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THE MOLLY MAGUIRES

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Maggieofthegypsies

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Irish History Forum Discussion:     THE MOLLY MAGUIRES

This thread is being started to educate and correct any misperceptions in the Irish community about the Molly Maguires.

The Mollies Maguires was the media's name for a group of Irish miners in 19th century Pennsylvania who attempted to unionize because of unfair labor practices displayed toward them by the rich coal barons. These wealthy individuals, who owned the mines, the railroads, the towns, and half of everything else in the anthracite region, had a vested interest in keeping labor as cheap as possible. The last thing the coal barrons and their financiers in England wanted was a coal miners union.

The Molly Maguires, who in actuality were members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, were terrorized and hunted by the Pinkerton Detectives. An infiltrate, by the name of James McPharland, an Irish immigrant himself, provided the Pinkerton Detective Agency with information on the secret Irish societies in Ireland who practiced retributive justice...such as the Whiteboys. McPharland's orders were to implicate as many unionizers as possible in any crime he could. In many cases, McPharland appeared to "plant" evidence to incriminate and entrap the miners.

The "media" of the time - newspapers - largely spread the myth of the "Molly Maguires" in their sensationalistic "National Inquirer" approach of the day. Those against the Irish, against unionized labor, and the public masses caught up in the drama of the "reporting" (cough, cough - reference Voodoo's thoughts on current journalistic lack of ethics and apply here) were quick to take up cries against the Irish miners. So sad...

The hard coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania therefore became the subject of national attention during the Molly Maguire Era. Not surprisingly, the great sensationalism and media attempts to make monsters of the Irish miners, branding them a cult of evil murderers, remains easily accessed in research today WITH FEW DISCLAIMERS REGARDING THE INNOCENCE OF THE IRISH MINERS ATTACHED.

Interestingly and for the record: although in the States and England, the Molly Maguires were labeled as militants, in the rest of the sane world, they were heralded as heros.

The dedication and bravery of the Irish men who fought for unionization in the coal fields of Pa. paved the way for unions across America as well as paved the way for labor rights in other countries.

I am not a historian but I love history. I am not an expert on the Mollies either but I have done quite a bit of research on the topic for a novel I wrote called "The Pipes Are Calling". And, it is dear to my heart. My Irish greatgreatgrandfathers were coal miners in Pennsylvania as was my greatgrandfather, my grandfather, and my uncles. It is very likely that one of the twenty men hung as a Molly Maguire, James Carroll, was a cousin of mine. My passion about what occurred makes me angry for it was not far removed from the same atrocities commited towards the Irish by the English in so many scenerios over the hundreds of years of occupation in Ireland as well as in other British manipulated cultures 'round the world.

Between 1877 and 1879, these twenty alleged Molly Maguires were hanged in and around Schuylkill County, Carbon County, and Columbia County. On June 21st, 1877 in Schuylkill County, six alleged Molly Maguire Leaders were hung and the same day, in Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe) four more. This date has become known as "The Day of the Rope".

The New York Labor Standard, a socialist NY newspaper run by an Irish activist Joe P. McDonnell, ran headlines referring to the hangings as "legal murder". The cry was taken up with other newspapers around the world.

One hundred and one years after the hanging of the rising Irish born Schuylkill County miner turned tavern keeper turned magistrate turned labor activist, Black Jack Kehoe, he was exonerated by the Governor of Pennsylvania with a posthumous pardon. This pardon stated that the judgement of many historians has been made that " the trials and executions conducted towards the twenty Irish men who were executed as Molly Maguires were part of a repression directed against the fledgling mineworkers' union of that historic period".

Efforts to this day are occuring to exonerate the remaining 19 Irish men whose hangings were no less of the same. Efforts are also periodically made to restore any excommunications handed down towards any of the miners hung by the Catholic Church of the time. Such bigotry and hatred, mockery of justice and blatent abuse of power by the government and papal hierarchies needs to be remembered so it never occurs again on either side of the Atlantic or anywhere else in the human world.





These are the twenty Irishmen
Who were executed
As alleged Molly Maguires
If ye find yer kin among them
'Tis then ye may feel the fire...

Bergin, Martin
Boyle, James
Campbell, Alexander
Carroll, James
Donahue, John "Yellow Jack"
Donnelly, Dennis "Bucky"
Doyle, Michael J.
Duffy, Thomas
Fisher, Thomas
Hester, Patrick
Kehoe, John "Black Jack"
Kelly, Edward
McDonnell, James
McGehan, Hugh
McHugh, Peter
McManus, Peter
Munley, Thomas
Roarity, James
Sharp(e), Charles
Tully, Patrick


THE MOLLIES AND THE IRA

Perhaps some will wonder about this thread
And ask what has this to do with Ireland
Except that the men hung as Mollies were Irish born

Ye must look at the parellels...

A lot of the propaganda that was spewed forth
By the newspapers of the mid 1800's
As well as the anti-Irish bigotry that resounded
Is very similar to the beatin' that the press
And the uninformed public and political leaders
Are givin to the IRA right now...

Innuendos, blatent lies, sensationalistic headlines
Appealing to the masses on a soapbox
One would think t'was the IRA's fault that
Ireland is not unified...

Go back to the Mollies...
Those in power wanted to rid themselves
Of the one real threat to their power -
The Irish miners who wanted something better
For themselves and their families
And wanted it enough
To stand up and politically fight for it...

Like the IRA...

Ye take away the IRA
Ireland's goal of reunification
Will take a step backward
As did the Coal Miner's Union
When the Molly Maguire trials
Gave the labor union
A swift kick in the groin

Ireland must look those who critisize the IRA
Straight in the eye
And remind them
That the real Bogeyman came from across the Irish Sea
And took over the North of Ireland for his own selfish greed

Just as the same Bogeyman
From across the Atlantic Ocean
Used English pounds
To control the Pennsylvania coal mines
For his own selfish greed

The English and their henchmen
Are now pullin out all the stops
A free and unified Ireland is way too close
Just like a unified miners union was too close
The English all get a little nervous
When they think their bread
May have to be buttered
With margarine
Instead of the real deal

There have been too many who have died
On the cross and
On the gallows
Too many imprisoned for believing in the right
To live a decent life in a free country

Guard the rights of the your IRA, Ireland
Do not turn against what may be your only hope
Do not listen to horror stories and hype...
Ye are bein' fed it to poison ye against the truth

If ye want a free Ireland
Ye better be ready to free it
For if ye are waitin' for the Brits
To hand it over on a silver platter...

Well...how many hundreds of years
Have ye been waitin' already???

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