Aiming at suspected snipers – singing in the truck – paying at gunpoint – judge shot – RIC burn IRA safehouse – retired RIC man shot – Short gets drunk – SPEECh by Home Rule man
ON THE ROAD
Workman was delighted with the lorry. “Jolly good show!” he exclaimed falsely every time he stroked a feature of it. Like a toddler with a new toy he insisted on admiring it and ogling it every waking hour. Though the truck saved them footwork the men resented at having to polish the new love of Workman’s life incessantly.
Workman wanted to take his new baby out for a drive. “Get her ready double quick!” he snapped. “We shall got an bag a few of those Shinner jackanapes.”
The truck tore around the narrow winding roads. Workman insisted on it being drive at speed. This was partly an anti ambush tactic but also to get places before the IRA could have heard that there was a raiding party on it way.
There were several near misses. The lorry driver almost hit some pedestrians and did in fact kill two sheep whom a farmer was bringing to market. Workman immediately paid the man compensation – in return for being able to take the sheep back to feed the men. He was Nothing if not prudent with His Majesty’s pennies.
London grew a little bolder. He would have his men take up position in forests overlooking the roads that the RIC used. From a few hundred yards they would snipe at the truck. They hoped to hit a tyre. An opportunistic shot through the canvass might kill a man. The IRA caused only light damage to the truck. When the truck came under fire Workman would insist men stand up and open up gaps in the canvass to fire back. Their rapid fusilade never hit anything – they never saw the snipers. But it had the desired effect. The IRA would take to their heels.
One day the lorry was driving by a peat bog. Two middle aged men was cutting turf. One of them raised his spade and aimed it as if a rifle – pretending to shoot at the police he reviled.
One of the RIC men was standing. He saw the man aiming his spade. The RIC man – Sergeant – realised then it was bluff. He aimed his rifle at the man with the spade to warn him off his silly gesture. The turf cutter could have caused a misunderstanding and got himself shot.
The turf cutters soon went to Lismanistry. In the pub one of them, P J Corrigan said ”The Black and Tans drove by us. John Joe raised his spade as if to shoot. Scared the hell out of them cowardly Tans. Anyway the Saxons they then aimed their rifles at him. Bloody huns – trying to scare us like.”
P J Corrigan tale was overheard by another. He retailed it. ”John Joe was cutting turf. The Tans drove by and he aimed his spade at them as if it was a rifle. The English saw it and he had scared the shite out of him. Didn’t the Huns shoot at him?”
This story was overheard by another man. He went home and told his wife ”John Joe was working in a field. The Black and Tans saw him and they shot at him for no reason.”
This woman told her children ”John Joe was working in a field when then Black and Tans saw him. The devils shot him though he had done nothing. ”
The children went to school next day and said ”The Black and Tans saw two men working on a field. As the English drove by they shot dead the two men. The two men were not in the IRA or anything. ”
The story was picked up by the IRA’s propaganda department. They put it about that the Sassenach were in the habit of shooting any unoffending Irishmen they saw just for sport.
Short went to a bakery to buy bread for the barracks. The baker said ”No sorry we do not sell to the English” He wore a white baker’s outfit complete with hat and was liberally dusted with flour.
”You are going to have to” said Short.
”No sorry. Tis nothing personal” said the chubby old baker.
”Well eating is personal for me. Come on now I got the money” said Short ”I want ten loaves now”
”No you will not. I am very sorry but I cannot serve Saxons. I had a letter from Captain Moonlight. Sell to the Tans and die it said” said the grey haired baker.
”I do not give a fuck about Captain Moonlight neither – he can kiss my arse. That is all bollocks now give me the fucking bread or else. Here is the shillings” he slammed the money down on the counter ”I know your price I sees it there on the sign. Now gimme them fucking loaves and all!”
”No I will not take your money and you are not allowed any bread” said the baker looking nervous rather than truculent.
Short lost patience and drew his revolver ”Try chewing on a bullet Paddy” he pointed the revolver at the baker’s mouth ”Now give me them fucking ten loaves now!” he shouted
The baker turned around and grabbed the loaves. He stuffed them into brown paper bags as fast as he could and handed them over ”Very sorry for your trouble sir” said the baker
”Now Captain Moonlight will not kill you. You can say you handed the bread over at gunpoint” said Short. He left the money to pay for it on the counter
Short walked out of the shop. He had three colleagues waiting outside. “That dozy Paddy fucker did not want to give us bread. Shinners told ‘im not to or ‘e would get a lead injection. I am built like a brick kazi so I is not used to being said not to. I left that Mick ‘is money and just took the bread;”
The baker told his family that he had been robbed by the Black and Tans. It was also was means of avoiding repercussions from the IRA.
Short reported this to Workman; “Oh hang it all!” said Workman “Now the rebels are going to try to stop us dawing bread. It is a Wonder they do not burn down the bakery but that might anger the townfolks too much;”
London heard that a local judge was staying in a hotel not many miles away. They found out his room from a source in the hotel.
London and Adams hid out in an old shed near the town of Clanrolla. It was outside their battalion area but they did not respect battalion boundaries. They hid in a disused house behind the hotel. They looked up at the judge’s hotel room at night. They judged it for when he would be coming back from supper.
”I so want to get that bastard O’Reilly” said Adams.”Can I shoot him?”
”Let me try first” said London. Both he and Adams held rifles. ”I am a better shot.”
”This fellow – Justice of the Peace. He does no justice. He brings no peace. He wages war on Ireland. Serving the English. To think he calls himself a Catholic. He is in the Third Order of St Francis for Pete’s sake!” said Adams
”He has sentenced men to a few months for drilling. We warned the bastard. Captain Moonlight told him there is a death list and he is top of the list. Resign as a magistrate or you get shot. Well the mountainy men have come for him now” said London
”In a sense I got to respect him. He was warned. He had plenty of chances to give up or move away but he kept going. The man has courage. Maybe he believes in what he is doing” said Adams
”Ah do not respect scum like this. Taking English gold. Sending IRA men to prison. This bastard has to die.” said London
”I know that he is serving Prod power – a traitor” said Adams
The light went on in the bedroom
”There he is” said London taking aim. A figure approached the blind. London saw a silhouette.
”Now – shoot” said Adams. The figure at the window touched the blind and was just raising it. London aimed for the middle of the chest and fired thrice. All three shots hit the centre of the person’s chest. The dying figure’s hand was still on the blind cord and pulled it down as she fell. She!
”Its a woman!” Adams breathed in shock. They saw her black and white livery
”A chambermaid” said London in horror. They fled.
Once they reached the seclusion of the woods London briefed Adams “If anyone asks we had neither hand; act nor part in the death of that woman;”
“All right” said Adams “We will just say the Black and Tans did it;”
“Yes that is right. The British murdered an innocent girl” said London.
London could see from Adams’ face that he was especially trouble by the death of this person. London himself was not burdened with any conscience.
“Forget it Adams. Do not feel guilty about it. We did not mean to kill her. Whose fault is this whole war anyway? It is England’s fault not ours.” said London. Inwardly he thought that that woman was culpable for her own death: By looking after a judges hotel room she was a collaborator.
“But that must have been Aoife Duffy” said Adams. “Her brother is in a sodality with my cousin and her sister Carmel is married to a kinsman of mine.” The enormity of what he had done was seared on his face.
BURNING A SAFEHOUSE.
The RIC raided Lismanistry with their truck. The IRA scouts ran to warn people that the trucks were coming and blew their whistles.
Brannock got his boots on and dashed out of the back door of the house he had stayed him. He had risked staying in a house. He was fed up of living in the woods. He ran out of the back of the village – over the hill far away from the road.
He came over the brow of the hill to see three RIC horsemen cantering towards him. Brannock turned and ran the other way.
”Stop – stop or we shoot!” shouted Limtay. He was not frightened this time. He thought there would be one IRA man if that and there was only one. Louis had been confident that if they found a rebel he would be unarmed.
Brannock knew he could not outrun the horses. He was unarmed and put his hands up.
”A-ha what have we here?” said Limtay. ”What the hell you doing running away from the town at dawn?”
”Ah nothing sir I wanted some exercise” said Brannock looking at the grass.
”Do not give me that twaddle.” said Limtay. His comrades had their revolvers aimed at Brannock
Limtay dismounted. ”Hands behind you back.” Brannock obeyed. Limtay handcuffed him.
”What is your name?” said Limtay
”Er…. Fachtna Looney” said Brannock
”Sounds a bit of a looney name to me. I do not buy that. I can tell when a man is lying. I am a policeman. What is your real name? You want me to hand you over to Short? I am sure you heard what he does to people.” said Louis/
”That is my real name” said Brannock blinking.
”What the hell’s your name?” Limtay shouted.
”I told you Fachnta Looney” said Brannock
”Middle name?” asked Limtay
‘He paused and looked up to the left. ”Don’t have one”
”Everyone in Ireland has one” said Limtay. ”Now your name?”
”I just told you” said Brannock.
”Things will have to get rough. Don’t lie to me!” said Limtay. ”You no longer pretend you were running for exercise. Turn around as soon as you see the police. Your buttons are undone. Running in your jacket?”
”Brannock, sir , me name is Brannock” said Brannock
”I have heard of you. Now where did you stay last night?” asked Louis
”Spurling’s house” said Brannock
”Well let’s got and pay them a visit” said Limtay.
The three horsemen and Brannock got down to the village.
Seven RIC men were searching houses there. Limtay brought Brannock to Workman
”Sir we arrested this IRA man running away from the town.”
”Very good” said Workman.
”Said he stayed in Spurling’s house in the village. We knew Mr Spurling was in SInn Fein but not the IRA.”
”He is not in the IRA only Sinn Fein” said Brannock
”I did not ask you man” said Workman ”Keen to defend him. He had an IRA man staying in his house. Giving aid and comfort to the King’s enemies is high treason. If your friend Kaiser Bill was around he would shoot Mr Spurling.”
”The Kaiser would not do that he is a good Catholic” said Brannock.
”THe Kaiser a Catholic? Your ignorance is ghastly man;” said Workman ”You know nothing. And yes the Kaiser really would butcher the whole village for hiding a wanted man. Your Kraut chums really are beastly and we are not but you do not give us any credit for that. If the square head were around they would shoot every man in the village if there was one franc tireur. You Paddies really wanted those pickel haube helmets here in Paddyland? I wish you Micks got the Jerries here. You would soon be on your knees begging us to come back you ingrates. Right men – come on to Spurling’s search the house from stem to stern. Arrest Mr Spurling and burn the place down.”
”Sir do we really have to burn it down?” said Limtay
”Yes that is an order. Otherwise they just use it as a safe house again. The IRA has no compunction about burning unionist houses. I know we are kinder than them. We do not kill enemy collaborators. But we cannot be too kind. People will see that have so much to fear from the rebels and nothing to fear from us. They must see that if they assist the enemy they lose their house. Otherwise why not do it?” said Workman
The house was scoured and nothing found but for a few back issues of Nationality.
Spurling was arrested.
Brannock under questioning revealed the last IRA camp. It was a site they had raided before. The RIC got there to find only spent shell casings. Brannock convinced them that he did not know where the IRA had gone. Jim London was getting canny and not sharing his plans. If his men were arrested they would not be able divulge information that they did not have.
RETIRED RIC MAN
London was frustrated. He and his men were always struggling to keep one step ahead of constant harassment from Workman. But there seemed to be an easy target.
London and Black hid in a grove just outside the Catholic cemetery in Lismanistry.
”Scouts said he is on his way” London whispered.
”You sure he comes every Thursday?” asked Black
”Yes sure he has been doing it every week for years. Regular as clockwork – the same time of day.” said London smugly. “Not too sly”
”Why Thursday?” asked Black
”the day his wife died I suppose.” said London shrugging his shoulders.
”Ah come on this fella retired from the RIC 20 years ago. Are you sure we have to kill him?” Black said guiltily.
”We do. We are not attacking enough. It is getting embarrassing. We have got to show people that we mean business. This man Kerins he retired from the RIC but he could still be passing on information like” said London. He suffered no such prick of conscience.
”I strongly doubt it. You said his son is in the IRA” said Black.
”Yes but that fella is up in Limerick. We are here in Cork. Only one of his children is republican. The others are neutral. We will show them peelers that they are never safe. Join the RIC and you spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder” said London
Just then a stooped man in his 60s hobbled up to the rusting cemetery gate. He opened it gingerly and walked athritically up the path. The headstones were covered in lichen. Some graves were well tended. Others were neglected by relatives long since gone overseas. Philip Kerins was balding and moustachioed. What hair Kerins had was mid grey. He shuffled along the rows towards his wife’s grave.
London aimed his rifle at Kerins’ heart. ”I will get him when he stops. He always paused a minute before laying the wreath.”
Black looked away as London pulled the trigger – once, twice, thrice. Philip Kerins fell face first into the soil. Two bullets had struck Kerins but not in the middle of the chest where London had aimed.
”Let’s vamoos – as they say in America” said London with a cackle. They ran off to a waiting donkey cart. A boy from the Fianna Eireann drove them like blazes away into the woods.
A couple of mourners at another grave ran over to Kerins. ”He is still breathing” said a woman. They turned him over. He was bleeding heavily from his stomach. They asked a family at a nearby house to let them use a donkey cart to bring Kerins to the doctor. He tried to say something but could only splutter blood. Kerins died of exsanguination before he got there.
“We certainly outfoxed Kerins” London chuckled. In his head a rousing rendition of Amhran na Fiann played to celebrate this glorious Victory.
BACK AT CAMP.
The IRA flying column was camped in a clearing in the woods. They say in a circle and Adams treated them to his vision of an independent Ireland – again!
”So we will not have a president or prime minister. Holy Ireland will have a legate sent by the pope. A cardinal like. The pope used to do that with many places in Italy – send a legate to rule over them. Then Ireland will be the most Catholic country in the world. 100% Catholicism. We can have Dail Eireann. There will be a senate. In the senate we will only have bishops and arcbhishops. Like the French had in their estate general. First estate and third estate. We will have no second estate ; no aristocracy. They are all heretics. The Catholic nobles are all Orange collaborators. One chamber for the clergy and one for the laity. We will not kill the Prods. We are decent. But we will have Penal Times for them. They did it to us and so we will do it back to them. Give these apostates a taste of their own médicine. Tis for their own good. If it pressures them to come back to mother Church then we shall have saved their souls. No clergy or churches for them and extra high taxes. No schools for them and no owning horses worth more than 5 pounds. They will be forbidden guns. If they convert they get rights” said Adams.
”I want common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange” said Lorcan Malley. ”real communism.”
”O’Malley where you get these ideas from?” said Adams
”It is Malley not O’Malley” said Lorcan.
”The name is O’Malley” said Adams. He was exercised finding this Lorcan very aloof.
”I know it should be but when some clerk wrote it down at some point they dropped the O maybe by accident. Anyway we are Malley now so we will stay Malley” said Lorcan
”Don’t you want the same name as Grace O’Malley – our pirate queen? Ireland amazon?” said Adams.
”I have no time for prince or peer” said Lorcan ”We should sing the Red Flag. That was written by an Irishman”
”My flag is green not red” said Adams ”Why do we have orange on the Tricolour? I want a cross on our flag like Italy has. Maybe the papal symbols too. As for names – let’s change our names back to Irish names. None of this anglicising them”
Just then London came along with Black
”Good news lads. I killed Kerins. You know that old RIC man?” said London proud as punch.
”That old grandfather?” said Adams ”He retired years and years ago. I know he is from here but he served in the RIC up in Longford. Retired back here to his home. What you go and kill that harmless old man for?” He thought of Kerins as passive.
”A peeler is a peeler always” said London. “Dead RIC should be dug up and shot again just to be sure. The RIC the Irish ones are worse than the Brits<. RIC are traitors to Ireland.”
Adams suffered another Attack of conscience. He winced at the death of a peaceful old man.
SHORT GETS TIGHT
Workman was out on patrol. He had left six men to guard the station.
Short was smoking and giving vent to his thoughts.
”Fuck this Workman. Who the fuck he finks he is? Fucking Cheshire boy. Working class like the rest of us. Putting on airs and graces like he is some lord or somefing.” said Short vociferously.
”I know he pushes us hard but we have achieved results” said Limtay.
”Polish our boots every fucking day. Searching houses we know are clean. Just pisses off the local people. Does fuck all” said Short. ”And another thing – no drinking even off duty. What the fuck?”
”Well suppose the IRA attack and we are tight? We will not shoot straight. They can attack when we are off duty” said Limtay.
”Two days a fortnight I get to go to Cork or Tralee or some place they do not know me. Do a few of the local whores. Then get rat arsed down the boozer. But I want a drink here. What is a man to live for? ” said Short ”We could be killed any fucking day. I want to get sozzled.”
Short got up and moved towards the door.
”Where you going? ” asked Limtay.
”I am going down the shop – buy some drink” said Short.
”Short you know that is against regulations” said Limtay.
”Who are you my mother? Fuck you” said Short.
”If you drink on duty I will have to tell Workman” said Limtay
”No you won’t or I will knock your lights out” Short gestured with his fists.
Limtay shrank away. Short hurried out.
Five minutes later he came back with a bottle of whiskey.
He poured himself a glass.
”You having some?” said Short.
”No thanks. If Workman smells that off you or sees the bottle you will be dismissed on the spot. You realise that? Back to England and the dole queues.” said Limtay.
”So the fuck what? Might be better than being in Ireland. I have enough money saved up. There is jobs in the colonies.’ said Short. He then downed a glass of whiskey. “Next time we arrest one of them fucking Shinner cunts if that bugger does not start talking double quick I is gonna stick a bayonet up his Khyber.”
Forshaw had been upstairs and came down. He saw Short filling another glass of whiskey
”What you think you are doing man? No drinking on duty.” said Forshaw.
”Shut it Forshaw. You are the same rank as me. You can’t tell me what to do” said Short joyfully. “You gonna take the bottle off me is you Paddy? Come on then if you think you ‘ard enough? I do not like Paddies;”
”How about us? We are here for each other. The IRA attack we have to be able to fight them off. We look out for each other. If one of us is drunk as a skunk he cannot aim” said Forshaw.
”I am not going to get pissed. Just a few glasses. Never did anyone any harm” said Short then downing a second glass.
”I will have to inform Workman. You will be sacked” said Forshaw.
”You do that and I will beat the shite out of you” said Short.
”Where did they get you from? Before the Troubles police were always ultra respectable. No bad language and hardly any drinking. No going to women of an unfortunate class” said Forshaw.
”You are a facking mummy’s boy” said Short ”Where was you in the war Forshaw? Here in Ireland arresting people for making their own whiskey. I was in the trenches killing Krauts. Saw some of me best mates killed. That scars a man. I have some bad memories. I do not mind death but after all that a man needs a drink. I do not give a shit about anyone’s life including my life” he cackled devilishly.
Short then downed another whiskey. It was getting into his system and he was feeling woozy. They saw it on his face.
”That is enough now. Can I take the bottle off you?” asked Forshaw.
”You want some too? That is all right then. Then we is in this together as you say” said Short with a smoker’s laugh.
”No just give me the bottle please” said Forshaw.
”Not on your life. You will pour it out.” said Short.
Short poured himself a fourth glass. He downed that too.
Forshaw started towards the table as if to grab the bottle. Short shouted ”Touch vat bottle and I break your fucking neck!”
Forshaw paused – his hand hovered near the bottle. Then he took a step backward and then altogether withdrew.
”I won ; you lost. Vat is ve way it is always going to be” said Short slurring his speech.
Forshaw looked to Limtay to seek guidance. Limtay raised his eyebrows and turned his eyes to the right as if to say ”what can we do?”. They were resigned.
”Anyway I fought ve facking IRA enough” said Short ”Vey is Protestants or somefink and vey want to stay wiv England and we say fuck off out of it – you have to stay in Ireland. And ven vere is the Oranges in ve Norf and vey are Cafolics and vey want ve Prods down here to get to fuck. So we is ‘ere to fight them and all; In it. To fink I is a police. When I were a lad the peelers were like : oi! ‘ere; What’s your game ? Sunshine you is fackin nicked! They grab me by ve ear;” His rant was grating on Louis.
Short reached for the bottle. He swigged from it directly. It was his fifth mouthful of whisky in as many minutes.
”Short do me a favour. Will you give it a rest now?” said Limtay ”Come on we are mates. As one old soldier to another. Sleep it off. By the time Workman comes back you will be right as rain”
”I will like fuck. Have to be ready to fight the fucking IRA” said Short ”Fucking rats might be attacking now.” Short stood up. He walked maladroitly to the door.
Short tried to open the door. He was so malco-ordinated with drink that it was a struggle. He managed to shake the door handle to open. He had his whiskey bottle in one hand.
”I cannot believe they sold him that – it is a crime to serve alcohol to a policeman in uniform” said Forshaw to Limtay. The friction between those who had been in the Army and those who had not was palpable. Louis too could not help feeling disdain for Forshaw. On the other hand he envied him and admired him for staying out of the gory , mad horror of the trenches. Louis knew he had made grievous error in volunteering. Try though he might he kept beating himself up for being such a muggins as to volunteer. There was no morality and no justice in the world.
Short slumped on a stool. Seemed to have gone quiet. Maybe his inebriate state had gone from bellicose to comatose<. Just then Short roused and rushed for the door looking belligerent.
Short stepped out into the street ”Go and fight the IRA you said. I am here to fight and fuckers. Come on you yellow bellies!” he shouted.
Short took another swig from the bottle. He then took out his revolver
Forshaw followed him out ”Short what the hell you doing?”
Limtay had never heard Forshaw use an oath before.
”On duty to fight the rebels” said Short. He raised his pistol in the air. ”Going to shoot them” he took another swig
”Short put your revolver away – please” said Forshaw perspiring.
Forshaw looked to Limtay and mouthed ”do I grab it off him?”
Limtay mouthed ”yes”
People on the square heard and saw the commotion. They scurried away. Short then turned around to Forshaw and stared at him darkly.
”Don’t you try and take my gun off me you cunt” said Short. He then fired in the air.
Short turned around again – looking away from Forshaw.
”There is an IRA over there?” Short fired towards the far side of the square – hitting a roof.
Short staggered on several paces. ”There an IRA over that way?” screamed SHort and shot a wall.
Forshaw looked to Limtay ”We shoot him?”
”I don’t know” said Limtay fretfully.
Forshaw whispered to himself ”Public danger” and drew his revolver from his holster.
”IRA over that way?” shouted Short and fired into the ground to his left.
”Short put the gun down now!” Forshaw commanded loudly – aiming his gun at the middle of Short’s back. Forshaw suddenly perspired intensely unsure if he had the sand to shoot a man.
”Oh fuck you Paddy” said Short spinning around. As he did so the revolver slipped from his grasp and hit the floor – firing again. Short sneered at Forshaw and then fell over backwards. Short’s head his the ground and he went unconscious.
Limtay and Forshaw dragged him into the station. They handcuffed him and put him in a cell. Short was in a coma.
“Forshaw if push came to shove would you have shot him?” asked Louis.
“I do not know. I don’t like to think about it. He was a fool but he was still a man and a policeman at that. I am so glad I was not forced to decide.” said Forshaw
When Workman came back they revealed the whole story. There was the whisky bottle and glass as evidence. “You had a fracas or Something of that nature?” said Workman.
Short was sacked there and then. Next time an army lorry came he was taken off in his civilian clothes and dumped at the nearest port to get a boat home.
HOME RULE POLITICIAN’S SPEECH
It was market day in Clountreem. The town was exceptionally busy with farmers bringin their sheep and cattle in. Many people had set out stalls with commodities to sell from fruit to vegetables to clothes to shoes. Many of the garments were second hand. There was a liveliness that had not been seen in months. Trade seemed a little safer. Regular RIC patrols had meant that Nagle and Tooth were no longer predating farmers returning home with cash. Anyone who still maintained the IRA were actuated solely by high motives were seen to have lost touch with reality.
Alderman Finnbar Conlan took to a pedestal at the far end of the square from the police station. He rang a hand bell to draw attention to himself. Alderman Conlan was Vincent Conlan’s uncle but politically they did not see eye to eye. The alderman was in his 50s. He had thick grey hair and sagging cheeks. Alderman Conlan was decently fat in a manner that proclaimed his venerable years and prosperity. He had a sprightly manner and a kindly expression in his small pale blue twinkling eyes. He wore a dark rumpled blue suit complete with a waiscoat despite the August heat. Conlan perspired gently. He had brogues on – brightly polished. Alderman Conlan had a white short on with a detachable collar and a black tie – his wife had died some months before. He ran a hardware shop besides being a politician.
The RIC patrolled the square. There seemed to be little ill feeling towards them. A few people looked daggers at them – mindful of Short getting inebriated and firing into the air. Short had been dismissed but a few people seemed to whole the entire RIC responsible for that.
Alderman Conlan’s sons went around the market stalls and to the dealers in livestock. ”Our dad is about to speak come and listen! Stop trading for a minute. Dad is making a speech.”
”Who is that fellow?” Limtay asked Moore.
”Him? That is Alderman Conlan. Home Rule Party man. He was elected to Cork County Council a few times. Then in the war Sinn Fein got him out. He got re-elected again in January. People turned to SInn Fein to stop conscription but then things swung the other way.” said Moore. “Honourable man.”
Finnbarr Conlan rang his bell for a good few minutes before he had gathered a crowd of at least 50 people. Others carried on their transactions but kept an eye and an ear out for his oration.
Finbarr Conlan then began to speak ”Good people of Clountreem and the district. Good afternoon. People from Lismanistry, Ahabeg and other townlands are there. Even a few people from Kerry have come over the border. Good afternoon – welcome” he started cordially. He was just warming up. Saying not vital in the beginning – getting them to listen. “Men and women of Clountreem do we love Ireland?”
“Yes” said a few meekly not sure what this entailed.
“I said; do we love Ireland?” asked Conlan.
“Yes” a few more shouted.
“Sorry I cannot hear ye. Are ye Irish or what? DO we LOVE Ireland?” asked Conlan jovially.
“Yes” half the crowd shouted.
“DO you really love Ireland?” asked Conlan. He had been kindling their passion. Now they broke out into wild and raucous affirmation.
The alderman continued ”There has been fighting going on for a couple of years now. We had the German War and now this. Like every other decent Irishman I say – enough of fighting. To hell with fighting!” Spontaneous applause broke out.
”We have all had enough of fighting” said Finnbarr Conlan. ”It is time for peace now. We have seen terrible scenes in our district. Men and women, Home Rulers, Sinn Feiners and Unionist; Catholic and Protestant, rich and poor , old and young alike have been savagely beaten and shot. Robberies have been rife. People have been put out on the roadside and their houses razed to the ground. We have had enough suffering to last a life time. I say – end it now”
People began cheering.
”He is a good speaker but I have never seen the like of it” said Moore.
”There is no future in violence. What will Ireland’s future be? We do not know. It should be Home Rule and it may even be a republic. There may be one Ireland or there may be two. But one thing is for sure – violence solves nothing. Violence only begat more violence. The Irish Republican Army has been attacking the RIC and a few others whom they say assist the RIC. The Royal Irish Constabulary has been attacking the IRA and any whom they say give the IRA succour. Lately many Englishmen have come into our town to swell the ranks of the RIC. They are not trusted or liked. I say – no more RIC and no more IRA. My proposal is this. That the IRA and the RIC both withdraw from the district. We can have men of goodwill occupy the police stations and patrol. As good citizens we shall uphold the law in days of old. The old days were not ideal. A republic will not be perfect. But we can all agree that peace is preferable.”
Some people applauded.
”You may say this is impractical but it is not. This is how Ireland ran her affairs in bygone centuries. You may ask how this will stop the Troubles in Ireland. If we can have peace in this district we can have it in the next and the next. Soon peace will be spreading throughout the country. We are to have no more armed hooligan to dictate the citizens. We shall not be bulldozed by a knot of thugs!” said Finbarr Conlan. There was cheering. This positive encouragement then nerved him to move to the more tendentious section of his oration.
”That is my proposal to the RIC and the IRA. They both withdraw from the district. We have seen men killed for their faith. We have seen peaceable men and women shot dead when they were false accused of spying. Poor families have had their houses burnt down. Young boys said to be in the IRA have been beaten to a pulp by English brutes. Peace starts now!” There was wild applause.
Finnbarr Conlan stepped down from the pedestal. He was thronged by men and women. THEY shook his hand and patted him on the back.
”A damn fine speech” said one man
”Mr Conlan that is the loveliest speech I heard in my life” said a woman
”You have the right idea” said an old man.
”Sir, you are thinking just what I am thinking” said a youth
A teenage girl said ”Mr Conlan – a lot of people think the way you do only we were too afraid to say it”
”Seems to have gone down very well” said Limtay. He knew the IRA would be panicked.
”It does. It surprises me that even the gossoons like it” said Moore ”There may be hope for us yet.”
”But we are not going to move out of the station are we?” said Limtay.
”You are right. We are not. The minute we do that the IRA would move in. But it shows the IRA is more unpopular than I thought. I did not think anyone would dare say what he just said”, Moore mused.