Peadar Kearney

Quotations


Life
1883-1942 [Peadar Ó Cearnaigh; Kearney]; b. 12 Dec. 1883, at 68 Lwr. Dorset St., Dublin, son of John and Kate Kearney, his father’s family originating in Co. Louth; ed. Model School, Schoolhouse Lane, and St. Joseph’s Christian Brothers School, Marino [Fairview]; joined the Gaelice League, 1901; sworn into Irish Republican Brotherhood, 1903; taught Irish to Sean O’Casey; worked for the Fay brothers at the National Theatre, and moved with them the Mechanics’ Hall (later the Abbey Th.); assisted Sean Barlow in props department and took small parts;
 
he wrote “The Soldier’s Song”, written in 1907 and printed in Irish Freedom, ed. Bulmer Hobson (1912); put to music by his friend Patrick Heeney, and adopted by the Irish Volunteers; published with the music, 1916; later chosen as the Irish national anthem as “Amhrán na bhFiann” and variously arranged for bands; he was property and stage manager with the Abbey Theatre, 1911-1916; participated in Howth Gun-running, and fought in the 1916 Rising at Jacob’s Factory, having returned from tour in Liverpool against St. John Ervine’s strenuous objections; eluded capture after the Rising but was later arrested at home in Summerhill, Dublin, 1920, and held in Collinstown, before being transferred for internment at Ballykinlar, Co Down, 1920 [Hut 28, Co. B, Camp 1], in company with Martin Walton and others - afterwards of Walton’s Music, Frederick St.; he sided with Michael Collins and the Treaty;
 
worked as Censor in Portlaoise Prison, 1922-23; grew disillusioned with the Free State; returned to his trade as a house-painter after the Civil War; he issued new stanza for “The Soldier’s Song” protesting against ‘British-planned partition of Ulster’ in 1937, making belligerent reference to ‘Clann London’ and ‘pirates’; unpaid for any part of the national anthem; d. 24 Nov. 1942, at home, Inchicore, Nov. 1942; he is buried in old Drumcondra Graveyard - to the rere of The Cat and Cage public house; shares a memorial stone with Thomas Aghas (d.1917) and Piarais Beaslaí (d.1965); in Glasnevin [Republican plot; var. bur. in Glasnevin]; Brendan Behan was a nephew, being the son of his sis. Kathleen; there is a life by Seamus de Burca (1957) incorporating some of his papers and narratising his verbal memoirs; survived by his sons Pearse and Con. DIB DIW DIL DIH OCIL

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Works
  • The Soldier’s Song and Other Poems / by Peadar Kearney with introduction and music [1928];
  • The Soldier’s Song: The Story of Ó Cearnaigh (Dublin: P. J. Bourke 1957), 255pp. [contains essays by Kearney as chaps. 2, 6, 8, & 10; see details]
  • My Dear Eve ... Letters from Ballykinlar Internment Camp, 1921 (P. J. Bourke, 1975), 45pp. [var., intro. Seamus de Burca, Dublin: Litho Press 1976, 46pp.; Cathach 1996/97.]
Various ballads [gen. issued by Dublin: Walton's Piano & Musical Instrument Galleries]
  • with Joseph M. Crofts, Ave Maria: Mother Most Beautiful [1951];
  • Down by the Glenside, arr. by P. J. Ryan. [1958];
  • Down by the Liffey Side: Humourous Dublin Ballad [1931];
  • Johnny, words and music by O’Cearnaigh, arr. by P. J. Ryan [c1949; 1958?];
  • Michael Dwyer and his mountain men, words by O’Cearnaigh, music by Heeney [sic] [1958?];
  • Mickey Hickey: Humorous Ballad [1949];
  • Nell Flaherty’s drake : Humorous Ballad [1931, 1949];
  • South Down Militia: Humorous Ballad [1931, 1949]

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Bibliographical details

Seamus de Burca, The Soldier’s Song: The Story of Ó Cearnaigh (Dublin: P. J. Bourke 1957), 255pp., ill. [incls. articles by Peadar Ó Cearnaigh: “The Abbey Theatre”; (as Chap. 2, pp.40-49); “Abbey on Tour 1911”; (as Chap. 6, pp.63-68); “The Irish Republican Brotherhood (incomplete)”; (as Chap. 8, pp.74-104); “Personal Narrative of Easter Week”; (as Chap. 10, pp.113-29); “Songs and Poems by Peadar O’Cearnaigh - A Selection”, pp.233-46.

Photos incl. photo port., by Sean Barlow [as front.]; Cover Music Sheet - The Soldier’s Song; Jemmy Hope’s Shop - The Coombe [photo by de Burca]; Robert Emmet’s Depot - Patrick St. [photo by de Burca]; John and Kate Kearney; Patrick Heeney; Abbey Players in Connemara - 1910 [photo by Sean Barlow]; Eva; Houses in Mecklenberg Street [photo by de Burca]; Sean Treacy [port. in oils by Sean Keating, RHA; photo by James Gilligan]; Martin A. Walton -1920; The Ballykinlar Band - 1921 ; Phil Shanahan’s Pub Today [photo by de Burca]; Peadar Ó Cearnaigh [drawing by Sean O’Sullivan, RHA]

Contents
 
Chapter One [13]
Chapter Two: The Abbey Theatre - by Peadar Ó Cearnaigh [see attached] [34]
Chapter Three [40]
Chapter Four [50]
Chapter Five [57]
Chapter Six: Abbey on Tour 1911 By Peadar Ó Cearnaigh [63]
Chapter Seven: Interlude [69]
Chapter Eight: The Irish Republican Brotherhood - by Peadar Ó Cearnaigh (Incomplete) [see attached] [74]
Chapter Nine: 1916 [105]
Chapter Ten: Personal Narrative of Easter Week - By Peadar Ó Cearnaigh [113]
Chapter Eleven:
      Afterwards
      The Political Background
[130]
[141]
Chapter Twelve: Baltinglass. [145]
Chapter Thirteen: Action [see attached] [151]
Chapter Fourteen : Ballykinlar [167]
Chapter Fifteen
[180]
Chapter Sixteen [197]
Chapter Seventeen [206]
Chapter Eighteen: Poet’s Den [212]
   
Songs and Poems by Peadar Ó Cearnaigh [as listed infra]. [233]

APPENDIX: American Letters

[247]
 
“Songs and Poems by Peadar O’Cearnaigh - A Selection”, in Seamus de Burca, The Soldier’s Song: The Story of Peadar Kearney (Dublin: P. J. Bourke 1957), 233-46pp. [“Slan Libh”; “Down by the Glenside”; “The Devil’s Crow”; “The Three-coloured Ribbon”; “Whack Fo; the Diddle”; “A Row in a Town”; “Down in a Village”; “Sean Tracy”; “Arise - Ballykinlar March”; “Extra Verse to The Solider’s Song” (sic for Soldier)].

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Editions of The Soldier’s Song [usu. as National Anthem] issued by the Irish Stationary Office
  • Irish National Anthem: The Soldier’s Song [for] flute band [1930];
  • Irish National Anthem: The Soldier’s Song [for] orchestral setting [1930] (31 parts);
  • Irish National Anthem: The Soldier’s Song / arranged for fife and drum bands [1930];
  • The soldier’s song, words by Ó Cearnaigh, music by Pádraig Ó hAonaigh, arranged by Cathal Mac Dubhghaill [1930];
  • Irish National Anthem: Soldier’s Song, arranged for brass and reed bands [music by Kearney and Patrick Heaney] [1935?] (abbrev. version);
  • Amhran náisiúnta na hÉireann, an Chúirtéis don Uachtarán agus an Chúirtéis don Taoiseach / Irish National Anthem, the Presidential Salute and the Taoiseach’s Salute [193-?];
  • Amhrán na bhFiann: The Soldier’s Song / music by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heaney; words by Peadar Kearney; arranged for voice & piano by John Gibson (1983).
Source: COPAC online; accessed 19.05.2011.

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Criticism
Seamus de Burca, The Soldier’s Song: The Story of Ó Cearnaigh (Dublin: P. J. Bourke 1957), 255pp. [boards and dust-jacket [with Peadar Kearney on d.j.]. The Author uses the anglicised form or the Irish form Ó Cearnaigh “at [his] own discretion”: p.12 - also occas. O’Cearnaigh. [See short extract infra, and longer extract attached.]

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Commentary

Daniel Corkery
The Hounds of Banba (1920): ‘Then a crowd of students ... very excited and fierce-looking, and carrying a great tricolour, its springtime colours, when caught and bellied in a gust of wind, would shine with unexpected brightness in the odd gleams of the electric lamps. They were chanting Peter Kearney’s wild ballad: “No more our ancient sireland / Shall shelter the despot or the slave”; and the dash of youth was in their limbs.’ (“Seamus - I”, p.84.) In the ensuing story, “Seumas - II”, the narrator - now Monica O’Sullivan rather than the author - writes: ‘We made no mourning that night: we roared defiance instead, and found relief in the “Soldier’s Song” - the Dublin carpenter’s song that had been sung in the Post Office in Dublin a circle of fire. We were conscious that a new [91] spirit of self-reliance and discipline and faith had come into Irish life.’ (pp.91-92.)

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Seamus de Burca, The Soldier’s Song: The Story of Ó Cearnaigh (Dublin: P. J. Bourke 1957): ‘Peadar was in Liverpool when he got word that the Insurrection was imminent. The Abbey Company was opening in the Royal Court Theatre with John Ferguson, by St. John Ervine, who was managing the tour. John Ferguson in [for is] a one-setting play, and is not difficult as regards properties. Peadar had all the props on the side ready for the opening performance. He informed Ervine that he must leave at once for Dublin and asked him for some money. / It must be confessed that Peadars departure was an embarrassment to Ervine but not seriously so, and it definitely did not effect the efficiency of the production. Either way, Peadar Kearney was certainly not going to miss the Rising after doing one man’s part in helping to bring it about. / Peadar explained as well as he could the urgency of his departure. Ervine was not sympathetic. / “You cannot let down the Company,” he said. “But I must go,” Peadar insisted. / “You can’t return to Dublin until the rest of the Company are going,” Ervine snapped, finally, dismissing him. But Peadar persisted and Ervine got angry. “You are a married man, Kearney,” he said. “If you let down the Company now you wont get a job in any theatre in Dublin. ... you’ll starve.” / Peadar had admitted later that during his conversation with Ervine he had begun to falter in his decision to leave in such haste but when Ervine threatened him with starvation his resolution was fixed. / One of the Liverpool stage hands standing by had overheard the quarrel: “I heard that, Kirney,” the man said. “I don’t like that man’s attitude. You say the word [106] and Ill call a strike ... the curtain don’t [sic] go up.” / Peadar was grateful but could not see his way to agree. [...] [Cont.]

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Seamus de Burca (The Soldier’s Song: The Story of Ó Cearnaigh, 1957) - cont. After the Insurrection Peadar received arrears of wages from the Abbey Theatre, although he never afterwards worked there. Ervine was not popular with the Company generally. Without the knowledge of the directors, he tried to force the actors to sign a new contract. When some of them went on strike, the directors were summoned. The result was that many of the Company left, including Sidney Morgan, Arthur Sinclair and Joe ORourke. And at the same time Ervine disapeared [sic] from the Abbey and from the Dublin scene. / Six members of the Abbey staff took part in the 1916 Insurrection. They were: Arthur Shields (a brother of Barry Fitzgerald), Sean Connolly, Barney Murphy, Peadar Kearney, Nellie Bushell and Wire Nic Shibhlaigh. / General Maxwell, the British Commander-in-Chief, graced the National Theatre, with his presence while Dublin was still smouldering in ruins after the Rising and the people were still burning with indignation and shame at the execution of the leaders.(For longer extracts, see attached.)

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Cheryl Herr, ed., For The Land She Loved (1991) notes: Kearney, who worked with both the Abbey and Queen’s and wrote the Irish national anthem, stood his ground in an embattled factory on Easter 1916, was a brother-in-law of P. J. Bourke (p.57). Bourke begins the play [For The Land She Loved] with a scene that echoes parts of Kearney’s 1907 Wolfe Tone (idem). Gathered at Matt McGrath’s forge in Ballynahinch ... (op. cit., p.57). Further, When Wexford Rose, by P. J. Bourke, manuscript A, is in the hand of Peadar Kearney, ca. 1907. A twelve-part score is housed in Irish Theatre Archive, Dublin. Herr makes use of a manuscript play, unperformed, about Wolfe Tone, by Peadar Kearney (p. 69). The MS, owned by Seamus de Burca was written while Kearney was living with P. J. Bourke and family at 10 Lr. Dominick St., Dublin. (idem.).

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Quotations

                        “The Soldier’s Song”, set to music by Patrick Heeney

We’ll sing a song, a soldier’s song,
With cheering, rousing chorus
As round our blazing fires we throng,
The starry heavens o’er us;
Impatient for the coming fight,
And as we wait the morning’s light
Here in the silence of the night
We’ll chant a soldier’s song.

Soldiers are we, whose lives are pledged
       to Ireland,
Some have come from a land beyond the
       wave,
Sworn to be free, no more our ancient
       sireland
Shall shelter the despot or the slave;
To-night we man the bearna baoghail
In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal;
’Mid cannon’s roar and rifle’s peal

We’ll chant a soldier’s song.

In valley green on towering crag
Our fathers fought before us,
And conquered ’neath the same old flag
That’s proudly floating o’er us;
We’re children of a fighting race
That never yet has known disgrace,
And as we march the foe to face
We’ll chant a soldier’s song.

Sons of the Gael! Men of the Pale!
The long watched day is breaking;
The serried ranks of Innisfail
Shall set the tyrant quaking.
’Our camp fires now are burning low
See in the east a silv’ry glow,
Out yonder waits the Saxon foe,
So chant a soldier’s song.

   
—Rep. in Seamus de Burca, The Soldier’s Song: The Story of Peadar Kearney (Dublin 1957), p[11 - with reduced facs. of first orig. 1916 pamphlet on facing page.]
 
Sean Tracy
To you, O Flower of Ireland’s Youth!
Across the grave we send a Nation’s praise
Hailing your name the greatest name of all,
     Young Ireland’s pioneers!
Chanting your courage cool;
     Your deathless love for her,
Your changeless hate for those
     Who sought her soul to rend -
Those you pursued and slew
     Without remorse -
Those you destroyed and conquered
     To the end.
To-day behold your Ireland!
    Eyes alight and hearts ablaze
No longer shivering slaves in
    Freedom’s dawn,
Today each heath-clad hill,
    Each singing glen,
Re-echoes to the tramp of armed men,
    Whose guiding star thou art
Forever and for aye
    O Seán!

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The Irish Republican Brotherhood’ [Chap. 8] in The Soldier’s Song: The Story of Peadar O Cearnaigh [comp. & written by Seamus De Burca] (Dublin 1957):

[...]

Writers of history might be roughly classified as hero-worshippers, debunkers or parents of scapegots. [...] Still, when we have finished the latest thriller can turn to Macaulay’s six volumes of History and revel in the feat of a master of language proving how easy it is to bamboozle people [...]
The least of Macaulay’s sins was elaborate misquotation. He went muchfurther than that: he gave page and date for documents that never existed! [...; p.74]
 Macaulay based his history on documents that did not exist. Shall the Irish historian of the future accept as contemporary evidence the stuff that has appeared as history in this country since 1916? Or, on the other hand, is it possible to tell the whole truth about contemporary events while many of the participants are still living?
 The play Hamlet would be a poor affair without the Prince of Denmark. Now, as the Dane is to the play the Irish Republican Brotherhood has been to the Irish National Movement from the hour of its foundation in Denzille Street (now Fenian Street) on St. Patrick’s Day, 1859, until it ceased to exist, so far as the writer knows, early in 1922. [...]’ (p.77.)
—For longer extracts, see attached.

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References
Desmond Hickey & J. E. Doherty, Dictionary of Irish History (1980, 1987); give bio-dates, 1883-1942; cite‘The Soldier’s Song’ as collaboration with Patrick Heeney; Kearney a friend of Collins; interned at Ballykinlar, 1920-21; official censor at Portlaoise during Civil War [chk]; best known songs are ‘The Tri-Coloured Ribbon’; ‘down by the Glenside’, and ‘Whack Fol the Diddle’.

Cathach Books (1996/97) lists Peadar Kearney, My Dear Eve ... Letters from Ballykinlar Internment Camp, 1921 (P. J. Bourke, 1975), 45pp. [var., intro. Seamus de Burca, Dublin: Litho Press 1976, 46pp.

 

Notes
The Soldier’s Song”: is quoted by name only by Peter in The Plough and the Stars: ‘I felt a burnin’ lump in me throat when I head th’ band playin; “The Soldiers’ Song” [sic], rememberin’ last hearin’ it marchin’ in military formation with th’ people starin’ on both sides at us, carrin’ with us the pride an; resolution o’ Dublin to th’ gave of Wolfe Tone.’ (Sean O’Casey, Three Plays, Pan edn. 1980 p.163).

Rona M. Fields, A Society on the Run: A Pyschology of Northern Ireland (Penguin 1973), quotes “Ballad of Bereaved Woman”: ‘’Twas down by the glenside I met an old woman/A picking young nettles/She ne’re say me coming/I listened awhile to the song she was humming/Glory, O Glory I, to the bold Fenian men’.

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The Old Orange Flute”, anthem of the Orange Order, was written by Peadar Kearney as a a parody of Orangeism and originally published in Arthur Griffith’s paper Sinn Féin (Patrick Maume, Irish Diaspora List, Bradford; Feb. 2004).

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Ballykinlar (or Ballykinler), Co. Down, an army camp used for prisoners in the Irish War of Independence, is the subject of chapters in an autobiography by Louis J. Walsh (On My Keeping and Theirs, 1921) - see under Walsh, q.v. - infra. Note that Seamus de Burca records that the food was good but in short supply until the Treaty, causing a large Tipperary man to search the offal, and that the British army gaolers were on the same provisions (See4 The Soldiers Song, 1957).

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