Gerard Hodgins delivered the eulogy at the annual Liam Lynch Commemoration yesterday at the monument on the slopes of the Knockmealdown Mountains. The commemoration was hosted by the General Liam Lynch Memorial Association.
It is an honour for me to stand here today to pay homage to one of the greatest IRA leaders in this the very country where the IRA was born in its baptism of fire in January 1919, and having been born thus continued to be an unrelenting thorn in the side of the British Army, the RIC, the Black and Tans and The Auxiliaries; and later the Free Staters when we unfortunately were driven down a road of civil-war which claimed the life of a great man at a young age, our comrade Liam Lynch, Commandant General, Irish Republican Army who fell near here on 10 April 1923.
Having waged a successful guerrilla campaign against the British and survived the murder gangs and traitors who sought to betray him to the enemy, Liam Lynch sadly fell to a bullet fired by a fellow Irishman. What the British couldn’t accomplish in open war they pursued through their Irish collaborators who were prepared to disestablish the Republic declared at Easter Week, ratified by the First Dail elections of 1918 and purified and sanctified by the heroic actions of men like Liam Lynch, Dan Breen, Sean Tracey, Sean Hogan, Kit Conway and countless other men and women of the gun and the bomb from Munster who turned this Southern area of Ireland into a graveyard for the British during the violent birth-pangs of our nationhood.
The Irish Republican Army has proven its capability as a fighting machine to take on the British Army and its armed Loyalist Militias; from Liam Lynch to Brendan Hughes and Bobby Sands the ingenuity of the Irish patriot has always been focused on the breaking of partition and the full birth of The Republic. We have delivered serious blows to the British along the way, and absorbed their lethal assaults with the fortitude of the good and resilient Republican people we are. We should be and are proud of our republican tradition which stretches back through history, a thread of which we are all a part, an organic part, as was Liam Lynch. What we should not do is romanticise the agonies of war to give a false impression to impressionable people.
Our past glories should not chain us to blind militarism alone, nurturing a forlorn hope of resurrecting that turbulent but noble past. It isn’t going to happen. In the Ireland of today the forces of British and Irish conservatism are at one in pursuing a neo-liberal economic agenda which brings disproportionate taxes and hardship for the people and massive profits for the very few. The minority British, Irish, Catholic, Protestant capitalist class has nothing but contempt for the massive majority British, Irish, Catholic, Protestant working class.
Liam Lynch and the men and women of his generation transformed the Irish people from a nation of subdued and starving slaves into a nation of raging warriors of freedom. The fuse lit on Easter Week 1916 ignited not only revolution in Ireland but inspired and motivated progressive peoples across the globe enslaved by the yoke of British Imperialism to rise and challenge our oppressors.
One of Liam Lynch’s most audacious operations was when he kidnapped the Commanding-Officer of the British Army’s 16th Infantry Brigade based in Fermoy, Brigadier C.H.T. Lucas, along with Colonels Danfield and Tyrrell in June 1920 and held them prisoner for four weeks. Lucas had seen service at The Somme in 1916. Afterwards the same Brigadier Lucas commended the discipline of the IRA and the manner in which he and his Colonels were treated, commenting:” I was treated as a gentleman by gentlemen”. Liam Lynch was not; we are not and never have been terrorists.
Both partitionist states failed miserably to cherish not only the children of the nation equally but the people of the nation who were offered only immigration as a means of survival; Leinster House and Stormont bloated on corruption and cronyism while the children of the nation were abandoned to predatory abusers from that respectable strata of society which excelled in eloquently denouncing republicans as immoral and dared to call us terrorists and subversives. We are neither terrorist nor subversive, we are unrepentant republicans who hold to the faith and honour our fallen. We still struggle for the republic for which The Real Chief gave his life, where the people are sovereign and slaves of neither British imperialism nor the new economic model of imperialism which is strangling the financial life out of Greece today and slaughtering the people of Eastern Ukraine where the Nazis are once again killing at the behest of the Western powers.
We desperately need to recommission the radical and incorruptible visions and mindset of Liam Lynch and apply them in our search for The Republic. We have come through a traumatic time of penetration and defeat from within after 25 years of hard war; followed by corrosion and corruption of the Republican philosophy by those masquerading as republicans who allied themselves with unscrupulous criminals who brutalise, poison and destroy working class communities.
The Republic disestablished on the acceptance of the Treaty which led to the death of Liam Lynch was further insulted when former republicans, now salaried and pensioned by the British government as Servants of the Crown, knelt on both Irish soil and English soil to welcome and pay homage to the very Queen whose name appeared on the formal charge-sheet consigning Francis Hughes, a committed soldier of Lynch’s Army, to Long Kesh and death; the same Queen who rubber-stamped the whole shameful process of consigning our generation of Irishmen and women to interrogation centres, prisons, to death, to lives of misery.
We served neither King nor Kaiser but Ireland and we serve neither Queen nor Angela Merkle nor any of the vampires of the international financial institutions but Ireland.
We stand here today as believers in and inheritors of the republican spirit and incorruptibility of Liam Lynch and his soldiers of the republic; we gather proudly as the legion of the rearguard to reaffirm our faith in the Republic for which Liam Lynch fell and about which he said: “We have declared for an Irish Republic, and will not live under any other law”.