Century of Endeavour
The Greaves Jounal in the 1950s
(c) Anthony Coughlan / Roy Johnston 2003
The copyright on the original Greaves Diaries resides with Anthony Coughlan, with whom right of access and permission to publish any extracts must currently be negotiated, prior to their eventual deposition in the National Library of Ireland. Copyright relating to these abstracts belongs also to Roy Johnston, any extracts from which must be cleared by both parties. As usual, I use italics where the text is primarily my comment, or my abstraction and analysis of a major chunk of CDG text. The commentary is of course exclusively mine and should not be taken as representing the views of Anthony Coughlan on the matters referred to.
Enquiries to RJ at firstname.lastname@example.org; Anthony Coughlan is contactable at his home address at 24 Crawford Avenue, Dublin 9, phone 00-353-1-8305792.
Volume 10This volume of the Greaves journal is undated and reads like a retrospective account of his stay in a cottage in Curraun, which is the peninsula next to Achill, to the south. The journal was written up at one sitting, without dates. Internal evidence dates it to the spring of 1951.
I remember at the time picking up that it was his intention to isolate himself with the notes of his previous researches, with a view to drafting his book on the life and times of James Connolly. It begins discursively with an account of his departure from London, and some notes relating to Muriel MacSwiney '...who was also besieged by those of the left who claim to have inside knowledge why nothing should be done..'.
For his contacts in the West he was depending on Walter Dwyer, the Kiltimagh Communist plumber, who had been a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, the 'Wobblies') during his US epoch. He was in touch with the Kiltimagh group of members of the recently-founded Irish Workers League, which included a schoolteacher, one Walsh, and Tom Kilroy a small farmer, with literary talents.
The Workers League had been set up, and it is possible that CDG was considering setting up in Ireland for good, to help build it up, and this was an exploratory visit. I distinctly recollect it being said, also, that he wanted to have residential status in Ireland so as to be able to participate in IWL events should the need arise. This volume of the Journal however indicates that he drew back from this step, in the end regarding the stay in Curraun as an extended vacation, time for reflection, and getting the measure of the size of the Connolly project, which did not mature until almost a decade later. There is little explicit politics, but many acute observations of life in the West of Ireland; this, I surmise, must have reinforced his growing belief that the simplistic Marxist 'class struggle' formulations of the CP in Britain were quite remote from the Irish reality.
It was, I think, the spring of 1951, my final year in TCD, and I visited him for a few days during the Easter vacation. We must have had much political discussion, but there is nothing on record in the Jounal, apart from the fact that we climbed the Curraun mountain, which gave a great view over Achill, Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick. Later he records a visit from Walter Dwyer and family, including the subsequently famous daughter Carmel, who later married Caoimhin Campbell. (The latter served many years later on the Ard Comhairle of Sinn Fein with the present writer in 1969, going along however with the Provisional split subsequently.) There is a reference to the election, and to the Dr Browne issue. He picks up odds and ends of local politics and gossip. There is also a visit from Denis (Walsh?) and Justin Keating, the objective of which undoubtedly would have been to discuss issues arising within the infant IWL, but no hint is given as to what these issues were. There is much detail on how turf is won, and about some innovative small-scale machinery for use in that context; he provides photographs.
He goes up to Dublin for the elections, observing the final rallies with Paul O'Higgins. He remarks on how old and tired de Valera is, losing his magic. The Clann rally is much diminished. He speaks to the TCD Fabians, sharing a platform with Dorothy MacArdle, Desmond Ryan and Eoin ('Pope') O'Mahoney. Afterwards they discuss Connolly's background, including his birthplace, then thought to be Monaghan. My parents must have invited him for a meal at our house in Raheny; I remember the event; I would have had a hand in organising the Fabian meeting. The only reference to this is: '..As I left Dublin Joe Johnston remarks "this is the fateful day, the day of decision between Tweedledum and Tweedledee"..'.
The latter part of the journal lapses into pencil; he must have written up the whole thing, perhaps at one sitting, in Corraun, shortly before he left, and run out of ink. He concludes with the return to London: '...in the country of ill-temper, strain, food-poisoning, noise, snobs, degradation, decay...'. It looks as if he was attempting to make his Curraun experience into something publishable, along the lines of his 1946 cycle tour of the West. It does not, to my mind, count as a 'political journal', though it has political insights. He must have reflected on the experience of having helped to found the IWL, come to the conclusion that it was unlikely to have a serious influence on the development of Irish politics, and come away with a deeper feel for the scale of the problem.
Volume 11This runs intermittently from November 1953 to August 1956. He began it on the Liverpool boat on his way to Dublin, picking up the Connolly trail again. He stayed with Paul O'Higgins, then in his second phase as a student; having dropped out of medical school he started again in law, and this time did well.
November 18 1953: May Keating hopes he will use his influence with Paul to see that he pursues his studies; she is afraid for Justin. The present writer, his wife Mairin, and David Jenkinson get passing mentions; the latter is said to be thinking of emigrating to Canada.
DJ from an Armagh small-farm background was a stalwart supporter of the Promethean group; a chemist, he went into to agricultural research at Rothamstead, and ended up as an FRS and a world authority on soil science. NI Protestants traditionally emigrate to Canada.
November 20 1953: reflections on how people's dwellings illustrate their character.
November 21: interaction with Sean Mulready, with whom he spent some time selling the Irish Workers' Voice round the Dublin pubs; they sold 52 in about half an hour, but were told a few times to f- off. SM regales CDG with evidence of saying the rosary in factories.
After a walk in Wicklow with DJ, an encounter with the writer Rosamond Jacob, a further encounter with May Keating in which Dr Noel Browne, Noel Hartnett and others are discussed at length, he picks up an MS from Paul O'Higgins and goes back on the Liverpool Boat on December 1, reaching London on December 2, where he has to deal with a situation where Flann Campbell in CDG's absence has produced an Irish Democrat with Stalin on the front page: '...Flann has made a terrible mess of the December issue..'. (I remember this; it was a prime example of how the ethos of the CP in Britain percolated into the Irish movement via the influence of its members in the CA, giving an impression of 'ownership'. CDG had to fight this all the time, a situation which was eventually resolved when the CA adopted its new Constitution in 1955, which set it on an entirely independent course that has lasted to the present.)
December 13: there is a mention of Cathal MacLiam in the context of a group living in the flat below; CDG goes to Nottingham to address the Cosmos Debating Society on Partition of Ireland.
December 17 1953: CDG mentions in discussion with Pat Clancy a 'leftist' element in the CA who have links with the IWL. This later evolves into a chronic problem for the rest of the 1950s.
January 15 1954: Interaction with Charles Duff ('Handbook of Hanging'), Leslie Daiken; Duff regaled him with memoirs of Cahir Healy.
January 22: background of Cathal Mac Liam, at some length.
February 10: Justin Keating and Loretta; family questions and the Jewish background of Loretta.
There is then a long gap until July 15, when CMacL goes to Dublin; presumably Cathal living in the flat erodes diary-time. There are echoes of the Standard and the personalised anti-Communist witch-hunt; it seems they published the present writer's address, complaining about the likes of me studying cosmic rays at the public expense. Then in August there is a reference to Clancy being beaten up by thugs after a Hyde Park event. There is a further long gap until March 1956 when CDG records Cathal MacLiam marrying Helga. On April 17 he goes to Waterford, and then to Cork where he met Jim Regan, Norman Latchford, Cal O'Herlihy; on up to Dublin; stayed with Justin, the present writer it seems being in Kerry, on vacation in a cottage owned by my sister. After a further London entry on July 17 this volume ceases.
Volume 12CDG took up his journal again in September 1956, when staying in the present writer's then house on Beach Road Sandymount. He had come over again on the trail of Connolly contacts. It is for his biographer to elaborate on this. In what follows I note any points which seem to me to help with understanding the development of the Left in Ireland in the 'black 50s', and its relationship with the Left in Britain.
September 12 1956: CDG and RJ discussed how to get a job somehow for Cathal Mac Liam, who was planning to come to Ireland. It seems I had written a letter to the Workers Voice, presumably under a pseudonym, which attributed the current economic ills of Ireland to Partition. There had been a series of meetings of an '...extended executive committee of the Irish Workers League to discuss the economic situation. Only four people attended the first, and it was abandoned. The second drew 25 out of the 50 members in Dublin; ...it was made clear that such expressions as "nationwide" meant the 26 counties and that unification must not be discussed. It had been deliberately excluded, O'Riordan directed most of his fire against Justin..'. CDG then goes on to outline his contacting agenda, mentioning Tom Johnson, Barney Conway and others.
September 16-18: after some days of extensive Connolly-contact interviewing CDG and the present writer went off on our bikes into Wicklow, but CDG crashed his bike, in a context which suggested that his high-performance bike was not adapted to the irregularities of Wicklow roads. We returned by train from Bray. The next day Justin called, with a hand-delivered invitation to the next IWL meeting '...a quite unnecessarily laborious mode of communication..'. CDG tended to discount the paranoia of the Irish left regarding the Special Branch, rooted as it was in their IRA background. Then at the end of the Sept 18 entry there is a reference to a meeting with Packy Early, who had been a CA and CP stalwart in London, but was now back supporting the IWL. He had defended the CA from internal IWL criticism '...let the Standard do that, not us..'. Packy was of the opinion that '..the young lads from the League who had gone to England were making their attacks largely in order to avoid the necessity of doing anything..'.
He stayed on until September 26 and then went on a trip to Scotland, which included Edinburgh on the Connolly trail; he was hot on the scent of Connolly's early years which prior to then had been obscure. He came to Ireland again on October 6, arriving off the night boat, and breakfasted with the present writer and Mairin in Sandymount, then taking the train to Thurles on the first leg of a cycle trip round the south, making political contacts, mostly on the Connolly trail.
October 16 1956: '...his history is inexcusable, except in the sense that nothing that is silly enough to be thought of is too silly to be done. An elder son of the aristocratic house of Verschoyle in Dunkineely, Co Donegal, and sent to Oxford and other high-class establishments, he became a Communist in Dublin in the thirties and was sent to the 'Lenin School' in Moscow. There he proved unsuccessful as a student, though why I don't know, and was sent home. He seems to have embraced Communism as a religious rather than a practical political platform...'
'When his surviving parent died he refused the inheritance, but to make matters worse refused to sign any documents and thus deprived his mother and sister of theirs. They considered having him certified insane but hesitated to take the extreme step. His wild exploits as a propagandist for the peculiarly inflexible brand of leftism he had evolved would fill a book. He lived in the slums to be "near the workers", wore old clothes, trousers tied with string... But at the same time he exacted his tribute of admiration from those he had elected to join...'
'When the IWL was started I suggested to Denis Walshe that he try to persuade Goold to give them the money. The meeting took place in Roy's rooms in Trinity College. Walshe was sent out to ask me specially not to come to the meeting as my presence might deter Goold from handing over the money, though I had never met him in my life. So what precise arrangements were come to I don't know. It was stated that he refused to give it to the IWL but would give it to trustees provided they included Sean Murray.'
'With the money they bought the Pembroke Road premises, but six months later Goold had followed some crowd with a strong manifesto, or defied the committee on some other issue, and was expelled from the League. He was instrumental in starting a peace committee and was in the thick of the forays where gardai had to fire shots to protect the signature-collectors from an infuriated mob. About a year ago he came to England and started producing manifestos there. I published one letter of his with a sharp rejoinder. He produced a 16-page 'critique' of my pamphlet..'. Today through the post arrived his "Vindication of Joseph Stalin," which argues his thesis that present trends in Russia and the socialist countries of Eastern Europe constitute a "counter-revolution that is sweeping Europe..".'. It seems he regarded Krushchev's exposure of Stalin as a counter-revolution!. '...It was duplicated and had the imprint 'Proletarian Publications, London and Dublin...'.
It is clear that CDG took a dim view of Goold and regarded him as a madman. I recollect the Goold episode in the IWL; the meeting did indeed take place in my rooms, and CDG was there at the time; it was in 1949 or 1950. The IWL got their premises, and they were able to hold meetings in Dublin without having to go out to Carrickmines to old Tweedy's place, as had been the norm, it being impossible to hire a room given the pariah status of the IWL in the then Dublin environment.
October 26 1956: CDG has lunch with Peadar O'Donnell in which the latter promotes the idea of disbanding the movement (ie the IWL and the CPNI) in Ireland and concentrating on a broad-based paper to be edited from Belfast. He also wanted to disband the CA and get the Irish simply to join trade unions. He had in mind Anthony Cronin, then with him on the Bell, as editor. The meeting bristled with antagonism. CDG '...regarded Peadar O'Donnell as Fianna Fail's unofficial voluntary ambassador at large..', he could '...feel the chill of his concealed antagonism. When he sat down he began "Things are bad in Eastern Europe. Face the fact. There was a revolution in those countries and the people did not make it." But this was not his subject. "I'm going to write a book Connolly in Irish History". I told him about mine and it was immediately apparent he already knew. He enquired about Connolly's birthplace, which regiment of the British Army he was in... a regular cross-examination..'.
October 29: CDG quotes an anecdote about Peadar O'Donnell from Alec Digges, who was an International Brigade veteran. It seems O'Donnell called on him when he was literary editor of the Democrat and told him to have nothing to do with the CA. He said there was a group in Dublin that wanted reviews of films shown in London before they reached Dublin and would pay for this. 'You must have had some interesting experiences' said O'Donnell, 'why don't you write them in the Bell?' Alec said he would prefer not to appear in the same journal as some of the fascists who were writing in the Bell. This must have been the period when Paul O'Higgins attacked the Bell's article on Frank Ryan, under the heading "for whom does the Bell toll?". The Bell article on Frank Ryan was by Francis Stuart; I remember reading it at the time, and discussing with Paul its total lack of any political insight, message or understanding. Paul it seems had published a critique, perhaps in the Workers' Voice, and O'Donnell blamed CDG for it. This entry perhaps deserves further mining.
November 6 1956: CDG gets word from Idris Cox that O'Riordan and Nolan are coming to London to try to promote the sales of the Irish Workers Voice in London in competition with the Irish Democrat. The first echoes of the Hungarian events occur: Peter Fryer has left the party; he was the Daily Worker correspondent in Budapest.
November 7: CDG gets 3 letters from Dublin, one from the present writer enclosing a speech by Roy Geary on agriculture, one from Ina Connolly, and one from Cathal Mac Liam to the effect that he has got a job. The latter records his visit to Johnny Nolan in the shop, with CDG's letter of introduction, which JN absorbed in total silence; Cathal felt that JN thought he was 'an agent with a sinister mission'. He was not invited to join, nor was there any way of joining in evidence. Thus the paranoia of the then beleaguered Left in Dublin.
November 21 1956: CDG hears from Cathal Mac Liam that I have managed to get him a job in the Advanced Studies, presumably as a technician. Either this was a false trail, or he did not take it up, because I don't remember it. Perhaps I tried. The IWL is still cold-shouldering MacLiam. He is worried about Hungary 'can any ends ever justify such means?' Justin adds a footnote to MacLiam's letter, to the effect that the Dublin Labour movement has collapsed, including the left. '..Roy is closer to the IWL, never having lived in England. He can get nothing out of Nolan but "we're in for hard times". The hoodlums who smashed the shop have been fined and made pay damages. As for the North, Roy's acid Protestant wit came into full play. When some CPNI stalwart held an open air, meeting Falls Road and Shankill Road hooligans combined to attack him. "Working-class unity at last" says Roy..'.
On November 29 CDG arrives in Belfast and is met by Jack Bennett, a Belfast progressive journalist, working on the Belfast Telegraph, and acting as Democrat Belfast correspondent.. There are mentions of Peadar O'Donnell and Anthony Cronin; the latter went to Russia with an Irish group at Peadar's instigation, and wrote it up for the Irish Times. There are some critical comments at the expense of O'Donnell. The comment touches on MacBride, Larkin, Sean Murray, the Linen Hall, Brendan Behan, Tom Johnson...
Then on December 2 he goes to Dublin, where he encounters Cathal, Justin, the present writer, Nolan, O'Riordan, Jeffares, Mulready; there is much talk of the Eastern European scene; then he goes round the country, meeting with IWL support groups in Waterford (Peter and Biddy O'Connor, Jim Duggan, Gabriel and Mrs Lalor) and Cork (Jim O'Regan, Cal O'Herlihy, Mrs O'Shea, Con O'Lyhan, Norman Letchford, Donal and Maire Sheehan), attempting to hold together some sort of critical Marxist analysis of the current Irish situation, despite what went on in Hungary. There is no precise record about what this analysis was, but I remember him pacing up and down in our house in Sandymount, delivering what must have been a dry run for his damage-limitation statement, which depended on a virtual historical analogy, and it ran something like this:
'Imagine that a socialist Britain had been in a war with the capitalist US, and had driven the US out of Ireland, installing a government in Ireland composed of the current IWL leadership. Imagine that the Irish people had risen against this imposed government, with US aid, and that the British had again intervened to suppress the rising, and installed another imposed government, this time selecting their people a bit better. Which side would we be on?' One can indeed see the difficulty of the position of the left!
Back in London from December 15 onwards the narrative continues with mentions of Fred O'Shea, Eamonn Smullen, Paul O'Higgins, Peter Lalor, Cathal MacLiam, Helga MacLiam, Eamonn Lyons, Pat Bond, Amphlett-Micklewright and others. The O'Higgins-Smullen episode relates to talks between the IWL and the CPNI. Much of the argument appears to relate to IWL-CA tensions and IWV-ID competition. There is contact with one Desmond McGimpsey in Belfast, of whom Jack Bennett took a dim view. I recollect however CDG speaking highly of him.
December 22 1956: There is a record of an encounter with Cathal MacLiam illustrated by a photograph; he was on his way to Germany to see Helga's family and had missed the train to Dover. He is doing well in his Dublin job, still in temporary accommodation. He regales CDG with an anecdote about an encounter with a Garda, talking about the unemployed demonstrations, who attributes them to 'those that have been trained in the Connolly Clubs in England and are sent back here to make trouble'.
CDG spends Christmas 1956 in Portsmouth; there are long entries to the journal, but little germane; perhaps it is a family situation. Back to London on 27th, working on the book. On January 2-3 1957 Cathal and Helga occur; there are trunks; they must be taking Helga's stuff back from Germany, with a view to setting up house in Dublin. On January 27 Owen Sheehy-Skeffington gets a mention, in the context of CDG's suppressing a letter attacking the Irish Communists; CDG 'pleaded guilty and proud of it'.
February 15: It seems that the present writer looked in, having been to Bristol and Harwell on DIAS business, and decided to make an opportunistic visit to London. I filled him in on the unemployed movement; Sam Nolan was the leading figure. CDG: '...That two-faced scoundrel Peadar O'Donnell is intriguing with them.... he received a deputation from them in the Shelbourne, and advised them to confine their demands to that for "work", and put up a candidate in Dublin South Central, where Sinn Fein might rob FF of votes.... The lads demurred. Where was the money to come from? Peadar assured them that the money would be available...'. CDG immediately pounced on this: it must have come from Fianna Fail.
It seems I spent the weekend in London and returned on Monday 18th, having probably observed the Sunday Hyde Park phenomenon at Speaker's Corner. It is moreover noteworthy that it was even then FF practice to put up money for movements which were alternatives to the development of a political left. The journal continues, mostly on CA business, until CDG's next visit to Dublin:
March 4 1957: CDG stayed with us in Sandymount. He came over to observe the election, and attended some of the rallies, including that of the unemployed. Meeting Jim Collins at the Dublin Trades Council he found him gloomy; Labour was in for a trouncing. The unemployed meeting was addressed by Sam Nolan, Steve Mooney, Packy Early and one Liam O'Meara, whom CDG compared to Jim Larkin. He stayed over a few days, meeting Paul O'Higgins, Justin Keating, Desmond Ryan, Cathal and Helga MacLiam. According to PO'H they (ie Johnny Nolan and co) are talking of closing down the IWL and opening a non-political bookshop, under the guise of 'reorganising'. Their failure to make any statement on Hungary or the IRA was that they were afraid of injuring O'Riordan's prospects for a trade union position.
April 15 1957: it seems I paid a visit for a few days, regaling him with news of Dublin and Justin and Cathal. It seems that we had pressed successfully for the resumption of IWL meetings, and Cathal and I had attended; all talk however, without action. The unemployed movement had evolved into a small circle advising Jack Murphy, the unemployed TD. CDG: '..The capacity of the Dublin people to form groups within groups, like a nest of boxes, is beyond belief. I learned it without pleasure since it appears more likely to immobilise Murphy at a time when he should be following up his success with a campaign throughout the country...'.
On April 16 there is a long entry assessing the roles of the various people involved in the leftist take-over of the CA North London Branch; Pat O'Neill, Jim Prendergast and others. There is talk of a Peadar O'Donnell intrigue to turn Sean Murray in Belfast and Johnny Nolan in Dublin against the CA over the years. The demand was to distribute the Irish Workers Voice instead of the Irish Democrat in London. This was indeed a nadir-period for the left, dominated as it was by the post-Hungary reaction. On April 22 there is a long entry in which CDG records his impressions of the CP Congress in Hammersmith Town Hall. The analysis of this is for another context. At the end of this entry is a reference to an encounter with Gerry Curran, who has the news that Sean Mulready has been accusing CDG of having a 'friendly attitude' to the IRA. It seems the present writer had been told something similar by George Jeffares. Mulready wants the Irish in Britain just to become trade unionists; he is going to live in Birmingham.
May 23 1957: CDG is again in Dublin, staying with Cathal and Helga in their house in Finglas, where Cathal assembled a group to meet him in the evening consisting of Justin and Loretta Keating, the present writer and his wife Mairin, George Jeffares and one Cyril Murray from Belfast. The latter was in the motor business with George Jeffares. The next day he goes on the trail of Jack Murphy TD and the unemployed movement. There is talk of a march on the Dail; there is interest from the Trades Council, but Murphy is talking to John Charles McQuaid. The in-group advising Murphy feel that they are losing control.
May 25: there is a further encounter with Cyril Murray who turns out to be an IWL member with a Belfast republican background. He has heard of CDG through his being continually attacked by the IWL leadership and wants to meet CDG. The issue is that CDG only talks to ex-CA people when in Dublin and never goes near the bookshop. The present writer and his wife Mairin are involved in the episode, which takes place in Cathal's house in Finglas, where CDG is staying. He prefers to go there so as not to impose on Mairin who is pre-occupied with our new baby Una. CDG outlines his thinking on the relative priorities of socialism relative to the achievement of national unity. He picks up a whiff of Murray's 'republican' sentiment, and is critical of the IWL for allowing the 'republican' (CDG's quotes) movement to claim a monopoly of the national question.
There are more encounters on the Connolly trail, with Ina and others; these are concentrated mostly in the final entry of this volume, dated June 10 1957. During the tail-end of this extended Dublin visit there is an account of an attempt made by Cyril Murray to open up the debate on the left and the national question.
On May 27 there is an abortive lunch arrangement with the present writer, Cyril Murray and CDG, to which O'Riordan and Nolan were also invited. O'Riordan declined, but Nolan accepted and then declined. CDG was amused at CM's attempts to broker an encounter. On 29th he called to the bookshop, so he was able to tell CM the next day that he had seen him, much to CM's surprise. May 31 and June 1 CDG is on the Connolly trail; on June 2 it turns out that Cyril Murray is driving Jack Murphy and Sam Nolan to Cork for an unemployed meeting. Jack has not yet succumbed to the Archbishop's pressure.
June 3 1957: There is an (aborted) meeting of the IWL which CDG attends; Carmody, Jeffares, Murray, Cathal MacLiam, Mulready and others are there, but no Nolan or O'Riordan; the latter can't come, and Nolan is said to be sick. Carmody takes the chair and proposes an adjournment, since the importance of the topic requires the presence of the leading people. Murray objects; he 'wouldn't bother his arse' to come next time. Jeffares dismisses this as a 'bourgeois attitude'. After some heated discussion they adjourn the meeting, but invite CDG to say a few words, which he does, along the lines of calling for unity among all Irish socialists based on agreement reached by free and open discussion. One can understand Murray's frustration; he had clearly worked to set this up, and was upset when the leading people were absent. We clearly have a pathological situation, with CDG non persona grata when in Dublin among the leading elements of the struggling embryonic left.
June 5-9: CDG lunched with Murray, who said that they had 3000 at the Cork unemployed meeting, but no resolution or declaration of policy was passed, 'a regrettable omission'. The next day he called to the bookshop and found Nolan '..extremely affable.. I never knew him like it..'. He goes on on June 8 to remark on how the movement is depleted, many key people being in England. He goes back on June 9, and then the final entry is on June 10, dedicated to analysis of aspects of the Connolly project.
There is space at the end of Volume 12 for a name index, and a pencilled draft inserted.
Volume 13This has entries for June to August 1957; there is then a long gap until August to December 1960. These are abstracted below. There are further entries for January and February 1961, and we treat these in the first of the 1960s modules.
Then on August 28 1960 CDG resumes the journal, in Dungannon, after a session with Jack Bennett in Belfast, and one with Sean Caughey the Sinn Fein political activist, looking into the question of civil rights and the release of the IRA internees imprisoned during the Border campaign. The Connolly Association had been campaigning actively on this during the previous year and had got a large number of Labour MPs in the House of Commons to call for their release. He refers to Caughey having established a 'small but quite influential Council for Civil Liberty in Belfast, founding its tactics on the methods of "pressure grouping" adopted by the CA.'
He notes the change in three years. His Connolly biography is now set in type and he is beginning his work on the life of Liam Mellows. It seems I had earlier helped him with transport to find Mellows relatives. He cycles on to Omagh and then on to Donegal. Then on August 30 he cycles to Tubbercurry and calls on Pat Durcan. (PD was an IWL contact, with a trade union background; he had a job administering the social welfare locally.) CDG picks up the threads of the Walter Dwyer story. It seems Durcan was 'undismayed by the Hungarian events'; (these it seems are still at the top of CDG's consciousness). After making it to Galway on September 1, CDG finally ends up in Dublin:
September 2 1960: after some work in the National Library, he meets with the present writer and Brian Farrington in a pub at the corner of Cuffe St. Brian had earlier written a poem, 'The Emigrant of the 100 Townlands', which CDG had published in the Democrat. If I can find it I will reproduce it here, as it encapsulates the late 50s emigration environment with poetic skill and feeling.
CDG: '...he was delighted to learn that Con Cremin, the building labourer, had been learning his poem by heart. His hero is Yeats. Roy told me later that he comes of the same broken-down small landlord class that Yeats came from... I told him about Ewart Milne... he will make somebody else for Ewart to quarrel with. But unlike Ewart he does not profess to be a political theorist and is consequently open to learn from experience. He thought what he had seen of Milne's writings lacking in condensation and requiring the pruning knife. I encouraged him to consider a proper biography of Yeats. But he must go to Sligo and get to the bottom of his social roots, and fight the "irrelevant ingenuities of psycho-analysis"..'.
I showed this recently to Brian, and he remembered the event clearly. He had taken CDG's advice and written a biographical Yeats essay, published as a pamphlet in 1966, entitled 'Malachi Stilt-Jack'. (I have scanned this and have added it in to the support documentation.) With it he participated in a Wolfe Tone Society event, organised in 1966 in Jury's Hotel, in commemoration of 1916, which included also a contribution from George Gilmore, also published as a pamphlet at the time. This was in the spirit of the WTS's attempt to re-discover and promote the Protestant component of the Irish national culture, and set it in a political context. RJ August 2001.
September 4 1960: Back in London CDG '...met Tony Coughlan in the evening. He has now taken up his duties as full-time organiser of the Connolly Association, for which members subscribed a guarantee of £500... (After a period in Cork) he had the impression that Sinn Fein is dispirited because after four years from their zero hour, the border raids have produced nothing palpable. There is much confusion of leadership, mostly on grounds of lack of democracy and of receptivity of new ideas. Our reply to the United Irishman's small-minded attitude on the sellers of the Irish Democrat was very well received by six members of Sinn Fein to whom he passed copies. They all congratulated us on the "dignity" of our reply...'.
On September 22 there is a comment on Cal O'Herlihy who it seems is lost to the movement.... Then also on the 22nd the present writer, then newly in London and working for Guinness, borrows CDG's bike to go flat-hunting, getting fixed up with Bardy Tyrrell, a CP lady stalwart with ascendancy connections, in Hammersmith.
On December 4 1960 CDG went to Dublin and stayed with Cathal. Contacts included Eamonn Martin, Justin Keating, Nora Connolly, Sam Nolan ('..who returned from Moscow yesterday Dec 7. We did not discuss his visit..), Con Lehane, mostly on the Mellows trail; he returned to London on 17th. Note the pointed lack of interest in what the IWL was up to with Moscow.
[1950s Overview] [1960s Greaves Journal]
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