The IRISH BULLETIN , published by the elected Government of Ireland under British occupation from 1919-1921 is essential to the understanding of that period. It got a brief and sneering mention in THE IRISH TIMES (God bless the mark!) some years ago which prompted an unpublished letter to that “paper of record” –


I was bemused by Michael Foley’s review (February 14) of “Periodicals and Journalism in Twentieth Century Ireland” particularly the short shrift he gave to the Irish Bulletin “which was not available from corner newsagents.”

In his memoir “Changing Times -Ireland since 1898” Edward MacLysaght (1887-1986) records that he kept every copy since its first issue in 1919 and the inconvenience it caused his mother when she took two copies to read on the train which she boarded at Killaloe in February 1921. The train was stopped by Crown forces on the way to Limerick, who searched her and court-martialled her for possession of the paper. She was sentenced, in Limerick, to one month’s imprisonment, or a fine of £20.00. She chose imprisonment, but her husband that day from a business trip to Australia, paid the fine for her.

Your reviewer may reflect that there was no regular air-service to Australia in 1921, and may speculate on the likely consequences for corner newsagents had they dared to stock the Irish Bulletin.

Yours faithfully

Donal Kennedy


15 February 2015″.

One might have thought  that during the so called Decade of Commemorations a publication taken so seriously by our British enemies would have been reprinted by the Irish State and examined by Irish universities and political commentators.  Those who prepared it, wrote it and distributed it did so at the risk of their lives and liberty

The chief writers and Editors, Lawrence Ginnell, Desmond FitzGerald, Erskine Childers, Frank Gallaher and Robert Brennan were writers of the first order, unsurpassed by any journalists or politicians writing in these islands today. It would seem that those who support British rule in Ireland today are as scared of the Bulletin as their predecessors were a century ago when they court-martialed a harmless woman for possession of two copies of the paper and sentenced her to a month’s imprisonment.

THE TIMES of London has been publishing excerpts from its own columns one hundred years ago, many of which dealt with the struggle in Ireland, always from an imperialist, anti – democratic viewpoint.

Last week on the 8th of September it reprinted a report “from its own correspondent in Dublin” on 8 September 1921. The words bracketed are my own, to clarify for today’s readers the confusing terminology of THE TIMES.

The piece started –

“The country awaits with painful anxiety the (British) Cabinet response to Sinn Fein’s latest letter. This anxiety is shared not only by the (British and pro-British) political parties, but by a large majority of Sinn Feiners. If civil strife (British repression) is renewed it will be the outcome of blundering tactics and not of deliberate purpose. Only a few extremists here (Dublin) question the (British) Prime Minister’s desire for a settlement and Mr deValera’s latest statement proclaims a similar desire.”

THE TIMES’ Dublin Correspondent continued –

“The Irish Bulletin complains that the British press does not seriously discuss Mr de Valera’s latest letter to the Prime Minister and that it professes not to understand the letter.

The Bulletin adds ‘Actually President de Valera’s reply stated the issue between the countries in definite language. It pointed out that Ireland was not being offered Dominion status and the  principle of government by consent of the governed had not been accepted by the British Government’  “

The TIMES report continued, but I need not quote it in full..

It occurs to me that this may be  the first or the only time that THE IRISH BULLETIN was mentioned or quoted in THE TIMES. And if it had been mentioned or quoted in Irish papers publicly on sale in Ireland in the previous two years they would have been suppressed by the British regime.

The status of THE IRISH BULLETIN?  I quote an Advertisement in the September 2021 IRISH POLITICAL REVIEW –

“It was “the official newspaper of the Irish Government during the War of Independence. Its aim was to provide those outside Ireland with the Government’s case and the facts of the war it had to wage. This information could not otherwise be obtained because of the suppression by the British of all other outlets that put the Irish Government’s case. It was produced with minimal resources and under constant threat of suppression. It was therefore an underground publication although being the paper of a legitimate government.

It was unadorned with any other content except straightforward  factual and irrefutable information. This is what made its reputation and because of that it became one of the most powerful weapons that eventually proved successful.

It deserves an honoured place in Irish history, yet it has never been republished and it is hardly referred to by contemporary historians, and when it is, it is almost inevitably is in disparaging terms”.

Since 1912 the Aubane Historical Society has reprinted the IRISH BULLETINS in 4 Volumes.  edited by Jack Lane. The Society is an amateur Society motivated by love  and is regarded as a pariah by “respectable” society. None of them have OBEs nor nice little earners as guest speakers at the Royal United Services Institute nor  War Studies Departments at London’s Imperial College, nor, so far as I know has any of them been invited to speak at the Military College at the Curragh. Thomas Davis’s  exhortation “” Educate That You May Be Free”  is deemed subversive in “respectable, mature” Ireland.                                  . 

It is perhaps a tribute to the integrity of THE IRISH BULLETIN that the British never tried to refute it. But, It did attempt to discredit it by producing a counterfeit edition which was exposed as soon as it was produced. That was the work of one of Dublin Castle’s black propaganda officers, Captain Hugh Pollard. It blew up in his face.

Pollard’s most successful stunt as a British intelligence officer was to fly General Franco from the Canaries to Spanish Morocco, from where that murderous mutineer  launched his 40 year tyranny over Spain.

Wikipedia describes a startling number of stories of Pollard’s escapades up to his death in the 1960s

.Pollard’s 1920 colleagues in Dublin Castle , having apparently left British Government service, established some dodgy enterprises which continue to this day.

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