Crumley/Morrison - The Connection


One: Last week Cathal Crumley of Derry became the first Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of an Irish city since Terence MacSwiney in Cork in 1920. Two: Crumley was once charged with IRA offences on the sole testimony of Raymond Gilmour, an informer. Three: Gilmour was described by the trial judge as "entirely unworthy of belief." Four: Gilmour's subsequent book, 'Dead Ground', is a work of fiction. Five: Liam O'Flaherty was not a tout but he also wrote works of fiction. Six: His most famous work of fiction was 'The Informer'. Seven: O'Flaherty's book was adapted for cinema by John Ford. Eight: John Ford also made 'The Quiet Man'. Nine: The star of 'The Quiet Man' was John Wayne. Ten: John Wayne's real name was Marion Morrison. One hundred: Although I am not called after a girl, Morrison is also my real name, and that, folks, is how our family is connected to the famous Crumleys of Derry, and not, ahhh, the Maskeys of Andersonstown, or somewhere about there.

So, Cathal Crumley is the first citizen of Derry and his portrait will come to adorn the marble halls of the Guildhall, while Raymond Gilmour, who tied his colours to the British, is the most despised. He was in the news last month when it was revealed that his MI5 masters, frustrated at his inability to keep his mouth shut, offered him a one-off payment of £12,000 if he would give a signed undertaking not to make any further disclosures about his dirty deeds.

In his book, 'Dead Ground', which reads like a fifth-rate, rip-off of 'Angela's Ashes', he describes himself as coming from 'Londonderry'. According to him, all the people in Creggan are thieves, all the men beat up their wives, who in turn beat up their kids. "The Creggan was windswept and dirty, the people shabbily-dressed…" About his family he says that his mother had a history of mental illness, that his father was a boozer. Two of his brothers, "beat up my sisters and me and tried to make us drink their piss." One also, "forced me to keep my school dinner and bring it home after school so that he could eat it."

After he fled Derry Gilmour found out just how much his British friends thought of him: "I expected a bit of respect for what I'd done, but they seemed to look down on me." Another minder, "who was nice as pie to my face, was saying what a bastard I was and calling me all the names under the sun."

About one INLA comrade who was killed by the SAS he wrote: "if ever a person deserved to die, it was Neil McMonigle." Gilmour, who was paid £200 a week, tipped off his RUC handler about an INLA robbery during which Colm McNutt, Gilmour's best friend was shot dead. Which leads, appropriately, into a powerful poem by the late Argentinean writer, Jorge Luis Borges:

The Spy
In the public glare of battles
others gave their lives for their country
and are remembered in marble.
I gave it other things.
I forswore my honour,
I betrayed those who believed me their friend,
I purchased consciences,
I abominated the name of my country,
I gave myself up to infamy.

Victor McLaglen, played the eponymous role of Gypo Nolan, the informer, in John Ford's 1935 classic. It was out of hunger, not greed, that Gypo informed on his best friend, Frankie McPhillip, who was then shot dead. Before the film closes Gypo has been fatally wounded by the IRA and begs Mrs McPhillip's forgiveness. However, don't put on the kettle, expecting some remorse from Gilmour.

In 1921 John Ford visited Galway (where his parents were born) after an informer had tipped off the Black and Tans that his cousins, the Thorntons, were republican sympathisers. In fact, Ford's cousin was in the IRA, and in reprisal the Tans burnt the family home to the ground. Ford became a strong supporter of Irish republicanism and when he returned to Ireland in 1952 to make 'The Quiet Man' he tipped his hat to the IRA in a little-known tribute.

He named the hero, played by John Wayne, 'Sean Thornton': Sean, after Ford's Irish Christian name, and Thornton, after his IRA cousin's surname! Can't see too many heroes being named after Judas Gilmour.

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© 2007 Irish Author and Journalist - Danny Morrison