- Jim London. (JIM LSJ) ex soldier wants to be hangman. socialist. ———–
2. Vinny Conlan (Vinny Cochrane) actor. brainy. inquisitive. ———-
3. Gerry Nagle (G Nagle) insurance company salesman. conman.
4. William Hendricks. (Wesley Hendricks) builder. cousin killed in Easter Rising. ——–
5. Peter Lynne (Pearse Lynne) teacher——–
6. Jonathan Wynn (Jonathon Roberts) painter and decorator. granny died in famine. hates blacks. ———————
7. Pascal Harrington (Causkey) labourer
8. Alex East (Alex Asgari) labourer. Pal murdered by UPA. ————
9. Damian Walsh (D W) farmer————————–
10. Roger Tooth (Roger Tooth) travelling salesman robber
11. Robert Johnson (J Roberts univ) chemist
12. Laurence Dale. (aMpleforth ex soldier teacher) ex soldier
13. Sean Tussock (Zhangir T) coal importer’s son
14. Niall Tussock (Nurzhan) coal importer’s son
15. Henry Tussock (uncle Hal) coal importer
16. Gabriel Tussock (coal importer)
17. Charles Williams (Will Charles) solicitor’s clerk. Irish lang enthusiast——-
18. Benedict Thompson (B Thompson) solicitor’s clerk. GAA——-
19. Kenneth Adams. ( A K ) farmer. religious reactionary——-
20. Michael English (Magnus) labourer. tags along. feeble. becomes informer
21. Seamus Simons (Simon I F ) barman————————-
22. Henry Brannock ( Henry W B) labourer.
IRA PEP TALK
The IRA were gathered in a cow byre on a hill that towered behind Clountreem town. There were no cattle inside the byre but there had been till recently. All the better to allay the suspicions of the RIC. Two IRA men with rifles stood guard on the hillock outside – in case the police came. It was raining softly. One IRA sentry wore a beige trenchcoat and grey trilby. His black trousers were very worn but his black boots were almost new. The other IRA sentry wore a mid green duffle coat and had a grey cloth cap on his head. Eyes narrowed against the breeze he drew on a cigarette and scanned the horizon.
Inside the cow byre the IRA commandant got to his feet. He was Peter Lynne – a 40 year old man of plump proportions. He wore a cap over his balding pate and the black greying hair was swept back over his head. Lynne had a round and reddish face. His teeth had a few gaps in them and he was a man of very changeable temperament. There were open windows in the cow byre – no glass. These apertures afforded enough light to allow the men to see. It was warm for January despite the sheeting rain.
All the others sat on rough and ancient wooden benches. Inside the IRA commandant said
”Men, we are here for training as you know. Weather is showery. Before we get down to drill and musketry we will have an orientation session. Remind ourselves why we are fighting and what we are fighting for. We are fighting to rid our land of the English invaders. Drive them into the sea. Till not one English soldier is left in Ireland – alive that is.
We will set up a republic. No police and no taxes. As principal of the national school I taught most of ye. I did not hide the facts about the economic exploitation of our people.
The English are an immoral race. The invented divorce. They founded the Church of England on the syphlitic mickey of Henry VIII. Church of Ireland is a carbon copy of it. These Protestants here are not really Irish. They are invaders too. They look down on us. They rule us and they fool us through the press. They own the newspapers. They exploit us. They own the land and banks. We shall take back our land from the English and the Protestants. English and so-called Irish Protestants are one and the same – Sassenach. The Prods are a garrison community. I am not saying to kill all these black Prods. But they must return the farms they stole from us 300 years ago. They stole all the holy places. The cathedrals are ours not theirs. They believe in heresy. So we shall drive out the occupier and the blasphemer. Each Prod deserves one bullet.
A few Catholics are hirelings too. They have taken the King’s shilling. Those who have sold out their nation shall get their just deserts. All nations are agreed on the fate of traitors. Be on your guard. We must be vigilant for Catholics who betray their own people. They may call themselves nationalists but they are not. This is a war. Make no mistake. There are two sides – the English side and the Irish side. There can be no middle ground. There can be no compromise. One side will be totally destroyed. Let it not be Ireland.
We will bring back our glorious language. We shall not speak English any more. Irish is the finest language in the world. We have more words than any other language
We will take the Isle of Man. We will liberate Scotland and Wales. We will drive the Saxons out of England and back to Germany. The English are Anglo Saxons from Germany. Ireland used to rule England before the barbarians came. The English in that late war were stupid enough to fight their cousins the German. Isn’t King George half German? Fighting his cousin Kaiser Bill, do you see? The English are a funny race – very stupid. They only won that war by the gallantry of the Irishmen in their army.
We are the most intelligent and civilised people on earth. We are the best musicians, poets and story tellers. Our smiths produce the most intricate artwork. Our culture is cherished the world over. We kept the lamp of civilisation burning in the dark ages. We are an isle of saints and scholars. We brought Christianity to the benighted English. We saved them from Napoleon. What thanks did we get? We are oppressed and ripped off.
The English choose a lion as their symbol. Yes, they are lions because lions only attack when it is several of them against a defenceless victim. Lions are also very greedy. The lion’s share. We shall beat the English because they have no courage.
We, the Irish are super soldiers. The Irish Brigade fought many glorious battles. The Irish Brigade in the Spanish Army made Spain a super power in the 17th century. The Irish Brigade in the French Army meant that France was a Great Nation. When there was an Irish Brigade in the Austrian Army they ruled the middle of Europe. We have produced a president of France – MacMahon.
The Duke of Wellington won the Battle of Waterloo. It was an Irish victory. The English have the cheek to claim it. The Brits are a lot of chancers and frauds. We turned against Napoleon because he turned against the Holy Catholic Church. The English are called Anglo-Saxons or Angles. Why are they angles? Because they are crooked. Never trust the word of an Englishman. They are congenital liars. You all know Arthur Griffith – founder of Sinn Fein. He pointed out how the Englishman and the Jew are confederates in their schemes.
The Irish in America won the civil war for the North.
The Irish Brigade in the Boer Army fought in the Boer War. Our men saved the Boers singled handedly for two years. But some treacherous Irishmen joined the English Army and the Boers lost . We support the Boer commandos in South Africa. In honour of them we use the rank commandant as they did. We all admired President Kruger [Lynne pronounced it ‘Kroojer’].
The Irish Brigade in the Germany Army in this Great War won most of Germany’s victories. Sadly there were not enough Irishmen there to win the whole war for our gallant ally the Kaiser.
Ireland has an empire – a mighty empire. We rule the United States and Australia. President Wilson is an Irishman and we have invited him to Ireland. In Australia we defeated the Aborigines. Our men liberated Argentina and Chile. Remember Bernardo O’Higgins. An Irishwoman ruled Paraguay. Our priests have brought Catholicism and civilisation to the benighted peoples of Africa, India and China. Our engineers and doctors have done so much for those people. There is a place near Australia called New Ireland. This is yet more proof of what we have done for the benighted races.
The English are an inferior breed. They are very ignorant. Yet they are arrogant shits too. I admit they have a low cunning. They get others to do their fighting for them. Never forget the British are crooks and conmen.
We invented the submarine. William Holland. We invented writing.
Englishwomen are whores. The English are immoral. We do not want their syphlitic race here. One in four Englishmen is born out of marriage. They want to bring their disgusting ways here. Their men are sodomites. Their culture is vile. They are scum. The smutty seaside postcard – vulgarity. Music hall jingoism. Penny dreadful novels. The English have no self respect – look at Gilbert and Sullivan. It took an Irishman called Sullivan to show the English how ridiculous they are. They are a rude and unlettered race. The English are degenerates and alcoholics. They have introduced alcohol into Ireland. They tried to get us drunk to enfeeble us and enslave us. Ireland sober is Ireland free. Some republican men have got drunk and then sold out to the English. They turned informer for the price of a pint. Thirty pieces of silver. Remember the rebel song the Boys of Wexford – ”We bravely fought and conquered at Ross and Wexford Town/ And if we failed to keep them twas drink that brought us down/ We had no drink beside us on Tuberneering’s day/ Depending on the long bright pike and well it worked that way.”
The Protestants own the breweries and the distilleries. Jamesons, Bushmills, Guinness, Beamish, Cork Dry Gin, Murphy’s – all Prod owned. Remember the tax on alcohol. Every time you buy a pint you are paying tax to King George. Every penny you pay is a bullet in the gun of an English soldier. If you must drink then drink poteen made at home. Do not buy it when it is taxed by the enemy.
We shall have Brehon Law again. That is the supreme form of justice studied by legal scholars across the globe.
There may be traitors n the village. There are boot lickers of the baronial class. So watch out for those who would sell their own mother. Look out for Judas. The RIC, Irishmen in the English Army or Navy. Judges even civil servants. Sold their birthright for a mess of potage. We shall have revenge on them. But a few of them are on our side – they do good by stealth and help us.
There are many informers so be careful what you say. Do not go saying anything about the Volunteers to anyone – even your wife. She might blurt it out.
”Commandant – how do we know an informer?” asked one of the men.
”Informers are Protestants. They are Catholic ex soldiers, they are alcoholics. That is how you know them”
Never forget the English are barbarians. They have murdered our youth, raped our women, tortured our old men and bayoneted babies. The Englishman is a coward and a brute. He only fight when he has a 10 to 1 advantage and artillery to boot. We have thrashed the British savages before and we shall do it again. We used to raid Great Britain for slaves. They were slaves in the slave markets of Rome. We had a literature while the Briton was a hairy ape;
The English and the Jews plotted the Great War. In 1908 the Freemasons met with the Jews and they conspired to start a war in 1914. The English are run by a Masonic cabal. Churchill and Lord Rothschild are the wire pullers of wars. They provoked the Germans into attacking Russia and Belgium. It was all part of a nefarious plot of their to conquer Germany. The English then slaughtered Belgian civilians. They blamed it on the Germans.
Vinny Conlan, one of the volunteers had listened intently. He was 25 and prematurely greying. He was slender and pale though with rosy cheeks. A gap in between his two front teeth distinguished him. He was a scruffy and manly type. He raised his hand,
”Commandant Lynne” Conlan addressed Peter Lynne most formally ”You said that Protestants are not Irish but then you mentioned the Duke of Wellington as an Irishman. He was a Protestant.”
”Ah no I never said that” Lynne looked a little embarrassed that his contradiction had been exposed. He wished he was in school where he could cane a boy for having the impertinence to ask a pertinent question ”I never said that Prods are not Irish. We accept them as Irish. Tis they say they are not Irish. There are some Prods are good and we accept them. We are not sectarian.”
”I see Commandant Lynne. That clears that up for me.”
Vinny Conlan wanted to point out that many Irishmen fought for the Confederacy in the American Civil War but thought it unwise.
”Remember we have beaten the English many times before. We shall do so again. In South Africa the English crushed the Boer people’s freedom. The Boer cause was our cause. We salute Kruger. The English wanted to take the land off the Boers and give it to the niggers of South Africa. That was disgraceful. There were some Englishmen like Cecil Rhodes saying that educated black men should have the vote. That was an outrage. The nigger is half devil and half child. We are not niggers or Chinamen. Yet the British treat us like them Confucians or blackies. The English are a mongrel race. They let blackies, Indians and Chinamen into their country. They are now half breeds. They miscegnate with these lower races. Go to any English port and you will see children of mixed blood. The English whores consort with the dark races. We deserve freedom. We are white men and Christians. The English may be foul but they are white. We do not wish to take their independence away from them. If the English had been conquered by the Germans that would have been different. The English are Saxons – the Germans are their kinsman only the Englishman is too stupid to know it. As Arthur Griffith said we are like the Hungarians. We can become absolutely independent and revive our language. Our language is infinitely superior to English. The English took our tongue away and so they tried to rob us of our identity. But still we speak English better than the English amadans do. The stars of English literature are Irish from Sheridan, to Goldsmith to Wilde. All true Irishmen. I know most of ye cannot speak Irish but we shall soon remedy that.”
The Gaelgoir raised his hand ”Commandant Lynne – when freedom comes shall we have Irish as the sole official language of the republic and suppress English? We should make it illegal to speak English”
”I am not sure about that? Ban it totally? Maybe. Perhaps encourage people to switch back to our native language. English will die a death. Anyway French is going to dominate the 20th century” said Lynne.
The Gaelgoir scowled. He clearly thought this answer was maladroit.
”Now the training officer will introduce himself and tell ye a few words. ” said Lynne.
Jim London stood up. He was 25 and had very thin dark brown hair. His eyes were small and far back in his skull. His cheekbones were prominent and he looked almost oriental. His complexion was darkly reddish. There was a barely suppressed violence to his manner. Jim London was heavily muscled and spare: he stood 6 foot tall. He wore a broad black brimmer.
”Good morning comrades” he said in a Cork accent. ”I am Captain Jim London the training officer. I am from Macroom as some of ye know. I was a butcher’s boy there. Then I went off to join the Irish Guards in London. Served in the British Army for a few years. I got promoted. But I fought with my officers who were anti Irish. I deserted the Brits rather than fight for them when they were crushing Irish freedom. Came back to Ireland. I was imprisoned for republican activities. Here I am.
We have to know this is not just a national revolution. This is a social revolution.”
There were murmurings of dissent. Lynne looked appalled;
”Ok not every one of ye is a socialist. But put it like this. We are the Catholics – the poor. The Prods are the rich. They are the exploiter class. That is why this is a religious war and a class war. We will take property off the rich Prod blood suckers and we will own it in common. Remember the Irish Citizen Army? James Connolly in the Easter Rising? He and his men were socialists. The Irish Citizen Army has now become part of the IRA. We are fighting to feed the poor. Never forget that. We will have socialism like in Russia where Lenin has guaranteed absolute freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Free elections and every person has plenty to eat. Fair trials. ”
Then Commandant Lynne opened the door. ”The rain has eased off a little. Captain London – would you like to take some of them men off for rifle training?”
”Yes, I would. Now we have only ten rifles. So I shall have ten men. The rest of you stay here. ” said Captain Jim London.
”Right. The lecture on patriotic history shall continue. I need to motivate you. You need to be pysched up to face the merciless foe.” said Lynne.
They were in a dell surrounded by thick woods. The IRA and before it the Fenians had liked training in this secluded spot. The sylvan surrounding absorbed the sound. They could fire here safe in the knowledge that no one would hear the noise more than half a mile away. There was very little danger of the RIC being alerted to what they were up to.
Jim London talked his squad through the parts of a rifle. In fact they had an assortment of firearms: shotguns and revolvers amongst them. The revolvers belonged to volunteers Nagle and Tooth. Nagle and Tooth insisted on having their revolvers back after the session. As the rifle was supposed to be the firearm issue to all the training concentrated on how to use a rifle. Some had never seen one before. He demonstrated how to strip one and reassemble it. This was done several times. He spoke to them about how to hold it and take aim. Then he demonstrated by shooting a few tree trunks.
After half an hour London had his men start firing. They had to be very sparing with shots because ammunition was so limited.
London relaxed and did not closely supervise his men. Jim London spoke to one of the volunteers – a 17 year old called Seamus Simons who wore a slouch hat. Seamus Simons had blond bouffant hair and a fox’s face. He was 5’6” and weedy. His squeaky voice carried and his skin was tanned. He had blue eyes that were full of mischief and a furtive manner.
”I don’t like that Lynne too much” Jim vouchsafed unwisely. ”He is in the IRB. Those IRB boys think they are so special. We should not have a secret society within an army.”
”I know Lynne is so arrogant. Like the English! He taught me when I was at the national school.” said Simons
”What was he like?” said Jim London
”A brute. I know every teacher has to beat you but he beat us more than any. And he was so into grammar. Whipping us for the slightest mistake. His father before him was the same.” said Simons
”You know he is the head of the IRB here and only because his old man was too. At least his old man fought in 1867. Unlike this fellow – Peter Lynne. Full of talk all right. He is good at talking history but has never touched a gun.” said London.
”Did he not teach you?” said Simons.
”Ah no. I am from Macroom remember? Only moved here when I was 12 so I had left school by then.” said London..
Kenneth Adams overheard the conversation. Adams was a slim but not weak. He was in his early 20s and a shock of mid brown hair was swept above his energetic eyes. He mouth was always a little open and his teeth were sharp. Spittle gathered in the corners as he spoke excitedly. ”I do not like Lynne either – nor the IRA. Oath bound societies are forbidden by papal bulls in eminenti and quo gravoria.”
”How do you know about papal bulls or whatever? You speak Latin?” said Jim London nonplussed.
”Yes, I do” said Adams preening himself. ”I spent a couple of years in Maynooth but I did not get ordained.” He looked down and blinked at the ground.
”Why not?” asked Jim London.
”Caught in a clinch with a girl.” said Adams
”Ah well – you are a great soldier for the IRA. Getting a shift with that girl – Twas God’s way of sending you to us , do you see?.” said London.
”And it is the IRA I am in – the people’s army. Not the IRB a lot of plotters. They seem like the Masons to me. There are Protestants in the IRB you know. ” said Adams
”That is why their risings always fail. They are full of informers. Prods are ratting them out.” said London.
”You know that Fr Meagher? I knew him at Maynooth. People said he was a sodomite.” said Adams
”Now, I am not that religious but there are certain things I will not stand for. You do not go calling a priest a sodomite!” Jim London twisted his head and gurned his face menacingly.
”Ah no. Sorry. I did not mean it” said Kenneth Adams laughing wanly. ”That was a bad joke.” He took out a packet of cigarettes and offered them around. He then lit up and smoked anxiously.
”The English are on the run. Haven’t I a brother in the English Navy? He was out in India lately. Bombay like. In the narrow streets there some English sailors are knifed to death. India is in uproar. The English will be kicked out of there next year” said London.
”Don’t compare us to the Indians” said Adams ”We are not niggers. Indians are heathen. The Indians are Hindus – praying to Mohammed. Indians burn widows and perform human sacrifice!”
”You are right.” said London.
”The English are terrible imperialists. The French are different. They are on a civilising mission. Bringing Catholicism to Africa and Indochina. That is why the people of Algeria are turning to Catholicism” said Adams
THE PEP TALK CONTINUES
Commandant Lynne continued, ”Our Church is a church of the poor. The church does good work for the needy. The Pope is humble as Jesus Christ.”
Vinny Conlan put up his hand again.
”Commandant Lynne – but the Pope lives in the lap of luxury. Bishops live in palaces with cellars full of wine.”
”Ah well the pope needs to live in a manner befitting his dignity. Cardinals are princes of the church. It is only right. They are highly educated men and they work very, very hard. The need comfort. Bishops need to be able to entertain. Anyway we are still a church for ordinary people. The Protestants are rich.” said Lynne.
”Commandant Lynne” Conlan continued ” I have been to France and almost everyone there is Catholic rich and poor. The wealthy are keener on the church than the penniless. And as for Protestants being affluent – well some are. But there are plenty of working class Protestants. Even in Cork. Some Protestants are poor. They are unemployed too.”
”All right occasionally you will meet a poor Prod but in general they are richer than us. Aristocratic locusts. They are pro English. They benefit form English oppression because they steal from us. The Prod landlords exploited us for centuries. Now they can pay us back. We shall take back the land that the bastards stole; The Saxons and the Prods are lice;’‘
A cheer went up with that line.
”We shall liberate Ireland and then Scotland and Wales” said Lynne
”Commandant Lynne – I know that we in Ireland want independence.” said Conlan, ” I want it as much as the next man. I do not think the Scots do. We have no business interfering in their affairs or Welsh affairs. The Scots are Unionists almost every last one of them. I have been to Glasgow and seen all the Union Jacks. They are royalists.”
”That is only because the English Army keeps them down,” Lynne sounded irritated.
Vinny Conlan scowled in disagreement. He realised he had overstepped the mark. Conlain recognised he better not speak too freely again.
”All right men ye can have a break” said Lynne.
The men sauntered outside and many lit cigarettes.
Lynne took Conlan aside. ”What the hell you doing? Who do ye think ye are? Spreading dissent in the ranks? Are ye a republican or a West Brit? I will have no more insubordination. You know the penalty for high treason to the Irish Republic?”
”Commandant Lynne” said Conlan striving to be respectful ”We are fighting for freedom. That includes freedom of speech. I am entitled to ask questions and to disagree. I will fight the English the same as you. I still have my rights. I will obey orders.”
”My order is to shut your face. No more questions that undermine the faith of the men in the cause. This is indoctrination” said Lynne with menace. Conlan’s eyes went wide and round with fear.
Lynne then ambled outside. He lit up a woodbine too.
”Tis great we have Dev in America” said one ” Raising publicity for the cause.”
”De Valera?” said Lynne ”I do not trust that half breed Spaniard too much. You know they say he is a bastard. I mean a real bastard. Mother was not married. Do we want a Spaniard to rule Ireland? Anyway he is only head of Sinn Fein. I know he calls himself President of Ireland. Tis the IRA that really counts. They say Dev wanted to be a priest but could not because those born to unwed mothers cannot be ordained.”
“That is a lot of British propaganda” said another;
“All right tis only a rumour” Lynne conceded.
One man said ”Me cousin was in the British Army out in South Africa. You know what the English did the cowards? They let Indians fight. They let Indians shoot at the Dutch. It is a disgrace to let Indians fight white men. The Dutch in South Africa are heroes like. It is their country. The English wanted the Dutch to let some blacks have the vote. An outrage! The English only attacked the Dutchmen in Africa because the Dutch are Catholics like.”
Later they went back into the byre.
Lynne said, ”Men, now is a chance for those of ye who want to stand up and tell the others why you are fighting for the Irish Republic.”
”I am a Gaelgoir. I was in the Gaelic League. Our language is our identity. I want Irish to be the real language of daily life. I am 100% Irish and I want ye to all be too.” said Charles Williams. He was a dapper man of 20. His light brown hair was very carefully brushed and heavily geled. His wore brightly polished black leather laceups – he had taken care to get as little mud on them as possible. His blue chinoes were pressed. Charles Williams wore a smart white and blue striped shirt – rather too formal for the occasion. His lime green sweater was a little effete as befits a bank clerk. He as handsome and had hooded eyes. His skin was a little tanned with a rosiness to his cheeks.
”I am a Marxist. We need to break away from the imperialist ogre. Help the other downtrodden races like India and South Africa get free” said Conlan.
Groans issued from the others.
Another volunteer stood up.
”I am in the GAA. We have our own sports, dancing, music, culture and language. We have ancient heroes. That is why I want us to be free.” said Benedict Thompson. They other applauded especially his team mates from the GAA club.
” My friend went to the North for work. He was murdered by loyalists terrorists. The RIC are not effective at stopping the UPA killing Catholics. Some RIC are even in the UPA. We will not be safe till we drive the English out and destroy their loyalist confederates.” said Alex East. East was a swarthy man in his 20s. His dark brown curly hair was very long and he affected a goatee. Alex East had hazel eyes and a turkey strut.
”We are a Catholic nation. It is our duty to establish the Catholic church as the sole legal religion in the state. Then we can have Catholic laws and moral purity. The holy places will be handed over to us. The Prods persecuted us for centuries. Now it will be their turn to be persecuted. The Church published a book saying the death penalty is acceptable for those who reject the faith.” So said Kenneth Adams. He was in his early 20s. He had mid brown hair that was just slightly untidy. He had a long but jolly face and a slim figure. His mid blue eyes were deranged and he was full of nervous energy. He wore tweed trousers and brown jodhpur boots. His white shirt had brown hatching on it.
”Me cousin was killed in the Easter Rising. I want revenge” said William Hendricks. He was young and 6’2” – he was spare and muscular with it. One could tell he was a builder just by looking at him. He had black hair with a slight receding hairline and very fair skin. He had hard blue eyes which betrayed a lack of intelligence or compassion. His teeth were a little gappy and his cheekbones were prominent. His chiseled face was not displeasing. ”I am 18 and almost 19. I will kill an Englishman before I am 20; so help me God!”
”My great grandmother died in the famine. Murdered by the Protestant landlord class. Let us have no more famines. We do not want to be treated like niggers. We are white. It is the darkies who should be slaves. And we shall have no Tinkers in free Ireland. I hate the Tinkers more than I hate the English – I really do.” said Jonathon Wynn. He was 5’6” and in his mid 20s. He was a fat figure and appeared to have no neck. His mousy brown hair was thin and spiky. He had bulging bug lips and vindictive eyes. His face was exceptionally ugly and he had an aggressive and persecuted attitude to match.
Lynne said ”The English treat us like negroes. Yet the English let their women marry negroes. My cousin in New York says negroes are the lowest of the low. They rape our women and try to keep us out of jobs. ”
There were several men who did not voice their reasons for joining the volunteers. It had been a very effectual sessions from Lynne’s perspective. He needed to imbue his men with a will to fight. The needed to detest the enemy. Then the could bring themselves to kill. They had been well programmed.
Jim London later came back and took the other half of the men off for training.
Damian Walsh pulled Lynne aside. ”Commandant Lynne could I speak to you privately?”
”Yes, certainly Volunteer Walsh.”
They walked away from the others and around the back of the byre.
”That Jim London fellow – the training officer. He was in the British Army.”
”So a lot of men were. It was economic necessity drove them to it. Conscripted by poverty. Only way to get three meals a day like. He was not politically awake back then. I forgive him. At least he has military experience. He left rather than fight for the Brits when they were slaughtering our people.” said Lynne.
”No commandant. It is not that I object to. He says he was kicked out of the Irish Guards for assaulting an officer for being anti Irish. Every man in that regiment is Irish even if Protestant. I have a cousin was in that regiment. He says that London was kicked out for stealing from the others. Served a year in gaol. He came back here. He was a mugger in Ireland. Was in Cork Gaol for that. I know this because I was a court clerk. Do we really want such a man in charge of us?”
”Volunteer Walsh; maybe Captain London has done wrong but we will allow him to work off his crimes. Anyway twas the English that drove him to steal” said Lynne.
”He stole off the Irish not the English. The English say the IRA are brigands and thieves. If you allow Jim London in then that makes it true.”
”Walsh I will have no more of this. I am the commandant of this battalion and I make the recruitment decisions. Your comments have been noted” said Lynne his hair slick with sweat. Lynne then took a swig from his water bottle and gurgled..
Later the men sat down to a basic luncheon in the byre.
A chubby 5’7” man of 40 was holding forth. He had a round and white face with purple cheeks and a revolting appearance. He looked asthmatic. His name was Gerry Nagle. Nagle wore a blue jacket with curious brass buttons on them – they had some design on them. He had a low brow and crafty eyes. He wore an expensive white shirt and crooked limbs. His brown but greying hair was slicked back. Nagle had gold fillings and he ate greedily. His grey trousers were costly as were his shoes – they were too good to be drilling in. There were some medals pinned to his jacket. An expensive watch adorned his chubby wrist. Nagle looked arounf shiftily as if he had his eye out for a chance to purloin a few goodies. His receding chin only served to emphasise the hideousness of his bullfrog throat. Nagle slavered as as he stuffed food into his blubbery lips. His shape was unaccountable; could a man be so obese and yet still move at a decent pace?
Beside Nagle sat a cadaverous man named Roger Tooth. Tooth was 5’9” – he had ruddy skin and hawkish eyes. His eyes were constantly narrowed – as though looking for an opportunity to steal. He was tense and shifty. There was an unmissbale meanness to him. It was blatant that he was forever calculating – his eye on the main chance. It was blatant that he had larcenous intent. There was a moral vacuity to him. He was clean shaven and his mid brown hair was carefully brushed. Tooth appeared to be a man of few words. His eyes darted around the room – as though looking for things to steal. Tooth squinted and his sharp fangs formed into a deceptive smile. He sought to psychologically disarm others as he prepared to relieve them of their valuables. Tooth moulted a bit and hair and dandruff coated his slight shoulders. This dandruff was the only generous thing about him.
”Look at these buttons fellows. These are buttons from the Irish Brigade you do know that don’t you?” said Gerry Nagle.
”No, I didn’t” said Conlan dubiously.
”I was in the Irish Brigade fighting for the Boer republics against the British. Their cause is our cause.”
”Gerry” said Conlan ” you were 10 years old when that war ended.”
”I was not. I just look young.” Nagle dug himself in deeper.
”No you were ten when that war ended. You were born in 1892!” said Conlan insistently.
”Well I was a very young and valiant soldier” Nagle said without being self mocking.
Some of the men smirked.
”You see this medal” said Nagle tapping a medal on his chest. ”That was pinned on me by the Kaiser personally. I fought in the GPO. When the others surrendered at the Easter Rising I refused to give in. I fought my way out through the English lines. I killed 10 men some with my bare hands. 20 bullets I carry in my body!” he said with a dramatic flourish in his tone.
”Bullshit Gerry. Not funny.” Conlan cut him down. ”It is an insult to the men who really died for Ireland that an impostor like you should claim to have fought in the GPO.
”No it is true” Nagle stood up in protest. ”I spilled my blood for Ireland!” he said in ghoulish braggadocio.
” Spilled your beer more like” said Conlan, ”Gerry, you are a Walter Mitty.”
”I am not. I have fought and bled for Ireland more than any man here. I am cuchulain. And you know that Prince John – King George’s youngest son. He died last year. The newspapers say he died of pneumonia but he did not. I assassinated him. That is right – broke into Windsor Castle and shot him” said Nagle vaingloriously.
”Gerry he was a 14 year old simpleton. You shot an unarmed child? That would be a disgrace to Ireland” said Conlan.
”No, I am a hero. I will kill any Englishman I come across” Nagle said his eyes writhing. Gerry Nagle looked away. Others chortled and jeered. Gerry just blocked it out. He pretended it was not happening.
Conlan began to wonder if this fool believed his own fantasies. His lies were so extravagant and unreasoning it was as if he had tricked himself into thinking that his stories were veracious. Nagle was morally repugnant but could be accepted as Irish. His eloquence was quite something. Was Tooth even a Celt ?
Later the men were drilling on the flat land. Many carried hurleys as there were not enough rifles to go around.
The cry of greeting went up. Some of the boys had seen Fr Downy walking up the braes.
”Father Downy – welcome”
He smiled. He was a young an in excellent shape. The gathered around him and pumped his hand – patting him on the back.
The IRA gathered around him as his faced was beaming.
”Tis lovely to see ye lads. When I see ye with rifles in your hands I wish I could rip me dog collar off and take a rifle meself to go out and shoot the English. Most of the time the English soldiers are down the alleyways with hoors. Syphilis killed more English in the last war than the Germans did.”
They cheered him raucously.
”Remember what ye are doing is no sin. This is a just war. Make no mistake. Feel no guilt. It is Christian what ye are doing . It is an act of love. You are doing it as the motto of the IRA says – for the glory of God and the honour of Ireland. I give you God’s blessing. The clergy should be in the IRA. You know the rebel ballad Boolavogue? ”Brave Father Murphy God grant you glory. They burned his body upon the rack.”. The English have murdered and martyred many a priest and raped many a nun. Remember the Blessed Oliver Plunkett? The English are an immoral people. 1 in 10 of them is born outside of holy matrimony. They are a bastard race. They are not a pure people. The English are satan’s spawn. There can be no negotiation with the devil. We are the best Catholics in Europe. The English have syphilis and that is why we shall defeat them” Father Downy scoured the faces of his men to see they were listening. He detected doubt in Conlan’s face. Downy loathed doubt – however insignificant.
Fr Downy then said a quick mass. There were decades of the rosary as well. A few could say the rosary in Irish but most could not. There were joyful mysteries and sorrowful mysteries to be reflected upon. He then blessed their rifles and prayed that their arms may be granted victory by the Most High.
PREACHING TO VINNY CONLAN
Later Fr Downy spoke to Vinny Conlan
”Father, in free Ireland could we have mass in Irish as it was in the time of Patrick.” asked Conlan.
”It was never in Irish always in Latin” said Fr Downy.
”But why not in Irish father? It was in Irish until the English came and forced us to have it in Latin” said Conlan.
”It was never in Latin” he was adamantine in maintaining that fallacy. ”It is in Latin. Because the pope says it must be in Latin and he is guided by the Holy Spirit. You are not getting Protestant tendencies are you?”
”No, I am not. I want our Catholicism to be as Irish as possible” said Conlan. ”In the 19th century the Church of Ireland translated the liturgy into Irish – tried to preach to people in Irish. Did not win many converts. But surely there is something wrong when the Catholic Church does not say mass in Irish. WHy not have mass in a language that the people actually understand? English even. Why in Latin? Just to be intellectually exclusive? The Church is not just for the clever or the educated. Most people left school at 12 and never did one lesson of Latin. The Church of Ireland which you say is an English organisation is willing to use Irish. I want us to be absolutely Irish.” said Conlan.
”The Catholic is as Irish as possible already. We will have an Irish pope soon” said Fr Downy
”Could we not have a cismontane church – keeping all the seven sacraments and the mysteries of the Blessed Virgin and all that but just worshipping in an Irish style” said Conlan.
”Catholic style is Irish style! We must be ultra montane. Obedience to the Holy Father is Ireland’s glory. When we went soft on that the English conquered us. I hate this heterodoxy from you Vinny Conlan” said Fr Downy adamantly.
”But did the pope not tell Henry II to bring us Catholicism?” said Conlan.
”That is an absolute English lie,” said Fr Downy.
”I was reading in the history books that the church spoke out against the 1798 rebellion” said Conlan.
”That is another English lie.” said Downy angrily. ”You must not believe everything you read. These books are filthy – printed by Protestant liars.”
”Were the leaders of the United Irishmen not Protestants?” asked Conlan.
”Yes, that is why it failed. They betrayed us” said Fr Downy with the firmest conviction.
”Father what should I do to understand the faith more deeply?” said Conlan.
”Read Cornelius Jansen. He has helped me understand the snares of sin. And stay away from Protestant propaganda. I am worried you have been looking at books on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Stop thinking too much. You ask too many questions. Shut your mind and believe. Do not yield to these trendy modern ideas” said Fr Downy.
At the end of the training sessions the rifles were spirited away to be hidden in a location known only to the quarter master sergeant.
Most rest repaired to a pub for revelry. Some teetotalers went home. Those in the public house drank. There they had a hooley. Porter was put away but more poteen. A single woman was there – presumed to be a prostitute. A respectable woman did not enter a pub on her own. A really respectable woman would not go in even with her husband.
Conlan then regaled them with a rendition of ‘The Banks of my own lovely Lee’ ”Where we sported and played neath the green leafy shade.”
Nagle then said ”Fellas I know the latest song. You know when that junior team in Fair Hill beat the older boys last year? Well here is the song”
Nagle stood on the bar and sang ”Here’s up them all said the boys of Fair Hill”. Nagle was a crook and a pathological liar but he had a dulcet voice. At the end they were half steamed and applauded him as a lovable rogue.
”I am the one who scored the winning goal” said Nagle.
”For the junior team? You said you were 40!” laughed Conlan.
”No, I did” Nagle doubled down. He was shameless and never one to let self contradiction make him admit the truth. He believed his own fantasies. ”I am a legend” he said defiantly. ”I have a 10 000 acre estate near Navan. Wonderful tillage there – fields of corn. We have a golden harvest. I will have you know I am on Christian name terms with the Duke of Devonshire.” He then effected a cut glass accent ”I say Gerry my dear boy how good of you to come to Chatsworth.” Gerry then reverted to his own accent ”You see like I said I am a legend”
”Yes” said Conlan smiling as a quip formed in his mind ”Because a legend is a story that is a lie!” The others laughed uproariously.
Nagle put his head downed and turned away. He hurried out of the room. That seemed to sum up Nagle’s attitude to the truth. He just would not face it. This would erase the humiliation in his mind. He was forever running away. He blocked the fact that he had exploited the friendship and compassion of others to steal from them even when they were poor.
Conlan got himself drunk but he was not a happy drinker. Soon he was stocious. His face was down and he was feeling morose. He blabbed to anyone who would listen. ”I do not like all this anti Protestant talk. Are we not to unite Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter?”
”Why do you love the Prods? Are you one? Sounds like you like the British – the Brits have brought us nothing but evil” as Hendricks contemptuously.
Conlan tried to painstakingly explain to Hendricks that the Protestants were Irish too. Some of them were Home Rulers or even republicans. They had a right to be in Ireland too. ”We were not always Catholics you know – we had our own Irish Church till the 12th century.” said Conlan.
”Trash! Dirty lies!” said Hendricks livid and quivering. Conlan had never seen him so irate. ”We were Catholic the day that St Patrick arrived in Ireland!”
”He was not sent by the pope. That is a mediaeval myth. You realise that St Patrick same from Britain” Conlan struggled to speak articulately as he was heavily inebriated.
”Shut your hole boy. I will rearrange your facial features if I hear one more word of blasphemy out of you about the sacred name of Patrick!” said Hendricks.
Through the fog of alcohol Conlan perceived that the threat was idle. He sagaciously chose to button his lip and slink off. He ingested no more beer.
Damian Walsh lived in the same direction as Lynne. Walsh spoke in a Cockney accent. ”Commandant Lynne; why have you got hat Nagle fella in the battalion?”
”We need all the men we can get” said Lynne.
”But you know he is a common criminal. He has been in prison for obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception. The man is a pathological liar. Did you hear all that about saying he fought in South AFrica? It dishonours real heroes when a charlatan like that claims to have been in the Irish Brigade.” said Walsh
”So? Ah nobody is perfect.” said Lynne shrugging.
”And that fella Roger Tooth – you know Nagle’s pal? Tooth has been sent to gaol for theft and armed robbery.” said Walsh.
”Ah well the courts in this country are run by the Crown. You cannot trust the verdicts. He was convicted because he was republican.” said Lynne
”He was not. He only joined the IRA last month. My cousin’s house got broken into last year. She saw a skinny man in the dark. She thought it was Roger Tooth but he ran off. He is her neighbour. She would recognise him even in the dark. You know some people have been robbed by a masked man with a revolver on the road to Kanturk? People reckon that is Tooth. The English call the IRA common criminals and you are making that become true. Yes, the courts here are run by the Crown but their decisions are sometimes fair. We would make the same decisions if independent. Many criminals are common criminals – thieves and sex maniacs like you find anywhere. ”
”Yerra shut up will you. Are you telling me the English Army has no thieves in it?” said Lynne fuming.
”No, I am not saying that but we are better than them” said Walsh reasonably.
”You sound like an Englishman to me with that English accent of yours. Listen we need every soldier we can get. Nagle and Tooth already have their own revolvers” said Lynne raging.
”But can we trust these bastards? They would do anything for money? They will be going around and robbing people saying they are doing it for the IRA. And when the RIC seek informants these two would be the first to sell us out for a few shillings” said Walsh.
”I have heard enough. I am the commandant. Now go home!” said Lynne.
Damian Walsh grunted – raised his eyebrows and cocked his head. He had tried his damndest to persuade Lynne that he was making a huge mistake by letting such undesirables into the IRA. Walsh turned off on his path to his cottage.
Later Peter Lynne trudged home. ”Back to feckin school on Monday. Teach those children? I might as well teach a school of fish.”