How well and generously he kept that promise these pages will show.
A CAMPAIGN OF EXTERMINATION
Mr O’Brien went abroad in March 1909, leaving his friends in membership of the Irish Party. His last injunction to us was that we should do nothing unnecessarily to draw down the wrath of “the bosses” upon us and to work as well as we might in the circumstances conscientiously for the Irish cause. I had some reputation, whether deserved or otherwise, as a successful organiser, and I wrote to Mr Redmond offering my services to re-establish the United Irish League in my own constituency or in any other place where it was practically moribund. I received a formal note of acknowledgment and heard not a word more, nor was my offer ever availed of. On the contrary, the fiat went forth that the constituencies of those who had for five years remained staunch and steadfast to the policy of Conciliation should be organised against them and that not a friend of Mr O’Brien should be allowed to remain in public life. We were not yet actually cut off from the Party or its financial perquisites, but in all other ways we were treated as political pariahs and outcasts and made to feel that there was a rod in pickle for us.
In the autumn of 1909 I was attending my law lectures in Dublin when it was conveyed to me that a raid on my constituency was contemplated, that the officials at the League headquarters in Dublin were, without rhyme or reason, returning the affiliation fees of branches which were known to be friendly to me, and that a Divisional Conference of my enemies was summoned for the purpose of “organising” me out of Mid-Cork. I immediately resolved that if the issue were to be knit at all the sooner the better, and I took my own steps to circumvent the machinations of those who were out, so to speak, for my blood. Hence when the bogus delegates were brought together in Macroom one Saturday afternoon a little surprise awaited them, for as they proceeded to the Town Hall to deliberate their plans for my overthrow, another and a more determined militant body, with myself at their head, also marched on the same venue. There was a short and sharp encounter for possession of the hall: the plotters put up a sorry fight; they were soon routed, and my friends and myself held our meeting on the chosen ground of our opponents. Moreover, Mr Denis Johnston, the Chief Organiser of the League, who had come down from Dublin with all his plans for my extermination cut and dried, dared not take the train that evening in the ordinary course from the Macroom station, but, like a thief in the night, stole out of the town in a covered car and drove to a station farther on.