Sunday Independent article- by Eoghan Harris
(Fearless Mary Lindsay has better right to be a feminist icon than Markievicz)
I wish to respond to the above article, in which Mr .Harris ,in my opinion , very unfairly and narrowly portrays my grandfather Frank Busteed , V/C 6th Battalion , Cork No. Brigade IRA(later V/C of 6th during the Civil War). in the events surrounding the aftermath of the Dripsey Ambush (28/1/1921) during the Irish War of Independence.
Particularly in the way he interprets the reasons for the execution of Mary Lindsay ( and her driver James Clarke ), after she passed information of the ambush to the British Army at Ballincollig Barracks, Co Cork-leading to the ambushers in fact being ambushed themselves, the death of one volunteer from wounds, and the trial and execution of six others at Victoria Barracks Cork., despite pleas from prominent citizens and the Bishop of Cork to commute the sentences.
Mr Harris states Lindsay ‘s motives were to save lives on both sides. This may or may not be so , her action could also have been motivated by extreme loyalism, for which she was known, she also had close connections with the military . Very few people of her background involved themselves , knowing as she must have also known that especially since the declaration of Martial law in Cork in Dec 1920, the risks involved. Therefore she could not have been unaware of the jeopardy she placed herself in in taking such direct action in the midst of a war.
Mr Harris also compares Mary Lindsay to Constance Markievicz in better deserving the status of feminist icon . this is a baffling conclusion in the light of how the long career and how much Markievicz gave in to fight for independence,
Also stated in the article was the accusation of sectarianism in the killing of protestant s Lindsay and Clarke, whereas Fr Shinnick catholic priest was spared. The long and bitter debate over the past 20 years on sectarianism in the War of Independence, particularly in the Cork and county area has been firmly disproved in academic researches by UCC , Cork and others in recent years(and the reason s for protestant decline analysed in great detail between 1911 and 1924, the decline during War of Independence and Civil War being a fraction of the total., the reasons being many and varied-WW1, economic etc) Additionally to kill a catholic priest. (or religious of any denomination )would have been unthinkable , not least because of alienating communities supporting the volunteers.
Mr Harris states Frank Busted was not protestant but of mixed parentage-that is true . But from my own family research , family memories and present day family connections , it is clear to me that he was on the best of terms with both his paternal protestant side, and maternal .
One’s religion mattered little to him , he was primarily motivated by a desire for independence and equality of opportunity for all.
War is not pleasant for either side in a conflict , and it is also disingenuous to view it in from a contemporary lense .
Finally, Mr Harris states that Frank Busteed ‘shamlessly’ based his Military Services Pension Claim on the killing of a lone widow. This is patently ridiculous and insulting to say the least. Frank Busteed’s military career spanned 1917-1923 and he was involved in most of the actions around Cork , suffering hardship and on the run , as did all the most active volunteers. The pension board were known for their rigour in examining claims and indeed were very slow to grant pensions unless well deserved, indeed even those who deserved were often not granted a pension..
The records are there for all to see now., including the long and cumbersome interrogation of claimants, often years waiting and frequently not granted.
Frank Busteed after the war, ran a successful business in New York, and later on returning to Ireland served as Lieutenant in the Irish Army during the Emergency.
He was also a well read man , much has been written about him during the revolutionary period.
A full biography of his life is underway.
(grandson of Frank Busteed)