Whoever first said that revenge is best served cold did not live in Ireland in 1920. In Cork city, revenge was a burning hot firestorm and it left many homes, businesses, and lives in its disastrous wake.
On this day in 1948, Brendan “The Dark” Hughes was born. He came from a long line of Republican fighters, and as he grew up, he knew that his own entry into the IRA was inevitable. He was right and he was an effective soldier. Later in life he often talked about peace, reconciliation, tearing down the peace walls, and improving relations in the North of Ireland – but he knew he was being idealistic. That peaceful existence may have been what he ultimately wanted, but his life was filled with violence, prison, hunger, and retribution.
If ever there was a man who stuck to his principles from birth to death, no matter what the cost, it was Ruairí Ó Brádaigh. He was born and raised as a hard-line Republican and he died a hard-line Republican as well, a little over eighty years later.
A little over 60 years ago, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) managed one of the cleanest military heists in history. It took about six months to plan, along with an IRA volunteer who actually enlisted in the British Army, and a whole lot of luck, but the raid was incredibly successful and they pulled it off without firing a shot or spilling a single drop of blood. Continue reading
On this day, January 26th, in 1904, Sean MacBride was born to Maud Gonne and John MacBride in France. He went on to follow in his parents’ Irish Republican footsteps becoming a soldier, politician and the Chief of Staff of the IRA, fulfilling their wishes to have an important and capable son. They agreed on almost nothing else, but they did want their son to believe in and work toward a free Ireland just like they had for most of their lives.
Sean was the apple of his mother’s eye and today would be his 111th birthday, which is hard to imagine when you see this picture, taken when he was 2.
41 years ago on Halloween a mysterious American man named “Mr. Leonard” pulled off a serious trick. He hired a helicopter for an ‘Aerial Photo shoot’ in Ireland. It was thought to be a scouting mission for a movie or a book of photography – at least that is what Mr. Leonard told Captain Thompson Boyes, the pilot. Captain Boyes was instructed to fly to a field in Stradbelly in order to grab the photography equipment but when he landed, he was met with armed gunmen instead. “Mr. Leonard” vanished from the scene while Captain Boyes got to know his new masked passengers, much to his own distress. He was informed that he would not be hurt as long as he followed instructions and he wasn’t but he wasn’t given a choice about being involved in a daring prison break either. If he wanted to live, he was going to aid in the escape of Irish Republican prisoners Seamus Twomey, JB O’Hagan, and Kevin Mallon from Mountjoy Prison.
On October 5th in 1974, two bombs rocked Guildford, an area south of London. The Provisional Irish Republican Army’s bombing campaign had begun in England and it was brutal and effective. The Guildford pubs were targeted because they were popular with the British Army and the explosions injured about 75 people and killed a handful more. This highly publicized incident aided in the passage of the far-reaching Prevention of Terrorism Act in the United Kingdom shortly thereafter.
Some of the most widely abused provisions under this act were that anyone could be stopped and searched and those arrested could be detained for up to 7 days, rather than the original limit of 48 hours. During that detention, many rights were misplaced and extensive and brutal methods of interrogation were used in an attempt to get confessions from prisoners. As the bombing campaign continued, it led to suspicion, violence and racism within the communities, whether the authorities were involved or not. It was not a good or safe time to be Irish in Britain.