Kate Yo ✒ 🔖 Rose Dugdale was the daughter of a retired Colonel of the British Army and millionaire Eric Dugdale. 


Her mother Caroline had previously been married to John Mosley, brother of the fascist Oswald. John was a ladies' man and this along with the controversy over his brother, led to divorce. Caroline wanted out. Finding herself alone with two small sons she was on the look out for a suitable husband. She married Eric Dugdale and they had two daughters, Bridget Rose and Carol.

Rose was one of the last debutantes to meet the queen in 1958. Britain was changing and Rose did not do what was expected of her to find a suitable husband, settle down and produce children. Instead she went to Oxford.

There she was radicalised by the students of the day. Her subject was economics and became strongly influenced by Marx. She often quoted Mao saying revolutionaries should learn from the working class and peasants. While at Oxford during a demonstration she met Walter Heaton. Wally had heard of her, this woman who was giving away her fortune to the poor.

Wally was ex-Coldstream Guards, and had been to Malaya where he was sent to fight terrorists. He found when he got there that he wasn’t fighting terrorists but protecting corporate interests. Heaton hated the British Army for their treatment of Malayans who were forced to live in an interment camp called Kampong Coldstream. Anyone in the town but not in the camp was treated as a terrorist. Inside the camp conditions were harsh and often brutal.

Wally hit it off with Rose. She had learnt of these injustices in the class room while Wally had seen them on the ground. They were like an aphrodisiac to each other and carried on an open an affair, with Rose moving in to the Heaton family home despite his wife and children there. Together they set up the Tottenham Claimants Union, and put homeless families into squats. They became aware of Northern Ireland after watching the situation on television in Rose's flat.

When she first came over to the North she was regarded with deep suspicion. Naturally this English woman who was giving away a fortune was seen as a plant.

Quickly they realised that giving money to pensioners and putting families in to squats is not what was needed at this time; that It was time to take up arms, and over throw British rule in Ireland and rip up the whole British class system. They burgled Eric Dugdale's home while the family were at the races. They were caught and charged, with Heaton getting six years while Rose walked free. The judge believed that Rose had fallen under Heaton's influence and gave her a fine.

Rose looked up to the Price sisters because they were young and idealistic and could see the bigger picture as regards to feminism, and she wanted to help them in some way. By this stage Rose was involved in a relationship with Eddie Gallagher. Although Eddie had met Albert Price in a safe house in Dublin he never told him that he was working on something to help free his daughters. They organised a raid on Rossborough House with Eddie's semiautonomous crew. They believed they could push the British into releasing the sisters in return for the valuable art work. They were very mistaken as Albert Price appealed publicly for the return of the paintings as neither he or his daughters wanted the art work destroyed.

The Garda found the artwork in a cottage that Rose had rented for herself and Eddie. As they searched the cottage and arrested Rose they found the bedroom doors locked. When the guards went to Rose for the keys she asked did they not need a warrant. No, as they had permission from the owner.

Rose was given nine years for this and another nine to go concurrently for the bombing in Strabane.

Rose found herself in Limerick Prison where she was the only woman there. Later she would be joined by Marion Coyle. She asked to speak to her solicitor and when they met Rose gave him a small urine sample as she believed she was pregnant. He wrote to her soon afterwards saying that the answer was yes. The pregnancy was not known to the authorities of the jail until very late in the day, and proved to be a security nightmare.

Rose was delivered of an eight pound blond baby boy. The child could only be with her until breast feeding stopped. After that period was up her solicitor Myles Shevlin and his wife in Chapelizod took the child in.

Eddie had other plans though. He wanted his son to go to the O’Neill family who had a safe house in Navan where he would be given a republican upbringing.

When Rose was released her son remained with the O’Neill family. Her thinking was that her boy was at school and had made friends. She purchased a one bed cottage in Eugene Street in the Coombe.

This area was known as munchkin land and was very near to St Theresa’s Gardens, an area besieged with drugs. At that time in Dublin unemployment was running at 20% and drugs and unemployment were rife.

A priest, Father Smyth, was living in the flats complex and he gathered together mothers from the area to try combat the drug dealers. Youth of St Theresa’s were queued at flat windows and put their money in and received the drugs. Rose led evictions and wanted punishment shootings like there was in the North but republicans thought this would bring a backlash from the guards.

The mothers, some fathers and this priest got in touch with both the Official IRA and the Provisionals. They contacted Christy Burke, a councillor and known republican, but he was reluctant to get involved. Burke's reasoning was that if he were involved the media would think they were IRA. This was true, especially with Rose involved. She had moved from Eugene Street into the flat above the Sinn Fein centre and also worked in their paper and chaired meetings. Ruari was with her at this time, due to John O’Neill’s return to his home town in the North. Rose believed her son would become a target if his relationship with herself and Eddie were known.

While she was in Sinn Fein's office Jim Monaghan (of FARC fame) came in to rejoin the party. He’d been in prison and on his release Dublin City Council had given him a flat in St Theresa’s complex. When Rose and Jim met it was described as love at first sight. She regarded Jim as an intellectual and of almost monastic calm.

Rose wanted a child with him but she was 44 and they could not conceive. Instead, he taught her everything he knew about bombs. 

Sean O’Driscoll was given access to Jim’s as yet unpublished memoir, and the detail it provides was extensive. He was regarded very highly by the IRA but not so with Sinn Fein. He could build a bomb out of anything. When the fertiliser the IRA used wasn’t doing as good as it should, he recommended a German make. He came up with grenades that could do damage to military vehicles: improvised, reducing a mortars recoil by using two packets of digestive biscuits.

Why Rose and Jim fell from Sinn Fein favour was interesting. In the H Blocks republican prisoners engaged on a project of analysing Irish history from a Marxist perspective. A book emerged from that project, Questions Of History, and it was published by the Sinn Fein education department. This caused shock within Sinn Fein. Jim and Rose wanted to produce a follow up book but were told in no uncertain terms there’d be no book.

O’Driscoll writes that Jim visited Rose in the nursing home everyday and that she contacted Covid and survived.

In my interviews with dozens of people for this book – colleagues in Tottenham, fellow inmates in Limerick, students in Clondalkin - not one of them ever questioned Rose’s sincerity.

Sean O'Driscoll, 2022, Heiress, Rebel, Vigilante, Bomber: The Extraordinary Life of Rose Dugdale. Publisher Sandycove. ISBN-13: 978-1844885558


Kate Yo is a Belfast book lover.

Heiress, Rebel, Vigilante, Bomber

Kate Yo ✒ 🔖 Rose Dugdale was the daughter of a retired Colonel of the British Army and millionaire Eric Dugdale. 


Her mother Caroline had previously been married to John Mosley, brother of the fascist Oswald. John was a ladies' man and this along with the controversy over his brother, led to divorce. Caroline wanted out. Finding herself alone with two small sons she was on the look out for a suitable husband. She married Eric Dugdale and they had two daughters, Bridget Rose and Carol.

Rose was one of the last debutantes to meet the queen in 1958. Britain was changing and Rose did not do what was expected of her to find a suitable husband, settle down and produce children. Instead she went to Oxford.

There she was radicalised by the students of the day. Her subject was economics and became strongly influenced by Marx. She often quoted Mao saying revolutionaries should learn from the working class and peasants. While at Oxford during a demonstration she met Walter Heaton. Wally had heard of her, this woman who was giving away her fortune to the poor.

Wally was ex-Coldstream Guards, and had been to Malaya where he was sent to fight terrorists. He found when he got there that he wasn’t fighting terrorists but protecting corporate interests. Heaton hated the British Army for their treatment of Malayans who were forced to live in an interment camp called Kampong Coldstream. Anyone in the town but not in the camp was treated as a terrorist. Inside the camp conditions were harsh and often brutal.

Wally hit it off with Rose. She had learnt of these injustices in the class room while Wally had seen them on the ground. They were like an aphrodisiac to each other and carried on an open an affair, with Rose moving in to the Heaton family home despite his wife and children there. Together they set up the Tottenham Claimants Union, and put homeless families into squats. They became aware of Northern Ireland after watching the situation on television in Rose's flat.

When she first came over to the North she was regarded with deep suspicion. Naturally this English woman who was giving away a fortune was seen as a plant.

Quickly they realised that giving money to pensioners and putting families in to squats is not what was needed at this time; that It was time to take up arms, and over throw British rule in Ireland and rip up the whole British class system. They burgled Eric Dugdale's home while the family were at the races. They were caught and charged, with Heaton getting six years while Rose walked free. The judge believed that Rose had fallen under Heaton's influence and gave her a fine.

Rose looked up to the Price sisters because they were young and idealistic and could see the bigger picture as regards to feminism, and she wanted to help them in some way. By this stage Rose was involved in a relationship with Eddie Gallagher. Although Eddie had met Albert Price in a safe house in Dublin he never told him that he was working on something to help free his daughters. They organised a raid on Rossborough House with Eddie's semiautonomous crew. They believed they could push the British into releasing the sisters in return for the valuable art work. They were very mistaken as Albert Price appealed publicly for the return of the paintings as neither he or his daughters wanted the art work destroyed.

The Garda found the artwork in a cottage that Rose had rented for herself and Eddie. As they searched the cottage and arrested Rose they found the bedroom doors locked. When the guards went to Rose for the keys she asked did they not need a warrant. No, as they had permission from the owner.

Rose was given nine years for this and another nine to go concurrently for the bombing in Strabane.

Rose found herself in Limerick Prison where she was the only woman there. Later she would be joined by Marion Coyle. She asked to speak to her solicitor and when they met Rose gave him a small urine sample as she believed she was pregnant. He wrote to her soon afterwards saying that the answer was yes. The pregnancy was not known to the authorities of the jail until very late in the day, and proved to be a security nightmare.

Rose was delivered of an eight pound blond baby boy. The child could only be with her until breast feeding stopped. After that period was up her solicitor Myles Shevlin and his wife in Chapelizod took the child in.

Eddie had other plans though. He wanted his son to go to the O’Neill family who had a safe house in Navan where he would be given a republican upbringing.

When Rose was released her son remained with the O’Neill family. Her thinking was that her boy was at school and had made friends. She purchased a one bed cottage in Eugene Street in the Coombe.

This area was known as munchkin land and was very near to St Theresa’s Gardens, an area besieged with drugs. At that time in Dublin unemployment was running at 20% and drugs and unemployment were rife.

A priest, Father Smyth, was living in the flats complex and he gathered together mothers from the area to try combat the drug dealers. Youth of St Theresa’s were queued at flat windows and put their money in and received the drugs. Rose led evictions and wanted punishment shootings like there was in the North but republicans thought this would bring a backlash from the guards.

The mothers, some fathers and this priest got in touch with both the Official IRA and the Provisionals. They contacted Christy Burke, a councillor and known republican, but he was reluctant to get involved. Burke's reasoning was that if he were involved the media would think they were IRA. This was true, especially with Rose involved. She had moved from Eugene Street into the flat above the Sinn Fein centre and also worked in their paper and chaired meetings. Ruari was with her at this time, due to John O’Neill’s return to his home town in the North. Rose believed her son would become a target if his relationship with herself and Eddie were known.

While she was in Sinn Fein's office Jim Monaghan (of FARC fame) came in to rejoin the party. He’d been in prison and on his release Dublin City Council had given him a flat in St Theresa’s complex. When Rose and Jim met it was described as love at first sight. She regarded Jim as an intellectual and of almost monastic calm.

Rose wanted a child with him but she was 44 and they could not conceive. Instead, he taught her everything he knew about bombs. 

Sean O’Driscoll was given access to Jim’s as yet unpublished memoir, and the detail it provides was extensive. He was regarded very highly by the IRA but not so with Sinn Fein. He could build a bomb out of anything. When the fertiliser the IRA used wasn’t doing as good as it should, he recommended a German make. He came up with grenades that could do damage to military vehicles: improvised, reducing a mortars recoil by using two packets of digestive biscuits.

Why Rose and Jim fell from Sinn Fein favour was interesting. In the H Blocks republican prisoners engaged on a project of analysing Irish history from a Marxist perspective. A book emerged from that project, Questions Of History, and it was published by the Sinn Fein education department. This caused shock within Sinn Fein. Jim and Rose wanted to produce a follow up book but were told in no uncertain terms there’d be no book.

O’Driscoll writes that Jim visited Rose in the nursing home everyday and that she contacted Covid and survived.

In my interviews with dozens of people for this book – colleagues in Tottenham, fellow inmates in Limerick, students in Clondalkin - not one of them ever questioned Rose’s sincerity.

Sean O'Driscoll, 2022, Heiress, Rebel, Vigilante, Bomber: The Extraordinary Life of Rose Dugdale. Publisher Sandycove. ISBN-13: 978-1844885558


Kate Yo is a Belfast book lover.

6 comments:

  1. And there's me thinking Jim Monaghan was truly a birdwatcher who travelled to Colombia on a fake passport to observe their peace process and not train FARC in exchange for narcodollars. Who'd have thunk it?

    Especially his daring escape by sea...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He could have done worse Steve - he could have trained the government forces.

      Delete
    2. AM,

      True, but no need to insult us by claiming it was anything other. I did laugh at the original birdwatching holiday excuse 🤣

      Delete
  2. Terrific review of a terrific woman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. agreed Sam - I just could never understand why she stuck with them when she recognised the rightward trajectory.

      Delete
  3. Kate Yo - love your reviews and thanks for putting them our way.

    ReplyDelete