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Tony Gregory… Beneath the Starry Plough… January 8, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

Some thoughts about the removal and funeral of Tony Gregory yesterday and the previous evening. It was a strange and sad event for those who arrived outside his house in the constituency on Tuesday night. The coffin was wrapped in a Starry Flag. I overheard one person commenting that it as the ‘wrong colour’… and that it should have been green. A piper led the hearse and the coffin carried by four different sets of supporters with a large crowd made up of other supporters following behind. I doubt Tony would have agreed with the injunction that the first group carrying the coffin should ‘start on the right foot lads’.

Amongst those outside his house were Nicky Kelly. A short walk from there to the bridge at the top of the road where a much larger crowd including former TDs Joe Higgins, Catherine Murphy and Paddy McHugh met them and then continued on to the local church. For those who might have thought that a little strange, Tony being an avowed atheist, this was as a mark of respect for his late mother.

Cold. Very very cold indeed.

It certainly was an eclectic mix and a very large crowd (notable too was the significant Garda presence). So large that some of us were left outside by the time we reached the church. A huge contingent of Fianna Fáil and other party TDs and Cllr’s told its own story, including one Bertie Ahern beaming to all as he made his way in and out of the church on a crutch. And the sight of one local dignitary pumping hands as people came out at the end of the service told another.

Yesterday morning the Funeral Mass was an impressive event. And also one where some elements of the facade that often conceals the reality of such events, at least for those who would use them, slipped. There was genuine anger amongst his supporters, and others, at the way in which the previous evening had turned into a free for all for politicians attending. Hence during a fine and evocative speech by Cllr. Maureen O’Sullivan a very very pointed jibe:

“So how would Tony have felt about certain politicians and their lavish tributes and praise over the last few days,” she asked at the ceremony in St Agatha’s Church.

“And those people speaking profusely about him in death, but during his life, when he came looking for help, never as much put a leaflet in a letterbox [and for Tony that was not an inconsiderable show of support].

“His funeral is not a photo opportunity

RTÉ, perhaps to spare some peoples blushes, sought to portray the final statement on it’s 6 One news yesterday as referring to the burial, but in truth it was about the entirety of the proceedings. It was a somewhat chastened group of politicians, including the Taoiseach and sundry other worthies, who departed the church afterwards.

And Maureen was both affectionate and realistic in her description of Tony, mentioning just how much of a perfectionist he was and ‘the Look’, familiar to any who had dealings with him, an expression that blended disbelief, irritation and something near-pity at the inability of others to see reality. But the profile of the man with all his faults and virtues came through strongly.

Impossible too not to mention his brother Noel’s and partner Annette Dolan’s contributions, all the more heartfelt for being so restrained at a time of near unimaginable pressure for them and those close to him. And also that of Fr. Peter McVerry who noted the failings of society, and more pointedly, of the Catholic Church in ignoring the plight of those it purported to be representative and shepherd of.

But this wasn’t without political connotations, how could it be? Noel asked us to remember what Tony surely would have, the on-going situation in Gaza (Tony was in Israel and Palestine only some years back), and Peter McVerry noted that:

God help whoever fill his seat in the coming by-election — they’re on a hiding to nothing.

And again and again the reiteration of the idea, familiar to those of us who have been even reasonably close to him and his, that his approach was rooted in pragmatic achievable goals. Or as Maureen put it, that socialist theorists were not enough in this society, it needed activism in communities working on behalf of those communities.

The final farewell was held at Balgriffin graveyard where his coffin, still draped in the Starry Plough was brought to the graveside by the same piper. Noel gave a few very memorable words. And following that Joe Higgins gave a graveside oration, once more filled with real affection but not ducking the fact that there were significant differences of opinion between him and Tony or that the work continues.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam, or whatever is the secular equivalent…

And that was that. What more is there to say?


1. Ghandi of North Strand - January 8, 2009

Having attended the removal on tuesday night I am in agreement with Worldstorm, and the comments made by Maureen O’ Sullivan were honest and correct and well worth making. Whilst its no secret that Tony and I did not get on, I would still respect his position and my attendance was in that regard and also in recognition of his work over many years much of it unknown to most and also representing WP.

Having travelled on the same political oddessy as Tony, though at a later stage I am now back with WP, which is now more open to working with others on the left. On other threads there has been comment in relation to WP hatred of him, I find this incorrect, clearly there was political differances with him, coincidently we had a seminar on saturday last reflecting on the life of Cathal Goulding, as the night worn on their was discussion about Tony’s time in the army involving some of those in the DB with him, which are naturally not for discussion on this forum, there was no animosity towards him and a genuine sadness on his passing particularly as he had suffered a long battle against cancer, as had Cathal Goulding and also my own father.

In respect to the Starry Plough being the wrong colour, the original flag was Green with a gold trim and had the plough traced out in yellow, it being the flag of the Irish Citizen Army. The flag adopted by most of the left including WP and the IRSP and seen as the flag of socialism in Ireland is the blue one with the stars in the shape of the plough, but not linked up.

Dublin Central will hugely miss him. Ar Dheis de go raibh a anam


2. Joe - January 8, 2009

Thanks for that WBS. I’m still shook by this. I guess we should all fall back on the old “Don’t mourn for me, organise!” line. Certainly Tony’s example has inspired me to get some way active again.

I’m struck by your statement that Tony was an atheist. Sam Smyth in one of his pieces in the Indo about “my friend Tony Gregory” said something along the lines of “Tony was a devout Catholic who practiced his faith in a very private manner”. Hmmm.


3. Pete - January 8, 2009

Gandhi – I agree with you to an extent the WP would seem to have softened there approach to Tony in recent years, as he had to them. but it was still an unfortunate reminder of the schisms of the Left that many who were close to Tony during his time in the Republican Movement that they felt unable to go to his funeral due to the strong dislike they feel towards former comrades who would also have been in attendance.
On the issue of the Starry Plough – I know that a correctly coloured Green Connolly Starry plough was provided for use at the funeral however the later (c.1934) version was used. I took this as a decision by those close to Tony to use the version some see as more avowedly socialist or the one most regularly used by the IRSP. I personally prefer to see the original Connolly version used, as it was brought back to use by the IRA in the 1960s.
On Maureen O’Sullivan’s comments they were spot on and I felt a certain relieve when I heard them and could see from the my position in the church politicians such as Brain Cowen and McAleese wince. That thing Ahern was in recent days attempting to use Tony’s death as another part of his celebrity gangster lifestyle – hopefully this will now end.
The mention of Seamus Costello was also interesting – and again I think had some of the establishment wincing


4. sonofstan - January 8, 2009

Noel asked us to remember what Tony surely would have, the on-going situation in Gaza

As I mentioned to you (WBS) yesterday, I ended up with Micheál Martin standing beside me through the funeral mass, although I didn’t realise who it was until the sign of peace when he turned and offered his hand to shake – definitely an odd moment…..

Anyway, later on, when Noel made his comment re: Gaza (can’t remember the exact words, but as well as asking us to remember the suffering, the wording included a strong condemnation of Israel), there was widespread applause – and I couldn’t help but notice our minister for Foreign Affairs joining in, and with gusto……..


5. Ghandi of North Strand - January 8, 2009

Pete – members of WP and retired members of OIRA were present as were members of IRSP and retired INLA members, but as is their nature stayed in the background not wishing to impinge or highjack the proceedings. They were there as a mark of respect and of sympathy, as is usual at funerals of comrades or former comrades all sections of the Republican Left mingle some attending in a representative capacity others in a personal one.

I agree that the mention of Costello was interesting, WP in Dublin Central is currently pursuing a series of public discussions relating to both the past and the present and particularly how the past can influence the present and the future.The next one is scheduled for Wednesday 21st January and the topic is the 1st Dail, this will be held in the Annesley House Pub on North Strand, we intend to hold a series of discussions one of which will deal with the different splits as most of the present generation know little of these matters.

Hopfully teh establishment have a lot more wincing to do as things move on.


6. Jim Monaghan - January 8, 2009

I hope the discussions in the WP will not include repeating allegations that former associates and friends such as Gerry Foley( at one time close to Garland) were CIA agents.I used to be active in PANA and one of the good things it did was get a level of cooperation between say the IRSP, Sinn Fein etc. who had to say the elast history.
I missed the funereal, the mother of a friend was murdered in Newry on Xmass day.
I , sometimes, describe myself in an Irish context as a 1972 Stick. Republican Socialist without militarism


7. Jim Monaghan - January 8, 2009

I meant cooperation between Sinn Fein, WP and IRSP amongst others. The meeting were friendly dispite some of the awful history.
Perhaps the whole left especially that that derives from the Republican movement needs a thorough discussion on the way forward not necessarily clinging to every part of their heritage.The thing would be to distinguish between what is baggage and what is relevant.


8. Ghandi of North Strand - January 8, 2009

The meetings will not end up as slagging matches (hopefully) but rather as part of an attempt to lead the left and to push Republican Socialist policies to the fore. These are public meetins and all are invited to attend. We have invited representatives of FF, FG, Lab and PSF to debate the 1st Dail, hopefully this will be an informative experience for the audience.

In relation to future meetings if people want to participate then feel free to contact me and discuss.


9. Ghandi of North Strand - January 8, 2009

Following on from your point Jim in relation to PANA, the Lisbon campaign was also a success through CAEC, with most of the left co-operating to an agreed objective even though all groups ran their own campaigns as well, success was achieved.


10. yourcousin - January 8, 2009

At the risk of turning the personal into something political, does Gregory’s death mean that a by-election will be called? And if so does this mean that possibly Mary Lou might get a seat in this ward after all?


11. WorldbyStorm - January 8, 2009

Yes and perhaps yes yourcousin.

Re the flag… to be honest I prefer the Starry Plough on a blue field, being IIRC the Republican Congress version. I know the gold stars on a green field is more that of the ICA, but I admire the heritage of it and I guess see it as a bit more ‘socialist’. That said either is good.

Very glad to hear Ghandhi and Jim that constructive moves are afoot. If I can say, it’s not that the WP hated him, another line I used to hear was that ‘he used to be one of ours’ said almost with a sense of ownership and puzzlement that he could have gone over to the other side – so to speak.

Very nice to meet you yesterday SoS if sadly at a very bad moment in the life of the Left.


12. Leveller on the Liffey - January 8, 2009

I’m glad Maureen O’Sullivan gave it to the bandwagon-jumpers who suddenly found out they were best buddies with Tony Gregory after he’d died.

Being of the Left but a party persuasion in his constituency, I wouldn’t dream of claiming to be close enough to be a friend although I had dealings with Tony and I certainly didn’t do anything for him much other than vote for him but I respected him for what he stood for and his tenacity.

At least we were both on the same side of the political fence, unlike the pretentious high commands of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.


13. Ben Kingsley of East Wall - January 8, 2009

I don’t wish to begin a slanging match on this occasion and on a thread dedicated to Tony Gregory’s funeral. But it is simply incorrect to say that Tony softened his view on the WP; he never forgave its leaders for their involvement in the murder of Seamus Costello. He would laugh to see WP members talking about ‘the army’; having heard the WP deny the existence of any such organisation for the last 20 years.


14. WorldbyStorm - January 8, 2009

Leveller, funnily enough years ago when I told him I’d been in the WP, and a bit apprehensive of the response, he said pretty much exactly what you say in your final paragraph, ‘at least we’re on the same side…’… although that was a global rather than a local statement, I doubt if I’d been fresh from the WP he’d have been as charitable, but I thought, given the history he lived through and the personal relationships he saw extinguished, that was pretty sound of him.

And this links into Ben’s comment. I don’t doubt you’re right that Tony detested the leadership even now. Well, same leadership really, so that would hardly change.

A vote’s a vote, always has been. Infinitely more again than certain creatures at the church the other night ever gave him.


15. Tim Von Bondie - January 8, 2009

Re Mary Lou I see she is replacing Pat Doherty as vice-president of Sinn Fein. A sign of confidence in her from the leadership then. No certainty who would win a by-election though, given the huge personal vote that Ahern has for a start.


16. Maman Poulet » Naming it - January 8, 2009

[…] and have read with interest his posts on Tony and a honest obituary and in particular events around the funeral. Lots more in there including Tony’s atheism which was not what I read in other […]


17. Pete - January 8, 2009

I can assure they had softened, not much but they had softened. Tony recently had to accept not all accepted wisdom about the Costello killing was exact. But anyway seeing as the election will only be a months away, very likely to be run the same day as the Euros, the Left must begin considering how they can hold his seat – there is one criticism that was correct about Tony he done very little if anything to oversee an intergenerational hand over of the Independent Left support he had carved out in Dublin Central. The anvil must be struck while it is hot and it would be very good if while the waht Tony achieved is on people’s minds there is some thought given to bringing whose intrested in at least given a fair go of getting an independent Left rep elected together to hammer out a strategy.


18. Mark P - January 9, 2009

I’m just in from a Socialist Party public meeting about the economic crisis. Joe Higgins, who was chairing the meeting, opened proceedings by paying tribute to Tony Gregory.

He pointed out that there were a number of issues which the Socialist Party disagreed with him on, but he concentrated on Tony’s record as a representative of working class people and as a socialist. He also talked about some of the issues he’d worked with him on in the Dáil and more generally.


19. dubcentre - January 9, 2009

Sad to hear Tony Gregory is gone, an honourable man. In the best possible way he was one of life’s constants growing up in the 80s and 90s in the area and on the news. In a house where politicians are generally held in contempt there was a lot of respect for Tony Gregory.

Sickened to see certain people getting mileage out of his death when they had nothing but contempt for him in life.



20. Wednesday - January 9, 2009

On Maureen O’Sullivan’s comments they were spot on and I felt a certain relieve when I heard them and could see from the my position in the church politicians such as Brain Cowen and McAleese wince.

I was standing right next to Bertie. That was the only point at which he didn’t join in the applause.

Although his applause for the Gaza comment could be charitably described as “weak”.)


21. WorldbyStorm - January 9, 2009

What a place to have to stand Wednesday… Still Maureen’s comments sure sorted the wheat from the chaff…


22. Joe - January 9, 2009

Tony was nothing if not practical. So here’s my tuppence worth on the by-election. It won’t happen for as long as Cowen can avoid it – how long is that? FF have a stong organisation in Dublin Central but an opposition victory must be favourite in the current climate. FG’s Paschal Donohue is a strong candidate, Mary Lou too. If the Gregory organisation stays together, their candidate should have a chance. I’d say it’s between those three. Can’t see Labour coming up with a candidate that could take it.
As Pete said, the independent Left in Dublin Central would need to get its act together to have any chance e.g. Perry’s WCA/Independent group in Cabra would need to be on board.
I hereby offer a limited leafletting service down my end if and when.


23. Ghandi of North Strand - January 9, 2009

Ben –
My position on fueds has been consisitant, and I’ve always strived to prevent or end them. Those of us who have come on this political journey and are still alive count ourselves lucky.

Its true that he did not forgive the leadership for the assassination of Costello, and mine and his difficulties stem from that as he appeared to hold our family personally responsible, ( even though I was only 13 at the time).

Likewise my position on “the army” and its history have been clear and consistant. WP is now in a process of dealing with the past and all of these issues, and I would encourage all on the left to take part in this process and have some input.

Pete is correct in saying “not all accepted wisdom about the Costello killing was exact”., I don’t propose to go any further on this point on this forum.

Re, the Starry Plough, I also prefer the blue one, even though we used a green one on my fathers coffin, along with the tricolour, that came about as the coffin was being draped and a long time family friend and retired member arrived with an original green one.

My objective and the objective of WP is to progress the interests of the Working Class through Republican Socialist politics, I see them as the best vehicle for achieving that objective that is why I have rejoined them.

WP are big enough and honest enough to accept that previous stratagies failed mainly because those chosen to lead taht advance were careerists, they are now gone and we are re-building.

I am well aware that some people have a particular view of me, as come across on other forums, nevertheless we are asking people to join us in this advance.

All of us involved have lost friends or comrades in this struggle, having survived ’87, where I lost some of my closest friends and comrades at a time when the IRSM was also re-posititioning itself and starting to re-politicise the movement, and also feeling the anger and pain when Jim Flynn was killed on North Strand following the Magill claims that he had killed Costello. We must however move on and learn from the past.

2009 gives us the greatest opportunity to advance Republican Socialist politics.


24. Ghandi of North Strand - January 9, 2009

Joe –

Perhaps you would consider giving us a hand in the locals?


25. Joe - January 9, 2009

Afraid not Ghandi. Will probably be leafletting for ISN in Finglas. Glad to hear though that the WP might be putting up a candidate in the locals.


26. Ghandi of North Strand - January 9, 2009

No problem Joe, best of luck to ISN

So far
WP are standing

Malachy Steenson in Dublin Central
Mick Finnegan in Lucan, the President of the Party
Andrew Mc Guinness in Ballyfermot
John Dunne in Finglas


27. Ben Kingsley of East Wall - January 9, 2009

That is a very honest position Gandhi. I have difficulty believing it is that of your comrades in the WP though. Nevertheless I accept your points.


28. Ghandi of North Strand - January 9, 2009

Thanks Ben,

Whilst people often disagree with me and throw the usual muck, I have always called it as I saw it regardless of the consequences, (and there have been many), it is regular to be out manouvered by those who see themselves as better educated and careerest.

If I was to have one honest thing said about me it would that I spoke from the heart. My objective has always been to try and create a better society for ordinary working people, and I have always tried to do that. People have a right of course to disagree with me but let them do so in relation to the issues rather than personality.

I have had to re-assess how I achieve progress, thus the years spent studying in order to achieve primary and masters degrees and professional qualifications. The involment in many different issues and of course the distraction of the National Question. I would think that many of us who previously saw ourselves as Republican socialist now see ourselves as Socialist Republicans.

The establishment in this county is afraid of an educated working class who live in and represent their communities. Dublin Central needs to look to its own born and bred who have stayed in the areas and shown committemnet to them and whose objective has not been the fast buck.

Beware the risen people.


29. Leveller on the Liffey - January 9, 2009

Ghandi, I was starting to believe you about a new, outward-looking WP until your line “Dublin Central needs to look to its own born and bred…”

A trifle parochial for a socialist and an internationalist or a slip of the tongue?


30. Fats Reilly - January 9, 2009

You cannot simply overlook the damage the WP did to working class politics in Dublin, especially the anti drugs movement. The WP’s extreme anti republicanism caused it to ignore all other matters affecting the working class. The Stalinist methods used to run the party certainly haven’t changed. Like the IRSP/INLA and their drug dealing connections, the WP have no future.


31. WorldbyStorm - January 9, 2009

Fats, I’ve had to delete the second part of your comment. I have no taste for seeing the CLR in court for hosting statements like that. Political discussion fine (I think your analysis in the first part may have more than a grain of truth as regards the WP’s approach – and I say that as a former WP member). Allegations that can’t be substantiated in this forum (and could potentially cause us legal problems) absolutely not fine.

Can I also point out that there will be plenty of scope for discussion about the political fall-out from Tony’s death in the future, the above post was about some reflection on his burial and about expressing some affection for the man and his work. I’d really ask people to keep that in mind when commenting here.


32. dilettante - January 9, 2009

I’m intrigued as to the second part of the comment. But fair enough – not a good idea to stray beyond the law. Might end up with judges like Mick White or Pat MacCartan who would seriously crack down on this sort of subversive lefty stuff .


33. Dorothy B. - January 9, 2009

WBS, I agree with your last comment wholeheartedly. I was in two minds to get involved or not, but i feel myself reluctantly doing so now.
First I would like to express my sympathy to all the friends and comrades of Tony Gregory . While we lost an honest politician and committed activist you all lost so much more.
Secondly, I am disgusted by the cheek of Malachy Steenson (sorry “Gandhi”) who has shamefully turned this into a thread about himself and attempted to rally support for his election bid and the WP ,on the back of Tonys death. This thread started as a very personal , and well observed piece about a sad passing and burial , and has been hijacked and even used to try and recruit canvassers.
I cannot claim to speak for Tony Gregory , but I cannot help but feel that his animosity towards Steenson was not just historical in nature ( ie.Seamus Costello and WP), but would also relate to more recent events .
I did not see the deleted comments that may cause legal problems, and have no desire to repeat them. But it must be said that Malachy Steenson has a lot of baggage that he wishes to ignore. As a candidate he has a duty to be upfront about his activities in the past, and either apolagise ( if he feels he was wrong) or to justify ( if he feels he was correct). Steenson (sorry “Gandhi”) refers above to comments on other forums, were he answers none of the questions about his past , and moderators remove them continously. Seeing as how he has being rallying support here, and looking for canvassers, it would seem appropriate that he would honestly address concerns about prior actions.
For example: During the community anti drugs campaign of the 1990’s did he, or did he not, provide legal advice to drug pushers that the community were marching against ?
While a member of A.C.R.A. in recent years, he was not actually a member of any residents or tenants group . His involvement with a residents group (chairperson) ended when the residents of the community , having felt for years he was not representing them called an extraordinary AGM to be rid of him ( and his associates). At that time the only political support he got was from Royston Brady (FF).If this is not factual, could Malachy explain his lack of involvement in his own local area , and tell why the group he was involved with disappeared ?
Is it true that concerns were raised about financial matters at this time ? To give one instance: a construction company working across the North Inner City had given money to community groups as a goodwill gesture due to disruption it caused. When a local group looked for funding for a project, they were told money had already been paid over. It had been given to Steensons “community”group, and had never been publically acknowledged. Did these events lead to residents calling a meeting to demand answers ? Was a reasonable explanation ever given ?

These are not personal attacks. If somebody wants to use a forum to electioneer and recruit then there must be an obligation to re-assure people of what they are buying into. One shouldn’t be prepared to sing their own praises, trail on anothers coat tails and then cry foul when faced with questions about their own past, and their own integrity.
I feel uncomfortable posing these questions on a forum that was dedicated to the passing of a man as significant as Tony Gregory. But I feel that the shameless hijacking by a political chameleon cannot be ignored. If Steenson thinks that he can somehow follow in Tony’s Gregorys footsteps, maybe he can start by showing a bit of the honesty and straight talking that HE was renowened for.


34. Ghandi of North Strand - January 10, 2009

In reply to Dorothy, I have no difficulty in dealing with any questions, on other forums where comments were removed I was unable to reply to them as my replies were also deleted as they referred to a deleted post.

If matters drifted on previous comments I apologise for that but it was not my intention to hijack the thread.

Perhaps if another thead was to be started to deal with these matters that would be best.


35. Wednesday - January 10, 2009

So here’s my tuppence worth on the by-election. It won’t happen for as long as Cowen can avoid it – how long is that? FF have a stong organisation in Dublin Central but an opposition victory must be favourite in the current climate. FG’s Paschal Donohue is a strong candidate, Mary Lou too. If the Gregory organisation stays together, their candidate should have a chance. I’d say it’s between those three. Can’t see Labour coming up with a candidate that could take it.

Donohue appears to be the anointed front-runner, but I find that difficult to believe. This just isn’t a Fine Gael constituency. Maybe if they had a really strong candidate, but he’s hardly it. OTOH he does have the advantage of being the only one of the presumptive candidates that won’t have to be focusing on two elections at the same time (anticipating that the by-election will be held on the same day as the locals and Euros, which seems to me to be the most likely scenario).

I actually think Labour has the best chance, most likely with Emer Costello. Which I say with regret because I have no time for her whatsoever, either personally or politically.


36. WorldbyStorm - January 10, 2009

Prepare to see Labour wrap themselves in the Starry Plough then…eh? I think you might be right Wednesday, although Costello’s profile isn’t perhaps that high. Interesting to see though if there is a residual Ahern effect. I agree with you re Donohue. I just can’t see him doing it and certainly not at a by-election.

Gandhi and Dorothy B. If people are happy I’ll put up an open post on Tuesday morning which you can all comment to. I think that would be appropriate and this thread can be left as a reflection on Tony.

If you have specific queries please contact me at worldbystorm [AT] eircom.net


37. Ghandi of North Strand - January 10, 2009

Thanks Worldbystorm,

I’m agreeable


38. Leveller on the Liffey - January 10, 2009

Are we opening a separate thread on the by-election?


39. WorldbyStorm - January 10, 2009

Hi Leveller, yes on Tuesday morning.


40. Leveller on the Liffey - January 11, 2009

Sorry, WBS – was a bit slow on the uptake there 😉


41. WorldbyStorm - January 11, 2009

Nah, no worries, just wanted to give it a bit of space….


42. Joe - January 12, 2009

Yes. Apologies to all if my post on the by-election sent the thread off-topic. Tony Gregory RIP.


43. WorldbyStorm - January 12, 2009

Not at all Joe, it was a perfectly reasonable question to raise.


44. Bartholomew - January 12, 2009

Those were two wonderful posts, WorldbyStorm.

I was very sad indeed to hear that Tony Gregory had died. My contact with him was very different to that of the commentors here – he was our history teacher in secondary school (and French teacher too, for a few years), back in the seventies, long before he was elected.

He was a terrific teacher. What I remember about his classes was his total seriousness about issues and his uncompromising approach. He talked to us as adults all the time. I still have the books we used for the Leaving, over thirty years ago, although I’ve kept none from any other subject. No textbooks for Tony – we went through Lyons’ Ireland since the Famine and Thompson’s Europe since Napoleon (two monster books), Kochan’s history of Russia and a volume of Cobban’s history of France. They’re by no means left-wing books (I suppose he picked them because they were affordable paperbacks), but they were subjected to a very rigorous scrutiny, almost line-by-line. Tony’s sympathies were never made explicit, but at the same time they were always clear (although maybe there’s a bit of hindsight here).

Two little details: he taught George Colley’s children, and he taught Aonghus Ó Snodaigh; and the description in the original post of ‘the look’ brought it right back. We saw it every day!

May he rest in peace.


45. WorldbyStorm - January 12, 2009

That’s brilliant Bartholomew. Great to hear that. It gives a different side to him.


46. socialist - June 3, 2010

Lads, what was said in the mentioning of Costello?


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