Smashing of the Van (II), The
DESCRIPTION: Ten Sinn Fein men smash a prison van on Glasgow's High Street to free a prisoner. The police arrest the Sinn Fein men and Father McRory "a mere clergyman." Counsellors McKane and Sandymen defend the accused and the verdict is "Not Guilty"
EARLIEST DATE: 1988 (McBride)
KEYWORDS: violence crime trial clergy police IRA
May 4, 1921 - Attempted rescue of Frank Carty from a police van in Glasgow (source: Coogan)
FOUND IN: ireland
REFERENCES (1 citation):
McBride 65, "The Smashing of the Van" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES [309 words]: The song is about a failed rescue attempt of IRA commander Frank Carty while he was being transported in a police van to Duke Street prison. Inspector Johnson was killed. Father McRory, among others, was charged but all the accused were acquitted. "The trial, and in particular Father McRory's arrest, fanned sectarian tensions to white heat. However, the Anglo-Irish Truce of July 1921 helped to defuse the situation." (source: Tim Pat Coogan, Wherever Green is Worn (2001, New York), p. 243).
McBride: "Fr. McRory, mentioned in this song was from the 'Parish', the rural area that lies north of Bunrana Town, hence the popularity of this short song in Inishowen."
McBride's text begins "It was on the twenty fourth of May nineteen and twenty one"; The Times of London supports Coogan's date of May 4, 1921 (source:"Irish Outrage in Glasgow Police Inspector Murdered", The Times, May 5, 1921, p. 7, Issue 42712, column D, Copyright 1921 The Times, Article CS119083173, Copyright 2002 The Gale Group). - BS
The index to Younger reveals that there were two Frank Cartys of interest during this period, one from Sligo, one from Wexford. Frank Carty of Wexford was an IRA brigade adjutant (Younger, p. 343), but it is Carty of Sligo who is meant here. Interestingly, Younger has far more references to Cary of Wexford than Carty of Sligo,mentioning this rescue only in passing. And most of the other histories I checked don't mention Carty at all.
I would not hasten to accept that Father McRory was a "mere" clergyman. I assume this is Joseph MacRory (1861-1945), archishop of Armagh from 1928 and cardinal from 1929 (OxfordCompanion, p. 339); he is said to have been "reluctant to condemn IRA activities." And he later inflamed the troubles with a statement that Protestant churche were not part of the true church of Christ (Murphy, p. 159). - RBW
Last updated in version 2.5
- Murphy: John A. Murphy, Ireland in the Twentieth Century (originally published in 1975 as a portion of the Gill Hiistory of Ireland), Gill and Macmillan, 1989
- OxfordCompanion: S. J. Connolly, editor, The Oxford Companion to Irish History, Oxford, 1998
- Younger: Calton Younger, Ireland's Civil War (1968, 1979; I used the 1988 Fontana edition)
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