Donnybrook: Shane the Unrepentant Fenian / Safe Home

Even in death, Shane McGowan’s continued to set new markers, sadly, in this case, he showed us what a true Irish funeral should look like. Check it out on YouTube if you have a chance and see some great music and liturgy.

While, the news was filled with monikers like “The Bard of our times”, “genius”, “poet”, “legend” and his truly remarkable life’s work of music and prose were rightfully celebrated and analyzed, I would like to recall his status as an unrepentant Fenian, committed to the cause of Irish Republicanism and a United Ireland. 

While “Fairytales of New York” was his most renowned work, his raw and real style was present throughout his body of work. The Pogues (shortened from Pogue Mahone) video for their “A Pair of Brown Eyes” was banned in the United Kingdom in 1988 as it shows a picture of PM Margaret Thatcher hanging over the mantle to mimic Big Brother from George Orwells 1984, and some spitting at said picture.

The Brit sensors evidently had no humor nor appreciation for the Pogues art, nor does the U.K. have a Bill of Rights to protect free speech or any other rights. Additionally, take a minute to read through some of the lyrics from “Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six,” which was also banned in the U.K. for sharing the truth of British occupation of Ireland: read Donnybrook.

Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six Lyrics

By The Pogues

Oh farewell, you streets of sorrow
And farewell, you streets of pain
I’ll not return to feel more sorrow
Nor to see more young men slain.

There were six men in Birmingham, in Guildford, there’s four
That were picked up and tortured and framed by the law
And the filth got a promotion, but they’re still doing time
For being Irish in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

In Ireland, they’ll put you away in the Maze
In England, they’ll keep you for seven long days
God help you if ever you’re caught on these shores
The coppers need someone and they walk through that door

A curse on the judges, the coppers, and screws
Who tortured the innocent, wrongly accused
For the price of a promotion and justice to sell
May the judged be their judges when they rot down in hell

May the whores of the empire lie awake in their beds
And sweat as they count out the sins on their heads
While over in Ireland, eight more men lie dead
Kicked down and shot in the back of the head.

Laborer's President Terry O'Sullivan (left) is congratulated by Irish American Carl Hughes from Ohio (right)in Washington, D.C.

Gerry Adams Eulogy for Shane

No one ever accused Shane McGowan of being sugary in his music. His funeral at St. Mary of The Rosary in Nenagh, County Tipperary was attended by Irish President Higgins, Johnny Depp, The Pogues, Glen Hansard and many other Irish music luminaries. During the procession in Dublin on the way to Tipperary the crowds lined the streets and sang “Dirty Ol Town.” 

Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein’s former President, did the first reading and spoke in tribute to McGowan: “My words are words of gratitude for Shane’s genius, his creativity, his attitude, grateful for his humor, his intelligence, his compassion, Grateful for his vulnerabilities, his knowledge and his modesty.  Grateful for his celebration of the marginalized, of the poor, of our Exiles and the under dogs.

Grateful for The Pogues and for all our music makers and all our dreams and dreamers. And thankful for Shane’s Powers. 

Proud of how Shane deepened our sense of Irishness and our humanity. Grateful for his rejection of revisionism of time serving and the fumblers in greasy tills. Glad he stood by the people of the North in war and in peace. And grateful that he was proud of Tipperary’s fight for Irish Freedom and his family’s role in this fight. Thankful for his poets eyes, for the words of love and betrayal, justice and injustice, rejection and redemption. 

Grateful that Shane lifted us out of ourselves and that he never gave up. The Light he empowered in us to dance and to sing and to make fun and to shout, and to yell and to laugh and to cry and to love and to be free. Your music will live forever, you are the measure of our dreams.” Adams concluded his tribute in Irish.

There was dancing in the aisles of the beautiful, 127-year-old Gothic Revival Church, as The Fairytales of New York played, and there was not a dry eye when members of the Pogues concluded the almost three-hour Funeral Mass with the heartfelt “The Parting Glass.”

The Irish American Democrats PAC gathered last month at the venerable Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to present a lifetime achievement award to Laborer’s International Union of North America (LIUNA) retiring General President, Terrence O’Sullivan; having served almost 24 years in that leadership position. The Laborer’s press office shared: “LIUNA has been O’Sullivan’s life’s work and his commitment has always been rooted in his devotion to the cause, purpose, and mission of the Labor movement.

‘There has been no higher honor or privilege than to represent, defend, and fight for the strong, proud, and united men and women of LIUNA,’ O’Sullivan said. ‘Each and every day I have served as General President, I have been awed by the power of this union to lift the burdens, struggle, and strife of those who are fighting for a foothold in the middle class.’

During O’Sullivan’s leadership, LIUNA significantly increased resources for organizing and dramatically grew the union’s political action committee, launching it into the ranks of the top five PACs in the U.S with a political presence and power felt across the country.” The Executive Council of the AFL-CIO shared: “O’Sullivan’s passion and advocacy for working people extended beyond the borders of the United States and Canada. A longtime, vocal supporter of Sinn Féin and its work to secure a peaceful, just and united Ireland, O’Sullivan continues to work closely with the party, its allies and Irish labor leaders to advocate for full implementation of the historic Good Friday Agreement.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer said this about O’Sullivan: “There would be no expansive middle class in America without the labor movement, and the labor movement would not be the same today without Terry O’Sullivan and LIUNA. The proud members of LIUNA helped build our roads, our bridges, tunnels, office buildings and housing. Under Terry’s leadership, LIUNA – the laborer’s union, as it is fondly known – has become one of the most impactful unions of the twenty first century.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown Honors O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan acknowledged Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio in attendance, as well as Rep. Richie Neal of Massachusetts, Rep. Brendan Boyle of PA., and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi of CA. As well as Ireland’s Ambassador to the U.S. Geraldine Byrne Nason.

O’Sullivan gave a salute to “The one and only Stella O’Leary (President and Founder of Irish Dems PAC), over the past 28 years I have been awed and inspired by her tireless and relentless dedication and commitment to The Cause, The Purpose and The Mission of both Irish Dems and The American Trade Union Movement. She has single handedly raised millions of dollars for State, Congressional and Presidential races, to elect Democrats and to ensure that they promote the policy priorities of Irish Americans.”

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, “Terry O’Sullivan has kept alive the spirit and legacy of James Connelly.”  O’Sullivan was named The Irish Echo’s Irish Laborer of the Year in 2022 as well as inducted into Irish America’s Hall of Fame. O’Leary thanked Terry for all his years of hard work for America’s working men and women and for Peace and Justice on the Island of Ireland.

St. Patrick’s Day 2024
St. Patrick’s Day 2024

St. Patrick’s Day 2024

Start your preparations for St. Patrick’s Day 2024 and the hope for a Border Poll for a United Ireland under the provisions of the Good Friday Accord. Let us pray and set a goal that such a vote can take place by the time The U.S.A. celebrates its Semi quincentennial (250th) or alternatively the Sestercentennial, which is easier to pronounce or even better, America250 on July 4th, 2026.

In Cleveland, the sponsor of the parade, The United Irish Societies of Greater Cleveland, has announced the theme of the 2024 parade as “Ireland: One Island, One Nation.

Boris Back in the News

Former U.K. P.M. Boris Johnson was back in the news, being grilled over two days by a parliamentary inquiry into his lack of response to the Pandemic while P.M.  BOJO acknowledged that he had underestimated the emerging threat of the coronavirus in early 2020 and shared that, “There are clearly things that we could have done, and should have done, if we’d known and understood how this was spreading.” 

In a sworn statement by BOJO former Chief of Staff, Dominic Cummings, he said of the P.M., “He doesn’t think it’s a big deal, and he doesn’t think anything can be done and his focus is elsewhere…He kept saying that the biggest danger was government action harming the economy…He often referred to 1918 (flu pandemic), there was no pressure to act, it just rolled through the population, people died and life went on.”  t was only after the P.M. almost died himself of Covid that he began to take it seriously.  

Find this and other John Myer’s Donnybrook and other columns here

John Myers

John Myers

*John is an attorney in Cleveland. He can be reached at [email protected]

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