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Rory O'Connor - Bású na gCarad episode


Little_Korean

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I was wondering if anyone had caught last night's episode on Rory O'Connor as part of TG4's Bású na gCarad series?

The historical series will focus on the execution of Irish nationalist Erskine Childers and several other prisoners during the Irish civil war. Dominic Frisby will play Erskine Childers with Jessica Reagan playing the role of Molly Childers. Other Irish political figures to be dramatised include Rory O’Connor (Will O’Connell), Liam Mellows (Killian O’Donnacha), Joe McKelvey (Jason Matthewson), Dick Barrett (Larry McGowan) and Kevin O’Higgins (Ciaran McMahon), all of who were executed between 1922-1923 with the exception of Kevin O’Higgins who was murdered by a republican group in 1927. The script was written by Pat Butler.
I thought it was okay stuff. It was fun seeing the figures dramatised, and the actors did competent enough jobs, though as they were only required for short bits, a tour de force of acting wasn't exactly needed.

Beforehand I hadn't known anything about his early life, so I enjoyed the details like his time working in Canada (allowing him to get an international perspective on Ireland's situation) and his interest in science.

Could have done without the anti-Free State moralising towards the end. Amazing how some passions still run strong on the subject of the Civil War, which is one thing as a personal opinion, but when doing a documentary, even an objective tone is needed or some counter-viewpoints to ones already expressed.

One detail: the bit with Kevin O'Higgins giving a gold coin to O'Connor as a way of choosing him as his best man at the wedding - I'm guessing that's accurate? Anyone know anything about that custom, like when did it stop being used?
 


McTell

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No
RO'C was asked at the end of March 1922 if repudiating the Dáil meant that he was proposing a military dictatorship. He replied: "you can take it that way if you want".
 

Little_Korean

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The episode also left out O'Connor temporarily freezing Liam Lynch out as leader for not being hardline enough.

Admittedly it's hard for a 30 minute long episode to decide what to keep in and what to omit, but the show seems more useful to those who already know a fair bit about the person already and wants to see a bit of costume (uniform?) drama.
 

darkknight

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The killing of friends by friends is probably the most chilling aspect of the Civil War.

I really admire the ability of TG4 to produce this kind of programme, in spite of limited budgets.

The first two episodes (Erskine Childers and Rory O'Connor) were excellent. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
 

Argala

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RO'C was asked at the end of March 1922 if repudiating the Dáil meant that he was proposing a military dictatorship. He replied: "you can take it that way if you want".
I'd like to know the full context and tone of the quote though. Maybe he was just fobbing off the questioner in a kind of "You can believe what you want" kind of a way?
 

Little_Korean

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I'd like to know the full context and tone of the quote though. Maybe he was just fobbing off the questioner in a kind of "You can believe what you want" kind of a way?
I was wondering the same.A flippant reply to what O'Connor thought was an irrelevant question?

Flippant or not, though, what O'Connor was pushing towards could only have led essentially to a junta running things, and any civilian government a puppet one at best, whatever he intended at the time.
 

Argala

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I was wondering the same.A flippant reply to what O'Connor thought was an irrelevant question?

Flippant or not, though, what O'Connor was pushing towards could only have led essentially to a junta running things, and any civilian government a puppet one at best, whatever he intended at the time.
I don't think that's the only thing it could have led to. The republicans wanted a resumption of war against England until their goals were acheived, wasn't the whole point in seizing the Four Courts and to provoke a British reaction which (they hoped) would unite pro and anti against the common enemy.

Their strategy was military and not political, but I don't think they wanted a junta running the 26 Counties, they wanted a return to war. I don't think they really gave a huge amount of thought to the form the institutions of government would take after the war.
 

McTell

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No
I'd like to know the full context and tone of the quote though. Maybe he was just fobbing off the questioner in a kind of "You can believe what you want" kind of a way?
It was at a press conference and he went on to say that "..there were many times when revolution was justified and the Army had to overthrow the Government...."

That was the government of the Second Dáil that extreme republicans still cling to as the real fount of authority. Then he went and smashed up the presses of the Freeman's Journal a few days later for printing what he had said; the same FJ that had supported nationalism since the 1880s. You couldn't make it up.
 

Argala

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It was at a press conference and he went on to say that "..there were many times when revolution was justified and the Army had to overthrow the Government...."

That was the government of the Second Dáil that extreme republicans still cling to as the real fount of authority. Then he went and smashed up the presses of the Freeman's Journal a few days later for printing what he had said; the same FJ that had supported nationalism since the 1880s. You couldn't make it up.
My understanding was that O'Connor smashed the presses because it was essentially a propaganda tool of the pro-Treaty side. It's fairly standard practice in war to attack the communications and propaganda centres of the enemy.

Also, to say it supported "nationalism" is extremely vague. It supported Parnell and later the IPP, both very very moderate wings of Irish nationalism. It wasn't until 1918 that the journal began to support Sinn Fein, due primarily to its electoral success.

You make it sound as if the journal had been a staunch supporter of Irish independence from the go whereas it was actually filling a moderate niche in the market, (Redmondism) until that niche collapsed at which point it opportunistically jumped ship.
 

McTell

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My understanding was that O'Connor smashed the presses because it was essentially a propaganda tool of the pro-Treaty side. It's fairly standard practice in war to attack the communications and propaganda centres of the enemy.
Enemy? There was no war on in March-April 1922. Unless you're inventing one... The Provisional Govt (not yet the Free State) imposed its will on the press in September 1922, months after the civil war had started. Not in March. The FJ was a private business and not a propaganda centre. RO'C needed a PR agent is all, but shot his mouth off.

Also, to say it supported "nationalism" is extremely vague. It supported Parnell and later the IPP, both very very moderate wings of Irish nationalism. It wasn't until 1918 that the journal began to support Sinn Fein, due primarily to its electoral success.

You make it sound as if the journal had been a staunch supporter of Irish independence from the go whereas it was actually filling a moderate niche in the market, (Redmondism) until that niche collapsed at which point it opportunistically jumped ship.
That's what most of the population thought as well, so the FJ was on top of the reality. There, we were all opportunists.
 
S

SeamusNapoleon

Enemy? There was no war on in March-April 1922. Unless you're inventing one...
There were localised eruptions of fighting which left quite a few people dead in Carlow and Kilkenny in the time period you mention above.

As for the six counties, they did not experience a neat truce from July 1921 and those who opposed the Treaty - being opposed to partition and seeing Ireland as one sovereign unit - would have viewed the conflict within their nation as having continued.
 

Little_Korean

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I don't think that's the only thing it could have led to. The republicans wanted a resumption of war against England until their goals were acheived, wasn't the whole point in seizing the Four Courts and to provoke a British reaction which (they hoped) would unite pro and anti against the common enemy.

Their strategy was military and not political, but I don't think they wanted a junta running the 26 Counties, they wanted a return to war. I don't think they really gave a huge amount of thought to the form the institutions of government would take after the war.
I don't think setting up a junta was in any way their long-term agenda - as you say, it was a return to war and an eventual 32-county republic, and any military dictatorship-tendecies would have been seen as the method, not the end.

However, any republic/state that emerged would have been based on a handful of military officers deciding to ignore whatever the Dail said because they didn't like it, hardly the grounds for a functioning democracy.
 

shutuplaura

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I don't think setting up a junta was in any way their long-term agenda - as you say, it was a return to war and an eventual 32-county republic, and any military dictatorship-tendecies would have been seen as the method, not the end.

However, any republic/state that emerged would have been based on a handful of military officers deciding to ignore whatever the Dail said because they didn't like it, hardly the grounds for a functioning democracy.
Probably true - they didn't attempt to launch a coup after all. The Anti-Treaty wing of the IRA was stronger than the Pro-Treaty until after the start of the civil war so it would have had a reasonable chance of success. Their strategy seems to have been both ill thought out and pretty defensive at that point. An armed protest almost.
 

Little_Korean

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Probably true - they didn't attempt to launch a coup after all. The Anti-Treaty wing of the IRA was stronger than the Pro-Treaty until after the start of the civil war so it would have had a reasonable chance of success. Their strategy seems to have been both ill thought out and pretty defensive at that point. An armed protest almost.
'Armed protest' sounds about right.

Or passively aggressively making the situation untenable until things broke down and the war naturally resumed of its own accord. Mind you, members of the new Civic Guard in the RDS were sniped at sporadically from the neighbouring buildings, not to mention infiltrated by O'Connor's followers, so maybe a little less on the 'passive' side.

Interesting comparision in the documentary to the Four Courts occupation with the Easter Rising, which the show suggests O'Connor's guys were consciously imitating.
 

McTell

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There were localised eruptions of fighting which left quite a few people dead in Carlow and Kilkenny in the time period you mention above.

As for the six counties, they did not experience a neat truce from July 1921 and those who opposed the Treaty - being opposed to partition and seeing Ireland as one sovereign unit - would have viewed the conflict within their nation as having continued.
Yes I agree. So was RO'C's comment as close as it got to a declaration of war? Argala seems to think so. The problem is that in the real world you don't usually expect to be armed and paid by your "enemy". It gets back to "you couldn't make it up".
 

shutuplaura

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'Armed protest' sounds about right.

Or passively aggressively making the situation untenable until things broke down and the war naturally resumed of its own accord. Mind you, members of the new Civic Guard in the RDS were sniped at sporadically from the neighbouring buildings, not to mention infiltrated by O'Connor's followers, so maybe a little less on the 'passive' side.

Interesting comparision in the documentary to the Four Courts occupation with the Easter Rising, which the show suggests O'Connor's guys were consciously imitating.
I would wonder how much co-ordination there was in the Anti-Treaty side before the war broke out. Trouble in Kilkenny for instance. Was that directly orchestrated by the leadership or was it a local development?

Comparing the Four Courts Garrison unfavourable to the men of 1916 is something Ernie O'Malley himself did in the aftermath. I wonder what going out of their way to be intimidating actually means though. They were (along with the FS forces) enforcing a trade boycott. It was a joint policy. That would certainly have been intimidating to traders or even transport workers.

They would have been intimidating by their nature though - garrison of armed men occupying a landmark civic building.
 

DrNightdub

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The trouble in Limerick, Kilkenny and Donegal all seems to have had local origins with, in the first two cases, the respective headquarters only getting involved afterwards to settle things down. From April onwards, a lot of the most senior anti-Treaty figures from around the country would've been spending a lot of time in Dublin, between Army Conventions, IRB peace talks, Dail peace talks involving the "Committee of Ten", re-unification talks after the anti-Treaty side had an internal split, etc.
 

Argala

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Enemy? There was no war on in March-April 1922. Unless you're inventing one... The Provisional Govt (not yet the Free State) imposed its will on the press in September 1922, months after the civil war had started. Not in March. The FJ was a private business and not a propaganda centre. RO'C needed a PR agent is all, but shot his mouth off.
I'm not talking about direct control by the pro-Treaty side, propaganda doesn't work that way in real life. Look at Fox News, or the Catholic Church. These are independent, private entities that promote specific political attitudes and attack others.

That's what most of the population thought as well, so the FJ was on top of the reality. There, we were all opportunists.
No, most people took their stances on the Treaty based on whether they wanted war or peace. I don't think people who wanted peace were opportunistic in the same way that people who saw pound signs in the Treaty were.

However, any republic/state that emerged would have been based on a handful of military officers deciding to ignore whatever the Dail said because they didn't like it, hardly the grounds for a functioning democracy.
Neither are illegal, extra-judicial executions promising grounds.

Besides, the Irish revolution was begun by a hugely unpopular vanguard in 1916, that particular problem applies to both sides.

Yes I agree. So was RO'C's comment as close as it got to a declaration of war? Argala seems to think so. The problem is that in the real world you don't usually expect to be armed and paid by your "enemy". It gets back to "you couldn't make it up".
No, I don't know what his comment was. I raised the possibility that his reply was a flippant dismissive one to a paper he knew sided with his opponents, (how would Ian Paisley react to an An Phobacht interviewer I wonder).

You seem to believe that since there was very little fighting between the sides, that the FJ couldn't have sided with the Treatyites? And that since the Free State didn't exercise control over the press at that time, the paper couldn't have possibly been partisan?
 

McTell

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I'm not talking about direct control by the pro-Treaty side, propaganda doesn't work that way in real life. Look at Fox News, or the Catholic Church. These are independent, private entities that promote specific political attitudes and attack others.
So it's OK to smash up the gear of media you don't like? Come on.

Neither are illegal, extra-judicial executions promising grounds.
None in March 1922. If you mean the executions that the Dáil voted for in September 1922, that was a few months on.

There's a simple logic to it all: no RO'C, no civil war, no executions.
 

Con Gallagher

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It's fascinating that there is no hint of regret by establishment parties that they summarily executed Republicans, not for the crimes they committed, because they feared destabilizing the Free State and it being drawn into a war to end partition. Once the radical republicans (including Collins) were safely out of the way, the only thing that changed from British rule was the flag flying and the accents of the rulers (as predicted). There isn't even the slightest hint of regret.
 

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