By Joe Kearney

In the summer of 1951 members of the RUC and officials manning the border crossing at Aughnacloy were astonished to be confronted by an unusual traveller at their customs post. A man arrived there demanding permission to travel north towards Belfast.

The man was seated in the rear of a massively impressive and chauffeur driven Ford Customline limousine painted all over in green, white and gold. It flew three pennants, a papal flag, an Irish tricolour and the stars and stripes of the United States.
The occupant was a portly man wearing a silk top-hat and dressed in a formal swallowtail coat.

He demanded access to Northern Ireland claiming that he had an appointment to meet with Sir Basil Brooke, the then Prime Minister.

When warned that it was unsafe to continue the journey in his politically provocative vehicle he brushed the advise aside with an impatient wave of his diamond studded walking cane.

He had an important mission to complete he advised the officials. He was going to purchase the six counties of Northern Ireland from the British Government and would then make a gift of the newly purchased territory to Eamonn DeValera and in one grand gesture reunify the Island of Ireland.

The occupant of the motor car was a gentleman called John J Hanley, who was also known as The Baron of Broadway.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own