Page 5, 23rd May 1941

23rd May 1941
Page 5
Page 5, 23rd May 1941 — Nightly Flight To Barns and Ditches

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Locations: Belfast, Derry


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Nightly Flight To Barns and Ditches


From Our Own Correspondent

Every night the two cities and all the larger towns of the Six Counties are evacuated by virtually the whole population. The roads leading from Belfast tts the countryside are crowded by women and children, bearing packs, making for places in which they can rest for the night. This was described by Mr. B. Bailie, Independent Unionist, in the Northern Parliament. Farmers let sheds to poor city families at 10s. a week — one wonders where the money comes from, unless from saving on food, and consequent starvation.

Mr. T. Henderson, another Protestant Independent Unionist, condemned the Northern Government for neglect of precautions that would have saved " millions of pounds' worth of beautiful buildings and hundreds of lives.


" You want the truth and you are going to get it," he declared. " If the advice of the Opposition had been taken hundreds of lives would have been saved and whole families would not have been wiped out. I stood in the city in which 1 was born, the other night and saw beautiful buildings destroyed. Hitler will never kill the spirit of the Ulster people, but I want to see the people getting the protection which has been denied them through the apathy of the Government.

" I Warti to ask the Prime Minister," Mr, Henderson proceeded. he spend two hours with me to-night; will he conic up the Falls road or the Shankill road to the Dias mountains or Ballygomartin and see the people lying In the hedges and shoughs of Northern Ireland? The Catholics and Protestants are going out of the city together, and they are sleeping in the hedges together. They are talking to each other now, and are all saying the same thing—that the Government is no good. These men and women are flying to the hills at night, SOME With six and nine children, and when I say that I don't give a tinker's curse for Lord Haw Haw or anybody else."

Similar accounts were given by the Rev. Professor Corkey, an Orange member, who demanded 40,000 family huts to be set up in the countryside, where the population took refuge. If this were not done by the winter, there would be unspeakable calamity. He described the nightly flight to the fields of 20,000 people in a single district. Another Independent Unionist, Mr. Nixon, asked where were the large mansions promised by the wealthy to refugees, seeing that barns and ditches are the only night shelter of the masses.


The Prime Minister and other Government spokesmen admitted that the population had taken to the fields, and " promised immediate action."

Such is the terrible situation which has arisen so suddenly, but, without excusing the Six County Government for allowing the entire urban population of the area to be left without alternative shelter to the towns, it is fair to point out that Defence is a reserved power, in which the provincial Gov

ernment has no say. Once .more, the mongrel political system attendant on Partition, with no one responsible for the integral government of the area, is demonstrated to he what we proclaimed it, ad nauseam before the crisis: that is, dangerous and inefficient.

Belfast is a honeycomb of industrial plant and workers' homes, so that no government could solve the present crisis promptly. New homes must be provided for the 300,000 Inhabitants, if the nightly flight to the barns and ditches is to be checked. The spreading of the terror to Derry city and the smaller towns like Lisburn, Lurgan, Newry, etc.—from all of which the nightly trek goes on—is scarcely rational, yet it cannot be checked by appeals from politicians who, at the best of times, lack the trust of their people, in a region where the best third of the population is living in penal conditions.


It is no time for political capital-making, and one may borrow from the Orange Professor Corkey, in saying that disaster must follow if anarchy in the Six Counties is to be averted. In a little resort south of the Border, one has seen workers from Belfast visiting their refugee children on Sundays. Up and down the dusty country roads the reunited families walk all day, between the hawthorn and the pale beeches, living the peaceful hours as if for thc last time; and when the trains whistle in the evening, there are heartbreaking scenes of parting, and the parents go back to the charred city and their shelters in sheds outside it, in tears that they cannot restrain more than their weeping children.

Such is the situation in which Orangemen and Catholics, as Mr. Henderson said, arc of one mind. Every spokesman who protested was Protestant and Unionist—for Catholics and Nationalists are so used to being nobody's children that they shake their heads and leave it to those who have learnt the truth of the Six Counties' plight so suddenly.

Homes for the urban population600,000 out of the 1,200,000 of the area— need to he provided by the Imperial Government hefrire winter comes and its privations; and the political disorder in which the crisis was generated must he put right by consent, in the present moment so favourable to agreement.


QUICKLY" War's dread ritual has its beauty. Who does not love the bugle-call, thin and clear at the hour of dawn?

In the camps and barracks of Ireland, there is an 'added beauty. a new significance, in the call; for, three times a day, the Angelus is sounded in bugle notes: " Ave, avel" It is stirring when the movement and clamour of a busy camp is hushed at the sacred call, and every soldier In the service of Ireland pauses to pray.

The May devotions are being observed with special zeal; for, on the exhortation of the Pope and our hierarchy, all who can are thronging to the altar, and praying for the world's peace. The candles burn for Benediction amid the last narcissi and the first roses.

Cardinal MacRory, after administering Confirmation in a parish that Saint Brigid once trod, spoke of the horrors of war that had been brought to our shores by the bombing of Belfast. It was possible, the Cardinal said, that the war would end suddenly by the collapse of one side or the other, but hardly likely; therefore, a quick end only could come from God.' No doubt the Almighty had allowed the war to punish the world, which had forgotten Him, and His wrath might be seinewhat appeased now, and our prayers and atonement and sorrow might move Him to shorten that punishment.

Urging prayers for peace, particularly to the Mother of God, the Cardinal said we should pray in grataude that we had not been involved in the war. It was not absolutely certain yet that we were out of the wood, but he thought it extremely likely, and we should thank God. • In the North, where " double summertime " is kept, in addition to the half-hour that Ireland's longitude adds to Greenwich time, you may see churches crowded at seven o'clock Mass daily. By the sun, this is about 4.35 am., which means that people really are rising at 4 o'clock. It is arduous, but healthy and stimulating.


The harshness of winter refuses still to leave our Irish air. In some places, the wheat on which we have set such hope has failed to generate, and has been ploughed up, in order that oats and barley may be sown on the same fields.

The cold drought has its benefits, however; for it favours the turf-cutting. Up to 70,000 of our unemployed have been given work on the hogs, and unemployment has disappeared for a space from the countryside. Some of us are asking why, if our own fuel-deposits can absorb all the free labour of the counties, we should not use native fuel always instead of importing coal and keeping lads idle. Thus is adversity proving a good teacher, and the folly of importing whet we can afford only at the cost of unemployment is being driven home.

County Clare alone is cutting 100.000 tons of turf—or peat, to speak by the book. No home will lack firing in Clare next winter.


The movement to revive the old-time patterns is one of the happiest of developments in recent years. The pattern brings social joy into the countryside, turns people's minds back to their local traditions and devotion to their own patrons. Last week, thousands of people, including priests, and companies of local defence organisations took part in the celebrations in Rahan, Tullamore, in honour of St. Carthage.

The Rev. M. Troy, C.C., who preached at Mass, said life in towns and cities was toppling and a great future awaited the Irish countryside if people held to the traditions of their martyred forefathers.

After Benediction there was a procession in the Mass Rock in the grounds of Rahan Lodge, where Mgr. P. Flynn, P.P., VG., appealing for greater devotion to the Mass, said they saw' to-day soldiers of an Irish army gathered round the hallowed Mass Rock to refresh their faith.

A Life of St. Carthage was published by a Cistercian Father not long ago (Browne and Nolan), and makes delightful as well as inspiring reading.


Through Waterford streets lined with people, the remains of Brother Edmund Ignatius Rice, the illustrious founder of the Irish Christian Brothers, who died 97 years ago, were taken from Mount Sion Monastery to Ballybricken parish church.

After High Mass, at which the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore presided, the remains were translated to the specially-built .mernorial chapel in the grounds of Mount Sion Monastery.

SODALITY WORLD DAY Many Irish Sodalists had died in defence of the Church ; throughout the world Irish Sodalists taught children and provided dinners for the poor, said the announcer in the special broadcast to Ireland from the Vatican City Radio in connection with the annual celebration of the Sodality World Day.

In one day of prayer for the Holy Father, the announcer said, 47,000 Irish Sodalists received Holy Communion for his intentions.

Ail autographed letter from the Holy Father was read, in which he imparted the Apostolic Benediction to all Sodalists.

In the evening, the Rev. Fr. Mulcahy, ST. editor of the Irish Monthly, broadcast from Radio Eireann, on the sodality movement. to hundreds of thousands of listeners It is probable that three-quarters of the Catholics of Ireland now are Sodalists; the precise figures would be interesting.

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