150 years ago today, the Fenian Rising commenced.
Here’s an interview with the late historian Shane Kenna

Dr Kenna, who recently  died aged 33, from stomach cancer, was one of the foremost authorities on the Fenian movement.

Here he talks about John Devoy whose activities as an Irish Revolutionary spanned the Fenian and 1916 Risings. Devoy even met Eamonn De Valera, 1st President of the Irish Republic in New York!


Seems the right time to remind you all of our Phoenix Rising Trilogy on Fenianism




Remembrance Sunday – Trendspotting for Unionist Ladies!

A special post for all Unionist Ladies.

Yes indeed. I’m addressing  you and

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you two!

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I understand that to your great chagrin, the  “Poppy Kermesse” is over for another year.

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You will no longer  be able to phone in to object to  somebody on TV, the radio or playing football without  a Poppy.

Until this time next year you will no longer be able to complain, softly, softly,  sotto voce like all true, blue Ladies  about Poppy-less shoppers, shop assistants, bus drivers and so on.

Nothing but ingrates!

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I know you were  aghast to see posters like this


the horror

or this

But enough of politics. Today we are going to focus on much more serious issues.

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Poppy Fashion!

Have you Unionist Ladies spotted the latest trend?

One poppy is not enough!

Do you all   realise that fashion-wise you’re a  nobody unless you wear at least three Poppies ?

Preferably with a silver or silver-gilt brooch pinned underneath them


Better 5. Like HM. Lest we forget. Though forgetting is more than likely at her age.

Maybe her 5 poppies were less a fashion statement and more a pro memoria


Urgent Message to all Unionist ladies:

Fashion costs, Ladies! One poppy is not enough!

You have to  triple or quintuple your donations to the British Legion.

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Coming back to our home turf. Can I use the word “turf”  in the presence of  you Unionist Ladies?

Or is it too Irishy?

Maybe something like “Coming back to our home

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peat briquettes is better?


 The burning question is

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Will our Arlene update her look next year?

It looks as if she’s only got half a poppy today and that hat is so, so 1920s.

A half- upturned brim doesn’t bring it into the late 2010s.

But she’s taken one step towards  full fashion status!.

She’s got a silver brooch pinned on underneath her half-Poppy!

PS Why’s our Arlene wearing a line of ribbons? Where did she earn those medals? What did she do? When was she on Active Service?

NB  1 poppy is still enough for Unionist gentlemen (See Duke of Edinburgh above).

They put their hands in other people’s pockets, not their own!



The Provisional IRA and Informers – The Way We Were

Tonight’s Saturday Night Film is a Hardtalk interview with Kieran Conway, self-confessed IRA volunteer and intelligence officer, now a criminal defence lawyer in Dublin.
You may remember we mentioned Mr Conway  and his extraordinary story when his memoirs as a Volunteer  “Southside Provisional” were published  a couple of years ago

kieran conway


Compare and contrast Mr Conway’s dignity   and  demeanour with Derry man, RUC Informant  Raymond Gilmour/Gilmore (allegedly formerly known as Liam Han . . . .)


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Andrew Boyd, Belfastman, writer and political commentator

warned about the fate of informers in 1984:

the RUC’s promise of a happy and prosperous new life abroad is a deceit.

Who was Raymond Gilmour?

Born in the Creggan area of Derry in 1959, Gilmour became an RUC Special Branch informer when he was 17 and  joined  the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in 1976 as a police agent.

When under arrest for burglary, he told the RUC that his mother had a history of mental illness.

His father was a boozer.

Two of his brothers, he said, “beat up my sisters and me and tried to make us drink their piss“.

One also “forced me to keep my school dinner and bring it home after school so he could eat it”.

Comment: Normal, anyone? 

He was paid £200 a week for 3 years with bonuses for arrests or weapon finds bringing his pay up to £600 a week.

Comment: A tidy sum in the 1970-80s.

He then moved to the IRA in 1980, on the grounds that he didn’t think INLA cut the mustard – or maybe he was suspected of being an informer.


His cover was blown two years later when police used information supplied by him to recover a machine gun. He was spirited out one night from his home in Creggan around 1982 when it became clear that he had become a dedicated sort of agent for the British state within the ranks of the Republican Movement in Derry. He was the only witness to gave evidence against 31 (or 35) men and women in a Supergrass trial in 1984. The case collapsed when the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Lowry,


said his evidence was “unworthy of belief“.

He was “a selfish and self-regarding man to whose lips a lie invariably comes more naturally than the truth“.

But those 35 innocent people spent up to 3 years  in jail before they were exonerated   – and they don’t get the time back.

Despite this little set-back, over 7 years Gilmour said he had inflicted serious damage on the IRA’s Derry Brigade in the late 1970s and 80s, claiming he had “brought them to their knees”.


“We never expected it from Raymond Gilmour. I had no suspicions of him. Never, ever.’  said IRA Volunteer McMonagle who, with half a dozen other IRA suspects, headed across the border to escape the supergrass trial.


Gilmour left Ireland with his wife and 2 children, who knew nothing about his activities. He was given a new identity by MI5, settled in England When he told his wife he was working for the British he saw “the hatred in her eyes”.

She left him and eventually petitioned for their marriage to be annulled and his children’s names changed.

His children disowned him.
He married twice again in England but both relationships broke down.


Before his death Gilmour claimed he has been cut off from his handlers and the state that recruited him, that he was virtually broke, in ill-health and isolated.

He ended up living on £80 disability allowance a week.
He lived his life expecting a bullet in the head “The IRA doesn’t forgive and doesn’t forget

He never regretted becoming an informer.
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  “The informer is doomed to live in a limbo from which there is no exit”

Until death – and maybe not even then

It is not known whether Gilmour  will be buried under his real name, or the pseudonym under which he has lived in Britain since he fled his native Derry over 30 years ago.

He will most probably have  a pauper’s funeral.


Andrew Boyd: The Informers, Mercier Press 1984