Tuesday, April 22, 2008

1916 Rising's First Casualties- Ballykissane Co Kerry.

Last Saturday I attended a commemoration in Ballykissane near Killorglin to commemorate the first casualties of the 1916 Easter Rising. It was well attended and a stirring atmosphere was ensured by the presence of the excellent Smith/Hehir/Harford/Doherty and Bell Republican Flute band who travelled all the way from Dublin for the event. The story of these first casualties in the 1916 Rising is intriguing for a number of reasons, not least the great 'what if' factor of wondering what might have happened had their mission not ended so tragically arising from a Hardyesque case of wrong directions. On Good Friday 21st April 1916, six men set off from Dublin by train to Killarney, Charlie Monaghan, Donal Sheehan, Con Keating, Dennis Daly, Thomas McInerney,and Colm O'Lochlainn. According to the memoirs of Gerry Plunkett, they were to travel by car to Cahirciveen, in order to seize control of the wireless station on Valentia Island. From there, the plan was that they would signal to the British Navy a German naval attack on the Scottish coast. The purpose of this would be to distract the British naval presence from the Kerry coast , thus facilitating the landing of 2000 German rifles , and 10 machine guns, at Banna Strand from the U-boat 'The Aud'. On board that U-boat a small group of Irish Republican's led by Sir Roger Casement were then to liase with Austin Stack in Tralee, so as to ensure that the weaponry was distributed throughout the country to coincide with the Easter Rising in Dublin on Easter Sunday. The men travelling to Kerry from Dublin had each been selected for their particular expertise, Keating originally from Cahirciveen was a radio expert and had been a radio officer on a number of ships. Monaghan was a mechanic and a wireless installation expert, Sheehan had worked at the War Office and knew the Admiralty codes.
On arrival at Killarney the group transferred into two motor vehicles. Denis Daly drove the first car with Colm O'Lochlainn, Thomas McInerney drove the second car carrying Con, Charlie, and Donal. Since Denis knew the route, McInerney was to follow his tail-lights. However, as is often the case in life, plans began to unravel when a breakdown and a curious RIC officer held up the lead car. Somehow the second vehicle lost sight of the second car, just outside Killorglin McInerney asked a young girl for directions to Cahirciveen. She told them to take the first turn on the right, not knowing the road Thomas mistook the turn leading to the quay. In the darkness he only realised his mistake when the two front wheels of the car went over the unprotected edge into the River Laune, which is deep and wide at this point. It is said that in the moonlight, the reflection of the water resembled a continuance of the road, and having been there I can confirm that the pier is extraordinarily continuous to the road. In the ensuing panic the car became unbalanced and fell into the River with its four passengers still on board. Totally disoriented Thomas McInerney started to swim heading in the wrong direction, only for the intervention of local man Thady O'Sullivan, who guided him back to the shore. At this stage it was clear that the three other occupants of the car had somehow become trapped in the vehicle, and had sadly in all likelihood quickly drowned.Other local people among them Patrick Begley and his son Michael, an Irish teacher based in Limerick had made strenuous efforts to rescue them, but this proved impossible. Cold and disheartened, the one survivor and the rescuers gathered in the O'Sullivan's kitchen. McInerney was advised to go to the RIC barracks and report the incident. Whilst away, McInerneys wet overcoat was picked up, and a revolver was discovered in it, Patrick Begley soon realised that there was more to the nights events than at first thought. At that moment the RIC arrived at the cottage, Begley hid the revolver by sitting on it under a cushion, . The RIC had arrested a man in Tralee, and were alert to the possibility of some Fenian related activity in the area. McInerney stuck to his story that he had been driving tourists around Kerry, and that he did not know the occupants of the car personally. On a wet Holy Saturday morning the bodies of Con Keating and and Donal Sheehan were located by fishermen, no trace of Charlie Monaghan was found until October, some six months later, when his body was discovered on an island in the River. That same morning McInerney tried to retrieve his revolver from Patrick Begley, but Begley said that if the RIC returned it would be better if he was not carrying a weapon. As predicted, they did indeed return and arrested Thomas McInerney, he was transferred after the Rising was suppressed to to the prison camp in North Wales, Frongoch, which was to be the destination of the bulk of those Republicans captured after the Rising. McInerney on release from Frongoch rejoined the IRA and was later killed in County Tipperary.

What we will never know is what would have happened if the unit had succeeded in their mission. Would they have managed to divert the British navy, if they had succeeded in this, then landing the weaponry at Banna would have had a greater chance of success. However to be fair, the arrest of Austin Stack in Tralee would have made distribution well nigh impossible, since he was the key link between the Aud and the local Irish Republican Brotherhood organisation. Nevertheless it is an interesting and little told tale, which is moving for the fact that it illustrates the way in which human error often plays a significant part in determining historical events.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Northern Rock...The Man Who Broke the Bank Cleans Up.

Waves of relief rippled through the North East of England yesterday when it became clear that those whose jobs are under threat in Northern Rock need have no more sleepless nights as to their futures. Over 2000 staff at Northern Rock, are anticipating that they will be made redundant in the next six months as the troubled finance house battens down the hatches to ensure commercial survival following its nationalisation. The relief felt by many Northern Rock employees was prompted by news of the terms of the first wave of redundancies being released. If these initial redundancy settlements are harbingers of the terms of all the severances to be announced in the coming time period, then many facing redundancy and wondering how they will make ends meet once they are laid off by 'The Rock' will be able to sleep easy in their beds, confident that the company will be applying the same spirit demonstrated in the terms offered to the first redundant employees to all others facing the chop. Demonstrating particular generousity and compassion Northern Rock is giving, what some unkind commentators have described as 'disgraced' former chief executive Adam Applegarth ( top left- looking quietly replete )a £760,000 pay-off, a £346,000 pension top-up and continuing to honour his cut-price staff mortgage.
The pay-off is much larger than the sum foreshadowed in December, when sources close to the bank insisted Mr Applegarth would get less than six months' pay, and no doubt will be good news for all other Northern Rock staff, who had feared erroneously it would appear that they would receive a miserly statutory pay-off.
It was'nt just a one off flash of benevolence though, Bryan Sanderson ( depicted right looking quite pleased with himself), who was appointed chairman on 19 October and stood down to make way for Mr Sandler last month, will be allowed to keep his £315,000 fee and up to £85,000 for office costs. Paul Thompson, (depicted bottom right pissing himself laughing ) who was heading a company-preferred buy-out vehicle for Rock, was paid £100,000 for his services as a non-executive director from 17 January to 22 February - for five weeks' work.
Mr Applegarth, who was responsible for devising and implementing the bank's disastrously flawed strategy, is being paid the golden goodbye in 12 monthly instalments of £63,000, according to the annual report published yesterday. The value of his pension pot increased by £346,000 last year, the annual report also reveals, and now stands at £2.6 million. The accrued pension entitlement is £305,000 a year. Mr Applegarth, 45, will also continue to enjoy a concessionary staff interest rate on £75,000 of his mortgage from the bank, Rock said, without disclosing the precise terms. The pay-off is equivalent to a year's base pay for Mr Applegarth, who left his job in December after announcing plans to step down in November. He had run the bank for the previous six years.
That surely is great news for all hard working Northern Rock staff members, it gives one a warm glow to know that theres at least one employer out there who knows how to ensure that its former employees are compensated for the loss of their livelihood. In fact if this is the sort of pay-off for the jokers whose visionary leadership led to the Northern Rock's near demise, then the hard working blameless people who carried on the Rock's day to day service to customers can surely expect such consummate generosity will be extended to them? No ?
NB....This piece was posted on 1st April 2008.....but its not an April Fools Joke..