RTÉ documentary

The Irish examiner has a look at the RTÉ documentary on the life of Kevin O’Higgins.

Assassinated strongman was not the Free State’s chief executioner

Ryle Dwyer writes:

“The old heart of the earth needed to be warmed with the red wine of the battlefields,” Patrick Pearse wrote in December 1915. “Such august homage was never before offered to God as this, the homage of millions of lives gladly given for love of country.”

Now I won’t suggest that the man who wrote that blasphemous twaddle about the First World War was “a blithering idiot”, but James Connolly did. And I wouldn’t disagree.

and among disturbing revelations about various murders and massacres, including Higgins’ agony at the execution of a former comrade, who had been best man at his wedding only a year before being shot,

He was authorised by the Dáil to execute those captured in possession of illegal weapons. Otherwise, he warned, members of the Free State army would take it upon themselves “to execute people in an unauthorised way”.

  • ulsterman

    Unacceptable comments removed – A.U.

  • Keith M

    Kevin O’Higgins is one of the forgotten heroes of the Irish Free State. Without people like him the IFS could have disintigrated into anarchy. Four years ago a few of my friends and aquaintences compiled a Top 100 of the greatest Irish people of the 20th Century and O’Higgins finished in the Top 20.

  • Davros

    I don’t understand the savagery of the Civil War.
    Why so vicious towards each other ?

  • The Devil

    KEITH M,

    Let me guess also in your list were the likes of

    DeValera (looked after ireland)
    Bob Geldof (looked after the world)
    Charlie Haughey (looked after himself)

    But left out of your list were the Powers brothers,

    Paddy Powers (who didn’t look after my savings)

    John Powers (who didn’t look after my liver)

    Special Powers (who didn’t look after my freedom)

  • Henry94

    There have been a few polls on the subject. The Suday Tribune polll voted Nano Nagle (me neither) the greatest Irish person ever. The Sunday Independent poll was won by Patrick Pearse.

    I think such a poll would only be interesting if it excluded political figures. There are just too many of them. Here’s my subjective top ten.

    1 James Joyce
    2. Samuel Beckett
    3. Van Morrission
    4. George Boole
    5. Jack B Yeats
    6. Christy Ring
    7. Rory Gallagher
    8. W.B Yeats
    9. Adi Roche
    10. George Best

  • barney

    Henry M

    I can’t believe you left out Oscar Wilde and Patrick Kavanagh. And what about Beano McDonald?

  • Davros

    Notto mention Ian Paisley 😉

  • George

    Davros,
    written by a Welshman visiting Ireland in 1933:
    “Although the “Cease Fire” of 1923 ended the internecine bloodshed, memories of Civil War are green. Republicans still recall their fellow-fighters being blown to pieces by Free State bombs and Free Staters cannot forget the ambushes which destroyed some of their finest soldiers, such as Michael Collins. Desire for revenge, living on from the Civil War, explained why at a private dance at which Gen. Mulcahy was present I saw in the ball a bodyguard watching with a revolver, and in the grounds of the house three guards armed with a machine-gun.

    However orderly and even prosperous may appear the streets of present-day Ireland, the Civil War still goes on in the hearts of a minority of irreconcilables, and is one cause of the acidity of political discussion, of the unbalanced views, of the word “traitor” bandied about in every other sentence, and of the part played by personal animosity, which are such striking features of Irish politics.”

    They still hate each other in certain parts. Brother against brother and all that.

  • Davros

    Thanks George- have you a link for that ? It could be useful for an essay.

  • Ciarán Irvine

    Davros: in some rural areas – parts of Donegal, Mayo, Tipperary and Kerry especially in my experience – the Civil War is still going on. Obscure family feuds up in the hills that stem back purely to the Civil War. Went out with a girl once in Donegal whose family were dyed-in-the-wool Blueshirts and their No. 1 Priority in assessing my suitability to be dating a member of the family was whether or not my family had any FF connections. I could have been a recently-released-from-prison multiple serial killer and child pornographer, just as long as I wasn’t one of Them. And all because of the Civil War.

    Mad, innit? And that’s a Civil War amongst nationalists. Even if the north manages to stumble to some sort of resolution and accomodation some time soon-ish, the War will never be over in parts of rural Tyrone, Antrim and Armagh. Course, in 80 years time it’ll have dwindled to one man refusing to buy another man’s sheep cos his great-granddaddy was a Provo; or two young lovers seperated by their families cos the girls great-great-uncle was in the UDR.

    What was that saying? The English never remember their history, the Irish never forget it…

  • George

    Here you are Davros.
    The site’s made up of articles written in 1933 and 1934 by a Welsh journalist named Gareth Jones about the “enigma of Ireland” and what he experienced while here. He also has pieces on the North, Blueshirts, Dev (of course) and I find them interesting because he doesn’t seem to have any particular axe to grind or maybe his axe doesn’t exist anymore.

    The one I quoted from was called “Hatred of the British and Internal Dissention – That Are Splitting the Country.”

    Whatever you do don’t write in your essay that the 14 participants active in the 1916 Rising in Dublin were executed in Mountjoy prison as he did or you’ll be getting an F from me. 🙂
    It was Kilmainham.

  • Davros

    Thanks very Much George. That’s great.

    I’ll send you an article on Kilmainham from an earlier part of my course!

  • Davros

    Ciarán – it’s as well we Northerners don’t hold grudges 😉

  • Davros

    Oh, and anybody else interested, e mail me.

  • cg

    “anybody else interested, e mail me”

    Davros sounds good, would you email me a copy.

    The Civil war was a pointless exercise.Irishman fighting Irish man.

  • Davros

    need your e addy cg, but it occurred to me after I e mailed George.Open Museum Journal is an open site.

    You can read abstract and download the pdf here –

    http://amol.org.au/omj/abstract.asp?ID=5“>Kilmainham Gaol: Interpreting Irish nationalism and Republicanism

  • Davros
  • cg

    Thanks Davros
    Not sure about they piece I never trust anything which refers to R.D Edwards as an “Historian”

  • James

    It reads “other historians and commentators“. (My italics) Maybe you could add whodunit writer to the list and satisfy everyone.

    I must say that I’m a bit nonplussed, though, that a group of people so touchy about their history would let individuals so antagonistic to Irish Nationalism write the definitive works of some of the Nation’s key figures. Serves you right, fella, if you leave that ground undefended.

    Christ, don’t tell the Cruiser about Washington’s wooden teeth or his, ahem, cultivation of hemp. Shuuuussshhhh now.

  • Davros

    Museumology is possibly the most tedious subject on the planet ….