Friday, September 4, 2009

Message in a Book.

4ú MEÁN FÓMHAIR. 2009.


Regular readers will recall that in May I wrote about Big Marshall 'Mick' Mooney. Big Mick had just died of cancer. He and I shared many fine experiences and none more memorable than one of my doomed efforts, to escape from internment in Long Kesh on Christmas Eve 1973.

There were four of us on this occasion, myself, Big Mick, Toddler and Marty and we ended up in court before Diplock Judge Kelly. We had, among other things, the distinction of being on remand and interned and soon to be sentenced prisoners all at the one time.

I decided, as we sat in the dock at Belfast Court House and as Mr. Kelly was telling us what bad people we were for daring to try to escape from an internment camp in which we were being held without charge or trial or due process, to write a little note to another old comrade Dickie Glen' who was interned at the time.

I had a book which I was going to give him as a going away present and I scribbled in the flyleaf : “Dickie, I don’t know what the date is but Toddler, Mick and Martin are to my right, the Judge is to my front and I am on my behind. He is about to give us three years each and he looks very serious. I don’t think he likes me writing like this while he is summing up. Yahoo only eighteen months each. Yahoo, Yahoo!! Todller is crying his eyes out, Mick is thanking the Judge (a Mr. Kelly). Martin’s staunch. It’s time to go again back thru’ the Crum. Be good. Me”

And then it was back through the tunnel between Crumlin Road courthouse and on to Long Kesh where I found myself in Cage 11 along with Marshall, Toddler and other sentenced Republican prisoners.

The book was forgotten about. I don't know if Dickie ever got it and he, being in his dotage, can't recall either. The book was Peter McInerney’s biography of Peadar O Donnell, ‘Irish Social Rebel’ But the story doesn’t end there. Recently, I received from Louise Ferguson, wife of the late Mickey Ferguson MLA a photocopy of the inside cover of the book and the message I scribbled in late 1974.

Where was it all of these years? How did she get it? The intrepid RG set out to investigate.

It turns out that Patricia O Doherty, a friend of Mickey's, had the book in her home in Carrickmacross in County Monaghan.

Michael and Patricia’s husband Cahir had both been in the sentenced cages in the 1970’s. Patricia was regularly asked, like many other relatives, to bring books and magazines up on visits for the prisoners.

Previously, on another visit an over zealous and arrogant screw had challenged her after he discovered that one of the books she was sending in was a library book. She was taken into a side office and shouted at, at some length by this guardian of our library system.

Subsequently, Patricia carefully checked books to avoid repeating that experience. On this occasion when she was taking books in for Mickey they included the Peadar O Donnell one. She opened it and read my note. She didn’t know who it was for or who had written it and for a time she considered tearing it out and sending the book on into the prison. But she didn’t. She put the book to the side.

Patricia meant to show it to Michael Ferguson when he and Cahir were released but she never did. But when Mickey died she showed it to Louise. They figured out the note was mine and then sent a photocopy of it for me. I gave a belated copy to Dickie who had patently waited for 35 years for a note he never knew had been written to him.

So there you are.

As your man keeps telling me, its a funny old world. Incidently the drawing of Peadar O Donnell is not mine. It was part of the original publication. You will also have noted by now that I didn't get the book back. Neither did Dickie.

Ah so......


Anonymous said...

Hi Gerry,What a great find especially when it brings back such fine memories.It glorious to know those memories will last forever.E.F.

Anonymous said...

Hey Adams, why are you still writing such nonsense, tales of daring-do republicans? You aren't a republican. I just finished reding Jonathan Powell's `Great hatred, little room' book. My, my, how they fooled you, you political incompetent. Writing your speeches, making demands on you, and then getting you to accept that if the good friday agreement was implemented, there was no further ``causs of conflict''!!! Stop calling yourself a republican, you are anything but. And your pathetic, grovelling attitude comes across throughout the book. For instance the time there was a crisis in the peace process and you asked powell if ``he fancied a few jars''. Oh my my. You are a terrorist to him, or as he refer to you, a `godfather'. Is your political accumen really so poor that you think such an approach is either helpful or appropiate. You, and McGuinness, are political dunces. You negotiated an horrific deal, and did so on the back of decades of sacrifice by republicans. That you have the gall to sit here today and lecture others is truely stupendous. Adams, go away.

Anonymous said...

Adams do you feel ridiculous having negotiated what is without doubt the worst treaty for republcians in the history of Ireland? You got no movement on the irish language (beyond a vague aspirational and meaningless note from blair), no demilitarisation of the RUC, a massive MI5 headquarters built here, the unionist veto enshrined in legislation, articles 2 and 3 removed, no flags and emblems act, orange order members still allowed to join the police, north south bodies that are so utterly meaningless and toothless as to be totally irrelevant and an assembly that effectively ccopper-fastens sectarianism. Are you serious? Why don't you drop the name Sinn Fein and stop calling yourself a republican? In the process maybe you could change your surname to Fitt. Would suit you better. I know your surrounded by a bunch of 50 somethings who spent time in jail and other ounger people with a fairly limited mentality. But yes men won't get you anywhere. what you and McGuinness need to do is step down as quickly as possible. I recognise that we can't turn back time and the deal you signed up for is hideous. But at the very least if we could get rid of you and mcguinness as leaders we stand a chance of at least getting the party back on the right course. You and he are both frighteningly bad performers in southern elections and you have clos to zero credibility in republican circles in the north. Trust me. So please, please, please GO! After your political incompetency of the past decade it is the biggest favour you could do republicanism. By the way I am not a member of Sinn Fein and the one thing that completely deters me from joining is the present leadership of the party. I am sure that I, like many others, could add something to the party, but unfortunately that won't happen until you and he leave and a new Sinn Fein is born. Until then parties like Eirigi are much more attractive to many republicans.

Timothy Dougherty said...

RIP Big Marshall 'Mick' Mooney, one more victim British Poison gas. Hard within my imagination why the british government can not come clean.Nice post post Gerry