Wednesday, March 26, 2014

'Dublin Jack' / Seamus Malone

“Dublin Jack” was a name I came across on a few occasions, especially when talking to those who were born or lived in the Castlemitchell area.  So far as I can find out “Dublin Jack” died in or around 1945.  An intelligent man, he was well known in the Castlemitchell area where he worked and lived for most of the year, travelling around and working when he could find work, for local farmers.  With the name “Dublin Jack” his birth place was readily identifiable, even if it couldn't be recognised from his accent or the strange language he used.  For “Dublin Jack”  had a language which owed little to the Queen's english.  The Bleeding Horse, a well known hostelry was a favourite haunt of “Dublin Jack” and the story has come down through the generations of the night the Gardai cycled out from Athy to raid the country pub.  The luckless late night patrons, including “Dublin Jack” were duly summoned to appear at the local District Court when the man from the capital addressed the presiding Judge.  In explaining his presence on the premises after hours “Dublin Jack” claimed:  “Every night before I hit the long jump I take in a long journey and I was only down to the church windows when the copper knocked to let him come in”.  Some of the locals who were well accustomed to listening to “Dublin Jack” and understood his language were called upon to explain to the Court what he had said and the translation involved explaining that “the long jump” meant “bed” and “a long journey” meant “a pint of porter” and “the church window” was “the bottom of a pint glass”.  It goes without saying that the colourful character is believed to have had the charge against him dismissed.

“Dublin Jack”  spent most of the year in the Castlemitchell/Churchtown area and the Bleeding Horse, or more correctly one of its many outhouses, provided the sleeping quarters for the knight of the road.  He wasn't in the ordinary sense one of the many men who travelled the Irish countryside in the 1930's, moving from one place to another in search of work, all the time sleeping rough and generally returning to the same places at different times of the year.  “Dublin Jack” spent most of the year in the Castlemitchell area and while he usually disappeared for the winter months he was always expected to return with the Spring to his favourite haunts near the Laois border.

“Dublin Jack” was believed to have been a nephew of James Carey, a leading member of the Invincibles who were involved in the Phoenix Park Murders.  The Invincibles were a breakaway group of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and five of its members were hanged for the murder in the Phoenix Park on 6th May 1882 of Lord Cavendish, Chief Secretary of Ireland and his Under Secretary Thomas Burke.  Carey, who was a Dublin bricklayer, turned informer and in return he was sent to South Africa to start a new life.  However, he was shot dead on the boat bringing him and his family to that country while the boat was lying off the coast of Capetown. 

The extended Carey family left behind in Dublin, although innocent of any complicity in the work of James Carey, found it necessary to move out of the city.  “Dublin Jack” took to the road, while his brother who was a baker ended up in Celbridge in the north of the county.  There may be some persons who remember “Dublin Jack” who died over 60 years ago and if so I would be pleased to hear from them.

Anyone interested in the Invincibles should read “The Irish National Invincibles and their Times” by P.J.P. Tynan who was their leader.  He died in New York in November 1936, aged 94 years, and the Irish Independent of 20th November of that year in announcing his death referred to him as “the man who at one time was well known in England as a loyal member of a select London volunteer regiment and was one of the Guard of Honour to Queen Victoria when she opened the new law courts in London.”  Another interesting London link with the Phoenix Park Murders was announced in the Freemans Journal of 22nd June 1883 when the following report appeared.  “On Wednesday by the midday boat (London and Northwestern Route) from the North Wall the authorities consigned to the Messrs Tussaud Wax Works Exhibition, the car used by Kavanagh in the Phoenix Park murder of Mr. Burke and Lord Frederick Cavendish, also the mare who was on that day yoked to the car together with Kavanagh's whip and the identical clothes worn by him on that occasion.” 

In the past I have made brief references to Seamus Malone, a teacher, who so far as I can find out taught in the local Christian Brothers School sometime in the early 1920's.  Seamus who was a teacher of Irish and history spent approximately four years in Athy and during that time he was responsible for reviving the local G.A.A. Club.  At the same time he was very much involved in the Republican Movement and it was this involvement which would eventually cause him to leave the Christian Brothers school.  Two of his children, Sheila and Una, were born in Athy and the Malone family lived in Stanhope Street on the same side as Winkles newsagents.  Seamus was a good friend of Paddy Gibbons, a local journalist who lived in Woodstock Street, and both shared strong Republican affiliations.  Thomas Malone left Athy to take up a teaching post in Kilrush in County Clare and later taught in Newtown Quaker school in Waterford before ending his teaching career in a Jewish school in Dublin.  Seamus and his brother Tom Malone were very involved in the Irish War of Independence, Tom being a Commandant in the East Limerick Flying Column.  Tom Malone wrote of his experiences in the I.R.A. in a book published in 2000 under the title “Alias Sean Forde”, while his brother Seamus wrote of his I.R.A. involvement in a book published by Sairseal and Dill in 1958 called “Bfiu an Braon Fola” which Fr. Patrick Twohig, Parish Priest of Churchtown in County Cork translated and published as “Blood on the Flag” ten years ago.  I am sure there is no one around who remembers Seamus Malone, but perhaps somewhere there may be a reference to, or a photograph of, the man who spent four years amongst the Athy people.  Again if you can help in my research surrounding Seamus Malone I would be delighted to hear from you.

Elections to Athy Urban District Council were held on 15th January 1920, even as the War of Independence was entering its second year.  One of the Sinn Fein councillors elected at that time was Thomas O'Rourke of William Street who coincidentally was joined on the Urban Council by Joseph O'Rourke, also of William Street.  Were they related I wonder?  Three months later Thomas O'Rourke and three of his sons were arrested by a group of Black and Tans and R.I.C. in a roundup of local I.R.A. sympathisers.  How long they were detained I cannot say but twelve months later Thomas O'Rourke and John Hayden, another Athy man, were reported in the local papers as having been used as hostages on an army lorry which passed through Athy.  John Hayden who was captain of the local I.R.A. company was a teacher in the Christian Brothers school in Athy.  John lived with his brother Paddy,  who was also involved in the I.R.A. at no. 7 Offaly Street.  He would again be interned during the subsequent Civil War and would, like many who opposed the Treaty, emigrate to America.  He returned to Ireland in 1934 and died 31 years later.  Thomas O'Rourke and his three sons remain somewhat of a mystery insofar as I have never been able to satisfactorily identify them.  If you think you can help me in that regard I would welcome hearing from you.

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