Sean O’Casey [as , The Story of the Citizen Army (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), 62pp. - Extracts

Preface: The author ventures to hope that this humble attempt to reveal some of the hidden things correlative with the origin and development of the Irish Citizen Army will prove interesting to all who participated in the motives which inspires its creation, and, indeed, even to those who viewed its activities with suspicion and mistrust.’ [iv]

... ‘It is impossible yet to say whether the events of Easter Week will achieve a Democratisation of Irish Nationalism, or whether the latter influence will deflect itself towards the broader issues of the Irish Labour movement.’ [vi]

Chapter 1 epigraph quotes “The Man from God Knows Where” [‘The people were waitin’ in thousands there, / An’ you couldn’t hear stir nor breath.’]

[Sentence 1:] ‘Discontent had lighted a blazing camp-fire in Dublin ... reflected by an earnest and ominous glow in the face of every Dublin worker.

Captain White; Jim Larkin.

Chapter 2
Epigraph taken from Walt Whitman.

‘indefatiguable Captain White’ [7]

‘The creation of the National Volunteers was one of the most effective blows which the Irish Citizen Army received. Thousands ... passed over into the more attractive and better organised camp of the Volunteers.

[Further:] ‘Many, no doubt, preferred Caithlin Ni Houlihan in a respectable dress than a Caithlin Ni Houlihan in the garb of a working woman.’ [9]

‘The writer of this little work ... [?Sean] Ó Cathasaigh ... deputed to make out an agenda and draft a Constitution ...’ [12]

‘the first and last principle of the Irish Citizen Army is the avowal that the ownership of Ireland, moral and material, is vested of right in the people of Ireland.’ [14]

Chapter IV
Quarrel, &c. epigraph quotes Plantagenet and Somerset’s opposed claims to truth. The chapter includes an exchange of letters between John McNeill [sic] and Ó Cathasaigh. O’Casey identifies Bulmer Hobson as ‘one man’ who persistently opposed ‘any corporate union beteen militant Nationalism and Labour’, a man ‘whose personality was ... almost worshipped in the National camp’, whose attitude was that of ‘the witches towards the intrusion of Faust and Mephistopheles [‘Who are ye ... The plague of fire into your bones!’] - and ‘whose warmest appreciation of all things pertaining to Labour was a sneer, and whose influence, which was powerful and potent, even with those whose sympathies were undoubtedly working class, was always directed towards the prevention of an understanding ... &c.’ [31]

Chapter VI
Social Life. ‘Jim Larkin as the life and soul of these gatherings, and frequently the audience would imperiously demand “a songs from Jim” ... the Red Flag or The Rising o’ the Moon. [36]

Croydon Park a night camp [38]

a rifle range erected at Croydon Park [42]

‘In 1914 an elaborate plan had been sketched by Jim Larkin for the organisation of all Ireland, and he spent some weeks designing a suitable travelling caravan, which was to consist of a living room and two small bedrooms, in which he and a few chosen followers were to tour the country, and to form companies of the Army in every hamlet and village in Ireland.’ [42]

“Seeing that Madame Markievicz was, through Cumann na mBan, attached to the Volunterrs, and on intimate terms with many of the Volunteer leaders, ... inimical to the first interests of Labour, it could not be expected that Madame could retain the confidence of the Council; and that she should now be asked to sever her connection with either th Volunteers or the Irish Citizen Army.” (O’Casey motion as Hon. Sec.) [45.]

‘A vote of confidence in Madame Markievicz, with ensuing apologies, passed seven to six. O’Casey refused to withdraw his comments, ‘he was sorry he could not do as Jim suggested, and that that his decision was definite and final.’ [46]

O’Casey replaced as Secretary by J. Connolly, and afterwards Sean Shelly, Michael Mallon, W Halpin, and M. Nolan included on Executive. [47]

Chapter X
Eepigraph from Edward Martyn: ‘My Country Claims me all, claims every passion; / Her liberty henceforth be all my thought! / Though with a brother’s life yet cheaply bought; / For her my own I’d willingly resign, / And say, with transport, that the gain was mine.’

Under Connolly’s leadership ... The [Volunteers] attitude of passive sympathy began to be gradually replaced by an attidue of active unity and co-operation. In their break-away from the Parliamentarian Party ... [51]

A well-known author has declared that Connolly was the first martyr for Irish Socialism; but Connolly was no more an Irish Socialists martyr than Robert Emmett [sic], P.H. Pearse, or Theobald Wolfe Tone.’ [52]

Chapter XI
THE RISING, epigraph, verses, “The Five Souls” [ending ‘You gave your lives for them - God rest you all!’], WN Ewen. O’Casey recounts the surprise on O’Connell St. when the GPO is taken. [59]

the mêlée at the Castle [60] the surrender Apr 19th 8.30 p.m. [err.], Moore St.

[On Francis Sheehy-Skeffington:] ‘Unwept, except by a few, unhonoured and unsung - for no National Society or Club has gratefully deigned to be called by his name, - yet the ideas of Sheehy-Skeffington, like the tiny mustard-seed today, will possibly grow into a tree that will afford shade and rest to many souls overheated with the stress and toil of barren politics. He was the living antithesis of the Easter Insurrection; a spirit of peace enveloped in the flame and rage and hatred of the contending elements, absolutely free from all its terrifying madness; and yet he was the purified soul of revolt aginst not only one nation’s injustice to another, but he was also the soul of the revolt against man’s inhumanity to man. And in this blazing pyre of national differences his beautiful nature, as far as this world is concerned, was consumed, leaving behind a hallowed and inspiring memory of the perfect love that casteth out fear, against which there can be no law.

[...]

In Sheehy-Skeffington, and not in Connolly, fell the first martyr to Irish Socialism, for he linked Ireland not only with the little nations struggling for self-expression, but with the world’s Humanity struggling for a higher life. [...] so will the sown body of Sheehy-Skeffington bright forth, ultimately, in the hearts of his beloved people, the rich crop of goodly thoughts which shall strengthen us in all our onward march towards the fuller development of our National and Social life.’ [64]

‘While the ultimate destiny of Ireland will be in the hands of Labour, it would be foolish to deny that the present is practically in the hands of the Sinn Fein Organisation ... Labour comes halting very much behind. ... Persecution has deepned our sympathies with our Irish origin, and the Irish Labour leaders, sooner or later, will be forced to realise that they must become Irish if they expect to win the confidence and support of the Irish working-class. [66]

[...] Labour will probably have to fight Sinn Fein ... Labour, through the Citizen Army, has broken down the first trenches of national prejudice, and has left a deep impression on the bloody seal of Irish Republicanism’

[End]

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