1 May 1975 – 31 May 1976
Themes: A “wasted weekend” at a Labour History conference on James Connolly in Dublin: Austen Morgan’s “epiphenomenal paradigms”(17 May 1975) – Holiday breaks cycling and hostelling in Wales – Organising speakers from Ireland during the 1975 UK referendum on EEC membership – Raising in CPGB circles the call for a British Declaration of Intent to withdraw eventually from Ireland as a way of countering the Troops Out Movement’s call for an immediate withdrawal and as a possible inducement to the Provisional IRA to call off its military campaign; meeting with the CPGB Political Committee to press this policy on them (28 August 1975) – Inserted comment by Dr Roy Johnston on Greaves’s assessment of his political activity in the 1960s (29-30 November 1975) – Proposal by ITGWU General Secretary Michael Mullen that he write that union’s history – Working on his book “Sean O’Casey: Politics and Art” – Joining a Dublin-based committee querying the authenticity of the Casement diaries – Organising a conference in London on 4 April 1976, sponsored by the NCCL, MCF, NUS, CA and sundry Trade Union bodies on the need for a new political initiative on the lines of the Declaration of Intent – Working on a booklet of Irish political songs: “The Easter Rising in Song and Story”, published in 1980 – Meetings with Tomas MacGiolla, Eamon Smullen and Sean Kenny of the “Official” IRA/Sinn Fein over the problems caused by their support group in Britain, Clann na hEireann (23 February 1976) – Eddie Cowman applies to become full-time Connolly Association organiser: “I do believe I am actually raising up another crop of young people after we feared the soil was depleted” (16 May 1976) – An exchange with Dr Helena Sheehan on whether life and the universe have meaning (29 May 1976) – Some assiduous gardening at the house in Prenton, Birkenhead, Merseyside that he had inherited from his sister in 1966
May 1, 1975 (London): In the correspondence was the NICRA Bill of Rights, which Madge Davison had told me about on the telephone. She had asked me to tell her when Brockway introduced the one we got out. But though Fenner Brockway is mentioned, the date is not and the Connolly Association is not mentioned at all. She asked me to say what I thought of it. I would prefer to tell her what I think of the petty-minded little intrigues of NICRA. I blame the “Official” Republicans. Charlie Cunningham told me that even Denis Maher was shocked at the absence of reference to Latham [On 12 May 1971 Arthur Latham, 1930-2016, MP for Paddington, had proposed in the House of Commons the Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland which Desmond Greaves had drafted. Fenner Brockway proposed it on the same day in the House of Lords].
There was also a letter from Cath Scorer [of the NCCL] – a circular saying there was a meeting to follow up the delegation and that Mr Desmond Greaves had expressed a desire to be present and was thereby notified. The meeting is tomorrow and this is the first I heard of it. I wrote saying I did not remember expressing a desire to be present but would come if possible. But I will not. I suspect a trap. Who else will be there?
I was too late for the May Day thing. The phone kept going and people came for the bookshop. But I saw Chris Sullivan and some of the others [ie. Connolly Association activists]. Later Charlie Cunningham came in and we went to a St. Pancras Labour Party May Day social, not out of intention however. We had arranged to see some of the building workers in the “Dublin Castle” and the Labour Party invited us in. Brian Loughran was there. I got the impression that if they lose the referendum, and I fear they will, though there is a sporting chance, they will be desperately demoralised [ie. the referendum in June on whether or not the UK should stay in the EEC, which had been called by Harold Wilson as a means of overcoming internal Labour Party opposition to joining the EEC]. They look on it merely as a means of holding the Labour Party together and do not see that as a precedent simply because it is antecedent. Several people said to me, “Now that Vietnam is over, we’ll have to take up Ireland.” So Jock Stallard is right [MP for Camden St Pancras North]. They are already looking for something to slot in the banner and one of them said they are supporting the Troops Out [Stallard had remarked that the Labour Left liked to call for Britain to leave one country after another and just changed the name of the country concerned on successive posters and banners]. They don’t know one thing from another.
There was a group of building workers mostly in the CP. At the end of the social they, though not drunk, had drink taken. One of them wanted the International, whereas a Labour Party woman timidly started the Red Flag. I insisted that must not start the International. But when one of the Labour people started it, I encouraged them to join in. “We’re guests,” I impressed on them. “They must start it.” It was taken up by everybody and sung a great deal more loudly than the Tannenbaum version.
There was also a letter from Rene Short [Rene Short, 1919-2003, Labour MP for Wolverhampton]asking me to draft a brief for her. She has proposed an amendment that the Sex Discrimination Bill should be extended to Northern Ireland.
May 2 Friday: I drafted Rene Short’s brief after Mrs Evason rang up from Derry. She said that Rene Short had not replied to her letter. This is a pity, since Stallard advised me to ask Mrs Evason to write to Rene Short. Brian Crowley had “Hibernia”[The Dublin current affairs magazine]. On page 9 was an article congratulating NICRA on being the first to draft a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. Incredible! Their method of work resembles that of the Trotskyites. They are completely brazen, and no wonder they get everybody’s back up and isolate themselves. According to the report Kevin Boyle has drafted another one [Kevin Boyle was a People’s Democracy member of the NICRA Executive Committee] and Denis Maher told me the UDA has drafted a third [ie. the Loyalist Ulster Defence Association]. I confidently expect them to make a fine mess of it amongst the lot of them.
I spoke to Tom Mitchell [a CA and CPGB activist in Luton]. Joe Gallagher had been flattered into attending an International Marxist Group conference [a Trotskyite body] but he had had it out with him and he agreed it was a mistake. But our letter had not come up at Luton Trades Council. The Troops Out Movement one had. He blames George Slessor, not for villainy, but for inadequacy.
I rang Tony Coughlan, who gave me details of the London visits [ie. by speakers from Ireland to participate on the “No” side in the UK referendum on the EEC, taking place on 5 June]. He told me that there is a Trotsky called Brian Trench on the staff of “Hibernia”, and that he causes all manner of mischief.
May 3 Saturday: For the second day running no applications for credentials for our conference next Sunday appeared in the mail. We have a hall that will hold 550 people and 33 have indicated their intention of coming. The London CPGB has notified every one of its branches – about three have responded. Of course the EEC campaign is on. But the most serious thing is the most vigorous effort I have seen yet to counter us. The “Troops Out Movement” are attempting to take the position occupied by the Anti-Internment League. Maire Colqhoun is busy with it. At one Trades Council their circular came up simultaneously with ours. The same happened at Manchester. Result: no delegate to either. At Wandsworth Trades Council the International Socialist delegates [A Trotskyist group]showed up in strength and voted down a motion to attend ours. Then there is the British CP failure to follow the Irish on the intention of leaving Ireland, so that there is a vacuum where the constitutional question should be – and finally their toleration of members belonging to Clann na hEireann, Sinn Fein and so on [ie. “Official” Sinn Fein, then seeking to establish itself as the Workers Party in Ireland; Clann na hEireann was its British support group and it in turn was seeking to establish itself with the CPGB and side-line the Connolly Association’s influence in that quarter]. The position is as bad as bad can be, except for the capacity to become worse. I was in Camden Town with Charlie Cunningham in the evening. Gerry Curran wants to go and out with me tomorrow. I wonder why.
May 4 Sunday: I was in the office for most of the day, but met Gerry Curran as arranged. I discovered what it was. He has for a long time been dissatisfied with the low standard of education his children are receiving. Of course everybody says there is nothing wrong and they continue to bring up illiterates who can neither spell, pronounce, read, write or count. So he and Toni decided to try to get Neil and Conor into a Catholic school. But there were no places. So now Gerry has returned to the church and has himself and the two boys singing in the choir. I told him he’d surely roast in hell for this and seemingly the local priest was highly curious over the sudden reconversion, his suspicions being somewhat allayed by the singing. On Saturday nights, as Jim Kelly affirms, they all go to each other’s houses to listen to “folk”. They are culture vultures, says he, and we get no Saturday sales in the West. Brian Crowley and Pat O’Donohoe are in this – but they never gave me the slightest hint of it and I pretend not to know.
But Gerry Curran told me something else, namely that Roy Johnston has become an artist and had an exhibition of “abstract” paintings in Dublin, which the “Irish Times” gave as poor a review of as was possible to the work of a man on their own list of contributors [Roy Johnston had a regular science column in the “Irish Times” at this time. Greaves was confusing his name here with that of the painter Roy Johnston; see a later entry correcting this]. “He’d chance his arm at anything,” said Gerry.
May 5 Monday (Liverpool): I was in the office until late afternoon, when I came up to Liverpool for a few days.
May 6 Tuesday: I got in a little work in the garden. It remains a crazy season. The soil is all but waterlogged, and though I put in plenty of sand, it is hard to break up the stiff clay.
May 7 Wednesday: I have still a filthy cold from which I have scarcely been free all winter. It returns with the inexorability of a relapsing fever. I imagine the cause is the failure to have a proper holiday last year. I put it off because of the election and then came the worst September and October I ever remember. I got a little done in the garden nonetheless.
May 8 Thursday (London): I went to London as I had to speak at West London. I went to Toni Curran’s afterwards. Pat O’Donohue, his young sister Geraldine and Stephen Banham were there. I hope they don’t wrap him up in the “culture” as well.
May 9 Friday: I was in the office all day arranging the conference on Sunday, speakers on the EEC referendum and the Oxford School [the latter being a cultural event organised by the Connolly Association]. I never had so much to do in my life and must call a halt in June and get a holiday.
May 10 Saturday: Again in the office all day and on the sales with Michael Crowe in the evening. He has come for the conference. He complains of the same type of meddling and muddling in Newcastle as I get from Irene Brennan here. They react to every uncoordinated stunt. They don’t know what they are doing – “they” including most of the people he has to do with.
May 11 Sunday: Our conference was today. Toni Curran picked up Matt Merrigan at the airport [Matt Merrigan was a leading official with the ATGWU in Dublin]. Jack Bennett came into the office [Bennett was a journalist on the “Belfast Telegraph” who wrote the influential “Claud Gordon” column in the Northern Ireland edition of the “Sunday Press”]. The other speaker was John Hostettler [ie. the lawyer whom the Connolly Association had sent to observe the Mallon and Talbot trial in Belfast in 1958] and they all spoke long. The attendance was about 100 – same as last time, no improvement but not a disgrace. Irene Brennan felt it her responsibility to put her mouth in [Irene Brennan was a CPGB Executive member who had recently developed an interest in the Irish question and was encouraging Clann na hEireann, the British support group of the Official Republicans in Dublin, some of whose members began to join the CPGB. She regarded the Connolly Association as aligned with the Provisional IRA because the “Irish Democrat” did not attack the physical-force Republicans although it disagreed with their policy]. There is no doubt that my action in “giving out” to her had had a most salutary effect. She used the well-known sandwich technique to get her nonsense in. And wasn’t Michael Crowe right! At first she congratulated the CA on the conference. But, she said, there were lots of other things being done – Dromey’s thing in failing in its objective of visiting prisoners was declared a brilliant success [a project of Dromey on behalf of the NCCL. Jack Dromey, 1948-2022, was elected MP for Birmingham Erdington in 2010]. The same was promised of the Brent thing [ie. an initiative of Brent Trades Council, influenced by Tom Durkin, an Irish CP member who was critical of CA policy]. “We want as many of these things as possible,” she declared, “and none of them will cut across others. What about a delegation from Birmingham?” She was blissfully unaware of what they have been trying to do there and did not enquire. Then she said the Connolly Association was quite right to bring in reference to the EEC. For twenty minutes after the conference she was in deep earnest conversation with Mick Leahy, so we can expect more nonsense at Oxford. In my reply I rubbed in for her benefit the fact that it was the Connolly Association that gave continuity to the campaign, which would otherwise consist of unrelated short-period jabs. I learned afterwards that she had tea with Charlie Cunningham, Michael Crowe and some others, including Chris Myant, whom Charlie judges a “lightweight” and talked the same nonsense there. Charlie Cunningham and I went to the “Metropolitan”.
May 12 Monday (Liverpool): I had intended to come North last night but found I had too much to do. But I caught the 10.50 this morning and thus had the afternoon and evening here.
May 13 Tuesday: As the weather turned dryer I could do a little more on the garden. But I still have the filthy cold.
May 14 Wednesday: Another day on the garden. Cathal rang [ie. his friend Cathal MacLiam in Dublin]. Daltún O Ceallaigh is talking about reprinting my lecture to Marx House in (I think) 1968 [Daltún O Ceallaigh, an independent Republican then working in the ITGWU Research Department in Dublin]. But they want to tinker with it and want me to go to Dublin in June to be present at the tinkering. I said I’d see him this weekend.
May 15 Thursday: Yet more in the garden and it is beginning to look a little better. Sean Redmond rang in the evening saying that Mullen [ie. Michael Mullen, General Secretary of Ireland’s largest trade union, the ITGWU] was not going to the Troops Out Movement conference, but the Irish Sovereignty Movement was thinking of sending him [ie. Sean Redmond; The Irish Sovereignty Movement was formed by Anthony Coughlan, Micheál O Loingsigh, Cathal MacLiam and others following Ireland’s EEC Accession Treaty referendum in 1972 to oppose European supranational integration and support the reunification of Ireland]. I advised him not to go and he said he wouldn’t.
May 16 Friday: I spent the day in the garden and left for Dublin on the 9.8 train which now connects with the Emerald Isle Express.
May 17 Saturday: (Dublin) I arrived at Cathal’s [who lived with his wife Helga and their five children at 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines] and feeling tired did not go down to Liberty Hall till 11 am. They had asked me to take the chair at Hoffman’s talk on “Connolly and Historical Materialism” at 2 pm. tomorrow. I arrived just after Hoffman had finished speaking. Apparently four lecturers had sent last-minute withdrawals and the order of speakers was re-arranged! The Canadian professor I corresponded with stepped into the breach and read part of a chapter of his forthcoming book. I can’t be sure of his name – can’t recall it – John Boyle, I think, or something like that. So far, so good. But when we returned from lunch, a young man – 22? – called Austen Morgan, who hailed from Queen’s University Belfast and spoke with an American accent, took the microphone and the secretary Francis Devine the chair. Devine was born in London, was a member of Clann na hEireann and applied for a job with the ITGWU and got it. Now the subject was Connolly in Belfast. Morgan began speaking at 2 o’clock, when he told us that Connolly was “activist, emotionalist, voluntarist, mechanist” and two more things I had not time to write down. He had draped round his brow a diadem of “epiphenomenal paradigms”, and they kept breaking loose and dropping into his speech. Three o’clock passed. Still we had heard nothing about Connolly in Belfast. And the young man was full of himself – though even Narcissus if he caught sight of his reflection in a cess-pit might hesitate before embracing it. The tenor was anti-Connolly. Likewise, it was anti-Connolly’s biographer, who had asserted that certain events had taken place at two minutes before two, whereas application to the primary sources had enabled him to pronounce that they took place at two minutes after. At 4.15 pm. he said he was shattered. Perhaps he had swallowed one of the errant epiphenomenal paradigms. “I cannot go on,” he said and indicated what a pity this was as the third part of his dissertation, which he would not now read, was concerned with Connolly in Belfast.
Sean Redmond was there. “What was he talking about?” he asked. “How should I know?” I answered. “At first”, said Sean, “I thought he was two-nations theory; but later I concluded he was a Trotskyist.” “Whatever he is”, said I, “this is the beginning of a big operation designed to discredit Connolly.” All the young people were wearing Connolly badges – the one I designed in 1968 – and some people would like to see them with something else.
I couldn’t face another similar experience. Neither could Sean Redmond. Instead I went for a drink with Sean and Reggie Smyth, who used to know me in the forties in the set that involved AmTh and Lippie Kelsall [information on these is not known]. He is now professor of something or other at Derry. I asked him what it was, but it was too vague to stick in my mind. Sean Redmond said that the Belfast branch of the Irish Labour History Society had offered to organise and pay for this symposium. They are all of them academics and have plenty of money (perhaps from British sources, perhaps from the CIA, thought I.) When it was discovered that this young man Morgan had selected all the lecturers on the basis of their “new thinking” and crammed ten lectures into an evening and two days, the Dublin Trade Unionists began to take alarm – whence the invitations to one or two representatives of the “old thinking”.
I asked for Cathal to drive Tony Coughlan and myself out to see Maire Comerford. We did not stay long. Cathal seemed very tired and anxious to go home. Daltún O Ceallaigh and Micheál O Loingsigh came, but I stayed with Tony Coughlan. Maire Comerford had seen Pat Ward and told him of our action. He is still in hospital.
May 18 Sunday: In the morning, we were treated to Manus O’Riordan’s views on Connolly in the USA. He is an exponent of the “two nations theory” and Kader Asmal got him the job as Research Officer officer of the ITGWU while unaware of this. Then came Oliver Snoddy. If the other had deplored Connolly’s addiction to “nationalism” Snoddy informed us that he was on the point of establishing that in 1901 Connolly was a member of the IRB. When the two-nations merchants denied that Connolly had a trace of nationalism about him, Snoddy read Connolly’s own words, which they did not believe. It was like the first appearance of the giraffe at the zoo. The next speaker was a hard brilliant exponent of what is now known as “women’s lib”. She admitted that Connolly unionised the Belfast mill girls and supported the suffragettes. But on the one hand he did not foresee the great part women were subsequently to play in industry, and as for the suffragettes, “they were middle-class women.”
I was approached by O’Duthail of the Public Record Office who was there and is treasurer of the Labour History Society, to say few words at the end of this session, summarising the conference. Both the Chairman and speaker knew this and the speaker said, “That’s good, for I’ll only be brief.” She was, needless to say, anything but brief. The chairman dealt with the matter in a most ham-fisted way. There were loud shouts that every women’s session was curtailed. Jack Gannon, the Trotsky, proposed that the discussion continue. Swift tried to explain amid the din that I could not wait till the end of the last session or I would miss the boat. And the chairman foolishly accepted the resolution and put it to the vote, when it was carried amid scenes of disorder. At that minute the caretaker came in to say the room must be vacated as they were an hour over time. So they had to get out – Francis Devine, the youngster who is secretary, declaring mendaciously, “It’s the only session that didn’t finish on time. It would almost set you against women!” – though it was indeed his muddling and failure to give the chairman clear instructions that had started the whole thing.
When we got up to Rathmines, we found that Cathal had been in bed, was running a high temperature and had been delirious. However, he seemed to be recovering. Micheál O Loingsigh and Tony Coughlan accompanied me to Dun Laoire and I was not sorry to end a wasted weekend.
May 19 Monday (Liverpool): I came to Rock Ferry via Chester and spent the day on the garden. There is still plenty to be done.
May 20 Tuesday: I got in another day on the garden.
May 21 Wednesday (London): I came to London on the morning train and then went down to the House of Commons. Jock Stallard thought Merlyn Rees [Northern Ireland Secretary of State] was not long for his post. He seemed to be anxious not to commit his department to anything and this betokened “clearing up” operations. Lipton had a few words with us [ie. Marcus Lipton, MP for Brixton]. But there were not many there. Surprisingly, Charlie Cunningham did not turn up.
May 22 Thursday: I proposed to talk on Marx and Engels in Ireland for the meeting in Oxford tomorrow. In the evening Charlie Cunningham came in saying that he had had an accident at work – the second within a few weeks. I had a word with Cathal on the telephone. He is better – influenza, a relapse I think – and returns to work on Monday. He has been “burning the candle at both ends”. I suggested that he have a medical check-up. To my surprise he said he had done so a couple of years ago. It would be no harm to repeat the performance.
May 23 Friday: I came into the office at 7 am., finished the talk and then caught the 9.5 am. train to Oxford. Alf Ward met me at the station and ran me to Pembroke College where I called at the House of the Vice Regent, Dr Palczynski. After coffee we went to the room where about 18 graduate students and junior dons were assembled, Father McCabe also being there [Fr Herbert McCabe, 1926-2001, well-known Dominican priest and philosopher]. We occupied the “high table” of a refectory, which was raised on a platform at one end of a huge hall. John Maguire made himself known to me afterwards [sociologist; later an activist in the Irish peace and neutrality movement].And then I had lunch with Palczynski in the senior staff room or whatever it is called. Self-service has penetrated these rarified regions, so nowadays there is carbon tetrafluoride in the upper atmosphere! But nothing else has penetrated. Strange shrubs bloom as for six hundred years. The gardens are meticulously kept. There are “Keep Britain in Europe” stickers on notice boards and in Palczynski’s car. Britain in Europe, they think, means themselves out of the tribulations of the wicked world. “Let this go on”– so speaks the upper professional class. I returned to London and Charlie Cunningham and I went to Camden Town to hand out leaflets about Wednesday’s debate. There is a strike at the “Irish Post”, on which we were relying for an advertisement, so that we may not have a good attendance.
May 24 Saturday: I was busy in the office all day and again in the evening. Charlie Cunningham and I went to Camden Town. Toni Curran and Gerry Curran are not coming to the Oxford School. They say they have trouble about looking after Conor. But Pat O’Donohue, speaking to Jane Tate and caught off his guard, confessed that they were going to a “pop” concert at which The Dubliners were playing. I am afraid they have got young Banham on the same thing. Toni Curran assured me that he would be at Oxford and operate the film projector. But this seems extremely unlikely now. I would not be surprised if Brian Crowley was in it somewhere, though he seems definitely improved in some ways.
May 25 Sunday: I went to Oxford and Liam De Paor [UCD academic who wrote on the Northern Ireland problem] spoke on the archaeology of Dublin. I heard indirectly (through Ann Hope and Amphlett-Micklewright) that he also had spoken at the Troops Out Movement thing. Tony Coughlan told me that Mullen had sent a deputy to read out a script that Tony Coughlan had prepared, which completely contradicted Troops Out policy [Anthony Coughlan was then a lecturer on social policy at Trinity College and friendly with Michael Mullen arising from the latter’s involvement in Ireland’s anti-EEC Accession Treaty campaign in 1972]. It is surely all an elaborate means of bringing pressure on the SDLP. Michael Crowe was there, Pat Bond and Charlie Cunningham, but though Sean Kenny arrived, no Mark Clinton, and I did not expect him. He has drunk all the paper money and dare not show his face. He told Sean Kenny he was going to London and would come to Oxford from there[Mark Clinton and Sean Kenny were key Connolly Association activists in Birmingham].According to Kenny he was drunk for four days last week. Kenny is trying to get him away from Erdington. He is described as a “spoiled priest”. It is easy to see what spoiled him. Bannister also did not show up. I returned to London to finish some correspondence. Liam de Paor was saying on the way that in Dublin rumour has it that after June 3rd Merlyn Rees will resign and Benn will be got rid of in his job, a direct road to political extinction [ie. Tony Benn,1925-2014, Minister for Industry at the time and a leading Labour opponent of continuing EEC membership in Harold Wilson’s UK referendum on the following 5 June].
May 26 Monday: I returned to Oxford. But where were the Birminghams? After Tony Coughlan’s lecture I asked Barry Riordan [an Oxford CA member]. Apparently he had got drunk the night before, the bar at Ruskin [ie. Ruskin College] being in full spate till three in the morning. He blamed Pat Bond. “I was not drunk. I just wanted another drink, and he started pulling at my collar. I went berserk. ‘I said I don’t care if you all sleep in the street.’” So Kenny and the others went back to Birmingham. So what with Mark Clinton misbehaving, now Sean Kenny will be upset. And we cannot hold another school in Oxford. The two talks were good and everybody seemed satisfied. I returned to London with Charlie Cunningham and Tony Coughlan and after a bite we had a drink. Tony Coughlan tells me that the Roy Johnston who showed the pictures was not the inimitable ubiquitous one [ie. Dr RHW Johnston] but a Belfast man [ie. the artist of the same name].
May 27 Tuesday: I did some work on the paper and continued to arrange meetings for Tony Coughlan and Micheál O Loingsigh.
May 28 Wednesday: In the morning Micheál O Loingsigh arrived. Peter Kavanagh had a meeting arranged for him in the afternoon. A hundred men were present. All voted against the EEC but one. In the evening however our debate at the Irish Club was a total flop. Noel O’Connell, former president of the Irish Club, put the “for” case. He is a quiet pleasant man and by no means strongly European.
May 29 Thursday: I got some successful meetings for Micheál O Loingsigh and Tony Coughlan. But when I got to Hammersmith Town Hall for the West London Labour Party one only six people turned up for a hall which would hold 700. Of course we must appreciate that Hammy Donoghue’s conception of calling a meeting is having a drink with one or two cronies [Donoghue was a leading figure in the Labour Party-oriented Campaign for Democracy in Ulster]. He was very apologetic. But clearly there is no strong feeling on the issue, or the local Labour Party and Communist Party at least would have come. Tony Coughlan says that the vote in Ireland reflected the position of the parties exactly. This means, as I told him, that if one tenth of the Tories follow Powell [ie. Conservative MP Enoch Powell, who was advocating a No vote in the 1975 EEC referendum] and half the Labour supporters back Wilson, there will be a 70% for, 30% against. Anything better than that is a victory. But Charlie Cunningham, who has bet £10 on a “No” vote, is confident that there will be one.
May 30 Friday: I got on well with the paper. Micheál O Loingsigh went to a meeting in Hammersmith in the morning. The feeling on the building jobs is “No” – but these are those organised by Peter Kavanagh, that is to say by the “Left”. Still the results are very good. Walsh, a Waterford man, is the stewart at McAlpine’s [ie.the major construction firm]. At first, he was afraid that Micheál O Loingsigh was going to refer to internal Irish politics. But in the event he was reassured. Micheál’s wife is expecting another child, so he decided to fly back to Dublin only to find that there was a strike at the airport. I got him to ring Holyhead and he got himself a berth.
This evening Tony Coughlan spoke at a crammed meeting in Acton at which Tony Benn was present. After it was over he said to Benn, “I hope I’m not intruding unpleasant speculations, but there are rumours in Dublin that you are shortly to take over Merlyn Rees’s job. I think you would find it a very hot seat.” “I’m very well aware of the discomfort of that position,” replied Benn.
May 31 Saturday (Liverpool): I was in the office while they got ready the posters we are taking to Kilburn. Daltún O Ceallaigh arrived, dapper and efficient. He is a particular friend of Tony Coughlan’s and I think an excellent person. Then I left for Manchester. I reached the place where they were holding the social. Both Coates, Nolan and “Debbie” were there. Later Tommy Watters and his sister came. They have gone to look very old, and Tommy Watters indeed is quite bent. Belle Lalor, who organised the social, is better in health. I was to have said a few words but by the time I had to leave for the train there were only a handful of people present. Apparently there are a number of other things on and Vic Eddisford had commented on this. But I had called some time ago to 28 Hathersage Road [ie. the Manchester CPGB office] to be told there was not much on. But the man in charge of the city office was a temporary worker and possibly did not know. Belle Lalor was angry at some who had promised to come but did not show up. There were two new members however, and one of them seems promising, a young man from Longford. They are friends of Fanning in Irlam.
June 1 Sunday: I decided to go back to London for the meeting in Hyde Park [ie. advocating “Vote No” vote in the EEC referendum], but there were buses instead of trains between Lime Street and Crewe. I decided to go via Chester. The train was late starting. “The one through Helsby has been cancelled,” said the clerk. Soon I noticed we were passing through a cutting, and thence into unfamiliar landscapes. And we were taken to Helsby – it must be 50 years since I was there, or very near. And it was all fields from Little Sutton then. “Is anybody for the London train at Chester?” asked the guard. I said I was. So they telephoned to hold it. Twice again it was diverted, once through Coventry and then through Northampton.
The meeting was a great success, with Charlie Cunningham, Pat Bond, Gerry Currran, Tony Coughlan, Daltún O Ceallaigh and a dead quiet, most attentive audience. Then I came back.
June 2 Monday: In the afternoon Tony Coughlan arrived. I had been telephoned by Janice, Roy Johnston’s mistress, asking me to speak at a Wolfe Tone society meeting. They want to reprint my pamphlet (Marx House) on the National Question. But now there is a proposal to print instead a tape-recording of a talk. This I declined to have anything to do with and wrote to Cathal telling him of what had happened. “More of Roy’s nonsense” was Tony Coughlan’s comment. Later Daltún O Ceallaigh came and – Daltún’s aeroplane not flying – they both caught the boat.
June 3 Tuesday: I went to Ripley, and a wasted journey it was. I decided to take a taxi and get up there before lunch. There were three taxis parked outside the station, but no sign of a driver. I went to the office and one came out. “We’d forgotten about the passengers,” he laughed. “We were talking about the Common Market” [Harold Wilson’s referendum on staying in the EEC or leaving it being held on the Thursday two days later]. “Well, I am voting against it,” I declared. “That’s what I’ve been telling them to do.” But when I reached Ripley Terry Reynolds told me that the two pages I posted on Sunday in London had not arrived. They could not set anything I wrote because of the overtime ban. I agreed to their posting me the proofs for Friday, when I can make corrections over the telephone. But I had intended to go on holiday for a week on Thursday, so that went by the board. The cold weather, however, makes the proposal less alluring. There was snow in London yesterday, though Tony Coughlan and Daltún O Ceallaigh did not actually see it.
June 4 Wednesday: I did some work in the garden. There has been a drought and the seedlings are disappointing, and one tomato plant looks very sickly.
June 5 Thursday: I went to vote, then returned to the garden. The grass in the front has got out of hand. Thank the EEC campaign for that. I don’t think I was ever so busy. Pat Bond rang, saying there was friction and we needed a Standing Committee. I had three letters and a poem from Gerry Curran accusing me of having slighted Toni [ie. his wife]. The position there is that she is the Company Secretary but is interested in politics, not finance. This she pushes over to Pat O’Donohue. He does the work but has not the responsibility. The books are kept in Ealing. Periodically I explode over some particularly annoying consequences of this. And Pat Bond says Barry Riordan has sent a letter blaming him for the Oxford trouble. I had asked him to write and express his regret to Sean Kenny, who after all had to drive to Birmingham at midnight. But apparently he brazens it out.
June 6 Friday: I decided to await the result. It is a 67% Yes – three points better than I had calculated. But of course disastrous. I decided to go away on Sunday. The weather has suddenly become hot, with temperatures in the high seventies and bright sunshine. It did this in 1932.
June 7 Saturday: I spoke to Charlie Cunningham on the telephone. The papers have arrived. I told him it would not be a good issue. “Can you wonder?” he asked. I had a copy of “Hibernia” from Tony Coughlan. The NICRA had sent their new “Bill of Rights” and Hibernia congratulated them on being the first to draft one. They always ignore us. But Sean Redmond has a letter telling them about the Brockway and Latham effort [ie. a Bill of Rights, drafted by Greaves in proper parliamentary form and published by HM Stationery Office, had been introduced in the House of Commons and House of Lords on 12 May 1971. The concept of a Bill of Rights legislated for in London to impose reforms on Northern Ireland while leaving a Stormont legislature in place was first mooted by Greaves in a letter sent to Prime Minister Harold Wilson on behalf of the Connolly Association in August 1968, before the Northern Ireland “troubles” began.]
I have two generations of poppies in the garden. The new seedlings are about an inch high and last year’s in flower very early. I have been watching these very carefully. This is the first time I had them survive the winter. If you looked at them during the cold weather of March you would have said, “There is Meconopsis” [a blue poppy-like plant]. The leaves were very deeply indented. Now, even now, there is a touch of Meconopsis about the foliage, though the flowers are normal. They are borne on big handsome lusty plants with all the appearance of perennials. The frost nipped the shoots, but they had already branched. This led me to think about what kills annuals. If I had still got a microscope, I’d be slicing the stems to see if xylem is produced and how much [ie. tissue that transports water in vascular plants]. I presume it is. The whole matter seems one of transportation. I recall when I was doing measurements of leaves of Tropaeolum I found the lower the temperature the greater the indentation [ie. for a botany paper he wrote for the “North-Western Naturalist” as a teenager]. The relation of growth forms to genetics is also of interest. The modification of the transpiration system makes Papaver Somniferum [ie. the opium poppy] produce leaves like Meconopsis. Does the “gene for leaf” shape in Meconopsis operate through the transpiration system? [ie. where plants exude water through leaves]. Obviously there can be no gene for shape. I must have a word with Alan Morton about this.
June 8 Sunday (Cynnyd, County of Gwynedd, Wales): I set off in the morning on holiday, cycled to Heswall Hills, took the train to Penyffordd and started off towards Pontblydden. I had not gone half a mile in the dazzling sunshine when I remarked not only that there was nobody about, but that there was absolutely no traffic on the road. I proceeded. Is something wrong? What could it be? Finally I came to a notice at a junction – the road on the right down which I used to come to Pontblydden around 1926-27 when I used visit AAB [ie. an elderly relative] at Buckley. Just then a solitary car passed the obstruction and proceeded to Pontblydden. So I continued, only to find the bridge across the Alyn removed and an unsafe new structure in its place. Unfortunately, in dismounting I caught the turn-over top of my stocking in the saddle – but was little the worse. This is an accident that never happened before. So I went back to the Buckley junction, crossed the river at Llong (What kind of ship could have sailed, Heaven knows) [“Llong” is the Welsh word for ship]and went up through Nercwys and Llanarmon to Llandegla, Corwen and Cynnyd, where I stayed the night at the YHA [ie.the Youth Hostel Association].
Two elderly ladies were there, friends of the warden. They had been to Bangor to a meeting of veteran YHAs. The warden himself was one of these veterans, having been at Cynnyd since 1932 or thereabouts, though his wife was the warden at first. There were two boys from Liverpool who formed a little closed society of their own. The attention with which they both rivetted their eyes on the toasting of bread would have done credit to a blasting engineer with fifty thousand tons before him. They had a book on drugs and had collated a list of Welsh words and translations scribbled in very schoolboyish handwriting on a sheet of paper. They had river, and tree, and “sex”. Of course, the Welsh word had not the English meaning, but they were not to know that. There was also a German nursing sister with an immense rucksack.
June 9 Monday (Corris): I went to Bala, had lunch, then crossed the Bwlch y groes to Dinas Mawddwy. If I had consulted the handbook in time I would have gone to Dollgellau, for the place was closed. I cycled on to Machynlleth and rode up to Corris. The old man who was there in 1963 is there no more and an elderly woman has it. There were two Germans with a car and stacks of suitcases containing every conceivable amenity. Another German arrived, bemoaning the fact that no meals were available, but he had stacked up at the pub. The other two Germans had brought in bottles of Guinness (against the rules) and spoke between themselves in whispers lest the walls or the furniture might chance to understand German. There was a couple of couples from Mitcham, Surrey, very well-turned-out cyclists in immaculately tailored short pants and a tall girl in her early twenties who was the only human person present, or at least the only one you would feel the slightest curiosity about.
June 10 Tuesday (Blaencaron): The Germans were up with the lark and without making breakfast, even coffee, packed up all their vast belongings, deposited them in their car and waited for the warden. She asked them if they would sweep the dormitory. “Oh, we’ve done that,” they replied. She could do nothing, though she did not believe them. The other German was getting ready to slope off in the same way, but one of the Mitchams, winking at me, said, “I think the warden said something about doing the washroom.” I assented. I also thought she had. So we got him busy. In the meantime the tall girl was stalking the premises in a pair of the shortest possible jean-shorts and displaying the splendour of her tanned complexion. Then she changed into conspicuously patched jeans and went off looking for lifts. She would more likely have got them the first way.
I went as far South as Bow Street [a village in Cardiganshire] before turning off. There were more cyclists than usual. A Manchester man accompanied me awhile, constantly reiterating that he must telephone his wife, but she’d insist on his coming home. He had taken more time off than he should, but it was a pity to waste the fine hot weather we might not see again for years. I went through Capel Dewi and Capel Bangor (incidentally, there are six Bangors, not four. There is another on the borders of Pembroke) and came through Swydd Ffynwa to Tregaron.
There were two Stoke-on-Trents at Blaen Caron, and you’d have to smile at them. They had a car but did not use it except to get here. They would be in their early and middle thirties, one stocky and self-assertive but not without a native horse-sense, the other a deeper personality, rather like Chris Sullivan in appearance but insufficiently articulate for the things he was able to think of – both very much members of the working class. There was a continuous slight friction between them. The stocky one knew everything in his own estimation, but not in his companion’s.
At about 8.32 two girls came in. Or was it two boys? They went into the women’s room and talked and arranged. Then they went into the mens’. In the end it seems they were a boy and a girl, students at Lampeter, the girl very much the boss, and showing it by wearing a man’s hat and some species of jodhpurs. The boy wore well-creamed slacks which he covered with pineapple juice when the form which he was sitting on collapsed under him. They stayed together talking and talking in the women’s dormitory till about 11.30. The other thought he was there for the night and there were many smiles and nods. But he wasn’t. He was innocent as a new-born baby, I commented. “Aha,” says the stocky one, “but would you say she is?”
June 11 Wednesday: “Every morning we’re the last to leave,” the stocky one indignantly turned on his companion, whose fault it was supposed to be. They fooled about in the most aimless fashion, each blaming the other for the delay. Then they took binoculars and went bird-watching. The students went to Ty’n Cornel. I went into Tregaron and then for a walk up the mountains. An immensely tall cyclist arrived in the evening, with his wife. He saw cirrus. “Ice crystals,” he declared, “There’ll be a break in the weather within twelve hours.” I thought perhaps he had been in the RAF. He had lived in Co. Sutherland and now was in the Chilterns, but I would say he was from the North. Though they have a car they had cycled from Hertfordshire. The high price of petrol seems to have encouraged people who prefer a bicycle but, being typical Englishmen, must give an economic reason, for this alone is always acceptable. I started working on some ideas for the future. Already I feel considerably better in health and the cold is clearing up. I thought I would hasten to put in my “document” to 16 King Street, reply to the mistakes in the Russian’s article in the “Irish Review”, sketch the Shields’s book synopsis, get Krause’s letters and start on Sean O’Casey, and finally suggest to Michael Mullen that we discuss terms for my doing the Union history with Kader Asmal. I must prepare to hand the “Irish Democrat” to somebody else.
June 12 Thursday: The two Stoke-on-Trents were at it hammer and tongs in the morning. The car-less ones told me for two pins he’d let the other drive off without him. But it was not a matter of driving. He walked off with the binoculars to try and find a red kite. I went up the mountain and found a deep pool to plunge into, the weather not having broken at all.
When I got back there was still better entertainment. The car-less one had bought a tin of Irish stew, which the stocky one said was terrible and that he would not eat it.
“It’s perfectly good, only it’s not very nice-looking. If you won’t eat it, I will.”
“It’s not up to standard.”
“There’s nothing wrong with it at all.”
“If I ate that, I’d be sick in the night. You wouldn’t like that.”
“I’ve a perfectly good sense of taste and smell. If that was off, I’d not eat it myself.”
“I’ve a sensitive stomach. I can’t eat old food.”
“Well, what about the mutton you bought?”
“I didn’t eat it.”
“And the bacon?”
“I didn’t eat that.”
“But you bought them. You didn’t know the difference.”
“All I’m saying is that I won’t eat second-class food. That food’s second class or it’s old. That’s supposed to be Irish stew. Do you think an Irishman would eat it?”
“Well, I’ll eat it.”
“That’s what I’m saying. You’ll eat old food. I won’t.”
“And that makes you better than me, Eh?”
“I’m not saying that. I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s old. It’s second class, and I’m not eating it.”
“Well of course if you’ve such a sensitive stomach. “
“I’ve not a sensitive stomach. I’m only saying that’s second-class.”
“You say I’ll eat old food and you won’t. Yet you’re the one who has several weeks off every year with stomach trouble. If you haven’t a sensitive stomach, how is it that I’m not ill eating old food and you’re ill eating new?”
“It’s nothing to do with the food. Sometimes I drink too much beer”.
And so they went on. But though the car driver rammed in his point by sheer repetition, the other had more sense. He told me his “mate” was hard to contend with. He also said he was against the EEC, which was “only for the benefit of the rich men”. Later on the children came back from Ty’n Cornel.
June 13 Friday (Dinas Mawddwy): There was another dispute between the pottery-men over who was the cause of all the delay. But I left. It was definitely cooler. I would say by evening it was 20’ cooler. I went through Pontrhydfendigaid and Llandbedrarn Fawr to Machynllith and Dinas Mawddwy. There is a new warden, the wife of the “new policeman”. I was the first there. But later there came in a blonde young fellow whom I took to be German from the occasional odd syntax and who addressed me unintelligibly when he came in. I asked him twice to repeat himself.
“Do you speak English?”, he asked.
“I do when it’s spoken to me,”
“Thank you!”, he said – the “th” being perfect. But still I thought he was German and from his unshaven, slightly slovenly appearance I said to myself, obviously a German of the worst sort. He displayed what I thought was arrogance. He asked questions, shouted them from the next room indeed, but I made him come in and ask properly before I would reply. He occasionally gave vent to semi-religious songs which he roared out at the top of his voice, looking furtively over to see if I was still reading “The Times”. He went for a wash. Perhaps he was American, I said, in which case it was not so bad – they are the greatest “exhibitionists” on earth. He came out of the washroom naked but for some tiny briefs, covered himself in lather and proceeded to dance a jig. He wiggled his limbs and told me he was performing a double action. . . Then the warden was seen through the window and there was never such a precipitate retreat behind a closed door. “There’s a man in there,” said I, “And I wouldn’t be surprised if he was off his head.”
He appeared a few minutes later clad in white singlet and shorts, seemingly quite indifferent to his unconventional dress. The warden gave me a smile and a broad wink as she went out. Then he was counting the money. She had given him too much change. “As long as she didn’t give you too little …”, said I. “Oh no – I want to pay for what I get.”
He then asked me politely to show him where we were on the map. He did not know. I had explained the pound/pence system when he was talking about shillings. Then he referred to a rood as 100 centimetres. He was South African. His name was Wilson. His mother’s was Bell. They were of Scotch extraction and had a crest to prove it. He might even have some Welsh blood. He could pronounce some of the words when they were explained to him. Later I was sneezing and he brought me an orange. “Very good for a cold,” he explained and turned in.
June 14 Saturday (Liverpool): It was markedly colder again today. A working party had arrived but the young South African slept on while the workmen thumped down planks and joints on the floor. I left at about 9 am. and cycled back over the Bwlch y groes, had lunch in Balla, and carried on through Llandegla to Ponthyddlyddn, crossed the Alyn at Llong and took the train from Buckley Station. Buckley is of course transformed out of recognition.
June 15 Sunday: It was still chilly and I seemed to have got the cold back. But I got a few things done.
June 16 Monday: I did quite a bit in the garden. It has been a bad season and there are beds where all I can do is plant potatoes. There was a letter from Mabel Taylor [a maternal aunt] saying that her operation for cataract may be next week.
June 17 Tuesday (London): I caught the early train to London and went into the office where there was not much. Pat Bond had called a meeting in the evening, though he had not indicated any time or confirmed it with me. I am supposed to know these things by telepathy. Something has been going on in London since I left and as I anticipated, Gerry Curran’s wild letters proved a smokescreen for Toni’s benefit. They all arrived and sat uneasily. Pat Bond wanted to suggest arrangements for the Standing Committee and one or two other things. I had indicated in my letter to Toni Curran that provoked the storm – a quite civil letter if firm – that after August 3rd I was not prepared to be Secretary of the Connolly Association. I had connected this with her failure to act as Company Secretary. She has been a fiasco. She rang me up a year ago saying she was only going to do work she was interested in and Pat O’Donohue would do the accounts. His idea is to present a balance and leave it at that, taking a slightly cynical joy in the debts. So little had she done that this winter we had three letters from the Registry of Companies threatening to cut us off the register if we did not file returns. I am at present living on the Maguire legacy in lieu of salary. I have asked her repeatedly to ascertain the National Health and Pension position, but nothing has been done. The “Irish Times” has been cut off for several months because she has not paid the bill. I think she paid last week, though she says last month.
Well, she sat down with guilty conscience written all over her face – Pat O’Donohue somewhat sulky and more ill-tempered than usual. Jane Tate and Charlie Cunningham, being in the office and having taken their share of the burden and knowing how we have been let down, were more at ease. Toni Curran announced her intended resignation as Company Secretary and I did not attempt to deter her. She wants to come on the Standing Committee and of course she has an important contribution to make. Then they wanted to employ young Steve Banham for three months. He had £36 a week last year and was prepared to waive inflation. I suggested £40 and they agreed amid general lamentations on his impending poverty, though he will not pay tax. They thus gaily agreed to pay a boy of 18 £18 pounds a month more than they pay me! I said nothing of course, for I had provided myself with a rod in pickle.
Nevertheless, for the first time since I took on work for the “Irish Democrat” I have an impelling desire to get out of it. There was a letter from Jack Woddis [Leading CPGB official responsible for international affairs]. Somebody must have been moaning that while demanding the total repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, we had proposed what they thought were “amendments”. I telephoned him and told him I proposed to provide them with a memorandum. I shall say what I think should be done, as Betty Sinclair suggested. Then we will see what they do. He said that Dublin had suggested a further meeting in Belfast on 29th July and had requested my presence. I have notions for resolving the crux over the “declaration of intent”[This was a call for a British Government commitment to a policy of eventual withdrawal from Ireland, the mode and timing of which should be agreed with the Irish Government – a policy that Greaves and the Connolly Association were advocating, as against the Troops Out Movement’s demand for an immediate troop withdrawal, which would have left civil war and mayhem behind. It was also envisaged as a development which, if achieved,would induce the Provisional IRA to call off its military campaign]. But I can’t get out of London quick enough and am determined to sever my connection with the place – if I’m spared, as they say.
June 18 Wednesday: I was in the office all day and wrote to Tony Coughlan , Stella Bond, Gordon McLennan, John McClelland and others. Stella Bond was there, as usual the soul of sanity and common sense. Barry Riordan’s letter was here in which he says he was not drunk on the night he went “berserk” while “relaxing”. “Hm,” says Stella, “but he was sick in Paddy’s car.” We wrote to Eddisford about the Manchester papers [ie. trying to get sales of the “Irish Democrat” in Manchester] and I wrote to Frank Watters about Mark Clinton. He owes us £160. He admits he hasn’t the money but has “lent” it to people (drunk it, I say) and in general is behaving like a very pleasant and likeable feeble crock. One can well see how he became a “spoiled priest”. He was too fond of booze.
June 19 Thursday: I went into the office at about 8.30 and was there till I went to see Jack Woddis. I had yesterday written to Gordon McLennan [ie. the CPGB general secretary] inviting him to speak at the meeting following the march on August 3rd. I saw on Jack Woddis’s table my letter, with McLennan’s note,” I’m able, but we should put it to the Political Committee.” Woddis told me that they had discussed it this morning and decided that the demonstration was not desirable, as it was in the midst of the holiday period and the preparatory period was too short. I told him that they had not been asked their opinion on this matter but had been invited to send McLennan as a speaker. I added that I had ascertained from Bill Dunn that there was no clashing demonstration and had been promised his support. “But Gerry Cohen said he had told you he was against it.” “Gerry Cohen,” said I, “never had two seconds of conversation with me about it.” “Then it must have been Bill Dunn.” “Strange,” I replied, that Bill Dunn did not say this to me when we discussed it this morning.” “Ah – well, perhaps I misunderstood him.” “I know exactly what happened,” I said, “somebody on the committee started pouring cold water on it and they all followed.” Woddis laughed. But this is where he is so inferior to R.Palme Dutt: He would never defy an anti-imperialist initiative [Dutt used be in charge of CPGB international affairs policy before Jack Woddis]. I told him that I wanted them to change their position. We were committed to do this. The arrangements had been delayed because of the referendum. But this was the fifth anniversary of internment, and if we didn’t act, somebody else would. He is going away tomorrow so I undertook to write to Gordon McLennan and speak to him on Monday. When I got back, I did write.
Then I asked what this nonsense was about allegations that we were proposing the retention and amendment of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Who was raising it? “A number of people in the movement.” And Irene Brennan at the head of them, thought I [Irene Brennan was a member of the CPGB Executive. She was sympathetic to the Official Republicans and their British support group Clann na hEireann and hostile to the Connolly Association]. So I told him that I bet it was nobody in danger of police raids, but people who could affect to sit comfortably through the next six months of harassment. Incidentally Sugrue [who owned or managed an Irish pub] was raided in Shepherd’s Bush on the pretext that collections for the IRA were being taken. His premises were gone through with a fine-toothed comb and he has been forced to ban all paper sales. I told him that we wanted immediate administrative action to control the police and also that some of our complainants might get their wish next November, as I had heard that Jenkins [ie. Home Secretary Roy Jenkins]proposed to let the Act lapse and introduce a new one, making some of the features of the Prevention of Terrorism Act permanent. He gave me a copy of the resolution for the next Congress and I promised to send suggested amendments [ie. for the political resolution on Ireland at the upcoming CPGB congress]. And I would go to Belfast.
He was clearly worried over the “movement”. Seemingly, the CPI is pressing him. “O’Riordan wants us to set up an Irish Committee,” he said, “but I don’t think it would have much effect.” He said they would welcome my memorandum. “I wish we could get some person to work on it all. Of course you’ll agree with me, the Connolly Association for reasons of past history can’t be the movement. It can be part of it, of course.” I told him I did not agree that things should be put that way, but that he would see in my memorandum what I thought. I do not really expect them to do what I want. But whether they do or not will have its bearing on how long I remain in London. It must be said that the conversation was very cordial and if I spoke my mind plainly, it was only because to speak it otherwise would be to limit communication.
Back in the office, I saw Charlie Cunningham and we got out some circulars. The Electricity Board man came with an ultimatum for £47 which Toni Curran had not paid. She fell down on the job completely.
Returning to the conversation with Jack Woddis, he was bemoaning the fact that the Troops Out Movement got 400 at their conference [This was an organisation controlled by the ultra-left which wanted the British Government unilaterally to set a date for withdrawing its troops from Northern Ireland]. I criticised the “Morning Star” for boosting them and I told him that it was my firm conviction that the reply to “Troops Out” was the Declaration of Intent and that by avoiding this they had handed over the anti-imperialist position to Lawless [ie. the Trotskyite Gery Lawless]. He said he has put a declaration of some such sort in the resolution but was prepared to strengthen it along lines I suggested if necessary [ie. the resolution for the upcoming party conference]. So that was satisfactory enough. Pat Bond has his London International Committee tomorrow evening, so I invited him to come and see me tomorrow before he goes to it.
June 20 Friday: In the office all day and started on the paper. I had told Pat O’Donohue that I proposed to try to reduce the debt on the “Democrat”. This is part of the aim to free my hands so that I can get out if necessary. He rang and wished me luck very sceptically, thus revealing the complete bankruptcy of himself and Toni Curran on this front. I will look first to expenditure, then to income. In the afternoon Pat Bond called. He is going to Irene Brennan’s committee tonight and wanted to know the result of my talk with Jack Woddis. I was out with Charlie Cunningham and a couple of new youngsters, a London-Irish boy, JP O’Connor, and an Englishman, Steve Huggett, who drove us in his car. O’Connor is something of a Lenny Draper – can’t hold down a job, but is intelligent in a somewhat loose way.
June 21 Saturday: Pat Bond rang me up. There had been no interest in our demonstration [ie. at the meeting of the CPGB’s International Affairs Committee which Bond had attended]. But a letter was read out from Clann na hEireann saying that they had discussed with Irene Brennan the holding of a two-day conference in October which would not be on a political theme but range over everything. They wanted the Communist Party to act as co-sponsors. Pat Bond annoyed Tom Durkin by saying that it should be referred to 16 King Street. He thinks Irene Brennan has cooked it up and would be very active in promoting it. They talk about inviting me to talk on Connolly, as if that would help. In the absence of a political centre it would simply be a talking shop to keep Clann na hEireann alive. But I told Pat Bond I did not think it would do much harm, and indeed Clann na hEireann would be kept off worse mischief.
Steve Banham came in. He is to do vacation work with us for the next three months. I hope it is not money down the drain. Pat O’Donohue came in and said they had paid the electricity bill earlier this week.
June 22 Sunday: I was in the office and got some work done on the paper. Later I was out with Charlie Cunningham.
June 23 Monday (Liverpool): I rang 16 King Street to speak to Gordon McLennan. He was not there and would not be back until late afternoon. He would thus not yet have seen my letter urging the Political Committee to reconsider its position. So I came to Liverpool. When it last rained I do not remember, and everything is parched with the drought.
June 24 Tuesday: I worked on the paper and got on reasonably, since I am away from that telephone. I spoke to Gordon McLennan, who said he was bringing up my letter on Thursday. Jack Woddis had, I think, made similar representations. But why did he not make a stand when it was first discussed? It seems to me that they would very much wish the Irish question would “go away” of its own accord. As John Gollan and I walked together to Leicester Square last Thursday I said, “There’s no daylight, yet.”
“No, I was rather hoping that this new atmosphere of accord in the Assembly was a sign of a return to reason.”
“It might mean that the Unionists had what they wanted.”
“A single report to the British Government.”
He was not concerned with what the settlement was, only that it would simplify the matter by taking the Irish question out of British politics once more. And this appears to him the most natural thing on earth because during the whole of his political lifetime it has in fact been excluded from British politics.
June 25 Wednesday: I had rung Frank Watters on Monday about the money Mark Clinton owes us[Watters was the CP official in Birmingham]. “Mick Ryan will have to come out of the YCL.” Today I heard that Pat Bond had telephoned Mark Clinton who was talking about paying £20 a week and wanted Pat Bond to tell me. I am sceptical however. It is more than he has the capacity to do. He obviously has no self-control and like people without self-control he goes to extremes in expectation. Meanwhile, Frank Watters seems to have moved fast for he told Stella Bond that Mick Ryan was going to send a workload – or rather I think Mick Ryan told Stella Bond this – to London. I worked on the paper.
June 26 Thursday: I was busy on the paper all day. We still do not know whether Gordon McLennan can come and speak on August 3rd. Jock Stallard will be out of London [AW “Jock” Stallard,1921-2008, was Labour MP for Camden and St Pancras].
June 27 Friday: I finished the paper yesterday and could thus spend today in the garden – I have to water it day and night. Even quite sturdy plants are suffering from the drought.
June 28 Saturday: In the evening I went to Manchester to Mick Jenkins’s retirement social. On the way it struck me why the “Morning Star” would not publish my article against the Troops Out Movement. They do not want to contradict Joan Maynard in public [She was a Labour MP involved with the Troops Out Movement]. They don’t understand the Irish question and are determined that British interests must not be needlessly sacrificed for it.
At the social I saw Mick Jenkins and then had a chat and a drink with Gordon McLennan. He told me that the Political Committee had reversed its previous decision and offered full support for August 3rd! It is possible that he will be better than John Gollan on the Irish question. Certainly he could not be more affable. Not, of course, that Gollan would not be either. Gradually I am forming the notion of putting on to them a very comprehensive document which might produce a decisive change.
I had the longest talk with Tommy Watters, whom I found held opinions virtually identical with my own [Watters was a veteran Connolly Association member in Manchester]. I told him I had sent in 22 suggested alterations to Woddis’s resolution. He was pleased that they had moved towards the “Declaration of Intent”. McLennan told me he had sent a copy to Michael O’Riordan. “We’re having another meeting with them and we’d like you to be present,” he said. Tommy Watters introduced me to Syd Abbott [a former CPGB activist in Manchester]. Yes – “introduced” – for I did not recognise him. They say he is very much better. But what a thing to bring oneself to – drugs to keep awake, alcohol to promote sleep. He is a wreck of a man. I think his brain is too far damaged to allow it to rile him. But who is to know when he can hardly communicate? Eddie Frow was there and Ben Ainley, looking sheepish. The wonderful conference for which they wrecked the Connolly Association a year ago and scundered Lenny Draper out of the town, has never taken place. Stan Cole also spoke defensively. He wanted me to meet his wife. I was going anyway and did not want to be too gracious, so regretted I was in such a hurry. He also knows the mess he has made. And I think that Woddis’s parting appeal to me to say something in the memorandum about the movement shows that he too feels none too sure of himself.
June 29 Sunday: It was another warm dry day which I spent in the garden, which is gradually being brought nearer to rights.
June 30 Monday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs. Reynolds told me he has pay a thirty-three and a third percent wage increase and urged me to increase the price of the paper.
July 1 Tuesday: I went to the TGWU conference at Blackpool, but Cassidy and Peter Kavanagh whom I had arranged to meet, did not appear to be there.
July 2 Wednesday: Again a day in the garden. I decided to go to Dublin on Saturday and do as much business as possible. I was wondering what was the basis of the Northern Ireland CP tendency to brush aside the Connolly Association and demand action from the CPGB, as if the Connolly Association were not doing anything. I have often observed that Northern Ireland politicians come over here not to get something done, but to show their own supporters at home what they are doing. They can then blame others for the lack of result. At present the Northern Ireland Communist Party is allied to the “Officials”. To have the CPGB doing something, especially some big Vietnam-campaign-like mass demonstration, strengthens their position with Official Sinn Fein. That the Connolly Association should do it does not, because Sinn Fein [ie. “Official” Sinn Fein led by Cathal Goulding and Tomás MacGiolla] regards the Connolly Association as a rival, whereas the CP is not.
July 3 Thursday: I made myself thoroughly unpopular with Fred Brown today. There is a splendid crop of strawberries and I have installed a £5 net to keep the birds off them. Yet twice a blackbird has got itself trapped inside and once got out. This time the same bird was well entrapped and I bumped it off. I lost the whole crop to them last year. But Fred Brown now emerges as a “bird lover” and tells me Jean gives lectures on birds. That is therefore why she puts food out for them and encourages them to come and peck the place till it is barren. The man in Borough Road has bought two catchers. Brown is afraid they will catch the birds. I wouldn’t worry too much about that if they hadn’t unpleasant ways of their own, such as defecating in my bean rows.
I wrote to Pat Bond, Toni Curran, Michael Mullen, Tony Coughlan and Cathal.
July 4 Friday: I got some more work done in the garden, since the dry weather continues. Indeed, I can scarcely remember when it last rained, and I am using the hose every day.
July 5 Saturday (Dublin): Getting ready to go to Dublin on the day boat I found £6 in a pocket that I had forgotten about. Going into a wineshop to take a bottle with me, I put down some Irish money I had kept from my last visit. When I replaced it with English and remarked that I was on my way, the assistant took several Irish coins. I offered to exchange them. She refused. “No,” she said, “keep them for luck.” And indeed there was luck, for the crossing was delightful and as I got off I saw waiting for me Cathal, Tony Coughlan, Daltún O Ceallaigh and Muriel Saidlear – by some referred to as Tony’s “mott”, though not by Tony, who would apart from anything else be far too genteel to use such an expression [“Mott”, a Dublinism, generally thought to be a derivative of “mate”]. When we reached 24 Belgrave Road I learned that Helga was in Galway with Beibhinn and Killian, Conor was in Germany and the twins on a cycling expedition in County Wexford. Terence McCaughey soon appeared, followed by Kader Asmal. Terence went early. To somebody who protested he rejoined, “You haven’t got to preach a sermon tomorrow morning.” [Terence McCaughey was a Presbyterian clergyman as well as lecturer in Irish at TCD.] When Cathal took Asmal home I accompanied them and took the opportunity of telling Asmal of my negotiations with Michael Mullen. It was agreed that if asked to advise on an agreement with the ITGWU, he would do so. When we got back Alisoun Morton was there. There seems to be some doubt whether she will be able to stay next year, according to Cathal. But it is hoped that she will find something.
July 6 Sunday: In the morning Janice came in from next door but one, pressing one of Roy’s nonsenses urging me to speak to the Wolfe Tone Society. She told me that the split involving the IRSPs had injured the sales of the “Irish Socialist”, which had fallen by a third [a reference to the Irish Republican Socialist Party which had been established by Seamus Costello following his expulsion from Official Sinn Fein/IRA]. She (or probably Roy) suggested a change of name. Cathal did not go to Bodenstown this year. There were four separate ceremonies – Republican Official and Provisional, Fianna Fail and IRSP. Cathal went off cycling with Daltún O Ceallaigh, but before he left Seamus O Tuathail came to advise them on their projected holiday in Brittany. He had been in the USA and was very impressed by computers which could at two minutes notice provide everything that had appeared in the New York papers on Ireland or anything else. He thought this would be the home of a great philosophy [Seamus O Tuathail had been editor of the Official Sinn Fein monthly, the “United Irishman”]. Daltún O Ceallaigh foresaw all the clerical work being taken out of research. I had my doubts of both propositions but said nothing.
When they were out Egon MacLiam and Finula MacLiam came back. They will be 17 on Wednesday, I think. So I undertook to take them to the O’Casey play at the Abbey.
July 7 Monday: I telephoned Michael Mullen in the morning but learned that he had already left for the ICTU at Cork. I met Tony Coughlan for lunch and when we encountered him accidentally we were joined by Terence McCaughey. Tony Coughlan and I decided to go to Cork on Wednesday. Terence McCaughey is a friend of Elsie O’Dowling and is very concerned at her proposal to retire to a cottage in Galway which somebody in America has given her. Indeed it is near Clifden. He thought she should sell it and instead buy one in County Donegal where she would be among people she knows. She will be 80 in November and obviously cannot expect her good health to continue indefinitely. In the evening we brought my bicycle from Tony Coughlan’s and Egon kept me up till 3 am. asking questions about Cathal’s youth. I am very favourably impressed by the development of the twins [ie. Egon MacLiam and his sister Finula]. Of course they have left childhood behind them. Egon is determined to try to be an architect. Finula, who is interested in politics, has not yet decided.
July 8 Tuesday: I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and then saw Michael O’Riordan. We had quite a useful talk. He agrees with my proposal for an Anglo-Irish Trade Union Liaison committee. He still presses his point for an Irish Committee in London, but I would be afraid it would get into the clutches of Irene Brennan. She, Michael O’Riordan told me, had visited Belfast at John Gollan’s request, it being particularly asked that she should sit in at an executive meeting. “We let her into one,” said O’Riordan, “but we kept her out of the others.” Then she started criticising them. But Michael O’Riordan does not see the significance of the Connolly Association and if he and the others had done so, the history of the past few years might have been very different. Tony Coughlan is talking about writing a history of the Connolly Association. I am advising him to get it academically sponsored, or he will have to heed all manner of interests and the truth will never be known [Anthony Coughlan did an initial draft of this history, without academic sponsorship, but did not seek to have it published].
July 9 Wednesday: I omitted to note that yesterday morning I met O’Maille at the Gresham and discussed raising the issue of Casement again. He told me that he was with Mackey the night before he died and remembered thinking how tired he looked [Dr Herbert Mackey was a Dublin medical man who interested himself in Casement and his diaries]. He was 66. He is convinced that he died as a result of disappointment at the shabby treatment he had from the Fianna Fail Government. He had his wish in the return of the remains, but Wilson [ie. Prime Minister Harold Wilson] stipulated that they should not be interred anywhere in the Six Counties and that there should be no further requests for the examination of the diaries.
This morning Tony Coughlan and I went to Cork and went to the City Hall where the ICTU was meeting. What a contrast with England. Donal Nevin saw us, welcomed us, and offered to go into the hall and bring out any delegate we wanted to speak with. Yet he is a “right winger” who spends most of his time in Brussels. He looked very smart, but old. He told me he suffers from an affection of the colon and does not enjoy good health. And of course nearly thirty years have gone by since he was at the Statistics Office and we used to meet in the early days of the Irish Workers League.
We found Betty Sinclair, and Michael Mullen who took us a lunch at the Imperial [One of Cork’s leading hotels]. He used to be the leading official of the catering section of the ITGWU and the management gave us all a very adequate free lunch. We got the business out of the way early. The Union wants me to write its history and he favours separate volumes so that it can be continued. He had spoken to Roddy Connolly, who had suggested McInerney (Can you imagine it!) but senior officials, including Kennedy, preferred CDG [Michael McInerney was political correspondent of the “Irish Times” at the time. He had been the first editor of “Irish Freedom”, organ of the Connolly Clubs, in 1939]. I then suggested that Asmal draw up an agreement. “Of course,” said Mullen, “We don’t want to make any money out of it. But you’ll make money; after all you’re entitled to be paid.” So there was a present in principle.
I had told Betty Sinclair about “firing the shot” and she laughed after comparison with Billy McCullough’s action in 1965 [McCullough, a friend and colleague of Betty Sinclair’s and Chairman of the Belfast Trades Council, had used this phrase when saying that the Trades Council would call a conference on civil liberties in May that year]. It is no harm to have some kind of prospect of a secure rear. Betty Sinclair left early to visit an oil refinery, but Michael Mullen stayed with us all afternoon and invited us to a reception. “By the way,” I asked, as we freshened ourselves up in the hotel, “who’s receiving us?” “I am,” he said. It was very useful to be there and meet some of his members. He regretted Betty Sinclair’s going abroad and we hinted he should find a job for her [She went to work for a time with the “World Marxist Review” in Prague]. But he did definitely ask if Cathal would like a job as West of Ireland organiser.
After the reception, we returned to stay the night at Jim O’Regan’s in Sunday’s Well [Jim O’Regan was a former International Brigader in Spain who was imprisoned in Britain during World War 2 for IRA activity and became an influential figure in Cork republican and leftwing circles for decades; he was a personal friend of Desmond Greaves, who normally stayed with O’Regan and his mother when he visited Cork]. He is in good health, but surely the smoking will kill him [as indeed later happened].
July 10 Thursday: At last the weather has broken and the rain was already down until we passed Thurles. I went to Kevin and Howlins and bought a suit. Then I called into Michael O’Riordan to tell him I had asked Tony Coughlan on the train whether he ever thought of going in with him. I thought it no harm if O’Riordan knew this, though I hope he does not try to hurry him [Presumably to join the CPI. O’Riordan made no such approach and Coughlan remained uncommitted]. I also wanted to tell him about Cathal. Later I spoke to Cathal, who was very pleased and got the full details from Tony Coughlan, or such as there were.
July 11 Friday (Liverpool): I left for Liverpool and once more had quite a reasonable crossing.
July 12 Saturday (London): After picking strawberries, raspberries and loganberries I came to London and went with Steven Huggett – hybrid London Irish but very interested – his cousin still in Garrison, County Fermanagh, a place I know well from the olden days) and Jim Costello in Huggett’s car.
July 13 Sunday: We had a Standing Committee this morning, without Jane Tate who is away and without Toni Curran who had talked of coming, but she is in Ireland. Pat Bond told me of a conversation with Jack Henry. He had been talking with Irene Brennan. “I will have nothing whatsoever to do with Clann na hEireann,” said Henry and added, “Do you know who you’re dealing with?”
“Do you know who you’re dealing with in the Connolly Association?” asked Irene Brennan. “Yes, I do,” Henry replied, “I’ve known them for years and years.” But, says Pat Bond, the grand Clann na hEireann conference has not been spoken of more. I spoke in Hyde Park with Charlie Cunningham, Pat Bond and others.
July 14 Monday (Liverpool): I found that though I had left detailed instructions, virtually nothinghas been done since I went away. And we are paying Steve Banham £40 a week. Pat Bond apologised for the lack of results. He has worked hard and no doubt so have Banham and Stella Bond. But they are paralyzed by the inability to take decisions and so go on barking up the wrong tree while there’s any bark left on it. I went to Liverpool in the evening to get peace for the “shot”[ie. for writing the memorandum he had decided to submit to the CPGB Political Committee on the Declaration of Intent demand].
July 15 Tuesday: I spent the whole day on the memorandum. Yesterday I was in touch with Gordon McLennan. He proposed that Irene Brennan should represent the CPGB at our meeting. As Pat Bond said, none of them are interested in it and they have pushed it onto Irene Brennan, who is interested but doesn’t understand it, and is too stupid and conceited to realise her limitations. I objected and he tried everybody in the building. Then he undertook to ask Dunn in Kent. But I fear we may end up with Irene Brennan, who will convey the impression that the CPGB favours Clann na hEireann.
July 16 Wednesday (London): I spent the morning on the memorandum, which is shaping, but did not finish it by the time I had to leave for London where the Central London Branch meeting was held. Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Steve Huggett and others were there. It is slightly better.
July 17 Thursday: I spent the whole day on the memorandum. Jack Dromey came in [Dromey was also involved with the building trade unions and the London Association of Trades Councils at the time]. I asked him about getting speakers on to his building site about the demonstration. He replied that they would only accept members of the GLA delegation so as to “keep it Union to Union”[ie. linked to the Greater London Association of Trades Councils]. I suspect Durkin is behind this [ie. Tom Durkin, a CPGB member who was on the Brent Trades Council but was unsympathetic to the Connolly Association’s policy line]. He and Irene Brennan would like to create a substitute for the Connolly Association. But I said nothing. Charlie Cunningham came in.
July 18 Friday: I had to continue the duplication of the memorandum where Jane Tate left off. Then in the evening was off to Camden Town with two new youngsters. The one who behaves as the younger, though he is 24, Is JP O’Connor, London-Irish, with a wild beard and skull cap. He stammers badly, lives with his parents and can’t hold down a job. The other, Eddie Cowman, is from Wexford, a good-looking intelligent young man of about 22, knowledgeable and political. He has not yet joined but is a friend of Jim Cosgrave’s. Both were with the “Officials” but have advanced beyond it. We met Jock Stallard, who said he might be able to speak on August 3rd after all, as Parliamentary business was behindhand. In the afternoon, I spoke at a building site in Uxbridge.
June 19 Saturday: I did a little more duplicating. Both Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate have gone away on holiday. The usual people came in and I was out with Jim Kelly.
July 20 Sunday: I spent all day duplicating the memorandum, which runs to thirteen foolscap pages. I made about sixteen proposals. (1) These criticised the Irish plank in the “British Road to Socialism”, which should be rewritten totally as the present one is based on a fallacy [The “British Road to Socialism” was the CPGB’s official policy programme]. To the best of my recollection it came from Harry McShane. (2) That there should be top-level discussions in depth over the formulation of constitutional policy between the British and Irish parties. (3) We should ask for more information on the CPI attitude to the Assembly. (4) The party press and especially the “Morning Star” should deal more satisfactorily with “Troops Out” slogans. I did not mention the fact that they did not publish the article I sent them or offer any explanation. Put the policy and let those who won’t differ. (5) Steps should be taken to induce the British TUC to invite fraternal delegates from the ICTU. (6) There should be set up an Anglo-Irish Trade Union Liaison committee at top level. (7) They should support a Connolly Association meeting during TUC week. (8) Ramelson should hold a departmental meeting to discuss the possibility of a top Trade Union delegation to Belfast and Dublin, and a joint meeting of the British and Irish TUCs [Bert Ramelson was CPGB industrial organiser]. (9) Industrial affiliations to the NCCL should be encouraged. (10) The students should issue speakers’ notes for the universities. (11) “Marxism Today” should carry articles explaining Irish immigration and the character of the community. (12) There should be support for a Connolly Association Conference on “the lump” and economic problems of the Irish [“The lump” was an exploitative practice in the building trade where workers were regarded as self-employed rather than employees for payment and tax purposes]. (13) There should be support for our lobby on 4th November. (14) There should be measures to strengthen the Connolly Association. (15) The London District Committee should hold an international meeting next year with Michael O’Riordan, Gordon McLennan and others. (16) That an attempt be made to bring together the organisations of the conference eighteen months ago and draw in the Greater London Association of Trades Councils.
I was out in the evening with the papers, Steve Huggett driving us in his car. We did quite well and in the afternoon we were in Hyde Park. Tony O’Donnell and I were the only speakers. He is another young fellow we’ve got, very intelligent indeed, and a friend of Jim McDonald. Irene Brennan’s committee met on Friday. The proposal for a joint conference with Clann na hEireann has gone to the Political Committee. I hope my memorandum has trumped that particular one by means of proposal No.16. It is interesting that Tom Durkin suggested that we invite Jack Dromey to speak on the 3rd. I thought this might help heal the rift with the NCCL and bring us closer to the Geater London Association of Trades Councils. Eddie Cowman commented that Jimmy Stewart had brushed aside his suggestion that there was a “radical nationalism” in Ireland. “A Protestant Communist” was his comment.
July 21 Monday: I sent Steve Banham down to 16 King Street with the memorandum. So now we will see. To my way of thinking it is a very strong document and should provide enough “assertion” to satisfy Betty Sinclair for the rest of the year. I sent a copy to Gordon McLennan and a dozen to Jack Woddis and I retained about 25, which however I will not distribute without their agreement. Stella Bond was in. It is difficult to assess the value of Steve Banham. He seems very quiet, but then he is only about 18 or 19. He is willing but does not initiate anything and is completely English in every way.
July 22 Tuesday: I had a telephone call from Dromey and noted a subtle change for the better in his manner. He told me about the Greater London Association of Trades Councils and said he had been talking to Jack Woddis who had heard his suggestion for a GLATC lobby in November and had told him that the Connolly Association was doing one. So he is consulting now. He also said he had got the GLATC to sponsor our demonstration on August 3rd. This made me think we could heal the split created by Irene Brennan earlier than I had previously thought possible. On the telephone Tony Coughlan told me that Michael Mullen is very enthusiastic about their history. My next problem is to clear the financial stile. I have been trying to work out what it will cost.
July 23 Wednesday: Jack Woddis telephoned. He will not be going to Belfast. I expressed pleasure that Dromey had got the endorsement of the GLATC. “Oh, I told him to get that.” So credit where it is due. I mentioned that I had previously thought Dromey conceited, whereupon he displayed his own bump of self-esteem. “There are many people come into my office,” said he, “with Big heads. But they go away – I’ll not exactly say chastened, but different.” I was amused at this. They are proposing to outline my proposals to Ramelson and Matthews who will be in Belfast. So far so good.
In the evening there was a good branch meeting. Tony O’Donnell took the chair and the majority present were young people in their twenties. It was a pleasant contrast to Charlie Cunningham’s hesitant confidence-lacking appeal for sellers, which he derived from Sean Redmond (all the subjective weakness derives from Sean, despite his great organising efficiency), to JP O’Connors’ youthful enthusiasm: “We’ve got to hit the thousand,” he declared. I had invited Steve Banham but he looked on it as a job and contributed nothing. He came to the pub afterwards, accepted several drinks but did not buy one and sat saying nothing. He infuriated Jim Kelly who had bought him two. “He’s cold. He’s a cold fish.” “English middle class”, said somebody else. And to make matters worse Stella Bond’s mother is ill and she has to go to Cornwall, so I shall have the task of keeping the young fellow busy.
July 24 Thursday: I had a very nice letter from Gordon McLennan thanking me for the memorandum which he regards as timely. Indeed something I feared might have aroused opposition has not done so. They have to face the Irish next Tuesday and they hadn’t a shred of policy. If the Irish reject what is in my document, they are no worse off. If they accept, they get the advantage of it. But of course this does not affect the fundamentals. It would be my estimate that attitudes are by no means as set as one would have feared. I had Ann Doherty saying that Jimmy Stewart talked for an hour without mentioning the border. And complained that when asked about the unity of Ireland he replied, “Our policy is to get the unity of the people of Northern Ireland first.” Ann Doherty is on the London District Irish Committee and regards it as an “alibi” – something to push the subject over to while nothing is done. Now in the evening I went to the Joint Sites Meeting at the Metropolitan. Jack Dromey was there. To my surprise I found he felt similarly. He asked me about the events at the outbreak of the war and about R. Palme Dutt’s attitude. He used to drive Dutt into King Street every Tuesday and that is why he was at his funeral.
Woddis suggested that Jack Dromey [of the NCCL and the Greater London Association of Trades Councils] might agree to supporting the Connolly Association lobby instead of running a separate one. I rang him and he very cordially agreed to try to do it. I invited him to speak on August 3rd and he agreed. So possibly we have dislodged that mischievous woman and the roadblock is out of the way. Probably Irene Brennan has been telling him to have nothing to do with the Connolly Association, whereas now he has met Woddis and has heard the opposite. I wonder if it would be possible to dare to hope, after hope has been all but given up, that things in general might take a turn for the better?
July 25 Friday: Young Steve Banham who blew in at 11.30 yesterday came in early today and got quite a bit done. But you have to supervise and it is years since I had the bother of dealing with “staff”, as they call people. I got the paper finished yesterday. In the evening JP O’Connor came in full of enthusiasm and went off to Camden Town. I went with Eddie Coleman to Paddington. There is a slight recovery of confidence, but I understand the Troops Out Movement crowd are walking the week after ourselves, plucking up courage in our wake.
July 26 Saturday (Liverpool): As I was sitting in the office at about 11.15 the bell rang though the door was open. There was a woman outside. Was I from upstairs? She had a black (or other dark) veil and she spoke through it. It completely concealed her features and I wonder why she did not want to be identified. She came upstairs, saying she wanted the bookshop. She did not move the veil. Then she said she wanted to find a solicitor who would take up an interesting international case. Of course I brushed her off. If she won’t show her face, she must find somebody accustomed to dealing with masked men. When she went she stood at the bus stop, still veiled, and then walked off rapidly. Now what kind of a madwoman is loose today?
The usual people came in, except that Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate are away. There were enough out on sales without me, so I came to Liverpool a day early. I have left the paper to the printer and as a matter of interest published the article I sent the “Morning Star” some weeks ago. After the Joint Sites meeting last Thursday I had a talk with a journalist, a young woman who might conceivably be the very rude Madam I had to deal with before, but I doubt it. I mentioned the fact that I had sent the “Morning Star” an article some time ago that they had not published. Was it because I had asked that it should not be altered? Since Nora Jeffrey inserted a reference to Berndette Devlin – a woman whose name I would not mention at the same time as decent people – in my pamphlet without permission, I have been on my guard. “Oh, never fear,” she said, “They always consult before changing anything.” I suggested that perhaps the Editor was new to his job and scared of the Irish question. She thought that was it. But she was not sure whether my article had been discussed and this surprised her. But that be as it may, I sent it to the printer, so it will be in the “Democrat”.
July 27 Sunday: Today slipped away as unproductively as many more. Even now I still have a cold, or catarrh or hay fever, or whatever it is. I have promised myself a break after August 3rd, but usually when the time comes I have something else to do. I did a little in the garden.
July 28 Monday (Dublin): It could hardly be said that things began auspiciously. Mercifully I telephoned B.and I. to check the time of the Dublin boat [The British and Irish Ferry Company].There wasn’t one. I had just time to catch the 10.8 to Chester and get to Holyhead. This time there was no “security” visible, showing how much the thing is put on for show and to create an impression. I do believe anyone who wanted to blow up England could bring a ton of dynamite from the continent in an international vehicle, and provided the driver spoke not a word of English, the lot would get in. Yet they insist on screening people at the Irish ports. I reached Dublin safely and went out to Cathal’s [ie. Cathal and Helga MacLiam’s home at 24 Belgrave Rd., Rathmines]. He arranged for Tony Coughlan to come and I learned from Noel Harris that Michael O’Riordan had asked him to drive me to Belfast.
I asked Cathal about Walter Mackin whose three historical novels I have been reading. He knew him well in Galway – he would be about fifteen years older than Cathal and he had not a good impression of him. But I thought he said one are two acute things – one being that you could never win unless you didn’t care if you lost.
July 29 Tuesday: Noel Harris called at 7.30. I was sniffling and sneezy and we got to Dundalk before the shops were open. There was great military activity at the border and we were stopped and the car searched. The soldiers were pleasant enough, though one grim creature stood with his gun at the ready with a completely expressionless face, while helicopters hovered overhead.
We had some talk in the car and I learned Noel Harris’s views of his colleagues. He says Jimmy Stewart is “a lazy sod – only interested in wining and dining in embassies and travelling abroad.” He argued for the “Irish Committee” and I gave plenty of good reasons against it.
We went to his mother’s place. His father is in hospital, with little hope, but the youngest sister is getting married. A whole room (rooms are of course small in Belfast) was jammed with her presents. There is no shortage of money when presents worth £50 a time are piled up upon each other. Then we went to Exchange Street.
When we arrived Hughie Moore and Michael O’Riordan were there alone. I ran through my sixteen points with Michael. Later Jimmy Stewart and Edwina arrived, finally Bert Ramelson and George Matthews. I must say I thought their approach excellent, and there is no doubt that they contributed an air of easy goodwill very helpful to my plan that the two parties should get their heads together in joint session to try to crack the difficult tactical problem. Of course they did not this time come empty handed. I made a statement of my proposals and joined them in advising against an Irish Committee. I had written to Jack Woddis saying they should regard the Irish question as the most important international question before them. They promised a “major campaign”.
There was of course nonsense from Edwina Stewart who informed the company that NICRA had drafted a Bill of Rights “in Act form” and added what was no doubt urged so as to get the thing into Boyle’s hands (the Bill of Rights was possibly going to be a winner, so the right name must be associated with it.) [Kevin Boyle was a People’s Democracy member of the NICRA Executive.] “It is proof against an emergency,” says she. Then turning to me as a schoolmistress would explain to a boy in the class who was a bright pupil but didn’t know as much as Marm: “For that was what was wrong with the Brockway Bill.” The unconscionable puffed-up conceited ass! This is what her precious “Bill in Act form” does not do, since the fools have left open the possibility that the Emergency Powers Act should govern the situation notwithstanding the Bill of Rights, whereas our amended version took care of that. How I would love to devastate these self-important inane popinjays with contemptuous invective. But I do not do so. The time to act will be when Parliament is getting ready to move – at the committee stage, so to speak. But I shocked her by merely saying, “Of course it could be repealed, or suspended,” whereupon Jimmy Stewart looked helpless, and I added that that was a situation you could not avoid granted the sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament. But what in Heavens’ name gave utter fools this sublime self-confidence. I suppose. . . where angels fear to tread.
They laid on a good meal for us, and beer in the rooms. The industrial issues were discussed and everybody seemed to feel a practical day had been spent. I returned to Dublin by train with Michael O’Riordan, who asked for a copy of my memorandum. I will go through the form of requesting consent. Protocol does no harm in this wicked world.
July 30 Wednesday (London): I had to go direct to London. I had had a new tweed suit ordered when I was here last and decided to wear it. Never before did I get such deference! Nicoletta and Francesco were taking Helga and Killian to Arklow [These were Italian friends of Cathal and Helga MacLiam]. The Heavens opened and they drove me to Dun Laoire. Again there was no security. When I got out of the train at Euston, suddenly the sweat started pouring off me. I was wearing these heavy clothes and it was 87’F in the shade.
The branch was in session when I reached 283 Gray’s Inn Rd. Charlie Cunningham was still away, but Jane Tate was back. J.P. O’Connor was busy organising the paper sales and my one hope is that when Charlie comes back he does not re-impose the dreary traditions of the past few years.
July 31 Thursday: it seems to me that Steve Banham is little use, and that Toni Curran has allowed her maternal instincts (“He has such a lovely smile,” bless us!) to cloud her judgement, such as that is. He comes in late. He says nothing but dangles, or fiddles, or read the paper, or makes tea, but not when you’d be ready to drink it. I have to keep thinking of jobs for him and it is like doing them yourself. Give him credit for one piece of initiative. He brought me “Marxism Today”, which contains an immense article by Jimmy Stewart in which he says, “When NICRA first started urging a Bill of Rights in 1969…” Again, the refusal to recognise the Connolly Association’s work – when he himself condemned the idea of a Bill of Rights as “divisive”. One can take it that he is intellectually a very dishonest person. Certainly as history his article is suspect many times over.
In the afternoon Irene Brennan rang. She was going along to the London District office. Was there anything they could do to help on Sunday? I could have remarked that the interest was belated and that Pat Bond had seen Bill Dunn a fortnight ago. She seemed to think we lacked the most elementary equipment. However, when I said we had everything she was so palpably disappointed that I asked her to try to get us a better platform. But she goes away on holiday tomorrow! Behind the sweetness and meekness of the religious is a determination to wage an unending war on sin, and there is no doubt that in her mind we are the embodiment of that.
August 1 Friday: The day was fully occupied in final preparations for the demonstration on Sunday. There seem to be signs of some Labour movement support.
August 2 Saturday: Quite a few people came into the office during the day and by evening it seemed that all was ready. I got Jim McDonald to drive Jim Kelly and myself for the sales. He said he was willing to make a definite arrangement once a month, but Charlie Cunningham had demurred – why I do not know.
August 3 Sunday (Liverpool): Another sweltering day. Toni Curran met Madge Davison at the airport and collected the things from the office, taking them to Hyde Park. Sean Redmond came early and gave a hand with lining people up. He asked me if I was going ahead with the History for Michael Mullen and I said I intended to. He then said that if I wanted to stay with him in Dublin when he had his new house, I would be very welcome. He also told me that Susan is expecting a baby, but his eldest sister Pat (I think the one who married the impossible Scaife) is very unwell and in a mental hospital. The parents intend to return to Dublin but cannot go till she recovers. I get the impression that the Union keeps him busy.
There were about 29 people on a bus from Birmingham, including Mick Ryan and Mark Clinton. I did not get an opportunity to ask Mark about the fiasco of the Birmingham delegation to Belfast that Edwina Stewart had landed me with. I had written asking them to co-operate and she says they went to great pains. But the delegation just did not arrive after all the arrangements were complete. Pete Carter was involved in the muddle. Tom Durkin was there from Brent Trades Council, George Anthony and George Smith. As well as the Union banners there were three held by Clann na hEireann, the long-haired Dublin young man having dressed himself in white jeans cut down into raggedy shorts, so that there was an air of “drop out” on his contingent. A demonstration is a public appearance and one should always go reasonably dressed, however comfortable it is to be otherwise. It was generally agreed that the event was a success. I caught the evening train to Liverpool.
August 4 Monday: I did a little work of the garden. But these days the time passes by and nothing seems to result from it.
August 5 Tuesday: I started drafting a synopsis for the ITGWU History and a letter to Michael Mullen. I am going to ask for a reasonable sum.
August 6 Wednesday: I had intended to go to Dublin but found there was no day boat from Liverpool.
August 7 Thursday (Dublin): I caught the 10.8 and went to Holyhead. There was again no security check on the first class. I reached 24 Belgrave Road in the evening. Cathal is cycling in Brittany with Daltún O Ceallaigh. I went to O’Casey’s play, “Behind the Green Curtains” and was agreeably surprised. Alisoun Morton came with me and we met Heusaff at it [Alan Heusaff, Breton scholar and activist living in Dublin].
August 8 Friday: I tried to get hold of Kader Asmal and Michael O’Riordan in the day, but without success. In the evening I went to the Anti-Internment meeting. There were scarcely 50 people in Liberty Hall, where it was held. Kevin McCorry was to have spoken, but another student replaced him. Frank Watters had telephoned saying that Clann na hEireann had “put him on the spot” by holding a meeting addressed by Kevin McCorry and demanding the use of the Star Club. He had no alternative but to give it them. And at the demonstration they were handing out leaflets advertising a meeting in London with Kevin McCorry and Lou Lewis – this will be Irene Brennan’s work and the occasion Jack Henry refused to support. I left Michael O’Riordan a copy of my memorandum. Tomás MacGiolla spoke, but I do not recall what he said. Matt Merrigan said he was not unduly perturbed at the prospect of an “independent Ulster”. And Michael O’Riordan opposed participation in a New Boston Tea Party – this time an Irish one. he told me afterwards that Tomás MacGiolla is attending. It will be a State Department effort.
When I got back I had a long talk with Egon[ie. Cathal MacLiam’s eldest son]. He thoroughly enjoyed his stay in Edinburgh and John Martin had taken him to Arrochar. He told me he would like to be an artist but would prefer being an archaeologist to being an architect. I entirely encouraged him in this and was told there was no reason why I should not represent it to Helga.
August 9 Saturday (Liverpool): I was away before the family was up and came direct to Liverpool. There was a security check, but I was not stopped.
August 10 Sunday: I resumed the work on the garden, which is now not catching up for this year, but preparing for next. The weather is hot and dry and where the soil is not baked hard, it is dry powder, except that in places I have incorporated milled turf and saturated it.
August 11 Monday: I went to Blackpool seeking a room. I visited the Town Hall first, then the Public Library and finally the Chamber of Trade. I explained it was for an Irish fringe meeting. After I had booked the hall I was told the name of the secretary. It was O’Neill. “In that case, I don’t know whether you’re Catholic or Protestant.” “Well, I can tell you my husband was descended from Red Hugh,” came the reply. I think she is Irish, but as her accent has worn thin I couldn’t be sure. Anyway we got our booking.
Now a letter from Stella Bond referred to a Standing Committee being held tonight. I would have gone but for the rail delays. A derailment has occurred at Weaver Junction. On Thursday I stood on Chester Station watching diesels towing electric engines behind them, filing through one after another as all trains on the main line were diverted through Warrington, Chester and Shrewsbury. It is not yet cleared up.
August 12 Tuesday: A day or two ago Bill Wainwright of the “Morning Star” telephoned saying they wanted to publish my article against the Troops Out Movement. I told them I had given up seeing it and being short of copy had published it in the “Irish Democrat”. He had thought I might wish to bring it up to date. But now, he said, Joan Maynard was writing in favour of “setting a date”. So I said I would do a diplomatic reply. But really, after the past six months I am still dog-tired.
A letter came from Toni Curran and a curious composition it was. First came a long paragraph explaining why she, not knowing where I was, had consulted Pat Bond and called the Standing Committee. I learned on the phone that they were pressing for an Executive meeting and an annual conference – nice safe internal things, after I have exhausted myself breaking out into the open for them! Then came a statement that Madge Davison [NICRA organiser in Belfast] did not understand the Connolly Association but wants us to confine ourselves to organising the Irish while a new solidarity movement is set up. And then she said Tom Durkin’s meetings were being ruined by dissidents and he feared they would never get another Greater London Association of Trades Councils delegation to Belfast. I thought to myself that it was no use his moaning now – they should have listened to Betty Sinclair when she went to ask them to have sense. Another of Irene Brennan’s little concoctions come splashing on the floor! I wondered what had given rise to Toni Curran’s burst of activity. I could never get her to do anything in the past. After a while I came to the conclusion that it arises out of a desire to create a smokescreen to hide her scandalous behaviour in regard to the Company, and to try to put me “on the spot”. I thought I will not cooperate in this.
A letter from O’Maille expressed approval of my article on Casement in the “Irish Democrat”. He had taken up my suggestion of publishing the Casement Diary that is in Dublin and had had a reply from Alf MacLaughlin. Atherton came and tuned the piano.
August 13 Wednesday: I wrote some letters and one of them contained my proposals to Michael Mullen. If they are accepted my financial position will be greatly improved. I also did some work in the garden. A request for explanation of references in Joyce’s “Dubliners” came from East Germany and I replied.
August 14 Thursday: I got some clearing up in the house done and also some work in the garden.
August 15 Friday: Another busy day in house and garden. I have Dorothy Greaves coming the week after next, so must get ready.
August 16 Saturday (London): I came to London again. Everybody was discussing Thursday night’s storm. In King’s Cross there were hail stones as big as marbles. Charlie Cunningham said his were as big as golf-balls, while it was credible that they had been seen in Hampstead as big as mill-wheels! However, it does not seem to have done much damage in King’s Cross.
In the afternoon Jane Tate came in. She complained that last Wednesday Steve Banham undertook to bank some money. It is not banked yet. I wonder has he been in. The “Morning Star” wrote asking for payment of accounts two years old – about six of them. Jane Tate wrote for an explanation. Everyone of them was contracted by Pat O’Donohue, either for the bookroom or for West London. It struck me that Toni Curran handed things to Pat O’Donohue, could not control him as he is slapdash, wayward and unaccountable. Hence she threw up the sponge long ago! Jane Tate said that she thought Brian Crowley was “getting very fed-up with Pat O’Donohue” – but I reflected that Crowley can make criticisms calculating that they may be passed on, when he can repudiate them! If all goes well on the 28th all this may not matter much in a few months’ time.
August 17 Sunday: The weather though no longer brilliant is still hot. Charlie Cunningham held the meeting in Hyde Park which was very successful. I was out with young JP O’Connor in the evening. He has chopped his beard off. And why? Because he thinks it repels people from buying the “Democrat”! He has undertaken the organising of branch sales. He met Tadgh Egan in Camden Town. “You look like the goat in Puck Fair at Killorglin,” said the Kerryman. O’Connor’s father is from Killorglin, so that was enough. Then I learn that he and the very well-appointed young fellow Cowman were selling together at the Park. JP O’Connor in his leather coat and dingy jeans did not get a look in. He suffers from a stammer, which I think comes from lateral inversion, as his handwriting slopes the wrong way. He attended a good Catholic Grammar School and was first in English. Joining the Connolly Association has done him good and he talks of “sorting out his affairs”, getting a job and trying to make something of himself. He is 24 but has the habits of a boy of 19, being very unsure of himself, though he reads voraciously.
August 18 Monday: There was no sign of Steve Banham today. What he is doing I do not know. I suspect Toni Curran is directing him. “He has such a lovely smile,” says the motherly one. However, I got much more done than if he had been there. Madge Davison rang. A young fellow whose brother was detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and was in gaol in Liverpool, was in London. Send him in to see me, I said. He was a student- like youngster in his early twenties. He had consulted the NCCL. They said get a solicitor. It took about two hours. I rang Vic Eddisford, who said ring Una Milner [a solicitor member of the Connolly Association] but her line was out of order. Finally I rang Carson in Manchester and he put me in touch with Yaffe, Jackson and Ostrin in Dale Street. Unfortunately, they had no conception of what was in the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Still, they promised to do something. So we tried to find out where the young man, who is only seventeen, was held. The Bridewell. I told Yaffe this. “Dear me! But which Bridewell?” It seems there are enough Bridewells in Liverpool to lodge the whole population.
In the evening Charlie Cunningham came in.
August 19 Tuesday: Yaffe rang me yesterday. One of the partners was consulting the Prevention of Terrorism Act. He could find no reference to appeal. I had sent Steve Banham – who appeared at 10.40 – to get a copy. So this was here and I read Section 4. The solicitor was astonished. The book which contained the summary of the Act made no mention of Sections 4, 5 and 6. The brother was to have telephoned me but didn’t. I dare say the young man is already on the high seas while the legal men hunt the missing clauses. I wonder if Yaffe is the Yaffe I knew at the university. In those days he was a strong socialist but a stronger Zionist. He was a good chess player and defeated me in the tournament by playing P-QB3 to my P-K4. I had at that time never seen the opening. All the “Collegiate” boys had learned it for the occasion. Charlie Cunningham came in.
August 20 Wednesday: I practically finished the paper and sent it off. The boy with the “lovely smile” was in earlier than usual, but to little effect. I made a few efforts to get him working, but he is soft and cold. There is no resistance, as old Pirani used to say. I spoke to the branch in the evening. Charlie Cunningham was there, but Jim Kelly and Jack Henry are on holiday. The sales are poor and I gather from the minutes of the Standing Committee which Toni Curran called that Pat O’Donohue gave no report. I’ve been puzzling over what would give me an opportunity to alter this position. But I must await news from Dublin.
August 21 Thursday: Thinking he could copy out the telephone numbers into a new book, I sent Steve Banham for one and he brought it. I crossed out those we didn’t want and told him to use block capitals. I found him beginning in obvious scribble in red ink. I insisted on the block capitals. When I looked again, I found they had lasted two lines. One of the numbers was wrong and two names were spelled wrongly. I made an excuse to get him off the job and started to copy it myself. I then asked him to ring up Trade Unions and collect the resolutions on Ireland. He rang one, then stopped and at 4.25 pm. announced that he was going home. So much for another of Toni Curran’s mutual admiration society. Somebody told me he is her “baby-sitter” and takes the children for walks.
August 22 Friday: I arrived at the office at 2 am. just as Brian Crowley was coming in. We fell to discussing Steve Banham and Pat O’Donohue. Although I do not entirely trust Crowley, there is no doubt of his improvement and he is getting less negative – a bit niggly perhaps. He told me that when he is here Steve Banham walks in at 10.45. He advised me to sack him at the end of the month. But that would involve open warfare with Toni Curran and I would not put it past Pat O’Donohue to resign, leaving everything on me. This is the threat they hold, which I’m anxious to remove by the Dublin Agreement if it comes off, because then I can throw it all on them! Not that Iwould, but they would. One has the same trouble with Pat O’Donohue. He never knows when he is coming and I cannot get the facts of the financial position. I left for Ripley at 10.50 and Steve Banham had come in at about 10.30. I showed Brian Crowley a paper he had scribbled on. There was a reference to a meeting in “High Park” and “holiday” was spelled several ways, but not the right way. Perhaps he sets so much store by the word that he believes in decorating it with turns, frills and accentures. The paper presented more trouble than usual, but it was done.
August 23 Saturday: I was in the office all morning. Clendenning has reappeared and I went to Fulham with him in the evening. JP O’Connor showed up, and Tony Donaghey. So despite holidays we are keeping going. The recovery of Central London is a good augury. There are four new young people: Eddie Cowman, JP O’Connor, CS and a lad called Monaghan, and weren’t they arguing the toss and enjoying it on Wednesday. Brian Crowley tells me they all look askance at Steve Banham. As for him, I suspect he takes his lead from Toni Curran and Pat O’Donohue, which is to take no notice of CDG, but just do what he asks when he’s there! They have arranged a meeting of sellers next Thursday (another important day for me) but took no steps to ensure that I was present. Why not? To show independence? To avoid awkward questions of finance? The chair is to be taken by Toni Curran and (Bless us!) Steve Banham opens the discussion. The mutual admiration society is to parade in Central London and bid the whole world to admire. I did a few notes for Charlie Cunningham. I also sent out a press statement about Blackpool and sent a circular round a few possible delegates, and had leaflets and tickets printed. As for Toni Curran, she announced her intention of writing to Bob Coates! However, she rang me up and asked would I open a discussion at the next EC on the present situation and in a rather chilly way I said I would. If all goes well on Thursday I will propose a Connolly Association memorandum and try to rally them all behind that and perhaps get a Finance Committee established.
August 24 Sunday (Liverpool): Today would have been Phyllis’s birthday. Ten years ago I rang her up from Dublin and she said she was well. Less than three weeks later she was on her deathbed! And all this time has gone. And to what little advantage. I pottered about in the office finishing odds and ends. Then I came back to Liverpool. I had half hoped there might have been a letter from Michael Mullen. But there was not. He may be on holiday. Or he may have gone off the job. So I am still on the wrong bank of the Rubicon.
August 25 Monday: I spent the day shopping and clearing up, as Dorothy Greaves is coming for a few days tomorrow.
August 26 Tuesday: I continued the preparations and Dorothy Greaves arrived in the evening at about 8.30. The bus had been an hour late. I rang Will Pemberton and invited him to dinner tomorrow.
August 27 Wednesday: I spent the afternoon cooking – borscht from my own beetroots, whiting with green sorrel sauce from my own sorrel and chopped shallots, casserole of beef with savoy and orange peel, compòte of watermelon, fresh pineapple and prunes and Mysore coffee washed down with Moselwein, with Martini to start and Jameson in the drawing room afterwards. But really I think Dorothy Greaves is not interested in food and I do not think that Will Pemberton ever had anything better than “good, plain wholesome food”. He declined to put Angostura Bitters in the soup because it was “nice enough as it was” – still less yoghurt. However, we sat up late and he obviously enjoyed the night out.
Of course there was much family history and a I learned little things I had not known. Thus, William Greaves (2) was secretary of Greens and so got the largest slice when Green died and left the assets to the staff. Subsequently the firm was “taken over” and I take it that it was at that point that William Greaves got the money, and Pemberton does not think he had it in cash until after his illness, even after his death. As for Leslie Greaves, they think that his disability arose from brain damage due to lack of oxygen. He was born before the doctor arrived and failed to begin breathing at once. Whether there is anything in this explanation, I do not know. And of course, we recalled Mary Greaves and the endless disputes with Alice Greaves.
Says Alice – “Will Pemberton’s not going to have my money!”
Says Mary Greaves – “But how can you stop him, Alice?”
Says she – “I’ll stop him!”
“Now”, said Will Pemberton, “She tried to stop it. She arranged that if anything happens to Leslie, the children would have the money.” Well, it was a poor try because Will Pemberton has complete control during his lifetime, Leslie Greaves is bound to die intestate and the children get it automatically. The clever provision made not the slightest difference. Both Will Pemberton and Dorothy Greaves are showing their years. He must be about 68, she possibly somewhere in the early seventies.
August 28 Thursday (Liverpool): I had a heavy and trying day. I had to catch the 8.04 from Lime Street as the Political Committee discussion was scheduled for 12. I noticed for the first time the piled-up waggons at Weaver Junction – containers, tanks of NaOH [ie. sodium hydroxide; this was a major rail accident]. Indeed it is a miracle that the whole thing didn’t go up. We moved very slowly to Crewe, and slowly to Stafford. Then I saw Bescot and I knew we were going through Coventry. It is fortunate that I did not take the 9.4. We were 55 minutes late and I just arrived at 16 King Street in time.
It was a pleasant, practical meeting, with Gordon McLennan, Bert Ramelson, Gerry Cohen, Jack Woddis, Bill Wainwright, George Matthews, Vic Eddisford, Reuben Falber and Dave Cook. Gordon McLennan indicated general concurrence with the memorandum from the start. But not all present had read it, and some were on holiday. I therefore gave a summary. The discussion revolved round the suggestion for an Irish Committee. I was chairman of one for something like twenty years and nobody noticed its passing. So I opposed. I think I gained my point – also the question of a full-time worker for the Irish question. I said he should work in the Connolly Association office. “Are you telling me that if you could get one, you would pay him?” asked Gordon McLennan. “For a time, yes. But we would have to raise more money.” McLennan was hugely exercised by this, though I do not think Woddis felt too pleased that his own empire was not to be enlarged. At the same time it might be true that his budget was not going to be strained. Besides, he could always exercise influence. So that was more or less agreed. They would help to find somebody. The only field where I apprehended danger is that of the most important issue – the calling of a conference by a number of organisations. I want restriction to the Connolly Association, the National Council for Civil Liberties, the Greater London Association of Trades Councils and possibly Liberation and the Communist Party. Gerry Cohen stated that he was trying to dissuade Clann na hEireann from a conference about which they had approached the party. He could hardly reply nothing doing and then not arrange for them to take part in this. So do not insult Irene Brennan! I doubt if Clann na hEireann would ever have made such an approach but for Irene Brennan! And I did not see why being approached by somebody rendered you so beholden to them that you must compensate them at the expense of third parties if you could not accede to their request. I have put out the idea of two types of sponsorship – working and associate – and perhaps I can get them held to this. I do not know why Irene Brennan is so captivated by them. Falber did not speak. Woddis was inclined to belittle the Connolly Association and feel about for a Vietnam type of committee. I thought McLennan, Ramelson and Wainwright the most sympathetic of those who spoke, and Vic Eddisford of those who said little. I noted that the new organiser, Dave Cook, (a very good young fellow, possibly under 30 years of age) was still able to be nervous when he made his contribution.
Ramelson asked me to draft some speeches for him for the TUC. So I went to the office and wrote out two and sent Steve Banham with them. I had thought of leaving some notes for Charlie Cunningham, but on second thoughts left them for Steve Banham and Toni Curran. Why be awkward? Soon after I arrived in the office, JP O’Connor came. “I’ve just had a blackout,” he said. Then he fainted again. I stopped him from getting up at once. Steve Banham put his head between his knees, but I thought it better to let him lie flat for a while with minimum labour on the heart. Later I got him sitting in a chair. A heart attack of course. Then it struck me like a flash : heat stroke. I never had it myself, so it had not occurred to me at the start. He felt very reassured by this diagnosis. The temperature was 85’F in the shade and he was wearing the leather jacket he always wears. I told him to get a T-shirt. Steve Banham walked home with him. He is a very pleasant lad, for all his bohemianism and thanked me profusely. I went to get a speech-therapist to him. I think his stammer is due to lateral inversion, since his writing slopes the wrong way, as if it had been written with the left hand. I wonder if it is possible at his age to start writing with the left hand.
When Steve Banham had left for King Street I caught the 3.50. There was no food on it, so I bought a sandwich and some beer. I reached 124 Mount Road at about 7.50 and Dorothy Greaves was there eating a kipper. “I have vulgar tastes,” she said by way of explanation. And indeed sophisticated food is wasted on her.
She talks much more now. I think she is lonely. Indeed she kept me up till 3 am. Her second husband has not treated her handsomely. His son is a solicitor and something of a smart alec. She told me about Harley Greaves. It seems that he never wanted to be a pharmacist as he did badly at school. It was Mary Greaves who insisted upon it. The principle followed was that those with white collars should breed as true as those with white skins. But he wanted to be a garage hand. “He was a wizard with cars,” said Dorothy. As for the families of EWG and Harley Greaves, they are all pickled with drink. Dorothy was saddened by the waste of abilities. Harley was a fine pianist, she said, though my impression was that it was as an organist he was best known. As for EWG, her first husband was killed when a crane fell on him when he was uploading something in Borneo. The attraction of Borneo was the availability of drink. EWG met him at one of Harley Greaves’s secret boozing parties in Portsmouth, doubtless while Mary Greaves was away. When she returned EWG wanted to go and live with a man who had quarrelled with his wife. As for the present husband and widower, he was a policeman in London, joined the RAF, then went to an agricultural college but did not complete the course. Now when we look back on it from a later day the pattern becomes apparent.
August 29 Friday: Dorothy Greaves left at 6.20 – before I was up. I had told her 6.45 was sufficient to get up and came down at that time. But she had panicked and away she was. I still have this wretched cold on me. I never remember one that lasted so long, but I managed to a little in the garden. And I washed some sheets to be ready for Tony Coughlan, who is coming tomorrow week. Really the time goes by and there is nothing seen for it.
August 30 Saturday: I was on the telephone to Charlie Cunningham asking about Thursday. Pat O’Donohue was in the room so he sounded unenthusiastic but said nothing.
August 31 Sunday: Again, there was little enough done and I spent most of the time sneezing and washing handkerchiefs.
September 1 Monday: Quite early in the morning I was telephoned by Charlie Cunningham. He had been told by Lionel Jacobs that Noel Harris was not going to be at Blackpool, where we had billed him to speak. He was not on the ASTMS delegation. I rang Tony Coughlan, who rang Noel Harris, and soon he came on the line. He had decided to retire from the delegation because of a strike and had told Michael O’Riordan to tell me. “He did not do so,” said I, “and I was speaking to him when you were on holiday.” I wanted to tell him I had asked Daltún O Ceallaigh not to come. But when he pulled out he thought Daltún was coming anyway! He promised to make every effort to come, but of course we are landed with the fare. I rang Pat Bond who is now home and I believe Stella Bond will be in on Wednesday. I went to Blackpool but missed Charlie Cunningham.
September 2 Tuesday: I took the 9.45 to Blackpool, saw Larry Fennel and John Maher, who had both found Charlie Cunningham there. Later I saw Charlie himself, had a quick word with Mick McGahey [ie. the Scottish miners’ leader] and saw Joe Whelan, who had sold 50 papers for us. I had a drink with Lawrence Daly and Dave Bowman, and Mrs Bowman joined us for a minute. I found Bowman a little chilly, no doubt from guilty conscience, and Betty Sinclair says he is anti-Irish [Dave Bowman was president of the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR) and had left the CPGB in 1970 to enable him stand for this position]. But his wife is a pleasant little woman. She told me that the wee girl that was when I used to stay with them in Dundee is now married with a wee girl of her own. Mutamur in illis! Daly was drinking. “He does ninety percent of his business at the bar,” said Charlie Cunningham. “Did you know that he had to go to a home for alcoholics?” The organising of the working class is paid for by turning one section of its leaders into paupers and the other section into drunkards. The organisation of its opposite proceeds without sacrifice. They say Daly is a bit of a demagogue, but there are worse people, so I’m sorry he should come to this. Arthur Horner did the same, and I did not think Joe Whelan had been drinking too much water, though he would always be helpfulness itself.
We were at lunch where Noel Harris joined us. He had discovered what had happened. When I had telephoned Michael O’Riordan saying I wanted Noel Harris’s address to confirm the meeting, Michael had just seen an announcement of the event in the “Irish Press”. He assumed I had talked Noel into coming after all! No doubt when O’Riordan has telephoned our office, it was before midday or after 2 o’clock, so that Steve Banham was not in. Incidentally, Charlie Cunningham told me the meeting was woeful – Steve Banham, who never sells a paper, lecturing Charlie Cunningham who does it three nights a week, on “working harder”, and Toni Curran whose branch never goes out a single Saturday and whose members have fallen down in every national commitment they ever undertook, lecturing Central London that carries the whole weight on its shoulders apart from Pat Bond and Stella. Not unnaturally Charlie was somewhat depreciatory.
In the afternoon Noel Harris and I had a talk with Ray Buckton, who is moving the resolution tomorrow [Ray Buckton, General Secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ trade union]. Colin Sweet and Joan Maynard had been nobbling him all morning, but we found his views coincided largely with ours. We were at the head of the deep steep staircase of the Planet Room when Noel Harris said – “Look! There’s Arthur Sear of London University.” Sure enough there was a very grey man, about 60, who had a tendency to slimness quite common among academics I always say, because they are bloodless. You could quite easily take him for an elderly don with a touch of severity. The only Arthur Sear I knew was far from an academic. Noel Harris introduced me to a young woman next him. He presumed I knew Sear, who then leaned forward and asked, are you the Desmond Greaves who was in Wimbledon? I replied that I was. Tempora mutantur. After 35 years neither of us recognised the other. It must have been while I was at De Courcys – late 1937 or early 1938 – that the most excitable person I ever saw in my life appeared on a bicycle from the saddle of which hung a bag of tools such that I could not believe the thing wheeling it, let alone riding it. It was Arthur Sear and he came to ask advice about a strike. I was 24, he would be 21.
“You used to be a cycle mechanic,” I mused. I forgot he might not like the allusion. “A cycle racer,” he corrected me, and no doubt he was both.
He told me that when I left Wimbledon he became branch secretary, which I knew as I had arranged it, and then he worked full-time for the CPGB. Then he went into the Association of Scientific Workers and is now the man Noel Harris most trusts on the Executive. I had very high opinion of him when we were young fellows. I got him to join the party. He said he wanted Education. This would be around the time I was in Grand Drive, sometime after the strike. “What do
you want to know about Marxism?” I asked him. “All”, he replied. I never saw anybody with such application. I gave him Marx’s political pamphlets and he drew the conclusion, “He makes it obvious that the motivation of politics is class.” On the afternoon that Michael Seaton was arrested, and indeed all CP speakers were arrested but Arthur Sear and myself – it was my presence of mind and determination not to be provoked that got us away. One of the members had a car and had constructed a fitting into which our platform snapped into place. I had just returned from Scotland and the policy of opposition to the war was now accepted. It was a hot dry autumn which presaged, one supposes, the savage winter that followed. So meetings went on into October in brilliant sunshine with parched grass underfoot. This time there was more heckling than usual and the police were there in force, in charge of a vast Superintendent to see whose face you would need to lift up your eyes and use a telescope. Soon there were movements towards the platform by people we did not know. When I got off to allow another speaker up, one of these jumped on it and began to speak. I went straight up to the Superintendent. “I want you to arrest that man,” said I.
“What for?” asked the Superintendent.
“Larceny,” said I.
It was unanswerable. The Superintendent strode forth and bade the man come down. “Get on with your meeting,” said the Superintendent. “I think we’ll call it to a close,” said I, and I got Arthur Sear and the other to remove the platform hastily, and the sudden retreat completely disconcerted our enemies. But one woman, seeing the quarry escaping, followed us with others. She turned on Arthur Sear and called him a rat. The next thing he was turning to answer her and the crowd was growing. I turned on him: “Get that platform on the car and shut up, or I’ll have you expelled!” I had of course power to do no such thing. Indeed, if he had had his way we’d be the heroes. Mercifully he turned his anger on me. Again the enemy was nonplussed and we were into the car and away. He only forgave me when he read in the “Daily Worker” of the numerous arrests [This was presumably at a meeting to protest against Britain’s war with Germany in 1939-40, when the CPGB regarded it as an inter-imperialist war].
Among these was Michael Seaton and I am not sure about Sid French and Charlie Broad. These were the lanky eighteen-year-olds who had sailed up to Grand Drive [a street in Wimbledon, London] on bicycles just before the war broke out to discuss a YCL class on Marxism]. Of course they were too excited to discuss it. “I’m going to get out on the streets!” said Sid French as he rode breakneck away. The other lad was a schoolboy, a pupil of a Lancashire man whose name I forget, but who was a fanatical cyclist. Michael Seaton’s arrest gave me my first occasion to visit a prison. He or one of his colleagues had said that Winston Churchill was a “butcher” and they were both “lifted.” He was on remand at Feltham Boys’ Prison and I took him some apples and some books. I used to smoke a gnarled pipe which made me feel a man of the world, even though it made my throat or mouth dry and gave me toothache. I was not smoking it as I went through the prison gate but put it in my mouth. I was stopped by a shout. In a small shed an individual appeared. He was the very personification of evil expressed in ugliness. It was no use my asserting that the pipe was not lit. “This is a prison!” bawled the warder. He must have been an ex-army man. I met others in whom the constant round of humiliation had produced the eunuch’s mentality, but that was later. They were numerous in Woolwich Arsenal. However, I went in. Nobody seemed anxious to take any notice of me or show me the way. Hulking fellows of eighteen in short trousers looked venom at the intruder from the outside world. I don’t know what there was in my appearance which led to this distaste. I forget what passed in the visit. I went to see the Governor to try to get concessions because the youngster was to sit his examination next week. In the event he was prevented from doing it. There was no reason whatsoever why he should not have had bail, but I was not handling the political side of the case. “He’s not a communist,” I said to the Governor. “He soon will be if he stays here,” said the venerable man.
I don’t remember Bloor in connection with these events. But he must have been sharing the flat with me at Grand Drive. Next time I see him, if he is still in Liverpool, I must ask him what he remembers. So much for the train of memory set in motion by Arthur Sear, who certainly is a “revenant”, so near and yet so far.
There were only about 20 at the meeting, but it had its value. As Noel Harris could not get back from Manchester, he came and stayed the night with me in Liverpool. He was talking about the crazy nonsense the Stewarts got from, I think, “People’s Democracy” – the alternative to Stormont a government of the Trade Unions, NICRA and other “Peoples’ Organisations.”. At that time the Bill of Rights was pronounced “divisive”. “It is remarkable how they have slowly swung round,” said he. “So slowly,” I rejoined, “that they think they were the first to think of it.” He told me that when he criticised this rubbish, which I am sure the Dublin people always thought was rubbish, they (that is, Jimmy Stewart and Edwina) tried to get him thrown off the EC, accusing him of being an agent of CDG on something we had never discussed. This must have been the time when Michael O’Riordan put his foot down. “The Stewarts are very influenced by the ‘Officials’,” said Noel Harris, and I am inclined to think this may be very true. I wonder if there is any link with Irene Brennan? There are certain recognisable bodies of thinking – the Provisionals, the Officials, the International Marxist Group, the International Socialists, which shade into one another, but all tend to substitute proletarian for democratic demands and thus ignore the Twenty-Six Counties.
With Lawrence Daly at Blackpool was Hoskins the Railwayman, a very talkative Cornishman proud of his Celtic blood, and no harm for that. At the same time he drove Charlie Cunningham mad with his constant personalising talk, like that of Jack Fitzgerald. He said that Joe O’Connor died in his arms. They were walking with Fitzgerald from an NUR meeting when O’Connor suddenly stopped and said “I’m going” and died on the spot. Though I always thought Joe O’Connor did a great deal of harm, it is undeniable that there is nobody doing any good in the vacuum left by him. If the thing is not in the historical times, then it will not be.
September 3 Wednesday: I had a word with Charlie Cunningham on the telephone. The bombs in London have decimated their sales. The boys are afraid to look up from their beer. I had a word with Jane Tate. I am steadily thinking over how to extricate the Connolly Association from the situation it has been plunged into by Toni Curran’s and Pat O’Donohue’s irresponsibility.
September 4 Thursday: I decided not to bother my head about Shields’s manuscript and to rewrite his material into a publishable book for the Workers’ Music Association. This has been hanging over my head too long. If Shields creates a row, let him – I am rid of the job. So I began on it late at night. They want to publish it in 1976 for the Diamond Jubilee of 1916. I got work done in the garden and house.
September 5 Friday: Tony Coughlan telephoned from Dublin that he is coming on the day boat with his bicycle. Incidentally Noel Harris told me at Blackpool that Egon was quite right in his woeful prognostications of Daltún O Ceallaigh’s prowess as a cyclist. He developed “cyclist’s knee” (something. I confess I never heard of) and swelled out as if he had elephantiasis. Of course anybody could see he was using his muscles quite wrongly. But he finished the course. “He’s not very strong,” said Noel Harris.
September 6 Saturday: I spent most of the day getting in provisions. In the evening Tony Coughlan arrived, complete with bicycle. He confirmed Daltún O Ceallaigh’s woeful condition after cycling.
September 7 Sunday (Cynwyd, Denbighshire): We took the train from Heswall Hills to Buckley and cycled to Narcwys, Llanberis, Ruthin and Gwyddelwern to Cynwyd. The weather was excellent all day, but at about 8 pm. it started to rain intermittently. There were quite a few cyclists at the hostel. Apparently the sport is more engaged in during the higher holiday periods than at the times I am usually abroad.
September 8 Monday (Corris): It rained all day. We went to Balla and Dolgellau and on the very topmost top on the way to Corris, first the heavens opened, then my gears jammed, and we had to walk miles through the rain.
September 9 Tuesday (Liverpool): The rain continued and it turned cold. We went to Machynlleth and decided to take the train back to Liverpool, which we did. Late in the evening Jack Woddis telephoned. He adverted to Irene Brennan’s nonsense and her desire to bring Clann na hEireann into the heart of things. If they have to be brought in (and I have no intention of allowing more important things to be wrecked on this), there may be a quid pro quo, or some substantial objections must be met. The London Connolly Association people rightly regard them as splitters who started “Rosc Catha” against the “Irish Democrat”[“War Cry” in Irish, the Clann na hEireann paper]. But Irene Brennan and her friends may require experience to educate them. Jack Woddis responded favourably to my letter urging that the seminar with the Irish party should be brought forward, preferably before the conference. He asked me whom I would nominate. I said himself and Gordon McLennan. He suggested Myant and George Matthews, to which I readily assented.
I discussed with Tony Coughlan Michael Mullen’s failure to reply to my proposals of August 9th. He did not think he had gone cold on the project or that he would cavil at its financial implications. But he is a born optimist, having had a happy and successful life. I am not so sure. There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip.
September 10 Wednesday: Before Tony Coughlan left for Stirling young Michael Ryan rang from Birmingham and told me there had been a branch meeting last Sunday. I said I would go and see them on Saturday. They were responding to a letter in which I urged political action in Birmingham. I heard from Charlie Cunningham that they have postponed the Standing Committee that Toni Curran called for last Monday. I had written to Pat Bond indicating that it should be called when I could be present. Tony Coughlan told me that Toni Curran had been saying in Dublin that she would like to be on the Standing Committee. I do not know why she did not mention this plan before, but then I am aware that I am ignorant of many of the motives of that individual. As for Gerry Curran, he sent me one of his “witty” letters complaining that he had not received a review from my “protegé” Clendenning. This absurd expression (for I have never done anything for Clendenning nor received any favour) is, I imagine, his offensive defence to very understandable and widespread feelings that he planted his protegé, the boy with the lovely smile, in the office. Though of course this was Toni Curran, whom he fires the balls for. Of course I took no notice.
September 11 Thursday: The rain continued and grew colder – the temperature barely reached 60’F. So the year has turned and the summer is gone, prematurely, in the second successive bad September. Not that an early cold spell is a bad sign for the winter. I cut and brought in a fair supply of green tomatoes and sowed a drill of red cabbage seeds. This year I have had courgettes, and the runner beans are passable.
September 12 Friday: I had intended to go to London, but stayed and wrote a book review I had been putting off.
September 13 Saturday (London): I came to London and found all well but for disappointing paper sales. Pat O’Donohue is away, but Charlie Cunningham, PJ O’Connor and the others are in reasonable form. It poured rain in the evening, so Jim Kelly and I sat drinking all evening. We could not have got to Shepherd’s Bush anyway as on presenting ourselves at the booking office we were told that the railwaymen were on strike in order to protect themselves from football hooligans.
September 14, Sunday: It rained all day and I do not remember a colder day in September except perhaps around 1945 or 1946 when there was a vicious brief spell, but I think later in the month. I know I stayed the weekend at Ludlow and then came to Birmingham for a meeting that did not take place. But even then I doubt it was as cold as this. Nevertheless, a young lad, Tony Monaghan, and I went to Hammersmith. He is a good upstanding lad of 18 and I was not pleased to learn that two weeks ago he joined Clann na hEirerann. No doubt they think he is good military material.
September 15 Monday: In the morning Jack Woddis telephoned and asked if I could visit him in the afternoon. I demurred. Would not tomorrow do? He had already made an appointment with Irene Brennan. So I agreed to go, thinking the subject under discussion would be the assimilation of the conference I proposed and the one Irene Brennan was discussing with Clann na hEireann. I was not keen on this, so when to my surprise I heard that she was keen to press on with the thing, I agreed so as to get it out of the way and merely uttered some warnings.
But the way some of these people conduct their business is brazen. She explained that it was all the brainchild of two young fellows, one in the party, the other in Clann na hEireann. Upon her incautiously mentioning the name Tony, I asked Tony what, and was told Tony Martin, the individual who was in South Wales playing about with Clann na hEireann and of whom I expressed suspicions or at least hesitant feelings to Brian Wilkinson. He works for the Agricultural Workers Union and has lived rent free by squatting since he came to London. He is a quiet reserved character who never expresses a political opinion. Now Irene Brennan had concealed that he was in Clann na hEireann. She was very surprised that I knew him, for he came into the office today.
Before them was a written set of proposals, chief among which was to bring over Michael Mullen and Matt Merrigan. In general they invite whom we have invited, run socials whenever we have run them and act as if under instructions to leave nothing that the Connolly Association does uncovered by a similar activity of their own. Woddis thought he could latch the Greater London Association of Trades Councils on to this venture. Then Irene Brennan followed with a eulogy of Clann na hEireann – Woddis saying nothing and I think secretly satisfied that he could hold a balance of power. He is good at this. During the ructions in 1957-59 he took up no position at all, as if only his own mattered [This is a reference to the row with ultra-left elements in the Connolly Association’s North London branch, who disagreed with the Association’s “nationalist” policy and who were eventually expelled from the CA]. Now afterwards I asked Irene Brennan how Clann na hEireann was doing. “I only know two of them,” she replied. The answer was tantamount to a confession of fraud.
We held the Standing Committee in the evening. Toni Curran, Gerry Curran, Charlie Cunningham, Jane Tate and Pat Bond were there. I had prepared a written memorandum. I am not averse to having a record of these days. They accepted it. Everybody remarked how subdued Toni Curran was. Jane Tate quizzed her on the amount of money we had spent on Steve Banham and “hoped” it was worth it. The boy with a lovely smile did not attend as he had “a cold and a headache”.
September 16 Tuesday: I worked all day on the paper. To the meeting in the evening came Toni Curran and Steve Banham, who said not a word, either of them, together with Jack Dromey, Cath Scorer and John Gould of Hammersmith Trades Council. We discussed the lobby on November 4 and Gould suggested that the National Council for Civil Liberties and the Connolly Association call it jointly, and after some discussion this was agreed. This should restore the position we had with the NCCL and end the division that was engineered by Irene Brennan.
September 17 Wednesday: I continued with the paper. In the evening the branch meeting took place, with Charlie Cunningham, Jane Tate, Elsie O’Dowling, Eddie Cowman and a few others.
September 18 Thursday: I continued with the paper. A copy of the MCF Journal came. In it there is an article on the Prevention of Terrorism Act by Irene Brennan, which is satisfactory enough. But there is a picture of the Connolly Association demonstration of August 3rd. The date is given as August 4th and despite copious space the fact that the CA called it is not mentioned. But the article does not omit to mention Clann na hEireann. I do not know whether Stephen Hart is still there [ie. working with the MCF], but I am told that that sectarian rather stupid character who married Kay Beauchamp is there. I would love to know why there is this long vendetta carried out in London throughout the years. It is nowhere else [ie. hostility to the Connolly Association and its policy by some London-based CPGB people].
In the afternoon Malcolm Brown called in to discuss the book he is writing, which seems to be a continuation of the “Politics of Irish Literature” to 1940, but which he says is about Yeats. He seems to have quite sound ideas, but I did not think his first book was dynamite.
September 19 Friday: The paper finished, I did preparatory work for the lobby of 4th November, making periodic contact with Jack Dromey and Cath Scorer [ie. of the National Council for Civil Liberties]. I am very anxious that this collaboration should prove a success. Of course I have no great Illusions about Dromey. As John Gould remarked to me on Tuesday, “He’s a young fellow of 24 in a hurry to get on, but why should we grudge it him?”
In the evening I was at Holloway with JP O’Connor who nearly drove me distracted with his uninterrupted chatter, all about recondite cultural subjects which he has read books “about” and can drop names. We went into the “Mulberry Tree”, never in the past an Irish house. A young Frenchman dressed in red was drawing an excruciating squeal from a box-like instrument in which a wheel turned by a handle vibrated a single string. The wheel was the equivalent of a bow. Then after much preparation he succeeded in evoking some kind of tune. “What’s that called?” asked O’Connor. “A hurdy gurdy,” replied the Englishman who was with him. “Is it a new instrument.?” “Not at all. It is mentioned by Julius Caesar.” If his forces possessed it, it could account for his victories, I thought to myself. The Frenchman told me it was called a “Vielle a roue”, which I pleased the Englishman by translating as “wheel fiddle”. “Much better than hurdy-gurdy.” The house was well filled, mostly by Irish people, and I deduced that a new licensee, an Irishman, and his wife were trying to build up a business. She was most anxious to have the wheel-fiddler wheel fiddle, which he did. “Actually”, said the Englishman, “this is a forerunner of the barrel organ. Later these were provided with reeds. Then came a type of barrel-organ that had both and then the strings were eliminated and you got the traditional barrel organ. So this is the original, not the diminutive.”
At this point, the irrepressible JP O’Connor, who after a few days of propriety has again abandoned washing and shaving, asked the Englishman what he thought of classical music and in twenty seconds had mentioned Bach and Handel and Gounod, who had produced “one of my favourite” something or other. “If you are speaking of West European classical music, “said the other, “I can’t stand it, but I’m glad somebody likes it. “
I could not help wondering who they were and was of course glad that somebody liked the dulcet tones of the hurdy-gurdy. Finally, JP O’Connor went off saying he was going to an all-night cafe in Fleet Street where he would have to work hard to avoid the blandishments of daughters of joy who plied their trade in an upstairs room. I delivered a little homily on the need to work, shave, get a job, and keep once’s head out of the clouds. I suppose I might as well have spoken to the hurdy-gurdy.
September 20 Saturday: The weather has taken up again, and while not hot, is warm and pleasant, reaching about 70’F. Michael Crowe appeared, having stayed last night with Jane Tate, and Michael Ryan came from Birmingham. He seems much more practical than Mark Clinton and we discussed developments in a business-like way. Jim Kelly, Charlie Cunningham and the others were there. I had persuaded JP O’Connor to ring Gerry Curran and try to go out with him [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat”]. Each of them could then impose condign penance on the other, and I smiled to think of their driving each other crazier than they are already. I was out with Michael Crowe and Eddie Cowman and we found quite a good response. Eddie Cowman is a very intelligent lad and I think solid. It is very satisfactory once more to be attracting the youth into our organisation.
September 21 Sunday: I had lunch with Michael Crowe at Jane Tate’s. The Executive Council took place in the afternoon, with Pat Bond, Peter Mulligan, Michael Crowe, Charlie Cunningham, Mark Clinton, Toni Curran, Jack Henry, and Tony Donaghey. This last produced a letter sent on to him by Mollie Prendergast (Jim Prendergast’s widow, and from what we gather a much more responsible person) who is Joan Maynard’s secretary. It was the “preliminary” circular of my bold Tony Martin and included such points as that myself, Michael Mullen and Merrigan had been invited to speak. I told them I had received no such invitation, and this Tony Donaghey will convey back. We took some useful decisions, which are duly recorded in the right place. Afterwards Jane Tate, Michael Crowe and I had a drink in the “Harrison Arms”. But when some Cockneys started singing we went to the place that Neary had, which another Irishman has taken over.
Jane Tate remarked that Irene Brennan has only been in the movement since 1970. This of course may explain a great deal. I do recall that when we left 16 King Street and Irene Brennan was telling me of the emotional effects of the Irish question on herself (“I didn’t like the complications of the women’s work, but I don’t mind this” and similar prattle) I happened to observe that I had served with Jack Woddis on the London District Education committee in 1938. That’s nearly 40 years ago,” she observed, and looking back I detected a slightly more attentive attitude insofar as she is able to attend to anything apart from what comes from the inner urge. At the same time there is a possibility that she may learn. I did not appreciate that she was so recently involved. What I thought of as mischievous may be simply the old habit of fools stepping in where angels fear to tread. Now she told me Jack Woddis had not shown her my document. The reason I do not know.
September 22 Monday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley, where things went smoothly, and came on to Liverpool. There was no correspondence from Michael Mullen, so I decided to deal with other things. If the matter comes up late, well and good.
September 23 Tuesday: I had lunch with Barney Morgan [a CA activist in Liverpool]. He has provided himself with a handsome car which he drives around in bedecked in a genteel tweed suit. He has three newspaper shops and is doing well. He is much better, I would say, using his initiative than fooling around in that absurd social welfare work [Barney Morgan had been a social worker in Clatterbridge Hospital, Wirral, for a period]. It is like an aspirin factory, providing poison as an antidote to previous poison that should not have been there in the first place.
September 24 Wednesday: The weather was unsettled and blowing a gale, so I decided not to go away for a day or two. Stella Bond told me that Jimmy Stewart has sent me an invitation to their area conference. But the date (19 October) is inconvenient. It would be well to attend, as it is a measure of Jimmy Stewart’s changed attitude, which Betty Sinclair remarked. But it is difficult to see how it can be done. She told me that when Charlie Cunningham went in to complete the invoices they could not be found. She rang the boy with the lovely smile. He did not know where they were, but he admitted to walking off with Stella Bond’s keys. He has gone back to school, the best place for him, leaving a “report “which says next to nothing about what he has done, but plenty about what other people should do.
September 25 Thursday: The invitation from Jimmy Stewart was sent on. It makes very clear that the invitation is to the “Irish Democrat”. I must think about it further. I wrote to Stewart and said I would come if I possibly could, which means if I can’t possibly avoid it, for the cost is just too much.
September 26 Friday: I had a word with Tony Coughlan on the telephone. He said that the ITGWU had lost a fifth of its income owing to unemployment and was in the midst of massive retrenchment. So this confirms my suspicions, which we have touched upon before. I told him to leave it on the long finger.
September 27 Saturday: I had forgotten I was 62 today, though well aware that it was liable to be the case around this period. But Toni Curran rang with many happy returns. She has been making herself specially pleasant of late. It is of course difficult to be ungracious, especially as my power to benefit her being zero, she cannot be actuated by anything but a desire for a return to good relations after her irresponsible behaviour. The main thing is not to be deflected an inch one way or the other.
September 28 Sunday: There was a fine day so I seized the opportunity to set off for a holiday. However, misfortune attended. I hoped to catch a train at Heswall Hills. But it seems to have been cancelled on the usual grounds that overheads are best carried if there is no trading to spread them over. I cycled on to Moes Hafn. It must be the first time I cycled out of Liverpool since the period of the war, and the first time down the Queensferry Road, once so familiar since I went to Dolgellau in 1940. I remember then talking to the quarryman at Tyn-y-cefn. “It might go on for years and years and years.” I went through Wollaston where Harley Greaves and I found pitch but did not know what it was and made a fire of it and got pretty black. After two miles I identified the field we used to gather primroses in – a triangular field on the right. That road is lined with ancient memories. In about 1924 we all went to Buckley. This was on a bus, one of the first I imagine. The roads were chewed up into ruts which seemed a foot deep. These were the days of steam traction in engines, heavy things. And as for the road I doubt it was much more than a sprinkling of tar over mud. The bus rattled and rocked along. “The old bus goes well,” said a friendly Welshman and at Seland explained, “That is where all the aeroplanes are”. And there we used to cycle out as boys to watch them land and take off. As I was passing one misty morning I recall a gypsy encampment on the road. Two of the gipsies were in the field, a middle-aged man dressed in a combination of nondescript garments and a boy of about fifteen in corduroy short pants that all the country lads wore then and in his bare feet. The strange thing was that each of them carried a large Scotch thistle four feet high and they were bringing them in perfectly erect as if it was Aaron’s celebrated rod that they were carrying. What they wanted the thistles for I never heard explained. Then, once with Donal Magee we saw a great farce enacted just before the bridge. A little old man hit his next door neighbour on the head with a mallet just as we were passing. Naturally we stopped and watched the drama. Apparently a chicken had strayed and pecked his vegetables. The scene was protracted. I have forgotten the details, but it was recorded in the “Passing Show”.
Of course the place is crisscrossed with new roads. I passed Ewloe, but where is the “Boar’s Head”– somewhere in the conurbation? By contrast the road between Ewloe and Mold is de-industrialised. There is a light engineering factory where the Ewloe collieries were. I wonder if they got all the coal out. The area looks far more prosperous than it did. Mold has acquired the air of a South of England small town, though it is not fully changed. There is paint, and shops that cater for prosperity, and of course much building, even up as far as Gwern-y-mynydd, for that is the way I went, carrying on to Llanferres and cutting back. There was no sign of the Myrtle Odorata [ie. sweet cicely] at Llanferres and we can take it that if the Flintshire County Council had not sprayed it with chemicals or rooted it up, the new absurd “Clwyd” Council will have lost no time on the job.
At the hostel were two girls, the most incredible chatterboxes ever, and some silent Germans and Canadians. I met a large number of cyclists, all moving in the direction of Liverpool and dressed in the knee breeches that are affected now. Rather than listen to the chatter I climbed Moel Famau. What was impressive was the enormous industrial development. The eastern side is one industrial scene. Buckley has grown out of recognition. Buckley mountain used to be rural. Now it is one large town, but without a centre and without amenities like a part of London, say Becontree or Kenton.
September 29 Monday (Cynwyd): The morning was fine, though it presaged rain. I went to Llanferres and on to Ruthin, passing the school. CEG’s [ie. his father’s] youngest brother was called Richard Goodman and had some connection with this school. He died only two months old. So what was the connection? Mary Greaves, if I understood her aright, said that under some old customary arrangement it was possible for a person to be entered for a free education at this school provided he took the name Goodman. But what was the connection with Ruthin that made this possible? I went on to Pwllglas, then to Corwen and to Bala. At Llandrillo the heavens opened. I gave up the notion of reaching Corris and went to Plas Rhewaedog. I found it closed, so cycled back to Cynwyd. I was the only person there.
September 30 Tuesday: It was dry but threatening. At Drws-y-nant came the downpour. I had lunch of a sort in Dolgellau. In the restaurant were five Welsh schoolgirls not above twelve years old, smoking like chimneys and screwing up their faces in the way popular singers do at the appropriate harmonies which stimulate these contortions. This was a case of lamb dressed as mutton. Though it was raining I got swiftly past the place where I had the accident with Tony Coughlan and soon it cleared and gave a fine evening.
I walked round Corris before dark and saw a very handsome church somewhat fallen into decay and read the three tablets in Welsh that were placed by visitors from Aberystwyth, West Kirby and London, when it was opened in 1924. I asked the warden about it. It seems that she belongs to the very place. In the years immediately preceding 1920 a landslide swept away a fine church situated where the modern factory is. Money was raised to erect a new one. “But we can’t use it in winter now,” said she. “The roof leaks, so we hold the services in the Manse. After all there are only twelve of us.”
October 1 Wednesday (Blaencaron): The warden received an envelope from Cardiff YHA Headquarters. It was addressed to her in Welsh (Though the word “gwarchodw” by which she was addressed would be used of a warder in a gaol! I suppose they thought anything near would do). “There are not many Welsh wardens,” she said. “I must be one of the few. But this is the very first time I have seen anything posted in Welsh.” This was a set of rules. “I am going to pin it up here. This shows how they are afraid of the Welsh nationalists.”
It rained again. I took the train from Machynlleth to Aber. Such rain, indeed. Two young Germans resplendent in their shining equipment looked most disconsolate as they booked for Harlech. After Aberystwyth there was a reasonably dry afternoon and I reached Blaencaron. There were two empty New Zealanders there, driving about in a car. A very young girl asks, “Do you mind if my husband sleeps in the women’s room with me?” I assured her that it was no business of mine. These two were conscious of nothing but their “standard of living”.
October 2 Thursday: I managed to get into Tregaron and buy some food before rain set in for the day. It rained all night as well and blew great guns.
October 3 Friday: The day was cold and fine, with a north-northwest wind. I went up Carn Gron and noted the Cwys-yr-ychen bannog is still visible though it is no longer marked on the 1 inch ordnance maps. The weather warmed up and only at the very top could one wish a little more protection. I did not indeed pass beyond the first brow. There were several empty English people there, and the only interesting person was a Welsh boy in his early twenties who had been educated at Glyndyfrdwy national school. His father was living in Llangollen and he was working at Henley and cycling around Wales. I asked him if he knew the gamekeeper, Murphy, who was at Berwyn. “Ah, that would be in Captain Best’s estate.” Now I had forgotten, but when I stayed there with Bethune around 1931, I recall that he did speak of a Major Best. Seemingly it is the only estate for miles. He said he would ask his father, who is 63, if he remembers the man.
But at 9 pm. came a “working party” from Crewe, quite decent kids, and reasonably well organised – three adults and four boys in their middle teens.
October 4 Saturday (T’yn Cornel): Everybody beat a retreat from the paint pots. I cycled to T’yn Cornel. There was a cyclist from West London who carried vast equipment. He had several gear wheels, and as well as shorts and jeans to change into, had the most elaborate waterproof clothing and a bright orange railwayman’s waistcoat to wear on the outside. He was a railwayman but politically a backward one. He was all in favour of Franco’s executions. Then came two cyclists from Wolverhampton, a teacher and his wife. He seemed to have little confidence in his profession. Every year the children were less teachable. He blamed the parents, who did not bother their heads about them. He said that it was a hopeless thing to attempt to educate anybody in Wolverhampton. Compulsory integration meant that the immigrants received no help in learning English. But I do not know how far he was motivated by “Powellite,views [Enoch Powell had been MP for Wolverhampton].Three young people, friends of the teacher, came later on foot from Bryn Poth Uchaf.
October 5 Sunday: The three young people were more intelligent. One I think was a student. the other two possibly young teachers. They supported Basque independence but looked forward to smaller units within the EEC. The railwayman held the view that the EEC “might turn out a good thing.” But the teacher’s wife! Hearing the turn the conversation was taking, she launched an attack on the Welsh. One of the young people mentioned that they often didn’t speak English.
“Won’t speak it, you mean,” says she ominously and stated that in her opinion it was ridiculous that people who could speak English should prefer to speak something else. She then attacked the Irish and demanded passports and identity cards for everybody. “After all, we’re in the Common Market now.” In the end, she lost her temper with a lot of us and stalked away. It is interesting that reactionary English people, for all their fawning and snivelling towards “Europe”, show the utmost prejudices of imperial grandeur when dealing with those they suppose to be lesser breeds. I stayed all day and watched the sheep driving on the surrounding hills. The weather was not too bad.
October 6 Monday (Blaencaron): I cycled back to Blaencaron. At Pennyfford at the top of the hill I had a chat with the woman from the house. She said if you looked at the rough pasture you could see how rapidly the colour of the country was changing. It always does after September 25. Why September 25? That was what they used to say after Ross Fair. I asked for the spelling of “Ross.” “Oh, in Welsh it is pronounced ‘Rhos’” “Ah, a moorland. Was the fair in Tregaron?” “No, in Bont” (I presume it is Y Pont Rhyd fendigaid) “At Pont Rhyd Fendigaid?” “Yes, it used to be a great thing – horses to sell, stalls, every year. Now there is next to nothing.” She had a brother at Rhandirmyn and had several times walked there. She loves the mountains. It was sad to see them ploughed up for forestry, though it was not so bad when the trees grew. As for the water supplies, “Many people get their living from the farms they have flooded.” And where the forestry had come the sheep had gone. The night was clear and Formalhaut was visible.
October 7 Tuesday: I spent a good part of the day walking on the mountains. There seems to have been a change for the better in the weather, but it was chilly.
October 8 Wednesday (Nant y Dermol): I decided to call at Nant y Dernol. The Wolverhampton told me that the warden had gone and the son of the old warden had taken over. I went past Ffair Rhos and could see well that this was a fair in the Moor above Pont Rhyd Fendigaid – possibly a Lammas derivative? I went straight across from Ffair Rhos to Rhayader but the road was appalling. I had to walk miles, wade yards and carry the machine over fords. However, I reached Nant y Dernol by about 6.30. There was a Liverpool man there in his twenties driving a motorcycle. It was sheer chance that he was there. He had been in Caernarfon and wanted to go to Poppit Sands. A weak flabby character, said I to myself. Yet I gather he was a factory worker and he carried round a sketchbook and was interested in painting. He struck me for all that as the perfect type of the consumer in society.
October 9 Thursday (Dinas Mawddwy): This was the last day of the trip, bright and sunny. I cycled to Llandillo and Llanbrynmair, staying at Dinas Mawddwy, where I was on my own. At one point a lorry driver got out of his car and asked the way to Llandillo. “Where am I?” he asked. “Look at all those names. I can’t ask the way because I can’t pronounce them.” So we must alter the placenames as well!
October 10 Friday: Today it was very cold and a strong NE wind was blowing. Nevertheless, I crossed Bwlch y groes and cycled to Shotton, whence I took a train to Heswall and cycled on 124 Mount Road. I was frozen. I had forgotten to take gloves and left an extra anorak behind. This was the one day I would have needed them. I found awaiting me a birthday card designed and drawn by Egon [ie. Cathal MacLiam’s eldest son in Dublin] and a letter from Toni Curran talking about having a present for me. But why now? She also said she thought the motions for the CP Congress were very poor. But what does she want?
October 11 Saturday: I was able to do a little in the garden and things are a little more advanced than last year, which was disastrous.
October 12 Sunday: I got some more done in the garden. But time seems to fly by, with little tangible results.
October 13 Monday: I did some work in the garden during the day and started again on the Shields songbook in the evening.
October 14 Tuesday: I spent a fairly useful day on the garden and did a little on the Shields book.
October 15 Wednesday (London): I went first to Manchester where I saw Bill Ward, the new man, Vic Eddisford being away to some event, though I had a brief useful exchange with him [These were CPGB officials]. They had done nothing about the lobby. Ward did not even know about it. But Eddisford did. Ward told me that Arnison was “in charge” of Irish affairs in Lancashire and a number of conferences were in preparation. They had abandoned any effort to help the Connolly Association. Ward expressed surprise that not one of the CA people had come to a school he organised in Warrington. Like all Englishmen he expects the Irish to dance to his tune the minute he lifts he pipe. Consult them? Not on your life! Who are they to be consulted? But there is no point in allowing such feelings to overmaster your discretion. Be glad they do anything and hope it teaches them something. He admits to total isolation from the Irish community. Still, he was helpful enough in all he understood.
I then went on to Birmingham where I had arranged to see Frank Watters. But when I got there I found he was away with influenza and I had a chat with Dan Brayford, a very steady sober man, highly respected in Birmingham as one who does what he promises. I did not see Michael Ryan or Mark Clinton as Frank Watters had not notified them. When I reached London I found an invitation to the mad conference of Clann na hEireann, complaining that I had not answered a previous letter (which I never received and do not believe was sent) and inviting me to take charge of a “workshop” on Connolly lasting one hour. Their date is now November 30th, but whereas Jack Woddis was going to tell them to restrict their conference to London, I see it is advertised as “national”. There is no organisation named on the paper and the signatory, Sutton, I have never heard of. I would like to know what is going on. The Central London branch meeting took place and I saw the usual people, Charlie Cunningham, Jane Tate, Jim Kelly, Chris Sullivan, Pegeen O’Sullivan (O’Flaherty), Eddie Cowman and others.
October 16 Thursday: There was a letter from Eoin O’Maille in Dublin saying that he had perused the Casement diary in the National Library, that there was no obscenity in 500 closely written foolscap pages and that he was approaching the trustees to get permission to publish. His letter was posted while I was away and I hope he has not moved yet. I think a group of important citizens should act upon it and I asked him to consider calling a meeting, and perhaps if it was at the end of November I would go myself – and have a cast-iron reason for not going to the mad conference into the bargain. I also wrote to Tony Coughlan on this.
I worked on the paper during the day, but in the evening went to the Joint Sites meeting where I saw George Smith and Lou Lewis. He told me of a big Clann na hEireann meeting in “The Loughborough”, a public house Pat Bond discovered and our friends immediately followed on to. He said it was crammed and that boys on the sites were asking why the rift between Clann na hEireann and the Connolly Association. He spoke approvingly of “this conference they are calling” and how they are “trying to draw in the Labour movement.” (I suppose they thought anything near would do). I could see there was more to this than Irene Brennan’s machinations and thought to myself, I might go to Birmingham and see what is the position there and possibly see if their head office would join us in supporting the lobby. I could then send a delegation to the mad conference, even if I’m too busy to waste an hour on a “workshop”. Later I saw Chris Sullivan and Charlie Cunningham.
October 17 Friday: In the afternoon Jack Woddis telephoned. He was anxious to help with the lobby and talked constructively about the 1976 conference, adding that Gordon McLennan had found a possible full-time organiser for the Connolly Association. All this follows the Political Committee discussion. He also suggested I had a talk with Gerry Cohen. It crossed my mind that it would be from him I would learn what Woddis didn’t want to be the transmitter of, so I thought I would ask Pat Bond to find out what he was going to tell me before I rushed in to be told it. He told me that Andy Barr is coming over to the Congress. “Why do we never have anybody from Dublin?” “It’s not our fault,” said Woddis. “We always send the invitation to Dublin. If Michael would come we would organise a speaking tour for him [ie. Michael O’ Riordan]. I don’t know why he doesn’t.” Now in the evening Jane Tate said he had been talking to Sean Nolan on the phone and she had asked who was coming. “We’ve had our orders,” said Sean Nolan glumly, “and there’s only to be one and that one from the North.” Jane Tate thought the orders had come from London, but I told her this was impossible. He must have been talking sarcastically about “orders” from Belfast. They are meeting on the representation and Dublin has given into them – just what I was afraid of when I told Michael O’Riordan that I doubted his wisdom in fusing the two parties [The Communist Party of Northern Ireland and the Irish Workers Party had merged in 1970 to form the Communist Party of Ireland].
We held a meeting on finance, the Standing Committee plus Brian Crowley. I hope over time to be able to use this to tame Pat O’Donohue, who is as blustery, unpredictable and generally cox-comic as ever, indeed getting worse. There is moreover a cynical streak I don’t like. He took away a letter that Jane Tate wanted without so much as an explanation. I must watch him. Like Toni Curran he would drop you into a bucket of difficulties and comment “poor fellow”. She appeared on the scene with an offering of Waterford glass and I tried to be gracious but barely succeeded. I presented them with a simple calculation Pat O’Donohue or Toni Curran could have made long ago – perhaps instead of the tantrums or airs and graces – that we need to increase our overall income by a third. But it was from Jane Tate’s figures that it was possible to deduce this. At the same time I think there was progress.
I spoke to Belle Lalor on the telephone. She said that Bob Coates is at Lancaster University and “Debbie” has lost interest. There was a good crowd at Mick Rabbett’s funeral [Mick Rabbett was a Manchester CA veteran]. But oddest of her story, “Debbie” says that Lenny Draper is back in Manchester and swears that he will never again touch politics as long as he lives. They both doubt this. But here is the end point of Ainley’s and Arnison’s ignorant intervention. Blockheads!
October 18 Saturday: I went to Birmingham and spent the afternoon with Michael Ryan and Mark Clinton. They both complain of Frank Watters that he is “opportunistic”and half of his interest is in ensuring customers for his bar [He ran the ‘Star Club’ in Birmingham, linked to the local CPGB]. Last week a man they think is chief of a military wing attached to Clann na hEireann (a possibility I warned Irene Brennan about, though it was water off a duck’s back) was discovered in the toilet, on the floor a white-faced youth of 17 whom the big fellow had knocked down – they speculated for some indiscipline or other. Clann na hEireann has opened premises in Birmingham. They did not know where Collins was to be found, but said he was decent enough but not really political. “Rosc Catha” had come out and was sold openly in “The Star”, though the “Irish Democrat” was not allowed. Frank Watters was anxious to retain the visitors family hold back! Of course you can see his problems and the difficulty of pleasing everybody. But Watters asked Mark Clinton and Michael Ryan to tell the Clann na hEireanns to stop – the instinct of the British for placing themselves in a position of balance of power is quite remarkable, and my unwillingness to have Irene Brennan in that position has led me to open this door to Collins, if Mark Clinton can ask him to support the lobby. If Clann na hEireann has got to be talked to, then I’m going to do some of the talking. Mick Ryan and Mark Clinton say they are saturated with the International Socialists.
Later Jimmy Lindsay came in and told an extraordinary story of being arrested in Liverpool, held twenty-four hours, questioned, threatened, accused of possessing bombs and then let out without a stain (or should we see an additional stain) on his character. I told them to tape-record it and try to get it to the Home Secretary. I wonder how far these things are policy and how far obtuseness. The older I get the greater the role I assign to the utter stupidity of most of the human race, a stupidity which is enormously enhanced by positions of power when responsibility is lacking. I then came back to London.
October 19 Sunday: I was in the office most of the day. Tony Coughlan gives an account of the “saga of Cal O’Herlihy”, who called on him in Dublin. He is the “Callaghan” in one of my poems. He married Veronica. Veronica used every trick to monopolise him. She assaulted first his politics and won. He turned to money-making and was very successful. Then the country girl was at a disadvantage. She wanted Callaghan in a nice suburban house, not at a Hilton Hotel arranging takeovers in Vienna. She went on the booze. He went on the women. She committed suicide. He married again. Every takeover firm he worked for always ended in squabbles and torn-up contracts. Now he is in business on his own and his wife a communist! The endlessly crying baby Veronica made herself so pitiful over (I confess I had little patience with her, but she couldn’t be blamed for limitations of outlook) is now a lusty young woman of 16, ready for Saga No.2. I spoke to Camden CP – five present.
October 20 Monday: Another day spent in the office. A man who said he was a friend of Finbar O’Doherty rang to ask me to speak at a “National Conference” on November 30th. At first I thought it was Irene Brennan’s, but he told me that the National Council for Civil Liberties was running it. I rang Cath Scorer who told me that there were International Marxist Groups in her Manchester branch and this was a meeting she had told me about in connection with the Prevention of Terrorism Act, but too late to avail of it. I told them to send me particulars.
October 21 Tuesday: I was in the office most of the day, but in the evening we had the joint meeting of the National Council for Civil Liberties and the Connolly Association at the Friends Meeting House [on Euston Road]. It was an odd meeting, which Cath Scorer was disappointed with. About 40 attended. The chairman, Litterick, did not turn up. Dromey wanted to take the chair but I got Cath Scorer. In the afternoon she had telephoned to say Pat Arrowsmith was coming and wanted to make a statement. Cath Scorer had already wished on us a “Provisional” from Luton and a student (who did not turn up). So I drew the line at this madwoman. A man from the Prisoners’ Rights organisation was there. I took him to be a “poor divil” with that simplicity and emotionalism which I have often found among the erring children who cannot “go straight”. There was a religious maniac, or such I took him to be. Irene Brennan was buzzing in and out like a busy bee and did not forget to put her mouth in. A Trotskyist suggested that if we got British troops out of Ireland, there would be no occasion for Prevention of Terrorism Acts, to which I replied that it would be very nice if that happy state could be brought about and we were all sensible of its advantages, but I doubt if it could be accomplished by November 29th, the date when the Act was due for repeal or renewal. Dromey spoke forcefully enough. O’Reilly, I think his name is, from Luton was there, with young fellow Higgins – all very “Provisional” and “no compromise”, though they kept to the limits of the brief.
At the meeting Irene Brennan gave Charlie Cunningham an invitation to her conference on 30th November. I had written to Sutton for particulars but got no reply. This was the occasion for a big altercation between Jim Kelly and Charlie Cunningham in which I allowed myself to be drawn, and I’m afraid we hurt Charlie too much. In moments of fatigue it is not always possible to pursue the wisest course. Of course Irene Brennan is to be blamed. She will not send the thing to the office in a proper way but selects her man and tries to talk him over. She is completely without respect for the democracy of other organisations – in every way the spoiled nun turned communist. I think she has a slightly demented look at times.
October 22 Wednesday: Still most of the day in the office. Yesterday afternoon IH called [proper name unknown]. He was well oiled and promised to give us a donation of a thousand pounds. I smiled sweetly. Videre est credere [Seeing is believing]. “Oh, I decided this when I was sober,” he declared. There was no proper branch meeting. Charlie Cunningham produced two pieces of paper incorporating resignations from the Executive Committee and Branch committee. It was a strange coincidence that IH walked in and presented me with a cheque for a thousand pounds, plus £40 in notes, and I told Charlie that this was to be regarded as a “sign from heaven” that “all was not lost”. We took over IH for a drink. He is of course a Welshman, though brought up in London, and a pianist. His father had died at the age of 91 and left him a few bob. They came from Pembroke Dock. So Charlie Cunningham agreed that there had been no such letters, but he looked very down in the mouth. Jim Kelly was there and I told him that if Charlie pulled out, he would have to show what he was made of and do Charlie’s work. But would he be able for it? Brian Crowley was there and his eyes nearly popped out of his head. Jane Tate and I agreed that we must restrain our irritation when Charlie Cunningham creates a muddle and nurse him along a bit.
October 23 Thursday: I learned that Pat O’Donohue has decided it is not possible to strut into the VAT office and play a tambourine. He has decided to go and see the accountant and seek advice. I told them to break the business up into small parts and avoid VAT, but they wouldn’t listen. When the VAT man rang asking for the books, Certificate of Incorporation etc., I wrote a letter to Pat O’Donohue giving him the information. Now Toni Curran says of Pat that he is really a “gentle creature” and Brian Crowley says that he has a great admiration for Mark Clinton, but that six times after Pat O’Donohue has been excited as a child that Mark was coming to stay with him, Mark has let him down. In the evening Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate came in.
October 24 Friday: In the office again but went to Camden Town with Eddie Cowman in the evening. He is a very fine young man but is studying economics and this will do him no good unless he can see through it. He can form a political opinion, which is a good sign. But he is only about 22.
October 25 Saturday: A call came from Ann Hope. Barry Riordan had told me she would sign our appeal for the lobby. Now she rang to say she would not as we had used the word “terrorism” in a context she did not like. It was quite impossible to know what she meant. I think the gravamen of the thing was that they did not in Belfast describe the bombings of the IRA as “terrorism”. I pointed out that we were calling for the repeal of an English Act designed to prevent terrorism which was defined in the Act, in England, and we proposed that it should be prevented by less objectionable means. But though living in Oxford a year, she has not crossed the Irish Sea [Ann Hope had been attending Ruskin College]. Surely, said I, there is on the Government’s definition such a thing as terrorism. This was the word they used. How could we propose repealing an Act without mentioning its contents. All to no avail. I concluded that she is a stupid person gripped by her emotions and possibly an illustration of the fact that strong nervous tensions in youth leave the mind permanently distorted. A poor prospect for a whole generation, I fear. I spoke her very fair and told her we quiteunderstood, while thinking to myself, “poor silly”.
Then there was worse silliness. It involved Chris Sullivan. “How are you, Chris?”
“I’m not good at all.”
“And why not?”
“How would I be good when I was arrested last night?”
“But I didn’t know you were arrested.”
“Well, you know now” – all this somewhat petulantly.
“What for then?”
“I put I put a bottle of wine through a plate glass window.”
And so he did. He was short of money and did three hours work for an Italian restaurant manager who at the end refused to pay him. Chris expostulated. Threats were exchanged. An altercation followed. What was hurled at Chris Sullivan will no doubt come out in court. Chris seized a bottle of wine and executed massive destruction with it. He ran away to the “Morning Star” building [in nearby Farringdon Road, Holborn] as Eddie Cowman and I were out. There the police arrested him but not before he had got Seifert to represent him, and today he was let out on £50 bail. All this while the mild Pegeen is in Glasgow translating Russian for the British Council. Of course the absurd nonsense of trying to make a scholar of him has only weakened his self-confidence and threatens to make him good for nothing.
In the evening there was a social, badly organised in the Pinder of Wakefield. Ken Keable was to have played but did not turn up. Charlie Cunningham has not learned the need to check, double check and check again. He is the soul of kindness and generosity but lacks the decisiveness that gets things done well. I was approached by Jim McDonald who said that he had heard that I had said I would not speak on any platform occupied by a member of Clann na hEireann. Who said this to him? My bold Irene Brennan. So she is a mischief-maker, not an inexperienced girl after all. He assured me that the conference run by the faceless committee is indeed by Clann na hEireann. Perhaps they have had to hide their name so as to get a hall. Another thing Jim McDonald said was that I had made the statement about Clann na hEireann at the Political Committee. Now it is last January I would say since we were at one together. So either there is here sheer malicious invention, or somebody has misreported the last one, and I know Cohen was talking to her about it. My guess is that from this conference will come a fait accompli to which some of its opponents will “reluctantly” turn. Jim McDonald said that Pet Bond never attends the International Committee. I told him to speak to Pat Bond, but he did not. Then Pat Bond told me that Jim McDonald did not attend, but Pat Bond had only missed one, in August, while on holiday this year.
October 26 Sunday: In the morning I rang Stan Newens, who was favourably impressed by a proposal for a tripartite venture into a national conference next year. I went to see Dromey this afternoon. Charlie Cunningham came in. Newens’s committee meets on Tuesday and I persuaded Pat Bond to attend. On the way to Birmingham I had a long talk with Dromey. I am fairly well persuaded that one motive activates him, and one alone, that of ambition. I imagine he saw himself on a still larger stage if my proposal for a Grand National Conference comes to anything. But he must be met. I suggested. John Platts Mills might make the legal statement. “Ah No, he was not really a very good speaker at that kind of meeting.” So publicity for Dromey is the price of Dromey’s cooperation. Very well, he shall have his publicity. Not of course that he is not perfectly genuine in the qualifications for which he seeks it. This is the nature of man!
The meeting was to have been presided over by Ken Barlow of UCATT, but Mark Clinton told me that as the starting time approached he exhibited signs of increasing nervousness. “I don’t know whether I can stop,” he kept saying. Finally he decided he couldn’t and took himself precipitately off. So since the front door carries a mortice lock, it had to be closed and the audience must enter by the back door. Nevertheless, it proved a powerful success. Seamus Collins was there and could hardly speak for jealousy. And Gallagher of the “Provisional” Sinn Fein was there, pleased and not jealous. I have mentioned to several of our EC people that Gordon McLennan has found us a possible full-time worker, but here we see the destructive effect of Irene Brennan’s individualism. They are suspicious of it. Mark Clinton proffered his own services as a preferable alternative. And we also discussed Michael Ryan.
October 27 Monday: I went to Ripley, finished the paper, then spoke at a meeting called by Hoffman in Birmingham, which was another huge success. Unfortunately however the Irish community was not involved.
October 28 Tuesday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool. There awaited a letter from Michael Mullen saying that the historical proposition would go before his November Executive Council meeting. It is thus still alive. But I am not counting on it. There was also a letter from Cal O’Herlihy – Tony Coughlan having given him my address. It gave some account of his activities and an invitation to meet him and his new wife. He describes himself as “MA(Cantab.)”, which no doubt he is as well as Cork, but the first goes down better for “O’Herlihy Associates Ltd.” [ie. the marketing consultancy firm that O’Herlihy had established]. Perhaps the slump has done his politics good.
October 29 Wednesday: I went to Manchester for a meeting, but only Lena Daly and Belle Lalor turned up. Belle’s husband had foretold this fiasco. Belle told me that there was no statement about who “saw” Lenny Draper in Manchester. It was stated by “Debbie” that he had “been seen”. As for Seamus Nolan he has apparently gone back into Clann na hEireann. Lena Daly says he was arrested for daubing IRA slogans on walls and fined for obstructing the police. But I cannot get any particulars of when – possibly when “something terrible happened” and he gave up selling the paper. But why can I not be told about these things? I have been in Hathersage Road several times.
October 30 Thursday (London): I had thought of tackling Arnison who is “in charge of Irish work” in Lancashire. Heaven knows what will happen. However, I reached Piccadilly five minutes before a London train went, so I caught it and arrived at 2 pm. on a surprisingly warm day. Charlie Cunningham came in later, and Pat Bond. He has secured the agreement of the Movement for Colonial Freedom. So now I must get the National Council for Civil Liberties.
October 31 Friday: I was in the office most of the day and in the evening went to Kilburn and Camden Town with Eddie Cowman and Steve Huggett. I am very favourably impressed by Eddie Cowman, who seems to have a political maturity beyond his years. He has of course been active for some time while in Ireland.
November 1 Saturday: In the morning Charlie Cunningham came in and Michael Crowe arrived from Newcastle to attend the British Peace Committee conference, representing the Trades Council. All the plots are thickening.
Charlie Cunningham says that his colleague Joe Parker of the Sheetmetal Workers’ Union intends to move a vote of “no confidence” in Colin Sweet because contrary to Executive decisions he linked with the Troops Out people. This would split the British Peace Committee and finish it, and the vultures are already circling. At the Newcastle Trades Council meeting at which Michael Crowe was elected to come to the BPC, a circular for Irene Brennan’s conference was produced. But they did not elect anybody. The interesting thing is that despite Irene Brennan’s pledges and the agreement with Jack Woddis that the conference would be a London one, she has gone ahead with a national one. I think she may want to present us with the fait accompli of a new organisation, which I know Woddis would not hesitate to accept. There may be politics in it too. Charlie Cunningham points out that Irene Brennan in her just-published much-boosted pamphlet gives as an insuperable obstacle to a United Ireland the objections of the Six County Protestants. “They must be won.” On this Michael Crowe said, “We are back to the beginning. You go to a meeting of Englishmen and they say, ‘How are you getting on with winning the Protestants? Very slow work? That’s a pity.’” And Clann na hEireann would be happy with that. Theirs is now the “pure socialism” line. As for the talks on the constitutional future, it is to be discussed on November 15 – with Andy Barr! So round it goes again. Meanwhile everybody with a salary continues to draw it, and everybody with a clear conscience enjoys it.
In the evening Michael Crowe came back from his conference and Ann Doherty, who came in from Reading to help us, drove us out on the sales. Michael said he left the British Peace Committee conference as the attacks on Sweet were mounting. His impression was that Sweet had decided that the attack on the Prevention of Terrorism Act was the rolling bandwagon and that the British Peace Committee must take it on even though there are one or two international questions one would think a Peace Committee could concern itself with. Apparently two days after Irene Brennan’s conference Sweet has one at the House of Commons. Merrigan, who is coming for Irene Brennan’s, will speak at Sweet’s too, and he has got Ray Buckton too. So he did not waste his time at the TUC. This opportunistic scum doesn’t care two hoots about Ireland. Of course I don’t blame Buckton. He is new to the subject. If interest is widening, then each expansion draws into the circle a fresh batch of ignoramuses which one is compelled to thole.
I had a talk with Ann Doherty. Her Manchester people have all fallen by the wayside, except Pat O’Shea. But as I observed, he is a bit of a crook and fools about with Clann na hEireann. Undoubtedly Ann Doherty has learned enormously. She has recovered from her illness, which may have been of nervous origin, and seems much more stable. I was very pleased and put up with her chattering with good grace.
November 2 Sunday: I was in the office in the day. Charlie Cunningham and Chris Sullivan went off to hold a meeting in Hyde Park. The work the Connolly Association members do is immense and it is the shame of the movement here that they are totally unrecognised. Then in the evening Steve Huggett brought his car and he and Michael Crowe and myself went off to Hammersmith. Jane Tate is busy getting the accounts out. Nobody ever gets a minute’s rest. Eddie Cowman went off with Charlie Cunningham in Paddington. JP O’Connor has disappeared.
November 3 Monday: I rang Jack Dromey [who was active in the NCCL, to which the Connolly Association was affiliated]. He has been since last Sunday week constantly about to get the NCCL decision on whether to come in on the Conference next year. Today he promised to put it to their eleven-strong “Northern Ireland Committee” after the lobby. He wanted to contact the Movement for Colonial Freedom direct, but I put him off. I have been trying to work out what he is at. Probably the working out of proposals that would suit himself. I therefore rang the MCF and found Tony Gilbert had replaced Steven Harte. He was most cordial, expressed pleasure at the whole thing and agreed that we should go ahead even if the NCCL did not come in. I resolved to play this on Dromey and strike the best bargain. Whatever about Gilbert, at least he is not a careerist. I will try to speak to Stan Newens in the morning [Labour MP for Harlow and active in the MCF]. It is worth noting that Irene Brennan has no influence on the MCF, or “Liberation” as it is now called, and indeed did not seek it, as when her name was proposed for its council she declined to stand.
November 4 Tuesday: In the morning Michael Crowe called in, and later Pat O’ Donohue to discuss business with the VAT-man. Pat had thought yet again and decided to see the accountant after the discussion period. However, it is only fair to say first that his off-hand conceited manner was not in evidence and that he conducted the discussion very effectively. Without going so far as Toni Curran, who asserts that at bottom he is really a “gentle creature” (counterpart of the boy with a lovely smile!) it is clear, if I could put that matter ungrammatically, that there is a human substratum. We went to the House of Commons. I arrived late, having arranged that Michael Crowe would precede me. But he seems to have forgotten, so Cath Scorer was in charge. About eight MPs were in the Grand Committee room and we had a useful interchange. On the whole the lobby was a great success. Eleven came from Birmingham, three from Oxford, five from Nottingham. Young Andy Barr was there. “The London District went over to Belfast and it shook them rigid,” he said to me with great glee – “the best thing that ever happened.” I had a long talk with Stan Newens and with Lena Jeger, both of whom are weak on the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
But the most striking incident was unpleasant. Irene Brennan approached me. She was nervous and agitated as if afraid of what I would say or do. “I’m very concerned,” she said – this is part of the argot – “There is something you ought to know.”
“Indeed,” said I, “What is it?”
“At the London district on Friday (I think she said Friday but am not sure) there was a report of a rumour – it was only a rumour – that you had sent out letters telling people not to support the conference on the 30th.” “Well, the rumours are lies.” At the at this point Les Burt came up. He does not strike me as the possessor of either intellect or charm. “What we thought you should do,” he chipped in, “is to issue a statement supporting the conference. That would scotch the rumours.”
Of course I was furious, though I kept quiet. “Why do you suggest this?” Irene Brennan laughed cynically, and it was interesting to see momentarily the mask off. “Oh, as a gesture of friendship – for your own good – to protect your reputation.”
“I‘ll decide myself what’s best for my reputation,” I replied. I was not pleased at my time of life to be chosen as the victim of small-time political blackmail. I called over Pat Bond and made her repeat what she said. “Who reported the rumour?” asked the practical Pat. “Lou Lewis”, she replied. She told us that Sutton, the chairman of the conference, is Clann na hEireann. Cath Scorer is on the committee. The whole thing smells of Trotskyism, but whether it is politically so one must wait to find out. She said that Lewis had said he was doubtful of the conference because the Connolly Association was not sponsoring it. There are two or three reasons for being wary of Clann na hEireann. First, we have suspicions that they retain a “military wing”. Second, that they are under Trotsky influence, and finally, we do not want to be caught in crossfire between them and the “Provisionals”.
November 5 Wednesday: I went to see Jack Woddis in the morning. I said nothing about the conversation with Irene Brennan. Whether I would have been wise to do so, I do not know. He said he thought young Andy Barr might be prepared to work full-time for the Connolly Association. I thought that this was the person he had in mind, and indeed I have a high opinion of him. I recall how that lunatic Bruton asked him to meet an unknown person at Paddington. He was about to do so but decided to consult Gordon McLennan. McLennan called in Sean Redmond. Sean told him not to go within twenty miles of Paddington. Bruton came over himself, met his man at Paddington and was arrested as he received a rifle from a soldier and got eight years. So young Andy Barr may well be a little cautious of Clann na hEireann! I told Stella Bond, Pat Bond and one or two more and they approved. Now if young Andy Barr agreed I do not want him to be pitchforked into a readymade row. Better that it develop in his presence so that he can learn the issues and not be forced to take up a position of neutrality. And then there are other uncertainties. Certainly I have not the slightest desire to remain in London. I must say that in this city I have encountered the vilest scum that I ever set eyes on. As Betty Sinclair said, “They are horrible people.” She didn’t mean all of them, of course – but an uncomfortably large proportion. I wrote to Irene Brennan denying her rumour and promising to raise the question of issuing a statement of support at the next Standing Committee. I also wrote to Lou Lewis and suggested having a talk with him. I am still aghast at the impotent vulgarity of the thing. Charlie Cunningham thinks all is not going well with it and this is an attempt to force us to bail them out. But nobody could accuse Irene Brennan of want of energy. She is like a bee buzzing everywhere, propelled by what motive one cannot say, possibly a misplaced sense of vocation.
November 6 Thursday (Liverpool): I did a few things in the office, for example typing a report of the lobby and trying to get a decision from Jack Dromey on whether the NCCL will join Liberation and the Connolly Association in a conference next spring. I have a suspicion that just as I am trying to have it announced before 30th November, so he is in on the plot with Cath Scorer and is trying to delay it to give the opportunity of announcing one at the 30th. But really I should be employed on something more constructive than in-fighting with these careerists. At 124 Mount Road I found some photographs sent by Tony Coughlan.
November 7 Friday: I spent another of the unproductive days I always seem to have here. I think I must get rid of London or I will never do anything.
November 8 Saturday: Tony Coughlan rang in the afternoon. I had written to him about Eoin O’Maille and the Casement rehabilitation proposals. I said I hope to be in Dublin at the end of November and Tony Coughlan said he would go down to see O’Maille with Cathal MacLiam. He thinks McHugh will help [ie. UCD literary academic Roger McHugh, who had written on Roger Casement], and Terence McCaughey and some others.
November 9 Sunday: I spent a few hours on the Shields songbook. The only thing to do is to take no notice of his nonsense and knock something together that the Workers’ Music Association can print.
November 10 Monday: I spent some more time on the Songbook and may perhaps be able to make something presentable. But the day was wasted to a great extent by Stan Newens. He was to ring me yesterday. He did not, so I rang him today. He had been in Devonshire yesterday. But he did not apologise and indeed he did not seem too pleased at my telephoning him. We have probably missed the chance of getting letters to the MPs he failed to contact. At first I thought of going to London on a day trip and sending them myself. But Newens seemed to set great store by a meeting on Wednesday. I consulted Tony Gilbert who seemed quite confident and left it at that. Of course one must not expect too much. This is the year the British – for I am sorry to say the Scotch and Welsh concurred – gave their consent to counter-revolution [ie. by supporting membership of the EEC in the UK-wide referendum] and the current is too strong. Stella Bond told me that there is a consultative delegate’s credential for me in London.
November 11 Tuesday: I am pretty confident that at last I have broken the back of the Songbook by completely disregarding Shields’s text, arranging the thing in historical order and scrapping the sentimental slush and irrelevant matter. But I need to get some of the material he has not provided when I go to Dublin.
November 12 Wednesday: More work on the Songbook. I am restricting it to 1916 and wrote to the Workers’ Music Association with whom I already discussed the “Diamond Jubilee”. I also wrote giving Professor Peterson information for his edition of Joyce.
November 13 Thursday: I spent most of the day on the Songbook. I have over half of it completed and what is not done is roughed out. There was bad news in the evening from Charlie Cunningham. Jane Tate has fallen again and this time broken her wrist. Nothing ever happens to scamps and blackguards; they flourish on the Green Bay tree. I am listening to the simile; the bay I planted ten years ago is a great shrub now.
November 14 Friday (London): I came to London and at 7.45 found Charlie Cunningham in the office. We went off to Paddington.
November 15 Saturday: I went for a few minutes to St Pancras Town Hall [where the CPGB policy conference was being held], learned that young Andy Barr was there and then with Charlie Cunningham went to see Jane Tate, who looks badly shaken by her fall. She thinks she may have suffered a “blackout” as she is suffering from high blood pressure. She is being well looked after by neighbours. Back at the Congress I saw George Smith who told me he had not heard a whisper of the “rumours” that the Connolly Association had sent out circulars telling people not to support the conference on November 30th. He said he would certainly have known if Clann na hEireann was putting this about as their chief man is in his Trade Union branch. So the mystery deepens – and the suspicion. There is no reply from Lou Lewis. I wonder if Irene Brennan invented it! I had a brief word with Tony Gilbert and Kay Beauchamp. She had spoken to Irene Brennan about our conference, and that lady had told her that ASLEFF were contemplating one, and surely they would go in with that. As Charlie Cunningham said – anything, anybody, but ourselves. I think I held the line there.
Later I rang Cathal MacLiam to ask them to send a telegram to Elsie O’Dowling’s party. Daltún O Ceallaigh was there and he told me he had heard that the ITGWU History project had fallen through. I had an odd feeling when Michael Mullen failed to answer my letter. I would not have excluded the possibility of Government intervention. Well, wherever it came from, the objection was political. I was connected with the Connolly Association. So here on the one hand I am excluded from doing work because the Connolly Association is communist” and simultaneously “communists” in London are stabbing us in the back. But it is not as if I were without recourse.
I went to the social evening at the Ambassador’s [presumably hosted by the USSR ambassador], desperately hot and crowded. Idris Cox was there and D.Cox. All seemed agreed that Congress was so far a dull affair and D.Cox pronounced the lack of new thinking “serious”. The most striking thing is the mediocrity. But would mediocre people not rise above it if circumstances were different? Were the giants of the past really so different? It could hardly be so. I saw Egelnick. He was pleased with himself and pronounced his satisfaction that now that Irene Brennan was looking after the Irish question, he had not to bother. There was never a such relief written on a man’s face. I had a few words with Andy Barr who seems quite taken with the idea of a “discussion in depth”, as he calls it. So I am to get a little bit of my own way. Jack Henry showed me a letter from Betty Sinclair in which she speaks of a great document being prepared for January 11th and asks Jack Henry to show it to me. Finally I left the overcrowded overheated premises with Des Logan and Charlie Cunningham. McGahey and MacLean, George O’Driscoll and some others had the same idea, so we had a quiet drink.
November 16 Sunday: The Standing Committee was held in the morning, with Pat Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Toni Curran and Pat O’Donohue. We agreed to advertise for the full-time worker and see if young Andy Barr replies. The paper is doing very badly and losing heavily. This is partly due to the bombs scaring people off. So we discussed alternatives. If I had been able to get the ITGWU contract, I would have been able to help financially, but now the position is the reverse. I managed for once to get Pat O’Donohue to promise cooperation. Oh, but the self-control required! I am entitled to the award of the Order of Job, first degree. When I suggested he get out an estimate for the Connolly Association subscription rate, basing it on all the complex of factors as we know of, he thought I meant subscriptions to the paper, coloured bright red and said pooh it was easy. I led him on to the real thing. Pooh, that was easy too. Then colouring alternately red and white he proceeded to contradict himself, saying yes or no like a flickering light. I then said I was very glad he appreciated the contradictions and complexity of the problem and would he think this all over and take it into account. He said he would! I don’t know about Toni Curran’s opinion that he is a “gentle creature”; he is certainly the most impatient one I saw in years.
I went to the Congress and talked to a few people. I must say that the friendliness of all the older members is most marked. But if they had acted a few years ago matters might stand differently. I had a talk with Tony Gilbert and he seemed very sensible. I heard him give an appalling speech on imperialism a few years back and was inclined to dismiss him. But he has horse sense. And he is not a believer in cooperation with Trotskies. So it looks as if cooperation between us will be easy. He was complaining that the London District Committee is prepared to support almost anything. Iris Wilder told me that she is selling books well, but not periodicals.
A man from Bootle told me about Pat MacLaughlin, who had turned anti-everything before he died[MacLaughlin was a longstanding Liverpool CA member who had been in the Spanish civil war]. His son is prominent in the National Front and, he says, wrote to MacLaughlin threatening him. Cath [ie. Mrs MacLaughlin] came back from California, sold up everything and went back – the best place for her. As for Pat MacLaughlin’s library and papers, somebody had broken into the house and removed the lot before she got back. The man from Bootle says it was the IRA, I don’t know on what evidence. He says that this character Eugene O’Doherty spent much of his time denouncing myself as “an infiltrator into the party”. The only trouble is that I infiltrated it forty years before he did! My informant told me he thinks O’Doherty is going off his head. He has twice declared that his house is surrounded and – the babyish level of the whole thing is illustrated by this – wanted “asylum” in the Soviet Embassy, and your man was seriously engaged in trying to bring him to London! Well might Tony Gilbert say (as Pat Bond said) there is no discipline and any nonsense can be done.
I was in Hammersmith with Eddie Cowman. He told me that Cath Scorer and herself were talking with some Clann na hEireann boys last night and they repeated the slander that the Connolly Association had circularised people asking them not to support their conference. An interesting new light was thrown on Irene Brennan’s protection racket. Pressed for details they said that CDG had said that their conference was minor and secondly that I did not think Michael Mullen should come to it as we wanted him for a more important occasion. Now this is what I said at the meeting in Jack Woddis’s office, namely, that this conference should not be regarded as the main one and that Michael Mullen should be kept for that. So this intriguing bitch has been retailing confidential conversations to her Clann na hEireann cronies, and having started the “rumours” she then “hears” them and tries to use them to stampede us “for our own good”. I am now quite sure that she is up to no good, indeed is an utterly untrustworthy person.
Turning back to September 15th I see that I only noted that I did not oppose her conference. It was, however, Jack Woddis who proposed that instead of being national it should be confined to London. And I was anxious that it should not be regarded as the basis of a new organisation Irene Brennan is dreaming of, with herself in the limelight.
November 17 Monday: I heard the Irish debate of the Congress. The important thing was that it took place at all. The microphones were not working too well and I missed the names. No industrial worker spoke. Jack Woddis’s summing up was good. The resolution as modified was not available, but I gather that he put in the things I advised a week or so ago when I went to see him, and young Andy Barr was mentioned.
I saw young Barr but did not mention the job. He was talking about a great debate with his father last night in which Andy Barr got the worst of it. There is some disputation about Czechoslovakia still going on and young Barr considered this father a “hardliner” and thinks me not much better.
I had a talk with John Hostettler. He has his doubts about the electoral policy and so have I – more than doubts. But they’ve adopted it, so there it is. And then I saw Tony Gilbert. There is a certain disinclination on the part of the. Labour “Liberation” people to give him too much head. He asked me to sign the letter inviting sponsors. He also said he was rather a “lieutenant” and liked to be told what to do. Then he could do it – like Sean Redmond as described by himself in one of his rare accesses of modesty. I hope this doesn’t mean that we do all the work. He said he was one of the “hardliners” over Czechoslovakia and that even now he feels there is resentment against him. Charlie Cunningham says he thinks that he has seen evidence of a distinction between sheep and goats in other circles. And it could be. People are silly enough for anything. Still all seems well for cooperation.
I also saw Frank Cartwright. He has cut his hair sensibly, as it was in Manchester, and has left the London District office. Rott wants him to go back to Liverpool. I encouraged this. He told me he recruited Lenny Draper while in the Isle of Man [ie. as a member of the CPGB]. He was very sorry when I told him of the way the boy had been disillusioned and in effect driven out. Of course I omitted the gory details.
If the evening we held Elsie O’Dowling’s 80th birthday party. It was a very successful evening. I said a few words from the chair myself and referred without much previous authority to her father who was an important businessman in Belfast and reputed a trifle eccentric. “A good man Timbey,” they used to say, “but terribly mistaken.” I think they had some connection with the Protestant Home Rulers and said as much. Then Andrew Rothstein said a few words, followed by Paddy Clancy and Agnes Finnegan, Terence McCaughey’s aunt. Those present included Steve Farrelly and his wife, May Malone and her husband, Pat Bond, Gerry Curran, Toni Curran, Charlie Cunningham, Pat O’Donohue, Eddie Cowman and many others. The venue was the Irish Club. Andrew told me of his early days when his father, Theodore Rothstein, was Soviet ambassador or other representative, and Andrew, aged 20, was determined to attend the inaugural conference of the CPGB. In the end he was prevailed upon to attend under an assumed name. I asked if he remembered Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, in whose diary his father is referred to several times. He said that he several times visited Blunt with his father and added that Blunt was favourable to Casement. He wrote a poem about him which he did not publish because of the war hysteria. This he learned from one of Blunt’s heirs who had his papers. He will try to trace it.
Before we left Agnes Finnegan approached me quietly. “Elsie would appreciate what you said about her father and you mustn’t unsay it, but between you and me he was mixed up in the gun-running”[presumably the landing of arms for the Unionist Ulster Volunteer Force in 1913]. I had to laugh.
November 18 Tuesday: I was in the office all day, busy on the paper. When the CP Congress was over Gwen Miller came in. She told me that when she congratulated the chairman on her work, she received an unexpected reply, “Well, we defeated our enemies.” “What enemies?”, I asked. “Well you might ask. I suppose she meant the Surrey crowd”[these were presumably the CP “hardliners” grouped around Sid French in the Surrey CPGB District, who left to form the “New Communist Party” in 1977]. She also may have meant the pro-Russian crowd. So do insoluble problems divide people. For young Andy Barr was very excited about a person in Islington who had been very badly treated in Hungary. And he said his father was a “hardliner” (He describes me as one too, but that is simply to pigeon-hole people. I had the same difficulty in explaining to them that the 26-Counties was a progressive state with a reactionary government. In other words, all systems are contradictory) and they had given poor Andy Barr quite a mauling. Anyway, for all the criticisms of Eastern Europe, nobody refused their hospitality that I can see. Gwen Miller felt that this unresolved problem detracted from its discipline and made the CP less effective than it otherwise would be.
November 19 Wednesday: I was in the office most of the day, but in the evening spoke to the Central London branch. The attendance was poor.
November 20 Thursday: I continued work on the paper. In the evening I attended the West London branch. The attendance was again poor. Charlie Cunningham thinks that the absence of people close to the London District Committee is Irene Brennan’s work. If this is true history is repeating itself, though it should not affect West London.
November 21 Friday: In the morning Jim Kelly rang up saying his father had died and he was going to Drogheda at once. I presume he will stay for Christmas if not for good. We knew there was something wrong, but he would never tell you. I said it was bound to upset him, and then this somewhat uncouth young man who boasts of his self-sufficiency and ability to dispense with all human feelings confessed that he had cried for an hour this morning. Surely there really is “nowt so queer as folks”. I could hardly believe my ears and still can’t believe my recollection! In the evening. Charlie Cunningham, Toni Curran, Pat O’Donohue and myself were in Hammersmith and Fulham.
November 22 Saturday (Liverpool): I was in the office for a while in the morning. Then I went to Birmingham and met Michael Ryan and Mark Clinton. I discussed the school they are organising. I hope they make a job of it. They complain about Frank Watters, but compared with many others he is very helpful – and within the limits of his experience and the understanding he works with as well. I saw Eden – Jamie Eden’s son – hopelessly drunk, and we had to excuse ourselves in order to get away from him. The boys told me a strange story. After his mother died he took in a young lad of about thirteen whom he brought up as a son. Returning home a few months ago he heard the radio playing and saw the young man, now about 20, sprawled on the bed. He gave him a kick of the backside and said to him, “Get up, you lazy bastard.” Then the young man rolled off the bed. He was dead. After that, Eden took heavily to the bottle. He wanted one of our boys to move in with him, but I was glad they did not. Always keep clear of emotional entanglements. I came on to Liverpool.
November 23 Sunday: I was busy on the Songbook, which I hope to complete before Christmas.
November 24 Monday: I continued with the Songbook. I could not help thinking to myself how interested my father and grandfather would be if they were to be able to see me copying scores, however simple in comparison with the scores they copied themselves! I had a few words with Stella Bond on the telephone. She was not able to give me much news. But Pat Bond is going to Irene Brennan’s committee this evening and will see what happens. She told me Jeff Skelly had telephoned [Skelly had replaced Maurice Cornforth as chief executive at Greaves’s publishers, Messrs Lawrence and Wishart].
November 25 Tuesday: I telephoned Skelly. He gave me a long account of Michael O’Riordan’s book on the Irish in Spain. This was to be printed in Germany under the Lawrence and Wishart colophon. He is worried about getting the proofs and wants to know about the cover. Also, although a copy had been given to Nan Green to correct and she had corrected it, Michael O’Riordan had taken an uncorrected copy to the printers. When I told him I was going to Dublin tomorrow, he asked me to take the matter up with O’Riordan. I also went to Ripley where all went well.
November 26 Wednesday (Dublin): I took the 11.8 train to Chester, went to Holyhead and arrived in Dublin in the evening, going up to Cathal’s. Later on Tony Coughlan and others came in.
November 27 Thursday: I saw Michael O’Riordan in the afternoon. He promised to ensure that Lawrence and Wishart received proofs and were consulted about the cover. He said he was getting the printing done free and I told him Skelly proposed to pass on some money to him if there was any profit. But he did not seem to warm to Nan Green’s corrections. “I said he was taken off on a British cruiser, but she said it was a destroyer. What a thing to hold a thing up for.” Here, of course, national characteristics come into play. It was on their account that Erskine Childers drove them all mad [ie. during the negotiations on the Anglo-Irish Heads of Agreement in 1921]. Cruisers and destroyers are both English imperial machines. Why should an Irishman distinguish too closely between them? To hell with them both; they come to the same thing. But if it was a difference between being hanged or shot, that would be worth delaying the morrow’s newspapers about.
Sean Nolan told me that he can see no light. Neither can Michael O’Riordan, who complains that he has never in his life faced such a situation. Of the discussions I proposed between the two parties, O’Riordan has also shown Irish impatience with England. There is a meeting on Sunday 11th January in Belfast, but the English are not being invited. Apart from their own EC, they have invited Joe Deighan, Tommy Watters and myself. I told them I would make it my business to be present, though I hate going to Belfast and it will cost money – neither party ever pays my fare – and I’m sorry they did not invite Woddis and the others. The great thing I wanted was the clash of totally opposed views so that nothing that had any relevance should go unconsidered, and even the wildest heresies be examined, if only for rejection. But it is like stirring treacle to try to influence events these days.
November 28 Friday: I spent much of the day in Pearse Street Library but in the afternoon saw Tony Coughlan for lunch. I also saw the UCD folk music people.
November 29 Saturday: In The morning Cathal and I went to see Maire Comerford to invite her to the meeting on Monday which Tony Coughlan has called. She is as perceptive as ever. She thought that possibly the Republicans in the North might yield to arbitration, this being less like recognising the British sovereignty. But I doubt it. In the afternoon I saw Tomás MacGiolla [President of “Official Sinn Fein”, which was then moving to becoming “The Workers’ Party]. I had seen him at the Irish Sovereignty meeting on Thursday and we arranged to meet in the Bailey. He is a very pleasant man but obsessed like all of them with ideés fixes. One is of their primacy as descendants of the “Republic now virtually established”, another is the universality and wickedness of the “Provisionals”, and to this has to be added the notion that Sinn Fein is “the party of the working class”. They have derived this nonsense from Trotsky sources in part, with Fanon influence [ie. Frantz Fanon, author of “The Wretched of the Earth”], and it was part of Roy Johnston’s absurd nonsense that the IRA was the “vanguard of the revolutionary proletariat”. The Irish proletariat is not revolutionary at all and does not recognise any such vanguard. Maybe it would be better for the country if it did – though considering those who offer themselves as vanguards one is inclined to wonder, but it does not, and that is for the present that. Sean Nolan, whom I saw later, told me they add to this a desire to sweep away small farms and small businesses in order to ‘increase the numbers of the proletariat”[This was the policy advanced in the “Irish Industrial Revolution” document, written by Eoghan Harris and Eamon Smullen, which was issued in 1977]. Oh – the nonsense is piled like Pelion on Ossa, or Everest on Kilimanjaro. I told Tomás MacGiolla about Clann na hEireann, adding that it was one of my penances. “Isn’t the Provisional Sinn Fein one of your penances?” “No – it does little to bring it forward politically and does not invade our traditional sphere of activity.” He asked me what I knew of Sutton, as they knew little about him! [ie. a leading Clann na hEireann figure]. I told him about the slanders being spread regarding the conference he has on today. He replied that the conference came by instruction from Dublin, or certainly with their support. He was pleased to know the facts and undertook to discount any rumours that he heard. But Oh! those asses in England!
Later Tony Coughlan and I met Eoin O’Maille in the Gresham [O Maille had interested himself in the Casement diaries]. He brought carefully worked out evidence of how the Casement Diaries were forged. It seems that Mr Butler refused to put them on display until the forgeries were complete [ie. RA Butler, Home Secretary]. We then went – Helga driving as Cathal was unwell – first to Oliver Snoddy’s, who also was ill but promised to have the diary in the National Library copied; then we went to a party at Asmal’s. There were present two of Asmal’s cousins who had called in before returning to South Africa, and also Daltún O’Ceallaigh.
November 30 Sunday: In the morning, Cathal having had my bicycle mended, I cycled to Tony Coughlan’s and came back with him. He is suffering from an infected “compacted tooth” which would take three days in hospital to extract. He is astonishingly even-tempered under the stress. I would be snapping like a terrier.
In the early afternoon Pat Bond rang. At Irene Brennan’s committee there was loud condemnation of the Connolly Association for not putting all its energies behind the Clann na hEireann conference. As for that, Pat Bond did not go as Stella objected that he was going out far too much. But his real motive in ringing was to tell me that there had been two attempts to set fire to our office. Now on Friday week a telephone call came at about 5 pm. “Has there been a fire in your office today?” “No. Well, there soon will be.” I rang the police at once and shortly an officer arrived and we discussed. precautions. Now apparently Brian Crowley twice surprised an Englishman setting fire to papers in our hallway. The second time he saw the man clearly and identified him as a character who came into the shop of whom he was suspicious. Add to that the news that there has been an attempt to break up an NCCL meeting in Birmingham – or some such report either on the Sunday papers or the radio – and we can see things have come to a fine pass. On Friday Roy Johnston, whose nonsense contributed the whole thing, smashed a glass against the wall when reminded of it, then came in next day to apologise [an incident that occurred at a late-night talking and drinking session with Desmond Greaves at Cathal MacLiam’s house at 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines].
[Editor’s Note: On reading the original manuscript Journal Roy Johnston requested that the following note be inserted here, which the Editor agreed to:
“CDG concentrates on Connolly Association work in Britain until November 17, 1975, when he notes that he heard the Irish debate at the Party Congress: ‘… the important thing was that it took place at all’ and the things he had advised were put in. The Czechoslovak issue is still smouldering and absorbing energy. Then on November 27 he visits Dublin and talks with Michael O’Riordan on matters relating to publications and proofing. There is evidence of inter-party tension. Later he sees Maire Comerford, who hints at the possibility of arbitration in the North. Then he sees Tomas MacGiolla; he has met him earlier at an ISM meeting and arranged to meet later. CDG remarks critically about Trotskyite influence and Fanon, with ‘the IRA as the vanguard of the revolutionary proletariat’, which concept he attributes to the present writer. He picks up later from Sean Nolan that their current policy is to ‘sweep away small firms and small businesses in order to increase the numbers of the proletariat’, which of course he identifies as the nonsense it is.
Never at any stage was I identifying the IRA with the ‘vanguard of the proletariat’. My vision was to transform the movement into one which would be primarily political and represent the common interests of workers, working managers, owner-managers and self-employed, conceived consciously as a class alliance around common class interests in a National Liberation context, and in that sense being basically Marxist. CDG always dismissed this as ‘making the revolution without the workers’ and as ‘petty-bourgeois’, the latter being a dismissive label. CDG was of course himself petty-bourgeois and most of the working class has petty-bourgeois aspirations, aspiring to own its own business. His dismissal of his own roots and his failure to recognise the unrealistic nature of the aspiration to working-class purity, was a barrier to his understanding of the Irish situation. Yet he had positive insights, like (on November 29) ‘… The Irish proletariat is not revolutionary at all and does not recognise any such vanguard…’ Of course! This was precisely the reason that I had attempted to develop the broad-based class alliance concept, on rational grounds, avoiding jargon labels like ‘revolutionary vanguard’ or indeed ‘proletariat’. This sort of language, however, crept into the ‘Official Sinn Fein’ after I had resigned, under the influence of ultra-leftist elements who joined, filling the intellectual vacuum. My resignation had been caused by the re-assertion of the militarist culture in the movement, perceived as being the way to compete with the ‘Provisionals’. Signed: RHW Johnston, 5 January 1962]”
December 1 Monday: I didn’t get much done in the day, but in the evening we held the meeting on Casement at Tony Coughlan’s office. Eoin O’Maille was there, and incidentally he told me on Saturday that he was a member of Fine Gael. No harm. There was also a retired civil servant called Moffat who had taken the trouble to get all the extracts from Hansard since 1916. But he was a trifle unclear and emotional. Tony Coughlan took the chair and Cathal had brought Maire Comerford. Dick Roche, assistant editor of the “Irish Independent”, was there. And finally Mrs Mackey (the doctor’s widow) and their son arrived [Dr Herbert Mackey, a Dublin medical man, had previously written about Casement]. The son is a solicitor and I did not receive too favourable an impression. We decided to establish a “Casement Committee” and I said if I was furnished with all the materials I would prepare a brief. We would also try to organise a commemoration and make 1976 not Connolly so much as Casement, who was rather left out of 1966 as far as the political movement was concerned. In the day Oliver Snoddy informed us that the diary in the National Library would be microfilmed within four weeks, so we said nothing about it.
While the meeting was in progress, Michael Mullen telephoned asking me to ring him.
December 2 Tuesday: I could not get Michael Mullen in the morning, but later when I did he told me that a committee had been set up to “work with me” on the history and invited me to meet them. I said I will be back in January. I was not too easy about this. I recall Dorothy Macardle’s problem. When Fiona [ie. Mrs Fiona Connolly-Edwards, who also typed CDG’s biography of Connolly]was typing the manuscript one copy had to go to De Valera and the other to Fianna Fail Head Office and this came back duly “corrected”, whence all the inaccuracies in the book. Dorothy Macardle was reduced to depositing a corrected copy in the National Library. Daltún O Ceallaigh told me that this was one of the “Development Committees” and in practice I would be dealing with him. But I was not too pleased at the prospect of that either, so I decided I would take the matter up further and started drafting a letter. In the evening Cathal and I went to a French film. I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and Terence McCaughey.
December 3 Wednesday: I called in to see OS [ie. Oliver Snoddy, O Snodaigh] – I use his English initials for fear of duplicating too many such symbols as OOS – in the afternoon. He told me that the Library had been unable to trace the Casement Diary. “Surely it’s not disappeared already?” I said, for we had taken such pains to ensure that nobody knew we were after it. He thought possibly it was not catalogued separately. In the evening I went with Tony Coughlan to Micheál O Loingsigh’s. Little Killian is sick with rubella.
December 4 Thursday: I wrote to Michael Mullen a letter which dealt with the need for protecting the professional independence of the author and suggested we draw up a general agreement first. I also said I wanted to do the O’Casey book first. I don’t want to lose the contract, but I don’t want to have any committees breathing down my neck. I saw Sean Nolan, who is off to Poland.
December 5 Friday: Tony told me he had seen Snoddy, who had promised to play about with officials no longer but to go himself and make a search for the diary. I cycled out to Tony Coughlan’s, left the bicycle there and then met him for lunch. I stayed the night in Dundrum after we had had a wee celebration at the Trocadero with Kader Asmal, Cathal MacLiam, Tony Coughlan and the girl, Muriel, who within the general acceptance of the term might be regarded as Tony’s “mott”[Anthony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear married some years later. The celebration presumably related to the revival of the ITGWU history project]. Wee Killian has recovered most rapidly. Yesterday he was like a ball of fire, today like a snowball!
December 6 Saturday (Liverpool): I had taken the precaution of leaving behind the photostats of the obscene quotations from Casement’s alleged diary. But I need not have worried. My luggage was not examined. It is more difficult to get out of Britain than get in! Micheál O Loingsigh brought me to Dun Laoire and I was at 124 Mount Road by late afternoon. There was a letter from Dorothy Greaves and the promise of two books from Seven Seas publishers [ie. in East Germany], a gift in recognition of some help I gave them with their edition of James Joyce’s “Dubliners”.
December 7 Sunday: I did little but clear up and did some reading for the O’Casey book.
December 8 Monday: I did some more on the O’Casey book, which is beginning to shape itself in my mind.
December 9 Tuesday: I told Dorothy Greaves that I would not be able to have her this weekend. I have the school in Birmingham.
December 10 Wednesday: Stella Bond sent me a number of things, including a letter from BRA who is on the Brighton Trades Council and his wife as well [It is not known whom these initials stand for]. His eldest son is 30! Tempora mutantur! She said everything was in a muddle, so I decided to go up on Friday.
December 11 Thursday: Apart from cleaning up I did nothing but some more reading on the O’Casey. A letter from Michael Mullen asked me about a Troops Out proposal. They propose to announce at their meeting on 1st February a “mass delegation” to Ireland on May 28th, including people from Trades Councils. A crazy adventure like so much else.
December 12 Friday (London): I left Liverpool on the 9.20 on a weekend ticket to Birmingham and then bought another to London. I went up to see Tony Gilbert at the Liberation Office and he agreed to send out the next set of requests for sponsors. I then went to see Jack Woddis whom I had written to. I told him about the contents of Michael Mullen’s letter. He had seen a report of a press conference addressed by Bernadette Devlin, who is in London. She announced the first February meeting, but not the 28th May. I was surprised that Woddis seemed more alarmed at the first event, perhaps because it was nearer. He told me that Colin Sweet was up to his neck in it. “Why can’t you control him?” “What can we do? He takes no notice.” “Is he still a member?”[ie. a member of the CPGB] “Yes, I suppose we could expel him. But he can argue that his committee overrules him.” This seemed an odd position. There is Sweet pleasing himself on one side, while Irene Brennan pleases herself on the other! He told me that there had been a meeting at the House of Commons last week in a room booked by Joan Maynard and that Sean Morrissey was there [Sean Morrissey was a CPI member in Belfast]. He had spoken only on the Declaration of Intent and had ignored the Bill of Rights and other things. Seemingly he had taken this position up at the Northern Area Conference and he and his son voted against the resolution. I remarked that we could never interest him in political work with Joe Deighan, John McClelland etc.[These were former members of the Connolly Association who had gone back to Belfast]. He was a pure Trade Unionist. But now he plunged into the only politics he ever regarded as politics [Morrissey came of Catholic and Nationalist background]. So in the age of television, space travel and computers, the human mind can still show that its prime characteristic is thick inspissated immobility.
I remained for the International Affairs Committee. Woddis was questioning its future working. He was talking about groups or subcommittees and the main committee meeting infrequently. This may reflect his own need not to overstrain himself. But it could lead to Irene Brendan being installed in control of an Irish sub-committee, and I would possibly have the extra work of attending to check the worst nonsense. But Woddis would also willingly consider other things. I said discuss issues not individual countries, for this might arrest the falling attendance. Incidentally, Woddis told me that young Andy Barr was not worried about losing pay by working for the Connolly Association, but felt he was not able for the job.
December 13 Saturday (Birmingham): Charlie Cunningham was to have come in early but came in late – as often happens. He could only give a brief account of the Irene Brennan conference. It is still run by a “liaison committee”, but everybody knows it is Clann na hEireann. About 100 attended. Andy Barr did not turn up. Neither did Merrigan – none of the advertised speakers from Ireland. And Sean Morrissey, deputising for somebody, spoke only on the Declaration of Intent and thus vitiated the politics of the thing. But they got £190 in collection. I believe this means Irene Brennan has got collections on jobs. When in Dublin I asked Sean Nolan about what future the “Officials” have? He replied “None”. So there is the nonsense in front of our eyes.
I went to Birmingham and got to the UCATT Hall. There were very few there. I do not believe that Mark Clinton could organise the boiling of an egg, pleasant character as he is. And whether Mick Ryan is much better, I don’t know. Of course if there was somebody to give them an example it would not be so bad. But they complain about Frank Waters. Hoffman gave a rather academic talk, above the heads of most of those present, except indeed for Mark Clinton and Sean Kenny. Still, something is being done.
In the evening I was in Sparkhill with Mark [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat”]. Syd Atkins told us that the attitude of the Labour Movement to the Irish question is “know nothing”. We found the Irish very scared and dispirited. At the “Star Club” we heard the voice of Dominic Behan who is coming to a Clann na hEireann event tomorrow, skilfully timed no doubt to keep his boys away from us. Mark Clinton told me that there was great jealousy between Dominic and Brendan, whom I did not think was too bad. And Bannister was in the picture. “Brendan was bisexual,” said Mark Clinton, “and Dominic was with Bannister. Dominic told Bannister that he must never sleep with Brendan. The time you criticised Dominic, Bannister told me that it ‘hurt’ him. You see, from what he tells me, Dominic was the first to seduce Bannister.” I doubt it. But I could not remember just when that young man appeared like a comet on a hyperbolic course and swept through London to Paris and then to Nottingham. Now he is reduced to sitting in sleazy cafés. Now Dominic Behan has lost his voice. He sounded as hoarse as a crow. A pity he didn’t lose his head!
December 14 Sunday (Liverpool): I opened the discussion today and said I proposed to illustrate the views of Connolly on socialism and nationalism by what he did, not by what he wrote. This was to counter John Hoffmann’s rather theoretical approach. It must be said of course that he expected more of a student audience. At lunch Hoffman told me that Irene Brennan rang him on Friday and among other things told him that the Connolly Association had “gone Provisional”. She certainly is a mischievous little puss. But I expect her to come unstuck. There is another character here who went for a week’s holiday in Limerick and came back the great theorist of the “Two Nation Theory”. We were wondering what happened and decided he must have met Jim Kemmy [a leftwing Limerick TD who held that view]. It struck me that we are now dealing with the television generation who think they have seen the world and are incapable of scepticism or logical analysis. If I was prepared to go and live in London and spend all my time on it, I might straighten it out. But that would be at the expense of other things that only I can do. So I hope we get young Andy Barr [ie. as a full-time worker for the Connolly Association].
In the afternoon Charlie Cunningham did quite well and we all had tea at New Street, I returning to Liverpool, he to London.
December 15 Monday: I went on with the Sean O’Casey work. There is a massive amount to be done but I am making progress.
December 16 Tuesday: I wrote letters for most of the day – to Pat Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Alan Morton and quite a few others, including BrA. who had sent us a donation. A letter came from Tanaka – or rather a Christmas card and a message [A Japanese who had met Greaves some months before]. He seems to be settled down back in Tokyo. Tony Coughlan rang up asking me to give a talk in Dublin on February the 9th, but he surely meant the 8th.
December 17 Wednesday: Late at night Jack Woddis telephoned to say that young Andy Barr would not do the Connolly Association job. He was talking about some other character who was in Belfast but might come back. I said I would look for some people myself. But his next remark had a saver in it. It was intended to reinforce the argument for a full-timer. “We must face the fact,” says he, “that we’ll never be able to get the type of movement that you want and I want when you are half the time out of London” – or something to this effect. Now, I have been “half the time out of London” for ten years. I replied by referring to Sean Redmond. But the reality is probably to be sought elsewhere. In general his own judgments are sound enough, but the “Morning Star” and the Districts [ie. the various CP districts] do as they please, and they have no grasp of the subject whatsoever and will listen to nobody. And their reason for listening to nobody? Their belief that their object should be to use the issue of Ireland to attract Irish support for themselves, and of course any other support that goes along with it. And this explain Irene Brennan better than previous speculations, as it is in this to her just cause that she will unhesitatingly disgrace herself. What do we know of the human animal? Nothing.
December 18 Thursday: I have been busy all day on O’Casey and this morning wrote the first sentences of the introduction.
December 19 Friday: I had a call. A card from AMP [Mabel Peachey, a maternal aunt], but there was nothing about her eyes, so perhaps the cataract is not yet removed. A letter came from Sam Levenson. He is busy on an anthology of Skeffington’s writings. He should stick to people like that. I do not expect much of his book on Maud Gonne. But we will see.
December 20 Saturday: Another day spent on O’Casey and also resting. I am feeling a trifle tired and am sleeping whenever I feel the slightest desire to do so. It is better than all the medicines that were ever invented.
December 21 Sunday: A fine mess now! It was on the radio that the Orangemen put a bomb in the “Biddy Mulligan” in Kilburn. I must take care that Pat Bond doesn’t put the “Pride of the Coombe” on the next song page! [Pat Bond filled one page of the “Irish Democrat” with Irish songs for years. They were an attractive feature of the paper for many]. When I went to the printers last I found he had included two songs of the “war of the sexes” without it crossing his mind that the militants of the “Women’s Liberation” might object.
I had not previously paid much attention to the song page. But two things crossed my mind. First, that Mark Clinton told me that Irene Brennan’s sister – as mad as herself – had said that I was anti-feminist, though she had scarcely spent an hour in my company. Second, that Irene Brennan had resisted the distribution of the “Irish Democrat” because she disliked the song page. I exercised my editorial prerogative and cut one of them out. Then I asked Stella Bond to persuade her worthy spouse diplomatically not to include any more “anti-feminist” songs.
December 22 Monday: I went on with the work on Sean O’Casey. I also went to Birkenhead and bought a few things.
December 23 Tuesday: I was in the house all day and continued the research and planning stage of the book on O’Casey. Yesterday I wrote to Alan Bush to congratulate him on his 75th birthday. I first met him in 1937 when John Edge, Deanlove and I met at St. Pancras Station refreshment room to discuss the formation of a Musicians’ Left Book Club. I am not now sure if Edge was there, though I think it was during the early part of that year when we were sharing a room in East Ham [ie. John Edge, see Vols.2 and 7]. There was also a young student who uttered rapturous interjections at every famous name mentioned by his teacher. I don’t know, but I think it is quite possible that that meeting at St Pancras might have been the “semen et origo” of the Workers’ Music Association. I must find out. I told him that the text of the Songbook was finished but that I still awaited some of the airs.
December 24 Wednesday: I went out to buy things as the shops will be closed for several days. For the rest I worked on O’Casey. Alan Morton rang up. I am just a little irritated by him. Everything about him is perfect, including the weather in Edinburgh, yet at every crisis in his life he has responded by nervous sickness! Of course it is great to have a sun-loving disposition provided the sun is always shining. Still, I was pleased that he rang.
December 25 Thursday: This was Xmas Day and I took no notice of it but got on with the O’Casey. Not but that I didn’t have a swig of whiskey afterwards.
December 26 Friday: This was St. Stephen’s Day and I took no notice of that either, but got quite a bit done. The weather is certainly exceptionally fine and though the Tropaeolums were cut down in November, the poppies are like last year and a cauliflower has appeared.
December 27 Saturday: The material for the book page arrived from Gerry Curran who told me in a note that a Clann na hEireann member told him that they intend to attack us in their paper for advising Irishmen to join the army during the war. I think if they do they will injure themselves as their antagonistic position will be made clear. I listened to “The Messiah” on the radio.
December 28 Sunday: Again I got on with O’Casey and have finished a very fruitful couple of weeks. The weather was so fine that I spent an hour in the garden preparing beds for 1976.
December 29 Monday: I started on the January “Democrat” and spent the morning and afternoon on it, returning to O’Casey in the evening. I had a card from Dorothy Greaves. There was a telephone call from Pat Bond who is sick with a cold.
December 30 Tuesday: There was a very nice letter from Alan Bush in response to mine, and he sent an invitation to a concert. But it falls on the day Michael O’Riordan asked me to be in Belfast. He also asked me to forward a copy to Gerry Dawson, but I have not his address. I imagine Bush thinks I am in touch with people in Liverpool, which I am not. As a breed I didn’t like them. They are too abrasive. I prefer the Manchesters. Not that this should be applied to Dawson. He was one of the Socialist Society literati of 1934-5 at Liverpool, and thus I cannot have spoken to him for forty years – though that’s no time considering the speed at which it goes. He has been very active with “Unity Theatre”, but I don’t know if it still exists.
December 31 Wednesday: I went on with the paper and most of it is finished. Finula sent a wee article on the young people [ie. Cathal MacLiam’s eldest daughter]. There was also a letter from each of the five of them, Killian’s consisting of two words. They are growing up into very nice young people. I listened to the Mass in B Minor on the radio. It was not a powerful performance. Modern singers all pronounce the Latin in their own way – rather old school, ecclesiastical or restored. I had CEG’s [ie. father’s] score, bought in 1910 and marked. He must have had a remarkable head for music, for such a score was child’s play to him, not unfortunately to me – though I think I read baroque music more readily years ago, before I concentrated on the classical.
January 1 Thursday: It poured rain all day, as it had poured rain all night. So the mild weather has penetrated the new year. I would say the past few winters have been milder than those of the thirties, perhaps not reaching the higher temperatures attained then, but freer from spells of frost. I cut broccoli for lunch and I have artichokes, turnips and spinach, as well as a promising cauliflower and a couple of parsnips! I worked on plans for the April conference. I expect to reach London on Monday and to find nothing done since I left, except that Stella Bond will have kept any correspondence they came in. Charlie Cunningham rang last night and I guessed this.
January 2 Friday: There was a severe gale today, especially in the evening. I saw a fence between the house and Browns swaying most perilously. I went out and got a line round a post and lashed it to a door post. As I came back I had difficulty in keeping my feet and was apprehensive of what might be flying through the air. I would say it reminded me of the great gales of 1927-28. I was a boy of fourteen on 28 October of the former year and was blown off a wall along which I was walking from the back garden of a lad a few houses away. That February had gusts that reached 120 miles per hour. Well, my precautions only saved half the fence. There was a rending crash and about two yards of boards were ripped off as a 4 by 3 cracked. The electric light was occasionally flickering, so that I guessed power lines must be down somewhere. After midnight it began to subside. Needless say, I lost time from other work.
January 3 Saturday: The garage gates have been lifted off their hinges. However Ashford came and boarded them up.
January 4 Sunday: There are radio rumours of a new “Provisional” offensive in the Six Counties. I hope they are groundless but fear they may not be. I have drawn up a programme of deciding the chronology of Sean O’Casey’s first three volumes [ie. of O’Casey’s autobiography, in which he is said to have invented his life story!]. So if I go to Ireland next weekend I must spend a few days in Dublin.
January 5 Monday (London): I went to Ripley and found very little done on the paper, so that I had to leave without seeing a page proof and came on to London from Alfreton. There was a Standing Committee at 8 pm., with Charlie Cunningham, Pat Bond, Toni Curran and Pat O’Donohue. This last showed his quality as a committee man when asked his opinion and replying “no comment”. He is incapable of a constructive suggestion but well able to snap when he disagrees. There is no cooperation on the financial side and I saw that Toni Curran looked somewhat uneasy. She is the one who wishes these youngsters on us.
January 6, Tuesday (Liverpool): I heard yesterday that Tony Gilbert had made no arrangements for a meeting tonight, and though I telephoned him all day it was without result. I went to see Jack Woddis. He told me that young Andy Barr does not want to work for the Connolly Association. But he seems anxious that the April 4th conference should be a success. He told me as I left that there had been a split in the CPI and that 27 members led by Carmody and Jeffares had resigned [This was precipitated by disagreement over policy on the Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968]. I went to Liverpool, but not before there was more trouble. On returning to 33 Argyle Square to pick up my bags, I found that the Council had changed the lock on the street door. I rang up the office but they knew nothing about the matter, promising to look into it and have the new keys by the time I returned. I was told that the “Rock” group, our tenants, had gone broke, so we have the prospect of further trouble. And Brian Crowley is giving up the bookshop!
January 7 Wednesday (Dublin): I left for Dublin, changing at Chester, going on to Holyhead and arriving at Cathal’s in the evening. It was stormy off Wales, but calm in the lee of the Irish coast.
January 8 Thursday: There was a message from Jane Tate to the effect that the conference was being discussed at the “Liberation” Executive next Wednesday. I was not over-pleased as my proposal was for a joint committee. However, I think I know how to handle that. But not other things. I saw Sean Nolan, who told me that the Belfast meeting I was specially invited to and which was to have taken place next Sunday, is off. I said nothing but was by no means pleased. They had not notified me. But I will wait till I hear what Michael O’Riordan has to say. I can see of course what was the cause of the change [presumably the split referred to in the earlier entry].
January 9 Friday: I went to the Register Office to make a general search of deaths and spent most of the day there. Then I went to the National Library. I rang up Gabriel Fallon [an earlier writer on Sean O’Casey], who suggested that we should meet in Bewleys on Monday. There is no sign of Tony Coughlan and I think he must be out of Dublin, which is a nuisance. I saw Sean Nolan again.
January 10 Saturday: There was a brief call from Jeffares, who delivered by hand the dissident statement. Sean Redmond rang up and suggested our meeting for lunch on Monday. Susan Redmond is expecting her baby daily.
January 11 Sunday: In the morning I sat down and drafted proposals for the April 4 conference and sent a longhand copy to Pat Bond. At last Tony Coughlan came back and I arranged to go to his office to type copies tomorrow, so that I can get them to Tony Gilbert and Stan Newens by Wednesday. It was evening before Tony Coughlan got back.
January 12 Monday: I went into TCD and did the typing, then met Gabriel Fallon at Bewley’s. I took to him at once and we got on famously. I had appreciated from reading his book that he was a decent man and I told him I thought it gave Sean O’Casey fair play. Then I met Tony Coughlan and we joined Sean Redmond for lunch. He said that Tom Redmond has told him that the split arose on two issues, the Czech business and the attitude to the North. Carmody was reverting to his old position. But the freedom of the artist played a part as well. He also said that the Official Sinn Fein had approached Irene Brennan and invited her to their Ard Fheis and that the CPI had objected. After lunch I went to the Public Record Office again and in the evening the Casement Committee met again. Cathal and I went out to bring Maire Comerford. O Maille, Moffat and others were there, Oliver Snoddy and Dick Roche. When it was suggested that Roger McHugh should be invited, Maire Comerford said nothing [UCD English literature academic Roger McHugh had written on Casement].But when we had moved on to other business, she declared suddenly that she would not sit in the same room as Roger McHugh as he was a “rat”. So we were in a fine quandary. It was agreed to issue a press statement announcing the formation of the committee. I undertook to make a summary of our case and submit it to Counsel in due course. After we had taken Maire Comerford back, one of them explained to me that Maire had had some association with Stephen Hayes but the romance was interrupted by his disgrace [a reference to an incident in the 1940s when Stephen Hayes, IRA Chief of Staff, had been stigmatised as an informer]. Maire had defended him and McHugh, then little more than a student, had telephoned her repeatedly at the “Irish Press” seeking to intimidate her.
January 13 Tuesday: I completed the search at the PRO. Having covered deaths, marriages and births from 1918 to 1864, I need about 25 certificates. But all kinds of interesting things emerged. “Archie’s” real name was Isaac and Michael’s second name was “Harding” [Michael was Sean O’Casey’s father, Archie a brother].
January 14 Wednesday: I searched Thom’s Directories in the Library and found the Casey family were only a short time at Dorset Street. I also went to the Church of Ireland Library at Churchtown and found useful dates regarding St. Barnabas. In the evening I went to see “The Shaughraun” by Boucicault at the Abbey with Egon, Beibhinn, Helga and Tony Coughlan. At a somewhat farcical point a man got up and interrupted the performance with, “This is ridiculous. Men are dying in the North.” But there was no response. A few people shouted “shut up” and he silently walked out.
January 15 Thursday: I thought I might have identified the house “near Tenters’ Fields” where Sean O’Casey’s aunt lived and walked along to Harold’s Cross. I called in to Michael O’Riordan on the way but there was nobody in the house. I then had lunch with Tony Coughlan and Sean Redmond, whose wife has produced a son Helga describes as a “sweet little fellow”. In the afternoon I called to the Irish Church Missions and was received by a young clergyman whose missionary zeal was unmistakable and who made no bones about the missions having offered to teach Gaelic by means of the Bible as a device for teaching the Bible. He was from the North, but helpful and pleasant and perhaps a little more ecumenical than his predecessors. They had nothing on Sean O’Casey.
In the evening I saw Michael O’Riordan, who apologised for not letting me know of the cancellation. He had written a letter but forgotten to post it. He showed me his Committee’s reply to Carmody. He says Carmody lost his position on the Southern Area Committee and resented it. Secondly, his position is purely “Twenty-Six County” and he has basically the same attitude to the North that he showed in the great controversy with Jack Bennett [This had been carried in the “Irish Democrat” over a decade before]. Incidentally, Jack Bennett has not surfaced in Dublin, and let Tony Coughlan down when he was to have addressed a meeting.
January 16 Friday: I omitted to say that Michael O’Riordan told me that at first they had agreed to Irene Brennan’s coming to Dublin, for Jack Woddis had telephoned, but then they learned that whereas she was invited to speak, they were not, and they objected. She then declared that she had bought her air ticket and was coming. According to O’Riordan they are friendly with MacGiolla, Garland and Cathal Goulding, but Garland is still unwell, Goulding is dropping out. He has separated from his wife and is living with some Doctor or other [ie. Dr Moira Woods], and in the meantime Smullen has taken over the mediations. It is his theory that Sinn Fein is the “party of the Irish proletariat” and under his guidance they have invited communist parties from Greece and God knows where to their Ard Fheis. The parties concerned, apart from the CPGB, did not consult him. And we know now the result of that. When he discussed some international action with Smullen that gentleman warned him, “There are two revolutionary centres here, not one.”
Today I called to Coslett Quin in the morning, a retired clergyman of St Patrick’s and a former friend of George Thomson, who had lost trace of him [Coslett Quin,1907-1995, Irish scholar and clergyman]. He has a son, David, who is on postgraduate history work at TCD. I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and Terence McCaughey who agreed to come to the conference on April 4th. Then in the afternoon I called on Lil Duncan, a fine old woman of eighty-four who has spent her life in the Gaelic language movement. She asked me to stay for refreshments but I did not and then was sorry afterwards. Old people are lonely and it is not trespassing on their hospitality to give them your time.
January 17 Saturday (Liverpool): I got up early and caught the 9 am. boat. There were low clouds of the cumulo-stratus variety so prevalent this winter, and it was remarkably clear. I think it is the first time I saw all four coasts together. Slieve Donard stood out like a sentinel until we seemed almost under the shadow of Caergybi [ie. Holyhead], while the two peaks of the Isle of Man were set in black against a grey sky. And it was dead calm. There was no security check and I was in Liverpool by mid-afternoon.
January 18 Sunday: I did a few jobs round the house and garden, digging up a whole bucketful of artichokes from two plants, with many left. This year seems even milder than last. While a snap of frost in November levelled last year’s Tropaeolums, new seedlings have germinated and the poppies all survive. Everything is growing, roses are in bloom and everything is a healthy bright green.
January 19 Monday (London): I took the 12.4 train to London and was shocked at the price of £3.10 for an indifferent lunch. I brought with me to answer in London an invitation from Michael Mullen to meet his sub- committee in February and I agreed to meet it, having made my point. Later in the evening Charlie Cunningham came in. He suspects that the reason why Brian Crowley is giving up the bookshop is that he gets no cooperation from Pat O’Donohue. That I can believe for I get none either and I do not see how we can continue unless there is a change. He told me that Eddie Cowman is prepared to work full-time for us and Mark Clinton told me on the telephone that Mick Ryan also would do so. And I thought of Donal Lenihan. But Pat Bond told me that Irene Brennan had gaily announced to her committee that she and Cohen were going to have a discussion with me to iron out differences. This would be admirable if there was no danger of the contents of the interview being chatterboxed throughout Clann na hEireann. Tony Gilbert rang and made an appointment and something is moving on the conference at last.
January 20 Tuesday: I rang up Paddy Devlin [SDLP MP] and Ray Buckton [Train drivers’ union leader] and booked them for the conference. Then I went to see Tony Gilbert and made some arrangements. I saw Jack Woddis in the afternoon and told him about the position in Dublin. He fell in with my proposals regarding support for the conference and duly picked my brains for his meeting tomorrow. But I gave him ideas. He is welcome to them.January 21 Wednesday: Gerry Cohen rang up and we agreed to meet next Tuesday. His suggestion was to discuss the conference on April 4th, but later he rang back suggesting a change of time as he wanted Irene Brennan to be present. But still no word of “differences”. There was a working party in the evening, with Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Eddie Cowman, Jane Tate and others. Brian Crowley told Pat Bond that he is not resigning because of Pat O’Donohue but that “he will have to change his attitude.” He told me that Beer is no longer doing our accounts, but an excellent man who collects Irish books and called to the bookshop. He asked Brian Crowley to pass this
information to Pat O’Donohue, who was to ring him. When Crowley asked Pat O’Donohue to do this, he replied with a curt, “No. I deal with Mr Beer, not the underlings.” He must suffer from megalomania! And I suspect that Toni Curran now questions her earlier admiration.
January 22 Thursday (Liverpool): I went to Manchester and called to Hathersage Rd. What a difference between London and Manchester. Here there is the friendliest reception and complete cooperation and a lift in the organisation’s car to Rees Vaughan’s office, plus a promise to call a gathering of Trade Unionists to talk about the conference. I went on to Liverpool and had a very satisfactory talk with Roger O’Hara. But I missed Barney Morgan whom I was to have met at Lime Street [Morgan was a leading Connolly Association activist in Liverpool]. Apparently we were both at the station at the time but did not meet owing to a train coming in early. He thought I had gone and I thought he had gone.
January 23 Friday: I did some jobs in the house, wrote a few letters and met Barney Morgan at James Street at 8 pm. He wanted to go and check the burglar alarms at two of his shops and we drove out to them. The third, in Scotland Road, had suffered an attempted break-in last night. The burglars had cut away the mortar between bricks and removed them. Then we went to the Irish Centre where Tom Walsh showed me round and bought me a drink. He said that he was not aware of a single instance where men who had been held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act were prepared to take any further action, no matter that they were detained for a week and released without a stain on their character. Probably he has been told that the week is taken up in continual questioning and “It’s amazing how many names they drag out of you.” They ask about one person after another.
We sat in the lounge when suddenly Barney Morgan was called to the phone. He returned somewhat agitated. “The Scotland Road shop’s been broken into and cleared out.” He went away, then came back to run me home, first taking up a bottle of whiskey to the manageress, who had come in when the police contacted her. Fortunately the thieves had been disturbed and got away with much less than was at first feared. There were several local people there, talking. There was an account of the woman with the baby-linen shop who came up to it one day to see the men who had burgled it selling its contents on the pavement! Barney Morgan says the people of Scotland Road are still glorious and that “You might be in Moore Street, Dublin.” The enjoyment that they showed over the affair illustrates the general drabness of working-class life. Incidentally, Barney proposes to settle in Dublin, perhaps this year. The thoughts of all of us seem to be heading the same way, though whether I shall go or not is not yet certain. I told Pat Bond last Tuesday that I wanted to give up the Connolly Association and the “Irish Democrat” and I gave as the reason advancing years.
January 24 Saturday (London): I returned to London in the afternoon and went out in Hammersmith with Eddie Cowman, Gerry Curran driving us round. The reception was good but there were very few people about.
January 25 Sunday (Birmingham): I spent the morning in the office but in the afternoon went to Birmingham. There was a very good lively branch meeting. Mark Clinton told me that he had been talking with Seamus Collins who was drunk. He said to Mark that the CPI was not much good, but that the CPGB was better, adding “And anyway, we’ve got somebody on its Executive now.” So if he was not romancing, the position is as I suspected it [Irene Brennan was a member of the CPGB Executive].
January 26 Monday (London): I went in to see Frank Watters and discussed the conference as I had done with the Manchester and Liverpool people. I was told by Mark Clinton that Mick Ryan would like to work full-time with us, as indeed I understand Eddie Cowman would do. Watters has no objection but thinks him a trifle indiscreet and capable of small intrigues. This confirms Mark Clinton’s view that Watters would not miss him if he left Birmingham. There was some dispute in the YCL. Then I went to Coventry to see Tony McNally who has taken over there [ie. of CPGB affairs].Oxford has been joined to the Midlands and Tanver is teaching in East Germany. When Tony McNally went to Oxford he was at once nobbled by Leahy who was telling him the weakness of NICROC[ie.the Oxford NICRA support group].
I returned to London and at 10.30 Gerry Curran came in bringing the book page but saying meaningfully that he would like to have a drink with me. We went to the “Murrisons Arms”. There he unfolded himself. He was going to explain “the letters”. Last year, when Toni Curran was compelled to reveal that she had not done last year’s accounts and the Board of Trade was threatening to remove us from the list of registered companies, he had replied to my understandable animadversions with three letters and a poem. They consisted of verbal fireworks, the poem being a hysterical paean in praise of Toni. Now this was foreshadowed on Saturday when Gerry Curran said that he knew that Steve Banham was no good, and to explain why nothing happens, Gerry says he spends his own time singing in a local opera chorus and Toni goes out to folk music sessions with Pat O’Donohue three times a week and is on the committee of a Catholic college – all of which comes out tonight.
January 27 Tuesday: I worked on the paper during the day and at 5.30 met Gerry Cohen outside his office. There was a message that Irene Brennan would be late. I had from the start suspected that they would want Irene Bennan to speak at the conference and that if they achieved this, in all else I would have my own way. I went with my mind made up that they would get this and I would get the rest, for once she was speaking she would be disarmed and have to support the thing even if the “Officials” did not like it. We remained in a public house till long after time. She arrived at about 6 pm. and took gin and tonic which didn’t take a thing out of her, though Cohen grew drunker and drunker on pints of stout. As this proceeded I was bedizened with fulsome flattery. I was the “Palme Dutt of Ireland” and God knows what. And as for herself, she was a “little girl” and Cohen was clucking her on the cheek, holding her hand and taking liberties which she sustained with perfect aplomb. She and I knew we were enemies and my only hope is that I did not let slip any vital information which will be chatterboxed round Clann na hEireann. She only grew heated when it was a matter of denouncing the “Provisionals”. I asked Cohen why he had members of Clann na hEireann on the committee. “Because they’re members of the party.” So anybody can join if that principle is maintained. I think I persuaded him that there was more to it than the simple addition of left forces into “left unity”. She was tactically silenced by being allowed to speak at the conference. It is all nonsense of course, but I was fairly satisfied I had got what could be got, and not given more than I had to.
There was reference to the Bill of Rights. “You drafted,” it said Gerry Cohen. “The party should have drafted it.” It is a pity nobody represented it at the time, when top QCs said it couldn’t be drafted and we held meeting after meeting till the problems were solved. But there was no bandwagon then, so nobody wanted it, and we are retrospectively blamed because at that time nobody could be persuaded to take a scrap of interest. I think perhaps it is time I got out of this country. At the same time it would not do to take this too seriously, as there was drink about.
They got on the subject of the Russians entry into Czechoslovakia. At one point Irene Brennan clapped her hands and chortled pointedly in my direction, “He supports it! He supports it!” I said it was not a simple question and that I thought the errors had been committed before. At this point Cohen warmly agreed. He would not allow her to push me into the camp of “the enemy”, and told her she was unfair. He boasted that he had pushed Irene Brennan forward on the Irish question and said that Myant would be separated from it.
This morning Jock Stallard rang up and told me what he was doing to try to get a compromise on Stagg, possibly moving him nearer Coventry [IRA prisoner Frank Stagg had gone on hunger strike in Wakefield Prison, seeking among other things removal to a prison in Ireland. He died on 12 February, following 62 days on hunger strike]. Michael Mullen had wired him.
January 28 Wednesday: I worked on the paper during the day. Then at 7pm. I went to the House of Lords, where the conference was on the agenda [ie. on the agenda of the Executive Committee of Liberation, formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom, to which the Connolly Association was affiliated]. Kay Beauchamp proposed four new members of the EC. Brockway launched an attack. “Frankly, I’m afraid that if we put any more communists on it, we will affect the image of Liberation.” Then Key Beauchamp showed that all four were members of the Labour Party! And Stan Newens wasn’t there. So though they agreed with what was done so far, we got little further. I then went to the Central London branch meeting. Who should be there but Jim Argue, Eamonn MacLaughlin and Barbara MacLaughlin. Fenner Brockway asked me to help him draft a new Bill of Rights!
January 29 Thursday: I nearly finished the paper. Then I went to South London to talk about Ireland. There was a poor attendance. I saw Charlie Cunningham at the office and Mark Clinton telephoned to say he wanted to work full-time, but he is too unreliable, Michael Ryan too hotheaded and Eddie Cowman too inexperienced.
January 30 Friday: I finished the paper, most having been sent off yesterday. I rang up Kay Beauchamp to ask whether I could now send off the additional names to the printer, Dromey and Irene Brennan included. “Dear me! No!” she exclaimed. Tony Gilbert was in Angola and not to be got. Cohen had learned that the question of Irene Brennan as a speaker had not arisen on Wednesday. She had asked Tony Gilbert to do it but he had not judged it wise. So then Cohen “panicked” and rang Stan Newens whom he does not know. Newens was very upset and bluntly declined to have her. So now there is a deadlock. It was true, thought Kay Beauchamp, that we could manage without her and I left it that Kay Beauchamp would speak to Newens and try to persuade him to accept somebody else. This is the absurd result of Cohen’s private telephone line with Zeus on Olympus. He believes that he can manipulate the affairs of independent organisations from an office in Farringdon Road, without even knowing their personnel, and he thinks this is quite right. It is in fact the acme of arrogant sectishness. When I mentioned what had happened to Gerry Curran he remarked, “But this is just what they criticise the Russians for.” I would not say “just what”, but there is a common factor. I have a cold coming on, but went out with Eddie Cowman.
January 31 Saturday: I have a fierce cold and it was not good that Gerry Curran kept me waiting in the freezing cold at Shepherd’s Bush. By the time I got back I was feeling quite unwell, though he tried to make amends by driving me home. I got the impression that the situation at his home remains the same. It is not long since he was writing me indignantly abusive letters and poems. Now I am supposed to provide sympathy for him in his predicament! Well, most of my sympathy tonight was for myself.
February 1 Sunday: I did not get up till late and reached the office at about noon. I was feeling very unwell, stupid with cold. But we held an extended Executive Council, with Michael Crowe, Mark Clinton, Mick Ryan, Alf Ward and Barry Riordan from outside London, and a good turnout from London. After we had found that Michael Ryan, Mark Clinton and Eddie Cowman all wanted the full-time job I suggested that the three candidates get their heads together. Somebody suggested that a Standing Committee member as well should be present, so we sent Pat Bond. Within five minutes Mick Ryan and Mark Clinton had withdrawn in favour of Eddie Cowman, but Charlie Cunningham tells me that he had to take him off addressing envelopes because he was making a mess of it! Apparently Pat Bond had concentrated on reducing the number of candidates and had not given a thought to whether the candidates were able to do the job or not. When I proposed postponing the appointment Pat said, “But I thought you were going to train him.” “Not to address envelopes”, said I.
February 2 Monday (Liverpool): I had a desperately frustrating day. In the morning I was hardly able to work. Even Stella Bond remarked on my pallid appearance. I left my keys in the flat. I got a spare set from the office only to find the wrong one among them. I dashed after Stella in a taxi but missed her. I went out to Ealing where I got Toni Curran’s office key. Within the office again I could not find the right key. So I left on the 7.30 pm. train to Liverpool, bought a bottle of whiskey and after a drink went to bed, using Mr Brown’s key to get in.
February 3 Tuesday: I was flat out. Though I got up, I merely sat before the fire, read and drank whiskey and lemon.
February 4 Wednesday: Another day spent the same way.
February 5 Thursday: Another day spent the same way, but I am recovering and not before time.
February 6 Friday: I was well enough to get out and buy things and began to get my appetite back. Tony Coughlan rang in the evening. I did a little on the Sean O’Casey.
February 7 Saturday: This was the first day I felt like moving about more or less normally, though the cold has not yet begun to clear. By telephoning I learned that not a single invitation has gone out. The difficulty is that they are incapable of taking decisions. This shows the inevitability of management in human affairs. There were no stamps bought. “We haven’t much money.” But if we delay spending what we have we will lose what is left. Jane Tate said something about Charlie Cunningham’s mother having been taken ill in Spain. I wonder what he would be of use for if anything happened her. I hope it would not be a repetition of Eamon McLoughlin, whose entire driving fire disappeared when his mother died. But I think he is a stronger character.
I have just remembered that I bumped into Andrew Rothstein at King’s Cross before I came North. He had written to Scawen Blunt’s nephew asking about the poem Blunt had written about Casement in 1916 but never published. The nephew had replied saying that he had it but that he thought it would be necessary to consult the head of the family, who is Lord Lytton, grandson of the novelist. Andrew had written to Lytton, but so far had had no reply.
February 8 Sunday: I was again somewhat better and was able to do some work on the O’Casey project.
February 9 Monday (Dublin): Although I did not feel up to it really I went to Holyhead and over to Dun Laoire. Cathal met me at the barrier and brought me in to Dublin where I saw Tony Coughlan and went home with him [ie. to where he lived at 111 Meadow Grove, Dundrum].
February 10 Tuesday: The morning was taken up with the meeting with the ITGWU Executive. Fintan Kennedy took the chair. He is very much the “General President” and a likeable man. When I first went into the boardroom, perched high in Liberty Hall, there was a strange feeling of constraint, as if they had invited into their presence a somewhat unpredictable person who might say or do the most embarrassing things without the slightest warning. Nobody was going to be the first to speak. However, the ice thawed and we parted on the best of terms. There seems no reason why the project should not proceed. Michael Mullen asked me to draft some heads of agreement for his Finance Committee.
Then I had lunch with Tony Coughlan who told me that the Officials had invited CPs from all over the world to their Ard Fheis and none of them had come, so they were blaming Michael O’Riordan. Moreover, they had gradually infiltrated members into the Resources Protection committee, which had done useful non-party work and had carried out a “takeover” just as they had with NICRA. Cathal confirmed this when I saw him later. It is said to be Smullen’s doing. His gaol sentences have given him glamour with the young and he now flies “like a tea-tray in the sky” as “Economic Director” of Sinn Fein and has himself photographed moving economic pieces about on a large board shaped like the map of Ireland. I remember him in the Connolly Association in or around 1952-3. He was not long out of gaol then. Later he dropped out of the Connolly Association and the CP and then got mixed up in the Huddersfield absurdity[Eamon Smullen had been sentenced to five years imprisonment in 1969 for arms offences in Britain connected with the Official IRA]. And now, says Cathal, he may be aspiring to Tom Gills’s position [ie. as President of “Official” Sinn Fein]. “It may be no harm if he does,” said Cathal, “as he’d quickly ruin them and that might not be for the worst either.” I notice on all sides the same impatience with Sinn Fein that I feel myself. This claim to national decision-making without popular mandate is objectionable and I think there is an element of it inherent in the idea of a Communist Party with a special status in a socialist state, which requires serious examination, though it is not a subject I ever gave much thought to.
February 11 Wednesday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool.
February 12 Thursday (London): I pottered around in the morning and wrote letters. I had heard from Bertha Taylor that she can now only move around with a stick and that she is finding difficulty in keeping her “home help”. I told her that if she needed somebody to go and see the Council, I was prepared to do it for her. She is 80 now. Mabel Taylor must be 87. She has had one operation for cataract and expects the other in May.
I came to London on the 3.04 and slept most of the way. I saw Charlie Cunningham.
February 13 Friday: I felt somewhat better and came into the office. Quite a few circulars have been dispatched. I was in Camden Town with Charlie Cunningham.
February 14 Saturday: I was in the office most of the day. Charlie Cunningham has had to go to Spain to bring back his mother and left this afternoon. Gerry Curran is at a choir school. Tony Donaghey slipped on a patch of ice while getting off his bicycle and is in hospital with a broken hip. I was out in Hammersmith with Jim Kelly.
February 15 Sunday: I was in the office most of the day and went to Holloway with Chris Sullivan in the evening.
February 16 Monday: I arranged with Tony Gilbert that he would hold a meeting tomorrow at 2 pm. at the “Liberation” Office. In the evening I went to address Croydon YCL. Ken Brinson was there and we had a drink before the meeting. I pulled his leg. “You see I’ve ventured into rebel Surrey”[a reference to so-called “hardline” CPGB members under Sid French being strong in this CP district].He told me that Sid French was very popular from being such a hard worker. Brinson himself lived in Ireland for a year and was a member of the CPI. I do not think he speaks any Welsh as when I greeted him in that language, he did not even reply in English. He is critical of Gollan’s article on Russian democracy, describing it as an impertinence. He did not believe in free speech for capitalists. I told him it was not quite as simple as that. But he thought I was pulling his leg. I told him that Russia and China argued for years over the merits of Albania, while it was really themselves they were talking about. I think on balance let people get things off their chests. The less censorship the less seriously is the uncensored taken. Robbie Rossiter was there. He said they should put Sid French on the CP Executive and see how he got on. I’m inclined to agree with that too. On the whole, the meeting was not bad. Robbie Rossiter has a great respect for Ken Brinson but says he is one weakness – women. He is separated from his wife and is at present living with one of the YCLs, who was there. He is, incidentally, a biochemist doing a postgraduate course.
February 17 Tuesday: I was about to go to the MCF when it occurred to me to telephone. I was told that Tony Gilbert had forgotten to arrange the meeting and had gone to Liverpool. I went to see Jack Woddis and urged action from that end. Then I went to the House of Lords to meet Fenner Brockway. Geoffrey Bing was in the lobby. He comes here often to see Leslie Hale,” said Brockway. “I don’t know what far. But he’s a queer fellow, Geoffrey.” “A pity”, said I, “with excellent abilities wasted.” In his new office, shared with six peers who never attend and in an extension without a lavatory, he unfolded his plan. He proposes to take a few paragraphs of the NICRA Bill of Rights, follow on with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, then conclude with more NICRA. He thinks he will conform with fashion. He asked had I the time to do the drafting. I chuckled to myself, thinking of the effect of posting the whole caboosh to Gerry Cohen so that “the party” could draft it. I told him I was too busy, but could think of nobody better than Joan Hyman. She had gone back to work after her motor crash and she was too busy, so he said he would find somebody else. I expect him to run into legal difficulties and to be back for fresh advice later. He says Gerry Fitt is all for it and he will circulate the result.
Then in the evening, the Standing Committee met.
February 18 Wednesday: There has been no sign of the Rock Writers who have gone bankrupt [These were sub-tenants of the Connolly Association at 283 Grays Inn Road]. I therefore went into their office to investigate. We found cheques scattered all over the place, books, poems in manuscript clothes new and old, including dirty laundry, and the utmost confusion. The strange weedy individual who wandered in and out and who was sleeping on the premises till we told him he couldn’t and changed the lock, is seen no more. He was to have collected his property last weekend. I therefore wrote to the Society’s bank, discovered thanks to the cheques, and asked for the address of the principals.
February 19 Thursday (Liverpool): I met Sam Levenson and his wife for lunch at St. Pancras station. He has completed his “Maud Gonne” and says that the “Servant of the Queen”[ie. Maud Gonne MacBride’s autobiography] is most of it sheer invention. Lee was with him and was in good form. He tells me some young fellow is writing a life of Tom Johnson. He was very surprised to learn that I knew Tom Johnson so well. But I wish I had kept his letters. In the afternoon I went to Liverpool.
February 20 Friday: I spent the day in and around the house. The weather is still chilly, but not bad.
February 21 Saturday (Dublin): I went to Dublin via Holyhead and Tony Coughlan met me at Dun Laoire. I saw Tomás MacGiolla for a moment at a social in Mountjoy Square and told him I intended to see Sean Kenny over the demand that we should publish a letter attacking the “Provisionals”. We discussed this on February 1st and unanimously decided not to print. I was to have written to Kenny but was too unwell and left the matter in abeyance.
February 22 Sunday: Tony Coughlan and I went for a short walk in the morning, and in the afternoon went to the Shelbourne Hotel for the Irish Sovereignty Movement’s seminar. Among old friends were Sean Redmond, Tom Redmond, Sean Nolan, Colm Power, who had come specially from Waterford, Joy Rudd, as well as Daltún O Ceallaigh, Micheál O Loingsigh and others. I thought it reasonably useful. Roy Johnston who was there had told me that he is on an Education Committee of the CPI and suggested that I should be invited to address a school. He was astonished at the opposition, which was almost vicious. The grounds were that you were virtually a “Provisional”.
“Was that Jimmy Stewart?”
“The running was made by two Englishmen, but he backed them up.”
So there it is – still going on.
Jeffares was there and Sam Nolan. I went out of my way to be pleasant to the former, but I could see that the other was an extinct volcano, and indeed asked silly questions. I thought I might have affected Jeffares by linking the Six County issue with that of peace for which he did good work in the past.
February 23 Monday: I went to see Helga, then met Tony Coughlan. In Bernardo’s [an Italian restaurant in Lincoln Place at the back of Trinity College] we saw Michael O’Leary and Michael Mullen having lunch together [O’Leary was then Minister for Labour in the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government]. O’Leary was trying to persuade Mullen to accept “worker participation” à la continentale, or so Mullen told us. He told me that the Executive Council had appointed Daltún O Ceallaigh to keep “liaison” with me. He had not yet told Daltún. We will see what this means. On the way to TCD back gate we met Loretta Keating [ie. the wife of Justin Keating TD], who was most genial, gave me a “nice kiss” and said she was studying the harpsichord. I promised to go and see Justin as soon as he is no longer a Minister. “There are all kinds of things we are promising ourselves when the Government falls,” said she.
Then I went to see Kenny, whom I had telephoned [Sean Kenny was responsible for overseeing Official Sinn Fein affairs in Britain]. I expected him to bring somebody else with him, which he did – Smullen. It was as bad as a discussion with Irene Brennan. The trouble is that whereas twenty years ago I knew I had time ahead of me and I resisted and defeated the nonsense of the late fifties and won fifteen years of peace. But to fight now means abandoning everything else, and this I cannot do now. So somebody else will have to do the fighting. I am too old.
Still to record it insofar as it is recordable, Smullen said that the CPI would never appeal to the mass of the people in Ireland, but that Sinn Fein could do so, on essentially the same policy. He regarded the “Provisionals” as the most “counter-revolutionary” force in Ireland, aiming to behead “the revolutionary movement”. He thought that if the circulation of the “Irish Democrat” was to be reduced to a tenth it should still pursue what he considered the “revolutionary socialist line”. I could not promise to publish the article, but this greatly annoyed Kenny. Smullen said that Micheál O Loingsigh was an “undercover Provisional”. They knew this from their “intelligence service”. They did not think that a British withdrawal from Ireland would help much. They wanted a Bill of Rights and the restoration of a local assembly in Northern Ireland, based on majority government as “that is democracy.” At the seminar Jack Bennett had tackled Des Geraghty, who had denounced “power-sharing”. Smullen considered the Irish Sovereignty Movement a useless organisation. Indeed nobody was any good but themselves. He said Gerald O’Reilly (“of Cork”) was a CIA agent.
Finally Kenny descended to blackmail? “If you don’t publish,” said he, “we’ll publish it and we’ll take the matter up with organisations connected with you in England.” This is a veiled reference to the CPGB and Irene Brennan’s position in it. I said I thought that my committee would not like to be thought yielding to threats. When they left they said they hoped for better relations. I said I hoped for the same.
I immediately went to see Sean Nolan, who thought the letter should not be published. “They are terribly sectarian,” he said. They are trying to push the CPI aside. Recently they captured the Resources Protection Society [properly the Resources Protection Campaign] in the same way as they “captured” NICRA a few years ago – their members joined in ones and twos during the month before the AGM, then proposed a new constitution in which Sinn Fein was given a “special position”. Tony Coughlan protested to Tomás MacGiolla, who tried to set matters right. Last night Colm Power, Tony Coughlan and others met at Cathal’s.
I took the night boat for London.
February 24 Tuesday (London): I was in the office all day working on the paper. In the evening the young “Rocker”, whose name is Simons, rang. He said he would call tomorrow. I warned him that we had been cleaning the place up and that things might have been thrown away.
The bank told us that as we operate from the same building as the Rock Cooperative, they would give us no information but asked for the cheques. I replied that if they gave us an authority duly signed we would do so. Now Toni Curran was to have asked Seifert [ie. the Connolly Association’s solicitor] about the legal position. Instead she asked the accountant. He said “take whatever is useful to you in lieu of rent and put everything else in the street!” I asked Seifert about this and he said it was incorrect law. As a result of the accountant’s advice the members have scattered the Rockers’ property through the building! So I had to go searching for it. Not that one would worry if something was missing. There seems a conflict of law and practice in these matters.
February 25 Wednesday: Young Simons called in the evening. The poems were worthy of him. We found most of his things, but I refused to give them up until he would get the Rock’s surviving officials to testify that they were his. He telephoned a man called Herman who claimed to be the Treasurer. But what if there is a receiver? Herman undertook to call on Saturday and bring proof of his position. It is clear that they are decent young people, many of them just out of College, but without a clue about business.
“We’re creative artist,” said Simons.
“There have been good businessmen among the very greatest creative artists,’ said I.
February 26 Thursday: I am practically finished the paper. I rang the Official Receiver asking if the Rock Society were in his hands. He said not. Their bank has apologised for their previous answer but added that they do not know the present principals. Hunting through the papers we deduced that they may have debts of at least £9000. Charlie Cunningham has been to Spain to bring back his mother and he tells me she is now in hospital.
February 27 Friday: I saw Cs as well as Brian Crowley in the book shop. Later Crowley told me he had challenged Cs about not doing the job, which Crowley says he must give up owing to a weak heart. But he strongly insists that nobody must know he might fall down dead any minute. Meanwhile he runs up the stairs as gaily as a ten year old. I can conceive the medical excuse is for my benefit. He has got Cs to take over from mid-March, but I do not think he is sufficiently interested. But if he fails Charlie Cunningham will take over and Eddie Cowman will take over the Central London branch. Brian Crowley told me that Pat O’Donohue has suddenly improved. I said possibly Pat Bond, whom I told that one of my reasons for wanting to resign is the impossibility of keeping control of financial policy, for which I am nonetheless legally responsible, had spoken to Toni Curran. “That’s strange,” said Brian Crowley, “I had told Pat Bond that that was similar to my reason for resigning.” Possibly Toni Curran has had a discussion with the man. He complained of lack of cooperation from Gerry Curran who, he says, is liable to be in bed at three in the afternoon.
One of Fishers’ accountants is a Kenneth Rushworth, who got interested in Ireland through collecting Irish stamps and now collects almost everything. He told me that he had a cheque of the ITGWU No.2. account which he understood was that of the Citizen Army. He also had a stamp issued by the Larkin sustentation committee signed by Larkin. I was able to tell him what this was.
Then I remembered I had to speak at a YCL school in Luton tomorrow and had to arrange for Brian Crowley and Charlie Cunningham to replace me with the Rockers. I told them only to give Herman the stuff if he could prove himself entitled to it.
February 28 Saturday: I came into the office early, then went to Luton. There were five present from Hitchen and Watford, none from Luton. Tom Mitchell told me it was not his fault that Paul McDonald was doing so little work with the Irish. He had wanted him to concentrate on it, but there had been some collapse in the local branch. Zoe Moran, his girl friend, had taken on the secretaryship but was not able for it. So Paul was doing it in effect. They had not consulted Tom Mitchell. So here is an example of how the historical opportunity was lost. The Irish socialist adopts the outlook of the English socialist at the lowest level, and the more advanced man is not even consulted, even when he exists. They were quite pleasant intelligent young people and I did not think the day wasted.
I came back to London and was out with Eddie Cowman, who is at any rate willing to learn.
February 29 Sunday: We held the Standing Committee in the morning. We discussed the Kenny blackmail and decided not to print the letter, but to offer them space to explain their positive policies. Once the excuse to cause mischief is out of the way, we can find ways of balancing the concession. Undoubtedly they take issue with me in my contention that their origin is petty-bourgeois and dates back to the Fenians, whereas I derive the CPI from the ISRP [ie. James Connolly’s Irish Socialist Republican Party]. Secondly they think because I imply that the “Provisionals” are in the main tradition, that I prefer their policies whereas I merely consider that they have to be reckoned with, as a petty bourgeoisie still survives in Ireland along with the unsolved national question. So we will see what they do.
I have already remarked that Toni Curran has of late seemed less certain of the soundness of her judgement. Pat O’Donohue complained to Brian Crowley that “the boy with a lovely smile” had not been told what to do. Crowley informed him that he was not capable of doing anything. I added that when I had told him what to do, viz. call a conference to discuss the “Irish Democrat”, he had refused to do it because he had been told, presumably by Toni, that what was wanted was a meeting of sellers. By slow degrees and possibly with the aid of Gerry Curran and Pat Bond, she may have drawn the conclusion that she might be mistaken.
She had invited Eddie Cowman out for tea today, out of “womanly curiosity” no doubt. Now she invited me to lunch and I agreed to go. So something of a reconciliation was effected. She let Gerry go to the public house and generally made herself pleasant. Young Neil has a trombone. Conor plays the fiddle. Toni plays the piano in a limited way but can accompany Conor in simple things. They asked me to play and I agreed. Then Conor tried an extract from the Vivaldi in G minor and produced a false relation in the first couple of bars. Now he is only 10 but a thing is in the major or the minor. I deduce he plays by reading note after note and does not envisage the whole, so that if he reads the note wrong or forgets the whole line is flattened, then the note played is wrong. I advised Toni Curran to have more theory taught. Apparently his teacher is not teaching him any.
Of course Toni started pumping Eddie Cowman. Her hands were reciprocating and her shoulders bent. But I kept pulling her leg: “Is the interrogation halfway through?” Then she took him into the kitchen when I fell asleep and the grilling continued, but constantly interrupted by the telephone. No doubt he had made quite a good confession before it was time to get out. But he had realised from the start what was the motive, and indeed thought the whole thing an amusing harmless exercise. I do not think Eddie was the slightest interested in the music. Toni Curran is busy with the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri and Gerry sings in the church choir and recently joined a local opera society and is even said to be learning the piano. I can’t regret all this but it explains neglect of other things. Then we went out on a sale.
March 1 Monday (Liverpool): The fine dry weather continues. I went first to Ripley, then on to Liverpool, arriving early because Reynolds was not able to print today. I found the quince in bloom, also the rosemary, to say nothing of snowdrops and the Forsythia just coming out. There was a letter from the Canon at St. Mary’s saying that many people had approached him about O’Casey, but I was the first to suggest his parents may have been married there.
March 2 Tuesday: I spent the day about the house without much result, I am afraid.
March 3 Wednesday: I managed to get in a few hours in the garden, but I have another cold.
March 4 Thursday: Again, I got some work done in the garden.
March 5 Friday: More gardening, but the weather, though still dry, is turning cold. Toni Curran says that Tony Gilbert has done nothing about the Brockway statement he was to get.
March 6 Saturday: I had a few words with Charlie Cunningham on the phone. The applications for the conference are coming in very slowly. The reason is the state of the Labour Movement and the apparent hopelessness of the Irish position.
March 7 Sunday: I did some more gardening, and rushed planting some potatoes. Then I prepared the lecture on Saint Patrick, or rather began it.
March 8 Monday (London): I prepared and sent “heads of agreement” to Michael Mullen, as soon as I got to London.
March 9 Tuesday: I spent all day working on the conference. We can get no publicity in the “Morning Star”. I sent them an article, wrote to Jack Woddis, spoke to Frank Watters and Tony Coughlan, asking him to get an interview with Terence McCaughey, spoke to Tom Mitchell, Tony Gilbert, Toni Curran, wrote to Michael Crowe, Mark Clinton and Peter Mulligan, spoke to Vic Eddisford, Sid French, Patsy Byrne, Eamonn MacLaughlin and Charlie Cunningham. I wrote to the NCCL asking the name of their speaker, also the NUS [National Union of Students].
March 10 Wednesday: I asked Toni Curran to go and see MacLua[Brendan MacLua, editor of the weekly “Irish Post” newspaper in Britain] , prepared a press statement I sent to the “Morning Star” and Jack Woddis, spoke to John Hoffman and Tony Gilbert, rang McLelland at Liverpool, sent an appeal to all ‘Irish Democrat” sellers, ordered 500 credential cards from Ripley, spoke to Pat Bond and George Smith when he called. I learned later that Toni Curran had seen MacLua, and did many other things. In the evening Pat Clancy addressed the branch on old Irish history [Clancy had been CA general secretary in the 1950s].
March 11 Thursday: Another day of intensive work for the Conference. I drafted a statement which Fenner Brockway promised to sign, typed it and sent copies to Jack Woddis and others. I am doing this to show in certain quarters that the exiguity of “Morning Star” publicity is not due to material not being sent them. Tony Coughlan undertook to get an interview with Terence McCaughey. I spoke to Dai Richards [leading Welsh Trade Unionist] who told me that Bert Pearce had brought some conference material from London [He was South Wales CP organiser]. He promised to send me some names and I wrote to those he gave me over the telephone. I wrote to George Reese and Dai Ffrancis [South Wales Miners leader].
March 12 Friday: I spoke to John Bloomfield, who told me the NUS conference meets on April 5-9. He advised me to speak to Alastair Stewart and John Webster. The Secretary of the former told me he was ill and Webster was at a demonstration in the rain. I spoke to Westacott who gave me the Trades Council address and I also wrote to John Peck [CP secretaries in the Midlands with Trade Union connections]. I then spoke to the NUS secretary, Sue Slipman, who agreed to try to get a token representation from London. I then sent out a press statement with copies to Myant and Woddis.
March 13 Saturday: I circularised 19 women’s organisations. I spoke to Barry Reardon, who is doing reasonably well in Oxford. But he tells me the Trades Council has fallen to the Trotskies. This has happened in many places and the attitude of some of our good colleagues on the Irish question and their deep suspicion of the Connolly Association has helped to bring this about. Tanvir and Leahy are so anxious to be the big fellows that they would rather be defeated then allow anybody else an idea in his head. I wrote to the Young Liberals and the Irish Centre, Camden Community Relations Committee and the Law Centre. A letter from the NUS said they could not support us because of their own conference. But the Liverpool Students are coming. According to Charlie Cunningham, Tom Durkin is exerting his influence to keep people away, using the excuse that I did not go to the Clann na hEireann conference.
March 14 Sunday: I spoke to Michael Crowe, who told me the Labour Movement in the North of England is disorganised – too few people to do too many things, and the Irish question too controversial. The students have swung to the right and there are no cars. I wrote to Peter Mulligan [Connolly Association activist in Northampton] and sent personal letters to Harry Francis and Alan Sapper[General Secretary of the Cinematograph Workers Union].
March 15 Monday: I spoke to Tom Mitchell, who said he had promised, but no more. I rang Tony Gilbert and tried to get him off his backside. I learned from Vic Eddisford that he has failed to get support from the regional TUC. Finally I got Webster and sent him six invitations. I sent invitations to students in Kent. A Troops Out Movement circular was sent in by Bannister. I sent a photostat to Jack Woddis. I see that Michael Mullen has not supported them. Tony Coughlan said he sent the Terence McCaughey interview to the “Morning Star”. I rang Alf Lomas but he promised to ring back and didn’t [Lomas was political secretary of the London Cooperative Society]. The Derbyshire Miners told me Joe Whelan was in Italy. It is well to be some people! I spoke to Frank Watters, who said that there were muddles due to the inefficiency of Mark Clinton and others. He had offered them the use of the Star Club for Wednesday and they had not availed of it. He would have to put an advert in the “Morning Star” himself. I sent the Troops Out Movement photostat to Tony Coughlan and asked him about the Larkin commemoration. Woddis telephoned. He had had Toni Curran’s letter of complaint about the “Morning Star’s” failure to support us. He will be away in Germany next week. It is well to be other people also! I sent a personal letter to Andy Higgins asking him to secure delegates from his branch and asked Eddie Cowman to call down to him. I am doing nothing but work on this conference. But when it is over, there will be a change!
March 16 Tuesday: The article I sent to the “Morning Star: nearly two weeks ago has not been published. I therefore wrote another, which took a good part of the day, and sent it to them, hoping that this would commend itself to them better. I sent a copy to Jack Woddis. There was an inquiry from Bradford which I replied to.
March 17 Wednesday: I continued the chasing all day and in the evening gave the Central London Branch an historical talk on Saint Patrick, which aroused very great interest. There was a “wee party” afterwards.
March 18 Thursday: I have had nothing from Tony Gilbert and the NCCL. Finally I got the first and he promised to send the applications he had in to me. I rang Vic Eddisford and offered to visit Manchester next Monday and go around the trade union offices. He said “Leave it with me” and there I expect it to remain. Finally I got the NCCL who said they were sending three delegates and Jack Dromey as the speaker. I went to South London to give the St Patrick talk. Only three turned up and one of them, Jim McKeever, showed signs of having been influenced by the Clann na hEireann effort. I expect a fiasco from all this, but have more important responsibilities than trying to prevent it, though I will of course do so subject to the priority of those responsibilities.
March 19 Friday: Toni Curran rang. There has been nothing in the “Morning Star”. She promised to write to Myant again. Tony Gilbert promised to ring Bill Dunn and see Webster, taking with him applications. He had the graciousness to admit that he had not done the work he had promised on the conference. The “Morning Star” had not yet been to Fenner Brockway for the promised article. I rang Sid French, who said he had been able to persuade Kingston AUEW [ie. Engineering Workers Union] to come in. He is more honest than most of them, but has a touch of naivety so that he must always take everything on the nose. He would try Sutton and Croyden. I rang Tony McNally and told him none of his references had come forward. He said he had had a discussion with Leahy and had three CPs coming from Coventry.
I spoke to Frank Watters. He was obviously very angry about something. The 17th was not a flop. But Mark Clinton and the others had done nothing about it and had come late expecting this. When there they had hung above the bar instead of talking to people. Clinton and Michael Ryan were cynical in their attitude to the party – and lots more. I said I would see him on Monday.
March 20 Saturday: At last the “Morning Star” published an article, my first one. In the morning Brian Crowley was there with Jim Cosgrave, complaining that Cs had not been in the bookshop for a fortnight. Crowley says that the reason he wishes to give up is his weak heart, but insists I tell nobody about it. He seems to be bursting with energy to me and never hesitates to run up the stairs. He was complaining to Cs about the failure of the “Morning Star” to give the conference publicity, and Cs replied, “The CP is switching its support to Clann na hEireann.” I have no doubt that there are those who would like this to happen. In the evening I was out with Eddie Cowman and referred to Adrian Gallagher of Clann na hEireann, who had written for credentials. “That’s the fellow who beat up the two young fellows,” said Eddie Cowman. Now Mark Clinton had told me about this this incident, how he found this character knocking the two young boys about for some infraction of Republican discipline. I told Eddie Cowman about it, but I did not tell him the name as I did not know it. That means that Eddie has other sources of information. He has too much regard for the “Officials” for my liking. He often makes quite penetrating and unusual political remarks, and I ascribed this to thoughtfulness. I now wonder whether to ascribe it to contact with other people. There is no date for his working for us full time, and I am not disposed to hurry unduly.
March 21 Sunday (Birmingham): We had a Standing Committee in the morning. Toni Curran and Pat O’Donohue were there, the latter almost human in her ladyship’s presence. He even made one or two sensible suggestions and contrived to keep his temper throughout with no more than minor intervals of forgetfulness. I thought of an idea to meet the “Officials’” onslaught – a day school to be taken by Sean Redmond.
Then I went to Birmingham where Mark Clinton met me at the station. He gave a very different account of last Wednesday’s social and said that when Frank Watters told me they had sold 165 papers, he was “chancing his arm”, as he did not know and couldn’t possibly know. Whatever about that he undertook to come in with me and see Watters. I think it is a storm in a teacup. The meeting was the best yet, with 24 present, and it would be foolish to deny that Mark Clinton is working very hard and has achieved the seemingly impossible. But I think if anybody but Frank Watters had been there, he would not have been able to do it, so that it is a pity they do not get on better. Michael Ryan told me he would like to come to London if Charlie Cunningham could get him a job in Rolls Royce.
March 22 Monday (Liverpool): Mark Clinton and I went to see Frank Watters and I think the air was cleared. One important thing Watters said was that he was not going to allow Clann na hEireann to gain a footing and had refused them the use of the Club. I rather thought he had allowed them to have a meeting there, but he is giving it to Mark Clinton for socials without making any charge. I then came back to Liverpool.
March 23 Tuesday: I planted seven pounds of early potatoes and did some much-needed laundry. I never get a minute to write in.
March 24 Wednesday (London): Skelly wants “Wolfe Tone” made into a book [to be based on the booklet “Wolfe Tone and the Irish Nation” that Greaves had written in 1963 for the bicentenary of Tone’s birth]. So here is another commission I have no time to carry out. I returned to London.
March 25 Thursday: I found a letter Gerry Curran had enclosed with the book page, which was in a chaotic state. I was told by Stella Bond that she had read the letter and we agreed to keep it all quiet for the time being.
I went to the House of Commons last night and returned tonight to see Stan Newens and Arthur Latham. Tony Gilbert was there. He has done nothing for the conference and admits it in a most engaging manner. I told him that Ireland is not far enough away. If there were infringements of liberty in Timbuktu or Antarctica the noble democratic conscience of the Englishman would rise up in defence of the right, especially if the wrong was committed by some other nation. I had a drink with him afterwards. He said that the “Morning Star” had proved a disgrace and that this afternoon Kate Beauchamp had gone to see them. Of Myant he said, “He’s a big-headed cunt” and wishes the older generation would die off quickly and leave no obstruction to his making his way in the world. He thinks the same is true of Irene Brennan. I came to the office and saw Eddie Cowman, Jane Tate and Charlie Cunningham.
Another person in Tony Gilbert’s black books is Stephen Hart. He was given the job of Secretary of “Liberation” because of his mother’s being a Cabinet Minister. They were so delighted that they pushed him on to the District Political Committee. He also is a “big-headed young fellow” and had actually proposed to the committee, with all the old experienced hands listening in astonishment, that he should go to Ireland and “sort out” the Irish question (This must have been just before he came in to see me with all his ill-digested plans). But every week “Liberation” got deeper into debt, and he pursued his erratic course without consulting anybody. Yesterday he rang up in great excitement. His mother has dropped “Liberation” like a ton of bricks. Head-counting has convinced her that Michael Foot has a good chance of being the next Prime Minister and she will be sure of a seat in the Cabinet if she is a good girl. And she has resolved to be one, at any rate till the issue is clear.
Charlie Cunningham tells me that his mother has rallied well after her operation.
March 26 Friday: I continued work on the paper but was subject to continual interruption. Brian Crowley has handed over the book shop to Cs, who in my opinion is unfit for the responsibility and did not appear today. In the evening I was in Hammersmith with Eddie Cowman, who has much native wit and makes his own shrewd comments as well as those that might conceivably be derivative.
March 27 Saturday: I continued on the paper but again with endless interruptions. In the afternoon Jane Tate and I went to Pat Bond’s “jumble sale”. We never saw the like. At 2.29 the room was empty but for the South London members standing behind a ring of trestles heaped with old clothes, bric-a-brac, electrical fittings, pots and pans and God knows what else. At 2.30 there were 150 people milling around and pushing the trestles back and the sellers through the windows! Ferret-nosed old women picked through the clothing. Students bought shirts for 5p. and carried them away without any wrapping. Dozens of the most rubbishy books sold at 3p. each. It was, as Jim McKeever remarked, “an eye-opener”.
Scarcely had I got back when there appeared the woman Tony Coughlan had wished on to Toni Curran, now thrown out and destitute in Camden Town [This was a Dublin girl who had asked A.Coughlan for contacts in London where she was emigrating]. She said that Toni Curran had suggested that when her job came to an end on Wednesday, she should come in and help me with the conference. I was not too pleased. I will tell her that she can only hinder me and advise her to look after her own affairs. Not of course that I am bound to accept Gerry Curran’s view of her. Whatever about that she went off for “coffee” with Glendening and that gentleman failed to keep his appointment with Gerry and myself at Shepherd’s Bush.
March 28 Sunday: I was in the office most of the day. In the evening Charlie Cunningham came in and said his mother did not look so well as before. Possibly shock. Eddie Cowman was in and trying to learn to type. But he can’t spell. I told him Mairin Johnston’s story of thinking that “extreme unction” was “extra Munction” whereupon he said, “My God. I thought that.” So how will we educate him? Charlie Cunningham and I went to Kilburn. The bomb that went off last night did not help. We had leaflets, however, and found that they evoked a favourable response.
March 29 Monday (Liverpool): I was in the office until about 1 pm., when I went to Leeds to meet a Miss Kellegher who, together with the Bradford CP, wishes to set up a branch of the Connolly Association in the city. She was a former student of Lancaster and had been at my talk there, and with her was the CP chairman. They want a public meeting at the end of June (I am only accepting meetings when they fit my own schedule from the end of this month onward). She suggested Irene Brennan “because of the pamphlet”, but as I can scarcely imagine that lady encouraging the Connolly Association, I diverted her interest elsewhere. They told me that two years ago they started a Clann na hEireann and seemingly accommodated it in the CP premises. To their surprise (and I add not to mine when I heard it) police raided the place and captured some guns. They did not interfere with the CP and I did not ask what happened to the Clann na hEireann. And this is what that mad creature is anxious to risk. I went on to Liverpool.
March 30 Tuesday: I had to leave early so as to get to Ripley. Originally I was to have been in Ripley yesterday, but first Gerry Curran’s book page was in a disorganised state. Second, Cs did not come in to open the book shop on Friday and I was constantly interrupted – consequence, £10 extra expenditure. The paper went smoothly enough and I was back in London by 8 pm. Central London Branch had a committee meeting, with Charlie Cunningham, Jane Tate, Eddie Cowman, Chris Sullivan and Jim Kelly. Undoubtedly Eddie Common is quite a driving force and he silenced Jim Kelly by asking, in response to his cynical negativisms, what were his propositions? But Cs. remarked to Brian Crowley last week that the “Morning Star” was giving little publicity to the Conference “on orders from top level” and that the CP was going to back Clann na hEireann. This is of course nonsense as no fewer than four Districts and twelve branches [ie. of the CPGB] are sending delegates, immeasurably more than ever before. But perhaps somebody is spreading the tale.
March 31 Wednesday: I was busy all day on the Conference, as also was Stella Bond, who has a filthy cold. In the evening Tony Gilbert addressed the branch on his visit to Angola. Steve Huggett is back for a few days from Norwich. Young Tony Martin, now immersed in Clann na hEireann, called in at midday, I take it to spy out the land, for even younger Tony Monaghan came in for two credentials in the evening and remained for the meeting. There are about 170 delegates booked and paid for, so that it should not be an utter disgrace. Mark Clinton rang and said nobody to speak of turned up at the branch meeting last Sunday. But he is certainly doing some good work. The minibus is not available, but they are bringing three car-loads. I note that the British Peace Committee is sending Alastair Renwick, the former Anti- Internment League secretary – so this is where Colin Sweet has ended up. Yet he is still in the Communist Party!
April 1 Thursday: I was busy all morning on the conference. Then in the evening I had to address the North Kensington CP on the national question. Barbara MacLaughlin invited me to have a meal with them. It seems that Eamonn MacLaughlin is now comparatively prosperous and every kind of drink is in the house [Eamon MacLaughlin had been General Secretary of the Connolly Association in the late 1950o. He worked for British Railways and he and his wife Barbara lived in Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington]. He told me that he called on Justin Keating when he was in Ireland and that he lives in a luxurious palace. There were only about eight people at the class. I was surprised at the anti-Sovietism displayed by one of the student-teacher members. Nobody challenged him. I hope they don’t find themselves unable to oppose a war as a result of all this. I am afraid I do not feel confident that pulling out the mote from somebody else’s eye is any relief from the mote in one’s own.
After the meeting I went back to a Eamon MacLaughlin’s and Des Logan came too. We sat talking so long that I had to stay overnight. Eamon is now very prosperous, having landed a do-nothing job in British Railways at £5000 a year.
April 2 Friday: I was busy in the office all day. Sunday’s conference may not be powerful, but it will not be a disgrace. However, I have dropped everything else and tired myself out at it, and it is the last time. I was out with Chris Sullivan in Camden Town. He is beginning to reflect Pegeen O’Flaherty’s thinking [ie. the lady whom he had recently married]. Last Wednesday she said she could not “find it in her heart” to condemn those who were putting bombs where they would blow up innocent people. Tonight Chris was saying, “It is war. That’s all it is, and anything is fair.” I asked who had given a mandate for war. It is hard to find a balanced view, either one is an “Official” or a “Provisional:”, a supporter or a condemner; and just as the history of a country arises unintended from the conflicts between classes, so that of the national and labour movements comes from the contentions of groups only interested in themselves.
After Chris Sullivan left I stayed in the “Mother Redcap” for another whiskey. Camden Town has become an odd place since the “Black Cap” went over to “drag”. There were two obvious homosexuals at the bar making themselves ridiculous in public, the one clapping the other on the back and holding his hands on every conceivable occasion. The second was the passive partner, smiling on all occasions, the soul of making himself agreeable. There was with them a London Transport employee. Then there came in another young man who I would have sworn was a policeman but for being smaller than they usually are. He was dead quiet and very angry. He accused them of stealing something. I expected drama when the manager said something quietly to a barman, who looked at him suspiciously and went off I thought to telephone. But then the first character shouted saying, “We’ll give it you back” and the Transport man went out and brought a shoulder bag which the newcomer accepted. I presume they were in the “Black Cap” and the quiet young fellow had not looked after his property properly. Yet he could not tear himself away and the last I saw of him was his standing in the street talking to the [word unclear here] individual who was still smiling. When I got back to 33 Argyle Square I was disturbed by thumps and a woman’s screams in a hotel opposite. A lovely place – London. Pity it was ever built.
April 3 Saturday: Again I was in the office. But in the evening Steve Huggett took out Jim Kelly. Ann Doherty, who came in from Reading, took Chris Sullivan, and I met Gerry Curran in Hammersmith [ie. selling the monthly paper]. Toni Curran and Pat O’Donohue had been in during the week and show themselves more accommodating than I remember for some time. Gerry says that Pat O’Donohue has not been to the house. Of course they act like grown-up children. Outside the Richmond, a young man in his early twenties dressed all in denim was giving a girl accompanying him resounding slaps on the face and a few kicks on the backside. She was screaming but did not run into the public house for protection. Nobody took any notice, except for an odd glance. And who would know if they interfered, they might not get a razor slash from herself!
April 4 Sunday: I was busy in the office at 7.45 am., then went to the hall. The conference turned out a success, with about 250 people present. Stan Newens [Labour MP for Harlow], opened the first session, Fenner Brockway the second, while in the afternoon Miss Joe Richardson [Labour MP for Barking] took the chair. The “Troops Out immediately” merchants were quickly trounced. Not that all ran smooth. Paddy Devlin had not arrived at 11 am., nor Terence McCaughey. I had to go to the office and telephone their wives and then go back again when they arrived late. Terence McCaughey made a brilliant speech, Charlie Cunningham told me the British Peace Committee were saying, “How is it that we’ve never heard of him? We must bring him to one of our functions.” I will put a stop to that alright! Towards the end, one of the Clann na hEireanns made a bitter attack on the “Provisionals”. This was taken up by that half-witted emotional ass Les Burt, Irene Brennan’s crony. As an Englishman he might perhaps have refrained from telling the Irish how to conduct their affairs. But their heads are as big as their brains are small, so no wonder we can hear some rattling. Irene Brennan made an utterly dull speech full of “raising questions” and “develop furthers”, which however I mostly didn’t listen to. Bob Allen of West Middlesex was excellent. I decided to speak if only to save my soul, since you might as well talk to a Jersey cabbage, and told them that the way to deal with terrorists was not to take up this attitude of superior holiness but to show them a better way. These nincompoops see no inconsistency in saying that the Orangemen must be “won”, whereas the “Provisionals” are only to be “condemned”, as if that did anything to them. Apart of course from those congenital political idiots, there was a good sensible element there which, while not knowing anything about the subject and applauding contradictory statements in the wrong places, may at any rate register a need for a change of Government policy. Michael Ryan came from Birmingham and Charlie Cunningham is trying to find him a job. I feel somewhat like Maxim Wledig, laying out the provinces of the doomed island before leaving on his fruitless adventurous course toward Rome – Eddie Cowman for secretary, Mick Ryan for the book shop to help Cs who is doing a little, but who for Editor? But there you are. Those who conquer the world sigh for fresh worlds to conquer. Those who have not, ask not for more space but more time. And I have to tell myself I will not get it and resolve to waste as little more as possible. [Maxim Wledig (Welsh), Magnus Maximus, c.335-388, Emperor of the West and ruler of Britain and Northern Gaul, who apportioned responsibilities to various British chieftains before invading Italy and meeting defeat and execution there; remembered in Welsh legends and traditions]
Among the eminently sensible people present was Jack Henry, and in a way he honoured us by his presence as he is immensely busy [ie. as a construction industry trade unionist] and Bob Fairley. There was a wee social evening afterwards, attended by our own people, Charlie Cunningham, Elsie O’Dowling, Jane Tate, Gerry Curran, Toni Curran, Pat O’Donohue, with Andy Higgins to sing. He has a most expressive histrionic style of singing and excels in Percy French’s witty songs. I asked him where he learned it. He said his mother was a singer, but I think he has no training at all.
April 5 Monday (Liverpool): I went down to see Skelly. He is prepared to publish my “Wolfe Tone” as a book. This is largely the result of Tony Coughlan’s pushing. He sent me a long letter moreover urging me not to cut but to fill it out. I am delaying Skelly, who is most anxious for O’Casey. But when do I have time to work on it? I told him that this conference yesterday, which I was compelled to organise myself with the willing help of Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate, was the last occasion on which this would happen. As Charlie remarked, “How they all complimented each other, those who had done no work, and forgot all about those who had!” He was referring to Jack Dromey, who pushed himself in to the middle of the platform, and Tom Durkin and a few more of the same kind. Though even the ranks of Tuscany. . . Cath Scorer asked me to add my name to an appeal and Irene Brennan got one of her smiles out of the plastic bag in which she keeps them and wore it for a few seconds.
I saw Stella Bond in the office. An interesting thing emerged. During the last week before the conference Sutton, who “organised” the conference last November [ie. the Clann na hEireann conference], wrote offering to “sponsor” it. I did not reply. He turned up however but was not called by the chairman. The Troops Out Movement were giving out pink handbills they had duplicated. One of them advertised their grand descent on Dublin, which quite a few people seem to be supporting, though Tony Coughlan stopped Michael Mullen. One paragraph referred to Sutton’s Conference where “it was decided to support all future visits to Ireland.” Moreover, the conference was “supported” by the Connolly Association. But for one thing I don’t believe there was any such resolution. Probably there was a call for visits. For another it is possible to guess that some curious influences were at work when such lengths were gone to by Irene Brennan and her fellow blackmailer, Burt, to bamboozle us into making a public statement of such support. Now is there an organic connection, or is it that all leftists went to school together?
In the afternoon I came to Liverpool.
April 6 Tuesday: I started giving the house a bit of a spring clean as Dorothy Greaves is coming next month.
April 7 Wednesday: I continued in the House and also did some work in the garden. The ground is much easier to work this year than last.
April 8 Thursday: I continued the two-fold operation.
April 9 Friday: I continued as yesterday. In the evening Tony Coughlan telephoned.
April 10 Saturday: Another day spent in the same way.
April 11 Sunday: I decided it was going to rain and planted seeds – parsnips, runner beans and radishes, carrots, savoy, chives, chervil and onion sets. This is the second year running when poppies have survived the winter and behaved like perennials. Again they have the Meconopsis-shaped leaves. In the evening it did rain. I have a cold.
April 12 Monday: I did some work in the house, but it rained most of the day so that I could not do any gardening. I have however been “saving money”. I have found a way to wash old sportscoats without their shrinking and have done several. I have mended the lining of anoraks and (o tempora!) let out the waistband of some jeans! I got some seeds in however before the rain began.
April 13 Tuesday: As the wretched weather continued I got little done except indoor work. I had a look at some of the unfinished projects. I do not seem to be able to get down to anything.
April 14 Wednesday: I sorted out some papers and made the study workable-in and wrote to Cathal MacLiam, Mairin Johnston and Messrs Macmillan about Krause’s O’Casey letters. It began dry but a sharp North wind blew up in which widely separated large drops of rain illustrated the literal meaning of “bwrw glawio”[Welsh for “sluggish rain”]. Then when I went to the bank there was a regular downpour. April is always disappointing. You know that meteorologically it corresponds to November, but you cannot forget that astronomically its midpoint corresponds with the end of August, and the light raises expectations. I loathe this grey cold weather that goes on and on. I’d prefer a thunderstorm and be done with it.
April 15 Thursday: A dry day at last. I made full use of it and set more onions, sprouts, cabbage, early chard, garlic, swedes, winter savory, comfrey, hyssop, beetroot and marigold. I spoke to Jane Tate on the phone and she told me the Charlie Cunningham was expecting me tomorrow.
April 16 Friday (London): I came to London on the 1.20 train, having to go through Birmingham because of the delay on the Mersey Railway. I went out with Charlie Cunningham in Paddington where we did well. But the Irish are all getting old. Unless there is a new wave of immigration when the very young population is a few years older, the Irish in Britain will be like the Irish in America. And again who would wish for such an immigration, which might anyway go to Europe. Before we went out Toni Curran came in with Pat O’Donohue in tow. A note from Stella Bond told me that Irene Brennan had telephoned saying the conference was an “uplift” but she was disappointed at the report in the “Morning Star”. So even the ranks of Tuscany. . .
April 17 Saturday: I spent the earlier part of the day on the paper. Charlie Cunningham and Eddie Cowman came in, and later Pat O’Donohue. I missed Jim Kelly, who has anyway bought a motor car on the strength of his new prosperity and seems to spend most of his time either learning to drive it or being driven. He will develop no further and this is symptomatic rather than causal. I was out with Gerry Curran in the evening and also saw Pat Bond.
April 18 Sunday: I was in the office during the morning. In the afternoon Charlie Cunningham came in and we went to Hyde Park for a meeting. The weather was warm and dry. Gerry Curran, Charlie Cunningham and myself spoke, and John Burns of South London. Eddie Cowman and Glendening were there, plus JP O’Connor, who had washed his face if not his neck after Charlie Cunningham had told him he wouldn’t be allowed to sell the “Democrat” until he cleaned himself up. “I’m a social rebel,” he told me when I made similar representations. The Provisionals held a parade and it illustrates their “brass neck” that they marched to Kilburn, where only a few days ago the police found a bomb factory. The meeting was quite successful.
On the telephone Mark Clinton told me that Irene Brennan was speaking there later this week and that some people are making moves to have Seamus Collins invited. Also there is a story that Dominic Behan saw Gordon McLennan and asked him if the Star Club could be given to Clann na hEireann and McLennan said he foresaw no difficulty. I guess that Behan must have met McLennan at the concert where he was singing. Possibly he sang free as McLennan is trying to raise £60,000. The promise for Clann na hEireann was in lieu of payment. And it would not even cross McLennan’s mind that there might be any harm to anybody else. And what harm if there was! Mark Clinton gives a poor report of Michael Ryan’s activities and I doubt if we are getting much when he comes to London.
I got no reply from Sl. or Sean Kenny and I imagine they are seeking to get their own way by intrigue. Charlie Cunningham told me that in reporting to Brent Trades Council Durkin made an attack on me for “supporting the Provisionals”. Of course these people are just short-sighted fools whom one shouldn’t allow oneself to get angry over. They think everybody is as ignorant and stupid as they think they are not! But I could not help reflecting on Margot Parrish’s words: “They always do the wrong thing.” Actually they do the dogmatically facile thing, and push it to its “logical conclusion”.
Charlie Cunningham brought in a cutting. Apparently Fiona died last Friday week [ie. Mrs Fiona Connolly Edwards, one of James Connolly’s daughters]. She had gone to look after Nora Connnolly and died herself. I was really sorry about it. According to the newspaper neither Government nor ITGWU were represented at the funeral. I was only the week before last looking at a letter she sent me telling me that she had left her father’s letters to the Connolly Association. But they are in the possession of crazy Bert Edwards. Although they are not are not his property he has made a will in favour of the Marx Memorial Library and I’m by no means sure that they do not rightly belong to Roddy. If we tried to get them off Bert he would be mad enough to destroy them. So I have other reasons for dissatisfaction apart from the loss of an old friend. The first time I met her was around 1944, when Dorothy Macardle brought her to a meeting. I am fairly certain that Michael McInerney was there and so Pat Dooley must have been there too. It was at the Caxton Hall on Easter Sunday and raining in torrents, so that we had a poor attendance. I was in the chair.
April 19 Monday: I spent the day in the office on the paper. Charlie Cunningham came in on his way to Stevenage. His father is in a home suffering from senile dementia. His mother has just had a breast removed, but is lively and making plans for the future. I spoke to Jane Tate on the telephone. She says Barbara Ruhemann is dead [German Marxist anthropologist]. Another one gone and the rubbish struts around seemingly immortal. I remember her before the war. I think she was a refugee from Hitler. She was a woman of enthusiasms, a bit like Margot Parrish, and like her very able to get things done. I wrote to Roddy and Nora [ie. James Connolly’s surviving children].
But it is useless to attempt to explain the human animal anymore. In the afternoon in came Pat O’Donohoe, his face wreathed in smiles, and took his coat off and cleared the book shop from ceiling to floor with an array of mops, dusters and swabs such as was never seen before. On the other hand we have lost Cs, who has broken his leg playing football for the Fire Brigade.
April 20 Tuesday: I was working on the paper all day. In the evening Central London branch had a committee meeting. A woman came in who was putting on a show consisting of episodes from the life of Connolly, and later we had a Standing Committee, with Charlie Cunningham (depressed), Jane Tate (silent), Pat O’Donohue (very silent), Pat Bond (unwilling to consider any political question) and Toni Curran about the best of a bad bunch. The word “bad” is of course intended in a purely Pickwickian sense. Anyway there wasn’t an idea among the lot of them. Charlie Cunningham told me it was not Durkin but that sentimental ass Burt who attacked me at Brent. We noted that the NCCL conference has come and gone. We received no notification of it whatsoever, nothing for our £10 affiliation fee. There is dirty work in that quarter alright.
April 21 Wednesday: In the morning Roddy Wilson rang up to tell me about Fiona. I told him that Hostettler was the solicitor who drew the will up. We are of course plunged into the midst of things with Bert Edwards. There is no love lost between Bert and Roddy. I had a word on the phone with Tony Coughlan who is developing some of the ideas expressed on the centre page of the “Irish Democrat”.
In the evening Pat O’Donohoe came in to do some work in the bookshop and was again as amiable as he had seemed unable to be before. This time it looks as if the explanation is coming. He has quarrelled with Steve Banham. He has been full of the idea that that young man was badly dealt with last summer. Now the truth is beginning to dawn. First he criticised him for never buying a round when he was drinking with people. This we had noticed. Second, they had a discussion on Scottish independence which Steve Banham was very much opposed to and thought the CP in Scotland should oppose it. Pat O’Donohoe did not challenge the conclusion but the reason. Banham said the majority of the people are not for it. “Well”, says Pat, “the majority of your people are not for Communism, but you still campaign for it.” At this point the young chauvinist walked out of the room and slammed the door. And it took Pat O’Donohue this time to discover the worthlessness of this young man. Pat now considers him a careerist, looking for a job as a photographer on the “Morning Star”. But he could be as mistaken in one thing as another.
Early today Jack Dromey telephoned asking if I could get him a paper for his demonstration next Saturday. It is about unemployment and Charlie Cunningham is speaking at it and professes grave nervousness at the prospect of speaking on the same platform as Ken Gill, who used to do the cartoons for the “Irish Democrat”[Ken Gill, 1927-2009, General Secretary of TASS, later MSF(Manufacturing, Science and Technology) trade union, a left- wing member of the TUC]. I asked him why we had been ignored by the NCCL and not invited to their conference. He said he would find out! He is their president!
April 22 Thursday: I finished the paper and busied myself with other matters. Charlie Cunningham came in during the evening, and later Jane Tate. Charlie is somewhat in the dumps.
April 23 Friday (Liverpool): Yesterday I must have overtired myself, cleaning the flat and today I felt something like a chill – the weather has turned cold again, though it is hard to remember when it last rained properly. All winter the feature has been blue and orange cumulus-stratus clouds and constant fair weather. In Liverpool that has been rain, but not as much as usual, in London virtually none. I decided to come to Liverpool in the evening and did so.
April 24 Saturday: I didn’t feel up to much and attempted little. I had a few words with Tony Coughlan on the phone. It has not been so cold here, so it was possible to do a little in the garden.
April 25 Sunday: I did a little more in the garden, but generally feel dissatisfied with the poor progress of everything.
April 26 Monday: I did some more in the garden. But though I hosed it down thoroughly the soil is too dry for germination of anything but brassicas.
April 27 Tuesday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs. I think it is a brighter issue than usual and hope it sells. I feel somewhat better today, which is all to the good. I drank a bottle of wine and a good lot of whiskey and went to bed by midnight.
April 28 Wednesday: I awoke at 10 am. after a sound sleep and found the energy that had been lacking these past few days suddenly restored. Indeed I spent a good six or seven hours in the garden. I have only one bed to prepare in the vegetable garden and I sowed today zucchini marrows for courgettes, white beet, some more leeks, garlic, wnionyn [ie. onions; there are two indecipherable Welsh words here]. Constant working has brought on the strawberries, but the early potatoes must have decided to be late. Though the sun is warm and there is a drying wind, the air is cold – as it was last June. I decided to go to London on Friday instead of Saturday as I saw an advertisement for Pennyroyal in the “Evening Standard”. I have been looking for it for years. I have four species of mint, including the Cologne mint I got from Leslie Morton, but believe Menta Pulegia is the strongest of all. The bay tree is in flower, and the rosemary, the fennel is established, the lemon balm, marjoram, sage, lavender, tansy, and thyme. But I forgot to order coriander. There is a lusty caraway plant in bud. I wonder if I will get any seed.
I was speaking to Jean Brown over the garden fence when she asked me if I had seen Fred, her husband, since his face was injured. I had not. She then told me that he and she decided to ride their bicycles in the Wirral on Sunday and went to Brimstage, where they preceded along a narrow lane. She went ahead but later, suspecting that he was not following her she turned back. She found him lying on the roadway bleeding from the mouth. Beside him was a plastic bag. “What’s this?” she asked. “That’s what they hit me with,” he replied. He then explained that a car had come past him. When it drew level, the window was opened and this bag, full of stones, was hurled into his face, knocking him off his bicycle. There were four young men in the car and they drove off laughing hilariously at what they had done. Some people who came up assisted. A woman drove them back to 122 Mount Road and two men rode in the bicycles.
April 29 Thursday: I got in another full day in the garden and now the vegetable garden is all but finished. I planted many seeds. These included cucumbers, “vegetable spaghetti”, courgettes, celery, celeriac, Bombay parsley and even trial squash. The first signs of the earliest planted potatoes are now visible, and the chervil, cabbage and radishes are growing strongly.
April 30 Friday (London): I came to London. Sean Redmond rang about Sunday’s school. He told me that a few weeks ago Irene Brennan had been in Dublin, staying with Desmond O’Hagan [A leading member of Official Sinn Fein]. No doubt we shall see the result of this in due course. I went out in Hammersmith with Mick Ryan. He thinks Charlie Cunningham will get him a job at Rolls Royce and is very much on top of the world. He is well read but in a higgledy-piggledy way. I think he has a secondary school education and if he can steady up and concentrate he should form a part of this new younger generation leadership I am trying to form. But he told me that Mark Clinton is contemplating marrying a woman who is non-political. In that case he will inevitably leave politics by slow degrees. So that’s Birmingham gone, unless we have exceptionally good fortune.
The Easter social in “The Star” was not very successful and he and Mark Clinton take their only solace from the fact that the Clann na hEieann event of the afternoon was worse. Dominic Behan is doing too much floating about also and is reported to have stated that he was married to Gordon McLennan’s daughter. What he said that for or what it signifies, I do not know.
May 1 Saturday: Quite a large number of people came in today, Jane Tate, Pat O’Donohoe, Mick Ryan, Eddie Cowman, Chris Sullivan and Brian Crowley and some of them went on the May Day parade, where Jane Tate sold 96 “Democrats”. I was in Hammersmith with Gerry Curran in the evening, and things seem to have simmered down in that quarter.
May 2 Sunday (Liverpool): We held a one-day school on Republicanism and it would have been hard to get any more into the room. The first session was taken by Sean Redmond, the second by myself. Afterwards Sean discussed the possibility of working out a new compromise by which the “Provisionals” could be induced to stop their bombing in return for a qualified “declaration of intent” from the British Government. He told me, incidentally, that the visit of Irene Brennan to Dublin was in connection with the proposed joint meeting of the two parties. So they have given her that. Also that Desmond O’Hagan has gone over to a group whose policy is being made for them by a Trotsky who works in Radio Eireann – I forget his name. But Roy Johnston says that he has taken the place that he once occupied as the theoretical mentor of the IRA [Presumably this was Eoghan Harris, now working with RTE]. Irene Brennan has been descanting on the “wonderful young people in Clann na hEireann” and Central Books has sent out a blurb telling bookshops to stock the “United Irishman” [ie. the Official Republican monthly paper]. I told Sean Redmond that I had said as much as I could about all this folly and would be afraid that anything I said would be repeated to O’Hagan and Smullen. “Then all you can do”, said he, “is to wait till they come unstuck.” I came to Liverpool in the evening.
May 3 Monday: I speedily got down to further work in the garden and I would say I have now more vegetables sown than ever before. And no wonder at the price they are.
May 4 Tuesday: I had a brief word with Mark Clinton. He is not so despondent as Pat Bond said. But he says Bannister has not been around for some weeks, but rang him to say he had lost his job and was in some terrible trouble. But he would not disclose it to him. Mark says that contrary to what Sean Redmond believed, Irene Brennan’s sister is not living in Dublin. She had made as impassioned an appeal as so false a character could contrive at the public meeting: “Why can’t we all get together?” To her limited sectish mind “all” consists of the CPGB, the Connolly Association and Clann na hEireann! “Unity of the left” she calls it.
May 5 Wednesday: I was busy on the epilogue for the German translation of my “Irish Crisis”. I suppose I did fairly well, for I finished it.
May 6 Thursday: I typed the Epilogue and posted it to Lawrence and Wishart. I ordered bags of peat and manure.
May 7 Friday: The weather was warm and damp. At 5 pm. the barometer fell suddenly, but only a tenth of an inch. A thunderstorm was followed by another and it went dark as night. I was busy all day but did not seem to see much for it – a new clothesline, another seed bed cultivated. The seeds are coming up nicely.
My mind was taken back into the past by the death of Hugh Delargy [1908-1976, former Labour MP for Thurrock]. He was, I think, a member of the Connolly Association, though I do not myself recall a Manchester branch until Tommy Watters settled there, indeed till Pat Dooley went there. When I first knew him he used to come to Connolly Association dances in the celebrated Sirocco Club in Hand Court [ie. in Holborn, London], resplendent in his dress uniform. He was a First Lieutenant but may have become a Captain later. He was regarded as something of a “Holy Joe”. I remember a frightful rumpus between him and Hickey. Hickey, who is still alive and was until a year ago or two ago landlord of “The Shakespeare” in Holloway Road, was in the Harrow branch. They were a bunch of militant atheists. One of them, Carroll I think, used to recite a denunciation of religion he attributed to Professor Drummond. The others, all countrymen, would invite him to perform: “Give us Professor Drummond, Professor Drummond, himself.” It was hardly this at Hand Court. Hickey had adverted to the possibility of fornication by some priest, probably during the Renaissance but possibly more recently. Delargy had grown excited and had exclaimed, “My poor mother! My poor mother! She taught us our holy religion,” or words to that effect, and had stalked out. With great contempt Hickey exclaimed to me, “You’d think a priest hadn’t got a prick at all!”
The next occasion I remember was after the war. He had a seat in Parliament but the salary was paid every six months. He had not the resources for this. He asked Elsie O’Dowling if he could stay with her in Russell Court [in Holborn], probably at No. 437 which Sean O’ Dowling was probably not using at the time [also in Holborn]. There was a woman with him and Delargy explained very sheepishly that they were not married. Elsie let them stay. We saw little of him when he left.
When the Ireland Bill passed his its second reading he tackled Morrison in the lobby [ie. Herbert Morrison, Labour Home Secretary]. “Keep your tongue still, you insolent young pup,” said the great guttersnipe, and he indicated to Delargy that he would never have a government appointment as long as he lived [Delargy was one of the “Friends of Ireland” group of Labour MPs that opposed the 1949 Ireland Act, which provided that there would be no change in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland without the consent of the Parliament at Stormont] Morrison’s hatred of the Irish was irrepressible. On one occasion he came out of one meeting in the Porchester Hall as we were coming out of another. He put his finger to his nose in a vulgar gesture and said, “A strong smell of the IRA about here.” This may have been after 1950.
For a time Delargy played about with Bevan [Minister for Health and on the left of the post-World War Labour Government]. But it was not long before he took up anti- communism. Fred Loyden wrote to tell me that he was doing the Connolly Association untold harm by spreading around the rumour that it was a communist organisation. Then, at a reception at the Soviet Embassy LJ Solley told me that Delargy was using his divorce against him at a time when he had jeopardised his career by going with DN Pritt and others. I told Solley what to hit back with [L.J. Solley, MP for Thurrock, was one of a group of four Labour MPs formed in 1949, led by DN Pritt, who were expelled from the party for opposition to the post-war Labour Government policy, particularly in foreign affairs]. It was years before I saw Delargy again. The slim straight army officer was bloated, adipose and bent, and there was not a scrap of idealism left in him. To his dying day he never held office. Morrison was gone years ago, but these people do not forget.
May 8 Saturday: I spent the day in the garden. I can’t say I saw a great deal for it. Miriam Daly rang up [Republican academic at Queen’s University Belfast, later the victim of a Loyalist assassination].She had had my phone number from Tony Coughlan, something which I was not too pleased at. Jane Tate had declined to supply it, but then she is a completely practical person, fully worldly wise, because she has seen trouble. She asked me to speak at her symposium. After some demur I agreed. I hope it is not like that horrid symposium they had before. Mulcahy of Hibernia is behind it and I had a good impression of him [ie. John Mulcahy, editor of the Dublin weekly].
May 9 Sunday: A few days ago I found the two small girls age about two and three, belonging to the daughter of the man in Borough Road who has Smith’s old house. They strayed on to the garden, the elder solemnly promising me to keep to the path, but the younger too much a baby to understand. Quite nice kids – but then they all are at that age. What they turn into is a different matter. I mentioned the fence between our properties blown flat in the gale. I had asked Ashford to build a wall. The place next door is in an incredible state of dilapidation – the garage doors broken and patched, huge docks waving in the “lawn”. Rubbish is strewn everywhere. I told the daughter when she came to recapture her offspring that I intended to build a wall and she thought there would be no objection to my workmen operating from that side. I sent a formal note to the father but had no reply. There used to be two girls next door who wore black anoraks with red hoods, and Phyllis said there were “young hussies”. She seemed alright now.
This afternoon I spied my neighbour mowing the front lawn and decided to speak to him. He used to be full of bounce. Not now. “Do what you please”, he said. “Do whatever you like. I don’t care. I’ve lost heart. I’m fed up. I work eleven days, then have three off. I’ve finished the housework. Now it’s the grass. Look at the way it grows. The flowers won’t grow. I’ve had seven years when nothing went right. First I lost the wife. And then a couple of years ago the daughter chose a bad ’un.” He looked up at the sky – very much the wrong direction – and said, “I wouldn’t mind hearing a voice telling me it was time.” Of course I told him never to say die till you’re dead. But this is why I could get nothing out of him.
I was again at it all day. Dorothy Greaves is coming tomorrow, so I want some partial semblance of order. I sowed parsley, lupins and in seed boxes. mimulus, campanula, meconopsis and alkanet, and some extra kohl rabi. But there is still a mass of work to be done.
May 10 Monday: I was busy in the garden and buying in food supplies and in the evening Dorothy Greaves appeared. I thought she had aged.
May 11 Tuesday: I have had no word from Brendan Breathnach on the Irish songs, though I have written twice. I dropped a line to Mairin Johnston, telling her that if I did not hear from the professor I would pillage Moore and Bunting, and at a pinch make up a tune myself and insert the reference, “traditional melody”. That would serve them right!
May 12 Wednesday: In the evening I had Will Pemberton down for dinner. But Dorothy Greaves hardly eats anything now, so one might as well supply sandwiches. She says Pemberton has aged and perhaps so. When I told him about the man next door who looked upwards as if awaiting the call he told me, “I sometimes feel like that myself.” But that’s silly nonsense.
May 13 Thursday: I did some work typing the Irish Songs MS.
May 14 Friday (London): Dorothy Greaves left in the morning. I confess I found her a little trying this time. The trouble is that she never stops talking. So I was not really sorry to have the place to myself again. I came on to London in the afternoon and went out in Hammersmith with Eddie Cowman. He is making progress with the typing but has a long way to go to with the English. Michael Ryan begins work with Charlie Cunningham next week.
May 15 Saturday: I was in the office all day and started on the paper. In the evening I was out on the sales with Mick Ryan, who seems to be far happier here.
May 16 Sunday: I went down with the paper, apart from the Standing Committee in the morning. I do believe I am actually raising up another crop of young people after we feared the soil was depleted. Michael Ryan was at the meeting and Eddie Cowman said a few words in Hyde Park.Twenty-three people are nominated for the Executive Council, the highest ever. We intend to pursue a policy of frequent traditional activities. I was out with Chris Sullivan in the evening.
May 17 Monday: I went on with the paper. In the evening Jane Tate came in. Pet Bond told me that at the TASS conference [Transport and Salaried Staffs trade union] Starrs had asked whether an Irish resolution would be called. There was much consultation on the platform. Later he ascertained that a meeting of the Irish delegates had been called and these had lined up equally with “Officials” for the resolution and “Provisionals” against. The result was that it was dropped. Here we see the result of Irene Bennan’s folly in pretending to believe the “Provisionals” will “go away”. Pat Bond also told me that Irene Brennan had informed him of her intention to bring over Tomas MacGiolla [President of Official Sinn Fein] to speak at a meeting about the “Left Alternative” in Dublin.
May 18 Tuesday: I went on with the paper and have most of it done. Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate came in during the evening. He is pretty gloomy, but he says Michael Ryan is doing well.
May 19 Wednesday (Great Yarmouth): I went to Great Yarmouth in the morning. I had never previously gone beyond Norwich and was struck by the difference in the scenery when that city is passed. I counted fourteen derelict windmills, or edifices I judged to have been windmills, and one in a high state of preservation, which I judged not to be a windmill at all. Presumably here are old and new pumping systems. I saw M.O’Donohue, Pat O’Donohue’s brother, who showed me round the town, which was quite interesting though nothing like the towns on the west or south coast. I did not observe that yesterday Pat O’Donohue and Toni Curran came to the office and Pat was as rude and boorish to Jane Tate as it is possible to be. Everybody defers to him because he is so explosive, though I can imagine a “showdown” some day. But because that foolish woman has put him in charge of our finances, we cannot risk his throwing his hand in suddenly, and Jane Tate and I are seeking an alternative, after which the ructions can come if they will. Now M.O’Donohue remarked on his brother’s explosive temperament and said he was worse to him than to anybody else. I addressed a meeting M.O’Donohue had arranged. Stephen Huggett, who is working in Norwich, was there.
May 20 Thursday: I returned to London. Pat Bond came in. He told me that the decision to ditch the Irish resolution at the TASS conference was taken by the CP Group, who were anxious that the Irish question should be “swept under the carpet”. Starrs was very annoyed. But que faire?
May 21 Friday: I was in the office most of the day and went out in Hammersmith with Charlie Cunningham in the evening.
May 22 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning and Tony Coughlan and Michael Crowe arrived for the Connolly Association conference. This began in the afternoon in Ealing. It was quite a cool, businesslike affair and showed that all is not lost.
May 23 Sunday: The conference continued at Southall. Mark Clinton gave quite a good talk, and in the afternoon Bob Allen was there and told me he was very favourably impressed.
May 24 Monday (Liverpool): I met Tony Coughlan at St Pancras and we went to Ripley. Things went smoothly though Tony, despite his constitution of a horse, was sick, he thought with food poisoning, possibly caused by Toni Curran’s atrocious wine, as I suggested to him. On the way to Liverpool, he told me of Irene Brennan’s visit to Dublin, presumably for the general discussion I had proposed. There was some surprise expressed in Dublin that the CPGB had not seen fit to include myself in their delegation and the CPI had asked why not. They had replied that they had no objection. A few years ago I might have been somewhat upset at this strange requital of services recently rendered. But I see little prospect of really solving the question, so it makes little difference, though we will try. Tony Coughlan told me that Helga was on crutches, having strained a ligament playing tennis. Roy Johnston had fallen into the canal and got himself wet through, while Janice had also fallen in on another occasion and broken her leg into the bargain.
It was clear that there had been quite a deal of rain since I went to London and the garden looked in quite good shape, though there are many hours of weeding to be done.
May 25 Tuesday: We went to Freshfield in the morning to see the sand-dunes, which I am fairly sure I have not visited since about 1933 when I was a botany student. The magnificent strand is unspoiled but some of the dunes look the worse for wear.
May 26 Wednesday: I got little done today – went to Foxes to get slug and ant poison, then decided to ring Alf Kearney before using it. And I did a little on next Saturday’s lecture. Tony Coughlan left for Dublin on the morning boat. He told me about staying at Toni Curran’s after the conference. He happened to remark that the grass was long. Half an hour later there was Gerry Curran with a scythe martyring himself for a chance observation.
May 27 Thursday (Dublin): I came to Dublin myself today. Tony Coughlan met me at the harbour and we went off to Cathal’s. Helga is hopping on crutches and sleeping downstairs after tearing a ligament. She was playing tennis and heard it rip like a piece of cloth. Janice, who lives with Roy Johnston, fell into the canal and broke a leg and Roy fell into the canal without breaking a leg. Worst of all is the plight of George Gilmore, who has had another motor bicycle accident and is in the Mater Hospital with a broken leg and crushed ankles. I stayed the night at Tony Coughlan’s in Dundrum.
May 28 Friday: The Wolfe Tone Society last night was to have been addressed by Sean Hughes who was, Tony Coughlan assured me, a member of the Conolly Association in the early sixties. The name rings a bell, but only just. However he was ill, though a young man, and Roy Johnston had to step, as he is always willing to step, into his place. Cathal was at a Dublin District ITGWU meeting and I am glad he has found some recognition at last of qualities, if not brilliant, at any rate absolutely sterling. No doubt if he had gone out for it, he could have had it long ago.
Today I resolved to see May Hayes, who has a charge of possessing firearms hanging over her. According to some of them here she was in the “Official” Sinn Fein, dropped out and then had her interest revived by the IRSPs [ie. Seamus Costello’s breakaway from the “Officials”]. A gun was found on her premises and she was dragged before the Special Criminal Court. It was just after the War, certainly while Dooley was editor, that she suddenly appeared in London as his full-time secretary. He told the committee that he was quite unaware that she was coming, otherwise he would have consulted the committee. This was no doubt typical Dooley trickery, something which used to infuriate me as I must have been the only one who could see through him. ‘You consider yourself equal to Dooley,’ said Paddy Clancy on one occasion, “But the rest of us don’t.” It was a pity they didn’t.
I telephoned Hobson at St. Paul’s but was told it was inconvenient for examining the parish registers. I went into town, lunched with Tony Coughlan, then went to the Building Centre and saw May Hayes. She looks very old. She did not say so clearly, but implied that she had not known the gun was on her premises. “I’ve many enemies,” she said. But I do not believe it. My guess is that some dashing young fellow asked her to keep it for him and its location came out during the split. Part of the general festival of nonsense. I promised to try to raise a few shillings for her defence and she gave me the name of a nephew in London.
Next I went to see Michael O’Riordan. I was very anxious to know what was happening, and he told me. The CPI has periodical meetings with the “Official” Sinn Fein leaders and one took place about six weeks ago. That must be since the blackmailing effort of Sean Kenny. He is now all sweetness and light and fell in exactly with my compromise proposals, but I calculate not until after they met O’Riordan. At this meeting, Sinn Fein advanced criticisms that the CPI was not sufficiently friendly to them. As for myself, one of them said, “Why does the CP allow Desmond Greaves to refer to the ‘Provisionals’ and ‘Officials’ as two ‘wings’ of the Republican movement?” Each “wing” of course claims to be the whole bird. “Desmond Greaves is not a member of the CPI,” replied O’Riordan. I told Michael now that I intended to express my opinion in this matter in the same terms. My interest in the “Provisionals” was that I wanted them to stop the violence. If they did so. they could put the Unionists “on the spot” and win wide support. I did not care if they won that support. They would be entitled to it if they changed their policy. As for the complaints by the “Officials”, it was not long since they were causing explosions and we were extending to them the charity of admitting their worthy motives without condemning their folly. Now they wished to deny this charity to their rivals. They thought the “Provisionals” would be blown away by breathing denunciations. I did not. And I thought the British Government should be brought to the same conclusion. I told him about what Tony Coughlan had said, namely that Micheál O Loingsigh was willing to urge a ceasefire on the “Provisionals”, and I would undertake to have the matter raised by some of the left MPs at Westminster. “If they would accept a compromise formula”, I said, “it would get them off the hook and get the British Government off the hook as well.”
“It would get us all off the hook,” said O’Riordan.
As far Irene Brennan, she did not come on an official visit but to see a married sister who is living in Dublin. Why she then stayed with Desmond O’Hagan I cannot conjecture. Michael O’Riordan supposed that O’Hagan was enabled by this proximity to influence her thinking. He told me that he had not seen her, so I presume she saw Tom Redmond and that is how Sean Redmond knew about the visit. The CPI rejected the invitation to support. their political Jamboree in August. They are trying to set up a rival CP. A number of parties had refused to be present on my O’Riordan’s advice. But the CPGB had not yet decided. Irene Brennan was strongly for attending and wished to come as an individual if the party declined. No doubt since she is now on the Political Committee she has objected to their consulting me. O’Riordan had advised them not to come. So we shall see. They were calling the “discussion in depth” for the end of this month. Jack Woddis will be there, but he knows of nobody else. They have prepared some papers. They were surprised that the CPGB had not indicated that I was to be present and asked why. There were however assured that there was no objection, otherwise they would have invited me themselves – though I might then have considered declining.
Then came discussion of international affairs. Michael O’Riordan deplored Gollan’s criticisms of the Russians. He told me of the cool reception of Gordon McLennan’s statement at a conference in Moscow in which he said, “We intend to build a form of socialism with free trade unions” and other advantages. “Who is to say the Russians aren’t free?” I took his point but pointed out that the developments in Italy illustrated the complexities of the transition to socialism in countries of even moderately developed capitalism, and that one could not take the formerly poorly developed countries as a model. The issue of socialism in these countries might well be coming to the fore. He granted this but assimilated it to “every country has its own road”, whereas my conception had been more general. He noted that Gollan and Woddis had been in Paris. “They’ll be in Japan next,” he declared, “and we’ll address the birth of a three-and-a halfth international.” I agreed to go to the Belfast discussion. After all I had proposed it myself. In the evening, Tony Coughlan and I called on Noel Harris who, I am told, is thinking of amalgamating his union with the ITGWU [ASTMS General Secretary in Britain, Clive Jenkins, got wind of this proposal and foiled it. Harris had to resign and went to work in Britain for the Cinematograph Union].
May 29 Saturday: My lecture was at the unearthly hour of 10 am. but about 35 people were present. Michael Mullen took the chair and told me the union had accepted my proposals, but they were worried about what would happen in the event of my demise before the work was completed. I told him that Tony Coughlan had undertaken to act as literary executor, but when I mentioned this to him later he had forgotten all about it, but happily consented again. Not that I feel bad, but at my time of life you can begin to feel bad at very short notice. Michael Mullen told me they thought I had been “very kind to them” in my propositions for the first volume and in introducing me he announced the forthcoming history. The lecture went down well enough. The meeting consisted of an omnium gatherum of wee sects and there was next to nobody from the CPI. Michael Farrell was there and a girl, Helena Sheehan, who is the wife of Eoin O Murchú, but wishes to keep her maiden name. Where genealogy would be if all were thus minded one cannot speculate. She asked a question about religion, holding that Connolly was not severe enough on it. However, that was that. Afterwards Tony Coughlan and I went for a drink and Michael Mullen joined us. A young lad from the North called Murphy came in and impressed us very favourably, though apparently he belonged to one of the wee sects [This was Pat Murphy, who later wrote several books published by Athol Books, Belfast]. I do not think the Irish make typical Trotskies unless they come from the Orange side. There is some redeeming features even in the ultra-right among the nationalists.
Miriam Daly, who was interested in inviting me, told me that George Gilmore was asking for me and Cathal and I visited him in the afternoon at the Mater Hospital. We had not entertained high hopes. A broken leg and cracked ankles are no injuries for a seventy-eight year old man. But unless a delayed shock sets in, he seemed to me to a fair chance of recovery. He is as lucid as ever. In the evening I went to Miriam Daly’s lecture on the “two nation theory” and some of their youngsters were there – a rough uncouth bunch of tousle-heads, with none too clean tongues when they get excited. Maire Comerford was brought there by Micheál O Loingsigh. She looks very frail and is going very “Provisional”. She had bought a copy of Farrell’s book [ie. “Northern Ireland: The Orange State”], which has been serialised in the papers, and had brought it down for autograph. “You’ll surely be disappointed in it,” I commented. “No, it read very well in the ‘Independent’”, and then she added, inconsequently as I thought, but as if to clinch it, “He’s a brave man.” So was and is George Gilmore, but now he has wisdom which Farrell lacks.
Incredible as it may seem, Tony Coughlan is 40 today. Not that you would guess by looking at him, though when he was unwell after drinking Toni Curran’s horrible wine last Monday, he could be believed to be it. There was a small party at 111 Meadow Grove [ie. where Coughlan lived in Dundrum]. The Sheehan woman, Mrs O Murchú, was there. She knows Irene Brennan and says she became sure she had been in a convent when she described Hoffman as “self-effacing”. She was a nun herself and hails from Philadelphia but has left her American accent behind, and indeed her husband born in London has left his cockney behind him. But not her nonsense. She is a student of philosophy, but I did not know this till afterwards. I remarked, apropos of the world, life and time, that nobody could give a logical reason for living, but for my part I was prepared to live without one. She objected to this, as you might at 28, and when I mentioned Epicurus, whom for over forty years I regarded as the soundest ancient philosopher, a spasm of shock passed over her face. That the irrational is an essential part of the universe is illustrated by the limitations of mathematics. But I imagine a young woman who embraced, then abandoned, religion seeks in Marxism a “belief” that gives meaning to life, and the notion that it needs no meaning other than itself and is for that reason so much the more precious, would outrage her bump of reverence, which I am happy to say I lack. Among those present were Noel Harris, Cathal and a few others.
May 30 Sunday: I cycled in to 24 Belgrave Road in the morning and Cathal called to see Roy Johnston for fear he might feel ignored. Helga is still mostly in bed. Egon, whom I last heard of as intending to study Italian, has now enrolled himself at an art school in Dun Laoire and I hope he does not regret it. Finula wants to be a librarian. And young McLaughlin is still circulating like a [word indecipherable], sometimes near, sometimes far, but always in evidence. In the afternoon Cathal called and the three of us went to Dalkey Park. Late at night Micheál O Loingsigh called to discuss a possible peace feeler. He is to see David O’Connell, the “Provisional” leader, on Monday. He will let me know if there is any point in seeing Members of Parliament. I thought a moderately phased acceptance that Britain does not claim “de jure” control of Northern Ireland, plus a promise to review the sentences of prisoners, might possibly be acceptable on both sides, though they would of course both want to cheat each other.
May 31 Monday (Liverpool): Tony Coughlan accompanied me to Dun Laoire and I crossed first to Caer Gybi [ie. Holyhead] and then took the train to Rock Ferry, arriving at about 4 pm.
Post scriptum. 2 June 1976: Michael O’Riordan told me that the “Official” Sinn Fein did not consult him about sending up Tomás MacGiolla in the forthcoming by-election, but took his support for granted. He also said that Sean Nolan was “failing” and his bouts of illness were extending. But Betty Sinclair would be back next year and no doubt active.
GREAVES JOURNAL, VOLUME 27, INDEX
1 May 1975 – 31 May 1976
Greaves, C. Desmond
Aesthetic and cultural matters:12.31, 2.29
Assessments of others: 5.17, 7.29, 9.9, 10.5, 10.17, 10.25, 11.29,
4.20,1.16, 2.7, 4.17-18
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 6.11, 6.13, 6.24,
9.2, 12.14, 1.23, 4.2-3
Civil Rights Campaign on Northern Ireland: 6.17, 7.29, 7.31
European supranational integration/the EEC: 5.1-2, 5.23, 5.27, 5.29-30,
6.1, 6.3, 6.5-6, 6.12, 10.5, 11.10
Family relations: 8.25-28, 9.29, 2.12, 5.9,5.12, 5.14
Holidays/cycle tours: 6.8-14, 9.7-9, 9.28-10.9
ITGWU History research:7.7,7.9, 7.22, 8.5, 8.13, 9.26, 12.4-5, 2.10,
Sean O’Casey research: 8.7,12.8, 12.23, 1.4, 1.9, 1.13-15, 4.14
Self-assessments and personal plans: 6.11, 6.17, 6.19, 6.28, 7.22, 7.29,
9.4, 11.5-7, 11.24, 12.4, 12.21,1.23, 1.27, 2.10, 2.27, 3.18, 4.4,
Organisation Names Index
Anti-Internment League: 5.3
British and Irish Communist Organisation (BICO): 5.18, 12.14, 5.29
British Peace Committee: 11.1, 12.12, 3.31, 4.4
Clann na hEireann: 5.3 5.10-11, 6.21, 7.15, 7.20, 8.28, 9.9, 9.14-15,
10.15-16,10.18,10.25,11.4,11.30, 12.13, 12.27,3.20, 3.29,5.4
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 5.3, 6.19, 6.23-24, 6.28, 7.2,
7.14-15, 7.20, 8.28, 9.2, 9.18, 10.15, 11.2, 11.15-18,
11.20,11.27,12.17,1.12, 1.27, 2.23, 3.9, 3.30, 5.24, 5.28
Communist Party of Ireland: 7.2, 7.8, 10.17,11.27,1.6,1.12, 2.23,5.24,
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 5.3, 5.11, 6.7, 6.17, 7.2, 7.8, 7.15
7.20, 8.28, 9.9, 9.18, 10.15-16, 11.2, 11.15, 2.21
Irish Socialist Republican Party: 7.6
Irish Sovereignty Movement: 5.15, 2.22-23
Labour Party (British): 5.1
Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF)/ Liberation: 8.28, 9.18, 11.3, 1.8,
National Council for Civil Liberties: 5.1,7.24, 8.28, 9.16, 9.19,10.20-
National Union of Students (NUS): 3.12-13
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), including support groups in Britain: 5.1-2, 6.7, 7.31
Resources Protection Campaign: 2.10, 2.23
Sinn Fein/IRA-Officials: 5.1, 7.2, 7.18, 9.2, 11.29, 12.13-14, 3.21
Sinn Fein/IRA-Provisionals: 10.21,12.14,1.27,1.4, 2.21,2.23, 4.18, 5.2,
Troops Out Movement: 5.1-3, 5.15, 6.19, 6.28, 8.12,11.1, 12.11, 1.12,
2.23, 5.2, 3.15, 4.4-5
Trotskyite and far-left organisations: 5.3, 9.2,10.18,10.21,11.4, 11.16,
5.2-3, 3.13, 5.29
Wolfe Tone Society: 5.28
Workers Music Association 11.9, 11.11-12,12.23
Personal Names Index
Abbot, Syd: 6.28
Ainley, Ben: 6.28, 10.17
Arnison, J.: 10.15, 10.17
Arrowsmith, Pat: 10.21
Asmal, Kader: 5.18, 6.11, 7.5, 11.29, 12.5
Anthony, George: 8.3
Atkins, Syd: 12.13
Barr, Andy: 10.17, 11.15
Beauchamp, Kay: 1.30
Behan, Brendan: 12.13
Behan, Dominic: 12.13, 4.18, 4.30
Benn, Tony: 5.25, 5.30
Bennett, Jack: 5.11, 1.15
Bing, Geoffrey QC: 2.17
Blunt, Wilfrid Scawen: 11.17
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 6.19,6.21, 10.25,11.4, 12.21, 2.1, 3.27
Bond, Stella: 6.18, 6.20-2, 1.1, 2.2
Bowman, Dave: 9.2
Boyle, Kevin: 5.2, 7.29
Brennan, Irene: 5.10-11, 6.19, 6.21, 7.8, 7.13, 7.15, 7.20, 7.24, 7.31,
8.8, 9.9, 9.15, 9.21, 10.25, 11.1, 11.4, 11.16,
12.12,12.14,12.21, 1.12, 1.19, 1.25, 1.27, 3.29, 4.5, 5.4, 5.17,
Brockway, Lord Fenner: 5.1,1.28, 2.17, 4.4
Buckton, Ray: 9.2, 11.1, 1.20
Burt, Les: 11.4, 4.5
Bush, Alan: 12.23, 12.30
Carmody, Paddy: 1.15
Casement, Sir Roger: 7.9, 8.12, 10.16,11.8, 11.17,12.1, 12.3, 1.12
Childers, Erskine: 10.27
Clinton, Mark: 12.13, 2.13, 3.31, 4.30
Cohen, Gerry: 6.19, 8.28, 10.17, 1.21, 1.27, 1.30
Comerford, Maire: 5.17,11.29, 1.16, 5.29
Connolly, James: 5.17-18, 12.14, 2.29
Connolly-Edwards, Mrs Fiona:4.18, 4.21
Cook, Dave: 8.28
Cosgrave, Jim: 7.18
Costello, Seamus: 7.6
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 5.25, 5.29-30, 7.5, 7.8, 9.5-9, 9.26,
10.19, 11.8, 1.9, 1.11, 2.23, 3.11, 3.15, 3.20, 3.26, 3.28, 3.30,
4.5, 4.21, 5.14, 5.16, 5.24-26, 5.29
Cowman, Eddie: 7.18, 8.17, 9.20, 10.24, 10.31,11.16, 11.29-30, 1.19,
2.1, 3.20, 3.26, 3.28, 3.30, 4.5, 4.21, 5.14, 5.16, 5.29
Crowe, Michael: 5.10, 9.20, 11.1, 3.14
Crowley, Brian: 8.22, 11.30
Cunningham, Charlie: 5.11, 7.23, 9.2, 10.21-22, 10.25,11.15, 4.5
Curran, Mrs Antoinette (Toni): 6.17, 7.31, 8.18, 9.27, 2.29
Curran, Gerard: 1.26
Daly, Lawrence: 9.2
Daly, Miriam: 5.8
Davison, Madge: 5.1, 8.3, 8.12, 8.18
Deighan, Joe: 11.27
Delargy Hugh MP: 5.7
De Paor, Liam: 5.25
Devine, Francis: 5.17-18
Devlin, Bernadette: 7.26
Devlin, Paddy MP: 1.20, 4.4
Donaghey, Tony: 8.23, 9.21
Draper, Lenny: 6.28
Dromey, Jack MP: 5.11,7.22-23,7.24, 9.16, 9.19,10.21,10.26,11.6, 3.18
Durkin, Tom: 6.21,7.17, 8.12
Dunn, Bill: 6.19
Dutt, R.Palme: 6.19,4.18
Eddisford, Vic: 8.28, 10.15, 3.18
Edwards, Bert: 4.18
Egelnick, Max: 11.15
Falber, Reuben: 8.28
Fallon, Gabriel: 1.12
Farrell, Michael: 5.29
Fitt, Gerry: 2.17
French, Sid: 9.2, 11.18, 2.16, 3.19
Frow, Eddie: 6.2
Garland, Sean: 1.16
Geraghty, Des: 2.23
Gilbert, Tony: 11.3, 11.16-17, 1.,30, 3.25
Gill, Ken: 4.21
Gilmore, George: 5.27, 5.29
Gollan, John: 6.24, 6.28, 7.8, 2.16
Goulding, Cathal: 1.16
Greaves, Harley: 8.28, 9.28
Harris, Eoghan: 11.29, 5.2
Harris, Noel: 7.29, 9.1-2
Hart, Stephen: 11.3, 3.25
Hayes, May: 5.28
Hayes, Stephen: 1.12
Henry, Jack: 7.13, 7.19, 4.4
Heussaff, Alan: 8.7
Hoffman, John: 5.17, 12.14
Hope, Ann: 10.25
Hostettler, John: 5.11, 11.17
Huggett, Steve: 6.20, 7.12, 4.19
Jeffares, George: 1.6, 1.10, 2.22
Jenkins, Clive: 5.28
Jenkins, Roy MP: 6.19
Johnson, Tom: 2.19
Johnston Mairin, née Mooney:
Johnston, Roy: 5.4, 5.26, 6.2,11.29-30, 5.28, 2.22, 5.30
Keable, Ken: 10.25
Keating, Justin TD: 2.23
Keating, Loretta: 2.23
Kelly, Dalton: (See O Ceallaigh, Daltún)
Kelly, Jim: 11.21
Kemmy, Jim: 12.14
Kennedy, Fintan: 2.10
Kenny, Sean: 5.26, 5.28, 2.23
Latham, Arthur MP: 5.1, 6.7
Levenson, Sam: 12.19
Lawless, Gery: 6.19
Lipton, Marcus MP: 5.21
Macardle, Dorothy: 12.2
McCaughey, Rev.Terence: 7.5, 7.7
McCorry, Kevin: 8.8
McCullough, William (Billy): 7.9
McDonald, Jim: 8.2, 10.25
MacGiolla, Tomás: 8.8,11.29
McHugh, Roger: 1.12
McKeever, Jim: 3.27
Mackey, Dr Herbert: 7.9
Mackin, Walter: 7.28
MacLaughlin, Eamon and Barbara: 2.7, 4.1
McLennan, Gordon: 6.19, 6.23-24, 6.28, 7.15, 7.21, 7.24, 8.28
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 5.22, 7.9-10,12.5
MacLiam, Egon and Finula: 7.6-7, 8.8,10.10,12.31,1.14, 5.30
Maguire, John: 5.23
Matthews, George:7.29, 8.28, 9.9
Maynard, Joan MP: 6.28, 8.12, 9.21
Menzies, Edwina: (See Stewart, Edwina)
Merrigan, Matt: 5.11, 8.8
Morgan, Austen: 5.17
Morgan, Barney (Bernard): 9.23
Morrissey, Sean: 12.12-13
Morton, Alan G. Prof. and Mrs Freda Morton: 12.24
Morton, Alisoun: 7.5, 8.7
Mullen, Michael: 5.14, 5.25, 7.5, 7.7, 7.9, 7.22, 12.2, 2.10, 2.23, 3.15,
Mulligan, Peter: 3.14
Murphy, Pat: 5.29
Myant, Chris: 5.11, 9.9, 1.27, 3.19, 3.25
Nevin, Donal: 7.9
Newens, Stan MP: 11.3, 4.
Nolan, Sean: 10.17, 12.13
O Ceallaigh, Daltún: 5.14, 5.31, 6.2, 7.5-6, 9.1, 9.5, 12.2, 2.23
O’Connell, David (Daithi O Conail): 5.30
O’Connor, Joe: 9.2
O’Donohue, Pat: 6.5, 6.17,6.20-21,8.20, 8.23,11.4, 11.16, 3.21, 4.3,
O’Dowling (née Timbey), Elsie: 7.7, 11.15, 11.17, 5.7
O’Flaherty, Pegeen (Mrs Chris Sullivan): 10.25, 4.2
O’Hagan, Desmond: 5.2, 5.28
O’Herlihy, Cal: 10.19, 10.28
O’Leary, Michael TD: 2.23
O Loingsigh, Micheál S.: 5.17, 2.23, 5.27, 5.28-30
O Maille, Eoin: 7.9, 8.12, 10.16, 11.8, 11.29, 12.1
O’Regan, Jim: 7.9
O’Reilly, Gerald: 2.23
O’Riordan, Michael: 6.19, 6.28, 7.8, 7.10, 10.17, 11.27, 5.28, 5.31
O’Riordan, Manus: 5.18
O Snodaigh, Oilibhéar: 5.18, 11.29, 12.3
O Tuathail, Seamus: 7.6
Powell, Enoch MP: 5.29
Power, Colm: 2.22
Ramelson, Bert:7.20, 8.28
Redmond, Sean: 5.17, 8.3, 1.10, 1.15, 5.2
Redmond, Tom: 5.28
Rees, Merlyn MP: 5.21, 5.25
Richardson, Jo: 4.4
Riordan, Barry: 5.26
Roche, Richard (Dick): 12.1
Rothstein, Andrew: 11.17
Saidlear, Muriel: 7.5, 12.5
Scorer, Cath: 5.1, 9.16, 10.20-21, 11.4, 11.6
Sear, Arthur: 9.2
Seaton, Michael: 9.2
Sheehan, Helena: 5.29
Short, Renee MP: 5.1
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 6.17, 7.9, 7.21, 8.12
Skelly, Jeff: 11.24-25, 3.24, 4.5
Smullen, Eamon: 1.16, 2.10, 2.23
Snoddy, Oliver (see O Snodaigh, Padraig):
Solley, LJ MP: 5.7
Stagg, Frank: 1.27
Stallard, AW “Jock” MP: 5.1, 5.21, 7.18, 1.27
Stewart, Edwina (née Menzies): 7.29, 9.2
Stewart, Jimmy: 7.24, 7.29, 7.31, 9.2, 9.24-25, 2.22
Sullivan, Chris: 10.25, 4.2
Sweet, Colin: 11.1, 12.12, 3.31
Tate, Jane: 9.21,10.10, 10.22, 11.13, 11.15, 4.5, 5.1
Trench, Brian: 5.2
Wainwright, Bill: 8.12, 8.28
Ward, Alf: 5.23
Watters, Tommy: 6.28
Wilson, Harold MP: 5.1, 7.9
Woddis, Jack: 6.17, 6.19, 6.24, 6.28, 7.21, 7.23, 7.29, 8.28, 9.9, 9.15, 9.21, 10.17,12.12, 12.17, 1.20, 2.17, 3.15