March 2015

History Selection

Bishop James Ussher, died March 1656
Bishop James Ussher
March 1656
Turlough O'Carolan, died March 1738
Turlough O'Carolan
March 1738
James Stephens, died March 1901
James Stephens
March 1901
John Redmond, died March 1918
John Redmond
March 1918
Tomás Mac Curtain, murdered March 1920
Tomás Mac Curtain
March 1920
Brendan Behan, died March 1964
Brendan Behan
March 1964

Ireland in 1951

January 2nd: Éamon de Valera visited Newry for the first time since his arrest there in 1924.

January 9th: The Northern and Southern governments agreed on running the Great Northern Railway.

January 12th: Birth of Stephen Travers, survivor of the Miami Showband Massacre.

February 14th: Birth of Alan Shatter, Fine Gael politician.

March: Ian Paisley co-founded the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley
Mother and Child Scheme booklet
Mother and Child Scheme booklet
March: Shannon Airport was the base for a rescue operation after a USAF C124 aircraft crashed into the sea.

April 3rd: Birth of Michael Morris, Grand National winner.

April 4th: The Catholic Hierarchy condemned the Mother and Child Scheme plan for free medical services.

April 8th: The census showed 2,960,593 in the Republic and 1,370,921 in the North.

April 10th: Death of Nora Barnacle, muse of James Joyce.

April 11th: The Minister for Health Dr. Noel Browne resigned, and his Mother and Child Scheme was overturned.

April 19th: Ed Warnock, the Attorney General for Northern Irelad, said that 'Ireland is really ruled by Maynooth'.

April 24th: Birth of Enda Kenny, Taoiseach.

April 30th: First demonstration of television broadcasting at the Spring Show, Dublin.

Nora Barnacle
Nora Barnacle in later years
Boxer Jack Doyle in his youth
Boxer Jack Doyle in his youth
May 8th: The Arts Council was founded in the Republic.

May 24th: The gardaí exchanged shots with two men who had thrown a bomb at the British Embassy in Dublin.

May 30th: General election in Ireland, caused by crises including the Mother and Child Scheme. Fianna Fáil won the election.

June 8th: Jack Doyle defeated the America's 'Beer Baron' Two-Ton Tony Gelanto in the boxing at Tolka Park.

June 13th: Éamon de Valera became Taoiseach with one of the smallest majorities on record.

June 27th: Birth of Mary McAleese, who would become eighth President of Ireland.

July 1st: The Taoiseach Éamon de Valera paid his first visit to Derry in 25 years.

July 18th: The Abbey Theatre in Dublin burnt to the ground. Its last show had closed with the song Keep the Home Fires Burning

July 30th: The Abbey Theatre company began a season at the Rupert Guinness Hall in the Guinness Brewery.

August 29th: Birth of rock journalist Bill Graham.

The Abbey Theatre
The Abbey Theatre
Professor Ernest Walton
Professor Ernest Walton
September 12th: Birth of Bertie Ahern, Taoiseach.

October 5th: Birth of Bob Geldof, musician and humanitarian.

October: First Wexford 'Festival of Music and Arts' began.

November 15th: The Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to Professor Ernest Walton of Trinity College Dublin and Sir John Cockcroft.

December 30th: Birth of Gay Mitchell, Fine Gael politician.

Scenes from Bray around the turn of the 20th century


Bray seafront

Bray Turkish Baths

Book Review

Belfast Days: A 1972 Teenage Diary

Author:     Eimear O'Callaghan

Publisher: Merrion

Date published: 2014

Belfast Days: A 1972 Teenage Diary

Like many 16-year-old girls, Eimear worried about exams, yearned to be treated as an adult and planned for her future. She liked going shopping with her Mammy, organised two weeks in France and on beginning her final year at grammar school, took on new responsibilities as a prefect. Yet Eimear's life was far from typical. This was west Belfast, in 1972, the most violent year of the Troubles.

The mature Eimear, now a mother of three and successful journalist, discovered her teenage diary forty years after it had been written. Here, she adds her thoughts to the vivid but often terse accounts of her younger self. 1972 encompassed Bloody Sunday, Bloody Friday, internment protests, the abrogation of Stormont and fear of a 'Protestant backlash'. On January 30th, Eimear wrote 'I've never been so heartbroken and hopeless in my whole life before'. Five weeks later, a job interview and a visit by relatives kept Eimear and her mother away from the Abercorn restaurant; on that day the IRA bombed it, killing two women.

Although Eimear's close family was lucky enough to escape harm, they lived in a terrifying environment. Gunfire and explosions formed the backdrop of their daily lives. Tartan youths rampaged through the city centre, threatening Catholics; British soldiers frequently hid in the family's garden and sometimes came in the house. Sectarian attack was a real possibility, and the UDA once passed a bizarre note to Eimear's family. Pupils at her school who lived in mixed areas had to conceal their uniforms. By the end of 1972, Eimear was sinking into depression at the endless violence in 'dirty, horrible, backward, dark Belfast'.

Forty years on, Eimear reflects on the progress that has been made. The barriers of the past has gone. Celebrating the peace and vibrancy of modern Belfast, Eimear remarks that her own children 'have no fear of saying their names out loud'.

Extract from Irish Republican Army 'Green Book' (Book II)



Most volunteers are arrested on or as a result of a military operation. This causes an initial shock resulting in tension and anxiety. All volunteers feel that they have failed, resulting in a deep sense of disappointment. The police are aware of this feeling of disappointment and act upon this weakness by insults such as “you did not do very well: you are only an amateur: you are only second-class or worse”. While being arrested the police use heavy-handed `shock` tactics in order to frighten the prisoner and break down his resistance. The prisoner is usually dragged along the road to the waiting police wagon, flung into it, followed by the arresting personnel, e.g., police or Army. On the journey to the detention centre the prisoner is kicked, punched and the insults start. On arrival he is dragged from the police wagon through a gauntlet of kicks, punches and insults and flung into a cell.

What A Volunteer Should Do When Arrested

1. The most important thing to bear in mind when arrested is that you are a volunteer of a revolutionary Army, that you have been captured by an enemy force, that your cause is a just one, that you are right and that the enemy is wrong and that as a soldier you have taken the chance expected of a soldier and that there is nothing to be ashamed of in being captured.

2. You must bear in mind that the treatment meted out to you is designed to break you and so bleed you of all the information you may have with regard to the organisation to which you belong.

3. They will attempt to intimidate you by sheer numbers and by brutality. Volunteers who may feel disappointed are entering the first dangerous threshold because the police will act upon this disappointment to the detriment of the volunteer and to the furtherment of their own ends. Volunteers must condition themselves that they can be arrested and if and when arrested they should expect the worse and be prepared for it.


After the prisoner has been placed in a cell, he may be left for some time alone. During this lull, police officers, `The Interrogators`, will crowd around the outside of the cell door from time to time, shouting threats and insults, telling the prisoner what they will do to him when they go into the cell.

After some time the interrogators will enter the cell and ask the prisoner to make a confession. During this period he may be subjected to assaults and abusive language, depending on the circumstances surrounding the charge. At this stage he will be fingerprinted and other questions will be put to him, related to the specific charge or other charges. Usually his name and address will be taken, place of employment, occupation, educational standard and so forth. After this he will be again isolated in his cell while his `interrogators` check his identity, usually with local police, his home and place of employment. In this period of time the police will attempt to establish his political beliefs, if any, his associates, his police record, if any, and in this way build up a file on him.

Most probably `his associates` and general pattern of movement will give a pretty good idea to the police, if the person is involved in or is sympathetic to a political organisation. Armed with this body of information the police will re-enter the cell and accuse the prisoner of all sorts of activity. If the evidence does not indicate a degree of guilt on the specific charge, he will be accused of all kinds of vague activity.

The purpose of these vague accusations is to implant a feeling of guilt in the prisoner. If, however, the police have some evidence or strong beliefs, linking him with a specific charge, pressure will be applied immediately. This pressure will take the form of physical and psychological torture, most probably he will be punched and kicked around the cell while they scream at him to make a confession, indicating to him that they know all. One or more of the interrogating officers will act in a particular and brutal manner, if they fail to get a confession or on admission of guilt they will leave the cell, telling the prisoner they will be back and threatening him with the most barbaric forms of torture, implying that they extracted confessions from better men than he.

Another set of interrogators will enter the cell, possibly carrying a file with the prisoner's name written on it. They will act quite friendly and sympathetic towards him, telling him that they do not condone the activity of the previous interrogators, that they were mad, crazy and possibly they will kill him when they come in later, they will go to extremes to impress the prisoner of their own sympathy towards him, and ask him to make a confession to them indicating that they do not want the previous interrogators `to get at him again`.

They will probably guarantee him that if he makes the confession they will not allow the former interrogators to re-enter the cell, this will be coupled with a warning that otherwise they cannot guarantee him safety. When the prisoner refuses to confess they will pretend to become very annoyed and disappointed at his lack of co-operation. They may strike him across the face or in the stomach while telling him that he ought to be thankful to them, that they saved him from the previous interrogators and indicating that his behaviour and attitude is a thankless way to repay their kindness.

The interrogators will then open up a file and pretend to read extracts from it, related to the prisoner's past life and activities, even the most intimate and private aspects of his life will be read to him, and possibly a general account of his movements and associates. Most of this information may have been supplied by his friends, employer, school, family, or girlfriend, it may also be `Pub Talk`, local gossip, information supplied by touts or information extracted from other prisoners. This detailed information is designed to frighten the prisoner and to shatter his confidence in his associates and organisation. If, however, they get no confession, they will leave the cell, but before doing so they will give the prisoner their names and tell him to ask for them at any time he wishes to, again indicating that the next set of interrogators are crazy, drunk, and will do him severe damage, then they leave the cell.

After a period of time another set of interrogators will enter the cell, again these interrogators will be particularly brutal and nasty towards him. They will attack him immediately in a most hostile and vicious manner, suggesting to him that if he did not confess to the former interrogators he will confess to them, they will let him know that they have a reputation for getting confessions from people like him, implying that everyone they met confessed before they were finished with them.

The torture used will now take on a three-fold purpose:

1. Physical Torture.

2. Subtle Psychological Torture.

3. Humiliation.

1. Physical Torture

The physical torture will be in the form of beatings, kicking, punching and twisting of limbs, it may even be burning from cigarette ends.

2. Psychological Torture

This will be in the form of threats to his family, his friends and himself, e.g. threats of assassination and threats to castrate him

3. Humiliation

This takes the form of stripping the prisoner of his clothes and remarks passed about his sexual organs. This period of interrogation may last for as long as two hours or more and at the end of that period they may produce a factual or faked confession from an associate. Failing to get their confession they leave the cell, telling him they will be back and when they do come back they will break every bone in his body.

This process can continue for seven days without a break, the minimum of sleep is allowed and if they deem it necessary, no sleep will be allowed. Lack of sleep causes the prisoner to become confused.

Because of the existing laws which authorise the police to detain a person for seven days, it means in effect that the process of interrogation can continue to disorientate their victim, due in the main to lack of sleep.