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August 05, 2007

McCord: New Revelations Must Spark Inquiry

News about Ireland & the Irish

SL 08/05/07 Explosive Revelations Must Spark Inquiry: McCord
SL 08/05/07 Agents Given 'Free Reign To Murder'
GU 08/05/07 UDA Should Disarm And 'Get Lost', Says Mad Dog
SL 08/05/07 UDA Leader: We've Shot Ourselves In The Foot
BT 08/03/07 Just Who Is In Control Of UDA?
SL 08/05/07 Ex-LVF Chief Blames UVF For Depot Blaze
II 08/04/07 Deputy Sings Out Praises For Leader Paisley
SL 08/05/07 Hardline Loyalist Planning Anti-DUP Protest
SL 08/05/07 Parents Demand Face-To-Face With Spymaster
BN 08/04/07 Protestant Homes Damaged In Sectarian Attack
BT 08/04/07 Opin: Police Protecting The Peace For Us All
IT 08/04/07 Opin: Bard Of Armagh
RO 08/04/07 Remembering Tommy Makem
TE 08/03/07 Tommy Makem
IT 08/04/07 US Musicians Pay Tribute To Makem
IT 08/03/07 A Musical Bridge Linking Tradition And Modernity
NY 08/03/07 Tommy Makem, 74, Hero Of Irish Folk Music, Dies
CP 08/04/07 Speaking In Irish Tongues


Explosive Revelations Must Spark Inquiry: McCord

[Published: Sunday 5, August 2007 - 09:48]
By Stephen Breen

Victims campaigner Raymond McCord last night praised former
police officer Laurence Templeton for breaking rank over the
issue of collusion.

The crusading father claimed Mr Templeton's shock claims had
vindicated his decision to pursue the Special Branch officers who
protected his son's killers.

Said Mr McCord: "This is the third set of important revelations
to emerge after my son's murder.

"The first was my own investigation establishing the identity of
his killers.

"The second was the O'Loan report (which concluded that Special
Branch officers had protected informers in the UVF, despite their
involvement in murders and serious crime).

"And now this former officer has come forward.

"What more does the Public Prosecution Service need? It is also
time for the likes of Jeffrey Donaldson and the Police Federation
to accept the fact there were corrupt police officers who were
complicit in murders.

"Following these revelations, there must now be a full and
independent inquiry into my son's murder and the activity of Mark
Haddock (the most senior Mount Vernon UVF informer) and Special

McCord plans to raise the issue with the Assembly "because it
affects victims from both sides of the political divide, and also
security force personnel who were murdered so agents could be

c Belfast Telegraph


Agents Given 'Free Reign To Murder'

[Published: Sunday 5, August 2007 - 09:48]
By Stephen Breen

This is the ex-RUC man who last night claimed Special Branch
officers ignored the murderous exploits of their agents - to gain
favour and promotion.

Former officer Laurence Templeton - who received praise from Sir
Hugh Orde for his "exemplary" service over three decades - broke
his silence to allege that a small minority of officers brought
shame to the force by allowing terrorist killers a free reign.

The 50-year-old - whose career included three years in Special
Branch - spoke exclusively to Sunday Life in a bid to help the
relatives of loved ones murdered by loyalist and republican

In an explosive interview, the ex-officer claimed that:

:: Special Branch officers competed against each other to see who
ran the best agent;

:: Some officers were "seduced" by power;

:: High-level informants were known as the "protected species",

:: Policemen were sacrificed to protect republican spies.

Said the ex-cop: "The vast majority of handlers ran their agents
both professionally and morally - but there were officers who
were only concerned about which agent was perceived as the best.

"Their careers were more important to them than arresting people
for murder. Promotion was paramount.

"They sat on intelligence about certain murders in order to move
up the ladder - they were seduced by power. As a result of my
experience in the force and of what I have seen and heard, I have
no doubt there were officers who were complicit in murder.

"There is a tendency for this society to bury its head in the
sand and pretend it never happened - but I, along with many other
officers, know that it did happen. I was fully aware of a mass of
intelligence on a wide range of individuals but couldn't
understand why this information was never acted upon.

"I also firmly believe that decent policemen were allowed to die
to protect certain informants."

He added: "The public are not shocked at terrorists killing
people, but they should be appalled when the state colludes with
those very same people.

"If police officers had been told during their training they
would only be investigating certain murders then I'm sure, like
me, they would've walked out. I personally would like to know why
certain murders were not selected for investigation and who made
these decisions.

"It's only when those questions are answered will we get to a
clear picture of who was actually running things in Northern
Ireland at that time.

"Senior officers in Special Branch and CID, in my opinion, became
nodding dogs and lost touch with the reality of day to day
policing. These people were controlled by top police and MI5.

"I personally knew of one senior officer who knew he wouldn't get
a result over the McCord murder because Haddock was untouchable.
I believe, in the end, it was Haddock who was actually running
his handlers."

The former police officer also believes that Police Ombudsman
Nuala O'Loan's investigation into the murder of Raymond McCord
Jnr could have gone further, adding: "I believe it could have
been even stronger.

"But I was appalled by the significant number of high-ranking ex-
officers who refused to assist O'Loan even as witnesses.

"I am not tarnishing all officers and I can't understand how
certain people are still in denial about what went on. I realise
it may be difficult for some people to come forward at this stage
of their lives, but it's never too late.

"The real heroes of the conflict are the vast majority of
officers who helped save people's lives on a daily basis and
those who continue to serve, both uniform and CID."

:: More explosive revelations in next week's Sunday Life

c Belfast Telegraph


UDA Should Disarm And 'Get Lost', Says Mad Dog

Loyalist exile seeks the right to go home and says he has no
problem with Sinn Fein in government

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday August 5, 2007
The Observer

The most infamous loyalist terrorist to emerge from Northern
Ireland's troubles, Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair, has called on the
feuding Ulster Defence Association to disarm and disband. He has
also backed the power-sharing government at Stormont co-headed by
his one-time arch-foe, Martin McGuinness.

Speaking from exile in Scotland, Adair challenged the UDA's de
facto current leader, Jackie McDonald, to lift the death sentence
hanging over him.

At present the UDA leadership is engaged in a tense stand-off
with its rebel South East Antrim Brigade. A fortnight ago the
latent feud between the UDA and the faction refusing to recognise
its leadership erupted in violence. A police officer was shot in
the back after a gunman from the South East Antrim Brigade tried
to kill McDonald. This occurred just after about 200 mainstream
UDA men 'invaded' a housing estate in Carrickfergus, a stronghold
of the rebel group. 'Invading' the areas of opposition factions
with hundreds of men loyal to the UDA leadership was a tactic
employed successfully four years ago to defeat Adair and his
supporters in Belfast.

The incident in Carrickfergus two weeks ago and last week's
violent clashes between a UDA-orchestrated mob and the PSNI on an
estate in Bangor has prompted Chief Constable Hugh Orde to
question why the British government continues to fund the UDA-
linked community groups. So far, the British taxpayer has given
œ1.2 million to the UDA to help it transform from paramilitarism
to community-based politics. Orde said he 'wouldn't give them
(the UDA) 50 pence'. Orde made his remarks after the PSNI said
they came under gunfire on the loyalist Kilcooley estate in
Bangor early on Thursday morning. He blamed the UDA for the
disturbances which broke out after the PSNI raided a number of
homes as part of an anti-drug dealing operation.

Adair, who was expelled from his Lower Shankill Road base by the
mainstream UDA in 2003 after an internal feud, said the
organisation he went to jail for should now wind up. 'They (the
UDA) should simply get lost,' he said from his home in Troon on
the Ayrshire coast. 'If McDonald really is leading the UDA into
peace, he should lift the death threat on me and let me home.
Then he should order the UDA to decommission. Then they should go
away. There's no need for the UDA any more.'

Having spent years targeting top republicans for assassination
while he was the head of the UDA's most ruthless unit, C-company,
Adair said he had no problem today either with Sinn Fein in
government or Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister. Prior
to the restoration of devolution earlier this year Adair urged
unionists to trust the IRA when the Provisionals said they had
decommissioned and given up violence for good. 'There's peace.
I'm glad there's peace. It's amazing, but it's excellent. The
future for Ulster is shining, and its getting brighter and

Adair is safe from neither warring faction of the UDA: the South
East Antrim Brigade blames him for ordering the murder of John
'Grugg' Gregg (the loyalist who shot and nearly killed Gerry
Adams) in early 2003, not long before the C-company was routed;
McDonald and the movement's leadership hold 'Mad Dog' responsible
for a failed putsch aimed at taking over the organisation five
years ago. Both sides share one ambition in common - they have
each vowed to kill Adair if he settles back in Northern Ireland.
Remarking on both factions, Adair said: 'They (the UDA in
general) are letting the organisation be destroyed by their own
people.' However, he said he had no ambition to go back to
Belfast and re-establish a base there: 'There really is no role
for me over there any more.

'Mad Dog' added that he thinks the UDA should and will get all
the money it is seeking from government: 'They'll all become
community workers,' he said. 'It'll be a classic case of jobs for
the boys, but, as I say, they should all disband now.'

The Minister in charge of funding community projects in Northern
Ireland, the SDLP's Margaret Ritchie, has ordered an internal
review over funding to UDA-linked community projects.

Alliance leader David Ford has called for all grants to groups
associated with the UDA to be frozen until the organisation
begins to follow the IRA and disarm. So far neither the UDA nor
the UVF has handed over a bullet or explosive.


UDA Leader: We've Shot Ourselves In The Foot

[Published: Sunday 5, August 2007 - 09:43]
By Brian Rowan

The loyalist 'brigadier' Jackie McDonald says those behind the
Bangor gun attack on police "shot the UDA in the foot".

And in a message to the wider paramilitary group, he said:
"Anybody who wants to deal in drugs or criminality, should get
out of the organisation and take their chances with the PSNI.

"All we can do is expel them, and let the police deal with it."

McDonald knows the terror group is under huge political and
security pressure - and that funding for a loyalist conflict
transformation initiative is being reviewed.

"We are already under the microscope - we are on trial," McDonald

And on the riots and shooting in Kilcooley, he added: "They did
the UDA no favours, and they did the people in Bangor no favours.

"It's not what the organisation would have wanted.

"That situation was a throwback to what used to happen. It should
not have happened."

McDonald, a member of the UDA 'inner council' and 'brigadier' in
south Belfast, claimed the orders "did not come from the

"It came from people on the ground in the heat of the moment," he

"Whoever brought those guns out shot the UDA in the foot.

"That was a knee-jerk by people in a situation. It is not the
path set out by the CTI (conflict transformation initiative)."

More than œ1m in funding has been allocated to that initiative,
but Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde said he wouldn't give it 50p.

One of Orde's Assistant Chief Constables, Peter Sheridan,
explained: " If what we are getting at the minute is delivery,
it's not worth 50p.

"So, if they (the CTI), want the funding, they need to start
delivering. "

The senior police officers were reacting to the recent street
violence, not just in Bangor but in Carrickfergus.

And they also have intelligence assessments that show the UDA's
continuing involvement in criminality.

c Belfast Telegraph


Just Who Is In Control Of UDA?

[Published: Friday 3, August 2007 - 10:20]

It must be embarrassing for the leadership of the UDA. Just two
weeks ago the group's so-called Inner Council gathered together
to publicly pledge that "criminals have no place in the UDA".

The group's political wing - the Ulster Political Research Group
- also stated that those involved in selling drugs, extortion or
other crime " did so without the UDA's backing".

These public claims were no doubt made in a bid to reassure the
Government that the organisation is committed to peaceful means
and entitled to the œ1.2m pledged funding for UDA-linked
community projects.

However, within 24 hours, a police officer was shot during a
stand-off between feuding UDA members and police in
Carrickfergus. A civilian was stabbed during the violent clashes
which involved a 150-strong mob.

Less than two weeks later officers came under fire again from
another UDA mob that was responsible for organising one of the
worst nights of rioting in Ulster in recent years.

Seven shots were fired at police who were also attacked with
petrol bombs, fireworks and stones after 200 thugs took to the
streets of the loyalist Kilcooley estate in Bangor in protest
against police raids.

During the raids œ6,000 in cash, as well as a quantity of drugs
and counterfeit goods, were allegedly seized from a number of

So, if the leadership is stating that the UDA is committed to
peaceful means, but yet its members have been involved in
internal feuding, violence and organised criminality, the
question is - who exactly is in control?

Chief Constable Hugh Orde said he believes the UDA leadership is
either unable to control its members or does not want to control

"They (the leadership) should wise up and get their act
together," Sir Hugh said.

This week's violence has led to renewed calls for Government
funding for UDA-linked community projects to be halted.

Earlier this year the Government announced that œ1.2m of public
money would be spent on implementing a business plan from the

The UPRG said, at the time, it hoped the project would result in
the setting up of community work teams across Northern Ireland
who could lead loyalists away from crime and paramilitarism and
into the social and economic regeneration of their

However, although the UDA leadership is claiming to have
renounced violence and criminality, the actions of its members,
who opened fire on police twice in the past two weeks, tells a
very different story.

Sir Hugh, who does not usually get involved in politics, took the
unusual step yesterday of voicing his reservations about pledged
funding to the UDA.

"It is not good enough for the UDA to say it is going to deliver
a peaceful solution," he said.

" This was organised criminality by the UDA. It is the second
time in two weeks my officers have come under fire.

"If you are looking for funding you need to get something in
return. If you want my personal opinion, I would not give them
50p. They need to make clear they condemn criminal activity."

The UDA is increasingly being left exposed as criminals with
members continually looking backwards instead of forwards.

Despite the words of leaders it is uncertain if the will to end
criminality actually exists.

Many members have made lucrative livings out of extortion and
drugs and may be resistant to surrender their "livelihoods ".

However, with an increasingly stable political situation in
Northern Ireland, the elements of the UDA are becoming more
outdated. But this does not mean that they do not retain the
capacity for causing destruction and violence.

UDA leaders must reply to Sir Hugh Orde's statement - can they
control their members or do they just not want to?

c Belfast Telegraph


Ex-LVF Chief Blames UVF For Depot Blaze

[Published: Sunday 5, August 2007 - 09:39]
By Stephen Breen

A former LVF terror boss has accused his former comrades of
torching his taxi depot.

Ex-loyalist godfather Jackie Mahood - who has renounced
violence - believes criminal elements with links to the UVF were
responsible for the latest attack on his north Belfast business.

Scorch damage was caused after petrol bombs were hurled at the
busy Crumlin Road depot last weekend.

Although the north Belfast loyalist does not believe the attack
was sanctioned by the UVF leadership, he has called on the terror
group's members to end the attacks.

Said Mahood: "Community representatives are now trying to get the
matter resolved because this situation cannot go on.

"I know it wasn't the UDA or republicans and I believe it was
criminal elements associated with the UVF. They just don't want
me running a business in north Belfast.

"We employ ex-prisoners and ex-servicemen and I don't think the
people who are committing these attacks realise this.

"We are bringing much-needed employment to the area and I just
hope the matter gets resolved sooner rather than later.

"There is absolutely no reason for this depot to be attacked
because we are just doing something positive for the people in
this area."

The former loyalist also vowed to remain in the area, adding:
"The days of paramilitaries are over because Northern Ireland has
moved forward.

"I am no longer involved in anything because people can change. I
don't want any problems with anyone because I've nothing to do
with the paramilitaries.

"I just want to lead a quiet and normal life and I just wish
these people would let me do this because there should be no such
things as paramilitary groups anymore.

"I obviously have political differences with people but this
doesn't mean that people should lose their jobs because of it.
I'm not planning on going anywhere and if they attack my office
again I will just re-open again. We all have to move on."

Mahood was once a member of the UVF but left the organisation
over its feud with LVF serial killer Billy Wright.

The former loyalist, who also had a run-in with suspected UDA
informer Jim Spence, left the LVF after claiming it was riddled
with gangsters and drug dealers.

c Belfast Telegraph


Deputy Sings Out Praises For Leader Paisley

By Gordon Deegan
Saturday August 04 2007

SINN Fein's Martin McGuinness yesterday lauded Dr Ian Paisley's
contribution to the executive since it was established three
months ago.

On only his second visit south as Deputy First Minister of the
Northern Ireland Executive, Mr McGuinness said in Scariff, Co
Clare: "Ian Paisley knows what I am and I know what he is. I
intensely disliked Ian Paisley for all of my adult life and I
wouldn't even hazard a guess at what he thought of me, but for
the last three months, I have met him in Stormount every day, and
there has not been one cross word between the two of us."


He added: "People ask 'is this for real? Is this going to last?'
The answer is a really decisive 'yes' to both questions.

"I believe Ian Paisley is as committed and dedicated to making
this process work as I am and as the Taoiseach is. That is where
we are at. We are doing it now in a totally different
environment. The war is well and truly over; the next big
challenge is the economy, providing well-paid jobs for our young

"Ian Paisley's allegiance is to Britain and the UK. I have no
allegiance to Britain or the UK.

"My allegiance is to Ireland and to the people of Ireland, but
both he and I inhabit a space where he and I work together."

Mr McGuinness was speaking before officially opening the 5th
annual Scariff Harbour Festival, which has as one of its primary
aims the promotion of greater links between the North and South.

Mr McGuinness told the crowd of 300 people in the east Clare
village: "This is a small island and we all have a duty and a
responsibility to come closer together and it is in our best
interests to do so.

"It is in our best social, political and economic interests to do

Mr McGuinness remarked that during the joint press conferences
the two have held: "I have found Ian Paisley to be very, very
gracious indeed and I think he clearly recognises the journey
that we in Sinn Fein and many others, including the Taoiseach and
other political leaders, have made and I think he has joined in
the mood and he wants to participate in a positive way".

He added: "I think Ian Paisley knows as a serious politician,
this is a very small island and there are huge benefits for all
of us if we work together."

- Gordon Deegan


Hardline Loyalist Planning Anti-DUP Protest

[Published: Sunday 5, August 2007 - 09:20]
By Stephen Breen

A hardline loyalist is planning to stage a rally at Stormont.
Diehard Orangeman and convicted rioter Mark Harbinson told Sunday
Life the rally is being organised in protest at the DUP's
decision to share power with Sinn Fein.

Harbinson, from Stoneyford in Co Antrim, claims his plan has
received support from disgruntled unionists across Ulster.

He spoke to us after attending an anti-DUP meeting a fortnight

Said Harbinson: "The meeting went very well and there was a very
good attendance. Everyone was there including senior loyalists,
members of loyal orders and bands from across the country.

"A number of people spoke but the main focus was about what has
been happening at Stormont. We are not happy about the
relationship between the DUP and republicans.

"We believe the pace of change and direction given by our so-
called unionist leaders is now out of step with the wider
loyalist people.

"We are looking at going to Stormont for the rally and we hope we
can have something planned for September."

A senior DUP source dismissed Harbinson's threats.

Added the source: "These people were telling everyone that they
were going to upset speeches at Twelfth demonstrations but they
were nowhere to be seen.

"This is a democracy and people have a right to protest, but
there are doubts if this so-called rally at Stormont will go

c Belfast Telegraph


Parents Of Murdered Army Agent Demand Face-To-Face With Spymaster

[Published: Sunday 5, August 2007 - 09:33]
By Chris Anderson

The parents of a young republican murdered by Army agent Freddie
Scappaticci's notorious IRA unit are demanding a face-to-face
meeting with the spymaster at the heart of Britain's dirty war.

Irene and Pat Dignam believe their son John, who was himself an
Army agent inside the IRA, was sacrificed by the Army's secretive
Force Research Unit to protect its more important spy - west
Belfastman Freddie Scappaticci, aka agent 'Stakeknife'.

The Portadown couple have written to Des Browne, the Secretary of
State for Defence, asking him to arrange a meeting with Brigadier
Gordon Kerr, the man who headed the FRU in the late 1980s and
early 90s.

The Dignams also want assurances that the high ranking British
Intelligence officer will be made available to be interviewed by
the PSNI and Police Ombudsman teams investigating their son's

Father of two, John Dignam (32) was abducted along with fellow
Provos Gregory Burns and Aiden Starrs in June 1992. All three
were interrogated for a week before being shot through the head.
Their bodies were later dumped on border roads in south Armagh

At the time, the IRA said the trio had admitted being MI5/Special
Branch agents and of involvement in the murder of Portadown
woman, Margaret Perry.

But Pat and Irene Dignam claim their son was deliberately
sacrificed by the FRU to protect the identity and role of
Scappaticci, a leading figure in the IRA's ruthless internal
security unit.

Scappaticci is believed to have carried out numerous murders
while leading a double life as a torturer in the IRA's so-called
'nutting squad' and a paid agent with the Force Research Unit.

Pat Dignam said:"We have been told John was deliberately
sacrificed to protect Freddie Scappaticci.

"I want to look Gordon Kerr in the eye and ask him who the FRU
was protecting."

Irene Dignam said she was optimistic Des Browne would respond
positively to their letter.

"He is a former NIO Victims Minister and should understand how we
feel," she said.

"I want Des Browne to give me his personal assurance Brigadier
Kerr will be made available to both the Police Ombudsman's and
the Historical Enquiries Team's investigations into Johnny's

"That's our bottom line."

Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan is carrying out a McCord-style
investigation into allegations of collusion in John Dignam's

The PSNI's Historical Enquiries Team has told the family it will
start a review of the Dignam case within the next three to six

c Belfast Telegraph


Protestant Homes Damaged In Sectarian Attack

04/08/2007 - 19:12:34

A police vehicle was damaged during a sectarian attack on two
Protestant homes in north Belfast, it emerged today.

A crowd of about 30 people confronted PSNI officers in Twaddell
Avenue at about 1am.

"Two homes and a PSNI vehicle were damaged," said a PSNI
spokesman. "We believe the attack on the homes was sectarian-
related. Nobody was injured."

Democratic Unionist Party member of the Stormont Assembly Nelson
McCausland condemned the attack.

"This is the latest in a long series of attacks on these
Protestant homes," he said.


Opin: Police Protecting The Peace For Us All

[Published: Saturday 4, August 2007 - 09:55]

It is easy to understand the frustration and anger of Chief
Constable Sir Hugh Orde after the disgraceful attacks on his
officers in Bangor's Kilcooley estate. Seven shots were fired at
the police along with petrol bombs, fireworks and stones by a mob
of 200. Sir Hugh is in no doubt that the UDA was behind the
orchestrated attacks which followed police raids in the estate.

Noting that the UDA has been promised œ1.2m in funding from the
Government if it turns away from criminality, Sir Hugh, quite
rightly, argues that it must deliver on its peace pledges. As
things stand he would not give the organisation 50p and most law-
abiding people in Northern Ireland would agree with him.

The Bangor disturbances follow another UDA show of strength in
Carrickfergus during which a PSNI officer was shot - the first
member of the new force to suffer such an injury. These attacks
on the police demonstrate that the so-called loyalists of the UDA
- like all paramilitaries - are only loyal to their own
interests. They want to protect their own rackets while holding
out their hands for public money at the same time.

It is almost amusing to hear the political apologists for the UDA
accuse the police of heavy handed tactics in raiding homes in
Bangor. That was exactly the same rhetoric used by republicans
not so long ago to attack the integrity of the police. If anyone
has a legitimate complaint against the PSNI, there is a well-
proven way of airing it through the Police Ombudsman. There is no
legitimacy in shooting or petrol bombing the police.

There is, undeniably, a new air of optimism in Northern Ireland
in spite of the continuing trouble caused by dissident
republicans or malcontent loyalists. However, new figures show
that the PSNI is not sharing in the peace dividend enjoyed by
most of us. The statistics reveal that eight police officers are
attacked in the province every day. That is an intolerable
situation, especially since the number of incidents has risen by
33% in just four years.

The figures should bring home to all of us the continuing dangers
that police officers face in defending the rule of law against
all classes of criminals and offenders. They are continually in
the front line and it should be remembered that a thug armed with
a knife can be as deadly as a paramilitary armed with a gun. The
level of terrorism faced by the police may have diminished
enormously in recent years, but the threat to their safety is
still omnipresent from a variety of sources.

Most people in Northern Ireland are law abiding and it is their
duty to throw their full weight behind the PSNI, whatever their
political allegiances. The police are there to defend us all and
deserve the support of us all.

c Belfast Telegraph


Opin: Bard Of Armagh

Sat, Aug 04, 2007

Tommy Makem left his native Keady in Co Armagh in the 1950s
hoping for a career on the American stage. There's now little
doubt that theatre's loss became folk music's gain, though the
style of his performance always had something of theatrical
showmanship about it.

Long before the likes of Bob Geldof, U2, Enya and Christy Moore
brought international attention and acclaim to music-making in
Ireland, one group in particular had already made an enormous
impact, not only at home but also in the United States where they
created a huge new audience for songs that had originated in an
entirely different culture across the Atlantic. Makem, along with
the Clancy Brothers, were filling venues such as New York's
Carnegie Hall and London's Albert Hall, as well as appearing on
what was then the pre-eminent entertainment showcase on US
television, the Ed Sullivan Show.

Today, in what some regard as a far more musically sophisticated
era, it is difficult to imagine the huge popular appeal of such
old-fashioned, pure-sounding ballads and their simple acoustic
accompaniment. Makem's own initial success in America in fact
predated the folk revival here in the 1960s - he had, with singer
Joan Baez, achieved the distinction of being proclaimed the most
promising newcomer at the legendary Newport Folk Festival.

Makem and the Clancy Brothers, knew exactly what the audiences
wanted - both in Ireland and America - and whether it was rousing
rebel songs, sea shanties or wistful ballads, they gave it to
them with gusto and professional panache. Their position, it
could be said, was at the pinnacle of the Irish cultural
firmament of the time.

In the aftermath of the break-up of the Clancy Brothers, the
singer returned to successful solo performances, but the period
of his career cherished most deeply by his fans is probably the
years of his duo partnership with Liam Clancy.

Widely known as the Bard of Armagh - and in some trad quarters
the Godfather of Irish music - Makem obviously inherited the
gifts of his mother, Sarah, a legendary folk singer herself. As
much a wit and storyteller as a musician, he held audiences
spellbound with his distinctive baritone voice and little more
than the unadorned self-accompaniment of his banjo and tin

Those audiences were never more enthralled than when he was
performing his own composition Four Green Fields, and through a
whole legacy of other songs with which he will always be
associated - Red is the Rose, Gentle Annie and The Winds are
Singing Freedom - he certainly enriched the folk repertoire.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Remembering Tommy Makem

Times Herald-Record
August 04, 2007

The song was about stabbing people, and rising up, and secret
armies coming out of the darkness. Payback.

As a kid, listening to it, the hairs on the back of my neck stood
up. It was the early 1980s and I was 10 or 11, when my mother
first explained it to me.

"Death to every foe and traitor, whistle out the marching tune/
And hoorah me boys for freedom, 'tis the rising of the moon/ 'tis
the rising of the moon, 'tis the rising of the moon."

The voice was a low baritone that you could feel in your chest
through the speakers, and it was slow, and scary. It belonged to
Tommy Makem and the name of the song was "The Rising of the
Moon." "It was," my mother told me, "rebel music."

Makem died this week at 74. And in death notices across the
world, Makem was remembered as an icon to Irish and Irish-
Americans of my parents' generation. In certain Irish corners of
the world, like my parents' Boston, Makem was mentioned in the
1960s and '70s in the same breath with Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan.

For people like me, twice removed from the Ireland Makem painted
in his songs, it was like hearing of the death of an uncle, or a
teacher you'd lost contact with.

Because, really, my parents weren't Irish. When they sat in the
Boston's Rathskeller club and sang along with Makem while they
were in college, Ireland was more myth for them than reality.
Their families had been here for years.

For me, Makem was singing across a distance twice as wide. I grew
up in the suburbs. It was my parents' first gift to me. They got
away from the tenements of "Southie" - Irish South Boston - and
the empty mills of Canton - South of Southie, we called it.

Makem was one of the doors back for people like me. Sitting in
front of the record player, my mother taught me: songs are

"The Rising of the Moon" was about the Irish rising up against
the British in 1789. "Listen to 'Kevin Barry'," she said, another
rebel song, this one about a hanged boy.

"Another martyr for old Erin/ Another murder for the Crown."

There was always something frightening, but also defiant, about
listening to this music.

Did you know, my mother told me, that some of these songs were
banned in Britain?

Making the jump between these noble, doomed rebels and myself was
no stretch: What little boy doesn't see the freedom fighter in

But my mother? The suburban housewife? The reader of paperback
mysteries? There was something old and fierce in me, but I was
too young to name it. It now dawned on me that I shared it with
my mother.

My introduction to rebel music coincided with my introduction to
newspapers. Because of Makem, one of the stories I was drawn to
was Ireland. At that time - 1981 - there was another Irish
uprising, this time in a place called Belfast.

Irish people, I read, were starving themselves in British
prisons. I read the hunger strikers' names in the Boston Globe,
names like Bobby Sands - and another that gave me chills: Kieran
Doherty. No relation, it turned out, but still - pedaling around
on my paper route, I felt this connection. To something.

With Makem in the background, I pushed my mother to catch me up
on the story.

The Great Famine of 1847 - Black '47. Easter Sunday, 1916. James
Joyce. "No Irish Need Apply" signs in Boston shop windows. JFK.

I couldn't stand my parents' Johnny Mathis records. They cringed
at my Motley Crue.

But we met at Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers.



Tommy Makem

Last Updated: 1:42am BST 03/08/2007

Tommy Makem, who has died aged 74, was a banjo-playing folk
singer whose work with the Clancy Brothers raised stage-Irish
entertainment to remarkable heights, winning a vast audience for
stirring songs of drinking, rebellion and love.

With their Aran sweaters, practised stagecraft and rich
repertoire of singalong ballads, the band enjoyed success on both
sides of the Atlantic in the late 1950s and 1960s. Purists
sneered at the slick, carefully-scripted performances; yet the
popularisation of old songs by Makem and his partners - Liam,
Tommy and Paddy Clancy - provided inspiration for hundreds who
became involved in the subsequent Irish music boom.

Their first long-playing record, The Rising of the Moon: Irish
Songs of Rebellion, was issued in 1956, followed by Come Fill
Your Glass With Us in 1959.

Makem, known as the "Bard of Armagh", was an Irish
nationalist. Although he had no extremist sympathies, his best-
known composition, Four Green Fields, written before the outbreak
of the Troubles, told sorrowfully of Ireland's four provinces,
one of them - his native Ulster - "trapped in bondage/In
strangers' hands".

Between them the Clancy Brothers, of whom only Liam survives, and
Makem released more than 100 albums. Makem's more recent works
included Ancient Pulsing, a collection of his poetry.

Thomas James Makem was born at Keady, Co Armagh, on November 4
1932, the youngest of five children. His father Peter was a mill
worker, his mother Sarah a revered traditional singer. Tommy left
school at 14 for a job in a garage before observing a strong
local custom, crossing the Atlantic to Dover, a town in New
Hampshire with its own textile tradition.

After seriously injuring his left hand in an accident at work he
moved to New York, where he drew on amateur dramatics experience
in a succession of minor acting roles before teaming up with the
three Clancy Brothers from Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary. Tom and
Paddy Clancy were also actors, but all four concluded that they
could earn more from music.

Folk music was enjoying a spell of popularity in America, and at
the 1961 Newport Folk Festival Makem and Joan Baez were chosen as
the most promising newcomers.

The band gave Irish-Americans, many of whom had never visited
Ireland, precisely the romantic vision of the Ould Sod that they
craved. Their humour and warmth also appealed to a wider public;
there were appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, and they sold out
major venues throughout the English-speaking world.

Bob Dylan based one of his early protest songs, With God On Our
Side, on Dominic Behan's cynical study of Irish politics, Patriot
Game, after hearing the band perform it in Greenwich Village.

The success of the Clancys, and Makem's driving role, instilled
great pride at home. A mantra in Irish school playgrounds ran:
"Why do the Clancy Brothers Sing? Because Tommy Makem."

With his strong baritone and engaging stage presence, Makem had
rare star quality, and he launched a solo career in 1969, though
he also reunited with Liam Clancy to perform as a successful duo
for 13 years from 1975. He considered himself professionally
active until the last weeks of his life, assuring friends of his
determination to honour bookings stretching months ahead.

Makem came from a family in which most members enjoyed a drink.
But though many of the songs he sang, and stories he told,
concerned alcohol, and although he had for a time owned a New
York pub, he was a lifelong teetotaller. He smoked when younger
but, after abandoning cigarettes in favour of a pipe, gave up
tobacco 35 years ago.

Nonetheless he contracted lung cancer. Confined to a wheelchair,
last month he returned to Keady, visiting family haunts and
accepting an honorary doctorate at Ulster University, Belfast. He
lived most of his adult life at Dover, where he died on

Makem's Irish-American wife, Mary, died, also of lung cancer,
several years ago. They leave a daughter, Kate, and three sons,
Conor, Rory and Shane, who perform as the Makem Brothers.


US Musicians Pay Tribute To Makem

Sean O'Driscoll in New York
Sat, Aug 04, 2007

US musicians and politicians paid tribute yesterday to Tommy
Makem, who died in New Hampshire on Wednesday.

His son, Shane, said the phone had not stopped ringing since
Wednesday morning, with people calling from around the US to
offer their condolences. "It's been difficult to take one call
because the phone shows there's another call coming in
immediately. It shows how well regarded he was everywhere he

Tommy Makem's death has attracted large media interest in the US,
with the New York Times dedicating a 900-word tribute to his

New Hampshire governor John Lynch said the state has lost its
"national and international treasure" and Makem's music had
brought tears of joy and sadness to people around the world. An
ailing Mr Makem played at the governor's inauguration in January.

Congressman Joe Crowley of New York described Mr Makem as a
friend who has instilled a deep sense of pride in people of Irish

Shane Makem said he and his brothers were due to perform at the
Dublin Irish music festival in Ohio this weekend and that the
organisers are dedicating the festival to his father's memory.

The world's largest Irish music festival, the Milwaukee Irish
Fest, said it would have a special music tribute to his memory
when the it opens on August 16th.

Mr Makem said his father's greatest legacy would be his influence
on other musicians. He recalled that Bob Dylan insisted he hold
an after-show party in Tommy Makem's Pavilion bar in New York
after a Dylan tribute concert in Madison Square Gardens in 1992.

"It was late at night when nearly everyone had gone home and I
remember Bob urging my father to play some Irish ballads for
himself and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder. Of course he obliged," he

c 2007 The Irish Times


A Musical Bridge Linking Tradition And Modernity

Fintan O'Toole
Fri, Aug 03, 2007

Assessment:In his biography of Bob Dylan, Down the Highway,
Howard Sounes describes an evening in 1992 when Dylan walked
alone into Tommy Makem's Irish Pavilion on Lexington Avenue in

Makem settled Dylan at a quiet table, then got up on the small
stage and began to sing - Brennan on the Moor; Will You Go,
Lassie, Go - the songs that Dylan had loved 30 years before when
he used to watch Makem and the Clancy Brothers play in Greenwich

At the break, Makem asked Dylan, "if you feel like singing a
song, let me know", but his guest was happy to sit and listen.
Dylan waited until the show was over then sat down with Makem to
talk about old times. Like the time, 30 years before, when he had
run up to Makem on Sixth Avenue excited about a song he had
written himself.

"God it must have been 2.30 or 3 o'clock in the morning," Makem
told Sounes of this earlier incident. "Stopping to sing me a long
murder ballad that he had written to the tune of some song he had
heard Liam [ Clancy] and myself singing . . . I thought, 'God,
it's a very interesting thing this young fella's doing'."

A short while later, Makem got a letter from Sony Music asking
him to appear at a concert in Madison Square Garden to celebrate
Dylan's 30th anniversary as a recording artist. It took Makem
quite a while to realise that he and the Clancy Brothers would be
appearing not just with Dylan, but with Johnny Cash, Eric
Clapton, George Harrison, Lou Reed, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder and
Willie Nelson. Yet he would not have felt entirely out of place
in such stellar company. For not alone had Tommy Makem been a
star himself, but he was genuinely a part of the very interesting
things that the young fella had been doing in the early 1960s.

In the new fusion of European folk song and American commercial
music that Dylan did more than anyone to stitch together, there
were more than a few threads of Makem's weaving. Dylan once
remarked that from listening to Makem, he had come to "think of
Brennan on the Moor the same way as I would think of Jesse
James". Makem had made Irish songs American.

It is not easy, listening to the stridency of one of Tommy
Makem's own songs, like the painfully gauche Four Green Fields
that he wrote in 1967, to understand his wider importance. Some
of what remains on record is brash and some of it is mawkish.
Dylan himself regarded Liam Clancy as a far better singer,
preferring his subtler handling of ballads to the more
declamatory style that Makem often fell into. But Makem was
sometimes a great singer and he always knew the traditions he was

If he operated essentially as a blender, fusing the Irish musical
past with the American commercial present, he brought something
real and potent to the mix. There is a CD issued in 1994 called
The Best of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. It is much
derided for the poor quality of its sound, but it is worth having
for two brief tracks. On them, Makem sings The Cobbler and The
Little Beggarman, not with the Clancys, but with his own mother

Sarah, who never left her home village of Keady in Co Armagh, was
one of the "singing Greenes", a family whose fame as musicians
and singers went back generations. And on these recordings, her
son Tommy is, for the moment, one of the singing Greenes too. He
is not the familiar bold, sometimes florid, showman in the Aran
jumper, but a performer of grace and subtlety. With a sparse
guitar accompaniment, he sings quietly, elegantly and with a
perfectly honed sweetness. Sarah's astonishingly pure, girlish
voice follows half a beat behind, twisting a gorgeously supple
ornamentation around the lilting rhythms of the songs.

The sound they make is completely captivating, light as air but
freighted with a great weight of tradition.

It is tempting, listening to these tracks, to regret much of
Tommy Makem's career. The natural ease of these performances, in
which you can imagine the two of them singing merely for
themselves, contrasts sharply with the commercial product that
the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem became. The subtlety of his
singing with his mother is quite different from the loud, self-
conscious and deliberately flamboyant style of the group. Yet it
is also true that without the group, nobody might be much
interested in Sarah Makem and the tradition she embodied. And, in
a sense, there was nothing very pure about that tradition in the
first place.

Keady, where Tommy Makem grew up, was a centre of the linen
trade, and therefore open to the cultural variety of Ulster. The
traditions he learned from his mother were a mixture of Gaelic,
Scots and English songs - a multilingual and multicultural
heritage. Sarah sang commercial songs too - her most famous
performance was of The Month of January, a traditional ballad
that had become a 19th-century parlour song and that she
reappropriated for the tradition. Tommy's own superb rendition of
the song on Clancy Brothers records released his mother's version
back into the new idiom of commercial folk music, where it has
become a staple for great singers like June Tabor. Song
traditions actually work in this complicated, impure way, and
Tommy Makem was in this sense an utterly traditional figure.

It would be a mistake, therefore, to see him simply as a
traditional singer who went to America and turned his heritage
into a commercial asset. He learned to play the banjo, for
example, not at the knee of some gnarled veteran, but from a Pete
Seeger tutorial book. He and the Clancys were emigrants before
they were performers. Tommy arrived at Logan airport in 1955 with
his suitcase and a chest X-ray to prove that he did not have TB -
and like generations of gifted Irishmen before them they adapted
their talents to the prevailing winds of American commercial
culture. Because they happened to fetch up in the new world when
the folk revival was getting into full swing, they could trade on
the authenticity of their Irish heritage.

What was really authentic, however, was their adaptability. They
fused Irish songs with the guitar and banjo-based accompaniments
pioneered by Seeger, Cisco Huston and others. They slotted
themselves into the promiscuous context of American music in all
its variety. Makem and the Clancys played alongside the great
jazz musician and composer Thelonious Monk at the Greenwich
Village Gate. They appeared alongside Paul Simon at the first
Cambridge Folk Festival in 1965 - a seminal event in the English
folk revival, though their presence was objected to by folk
purists because they were regarded as not being traditional
enough. The objections missed the point that what Makem and the
Clancys were doing was essentially an act of translation, in
which the music of the kitchen and the pub was transmuted into
the music of the vinyl record and the concert hall.

Makem's work with the Clancys bridged the gap between his
mother's intensely local tradition on the one hand and the
emerging urban Ireland on the other. There was a time when theirs
were the only Irish records in many Irish households, holding
their place with Elvis Presley, Perry Como and Jim Reeves. The
noise they made was big and loud and forceful enough to be heard
amid the bustle of an awkwardly emerging modernity. If it
sometimes sounds too brash and showy now, we have to acknowledge
that we had no ears for subtlety. Makem made us listen and re-
accustomed us to the true note that was always there in his own
voice, even if you had to strain to hear it. In doing so, he
helped to create an Ireland that could tune in to those
delightful duets between himself and his mother and catch the
wonder in their delicate lilt.

c 2007 The Irish Times


Tommy Makem, 74, Hero Of Irish Folk Music, Dies

By Douglas Martin

Tommy Makem, a songwriter, balladeer and folk singer who with the
Clancy Brothers and as a soloist introduced a raucous,
revolutionary take on time-honored Irish folk music, first in the
United States and then in Ireland, died Wednesday in Dover, N.H.
He was 74.

The cause was complications of lung cancer, his son Conor said.

Mr. Makem’s music emerged in the 1960s as part of the rise of
modern folk music, and its sound and success particularly buoyed
Irish-Americans who remembered the sting of prejudice toward
immigrant ancestors. Mr. Makem, a baritone who played the banjo
and tin whistle, was hailed as the godfather of Irish music.

After a concert at Town Hall in Manhattan in 1962, Robert Shelton
wrote in The New York Times that “most American ‘mainstream’ folk
music groups seem wan and one-dimensional in comparison” with the
Clancy and Makem act.

In 1961 the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, the name under which
they performed, signed a $100,000 recording contract, a big deal
at the time. Mr. Makem and Joan Baez were named the most
promising newcomers at the Newport Folk Festival that year.

On March 12, 1961, the group, all of whom were born in Ireland
and emigrated to the United States, performed for 14 minutes in
front of a television audience of 80 million on “The Ed Sullivan
Show,” the first of many television appearances.

The next year an Irish radio announcer visiting the United States
took some of their albums back to Ireland and played them on his
show. They skyrocketed to popularity. By 1964 a third of the
albums sold in Ireland were by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy

In 1963 they performed at the White House at the request of
President John F. Kennedy, who was of Irish descent. Mr. Makem
had rewritten an old song, “We Want No Irish Here.” It was taken
from the time in America when there were signs saying, “No Irish
Need Apply.”

In an interview with The Belfast News Letter in 2003, Mr. Makem
said, “superimposed over us on television was a great shot of
President Kennedy laughing his head off.”

Thomas Makem (who made a point of not revealing his middle name)
was born on Nov. 4, 1932, in Keady, County Armagh, Northern
Ireland. His mother, Sarah Makem, was a legendary folk singer
whom the American song collector and folk singer Jean Richie,
among other musical folklorists, visited to collect traditional

Mr. Makem made his stage debut in his hometown at the age of 5,
singing “The Little Beggarman.” Like many in his family, he
emigrated to New Hampshire to apply skills learned in Irish linen
mills to that state’s cotton mills. His factory career ended when
a broken piece of machinery landed on his hand, requiring several

His uncle took him to New York in 1956 for the St. Patrick’s Day
parade, at which he met two of the Clancy brothers, Paddy and
Tom. He already knew Liam Clancy, who soon returned from Ireland
and joined the group. After one of their first appearances, Pete
Seeger, the folk singer, and Alan Lomax, the folklorist and
musicologist, encouraged them. Bob Dylan, in the early days of
his career, solicited songwriting tips from Mr. Makem.

All of the group’s members aspired to act, and some, including
Mr. Makem, achieved modest success, but by 1956 they were
committed to music. They recorded their first album that year in
the Bronx in the kitchen of Kenny Goldstein, a prominent
folklorist. After two more albums for Tradition Records,
including one of drinking songs that became a cult favorite, they
signed the $100,000 deal with John Hammond of Columbia Records,
famous for discovering Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday and Aretha
Franklin, among others.

Mr. Makem left the Clancy Brothers on amicable terms in 1969 to
have a solo act. In 1975 he joined with Liam Clancy to form a duo
that lasted until 1988. Mr. Makem then resumed work as a solo

In reviewing a music festival on Randalls Island in The Times in
1999, the critic Neil Strauss praised Mr. Makem’s rendition of
his own “Four Green Fields,” calling it “the hallowed Irish
leave-us-alone-with-our-beauty ballad.”

“Audience members pumped their hands in the air and sang in
spellbound unison,” Mr. Strauss wrote.

Mr. Makem also wrote books and prepared and narrated television
shows on Ireland’s history. For many years he owned Tommy Makem’s
Irish Pavilion, a restaurant and bar in Manhattan. Despite this
and the many drinking songs he lustily performed, he did not
drink alcohol.

Mr. Makem’s wife, the former Mary Shanahan, died in 2001. He is
survived by his daughter, Catherine Makem-Boucher; his sons,
Shane and Conor of Dover, and Rory of Amesbury, Mass., who are
all three performers; and a granddaughter.

When Mr. Makem arrived at Logan International Airport in Boston
in 1955, he carried a makeshift suitcase, a pair of bagpipes and
an X-ray of his lungs to prove he did not have tuberculosis, he
said in an interview with The Associated Press last year. The
customs agent told him, “Have a great life.”

More than a half-century later, Mr. Makem declared, “I took him
at his word.”


At the Crossroads

Speaking In Irish Tongues

By Peter Linebaugh

A Review Of How The Irish Invented Slang By Daniel Cassidy

Ivan Illich told us that grammars and dictionaries were part of
the project of nationalism and the formation of the nation-state.
Certainly for many of us the first dictator we came across was
the elementary school English teacher who'd tell us what we could
and couldn't say. She was followed by those grown-up authorities
who shut up our first glimmer of intellect with the command to
look it up in the Dictionary. After years of such education and
only after repeated prostrations in the temple of correct
language we at last were permitted entry into the sanctuary of
words itself, the Oxford English Dictionary (1857-1928), the
empire of language, with its universal and totalitarian
pretensions. Centralized, enclosed in its many volumes, or
microscopically printed so that a magnifying glass is required
for simple legibility. Human communication was reduced to a
crystal ball in which a fantastic universe of quotations seemed
to swim about in the lens. Inasmuch as print unless given tongue
is dead, it was dead.

Moreover there were other universes of words, the world of work
being the main one, so the OED was answered by the six volumes of
Thomas Wright's English Dialect Dictionary (1898), so that those
scholars interested in working-class consciousness would have a
place to go, otherwise when asked in Coventry to pass the
"Birmingham screwdriver" you might overlook the hammer. For the
Americans it wasn't just trade talk; the independent nation
required its own literature, its own dictionaries, but could it
be both postcolonial and imperial? This was the problem facing
H.L. Mencken.

For the white supremacist, slave languages were beyond the pale.
Hence, the Black Atlantic. Here the mother continent in African
American voices, lexicon, rhythms, which, representing a whole
realm of struggle, we summarize in the 13th and 14th amendments.
"Beyond the pale" refers to the palings, or the fencing, which
English conquerors of Queen Elizabeth I's time drove into the
ground to stake out the 'mere Irish' from their own bogs and
hills and woods and earth: on one side, English spoken, on the
other, the Gaeltacht. Like fences everywhere, however, there were
ditches, trees, and holes to get under, over, or through, and the
less known about them the better. So not just the noble 'wild
geese' fled Ireland with their aristocratic manuscripts,
melodies, and epics, but masses of others fled to build, clothe,
feed, and soldier for Angleterre. In addition to the urban and
rural infrastructure, they left an imprint in the English
language first noticed in the canting dictionaries of thieves'
talk where they remained to be thumbed only in the magistrate's
night court.

In America there wasn't even this. According to Mencken, there
wasn't anything, apart from "speakeasy", "shillelah", and
"smithereens", as if drinking, fighting, and destroying was all
there was to Irish. He forgot talking. He too found himself
dumbfounded by the post-Famine generation, unable to recognize
either Irish eloquence in English or the Irish silences
accompanying English atrocity and trauma. Scholars estimate that
between one fourth and one third of the post-Famine emigrants
spoke Irish, and another fourth were the children of Irish
speakers. At the same time authority and experience seemed to
conspire in Ireland to say English was the language of modernity.
Except for the scholarly connoisseur, the Irish language seemed
finished, and the Irish speaker consigned to a pre-modern

This now will change thanks to Daniel Cassidy's amazing
dictionary. The efflorescence of Irish-American cultural studies
which has taught us (referring to a couple of other books) how
the Irish saved civilization or how the Irish became white, has
now explained How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language
of the Crossroads (2007). Cassidy's entries are often little
essays of social history expressed in caustic wit and erudition,
similar to the work of those other people's lexicographers of the
San Francisco Bay, Iain Boal and Ambrose Bierce.

James Joyce identified three responses to the twin imperialisms
of Crown and Church; silence and exile we knew, but now thanks to
Cassidy we can now understand the third, cunning. The repressed
has returned not to England or to Ireland but to America without
our even knowing it. Irish language resides in our slang, the
living language, not in the philological traditions of academic
study. The vigor, the muscle, the wit, the force of American
language comes from this slang, slang itself an Irish word. That
bad English we were forbidden to speak in school, those bad words
that formerly were not found in any dictionary, those words like
slang itself whose OED etymology only says "a word of cant
origin, the ultimate source of which is not apparent" is shown in
mirthful page after page to be nothing less than Irish.

Under the postcolonial order much is inverted. Correct English,
the King's English, becomes the slang of prigs who write essays
and histories, the wonks who peddle hokum, the scribblers who
pass off bunkum. All those academics who took the linguistic turn
didn't really go anywhere except it circles. They didn't speak
differently or say anything or talk to new people. Pretty much
the same ol' same ol'. The ruler on the palm. Standing in the

The diction of the faro table, the dealer's talk at poker, the
petitions to the ward-heeler, the tally talk at the turf or the
ring, the sound of the rag and jazz is the Irish language in
America. It is at the cross roads, between continents, between
country and city, across physics and metaphysics, it is the
authentic talk - the razz, the razzamatazz, the malarkey, the
baloney, the yacking and the yelling and hollering. Holy Cow! Gee
Whiz! Hot Diggity! Holy Mackerel! Hot Dog! It is the talk of the
19th century American cities, themselves the consequences of the
post-Famine condition - New York, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans,
San Francisco. It is the lexicon of the working stiff; both
longshoremen and the shape-up explain that it is the frontier
language, the border talk, between land and sea, the cross roads.
And for a working class contribution not much beats free eats.

If it was an English speaker who said there's no free lunch,
surely it was an Irish one who gave us lunch. On the one hand the
Irish distrusts extravagance or b.s. and is quick to spot a
phoney or name a wanker or a twerp or a nincumpoop, a hick or a
jerk. On the other hand it is capable of all the malarkey and
baloney you'll ever need. It supplies 'fighting words,' the
pigeon, the sap, the punk, the mug, and the puss, and follow them
with a wallop, a slug. And it'll keep you in stitches, going
helter-skelter, in a generalized hilarity of the giggle from the
proletarian quarters. I'm talking the shack or the shanty, the
slum in other words. To get out of trouble you can skip, or
scram, scoot, or skidoo. As for style, for something swank or
swell, you'll find it here. The slob and the slacker won't find
the knack, but maybe a gimmick, for finding the jack or the

If you grew up in a big American city you can't help smiling with
this book, the inward smiles of recognition and verification. The
book is essential to reading James Farrell, Eugene O'Neill, or
Pete Hamill, and belongs on every writer's reference shelf. The
whole jargon of the city-desk, the arena, the wharf, the street-
corner, detention hall, not to mention the joint, is here. When
Seamus Heaney gave his Nobel prize lecture in 1995 he referred to
the power to make "an order as true to the impact of external
reality and as sensitive to the inner laws of the poet's being."
We find this in slang, for here is that cunning which permitted
survival following communal trauma, and found a cunning
articulacy in the oppressor's language.

The parents of Finley Peter Dunne -- his mother was from co.
Kilkenny -- came over after the Famine. His fictive Irish
stereotype, Mr Dooley, explained, "A constitootional ixicative,
Hinissey, is a ruler who does as he damn pleases an' blames th'
people." And so it has been with English and slang, until now.

Peter Linebaugh teaches history at the University of Toledo. The
London Hanged and (with Marcus Rediker) The Many-Headed Hydra:
the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. His essay on
the history of May Day is included in Serpents in the Garden. He
can be reached at:

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