The Strangling of Ireland

An Appeal to British Women
BY
A British Woman.

OUR RESPONSIBILITY.

It is a pity that every British woman — Welsh, Scottish, and English — cannot go to Ireland and see for herself the abomination of British rule there. This cannot be. But ignorance of the facts cannot be accepted as an excuse for indifference. Quite enough has been published in all reputable newspapers to show British women that what the Government calls “law and order” in Ireland is in fact “anarchy and terrorism.” The whole world is looking on in disgusted horror. Irish men and women can and will accept no plea of ignorance. British women, unless they stand out for justice and humanity in Ireland, will be branded before the world, and in the long memories of the Irish people, as callous or cruel, deaf to the call of liberty, narrow-minded, and slothful. If we keep silence, we tacitly condone the atrocities ordered or allowed by our Government. If we support the Government we are guilty in the first degree.

Great Britain has for centuries ruled Ireland by force against the will of the enormous majority of the people. This, no doubt, is one of the reasons of our indifference to the wrongs of Ireland. They are so old! But every generation in turn is responsible for the wrongs done in its time, and the horror of wrong for which we, now living, are responsible in Ireland has never been surpassed. What is the state of affairs?

TERRORISM.

There have been many repetitions of sacking, looting, arson, and murder during the centuries of British rule in Ireland, but never worse than what has taken place during the past two years, with ever-increasing violence, culminating in the burning down of a large portion of Cork’s main street, its Town Hall, and Carnegie Library.

These atrocities, which remind all who visit Ireland of the devastated regions in France or Belgium, are carried out by the Forces of the Crown, sometimes soldiers, more often “Black and Tans” and “Cadets.”

A few quotations from first-hand witnesses will show the effects:—

(1) From County Cork. “The military lorries drew up at her door (terrifying visit in the dead of night): ‘Open your bloody door or we will smash it in,’ they shouted. She had a baby 2 days old, and had had a very bad confinement. They hammered and shouted till she got up (it may kill her and the baby); then they burst in. After all, they didn’t find anything…. Numbers of similar raids took place that night, and the women and children are so terrified that they are putting up little canvas huts, like Esquimaux, out in the open, and say they won’t sleep in their houses any more…. Women expecting babies in Mallow (where I have been lately), having to fly up the hills, half-palsied with terror, their houses burning behind them, a hailstorm of bullets flying around them, will surely give birth to idiots. The effects of this Terror will be felt for generations.”

(2) From Lahinch. A woman, whose house was bombed without any warning, then sprayed with petrol and set alight, escaped in the night with her husband and baby and old aunt.” Mary,” the child, “awoke coming down the stairs, but was too terrified to cry. The poor little thing. I will never forget the grip she caught of me, and ever since she is so frightened that she cries whenever she loses sight of me. We never stopped until we reached the middle of the sand hills. About halfway down, Aunt Nora, whose heart is not at all good, gave up, and Joe had to practically carry her. We spent three and a-half hours lying flat on the wet grass in our nightdresses…. They dragged poor old Dan Lehan out of his bed, brought him out on the hill, and, in the presence of his poor wife, shot him in the head, because he wouldn’t tell where his sons were. At that time poor Pake (one of Lehan’s sons) was burned alive in Flanagan’s house…. We were certain that Auburn House would be the next place they would attack, and, knowing that mother slept in the front of the house, we feared that she was burned in her bed. Mother also suffered terrible agony, for she believed that we were burned alive. They knocked at the doors, and gave the people from four to seven minutes to escape in every house they burned except ours…. Poor mother! She never had any comfort or pleasure in this life. She worked early and late, slaved when other people were in their beds to make a comfortable home for us and now it is all gone.”

(3) From Mrs. M. “I was surely more than thankful to you for your kindness, and it was the welcome gift for them, but I have very sad news to tell you. I was only two days at home when our house and all we had was burnt to the ground, and gave us no shelter on the roadside. They did not give me time to put a stitch on myself or the children, but turned us out bare naked, and burnt all ever we had in the dead of night. They even took away all our fowl, and cautioned me they would kill my husband. May the Lord have pity on us….. I am homeless for ever, in poverty and want, and our way of living done away with.

IRISHWOMEN AND NURSE CAVELL.

In appealing to women, however, one does not need to assume that women feel only the wrongs and griefs of women. They have indignation and sorrow for the wrongs and griefs of men, too, and in Ireland the women are one with the men of their blood, and desire no separation from them. In a recent manifesto they declare “We rank with the world’s bravest our men who fight against tremendous odds in face of the resources of an Empire. We glory in their heroism under torture and in their deeds of valour in the field. We know that Ireland’s honour is safe in their hands.” English women will understand that.

The recent proclamation of Martial Law in the South and South-West of Ireland has roused the indignation of Irish Women, more particularly in that it threatens with death any person harbouring any person who has taken part in the insurrection. As if any Irish woman would refuse to “harbour” her son or her husband! Indeed, there are countless Irish women who would feel proud to “harbour” any fellow countryman who was in hiding from British pursuit. And can we British women blame them, or wish them to do otherwise? Are they not doing for their soldiers precisely what Nurse Cavell did for ours?

IRISHWOMEN’S PRAYER FOR ENGLAND.

Yet there is wonderfully little hatred in the Irish people. They hate our tyranny, not us. If we would give them freedom they are ready to give us comradeship. Just before Armistice Day, Dr. Kathleen Lynn and a number of other Irishwomen appealed to their fellow countrymen and women to observe that day throughout the country by united prayer for England:—

“On that day,” they wrote, “as England remembers the dead who died for the freedom of small nations — thousands of whom were Irishmen — who died believing that in so doing England would redeem her pledge to free their country, the pledge made to Irish recruits who rallied to England’s aid in the hour of her extremity—

“Pray — That her eyes may be opened to the iniquities being perpetrated daily in Ireland by her armed forces.
“That she may repent of her evil ways and by Divine mercy be shown what is right, and given both grace and courage to follow it.

“Our ecclesiastical leaders are unanimous in declaring that only prayer can now avail to bring peace to our persecuted country. Therefore, let us join together in prayer for our persecutors and those who hate us, and assuredly a great blessing will come to our beloved country.”

Let British women respond to this prayer with a generous impulse. Let them hold out hands to their Irish sisters. Let them throw off the ugly name of “persecutors,” and declare with a will that

There Shall be Peace in Ireland!

Every single woman can do her bit by keeping herself informed of what is going on in Ireland and telling people about it. Our ignorance is our shame. She should point out how all these abominations are the direct consequences of trying to govern a nation against its will, and she should use her vote and all her influence to secure the return of a Government which will give to Ireland

Self-Determination.

Printed by the Co-operative Printed Society Limited, Tudor Street, London, E.C.4.
Published by the Labour Party, 33, Eccleston Square, London, S.W.1. [MM.— 1.19.21.]

Source: University of Warwick Library – Digital Collections