffy, “It’s one of my war cries.” So they parted the best of friends.
April 18 Saturday: One leaf appeared on the tree that is not a plane tree. There is little sign of change in the others.
The Connolly Association conference took place at the Conway Hall in the afternoon. Tony Coughlan was there: Pat Bond took the chair. Jack Henry, who had accepted nomination to the EC, did not show up. So there will be little of him. I don’t know what possessed them to nominate him – wishful thinking I suppose. The thing was business-like enough if lacking inspiration.
In the evening on the other hand a most successful social event was held. A group of English youngsters with a Swedish girl played Irish music perfectly. There was a huge crowd, and I think some money was made. I arrived late as I had to finish the paper and post it off.
April 19 Sunday: The conference resumed today. It had been decided to have one main resolution which I introduced. But as Pegeen O’Flaherty said, it would be better to discuss it paragraph by paragraph. There was too much for them to take in – especially in relation to the general background. To envisage British policy with its constant effort to appear what it is not was too much for them, and discussion languished in the morning, thanks partly to the holding back of responsible people like Joe Deighan. Again Henry did not arrive. Pat Bond had called for him in his car on the way but had learned that he was out. However, the thing was passed unanimously, so that things are better. But Sean Redmond sent no report to the press. On the other hand he spoke of getting out a report. He seems to envisage acting in the background as grise eminence and emerging from the shadows when it suits his inclination.
In the evening I had a drink with Tadhg Eagan, Jim Kelly, Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate. She is now on the EC, but Toni Curran has pulled off. An interesting thing is that this time Sean Redmond did not call together the new Executive immediately after the conference to confirm the existing officers. This means of course that he wants to discuss his resignation at the Standing Committee, which however has no real legal existence. What has he in mind? I think we now approach the crucial decision when it is necessary so to speak to play P-KB4 [a move in chess] and clear the file. The initiative must be taken out of his hands and the whole thing reorganised, otherwise the campaign he first said would be a “flop” when he was fooling about with “declarations” and which he now says is a “winner”, will never get off the ground.
April 20 Monday: In the morning Columba Longmore came in again. The day was spent for the most part in clearing up. I am a little amused. Joe Deighan is sweetness and politeness itself. He is surely a good salesman; I don’t know how good a dispenser he is! [Joe Deighan worked as a pharmacist]. And the attitude has spread to Dorothy [ie. Mrs Deighan]. The reason is clear. He knows that Sean Redmond is going and if there is to be any drive it must come from me. And he wants the campaign carried forward sufficiently to make himself pleasant to anybody who might carry it, for if I did not he would have to decide whether to accept a little responsibility himself, and his failure to accept it would be shown up. So I must be flattered. But more than that, he even consented to go North for a meeting and come back by night. I wonder if the cloud of demoralization might lift off him?
April 21 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley in the morning, after spending some time in the office. We got out letters and leaflets for the Liverpool and Manchester meetings. I read the proofs and came on to Liverpool. There was not much correspondence.
April 22 Wednesday (London): I had intended to do the garden today and then make at long last the trip to the cottage. But it was wet and cold. Moreover, I became more than ever convinced that this is the time to take the initiative, try to open up the whole situation, clear off the debts and get into a position where we can see whether we should go forward in the way we have traditionally done, or in some other way. The EEC negotiations threaten to alter the whole basis of politics as we have known them.
I went to the Party rooms, now in Upper Duke Street – tumbledown, poky and unkempt, yet possessing the air of revolutionary decrepitude I found so romantic in my youth. Mrs McClelland was there. Two weeks ago Carson the secretary had announced that for personal reasons he could no longer continue and cleared off to Cornwall. She seemed a little apprehensive. Among other things she told me that the allegations that her husband Tony McClelland had “bumped” John Gibson were “all lies”. They knew he had had five breakdowns and had opposed his taking the job. That may be, but Gibson is a gentle inoffensive type, while Tony McClelland is brash and overbearing. All the same I booked the brash and overbearing one to act as chairman of our meeting.
While I was there Mrs Jack Coward came in. “I think he’s coming in today,” said one. I was a little surprised at their telling his wife of his movements. Then as they discussed those who were in today and would be in tomorrow I realized they were talking of ships. It took my mind back. I asked why they didn’t ask Jack Coward to take over Carson’s job. He retires in three months and will want work ashore. They doubted if he would to it. There are always squabbles in Liverpool. I did not ask what any of them were about.
I met Brian Stowell who was bringing the leaflets for Pat MacLoughlin to pick up. He will notify members and those we were in contact with before. I went back to 124 Mount Road, looked once more at the rain and the wind, and decided I would go back to London at once, and possibly return to Liverpool next week. Among other things I want to know how Fiona has got on. So I caught the 4.30 pm.
On the train was a 57 year old Flight Sergeant. “I ran a jail in Dusseldorf,” he said. “They came from Holland, Belgium, even Norway.” “Is it NATO?” I asked. “It is.” “Do many come from Norway?” “A few – a lot of people think we’ve no troops there but we have. Of course they’ve all nationalities.” “A bunch of tough customers no doubt,” said I making conversation. “Not a bit of it, drugs, drink, petty theft, an occasional rape.”
I arrived just before the branch meeting. Fr Duffy spoke till 9.55 – a testimony to Joe Deighan’s powers of chairmanship. Still it went down well. After it was over I found Jane Tate and Sean Redmond in dispute. The NCCL resolution being opposed thanks to his wrong decision, he must gather the myrmidons for battle. So he wants Bobby Heatley there to speak. Someone must drop out [that is, from the CA delegates to the NCCL conference]. He asked Jane Tate why not ask Noreen McKeever whom we have not seen for three weeks? That would mean writing a letter. Finally he agreed – leaving a note asking Columba Longmore to write the letter. Now I do not want Longmore used for ridiculous stand-ins for Sean Redmond, but for things that would not be done without an extra pair of hands, strategic things. Jane commented, “Sean has many good qualities but he will always try to take the line that saves him trouble.”
We went over the road. Fr Duffy drank lemonade and distributed his leaflets. He is unfortunately bitten with the bug of return to the Commonwealth, which is somewhat unreal in its present state. There were also Jim Kelly, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey and others, but as usual Sean Redmond and Joe Deighan took themselves off.
April 23 Thursday: The announcement for the Standing Committee next Monday had been got out by Sean Redmond yesterday. He wanted Columba Longmore to send them. I sent them myself as Longmore types envelopes with one finger and it took him 45 minutes to write the letter to Noreen McKeever. I got him on to things he could do quickly. And I also sent the invitations to everybody in London elected to the EC, and another telling Sean Redmond. We bought a new map. After some deliberation we divided the island into twelve areas. In the evening I prepared a written plan of campaign, calculating the number of signatures required from each area, who was getting them and how to get them, and what reorganisation of the CA was required. Now Sean Redmond’s idea is that an attempt should be made at once to appoint a new organiser even if we can’t afford it. Mine is that I stand in myself for three months and that the organiser if any is appointed then. In the three months it ought to be possible to break the bureaucratic tradition, make a success of the campaign, and not have the position Sean wants, of giving up the job but directing somebody in the office from outside. I will see whether he puts up a fight or not. It struck me to ask Columba Longmore if he would like the job when he got back. But though he is very likeable, I think he is too raw. He expresses an opinion about everything on the instant and is liable to change it for as little reason as he formed it. He is also confused on party affairs. He has a strong and attractive loyalty, but takes seriously Maoists, Trotskies and so on. He says there is a strong Maoist current in the rank and file of the party and that this influenced the insistence on the day’s debate on Czechoslovakia which the leaders could not avoid (This he did not of course express so clearly). He must therefore see more of the world. His main word is “incredible” which he over-works, attaching it to situations and statements one could usually find quite easy to believe. It struck me however that something should be done to pull the party together and I turned over in my mind writing to Gollan suggesting a major national campaign against the Common Market. That might do it.
The BBC were on to us twice today. First they wanted addresses. They are doing a programme on Irish Republicanism. And they are doing a programme on Unionism and want to expose the feudal character of the whole thing. Clearly the aim is to bring about a new settlement in connection with the EEC.
April 24 Friday: I was up at about 6.15 – the birds have started to squeak and twitter in the trees of the square. They woke me so I got up. The tree with the one leaf is a horse-chestnut. The planes show only swelling buds – surely a case of the ash before the oak. So I got a full day in. Columba Longmore arrived at about 10. He got me a list of trade union conferences from Frank Gillett[? Surname unclear in the original].
Posner rang. He had two adverts, one with greetings to Terry Bruton in Oxford Jail, another from Terry Bruton put in by somebody else. I told them the circumstances, pointing out that the case was under appeal and saying I would raise it in the Democrat, but the MS was a different kettle of fish and suggesting he consult George Matthews [Editor of the “Morning Star”] which he said he would do. This is for their May Day issue.
I duplicated a grand plan of campaign. Pat Bond telephoned. Sean Redmond was pressing for the appointment of a full-time man. He seemed half-inclined to heed him. My guess is that he will fall in with my scheme. It is not that I will not accept amendment to it. I have postulated three positions Sean Redmond could hold. But I do not want and will not have somebody in the office who is directed by Sean in his spare time, the two of them sitting pretty while I have the financial responsibility of keeping a roof over their heads, and Toni Curran hardly bothering about it. I must have administrative control of the lot, or somebody else must have it and I will cooperate with him or her. I calculate I have financed the whole thing more even than Pat Bond himself, despite his big donations. But it has not been my wish but my tolerance. Sean Redmond never missed a week’s pay. I did often, in the early days. And seldom would he add that extra push that turns success into decisive victory. There are other things too, the recasting of the organisation on a more vigorous basis. However, we will see.
Jack Henry rang and Egelnick was on the phone. They want to go ahead with a CP meeting on Ireland and the building workers. It had been my suggestion to Jane Tate some months ago. They are prepared to do it and I think if we could link the political and economic features of the Irish question in their minds it would be useful.
Sean O’Dowling’s cousin Michael Brennan came in. He is looking heavy and old. He thought the party was not doing enough about the EEC because inhibited by its Czech policy. I would not be sure. There is a queer current of opinion about. Columba Longmore was criticising Gollan, and I had to assure him from my personal knowledge that his criticisms had no basis whatsoever in fact. At the same time I noticed a new phenomenon. Youngsters who were led away by Trotskyism are moving across to us. It is failing to stamp itself indelibly.
Then Jack Henry came in. He is convinced that some addresses he gave Hugh Cassidy to send to me were never sent. But I don’t think it necessary to suspect Cassidy of holding them back. Why would he? “Ah – he’s a very funny fellow.” I tackled Jack Henry about not attending the Conference. He told me he had a sudden unexpected meeting of the London District CP. Then he added, “By jay! I haven’t told the party about going on the Executive Council” [ie. of the Connolly Association]. So we may hear complaints about this. But other things being equal, what is done is agreed to, what is proposed is opposed.
Later Sean Redmond came, in fussing over details. Then Maire Martin rang saying that London NICRA and the UIA [ie. the United Irish Association, a relic of the 1940s Anti-Partition League, with Irish Embassy connections] wanted to come in on the petition campaign. A few minutes later Sean rang. She had been on to him. She seemed very delighted. The NICRA had carried it 9/4 and MacDermott had bitterly opposed it. I told him I did not trust her. Her remark about us to Austin Currie was that we were “politically astute”, not pursuing the right policy. People judge others by themselves. Sean replied that he had been told by Dignan that she would do anything Brendan McGill said. Now NICRA in London is virtually admitted to have been started as part of the war against Goulding, though we did not know it at the time. For all his fussy conceit Sean Redmond is sound on important things and we decided to think things over. I thought of quite a few possible alternatives when I was out with Chris Sullivan later. The best seems to be to accept them at London level. But even in this care is necessary. As for the UIA they are Fianna Fail touts. Chris Sullivan had not realised we intended to close the campaign in June. This is doubtless a widespread reason for lack of a feeling of urgency. It was agreed in Birmingham not to publicise the closing date – the Manchester delegates wanted to hold on in hopes of synchronising the presentation with the Six-County one. But that means we cannot tell our own people! It was very useful that I found how Chris was thinking. I think we could say that we must hurry to forestall a possible June election. Then there is going to be the problem of actually getting Social Justice in Manchester to part up with their sheets! [ie. their signed petition sheets]
April 25 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning. A young fellow named Pat MacCarthy who had joined on Wednesday came in, and asked was there anything to do. So I got him making posters in which he seemed to know exactly what to do. This was surprising as he was very country-looking though from Cork City, and we wondered if he had been in Sinn Fein. Then Jane Tate, Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham, Dorothy Deighan and Chris Sullivan came, and Jim Kelly phoned and they held a poster parade in the rain at Kilburn High Road. It is wet and cold still and the higher trees are as bare as in March. Of course if Boyd’s theory of rainfall cycles had anything in it apart from one good summer, we should have some of the worst weather of the century between now and 1977.
As the day wore on I grew steadily less inclined to accept UIA and NICRA of London. Of course their leaders may sabotage the application. Our Committee does not meet till the end of June. We have kept secret the intention to present the thing in July. We have so often had these organisations call conferences (which come to nothing) without consulting us, that I would be tempted merely to tell them we are meeting next month (in June) and then when we meet decide (and tell them) the political situation compelled us to present it at once in view of a General Election. I think Sean Redmond is of the opinion that we need their help. But we do not need their constant bickering and intrigue.
In the evening I was out with Charlie Cunningham. Joe Deighan was in the office, morose, very different from his formerly ingratiating self. I think he was worried about help for Hyde Park for tomorrow. Having allowed Fr Duffy to speak from 8.20 to 9.55 without till then exercising his right and performing his duty as chairman to call him to order, he had no arrangements made on Wednesday. So as I went out he asked would I help him. I told him I had a full day’s work on the campaign, and that was literally true. What about Pat Hensey? “He didn’t show much enthusiasm, did he?” And no wonder when the item was pushed through so that he could get home to his steak and chianti. So I thought I had best ring around and find somebody. As he left he was praying for rain, a prayer with every likelihood of being answered. But when I got back – though before leaving I had asked had he all his keys and he had not deigned to answer – I found he had swapped the Yale lock, locking me outside, presumably because he had forgotten the key. You could – if you allowed it to bother you – tear your hair at the amateurish childishness.
Now when I reached Notting Hill last night where I parted from Charlie Cunningham there was a young lad selling the Trotskyist daily paper – I forget its name – and talking with him was that MacCarthy. but I think it was a casual thing; they were not connected.
Another curious thing. This morning as I went into the office the telephone was ringing. It was Sean Redmond on the line.
“Are you in the office? – Oh, of course you must be.” Strange from the usually collected Sean. He went on: “The police rang me and told me our office had been burgled and they have some of our property at Holborn police station.” I could see no sign of burglary.
“What have they got?”
“They mentioned typewriters. Are the typewriters there?”
“They are – and a few shillings I left on the desk late last night.” So I walked the building. There was no sign of interference. At that moment a plainclothes policeman walked in. He was polite but unfriendly, probably because we had not gone down, for we were discussing some typical police trickery, possibly to find out Columba’s identity, or whatever they were at instead of catching criminals.
“Well,” he enquiried, “what are you going to do about this break-in?”
“There’s no break-in.” I was a little irritated at his manner.
“Do you know a man called Vermagen?” (or some such name). I said I had had letters wrongly addressed to him, and believed he was next door. So we went next door, and at that moment a tall young man with a suitcase appeared plus a woman from one of the local shops. They also were in a bad mood, petit- bourgois rancidity dripping out of every pore. The woman said she had seen a man in his late twenties running over the roof with a six-inch knife in his hand.
“Did you see his coat?”
“It was a short one.”
“Did you see his shoes?”
“Did you see his trousers?”
“At what time was this?” I asked. “At a quarter to six”, she replied.
“Well,” said the plain-clothes man to me in triumph, as if the Metropolitan Police had received formal justification. “So there must have been a break-in.”
So here was a policeman, accepting as evidence of burglary having taken place a man seen running across a roof when it was scarcely light by a woman who might have been dreaming, and yet having in his possession actual articles which had come from he knew not where! The articles had been got – yet the man they were taken from was unknown! And still evidence of burglary was required.
Discussing it later with Charlie Cunningham I mentioned the contradictions in the police story. He suggested that perhaps Des Hensey was in trouble and had said things in his possession had come from the Connolly Association. The burglary story was the way of trying to trap him and prevent our helping him, as they would not be aware that he was expelled.
April 26 Sunday: I was in the office soon after 9 am. and started on an appeal for funds to keep the paper going while we run the big campaign. At about 11 am. Pat Powell telephoned to say that Manchester Social Justice had decided to change the name so as to include Civil Rights, that Coventry and Birmingham had resisted it, but without effect. The wee girl Anne Doherty had told Powell that Brennan was an “International Socialist”. So this explains his possession of Farrell’s absurd pamphlet, the University-looking scarf and generally odd behaviour. But he has powers of dissemblement not possessed by ordinary Trotskies, and I noticed his boys at the CA social had a hawk-like quality – “Look,” said one of them, “These are some young people that we do not know.”
Throughout the day the conviction strengthened in me that we must try to prevent the two streams of disruption, right in London, leftist in Manchester, making common cause.
When I say I was in the office at 9, I was outside it well before. Joe Deighan and Jane Tate had shut the yale so that I had to telephone and Dorothy Deighan came. I spoke to Joe on the phone. Having allowed Fr Duffy to talk all night, he had not properly arranged Hyde Park.
“You’re telling me I’ve buggered everything up. It’s my fault.”
“Well, you can take it that way if you want. But tell me what am I to do. Am I to find you a chairman or not?”
“Leave it! Let the whole thing go to hell. That’s how I feel.”
So I decided to leave it at that.
At about 2 pm. in walks Joe Deighan smiling and beaming. “You seem in a good mood now,” said I, “not like you were this morning.”
“Well it was bad enough to have you on to me. After that I had a row with Dorothy for being rude to you. And I wasn’t rude to you. You were rude to me.”
“I thought I only ventured to state facts.”
But then facts are rude things. What had happened was that he had telephoned Bobby Rossiter who came in behind him. And off they went, and on poured cold rain one more day, though the buds on the planes are now swelling. It is late April and the temperature in the middle forties. When they came back I told Joe about Brennan. “I never liked him,” he said. I had coffee with Bobby Rossiter and he told me the building trade is suffering its worst slump for many years. Of course he is no longer in it. Also his wife, who recently had an operation for a cleft palate, still has difficulties with it. Later Charlie Cunningham came and we went out to Holloway. The cold drizzle continued. Everybody we met was fed up and miserable. “If it goes on much longer the Government will get the blame for it,” says Charlie.
In general my plan seems to be working. Michael Crowe rang saying he had appointed Tunney the man for Sunderland, and Sean Healy’s son was taking petitions to Carlisle. I wrote to Columba Longmore asking if he would consider postponing his departure, and to Pat Regan a retired POU [Post Office Union] branch secretary asking if he had any time on his hands during the next few weeks.
April 27 Monday: I was in the office at about 8 am. I prepared the appeal for funds, which Columba Longmore ran off when he arrived at 10. He was hesitant about spending a further two weeks here as he is not sure of his finances. This I can of course understand. He went to Bill Dunne and got a number of names and addresses, but I have a feeling many of them are out of date. Later Chris Sullivan came in and did some clerical work. He had an afternoon appointment with a dentist. He has been working now for some time and is a new man.
At about 7 pm. Sean Redmond came in. He showed signs of nervousness and called me by my Christian name several times in succession. Of course I showed no sign of observing it. But I knew he was expecting a disappointment. And I was determined he was going to get it but no more than was necessary. I asked myself what was he afraid of? The thing a vain person fears most is injury to his vanity. But of course the things he prides himself on are not necessarily all unworthy. There was a good attendance at the meeting. Sean’s nervousness did not prevent one or two minor displays of bad manners. An example – I was reading the appeal and Jim Kelly was standing by. Sean put out his hand to take it from me as is typical without a word of request. I coolly handed it to Jim Kelly. I think the gesture was not lost. Those present were Pat Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Jack Henry, Jim Kelly, Jane Tate, Toni Curran (who is not on the EC) Joe Deighan, Pat White, Pat O’Donohue, and Bobby Rossiter could not attend. Sean read the minutes of the previous EC. He moved for election of officers. I suggested deferring this till after the report – this happened before the meeting, and he drew up the agenda on the basis I suggested. I also got the finance in before the report. It revealed that the CA owed £350, which was being cleared at about £20 a week. The Irish Democrat owed about £700. The appointment of a full-time worker at such a time was obvious folly.
Then came the report. It was not discussed properly, though detailed points were made. There was no opposition. So then came the question of interpreting my offer to “stand in”. It meant to my mind Sean Redmond’s going out of the key position. And he was in no mind to vacate it. There was some argument about Presidency and it was clear that Pat Bond liked the job. Charlie suggested Sean – it was like “kicking him upstairs”, he said. It was clear that Sean was very unhappy. It was understandable. This office, this paraphernalia of files and indexes (inextricably interconfused so that only he can find anything) had been the physical extension of his personality over eight years. Having for months past emphasised that he wanted to retire from the position of General Secretary, still he didn’t want to leave it. In the end he was drawn to saying against my offer that he was prepared to continue to act in that capacity. After all, he said, and in all his reports he was at pains to conceal the work I had been doing, all had been well these past two weeks because Columba had been in the office. I objected to that and told them the hours I had spent there. He said he “didn’t know”. His face was grey with chagrin when they decided he should not continue. But even then there was a rearguard action. I was sorry for him. But I was determined not to let sympathy affect action. I have put up with too much, and was determined not to find myself doing hiswork in his name and creating a pretence that he was doing what he could not possibly do. I had it with Eamon MacLoughlin and Eamon Lyons[Connolly Association General Secretaries in the 1950s]. So then the question of my status arose. “I suppose I will still continue nominally as General Secretary,” said Sean. I said I would be “Acting General Secretary pro tem.” Then I asked if he would do the Trafalgar Square rally, and he jumped at it. Charlie Cunningham was pressing for frequent ECs [Executive Committee meetings].
In the pub afterwards Jim Kelly, Jane Tate and Toni Curran came. The meeting dragged on till 10.30 and we had a few minutes only. We discussed Sean’s unfortunate marriage, the result of which Jane Tate (who did the matchmaking) agreed I had warned her of. And I also told Jane of Susan’s alleged antagonism to herself. Now what the results will be it is hard to say. I have an immense task, and it was typical of sublunary affairs that nobody thanked me for taking it on, while Sean was showered with bouquets and appreciations to speed him on his way. So the problem is how to make a success of it. I may have invited running criticism from Sean. Also I may have antagonized Pat Hensey by not proposing him for the EC, and Charlie Cunningham for not agreeing upon more frequent EC meetings. However, it is only a matter of three months. If I can get the finances on their feet I can answer the critics or if necessary effect my own escape. But I have to have control to try to do it. It was most revealing, incidentally, that Sean Redmond referred in terms of satisfaction to the re-establishment of the Manchester branch, but totally suppressed the fact that he had had no hand in it worth mentioning.
April 28 Tuesday: I spent the morning in the office, and Columba Longmore was there. The afternoon I spent at Fiona’s where we read the Introduction. I left some corrected chapters and took away some others. I had intended to get away to Liverpool, but there was too much to do. The preparatory work of the campaign involves creating a new form of organisation and, more difficult still, establishing the consciousness of it. The man who seems to have grasped it best is Pat Bond. In the evening Jim Kelly came in and worked on the books.
April 29 Wednesday (Liverpool): I was in the office in the morning and Columba came in. He is certainly a good cheerful worker, free from the self-conscious moodiness of Sean Redmond to whom every shade of conversation is a personal reflection. Toni Curran also came in, to my surprise, thus proving for the time being her word that she would come in to the office provided Sean Redmond was not in charge of it. I was thinking back over Sean’s period and wondering if it would have been better if he had been handled differently. The basic error, I always thought, was to give him the supreme control of the Connolly Association when he was not really capable of exercising it. He then developed it along the lines his limited ability was capable of and began to resent my more imaginative suggestions. But while he identified the job with himself, and later began to relax his strict 9 to 5.30 rule, there was no doubt of his genuine interest and political loyalty. From the early days I knew the arrangement was bad. He must be an executive, not an administrator. Thus he was dependent on me for all major decisions, but objected to advice on how to carry them out. Anyway, I wrote him a note suggesting that he might, in view of the fact that he was doing the Trafalgar Square thing, consider building up a “propaganda and publicity” department.
Then I came to Liverpool after leaving notes for Joe Deighan, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey and Peter Mulligan. I think it is necessary to advise the branches constantly and not just leave them to their own devices, as has been done in the past. At Mount Road I found a letter from Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam in Dublin].
April 30 Thursday: Still raining and cold. So there was no work in the garden. And anyway my seed order has not been delivered. I corrected some more chapters of typescript and spoke to Columba Longmore on the phone. He will send me some of the letters that have come in to deal with here.
In the evening I went to the Royal Institution where a meeting was arranged. I found Brian Stowell, Pat MacLoughlin and Mr HH Jones outside the huge Leclare theatre and nobody inside. Apparently the room we had booked had been handed to an extra-mural class and we were being given the auditorium at the price of the small room. Later Tony McClelland came. His wife incidentally told me a few days ago that it was “all lies” that Tony had “bumped” John Gibson and that Gibson had had several nervous breakdowns before the one on the job. I imagine that Gibson was not, so to speak, well armed enough to defend himself from McClelland’s somewhat forceful personality, and possibly McClelland without intending it took advantage of it and then began to despise Gibson, which was unfair.
We were shortly moved back into the room we had booked, and others came. Two girls from the teachers’ training college, vastly different from the doctrinaire English socialists who came to the last event – and it turned out they were children of Irish parents. J.Roose Williams came and gave me the Welsh translation of the petition. A young man called Foley, an AEU man, also came, Barney Morgan (late) and in the end there were 14 present. It was about the most hopeful meeting yet in Liverpool – mainly because of the good chairman. Now I intend if I can to prevent Barney Morgan ever sitting in the chair again. He can remain treasurer. He spreads cynicism, defeatism and confusion, though well intentioned in himself. I thought of trying to rope McClelland in and persuading him to be chairman. For he made a useful point. Paisley had been displaying the Liverpool Orangemens’ banner and claiming to have the support of the proletariat of Liverpool. Tony McClelland said he would answer this claim in his speech at the May Day demonstration tomorrow. In Liverpool the demonstration is marked by a one-day strike. Brian Stowell incidentally seems to have recovered some of his spirits, and the meeting tonight will help.
Roose Williams told me that he is leaving Liverpool this summer and returning to Bangor to work on the history of the quarry men. He has no reason to remain here now that his brother Glyn is dead. He must be close on 65 years old now, though extraordinarily well-preserved. He talks of “leaving something behind me”. He is of the opinion that the young Welsh people may yet save the nation. I asked him about reactions to the political prisoners. He told me the Welsh people could not care less about them, and that though Gwynfor Evans [Leader of Plaid Cymru] was an excellent man, he was terrified. He thought it might be possible to retain Gwynfor’s seat and with great luck to add two more. There was no landslide coming. The despicable rat at the Welsh Office was doing his damndest, and so were the nibbling mice of Transport House [ie. The Labour Party Headquarters]. Part of this was the attack on SO Davies whom Roose Williams stays with when he is in Merthyr. He promised to try and get the petition among the students at Bangor. Brian Stowell told me he had been at the (non-political) Celtic Congress at Douglas, and his eldest boy (8) wants to learn Irish. I was telling Roose that what was wanted was a good single-volume Marxist history of Wales. “You would need to be a scholar to write that.” “Perhaps if you started writing it you might make yourself into a scholar in the process.” Doherty was there [Liverpool CA member Pat Doherty]. He turned to me laughing. “I didn’t know you were a Maoist.” He is a bit that way himself.
May 1 Friday (Manchester): In the morning I went to Pier Head to the May Day demonstration. There were about 2,000 there, of which about 700 were students. I saw Pat MacLoughlin and Doherty and Mrs Stowell, also Joe Rourke who was carrying the Seamen’s banner. The organisation was less sophisticated than that of a similar event in London, and the loudspeakers broke down while Tony McClelland was taking the collection. The Irish question was not mentioned, so he was not as good as his promise. When Camell Laird’s management was criticised for the threatened bankruptcy, or Apartheid or the Vietnam war were attacked, there were loud cheers. Likewise for student militancy. But the references to the EEC aroused no feeling. The most important issue had not impinged.
There was a student who spoke forcefully – he was added to the platform at the end – but his demands were institutional, no less than the “sweeping away of the handful of men” who were ruling the university “in the interest of the few”. As for the students themselves, while there were many fine youngsters among them, there were deliberate oddities, boys with patched jeans as if to make a parade of “student poverty”, others whose jeans had been variegated with multi-coloured frills and inserts, some in coloured leather jackets – bedecked with fringes and all but tassels, and the various “images” they had of themselves were duly illustrated by the length of hair or degree of exposure of the chest. One girl had black and grey hair to the waist, and wore white tight jeans and a jacket under a long expensive tweed coat. The Liverpool University Socialist Society was there. I was a little amused to reflect that after it had gone out of existence I founded it in 1935 [See Vol. 2] – and there it is parading today. Ian Williams was there, big and beardy. He is one of the students sent down for two years for his part in the recent “sit-ins”. It would seem that the instability is still as evident, but the timidity is less.
In the evening I went to Manchester. The meeting was good – about 20-25 there, but including three characters who were drunk and kept interrupting. Still there were some enquiries for membership, and both Michael Rabbitt and Belle Lalor ordered extra papers. I went to stay the night with Alice Beirne. They are very keen on getting Joe Deighan there. After the meeting Sean Redmond’s sister, “the gypsy”, arrived with her husband. She said Sean was under pressure from Susan to do less in the CA, but he did not want to retire now so much was happening.
May 2 Saturday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool on an early train. At Rock Ferry who should I meet but Geoffrey Bloor[a friend and political colleague of CDG’s from his young manhood, see Vols.2-4]. He told me that his brother Kenneth who had hoped to become Professor of Medicine at Manchester had failed to secure the post, Bloor suspects from a knowledge that he is addicted to the bottle. “He is a strong-minded lad,” said Geoffrey, and “not even his wife can get him off the drink.” Geoffrey had a hat that made him look like a country squire.
At midday I rang London. Sean Redmond was in the office, a little cool I thought, but I said to myself “fortiter in re” has gone, now it is “suaviter in modo”[strong in substance, soothing in implementation]. Joe Deighan agreed to come to Manchester. Today it was a little warmer, but it was cool enough by evening. It has still not reached 60’F, but it is fairly bright.
May 3 Sunday (Salop): It looks as if at last spring has come. The day was fine and mild, with a wind from the SSE. I decided to seize the opportunity and went to Shrewsbury by train and cycled to the cottage by the east side of the Stiperstones. The only snag was that I choose the route the motoring elements prefer. They have their rubbish strewn over the grass, their radios screeching, and their corpulences slumped in their seats. The cottage was dryer than last year, which was good.
May 4 Monday: It was another fine warm day. I went down to the Stiperstones for lunch. The butcher at Minsterley has shut up shop. I called on the Corbetts. The new landowners are in Shrewsbury and are builders by trade. Their policy for the estate has not been disclosed. But the two houses at the Bog crossroads are now vacant. The two boys who used to play football outside the old Miners’ clubroom have gone. Two other families have left the estate. A mile south are the Llewelyns. One boy goes to school at Bishop’s Castle. A bus takes the girl to the Stiperstones Hotel. There is one cottage on the main road by the Bog – old people named Davies. But apparently Fletcher is putting the houses he has into repair. He is advertising for workmen and it is thought his aim is forestry, but nobody is certain. As for Pugh’s and the other houses they have all been burgled by motorists who have stripped out all the electrical wire and any other fittings of value. It will be impossible to let those houses again without great expenditure. The strange thing is that hints were dropped to Pugh to return. He would not. And so now nobody has the grazing, and the fences are falling down and some local man has put his sheep in the fields by the cottage.
May 5 Tuesday (Liverpool): I brought some manure and mixed it with soil from mole-hills and made another bed where I planted spring onions, Cos lettuce and curly kale. Then I cycled back to Shrewsbury and was at 124 Mount Road by 4.30.
May 6 Wednesday: I spent the day on the garden – but only managed to clean up one border! At 6.30 Pat Powell rang up full of the crisis in Dublin, of which I knew nothing as I had only heard the statement on the radio[ie. the report of the sacking of Irish Government Ministers Haughey and Blaney by Taoiseach Jack Lynch, leading to the subsequent trial of the former for alleged illegal importation of arms for use by the Catholic “Defence Committees” in Northern Ireland]. I rang London and spoke to a very friendly Peter Mulligan and later a distinctly chilly Sean Redmond. Still, he is doing something, and I felt a little satisfied. If I had done as I did with Eamon MacLoughlin and others, I would have done the work while they had the credit for it, and every time I wanted them to do something I had to beg them. Now that I would be happy to see his Lordship out of the way, he cannot tear himself from it! Later Pat Powell rang again!
May 7 Thursday: I went to Manchester. At Hamilton Square there was a notice saying that there was a strike affecting trains to Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria. However, I went on and caught the 10.30 which ran 20 minutes late. The ticket collector was explaining to irate lady passengers, “You can’t blame them. If your husband was getting low wages and nothing was done about it you’d be at him, ‘Why don’t you strike for more money?’” And moreover he appeased them.
I called in to Wolf Charles’s office. He was out but Jean telephoned and got me the Thatched House for the Deighan meeting. Then I went to the university where young Pat Devine joined me. We had lunch. There was a character called Roger he introduced me to, a lecturer in Sociology or some such concocted discipline, who is prospective Labour candidate for Farnworth, a safe seat. We had a long talk. He took enough petition forms for 500 signatures and promised to do his best. Unfortunately, the students have one of their own affecting the University Charter. He told me of heads of department who under student pressure allow a joint committee to take all decisions. These decisions should really be confirmed by a higher body, but they are not referred to it out of fear of the Committee. I asked why they did not refer it and secure the over-ruling of whatever they didn’t want. “Oh – they’re not subtle enough for that.” So they must be mugs indeed. I then called to Hathersage Road [Manchester CPGB office]. Askins was there, pleasant enough but full of himself. He said Syd Abbott was much better. He praised Abbott and said what a good friend he had been to the Irish movement. He was indeed the only District Secretary who ever kept his word of his own initiative where the Irish were concerned. No other ever thought of keeping a promise once I was out of the room. He promised me that the next capable Irishman to come into the district would be put in touch with me with a view to organising the Connolly Association. A few months later he wrote to me about Joe Deighan. But then came the differences with Wolf Charles and Gadeen. “Who have you got on your side?” snarled Wolf, “Only Askins – a whoremaster.” So these are the volcano stumps of past quarrels, no smoke from them now, and the futility of all the fire apparent to everybody. Except that poor Abbott is a permanent invalid through his own foolish misuse of drugs. He used to ohol to blind him to the difficulties of his work, and then benzedrine to enable him to do it.
I returned to Liverpool.
May 8 Friday (London): I cycled to Hooton, then took the train to Chester and Euston. I wanted to bring the spare bicycle to London. When I arrived Columba Longmore and Charlie Cunningham were in the office. Charlie works at Rolls Royce. They held a “go-slow” over wage rates and the company then locked them out. He had as yet no dispute pay and is working an odd shift at night in some concern so as to keep going. Columba is coming in a few hours each day. I heard he was waiting for his passport. He has the office very neat and clean. In the evening I was in Holloway with Jane Tate.
May 9 Saturday: In the morning I was in the office early. Pat Bond came in. He hopes to make £100 on a concert. Hope is the word. Later Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly and Pat O’Donohue came in. Jim told me we had raised £41 for the paper. Charlie Cunningham had sent Pat Hensey a letter protesting at the incompetant management of the branch. But he will not be on the committee himself. Of course he is as bad as Pat Hensey – neither of them has the faintest conception of organisation. Peter Mulligan was not in. An American girl he was youth-hostelling with at Easter has decided to plant herself on him till August, and he is displeased as he cannot go round philandering with others. In the evening I was in Camden town with Sean Redmond. He told Kearney whom we met that his new job is not as interesting as his old.
May 10 Sunday: I went into the office early. Amazing, it is four years since Phyllis died and this is the first year I could say I have completely recovered from the blow and can take any interest in people, I may say not always an admiring interest. I got off 24 letters including one to Roy Johnston asking if Mairin de Burca [a leading light in the Cathal Goulding-led “Official” Sinn Fein] was really speaking at this rat meeting next Friday with Bernadette Devlin, Paul Foot (the man so “revolutionary” that he is allowed to write in the New Statesman), and some of the Lawless crowd. “Gery” Lawless is organising it.
After lunch Pat Hensey came and soon afterwards Charlie Cunningham with whom I went to Hyde Park. The “Sinn Fein” (breakaway) gathered about 30 people and marched to Trafalgar Square. It was surely an almighty flop. McGill was in it. I was told by Pat Bond by the way how the South London NICRA worked. The room was booked in the name of NICRA and the meeting was the meeting of the IRA – as the preparations were made for the split. I noticed Pat Hartigan and old “Mary” selling An Phoblacht [The Provisional Republican paper].
We waited till they had gone to start our meeting. Pat Hensey opened and I followed. There was much heckling from Kearns. But I got reading and proposing a resolution. Some of Davoren’s supporters were there, one a short-haired red-headed youth. After I got down the first time and Sean Redmond got up to face as fair a cross-section of lunatics and yahoos as Hyde Park affords, I watched his face. I thought it was incipient schizophrenia. Later we got Kearns calmed down.
“Why are you not in Trafalgar Square where they are commemorating Connolly?”
“I will answer that question when you tell me why you are not.”
He was surprisingly docile.
“I will then. This split has me confused.”
“Well, then” said I (it was near the end of the meeting) “I’ll give my reasons in return. First we were not invited and had our own meeting arranged before we knew of their march. And second we don’t want to take sides when there is a split.”
He seemed reasonable happy. He is simply a huge bag of ill-coordinated political emotion. Then the Davorens grew restive and informed me that Davoren was challenging me to a “political confrontation” on Connolly. We told them he could challenge away.
At the park were Jane Tate, Chris Sullivan, Michael Keane and Jim Kelly.
I was out at Hammersmith with Pat O’Donohue in the evening – an excellent young man from Co. Mayo, playful at times but fundamentally sensible. Indeed his playfulness was of the type of Cathal’s. When we finished we went for a drink. I was buying one when an Irishman insisted on buying it for me. He had been at the Friends Meeting House meeting.
“There you are,” he said. “They’ve fallen for it again. It was engineered over here and they were invited to split their front, and they obliged.”
May 11 Monday: I was in the office before 9 am. and Columba Longmore came about 11. He had been delayed in getting his passport and has kept his room till the end of May. So he will be able to help the CA (to a less degree than heretofore) until the end of the month. Jack Woddis telephoned and invited me to call to him. “The whole political structure of Ireland is dissolving,” he said. I advised him to have caution in accepting all the dire apocalypsis of the imperialist press – but agreed that changes were imminent. Why he should think the supposed ruin of the South should provide better opportunities than that long crisis in the North is hard to say. I remarked that events simply proved the truth of what “we” had being saying for years. He agreed – a little doubtfully I thought. I think he forms mental pictures or schemes of situations and perhaps he had done so now. However, he is sensible enough and we shall see. Central Books reduced their order by 20% – at this time! [ie. the order for the “Irish Democrat” from the CPGB book wholesaler]
The Standing Committee met in the evening, with Sean Redmond, Jane Tate, Toni Curran, Jim Kelly and myself. Two members of Central London committee came because Pat Hensey had forgotten to notify them of the changed date. Hensey is a good forceful outdoor speaker but couldn’t organize the boiling of an egg by himself. Pat Bond was unable to come and Joe Deighan is on holidays in Ireland. We gathered together £120 to pay for Connolly badges, which we are selling very well.
The horse-chestnut opposite my window is now in full leaf – but there is hardly a flower on it. A fortnight ago I wondered what the birds were doing in the snow. They were gobbling up the succulent flower buds. The planes are in seed and there are small leaves at last.
May 12 Tuesday: I was in the office soon after 8 am. but Columba Longmore did not arrive till midday. All the same I got out a statement on the crisis in Dublin and he got it round the papers in the afternoon. Still the letting of the upstairs office is held up. The landlord’s solicitor says he will telephone “Yes” or “No” tomorrow. Seifert says he thinks there is no political motive in it, but it is very surprising. Independent Television rang. I told them I could not see them but Columba Longmore would on Friday. These fellows are paid big money for picking our brains and have neither gratitude nor conscience. I rang Betty Sinclair. She can not manage the meeting in Hammersmith as she is going to East Germany for a month.
In the evening the Central London branch committee met – without Joe Deighan who is on holiday and without Sean Redmond. It was woeful to see Pat Hensey without the faintest notion of organisation huffing and bumbling while I had to tell them what to do and as often as not undertake to do it myself. He arrived without an agenda and without the simulacrum of a plan. Pegeen O’Flaherty was there, Jim Kelly, Pat O’Donohue and later Gerry Curran brought the book page. He had hired a house for two weeks in Criccieth (which he called Crissieth)[In Gwynedd, North Wales, close to Snowdonia] and I indicated disapproval of his engaging in anglicising activities, much to his indignation. But there is the pattern and, as we said, people fit into it.
May 13 Wednesday: Again I was in the office very early. In the evening the branch meeting took place, and it was reasonably attended. I based my remarks on the four-page statement I got out yesterday. Sean Redmond, Jim Kelly, Pat Hensey, Pegeen O’Flaherty and others were there.
May 14 Thursday (Liverpool): I had intended to go straight to Liverpool but called into the office soon after 7 am. and waited for the morning post. I found a letter from Donald McLean, the Glasgow Secretary[of the CPGB], saying that he had booked a hall for the Sunday I asked him and was in touch with Charlie Byrne. The letter failed in certain particulars so that I rang Byrne. He told me that McLean had been in a psychiatrical hospital for some while and this accounted for the invitation in Glasgow.
“Do you know who he is?” asked Charlie Byrne.
“I do not.”
“He’s the grandson of John MacLean, the member for Govan.”[John MacLean,1879-1923,Scottish socialist and supporter of Scottish independence, collaborator with James Connolly]
They apparently think I would want to see him at once, and the letter speaks of “acting as secretary” to me while I am there. So to keep some time free I said I must go first to Edinburgh. And I will not hurry to make contact, as I have important people to see. Charlie Byrne is seemingly interested most in the rehabilitation of this young fellow, and of course if possible it will be good. But of course in these “last days of Pompeii” we cannot repose expectations on a lame duck. We must get something more durable afloat while not neglecting the invalid. As a result of this news I had to get circulars out to everybody we know in Scotland, and I did not leave London until 6.30 pm. However the extra day was well enough spent. I had had a squad addressing envelopes last night, and was able to get some of them off.
May 15 Friday: I had intended to spend the whole day in the garden but knocked the wee transistor radio over and put it out of action. It was the one Phyllis had in hospital. So I went into Birkenhead and bought a main transistor set which cost only £11 and seems satisfactory. I cleared two beds at the back. The purple lilac is out at the back of the house, and the white just opening. But a message came from Mrs Phillips that she was not well at all, so there is no cleaning of the house.
May 16 Saturday (Salop): After some preliminaries had been done I went to Shrewsbury and cycled up to the cottage. I noticed to my intense dissatisfaction after the dereliction the appearance of the maggots. Caravans are now springing up on the disused mine site at Pennerley, not a mile from the Bog. Apparently there are about seven empty houses now. I did not see the Corbetts who were out.
May 17 Sunday: I was busy all morning, bringing cowdung by the bucket from an old shed, and mixing it with the loose soil from mole-hills, finally sowing kale, lettuce, scallions and fennel, together with a few cloves of garlic. I hope everything is not gobbled by the huge black snails that are everywhere. I also brought back four plastic bags full of manure, and a rare weight it was to handle. As I was leaving at about 2.45 the boy from Llewelyns went past. I suppose his nearest playmates are at the Stiperstones Hotel. He goes to school in Bishop’s Castle, so that the drain on that side will presumably be to the west. There were German youths on the trains, some quietly arrogant, some noisily arrogant. A man came on board at Gobowen, said his name was Davies, and disclosed that his son had been playing some game at Bremen, and that this was a team returning to play whatever it was at Ruabon. So they are busy with their EEC propaganda everywhere.
May 18 Monday: I worked in the garden most of the day but went to the Liverpool branch meeting in the evening. There was a fair attendance. Some of the “solidarity boys” had been brought by Pat MacLoughlin. One, the husband of a wee girl who was a little stupid at a previous meeting, was there. He was a building worker but had long straight hair and a pensive look. He was dressed like a student. The Armagh boy was there, calmer than previously. He is beginning to learn. And there was a hard-headed young Englishman whom one of the younger boys hung on every word of. Quite a few more too, but no Barney Morgan.
May 19 Tuesday (London): I went to London by the 8.30 train and went into the office. I rang Joe Deighan who informed me that he had spent the last fortnight arranging his return to Belfast and was going there permanently in a month’s time. He had not proposed to say anything until all was settled. I made no comment. I had learned he had been taking driving lessons “so as to be able to tour Ireland on holidays”. Now he says he has bought a house – Dorothy would not live in a Catholic area, so they are away out. Does he intend to take part in the exciting events that are coming? Or to become an elder statesman on the fringe? He says Bobby Heatley is settled there, seems “relaxed” but dislikes having to work amidst Orangemen. He expressed the opinion, when I asked him, that if the British Government took firm action the majority of Protestants would acquiesce and those who did not would easily be dealt with.
The Irish Democrat committee was held in the evening, and was the most businesslike yet, with Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Peter Mulligan but not Pat Bond. Joe Deighan came after it was over and we all went for a drink. There was no opportunity for Joe to speak to me alone, though he indicated his desire for this. He seems fairly pleased with himself.
When he first announced his intentions I was momentarily displeased at what was a small deception. However, he told Charlie Cunningham and the others in the “pub”. They said they had “heard rumours”. Later I was rather pleased than otherwise. He is negative and contrary, and like Sean Redmond brings himself into everything – though, give Sean his due, he conceals it better than Joe, and does not sulk or refuse to cooperate.
May 20 Wednesday: I went in early – about 7.25 am. At just after 9 am. Jack Eighteen appeared, planted a leaflet for tonight’s meeting on my desk and decamped with no more ado. Aha! said I, what does this mean? For this is the first communication I have had. The meeting was arranged weeks ago. Jack Henry approached Max Egelnick and proposed a meeting of building workers on the Irish question. When I looked at the leaflet I thought I had fathomed the mystery. It was not for building workers but for the world and his wife. I had been availed of for a general meeting with an eye on the election. I spoke to Pat Bond on the phone and he told me that previous leaflets had been issued, but with the wrong date on them. But I paid little heed to this.
Brian Farrington sent me a copy of his volume of poems, some of which were good. His former wife, Constance, wrote me recently from Paris. She is thinking of doing some work on Meillet [Leo Meillet, the Communard, whom James Connolly knew in Edinburgh as a young man].
I went along to the meeting before the CA branch assembled and arrived a few minutes before it was due to begin. There was only Jack Eighteen there, and disconsolate indeed he looked. It seems the leaflet with the wrong date had been distributed on the building jobs, and the press advertising and opening of the thing to the world was aimed at compensating for this and recovering the cost of the hall. Eighteen doubted if Jack Henry would be there. He had not seen him for some time. Indeed there was a trace of a desire not to blame Jack Henry but to represent him for nothing in particular. Then Henry came, together with a dockers’ “leader” (a strange builder he); but nobody came so the docker went away. Four young Belfasts came and sat in the front. One of them looked very like Bernadette Devlin, but Columba Longmore who came later, and Peter Mulligan did not recognise her. There were about 15-20 present. Elsie O’Dowling also came. She is showing her years now.
I went to 283 Grays Inn Road[the Connolly Association office] once the meeting had just broken up. Pegeen O’Flaherty agreed to take over administration of the Guarantor Fund. Jack Henry came. He blamed Eglenick, who had done nothing till the last moment and then done it all wrong. Sean Redmond was there and for a brief few minutes managed to surround himself with his beloved bureaucratic fuss and nonsense that I find so absurd and irritating. Charlie Cunningham was not there, but Jim Kelly, Peter Mulligan, Columba Longmore, Joe Deighan and the others. I represented to Pat Hensey that if he wanted anything done about the Hammersmith Town Hall meeting, he had better do it quickly.
May 21 Thursday (Glasgow): To my surprise Pat Hensey came in, for five minutes (he said he thought his work would take that) and dithered inconsequentially all morning. After lunch Joe Deighan came in and helped him. They drafted a rambling and ungrammatical manifesto in two hours. “Work that in,” says Joe when he thinks of a good point. I had asked Peter Mulligan if he would take over the book department when Dorothy goes and he had agreed. Now perhaps we could have a general reshuffle and change the secretary. I left for Glasgow on the night train.
May 22 Friday: The train was late. It was nine before I was at Glasgow Cross on my way to the bookshop where I hoped to find Bill Crowe. Crowds of poorly dressed people were already forming outside a cheap clothing store due to open at 11 am. There must be unemployment. I found Bill Crowe had retired. I then went to the City office, thence to the Scottish Office [of the CPGB] where I met Finlay Hart. I was looking for the address of Harry McShane whom I wanted to ask if Sean Murray was ever in Glasgow. Finally I traced it at the Trade Union Club. There I met Reefer, who I understand will replace Wyper as secretary of the Trades Council. Wyper is now a TGWU official. He started this week. I went to McShane’s address but he was not in. I rang Charlie Byrne, who told me Donald McLean had telephoned. So I went out there for a meal. McLean was proposing that we meet J. McGinley at the Trade Union Club tonight, and go to Edinburgh for the Miners’ Gala tomorrow.
At about 7.30 pm Donald McLean arrived – somewhat late. He is a lanky youth who dresses well but doesn’t look you in the eye. His hands are cold and unresponsive, possibly thanks to the heart complaint for which he must later have an operation. Before he came Charlie Byrne explained to me that he had worked for the Corporation. While there he had unearthed defalcations and, on pointing them out, was dismissed. This had preyed on his mind and sent him into a psychiatric ward. “Obviously a weak character”, I said to myself, and this I now saw. I was to see more.
At the club we found McGinley – a vigorous able person who still persists in wasting his time organising regattas. McLean, by the way, told me in the bus that his grandfather was Neil McLean, not John. He is constantly talking of his family. At the club he started praising Wilson [ie. the Labour Prime Minister]. “That man’s a weak character and a confidence trickster,” said McGinley. “Oh! No” contended McLean, “A very clever man. I know him. I’ve spoken to him, discussed things with him.” McLean criticized the activities of Clann na hEireann in the CA. He told how it was clear that caucus meetings had been held, and plans were worked out before the CA met. McGinley dismissed McLean’s suggestions. He thought the CA members had not all been circularized for meetings. McLean said they had.
McGinley was so contemptuous of everything Donald McLean said that I put it to him when McLean went to buy a drink that he did not appear to have much confidence in him. “I have not,” he said. He said that he suspected that McLean had borrowed money from members and took care not to circularize those who might dun him for it. When I got back to Charle Byrne’s I expressed an unfavourable opinion of McLean.
“There you are,” said Maggie Byrne,“what did I tell you?”
“Well – I always said . . .” began Charlie Byrne for once slightly nonplussed.
“The Irish are a bit more ‘fly’ than the Scots,” said she.
When he went out she said that she had been discussing his mental health with her doctor. She has spoken of this to me on a previous visit. He never lets her finish a sentence.
“You don’t know what I’m going to say.”
“Yes I do. I know exactly.”
This is pure music hall, but for the waste of time irritating.
May 23 Saturday: A letter came from Brian Wilkinson together with a leaflet for a CA meeting next Friday. He apologized for the leaflet. Bert Pearce had had it done[Welsh CPGB organiser]. Since Brian Wilkinson agreed to organise the CA meeting he has been adopted as CP candidate for Pontypool, on what basis I have no conception. Charlie Byrne thinks his promotion from Assistant Area Traffic Manager will be jeopardised. But I wouldn’t mind that. The absurdity of sending up a candidate so late, and so unconnected to the area. Indeed they are incredible!
But to the leaflet. The “Tricolour” was crossed with the “Plough and the Stars”, or at least this is what its designer intended to be done. The “Tricolour” had horozontal stripes. The “Plough and Stars” had no plough and the stars as much resembled the constellations of Draco or Serpens as Ursa Major. And at the bottom was Brian Wilkinson’s name. Charlie Byrne told me he had said he was CA organiser in his CP election statement. I was appalled – an Englishman, obviously not even knowing the Irish flag, without sufficient respect for it to avoid crossing it with a socialist flag, and himself going up as CP candidate. Wilkinson would be blamed for this gross insensitivity to Irish nationalism. I rang up and told him to cancel the meeting. He agreed but rang back to say how angry he was. He said he would in future “concentrate on party work” and not work for the Connolly Association. I said to myself heaven be praised, and remarked that he was sincere but innocent. Charlie and Maggie Byrne both agreed.
Finally in the late afternoon I tracked down McShane. He was extremely friendly, and showed no bitterness against the party, though Finlay Hart had said he would. He was indeed pleased at my visit, but very surprised that I wanted to talk ancient history. He said he was at the conference of “International Socialists”, though he is not a member. The “only two decent speeches were by Farrell and McCann”[Eamon McCann, Derry leftwinger and one of the founders of the People’s Democracy]. I was interested that McCann was in them. A journalist had told him that the Czechs were supplying Stephenson/Blaney with arms, and the Russians the Paisleyites. Why defeat each other’s object I asked. “To tie up more British forces there”, he replied. I said I was sceptical.
Again in the evening I went to the Trade Union Club. Donald McLean was there, and later I met others. McEvoy was from Oxford and Mulligan was accommodating him. Huge stout Richards was with them. They invited me to Mulligan’s flat after tomorrow’s meeting. But I had the impression that the girls were mainly interested in getting a good laugh at the wildness of the Irish scene. Mulligan was critical of the Belfast CP, “Some of the comrades there want a kick in the pants.”
I asked why. They had talked about the “bloody stupid British party”, adding that it was all very well to make statements when you did not live in Belfast. He had objected. I said they told me they were dissatisfied with him for not going to the Turf Lodge. “They wouldn’t go themselves,” said he. He said he was in Derry and actually saw the Catholics begin to stone the Orange March. The Belfast CP wanted him to suppress that fact and he wouldn’t. I have heard in Dublin that his impression was correct. At the same time I did not take him to be a committed anti-imperialist.
Now while I was talking to Mulligan a friend of Donald McLean’s called Dunne arrived and I would say he is fond of a drink. McLean disappeared. It was then time to go and Dunne spoke of McLean’s discourtesy to myself, but I brushed that aside. On the way to the bus, Dunne said it was amazing that Donald McLean had gone off “with a friend”. He had been relying on recovering £10 he had lent him. So I said to myself, will McLean attend the meeting tomorrow? When I got to Charlie Byrne’s he had rung apologizing.
May 24 Sunday: While I was still asleep Donald McLean rang Charlie Byrne. He told him he had had an accident on the way home and was “shattered”. He rang again, and told me the same. He had slipped on attempting to board a bus, but was not hurt in body, only in “nerves”. But he feared he could not come today. But he would come to Charlie Byrne’s to collect his (expensive) brief case. While waiting for him I looked around Charlie Byrne’s garden. There are many indoor plants “Margaret gets them,” Byrne explained. “It’s part of her mental condition.” Now both are right. Charlie Byrne, with a weak heart and no kneecaps, cannot go out and therefore knows what everybody is going to say. Margaret goes out to work but needs some dear things to make the quality of a home.
Needless to say, I was determined to unship McLean. I spoke very concernedly of his health and stressed repeatedly that he must not do too much, and the CA would have a very guilty conscience if it allowed him to overtire himself in its services.
The meeting was well attended. Bill Loughlin was there. He is now working in Glasgow. Heaven knows why they got rid of him. Mary Travers came. “We must completely keep the CA separate from Clann na hEireann,” I said. She looked somewhat taken aback. Eamon was there too – and said little. I rubbed in about the papers that were not paid for. A new man Hawkes from Paisley was there, and a seventeen-year-old boy from Catterick. These had applied through the post. Michael Donnelly also was there. McGinley agreed to be secretary for a month or two, and Donnelly said he would do it after that.
I went back to McGinley’s. Michael Donnelly came with us part way. He has planned six books on the Scottish radical movement and hopes to have them all written within a year’s time! “Is anybody giving you a grant?” asked McGinley.
“Well how do you manage?”
“On the burroo.”[ie.the Labour Exchange]
McGinley told me that usually the British Army provides the first aid facilities at the “Commonwealth Games”. He said that this year they are unable to do it, as the extra strategic reserve is locked up in Northern Ireland.
After leaving McGinley who is far the most competent man there, I called on Mrs Doherty, wife of the prisoner[Gerry Doherty, Goulding Republican, who had been arrested for alleged IRA arms offences]. She is an ordinary Irish girl, very Republican, maintained, I imagine, by Clann na hEireann (whose main function is raising money). “Gerry didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “It was a Special Branch conspiracy to stop him doing the work he was doing.” Others in Glasgow say the only place he will not endanger himself is in prison! I was hoping to find out the date of the appeal, but she did not know.
I then took the night train to London.
May 25 Monday (London): I was in the office at about 7.30 am. and remained there, on and off, till about 11 pm. I got quite a deal done.
May 26 Tuesday (Liverpool): I was in the office till about 11 am. when I went to Derby. There I read the proofs and went on to Liverpool. The train was delayed on the way to Crewe by “cattle on the line” – another by-product of their fool new-fangled level crossings.
May 27 Wednesday: I worked in the garden all day, but the work is still desperately behind. Still the weather was grand and I made fair progress. The white lilac is a picture. As I travelled yesterday I noted the fine blossoms everywhere – except on horse-chestnuts that the birds were at. There is not a leaf, it almost seems, but the huge white heads tower over everything. Yet by night some of the flowers were beginning to fade. The rowan has flourished and failed in the short time I have been away. But the laburnum is nearly at its best. The lilac-covered syringias are also exceptionally fine. There was a letter from Cathal, and another from the solicitor O’Luaidh [probably a mistake for O’Lehane] in Dublin.
May 28 Thursday: I had hoped to do more in the garden today, but was tired. I seem to have caught a cold – the weather has been dry, but chilly in the evenings. But I cleared a number of things up.
May 29 Friday: Again there was not a great deal done. But I have managed to get the earlier vegetables in.
May 30 Saturday (London): I returned to London on the 10.30. It ran nearly an hour late and was crammed with holiday-makers with suitcases. An extra train should have been provided. When I got to the office Jim Kelly and Pat O’Donohue were there. Jim had been talking to Sean Redmond and they had been saying that the branch meetings were falling off as “things returned to normal”. I guess Sean is rationalizing his own retirement, and must watch this. He could become like Joe Deighan, a little centre of counter-enthusiasm – not perhaps a brake but at all times a centrifugal governor needing little motion to set it governing.
Later Jane Tate was in. She said that apart from £120 owing for badges, against which we can set about £80, and £100 for printing petition forms we have cleared all debts. These two outstanding ones are so to speak bills for “stock” which can be turned over. In the afternoon Pat Hensey was there, very busy (for once!) with the Hammersmith meeting. Clearly he has no recipe but to do the work himself. I was surprised at his energy. Joe Deighan reported that the Manchester meeting last Thursday was “worthwhile” and about twenty were there. He thought Brennan (who was there) a slimy character, and of course he is an “International Socialist”, a peculiarly insidious branch of “crypto-Trotskyist”. They have arranged a social. A student offered to go selling with Michael Rabbitt, so it is going to pick up.
Later on Charlie Cunningham came in. He is back at work. The union had “ordered them back with twenty percent of the twenty-percent” they wanted. I was out with him in Paddington. He told me about the NUVB [National Union of Vehicle Builders, a British-based trade union which then organized in Ireland and of which Charlie Cunningham was a member] conference in Bray. It is strange how history is decided by trifles. I had written to Tom Redmond. It was only after the second letter I got a reply. He told me that the help had thrown the letter in the fire, and he could deduce my invitation only from the accompanying NUVB Journal. He assumed that the Union was favourable to the resolution which favoured the reunification of Ireland – the first time we dared to put it in. So he made some kind of statement and got the Bray Trades Council to complement them. Charlie Cunningham had warned the London proposer that he could expect opposition from Belfast and Glasgow. Bert Edwards, who had put in his own irresponsible resolution in opposition, talked of a “walk out”. But preparations were made behind the scenes. Brown, the Dublin Labour Party chairman, was there, and warned of the damage the resolution would do in the North and had the thing “remitted to the Executive”? This piece of human ordure was opposed even to the reunification of Ireland when the people of Ireland desired it, for in some such way the resolution ran. Charlie Cunningham was furious. We resolved that the gentleman in question would pay, if we ever had the means of getting the payment out of him!
May 31 Sunday: We had the Standing Committee in the morning. It was reasonably satisfactory. Brian Wilkinson had written to Sean Redmond about Monmouth, but they all supported my decision. We made plans for a general change of responsibilities. Sean Redmond agreed to look after press and publicity and arrange big central meetings. We suggested Peter Mulligan for buying books, Pat O’Donohue for the financial side, Sean Redmond as Central London branch chairman (he accepted with alacrity), Charlie Cunningham as secretary, Pat Hensey as treasurer. This will leave a gap for a national membership secretary. Sean, who failed of election to the NCCL [the National Council for Civil Liberties] Executive, has been co-opted. He put this to the meeting as if asking for approval, I don’t know why. The improvement of the financial position encouraged Jim Kelly and surprised Sean. We decided not to fall in with Clann na hEireann’s proposals for a meeting on 6th June. Their suggestion was that “all organisations” should speak at Hyde Park and each have a representative sitting on the plinth at Trafalgar Square, where Cathal Goulding (now out on bail), Vincent McDowell, Bernadette Devlin and Bowes Egan (three Trotskies) would be the speakers. I never heard such a proposition. We wondered if Goulding was taking leave of his senses. But perhaps he regards the ultra-left Trotskies as his sole protection against the spread of communist ideas among his supporters.
Peter Mulligan and John Gallivan, who had a car, brought in a load of books in the afternoon. Gallivan – the wild man from Keady – was talking of settling in Spain. When Jim Kelly returned from the Park he told me that there had been great laughter at this. Bobby Rossiter said he would not be out of jail one day. Charlie Cunningham came in and declared pessimistically that there would not be twenty people at the meeting Central London have arranged for tomorrow. Joe Deighan had been saying that as he and Sean Redmond did all Pat Hensey’s work, Central London assumed that things did themselves. And I heard it again from Charlie. “I thought there’d be a printed handbill.” “I thought!”, “There’d be”, while he has a tongue in his head to propose one.
I was in Kilburn with Chris Sullivan. A more depressing district it is hard to find. The curious thing is that nobody, though out for the evening, appears to be enjoying himself, and a good proportion are middle-aged decrepit alcoholics. Are these the same people who used to snatch eagerly at the news from Ireland? One bald-headed man of 40 to 45, sitting quietly drinking, already under the influence, used to be an active shop-steward at Smith’s Clocks. The degeneration over the years is marked. But some of the better youngsters and older man too, I think, avoid the district. Another factor is the slump in the building trade. Some men are trying to make a pint last an evening. And the semi-darkness and the deafening noise from loud-speakers makes it impossible to hold conversation of the most perfunctory kind.
(End of Volume 21. . . c. 74,000 words)
Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol. 21, 1969-70, Index
1 September 1969 – 31 May 1970
Greaves, C. Desmond
Aesthetic and cultural matters: 9.17, 9.29, 11.6
Assessments of others: 9.7, 9.11, 9.26, 10.25, 10.27, 11.6, 11.15, 11.18, 12.18-19,12.29,1.3,1.9,1.12-13,1.23-24,1.26, 2.9-11, 2.13, 2.20- 21,2.23, 3.7, 3.13, 3.16, 4.13-15, 5.10, 5.31
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 9.4, 9.24-26, 9.28, 10.9, 10-26, 11.18-19, 1.9, 1.16, 1.30, 2.5, 2.18, 3.27, 4.3, 4.7, 5.3
Civil Rights Campaign on Northern Ireland: 9.4, 11.30, 1.17, 1.19, 1.24,1.30, 2.11, 4.8, 4.11
European supranational integration/the EEC: 10.1,1.30, 3.15, 4.8, 4.11, 4.22-23, 5.1, 5.16
Family relations: 2.5, 3.24
Holidays/cycle: tours: 9.7, 9.20-10.10
Irish Republicanism and Republicans: 10.24,11.27, 12.17, 1.12, 1.17, 1.21-22, 2.11, 3.1, 3.15-16, 3.29, 4.11-12, 5.10, 5.31
Mellows research: 9.8, 10.16-17, 11.15, 1.4, 3.17
Nation and the national question: 9.7, 9.12, 9.15, 9.24-26, 9.29, 10.1, 10.14, 11.6, 1.2, 3.5, 3.15, 4.30, 5.12
Self-assessments and personal plans: 10.10, 10.14, 10.22, 11.23-25, 12.23-24, 1.4, 1.12-13,1.24, 1.26, 2.10, 2.13, 2.18, 3.5, 3.13, 3.29, 4.24, 4.27-28
Organisation Names Index:
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC): 4.23
Campaign for Democracy in Ulster (CDU): 1.11,1.26, 2.11, 4.12
Campaign for Social Justice: 10.23,12.17, 1.11, 1.30, 3.7, 3.29-30, 4.11-12
Clann na hEireann: 9.20, 10.23,12.10, 12.20, 1.10, 1.21-22, 3.1, 4.17, 5.24, 5.31
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 9.12, 9.20, 10.22, 10.24, 10.26,12.9, 1.7, 1.9, 1.19-20, 2.10, 2.16, 2.18, 2.22-26, 3.13, 3.25, 4.22-24, 5.7,5.23,
Communist Party of Northern Ireland: 9.20,10.13, 12.17-18, 1.7, 1.30, 3.15
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 9.9, 9.10, 9.20,10.10, 11.30,12.17, 1.3, 1.11,1.22, 1.23,1.26,1.29, 2.16, 2.22-23, 2.26, 3.23, 3.30, 4.8, 4.10- 11, 4.19, 4.23-25, 4.27, 4.29, 5.7, 5.10, 5.23, 5.31
Irish Labour Party: 1.30
Irish Workers Party (formerly Irish Workers League): 10.13, 12.17-18, 1.7, 1.30, 3.15
Liverpool University Socialist Society: 5.1
Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF): 9.17, 1.22, 4.12
National Council for Civil Liberties: 4.16, 5.31
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association: 9.20, 10.23-24, 11.18, 11.30, 12.17, 1.17, 1.22, 1.30, 2.11, 3.7, 3.16, 4.8, 4.11-12, 4.24-25, 5.10
Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalist Party): 10.14
People’s Democracy: 9.13,1.30,12.17, 2.11, 3.15, 3.30
Sinn Fein/IRA: 9.17, 9.20, 10.13, 10.23-24,11.27, 12.17, 12.20,1.10, 1.12, 1.21-23,1.30, 3.16, 4.12, 5.10
Trotskyite and far-left organisations:1.19,1.26, 1.30, 2.11, 4.7, 4.12, 4.25-26, 5.10, 5.30-31
Wolfe Tone Society: 12.20-21
Personal Names Index
Abbott, Syd: 2.16, 5.7
Arnot, R. Page: 10.24,12.9
Asmal, Kader: 1.30
Barr, Andy: 3.15
Beauchamp, Kay: 9.12,1.9-10, 1.22, 3.13
Bellamy, Joan and Ron: 2.20
Bennett, Jack: 10.23, 12.17,
Bloor, Geoffrey: 5.2
Bond, Patrick: 1.3, 1.11, 4.24, 4.28
Bourne, Harry: 9.12, 1.9
Bush, Alan and Rachel: 2.26
Campbell, Flann and Mary: 11.29
Charles, Wolf: 2.16, 5.7
Cohen, Gerry: 3.25
Cohen, Jack: 12.23
Comerford, Maire: 12.20-21,1.10, 1.29
Connolly-Edwards, Fiona: 11.27, 1.2, 1.24, 2.9, 3.23
Connolly, Roddy: 1.30, 2.9,
Conway, Frank: 10.17,10.23,1.11, 4.12
Coogan, Tim Pat: 10.13
Cook, David: 2.22-23
Cooley, Mike: 9.4
Comerford, Maire: 12.21
Cornforth, Maurice: 10.23, 1.13, 2.10
Costello, Seamus: 3.16
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 9.17, 9.20, 10.13, 12.18,12.20-22,1.17, 1.24,1.30, 2.2, 2.7, 3.15, 3.17, 4.17-18
Cox, Idris: 10.14
Crowe, Michael: 3.27-28
Cunningham, Charlie: 9.10, 12.23, 12.27, 1.11, 4.27, 5.9, 5.30
Curran, Antoinette (Toni): 2.8
Curran, Gerard: 13.9, 2.8-9
Daiken, Leslie: 10.13
Deasy, Joe: 3.15
Deighan, Joseph: 1.11, 4.20, 5.19
Desmond, Barry TD: 1.24
Devine, Pat: 1.20, 3.21
Devine, Pat (Jnr.): 5.7
Devlin, Bernadette: 9.13, 11.18, 11.20, 2.11, 5.10, 5.31
Doherty, Gerry: 5.24
Donnelly, Charlie: 10.13, 11.29, 1.29, 3.23
Duffy, Fr Clarence: 4.15, 4.17, 4.22
Dutt, R.Palme: 10.24,11.18-19, 1.26, 3.13, 4.14
Dwyer, Padraic: 3.12, 3.15-16
Edwards, Bert: 5.30
Egan, Bowes: 5.31
Egelnick, Max: 3.13, 4.24
Farrell, Michael: 9.13, 1.19, 2.11
Farrington, Brian: 5.20
Fitt, Gerry MP: 10.17,10.20-21,10.23,1.31
Gageby, Douglas: 1.29
Gallacher, Willie: 1.7
Garland, Sean: 12.20
Gibson, John: 4.22
Gill, Ken: 9.4
Gollan, John: 1.7, 1.26, 3.13
Goulding, Cathal: 1.21-22, 1.29,3.16, 4.24, 5.31
Greaves, Phyllis: 3.4, 5.10, 5.15
Harris, Noel: 3.15
Hayes, May: 1.13
Hayes, Stephen: 1.29
Healy, Denis: 2.20
Heatley, Bobby: 9.17, 1.24, 4.17, 5.19
Henry, Jack: 4.24
Hensey, Pat: 9.11, 4.27, 5.11
Hume, John: 11.30, 4.13
Jackson, TA: 9.1,9.10, 12.8, 12.30, 4.14
Johnston, Roy: 9.20, 10.24,12.17-19, 1.12, 1.17, 1.21-23, 1.30-31, 3.16
Keating, Justin: 1.29-30
Kelly, Jim: 1.11, 5.10
Kerrigan, Peter: 2.16
Lawless, Gery: 1.26, 5.10
Lenin, VI: 12.9
Levitas, Maurice: 10.25
Longmore, Columba: 11.18,1.20, 4.13, 4.15-16, 4.27
MacBride, Sean: 11.18
McCann, Eamon: 11.18, 2.11
McClelland, John: 12.17, 3.15
McCluskey, Conn and Patricia: 12.17, 3.16
McCorry, Kevin: 1.31, 4.13-15, 4.17
McCullough, Billy: 12.17
McDowell, Vincent: 1.30, 5.31
McGill, Brendan: 9.20,10.23,11.18, 12.11, 12.20, 1.10, 1.22, 1.31, 2.11, 4.24, 5.10
McInerney, Michael: 1.27-29
MacLaughlin, Eamon: 5.6
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 12.18, 12.21,12.31, 1.2
MacStiofáin, Seán: 1.21-22, 3.16
Mahon, John: 1.10, 4.10, 4.14
Martin, Eamon: 1.29
Meade, Tony: 1.29
Menzies, Edwina (See Stewart)
Milne, Ewart: 11.29, 12.10, 1.29
Morgan, Barney (Bernard): 10.28, 11.11,12.2, 4.7, 4.30
Morton, Alisoun: 12.29
Morton, Freda Mrs: 11.6, 12.29
Morton, Alan: 11.6, 11.18, 12.29, 2.13
Mulligan, Peter: 9.14, 10.23, 5.9
Murray, Mrs Margaret: 1.29,
Murray, Sean: 1.4, 1.6-7,1.27, 1.29, 1.31, 5.22
Newens, Stan MP: 9.17, 4.12
Nolan, Sean: 1.30, 3.15
O Ceallaigh, Daltún: 12.19, 3.15
O’Connor, Joe: 1.22-23
O’Connor, Peter: 3.15
O’Donnell, Peadar:1.27, 1.29
O’Donohue, Pat: 9.20,1.10, 4.11,5.10,
O’Dowling (neé Timbey), Elsie: 2.20
O’Flaherty, Pegeen: 3.18, 5.20
O’Leary, Michael TD: 1.30
O’Riordan, Michael: 10.13,12.6, 12.18,1.29-30, 2.28, 3.15
O’Shea, Fred: 1.10
O’Shea, Dr Teresa: 11.15
O’Sullivan, Chris: 5.9, 5.31
Paisley, Ian: 4.30
Palmer, John: 11.18
Parrish, Margot: 1.26
Pearce, Bert: 5.23
Pollitt, Harry: 10.14, 1.7, 4.14
Powell, Pat: 10.17, 10.23, 4.12, 4.26, 5.6
Prendergast, Jim: 9.11, 10.14, 1.10
Redmond, Sean: 9.11,10.23,11.30, 1.9,1.11-12, 2.9, 4.19, 4.22, 4.24, 4.27, 4.29, 5.1,5.31
Reid, Betty: 12.23
Rose, Paul MP: 10.23-24,10.29, 2.10
Rossiter, Bobby: 2.17
Rothstein, Andrew: 10.24, 12.9
Shields, Jimmy: 10.14
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 12.17, 1.17, 3.15
Smullen, Eamon: 10.22, 11.27,12.20,
Stalin, Joseph: 3.13
Steele, Jimmy:10.24, 1.31
Stewart, Bob: 1.7, 1.29,
Stewart, Edwina (neé Menzies): 9.20, 12.17, 3.15, 3.29-30, 4.12-13
Stewart, Jimmy: 12.17,1.17, 3.15
Stowell, Brian:11.11,12.2, 4.7, 4.30
Strachan, Billy: 3.13
Tate, Jane: 12.24, 4.19, 4.22
Thornley, David TD: 12.25, 1.29
Twomey, Moss: 3.16
Ward, Pat: 1.11
Warren, John: 1.31
Waters, Frank: 1.9
Watters, Tommy: 1.7
Wilkinson, Brian: 5.23
Wilson, Harold MP: 12.17, 1.11
Williams, J.Roose: 9.25,10.14, 2.21, 4.30
Woddis, Jack (Hillel): 1.9, 5.11
Woods, Tony and Mrs Aileen: 11.15