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Thread: Irish Republicans on the continent 1919-23

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    Default Irish Republicans on the continent 1919-23

    In another thread the subject of Mussolini and Irish Republicans was brought up, someone mentioned that Ernie O'Malley had a picture of Mussolini in his cell in Mountjoy in 1923.

    By pure chance today I came across the Witness Statement of Maire Ni Bhrian today, a Cumman na mBan activists who attended the Red Cross convention in Geneva in 1921.

    Shortly afterwards she managed to get an interview with Mussolini in Rome.

    Mussolini seemed quite familiar with the situation in Ireland and began firing off rapid questions to which he expected equally rapid answers. The interview was conducted entirely in French, a language Mussolini spoke with great fluency. He asked me to arrange for a member of the Republican government to go out to Rome to see him but that whoever went should exercise the greatest caution, as 'there is a spy on every step of my stairs'. I duly sent the message home but I do not know what happened.
    Also topical given the current debates in Spain over Catalan Independence, she was in Barcelona in 1920, distributing Republican propaganda such as the Irish Bulletin.

    In Barcelona and in Catalonia generally there was great sympathy for Ireland and when Terence [MacSwiney] died [on hunger strike] the papers were full of articles about him and masses were offered for him i Churches which were crowded to the door. the University students and shop assistants all wore green ribbon in their button holes. There wwas a huge meeting in a beautiful club hall of shop assistants, with the tricolour at the end of the hall facing the platform. I was called on by the President to make a speech which I did in French as I did not know Catalan sufficiently well and the President was kind enough to translate it for me into that language. The Catalans always cherish their desire for separation from Spain and their desire for independence is a common bond of sympathy between them and us.

    All the speeches were in praise of Ireland and expressed sympathy for our objects in our fight for freedom. The ladies of Catalonia dressed with the greatest care and artistic finish a beautiful doll in the Catalan costume and sent it Terence MacSwiney's widow for their little daughter.Similarly when Kevin Barry was executed the students of Barcelona University had mass celebrated for him in one of the biggest churches there and had a wreath made with specially waxed flowers that would remain fresh until it arrived at his grave in Dublin.
    And there's more on her activities throughout Europe. You can read the whole thing at;

    http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.i...BMH.WS0363.pdf

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    Máire Ní Bhriain
    Cummann na mBan
    Pet hate of mine when historians are careless in regards to Irish spellings.
    "Only by applying the most rigorous standards do we pay writing in Irish the supreme compliment of taking it seriously." - Breandán Ó Doibhlín.

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    Very interesting John. Anecdotally, sympathy and a sense of grá for Ireland, and the long struggle for liberty, remains overwhelming everywhere I've been on the continent; an academic approach documenting experience of activists abroad from that time is most welcome.

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    Politics.ie Member fontenoy's Avatar
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    What's up with all the blackened out sentences and names? Fascinating stuff by the way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Riadach View Post
    Pet hate of mine when historians are careless in regards to Irish spellings.
    In fairness, on the original document, and Bhríain have the fada, so perhaps the lack of one over 'Maire' is an intentional choice on the depositee's part

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    Politics.ie Member Little_Korean's Avatar
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    Reminds me of the Bobby Sands Street in Tehran or Brittany, or the fashion for Boer hats in Ireland and France during the Anglo-Boer Wars.

    Which are either cases of sympathy or projection, depending how you want to look at it.

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    Politics.ie Member former wesleyan's Avatar
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    Is it easier for a Roman Catholic population to transfer from the authoritarianism of the Church to the authoritarianism of fascism than for a Protestant one ? And why did Irish nationalists not view the Catalonian indpendence movement as a partitionist one ? Or was a case of my enemies enemy is my friend ?
    "What Michael Collins accepted in '22,De Valera accepted in'27 and Gerry Adams accepted in '98.Sooner or later they all come around to accepting the Treaty"

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeamusNapoleon View Post
    In fairness, on the original document, and Bhríain have the fada, so perhaps the lack of one over 'Maire' is an intentional choice on the depositee's part

    Unlikely. More likely, the typewriter at the time couldn't produce á. That's still no reason for excluding it today.

    Look at the handwriting under the title of her statement though, she similarly (and correctly) doesn't have a síneadh fada on bhriain.
    "Only by applying the most rigorous standards do we pay writing in Irish the supreme compliment of taking it seriously." - Breandán Ó Doibhlín.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little_Korean View Post
    Reminds me of the Bobby Sands Street in Tehran or Brittany, or the fashion for Boer hats in Ireland and France during the Anglo-Boer Wars.

    Which are either cases of sympathy or projection, depending how you want to look at it.
    Projection for me. Btw article on Irish-Basque separatisms here.

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    SeamusNapoleon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riadach View Post
    Unlikely. More likely, the typewriter at the time couldn't produce á. That's still no reason for excluding it today.

    Look at the handwriting under the title of her statement though, she similarly (and correctly) doesn't have a síneadh fada on bhriain.
    ...she also has a fada over 'Máire' on her signature at the end of the document.

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