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Letters to the Editor: Tom Barry’s reputation is in good shape

November 28th, 2022 8:00 AM

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EDITOR – As the anniversary of the November 28 1920 Kilmichael Ambush rolls around again, Southern Star readers may be interested in responses to Eve Morrison’s recent book on the ambush.

Dr Morrison’s research defends the late Peter Hart. In The IRA and its Enemies, he alleged that ambush commander Tom Barry was a lying serial killer, who concocted the story of a false surrender by some British Auxiliaries. It caused the deaths of two (out of three in total) IRA volunteers, said Barry. The deception was the basis for Barry refusing further surrenders and fighting, literally, to the finish.

Morrison attempted to justify her belief that Barry concocted his narrative in the mid 1930s. I believe that is a clear mistake on Dr Morrison’s part, as Meda Ryan pointed out in her Tom Barry biography and as I demonstrate in my recent essay, ‘Rehabilitating Peter Hart’.

It is also now beyond doubt that Peter Hart’s parallel assertion that he spoke about the ambush to two participants is a false claim.

Hart said he spoke to two anonymous Kilmichael Ambush IRA volunteers in 1988-89 when one, Ned Young, was alive and aged 96. Hart’s notes on his Young ‘interview’ confirm no discussion of the ambush, as Dr Morrison admits in a throwaway sentence in her book. That is probably because, as Ned’s father the late John Young confirmed in 2008, Ned Young suffered a stroke two years earlier, making speech impossible. This condition was confirmed recently by Meda Ryan, who remembered meeting Ned Young at KIlmichael commemorations, before Young’s death on 13 November 1989.

Peter Hart’s second claimed interviewee did not participate in the ambush. He was tasked with guarding Enniskeane Bridge 15km away, while the battle raged.

Dr Morrison speculated that, ‘conceivably’, on  November 28th 1920 he may have commandeered a horse or bicycle and galloped/rode to the site of an ambush no one, apart from those already there, knew was happening.

This man, Willie Chambers, never claimed to have fought at the ambush, despite what Peter Hart thought he heard from him at the ambush site on November 19th 1989. That was one day after The Southern Star headlined on its front page, ‘Ned Young – last of the boys of Kilmichael’.

In ‘Rehabilitating Peter Hart’ and in ‘Ethnic cleansing from Bosnia to Belfast via West Cork’, I point out that Peter Hart’s historiography was heavily influenced by Ulster unionist propaganda during the 1990s. The essays are available from the Aubane Historical Society, or online at academia.edu.

It is safe to say that Tom Barry’s reputation is in rather better shape today than Peter Hart’s.

Dr Niall Meehan,

Journalism & Media Faculty,

Griffith College,

Dublin.

Bus Eireann needs to embrace 21st century

EDITORI was at Cork Airport yesterday morning having arrived in on an earlier flight.

A lady tried to purchase a ticket on the bus there into Cork City.

She was despatched by the driver into the terminal building, somewhat rudely.

I observed a similar situation in Shannon Airport a few years ago.

Bus Éireann needs to be brought into the 21st century and be able to accept payment by cash, contactless credit and smartcard universally on the network.

There should also be a direct service to the airport in Cork from West Cork three times a day to fit in with airline rotations – early morning, lunchtime or evening services.

All services should be widely and clearly advertised.

I noticed there was a 252 service in previous years from the end of June to late August, but this did not operate until the evening when many of the flights had departed.

It did serve West Cork and Kenmare, but not at times that facilitated airline schedules.

I urge continuing support for Cork Airport and encourage the restoration of the  Cork/Bristol route, along with Cork/Leeds Bradford and the expansion of flights to Germany.

Establishment of a service to a Scandinavian hub such as Copenhagen would also be most welcome, and the pursuit, once more, of a direct US route.

I wish Kenny Jacobs every success on his appointment as chief executive of the DAA.

John Hosford,

Enniskeane.

Doubling the population is not a ‘sane’ idea

EDITORCan Ireland still be saved? Throughout the past four decades, since leaving my native Dublin, I have become both perplexed and saddened by the rapid, societal changes to my beloved Éire.

On a recent home visit in September of 2018, while strolling around the city centre, my heart was breaking on the shocking demographic uptick in population. A member of our group on a first visit to Ireland expressed her disappointment on not being able to enjoy the so-called ‘craic’ within the hospitality sector, once upon a time predominated by locals.

‘Ah, sure it’ll be grand! Doesn’t everyone love us and wants to live here and we’ve also emigrated to other countries across the world?’ has turned into some kind of platonic reasoning.

Allow me to speak on behalf of millions of us Irish emigrants. We have indeed toiled and contributed immensely to our chosen Edens across the world! However, does that even the score by opening the door to the rest of the world to dwell on our beautiful, but tiny island? A country like ours can only sustain itself for so long without causing irreversible harm to basic needs such as housing, education, employment, medical care etc. Doubling the population does not seem a sane solution, in my humble opinion.

What of those 450-plus overworked/underpaid junior doctors who have already left Ireland for better futures just since January?

Also, those homesick Irish nurses, recently stood on the steps of the Sydney Opera House begging to come home to better work conditions?

What will become of the future of Ireland remains to be seen, but I hold out hope that she and her beloved citizens will figure it all out before it gets too late.

Ann Doolan-Fox,

Colorado Springs,

USA.

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