It has recently been revealed that the committees responsible for the upkeep of the Kilmichael Ambush Memorial had lodged a planning application for the re-development of the site which was to include a dedicated memorial to the members of the notorious Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary that perished at the hands of the flying column of the Third West Cork Brigade in one of the most audacious and successful engagements in the history of Ireland’s revolutionary struggle. Although the Kilmichael Historical Society and the Kilmichael and Crossbarry Commemorative Committee have since claimed that this proposal was subsequently rejected, the sheer fact that such an outrageous plan was even given a single breath of consideration is a insult to those brave men and women that have for centuries kept the flame of resistance alight.
“On the twenty eighth day of November, The Tans left the town of Macroom,
They were seated in two Crossley tenders, Which carried them into their doom
They were out on the road to Kilmichael, And never expected to stall
but they met with the boys of the column, who made a clear sweep of them all.”
What followed was a fierce battle in which 3 IRA men and 16 of the 18 Auxies were killed, with a further one more killed later after being captured by other members of the Brigade. The Auxillaries, along with the regular RIC divisions including the Black ‘n’ Tans and the regular British Army troops, had a fierce reputation around the country for their brutal treatement of not only captured insurgents, but also of the wider general population. A reputation that was well enhanced by their use of the “false surrender” tactic during this particular battle. These men were in effect hired mercanaries that were trained and blooded during the First World War, and with no work in post-war England were recruited to come to Ireland to quell the growing tide of anti-colonial resistence that was beginning to sweep the country. And sure enough they did their upmost to break the spirit of the people and to make it ever so unappealing to be supportive, or even sympathetic, towards the forces of the Irish Republic.
But alas, they failed. They failed because people like Tom Barry and those that fought with him at Kilmichael took it upon themselves to strike a blow for the freedom of the ancient Irish nation. They failed because the people, despite the social conditioning of Anglo-Saxon rule, yearned for the chance to take control of their own destinies. They failed because every empire that crosses foreign shores to unjustly and mercilessly conquer another people will inevitably fall when met with the unified voice of a risen people!
But where they failed, many more still seek to prevail. They seek to portray the struggle for full Irish independence as a finished fight. They seek to promote historical revisionism and sell it as a token of a “renewed relationship”. And they seek to paint the forces of the British Empire, that have for centuries carried out atrocity after atrocity on the native Gael’s for the cause of Queen and country, as equal to and worthy of the same remembrance that we as freedom loving people bestow on those brave warriors that died in the name of justice, liberty and equality.
The Kilmichael Ambush was carried out by Irishmen that pledged their lives to the revolution, and sacrificed so much in defence of the thirty-two county Irish Republic. These men, and the countless other men and women, died for a dream that has not yet been achieved. A dream that will never be achieved so long as parasitic politicians and careerists are allowed to dictate to the people which aspects of our history we are allowed to remember, and how so they should be remembered. Commemorating the RIC in Glasnevin, commemorating the Auxies at Kilmichael, and now, inviting representatives of the British Crown to paticipate in the State’s plans for the 1916 centeary are all methods of conditioning the people of Ireland to believe that all has been resolved, that the struggles of our ancestors have been concluded.
This blatant revisionism is going to get all the more apparent as we move further into the so-called “Decade of Centenaries”. A gimic and a lie of an idea that was penned to have our people believe that the revolutionary period of 1913-1923 was the point of history when our nation was born. What in fact did emerge from the dust was the two corrupt states which have relied on an idea of two seperate people to maintain the staus quo and continue the exploitation of the masses after partition. This sham also portrays the labour, cultural and national struggles which were at their height in this period to be nothing more than problems of their times and that all has since been resolved, and unless we as a people can rise in defiance at these distortions of our history then what our martyrs died for will truly have been in vain.
Republicans, anti-imperialists and anyone that is proud of our revolutionary past should not be willing to allow this defining moment of the revolution to be re-packaged and prostituted so the rich and powerful of both states in this nation can congratulate themselves and a century of ruling by fooling. To paraphrase Tom Barry, those in power have gone down into the mire to sully and destroy the legacy of our ancestors, and down after them we must go to ensure their dignity can be restored. If we fail to mount a worthy mass-movement of resistance to oppose these defiant acts of revisionism then it is not only our generation we are failing, but those that came before us and those that will come after.
While Irishmen wear rusty chains that beseth them from their birth.”
– Bobby Sands, The Sleeping Rose
Written by An Bhreathnadóir