M. Ní hA.: Hello, I’m talking to Liam Carey; Liam, I think you were brought up in Harold’s Cross, wasn’t it?
L. C.: That’s true.
M. Ní hA.: Well, can you give me any kind of a run-down on your...
L. C.: I can indeed, well... I was born in 9 Le Vere Terrace Harold’s Cross; my father had been born there in that house and my grandfather had been born in that house. It was a cottage, there were eleven cottages in the whole section. It was eventually extended to thirteen, unlucky for some I’m sure... Eventually it came down… they settled in that area until the Troubles began in 1916; my grandfather was quarter-master and gunsmith for the Volunteers during… in the beginning of the Rising, and afterwards, when it became the Irish Republican Army, extended into Quartermaster General.
M. Ní hA.: Who was your grandfather?
L. C.: My grandfather was known as the ‘Great Dane’, that was his code name ’cos he was huge and he was fair-haired. He was 6’-2” and considered quite a man to deal with in a row, and there are many I am told. During the troubles he had six sons, four of them went with him, in what he was doing. The other two – which one of them was my father who was born in 1916 – was too young to become involved and the second one, Jack, was born two years later in 1918. During the Civil War the family was split. The only daughter that was… the only woman child of the family married a British soldier; obviously was ostracized and hasn’t been spoken to until 1970, unfortunately, when some death in the family procured her presence amongst the rest of us, and hence the problem was over.
I started drinking in The Strip... I suppose I ought to tell you about a couple of uncles. Jim Carey was one of the Twelve Apostles – the bodyguards of Michael Collins, hand-picked for their cold bloodedness. I never found him cold blooded – an extraordinarily kind man, very passive person, a really nice man.
M. Ní hA.: How do you mean he was hand-picked? Who picked them?
L. C.: Michael Collins did. He picked twelve during Bloody Sunday in 1920. I hope I got the dates correct, I probably haven’t. They wiped out the ‘Cairo Gang’, which was the British Secret Service operatives who were operating in Dublin to counter the Irish Republican Army presence, and Collins picked a group of people to go into boarding houses and wipe clean the colonels, lieutenants, captains, majors of British Army presence in southern Ireland, in Dublin, clean, which they duly did. There’s one particular case that’s been written about: my uncle was involved in Baggot Street, he went into a house and they busted in the door – he told me this himself – and the major was in bed with his wife who was very, very pregnant and told him he was going to die, and the major said, ‘well, please not in front of my wife’. So they took him out into the hallway and finished it, and the wife’s baby was born a week later, stillborn. It hung in my uncle’s mind for fifteen, twenty years. Eventually it got to the stage where he wanted to commit suicide and they locked him up in Grangegorman for ten years, with a private room, and so on and so forth, which he I’m sure merited. He used to escape on Easter and Christmas, they never found out how he ever escaped. And he’d come up to my mother, my grandmother, and they hid him until eventually the Gardaí would come around wanting to take him back.