RTÉ’s CSÍ series is about to visit a topic that generated more heat than light the last time it was discussed – and in 2004 Mick noted an even earlier discussion. On Monday 5th October, 7.30pm, RTÉ 1, CSÍ will look “at the killing by the IRA of 13 West Cork protestants over four days in April 1922.” Eoghan Harris, one of the participants in the programme, has written about it here. And there’s a contested wikipedia entry – Dunmanway Massacre.
And a Slugger reader has kindly sent the following programme notes
In “Corks Bloody Secret, descendents of some of the protestant victims return to the scene of the murders. Hazel Baylor is a grand-niece of John Albert Chinnery who was killed at his farm on 28th April 1922. A number of men called to his house at night and asked him to harness a horse to a cart. While he was doing this, they shot and killed him. His grand-niece Hazel Baylor (who speaks lovely Irish) brings her daughter Jennifer to the farm to tell her the story as her own mother had told it to her many years before.
Then she brings Jennifer to a lonely churchyard to show her the grave of Uncle Bertie as she calls him (Bertie being the diminutive of his middle name Albert). She speculates on whether he was killed simply because he was a protestant and wishes she had asked her mother for more details while she was alive. As Hazel says in her interview: Tháinig tost mór agus tá an tost sin fós ann inniu. She thinks the men who killed her grand-uncle must have known him, ach níor chuala mé ainm riamh.
Charles Duff is a lecturer in theatre studies in Norte Dame University. He is based in their London campus. He is an expert in Londons West End drama tradition of the 1950s and has written a book on the subject called The Lost Summer: The Heyday of the West End Theatre. He has also worked as an actor and theatre director (he has directed Shakespeares Hamlet for example), and he was involved in the New Globe Theatre in London.
He is a grandson of David Gray, the chemist who was shot dead in the doorway of his home in Dunmanway on 27th April 1922. Charles Duff is the son of David Grays daughter who was upstairs in bed while her father was being shot. She was only 2-years-old at the time. Because Charles was born out of wedlock, he was temporarily adopted by a Church of Ireland Mission couple in London and then permanently adopted by an aristocratic couple in Wales.
Some years ago, he became interested in his Irish birth-origins and got in touch with some of West Corks local historians. In our programme, he visits Dunmanway for the first time ever while local historian Tommy Collins shows him the Chemist Shop where David Gray worked, the house where he was shot and the grave where he is buried. Charles Duff places a floral wreath upon the grave of his grandfather and reflects upon the events.
The programme also features a dialogue between two local historians, one a protestant and the other a catholic. They are Donald Woods and Colum Cronin. Donald was raised in the area but lives in England now while Colum is still living in West Cork. The two men correspond on a regular basis on historical matters relating to Cork, but only recently have they felt able to discuss the 1922 atrocities with each other. They talk about this in the programme. Later, they visit the grave of John Buttimer and tell the story of his murder along with that of his servant boy Jimmy Greenfield.
The programme also features Professor John A Murphy and Eoghan Harris who give us the social, political and historical background to the 1922 events which sets the specific stories of the other participants in their context.
The programme features dramatic reconstructions of the killings of the following people: Acting Commandant Michael ONeill (IRA), Thomas Hornibrook, Samuel Hornibrook, Captain Herbert Woods, John Bertie Chinnery, David Gray, John Buttimer, Jimmy Greenfield. It also includes sequences which suggest some of the other murders in a more general way. These sequences were shot using 16 actors.
The people in this programme are speaking about these events publicly for the first time, so I think the programme is groundbreaking from that perspective. Hopefully, it will lead to further discussion of the issues and other issues in our complex history.
Then, perhaps, we might have a chance of something other than a sham of truth recovery from the more recent past.