Click here for Index

Searc's Web Guide to 20th Century Ireland - Liam Mellows (1895-1922)

Liam Mellows was born and educated in County Galway where he joined Na Fianna, the republican boys movement, founded by Constance Markievicz.
In 1915 he was arrested under the Defence of the Realm Act and interned for four months in Mountjoy Gaol, Dublin. On his release Mellows went 'on the run' but was arrested in Galway in early 1916, deported to England and interned in Reading Gaol from where he escaped. He returned to Ireland to command the Western Division of the IRA during the 1916 Easter Rising. Mellows escaped to America where he was imprisoned without trial in The Tombs, New York on a charge of partaking in an Irish-German plot to sabotage the allied forces during World War I. He was released in 1918 and went on a lecture tour of America, collecting money for the IRA before returning to Ireland in 1919. Mellows became IRA Director of Supplies during the War of Independence. He opposed the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty and on June 25th, 1922 he and fellow republicans, Rory O'Connor, Joseph McKelvey and Dick Barrett, among others took over the Dublin Four Courts. They were bombarded from a gunboat on the River Liffey which the Free State had borrowed from the British Army and, after two days, they surrendered. They were imprisoned in Mountjoy Gaol where Mellows and O'Connor contributed to a hand-written notebook of short stories, poems and articles dated October 26th, 1922 and entitled 'The Book of Cells'.
On December 8th, 1922 Mellows, O'Connor, McKelvey and Barrett were executed by Free State firing squad, allegedly as a reprisal for the shooting of Sean Hales. Mellows' article from 'The Book of Cells' entitled 'The People's Republic' is published here for the first time.©

Liam Mellows

Liam Mellows (1895-1922)
The Irish Labour party held a large demonstration in Dublin to protest against 'militarism', that is against the Volunteer soldiers who were standing in defence of the Republic against British Imperialism and its dupes in Ireland. The Irish labour party did not define its attitude to British militarism when the 'Treaty' was forced down the throats of weak-kneed Republican deputies under the threat of 'immediate and terrible war'. The 'Treaty' was accepted by those deputies and their followers 'under duress'. The Irish Labour party, swollowing all its pretention to be a revisionist body out for a 'Worker's Republic', has also accepted the 'Treaty' and is now working cheek-by-jowl with the imperialist and capitalist groups in Ireland through the Free State's so called parliament in an attempt to crush the Irish Republic in blood.
And the means at their disposal for the new military have been given them by the British Government. The Irish Labour party talked glibly of a Worker's Republic. It still pretends to have as its objective the establishment of such a state. Veiled threats of 'a big stick' it intends to wield some day are thrown out for the credulous. Professing to be against militarism its leaders try to delude the movement into believing that a some future date they will head a revolution.
Labour played a tremendous part in the establishment and maintenance of the Republic. Its leaders had it in their power to fashion that Republic as they wished - to make it a Worker's and Peasants Republic. By their acceptance of the 'Treaty' and all that it connotes - recognition of the British monarchy, British Privvy Council and British Imperialism; Partition of the country and subservience to British capitalism - they have betrayed not alone the Irish Republic but the labour movement in Ireland and the cause of the workers and peasants throughout the world.
It is a fallacy to believe that a Republic of any kind can be won through the shackled Free State. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. The Free State is British created and serves British Imperialist interests. It is the buffer erected between British Capitalism and the Irish Republic.
A Worker's Republic can be erected only on its ruins. The existing Irish Republic can be made the Worker's and Peasants Republic if the labour movement is true to the ideals of James Connolly and true to itself.
The Irish republic represents Independence and the struggle has a threefold significance. It is political; it is intellectual; it is economic. It is political in the sense that it means complete separation from England and the British Empire. It is intellectual in as much as it represents the cultural expression of the Gaelic civilisation and the removal of the impress of English speech and English thought upon the Irish character. It is economic because the wresting of Ireland from the grip of English capitalism can leave no thinking Irishman with the desire to build up and perpetuate this country an economic system that had its roots in foreign domination.
Ireland does not want a change of master. It would be folly to destroy English tyranny in order to erect a domestic tyranny that would need another revolution to free the people. The Irish Republic stands therefore for the ownership of Ireland by the people of Ireland. It means that the means and process of production must not be used for the profit or aggrandisment of any group or class.
Ireland has not yet become industrialized. It never will if in rejecting and casting off British Imperialism (and its offspring the Free State and Northern Parliaments) the Irish workers insist that a native imperialism does not replace it. If the Irish people do not control Irish industries, transport, money and the soil of the country then foreign or domestic capitalists will. And whoever controls the wealth of a country and the processes by which wealth is attained, controls also its government.
Ireland, if her industries and banks were controlled by foreign capital, would be at the mercy of every breeze that ruffled the surface of the world's money-markets. If social capitalism flourished a social war such as now threatens practically every country in Europe would ensue. Ireland therefore must start with a clean slate. The Irish Republic is the People's Republic.
Searc's Web Guide 1997-2008

20th Century Ireland (1917-1923)    History Index
    Can't find what you're looking for? Check out our Research Services
© Copyright 1997-2008