100 Years since fight for Independence: Election 2020. Reminder of lives to be forfeited to execution but for intervention of Michael Comyn KC

I never met my Grandfather Michael Comyn KC but grew up hearing so much about him, because he was a man who embraced difference at a time when Ireland was seeking to establish its own identity, separating itself from the British Empire and striking out as a Republic.  I know he traveled with Arthur Griffith to America to raise funds to establish an independent Ireland; he was a member of Sinn Fein at that time.  I am also aware that he was legal adviser to Fianna Fail but there is a lot in the archives about this man but this is a little story that has a nice ending, especially in the Centenary Year that it is.  Citizen Journalism emerged in early 2000 and communication channels opened through the internet.  Imagine if you were a member of a citizen journalism site and an article outlined a little of your family history and you received this reply.  I did and here it is in centenary year of the War of Independence.

Judge Michael Comyn

by Paddy Clifford Sun Jul 20, 2008 05:48  pmclifford at paradise dot net dot nzauthor addressauthor phone

My thanks to the grandfather of Michelle Clarke, Judge Michael Comyn. His magnificent efforts representing my uncle, Paddy Clifford, ensured his reprieve from a death sentence by the Military Court of 1921. My father told me that Paddy had to dig his own grave the day before his execution was due. His reprieve ensured that he was able to marry and have three sons. They in turn had many children.

My heartfelt appreciation to Michael Comyn RIP.

Paddy Clifford
New Zealand

Reply above is to this article:
Saturday September 02, 2006 21:48  by Jack Russell – Social Justice and Ethics


Letter to Republican Sinn Fein – September 2nd, 2006

Title: Confused History

I have been reading with curiosity and some interest articles written on this citizen journalism site for many months. I would pass myself off as pretty serious democratic historian, with a serious background in science. I am slightly confused in the different perspectives. In my opinion, Sinn Fein have come a long way into mainstream politics. They have not joined any Policing Board at present but the reality is – The Guns and the Bombs are silent. 100% of the population of Ireland bar a couple of hundred I have been reading about, are stuck in some sort of a disillusioned time warp.

Can you not see Ireland of today in comparison to the Ireland of the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s era? It is a time of being  proud to be Irish. The economy is booming. People are working and many more are coming home. We also have our non nationals coming to live in Ireland, and they are very welcome. This is what you call a democracy.  It is as good as it gets and the point is that Adams and co. know this just as Michael Collins did in 1922. Irish history weeps in its own blood of ignorance and betrayal from within. Envy and power hungry for a dangerous concept. Haughey proved that.

Getting back to point – could somebody clarify your agenda?  Have you got policies to enhance our economy? Have you a policy on Global Trade in relation to Ireland? Have you a policy of foreign investment in relation to Ireland? Now do we need another conflict because all these policies go out the window?  Please clarify this for me.

Have you read Tom Barry? But more importantly have you studied the man in the later years of his life. Yes, I feel an anger in my heart about the treatment of the prisoners of Maghaberry but with no offence, these are not POW’s. The War is over and the young people of Ireland are not interested, good bad or indifferent. The people of the North are tired. They want a better life for their children. Sinn Fein and the Irish Government and Patten have made enormous inroads into the equality of both sides of the divide in the North of Ireland. Yes, I would love to see a United Ireland. I have people who fought in the War of Independence so I am not some bar stool idiot shouting off his mouth during a Wolfe Tone conference.

I want to tell you a story of Irish history before I go. My partner of 3 years, Michelle Clarke, grandaughter of Judge Michael Comyn 1872-1954.  Before becoming a Judge, in his early years, he was KC (King’s Counsel). The case in question I am going to talk about is the Clifford and O’Sullivan Case in 1921. Michael Comyn then defended 40 IRA prisoners who were being sentenced to death. He, as the genius he was, prolonged the case to 1922 and saved their lives, just before the Treaty. It is amazing I never read much about this man. You see he used his KC because he knew it would be essential for his points of law during that long and tedious case. This case went to the House of Lords and King George V intervened. Would you judge that man for keeping his KC in those turbulent times? This man was a true Irishman, a Clare man. De Valera appointed him in opposition in 1928 to the Senate and he was appointed a Judge of the District Court in 1936. It is amazing he is written out of Irish history. Unusual for a man of his time, he had interests in mining and was involved in gold mines in Wicklow and phosphate mines in Clare. Mr. Lemass, in Govt. seized his mines and he in his 80’s sued the State and won a very sustantial reward in 1950.

I wrote to Mr. Adams, Sinn Fein, about this and never received a reply.

I hope I am not boring you but I wrote many articles on the Corrib and the Corporate Greed in relation to it. I have never read any of your articles on this issue (Corporatism).


Jack Russell

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has’ (I fear the kind of change it would bring – Margaret Mead 1901 – 1978)

For details of Michael Comyn KC:  R v Clifford  and O’Sullivan case 23rd April 1921, I suggest a book written by Mr David Foxton, who travelled to Ireland from the UK to see papers relating to the Clifford and Sullivan case.  He spoke in detail with KT about Irish history, and was intersted in his perspective of the papers held by me. I was able to talk about family lore and narrative about my grandfather as I was very close to his nephew Sir James Comyn, who had many a story to tell about his uncle.

Revolutionary Lawyers,

Sinn Fein Courts and Crown Courts in Ireland and Britain 1916-1923

David Foxton (Barrister and Queen’s Bench Counsel, practising in commercial law in London

Published 2008

I also recommend:

The Trial of Civilians by Military Courts Ireland 1921

By Sean Enright


Links relating to Michael Comyn KC  & search within document



About michelleclarke2015

Life event that changes all: Horse riding accident in Zimbabwe in 1993, a fractured skull et al including bipolar anxiety, chronic fatigue …. co-morbidities (Nietzche 'He who has the reason why can deal with any how' details my health history from 1993 to date). 17th 2017 August operation for breast cancer (no indications just an appointment came from BreastCheck through the Post). Trinity College Dublin Business Economics and Social Studies (but no degree) 1997-2003; UCD 1997/1998 night classes) essays, projects, writings. Trinity Horizon Programme 1997/98 (Centre for Women Studies Trinity College Dublin/St. Patrick's Foundation (Professor McKeon) EU Horizon funded: research study of 15 women (I was one of this group and it became the cornerstone of my journey to now 2017) over 9 mth period diagnosed with depression and their reintegration into society, with special emphasis on work, arts, further education; Notes from time at Trinity Horizon Project 1997/98; Articles written for Irishhealth.com 2003/2004; St Patricks Foundation monthly lecture notes for a specific period in time; Selection of Poetry including poems written by people I know; Quotations 1998-2017; other writings mainly with theme of social justice under the heading Citizen Journalism Ireland. Letters written to friends about life in Zimbabwe; Family history including Michael Comyn KC, my grandfather, my grandmother's family, the O'Donnellan ffrench Blake-Forsters; Moral wrong: An acrimonious divorce but the real injustice was the Catholic Church granting an annulment – you can read it and make your own judgment, I have mine. Topics I have written about include annual Brain Awareness week, Mashonaland Irish Associataion in Zimbabwe, Suicide (a life sentence to those left behind); Nostalgia: Tara Hill, Co. Meath.
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