Avril de la Mémoire 19:44 Apr 04 0 comments
Notas autobiográficas de Manuel Marulanda 23:12 Mar 28 0 comments
Il significato rimosso dell'8 marzo 16:37 Mar 08 0 comments
Venezuela: Declaración ante la muerte de Hugo Chávez 07:49 Mar 06 0 comments
Sobre el MRTA, y su posible tendencia libertaria 06:14 Dec 14 3 commentsmore >>
Recent articles by Joe BlackSearch author name words: Joe Black
22 more US dates for Irish Anarchism tour 25 commentsRecent Articles about Ireland / Britain History
Irish Anarchist archive goes online Oct 21 11
1919: Η απεργία γι... Jan 24 11
Mayday in the Phoenix Park - a lot longer than 12 months
ireland / britain | history | opinion / analysis Friday April 22, 2005 22:46 by Joe Black - WSM (personal cap)
An anarchist Mayday picnic plan for Dublin
Last Mayday Dublin saw the EU summit held in the Phoenix park on the edge of the city. A protest march organised by the Dublin Grassroots Network on the park had been banned and when it went ahead anyway it was attacked with water cannon and riot police. This year Dublin anarchists are planning to have a picnic in the Park - this article written to advertise the Park looks at the radical history around it and the monuments it contains. The Jim Larkin mentioned is the radical Irish trade unionist who had been involved with the IWW in the USA.
I started this piece intending it to be little more than an ad for the Dublin Mayday anarchist picnic in the Phoenix park (details follow) with perhaps a little bit of context thrown in. But suddenly I found myself carried away by the political geography of this park which was after all originally built as a Deer park for a discarded mistress of Charles II (hence the high wall). If you know even a little of that history the park becomes a different place and suddenly the events of Mayday 2004 fall into a greater context of political protest and the control of space.
Did you spend Mayday last year trying to get into the Phoenix Park only to discover it filled with surveillance cameras, ringed with fences, draped with barbed wire, buzzed by helicopters, rigged with motion detectors and surrounded with riot police? Maybe you even got a blast from a water cannon.
Wellington was brought into the cabinet in 1815 to help suppress the wave of radical protests that had broken out at the end of the Napolonic wars. August 1819 saw the Peterloo massacre in Manchester when a mass demonstration of around 200,000 which included "bands and a series of embroidered banners carried by friendly societies and fledgling unions" was attacked by the cavalry leaving 11 dead and 500 injured. Some 10 years later when Wellington visited Manchester his carriage was stoned by Manchester workers because of his role in the Peterloo massacre. The Iron Duke - so called because he had bars put on all the windows of his house - was Irish, although he didn't like to advertise that fact.
The pen and the sword
"The cut depicts a set of scales with a quill pen in the left-side dish clearly outweighing ... representations of a repressive legal apparatus. ...The suggestion is ... a free press has been able to keep a repressive government in check.
Further to the right, however, stands the figure of ... in the process of adding his sword (i.e. military force) to the legal documents in the right-side dish of the scales. The sword has not yet landed, and it thus remains to be seen whether or not the pen will continue to outweigh the combined force of legal and military repression.
Peterloo set off a wave of protests across Britain, which culminated in the 1820 rising in Scotland. "Ordinary people from all over an increasingly industrial Scotland had been inspired to rise and overthrow the state in order to secure their rights and better working conditions." This included on April 3rd what is probably one of the first general strikes in history as "people from many different trades, but especially weaving, stopped work. They were not only refusing to work, but were in many cases preparing for war. Reports flooded in of groups of men engaged in military drills, and making weapons such as pikes from any material that could be obtained." Something to remember for all of us planning to go with Dissent to Scotland this summer to protest the G8 - it didn't start in Seattle - it won't end in Gleneagles.
A commemorative jug
Meet with rebellion
We'll leave the Wellington monument at 1.30 to head for the area behind the magazine fort. This is a nice quiet bit of the park with plenty of room for running around - if you know where it is you could head straight there but it would be nice to go across country as a group from the Wellington monument. You can also get there by bike or car if your mobility is limited.
The magazine fort was built in 1735. Jonathan Swift wrote that:
"Now's here's a proof of Irish sense
Here Irish wit is seen
When nothing's left that's worth defence,
We build a Magazine."
Part of the magazine fort
This bit of the park also has quite a radical history as attempts to storm the magazine fort formed part of the plan of many republican insurrections. It's isolated position in the park made it quite vulnerable and soon after the IRA had managed to get in and get a few lorry loads of guns out in 1939 it was abandoned. Liam Brady described that raid in his unpublished biography 'A Libertarian in the Thirties'.
Don't get too excited by the title - he is referring to have lived in the Liberties rather than to having been an anarchist in the 1930's! But there is another odd link here because Liam Brady was the grand nephew of Joe Brady, one of the Invincibles who was hanged in 1882 for his part in the Phoenix Park assassinations
It happened in the Phoenix Park all in the month of May,
Lord Cavendish and Burke came out for to see the polo play.
James Carey gave the signal and his handkerchief he waved,
Then he gave full information against our Fenian blades.
The Invincibles were a working class republican group close to the Fenians who stabbed to death the British secretary and also the under-secretary for Ireland somewhere along the road opposite the Aras. In Europe and the USA 1882 was part of the 'propaganda by deed' period which parts of the anarchist movement had entered after the suppression of the Paris commune when some 30,000 communards were executed. Propaganda by deed consisted of assassinations of members of the ruling class; in particular those associated with oppression.
Press reports at the time often referred to the Invincibles as anarchists and Engels even called the Invincibles 'Bakunists'. But there is no evidence of any links with anarchism either in Ireland or abroad. In London however the short-lived German anarchist paper Freiheit (worker) was shut down as a consequence of an article "applauding the assassination of Lord Frederick Cavendish by Fenians in Phoenix Park, Dublin, in May 1882". The Invincibles had formed of ex Fenian/IRB men in 1881 in the aftermath of the brutal suppression of the Land League and with the objective of "removing all the principal tyrants from the country".
Meet with our history
This and other references to the Invincibles has left me with a lasting curiosity about them. I've spent some time opposite the Aras looking for the possible site of the assassination. We know that as late as 1938 it was remembered and even marked out by some working class Dubliners because of another of the odd links that crop up in connection with the Park.
In 1938 James T. Farrell came to Dublin to visit Jim Larkin. He relates that while there Larkin "asked me if I wanted to see the monument to the Invincibles ... I imagined that I was going to see a statue, but this did seem passingly curious. The idea that there would be a monument commemorating the Invincibles in Dublin didn't make sense. We stopped in Phoenix Park, just opposite the Archbishop's palace. ... We got out. Jim walked along a path, looking down at the grass. I was bewildered. Jim became nervous, and he stared on the ground with some concern. Then he pointed. There it was. I saw a little hole where grass had been torn up. A cross had been scratched in the earth with a stick. I gathered that many Dubliners did not know of this act commemorating the Invincibles. Jim's boys always went out to Phoenix Park, and marked this cross in the earth. No matter how often grass was planted over it, it was torn up. The cross was marked in the earth."
I only found this account today - but I do remember when looking for the site coming across a cross scratched in the grass on the left hand side of the road. This evening perhaps I'll talk a walk up there to see if someone is really still carrying on that tradition.
I should probably also ask my mother. Probably part of my interest in the Park comes from spending a lot of summer days there as a kid visiting my grandparents. They lived in Kirwan street but as a child she had lived in Neill st which is very close to the North Circular entrance to the park and so she spent a lot of time there. History gets forgotten if we don't retell it. [ Well she didn't know about the cross but she did say that a distant relative was meant to have been a maid in the Viceregal lodge at the time and was said to have come across the scene just after the murder. That side of her family later ended up in Liverpool - and there was more to tell there. ]
Whatever the exact site the assassinations took place less that a kilometre as the crow flies from the magazine fort. Blowing up the entire fort was also supposed to be the signal for the start of the 1916 rising. If the main magazine had gone up the resulting explosion should have been heard all over Dublin. But although the fort was captured around noon on Easter Monday 1916 by volunteers Patrick Daly and Garry Holohan they were. "Unable to locate the key to the main store, the men were able only to set off a small charge with a cache of gelignite which did not make a sound to be heard all over Dublin as the rebels had planned."
You can see why the state decided it was probably better to abandon the fort, today the dry moat is full of brambles and the gates are long padlocked shut. It's a quiet spot where you can easily believe you are deep in the country side rather than a short walk from Park Gate Street.
Meet with each other
So this Mayday lets return to the Park and celebrate resistance and struggle from Chicago to Dublin. And lets be at the trade union march the day before and the Reclaim the Streets the day after.
May weekend events in Dublin
May Day Demonstration - Solidarity with Migrant Workers
This years May Day trade union demonstration will take place on Saturday April 30th meeting at 2.30 at the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square. The demo will march to Liberty Hall and is on the theme of solidarity with migrant workers. The march has been called by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions
Join The Get Up Stand Up Bloc And Help Organise The Unorganised
This Mayday weekend, the Get Up Stand Up Campaign will be organizing a block on the Trades Council March In Dublin. After the march we will be returning to the roots of Mayday and parading through the city to distribute leaflets on basic workers' rights to people working in casualised labour. Join us in building the labour movement.
Anarchist 1st of May picnic in Phoenix Park
This Mayday let us go back to the park and have ourselves a picnic free of all the state imposed hassle and madness of last year. This will be (at least) the fourth anarchist picnic held in the park. Meet up at the Wellington Monument at 1pm
Reclaim The Streets
On Monday, May 2nd, starting from the Spike on O'Connell Street at 1.30pm, Reclaim The Streets and Dissent! Ireland, along with Critical Mass will be holding a free street party to help highlight the effects that the G8 leaders have on the world, and to help people mobolise to take action and travel to this years G8 Summit at Gleneagles, Scotland on July 6th.
The anarchist origins of Mayday in Chicago - http://struggle.ws/about/mayday.html
The Peterloo massacre - http://www.24hourmuseum.org.uk/manchester/trails/TRA25555.html?trailpage=3
Original texts reporting on Peterloo
The 1820 revolt in Scotland
Liam Brady and 1939 raid on the magazine fort
Larkin and the Invincible monument
History of the park
About the park today
A kids game based in the park
copyright of images with orginal holders
Locations in the Park
Wed 19 Jun, 21:20
Irish Anarchist archive goes online 05:35 Fri 21 Oct 0 comments
James Connolly on Direct Action 17:42 Tue 04 Jul 0 comments
The 1798 rebellion and the origins of Irish republicanism May 23 1 comments
Ireland - Nationalism, socialism and partition May 08 4 comments
The Struggle for Freedom: Ireland Aug 20 8 comments
The Land War Aug 19 0 comments
Coercion and Revolt in Ireland Aug 19 0 commentsmore >>