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Tipperary Born J.D. Bernal Most Important Irish Scientist Of Last Century.

“Science should and does serve society” – Quote John Desmond Bernal.

John Desmond Bernal, (1901-I971), one of the most important Irish-born scientists of the last century, was born at Brookwatson, Nenagh, here in North Co. Tipperary.

John’s father was Samuel George Bernal (1864-1919) latter a moderately prosperous Tipperary dairy farmer who had, at the age of 20, run away to Australia from his native home, then in Co. Limerick before returning home following his father’s death.

John’s mother was the American journalist Elizabeth (Bessie) Bernal (nee Miller) (1869-1951 ), the daughter of a Co. Antrim born Presbyterian minister Revd. William Young Miller, then living in Illinois, a state in the Midwestern United States of America.

Both parents had met while on a visit to a seaside resort in Belgium. Bessie is described as being tall, beautiful, energetic, well educated (one of the first students to attend at Stanford University, one of the world’s leading research and teaching institutions), and a much-travelled woman who spoke fluent French. They became engaged within one month of meeting and for convenience, would convert to Roman Catholicism, prior to their marriage on Tuesday, January 9th, 1900.

John was born on Friday, May 10th, 1901, the eldest of 3 brothers and two sisters, who attending first the local Convent school, and later the Church of Ireland national school at Barrack Street, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.
In 1910, their parents decided to send their two eldest sons, John and Kevin, to a Jesuit-run public school in Lancashire, England.

John won a scholarship to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 1919 to eventually read physics and it was here that John developed a strong interest in the developing the science of X-ray crystallography. It was here also that he became an active Marxist, becoming a committed Communist for the rest of his life.

Committed to non-possessive sexual liberation; John married his wife Eileen two days after his graduation, before later maintaining three households with his wife, and two other women, Margot Heinemann and Margaret Gardiner and their four children. In this respect the 4 women knew each other and got on well together.
Bernal had two children (Mike, 1926–2016 and Egan, b.1930), with his wife Agnes Eileen Sprague, a secretary, and referred to as Eileen. They had married on Wednesday, June 21st, 1922, the day after John had been awarded his BA degree. Eileen is also mentioned as his widow in 1990.
In the early 1930’s, he had a brief intimate relationship with chemist Dorothy Hodgkin.
He had a long-term relationship with the artists’ patron Margaret Gardiner. Their son Martin Bernal (1937–2013) was a professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University and the author of the controversial Afrocentric work “Black Athena”. * Margaret referred to herself as “Mrs. Bernal”, though she and John never married.
He also had a daughter Jane, born in 1953, with Margot Heinemann, latter British Marxist writer, drama scholar and leading member of the British Communist Party.

* Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, in three volumes were published in 1987, 1991, and 2006. Same is a controversial and pseudo-historic book published by Martin Bernal, proposing an alternative hypothesis on the origins of ancient Greece and classical civilisation.

John’s encyclopaedic knowledge soon earned him the nickname “Sage”, while at Cambridge University and in 1927, he became the first lecturer in ‘Structural Crystallography’ * and was appointed assistant director of the Cavendish Laboratory at the same University in 1934.
In 1937, John became Professor of Physics at Birkbeck College, a public research university, located in Bloomsbury London, as head of their newly established department of crystallography.

*Crystallography is the experimental science of determining the arrangement of atoms in crystalline solids.

His range of friends included Kruschev, Chairman Mao, Lord Mountbatten, Artists Barbara Hepworth and Pablo Picasso.
Indeed, it was following a cancelled Soviet-sponsored World Peace Congress in Sheffield, that Picasso and other peace activist friends returned to Bernal’s flat at the top of No. 22 Torrington Square, London for a party. It was here also that Picasso created his only mural drawn in Britain, executed on Bernal’s wall. In 2007, it became part of the Wellcome Trust’s collection for £250,000. [The 7ft by 4ft ‘Bernal Picasso’ remains on show in the Birkbeck Clore Management Centre, 27 Torrington Square, London, United Kingdom]

Prior to the outbreak of World War II in 1939; with the likelihood of war against Hitler’s Germany; Bernal, together with Solomon “Solly” Zuckerman, (latter British public servant, zoologist, medic and operational research pioneer, later remembered as a scientific advisor to the Allies on bombing strategy in World War II), felt compelled to voice their protest at the lack of preparation for mounting any form of response against an initial attack and together were effective in challenging the official lines of the then British establishment.

In line with later US President Lyndon Johnson’s infamous remark “What’s the difference between a cactus and a caucus? The cactus has all the pricks on the outside”; in April 1942 a member of Chamberlain’s cabinet, Sir John Anderson, invited Bernal to become his scientific advisor.
The post was accepted by Bernal who suspended his academic activities, before becoming Scientific Adviser to Combined Operations, under Lord Louis Mountbatten,* in spite of his then MI5 dossier. Indeed, prior to Sir John Anderson’s initial invitation; the latter is quoted as saying “even if he is as red as the flames in hell, I want him”.

* Mountbatten would later be assassinated by a bomb planted aboard his fishing boat in Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, Ireland; by members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, on Monday, August 27th, 1979.

John Bernal would devise plans that contributed to the success of the D-Day landings, including co-inventing the “Mulberry temporary portable floating harbour”,* used during the Normandy Invasion (June 6th,1944), to facilitate the rapid offloading of supplies and personnel along the coast of Normandy, France.
He established the physical condition of the beach the allies would land on and instigated aerial photography to create accurate models of the French coastline.

*Mulberry was the codename for all the various different structures that would create the artificial harbours. These were the “Gooseberries” which metamorphosed into fully fledged harbours, allowed the unloading of, in total, over 2.5 million troops, 500,000 vehicles and 4 million tons of wartime supplies.

Following the war he returned to his Chair of Physics at Birkbeck College and in 1946 receive the Council of the Royal Societies award of a Royal Medal for that year, for his work on the structure of proteins and other substances by X-ray methods.


Bernal was awarded the Royal Medal in 1945; the Guthrie lecture in 1947; the Stalin Peace Prize in 1953; the Grotius Gold Medal in 1959 and the Bakerian Lecture in 1962.

In his later years, John Bernal took on the role of a senior statesman of science, travelling the world spreading scientific and social ideas, as a prominent intellectual in political life.
Following a number of strokes; his first on an aircraft as he returned from one of his many trips abroad; he passed away on Wednesday, September 15th, 1971.

Today, the John Desmond Bernal Prize is an award given annually by the Society for Social Studies of Science to scholars, judged to have made a distinguished contribution to the field of Science and Technology Studies; first launched in 1981.


Government Statement On 48th Anniversary Of Dublin-Monaghan Bombings

Here in Co. Tipperary today, we remember two victims of the Dublin bombings; both murdered in the city, forty eight years ago this very day, 17th of May 1974.

In Dublin city three car bombs were detonated without warning, during rush hour.

The first victim, Miss Breda Turner, then aged just 21, was working in the Office of the Revenue Commissioners; the primary State Body responsible for the assessment and collection of taxes and other duties, here in the Republic of Ireland.

Originally from Thurles town in Co. Tipperary, she had moved to Dublin and was engaged to be married on the following Easter. Ms Turner sadly was murdered in the Parnell Street explosion. (See second picture above).

The second victim was Mrs Maureen Shields, aged 46, originally from the village of Hollyford, in Co. Tipperary. Mrs Shields had moved to Dublin, where she had also worked in the Civil Service, until her marriage to husband Leo in 1953. The couple had one son and two daughters.

Mrs Shields, sadly, was murdered in the Talbot Street explosion. (See first picture above).

While the Dublin bombings, in 1974, were the biggest mass murder in the history of the Irish State, no one person has ever been charged with these crimes.

Former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, Baroness Nuala O’Loan (Member of House of Lords of the United Kingdom), previously found that Special Branch officers gave the killers immunity and ensured that the murderers were never brought to justice.

It is at this time also that we remember Mr George Bradshaw, a Tipperary victim of the Dublin bombing of December 1st 1972.

Mr Bradshaw, aged just 30 years, was a bus conductor from Fethard, in Co. Tipperary; one of two male victims who died when a car bomb exploded at Sackville Place, Dublin, at approximately 8.15pm on that fateful day. Both victims were bus drivers with CIE and brutally murdered, having just left the nearby CIE Workers’ Club.

Mr Bradshaw had only moved to Dublin less than two years previously. He was married to loving wife Kathleen, a nurse from Belfast city; both were parents to two young children, Lynn and Rory.

This afternoon in a statement by Mrs Helen McEntee (Minister for Justice) she stated, “For the past two years, it was not possible to hold the remembrance ceremony in the way that we may have wished due to Covid restrictions and it will, I am sure, be a relief to many to be able to meet again in person, this year, to remember all those murdered and injured on this day in 1974.

The Government is fully committed to seeking out the truth behind those events and, hopefully, to secure some measure of comfort for the victims’ families and the survivors. The Good Friday Agreement recognised the need for a particular acknowledgement of the position of victims. The Irish Government will not forget our duty to victims and survivors.

Developing and establishing effective ways to address the legacy of the Troubles is a way to meet the legitimate needs and expectations of all those killed and injured in those dark days, including those victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings who are at the forefront of our minds today”


National Famine Commemoration Ceremony In Strokestown, Co. Roscommon

An Taoiseach Mr Micheál Martin informed a National Famine Commemoration ceremony today in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, that there was no more devastating or traumatic an event in Irish history, than the Great Famine of 1845-1849.

Today’s ceremony also included military honours and a wreath-laying ceremony by ambassadors to Ireland, in remembrance of all those who perished, during this, the last great famine in Europe, caused by the failure of the potato crop over successive years.

Addressing the crowd today, An Taoiseach Mr Micheál Martin said, “It is impossible for us to imagine the feelings of hopelessness, anger and loss experienced by those who suffered through the Famine years.
Famines do not happen in democracies. In fact, there is no recorded account of a famine in a country where the government is freely elected and there was free speech.
I think if you want to know why Ireland didn’t have another famine you will find it in our commitment to self-determination and building a democratic state”.

There was no mention of the Thurles Great Famine Double Ditch demolished by his Fianna Fáil colleagues on the Mill Road, here in Thurles despite several emails sent to his government.

This evening we sent an email to An Taoiseach’s office, asking him to send a copy of today’s address to local Fianna Fáil TD Mr Jackie Cahill and current government supporter Independent TD Mr Michael Lowry.
We trust Mr Cahill will share this address with Fianna Fáil Councillors Mr Sean Ryan and Mr Seamus Hanafin in due course.
[Well, as we are already aware elected Fianna Fáil reps. share everything. View HERE.]

Dublin singer-songwriter Mr Declan O’Rourke also took part in this event, singing two songs from his 2017 album ‘Chronicles of the Great Famine’, namely ‘Poor Boy’s Shoes’ and ‘Go Domhain i do Chiumhne’.

Meanwhile, let’s have a listen to Mr Declan O’Rourke.

Declan O’Rourke – “Poor Boy’s Shoes”

When he met her at the dance, she had flowers in her hair.
There was no girl in this land that could have stood next to her there.
And there everyone could see, how he loved her instantly,
Though he had nothing to give her but his poor boy’s hopes and dreams.

Well he danced with her that summer till it showed on her sweet face.
As she was taken by the warmth of him and all his gentle ways.
Then he swore his love was true
And he married her in poor boy’s shoes.

Well not many years had passed through the grip of his strong hands,
When a great unyielding hunger drew its veil across this land.
His young love soon took ill and with two little mouths to fill,
It took all he could to keep them from the poor house on the hill.
But when his pockets had run dry from crying tears that rang like bells
And their home drew in the wind like an old sea shell.
Then he gathered everything he had to lose,
And he walked them up in poor boy’s shoes.

First God took the little boy,
Then he took the little girl.
And soon their little souls were free from all the sadness in the world.
Their father lifted up his love,
She could no longer walk alone
And from the poor house on the hill,
He took her on the long walk home.

There he felt the cold upon her as he laid her down to rest,
And so he knelt down by her bed and drew her feet up to his chest.
There he tried to warm her cold feet through
And they found him there in poor boy’s shoes.



Jane Austen & Thomas Lefroy – An Affair That Never Blossomed.

In 1795, Mr Thomas Lefroy, a Judge in the North Riding of Co. Tipperary, enjoyed a whirlwind romance with none other than the famous English novelist Jane Austen.

Jane Austen is best remembered primarily for her famous novels, e.g. “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility”, latter which commented on the British middle and upper classes, at the end of the 18th century.
Judge Lefroy served with distinction on the Munster Court circuit for many years and took ‘Silk’ in 1816.
[Note: A Silk lawyer is the colloquial name given to a Queen’s Counsel (QC), who is selected by an independent panel committee, due to their experience, knowledge and skill.]

In 1849, it was the very same Thomas Lefroy, (then Lord Chief Justice of Ireland), who elevated MP (Athlone) and Judge William Nicholas Keogh to Queen’s Counsel. Same Judge Keogh would anger nationalist opinion in Ireland with regard to his conduct in the trial of the Cormack brothers at Nenagh assizes, in March 1857, which was considered a most brutal denial of natural justice.
Later, Judge Keogh’s deteriorating mental health would see him cut his own throat, at a sanatorium in Bingen-on-the-Rhine, Germany, on Monday September 30th 1878, before being buried in Bonn, on the banks of the River Rhine, in Westphalia, Germany.

Novelist Jane Austen

Jane Austen was born on December 16th 1775, in the village of Steventon near Basingstoke, in Hampshire, England, where her father, Rev. George Austen, was then Rector. The family would continue to reside there for the next 25 years until her father retired.
It was here that Jane Austen drafted her first two novels which were eventually published as “Pride and Prejudice” (1813) and “Sense and Sensibility” (Published in 1811 but begun between 1793 and 1795).
Later would come “Mansfield Park” (1814), followed by “Persuasion”; “Northanger Abbey” and “Emma” (1815) latter novel dedicated to the Prince Regent, (later who would become King George IV), an admirer of her work.

[Note: This was the same Prince Regent who had visited the Mathew household in Tipperary and during his visit impregnated Lady Elisha (Elizabeth) Mathew, before heading back to England].

Sadly, the Steventon rectory house itself was demolished soon after the Austen family moved to Bath in Somerset, England in 1801.

After the death of Jane’s father George, in 1805 Jane, her sister Cassandra and their mother moved several times eventually settling in Chawton, near Steventon.

All of Jane Austen’s novels were published anonymously. ‘Sense and Sensibility’ was published as “By a lady” and ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was published as “The author of Sense and Sensibility”

In 1816, Jane began to suffer from ill-health, leading her to travel to Winchester to receive treatment, and it was here she sadly died on July 18th, 1817. There are many theories as to as the primary cause of her death; Addison’s disease (adrenal insufficiency); Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; tuberculosis passed on through exposure to cattle or unpasteurized milk, latter an illness far more common in Jane Austen’s time than it is in more modern times.

Two more novels, ‘Persuasion’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ were now published posthumously and a final novel ‘Sandition’ had been left incomplete. In 2011, this unfinished novel was sold to a ‘The Bodelian Libraries’ on Oxford, at a purchase price of £993,250 (including sales tax).

A grave slab on the floor of Winchester Cathedral where she was buried, mention her birthplace, Steventon. The inscription reads:

“In Memory of Jane Austen, youngest daughter of the late Revd George Austen, formerly Rector of Steventon in this County. She departed this life on the 18th of July 1817, aged 41, after a long illness supported with the patience and the hopes of a Christian.
The benevolence of her heart, the sweetness of her temper, and the extraordinary endowments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew her and the warmest love of her intimate connections.
Their grief is in proportion to their affection. They know their loss to be irreparable, but in their deepest affliction they are consoled by a firm though humble hope that her charity, devotion, faith and purity have rendered her soul acceptable in the sight of her Redeemer”.

Note: Her tombstone makes no mention of her writing as same, during her lifetime, since as already stated, they were published anonymously. However, later commemorations, on a brass plaque and a stained-glass window, do make brief references to her writing.

Inscription on the brass wall plaque reads:

“Jane Austen known to many by her writings, endeared to her family by the varied charms of her Character and ennobled by Christian Faith and Piety, was born at Steventon in the county of Hants (abbreviation of Hampshire) Dec. xvi mdcclxxv, and buried in this Cathedral July xxiv mdcccxvii – She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness Prov xxxi. v. xxvi”.

Thomas Lefroy

The Lefroy Family had initially fled from Flanders to England, in around 1580. Anthony Peter Lefroy, Thomas Lefroy’s father having entered the English army as an Ensign, was posted to Co. Limerick, Ireland. While still a very junior officer he met and married, in 1765, Ann Gardner of Doonass in Co. Clare. Five girls were born to them before, in 1776, a son arrived and was baptised Thomas Langlois Lefroy.

Thomas Lefroy, would serve as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Dublin University in 1830–1841. [Same constituency today currently elects three senators to Seanad Éireann].
He would become a member of the Privy Council of Ireland (1835-1869); Lord Chief Justice of Ireland (1852-1866) and had a noted outstanding academic record at Trinity College Dublin, (1790-1793), winning three gold medals. Having become exhausted from his studies, on advice, he took time away to relax over Christmas (1796), at the Rectory of his Uncle Rev. George Lefroy in Hampshire, some two miles distant from the Rectory home of Miss Jane Austen.

Thomas Lefroy began a flirtation with Miss Jane Austen, who wrote two letters to her sister Cassandra mentioning “Tom Lefroy”.

In a letter dated Saturday January 9th 1796, Jane Austen makes mention:- “You scold me so much in the nice long letter which I have this moment received from you, that I am almost afraid to tell you how my ‘Irish friend’ and I behaved. Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together.
I can expose myself however, only once more, because he leaves the country soon after next Friday, on which day we are to have a dance at Ashe after all.
He is a very gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man, I assure you. But as to our having ever met, except at the three last balls, I cannot say much; for he is so excessively laughed at about me at Ashe, that he is ashamed of coming to Steventon, and ran away when we called on Mrs. Lefroy a few days ago.”

In further correspondence, Jane Austen writes:- “After I had written the above, we received a visit from Mr. Tom Lefroy and his cousin George. The latter is really very well-behaved now; and as for the other, he has but one fault, which time will, I trust, entirely remove; it is that his morning coat is a great deal too light. He is a very great admirer of Tom Jones, and therefore wears the same coloured clothes, I imagine, which he did when he was wounded”.

[Tom Jones above – Refers to a comic novel by English playwright and novelist Henry Fielding]

In a letter begun on Thursday January 14th 1796 and completed on the following morning, Lefroy gets yet another mention:
“At length the day is come on, which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy, and when you receive this, it will be over. My tears flow as I write at the melancholy idea”.

Jane Austen’s surviving correspondence contains only one other possible mention of Tom Lefroy. In the letter to her sister, November 1798, Jane writes that Tom’s aunt Mrs. Lefroy had been to visit, but had not said anything about her nephew.

Jane Austen writes:- “I was too proud to make any enquiries; but on my father’s afterwards asking where he was, I learnt that he was gone back to London in his way to Ireland, where he is called to the Bar and means to practise.”

His great-uncle, Benjamin Langlois, would now sponsor his legal studies at Lincoln’s Inn, London.

In 1797, Thomas returned to Ireland to be called to the Irish Bar, where he would request permission to ask for the hand of Miss Mary Paul, from her father Jeffry Paul. This was duly granted and they both became engaged.

With the outbreak of the 1798 Rebellion the position of the Paul family at Silverspring in Co. Wexford became, to say the least, perilous. Jeffry Paul decided to send his family to Wales, while he himself joined the Yeomanry and fought at New Ross and Wexford.
Silverspring, their home became occupied by the insurgents and was destroyed.
Jeffry Paul wrote to his wife in 1798, “The house, I am told, is standing, but every article of furniture, beds, wine, etc., taken away or destroyed, mostly by the women of the neighbourhood.”

Now having no home with which to return, the Paul family stayed temporarily in Wales and it was at Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales, in the year 1799, that Thomas and Mary were eventually married.

So what if Thomas Lefroy had married Jane Austen? If Jane had come to Tipperary as the wife of an ambitious Munster Court circuit Judge, would we have lost a romantic novelist? We will never, ever, know.

“Men make plans and God laughs”.


T.D’s Malcolm Noonan & Darragh O’Brien, Should Be Relieved Of Heritage Posts.

Having attended school some 15 minutes of driving time from Vinegar Hill, latter one of the scenes of the 1798 Rebellion in County Wexford; it should come as no surprise therefore that I still retain, with pride, a strong interest in all things ‘Wexford’, the county of my birth.

Suspected burial pit on the eastern slope of Vinegar Hill, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.

It was therefore with regret that I read the following post, published yesterday, on the 1798 Rebellion Casualty Database, social media page.

The report reads:- View Here

Today, I’ve been informed of a travesty.
The suspected burial pit on the eastern slope of Vinegar Hill has been deep ploughed with only a small section remaining.
According to sources, this field, not traditionally noted for crops, has seen heavy track machines root up large stones with workers collecting and dumping the stones afterwards.

Instead of a respectful area being maintained, by what has been suspected by recent archaeological geophysical surveys, as the burial pit for hundreds of 1798 battle casualties, the peripheries of the mound have been ebbed away, leaving only the mere centre.

What was a noticeable mound, when viewed from the hill’s car park, is now barely a lump left in the field.

There is no legislation protecting this burial mound nor much of the battlefield site. Already in the last two years, another housing estate has been erected at the Green Hill site; which according to recent archaeological surveys, saw some of the intense fighting on 21st June 1798.

This is yet again another blatant disregard of our heritage in Ireland and the authorities continue to remain blind.
A sickening and downright travesty.

Here, yet again, hypocrisy flourishes when it comes to “Heritage Ireland 2030 Strategy” and now this same duplicity has stretches its arm of apathetic disinterestedness, into Co. Wexford.
Irish Fianna Fáil politician Mr Darragh O’Brien T.D. and Irish Green Party politician Mr Malcolm Noonan T.D., are no longer in control of Co. Council officials and elected Municipal District Councillors and both the former Ministers should be relieved immediately from their posts, associated with valuable Irish heritage.

Within the Green Party, sharing as they do in our current Irish coalition government, we find that same are more interested in spending time arguing over a sod of turf, rather than protecting a valuable heritage, while Tipperary Ógra Fianna Fáil have been brainwashed into believing that our fight for Irish Freedom only began with Eamonn de Valera.