Irish boy jailed for playing football

I was shocked and puzzled when I made this particular discovery. There does not seem to be any sub-story or political overtones about this grievous offence. It’s as straightforward as the headline. A schoolboy plays football, and is charged with the offence of playing football, and ends up in prison alongside hardened adult criminals.

Here’s the offence as written by the prison clerk upon the poor lad’s admission to Mountjoy Prison in Dublin. 1907 playing footballJohn Honer was a 15 year-old lad in November 1907. He was just four feet, five and a half inches tall, and weighed in at a worryingly undernourished 77 lbs. Despite all this, the local constabulary, and the judiciary, and the prison service, thought it right and proper that this tiny schoolboy should be removed from Dublin’s streets to make it a safer place for the law-abiding majority. In court, he was fined one shilling and sixpence when convicted of his misdemeanor. Obviously, the boy was not carrying this amount of cash, so he was thrown into jail sharing cells with drunkards, beggars and fighting men.

Thankfully, the family of young John Honer soon paid for the release of the dangerous footballer. Hopefully, he was not scarred for life by his experiences at the mercy of the custodians of pre-Free Irish State law.

1907 Prison Register (crime of playing football)

                    There’s young footballer John Honer … on the bottom line

You would be forgiven for thinking that this sad event was linked to the British authorities’ ban on the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and their ancient Irish sports. The Brits suspected that GAA sports meetings were also used to rouse anti-British feeling and recruit rebel soldiers – and their suspicions were right, of course. But GAA games were never banned outright, and it was as late as 1916 when a decree from Dublin Castle insisted that permits must be sought for organised competitions. The GAA ignored the order and, in an act of outright defiance, increased the number of official fixtures on the following weekend. An estimated 54,000 GAA members played their beloved games on Gaelic Sunday [August 14] 1918. I hope “big” Johnny Honer was one of them.

 

1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 12) THE END OF THE ROAD

After a night’s rest in Belfast, it was time to head down south again, but the first stop was in County Down on the Down side of the River Lagan. Lily and family paused to admire the relatively new Parliament Buildings on the Stormont Estate. ??????????????????????????????????? Sir Arnold Thornley was commissioned to design the home of Northern Irish democracy as early as 1920; the architect chose to create a building in classical Greek style. Work did not commence on Thornley’s design until 1922, and after many re-designs including extra storeys, the building was not officially opened until late in 1932. The English Prince of Wales did the honours; a man who was to serve as King Edward VIII of the UK for less than 12 months during 1936.

???????????????????????????????????Lily Parker’s second 1961 photo captures the magnificence of the Stormont structure beyond blooming flowerbeds. Perhaps it also captures Lily’s growing confidence with her camera and creativity.

In my opinion, the next and last photo encapsulates the whole character and innocence of the Parker family’s visit to Ireland in the summer of 1961.

O'Connell Street, Dublin

Photo #61 of 61 taken in 1961

At first glance, it appears to be a typical Irish tourist’s photo of O’Connell Street in Dublin. Then the car models and tobacco advertising signs provide evidence of a bygone era. Is that a nifty Ford Anglia I see at the back of the queue for the traffic lights? But most of all, there is a symbol of British imperialism in the distance which would not remain intact in 5 years time. Yes – Lily captured one of the few colour photos showing Nelson’s Pillar just beyond the Dublin GPO. In March 1966, Republican activist’s decided to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising by blowing the despised figure of Admiral Horatio Nelson from his plinth. This statue had been completed in 1809, a full 34 years before London could boast about their famous Nelson’s Column.

1966 March - Nelson's Pillar, O'Connell St, Dublin

                                        Oh dear …. where’s Horatio gone?

Irish Republicans still proudly declare that their bombing expertise in 1966 caused no serious injuries or collateral damage to property in the busy Dublin city centre. Yet,1966 March - Nelson's Pillar remains, O'Connell St, Dublin when the finest British Army ordnance experts concocted a plan to demolish the remains of Nelson’s Pillar later that year, the resultant “controlled” explosion damaged shop fronts and buildings up and down Dublin’s main thoroughfare.

Nelson’s head was later stolen by Irish students (from its Dublin custodians) and secretly displayed as a trophy of war at many a Republican fund-raising concert throughout the following years.

Time to catch the ferry back home.

Those Irish know how to have a good laugh