Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon


A number of celebrities were asked what they would do in the event of a nuclear hit. Pat Ingoldsby answered, “I would stand as close as possible to Charlie Haughey.”

Charles J. Haughey needed all his survival skills in the nineteen seventies. Just how much he needed them is laid out in David Burke’s book, An Enemy of the Crown. The author is David Burke, a barrister from Dublin, his father was a fine gael politician-

Burke leaves no stone unturned if his effort to bring to the reader a full account of the campaign by MI6 to wreck Charlie Haughey’s political career. Shortly after Charley Haughey was acquitted in the Arms Trial in 1970, Sir Maurice Oldfield of the British Secret Service, MI6, set out to blacken all aspects of Haughey’s life. It is alleged that “Oldfield was conspiratorial by nature and lacked a moral compass. He was involved in regime change plots and torture in the Middle East, the use of convicted criminals as agent provocateurs in the Republic of Ireland and the exploitation of paedophile rings in Northern Ireland.”

Prominent figures, on both sides of the Irish Sea, ably assisted him in his task. David Burke goes through the pedigrees and track records of all who participated in black propaganda. He refers to, “. . . a shadowy group of conspirators inside the Irish state’s security apparatus.” Burke lists the dirty tricks were used by these spies as they circulated vicious smears in Ireland, Britain, and the US.

The chapter Headed, “It Has to be Deniable in the Dáil”, is truly a revelation. Everything from the part that milk churns played in spying to the pumping out of black propaganda by selected journalists is covered in detail. After years of blackening Haughey’s name in various ways, MI6 played a part in trying to prevent Haughey from succeeding Jack Lynch as Taoiseach in 1979 by circulating lurid stories about him. While he was suspicious of MI6 interference, he had no idea of the extent to which London’s clandestine efforts went to destroy him. His brother Jock didn’t escape either. MI6 set out to link him to the gun that shot Garda Richard Fallon on June 03rd, 1970. Yet the Gardai had established that Jock Haughey had no connection with the gun.

The author describes the British Embassy as having become, “A glorified nest of spies, possibly the largest of its kind in western Europe.”

An Enemy of the Crown, published by Mercier Press, is dedicated to Fred Holroyd and Colin Wallace two British intelligence whistleblowers, and is an eye-opener. And shows material seen for the first time to shed light on at least some of the anti-Haughey conspiracies which took place during the period from the late 1960s to the early 1980s.

* * * * *


Lyreacrompane native, Joe Harrington who is famous as the producer of The Irish Rambling House, radio presenter, former Mayor of Limerick, and songwriter, has just published a book on the very first Butter Road from Kerry to the Cork Butter Market. Joe describes the book, ‘Once Upon a Road’ as a “search for the olden days on a sixty-mile journey through 275 years of time.”

The subject of the book is the road from Ballyduhig, near the Six Crosses, through Lyreacrompane, Castleisland, Cordal, Tooreencahill, Millstreet, Aubane, Vicarstown, to Kerry Pike outside Cork City. It was originally built as a toll road/turnpike, under a 1747 Act of Parliament. The man behind the venture was a John Murphy from Castleisland. "When I was growing up, I remember the dispensary at Pike, halfway between Lyreacrompane and Listowel. I often wondered why it was named Pike. Researching the history of this road over recent years I discovered that Pike in fact alluded to a turnpike/toll gate on this spot from the early 1750s to 1809. It was one of six that John Murphy was entitled to erect on the road all the way to Cork up until the latter date,” Joe told me.

Joe has been researching the history of the road for the past five years and it initially led to him writing a song on the subject; ‘The Road John Murphy Made’, which won the prestigious Sean McCarthy Ballad Competition a couple of years ago. “The ballad was about one man’s trip on the road in the 1750s and the book broadens the story of the road that connected the dairy lands of north Kerry and the famous Cork Butter Market”, Joe explained.

‘Once Upon a Road’ with 364 full-colour pages and 315 images, maps, and photos which Joe was delighted to have printed locally by Walsh Colour Print, Castleisland with graphic design by Easy Design, and Causeway.

"‘Once Upon a Road ‘dips into the local history of the townlands, towns, villages, and settlements through which the road passes. Every mile on ‘The Road John Murphy Made’ has a story to tell and along the way, we will meet Whiteboys and Hedge Schoolmasters, Freedom Fighters and Moonlighters, Famines and Natural Disasters, Mass Rocks and Wedge Tombs, Bronze age hoards and Bog Butter, Lost Estates and Evicted Tenants,” Joe explains. The road even played a part in the slave trade he reveals.

From Ballyduhig, where the road began near the present-day Six Crosses, to Kerry Pike near Cork City the book is a travelogue in time and place. Like the rest of the book, the Listowel to Lyreacrompane section is packed with the happening in the area since the road was built in the 1750s. The killing of the Earl of Desmond at Gleanageenty is revisited as is the adventures of the Earl of Kerry who owned much of the land through which the turnpike was built. Matchmakers, bog slides, new and ancient, and the story of the Lyreacrompane man who oversaw at least three hundred executions in an American Prison fill the pages as do heroes like Amelia Canty and villains like Lucy Ann Thompson. The visit of William Makepeace Thackeray, of Punch fame (or shame) to Listowel is recounted.

The author who spent years and years in this work would, “ . . . like to thank all the local historians along the route who unstintingly related to me all they had discovered about their own area and, on a road known for its ‘straight as a Gunbarrel stretches, to Kay O’Leary, who, so to speak, kept me on the straight and narrow. “

Once Upon a Road is widely available including from Joe Harrington, and Lyreacrompane. Joe can be contacted at 0872853570.

See you in December.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

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