Prison Notes

Newry Journal was delighted recently to have been offered a few reminiscences of veteran Republican Dan Moore from his early days of resistance to British Rule. 

In the late 50s and early 60s I was in awe of this man and the Republican family to which he belonged – and my father with me. Any Republican personage or organ such as The United Irishman was considered highly suspicious by the authorities and kept under close watch. The Republican paper was actually banned and my father purchased his copy hidden within the folds of the Belfast Telegraph. That was dad’s little act of defiance. We would worry lest the house be raided and this subversive literature would lead to dad’s arrest! The open sale of this (commendable) newspaper was among the most minor of the ‘transgressions’ of the Moore family.

In addition every Easter Sunday Dan Moore chose to head the Republican Parade to the Republican Cemetery plot, carrying the banned tricolour. It is hard to believe now that just the display of the national flag was considered a crime worthy of the incarceration of the bearer. In punishment for this open defiance Dan was hauled off immediately afterwards and imprisoned for a period of months. I could not believe that a man could have such firm convictions that he would fritter away his freedom like this.

But I should allow Dan – who now is a social worker in Dublin combating the evils of drug and substance addiction – to speak for himself.


‘There were lighter moments too back in my time in the ‘Juveniles’ in 1957.

The authorities were convinced that a bit of military discipline was enough to correct the misguided views and attitudes of the miscreant youths in their care. Joe Leslie, Moody and the other screws in charge of us were ex-marines.  In good old-fashioned British war-film tradition they interpreted this as the need for regular ‘square-bashing’. It was supposed to frighten us and turn us into ‘good citizens’.

I really enjoyed this square-bashing and threw myself enthusiastically into these exercises. I felt I was learning something every morning. As a young volunteer of just eighteen years who hadn’t yet had any drill training on the outside I was convinced I was doing something useful!

Arms training we had had, but not drill. Priorities, I suppose!

After about two months Joe Leslie approached me and asked why I was so patently enjoying the drill exercises. I was young and lacking in subtlety. I answered immediately and with transparent honesty that if we were to do this on the outside, it would be sufficient reason – if one were needed – to imprison us.

Sadly, that was the end of my square-bashing!’


……. more later ……..



Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.