Bob Monteith Summer School – The Forgotten Stories


Thursday 2nd to Saturday 4th June

Taking place in Druids Glen Golf Club, the Bob Monteith Summer School aims to explore the lesser-known and forgotten stories of the rising. Whether through ambivalence, ambiguity or expedience, scale or significance, the historical recollections of the period have overlooked or demoted some stories in their importance and relevance in the intervening years.  It is the undertaking of the Bob Monteith Summer School to attempt to highlight some of the important stories that do not get much attention. Though there are the grand events we are all familiar with, being commemorated nationwide, the lesser-known owns are as intriguing and can also shine a light on contemporary wisdom to reveal much about this seminal period in Irish History.

The themes available to the Summer school are myriad but we will endeavour to provide some significant discussions as a contribution in the much greater debate this period of reflection and scrutiny provides. Through invited guests and submitted papers we aim to give concise presentations, debates and discussions on some important topics.

Thursday, 2nd June                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Ben Fagan7:30 Ben Fagan (Wicklow Historian, Writer and Photographer)
Wicklow Men Fighting for Ireland’s Freedom

Ben Fagan is a writer and researcher on the history of the revolutionary period in Ireland. As a photographer he has captured many moments on his camera over the past years events which form part of the chronically in pictures of the centenary events titled  “Stories From Behind the Camera: Filming the Irish Revolution 1916-22” Ben has been an active member of the Kilcoole Heritage Group and Wicklow Historical Society.

Adrienne8:00 Adrienne Brown (Dance Ireland Founding Member and Dance Choreographer)
The Seal of Love and Death

The Seal of Love and Death is a companion paper to the 15 minute dance film I See His Blood, choreographed by Adrienne Brown and directed by Eoghan O’Reilly. This paper explores ideas surrounding the implacability and drama of death; also exhibited in medieval danses macabres, which bring focus to unseen forces and man’s need to make sense of death in life. ‘I See His Blood’ will be shown at the ‘Volta’ open air cinema in the Luisne Convent Gardens on Friday night, 3rd of               June. Dubliner Dr Adrienne Brown is a founding member of, Dance Ireland. She has choreographed over 40 original works,   across Europe and has collaborated with several composers in her work: Paul Hayes; JJ Vernon; Michael Seaver; Mel  Mercier; Trevor Knight and Siobhan Cleary.

8:45: Michael Kenny  (Keeper Emeritus, National Museum Of Ireland – Art & Ind.)                                                                                                                                           Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times:  Some Forgotten Heroes of 1916

Mary O'Sull9.45 Mary Marmion (Women’s Studies Masters, UCD)                                                                                                            Housemaids, Hussies and Women in High Places; Remembering Forgotten Women. The centenary commemoration of 1916 Rebellion had been notable in its highlighting the significant role of women. How did some women become radicalised Nationalists, regardless of their religion or class and challenge the prevailing ethos of respectability and women’s’ private domestic sphere?   Were there such women in Wicklow? What was the impact of the Rebellion on the ordinary women of the area?

The historian Joe Lee defended the absence of women in his work Ireland 1912-85  on the grounds that seeking to be politically correct in including women might be to place emphases on a situation that simply did not exist.  The surge of documentary evidence which had emanated from scholarly investigation blows this contention out of the air.  This paper draw on this scholarly work, local history, Bureau of Military History statements and Census data to explore the position of women  in the years leading up to and including the 1916 Rebellion with particular regard for women in the North Wicklow area.  Mary Marmion holds a M.A from the School of Social Justice in U.C.D. Her areas of interest include disability, equality and women’s studies. She an active member of the Women’s Group  in Kilcoole where she lives.

Friday, 3rd June

Peter Murtagh4:00 Peter Murtagh (Irish Time Journalist)
Softly March Away: Greystones and the Great War

Peter is a resident of Greystones interested in local history.  In 2014, he researched the 22 names on St Patrick’s Church of Ireland, Greystones First World War memorial producing many poignant stories about the men who died, on the Western Front and at Gallipoli. They were an interesting lot, the 22 men whose names are on a First World War memorial in Greystones, Co Wicklow. They include an international rugby player, an opera singer, a garden labourer, a shop assistant, a cross-country athlete, students of medicine and law, a journalist, a rancher and some professional soldiers. Their connections to Greystones were mixed: some were tenuous, others stronger and some real and permanent. And some had interesting overlaps between that history and the events around the 1916 Rising.

Peter Murtagh is a Reporter with The Irish Times. He has previously worked for the Sunday Times in London and the Guardian returning to Ireland to work for the Sunday Tribune. He received the award for Outstanding Work in Journalism in Ireland in 1983 and was Reporter of The Year in the United Kingdom in 1986. He has authored and co-author several books and he has edited 12 editions of The Irish Times Book of The Year.

Philip Orr4:30 Philip Orr (Northern Ireland Writer, Teacher and Community Activist)
The Battle of the Somme and the Ulster Protestant imagination

From Atlas of the Irish Revolution, published by Cork University Press this autumn, Philip seeks to offer an understanding of the role of British military history in troubled and marginalized Loyalist working class communities today.

Philip Orr is a writer, teacher and community activist in Northern Ireland, working on public history in the context of a divided society, especially with relation to the outreach work of local museums and also the cultural welfare of Loyalist communities. His publications on the Irish experience of the First World War include The Road to the Somme – men of the Ulster Division tell their story (Belfast, 2008) and Field of Bones- an Irish division at Gallipoli (Dublin, 2006).

5:00 James Curry (Irish Labour History Society)
Ernest Kavanagh: Liberty Hall’s Artist of the Revolution

Ernest Kavanagh, born Dublin, 1884, was a political cartoonist who signed his cartoons “E.K.” Beginning in 1912 he drew cartoons for the James Larkin-edited Irish Worker, often alongside satirical poems by his sister Maeve Cavanagh MacDowell. He came into his own as a cartoonist during the 1913 Dublin Lockout, savagely attacking William Martin Murphy and the Dublin Metropolitan Police, and later, under James Connolly’s editorship, attacked John Redmond’s policy of recruiting Irishmen to fight for Britain in the First World War. He also drew pro-women’s suffrage cartoons for The Irish Citizen, and contributed to Fianna and Irish Freedom.

James Curry is a final year doctoral researcher at the Moore Institute, NUI Galway, and the University of Minnesota Duluth’s 2016 Alworth Institute International Fellow. Since 2013 he has been a committee member of the Irish Labour History Society, and a founding committee member of the Moore Institute’s Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour and Class.

Saturday 4th June

Greg Meakin10:30 Gregori Meakin (Sociology graduate and local historian)
Monteith’s Legacy; Consigned to History or Contemporary Voice

Gregori Meakin examines choices made about how History is written. Monteith’s book ‘Casement’s Last Adventure’ sought to inform the historical record of Casement’s achievements. With ambivalence towards Casement’s legacy, Monteith gives an account questions aspects the accepted and preferred versions of events but which as remained substantially overlooked in Casement literature.

Gregori holds a degree in Sociology and Linguistics and has started a PhD on the Irish Family, Society, and the State. He takes an interdisciplinary approach to examining history within linguistic and sociological frameworks. He grew up next to the commemorative plaque to the landing of guns at Kilcoole in 1914 which fed an interest in local history. Beginning research on the story of the Gunrunning in 2013, this led an exploration of Roger Casement and his role in events at Kilcoole.  In turn, this year’s centenary led to a deeper reading into local man Robert Monteith and his involvement.  Robert served with Casement in Germany and returned with him to Ireland landing at Banna Strand from the U-boat, U-19.

Kevin11:30 Kevin Keogh (Grandson of Michael Keogh)
Michael Keogh: With Casement’s Irish Brigade

Kevin, looks back at his grandfather’s time in the Brigade and events afterwards and reflects on how those who served in Germany were badly treated in the aftermath of WW1 both historically and in life.

At the heart of Michael Keogh’s life was his devotion to Roger Casement, whom he first met in New York in 1911, and with whom he worked closely in Germany during the years 1914 to 1916 as part of Casement’s project to recruit an Irish Brigade from Irish soldiers who had joined the British army to fight in the First World War, and who subsequently found themselves prisoners of war in German camps. Casement’s intention was to return to Ireland with this brigade to fight for Irish freedom.

Michael Keogh wrote a detailed account of those years in Germany with Roger Casement but did not get around to publishing it.  When Michael Keogh was suffering his last illness in 1964, he was taken to hospital and took the papers containing the main account of his time in Germany with him but there they disappeared. Distraught at the loss of these precious documents, it may have hastened his death; he died around two days after they went missing.

Just over 40 years later, in 2005, Kevin Keogh’s son, also called Kevin, was doing some research into his family’s history with a view to compiling a family tree.  To his amazement he discovered that the paper had been donated to University College Dublin Archives (UCDA)

Helen O Carroll12:00 Helen O’Carroll (Curator, Kerry Museum, Tralee)
Ardfert Witnesses at the Trial of Roger Casement

The story of Casement’s arrival in Kerry is well known around Ireland, how he came ashore on Banna Strand on a German ship that was carrying up to 20,000 rifles that were to be distributed amongst the Irish rebels. He was then captured at McKenna’s fort and subsequently tried and hung for treason on London. Helen O’Carroll will give a lecture discussing how the lives of the five witnesses, John McCarthy, Mary Gorman, Martin Collins, Michael Hussey and Maurice Moriarty, who were called to give evidence at his trial in London, changed irrevocably by their chance sighting of Casement during his 31 hours in Kerry.

Helen O’Carroll is Curator of the Kerry County Museum, and has spent the last year preparing for the Centenary events around Tralee and curated a major exhibition containing items associated with Casement, Monteith and events at Banna Stand and extensive exhibits detailing events.  The centrepiece of the display is the boat that provenance shows Casement, Monteith and Bailey arrived at Banna Strand on loan from the Imperial War Museum in London. The exhibition was officially opened by Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D. Higgins on the 28th April this year.

There is no charge to the Summer School.  However all donations are welcome at the door. 

Further Information:

Na Fianna Éireann, who were no more than boys, fulfilled many roles in events leading to and during the rising; members of this organisation were killed or injured. But so too were other children who were unconnected to events. Caught in the crossfire of Irish and British forces in addition bystander men and women, 40 children were killed during the rising; lives expended in actions brought about by military confrontation between two sides.

It was not just combatant men who were involved or killed in events around 1916. The role of Cumann na mBan did not stop as supporting the men as messengers or nurses but were also fighting, and sometimes leading the fight.

Protestant men and women were as passionate and committed to the ‘cause’ as any other ‘Irish’ person and, as demonstrated by our book ‘Forgotten History: The Kilcoole Gunrunning’ the transportation of guns was an entirely ‘Protestant’ affair that has been overlooked. Some of these such as Erskine Childers and Thomas Myles immediately signed up to British Forces; without ambivalence they were able to care about two conflicts at the same time.

Yet the legacy of the Irish men who did sign up and fight in the ‘Great War’, and the complexities of this in itself, had a lasting impact on its participant who experienced not just the horror of war, but who returned to a new Ireland where their service to empire was less than appreciated. Often hidden away, their ‘memory’ was left languishing in history and only recently has come to be examined in detail.

But it was not just those who signed up to British forces who were overlooked. Local man, Captain Robert Monteith, who was born and raised just behind the walls of what in now Druids Glen, has become a significant character in our own local history. How did this local man, who has served in the Boer War with the British army, come to be a significant member of the Irish Volunteers inaugurated at the Rotunda Rink in 1913? More significantly, how did he come to be in Germany as commander of the Irish Brigade as part of Roger Casement’s mission to Germany? And what is the legacy of his own and Casement’s on foot of his landing at Banna Strand in Kerry from a German U-boat on the weekend of the Easter Rising? Monteith escaped capture where Casement was arrested and subsequently executed and, after 8 months on the run, he escaped to the USA. Here he spent much of his life explaining his part in events and defending his commander, Casement, using his thoughts and his writings including his book ‘Casements Last Adventure’ and has substantially remained overlooked by historians. Other members of the brigade have tried to have their accounts brought to light; Keogh’s ‘With Casements Irish Brigade’ and Kavanagh’s ‘The Betrayal of Casement and the Irish Brigade’, both remain substantially unnoticed. The brigade itself remains an event that is often ridiculed yet remains under explored.


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