"Which of you had the twins?"

From 'The Gates Flew Open' by Peadar O'Donnell (Jonathan Cape, 1932).

Paudeen O'Keeffe was a restless little man with a fine pair of eyes and a waspish tongue. He came to us first in civils and was rather accepted as part of the queer trappings in the early jail days. I don't remember him figuring in anything in 'D' wing and indeed I didn't give him any special attention in the early days in 'C'. I first noticed him the night we decided to parade all our men for count. We had got fed up keeping two men hidden for it meant considerable inconvenience. Paudeen that night came in smartly as usual- he was now wearing the uniform of a captain in the Free State Army; he counted quickly, jotted down the number and hung on his stride; two men too many was nothing serious and he probably felt he had just counted an extra file. But he went back and counted again, this time more slowly; a third time he counted, saying the numbers out loud and then he wheeled around and faced Cooney. They were rather a contrast, for Paudeen O'Keeffe is about five feet seven inches and Andy Cooney must be six foot one. 'Jasus, Cooney', Paudeen explained, 'Which of you had the twins?'

Maud Gonne and the Sinn Fein women leaders

Between July 14th 1918 and March 15th 1919, the Home Office examined about 25,000 letters sent to and from the Irish Internees in UK jails.

A report on my grandfather's correspondence stated that it had been largely concerned with the return of Mrs. Clarke to Dublin from Holloway Jail, and the refusal to permit Maud Gonne MacBride to attend the banquet given to celebrate the occasion. The women leaders of the Sinn Fein Party were apparently doing their utmost to oust Mme. MacBride from amongst them.

From Mrs O'Keeffe, Dublin, 20.2.1919. Extract:- "The Black Lady did not get beyond the Hall at the Gresham Hotel where she was turned down by- Nancy Wyse Power- Can you imagine the scene? I believe it was superb. The tall one is making a fight to the finish at present for recognition. She realizes it is now or never".

From Mrs Jennie Wyse Power, Dublin, 25.2.1919. Extract:- "Connie (Markievicz) and her fellow lodger (Mrs Clarke) had enough of the large lady when they were all in London lodgings (Holloway Jail) together, and orders now from that corner of the world are to cold shoulder her".

Letters from my grandmother and her sister-in-law, Jennie Wyse Power to my grandfather show great dislike and jealousy of Mme Gonne MacBride (The lady in black; the large lady; the tall one) to whom frequent reference is made.

For more...... read my next blog post.