1 June 1976 – 31 December 1977
Themes: Editing “Songs and Ballads of the Easter Rising” for the Workers Music Association – Concern at Sinn Fein the Workers Party involving itself with the CPGB in Britain through Clann na hEireann, with consequent diminution of support for the work of the Connolly Association – Concern at Irene Brennan’s influence on the CPGB Executive regarding Irish policy and seeking to counter her activities on behalf of the “Official” Republicans – Attending the ICTU conference in Galway to meet ITGWU General Secretary Michael Mullen re writing that Union’s history – Connolly Association Weekend Summer School on traditional Irish music – Retrospective assessment of the British solidarity movement: “I am more and more forced to the opinion that everything could have been a success if the CPGB had backed the CA, and that their failure to do so is an example of a deep unrealised and uncomprehended chauvinism. This penetrates all aspects of the question and is apparently under present circumstances impossible to move. I have in other words spent thirty years battering my head against the brick wall of English arrogance and stupidity, and this is not good for the brain. And strange enough, this is what Jimmy Shields said in 1947: ‘all this rotten chauvinism’. Though they had an empire then.” (7 October 1976) – Intervening on behalf of an Irish prisoner – Research for his book, “Sean O’Casey: Politics and Art” – Joining the Society of Authors – Considering moving to live in Dublin – Burglaries at his house in Birkenhead – A rainy fortnight’s hostelling in Wales – Eddie Cowman becomes Connolly Association organiser – “I revised the first two chapters of ‘O’Casey’. But I think I am not significantly in sympathy with the man to enjoy writing about him. I think he did more harm to the outlook of the English socialists than anybody else. My purpose is to try to undo that harm. But I am afraid I no longer have much confidence in English socialists.” (1 January 1977) – Lecture on “Marx and Ireland” to a student society at TCD – Attitude to growing divisions in the CPGB: “And from all sides you hear of disarray and total confusion…Now these splits occur when there is much to be said on both sides of a question, and no solution in sight. It is therefore incumbent on a leader to prevent the discussion of matters about which nothing can be done and keep in view only problems which seem soluble. In this Gordon McLennan has failed and he has allowed Gollan to split his party. They are very foolish men, and they could leave the political labour movement in this country crippled for a period of years.”(26 February 1977) – Writes philosophical article on “The Dialectics of Nature” – Decision to stay aloof from the dispute between “softliners” and “hardliners” in the CPGB and to concentrate on work in the Irish community: “For while they are turning in on themselves their real enemies are escaping with murder! And I have a good idea what will happen. The ‘softs’ will win, retain the paper and apparatus, and there will be many resignations, and then the ‘softs’ will continue to be as dogmatically ‘soft’ as the others are dogmatically ‘hard’, as they quarrel over a false antithesis.” (10 April 1977) – Attitude to Sid French’s breakaway from the CPGB to establish the New Communust Party – Seeking to amend the statement on Ireland in the CPGB programme, “The British Road to Socialism”, by private representations to senior party members – Making corrections in the text of “Marx and Engels on Ireland” for publication in the USSR – Proposes that the Connolly Association concentrate on campaigning against the Prevention of Terrorism Act in the coming period – Inserted comments by Dr Roy Johnston taking issue with some of Greaves’s judgements in the original manuscript Journal
* * *
Index to Volume 28 of Desmond Greaves’s Journal
[Editorial Note: In this and the remaining ten volumes of the Greaves Journal the Index is given at the beginning rather than the end of each volume, the better to facilitate readers grasp their contents. In the previous volumes of this electronic edition the Index has been at the end. In the Index references throughout the month comes first, and then the day of the month)
Greaves, C. Desmond
Aesthetic and cultural matters: 8.26,11.29, 11.26
Assessments of others: 6.15-16,12.13, 1.20, 2.4, 2.16-17, 2.19, 2.26, 3.21, 4.15, 6.15, 7.17, 9.17, 9.19
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 4.2, 4.15
Civil Rights Campaign on Northern Ireland: 7.23
European supranational integration/the EEC: 2.8,3.24,5.3, 6.17, 6.25, 7.23, 7.27, 8.10, 9.5
Family relations: 11.5-6, 11.8, 12.21,
Holidays/cycle tours: 9.27-10.15, 10.17-10.31
ITGWU research: 6.28, 9.23,11.2, 3.3,
O’Casey research: 6.18, 8.4, 8.13
Self-assessments and personal plans: 6.11, 6.14, 6.18, 6.30, 7.17,7.31,8.7, 8.21-22, 9.3, 10.7, 11.25,12.18, 12.30-31, 1.16, 2.2-3, 2.4, 2.7, 2.19, 2.24, 3.8, 3.16, 3.20, 7.28, 7.30, 8.11,9.29, 11.13,12.7, 12.12, 11.14
Organisation Names Index
British and Irish Communist Organisation (BICO): 3.15
British Peace Committee: 4.16
Campaign for Democracy in Ulster (CDU): 11.14
Clann na hEireann: 6.6, 6.16, 6.27, 11.30, 1.31, 2.24, 2.27, 3.18,
3.22-24, 7.9-10, 8.7, 9.1, 9.20, 9.22, 11.15, 11.21
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 6.20, 6.27, 7.7, 7.15, 7.20, 7.31, 8.2, 8.21, 10.7, 10.31, 11.21, 11.27-28, 1.6, 2.21-22, 2.24, 2.26-27, 3.18, 3.21, 3.26, 4.21, 4.28, 5.1, 5.19, 5.28,6.24, 7.9, 7.17-18 ,7.22, 7.24, 8.4, 8.7, 8.10, 9.1, 9.19, 10.12, 11.15, 12.12
Communist Party of Ireland (CPI): 6.14-15, 7.15,11.21,1.20,
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 6.2, 6.30, 8.2,10.7, 11.14, 1.30, 2.24, 2.27, 5.1, 5.3, 6.15, 7.17,9.1, 10.12, 11.25, 11.28,12.12
Dublin Trades Council: 8.31
Irish Congress of Trade Unions: 7.8, 10.31, 11.21
Irish Sovereignty Movement: 11.28, 12.4, 2.11, 4.28
Irish Transport and General Workers Union: 9.23, 11.2, 11.30, 12.15, 5.24-25, 6.25, 8.14
Labour Party (British): 7.8, 9.14, 11.13, 4.1
Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF) /Liberation: 11.14
National Assembly of Women: 12.22
National Council for Civil Liberties: 2.27, 4.16, 5.18, 5.25, 9.20, 11.13
New Communist Party: 7.16-17
Resources Protection Campaign: 7.15, 2.7
Sinn Fein/IRA-Officials: 6.14-15, 7.7, 7.15, 7.22, 8.14,11.27,2.7, 2.11, 2.17, 2.24, 2.27, 3.15, 3.17, 3.19, 3.24, 3.26, 4.9,4.16, 4.21, 4.28, 5.16, 5.18,6.30,7.9. 7.23, 8.29, 9.20, 10.1, 10.3
Sinn Fein/IRA-Provisionals: 8.1, 2.19, 2.24, 5.25, 6.21, 6.30, 7.16, 8.27,12.14
Society of Authors: 9.1, 9.4, 11.24
Troops Out Movement: 3.22, 11.6
Trotskyist and ultra-left organisations: 2.1, 2.21,7.9,8.8, 9.8
Wolfe Tone Society: 11.25, 12.11
Workers Music Association: 6.16-18, 8.1, 8.34, 8.30, 9.1, 9.16, 7.16, 8.14
Young Communist League (YCL): 6.21, 1.31, 2.23-24, 3.24, 4.9-10, 4.28, 5.1, 5.3
Personal Names Index
Allison, FE: 2.4, 4.2,11.26
Amphlett-Micklewright, Rev.: 11.23
Arnot, R. Page: 6.18
Anthony, George: 3.25
Asmal, Kader: 7.10, 7.12, 7.17, 8.8, 8.13, 8.23-24, 8.31, 9.23,11.2,
2.12, 7.18, 8.25, 9.4, 9.6
Barr, Andy: 8.12, 11.21, 7.10, 9.8,10.15, 11.16, 12.2
Behal, Richard: 6.21
Bell, Bowyer: 2.11
Bennett, Jack: 12.7
Binks, Harold: 6.28
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 8.21, 10.31, 12.13, 1.26, 2.26, 6.15, 11.25
Bond, Stella: 12.13, 1.6, 1.31
Boyd, John: 3.24
Bree, Declan: 12.10
Brennan, Irene: 6.15, 6.30, 7.9,7.20, 7.25, 7.31, 8.1-2, 8.21, 11.13, 11.21, 11.23, 11.27, 1.10, 1.20, 1.26, 2.12, 2.21, 2.26-27, 3.17-18, 4.9, 4.16,4.21, 4.28, 5.13, 5.16, 5.18, 5.25, 7.18, 8.8, 8.29, 9.20,10.1, 11.16-17, 11.27, 12.2, 12.12
Bush, Alan: 8.1, 8.26, 9.16, 7.16
Byrne, Kevin: 8.29
Campbell, Carmel: 2.9
Campbell, Flann and Mary: 8.24, 11.25, 4.10, 6.6
Carmody, Paddy: 2.12, 5.1
Casement, Roger: 8.27
Casey, Con: 8.27
Chater, Tony: 5.13
Clarke, Sr. Sarah: 7.23
Clendening, Leo: 4.27, 5.18
Clinton, Mark: 1.10, 11.21, 11.27
Coates, Ken: 2.1
Comerford, Maire: 2.22
Connolly, James: 8.31, 12.7
Connolly, Roddy: 5.24
Conroy, Sheila: 6.28
Cook, David: 8.21. 8.10, 9.2
Cosgrave, Jim: 3.19,
Costello, Fergal: 8.30
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 6.1, 6.28, 7.6, 7.10, 8.9, 11.30,12.5, 2.8, 2.14, 2.18, 2.20, 3.22, 4.28, 5.4-6, 5.13, 6.14, 6.19, 6.21, 7.24, 8.25, 8.28, 9.5, 9.27, 12.10-11, 12.14
Cowman, Eddie: 6.15, 6.23, 3.17, 3.22,4.28, 5.1, 5.3, 5.18, 5.25,
5.27, 7.16. 7.18, 7.22, 8.20, 9.8, 9.11, 9.18, 9.20, 10.3, 10.7, 11.4, 11.6, 11.16-17, 11.25,11.27, 12.2, 12.17-18
Cox, Idris: 6.16
Cronin, Tony: 6.7, 6.19, 6.21
Crotty, Raymond: 5.5-6
Crowe, Michael: 3.26-27, 7.18, 9.11, 9.17
Crowley, Brian: 11.20, 12.24, 12.26, 2.26, 4.30, 5.28
Cunningham, Charlie: 7.3, 11.13, 12.17, 1.7
Curran, Mrs Antoinette (Toni): 7.25, 9.27, 3.9, 9.17 12.17
Curran, Gerard: 11.13, 11.15
Daly, Lawrence: 10.1
Davison, Madge: 7.9, 7.15, 8.1, 8.14,7.10, 11.16, 12.2,
Deane, Seamus: 12.14, 6.6
De Burca, Maureen: 8.29
Deighan, Joseph: 9.11
Devine, Francis: 8.17, 2.17, 5.7, 9.1, 12.7, 12.13
Devlin, Paddy MP: 2.9
Donaghey, Tony: 10.1
Draper, Lenny: 2.25, 3.21
Dunn, Bill: 11.13
Durkin, Tom: 3.26, 5.1
Dutt, R. Palme: 7.25
Earley, Packie: 12.2
Edwards, Frank and Mrs Bobby: 12.2
Faul, Fr Denis: 7.23
Freeman, John: 9.8, 10.15
French, Sid: 7.18, 7.22, 7.24, 9.19
Gallogley, Terence: 2.1
Gilmore, George: 11.28, 2.11, 4.5, 4.10
Goldring, Maurice: 11.27
Gollan, John: 2.22, 2.26
Goulding, Cathal: 12.2
Griffith, Arthur: 8.31
Gunn, Richard: 2.25, 3.10-13, 3.16
Harris, Eoghan: 8.25, 12.11
Harris, Noel: 7.6, 7.9-10, 8.14, 11.28, 2.9, 5.13, 6.18, 7.10, 12.2, 12.12
Heath, Edward MP: 7.27
Heatley, Bobby (Robert): 7.20, 7.23
Heffernan, Tony: 8.29
Henry, Jack: 9.8, 9.22
Heron, Brian: 4.1
Hobson, Bulmer: 6.30
Hodge, Alan: 11.26
Hoffman, John: 2.22, 2.25, 3.10, 5.13
Huggett, Stephen: 9.22, 2.25, 3.17, 3.26
Jenkins, Roy MP: 7.27
Johnston, Mairin, née Mooney: 11.27, 12.3, 2.12, 5.9, 8.30, 9.6,
Johnston, Roy: 7.15, 11.27, 2.14, 6.2, 6.16-17, 6.10, 8.19, 8.30,
9.1, 9.3, 9.5, 12.2, 12.11
Johnston, Una: 9.1, 9.3
Jones, JL “Jack”: 3.31
Kapp, Yvonne: 1.25
Keable, Ken: 11.27
Keating, Carla: 2.14, 6.22
Keating, Justin TD: 6.15, 7.13, 6.17, 6.22, 8.24
Kelly, Dalton: (See O Ceallaigh, Daltún)
Kelly, Jim: 2.25-26, 3.22, 4.30, 6.5
Kenny, Sean: 5.18
Kerrigan, Peter: 9.24
Klugman, James: 2.25, 3.24, 5.19, 7.17, 9.21, 9.29
Larkin, Denis: 6.28
Lawlor, Maeve: 9.19
Lehane, Con: 12.2
Levenson, Sam: 12.8, 2.27, 9.1
Lipton, Col. Marcus MP: 3.17
Logan, Desmond: 9.19, 2.21
Loyden, Eddie MP: 3.17
MacBride, Sean: 12.2
McClelland, John: 7.23
McCorry, Kevin: 2.14, 8.12
McDonald, Jim: 7.28, 12.17
MacEoin, Uinseann: 12.14
McGahey, Mick: 9.8
McGill, Jimmy: 9.11
MacGiolla, Tomás: 6.14,6.16, 6.27, 7.20, 8.14, 5.5, 8.29, 12.12
McLennan, Gordon: 8.21, 2.26, 7.9, 8.10, 9.21, 12.17
MacLiam, Bebhinn (NicLiam): 11.15
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 2.17, 12.2
MacLiam, Conor: 12.13, 11.15
MacLiam, Egon: 12.13, 11.15, 12.10
MacLiam, Finula (NicLiam): 12.13, 6.14
MacLiam, Killian: 6.14
McLoughlin, Eamon: 6.15, 2.21
McMullan, William: 8.17, 2.17, 5.7, 7.22, 9.6, 12.7
MacStiofain, Seán: 12.11
Matthews, George: 9.21
Menzies, Edwina: (See Stewart, Edwina)
Merrigan, Matt: 12.8
Morton, Alan G. Prof. and Mrs Freda Morton: 4.15
Morton, Alisoun: 11.15, 11.29, 12.4
Morton, Leslie: 7.17
Moynihan, Noel: 7.20, 7.22, 12.17
Mullen, Michael: 6.28, 7.6-8, 7.12, 8.13, 11.2, 12.15, 2.9, 5.24, 6.28, 8.25, 9.4, 9.6, 12.9, 12.13
Mulligan, Peter: 3.2, 3.27
Myant, Chris: 2.19, 3.21, 10.7, 11.4, 12.17
Needham, Prof. Joseph: 8.18, 9.29
Nevin, Donal; 6.28
Newens, Stan MP: 11.13-14
Nolan, Sean: 11.27, 6.21, 7.23, 12.2
O’Brien, William (Bill): 2.16, 6.22, 6.24, 9.6
O Bruadair (Broderick), Daithí: 7.6, 7.8
O Caollai, Maolachlann: 9.2
O’Casey, Sean: 8.26
O Ceallaigh, Daltún: 7.9, 8.8, 9.1, 11.24,11.30, 12.7, 1.28, 2.9, 2.14, 5.6, 6.19, 6.22, 8.25, 12.9
O’Connor, Peter: 12.2
O’Donnell, Peadar: 9.6
O’Donohue, Pat: 6.21, 2.26, 3.27, 11.12
O’Dowling (née Timbey), Elsie: 12.11
O’Hagan, Desmond: 4.21
O’Leary, Michael TD: 11.27, 9.4
O Loingsigh, Micheál S.: 7.19, 6.25, 8.27, 12.11
O Murchú, Eoin: 7.15, 11.28, 2.12, 5.9,5.13, 6.24, 8.29, 12.11
O’Regan, Jim: 6.29-30, 12.2
O’Riordan, Manus: 5.7, 6.18
O’Riordan, Michael: 6.14,7.9,11.27, 1.20, 2.26, 5.1, 5.9, 5.12, 5.15- 16, 5.18, 5.25, 6.21, 7.9, 7.18, 7.23, 9.5, 10.15, 12.1-2, 12.12
O Shannon, Cathal: 9.6
O Snodaigh, Pádraig: 12.3, 12.7, 12.11
O Súileabháin, Micheál: 8.26, 8.29-30
Owen, Wilfred: 11.26
Paisley, Ian MP: 4.27, 5.3
Powell, Pat: 7.6-8
Power, Colm: 4.17, 6.27
Prenant, Marcel: 8.18
Ramelson, Bert: 11.28, 7.9
Redmond, Sean: 6.15, 7,6, 7.17, 2.14
Redmond, Tom: 6.15, 7.7, 5.9, 5.15, 9.11, 12.2, 12.12
Reid, Betty: 11.16
Reynolds, Arthur: 7.13
Rigney, Peter: 5.7, 5.12-13, 6.28
Riordan, Barry: 9.19
Rothstein, Andrew: 9.21
Rudd, Joy: 8.24
Ryan, Michael: 4.1, 4.9
Saidléar, Muriel: 2.7, 6.16, 6.19, 8.23, 12.11
Savage, Jim: 6.30, 12.2-3
Schiller, Prof.Herbert: 9.2
Scorer, Kath: 2.27, 4.16, 5.25, 9.20, 11.13
Sheehan, Helena: 11.25, 2.12, 2.14, 5.9, 6.24, 8.29-30
Shields, Jimmy: 10.7
Shields, Ted: 6.11, 6.17-18, 8.1, 9.16, 9.20
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 11.27, 2.25, 3.21, 4.24, 5.23, 8.4, 10.15, 12.1-2
Small, Frank: 7.13
Smullen, Eamon: 7.15
Snoddy, Oliver (see O Snodaigh, Padraig):
Stallard, AW “Jock”, MP: 7.23, 8.8, 3.17
Stephenson, Sean (See MacStiofain)
Stewart, Edwina (née Menzies): 7.9, 5.13, 7.10, 7.23, 12.2
Stewart, Jimmy: 6.9, 7.15, 8.2, 2,26, 3.21, 7.10, 7.25,9.3, 9.28
Sullivan, Chris: 2.26, 3.17, 7.23
Sweet, Colin: 3.22, 4.16
Tate, Jane: 2.22, 2.26, 7.18,11.4, 11.11
Treacy, Seamus: 8.24
Twomey, Moss: 2.22
Walsh, Tom: 9.11
Watters, Frank: 11.27
Whelan, Joe: 4.9, 8.10, 9.8
Wilson, Harold MP: 7.27
Woddis, Jack (Hillel): 6.14, 6.27, 7.9, 7.15, 8.14, 11.27, 4.28, 5.3, 5.19, 5.25, 9.20-21, 12.2, 12.12
June 1 Tuesday (Liverpool): Some years ago I bought a dozen of these books cheap in High Holborn [ie. the hardback copy books in which he wrote his Journal]. Now I am working on the last of them. I do not look forward to the price of the next lot. The weather has been very wet and as it was raining again today I could do little on the garden. But it is good growing weather and the garden is miles ahead of what it was last year, including in weeds.
I recall that Tony Coughlan asked me if I had, or commented on if I had, Holroyd’s book on Lytton Strachey. Holroyd is at present in Rathmines writing about Bernard Shaw with the incredible industry he brings to all his enterprises. But now I found all the bookshelves in Phyllis’s room collapsed. I presume Tony had taken out the Holroyd and in putting it back had weakened the architrave, for it was this shelf that had been the villain. I was going to improve them anyway, though I would with satisfaction have postponed it. However, I spent an hour putting in steel brackets.
I see the man in Borough Road has put a new door on his garage. The old one was shattered when his son-in-law drove a car into it. The Browns heard the crash. He has also patched up the fence.
June 2 Wednesday: I rang Stella Bond to see how they are getting on. Apparently all is not lost, though cash is tight. Pat Bond had quite a good time in Germany. It is time the hard-working rank and file enjoyed some of these trips, but Pat would certainly not have gone unless the enquiry had been made of the Connolly Association [CA veteran member Pat Bond had been invited to speak on “Partition and the Current Irish Crisis” at a conference on “Ireland: Culture and Society” that was organised by Professor Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze, who taught English literature at the University of Halle-Wittenberg in the GDR. This was the first of six such conferences that were held over the following twelve years, some of which were attended by the present editor and for which speakers paid their own travel expenses].
I saw the man in Borough Road with a savage-looking machete slashing his overgrown lawn preparatory to mowing it. He waved. He seems to have taken a revived interest in things. I wonder if I helped when I said, “Never say die ‘till you’re dead”. I did something in the garden myself, but it is slow work.
June 3 Thursday: I had a letter from Roddy Wilson asking about the papers which Fiona [ie. Mrs Fiona Connolly-Edwards, one of James Connolly’s daughters] had left to the CA. It was too complicated a story to be written, so I said I would see him in London. I think that John Williamson behaved badly in accepting Fiona’s papers from crazy Bert Edwards [ie. her estranged husband] and then making her give up her claim to them as a condition of returning them to her. But he’s dead now and indignation will do no good. Certainly if there is anything left to the Connolly Association which the family wants, for my part I would not want to retain it. But I doubt there is. Very likely Bert will claim the lot and possession will be the full ten points of the law.
June 4 Friday: I continued on the garden. I had a mind to go away for a few days but didn’t get doing it.
June 5 Saturday: Still more gardening. This is turning out a very good year, on the dry side but warm, and things are as good as in 1973.
June 6 Sunday: There was still plenty to be done in the garden. A telephone call came from Pat Bond. They had had a Standing Committee, but they still want to consult me in everything. I was not by any means sure they were right in deciding to invite Clann na hEireann to the commemoration on 20th June [ie. the annual Wolfe Tone commemoration meeting in Trafalgar Square organised by the CA], but I said nothing. I am still waiting for Michael Mullen’s confirmation of the history contract [ie. for the envisaged three-volume history of the ITGWU, which the Union commissioned Greaves to write], but am sufficiently sure of it to prepare to retire from the other. They must learn to take decisions themselves.
June 7 Monday: Gardening again, but a little clearing up in my study. The extra ground I have brought into cultivation entails the labour of extra weeding. But I have the satisfaction of the prospect of lifting a hundredweight of potatoes, and carrots, parsnips, onions, courgettes, swedes and broccoli in proportion.
June 8 Monday: I decided to waste no more time trying to get the airs for the Irish songs [This was a collection of songs relating to the Easter Rising which Ted Shields of the Workers Music Association and the Connolly Association had originally taken on. It was then passed to Desmond Greaves and was eventually published as “The Easter Rising in Song and Ballad”, Kahn and Averill, London, for the Workers’ Music Association, 1980, ISBN0 900707 51 8.].
Mairin Johnston sent me the air to the wrong song, which she got from Fergus [her son, who was a professional musician]. She wasn’t too sure of it and asked me to write again if it was wrong. But I decided to raid the classics. It was necessary first to complete the typing of the MS, then to look out for airs for each song
June 9 Tuesday: I did some gardening but also continued with the songs. I realised that I will have to go to Ireland on Wednesday week when I should be speaking in Central London – unless the thing is called off, for Michael O’Riordan told me that Jimmy Stewart had had a nervous breakdown. Though I don’t like the man, in the circumstances in which he has lived, and has stuck it out there, I could not feel unsympathetic. But I would have preferred that the meeting should be held somewhere we will not be straining our ears for the whistle of bullets. I wrote to Charlie Cunningham, whom Jane Tate tells me is ill, to explain this, also to Eddie Cowman and Jane Tate herself.
June 10 Thursday: I’m getting on merrily with the songs. I have a surplus of eight-line tetrameters (iambic) and the “Spirit of the Nation”. Moore’s Melodies and Fr Walsh do not seem well supplied. And Rev. Fr Walsh’s are in that wretched tonic solfa which has to be translated.
June 11 Friday: I finished the work on the songs this evening, and but for some easily obtainable things the job is completed. I agreed to do it for £100 a few years ago, then believing that all I had to do was check and exit. Instead I have had to re-write the thing from the start, and find both words and airs. If Shields doesn’t like it, and he is a bitchy customer, it will be just too bad. I propose to ask £250.
June 12 Saturday: I got in some more time in the garden, though it still requires much work, and vegetables demand too much attention.
June 13 Sunday: Most of the time once more I spent in the garden, apart from reading the papers.
June 14 Monday (London): I worked in the garden in the morning and in the afternoon came to London. Pat Bond told me on the telephone that Tomás MacGiolla was coming to speak at the “Communist University”. When I was in Dublin Michael O’Riordan had told me that he would regard an invitation to MacGiolla as “interference”. There is something going on. O’Riordan told me ruefully of Jack Woddis’s travels. “He’s been in France. Next he’ll be in Japan. They’re organising a Three and a Halfth International.” I have heard nothing from Woddis about the Belfast discussions [Jack Woddis was International Secretary of the CPGB at the time]. If they are quarrelling with the CPI for international reasons, one can only speculate as to the results. However, I am too old to get excited about it. Whatever constructive contribution can be made will be made, but discretely. They will have to have their experience.
June 15 Tuesday: I was in the office all day. In the evening Eddie Cowman came in. Once more he showed unusual knowledgeability. He said that the “Officials” sent Tomás MacGiolla without consulting the CPI. This is true. But how did he know? From our side or from theirs? Perhaps through Michael Ryan, who coincidentally is showing his Birmingham weakness and did not put in an appearance. Eddie was here making posters with that odd introspective creature Maeve Lawlor, who works hard but is very difficult to communicate with. Tony Coughlan told me that the Belfast discussion is still on and that when he mentioned to Sean Nolan that I had not heard about it, Nolan shook his head and said, “Tt Tt! The usual muddle.” I will say nothing and see what happens; then I can decide whether to go. It is dubious whether it is likely to be fruitful if there are extraneous considerations in the background. Pat Bond tells me that Tom Redmond is being invited as well as Tomás MacGiolla. When Irene Brennan was in Dublin she spent some time (how much I do not know) with Tom, and I could imagine he might be looked upon as a possible ally. I will never forgive him for the way he let us down during the ructions with the North London Branch [a policy controversy in 1957-8 involving leftist members of that branch who wanted the Connolly Association to be advocates of socialism in the Irish community rather than stick to the objective of winning support in Britain for Irish national unity in independence, as set out in the CA’s 1955 Constitution. Several of the North London members were expelled over this policy division]. But for his weakness there would not have been half the trouble. To this day we have not had the minutes returned. He gave the Manchester Branch minutes to Jimmy McGill and they in turn have not been seen since. While Sean Redmond had no manners and was hard to get on with (I think he is better now), Tom Redmond was easy-going and personable. Tom would let you down, Sean would not.
I wanted to write to Loretta, but had not Justin Keating’s address [Loretta Keating, née Wine, was Justin Keating’s wife and had been a professional musician]. I had heard while in Dublin that Eamon McLaughlin and Barbara called there last summer “to drink his wine and see what cats he had”. When I rang Eamon he swore he had never been there. “Who told you I had been there?” Then Barbara interrupted and gave me the address!
June 16 Wednesday: Stella Bond brought me in a note from Pat Bond. He tells me that Clann na hEireann are going to avail of Tomás MacGiollas’s visit to hold a number of meetings [MacGiolla was President of “Official” Sinn Fein, now Sinn Fein the Workers Party]. Support groups for the Northern Trade Union “Better Life for All” campaign are being set up in Oxford and elsewhere. And they are asking Idris Cox to coordinate it. “Surely he’ll be too old,” said Pat Bond. I guess there will be an attempt to mingle Tom Redmond with MacGiolla.
I had a telephone call from the Workers Music Association. Their secretary will call on Friday. I happened to meet “Fitzy” in King’s Cross Tube [Jack Fitzgerald, a CA member who often criticised its long-standing policy on Ireland]. He looks old, stooped, broken and worn out, and is liable to be compulsorily retired through ill-health. He was on his way to a Union meeting. As one who did more than his fair share of the damage which has frustrated all we tried to do, I should have no sympathy with him. But I was sorry to see him knackered. I spoke at the branch meeting.
June 17 Thursday: I had written to Meller, publications secretary of the Workers Music Association, and today his secretary telephoned saying she had seen him last night and would call to collect the manuscript at 10 am. tomorrow morning. In the evening Ted Shields rang up. Somebody on the committee had rung to advise him to call me. I was not too pleased at this evidence of intrigue afoot within the WMA. I resolved to take up a purely commercial position. If they pay my fee and do all that is usual about acknowledgements, I have nothing to do with anything else. Ted Shields is of course the most tetchy and unpredictable person in the world, always fancying himself slighted. Tonight he said, “It’s a pity it couldn’t be got ready for the anniversary”, quite oblivious of the fact that he had failed to do the job and it had to be given to me to sort out. He has no sense of business!
In the evening Jane Tate and Eddie Cowman came in, but no Charlie Cunningham or Michael Ryan.
June 18 Friday: Somewhat late for her appointment the woman secretary, Mrs Arno Gillman, called. She was middle-aged, somewhat obese and puffed and panted with the effort of coming up the stairs. But she was very pleasant, and not English – New Zealand. I handed her the manuscript and a long letter I had written. I told her that I was not unduly concerned about the authorship. If they issued it under Shields’s name they should acknowledge my contribution. If over joint names Shields should have the royalties as long as I got my fee, which I proposed to raise to £250. She at once assented to this but expressed a desire for joint authorship. In this vast wilderness of silly nonsense known as the world I decided to stick to the main chance.
However, I warmed to this woman. She had worked on the old “Daily Worker” for six years and knew something about “prima donna” behaviour. She was told when she went to the Workers Music Association she would have plenty of it. And when I told her about Ted Shields’s phone call she told me that only one other person knew I had completed the MS, and it was sheer prima donna-ish interference on his part to ring Shields.
I mentioned Lawrence and Wishart, but she seemed slightly contemptuous. Robin Page Arnot had advised me not to give the ITGWU history to “these amateurs”, but I felt he was unjust. However she had another reason. She dislikes Skelly. He is the only person in the party she cannot stand. He is, according to her, quarrelsome and sneaky. There must be grave shortage of ability if he has been given Lawrence and Wishart. He would never hold down a job in ordinary life. And moreover he is too free in his relations with women. Hadn’t she to protect her daughter from him at Harry Pollitt’s funeral? Now I have put myself in the way of this dangerous gentleman’s disapproval by not turning in the book on O’Casey when promised. So as Cathal says [ie. Cathal MacLiam, his friend in Dublin], “feicimid is feicimid” [We shall see and we shall see].
June 19 Saturday: I was in the office most of the day, and out with Gerry Curran in the evening. The situation in Ealing has resolved itself in accordance with the laws of nature if not the dictates of romance. Pat O’Donohue has found himself a “mott” and his feet are back under the matrimonial table in Bellevue Road.
June 20 Sunday: I was in the office all morning, but Charlie Cunningham did not arrive until nearly 2 pm. We held our parade, about 60-80 walking with us, and there would have been more but for the wet morning. Ken Moloney spoke. He and Michael Ryan are old associates and they were at it hammer and tongs about the delegations they had been on. I suppose the socialist countries hope to retain the influence they build up for use if and when the delegates form members of Governments. But how it puffs up the young people and makes them separate from their own countrymen! Ken Brinson also spoke.
June 21 Monday (Liverpool): On her way to work Stella Bond met Tom Bell of the YCL, who expressed himself very indignant because Brinson had been described as “YCL” in brackets. This was Jane Tate’s or Eddie Cowman’s doing. And Toni Curran had declared that the reference to that organisation made it impossible to distribute the leaflet outside Churches. Jane Tate said she had put in as little as she could, but people expected an indication of affiliation. Then Pat O’Donohue said nobody would know what YCL meant; so it didn’t matter. But now Bell is saying that he doesn’t believe Brinson is a member of the YCL, and anyway was not qualified to represent them. Stella Bond told him that he attended the conference on April 4th as a representative of Croydon YCL. Of course this all connects with the obscure feud with Surrey [a reference to the “hardline” CPGB members in Surrey, led by Sid French, who broke with the CPGB the following year to establish the “New Communist Party”]. I wonder they cannot find something better to think of. I sent him a peace-making letter. Then I came to Liverpool.
June 22 Tuesday: Again the weather is hot and dry. This looks like being an exceptional summer, perhaps of the order of 1947 or 1959. The seventies have been consistently warm, like the thirties, and after thirty years of cold weather, nobody has ever discovered the secret of this strange regularity. But now it is happening. I learned from Tony Coughlan that May Hayes got off with a suspended sentence I was glad of that [She was an old acquaintance of Greaves who had been accsued of having an unlicensed gun in her house in Dublin].
June 23 Wednesday: I have finished the digging up of the side lawn and now have little more land to bring into cultivation. However all goes well. I never had such a quantity and variety of crops. I have finished the gooseberries, and the strawberries are just reddening up. Speaking to Jane Tate in London I learned that Charlie Cunningham did not attend the meeting. I think he likes attention and dislikes the effort being made to involve Eddie Cowman in everything. It struck me that we should make him Vice-President.
In the morning Tony Coughlan rang up. We are having difficulty in finding a speaker for the Casement Commemoration. Roger McHugh [UCD academic] cannot do it and Tony Coughlan thinks Seamus Clarke [prominent in the Casement memorial committee in Murlough, Co Antrim] is too old. When I remarked that Michael Mullen had not written, he said, “That just shows the way they go on!” The first poppy – last year’s – came out today.
June 24 Thursday: The first Tropaeolum flower appeared today –usually it used to come the first week of July. I did a bit on O’Casey.
June 25 Friday: The weather continues very warm and dry. I watered the garden and did something on O’Casey.
June 26 Saturday: It was hotter, and the sky is assuming that cloudlessness that was a feature of summers like 1921,1933, 1947 and 1959.
June 27 Thursday: I bought a day return to London, as I guessed I might not stay there. We held the Executive in a temperature of 98’F, myself and Pat Bond in khaki shorts, the unconventional Michael Ryan and J. Lindsay stripped off to the waist, Alf Ward and the somewhat conventional Eddie Cowman melting in ordinary clothes. The YCL [Young Communist League] had written a note about Brinson. I had already written about it. But we decided not to write again. My note must have crossed Bell’s. Michael Ryan gave me a handbill advertising an address by Tomás MacGiolla and Irene Brennan under the joint auspices of Clann na hEireann and the London CPGB. Mark Clinton told me that Frank Watters, against his judgement, is giving the Star Club to the same two, under Clann na hEireann auspices [ie. in BIrmimgham]. Watters told Mark Clinton that he has to safeguard his own position. The young fellow Pete Carter would like his job. “Why don’t you try to win Clann na hEireann?” Carter asked Mark Clinton. “Because if you won’t, then I’ll win them to the party.”
So what we see is the logical operation of a chauvinist principle of which they are totally unconscious. They are not interested in what happens to Ireland, or in Ireland. They want to win support for themselves. To win Trade Union support they temporize on the Irish question, to win Republican support they go halfway to meet them. I foresee a total fiasco. It is 1957-59 over again, the same wilful blindness [a reference to the conflict with the leftists of the Connolly Association North London branch at that time, who had been supported by members of the London District CPGB]. But this time I am not in London all the time. Non bis in idem! [A legal principle that one should not be tried twice for the same offence]
Another thing, the Troops Out Movement “mass deputation” is going to Ireland in September. I can see them dividing the Irish Trade Unions between Officials and Provisionals. Yet there is no awareness. Jack Woddis has not telephoned me since the conference of April 4th. I had intended to stay overnight if the heat was not too intense. It was, so I returned.
June 28 Monday: I got on with the O’Casey. Michael Mullen has not communicated about the history. I spoke to Tony Coughlan on the phone. He told me that he had been invited to the Irish TUC reception in Galway tomorrow week and invited me to go. It will be expensive, but I accepted. The only way is to go and see Mullen and arrange it then [A.Coughlan, then an ITGWU member, was not in a position to nissue a formal invitation, but intimated that Greaves’s attendance would be welcome to Michael Mullen].
June 29 Tuesday: I went to Ripley, the temperature being in the eighties; indeed at Ripley it was 92’F, and 120’F in a warm part of the factory. I saw smoke from a chimney in Manchester rising vertically into the air and showing no parallax over 120’. The conventions had disappeared; there was never such a variety of costumes. However, all went smoothly, and I got back by 9 pm., rather tired.
June 30 Wednesday: I wrote letters. Pat Bond wrote saying that Irene Brennan had sent out a circular for the Tomás MacGiolla meeting announcing “Tomas MacGiolla, herself and ‘a Connolly Association speaker’”. We have never been asked to provide one. This is another example of her contemptible blackmail. When the speaker does not arrive, “we refuse to speak with him.” I told Pat Bond that the best thing was to be there, but to say what the Connolly Association stands for. But I would find out in Dublin whether we should be regarded as performing an unfriendly act. It is important not to get ourselves isolated. Though how I wish I had seen the back of them all and their politics by intrigue.
July 1 Thursday: This was another blazing day. The oenotheras came out last night but were bedraggled enough in the morning. I spoke to both Pat Bond and Charlie Cunningham again.
July 2 Friday: Another blazing hot day, quite a deal of it spent with the hose in the garden.
July 3 Saturday: I spoke to Pat Bond again. He did what I advised at the meeting, protested that we had been advertised without our consent and said we would speak if we got a proper request. Charlie Cunningham agreed to speak provided I wrote out his speech.
July 4 Sunday: At last the hot spell begins to look unstable. All night it was muttering thunder. But the morning was hot as usual – around 90’F, I would say. But in the afternoon it grew dark, and there was much heavy thunder in the west. Later the radio announced a fierce storm in the County of Denbigh, complete with fire-balls and thunderbolts, if these are not the same thing. But the amount of rain that fell here was quite disappointingly small.
July 5 Monday: The weather was as hot as ever. I had to have a decent suit in Ireland, but I folded it as smoothly as possible in a rucksack and set off in khaki shorts without evoking a glance from anybody. It was not quite so warm in Dun Laoire, but warm enough. There was nobody to meet me but I thought little of that, as the boat did not tie up at the proper place. I had booked to Dun Laoire only, but as there was a crowd I boarded the train without buying a ticket. At Amiens Street the ticket collector declined to accept my money. The Gardai were everywhere. “Bomb scare”, he said, “Get out as quick as you can.” I went up to Cathal’s and soon Helga appeared. She had gone to Dun Laoire with Bebhinn but had missed me owing to the nuisance. Soon Tony Coughlan came and I returned with him [ie. to where A.Coughlan lived at 111 Meadow Grove, Dundrum, Dublin]. Helga’s sister is staying with her.
July 6 Tuesday (Galway): I went to Galway on the morning train, Tony Coughlan having arranged for me to stay with Daithi O Bruadair [David Broderick, veterinarian in Galway and former Trinity College Republican Club member]. He is Sean Redmond’s “Daithi O’Messer”, who took him to Murlough a few years ago and visited so many farmhouses and places of interest on the way that they only reached Murlough as the ceremony was ending, and Sean had to gabble through his speech. One of the first people I bumped into was Gerry Pocock of the WFTU [ie. the World Federation of Trade Unions] – one of the few decent people in England. I went to the ASTMS reception on a ticket furnished by Noel Harris, and there met may people I knew. From the reception I went to a meeting of the Galway ITGWU with Pat Powell, who is now in the city [Powell was a former CA activist in Coventry, now working as an ITGWU official in Galway]. There was a ceremony at which Michael Mullen gave away certificates of long membership. They insisted on my being included in the photograph, and Michael Mullen invited me to the dinner tomorrow together with Tony Coughlan. Pat Powell told me that Galway branch open their meetings with a decade of the rosary. Then I repaired to Daithi O Bruadair’s. I think I met him before. He is said to be 38 but must have the secret of permanent youth – not an overgrown schoolboy, he seems to have decided to remain 25! A very agreeable person.
July 7 Wednesday: I went into the Congress at Salthill in the morning and met many people I knew, Pat Powell being particularly helpful and solicitous. He asked whether the CA had felt upset at his unannounced departure for Ireland. I replied negatively but did not add that as he was doing nothing for us, we had lost nothing. The CP on the other hand had expressed some annoyance. He replied that they were not as ill-informed as they made out. But he had hesitated before taking the plunge. He was surprised to be offered the job. His illness, discovered to be due to an allergy, had only just been cleared up. He had to make up his mind when he had no preparations made.
We had lunch at a hotel where a few of Andy Barr’s cronies were gathered, and met Tom Redmond, Fergal Costello, O’Rourke and many others. Afterwards Tom Redmond and I had a talk. Both he and Noel Harris are indignant at the way the British CP is taking up the Official Sinn Fein and consider it gross interference in Irish affairs. But what can be done?
Later I went to the ITGWU dinner and sat at the top table with Michael Mullen, Carroll, Kennedy and others [Michael Mullen was ITGWU General Secretary at the time, John Carroll its Vice-President and Fintan Kennedy its President]. Later Tony Coughlan came across and joined us. I did not find the cabaret, if one can so describe it, of very high standard. And I believe Pat Powell’s wife [Florence Powell] was annoyed because she was not invited to sing. My impression is that Kennedy is the most intelligent of the ITGWU hierarchy, but what the inner relations of the triumvirate may be, I can only conjecture.
July 8 Thursday: Daithi O Bruadair [David Broderick] got us to the Congress in good time and on Michael Mullen’s insistence we decided to stay another day and meet the Chileans at another dinner. The ICTU is one vast junket. In the hall nobody listens to the speakers and a constant buzz of conversation, not improved by the vile acoustics of the dance hall, make following the speeches difficult. I think they know what everybody is going to say. When the British TUC man spoke there was silence, but what he said can hardly have edified them. He boasted of the great achievements of the Labour Government in keeping wages down. The Chilean on the other hand spoke excellently, a young man called Gatehouse translating for him.
At midday Daithi O Bruadair waited for us to take us to lunch, deciding to go to Clarenbridge, but picking up a recently qualified medical student on the way.
“Have you any money?” Asked Daithi.
“I’ve not,” said the student.
“Well, I’ll subside you, but I just wanted to indicate that the subsidy was not unlimited”
All this was said in such a way that it could not possibly give offence, and Daithi then told us of his war to clean up the food rackets in Galway. He is chief veterinary officer and in charge of the abattoir. He was offered money to pass bad meat the day he arrived. Then he found a farmer putting formaldehyde in his own milk to make it keep, and scent in a rival’s milk to make it unsaleable; and the same big farmer threatened to shoot him if he interfered, so that he had to go to the guards for protection. I would not however judge him unable to protect himself.
We had lunch in the very oyster bar that the Flemings used to describe as the haunt of Sean MacBride [former Irish foreign Minister]. But I could not see them. The student must rush back to Galway without even seeing the 1916 tree [a beech tree whose boughs had been cut to make a road barrier during Liam Mellows’s activity in the area in 1916]. Then Pat Powell offered to drive me to Craughwell to see Fr Cowan who had criticised “Mellows” on minor points of fact. When we got there we found he was on holiday. So this time we went to Clarenbridge and I showed Tony Coughlan and Pat Powell the tree. But again we were in a hurry. Finally, having agreed to stop over, we found Michael Mullen who told us the dinner was – in Clarenbridge. So back we went a third time. I sat next to the young interpreter. He was, as I anticipated, the young man back from Chile that Jack Woddis told me about, apropos of the suitability of young people for responsible positions. But he must be 30 at least, whereas Eddie Cowman is only 21 or 22. It was an interesting evening, and late at night I was driven back without having seen the Flemings! But perhaps I will have other opportunities. We stayed with Pat Powell.
July 9 Friday (Dublin): Pat Powell brought us down to the station and we returned to Dublin. The visit of Tomás MacGiolla to England is receiving tremendous publicity and Irene Brennan must be dancing with joy. I went in to see Michael O’Riordan who told me that he had met Jack Woddis and herself in Berlin. I thought at first from what he said that Woddis knew nothing about her capers, but later I said to myself that I was not so sure. Woddis had asked if anybody was coming to the “Communist University”, then added, “but of course not; the Irish question is not being mentioned.” He could have added that there was an extra meeting with Tomás MacGiolla and I think he may well have deliberately misled O’Riordan.
Later we saw Daltún O Ceallaigh who was at Galway. Michael Mullen had asked him to see if he could meet me next Monday to discuss the history. He reminded him that they had another meeting and was not very forthcoming. Now going to the ICTU, as far as I was concerned, was merely an excuse to bring the ITGWU to a decision. I wrote to them on March 8th and had no reply.
Noel Harris came in. He said the Sinn Fein alliance was the child of “those two silly bitches in Belfast, Edwina Stewart and Madge Davison”. He also said Andy Barr had expressed dissatisfaction with Jimmy Stewart, with which I gathered Noel Harris agreed. So Irene Brennan is succeeding in sowing divisions everywhere. A very cunning young lady! Harris on the other hand is by no means the soul of discretion himself, and was loud in his denunciations of Clive Jenkins [leader of his Trade Union in Britain], and talking of leading the Irish membership out of ASTMS [The Association of Scientific,Technical and Managerial Staffs].
July 10 Saturday: There was something of a party at Tony Coughlan’s, with Noel Harris and Kader Asmal. Harris had a word with Asmal about the breakaway and Asmal told him to avoid legal action at all costs. Then, on the strength of Michael Mullen having said to me that the ITGWU regarded my terms as “kind” to them, but that they are worried about what would happen in the event of my decease, I asked Asmal what he thought of the proposals I had discussed on the phone with Seafort. I wanted a formula that would protect the ITGWU.
“You mean protect yourself, surely”
“No, I think I am protected already.”
His face became overcast and he replied in generalities.
July 11 Sunday: Nothing much happened. The weather is normal again. Tony Coughlan and I went for a walk in a park.
July 12 Monday: I went to the Meteorological Office in the morning and was at Liberty Hall at 4 pm. as invited by Michael Mullen. I was kept waiting till 5.15 as Clancy had been right in saying there was a meeting. Then I was confronted with the bombshell. The proposals made were that the ITGWU should have the copyright of the history and that “all material collected should be the property of the Union.” I protested that I would not accept this. Then Mullen produced a piece of paper on which Asmal had drafted these additional clauses and asked me not to tell Asmal that he had shown them to me. I was of course angry with Asmal, but understood his embarrassment. I declined to relinquish the copyright but told them they could have it when I was dead, which I hoped would not be or a long time, but one never knows. I said they could have access to materials in the event of my decease. They then promised to redraft the proposals and send them to me.
July 13 Tuesday: We had lunch with Arthur Reynolds [an old Dublin acquaintance of Greaves]. He still visits Justin Keating but is afraid that his main interest is getting a job as European Commissioner at £30,000 a year free of tax. Justin is now a very rich man, with several farms and the biggest pedigree herd in Ireland. Arthur still goes there. But all is not well in the Cabinet. Recently after a quarrel, Tully said to him, “Well what about you? You married a fucking Jewess.” So he may be glad to retire upstairs. Arthur Reynolds told me about Frank Small [a young friend of Reynolds’s who had joined the Connolly Association in London]. Apparently he married a woman against the wishes of her parents. But what must happen but that she should go off her head. The parents then were very good about it and took her to live with then. But Frank Small is now shattered and out of everything, a very great pity. Arthur is of course his usual breezy confident active self. I first met him in the company of Kay Phoenix and was able to tell him she was dead. He is working on the “Times”[ie. the “Irish Times”] and running a fishing magazine in his spare time [ie. “The Irish Skipper”], has one son aged 17 by his first wife, and has recently married again. I saw Cathal and Daltún O Ceallaigh in the evening.
July 14 Wednesday: I spent the day in the Public Records Office and in the evening saw Cathal.
July 15 Thursday: Today is the meeting in London. I saw Michael O’Riordan again. He told me that Jack Woddis had telephoned asking if there was any objection to the “Morning Star” carrying a photograph of Gordon McLennan [ie. CPGB General Secretary] meeting Tomás MacGiolla. Michael told him that there was. “But Jimmy Stewart said there was no objection.” They had rung up Belfast first. Michael then told me more about the rift with the “Officials”. The greater part of the “Irish Socialist” is written by Eoin O Murchú, brought up in London, but returned as a student. I was favourably impressed by him despite his wife who wears the trousers and is an American into the bargain. The Sinn Fein did not like the situation and warned O’Riordan that they might take “physical reprisals” against him [ie. against Eoin O Murchú], “not as a member of the CPI but as a former member of Official Sinn Fein”. So much for the sucking doves they represent themselves as in England. Michael O’Riordan replied that on that principle he could take action against Eamon Smullen as a former member of the CP!
Then there was the incident in Belfast when some young CPI-ers were selling the “Irish Socialist” and fell to bantering with Official Sinn Feiners. Madge Davison’s husband was told at the point of a revolver that he had better behave himself. I would have thought that would have cured Madge Davison, but maybe it hasn’t. Again following the takeover of the Resources Protection Committee [properly the Resources Protection Campaign], Roy Johnston, who cannot hold his hand, wrote a letter to somebody whose name I did not catch, to the effect that the Left were at war within that organisation. Smullen tackled Michael O’Riordan: “You’ve got to discipline Johnston.”
“That’s our business.” But every time they meet, Smullen asks, “Have you disciplined Johnston yet?” And of course you might as well try to discipline a bull in a china shop. When Michael O’Riordan indicated that the CPI was internationally recognised as the Communist Movement in Ireland, Smullen declared, “We’ve got the big battalions.”
[Roy Johnston asked that the following note be inserted here in the original manuscript Journal when the Editor permitted him to read that in 2002:
“In the July 15 1976 entry there is a reference to a complaint by Sinn Fein against the present writer, calling on Michael O’Riordan to discipline him for exposing to key leading people in the Resources Protection Campaign that the Left were at war within it, fighting for take-over.
This was indeed true. I had attended a broad-based meeting in Athlone, attended by ASTMS and other trade union people with strong technological skills, with standing and influence, some of whom I knew personally thanks to the Irish Times ‘Science and Technology’ column; it looked like the RPC was beginning to attract technological heavyweights. I was appalled by the way the meeting descended into a slanging match between rival voting machines on some motion, the purport of which I forget. I attempted to generate a knowledge-based compromise consensual amendment, but was shouted down by both sides. This was, if anything, evidence of an ignorant petty-bourgeois struggle between two so-called ‘working-class’ voting machines, in a contest for the ownership of an organisation which neither of them understood. CDG did not have a clue about this, and adds some pejorative remarks about the present writer. . . RHW Johnston, 9 January 2002”]
Now he told me another thing. At Berlin he sent off a circular to all the CPs in the world explaining the reasons for not participating in next week’s jamboree [ie. an “Anti-Imperialist Festival” being organised in Ireland by Sinn Fein the Workers’ Party, to which various communist parties were invited].
“Are you not afraid it might get back to them?” I asked.
“Well, to tell you the truth I thought of that more by instinct. I did not send a copy to the CPGB – I told them by word of mouth.” He is seeing Jack Woddis next week.
July 16 Friday: I was busy on work on the O’Casey book, in the National Library and elsewhere.
July 17 Saturday: I saw Cathal and Helga in the evening. Sean Redmond came out, with Suzanne and the baby – a robust little fellow who sleeps on his belly and has a perfect temper. Sean was very indignant at Irene Brennan’s nonsense and thought the whole thing disgraceful, and a hangover of chauvinism. On the telephone Eddie Cowman told me that Charlie Cunningham was only fair and that Tomás MacGiolla came late and entered as Charlie was speaking. He and Jane Tate are on holiday. Sean Redmond had heard from Tom Redmond that I was considering settling in Ireland. It depends however on a number of things.
They discussed Kader Asmal, and all agreed that he had behaved badly, though not of malice, when I had spoken to him long ago about the Union and myself jointly consulting him. But they said his weakness is to wish to be popular with important people, something which arises from his middle-class position and the social status of Asiatics in South Africa.
July 18 Sunday: In the afternoon Tony Coughlan and I went for a walk up Three Rock Mountain. It was nasty and cold on the top, close at the bottom.
July 19 Monday: We had lunch with Madge Davison who is coming to give the Casement lecture. And in the evening we went to Micheál O Loingsigh’s.
July 20 Tuesday: I went to Dun Laoire and crossed to Caergybi [Holyhead], reaching 124 Mount Road by 4.30 pm. A letter from Charlie Cunningham awaited me. The meeting was held in sweltering heat. Just before he finished Tomás MacGiolla came in, and he is convinced that it was deliberately engineered with clear intention. While he was speaking Irene Brennan was agitated and put him off his stroke by indications of dissent. She was particularly upset by the reference to the CPI. I suspect there may be something very far-reaching in all this.
July 21 Wednesday: I spent the day digging the garden and admiring the long marrow that has grown in a fortnight.
July 22 Thursday: Another day spent the same way apart from a bit on O’Casey. I keep remembering casual words spoken in Dublin. Noel Harris, a bit drunk, inveighing against the “two silly bitches” in Belfast who were in love with the Officials (though in some respects I would not expect), and the same one reporting Andy Barr’s dissatisfaction with Jimmy Stewart. Apart from that the place is swarming with ladybirds, whether from the mild winter or the hot summer. I can’t think what they can live on. Even the broad beans are clear of aphids.
July 23 Friday (London): I came to London on the 4.04 and was out with Eddie Cowman. Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate and Michael Ryan are away and forces are thin on the ground.
July 24 Saturday: I came into the office, and in the evening was in Hammersmith with Jim Kelly.
July 25 Sunday: After spending the morning in the office I spoke in Hyde Park in the afternoon, with Eddie Cowman and Gerry Curran, and in the evening was in Kilburn with Chris Sullivan. Toni Curran told me that Fishers, the accountants, want to meet Toni and myself on Friday, she could not think why. Precious little thinking does she do over the accounts. I told her that I thought it arose from the accounts just prepared, to warn us that we cannot go on losing money the way we are. Chris Sullivan told me that Irene Brennan had been to tea with them and had said she was very hurt that the CPI had not thanked the CPGB for its help. The chauvinist bitch thinks she is “granting” and “giving” and “helping” in a situation the foolish Irish made for themselves. I remember how old R. Palme Dutt despised this outlook.
July 26 Monday: I was busy on the paper all day. In the evening Eddie Cowman came in and found our advertisement sign perilously dangling.
July 27 Tuesday: Another day spent on the paper. Charlie Cunningham called in for a few minutes. He has had no holiday yet but has packed his mother off to Italy to stay with his brother. He left for Yarmouth without any luggage.
July 28 Wednesday: I finished the paper and addressed the Central London branch in the evening. There was hardly anybody there – Chris Sullivan, Jim Kelly, Eddie Cowman, Jane Tate now back, and Maeve Lawlor. Afterwards Jim McDonald appeared. He is the one Eddie Cowman calls a “hardliner” – all for the Portuguese and all against the Italians. He said many people were asking what was the matter with the CPI. What had they in mind? The split. I told him there was no split, only a splinter, and that people who live in glasshouses should not throw stones [a reference to the resignation of George Jeffares, Joe Deasy, Paddy Carmody and other prominent members of the CPI over its attitude to the Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968]. He agreed. He has Leo Clendening living with him at present and Eddie Cowman is joining them next week. He may be a good influence.
July 29 Thursday: I went to the newspaper library in Colindale to read through the “Irish Peasant”. I was in the office in the evening.
July 30 Friday: I again went to Colindale and in the evening was with Chris Sullivan in Paddington (See August 1)
July 31 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning. Brian Crowley has given up the bookshop and Maeve Lawlor is holding it for the time being. I knew he hadn’t the energy or staying power. I was in Paddington with Michael Ryan in the evening. He is in Rolls Royce with Charlie Cunningham now. He talks to everybody and knows all about the CP affairs that I do not bother about, who is on this committee and who voted for that. He is only 23, but shrewd enough. He says that Irene Brennan has reached her sudden eminence by holding a balance. All the “hardiners” support her because she periodically defends Russia on the Executive Committee, and the others because she only does so periodically. But I think there is more than that!
August 1 Sunday: I omitted to record my meeting with the Workers Music Association in Paddington last Friday, from which I went to meet Chris Sullivan. Arno Gilman was there, Alan Bush [ie. the well-known composer], Miller and Jordan, who had collected some of the songs. They expressed themselves highly satisfied with the MS I had given them, agreed to pay £250 and insisted on my receiving royalties which I had not bargained for. But the fly in the ointment was Ted Shields. He was unable to come tonight, being abroad on holiday, but wrote that while this was obviously a very fine MS, it was not the book he had envisaged. “Why didn’t he write it then?” I asked to the general amusement. Also it contained errors. I said that if they were pointed out I would be very happy to correct them. Then the question of copyright arose. Had I used any of his material? I had used a little in hopes of pacifying him. But would this enable him to claim copyright? For it turned out that Jordan had found the songs, or most of them. Ted Shields had threatened legal action once already to get back things that were not worth getting back. So it was decided they would consult a solicitor and I would look over any correspondence that I had.
Now today, Sunday, I spent the morning in the office. Then we had a meeting at Hyde Park. Again there was not an interruption and it is my opinion that the “Provisional’s” are to be thanked. I made it quite clear that we were not a “physical force” organisation, but still there was applause, which I considered discreetly encouraged. Of course this may well be imagination. But though we have made it plain that we consider them mistaken, we have always recognised that the motives which prompt them to much folly and some wickedness, are patriotic.
In the evening we had a packed meeting in the Ivanhoe Hotel which Madge Davison addressed and was very good. Toni Curran said she had not attended such a meeting for years. It had an “aura” – like socialist meetings in the days of a united movement in the thirties, or the war, and loads of people were there. Pat Bond told me that Irene Brennan had asked him to meet her privately next Wednesday, but he does not know for what. Gloria Devine, now Finlay, was there, with Finlay [Mrs Pat Devine had remarried following the death of her husband]. She told me that she finds political life hard. She seems to disagree with so much that the CPGB does. She was shocked when Irene Brennan gave a talk on the Irish question without mentioning the “Irish Democrat”.
August 2 Monday: I spent the morning in the office. A document came from Jimmy Stewart, to be discussed at the “seminar” they have chosen for the weekend I intended to go away on holiday. It is not adequate. But at the end is some strong criticism of the “Officials”, whose “socialism” is put into quotation marks. So all is not going well with her ladyship. I wonder what she wants to see Pat Bond for? A national Irish Committee? Something to inveigle the Connolly Association into? I omitted to say that on Friday Toni Curran and I saw our accountant and their grim picture was discussed at a Standing Committee yesterday.
August 3 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley [ie. where the monthly “Irish Democrat” was printed] and all went well. But not so later. When I reached 124 Mount Road I turned the key and the door would not move, I realised quickly that the bolt was shot. I wondered whether to ask Fred Brown to give me a hand to push it in. But though I found it difficult to believe that I had left by the back door, I reflected that this must be open, and it was. Then I found a window broken in the music room. Over the next few minutes I discovered signs of disorder. There was nothing amiss in my study, but drawers in Phyllis’s old bedroom were open. Clothing was scattered on the landing. A drawer in which I kept underwear was open, and so was the airing cupboard. After a while I found a pair of filthy jeans that had been dumped. It immediately struck me that this was a break-in for clothes. I found then that two pairs of green jeans had been swiped. I had bought them cheap, so it was of little matter. The radio was still there. I was about to congratulate myself when I thought of CEG’s gold watch [ie. his father’s]. It had gone. Then I found that mail had been opened. A cheque for £500 I withdrew from the Building Society was there – but the passbook was gone. However, I decided not to take it too hard and rang Ashford, dropping a hint that if he had built the wall all would have been well. He promised to come.
August 4 Wednesday: The excitement has made me forgetful. Last Monday I found quite amazing things at the Public Records Office. I looked up the military records of Michael Casey and Nicholas Beaver. The second had a poor military record, and contracted primary and secondary syphilis, scabies and “palpitations” before he was married. But from 1886 onwards he seems to have had a better record. But as for Michael, Sean O’Casey’s brother, though his military record was good, and it was the Royal Engineers not the Dublin Fusiliers he joined, as a telegraphist, he had gonorrhea in 1888, primary syphilis next year, ulceration of the penis, necrosis and diseased bone. He was discharged as medically unfit in 1893. It seems ridiculous to suggest he was called back for the Boer War, and in any case, his papers would have been lost like Tom Casey’s if he had.
Now Tony Coughlan rang up saying he had arranged a trip to Caherciveen next week, and Anthony Butler says Kit Casey is still alive. Most interesting of all, Beaver was born in Dungarvan, and was Catholic. His marriage representation was a falsification.
But now to the burglary. I was in the garden when I saw something bright blue behind some custard marrows. It was a “jean-jacket” or “lumber-jacket” I had brought from London. Then I realized that another blue one had gone, But there was lying beside it a ragged short coat. And in the pocket was CEG’s passport! And beside the passport the LBS [Liverpool Building Society] passbook. So it was only the watch. Then, sorting things out, I found a pair of filthy orange “briefs” and a shirt with bloodstains on it. Ashford came, measured the windows, and agreed to put one back. Then I rang the police. But one other thing had gone, I discovered – a razor. So this was a clothing expedition by some bum. When the policeman came I gave him all the particulars. But as Fred Brown said, the chances are slim, though the clothing might help. Ashford told me that Bob Evans, who has the butcher’s shop in Borough Road, was seized by hoodlums, badly beaten up and compelled to open his safe under threat that his wife and spastic daughter would get the same treatment.
August 5 Thursday: I saw Jean Brown who told me she thinks she heard a crash last Thursday about 7.30 pm. This would of course be in broad daylight. Why climb over the wall – for that is where the ground was trampled? Another clue was that the pile of shoes was disturbed, so he wanted these as well. Well Lane CID man Watson called to get details of the clothing stolen and agreed with me it was a clothes expedition. They have the discarded clothing at the station. “Are you insured?” he asked. From that I guess chances of recovery are slim
August 6 Friday: Today was largely spent locking the stable door after the horse’s escape. Ashford mended the window and cleaned the mess and measured the place for bars. I wrote to Dorothy Greaves and others.
August 7 Saturday (Dublin): I went to Dublin and never had such a horrid journey. At Chester I was told that Sunday tickets were required and I tossed up in my mind whether to go on to Holyhead and take a chance or to come back. I took the chance. The train missed the boat, so it was necessary to transfer the passengers by bus to the car ferry a mile away. Of course there were no buses and people gradually tired of waiting and started to walk. When I got near the car ferry I asked the way but was mis-directed into the place where cars were lined up. I approached an official who turned out to be a policeman in disguise, and had to endure a long grilling, of which I can only record the choicest gems. I explained I was a journalist and author and god-knows-what, and showed the new British Library card with a photograph. I referred to the British Museum Library.
“So you work for the British Museum?”
“No, I don’t”
Then came much more questioning, as he went through my papers carefully putting on one side everything appertaining to Sean O’Casey.
“So you work for the British Museum.”
I then explained that inside the British Museum there was a very big library where scholars from all over the world did their work. Even so it came again: “You work for the British Museum.” Meanwhile books, notes, cuttings on O’Casey mounted up.
“Do you think England should get out of Ireland – the troops, I mean?”
I replied that I trusted that one day they would but would not recommend the immediate withdrawal of troops.
“So you believe in the British presence in Ireland.”
“The answer to that question is the same as that to the previous one”
Then with one last go at the British Museum, he turned to the pile of O’Casey papers with the air of one coming to his main business.
“Now – who’s this fellow Sean O’Casey?”
“A world-famous playwright”
“Never heard of him”
“Then it shows he is not as world famous as his admirers believe him.”
“Where is he?”
I was sorry I was not able to provide details. He had left this planet some years ago.
When I got on board I thought of nothing all the way over but how to retaliate. I started composing a letter to the Home Secretary which I shall dispatch from London. Cathal and Tony Coughlan met me at the boat.
August 8 Sunday: The weather having suddenly taken up again, Tony Coughlan and I went for a walk in the gardens at Powerscourt. We looked for Aine Redmond [Tom Redmond’s former wife, now settled in Wicklow] but apparently she has left for Kilmacanogue. Daltún O Ceallaigh came in the evening and told me that he persuaded Clancy that my points are reasonable. It is really a monstrous thing for a so-called progressive lawyer [ie. Kader Asmal of TCD] to suggest that a Trade Union should try to exact from an author the relinquishment of his copyright and the making over of material that he collects at his own expense. I told them they could have what they paid for. And now Clancy is worried about how much they would be let in for paying! Yet I have provided them with estimates.
August 9 Monday: I rang up Anthony Butler and he told me he would ring tomorrow, as he would like to meet me. He is very anti-O’Casey and thinks his main concern in England was to line his purse. But I do not think that. He recommended to me a book by Margulies, which he said was boosted by Krause as justifying him, but it just as much justifies Krause [These were scholars who had written books on Sean O’Casey; Krause edited his letters]. I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and saw Sean Nolan. The People’s Democracy bookshop in Belfast is buying Connolly badges from Nolan, who gets them for 19 pence and is trying to sell them back to us at 35p. less 10%. We agreed we must charge more. In the evening Tony Coughlan and I went to the “Plough and the Stars” jubilee production at the Abbey. Apart from Siobhan McKenna and Cyril Cusack, none of the actors could be heard. They might have been playing to each other. Tony Coughlan commented to me on the reactionary content of the play. And yet it was leftist – bringing in universal principles as a block to particular progress.
August 10 Tuesday: True enough Butler rang, remarking that he did not appreciate that he had been talking to “the” Desmond Greaves. So there must be plenty of them about. He offered to lend me his copy of Margulies, and gave me the address of Kit Casey, Tom Casey’s youngest son, and Kevin Byrne, a City Councillor. I went down to see them. I saw Kit’s sister who told me the O’Caseys came from Kerry and that two brothers of Michael Casey were priests. That made me wonder if Michael Casey, with his knowledge of Latin, was a “spoiled priest”. “It was he was the turncoat,” said she.
Then I saw Kevin Byrne, though it was his father I saw first. He was the man Roy Johnston found, who was in the Free State Army as a Republican agent and smuggled Mellows’s letters out of Mountjoy. I did not follow it up because I thought it was Roy’s nonsense. This time it wasn’t. The young fellow who was there when I called back and was expecting me, took me upstairs. He was a man of strong personality, about 40 I would guess. He is anxious to prevent a six-lane motorway being driven through the East Wall and wants to proclaim the area “O’Casey land” and get it all preserved. So he is running an O’Casey Festival next spring and has meanwhile interested a private company in yet another new bridge further down the Liffey.
He told me his story when we went for a drink. I knew he had lived in England from his accent. Indeed I would guess he had spent some of his childhood there. There was an upper-class inflexion in his accent. However this was it. He went to England at a time when his main interest was poetry and writing short stories. He went to live in a “community” in Cornwall where he inhabited Aleister Crowley’s cottage [the English occultist and self-proclaimed religious prophet]. There he married. His wife developed schizophrenia and went into an asylum, from which she emerged a year ago, but they do not live together. He went to Gloucester where he worked at making hand pottery – I had heard of this, possibly from Roy Johnston – but later brought his son, now about 18, to Dublin. He was ten years on the “Dublin Opinion” or some such periodical, is a schoolmaster five years, working at TCD in a course in Public Administration and, being an Alderman, is on 37 committees! When he relaxed after a few ciders (all he would drink) I detected a neurotic element and the slightly “ashamed of himself” look that Roy Johnston betrays betimes, though otherwise he was more like McCartney at Queen’s. He was kind enough to lend me a copy of Margulies [ie. Martin B. Margulies’s “The Early Life of Sean O’Casey”]. He told me that the Beavers were still there, also a Mrs Cullen who came from the Catholic side. Kit was from the Protestant, and the two families did not speak to each other. I had intended to go to Kerry, but thought that first I would look further into the priests. I spent the evening reading and extracting from Margulies.
August 11 Wednesday: I finished Margulies in time to go to the Customs House and order some vital documents.
August 12 Thursday: I went to the East Wall and met Kit Casey. He would be about 71, but vigorous and with a good head. I got on with him famously. “I would like to bring that Margulies back to Ireland and put him in court for libel,” he declared. “He came along here telling me about my own family. He said Beaver was born in Waterford. But I know who he was. My uncle Mick told me he was a Canadian sailor.” There were other things that Uncle Mick told, and I suspected there was a touch of malice. Seán had trailed his red herrings. Mick was going to trail his. He confirmed the story about the priests and that Caherciveen was the town. He says that the Caseys did not live at 85, Upper Dorset Street, but in a smaller place in the same building entered from Wellington Place. Again I doubt it. However he told me about “Archie”, really Isaac. He settled in Liverpool and one of the granddaughters is there still; other descendants are in York.
Yesterday Tony Coughlan and I had lunch with Eoin O Murchu, who left the Officials and joined the CPI. He told me that none of them will speak to him now. But Kevin McCorry did say that their support for the international companies is bringing protests from the country. This evening I met Michael O’Riordan and had a talk with him in Churchtown. He showed me a document which is to come before his EC on 12th September. It lists complaints against the “Officials”, with whom their relations have worsened. He was with Art McMillen. “That’s a terrible thing you did to us,” says Art, who is one of the nicest men alive, “Writing round all the Communist Parties telling them not to support our Anti-Imperialist Festival.” This was at a wedding, so no more was said. But Michael O’Riordan was told that they had a photostat of the letter. He suspects it was supplied by Irene Brennan.
Now the interesting thing about the document is that it accuses Sinn Fein of starting a rival CPI and proposes discussions with a view to amalgamating the two organisations. This is a bold move, but I can’t see how the Six County delegates can accept it. Surely it would harm Andy Barr? As for the talks at the end of September I told him I am not sure I will go, as I had intended to be on holiday. He also had heard of divisions in Sinn Fein. He did not think for one moment that Sinn Fein would consider amalgamating, but thought his move might bring them to reason.
August 13 Friday: I went to see Conor Linnet and secured a copy of the marriage certificate of Michael Casey. The father was a farmer, so he was the first into Dublin. The clergyman was in his forties, very pleasant, very helpful and kept using the word “nostalgia” as he showed me documents from St Catherine’s, now closed, going back centuries, and silver dated 1611. I could not find much in Thom’s Directory when I looked for it at Pearse Street [ie. in the Public Library there], and anyway had to hurry for lunch with Tony Coughlan and Madge Davison. The “Sunday Independent” had given our meeting a good, if critical, “write up”. Madge Davison invited us to the shop in the University anytime we went to Belfast. It was the neutralist place in the city.
Daltún O Ceallaigh told me he had seen Michael Mullen – who wants the whole thing referred to Asmal again: “To protect the interests of the Union”. But he persuaded him to see me and see Asmal and try to get it settled. I proposed that all three of us meet as this would give me the advantage, but Asmal is out of town, so the thing must remain in abeyance. Things are made upside down today by a partial bus strike. I got the bicycle out to go to 24 Belgrave Road [ie. Cathal MacLiam’s house in Rathmines] where Toni Curran had left me £100 against the bank strike. Didn’t it puncture itself, and I had to leave it there and take a taxi back
August 14 Saturday (Liverpool): I took a taxi to Dun Laoire, Cathal being in Galway and Micheál O Loingsigh in Kerry. The journey was uneventful – no policemen doing more than watch like statues, and I reached 124 Mount Road.
I was thinking about some parts of conversation not recorded. Michael O’Riordan said he thought relations with the Officials and the CPGB were near crisis point. He had told Jack Woddis that he regarded the invitation to Tomás MacGiolla as interference, but said he was sure Woddis knew nothing about it. Woddis had brought up the issue of “relations between the parties” as a defensive attack. He had heard remarks from a Belfast youngster which “hurt”. They suggested the CPGB was doing nothing, instead of doing the wrong things. And Noel Harris had gone for him like a bull at a gate. I wondered whether a document might help – I told both Michael O’Riordan and Sean Nolan that I did not think Jimmy Stewart’s satisfactory. They both seemed very disposed to listen. So perhaps I might fire a second shot.
August 15 Sunday: I did little but water the garden and straighten things up. The weather is hot and dry.
August 16 Monday: I prepared the inventory of stolen good for the insurance company. I cannot decide if the shorts were stolen, though he left one.
August 17 Tuesday: Again I pottered round. I never seem to get anything done now. I recalled how Madge Davison told us that Francis Devine of the Labour History Society, another “Official”, secured an MS from William McMullen and the Society has seen nothing of it.
August 18 Wednesday: I had bad news from Jane Tate. Only three people have applied for places at our Summer School.
August 19 Thursday: I spent most of the time waiting for Ashford. He has been getting bars and new locks. I am determined to make the place like a fortress.
August 20 Friday: I typed the list of Connolly’s published writings, ready for Daltún O Ceallaigh, and will send my “opinion” shortly. They are consulting me on what book to subsidise. It struck me to suggest to Dudley Edwards that we form a committee for the publication of Connolly’s complete works. Perhaps Fr Martin [UCD historian] might come in, and Roddy [ie. Roddy Connolly] if he’s much use. He’s so damned lazy.
August 21 Saturday (London): I took the 10.4 to Euston. The weather is still hot and dry. There was some grazing until we passed Crewe, but once launched into the Midlands saw a sorry scene – cows trying to crop short grass in fields three-quarters of which were scorched yellow. I saw a Lombardy poplar that was half green and half brown – like Peredur up Efrawe’s tree. Many birches were dying by the time we reached Northamptonshire. Whole boughs would be brown, but other boughs would be fresh. It was quite unlike a normal autumnal leaf fall. But the fool farmers were still burning stubble and hedgerows and copses had been burnt down. There was quite a deal of cloud in the south, but it was very warm. I was out in Hammersmith with Michael Ryan.
Pat Bond left me an account of his meeting with Irene Brennan. It confirmed my view that she is beginning to get into difficulties. And she can get into more before I help her out! She told Pat Bond that the CP wanted to cooperate with the CA and requested him to say that they would like to put proposals, but before they did, wanted to know what proposals were likely to be accepted. One proposal was that we should help the NCCL campaign on the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Pat Bond pointed out that we had been partially excluded from the sponsoring list. That, said she, was not intentional; it was because Millner, their officer, is incompetent. The other proposal was that we should have members on the committee the Brent Trades Council was setting up. Because the “Better Life For All Campaign” [which had been launched by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions] is political, or not political, or something, they have been forced to create an unofficial campaign and they have not the resources. So presumably they want us to do the work for them. I told Jane Tate this and she said let them go to hell and do their own. Of course poor Pat Bond has no guile, and instead of saying either they should make their proposals or ask us for ours, he said this absurd course could be “considered”. Another thing this crazed madwoman did was to report to the LondonAdvisory Committee that the CPI had protested over the MacGiolla thing. This should never have been done. And the Clann na hEireanns chortled sarcastically, “Oh, they’re very sensitive!”
Now Michael Ryan was telling me a story of how Cook [ie. David Cook, national organiser of the CPGB], the organiser, stepped out of line is some way and Gordon McLennan wanted him dismissed, but could not get a majority for it. He also claimed that the proposals of Pete Carter for the EC mostly came from outside his district. Michael Ryan loves getting these points of tittle-tattle, and I never bother with them. But they might be worth remembering in view of the situation.
August 22 Sunday: We held a meeting in Hyde Park in the afternoon. It was a strange sight. The grass was dead, but people squatted or strolled on it arrayed in shorts and singlets of every colour and quality. There were irregular gusts of wind which I at first identified as “cats’ paws”, but later realised were miniature heat storms which blew clouds of dust into peoples’ eyes, while the plane leaves steadily dropping all over the park were blown into drifts a foot deep wherever they encountered a barrier to their progress. Eddie Cowman has become a good little speaker, and Michael Ryan is beginning. This is presumably the last generation I shall have the training of, but certainly they are promising. I was with Leo Clendening in Kilburn in the evening. He said that Jim McDonald has tried to bring him on to Irene Brennan’s “Advisory Committee”, I presume so that he need not attend himself.
August 23 Monday: I was in the office working on the paper. On the telephone Daltún O Ceallaigh told me he had seen Asmal at a fierce boozing party at Cathal’s, and Asmal had objected to my holding the copyright because “he’ll be in receipt of a salary.” I explained that this was not so. When I posted off my opinion I said I would come to Dublin in September and have it out with the man. In the evening Eddie Cowman, Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate came in.
August 24 Tuesday: In the morning Tony Coughlan told me on the phone that he had blown up when Daltún O Ceallaigh told him about Asmal. He agreed I should go over. He thinks it is all due to Asmal’s “big head” and that he will collapse at a confrontation. Phyllis would have been sixty today if she were alive.
The Workers Music Association is having rare fun with my MS. I asked for a copy to look at some things that have been queried. Apparently they are so busy with their own amendments and corrections that they’ve time for nothing else. Arno Gilman is coming in tomorrow. But I’ll put paid to all that nonsense in due time. If Michelangelo had put an angel in a fresco where he should have put a devil, the Pope would not get the Vatican housepainter to make the change. I can imagine the artist saying, “If you must have the devil, you must have him. But I paint him in!” The trouble with them all is that they think they can do what they can’t do.
August 25 Wednesday: When Arno Gilman arrived she told me she had influenza, but was well enough to discuss the book. She took my points extremely well, as she is a New Zealander. She told me that the Europeans had destroyed the Maori native music by running diatonic scales and played cadences down their throats. I was busy on the paper all day, but saw Eddie Cowman, Michael Ryan, Charlie Cunningham and others at the meeting.
August 26 Thursday: I had a phone call from Alan Bush, who had been startled by my insistence that dominant and not subdominant harmony was required for the twice repeated tonic – either by this or by fear that Jordan (who is making guitar chords) would do so. He promised me the most elegant and sophisticated harmony imaginable, and no 1-4-5-1. After virtually finishing the paper, I went with Jane Tate to the Aer Lingus terminal to meet Micheál O Súileabháin and his wife [Composer and UCC lecturer in music who had been invited to speak at the CA Summer School]. He is quite a young man, an enthusiast for Irish music, and she is a singer. I had a useful discussion with him which will help with the other thing.
August 27 Friday: There were a few spots of drizzle today in a northeasterly wind, but there was no proper rain. I was in Kilburn with Charlie Cunningham.
August 28 Saturday: There was rain today – quite heavy showers in a north-easterly wind. It was quite remarkable to see ornamental ivy recuperate between the withered rhododendrons in Argyle Square. I rang up the Liverpool weather service and think there may have been rain there too. I hope so as I have been away a week. I give the ground a good soaking the day before the restrictions came in, so hope all will be well.
August 29 Sunday: I looked out in the morning – damp, pavements and clouds drifting in a westerly wind. Surprising! But before evening the wind had dropped and the old cumulo-stratus was back. In the afternoon there was a very interesting talk by Micheál O Súileabháin on Irish harp music which aroused great interest. Eddie Cowman thought he was going to be bored, but he was not. I saw Billy Butler in the evening. He spoke of Eddie Cowman taking over next March. So people have been talking. There is also a rumour abroad that I am about to retire and take an Irish Government job looking into archives. “I don’t think he’ll take it,” said Jack Henry. So the rumours fly. We had Andy Higgins at the social in a strange temperamental mood as becomes a singer. Micheál O Súileabháin was immensely interested in his complex Dublin music-hall tradition.
August 30 Monday: There was a little but not much rain – it never rains properly – and our Summer School continued. A.L. Lloyd – Oh, how aged since I used to meet him when we had the West London Connolly Association at the Workers Music Association twenty-five or more years ago – gave a talk on Irish instrumental music, and in the afternoon Oliver Mulligan on traditional ballads. I found Micheál O Súileabháin most interesting, and indeed was thoroughly tired of pentatonic monophony at the end of the afternoon and would like once more to hear a bass line urging the music along like a man with a whip on a stagecoach. Some of the members of the “Singers’ Club” were there, but no WMA.
I had intended to go to Liverpool in the evening but was delayed by Charlie Cunningham’s messing. I wanted him to come into the office for a few minutes with Eddie Cowman, but without giving Eddie any real information he went off with Barry Riordan, only reaching the office when I had missed the train.
August 31 Tuesday (Liverpool): I arranged with Ripley to post the proofs to 124 Mount Road, as Dorothy Greaves is liable to come. Then I went to the bank and came to Liverpool. I had a telephone call from her saying she was not coming – though I had asked her to write. There was also a request from Telefis Eireann to say a few words about Fr O Flanagan [Republican priest who was joint Vice-President of Sinn Fein 1917-23] and a note from Daltún O Ceallaigh. He says that Asmal advises the ITGWU to dig their heels in over copyright. So he will report to Michael Mullen. Then he and Asmal etc. will get together to decide on the Union position, which will in due course be communicated to me. Often during this long negotiation I have felt it would come to nothing. It is interesting that Asmal says he gave his opinion at once every time and blames Clancy for the delay [Patrick Clancy was in charge of the ITGWU Research Department, to which Daltún O Ceallaigh was attached].
September 1 Wednesday: I wrote to Daltún O Ceallaigh saying I was not going to Dublin until November. I also wrote applying for membership of the Society of Authors. They had invited me to join in 1961, but I did not then anticipate writing the books I have since written and overlooked it in the press of activity. I asked Daltún for their proposals in writing. Meanwhile I regard the whole thing as suspended. I telephoned the corrections to Ripley and sent the Workers Music Association a revised manuscript. Dorothy Greaves rang saying she would not be coming.
September 2 Thursday: The weather is dry but cloudy and chilly. I am getting a little done on the O’Casey book.
September 3 Friday: I heard from Daltún O Ceallaigh that he had not received the letter in which I had presented my arguments, as it had been delivered to the wrong flat. But I decided that unless I put the ITGWU right out of my head I can concentrate on nothing else. He also asked me what fee I would charge for advice on the publication of Connolly’s works, and I said nothing. I also told RTE that I was too busy to record for them.
September 4 Saturday: The weather shows signs of getting a little warmer. But it is still dry. Nevertheless, I am getting a fine succession of marrows and squash. The tomatoes will not ripen however as there is no sun. The carrots are small but the beets, red and white, are excellent. The calabrese I have eaten but left it to sprout. The foliage of the parsnips looks excellent and I anticipate a good crop, and the cauliflowers and Brussels sprouts come along well.
September 5 Sunday: Today was brighter still but not really warm. This is the second disappointing September in succession. I worked on the O’Casey.
September 6 Monday: The necessary forms came from the Society of Authors and I filled them in and despatched them with a cheque.
September 7 Tuesday: I went on the with work on O’Casey.
September 8 Wednesday: As rain was forecast I lifted all my potatoes for fear they would sprout. I should have had a hundred weight; I got less than 20 lbs. I have not watered them consistently enough.
September 9 Thursday: The weather broke at last – real rain, though mostly in showers. I continued with O’Casey.
September 10 Friday: Nothing but rain and wind all day, with everything in the garden swinging about as if it has St.Vitus’s dance. It is also very cold, so here is the second miserable September. This year has of course been dry, but it has been cloudy – not like 1959, which was bright from January to December. I went on with O’Casey.
September 11 Saturday: Another wet day. Though the garden is now workable; it is too wet to work it!
September 12 Sunday: I had thought of going into Wales, but whenever I think of a holiday something seems to happen to stop me. Today it was rain.
September 13 Monday: Incredibly enough, more rain. All out of the North. Not but what it has not improved the garden. One marrow swelled so quickly that it burst! But it was good eating for all that.
September 14 Tuesday (London): It was raining again and still cold. I prepared to go to London and looked for my camera. Then I discovered that the burglar had swiped it, plus Phyllis’s, which was a more expensive one but not working. Another thing that is odd, a pair of very old jeans has disappeared, plus some ragged paint-covered jean-shorts I wore when I painted the cottage, which should have been thrown out, and I thought of when I intended some clearing up. What does it point to? A building worker I would think. I fear it is too late to get the insurance on the camera.
I caught the 4.4 train to London. Jane Tate is away. I addressed the Gospel Oak Ward Labour Party. Jock Stallard was there [Labour MP for St Pancras and Camden].
September 15 Wednesday: The weather continues cold for the time of year. The Central London branch meeting took place and it was very depleted – only Eddie Cowman, Charlie Cunningham, Steve Huggett, Jim Kelly and myself. Moreover, Eddie proposes to study English at evening classes to enable him to write more fluently and he does it on a Wednesday night. He wants to change the meeting night, but Jim Kelly strenuously opposes this. There was hope that we might get another secretary, perhaps Michael Ryan, but he was not there tonight. My suspicion is that he likes talking but not responsibility.
September 16 Thursday: I did some work on the paper. In the evening the Workers Music Association publications committee met at 283 Grays Inn Road. Alan Bush was there, Arno Gilman and Miller, but no Jordan. We think Ted Shields is sulking, but young Sedley says there is none of his work in the MS, so that he has no copyright. I then went to South London where there is one promising young fellow about 30 years of age. That is something.
September 17 Friday: I continued with the paper, and was out in Kilburn with Stephen Huggett (SH, Hgt), with whom I was more impressed than before. He has quite a forceful way and has lost a great deal of his former “Englishness”. He has been in Fermanagh for a few weeks.
September 18 Saturday: I was in the office and the usual people came. Charlie Cunningham’s father is ill and he has to go more frequently to Stevenage. I was out with Gerry Curran, who tells me that all is till not well with Toni.
September 19 Sunday: We held the Standing Committee in the morning. Maeve Lawlor stepped into the breach in the bookshop when Brian Crowley proved so useless. But now Toni Curran, having at length admitted that West London is not functioning or is “functioning in committee”, has the idea that they should run the bookshop – they being herself and Pat O’Donohue and his mott [Dublin slang for girl-friend, probably from “mate”]. However, we agreed. And I put out the suggestion that Steve Huggett should be asked to be press officer, and I wrote to him. They had a successful meeting in Hyde Park and in the evening an excellent conference in the Mary Ward Settlement, attended by Eric Jay of Camden Community relations committee and a young priest, Fr Carolan. Peter Kavanagh was there.
September 20 Monday: I continued with the paper. I hear that Ted Shields has sent quite a reasonable letter. In the evening Gerry Curran came up and we recorded some songs for the WMA, Mr Mackey being the singer.
September 21 Tuesday: I finished the paper.
September 22 Wednesday: I addressed the Central London branch. Eddie Cowman was not there as he is studying English composition to fit himself for the full-time job. We were having to consider changing the night if we could not find a new temporary secretary. Jim Kelly was uncooperative. He has become very ossified and cannot bear change. I had already asked Steve Huggett to become press officer and he had agreed. Now he volunteered for this. I saw Eddie Cowman after the meeting and he accepted the suggestion to attend South London.
September 23 Thursday (Lowestoft): On the phone Tony Coughlan told me that the ITGWU had decided not to accept Asmal’s advice, but to hold to my proposal. In the afternoon I went to Lowestoft and was met by Mr Fabian, who was at Yarmouth. We held a meeting but it was poorly attended and would have been worse but that Pat O’Donohue’s brother brought two over from that town. I stayed overnight with Liddel, and his wife assured me that that morning a thunderbolt had fallen into the sea, and six inches of snow somewhere in Norfolk.
September 24 Friday (Liverpool): I got up early. It was a damp day with a leaden sky. I left at 8.35 and reached Norfolk city – Norwich at 9.25. I had never crossed country on this line and was quite interested. First there were miles of coniferous forest, then forests of poplars, finally arable and finally meadow. I went through Thetford, Ely, March, Peterbough, Oakham and Melton and finally changed at Leicester. I saw no rain but repeatedly came to places where there must have been a recent downpour. When I reached Ripley I learned that there had been no cheque. That is to say we are two months overdue. Toni Curran told me it was posted on Tuesday night. But you can’t depend on her. I reached 124 Mount Road at 9.30.
September 25 Saturday: I found I had left my reading glasses at Ripley. I did little today, preparing to go away. I am so tired I don’t feel like going. But as Phyllis used to say, that is the very time one should!
September 26 Sunday: I should have gone away. The weather was excellent but I didn’t get started, and that was that.
September 27 Monday: My birthday. A card came from Toni Curran. But Ripley told me that the cheque arrived this morning postmarked Thursday. I think the card is probably humbug – to keep me quiet about the shocking incompetence with which she runs our finances. She and Pat O’Donohue are now running the bookshop. You get the impression that a customer would be regarded as an intrusion. I spoke my mind freely, perhaps too freely, over the telephone. There is nothing more annoying than to be bamboozled. She had sworn the cheque was posted on Tuesday and caught the post. Now she admitted it was posted on Wednesday and missed the post!
September 28 Tuesday (Bryn Poch Uchaf): I was thinking of all kinds of ways of going away, cycling to Maes Hafn or Cynwyd, taking the train at Heswall Hills, but decided rather on impulse to take the train to Bryn Poch Uchaf and be done with it. It was fine when I started from Rock Ferry, and till Shrewsbury. Then there was a thunderstorm, which lasted on and off all the way. I was exposed to showers on the way up from Cynghordy but was not very wet. I was told three people were due, and one of them I found in the hostel, a retired man from Andover, very affable, and very much the florid blonde-greying Hampshire man. He had been a “footpaths’ secretary” for the Ramblers. He told me that two cyclists were due. Time went by and still they had not arrived. At first I thought they were youngsters, but the Hampshire man assured me that they were not. One was six feet high and of much more than average capability. These would not end in a bog hole. They would be back, or telephone that they were staying somewhere else. They got in all right at about 10 pm., soaked through. They had tried to mend a puncture in the rain and the patches would not stick. They had come in a van, bringing their bicycles from – not Birmingham – the Black Country. There is some connection between this hostel and Wolverhampton, as there is between Blaencaron and Stafford. Cardiff does not seem to have established its grip, and “No Smoking” jostles with “Rauchen Verboten” and “Defense de Fumer”, but there is no “Dim Mygi“[No smoking in correct Welsh] – or I suppose they would make it “Dim smocio”!
The Hampshire man told me of his journey on foot while the other man, round about the forty mark, discussed their wet clothing, one of them appearing in pink pyjamas because despite his years he thought wet shorts would give him pneumonia. He had been to Soar when the annual service was on. The parson had asked him if he knew Welsh. I told him he could not possibly understand the country if he did not. “That’s what the parson was telling me,” he said. “It’s a great pity these languages are all dying out.”
“Well, Welsh is vigorous,” I said.
“I’m very glad,” he rejoined. “It’s very picturesque.”
Then they all three of them fell to talking about the various institutions that study “wildlife” and are open to tourists, and the histories of cycling clubs. This fraternity must survive better in the Midlands than anywhere, though they all say one of the strongholds is Liverpool.
September 29 Wednesday: I had intended to go to Dolgoch. The Hampshire man told me that the warden who had the caravan at Nant Dernol was there. But it rained. Everybody was delayed. It rains every day now, making up for lost time. I was wondering if the slowing of the eastward movement of the weather was due to an anticyclone over the polar regions. If so we can expect the finish in a mighty cold winter.
The tall fellow from Wolverhampton was certainly far from stupid. He was talking about wages and trade unionism. “Those fellows that run the industries are free to please themselves. They buy and sell as they want. They invest their money in the car industry because it brings a quick return. The working man’s only investment is his labour. If that man’s free to get the best dividend, why can’t I get the best price? I wish the Trade Unions were what they were when they began. They had a social conscience. But if the man invests in motor cars even if that’s not for the benefit of society, why should the Trade Unionist bother about society? I wish he would, but can he afford to?” There seemed more than a touch of the “left” in this fellow.
We fell to discussing cameras. “You can often get a bad batch of components,” said he. “Yes” said I, “or if not bad itself, only just good enough to pass inspection.” He stopped suddenly “What’s your occupation? You sound as if you worked in a factory?” He was really puzzled since the Hampshire man had been asking me all sorts of questions. However, I assured him I did not, and left him to wonder. I could convey little by saying that Des Logan had bored me night after night with accounts of his woes as an inspector.
I walked to Rhandir Mwyn [in North-East Carmarthenshire], bought some provisions and arrived back wet but soon got a fire going.
September 30 Thursday (Dolgoch): Again the weather was wet. The wind remains in the southeast and it is mild. I cycled to Rhandir Mwyn and on past the lake to Dolgoch. I had the impression that the unmetalled road was shorter than last time; possibly it has been straightened. I found the Nant Dernol man there. Seeing I was wet, he immediately lit a fire and during the evening told me his story. Dolgoch was to have been opened last year, and he left Nant Dernol to get it ready. There were delays due to the fire protection bureaucracy. A £1,200 cesspool had to be installed. Huge rates are demanded, but the “District Council” (one of these new levels of bureaucracy instituted so as to facilitate and conceal corruption, as well as increasing the sums involved) refuses to collect rubbish. For a time he had to visit Tyn Cornel. He says of “Will”, the Hen Gardi, that he is a “rough diamond” but a diamond nonetheless. He used to live there and sold it to the YHA on condition that it remained a hostel for twenty years. He lost £14 last year on his store, where you are expected to pay through a slot. The difficulty is of course change. I had not appreciated that it was he who showed this confidence in the honesty of travellers, most of them from outside the country. Then early this year a tramp installed himself and threatened him when he told him to leave. He had to get the police. Then a female “hippie” established herself and filled the air with fumes of Indian hemp. This was the time when the “dropouts” were disporting themselves on the slopes above Rhaidr mostly in birthday costumes. There was difficulty getting rid of her too.
And apart from this his nearest shops were at Abergwesin and Tregaron. I remarked that surely there could be no question, Tregaron was his place. He told me that he had gone at first to Abergwesin and cycled back loaded with milk and tins. But the merchant was disobliging and had little to select from. He then switched to Tregaron. But pushing the bicycle over two passes nearly 1500 feet high was heavy work. He had now a small “trials” motorcycle and as he anticipated having to keep an eye on Tyn Cornel, this would be useful to him. He showed me the machine, with an exceptionally high engine. It would travel over very rough country. I thought he had aged and lost some of his panache. He was seriously disturbed at the effect of inflation on his fixed income, and while growing his own potatoes when he could, wondered if we were heading for a revolution.
October 1 Friday (Blaencaron): As thirteen people were coming tonight I decided despite the rain to push on to Blaencaron, which I reached quite early. There was a celebration at the local chapel – a centenary indeed, for it was established in 1876. I saw the warden’s son, now a well-filled-out young fellow in his early twenties. He obliged me by bringing me up a pint of milk.
October 2 Saturday: I saw the warden. She is better in health now than she was last year. The daughter who went to be a teacher was married last week. But the wee girl aged about 9 is still small and winsome. I had left my razor at Bryn Poch Uchaf and scoured Tregaron for another. This was the first wholly fine day and I cycled to Llanbedr pont Steffan [ie. Lampeter, Cardiganshire] in the afternoon to buy another. Nobody came. The hint had been dropped me that Blaencaron had declined in popularity, possibly on account of its primitiveness, which does not appeal to the Brummagem sprigs[ie. Birmingham]. The man at Dolgoch told me that most people are cooperative but some want to be waited upon, especially middle-class females, impecunious in splendid attire and mortgaged motor cars.
October 3 Sunday: I walked over the mountains in the afternoon until some wretched new forestry work held me up. I would not mind if they did not put up such formidable fences. This is of course the latest in the process of clearances. On the one hand the landlord wants a steady return; on the other the hill farmer’s wife wants the fol-de-dols of the village, even though they have all got cars, and can go in as often as they have the time. In the late evening a man in a car arrived, whom I thought at first an Australian, but proved to be from Bangor at the present. He had that Hampshire twang that I have previously mistaken for transatlantic, since the Wessex went both to Ireland and beyond. He had been attempting to climb Cader Idris in this morning’s rain and had become tired of it and decided to push south. He was an enthusiastic walker and climber, had been a cyclist and still used the bicycle about town – about 37 I would say. He mispronounced every place name and all his stresses were wrong. Like so many other Englishmen he never even thought that the words he mispronounced had a meaning, for English has changed so much that place names in England are just “names”. And personal names are the same. It remained dry but after nightfall clouds were gathering in the southwest.
October 4 Monday: The Hampshire man went walking to Dolgoch and Tyn Cornel, got up in various hues of red, from stockings to headgear. He was a printer by trade. Like yesterday the weather was mixed but looked ugly in the evening. An Australian in his middle twenties arrived on a bicycle from Dinas Mawddwy, a huge blonde fellow in running shorts, very unsuitable for this weather. Indeed he showed signs of giving up. He had been cycling for 90 days, and of this time had spent two months in Ireland. He told me that in all the An Oige hostels he went to during this time, he doubted if he met five Irish people. The hostels have been re-sited in the cities. The whole aim is continental visitors who will return as tourists. He spoke bitterly of the arrogance of the Germans, whose selfishness and ill-manners knows no limit. Even at Dinas, he told me, apart from himself there was nobody but a dozen Germans, and the poor things did not know how to light a fire. He was not of course of the intellectual calibre to appreciate what he saw on his tour, but he was by no means blind. Strangely enough he was of Polish extraction, and since his parents spoke broken English he had learned the language with more care than the average Australian.
October 5 Tuesday: Today the weather was savage, an incessant downpour driven by a southeasterly gale. When the rain abated at about midday the Australian decided to make for Cardigan town. It started raining again in the evening.
October 6 Wednesday (Tyn Cornel): I decided to go to Tyn Cornel by the road. “Dear me! Don’t go there. I am told there are squatters!” said the farmer’s wife at Glan yr afon. I told her I believed the police had cleared them away. When I reached the place there were no squatters but the Hen Gardi, or rough diamond, was spreading fertiliser on his pasture. I had seen that I had plenty of change, but deliberately offered him £2 for a £1.80 bill. “I’ve no change. I will have to give you 10p.” “Oh,” said I, “perhaps I have change,” and gave him the exact money, which he counted slowly as the prospect of making 10p. faded. And indeed I have change for the next bill too! Yet he presented me with a pint of milk he did not want to carry back to Llanddewi! He intended to give me the milk but decided to try and get 10p. for it! There was no coal, so I sawed up some logs. “Ah. I must bring up some coal. I forgot!” he exclaimed – in other words he has the YHA coal, and if nobody asks for it, it stays where it is! So he gets back his £14 – plus! [Greaves had met this parsimonious warden previously on one of his Welsh cycle and hostelling outings. See earlier volume].
October 7 Thursday: It was showery today, though the amount of rain that fell was not great. But it was quite cold for the time of year and I did no more than a couple of hours walking. I sawed up timber and was right in my expectation that the Hen Gardi announced no coal. Apparently he had somebody booked and was surprised at their not arriving – “Perhaps they will come later on.” The moon was brilliant enough “later on”, but 10 pm. came and the only arrival was cirrus overspreading the sky.
Now this is a queer holiday. I am among scenes where I normally relax but am not doing so. First, there hangs over me the change of pattern and uncertainties of the ITGWU project. Second, I am not happy about the Connolly Association’s future. And third, I am more and more forced to the opinion that everything could have been a success if the CPGB had backed the CA, but that their failure to do so is an example of a deep unrealised and uncomprehending chauvinism. This penetrates all aspects of the question and is apparently under present circumstances impossible to move. I have in other words spent thirty years battering my head against the brick wall of English arrogance and stupidity, and this is not good for the brain. And strange enough, this is what Jimmy Shields said in 1947: “all this rotten chauvinism”. Though they had an empire then. [Jimmy Shields,1900-1949, born in Greenock, Scotland; General Secretary of the South African CP in the 1920s; later editor of the “Daily Worker” and head of the CPGB International Department; died of TB; much admired by Desmond Greaves for his anti-imperialism.]
October 8 Friday: I went on the mountain to see if I could re-establish the water supply, but either there are air locks or the pipe is silted up. Not that one wanted. By 12 noon it was raining again and continued all day. About 4 pm. two elderly ladies appeared in a car – Friday is car-day – one small, intense and given to cries of excitement and dressed ordinarily. The other tall, aloof, fitted with purple plumes of dyed grey hair and sporting a kind of knickerbocker which is thought to be both utilitarian and stylish. Surely two old schoolmistresses on holiday. “Oh! Look,” said the small one, “A heron!” She looked at a bird chart. “Oh look. That must have been a red kite. A kite. a real live kite. What an experience we have had!” The other did not seem in the slightest impressed, and they went and sat in the car. A few minutes later they explained that the man at Dolgoch had sent them, but that Dolgoch seemed just as nice as this, and they wanted to visit a friend at Cardigan, and it was also very hard not to have running water. So away they went, two examples of harmless middle-class silliness.
Then at about 11 pm. a party of ten arrived in three instalments. They were members of the “Intervarsity Club” at Birmingham, and though they might have been graduates, such as that is, their conversation was of eats and drinks, and places and roads and people they knew. They were however pleasant enough, if totally vacuous. I think they are a kind of rambling rump after a number of successful engagements have resulted in marriage. And it went on raining.
October 9 Saturday: It rained on until 4 pm. The party got themselves up into the role of arctic explorers, with every kind of wrapping and waterproof possible, and away they went through the rain. At 5 pm. the rain having stopped a thick mist descended on everything, so that it would be difficult to see objects at 20 yards even if they were otherwise well-defined. The travellers will be sustained by sandwiches, a compass, and the integrity of greenhorn Englishmen. One of them, a somewhat affectedly donnish little man, remarked to me before departing that in the absence of sherpas, it would be convenient to hire some Welshman to carry his baggage. They stink with chauvinism.
They arrived back at 6 pm. and immediately set to work creating the most magnificent repast you had ever seen. I had had a bite before they returned, having caught sight of the hampers, rucksacks, boxes, plastic bags, booze bottles, even pressure cookers. Every utensil in the hostel was pressed into service. Cups were used for tea and muffins were passed to start. Then came soup and a main course, and another set of cups stood for the wine. The women had been emptying tinned pears into “flan cases,” and just as they were getting under way, two young cyclists arrived, fairly wet and very impoverished. There was not an inch of drying room. I never saw so many people with so many changes of outdoor clothing. There was nothing to cook in. There was not even a cup, and the young fellow I judged to be a student, a very hairy fellow, too hairy to be judged by appearance, dressed in red tracksuit and with his girl friend in jodhpurs, had to ask me for my cup, which they could take turns with. The Brummagem sprigs went on with their party and did not even look up at them. The boy entered “Welsh” in the Nationality column, but I do not think he could speak the language. He drew a somewhat obscene cartoon of the Brummies in the suggestions book and made remarks about motorists. Yet there was nothing uncivil about them. It did not occur to them that they had any responsibility but to their own inclinations. The cyclists went to bed early.
Then the chatter proceeded. One of them was talking politics. It was mostly cynical talk. I think that though they called themselves “intervarsity” they were mostly clerks in the post office, health service etc. and there were a couple of nurses. The politician spoke about the collapse of the pound. “Military dictatorship is the answer,” he said but without conviction. “But have we any military? We had an army and a navy once. I suppose we’ve still got a helicopter. Perhaps it would be better to have a police dictatorship.” But they could not think of a dictator. My feeling at first was that they wanted a dictatorship to protect their middle-class privileges, or at least see they didn’t sink beneath the working class. But later I wondered how serious it was. Possibly it was only chatter, and I got no sense that there was anything “evil” about any of them. Thoughtless perhaps, but that is not the same thing. As I said, on the whole they were pleasant.
October 10 Sunday: Off they went again, but one girl remained to do the chores. She had an attack of vertigo yesterday. “I often have it,” she said.” And I haven’t a supply of the drug I take for it.” I gathered she was a nurse. They take a drug for everything. It is silly nonsense. However, she was a pleasanter company than all nine of them. Across the valley is Nant y ggwyddel, and I came suddenly nearer discovering who the mysterious Irishman might be. I found in the hostel a historical atlas of Co. Cardigan. There was a map of tai unnos [one-night houses, which in Welsh folklore if built in one night on common land could be legally retained] in Llanddewi Brefi mountain. These were built between 1830 and 1870, and Nant y gwyddel is one of them. The custom was to throw an axe from the front door, and the distance became the radius of a semicircle. I had long ago noticed this semicircular rampart across there, and I am wondering if this is the origin of it. It might even be possible to find who the Irishman was.
I think the Brummagem sprigs have seen the “suggestion book”. One of them mentioned to the other, “We seem to have upset that Welshman.” He went off early after no more than powdered soup and dry bread. Perhaps he was afraid of being made a sherpa! I had a slight brush with one of the girls, a silly creature who was attracting the male moths by affecting baby talk. She wanted my chair to hang clothes on. “Are you going on sitting here?” she asked? “Yes, I am,” I replied very decidedly. This morning I was pleased to hear the nurse gave her a bit of “miaow”, which women are so expert at handing each other, and silence her completely. They left at 6 pm. after the Hen Gardi had called.
October 11 Monday: It was markedly milder today when the rain ceased about 10 am. and at 11.30 I left for Tregaron. But though by chance I missed them, there were heavy showers, and by nightfall rain was preparing again.
October 12 Tuesday: Another wet day. It was raining when I got up and did not cease properly until 4 pm. This must be the wettest holiday I ever had.
October 13 Wednesday: The day began deceptively fine, but with a chill in the air that boded no good. The last rays of the sun fell on the doorstep at 1 pm. Thereafter the clouds thickened and an hour later it was pouring down again.
October 14 Thursday: The weather can certainly qualify as the divil’s own. Colder still today, with a northeast gale howling round the house, and almost blowing the leaves off the trees – strange how well they have hung this year. The hazels and ashes are showing their first signs of fading – and the rain goes on. Indeed I had good reason to see how it goes on. I ventured into Tregaron around midday. The wind was behind me and I was quickly there. As I came back there was something of a lull. I had time to note the road crunching with hawthorn berries, rowan berries, sloes, acorns, hazel nuts and leaves. The high hazel hedges kept the horizontal rain off, so that apart from the front of my anorak, stockings and the fringes of my pants, I was completely dry. But the wind dropped for more rain and at 10 pm. it was bucketing down.
October 15 Friday: The wind dropped yesterday evening but blew again in the night. It seems to have got round to the northwest and at day-break was driving heavy rain up the valley, with torn-off ash leaves and everything else flying twenty feet in the air. The Afon Groes is a raging torrent, and I could believe it possible that it might burst its banks and cut me off from the farm. I wanted to leave yesterday. I begun wondering if I could even leave today.
And I couldn’t. It rained furiously all the hours of daylight. As I had forgotten to buy tea in Tregaron, I wanted to go in. At 3.50 pm. I decided it was worth a moderate wetting. I was riding downhill into the wind this time. The northwest gale had added its destruction to that of the northeast. The hazels were almost stripped. The brook by the old chapel had flooded the fields and put the road an inch or two under water. Elsewhere there were streams either down one side of the road, or the other, or both, or all over the road. Everything that normally soaked up water had been saturated. Yet enough was enough. Even now, though my knees and stockings were dripping, I saw a break in the clouds over Aberayron. This break had not yet reached the zenith at 8 pm! But the rain became less heavy and the wind became lighter. Again it was only a matter of changing lower garments. But getting water from the river was a different matter. Last week I stood dry shod on a flat stone and scooped up a bucket in comfort. Today I must wade through inundated grass to get a turbulent jet thrust into the bucket so as almost to sweep it away. However, I hope to get away tomorrow. I could stay longer, but I have seen too much rain – more than I ever saw before on a holiday, even in Scotland – and I have no hope whatever that the weather will take up. I must register the trip as not a great success.
October 16 Saturday (Liverpool): The day dawned fine, though there was a line of cirrus in the west. I decided not to trust it and made for Aberystwyth, whence I took the train. When I reached 124 Mount Road I found the house had been burgled again, but only to the extent of smashing the kitchen window and grabbing a radio.
October 17 Sunday: Though yesterday and today were reasonably dry I was not sorry to have come back, after the most disappointing holiday imaginable. Ashford came to look at the window and I did not forget to rub into him the fact that if he had carried out his contract to build the wall, this might not have happened.
October 18 Monday: I went into Birkenhead, deposited £80 in royalties and spent £39 on a new radio.
October 19 Tuesday: Ashford came and repaired the window. I tackled him again over the wall, but he is as vague as ever. Jeffrey Bloor says the best thing is to try to get hold of his wife, the only person he is unable to talk quiet.
October 20 Wednesday: I rang Ashford at 9 am. I also rang Toni Curran, who says Gerry has almost finished the paper and that the price increase to 15p. has not affected the sales. I found a new bookshop in Woodchurch Rd, run by a Mr F.H. Davies. I found a set of Disraeli’s novels which I bought for £9. He seems to be a local man who has recently retired. He has only had the shop open for three weeks and is obviously very much a novice. I would fear he would lose his capital. His mother was a Dublin woman but he has not been across for some years.
October 21 Thursday: It was not possible to get much done today. I am ringing up Ashford every day now. Then when the job is done – if it ever is – I propose to give him no jobs of any size. He is only good for mending a window or getting a washer on a tap.
October 22 Friday: There was not much done today. The weather remains atrocious. But the ground must still be warm as the Tropaeolums have produced vast quantities of leaves, beneath which there are perfect flowers. I lifted some carrots and beetroots. There are no swedes, but there is kohlrabi, calabrese, cabbage and still one or two marrows. Pounds and pounds of tomatoes cover the table of the front room, and I could eat a pound a day.
October 23 Saturday: A word from Eddie Cowman. He says that the 15p. charge for the “Irish Democrat” has not affected circulation. He said Daltún O Ceallaigh had written to me saying that the contract is on. But no letter has arrived yet.
October 24 Sunday: I have done a certain amount on O’Casey, an introduction and a first chapter. The weather was fine today, but I did not go out.
October 25 Monday: I rang Ashford, who promised to come tomorrow. Then I got on with O’Casey.
October 26 Tuesday: Ashford did not come. He is a complete muddler. I telephoned his wife and she promised to make him telephone me.
October 27 Wednesday: Ashford rang. He was very sheepish and incoherent and talked about mending roofs. The difficulty is that the job is started and loads of bricks delivered, otherwise I could send him packing. But then I might have as much trouble with somebody else.
October 28 Thursday: Ashford appeared with a colleague and they dug a trench, after erecting a plastic sheet to deflect the drizzle. Then they discovered that the wall they built before was falling down through lack of a proper foundation, which at the time they said was not necessary. They then presented a tremendous estimate for the whole job. I said provided you start and keep going. We will see.
October 29 Friday (London): There was no Ashford. Perhaps I should not have mentioned that I was going away today. Fred Brown next door suggested to me that the only person Ashford was afraid of was his wife. So I telephoned her and described the scene of desolation. “Oh – he’s in and out all the time,” she said in a tone which contained an element of tolerant exasperation. I went to London and saw the usual people.
October 30 Saturday: I was in the office during the day and went to Hammersmith with Gerry Curran in the evening. We did well. The demonstration last Sunday was boosted in the “Irish Post” and our sales were the best for several years.
October 31 Sunday: We had a Standing Committee in the morning. I felt just a trifle uneasy about Pat Bond. He is liable to be worried over how he appears to people and I am a little afraid he is forced into commitments to Irene Brennan, who is a calculating bitch, too cute for the honest Pat. Her scheme is to start “Better Life for All” solidarity committees throughout the country. I am aware of the opportunist significance of that, which links with other things. Jane Tate has to go into hospital for a “check up”. I trust it is not serious. Cathal told me on the phone that Finula [ie. the eldest daughter of his friend Cathal MacLiam in Dublin] is coming to London. He is not pleased.
November 1 Monday (Liverpool): I went into the office for a few minutes and then came back to Liverpool. There was a letter saying that Dorothy Greaves was coming for next weekend. Ashford and his mate were there and there was more work going on.
November 2 Tuesday: At last the contract came from Michael Mullen. It is acceptable, but I sent it to the Society of Authors and wrote to tell him so. Kader [ie. Kader Asmal] had messed about with it a bit more, but I have a suspicion that he does not know what he is doing. A solicitor would have been best.
November 3 Wednesday: The work continues and I may have Mrs Ashford to thank, or the colleague Ashford has brought in. The young fellow, described by his father-in-law as a “bad ‘un”, has reappeared and was seen bringing car-load after car-load of furniture and fittings. So the house must have been emptied before. I wonder if the old man will leave now.
November 4 Thursday: Everything has started going wrong. A strip-light failed and I had to buy a new one. The fan-heater failed. Ashford piled blocks on the gooseberry bushes and let the door swing on to an electric fire which burned the paint. Otherwise work proceeded.
November 5 Friday: The wall was half built by the end of today. In the evening Dorothy Greaves arrived and talked and talked. I suppose she is much on her own. So I let her go on and drank whiskey while she did it.
November 6 Saturday: There was not much done. Indeed I don’t know how the time slips away these past few years without any result. Not that I have not been doing plenty of thinking as to the stand I propose to take as soon as I am in a position to take it, which is a time that is drawing nearer. Dorothy told me that Harley’s daughter Rosemary’s name is Behan. But the husband does not apparently practise. The boy M. Greaves has turned out all right. He will be near 30 and married a couple of years ago. Susan is separated from her husband, living on social security, running a car, and rapidly deteriorating in every way. Alison is boozing her way across the continent. I spoke to Maeve Lawlor on the phone and she says Jane Tate is all right. But I must ask herself.
November 7 Sunday: I did some work on O’Casey while Dorothy Greaves was out. Re-reading what I had written, I thought it was not too bad. Certainly I have stood the subject on its feet.
November 8 Monday: Dorothy Greaves went away early and I could hardly say I was sorry. She has grown more garrulous. But of course she must be well into the seventies and shows it now. There is never a moment’s quiet. I got on with some work on the ITGWU history, as Ashford built the wall.
November 9 Tuesday: The side wall being complete, Ashford and his colleague built half the back one. Of course they are messers, like everybody else in the building industry, if indeed “industry” is the word for these jobbing operations. It is good that the weather, though wet, is not so cold.
November 10 Wednesday: The back wall is all but complete. The weather has held and there has as yet been no frost. The Tropaeolums are unaffected, with perfect flowers, the latest just a little small. There is coriander in flower, borage, roses, pyrethrum and marigolds. Ashford and his colleague have tipped broken wood on the gooseberries and broken the fence and ruined the loganberries. It is bad when you can’t get them and as bad when you can.
November 11 Thursday: The builders finished today. They had to be paid in cash. “Mind, we’re not fiddling anybody – it’s so as to avoid VAT.” I noticed that a perfectly good door had been moved out of the garage and put by their van. “What’s that door doing there?” I asked. “Oh,” said Ashford, “we’re going to put it back.” I noticed a wooden shutter next to it and I must check if that has done a disappearing trick. However, I have the job done – at top rates and great inconvenience. And then at night I found a door they had adjusted would no longer lock. I rang Ashford and gave his wife the details. According to Brown she is the only person who can tame Ashford. The trick worked, for he came in the evening.
November 12 Friday (London): I checked and found the shutter was gone. But it is not worth the delay, so I came on to London in the afternoon.
November 13 Saturday: I went to Chelmsford in the afternoon to address the Essex Federation of Trades Councils. The meeting was not well attended but was useful. The delegate from Stan Newens’s constituency [ie. Bethnal Green, London] said her council was walking in the Women’s Peace Parade on the 28th, and they had also “twinned” with Craigavon. One of the platform party was moved to warn at this. But when I got back to London I found it was one of the things that Irene Brennan and her friends were pushing – it will flood Unionism through the British Labour movement. But there is no limit to their opportunism, which indeed they consider the height of enlightenment.
November 14 Sunday: I heard that the Connolly Association resolution was passed at “Liberation“[ie. the former Movement for Colonial Freedom, to which the Connolly Association was affiliated],which was good as it at least mentioned a united Ireland. The CDU nonsense was withdrawn [presumably a motion from the Labour Party-based Campaign for Democracy in Ulster]. But the Fulham Labour Party did not attend to move the one against the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The emergency resolution on the women’s peace movement was rejected on Charlie Cunningham’s urging and Newens then dissociated himself from the rejection [ie. Stan Newens MP]. It is possible that he is behind the moves in Essex. He is, I think, honest enough but a dreadful silly.
November 15 Monday: I was in the office most of the day and worked on the paper. Jane Tate, who was ill, seems to be better.
November 16 Tuesday: I had a note from Betty Reid and phoned her. She is sending some East Germans to see me.
November 17 Wednesday: I was in the office again on the paper, and in the evening at the Central London branch. Charlie’s father died a couple of months ago and now his mother has taken a turn for the worse and is constantly talking of gong back to Spain, when she is not fit to move.
November 18 Thursday: The East Germans came. They have been studying the English scene and say they are students of diplomacy. C’est eux qui le disent [So they say]. There was a curious event tonight. Last night Charlie Cunningham read out an invitation from the MP O’Halloran to meet members of the committee at the House of Commons. But when they got there O’Halloran refused to see them, and Charlie tried to blarney him while the others were waiting. Partly this was Charlie’s nonsense. Everyone knows O’Halloran is illiterate. The East German diplomats asked why Ireland was not represented in East Germany by her “ally”, Britain!
November 19 Friday: I have finished the paper and am dealing with odds and ends. I went up to Colindale in the afternoon.
November 20 Saturday: This was a day of disturbance and interruptions. There is some tension between Pat O’Donohue and everybody else because of his bad manners. He insulted Jane Tate this afternoon. Eddie Cowman says Brian Crowley told him he gave up the bookshop because of Pat’s behaviour. And now Toni Curran has it. I was with Gerry Curran in Hammersmith in the evening.
November 21 Sunday (Liverpool): I went to Birmingham, where we held the Executive Committee. There was nobody from Oxford, where I fear some supposed friends of ours have been busy. Nor was Peter Mulligan there, or John Hoffman. So it was all London, Birmingham and Newcastle. Not that all is well in Birmingham, though I cannot forbear a smile. It seems that in June or July Irene Brennan called to Birmingham and in the usual secretive intriguing way avoided Mark Clinton and went to see Sean Kenny, to ask if the CA would support the “Better Life for All” conference that she wanted in Birmingham. Kenny, always ready to be the “big fellow”, said “yes”. But the CA was never approached. Presumably it was taken for granted. She got in touch with her sister, a somewhat similar specimen of humanity, but even duller and more doctrinaire. She has indeed left the Labour Party and joined Irene Brennan in the CP. Why not? Get up beside the driver! The conference had to be postponed three weeks through lack of support, and then Frank Watters had to do all the work. But the cautious man put Mary Brennan’s name on everything. And the policy would make a cat laugh! It is really Andy Barr who is back in control, and what his demand amounts to is that the English worker shall foot the bill for partition, so that the Northern Ireland worker, or at least the Protestants if not the Catholics, shall lose nothing by it. In my view the bill is so enormous that the whole thing is fantastic. A few years ago I calculated £1000,000,000 was needed. It must be £10,000,000,000 now. They can believe in this fantasy because they really only want to have something to say! They never look at the figures and translate them into terms of political support. I came on to Liverpool in the evening.
November 22 Monday: I went to Ripley but they put me off till tomorrow. I got through the day without much seen for it. The Tropaeolums are as healthy as I ever saw them so late. There has only been a slight touch of frost. And there is borage out.
November 23 Tuesday: I went to Ripley and read the proofs. I was to have gone to Dublin but telephoned Tony Coughlan to postpone it until Wednesday. There were two articles in the “Morning Star” about Northern Ireland by Irene Brennan. The word Partition was not mentioned once.
November 24. Wednesday: I remained in Liverpool and will go to Dublin tomorrow. I got precious little done. There was a letter from Daltún O Ceallaigh saying he would leave me a memorandum. The Society of Authors suggested the possibility of agreeing on an arbitrator if there should be any doubt about the interpretation of our agreement. I have not yet signed. My demand was for £4000 a year. On Asmal’s advice Michael Mullen has mentioned £8000. But if £8,000 is paid in a single tax year I am liable to lose out.
There was a letter from a firm called Johnson saying that they had a cheque from me for £8.10 in payment for hire of a skip and giving many reasons why they had to charge £12.10. Now I thought over how to involve Ashford and serve him right for all his tricks. I wrote back that I was aware of no contractual relation with him. Ashford hired the skip. I gave him a cheque because he was short of ready cash. I disclaimed liability, but if there was a genuine mistake they must see Ashford before I would entertain anything. I could have simply said I am not liable. But I’ll willingly spend £4 to have Ashford well annoyed. It is £4 worth of good divilment.
November 25 Thursday (Dublin): I set off by the 12.08 and went to Chester and Caergybi [ie. Holyhead]. There the inquisition was standing as usual, but it was not at that wretched car ferry terminal. A tall burly plain clothes man stood smiling as the passengers filed past. He was obviously a Welshman and I presumed he would be free of the viciousness of the English, and I think I was right. Two young officers wanted to examine my luggage. I had deliberately put in a book in the Italian language to see what would happen. All was well until they spotted the mysterious volume. “What’s that?” asked the girl. “Gaelic,” said the man. “No it’s not gaelic,” said I. “Oh of course not,” says the girl, “Spanish.” “No, French,” says the boy. So I told them what it was and left them embarrassed, though the trick was really intended for the man who thought O’Casey was alive. I haven’t finished with him yet, either, despite the fool reply I had from the Home Office.
I was met by Tony Coughlan and we went to a Wolfe Tone Society meeting addressed by Anthony Cronin [poet and critic], who reminded me we had met at Leslie Daiken’s years ago – the evening at Trinity Court when Cora Hughes’s brother and Flann Campbell were present [Cora Hughes had been George Gilmore’s fiancé, but died of TB in 1939/40]. There were also Cathal MacLiam, Eoin O Murchú’s wife, who uses her maiden name that I can’t remember but think is Sheehan, Joy Rudd, and quite a few more, including Uinseann MacEoin [1920-2007, Dublin architect, author of the book “Survivors” (1980) and other works; depositor in the Military History archives of some hundred audio records of interviews with War of Independence veterans and others. The Dublin Wolfe Tone Society met for years at his home in 20 Marlborough Road, Dublin 4].
November 26 Friday: I did not get much done today. Daltún O Ceallaigh is in Geneva on some talking occasion, and I am sure he is bored. I went down to look at the tablet commemorating Cahill, the date of which I had lost [Frank Cahill, a schoolteacher friend of Sean O’Casey’s].
November 27 Saturday: I called in to see Mairin Johnston. The Workers’ Music Association told me that Shields’s words to “O ró, ‘sé do bheatha abhaile” did not fit the music. Mairin lent me a tonic sol-fa book of songs which Tony Coughlan made a photostat from. Little Aileen is 11, and a bright wee lassie with little respect for Roy. She looks the image of Michael O’Leary [whose daughter by Mairin Johnston she was]. She is studying music! Una Johnston came. She was 20 years old last Tuesday. Fergus seems the least stable. He must be about 17 and his hair falls all around his shoulders. Of course Roy has turned him into a “social rebel”. The girls have Mairin to model themselves on. But I think he’ll make the shore.
I saw Sean Nolan in the afternoon. He looks well enough despite the coronary thrombosis that laid him up recently. He told me he thought the CPGB-SF (Officials) link-up was continuing, at any rate in London. I had a drink with Michael O’Riordan, though for him it was lemonade. While in Moscow he had his physical condition medically examined and came out of the consulting room more frightened than he went in. They told him of five damaging conditions, including an inactive stomach ulcer, and told him he must not drink. I think he is worried. And to make matters worse Betty Sinclair has gone completely on the booze and is the nearest thing to an “alcoholic”, who wants whiskey in the morning. And no wonder, cutting herself off from everybody in foreign parts [She had gone to work for the “World Marxist Review” in Prague following her retirement from the secretaryship of the Belfast Trades Council].
He told me of the discussions. Apparently only Jack Woddis and Irene Brennan turned up, and it was they postponed it. They came to no conclusion but proposed a “tripartite” meeting of Michael O’ Riordan, Woddis and myself. “But I’m afraid we’ll have to put up with Irene Brennan too,” said he. He told me that when they met they complained about the inviting of Tomás MacGiolla and other things. Irene Brennan disclaimed responsibility and said that was a matter for the International Department (So she is a small-time cheat). Woddis denied this. Refusing to come the gentleman, he declared that he knew nothing about it, and was compelled to offer O’Riordan some kind of apology. He then took up the question of dual membership with Sinn Fein (Officials) and Clann na hEireann in Britain, and while not venturing to advise the CPGB pointed out the disadvantages of this. Here I imagine the ground was stonier. Michael told me that he had thought that Irene Brennan had passed on his confidential circular to Sinn Fein (Officials), but now he knew otherwise. His precautions to prevent her from getting a copy had worked. Instead an Official Sinn Fein member of some leading committee of the Italian party had sent it to them. And Maurice Goldring, who is now on the Central Committee of the CPF [French Communist Party], told him that he had seen one of their youngsters selling the “Irish People” outside a factory in Paris. Sean Nolan told me that the funds with which Official Sinn Fein are richly supplied are provided by the “military wing”. I said nothing as to whether I would be prepared to participate in the “tripartite” meeting, to which Irene Brennan is seemingly to be attached as an aroma. Michael O’Riordan said that they had met Official Sinn Fein but had not had much success. He envisaged a period of strained relations.
November 28 Sunday: There was a bus strike, so Tony Coughlan and I walked to Rathmines to have lunch with Cathal and Helga. She is an amazing woman. The Irish Sovereignty Movement have a “sale of work” next Saturday. Helga bought cloth and made a dozen aprons, and wood, and made a half dozen coat hangers, or cap hangers.
The buses started running again later and Noel Harris called when we got back. He expressed concern at the state of the CPGB, which he said was likely to split. I told him I thought it unlikely. It is not the usual form of things in Britain. They would surely not be that mad. He said there was a witch-hunt against all who supported the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, and that some young people were determined to get Ramelson out of the way, and support wage restraint in order not to be isolated – one presumes “isolation” means losing their Trade Union positions. Now Noel Harris is also suffering from ill-health. I forgot what is on him. He is tons overweight, like Michael O’Riordan, who has really gone to look flabby. Who is coming along? Tom Redmond has made himself look like a ghost with excess of work (inefficiently done). Sean Redmond is more and more concentrating on Trade Union affairs. Fergal Costello, who is editor of the paper [ie. the CPI monthly, “The Irish Socialist”], is also very taken up with Trade Union affairs, and from some proofs Mairin Johnston showed me of Eoin O Murchú’s writing, I would think he is in danger of wrapping himself in the green flag and going up in a sunburst. Not but that he’s not a good lad all the same.
Noel Harris told me that he had some furniture removal clerks on strike. One day a phone call came. His secretary told him that there was a Mr O Dálaigh on the phone. “Ask him what he wants.” “A trade union matter.” He left him holding on for ten minutes, then remembered him. It was the ex-President [ie. Mr Cearbhall O Dálaigh, who had resigned as President of Ireland over what he regarded as lack of Government support], asking that the picket should be lifted so as to make possible for his furniture to be removed from Aras an Uachtaráin. Noel apologised for keeping him waiting. “By no means,” said O’Dálaigh, “I’m only an ordinary citizen and you’re a busy man.”
Regarding Noel Harris’s complaint, I recall I read a letter on the “Morning Star” by young Pat Devine, arguing for support of the “social contract” – whatever that may be.
November 29 Monday: There is a “work to rule” on the buses, but I managed to get a 14A. It was full of tinkers’ children who sang at the top of their voices into town. At Churchtown a dog leapt aboard and ran barking between the standing passengers’ feet until it was finally shooed off. Tony Coughlan and I had lunch with George Gilmore. He is a little better now and prepared to make a trip to London [ie. to speak to the Connolly Association]. He got £1,700 in compensation for his accident. The woman who ran into him admitted liability. Peadar O’Donnell is back from Westmeath and living in a flat near where Desmond Ryan used to live. He is very old and frail. He must be about 84.
I had been advised by Gabriel Fallon to see Seamus de Burca, the theatrical costumer, and I called in to see him. He is writing a history of the Queen’s Theatre and is the nephew of Peadar Kearney [author of the Irish national anthem]. As to that, I bought a copy of the “Soldier’s Song” for the Workers’ Music Association, only to find that there were two notes wrong, and harmony that was woeful. When I went to see “Eugene Onegin” with Alisoun Morton on Saturday I listened carefully and was quite sure the score was wrong, and incidentally noticed an Italian sixth following the chromatic mediant chord, and consequently the omission of a passing note. I went to the National Library and found that the version I had bought at Walton’s was used until 1942, when a Bachelor of Music arranged and undoubtedly improved the song. Inadvertently at the opera a shadowy figure in one of the boxes was applauded by those who could see him whenever he appeared. He looked like O Dálaigh.
November 30 Tuesday: I went to the National Library and found the obituary of Frank Cahill. He turned Free State and became a TD. I met Daltún O Ceallaigh and we went to Liberty Hall and met Pat McKenna and Tony Hughes and saw the unholy mess in the cellars, with files and documents tipped all over the place [These were the union records]. I got a few documents of some use. I then went to Cathal’s [ie. Cathal MacLiam’s house at 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines] – and now I found I have lost a notebook, the first time it ever happened.
Later I rang Gerry Curran who told me 200-300 papers were sold on Saturday at the “Peace” march. There were virtually no Irish on the parade, though some assert that they descried a lonely Clann na hEireann banner with next to nobody behind it. But unfortunately Jane Tate had her handbag and £30 stolen, having for the first time ever held it under her arm. They thought that at most 10,000 were present and the entire spectacle was ludicrous, with George Smith’s protesting about the hymn-singing and the “Irish eyes are smiling”.
Tony Coughlan says he is having the busiest time of his life. He is getting involved in too much work, in my opinion, and his imagination and flexibility are becoming impaired. Like Pat Bond he is not an original thinker, and indeed he resembles Pat considerably, but there is no doubt that change which is essential to keeping the intellect supple is being denied him. I hope he sees this some time.
December 1 Wednesday: I waited half an hour in the icy cold at Dundrum. A taxi-driver drew up. “Twenty pence to town! Who’ll come?” Nobody stirred. Then a girl got in, and I got in, and a huge countryman got in the front left seat blocking out the houses. The driver tried to get a fifth. “The buses have stopped. There will not be another. You will see.” But no fifth volunteered. A moment later a 48 appeared, then a 44, but going the wrong way. The driver spoke with a foreign accent. He was a Czech.
“Did I ever see you at Lisdoonvarna?” asked the countryman of the girl.
“You did not,” she replied genteelly.
“Well somewhere down there.”
“I’ve been to Kilrush, but you didn’t see me there.” She disclosed she was from Tipperary but went to school at Wesley College.
The Clareman offered cigarettes, which the three of us declined, but he lit up himself.
“That will do you a lot of poison,” said the driver, “very bad. Many diseases, stomach ulcers, cancer, lung cancer – everything.” He then disclosed that “town” meant only Stephen’s Green.
“Oh indeed,” said the Clareman, “I want the bridge. You’re a clever man.”
“No,” said the driver. “I am a very stupid man, or I would not drive a taxi. Now would you believe that?”
“I would not,” said the countryman shortly. “Is the cab your own?”
“You’re thinking I’ve got a cab and must be all right. There is no business. I have to leave my country. The Russians invade it. I lose everything, everything! And now, if my daughter did not work I would starve. Starve!”
However he enabled me to keep my appointment with Tony Coughlan.
The bus to Rathmines was crowded, and mustn’t a lunatic with a helmet and a red and white staff come on, singing songs and pretending to collect money. I saw Cathal and Helga, then went to Micheál O Loingsigh’s late [Micheál O Loingsigh lived on Barton Road East, Dundrum, near the homes of Anthony Coughlan, Noel Harris and Kader Asmal, each of whom by coincidence lived in the same area].
December 2 Thursday: I spent the day in the National Library – or as much of the day as the bus chaos will leave free.
December 3 Friday: I saw Mairin Johnston about songs. Tony Coughlan could not translate the “O ró,’sé do bheatha abhaile,” and said it was very peculiar Irish. I therefore decided to take it to Snoddy [ie. Pádraig O Snodaigh at the National Museum in Kildare Street]
December 4 Saturday: I went into town around 2.30, did some shopping and then went to Tony Coughlan’s “Sale of Work“[ie. for the Irish Sovereignty Movement]. They made £400. Mrs Frank Edwards [ie. Mrs “Bobby” Edwards] was there, and said Frank was 69 and surprised at feeling his age. I said he had got us the Embassy there, so could afford to go easy [Frank Edwards had helped campaign for the establishment of a USSR Embassy in Ireland through the Ireland-USSR Friendship Society]. It was this night I went to the opera, though I entered it up for last Tuesday. There was no opportunity to write till some days after these events. A son-in-law of Seamus Treacy, a Seamus Deane, drove me with Alisoun Morton to Rathmines. Deane lectures at UCD and has a reputation as a poet.
December 5 Sunday: I spent all day listing references from “Irish Historical Studies”, which Tony Coughlan had kindly brought out from TCD. Gradually the weather got gloomier and wilder, and in the early evening, adventuring out for 15 minutes to buy some wine, I was soaked in an appalling rainstorm, and Tony Coughlan prophesied the catching of a severe cold.
December 6 Monday: As if to make Tony Coughlan’s prophecy good, I felt a cold coming on. But despite the sniffling and sneezing I read a thesis at Belfield [ie. at University College Dublin].
December 7 Tuesday: I went to Liberty Hall and had another look at the basement with a man called Reynolds, an old ITGWU member who as a boy of 12 saw the famous baton charge. He says Larkin was dressed as a priest and this way got into the Imperial Hotel. I had another discussion with Tony Hughes. I saw O Snodaigh at the National Museum. He says “O, ró” is a Jacobite song, and written in 17th century Irish. I said I thought the music possibly much older. I saw Michael O’Riordan for a few minutes. O Snodaigh told me that he is negotiating with a Belfast pharmacist who wants £1,500 for the letters James Connolly sent to Winifrid Carney. He says George MacBride was living in Andersonstown and, growing afraid for their safety, disposed of them to this man. I told him that to the best of my recollection when I visited MacBride to read his file of the “Sean Van Vocht” he was living somewhere near Serpentine Road and was so strong a Protestant that he felt that he was being snubbed by his wife’s associates on religious grounds when he visited Dublin. He said the letters show that Connolly knew about the Rising before Xmas 1915. But we will see, that is if he gets them. Certainly MacBride told me nothing about the letters and I told O Snodaigh that it was unlike him to allow anybody to see anything, let alone part with it. Once when Jack Bennett was slow in sending me a book he had promised the loan of, and I reminded him, he replied, “I don’t want you to think I am MacBriding my books.” I suggested to O Snodaigh that he should contact Jack, who will know if MacBride moved, and might guess whether the pharmacist is in fact entitled to sell the letters.
I went to 24 Belgrave Road [ie. Cathal and Helga MacLiam’s house] and met Daltún O Ceallaigh. He told me of some of the internal politics of the ITGWU, which I hope to keep totally clear of. There is no doubt he works too hard and makes himself cheap. Both Helga and I told him next time he is kept at the office all evening for three nights running, to go sick for a week. I brought in a bottle of whiskey which Cathal and I demolished, Daltún liking wine.
December 8 Wednesday: I was in the National Library a while, passed the time of day with Alf MacLaughlin, and was told by the woman who does the microfilms that Sam Levenson is on tour. I still have a cold but must leave tomorrow.
December 9 Thursday (Liverpool): I caught the miserable car ferry at 9 am. and came to Liverpool via Caergybi and Chester. There was no appreciable security check, as there is never on the Irish side.
December 10 Friday: I had intended to go to London today but did not feel up to it. I did not do much.
December 11 Saturday (London): I caught the 12.04 train and when I reached the office they were all at the Jumble Sale, whither I followed them. The usual people were there – Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Eddie Cowman, Leo Clendening and Elsie O’Dowling. But Michael Ryan did not show up. I was in Hammersmith with Charlie.
December 12 Sunday: I got rid of a mass of correspondence and was out with Michael Ryan in Hammersmith in the evening.
December 13 Monday (Liverpool): I saw Stella Bond in the office and left on the 2.50 train from Euston. Finances have improved. Pat Bond has made £600 on calendars and hopes to make £200 on a draw. To our surprise Finula walked in at about 11 am. She is still the wee girl. She has a job in an office but wants to leave as they will only give her three days for Christmas and she wants to go home. So she has two interviews this afternoon. She has no proper lodgings but has moved into Islington into what she describes as a “squat”. She says that Egon is the only one who writes to her, but admits that she does not write herself, but rings up, no doubt as Stella Bond said from experience of her own daughter’s trip to Spain, reversing the charge. I was not too pleased to learn of the “squat” but thought on balance that her family upbringing and a certain innate sense of propriety, temporarily overlaid by the absurd romanticism that wants to “get more out of life than there is in it”, would protect her from most mischance. And if it won’t, what can I do? I think she is just beginning to appreciate the extreme coldness of the untempered world, and perhaps next year she’ll be at Trinity College “like everybody else”. For all her superior sophistication she contrasts ill with Egon and Conor who, the latter especially, have the air of successful men!
The garden has not survived as in the last few years with their very mild Decembers. The Tropaeolums were flat when I returned from Dublin. There must have been air frost, for quite high things were nipped. But there is fresh chervil, the parsnips I lifted are in excellent shape, and the sprouts are promising. I cut a couple of cabbages too. The marigolds that did not flower because of delayed growth resulting from drought, are as fresh as the proverbial daisy. The calabrese is still eatable but the purple-sprouting broccoli has not sprouted.
December 14 Tuesday: I did not get much done. I cleared up in the house, and did a little in the garden, clearing away some of the mess made by Ashford and his colleagues.
December 15 Wednesday: It rained all day, and a miserable raw day it was. I may be mistaken however, but I do not think it betokens an exceptionally hard winter. It seems to lack the determination, if I could ascribe such to it. I wrote an article for Dardis Clarke and sent it off, and prepared a memorandum for Michael Mullen on the ITGWU archive [He recommended that the Union records should be given to the National Library, which was duly done].
In the evening Jane Tate telephoned me. She had been speaking with the Director of the Mary Ward Centre and had learned from him that affiliation to them costs nothing, but that they are only interested in education, not in being a “pressure group”. I told her that I thought it would be taking advantage of them if we were to affiliate, and we might regret it later. We should confine our connection to purely educational things and pay our way.
December 16 Thursday: There was nothing much today. I got a certain amount of writing done.
December 17 Friday: Today was the same. I started work on the paper, but the problem is getting in the copy.
December 18 Saturday: Much the same. But a financial problem rears its head. On doing my accounts I found I was overdrawn by £85. This is because I am owed £155 salary and £84 expenses by the paper, and £73 by the ITGWU, and have not received the promised fee of £250 from the WMA. I decided to cut out alcohol (except occasionally) until all is well and reminded Toni Curran to send a cheque.
December 19 Sunday: Another day spent in literary seclusion, and precious little seen for it. I have a filthy cold and the weather is atrocious.
December 20 Monday: The annual nonsense is in full swing, the shops crammed with rubbish and people buying it. I rang Toni Curran, who promised to send the cheque. But I had an odd feeling of distrust.
December 21 Tuesday: A letter from Dardis Clarke thanked me for the article, so that is on its way. No cheque from Toni Curran. I have over £4,000 accessible, but do not know whether to make a withdrawal or not. I can see myself impoverished over the holiday. Not that I have any desire to signalise it by any special expenditure, but it is well to have a bottle of whiskey for anybody who came. No word from Alice Taylor or Bertha. I wonder are they still alive.
December 22 Wednesday: A card came from Alice Taylor. She does not sound too well. Her daughter Valerie seems to be looking after her. Perhaps she has no sympathy to spare for Bertha, for she doesn’t mention her. Of course she can’t be far off 88. Again I tackled Toni Curran. She said the paper had been doing very badly and we had had to tie up so much money paying for badges. I immediately concluded that she was trying to pay me out for supporting Jane Tate, who had insisted on the paying of an account to which she had pledged herself before the badges account was taken over by Brian Crowley. Pat O’Donohue has had a promotion and considers himself a very great businessman. I was shocked at the authoritarian tone of a letter he sent to the Women’s Assembly [The National Assembly of Women was a sub-tenant of the Connolly Association’s at 283 Grays Inn Rd.] notifying them of an increase in rent. But Jane Tate was angry when two bank statements came in, one showing a credit balance of £900, the other £300. She naturally thought her account would be paid. Today Toni Curran was in the office and promised to post a cheque today, and also wire £20. If I have that I will not need to withdraw from the Building Society. And still I’ll be surprised if I see it.
December 23 Thursday: The wire did not arrive, or the letter. Let us say charitably the second was held up in the post. I decided I had enough cash to see me through, so did not ring again, but got on with the paper.
December 24 Friday: Again no wire or letter. And again I took no action. Looking at the general operations of Toni Curran and Pat O’Donohue I began to suspect something deeper. Her move in on the bookshop, and the effort to freeze out Maeve Lawlor, noticed by everybody, might betoken a plan under which somebody might have a job in a business, especially when her children are growing up. I know Brian Crowley had hopes of establishing his wife in it, and I think decided there was too much work when he concluded this was not likely to happen. As I want to retire out of it, people will be reflecting on the succession. I chuckled to myself about all this.
December 25 Saturday: The only advantage of this season is its quietness, and I got quite a deal of writing done.
December 26 Sunday: Another day spent writing. The weather is still cold. There was solid ice on top of a bucket in the garden, and though the grass thawed, this did not. I did some more writing.
December 27 Monday: Another day spent in the same way, no post, no papers, nothing but nonsense on the radio – you would think the world had stopped going round. So I just got on with my work.
December 28 Tuesday: The weather is still generally wretched – and I do not remember when we last had solid frost; quite a few years.
December 29 Wednesday: The world woke up for a couple of days at any rate. The cheque arrived from Toni Curran, £20 short. I rang her and she told me she had intended to wire it but didn’t. I made no reproach since I think I know her little game, which I don’t propose to waste time promoting or thwarting.
December 30 Thursday: I got the last copy off to the printer as Tony Coughlan’s arrived yesterday. I wrote to the American in Philadelphia who had amused Skelly by addressing me as Dr Greaves. I began the letter, “Non doctor sed semper doctus”.
December 31 Friday: I got some work done, and at the end of the day saw 1976 out with a few swigs of whiskey. It was a year when nothing went actually wrong, but everything was bloody lousy.
January 1st Sunday: I revised the first two chapters of “O’Casey”. But I think I am not significantly in sympathy with the man to enjoy writing about him. I think he did more harm to the outlook of the English socialists than anybody else. My purpose is to try to undo that harm. But I am afraid I no longer have much confidence in English socialists.
The weather was wet and miserable. But it is cold weather out of the North, such as we never got in my young days, less settled than the vicious stuff that comes from the East. I cut red cabbage and kohlrabi. I have no swedes, but the parsnips have been a success. I thought the cauliflowers had been killed by the frost, but they haven’t.
January 2 Sunday: I spent most of the day writing. It was cold and frosty and there was certainly no attraction in doing anything else. The sky was clearer than I remember it since that astonishing cold spell in January 1940. But it had not the same intensity. I left a gas cooker on all night and a slight drip from the tap.
January 3 Monday: Everywhere was white with hoar frost, a sign of rain, and sure enough though no rain came, cloud did and there was a slight thaw. I got more writing done.
January 4 Tuesday (London): I left for Ripley in heavy rain, and though there was snow on the spur of the Pennines that rose to Stoke-on- Trent, there was none at Derby, and not much at Ripley.
The paper went through reasonably successfully. I got to London at 8 pm. and found Charlie Cunningham, and soon Eddie Cowman and Michael Ryan and Jane Tate arrived and we went for a drink.
January 5 Wednesday: I was in the office during the day. The Central London branch meeting was addressed by Liam Foley, who I imagine fancies himself as a future important figure in the Irish community. But he is genuinely interested in the language and literature. He spent four years studying architecture, but now works in the post office. Charlie Cunningham told him that there was to be a new Ambassador, and he said he was pleased because the present one was trying to persuade the Irish Club [ie. in Eaton Square, London] to return to its old policy of exclusiveness.
January 6 Thursday: I went down to the “Morning Star” to look at the cuttings on O’Casey that are in the Library. Apparently Claire Madden retired six years ago! The woman there was very amiable and I was very pleased with the help I got. They did not come out today, because of a dispute over New Year’s pay. Stella Bond and others all complain that the “Morning Star” is dull, and I think it is. They manage to remain sectish while they are still timid. There are no good writers. Everything could have been written by a committee. It is a pity. But there you are. They do, I suppose, what they are capable of.
In the evening (without previous announcement) Pat O’Donohue, Toni Curran and Pat’s wee girl (a pleasant youngster) came in to take stock. The faces of the first two were as long as Lurgan spades, and it was obvious something was biting them. But I chose to be pleasant and affect not to notice it. Gerry Curran said she [ie. Pat O’Donohue’s girl-friend, Grace, whom he married shortly thereafter] would have joined on Tuesday but Toni Curran persuaded him I would not be back. I hope Gerry has not been saying anything foolish. He is capable of saying things that are completely ridiculous. But the really odd thing is the circulation of this triumvirate, Toni Curran, Pat O’Donohue and the wee girl!
January 7 Friday: I was in the office early and was full of the problem of the failure of the paper to arrive, when the telephone rang. It was St Charles Hospital on the line [a hospital in Ladbroke Grove, West London]. They told me that Charlie Cunningham had been operated on for appendicitis this morning and that he was asleep and could be visited over the weekend. In the evening Michael Ryan arrived. He had been to see him and he seemed all right. I sent out a circular informing members. Of course there is chaos in the paper sales. I circularised Andy Barr, Michael O’Riordan, John Hoffman, Barry Riordan and Mark Clinton – about thirty in all.
January 8 Saturday: I was in the office as usual, and in the afternoon called out to see Charlie. He was very drowsy but was otherwise all right.
January 9 Sunday: The Standing Committee was held this morning. Gerry Curran told me last night that there was much ill-feeling on the part of Pat O’Donohue and Toni Curran, who have constructed a little world of their own. But Pat did not arrive and Toni decided not to fire any shots. Mark Clinton telephoned saying he wanted to see me.
January 10. Monday (Liverpool): I went into the office to see Stella Bond for a few minutes, then went to Birmingham where I met Mark Clinton. He told me that things were pretty flat at the conference organised by Frank Watters for Mary Brennan. Quite a few came but Mark did not go. Irene Brennan had started it but saw Sean Kenny, not Mark. At the conference, which was held in September, they had copies of the July “Irish Democrat”. One of the boys asked where they came from. “Oh, I don’t know,” said Irene Brennan and her sister. “I’ll get some September numbers,” was the reply. “Oh, don’t bother. I don’t agree with the policy of the ‘Irish Democrat’.” They have done very little for the “Better Life for All” campaign.” The conference came to no decision. I then came on to Liverpool.
January 11 Tuesday: I spent part of the day clearing up and part writing.
January 12 Wednesday: Another day spent writing.
January 13 Thursday: Another day spent writing O’Casey. Finances are in a bad way, so I must get the job finished. Filthy snow fell – 3″ deep.
January 14 Friday: Another day on O’Casey. Mercifully the snow melted.
January 15 Saturday: Another day spent writing.
January 16 Sunday: Writing again. I have done an introduction and two chapters and would like to finish a third this week. If there is anything I loathe, it is writing. The research is interesting but writing is sheer drudgery. Nobody enjoys it except when they can’t do it.
January 17 Monday: I spent another day on O’Casey. I am simply getting up in the morning, lighting the fire if it hasn’t stayed in all night after my making it, and then setting down to the job.
January 18 Tuesday: And the same again. No variation.
January 19 Wednesday: Another day spent writing.
January 20 Thursday: Chapter III finished at last. I’m in a mood to go on but now must turn to other things. A letter from Charlie Cunningham expressed great delight at all his visitors. I will of course not tell him that I circularised them. They turned up well. Andy Barr wrote a letter which vastly delighted him. Toni Curran went in, and even Bill Hardy, who took a cooked chicken and vast supplies of booze. He has left hospital and is going to Stevenage to recuperate. His mother has gone back to Spain! Paddy Bond rang up anxious that we should invite Irene Brennan to our “Irish Democrat” conference. I said I will not do it. I regard her as an enemy and nothing is to be gained by trying to placate her. Not that I believe her motive is anything more base than arrogant careerism. Everybody else must stand to attention while she marches on. But she has allied herself with those whom she thinks can “do her good”, and in essence it is the position of the “Orange Communist”. As I feared when I told O’Riordan I doubted the wisdom of it, the amalgamation of the two CPs has put the Northerners in the saddle. They blackmailed us in effect by threatening disunity.
January 21 Friday: Another uneventful day spent writing.
January 22 Saturday: And another still.
January 23 Sunday: Another day writing, plus an hour in the garden, the weather having improved.
January 24 Monday: Another day writing. The third chapter finished.
January 25 Tuesday: Another day writing and also preparing for London tomorrow. I did a review of Yvonne Kapp’s book [author of “Eleanor Marx, a biography”, in two volumes]
January 26 Wednesday (London): I travelled to London, and “travelled” was the word. At Lime Street it was announced that a goods train had been de-railed near Tring, blocking the main line. Then there was a landslide between Nuneaton and Leicester. I had hoped to arrive at the office at 3 pm. It was 7 pm., but nevertheless I saw Pat Bond and had a wee talk. He told me an interesting thing. In his opinion Irene Brennan’s head is swelling and swelling, and she has formed the notion that she may be the first woman general secretary of one of the Western Communist Parties. If that ever happened, and they came to power, this would be the best country in Europe to be getting out of. But the speculation confirms my opinion that careerism is what motivates her. I addressed the Central London branch. There was quite a good turn-out, but Charlie Cunningham is not back yet.
January 27 Thursday: I did some work on the paper. Apart from that there was not much in it.
January 28 Friday: I got precious little done all day. There was one continuous series of interruptions. In the evening we all went to Synge’s “Playboy”, but the actors could scarcely be heard and the play as presented was as pointless as could be. Daltún O Ceallaigh wrote saying the ITGWU has agreed to my financial proposals.
January 29 Saturday: I went on with the paper. In the evening Michael Ryan and I went to Paddington with the paper. The “Provisionals” had caused chaos by letting off bombs, but there was little reaction among the Irish.
January 30 Sunday: I got most of the paper done – very late this month. In the morning we had the Standing Committee. The “Irish Democrat” is losing £150 a month. Toni Curran and Pat O’Donohue have no notion of anything but keep mum until there is a meeting, and then tell the bad results without a single positive proposal. Their manners were slightly better, but not much. In the evening there was the “Irish Democrat” conference but it was badly attended, with only Jane Tate, Michael Ryan, Jim Kelly, Eddie Cowman, Leo Clendening, Gerry Curran, Pat O’Donohue, Pat Bond and a few more. Perhaps Friday’s jaunt killed it. I advanced the suggestion that we need a 40% circulation rise. Gerry Curran says that a doctor has told him he is suffering from blood pressure, whether as well as or instead of “depression”, I don’t know.
January 31 Monday (Bradford): I went into the office in the morning and Stella Bond was there. I was to go to Bradford this evening and remarked that the young man I was to see was named Baruch. “I think,” said Stella, “his father lived in Liverpool. He arrived from Germany in the early thirties with his parents.” In that case I said I knew him. Apparently he married Hilda From. But I thought somebody else married her. He was one of those “cast iron Bolsheviks”, as Jimmy Shields called them, and used to “lay down” the “line” for the YCL, pumping his arm up and down to emphasise his determination [See Vols.1 and 2 of the Journal for coverage of Greaves’s university period in the early 1930s]. I had not much time for him, but anyway was absorbed in University affairs. There was another similar youngster called Bisson, who afterwards, I am told, became quite a tolerable artist. Apparently the Baruch family whom Stella Bond knew in Liverpool moved to Bradford and she knew them in Leeds.
I went straight to Bradford from King’s Cross and discovered speedily enough that Stella was right. And at the meeting there was the father. But I did not recognise him except that he could have been the original Baruch. He was entirely grey, and while hale and hearty enough was a quiet old man. All the drive and energy had disappeared, at least from the surface. About the same time or shortly after that I remember J.L. Jones appearing, now Jack Jones of the TGWU [James Larkin “Jack” Jones, 1913-2009, General Secretary of the TGWU 1968-1978]. He too has turned into a grey simulacrum of what he was, though I am not so sure that he may not have improved.
Now John Baruch, with whom I stayed, told me that when Clann na hEireann stored guns in the party rooms, there was a court case. So Jack Woddis should have known.
He is a nuclear physicist working on cosmic rays and was apparently trained by Peter Trent. He would not be much older than 25 and has a pleasant little child of about six months, who is made a great fuss of.
February 1 Tuesday: There was snow all over Yorkshire, and at Ripley where I read the proofs. Indeed it extended as far west as Alsager, but on the Cheshire plain there was no sign of it. Owing to an engine failure I missed the Lime Street connection and came to Rock Ferry, where it was mild. I read a curious story in the “Times”. A Terence Gallogley doing four years in Wakefield Jail, had been let out to do work as a spot welder. He had been appointed shop steward when he decided to organise the workforce, and the employers sent him back to jail. He was released in December and there is now a court case involving an Industrial Tribunal with which the Home Office refuses to cooperate. Now this will surely be the same Terry Gallogley who was in Nottingham, and a big orator. But thanks to that rat Ken Coates, now well breeched in a University, Gallogley was enticed into Trotskyism, then I heard he was taking drugs, next to that he was in a lunatic asylum, and so to jail. The news item did not say what the offence was. Four years is a fair stretch!
February 2 Wednesday: The weather has turned quite mild again, and I dare say the back of the winter is now broken. I spoke to Jane Tate on the phone and also to Daltún O Ceallaigh. He told me that Michael Mullen had not yet read my memo on the subject of the archives, and he did not believe Clancy had either. But apart from that all was well. My article had been published. Now I have got to reorganise all my operations, and it would seem to me best to coordinate it with the appointment of Eddie Cowman as organiser. The effort should be made to make the paper self-supporting and this I must look into.
February 3 Thursday: I managed to get in a bit of writing, but it is all very slow work. It would be nice to be like some of these people who dash off things without thinking about them. They get as much notice taken of what they say!
February 4 Friday: I went into Birkenhead, and Lo, the third revenant. I saw a book on Tranmere by F.E. Allison. I guessed it was my old schoolteacher, the only one who had any real ability, and the only one I ever had the slightest curiosity to meet again, though that was not much [See Volume 1of the Journal]. I bought it though it was slim and £3. It was the man indeed, and seemingly he is still alive. He has written several books about Liverpool, and how I missed them is a mystery, and was Vice-President of the British Association and President of the Birkenhead Local History Society, that I had never heard of. So some things go on for years, others are swept away in minutes.
February 5 Saturday: Another day spent writing and preparing for the visit to Dublin. I should have gone today. I did a little in the garden.
February 6 Sunday: I spent the day preparing my talk in TCD. The weather is fairly mild again. The winter is as I expected, hard but not consistently so.
February 7 Monday (Dublin): I went to Chester and Caergybi [Holyhead], and Tony Coughlan met me at Dun Laoire with Muriel Saidlear. We went into town, but not to Cathal’s. While Tony Coughlan was buying a drink Muriel told me how much she was in love with Tony in no uncertain terms. She is eating her heart out and should be told one way or the other. As she parted and walked away across O’Connell Street I said to Tony Coughlan, “Why don’t you marry that woman?”
There was never such a session of humming and hawing. Not that this would be hard to understand in a youngster. When I was in my twenties and women were all falling for me, I never liked to be saying “No” anymore that I intended to say “Yes”. So there you are. “There’s nowt so queer as folks.”
Tony Coughlan told me the “Officials” are going from bad to worse. They have mustered their members and completely eliminated everybody else from the Resources Protection Society. And they threaten to do the same with Civil Liberties.
February 8 Tuesday: I spent most of the day reading the Bill O’Brien papers in the National Library. In the evening Tony Coughlan told me that he is arranging for Michael O Riordan to meet Richard Behal, to try and persuade the “Provisionals” to boycott the European elections. I told him he should be careful about having meetings of this kind in his office too often.
February 9 Wednesday: Tony Coughlan told me that Noel Harris was sitting in his office last week when Paddy Devlin came in from Michael Mullen with a suggestion that he break with the ASTMS and merge with the ITGWU. This of course is top secret. I went into Liberty Hall with Daltún O Ceallaigh and saw that the archives had been tidied up. Apparently they are taking my memorandum as unread. I decided to deal with nobody but Daltún O Ceallaigh except when I have to deal with Mullen. Daltún has made some progress with the Connolly books and has duplicated my memorandum. In the evening Pat Bond rang to say he had raised some money. I heard about Carmel Campbell, née Dwyer – how the time goes – apparently she is in Belmullet, alternating between alcoholism and being “dried out”. A daughter is at UCG.
February 10 Thursday: I was in the library all day but saw Cathal briefly in the evening. They had been to Elsie O’Dowling’s cottage at the New Year [near Roundstone, Connemara, a New Year’s expedition in which Cathal MacLiam, Anthony Coughlan, Muriel Saidlear, Una Sheehan and Bebhinn and Conor MacLiam took part].
February 11 Friday: When Tony Coughlan and I went to lunch at the Stag’s Head, who should be there but George Gilmore and a wee girl called Una Sheehan. I had just a slight uneasy feeling about her. She is in the Irish Sovereignty Movement but does not seem to me the sort of person who usually penetrates our circle. Seemingly her sister was a friend of Peadar O’Donnell and she drives George Gilmore about, even went to France with him last year, but fell ill, perhaps feeling bored, and rushed back to Dublin, her sickness in no way mitigating her haste. George told me that his father did the accounts for WP Ryan’s “Irish Peasant” and that just before it was “banned” McCann was going to put big sums into it. He said the Ulster Union movement was started at the instance of Peadar O’Donnell who, deciding that any anti-Partition movement in the North must start with Protestants, circularised members of the PEN club. Bowyer Bell, whom he regards as a CIA agent, no doubt correctly, claims that it was mainly Catholic in his illiterate book. He warned Tony Meade not to let the man into the place, but they all wanted to see their names in print [Cathal Goulding and the “Official” Republicans gave full encouragement to Bowyer Bell as he researched his book “The Secret Army: the IRA”, published 1970]. It seems that Denis Ireland was the main convert, and he of course converted George Musgrove [A leading Connolly Association member in London in the early 1940s], whom it was I think who introduced me first to Denis Ireland during the war [Denis Ireland, 1894-1974, Northern Protestant republican, Senator for Clann na Poblachta in 1948, essayist and political activist].
George Gilmore has the idea that a reconciliation of the warring communities in the North could be achieved in a struggle against the possibility of a Third World War. He bases that on experience of 1914-18. But I think it is not a “starter”.
February 12 Saturday: I saw Sean Nolan, but not Michael O’Riordan. He told me of the projected “Official” take-over of the Civil Liberties. And who should walk in but Asmal, its titular begetter. He was very upset. “Just think! After two years of work!”[Asmal and others had been seeking to establish a civil liberties body in Dublin, which eventually became the Irish Council for Civil Liberties]. I wonder what he would feel like if it was after thirty years! It is strange that Tony Coughlan said that to me independently. Asmal was a little sheepish. He is also not well. They were also discussing Roy Johnston, who has been writing for Carmody’s duplicated sheet. He has been trying to arrange a party at Cathal’s after my meeting on Monday night, though he is in no way connected with the students. I said I did not want it. If the students want to meet me, let it be somewhere that all of them can go to. If they don’t I will not wilt from disappointment. Seemingly Roy is getting ready for another political migration. He has been told not to go to the Resources meeting which is being held today, and there is much speculation. Apparently he openly declares that in his opinion Michael O’Riordan, Sean Nolan etc. are “bloody fools,” but goes on, “But I’m not resigning. Let them expel me!” They should never have taken him back.
I went out to Eoin O Murchú’s place for dinner. His wife, despite some feminist crankery such as keeping her maiden name, is quite a decent wee girl. She told me that when she first came to Ireland she mixed only with the “Officials” and it is a great relief to be mixing with everybody. She told me that the minute she spoke to Irene Brennan she knew she was a “spoilt nun”. She considers her a most objectionable and arrogant woman, and apparently on attending some function in Dublin could hardly let it finish before she was attacking their policy and telling the Irish what to do. Eoin O Murchú drove me back to Dundrum.
February 13 Sunday: I spent the day working on tomorrow’s lecture. [This was a lecture on “Marx and Ireland” which he gave to one of the student societies at TCD. It had been initiated by Helena Sheehan, who was doing her PhD on the philosophy of science at TCD at the time.] The one I prepared would take too long to deliver.
February 14 Monday: I was in the Library but at 7 pm. went to give the lecture in TCD. There was a very good attendance. Helena Sheehan was in the chair, and among those present were Eoin O Murchú, the two O’Rourkes, Jack and Anna Bennett, who wanted me to stay with them, Cathal, Tony, Daltún and Conor, who thought it started at 8 pm. and arrived late, Kevin McCorry – not too friendly as behoves an Official, although he is getting a little disillusioned himself – and about 50 students. The discussion was excellent.
We went to Bowes afterwards [ie. Bowes public house in Fleet Street] and a wee girl introduced herself to me. She was Justin Keating’s daughter Carla and is at TCD – a lovely girl too, very much taking after Loretta. Louis Wine died last August, but Loretta and the mother are keeping the shop going. Carla lives with her grandmother in Rathfarnham. It is believed that Paul O’Higgins may return to Ireland. Apparently Rachel [ie. Mrs O’Higgins] may consent if he becomes Professor of Law at Galway, for which post he has applied [He did become Professor of Law at TCD but returned to England after a few years]. Roy Johnston was there and very annoyed at not getting his party, convinced that we were going to have our own and exclude him. On the way back Daltún O Ceallaigh told me that Tony Coughlan had tape-recorded the lecture and I was very displeased. If Roy Johnston would do anything for publicity (except pay for it), Tony Coughlan would rob a bank to get something else for his archive. We hope no journalist ever burgles his office.
February 15 Tuesday: I saw Sean Nolan again. Apparently Michael O’Riordan is in Cork where his brother is very ill. Also Sean Redmond’s sister, whom old Sean told me last Saturday was better, has committed suicide. The whole family have gone over.
February 16 Wednesday: There was nothing today but reading in the National Library. I have found Bill O’Brien’s diary. I am a little amused at the way the wheel turns and the ironies of life. Bill O’Brien was absolutely determined not to cooperate when I was writing the life of Connolly. Now I am reading his personal diaries to write the history of the ITGWU. He does not come badly out of the early material. Tom Johnson said to me once that O’Brien was uncooperative because he had been “let down so many times”. Willie Gallacher said he was all right when he was “down” in the world, but all wrong when he got “up”.
February 17 Thursday: I was in the Library in the morning, met Daltún O Ceallaigh and Una Sheehan at lunch time, and then went out to see William McMullen, whom I had phoned. I found him greatly aged – after all it must be close on twenty-four years since I last met him in Johnston Mooney and O’Brien’s in Clare Street – and he says he is nearly 90. He walks with a stick but his brain is perfectly clear, though he tells me that the hardening of the arteries affects the brain. I have noted elsewhere the historical material he provided. But there is another thing. When I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and Madge Davison, she told me that Francis Devine had secured a manuscript from William McMullen for the Labour History Society, but that none of the members had seen it. Now McMullen tells me he lent him several manuscripts and has been trying without success to get them back! It is of course part of the “Officials” plan of becoming the “Workers’ Party”. I immediately began to suspect Una Sheehan of possibly being an “Official” agent. She tags after one old man, her sister after another, and Francis Devine looks after William McMullen. When Pat McLaughlin died in Liverpool, the “Officials” were into his house like a flash and all his papers vanished. Now this girl is right in the middle of the lot of us.
I warned Tony Coughlan to be on the watch, and he replied, “I don’t like her, and I don’t know why.” I don’t like her and I do know why. She asks too many questions, and she never expresses a political opinion. And she goes every day to the Stag’s Head – possibly because some of us may be there. But Tony Coughlan offers an alternative. She comes out tonight with Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam]. “I have seen a succession of seven young ladies fall for Cathal over the past seven years.” Let us hope it is no more than that.
February 18 Friday (Liverpool): I went to Dun Laoire, to which place Tony Coughlan accompanied me. On the way I mentioned the tape-recording and he agreed to give it to me if I wanted it. Then on a calm sea to Caergybi [ie. Holyhead] and Chester. When I reached 124 Mount Road I found a request from the Inland Revenue to attend an appeal in March. This is highly inconvenient and I did not know that Fishers were making an appeal. Also, bills!
February 19 Saturday: I came to London on the 4.04. I met Charlie Cunningham and Gerry Curran at Shepherd’s Bush. There have been more explosions with that egregious Toni Curran, and Gerry is of course completely unbalanced. Charlie and I agreed to “take no notice”. I had left her a note in bald terms regretting that she had not told me she was writing to Tom Walsh. Since I have personally promised him books I want to know what the position is. But Toni wrote me a letter in which she complained I was accusing her of “secretiveness” and Heaven knows what. Qui s’excuse, s’accuse. This is all part of the demoralisation of a movement that has met with setbacks and I see no reason why by reacting in the way invited I should add to that malady. The crazy thing is that Toni did not send me the letter. Doubtless she thought better of it. But Gerry, intent on ridding himself of his own frustrations, sent me a photostat of it. Well do I say that I have the sensation of just keeping afloat in a sea of nonsense.
I had a telephone call from Pat Bond. He had been to a school [ie. one organised by the CPGB] at which Jimmy Stewart and Chris Myant spoke and Irene Brennan very much presided. According to Pat Bond, what was said by Jimmy Stewart and Irene Brennan was unobjectionable (He does not probe the content of abstract concepts.) But Myant enraged him by saying, in response to a question about Partition, that it should not be mentioned, for the working class would not take a single step towards anything that was favoured by the “Provisionals”. So all that is necessary is for a fool to let off a bomb off and the English are absolved from all duty. The filthy shits!
February 20 Sunday: I began work on the paper. In the evening Eddie Cowman and Steve Huggett were to sell with me, but the heavens opened so we had a drink. Eddie is by far the brightest young fellow we have had for years, and if he can overcome his educational handicaps he will “do”.
February 21 Monday: I went to the Regent Street Polytechnic where Barbara McLaughlin had arranged for me to speak to the Historical Society. There were students, lecturers and one professor. This is the institution where Irene Brennan preens herself and from which she pontificates about philosophy, of which she knows not the first thing. She was not there. It was a very successful meeting. McLaughlin the bellringer was there. He is a “mature student”, having a year’s rest at public expense. I wonder if this is how they get damned nuisances off the workshop floor. We had a meal with Eamon McLaughlin afterwards and I stayed the night at 64 Cambridge Gardens [ie. in Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, where the McLoughlins lived]. Max Morris’s wife was there, full of the typical political hysteria of the English middle class. I said nothing out of the way to her, but when I enquired about the resignation of her husband, first she got angry, and then began to cry. Of course I must write her a nice note as she is a harmless poor thing. She told me that the Educational Advisory Committee at 16 King Street was always supporting Trotskies, whom Morris had to fight against within his Trade Union. I consider it credible. Pat Bond tells me that Irene Brennan wants to set up a National Advisory Irish Committee, presumably because the London one is not doing enough harm. I am going to let this disease go right through its course. When the patient wants medicine, however, he can have it.
Eamon McLaughlin tells me that poor silly Des Logan is an admirer of Irene Brennan and follows her round like a big shaggy dog. I remember his ringing me up in 1968 at 7.30 am. and saying “They’ve gone in!” [ie. referring to the Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia at that time] in a woe-begone voice, at which time I understand Roy Johnston was pacing the room muttering, “The Russians! The Russians”, as if that would do any good. Eamon far all his laziness has a good brain and seems to be managing to keep afloat on the sea of nonsense. Not that the brain was much in evidence. He produced a whole bottle of brandy.
February 22 Tuesday: I looked at the new “British Road to Socialism” and I see that the unity of Ireland has been made an internal Irish matter. We have come full cycle. I suppose I will have to write out a suggested amendment. This cannot go by default. It is a nuisance. I also saw “Marxism Today”, where John Hoffman is locked in dialectical battle with a son of a Gunn [ie. Richard Gunn]. I’ve half a mind to train some artillery on this fellow, one of these jabbering dons of the television generation. But it would take a lot of time and work. Still it might be worth it for several reasons. I was busy on the papers.
I saw Jane Tate briefly and remarked that from the controversy in “Comment” it looked as if the CPGB was split down the middle. “It is,” said she. What an absurdity! That fool Gollan has split his party down the middle on an issue that belongs to another country [ie. retrospective attitudes to the Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia nine years previously]. Did you ever see!
February 23 Wednesday: I got on well with the paper. Then in the evening I spoke to the YCL in Harrow. There were only six there, three young men and three girls, but they were good intelligent youngsters, so all is not lost. I got back in time to see the Central Branch people, Eddie Cowman, Jim Kelly, Charlie Cunningham, Leo Clendening and Jane Tate.
February 24 Thursday: I finished the paper and then went to South London with Eddie Cowman. The Shaughraun was there – J.P. O’Connor, bearded, in filthy jeans, but wonder of wonders with his face washed. I spoke on Marx and Ireland and had occasion to observe the spread of Clann na hEireann ideas. McKeever expressed surprise that Marx and Engels should so definitely pronounce the precedence of national independence over socialism. He said this seemed to favour the view of the “Provisionals”. I told him that the “Officials” by handing over the national demand to the “Provisionals” were ensuring their own decay, and that Sean Nolan had told me that all the older generation (Nora Connolly O’Brien, Maire Comerford, Moss Twomey) supported the Provisionals, except Peadar O’Donnell and George Gilmore, who were of course the most intelligent.
Eddie Cowman and I had a drink with David McLaughlin, who is up to the neck in the YCL. I asked him if Michael Ryan was right that the forthcoming conference was in effect being gerrymandered [ie. the policy conference of the CPGB]. He said he did not think so, but he admitted that the new method of electing delegates would reduce the representation of Surrey, which he claimed was previously excessive. He says their membership is down to 1800. He also talks about a struggle between “hardliners” and “softliners”, which I told him was about the most veritable nonsense I had heard for a long time. But they are going on with it. You can only refrain from making it worse. David McLaughlin told me that Jimmy Stewart is still here and addressed the students on the South Bank yesterday. His comment was, “The line they are putting over is very much Clann na hEireann.” It struck me to reflect that there is a fresh danger, namely that the Six County CP should become the spearhead of this view inside Ireland, and blackmail Dublin into silence for fear of a split. It looks as if there will be the need for a counter move. But I want things to be crystal clear first. If the “Officials” do poorly in the elections [ie. the upcoming Irish general election], some of the wilder anticipations over here may be disappointed. In the meantime we [ie. the Connolly Association] can only do what we are doing, trying to establish the firmest possible base in the Irish community.
February 25 Friday: I had a letter from Frank Rushe which contains references to Lenny Draper [a Connolly Association activist in Manchester in previous years, whom Greaves had high hopes of but who suddenly went off to France]. Apparently he has lost interest in politics. I am not surprised. He is still in Paris and I doubt if he is doing very well. Rushe hints at factors I do not know, as if he doubted Lenny Draper’s account of things in Manchester. But that the blame rests on the scum up there I do not doubt [ie. the local Manchester CP people who did not give Draper and the Connolly Association sufficient support]. I have had several letters from Sean Hagan telling me that that conceited judo operator, Stan Cole, had lost his wife. I think he thought I would send condolences. I am sorry about the wife but Cole can go to the devil. He wrecked Lenny Draper’s committee because he wanted a trip to Ireland. He got it, and nothing but disorganisation came of it. Rushe is still interested in national affairs and is learning Irish.
I also heard from Betty Sinclair, who is coming back to Ireland in May [ie. from representing the CPI on the “World Marxist Review” in Prague], to “do a job in Belfast”. She does not seem too pleased. But of course according to Michael O’Riordan she is far gone on the booze. He has been trying to get her “dried out”. And who would wonder? One sees looking back that the “Official” “take-over” of NICRA was the culmination of the war waged against her, and all the ruin has proceeded from that, assisted by that unconscionable conceited jackass Jimmy Stewart. I wonder if we could get her to Dublin. She will not survive in Belfast.
I rang up Klugman [ie. James Klugman, Editor of “Marxism Today” at the time] and offered to join the controversy between Hoffman and the son of a gun [ie. Richard Gunn, who had written on “Dialectics” in that publication]. He was very pleased and told me that Rose (bless us!) [presumably Paul Rose MP] is coming in too. I have already in my mind what I want to say.
There was quite a buzz of activity – Jane Tate, Leo Clendening, Jim Kelly (off his backside for once), Maeve Lawlor, complete with baby, and Steve Huggett, all getting ready a jumble sale for tomorrow. Steve Huggett is talking about giving up his Civil Service job and studying, of all things, “politics” at a university. He might as well study theology.
Saturday 26 February: I was in the office except for a trip to Soho to buy a “wok” from the Chinese shop. They are the queerest people. They do not speak as they serve you. They do not recognise you as human. Everybody but themselves are “foreign devils”. But it cannot be the racial character because the Japanese are quite otherwise, intensely sensitive to all people, and with such good manners that they embarrass you. But then I do not know what kind of Chinese they were in the shop, probably Hong Kong. The southern part of Soho is now like what Liverpool’s Chinatown used to be before it was blown up.
The Central London branch held a jumble sale. Though they all came late and Jane Tate was in a rage, they came, and made £30. There were Brian Crowley and Geraldine, Jim Kelly blowing off and in his element, Eddie Cowman, Jane herself, two daughters of Siobhán O’Neill, Elsie O’Dowling, Charlie Cunningham and others. Pat O’Donohue came in for a minute and I tried an experiment. When I spoke to him in the bookshop he was gruff to the point of rudeness. But I have been increasingly thinking that it is the little bitch Toni Curran who is the cause of the trouble and that it may go no further than “bitchiness”. When he came in I threw a prepossessing smile – and had him eating out of my hand. Perhaps another time he might bite it, but things are too serious for a fight in our own camp. Pat Bond is of the same mind as Jane Tate, that their behaviour is deplorable, but he does not wish to disturb relations until the book catalogue for which we have been waiting three months is finished. So here was an interesting probe of relations.
I was approached by Brian Crowley, not a person I ever had much confidence in, but better than he was. I do not believe he has a weak heart and think the reason he wanted me to say nothing about it to anybody was that somebody would then provide me with evidence to the contrary. He wanted to work solely in the CP because that was the wish of Geraldine, who introduced him to it. Now he is in the same branch as Jack Cohen, Betty Reid and others. I commented that judging by the letters in “Comment” they are split down the middle, “They are split down the middle,” he replied. He spoke of old members dropping out, then turned to the Irish plank. “They seem to have a blind spot. It is incomprehensible,” he said.
It is not incomprehensible to me. It is English chauvinism. Now Pat O’Donohue thinks the Irish plank woeful. And from all sides you hear of disarray and total confusion. When I went out with Jim Kelly and Gerry Curran I heard the same story. Now these splits occur when there is much to be said on both sides of a question, and no solution in sight. It is therefore incumbent on a leader to prevent the discussion of matters about which nothing can be done and keep in view only problems which seem soluble. In this Gordon McLennan has failed and he has allowed Gollan to split his party. They are very foolish men and they could leave the political labour movement in this country crippled for a period of years.
Later Chris Sullivan came in. He also was at the school where Myant slapped down Pat Bond. Chris had referred to the intention to withdraw from Ireland. “If we mouth revolutionary slogans we’ll be killed,” snapped Irene Brennan. Chris is very upset with her. So wisdom spreads with experience, but not power. It struck me that I might send McLennan a memorandum on the Irish plank and try to get it changed from behind the scenes. It would have to be very carefully written for purposes of the future.
Pat Bond, who came in for a few minutes, told me that the CP is having Michael O’Riordan over in April to hold a meeting with Gordon McLennan in Willesden, an Irish area. Jimmy Stewart goes to Scotland to recruit Orangemen and speaks to the British. Michael O’Riordan goes to act as a recruiting sergeant among the Catholics. Opportunism in excelsis.
Sunday 27 February: We had the Standing Committee in the morning. Pat O’Donohue was very affable and Toni Curran was very quiet. They sat at opposite sides of the filing cabinet where they could not see each other. These last two points I had not noted and thought Pat’s change of manner was due to my olive branch. But Jane Tate noticed it and said some change had occurred. Now earlier in the week Gerry Curran rang to suggest we had a drink together but said it was not urgent. So something has happened. Pat O’Donohue has thought I knew of it and approved, whence the smiles which were in fact strictly diplomatic, and was ready to respond. Now what we will learn.
The NCCL has sent us no invitation to submit resolutions to their annual conference and the qualifying date is past. This is the second year. I now learn that the incompetent Millner who looks after their Irish work is a Clann na hEireann man, and that the previous woman, Cath Scorer, who is at Irene Brennan’s Polytechnic, is living with Irene Brennan. So we know how Irene Brennan suddenly, without ever having worked in it, popped up on the Executive of the NCCL.
A thought struck me about the dispute between the “hardliners” and the “softliners” – a difference in which I do not propose to become embroiled but shall stick to the Irish question and otherwise general theory: that the two sides are fighting under substitute slogans. I glanced at the “British Road to Socialism”. It is for leaving NATO and the EEC. It is for a broad alliance against international big business, friendly to the aspirations of the Scottish and Welsh. There can be no objection to this. Yet the so-called “hardliners” sense the opportunism which operates in practice, in the method of work for example, and their thirst for a general principle over-riding immediate tactics forces them to take sides on things where it would be just as well to shut their mouths. Therefore the “hardliners” are preferable in the way the SLP was preferable [ie. the Socialist Labour Party, one of the smaller left-wing parties that came together to establish the CPGB in 1920], but want the movement to act above the capabilities of those who compose it. I hope I can keep the Irish question out of this tangle. I will not if Irene Brennan has her way. I gave Eddie Cowman a resolution for his branch, and Jane Tate one for Holborn. I think the existing plank is drafted by that unconscionable young pup Myant, who has the impertinence to try to talk down to Pat Bond.
There was an amusing letter a couple of days ago, from Sam Levenson’s London publisher O’Keefe. It was one of those glorious exchanges of correspondence so popular in Ireland. I remember the one Declan Hobson distributed, which included St John Ervine’s declaration that the existence of Hobson was the strongest extant objection to banning birth control, and Hobson’s reply. The correspondence told how Levenson, after getting O’Keefe to edit his book on Maude Gonne, had approached an American publisher and got a huge advance: letter after letter protested that the English rights were reserved to O’Keefe. Finally the Yanks cracked the whip and Levenson let O’Keefe down. Tackled, says O’Keefe, “he made a noise like dirty water descending a drain.”
February 28 Monday (Liverpool): I was in the office for a few minutes, then went to Ripley where all went well, and then on to Liverpool. For once the transport was good. I found a letter from the Director of Education in Liverpool saying that the Department of Education and Science were desirous of making contact with a relative or executor of the late Phyllis Greaves. There was also a reprint from the University of Cincinnatti of a paper by a man called Paul F.Power, which is not so bad. But how did he get my address?
March 1 Tuesday: I went into Birkenhead and bought one or two things, including a couple of pounds of tea which is rising rapidly in price, and had a haircut. With one thing and another the whole day was frittered away.
March 2 Wednesday: I took over some books to Tom Walsh at the Irish Centre [Tom Walsh was its manager]. He was asking about the catalogue, which Peter Mulligan did in three days, Brian Crowley in three weeks, and Toni Curran has not managed in three months.
March 3 Thursday: I got something done in the garden, and something done on O’Casey, and sent off enquiries to the TGWU and Liverpool Trades Council re the ITGWU.
March 4 Friday: I got in a full day on the Gaelic chapter of O’Casey. The mild weather helps.
March 5 Saturday: Another full day on O’Casey.
March 6 Sunday: I had thought of going down country for a few days,but decided to finish the chapter, which is going quite well.
March 7 Monday: I finished Chapter 4 and decided to press on at once. I also managed to get in an hour in the garden where prospects are better than last year, thanks to the dry spell after the rain. The winter seems over.
March 8 Tuesday: I received a letter from Skelly [of Messrs Lawrence and Wishart] saying he had had a number of enquiries about O’Casey. That is to the good. I decided not to waste time nowmaking a reasoned statement on the “British Road to Socialism” Irish plank. But I will do it later. It can’t be let go by default. The rest does not outrage me. It will not get them socialism, but then neither will anything else as things stand at the moment. There is too much water yet to flow under the bridge. But I can see them all fighting each other as if they were making a choice between things to be got instead of things to say. But I’m not going to get excited about it at my time of life.
March 9 Wednesday: I continued getting things together for chapter 5. A strange letter came from Toni Curran. Response is out of all proportion to stimulus with herself and Gerard Curran. They must live in a strained unrelaxable life, with the fate of nations dangling on their every action. She wants me to go there and have a long talk, that is where as host she could play her tricks. We will meet on neutral ground. And of course it’s all nonsense. I say neutral ground to defend my comfort, not my interests. Skelly sent me a copy of the German translation of the “Irish Crisis”.
March 10 Thursday: I started on the “Dialectics” controversy in which John Hoffman is embroiled with a son of a Gunn, and for the moment put down O’Casey [Richard Gunn wrote an article on the dialectics of nature in the monthly “Marxism Today” and university philosophy lecturer John Hoffman took issue with him; Desmond Greaves’s article concluded the controversy].
March 11 Friday: I carried on with the gunnery. This man has raked up the remnant of Duhring’s rotten potatoes [Friedrich Engels had written “Anti-Duhring”, criticising Duhring’s views on dialectics]. Apparently the whole thing was discussed at that high school of nonsense, the “Communist University”.
March 12 Saturday: I managed to do a little in the garden. Otherwise it was the gunnery [ie. pertaining to Richard Gunn].
March 13 Sunday: The same again. The garden and the gunnery. The daffodils and forsythia are out despite the long dragging winter. Much has been mild.
March 14 Monday: I cleaned out the music room where I have been operating all winter and opened up the study, thanks to the milder weather.
March 15 Tuesday: Tony Coughlan sent me a statement by the BICO [ie. Brendan and Angela Clifford’s “British and Irish Communist Organisation”], headed “Sinn Fein stops blaming Britain”. I wonder how far they are down the road. I don’t want to act too soon, but I don’t want to “miss the boat”.
March 16 Wednesday: I finished the dialectics article, but whether it really amounts to much I’m by no means sure. I’ll leave it a few days and see how it strikes me then. I would get on twice as fast in everything if I had more money. Why is this not done, I say. I examine it and find it is through some little economy that I would not have made in the past.
March 17 Thursday (London): I came to London by the 5.4 pm. train, and found Eddie Cowman changing in the office, having come straight from work. He and Stephen Huggett had moved all the furniture round. I was glad to see the signs of initiative, and in the manner he talked about his work, and the signs of energy and enthusiasm, I received the best confirmation yet that he will do the job, possibly as well in some ways and even better in others than Sean Redmond. He is quite a remarkable young fellow. He has also, I think, at last cut out the mental umbilical chord with the “Stickies,” this being helped by the absurd “Irish Industrial Revolution” which Tony Coughlan sent me a copy of. Then Chris Sullivan came in. He was under the impression that the “British Road to Socialism” was quite all right on the Irish question, and I imagine Irene Brennan, who is a friend of Pegeen’s [ie. Mrs O’Sullivan] has been doing her insidious work.
We went down to the social evening at the Welsh Hall [It being St Patrick’s Day]. Jock Stallard was there, and Marcus Lipton with Eddie Loyden [Labour Party MPs]. They all had to get back to the House of Commons to vote. Loyden thought the Government would hold on as the others didn’t want an election. “But Maggie Thatcher wants one,” said Stallard, ” she wants to make history and she’s only got the next two years to do it.” He thought the Government should avoid a vote. The others were not so worried. Stallard thought that if the Tories won, Mrs Thatcher having scented blood would go for the kill. Lipton told me he was not going up. Who was replacing him, I asked. “Oh, indeed, the long knives are out!” We spoke about Tom Litterick and Stallard reminded me of the fact that he collapsed at our meeting at Hammersmith Town Hall. Of course they’re amusing cynical devils. “I think it’s largely petticoat government has got the better of him,” says Stallard, a reference to the fact that his wife is his secretary and election agent. There was a good crowd present – about 200, Paddy Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Jane Tate, and all the usual people.
March 18 Friday: So Stallard must have known the expected tactic – abstention. At the same time they may have an election on their hands. Michael Ryan showed me a cutting from the “Irish Times” referring to O’Murchú’s unsigned reply to the “Irish Industrial Revolution”. I am glad he took my advice and refrained from signing it. At least they will cool down before they are sure who wrote it, and it also has the appearance of a collective statement. Michael Ryan told me that he had an interchange with HG [It is not known whom these initials refer to] who thought that now the position in Dublin was what it was, the CPGB could no longer go on supporting Clann na hEireann in the present shameful way. But Ryan thought they would, and so do I. I saw Irene Brennan’s nonsense in the “Morning Star”. She advocates “twinning” between British and Northern Ireland Trades Councils, so that Orange propaganda can flood the British Labour Movement. She also refers to cooperation with the Connolly Association and Clann na hEireann, the aim being to give them equal status. When I went to Central Books there was the “United Irishman” on sale with the “Democrat” and the “Irish Socialist”. But they have invited Michael O Riordan to do a series of meetings in April. So we will see what happens. I was with Michael Ryan in Hammersmith. Eddie Cowman was also in.
March 19 Saturday: I was in the office most of the day and a succession of people came in. The MCF [ie. the Movement for Colonial Freedom, now called Liberation] conference was on – on the subject of racialism. Eddie Cowman, Chris Sullivan, Steve Huggett and Leo Clendening were there. Clann na hEireann have appeared in that galère – as sponsors and with Cullen as a delegate. I am not unduly worried. I know their tricks and I know the astute female who is pushing them forward with her own glorification as the main object. But they will walk into the British Labour movement where they will be absorbed because they know nothing about politics, while we will strengthen our position in the Irish community. I showed the “Industrial Revolution” to Jim Cosgrave. He could not believe that the “Stickies” had gone so far.
March 20 Sunday: I was in the office and typed the “Dialectics of Nature”. I am sending a copy to Alan Morton for his opinion. I saw Eddie Cowman in the afternoon. Recent developments have helped to rid him of his attachment to the “Stickies,” which is all to the good. I wonder how far everybody is prepared to go. Chris Sullivan says that at “Camden Builders” they discussed whether the CPGB is now “Social Democratic”. An interesting smaller scale development relates to the Shaugraun – J.P.O’Connor who, claiming to be a “social rebel”, never washed himself and wore filthy tattered jeans and a huge red beard. He has started to wash himself, wears only moderately torn clothing, is going to evening classes, wanting to be a teacher and, strangest of all, is losing his stammer! I am pleased. I’ve talked to him like a Dutch uncle trying to get him to improve his ways.
I never remember so much thunder early in the year. It was at it all day yesterday and again today, and also in February. It is a bad sign. But what are signs, these days?
March 21 Monday: I had a letter from Betty Sinclair. She has written twice to Myant about the “Morning Star” but has not had the courtesy of a reply. She describes the “British Road to Socialism” as a plan for “change without change” and is generally scathing, saying that it is “hard to stomach”. I find it dreary. She intends to settle back in Belfast.
It seems that though Eddie Cowman prepared a statement on discrimination against the Irish on racial grounds, he was not given the floor. Everyday evidence of vicious harassment of the Irish in Britain, but your glorious “anti-racialist” English leftwingers keep their eyes fixed on the ends of the earth! I get to feel that I just didn’t want to see these bums again! I blame Myant for a good half of what has gone wrong.
It was thundering again today.
Jane Tate told me why Betty Sinclair is not going to Dublin, as I suggested to her. She has been asked by Michael O’Riordan to try to do something about Jimmy Stewart in Belfast. Seemingly there is wide dissatisfaction with this singularly worthless individual, the darling of the English. But I don’t know the details.
In the evening who came on the phone but Lenny Draper – from Paris. I had an enquiry from his friend Frank Rushe about the Gaelic gramophone records. I sent him the information and asked about Lenny. When he told me he was still in Paris and seemed to have lost interest in national affairs I replied that I was sorry, but that I blamed those useless people in Manchester whom I did not name. Apparently Lenny Draper heard of this and, being a warm-hearted lad, decided to ring. He talks of coming over at Easter. But the long and short of it is that he ran away, though not without excuse.
March 22 Tuesday: I worked on the paper all day. Late in the evening Eddie Cowman came in. He tried to produce a summary of the speech he did not make, but he is very weak in writing and his spelling is atrocious. At the same time he is active and willing and has a good head for politics. I hope he makes the grade. If the miserable Central London branch (led by the curmudgeon Jim Kelly) had not refused to change their meeting night to allow him to go to evening school and be secretary as well, things might have been better.
I think Toni Curran is in trouble again. Apparently Pat O’Donohue is now engaged to a wee Welsh girl and that is why they weren’t looking at each other. Now Gerry Curran has taken to his bed and nobody knows what is wrong with him. I suppose it is “depression”.
I re-wrote the article Tony Coughlan sent me on Irish neutrality and made it into a front-page article. I think pushing this issue into the forefront will have an embarrassing effect on some of the people who deserve to be embarrassed. It will raise the question of solidarity with Ireland, break out of the narrow Six Counties outlook the English Left maintain, and also give Clann na hEireann something to think of, and not only them. The rubbishy “peace” movement of Colin Sweet might have to do something for its living or lose its support among MPs. I told Eddie abut this, but I don’t think he understood. He told me apropos of something else that there has been a split in the “Troops Out Movement” and he thinks this accounts for the fact that one of their members approached us on Patrick’s Night to suggest joint discussions. I told him to come and see me first.
March 23 Wednesday: I virtually finished the paper. At the Central London branch meeting we had Chris Sullivan, Jim McDonald, Jim Kelly, Charlie Cunningham, Elsie O’Dowling and Michael Ryan, and Steve Huggett. Not a very good turn-out. Jane Tate is ill. Chris Sullivan told me that the CP/SF split is in the open now. “Hibernia” says that the CP is sending up a man against Tom Gill [ie. Tomás MacGiolla] in Ballyfermot, where the CPI has contested for years. It will make it harder for the Clann na hEireann intriguers to infiltrate the CPGB. But I don’t know. Their opportunism surpasses imagination.
March 24 Thursday: It has just struck me that the “Officials” no longer seem to be sending us their bulletins. That probably arises from the rift in Dublin. However, I decided not to mention it in the “Democrat”. We will see how the cat jumps. I have left my British Museum reader’s ticket in Liverpool, so two days are wasted on me. I went to West London where they are trying to revive the branch. I think, after the mental shock of Pat O’Donohue’s engagement, things may normalise themselves. I note a distinct reduction of tension. Toni Curran told me she is on bad terms with Bob Allen, the local CP man. Apparently he wanted her to organise a meeting at which Jimmy Stewart or somebody was to speak and she declined, saying that he should be doing it and getting the English along, not the Irish. Of course this was an undiplomatic way of handling the thing. She could have said she had not the time to take the responsibility, but if he did a, b, c she would try to do d, e, f. How many times have I left District Offices [ie. of the CPGB] with promises ringing in my ears, which were forgotten the minute I have left.
There is a deep malaise, however, which I have not been able to trace to its roots. It has been increasingly impressing itself on me. For example John Boyd, who writes me very good articles on the EEC, resigned from the West Middlesex District Party Committee, giving health as his reason, but the real reason was frustration. When I mentioned that I had sent Klugman a contribution to his discussion on dialectics (I sent Alan Morton a copy and he entirely agrees with it), he said, “He won’t print it.” “Why not?” “He lost three of mine.” “What were they about?” “Youth organisations.” “Ah, policy.” Perhaps there was objection from the YCL. Then he complained further that three years ago when he had asked Klugman his opinion on the EEC, he had replied, “I don’t know anything about economics.” If this is true it seems to betoken a weakening of political fibre. But it is dangerous to take too literally the remarks of people who are frustrated. There might be many reasons why Klugman did not wish to discuss the subject at that time. But what next – Steve Banham is on the District Party Committee and at a recent meeting was speaking alongside George Matthews! [Steve Banham was a rather callow young man who had helped for some months in the Connolly Association office the previous year. George Matthews, 1917-2005, was former editor of the “Daily Worker”, later the “Morning Star”.] And one of the West London members [ie. of the Connolly Association]had joined the CP and immediately cancelled his order for the “Irish Democrat”. This of course is nothing new. When we sent Bill Goulding to Birmingham to organise the Connolly Association, Harry Bourne recruited him into the CP, ignored the purpose of his going there and regarded him merely as an addition to his own forces [Harry Bourne, 1913-1974, former International Brigader, was CPGB District Secretary in the Midlands in the 1950s]. There is what might be called the natural chauvinism of the English, and there is also deliberate political action, and the latter is serious, the former merely ineradicable, a chronic not an acute condition.
March 25 Friday: I had a letter from Mark Clinton. He organised a social on Patrick’s Night and made £10. He also spoke to the students of Warwick University. None of the CP students attended, but he was well received. Of course that is the stamping ground of Irene Brennan’s sister, Mary Brennan. And he is moving in the direction I want him to go. He has been attending the newly formed branch of the Gaelic League. They indeed are already in touch with us, as they get their books from our shop.
I was out with Eddie Cowman in the evening. But we finished early so as to go to a Builders’ social at The Marquis of Cornwall. Jim McDonald was there, Andy Higgins, Blennerhasset (a fairly well-educated man, I would say), George O’Driscoll, and I saw others, including George Anthony [of the North London district of the Engineering Union]. There was also a member of the CP executive whose name I did not catch and who knew little enough about anything to tell me he was a great friend of Irene Brennan’s. Now Anthony is a very good man, and I noted the enthusiasm with which he regarded the “British Road to Socialism”. He said, “it’s a lovely document.” Now obviously he must think it will be of great value in the Trade Union movement, and possibly it is so orientated as to win much wider support there. I did not disguise from him the fact that I thought the Irish plank unsatisfactory, and indeed several of the Irish boys were asking me whether I had been consulted and I replied that I had not. There is some dissatisfaction there, and no wonder. Nobody there knew of the rift with Official Sinn Fein.
March 26 Saturday: I was in the office most of the day. Charlie Cunningham told me that George Anthony is known as an enthusiastic “soft-liner” and that Kevin Halpin resented his getting some kind of full-time union (AUEW) job, as he is the reverse. That horrible creature Tom Durkin is also a “hardliner.” So the difference cuts across everything else. Obviously there is a real dilemma there or it would not have this effect. He also told me that a man whose name I forget is very friendly with George Anthony, and his girl friend is Clann na hEireann and in the CP. I think there must be instructions from Dublin to infiltrate the CPGB. I don’t know how or when they will pay for their carelessness, but they will pay. I thought I would concentrate on the Irish plank, for apart from that I know what will happen. The “softliners” will win and go on working as sectishly as ever.
Michael Crowe came in and we went to Hammersmith with Steve Huggett. I was rather alarmed by the change in him. He seems politically defeated. Of Horace Green he says, “He gives no lead.” His committee is mainly concerned with local competition with the ultra-left; they ignore the national question and ignore the Labour Party. I pointed out that the “British Road to Socialism” did not ignore the Labour Party. But he thought whatever they said, this was what they did. “I find I can’t even talk to them now,” he said, “There is no common ground.” And to make matters worse a young Irish doctor has arrived in Sunderland and is “doing all their work” for them. He is a member of Sinn Fein the Workers’ Party. Unfortunately, I have not yet a full grasp of what all this means. Will they push it to a break with the CPI? Whom are they gunning for? But Michael Crowe had a successful St Patrick’s Night social.
March 27 Sunday: I was in the office in the morning and Eddie Cowman came in. Then at 2 pm. the E.C. was held, with Pat Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Eddie Cowman, Michael Crowe, Gerry Curran, Toni Curran, Michael Ryan, Mark Clinton, Pat O’Donohue and Peter Mulligan – the last looking as youthful as ever. How he manages it I do not know. It was a lively meeting. Pat O’Donohue launched out in what amounted to a tirade. He showed the serious financial position, and that we were losing £176 a month. But he presented the case in a for him eloquent but to the others hectoring and unsympathetic tone. It was simple. The “Irish Democrat” owed Ripley £1000, the Connolly Association £800, myself £400 and “we would be mistaken to undertake any other commitments as our reserves would be gone in three months.” He did not refer to the possibility that I will no longer be a call on them, except for expenses. Then he launched into more commercial talk. “The people didn’t want the ‘Democat’, so we should take them what they do want – calendars, badges, books.” This was too much for Michael Crowe, who asked what was our political purpose, got very annoyed and threatened to go back to Newcastle. Then Pat said these ancillary activities kept the paper going. What good if it wasn’t sold, Michael Crowe rejoined. Then I said I could not see the situation improving without additional effort, and for this we needed Eddie Cowman full-time. Pat O’Donohue then said he had no objection, he was not trying to prevent it etc. etc. Through all this Toni Curran sat glum and silent. She was delighted at the firing of the balls she had provided, for the whole thing was intended as an attack on the Central London branch who do all the hard work, and the long hours (Pat Bond elsewhere excepted), but not possessing motor cars cannot take loads of books around public houses as Toni Curran does in her one sole week of a Sunday evening. At the end of it Michael Crowe went off without saying goodbye to anybody, and Charlie Cunningham, Eddie Cowman, Michael Ryan and I went for a meal and a drink.
March 28 Monday (Liverpool): I rang Ripley and was told that the copy posted on Thursday by first-class mail had not arrived. All my plans were thrown out, so I came to Liverpool.
March 29 Tuesday: At last the copy had arrived, so I went to Ripley and the work went through without anything untoward happening.
March 30 Wednesday: I spent the day getting in food and clearing up, and then did a little on the ITGWU history. The weather is very cold.
March 31 Thursday: I spent the whole day, which was mostly cold and wet, on the ITGWU history. A letter had come from Alisoun [ie. Alisoun Morton, daughter of Greaves’s old friend, Professor Alan G. Morton], and another from Jack Jones [of the ATGWU in Britain], saying the National Union of Dock Labourers records [a union with which James Larkin had been involved before he moved to Ireland] had been given to a rag and bone man!
April 1 Friday: I stayed up till 2 am. for the Stechford by-election result. It was a disaster for Labour. The National Front moved into third place, and Brian Heron (bless us) went up for the “International Marxists”[He was a grandson of James Connolly]. I remember him as a boy of 16 in Belgrave Square. There seems to be a regular generation of half-educated political chancers. I think the radio said he was now in engineering and a shop steward! – after the deep-sea fishing and gallivanting the USA for funds for the “Provisionals”.
On Sunday Michael Ryan told me that his father was Secretary of the Graiguenamanagh branch of the ITGWU, one of the few which returned questionnaires [which Greaves had sent out to the ITGWU branch secretaries seeking local information for the Union history]. But when I rang Cathal for the address he told me it was not in the diary [ie. the ITGWU official annual diary provided to union members], so I should have asked it from Ryan.
April 2 Saturday: According to the “Birkenhead News” Allison is leading the campaign to prevent the transport vandals closing down the ferries. I remember well the simple decision they took, and thereby wrecked them: to end the synchronisation of the bus and boat arrivals and departures. Phyllis tried to get them to reverse it but they were too keen on placating the motor-car lobby.
April 3 Sunday: I wrote a number of letters on the ITGWU job, and also started work on a chapter of O’Casey. At midnight there was a loud peal of thunder.
April 4 Monday: We can judge the reason for the thunder. The weather has turned very cold and there was ice. Fortunately, the sun is fairly strong, so that it is not bad in the day, but too cold for gardening.
April 5 Tuesday: I continued work on the book. Tony Coughlan told me that George Gilmore is definitely coming over this weekend.
April 6 Wednesday: I got another chapter of O’Casey finished and am rather in a mood to push on and get rid of the thing.
April 7 Thursday: I cut purple-sprouting broccoli for the second time today. But the trouble with growing vegetables is that it is either too much or nothing.
April 8 Friday: I did some more on the O’Casey. I cut a cauliflower today, which was large enough to serve two meals. I have gone through Jordan’s harmonisations for the Song Book. How these fellows love to write “Scottish Reel” on the air of an Irish song.
April 9 Saturday (London): I went to London and found everyone well, and Charlie Cunningham rather encouraged by an upturn in sales. Not that I experienced it when in Hammersmith with the cross-grained Jim Kelly. There was a letter waiting from Joe Whelan [a miners’ leader in Derbyshire who was a member of the CA and the CPGB]. He said he was at a CPGB Executive meeting and criticised them for taking an interest in every country but Ireland and proposed they should devote more forces to it. His motion was lost 19-9, Irene Brennan abstaining. He said he was disgusted. But I said to myself perhaps on their current showing, the less they do the better! I wonder why she abstained. Perhaps along the lines of the reason Michael Ryan gave me: that she wants to stand well with both sides with a view to high office – or perhaps if there were others to help her, she would come under more scrutiny.
Michael Ryan was at the YCL conference and returned full of schadenfreude, if that is the right word. “Everybody says it’ll be the last conference.” The “soft-liners”, who have been in control for eight years, swear it is all the fault of the “hardliners”. And, says Michael, Sinn Fein is thinking of pulling out of the CP and making a breakaway. I thought of writing to him to deplore this but decided that peacemakers will not be welcome. Let them fight it out. Of course Ryan may be mistaken.
April 10 Sunday: I learned from Eddie Cowman that Jim McDonald had told him that Sinn Fein is indeed canvassing a split. What blithering idiots they all are! And their swelled heads are so enormous that nobody could tell them anything. For while they are turning in on themselves their real enemies are escaping with murder! And I have a good idea what will happen. The “softs” will win, retain the paper and apparatus, and there will be many resignations, and then the “softs” will continue to be as dogmatically “soft” as the others are dogmatically “hard”, as the quarrel over a false antithesis.
We had a brief meeting in Hyde Park. Then in the evening at the Ivanhoe George Gilmore gave his lecture to a crowded room. He broke down twice, once when his emotions were too strong for him, when he told of the Shankill Road contingent at Bodenstown in 1934, and when he spoke of the women of the two religions coming together last year. But he is very despondent, and I don’t blame him. The promotion of folly has become such a vast industry. Flann Campbell and Mary Campbell were there. She told me that Justin Keating had been to see them last month but shut up like a clam when they talked Irish politics. Mr Minister is not going to do any ministering himself.
The Irish YCL delegate came into the office with Michael Ryan and expressed himself somewhat scornfully of the CPGB. Now Michael O’ Riordan comes over shortly. Will he express his opinion and risk taking sides or play safe and back the “Better Life for All” and add his meed to the pursuit of utopia?
April 11 Monday (Liverpool): I spent the morning and afternoon in the office. Eddie Cowman came in as well. Then I took the 5.35 to Liverpool.
April 12 Tuesday: I bought in food, sowed parsnips, ate my own cauliflower and purple broccoli and read Irish history.
April 13 Wednesday: I worked on another chapter of O’Casey, making reasonably good progress. The weather is still cold for the time of year.
April 14 Thursday: I was busy on O’Casey again.
April 15 Friday: I finished the Chapter at midday, then went out to buy things. I have plenty of vegetables – white beets, leeks, broccoli, cauliflowers and the remains of the artichokes. Alan Morton rang in the evening. He had forgotten to return the MS of my article for “Marxism Today” which Klugman says he will publish but not yet. He told me that John Morton has lost his job. Apparently he has not got on well with his superior who is Reader in Biochemistry. But it got to such a point that last week this character threatened him with physical assault, whereupon he walked out and put the matter into the hands of his Trade Union. As I remarked to him, the riffraff have got into the Universities. Apparently it is now quite common for scientific research workers to falsify their results. Nobody thinks anything of it! Advertisers do it! Why not they?
April 16 Saturday: I had a request from big John Maher to give him some points for a speech at the ATGWU conference in Douglas. I wonder when it is. The resolutions contain everything but opposition to imperialism. Charlie Cunningham also sent me a typescript “for information” from Joan Gabriel, Sweet’s factotum [ie. Colin Sweet of the British Peace Committee]. They want to hold a conference on Ireland and have postponed it once. Now she is sending out copies of a note to members of her Executive Council, rather as O’Keefe sent the world the “truth about Levenson”, which I had a good laugh at. Apparently Joan Gabriel had asked the Scorer woman to address a seminar on the Bill of Rights as a means of preparing the “withdrawal” from the Six Counties. They have thus got beyond “immediate withdrawal of troops” and have got Seamus Collins of “Sinn Fein the Workers’ Party” to talk to them. But will he? John Maher says that despite her request to Kath Scorer she had a reply from Irene Brennan, that nobody connected with the NCCL would speak at the seminar and that this conclusion had been reached “after serious discussion”. So the capacity of that woman to create splits and stir up ill-feeling is phenomenal. Of course the British Peace Committee should not be holding conferences about Ireland – but when thieves fall out …
April 17 Thursday: I wrote to Colm Power [a former CA member] now in Limerick, sent some notes to Maher, and one or two other wee things. The weather began wet, then turned cold, so there was nothing to be done in the garden.
April 18 Monday: I didn’t get a deal done today, went into Birkenhead, bought food and had an hour in the garden. It is dull and exceptionally cold.
April 19 Tuesday: Again dull and nearly as cold. I rang up Jordan and Tony Coughlan and I managed a little in the garden. I had a letter from the Ministry of Education asking for Phyllis’s death certificate, as they wish to investigate whether any “benefits” are payable to her estate. I guessed that the initial enquiry arose from the fact that she would have been 60 last August. Possibly they have to check over every name, perhaps to see if provision has been made for a child or dependent. I suppose I will have to get the certificate and send it to them to clear the matter up. Possibly they only know she is not contributing any more, and may think she could be abroad, in which case benefits would accrue to somebody for any time she survived last August.
April 20 Wednesday: It was drizzly but milder and I managed an hour or two in the garden. Stella Bond rang and said Betty Sinclair had sent me a letter.
April 21 Thursday: Stella sent me on Betty Sinclair’s letter. It ran: “I write you in haste and in some kind of perturbation. The April issue of the ‘Irish Democrat’ shows, in the support fund, a contribution from a D.O’Hagan of £170. Is this Sinn Fein the Workers’ Party? If so, are the latter trying to get a basis in GB through the paper and the Association? In Ireland, Sinn Fein are reneging on all republican traditions – which you will find out if you have been reading the ‘Irish Socialist’. Will you look into the matter please, and as soon as possible. I would not trust those boyos with two yards of a clothes line. Write to Michael O’Riordan and get the full story. Hope to leave here on May 12. Yours sincerely, Betty Sinclair.”
I wrote back and told her that D.O’Hagan was a seafarer, which is what Pat O’Donohue and his brother who brought us the money said. I must confess that I suspected the donation came from the brother, who will have received a big sum in redundancy money after losing his public house. But I presume Pat Bond has the address of the seaman. But I cannot see the bearded one [ie. Dessie O’Hagan, a leading member of Sinn Fein The Workers Party] trying to keep us going, especially not when Irene Brennan stays with him on every trip to Dublin and never goes near Sean Nolan or Michael O’Riordan. Indeed there would be no need for Sinn Fein the Workers Party to try to get a basis in GB – they have one already, in the top echelons of the CPGB! And a disgraceful story it is, too, which I put down entirely to their incorrigible chauvinism. I told Betty Sinclair that I would have thought she knew us better.
April 22 Friday: I got quite a deal done in the garden, though the weather is still damnably cold.
April 23 Saturday: I had intended to go to London today, but as there were no sales arranged, I decided to stay and continue work in the garden.
April 24 Sunday: I continued in the garden. Today is an anniversary I would as well not have. It is of the death of CEG [ie. his father]. As I was born on his birthday, I am now exactly the age he was when he died.
April 25 Monday (London): As if to mark the thirty years that are up there was trouble this morning. I got out of bed and when I put my foot down there was a searing pain in the small toe of my left foot. If it had been the right joint, I would have diagnosed gout. And most of the morning I was hobbling about. But I came to London nevertheless, and I think I managed to “contain” it.
April 26 Tuesday: I worked on the paper. In the evening I went to Fulham Branch CP where I met a Scotsman I was told afterwards was Fergus Nicholson, the notorious “hardliner”. He seemed a very decent young fellow, but is I suppose caught up in the false antithesis that has them all bemused. Only about nine people turned up, but it was not without value. At least they heard something beyond current economist claptrap.
April 27 Wednesday: I went on with the paper. I see Paisley is talking about another “strike” [seeking to emulate the Ulster Workers’ Council stoppage of 1974]. I think it is the first blunder he has made and we might see the turn of the tide as a result. In the evening Clendening, who was to have given a talk on Irish history, failed to turn up. Got cold feet, I suppose. He is a well-meaning bumbling fellow, without much sense of what is involved in anything [In fact, as was established later, he had suffered a brain haemorrhage].
April 28 Thursday: I spoke to Tony Coughlan on the phone. He tells me that the false report about the ISM [Irish Sovereignty Movement] calling a meeting of “Provisionals,” IRSP and CPI was put in the “Irish Times” by “Officials.” But how did they know? And how does he know? I spoke at South London. Starrs is giving up the chairmanship as he is now vice-president of his Union. On the way into town Pat Bond told me that the membership of the YCL is down to 1,500, and that at their recent conference they passed a resolution calling for the legalisation of the use of Indian hemp. That speaks volumes.
I had a letter from Jack Woddis after a year. We had not had a chat for a long time. Could I see him? I told him I would ring him around May 23. I wonder what has stimulated him. Possibly he saw the advertisement and was alarmed that I spoke to a “hardline” branch. Or he has heard that Eddie Cowman begins work on Monday. Or most likely, as Pat Bond thinks, and as his thoughts are always of internal party affairs, as if the world outside did not exist apart from aeroplanes to Timbuktu, it may be Irene Brennan’s scheme to set up an “Irish Advisory Committee” with the hope of securing “Sinn Fein the Workers’ Party” influence on the Connolly Association.
When I got back to the office Pat O’Donohue and Toni Curran were there. The first had not even the good manners to acknowledge my entry into the room. Eddie Cowman told me afterwards that the same happened to him. So I wondered what fresh rift had appeared in the lute. His wee girl was not with him, though Gerry Curran had told me that she would be. Also, when Toni Curran had in a letter attacked Eddie Cowman as being in her view incapable of doing the job for which we are appointing him, I replied defending him. I think he will be all right, though he has an immense amount to learn. At the same time Charlie Cunningham told me that they did an immense amount of work in the bookshop. There are people who will do good work if it is within a mutual admiration society, and the mutual admiration is kept up in part by comparing the outside world unfavourably with themselves.
I have still got the arthritis in the foot and have been eating yeast extract and generally avoiding nuclein. I would say that it is slowly improving. It is strange that what comes so quickly goes so slowly. But the weather is so cold.
April 29 Friday: I was in the office all day until evening when I was out with Chris Sullivan and Steve Huggett. Eddie Cowman came in and we discussed operations.
April 30 Saturday: I was in the office and the usual people came in, Charlie Cunningham, Eddie Cowman, Chris Sullivan, Jane Tate and Brian Crowley. Chris had had a bit of a tiff with Jim Kelly and, said Chris, “his temper was so bad that his face was demoniacal.” I am a little tired of that young man. He is not so great an addition to us that we would be wrecked if he took himself and his filthy bad temper off. When Brian Crowley came in – and incidentally he is an extraordinarily improved character – we were discussing Pat O’Donohue, whose temper is even worse, though he is more useful. I mentioned to his brother that he was a little jumpy. “It’s nothing to what he is with the family.” “Well,” said Brian Crowley, there must be a reason. “Well the reason must be within the family,” said I. “I’ve got it,” replied Brian. “Have you noticed he never shows his arms.” I had not, but others had. “Well, one time I saw him with his sleeves rolled up. One of his arms is in a dreadful state – healed now, but it’s been bad. I asked him,” Crowley went on, “’What’s wrong with your arm, Pat?’” And Pat explained that when he was a toddler a kettle of water had upset on his arm, scalding him. He was treated by the local doctor. A few years later another doctor passing saw him holding his arm in an unnatural position and went to see his mother. She told him he was always thus. The doctor had him in Galway Hospital that day, and a lengthy operation was carried out. “Now you see,” said Brian Crowley “that boy would be spoiled.” Chris Sullivan then remarked that Jim Kelly displayed the tantrums of a child. Brian Crowley told me that Egelnick made a mess of the anti-fascist demonstration.”We don’t want confrontation,” he rightly said, but he had not bothered to ascertain that Labour and Tory Councillors were coming on the protest. However, they appeared belatedly.
May 1 Sunday: We had the Standing Committee in the morning. Eddie Cowman made an opening statement which was quite good and Toni Curran, who was unwell, said she had arrived despondent, but felt cheered. She told me that West London sales were at their lowest ever, but those of Central London and South London have slightly recovered. I learned that only about 50 people attended the Michael O’ Riordan meeting in Brent and none of those were from the Connolly Association. And according to Mark Clinton, the Birmingham meeting was far from powerful.
The others went to the May Day march, but I went to Norbury, where John Jordan lives in a first-floor bachelor flat with a fair piano and shelves of scores. He is a teacher of music and mathematics, though he once worked in a factory. He had harmonised the “Soldiers’ Song” so that it sounded like the “Foggy Dew”. I got him to change that and pointed out a number of other faults. On the whole he was very obliging. He promised to take the MS to the printer, so I hope it will not be too long before I collect a few bob.
In the evening there was a most successful social evening at which I introduced Eddie Cowman. There seems to be satisfaction among the building workers at the choice. Big Maher and Larry Fennell were asking me about the Carmody split in the CPI and I was able to reassure them. Fennell then remarked that the CPGB was going “down and down”. I think that Tom Durkin dominates them, as he is prominent in Willesden, or “Brent” as it is now called. He is a hard-liner” despite his flabbiness in relation to his own country. Among those present were Charlie Cunningham, Pat Bond, Michael Ryan, David McLaughlin and many we do not often see. Eddie said a few words which went down reasonably well. Brian Crowley was there, with Geraldine, and a few from the Hornsey YCL. But I am told the YCL is down to 1,500 members.
May 2 Monday: I went to Ripley early and had to prepare alternative front pages with the Six County “strike” in view. We will not know whether it has started or not till tomorrow. I rang Jane Tate and Pat Bond to explain this.
May 3 Tuesday: The strike has started. It may be the beginning of the end for Paisley and the turn of the tide for everybody. But one is not sure whether the papers and radio are telling the truth. I spoke to Eddie Cowman on the phone. I had some days ago warned him that all kinds of people would start making approaches to him. O’Donovan has been in, Lawless’s old mate. I also warned him against proposals to visit foreign countries which he would receive. He told me today that they have started already. David McLaughlin said to him on Sunday, “Have you been abroad?”
“No I have not.”
“Well, I can get you to Romania.”
“Thanks. If I take a holiday it will be in Ireland.”
Eddie was very impressed with the speedy fulfilment of the forecast. He said that David McLaughlin is treasurer of the YCL and the embodiment of the “soft line”, but now has largesse to distribute to his friends. These trips to socialist countries are among the most demoralising factors in western socialism. And since the socialist countries are competing for support, there is a fine mess. Incidentally, Charlie Cunningham gave me a copy of a periodical, “Euro-Red”, issued by a subcommittee of Woddis’s department. It contains some confused writing by the Italians, but the French were better. The Italians have abandoned a national approach, and rely on EEC socialism if this article is to be taken as typical.
May 4 Wednesday (Dublin): I caught the 12.8 to Caergybi [ie. Holyhead] and crossed over to Dun Laoire, from which I went to 111 Meadow Grove [ie. where Anthony Coughlan lived]. Tony Coughlan met me at the boat.
May 5 Thursday: I did some work on the talk I am giving on Saturday at Liberty Hall. Tony Coughlan told me that Tomás MacGiolla, who has retired one takes it from the civil service, has gone to work full-time for Sinn Fein the Workers’ Party. Tony Coughlan has been caught up with Raymond Crotty’s cranky notion that all that is wanted to put Irish agriculture on its feet is a revaluation of the land, which could then be rated according to what Crotty thinks it ought to produce!
May 6 Friday: I saw Helga for a few minutes. She hopes to call at 124 Mount Road on 14 June on the way to Germany. I saw Daltún O Ceallaigh and he told me that the ISM had not taken up the Crotty proposal because Tony Coughlan had not been able to convince the others. He said that Tony was liable to sudden intellectual enthusiasms which he subsequently dropped. I had not noticed it especially, but undoubtedly he cocoons himself too much in his office. I heard of the National Front gains in the British elections and felt some alarm.
May 7 Saturday: I called into Liberty Hall for a few minutes to the Youth Committee seminar which Daltún O Ceallaigh had addressed at brief notice in place of Geraghty [ie. Desmond Geraghty], who had pulled out. Manus O’Riordan was there expatiating in a voice like a leaden gong [He was son of CPI leader Michael O’Riordan but subscribed to the “two-nations” view. He worked in the ITGWU Research Department]. I went for a drink and Roddy Connolly came in. He gave me a reply to a letter I sent him about O’Casey. Then I gave my talk and Roddy was very delighted. A young man of about 21 called Peter Rigney made himself known to me and offered to give a hand with sorting stuff in the museum. Later Francis Devine gave me the McMullen papers, but he behaved oddly and would not look me in the eye. I wondered if he gives them up with bad grace. He complains that the ITGWU would not type them for him. “Then I’d type them myself,” said I. This did not please him. Perhaps he can’t. Still, I think he is quite a decent young fellow. Is he in SFWP? I know he was in Clann na hEireann in London. I met the organisers of Cork, Limerick and Tipperary [ie. of those ITGWU branches].
May 8 Sunday: I stayed in all day working on the McMullen papers. I think there is a basis for a book on the Belfast strike of 1907.
May 9 Monday: Tony Coughlan and I had lunch with Eoin O Murchú and Helena Sheehan. Just to make things easy, Tom Redmond telephoned to say Michael O’Riordan could not get back in time for next Sunday’s meeting in London. Would Jimmy Stewart or Andy Barr do? No, they would not. The only acceptable one would be the Tomaisín himself. But he agreed that he would tell Michael O’Riordan he had got to come, send him a “directive”. I called on Tom, who is now in Roy Johnston’s basement [ie. in the flat there]. I met Mairin Johnston and she seems very gay and bright away from that place. Apparently Michael O’Riordan is in Warsaw and has been invited to Moscow. I rang Eddie Cowman to warn him and secure telegrams and phone-calls.
May 10 Tuesday: I saw old Seán Redmond in the shop. That dubious character Eugene Mallin was there. He told me he was “nearly in the party”. I understand he is likely to stay near. He is for ever asking where various Connolly Association people are. I spent the afternoon in Liberty Hall with the records.
May 11 Wednesday: I was part of the time in the National Library and part of the time at Liberty Hall.
May 12 Thursday: Eddie Cowman rang and described the panic in London. I went into the shop again and spoke to Sean Nolan on the phone. Tom Redmond told me they had sent Micheal O’Riordan a message. In the afternoon Peter Rigney gave me a hand in Liberty Hall.
May 13 Friday: Once again Peter Rigney assisted with the papers. he is a very serious young man, but with plenty of enthusiasm and ability. He takes his degree this October and hopes to work for a Union. He acted as Daltún O’Ceallaigh’s assistant during a vacation. But I deplore this system of vacation work. It means nobody today gets an all-round education. Tony Coughlan, who had been at a meeting with Behal – whom, as presently the most civilised of the “Provisionals”, they are trying to politicise – met me in Mooneys and we went for dinner at Eoin O Murchú’s. Noel Harris came. He told me that when he first voiced his suspicions of Irene Brennan at the E.C. of the CPI, he quoted what I had told him. There were loud cries of dissent. I was not too pleased to learn that I had been quoted. “What do they say now?” I asked. They are all agreed – except Edwina Stewart. Apparently there is a bad situation there, which some hope Betty Sinclair will improve. But Noel doubts it, “She’s too far gone.” I fear this is true. Harris told me that Seamus Collins in Birmingham has applied to join the CPGB. Michael O’Riordan objected and had a discussion with Frank Watters and Sean Kenny. Helena Sheehan was upset because Lawrence and Wishart have rejected a book they commissioned from John Hoffman, and by all accounts he is very dejected. Apparently the main objection came from Chater [ie. “Morning Star” editor Tony Chater]. So much for freedom for dissidents.
May 14 Saturday (Liverpool): I went to Dunlaoire, Caergybi, Chester, and back to 124 Mount Road. Quite a deal of mail awaited me, including a letter from Taplin [Eric Taplin, Liverpool labour historian].
May 15 Sunday (London): I went to London and spoke at the meeting. Michael O’Riordan arrived but was not good. He was tired. Perhaps I’d have been better with Tom Redmond after all. But as for myself, I was very sick after the meeting and had to retire to the office and drink tea and whiskey.
May 16 Monday (Liverpool): Early in the morning Michael O’Riordan came into the office. We seem to agree on most things. He told me that he objected to Seamus Collins being allowed in the CPGB and promises to protest. He thinks, like myself, that Irene Brennan is probably a SFWP agent. I gather that somebody from the North was at the Birmingham discussion. But was it Mark Clinton? Our meeting was as big as the Surrey one of Michael’s previous series, and substantially bigger than the others. I went on to Liverpool later in the day.
May 17 Tuesday: I still did not feel too well. I am wondering whether the virus that was circulating in Dublin has struck me.
May 18 Wednesday: I was still below par but got a bit done. The weather is still cold but not quite so bad. Eddie Cowman rang up. Irene Brennan had invited him to see her on Monday. He was agreeable to meet her yesterday. But she rang him in considerable excitement to bring it forward. Now the reason that Michael O’Riordan went to Warsaw was that Seán O Cionnaith [Sean Kenny] was there on behalf of SFWP and was up to plenty of tricks. The British have made excuses for not publishing the Irish criticisms of the SFWP economic document, which Irene Brennan is defending [ie. “The Irish Industrial Revolution”]. And Sean Kenny came to our meeting. The hurry must have been because she had to report to his lordship. Anyway, she asked Eddie Cowman if he would come on to the Irish Committee. He replied that she already had Pat Bond and Clendening – though he has suffered a brain haemorrhage and is in hospital. Then she asked him if he would become a member of the NCCL “advisory committee”. He astutely replied that he would have to consult his Executive. She then asked how was the CA doing and he replied that it was booming! The intriguing bitch! She has got a committee taking decisions for the NCCL that has on it people who are not even members. And these people talk of democracy in socialist states, when they take it for granted they have the right to subvert the democracy of organisations in front of them! However, I had told Eddie that this would happen and he was prepared.
May 19 Thursday: Today it was fine at last. I managed to do a little in the garden though I still do not feel powerful. I forgot to note a few days ago that I heard in Dublin that James Klugman is retiring from “Marxism Today” and some young college boy is taking over [ie. Martin Jacques, who became the magazine’s last editor]. And Michael O’Riordan told me that Jack Woddis is also retiring and, of all people Gerry Cohen is taking his place. Everywhere we see the triumph of the self-advertising second rate.
May 20 Friday: The fine weather continues and I continued operations in the garden. Of course it only has to stop raining for a day for the ground to get too dry!
May 21 Saturday: Another fine day though still chilly. I got some more work done in the garden.
May 22 Sunday: I continued in the garden and have the back and side planted for the most part with vegetables. But I fear for the seedlings.
May 23 Monday (London): I left for London on the 12.4 train and came into the office and started work on the paper.
May 24 Tuesday: I continued to work on the paper. A few days ago I had a letter from Michael Mullen saying that Roddy Connolly had been so impressed by my lecture at Liberty Hall that he suggested the ITGWU should reprint it as a pamphlet. I typed it out on Sunday and sent it off yesterday. I don’t know if they will do it.
May 25 Wednesday: I called into Lawrence and Wishart and took them McMullen’s MS to look at. Skelly told me somewhat airily that they had “abandoned” the project of reprinting Tone. But I have no reason to worry about that. I am left with an excuse to consider other publishers for the history of the ITGWU, though I would prefer to give Lawrence and Wishart first refusal. I am not sorry to have my hands freed a little. I then went on to see Jack Woddis. I do not know what he wanted to tell me or what he wanted to know. And I am wondering whether he is not perhaps a little lost. As far as I’m concerned he can be lost, for I doubt if anybody could knock sense into them. First he says that Michael O’Riordan is pressing him to start a National Irish Advisory Committee. But Michael O’Riordan told me the opposite. Michael told me he had pressed for the carrying out of the decision to hold a meeting of himself, myself and Woddis. But today Woddis avoided the topic. I asked him if he was going to retire. For a time he avoided answering. Then he said it was “not true”. I suspect that he is going to change his job but will not be frank. Whom of the two has deceived me in this, I do not know. But I will form my opinion when I learn the truth. I told him I had no time for advisory committees that don’t advise but meddle with the democracy of organisations whose leaders have to be elected. I told him there was an “unsolved political problem” and he asked me if I could formulate it. I declined. I want them round a table. But I know what it is. It is the flat refusal of the Six-County communists to cooperate in any moves towards a United Ireland. And the refusal of the British to challenge them for fear of losing support in the Trade Union movement. So from the start everybody is committed to a form of empirical opportunism.
He told me that Milliband’s crowd were holding a seminar [Ralph Milliband, academic Marxist sociologist], and that Irene Brennan had intended to go but was sick. A pity she isn’t permanently sick! He had rung Eddie Cowman to ask if I would go. But Eddie did not know who Milliband was. “They all say he’s a raw lad,” says Woddis, ” Cowman’s a good name. He’d be better with cows.” I told him that the Irish name Cowman or Comyn had nothing to do with cows. Incidentally Irene Brennan rang him twice asking him to be a member of her Irish Advisory Committee. He declined. Then this young fellow from the NCCL rang up to say that Irene Brennan suggested he should join al NCCL advisory committee. We met Millner [of the NCCL] for lunch yesterday. He is an Englishman of about 24, probably a modern university product with a fair bump of self-admiration. We did not like the proposal. But we learned that the Committee includes Irene Brennan, Jo Richardson, Kath Scorer and Jaqueline Kaye, now a hardline Provisional and wife of Roland Kennedy. However, my feeling is that Irene Brennan is acquiring new playthings and is tiring of the Irish Question. When Pat Bond went to the International Committee she was not there three times running, and on the last occasion he was the only one who turned up. I told him not to go, but he is too conscientious.
May 26 Thursday: I was busy all day on the paper, completed it and sent it off. In the evening Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham and others came in.
May 27 Friday: I had hoped to get to Colindale, but there was too much to be done at the office. Eddie Cowman is intelligent and willing, but his spelling does not improve and it is a serious handicap. At 3.30 Jane Tate appeared, and then of all people Finbar O’Doherty. He is going to the Peace Committee Conference tomorrow. Frank Small is another and he sees Eddie Cowman betimes. He says they are on their last legs. But I cannot understand how things were allowed to reach such a pass. It is the same with everything. Incidentally, another fact is worth recording. The young fellow Millner told us that he was in Belfast in February and spent most of his time with the “Protestant Civil Rights Society”, whose name he mentioned.
May 28 Saturday: The usual people came in, Eddie, Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham. I was in Hammersmith in the evening with Gerry Curran. At a jumble sale Central London branch held in the afternoon Brian Crowley was there. He had a set-to with Eddie Cowman, for the latter was criticising the draft “British Road to Socialism”. “I thought you were a moderate,” says Crowley “Who have you been mixing with?” There is still a certain schadenfreude about Crowley. He spoke of Sinn Fein’s stomping the country for a split, and spoke of the tragedy of losing a third of the members, and the financial consequences and the possible loss of the “Star” [ie. the “Morning Star” daily newspaper]. He would not like to see these things, but he likes to contemplate misfortune. On the other hand he opposes the Irish plank and thinks the London District Committee [ie. of the CPGB] the most useless collection of incompetents known to man.
May 29 Sunday: We held a Standing Committee which Pat O’Donohue attended and was all sweetness and light. It is indeed Toni Curran who has the evil effect on him. She told me she was going selling with him tonight, but later said she was not and I could tell something had happened. Now she was not here this morning. Perhaps he decided to go out with his fiancée. I posted a criticism of the Irish plank to “Comment”[a CPGB newsletter].
May 30 Monday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley where all went smoothly and then came on to Liverpool.
May 31 Tuesday: In the evening Fred Brown came in and told me that his house was burgled on Saturday. Entry was gained through a window on the first floor. But there was no sign of damage to tiles on the roof below. This indicates a ladder. They suspect the window cleaner, as a lock of jet-black hair was found. This individual was there on Saturday morning and knew that I was out and that Mrs Marsden and the Browns were away for the day. So nothing would be easier. But I do not think it is the same man who burgled this house. I never saw him in blue jeans and I don’t think he would attack in the evening. But who knows?
June 1 Wednesday: The warm dry weather continues, and conditions of drought approach again. One would never expect it a third year running. There may well be something in the theory that the circulation of circulation in the atmosphere has undergone a temporary retardation. The wind has been constant from the East for a fortnight or more. I did some work in the garden.
June 2 Thursday: A copy of a magazine was probably sent by Tony Coughlan. There was a picture in it of Justin Keating and another Minister, plus the Provost of TCD, FSL Lyons, celebrating the establishment of the Industrial Liaison Department by Roy Johnston. Roy will be like a dog with two tails. Hollywood at last! I think his overt politics may soon do another disappearing trick. Would he join the Labour Party, or Fianna Fail, or Carmody’s group? We will see.
June 3 Friday: The fine weather continues but the air is still cool. I lightly sprayed the hot earth so that warm water would penetrate and I think by this means I got up some squashes and courgettes, which were slow germinating.
June 4 Saturday: I did more in the garden but there have been heavy delays this year and I only began on the front today. The weather looks like breaking.
June 5 Sunday (London): It was bright and fine when I left for London but was cold and cloudy when I got there. I saw Eddie Cowman for a few minutes. All seems to be reasonable but Jim Kelly seems to have quit after a quarrel with Chris Sullivan.
June 6 Monday: We held our summer school in the afternoon. Flan Campbell was there with Mary, and Seamus Deane spoke [Seamus Deane, 1940-2021, poet, novelist, critic and intellectual historian]. There was a most successful social evening afterwards. with Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Eddie Cowman – oh, about 80 of them. The weather is cool and damp.
June 7 Tuesday: The school went on, Anthony Cronin and myself speaking [Anthony Cronin, 1928-2016, poet, critic, political activist and inspirer of the State Aosdana scheme for honouring Irish artists]. In the evening I did a little on the new paper, which Gerry Curran is to complete.
June 8 Wednesday (Liverpool): I worked on the paper till late afternoon and then returned to Liverpool on the 4.50 pm. The weather is cool and damp again.
June 9 Thursday: It was too cool and wet for gardening by the time I had finished everything else. But I did a little on O’Casey.
June 10 Friday: A miserable wet day and cold. It rained all day. I did some clearing up and a little on O’Casey.
June 11 Saturday: Another day just as bad, a keen East wind blowing, I went on with the cleaning as I have Helga coming on Tuesday. I spoke to Tony Coughlan. His mother expects shortly to be out of hospital. I learned from Eddie Cowman that Kevin Byrne is trying to locate me. For the second day I had to light a coal fire.
June 12 Sunday: A miracle – a warm day contrary to all the weather forecasts. I started on the garden at 9.30 and apart from a couple of breaks for meals was at it continuously till 9.30 pm. I had a word with Fred Brown. He tells me that the black-haired window cleaner, whom he suspects of the burglary, has disappeared out of the town!
June 13 Monday: Back again to the rain and the north-east winds and one crack of thunder. Cold thunder is the great distinguishing mark of this year. In the finest years it was not thunder at all, and usually not till August. I could do little in the garden. But in the evening I joined the Birkenhead History Society’s trip on the Royal Iris. We went through the entire dock estate, emerging at Seafort container terminal. I saw only one Liverpool ship all the way through. But there were many from Sweden, Russia, China, Brazil and a couple from London. I got the impression of very slack trade. And as well as all else, the oil trade is leaving the Mersey, while the small ships they closed their docks on are running up to Runcorn and Manchester.
June 14 Tuesday: At about 7.30 am. appeared Helga [ie. Helga MacLiam from Dublin], Cathal’s niece who stayed with them, Bebhinn and little Killian. It was not five minutes before the last discovered that there were a gong and a handbell in the house. The rain had stopped but it was still threatening. They go to Cathal’s sister Maire, who is married to Dave Goodman in Stoke-on-Trent. They left at about 10.30. There is not much news. Tony Coughlan is said to be “putting on weight” from too much sitting in his office. But Cathal is losing it thanks to an access of abstemiousness and cycling every weekend. I will doubtless see the phenomenon. The niece has her head well screwed on. Killian tried to swipe her handbag and she gave him such a resounding box on the “popo” that he was glad to seek an honourable compromise. Finula is quarrelling with Cathal and wants to go back to London and live in a “squat”. Nobody can understand her.
June 15 Wednesday: At last another fine day. I spent about 9 hours in the garden and made some difference, re-sowed seeds where the drought and torrents had destroyed previous work and thinned and weeded. I planted a specimen of Atropa Belladonna. When ten years ago I planted a bay tree, Mrs Stewart commented that I should be able to observe how the wicked flourish. So perhaps with the deadly nightshade I will see an exemplification of the human principle, the more poisonous the more successful. Pat Bond telephoned. Michael O’Halloran, MP for Islington, has written to me asking to join the Connolly Association. “What’s the purpose of this?” I asked.
“Oh – there may be no purpose.”
“Well, he refused to meet our Central Branch a week or two ago.”
“A month or two ago.”
” Same thing. Is he now convinced his seat is marginal?”
“It was Charlie Cunningham’s fault he didn’t see them.”
“Hm. Nothing happens without a reason.”
So there is the innocent, hard-working dedicated Pat Bond, who just cannot see the motives that activate people. I told him that O’Halloran could change his mind in a week or forget all about it. I said I would think it over before falling on his neck. The letter was personal to me.
June 16 Thursday (Dublin): I went by the usual route to Dun Laoire, nothing untoward occurring and was met by Tony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear. A few days ago came a magazine showing Roy Johnston, Justin Keating and the provost of TCD. I thought Tony had sent it as a joke. But he had not. We could only come to the conclusion that Roy must have sent it himself.
June 17 Friday: Daltún O Ceallaigh telephoned and I met him at lunch. He told me that Micheál O Loingsigh has got very wobbly on the EEC thing and wants somebody to go up for the so-called “European Parliament” next year, possibly himself. They are having awful trouble with him. Fintan Kennedy of the ITGWU would also like to be in Brussels. But his hopes are now dashed, for Labour is doing badly in the election and Justin Keating has lost his seat.
In the evening I called up to Cathal’s and we went for a drink. Egon [The eldest of Cathal MacLiam’s three sons] told me that Roy Johnston had been looking for me, but I went for a drink with Cathal, after which he went into town to meet somebody. Quite late Roy rang. There was some party at his house. I had not been invited, so did not go – though to be sure Roy was probably seeking me with an invitation. But Cathal, though invited, had not gone. So Roy wanted to know if Cathal was with me. He was not. Where was he? I did not know. If I’d asked him no doubt he would have told me, but I didn’t ask. I suspect that Cathal was not anxious to drink Yugoslavian wine. When Tony Coughlan came back – he too had not gone – he told me that perhaps Roy was trying to change his “image” from that of a miser into something more amiable, because everybody was keeping out of his way and he was beginning to feel “out of it”. The trouble is that he has not grown up, and at 46 or 47 or more behaves just as he did when he was 18, starting impossible hares at every meeting. Experience has taught him nothing. And when people do not go he suspects a plot!
[On reading the Journal in 2002, Roy Johnston asked the editor to attach the following note after these entries:
“CDG visits Dublin again on June 16 1977, noting in passing that someone had sent him a copy of a magazine with a photo of the present writer, Justin Keating and the Provost of TCD. ‘He thought AC had sent it as a joke, but he had not. RHWJ must have sent it himself…’
The occasion was a small reception held for the launch of a directory I had compiled of scientific and engineering contacts in TCD who were available for applied-scientific work on contract, this being the objective in setting up the ‘industrial liaison office’, which I then occupied. Justin at the time was the relevant Minister, and he obliged me by coming along in support. Applied-research consultancy, industrial problem-solving, and sponsored masters degree programmes related to the needs of the emerging Irish-based high-technology sector, were a service increasingly provided by the College. Some purists objected to this, but it has increasingly been seen as a useful service, and I was a pioneer in the field. The fact that CDG chooses to sneer at this activity underlines the extent to which he had managed to decouple himself from his own applied-scientific roots, where he had once worked reputably.
The following day, June 17 1977, he devotes a whole mean-minded entry to the attempted assassination of the character of the present writer, which says a lot about CDG. He had indeed succeeded in freezing me out from his coterie of admirers, and recorded this triumphantly. ‘Everybody is keeping out of his way…’ Indeed! I had in fact noticed this among certain elements of the CDG coterie, with some amusement, but did not miss them… RHW Johnston 9-1-2002”]
June 18 Saturday: I met Noel Harris on Barton Road and he invited me to his party at the ICTU in Limerick. I saw Manus O’Riordan, dapper and moustachioed, selling BICO [British and Irish Communist Organisation] literature outside the GPO. Everybody is delighted with the election results [in which Fianna Fail had resoundingly defeated the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition and Labour TDs Conor Cruise O’Brien and Justin Keating had lost their seats].
June 19 Sunday: Tony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear were going cycling and invited myself and Cathal to accompany them. It was a cool dry day with a NE wind, and as mine was out of order I had to borrow one of Conor’s bicycles. We went out beyond Finglas, around Dunsink. Muriel told me that her brother is married to Ailbh Monahan’s adopted daughter, I think a refugee child from Germany. But she does not get on with Mrs Monahan at all. A pity. she was at Roy Johnston’s party and she was sorry for Janice, who had apparently gone to some trouble, as only about six people came, among them Anthony Cronin. She also said Roy was in this making his first attempt to change his “image”. But nobody believed it would change!
June 20 Monday: I spent some time in Liberty Hall. Daltún O Ceallaigh rang. He says the finance department have no trace of my account! Serious! A brilliant sunset tonight.
June 21 Tuesday: In the afternoon I saw Sean Nolan, who forecast dire happenings in the British CP. In the evening Tony Coughlan, Michael O Riordan, Tom Redmond and Anthony Cronin met Behal and others in their discussions, which it was hoped might bring about a ceasefire. There was no agreement, though the “Provisionals” are anxious to politicise themselves. They are, says Tony Coughlan, all fine upstanding young men, in late twenties or early thirties, nothing even resembling the barbarians they are described as, but completely wedded to physical force. They were always the same, and while I do not know this generation, I remember their predecessors. The weather has taken up suddenly. Today was brilliant and cloudless. The change was quite startling, and instantaneously out came the summer clothes that were mandatory last year. There are also a large number of youngsters going cycling.
June 22 Wednesday: Another cloudless day. I had lunch with Daltún O Ceallaigh again. He told me that Justin Keating is going up for the Senate – Carla told him. On the phone Toni Curran told me that they sold £150 worth of books at the “People’s Jubilee”. Many people spoke to them asking if there was not any literature explaining the situation in Ireland and how it got into such a mess. She told them there was not, since my book is now out of print. I was in the basement of Liberty Hall on the O’Brien papers.
June 23 Thursday: I had letters from Colm Power and Jim O’Regan and Pat Powell phoned at 6 pm. I am arranging to go to Cork and Galway.
June 24 Friday: I finished sorting the O’Brien papers. It was interesting to find correspondence relating to the death of Lillie Reynolds in 1938. The children got £137 each. Aideen complained that the others never darkened her door and demanded her full rights, then relinquished an insurance policy in favour of Roddy. There were slight spelling errors in her letters. It is a pity I never contacted Aideen. She married a labourer, if I remember aright, and for a time lived in Birmingham. She had no ambitions.
Tony Coughlan and I had lunch with Eoin O Murchú and Helena O Murchú (or Sheehan as she insists on calling herself). She thinks the CPGB split will be confined to Surrey. She likes the exuberance of the “Communist University” – and of course, because all young people love talking. The world is thought to be infinite because its boundaries have not been seen. We went to the Abbey in the evening, to a deplorable play in the modern expressionist style. O’Casey is the soul of optimism in comparison.
June 25 Saturday: Eddie Cowman rang up. A man called Peter Sheridan had shown up. What was he like? Cathal said “all right”, so I passed this on. I saw Sean Redmond Senior and he said that until recently the CPI was “a few grey-heads talking,” but now it contained young and active people. In the evening Cathal and Daltún came, and Micheál O’Loingsigh. He said we must have some anti-EEC voice in the European Assembly and I had to think of an alternative quick. I think I got him off it. I suggested a conference to consider the effects it had had. Perhaps the ITGWU might be willing to help. Cathal thought the Dublin Council might. And, said I, possibly they could influence somebody who was anxious to go up anyway, for example Kennedy. There is a feeling in some quarters that they “lurch from one seminar to another”.
June 26 Sunday: I stayed in most of the day, but later on Cathal and Daltún O Ceallaigh came out. The children are going off to Germany.
June 27 Monday (Limerick): I went to Limerick in the morning, called at the ITGWU office and met Colm Power. We went out to the Limerick Inn and later Pat Powell and Daltún O Ceallaigh arrived. Then I realised that I was losing my voice and getting a filthy cold, I think from the dust in the basement of Liberty Hall.
June 28 Tuesday: I went to the ICTU but left at midday to make calls. Peter Rigney was there selling Labour History Society pamphlets and I met the usual people. At Noel Harris’s party I had a word with Harold Binks [Vice-PresIdent of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and Northern Ireland Labour Party member] and Denis Larkin [son of James Larkin]. I also met Sheila Conroy [widow of former ITGWU President John Conroy], Donal Nevin and so on. Michael Mullen wanted me to come to the dinner tomorrow, but I want to go to Cork.
June 29 Wednesday (Cork): I went to the Congress but could hardly speak. While speaking with Micheal Mullen and Mulhall, the president, who should I see but Bill Allen, one time of Glasgow. He is here for some Union he has got affiliated in respect of its Irish membership. Then I went to Cork. I stayed with Jim O’Regan, who has not been too well. A friend of his came in and insisted on driving us to Crosshaven, where he has a cottage. And I lost my voice entirely from having to answer questions in the car and speak above the noise of the engine.
June 30 Thursday: I went to the County Library and to Daly’s bookshop and to Connolly Hall. O’Mahony drove me out to Ballycotton to see Liam Beecher, who is a bit of a historian. In the evening Jim Savage came. Jim O’Regan was in good form and said that Eoin O’Mahony used always to go to see Bulmer Hobson [Jim O’Regan, who had fought with the International Brigade in Spain, was imprisoned with others in Britain during World War 2 for IRA activity. Eoin “The Pope” O’Mahony, and the Connolly Association campaigned for the release of these IRA prisoners after the war. Desmond Greaves used stay with Jim O’Regan and his mother whenever he visited Cork. O’Regan was active in Cork Republican and leftwing circles for decades]. I said I was convinced that Hobson was wronged by public opinion, but that it was his own fault because he never defended himself. O’Mahony tried to get me some papers which were said to be in the basement of the old premises. They consisted of correspondence between the ITGWU and Countess Markievicz. When he looked for the old sack in which they had been deposited, he found they were missing. I’ve still a filthy cold, and will go back to Dublin on the 5.30 tomorrow. Jim O’Regan told me that when he came out of jail he found the Republican Movement split as badly as it is now, and that as he had been away for years and was considered neutral, he took in upon himself to re-unite it and rebuild it. He has mixed feelings about his efforts when he thinks of things today.
July 1 Friday (Dublin): I saw a few more people. The cold is just slightly better, and I think it is on the turn. But I adhered to my intention and returned to Dublin without going back to Limerick.
July 2 Saturday: I spent some time sorting out the material I brought from Cork but did little else. The weather is hot and dry again.
July 3 Sunday: Cathal and Daltún O Ceallaigh and Tony Coughlan and I cycled to Enniskerry. Then Cathal and Daltún went to Killiney.
July 4 Monday: I went into town and spent the best part of the day in the National Library.
July 5 Tuesday (Galway): I’m only beginning to speak normally again. I went to Galway and met Pat Powell, Seán Meade and Fursey Breathnach. The weather has turned very hot. Pat Powell told me that the reason he left Coventry was connected with pressure being brought on him, I think by Harry Bourne, to pronounce himself against the Russians’ action in Czechoslovakia. His position grew untenable, so he got out. I would say he is a very “hard”-liner. He introduced me to a Labour Party student who reads the “Militant”. The confusion was woeful! Apparently the mentors of the Irish young Labour people are the British Labour Party Young Socialists. It is clear that the “population explosion” we see walking the streets does not to slightest degree ensure a leftward swing. The youth are so easily carried away, so easily diverted, and I think that there are those with the means to divert them.
July 6 Wednesday: I met the most remarkable man I have so far come across. His name is Bartley Kane. He came into the office to see me and within five minutes I could see that here was a man of intelligence, able to stress the important and ignore the irrelevant. He had gone up as a Labour candidate some years ago and narrowly missed election. He told me he considered the most historic part of Ireland Wexford and Kilkenny and he read everything about it that he could. He gave students from the University “grinds” in history. His parents came from Connemara and he stresses that Galway people were pro-British, and the politics of the town were transformed by the arrival of countrymen in the boom of the thirties.
July 7 Thursday (Dublin): I took the early train back to Dublin and spent afternoon and evening in the National Library.
July 8 Friday: I spent another day the same way.
July 9 Saturday: I went to the bookshop and saw Sean Redmond Senior and Mrs Redmond, who says she would prefer to be living in London. But I think this is because of Pat’s suicide. Later I had talk with Michael O’Riordan. He told me that when he could get no sense from Frank Watters about Seamus Collins’s application to join the CP, which he told them to reject, he reported to his Executive Committee. On their instructions he wrote to Gordon McLennan saying that the admission of Clann na hEireann people into the CPGB was an “interference with the anti-imperialist movement in Ireland” and regarded as an unfriendly act. He received a reply from Woddis saying it would be discussed at the E.C., which is today. “The split’s coming over there,” he declared. “It’s out in the open now“[ie. the split that led to the departure of Sid French and others connected with the Surrey CPGB and which led to the formation of the “New Communist Party”]. The “Officials” are as bad as ever and he has brought out a pamphlet containing the polemics. He asked me to review it and I will. He had discussed the polemics with poor Bert Ramelson, who considered it a “faulty representation of economic policy”. Ramelson only skimmed it, was not interested, and could not see the abandonment of the whole national position. He said that the policy of the “Officials” towards the CPGB was one of “entryism” (the Trotsky term for working within the Labour Party). And like me he thinks Irene Brennan is one of them. Now if the time comes when they try to get rid of them, they will be accused of being anti-Irish! Tony Coughlan went to Cork.
July 10 Sunday: In the morning Eddie Cowman rang. He said they sold £25 worth of books at the “Communist University”. The speaker on Ireland was Colin Lowe from the Six Counties and there was a talk on Connolly. Pat Bond was in the chair. I believe the confusion was chaotic. At 5 pm. Cathal called and we cycled out to near the Hellfire Club. Later Noel Harris called after Tony Coughlan was back and said the Northern section of the CPI acted as if it were a separate party. He blames the “two silly bitches”, Edwina Stewart and Madge Davison. But I place as much blame on Jimmy Stewart, whom I consider a disaster. I am quite sure that if the rift develops the CPGB will try to win over the Six-County people and set them against the South. Harris says that people like Andy Barr are so busy with practical things that they do not get time to think.
July 11 Monday: I was in the National Library and in Liberty Hall collecting material to take back with me tomorrow.
July 12 Tuesday (Liverpool): I took a taxi to Dun Laoire and returned to Liverpool via Holyhead and Chester. The garden has run wild. I started to tame it.
July 13 Wednesday: I worked on in the garden. And that was about all I had time for. Fortunately, the weather is still dry, though cloudier.
July 14 Thursday: Another day spent in the garden. I have raised seedlings that I have not succeeded with before and have pumpkins and cucumbers flourishing. The gooseberries and blackcurrants are excellent.
July 15 Friday: Another day in the garden. I have brought some kind of apology for order into it.
July 16 Saturday (London): I came to London in the afternoon and went to Hammersmith with Jim McDonald, who has become more active with the CA of late. He tells me that Sid French is launching his breakaway this weekend. So the split has come. I saw Alan Bush’s name in one of Sid French’s meetings. I hope that will not happen too. It could wreck the Workers Music Association. And Eddie Cowman tells me that Charlie Cunningham and Michael Ryan are talking nonsense about alignment with the “Provisionals”.
July 17 Thursday: I was in the office in the morning and checked things over with Eddie Cowman. he thinks Charlie is a wee bit jealous of him. Certainly he seems a bit frustrated. But Eddie tells me Mark Clinton is in full swing in Birmingham.
In the evening we had a “seminar” on Partition. I shocked Desmond Starrs by implying a criticism of his Union’s recruiting campaigns in Ireland. The attitude of the whole of the British Labour movement to Ireland is totally imperialist. They would not go recruiting in France.
Leslie Morton was there at the beginning. “They’ve left,” he said gleefully. He had been with Klugman all afternoon and news was being phoned to him. A new “party” had been started called the “New Communist Party”, with Sid French as leader. “It will last six months,” I told Leslie Morton. I asked why they did not wait till the Congress. He told me that they were being hauled over the coals for stumping the country for a rejection of the programme and decided to pull out before they were thrown out. I thought it might be for the best, since no longer can the “hard line” be represented by Sid French’s caricature. On the other hand it may lead to every criticism of the “soft” being regarded as treachery. Leslie Morton said the only danger was that the Russians might recognise Sid French’s party. “They’d hardly do that,” said I. “Oh – I hope not – but you can’t be sure. They did something like that in Australia. “But”, he went on, “it would make no difference to us. We’re still the Communist Party.” Jane Tate thought him the personification of optimism. But nothing can be done. They must try it out and see what happens. If the extreme right do not attempt a devastating blow against the whole movement, it will only be because they do not fear it enough in the medium term to wish to change the basis of politics.
There was quite a good gathering. Pat Hensey was there, Flann and Mary Campbell, and Michael Crowe on a visit from Newcastle, Tadhg Egan, Charlie Cunningham, Eddie Cowman – about 35 in all. Afterwards Charlie told me that Joe Parker, one of Sid French’s supporters, told him that the meeting had issued a press statement embargoed till Tuesday, but I guess that Chater would have those willing to tell him what occurred, and the “Morning Star” will publish it tomorrow to prevent the faithful from being under the necessity of reading Sid French’s official statement.
July 18 Monday: In the morning Michael Crowe came in and told me of the position in Newcastle, which is as deplorable as anywhere else. He thinks that Gordon McLennan and the rest of them are obsessed with the idea of numbers. They go on their holidays to Italy and see a “mass party” and declare “we want to be one of those” and fly to the teachings of Gramsci. He says that nobody under the age of 45 has any real political education, as the present generation think it does not matter.
Later Jane Tate came in and told me that Sid French had taken 3/4 of Surrey, half Sussex and less of Hampshire. So it is a South of England movement, with Sid French at the centre. They are starting a paper of their own. I recall Sid French when he and Charlie Broad came into my room to discuss an educational plan, and stumped off indignantly with, “I’m going to get out on the streets.” He has done exactly the same again. But this time he’ll not get back off them. I learn that it was proposed to incorporate all the GLC areas of Surrey in London at the end of next year, so that either he must try to be an influence in his lost territories, something not easy, or resign himself to an agricultural area. I see very little to be hopeful about.
Jane Tate told me that at the end of a confused session on Ireland at the “People’s Jubilee” she heard Irene Brennan tell people who wanted to do anything about Ireland, they should join the CP or Clann na hEireann. Now this would be before Micheael O’Riordan wrote. Also Eddie Cowman tells me that she is still courting him and has invited him to dinner, even though she vetoed Pat Bond at this same session.
I was thinking about Asmal. Sean Redmond told me at Limerick that he was out of the Civil Liberties Presidency and did not attend the conference. The sequence may have been first Cosgrave’s [ie. Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave] speech about “blow-ins”, then Asmal’s proposal that the Portlaoise prisoners should be transferred to the Curragh, followed by a revolt by his own committee that had not been consulted, and his own resignation. Now it looks as if, now he has his Irish citizenship papers, he is wooing the Establishement, and it may be that the attack on myself was a straw in the same wind.
July 19 Tuesday: I worked all day on the paper.
July 20 Wednesday: I finished the paper to all intents and purposes. In the evening at the Central London branch meeting there were Charlie Cunningham, Eddie Cowman, Jane Tate, Michael Ryan, Michael Crowe, Jim McDonald and a few more, including a young fellow, Noel Moynihan, who is sharing a flat with the others. Leo Clendening is about again and was there on Sunday. But he is a sadly reduced man, and it would not surprise me if he was not long for this world. Steve Huggett and Jim McDonald are to start up house together in East London. Chris Sullivan has left his wife [ie. temporarily, while she was out of the country] and is living with Eddie Cowman, Jim McDonald and Noel Moynihan, who has joined them. There is a little nucleus establishing itself, but I get the impression that Charlie Cunningham feels himself out of it. he is now about 40, the others are in their middle twenties. Bobby Heatley was at the meeting.
July 21 Thursday: I was in the office most of the day. In the evening I went to South London but only two turned up. When Pat Bond is away they let everything slide.
July 22 Friday: I was in the office during the day but called in to Skelly to get MacMullan’s manuscript off him. He will not publish it. He was talking about Sid French and I told him it would last six months. One thing alarmed me, but what is the use of bothering one’s head. He said that if he were Sid French he would not pull out all his boys, but leave some behind to work their mischief within. He went the length of suggesting that young Fergus Nicholson was one of them. I told him that he had given me quite a favourable impression in the few minutes’ conversation I had with him. So now we have notice served on us that there may be a witch-hunt against anybody who ever said anything that sounded like something Sid French said. He said French is not of the calibre to form a new party. I entirely agree. Whether some others are of the calibre to preserve one, we will see.
I was in Hammersmith with Noel Moynihan, a very nice promising young man, about 25. Eddie Cowman is gathering a group of them round him.
July 23 Saturday: I had a letter from Jock Stallard about a prisoner in Winchester called Duffy. He was involved in the Hull riot and the authorities have devised a method of multiplying punishments. It is quite simple. Though there is a limit to the amount of solitary confinement that can be inflicted, they have decided that the limit applies only to one charge. So they have charged the man with twenty offences and so give him twenty times the punishment. Stallard sent me a copy of a letter he had received from Lord Harris giving details of this pleasant exercise. And by a coincidence there was a letter from Jo Richardson to Pat Bond on the same subject suggesting a visit. Now Sister Sarah, a splendid woman who works for PROP [ie. the Prisoners and Relatives of Prisoners campaign]and who I hope will not be disillusioned, came in to bring some copies of the booklet written by Father Faul. Eddie Cowman suggested finding out from her who Duffy’s parents were. She came in to me and said, “His real name is Mooney, and his father who is in Dublin knows you well, as he used to be in the Connolly Association.” Now it could hardly be John (or Pat) Mooney, as I met his sons. They were fine stable youngsters, I think in the Connolly Youth. I phoned Cathal who rang Mairin Johnston [whose maiden name was Mooney] and she came through saying it was Stephen’s son [ie. her brother Stephen; hence the young prisoner was her nephew], which I had rather expected. She told me that the parents had been refused permission to visit him. I told her to apply again and wrote to Stallard suggesting he find out why they had been refused.
I was out with Chris Sullivan. He says Pegeen is out of work, and I suggested that Jane Tate might get her into the University. Bobby Heatley came in during the afternoon. He is thinking of rejoining the CPI. He tells me that John McClelland is very disillusioned, cynical and bitter. He took risks and lost his job with Gallachers. At the same time every August, at the height of the excitement and danger, the Stewarts and most other CPI people were away holidaying in Eastern Europe. Naturally he grew dissatisfied with these contemptible people, the silly stuck-up Jimmy Stewart living for applause, cheap intriguing little Edwina. And into the bargain their Republican allies [ie.the Official Republicans] were fiddling the funds in front of his nose. Of course I know what few know: how Michael O’Riordan and Sean Nolan had to go from Dublin to clear up the mess they made! I suggested to him that a line should be drawn below the Civil Rights story and a new start should be begun. I thought he might explore the possibility of a movement against the EEC. But he would have to keep it away from all the blithering idiots of socialist and Republican “lefts”. it might ultimately make connections across the border and tend towards national unity. He is cynical enough, and who can blame him, and a great quoter of Gulliver, but there is a solid core there, and he is intellectually tough, though physically lazy.
July 24 Sunday: We had a small meeting of Pat Bond, Eddie Cowman, Steve Huggett and myself in the morning. It seems that the West London branch achieved the sale of 60 papers last month, though Eddie says their manners have improved. Not before time. In the afternoon Chris Sullivan and Jim McDonald came in. They had been at the CP emergency meeting, which was packed. Jim McDonald is a “hardliner” and was very encouraged by the widespread criticism of the draft of the “British Road to Socialism”, which is anyway an inept piece of writing. It suffers from the illusion that the people want socialism and are only worried that the way to it might be painful. It is thus quite as sectish as the things it tries, understandably, to get away from. However, it does not seem to be as bad as it might have been, and how Sid French can possibly gain enough initiative to “get it off the ground” it is difficult to see. He too must live in a dream world. My contribution on the Irish plank was in “Comment” of July 7. I sent a copy to Tony Coughlan. At least it has not gone by default.
July 25 Monday (Liverpool): I went first to Ripley, where all went reasonably well, and then came on to Liverpool. The weather was cold and wretched.
July 26 Tuesday: The cold cloudy weather with a northeast wind continued. In my young days when there was a steady rapid succession of depressions, mostly with warm and cold fronts, northwest winds gave cool, clear, exhilarating weather. Now, when all fronts are occluded, this is no longer so. I commented on the bad weather to an old lady standing at the bus stop.
“The weather’s like the people,” she said. After a few seconds’ reflection she added, “Some of them, I should say.” I guessed whom she had in mind.
“Well, some of the young ones, you mean?”
“Yes. They think they know it all. And they know nowt.”
July 27 Wednesday: I went to buy some seeds at Foman’s – scallions, kale and lettuce. I usually bemoan prices and mention the Common Market. Everybody hates it now and the salesman declared, “We’ve sold our birthright! We’re taking orders from people we’d never have rubbed shoulders with. Every six months I get a set of forms to fill in for them. What are you doing about this? What did you do about that? And to make matters worse we can’t blame it on any particular party.”
“They did it themselves!” I stopped him from saying “We”. Of course that is the doing of that scoundrel Wilson, by means of a dishonest weighted plebiscite to let that arch-criminal Heath [ie. former Prime Minister Edward Heath] and the mercenary sniveller Roy Jenkins [Home Secretary] off the hook. No evil known to man is too bad for these devils from hell! But no evil will befall them! That is sure. As Pirani said of Von Papen, “He is a scoundrel. He will never be caught – at anything.”
I did work on O’Casey, and a little in the garden. The weather is cloudy, dry and cool, the worst growing weather imaginable.
July 28 Thursday: I did more on O’Casey. Daltún O Ceallaigh rang up and told me some money is on its way, and not before time.
July 29 Friday: I did more on O’Casey and more in the garden. I have only just realised how dry the soil is. It is like last year’s drought in spite of the heavy rain.
July 30 Saturday: I finished a chapter and I suppose I am about halfway through. I want to get it out of the way so that I can concentrate on the ITGWU.
July 31 Sunday: It was dry and cool enough, but finally the sun broke through. I gave the garden a good watering. Fred Brown told me the latest about the burglary. The police suggested to Jean that she go down to a jewellers and second-hand shop. She did so and saw a locket with her name on it in the window. She went in and told them it was hers. They rang the police there and then. The shopkeeper looked up his records. The man was the window cleaner without a doubt. But he did not give his usual name, but a name his mother had had before marrying. The shopkeeper confirmed that he was dark-skinned with black hair. But now he can’t be found. The police told Fred Brown that he is wanted for another crime. He went to see some friends, overstayed and missed the last bus so had to sleep on the sofa. He left at 5 am. after rifling a gas meter. Of course we suspect him of the burglary at my place, and the grabbing of the radio. And there are other instances – the disappearance of a bicycle from a shed at No. 118. According to Fred he is a half-brother of the wife of a former colleague of his in the insurance business. So he hopes to trace him in that way.
I gathered quite few blackcurrants and gave some to Jean Brown. There are still some gooseberries and loganberries, also raspberries, to be collected. The parsnips are doing poorly but I think the ground is dry, the heavy rain of a week ago having largely run off. The marrows, squashes and pumpkins look marvellous, the ridge cucumbers only fair. The tomatoes look excellent, and I have had meals from calabrese and ruby chard. I lifted a few pounds of potatoes today also. The swedes and pamphries look very promising, but caterpillars have had a go at the caulifowers – banner peas very poor.
August 1 Monday: I did some work in the garden and continued with the next chapter of O’Casey.
August 2 Tuesday: Exactly the same routine.
August 3 Wednesday: And again.
August 4 Thursday: Most of the time on O’Casey. A letter came from Betty Sinclair asking what was going on in the CPGB. I’m not keen on replying to it.
August 5 Friday: Eddie Cowman telephoned to say he has arranged to have a Standing Committee on Sunday. I keep writing to Mark Clinton but get no reply. I went as far as I could with O’Casey. I want to get it out of the way.
August 6 Saturday (London): I came to London on the afternoon train and found Eddie Cowman in the office. I was in Kilburn with Chris Sullivan.
August 7 Sunday: We held the Standing Committee in the morning. Finances are in a woeful state. It is a wonder we keep going. Eddie Cowman told me that it was reported at the Builders’ Committee that from now on the CPGB will not seek to recruit members of Clann na hEireann, but those who are in it can stay. The mess they’ve got themselves into! They have refused membership to Collins in Birmingham. I was out with Gerry Curran at night.
August 8 Monday: Mairin Johnston rang up. Stephen Mooney applied for permission to visit his son and this time got it. This is probably Jock Stallard’s doing. She asked if Jaqueline Kaye or somebody like that would go to Bristol. I told her to go as a relative and get mixed up in nothing else. That Kaye woman has been mixed up with the “Officials”, then “Provisionals”, and was among the group that sabotaging bitch Irene Brennan took to the Six Counties, where she got no results but queered the pitch for everybody else. I hope she takes my advice. When she has seen the prisoner, it can be decided what to do. These Trotskies are mainly interested in publicity for themselves. Jane Tate came in in the evening. Eddie Cowman is away on holiday.
August 9 Tuesday: I spent most of the day at Colindale in the British Museum newspaper library.
August 10 Wednesday: I was at Colindale most of the day. In the evening at the Central London branch meeting a young fellow called Sawtell spoke about a visit to the Six Counties. It emerged afterwards that he is a vociferous “hardliner” and I was inclined to think Charlie Cunningham was in the picture somewhere. I notice a slight hysteria, if I have no better word, in his behaviour. We see him only on Wednesdays, perhaps on Saturdays as well. He is worked up over the CP split but is not a member, and never asks himself the question what should be done for the best. I have observed the human animal too long to believe that sense confronts nonsense. Nonsense confronts other nonsense. And anybody is bound to be right who can put somebody else in jail. Now neither side can jail the other, though they would love to, and so they are at it hammer and tongs! The young fellow – he would be about 25, I imagine – says that the “Eurocommunists”, led by Cook, have a majority on the E.C. and outvote Gordon McLennan. He says they accuse the older members of dragging their feet on the “British Road to Socialism”. He says their origin is in the “New Left” of the 1960’s and they have now joined the CP. He talks like Charlie Cunningham’s man about “standing up to be counted” and more of the same kind. I told him that he cannot prevent the “British Road to Socialism” being adopted, and that all he can do is to strive for sensible amendments, and that for my part I was confining my attention to looking after the Irish, since though nobody will take much notice of me in that, certainly they will take none in other things. He said the “hardliners” were being “frozen out”. I replied they should have more sense than walk out if that was what their opponents wanted. He publishes an arts magazine, with Alan Bush and Joe Whelan on the editorial board. Apparently Whelan is an extreme “hardliner”. I would like to know what is happening. I wonder who would tell me. McGahey possibly. I don’t like ex-parte statements, but what can you get when they’ve got themselves into such a mess. He says Pat Devine’s son (who is not much use) swears that until every “hardliner” has been driven out, there will be no progress in the CPGB. He says also that “every day they approach nearer to the Italian position.” I said don’t be in a hurry. See what happens in Italy. Young people always want a “solution”. The only solution to life is death, and we’re not in a hurry for that. I pointed out that withdrawal from the EEC was in the draft. He said he thought they would not implement it, and what, he asks, if amendments are passed that make it worse? I replied that he should endeavour to see that they were not, and that just as a struggle was going on about the contents of the thing, so afterwards presumably the same would go on about the implementation, and that the world was not going to end. But he thought it was.
The difficulty is that each side is losing confidence in the honesty of the other. He talked about “censorship”. I told him I cannot remember having been refused publication in my life. If I was, I have forgotten it. But on the other hand I myself receive things all the time from perfectly honest people that you couldn’t possibly publish, and could not explain to them why. And their grievances mount. And there is constant talk instead of a decision on a line of action, however modest its effect.
August 11 Thursday: I spent another day at Colindale, and damned expensive it is proving. On Tuesday I had lunch at Hendon Central in a Chinese restaurant that charged over £2 for very casual service. Yesterday I went to Edgeware and had a good lunch at a “salt beef bar”, but it was £3. Today I went to Golders Green, my old stomping ground. The Refectory is now a public house. Old Appenrott’s, the grocery, has gone. I had a fair set lunch in an Italian place for £1.75.
I have been reading through the “Daily Worker” for 1939 and 1940. The date when Sean O’Casey’s article was reprinted from “Irish Freedom” was 16 January 1941. If I had kept my tongue still then everything would have been different. But I protested at his leaving out the national question. The “Daily Worker” was suppressed four days later, so I had nothing printed in that. I must have been staying in Abbey Wood by then, I imagine. I was in Barrow in September, and in Liverpool thereafter till about the 11th of November. I could not however recapture any of the way I felt at this time. I am quite sure I worried myself about what would go its own way, just as the youngsters do today. We all felt so bloody sure of ourselves!
August 12 Friday: I was again at Colindale in the morning and afternoon. And in the evening out with Steve Huggett in North East London – an unpleasant area.
August 13 Saturday: I went to Colindale just for a few hours. In the evening I was in Hammersmith with Gerry Curran. He still dislikes Pat O’Donohue. His sense of his own importance verges on megalomania, says Gerry, and instances a dinner at an Indian restaurant which he brought them to to celebrate his engagement. He sat like a Mogul emperor surrounded by courtiers and vassals and waited on by slaves and eunuchs. When it was all over Toni Curran said to Gerry, “She’s a very lucky girl to get a man with his income!” So Gerry was crushed.
August 14 Sunday (Liverpool): I had at first intended to leave London tomorrow, but as the day wore on in the office my dislike of the place increased. So I took the afternoon train to Liverpool. Charlie Cunningham called in during the morning. I found awaiting me £2000 from the ITGWU, and a letter from Dorothy Greaves. And the Ministry of Pensions, who returned Phyllis’s death certificate. said they would be communicating with me further. Not a squeak from the Workers Music Association.
August 15 Monday: I got little enough done, I’m afraid. I am trying to get O’Casey out of the way so as to concentrate on the ITGWU.
August 16 Tuesday: I did something in the garden. The marrows are coming on well, but a mouse or something has been at the pumpkins, and the squashes are tending to go mouldy – black-fly I think is the trouble. But there is plenty of food – potatoes are excellent this year, broad beans, kohlrabi, calabrese and that excellent herb, lovage, which seems to be established for the first time. The carrots are not a success. And the parsnips and beetroots are very slow. The ground is still dry.
August 17 Wednesday: I finished another chapter and determined to push on but spent an hour in the garden.
August 18 Thursday: A letter from Alan Morton told me that young John has got a three-year contract and can stay in Edinburgh. They had Joseph Needham for dinner last week and apparently he is still working on China [Professor Joseph Needham, renowned Sinologist]. I only met him once, when he drove me in a vast open Rolls Royce to the College of Physicians, or Surgeons or something, to discuss “Biologie et Marxisme” [by Marcel Prenant, which Greaves translated from the French when he first came to London in 1936-7 and which was published as “Biology and Marxism” by Lawrence and Wishart in 1938].
“What are we going to do about the parts we don’t agree with?” he asked. I was about 23 and hadn’t the least idea what to do about anything. He said he was going to Paris and would see Prenant. But when he did see him Prenant refused to alter anything! And quite right too.
August 19 Friday: I drank a litre of wine last night, plus a glass of whiskey, and slept it out this morning. I am of the opinion that I am so tired that I will not be able to get down to anything until I have a holiday. But I cannot get away until September 25. It is the divil. I rang Tony Coughlan and said I would go on Tuesday. Meanwhile Roy Johnston has sent me an invitation and a document which I have not read and which he wants to discuss. It is all childishness. I wrote and told him I’d like to see him but had no time to bother with politics.
August 20 Saturday: Eddie Cowman rang up from London in the morning. He got “fed up” in Bunclody [ie. Eddie Cowman’s native place in Co.Wexford], so came back! I did a little more writing.
August 21 Sunday: The same again.
August 22 Monday: I am writing with one of the wretched “Biro” pens they sell today. The proper kind is not made any more. The quality of everything goes down and down as monopolisation increases. I did some more writing.
August 23 Tuesday: I went to Chester and Caergybi, and Tony Coughlan met me at Dun Laoire. He tells me Muriel Saidlear is in the USA. We rang Cathal but it seems he is still away.
August 24 Wednesday: I met Daltún O Ceallaigh for lunch. He had been speaking to Justin Keating. “Did you see what the ‘Irish Socialist’ said about you?” Daltún asked. “No. What was it?” “It said you had betrayed your socialist principles.” Justin screwed his eyes and put on a martyred expression. “There you are. I’m swiped at from right and left.” We went to a wee party at the house of Joy Rudd, a decent woman without a trace of humour, a former stalwart of Tuairim. And among those present apart from Tony Coughlan and myself were Flan and Mary Campbell, Tony Cronin and his wife, and the ubiquitous Roy Johnston and Janice. We thought the supply of drink somewhat limited and doubtless Joy Rudd received a tribute. But then, she had provided tea and was perhaps unprepared for the unsolicited bottles. She is a Dublin Protestant and very proper. Tony Cronin had not seen Seamus Treacy’s article attacking him.
August 25 Thursday: In the evening Daltún O Ceallaigh turned up and stayed very late. He said that in Michael Mullen’s office he had seen a stack of SFWP literature and he thinks that Eoghan Harris has been trying to influence him. I thought it might be an idea to rope in Asmal as an antidote, though I do not trust him.
August 26 Friday: I had lunch with Francis Devine and Daltún O Ceallaigh. In the evening Tony Coughlan and I went to the Abbey. I met Andy Higgins in Marlboro Street just before going it. The play was “Cock-a-doodle Dandy” and it would make a fine pantomime, but little more.
August 27 Saturday: As Tony Coughlan was going to Cork, I decided to go to Tralee and we travelled together. What with the Fleadh Cheóil at Ennis and the “Rose of Tralee” week in Kerry the train was crowded and we could not get a drink until we had passed Limerick Junction. At Portlaoise a rough unshaven person sat at the same table we occupied while waiting for the crowd to thin. He told us that he had been released from jail today after spending five days there for collecting funds for the “Provisionals”. Tony Coughlan was next to him and had some conversation with him before he left at Mallow. Then I was able to hear better, moving to the other seat. He said that since the change of government, the treatment of prisoners has “marginally” improved. He described the conditions graphically enough. A group of warders burst into his cell at midnight, got him up and ordered “Strip!” “What do you mean?” he asked surprised and alarmed. “Strip,” they roared, “you know what that means, fucking strip!” Then came a cry from across a corridor: “Wrong house!”, so they all left to pour into some other unfortunate’s cell. “They make you kneel on the ground while they push something like a wooden spoon up your back passage,” he explained. So the claim that no instruments are used is a false one. He asked whom I was going to in Tralee and I replied I was going to the house of Con Casey, whom like every other Kerryman he knew. I later told him who I was and he said he had read both of my books, having won the “Life of Connolly” in a “general knowledge of Ireland” contest. He said his name was Shea and that he was Kerry chairman of Cumann Cabhrach [ie. the Republican prisoners’ relief organisation]. Tony Coughlan had asked him why they didn’t just pay the fine and he replied, “My family wouldn’t have me in the house if I did.” He is about 40 and has 12 children and is a devoted unyielding nationalist, as a character simpler but more genuine by far than the sophisticated “Officials”, with their taint of Trotskyism. But I doubt if they will ever lead another revolution.
At Tralee Micheál O’Loingsigh met me and we had lunch at a hotel. Then we went to see William Mullen, who is eighty but, as he said, “I have perfect health and I can enjoy it.” He told me that he and Partridge were sent by the Kerry Volunteers to the Military Council at Liberty Hall. The instructions were IRB instructions and there was no question of his going to Connolly. He was not an ITGWU member. All the workers were national at the time, especially the railwaymen. They had expected the arms, but they had not expected Casement. He said that the refusal to move on Casement’s plight was due to the fact that they still expected the arms and had orders to lie low. We met Micheál O Loingsigh’s family at Casey’s house, but I had not much time and returned on the 5.45.
August 28 Sunday: I was at Tony Coughlan’s all day, sorting through papers and notes.
August 29 Monday: I spent most of the time at the National Library. On my way to TCD I met Kevin Byrne, the Alderman. We had a drink. He was complaining about Roy Johnston. Up to now his conservationist activities have had the advantage of free expert advice from TCD. But now that Roy has started his “industrial liaison” work, everybody asks for fees.
[When the editor permitted Roy Johnston to read the Greaves Journals in 2002, he requested that the following note be inserted here:
“Back to Dublin August 28 1977; the next day he encounters Kevin Byrne, who had been using TCD as a source of free advice, but now complains that everyone asks for a fee, allegedly under the influence of the present writer.
Kevin Byrne had been running a so-called ‘Free Dublin University’ based on academics willing to give marginal time to speak on various topics of public interest, as many did and continue to do, out of a sense of social responsibility. This had absolutely nothing to do with the present writer, whose activities were aimed at providing a fee-paying knowledge-based service to industry in science and technology. This remark is just another gratuitous piece of character-assassination. As far as Kevin Byrne was concerned it probably was at the level of a leg-pull. – RHW Johnston 9/1/2002”]
Tony and I had dinner at Eoin O Murchú’s and I stayed the night. Helena was very pleased with my article in “Marxism Today”, which she was innocent enough to believe would have some influence. I still think she believes that things are decided on their merits. Eoin says that the “Officials” are declining. They have 15 organisers against Fianna Fail’s six, which many people think are maintained by dubious financial expedients, the least said about which the better. But Mairin de Búrca has gone and Tony Heffernan with her. That accursed she-cat in London will be able to compliment herself on her encouragement of them. MacGiolla’s pretence of having no military connections just before the guns started going off in Belfast has been so quickly punctured that the credibility of SFWP has sunk somewhat.
August 30 Tuesday: I came into town with Helena on the Howth train. She tells me she needs to go to Moscow, but apparently requires CPI executive support. This Mairin Johnston is opposed to. She thinks Mairin jealous of her activities in relation to the women. And she thinks Fergal Costello is influenced by her. Her opinion of Tom Redmond is not high either. Well, I know him, and have little confidence in his sound sense. But Michael O’Riordan and Sean Nolan she gets on with.
She complains mainly about Roy Johnston. Apparently Science is his preserve and she is organising a conference that he wants to organise. He rings her up periodically, loses his temper and bangs down the phone on her. She knows Sawtell and Fergus Nicholson and is glad they have not gone with Sid French.
I think she has a fair estimate of her own abilities and is not totally without a wish to “get on”. But it is largely joie de vivre.
[Note inserted here at Roy Johnston’s request:
“On August 30 1977 CDG comes in to town on the Howth train in the company of Helena Sheehan; amongst other various intrigues in the CPI she complains about RHWJ in TCD: ‘Apparently science is his province and she is organising a conference that he wants to organise.’
I have placed on record in my memoirs the following, in the 1970s module of the ‘Science and Society’ thread:
‘In or about 1977 an episode occurred which is worth recording. Helena Sheehan, now on the academic staff of Dublin City University, was then doing her PhD in the philosophy of science in TCD, and I was in the TCD Industrial Liaison Office, at the science-technology interface, acting on behalf of the College. I made an effort to build bridges.
Helena was associated with the TCD Communist Society, which ran occasional political events of student interest. I attended one at which she spoke on the “scientific revolution”. While much of the discussion was somewhat ‘up in the air’ I felt it no harm to encourage the idea that mastery of science was an important aspect of social change. So when Helena came up with the idea of an invited speaker from the USSR with a science background, I was prepared to make an effort to ensure that the event was supported by at least some members of the College science community, and I made this known. This however turned out not to be welcome; I was accused of ‘wanting to take over’ the meeting. So I did little, but I did turn up to hear what the USSR speaker had to say. She had presumably got him to come over via the Party network.
The meeting was not very well attended; she had apparently made it an event to which outside political people came in, rather than as a promotional event relating Marxism to the student and College environment. The USSR guest speaker (I forget his name) turned out to be a tired hack, for which this presumably was a trip to the West as a reward for loyal service. However I took him as a possible source of insight into current USSR developments, and I asked a question about the Lysenko episode, which had earlier been a crunch issue at the interface between science and politics. The speaker however brushed aside the question, on the ground that Lysenko, being by then discredited, was not a fit subject for study in a science context.
In other words, the problem of the dialectics of the interaction between science and society, including the analysis of historic pathologies, had not been identified in the USSR, and was being simply ignored. We had here an example of the atrophy of critical thinking under Brezhnev. However I did not get the impression that any of the Irish Marxists of the ‘high church’ picked up on this … RHW Johnston 9/1/2002”]
August 31 Wednesday: This was another day largely spent in the National Library. I have started to read through the minutes of the Dublin Trades Council and they are extremely revealing. That the working class, or at least their skilled trades, constituted themselves an unofficial vigilance committee against imports, is evident from the fact that imports get the largest single volume of discussion of any subject. When they received, as they did every year, a Gaelic League delegation, they on one occasion made quite clear that they regarded the language movement as a protector of Irish industry. It is thus clear that Connolly began his propaganda for socialism in a way not calculated to appeal to them, and it was no wonder that so many turned to the IRB and Griffith.
September 1 Thursday: I had lunch with Francis Devine. He told me that he did not think work in a partial organisation like the Irish Sovereignty Movement would satisfy him. He preferred a political party. I think he may join the CPI. This means that if the CPGB had been prepared to do its duty and had not preserved Clann na hEireann in hopes of bringing the Irish into purely British politics, he might have been with the Connolly Association and of use years ago.
Tony Coughlan and I went to Roy Johnston’s this evening. We had no desire to do so but went out of politeness. There was one bottle of deplorable “plonk”, to which we added two tolerable Liebfraumilchs. After that we would need to go on to Roy’s home brew. Since Eoin O Murchú’s had given us headaches we decided to take no chance. Una is apparently maintaining herself by playing the flute in public houses. She has no degree and is talking about going to the USA. For some reason Galway Technical College, to which he sent her (to save money) is closing down for a year. He speaks of differences with her and says with satisfaction, “Anyway she’s off my pay roll.”
News came through that Sam Levenson is dead. So he has gained little from letting O’Keefe down. Still he was pleasant enough, though American enough to put money in the first place, not as Roy does as a miser, but as a man of the world.
September 2 Friday: I was in the Library all day. Then in the evening I went to a talk by Professor Schiller on communications [Professor Herbert Schiller of the University of California, who was invited to speak at a Conradh na Gaeilge, Gaelic League, meeting]. It was very useful. I was wondering what sort of a “British Road to Socialism” would stand up to the forces he described. Among those present were Tony Coughlan, Daltún O Ceallaigh, Micheál O Loingsigh, Padraig O Snodaigh and in the chair was Colley [ie. Maolachlann O Caollai of the Gaelic League, which published Schiller’s lecture]whom I met at the Celtic Youth Congress ten years ago. And of course the ubiquitous Roy, who got up and talked his usual nonsense. Fergal Costello on the other had made some good points. Asmal drove us back in his car. I had a few words with Schiller who was familiar with my writings, or at least had the courtesy to say he was.
September 3 Saturday: I met Mairin Johnston in the afternoon and had an interesting conversation. The object was to discuss Stephen’s son in a British jail. She gave me a piteous account of his condition, and she tells me it was all a lot of nonsense. He is not too bright, indeed much as Stephen was before he steadied up, as at any rate she says he has. I told him not much could be done, but that I would try and get an MP to visit him.
She then told me about Una. When we were at Roy’s, I forgot to record, we were saved from discussing the science programme by the appearance of two young men on the stairs of Roy’s house! They said they were taking possession of a flat. “There’s no flat here,” said Roy, “I’ll call the guards.” Then one of them disclosed that he was a guard from Donegal in Dublin for the weekend. He had come to the wrong house and the key he had fitted it, the landlord having given him several keys – to look at the flat if the story was true. Now Roy accompanied them to 53 Belgrave Square. While he was away I said to Tony Coughlan, “It will look nice if it was a decoy and he’ll be bumped off.” We were just getting up when he arrived back with the information that the questionable key fitted 53 Belgrave Road. “But”, says Roy, delighted with the cost of something for nothing, “They’re prepared to go halves with the cost of changing the lock.”
His face fell when I said, “And go halves with the keys too, maybe.”
When I told Mairin Johnston about this and got to the point about the ambush, she laughed, “It’s too much to hope!” Then she told me about Una.
Una wanted to do music at TCD. “There’s no money in music,” said Roy, “You’ll do science.” So she chose marine biology at Galway – UCG. But he then said, “The fees are too high. The Technical College will do.” But there is no end to his parsimony. One day earlier in the year he refused to give her her fare to Galway and told her to hitch-hike – a girl of 20 on her own. About two weeks ago Roy and Janice were away and telephoned Una asking her to stock the house with provisions against their return. She spent £5.00 of her own money. When he got back he ate all the provisions. Finally she asked for her money. He refused to refund it, saying she had spent too much. She started to walk out of the house. He then placed his back against the door and said, “LIsten to me. You’re not leaving this house until I have read you a lecture on how to look after money.” She swung her handbag at his crotch and while he was recovering himself, let herself out. She told me that sometimes Roy’s sister, who is much older than he, gives Una money. She wonders if Una is protected under Joe Johnston’s will. I told Mairin to go to Asmal and get him to find out, and to think in terms of writing for £5000 to take Una through the University. I never heard of such a thing in my life!
Sean Nolan told me that Sean Morrissey is going to the CPGB Congress, or that at least he has been nominated. He would indeed be an improvement on that incurable egotist Jimmy Stewart. But why not somebody from Dublin?
[Roy Johnston requested that the following note by him be inserted in the original Journal after the above entries:
“There are entries on September 1 and 23 1977 which expose the mechanism of the attempted character assassination perpetrated on the present writer by CDG. CDG’s main source of information was my ex-wife Mairin, often via Helga MacLiam. She had in effect left me in or about 1966, and a reasonably amicable separation was in the end arranged, culminating in an uncontested divorce in 1998, soon after it became possible. At this time, the separation was in process of being legalized; she had moved to Monkstown with Fergal Costello, but there remained issues to be resolved, and there was tension. Una’s 3rd-level education was, alas, a victim of this situation, to my eternal regret. There was no good decision-making procedure in the ‘upstairs-downstairs’ environment in 22 Belgrave Road. We sorted it out as best we could, in what was a difficult situation.
I leave aside all the small-minded stuff about the quality of the wine and the home brew; he puts this in to confirm the ‘mean parsimonious RHWJ’ image he has picked up over the years via gossip. Una had decided by then to go to the USA, having spent 2 years in Galway RTC, at considerably more expense (she had to pay for lodgings) than if she had gone to College in TCD, where she could have lived at hom, and had free tuition due to my being on the staff, as Fergus did subsequently. So it was not a matter of saving money.
Una’s preference was originally to do music in TCD. She had a good competence on the flute, having studied with Doris Keogh. She also had a good science Leaving Certificate. I encouraged her however to regard musical performance as a marginal-time fund activity, rather than as a mainstream, and to lean on her science as the breadwinner, but with some applied or technological orientation, to increase employability. So initially she went to Kevin Street, while continuing at the musical academy. This was not a good arrangement; She failed her first year. She had however taken up snorkelling, and became interested in marine biology. So she went to Galway RTC to do marine biology, this being the place to go, and she spent two years there, obtaining a certificate. She worked on one occasion with Daphne Levinge in our TCD Applied Research Consultancy Group on a marine environment project we did in Dundalk. During her Galway time musical interests predominated; she fell in with Phelim Lunny (of the famous Lunny traditional music family), and together they went to New York, where she made her way successfully as an impresario, returning to Ireland a decade later to found Carpe Diem Productions.
In retrospect, I feel that she should have done her TCD degree in music, as Fergus did subsequently, and I am to blame for mis-directing her. But it was not mean-mindedness on my part, as Mairin makes out in her diatribe, reported with highly negative ‘spin’ by CDG on September 3. It was genuine concern, although I may have been mistaken about the relative values of science and music, and I have since expressed my regrets to Una about this. She is currently (2002) considering various ’mature student’ options, and I am encouraging her, and am in a position to be supportive. As for the reference to my sister, there was provision in my father’s will, and she was administering it. Mairin knew this perfectly well, and of course did not go near Asmal. The other added colour is inventive and mostly gratuitous. But one can see how the picture of RHWJ was built up in CDG’s perception, if he was prepared to take on board stuff like this unverified.
The unrelated episode over the lock and the key and the break-in remains a matter for curiosity. I suspect it was set up by the Special Branch, for some reason best known to themselves. The derogatory spin CDG puts in my role in the context I find totally incredible…RHW Johnston 9-1-2002”]
September 4 Sunday: I telephoned Cathal who answered the phone and came out with Conor. After Conor was gone he stayed quite late. Daltún O Ceallaigh appeared, and then who must arrive but Asmal. This is the first time he ever called on Tony Coughlan late at night. He seemed worried about Michael Mullen and blamed Paddy Devlin for influencing him in a SFWP direction. Perhaps Mullen was wooing the services of a new speech writer. After Asmal had gone we were able to piece together some of the plot that came unstuck. Tony Coughlan thinks it possibly originated in the fertile brain of Michael O’Leary. That gentleman was to become leader of the Labour Party with the aid of ITGWU votes. Mullen’s son was to became a TD with Labour help. And Fintan Kennedy, who helped Mullen’s son and may have assisted Michael O’Leary, was to go to Brussels. And Asmal told us that Michael Mullen wrote to him and asked him to induce Pat Carroll, the son’s left- wing rival, to withdraw. “I can’t do that” said Asmal, “for I have already sent him £10.” And Mullen has not sent for Asmal since and the gentleman feels in the cold. Now the return of Fianna Fail [following its big victory in the General Election], and the election of Cluskey [Frank Cluskey, Michael O’Leary’s rival for the Labour Party leadership], ruined everything.
A sub-plot concerns Roy Johnston. It seems he has been trying to get an ITGWU consultancy for several years. The object of his attention was John Carroll [ITGWU Vice-President] whom he used to lunch with at Barnardo’s. Recently he switched to Michael Mullen, but Mullen referred him to Clancy at the Development Services division. And when Roy was called there, Daltún O Ceallaigh was present at the meeting. Now Roy has written to Asmal to draw him into orbit, but Asmal has written him a letter saying (if one can believe it) “How dare you write to me.” So it looks as if Michael Mullen has been nicely embroiled in O’Leary’s intrigues and may lose the one asset he possesses, his strong national feeling.
September 5 Monday: From somewhere – Roy Johnston himself on the telephone I think – Tony Coughlan learns that Roy is new secretary of the Irish Peace Group, which is now undertaking initiatives first thought of by the Irish Sovereignty Movement. I called in to Sean Nolan and asked whether he approved of Roy’s new position. “The difficulty is lack of personnel.” said Nolan. Well, they have been caught once. It is surprising that that want another trial. Tony Coughlan tells me, however, that Micheál O Loingsigh is now sounder on the direct elections issue [ie. the proposed direct elections to the European Parliament]. I said I thought a widely based conference on what the EEC has done to Ireland might be useful.
[On reading the Journal in 2002, Roy Johnston asked that the following note be inserted following this entry:
“The next day, September 5 1977, CDG notes that he had heard via Anthony Coughlan that I had become secretary of the Irish Peace Group, which he claims is ‘now undertaking initiatives first thought of by the Irish Sovereignty Movement’. . . So CDG calls in to Sean Nolan in the bookshop and asks if he ‘…approves of RHWJ’s new position’… ‘ The difficulty is lack of personnel’, said Nolan…’Well they have been caught once…’
The Irish Peace Group emerged out of an attempt to set up a broad-based peace lobby based on a group of politicals and journalists who went to a World Peace Council conference in Moscow in 1972, at the high point of CPI/republican convergence. It included Tomas MacGiolla, Michael O’Riordan, Betty Sinclair, Robin Joseph (then Secretary of the ASTMS Scientific Staffs branch), Criostoir MacAonghusa and his son Proinnsias, Donal Foley of the Irish Times and a few others, including Irish CND people. It had a tenuous existence for a while, but lacked cohesion. It seems I took it on for a while, and I must have attempted to make some things happen, but without much success. It was basically a postal address for receiving masses of World Peace Council material, which was of questionable value. Here was CDG intriguing against my attempting to develop any sort of positive role for myself on the fringe of high-church left orthodoxy. I subsequently discovered that Michael O’Riordan had been leaking the highly libellous internal character-assassination document he had prepared in support of my expulsion to journalist members of the Peace Group. I am not surprised nothing came of it…. RHW Johnston, 9/01/2002”]
September 6 Tuesday: Kader Asmal had invited us for dinner. So we went, and Fergal Costello and Mairin Johnston appeared. I think Mairin had telephoned Asmal. Now Michael Mullen has invited Asmal to see him tomorrow. The lute is repaired, and the world now dances to a harmonious tune, and Asmal is saying the opposite of what he said two days ago.
In the morning I called on Peadar O’Donnell. He is sadly changed. A stroke sustained some time ago has impaired his power of speech. He said he still thought that for all their blunders the Russians remain the hope of the world. He is inclined to my view that in 1945 the Socialist world found itself dangerously over-extended but could not safely pull out of countries where socialism had been established without popular consent. He told me that he tackled a Romanian on the subject of the naming of streets and public buildings. At the time everything was Stalin this, that or the other. “If we had to rename our streets we would name them after national heroes of our own country.”
“Mr O’Donnell,” said the Romanian, “When the Russians came in the Communist Party was very small. Within days it had a million members. And the only slogan they knew was ‘Up Stalin’.” He told me that he thought Cathal O Shannon was an “Intellectual giant” but turned to drink in frustration at control by William O’Brien’s “orderly mind”. This is a kinder epitaph than Willie Gallacher gave him. I also saw William McMullen. He is four years older than Peadar but is healthier and clearer in speech.
September 7 Wednesday (Liverpool): I took a taxi to Dun Laoire When I arrived at 124 Mount Road I found it had been burgled again. The front door had been forced with a crowbar, and the two lounges likewise, also the library. All that seems to be missing is a radio and a wristwatch. But the mess is savage. Jean Brown told me that when she went to cut a marrow after returning from the Isle of Man, she saw the door open. She called the police and they made it secure. I rang Ashford. I didn’t like having to do so, but the repairs must be done.
September 8 Thursday: I had arranged to go to the TUC, so I went to Blackpool. A bawling yelling mob of young Trotskies besieged the place with red banners, so that one could not just walk in as in the past. However, I got a press card after some delay and set about looking for Joe Whelan. Then I heard that Eddie Cowman had been got in by Jack Henry. I had a long talk with Hugh D’Arcy of Edinburgh and a few words with McGahey [ie. the Scottish miners’ leader]. There are changes in people. Whelan looks ill and puffed out, lacking in spring. D’Arcy is the same as ever. McGahey seems to be drinking very heavily. Jack Henry told me of his difficulties with Bill Dunn and Egelnick and said they have no conception of working with other people, merely telling them what to do. He said he “felt like sending my party card to them in an envelope”. Of course I do not know the other side, but I can sympathise with his. I also saw Andy Barr, who promised to sign our statement against fascism. But Freeman [ie. John Freeman, Northern Ireland secretary of the ATGWU], to whom he showed it, had every possible objection, due of course to the unfathomable ignorance of stupid people who make no enquiries likely to sharpen their wits, but are content with – no, proud in – their ignorance. I returned to Liverpool, Eddie Cowman to Manchester.
September 9 Friday: Ashford came up, and we discussed anti-burglar measures. He will come tomorrow to start the work. He asked me for £20, which I promised him tomorrow. So he will come.
September 10 Saturday: Not much work done today – a letter to Lowry, to Dorothy Greaves and to the Pensions Department of the Ministry of Education. Then when I pushed open the damaged door, lying on the mat was a letter from Darlington informing me that a gratuity of just over £2,000 was due to Phyllis’s estate. Ashford came, and his nephew, and we discussed putting steel edges to the doors. Then the police came in response to my telephone call and took down a lot of particulars. They seemed very interested in the marks on the woodwork, perhaps with a view to ascertaining what instrument had been used.
September 11 Sunday: About 1.50 pm. Eddie Cowman rang up from Lime Street and came over for lunch. In the evening we called in to the Irish Centre where Tom Walsh welcomed us with open arms. We stayed a short time and then returned to 124 Mount Road. They had a small meeting in Manchester, attended by Belle Lalor, the Crowes, Tommy Watters’s sister and a few more. It was held in Jimmy McGill’s new shop near the university. They have all great praise for Joe Deighan and Michael Crowe, moderate praise for Lenny Draper, but nothing but condemnation of Tom Redmond. This coincides exactly with my own opinion, and despite reports that he has developed, which he certainly has in terms of what he says, I can never persuade myself to treat him seriously. It was he who broke contact with the Irish by discontinuing the Platt Fields meetings; he who filled the place with bohemians and student “intellectuals”, substituted a committee to erect a plaque for the branch meeting, taking every opportunity to go on television. The childishness, irresponsibility, egotism, ignorance and stupidity of many people highly thought of on the “left” is one of the mysteries of civilisation as to its causes, but of its effects there is no question. Eddie Cowman thinks the political calibre of the Manchester members low, except for Tommy Watters, whom he visited and who was delighted to see him. Eddie is a clever lad but shows the desperate handicap that is a lack of secondary education.
September 12 Monday: Ashford turned up on time, soon after Eddie Cowman had left, and put a mortice lock on the front door, a new Yale, and Yale locks on the two lounges. I am having a two-foot strip light in the ceiling in the hall to throw light on any divils tinkering with the door. The CID called for a few minutes. But I do not expect much. I wrote to one or two people.
September 13 Tuesday: The work of restoring and fortifying the house went on. I am having iron inserted in the doors, steel strips and plates into the bargain. I suspect all the burglaries have been done by one man. For I am now satisfied that as well as a radio and a watch he stole a pair of jeans. Now why this particular pair of jeans? Because he wears nothing else. But why choose an old pair? Because otherwise he would look odd. According to Fred Brown the police have arrested the window cleaner, but whether he is the villain he cannot yet find out.
September 14 Wednesday: I went into Birkenhead to see about a new bicycle, which should be here next week. I also took a day trip to London.
September 15 Thursday: The work continued. Dorothy Greaves rang up to say she is sending me an insurance claim form. I have lost a week, and a vital one. My programme is in ruins. There was an item in the “Daily Telegraph” that seems to me to hold epoch-making possibilities. Apparently the increase in the red shift is less than linear so that there is evidence that the repulsion of distant objects is losing its impetus. This brings about the possibility of a million-million-year explosion followed by a similar contraction. The “Telegraph” man forecasts the entire universe in a black hole when time and space will be no more. But that is nonsense. What is the universe expanding into? Empty space. What will be left behind if it contracts? The same. Then presumably it will explode again. For the first time there is experimental evidence of the limits of the universe in space and time. And one would not expect the process of pulsation to be exactly repetitive. Moreover, if observation is reaching the limits of the universe, there may yet be evidence of things outside.
September 16 Friday: No form arrived from Dorothy Greaves. Ashford has worked very well. He was here till 10 pm. I think he has unshipped the not too savoury character who built the wall. There is no sign of him.
September 17 Saturday (London): No form from Dorothy Greaves. This is a nuisance. I may have to make another day trip, with loss of time. A letter came from Toni Curran, very much in line with her character. First a line of flattery – how good the September paper was and how it helped her. How could it? I can think of nothing in it that would do so. Then an attack on people I don’t like. Apparently she went to a special West Middlesex CP District Party Committee meeting, where John Hourigan proposed a special emergency resolution asking for King Street disciplinary action against Peter Kavanagh and an “enquiry” into his behaviour. One is shocked that a simpleton like Hourigan should be on a committee. In his speech he referred to the “gangster” Cassidy. It may occur – more likely will not occur – to some of our worthy colleagues that bringing members of SFWP into an organisation is a guarantee of trouble. Well, they looked for it and they will get it. She also says a “West London Builders Group” has been set up to pursue the TGWU-UCATT contest and no doubt widen the gap. Then she quotes my old saying, got from J. Godolphin Bennett [one of Greaves’s superiors when he worked in the chemical industry], that a fish goes bad from the head down. Finally, the crunch – she hopes I was only trying to “soothe” Jane Tate when I said we might not need a financial report at the E.C. on Sunday. And at the close a compliment to herself: everything in ruins (where she got it) except the bookshop, which is doing well. Well, well, well!
Yesterday I cut down all the trees in front of the house except for the rowan, the laburnum, the bay, the holly and the forsythia. These I will thin later. The main casualties have been the lilacs, but I also cut down the laurel. I would not expect a break-in from the front but must give more thought to the rear.
I came to London and had a poor sale with Gerry Curran and Michael Crowe (down from Newcastle) in Hammersmith.
September 18 Sunday: Although Eddie Cowman had told me last night that he would be in early, he did not come until shortly before the E.C. was due to begin. Then he dropped his bombshell. He does not think he will be able to continue to work full-time. He rightly points out the lack of funds. He said that when he got home on holidays he began thinking over the prospects and decided they were not good. At the E.C. he said he was surprised by low “Irish Democrat” sales and the apathy everywhere. But he thought if he retired we could keep the “Democrat” going indefinitely with our reserves. At the same E.C. there was more childishness from Toni Curran and Pat O’Donohue. They want to develop the bookshop and their own egos. So young Moynihan, whom we had hoped would replace Eddie as branch secretary, has been made a bookshop worker, as Eddie cynically put it, so that he can wrap up the parcels while Toni Curran does the “interesting” things. This is of course too harsh. It is a thing one often meets, that one’s immediate problems overshadow the balance of the whole. Still, there were harsh words.
September 19 Monday: We had a useful meeting last night, which I would have hoped would restore Eddie Cowman’s morale. Indeed he came in during the day, though it was his day off, and met Barry Riordan at Paddington, who is doing nothing in Oxford and no doubt spreads gloom to Eddie. According to Jane Tate, Charlie is as bad. He has leanings towards Sid French’s position, and yesterday wanted us to move towards the philosophy of the “Provisionals”. His friend Parker has joined Sid French. Michael Crowe told me that they are making some inroads in Sunderland, where they wiped up the majority of industrial members. This is the trail of Collins’s nonsense. A worthy attempt at breaking out of their narrowness and rigidity was carried out with typical doctrinaire thoroughness and sectishness. So they lurched from sectish to opportunist blunders. What can be done with fools! Out goes the baby with the bathwater. I was wondering whether, when they’ve passed the new “British Road to Socialism” and done the war dance after the victory (another such and they’ll be ruined), the need to combine against the National Front might bring them to their senses. I worked on the papers.
September 20 Tuesday: Eddie Cowman did not come in until 10.30 and left before 5 pm. All the drive has gone out of him, and I do not really know why. It may be that for the first time he has realised the difficulties of the job. I was surprised when he came back to London without completing his holiday, and without stopping over in Dublin. But of course the problems are partly youth, and also insufficient cultural background. Modern educational methods are such that a really clever lad can enter life as an ignoramus, with nothing but his native good sense to rely on. I do not despair. But it may be another case as with Lenny Draper. According to Jane Tate some young fellow got hold of the British-Soviet Friendship Society and (she says) deliberately wrecked it. He has been dismissed, but the elderly man who has taken over is close to a nervous breakdown from over-work.
At lunch in King’s Cross I saw Billy Sheehan. “Have you split?” he asked me without resentment. “I’ve not,” said I. “Silly fools!” he replied. “You may be disgusted with it, but what’s the use of running away!” He is seeing Jack Woddis tonight, for what that is worth.
On Sunday night returning from Camden Town where Eddie Cowman and I had a deplorable sale, I ran into George Smith and the Scorer girl from NCCL. He is working for the NCCL now. Possibly it is part of a CP takeover in the office. Now the Scorer girl lives with Irene Brennan. She was very amiable and said how much the NCCL wished to collaborate with us. I replied that after the attempted visit to Long Kesh a couple of years ago we were not quite so enamoured of them as we had been previously. I pointed out that when we were deliberately excluded, Jacqueline Kaye and Roland Kennedy, then of Clann na hEireann, were substituted. She then said they wanted only English organisations. “Clann na hEireann?” I asked. She then said that Clann na hEireann went in its capacity as an English organisation. I thought this amusing and remarked that I thought the whole exercise an intrigue by the Official IRA, and added for good measure that Jacqueline Kaye and Kennedy were now with the “Provisionals.” However, I said that if they now wanted to make a fresh start we would forgive the past.
Now today Irene Brennan rang up Eddie Cowman and asked him to open a discussion on our forthcoming conference. When he hesitated she grew emotional. So he consented to attend on Friday week. I imagine that Kath Scorer told her she had met me on Sunday.
September 21 Wednesday: In the afternoon Eddie Cowman and Jane Tate and I went to James Klugman’s funeral at Golders Green. How old everybody has got. Only Jack Cohen and that horrible Kerrigan seem to remain as spry as ever. I did not recognise Jack Woddis. I wondered who was that little old man. Then, having not spoken to him, I recognised him by a mannerism. But I did not go over. I am too disgusted by his nonsense to wish to bother with him. Ivor Montague is in good health, and George Matthews was talking to Sigmund Seafort while we waited for the Chapel to open. “We’re queuing up outside Golders Green in more ways than one,” he joked.
“Ah,” says George Matthews, “when we brought Gollan, the commissionaire saying goodbye to me says, ‘I’ll see you soon’. I thought it an indelicate valediction.” Andrew Rothstein was there, looking frail. Nan Green has aged too. Cook, the young fellow who is national organiser, shook hands with me but I could tell he wondered at first whether I would or not. Possibly I am rumoured to be a “hardliner”, whereas I only wish they would forget their “lines” and do things on their merits. But I’ve given up hope of ever seeing that. And then of course we got under the balcony and could not hear a word. Gordon McLennan greeted me affably but shot a searching glance at Eddie Cowman. I was however sorry about Klugman. He was one of the few decent ones.
September 22 Thursday: Eddie received a notice from Irene Brennan. She had changed the day to next Thursday without consulting him and changed the subject to “The work of the Connolly Association”, likewise without consultation. I spoke to Stella Bond who told me that Irene Brennan is hopelessly inefficient and as often as not Pat Bond would arrive at one of her meetings and discover it had been postponed [ie. at the International Affairs Committee of the CPGB, which Greaves used to attend, but which Pat Bond now attended]. The members of it are political nitwits moreover. The blind are freed to follow the blind – the word lead does not enter the picture. Gerry Curran, who called in to bring the book page, told me that the Clann na hEireann man Hourigan is on the West Middlesex District Party Committee. They called a special meeting to hear him demand that Jack Henry should be thrown out of the party – this arises out of a dispute between the ITGWU and UCATT. During the course of the discussion he spoke of “that gangster Cassidy”. I am told incidentally that the same Cassidy has his own streak of ruthlessness. But Hourigan is a silly confused young fellow who in my young days would not even have been elected to a branch committee.
September 23 Friday: The paper has gone, so there was only clearing up to do. I would rather have liked to go to Ripley today.
September 24 Saturday (Liverpool): The weather is cool and dry, and this has therefore been the third chilly September in a row. I spent the day in Colindale. Then to Liverpool.
September 25 Sunday: I was in the house most of the day but dug a few potatoes in the afternoon. Ashford came to do some painting.
September 26 Monday: I wanted to go to Ripley today, but the printer put me off. I therefore got on with some writing, doing the corrections for the “Marx on Ireland” re-issue.
September 27 Tuesday: I was 64 this evening. I went to Ripley in the morning and all went well. Tony Coughlan phoned his good wishes late at night.
September 28 Wednesday: Jane Tate told me the Holborn branch passed an amendment to the “British Road to Socialism” in the terms of what I published in “Comment”. Whether it will be accepted or not is another matter. She told me that she did not have an easy passage. There is a strong chauvinist tendency and such language as “Ireland is not a colony” was used.
Now I found some letters, one from Betty Sinclair who strongly approves my amendment, in which she speaks of internal problems in Belfast and how Michael O’Riordan has urged her to “bide her time”. I suppose it is that egregious ass Jimmy Stewart. This strengthening of chauvinism in England is his work, but the responsibility of those who provide a platform for him.
September 29 Thursday: I paid in £2040 to the bank a few days ago so that I have a balance on current account of £3500 and more. I still however find it difficult to realise that I do not have to economise so rigidly. I shall, I trust however, get used to it. Alan Morton wrote saying how upset he was at James Klugman’s death. While in Dublin I had written to Klugman wishing him a happy retirement. The wishing did him little good! Alan says he begins to realise that he will be dropping off the bough himself. Also, which is worse because it is not wishing or realising, though Alan is muchbetter, Freda has a duodenal ulcer caused by the worry of her. Joseph Needham has read Alan’s chapters on botany in China and approves of them. He lent Alan an unpublished Manuscript volume of his magnum opus. John Morton was very impressed. He had never thought that really distinguished scientists could be modest and unassuming. He has only met fools who are overbearing.
September 30 Friday: A letter from Skelly thanked me for the corrections, which he has sent to Moscow. He had several times written but they completely ignored him. Then they announced they were reprinting. He hopes that he can stop the press. Some of the mistakes are ludicrous.
October I Saturday: There was a phone call from Eddie Cowman, who said that all the conference invitations had gone out. O’Halloran and Gormley of the miners [i.e the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)] had signed. Tony Donaghey had met Lawrence Daly and he had promised to sign the anti-fascist manifesto. At the Irene Brennan meeting there had been questions of all kinds, notably seeking information of interest to the intelligence department of the “Official IRA”. For I do not regard Irene Brennan as a bona fide member of the CP but as a plant from our friends in Gardiner Place [ie. the Dublin office of the “Official” Republicans, now Sinn Fein the Workers Party]. He told me that the others were not remarkable for their political intelligence. I don’t suppose they were. Pat Bond was there. There was torrential rain and a gale today.
October 2 Sunday: I decided to have every ground floor window in the house fitted with bars, and Ashford came to measure up. I have found a way to entice him. I give him a glass of whiskey. He seems to have unshipped that unsavoury character who seemed to be his partner a year ago. Just as well.
October 3 Monday: I understand that Eddie Cowman was reasonably satisfied with his meeting. The whole operation had the air of an “Official” intelligence operation. “How many members have you?” “What’s the circulation of the paper?” But he chose not to know. Then what was the role of the CP members in the Connolly Association – “trying to split the two,” as Eddie commented. I was pleased also that Pat Bond was present. The trouble with Irene Brennan and her associates seems to be that their political ideas are so primitive that it is impossible to communicate with them, particularly because to blind ignorance is allied adamantine dogmatism.
October 4 Tuesday: I got some writing done. And some of the work on the window was started.
October 5 Wednesday: Eddie tells me that all the conference invitations are sent out, and also the bulk of the requests for a statement against fascism. Charlie Cunningham is still on strike and is helping in the office. I got some more writing done.
October 6 Thursday: Work on the bars was continued till 11pm. Ashford brought his nephew, a big strapping fellow but a good carpenter and now a director of an engineering company.
October 7 Friday: Eddie Cowman rang me. He got out the press statement about SE London Trades Councils supporting the conference and rang Myant, who promised to see it was inserted, but asked that it be sent to his home address. He then said he wanted to call to 283 Grays Inn Road to interview Eddie on the work of the Connolly Association. Now it is just possible that this is Myant’s way of being helpful. But never once did he so wish to help Sean Redmond or myself. I prefer to regard it as part of the campaign being waged to ensnare Eddie. At Klugman’s funeral I saw Gordon McLennan look sharply at Eddie. There is considerable interest. Perhaps they realise that they can’t get him for nothing. He asked me to supply him with a few notes, as I did for Irene Brennan’s meeting. They will of course try to turn his head. They tried it with Sean Redmond and failed. Now they think they have easier meat because he is so much younger. It is all part of their daft way of going on. They can’t leave well alone. They want to be taking all the decisions even when they don’t know what decisions to take!
October 8 Saturday: I spent most of the day working and decided to carry on. In the evening Gerry Curran telephoned. He said that since the E.C. meeting Toni Curran had “aged by years”, and as her birthday was coming would I write her a note.
October 9 Sunday: Still writing.
October 10 Monday: Writing again. Ashford has put bars on all the windows and came for another £150 this morning. I think the burglary has cost me £400. I rang the Workers Music Association. Arno Gilman told me that they are making good progress with the song book.
October 11 Tuesday: Another day spent writing.
October 12 Wednesday: Writing again. I wrote Gordon McLennan enclosing the amendment I want in the “British Road to Socialism”. Jane Tate got it through Holborn Branch, but with difficulty.
October 13 Thursday: Writing again. Eddie Cowman telephoned to say that Myant asked all the right questions. But the interview has not appeared.
October 14 Friday: Another day spent writing, but I am getting “writer’s cramp”. So I must stop and go away on Sunday.
October 15 Saturday: Writing again. In the evening Betty Sinclair rang to say the Belfast Trades Council is sending a letter to the Public Records Office giving them authorisation to send me copies of their minutes. She told me that she will not be able to come here for the “fireworks” in November. They have a local conference that weekend and “if I said I’d go to London they wouldn’t stop me.” Michael O’Riordan has told her to bide her time. Andy Barr is now firmly back in the saddle. When she remarked that the great industrial battles now facing them in Northern Ireland require the support of the Catholics, but the Catholics couldn’t care less because they are unemployed, he looked daggers at her. “I think a crunch is coming,” she said. “I’ve just heard top level news of a fresh move regarding Ireland on the part of what you call England.” This may mean the CPGB. I didn’t ask. But it may link with Myant’s sudden interest. Incidentally, Andy Barr has not signed the statement against the National Front. Freeman refused to do so at the TUC. I think it is out of fear of the Orangemen. Gerry Curran, incidentally, told me that Toni Curran is giving up the bookshop at Christmas. I think he is very pleased
October 16 Sunday: I did no writing today, but wrote to Daltún O Ceallaigh, Gerry Curran and a few others, put some additional bolts on the door and generally prepared to go away.
October 17 Monday (Blaencaron): The day began foggy, with horns sounding on the Mersey, but I left town and went to Aberystwyth, and cycled to Tregaron. The weather was hot, and there was brilliant sunshine.
October 18 Tuesday: I went into Tregaron from Blaencaron [ie. the Youth Hostel in the Arfon Groes Valley, Cardiganshire]. Now that the tourists have gone the place is entirely Welsh, and there were some specimens of small farmers who could have been Kerrymen. Indeed I would say the dress is more flamboyant than in Ireland. The weather is excellent.
October 19 Wednesday: I seem to have stumbled on the best week of the year, which perhaps one year in thirty comes in October, though it is quite common in September.
October 20 Thursday: It rained a little today but it is very mild with a southerly wind. At about 8 pm. a cyclist arrived. It was a strange thing, but we took to each other at once, I think even before he said he was interested in meteorology and geology. He was about 33, but young in appearance. He saw me with the pocket chess set and offered to play. He had played at school, but the parents had advised against it when he took his examinations. He was now in a clerical post in Post Office “long range planning”. We played till 1 am. – one game. I played the English opening but did not handle it well. I won, but not without much expenditure of thought. He told me he seldom gets a game that lasts more than ten moves. He was very upset at the afforestation, and a strong conservationist. He described himself as a “loner” and went cycling every weekend of the year. He was full of odd bits of information – such as what plants would grow where there was lead ore. He read the “New Scientist” – but he was surprised when I judged the contents of a calor gas cylindar by its weight. He was quite a delightful person and inclined to the left. He was from Stockport.
October 21 Friday: Hiles, for such was his name, could hardly tear himself away in the morning. But he is on his way home to Stockport. I do not recall anybody enthusiastic about meteorology in years. He has kept weather records for three years. I told him about the weather in the thirties, when the barometer would fall to 28.10, there would be southerly gales and temperatures of 59’F in January and warm sectors were as common as depressions. We will look out for each other next year.
October 22 Saturday: The weather was fine again. But I did not do much.
October 23 Sunday (Tyn Cornel): I went to Tyn Cornel with a following wind and seemed to get there in no time. A man from Henley was there. We played chess. He had white. I played the Alekhine defence, and though I say it who shouldn’t, played it very well. He was a “Class B” player from Henley Chess Club. I was quite pleased with the result.
October 24 Monday: We played a return game. I played the King’s Indian, but because I now under-rated him I took chances and lost – the first loss for years, but then I seldom meet strong players who are in practice. The man had his wife, two children and a neighbour with him, and was a retired technical schoolteacher. The Hen Gardi [Warden] was there dipping sheep. He has three farms and dominates the scene like a buccaneer.
October 25 Tuesday (Blaencaron): I returned to Blaencaron. It was a perfect morning and I took only two hours. In the late afternoon three girls, the oldest about 22 or possibly 23, the others more like 19, came in. I’ll swear they didn’t stop giggling for two seconds all night. But they were from Manchester and quite decent youngsters, not so daft as they sounded. It was a magnificent evening that would not have disgraced late August.
October 26 Wednesday: The weather was dull but not wet or cold. The three girls decided to walk to Dolgoch, but found it too wet and came back. A young Australian girl appeared, with a totally empty head. She wrote and wrote letters, then read novelettes, and had not the remotest notion of what she was seeing.
October 27 Thursday: The wee girl was off at 8.15, leaving her teabags in the teapot. She had a hired car and the hostel was just a cheap hotel. Then in the evening some Liverpools arrived, with two boys and a girl. They had come in a car but went walking. The boys played chess with me, but they were not very good. The eldest, who spoke just like Egon [ie. his friend Cathal MacLiam’s eldest son], was intelligent and would make a good player. Needless to say, I have had a two-day postmortem on the last game at Tyn Cornel. When I play the King’s Indian again I shall know what to watch. It should be said, however, that my opponent had a book on chess openings with him. I noted at one point he moved so immediately that I was surprised. I suspect that may have been in the book!
October 28 Friday: A young lad of 19 came tonight. He was proposing to walk to Bryn Poeth Uchaf [ie. the Youth Hostel near Rhandirmwyn, Carmarthenshire] carrying 40 lbs. on his back. He had a compass, a whistle, “survival gear” – everything except sense, and seemed something of a spoiled child, loaded with all manner of complex dishes his “Mam” had made for him. He played chess and, I think, fancied himself and was not too pleased to be scattered. He was from some place like Walsall.
October 29 Saturday: The weather though still mild and with southerly winds, has broken. I decided to return to Liverpool on Monday and try to finish O’Casey by a series of forced marches.
October 30 Sunday: Today it rained out of the heavens. Nothing could be done. But the temperature still cannot be far short of 60’F. There has been no frost and all the Tropaeolums are perfect everywhere.
October 31 Monday (Liverpool): I left early notwithstanding heavy showers. The wind was SW and I got to Aberystwyth without difficulty and took a train to Rock Ferry. Quite a few summer flowers are out. I noted lychnis, geranium robertianum, jasmine, centaurea negra, achillea, fumarea, hawksweed and buttercups. But of course the main thing is Ulex Gallii [ie. gorse.].
November 1 Tuesday: I got food in and started work at once. The garden is remarkable – vegetables in profusion, calabrese, huge swedes, beetroots, runner beans, white broccoli, asparagus, peas, pumpkins 8″ across, marrows, courgettes and kohl rabi, even some spinach beet!
November 2 Wednesday: I spent the day writing.
November 3 Thursday: Writing all day.
November 4 Friday: Eddie Cowman rang to say Jane Tate had been taken into hospital with appendicitis and looked very bad. I wrote to Tony Coughlan. Eddie Cowman also told me that the “Morning Star” did not print the interview Myant had with him. So it was a diplomatic move, typical of the way this new generation go on.
November 5 Saturday: I was writing all day.
November 6 Sunday: Eddie rang to say that Charlie Cunningham and Michael Ryan had demanded that we send a delegate to the Troops Out Movement conference, and it would have been carried but for Eddie’s objecting. For political savoir faire he is by far the best we have found in years. What a pity he has not more technical ability. I told him to stand firm.
November 7 Monday: Another day writing.
November 8 Tuesday: I hear Jane Tate looks better. Very relieved. Eddie told me that Pat Bond’s concert has had to be cancelled owing to a strike of Council employees. It is too bad.
November 9 Wednesday: Writing all day again.
November 10 Thursday: I hoped to have been finished today, but I think there will be another week in it.
November 11 Friday (London): The weather remains mild. Before leaving for London I cut the last marrows and courgettes and brought in tomatoes. The Tropaeolums are just as they would be in September, perfect. There are poppies too. I reached London in the late afternoon and saw Eddie Cowman. I hear Madge Davison is coming over. I went with Eddie to see Jane Tate. She looks fair enough and is certainly pleased at the visitors she gets. It poured rain.
November 12 Saturday: I started on the paper. And in the afternoon went to Pat O’Donohue’s wedding. Brian Crowley and Geraldine were there, Gerry Curran and Toni Curran.
November 13 Sunday: We had the Standing Committee in the morning. Gerry Curran and Toni Curran were both there. I was not very impressed with prospects and I badly want to retire from the grind of editorial work. Kath Scorer had told Charlie Cunningham that it was proposed to bring him on to the E.C. of the NCCL – no question of asking us to nominate somebody. And then Bill Dunn [a CPGB official] asked Charlie to see him. The No.1 District of the TGWU is to run a week of activity in favour of the “Better Life for All Campaign” in February. For some reason Dunn has been given the task of organising it. He asked Charlie for information, and he referred him to me.
November 14 Monday: I worked on the paper. Stella Bond was in for a while and Eddie Cowman came in for an hour or two, though it was his day off.
November 15 Tuesday: I continued on the paper. And then in the evening Pat Bond told me that Gerry had brought the last one out a week late. Nobody had troubled to tell me! Gloria Devine came in, very pleased at the new turn of the CP events. On that matter, when I had dinner with Alan Morton last night he told me he thinks much the same as I do of the new programme – much ado about nothing. “But I’m not interested in other peoples’ opinions anymore,” he said. “I know my own and that’s that.” He thought they were foolish to boost Russian dissidents. I said apropos of the first, that it was a sign of age. This he admitted. He is 67. However, Eddie Cowman told me that Myant had declared the “British Road to Socialism” to be “the greatest piece of Marxist thinking in Britain this century.” But I am afraid it confuses two things – how to make people want socialism when they don’t, and how to get it when they want it. Incidentally, Alan told me that young Egon had failed to return from Italy and did not go to the art school. Afterwards it was discovered that he had not attended any of his classes and had been kicked out. This came from Alisoun. I find it hard to credit. Alan Morton does not think much of Conor. He likes Bebhinn best. Well, of course she is a delightful wee girl, a little charmer.
I had heard from Eddie that Jane Tate is worse, a clot having been discovered, but they think in time. Gloria thought she was better. She showed me the CP resolution. It states that the “ultimate solution” is a “united socialist Ireland”. Would they have said the solution in India was a socialistIndia? They are taking steps to do a great deal of work, but all I fear on a Six County partitionist basis. And on the various advisory committees are planted members of Clann na hEireann. I have more than a feeling that the result may be like that of Browder in the USA [who favoured the liquidation of the US Communist Party following World War 2 in a hoped-for context of international detente]. I noticed Alan Morton was somewhat – I would not say bitter, but rueful. He deplored the amount of time they had made him waste: “the deplorable waste of peoples’ talents.” And he blames it all on “sectarianism” and, said I, “corresponding arrogance”. But we have no choice but to let the young people get on with it.
November 16 Wednesday: I had a visit from Madge Davison. She was surprised that I had not received an invitation to the Congress – though one may have come and been lost with some other letters. She informed me that she had been at first inclined to favour Irene Brennan, but that now she has realised her mistake. The woman is up to the neck in SFWP affairs [ie. Sinn Fein the Workers Party]. She told me that the CPI are meeting the CPGB in December – in Dublin! It is proposed to tell them to instruct all Clann na hEireann members to choose between the two organisations. There is great indignation about this and resolutions were presented to Congress referring to the “two Marxist parties in Ireland”. So we will see what happens. This has all arisen from nonsense. One sees incidentally why Irene Brennan proposed herself for the Irish responsibility. Madge Davison also told me that the Orangemen had made a clean sweep of Andy Barr and all other communists from the Trade Union committees, and when Barr retires next year the field will be empty. She is just beginning to see there is something in the national question.
November 17 Thursday (Liverpool): I left Eddie Cowman a little dejected at the turn of events. He thinks the best move will be to do away with “democratic centralism”, but I told him there were various ways of doing things in the past and there were likely to be in the future. He should look to effects, not words. I came to Liverpool, and it struck me there is gong to be a political battle royal and it cannot be avoided. For if Irene Brennan calls a national meeting on the Irish question with the Clann na hEireanns there will be ructions; if without, then she is a lost woman. It will not take place for a few months, I think.
November 18 Friday: I got on with the revision of a chapter of O’Casey. The weather is colder but I’m still eating my own marrows and pumpkins.
November 19 Saturday: I spent the day writing.
November 20 Sunday: Another day writing. Jane Tate rang up expressing appreciation of all the people who called on her. The clot is still there.
November 21 Monday (Birmingham): I did some writing. Then I took the train to Birmingham where Mark Clinton had arranged a meeting. There were Sean Kenny, Glenholmes, Mark Clinton and Lindsay. Glenholmes was raided by ten policemen at each door, complete with guns. Apparently his brother, a notorious “Provisional”, was seized and flown to London, held there for four days, then flown back. During the four days the London police insisted on the raid on Glenholmes, although the Birmingham police with whom he is on good terms did not wish to carry in out. This is the pass things have come to. But he is now more interested. Mark Clinton told me that a man whom he thinks is Clann na hEireann and went up as a CP candidate may be working full-time very shortly [ie. for the CPGB]. I was not pleased. I stayed overnight at Mark Clinton’s flat.
November 22 Tuesday (London): I went on to London and worked on the paper. Eddie Cowman was hard at work for the conference.
November 23 Wednesday: Again I was busy with the paper. I learned that May Hayes is in London [May Hayes was a former Connolly Association member then living in Ireland, who had assisted Greaves when he was running the Irish Exiles Advisory Bureau in London during World War 2]. Micklewright is ill and can’t come on Sunday.
November 24 Thursday: I worked on the paper and got back the proofs of seven pages. In the evening I went to the South London branch. A poor attendance.
November 25 Friday: I was in the office most of the day. Pat Bond came in for a serious talk. The question is whether, in the universal state of demoralization, we can keep the Connolly Association going. I said I thought we might continue till our lease expires. We are in danger of losing Eddie Cowman. He is very upset by the CP position. And we lack money. We decided to hang on for the present. But it is going to be far from easy. Pat Bond is not sanguine about the CP either. He mentioned an article in the “Economist”.
November 26 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning. Jane Tate has gone away to a convalescent home. In the afternoon I went to Foyles and bought the “Life and the Poems of Wilfred Owen”. Partly this is because Cowasjee [ie. the Sean O’Casey academic critic] thought the “Silver Tassie” was founded on the “Disabled,” but also for the sake of “Auld Lang Syne”. It must have been around 1934 that Alan Hodge (now editor of “History Today”, or was till recently) introduced me to Owen’s work. I was at that time concentrating on poetry, for which I get so little time now. He told me that Owen had been at Birkenhead Institute. I wrote to the headmaster, E. Wynne Hughes, a nasty little vanity bags, very unlike his predecessor, Smallpage. Hughes had never heard of Owen. But either he or Allison asked me to write an article for his magazine. It was the first historical research I ever did, and of course I had only the vaguest of ideas. It did not even occur to me that if Owen had younger brothers, they would then be in their thirties. Owen was born twenty years before me, and that seemed in another age. But I wrote to Smallpage. He told me that Owen’s special school friend was Paton. I am convinced I ws taught by his sister when I would be about ten years old. I started reading the “Life”.
November 27 Sunday: The Conference began today. Jock Stallard took the chair. The afternoon session was destroyed by Una Milner. She spoke for an hour and it happened this way: her quiet voice sent Platts-Mills, her chairman, fast asleep. He stopped her when he eventually woke up. He should be made a judge. He can sleep in a most dignified manner.
We had a social in the evening. It was poorly attended but passable. May Hayes was there. She is building a small cottage in Mayo and will be here until next August to earn some money. And the Birmingham boys were also there. I heard from them that Michael Ryan is fooling about with the International Marxists. That fine young man who plays the fiddle was there – Ken Keable I think is his name – and told me he was not happy about the CP Congress. “They are forgetting the leadership of the working class.” I told him that this week I had bought Carrillo’s book on Euro-communism but found it hard to know what he meant. The “forces of Labour and culture” was one of his expressions. He said he read the phrase in another of his books but had given up trying to understand what he meant [The Spanish, Italian and French communist parties were pushing the ideas of “Euro-communism” at this time, reacting against various Russian policies].
But the real news came from Mark Clinton. He told me that Irene Brennan is going to marry the man who is going to be the organiser in Birmingham, and she will be moving to Birmingham herself. He notes that Frank Watters went to stay with Scargill for three days and suspects that he is seeking a post with the NUM. He is disgusted with Watters, and rightly if what he tells me is not mistaken. Apparently Collins applied to join again. Frank Watters asked Mark Clinton and GL [full name unknown] to interview him. GL was at first willing, but Mark Clinton declined. The nice little scheme of the Scotsman was to transfer the blame to the Connolly Association and make the issue not one between two international communist parties [ie. between the CPI and the CPGB], but between two Irishtishorganisations. What filthy snivelling shits they are! Mark tells me also that Pete Carter [CPGB activist in Birmingham] has an “unquenchable lust for power” and “will go the way of Jimmy Reid”[Scots radical trade unionist]. So the impression is of opportunism rampant on all sides, and nobody of capacity young enough to give the years that would be needed to rectify it.
I told Pat Bond that we should not let Eddie Cowman go without putting up a fight on the financial front to retain him. Otherwise we shall get the blame instead of those to whom it belongs. Charlie Cunningham has been on strike twelve weeks and is in a most despondent mood.
For my own part I felt I didn’t want to spend another minute in London and I went for the midnight train.
November 28 Monday (Liverpool): I did not sleep well, but I dreamed plenty. All night my brain was chewing over the tactics needed to save the CA. I decided ultimately that the only avenue open is an attack on the Prevention of Terrorism Act. I wrote to Pat Bond, Eddie Cowman and Mark Clinton in this sense.
I discovered that the Birkenhead Institute has called its library the Wilfred Owen Memorial Library. This was in the notes to the poems.
November 29 Tuesday: I worked on O’Casey. Eddie Cowman rang up to say Toni Curran had forgotten to send the cheque to Ripley and to get my signature. I rang Ripley and asked them to send her cheque to me, where I would sign it. Obviously she did not want me to know. She had written to Ripley apologising for the single signature and written to the bank asking them to honour it without mine! But of course they won’t. There was a long period when they paid on mine alone, but they won’t pay without it.
November 30 Wednesday: I did some more on O’Casey. I discovered that not only is the plot of the Silver Tassie founded on Owen’s “Disabled”, as Cowasjee apprehended, but the prayer to the gun in Act 2 is derived from one of his Sonnets, and the hanging crucifix from his “Calvary at Ancre”. Tomorrow I hope to go to Ireland.
December 1 Thursday (Dublin): I had intended to start a new book [ie. a hardback copy book for his Journal], but having used the dozen I got for three shillings over twelve years ago and not being able to find anything equivalent in the shops, I am forced to continue [ie. in the same hardback volume]. The quality of every single thing has fallen away disastrously. What you could get then you can not get now, only rubbish at ten times the price.
I went to Chester, Caergybi and Dun Laoire. Tony Coughlan met me at Amiens Street. Betty Sinclair rang up. Having heard I was coming to Ireland, she had got Michael O’Riordan to secure an invitation for me to the Russian Ambassador’s house where he is to be invested with the Order of the October Revolution tomorrow night. She rang to confirm it.
December 2 Friday: I did a certain amount of work, but the main event of the day was the investiture. Everybody was there – Sean MacBride, Con Lehane, Cathal Goulding, Tom Redmond, Peter O’Connor, Packie Earley, Frank Edwards and his wife, and Jim Savage, who got drunk and whom Noel Harris and I had to steer home to Tony Coughlan’s. We suspect that Savage’s being “on the batter” is the reason why Jim O’Regan did not come. Betty Sinclair was there, and Edwina Stewart, but neither Andy Barr nor Jimmy Stewart. Hughie Moore was there, the two old Redmonds, and 89-year-old Mrs McGreogor whom I had not met since 1947. I did not know know she had rejoined the CPI. She left because he son Willie was killed in Spain. Sean Nolan was there, Mairin Johnston, Fergal Costello too, but not Roy Johnston; nor indeed was there room for Cathal MacLiam or Tony Coughlan. The numbers were restricted to 90. Madge Davison was there. It was a festive occasion. After the Ambassador had spoken and Michael got up to make acknowledgements, Betty Sinclair, who was not too pleased at the drinks no longer flowing, shouted, “Make it short!” When Michael O’Riordan said modestly that he felt he was not worthy of the honour, she heckled “Hear! Hear!” There is no doubt she had a drop taken! But everybody took it in good part, saying to each other – “That’s Betty.” A copy of my “Life of Connolly” was presented to the ambassador and I was invited to autograph it. Nobody from England was invited.
Afterwards Noel Harris had a coffee at Tony Coughlan’s after Jim Savage had been, in effect, put to bed. Noel Harris was displeased at not being on the team that is to meet Jack Woddis and Irene Brennan on Thursday week. He thought it betokened a climb-down on the Irish side. There will be Michael O’Riordan, Jimmy Stewart, Sean Nolan and Tom Redmond. Apparently Tom Redmond is being groomed to take over from O’Riordan. I shudder at the prospect. He is weak, as I know from experience. Of course he is better than he was, but he’d never be a match for the Belfasts or the Londons. But Michael O’Riordan is apparently only 60, so he should have a few years.
December 3 Saturday: I went to the National Library but missed Daltún O Ceallaigh, whom I was to have met at lunch. He warned me that Michael Mullen might want him. Jim Savage was talking about the differences between the CPI and SFWP in Cork, and how he was shown a copy of Michael O’Riordan’s document, which as good as accused the SFWP of maintaining their organisation on the proceeds of bank robberies. He said Gill’s [ie.Tomás MacGiolla’s] reply was much more dignified. That is possible, but he had less need of indignation. Tony Coughlan took Jim Savage out to see George Gilmore at Howth and then put him on the train to Cork. He has gone to look very old
December 4 Sunday: I spent the day at Tony Coughlan’s writing.
December 5 Monday: I spent the whole day at the National Library.
December 6 Tuesday: I went to the Library in the morning, but in the afternoon called in to Irish Microfilms in Rathmines. Sean Brown, their director, runs the Academy Press and asked me if I would give them the “History of the ITGWU”. I might be glad to yet!
December 7 Wednesday: In the library again. I told William McMullen that Sean Brown might be interested in his manuscript and told Francis Devine also. In the library Scully introduced me to McGuiness père. I had sent some references to his son, a student. He complained. “Mind, the kids take it for granted.” He used to be in London, knew Dooley and Terry Ward, and was very republican but has moved, so he says, to the left. At one time he was Editor of the “Irish Press”. Jim McGuinness, I think he is. I think he is retired. Later Tony Coughlan told me that he had been director of Telefis Eireann. And then who should appear but George Kelleher, as fussy and as nosey as ever. He is writing a history of the explosives industry in Ireland and was very indignant when the English Security held him up for an hour at Heath Row. He has been worrying the life out of Daltún O Ceallaigh, but I told him there was no information in Liberty Hall. I don’t want to do any more unscrambling of the shambles.
December 8 Thursday: Tony Coughlan and I had lunch with Eoin O Murchú and Helena Sheehan, but they had little new to tell us, except that some of the members of SFWP have joined Merrigan’s new nonsense party [Matt Merrigan, 1922-2000, founded the short-lived Socialist Labour Party in 1977, together with Noel Browne TD]. I was in the Library most of the day.
December 9 Friday: I was in the Library but met Daltún O Ceallaigh in the evening. He came into the Scotch House with Paddy Devlin. “We’re running a factory,” said Devlin excitedly, “We’ve taken it over completely.” He asked me about the soviets in 1922. When Daltún O Ceallaigh came back after moving his car he could not wait to say, “Desmond tells me there were over 200 soviets in Ireland,” Afterwards Daltún told me that he had not consulted Michael Mullen, and he in turn when he appointed Devlin had not consulted his E.C. “Give us a few bob till we get settled,” said Paddy Devlin to Mullen. “What d’you mean by a few bob?” “Say, a hundred thousand.” So Mullen is a worried man, especially since Fianna Fail is gunning for him over Ferenka [a Dutch-owned business in Limerick that closed in 1977 with the loss of over a thousand jobs, following a long dispute between management and union].
December 10 Saturday: I went to see Sean Nolan and just missed Michael O’Riordan. I was introduced to Declan Bree of Sligo and was favourably impressed. He asked me to go to the Connolly Youth Conference, and I would have done but that I promised to go to Tony Coughlan’s “Sale of Work”. There I saw Cathal, Helga, Conor, Bebhin and Killian. The story about Egon is true and he looks rather sheepish these days. But I imagine the nonsense they teach at the art school will have “scundered” him. There is nothing so fatal as to study anything that you are interested in, in a college or university. They are purveyors of knowledge that is stone dead.
December 11 Sunday: I was working in the house all day. But in the evening Tony Coughlan gave a party, and Cathal, Helga, Micheál O Loingsigh, his wife, and Muriel Saidlear were there. It seems that Roy Johnston narrowly escaped being expelled from the CPI for making a fierce public attack on Eoin O Murchú at a meeting. According to Tony Coughlan Roy and O Murchú used to fight when they were both in the Official IRA. They met him in Belgrave Road and he literally danced: “They’re trying to expel me!” But last night he made an exhibition of himself. Apparently when Gaelic League member Fr McGréil accepted £1,000 from the British Ambassador’s memorial fund, Stephenson, as it were escaping from Elba for the hundred days, demanded that the Conradh should expel him [Stephenson, Sean MacStiofáin, the former Provisional IRA leader]. O Snodaigh was uncertain, and there was the threat of a split. Roy Johnston wanted the same nonsense in the Wolfe Tone Society, and last night when they would not embroil themselves in it, Roy lost his temper and called them “a bunch of lick-arses”. He is really getting unbalanced.
[On reading the Journal in 2002 Roy Johnston asked that the following note be inserted here:
“There is a reference on December 11 1977 to the present writer’s expulsion from the CPI which manages to avoid any serious explanation of the issues involved, and to add in the usual ‘character-assassination spin’ features. I did have negative experience of O Murchu when we were both in the Republican movement. He stayed on after I resigned on the militarist issue, and wanted to issue a damning statement, but was prevented by the leadership from doing so, who wanted to retain good relations with me, and to accept my resignation in good faith. Later O Murchu took up with the Eoghan Harris group who initiated the policy move away from republican objectives and towards support for international capital, welcomed as a ‘generator of an Irish proletariat’(!). When O Murchú later made the jump to the CPI, under unexplained circumstances, he was made welcome and lionized, rapidly becoming a guru of Stalinist political culture.
In this capacity O Murchú spoke at a meeting on cultural issues, as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations of the October Revolution. He defended the repressive Zhdanov cultural policies of the USSR, which had led to the isolation and persecution of numerous globally-famous Russian literary and scientific figures, and had stifled critical comment, I quite rightly attacked him for this, pointing out that if the Party was ever to have any influence it would have to decouple itself from this sort of carry-on and learn to apply Marxism creatively to specifically Irish problems. For this I was expelled, with a libellous character-assassination document being circulated by Michael O’Riordan. This event showed up the total political bankruptcy of the CPI, and its inability to read the signs of the coming disasters, which were then increasingly apparent …. RHW Johnston 9/1/02”]
December 12 Monday: I went into the shop and met Michael O’ Riordan. He showed me their fine new premises and we had a talk in his office. He told me about being told by Jack Woddis in Berlin that the Irish question was not being raised at the “Communist University,” then of his discovery that Tom Gill [ie. Tomás MacGiolla of the Official Republicans] was there, and how he challenged Irene Brennan and Woddis, who shuffled and tried to concoct an excuse. Some of the boys got angry – I guess it was Noel Harris, and that is why they keep him out. It was agreed to discuss the matter further and this is being done on Thursday. Michael O’Riordan presses for an “Irish Committee”. He does not appreciate that the personnel would be hopeless. I told him that if, when Tom Redmond went over, instead of pressing for a person “in charge of Irish affairs” he had demanded full support to the Connolly Association, they would never have had Irene Brennan, and all would have been well. I said I was not anxious to fight another long battle at my time of life. He said the CPI would like somebody on that committee. Certainly I would not oppose it. But I tried to turn his mind toward the meeting of people concerned with the Irish question. But again I would be afraid they would send Tom Redmond, Madge Davison or Jimmy Stewart. The sheer poverty of ability frustrates all prospects. I don’t know whether I led him to think. I hope so. I must admit that he thought that if a row started I would be unable to keep out of it. But I do not like fighting on ground carefully prepared by somebody else. The CPI are now finding out who their friends are. It would have been better if it had been recognised long ago.
December 13 Tuesday: I saw Daltún O Ceallaigh and exchanged words with Michael Mullen. We also saw Francis Devine, who repeated that Roy Johnston and Eoin O Murchú were at each others’ throats. Daltún said Michael Mullen had received a telegram from the owners of Antrim Crystal and that Mullen was in a fine state of perplexity, for he is out of his depth, and one senior official is in the USA, the other in Brussels.
December 14 Wednesday: I went to Liberty Hall with Daltún O Ceallaigh to sort out some things. Then in the evening Tony Coughlan and I went for a drink to Uinseann MacEoin’s. He and his wife particularly are inclined to the Provisionals, as also is his 19-year-old son, quite an intelligent lad, who has just left school. Uinseann asked me if the CA would support Labour candidates. I said most, but not all. In the course of conversation MacEoin said that the Provisionals were a trifle sceptical of Tony Coughlan because they remembered Roy Johnston. But, he said, turning to me, “They’ve got rather a soft spot for you.” Now this I heard before.
December 15 Thursday (Liverpool): I left Dun Laoire at 9 am. and after a perfect crossing to Caergybi came back to Liverpool, and mercifully found all was well.
December 16 Friday (London): I left for London and found Eddie Cowman in the office, still somewhat demoralised. He told me about meeting a character called Green at the Joint Sites meeting. This person, who is Irish, tried to persuade him to “advise” the CP. “What about Desmond Greaves?” “Oh, he’s got some differences with the party.” He did not say what. Now the difference can only relate to the Clann na hEireann alliance, which is not contained in any resolution and was carried out unilaterally by Irene Brennan. I disagree with one word in their resolution. But I think they should respond to Lynch’s [ie. Fianna Fail Taoiseach Jack Lynch] appeal for a statement that the Government favours a united Ireland, for this is implicit in the resolution. There is a considerable degree of twistiness here. But I do not propose to bother myself. Non bis in idem. I will remove myself if necessary from the stress of this brave old country that “has such people in it”. Their chauvinism is deeply rooted and Irish people can be infected with it.
December 17 Saturday: Noel Moynihan told me he has got the bookshop back into order after Toni Curran abandoned it, swearing she would carry on till Xmas, and on that pretext refusing to send Moynihan the order books. Jim McDonald came in. I asked him to give Eddie Cowman a greater hand by working in the CA. He told us that Green is a highly political merchant on his way to King Street. He says that the extreme rightwinger is Myant and that over the past few years McLennan has been under tremendous pressure from the University element [ie. in the CPGB]. Charlie Cunningham told me, in a separate conversation, that men who a few years ago would have used their own judgement now say, “I’ll tell you tomorrow, I must ask my young fellow.” All these are waves in the sea of nonsense.
December 18 Sunday: We held the Standing Committee in the morning, with Eddie Cowman, Pat Bond, Gerry Curran, Toni Curran and Noel Moynihan, and it was a fair success. It is a shocking thing however, nobody ever has any practical ideas but myself. If I were to cut adrift would they be forcedto think, or would they just get demoralised and give in? I thought Eddie Cowman a little better, but he has wasted his opportunity.
December 19 Monday (Liverpool): I came to Liverpool and started revising O’Casey.
December 20 Tuesday: I went on revising O’Casey.
December 21 Wednesday: And another day, apart from shopping, doing the same. A card came from Alice Taylor, but nothing from Bertha Taylor or Dorothy Greaves.
December 22 Thursday: Revising the book again.
December 23 Friday: More revision.
December 24 Saturday: I bought in a lot of food to withstand the coming week’s siege.
December 25 Sunday: Revision all day.
December 26 Monday: Another day on the revision. But I did a little on the paper.
December 27 Tuesday: I wrote to Alice Taylor asking about Bertha. As for the rest – the paper.
December 28 Wednesday: Another day spent on the paper.
December 29 Thursday: Another day spent on the paper.
December 30 Friday: I sent off the last of the paper.
December 31 Saturday: No sign of Will Pemberton this year. I wonder is he in the land of the living?
(End of Volume 28; c. 72,000 words)