It’s well-known by now that, at a Dublin canine present in 1920, Michael Collins exhibited a Kerry Blue Terrier named “Convict 224″. However as I discussed right here some weeks again (Diary, June 4th), a pedigree animal of that identify additionally reveals up in newspaper archives for 1917.
And it might probably hardly have been the identical one, except it was unusually quick for a terrier, as a result of it appears to have received the Tipperary Cup at Clonmel then, an occasion usually confined to greyhounds.
Now, due to reader Kevin Hannafin, we will replace the intelligence recordsdata of those four-legged republican militants. For there have been certainly two canine concerned. And the primary of them was owned by Kevin’s grandfather, Jim Clarke, a outstanding man whose life story he has simply printed.
Clarke was born in Meath, at Dowth, in 1874. However not least amongst his achievements was that he later transitioned efficiently right into a Kerryman, spending the final 50 years of his life there. Therefore the memoir’s title: “Jim Clarke of County Meath & Ballybunion”.
The transfer to Kerry was an accident of his early profession as skilled boxer. Across the flip of the century, Clarke received the Irish middleweight title by beating Myler Keogh of Donnybrook.
Keogh’s identify is well-known to James Joyce students, due to a cameo in Ulysses, whereby his promoter Blazes Boylan is claimed to have had him sequestered “down within the county Carlow” for a month earlier than a struggle, protecting him off the drink and “sucking duck eggs by God until additional orders.”
Effectively, when Clarke went down the nation to organize himself for a Keogh rematch, it was to Ballybunion. And through subsequent careers as a boxing promoter, greyhound proprietor, and bookmaker, he by no means got here again.
However it was additionally in Kerry he met Austin Stack, imprisoned after the Easter Rising in cell Q224 of an English jail, therefore that quantity’s later prominence within the nomenclature of Munster republican canine. It was in Kerry too that Clarke himself turned actively concerned within the independence wrestle.
Canine names apart – his racing hounds additionally included a “Bearna Bhaoil” – he typically mixed sport and struggle in additional sensible methods. Sourcing weapons for Collins as soon as, he introduced a greyhound to England in a crate with a false backside, in order that on the return journey the canine was standing (or mendacity) guard on a consignment of weapons.
A rare facet of the memoir, in the meantime, was his friendship with Ivor Churchill West, aka Lord Wimborne, who served as Lord Lieutenant of Eire between 1915 and 1918.
Wimborne had been suggested in London that among the best methods to get to know this nation was via the greyhound coursing fraternity, and Clarke and others fortunately indulged his firm, whereas affording him the safety of honour amongst doggy males.
They in flip tapped him for political affect – even to the extent as soon as of asking his assist to get Stack out of jail, which the Englishman agreed to do supplied the prisoner would to migrate to Australia on launch. Stack trumped the plan shortly afterwards by escaping over the wall on a rope ladder.
It was Wimborne who offered a part of the prize for the four-legged Convict 224 (or Convict Q224, because it seems in some listings) when the greyhound received the Tipperary Cup.
That was a shock consequence, at the very least to the bookies – Clarke himself maybe excepted. In pre-competition betting, he was backside of the record of 64 contenders, at a no-hoper value of 200-1.
However he made it to the final 4 on benefit, earlier than a stroke of luck landed him the title. On the morning of the scheduled finals, a blizzard dumped six ft of snow on the Tipperary course. Stewards known as the occasion off and it was determined that Clarke’s canine finest merited the £125 prize, cup, and Lord Wimborne’s silver Tara brooch.
Clarke seems to have been acquainted with all of the main nationalists of his era. Together with Michael Cusack, he one co-founded a Gaelic soccer group “confined to grocers’ assistants”.
He was a pal of James Mullet, convicted for his half within the Phoenix Park murders, and recalled how Mullet and fellow conspirator “Pores and skin-the-Goat” Fitzharris, on launch from jail, had been badly frightened at Inchicore railway station by the sight of an electrical tram hurtling down the road; an innovation launched whereas they had been incarcerated.
He knew Charlie Burgess (later Cathal Brugha) at a time when Burgess was “champion rope climber of the British Isles”. And among the many lesser-celebrated republicans of Irish historical past, he consists of an enchanting element a few fellow bookmaker from Co Down, one Charlie Scott. Scott, apparently, “was the primary man to introduce bananas to Dublin, having first began [in business there] promoting them from a handcart within the streets”.