Random Ramblings from a Republican
Saturday, November 20, 2004
  *Part 2
History of the Irish Citizen Army
by RM Fox

The Starry Plough

Other men - and there are many - might be spoken of, but I will name only two. One is Councillor William Partridge, who in the dark days of 1913 displayed lion-hearted courage in the industrial struggle. He stood against victimisation, corruption, violence - all the powers which endeavoured to quell his spirit. No matter how hard the blows, he was never beaten to the ground, and his voice was always heard encouraging and championing the oppressed. In the 1916 struggle he fought and was imprisoned. The following year, broken in body - but never in spirit - he returned home to die.

The last man I will speak of is Captain Robert de Coeur. His stretch of service extends from the days of the 1913 strike - when his enthusiasm initiated the Fintan Lalor Pipe Band - up thru 1916, when he served in Stephens Green, to the Civil War period when - though far from strong - he took the field again in Dublin. He died years later, after a lingering illness, but old Citizen Army men have a special affection for his memory. So far as the living are converned their lives are a part of the texture of the story.

Among the Citizen Army women, Countess Markievicz stands out not only for the deep impression she made on the Citzen Army and nation but because, from the first, she was loyal to the struggle of the workers. She stood with them in the darkest days and fought with them in the days of glory.

One of the rank and file women - Rosie Hackett - recently showed me the step-ladder leading to the roof of Liberty Hall, and the door which several girls, led by Helena Molony, barricaded in 1917, when they unfurled their scroll in honour of Connolly.

A final word. In treating of the events, struggles and controversies of those fateful years, my aim has been to eliminate ephemeral happenings and tell only what has a direct bearing on the activities of he Army, the way it shaped its course thru the sea of trouble circumstance. In tracing the rise and proress of the Army it is necessary to cut away whatever might obscure a view of that forward match.

These men and women of the Citizen Army were workers - chiefly manual workers. The girls worked at sewing or in factories, a workroom and started for some of them at Liberty Hall. Men were carters, clerks, factory hands, occupied in foundries, on building work and in all the various ways of earning a living. Neither in education nor in oppurtunity had they any advantage over their fellow-workers. And those who know the labour conditions of Dublin in 1913 will realise what this means.

Yet , when the time came, these men were willing to drop their hammers and hods, to quit their factories and foundries and march out with guns in their hands to face disciplined and mechanised troops. Women workers marched with them. These civilian soldiers staked their lives for a dream of freedom. When men and women are ready to do this it is surely a sign that human freedom can never be crushed.
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Ta ar la anois.

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