Wednesday, 10 September 2014

SCOTLAND'S Working Class Heroes


Can ye no hush your weepin'
all the wee lambs are sleepin'
Birdies are nestlin' nestlin' together 
Dream Angus is hirplin' oer the heather
Dreams to sell, fine dreams to sell 
Angus is here wi' dreams to sell
Hush ye my baby and sleep without fear
Dream Angus has brought you a dream my dear.
List' to the curlew cryin'
Faintly the echos dyin' 
Even the birdies and the beasties are sleepin'
But my bonny bairn is weepin' weepin' 
Dreams to sell, fine dreams to sell 
Angus is here wi' dreams to sell
Hush ye my baby and sleep without fear
Dream Angus has brought you a dream my dear

(Stephan Coyle)
James ConnollyJames Connolly was born in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh of Irish parents in 1868. He was pioneer of the socialist and labour movement in Scotland before leaving for Ireland in 1896 where he took up a full time post with the Irish Socialist Republican Party, whose 100th anniversary is this year. This party sought to unite the twin strands of Irish Republicanism and Socialism into a single revolutionary force. Connolly later formed the Irish Citizen's Army during the Dublin lockout of 1913 to defend the dockworkers from the police and scabs. Connolly played a prominent part in the Rising and held the post of Commander in Chief of the Republican forces. He was badly wounded in the Rising and was executed by the British at Kilmainham Jail on May 12 whilst strapped to a chair.

Labour MP'S stood up and cheered in the House at the news of his death. The British left of the day condemned him for going to Ireland at all, including the Imperialist Social democrat leader Hyndman who believed in Socialism within the British Empire.

 Charles Carrigan

Charles Carrigan was born of Irish parents in the (then) industrial town of Denny, Stirlingshire in 1882. Modest by nature he possessed a keen intellect and worked as a tailor. From an early age he developed a love of all things Irish and was an enthusiastic Gaelic Leaguer.When Sinn Fein was founded in 1905, members of the IRB formed a branch in Glasgow soon afterwords, named the Eire Og Craobh. Charles Carrigan was it's first chairman. The branch was very active and organised Gaelic classes as well as holding lectures on Irish history and the contemporary political situation. Carrigan's wide reading knowledge of their hardships endured by the working classes of Clydeside, many of whom were Irish immigrants, developed in him a strong social conscience. In 1906 the future Minister of Housing in the First Labour Government, John Weatley, founded the small but influential Catholic Socialist Society. It aimed to reconcile practising Roman Catholics with the tents of socialism. Carrigan and fellow IRB member, Thomas O'Baun enrolled. As well as serving on the organising committee and presiding at meetings, Carrigan was much in demand as a lecturer. It was hardly surprising then, that when Arthur Griffith sided with the management during the Dublin Lock Out, the Glasgow Sinn Feiners felt compelled to denounce his actions.

Carrigan and other prominent IRB members left for Ireland in order to evade conscription which was introduced in January 1916. When there they made preparations for the impending Rising. During the fighting Carrigan was positioned at the GPO with other members of the Scottish Division. Despite putting up a brave fight, the constant British bombardment was taking it's toll. Incendiary shells set the Republican Headquarters on fire and their evacuation became necessary. It was during the second evacuation on the 28th that Charles Carrigan was cut down by a hail of bullets with the O'Rahilly by his side. They were killed in Moore Street near the burning GPO. Bya sad coincidence it was Carrigan's 34th birthday. Charles Carrigan's name takes pride of place on a monument in St. Paul's Cemetery, Glasnevin, beneath which he is buried along with 15 other heroes of Easter Week.

Iain MacKenzie KennedyIain MacKenzie Kennedy was a Scottish Republican who is believed to have hailed from the Lochaber district on Inverness-shire. In 1916 he went to Ireland in a quest for the Irish language and later the West Cork Brigade of the IRA. He was killed by Free State forces at Passage West on August 8 1922. He and two Republican comrades put up an unequal fight against 64 Free Staters, killing 12, and wounding 15. The following is an extract from his obituary which appeared in the 'Fenian'.

"We well remember Iain MacKenzie Kennedy in Killarney during the 'trouble', but before it had reached its Black and Tan zenith. A fine strapping handsome boy, he was attired always in a kilt and the tartan of his clan. He was fiercely anti-English. He had thrown away much in Scotland and came to Ireland accompanied by his very charming mother rather than fight for the English. He went about quite openly although the town was full of British military. One day two swaggering officers armed fully, passed him in the street and made some sneering remark about his cowardice in not "joining up". He reached out and grabbed one in either hand, banged their two heads together, and threw the dazed up the street. He was intensely Gaelic and clan proud". Iain MacKenzie Kennedy is buried in the Republican plot in Cork City and his name takes prided of place on the Republican Monument in Macroom.

The Irish in Scotland It is right and proper that we the faithful Republicans of Glasgow recall the significant contribution that was made by the contingent of Glasgow Republicans who travelled to Dublin to play a full part in that epoch making event. The highest ranks of the Irish Republican Brotherhood were informed on January 1916 that the Rising was planned. This resulted in an upsurge in explosive gathering raids and smuggling operations on the part of that organisation. The Finna also transported large amounts of explosives, detonators fuse wire and other materials useful in bombmaking. After being stored in safe houses in Scotland the material would be taken by young Finna boys to Ireland. The route most commonly used was that between Ardrossan and Belfast. Some of the smuggled explosives which mainly came from Lanarkshire coalfields, would be distributed amongst sympathisers in Belfast, but the bulk would be transported to Dublin.

Not alone did Scotland provide some of the arms used in the Easter Rising, but some of the participants. Immediately the discussion to stage a Rising was known to the IRB in Scotland, those who possessed specialist knowledge of explosives left for Ireland. They joined up with some of their comrades, who were stationed in a camp at the Kimmage home of Count Plunkett and were known as the Scottish Division of the Kimmage Garrison. Their task along with Republican contingents from London and Liverpool, was to prepare the armoury for the Rising. The majority of Irish Volunteers in Scotland were only informed of the plans for the Rising about a week in advance. About 50 Irish Volunteers from Glasgow took part in the event and were joined by an enthusiastic band of women from Cumann nam Bann. The latter did sterling work in nursing the Republican casualties during the subsequent fighting. Many of them were schoolteachers who had learned how to shoot in a Glasgow rifle range. The first military action of the overseas contigents occurred before the Rising itself when they successfully fought off a would be police raiding party, killing a squad detective. Most of the Scotish Division were deployed in garrisons on the perimeter of the GPO and elsewhere.

Six of the men who had come from 'a land beyond the sea' never returned. Glasgow Cumann nam Bann and Citizen Army member Margaret Skinneder, was badly wounded on the Wednesday, whilst taking part in a house situated behind the Russell Hotel on the Green. It was thougt to be occupied, by the British, who had to dislodged before more aggressive action could be taken, but a sniper in the house opposite opened fire killing 17 year old Fred Ryan and hitting Margaret Skinneder three times.Fortunately she made a full recovery and wrote her book, 'Doing my bit for Ireland', which was published the following year. Following the military failure of the Rising the one hundred or so members of the British contingents, together with two thousand other internees and deportees, many of whom had been totally uninvolved in the Rising, were conveyed in cattle boats to Britain. Members of the Scottish Division, including it's leader Joesph Robinson, were dispersed in such prisons as Reading jail, Balinnie and Perth, before being interned together in Frongoch Camp in North Wales. This place was to become in effect the 'University of Irish Republicanism'.With the release of the Republican prisoners in December, 1916 the IRB in Glasgow was able to regroup and resume its previous activities of raiding for arms and transporting the material to Ireland.

A scottish Brigade of Oglaigh Nah Eireann was established in early 1919 out of the Irish Volunteers and by the High Water mark of the Anglo-Irish War in 1921, it could boast a membership of 2,500 with 33 affiliated companies across Scotland. Everywher there was a significant Irish presence, a branch of the Sinn Fein existed. The largest one was in Greenock with a membership of 1000, with 600 each for Paisley and Dumbarton. Clearly the Irish in Scotland were very staunch and according to one Prominent Republican. source, the support from Scotland in terms of munitions and financial aid during the Tan War outstripped that of any other country including the USA.
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