Never Let Them See You Crying

Thomas Dixie Elliot shares his thoughts on a film he viewed at the weekend.

Sharon and I went to see I Dolours today and we seen a committed and brave IRA Volunteer telling her own harrowing story. What struck me was the haunted eyes of someone who, like her sister Marian, carried out orders without question and who did terrible things in the belief that what they were doing was right. Who remained seated when asked to go and bomb England when others got up and walked out of the room unable to do it. Dolours couldn't understand why they didn't want to go as she wanted to take the war to their door. 

The Brits were waiting on them she told us and when asked if she believed there was an informer - she said yes without hesitation - in Belfast. 

The actress who portrayed Dolours as a young IRA Volunteer was so like the older woman it was uncanny, especially the eyes.

Dolours spoke about her staunchly Republican parents, her father had bombed England in his youth, of her aunt who lived with them and who had lost both hands and eyes in an explosion when she was only 25 and how she had to hold a cigarette to her aunt's mouth so she could have a smoke. Dolours told how when she got a visit from her Mother and wept in her arms her mother told her not to let the bastards see her crying, never let them see you crying she told her.

What both she and Marian experienced during their prolonged hunger strikes and forced feeding would have broken most people and the experience was so bad that they both became anorexic.

She spoke about ferrying explosives across the border several times a week in the panels of a car and of how she charmed the British soldiers on the checkpoint and they became so used to her that they often called her by her fake name as she pulled up.

Then there was the 'Unknowns' of which she was a part in that she drove those about to be executed and disappeared across the border to their deaths. She said that Jean McConville admitted to being an informer and that she was arrogant in her belief that she wouldn't be shot, so much so that when the two were alone in the car, Jean McConville, not knowing that Dolours was in fact an IRA Volunteer, said to her, I knew the Provo bastards wouldn't shoot me. 

Dolours said that the IRA in Louth wouldn't shoot a woman so three volunteers were brought in and they took her to a ready dug grave where each one shot her before a Louth volunteer buried her. No names were mentioned.

Joe Lynskey was the last of the 'Disappeared' who she spoke about, he wasn't an informer but had set up another Volunteer to be shot because he was having an affair with the volunteer's wife. She told how Lynskey had accepted his fate and had taken an overnight bag with him as they travelled over the border in a car. She said she didn't want to do what she was doing but it had to be done and she hoped that Lynskey would punch her in the face and run off and get a ferry. He didn't and she left him with other IRA Volunteers having said their goodbyes.

During this whole film only Gerry Adams was mentioned by name twice and a member of the 'Unknowns' who had died in America. In fact Ed Moloney said after the film that this person had in fact become a screw in America before he died of cancer.

At one point Dolours was asked did she believe that the disappearing of informers was a war crime and without hesitation she said it was, they were informers and deserved what they got but their bodies should have been left on the street as a warning to others, not disappeared.

Go and watch this powerful film and you'll not see someone 'touting' on her comrades but a truly courageous woman who carried out orders and had to live with what she had done to the end of her days. Look into her haunted eyes and you're looking into the soul of someone who went through what she and many others went through only to be betrayed eventually. Try telling me that this wasn't a story that had to be told.

Ed Moloney spoke at the end about the project and the reasons it was shut down and he did say that the IRA volunteer who dug Jean McConville's grave was working for the Gardai and was saved from the same fate because his father was a leading member of the Movement in Louth. The most shocking thing about this, he said was that the authorities in the South were aware of where McConville's body was buried but choose to keep silent about it.

It was a pleasure to speak with Ed and his lovely wife Joan.

Thomas Dixie Elliot is a Derry artist and a former H Block Blanketman.

Follow Dixie Elliot on Twitter @IsMise_Dixie    

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

11 comments to ''Never Let Them See You Crying"

  1. Where can you see it? I missed it when it was in the movies

  2. Dixie,

    I'm bemused to hear that you were pleasured to speak with Ed and his lovely wife!

    He attended the Galway film fleadh back in August and spoke afterwards there too. If I were a younger and still violent man I'd have bate the fucker out of the Galway Town Hall Theatre with the crutch he was hobbling around on.

    When exchanging pleasantries with Ed and his Mrs ... did you think of to ask him about the anomalies in the contracts he signed with Boston College and those he then furnished to the project workers? Did you draw attention to the anomalies re the divvy-up of royalties for the book 'Voices From Beyond The Grave' and the subsequent TV programmes and this movie, all of which to the best of my knowledge, excluded the foot-soldiers and equally deserving project workers? (Though I doubt the project workers would have touched that Judas purse).

    Did you fail to think of mentioning the inconsistencies of 'I Dolours'; where Dolours alleged (that) each of the three volunteers present took on shared responsibility as executioner by firing a round each into her body ... and yet only one bullet head was found with the unfortunate woman's remains? Maybe you just nodded and replied in that affectionated artistic way " Sure, sure" when he offer that explanation of 'sand tides' having removed two of the said bullets!

    Fawning over perceived personalities is occasionally allowable Dixie but really, really any 'old dog of war', or 'prison veteran', whatever we may allow for his or her artistic temperament, ought be able to retain some modicum of capacity for rational thinking and critical evaluation.

  3. Dixie et al

    I'm assuming a young actress plays Dolours in recreations of Dolours's early life in the IRA and the rest is documentary, yes? The end of her life is a study in sadness. Does the film touch at all on her slightly bizarre marriage to Stephen Rea? In Ireland there seems to be a mere two degrees of separation.

    Henry JoY

    Mr. Moloney has certainly made out like a bandit. Nobody ever accused him of lacking guile. For a time on the Bakebook he answered my questions or at least replied sardonically. I will always consider myself a student of Irish history and the Troubles, so this Yank was appreciative. Moloney's goodwill seems to have evaporated.

  4. Could you tell us why you just don't use your real name like I and others do to ask these questions Henry Joy instead of hiding behind the name of a brave Republican?

  5. Dixie, we much prefer that commenters do not avail of a moniker. Myself and Henry Joy have had this out in the past. He has opted not to take my advice on board. And the policy is that a moniker is permissible.

  6. I don't respond to demands from fake names Mackers if I did I'd be on Twitter every minute of the day answering the demands for answers from Shinnerbots...

    Henry Joy should have asked Ed these questions in Galway when he had the chance instead of waiting to do it online using a fake name...

  7. Dixie,

    I like Henry Joy but we disagree on the use of monikers.

    I don't believe people should feel obligated to respond to monikers to the same degree they might feel an obligation to respond to open commenters. I regard the moniker much as I regard the burka - the bearer of which I feel no obligation to engage with. At the same time Henry Joy and many others who employ monikers have made great points over the life of this blog. I do think there is an onus on them to play the ball and not the man.

  8. Henry,

    Did you fail to think of mentioning the inconsistencies of 'I Dolours'

    I can't say because I haven't seen the movie but I have have seen several inconsistencies in your post. My understanding is this, Dixie writes a review of 'I Dolours' and mentions in a foot note he enjoyed talking to Ed afterwards,and you are pissed off because when you had the chance to give Ed a piece of your mind you didn't.

    "He attended the Galway film fleadh back in August and spoke afterwards there too I were a younger and still violent man I'd have bate the fucker out of the Galway Town Hall Theatre with the crutch he was hobbling around on.

    Why don't you simply copy your commets here and paste them to The Broken Elbow and tell Ed that only you both aren't in the same place today you would biff him on the nose.

    Get with the programe Henry, you have a problem with Ed , deal with it. It isn't Dixies. All Dixie done was watch a movie, write a review of the evening.

  9. Michael Mahoney,

    your assumptions about the movie are correct ... there's about 10/12 minutes of an interview she gave to Ed which is padded out with re-enactment. Its an interesting piece of work no doubt and particularly so for those not up to full speed on events in the North. And yet even for someone as myself who was familiar with the broad narrative of her life it was a numbing and chilling watch. Her mental health issues, her attempts at self-medication and her early death whilst not directly addressed were all implicit to the narrative. Unfortunately there was no hint of who she was as a person; as a friend, a partner or as a mother and certainly no reference to her celebrity marriage. My own partner, a West Cork woman, remarked on this very strongly and felt the movie lacked for all that.

    Nonetheless Michael its well worth the watch if you get the opportunity ... a salutary and harrowing tale of how violence can reek havoc on the perpetrator too and how even females can be radicalised through the socialisation process. Don't know if its actually true, but I've heard it said that in special forces training, rescuers are encouraged to 'take out' female 'perps' first. Watching 'I Dolours' reminded me of the probable value of that ... and of some other committed female volunteers I met along the way.

  10. Henry JoY

    I'm looking forward to seeing I DOLOURS when it saunters into the Wild Wild West of our American media saloon. You can find everything and nothing over here in the badlands. An Irish friend of mine who knew Dolours well was there for her when many were not. She's filled in some of the gaps of Dolours's life that your Cork partner wanted to see. Their bond is enduring, in life, in death. The sight of Stephen Rea and the kids giving the coffin of Dolours a lift as they walked down familiar streets in Belfast gave me a start. As meta as Flann the Man. Sad too. Happy Thanksgiving to you and to all my Quill pals from this side of the pond.

  11. Micheal,

    though I've a lot more turkey dinners ate than I'll ever eat again ("Fágann go leor sásta leatsa chomh maith mo chara") many happy returns to you too my friend.


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