Video of the commemoration of the memorial to Capt. Michael Joseph Kelly

On 27th of December 2016, we commemorated a memorial to Captain Michael Joseph Kelly of the IRA and Irish Volunteers at Drumanangle, Moygownagh. Many thanks to all who turned up and to the Jennings family, relations and neighbours who organised hot refreshments in their house afterwards. Also many thanks to Nuala McHale for her video of the event (edited) which is below... and yes the book will be out soon (promise!).

Medical Student to Restless Soldier - Capt. Michael Joseph Kelly of Drumanangle, Moygownagh.

Capt. Michael Joseph Kelly, Commanding Officer 3rd Battalion, North Mayo IRA, 1921-3.

Capt. Michael Joseph Kelly, Commanding Officer 3rd Battalion, North Mayo IRA, 1921-3.

Last Tuesday, the memorial to a forgotten soldier of the 1916 Rising, Michael Joseph Kelly, was officially commemorated at Drumanangle, Moygownagh - the townland of his birth. 

He was born on 4th August 1896 in Druminangle, Moygownagh, the eldest child of Hugh Kelly and Bridget Quinn. His grandfather Michael Kelly was a respected poor Law Guardian for the area and his father Hugh followed in his footsteps, becoming a Home-Rule party District Councillor in 1898. The family were prosperous farmers, and both grandfather and father had ambitions for young Michael Joseph and his siblings.

He was taught by his uncle Master John Browne in Carn National School, and was subsequently educated in St. Murdeach's College, Ballina, with his brother Thomas. While his younger brother went on to become a priest, Michael Joseph was entered into the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin in early 1916 to sit their entrance exams. On Easter Saturday his name appeared with the select few who would pass the exams, and be called on to pass into the hallowed halls of the RCSI. A successful career as a doctor or surgeon beckoned for the bright 20 year old. However, that week saw the eruption of the Easter Rising, and unknown to his family and parishioners at home the young medical student joined the rebels.

Michael Joseph survived to be interned in England for a month and was then released into his father's care, who regarded the rebels as traitors to his own Home Rule cause. The chastened rebel was sent back to his studies in the RCSI, but he quit a year later and walked into a British Army Recruitment office. He went on to fight in France and was commended to receive two medals for his service in his majesty's forces during the Great War.

On returning before Christmas 1919 to Moygownagh, he soon joined the local Volunteers fighting against the RIC and Black & Tans - men who fought under the very flag he had saluted during World War I. He rose through the ranks and would become Captain Michael Joseph Kelly, the commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion of the North Mayo Brigade (see photo). The soft night air of Druminangle ringing out with the crack and shouts of Captain Kelly drilling the local volunteers. His men would become the part of the backbone of resistance to British rule in Ireland and succeed in creating a separate Republic of courts, taxation, laws, and police, – effectively driving the British to seek a Truce.

In 1922 Capt. Kelly with most of the Mayo Volunteers opposed the Treaty and fought with Michael Kilroy's IRA against the Free State forces, evading arrest but winning the respect of even his enemies for his ability and command of men. Kelly was finally captured with most of the local IRA officers during an attempt to destroy Belvin Bridge, in February 1923. He escaped from the Workhouse Prison in Ballina to go on the run and as the Civil War petered out, he was involved in reviving the local Sinn Fein party. However, along with many of his comrades, he became disillusioned with this new Ireland and exiled himself to the USA in 1925, vowing never to return. 

Michael Joseph with his siblings Bridget, Sadie and Hugh would join their brother Thomas, who was now an ordained priest in Spokane, Washington. However tragedy followed the Kelly family. Fr. Tom died in 1932, followed by sister Bridget and then brother James - a newly promoted Garda who died suddenly in 1935 in Westport. While Hugh returned to Ireland, their other married sister Sadie died in March 1938 after a long illness, leaving a young family. Michael Joseph stayed on their farm in Canton, South Dakota, to help his brother-in-law Elmer, work the land and raise their two kids. He would not return for his heartbroken father's funeral later that year in July 1938.

Meanwhile back in Druminangle, the two surviving Kelly children would have family of their own. The youngest Gertie married Peter Hegarty from Crossmolina in 1940, having their marriage breakfast in the new-slated house, which may yet be seen on the hill within sight of the erected memorial. Hugh junior married Evelyn Loughney of Killala and later sold the Kelly farm, moving to Ballysadare in Sligo - so ending the line of grandfather Michael Kelly in Druminangle. Bereaved Michael Joseph cut himself off from his family and moved on to California where he eventually worked on a ranch at the tiny rural settlement of Winters. It was this address he used when joining up to the US army in the months after Pearl Harbour in 1942, under the compulsory 'Old Man's Draft'. 

Michael Joseph Kelly circa 1966. 

Michael Joseph Kelly circa 1966. 

This was only a reserve force, but would be the fifth army that Michael Joseph Kelly would enlist in over his lifetime.

In later life, his health deteriorated and unable to work as a manual labourer he found himself in US Army accommodation for destitute veterans in Prineville, Oregon (see photo). A lifetime of missed potential and possibilities lay behind him and haunted him with regret and guilt. His only link to his family being the occasional letter he would write to Hugh in Ireland. In one such letter after excusing his avoidance of relatives who came to visit him, he stated, 'Well Hugh, this place seems empty & lonely to me since poor Sadie left us. Often & often I have wished that it were me who went instead of her […] but I suppose the good die young.'

It was a chance meeting of Hugh and cousin Fr. Tony Hannick, who was passing Hugh's shop in Ballysadare that led to Michael Joseph being reunited with his family. Fr. Hannick was then working in Yakima diocese, Washington and sought out the estranged Captain Kelly - eventually locating him in nearby Oregon. Shocked by his conditions and ill health, he ensured Michael Joseph's medical and living costs were paid and dressed him up in new clothes. His conversation with Michael Joseph was likely the last the Drumanangle man had with family, as it was not long after this visit, that Fr. Hannick was summoned for the funeral of Michael Joseph in August 1966 and burial in nearby Redmond, sending back to Ireland the cross from the coffin of their long lost brother and uncle.

So ended a life of a restless soul, of idealism, of potential and possibility, of love of battle and regret of loss, of a man who had forgotten how much he was loved and respected by his family, friends and comrades, now commemorated in the new memorial stone by the river in his beloved Druminangle. 

Memorial to Captain Michael Joseph Kelly, Drumanangle, Moygownagh in Mayo, Ireland. 

Memorial to Captain Michael Joseph Kelly, Drumanangle, Moygownagh in Mayo, Ireland. 

Extracted from Captain Michael Joseph Kelly to be published in February 2017 by Liam Alex Heffron. For more info and to order the book in advance visit www.liamalexheffron.com

My 'History Ireland' Book Review (June 2016)

My 'History Ireland' Book Review (June 2016)

Growing up in a county where the perennial question revolved around whether Mayo footballers would “do it” this year - the GAA was so interwoven into the tapestry of parish life, that to question it was akin to questioning my parents’ marriage. We, the grassroots members, were as guilty as the GAA detractors at seeing it as a Gaelic, Catholic-Nationalist, monolith, which also ran the annual North Mayo Junior-B football championship, (except we didn’t mind as much).

Now, thankfully the GAA is being critically re-understood in a general re-appraisal of modern social history. This new academic focus is seen in the formation of Sports History Ireland in 2005, a society with an ambition to “...establish a network of local historians [..] interested in working in sports history”, thus encouraging and facilitating insights into the challenges faced by the association at grassroots level. The GAA & revolution in Ireland 1913-1923 itself is preceded by Cronin et al, GAA: a people’s history.

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Guest Panelist on RTE's Claire Byrne Live TV show

Guest Panelist on RTE's Claire Byrne Live TV show

I will be appearing as a guest panelist on the Claire Byrne Live TV show on Monday 9th November at 10.35pm to discuss the Fight to Save Rural Ireland. So if there is anything you'd like me to consider before the show please let me know...

While I (briefly) danced with the notion of entering politics, I remain very committed to working with communities under threat, to survive and prosper - and believe the solution lies wresting back the power of governance of our country - to the people, using the ideas and technologies of the 21st century. Tune in for more!  or at least to see Claire Byrne...

By the way my book "919 Bastards" will be out in August 2016. Along with the million other things I committed to doing...

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Irish Rail shafts Westport train Culchies

Written on a seriously overcrowded 6.15pm train from Dublin to Westport where a pleasantly angry lady from Castlerea (angry with Irish Rail - pleasant to me) passing around a petition - Irish rail shaft West train customers & staff - no notice given of later scheduling of Westport - Dublin train (plus 10 min waiting outside Portarlington) since Monday. All to allow for the new express Cork - Dublin Train. Even local staff not aware.

Now ten min (or in effect 20) has a huge effect on commuters trying to get through Dublin morning traffic and not being given any notice is not just rude but nasty. Hoping it will pass without too much complaint from west of Ireland culchies.

Perhaps Irish Rail didn't know that the new express Cork train was going to delay things ? Only found out themselves a few days before.

"..hello?! Jaysus ! Barry c'mere - I was thinking maybe the Westport train needs a bit of a delay in case it gets in the way of the real train from Cork ... or we could just divert it into the bogs in the Midlands .... Ah no, just thinking that Ming fecker only start screaming about that ... No Maybe just skip a delay in the schedule and say nothing... Twenty min ! sweet lord man! no, might rile the natives - go for ten and then we "delay" the train a bit outside Portarlington ...u'know circumstances beyond our control like .. Dublin traffic? Shure what are them rednecks bothering coming up here anyway. Can't be up to much. Probably just abusing the free travel pass... Delayed in traffic won't matter much to a bunch of geriatrics.... Tell them?! You mad? Have them all on the radio! No if I've learned anything from the past eons of monopoly of the railways is to say nothing and hope it will just go away. The bank holiday is landed and they'll all forget about all this... Yeah I agree Barry be a lot easier if we had the one train. Still we live in hope! See ya - its 4.30 and clock off at 5pm so I should be gone an hour ago!!! ...."

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Pretending to be Me

Pretending to be Me

It was late night. We were spent. It had been a long three days with no coffee, alcohol or nicotine and eating meals that even the Elves of Rivendell would think pushed healthy eating too far. The initial giddy and nervous excitement of promised enlightenment in a Kent gentry house, had given way to hollow tiredness. We weren't sure the organizers had us awake for near 18 hours a day - doing some activity - to break our will. But it did. The week of "Jumpstart" couldn't come to an end quick enough and nerves were frayed. The evening class of Bodywork had claimed some teary causalities but most had got to the end of our stretches and were longingly eyeing the exit door to sleep beyond. But a firm hand on my shoulder stopped me. My fellow grumblers left and in that gloom, Sheila, the coordinator of the week asked me the simple question. "It must be desperately tiring for you Liam, trying so hard, in pretending to be you?" and I broke. Down. I gave it up. I no longer could keep up the act.

 

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Acting, Athletics and the power of failure....

Acting, Athletics and the power of failure....

John McDonnell, the most successful coach in American college athletics history, went to the same primary school as I did in the tiny west of Ireland village of Moygownagh , and ran barefoot through the field of rushes and damp grass opposite, running into the sunset hills for the sheer joy of it. I played gaelic football on that same soil, now a modern sports field and remember how I would mentally berate myself each time I ill-judged that pass, mis-kicked the clearance and lost my marker. The fear of the next mistake would wrap cold me in an unforgiving vice and I would curse my stupidly or cowardice under my breath. I wanted to just get to the end of the game without making another mistake, so played it as safe as I could. Limiting my mistakes by limiting anything creative in my football.  As a safe mediocre player I sought to avoid being jeered or cursed at (mainly by my inner self!). I choose relief at the final whistle rather than being truly creatively alive during the game - which was after all surely the whole point of playing football - for the joy of it.

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Irish thoughts on Boston and Yanks

Irish thoughts on Boston and Yanks

....The final image that will stay with me, is the celebrating of the people of the neighborhood in Boston where the last bomber was captured alive. Clapping and cheering the police with the American flag waving and laughs of relief. This would never happen in Ireland or the UK. And once I would cast my eyes up to heaven on witnessing it....  ​

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Lunch on a Skyscraper

The iconic photo was taken on September 20, 1932 on the 69th floor of the Rockefeller Center and became known as “Lunch on a Skyscraper”. Jes Bickhart has created an emotional and beautiful film drama of the lives of those Irish, Italian and Indian men, in the days leading up to the unique photo by Charlie Ebetts. Featuring Liam Heffron, Tim Moran and Todd Duffey. Due for Release Summer 2013

I am thrilled to have been involved in this emotional project. Although I felt the weight of the dreams of generations of Irishmen and women, who left the shores of Ireland to seek a better life in the United States. I suppose I felt my Great Grandfather’s eyes on me, as I relived his own longing to be back on the small stonewalled fields of North Mayo, from the new experience that was (and is) America.

After the great Irish documentary earlier this year by Sean O’Cualainof the Irishmen involved, it is a lot to live up to. Click on the link to check out the website of the movie, Top of the Rock.  for more information and we would all be glad of the support by joining the facebook page or newsletter

I will let you know when the film premiers - and hopefully it makes Ireland and those small stonewalled fields. 

Free Time Management Workshop LA

(Please use a non-iPad or iPhone device to register.  Problems registering?  email support@careerACTivate.com)

         SAVE THE DATE: Details here
         Location: Los Angeles (TBD) Don’t miss this opportunity to efficiently and effectively attain your goals, sign up today.

JONA IS BRILLIANT AND REALLY RECOMMEND THIS CLASS AND REFER FROM ME AND ITS FREE! DO IT! YES GO ON DO IT !!! L


FREE TIME MANAGEMENT CLASS

Free tickets for NLP Seminar in LA

Okay, I just finished a pretty great seminar with Matt Brauning and Evolution Seminars - an excellent NLP weekend. While there is a lot of up selling involved (and to the European skeptical mind - pretty OTT) it certainly changed me for the better. It forced me to deal with realities and gave me some neat NLP tools to help me focus on what I want out of life and deal with the stress and disappointments I have been carrying around with me. ( I know poor me…..). I will do more with him and I certainly recommend it especially as I have a couple (literally 2!) extra tickets which I can only give on a first come first serve basis - so click on the link below and see when the next seminar is - and if that suits let me know!!! otherwise you can still avail of my discount by just signing up using this link or click the title above.

And yes it has nothing to do with hot air balloons but I felt there was a tenuous link to a photo taken from my sister’s back garden last year when I was fairly stressed. 


A good start is half the work....

Finally, after a well placed kick up the arse I publish my new website (Thanks Andy) with my new blog and after finding the Heffron and Hollywood Way sign this week, on my way to getting new head-shots - it seemed relevant. 

For those who have asked for some advice for foreign actors in Hollywood, bring Solpadeine, they don’t sell it here and I will have a resources page on my site for what I considered great for a new face in LA. Obviously those “resources” that just sucked, I will omit as I don’t fancy trying my hand defending myself in libel court.

So here goes…my new website