Friday, December 06, 2019



The document reproduced below is a manuscript found among Jon's papers when States of Jersey Police (SOJP) finally raided his house. It is being published in the public interest. The whereabouts of Jon and Stella are not known at this time. If you spot them please do not approach them but get in touch with SOJP on our confidential line.

Among Jon's papers there is also what appears to be an employment contract with a Chief of Police. Readers will remember that Graham Power's contract went missing at a critical point in Graham's career. The content of this, and other official documents found among Jon's papers, cannot be revealed for what is called in Jersey's antiquated French legal system "Raison d'État".

An SOJP diving team has been dispatched to Devil's Hole.



Oh Stella you are my desire
I love you day and night
With such a strong intensity
I know it can't be right

You thrill me to my very core
Till you and I are drained
I wake up in the morning
With every muscle strained

And then I see your lovely shape
And I want more and more
But you are drained and empty
So I must go to the store.

You are there in abundance
Upon the highest shelf
All quiet and seductive
Awaiting my good self

I always come and get you
At the break of every day
And you come home to pleasure me
In your own special way

By noon I've lost my senses
And I'm raring fit to go
And troll and troll the bloggers
And others that I know.

I'll start with Voice for Children
Because he knows my style
And then go on to Póló
Who's far from this fair Isle

There's Bankrupt Baldy Pitman
Who's come back from the dead
He's blogging from the UK
And doing in my head

But they will try to stop me
From saying my own piece
So I will just report them
To the States of Jersey Police

I've got friends in high places
Who always take my side
Though sometimes they're not happy
To go for the full ride

Then I'll pick up the telephone
And make the fatal call
To tell those vermin bloggers
That I'll murder one and all.

I've taken care of Syvret
Through our own Bergerac
Whose daughter Emma helped me
To put him on the rack

We knocked him off the web, we did
With trumped up bits of paper
And with The Nurse called up the curse
My Lordy, what a caper

So now with Stella at my side
I'll troll and troll and troll
Until it's time for us to plunge
Right down The Devil's Hole

You can catch up on the vile nature of Jon's comments in an earlier post of mine.

Monday, December 02, 2019


It's not that it was an anniversary or anything. I just wondered what year had I started blogging and how many posts I might have done.

I am blogging under two accounts, Photopol, my main one, and Benny The Bridgebuilder which I started up as a vehicle for religion-related posts that I wanted to keep separate.


PHOTOPOL - 885 posts

My main Photopol blog is Photopol. This should be clear from the totals. It is based on my website of the same name, one suggested by Nora. The two elements are Photo (I take photos) and Pol (the Irish language version of my name).

CNAGAIRE - 127 posts

I used to do both English and Irish language posts on the same blog, but when I entered an Oireachtas competition for blogging in Irish in 2008 I set up a separate blog for the purpose and have kept that since for any posts I do in Irish.

BRUGES (BRUGGE) - 18 posts

In 2018 I visited Brugge to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our graduation with my classmates from 1968. I took hundreds of photos and decided to display them, with commentary, in a separate blog.


In 1968, in keeping with the custom at the time, I compiled a class yearbook and sent it back to the College. There has not been sight or sound of it since. It just vanished into thin air.

So I decided, in the 50th anniversary year, to assemble a blog record of my year at the College. I had hundreds of my own negatives and some photos taken by other students, all of which I scanned. I had fun arranging the most relevant of these into themes and posting them, with commentary, into a separate blog.


Finally, I had been posting on Photopol on the child sexual abuse scandal in Jersey since about 2011. I had also been commenting on a number of Jersey blogs which were tackling this issue.

A fellow commenter, Leigh LaFon (@Denverelle) suggested that, in the light of my comments, I might do some posts summarily outlining the situation in Jersey as background to then current developments. She felt that these could then form points of reference for those coming newly to the scene.

I did a number of posts on Jersey on my main blog but copied them to Introducing Jersey for the convenience of readers who might be interested only in Jersey. As these are copies, I have not counted them in the total.


And finaly just for the sake of completeness under Photopol, my extensive website. ]]


BULLS - 28 posts

I started this blog, for religion-related posts, two years after Cardinal Ratzinger, Head of the CDF/Inquisition, became Pope Benedict XVI.

The title Bulls refers to Papal Bulls and Benny the Bridgebuilder picks up on Benedict and Pontifex (bridge builder).

The blog started in 2007 but at the end of 2011 Blogger/Google deleted it for infringing their rules. This turned out to be a misunderstanding over some html code which I have detailed here.


When Bulls was deleted, as well as trying to get it back, I set up a new blog in its place. I was so taken with the new blog template and title that I decided to keep it instead of updating Bulls when I eventually got it back.

As an altar boy in my youth I was very familiar with the phrase Dominus Vobiscum and as we were then approaching the International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Dublin I added in the Host and came up with Dominusvobiscuit. In case you end up looking at it I should explain that a Department in the Curia is known as a Dicastery.



I joined Twitter in 2009 under the name Irlpol. The family joined around the same time with names Irl + name.

I find Twitter a very useful tool for following developments, expressing a point of view on a current matter, bringing worthy tweets to the attention of others, and linking to my blog posts.


I have two other Twitter account which I use very occasionally for (clean) fun.

Saturday, November 30, 2019


As far as I know this is an unusual setting for a Hedge School. They've been held in the National Library's HQ in Kildare St., but this is the Library's National Photo Archive in Temple Bar.

At this time, it is a wholly appropriate location as the School's theme is An inconvenient truth? Sexual violence and the Irish Revolution while the current exhibition in the Archive is From Terror to Truce, a stunning visual chronicle of the brutality of the War of Independence 1919-21.

The Gods were clearly smiling on us on the night, as, due to a farmers' protest, Kildare St. was closed off by the Garda and its not clear if our tickets for the event would have got us through the cordon.

l-r Linda Connolly, Tommy Graham, Lindsey Earner-Byrne, Brian Hanley

As usual Tommy's line up was impressive. Each of the panel had their own relevant area of expertise and they were all old hands at effectively participating in discussion.

Tommy Graham

Tommy is the Master and lays down the rules. He is also editor of the excellent periodical History Ireland which he reminded us was on sale at a discount at the back.

Having recently bought a full price copy in the local shop, I was tempted to ask for a refund, but I let it pass.

The Hedge School format is interesting. It is a variation on the usual panel presentation where each panelist would do a presentation followed by an individual or a general Q&A.

In Tommy's version there is interaction from the word go as he quizzes and cross-quizzes the contributors on their "homework" and invites audience participation from the outset.

Linda Connolly

Linda has been studying sexual violence against women for many years now. She acknowledged the increasing availability of sources, such as the BMH Witness Statements and the Military Pensions records, but, surprisingly, said that there were still other archives that she was campaigning to have opened.

As Tommy kept reminding us, she has an extensive article in the current issue of History Ireland, under the same title as this session, which covers sexual violence against women in both the War of Independence and the Civil War and the reaction of the authorities at the time.

There is that same tension that we see today between justice for victims and protecting the good name of the institution concerned.

It is not possible, at this stage, to determine the full extent of the sexual violence involved in these two conflicts, but what is known is horrific and the victims, often as not, have ended up in psychiatric institutions, reminding us that the lasting damage to victims is more mental/emotional than physical.

And there are also consequences for the perpetrators. Sometimes, though rarely, these have involved formal reaction by the authorities, but only when they were pushed into it, and it usually didn't lead to much, on the surface at least.

But it is probably fair to assume that there were eventual psychological effects for the perpetrators, though perhaps not as severe as those suffered by members of the Squad as a result of their performance on Bloody Sunday and subsequently in Oriel House.

Much of this has to be speculative as the majority of sexual attacks will have gone unreported or perhaps have just been known locally. The culture of shame of the time means that we will never know the full extent of this though bits and scraps will continue to surface.

Lindsey Earner-Byrne

Sometimes information lurks where you're not expecting it. Lindsey was not chasing up the revolutionary period as such. She was researching diocesan records for a study on poverty.

Suddenly, in the middle of the correspondence of the Archbishop of Dublin, she found a begging letter from Mary M who had been raped, became pregnant, and handed her baby son over to a Catholic rescue agency for adoption.

She lived in Moate, Co. Westmeath, and the agency were now telling her that she needed to pay twenty pounds to have her son adopted. Failing this he would be returned to her in Moate. Were this to happen her secret would be out and she'd be shamed locally. So she was asking the Archbishop for help. The Archbishop was sympathetic and send her a large sum of money.

The point, in the current context, is that this case did not turn up in the military archives and, had Lindsey not stumbled across it, it would not have come to light in the context of revolutionary sexual violence.

You can see the connection to revolutionary sexual violence, in Mary's own account of what happened, in her letter to the Archbishop.
During the Political trouble when looting and robbing & raiding were carried on to such an extent in our country district my trouble began. In January 1923 a party of men armed to the teeth & calling themselves Republicans forced their entrance into our house where in three people resided. My Aunt who is totally blind and is over 70 years, my Uncle 70 and I their neice an orphan. The object of their visit was money or lives. When I strove to save my Aunt from being dragged from her bed and they were furious when they did not get money one brute satisfied his duty passion on me. I was then in a dangerous state of health and thro’ his conduct I became Pregnant. Oh God could any pen describe what I have gone thro’.


Brian Hanley

Brian has studied this period in great depth and he brought the wider context into the discussion.

My own view is that there is still some way to go in fully understanding the period and accepting it as it was, warts and all, in contrast to the almost blanket silence that descended, in my schooldays, on anything after the Glorious Rising of 1916.

History of the War of Independence subsequently tended to become local or familial, until prodded back into national consciousness by events, the 1966 commemorations being significant in this regard.

There are some difficult issues coming up over then next few years as we commemorate, inter alia, the violence of the War of Independence and the Civil War.

The picture above is on the cover of the current issue of History Ireland and it is not without its own history. Tommy told us that it went through many toning down iterations following a series of focus meetings among the periodical's staff.

In a totally separate vein, I should mention that Tom Clonan had been billed as a fourth member of the panel but was unable to attend. When looking him up I was glad to see he was caught up in a reconciliation with the defence forces who had treated him so badly many years ago over his exposing the mistreatment of women in their ranks.

If you haven't yet been, do make a point of visiting the brilliant exhibition on the premises. It may go some way in preparing you for the roller-coaster ride ahead.

Friday, November 22, 2019


Click on any image for a larger version

This year it's not just Panto time in the theatre. An evocative recap of the history of panto in Dublin is on display in Pearse Street Library and Archive.

There's something here for all children, young and old. And for us oldies, it's great to see the familiar faces of all those actors who gave us such pleasure when we were (hopefully) growing up.

I didn't make the opening of this exhibition but my first question online to Conor Doyle, Jimmy O'Dea's nephew, was Have they included Geamaireachtaí na Nollag in Amharclann na Mainistreach?.

The answer came flying back, not only from Conor but from the organisers as well, Of course they did!.

When I finally got in to see the exhibition and check it out, I found they had not only mentioned the Irish language pantos, but had given them generous proportionate coverage.

It appears that these pantos ran from the mid 1940s to the mid 1960s. My experience of them would have been in the late 1950s through the early 1960s, and I had presumed they had been there since time immemorial and would continue for ever. I never realised until now that the window had been so small.

They were really a hoot. The actors let down their hair and adlibbed madly through a vaguely defined script. Each afternoon & night show was adapted to sections of the audience. School pupils came in their class loads and revelled in their teachers being pilloried from the stage, often in very personal and specific terms.

Sadly when Abbey actors were no longer required to have proficiency in Irish, the Geamaireachtaí died out.

The programme above is from the first Irish panto. I recognise the names of Siobhán McKenna (who went on to national and international fame), Máire Ní Dhomhnaill (whom I remember as an onstage dynamo) and Mícheál Ó Briain (who was still there in my day).

But that's enough of th'oul Irish for now.

Conor Doyle has assembled an extensive archive on the Theatre Royal. This is his father, Noel, and his auntie Ursula, Noel's sister.

Dublin City Archive has an extensive Theatre Archive with copious material from all of Dublin's theatres and from which today's exhibition is sourced.

Ursula acted and sang, and married Jimmy O'Dea who was known and loved by more than one generation of Irish children.

Photo: courtesy DCLA

Here's Conor with dad, Noel, and auntie Ursula at the opening of the exhibition.

I think finding the Mother Gooses was probably intended for the children, but find me the adultt who could resist it. I only found eight, not counting this one and the big one off screen to the right.

So, on reflection, maybe I did OK.

The Queen's Theatre in Pearse St. became the Abbey between 1951 when the original Abbey burned down and 1966 when the new Abbey opened. To me, this building was the Abbey throughout my school years.

But up to this period it was a separate theatre in its own right concentrating on melodrama and various other forms, including panto.

There is also a panel of famous face where I liked two in particular.

Welshman, Cecil Nash, who was once a neighbour in Ballybrack.

And Brendan Grace who never failed to make me laugh (even if he didn't read his own autobiography).

Also glad to see the cartoon genre getting some recognition.

Jack used to be resident in Butlin's holiday camp during the summer months with a show that was Persil clean and suitable for all ages.

Seeing Noel without his beard makes him look like an imposter.

There are also some glass case exhibits with programmes, a full size costume and this lovely mask.

And finally,



Click on any image for a larger version

A new exhibition has opened in the challenging space at the National Photographic Archive (NPA) in Temple Bar's Meeting House Square.

It is a stunning visual chronicle of the brutality of the War of Independence 1919-21.

Unlike many earlier exhibitions, this one in particular is advertised for its relevance to the school history curriculum. I wish it had been there in my day.

The exhibition is billed as an exploration of key aspects of the Irish War of Independence through 100-year-old photographs from the National Library collections, period newsreels, interactive exhibits, and an accompanying programme of panel discussions, events, and tours.

It is open Mon-Sat: 10am-4.45pm; Sunday 12 noon-4.45pm, and it will be there for the next few months.

The Launch

First speaker at the launch was Paul Shovlin, Chairman of the NLI Board of Directors. Although the exhibition was being mounted by his own institution he looked suitably overwhelmed and was enthusiastic in his invitation to all present to spread the word and to others to make sure not to miss this wonderful exhibition.

Sandra Collins is the Director of the National Library and, as well as remarking on some aspects of the exhibition and on the NLI's outreach programme, she made a point of individually thanking those who had contributed to this particular exhibition.

When you stand back from it, it's not surprising how many people had an input. Material had to be sourced from the NLI's collections (and elsewhere). Initial decisions had to be made on suitability and relevance with a particular eye to visual impact. Then there was reproduction and design, not just of "panels" but of the whole irregular and challenging exhibition space. And on through to final execution of the project as an integrated whole.

The exhibition was launched by ubiquitous historian, Diarmaid Ferriter. Diarmaid remarked on many aspects and I'll reference just a few.

He underlined the immediacy of imagery as opposed to the purely textual. The feeling that you are there really draws you in to the narrative.

I remember from my own schooldays that there was a distinct lack of the visual in the history curriculum. So much so that I was bowled over by George Morrison's Mise Éire, not just by the newsreels but by the camera roving over still scenes of evictions and of the physical destruction caused by the 1916 Rising.

Diarmaid also paid tribute to the "unencumbered" rank and file of young men who put their lives on the line in the cause. And we tend to remember them as mostly young men.

Happily the mist of invisibility over the vast numbers of women involved is fast being dispersed by modern researchers, and there are so many ordinary and extraordinary women now emerging into the limelight.

It is positively envigourating. And it will need a serious rewrite of our handed-down history.

Diarmaid referred to the Custom House Raid, the burning of the Custom House on 25 May 1921, which you can see behinds him, as something along the lines of an abject failure.

Having read Liz Gillis's excellent book on the subject, and listened to Dev's grandson's take on it, I would prefer to see it as a costly success.

Nikki Ralston, Breffni O'Malley, Carol Maddock

The exhibition team: Nikki and Carol have, yet again, done a great job curating the exhibition. And for those not familiar with the term, it involves a lot of hard work, from planning right through to the "opening night", to borrow a theatrical term and even then put it in quotes, as this exhibition was launched at 11:30 in the morning. Got me out of bed it did.

Breffni is the new Head of Exhibitions, Learning and Programming at NLI.

The Exhibition

This is the first thing that caught my eye as I entered the exhibition. It's almost a metre high, so there's no way you'd miss it coming up to a military checkpoint.

But it didn't take me back the full hundred years, only nearly half way to Aughnacloy British Military Checkpoint during the troubles. This was generally manned on the ground by very young, nervous, hair-trigger soldiers, and that often in the dark of night. I take Diarmaid's point about images.

Coming back to the burning of the Custom House, part of the high cost of the operation that I referred to was the life of cousin Peggy's friend, Stephen O'Reilly, and that of his brother Patrick. These were two of the five Volunteers killed in the event. They are named on Yann Goulet's memorial monument in the grounds of the building.

This photo of the two O'Reilly brothers is in the exhibition, though I only spotted it on a second visit on 26/11/2019. Stephen is at bottom right.

This panorama photo stretches right across the wall at the back of the exhibition. It is of a mixed group, civilians and arms-presenting soldiers at Dublin Castle. It is annotated to identify certain figures of interest to IRA Intelligence.

The caption reads: Marked men at Dublin Castle as identified by IRA Intelligence.

The photo was put up on the NLI's crowd-sourced Flickr account and this brought forth information about the location and further details on the Auxiliary John Edward de Casmaker.

Two RIC/DMP Superintendents.

I don't know what, if anything, might have happened to these two guys but Casmaker survived not only the War of Independence but WWII as a flying officer. He died in 1971.

Thanks to Dubliner, Sharon Corbet for referring us (NLI & me) to this information.

Upstairs, the balcony is given over to pictures relating to Terence Mac Swiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, who died on hunger strike in Brixton Prison on 25 October 1920.

These include the cover of a special supplement with the French newspaper Le Petit Journal on 19 September 1920. That day was the 28th day of Mac Swiney's hunger strike. The picture shows Mac Swiney with his confessor Fr. Dominic in Brixton Prison.

As Diarmaid Ferriter told us earlier, it was not known at that time how long a person could survive on hunger strike and 28 days was beyond expectations. Mac Swiney lasted 74 days and Le Petit Journal carried an extensive report on its front page the day following his death.

You can see above the prominence the paper gave to Mac Swiney's death. You can read the full report here.

This partial scan of the paper's front page is not in the exhibition. But I'm dwelling on this newspaper as I am aware that it gave extensive, including pictorial, coverage to Ireland during the War of Independence. I keep coming across illustrations from it in my reading.

In its opening paragraphs, the report tells us that Mac Swiney was surreptitiously fed spoonfuls of gravy (jus de viands) during the final phase of his hunger strike despite his earlier refusal and insistence that this would be a form of violence. Given the earlier force feeding of the suffragettes, it is not clear what might have gone on in earlier phases of this hunger strike.

As Diarmaid also stressed, this was as much a propaganda war as a physical one. The Irish side were very aware of this and had an extensive network of agents spreading their message around the world.

The photo above shows Muriel Mac Sweeney, Terence's widow, giving evidence to the American Commission on Conditions in Ireland in Washington DC in December 1920.
I hope you will all help us with our Republic, because that is what my husband lived and died for ... the chief thing is for Ireland to get her freedom.

There is a panel on fake news, including false attribution of photos by the British. This brings home to us that there is nothing new under the sun even if the name changes down the years.

The exhibition is effectively bilingual, and I'd like to use this item to comment more generally on the place of the Irish language in exhibitions by public bodies.

My feeling is that this has become a box ticking exercise in response to the demands of the Irish language lobby. In a nation bereft of monoglot Irish speakers, we have to ask ourselves what exactly is the value added by this practice.

Sure, it remind people, including foreign visitors, that the Irish language still exists, more or less. But beyond that, literal transcriptions of the English text add nothing to the exhibition and presumably involve an additional cost, however small.

If the obligation to present bilingually is to continue it is time for it to add value. I recently came across an example of this, however limited, at an exhibition on Jacob's biscuits in Pearse St. library. There the Irish versions of the English language headings conveyed the meaning but with slant that conveyed something extra.

Why then, if there is to be Irish text, not let it be independent of the English. There are many occasions when Irish speakers will have a different slant on things and will be engaged by different resonances. This might even lead to people becoming curious and learning a bit of it.

Nuff said.

The exhibition also showed some very interesting newsreels from the period.

What you see above is not the result of an eviction in the West of Ireland. This is the sack of Balbriggan:
On Monday 21 September 1920 during the night the Black and Tans sacked the town of Balbriggan in County Dublin, Ireland. The sacking was revenge for the killing of District Inspector Burke and his brother Sergeant Burke, who were shot dead by the IRA while in Smyth’s pub, Balbriggan earlier in the day.


There is also newsreel footage of internment camps on the island of Ireland. The internees here are clearly claiming POW (or political) status though most will probably not have been caught on the field of battle.

The Soldier in the Stairwell is an imaginative addition to the use of the exhibition space - not an inch wasted. To add to the fun, he disintegrates as you mount the stairs.

Not forgetting the women, these members of Cumann na mBan are assembled outside Mountjoy Prison on spiritual combat duty on the day of an execution.

I said this was a challenging exhibition space, but when you get it right the effect can be dramatic, as with the Cumann na mBan women on the outside of the balcony wall.

The curators are, by now, well up to speed on the best use of the space, though there's always room for little surprises, like the soldier on the stairwell.


So it's on to people, and I'll let you have fun figuring out who they are.

And before I was formally ejected, I managed to shoot the photographer.

Don't forget, the door will remain open for the next few months.

Some previous exhibitions at the NPA
A Modern Eye
From Ballots to Bullets
Photo Detectives