John McCullagh July 16, 2019
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  • My song for you this evening, it’s not to make you sad
    Nor for adding to the sorrows of this troubled northern land,
    But lately I’ve been thinking and it just won’t leave my mind
    I’ll tell you of two friends one time who were both good friends of mine.

    Allan Bell from Benagh, he lived just across the fields,
    A great man for the music and the dancing and the reels.
    O’Malley came from South Armagh to court young Alice fair,
    And we’d often meet on the Ryan Road and the laughter filled the air.

    There were roses, roses, there were roses, and the tears of the people ran together.

    Though Allan, he was Protestant, and Sean was Catholic born,
    It never made a difference for the friendship,  it was strong.
    And sometimes in the evening when we heard the sound of drums
    We’d  say, “It won’t divide us. We always will be one.”

    For the ground our fathers plowed in, the soil, it is the same,
    And the places where we say our prayers have just got different names.
    We talked about the friends who died, and we hoped there’d be no more.
    It’s little then we realized the tragedy in store.

    It was on a Sunday morning when the awful news came round.
    Another killing has been done just outside Newry Town.
    We knew that Allan danced up there, we knew he liked the band.
    When we heard that he was dead we just could not understand.

    We gathered at the graveside on that cold and rainy day,
    And the minster he closed his eyes and prayed for no revenge.
    All of us who knew him from along the Ryan Road,
    We bowed our heads and said a prayer for the resting of his soul.

    Now fear, it filled the countryside, there was fear in every home
    When a car of death came prowling round the lonely Ryan Road.
    A Catholic would be killed tonight to even up the score.
    “Oh, Christ! It’s young O’Malley that they’ve taken from the door.”

    “Allan was my friend,” he cried. He begged them with his fear,
    But centuries of hatred have ears that cannot hear.
    An eye for an eye was all that filled their mind 
  • And another eye for another eye till everyone is blind.

    So my song for you this evening, it’s not to make you sad
    Nor for adding to the sorrows of our troubled northern land,
    But lately I’ve been thinking and it just won’t leave my mind.
    I’ll tell you of two friends one time who were both good friends of mine.

    I don’t know where the moral is or where this song should end,
    But I wondered just how many wars are fought between good friends.
    And those who give the orders are not the ones to die.
    It’s Bell and O’Malley and the likes of you and I. ..
  • There were roses, roses, there were roses, and the tears of the people ran together.

This poignant Sands’ song has become a perennial favourite – with many hearers accepting the simplicity of the equation. Simple – and true in some respects, it fails to tell the whole story.  Indeed that may never be told – as evidenced by the duplicity and evasion of both candidates for next Prime Minister of the UK, over their obsession with absolving their ‘security forces’ of all wrongdoing during our Troubles. 

But for the efforts of pioneering researchers, we’d never know the truth.  All efforts are made to suppress the work of such people, especially in the UK and the occupied counties. 

Therefore I urge you to watch Unquiet Graves to be screened on RTE1 on Monday week 29 July at 9.35 pm. 

This ‘correction’ is posted at 22.50 on July 29 2019. Tonight’s programme “Unquiet Graves” has been postponed for ‘technical’ reasons. I suspect political reasons. If you are determined to see it, you can, at a cost of £3.50 view it via the following link. https://www.journeyman.tv/film/7506/unquiet-graves Good luck!

Director Sean Murray’s documentary of the story of the Glenanne Gang is a must-see.

More than 120 of our friends and neighbours in Armagh and Tyrone were brutally slaughtered by this combination of RUC and UDR men, British soldiers and loyalist paramilitaries.  Among newly aired allegations is one that British intelligence tried to get the UVF to attack a Catholic Primary School in Co Armagh, in supposed retaliation for the Kingsmills massacre.

The airing of this documentary will not result in closure, but it is a step on the way.

Boris will see it as the hounding of ‘our selfless heroes’.

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