Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Audio Download Bloody Sunday Eyewitness Statement

When I ran the reprint of this story which I covered over 9 years ago,


I had intended to create a link on my Blog to the taped evidence of John Barry Liddy. However, due to technical problems I was unable to do so.

To the rescue, my good friend JFC, who has posted it on his site, available for download.

Be warned! For me, this is one of the most harrowing tales of brutality I have ever heard. Stephen King would be hard pressed to create from his imagination such a tale of horror and brutality, as was perpetrated on the victims of Bloody Sunday, and brought to life in Mr. Barry's eyewitness account.



If this 13 some minute tape does not cause a lump in your throat, or make you want to scream to the heavens for justice for the victims of Bloody Sunday, then I am afraid that you are clinically dead.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Belfast, Birth of a City


Belfast, Birth of a City

Belfast Bohemian Productions, formed in 2008, by Director James Rea, and Writer Joe Curran, have released a new DVD, “Belfast, Birth of a Cty.”

"As far as we know, there has never been anything produced like this before," said local historian Joe Curran. "Belfast people have a real love of history so we were surprised when we began this project to discover that no one had done this before us."

A year in the making, the DVD uses a combination of dramatized scenes, old photos and contemporary footage. Narrator Joe Curran, takes the viewer through an interwoven narrative of the prehistoric origins of the original settlement, the Gaelic village of Béal Feirste, (settled at the old ford across the river Lagan) through to the beginning of the 19th century, and Act of the Union.

The production is an excellent tool for those wishing to learn about the history of the city, and details how the early townspeople established the industries of shipbuilding and linen, for which the city was famous throughout the world.

The development of the town during periods of great political upheavals: the Plantation of Ulster; the French revolution; the rising of the United Irishmen in 1798; are woven into the narrative.

Belfast Bohemian Productions plan to produce a second DVD continuing the history of Belfast from 1801 through the Victorian period up to 1888 when it finally became a city.
Curran said, “We really want to encourage people to delve into the history of the city. The DVD isn’t meant to be an academic thesis but more an entertaining, informative insight into the early development of Belfast,” he added.

The DVD is available now.

For more information go to www.belfastbohemians.com
or contact:

James Rea;
Mob. 07734406125.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Eyewitness Bloody Sunday

The Chairman of the Bloody Sunday Tribunal, Lord Savill, today announced that publication of the findings would be again delayed until sometime next year.

The Tribunal, which was established by then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998, began hearing evidence in November 1998, and when it completed its work in 2005, it had collected some 2,500 witness statements, 160 volumes of evidence, 121 audio tapes and 110 video tapes.

In December 2000, this writer submitted a crucial eyewitness account of the atrocity which was entered as evidence in the Tribunal.

Since almost nine years have elapsed since that time, I republish two articles which dealt with the events leading up to the disclosure of that evidence.

Some links may no longer be current.

A transcript of the tape is included in Part 2.


G21 Special Report:


The Liddy Tape
by Joe O'Neill
G21 Alumnus
To read this article in Deutsch, Francaise, Italiano, Portuguese, Espanol, copy and paste the complete URL (http://www.g21.net/irish26.htm) and enter it in the box after you click through.


[EDITOR'S NOTE: Joe O'Neill, the author of this article, is a G21 Alumnus who has reported for the IRISH ECHO and IRISH HERALD. Mr. O'Neill was G21's first reporter on Northern Ireland issues, inaugurating our IRISH EYES coverage. We are pleased to welcome him back to these pages. Months back, he offered G21 the Liddy tape, which is now part of a Blair Administration new investigation into "Bloody Sunday" (January, 1972.) What follows is Mr. O'Neill's continued coverage of that tragic event.--RA]

A recently discovered tape recording of a dramatic eyewitness account of Bloody Sunday (when 14 Irish civil rights marchers were murdered by British paratroopers) that lay stored in a basement for the last 28 years, has been entered as evidence in the new Bloody Sunday Tribunal.

The tape, which was stored in the basement of former San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist, Dan O'Neill's Nevada City home after he made a trip to Ireland in 1972, was rediscovered during a basement clean-up.

John Barry Liddy, who participated in the Bloody Sunday civil rights march, is interviewed on the recording as he lay injured in his home waiting for an ambulance.

A few months back, while working on edits for our story on the Serbian elections, this editor received a call from G21 Alumnus Joe O'Neill. O'Neill had contacted me after being contacted by his friend, Dan O'Neill (no relation.)

Joe was calling to tell me about the amazing, eye-witness content of the tape. He wanted advice on how to disseminate it to the largest number of "the right people." I advised that he burn it onto CDs. He did, and sent me an advance copy the following week.

Listening to the entire tape of John Barry Liddy's words ranks among the most heartbreaking experiences I have had in my entire life. The tales of reported beatings, and their nature, are enough to curdle the blood of any civilized person. That the victims of these "interrogations" were then left on the street to die...

The actual tape, which O'Neill shared with G21 months ago, goes on for an excruciating nearly 15 minutes. Neither the BBC RealAudio broadcast (which only runs a scant two and a half minutes,) nor the official government Bloody Sunday Inquiry site, provides the complete record of the John Barry Liddy tape. As a service to our readers, G21 will provide a complete transcript next week. Sadly, reading the words on the page cannot do complete justice to hearing Mr. Liddy's anquished voice, his sobbing... Most notably, the BBC excerpt gives no account of the torture and beatings of the victims during their hours-long "interrogation".

As Joe recounted later, "Dan turned the tape over to me to see if I could get it to the 'right people'... After our conversation...I sent it to the 'Bloody Sunday Trust' representing the families and relatives of victims. 'The Trust' turned it over to the lawyers. I spoke with the lawyers while I was in Ireland and the tape was entered in evidence, etc...."

We are often asked if the G21 really believes one person can make a difference. We do. Ask Joe or Dan O'Neill... RA Mr. Liddy, along with others, was rounded up after the killings by members of the Parachute Regiment and taken to a British army detention center where they were severely beaten and then thrown out onto the street.

Picked up outside the detention center by good Samaritans and driven home, Mr. Liddy is described by the interviewer as being in a semi-conscious state, suffering from a broken leg, broken ribs, severe contusions of the head and badly bruised about the body.

Ironically, at the start of the interview Mr. Liddy describes himself as a former member of the Royal Navy, British Army, and the U.D.R. (Now defunct Ulster Defense Regiment).
The detention center where he was beaten, Fort George, was also his place of employment where he worked as a bartender for the Army, Navy and Airforce Institute.

Describing the horrific details of the killing around him, Mr. Liddy confirms that the first shots fired came from a rifleman positioned on the Derry Walls, a fact denied by the British army and successive British governments who have maintained that their soldiers fired in response to shots fired at them from within the march.

In heartbreaking detail, filled with emotion, Mr. Liddy describes watching helplessly, along with local priest, Father Bradley, as the British army "pumped bullets" into unarmed and wounded victims as they tried to crawl to cover.

While helping his brother, who was hit in the heart by a rubber bullet, he saw his wife's 17 year-old nephew, Michael Kelly, shot. "He was shot in the stomach by a rifleman firing from Derry Walls. I would say that he was the first casualty." said Mr. Liddy.

As he and the priest tried to assist the wounded waving a white handkerchief, soldiers fired on them forcing them to scramble for their lives behind a wall for cover. The dead and dying were denied the consolation of receiving the last rites of their Church from Fr. Bradley due to the intensity of rifle fire from British troops.

The tape has since been passed on to the Bloody Sunday Trust, in Derry. Lawyers, Madden & Finucane, who represent the majority of those murdered and wounded, have sent a letter of thanks for the receipt of the evidence. On behalf of the firm, Fearghal Shiels wrote:

"We are extremely grateful that you have taken the time to send this important piece of evidence to Ireland. Since Mr. Liddy is now sadly deceased, and therefore has not been interviewed by the new Tribunal, this evidence has assumed even greater importance."

All evidence submitted to the inquiry, said Shiels, is posted on the government Web Site.
An excerpted recording of the interview with Mr. Liddy can be found on the BBC Web site by following the preceding link. This link takes you on to the "Dublin Monaghan Bombings" article. Go on.

© 2000, GENERATOR 21.E-mail your comments. We always like to hear from you. Send your snide remarks to rod@g21.net.



The Liddy Tape - Part 2
by Rod Amis
G21 Special Report


To read this article in Deutsch, Francaise, Italiano, Portuguese, Espanol, copy and paste the complete URL(http://www.g21.net/irish28.htm) and enter it in the box after you click through.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Last week The World's Magazine provided the inside story behind how a thirty year old eyewitness account of the Bloody Sunday massacre in Ireland was provided to the new Blair government Bloody Sunday Inquiry in the United Kingdom. Our reporter, Joe O'Neill was directly instrumental in that process. But neither the official Inquiry Web site nor the BBC provided a complete audio or transcript of the John Barry Liddy Tape. As a service to our readers around the world, with the assistance of Ms. Jane Winter of British Irish Rights Watch, G21 provides that transcript.--RA]

...Today in Colmcille Court, the British Army opened fired indiscriminately against unarmed civilians whose only weapons were stones.

My own brother Seamus Liddy was hit in the heart by a rubber bullet. I ran forward to render him assistance along with the brother- in-law's son and the son-in-law. We lifted my brother up to carry him in to the side of the road.

My 17, or -- 15-year-old nephew was shot down, he was hit in the stomach from a rifleman firing from Derry Walls. I would say that he was the first casualty. His name was Michael Kelly, my wife's nephew.

Father Bradley, a Roman Catholic curate, knelt down at his head to administer the Last Rites of the Church. While he was doing so, the British army were still firing into us and four more innocent people fell, three of them consequently died; about the fourth one I am not terribly sure.

Father Bradley then went out on to the road to administer the Last Rites to the four people who were shot. As he went out from behind cover, the British army opened indiscriminate fire on him. Myself and another lad --- his name is unknown to me --- went out and pulled Father Bradley back. I got out my white handkerchief and went out at the corner of the building and waved it in the direction of the British army. As I did so, a burst of automatic or semi-automatic fire hit the side of the building beside where Father Bradley and I were standing.

Another chap at the other side of the road had been hit in the leg. He was lying behind cover and both Father Bradley and I appealed to him to stay where he was. As he tried to crawl forward onto cover, the British army pumped the bullets into him. He appealed to us for help but the fire was so heavy, we couldn't get across the road.

Again Father Bradley tried to get out to the four fellows who were shot. Three of them were dead and one of them raised his arm and beckoned us out to help him, but again we tried to go out and they shot at us.

They were calling from across the street for a priest and a boy who was lying dying on the street with his life's blood pumping out on the street, and again we couldn't get across.
At this the British army came around the corner. They were no more like human beings than the animals that come from the jungle!

I tried to protect Father Bradley. I was struck across the chest with a rifle. Father Bradley was also struck. Then we appealed to the lieutenant in the paratroop regiment, we were again beaten and told to speak only when spoken to.

We were put again at the wall with our hands on the wall and we were severely kicked about the legs and the private parts of our body.

When anyone fell, they were kicked again. We were then ordered into single file and were run down towards the wire netting that surrounded the GPO.

On my way down, a British soldier again swung his rifle and hit me with the butt.
When I fell they hit me with rubber hoses on the back and dragged me by the hair on my head to my feet again.

Again we were put facing the wire netting fences surrounding the GPO in Upper James' Street, again we were physically abused. We were then told to get into the lorry which was about 40 yards away, but before we could reach the lorry, we had to run a gauntlet of about 40 or 50 paratroopers.

Again we were beaten unmercifully. If we didn't get into the lorry quick enough we were again hit with rifle butts.

We were told to sit on the floor facing the back of the lorry... Suddenly they changed their minds and told us to turn around and face the front of the lorry. If we were a little bit slow in doing so we were again unmercifully hammered.

We were threatened with all sorts of repercussions but the lorry eventually moved off. Then it moved to the place of my employment which is known as Fort George, the original naval maintenance base, Strand Road, Londonderry, where I am employed as a barman by the navy, army and their force institutes.

On arrival at camp, we were ordered to leave the lorry one at a time. As we turned around to do so, two paratroopers in the back of the lorry again beat us.

There was a 13 or 14-year-old child just in front of me in the lorry. He asked me if I would look after him and I said I would.

I was a little bit slow getting out of the lorry and I was thrown out of it. When I fell again, I was kicked. I was made to get up and run the gauntlet again. If anyone has ever seen films of a white man running a gauntlet in an Indian village, this will give you some idea of what we had to run. We were taken into a large shed and were told to face the wall and stretch our hand palms outwards against the wall. Again we were kicked about the legs and were told to turn around and line up against barbed wire which we had to clutch with our bare hands. The paratroopers then came in and started identifying.... (The statement was terminated at this point in the interview because Mr Liddy was taken to hospital due to the injuries he received at the barracks.)

People throughout the world have access to the BBC World News. As you know, the Bloody Sunday Inquiry is now meeting daily. We pray that, perhaps, after thirty years, justice will finally be done. --- Rod Amis This link takes you on to the Brendan Hughes interview. Go on.


© 2000, GENERATOR 21.E-mail your comments. We always like to hear from you. Send your snide remarks to rod@g21.net.

Monday, 21 September 2009


Ardoyne – 'The Aftermath'
Limited Edition Booklet (250)
containing over 50 original
photographs from the exhibition
£10.00 plus P&P
Red Barn Gallery
43b Rosemary Street Belfast BT1 1QB
Tel: 0782 1260 883

Friday, 18 September 2009

ARDOYNE - THE AFTERMATH at The Red Barn Gallery

© Joe ÓNéill 2009
In July of this year, Belfast's Red Barn Gallery exhibited a collection of eye witness photography documenting the after effects of the burning of Bombay Street on 14 – 15 August 1969.

Marking a tragic turning point in the history of Northern Ireland, the burnings were the culmination of catastrophic and widespread failures of communications, and were to herald the arrival of the British Army onto the streets of Belfast and the birth of the Provisional I R A.

The pictures displayed in Bombay Street – Taken From the Ashes were shot by gifted amateur photographer Gerry Collins, and the effect of their first collective public viewing were sensational.

Gallery Director, Frankie Quinn, (himself a highly respected photographer) says "I knew when I first presented these images that they were something special, but even I wasn't prepared for the overwhelming reaction they promoted from the public."

"Their most significant effect, perhaps, has been to bring to light the photographic collection of the late Hugh McKeown, who, while helping evacuate his family, captured the impact of the burning of Ardoyne on its people and its streets."

"Hugh, like Gerry, was a remarkably talented amateur. His images express an instinctively artistic version and an extraordinary empathy, which makes themas emotionally compelling as they are historically valuable."

The exhibition features British soldiers enjoying and impromptu tea party (complete with cups and saucers) on a demolished street, Hugh shows us groups of people regarding their streets with stupefied disbelief, he shows us buildings which, only hours before were family homes, reduced to scorched ruins. In one image, two children pose at the wheel of a burned out bus. The bus's destination – Falls via Ardoyne – forges a striking ironic link between the two collections of photographs. As Ardoyne burned so did Bombay Street on the Falls Road.

Hugh's exceptional photographs are to be seen in public for the first time thanks to his widow, Terry McKeown, who was encouraged, after seeing the Bombay Street exhibition, to unearth his collection and show them to Frankie.

Frankie says: "Hugh was an amazing and truly gifted photographer. He had an amazing ability to capture ordinary people struggling to cope in extraordinary circumstances. This is a vital piece of photographic history which everyone deserves to see. It's a fitting tribute to a fully inspired photographer."

Bombay Street - Taken From the Ashes
Ardoyne - The Aftermath
September 18 - October 22

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Alliance Party E U Candidate defects to Conservative Party

In the second of the Soñar Guest Blogger series, Cllr Ian James Parsley explains his reasons for resigning from the Alliance Party to join the Conservative Party.

In these series, Soñar will publish without edit, the views of Guests.

The views of Guest Bloggers do not necessarily reflect those of Soñar.

Soñar will reserve the right to comment at time of publication, or thereafter, on articles submitted by Guests.

Cllr Ian James Parsley was born in 1977 and set up his own public relations consultancy in 1999. He joined the Alliance Party in 2002, was elected to North Down Borough Council in 2005, and served as Deputy Mayor from 2008-9. He was the Alliance Party's candidate at the European Election for the Northern Ireland region, attaining the party's best result for 30 years. He will spend the next year working with the Centre for Social Justice delivering a "Breakthrough Belfast" report as part of the think tank's "Breakthrough Britain" series.

No matter where we live, we cannot afford to stand aside and allow other people tackle the combined challenges of social breakdown, financial instability and climate change. We need to play our part in delivering social justice, economic turnaround, and sustainable living - and yet those of us in Northern Ireland have to put up with a UK Government which is directionless and a devolved Executive which is rudderless. It is time for change - a change in which we all play our part, nurturing opportunities for a new type of politics, advancing responsibility for the new generation, and protecting our security into a new decade. David Cameron's Conservatives offer that change.

The modernised Conservatives' commitment to tackling social breakdown is demonstrated by the ongoing work of Iain Duncan Smith's Centre for Social Justice - work I will be joining on Tuesday. The past 12 years have seen the development of a "client state", where people have become dependent on the state not just in times of trial, but at all times. We have left generations to face life with no real opportunities, unable to meet their responsibilities, and devastated by gangsterism and crime. Northern Ireland has its own legacy of conflict, but the basic problem of intergenerational frustration and hopelessness is the same. Earlier intervention in education, better collaboration with local communities, and more effective methods of policing and justice are essential - and that requires a vote for change.

The Conservatives also have the relevant answers on the economy - something about which I am keenly aware after 10 years in small business. Labour's claim to have "abolished boom and bust" has been shattered by recent economic developments, which have seen the UK slip into recession for longer than any other large nation. The country and its people are now in more debt than anywhere else in the developed world, and are faced with the threat of joblessness and falling incomes while the Government resorts merely to populism. Northern Ireland already had an economy hugely dependent on the public sector, and was even more ill-prepared for the downturn. Tax cuts for new jobs, lower business taxes and an entirely new economic approach are needed - and that requires a vote for change.

The Conservatives also recognise the UK's unique potential to be a global leader in developing a low-carbon economy, which will enhance our quality of life and make us less dependent on unreliable energy sources. Labour has dithered, turning the UK from a net exporter to a net importer of energy and leaving us all with the real threat that, some time during the next decade, the lights will simply begin to go out. As the Conservatives develop an energy grid based on renewable energy sources, a 'smart' energy grid and large-scale insulation projects, it is essential that Northern Ireland is not left behind - and that requires a vote for change.

Northern Ireland does have distinct interests and distinct needs. Choices in education, sport and leisure (not to mention politics) often follow sectarian fault lines. The cost of this division continues to be paid in outbreaks of violence, duplication (at expense to the rate payer) of public services, and limited choices of location for people to work and live. Tackling segregation is more important than ever at a time when the devolved political institutions are under pressure with the imminent transfer of justice powers, the local economy is in recession for the first time in nearly 30 years, and there is a renewed threat from dissidents in border areas. Conservatives in Northern Ireland are determined not only to put forward a slate of candidates who think and feel for the whole community in Northern Ireland, but also who can influence government policy at every level - and that requires a vote for change.

I am proud of the work I did with the party I left, the cross-community Alliance Party - serving it on my local Council, boosting its European Election fortunes, re-establishing its youth wing. I retain the utmost respect for the party, its principles, and its Northern Ireland Assembly team. In the end, however, I felt the challenges facing families in Northern Ireland were not just local but also global. I watched, hugely impressed, as David Cameron led the liberalisation and modernisation of the Conservative Party, and as Owen Paterson worked tirelessly to make it a new force in Northern Ireland. I recognised that, to achieve my political objectives, what was required was a vote for change.

Cllr Ian James Parsley
North Down (Holywood)

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Irish Family History Foundation Genealogical Online Record Search System

Doire Cholmchille

Irish Family History Foundation info@ifhf.ie

New records added to Irish Genealogical Online Record Search System
The Irish Family History Foundation is pleased to announce the availability of the records of Derry ~ Londonderry Genealogy covering the parishes and districts of County Derry on its Online Research Service (ORS). This adds another 0.8 million more baptismal, birth, death, marriage, and census records to our online database. The total number of records now searchable online is 16.2 million.

Just go to the following site and login using your existing IFHF login details.

Remember that you can purchase and spend your credit at any of the IFHF online centres.

Please check out our interactive map to see which county genealogy centres have data available online.

If you have any questions please check our FAQ, the list of SOURCES available online for each county and the SAMPLES of the type of records available; if this does not provide an answer, then do not hesitate to contact us. Please note that all queries will be answered in rotation.

Yours sincerely

Irish Family History Foundation

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Mattie Lennon has written articles (mostly humorous) for The Sunday Independent, The Irish Times, The Irish Post, Irelands Own, Irelands Eye, Kerry's Eye, The Wicklow People, The Leinster Leader as well as numerous on-line publications.

He claims that he was once told; "You have the perfect face for radio" and he compiled and presented his own programmes in the "Voiceover" series on RTE Radio One. He has presented ballad programmes on KIC FM and is currently doing a Sunday morning ballad show on Radio Dublin 100FM.

This year he co-presented the Saint Patrick's Day Ceol na nGael programme on WFUV 90.7 in the Bronx. He also does pre-recorded programmes for other stations. One such programme is "The Story And The Song" in which he plays a number of ballads, having first told the story behind each one.

He still writes the occasional ballad (not all of them fit for human consumption).

Many years ago, in a different life, Mattie and I contributed to the pioneering on-line magazine G21, under the title, “Irish Eyes.”

We recently reconnected, and Mattie has sent me this interesting review of Gaelic Games and Irish Transport.

This will be the first, in what I hope will be a continuing series, of Guest Bloggers on Soñar Blog.

Gaelic Games and Irish Transport
By Mattie Lennon
 John Cassidy is a voluntary steward in Croke Park and as such, he has witnessed spectacular victories, defeats and draws in football, hurling and camogie.
He is a Donegal man who won’t let you forget that his county won the all-Ireland final in 1992. His day job is as a supervisor with Dublin Bus, one of the CIE groups of companies. In October 2008, he was responsible for bringing CIE Transport Gaels to Gaelic Park, New York, to play teams from the NYPD and FDNY; the first time any CIE team played in America. In his memoir, he has written of how his childhood interest in Gaelic games was honed, “In McGettigan’s field in Clogher” and how, “two older boys would select the opposing teams: every one present was included which meant we often played twenty a side. As our pitch consisted of the entire field, this was no problem. With the goalposts (four jackets) in place, the game would begin. It would end for one of the following reasons: Hunger, darkness or a pitch invasion by Mc Gettigan’s cattle.”

John Cassidy’s experiences, literary ability and research skills have been, once again, juxtaposed to bring us his latest publication

“Buses, Trains and Gaelic Games” is a history of Gaelic games in Irish transport from 1885 to the present day. The author traces the path of Gaelic football, hurling, handball and camogie teams from the days of Charles Bianconi (the father of public transport, in Ireland) to the twenty-first century.

Since the foundation of Coras Iompar Eireann (CIE) in 1945 every section of the company, urban and rural, contributed to Gaelic sports and provided players at county, national and international level.

In his foreword, CIE Chairman John J. Lynch, says, “I deem it a high honour aprivilege to be invited to contribute a Foreword to the history of the many CIE G.A.A. clubs nationwide.” He goes on to praise, “ . . . the great sporting bodies within the CIE family ” and refers to the fact that their achievements “ both on and off the field, testify to the dedication of so many people . . . , which stands as a testimony to the organisational skills and tremendous sense of purpose which CIE has harnessed throughout its existence. Running a sporting organisation is a time consuming business but with the continued voluntary involvement of managers, coaches, administrators, players and supporters CIE will pass on a substantial legacy for future generations to build upon.”

Through, dedication, interviews and the relentless pursuit of source-material the author has given us a comprehensive and colourful account of clubs, teams and individual players associated with Irish transport over the generations. Some of these didn’t get the coverage they deserved, from the media, during their careers. One such, who features in this publication, was the most decorated player in the history of Gaelic games. Camogie player Kathleen Mills made her debut with the Great Southern Railway Club, Dublin, in 1938. In 1941, she played for Dublin, when they were beaten by Cork, in the All-Ireland final. She was on the winning Dublin team, which beat Cork in 1942 and 1943. She went on to win all-Ireland medals in 1948, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1955. She was Captain when Dublin beat Tipperary in 1957.

More All-Ireland medals were to follow in 1959, 1960 and 1961. The 1961 final was on her 38th birthday and it was the last time she wore the Dublin jersey. In retirement, she was known as “the Christy Ring of the camogie world”. She died in August 1996.

Every parish in Ireland has its sporting heroes and almost every townland has someone who works, or worked, in CIE. And John Cassidy hasn’t neglected the “sporting ballad.” Many clubs and individual players are lauded in such compositions as, “Kelly’s Heroes”, “Thirteen Men From CIE” and “Transport Gaels.” “A Tribute to Sean Kelly” by Christy Fitzgerald immortalises a legend.

Einstein said, “If I knew what I was looking for I wouldn’t call it research.” Well, the gems that John Cassidy didn’t expect to find in the National Library, publications as diverse as “The Freeman’s Journal” and “The Donegal Democrat” and the conversations of ordinary people, are now recorded for posterity between the covers on “Buses, Trains and Gaelic Games”.

This history of Gaelic games in Irish transport over a century and a quarter plus more than a hundred photographs is a book not to be missed.

“Buses, Trains and Gaelic Games” is available (Price €15, including postage) from;
Original Writing,
Spade Enterprise Centre,
North King Street, Smithfield,
Dublin 7.
or you can get an autographed copy from the author,
John Cassidy,
4 Ardmore Avenue,
Dublin 7.
And you can contact him at;

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Historic Fianna Fáil Meeting in Co. Down

Coming to a Constituency near You

© Joe ÓNéill 2009
L to R Minister Éamon Ó Cuív, Minister Dermot Ahern, Dr. Rory O’Hanlon, TD; meet with South Down Fianna Fáil Forum members.

A short distance from the constituency office in Downpatrick, Co. Down, of the Social Democratic and Labour MP, Eddie McGrady, local Fianna Fáil supporters met on Saturday evening, in the historic Denvir's Hotel, to launch a Fianna Fáil forum group for the South Down region.

Fianna Fáil party heavyweights who addressed the meeting were; The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr Dermot Ahern, TD, ; Éamon Ó Cuív T.D., Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; and a grandson of party founder Éamon de Valera; and Dr. Rory O’Hanlon, TD; a former Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann; (House Speaker) 2002 - 2007.

In his opening remarks, Gerald Kelly, a Co. Down forum member, said it was fitting that the meeting should be held in Denvir's, as the establishment could trace its history back to a time when the United Irishmen had met there, leading up to the rebellion of 1798. Daniel O’Connell had also addressed a meeting from the hotel balcony, as he held monster meeting throughout the country, during the fight for Catholic emancipation.

All three speakers from the party stressed that they were there to listen and learn form local people, and that there would be no dictates from party headquarters as to how, or at what speed, party organisation should take place.

Minister Ó Cuív, in a light-hearted moment, reminded the audience that his family had a 100% voting record running in South Down, referring to the election of his grandfather as a Stormont MP for the area, in 1933.

The first speaker from the audience to address the forum was Harvey Bicker, a former member of the Ulster Unionist Party, and member of the Down District Council, who quit his party in February of this year, and joined Fianna Fáil. Mr. Bicker, originally from Banbridge, told the meeting how his family’s commitment to Republican ideals goes back even further than their involvement in the ‘98 rebellion. He received a standing ovation from the audience.

Mr. Bicker, a retired Colonel, served in both the British army and the Ulster Defence Regiment, he now serves on President McAlleese’s Council of State.

Local Councillor, Peter Fitzpatrick, from the SDLP, also welcomed the formation of the Fianna Fáil forum.
Martin McAllister, a Co. Armagh Fianna Fáil forum member, from Crossmaglen, also attended the meeting. A similar group has been established in the strongly Republican heartland area, and have opened an office in the village.

The move by Fianna Fáil to establish the forums is in keeping with a resolution adopted at the party conference last February. The resolution called for the party to establish machinery for party members in the north of Ireland, to meet with Fianna Fáil elected officials, party officers, and southern-based membership.