The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

My Grandfather's Insurgency

The question has also been raised here about the terror used by the National Liberation Front, and by other revolutionary movements. I think there is a distinction between the use of terror by oppressed peoples against the oppressors and their servants, in comparison with the use of terror by their oppressors in the interests of further oppression. I think there is a qualitative distinction there which we have the right to make. — Conor Cruise O'Brien (1967)

Eoghan O'Suilleabhain •24 November 2007

My grandfather was once upon a time an insurgent, an Irish insurgent, who always felt a kinship with American Indians, Palestinians and Vietnamese.enemy combatants all.

I have no doubt that if he were alive today, he'd feel that same kinship with many of the Iraqi and Afghan insurgents trying to repel their Anglo-American invaders and occupiers.

Here are some of the things he told me.

When he was 16 years old (circa 1921) he was walking to school one morning along the Dockside Road just outside the village of Tarbert in North Kerry. The road followed along the south side bank of the River Shannon very near the Limerick County line. It was the main road from North Kerry into Limerick City and still pretty much is today.

A British lorry full of rifle toting soldiers drove by coming back from their well known local where they regularly hung out until morning and started shooting at my grandfather for the hell of it. Whether they missed intentionally or not -my grandfather didn't know but they scared the hell out of him just the same and he ran home seared forever by the experience which propelled him to support the then IRA.

What those soldiers didn't know was that my grandfather was the son of a British Navy veteran. My great grandfather was by then a retired Chief Petty Officer with over twenty years of service who barely survived the Boer War and the Battle of Jutland and was despite being very Irish very pro-British.

But so what, nits still make lice... after all what chance Brit soldiers then or now firing at English school boys in England for the hell of it?

That night, local IRA people came to my grandfather's house to investigate this British gun shooting incident the word about which had already spread locally. After my grandfather told them what happened, they asked him to bring his hunting rifle and a shovel and to join them on a ditch digging adventure. Off they went in the middle of the night and dug a big hole in a strategic part of a road not far from that pub and covered it with sticks and grass.

And before long, along came a British lorry full of the same or similar drunken soldiers. Their truck slammed predictably into the hole and all the Irish guys (including my grandfather) stood up from the nearby hedgerows with their rifles and guns and fired at them. My grandfather said there were bodies every where.all British, none Irish.

After that the Brits never fired at school children in the area again. Proof I suppose that behaviour modification isn't just top down.

Problem with this story is I've never been able to get it verified. And so I've always been reluctant to share it even though my grandfather was a very honest and principled man. Whereas the Brits have never been known for honesty or decency in any of their colonial endeavours past or present and have no problem sharing their lies about same world-wide.

I know that because of his Irish national liberation activities, my Grandfather had a falling out with his pro-British parents who he never spoke or wrote to after he fled Ireland in 1924. His mom died in the 1940's and his dad died in the 1950's and not a word oral or written passed between them during this time period, not even Christmas cards or baby pictures.

It was a sore subject that he didn't like to talk about. But civil wars everywhere (especially ones caused by foreign occupation) divide people. Brother against brother and Father against son. Same deal in Iraq and Afghanistan really...and both are former British colonies too...just like Iran. Now you know why a lot of the people there fight just like my grandfather fought with each other and with others. They don't want to be occupied, not today or tomorrow and certainly not permanently.

During the early 1970's, I asked my grandfather about some of the IRA atrocities that were being reported by the usual media and how he could support any of that. He said assuming what we heard was true, that the IRA is committing these kinds of atrocities then it wasn't the same IRA that he was involved with although he had no problem generally with native insurgencies being as violent as they had to be.

When I asked him to describe the difference if any, he said well.the IRA didn't have planes to drop bombs or ships to fire cannons from, so they could only ever do far less damage. Nor did they have enough money to bribe one part of the English population to fight against the other parts there.

Also, back then if they knew they had an informer in their midst, they never went to his house and shot him in front of his wife and kids, no sir, they waited along the road between his home and his work and simply grabbed and dragged him off to a remote field, held a hearing, showed him their evidence, got his confession and shot him dead leaving a note on the body letting everyone know it was the IRA who shot him and why, that way no one else would be wrongfully blamed and his wife and kids were spared at least any unnecessary heart ache.

These are some of those qualitative distinctions that natives every where have the right to make and keep on making against invaders and quislings otherwise it will just keep raining dead in Haditha.








Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles


14 January 2008

Other Articles From This Issue:

Republicanism...Alive or Dying?
Anthony McIntyre

Pillocks of the Community
John Kennedy

Irish Unity Cannot Be Ruled Out
David Adams

A Great Republican and a Great Man
Aine Doherty

John Kelly
Anthony McIntyre

How Urgent the Need?
John Kelly, from an interview with Liam Clarke

My Grandfather's Insurgency
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain

Kitsonian Success With the Provos...?
Liam O Comain

McGuinness Takes the Finland!
John Kennedy

Provisional Sinn Fein - Don't Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater
Jerry Pepin

John Kennedy

Operation Helvetic: To Be Expected
Michael Gillespie

Hung Out to Dry
John Kennedy

Re-Imagining Ireland
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission
Mick Hall

One Armed Bandit
John Kennedy

Terrorism and Leftism
Paddy Hackett

Power to the People
John Kennedy

24 August 2007

The Battle Against Truth
Anthony McIntyre

Divine Intervention
John Kennedy

Terence Killeen's "Ulyssess Unbound"
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Heads of Bigots Must Roll
Dr John Coulter

A Look at Bi-Nationalism
Michael Gillespie

Eire Nua, Revisited
Michael Costello



The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices