Sources


FRANK EDWARDS

The man that fought the Bishop

The story of his life in Waterford [Copyright © David Smith 2002]

This article is an expanded version of the article that first appeared in DECIES No. 58: Journal of the Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society, 2002. Researchers, Historians and students may quote freely from this article but the author's copyright must be respected and full attribution given.

The Edwards family - Jack, Annie and Frank

The Edwards family consisted of the father, Patrick; the mother, Annie; three boys, Jack, Willie and Frank and three girls, Josephine, May and Tess. The family came to Waterford from Belfast in 1917 when Edwards was ten years old. Edwards has written that his father and mother had no background in the national movement; that stance came from his maternal grandmother's family in Co. Limerick.(2) Shortly after arriving in Waterford where they lived at number eleven John Street, the family suffered a series of deaths that claimed three members within a year.(3) The oldest son, Jack, had experienced sectarian violence as a young boy when he was beaten up by an Orange mob whilst walking home from school. Nothing else is known about the family before their arrival in Waterford but as soon as they did, Jack, aged eighteen, joined Sinn Fein, Connradh na Gaeilge and the Irish Volunteers.

JACK EDWARDS

Jack was almost six feet in height and was very well built with fine features and he soon became the life and soul of every Gaelic gathering in the city.(4) He was a member of the 4th battalion, No. l. Waterford Brigade of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and was attached to D Company. During the War of Independence he had to leave his employment as a fireman with the Great Southern Railway because of his political activities and he went 'on the run' as a member of the East Waterford Flying Column. After the treaty Jack was one of the garrison that took over the Waterford infantry barracks from the British forces. At the beginning of the Civil War, he drove some trains carrying IRA units from Dublin to their stronghold in Munster, where a fresh stand was being made.

When Waterford city was besieged by Free State troops in July 1922, he was a member of the Republican garrison that defended the city. He was stationed in the Head Post Office on the Quay and Edwards tells how he, (aged fifteen), turned up at the Post Office only to be told, by Jack, to 'go home to hell.'(5) Jack was taken prisoner following the siege and was imprisoned in Kilkenny jail. On 19 August 1922, he was speaking with some comrades in the prison yard when he was told that someone on the roadway, outside the prison wall, wished to speak with him. Having hurried to his prison cell and whilst he was shouting down to his friend he was challenged by a sentry. He ignored the sentry who took aim and shot him dead.(6) Jack Edwards' mother was sitting the midwifery examination when she was called out of the hall to be told her son had been shot. The family, and the IRA in Waterford, believed that Jack's death was a tit-for-tat retaliation for the killing in Barrack Street of twenty-one year-old Lieutenant Commandant Ned O'Brien of the National Army during the previous week and for the killing in an IRA ambush near Clonmel, in that same week, of two members of the National Army.

It is at this point that a major discrepancy occurs between the version of events as told by Edwards in Survivors and the facts as related to me by witnesses and as reported in the local newspapers. Edwards' version has gained great currency in books, magazines, newspapers, on the Internet, and in speeches. He wrote, referring to his brother's funeral

I went to Kilkenny to claim his body. In spite of everything, there was a great turnout when it arrived in the city, but the doors of the Church were shut against him. The Christians and the Provisional Government, you could say, were hand in glove.(7)

The latter statement is untrue. His brother's remains were given all the rites and honours of the Church.

At the Cathedral the remains, borne on the shoulders of the pallbearers - were met by the Rev. Father O'Connell, Adm., and Rev. Father Murphy, C.C. who preceded the coffin to the mortuary chapel where it was placed on a catafalque. On Tuesday morning, Requiem Mass was celebrated by Rev. Father O'Connell at eight o'clock ... Large numbers visited the church on Tuesday morning ... the face of the deceased being visible through a glass inserted in the upper portion of the ... coffin. At noon, the funeral took place to Ballygunner. A large crowd congregated ... and the hearse ... preceded by the T.F. Meagher Sinn Féin Brass and Reed Band moved off. At Reginald's Tower the sentries on duty presented arms as the cortege passed, a similar tribute being paid by the National Guard at the De La Salle College, who turned out at Newtown under the command of their officer, a bugler of the party sounding the Last Post.(8)

The reasons for Edwards' statement that 'the doors of the Church were shut against him' is a matter for conjecture, but a hint may be gleaned from a comment made by Joe Monks, his comrade in the Spanish Civil War, who wrote about Edwards that 'in his heart he was a bitter man. His bitterness was directed against ... the Catholic hierarchy that had had him dismissed from his school teaching post.'(9)

His brother's death was a seminal moment in young Edwards' life. The loss of a revered brother in such a fashion cemented his republicanism, just as the deaths of his brother and sister from tuberculosis, caused by the terrible housing conditions, helped to advance his growing socialism. If Jack's death had been a baptism of fire for young Edwards, his mother's activities confirmed him in the republican faith.

ANNIE EDWARDS

Annie Edwards was, like her sons, an activist; she was a committed member of Cumann na mBan and also a member of the movement to free the Waterford Republican prisoners who were imprisoned by the Free State forces during the Civil War. The following is an example of her activism. This letter was sent to Mr. P. Brazil, Town Clerk, Waterford.

5/11/1922 A Chara, Kindly bring before the Mayor and Corporation at your next meeting the following resolution passed by a meeting representative of the Mothers, Wives and sisters of the Waterford Republican Prisoners:- That we call on the Corporation to pass a resolution calling on Irish Local Authorities to enquire into the conditions of Jails where these prisoners are being detained, and to pass a further resolution protesting against the deportation of any such prisoners. I view of the fact that the mayor [Alderman Vincent J. White T. D.] has voted for the Death and Deportation Order, we think it only right that the other members of the Council should state publicly whether they also are in favour of Irish republican Prisoners being deported from their native land. The undersigned will be in attendance at the Corporation meeting tomorrow evening at 7.30p.m. Susan Foley, Anne Edwards, Mary Margaret Creed, Frances Neilan, Nelly Wyley and Kitty Brennan.(10) At the subsequent meeting of the City Council the mayor ruled the matter out of order because (a) the language in which the letter was framed was disrespectful to the Council and to himself as mayor and (b) the letter was not received in time to be dealt with in correspondence. Cllr Cahill protested against the ruling and proposed that the delegation be heard and this motion was seconded by Cllr Walsh, supported by Cllr Jones. The mayor said he had already ruled on the matter. Cllr Larkin supported the mayor and suggested the deputation should send a letter couched in proper language and that they then be heard in committee but this was unacceptable to the deputation present. Several persons, of both sexes, who had taken up positions in the auditorium of the Council Chamber, created pandemonium and the business of the Corporation was held up for about two hours. The meeting could not resume until the disturbers had been cleared from the Council Chamber by the military.

FRANK EDWARDS

One can only imagine the effect that all of this had on the mind of an impressionable fifteen year old. He was already a member, since 1917, of Fianna Eireann, a republican youth movement founded in 1909 to counter what was thought to be the anti-nationalist Scout Association of Ireland. On joining the Fianna, members had to declare; 'I promise to work for the independence of Ireland, never to join England's armed forces and to obey my superior officers.' The Fianna was regarded, locally, as a stepping-stone to the IRA.

After attending school in Waterpark College, Edwards went to the De La Salle teacher-training college in Waterford where the majority of work was carried out through the medium of Irish, and he became a national schoolteacher. He was now in the prime of life, a tall, strong, well-built young man who was a member of Waterford Boat Club where he rowed for the senior eight. He was elected to the committee of the club in March 1931 and he was a playing member of Waterford City Rugby Club's 1st XV. In October 1932, he was admitted to membership of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) at a meeting in City Hall (he had obtained a teaching post at Mount Sion schools) and in the following week he was voted on to the committee of the Gaelic League at the annual general meeting of that body.

It would appear that the coming together of Edwards and Mount Sion School was a match made in heaven. The school's nationalist and gaelic ethos were in tune with his own and the teaching of all subjects through the medium of Irish would have been very close to his heart. Furthermore, his school superior Brother Flannery (a man of wide cultural tastes who appreciated the fine arts, particularly music) believed, like Edwards in Brother Rice's apostolic work of caring for the poorest children and that it was no use trying to educate boys who were hungry-the body had to be fed as well as the mind. Brother Flannery sought out those boys who were often in want of the very necessities of life and he took care to have meals provided for them in the monastery. One of my interviewees, a former pupil of Edwards, told me that Edwards did likewise. Boys were given meals, on a regular basis, at his Barrack street home where the family now lived.

(1) Joe Monks (1985), With the Reds in Andalusia, (The John Cornford Poetry Group). The new commander of the XX International battalion [in the Spanish Civil War], a Mexican named Colonel Gomez, came to Chimorra to visit his No. 2 Company. Gomez … wanted … to shake hands with … him that fought the bishop.

(2) Uinseann MacEoin (1980), Survivors, Dublin, Argenta Publications), P. 1.

(3) The first to die was Willie, aged seventeen years. He died from tuberculosis on 21 September 1918 and his father did not long survive him. Patrick, a prison warder, had joined the British army during the Great War and, having survived that conflict, he died in Waterford of organic brain disease on 1 April 1919 aged fifty four years. Josephine, aged ten years, died of tuberculosis only four months after her father on 1 August 1919. The family lived at number eleven John Street at this time.

(4) Nioclás de Fuiteoil (1948) Waterford Remembers, (Waterford, National Graves Association, East Waterford, p. 34).

(5) MacEoin (1980), Survivors, p. 5.

(6) The family was now living at KerryPark Terrace, Waterford.

(7) MacEoin, Survivors, p. 4.
(8) Munster Express, August 26, 1922
(9) Monks, With the Reds in Andalusia, 1985.
(10) Minutes of the Corporation meeting, Waterford City Archives.

Frank Edwards - POLITICAL ACTIVITIES

Edwards had joined the IRA in about 1924 but in the latter part of the decade, he had become inactive. He joined Saor Éire, the political wing of the IRA, at its foundation in 1931. The local IRA was involved in various activities such as when three men visited all the local cinemas, in August 1932, and requested the managers not to show films 'of a decidedly British type.' The manager of one city cinema admitted to a Waterford News reporter that 'as far back as two years ago he himself had noticed that the news films supplied by Pathe ... and Fox Movietone were being utilised for propaganda purposes. The men who visited him were very courteous, he said, and ... he promised ... that whenever possible, he would censor the film in future where it appeared to him to carry the taint of propaganda.'(1) Edwards was involved in the 'Bass' protest. This meant the entering of public houses and the smashing of all the stock of Bass Ale on the premises as a protest against British goods being sold.(2) He later regretted having partaken in this activity.

In the late twenties and early thirties, Waterford was a hotbed of republican and working class agitation in which Edwards played a leading role. The Unemployed Association in the city was so strong that it succeeded in having two of its members, David Nash and Thomas Purdue, elected to the city council on the platform 'Bread, Blood and Work.' For the next few years the local scene was enlivened by numerous and often boisterous marches and meetings in City Hall and in the People's Park. An example of the type of rhetoric that was used can be gained from a speech made by councillor Purdue when he said, 'If we [the unemployed] are not going to get what we want, we will leave this city like the Temple of Jerusalem-we won't leave a stone upon a stone.'(3)

The first recorded speech by Edwards was in 1932 and the context is indicative of the type of political action in which he was engaged at the time. On Sunday 4 September 1932, a public meeting of Cumann na nGaedheal, to which admission was by ticket only, was scheduled for the Large Room at City Hall. Mayor Matthew Cassin presided, the Marquis and Marchioness of Waterford were guests and Mr. Paddy McGilligan, ex-Minister for Industry and Commerce was the principal speaker. At the same time, a counter demonstration was staged on the Mall outside. The 'Soldier's Song' was sung with much enthusiasm by the gathering on the roadway, and as its strains came through one of the open windows of the Large Room, someone on the Cumann na nGaedheal platform left his place and closed the window. A number of the Mall protesters then tried to gain admittance to the Large Room. They got a little more than halfway up the stairs when they were charged by the Cumann na nGaedheal supporters and a general melee ensued. Two of the protesters were injured in the clash, Robert Walsh, Carrigeen Lane, a member of the St. Declan's Pipe Band receiving a kick in the stomach (for which he was detained in the Infirmary) and Joseph Tobin a kick in the shins. At the close of the meeting a vote of thanks to the ex Minister was proposed by Mr. John Hearne, builder.(4) His name will come up again.

On the following night, another demonstration, timed for eight o'clock, was held on the Mall, presided over by Edwards. However, the owner of the lorry that was to be used as a platform was visited at his home shortly before the meeting and threatened with dire consequences if he permitted his vehicle to be used for the purpose for which it was hired. The owner declined to proceed to the meeting venue and a second lorry had to be procured from Mr. T. Power, garage proprietor, the Quay. When this lorry arrived at the scene the meeting had already begun, with Edwards addressing the large attendance from a jarvey car. The Waterford News reported

Mr. Edwards, who spoke first in Irish, and continued in English, said the meeting that evening had been arranged in order to appeal for their support for Fianna Eireann-the only national boy organisation in Ireland that was doing its best to educate the future manhood of the country to become loyal citizens of the Irish Republic, which they would attain, and which they were bound to strive to attain (cheers). They were all agreed that it was absolutely essential now for the workers of Ireland to unite to fight the forces of reaction and British Imperialism which were so strong in the country. They could see how those reactionary forces were united against the workers. The people who were associated with the gang of traitors in the Town Hall the previous day were the bosses, the men who exploited the workers, the men who had accumulated wealth from the sweat and the blood of the workers (loud cheers). Then they had the solicitors-it was not necessary for him to make any comment about them-and the rent collectors and the landlords-the Marquis and Marchioness of Waterford. These were the reactionary forces in the country who were backing up the Cumann na nGaedheal party-the organisation that was masking under a Gaelic title, but that was really the force of British Imperialism that was driving the Gael out of the country (loud cheers) ... I forgot to mention ... the Ballybricken bullies who were associated with Mr. McGilligan and his gang in the Town Hall yesterday. The IRA has been accused by Mr. Blythe of being a thug organisation. You people of Waterford can judge for yourselves on which side are the thugs; and let me tell you that the cause of Irish independence has not been killed, and it will not be killed, by these thugs (loud cheers) ... Mr. Edwards concluded, amid loud cheering, as he had begun-in Irish.(5)

Edwards' speech is interesting for the various groups that he attacked-bosses, solicitors, rent collectors, landlords and the Ballybricken Redmondites. It is quite certain that he was a marked man after that speech-if he had not already been noted as an agitator and as one who was stirring up revolutionary ideas among the masses. Two of the people who were attacked by Edwards were the newly elected Mayor Cassin and John Hearne. The latter was the leader of the master builders federation in the city and was a prominent member of many of the city's Catholic organisations. He was, also, a personal friend of Archdeacon Byrne.

ARCHDEACON BYRNE

Archdeacon William Byrne was parish priest of Ballybricken and, therefore, the manager of Mount Sion schools where Edwards was a teacher. He was, in effect, Edwards' employer.(6) Intellectually, Byrne was a heavyweight. During the first World War, before his presidency of St. John's College, he was editor of The Catholic Record of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore and under his editorship the circulation of the Record reached the figure of six thousand copies a month.(7) While he was president of St. John's College his sermons at the Cathedral drew large congregations from every parish in the city. He was particularly keen on education and educational facilities throughout the whole diocese and he was not regarded in Waterford as a parish priest in the strict parochial sense, rather was he looked on as one whose assistance could be relied on in any movement for the spiritual or temporal advancement of the citizens. He was regularly called upon to arbitrate in industrial disputes and, although he was thought of in some quarters as a friend of the employers, his arbitrations in such disputes were generally well received. He was ever on the alert for any infiltration of Waterford workers by socialists and communists and he regarded the latter as followers of Satan.(8) He congratulated the unemployed and the Worker's Council, in a public statement, for their stance against communism, saying

The Waterford Worker's Council rightly and indignantly repudiated the pretensions of a certain trio to represent Irish workers at anti-God celebrations in Moscow. More recently, still, those who represent the vast majority of the unemployed in our city effectively nullified an attempt to introduce organised Communism amongst us.(9)

Byrne, in his crusade against communist infiltration, found a ready ally in the new bishop, Canon Kinane, who was elevated to the diocese of Waterford and Lismore in May 1933.

BISHOP KINANE(10)

Dr. Jeremiah Kinane DD, DCL, was created Bishop of Waterford & Lismore on 29 June 1933. On his arrival in Waterford, he gave a free dinner at the courthouse to five hundred poor men of the city. At his official reception in the council chamber at City Hall and in response to addresses of welcome from the Corporation, the Harbour Commissioners, the Waterford Workers Council, the De La Salle Brothers, the Waterford Branch of INTO etc., the bishop said (rather ominously for future relations with Edwards and his friends

No address has given me more pleasure and satisfaction than the address from the Workers Council. Clearly communistic propaganda has taken no effect in Waterford(11)

Bishop Kinane in his first address in the Cathedral since his consecration as bishop articulated the communist threat as being one of the major difficulties, as he perceived it, of his coming tenure as bishop.

From the political stand point the world is in a state of flux and no man can foretell what forms of government will ultimately emerge and survive. No condition of things could be more inimical to the Church's interest or more favourable to the machinations of her enemies. These enemies in their various forms are active the world over. Ireland has not been free from their influence. Communist and secret society agents especially have made us the object of their activities, but so far they have met with very little success ... From my personal experience and from what I have heard the progress made by these enemies of the Church in this great diocese has been less than in most others.(12)

Warnings about the dangers of communism and irreligion were not confined to priests. At the blessing of the colours of the Mount Sion and De La Salle scouts by Archdeacon Byrne, Mayor Cassin spoke of 'the great danger to their faith, their manhood, their womanhood and their nationality ... Irreligion and materialism were sweeping all over the world.'(13)

(1) Peter O'Connor (1966), A Soldier of Liberty, (Dublin, MSF), p. 2.
(2) Ibid, August 5, 1932
(3) Waterford News, October 21, 1932
(4) Ibid, September 9, 1932
(5) Ibid, 9 September 19
(6) Byrne was born in Knocklofty, Co. Tipperary, a few miles west of Clonmel. He was a student at Clonmel High School and later entered St. John's College to begin his ecclesiastical studies. He was ordained at Maynooth and following three years as Professor at All Hallows College, Clonliffe he returned to St John's where he became President. In 1930 he was made parish priest of Ballybricken parish, the largest in the diocese. He was later created archdeacon and finally a Domestic Prelate. He was Vicar Capitular of the diocese in the interim between the death of bishop Hackett and the elevation of Dr. Kinane as bishop.
(7) Patrick Power (1937) A Compendious History of the United Dioceses of Waterford & Lismore (Cork, Cork University Press), p. 4.
(8) Ibid, P. 295. Canon Power wrote of him that 'During 1934-35 he engaged in public controversy with communist and other subversive agents and defended Catholic Truth with great ability, Christian dignity and no little success
(9) Waterford News, 18 November 1932. This was in reference to the sending of an Irish delegation to Moscow for the fifteenth anniversary of the Russian revolution. The Unemployed Association had declared that 'they saw no reason why they should follow in the path of Trotsky, Lenin or Stalin.'
(10) Dr Kinane was a native of Gortnahulla, Upperchurch, Co. Tipperary where he was born on 15 November 1884. He was ordained at Rome on 24 April 1910. From 1911 to 1933 he was Professor of Canon Law at St Patrick's College, Maynooth. He was bishop of Waterford & Lismore from 1933 to 1942 and archbishop of Decros and coadjutor of Cashel & Emly from 1942 to 1946 when he succeeded to the archbishopric. He died on 18 February 1959.
(11) Waterford News, 30 June 1933.
(12) Ibid, 14 July 1933
(13) Ibid, 9 June 1933.

Frank Edwards POLITICAL ACTIVITIES

Edwards had joined the IRA in about 1924 but in the latter part of the decade, he had become inactive. He joined Saor Éire, the political wing of the IRA, at its foundation in 1931. The local IRA was involved in various activities such as when three men visited all the local cinemas, in August 1932, and requested the managers not to show films 'of a decidedly British type.' The manager of one city cinema admitted to a Waterford News reporter that 'as far back as two years ago he himself had noticed that the news films supplied by Pathe ... and Fox Movietone were being utilised for propaganda purposes. The men who visited him were very courteous, he said, and ... he promised ... that whenever possible, he would censor the film in future where it appeared to him to carry the taint of propaganda.'(1) Edwards was involved in the 'Bass' protest. This meant the entering of public houses and the smashing of all the stock of Bass Ale on the premises as a protest against British goods being sold.(2) He later regretted having partaken in this activity.

In the late twenties and early thirties, Waterford was a hotbed of republican and working class agitation in which Edwards played a leading role. The Unemployed Association in the city was so strong that it succeeded in having two of its members, David Nash and Thomas Purdue, elected to the city council on the platform 'Bread, Blood and Work.' For the next few years the local scene was enlivened by numerous and often boisterous marches and meetings in City Hall and in the People's Park. An example of the type of rhetoric that was used can be gained from a speech made by councillor Purdue when he said, 'If we [the unemployed] are not going to get what we want, we will leave this city like the Temple of Jerusalem-we won't leave a stone upon a stone.'(3)

The first recorded speech by Edwards was in 1932 and the context is indicative of the type of political action in which he was engaged at the time. On Sunday 4 September 1932, a public meeting of Cumann na nGaedheal, to which admission was by ticket only, was scheduled for the Large Room at City Hall. Mayor Matthew Cassin presided, the Marquis and Marchioness of Waterford were guests and Mr. Paddy McGilligan, ex-Minister for Industry and Commerce was the principal speaker. At the same time, a counter demonstration was staged on the Mall outside. The 'Soldier's Song' was sung with much enthusiasm by the gathering on the roadway, and as its strains came through one of the open windows of the Large Room, someone on the Cumann na nGaedheal platform left his place and closed the window. A number of the Mall protesters then tried to gain admittance to the Large Room. They got a little more than halfway up the stairs when they were charged by the Cumann na nGaedheal supporters and a general melee ensued. Two of the protesters were injured in the clash, Robert Walsh, Carrigeen Lane, a member of the St. Declan's Pipe Band receiving a kick in the stomach (for which he was detained in the Infirmary) and Joseph Tobin a kick in the shins. At the close of the meeting a vote of thanks to the ex Minister was proposed by Mr. John Hearne, builder.(4) His name will come up again.

On the following night, another demonstration, timed for eight o'clock, was held on the Mall, presided over by Edwards. However, the owner of the lorry that was to be used as a platform was visited at his home shortly before the meeting and threatened with dire consequences if he permitted his vehicle to be used for the purpose for which it was hired. The owner declined to proceed to the meeting venue and a second lorry had to be procured from Mr. T. Power, garage proprietor, the Quay. When this lorry arrived at the scene the meeting had already begun, with Edwards addressing the large attendance from a jarvey car. The Waterford News reported

Mr. Edwards, who spoke first in Irish, and continued in English, said the meeting that evening had been arranged in order to appeal for their support for Fianna Eireann-the only national boy organisation in Ireland that was doing its best to educate the future manhood of the country to become loyal citizens of the Irish Republic, which they would attain, and which they were bound to strive to attain (cheers). They were all agreed that it was absolutely essential now for the workers of Ireland to unite to fight the forces of reaction and British Imperialism which were so strong in the country. They could see how those reactionary forces were united against the workers. The people who were associated with the gang of traitors in the Town Hall the previous day were the bosses, the men who exploited the workers, the men who had accumulated wealth from the sweat and the blood of the workers (loud cheers). Then they had the solicitors-it was not necessary for him to make any comment about them-and the rent collectors and the landlords-the Marquis and Marchioness of Waterford. These were the reactionary forces in the country who were backing up the Cumann na nGaedheal party-the organisation that was masking under a Gaelic title, but that was really the force of British Imperialism that was driving the Gael out of the country (loud cheers) ... I forgot to mention ... the Ballybricken bullies who were associated with Mr. McGilligan and his gang in the Town Hall yesterday. The IRA has been accused by Mr. Blythe of being a thug organisation. You people of Waterford can judge for yourselves on which side are the thugs; and let me tell you that the cause of Irish independence has not been killed, and it will not be killed, by these thugs (loud cheers) ... Mr. Edwards concluded, amid loud cheering, as he had begun-in Irish.(5)

Edwards' speech is interesting for the various groups that he attacked-bosses, solicitors, rent collectors, landlords and the Ballybricken Redmondites. It is quite certain that he was a marked man after that speech-if he had not already been noted as an agitator and as one who was stirring up revolutionary ideas among the masses. Two of the people who were attacked by Edwards were the newly elected Mayor Cassin and John Hearne. The latter was the leader of the master builders federation in the city and was a prominent member of many of the city's Catholic organisations. He was, also, a personal friend of Archdeacon Byrne.

ARCHDEACON BYRNE

Archdeacon William Byrne was parish priest of Ballybricken and, therefore, the manager of Mount Sion schools where Edwards was a teacher. He was, in effect, Edwards' employer.(6) Intellectually, Byrne was a heavyweight. During the first World War, before his presidency of St. John's College, he was editor of The Catholic Record of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore and under his editorship the circulation of the Record reached the figure of six thousand copies a month.(7) While he was president of St. John's College his sermons at the Cathedral drew large congregations from every parish in the city. He was particularly keen on education and educational facilities throughout the whole diocese and he was not regarded in Waterford as a parish priest in the strict parochial sense, rather was he looked on as one whose assistance could be relied on in any movement for the spiritual or temporal advancement of the citizens. He was regularly called upon to arbitrate in industrial disputes and, although he was thought of in some quarters as a friend of the employers, his arbitrations in such disputes were generally well received. He was ever on the alert for any infiltration of Waterford workers by socialists and communists and he regarded the latter as followers of Satan.(8) He congratulated the unemployed and the Worker's Council, in a public statement, for their stance against communism, saying

The Waterford Worker's Council rightly and indignantly repudiated the pretensions of a certain trio to represent Irish workers at anti-God celebrations in Moscow. More recently, still, those who represent the vast majority of the unemployed in our city effectively nullified an attempt to introduce organised Communism amongst us.(9)

Byrne, in his crusade against communist infiltration, found a ready ally in the new bishop, Canon Kinane, who was elevated to the diocese of Waterford and Lismore in May 1933.

BISHOP KINANE(10)

Dr. Jeremiah Kinane DD, DCL, was created Bishop of Waterford & Lismore on 29 June 1933. On his arrival in Waterford, he gave a free dinner at the courthouse to five hundred poor men of the city. At his official reception in the council chamber at City Hall and in response to addresses of welcome from the Corporation, the Harbour Commissioners, the Waterford Workers Council, the De La Salle Brothers, the Waterford Branch of INTO etc., the bishop said (rather ominously for future relations with Edwards and his friends

No address has given me more pleasure and satisfaction than the address from the Workers Council. Clearly communistic propaganda has taken no effect in Waterford(11)

Bishop Kinane in his first address in the Cathedral since his consecration as bishop articulated the communist threat as being one of the major difficulties, as he perceived it, of his coming tenure as bishop.

From the political stand point the world is in a state of flux and no man can foretell what forms of government will ultimately emerge and survive. No condition of things could be more inimical to the Church's interest or more favourable to the machinations of her enemies. These enemies in their various forms are active the world over. Ireland has not been free from their influence. Communist and secret society agents especially have made us the object of their activities, but so far they have met with very little success ... From my personal experience and from what I have heard the progress made by these enemies of the Church in this great diocese has been less than in most others.(12)

Warnings about the dangers of communism and irreligion were not confined to priests. At the blessing of the colours of the Mount Sion and De La Salle scouts by Archdeacon Byrne, Mayor Cassin spoke of 'the great danger to their faith, their manhood, their womanhood and their nationality ... Irreligion and materialism were sweeping all over the world.'(13)

(1) Peter O'Connor (1966), A Soldier of Liberty, (Dublin, MSF), p. 2.
(2) Ibid, August 5, 1932
(3) Waterford News, October 21, 1932
(4) Ibid, September 9, 1932
(5) Ibid, 9 September 19
(6) Byrne was born in Knocklofty, Co. Tipperary, a few miles west of Clonmel. He was a student at Clonmel High School and later entered St. John's College to begin his ecclesiastical studies. He was ordained at Maynooth and following three years as Professor at All Hallows College, Clonliffe he returned to St John's where he became President. In 1930 he was made parish priest of Ballybricken parish, the largest in the diocese. He was later created archdeacon and finally a Domestic Prelate. He was Vicar Capitular of the diocese in the interim between the death of bishop Hackett and the elevation of Dr. Kinane as bishop.
(7) Patrick Power (1937) A Compendious History of the United Dioceses of Waterford & Lismore (Cork, Cork University Press), p. 4.
(8) Ibid, P. 295. Canon Power wrote of him that 'During 1934-35 he engaged in public controversy with communist and other subversive agents and defended Catholic Truth with great ability, Christian dignity and no little success
(9) Waterford News, 18 November 1932. This was in reference to the sending of an Irish delegation to Moscow for the fifteenth anniversary of the Russian revolution. The Unemployed Association had declared that 'they saw no reason why they should follow in the path of Trotsky, Lenin or Stalin.'
(10) Dr Kinane was a native of Gortnahulla, Upperchurch, Co. Tipperary where he was born on 15 November 1884. He was ordained at Rome on 24 April 1910. From 1911 to 1933 he was Professor of Canon Law at St Patrick's College, Maynooth. He was bishop of Waterford & Lismore from 1933 to 1942 and archbishop of Decros and coadjutor of Cashel & Emly from 1942 to 1946 when he succeeded to the archbishopric. He died on 18 February 1959.
(11) Waterford News, 30 June 1933.
(12) Ibid, 14 July 1933
(13) Ibid, 9 June 1933.

THE RED SCARE

The great fear in the thirties was that atheistic communism would sweep the world and that the very existence of Christianity was under threat. Pope Pius XI had laid down the defeat of international communism as one of the primary objectives of his pontificate and he had galvanised Catholic opinion to that end. Catholic Ireland, of course, was in the vanguard of such action. Publications appeared such as Father Edward Cahill's book Ireland's Peril and Professor James Hogan's pamphlet Could Ireland become Communist? Professor Dermot Keogh has written that 'One might be forgiven for reflecting that in the 1930s some of the more obsessional local writers on that theme [the red scare] must have believed that when Joseph Stalin woke up each morning his first thoughts turned inexorably towards the subversion of Catholic Ireland.'(1)

The Cosgrave government was not backward in using the anti-communist line and it introduced coercive legislation, the Constitution Amendment (No. 17) Act that became law on 16 October 1931. This legislation established a military tribunal for political offences, massively extended police powers and gave government the power to ban organisations. It was aimed at all dissident forces in the country such as the IRA, Saor Eire, the Communist Party etc., and was intended to stifle opposition from the left. On Sunday 18 October 1931, the Irish Catholic bishops issued a joint pastoral letter that was read out in all the country's churches describing Saor Éire as 'frankly communistic'. The pastoral declared Saor Eire and the IRA 'sinful and irreligious' and pronounced that no Catholic could lawfully be a member of them.(2) On 20 October 1931 the military tribunal was established, twelve organisations were banned, and arrests, raids and searches were the order of the day. Newspapers such as An Phoblacht and Workers Voice were raided, repeatedly, until they were forced out of business. IRA men and those on the left of politics went into hiding or on the run. In the general election campaign of 1932, the government, in an attempt to counter the Fianna Fail challenge, played the 'red' card on a platform based on law and order and the communist/subversive threat.(3) During the Civil War all the leaders of the IRA had been excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Most of the bishops who had agreed with that ban were still in office in 1932 and were enthusiastic supporters of the Cosgrave government. Among the higher echelons of government and society the leaders of Fianna Fáil were regarded with extreme suspicion, but Mr. De Valera and his party had been working assiduously since 1927 to allay those fears and to re-assure the elites that the party could be relied upon, if and when it took power. Mr. De Valera had convinced Cardinal MacRory, at a private meeting, that the Fianna Fáil party was committed, totally, to the bishop's pastoral call for solutions to the country's social and economic problems that were in accordance with the traditions of Catholic Ireland.

CATHOLIC ACTION

In 1891, Pope Leo XIII in the encyclical Rerum Novarum (Of New Things), which dealt with the condition of the working classes, was the first pope to speak against the abuses of capitalism. Social teaching was further elaborated by Pius XI in his encyclical Quadragesimo Anno (In the Fortieth Year).(4) In this encyclical, issued on 15 May 1931 the Pope recommended the setting up of social study groups. The clergy were urged to promote such groups among workers, youth and the employers, the better to study social issues in a Catholic context and therefore to bring decision making down to the local level. In a direct response, Rev. Canon John Kelleher delivered a lecture entitled Reconstruction of the Social Order on the principles laid down in the Papal Encyclical.

Owing to social injustices the very existence of the Christian religion was widely menaced. Capitalism was approaching a deadlock brought about by its own selfish abuses ... A vigorous practical Christianity could survive even under the most corrupt Capitalist system, but not under the Communism which threatened to supersede it ... The great aim of social legislation should be to re-establish vocational groups through which employers and workers would be united in one union with common aims and common interests.(5)

Catholic Action was a major recommendation of the 1931 encyclical. By Catholic Action, the Pope hoped that the laity might become lay Apostles, soldiers of Christ, standing side-by-side with the clergy, although always subject to the authority of the Hierarchy. In January 1933, Mr. Dan Foley, as President of the Waterford and District Worker's Council, delivered a major speech at its annual meeting

The time is propitious. A young Government, with sympathies towards the welfare of the masses, is considering plans to combat unemployment, and one to improve the prosperity of our people ... There is a possibility of a re-modelling of the present financial system in the interest of the many instead of the few. The great question of ownership may be examined in the light of the Pope's Encyclical, and equality of opportunity may then be nearer the reach of all ... This, fellow delegates, means a social revolution of the better kind, and one in which we should all play our part ... In keeping with the dignity of the Council our share in that revolution should be to act as guide for the workers in this district in such a manner as to broaden their outlook. We must get them to take a general survey of the whole economic structure, and not confine their thoughts to mere questions of wages and working conditions. As President of the Council, I would strongly recommend the Catholic workers to interest themselves in the Catholic Action movement and join the study groups.(6) On the conclusion of the President's address there was just one dissenting voice- Edwards stood up and disagreed with some aspects of it, 'especially where the speaker had said that the Government sympathised with the masses.'(7) It was clear that if a social revolution were to happen it would be a conservative one, controlled by the Catholic Church.

Turbulence was widespread among the working classes in the city. There were strikes, marches and meetings, although the workers were careful to assure the employers and the Church that whilst they were striving for workers' rights the struggle was not tainted by communism-and that the workers remained good Catholics. There was a large meeting of the unemployed workers in the People's Park at which a committee was appointed to press for the right to work. The chairman of the new association declared that there was no communistic element attached to the association and Mr. D. Nash explained that they were non-political and non- sectarian.(8)

In February 1933, a Catholic study movement, known as the St. Thomas Aquinas Study Circle, had been initiated in the city, presided over by Archdeacon Byrne. In an address to the Circle the Provincial of the Dominican Order, Fr. Finbarr Ryan, explaining the need for Catholic study, told the packed audience that it was A lay action to be carried on by lay people, by persons in every state and rank of society. It was work to be carried out, not by separate individuals but by organised bodies, and such organised bodies could lay claim to the title of representing Catholic Action only when they were in immediate connection with the Church and under the direction of the Hierarchy.(9)

A hearty vote of thanks to the speaker was proposed by Mr. Liam Raftis who said 'as far as the menace of Communism was concerned, they would uphold the motto of the city, Urbs Intacta Manet.' Mr. Raftis was supported by Mr. Dan Foley President Waterford Worker's Council and by Rev. Brother Flannery, Superior Mount Sion and the proposal was adopted by acclamation.(10)

RESPONSE OF THE WATERFORD LEFT

On the other side of the political spectrum, Peter O'Connor had formed a Workers Study Club where the members, including Edwards, studied the writings of leading socialist figures such as Marx and, especially, James Connolly. Edwards recalled I had got the writings of Marx and Lenin by this time ... When I went to Dublin for the Saor Éire meeting, I called down to Connolly House, in Great Strand Street, the Communist Party headquarters, where I met Johnny Nolan. I bought a lot of books from him. At that time we held packed discussion groups every Sunday night to which the public were invited.(11)

Some of the members were also members of the Irish Revolutionary Workers Group. In 1933, this group disbanded and out of its ashes came the (re-formed) Communist Party of Ireland. A group of young men in the city, including Edwards and Peter O'Connor, had been dissatisfied for some time with the leadership of the IRA, particularly with that organisation's emphasis on military rather than political action. O'Connor was a reader of the Irish Workers Voice, the paper of the Irish Revolutionary Workers Group, and he asked that an organiser be sent from the Dublin headquarters to organise the unemployed workers in Waterford. The organiser who arrived was Seán Murray, later to become the first secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland. His arrival in Waterford moved public agitation onto an altogether higher level and confrontation between the employers and the workers (employed and unemployed) was common. Strikes were common in the city at that time. The Waterford News reported, on 4 November 1932, that the teachers had met to voice their opposition to a threatened pay cut and in December 1932, the road-workers in the Asphalt Company went on strike. In January 1933 all the men of the Plasterer's Society struck. The plasterers involved were all employees of John Hearne, and this was when Edwards first came into conflict with the local Catholic Hierarchy. John Hearne, a close personal friend of Archdeacon Byrne, asked Byrne to mediate in the strike. Edwards said of Hearne that he was 'constantly in and out of the presbytery.'(12)

(1) Dermot Keogh (1983) De Valera, the Catholic Church and the 'Red Scare' 1931-32 in De Valera and his Times, ed J. P. O'Carroll and John A. Murphy, (Cork, Cork University Press), p. 134. (2) Dónal ÓDrisceoil (2001) Peadar O'Donnell, (Cork, Cork University Press), p. 68. 25 Ibid, p. 70. (3) Ibid, P. 70 (4) The present writer attended Mount Sion in the 1940's and 1950's and an abiding memory is the daily half hour of Christian Doctrine. The Christian Brothers followed the guidelines drawn up by the Irish Hierarchy in 1919 with its emphasis, in years one to three, on the study of the Gospels, Church history, grace and the sacraments. This was followed in years four to six by a detailed course in Economics (from a Christian standpoint), Christian apologetics and Catholic doctrine and, most memorably, the teachings of the two great social encyclicals. Whilst researching this article, and as an experiment, I questioned several secondary school pupils if they knew the meaning of the word Encyclical. None of them had even heard the word. (5) Waterford News, 7 April 1933. (6) Ibid, 16 January 1933. (7) Ibid, 16 January 1933. (8) Ibid, 21 October 1932. (9) Ibid, 24 February 1933. (10) Ibid (11) MacEoin, Survivors, p. 7. 34 (12) Ibid, Survivors, p. 8

THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS

At an IRA convention in March 1934, a motion was proposed to establish a Republican Congress. This was intended to be an umbrella group covering republicans, trade unionists, small farmers and people on the left of Fianna Fáil. When this motion was voted down, a group broke with the IRA and decided to have a meeting of the Congress in September 1934. Edwards was among the first to leave the IRA and he joined the Republican Congress with the likes of Peadar O'Donnell, George Gilmore, Frank Ryan and Peter O'Connor.

In Waterford, members of the Congress were very active and one of their great successes was the exposure of the slum landlords in the city and the terrible living conditions in places like Little Michael Street, New Street, Brown's Lane and Kearney's Court (off Patrick Street). Edwards had now found his true avocation, that of a polemicist, with his contributions to the Congress newspaper (also called the Republican Congress). From the beginning of the paper in May 1934, reports from Waterford appeared in almost every issue, usually on the front page, with headlines such as SLAVERY IN WATERFORD (2 June 1934); SNOBBISH WATERFORD TOWN CLERK (21 July 1934); SLUM DWELLERS OF WATERFORD/CONGRESS WORKERS ATTACK WARRENS (28 July 1934); WORKERS CAPTURE STREETS OF WATERFORD (4 August 1934); SCABS CHASED BY STRIKERS (1 September 1934); FIERCE CLASHES BETWEEN STRIKERS AND POLICE (8 September 1934). Edwards wrote those reports from information supplied by fellow Congress members. He believed in a policy of 'naming and shaming' and his reports were full of colourful language. He nicknamed one local businessman 'Mattie the Rat' and wrote that 'At present he decorates the city Council ... He is also sometimes held up to the workers of Waterford and especially to those he is depriving of a Christian living as a model Christian. The Lord deliver us.'(1)

Edwards believed that all his troubles with the Church started with the exposure of the slum landlords. He wrote that Monsignor Byrne (he was created a Monsignor in October 1933) was a trustee of some slum property, although Edwards was unaware of it at the time, and that this was the cause of Byrne's animus towards him.(2) Byrne was, however, attacked by name and even called a liar. The following appeared in the issue of Republican Congress dated 18 August 1934 under the heading Editorial Notes (written by Frank Ryan).

Right Rev. Mgr Byrne, Waterford P.P., is a strong upholder of Imperialist-Capitalism. He makes a habit of invoking religion in politics. His latest effort was to ban the Builder's strike on the grounds that a strike 'involves serious risks to higher interests, to the sacred interests of justice and charity,' etc., etc. He trots out the lie that he will be 'very sorry if the workers put themselves in a position in which they cannot have public approval.'

It is high time that unwarranted interferences of Mgr Byrne be checked. Mgr Byrne is talking for the bosses. He is on the side of the bosses. In his opinion 10½d. an hour (when they can get it) is good enough for 'common people.' The Mgr does not know what hunger and want mean; he has never experienced either. The workers of Waterford save him from hunger and want. Mgr Byrne is a priest. Let him cease to be an Imperialist mouth-piece.'

Prior to the Republican Congress Convention, that took place on the 29 and 30 September 1934, in Rathmines Town Hall, Brother Flannery had warned Edwards that his attendance at the convention would lead to his dismissal. This was the third time that Edwards had been warned by his co-managers. In 1932, after Edwards had spoken from an IRA platform, Monsignor Byrn

sent for me and spent three hours pleading with me to leave the IRA 'for the sake of my soul!' When he saw that no words of his could prevent my soul from going to the devil, he dropped the pose of Mentor and spoke to me as a Boss. He said that if pressure were brought to bear on him as Co-Manager of the school, 'he would be very reluctant to consent to my dismissal.' About a year later he repeated the threat. Similar threats, though not so openly expressed, were made by Bro. Flannery, Superior of Mount Sion ... [He] took quite a different line. 'A school is like a shop. And you know that the man who keeps a shop cannot offend his customers by publicly expressing any opinion on controversial subjects. In the same way a teacher must be careful not to offend the parents of the children.[3]

Edwards, however, was committed to his course and he attended the Convention where he made two speeches-one on internal organisation and the other on the Irish language.

NOTICE OF DISMISSAL

On his return to Mount Sion he was again summoned to the Superior's office (on 2 October 1934) and was asked if he were the Mr. Edwards who was reported as having attended and spoken at the Republican Congress held in Dublin on 30 September 1934. Edwards answered in the affirmative and he was then ordered to cease teaching catechism to the Confirmation class, pending a review. On 15 October 1934, he was served with three months notice of dismissal. Edwards, who was financial secretary of the INTO branch, brought the dismissal notice to the attention of the INTO executive. The Irish School Weekly, the journal of the INTO, recorded on 10 November 1934, that representatives were deputed 'to deal with a case of threatened dismissal in the Waterford area.'(4) There was some disquiet, locally, about the threatened dismissal and the school's co-managers, Brother Flannery and Monsignor Byrne, wrote to the local press, each explaining his involvement in the issuing of notice

Sir, As an unjustifiable attack has been made on the revered Parish Priest of Ballybricken in reference to the termination of a teacher's appointment in the Christian Brother's School, Mount Sion, I desire to make it very clear that responsibility for serving the notice of the termination of the said teacher's employment is entirely mine.

Yours faithfully 12/12/'34
S. J. R. FLANNERY
Dear Sir, Rev. Brother Flannery has sent me a copy of a letter which he is sending you for publication. What he states in his letter is true-I would add even chivalrously so. He must, however, permit me to state that he took me into consultation on the matter and that I approved of his decision. Yours faithfully,

12/12/ 34 W. BYRNE, P. P.

Edwards replied

Sir, In reply to the letters which appeared in your issue of the 12th inst., re my threatened dismissal, I wish to state that I have made no attack upon Mgr. Byrne, and that if such an attack has been made, I am in no way responsible.

I do not know who is responsible for my dismissal, and the letters of the Joint Managers do not make the matters clearer. What I do know is, that I am being dismissed unjustly. I was of the opinion that a teacher could only be dismissed on one of three grounds, namely, inefficiency, immorality or irreligion. No charge has been made against me under any of these heads, and no such charge can be made with justification.

Yours sincerely,
13/12/'34 F. EDWARDS.(5)

The first salvos of the war had now been fired and over the following three weeks the city was in uproar. A public meeting in support of Edwards was mooted, but was postponed at the request of the INTO. The local INTO Branch Committee sent a resolution to its executive committee asserting that a 'very serious principle' was involved in the case and requesting the Executive to ensure 'an amicable settlement.' On 21 December 1934, this committee heard a submission from Edwards in person. The executive committee resolved to seek reasons for the proposed dismissal and to send a deputation to meet the bishop of Waterford.(6) The INTO president and general secretary met bishop Kinane on 4 January 1935 and the bishop showed them a document that he had prepared asking Edwards to sign an undertaking, which would be made public, to dissociate himself from the Republican Congress and not join any similar movement in the future. He told them that the notice of dismissal would be withdrawn if Edwards were prepared to sign. Subsequent to this meeting the INTO representatives met the Mayor and the chairman of the Worker's Council, both of whom had backed Edwards, and told them that they would advise Edwards to accept the bishop's proposal. Attitudes had hardened and become polarised and as the new year approached it was clear that some desperate measures were needed to break the deadlock.

INTERVIEW WITH THE BISHOP

Rumours abounded in the city that the bishop was about to give a reason, after a delay of almost three months, for the proposed dismissal of Edwards. This reason was to be in the form of a pastoral letter condemning the Republican Congress, the IRA and, in fact, all republicans who had not repented for their opposition to the 1922 Treaty. On Saturday 5 January 1935, the day after the INTO had seen the bishop, an interview took place between the bishop, Frank Ryan (the editor of Republican Congress) and local schoolteacher Seamus Malone (teacher of Irish at Newtown School). The following are extracts (relating to the Edwards case) from that interview as written by Frank Ryan and published in Republican Congress.

Bishop Kinane received Malone and myself immediately on arrival at the Cathedral. Our interview lasted over an hour. I set down here extracts from the notes taken by each of us. We do not claim that the conversation is reported verbatim ... [but] we emphasise that the substance of the statements are correctly reported by us. As arranged by us, before the interview, our questions fall under certain headings, aimed at the elicitation of the views of the bishop(7)

After prolonged questioning of the bishop concerning his position with regard to the Pastoral Ban of 1922, whether the bishops condemned any imperialist organisations and what the bishop's views were on the 'Blueshirts', Malone asked;

Q: Supposing, for arguments sake, that your Lordship's condemnation of the Congress is right. Edwards could not have been aware of it, was not made aware of it, in fact, until this week. Is it then not exceedingly harsh treatment to victimise him for an offence of which he could not have been aware?

A: Mr. Edwards should have known from the pronouncement of his P.P. Monsignor Byrne that membership of the Congress is contrary to Catholic teaching.

Q: Is Mgr Byrne, therefore, also entitled to decide their faith and morals for the people of Waterford?

A: He undoubtedly is for his own parishioners ...

Q: Is there not a grave danger of abuse of this authority?

A: I feel sure he would not abuse his authority.

Q: Mgr Byrne is regarded by the majority of his parishioners as a bitter Imperialist. Is it not unfortunate that he was the priest on whom Edwards was so dependent for advice on such questions?

A: I consider Mgr Byrne an excellent type of Irishman.

Q: Mgr Byrne sent advice to Edwards, through Mrs. Edwards and Miss Edwards, advice of a political character?

A: I believe that is so.

Q: You are aware that the Mgr attacked Miss Edwards for selling Republican emblems near the Church and tried to hunt her away, while at the same time he allowed a seller of Imperialist emblems to remain. Would you consider that a good introduction for friendly advice?

A: The Mgr admits to me that he committed an error of judgment on that occasion and has expressed regret.

Q: He has not expressed regret to Miss Edwards. Is not his liability to error, and his failure to undo the injustice he did to Miss Edwards proof that he is an unreliable teacher for Mr. Edwards?

A: You must not speak thus of Mgr Byrne.

Q: The late Dr. Nulty(8) of Meath, who condemned the Plan of Campaign, and the late Dr. O'Doherty in his hatred of Republicanism were looked upon as tyrants. Yet both these bishops declared their willingness to forgive and forget ... Why be a greater tyrant than they? Why condemn Edwards for a crime which you have not hitherto pronounced a crime?

A: Far from acting as a tyrant, I am prepared to have him reinstated, or at least transferred if he signs an undertaking that he will not associate with certain organisations.

Q: Are the Blueshirts among these organisations?

A: The Republican Congress is the only organisation mentioned.

Q: You are depriving the man of his position, refusing him a reference, and thus making it impossible for him to gain a livelihood, and you are doing all that because he attended the Republican Congress, months before you declared your disapproval of the Congress?

At this stage there was a heated scene during which I lost my temper ... For charity's sake I will not report my utterances. One point I did make clear; no denial can disprove it: The Pastoral was invoked three months after, to cover up the victimisation of Edwards, and to check the opposition to that victimisation.

Malone continued his questions:

Q: Are you aware that the signing of such political tests as you demand of Edwards is looked upon with such disfavour in Ireland that men have faced the firing squad rather than sign undertakings less objectionable than this? [The bishop stated that the document presented to Edwards was not a political test. It concerned faith and morals only. He said he would agree to Edwards' signing the document privately].

Repeated requests drew from His Lordship the explanation that he was refusing to allow Frank Edwards to get another school because 'it would be on his conscience to see a teacher holding such views' in charge of young people. He admitted that there was no evidence, no charge even, that Edwards presented his personal views directly, or indirectly, at school. Edwards was an efficient teacher in every way. His Lordship alleged that a few Ballybricken residents had objected to Edwards being employed as a teacher. Malone replied: Edwards' slanderers, the Imperialists who for three years have been engineering his dismissal do not hail from Ballybricken. The residents of Ballybricken were amongst the first to offer sympathy and support to Edwards. They are hard fighters politically, but I believe they would be not so uncharitable as to act as the Joint managers of Mt Sion Schools have acted.(9)

(1) Republican Congress, July 28, 1934
[2] MacEoin, Survivors, P. 8
(3) Republican Congress, April 27, 1935
(4) An Múinteoir, P. 11
(5) Waterford Star, December 14, 1934
(6) An Múinteoir, p12
(7) Republican Congress, January 12, 1935
(8) Thomas Nulty (1818-98) was ordained 1846. An early supporter of Parnell and the Land League his denunciation of Parnell after the split in the Irish Party was as forthright as his earlier support had been. He issued a pastoral letter during the general election of 1892 following which the result in Meath South was annulled on the grounds of clerical intimidation.
(9) Republican Congress, January 12, 1935

THE BISHOP'S PASTORAL

On the following day, Sunday 6 January 1935, the bishop issued his pastoral. A large force of Gárdaí was present inside the Cathedral, and outside, while the bishop was speaking. Numbers of Gárdaí also attended at the other city churches where the pastoral statement was also read. These precautions were indicative of the highly charged atmosphere in the city concerning the case. The Cathedral was crowded when the bishop rose to speak

My dearly beloved-The event which is the occasion of my addressing you today, is the termination of a teacher's appointment in the Christian Brothers' School, Mount Sion. I understand that there is a certain amount of sympathy for this teacher in the city, that resolutions in his favour have been passed by certain bodies, and that there is an agitation on foot to secure his continuance in his position. These facts have brought home to me the necessity for an authoritative statement from me on this matter, and for authoritative teaching on certain other matters connected with it ... Bishops are the successors of the Apostles and, as such, are divinely constituted authoritative teachers in faith and morals ... From the fact that a Bishop is the authoritative teacher of faith and morals in his diocese, it follows that his teaching is binding, and that his subjects must obey it, even under pain of mortal sin, whenever the matter involved is notable ... Any failure in obedience in grave matter is a mortal sin ... I may now proceed to the main purpose of my discourse ... I am speaking to you mainly as your divinely constituted leader in faith and morals, and I intend whatever teaching my address contains to have all the authority and binding force which can be derived from the sacred office which I hold …(1)

It was at this point in the address that disturbances began in various parts of the Cathedral. Women, men and some children were seen to rise from their seats and it was thought that some violent demonstration was planned. The demonstration, however, was peaceful and took the form of a walkout. The demonstrators arrived at the aisles, genuflected to the Blessed Sacrament, turned their backs on the bishop and marched out of the Cathedral. The bishop continued.

… I have given the matter careful study and much thought ... The Superior of the Christian Brothers' School, Mount Sion, consulted me before issuing the notice terminating the services of the teacher in question. He informed me that this teacher, despite the public warning-twice issued-of his parish priest and co-manager of his school, attended the Republican Congress and took an active part in its discussions-this fact was published in the press and is admitted by the teacher himself. Now, the principles and aims of the Republican Congress movement are opposed to the teaching of the Church; its principles are Socialist and Communistic: it aims at setting up a socialist Republic, evidently on the Russian model ... and one of its weapons for achieving this is class hatred and class warfare. Evidently, one who belongs to a movement of this kind is unfit to be a teacher of Catholic children. The most appropriate course in the circumstances would have been instant dismissal. The spirit of leniency and the desire to recall the teacher from the error of his ways, however, prevailed ... During the past week having invited the teacher to come before me ... I explained to him the opposition between the principles of Republican Congress movement and the teaching of the Church, and I told him of his own grave obligations in the matter. I then asked him to sign an undertaking, which would be made public, to dissociate himself from this movement and not join any similar movement in the future. Whilst I urged him to sign the undertaking principally because of his duty as a Catholic and for the welfare of his immortal soul, I at the same time promised that, if he did sign it, I should recommend him for employment to the Christian Brothers and I gave him an assurance that my recommendation would be accepted. He refused to sign the undertaking.

It is hardly necessary for me to state that it would be sinful to try to prevent the action of the manager of the Christian Brothers' School, Mount Sion, from becoming effective, or to cause him or anybody else inconvenience on account of it ... Now, when the good Catholics of this city are aware of the vital religious issues at stake, I am confident that whatever little agitation has been afoot will immediately cease.(2)

AFTERMATH OF THE PASTORAL

It was clear that the Pastoral had only inflamed an already tense situation. The notice of dismissal was due to expire in nine days. A meeting of support to demand the withdrawal of the notice of dismissal had been called for the following Saturday 12 January 1935. This meeting had the support of the local INTO branch, two Cumann of Fianna Fail (P.H. Pearse and Gracedieu), the IRA, the Republican Congress Branch, the Gaelic League, Gasra an Fháinne, Waterford Worker's Council, the Irish Citizen's Army and various trades union branches. On 11 January 1935, Mgr Byrne wrote a letter to the press cautioning people to stay away from the meeting 'which is to be held in flagrant opposition to the authoritative teaching and ruling of the Bishop of the Diocese ... The Bishop has spoken; the Church had spoken; and the opposition to the Church is opposition to Jesus Christ.'(3) Despite the Monsignor's warning and driving rain, which fell continuously for the two hour duration of the meeting, a large crowd numbering several hundreds turned out in Broad Street to hear the speakers, Peadar O'Donnell, Frank Ryan and Seamus Malone, secretary of the Edwards Defence Committee, under the chairmanship of Jimmy O'Connor, Poleberry. A motion from Malone was passed calling for a strike of pupils on the following Tuesday.(4)

The support for Edwards appeared to be very strong, and widespread. The mayor had assured Frank Ryan that ninety per cent of the people were behind Edwards but, in truth, the city was deeply divided.(5) On Saturday 12 January 1935, (the day of the Broad Street meeting) the Waterford Pig Buyers' Association passed unanimously a resolution 'That we ... pledge ourselves as faithful Catholics to give our unqualified support in every way possible to our beloved Bishop, Most Rev. Dr Kinane and his clergy; and we further desire to express our wholehearted approval of his Pastoral read in all the city churches on Sunday, the 6th inst.'(6) On the following day, both Dr Kinane and Monsignor Byrne were given a tremendous reception when they attended the annual tea party at St. Joseph's Boys Club. When they entered the Club, the assembled boys cheered for several minutes and then sang the hymn, Faith of our Fathers. Messages of unqualified support for the bishop poured in to the newspapers from many sources including the Legion of Mary, the Mount Sion Sodality, the United Ireland Party (John Redmond Branch), the Sodality of Mary, the Aquinas Study Circle and Fine Gael, Waterford Central Branch.

The Dockers' Society of the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union (ATGWU) held a special meeting on 14 January 1935 at the union rooms, O'Connell street. The meeting passed, unanimously, an extraordinary expression of loyalty and support. I quote it in full

We, the members of the Dockers' Society assure our beloved and revered Bishop, Most Rev. Dr Kinane that, conscious of our duty as Catholics, we accept and will loyally obey his authoritative teaching given us in the Cathedral on the 6th inst. Mindful of the warning conveyed in that solemn pronouncement, we can assure him that we shall do all in our power to keep our Union free from the virus of Communism and Socialism. We will endeavour to see that our Union shall be guided by the principles laid down by Pope Leo XIII and the present Holy Father rather than by the anti-Christian maxims of Communist and Socialist agitators. We wish this expression of our Loyalty and obedience to be some reparation to his Lordship for the unfilial attitude of an insignificant section of his flock in the city.

Signed, Matthew McCloskey, Chairman.(7)

Over the following week, many more groups filed similar expressions of loyalty. On Monday morning, however, about half-a-dozen boys carrying banners with inscriptions such as

WE WANT OUR TEACHER BACK WE ARE ON STRIKE WE STAND FOR JUSTICE STRIKE ON HERE

appeared outside Mount Sion. They paraded in front of the schools and urged other pupils to join them. About ten pupils responded and the demonstrators then marched through the principal streets of the city cheering loudly for Edwards. They halted for a meeting on Ballybricken and two of the strikers declared that they were not going back to school until the teacher was reinstated and victimisation was stopped. A few Civic Guards remained on duty outside the schools until after the luncheon interval, by which time the demonstration had withdrawn, several of the boys returning to their homes. The Irish Times reported 'speculation is rife as to the number of boys, if any, who will take part in tomorrow's one-day strike.'(8)

THE STRIKE

The events of Tuesday, the day Edwards' dismissal notice expired, were distilled neatly in the Waterford News headlines describing the day's events.

SCHOOL AS USUAL EXCITING INCIDENT CLASH IN BARRACK STREET MEN TAKEN INTO CUSTODY STRIKE PICKET SCUFFLE STATEMENT BY MOUNT SION SUPERIOR

Some dozen boys, aged from eleven to fourteen, who left school on Monday, again made appearance on the streets on Tuesday morning, and remained for some time outside the gates as the scholars were entering classes and endeavoured to persuade them to join them. The scholars, many of whom were brought to the school gates by parents or relatives, remained loyal to the teachers, and entered on their daily tasks with indifference to either pleas or threats. One youngster amongst the strikers tied the school gates with a short length of rope, which was, however, quickly burst asunder by another boy going into school. A woman who called non-striking boys 'cowards' was booed and hissed by the crowd who had assembled to watch events.

As the day advanced, matters took a more serious turn. About midday a number of boy strikers formed a picket in front of the school buildings, carrying banners and shouting: 'We are on strike.' By this time some hundreds of adults, including many women, had assembled on the sidewalks and roadway in Barrack Street. Shouts were raised of 'Up the Pope' and 'Up the Catholics.' Following this there was an unexpected stir amongst the crowd, and a menacing situation developed which, eventually necessitated the drawing of batons and a charge was made by the Gárdaí.

In a subsequent melee more than one youngster was seen to fall and one member of the youthful picket alleged that he had received a blow of a baton ... the crowd quickly dispersed, but before they had done so Gárdaí took into custody three young men and one boy whom they removed to barracks nearby. Shortly afterwards Mr. Seamus Malone, Secretary of Frank Edwards' Defence Committee, was seen to enter the Barracks, following which the boy was released by the Gárdaí.(9)

The Irish Times reported

Brother Flannery issued a statement stressing the normality of the schools' day and referred to pupil attendance as being excellent. He said that Mr. Edwards was in attendance all day and that the three months notice expired that afternoon. As the closing hour arrived, people began assembling again at the school gates. 'A double cordon of Guards ... was drawn up and through this avenue of police the pupils left the schools for their homes. As Mr. Frank Edwards appeared there were cheers and counter-cheers and from the neighbourhood of the schools the crowd moved down Barrack Street and congregated in front of his home [no. 143] before they again dispersed quietly. Brief addresses were delivered by Mr. Frank Edwards and his mother.'(10)

It was after these statements that an event happened that is regarded as a shocking act of vindictiveness by the bishop. Peter O'Connor referred to it in his book.

Frank's mother did not escape persecution either. Bobby [Aileen] Edwards, Frank's wife, in an interview with Rosemary Cullen, shortly before her death in 1989, records the following: Mrs. Edwards [Frank's mother] made a statement to the effect that 'in spite of the injustice done, the Edwards' will remain good Catholics.' A priest was sent to her by the Bishop ... to say that unless she publicly withdrew that statement she would be passed [refused Holy Communion] at the altar rails. To a woman like Mrs. Edwards who was a devout Catholic this was a most hurtful and cruel thing to say. The injustice of [it] ... is beyond comprehension.(11)

One of my interviewees corroborated the above story and told me that it affected Mrs. Edwards deeply.(12)

Some weeks later, three men appeared in court on a charge related to the pickets. These were, Patrick Walsh, John Lucas and John Hunt [This is the Jackie Hunt, later to become one of the ten Waterford men, including Edwards, who went to Spain to fight against the fascists]. The State Solicitor told the three defendants that if they would give an undertaking to keep the peace he would not ask for any bonds or bails and he would withdraw the charges. All but Hunt agreed and he was put back for trial. At the Hunt trial, some six weeks later, Inspector Tobin elaborated on the reported incidents that happened outside the school. He said that some boys paraded outside Mount Sion School with placards. At that time there were about three hundred people assembled in the street. A number of men carrying placards, led by Hunt, appeared and proceeded to picket the school. A Gárda approached Hunt and warned him that the actions of the picketers might lead to a breach of the peace but Hunt paid no attention to him. There was some rival shouting and the Gárdaí threw a cordon across the street. A section of the crowd rushed towards the pickets and the Gárdaí charged with batons drawn. Lucas dashed towards the pickets flashing a short stick and he came to grips with Sergeant Duignan. It was then that the Gárdaí arrested the three men. The Justice dismissed the case for lack of evidence.(13)

(1) Waterford News, January 11, 1935
(2) Waterford News, January 11, 1935
(3) Ibid, January 12, 1935
(4) Irish Times, January 15, 1935
(5) An Múinteoir, p12
(6) Waterford News, January 18, 1935
(7) Waterford News, January 11, 1935
(8) Irish Times, January 15, 1935
(9) Waterford News, January 18, 1935
(10) Irish Times, January 16, 1935
(11) A soldier Of Liberty, p4
(12) Mrs. Edwards died of acute nephritis on October 20, 1936, aged sixty-two years. The old comrades of her son Jack did not forget her in death. They, and members of the IRA, bore her coffin, draped in the tricolour, to Ballybricken Church escorted by members of Cumann na mBan. At her burial in Ballygunner, a short funeral oration was delivered by Séamus Malone, Frank's old comrade and friend.
(13) Waterford News, February 1, 1935

AFTERMATH OF EDWARDS' DISMISSAL

After Edwards' dismissal, Waterford Corporation held a special meeting and agreed, unanimously, a resolution of loyalty to the bishop. It was quickly followed by similar resolutions from the Ursuline Convent, Ballybricken Church outdoor collectors, De La Salle Pioneers and Past Pupil's Union, Mercy Convent Children of Mary, Mount Sion Sodality, Waterford Legion of Mary, etc., etc.(1) Commandant Cronin of the League of Youth (The Blueshirts) also issued a statement on the issue and called on all its members to 'uphold Christian principles, and to oppose strenuously and uproot Communism.'(2) However, in an extraordinary development the Dungarvan Urban District Council, by eight votes to six, supported its chairman in refusing to accept a resolution pledging allegiance to Most Rev. Dr. Kinane, Bishop of Waterford. The dismissal of Mr. Edwards, the Waterford teacher, was mentioned during the discussion, a member remarking that he believed Mr. Edwards had been victimised.(3)

The Waterford News ceased reporting on the case and considered it closed. In its issue of 18 January 1935 under the by-line 'Local & District Gossip' it printed

Although we regret that, so early in his career, Mr. Frank Edwards, a popular young man of brilliant attainments, has been faced with the ordeal known to the Dublin press as 'the Waterford controversy,' we should like to say that the position is such that one particular misunderstanding should be removed from the mind of anybody who happens to have misinterpreted this aspect of the points at issue. This is the aspect as to the respect in which His Lordship is held by his whole flock. We should like to say that His Lordship the Bishop has no more loyal and faithful body in his diocese than those who are supporters of the Government. They acknowledge in the fullest possible manner his jurisdiction over them, and accept his teaching on faith and morals unreservedly.

We have received from Mr. Frank Ryan, with a request for insertion in the 'News', a copy of his letter published on Wednesday in the 'Dublin Press.' Owing to the pronouncement made by the Bishop, addressed to all under his jurisdiction in this diocese, and binding on all Catholics, we are precluded from publishing Mr. Ryan's comments. We think that the Bishop's pastoral letter should be received in the proper spirit by all. It was clearly intended to be the final pronouncement in this controversy.(4)

The controversy had now become a national one and a war of words exploded in the national press. The Irish Times was to the forefront and published daily reports from its Waterford reporter.

On Saturday 26 January 1935, a private meeting of Catholic teachers in Waterford took place. A resolution was passed expressing loyalty and unswerving obedience to the Bishop

as guide and teacher in matters of faith and morals. When Mr. Frank Edwards, the dismissed teacher, endeavoured to address the meeting from the platform there were repeated interruptions, and for several minutes pandemonium reigned. After the resolution had been adopted, Mr. Edwards, who was accompanied by members of the Republican Congress group, left the Town Hall.(5)

The following day saw a massive show of support for Edwards when eight hundred members of the IRA, marching four deep and accompanied by two pipe bands, took part in a torchlight parade and two thousand people subsequently attended a republican meeting on the Mall. Contingents of the IRA were present from Waterford city and county and from the adjoining counties of Wexford, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Cork. A large force of Civic Guards was on duty but the meeting passed off without incident.(6)

This meeting went ahead despite a warning from the bishop read at all Masses that morning but the most extraordinary fact about the meeting was that Mr. Patrick Kinane, the bishop's cousin, was billed as one of the speakers. In the event, the meeting chairman read a letter from Mr. Kinane in which the latter apologised for his inability to attend and stated that he stood firmly for the IRA and its policy, as outlined and recently expounded by the Army Council. The principal speaker was Maurice Twomey, Chief of Staff, IRA. Tom Barry, the West Cork republican leader, also spoke.

The public controversy petered out eventually and the Gárdaí and detectives were withdrawn from Mount Sion School. They had patrolled the school and grounds for the previous three months. Edwards was given another opportunity to argue his case, this time in Dublin. On 2 February 1935, the INTO executive met and the following is the minute of the section of that meeting which concerned itself with the Edwards dismissal:

A report was submitted of the action taken since the last meeting in connection with this case, including an account of the interview with the Bishop of Waterford. The Secretary reported that all the members of the Executive had approved of the action taken by the President and himself in advising Mr. Edwards to sign the document presented to him by the Bishop. A very long discussion took place in regard to the case, but no action was taken.(7)

APPEAL TO INTO CONGRESS

The committee considered the case closed but Edwards had one final chance to speak. At the INTO Congress, Edwards, as a delegate, was allowed to speak on the committee's report concerning his dismissal. He was the only speaker and he was greeted with some applause as he rose.

I would like to say that in coming to you, I am not coming before you as a pathetic case looking for sympathy and trying to convert you to my political views. I will state my side of the case … I have been dismissed for my political opinions.

At this point a delegate interjected; 'You should be thrown out. You have no political opinions.' This delegate was later escorted from the hall after a third interruption.

I have been dismissed because of my political opinions expressed outside the school. The Bishop admitted I never introduced political opinions inside my schools ... therefore my dismissal raises an issue of whether a teacher has the right to hold political opinions.(8)

He went on to tell of his attacks on local slum landlords, and of Brother Flannery's warning to him. He said that at that time, although his support for the Republican Congress was known, he was given the Confirmation class. 'Why did they do that if they thought I was teaching anti-Catholic doctrine?' he asked, alleging that the Bishop's condemnation of the Republican Congress was done to provide a reason for his sacking. At the conclusion of his speech, Edwards said

I am very sincere in appealing for a backing not merely because I have lost my job, but it is more than that. Liberty to hold political opinions outside the school. This is at stake. I would ask you to reconsider the decision of the C.E.C. [committee] advising me to surrender that right to hold political opinions. It is not on the side of the manager but on the side of the teacher that the C.E.C. should come in, in such a case. If I did sign that document, I would feel that I had betrayed not only my own convictions but the INTO in general. I thank you very much for the hearing you have given me.(9)

The paragraph in the committee report outlining the steps taken by the executive was then put to Congress, and agreed to, only one delegate dissenting.

After the dismissal, Edwards went to Dublin where he helped Frank Ryan edit the Republican Congress. He got a month's work in a school in Sligo and then got a job digging ditches in Dublin for a pipe-laying company. On the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, he went to Spain where he fought with great courage against Franco's fascists. On his return to Ireland, he eventually secured a teaching post in Mount Zion Jewish School in Rathgar, where he taught until his retirement. He had completed his journey from Mount Sion to Mount Zion. He died on 7 June 1983 and his remains were cremated at Glasnevin. In a graveside oration Peadar O'Donnell said

I think Frank Edwards will become a legend and his legend and his name will live on long after most of us here are forgotten.(10)

(1) Ibid, January 18, 1935
(2) Irish Times, January 18, 1935
(3) Ibid, January 21, 1935
(4) Waterford News, January 18, 1935
(5) Ibid, January 28, 1935
(6) Waterford News, January 28, 1935
(7) An Múinteoir, P.13
(8) An Múinteoir, P.13
(9) Ibid, P. 13
(10) Manus O'Riordan (1983) Portrait of an Irish Anti-fascist.



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