‘PRISONERS ON BREAD AND TEA IN MOUNTJOY’ .
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, January 1958 .
Liam Gleeson of Limerick City , Sean Daly of Clonakilty , County Cork , and Kevin McCooey of Monaghan , were each sentenced to six months imprisonment at a County Cavan District Court following their arrest near the border on November 29th , 1957 .
They were arrested and tried in the most secret circumstances - the Press was not represented at their trials and no word of the case was reported in the daily newspapers . They were shifted from Monaghan to the Bridewell Jail in Dublin on the back of an open lorry guarded by Special Branch men armed with sub-machines guns . After being detained in solitary confinement they were shifted to Mountjoy Prison. An attempt was made to impose criminal status on them .
Their mid-day meal in Mountjoy was uneatable . As a protest against these conditions they have not eaten any dinner since December 7th and are now living on a daily diet of eight ounces of bread and a pint of tea…….
I do not approach this book as a potential historian , but rather as a feminist trade unionist . From this perspective I am not surprised that the view of Irish history it reveals is a novel one , ignored by the many professionall historians who have trodden this ground . For the latter , the role of women has been marginal : they appear , if at all , as adjuncts to the main actors and in their stereotyped roles .
Here we might see ‘Mrs James Connolly’ readying the great man’s clothes , or Mrs Pearse teaching Padraig his prayers . Or , as in the case of women such as Maud Gonne or Countess Markievicz they are effectively de-sexed and cast in the role of ‘honorary men’ - and women’s issues never even make an appearance .
Reading this book is in equal measure an exhilerating and depressing experience . Ultimately , however , it is a hopeful book . Parallels with the present and the recent past jump out of the pages , and it draws a clear lesson for the contemporary feminist . This book indicates clearly that while womem were prepared to play a large part in revolutionary struggle they were welcome only insofar as they accepted the struggle as defined by their male comrades ; when they attempted to articulate their own demands , or to work out an approach of their own , they were promptly cast in the role of disloyal or unreliable…….
” I don’t propose to have any kind of relationship with Mr Thatcher.” The journalists gathered round the table in the kitchen of Cavan County Hospital looked up from their notebooks and stared at Charles J. Haughey. Then they stared at the reporter from ‘The Sunday Times’ newspaper whom he was addressing .
It was halfway through the election campaign and Charles Haughey was about to embark on a walkabout of the Cavan-Monaghan constituency . First of all , though , he had to give the hacks their daily fix of column inches and up to now had been answering fairly nondescript questions about taxing farmers , border trading and suchlike . He had already cautioned a BBC reporter about “…monopolising the conversation . There are some Irish journalists here as well , you know… ” , he told an unabashed Tim Maby of BBC Radio Four’s ‘Today’ programme.
” What kind of relationship do you hope to have with Mrs Thatcher should you become Taoiseach ?” , the man from ‘The Sunday Times’ had thereupon piped up from the back . ” And who are you now ?” , demanded Charles J. Haughey . ” I’m from ‘The Sunday Times’ , Mr. Haughey , ” came the reply . ” I don’t propose to have any kind of relationship with Mr. Thatcher…” , Haughey said , and paused . He stared the reporter straight in the eye and said “…you did say Mr Thatcher , didn’t you ? “
” Actually , no . I said Mrs Thatcher .” “Oh sorry . It’s your accent , you see…….” , said Haughey…….