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Coolacrease - The Hidden Interview - an Indymedia EXCLUSIVE!

category national | history and heritage | feature author Sunday December 02, 2007 23:07author by Pat Muldowney Report this post to the editors

Audio of the evidence RTE censored - published in the interests of FREE SPEECH

featured image
Local PhD Student Bites Back

This exclusive comes in a tradition of Indymedia exclusives that brought you the British Ambassador’s letter in 1969, when the then Managing Director of the Irish Times, called his Editor and fellow Protestant, Douglas Gageby, “a renegade or white nigger” for his coverage of Northern Ireland.

RTE broadcast a 'Hidden History' programme on 23 October 2007, about the IRA shooting of Richard and Abraham Pearson of Coolacrease, near Cadamstown, Co. Offaly, in June 1921, during the War of Independence. It was made by Niamh Sammon and featured (unelected) Senator Eoghan Harris of the Sunday Independent.

The programme was accused of editing interviews to encourage a view that the IRA in Offaly were sectarian, land grabbing and Catholic peasants. Back in early October Indymedia users played with the title of the documentary strand and began to ask was history being bent to the will of a hidden agenda?

Now a researcher, PhD student Philip McConway, has accused the programme of distorting his views. Local historian, Paddy Heaney, related to an IRA volunteer who died from stomach wounds inflicted by the Pearsons, said the programme left the guts of his interview on the cutting room floor. Another interview, with Pat Muldowney, never made it at all, not one second. His interview with Niamh Sammon of Reel Story Productions, has never been heard by the public. Until now that is...

Today, tonight (to coin a phrase), Indymedia brings you audio of the Muldowney-Sammon interview. Not all of it, we are not miracle workers, and the quality is, we admit, not the best. But it is good enough.

The interview is accompanied by a transcript, with comments by Dr Muldowney on the conduct of the interview. One way to figure it is to see the way in which the interviewer is seeking to extract segments with a closed off beginning, middle and end that she can use for her argument. But Dr Muldowney would not play ball. Did he know what was going on? Was he media savvy? Sadly, from Ms Sammon’s point of view, that seems to be the case.

There was nothing Sammon could use to bolster her argument, so she censored Dr Muldwoney’s evidence, which is devastating. He produced evidence showing that the British authorities agreed that the Pearsons took up arms against the IRA. He showed that there was a British Court of Enquiry. He showed that the British agreed with the Irish Court of Enquiry evidence that sealed the Pearson’s fate. No sectarianism, no land-grabbing. One incident in a war against Irish democracy and independence.

Listen and make up your mind.

[Pat Muldowney COMMENT:
Ms Sammon’s invitation to interview me on 28/7/07 arrived on 18/7/07. I received the British Military Court of Enquiry papers from the British Public Records Office a few of days before the interview. After leaving on July 27 to go to Kinnitty Castle for interview at 10.30 a.m. on July 28, I received a series of messages postponing the interview. It eventually started at about 4.30 p.m. on the 28th.]

[0 minutes]

S: OK Dr Muldowney, could you tell me how you first became aware of this story.

M: I read the Eoghan Harris piece in the Independent in 2005, and then I read Paddy Heaney’s letter. I come from not far from here in Co. Kilkenny and know about the Stanleys through agricultural connections, and I’d heard a little bit about the trouble here. Through curiosity, in a sense, I got hold of Stanley’s book. The events as described by Harris were horrific, and when I read Stanley’s book it reinforced that. It was a difficult read, and I read it again, and problems with it began to emerge. For one thing, the first thing that struck me was his stance on the War of Independence, that the British made a grievous mistake in not dealing with this as a military operation.

[1 minute]

That presumably means a strategy of using their military forces as they were used directly afterwards in Iraq, for instance – bombing, shelling, perhaps gassing. That it seems is his view. What had happened is that a government had been elected in Ireland with an overwhelming mandate and the mandate was reinforced in successive elections, and the government then had to implement that mandate, it couldn’t resile from it. And when the British government refused to accept it, and in fact sent in forces to suppress the legitimate, elected, democratic government then either people give up their democratic choice and resign themselves in effect to what would have been perhaps the first instance of overthrowing an elected government by force. There have been many instances subsequently in terms of the brownshirts, the fascisti, marching on Rome and so on

S: Let me interrupt you there … Just to go back quickly, you said something, you said that when you read that story initially you found it quite horrific. What did you find so horrific about it?

[2 minutes]

M: Well, the idea that … the way that the execution is presented, these men are taken, stood up against a wall, they are fired at with dum-dum bullets to the genitals, the family is forced to watch, the object is to make some ghastly point about ethnic cleansing, and to send out a message, that anyone who would resist it would be treated accordingly. Of course it turns out that that is a complete misrepresentation of what actually happened.

[3 minutes]

That didn’t happen at all, by the evidence that the family themselves gave to the Court of Inquiry. It was something quite different. In fact the execution itself was botched, they received superficial wounds, and died from lack of medical attention. As you go through the book there’s a lot of … in fact the whole thing turned out to be a recital of atrocity propaganda which is a complete misrepresentation of what actually happened, and I presume the purpose of doing it is to renew the propaganda of the time, which was, in order to subvert … to accompany the military suppression and overthrow of the democratically elected government, that this kind of stuff would be fed into the public arena, for Ireland, for England, for America and so on. That is the problem with the book. That’s how I got into it. My own sort of background, in a way, is, I come from Kilkenny which is not too far from here, and I’ve worked in the North since about 1970 and had an involvement, in a sense, campaigning for a recognition of a right of self-determination for the Ulster Protestants, which means in effect that they are recognised as a separate, independent national community of some sort, and that means the removal of the claim in the Irish constitution of a de jure right to rule the Six Counties.

[4 minutes]

At the time that would have seen by most people as quite outrageous but in effect that’s what happened in the end. As the Peace Process went to a conclusion, there was a referendum to amend the constitution in that respect, and the general idea that there would be some sort of forced integration of the Six Counties …

S: (interrupts) Just to come back, why do you think the Pearsons were targeted by the IRA?

[COMMENT: Niamh only wanted to hear some fairy-tales about good people and evil people. Grown-up talk about politics was not on her agenda. The more I found out about the Pearsons, the less impressed I was with them. But it was not Good versus Evil, not in the way Niamh sought to portray it, nor the converse. In the end, what happened to the Pearsons was simply a result of the British reaction to the Irish independence vote, not local land or religious issues.]

M: Well, they engaged on the side of the military terror of the Imperial government in its efforts to suppress the elected government. There is no doubt about this, this is the nitty gritty of the whole thing. We have the responsible authorities on the Irish side, which is the officer in command of the executions, and the commanding officer for the county, reporting to the commander in chief who was answerable to the government, who had in fact insisted that the situation in Offaly, in terms of the presence and the activities of the Black and Tan forces

[5 minutes]

and so on, that something be done about it in the crucial time of run-up to the elections [SHOULD BE Truce]. So that was why, on the Irish side that was the thing. And on the British side,… if you take for instance Stanley’s standpoint on this, I presume he would rule that out of order [I MEANT HERE THE IRISH AUTHORITY AND REPORT OF THE EXECUTIONS] in the sense that he regarded them as criminal rebels as opposed to a democratically elected government with their armed forces and their various officials, the county councils which were part of it and supported it, the courts and so on …

S: (interruption)

M: The point being, that if you rule that out if it, then the other responsible party would be the authority on the British side, which is the RIC. And the RIC give exactly the same reason, that the Pearsons were shot because of the fact that they had engaged in an armed attack on the Volunteer forces, shot two of them and, they thought, killed one. As it happened, that person was blasted in the stomach with a shotgun, but in fact he survived because he got medical attention, unlike the Pearsons when they were shot in a botched execution by inexperienced soldiers.

[6 minutes]

Mick Heaney recovered in Tullamore Hospital. The Pearsons were seen by a local dispensary doctor after two or three hours, and then he died in the field by about ten o’clock. The other one was brought to Crinkle Military Hospital and was seen at two o’clock by the relevant army doctor who then went back to bed. He reports again superficial wounds. When he got up the second man was also dead. So, the British side also comes to the same conclusion as to why these executions took place. So, the point being, as an action of the forces of the elected government, in terms of fighting, of resisting the attempt to overthrow the elected government by these Black and Tan forces, the forerunners of the Brownshirts, Stormtroopers, whatever you want to call them, this kind of anti-democratic militia, becoming a feature of the post-war situation; so, the British, then, also have the same interpretation.

[7 minutes]

In fact this is the point, going back to Stanley’s book, that, if you look closely at it, it turns out that his father was in fact a paramilitary from Laois who had been involved in a loyalist paramilitary outfit, and ordered out because of his activities. He reports to his son that the Pearsons and, I presume, himself, went down there to the roadblock, then returned with shotguns, he says, fired over their heads. In fact two men were shot. Three in fact, another one was a civilian who was under arrest; in fact he lost a lung …

S: Just to come back to that, actually, this is a very important incident obviously. Where is the evidence that anybody was shot that night?

[COMMENT: Niamh zeroes in on “the evidence”. A bit rich, now that we realise she was planning a cover-up of the British Military Court of Enquiry evidence! The dramatic highlight is when Niamh delivers the killer punch: “Where is the body?” (of the IRA man, Mick Heaney, blasted in the stomach by the Pearsons.)

As if the long, public, agonising demise of the man was some kind of mystery, hidden from relatives, friends and neighbours. As if the RIC could not quickly discover that their retired colleague, Bert Hogg, had been shot by the Pearsons as he tried to get away from the roadblock and out of their range of fire.

In contrast, Niamh allowed Professors English and Dooley to present wild speculation about land grabbing without offering a shred of actual evidence to back up their speculation. Not much sign of Roghan Harris’s “factualism disease” there!]

M: The evidence is what was considered by the responsible authorities on the Irish side, at the time, and by the responsible authorities on the British side, which is the RIC. Now, they would have had the evidence presented to them. We take it that these people are not … On the Irish side, these people are the forerunners of our present … - as was Mick Heaney, of course, who was shot – of our present apparatus of state, our system of law and order and so on. And on the British side the RIC. They took evidence. They reported to a formal Military Inquiry, they reported in fact that the Pearsons had shot two men. Now we can’t expect … we don’t have a video of the thing,

[8 minutes]

we’re not here to re-run that Military Tribunal. Of course we can’t do that. It was done by people who weren’t fools. This then is the fully documented explanation of the executions of the Pearson brothers …

S: (Interrupts) In terms of documented evidence, can you tell me what that documented evidence …

M: The documented evidence is in the British Public Records Office, on the one hand, on the British side, and in the Bureau of Military History and other archives on the Irish side. The British one is the Report of the Court of Inquiry which includes the RIC explanation of the … of their investigation of the shootings, and their report on it. And it’s quite clear, there’s no doubt on any side. And it’s clear from …

S: (interrupts) … I’ve actually read that Court of Inquiry file, and it doesn’t actually say categorically that they shot members of the IRA.

M: The wording used … obviously they don’t say that the forces of the elected government executed two people who were collaborating with the terrorist forces

[9 minutes]

who were organising a coup, a revolution, against the legitimate government. They don’t do that. What they say is that it was a revenge killing by the IRA for shooting two of their men. That is pretty well verbatim, I can show it to you if you want. But …

S: (interrupts) I guess that is the reason the IRA gave for the attack. But what I’m saying …

M: (interrupts) Oh no, no, no … it’s the reason the RIC …

S: (continues) There isn’t any medical evidence that anyone was actually shot that night. You actually say, in one of your own documents, that Mick Heaney was mortally wounded that night. I suppose what I’m asking you is: Where’s the body?

[COMMENT: “Where is the body!” I presume this is the point where Eoghan Harris-style bluster and rhetoric were supposed to make me fall apart.]

M: Mick Heaney was wounded sufficiently that he died later. If you want his death certificate … But the point is, we are not, …

S: (interrupts) …

M: … we are not running the British Military Tribunal, you see. We’re hardly qualified to do it. They did it. The RIC are the investigating body on the British side. They report that the Pearsons were shot

[10 minutes]

because they had engaged with gunfire against the Volunteers and shot two of them. They thought one was shot fatally. In fact the man recovered because he was treated in Tullamore Hospital.

S: Did he die or did he survive? I’m not clear about that.

M: It would appear that he survived for a number of years. Obviously, if you get shot in the stomach with a shotgun blast you’re not going to be an Olympics candidate. So, the documentary evidence sends us back that RIC report. If you take the Stanley view that the Irish reports, the reports of the democratically elected government are somehow out of … not to be considered – all of the reports say exactly the same thing. And we do know, from Stanley’s book, that they went - they were armed – they went back to the thing, they fired shots, he says over their heads. The RIC say that two of them were shot, they thought one was killed, …

[11 minutes]

[Comment: Is it a rumor? Is it an allegation? Is it an altercation? Is it a bad case of trespass? Eoghan says he has the answer, in a secret, one-page RIC Report (Sindo, November 18, 2007). Could the Senator be coming down with a dose of Factualism Disease? If so, Indymedia will be the first to report it!]

S: (interrupts) What the RIC report actually says, it reports the fact that the IRA say the two Pearsons were shot because they were involved in an altercation…

M: (interrupts) It does not. Let me check it …

M: OK. “The C.I. of Queens County” (that’s the Chief Inspector)

“said that the two Pearson boys a few days previously

[12 minutes]

had seen two men felling a tree on their land adjoining the road, had told the men concerned to go away, and when they refused, had fetched two guns and fired and wounded two Sinn Feiners, one of whom it is believed died.” And so on. “It is further rumoured when the farm house was burning, two guns fell out of the roof.”

That is their report. They report to the Military Inquiry that the Pearsons had fetched guns, fired, and wounded two Sinn Feiners, one of whom, it is believed, died. That essentially is the same as the Cordial report, that is Michael Cordial who was responsible for the executions, responsible for administering the decision of the court martial of the Commanding Officer for the County, …

S: (interrupts) Were they not basing that on local reports though?

M: (laughs) This is what it says.

[13 minutes]

What other meaning can we take out of this, except that the Pearsons fetched the two guns, fired, and wounded two Sinn Feiners, one whom it is believed died – pretty clear.
(… Silence …)

S: … medical records …

M: (interrupts) That is the RIC business. I presume they dealt with that. This is a Court within the legal system …

S: (interrupts) … my question …they were taken to a secret ward in Tullamore Hospital …

M: …(interrupts) We need to talk about … which are we talking about? Are we talking about the verdict of both the Irish authorities and the British authorities on this execution, or what? The point was that a military engagement took place. We have two forces at war in the county. They were civilian.

[14 minutes]

They were not officially part of the British forces. They engage with the Irish Army when it’s conducting its resistance to the Black and Tan forces. It’s too clearcut. There isn’t much further to go on that. You can go … you can look at William Pearson’s deposition to the Distress Committee. He says … what is it he says? “We worked for the Crown Forces”, something of that sort. He didn’t mean that they were making sandwiches for them or ironing their uniforms …

[15 minutes]

S: (interrupts) … He didn’t actually say that …

M: … something of this nature …

S: What he said is that he was an ardent loyalist …

M: An ardent loyalist and … let’s check that … no, I don’t have it with me.

”5. Do you claim that the loss or injury described was occasioned in respect or on account of your allegiance to the Government of the United Kingdom? If so, give particulars on which you base this claim”.
{Pearson’s response:] ”Yes. I was always known as a staunch Loyalist and upholder of the Crown. I assisted the Crown Forces on every occasion, and I helped those who were persecuted around me at all times.”]

The thing is, the truth is that the …. every official, responsible report on the executions has this. There really isn’t much more to say. And in Stanley’s book - in fact that is the thing that really swung it for me in Stanley’s book

[16 minutes]

- he sort of casually says that his father William Stanley has been involved in an armed outfit which did target practice and worked with the Auxiliaries, the Black and Tan terror forces, you might call it that, that they went down to this roadblock, fired, but over their heads. Another interesting thing in Stanley’s book is, he quotes his father’s cousin, Oliver Stanley, - it’s the same thing in fact – he says that the IRA thought,

[17 minutes]

that at the roadblock two men of the IRA had been wounded - I can’t remember whether he said killed or not. But that it was a mistake, it was the security forces, the Black and Tans or such had done it, so Oliver Stanley said it was sort of a genuine mistake, you know, that the IRA had mistakenly got the impression that the men had been shot, in other words, that the Pearsons had done it. That if they had done it, they had brought this upon themselves. Which is the general view of this thing. Tragic, of course. Who wants war?

[18 minutes]

And who knows what individuals of particular backgrounds …

S: (interrupts) I suppose what Alan Stanley is saying is that late at night, when the light wouldn’t have been great, and there was this uncertainty about …

M: There is no uncertainty in the reports. The thing is that Oliver Stanley wanted to believe that the Pearsons really hadn’t done it, you see. He doesn’t want to believe it. If they had done it, the implication of what he says is that, really, they got what was coming to them. Which is what everyone really understood – that’s how everybody understood it.

S: When you say everybody, who do you mean?

M: This is why the story was a dead one, you see, until this Harris/Stanley publicity on the thing …

[Technical pause.]

S: To stick with this incident, this important incident …

M: (interrupts) It’s a bit more than important. There is no other incident in connection with this case, in terms of the reasons for the executions. They were not executed because of some nonsensical squabble over a mass path. They were not executed for informing, spying or anything like that. That’s not what they were charged with. Of course, if they were prepared to go out and engage militarily, … If you prepared to go in and steal a video camera you’re surely prepared to go in and steal a bag of crisps. You know what I mean? It’s a much lesser issue, if you know what I mean. But the point was, in terms of the official records
[19 minutes]
of an event which was officially investigated, in a formal sense, according to procedures, at the time, by both sides, both the Irish side and the British side, that is what they were executed for. Nothing else came into it.

S: Did Tom Burke’s statement to Headquarters not mention that they were suspected of spying?

[COMMENT: Niamh is desperate for me to say I thought they were spies, so she could then ask me what was my evidence for that (mobile phone records??), to which I would have to say I had no documented evidence, which she could then include in the documentary, so she could boast that her documentary was so completely even-handed that even the letter-writing crank Muldowney was given a chance to try to make a case against the Pearsons.]

M: Why wouldn’t they? You see, this is my point …(interruptions) … they were executed for – what it says in those documents is that they were executed for carrying out the attack. Now, spying – you can take it as read, if they were prepared to do that – why wouldn’t they? If they had the bottle, if they had the bottle to go down and do that, that is no little thing. Do you think they would hesitate – these were people who knew and understood the area.

[20 minutes]

They had strong beliefs. They had powerful beliefs. Their beliefs – they were destructive, negative, they were anti-democratic; in fact they conformed with the general trend of the time towards violent attacks on elected governments, assassination of elected representatives and so on and so on and so on. That was where their beliefs lay. As it did in many other countries. So the spying thing, … is pretty much irrelevant. Obviously, if they had enough courage – they certainly weren’t short of courage – then there is no question where their loyalties lay, and so on. And they put their money where their mouth was.

S: OK let’s just examine those things. Obviously there is some distance between being a loyalist and actively spying. I spoke to Paddy Heaney and Philip McConway and obviously we looked at everything. Can you tell me what proof you have discovered that the Pearsons were spies?

M: I’m not interested in spying things. I just assume that … We know that they were shot, or executed, for their actual….

[20 minutes and 33 seconds]

SECOND AUDIO CLIP. Starting the clock at zero again.

[0 minutes]

(M:) they also mention the mass path, the mass path is also a kind of mood music, background music. It’s a red herring, to be honest with you.

S: Do you not believe Tom Burke’s statement?

[COMMMENT: Here is the extract from Thomas Burke’s IRA Court of Enquiry Report that Niamh is referring to:

So I told Niamh yet again what I believe. I believe exactly what it says on the tin. The Pearsons were executed for the reasons given in the Irish Court of Enquiry, as corroborated by what the Queen’s County RIC Inspector said. And Niamh tried yet again – and again, and again – to get me to say something……… which she could broadcast?

If you think this was dishonest, think about what she did to Paddy Heaney. Her academic geniuses, Dooley, English and the other one could give her nothing to actually support her/Harris’s land-grab theory. So Paddy Heaney explains that the Pearson place was allocated to ex-British soldiers and other people unconnected to the independence movement, proving there was no land-grab. But he points out, for the record, that after many of these went out of business, some people with IRA connections got land there. Niamh censored the first part and broadcast the last bit. And that was what she offered on the land-grab!]

M: I told you what I believe. I told you what is reasonable. How many ways is it possible to explain this? That being seriously, and devotedly, committed to this particular cause [MILITARY SUPPRESSION OF THE IRISH GOVERNMENT], they were prepared to fight for it, they would be damn fools if they didn’t do the simpler work [SPYING/INFORMING]. The formal reasons for the executions were what we discussed. The other things [SPYING/INFORMING]– they are interesting. We could go on and on. This whole argument is a five-minute argument. It’s an open-and-shut case as to what they did, in terms of the reasons for them being shot. And … there is no disagreement about it.

S: In one your letters to me you mention about them being guilty of helping the Black and Tan terror campaign. In what respect?

[1 minute]

M: When they engaged … You have two opposing military forces, the forces of the Irish government, and the forces which were seeking to overthrow it by violence, and by assassinations, and by hostage-taking, and by shooting up football crowds, and so on and so on and so on. You have this. And when they got into a fight with one side, it was because they were on the other side. How better can you possibly help the Crown Forces than by actually taking up arms on their behalf?

S: In terms of these spying allegations, you say they would have been damn fools not to spy. What evidence do you have that they were spying?

M: When I say they would have been damn fools not to spy, that’s all that I am saying. The thing is, as far as I am concerned, it’s not an interesting issue. I mean,.. I suppose you could say that, … let’s see – various things happened. Hmm … yeah; we can operate at the level of, say, proof; in terms of the appointed authorities, that’s to say, what findings they came to, and what they have left to us. Now, we could take endless pleasure in speculation,

[2 minutes]

about history and so on. If we want to join in that, let’s see. Yes. The case of the rows, this sectarian squabbling over the mass path. They fell a tree, they knock down a tree, then they spread excrement on a stile. And these are family groups going to Sunday service. Then they pull guns on them. Just think about it. These are women and children, in their Sunday best. And they threaten them. The IRA then have to restore order in some way. They make them back off. Those two guys, Horan and Dillon, are arrested the following day. So … what happened? Are we to assume that the Pearsons said we can positively identify Horan and Dillon, they came up here and warned us off with guns, we’ll stand over that. And we know where they live. This is the kind of thing. That’s speculation, you see.

S: (interrupts) You say that happened, or …

M: I can speculate about it. I believe that, if they had the bottle

[3 minutes]

to actually go out and fight for their beliefs, …. they paid the price, as people around here actually said, that they brought it upon themselves. They paid the price for it. Tragic, of course. But that was it. They fought for it. Why would they not do anything else that was required? I mean, this is speculative stuff that you’re asking me to get into … There was no Court of Inquiry about spying. There was no Court of Inquiry about mass paths. What can we do, then, except take on board what is consistently spoken about. And there is consistency in it. On the other side, you see, there isn’t consistency. William Pearson’s deposition, it’s so full of flagrant lies that the credibility … And the same applies to David Pearson’s letter, and to stuff that’s coming through to us on the Stanley side. The misrepresentation of what happened, in terms of these … let’s call them advocates .. of the Pearsons, is so self-contradictory, and so …

[4 minutes]

What did William Pearson say, he said 500 men came into the yard; he said that he had gone to Crinkle that morning to get help, in fact when everyone else says he went to Mountmellick to a religious meeting, the Annual Convention of the Cooneyites. Yes, he said that his daughter was fired at, that she lost a chunk of her hair, a convenient thing to lose when you say it in 1929 [SHOULD BE 1927]. He didn’t say that they blew her hand off. No-one fired at any of the daughters. Because if they had, it would have come out at the Inquiry, it would have been said at the time. Because the Dublin Castle propaganda statement would have picked it up to the nth degree. These contradictions on that side …What we are trying to do here is trying to assess the various kinds of things which can’t be verified by formal … like, say, the Military Inquiry or the IRA Reports to the government. When those things agree, we know we are on pretty firm ground. (…? …On these other issues(?)) we are not, obviously. There is no point in beating the air and demanding “Give me the evidence, give me the evidence”.

[5 minutes]

Do you want a video of it, or what? ( … interruptions…) What I’m saying is that the … in terms of this kind of mood music that’s coming down from the two sides, the Pearson side is very unreliable …

[5 minutes and 18 seconds]


[COMMENT: The interview continued in this vein for about two hours, with Niamh making frequent exits from the room, to return for fresh assaults, mostly on the spying/informing issue. If I can get around to it, I will post more of my recording of the interview on this thread.

At some point towards the end of the contest, perhaps out of genuine curiosity, Niamh asked me why I was so “passionate”, as she put it, about this issue. I was not minded at the time to tell her to her face what I thought of people like her and Harris. But for sure, the maligning of people like Mick Heaney and his companions at the roadblock is reason enough to muster a bit of passion.]

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/84547

Audio One - the Hidden Muldowney interview - Part one
audio Audio One - the Hidden Muldowney interview - Part one 3.12 Mb

Audio Two - the Hidden Muldowney interview - Part two
audio Audio Two - the Hidden Muldowney interview - Part two 0.92 Mb

author by .publication date Fri Nov 30, 2007 00:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

a situationist in historians (or is that mathematicians) clothes

author by captain moonlightpublication date Fri Nov 30, 2007 01:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You will find the background to this post meticulously documented here: http://indymedia.ie/article/84547

Dialup will handle it : Just go make a cup of tea : It'll keep you going (laughing) for weeks

author by ecpublication date Fri Nov 30, 2007 01:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A feature length documentary RTE would never ever ever broadcast going hand over fist on torrent networks and elsewhere. I'm only putting it here because its banned / censored from polytricks(manybloodsuckinginsects).ie by the main man dave. (hi Dave)
It's a strange business the documentary business. Pat should do a version of the Pearsons film with his own voiceover: It'd go like hotcakes I tell ya on the torrents.
Route Irish (Or How I learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Black Pope): http://indymedia.ie/article/85188

A song for the night thats in it

'The last day of November will be remembered well
And how poor revisionists fared that night, no tongue can ever tell
The wind blew high, the seas grew rough, and in torrents fell the rain
They never saw such a night before and may they do again'

author by P O'Neillpublication date Fri Nov 30, 2007 18:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Now I see why Niamh Sammon didn't bother including Pat Muldowney's interview. Hopeless.

author by John Martin - Irish Political Reviewpublication date Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I've just been listening to the tape.

Niamh Sammon caught Pat Muldowney out badly on the question of where the body was!!

Muldowney had all the documents from the British authorities, the Irish authorities and the evidence of Paddy Heaney regarding the shooting by the Pearsons of Mick Heaney and Tom Donnelly. But where was the body?

Would it have been too much to ask for Pat to go to the local graveyard, dig up one of the bodies and bring it to the hotel? Okay he didn't have to bring it in to the actual hotel. The camera crew could have gone out to the car park and he could have opened the boot a la the opening scene from "Goodfellows" and... Voila.

The fact that Muldowney failed to produce a body means that the veracity of the documents from the British Authorities and the Irish Authorities can be doubted (sure the British were only cogging from the IRA and the we know what the IRA is like). The evidence of Paddy Heaney and local historians can also be safely dismissed because it contradicts the opinions of Eoghan Harris, who works for a Sunday newspaper that always tells the truth.

So the Pearsons never shot and wounded two IRA men. They never shot and wounded ex RIC man Bert Hogg. It never happened.

The Pearsons were Amish like pacifists with no interest in politics.

Q.E.D. as Muldowney might say.

author by JJ McGarrity - Redundant spokepersonspublication date Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

P[auline] O'Neill is quite wrong. The information in the interview and Muldowney's recent letter in the Irish Times (reproduced here) indicate why Sammon and the anointed Senator Harris could not handle the information - if they broadcast the RIC County Inspector's evidence, their whole programme would have fallen apart. So, they censored it. Sammon made a fool of herself arguing the toss about it in the Irish Times - the place to do it was in the programme. She missed her chance and revealed her methods. She had a bad teacher.

Well done Pat Muldowney.

(The post above revealed a broadcaster's - or an ex broadcaster's? - conceit - that interviewees are supposed to perform like poodles. Real as distinct form 'Reel' people have their own ideas.)

The 'Reel' reason NIamh Sammon did not broadcast the Muldowney interview - Irish Times 27 Nov 2007
The 'Reel' reason NIamh Sammon did not broadcast the Muldowney interview - Irish Times 27 Nov 2007

author by Robert Barton - Ex Protestant Ministers for Agriculture Clubpublication date Mon Dec 03, 2007 12:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

When Paddy Heaney wrote about this episode in 2002, he was ignored, because his facts ruined a 'good' story.

Looks like RTE missed out on the Pearsons wounding an RIC man, Bert Hogg, as well. He lost a lung, whereas Paddy Heaney's relative was severely wounded in the stomach, and died as a result some years later.

(I suppose if either had been shot by the IRA those would have counted as shots to the groin, or "the sexual parts" in Eoghan Harris's helpful description.)

Paddy Heaney wrote 'At the foot of Slieve Bloom' in 2002 - click to read
Paddy Heaney wrote 'At the foot of Slieve Bloom' in 2002 - click to read

Brian Murphy letter in Irish Examiner (Dec 3 2007, scanned)
Brian Murphy letter in Irish Examiner (Dec 3 2007, scanned)

author by Emmett Farrellpublication date Mon Dec 03, 2007 14:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I see from Paddy Heaneys letter that Bill Glynn, the last remaining survivor of the road block party died a few years ago. I

Perhaps its time for Peter Hart to inverviw Bill Glynn.

author by Tullamore Tribunitepublication date Tue Dec 04, 2007 08:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Apart from Mayo's McCafferty (who operates a rent-a-right--wing-quote franchise on behalf of Shell, other multinationals, and fellow cranks) the criticism of the Hidden History Coolacrease programme keeps coming - click the graphic to read the letters.

Tullamore Tribune November 28 2007 - More RTE Hidden History criticism - CLICK TO READ
Tullamore Tribune November 28 2007 - More RTE Hidden History criticism - CLICK TO READ

author by Tullamore Tribunitepublication date Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Printed in the Tullamore Tribune November 7th and 14th

Copies also available at Offaly History Society website:

PDF of article can also be downloaded here.

RTE broadcast an interview of Philip McConway asserting that the Pearson sisters had seen the executions, a month after he informed Reel Story Productions that he had come across new evidence causing him to revise and to change his view. Yet they went ahead and broadcast this after McConway warned them that it was no longer his view.

Looks like some revisionism is acceptable, and some not!

Major articles on the War of Independence in Offaly - Tullamore Tribune 7-14 November 2007 - PDF download here and at http://www.offalyhistory.com/
Major articles on the War of Independence in Offaly - Tullamore Tribune 7-14 November 2007 - PDF download here and at http://www.offalyhistory.com/

The public roadway beside their land, where the Pearsons attacked an IRA tree-felling party
The public roadway beside their land, where the Pearsons attacked an IRA tree-felling party

Walter Mitchell, Protestant Republican in Co Offaly
Walter Mitchell, Protestant Republican in Co Offaly

Tullamore Methodists, who rejected northern unionist charge that Protestants in south under attack - and who condemned attacks on northern Catholics by northern unionists
Tullamore Methodists, who rejected northern unionist charge that Protestants in south under attack - and who condemned attacks on northern Catholics by northern unionists

PDF Document PDF of Tullamore Tribune artices - also at Offaly Historical Society website http://www.offalyhistory.com/ 1.11 Mb

author by Brian Murphypublication date Sun Dec 09, 2007 19:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Airing Protestant voices
Sunday Independent December 09 2007

Sir -- I write concerning the column by Eoghan Harris on November 11, in which he defended his claim, and that of RTE's Hidden History programme, that Irish republicans were engaged in a sectarian war of ethnic cleansing during the years 1919-1921. He said I should view the war from 'a Protestant perspective.' I can only presume that Mr Harris did not read what I'd written carefully as it was composed almost entirely of the views of Irish Protestants.

Firstly, the voice of Matilda Pearson, sister of the two victims of the Coolacrease killings in 1921, who asked the IRA men taking part in the attack on her home, why they were doing it and received the reply, as recorded by herself: 'Don't think we are doing this because you are Protestants. It is not being done on that account.' Is this evidence from a Protestant voice compatible with a sectarian interpretation of the killing of her brothers?

Secondly, the voices of Robert Barton, Erskine Childers and Lionel Smith Gordon, all Protestants and all appointed by Dail Eireann in December 1919 to direct the fortunes of a National Land Bank. Is it credible that Dail Eireann would have placed Protestants, such as these, in charge of land reform, if they had wished to drive Protestants from the land?

Thirdly, the voices of Sir Horace Plunkett and George Russell (AE), both Protestants, who continued to support the work of the Co-operative Society throughout the war.

Fourthly, the voices of the Church of Ireland Bishops of Meath and Killaloe, Dr Kathleen Lynn, Alice Stopford Green, Albinian Brodrick, James Douglas and several other Protestants, as well as the distinctive voice of Dr Herzog, the Chief Rabbi, who joined with many Catholics in January 1921 to assist the work of the Irish White Cross Society. Is it credible that so many Protestants would have joined in this charitable enterprise to redress the damages of war, if that war had been sectarian?

Fifthly, the voices of Protestant members of the first Irish Free State Senate, which ought to have some special significance for Mr Harris, unless he is prepared to reject the heritage of the body of which he is a member. Among these voices are to be found those of Alice Stopford Green, Sir John Griffith and James Douglas, the first three persons to be elected to the Senate by the Dail in December 1922, and those of WB Yeats and Douglas Hyde.

Is the election of such distinguished Protestants to the Senate in any way compatible with a sectarian war against the Protestant community?

Finally, on Eoghan Harris's suggestion that I should accept the findings of Peter Hart, the historian whose work inspired Alan Stanley to write the book on the Coolacrease killings. I respond that Peter Hart like Eoghan Harris and Niamh Sammon of RTE, continues to ignore the contemporary source evidence of the many Protestant voices listed above.

Dr Brian P Murphy osb

Related Link: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/letters/airing-protestant-voices-1241708.html
author by Ned Stapletonpublication date Wed Dec 12, 2007 19:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Eoghan ('genitals') Harris throws a half-wobbler with Ursula ('hush-puppy') Halligan on TV3. See the un-Coolacrease un-elected Senator get up to go, and then ask plaintively: "Are we going to re-record this...?

The subject, Bertie's dig-out money.

Here it is on U Tube:


author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Thu Dec 13, 2007 21:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Section 1: Hidden History on the Pearsons and Cooneyism.

Here is the first part of the October 23 broadcast, with interspersed comments pointing out imbalance and other defects. Dialogue can be matched with description of picture/soundtrack by means of the numbering. Each of them has its own propagandist effect, and they are artfully combined to increase the effect of both.


A “Reel Story Production” FOR RTE
Hidden History Series
As broadcast on Tuesday 23rd of October 2007
Produced/Directed by: Niamh Sammon
Narrator: Orla Brady
Script consultant: Pat Sammon
Research: Paul Rouse, Philip McConway


[Interview/voice over]
JJ Dillon (son of Offaly I.R.A 1920-21):
The silence… that people didn’t want to talk about it. I never wanted to talk about it and I never did!

Olive Boothman, grandniece of Susan Pearson:
There were no words that fitted. The legacy would be one of great fear. It was never spoken of except only in whispers.

Voiceover/Senator Eoghan Harris:
Of all the stories I’ve heard the story of the Pearson’s is easily the saddest one I have heard.

Voiceover/Paddy Heaney (local historian):
When they got their orders it had to be carried out, they had no choice. No, indeed, no

Voiceover/Pr. Richard English (Historian):
One of the depressing things about conflict is the speed with which neighbours and friends can become killers and enemies.

Voiceover/Philip McConway (Local IRA Historian):
In the context of the times it was a necessary military reaction to protect and safeguard local Republicans.

******* COMMENT:

The tragedy is presented on one side only. But if the Pearsons were guilty as charged, then their own tragedy was something they brought on themselves. And we then have to factor in the tragedy of Mick Heaney and the other men they shot. And the tragedy and loss of lives wrecked and loved ones imprisoned because of the Pearsons – if they were guilty.

The other side is portrayed as harsh, unfeeling, militaristic. But on the side of the Pearsons, Alan Stanley’s book, for instance, talks of putting down “the Rebels” with full military force. Innocent or guilty, it is impossible to deny that the Pearsons were reckless, gun-toting and trigger-happy.

It is not as if there is a moral equivalence between the two sides. The citizen volunteer forces of the democratically elected Irish government were conducting a gallant resistance to the aggression of a powerful, brutal, mercenary, terrorist, imperial force which sought to suppress the elected government. From that standpoint the IRA are the “good guys” waging a People's War, with sheer solidarity, courage and determination, against vastly superior forces.

Now suppose that the Pearsons were innocent. In that case we are dealing with, perhaps, a miscarriage of justice or mistake by the “good guys”, or at worst a rogue element which perpetrated a crime under cover of an otherwise heroic and honourable struggle.

On the other hand, if the Pearsons were guilty, the military contest they joined of their own volition was not a morally neutral one. They attacked the “good guys” on behalf of the “bad guys”.

Main Title (White against black)


Buried in the land around the SlieveBloom Mts is a dark and violent story. Hidden there during the fight for independence is a story that was supposed to have died with time. It was a bloody episode that caused a family to leave the land of their birth for distant exile.

Voiceover/Jenny Tunnidge (Great-grand-daughter of Wm. & S. Pearson}:
You’ve lost your family, country, identity, and the part of Ireland that you are passionate about doesn’t want to know you because you don’t exist; this isn’t the Ireland that we’ve wanted to create

At four pm on the 30th of June 1921 the episode unfolded that Coolacrease House Co. Offaly. Few dispute the central facts of this event, but nearly a century on this one story continues to divide itself in to two…two sides… two sympathies… two truths.

Interview/ Senator E. Harris:
I think the fact that that took place in broad day light… It was carried out by thirty men, em, it was so traumatic for the community… that it has to go into denial.

Interview/Paddy Heaney (local Historian):
I heard it first hand from all the fellows who were involved. At the time there was a war of independence going on. There was information there that the Pearsons were active. They had to be dealt with.

V/O Narrator:
The story of the Pearson’s begins over a century ago in Ballygeehan, Co. Laois. The family had farmed the land for three generations. In 1894 William Pearson and his wife Susan inherited a holding of over 200 acres. They and their seven children shared a farm house with the family of a cousin.

V/O Vernon Pearson (Grandson Wm. Pearson):
There was a number of kids from both families. At dinner time they used to go to where the best smell was, and that’s where they all went for dinner.

Interview/Ruth Kelly (Granddaughter Wm/Susan Pearson):
Grandma had been busy with the children in the family all the time when, y’ know, they were little. There were seven of them… She was a very caring person too. She was all right. There was nothing wrong with Nanna.

Voiceover/Edna Black (Gr/daughter/Wm./Susan Pearson):
She was a quiet softly spoken lady, genteel, kindly… very… well, shy, in exposing herself to the world.

VO/Ruth Kelly:
Grandpa … I loved him… I thought he was gorgeous… ha, ha, ha. Always had time to stop and play with ye, y’know, sort of thing, and when ye lived in the country ye didn’t have many people to play with.

VO/Vernon Pearson:
My Grandfather would be fairly strict on them, not to the extent that he treated them roughly but they would not know a lot of bad vices there.

VO/Ruth Kelly:
Grandma decided that each girl should learn something different. My mother, she used to do sowing and she used to play the piano too. She made all her own clothes and everything. Uncle Abraham, well, I know he played the melodeon. He was her favourite brother. She talked a lot about him y’know, Abe did this, Abe did that, y’know. They were very close.

The Pearsons stood out from their neighbours in one significant respect. They were members of a small Protestant sect known sometimes as Cooneyites after a leading preacher, Edward Cooney

Interview/Dr. Raymond Gillespie (Dept. History Maynooth):
The most characteristic feature of this group is they didn’t believe in any sort of church organisation as we would understand it. They had no form of churches. They had meetings in houses for bible study. There are some similarities with the Amish. There are some ideas that underly both groups. They conserve simplicity, they try to live out the word of the bible as they read it.

VO Ruth Kelly:
The women…they don’t wear makeup. They don’t cut their hair, and they don’t have wirelesses. They only do good, helping people. They didn’t expect payment for what they did. It was the life they led, y’know.

VO:Sen. E.Harris:
My father ran a small grocery wholesale business in the 1950’s. And the Cooneyites used to come into him.

I/V..Sen E. Harris:
They were terribly quiet. Very, very gentle, decent people. They were pretty much withdrawn from the world as a whole. I would say they found the whole world outside confusing. They were really a husbandry people, y’know,…the land…quiet evenings spent in meditation…reflection. These were the kind of people they were.

******* COMMENT:
A highly debatable view of early twentieth century Cooneyism is presented. A favourable and attractive picture of the human qualities of the Pearsons is presented. A balanced account, in which the guilt of the Pearsons was not ruled out, would require similar presentation of the people and community against whom the Pearsons set themselves when the political Troubles broke out. This balance is omitted.

[Picture/soundtrack for the above:]

Wide Shot: ……………Cornfields/trees/flowers
Close up:……….Dillon
(Mood Music)
Wide shot: …..More trees, corn field/two young men pitching hay on sunny day
Close up:…. …Pearson woman
Close up: ….IRA men at meeting/fields
Close up:….. IRA men at meeting
Close up:…… Heaney
Close up:…… Men in Hay field/men running
Close up: ……IRA men coming over ridge of hill
Close up:……..Frightened faces
Close up:…….. Philip Mc Conway
Wide shot: ….Slieve Bloom Mts/sky/landscapes/[gothic mood music]
Wideshot:….. Fields/skies
Close up:…… Tunnidge
Close up: ….Archive photo of house.
CU: ………….Ruins
CU: ………….Harris
CU : ………….Heaney
Archive:…….. British Auxilary raid
Wideshots:….. Cornfields : Farm House: Landscape : Sheep
CU:…………. Vernon Pearson
Archive Pictures: …………….Susan Pearson
(Sound track/……..Big House Choral Church music)
Family shots
Close up: ……Flowers
Close up:…. William Pearson
Close up: …..House ruins Fields
Close up Vernon Pearson
Close up:…….. Pearson family photos.
Close up:….. men pitching hay in fields.
church choral music
Close up: …..Ed Cooney and Cooneyites.
Close up:….. Gillespie
(Music: Big House Choral music continues)
Close up:… hands turn bible page
Close up:…. two men come over hill with scythe on shoulders (choral music).
Close up: ……Cooneyite groups (black/white photos)
Archive shots:…….. Groups of Cooneyites in old photos
Close Up:…..Sen. Harris…
CU’s…. : Hands playing piano….women sitting,sowing,reading,
C.U,s….girl looks pensively out of window…piano plays reflectively …
C.U.,s…men in field pitching hay on sunny day
[mood music]
C.U,… woman at window watching men…
C.U…shots of big house, Burnt out…

******* COMMENT:
Again, a highly debatable view of early twentieth century Cooneyism is presented visually. Likewise a favourable and attractive picture of the human qualities of the Pearsons is presented. A balanced account, in which the guilt of the Pearsons was not ruled out, would require similar presentation of the people and community against whom the Pearsons set their face, and against whom they committed crimes, when the political Troubles broke out. This balance is omitted. [To be continued.]

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Sat Dec 15, 2007 21:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hidden History: The Killings at Coolacrease
Section 2. Alien Incursion to Good Neighbours to Trouble in Paradise.


In the coming years the Pearsons’ lives were to change dramatically. In 1909 Wm. Pearson decided to sell Ballygeehan and buy land elsewhere, at a time of huge rural unrest.

Dr. Terence Dooley [Author:”The land for the people”]:
Land hunger was endemic in Irish rural society at this time. There were often Protestant farmers who owned substantially larger farms than their surrounding Catholic nationalist neighbours. The Revolutionary period was used essentially as a pretext to run many of these Protestant farmers and landlords out of the local community, for locals to take up their land.

******* COMMENT:
No evidence is presented that any of this is true in regard to the area and community of Cadamstown. If there were any such evidence, e.g. in the form of newspaper or RIC reports, then it would have been presented in the programme. None was presented. So it is reasonable to conclude that there is no evidence.

To solve the growing crisis, Land Acts were introduced to break up large estates and divide them amongst local tenants.

******* COMMENT:
The first Land Act was 1885, the last one was 1903. The subject of the programme belongs to a later period in which new issues, other than Land Tenure, came to the fore.

Dr. Terence Dooley…[VO]
It certainly was successful in terms of a revolutionary transfer of ownership of land from landlord to tenants. But the majority of these holdings could be termed uneconomic and unviable.

******* COMMENT:
Before the Land Acts, most people scratched a living as insecure tenants. After the Land Acts they farmed the same holdings as secure owner-occupiers, putting an end to the famine and near-famine episodes which occurred from the Conquest up to 1879 when the Land War was initiated. The people became confident enough to make personal investments in a fledgling food-processing industry (creamery co-ops), and in the vast network of commerce and light industry which, in conjunction with the initiatives (semi-state etc) of the Irish government – first with Dominion/Free State status and later with Independence – laid down the basic economic warp and woof on which present-day Irish industry is founded. So the Land Acts enabled a vast economic and personal improvement which was perceived and experienced as such by those involved at the time.

Dooley is anachronistically projecting modern criteria onto the situation. Modern criteria projected back onto shopkeepers, labourers or history professors would produce similar anomalies. Would Dooley be prepared now to accept a salary which would not pay for a centrally heated house, a horseless carriage, foreign holidays and trips to history conferences?


In Co. Offaly, one estate of 4,000 acres was divided into almost 100 holdings. One farm at Coolacrease was substantially bigger, was bought by the sitting tenants, a Protestant family called the Benwells. Just two years after buying the land they sold up.

Dr. Dooley.[.Vo]:
Wm.Pearson purchased the farm at Coolacrease in 1911. So, he moves into an area, he takes up a 340 acre farm that is surrounded by a multitude of small uneconomic holdings, where the local people - and they tend to be Catholic and Nationalist farmers - are looking for access to this land themselves. There is the added tinge of sectarianism, ah, in the sense that Protestant land remains in Protestant hands.

******* COMMENT:
No evidence is presented that Catholic, nationalist farmers sought access to this land, or whether they sought such access by illegal or improper means, or whether they viewed the matter in a sectarian way. Mere speculation.

Pr. Richard English..[author..”Irish Freedom”]
So in that sense it was seen as an alien incursion. It was small scale, it was only the family, but in the sense that they were seen as aliens, people that didn’t genuinely belong, weren’t genuinely integrated into the community, and indeed were taking land from the rightful possession of the community, as locals would have seen it.

******* COMMENT:
More unsupported speculation. If there were evidence it would have been presented in the programme. The Pearsons came from the Aghaboe area, a mere twenty miles or so distant. A cursory glance at the lists shows names common to both areas. For instance, a family called Drought lived in the Aghaboe area, and a well-respected, wealthy Protestant family called Drought lived near Cadamstown. The Pearsons were not alien, not strangers, and the programme went on to show that the Pearsons quickly integrated into the community. English does not present a shred of evidence that the locals saw the Pearsons as taking land from them that was theirs by right. There is no such evidence.


[ music interlude…3 secs…dramatic piano]

Paddy Heaney…[I/V]
They were very good neighbours in the beginning, and old Mr. Pearson was himself very helpful when local farmers were in trouble, or that, and actually the family went to the local school here in Cadamstown.

Vernon Pearson….grandson….[Vo..]
My father, - he would have gone to a Catholic school and the whole family would have mixed in a Catholic school.

J.J. Dillon..[son of Offaly IRA man,1919/21]…[.I/V]
One time one of them actually played hurling with the local club. They were part of the community.

Jenny Tunnidge…[granddaughter…Pearsons]…[I/V]
Knowing them having a lot of brothers and sisters..quite a lot of young people and boys there….I can imagine them having a lot of friends into the house and it being a social house really.

Paddy Byrne..{Cadamstown resident}…
They were good neighbours. My grandfather said they were great neighbours. According to what I heard they would do anything for ye.

Vernon Pearson…[VO]..
I think they had life very easy, those kids, I really do. And if you don’t want to do anything then I don’t think you can think anything is going to happen to you. It’s just natural, isn’t it?

******* COMMENT:
The above sequence is intended to demonstrate what decent, neighbourly people the Pearsons were (and would appear to be perfectly valid until, for political reasons, the Pearsons set their face against the democracy), thus setting the stage for the awfulness of the alleged crime against them. These acknowledged facts of good neighbourliness are not intended to counter and contradict the earlier, unfounded speculation of Dooley and English about sectarian land envy and hostility against an alien intrusion. The purpose of the exchange above is to demonstrate the merits of the Pearsons.

But in fact it cuts both ways, though the programme is blind to the fact. The exchange refutes Dooley and English, demonstrating that the Cadamstown community was open and welcoming towards the Pearsons.


But the atmosphere was changing. By 1919 Ireland was heading for a bloody break from Britain. Like most Protestant families, the Pearsons were strongly loyal to the Crown. As Cooneyites, they stayed out of politics.

******* COMMENT:
The second sentence in this does not acknowledge that Ireland elected an independent government, to which Britain responded by imposing military government and war. The third sentence contradicts the argument made by a Pearson protagonist, Mater Dei historian Dr William Murphy, when he claimed later in the programme that William Pearson was lying when he declared himself a staunch loyalist. The fourth sentence ignores the aggressive character of early twentieth century Cooneyism, and prejudges the very issue on which the whole programme hinges – whether the Pearsons involved themselves as combatants in the war.

Pr. Richard English…[Vo]..
There was a shift as Ireland moved into the Revolutionary period, where neighbours who had gotten on, or integrated across religious or political boundaries before the troubles found it more difficult to do so against the background of the violence from 1919, 1920 onwards.

Paddy Heaney…{VO}…
There was a local battallion formed in Cadamstown, part of the Offaly Brigade, and I think about 22 or 23 local fellows joined the local company. I think at that particular time then, the Pearsons began to withdraw from the local people. They began to resent, I think, the fellows and girls they went to school with. When they’d meet them on the road they wouldn’t speak to them.


Paddy Dermody..[I/V]..[son of Commandant of Cumann Na mBan]…
Me mother told me they treated locals with contempt. On a summer’s evening they’d walk down to the village. The whole family, they’d link arms, and any locals that were on the road, if they wanted to pass, they’d have to get up onto the ditch.

Philip McConway..[local IRA historian..1919/1922]..
Richard Pearson, in particular, was particularly aggressive towards local volunteers who he viewed with contempt.

J .J. Dillon..[VO]….
A cousin who was in school, used to tell me about it, Pearson stamping on his feet and saying, y’know, “The IRA are a lot of ruffians, good for nothing.”

Jenny Tunnidge…[VO]…
I believe that there’s a lot of stories going around to make people feel better about their part in the actions. They really want to have another reason to make themselves feel better .They don’t want to face the truth of the past.

******* COMMENT:
Opportunity for rebuttal given to a Pearson protagonist. No reciprocal opportunity given.


[piano music]
Archive photos… of poor peasants.hats in hand…
shots… fields of hay
shots… of big house in ruins
[piano music]
archive: footage…documents…
names of estates and cost of same
[piano music].
Shots… of map of farm, 339 acres
[piano music]
C.U. ..name of Wm. Pearson on Irish Land commission document, purchase price of Coolacrease in 1911, £2000.
C.U…map of farms..
C.U. Dr. Dooley….

C.U..cornfields…red poppies
C.U…slow pan down from yellow cornfield to red poppies…
W.S…of same
C. U…Pr. English..

[dramatic trill of piano music…]
C.U..Paddy Heaney
archive footage:..photos..
…children with horse and hay bogey…hay being drawn in..
CU…photo…Pearson family…sons..
[mood music]
staged footage….lads playing hurling as per ”Wind that shakes the Barley”, in 1920’s costume…
[mood music]
CU……. Tunnidge
Shots …lads playing hurley…
[mood music]
CU… Paddy Byrne
Shots……lads play hurling…
CU: Vernon Pearson
[piano music]
CU…more hurling shots…
…CU….hurling shots..with piano music …

Archive shots….War of Independence…..Irish Volunteers march….Union Jack…auxies…
CU……Pr. English
…[piano music]
shots ….of war of independence…
Archive photos….IRA men in Cadamstown
WS….two men, one with scythe on shoulder, walking peacefully along country road…

Shots… of two men on road with scythe…
CU….….feet on road…
Mood music..
CU…P. McConway…
WS…two men on road with scythe…
…[mood music…]
WS ….men on road…

******* COMMENT:
The peaceful Pearsons are contrasted visually, and prejudicially, with militaristic locals.

author by CDRpublication date Sun Dec 16, 2007 00:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Patronising in the extreme...Pat "explaining" the documentary to us - as if we didn't get it first time round...the pits.

author by Media watcherpublication date Sun Dec 16, 2007 09:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Television viewing involves continuous exposure to thousands of moving images and a variety of programmes. The human brain can only retain a fraction of what appears on the goggle box. Muldowney is reminding us of one programme among hundreds that average viewers have seen in recent months. He is right to draw attention to particular evasions, imbalances and insinuations that were cleverly built into the screened documentary by post production editors. I think there should be a national whip around by concerned individuals to enable Muldowney to publish his detailed critique in book form. RTE has been tinkering around with Irish history. I am glad to see it being exposed.

author by Sharon . - Individual .publication date Sun Dec 16, 2007 10:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

....for those who didn't "get it first time round".

Thanks , Pat , for putting the time and effort into assembling that (and other) posts , and to 'Indymedia' for giving you , and us, a platform on which to discuss issues like this.

Well done!


Related Link: http://1169andcounting.blogspot.com
author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Tue Dec 18, 2007 13:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hidden History: The Killings at Coolacrease
Section 3. The corn field, Dad's Army, and illicit love.


But there may have been another reason for the rift between the Pearsons and their neighbours. During the 1st WW , Wm. Pearson had supported a Gov. tillage order to grow more crops. He also decided to rent more land to help the War effort.

Dr Dooley…[author]…[VO]..
Some years later Pearson claimed that his troubles began with the rise of Sinn Fein, and the compulsory tillage order. And when he took that field he said:
“The local Sinn Fein people were enraged at this and said I had done it to help the British Government. They accordingly, when the corn was ripe, trampled the entire down.”
They were resentful of the fact that he was taking land that they felt they should have access to themselves.

******* COMMENT:
The quote is from William Pearson’s 1927 application for compensation from the British Government’s Irish Grants Committee. This application is riddled with lies. Such as: 500 raiders attacked his house; his daughter was shot; he was prevented from selling his land on the open market (in fact he held an auction and according to the local papers of August 1922 he refused all bids); his farm (bought for £2000 in 1911) was worth £10000; and many more such lies. No uncritical credence can be given to anything in this application.

There is no comment, criticism, questioning or rebuttal to this highly dubious statement by Dooley about the corn field. He provides no evidence for the final sentence of his statement. It seems the field in question was rented by the Pearsons from the Droughts. The Droughts and other local landowners appear to have been on excellent terms with the local community as a whole, and if they had land to let, would undoubtedly have made it available to anyone who was interested. And the idea that there were people around who objected on principle to cashing in on the money to be made from the Great War is laughable.

In the heavy, wet soil of this part of Offaly, ripe corn crops tend to "lodge" - that is, flatten to the ground because of wind or rain.

[Pause for mood music interlude]


Narrator…[VO]…But in 1919 the Pearsons thought they had little to fear from their rebel neighbours. Offaly at the time was heavily garrisoned with troops stationed in Birr and Tullamore. Meanwhile, the local IRA was regarded by Chief of Staff, Richard Mulcahy, as one of the least competent brigade in the country

******* COMMENT:
The word “rebel” is prejudicial. The opposing view of the Pearsons is that they were rebels against the democratically elected government.

Dr. Will Murphy, Dept. of Irish Studies, Mater Dei Institute of Education,…[VO]..
The War Of Independence In Co. Offaly was a pretty quiet affair..

Pr. R. English…[i/v].
It tended to be a low level activity. It was road blocking, marching, drilling.

Dr W. Murphy…[I/V]…One of the IRA’s boasts to headquarters was that in Offaly they had spread glass on the road to puncture the bicycles of R.I.C patrols.

J.J. Dillon [VO]..
They’d hoist the flag In Cadamstown. The British would be out and they’d have to take it down.

Dr. W. Murphy …{I/V}..
There had been attempts to derail a train which had failed miserably and G.H.Q would be very angry about the incident.

The remarks in this sequence are about the volunteer defence forces of the democracy, expressing criticism of their military effectiveness, but from a standpoint of opposition to their political objectives (or, at best, critical neutrality).

J.J. Dillon…[VO]…
A raggle taggle group of peasants, thinking they’re soldiers, that they’re going to take on an Empire, an Empire that was just after winning a war.

JJ Dillon expressed pacifism throughout the programme, but this stance was directed editorially, in a derogatory, one-sided way, against the forces which defended the democracy against the imperial aggression.

By 1920 however, this picture was about to change dramatically. The War of Independence stepped into a higher gear, and IRA suspects and their families began to come under more pressure from the authorities.

Paddy Heaney…[vo]..
They got it so hard during that period. A lot of them suffered. Their houses were raided. People were on the run. They were in jail. They were harassed.

Once escalation happened, the IRA look around their area, who’s selling them out, who’s shopping them. And they eventually reach out for local targets, often typically, Protestants. There were a number of incidents that suggested to the IRA that that the Pearsons may not only be quietly Loyalists , but may be active in their support for the British.

******* COMMENT:
This implies that informers were typically Protestant and/or that Protestants were typically the targets of IRA punishment for informing. No proof or evidence is provided, and neither claim is actually true. Here Murphy accepts that the Pearsons were loyalist. Later in the programme he presented an argument that William Pearson was lying when he declared himself a loyalist in his Grants Committee application


Sen.Eoghan Harris…[i/v]..
To understand it, you have to cast your mind back. It’s the summer of 1921. It was a halcyon summer. It was a golden summer.

Ruth Kelly…[granddaughter …Pearsons..]..
She was beautiful. She was a very strong woman, y’know. If she wanted to do something, she did it.

******* COMMENT:
The stage is being set here for proposing various hard-to-prove reasons – some of them complete red herrings – for the execution of the Pearsons, reasons deliberately set up for facile debunking in the programme. While the actual and real reason for the executions (the attack on the roadblock) is downgraded to one of numerous bogus allegations.

By the early summer of 1921 the actions of the Pearson family were beginning to be interpreted in two very different ways. For some, allegations of a relationship between the Pearsons’ eldest daughter, Tilly, and an officer of the Crown were evidence of treason.

******* COMMENT:
None of the contributors on the other side of the argument made any such allegations. The allegation has the appearance of being inserted editorially, perhaps to give Eoghan Harris the opportunity to indulge in righteous indignation (below) about an issue that neither the Pearson relatives nor the locals appear to have actually raised. The wording of Ruth Kelly's comment (below) indicates, not that she raised this issue herself, but that she was responding to some suggestion, put to her by an interviewer, which she had never heard of before. The editorial “For some” is misdirection.

P.Heaney,,[,local historian]….[vo]..
Local people were aware at all times that the military were visiting the house, and the local police from Birr used to come out there. The IRA had their own intelligence there. And they had people watching the house.

******* COMMENT:
This is a completely different issue, a very valid one in a war context. Intelligence was an essential part of the war.

Sen. Harris….[i/v]…
The Pearson girls were supposed to be going out with British soldiers, or went out with British soldiers. What else would they do..!..?...Would they make dancing partners for local IRA officers d’ye think..!!…D’ye think the local IRA wanted to dance with the Cooneyites out there..!!…I doubt very much that the Cooneyite girls went out with British soldiers. But if they did, so what!

******* COMMENT:
Harris seems to be challenging and debunking Paddy Heaney’s reasonable statement – note that no reciprocal challenge to Harris is permitted! – but on a completely different topic to the one raised by Heaney in this self-indulgent rant.

At this time Tilly Pearson may in fact have been seeing her future husband.

Ruth Kelly…[vo]
My father was born in Offaly and he joined the R.I.C, and he served in Belfast. They knew each other quite a while. It’s possible that Mum would have been in contact with Dad at that time. They were courting, so it wouldn’t have been anything untoward. It would have been just dad chasing mum.

******* COMMENT:
Further irrelevant misdirection against Paddy Heaney’s argument – except that Paddy Heaney argued something quite different which is NOT refuted.


CU……yellow corn
[No music]….
WS…fields of corn….no music…
WS…Pearson House…
[vocal choral music..]
…Various shots of Birr/Tullamore…
…zoom in on archive letter from Richard Mulcahy re. Local IRA…
B& W archive …IRA men on horse and cart….men cutting down tree…
CU…. Murphy…
CU Dillon
CU..flag being raised…letter…
CU..Cadamstown IRA…looking shifty..
CU…British Auxies in Ireland….
WS….IRA prisoners being rounded up
Ws…more prisoners ..
Ws..civilians being searched
Ws ..Cornfields…
[piano mood music]…
CU Ruth
CU..actress…as Tilly Pearson…[lots of mood music]…walks out with British soldier…
CU…..“Tilly” and soldier walk along road….
“Tilly” and Soldier
Archive…B&W photo of Tilly Pearson
[piano music]…
CU ….R.I.C. man..
Shots of Ruth Kelly’s parents…archive…
Cu…Ruth Kelly.

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Tue Dec 18, 2007 19:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The second from last Comment above reads:

******* COMMENT:
Harris seems to be challenging and debunking Paddy Heaney’s reasonable statement – note that no reciprocal challenge to Harris is permitted! – but on a completely different topic to the one raised by Heaney in this self-indulgent rant.

The self-indulgent rant was by Harris, not Heaney.

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Thu Jan 03, 2008 22:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hidden History: The Killings at Coolacrease
Section 4. Alien Incursion to Good Neighbours to Trouble in Paradise.


There were other incidents, however, cited as evidence that the Pearsons were enemy collaborators at a time of war.

Alan Stanley…[son of William Stanley..]…[vo]
My father said a British army officer came pushing a motorcycle in the avenue, one day, and asked if they had petrol. He’d run out of petrol and the Pearsons said, certainly, yes, we have some. And they filled up his tank and off he went.

******* COMMENT:
More irrelevancies. This incident was never “cited” (see preceding statement by Narrator) by anybody except Alan Stanley. He gives it in his book, and I’ve never seen or heard it anywhere else. It was certainly not put forward by anybody else in the programme.

Pr. Richard English…[vo]..
Looked at from the IRA’s point of view, a family that was outside their own community, that had taken land that the IRA’s community would have seen as rightfully theirs, that was fraternising with what they would have seen as the enemy. All of that would have been added together and seen as the Pearsons not only being outside the community, but as potentially targets that were legitimate.

******* COMMENT:
English is just repeating the same bogus, unfounded points he made earlier. If there were evidence it would have been presented in the programme. The Pearsons came from the Aghaboe area, a mere twenty miles or so distant. A family called Drought lived in that area, and a well-respected, wealthy Protestant family called Drought lived near Cadamstown and helped to arm the local IRA. The Pearsons were not alien, not strangers, and the programme showed that the Pearsons quickly integrated into the community. English does not present a shred of evidence that the locals saw the Pearsons as taking land from them that was theirs by right. There is no such evidence. The antagonism that arose between the Pearsons and the community as a whole was a political and military consequence of British refusal to accept the democratic mandate of the elected government.


But it was the presence of William Stanley at Coolacrease House that would raise the temperature even further. Stanley, a relative of the Pearsons, was living there under the alias Jimmy Bradley, after running into trouble with The IRA in his homeplace in Co.Laois.

Alan Stanley..[vo]…
The problem arose when one of the Protestant ladies of the parish invited people from the Church back for Sunday lunch. Now these were Police people. Not quite the Black and Tans. They were officer material. The problem was my father, and the other young lads, were seen to be fraternising with the enemy. When the local IRA people became aware they sent him a note and they were ordered out and that’s how he came to go to the Pearsons.

******* COMMENT:
In other words, some rather devout and civilised British officers encountered in church were making polite conversation with Alan’s father, and the Co. Laois IRA didn’t like it and expelled him. But the “officer material/police people” whose full and proper title he is struggling with were Auxies. And in his book I met Murder on the way Alan Stanley says:
“Frank Stanley [Alan’s father’s cousin] said that my father used to keep company with a number of young men of the area [Luggacurran, Co. Laois, scene of mass evictions, attempted ethnic cleansing and plantation by Lord Lansdowne in 1887]. Like him, they were all sons of “planters” [Protestants from the local area – and it seems also from Ulster (where William Pearson spent six months after the executions, according to his son) and Scotland – brought in to replace evicted Catholic tenants] . … All were in possession of a pistol of one kind or other. … At Sunday Matins [the mother of the leader of this armed group] espied two handsome young Englishmen, auxiliary Police Cadets, and invited them home for lunch. … it seems there was more than a social element to their visits …Frank’s sister, who later married [the leader of this armed group] told me she overheard plans to “lift” a young man of the area who was an active IRA member [ … and] went to warn [him]. … If the local brigade (IRA) had tolerated “playing at soldiers”, “fraternizing with the enemy” was a different matter altogether, one that in many cases exacted the extreme penalty. It was not long until this “pack of whelps”, as Frank described them, got notice to leave. … Frank believed it was the decency of the Luggacurran people that enabled them to get off so lightly.” In other words, the death penalty could have been expected for the loyalist paramilitary plot that never actually got off the ground in Luggacurran. But in Coolacrease, a loyalist armed attack against the democracy was successfully accomplished, a much more serious matter than the Luggacurran affair which resulted in the Stanley family selling up and leaving the country in 1921.

Paddy Heaney..[vo]..
I wouldn’t class him as a spy, but he was there to glean information, I suppose, at the houses and the house dances that he went to, the people that he me and} knew in his rambles in the area.


New information has recently come to light. It suggests that another incident convinced some in the community that the Pearsons were spies.

Cyril Pearson…[relative of Pearsons]..
Cecil Pearson, who was around at the time, was related to the Pearsons of Coolacrease. He told me that at that time it was common for farmers, if cattle had strayed onto their land,to report it to the police, who acted as a clearing house. On the day in question the Pearson family had found that some cattle had strayed onto the land and Dick Pearson went into the local town to report this fact. Unknown to them the local IRA had intended to blow up a bridge as an ambush for Black and Tans. But they didn’t arrive, and Dick Pearson in particular was blamed, and his family was blamed by association, for passing information that he may have got.

******* COMMENT:
This is not something put forward against the Pearsons in the programme, and I have never seen or heard this story anywhere else. It must be private family lore in the extended Pearson family. So the preceding statement by the Narrator (“… convinced some in the community …”) is another red herring. And the following statement by the Narrator is further misdirection:


In the aftermath of the incident it seemed any rumour about the Pearsons was readily believed. There was even speculation that they were running an underground militia from their home.

******* COMMENT:
Comment 23 shows that the Narrator has no grounds for the first sentence. It is empty rhetoric. The second sentence mentions “underground militia”, implying this is paranoid fantasy. But Alan Stanley's own account of his father's loyalist activities in Luggacurran (across the adjoining county boundary in Laois) cannot be dismissed as fantasy.

Paddy Heaney…[vo]..
I do believe that the Pearsons were spies. Everything added up, that the Pearsons were involved in an underground movement. And people knew that.

******* COMMENT:
The previous statement by the Narrator has already planted the idea that what Paddy Heaney is saying here is paranoid fantasy. So it is rebutted editorial before it is even spoken (- “pre-buttal”).

Philip McConway…[vo]..
According to local speculation British Army soldiers worked undercover as farm labourers and during night the Pearsons would help pinpoint where the IRA volunteers lived.

******* COMMENT:
The Narrator has already planted the idea editorially that none of this could conceivably be true – “pre-buttal”.


At a time of war local speculations could have serious consequences. In other parts of the country, notably Cork, alleged informers were shot without much hard evidence. But did the local IRA have more on the Pearsons?

******* COMMENT:
The narrator chips in with a reference to Cork, a murky situation where a list of informers was found in an RIC station when the RIC were stood down. Similar lists were found in other vacated RIC stations, indicating there may have been a “dirty tricks” operation. The only thing that is certain about the County Cork case is that nothing is as it seems, certainly not the trite and bogus theory of sectarian murder proposed by historian Peter Hart whose ideas are supported by Alan Stanley and Eoghan Harris, and parroted here by the Narrator.

Pr. Rich.English….[vo]..
I’ve seen no evidence that would persuade me that the Pearsons were running an underground militia from the farm, or passing on information about the local IRA. I think it’s a convenient claim, because if you can present them as being effectively a militia force, then taking violent action against the Pearson brothers would seem to be more an act of legitimate war between combatant groups.

******* COMMENT:
The final part of this sequence has Peter English rebutting Heaney and McConway, using the by-now-discredited words “underground militia”, so he may either have been shown their statements or had the statements relayed to him for more focused contradiction. This is followed (below) by further statements of Heaney and McConway, which show no evidence of them knowing how English responded. English’s argument can easily be disputed. But there is no indication that Heaney or McConway were given the opportunity. Superficially they seem to have been permitted to respond in the comments below. But in such a way that their argument is weakened even further by the editorial methods of the documentary.

Paddy Heaney [vo]
The Pearsons weren’t innocent and the research I carried out, talking to a lot of those fellows, who were involved in that period - they were spies and informers. That’s my opinion. I documented it in my local history. I stand over it.

Philip McConway…[vo]…
A British army deserter, who used to drive staff officers to Coolacrease - he deserted to join the IRA - he said the Pearsons had very close contacts with British army soldiers at the time and they were passing on information. There is no documentary information to support that but it is a reasonable conclusion to make.

Alan Stanley…[vo]…
It’s very easy to create an enemy. You just find a way of antagonising him and then you have an enemy.

******* COMMENT:
Last word given to the Pearson side again.

Cu… house…
WS….cows cross avenue.
WS…..fields of corn…poppies….
CU…. of three lads [actors]…pitching hay on a summer’s day…as Wm. Stanley, Richard and Abraham Pearson.
[piano music]
Wm. Stanley
CU……..Wm. Stanley…making hay
CU …photo of ..Cecil Pearson…
Ws…cattle straying across avenue
Ws….. of bridge in town..
Archive ….shots of Auxies
Ws….of men striding purposefully through woods with guns…
[spacey mood music]
CU…lad walks in wood in a hurry…
******* COMMENT:
The visual prompts show the Pearsons going about their farming work peacefully and innocently, while ominous, militaristic stuff is afoot all around them.

CU McConway
[mood music]
various CU’s
conspiratorial lads around a table looking tense….dragging on fags…meaningfully..
…more of same….
…even more conspiring…heavy smoking….
CU…..archive….Pearson Bros
British soldiers
CU McConway
[blast of music]

author by the boy chickenpublication date Sat Jan 05, 2008 02:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the IRA killed/murdered/assasinated/shot whatever local minority protestants in Cork, this meant that Unionists in the six counties were never going to accept Dublin rule which meant the impossibility of a 32 county Ireland.

How close was that?

author by Reel Journalistpublication date Sat Jan 05, 2008 08:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

When the British Parliament enacted (without implementing) a county council type of Home Rule for Ireland, Protestant Ulster formed an army, with German weapons, to smash by force the decision of Parliament. When Parliament surrendered to anti-parliamentary force and violence, supporters of Home Rule under Britain, such as Pearse, de Valera and most of the rest of Ireland, drew the reasonable conclusion that democracy could not be achieved under British sovereignty. This judgement was confirmed when the British government sought to overturn by force the Irish election results of 1918, 1920 and 1921.

The Ulster resort to anti-Parliamentary force pre-dated the events in Cork by a decade or so. Their minds were made up long before. [116 words]

author by boy chickenpublication date Sat Jan 05, 2008 11:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The Ulster resort to anti-Parliamentary force pre-dated the events in Cork by a decade or so. Their minds were made up long before."

So what your saying is that the Prods in the north decided to do something and because of that the prods living 300 miles away from those decision makers had to be ethnically cleansed?

Therefore, by that rationale, because of what Cork republicans did that justifys Loyalist atrocities in the six counties?

author by Reel Journalistpublication date Sat Jan 05, 2008 12:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Your argument is: "the IRA killed/murdered/assasinated/shot whatever local minority protestants in Cork, this meant that Unionists in the six counties were never going to accept Dublin rule which meant the impossibility of a 32 county Ireland." Your argument is a false one. My point is that Unionists in the six counties had made up their minds to go their separate way long before the Cork events, and that those events made no difference whatever to that decision.

The Cork killings referred to were from a list of spies/informers found in an RIC barracks, as Muldowney and many other people have pointed out. Whether we like it or not, spies/informers are liable to be shot in wartime.

The vast majority of people shot for passing information to the British were Catholic.

author by Interestedpublication date Sat Jan 05, 2008 16:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Protestant Ulster formed an army, with German weapons

Not disagreeing with you as I am relatively ignorant about this history, but am interested in this statement. Can you quote a source for it? We always hear about the Germans suppling weapons to the IRA, the Helen of Howth being used to run them in etc, but I'd never heard about them supplying them to Unionists.

author by crookstownpublication date Sat Jan 05, 2008 17:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ulster Unionists imported weapons from Germany in 1914 in order to resist by force home rule.

Nationalists were to be killed in great numbers if necessary.

This led to the militarisation of Irish politics and subsequently the 1916 rising and the war of independence.

Unionists were responsible for this chain of events


Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larne_Gun_Running
author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Sat Jan 05, 2008 18:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

On April 24 1914, under cover of a test mobilization of the Ulster Volunteer Force, a consignment of 40,000 German Mauser rifles was landed at Larne, Co. Antrim, and at Bangor and Donaghadee, Co. Down.

“If you attempt to enforce this Bill, and the people of Ulster believe, and have a right to believe, that you are doing it against the will of the people of this country, then I shall assist them in resisting it.” Bonar Law, House of Commons, January 1 1913.

“If Home Rule is passed I would not care whether the British Empire went to smash or not.” Reverend Chancellor Hobson, Portadown, Easter Monday 1913.

“The Covenant was a mystical affirmation … Ulster seemed to enter into an offensive and defensive alliance with the Deity.” The Times, May 13 1913.

“As regards the future, what if a day should come when Ireland would be clamouring for independence complete and thorough from Great Britain? … What side would we take then? (A voice : ‘Germany!’ ) I bind no man to my opinions. We owe to England allegiance, loyalty, and gratitude; but if England cast us off, then I reserve the right, as a betrayed man, to say: ‘I shall act as I have a right to act. I shall sing no longer “God Save the King” ’ … I say here solemnly that the day England casts us off and despises our loyalty and allegiance, that day I will say: ‘England, I will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh’.” James Chambers K.C., M.P., South Belfast, May 23 1913.

“Sir Edward Carson had the honour of receiving an invitation to lunch with the Kaiser last week at Hamburg.” Belfast Evening Telegraph, August 27 1913.

“We have pledges and promises from some of the greatest generals in the army that, when the time comes, and if it is necessary, they will come over to help us to keep the old flag flying, and to defy those who would dare invade our liberties.” Sir Edward Carson, Antrim, September 20 1913.

“I have always refused to believe that the occasion would ever arise in which this Government, corrupt and guilty as it is, would dare to employ the British Army to march on Ulster, but if that moment ever comes, … we hold ourselves absolved from all allegiance to the Government, and will say to our followers in England: ‘To your tents, O Isreal!’ and will stand side by side with loyal Ulster refusing to recognize any law, and prepared with them to risk the collapse of the whole body politic, to prevent this monstrous crime.” F.E. Smith, K.C., M.P., Ballyclare, Co. Antrim, September 20 1913.

“It may not be known to the rank and file of Unionists that we have the offer of aid from a powerful continental monarch who, if Home Rule is forced on the Protestants of Ulster, is prepared to send an army sufficient to release England of any further trouble in Ireland by attaching it to his dominion, believing, as he does, that if our king breaks his coronation oath by signing the Home Rule Bill he will, by so doing, have forfeited his claim to rule Ireland. And should our king sign the Home Rule Bill, the Protestants of Ireland will welcome this continental deliverance as their forefathers, under similar circumstances, did once before.” The Irish Churchman, November 14 1913.

“There is another point to which I would specifically refer. In order to carry out his despotic intention, King James had the largest paid army which had ever been seen in England. What happened? There was a revolution and the king disappeared. Why? Because his own army refused to fight for him.” Bonar Law, Dublin, November 28 1913.

“You may be quite certain that those men are not going to fight with dummy muskets. They are going to use modern rifles and ammunition, and they are being taught to shoot. I know, because I buy the rifles myself. I won’t tell you where I get them from, but you can take it from me that they are the best, and if the men will only hold them straight, there won’t be many Nationalists to stand up against them.” Colonel T.E. Hickman, M.P., Wolverhampton, November 24 1913.

“The Army [revolt] has killed the Home Rule Bill, and the sooner the Government recognizes the fact the better for the country.” Morning Post, March 26 1914.

“Had the operations started by the constabulary seizing the Old Town Hall, the Unionist headquarters, it is certain that many thousands of [Ulster] Volunteers engaged in work at the Queen’s Island shipyards, half a mile away, would have left work, and, reinforced by other men, some in the [Ulster] Volunteer Force and others who are not, would have attempted to regain possession of the building. The Central Offices of the Belfast Police is in the same block of buildings, and as a high percentage of Belfast’s male population carry revolvers, it is doubtful whether the police could have held either the Old Town Hall or their office. Long before the troops could have arrived the streets would have been running in blood, and by the time General Macready could have reached the city from Hollywood, to take over the duties of military Governor under martial law, a terrible situation would have arisen.” Sir Edward Carson, Daily Telegraph, April 20 1914.

“I am not sorry for the armed drilling of those who are opposed to me in Ireland. I certainly have no right to complain of it; I started that with my own friends. (Cheers) I was told at the time that I was looking for revolution two and a half or three years ahead. I was very glad. I did not mind that. We are quite ready, and we mean to go on and be more ready.” Sir Edward Carson, London, May 22 1914.

“Despite all their fleet and their other preparations, I am going to have more Mausers.” Sir Edward Carson, reported in the Times, June 2 1914.

[Quotations from The Grammar of Anarchy, by J.J. Horgan of the Home Rule Party, published 1918, re-published 2006 by Athol Books, www.atholbooks.org ]

author by dungannonmanpublication date Sun Jan 06, 2008 07:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ulster Unionists imported weapons from Germany in 1914 in order to resist by force home rule.

Thats still the case crookboy, there will never be a united ireland, even if we have to destroy the whole island in the process. Do you honestly think the southern counties have the resolve to withstand a 30 year insurgency and see their precious celtic tiger bankrupted?

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Mon Jan 07, 2008 20:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hidden History: The Killings at Coolacrease
Section 5. The Christian Way?


J.J. Dillon….[vo]…
Well, it probably started over a pathway to Cadamstown. People used to call it the mass path.

The path was strategically important to the IRA. Crossing the Pearsons’ land, it was being used by IRA men moving between hideouts in the mountains and their targets in the villages below. In the Spring of 1921 it would become the flashpoint for all the bitter divisions over land and religion.

******* COMMENT:
The first sentence of the Narrator is complete invention. As is the second sentence. The “bitter divisions” of the third sentence were about politics, not land and religion, and the programme did not produce the slightest shred of evidence to the contrary. It simply depended on persuading the audience of this nonsense by repeated assertion and nothing else.


J.J. Dillon…[vo]…
The Pearsons didn’t want people who they thought were IRA people using this pathway. Me father onetime was coming down the pathway and he met Dick Pearson. He told him they had no right to cross their land. They had a heated discussion. It was always said he was carrying a gun that day because he expected confrontation, I think, and he simply wasn’t prepared to back off.

But the story that spread in the community cast the Pearsons in a strongly sectarian light.

******* COMMENT:
The evidence, reinforced by the early history of Cooneyism, shows that the Pearsons actually were strongly sectarian at this time.

Philip McConway…..[vo]..
They prevented local Catholics from accessing a traditional mass path in the area when people were coming home from mass. The Pearson brothers would ride horses to disperse catholics from the road, in what was tantamount to religious bigotry on the Pearsons’ part.

Alan Stanley
I find that unbelievable. That wasn’t their way. Their Christian way was not to stop anyone going to church. There was something else going on.

******* COMMENT:
Rebuttal again awarded editorially to the Pearson side. The wording shows that Stanley has either heard or seen the McConway statement, and is allowed to rubbish it. There is no indication that any such advantage was given to the other side at any point in the programme. Re the substantive point, early twentieth century Cooneyites were notorious for unseemly sectarian squabbling.


Another time the conflict over the mass path might have died away. But in April 1921 the subject of Offaly was on the agenda of the IRA GHQ.

Murphy, Mater Dei..[vo]..
The IRA are under extraordinary pressure in Offaly. They are regularly being arrested. Their own community is under pressure and GHQ has finally decided the Offaly IRA didn’t know how to run their own affairs and they needed to be shaken up.

******* COMMENT:
“Their own community”? Does he mean religious community? Or political community? Are we supposed to assume the two are the same? Does he think the audience is a bunch of simple-minded fools?

Pr. Rich English…[vo]…
What often happened when an area was seen to be inactive was that an organizer would be sent to chivy them along, to organise them and get them into higher gear if you like, and an organizer was sent in Spring of 1921 to Offaly

Murphy …[vo]
Tom Burke was a trusted organizer, well known in GHQ. Upon his arrival you can see a significant change in Offaly.

******* COMMENT:
Yes, the Dublin organizer arrives and we can see the Kinnitty ambush and the execution of the Pearsons. So where does this leave the local land hunger and sectarian hostility theory?

Pr. Rich. English…[vo]…
It’s been claimed that the rise of IRA activity in Offaly before the Treaty reflects the desire to settle some scores, and to do some … housecleaning, if you like.

******* COMMENT:
Or could it simply be exactly as it says on the tin – that there was a war on, and every effort had to be made to resist the occupying terror forces and their collaborators? English uses highly prejudicial language, without challenge, without balance.


Murphy …[vo]…
There was a considerable number of shootings of spies in Offaly between May/July 1921. On 17th May, the Offaly IRA pulled off one of its biggest coups. It was the Kinnitty ambush. They succeeded in killing two RIC men in Kinnitty. The Kinnitty action was extremely significant. It provoked a reaction from the British Army. There were reprisals, widespread arrests, escalation of violence.

Pr. Rich. English…[vo]..
So those who were seen as closer to the British forces would have been at greater risk at this point in summer 1921.

******* COMMENT:
As were those who were actually in collaboration with the imperial terror.

WS……………mass path
[piano music]
WS………man walks over mountain…..watched by Dick Pearson
******* COMMENT:
The scene is open, desolate country bearing absolutely no resemblance to the actual mass-path which is sheltered and runs through a narrow tree-growing strip of ground.

CU,S……..actors…enact the incident on mountain
CU Stanley
WS……yellow cornfields…black crow flies past…gurgling stream
CU…….IRA document….
CU Murphy
CU…….IRA document
CU…….Richard Mulcahy inspecting IRA troops in field
CU…….IRA organizer……
CU……IRA documents
[burst of choral music]
WS….various…..SLIEVE BLOOM
CU…….RIC man outside barracks
CU…photo of Pearsons….
Police, document being typed
CU English

author by Dan Gerfieldpublication date Mon Jan 07, 2008 23:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Martin Mansergh has written some interesting views on the subject.

author by Shuttlepublication date Tue Jan 08, 2008 21:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mansergh's article is a typically long-winded affair that makes you wonder why he bothered to put pen to paper but the key lines with regard to the Pearsons (and which undermines much of Muldowney's thesis here on Indymedia) are:

"The justification of military necessity is doubtful in the case of Coolacrease"


"It can be questioned whether the treatment meted out to the Pearsons met the standard of avoiding ‘wanton cruelties’ ".

author by Nihil Nisi Verumpublication date Tue Jan 08, 2008 21:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

RTE's argument is that the Pearsons were innocent farmers who were murdered for their land.
It seems to me that Muldowney has proved that this is propaganda.

author by Shuttlepublication date Tue Jan 08, 2008 22:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Though in fairness, very, very few who know this story give any credibility to Muldowney's argument...except of course for the obsessives on this blog.

author by Lurkalotpublication date Tue Jan 08, 2008 22:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

How those two pieces of Mansergh's waffle can be interpreted as having undermined any of Pat Muldowney's article is beyond me. Perhaps you are scratching around for straws if you have to claw at Mansergh's meandering and as you say yourself "typically long-winded" musings.

author by Lurkalotpublication date Tue Jan 08, 2008 22:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Entitled to your opinion, Lurkalot, but his essential arguments still sits uncomfortably with Muldowney's thesis of the Pearson's guilt (which Mansergh doubts). More examples:

"The fate of the small Protestant minority in the South during the revolutionary period is undoubtedly a problem area..."

"the minority in the South were undoubtedly vulnerable and, in many cases, suspect..."

"whether they were considered to be just harmless Protestants or loyalists as well, were matters largely at the discretion of the local IRA..."

"Far more left the country or, in the case of some estates, had their houses burnt..."


"There are hidden histories and tragedies to be explored on the losing side...".

Maybe your right, Lurkalot, it's not such waffle after all.

author by Shuttlepublication date Tue Jan 08, 2008 22:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sorry, should have signed myself "Shuttle"

Shuttle (not Lurkalot)

author by lurktoopublication date Wed Jan 09, 2008 03:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I read it as the complete opposite as you, he was saying it was cruel ,but the Pearsons shot at the wrong people at the wrong time. maybe you should broadcast your view of Mansergh's article on RTE and everyone will think its true. More revisionism

author by Challengepublication date Wed Jan 09, 2008 07:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"he was saying ...the Pearsons shot at the wrong people at the wrong time".

He most certainly did not say that - read it again.

author by Nihil Nisi Verumpublication date Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Harris and RTE: "The Pearsons were innocent farmers murdered, with sexual mutilation, for their land."
Wrong on each count: They were not innocent so it was not murder. They were not shot in the genitals. It was not about land. Pat Muldowney has demonstrated that beyond reasonable doubt.
Therefore Harris and RTE are in trouble.
Mansergh: "Maybe they thought the people they fired on were marauders so the action they took was possibly not an act of war. Therefore their punishment was probably wanton, cruel and excessive."
Result: Mansergh's defence opens up escape route for Harris/RTE. (Even though Mansergh is acknowledging the inescapable fact that the Pearsons attempted to kill people.) The defence he provides is that Harris/RTE were probably on the right side of the argument, but perhaps not sufficiently "nuanced". Which is a lot better than being exposed as lying propagandists. Mansergh has demonstrated nothing, just pontificated. It seems, like Harris, he does not have to demonstrate the truth of anything he says, he just has to look into his own mind to see the truth, and his role in life is to tell us what he sees. Just another pontiff like Harris.

author by Nfrenpublication date Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nihil Nisi Verum wrote:

"They (the Pearsons) were not innocent so it was not murder".

Nihil Nisi Verum is wrong. The court concluded that in the case of the Pearsons it was "unlawful murder" ...despite what Muldowney and the bloggers at Indymedia say.

That is on the official record (and one that Muldowney doesn't quote from too often).

author by Joe Bloggs educatedpublication date Wed Jan 09, 2008 12:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mansergh is the silken-tongued Oxbridge graduate from a refined protestant pedigree and knows how to phrase his letter/article in that delicately balanced "truth must lie somewhere in the nuanced middle" style. It keeps him onside with the FF blue collar and peasant proprietor grassroots rump while appearing to say a little bit in favour of the hardworking chapel attending non-Anglo Protestants who lived nervously through the troubled period from 1918 to 1923.

His succinct letter makes nuanced assertions but doesn't argue any points by reference to historical data. Since history is his degree subject we may have to await the appearance of a footnoted treatise on the matter. In the meantime Pat Muldowney has consistently argued his case by reference to archival details.

author by Jokerpublication date Wed Jan 09, 2008 12:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The only place where this information can be seen by the public is at
posted Sat Nov 17, 2007 21:03 - by one "Pat Muldowney"!!!
This file contains the inconvenient and unsuitable information hidden by Harris & Co in their Hidden History propaganda cover-up.
Of course the Court of the British Imperial occupation forces declared the executions by the forces of the elected government to be "murder".
Every Black&Tan thug, every Auxie, every stormtrooper, every collaborator and informer killed in the course of the Imperial war of suppression of the democracy was found to be "murdered".

author by Jack Lanepublication date Wed Jan 09, 2008 22:28author email jacklaneaubane at hotmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mr. Mansergh comes to the defence of Niamh Sammon and the Hidden History programme in his Examiner letter when he says that "The justification of military necessity is doubtful in the case of Coolacrease". He asks "Did the Pearsons think they were challenging marauders cutting a tree on their property at a time of much lawlessness, or did they fully realise that they were taking on the local IRA?"

The Pearsons are here painted are pretty silly people who did not know what going on in the world around them and why. Did they not read the papers? Surely they knew there was a war on to implement and defend the Irish Government and its polices following the overwhelming 1918 and 1920 Election votes for independence?

Were they really so naïve that they mistook an armed group felling a tree to make a roadblock across the public road about half a mile from their house as simply marauders? As well as being on the roadside this particular tree was also on the 'bounds ditch' with another farmer, J J Horan, and technically cannot therefore be even described simply as their property.

And why take the law into their own hands? Why is one of our legislators condoning armed vigilantism? There was a very effective Republican Courts system in operation.

The reality is that they decided to engage militarily in the war against the Irish democracy in support of the Imperial government that sought to crush it.

Furthermore, if we are to believe the actual circumstances as described in some detail by Alan Stanley in his book that inspired the RTE Programme and this whole debate, "I met murder on the way" there could not possibly be a case of mistaken identity on the part of the Pearsons. He reports on verbal exchanges between the IRA group and Richard Pearson about the tree felling. Being neighbours they all knew each other very well.

He writes "Richard challenged these people but they warned him off, making dire threats as to what would happen should he attempt to interfere. My father said Dick was somewhat hotheaded and further antagonized the intruders by trading words. "Aren't you the brave fellows with all your guns?", he admonished." Richard is then reported as going back to the house.

Two Pearson brothers approached the roadblock, not from within their land, but along the public road, where they opened fire and hit three people - on the public road. Mick Heaney was sentry on that side of the roadblock. He challenged them and they responded by opening fire, shooting him in the stomach (he died later). The sentry on the far side of the roadblock ran towards them, they fired, he fired. He was injured slightly. Bert Hogg, the retired RIC man who had been arrested earlier was hit as he ran away. He lost a lung from his injuries.

How can these actions, which were also verified by the RIC, as shown in this thread, be described as anything other than initiating a military engagement with the IRA who were then the legitimate army of the democratically elected Irish government defending it against attack by the British government? Such actions inevitably lead to military retaliation in these situations..

There was no 'nuancing' of these facts in the Hidden History programme – there was blatant distortion and Mr Mansergh seeks to make excuses for that.

It simply does not wash. Niamh Sammon needs a better advocate.

author by Harry Wells - The Well, Well, Well Foundationpublication date Fri Jan 11, 2008 22:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

History Ireland (Jan-Feb 08) follows Indymedia, Sunday Business Post and others......

Also, two page article by Brian Hanley with more of the same (though a bit 'superior' near the end) - hurry, hurry, hurry, while stocks last.

Click on image to read the editorial

Thumbs down to RTE's Coolacrease programme from Ireland's premier history magazine
Thumbs down to RTE's Coolacrease programme from Ireland's premier history magazine

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Wed Jan 16, 2008 22:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hidden History: The Killings at Coolacrease
Section 6. Amish Shooting to Miss?


There were deadly whispers in the wind. At this point an event occurred which sealed the fate of the Pearsons.

******* COMMENT:
The wording is prejudicial. To balance this, there would need to be some statement that what happened to the Pearsons was the result of actions they carried out entirely on their own initiative.

Murphy …[i/v]..
One night in June 1921, the local IRA embarked on an activity that was typical of that period, blocking roads.

Paddy Heaney…[vo]…
They chose a tree on Pearsons land. Seven or eight of them went out there at 11.30 pm and they began to cut down the tree.

Michael Donnelly…[vo]..
My uncle Tom Donnelly and another man were providing armed cover. Both of them were armed.

Alan Stanley…[vo]..
Old Wm. Pearson was away at the time, so Richard was left in charge. And when he sees these men cutting the trees without a by-your-leave, my father told me he confronted the tree-fellers. He said: “Aren’t ye the brave lads with all your guns”, and fired over their heads.

This is the crux of the whole Coolacrease story. To understand it, the location and topography must be grasped. The Pearsons’ house stands about a hundred metres off the Birr-Tullamore road. In 1921 it was surrounded by trees. The location of the roadblock was several hundred metres back along the road in the direction of Birr, about half-way between the Pearsons house and the village of Cadamstown. A single tree on the roadside was being cut down to make a roadblock, as part of county-wide manoeuvres in support of a proposed ambush of Crown forces near Birr. The purpose of the Cadamstown roadblock was to hinder the movement of Crown forces from Tullamore to Birr. The tree was at the point on the roadside where the Pearsons’ land adjoined the farm of JJ Horan, an IRA member who had been arrested and jailed the day following the confrontation with the Pearsons over the mass path. It was not “the Pearsons’ tree”. It was a considerable distance from their house. Retired RIC man Bert Hogg visited the Pearsons regularly, and on that particular evening was arrested by the roadblock party as he made his way home towards Lackamore on the far side of Cadamstown. (As a loyalist, he could not be relied on.) The noise of sawing and chopping would have been audible at the Pearson house across the fields. There was no prior confrontation or conversation with Richard Pearson. About ten minutes after the arrest of Hogg, the Pearsons arrived at the roadblock, walking along the public road. Mick Heaney was on sentry duty on that side of the roadblock. When he challenged them they shot him in the stomach and neck. Tom Donnelly was on sentry duty on the Cadamstown side of the roadblock, and he ran towards Mick Heaney and fired at the Pearsons. They fired again and wounded Donnelly in the head, and Hogg in the leg and back as he tried to run away towards Cadamstown. According to the RIC report, the Pearsons thought they had killed one of the IRA men.

Pr. Rich. English….[vo]
The Pearsons are merely doing what any law abiding citizen should do and legally they are within their rights to defend their land and as they would see it, to protect it against terrorist activity.

******* COMMENT:
The British and loyalist interpretation of the context is provided here. Nowhere in this sequence is the Irish view given of a citizen volunteer defence force bravely risking their lives, against vastly stronger terror forces, on behalf of the legitimate, democratically elected government.


MICHAEL Donnelly…[vo]
My uncle Tom Donnelly returned fire. He wounded one of the Pearsons, but he was also wounded himself.

Paddy Heaney…[vo]
Mick Heaney, on the first blast of the shotgun, - the lead embedded in the scarf around his neck and he was shot also in the stomach.

Sen. Eoghan Harris….[I/v]
I dunno if they hit anybody or not. Paddy Heaney says they did. I dunno. When Paddy Heaney tells me things like that I want documentary corroboration in evidence.

******* COMMENT:
Is it possible that a whole community without exception could conform to a lie, that Mick Heaney could simulate his crippled condition for several years, and that he could conveniently die young just to give the appearance of truth to this invention? And that this lie could be upheld for generations? The programme challenged this version, but found no evidence against it and nobody to deny it.

Paddy Heaney…[vo]
Those men who were there that night, and I spoke to most of them, they all maintain that the Pearsons deliberately shot at Mick Heaney and Tom Donnelly that night.


Sometime later the local police inspector did report the allegation that the Pearson had shot and wounded two local IRA men. However, there was no official investigation into what actually happened that night. Both sides do agree that there were no fatalities. But the incident would be used to justify what was to come.

******* COMMENT:
The “local police inspector” was the County Inspector of Queen’s County RIC. The wording is of a fact, not an allegation. The Irish military conducted an official investigation. The RIC had the Pearsons in their custody and could interrogate them at their convenience. A retired RIC officer was shot (by the Pearsons) at the roadblock. In the circumstances of war the incident was ample justification for what was to come – the punishment inflicted by the legitimate, democratic authority on combatants who had taken up arms against that authority.

It allowed the local IRA to express the fears they had about the Pearsons. It justified their paranoia. It justified their social resentment at their landholding. And now they had a reason.

******* COMMENT:
This rhetoric re-states the earlier, unfounded speculation about land envy. It is entirely on one side of the argument, and is not balanced by any rebuttal or relevant balancing contribution. It trivializes the military challenge that the Pearsons presented to the legitimate, elected government.

Paddy Heaney…[i/v]
T’was coming to them. The writing was on the wall for the Pearsons. if they would keep their heads down and kept with the local people they’d still be there today.

******* COMMENT:
Paddy Heaney is given the appearance of having the last word, but the words are in no way a rebuttal or debunking of the previous rhetoric – a rebuttal which would have been very easy for him to do if the programme had been inclined to give him any such opportunity.

End of part one

CU …….big ominous night sky…..
[blast of gothic choral music]
CU,S……lads in woods with guns
[dramatic music]
CU,S…….men in woods
CU .........Stanley
CU’S....men shouting at each other
Dick Pearson: “Who goes there?” IRA man: “Mind your own business, Pearson.”
D.P.: “You have no right to be on this land.”
D.P. points gun upwards. Gun fired upwards into the air.

******* COMMENT:
The reconstruction affirms Alan Stanley’s father’s version of the (Amish-like!) Pearsons firing into the air. So maybe Mick Heaney just had a bad fall off his bicycle! Stanley’s version is accepted and portrayed uncritically, even though he obtained it from the highly unreliable William Stanley, while Paddy Heaney’s version, corroborated by many different sources, is ignored. According to Paddy Heaney, the Pearsons fired without challenge or warning. The words “Who goes there?” were spoken – by Mick Heaney, not Dick Pearson. And that was all that was said. The location pictured by Hidden History bears no resemblance whatever to the physical location on the Birr-Tullamore road where the action took place.

CU,S……scene in woods acted out.
Shotgun fired horizontally.
CU Man firing gun horizontally
CU……..woods scene
Pearson aiming shotgun horizontally. Gun fired horizontally (shooter not shown).
CU…..woods scene
CU…Portion of page of contemporary document shown, the words “Revenge by I.R.A.” visible. The document is not identified, but it is the from the papers related to the British Military Courts of Enquiry in Lieu of Inquests.
CU……Group of young peasant men sit around table in cottage…..conspiring…
[blast of music]

End of part one

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Sat Jan 19, 2008 10:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mansergh letter:
Examiner, 7 January 2008

Hidden History debate casts light into some dark corners

THE Irish Examiner is to be congratulated on the amount of space it has given in its letter columns to the debate on Niamh Sammon’s Hidden History programme on RTÉ on the killings at Coolacrease.

The charge that the programme was insufficiently nuanced may well be true, but reflects in large part the limitations of TV history, limitations which are offset by visual opportunities with which cold print can rarely compete.

In any age, executions rarely reflect well on the perpetrators and, when carried out on a large scale, can ruin a cause. They did not happen on any large scale on the Irish side in 1916-1921, though the 1922-3 period was slightly worse.

The justification of military necessity is doubtful in the case of Coolacrease. Did the Pearsons think they were challenging marauders cutting a tree on their property at a time of much lawlessness, or did they fully realise that they were taking on the local IRA?

For most people, the legitimacy of the independence struggle is not an issue, though that does not mean every individual action in support of it was necessarily right or justified, or should be defended. The fate of the small Protestant minority in the South during the revolutionary period is undoubtedly a problem area, notwithstanding a small number who participated actively in the revolution (they too could be suspect), or the Southern unionist elite who were found a place in the Irish Free State Senate.

However, by far the largest number of casualties on each side consisted firstly of IRA volunteers and, secondly, of RIC men, a force which was at least 80% Catholic outside of Ulster and quite often Irish-speaking. The War of Independence, for that reason, cannot possibly be described as sectarian.

During a conflict in which most were bystanders, the minority in the South were undoubtedly vulnerable and, in many cases, suspect.

To the extent that they relied on the British connection, they were on the losing side. Anyone from that background who got in the way could expect to get hurt, and reprisals could be savage and disproportionate. Their continued presence and the integrity of their property, and whether they were considered to be just harmless Protestants or loyalists as well, were matters largely at the discretion of the local IRA, in a complete reversal of the local power relationships that had existed up to a couple of generations previously.

The policy that de Valera and Collins were articulating just before the Truce took as a model the approach of the rebels vis-à-vis the loyalists in the American War of Independence, that “when the enemy began to burn or destroy any town, to burn and destroy the houses and properties of all Tories and enemies to the freedom and independence of America ... always taking care not to hurt them or their families with wanton cruelties.” (Piaras Beaslaí’s Life of Collins).

That is largely what happened in 1920-1. Far more left the country or, in the case of some estates, had their houses burnt. Relatively few lost their lives, but, and maybe it was a close-run thing, the majority of Southern Protestants survived in situ and were allowed to remain with their property more or less intact. It can be questioned whether the treatment meted out to the Pearsons met the standard of avoiding ‘wanton cruelties’. There was an unresolved tension between the exigencies and pressures of a barely successful battle against a vastly superior power to cast off colonial and settler domination and the creation thereafter of an equal and tolerant society which, in the short or long-term, could be any way attractive to those who had determined that Northern Ireland would opt out. There are hidden histories and tragedies to be explored on the losing side, to which neither blanket defence nor blanket condemnation of the War of Independence is likely to do justice.

The transformation of relations that has occurred since, especially in recent times, means that, as with the Civil War previously, the taboos against exploring the meaning of historical dark corners should be lifted. Reconciliation requires a full and rounded appreciation of the past.

Dr Martin Mansergh TD

Unpublished reply to Mansergh, sent to Examiner on
8 January 2008:

The Ultimate Taboo: War or Democracy

Martin Mansergh's defence of RTÉ's Coolacrease programme won't pass muster (Letters 07 January 2008). If television uses fewer words and more images than "cold print", that surely obliges television producers to choose the words with even greater care. The difference between "groin" and "genitals" may escape Dr. Mansergh's political colleague, Senator Harris, who has honestly stated his view that he regards facts as unimportant in comparison with the higher truth which he sees. But it is a difference of basic fact rather than "nuance". And the national broadcaster, who dominates the air waves, should have some concern with factual accuracy.

What was at issue in 1921 was not merely "the legitimacy of the independence struggle", as it was with the Easter Rising and the Fenians, but whether the democratic political mandate of the Irish electorate was to be over-ridden by British military power.

Most people were not "bystanders" on that issue. They had voted. And, if most people were not active in the war, that is usually the case in all wars. Unless Dr. Mansergh thinks the crucial thing was the war rather than the vote it is hard to understand his argument.

The Pearsons knew what the democracy had decided, but they chose the other side. If there was "much lawlessness" in the country at the time that was because British power was deployed against the clear decision of the democracy. The Pearsons took sides with the Imperial Power in the attempt to make the country ungovernable by the democracy.

Dr. Mansergh suggests that they may not have been aware of what was going on in the country and were protecting their property against vandals. But the "property", the tree the Republicans were cutting down for ambush, was where it was needed for an ambush: on the side of the road and about half a mile from their house.

I'm all for breaking "taboos", but not at the expense of historical fact. The greatest of all taboos, which RTE has never addressed, or Dr. Mansergh, is the decision of the first democratically-elected British Parliament to act in the old Imperialist mode and make war on the Irish who had been so presumptuous as to vote themselves independent.

Pat Muldowney

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Mon Jan 21, 2008 09:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The above letter was published in today's Examiner.

author by Anti_Stalinistpublication date Mon Jan 21, 2008 13:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Most people were not "bystanders" on that issue. They had voted. And, if most people were not active in the war, that is usually the case in all wars. "

Excuse me, when did the Irish people "vote" to sentence the Pearsons to a slow agonising
death? Why didn't the executioners deliver the "coup de grace" like decent human beings?
There's a whole difference between the legitmacy of the War of Independence and the
IRA abandoning the rules of war.

Typical Stalinist drivel from the Loyalists-turned-Provos of the Aubane Historical Society.

Keep trying, lads, one day you'll get your thirty pieces of silver......

author by Celticpublication date Mon Jan 21, 2008 14:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

By far the more interesting and accurate letter is the one from Brendan Cafferty in the same paper, The Irish Examiner:

21 January 2008

Large areas of the country were denuded of Protestants and those remaining only hung on by a thread

IT is difficult to fathom what Dr Martin Mansergh TD really is saying on hidden history and the fate of Protestants in or around the 1920s (Letters, January 7).

He gives a sort of grudging approval to Niamh Sammon’s excellent TV programme on the Coolacrease killings, but then says “the charge that the programme was insufficiently nuanced may well be true”.

Also he stated that the justification of military necessity is doubtful in the case of Coolacrease and, most astonishingly, that it can be questioned whether the treatment meted out to the Pearsons met the standard of avoiding “wanton cruelties”. I wonder what he would call cruelty, in fact, if leaving the two boys for hours to die in agony is an issue when even some of the supporters of this slaughter said that those who carried out the shooting should have been courtmartialled for not delivering the coup de grâce.

Dr Mansergh, perhaps unwittingly, gets to the core issue when he says the minority (who were basically Protestant and British in outlook) who got in the way could expect to get hurt.

Tom Barry said much the same: “We never killed a man because of his religion, but we had to face up to facts. The most salient fact was that nearly all Protestants were unionist”.

So political views counted.

Dr Mansergh also is on shaky ground when he says the killing of Catholic RIC men was evidence of non-sectarianism.

Indeed the first RIC man killed was in Co Tipperary. He was a Constable McDonnell from Co Mayo, whose descendants I know and they still feel the hurt. He was a widower with seven children and was known to his slayer Dan Breen, a ruthless killer who later became a TD for South Tipperary.

Those men were killed because they wore the police uniform, albeit with the harp and crown.

The modern IRA blood brothers, in the recent, dirty 30 years of killing in the North, also killed Catholic RUC men, but the overall effect was most felt by the Protestant population in those ethnic cleansing years.

What we are talking about is the disappearance of the Protestant population at the time. It is estimated that well in excess of 40,000 left or were intimidated out — that is apart altogether from those who left because they were directly connected with the British, army, police, big houses, etc. Many were ordinary small farmers and artisans. Many examples exist around the country, but I will quote some from Dr Mansergh’s own county.

On August 5, 1921, Dr Miller, Bishop of Cashel, said that “five of our members have been foully murdered without the slightest justification”.

In November 1922, the same bishop appealed to Protestants in the area not to emigrate in the face of intimidation.

Rev Sterling Berry wrote to the Minister for Home Affairs on June 10, 1922 that in the area of Templederry, Silvermines and Ballinclough there was “scarcely a Protestant family which had escaped molestation. Houses have been burned; Protestant families have been forced to leave neighbourhoods; altogether a state of terrorism exists”.

There are many such examples in other places. Even after the Treaty, such things occurred.

To see the evidence one only has to look around. The minority population never recovered from this cataclysm.

Large areas of the country were denuded of Protestants and those remaining only hung on by a thread.

While other things like mixed marriages counted, only a Holocaust-denier would say the events at issue here and surrounding the 1920s did not matter.

Brendan Cafferty
Creggs Road
Co Mayo

author by tony mullenpublication date Mon Jan 21, 2008 20:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sectarian or not? Presbyterian view of IRA actions in War of Independence

IN his letter headlined 'Why IRA killers of the Pearson boys were guilty of a war crime (December 17), Brendan Cafferty gives what appears to be very damning evidence of republicans' attitude towards Protestants during the War of Independence.

He quotes from an editorial in the Belfast Presbyterian paper, The Witness, on June 17, 1921: "The plight of the Protestants in the south and west is sad in the extreme. They are marked, they are watched, they are raided; some of them have been dragged out and shot like beasts. An air of suspicion and dread is about them day and night."

Like knowledge, a little quoting is a dangerous thing. Mr Cafferty should have quoted some more of the editorial to give this extract its proper context. Far from republicans causing problems for Protestants, the editorial actually says the opposite. It says that Protestants, as Protestants, had no choice but to oppose the democratically elected republican government (twice elected by June 1921) and that was the source of the problem.

But let the editorial, headlined The State of the Country, speak for itself. It began as follows: "The Honourable HM Pollock, DL, MP, Minister of Finance in the Northern Parliament, presented the Report on the State of the Country in the General Assembly last Friday, and called attention to certain deplorable facts of which we are all more or less cognisant." (This is interesting in itself. The finance minister of the new government of Northern Ireland reports to the governing body of a church on the state of the country. Did Michael Collins, as Minster for Finance in the Dáil, ever consider reporting to Maynooth?)

The Witness editorial continued: "He (Mr Pollock) referred in particular to the sufferings and persecution of Protestants, which undeniably form a part of the Sinn Féin policy of vengeance upon those who in any way stand opposed to this crusade of wickedness and wish to see the law of civilised society prevail. "The Sinn Féiners, of course, deny that Protestants as such are persecuted and there is an amount of truth in their contention, for their vengeance falls upon all who hinder them without regard to creed or class.

"But it is easy to see that this does not invalidate Mr Pollock's assertion of the persecution of Protestants, for Protestants are loyal and law-abiding and feel it as a duty which they owe to God and their own conscience to support the forces of the Crown in the repression of crime.

"There is no blinking the fact that this is the line which divides Roman Catholics and Protestants in general at the present time in Ireland. The vast majority of Sinn Féiners are Roman Catholics, and while there must be many Roman Catholics who hate and disapprove of the evil deeds of Sinn Féin, yet the Roman Catholic population as a whole have provided Sinn Féin with a sphere of influence and moral, or rather we should say, immoral, support which render their foul work in Ireland possible.

"Protestants, on the other hand, are the bulwark of liberty and justice and the due administration of law, and it is only natural that Sinn Féiners should look upon them as enemies and wreak their anger upon them.

"Sinn Féiners may say that they do it not because they are Protestants, but because they betray their cause; yet since Protestants cannot do otherwise in virtue of their religion, it comes to the same thing whether we say Protestants are persecuted for their religion, or are persecuted because they will not fall into line with Sinn Féin.

"Mr Pollock is, therefore, perfectly right when he calls attention to the persecution of Protestants and evokes the sympathy of the Church in their behalf. The plight of Protestants in the south and the west (the 26 counties) is sad in the extreme. They are marked, they are watched, they are raided; some of them have been dragged out and shot like beasts; an air of suspicion and dread is about them day and night," The Witness declared.

The subtlety and honesty of the editorial, according to its own lights, seems beyond Mr Cafferty to appreciate, but I hope that readers will see that this fuller extract provides a proper and more comprehensive context.

Such a context is essential when dealing with this subject and it is highly irresponsible to go in for a selective and tabloid approach to what was a life-and-death issue.

Jack Lane Aubane Millstreet Co Cork

author by Will Andersonpublication date Tue Jan 22, 2008 13:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The 'History Ireland Editorial' and Brian Hanley's article criticised the shoddy sensationalism of the RTE programme, particularly the unsupported Eoghan Harris allegation of 'sexual mutilation' and the 'land grabbing' claim.

Offaly people (and Indymedia people) read the criticism - do RTE people?

Tullamore Tribune reports 'History Ireland' criticism of programme
Tullamore Tribune reports 'History Ireland' criticism of programme

RTE Coolacrease programme - an exercise in media spin - Tullamore Trib 16 Jan 08
RTE Coolacrease programme - an exercise in media spin - Tullamore Trib 16 Jan 08

Brian Hanley of NUI Maynooth criticises RTE programme - History Ireland JanFeb08
Brian Hanley of NUI Maynooth criticises RTE programme - History Ireland JanFeb08

Full page given over to coverage of flawed RTE exercise - 16 Jan 08
Full page given over to coverage of flawed RTE exercise - 16 Jan 08

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Thu Feb 07, 2008 21:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hidden History: The Killings at Coolacrease
Section 7. "The land… of course… the land"




[Interview/voice over]
Alan Stanley… (VO)
Its very hard not to wonder if somebody who knew that truce was imminant did not decide, “Well look lads, there’s some nice pickings here, lets go for it.” I know its very dangerous to say that… but the land… of course… the land… of Ireland for the people of Ireland.

JJ Dillon… (VO)
In conflict those things occur. Like hatred comes into it, revenge comes into it.

******* COMMENT:
JJ Dillon’s pacifist, anti-war words could relate to any side in any war. In no way are they balance or rebuttal to the very specific speculative allegations just made by Stanley.

Narrator… (VO)
Days after the shoot out on the Pearsons land the local IRA met to decide the fate of the Pearson family. For IRA commander Tom Burke, there was now no going back, no second chances.

Actors Voice…(statement of Tom Burke):
“C Company the Third Battalion reported to me on the twenty sixth of June 1921. That some of their men had been fired on a few nights previously, whilst engaged in a road blockade operation, by three men armed with shot guns. As a result, one of their men was somewhat seriously injured”.

Ph. Mc Conway (VO)…
If the local IRA were to be criticised, it was that they were too lenient and that they showed consistent restraint, given the provocation by the Pearsons. And that restraint almost cost the lives of two volunteers.

Actors Voice (statement of Tom Burke)(VO)…
“These Pearsons had always displayed open hostility towards the IRA and have been active in promoting the Ulster Volunteer movement in their district in which there are a number of Planters. There are good grounds for suspecting the family of transmitting information”.

******* COMMENT:
Land Grabbing, Ethnic Cleansing and Sectarianism: the Luggacurran Planter Connection, posted by Pat Muldowney Thu Nov 15, 2007 09:02.
The background of William Stanley, the Luggacurran Planters, and their Ulster connections, shows how the words of Thomas Burke have some substance.

Pr. Rich. English.. (I/V)…
It’s quite comforting if you do target people, afterwards to build up as much as much justifications as possible. I think the real justification lay in the fact that the IRA and their authority in the area had been challenged in an unacceptable way and in order to show who is boss in the area they had to teach the Pearsons a lesson. You can exert your authority and in the long run you can also maximise access to land.

******* COMMENT:
The Irish Military Court of Enquiry was held before the executions. English has no grounds for supposing that Thomas Burke invented these reasons retrospectively in order to justify the executions. English has presented no grounds for doubting the validity of this official Enquiry, and for substituting the list of speculative and unfounded reasons he has presented here.

Actors Voice (statement of Tom Burke)(VO)…
“Having satisfied myself by enquiries that there was no doubt about the identity of the men who fired. I ordered that these men be executed and their houses destroyed.”

Ph. Mc Conway (VO)…
Ultimately it was the senior IRA leadership who took the decision to execute. In the context of the times it was a necessary military action to protect and safeguard local republicans.

P.Heaney (I/V)…
And when they got their orders, it had to be carried out. They had no choice. No, indeed.


Stanley (VO)…
The warning came from a person in the community. By giving the warning he put himself at great risk. The postman came and said to Mrs. Pearson “Get your sons out of here. I am in the IRA myself” he said. “I was at a meeting . It was decided they would be shot” he said. “I don’t have a stomach for it.” That’s all I remember my father saying.

P. Heaney (VO)…
No, the family never were tipped off. It wasn’t possible for the Pearsons to be tipped off by anybody local. It couldn’t be possible. It didn’t happen.

{Pages 36, 37 and 68 of Alan Stanley’s book I met Murder on the way, 2nd edition, 2005: “The postman [Delahunty, page 68] came to deliver the mail. ... he said he had attended an [IRA] meeting at which the decision had been made to kill Richard, Abe and [William Stanley/Jimmy Bradley].”
Jim Delahunty was Quartermaster of the Cadamstown IRA and was one of the IRA party attacked by the Pearsons-Stanley/Bradley at the road-block two weeks earlier. He was arrested and jailed in the round-up following the attack on the road-block, before the Pearsons were executed. His father Tim Delahunty had been postman; he died in 1919. Tim’s sister Bess Grennan was the acting postman during 1919-24. No letters were delivered to the Pearsons’ house; they collected their post themselves from McAllister’s Post Office.
(If they were engaged in communication with the British military, this would be a more secure way of dealing with correspondence. The statement in question is by William Stanley; a similar statement was made by David Pearson in 1983 (pages 46, 48). He said that his father William Pearson and brother Sydney left Coolacrease House after this information was received as “they felt they had done nothing to provoke the IRA,” and he argues that if they really were spies and informers they would have gone to the police. But spying/informing are quite different from seeking protection against a death threat. If they were innocent they can hardly be criticised now for seeking out whatever protection that could be provided, from any source, against an unwarranted threat.)
Jim Delahunty became postman in 1924. From 1982 Alan Stanley consulted Tom Mitchell of Kinnitty, who lived next door to Jim Delahunty, still alive at that time. Yet Stanley neglected to interview this crucial witness. Just as he did not publish his version until all the volunteer soldiers who defended the democratically elected government against military dictatorship were dead and safely out of the way, unable to contradict him or to defend their reputations against slander. (For details see Stanley, page 68.)}

Pr. R. English (VO)…
It’s claimed that the Pearsons got a warning on the day of the 30th of June 1921. The family, it appears, thought that this was just a warning that was intended to frighten them out. Ah, William Pearson and one of his sons ,Sydney, were away from the estate leaving the two boys, Richard, who was 24 and Abraham ,who was 19, ah, on their own in terms of protection, and leaving the rest of the family, the women, effectively defenceless.

Heaney (VO)…
I suppose the Pearsons were marked men. They were very arrogant, we are told, and they brought that on themselves because, speaking to Protestant people who knew the Pearsons well, they were told to keep their heads down. But they didn’t listen to those people.

P. Mc Conway (VO)…
They were extreamly arrogant toward their neighbours, they had a profound disdain for local Republicans, including the Irish Volunteers, whom they openly antagonised and provoked.


Alan Stanley (VO)…
My father was aware of the warning and he thought the warning was genuine. He had his eyes peeled. He was the first to see them. He told the two boys to run for their lives. He himself ran. He was a very good runner.

P. Heaney (VO)…
He ran zig zag down across the field. The local OC with the column, ordered a couple of men down to fire on him.

Stanley (VO)…
He actually called out a second time for the boys to run but they were rooted to the spot.

Heaney (VO)…
Then the Pearsons were brought up to the house, the Pearson family was there. The girls were very aggressive, more aggressive than the brothers, or their parents.

Olive Boothman, Grandniece/Susan Pearson(I/V)…
My mother was there. They were told the house was going to be burnt and they were all brought out in to the yard including Aunt Susan.

P.McConway (VO)..
According to IRA regulations at the time any Loyalist who attempted to resist the IRA forfeited their property to the Irish state. That included burning the house down.


P.Heaney (VO)…
Well, reading Michael Cordial’s report… Michael was involved with the local IRA. He gave the report that when the house was fired the roof lifted off from explosions. Well, it was known locally that the Pearsons had ammunition stored in their house.

Narrator (VO)…
What Michael Cordial’s statement actually said is that heavy explosions were heard when the house was burning. One possible explanation for the explosion was later accounted by IRA commanding officer on the day, Joe Connolly.

******* COMMENT:
Nobody denies that the Pearsons had guns and ammunition in the house. They attacked the roadblock with them (or, if we are to believe the version of the Luggacurran paramilitary William Stanley, they “fired in the air”, leaving unexplained the gunshot wounds suffered by Mick Heaney, Tom Donnelly, and retired RIC man Bert Hogg). The only question is about the quantity of armaments they held. Michael Cordial’s Witness Statement says: “Heavy explosions were heard while the house was burning which indicated that a large amount of ammunition was stored in it.” To start a fire in a house you need inflammable material such as hay, which, even in summer, can usually be found in a farmyard. Did the IRA party, travelling on foot from distant parts (the local IRA had all been arrested the week before), bring enough petrol – a barrel, say – to cause “several heavy explosions”? It is likely they brought a can or two, which if poured or splashed carelessly on burning hay would ignite and possibly engulf the person holding the can. That is what the following statement by Michael Connolly indicates. It does not explain several large explosions.

Michael Connolly (Son of Joe Connolly) (I/V)…
Daddy got petrol and, ah, threw it in on the floor and there was an explosion once it lit up and he was thrown back into the yard.

Ruth Kelly (VO)….
It exploded when it was set alight. But of course it exploded!! They filled it with petrol!!

******* COMMENT:
As usual, the Pearson side is given the opportunity to debunk the case against them. But this advantage is not reciprocated. Even though it is quite easy to debunk the latter remark. There is a great difference between a small amount of petrol bursting into flame - which might cause somebody close by to be thrown backwards - and a quantity of ammunition blowing the roof off a house. The latter would kill anyone nearby, not throw them off their feet.

Alan Stanley (VO)…
The women were all brought out in to the court yard. The two boys were stood against the wall.

******* COMMENT:
According to the evidence given by Ethel Pearson to the British Military Court of Enquiry in Lieu of Inquest held in Birr on July 2 1921: “My mother who was in a fainting condition was carried by my two brothers into a little wood we call the Grove and we all went with her by the order of the raiders.” So according to this the women were not taken to the yard, but to a place from where the interior of the enclosed yard was not visible. She does NOT say they were taken to the yard. She does say the following: “I saw the raiders search my brothers and place them against the wall of the barn and shoot them”, even though this was physically impossible from the Grove. The bogus atrocity stories of the Pearsons began very quickly and grew into William Pearson’s 1927 version which has 500 IRA raiders descending on the house and shooting his daughter. These statements of the Pearsons (and of William Stanley) have to be taken with great caution. There is no indication that the Hidden History programme used any critical judgement in assessing them. They were presented uncritically, the fact there was a British Court of Enquiry was not disclosed, and no balancing views were expressed.


CU…..men sitting around
Table ….conspiring
CU….faces looking tense
CU ….men around table
[eerie music]
CU …….mountains
CU……hand stubs out cigarette
CU….men around table
[doomy music]
CU….men around table…
CU ….hard faced men [actors]…around table…
CU….men around table…
[mood music]
CU… blue cigarette smoke …..snakes up slowly
CU McConway
CU …face looks out cottage window
[mood music]
[dramatic burst of music]
CU…conspirators…shotgun being loaded
CU…..bicycle on road…
CU ..Postman on bike..
CU…agitated postman..
[mood music]
CU….scared postman knocks on door…door opens…
WS… postman on bike cycling …then he “vanishes”
WS/CU’S…various…fields ..
CU’S..Pearson boys pitching hay in sunny field
WS…men running through woods with guns
CU …Pearson boy and Wm Stanley…[actors]
[mood music build up with slashing fx]
CU…Pearsons pitching hay
[build up …mood music…]
CU…Wm Stanley pitching hay..[actor]….
WS….Posse of IRA men appear over brow of hill..
CU….Stanley runs off..
CU..Pearsons..”rooted to the spot”
CU…IRA give chase…Capture the Pearsons…
CU…IRA men attack Pearsons house…
CU… wedding photo..Pearsons
CU…. Boothman
CU,S….IRA taking Family out of house…..setting house alight….
CU’S…military archive statement…1712….Michael Cordial…Kinnitty..Co Offaly
CU’S…various…Pearsons house burning….
Pearson’s house burnt out
CU….archive..,Joe Connelly…in free state uniform..
CU’s…house burning…
CU’s…. house burning
CU’S…various….women and men being roughly manhandled in yard and men being put up against wall…with 5 (!) adult women watching. (There were 4 adult women present in Coolacrease on June 30 1921.)

author by Ganelinpublication date Thu Feb 07, 2008 23:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So many holes in Pat's "critical" commentary, it's difficult to know where to start.

Here's a couple:

1) "men being put up against wall…with 5 (!) adult women watching. (There were 4 adult women present in Coolacrease on June 30 1921.)"

Actually there were six (the programme understated it):

Susan Pratt Pearson (mother)
Susan Matilda (Tilly) (sister)
Ethal May (sister)
Emily (Emma) (sister)
Kitty Pratt (niece of Susan Pearson)
Evelyn Pearson (11-year old niece of William Pearson)

Contrary to Cordial, McConway, Muldowney et al, none of the women (including the eleven-year old child) was removed from the scene - as stated by the evidence given, by members of the family, under oath, at a court of enquiry on Saturday 2nd July 1921.

2) "Nobody denies that the Pearsons had guns and ammunition in the house".

Yes they do. Alan Stanley states in his book that they certainly would have had a couple of guns as most farmers had then (and now) for getting rid of vermin and stray dogs. But not the "explosives" that Paddy Heaney claimed they had. Paddy Heaney's cousin, John Joe Dillon has stated elsewhere that his father was on a raid on the house a week before the shootings. A search was made of the house and no ammunition or explosives were found.

I could go on.

But at this rate, we'd be here all night.

author by Maedhbh Massonpublication date Fri Feb 08, 2008 08:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You'll have to do better than that, Niamh, if you want to save your career!

According to Alan Stanley's book, the four adults in Coolacrease on the day were Susan Pearson (aged 50), Matilda Pearson (23), Ethel Pearson (21), and Kitty Pratt (20). The others were not adults - Evelyn Pearson (11), Dave Pearson (15) and Emily Pearson (16). The 15 year-old Dave Pearson didn't hardly figure in your programme even though he was one of the most important characters in the story told by Alan Stanley.

If your programme were to be anything other than propaganda you should have stuck to the facts. You had no business either over-stating or under-stating anything.

Here is what Ethel Pearson swore to at the Courts of Inquiry on July 2 1921: "My mother who was in a fainting condition was carried by my two brothers into a little wood we call the Grove and we all went with her by the order of the raiders. Six of the raiders, two or three of whom were masked, ordered my brothers down into the yard. I saw the raiders search my brothers and place them against the wall of the barn and shoot them. There were about six or eight who shot and they used rifles and shotguns." This is not what you put in your programme.

Muldowney posted it to the previous thread http://www.indymedia.ie/article/84547 on November 17 last. Incidentally, where would we be without Muldowney? You didn't even mention this crucial evidence in your propaganda, sorry, programme. We'd STILL be in the dark about all this if it were down to you and Eoghan!

Muldowney argues that the women and Dave couldn't see into the yard from the Grove, so Ethel Pearson must have lied under oath - either the 4 women and 3 children were NOT taken to the Grove or Ethel Pearson did NOT see what was going on back in the farmyard. And it's not hard to guess which of the two statements was the perjury.

I don't know whether Muldowney's argument is right or not. Really, somebody should post the Ordnance Survey map to this thread. Also, the Pearsons took to lying outrageously about what happened, that's clear from the other document that Muldowney posted, on November 18, in which William Pearson wrote that "There were about 500 men engaged in the outrage and the boys were put up against a wall, compelled to watch their home being burnt, and were then riddled with bullets by a squad of 10 men. One of their sisters tried to save them and a volley was fired at her and the hair was cut away from her scalp by bullets."

As to your final point, Niamh, you just CONFIRMED that the Pearsons had guns and ammo stored in the house! DOH!!

author by Ganelinpublication date Fri Feb 08, 2008 13:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That Maedhbh Masson should write:

"The others were not adults - Evelyn Pearson (11), Dave Pearson (15) and Emily Pearson (16)"

is reprehensible even by Indymedia's low standards.

Maedhbh Masson wrote:

"You'll have to do better than that, Niamh, if you want to save your career!"

This writer can confirm that he is not Niamh Sammon. I doubt that she would engage with the dregs that is Indymedia.
Maedhbh Masson, are you Pat Muldowney?

Maedhbh Masson wrote:

"As to your final point [...] you just CONFIRMED that the Pearsons had guns and ammo stored in the house! DOH!!"

To repeat Maedhbh Masson, because you didn't seem to get it the first time:

"they certainly would have had a couple of guns as most farmers had then (and now) for getting rid of vermin and stray dogs But not the "explosives" that Paddy Heaney claimed they had".

A farming family having a couple guns doesn't amount to them running a militia, as Pat Muldowney frequently claims. The "ammo" and "explosives" that Paddy Heaney bangs on about just don't stand up. Ask his cousin, John Joe Dillon.

To repeat Maedhbh Masson, because you didn't seem to get it the first time:

"John Joe Dillon has stated elsewhere that his father was on a raid on the house a week before the shootings. A search was made of the house and no ammunition or explosives were found". Give him a ring. He'd be happy to confirm this.

Maedhbh Masson wrote:

"Where would we be without Muldowney? [the programme] didn't even mention this crucial evidence in your propaganda, sorry, programme. We'd STILL be in the dark about all this..."

Yes the programme did mention it. Some weeks after, Niamh Sammon clarified the point (for those who didn't get it) in a number of newspapers. This response has been systematically ignored by Pat Muldowney and Indymedia. The best Pat could do in his response was to merely reiterate his original argument. Not very bright.

Maedhbh Masson wrote:

"...so Ethel Pearson must have lied under oath".

How do you reach that conclusion, Maedhbh Masson?

The issue about the "500 men" was dealt with long ago, Maedhbh Masson.
As Alan Stanley says in his book, this was almost certainly a typographical error. All sides agree that that number was way off the mark.

But of course none of the evidence to hand will stop Pat Muldowney on his smear campaign.

author by John Montgomerypublication date Fri Feb 08, 2008 17:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

And History Ireland, the Sunday Business Post, etc......

Are they involved in a smear campaign when they criticise the inadequacy of the Coolacrease programme? What of History Ireland, which singles it out for criticism, while praising other programmes in the RTE Hidden History series? What does our gammy commentator say about that, when she can dredge herself away from the dreary detail?

author by Jokerpublication date Sat Feb 09, 2008 10:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Now now, Meadhbh and John! Be nice to Niamh now that she has graced us with a visit. After all, she has conceded that the Pearsons had a stash of guns and ammunition for use against stray dogs, their neighbours, and other vermin! And the Melbourne Argus newspaper reporter probably picked up the "500 Raiders" story from a typo in a piece of paper in London, not from William Pearson in Australia. Let's be reasonable, coincidences happen!

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Tue Feb 12, 2008 22:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hidden History: The Killings at Coolacrease
Section 8. Play it again, Sam.


Heaney (VO)…
The Court Martial was read out.

Stanley (VO)…
They were told, apparently, that they had been sentenced to death, making it all nice and legal and proper, of course.

P. Heaney (VO)…
The executions were duly carried out.

Stanley (VO)…
They were shot first of all with numerous rounds aimed to the groin area. They had turned their backs as we all might do. Then there was more fire.

******* COMMENT:
The Court of Enquiry shows that the men received mostly superficial gunshot wounds all over their bodies, only one of the to the (right) groin of one of the men. The programme scrupulously excluded all reference to this evidence, and provided no counter-balancing contribution to Stanley’s and Harris’s statements on this point.

Stanley (VO)…
Richard died seven and three quarter hours later. Abraham fourteen hours later. In fact Abraham died the following day, so I imagine that they would have been in unbelievable pain.


Pr. Richard English (VO)…
The details of the killing, dying slowly while bleeding to death made this a particularly ghastly episode, even if one were broadly sympathetic with IRA Republicanism.

******* COMMENT:
Assuming the Pearsons were innocent of the roadblock attack, this statement would be fair. The programme was not entitled to make that assumption on behalf of the viewers, and therefore not entitled to leave this statement without an accompanying statement based on the opposite assumption.

JJ Dillon (VO)…
It was crazy. It was brutal. It was wrong. Even in death a person is entitled to dignity.

******* COMMENT:
This is not a balancing statement. It is in the broadly anti-war spirit of JJ Dillon’s earlier statement“In conflict those things occur. Like hatred comes into it, revenge comes into it.” From this point of view, the blame lies with the party which started the war. And the programme made no effort to give a balanced explanation of the political context out of which the war came.

P. Heaney (VO)…
People resented, I suppose, the way they were shot, but they were executed and that was it.

******* COMMENT:
This is not a balancing contribution giving the just and legitimate war-time reasons for the executions. Any number of Paddy Heaney’s statements explaining these could have been inserted here. Editorially, the programme chose a statement which does not include such a reason. The viewers thus get an impression of a hard, unfeeling person who needs no reason for such a measure.


Sen. Eoghan Harris (VO)…
That’s not an execution. That s an atrocity. Shooting them very deliberately, in the genitals, in their sexual parts, in their sexual organs, what it really says is you are the other, you are an outsider, we hate you, go away and die.

******* COMMENT:
This statement is contrary to the evidence that the Pearsons were guilty of what they were charged with, and is contrary to the medical evidence. It unjustly charges those involved in the executions with attitudes, and with a crime, for which there is no evidence. This statement is the most highly charged part of the programme, and was the basis of the resulting bogus propaganda in the media. If the programme was fair, impartial and objective, it would have provided an equally strong statement of the opposite case.

Michael Mc Conway (VO)…
The IRA botched the execution in that they didn’t finish them off with head shots. In hindsight it was wrong for the IRA to allow the mother and sisters to witness the executions. But the female members of the Pearsons were deemed to be as hostile as their brothers to the local volunteers.

******* COMMENT:
This does not provide balance or rebuttal (for which there is plenty of evidence well known to the programme makers) to the preceding statement of Harris. Harris has been enabled by the programme to make a powerful, but unjustified, case. Philip McConway has explained that the programme makers knew before broadcast that new evidence had caused him to change his opinion on whether the Pearson women had seen the executions. The programme knowingly and consciously misrepresented him.

JJ Dillon (VO)…
A lot of their people, they weren’t trained to kill. They were overawed, frightened, they were victims as well in a different kind of way, probably haunted by it, maybe for the rest of their lives.

******* COMMENT:
This is a broad anti-war statement similar to those expressed earlier by JJ Dillon. Having allowed Harris to make an unchallenged allegation of atrocity, this statement of JJ Dillon’s is not a counter-statement, it actually reinforces Harris’s position. JJ Dillon’s humanitarian, anti-war sentiment is used to buttress the political position of Harris. This would not have been possible if the case had been made for the guilt of the Pearsons, and their complicity in the imperial onslaught against Irish democracy. Responsibility for the war, and the consequent horrors, lie with the side which resorted to force to overturn the democratically expressed choice of the voters by making the country ungovernable by the legitimate, elected government


Edna Black…[I/V]..{grand daughter/Wm./Susan Pearson}
I myself lost a son. It was after his death that I sort of thought of my grandmother losing two sons in a tragedy. Its hard just to enter into the depth of} sorrow that she was asked to face into that day by her own fellow countrymen, which is even sadder.

******* COMMENT:
Those attacked by the Pearsons were also afflicted. That aspect should have been included in the summing up. The points made by JJ Dillon could easily have been developed in this direction, instead of being misused to buttress the Harris position.

Sen. Eoghan Harris…[i/v]..
Even if there were shots fired, even if there were rows over mass rocks and rights of way…nothing…nothing…can disturb the starkness of 30 or 40 men going to a farmhouse, pulling two young men, Abe and Richard, out of a field, standing them against a wall, shooting them in the groin, then shooting them in the ass when they turned round in pain and horror and then leaving them to bleed to death. Nothing can disturb that image in the public mind. And I believe that the plain people of Ireland have a good idea that something evil was done that day.


******* COMMENT:
This dramatic, rhetorical conclusion, reiterating earlier unfounded statements, is given powerful, unchallenged and unbalanced display.

CU…IRA firing squad…
CU…faces …Pearson boys
CU…firing squad shoots..
CU…Pearsons fall screaming ..clutching groins..
WS…firing squad fires again with five (!) adult women in background looking on
CU…..womans face in horror…
CU…more firing…
Then…. …[angelic choral music]…
CU…...Pearsons in slow motion… falling to ground…much blood…
Hate-filled face of executioner
CU,…,,Richard on ground writhing in pain being attended by girls…
CU……Abraham bleeding on ground…
[angelic mood music]
CU’s….women attending Pearson boys on ground in yard
CU’s…….women attending boys on ground…plus
[mood music]..
CU’s……bodies on ground..
CU’s …..bleeding boys being attended to by women on ground…..
CU…...bloodied boys again..
[mood music]
[ fade to black]
CU…archive…Pearson women….plus angelic music and re-enactment of firing squad …
CU’S….individual members of firing squad…[actors]
CU…..Susan Pearson..
CU…Sen. Harris
CU…IRA going into house…firing squad fires again….
CU……Pearson family…outside burnt out house
….[.fade to black…]
The gory execution scene is played over and over again. This is the focus and fulcrum of the programme and its political propaganda. It is a powerfully contrived emotional blast. There is not even a gesture towards balance. Feelings of sympathy are artfully evoked in order to overwhelm any remaining faculty of judicious rationality in the viewers. But war consists of combatants on each side attacking and killing combatants on the other side. The moral guilt resides with the authority which caused the war. The human and personal consequences are experienced by everyone involved. The Pearsons chose to get involved in violent conflict with the democracy, when they could very easily have kept out of it. They were not innocent victims. Any violent incident in any war could be presented in a way which focusses on the personal suffering involved, without offering any explanation of the why's and wherefore's. But this documentary was advertised as providing an explanation of what happened in Coolacrease. It did exactly the opposite. These scenes are the high point of the programme's propaganda.

author by Corrypublication date Tue Feb 12, 2008 23:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Earlier in this thread, Pat Muldowney commented;

"These statements of the Pearsons (and of William Stanley) have to be taken with great caution".

For the (very few) readers of this thread, Pat's advice should, at the very least, be applied to his own biased, hackneyed and in the end, pretty inaccurate interpretation of the events.

author by Carrypublication date Wed Feb 13, 2008 11:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The comment above, critical of Pat Muldowney is just that, a comment. No attempt to back it up with an example. For the record, in referring to the "very few" (how does he know?) readers of this thread, Corry might like to be aware of a fact. This thread continues from:

Hidden History or hidden agenda – the real story

It had 307 comments - quite a "few". This one has 61, as of now - it would have been 'fewer' if Corry hadn't bothered to grace us with his presence.

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Wed Feb 20, 2008 12:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hidden History: The Killings at Coolacrease
Section 9. How to turn £2,000 into £10,000


A few days later Richard and Abraham Pearson were buried without ceremony in an unmarked grave in Co. Laois, almost 30 miles from their home.

Jenny Turnnidge..[i/v]..
They couldn’t be buried in their local area. They had to be taken out of the area and they had to be buried without a name.

******* COMMENT:
All graves are unmarked at time of burial. It was up to the Pearsons themselves to mark the graves subsequently. William Pearson was diligent in attending to many other things after the executions, especially anything to do with money. In neglecting to mark the graves, Pearson could hardly plead poverty!

The brothers were buried in Killermogh, in the Aghaboe area where had lived for the earlier part of their lives, where they came from only ten years earlier, the area where their ancestors had lived and died. Newspapers of the time report that issues and disputes tended to arise in burials of Cooneyites. For one thing, they did not have formal church buildings or formal burial grounds of their own. And since Cooneyism only began around 1900, the only mainstream congregation the Pearsons would have been connected with would have been in the place they resided before Cooneyism came into the picture. So it is quite understandable that they were taken to that area, that church, and that graveyard for burial.

Alan Stanley..[vo]…
I spoke to a man who witnessed the burials. He said that as they came out of the church two Crossley type tenders pulled up to the gate .He then saw two soldiers remove two coffins. Two young women followed weeping bitterly. They saw coffins being lowered and instantly the graves being filled and they were gone almost as soon as they arrived.

Paddy Byrne…[Cadamstown resident]…
I asked an old woman, she was an old woman, where were they buried and she said, if they were buried in the bog it would be too good for them. There was bitterness everywhere.

******* COMMENT:
By juxtaposing these two statements, the deliberate (though unfounded) impression is created that the local people somehow were instrumental in unseemly and undignified interment. Burial arrangements had to made from Crinkle Military Barracks in Birr, and had nothing to do with the local people. If we allow the possibility that the Pearsons were guilty of a vicious and unprovoked attack on members of the volunteer citizen army defending the elected government, after they had been welcomed, only a few years earlier, into the bosom of the local community, then the bitter sentiments reported by Paddy Byrne are perfectly understandable.

Sen. Harris…[vo]..
It was only a few days before the Truce. Everybody knew there was going to be a Truce…there was no need for this…

Pr. Rich. English….[i/v]…
There is a particular poignancy in the Pearsons’ story, as I think there is in other conflicts, insofar as immediately before a ceasefire,or before a Truce, because it becomes to look increasingly futile when you look back at through the lens of the Peace which is about to emerge.

******* COMMENT:
The war was most intense at that point, when the Pearsons decided to become active combatants. What happened to Mick Heaney, and to the others who were wounded and imprisoned because of the Pearsons, was also very unfortunate and poignant. This should also have been pointed out by the programme, in the interests of fairness and balance.


After burying their sons, the Pearsons decided to remain on at Coolacrease, living in the coachhouse behind the ruin of their former home.

******* COMMENT:
According to Alan Stanley’s book, and according to William Stanley’s 1927 Grants Committee application, William Stanley moved his family to Wales and England, and stayed in the coach house himself during his subsequent visits to Offaly.

Dr Terence Dooley…[i/v]…
Wm. Pearson had lost his two eldest sons who he had used to run the farm. Essentially he couldn’t get others from the local community to work for him. Raids continued on his property, and his attempts to sell…his cattle were boycotted by the locals. He couldn’t sell his farm because any potential buyer was put off, e.g.,.Wm. Percy, ah, ”The price I offered was 10,000 and I might have gone higher only the people would not allow any outsider to purchase the land. I was not allowed to close the bargain.” So he was becoming squeezed all the time. What he attempted to do was cut his losses by actually selling the land to the Land Commission for around 5000 pounds…

******* COMMENT:
The first sentence is correct. Re the second sentence, the King’s County Chronicle of October 13 1921 quotes William Pearson as saying that his sons had spared him the expense of employing a lot of workmen every year, as one man interested in the work would be worth six who were not. In other words, William Pearson was never too keen on employing locals. Locals who could not afford to be choosy about ANY kind of paid employment. (The same newspaper records the steadily developing atrocity stories being peddled by the Pearsons – no talk now of being moved to the shelter of the Grove; ALL the women, including the mother who was carried to the Grove in a faint, were FORCED to watch the executions in the yard.)

The next three sentences of Dooley’s statement above are based on Pearson’s 1927 application to the British Government’s Grants Committee for loyalists who suffered injury or damages. That document is riddled with lies - the 500 raiders, the shooting of his daughter, about half of the items claimed for turned down as implausible or too obviously unjustified. The Grants Committee papers note that he had sold his farm equipment by public auction and received fair prices for it. The Midland Tribune of August 27 1921 reported that he had refused all bids for his farm when it was put up for public auction on August 23 1921.

The Land Commission document flashed on screen at this point of the programme gives the 1911 purchase price of Coolacrease as £2000, a reasonable price for rather poor land between the bog and the mountain. Land prices went through the floor after the Great War agricultural boom. At £5000, the Land Commission paid a grossly excessive price to Pearson, probably because he extorted it by holding out and, in effect, leaving an economic resource unworked, unlet, unsold, uncultivated. After the prosperous Great War years, and not having had to employ many locals, he had £6000 (the price of three Coolacreases) in the bank, according to his Grant application. So he could afford to put the squeeze on the Land Commission. Dooley’s statement is quite ludricous. The Percy letter is an obvious fraud – probably recognised as such by the Grants Committee, who seemed to swallow the by now out-of-control Pearson atrocity propaganda, and who seemed to latch on to the Percy letter as a device to compensate Pearson, not for his farm (for which he was excessively paid by the Land Commission) but to compensate him for his cleverly spun and highly imaginative atrocity tale.

There was some consolation for the family. The Irish Grants Committee, a British agency, established to compensate loyalists who had lost out during the war, granted Wm. Pearson 7,500 pounds

******* COMMENT:
Bringing the total amount that Pearson received for the land to about £10,000.

Dr. W. Murphy ..[vo]…
Pearson describes himself as an ardent loyalist, but he does so in the context of applying for compensation from the British Government for his sufferings. Therefore, at that time, it is going to be in his interest to describe himself as an ardent loyalist.

******* COMMENT:
Here is how Pearson describes himself: “I was always known as a staunch Loyalist and upholder of the Crown. I assisted the Crown Forces on every occasion”. Using misdirection, Murphy addresses the first part of this and evades the second part. It was perfectly obvious he was a loyalist, he had nothing to prove on this score. Anyway, Murphy accepts him as a loyalist (see this thread, Tue Dec 18, 2007 13:19), so why is he now quibbling about it? The Pearsons crime was not loyalism, but engaging in armed combat against the elected government.


In 1911, the Pearson family had bought the land at Coolacrease. Now, just under a decade later, they were leaving, never to return.

Paddy Heaney [vo]….
When the land was divided by the Irish Land commission, I think two, maybe three whose people were involved in the IRA received parcels of land there ….

******* COMMENT:
Paddy Heaney’s position, well known to the programme, is and always has been, the opposite of what editorial chicanery is ascribing to him here. His position is that the Pearson place was divided by the Land Commission, and farms allocated to people who had nothing to do with the IRA, the first three being ex-British soldiers. Only when these people failed to farm successfully, because of the high repayments to the Land Commission resulting from the price extorted from them by William Pearson, did two or three ex-IRA people get land there.

Pr Rich. English…[vo]
You can justify killing someone on the grounds that they are an enemy of the war for freedom. But it could also be that in this case they own a large farm …as in this case….becomes divided up amongst the local people.This was an attack not just on the Pearson boys who were actually killed. It was an attack which drove effectively the Pearsons out.

******* COMMENT:
Having deliberately turned Paddy Heaney’s words and meaning into the opposite of what the programme knew he meant, English is allowed to expand on his unfounded speculations, seemingly as if Paddy Heaney was providing actual evidence for his speculations - not a shred of which could English produce himself.

CU …Tunnidge
CU…..laneway…flowers in foreground.
CU….Killermogh church in Co Laois
CU…..inside empty church..
C U….Byrne
Archive…B&w shots of Truce…
CU….burnt out house…Pearson family in foreground…
CU…...cows ..sheds………………...cattle…
CU……Advert in paper to sell farm…
CU……letter…Wm Percy
CU… archive…Irish Grant Committee document, showing purchase price of £2000 for Coolacrease in 1911.
CU…red poppies in field of corn..
CU …Heaney..
CU……Poppies in field
CU …..…English…
CU……archive…photo of Pearsons..
[1]……”widespread expulsion of Protestants”…
[2] “terrible double tragedy: two farmers shot dead”

Without actually uttering the loaded words “Ethnic Cleansing” which RTÉ used in its internal May 30 meeting in Clontarf Castle, the viewers are presented with the unfounded propaganda of the period. No counter-balancing visuals are presented.

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Sun Feb 24, 2008 17:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hidden History: The Killings at Coolacrease
Section 10. Cleansing and Resurrection


Sen. Harris …[vo]…
60,000 Protestants were driven from the South of Ireland. They usually scattered, ah, in the night , grabbing what belongings they could. As time passed the usual mist and fog that descends over any incident….descended.

******* COMMENT:
This is the ethnic cleansing theory signalled in RTÉ’s May 30 slide in the Clontarf Castle meeting, through to the Tubridy Show October 22. There is no evidence for it, and the Pearson executions were the result of their participation in the war as combatants. It had nothing to do with land grabbing or ethnic cleansing. British loyalists were expelled from the British colonies in America in its war of independence. British people in India had the option of taking Indian citizenship, but almost all of them left. In Ireland nobody was compelled to give up British citizenship, and the newly formed Senate was practically a preserve of Unionists. No historian, not even Peter Hart, has openly espoused the ethnic cleansing theory implied by Eoghan Harris and explicitly trumpeted by RTÉ.

In 1922, the Pearsons joined this exodus leaving first for England, and, some years later, for a new life in Australia..

Sen. Harris…[i/v]…
The Pearsons became true forgotten ones. They became, literally, the disappeared of history.

******* COMMENT:
Balance would require some corresponding emotional display on behalf of those who suffered because of the Pearson engagement on the imperial and anti-democratic side. No proof was given in the programme that the Pearsons were innocent of what the official Irish Military Enquiry found.

Jenny Turnnidge ..[vo]..
This family had nowhere to go, no one to turn to. I really admire the fact that they effectively walked away, because I don’t know that I could.

******* COMMENT:
According to Alan Stanley's book, from the mixed bogland and mountain of Coolacrease they were able to buy a 200-acre farm in the Home Counties (Suffolk) – and that was BEFORE the massive award received from the Irish Grants Committee, when they went on to purchase farms and businesses in Australia.


Voiceover…Actor….[Jan. Fri. 17 1930 ]
watch ship coming up river into harbour….look out for our people…see them waving to us…Interviewed by pressman. Have our photo taken, to be put into paper…

Vernon Pearson…[i/v]…
They arrived in Australia from an English winter and when he arrived in that he said …the sweat, what on earth…he wondered what they were coming to…

The Pearsons reached Australia in 1930. After a short period in Melbourne they went back to farming and bought land in South Gipsland, Victoria.

Mervyn Pearson … [grandson of Wm./Susan Pearson]..[iv]…
My grandfather Wm. and Susan settled here with their son Sid and my dad settled further over there where he bought his own property and that’s where he settled. The original house here…[points]…would have been where that new house is being built at the moment. …thats where the original house would have survived until two years ago,I believe,where it was burnt…


Vernon Pearson…[vo]
They had a big battle, ’cos the conditions in Australia were so different to the conditions they had in Ireland and a lot of them took a long time to get into a place where … y’know .. they could say they were comfortable.

VO Mervyn Pearson
I saw the results of what had happened in their lives. They were all affected by it by the time their life was over.

Edna Black..[grand daughter..Wm./Susan Pearson] [Vo]…
Grandma Pearson, I sort of remember her sitting beside her window, and the blind would be drawn and very little light, sitting there…and she seemed to be sitting there with her eye on the window just wondering what could happen again.

Ruth Kelly..[vo]…
Aunty Ethel…she was very security conscious…oh so many padlocks, … and the windows were all pasted over with brown paper, y’know, she was just terrified.

Doris Turnnidge…[vo]…[granddaughter]
Tilly was definitely the strongest one. But it hit her the hardest. She would sort of stamp her feet a little and her husband would say “ It’s all right Tilly…it’s all right now … you’re here in Australia, you’re fine” … but it affected her quite badly nerves-wise..

Edna Black….[vo]…
The tragedy really did shatter the family and it was a life time sentence really to the whole family….


In the early 1930’s Wm. Pearson’s health began to fail. He and Susan left the farm in Gipsland and travelled north to the sun settling in the mining town of Bendigo

Doris Turnnidge…[vo]…
Grandfather used to say to them prior to all of that, “No problems, I’ll die amongst the gold” and they used to laugh at him … but actually, he did … he died in Bendigo..

Narrator [vo]…
Susan Pearson moved to Melbourne to live closer to her daughter Tilly until her death in 1947. She never returned to Ireland. Some of her children eventually made the trip back.


Doris Turnnidge….[vo]..
We walked up the avenue, right to the front door. Some of the glass was still in the windows. The memories flooded back. She was home. That’s the point. But she would never go and live in Ireland because of fear. I can understand that.

Vernon Pearson….[vo]
My father went back to Ireland in 1975. Well he went back to look at the old areas where he saw the troubles and he couldn’t get out quick enough.

Olive Boothman, Grand-niece...[iv]..
I came upon it unexpectedly. I found myself in Cadamstown and I drove out the road and saw Coolacrease.. the ruins… and trees growing out of it and I just said … no way would I walk down to the house…you didn’t want to disturb it in some way, y’know, you didn’t feel you had any right to tread on the ground, then you kind of shook your head and drove on. …It lives on… and it’s not a good memory …

When the ruin of Coolacrease House finally fall asunder the last physical connection between family and community will disappear … land … religion … and politics … separated the Pearsons from their friends and neighbours. They will, however, always be bound by what happened on that day at Coolacrease…

******* COMMENT:
The incident in Coolacrease was a relatively unimportant one, and had fallen into oblivion. But not in the local area, where the pro’s and con’s were keenly debated and digested down the generations. It was NOT the dark and guilty secret that the Hidden History/RTÉ trumpeted in their propaganda and advertising, to be opened up to the bright light of day by the sharp sword of truth wielded by their fearlessly self-regarding reporters. The local community was way ahead of them. The first published account of the incident was produced in 2002 in the village of Cadamstown itself by Paddy Heaney, in his book At the Foot of Slieve Bloom. And as more light is shed on the incident, his accuracy, authority and spirit of generous forgiveness are evident.


Sen. Harris …[vo]
Yeats said it, he said:
“Though gravediggers toil be long
Sharp their spades and muscles strong
They will thrust their buried men
Into the public mind again.”

The more you try to put them down, the more they come back up. The Pearsons of Coolacrease is a good place to start to look at what happened in the war of independence. It wasn’t all heroism. It wasn’t all Four Glorious Years, and a lot of the stuff that our grandfathers and uncles and cousins did wouldn’t bear looking at in the light of day.

******* COMMENT:
So how come the Senator has lapsed into total silence, after his initial bluster about the Pearsons was challenged and exposed? Has he bottled out? Does he want to bury the Pearsons’ story again? Or could it be that his version of the story “won’t bear looking at in the light of day”?

But he can rest assured that it will definitely be “thrust … into the public mind again” – as a caution against revisionist fantasy!

Alan Stanley….[vo]…
I don’t harbour bitterness…but it’s not quite as simple as that. There has to be a sort of cleansing from some source, from somewhere, so that we can look back and say, how was it that we acted that way, thought that way, behaved that way. Perhaps it’s a little warning we can deal with in some cases, I suppose…

******* COMMENT:
Hard to disagree with that. But the real warning is against trying to distort historical facts in order to serve a current political purpose. Against revisionism, in other words.

Paddy Heaney…[vo]
Speaking to people who were involved at that time, they regretted a lot of things…that happened…. and maybe that shouldn’t have happened. But that’s what happens when you have a war of independence. It’s part of our history. We can’t change it and we’re not responsible for it.

Edna Black….[vo]
Ye can’t change the past, can ye, but ye’d like to think that what was left on record, whether it be history, or what would be a truthful, honest, and correct interpretation of what happened.

******* COMMENT:
Harris’s and Stanley’s summing up on the basis of assumed Pearson innocence needed to be balanced by some overview predicated on the much more likely scenario that the Pearsons were combatants. This balance is NOT provided by the remarks by Paddy Heaney, which are true of any side in any war, and have no special relevance to the Coolacrease incident.

A fair and balanced programme would have included the subsequent human and family history of the people who suffered injury and imprisonment because of the Pearsons. The final contributions are chosen and combined in a way which suggests strongly, contrary to the actual evidence, that the Pearsons were innocent victims of an atrocity.


[3] “County Wicklow JP shot dead..son seriously wounded”
[4] “terrible night inWest Cork:further shootings over a wide area”
CU ..passport..Pearson and sons
CU……steamer ship and passengers.
CU Harris, catch in voice
CU…….Pearsons in front of burn out house…
CU…diary. .. Jan.17,1930..
[Sidney Pearson]
CU……newspaper.. “Irish loyalists to settle here. Two sons killed by rebels in 1921”
CU…Mervyn Pearson..
CU…...Photos of Pearsons
CU Vernon
Photo William Pearson
CU…grandma Pearson
CU…. Aunt Ethel
CU …house..
CU…...Doris Turnnidge
Archive photos……..Pearson family in Australia…plus Aussie flag…
WS….…Aussie town…[Gipsland/Bendigo]..
WS…..…Wm Pearson..
CU….golden sunset..
CU…Susan Pearson
WS …ruined house in Offaly…
CU……Tilly Pearson…
CU …… Doris Turnnidge
CU…….. Offaly
CU……… Doris Turnnidge
CU……..photo ..old Pearsons..
CU…….. various shots of ruined house…
CU…… Olive Boothman
CU ……….poppies…
CU ……….graves
[mood music]..
{mood music}.
CU…….Pearsons .. on front out of burnt house…
CU……..gurgling stream..
CU…….archive..cheering crowds..
CU……...old photo..
CU………..cheering crowd…
CU…………..cheering crowds
{mood music}
[mood music]
WS…………..Pearson boys walk down the road with scythe … look back at camera … walk over hill out of sight… .
[music swells to finis and fades.]

Narrator: Orla Brady
Script Consultant: Pat Sammon
Research: Paul Rouse, Philip McConway
Produced and Directed by: Niamh Sammon

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Sun Feb 24, 2008 18:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Pearsons in Wikipedia:

author by Akgpublication date Sun Feb 24, 2008 20:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Perhaps it’s a little warning we can deal with in some cases, I suppose…".

Am pretty sure he said:

"Perhaps it’s a little more than we can deal with in some cases, I suppose…"

author by Sierrapublication date Sat Mar 08, 2008 02:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC), an independent statutory body, with the responsibility to deal with all broadcasting complaints concerning radio and television broadcasters licensed within the Republic of Ireland, has rejected Pat Muldowney's formal complaint regarding RTE's Hidden History programme, "The Killings of Coolacrease".

This is a significant development, not least for the credibility of Muldowney's own thesis regarding the Coolacrease affair, all of it published here on Indymedia. In dealing with Muldowney's 60 page (!) complaint, the Commission sifted through all the evidence as put forward by Pat Muldowney and the programme’s producer, Niamh Sammon, and concluded that Muldowney’s “evidence” amounted to nothing.

Central to Muldowney’s argument was his accusation that the documentary omitted vital information contained in a British Military Court of Inquiry into the murders of the Pearson brothers in 1921. He alleged that an RIC investigation concluded that the Pearsons were targeted by the IRA because they shot at two members of Sinn Fein. As Niamh Sammon pointed out in a number of publications at the time, Pat Muldowney was quite wrong on a number of counts: firstly, this information was contained in the programme, and secondly, there was no RIC investigation. The document Dr Muldowney cited as evidence of an RIC investigation was actually British army correspondence (5th Division Curragh Camp) that speculated on the reasons for the Pearson killings. It was filed after the Court of Inquiry had deliberated on July 2 in Birr. Titled 'The Coolacrease Murders 30.6.21 -- Possible Motives', the first part of the document speculated that the Pearsons were targeted for their land. Part two then stated: 'It is said by the CI (County Inspector) Queen's County that the two Pearson boys a few days previously had seen two men felling a tree on their land adjoining the road. Had told the men concerned to go away and when they refused had fetched two guns and fired and wounded two Sinn Feiners, one of whom is believed died.' Crucially the very next sentence read: 'It is further rumoured when the farm house was burning two guns fell out of the roof.' In other words, the army was simply collating the rumours surrounding the deaths of the Pearsons (in fact nobody died that night). Not only were these rumours never investigated, the 'Possible Motives' document did not even form part of the Court of Inquiry. The Court of Inquiry document that Dr Muldowney quoted so liberally from did find that the 'persons unknown' who had shot Richard and Abraham Pearson were 'guilty of willful murder'.

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission has rejected all of Muldowney’s interpretation of the evidence.

In his blog on Indymedia, Muldowney has, over the years, ignored all of the salient points outlined above. Dissenting voices who tried to raise these concerns on this blog were systematically ignored, ridiculed or censored (the freedom of the internet!).

No doubt, in the threads to follow this message, Muldowney’s few supporters will crawl out in the next few days, spitting and gouging in his defence, pointing to “History Ireland” and the “Sunday Business Post” as supporters of their cause; but even their contributions are flawed by the fact that (through lazy journalism) they were quoting from a political blog which has now been discredited. In the future, any student of history attempting to look at this grubby affair in Irish history will pay little attention to Muldowney and his merry band of hapless saps.

Alan Stanley, whose book “I met Murder on the way” highlighted the story of the Pearsons’ prefaced one of his chapters with a quote from a Russian composer:
“The illusions that sustain us crumble slowly”. Muldowney’s illusions may still be intact, but his reputation, as regards this affair, is in tatters.

author by Browserpublication date Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC), an independent statutory body, with the responsibility to deal with all broadcasting complaints concerning radio and television broadcasters licensed within the Republic of Ireland, has rejected Pat Muldowney's formal complaint regarding RTE's Hidden History programme, "The Killings of Coolacrease"."

Is there a link or a reference (i.e. a newspaper) for this decision?

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Sat Mar 08, 2008 11:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was puzzled to read the above post earlier this morning (Saturday), and checked the Broadcasting Complaints Commission regulations at
to see whether an adjudication had been published by them.

No, the most recently published BCC judgement was January 2008. But the website also says that
“A copy of the decision will be sent to you and the broadcaster before its publication. If the programme/advertisement is produced by a person other than the broadcaster, the Commission will also forward a copy of the decision to the relevant person.”
So it is possible that a BCC adjudication has already been received by RTÉ and by the programme producer Niamh Sammon.

The Royal Mail delivers letters here in Derry on Saturdays. The letter from the BCC has now arrived. And yes, I can confirm Niamh’s post (the "Sierra" post) above: the Commission has rejected my complaint. I have not had time to study the details yet, but the opening paragraph of the adjudication is significant:

”The Commission has considered the broadcast, the submissions made by the complainant, the broadcaster and the independent producer. The broadcast in question is Hidden History: The Killings at Coolacrease, which explored the murder of two brothers in Coolacrease during the war of Independence in 1921.”

In other words, the foundation and starting point of the Commission’s deliberations is that what happened at Coolacrease was murder, and not legitimate war-time punishment for taking up arms against the elected government.

The BCC has taken to be true the very point whose truth is at issue!

The verdict of Broadcasting Complaints Commission is predicated on prior acceptance of the position of Alan Stanley, Eoghan Harris, and Niamh Sammon (above).

Therefore the Commission is not objective, but is prejudiced on one side. Niamh’s triumph above is a hollow one. I will post further details later.

author by John Martin - Irish Political Reviewpublication date Sat Mar 08, 2008 11:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Congratulations, Sierra!

You seem to be in the first flush of victory and yet you feel it necessary to write under a pseudonym!

Why the modesty? Is victory so shameful?

What is your real name?"

author by Browserpublication date Sat Mar 08, 2008 11:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Is this Indymedia.ie or the House Un-American Activities Committee?

I don't see why Sierra needs to reveal his/her real name to anyone-they haven't
said anything other than the BCC rejected Dr. Muldowney's complaint about the
"Hidden History" program (confirmed by Muldowney himself), and therefore they
consider his account of the Coolacrease
event to be inaccurate.

author by Ireland's Ownpublication date Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Muldowney's refusal to accept fact is, at times, breathtaking.

The verdict of Broadcasting Complaints Commission is most certainly not predicated on prior acceptance of the position of Alan Stanley, Eoghan Harris, and Niamh Sammon, but rather on the Court of Inquiry document that found that the 'persons unknown' who had shot Richard and Abraham Pearson were 'guilty of willful murder'.

Can it be made any more clearer? Muldowney's attempt to muddy this issue (and many other issues around this event - now all rejected by an independent statutory body) is on of the key reasons why his version is not taken seriously by historians.

But that won't stop Pat...

author by Reel Journalistpublication date Sat Mar 08, 2008 13:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ireland's Own Niamh/Sierra keeps banging on about the British Military Court of Inquiry verdict of "willful murder".

But the British Military Courts of Inquiry were introduced to suppress the Civil Coroners' Courts of the democracy, which were perversely inclined to record the awkward truth about the activities of the B&T hit squads of the unelected imperial military government.

The job of the British Courts of Inquiry was to find the forces of the Crown - RIC/Auxiliaries/Black&Tans - innocent, and to find the forces of the democracy guilty.

They were set up to find in favour of their own bosses.

A bit like the Broadcasting Complaints Commission when you come to think of it!

author by John Martin - Irish Political Reviewpublication date Sat Mar 08, 2008 13:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Browser, in answer to your question of a few posts ago, the decision of the BCC has not been made public on its website, but “Ireland’s Own” and “Sierra” seem to know what that decision was and why it was made. They are not ordinary joe/Josephine bloggers.

These people (if they are indeed two separate people) have revealed that they are privy to information that is not publicly available, but are not prepared to reveal who they are or how they obtained that information.

I am entitled to ask who they are. They are perfectly entitled not to say. And the visitors to this site can draw their own conclusions.

author by Browserpublication date Sat Mar 08, 2008 16:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

At 11.03, Pat Muldowney said:

"The letter from the BCC has now arrived. And yes, I can confirm...(the "Sierra" post) above: the Commission has rejected my complaint. "

So the named individual (Dr. Muldowney) has confirmed "Sierra's" comment.
My main difficulty with "Sierra", as I have said before, is that he/she failed to provide
a reference for their initial citation. Otherwise, I am not interested in indulging in speculation about
their possible identity-numerous people post online anonymously.

As long as they publish nothing libellous or offensive,
I-like most people-have no problem with it.

author by Browserpublication date Sun Mar 09, 2008 13:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Since 11.03am on Saturday 8th, the information about the BCC's
decision has been confirmed by Pat Muldowney.

Although I wonder if "Sierra" had not posted, would he have put the information
about the BCC's ruling on Indymedia?

author by Dirk Bogardepublication date Sun Mar 09, 2008 19:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sierra is right of course, the obsessives will fall back on History Ireland and any other naive defenders of their position now, even though according to the Irish Political Review the Hist Ireland piece was not good enough at all. Their defence of sectarian murder is coming apart.

author by JInky Jimmy Johnstonepublication date Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why did the artists formally known as BICO in the IPR not like HI?
(apologies for all the initials)
Btw John Martin, could you explain why David Alvey has gaelisised his name?

author by Ted Staplespublication date Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Muldowney's Holl[o]w Words - Astonishing
by Ireland's Own Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:41
'Muldowney's refusal to accept fact is, at times, breathtaking.'
'On[e] of the key reasons why his version is not taken seriously by historians.'

But the verdict in History Ireland (Feb-Mar 2008) is that the Coolacrease programme, as compared to other RTE Hidden History programmes, was a load of wheel spinning pap (see above).

If past experience is anything to go by, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of Ireland will engage in a cop-out of some kind. Probably apply a criterion of broadcasting 'balance' that has nothing to do with objective or historical fact. For instance, it will be interesting to see how they deal with the clearly bonkers observation of Eoghan Harris that the Pearsons were deliberately shot in 'the genitals, in their sexual parts'. The observation relies on a thin evidential thread (of lead), a bullet that passed through the groin of one Pearson brother, that killed him....... eventually, due to blood loss. Great television, not history.

The nice people on the Commission possibly thought it was all very 'distasteful'.

We await the substance of the actual verdict. The excitable and very probably interested parties (hello Niamh?) that have entered the thread before the complainants even received the verdict, never mind public release by the BCCI, are trying to get their sound-bite in first. They have. Why so jumpy?

author by Kolpikpublication date Mon Mar 10, 2008 18:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Indymedia contributor Ted Staples stated:

"The observation relies on a thin evidential thread (of lead), a bullet that passed through the groin of one Pearson brother, that killed him....... eventually, due to blood loss".

Medical Practitioner Dr Frederick William Woods stated at the Court of Enquiry held at Crinkle Military Barracks, Birr, Co. Offaly, July 2 1921:

"In my opinion the cause of death was shock and sudden haemorrhage as a result of gunshot wounds. The fatal wound in my opinion was that on the groin".

Whose "medical expertise" is more credible?

Think I can see why the BCC didn't go with Ted on this one.

author by Ted Staplespublication date Mon Mar 10, 2008 22:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ted Staples "medical expertise"
by Kolpik

Indymedia contributor Ted Staples [that's me, folks] stated:

"The observation relies on a thin evidential thread (of lead), a bullet that passed through the groin of one Pearson brother, that killed him....... eventually, due to blood loss".

[Kolpic contined]
Medical Practitioner Dr Frederick William Woods stated at the Court of Enquiry held at Crinkle Military Barracks, Birr, Co. Offaly, July 2 1921:

"In my opinion the cause of death was shock and sudden haemorrhage as a result of gunshot wounds. The fatal wound in my opinion was that on the groin".

[Kolpic asks]
Whose "medical expertise" is more credible?

[Ted again:]
Eh, Kolpic, read again. I think you will find that I have accurately summarised Dr Woods' statement. The Pearsons died because of incompetant medical attention many hours after the bothched execution. The surviving Pearsons could not call on their Protestant neigbours for help and assistance because their Protestant neighbous wanted nothing to do with them. The rest is an Eoghan Harris inspired fantasy - the guy has a great imagination attuned to a narrow mind.

author by Levinpublication date Mon Mar 10, 2008 23:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Ted Staples [that's me, folks]" stated:

"The Pearsons died because of incompetant medical attention many hours after the bothched execution".

The Pearsons died because they were shot "by armed persons unknown..."

"Ted Staples [that's me, folks]" stated:

"The surviving Pearsons could not call on their Protestant neigbours for help and assistance because their Protestant neighbous wanted nothing to do with them". Could you corroborate that with some evidence please?

"Ted Staples [that's me, folks]" stated:

"The rest is an Eoghan Harris inspired fantasy"

Dr Woods again: "...a deep wound in the right groin and right buttock...In addition there were wounds in the left lower leg of a superficial nature and about six in the back...The fatal wound in my opinion was that on the groin".

From that, one can conclude that they were...aiming for the head?

author by Ted Staplespublication date Mon Mar 10, 2008 23:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I stand by what I wrote above (apart from botching the spelling of botched) - the rest is, as i said, Eoghan Harris inspired fantasy, from his groupies (who cannot interpret a sentence).

author by PDF Linkpublication date Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

From Tullamore Tribune 7 & 14 November 2007

By Philip McConway, researcher on the Coolacrease Hidden History Programme.

McConway wrote to the programme makers prior to broadcast informing them that something he had said in an interview was not accurate - as a result of further research in the British Public Records Office in Kew. They ignored him and broadcast it anyway.

DOWNLOAD linked PDF of articles.

Two articles form the Tullamore Tribune by Hidden History researcher, Philip McConway (download linked PDF)
Two articles form the Tullamore Tribune by Hidden History researcher, Philip McConway (download linked PDF)

PDF Document Tullamore Tribune 7& 14 November 2007 - Hidden history researcher on the Pearsons 1.11 Mb

author by Lehipublication date Tue Mar 11, 2008 16:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's a sad case when you have to recycle old material to prop up a now discredited argument.

Philip McConway's "Comprehensive article", contains all the points that would have been included in Muldowney's formal complaint; now officially rejected by the independent Broadcasting Complaints Committee.


author by PDF linkpublication date Tue Mar 11, 2008 19:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Actually, It is called historical research, which people with open minds read.

author by Lehipublication date Tue Mar 11, 2008 20:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is "historical research" which people with open minds (historians, BCC and the like) have dismissed.

author by Johnsonpublication date Tue Mar 11, 2008 21:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Kolpik/Ted Staples/Levin spat earlier on in the thread about the "shooting in the groin" issue has raised some interesting points.

It's important to realise that this issue didn't just start with Eoghan Harris in the documentary. In fact it's as old as the incident itself. John Joe Dillon (whose father was in the local IRA, though not on the raid of the house that day) has gone on record to say that the people of Cadamstown and the surrounding area (at that time and subsequently) always knew that the young men had been shot in the groin and that many of them were very uncomfortable with this truth.

This is hardly surprising, considering that 1) it was a small community where everybody knew the people involved; and 2) the people would have read of the account and the medical evidence given at the time, as reported in the newspaper. Consequently, it was never spoken of, only in whispers.

John Joe Dillon, an honest and powerful contributor to the Coolacrease documentary summed it up in the opening scene:

"The silence...that people didn't want to talk about it. I mean I never wanted to talk about this, I never did".

author by Reel Journalistpublication date Tue Mar 11, 2008 23:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Shooting them very deliberately, in the genitals, in their sexual parts, in their sexual organs" (Pearsons documentary, October 23 2007).

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/84547 Fri Oct 26, 2007 17:21

1st Witness: Frederick William Woods civilian medical Practitioner of Kinnity Kings County having been duly sworn in states:-

At Kinnitty on the 30th June 1921 I was leaving the dispensary in the village at about 18.55 hours. A civilian informed me that he was sent in to ask me to go out to attend to two of the PEARSON boys who had been shot. I at once proceeded to COOLACREASE house where the PEARSONS live, arriving there about 1930 hours and found RICHARD H PEARSON lying on a mattress in a field at the back of the house. I examined him and found a superficial wound in the left shoulder, a deep wound in the right groin and right buttock, the entrance (?) of the latter being in front. In addition there were wounds in the left lower leg of a superficial nature and about six in the back which were glancing (?) wounds. In my opinion these wounds were all caused by either revolver or rifle bullets, and were fired at close quarters. I dressed the wounds anti-septically and after attending to his brother ABRAHAM PEARSON I returned to KINNITTY at about 20.45 hours. At about 22.40 hours the Police came to my house and asked me to come to COOLACREASE House I found RICHARD H PEARSON dead. In my opinion the cause of death was shock and sudden haemorrhage as a result of gunshot wounds. The fatal wound in my opinion was that on the groin.

Cross-examining by the Court
Q No. 1 Do you not consider a groin wound to be a serious one?
A 1 I do if such a wound implicates the blood vessels.
Q2 Did the groin wound of the deceased implicate the principal blood vessels?
A2 It did not
Q3 Did any of the other wounds implicate any of the principal blood vessels?
A3 None that I saw.
Q4 When you first saw the deceased was he losing much blood?
A4 He had apparently lost a considerable amount of blood.
Q5 In view of this loss of blood was the deceased’s condition precarious?
A5 It was.
Q6 On being called by the Police to examine the deceased for the second time did you find any wounds which you had not previously discovered?
A6 I did find one.
Q7 Was this wound a dangerous one?
A7 It was.

1st Witness. Lt. Colonel C.R. Woods R.A.M.C. (retired) in medical charge of CRINKLE BARRACKS, BIRR, having been duly sworn states:-
At 0200 hrs on 1 July 1921 I was called to the MILTARY HOSPITAL, BIRR. I found the deceased lying there suffering from gunshot wounds. His wounds were dressed by me. I examined his wounds and found extensive wounds on left cheek, left shoulder, left thigh and lower third of left leg. In addition there was a wound through the abdomen. The latter wound had an entrance at the front and appeared to have its exit at the lower part of the back, fracturing the lower part of the spinal column. In my opinion death resulted from shock due to gunshot wounds.
(Signed) C.R.Woods Lt. Col. RAMC Retired.

Extract from the account given in the King’s County Chronicle (local Unionist newspaper) on July 7 1921:

A military enquiry, in lieu of inquest, was held at the Military Barracks, Birr, on Sunday morning of last week, at 11 o’clock, to investigate the cause of death. A “Chronicle” reporter was permitted to be present during the taking of medical evidence.

Dr. Frederick W. Woods, M.O., Kinnity, stated that on Thursday night a civilian called to his house and said that his presence was required at Coolacrease House, where two men had been shot. The messenger asked him to go at once, as one of the men was dying. He left immediately on his bicycle, and on arriving, found the two men on a mattress in a field. He first attended Richard Henry, who was in a dying condition, and then attended to the other man, Abraham. He treated the wounds of both men antiseptically. Richard seemed to have bled considerably, having superficial wounds in the left shoulder, right groin and right buttock, in addition to which there were several wounds in the back, one of which had probably penetrated the lung. He also found a wound in the lower left leg, also of a superficial nature. They might have been caused by rifle or revolver bullets, which, in his opinion, were fired at close range, the wounds being saturated with blood. He spent an hour and a half at the house, which he left at about 9.15 p.m. On his way home he met Dr. Morton, who also examined the wounds. Both of the men were then removed to the Military Barracks, where Richard Pearson died of his wounds about two hours after admission, and Abraham on the following morning. In his opinion the cause of death was shock and sudden haemorrhage, caused by gunshot wounds, the fatal shot having been that which entered the right groin.

The medical evidence in connection with the death of Abraham was identical.

No injuries to the genitals are recorded. The medical evidence proves that the Pearsons received no gunshot wounds “in the genitals, in their sexual parts, in their sexual organs”.

author by Tedpublication date Tue Mar 11, 2008 23:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

People in the area know the programme was a stitch-up from beginning to end. The previous rubbish but 'silence' is an attempt to make the whole thing very 'mysterious' - a specter of the countryside for credulous middle class townies. Eoghan 'Sigmund Freud' Harris made a sex-and-death soundbite out of one bullet in one of the two brothers. The story gets legs from associating the rest of the bullets from the execution party with the 'sex-and-death' projectile. The execution party must have been remarkably bad shots, since they all, apart from one sharpshooter, missed this vital organ they were supposedly all aiming at - though if that were the case then the whole theory falls apart, since the one bullet that passed through one brother's groin was presumably (on the balance of probability) badly aimed also.

It is quite simple, a badly executed execution that the brothers would have survived had they received competent medical attention. And, by the way, they were working, like many loyalists, directly with British forces. That is the real hidden history that does not suit the mindset in Dublin 4.

author by history buffpublication date Wed Mar 12, 2008 05:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It was a stitch-up on the part of ideologically motivated individuals in the belly of the RTE beast at Montrose. What ought to be done as a follow-up to this blog thread and the other two is to bring the detailed refutation to a wider public that doesn't visit indymedia, and a public that doesn't use the internet (still quite a lot of Irish households, I gather). I'd urge a series of whiparounds to raise funds so that Muldowney can publish his comments and facts in book form. Don't let sticky journalists and antinationalist historians corner the market in scholarly books. Don't let the machinations of RTE historiographers and social commentators go unchallenged. We pay these people to promote public broadcasting and we have a right constantly to talk back to them and 'out' their distortions and veiled biases.

author by John Martin - Irish Political Reviewpublication date Wed Mar 12, 2008 08:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Johnson says:

“It's important to realise that this issue didn't just start with Eoghan Harris in the documentary. In fact it's as old as the incident itself. John Joe Dillon (whose father was in the local IRA, though not on the raid of the house that day) has gone on record to say that the people of Cadamstown and the surrounding area (at that time and subsequently) always knew that the young men had been shot in the groin and that many of them were very uncomfortable with this truth.”

Where has John Joe Dillon gone on record that local people believed that the young men had been shot in the groin? Certainly not in the documentary. Nowhere in the documentary could Dillon be persuaded to say that “the young men” were shot in the groin. No local from Offaly could be found to say in the documentary that the young men had been shot in the groin. Eoghan Harris and Alan Stanley were the only people to raise this issue.

The medical evidence doesn’t say that the “young men” had been shot in the groin. It says that Richard Pearson alone was shot in the groin among numerous other parts of the body. Abraham Pearson was not shot in the groin.

Finally, Eoghan Harris didn’t just say that they were shot in the groin. He said they (i.e. both) were shot in the “genitals” and “sexual organs”. Neither Richard nor Abraham were shot in the genitals or sexual organs. (The groin is the hollow between the thigh and the torso. It is not a sexual organ). Harris’s statement was a complete fabrication.

author by Lehipublication date Wed Mar 12, 2008 18:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A few dictionary definitions of the term "groin":

Oxford Dictionary of English: the area between the abdomen the thigh on either side of the body; the region of the genitals.

Chambers Concise Dictionary: 1) the part of the body where the lower abdomen joins the upper thigh.
2) the male sex organs.

New Penguin English Dictionary: 1 (a) the field marking the join between the lower abdomen and the inner part of the thigh.
(b) the male genitals.

Online there was...

Answers.com and thefreedictionary.com: The crease or hollow at the junction of the inner part of each thigh with the trunk, together with the adjacent region and often including the external genitals.

And perhaps most authoritatively, emedicine.com:

The groin consists of the area where the abdomen meets the legs and includes the structures of the perineum. The groin, therefore, includes the following: the lower rectus abdominis musculature, the inguinal region, the symphysis pubis, the upper portions of the adductor muscles of the thigh, and the genitalia, as well as the scrotum in males.

A reference to genitals/sex organs in six separate sources, but according to the medical experts in this blog, it's not the same as groin.

First the BCC. Then dictionaries.

Is the whole world out to get Indymedia?

author by Jokerpublication date Wed Mar 12, 2008 19:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

OK then.

So the Pearsons were shot:
“very deliberately, in the genitals, in their sexual parts, in their sexual organs”

Or was it:
“very deliberately, in the lower rectus abdominis musculature”?

Or maybe
“very deliberately, in the inguinal region”?

Or how about “very deliberately, in the symphysis pubis”?

Or “very deliberately, in the upper portions of the adductor muscles of the thigh”?

But then we have the problem of it being the right lower rectus abdominis musculature, not the left.

Or perhaps the right inguinal region. Or … or what?
Looks like we’re right back where we started! Oh dear!

author by Tedpublication date Wed Mar 12, 2008 20:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors


author by John Martin - Irish Political Reviewpublication date Wed Mar 12, 2008 21:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Regarding the question of what a groin is, firstly:

The Collins English Dictionary says:

“1) The depression or fold where the legs join the abdomen.”

It then says

“2) Euphemistic. the genitals, esp the testicles”

The word "euphemistic" is in italics.

I consider it very unlikely that a medical doctor would use euphemisms to describe injuries in a military court of enquiry.


A shot in the genitals may be more embarrassing and humiliating than a shot in the groin, but is not likely to be deadly. Castration was widely practiced in the Middle Ages without fatal consequences.

The groin (“the depression or fold where the legs join the abdomen”) is the point of junction between the blood vessels of the body and the legs.

While it is very unlikely that anyone would die from blood loss from a wound in the testicles, it is not at all unlikely that they would suffer death from blood loss in the femoral or groin artery.

But all of this applies to Richard Pearson only. Abraham Pearson was not shot in the groin at all.

author by Johnsonpublication date Wed Mar 12, 2008 21:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John Martin asked:

"Where has John Joe Dillon gone on record that local people believed that the young men had been shot in the groin? Certainly not in the documentary".

No, it wasn't in the documentary, he mentioned it in conversation. He has also stated that his father was on a raid on the house a week before the shootings. A search was made of the house and no ammunition or explosives were found. This contradicts the other rumour that they were running some kind of militia (This has already been mentioned by someone earlier in this thread).

He's in the phone book by the way - he'd be happy to verify it.

With respect to Reel Journalist, Ted, John Martin and others to their responses to my last message, it would seem to me that John Joe Dillon's opinion would be far more relevant and important than the opinions of a few bloggers. To have that link to his father, who was in the local IRA at that time, and knew the Pearsons, is indespensible, and would seem to me to carry much more weight.

But maybe others disagree.

author by Tedpublication date Wed Mar 12, 2008 22:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

re: The "shooting in the groin" issue
by Johnson Wed Mar 12, 2008 22:48

"No, it wasn't in the documentary, he mentioned it in conversation"

Eh... in conversation with whom? Was it with yourself Niamh?

Consider this, Niamh, what does it matter what anyone thinks, speculatively, when we have the doctor's report?

author by Johnsonpublication date Wed Mar 12, 2008 22:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ted, being a bit slow, didn't get the name first time round - Johnson.

Ted wrote:

"Eh... in conversation with whom? Was it with yourself Niamh?"

John Joe Dillon has communicated with more than one member of the human race - if you're going to make completely irrelevant points, Ted, go elsewhere. Otherwise stick to the salient points, and discuss the subject at hand.

author by Tedpublication date Wed Mar 12, 2008 23:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So, which member of the human race did he have this conversation with, not-Niamh?
And you will see I am on topic with my point about unnecessary speculation, not-Niamh.

author by Jokerpublication date Thu Mar 13, 2008 05:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why is Niamh (for it is she!) so desperate to make an impression here on Indymedia, when she had, first, her programme, then RTE, and now the BCC to make her case for her? For the past few days she has been here practically round the clock.

Why is she so obsessed with Indymedia? Because, folks, it is right here in the People's Court of Indymedia that the rights and wrongs of this sorry affair were decided.

When the Harris/Sammon Show was broadcast nearly five months ago, things immediately started to go pear-shaped for Eoghan and Niamh. First, Tom McGurk, Pat Muldowney & Co planted the seeds of doubt in the minds of newspaper readers, that things might not be quite as they seem on Planet Eoghan. But where did people then come to find out what was fact and what was propaganda?

Why, right here to Indymedia, that's where! For instance, this is still the ONLY place where the medical evidence (re-posted above by Reel Journalist) can be read in full. And that's only a small part of it. Despised Indymedia has been doing the job that pampered RTE should have done, but didn't.

But it is only right that Niamh should be heard here in Indymedia. Unlike RTE and its glove-puppet the BCC (Miriam O'Callaghan, for God's sake!), Indymedia stands for free speech. Eoghan posted here once or twice back at the start, in transparent disguise, and then chickened out like the miserable blowhard he is. But to be fair to Niamh, and making allowances for pathetic attempts to disguise herself, she HAS stepped up to the plate here to try to justify her ridiculous programme. Let's give her that much at least.

So what can we make of Niamh's latest, above?

According to Niamh, JJ Dillon's father was at the Pearsons to requisition arms prior to the roadblock attack. So why did JJ Dillon's father and his companions on the IRA arms requisitioning party not get the shotguns that the Pearsons used to fire "into the air(!!!)" at the roadblock a week or so later? IF they got to search the premises, it can't have been much of a search!!

With the rest of the Cadamstown IRA, JJ Dillon's father was imprisoned, thanks to the Pearsons, immediately after the Pearson attack on the roadblock, and remained there. None of the Cadamstown IRA were around for the executions, and the primary source of information that the Cadamstown locals had about the executions was the local newspapers - one of which was quoted above by Reel Journalist. NOBODY in the community, then or since, had access to the full medical facts about the Pearsons' gunshot wounds until this information was published here in Indymedia. JJ Dillon's father could not have known these medical details, no more than anyone else in the community.

Another person who did NOT have access to what happened at Coolacrease was Alan Stanley's father, who went on the run BEFORE the executions. Alan Stanley's father was not an eye-witness, and being on the run in the North, probably did not even see the local newspaper reports.

Alan Stanley himself did not read these newspaper reports until after his father died in 1982. And this is what Niamh based her programme on!!!

But Niamh Sammon had the medical reports and could have used them. But they were no good to her, because they contradicted her and Harris's propaganda. So she censored them! It's as simple as that!

author by Tony O'Neillpublication date Thu Mar 13, 2008 09:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Will the articel in History Ireland be part of any further investigation? What is that magazine's agenda? I note a very distinct nationalist bias in its reporting.

author by Josephpublication date Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

And I know a very good man for the job - come back Senator Joseph McCarthy. Your (old) country needs you for a 'House too-Irish Activities Committee' inquiry.

Failing that, Eoghan Harris, one-time supporter of the old, Official, rusty-guns, bullets in the air, whining, never-shot-a-man-in-the-groin (unless he was a provo), IRA might do the job.

'Nationalist bias....' Oooooooooooh, perish the thought.

author by Lehipublication date Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission have published the entire complaints and rejections on their website.

Now we wait patiently for the few contributors to this blog to tear it apart.

author by Josephpublication date Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Now we wait patiently for the few contributors to this blog to tear it apart."

What, just like Eoghan Harris is trying to tear apart the RTE documentary on Cathal Sharkey's exploits in Nepal? Perish another thought.

author by Browserpublication date Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Link to the BCC's decision is here:


There were seven complaints about the "Hidden History" programme (looks
like a concerted campaign against it) and all were rejected.

The last time I remember a TV history documentary causing such a
ruckus was the one about industrial schools (States of Fear,wasn't it called?)
and the Ballyseedy one a close second.

author by Josephpublication date Thu Mar 13, 2008 13:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Gosh, then, you're saying, Browser, that the people who are attacking this programme are like people who did not like to see Catholic clergy accused of sexual abuse.

Mmmmm, this is very, very serious, so the people attacking the Coolacrease programme are sort of, in a way, by implication, subconsciously, associated with pedophiles. As I said, gosh.

I wonder where does that leave Eoghan Harris and his poetic friends who are attacking an RTE documentary programme that alleges western sexual exploitation of teenagers in Nepal? Even more guilty by association, I would have thought.

Better get the thought police on to this one also.

author by Browserpublication date Thu Mar 13, 2008 13:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I mentioned the controversy was similar to the Ballyseedy and
States of Fear documentaries,which both provoked a national
uproar-nowhere did I liken critics of the Coolacrease program to the Catholic ultra-rightists
who objected to Mary Raftery and Eoin O’Sullivan's latter documentary.
The Ballyseedy doc. was about the violent execution of
Republicans by Free Staters during the Civil War.

author by John Martin - Irish Political Reviewpublication date Thu Mar 13, 2008 14:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I’m happy to give people time to read the BCC’s judgements before I make any detailed comments.

But in the light of the recent post by Johnson, it is interesting to note that Niamh Sammon’s defence against my complaint was that J.J. Dillon’s comments countered Eoghan Harris’s false statement that the Pearson brothers were shot in the “genitals” or “sexual organs”.

I don’t believe that Dillon’s statements in the documentary counter Harris’s statement in the least. But let us assume Johnson is right and Dillon shares Harris’s views. Then I don’t see how Dillon’s comments could possibly have contradicted Harris.

I have no intention of trying to contact J.J. Dillon. The question of whether he wants to participate in this debate (in whatever forum) is entirely a matter for him and in my view it is very irresponsible to encourage people to phone him.

However, I find it very strange that if he does believe that the Pearsons were shot in the genitals, he wasn’t persuaded to say so in the documentary. As Johnson suggests, such a person’s views would carry much more weight than a professional polemicist’s such as Harris.

author by John Martin - Irish Political Reviewpublication date Wed Mar 19, 2008 18:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Given there was a fair amount of postings – although possibly by the same person – between the time the BCC decision was known by a select number of people and the time it was published, it was maybe surprising that there has been nothing but a series of irrelevancies from supporters of the documentary since the decision has been made public.

But the reticence of the defenders of the documentary is only surprising for those who have not read the BCC decision. The BCC found in favour of RTE and the Producer of the programme, but to give it its due, it gave a reasonable, if incomplete, summary of the arguments for and against the documentary. So readers can make up their own minds.

There are a lot of things that can be said about the BCC’s decision and no doubt they will be said on this thread, but the most remarkable aspect is that the BCC revealed that it had made up its mind before it had even examined the evidence. And by revealing this it showed why this whole controversy is of such fundamental importance.

How did the BCC reveal its prejudice? In each of its 7 decisions against the complainants it advertised its decision in advance by making the following statement:

“The broadcast in question is Hidden History: The Killings at Coolacrease, which explored the murder of two brothers in Coolacrease during the War of Independence in 1921.”

Is that not a remarkable statement? The Pearsons were murdered?! This goes further than the makers of the documentary. The killings were not merely an incident in the war of independence, but a criminal act. Who decided that it was a criminal act? A British Military Court of Inquiry decided that the IRA was guilty of “wilful murder”. It follows from this that the BCC regard the British army of occupation as the legitimate authority in 1921.

Nobody disputes that the execution of the Pearsons was authorised by the IRA. Therefore it also follows that the IRA’s chief of staff Risteard Mulcahy, a revered Fine Gael icon, was a criminal.

Of course, anyone is entitled to their opinion and it would appear that some contributors to this thread agree with the BCC. But the BCC claims to be an independent statutory authority. It was set up by a state – this State.

This State is of the opinion that its war of independence was a legitimate struggle against British imperialism. It calls the current Dail the 30th Dail and believes that the first Dail was in 1919. The 1919 Dail authorised the war against British occupation following the 1918 election.

The opinion of the BCC that this State was founded on a criminal conspiracy is an opinion which should be explained by the BCC and its members. However, there is no appeals procedure available to complainants. Therefore the only institution that can require the BCC to explain itself is the State itself through its public representatives.

author by Pat Muldowneypublication date Thu Apr 03, 2008 19:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A critique of the Broadasting Complaints Commission adjudication can be read at http://docs.indymedia.org/view/Main/CoolaCrease where further documents will be made available, exposing the methods of RTÉ and BCC.

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