Glúin na Buaidhe and the German connection – Glúin na Buaidhe agus an Nasc Gearmánach

The text I wrote about stupid prejudices was commented (in my old blog) by Eoin Ó Cróinín, who pointed out that while Irish obviously isn’t a fascist language, there have been Irish speakers with fascist or Nazi connections, notably the organization called Ailtirí na hAiséirí, “The Architects of Resurrection”. (Note that while éirí is masculine – an t-éirí, genitive an éirí, the compound word aiséirí usually is exceptionally feminine, an aiséirí, na haiséirí.) This is an important point and needs to be addressed.

An bhlagmhír a scríobh mé faoi na réamhbhreithiúnaisí amaideacha a bhíos ag na daoine i dtaobh na Gaeilge, fuair sí freagra ó Eoin Ó Cróinín a dúirt, cé nach teanga Fhaisisteach í an Ghaeilge, gur léir go raibh cainteoirí Gaeilge ann agus baint éigin acu leis an bhFaisisteachas nó leis na Naitsithe, go háirithe an eagraíocht úd Ailtirí na hAiséirí. Pointe tábhachtach é agus is fiú tuilleadh a rá ina thaobh.

It stands to reason that reactionary or fascistoid people were active in the Irish language movement in the years of the Free State. One such person was actually Seán Sabhat a.k.a. Seán South, who became an IRA martyr when he was killed in the Brookeborough raid during the Border Campaign, but it is typical of the political eclecticism of the Irish nationalist movement that the raid was led by Seán Garland, later a leader of the Marxist faction of Sinn Féin.

 

Luíonn sé le réasún go raibh daoine frithghníomhacha nó Faisisteacha gníomhach i ngluaiseacht na Gaeilge i mblianta an tSaorstáit. Duine acu siúd ab ea Seán Sabhat, a d’iompaigh ina mhairtíreach de chuid an IRA nuair a maraíodh é sa ruathar ar Achadh Lon le linn Fheachtas na Teorainne. Chomh héicléicteach is atá gluaiseacht náisiúnaíoch na hÉireann áfach, ba é Seán Garland a bhí ina cheann feadhna ar na hÓglaigh a rinne an ruathar – agus é i gceannas ar fhaicsean Marxach Shinn Féin ina dhiaidh sin.

 
Seán Sabhat was active in Conradh na Gaeilge and had practical and sensible ideas about promoting Irish, but at the same time he was a member of Maria Duce, a very conservative Catholic organization led by Father Denis Fahey, a priest who had experienced the turmoil of the Dreyfus affair while staying in France and been influenced by local anti-Semitic theologians (he was a young student back then, and susceptible to influences). I would refrain from calling Father Fahey a Fascist; he is most reminiscent of those clerical or religious reactionaries of the time which were found in many Catholic countries. Some of them did become Hitler’s allies, with Slovakia’s leader Jozef Tiso as a well-known example.

Bhí Seán Sabhat gníomhach i gConradh na Gaeilge agus smaointí praiticiúla ciallmhara aige faoi chur chun cinn na teanga. San am chéanna bhí sé ina bhall de Mharia Duce, eagraíocht an-choimeádach Chaitliceach arbh é an tAthair Donncha Ó Fathaigh a cathaoirleach. Sagart ab ea an tAthair Ó Fathaigh a bhí ina chónaí san Fhrainc díreach nuair a bhí scannal Dreyfus faoi lán an tseoil, agus é faoi thionchar diagairí Francacha frith-Ghiúdacha ansin (bhí sé ina mhac léinn óg san am, agus ní raibh sé díonta ar thionchar den chineál sin). Ba leasc liom Faisisteach a thabhairt ar an Athair Ó Fathaigh; is éard is mó a chuireas sé i gcuimhne dom ná an cineál frithghníomhaithe reiligiúnacha nó cléireacha a bhí thuas sa chuid is mó de na tíortha Caitliceacha san am. Cuid acu ar ndóigh chuaigh siad le Hitler – Jozef Tiso sa tSlóvaic mar shampla.
And of course, speaking of clerical reactionaries, Francisco Franco in Spain became the dictator of Spain in his own right. He also attracted the sympathies of many Irish people, and while there were Irishmen fighting for the Republic, there also was a sizable Irish force which sided with Franco – the Blueshirts, led by Eoin Ó Dubhthaigh, who became the Irish Brigade in Franco’s army. The Blueshirts were originally pro-Treaty soldiers who had fought the anti-Treaty IRA in the Irish Civil War.

Agus ar ndóigh, más ag trácht ar fhrithghníomhaithe cléireacha atáimid, ní féidir linn gan tagairt éigin a dhéanamh do Francisco Franco, a bhain amach deachtóireacht na Spáinne, é féin. Bhí cuid mhór de mhuintir na hÉireann báúil le Franco, agus siúd is go raibh cuid mhaith Éireannach ag troid ar son Phoblacht na Spáinne, thaobhaigh fórsa mór Éireannach le Franco – na Léinte Gorma, faoi cheannas Eoin Uí Dhubhthaigh, a d’iompaigh ina mBriogáid Éireannach in arm Franco. Ar dtús, is éard a bhí sna Léinte Gorma ná saighdiúirí in Arm an tSaorstáit agus iad ag cur troda ar na hÓglaigh frith-Chonartha i gCogadh na gCarad.

 
It is worth noting that while Seán Sabhat sided with the Republican tradition and joined the IRA, Eoin Ó Dubhthaigh and his Blueshirts were Free Staters. In Irish politics, the Republican vs Free State divide was so important that the more universal left wing vs right wing divide gave way to it.

Is fiú a thabhairt faoi deara ná, má chuaigh Seán Sabhat leis an bPoblachtánachas agus leis an IRA, gur Saorstátairí a bhí in Eoin Ó Dubhthaigh agus ina chuid Léinte Gorma. Chomh tábhachtach is a bhí an scoilt idir na Poblachtánaigh agus na Saorstátairí ba mhinic a sháraigh sí an scoilt idir an eite chlé agus an eite dheis.

 

 

As regards Ailtirí na hAiséirí and Glúin na Buaidhe, they were both organizations led by Gearóid Ó Cuinneagáin. He was active, among other things, in the legendary Irish-language newspaper An tÉireannach in the thirties; it is often spoken of as a Socialist paper, but actually it was another example of the peculiarly Irish radicalism which can be right-wing and left-wing at the same time. In 1940, he started a branch of Conradh na Gaeilge known as the Resurrection Branch, Craobh na hAiséirí.

Maidir le hAiltirí na hAiséirí agus le Glúin na Buaidhe, ba eagraíochtaí iad a bhunaigh Gearóid Ó Cuinneagáin. Bhí an Cuinneagánach ina ghníomhaí ghnóthach i ngluaiseacht na Gaeilge: sna tríochaidí scríobhadh sé don pháipéar mhórchlúiteach úd An tÉireannach: is minic a thugtar “nuachtán Sóisialach” air, ach le fírinne is sampla é den radacachas shain-Éireannach ina n-aontaítear an eite dheis agus an eite chlé. Sa bhliain 1940 chuir an Cuinneagánach tús le craobh nua de Chonradh na Gaeilge, mar atá, Craobh na hAiséirí.

 

 

Craobh na hAiséirí became known as the most active and most enthusiastic branch of the organization. Among the people it attracted were Proinsias Mac an Bheatha, later a renowned Irish-language journalist and a prolific but mostly less than readable writer (he did author one tolerably good historical novel though, Cnoc na hUamha), and Annraoi Ó Liatháin, who turned out to be a talented writer of adventure novels in the language.

Is é an teist a bhí ar Chraobh na hAiséirí san am ná go raibh sí ar an gcraobh ba ghníomhaí, ba dhíograisí de Chonradh na Gaeilge. Chuaigh daoine cosúil le Proinsias Mac an Bheatha agus Annraoi Ó Liatháin sa Chraobh – ina dhiaidh sin bhí Proinsias ina iriseoir aithnidiúil Gaeilge agus ina scríbhneoir lagmheasartha leabhar, cé gur éirigh leis úrscéal stairiúil amháin a chumadh – Cnoc na hUamha – a bhí réasúnta maith. Maidir leis an Liathánach, chruthaigh seisean thar barr ag scríobh úrscéalta eachtránaíochta sa teanga.

 

 

Craobh na hAiséirí left the Conradh to become Glúin na Buaidhe, The Generation of Victory (as Ó Cuinneagáin was from Belfast, it is no wonder that the name of the organization was in Ulster Irish; in the present standard language it would be Glúin an Bhua). About the same time Ó Cuinneagáin started his own political party, Ailtirí na hAiséirí. His political philosophy was undeniably influenced by Fascism and Franco-style authoritarian clericalism, and he was able to spread a contagious enthusiasm for the Irish language among young people, but does this prove that there is something inherently Fascist about the language?

D’fhág Craobh na hAiséirí an Conradh, agus is é an t-ainm a bhaist siad orthu féin ansin ná Glúin na Buaidhe (Glúin an Bhua a bheadh ann de réir an Chaighdeáin, ach ó ba as Béal Feirste don Chuinneagánach, b’fhearr leis leagan Ultach a úsáid). Faoin am chéanna bhunaigh an Cuinneagánach a pháirtí polaitiúil féin, mar atá, Ailtirí na hAiséirí. Ba léir go ndeachaigh an Faisisteachas agus an cineál cléireachas údarásaíoch a shamhlófá le Franco – go ndeachaigh an dá rud seo i bhfeidhm ar a fhealsúnacht pholaitiúil, agus ba léir freisin go raibh sé in ann díograis i leith na Gaeilge a mhúscailt i measc aos óg a linne, ach an ionann sin is a rá go bhfuil an Faisisteachas i ndúchas na teanga?

 

 

Rather the other way round. Ó Cuinneagáin understood that he could not spread his ideology among the masses by using Irish alone, and he found it necessary to use more English than Irish in his propaganda rag Aiséirí (“Resurrection”). This led to protestations that there was too little Irish in the paper, and if there was, it was at least partly due to there being too few writers with good Irish happy to see their articles appear in the paper.

A mhalairt ar fad, a déarfainn. Thuig an Cuinneagánach nach bhféadfadh sé a idé-eolaíocht a chraobhscaoileadh agus é i dtuilleamaí na Gaeilge amháin, agus ba riachtanach leis an tús áite a thabhairt don Bhéarla san iris úd Aiséirí a bhí mar ghléas bolscaireachta aige. Ansin áfach bhí go leor Gaeilgeoirí míshásta leis an easpa Gaeilge ar an bpáipéar, agus má bhí a leithéid d’easpa ann, ceann de na cúiseanna ab ea é nach raibh mórán Gaeilgeoirí maithe fonnmhar a gcuid altanna a chur i gcló ag an gCuinneagánach.

 

 

Ó Cuinneagáin did write approvingly about Nazi Germany, but his main emphasis was on the Catholic authoritarianism. Those who caught the contagion of Irish language enthusiasm from him either returned to the fold of Conradh na Gaeilge – such as Annraoi Ó Liatháin – or focused on practical aspects of language work – such as Proinsias Mac an Bheatha, who was for years the editor of the newspaper Inniu.

Is fíor go moladh an Cuinneagánach an Ghearmáin Naitsíoch ina chuid scríbhinní ó am go ham, ach is ar an údarásaíocht Chaitliceach a chuireadh sé an bhéim ba mhó. Iad siúd a tholg an díograis teanga uaidh, d’fhill siad ar Chonradh na Gaeilge sa deireadh – cosúil leis an Liathánach – nó dhírigh siad ar ghnéithe praiticiúla na hoibre teanga, ar nós Proinsias Mac an Bheatha, a chaith na blianta fada ina eagarthóir ar an nuachtán úd Inniu.

 

 

Actually, while Seán Sabhat was probably influenced by Ó Cuinneagáin’s writings while very young, the most important attempt made by Nazis to contact and recruit Irish-speaking nationalists was the rescue of Frank Ryan (Proinsias Ó Riain). Ryan was actually a left-wing Republican fighting in Spain who had been captured by Franco’s forces and was languishing in a prison in Burgos waiting for execution. The German intelligence service, the Abwehr, got interested in him as a possible asset and got him released and handed over. (Here it might be worth pointing out that the Abwehr itself was a military organization rather than a Nazi ideological one: its leader Wilhelm Canaris was actually imprisoned and executed shortly before the end of the war because of his relations with the military opposition that had attempted to kill Hitler.)

Le fírinne, cé gur dóigh go ndeachaigh scríbhinní an Chuinneagánaigh i bhfeidhm ar Sheán Sabhat nuair a bhí sé an-óg, ba é tarrtháil Phroinsiais Uí Riain an iarracht ba mhó a rinne na Naitsithe le dul i dteagmháil le náisiúntóirí Éireannacha le Gaeilge agus lena leas a bhaint astu. Poblachtánach ón eite chlé a bhí sa Rianach a ghlac páirt i gcogadh cathartha na Spáinne, agus é cimithe ag fórsaí Franco. Bhí sé i bpríosún i mBurgos (príomhchathair shealadach Franco i dtuaisceart na Spáinne) i nganfhios don tsaol agus an chuma ar an scéal go raibh sé le cur chun báis, ach ansin chuir an Abwehr, seirbhís faisnéise na Gearmáine, suim ann agus iad ag déanamh go bhféadfaí é a úsáid ar dhóigh éigin. Mar sin bhí na Spáinnigh sásta é a scaoileadh as an bpríosún agus a sheachadadh chuig na Gearmánaigh. (Is fiú a phointeáil amach anseo, is féidir, gur eagraíocht mhíleata a bhí san Abwehr, is é sin, nach eagraíocht idé-eolaíoch de chuid Pháirtí na Naitsithe a bhí inti. Go gearr roimh dheireadh an chogaidh caitheadh Wilhelm Canaris, ceannasaí an Abwehr, i dtóin an phríosúin é féin, agus cuireadh chun báis é, toisc go raibh baint aige leis an gcomhcheilg mhíleata a rinne iarracht Hitler a dhúnmharú.)

 

 

Frank Ryan was supposed to be brought back to Ireland together with Seán Russell, an Irish Republican de facto turned into a German agent, probably in order to start a pro-German Republican rising against Ireland’s government. The operation was masterminded by Edmund Veesenmayer, the SS specialist for this kind of subversion, but it folded partly because of bad preparations (Ryan was neither trained nor given instructions for the mission), partly because of Russell’s sudden illness and death on board the submarine that was taking them to Ireland. Ryan was brought back to Germany and died in Dresden in 1944. There is no reason to suspect foul play behind his demise, as he had been a very sick man for some time. He had lost most of his hearing while still in Ireland, having been badly mistreated by Free State jailers, and his spell in the Spanish prison wasn’t exactly wholesome either.

Bhí Proinsias Ó Riain le tabhairt ar ais go hÉirinn in éineacht le Seán Ó Ruiséil, Poblachtánach Éireannach a bhí iompaithe ina ghníomhaí Ghearmánach de facto. Is dócha go raibh siad le ceannairc Phoblachtánach a thosú a rachadh chun leasa don Ghearmáin. Ba é Edmund Veesenmayer a bhí i gceannas ar an oibríocht seo, agus é ina speisialtóir ag an SS le haghaidh treascairt pholaitiúil den chineál seo, ach sa deireadh thit an tóin as an oibríocht. Ní raibh sí ullmhaithe go rómhaith, nó ní bhfuair an Rianach oiliúint ná treoracha le haghaidh an mhisin, agus mar bharr ar an donas, nuair a bhí an bheirt fhear ar bord fomhuireáin ag dul go hÉirinn buaileadh an Ruiséalach breoite go tobann, agus bhí sé básaithe sular bhain an fomhuireán amach ceann a scríbe. Tugadh an Rianach ar ais go dtí an Ghearmáin, agus fuair seisean bás in Dresden sa bhliain 1944 ar chúiseanna sách nádúrtha, nó bhí sé ag éileamh go dona le giota maith ama anuas. Chaill sé éisteacht a chluas, an chuid ba mhó di, sular imigh sé ó Éirinn, nó thug séiléirí an tSaorstáit drochíde dó, agus ní dheachaigh a sheal sa phríosún Spáinneach chun follántais dó ach an oiread.

 

 

Of course, it is necessary to mention Francis Stuart here, too. Stuart was an iconoclastic modernist writer who was friendly with Ezra Pound; I guess both gentlemen were the kind of cultural elitists who felt attracted to Nazis because they felt their kind would fare better as courtly poets of a supposedly enlightened totalitarianism than in a vulgar democracy. Stuart had had some involvement with the Republican side of the Irish Civil War, but I don’t know whether he had any idea of the Irish language. Anyway, he was approached by Helmut Clissmann and Eduard Hempel, German representatives in Ireland, and invited to Germany to give a series of academic lectures. This he did. Later he used to broadcast English-language radio propaganda aimed at Irish listeners.

Ar ndóigh tá sé riachtanach cúpla focal a rá i dtaobh Francis Stuart anseo chomh maith. Scríbhneoir íolbhristeach nua-aimseartha a bhí ann agus é mór le hEzra Pound. Lucht scothaicmeachais iad an bheirt fhear seo, is dóigh liom, agus luiteamas acu leis an Naitsíochas toisc gur shíl siad go mbeadh a leithéidí féin ní b’fhearr as i gcóras ollsmachtúil soilsithe (shíl siad go raibh soilsiú nó eagnaíocht éigin ag roinnt leis an Naitsíochas) ná i ndaonlathas madrúil. Bhí baint éigin ag Stuart leis na Poblachtánaigh i gCogadh na gCarad, ach níl a fhios agam an raibh focal Gaeilge sa phluc aige. Pé scéal é d’iarr Helmut Clissmann agus Eduard Hempel, arbh ionadaithe oifigiúla don Ghearmáin iad, – d’iarr siad ar Stuart sraith léachtanna acadúla a thabhairt sa Ghearmáin. Rinne sé rud orthu. Ina dhiaidh sin chaith sé seal ina chraoltóir Béarla ar raidió bolscaireachta na Gearmáine agus é ag díriú ar éisteoirí Éireannacha.

 

 

There was another Irish broadcaster there though, a certain Róisín Ní Mheara, who seems to have been a more ideologically convinced supporter of the Nazi regime than Stuart, and who also was a speaker of the Irish language. Back in the nineties, she published a pro-Nazi memoir in the language which inspired some heated discussion, but seems to have been forgotten since. Whether she was a Nazi in the strict sense of the world, I don’t know, but she seems to have been an unrepentant anti-Semite and an old-fashioned Catholic conservative appalled at the depravity of the modern world. In this way, she was the complete opposite of such modernist Fascists as Ezra Pound. She was more akin to Tiso and Franco.

Bhí craoltóir Éireannach eile ag obair anseo – Róisín Ní Mheara ab ainm di. Dealraíonn sé go raibh sí fíor-bháúil le hidé-eolaíocht na Naitsithe – ní ba bháúla ná Stuart; thairis sin bhí Gaeilge aici. Sna nóchaidí d’fhoilsigh sí a cuimhní cinn, leabhar a thug le fios go raibh luí aici leis na Naitsithe i gcónaí. Tharraing an leabhar callán éigin sna meáin Ghaeilge, ach is dócha gur ligeadh i ndearmad í ina dhiaidh sin. Níl a fhios agam an féidir a rá go raibh sí ina Naitsí i gciall cheart an fhocail, ach is cosúil go raibh sí ina frith-Ghiúdach neamhleithscéalach agus go raibh déistin uirthi roimh dhrúis an domhain nua-aimseartha, toisc gur le coimeádachas Caitliceach a tógadh í. Mar sin bhí a saoldearcadh bun os cionn le nua-aimsearthacht Fhaisisteachas leithéidí Ezra Pound, ní ba chosúla le smaointeachas Tiso nó Franco.

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