Seán O’Driscoll’s riveting account of British aristocrat Rose Dugdale’s topsy turvy life resembles a Monty Python thriller. Here is a niece of Oswald Mosley, a member of Britain’s ruling elite, who had once prostrated herself in front of their Queen, who had a long-lasting lesbian fling with her Oxbridge tutor(who gifted Dugdale a well-paid job to further their fun times.)
A woman who rubbed shoulders with Martin Luther King Jr., who hung around with scruffs in London squats, who tried to free Ireland by throwing churnfulls of explosives from a hijacked helicopter onto Strabane.
Going on to have a “very close” relationship with IRA mavericks Rita O’Hare and Marion Price in Limerick Prison, Dugdale subsequently led vigilantes against Dublin drug pushers, with whom her son and his British Army suppliers are alleged to have worked closely.
Calling her son Ruairí, presumably after the late Ruairí Ó Brádaigh whom she reviles and who, along with Jim Monaghan(“Mortar Jim”, the love of her life), indoctrinated Sinn Féin recruits with her British aristocratic brand of Irish republicanism.
Just as with O’Driscoll’s book on David Rupert (the glaringly obvious CIA spy who brought down the RIRA and locked its leader away for twenty years), so also does this well-crafted book on a well-heeled English aristocrat ask a lot of disturbing questions for those who read between its well-honed lines.
Why, for example, was Inga, a pipe-smoking German woman with possible Baader Meinhof and/or German intelligence roots, given the run of Sinn Féin’s national headquarters along with this “eccentric” English aristocrat, whose politics, such as they were, were more akin to those of the Red Brigades than to any known brand of Irish nationalism and/or republicanism?
What was glamorous or revolutionary about the kidnaps and mutilations orchestrated by Rose Dugade and those, like Marion Price, Kevin Mallon and Eddie Gallagher, who were close to her?
Why were there no vigilante marches on Dugdale’s house, given that her son, Ruairí, was a major drug dealer? Why, given the high-tech surveillance equipment the Special Branch deployed against militants like Marion Price and Eddie Gallagher during the Monasterevin siege, could they not deploy that same technology against the West Mayo farm Dugdale and Mortar Jim used to perfect their bombs?
John Cawley’s equally well-written but far more incisive “The Yank: The True Story of a Former US Marine in the Irish Republican Army” hints at some of the answers to those and many other questions. Reading between Cawley’s lines or those of Ed Moloney’s “A Secret History of the IRA“, it seems Gerry Adams and those close to him had not the same aims and objectives of others further down the food chain, the expendables as these flawed opportunists called those, like Cawley, who they wantonly sacrificed on the altars of hunger strikes, blanket protests and early graves to their more unsavoury and infinitely more depraved lusts.
Even leaving aide the Colombian and inner-city Dublin drug money that funded those close to Rose Dugdale, and accepting O’Driscoll’s words that Dugdale is a warm and loving person, there is just too much slime attached to all the laughs and Keystone Cops terrorism that peppers the pages of this fine book.
And now, as Rose Dugdale finishes her chain smoking days in the retirement home for Catholic nuns on Dublin’s swanky Southside where she now resides, many unanswered questions will remain even after Michael D. Higgins or, perhaps, Mary Lou McDonald, Ivana Bacik, or Michelle O’Neill give the obligatory oration over her grave about how this bisexual British mother of a drug dealer brought the war to the Brits and thereby helped usher in today’s drug-ridden country those backwoods men, as the aristocratic Dugdale calls them, the IRA terrorised must now put to rights.
I cannot recommend Cawley’s book or Fitzpatrick’s books on Dugdale and RIRA informant Rupert highly enough, not least because they have set the bar very high for whatever genuine academics who may be out there to tell us the true story as to how and why English aristocats, German pipe-smoking agents and many other men and women who were, as they say, bent as a two bob note, were allowed derail Ireland’s destiny.