9: ENTER LIAM LYNCH: ANNIE’S COUSIN’S 4-
YR. APPRENTICESHIP AT HER FATHER’S
HARDWARE STORE IN MITCHELSTOWN.
Ireland was a long time longing;
its story long unfolding; a populace
long-suffering; its team forever losing.
False start upon false start
–that was Ireland’s history.
But now was come a new time –possibility
and hope, born of pain and cruel irony.
Now, change seemed inevitable: it was time;
time for rising up; time to make rebellion.
Annie’s cousin, Liam Lynch (12 yrs her senior)
apprenticed (1910-14) in her father’s, Patrick,
“O’Neill’s Hardware” store.After work,man & boy
studied together at their Gaelic League classes,
Irish Language & Irish Fiddle. “Gan teanga, gan
tir.” (“No language, no country”) went the
proverb. DeValera himself had declared:
“Forced to choose between restoring Ireland’s
language or winning its freedom, I’d have to
choose the language”. Ireland was rediscovering
its rich & ancient heritage –so long suppressed.
[And Lady Kingston seems…nervous?]
GRANDMA’S STORY:“TALKING MUST BE DONE”
Grandma O’Neill had a story: “Fair Day; the
town is full of farmers and their wives –their
one day out. Inside the store, a farmer talks on
(& on) while his wife waits outside on the horse
& cart. Finally she comes in to plead: “Wouldn’t
you think of coming home?” He is indignant at her
interruption: ”Ah sure, Woman! TALKING MUST
BE DONE!” (How true! –talking must indeed be
done. How well he put it. And SO succinctly.)
Talking must be done; & was done; & never
more volubly than when the Lynches came over.
Annie described it: “A roaring fire; everyone sitting
round the table, talking; tea, always tea (some-
times a spot of Barmbrack & a glass of whiskey.
Fierce talking until all hours; fists banging on the
table. Annie recalled young Liam –so mild, yet
so intense: “Ireland expects everyone to do their
duty,” he would say, “Now (BANG) it’s our turn!
Now its our time! “(Liam was Annie’s favorite.)
10. EVENTFUL DECADE LIES AHEAD FOR
FOR YOUNG LIAM (–BEFORE HIS DEATH,
AGED 29, IN IRELAND’S CIVIL WAR.)
History, they say, is one thing after another: no
doubt Mild Liam would have been surprised
to know what it had in store for him –to be a
leader of the guerilla force that united Ireland
against a mighty Empire & freed it.Then, divided
it in a Civil War. Would be a guerilla-nemesis to
Churchill; overrule DeValera on the truce; survive
his old friend (& “new enemy”), Michael Collins.
And on the morning of April 10th, 1923, he would
rise early, say his rosary, drink a cup of tea in
the safe house, & still be dead by evening time
–aged 29. A busy decade lay ahead for Liam.]
But, now, there was a call for patriots and Liam
heard the call. He joined the insurgents, drilling
with them –trained by old British Army Irishmen.
He would take up arms & lay his life on the line
to win Ireland’s freedom. Or die in the attempt.
It is one thing to dream; another to commit:
had something tipped the balance for him?
“Yes,” said Liam. He had watched, seething,
that day on Fermoy bridge as British soldiers
led away rebel Tom Kent, barefoot, (& mother
& brother).Tom was dead within a week –the
classic “Tethered Slump” before that heavily-
pocked Firing Squad barrack wall in Cork.
The stark truth hit Liam on Fermoy Bridge:
once he took up arms against The Crown he
would be a marked man! That was the day
he committed to the fight; to facing the
terrorizing Black & Tans He would take
on the Brits and win. Or die in the attempt.
And more: he would reach back & lay the
ancient family ghosts of Aherlow. He would
redeem (-or exorcise-) the family name.
[“]FREEDOM FIGHTER” OR “TERRORIST “?
(“OURS” OR “THEIRS”?) OUR BASIC HUMAN
URGE: ITS NOT SEX, ITS SELF-EXCULPATION
Pundits may argue: who is a “freedom fighter”
& who a “terrorist”? But people agree:“It’s Our
Freedom Fighter & Their Terrorist!” Liam Lynch
or The Black&Tans?: whose side are you on?
[Or –try “George Washington or George III?]
“Who started it?” draws our defensive hedge —
“Counting from when?” If forced, we will point
blame-fingers all the way back (past all history)
to the “Garden of Eden” –where we chose to
locate that cast of characters, & set the
confused opening scene of Our Narrative.
Chapter One: The Blaming.
Look,they’re all here.That Who’s-On-First Lineup.
Our First Perps.The Usual Suspects of Genesis:
Adam;Eve;Snake;Apple; A Guy with a Beard.
Can we finally agree?: Self-Exculpation, not Sex,
is our Primal Human Urge! Our reflex is: The
Serpent beguiled me. Not my fault. Look what you
made me do. Bad Puppet! Partially responsible.
Mistakes were made. Enough to go round.
11.THE TWO VERSIONS OF IRISH HISTORY, “THE
ANNALS OF OLD IRELAND” & “HISTORY-WRITTEN-
BY-THE-WINNERS” BOTH TRY TO PERSUADE LIAM…
Behind the fierce resolve of men like Liam lay
much hard history –two different histories, in
fact, competing for the truth. Different versions,
premises. Two very different narratives.
The first voice, “The Annals of Old Ireland” is
Ireland’s own version of its glorious past, from
early myth & legend on. The second voice is
Ireland’s “History Written by The Winners” –
the history written by the invaders who drove the
Irish –the Lynches & the rest– from their lands.
These “Winners” were NOT those earlier “More-
Irish-than-the-Irish-Themselves” folks, the long
-assimilated Viking-Norman “visitors” [–come
over for a spot of marauding; stop to admire
the view; then stay on for tea & citizenship.]
Henry VIII’s initial “reconquest” blossomed under
the Virgin Rose –Elizabeth the First, herself!
The Empire formula: Subjugate; Dominate; Never
Never Assimilate! It’s first “acquisition” –Ireland—
would last 300 years.[The independence & the
freedom that Liam & the rest now fought for, was
lost long ago –in the days of Henry & Elizabeth.]
Listen! Two clamoring voices now compete to tell
Liam their version of Ireland’s story: first, “Annals
of Ireland” –in mellifluous tones– proclaims the
Venerable History of The Lynch Family in their
Ancestral Lands in the Glen of Aherlow: “IN THE
BEGINNING…in Aherlow’s verdant paradise…
where peace came dropping slow, et cetera…
From earliest times, Lynches farmed these lands
–proud of their kings, brehons, bishops, bards &
poets –Just & Holy & Wise. And All Hallowed!”
[END OF EXCERPT 3]