April 2015 Talk
Lighthouses of ireland
by Brian Maguire
Wednesday 8th April at 7:45 p.m.
The Iona Centre, Knocklyon, Dublin 16 (beside St. Colmcille’s Church)
Admission: Members €3, Friends €4.
…we’re all off to Dublin in the green, in the green
Where the helmets glisten in the sun
Where the bayonets flash and the rifles crash
To the rattle of the Thompson Gun”
Famous lines from the ballad “Off to Dublin in the Green”, written by Dominic Behan.
Less famous perhaps, is the fact that Revolutionary Ireland was intimately involved in the early development of the Thompson Submachine Gun itself.
The Thompson submachine gun or ‘Tommy gun’ was designed by retired US Army Lieut. Col. Marcellus Thompson, who later founded the Auto Ordnance Corporation to oversee development of his new weapon.
Financier Thomas Fortune Ryan became Thompson’s partner and set about finding finance for the new weapon. By chance, Ryan was also a senior member of Clann na nGaedheal and he was perfectly placed to contact Michael Collins who agreed to finance the project with republican money using Ryan’s financial contacts.
Early 1921 saw the manufacture of the first Thompson guns. Two of these were tested out by Clann na nGaedheal members in New York.
The IRA completed an order for over 500 guns, magazines, spare parts and ammunition. The Thompson soon saw active service in June 1921 with an IRA attack on a train in Drumcondra. The IRA were the first to use the Thompson in combat, but plans for its widespread use were put on hold when most of the Irish consignment was impounded by the US Customs and Justice Department prior to its shipment. Later 168 of the weapons that escaped confiscation eventually made their way to Ireland, and more would later follow.
The Thompson would later famously be used in prohibition-era gang wars in Chicago, and later still saw service with the U.S. Army throughout the Second World War.
The example shown in this post is in the collection of the Defence Forces Military Museum in the Curragh who kindly allowed us to photograph.
Click HERE to see this and other items from our Revolutionary Collection on Source
Click HERE for more info on the Curragh Museum.
As today is World Poetry Day and to coincide with the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the Dardanelles (Land) Campaign this time next month April 25th, I offer this poem, which I wrote after my visit to the Gallipoli Peninsula a few years ago.
The poem was inspired by my visit and also by the poem of the same name ‘The Irish at Gallipoli’ written by Irish Poet Francis Ledwidge before he was killed during the war on the Western Front. Ledwidge had seen the worst of the sufferings experienced by 10th Irish Division after the Suvla Bay landings in August and had penned his poem, while on a troopship sailing past the ancient city of Troy. The Irish and the other allied soldiers who served at Gallipoli had a healthy respect for the Turkish soldiers they fought in 1915.
The Gallipoli Peninsula today is a national park holding the graves and unmarked remains of thousands of soldiers on both sides who perished there. The poem is also a recognition of the, until recently, forgotten story of Irish soldiers lost during the conflict and to subsequent Irish historiography.
(After a visit to the battlefields -2011)
Today I stood above the Aegean Sea
listening for echoes I could not hear.
The silent tempo of the ground
resonates still on unnatural landscapes.
The zig-zag lines where dead men toil
dug deep into blood smeared soil,
buried now with their bones
on beaches and gullies where once
they fought the Turk,
stormed the shores and hills as if thrown
against the wind by Agamemnon himself.
The silence bade me look towards Troy
across the Straits from Helles,
I still could hear no voice, nor thunder in the sky
except the launching waves
pushing ancient pebbles up the beach to rest,
where once they drowned the hearts of men.
Then behind me I could feel it,
the noise of peace and echoes of war
in a thousand monuments to the dead,
stretched out in marching order.
And there, watching me, my shadow
took on the specter of a ghost and spoke,
‘Like Hector I was the defender
brave and virtuous – but of Irish stock,
I am the soldier my country forsook.’
And in response I said
‘I have come at last to pay my respects,
I have come to take you home!’
Michael J. Whelan
Michael J. Whelan lives in Tallaght and is an award winning poet, writer and historian. For more about Michael and his work, please see his blog.
As part of the ‘Matter of Life and Death’ programme of events in South Dublin County this April, the County Library, Tallaght presents a talk by Liz Gillis
‘Kilmainham Gaol and the Execution of the 1916 Rising Leaders’
on Wednesday 8th April at 7:00 pm.
All welcome but please book on 01 4620073 or email@example.com
Liz Gillis is the author of several books on the revolutionary period, including ‘Women of the Irish Revolution’, recently published by Mercier Press. She also works as a tour guide at Kilmainham Gaol.
The parish of Cruagh, situated near Rathfarnham, appears in the 18th century as containing the town lands of Cruagh, Glendoo, Jamestown, Newtown, Orlagh, Tibradden, Woodtown and Killakee. Today Cruagh is just a townland, after the parish was united with Whitechurch and Tallaght.
It is likely that St. Dalua, a disciple of St Patrick, founded a church that today is a ruin in Cruagh cemetery. Built around 580 AD, it was served by the vicar of Tallaght until the end of the 17th century, when turbulent times in Ireland led to the church falling into lay hands and finally disuse. A round watchtower was built c. 1820 on the site of the former church. It was constructed as an observation post so that a sentry could protect the cemetery from body snatchers.
A map showing principal industries in 1840 shows 7 mills on the Owendoher River. Millmount Mill had been operating since at least 1773 , it closed down in 1899. Edmondstown School is built on the site of Newtown Great Paper Mill, founded early in 19th century, and when in full work, employed over 600. Behind are the remains of Newtown Little Paper Mill, which had been operating since at least 1757.
Further up the road is Tibradden where there is a stone where Daniel O’Connell gave an address to the locals as they celebrated an annual day of pilgrimage in 1843. Also situated here is Tibradden House, which was constructed in 1859 as a wedding present for Mary Davis, whose descendants occupy the house today. Close to the summit of Tibradden Mountain is a 4000-year old chambered cairn. It was excavated in 1849 by the Royal Irish Academy who found a stone-lined cist containing a pottery vessel and cremated remains.
In nearby Killakee, the building now known as the Hell Fire Club was built around 1725 as a hunting lodge by William Conolly. The house as built had a parlour, drawing room and hall on the upper floor. On the ground floor was the kitchen, off which were the servants’ quarters. Members of the Irish Hell Fire Club, which was active in the years 1735 to 1741, used Mount Pelier lodge as a meeting place. The club’s activities at the lodge is often associated with a black cat. By 1799, the house was found to be in disrepair and today, the building is maintained by the state-sponsered company Coillte. Also nearby was Killakee Estate, which is talked about in a previous article on this blog.
On the northern slope of Mount Pelier, just below the ruins of the Hell Fire Club, lies the house now known as Orlagh. It was constructed in 1790 and was sold to the Augustinian Order in 1872. Eoin MacNeill was given refuge and slept in the college for the first few days of the Easter Rising. Famous visitors to the house include Patrick Pearse and Daniel O’Connell. Today, it is a retreat and conference centre run by the friars. In a field opposite is a famous well of the area that was unveiled in 1920. Crowds of people came to the opening, which included a drum band and banners.
Finally in the parish of Cruagh we find Woodtown. With a history dating back to the 16th century, it is home to two historic buildings; Woodtown Park and Woodtown Manor. Woodtown Park was built around 1700 as a farm house. In 1896 the Reverend Walter A Hill started a school here that was the first boarding school in Ireland which kept boys only up to the age of thirteen. It was once a residence of the MacNeill family and it is believed that final plans for the 1916 rising were drawn up here. On the opposite side of Woodtown Park is Woodtown Manor. Believed to have been built around 1720, an 1806 map of the Woodtown demesne shows the estate to have consisted of 132 acres, including a deer park.
This is an extract from John McManus’ book The History of the Parish of Cruagh: An illustrated account from the 6th to the 20th century which can be read in full on his website.