My BLOG “Dr Chris Fitzpatrick & The Irish Christian Brothers (October 17th) incorporated the BLOG “The Promotion of Violence and the Irish Christian Brothers” which appeared
in November 2015. And that BLOG was a verbatim transcript of a piece of mine published in THE IRISH DEMOCRAT in the 1980s called “Men of Violence, Brothers and Arms.”
I recalled a Christian Brother, a bully from the garrison town of Omagh who, in 1952 went apoplectic in condemnation of the IRA, which hadn’t fired a shot for many years, to 10
year- old boys who regarded that body as contemporaries of Fionn MacCumhal or Cuchulain. I also mentioned how two of my mother’s four brothers, all taught by the Christian
Brothers, had suffered, one from poison gas in Flanders, the other from shellfire off Jutland, serving in the British Forces in 1918 and 1916, and a third was killed by the Japanese
while serving with the Brits in Singapore in 1942. I conceded that the eldest of her brothers might conceivably be classified by current commentators as a Man of Violence,
as he had joined the Christian Brothers before the “Great War” and outlived all his six younger siblings until 1971, still wearing the habit.
I remember, in the same CBS School, St.Fintan’s, Sutton. four years later when a kindly Christian Brother remarked on the world situation. Nikita Kruschev made threats
against Britain. He was no admirer of Kruschev but I thought – “Serve the Brits right. Bravo Nikita.” The Brits were hanging Kenyans by the hundred and Cypriots in lesser
numbers, and were preparing with the French and Israelis to attack Egypt. I’d no opinion on the Arab-Israeli quarrel, but the British had never been up to any good I could
think of. A few weeks later the IRA launched Operation Harvest with spectacular raids across the North. Some of our class, who for weeks had heard the praise of
the Hungarian “Freedom Fighters” (a term newly- minted by Time Magazine) and followed the Suez adventure, were thrilled that some of our compatriots saved their martial energies for our own country.
A few weeks after that Feargal O’Hanlon and Sean Sabhat were killed in the Brookborough raid, and Sabhat had a massive funeral. One classmate exulted in his conviction
that Sabhat had gone to Hell. And, to our shame, none of us strangled him.
For years I travelled part of the way to school on the Hill of Howth tram. I was, literally, a fellow-traveller of a gent, sitting about a foot opposite me, who always had his nose in a book
or other papers. I didn’t know who he was at the time.
But he wrote an ill-informed piece about the Irish Christian Brothers, which was later reproduced by a Prick on the Make.
I’ll expand on this in a later BLOG…