MB once read an article on Ireland by an English travel writer. The writer described Ireland as the country with the greatest abundance of history per square mile on the entire planet. In the opinion of MB, the description is probably true.
MB wants to tell you a tale this week from almost one hundred years back from his homeland. MB has ulterior motives for telling the tale, which will be informed in a subsequent post. But for now he requests that you just stick with it.
George Clancy was born in the HX townland of Grange towards the tail-end of the nineteenth century, in the year 1895; only a short spit across the river from the family home & farm of MB. George was known to family and friends by the Irish Gaelic version of his name – Seoirse (pronounced – ‘shore-sha’). Seoirse became involved in anti-British Rule politics in his college years and was heavily involved in the Irish war of independence which took place between the years 1916 to 1921. In February of 1921, Seoirse was elected Lord Mayor of Limerick, the local city & third city of Ireland.
During the months preceding the below-detailed events, the home of George Clancy had been raided on a number of occasions by British forces. Those forces included amongst their number members of the Black & Tan Regiment of the British army, who were sent to Ireland to lend some backbone and ferocity to British military efforts to put down the militant movement for Irish independence. The B&Ts gained a deserved reputation for wanton violence and murder, which, of course, had the opposite effect on the native population than the one intended.
Following a number of night-time raids on the Clancy home in late 1920 and early 1921, another raid followed on the night of 06 March. The following account of that particular raid was recounted by George’s wife Maire in later years to the Irish Bureau Of Military History:
“My father died on 4th March and was buried on Sunday 6th March. That night friends remained with us up to curfew hour, 10pm. Then we had family prayers and we chatted for a little while before going upstairs. Seoirse insisted that I should sleep in my mother’s room that night so that she might not be lonely. He came in with us and remained some time consoling her and trying to lighten her sorrow.
Before getting to bed I discovered that the candle in his room was still alight and I went in as I was anxious about him – he had a slight cold for some days. I found him awake reading Keating’s ‘Defence Of The Mass’ in Irish. He promised me that he would get to sleep quickly, so I wished him ‘Goodnight’ and left him. It was then midnight, and, though we did not know it, Joseph O’Donoghue was at that time dead and his murderers were making their way to Michael O’Callaghan’s house. When I got to bed I fell almost immediately into a deep sleep, for I was very tired and lacked sleep for over a week owing to my father’s illness and death.
About 1.30am a loud noise awakened me. I jumped up startled and asked what was the matter. My mother said, “Oh God, it is a raid, they are hammering at the door”. I got on my dressing gown and slippers, calling out to my husband as I did so, “Seoirse, I will answer the door”. He answered “No, Moll, I will” and went down the stairs ahead of me. “It’s all right Moll, only a raid”.
Before opening the door, he asked who was there and got the answer “Military”. I was just behind him at the foot of the stairs, and when he opened the door I saw three tall men wearing goggles with caps drawn well down over their faces and the collars of their coats turned up. Two stood at one side of the door and one at the other; one of the two held a flashlight. Even then I did not realise the murderous work they had come to do.
The man at the right asked “Are you Clancy”, pointing a revolver at Seoirse. My husband answered “Yes, I am” and stood straight in front of him. Then this man said “Come out here, we want you”. Seoirse asked “What for”? and the man said more loudly “Come outside”. “No I won’t” Seoirse answered, and stepped back a pace or two, opening the door still wider as he held the knob in his hand. The spokesman then stepped into the hall and shouted “Then take this”, and before I could move fired three shots at him. I then dashed between them screaming and trying to move Seoirse back and push the man away, but even as I did so, he emptied his revolver. I heard it all, seven shots.
The men then rushed off and banged the hall door, leaving me in the dark, as the candle Seoirse held had fallen and the gas was not lighted. I did not know then that I was wounded. I thought the sting I felt in my wrist was a blow I got in the struggle.
I groped about to find my husband but could not. Then I saw a door at the end of the hall and also a door beyond it leading to the yard were open. I called Seoirse by name and getting no answer I rushed round the yard still calling him but could not find him. I opened the gate leading into the garden and ran across to a friend’s house, falling many times on the way. I knocked at Mr Barry’s bedroom window and asked him to come and help me as my husband was shot and I could not find him.
I went back immediately and passing in through the gate I stumbled over my husband’s feet. He had fallen in the yard and I had passed out without seeing him. The maid, who was now up and dressed, came into the yard when she heard my cry on discovering him. Between us we tried to lift Seoirse up but failed as my hand was useless. I then discovered I was wounded and the blood was streaming from my wrist. I ran back again to Mr Barry and told him I could not lift Seoirse as I was wounded in the wrist. He was dressed by this time and came to me immediately, and with the help of the maid we lifted Seoirse into the kitchen. My aged mother had come downstairs in her night attire and had been wandering about the yard in her bare feet looking for Seorise and myself. She was a pitiable sight, with her poor feet covered with his blood and mine.
I then asked Ned – Mr Barry – to go for a priest, and he went off not knowing but that he himself might be shot on the way. I knelt beside Seoirse and tried to say the Act of Contrition in his ear – he was breathing very heavily but seemed unable to speak.
In a few minutes Canon O’Driscoll, who had prepared Seoirse’s mother for death, arrived and administered the last Sacraments to the pupil he had encouraged and taught at Bruff Seminary 25 years before. After this Seoirse opened his eyes and looked at me, then he looked at the Canon and back again at me. I was now faint from loss of blood so the Canon led me away just as Seoirse expired.
During this time another friend, Miss Renehan, had come in and had gone upstairs with my nearly demented mother, washed her feet and dressed her. At about half past two Canon O’Driscoll decided to go to the Strand Barracks and ask the military to phone a doctor as my arm was still bleeding and I was getting weaker. After a short time he came back accompanied by three military officers. From them he learned that Michael O’Callaghan had also been murdered. They said it was a dreadful occurrence and that they had phoned for Dr Dundon at Barrington’s who would be with me immediately………..”
The 2015 Rugby World Cup is presently approaching the latter stages. Ireland, unlike England, are still involved at the business end of the tournament and will play Argentina in the quarter-finals.
The Rugby World Cup Website lists the 12 referees selected from around the world to officiate at the competition. The following is the list in full, copied from the website:
“The full list of referees with their union and number of tests in brackets is: Wayne Barnes (RFU, 57), George Clancy (IRFU, 38), JP Doyle (RFU, 12), Jérôme Garcès (FFR, 22), Pascal Gauzere (FFR, 17), Glen Jackson (NZR, 10), Craig Joubert (SARU, 55), John Lacey (IRFU, 13), Nigel Owens (WRU, 60), Jaco Peyper (SARU, 20), Romain Poite (FFR, 39) and Chris Pollock (NZR, 18).”
One of the two Irish referees included in the twelve is one 38-year-old George Clancy from HX. George Clancy from HX born in 1977 (international rugby referee) is a great-grandnephew of George Clancy from HX born in 1895 (assassinated Lord Mayor of Limerick). Explanation of ‘grandnephew’: George Clancy (Irish rebel) was a brother of the great-grandfather of George Clancy (rugby referee).
MB keeps in touch with his home locality, with family and HX friends, in numerous ways. One such way is an online subscription to some local newspapers back home. One of those subscriptions is to the Limerick Leader newspaper, which first hit the streets in August 1889, making it the oldest provincial newspaper in Ireland.
On opening the weekly online edition of the Limerick Leader this morning, MB was most interested to read one of the front page stories which detailed the visit of the Rugby World Cup referees to Buckingham Palace on Monday last, with local HX boy George Clancy very much to the fore. Using all his HX cunning and street wisdom, as George recounts the story in the article, and grabbing some insider advice from a Palace attendant, George positioned himself in best possible position for the referees meeting with Queen Elizabeth, in attempt to exchange a few words.
And that is exactly how things panned out.
And so it came to pass, that on 12 October 2015 – Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth 2nd of Britain, Ruler of Britain & the Empire, head of Britain’s military forces, shook hands with and exchanged conversation with 38 year old George Clancy from HX, great-grandnephew of Limerick’s Mayor of same name who was murdered, some ninety-four year previously, by British Crown forces under the rule of King George 5th of England, grandfather of Queen Elizabeth.
A little bit of HX history.