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From the archives | May 28

Irish revolutionaries speak to IRA rally at Fenway

Declare Irish republic will not be swept or signed away

The Countess Constance de Markievics and Miss Kathleen Barry of Ireland got a great and enthusiastic reception yesterday afternoon from some 6,000 people in Fenway Park, many of whom had come from distant places in New England to see and hear the eloquent Irish women patriots. There were large delegations from Providence, Fall River and New Bedford, Worcester, Fitchburg and Lowell.

And none of these people were disappointed in the eloquence for both of the Irish women are cultured and brilliant speakers. If anything, the dark-haired and dark-eyed little Miss Kathleen Barry -- who looks like a college graduate but talks like a college president -- is the more impressive speaker of the two -- more logical, less emotional, but not a whit less determined and fully as hostile to everything British, where Ireland is concerned, as the “fighting Countess.”

Countess a trained speaker

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The Countess is a dramatic-looking figure on the platform, tall, erect, wiry, dressed in black and wearing glasses on an aquiline nose, these emphasizing the sharpness of her features. She has a rich voice and is fluent and emphatic of speech -- a woman trained in harangue at public meetings -- a woman whose heart has been seared and embittered not only by her two years of prison life, but by the clear knowledge she has of Ireland’s history and suffering for the past 700 years under British rule.

She is as suspicious of British motives as she is contemptuous of British pretensions, and she insists that Ireland must be wholly free of England in governmental matters. So does Miss Barry.

And so did Capt Cornelius J. Conroy of the Irish Republican Army, who expressed his contempt for the British “Tommy” in no uncertain terms.

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The meeting was held under the auspices of the American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic and the Woman’s Auxiliary. At least half of those present were women. The Countess and her party were escorted on the field by the Brian Boru Pipers of Worcester and a group of ex-service men -- the De Valera Guard -- carrying the American and Irish flags, Pres. John F. Harrigan escorted the Countess.

O’Brien acts as chairman

After the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner” by Mr. O’Dowd of Worcester, Pres. Harrigan called the meeting to order, first welcoming the guests and introducing Dist Atty Thomas C. O’Brien as chairman -- “one of the few prominent Irish-American citizens who do not wait until November or December to show their interest in the Irish cause.”

Mr. O’Brien commented on the fact that only a few hours previously the grounds had been used for a memorial service for the men who gave their lives for American liberty. “This gathering,” he continued, “is for a two-fold purpose: to welcome these friends of Irish nationality who have fought and suffered for Ireland and secondly to show them the organization which has done so much for Irish nationality in the ‘Land of Promise.’ “

Capt Cornelius J. Conroy of the 4th Brigade of the Irish Republican Army said he would like to tell a few things about the Irish Army. He said: “I’m one of the so-called irregulars because we refuse to accept a commission and citizenship with the murderers of our race. We’re going to remain irregulars. Every one of us fought for the republic; we didn’t wait for the truce to join the army. There will be no truce the next time -- we’ll drive ‘em into the sea. They’ll dirty it, but we can’t help that.”

Speech of countess

The Countess Markievics got an ovation when she was introduced and she returned thanks for the welcome in Gaelic. Then in English she said:

“I come to you with messages from Ireland. First, to tell you that the republic still lives -- the republic you helped to build. It still lives and functions and we are not going to allow it to be swept or signed away. I come to thank you for your help in the past and for all your support, and to tell you what an inspiration America has been to us; to ask your help and to tell you a little about our republic, and what we did with the money you subscribed to the loan.

“Easter Week, 1916, was our Bunker Hill. You were beaten at Bunker Hill -- so were we in Dublin -- but not before we, like you, had learned to feel like free men, standing under our own flag, with rifles in our hands. Bunker Hill gave you strength to carry on your war until your country was free. Easter Week has given us the strength to carry on, for we see victory as the goal.

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