ABBEYFEALE HERITAGE TRAIL 5 – Pat McAuliffe Stucco Artist

PAT Mc AULIFFE – Stucco Artist
1846 – 1921

A Heritage Plaque identifies the Building – traditionally known as W.D. O’Connor’s on Main Street which is deemed to be the finest example of work done by Stucco and Architectural Artist Pat McAuliffe. Not alone is it considered the most elaborate Celtic design of his lifetime but includes both Latin and Anglo-Saxon phrases to attract enquiring minds.

‘VITA BREVIS ARS LONGA’ (Life is short, Art is long) appears, at the top of the corner overlooking Main Street. Underneath is the Scrolled Text;
‘Hal, wes, bu folde, fira, Modor / beo, bu, grovende, on, Godes / fodre, grefylled, firum, to, nytte’ (‘Hail to thee, Earth, Mother of men / be fruitful in God’s embrace / filled with food for the use of men) which is an Anglo-Saxon agricultural fertility charm – perfect for a Market Town like Abbeyfeale.

Pat McAuliffe lived all his life in Listowel in Co Kerry. Without any formal training in art or design, he used his skills as a roofer and a plasterer to begin experimenting in the casting and moulding of concrete. Self-taught, he was considered a Master of his trade and decorated the facades of over 50 homes and businesses. Pat married Catherine Gleeson, had eight children and died in Listowel in 1921

Research & Design Maurice O’Connell 2017


via ABBEYFEALE HERITAGE TRAIL 5 – Pat McAuliffe Stucco Artist


#OTD in 1917 – Louisa Nolan is honoured with the medal for heroism during Easter Week 1916, by King George.

According to the Sinn Féin Rebellion handbook (pg. 259), she tended to ‘wounded officers and men’ during the battle on Mount Street Bridge. ‘Miss Nolan went calmly through a hail of bullets and carried water and other comforts to the wounded men,’ the publication notes. Her story made it across the Atlantic, where a Chicago newspaper dubbed her ‘Ireland’s Bravest Colleen’ on 20 March. She was the daughter of ex-Head Constable Nolan of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who resided at Ringsend.’ As a teenager she was a chorus girl at the Gaiety Theatre.
By Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

via #OTD in 1917 – Louisa Nolan is honoured with the medal for heroism during Easter Week 1916, by King George.

#OTD in 1914 – Cumann na mBan, Irish women’s Republican movement, was founded.

Ní saoirse go saoirse na mban.

Over 100 women gathered in Dublin to discuss the role of women in the lead-up to revolution. The meeting, at Wynn’s Hotel, was presided over by Agnes O’Farrelly.

The first provisional committee of Cumann na mBan included Agnes MacNeill, Nancy O’Rahilly, Mary Colum, Jenny Wyse Power, Louise Gavan Duffy and Elizabeth Bloxham.

They adopted a constitution which stated their aims were:

– To Advance the cause of Irish liberty
– To organise Irish women in the furtherance of that objective
– To assist in arming and equipping a body of Irish men for the defence of Ireland
– To form a fund for these purposes to be called the ‘Defence of Ireland Fund’.

All had one aim:

‘To establish and maintain a Republic by every means in their power against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’

Other activities they were to engage in training for included first aid, drill and signalling, rifle practice.

The third and fourth objectives caused immediate controversy, particularly in the pages of the suffrage newspaper the Irish Citizen, where members of Cumann na mBan were referred to as ‘slave women’.

There were accusations from feminists that the Cumann na mBan women were ‘handmaidens’ to the Irish Volunteers, which was seen as a retrograde step for the women who had been campaigning for female emancipation. In their defence, Mary Colum said that Cumann na mBan ‘decided to do any national work that came within the scope of our aims’. ‘We would collect money or arms, we would learn ambulance work, learn how to make haversacks and bandolier… we would practise the use of the rifle, we would make speeches, we would do everything that came in our way—for we are not the auxiliaries or the handmaidens or the camp followers of the Volunteers—we are their allies.’

On the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Cumann na mBan stated that urging any Irish Volunteers to enlist in the British army was ‘not consistent with the work we have set ourselves to do’. Like the Volunteers, Cumann na mBan split on this issue, with many women backing John Redmond and the National Volunteers.

However, while numbers may have declined post-split, those women who remained were committed to the cause of Irish freedom and dedicated to growing the organisation. They rendered service as couriers (known as ‘basket girls’ or ‘pram women’) delivering dispatches to IRA commanders throughout Ireland. They organised céilís, cultural productions, first aid classes, rifle training and signalling. They had participated in the Howth gun running, having helped raise money for the guns that were smuggled in. Almost all of the women (other than those in the Irish Citizen Army) who participated in the Rising were members of Cumann na mBan.

They were active in all the outposts, except for Boland’s Mill. At the Four Courts they helped to organise the evacuation of buildings at the time of surrender and to destroy incriminating papers. This was exceptional; more typical was the General Post Office (GPO), where Pearse insisted that most of them leave at noon on Friday, 28 April. The building was then coming under sustained shell and machine-gun fire, and heavy casualties were anticipated. The following day the leaders at the GPO decided to negotiate surrender. Pearse asked Cumann na mBan member Elizabeth O’Farrell to act as a go-between. Under British military supervision she brought Pearse’s surrender order to the rebel units still fighting in Dublin. In the Marrowbone Lane Distillery outpost, Rose McNamara, leading the Cumann na mBan women there, presented the surrender of herself and 21 other women. The women of the garrison could have evaded arrest but they marched down four deep in uniform along with the men. Over 70 women, including many of the leading figures in Cumann na mBan, were arrested after the insurrection, and many of the women who had been captured fighting were imprisoned in Kilmainham; all but 12 had been released by 8 May 1916.

In 1916 there were three branches in Dublin: central, with headquarters at 25 Parnell Square; Inghinidhe na nÉireann, based at 6 Harcourt Street; and Columcill in Blackhall Place. In contrast with other organisations, the Cumann na mBan preserved its position after the Rising and it is probably because of its existence that the struggle for independence continued. The commitment of women before, during and after the Rising helped to bring the Irish nation to support the separatist movement. The widows of those executed in Kilmainham Gaol after the Rising did more to draw attention to the independence movement than any other group. The widows and female relatives of the executed and captives filled the voids in leadership and ensured that Irish independence did not die with their loved ones.

At its 1918 convention, the members reaffirmed their role in fighting for an Irish Republic, but also insisted that they would ‘follow the policy of the Republican Proclamation by seeing that women take up their proper position in the life of the nation’ – that is, to be full and equal citizens of the new republic.

During the War of Independence, Cumann na mBan played vital and front-line roles against the forces of the British state. They participated in gun running, message carrying and running safe houses. They faced constant raids on their homes by the Black and Tans, and were often violently mistreated.

Lil Conlon, in her memoir, stated that in April—September of 1921, ‘Attention had been focused on the Women very much at this time by the Authorities… they realised fully that Women were playing a major part in the Campaign. The going was tough on the female sex, they were unable to ‘go on the run’, so were constantly subjected to having their homes raided and precious possessions destroyed. To intensify the reign of terror, swoops were made in the night, entries forced into their homes, and the women’s hair cut off in a brutal fashion as well as suffering other indignities and insults.

With members such as Mary and Muriel MacSwiney, Kathleen Clarke, Nora Connolly (daughter of James Connolly), Mabel Fitzgerald (mother of Garrett Fitzgerald) and Countess Markievicz, Cumann na mBan reflected nationalist Ireland and played a crucial role in the politics of the time. Members were invaluable in gathering intelligence, transporting arms, nursing wounded men, providing safe houses, and organising support for IRA men in prison. They also boosted attendance at election rallies, funerals and protest marches. In 1922 the organisation overwhelmingly rejected the Treaty. This resulted in a substantial split and the formation of Cumann na Saoirse (Free State Cumann na mBan) from the minority who were in favour of the Treaty.

The Free State Government’s awareness of Cumann na mBan’s assistance to the IRA after the 1916 Rising resulted in large-scale imprisonment of republican women during the Civil War. But Cumann na mBan had placed equality for women on the political agenda and demonstrated women could be as politically active and capable as men.

The censure of republicans by the Roman Catholic Church did not affect the Roman Catholic member’s commitment to the church of their birth. Their Christian values remained with them to the end.

via #OTD in 1914 – Cumann na mBan, Irish women’s Republican movement, was founded.

‘The Faugh’ Dancehall

The Limerick Dance Halls Project

One dancehall the comes up time and again is the Faughabaille Hall on the Ballysimon Road. The Faugh still stands today, nestled on the right side of the road as you come out the Ballysimon Road from town between two local publican houses – O’Shea’s and Morrison’s Bar & Lounge.

The Faugh was originally built in the 1926 around 50 meters away from where the current building stands today. Its full name, the Faughabaille Hall, draws its name from the Irish phrase Faugh an Beallach, meaning ‘Clear The Way’. At the time there was a large population of young people and not a lot to keep them occupied. The first Faugh was built by young men from the area as a place for people from the Ballysimon/Monaleen community to gather. It was built around the local hurling team called The Faughs*. In that sense it was quite ahead of…

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#OTD in 1921 – Belfast’s Bloody Sunday.

via #OTD in 1921 – Belfast’s Bloody Sunday.

Bloody Sunday or Belfast’s Bloody Sunday was a day of violence in Belfast on 10 July 1921, during the Irish War of Independence. In retaliation for an IRA ambush of a police raiding party, Protestant loyalists attacked Catholic enclaves, burning homes and businesses. This sparked gun battles between republican and loyalist paramilitaries, and street fighting between Catholics and Protestants. There was also shooting between republicans and police, and it is claimed that some police patrols fired indiscriminately at Catholic civilians. Seventeen people were killed on 10 July, and a further eleven were killed or fatally wounded over the following week. At least 100 people were injured. About 200 houses were badly damaged or destroyed, leaving 1,000 people homeless. The violence took place just before a truce came into effect, which ended the war in most of Ireland.
Belfast saw almost 500 people die in political violence from 1920–22. Violence in the city broke out in the summer of 1920, when — in response to the IRA shooting dead RIC Detective Oswald Swanzy after Sunday services outside a Protestant church in nearby Lisburn — 7,000 Catholics and some Protestant trade unionists—were driven from their jobs in the Belfast shipyards and more than 50 people were killed in rioting between Catholics and Protestants.
However, violence in Belfast waned until the following summer of 1921. At the time, Irish republican and British authorities were negotiating a Truce to end the war, but fighting flared up in Belfast. On 10 June, an IRA gunman, Jack Donaghy, ambushed three RIC constables on the Falls Road, fatally wounding one, Thomas Conlon, a Roman Catholic from Co Roscommon, who, ironically, was viewed as “sympathetic” to the local nationalists. Over the following three days, at least 14 people lost their lives and 14 wounded in fighting in the city, including three Catholics who were taken from their homes and killed by uniformed police.
Low-level attacks continued in the city over the next month until another major outbreak of violence that led to “Bloody Sunday”. On 8 July, the RIC attempted to carry out searches in the mainly Catholic and republican enclave around Union and Stanhope streets. However, they were confronted by about 15 IRA volunteers in an hour-long firefight.
On 9 July a truce to suspend the war was agreed in Dublin between representatives of the Irish Republic and the British government, to come into effect at noon on 11 July. Many Protestants/Unionists condemned the truce as a ‘sell-out’ to republicans.
On the night of 9/10 July, hours after the truce was announced, the RIC attempted to launch a raid in the Lower Falls district of west Belfast. Scouts alerted the IRA of the raid by blowing whistles, banging bin lids and flashing a red light. On Raglan Street, a unit of about 14 IRA volunteers ambushed an armoured police truck, killing one officer and wounding at least two others.
This sparked an outbreak of ferocious fighting between Catholics and Protestants in west Belfast the following day, Sunday 10 July, in which 16 civilians (11 Catholics and 5 Protestants) lost their lives and between 161 and 200 houses were destroyed. Of the houses destroyed, 150 were owned by Catholics. Most of the dead were civilians and at least four of the Catholic victims were ex-WWI servicemen.
Protestants, “fearful of absorption into a Green, Catholic Ireland and blindly angered by the presence of heresy and treason in their midst, struck at the Catholic community” while “vengeful Catholics struck back with counter-terror”. Gun battles raged all day along the sectarian ‘boundary’ between the Catholic Falls and Protestant Shankill districts and rival gunmen used rifles, machine guns and hand grenades in the clashes. Gunmen were seen firing from windows, rooftops and street corners. A “loyalist mob, several thousand strong” attempted to storm the Falls district, carrying petrol and other flammable materials.
A tram travelling from the Falls into the city centre was struck by snipers’ bullets, and the service had to be suspended. The Irish News reported that the Falls district was “in a state of siege”. The New York Times characterised the clashes as “a three-fold fight between Sinn Féin and Unionist snipers and Crown forces”. It added, “In the extent of material damage to property, Sunday’s rioting can be compared to the Dublin Rising in 1916”.
Catholics and republicans claimed that police—mostly from the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC)—drove through Catholic enclaves in armoured cars firing indiscriminately at houses and bystanders. A 13-year-old Catholic girl was shot dead by USC officers firing from an armoured car. The inquest into her death concluded that they had “deliberately” shot the girl and added: “In the interests of peace, Special Constabulary should not be allowed into localities of people of opposite denominations”. William Baxter (a 12-year-old Protestant boy) and Ernest Park (a 16-year-old) were shot dead by nationalist snipers. The police returned to their barracks late on Sunday night, allegedly after a ceasefire had been agreed by telephone between a senior RIC officer and the commander of the IRA’s Belfast Brigade, Roger McCorley.
The truce was due to come into effect at midday on Monday 11 July, but violence resumed that morning. Three people were shot dead that day, including an IRA volunteer who was shot minutes before midday. In the north the official truce did not end the fighting. IRA members later recalled, “The Truce was not observed by either side in the north”, while McCorley said the truce in Belfast “lasted six hours only”. While the IRA was involved in the violence, it did not control the actions of the Catholic community. An IRA officer reported that “the Catholic mob is almost beyond control”. Tuesday 12 July saw the Orange Order’s yearly Twelfth marches pass off peacefully and there were no serious disturbances in the city. However, sporadic violence resumed on Wednesday, and by the end of the week 28 people in all had been killed or fatally wounded in Belfast.
At the time the day was referred to as “Belfast’s Bloody Sunday”. However the title of “Bloody Sunday”, is now more commonly given in Ireland to events in Dublin in November 1920 or Derry in January 1972.
A strict curfew was enforced in Belfast after the violence, to try to ensure the Orange Order’s 12 July marches passed off peacefully. Directly after the violence, on 11 July, the Commandant of the IRA’s 2nd Northern Division, Eoin O’Duffy, was sent to Belfast by the organization’s leadership in Dublin to liaise with the British authorities there and try to maintain the truce. He said, “I found the city in a veritable state of war. The peal of rifles could be heard on all sides, frenzied mobs at every street corner, terror-stricken people rushing for their lives, and ambulances carrying the dead and dying to hospitals.”
O’Duffy set up headquarters in St Mary’s Hall in Belfast city centre and made contact with British forces and the press. With the tacit consent of the RIC, he organized IRA patrols to try to restore order in Catholic areas and announced that IRA action would cease except in self-defence. Both Protestants and Catholics saw the truce as a victory for republicans. Protestant unionists “were particularly appalled by the sight of policemen and soldiers meeting IRA officers on a semi-official basis”. However, in Belfast this temporary ceasefire only lasted until the end of August.
The violence of the period in Belfast was cyclical, and the events of July 1921 were followed by a lull until a three-day period starting on 29 August, when another 20 lives were lost in the west and north of the city. The conflict in Belfast between the IRA and Crown forces and between Catholics and Protestants continued until the following summer, when the northern IRA was left isolated by the outbreak of the Irish Civil War in the south and weakened by the rigorous enforcement of internment in Northern Ireland.