The Civic Guard

John Peterson has sent in some photos of the Irish Civic Guard.
One of the guard is hiscousin Sean Doherty’s Dad , who’s service was in Limerick. Thanks for the great photo’s John.

Irish civic guard

Irish civic guard

Irish Volunteers Commemorative Society

The Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation were at the Killarney Outlet centre last weekend on Saturday November the 5.th. It was nice to visit Co.Kerry again, we hope to be back again and as soon as we we visit the remaining counties we hope to visit Tralee.
http://irishvolunteers.org/2011/11/irish-volunteers-at-the-irish-soldier-exhibition-at-the-killarney-outlet-centre/

The Black & Tans: British Police and Auxiliaries in the Irish War of Independence, 1920 -1921. By David M. Leeson

A Book review by Padraig O’Ruairc.

The Black & Tans: British Police and Auxiliaries in the Irish War of Independence, 1920 -1921. By David M. Leeson Oxford University Press Hardback £30

With the centenaries of the 1916 Rising and War of Independence fast approaching a whole raft of books of widely varying quality are being published on the Irish revolutionary period from 1913 -1923. So far the majority of these books have focused on the lives and exploits of the 1916 rebels, and republican guerrillas – but Leeson, a Canadian historian, has instead opted to write about the Black & Tans and R.I.C. Auxiliaries. Leeson’s book “The Black & Tans” is not the first on the subject: Richard Bennett’s book “The Black and Tans” was first published in 1959, and last year Ernest McCall published “Tudors Toughs. A Study of The Auxiliary Division Royal Irish Constabulary 1920 -1922.” However Leeson’s book is the first academic work to take a look at the Black & Tans / R.I.C. Auxiliaries and is without doubt the best book yet published on the subject.

Leeson’s book starts by charting the British Governments difficulties in maintaining control in Ireland, and maintaining the integrity of the R.I.C., in the face of growing republican militancy from 1918 onwards. This led the British government to begin recruiting ex-soldiers in Britain and through the Empire as members of the R.I.C. which had traditionally been an Irish dominated police force. Leeson conducts a statistical analysis of the 1,153 men who joined the R.I.C. in October 1920 using it as a sample against which to test the enduring myth that the Black and Tans were jailbirds from England who had been specifically released from prison to join the R.I.C.  He also documents the experiences of members of the Black & Tans and Auxiliaries during the war, with separate sections on their experience of ambushes, assassination attempts, barracks attacks and after being captured by the I.R.A. He examines the role that Black & Tans and Auxiliaries played in British reprisal killings and arson attacks and asks what drove these men commit these acts.

Throughout Leeson’s book is well structured, well argued and clearly written. Leeson’s book is one that anyone interested in the War of Independence will undoubtedly learn something from. His work is at its strongest when he is analysing the development of the British Government’s policing policy in Ireland and R.I.C. recruitment from 1919 onwards. However Leeson’s work is most flawed in his examination of events at a local level which seriously detracts from what would otherwise have been a very good book. Leeson chooses the police jurisdiction of Galway West Riding as his case study for the War of Independence . His narrative of the conflict in the county is weak, contains a number of factual errors and is overly reliant on the official British version of events.

For example when dealing with the sensitive issue of spies Leeson states that the I.R.A. in Galway West executed five suspected spies. This is incorrect – two of these men, Thomas Molloy and Thomas McKeever, were killed by the Black & Tans. In his footnotes Leeson raises the possibility “that the police killed Molloy under a false flag”. Yet in the main body of the text he sticks to the official British version of events that Molloy had been killed by the I.R.A. and Leeson counts him as a victim of I.R.A. violence.

Leeson doesn’t express any similar doubts about his claim that the I.R.A. killed McKeever. Leeson’s research would have benefited from better use of the statements of Galway I.R.A. veterans collected by the Bureau of Military in the 1950‘s. Thomas Mannion an I.R.A. officer from Dunmore, where McKeever was killed, stated categorically that McKeever was not a spy and that he had been killed by the R.I.C. (See Thomas Mannion BMH WS 1408 Pages 15 – 16 National Archives Dublin) Leeson also states that the body of Patrick Joyce one of the three suspected spies who were actually shot by the I.R.A. – “was never found.” However Joyce’s body was discovered and disinterred by An Garda Siochana in 1998. Given the controversies and debates that have arisen concerning the execution of suspected spies by the I.R.A. during the War of Independence Leeson should have researched these cases in much more depth.

Leeson also makes some mistakes when recording the geography of the region. For example he refers to a police riot in Caltra, Galway as having happened in Longford, and states that an I.R.A. ambush in Ballinderry, Roscommon happened in Mayo. To be fair, Leeson probably made these errors simply because he over reliant on these contemporary British newspapers rather than other more reliable sources, but this is another flaw which again detracts somewhat from the overall quality of the work.

There are other aspects of Leeson’s work on the War of Independence in the West of Ireland which are also disappointing. Leeson’s account of the Rineen Ambush (22nd September 1922) which took place near Milltown Malbay in County Clare is poorly researched. Leeson repeats the revisionist version of the ambush proposed by the Richard Abbott in his book “Police Casualties in Ireland 1919 – 1922”. According to Leeson six members of the RIC were ‘massacred’ at Rinneen “where the guerrilla’s were suspected of using dum dum bullets and finishing off the wounded.” The deaths of R.I.C. men killed by the I.R.A. were usually recorded on the R.I.C. register as having been “Murdered by Sinn Feiners” – however the registrar recording the death of Reginald Hathaway states that he was simply “Killed in ambush.” This record of  Hathaway’s death at Rineen seems to contradict the version of events which maintains that the I.R.A. had ‘massacred’ the R.I.C. or ‘finished off the wounded.’

Leeson’s various references following the Rineen ambush, while mentioning the reprisals against property and rioting which followed failed to explore in any depth the full scale of the reprisal killings which occurred. Leeson quotes a contemporary report from the Manchester Guardian newspaper which claimed that after the ambush “two men were killed in Ennistymon …both of them were ‘marked’ men – men believed to have Sinn Fein Connections.’ Infact six people were killed in R.I.C. / Black & Tan reprisals following the Rinneen ambush including two elderly men and a teenage girl – Norah Fox. Only one of the six, Patrick Lehane, was an active member of the I.R.A.

On pages 127 and 128 Leeson discusses in detail the use of the steamship ‘Shannon’ by G Company of the Auxiliaries who were stationed at the Lakeside Hotel at Killaloe in Clare. He describes in detail the damage that was done to the boat by the Auxiliaries and states that the boat was “too slow, old and expensive for G Companies purposes”. However Leeson fails to mention what purposes the Auxiliaries had intended the boat for. The Shannon was used by the Auxiliaries to abduct and kill three members of the I.R.A.( Michael Mc Mahon, Alfred Rodgers & Martin Gildea) and a civilian (Mike Egan) who after being interrogated were tied together and shot dead on Killaloe Bridge. Leeson failed to mention this event in his book. It is a pity that Leeson overlooked this, since this multiple killing would have been far more relevant to his thesis than a discussion on the Auxiliaries yachtsmanship!

Leeson has produced some great research on the reprisals carried out by Irish members of the regular R.I.C. during the War of Independence. However he missed a great opportunity by not examining the role played by Irishmen who joined the Black & Tans and Auxiliaries. Although the traditional Irish narrative states that Black & Tans were all Englishmen, recent archival work by W.J. Lowe has shown that approximately 10% of the Black & Tan’s recruits and 14% of the Auxiliaries were Irishmen. (For more see Lowe, W.J. “Who were the Black-and-Tans?” History Ireland Autumn 2004.) By contrast on page 108 Leeson excludes 16 men from his sample of Black & Tans who joined the force in October 1920 “for being Irish.” Yet the Irishmen who joined the R.I.C. as Temporary Constables (Black & Tans) or R.I.C. Auxiliary Cadets would have been party to the same pay, conditions, and uniform shortages as their British counterparts. Here Leeson has missed a great opportunity to examine whether Irishmen joined the Black & Tans or Auxiliaries because they were had suffered I.R.A. intimidation or because it was a natural step for those who had Loyalist political sympathies.

I was also a bit disappointed by the brevity of the conclusion as I felt that the author could have done more to develop definite conclusions and to construct an argument about the role of the Black & Tans and Auxiliaries in the War of Independence. For example Leeson fails to explain why the British Army did not earn an equally odious reputation in Irish history and folk memory as that afforded to the Black & Tans when their actions during the War of Independence were often comparable.

Despite these stated flaws Leeson’s book is a very good effort. It is by far the best book yet written on the subject of the Black & Tans / R.I.C. Auxiliaries and is set to become recommended reading for those studying this period of Irish history and I eagerly  look forward to seeing more of his work on the period.

BOOK REVIEW – “THE MUNSTER REPUBLIC:THE CIVIL WAR IN NORTH CORK” BY MICHAEL HARRINGTON

BOOK REVIEW – “THE MUNSTER REPUBLIC:THE

CIVIL WAR IN NORTH CORK” BY MICHAEL

HARRINGTON

“They had spent two years on the run fighting the might of the British army… The vast majority of the Volunteers were young men plucked from working on the land or from employment as clerks in offices or shops. Some of the officers had second-level education, few had third-level qualifications, and the education of most of the Volunteers would have ended at primary-school level. Their understanding of national freedom was narrow; in essence it meant the ejection from the country of British troops and the British system of government, and its replacement with a form of government that they believed was free and fundamentally Irish. Consequently, the vast majority of the Volunteers did not have the opportunity to consider the concept of republicanism in any depth, let alone the implications of democracy.

“Republicanism for the Volunteers was shorthand for anti-British nationalism, combined with traditional insurrectionism. Republicanism was an expression of Irish identity, and the cry of “Up the Republic” was hurled provocatively at the hated occupying forces. It did not have any philosophical basis. Nor did it imply any future structure of government beyond a native Irish government based on self-determination.”

These were the preconditions of the ‘Civil War’ according to a book called The Munster Republic: The Civil War In North Cork by Michael Harrington published in 2009 by the Mercier Press. The book “started out as a thesis”. It is the “third level qualification” view of the War of Independence: it was fought by ignoramuses who did not know what they were fighting for, did not know what republicanism was, or what democracy was, and who therefore did not know when to stop fighting.

But who “plucked” them from their labour in the farms and the offices, gave them a few war-cries to utter, and put them fighting without a “philosophical basis “? Surely it was in England that was done, with virtual conscription followed by actual conscription! Or in Redmondite Ireland, which siphoned people into the British Army with crude shibboleths. But never mind the facts. Learn to feel the feelings of our new quality education which aspires to comprehensive thought control.

What did the plucking is not material. The story is that the ignorant lower classes were plucked from useful labour in farms and shops—what, no tradesmen! were they Poles even then?— and put fighting in the IRA without knowing what they were fighting about.

“In post-First World War Ireland, democracy was sometimes interpreted in different ways. Universal suffrage among males was in its infancy, women did not have the right to vote [!!!], and the implications of full civil rights for all had not been addressed. Some people believed that a democratic government based on the will of all the people… was appropriate. But many others believed that government decisions should be based on general collective will demonstrated over several generations of Irish people, and that doctrines embedded in this general will should influence decision-making in government, even if the expressed will of the majority of the people at a certain point was otherwise. Hence the view that the majority did not have the right to do wrong… In this way republicans could justify taking up arms against the majority of the country because the will of earlier generations had been a complete break from, not the reaching of an accommodation with, Britain…” (p137).

Now this is puzzling. The ignorant Volunteers plucked from the farms and shops had an understanding of things drawn from the most philosophical of all modern political theorists, Edmund Burke, who held that the present generation had no right to do as they pleased, but were bound to preserve the inheritance of past generations and transmit it to future generations. And C.C. O’Brien told us we should revere Burke, did he not?

Harrington’s quite short Bibliography includes two books by Peter Hart (who of course interviews the dead) and three by Tom Garvin. He seems to have been much influenced by the view of things expounded in Garvin’s 1922: The Birth Of Irish Democracy.

Garvin in 1922 puts one in mind of Nietzsche on the immoral history of morality and the taming by violence of human impulse in the cause of civilisation. The ‘Civil War’ brought us to our senses—or it tortured our senses into the bourgeois/capitalist mould. The ‘Civil War’ was about forcing a wild society—a society made wild by its newly established independence gained in a surge of unrealistic expectations—into the narrow constraints of bourgeois life under capitalism.

Garvin does not accept that a genuine will to independence was expressed in 1918. He says that the Election, though policed by the British apparatus of state, was rigged by a small minority of Republican intimidators. (He says that in some places and says something else in other places, but that is the sense of his account of the ‘Civil war’.)

By means of skilfully directed terrorism the small, active minority, obliged the populace to behave as if they had willed independence and fought for it against the Imperialistic intransigence of the British Democracy. Because the people had not willed what they fought for they did not know when they had gained it. Britain conceded independence with the Treaty, but it did not live up to the unrealistic expectations of those who had been excited by the fighting. Therefore they did not want what they had won, and it had to be imposed on them by superior force by an active authoritarian element which knew what freedom meant if it was to be functional. Viable democracy emerged from the purposeful infliction of pain on the idealists by the authoritarians.

Garvin etc. make a point of seeing Ireland post-1918 in what they think is an international context. They mean that what happened in Ireland was of a kind with what was happening elsewhere.

It is not at all impossible that a people should fight for independence with anarchic assumptions about what independence would be like, and should then be hammered into shape by purposeful authoritarians. Something like that happened even in Italy, which disrupted itself through its Irredentist war on Austria (egged on by Britain and the Redmondites). It emerged from  the War in the “exalted” condition attributed to the Irish by Garvin, Foster etc., and then had to be battered back into shape by Mussolini.

That is not what happened in Ireland. Some of the Treatyites, who did not feel it was appropriate to defend the Treaty as a submission to irresistible Imperialist force with a view to fighting another day, believed or pretended that it was what happened. The difference between pretence and belief is not easy to pin down in a case like this. One easily becomes the other. (See Pascal.) And some of the Treatyites lived out that pretence/belief very earnestly in the 1930s when they became Fascists for the purpose of suppressing the anarchy within which Irish Bolshevism was lurking.

But the Irish disorder of 1922 was not the disorder of independence won with anarchist expectations. Nationalist Ireland was well adapted to the bourgeois/capitalist order of things long before 1918. The land agitation parted company with anarchic Utopianism, or Millenarianism (which revisionists love to find in nooks and crannies) about 1850 when Gavan Duffy launched the Tenant Leagues on the assumptions of bourgeois political economy—and on that ground made common cause with the Ulster Protestant farmers. And, half a century later, Canon Sheehan and William O’Brien, in active alliance with the Orangemen, got rid of the landlord system strictly within the order of bourgeois political economy. And then Sheehan and O’Brien made a serious bid to consolidate the gains of 1903 within a coherent capitalist order of things, and to sweep aside the sectarian grievance-mongering being peddled by the Redmondites. And they succeeded in County Cork and adjacent areas—which is where the War of Independence was fought in the main.

The Dail Government policed the country in 1919-21 in accordance with the bourgeoiscapitalist order of things. The capitalist order of property was held sacred by it, as well as by the society which elected it, leaving aside a residue of problematic forms of landed property in the Midlands. The country did not need to be tortured into capitalist ways in 1922. That torturing had been done generations earlier. And what had been sought by the great agitations launched by Duffy and completed by Sheehan and O’Brien was not some unrealisable Utopia, but access to the capitalist way.

There were elements of Utopian phrasemongering in Redmondism to the end. But Sinn Fein was bourgeois from the start. (Griffith’s guide in these matters was the political economist of national-capitalist development, Frederick List.) And the Sinn Fein Party as reconstructed after 1916 was the bourgeois party of a society which had settled down into bourgeois ways. Garvin prefers to ignore that development, as does Harrington.

If the British Democracy had recognised Irish independence when it was asserted in January 1919, I can see no reason to think that anything but bourgeois social order would have followed.

Such disorder as occurred in 1919-21 was the result of the British military attempt to prevent the elected Irish Government from governing. And the disorder of 1922 resulted from the success of the British Democracy in breaking up the Irish Democracy and obliging it to make war on itself.

According to Harrington: “The Civil War did not happen overnight—it was at least one full year in gestation…” (p15). This accords with the academic view of recent decades, often asserted but never demonstrated, that it was the outcome of basic differences within the Sinn Fein party of 1918-21.

“When the Civil War finally began, it seemed that the republicans had the advantage… Yet within two months Provisional Government forces controlled the towns and cities…” (p16).

I doubt if it seemed to De Valera in late June 1922 that the anti-Treatyites had the advantage. About 40 years ago I read the papers for the first six months of 1922. It seemed to me that the Treatyite leaders had prepared for war from the moment they became the Provisional Government on Whitehall authority. They strong along the Anti-Treatyites while they built up a heavily armed mercenary (paid) army with British support. When they struck, they did so with organised force against a disorganised enemy that had made no real preparation for war.

The Anti-Treatyites were strung along by means of juggling with the Dail Government, with its Sinn Fein party and Volunteer Army, and the Provisional Government and its professional Army. Griffith and Collins played a double act, with Griffith running the Dail and Collins the Provisional Government. But it was Griffith who pressed for war and Collins who delayed. Then Collins struck from a position of strength, and in a little over a month it was all over but for the mopping up of pockets of guerilla resistance in Munster.

When I was satisfied that I knew what was the case in January-June 1922 I thought no more about it for over twenty years. I was trying to deal with the Northern situation, and Northern nationalism tended to be pro-Treaty. When I was asked to give a talk at Newmarket about the Civil War, I merely said it was fought over Crown sovereignty and created the party system of the 26 Counties. It was fortunate that I had not gone into the matter any further as I was told at the end of the meeting that it was the first public discussion of the Civil War in North Cork since it ended, and people were on tenterhooks about it.

Anyhow, forty years ago I thought I knew what had gone on between the Treaty and the War but suspended judgment on it until I was finished with Belfast politics.

Harrington says: “The delegates, unsurprisingly believed themselves to be full plenipotentiaries”. They made a Treaty, as they were entitled to do. The Dail ratified the Treaty.

De Valera, who used to be a democrat, rejected the Treaty, either out of pique at not being obeyed, as some suggest, or out of rivalry with Collins for the leadership as Ryle Dwyer suggests. He became ambivalent about democracy and made speeches which can only be understood as incitement against the democracy. The democracy acted to defend itself. That seems to be more or less Harrington’s story.

I remember much talk about “plenipotentiaries” from when I was very young and was surprised to see it being recycled. A plenipotentiary is a diplomat on whom the power of state is conferred for the purpose of making arrangements with another state. He is a creature of a bygone era when travel was slow and there were no telephones.

Whatever the Dail delegates were, they were not in fact plenipotentiaries. They did not present their credentials as authorised representatives of a foreign state at the Court of St. James and have them accepted. The Dail was not recognised by Britain as having any legitimate authority. It was a bunch of rebels. Britain would be willing to make a deal with some of these rebels and set them up in subordinate authority. After much haggling it put its final offer on the table and demanded that it be signed at once by the rebels. The Prime Minister had two letters in his hands.

One of them meant peace, the other war. If the rebels signed it would be peace, and they would be set up in authority. If they did not all sign immediately it would be war. Mr. Shakespeare was waiting to see which of the letters he would rush off to Belfast with. The rebels signed and made themselves the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland.

The delegates were rebels in London but, until that moment, they had taken themselves to be representatives of the sovereign authority in Ireland. They were under instruction to sign nothing without the approval of the Dail Government. But they could not consult their Government because Mr. Shakespeare was waiting. And anyway weren’t they plenipotentiaries?

Argument about Mr. Shakespeare was part of my childhood. Later on I thought of looking him up. He turned out to be a member of an influential Baptist family at a time when Nonconformists were entering the ruling elite as a matter of course. In 1921 he became a member of Lloyd George’s Secretariat. About 30 years later he published his memoirs, and described the Treaty’ signing: /

“About seven-thirty Lloyd George delivered his famous ultimatum. The Irish delegates, he said, were plenipotentiaries and they must sign now. If they refused to sign, war would follow immediately…

‘I have sometimes wondered since whether Lloyd George was right in presenting that ultimatum. I am convinced on mature reflection that but for the ultimatum we might have had no treaty. Supposing the Irish delegates had not signed that night; that the negotiations had terminated inconclusively; that the final decision was left over to the Republican atmosphere in Dublin, which had a few days previously rejected Dominion status. Would the treaty have emerged intact? I doubt it. As it was, here were the five Irish delegates committed before the world by their signatures to the approval of the treaty and going before the Irish Cabinet and the Dail to recommend its acceptance. Even so, the treaty survived only by the narrow margin of seven votes in the Dail…

“If, then, Lloyd George was right in attaching the utmost importance to the fait accompliand to the Irish signing that night, he was entitled to use the most potent weapon in his armoury. The delegates to whom the ultimatum was delivered had been in prison, had been hunted, had seen their comrades executed or shot, their homesteads razed to the ground. Savage guerilla warfare had ravaged their homeland. The ultimatum conjured up before their eyes further years of bloodshed and reprisals on a vaster scale.

“I have, however, never understood why the Irish accepted the ultimatum at its face value. Why did they not call the bluff? Lloyd George stated over and over again that he had promised to let Sir James Craig know next day (Tuesday, December 6) one way or the other. Supposing Arthur Griffith had said: “What is sacrosanct about Tuesday? We have waited hundreds of years for a settlement… Are you really going to break the truce and plunge Ireland again into war without giving the Irish Cabinet the chance of discussing your latest proposals?” How could Lloyd George have persisted with the ultimatum if Arthur Griffith had argued like this.

“But the Irish delegation did not counter the ultimatum with logic. They bowed to it and signed.  I am nevertheless puzzled to find the reason. Was it that Arthur Griffith, having won the substance of Irish independence, signed because he, too, thought it would be more difficult for the Dail to repudiate it?

“Perhaps, as so often is the case, the simplest explanation is the true one. In the debate in the Dail on the treaty Barton said: “The English Prime Minister, with all the solemnity and the power of conviction he alone of all men I have ever met can impart by word and gesture, declared that limit of his patience. He threatened war, he looked war, and he intended war, unless they signed.

No one could doubt his sincerity when his word “imparted conviction”, his eyes flashed lighting. How dare they question the ultimatum? They were awed and they signed…

“I dined with Lloyd George that night alone. He was in a mood of suppressed excitement.

“I have delivered my ultimatum”, he said. I am not giving his exact words, but this was the effect of them: “We have offered full Dominion status. Either they sign now or negotiations are off. If there is a break we will put into Ireland a large force and restore order. I told them as much and it is now up to them to choose between peace and war.” Estimates of the size of the force needed to hold down Southern Ireland varied, but the highest figure mentioned was 250,000 men.

“One significant remark made by Lloyd George as he was leaving I shall always remember:

“If only Michael Collins”, he said, “has as much moral courage as he has physical courage, we shall get a settlement. But moral courage is a much higher quality than physical courage, and it is a quality that brave men often lack”…” (Sir Geoffrey Shakespeare. Let Candles Be Brought In, 1949, p87-9).

So the Irish delegates were hustled, bluffed, intimidated, and over-awed. They forgot what they were and became rebels against their own government. Collins denied in the Dail that he had signed under the impact of the threat of immediate war, and there is evidence that his decision was made beforehand. In that case the persuading was not all done by Lloyd George. Collins and Griffith were party to the final hustling of the other delegates. But Griffith seems to have had little talent for negotiation or for the handling of power. His mind ran on a short-circuit and he had little influence. It was Collins who counted. And it was Collins who took the crucial decision to make a  settlement without consulting the Dail Government.

What matters is not whether the British position was final, but Collins’s decision not to make the Dail Government deal with his conclusion that it was final and that it must either settle for it or prepare for war. He pre-empted the Dail Government, knowing that the immense British propaganda apparatus would be immediately activated in support of him, and that the situation when he came back to Dublin after signing would be utterly different from what it would have been if he had come back before signing to put it to the Dail Government that the final position had been reached, and obliging it to deal with his own ultimatum within the structure of confidence of Dail legitimacy.

In the realpolitik of the situation, Collins took the game into his own hands with that decision and he acted as if he knew it. He became the Provisional Government on British authority and built a new army with British support. The obvious purpose of his new army was to make war on the IRA, and he must have had that in mind if he said that by signing the Treaty he also signed his own death warrant. But he also seems to have thought that he could handle not only the IRA and the Dail, but also Whitehall. And that was where it all broke down. In the event he was Whitehall’s man. Whitehall was jubilant when it got him fighting the IRA.

It now seems to be agreed in official circles that the Anti-Treaty position in 1922 was undemocratic. I have learned to be careful about using the word ‘democracy’. In 1969 I made myself widely hated by pointing out that Partition was socially based. Then, around 1970, I wrote something about the Northern Ireland state being democratically valid. That was nonsense.

Northern Ireland was not a state and it had always been excluded from the democracy of the State of which it was part. But, hated though I was, nobody refuted me by pointing this out. I had to refute myself. And that taught me to be careful about democracy.

In January 1922 a Provisional Government was set up by Collins on British authority. Those who set it up might have had a small majority of Dail members for what they did, but it was not the Dail that set it up. Britain did not recognise the Dail as a sovereign authority after the Treaty any more than before it. The Provisional Government was established on British authority both de jure and de facto. And those in the Dail who supported it had to meet as the Parliament of Southern Ireland under the 1920 Act in order to set it up.

That Dail had been returned without a vote in the Summer of 1921. The Home Rule movement had withered away after its defeat in 1918, and no other party or individual contested the independence issue with Sinn Fein.

After the Treaty it was agreed that another election should be held quickly. In May 1922 an agreement was made that the election should not be contested between the Treaty and Anti-Treaty faction of Sinn Fein. The aim was to reproduce the existing balance of forces in the new Dail and establish a Coalition Government with a Treatyite majority. The Dail ratified this Agreement.

Collins was summoned to London and ordered to break it, which he did in ambiguous terms two days before the election.

The election had been delayed so that a Constitution for the Free State should be published for the information of the electorate. Collins tried to nudge it towards republicanism but this was vetoed by Whitehall. The draft Constitution acceptable to Whitehall was published on the morning of the election.

The Election Agreement ratified by the Dail was broken by Collins, sort of, but not quite. A substantial part of the voting was done on the assumption that it held. The Agreement provided for a Treatyite majority in any case, so the Treatyite majority was no surprise. The voting was not on a referendum proposal. It was the election of a Parliament to form a Government.

The Civil War was launched a few days after the Election. It was not launched on the authority of the Dail that had just been elected. If that Dail had met and the matter had been put to it, it is very unlikely that there would have been war.

The war was launched by the Provisional Government in response to yet another Whitehall ultimatum, threatening that the British Army would go into action if the Treatyite Army did not act promptly. The newly elected Dail did not meet until September, by which time the Free State Army was in command, the war was won, and all that remained to be done was the atrocities designed to burn the spirit of defeat into the souls of the defeated.

The most interesting book I know of about the war is by another Harrington, Niall C, the son of a Redmondite MP, who qualified as a chemist, joined the IRA, then joined the Medical Corps of the Treatyite Army and was present with it in Kerry in the Autumn of 1922. The book is Kerry Landing, published in 1992, and it tells how the Munster Republic was taken in the rear by means of a naval landing in Kerry. Harrington then had a long career in the Army before becoming the Organiser of the Federated Union of Employers in 1959. He died in 1981.

Leaving aside ideology about democracy, the book confirms the conclusions I came to forty years ago, so how could I not think it good! : e.g.—

“The Provisional Government had been in existence for almost six months… In that time, despite the toing and froing of opposing political and military heads, it was able to build resources and make emergency plans. It could keep its ‘front’ busy in talks, arguments and disagreements about maintaining the IRA as the nation’s volunteer army, while building and strengthening the new regular army. It had the means of doing what it wished to do, while observing very closely the growing aggressiveness of an opposition which spent its time thinking and talking, without agreeing on what was to be done or how to go about doing it. That was where the line of demarcation lay…” (p33)

On the constitutional situation brought about by the Treaty:

“Two Irish governments now functioned side by side… : the Dail Eireann Government… and the Provisional Government…

“In that confused and emotive period… not only were there two national governments…; there were also two national armies…, each giving allegiance to a republic, one to the “existing republic” proclaimed on Easter Monday 1916 and ratified by Dail Eireann…, the other to a republic to be achieved in time by the “stepping stone” of the Treaty…” (p7).

“Richard Mulcahy… was insisting that enlistment in the new army being formed by the Provisional Government was an engagement to serve in the “Regular Forces of the Republican Army”. This was illusory, of course; de facto it was the army of the Provisional Government that was being recruited; in other words, it was the Free State Army. The IRA who were against the Treaty… could claim that theirs was the true Republican Army, and so they did claim…” (p 10).

In an Appendix, from “unpublished documents”, Harrington gives a document by the “Chief of the General Staff”, apparently drawn up in early August 1922, which makes the following comment on the war and the Constitution:

“It is too early to say yet whether we could so establish ourselves [in “certain principal points” in Munster, BC] in time to have Parliament meet on 12th (August). I feel that we shall have to have another postponement…

“I consider that if Parliament did not meet until 24th our military position would be very favourable; we would have occupied sufficient additional posts in the South to dominate entirely the position there, and would be able to indicate so definitely our ability to deal with the military problem there that no parliamentary criticism of any kind could  seriously interfere with our ability” (pl64).

This was the parliament elected in June, that constituted the foundation of ‘democracy’ in 1922, but which had never met while democratic order was being imposed.

Brendan Clifford

Joseph (Joe) Traynor IRA Volunteer, Information required

My Mother’s brother, (uncle) Joseph (Joe) Traynor lived in Ballymount, Clondalkin, and was a Volunteer with ‘F’ Company, 4th Battalion, No 1 Dublin Brigade during the late 19’teens’.  I would welcome any information about his ‘Volunteering’ activities to include a historical note I am writing about him.

Joe was captain of the “Young Emmets” GAA football club based in nearby Fox & Geese on the Naas Road.  He attended the infamous Tipperary-Dublin match in Croke Park on 21st November 1920, later to be known as ‘Bloody Sunday’.   Joe Traynor was unfortunately one of the 13 people to be shot dead on that day, having been shot twice at the canal end of Croke Park as he tried to make his escape with many others over the wall at that end.

Joe was a good friend of a PJ Ryan, with whom he attended the match on Bloody Sunday, and who was also a member of the ‘F’ Company.  It was PJ Ryan who had to bring the tragic news of his death to Joe’s parents in Ballymount later on that Sunday evening.

Any scraps of information would be gratefully received.

For your information I am attaching a photo of Joe.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Michael Nelson.

JOSEPH TRAYNOR

BORN DRIMNAGH CASTLE 1900. DIED TRAGICALLY CROKE PARK,1920 (BLOODY SUNDAY)

joe traynor IRA Irish Volunteer

joe traynor IRISH VOLUNTEER



Michael Collins Sliabh na mBan Armoured Car Restoration and refit

Short time lapse video of the restoration of the Rolls Royce Armoured Car ‘Sliabh na mBan’. This historic car was part of Gen Michael Collins’ convoy at the Beal na Blath ambush where he was mortally wounded in 1922. Sliabh na mBan was renovated in the Combined Vehicle Based Workshops in the Defence Forces Training Centre, Curragh.
Courtesy of the Irish Defence Forces Cavalry Corps.
The last known photograph of Collins alive was taken as he made his way through Bandon, Co Cork,in the back of an army vehicle. He is pictured outside White’s Hotel (now Munster Arms) on 22 August 1922. On the road to Bandon,, at the village of Beal na mBlath(Irish, “the Mouth of Flowers”), Collins’ column stopped to ask directions. However the man whom they asked, Dinny Long, was also a member of the local Anti-Treaty IRA.

An ambush was then prepared for the convoy when it made its return journey back to Cork city. They knew Collins would return by the same route as the two other roads from Bandon to Cork had been rendered impassable by Republicans. The ambush party, commanded by Liam Deasy had mostly dispersed to a nearby pub by 8:00 p.m., when Collins and his men returned to Béal na mBlath but the remaining five ambushers on the scene opened fire on Collins’s convoy. The ambushers had laid a mine on the scene, which could have killed many more people in Collins’s party, but they had disconnected it by the time the firing broke out.

Collins was killed in the subsequent gun battle, which lasted about 20 minutes, from 8:00 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. He was the only fatality. He had ordered his convoy to stop and return fire, instead of choosing the safer option of driving on in his touring car or transferring to the safety of the accompanying armoured car,(sliabh na mBan) as his companion, Emmet Dalton, had wished. He was killed while exchanging rifle fire with the ambushers. Under the cover of the armoured car, Collins’s body was loaded into the touring car and driven back to Cork.  For more on the ambush at Beal na Blath see http://theirishwar.com/history/ambushes/beal-na-mblath/

Seán Collins beside the coffin of his brother Michael Collins

General Sean Mac Mahon

General Sean Mac Mahon


General Sean Mac Mahon was born,the son of a malster in Cork street, in Dublin in 1893. He was the eldest of seven children. He joined the Irish Volunteers at the very start in 1913 and was enrolled as a member of B Company, 3.rd Battalion, Dublin City Brigade.

In 1914 he became 1.st Lieutenant under the O’Rahilly with promotion to captain in 1915. The headquarters of B company,3.rd Battalion was based at 144 Pearse street. During Easter week 1916 he fought at as Captain of B company, 3.rd Battalion,under Eamon de Valera in Bolands Mills.

In May 1916 he was deported and imprisoned first in Wakefield then Frongoch and finally Wormwood Scrubbs. On his return to Dublin he joined the staff of the nationality newspaper. He resumed his association with the Volunteers becoming Vice Commandant of the 3.rd Battalion.

In 1919 he became Q.M.G. of the Irish Republican army. He was the Organiser of the famous Q company based at Dublin Docks,which was finally organised into a unit in March ,1921.

He took part in several engagements during the Black and tan war and was present during the night of the 13.th /14.th March 1921 when his brother in law,Leo Fitzjerald was killed in an ambush in Great Brunswick street.  He took part in the Custom house attack in May 25, 1921.

On the formation of the regular Irish national Army in February 1922 he continued as Q.M.G.

In September 1922 he succeeded General Mulcahy as Chief of Staff.

He retired in 1927,due to failing health and died in 1955.

There is a bridge in Dublin named after him today.

Information Required Laois Volunteers & third northern brigade of the irish volunteers

I am trying to get information on my grandfathers service in the Irish Volunteers 1918-1921. His name was Jack Rice from Laois. He later served in the Garda. Thanks

Brian O’Connell

——————————————————————————————

I am trying to find service records for James (seamus) rice of markethill, Armagh, who said he was with the third northern brigade of the irish volunteers. He came to the US sometime in the 20’s after being in a british prison. I am interested in any possible info.

Thank you,

jerry ryan

Irish Volunteers, Information required

My father, Paddy (Patrick Joseph) McCarthy, who died in 1972, had a medal for service in ‘A1 (University College Cork) Company, 2nd Battalion, Cork I Brigade, Oglaigh na hEireann (IRA) during the three months which ended on 11th July, 1921. His familiy was from Skibbereen. He was a student of engineering at UCC at the time. Is there some way I can find out a bit more about his life during that period?
Go raibh maith agat.  Padraig McCarthy.

Babe Donegan was actually a woman in Cumann na nBan.Mary Donegan i think was her propper name from the Midleton area in Co Cork.Date of birth & thing’s i honestly don’t have a clue.Just the other day i received her uniform’s badge & medal. Any info?

Le dea-mhein,
Slan mo chara.
Edmond

__________________________________________________________________

Here is the photo. As I mentioned, his name was Daniel McGlinchy and was from Donegal.  I have also have a transcribed copy of a book of poems he wrote. The first page says (in case this information helps):

Irish Volunteer Donegal ? Daniel McGlinchey

The Pikemen of Erinn

Song Book

Songs, Recitations, and Poems of the Gael

Dedicated to and in loving memory

of the Brave Boys of Easter Week, 1916

with

Descriptive Sketch

of

The Banners of Erinn

shown as

cover sketch

by

Donnaill Magloinsechain

(Adjutant I.V.  Anne St – Glasford)

IS GLASFORD IN SCOTLAND???

Any information you might have on date, or whatever, would be much appreciated!

Thank you,

Susan

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I am researching the history of D coy 1st Batt, I.R.A.1916.My grandfather William O’Dea served under the command of Seán Heuston along with 11 others took over the Mendicity Institute,Dublin on 24/4/16.Are there any records of these men before and after Easter Week 1916?I have heard they were sent to Kilmainham and that W O’Dea was imprisoned in Portland and Lewes.Are prison records available?    Éamon Ó Deagha.

——————————————————————————————hi there can you tell me who gave the medals for fianna 50th
year, and were i would find this list. regards
diarmuid gannon

——————————————————————————————I am looking for a good biography of Michael collins can you recommend one .Thanks.   Stephen Sullivan

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I am looking for records of my grandfather Joseph Michael Curran, from the 3rd Btt.Dublin Brigade born July 29th ,1876, died Aug.21,1957 .

brenda forster

_____________________________________________________________________

JAMES O’LOUGHLIN MEMORIAL PERPETUAL TROPHY
NOMINATION FOR CORK AREA, RED CROSS VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
PRESENTED BY CORK CITY BRANCH

http://www.corkredcross.ie/downloads/james-oloughlin-memorial.pdf

FRANK BUSTEED IRA Vice-Commandant, 6th Battalion, 1st Cork Brigade

The account below is by Brian O’ Donchu, Frank Busteeds grandson,  can anyone ,especially our North American members, tell us more about Frank Busteeds time in North America?? or give a point in the direction of where this information may be obtained. We await your replies, thanks for you time.
FRANK  BUSTEED(1898-1974)
Vice-Commandant, 6th Battalion, 1st Cork Brigade
(Commandant -Flying Column)
Frank Busteed was born at Kilmuraheen, Doughcloyne, Cork on 23rd Sept , 1898, but grew up in Blarney.
He was somewhat unusual for a Flying Column Commandant in that  his backround was not typical, being of mixed faith.His father Sam was Church of Ireland and of strong Unionist backround, while  his mother Norah(Condon-Maher) was Catholic and of a strong Nationalist backround.
Sam died in 1900 when Frank was two years, and so he grew up in the Nationalist tradition of his mother.
However he maintained close family ties with Protestant relations throughout the War of Independence , and afterwards.
Two of his four brothers were brought up in  the Unionist tradition at Kilmuraheen by his paternal grandmother -Margaret Busteed, and joined the British Army, were mentioned in dispatches during World War 1, and one(Jack) later was stationed in Blarney during the period 1919-22.
He himself claimed to be Atheist.
He joined the Fianna Eireann, and later The Irish Volunteers, joining thee Blarney Company(in 1919 the company was into the 6th Battallion, 1st Cork Brigade), and in 1920 was appointed Vice Commandant of the 6th(and Commandant of the Flying Column ,attached) with Jackie O ‘ Leary as Commandant of battalion.
He was involved in many a maneuvre with the battallion , and flying-column in the period 1920-22–including the blowing-up of Blarney Barracks , the capture of Major Geoffrey Compton Smith, Dripsey Ambush as well as countless more.He was also involved in Intelligence gathering, and served as a judge in the Republican Courts from 1920-923.
He was the first volunteer in Blarney to own a Lee Enfield riffle(see framed photo in exhibition)., in 1919.
He was a well read man, and learnt Irish during the war period (regretting that it was not on the school curiculum when he attended).
He refused to accept the Treaty, and continued fighting in Cork, Waterford & Limerick, eventually leaving Ireland for U.S.A..in 1924-first to Boston, and later settling in New York.
Here he trained in the Ice-Cutting business, starting a company with three partners (who had also arrived in America after the Civil War.
He met his future wife in New York -Anne Marren, an English lady , whose father came from Mayo .
They had seven children in all, 6 surviving (1 died an infant)–three born in USA, one in England , and 3 later , in Ireland
In 1935 Frank returned to Ireland , starting his own family business, and among other things became involved in the developement of the Fianna Fail cumans in Cork City.
In 1941 he was commissioned to the Irish Army as a Lieutenant. He remained in the army until 1946, and though recommended by his commanding officer for the rank Captain, he left to deal with family business committments.
He remained involved in  politics, canvassing in local , and national elections(see photo with Pres DeValera in exhibit )
He and his wife attended the reopening of Cork City Hall , in Sept 1936(burnt in 1920 during the burning of Cork City by the Auxilliaries & Black &Tans)
In the 1950’s he  was appointed Manager of the Passage West Labour Exchange-retiring from this position (ironically this is where his father’d ancestors first settled in Ireland in the mid 17th century) .
In 1974 (just before his death)…the book EXECUTION (based on events around The Dripsey Ambush) was published.
He featured in a number of other books on the period 1919-24.
Brian O’ Donoghue(Grandson)

Information required on Irish Volunteers Youghal Cork

Information required on Irish Volunteers Youghal Cork,please see below,,any help appreciated.

irish volunteers youghal, Cork 1.st Brigade

Liam Lynch

Lynch was born in the townland of Barnagurraha, Limerick, near Mitchelstown, Cork, to Jeremiah and Mary Kelly Lynch. During his first 12 years of schooling he attended Anglesboro School.
In 1910, at the age of 17, he started an apprenticeship in O’Neill’s hardware trade in Mitchelstown, where he joined the Gaelic League and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Later he worked at Barry’s Timber Merchants in Fermoy. In the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising, he witnessed the shooting and arrest of David and Richard Kent of Bawnard House by the Royal Irish Constabulary.

liam-lynch

War of Independence
In Cork, Lynch re-organised the Irish Volunteers – the paramilitary organisation that became the Irish Republican Army – in 1919, becoming commandant of the Cork No. 2 Brigade of the IRA during the guerrilla Anglo-Irish War. Lynch helped capture a senior British officer, General Lucas, in June 1920, shooting a Colonel Danford in the incident. Lucas later escaped while being held by IRA men in County Clare. Lynch was captured, together with the other officers of the Cork No. 2 Brigade, in a British raid on Cork City Hall in August 1920. Terence McSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, was among those captured – he later died on hunger strike in protest at his detention. Lynch, however, gave a false name and was released three days later. In the meantime, the British had assassinated two other innocent men named Lynch, whom they had confused with him.
In September 1920, Lynch, along with Ernie O’Malley, commanded a force that took the British Army barracks at Mallow. The arms in the barracks were seized and the building partially burnt. Before the end of 1920, Lynch’s brigade had successfully ambushed British troops on two other occasions. Lynch’s guerrilla campaign continued into early 1921, with some successes such as the ambush and killing of 13 British soldiers near Millstreet. On the other hand reverses also occurred, such as the loss of 8 Volunteers killed, 2 more executed and 8 captured at a failed ambush at Mourne Abbey.
In April 1921, the Irish Republican Army was re-organised into divisions based on regions. Lynch’s reputation was such that he was made commander of the 1st Southern Division. From April 1921 until the Truce that ended the war in July 1921, Lynch’s command was put under increasing pressure by the deployment of more British troops into the area and the British use of small mobile units to counter IRA guerrilla tactics. Lynch was no longer in command of the Cork No. 2 Brigade as he had to travel in secret to each of the nine IRA Brigades in Munster. By the time of the Truce, the IRA under Liam Lynch were increasingly hard pressed and short of arms and ammunition. Lynch therefore welcomed the Truce as a respite; however, he expected the war to continue after it ended.

Liam Lynch Memorial card

The Treaty
The war formally ended with the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty between the Irish negotiating team and the British government in December 1921.
Lynch was opposed to the Anglo-Irish Treaty, on the grounds that it disestablished the Irish Republic proclaimed in 1916 in favour of Dominion status for Ireland within the British Empire. He became Chief of Staff in March 1922 of the IRA, much of which was also against the Treaty. Lynch, however, did not want a split in the republican movement and hoped to reach a compromise with those who supported the Treaty (“Free Staters”) by the publication of a republican constitution for the new Irish Free State. But the British would not accept this, as the Treaty had only just been signed and ratified, leading to a bitter split in Irish ranks and ultimately civil war.
Civil War
Although Lynch opposed the seizure of the Four Courts in Dublin by a group of hardline republicans, he joined its garrison in June 1922 when it was attacked by the newly formed Free State Irish Army. This marked the beginning of the Irish Civil War. Lynch was arrested by the Free State forces but was allowed to leave Dublin, on the understanding that he would try and halt the fighting. Instead, he quickly began organising resistance elsewhere.
With the capture of Joe McKelvey at the Four Courts, Liam Lynch resumed the position of Chief-of-Staff of the Anti-Treaty Irish Republican Army forces (also called the “Irregulars”), which McKelvey had temporarily taken over. Lynch, who was most familiar with the south, planned to establish a ‘Munster Republic’ which he believed would frustrate the creation of the Free State. The ‘Munster Republic’ would be defended by the ‘Limerick-Waterford Line’. This consisted of, moving from east to west, the city of Waterford, the towns of Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel, Fethard, Cashel, Golden, and Tipperary, ending in the city of Limerick, where Lynch established his headquarters. In July, he led its defence but it fell to Free State troops on 20 July 1922.
Lynch retreated further south and set up his new headquarters at Fermoy. The ‘Munster Republic’ fell in August 1922, when Free State troops landed by sea in Cork and Kerry. Cork City was taken on 8 August and Lynch abandoned Fermoy the next day. The Anti-Treaty forces then dispersed and pursued guerrilla tactics. In the process of this assault, his opponent Michael Collins was killed in Cork on 22 August.
Lynch contributed to the growing bitterness of the war by issuing what were known as the “orders of frightfulness” against the Provisional government on 30 November 1922. This General Order sanctioned the killing of Free State TDs (members of Parliament) and Senators, as well as certain judges and newspaper editors in reprisal for the Free State’s killing of captured republicans. The first republican prisoners to be executed were four IRA men captured with arms in 14 November 1922, followed by the execution of republican leader Erskine Childers on November 17. Lynch then issued his orders, which were acted upon by IRA men, who killed TD Sean Hales and wounded another TD outside the Dáil. In reprisal, the Free State immediately shot four republican leaders, Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows, Dick Barrett and Joe McKelvey. This led to a cycle of atrocities on both sides, including the Free State official execution of 77 republican prisoners and “unofficial” killing of roughly 150 other captured republicans. Lynch’s men for their part launched a concerted campaign against the homes of Free State members of parliament. Among the acts they carried out were the burning of the house of TD James McGarry, resulting in the death of his seven year old son and the murder of Free state minister Kevin O’Higgins elderly father and burning of his family home at Stradbally in early 1923.
Lynch was heavily criticised by some republicans, notably Ernie O’Malley, for his failure to co-ordinate their war effort and for letting the conflict peter out into inconclusive guerrilla warfare. Lynch made unsuccessful efforts to import mountain artillery from Germany in order to turn the tide of the war. In March 1923, the Anti-Treaty IRA Army Executive met in a remote location in the Nire Valley. Several members of the executive proposed ending the civil war but Lynch opposed them. Lynch narrowly carried a vote to continue the war.
Death
On 10 April 1923 Free State soldiers were seen approaching the mountain. Liam was carrying important papers that he knew must not fall into enemy hands, so he and his six comrades retreated up the Knockmealdown Mountains.
They ran into a column of 50 Free state soldiers approaching from the opposite side. Lynch was hit by rifle fire from the road at the foot of the hill. Knowing the value of the papers they carried, he ordered his men to leave him behind. When the enemy finally came across Lynch they initially believed him to be Eamon de Valera but he reportedly informed them – “I am Liam Lynch, Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Republican Army. Get me a priest and doctor, I`m dying.” He was carried on an improvised stretcher manufactured from guns to “Nugents” pub in Newcastle at the foot of the mountains. He was later brought to the hospital in Clonmel and died that evening at 8p.m.
Liam Lynch was laid to rest two days later at Kilcrumper Cemetery, near Fermoy, County Cork. Many historians see his death as the effective end of the Civil War, as the new IRA chief of staff Frank Aiken declared a ceasefire on 30 April and on 24 May ordered IRA Volunteers to dump their arms and return to their homes.
Coincidentally the Good Friday Agreement was signed on the 75th anniversary of his death.
On 7 April 1935, a 60-foot-high (18 m) round tower monument was erected on the spot where Lynch is thought to have fallen.

Liam Mellows

Liam Mellows (1895-1922)

liam mellows

Mellows was born in Manchester, England to William Joseph Mellows, a British Army non-commissioned officer, and Sarah Jordan, of Inch, County Wexford, where he grew up. His family moved to Fairview, Dublin in February 1895 when Sergeant Mellows was transferred there; however, Liam remained in Wexford with his grandfather Patrick Jordan due to ill health. He attended the military school in Wellington Barracks in Cork and the Portobello garrison school in Dublin, but ultimately refused a military career much to his father’s disappointment, instead working as a clerk in several Dublin firms.

A nationalist from an early age, Mellows approached Thomas Clarke, who recruited him to Fianna Éireann, an organisation of young republicans.

Liam Mellows Fianna Eireann

Mellows was introduced to socialism when he met James Connolly at Countess Markiewicz’s residence, recuperating after his hunger strike. Connolly was deeply impressed and told his daughter Nora ‘I have found a real man’.

He was active in the IRB and was a founder member of the Irish Volunteers, being brought onto its Organising Committee to strengthen the Fianna representation. He was arrested and jailed on several occasions under the Defence of the Realm Act. Eventually escaping from Reading Jail he returned to Ireland to command the “Western Division” (forces operating in the West of Ireland) of the IRA during the Easter Rising of 1916.

He led roughly 700 Volunteers in abortive attacks on Royal Irish Constabulary stations at Oranmore, and Clarinbridge in county Galway and took over the town of Athenry. However, his men were very badly armed and supplied and they dispersed after a week, when British troops and the cruiser Gloucester were sent west to attack them.

After this insurrection failed, Mellows escaped to the USA, where he was arrested and detained without trial in the “Tombs” prison, New York, on a charge of attempting to aid the German side in the First World War. This was in the context of incidents like the Black Tom and Kingsland explosions where German agents had bombed neutral American ports and industrial facilities.After his release in 1918, he worked with John Devoy and helped to organise Éamon de Valera’s fund raising visit to America in 1919–1920.

Liam Mellows

He returned to Ireland to become Irish Republican Army “Director of Supplies” during the Irish War of Independence, responsible for buying arms. At the 1918 general election of December, he was elected to the First Dáil as a Sinn Féin candidate for both Galway East and for North Meath. (According to United Kingdom law, these were Westminster constituencies but Sinn Féin did not recognise them as such, but rather took them as de facto Dáil Éireann constituencies).Opponent of the Treaty
He considered the Anglo-Irish Treaty as signed to be a betrayal of the Irish Republic, saying, in the Treaty Debates of 1921–22:“ We do not seek to make this country a materially great country at the expense of its honour in any way whatsoever. We would rather have this country poor and indigent, we would rather have the people of Ireland eking out a poor existence on the soil; as long as they possessed their souls, their minds, and their honour. This fight has been for something more than the fleshpots of Empire. ”A conference of 9 TDs was deputed to meet privately on 5 January 1922 to resolve the dispute and to achieve a unified front by compromise. The four other anti-Treaty TDs said there was agreement but Mellows did not, and was seen thereafter by pro-Treaty TDs as one of their most implacable opponents. The following day the Dáil voted to approve the Treaty by a majority of 64 to 57. Details on the private conference and the private Dáil session debate were not made public until the 1970s.He wrote a social programme based on the Dáil’s Democratic Programme of 1919 aimed at winning popular support for the anti-Treaty cause.Civil war
Mellows was one of the more strident TDs on the approach to the Irish Civil War. On 28 April 1922 he told the Dáil:”There would no question of civil war here now were it not for the undermining of the Republic. The Republic has been deserted by those who state they still intend to work for a Republic. The Volunteers can have very little faith at this moment in the Government that assembles here, because all they can see in it is a chameleon Government. One moment, when they look at it, it is the green, white and orange of the Republic, and at another moment, when they look at it, it is the red, white and blue of the British Empire. We in the Army, who have taken this step, have been termed “mutineers,” “irregulars,” and so forth. We are not mutineers, because we have remained loyal to our trust. We are not mutineers except against the British Government in this country. We may be “irregular” in the sense that funds are not forthcoming to maintain us, but we were always like that and it is no disgrace to be called “irregulars” in that sense. We are not wild people.”[3]In June 1922, he and fellow republicans Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey and Richard Barrett, (among others) entered the Four Courts, which had been occupied by anti-Treaty forces since April. However, they were bombarded by pro-Treaty Free State forces and surrendered after two days. Mellows had a chance to escape along with Ernie O’Malley, but did not take it. (See also Battle of Dublin).Imprisoned in Mountjoy Gaol, Mellows, O’Connor, McKelvey and Barrett were executed by firing squad on 8 December 1922, in reprisal for the shooting of TD Seán Hales.
Mellows is commemorated by statues in Oranmore and Eyre Square in Galway, in the official name of the Irish Defence Forces army barracks at Renmore (Dún Úi Maoilíosa) and in the naming of Mellows Bridge in Dublin. He is also commemorated in the names of two hurling clubs (one in Galway, and one in Wexford), and by Unidare RFC in Ballymun and their “Liam Mellows Perpetual Cup”.Mellows is buried in Castletown cemetery, County Wexford, a few miles from Arklow. An annual commemoration ceremony is held at his grave site, in which a wreath is laid by a member of the Liam Mellows Commemoration committee. “Mellows Avenue” in Arklow is named in his honour.

Liam Mellows statue Galway

Irish Volunteer Commemorative Organisation Memorabilia on Display

This post comes courtesy of the Irish Volunteers commemorative organisation,

http://irishvolunteers.org/

Hello all,

We have been asked to put up more pictures of memorabilia that we have on display around the country, please see the pictures below. These include Irish volunteer cap badges, Irish war of Independence medals ,1916 Rising medals , also firearms of the period. Do not forget that we will have a display and lecture on in cork city on July 8, see  http://irishvolunteers.org/exhibitions-commemorations/

1916 Rising medal cased and volunteer badge
1916 Rising Armband
IRA broom handle” peter the painter” c 96 mauser with but extension
cumann na mban brooch and cap badge
door handle GPO 1916 rising
Irish Volunteers Dublin Brigade cap Badge
IRA Prisoners fund badge
IRA black and tan medal with comrac bar and volunteer badge

IRA thompson sub- machine guns
IRA Volunteers “peter the painter”
IRA webley revolver

irish volunteer belt buckle
Irish volunteer c 96 broom handle
irish volunteer cap badge white metal
Irish volunteer cap badge
Irish volunteer cap badges
Irish volunteer insignia
Irish volunteer rifle lee enfield
irish volunteer rifle
irish volunteer trefoil
limerick brigade cap badge
mayo brigade cap badge
tipperary brigade cap badge
irish volunteer rifle

Richard Mulcahy

Richard James Mulcahy (Irish: Risteárd Séamus Ó Maolchatha) (10 May 1886 – 16 December 1971) was an Irish politician, army general and commander in chief, leader of Fine Gael and Cabinet Minister. He fought in the 1916 Easter Rising, served as Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army during the War of Independence and was commander of the pro-treaty forces in the Irish civil war.

General Richard Mulcahy, became chief of staff after the death of Michael Collins

Early life and 1916 rising
Richard (Dick) Mulcahy was born in Manor Street, Waterford in 1886. He was educated at Mount Sion Christian Brothers School and later in Thurles, County Tipperary, where his father was the postmaster. One of his grandmothers was a Quaker who was disowned by her wealthy family for marrying a Roman Catholic. He joined the Post Office (engineering dept) in 1902 and worked in Thurles, Bantry, Wexford and Dublin. Mulcahy joined the Irish Volunteers at the time of their formation in 1913 and was also a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Gaelic League.
He was second-in-command to Thomas Ashe (who would later die on hunger strike) in an encounter with the armed Royal Irish Constabulary at Ashbourne, County Meath during the Easter Rising in 1916. In his recent account of the Rising Charles Townsend principally credits Mulcahy with the defeat of the RIC at Ashbourne for conceiving and leading a flanking movement on the RIC column that had engaged with the Irish Volunteers. Arrested after the rising he was interned at Knutsford and at the Frongoch internment camp in Wales until his release on the 24 December 1916.
War of Independence and Civil War
Upon his release he immediately rejoined the republican movement and became commandant of The Dublin Brigade of the Irish Volunteers. Elected to the First Dáil in the 1918 general election for Dublin Clontarf, he was named Minister for Defence in the new (alternative) government and later Assistant Minister for Defence. In March 1919 he became IRA chief of staff, a position he held until January 1922.
He and Michael Collins were largely responsible for directing the military campaign against the British during the War of Independence. During this period of upheaval in 1919 he married Mary Josephine (Min) Ryan, sister of Dr. James Ryan and sister of Kate and Phyllis Ryan, successive wives of Seán T. O’Kelly, two men who would later be members of Fianna Fáil governments.
Mulcahy supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and became commander of the military forces of the Provisional Government during the subsequent Civil War.
He earned notoriety amongst anti-treaty supporters through his order that captured anti-Treaty activists found carrying arms were liable for execution. A total of 77 anti-Treaty prisoners were executed by the Provisional Government. Mulcahy served as Defence Minister in the new Free State government from January 1924 until March 1924, but resigned in protest because of the sacking of the Army Council after criticism by the Executive Council over the handling of the so-called Army Mutiny — when Irish Army some veteran War of Independence officers almost revolted after Mulcahy demobilised many of them at the end of the Civil War. He re-entered the cabinet as Minister for Local Government and Public Health in 1927.
Post-independence politician
During his period on the backbenches of Dáil Éireann his electoral record fluctuated. He was elected as TD (Teachta Dála) for Dublin North West in the 1921 and 1922 general elections. The following year, in the 1923 election he moved to the Dublin North East constituency, where he was re-elected in four further elections: June 1927, September 1927, 1932 and 1933.
Mulcahy was defeated in the 1937 general election, but secured election to the Seanad Éireann, the upper house of the parliament, on the Administrative Panel. The 2nd Seanad sat for less than two months, and he was elected to the 10th Dáil for Dublin North East in the 1938 election. Defeated again in the election of 1943, he secured election to the 4th Seanad, on the Labour Panel.

General Dick Mulcahy

Leader of Fine Gael
After the resignation of W. T. Cosgrave in 1944, Mulcahy became leader of Fine Gael while still a member of the Seanad. Thomas F. O’Higgins was parliamentary leader of the party in the Dáil at the time. Mulcahy was returned again to the 12th Dáil as TD for Tipperary at the 1944 general election. Mulcahy was faced with the task of reviving a party that had been out of office since 1932.
Facing into his first General Election as party leader, Mulcahy drew up a list of 13 young candidates to contest seats for Fine Gael. Of the eight of these that ran, four were elected. Mulcahy had successfully cast aside the Cosgrave legacy of antipathy to constituency work, traveling the country on an autocycle and succeeding in bringing some new blood into the party. While Fine Gael’s decline had been halted, its future was still in doubt, at least until the non Fianna Fáil parties realised they had won a majority.
Following the 1948 general election, Fianna Fáil finished six seats short of a majority. However, Fianna Fáil was 37 seats ahead of Fine Gael, and conventional wisdom suggested that Fianna Fáil was the only party that could possibly form a government. Just as negotiations got underway, however, Mulcahy realised that if Fine Gael, the Labour Party, the National Labour Party, Clann na Poblachta and Clann na Talmhan banded together, they would have only one seat fewer than Fianna Fáil–and that if they could get support from seven independents, they would be able to form a government. He played a leading role in persuading the other parties to put aside their differences and join forces to consign Eamon de Valera to the opposition benches.
Mulcahy initially had the inside track to becoming Taoiseach in such a government. However, Mulcahy was not acceptable to Clann na Poblachta’s leader, Seán MacBride. Many Irish Republicans had never forgiven him for his role in the Civil War executions carried out under the Cosgrave government. Without Clann na Poblachta, the other parties would have had 57 seats between them – 17 seats short of a majority in the 147 seat Dáil. However, according to Mulcahy, it was Labour leader William Norton who suggested another person as Taoiseach. There is no documentary evidence to confirm that MacBride and his party refused to serve under Mulcahy, although Norton may have been influenced by MacBride. In any event, Mulcahy stepped aside and encouraged his party colleague Attorney General John A. Costello to take the post of Taoiseach. From then on, Costello served as parliamentary leader of Fine Gael while Mulcahy remained nominal leader of the party.
Mulcahy went on to serve as Minister for Education from 1948 until 1951. Another coalition government came to power at the 1954 election, with Mulcahy once again stepping aside to become Minister for Education in the Second Inter-Party Government. The government fell in 1957, but Mulcahy remained as Fine Gael leader until October 1959. In October 1960 he told his Tipperary constituents that he did not intend to contest the next election.
Family
His son, named Risteárd Mulcahy, was for many years a cardiologist in Dublin. His daughter Neilli designed the uniforms for Aer Lingus in 1962.
Richard Mulcahy died in Dublin on 16 December 1971, at the age of 85 from natural causes.

William Oman, Irish Citizen Army, Information required

I am currently researching the role my family played between the Easter Rising and the end of the Civil War. My great-grandfather was William Oman, Irish Citizen Army. He played ‘The Last Post’ after Pearse’s speech at the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa and sounded the ‘Fall-In’ at Liberty Hall on Easter Monday Morning 1916. He went on to fight in with the City Hall Garrison, Jacob’s Factory Garrison and College of Surgeon’s Garrison. He was in ‘G’ Company 1st Battalion, Dublin IRA. I have his witness statement from the MIlitary Archives. His brother George was also in the I.C.A and was in the G.P.O/Imperial Hotel area for the Rising. Their uncle Robert ‘Bob’ Oman was in the Four Courts area for the Rising and was a Captain in the IRA in the same company as William during the War of Independence. Have you ever come across any information on these three individuals? Any help is greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards,

Niall

Irish Medals & Awards Information

Irish War of Independence General Service Medal  (aka the “Black & Tan Medal” ).

The numbers below refer to those with the comrac bar and those without the comrac bar.

The Black and Tan  Comrac Bar medal :

The Black and Tan Comrac Bar medal , the comrac bar medal was for combatants only

Numbers issued:
The numbers below refer to those with the comrac bar and those without the comrac bar. One can see that there were at least 10 strikings of the Black & tan medal of both types, this can be seen in slight differences in the medals themselves. There were 15,224 Black and Tan medals with the  Comrac  bar issued and 47,644 without the Comrac bar issued. These figures cannot be exact as there were also replacement and late awards later on, so, they have to treated as approximately.
————————————————————————————
16th June 1941                                      10,000
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22nd October 1942                                15,000
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26th October 1945                                 3,000
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28th May 1947                                       4,500
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10th March 1949                                    1,500
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7th November 1949                                3,000
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16th June 1950                                      5,000
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10th November 1951                              6,000
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17th June 1953                                      6,700
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3rd October 1957                                   2,500
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IRISH 1916 RISING MEDAL

2,411    issued.

DESIGNER :  Corporal Gerard O’Neill, Corps of Engineers, Irish Army.
MANUFACTURERS :  The Jewellery and Metal Manufacturing Co. Ltd and
P. Quinn Ltd.

DESIGNER :  Corporal Gerard O’Neill, Corps of Engineers, Irish Army.
PRODUCERS : P. Quinn Ltd  and  The Jewellery and Metal Manufacturing Co. Ltd .

Die struck in bronze, a slain cuchulain to front with the raven perched on his shoulder(signifying that he was indeed dead),

“SEACTMAIN NA CASGA 1916” to rear, meaning Easter week1916.

1916 Rising Medal

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1916 Rising medal 1966 Survivors Medal

issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rising in 1966.

968 medals issued.

Producer :  Jewellery and Metal Mfg. Co. Ltd, Dublin.

1916-Rising-Survivors-medal

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1921 – 1971 Survivors Medal  Truce medal
(Truce Medal About 19,000)

IRA-Truce-Medal1

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1939 – 1946 Emergency Medal
all types,(Approximate, 240,000)

irish Army emergency medal

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Cumann Na Bhan Brooches. Currently Unknown
(Gold)

cumann na mban Badge Brooch

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Cumann Na Bhan Badges. Around 40
(Gold)

Cumann na mBan badge gold cap badge

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Na Fianna Medal

Issued in 1959 to mark the 5o.th anniversary of the founding of the Fianna. Approximately 2,000 medals  issued, privately issued by the Fianna , a non-government issue medal.

na fianna medal with members card

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Thomas Kent

Thomas Kent
Irish: Tomás Ceannt
1865 – 9 May 1916
Place of birth Castlelyons, County Cork, Ireland
Place of death Collins Barracks, Cork, Ireland
Allegiance Irish Volunteers
Years of service 1913 – 1916
Battles/wars Easter Rising
Thomas Kent (Irish: Tomás Ceannt; 1865 – 9 May 1916) was an Irish nationalist court-martialled and executed following a gunfight with the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) on 2 May 1916, in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Rising.
The Easter Rising
Kent was part of a prominent nationalist family who lived at Bawnard House, Castlelyons, County Cork. They were prepared to take part in the Easter Rising, but when the mobilization order was countermanded, they stayed home. The rising nevertheless went forward in Dublin, and the RIC was sent to arrest well-known sympathizers throughout the country including, but not limited to, known members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Sinn Féin, and the Irish Volunteers. When the Kent residence was raided they were met with resistance from Thomas and his brothers Richard, David, and William. A gunfight lasted for four hours, in which an RIC officer, Head Constable William Rowe, was killed and David Kent was seriously wounded. Eventually the Kents were forced to surrender, although Richard made a last minute dash for freedom and was fatally wounded.
Trial and execution
Thomas and William were tried by court martial on the charge of murdering Head Constable Rowe. William was acquitted, but Thomas was sentenced to death and executed by firing squad in, Cork on 9 May 1916. David Kent was brought to Dublin where he was charged with the same offence, found guilty and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted and he was sentenced to five years penal servitude. Apart from the singular case of Roger Casement, Thomas Kent was the only person outside of Dublin to be executed for his role in the events of Easter Week. He is buried in the grounds of Collins Barracks, Cork (formerly Victoria Barracks).
Railway
The main railway station in Cork, Kent Station was named after Thomas Kent.

Thomas Kent memorial Bust, Cork Railway station(Kent Station)

Seán Treacy

Seán Treacy (Irish: Seán Ó Treasaigh; 14 February 1895 – 14 October 1920) was one of the leaders of the Third Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence. He helped to start the conflict in 1919 and was killed in a shootout with British troops in Talbot Street, Dublin during an aborted British Secret Service surveillance operation in October 1920. Although sometimes spelled as ‘Tracy’ or ‘Tracey’ as inscribed on the commemorative plaque in Talbot Street, his surname is more often spelled as ‘Treacy’.

Sean Treacy

Treacy came from a small-farming background in west County Tipperary. He left school aged 14 and worked as farmer, also developing deep Irish nationalist convictions. He was a member of the Gaelic League, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) since 1911 and the Irish Volunteers since 1913. He was arrested in the aftermath of the Easter Rising in 1916 and spent much of the following two years in prison, where he went on hunger strike on several occasions. From Dundalk jail in 1918 he wrote to his comrades in Tipperary, “Deport all in favour of the enemy out of the country. Deal sternly with those who try to resist. Maintain the strictest discipline, there must be no running to kiss mothers goodbye”  In 1918 he was appointed Vice Officer-Commanding of the Third Tipperary Brigade of the Volunteers (which became the Irish Republican Army in 1919). He was impatient for action and was disappointed that the IRB leadership forbade attacks on the police in 1917.
The Soloheadbeg ambush
On 21 January 1919 Treacy and Dan Breen, together with Seán Hogan, Séamus Robinson and five other volunteers, helped to ignite the conflict that was to become the Irish War of Independence. They ambushed and shot dead two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) — Constables Patrick MacDonnell and James O’Connell — near their homes at Soloheadbeg in County Tipperary. The RIC men were transporting gelignite explosives; when they allegedly refused to surrender and offered resistance, the Volunteers shot them dead. Robinson was the organiser of the action, while Treacy was the logistics expert.
Breen later recalled: “…we took the action deliberately, having thought over the matter and talked it over between us. Treacy had stated to me that the only way of starting a war was to kill someone, and we wanted to start a war, so we intended to kill some of the police whom we looked upon as the foremost and most important branch of the enemy forces … The only regret that we had following the ambush was that there were only two policemen in it, instead of the six we had expected…”
Breen’s later comment suggests that the aim of the attack was to capture or kill as many policemen as possible, for political and military effect
[edit]The Knocklong train rescue
As a result of the action, South Tipperary was placed under martial law and declared a Special Military Area under the Defence of the Realm Act. After another member of the Soloheadbeg ambush party, Seán Hogan, was arrested on 12 May 1919, the three others (Treacy, Breen and Séamus Robinson) were joined by five men from the IRA’s East Limerick Brigade in order to organise Hogan’s rescue. Hogan was being transported by train from Thurles to Cork city on 13 May 1919, and the men, led by Treacy, boarded the train in Knocklong. A vicious close-range struggle, involving man-to-man combat, ensued on the train. Treacy and Breen were seriously wounded in the gunfight. Two policemen died, but Hogan was rescued. He was brought by his rescuers to the nearby village of Knocklong where his handcuffs were removed using a cleaver in the local butcher’s shop.
Clandestine Life
A thorough search for Treacy and others was mounted afterwards. Treacy had to leave Tipperary for Dublin in order to avoid capture. In Dublin, Michael Collins employed Treacy on assassination operations with “the Squad”. He was involved in the attempted killing of British general Sir John French in December 1919. In the summer of 1920, he returned to Tipperary and organised several attacks on RIC barracks, notably at Ballagh, Clerihan and Drangan before again seeking refuge in Dublin.

Sean Treacy & Dan Breen

By the spring of 1920 the political police of both the Crimes Special Branch of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and G-Division (Special Branch) of the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) had been effectively neutalized by IRA counterintelligence operatives working for Michael Collins. The British thoroughly reorganized their administration at Dublin Castle, including the appointment of Army Colonel Ormande de l’Eppe Winter as Chief of a new Combined Intelligence Service (CIS) for Ireland. Working closely with Sir Basil Thomson, Director of Civil Intelligence in the Home Office, with Colonel Hill Dillon, Chief of British Military Intelligence in Ireland, and with the local British Secret Service Head of Station Count Sevigné at Dublin Castle, Ormonde Winter began to import dozens of professional Secret Service agents from all parts of the British Empire into Ireland to track down IRA operatives and Sinn Féin leaders.
Treacy and Dan Breen were relocated to Dublin where they were directed to operate with Michael Collins’ infamous assassination unit, “The Squad”. The Squad’s mission was to surveil and assassinate British secret agents, political policemen and their informants, and to carry out other special missions for General Headquarters (GHQ) as directed by Collins. With help from police inspectors brought up to Dublin from Tipperary, Ormonde Winter’s CIS effectively spotted Treacy and Breen shortly after their arrival in Dublin and placed them under surveillance.
Death
On the 11th of October 1920, Treacy and Breen were holed up in a safehouse – Fernside – at Drumcondra, in north Dublin when it was raided by a police unit. In the ensuing shootout, two senior British officers were wounded and died the next day, Major Smyth and Captain White, while Breen was seriously wounded and the homeowner, Dr. Carolan, was killed. Treacy and Breen managed to escape through a window and shot their way through the police cordon. The injured Breen was spirited away to Dublin’s Mater hospital where he was admitted in alias persona. Treacy had been wounded but not seriously.
The British search for the two was intense and Collins ordered the Squad to guard them while plans were laid for Treacy to be exfiltrated from the Dublin metro area. Treacy hoped to return to Tipperary; realizing that the major thoroughfares would be under surveillance, he purchased a bicycle with the intent of cycling to Tipperary via the backroads. When Collins learned that a public funeral for the two officers killed at Fernside was to take place on October 14, he ordered the Squad to set up along the procession route and to take out further senior members of the RIC and the DMP.
Four or five members of the Squad assembled at a Dublin safehouse early on October 14 in preparation for this operation. Treacy was to join them for his own protection, but arrived late, to discover that Collins had cancelled the attack. While the others quietly dispersed, Treacy lingered behind in the safehouse. But a British Secret Service surveillance team working under Winter’s direction and led by Major Carew and Lt. Gilbert Price had followed Treacy in the hope that he would lead them to Collins or to other high-value IRA targets. Seeing Treacy enter the premises, they set up a stake-out of the building. A decision was made to apprehend Treacy as soon as he emerged from the safehouse.
When Treacy eventually stepped out, Price drew his pistol and closed in on Treacy. Treacy drew his parabellum automatic pistol and shot Price and another British agent before he was hit in the head, dying instantly. Rushing to the scene, Colonel Winter was horrified to see the bodies of Treacy and his own agents lying dead in Talbot Street. The entire confrontation had been witnessed by a Dublin newspaper reporter who captured a photo of Price the instant he had been hit. Making a statement to the reporter, Ormonde Winter called the event “a tragedy.”
Legacy
Treacy’s death sent alarm bells through the upper echelons of the IRA leadership and it appears to have been a factor in the decision by Richard Mulcahy (IRA chief of staff) and Cathal Brugha (Minister of Defence) to approve Michael Collins’ (Director of intelligence) plan to assassinate en masse some two dozen British Secret Service agents, Special Branch agents and British informers a month later.[citation needed] These assassinations were carried out on Sunday, November 21, 1920—a date that has been called “Bloody Sunday.
Some historians of the period consider that Seán Treacy may have been the most feared IRA operative in Ireland. A hardened killer with the sensibilities and manners of a monk, Treacy was one of the few IRA soldiers to stand up to Michael Collins. Collins had a bullying, no-nonsense management style that intimidated most subordinates. Most feared the wrath of the blustering Collins more than their British enemy.Treacy, on the other hand, had no such fear of the IRA Chief. In one memorable incident, Treacy escorted a young lady friend to a speech by Collins to a group of Sinn Féin supporters. As Collins got wound up in his remarks, he increasingly salted his speech with profanity. Suddenly the Vice Commander of the Third Tipperary Brigade stood up and held up his hand, silencing Collins. Treacy then indignantly rebuked Collins for using such language in the presence of mixed company and demanded that Collins apologize to his girl friend. A very nonplussed and embarrassed Michael Collins stared at Treacy awhile before regaining his composure and then apologized for his dirty talk. Treacy retook his seat, and the meeting proceeded.
A commemorative plaque above the door commemorates the spot where Treacy died. His coffin arrived by train at Limerick Junction station and was accompanied to St. Nicholas Church, Solohead by an immense crowd of Tipperary people. He was buried at Kilfeacle graveyard, where despite a large presence of British military personnel, a volley of shots was fired over the grave. Seán Treacy’s death is remembered each year on the anniversary of his death at a commemoration ceremony in Kilfeacle. At noon on the morning of All-Ireland Senior Hurling Finals in which Tipperary participate, a ceremony of remembrance is also held at the spot in Talbot Street where he died, attended mainly by people from West Tipperary and Dublin people of Tipperary extraction. The last such ceremony was held at midday on Sunday, 5 September, 2010 and attracted a large attendance, most of whom were en route to Croke Park.
In Thurles, Co.Tipperary there is an avenue named after him – Seán Treacy Avenue. The town of Tipperary is also home to the Seán Treacy Memorial Swimming Pool which contains many relics of the Easter Rising and IRA, as well as a copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
The song “Seán Treacy”, also called Tipperary so Far Away is about Treacy’s death and is still sung with pride in West Tipperary

Dan Breen

Daniel “Dan” Breen (Irish: Dónall Ó Braoin) (11 August 1894 – 27 December 1969) was a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. In later years, he was a Fianna Fáil politician.
Dan Breen was born in Grange, Donohill parish, South Tipperary. His father died when Dan was six, leaving them very poor. Looking back on his upbringing in a family of tenant farmers, Breen recalled in a 1967 interview,
“I remember an Englishman asking me in England, oh, about thirty years ago, is it true that we kept the pig in the kitchen. ‘No, we’d have him in the bedroom,’ I said. ‘If we didn’t,’ I said, ‘we couldn’t pay the rent to bastards like you.'”
He was educated locally before becoming a plasterer, and later a linesman on the Great Southern Railway.
Revolutionary
Breen was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1912 and the Irish Volunteers in 1914. On 21 January 1919, the day the First Dáil met in Dublin, Breen took part in an ambush at Soloheadbeg. The ambush party, led by Seán Treacy, attacked a group of Royal Irish Constabulary men who were escorting explosives to a quarry. Two policemen were fatally shot during the ensuing gunfight. The ambush is considered to be the first battle of the Irish War of Independence.
He later recalled:
“…we took the action deliberately, having thought over the matter and talked it over between us. Treacy had stated to me that the only way of starting a war was to kill someone, and we wanted to start a war, so we intended to kill some of the police whom we looked upon as the foremost and most important branch of the enemy forces … The only regret that we had following the ambush was that there were only two policemen in it, instead of the six we had expected…”
During the Irish War of Independence, Breen had a £10,000 price on his head,however, he quickly established himself as a leader within the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Numerous stories are known about his heroism, one of which details the rescuing of his comrade Seán Hogan at gunpoint from a heavily guarded train at Knocklong station in County Limerick. Another incident occurred in Dublin when he shot his way out through a British military cordon in the northern suburb of Drumcondra (Fernside) in which he and volunteer Seán Treacy escaped only for Treacy to be killed soon after. Breen was shot at least four times, twice of which were in the lung (the first being in the Knocklong rescue). He was present at the ambush in Ashtown on the Meath/Dublin border where Martin Savage was killed while trying to assassinate the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Sir John French, 1st Earl of Ypres.
In the June 1922 elections Breen was nominated as a candidate by both the pro- and anti-Treaty sides, but was not elected.
Irish Civil War
Breen was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1923 general election as a Republican, anti-Treaty Teachta Dála (TD) for the Tipperary constituency constituency. Following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Breen joined the Anti-Treaty IRA in the unsuccessful civil war against his former comrades in arms. He was arrested by the National Army of the Irish Free State and interned at Limerick Prison. He spent two months here before going on a Hunger strike for 6 days followed by going on thirst strike for six days. Dan Breen was then released.
Politician
Breen published an account of his guerrilla days, My Fight for Irish Freedom in 1924. He represented the Tipperary constituency from the fourth Dáil in 1923 as a “Republican”, along with Éamon de Valera and Frank Aiken. He became the first anti-Treaty TD to actually take his seat in 1927. He was defeated in the June 1927 general election and decided to travel to the United States where he opened a prohibition speakeasy. He returned to Ireland and regained his seat as a member of Fianna Fáil in the Dáil at the 1932 general election. During World War II he was known to hold largely pro-Axis views although he was not as some have suggested anti-semitic. In 1948 an Irish-American visited Breen and was shocked to see two pictures of Adolf Hitler on the wall of Breen’s study. Breen explained to him: “He fought for freedom but not for democracy”. He represented his Tipperary constituency without a break until his retirement at the 1965 election.
Death
He died in Dublin in 1969 and was buried in Donohill, near the place of his birth. His funeral was the largest seen in West Tipperary since his close friend and comrade-in-arms, Seán Treacy was buried at Kilfeacle in October 1920. An estimated attendance of 10,000 mourners assembled in the tiny hamlet, giving ample testimony to the esteem in which he was held. Breen was the subject of a 2007 biography, Dan Breen and the IRA by Joe Ambrose.

Cathal Brugha

Brugha was born in Dublin of mixed Irish Catholic and Irish Protestant parentage. His father, Thomas, was a cabinet maker and antique dealer who had been disinherited by his family for marrying a Catholic. He was the tenth of fourteen children and was educated at the Jesuit Belvedere College, but was forced to leave at the age of sixteen due to the failure of his father’s business. He went on to set up a church candle manufacturing firm with two brothers, Anthony and Vincent Lalor, and took on the role of travelling salesman.
Political activity
In 1899 Brugha joined the Gaelic League and changed his name from Charles Burgess to Cathal Brugha. He met his future wife, Kathleen Kingston, at an Irish class in Birr, County Offaly and they married in 1912. They had six children, five girls and one boy. Brugha became actively involved in the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and in 1913 he became a lieutenant in the Irish Volunteers. He led a group of twenty Volunteers to receive the arms smuggled into Ireland in the Howth gun-running of 1914.
He was second-in-command at the South Dublin Union under Commandant Éamonn Ceannt in the Easter Rising of 1916. During the fighting he was severely wounded by a hand grenade, as well as by multiple gunshot wounds, and was initially not considered likely to survive. He recovered over the next year, but was left with a permanent limp.
War of Independence:

Cathal Brugha commemorative plaque in O’Connell Street, Dublin. (Bullet marked stonework included as part of memorial)

Cathal Brugha commemorative plaque in O’Connell Street, Dublin. (Bullet marked stonework included as part of memorial)
Brugha organised an amalgamation of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army into the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He proposed a Republican constitution at the 1917 Sinn Féin convention which was unanimously accepted. In October 1917 he became Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army and held that post until March 1919.
He was elected as a Sinn Féin MP for the County Waterford constituency at the 1918 general election. In January 1919, Sinn Féin MPs refused to recognise the Parliament of the United Kingdom and instead assembled at the Mansion House in Dublin as a revolutionary parliament called Dáil Éireann. Due to the absence of Éamon de Valera and Arthur Griffith, Brugha presided over the first meeting of Dáil Éireann on 21 January 1919.
He was known for his bitter enmity towards Michael Collins, who, although nominally only the IRA’s Director of Intelligence, had far more influence in the organisation as a result of his position as a high ranking member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, an organisation that Brugha saw as undermining the power of the Dáil and especially the Ministry for Defence. Brugha opposed the oath of allegiance required for membership of the IRB and in 1919 his proposition that all Volunteers should swear allegiance to the Irish Republic and the Dáil was adopted. At a top-level IRA meeting in August 1920, Brugha argued against ambushes of Crown forces unless there was first a call to surrender, but this was dismissed as unrealistic by the brigade commanders present. Brugha also had the idea of moving the front line of the war to England, but was opposed by Collins.
Civil War
Cathal Brugha’s grave
On 7 January 1922 Brugha voted against the Anglo-Irish Treaty. During the Treaty Debates he pointed out that Collins only had a middling rank in the Department for Defence which supervised the IRA, Arthur Griffith hailed him as ‘the man who had won the war’. It has been argued that by turning the issue into a vote on Collins’ popularity Brugha swung the majority against his own side; Frank O’Connor in his biography of Collins states that 2 delegates who had intended to vote against the Treaty changed sides in sympathy with Collins. He left the Dáil and was replaced as Minister for Defence by Richard Mulcahy. In the months between the Treaty debates and the outbreak of Civil War Brugha attempted to dissuade his fellow anti-treaty army leaders including Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows and Joe McKelvey from taking up arms against the Free State. When the IRA occupied the Four Courts he and Oscar Traynor called on them to abandon their position. When they refused, Traynor ordered the occupation of the area around O’Connell Street in the hope of easing the pressure on the Four Courts and of forcing the Free State to negotiate. On 28 June 1922 Brugha was appointed commandant of the forces in O’Connell Street. The outbreak of the Irish Civil War ensued in the first week of July when Free State forces commenced shelling of the anti-treaty positions.
Most of the anti-Treaty fighters under Oscar Traynor escaped from O’Connell Street when the buildings they were holding caught fire, leaving Brugha in command of a small rearguard. On 5 July he ordered his men to surrender, but refused to do so himself. He then approached the Free State troops, brandishing a revolver. He sustained a bullet wound to the leg which ‘severed a major artery causing him to bleed to death’. He died on 7 July 1922, 11 days before his 48th birthday. He had been re-elected as an anti-Treaty TD at the 1922 general election but died before the Dáil assembled.He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.
His wife Caitlín Brugha served as a Sinn Féin TD from 1923–27. His son, Ruairí Brugha later became a Fianna Fáil politician and was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1973 general election. Ruairí married the daughter of Terence MacSwiney, the Republican Lord Mayor of Cork who had died on hunger-strike in 1920.

rugha was born in Dublin of mixed Irish Catholic and Irish Protestant parentage. His father, Thomas, was a cabinet maker and antique dealer who had been disinherited by his family for marrying a Catholic. He was the tenth of fourteen children and was educated at the Jesuit Belvedere College, but was forced to leave at the age of sixteen due to the failure of his father’s business. He went on to set up a church candle manufacturing firm with two brothers, Anthony and Vincent Lalor, and took on the role of travelling salesman.[edit]Political activity
In 1899 Brugha joined the Gaelic League and changed his name from Charles Burgess to Cathal Brugha. He met his future wife, Kathleen Kingston, at an Irish class in Birr, County Offaly and they married in 1912. They had six children, five girls and one boy. Brugha became actively involved in the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and in 1913 he became a lieutenant in the Irish Volunteers. He led a group of twenty Volunteers to receive the arms smuggled into Ireland in the Howth gun-running of 1914.He was second-in-command at the South Dublin Union under Commandant Éamonn Ceannt in the Easter Rising of 1916. During the fighting he was severely wounded by a hand grenade, as well as by multiple gunshot wounds, and was initially not considered likely to survive. He recovered over the next year, but was left with a permanent limp.War of Independence

Cathal Brugha commemorative plaque in O’Connell Street, Dublin. (Bullet marked stonework included as part of memorial)Brugha organised an amalgamation of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army into the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He proposed a Republican constitution at the 1917 Sinn Féin convention which was unanimously accepted. In October 1917 he became Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army and held that post until March 1919.He was elected as a Sinn Féin MP for the County Waterford constituency at the 1918 general election.In January 1919, Sinn Féin MPs refused to recognise the Parliament of the United Kingdom and instead assembled at the Mansion House in Dublin as a revolutionary parliament called Dáil Éireann. Due to the absence of Éamon de Valera and Arthur Griffith, Brugha presided over the first meeting of Dáil Éireann on 21 January 1919.He was known for his bitter enmity towards Michael Collins, who, although nominally only the IRA’s Director of Intelligence, had far more influence in the organisation as a result of his position as a high ranking member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, an organisation that Brugha saw as undermining the power of the Dáil and especially the Ministry for Defence. Brugha opposed the oath of allegiance required for membership of the IRB and in 1919 his proposition that all Volunteers should swear allegiance to the Irish Republic and the Dáil was adopted. At a top-level IRA meeting in August 1920, Brugha argued against ambushes of Crown forces unless there was first a call to surrender, but this was dismissed as unrealistic by the brigade commanders present. Brugha also had the idea of moving the front line of the war to England, but was opposed by Collins.Civil War

Cathal Brugha’s graveOn 7 January 1922 Brugha voted against the Anglo-Irish Treaty. During the Treaty Debates he pointed out that Collins only had a middling rank in the Department for Defence which supervised the IRA, Arthur Griffith hailed him as ‘the man who had won the war’. It has been argued that by turning the issue into a vote on Collins’ popularity Brugha swung the majority against his own side; Frank O’Connor in his biography of Collins states that 2 delegates who had intended to vote against the Treaty changed sides in sympathy with Collins. He left the Dáil and was replaced as Minister for Defence by Richard Mulcahy. In the months between the Treaty debates and the outbreak of Civil War Brugha attempted to dissuade his fellow anti-treaty army leaders including Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows and Joe McKelvey from taking up arms against the Free State. When the IRA occupied the Four Courts he and Oscar Traynor called on them to abandon their position. When they refused, Traynor ordered the occupation of the area around O’Connell Street in the hope of easing the pressure on the Four Courts and of forcing the Free State to negotiate. On 28 June 1922 Brugha was appointed commandant of the forces in O’Connell Street. The outbreak of the Irish Civil War ensued in the first week of July when Free State forces commenced shelling of the anti-treaty positions.Most of the anti-Treaty fighters under Oscar Traynor escaped from O’Connell Street when the buildings they were holding caught fire, leaving Brugha in command of a small rearguard. On 5 July he ordered his men to surrender, but refused to do so himself. He then approached the Free State troops, brandishing a revolver. He sustained a bullet wound to the leg which ‘severed a major artery causing him to bleed to death’. He died on 7 July 1922, 11 days before his 48th birthday. He had been re-elected as an anti-Treaty TD at the 1922 general election but died before the Dáil assembled.He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.His wife Caitlín Brugha served as a Sinn Féin TD from 1923–27. His son, Ruairí Brugha later became a Fianna Fáil politician and was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1973 general election. Ruairí married the daughter of Terence MacSwiney, the Republican Lord Mayor of Cork who had died on hunger-strike in 1920.

General Michael Collins

(TD) for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army. Throughout this time, at least as of 1919, he was also President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and, therefore, under the bylaws of the Brotherhood, President of the Irish Republic. Collins was shot and killed in August 1922, during the Irish Civil War.
Although most Irish political parties recognise his contribution to the foundation of the modern Irish state, supporters of Fine Gael hold his memory in particular esteem, regarding him as their movement’s founding father, through his link to their precursor Cumann na nGaedheal.

The Home of Michael Collins, Woodfield, Co Cork

Born in Sam’s Cross, West Cork, Collins was the third son and youngest of eight children. Most biographies state his date of birth as 16 October 1890; however, his tombstone gives his date of birth as 12 October 1890. His father, also named Michael, had become a member of the republican Fenian movement, but had left and settled down to farming. The elder Collins was 60 years old when he married Marianne O’Brien, then 23, in 1875. The marriage was apparently happy and they raised eight children on their 90 acre (36 ha) farm in Woodfield. Michael was the youngest child; he was only six years old when his father died. On his death bed his father (who was the seventh son of a seventh son) predicted that his daughter Helena (one of Michael’s elder sisters) would become a nun (which she did, known as Sister Mary Celestine, based in London).He then turned to the family and told them to take care of Michael, because “One day he’ll be a great man. He’ll do great work for Ireland.”

Bust of Michael Collins

Collins was a bright and precocious child, with a fiery temper and a passionate feeling of nationalism. This was spurred on by a local blacksmith, James Santry, and later, at the Lisavaird National School by a local school headmaster, Denis Lyons, a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).
After leaving school aged 15, Collins took the British Civil Service examination in Cork in February 1906, and was then employed by the Royal Mail from July 1906.[citation needed] In 1910, he moved to London where he became a messenger at a London firm of stock brokers, Horne and Company. While in London he lived with his elder sister, and studied at King’s College London. He joined the London GAA and, through this, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret, oath-bound society dedicated to achieving Irish independence. Sam Maguire, a Church of Ireland republican from Dunmanway, County Cork, introduced the 19-year-old Collins into the IRB.In 1915, he moved to the Guaranty Trust Company of New York where he remained until his return to Ireland the following year.
Michael Collins first became known during the Easter Rising in 1916. A skilled organiser of considerable intelligence, he was highly respected in the IRB, so much so that he was made financial advisor to Count Plunkett, father of one of the Rising’s organisers, Joseph Mary Plunkett, whose aide-de-camp Collins later became.
When the Rising itself took place on Easter Monday, 1916, he fought alongside Patrick Pearse and others in the General Post Office in Dublin. The Rising became (as expected by many) a military disaster. While some celebrated the fact that a rising had happened at all, believing in Pearse’s theory of “blood sacrifice” (namely that the deaths of the Rising’s leaders would inspire others), Collins railed against it, notably the seizure of indefensible and very vulnerable positions such as St Stephen’s Green that were impossible to escape from and difficult to supply. (During the War of Independence he ensured the avoidance of such sitting targets, with his soldiers operating as “flying columns” who waged a guerrilla war against the British, suddenly attacking then just as quickly withdrawing, minimising losses and maximising effectiveness.)
Collins, like many of the other participants, was arrested, almost executed and was imprisoned up at Frongoch internment camp. Collins became one of the leading figures in the post-rising Sinn Féin, a small nationalist party which the British government and the Irish media wrongly blamed for the Rising. It was quickly infiltrated by participants in the Rising, so as to capitalise on the “notoriety” the movement had gained through British attacks. By October 1917, Collins had risen to become a member of the executive of Sinn Féin and director of organisation of the Irish Volunteers; Éamon de Valera was president of both organisations.
Like all senior Sinn Féin members, Collins was nominated in the 1918 general election to elect Irish MPs to the British House of Commons in London. As was the case throughout much of Ireland (with many seats uncontested), Collins won for Sinn Féin, becoming MP for Cork South. However, unlike their rivals in the Irish Parliamentary Party, Sinn Féin MPs had announced that they would not take their seats in Westminster, but instead would set up an Irish Parliament in Dublin.
That new parliament, called Dáil Éireann (meaning “Assembly of Ireland”, see First Dáil) met in the Mansion House, Dublin in January 1919, although De Valera and leading Sinn Féin MPs had been arrested. Collins, tipped off by his network of spies, had warned his colleagues of the dangers of arrest; de Valera and others ignored the warnings, believing if the arrests happened they would constitute a propaganda coup. In de Valera’s absence, Cathal Brugha was elected Príomh Aire (‘Main’ or ‘Prime’, Minister’, but often translated as ‘President of Dáil Éireann’), to be replaced by de Valera, when Collins helped him escape from Lincoln Prison in April 1919.
In 1919, Collins had a number of roles. That summer he was elected president of the IRB (and therefore, in the doctrine of that organisation, de jure President of the Irish Republic). In September he was made Director of Intelligence of the Irish Republican Army, as the Volunteers had come to be known (the organisation’s claim to be the army of the Irish Republic was ratified by the Dáil in January 1919). The Irish War of Independence in effect began on the same day that the First Dáil met on 21 January 1919, when an ambush party of IRA volunteers acting without orders and led by Seán Treacy, attacked a group of Royal Irish Constabulary men who were escorting a consignment of gelignite to a quarry in Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary. Two policemen were shot dead during the engagement and the ambush is considered to be the first action taken in the Irish War of Independence.
In 1919, the already busy Collins received yet another responsibility when de Valera appointed him to the Aireacht (ministry) as Minister for Finance.[11] Understandably, in the circumstances of a brutal war, in which ministers were liable to be arrested or killed by the Royal Irish Constabulary, the British Army, the Black and Tans or the Auxiliaries at a moment’s notice, most of the ministries existed only on paper, or as one or two people working in a room of a private house.
This was not the case with Collins, however, who produced a Finance Ministry that was able to organise a large bond issue in the form of a “National Loan” to fund the new Irish Republic. The Russian Republic, in the midst of its own civil war, ordered Ludwig Martens, head of the Soviet Bureau in New York City, to acquire a “national loan” from the Irish Republic through Harry Boland, offering some of the Russian Crown Jewels as collateral (the jewels remained in a Dublin safe, forgotten by all sides, until the 1930s, when they were found by chance).
Collins created a special assassination unit called The Squad designed to kill British agents; arranged the “National Loan”; organised the IRA; effectively led the government when de Valera travelled to and remained in the United States for an extended period of time; and managed an arms-smuggling operation.
Collins and Richard Mulcahy were the two principal organisers for the Irish Republican Army, insofar as it was possible to direct the actions of scattered and heavily localised guerrilla units. Collins is often credited with organising the IRA’s guerrilla “flying columns” during the War of Independence, although to suggest Collins organised this single handedly would be false. He had a prominent part in the formation of the flying columns but the main organiser would have been Dick McKee, later killed by the British in disputed circumstances on Bloody Sunday. In addition, a great deal of IRA activity was carried out on the initiative of local leaders, with tactics and overall strategy developed by Collins or Mulcahy.
In 1920, the British offered a bounty of £10,000 (equivalent to GB£300,000 / €360,000 in 2010) for information leading to the capture or death of Collins. His fame had so transcended the IRA movement that he was nicknamed “The Big Fellow”. Irish author Frank O’Connor, who participated in the Irish Civil War, gave a different account of the nickname. He said that it began as an ironic, even scornful, reference to Collins’ efforts to be taken seriously by others, seen as bordering on self-importance.
In July 1921, the British suddenly offered a truce. Collins later said that at that time, the IRA was weeks–or even days–from collapse for want of ammunition. He added that when he and his colleagues heard of the truce offer, “Frankly, we thought they were mad.”[citation needed] Arrangements were made for a conference between the British government and the leaders of the as-yet unrecognised Irish Republic. Other than the Soviet Union, no other state gave diplomatic recognition to the 1919 republic, despite sustained lobbying in Washington by de Valera and prominent Irish-Americans, as well as attempts (by Irish-Americans and others) to have representatives of the Irish Republic[13] invited to the 1919 Versailles conference by Seán T. O’Kelly.
In August 1921, de Valera made the Dáil upgrade his office from Prime Minister to President of the Irish Republic, which ostensibly made him equivalent to George V in the negotiations. Earlier while in America, Dev had begun using the title “President” while speaking across that country trying to raise funds, a move which brought him into conflict with some members of the IRB, whose constitution and bylaws declared their own president, Collins in this case, President of the Irish Republic.Eventually, however, he announced that as the King would not attend, then neither would he. Instead, with the reluctant agreement of his cabinet, de Valera nominated a team of delegates headed by Vice-President Arthur Griffith, with Collins as his deputy. While he thought that de Valera should head the delegation, Collins agreed to go to London.
The majority of the Irish Treaty delegates including Arthur Griffith (leader), Robert Barton and Eamonn Duggan (with Robert Erskine Childers as Secretary General to the delegation) set up headquarters at 22 Hans Place in Knightsbridge on 11 October 1921 and resided there until conclusion of the negotiations in December. Collins took up separate quarters at 15 Cadogan Gardens. His personal staff included Liam Tobin, Ned Broy and Joe McGrath.[15] Collins himself protested his appointment as envoy plenipotentiary, as he was not a statesman and his revelation to the British (he had previously kept his public presence to a minimum) would reduce his effectiveness as a guerilla leader should hostilities resume.
The negotiations ultimately resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty which was signed on 6 December 1921, which envisaged a new Irish state, to be named the “Irish Free State” (a literal translation from the Irish language term Saorstát Éireann), which appeared on the letterhead de Valera used, though de Valera had translated it less literally as the Irish Republic.”Saorstat Eireann” was, in fact, the title used for the Irish Republic in the proclamation of the provisional government in 1916.
The treaty provided for a possible all-Ireland state, subject to the right of a six-county region in the northeast to opt out of the Free State. If this happened, an Irish Boundary Commission was to be established to redraw the Irish border, which Collins expected would so reduce the size of Northern Ireland as to make it economically unviable, thus enabling unity, as most of the unionist population was concentrated in a relatively small area in eastern Ulster. The Irish Free State was established in December 1922, and as expected, Northern Ireland exercised its option to remain part of the United Kingdom proper.
The new state was to be a Dominion, with a bicameral parliament, executive authority vested in the king but exercised by an Irish government elected by a lower house called Dáil Éireann (translated this time as “Chamber of Deputies”), an independent courts system, and a level of internal independence that far exceeded anything sought by Charles Stewart Parnell or the subsequent Irish Parliamentary Party.
While it fell short of the republic that he’d originally fought to create, Collins concluded that the Treaty offered Ireland “the freedom to achieve freedom.” Nonetheless, he knew that the treaty, and in particular the issue of partition, would not be well received in Ireland. Upon signing the treaty, he remarked “I have signed my own death warrant.”
Republican purists saw it as a sell-out, with the replacement of the republic by dominion status within the British Empire, and an Oath of Allegiance made (it was then claimed) directly to the King. The actual wording shows that the oath was made to the Irish Free State, with a subsidiary oath of fidelity to the King as part of the Treaty settlement, not to the king unilaterally.
Sinn Féin split over the treaty, and the Dáil debated the matter bitterly for ten days until it was approved by a vote of 64 to 57. The Supreme Council of the IRB, which had been kept informed in detail about every facet of the Treaty negotiations and which had approved many of its provisions, voted unanimously to accept the Treaty, with the single notable exception of later COS of the IRA Liam Lynch. De Valera joined the anti-treaty faction opposing the concessions. His opponents charged that he had prior knowledge that the crown would have to feature in whatever form of settlement was agreed.
The Treaty was extremely controversial in Ireland. First, Éamon de Valera, President of the Irish Republic until 9 January, had been unhappy that Collins had signed any deal without his and his cabinet’s authorisation. Second, the contents of the Treaty were bitterly disputed. De Valera and many other members of the republican movement objected to Ireland’s status as a dominion of the British Empire and to the symbolism of having to give a statement of faithfulness to the British king to this effect. Also controversial was the British retention of Treaty Ports on the south coast of Ireland for the Royal Navy. Both of these things threatened to give Britain control over Ireland’s foreign policy. Most of the Irish Republican Army opposed the Treaty, opening the prospect of civil war.
Under the Dáil Constitution adopted in 1919, Dáil Éireann continued to exist. De Valera resigned the presidency and sought re-election (in an effort to destroy the newly approved Treaty), but Arthur Griffith replaced him after the close vote on 9 January. (Griffith called himself “President of Dáil Éireann” rather than de Valera’s more exalted “President of the Republic”.) However, this government, or Aireacht, had no legal status in British constitutional law, so another co-existent government emerged, nominally answerable to the House of Commons of Southern Ireland.
The new Provisional Government (Rialtas Sealadach na hÉireann) was formed under Collins, who became “President of the Provisional Government” (i.e., Prime Minister). He also remained Minister for Finance of Griffith’s republican administration. An example of the complexities involved can be seen even in the manner of his installation:
In British legal theory he was a Crown-appointed prime minister, installed under the Royal Prerogative. To be so installed, he had to formally meet the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Viscount Fitzalan (the head of the British administration in Ireland).
According to the republican view, Collins met Fitzalan to accept the surrender of Dublin Castle, the seat of British government in Ireland. Having surrendered, Fitzalan still remained in place as viceroy until December 1922.
According to British constitutional theory, he met Fitzalan to “kiss hands” (the formal name for the installation of a minister of the Crown), the fact of their meeting rather than the signing of any documents, duly installing him in office. Kissing hands was the only mechanism of transfer then, as the relevant British legislation only passed into law on 1 April 1922.
In his biography of Michael Collins, Tim Pat Coogan recounted that, when Lord Lieutenant Fitzalan remarked that Collins had arrived seven minutes late for the 16 January 1922 ceremony, Collins replied, “We’ve been waiting over seven hundred years, you can have the extra seven minutes”. The same tale was repeated when Richard Mulcahy took over Beggars’ Bush Barracks, and may be apocryphal.
The partition of Ireland between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland was not as controversial. One of the main reasons for this was that Collins was secretly planning to launch a clandestine guerrilla war against the Northern State. Throughout the early months of 1922, he had been sending IRA units to the border and sending arms and money to the northern units of the IRA. In May–June 1922, he and IRA Chief of Staff Liam Lynch organised an offensive of both pro- and anti-treaty IRA units along the new border. British arms supplied to Collins’ Provisional government were instead swapped with the weapons of IRA units, which were sent to the north.
This offensive was officially called off under British pressure on 3 June and Collins issued a statement that “no troops from the 26 counties, either those under official control [pro-treaty] or those attached to the [IRA] Executive [anti-treaty] should be permitted to invade the six county area.” However, low level IRA attacks on the border continued. Such activity was interrupted by the outbreak of civil war in the south, but had Collins lived, there is every chance he would have launched a full-scale guerrilla offensive against Northern Ireland. Because of this, most northern IRA units supported Collins and 524 individual volunteers came south to join the National Army in the Irish Civil War..at least until after Collins’ death; at the end of the civil war, Aiken was COS of the IRA.
In the months leading up to the outbreak of civil war in June 1922, Collins tried desperately to heal the rift in the nationalist movement and prevent civil war. De Valera, having opposed the Treaty in the Dáil, withdrew from the assembly with his supporters. Collins secured a compromise, the “Pact”, whereby the two factions of Sinn Féin, pro- and anti-Treaty, would fight the soon-to-be Free State’s first election jointly and form a coalition government afterwards.
Collins proposed that the envisaged Free State would have a republican constitution, with no mention of the British king, without repudiating the Treaty, a compromise acceptable to all but the most intransigent republicans. To foster military unity, he established an “army re-unification committee” with delegates from pro- and anti-Treaty factions. He also made efforts to use the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood of which he was president, to get IRA officers to accept the Treaty. However, the British vetoed the proposed republican constitution under the threat of an economic blockade, arguing they had signed and ratified the Treaty in good faith and its terms could not be changed so quickly. By this stage most British forces had been withdrawn from the Free State but thousands remained. Collins was therefore unable to reconcile the anti-Treaty side, whose Army Executive had anyway decided in March 1922 that it had never been subordinate to the Dáil.
On 14 April 1922, a group of 200 anti-Treaty IRA men occupied the Four Courts in Dublin in defiance of the Provisional government. Collins, who wanted to avoid civil war at all costs, did not attack them until June 1922, when British pressure also forced his hand. On 22 June 1922, Sir Henry Wilson, a retired British Army field marshal now serving as Military Advisor to the Craig Administration,[23] was shot dead by two IRA men in Belgravia, London. At the time, it was presumed that the anti-Treaty faction of the IRA were responsible and Winston Churchill told Collins that unless he moved against the Four Courts garrison, he (Churchill) would use British troops to do so.
It has since been claimed that Collins ordered the killing of Wilson in reprisal for failing to prevent the attacks on Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland. Joe Dolan—a member of Collins’ “Squad” or assassination unit in the War of Independence and in 1922 a captain in the National Army—said this in the 1950s, along with the statement that Collins had ordered him to try to rescue the two gunmen before they were executed.[24] In any event, this forced Collins to take action against the Four Courts men and the final provocation came when they kidnapped J.J. “Ginger” O’Connell, a provisional government general. After a final attempt to persuade the men to leave, Collins borrowed two 18 pounder artillery pieces from the British and bombarded the Four Courts until its garrison surrendered.[25]
This led to the Irish Civil War as fighting broke out in Dublin between the anti-Treaty IRA and the provisional government’s troops. Under Collins’ supervision, the Free State rapidly took control of the capital. In July 1922, anti-Treaty forces held the southern province of Munster and several other areas of the country. De Valera and the other anti-Treaty TDs sided with the anti-Treaty IRA. By mid-1922, Collins in effect laid down his responsibilities as Chairman of the Provisional Government to become Commander-in-Chief of the National Army, a formal, structured, uniformed army that formed around the nucleus of the pro-Treaty IRA. The Free State Army that was armed and funded by the British was rapidly expanded with Irish veterans of the British Army (a large number of whom may presumed to have been previously members of John Redmond’s “National Volunteers” after the split from the original Irish Volunteers) and young men unassociated with the Volunteers during the war to fight the civil war.
Collins, along with Richard Mulcahy and Eoin O’Duffy decided on a series of seaborne landings into republican held areas that re-took Munster and the west in July–August 1922. As part of this offensive, Collins travelled to his native Cork, against the advice of his companions, and despite suffering from stomach ache and depression. Collins reputedly told his comrades that “They wouldn’t shoot me in my own county”.[29] It has been questioned why Collins put himself in such danger by visiting the south of the country while much of it was still held by hostile forces. What historian Michael Hopkinson describes as ‘plentiful oral evidence’ suggests that Collins’ purpose was to meet Republican leaders in order to bring the war to an end. In Cork city, he met with neutral IRA men Seán O’Hegarty and Florrie O’Donoghue, with a view to contacting Anti-Treaty IRA leaders Tom Barry and Tom Hales to propose a truce.Hopkinson asserts though that, although Éamon de Valera was in west Cork at the time, “there is no evidence that there was any prospect of a meeting between de Valera and Collins”.
Collins’ personal diary outlined his plan for peace. Republicans must “accept the People’s Verdict” on the Treaty, but could then “go home without their arms. We don’t ask for any surrender of their principles”. He argued that the Provisional Government was upholding “the people’s rights” and would continue to do so. “We want to avoid any possible unnecessary destruction and loss of life. We do not want to mitigate their weakness by resolute action beyond what is required”. But if Republicans did not accept his terms, “further blood is on their shoulders”.
The last known photograph of Collins alive was taken as he made his way through Bandon, County Cork in the back of an army vehicle. He is pictured outside White’s Hotel (now Munster Arms) on 22 August 1922. On the road to Bandon, at the village of Béal na mBláth (Irish, “the Mouth of Flowers”), Collins’ column stopped to ask directions. However the man whom they asked, Dinny Long, was also a member of the local Anti-Treaty IRA. An ambush was then prepared for the convoy when it made its return journey back to Cork city. They knew Collins would return by the same route as the two other roads from Bandon to Cork had been rendered impassable by Republicans. The ambush party, commanded by Liam Deasy, had mostly dispersed to a nearby pub by 8:00 p.m., when Collins and his men returned to Béal na mBlath but the remaining five ambushers on the scene opened fire on Collins’s convoy. The ambushers had laid a mine on the scene, which could have killed many more people in Collins’s party, but they had disconnected it by the time the firing broke out.
Kitty Kiernan, Collins’ fiancée.
Collins was killed in the subsequent gun battle, which lasted about 20 minutes, from 8:00 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. He was the only fatality. He had ordered his convoy to stop and return fire, instead of choosing the safer option of driving on in his touring car or transferring to the safety of the accompanying armoured car, as his companion, Emmet Dalton, had wished. He was killed while exchanging rifle fire with the ambushers. Under the cover of the armoured car, Collins’s body was loaded into the touring car and driven back to Cork. At the time of his death, he was engaged to Kitty Kiernan.
There is no consensus as to who fired the fatal shot. The most recent authoritative account suggests that the shot was fired by Denis (“Sonny”) O’Neill, an Anti-Treaty IRA fighter and a former British Army marksman who died in 1950.[33] This is supported by eyewitness accounts of the participants in the ambush. O’Neill was using dum-dum ammunition, which disintegrates on impact and which left a gaping wound in Collins’s skull. He dumped the remaining bullets afterwards for fear of reprisals by Free State troops.
Collins’s men brought his body back to Cork where it was then shipped to Dublin because it was feared the body might be stolen in an ambush if it were transported by road.[33] His body lay in state for three days in Dublin City Hall where tens of thousands of mourners filed past his coffin to pay their respects. His funeral mass took place at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral where a number of foreign and Irish dignitaries were in attendance. Some 500,000 people attended his funeral, almost one fifth of the country’s population.
Collins’ grave.
Collins’s shooting has provoked many conspiracy theories in Ireland, and even the identity and motives of the assassin are subject to debate. Some Republicans maintain that Collins was killed by a British “plant”. Some Pro-Treaty accounts claim that de Valera ordered Collins’ assassination. Others allege that he was killed by one of his own soldiers, Jock McPeak, who defected to the Republican side with an armoured car three months after the ambush.[34] However, historian Meda Ryan, who researched the incident exhaustively, concluded that there was no real basis for such theories. “Michael Collins was shot by a Republican, who said [on the night of the ambush], ‘I dropped one man'”. Liam Deasy, who was in command of the ambush party, said, “We all knew it was Sonny O’Neill’s bullet.”[35]
Eamon de Valera is reported to have stated in 1966:
“I can’t see my way to becoming Patron of the Michael Collins Foundation. It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Collins and it will be recorded at my expense”
However, there is some doubt that de Valera ever made this controversial statement.

(TD) for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army. Throughout this time, at least as of 1919, he was also President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and, therefore, under the bylaws of the Brotherhood, President of the Irish Republic. Collins was shot and killed in August 1922, during the Irish Civil War.Although most Irish political parties recognise his contribution to the foundation of the modern Irish state, supporters of Fine Gael hold his memory in particular esteem, regarding him as their movement’s founding father, through his link to their precursor Cumann na nGaedheal.
Born in Sam’s Cross, West Cork, Collins was the third son and youngest of eight children. Most biographies state his date of birth as 16 October 1890; however, his tombstone gives his date of birth as 12 October 1890. His father, also named Michael, had become a member of the republican Fenian movement, but had left and settled down to farming. The elder Collins was 60 years old when he married Marianne O’Brien, then 23, in 1875. The marriage was apparently happy and they raised eight children on their 90 acre (36 ha) farm in Woodfield. Michael was the youngest child; he was only six years old when his father died. On his death bed his father (who was the seventh son of a seventh son) predicted that his daughter Helena (one of Michael’s elder sisters) would become a nun (which she did, known as Sister Mary Celestine, based in London).He then turned to the family and told them to take care of Michael, because “One day he’ll be a great man. He’ll do great work for Ireland.”Collins was a bright and precocious child, with a fiery temper and a passionate feeling of nationalism. This was spurred on by a local blacksmith, James Santry, and later, at the Lisavaird National School by a local school headmaster, Denis Lyons, a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).After leaving school aged 15, Collins took the British Civil Service examination in Cork in February 1906, and was then employed by the Royal Mail from July 1906.[citation needed] In 1910, he moved to London where he became a messenger at a London firm of stock brokers, Horne and Company. While in London he lived with his elder sister, and studied at King’s College London. He joined the London GAA and, through this, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret, oath-bound society dedicated to achieving Irish independence. Sam Maguire, a Church of Ireland republican from Dunmanway, County Cork, introduced the 19-year-old Collins into the IRB.In 1915, he moved to the Guaranty Trust Company of New York where he remained until his return to Ireland the following year.
Michael Collins first became known during the Easter Rising in 1916. A skilled organiser of considerable intelligence, he was highly respected in the IRB, so much so that he was made financial advisor to Count Plunkett, father of one of the Rising’s organisers, Joseph Mary Plunkett, whose aide-de-camp Collins later became.When the Rising itself took place on Easter Monday, 1916, he fought alongside Patrick Pearse and others in the General Post Office in Dublin. The Rising became (as expected by many) a military disaster. While some celebrated the fact that a rising had happened at all, believing in Pearse’s theory of “blood sacrifice” (namely that the deaths of the Rising’s leaders would inspire others), Collins railed against it, notably the seizure of indefensible and very vulnerable positions such as St Stephen’s Green that were impossible to escape from and difficult to supply. (During the War of Independence he ensured the avoidance of such sitting targets, with his soldiers operating as “flying columns” who waged a guerrilla war against the British, suddenly attacking then just as quickly withdrawing, minimising losses and maximising effectiveness.)
Collins, like many of the other participants, was arrested, almost executed and was imprisoned up at Frongoch internment camp. Collins became one of the leading figures in the post-rising Sinn Féin, a small nationalist party which the British government and the Irish media wrongly blamed for the Rising. It was quickly infiltrated by participants in the Rising, so as to capitalise on the “notoriety” the movement had gained through British attacks. By October 1917, Collins had risen to become a member of the executive of Sinn Féin and director of organisation of the Irish Volunteers; Éamon de Valera was president of both organisations.

Like all senior Sinn Féin members, Collins was nominated in the 1918 general election to elect Irish MPs to the British House of Commons in London. As was the case throughout much of Ireland (with many seats uncontested), Collins won for Sinn Féin, becoming MP for Cork South. However, unlike their rivals in the Irish Parliamentary Party, Sinn Féin MPs had announced that they would not take their seats in Westminster, but instead would set up an Irish Parliament in Dublin.That new parliament, called Dáil Éireann (meaning “Assembly of Ireland”, see First Dáil) met in the Mansion House, Dublin in January 1919, although De Valera and leading Sinn Féin MPs had been arrested. Collins, tipped off by his network of spies, had warned his colleagues of the dangers of arrest; de Valera and others ignored the warnings, believing if the arrests happened they would constitute a propaganda coup. In de Valera’s absence, Cathal Brugha was elected Príomh Aire (‘Main’ or ‘Prime’, Minister’, but often translated as ‘President of Dáil Éireann’), to be replaced by de Valera, when Collins helped him escape from Lincoln Prison in April 1919.In 1919, Collins had a number of roles. That summer he was elected president of the IRB (and therefore, in the doctrine of that organisation, de jure President of the Irish Republic). In September he was made Director of Intelligence of the Irish Republican Army, as the Volunteers had come to be known (the organisation’s claim to be the army of the Irish Republic was ratified by the Dáil in January 1919). The Irish War of Independence in effect began on the same day that the First Dáil met on 21 January 1919, when an ambush party of IRA volunteers acting without orders and led by Seán Treacy, attacked a group of Royal Irish Constabulary men who were escorting a consignment of gelignite to a quarry in Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary. Two policemen were shot dead during the engagement and the ambush is considered to be the first action taken in the Irish War of Independence.
In 1919, the already busy Collins received yet another responsibility when de Valera appointed him to the Aireacht (ministry) as Minister for Finance.[11] Understandably, in the circumstances of a brutal war, in which ministers were liable to be arrested or killed by the Royal Irish Constabulary, the British Army, the Black and Tans or the Auxiliaries at a moment’s notice, most of the ministries existed only on paper, or as one or two people working in a room of a private house.This was not the case with Collins, however, who produced a Finance Ministry that was able to organise a large bond issue in the form of a “National Loan” to fund the new Irish Republic. The Russian Republic, in the midst of its own civil war, ordered Ludwig Martens, head of the Soviet Bureau in New York City, to acquire a “national loan” from the Irish Republic through Harry Boland, offering some of the Russian Crown Jewels as collateral (the jewels remained in a Dublin safe, forgotten by all sides, until the 1930s, when they were found by chance).Collins created a special assassination unit called The Squad designed to kill British agents; arranged the “National Loan”; organised the IRA; effectively led the government when de Valera travelled to and remained in the United States for an extended period of time; and managed an arms-smuggling operation.Collins and Richard Mulcahy were the two principal organisers for the Irish Republican Army, insofar as it was possible to direct the actions of scattered and heavily localised guerrilla units. Collins is often credited with organising the IRA’s guerrilla “flying columns” during the War of Independence, although to suggest Collins organised this single handedly would be false. He had a prominent part in the formation of the flying columns but the main organiser would have been Dick McKee, later killed by the British in disputed circumstances on Bloody Sunday. In addition, a great deal of IRA activity was carried out on the initiative of local leaders, with tactics and overall strategy developed by Collins or Mulcahy.In 1920, the British offered a bounty of £10,000 (equivalent to GB£300,000 / €360,000 in 2010) for information leading to the capture or death of Collins. His fame had so transcended the IRA movement that he was nicknamed “The Big Fellow”. Irish author Frank O’Connor, who participated in the Irish Civil War, gave a different account of the nickname. He said that it began as an ironic, even scornful, reference to Collins’ efforts to be taken seriously by others, seen as bordering on self-importance.In July 1921, the British suddenly offered a truce. Collins later said that at that time, the IRA was weeks–or even days–from collapse for want of ammunition. He added that when he and his colleagues heard of the truce offer, “Frankly, we thought they were mad.”[citation needed] Arrangements were made for a conference between the British government and the leaders of the as-yet unrecognised Irish Republic. Other than the Soviet Union, no other state gave diplomatic recognition to the 1919 republic, despite sustained lobbying in Washington by de Valera and prominent Irish-Americans, as well as attempts (by Irish-Americans and others) to have representatives of the Irish Republic[13] invited to the 1919 Versailles conference by Seán T. O’Kelly.In August 1921, de Valera made the Dáil upgrade his office from Prime Minister to President of the Irish Republic, which ostensibly made him equivalent to George V in the negotiations. Earlier while in America, Dev had begun using the title “President” while speaking across that country trying to raise funds, a move which brought him into conflict with some members of the IRB, whose constitution and bylaws declared their own president, Collins in this case, President of the Irish Republic.Eventually, however, he announced that as the King would not attend, then neither would he. Instead, with the reluctant agreement of his cabinet, de Valera nominated a team of delegates headed by Vice-President Arthur Griffith, with Collins as his deputy. While he thought that de Valera should head the delegation, Collins agreed to go to London.

The majority of the Irish Treaty delegates including Arthur Griffith (leader), Robert Barton and Eamonn Duggan (with Robert Erskine Childers as Secretary General to the delegation) set up headquarters at 22 Hans Place in Knightsbridge on 11 October 1921 and resided there until conclusion of the negotiations in December. Collins took up separate quarters at 15 Cadogan Gardens. His personal staff included Liam Tobin, Ned Broy and Joe McGrath.[15] Collins himself protested his appointment as envoy plenipotentiary, as he was not a statesman and his revelation to the British (he had previously kept his public presence to a minimum) would reduce his effectiveness as a guerilla leader should hostilities resume.The negotiations ultimately resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty which was signed on 6 December 1921, which envisaged a new Irish state, to be named the “Irish Free State” (a literal translation from the Irish language term Saorstát Éireann), which appeared on the letterhead de Valera used, though de Valera had translated it less literally as the Irish Republic.”Saorstat Eireann” was, in fact, the title used for the Irish Republic in the proclamation of the provisional government in 1916.The treaty provided for a possible all-Ireland state, subject to the right of a six-county region in the northeast to opt out of the Free State. If this happened, an Irish Boundary Commission was to be established to redraw the Irish border, which Collins expected would so reduce the size of Northern Ireland as to make it economically unviable, thus enabling unity, as most of the unionist population was concentrated in a relatively small area in eastern Ulster. The Irish Free State was established in December 1922, and as expected, Northern Ireland exercised its option to remain part of the United Kingdom proper.The new state was to be a Dominion, with a bicameral parliament, executive authority vested in the king but exercised by an Irish government elected by a lower house called Dáil Éireann (translated this time as “Chamber of Deputies”), an independent courts system, and a level of internal independence that far exceeded anything sought by Charles Stewart Parnell or the subsequent Irish Parliamentary Party.While it fell short of the republic that he’d originally fought to create, Collins concluded that the Treaty offered Ireland “the freedom to achieve freedom.” Nonetheless, he knew that the treaty, and in particular the issue of partition, would not be well received in Ireland. Upon signing the treaty, he remarked “I have signed my own death warrant.”Republican purists saw it as a sell-out, with the replacement of the republic by dominion status within the British Empire, and an Oath of Allegiance made (it was then claimed) directly to the King. The actual wording shows that the oath was made to the Irish Free State, with a subsidiary oath of fidelity to the King as part of the Treaty settlement, not to the king unilaterally.Sinn Féin split over the treaty, and the Dáil debated the matter bitterly for ten days until it was approved by a vote of 64 to 57. The Supreme Council of the IRB, which had been kept informed in detail about every facet of the Treaty negotiations and which had approved many of its provisions, voted unanimously to accept the Treaty, with the single notable exception of later COS of the IRA Liam Lynch. De Valera joined the anti-treaty faction opposing the concessions. His opponents charged that he had prior knowledge that the crown would have to feature in whatever form of settlement was agreed.
The Treaty was extremely controversial in Ireland. First, Éamon de Valera, President of the Irish Republic until 9 January, had been unhappy that Collins had signed any deal without his and his cabinet’s authorisation. Second, the contents of the Treaty were bitterly disputed. De Valera and many other members of the republican movement objected to Ireland’s status as a dominion of the British Empire and to the symbolism of having to give a statement of faithfulness to the British king to this effect. Also controversial was the British retention of Treaty Ports on the south coast of Ireland for the Royal Navy. Both of these things threatened to give Britain control over Ireland’s foreign policy. Most of the Irish Republican Army opposed the Treaty, opening the prospect of civil war.Under the Dáil Constitution adopted in 1919, Dáil Éireann continued to exist. De Valera resigned the presidency and sought re-election (in an effort to destroy the newly approved Treaty), but Arthur Griffith replaced him after the close vote on 9 January. (Griffith called himself “President of Dáil Éireann” rather than de Valera’s more exalted “President of the Republic”.) However, this government, or Aireacht, had no legal status in British constitutional law, so another co-existent government emerged, nominally answerable to the House of Commons of Southern Ireland.The new Provisional Government (Rialtas Sealadach na hÉireann) was formed under Collins, who became “President of the Provisional Government” (i.e., Prime Minister). He also remained Minister for Finance of Griffith’s republican administration. An example of the complexities involved can be seen even in the manner of his installation:In British legal theory he was a Crown-appointed prime minister, installed under the Royal Prerogative. To be so installed, he had to formally meet the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Viscount Fitzalan (the head of the British administration in Ireland).According to the republican view, Collins met Fitzalan to accept the surrender of Dublin Castle, the seat of British government in Ireland. Having surrendered, Fitzalan still remained in place as viceroy until December 1922.According to British constitutional theory, he met Fitzalan to “kiss hands” (the formal name for the installation of a minister of the Crown), the fact of their meeting rather than the signing of any documents, duly installing him in office. Kissing hands was the only mechanism of transfer then, as the relevant British legislation only passed into law on 1 April 1922.In his biography of Michael Collins, Tim Pat Coogan recounted that, when Lord Lieutenant Fitzalan remarked that Collins had arrived seven minutes late for the 16 January 1922 ceremony, Collins replied, “We’ve been waiting over seven hundred years, you can have the extra seven minutes”. The same tale was repeated when Richard Mulcahy took over Beggars’ Bush Barracks, and may be apocryphal.The partition of Ireland between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland was not as controversial. One of the main reasons for this was that Collins was secretly planning to launch a clandestine guerrilla war against the Northern State. Throughout the early months of 1922, he had been sending IRA units to the border and sending arms and money to the northern units of the IRA. In May–June 1922, he and IRA Chief of Staff Liam Lynch organised an offensive of both pro- and anti-treaty IRA units along the new border. British arms supplied to Collins’ Provisional government were instead swapped with the weapons of IRA units, which were sent to the north.
This offensive was officially called off under British pressure on 3 June and Collins issued a statement that “no troops from the 26 counties, either those under official control [pro-treaty] or those attached to the [IRA] Executive [anti-treaty] should be permitted to invade the six county area.” However, low level IRA attacks on the border continued. Such activity was interrupted by the outbreak of civil war in the south, but had Collins lived, there is every chance he would have launched a full-scale guerrilla offensive against Northern Ireland. Because of this, most northern IRA units supported Collins and 524 individual volunteers came south to join the National Army in the Irish Civil War..at least until after Collins’ death; at the end of the civil war, Aiken was COS of the IRA.In the months leading up to the outbreak of civil war in June 1922, Collins tried desperately to heal the rift in the nationalist movement and prevent civil war. De Valera, having opposed the Treaty in the Dáil, withdrew from the assembly with his supporters. Collins secured a compromise, the “Pact”, whereby the two factions of Sinn Féin, pro- and anti-Treaty, would fight the soon-to-be Free State’s first election jointly and form a coalition government afterwards.Collins proposed that the envisaged Free State would have a republican constitution, with no mention of the British king, without repudiating the Treaty, a compromise acceptable to all but the most intransigent republicans. To foster military unity, he established an “army re-unification committee” with delegates from pro- and anti-Treaty factions. He also made efforts to use the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood of which he was president, to get IRA officers to accept the Treaty. However, the British vetoed the proposed republican constitution under the threat of an economic blockade, arguing they had signed and ratified the Treaty in good faith and its terms could not be changed so quickly. By this stage most British forces had been withdrawn from the Free State but thousands remained. Collins was therefore unable to reconcile the anti-Treaty side, whose Army Executive had anyway decided in March 1922 that it had never been subordinate to the Dáil.
On 14 April 1922, a group of 200 anti-Treaty IRA men occupied the Four Courts in Dublin in defiance of the Provisional government. Collins, who wanted to avoid civil war at all costs, did not attack them until June 1922, when British pressure also forced his hand. On 22 June 1922, Sir Henry Wilson, a retired British Army field marshal now serving as Military Advisor to the Craig Administration,[23] was shot dead by two IRA men in Belgravia, London. At the time, it was presumed that the anti-Treaty faction of the IRA were responsible and Winston Churchill told Collins that unless he moved against the Four Courts garrison, he (Churchill) would use British troops to do so.It has since been claimed that Collins ordered the killing of Wilson in reprisal for failing to prevent the attacks on Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland. Joe Dolan—a member of Collins’ “Squad” or assassination unit in the War of Independence and in 1922 a captain in the National Army—said this in the 1950s, along with the statement that Collins had ordered him to try to rescue the two gunmen before they were executed.[24] In any event, this forced Collins to take action against the Four Courts men and the final provocation came when they kidnapped J.J. “Ginger” O’Connell, a provisional government general. After a final attempt to persuade the men to leave, Collins borrowed two 18 pounder artillery pieces from the British and bombarded the Four Courts until its garrison surrendered.[25]This led to the Irish Civil War as fighting broke out in Dublin between the anti-Treaty IRA and the provisional government’s troops. Under Collins’ supervision, the Free State rapidly took control of the capital. In July 1922, anti-Treaty forces held the southern province of Munster and several other areas of the country. De Valera and the other anti-Treaty TDs sided with the anti-Treaty IRA. By mid-1922, Collins in effect laid down his responsibilities as Chairman of the Provisional Government to become Commander-in-Chief of the National Army, a formal, structured, uniformed army that formed around the nucleus of the pro-Treaty IRA. The Free State Army that was armed and funded by the British was rapidly expanded with Irish veterans of the British Army (a large number of whom may presumed to have been previously members of John Redmond’s “National Volunteers” after the split from the original Irish Volunteers) and young men unassociated with the Volunteers during the war to fight the civil war.Collins, along with Richard Mulcahy and Eoin O’Duffy decided on a series of seaborne landings into republican held areas that re-took Munster and the west in July–August 1922. As part of this offensive, Collins travelled to his native Cork, against the advice of his companions, and despite suffering from stomach ache and depression. Collins reputedly told his comrades that “They wouldn’t shoot me in my own county”.[29] It has been questioned why Collins put himself in such danger by visiting the south of the country while much of it was still held by hostile forces. What historian Michael Hopkinson describes as ‘plentiful oral evidence’ suggests that Collins’ purpose was to meet Republican leaders in order to bring the war to an end. In Cork city, he met with neutral IRA men Seán O’Hegarty and Florrie O’Donoghue, with a view to contacting Anti-Treaty IRA leaders Tom Barry and Tom Hales to propose a truce.Hopkinson asserts though that, although Éamon de Valera was in west Cork at the time, “there is no evidence that there was any prospect of a meeting between de Valera and Collins”.Collins’ personal diary outlined his plan for peace. Republicans must “accept the People’s Verdict” on the Treaty, but could then “go home without their arms. We don’t ask for any surrender of their principles”. He argued that the Provisional Government was upholding “the people’s rights” and would continue to do so. “We want to avoid any possible unnecessary destruction and loss of life. We do not want to mitigate their weakness by resolute action beyond what is required”. But if Republicans did not accept his terms, “further blood is on their shoulders”.
The last known photograph of Collins alive was taken as he made his way through Bandon, County Cork in the back of an army vehicle. He is pictured outside White’s Hotel (now Munster Arms) on 22 August 1922. On the road to Bandon, at the village of Béal na mBláth (Irish, “the Mouth of Flowers”), Collins’ column stopped to ask directions. However the man whom they asked, Dinny Long, was also a member of the local Anti-Treaty IRA. An ambush was then prepared for the convoy when it made its return journey back to Cork city. They knew Collins would return by the same route as the two other roads from Bandon to Cork had been rendered impassable by Republicans. The ambush party, commanded by Liam Deasy, had mostly dispersed to a nearby pub by 8:00 p.m., when Collins and his men returned to Béal na mBlath but the remaining five ambushers on the scene opened fire on Collins’s convoy. The ambushers had laid a mine on the scene, which could have killed many more people in Collins’s party, but they had disconnected it by the time the firing broke out.

Kitty Kiernan, Collins’ fiancée.Collins was killed in the subsequent gun battle, which lasted about 20 minutes, from 8:00 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. He was the only fatality. He had ordered his convoy to stop and return fire, instead of choosing the safer option of driving on in his touring car or transferring to the safety of the accompanying armoured car, as his companion, Emmet Dalton, had wished. He was killed while exchanging rifle fire with the ambushers. Under the cover of the armoured car, Collins’s body was loaded into the touring car and driven back to Cork. At the time of his death, he was engaged to Kitty Kiernan.There is no consensus as to who fired the fatal shot. The most recent authoritative account suggests that the shot was fired by Denis (“Sonny”) O’Neill, an Anti-Treaty IRA fighter and a former British Army marksman who died in 1950.[33] This is supported by eyewitness accounts of the participants in the ambush. O’Neill was using dum-dum ammunition, which disintegrates on impact and which left a gaping wound in Collins’s skull. He dumped the remaining bullets afterwards for fear of reprisals by Free State troops.Collins’s men brought his body back to Cork where it was then shipped to Dublin because it was feared the body might be stolen in an ambush if it were transported by road.[33] His body lay in state for three days in Dublin City Hall where tens of thousands of mourners filed past his coffin to pay their respects. His funeral mass took place at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral where a number of foreign and Irish dignitaries were in attendance. Some 500,000 people attended his funeral, almost one fifth of the country’s population.

Collins’ grave.Collins’s shooting has provoked many conspiracy theories in Ireland, and even the identity and motives of the assassin are subject to debate. Some Republicans maintain that Collins was killed by a British “plant”. Some Pro-Treaty accounts claim that de Valera ordered Collins’ assassination. Others allege that he was killed by one of his own soldiers, Jock McPeak, who defected to the Republican side with an armoured car three months after the ambush.[34] However, historian Meda Ryan, who researched the incident exhaustively, concluded that there was no real basis for such theories. “Michael Collins was shot by a Republican, who said [on the night of the ambush], ‘I dropped one man'”. Liam Deasy, who was in command of the ambush party, said, “We all knew it was Sonny O’Neill’s bullet.”[35]Eamon de Valera is reported to have stated in 1966:”I can’t see my way to becoming Patron of the Michael Collins Foundation. It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Collins and it will be recorded at my expense”However, there is some doubt that de Valera ever made this controversial statement.

Croke Park Massacre

Sent in by séamus ó murthaile

Croke Park Massacre
Kevin Myers
It’s more than possible that Queen Elizabeth will make an apology for what happened in Croke Park in November 1920, as desired by many people. But before one is entitled to have strong opinions on historical matters, one must at least go to some trouble to learn about them.
Otherwise, one is responding merely to historical mythology, of which the Irish have far too much, and the English (and I do mean English) have almost none at all. This imbalance is one of the many permanently destabilising factors in the relations between the two peoples: one has an energetic narrative, rich in dramatic (and usually inaccurately-recollected) events, and the other has almost a completely blank-sheet about even their own history, never mind Ireland’s.
In my childhood in Leicester, whereas the Irish Myers family were all fascinated by the history of the town — supposedly named after the local king named Lear (yes, the Shakespearian chap), it was where Richard III and Cardinal Wolsey spent their last nights on this earth — none of the local children appeared to have any interest whatever.
There seemed to be almost no communal memory of any event — not even the Luftwaffe bombings in 1940. This is probably true for most of the English — and I have a virtually untestable theory that during the quarter of a millennium of a brutal Norman economic and cultural subjugation of the Anglo-Saxons, ordinary English people learnt to forget as a psychological survival mechanism. But how does one then unlearn amnesia, when one never remembers that one has it?
The Irish, however, “remember” a great deal: the problem is that their narrative is often far worse than the English blank-sheet. The general Irish account for Bloody Sunday is that some 14 British secret agents got their thoroughly deserved come-uppance that morning, and that British soldiers later murdered 14 unarmed people in Croke Park in revenge. Any attempt to correct this compares with Mrs O’ Malley’s valiant efforts with her mop the day that the Ardnacrusha dam wall broke.
There’s a wonderful book about Bloody Sunday by Michael T Foy, ‘Michael Collins’s Intelligence War’ (Sutton) that I sincerely recommend, from which most of the following details are taken.
A Captain Newbury was staying with his wife at a ground-floor flat at 92 Pembroke Street that morning, when two IRA volunteers arrived at the front door. Still in his pyjamas, he fled to the back window, where a third volunteer was waiting: the three men cut him down in a ferocious volley of shots, while his wife screamed beside him.
After throwing a blanket on her husband’s corpse, she collapsed, and gave birth to a stillborn baby. Some days later she herself died. Michael Foy thinks that Captain Newbury was not an intelligence officer. Of the 13 defenceless men murdered in their bedrooms that morning, Foy reckons eight were intelligence-officers: the other five were “unlucky”.
These included two Irish Catholics, an RAF officer (and cousin of Oscar Wilde) Lt L E Wilde, and Captain Patrick McCormack, an army vet, who were both murdered in their beds in the Gresham Hotel.
It could have been far, far worse: many decent IRA men simply ignored their orders, and shot no one.
In the aftermath of this slaughter, Dublin Castle correctly sensed that many soldiers and RIC Auxiliaries would be thirsting for revenge, and confined as many as possible to barracks. Alas, some Auxiliaries, aided by untrained recruits from the Depot at Phoenix Park, arrived at Croke Park, and perpetrated the infamous and legendary slaughter.
But according to Michael Foy — and I am inclined to believe him — these RIC men were out of control. They were not following orders, nor were they implementing policy of any kind.
Six of the Croke Park dead were buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, along with the bodies of the innocent Wilde and McCormack.
These evil events now exist largely in a realm of legend, which states that the British secret service was crippled in one brilliantly organised stroke, and so the cruel British army got its revenge with a massacre of the innocents of Croke Park.
But no soldiers opened fire at Croke Park, just policemen — and most of the recruits doing the shooting were Irish. And if the British intelligence was so crippled by the assassinations, how come the terms of the Treaty 13 months later so comprehensively favoured Britain’s strategic interests?
Queen Elizabeth was not born when Bloody Sunday occurred, and neither she nor any of her family had any association with it. This cannot be said of the Irish State, of which the third Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, was involved in the shooting of an unarmed army officer that morning — the one-legged Captain Baggalay, who was not involved in intelligence, but in civil administration.
His murder was an atrocious affair, but no intelligent person would seek an apology for such a deed in the middle of a very dirty war so long ago.
For the queen to offer a one-sided sorry for Bloody Sunday would merely give a fresh and needless lift to the wings of nationalist mythology; while for the poor dead Newburys in their pitiful Pembroke Street flat, no one either knows or cares

Daniel Brett McNally IRA Tipperary

In reference to :

http://irishvolunteers.org/2011/03/ira-tipperary-mullinahone/

Thanks. I have named my son, Daniel Brett McNally, since Sean Brett is a relative. Do you have any more details about these three individuals memorilised there in Mullinahone? I hope to visit Poulecapple and Mullinahone next year with my daughters. My grandparents are from Poulecapple. I look forward to our visit this next year in 2012, about August or so. I am not sure I am emailing to, but, have a nice day and thanks again for the info. My daughter loves and does Irish dancing. Sleep well. Charles.

in reference to :

http://irishvolunteers.org/2011/03/ira-tipperary-mullinahone/

Comdt. Vincent Byrne II Bn, Dublin Brigade, Old IRA

We have received a message from Gerard kenny,the details are below,

“Hello, I met your group at the Cork Militaria fair a while back and just wanted to say it is an excellent site you have. I particularly liked the photos of Belfast and Cork display. You might be interested that I just put online the Vinny Byrne Photo, Document and Scrapbook collection here”  :

Regards,
Gerard

Vincent (Vinny) Byrne Joined the Irish volunteers in 1915 at the age of 14. He fought in E Company, 2nd Battalion during the 1916 Easter Rising at Jacobs Biscuit Factory on Bishop Street, Dublin seeing for the first time a man killed by gunfire. At one point armed with a .22 rifle the 14 year old Byrne held 2 policemen prisoner. He fought here alongside men such as Thomas MacDonagh, John McBride (a veteran of the Boer War) and Mick McDonnell (later leader of the Squad). After the surrender order he escaped and was arrested in a British Army sweep on the following Saturday. A group of the younger rebels were then held in Richmond Barracks (generally treated well in comparison to those at the Rotunda). One of the DMP men who fingerprinted him at Richmond Barracks was Detective Johnny Barton (later killed by Collins Squad on 29th November 1919). During questioning he was asked “Why did I not join the British Army. I said I would be fighting for England then and not for Ireland.” Due to their age they were released the following Friday evening (the older men being deported to Stafford Jail and then Frongoch Concentration Camp in Wales). In his statement to the Bureau of Military History he noted that “It might be well to mention that, strangely enough, in later years I was officer commanding this same barracks where I was held prisoner.”

Vinny Byrne went on the fight with Michael Collins counter intelligence unit ‘The Squad’, taking part in the standard guerilla warfare activities of intelligence gathering, raids for weapons, vehicles and supplies, ambushes, attacks and assasinations all throughout the Irish War of Independence (January 1919 – Truce July 1921). Below is an incomplete timeline of some of the operations he took part in from November 1919 through to Bloody Sunday of November 1920. It may be worth reading the notes at the end as some of this information is conflictive.

Sample one year timeline of Vinny Byrne activity Irish War of Independence

Document and Scrapbook collection here :

http://www.militaria-archive.com/independence/independence.html

By Admin:

Thank you very much Gerard, we really appreciate it, we need more people sending in information all the time.

William (Bill) Deegan Dublin Brigade of the IRA.Information required.

Hi there, My grandfather William (Bill) Deegan was a member of the Dublin Brigade of the IRA. He died on 13 January 1946 and is buried in Glasnevin. I have received information that says he fought at the Four Courts under deValera. Any info you may have on him would be a great help.
Many thanks, Terry

Tom Conway, O/C Communications, from Tipperary No. 3 Brigade, Information Required,

Looking for information on my grandfather, Tom Conway, O/C Communications, from Tipperary No. 3 Brigade, shot & captured, then went to U.S. in 1925. to best of knowledge. any info would be appreciated – see page 197 of Florence O’Donoghue book “No Other Law” the story of Liam Lynch and the IRA. 1916 – 1923

Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation

The Irish War has been sponsoring the Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation, http://irishvolunteers.org/

This weekend, to mark the 1916 Easter week Rising,  the I.V.C.O. will be putting on a small display of Original Irish war of Independence items at the Metropole Hotel ,MacCurtain Street, Cork city on saturday April 23, 10 am to 4 pm.

The event takes place in the main ballroom and is part of the Munster Militaria fair.

We wish them luck and if you are in the area , please drop in.

The Irish War.

IRA Volunteers Fermoy or Kilworth.

I am researching my grandfather Mick Greehy, Paddy Greehy and Johnny(jack) Greehy . I have two black an tan medals I got from my grandmother several years ago but she never told me who the were awarded to. I have heard that Mick and Jack greehy were in the IRA but i have no proof. There was a company in Fermoy under Bill Power and then Liam Lynch, there was also a company in Araglin/Kilworth. Is there anyway I acn get lists if members from1919-22.
Your’s Sincerely
Michael Kearney.

Sean Moylan Rebel Leader

Sean Moylan offers a close and personal look at the man and his life. A fearless fighter, he led a series of ambushes in Cork as Commandant of the Cork No. 2 Brigade. He was part of the team that captured the only British General to be abducted during the War of Independence. Following the truce he fought on the anti-Treaty side during the Civil War. He was elected to the Dáil in 1932 and served in various Cabinet posts until his death in 1957.
Featuring previously unpublished letters from key figures in the Republican movement, this new biography offers a crucial insight into the realities of the War of Independence, the Civil War and the foundation of Fianna Fáil.
By Aideen Carroll.
Shipping USA 15 Euro

ISBN 9781856356695    To purchase the Book go to:

http://theirishwar.com/irish-history-books/sean-moylan-rebel-leader/

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

By the Author:

Last year Mercier printed Sean Moylan Rebel Leader. I have to declare an interest, the subject was my grandfather.  Months after  the book went to print I found an archive of untapped material buried in my mother’s papers. The attached piece from this archive concerns an incident at Knocknagree  in 1921

A HURLING MATCH AT  KNOCKNAGREE,

In  the years leading up to the War of Independence,  Knocknagree was a thriving village on the edge of Sliabh Luachra  boasting over a dozen pubs, 14 grocers, a  draper, bootmaker, blacksmith and  baker.   There was a Post Office, an R.I.C. station and a  monthly fair and market serving a number of parishes in this part of North West Cork  near the Kerry border. The village also had a fine tradition of poetry and music going back to 1783 when the poet and genius Eoin Rua Ó Súilleabháin set up a short lived  hedge school at the  cross-roads.  We might be disposed to believe that another man of this parish, Ned Buckley, was influenced by  the teachings of Eoin Rua as  passed down to him by his own people.  Ned’s  finely crafted lampoons on the political shibboleths of the post civil war era became  known  the length and breath of north Cork and Kerry.

In October 1920, the RIC barracks at Knocknagree was evacuated due to the escalating violence against the Constabulary.   Its location was vulnerable to attack as the Volunteers  pursued every opportunity to capture guns and burn out isolated barracks.   Across the region, winter progressed in a downward spiral of violence.   The villagers read about the  burning of  Cork city on December 10th which   was  described  in the papers  as a  truly staggering reprisal.   The British Cabinet introduced Martial Law  in Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary and  the heavy hand of the Army was evident in every dwelling where the householder was obliged to pin a list of  occupants on their front door.  The curfew was another strategy  employed by the Crown to  tighten its grip on the Nationalists.  In the area around Kanturk, curfew was strictly  enforced  and anyone found outside was ‘invited’  to either march all night with the  patrol  or spend 12 hours  in the barracks lockup.  As the violence intensified, Martial Law was extended throughout Munster;  many districts were proclaimed and  the suppression of monthly  fairs and markets  affected both the local farmers and the economy at large.  Nevertheless, in the early months of 1921, while the sale of livestock  was troublesome to say the least, normal life continued for the villagers of Knocknagree, at least  during daylight hours.  Nothing  could have prepared the parish  for the tragedy  and sadness that engulfed the community on 6th of February 1921.

There was a whiff of spring on Sunday morning  as the locals and farming families from the surrounding hinterland made their way to the Church of Christ the King for 11 o’clock Mass. Spilling into the 100 year old church the most devout parishioners wearing their Sunday best  filled the front pews. The latecomers shuffled at the back holding their caps.  After Mass, neighbours lingered and gossiped at the church wall.  The recent Tureengariffe ambush and the  military reprisals at Kingwilliamstown (now Ballydesmond) were  the subject of much discussion.   Some of the men continued the debate  over a bottle of stout down the village.  Families in their pony and traps departed for home to prepare the Sunday dinner and the young hurlers readied themselves for the match in Cronin’s field.

The following account by a local man, Diarmuid Moynihan, written to the Minister for Lands Seán Moylan in March 1947, describes the unfolding events as they occurred that afternoon.  Tragically, a 17 year old youth was killed, the only son of a widower.  Two other boys aged 12 and 13 were wounded, one of them seriously.

“The afternoon was bright and sunny.  About 40 boys and youths from the neighbouring townlands of Knocknagree and Nohoval assembled to play a challenge hurling match in Mr. Sylvester Cronin’s field at Knocknagree.  The field is north of Mr. Cronin’s dwelling house, one field removed from the Gneeveguilla-Knocknagree road and a similar distance from the Knocknagree-Rathmore Road.  A small number of adults were with the boys while in the village at the ‘Cross’, the usual Sunday afternoon group of loiterers assembled.

Rumours had been afloat earlier in the day that a  military patrol was in Gneeveguilla approximately three miles west, but as the Crown Forces had been paying particular attention to the said area for some time previous to this, the people of Knocknagree did not anticipate a visit.  Only when the patrol was sighted at Lisheen, 1 1/4 miles west of the village did some of the men at the ‘Cross’  bestir themselves.  Some few of the men rushed towards the playing field probably with the intention of warning the youths there, some few others dallied at the ‘Cross’ through sheer curiosity  until the patrol swept towards the village.  The boys in the field were warned of the approach of the military but as this was the first occasion that a military patrol or convoy visited the area, the children did not appreciate the danger.  With men moving from the ‘Cross’ to the field and others who had dallied rushing for the shelter of houses while the youths clustered around the playing pitch, the military careered into the village.  Two bursts of machine gunfire directed towards the youths was the taste of what was to be a terrifying and tragic evening.
The youths rushed southwards but by this time three lorries had drawn up on the public road to the east and the military advanced towards the field, while another section advanced from the North.  Some of the youths made their escape south westwards as also did all the men, but a goodly part of the group of boys threw themselves near fences or in hollows and cart tracks in the field.
Volley after volley was poured into the pitch and in the direction of the others escaping.  After some   10 or 12 minutes, Michael John Herlihy who was lying prone in the field was hit.  A little comrade (Johnny Cronin)  saw the blood, immediately jumped to his feet and raised his hands. The military fire on the field ceased but some further shots were fired after those who had made their escape.
The boys were rounded up and only then was it discovered that Michael John Kelliher was dead.  He had been shot through the left side, the bullet entering the heart as he tried to pass through a gap in the fence on the southern side of the field.  Donal J. Herlihy did not know he had been wounded until he tried to rise from the ground.   The wounded boys received attention from the military in the field.  Their uncle Michael Herlihy who came on the scene, soundly abused the officer in charge for his dastardly act.  The officer who intended taking the wounded boys to Killarney eventually handed them over to their uncle.  Donal was nursed back to health in the uncle’s house while his brother Michael was accommodated in the one-time RIC barracks owned by his father in the village.  The Barracks had been evacuated in October 1920.
The clothing was removed from young Kelliher’s body, it was wrapped in a military blanket and removed to the Rathmore R.I.C. Barracks.  The Sergeant in charge there refused as he said ‘to handle the dirty work of the military’.
A search of houses in the neighbourhood of the village was made before the patrol left with the youth’s dead body and two men, James O’Connell and Con Mahony who were in Mr. S. Cronin’s house.  They were taken to Killarney and held for one month.

Eventually the patrol returned to Knocknagree where the body was handed over to the boy’s widower-father.

Various rumours and whisperings were afloat in the village after the sad occurrence.
It was said that one of the boys in the field pointed a hurley, rifle fashion, at the lorries as they sped into the village from the Gneeveguilla area.  This has not been confirmed.  It should be noted that the road at that point, north of the playing field, is very much higher than the field so that the military had a full view of the boys and adults.  It was also suggested that the men at the ‘Cross’ rushed in the direction of the playing field.  It would appear that this is true and the silly action of those guilty gave the military an opportunity of opening fire.  It was also said that those who lingered at the ‘Cross’ ran when called upon to ‘Halt’.  Those at the ‘Cross’ did run, but as far as I can glean, they had done so before the military arrived or sighted them.  There was no such thing as an order to ‘Halt’

It is well to note too that Banard Height, 1 3/4 miles west of Knocknagree affords a clear view of Knocknagree and its surroundings.  The military undoubtedly saw those boys with hurleys in that field a long time before they moved towards Knocknagree.  Whether they mistook the hurleys for rifles is a conjecture but judging by the speed with which they surrounded the grounds on the North and East, they must have given some study to their maps beforehand and came prepared to terrorise the village.’

Diarmuid Moynihan’s account of this chilling incident  belies the Official Military H.Q. Report which appeared in the Irish Independent on February 8/1921 stating:  ‘A military patrol saw a body of armed civilians in a field near Knocknagree.  Fire was opened and replied to resulting in the death of one youth and the wounding of two others.’   In another section of the same issue, the names and ages of the boys were given with a report that ‘The Crown Forces entered the village in the afternoon and shouted to some men who were at the corner of the street to ‘Halt’.  The young men immediately stampeded round the corner, whereupon machine gunfire was opened from the lorry.’

In a letter to the Irish Independent  published the following Saturday,  J.J. Herlihy,  an outraged  cousin of the boys  stoutly contradicted  the Military Report.

There was no ambush he wrote,  ‘nor was there the remotest attempt to carry out one in the district.  Neither was there the slighted preparation for nor anticipation of  such a thing.  Not a single shot was fired by a civilian.  There was no interference whatever with the Crown forces and they were subject to no provocation in any shape or form’.  He  went on to describe what happened in the village and at the game itself where a small number of  supporters were watching the match.  Hearing the rifle fire at the ‘Cross’  they ran into the fields whereupon the soldiers mounted a machine-gun and trained it in the direction of the fleeing men.  Children aged between 7 and 14  ‘ran towards the fences for safety, some stood as if paralysed,  others with their arms over their heads.’

The 6th Division Record of the Rebellion which carefully logged all  engagements during this period,  makes no mention of  the shootings at Knocknagree.  The only humanity demonstrated during the sad debacle was  the efforts of the military doctor accompanying the convoy  who administered  first aid to the Herlihy boys.   His dismay at the shooting of  the children and young Kelliher  must have communicated itself  to his superiors.  The following day, the military  revisited the village to convey their sympathy to the  bereaved and traumatised parents.

The aftermath

Donal J. Herlihy, aged 12 was  shot through the right lung and seriously wounded.
Michael John Herlihy, aged 13, was shot through the thigh.
The  wounded children were the sons of  John and Catherine. Herlihy,  National Teachers of  Farrankeal, Knocknagree.  Both made a full recovery  under the care of Prof. John Dundon  from Cork and  the local G.P.  Dr. Collins from Rathmore who provided constant  medical attention during those critical weeks.

Michael John Kelliher, aged 17, was the only son of Michael Kelliher, carpenter, Knocknagree, Co. Cork.  The  1911 Census record for this family shows 13 children born to Michael and Mary Anne Kelliher. Seven children survived, a boy and six girls.

In the days following the shooting, the community stood united with the Kelliher family in  a show of sympathy and solidarity.  They attended the wake, funeral  and burial of this young man.  Standing at the graveside, his elderly  father and  his grief stricken  sisters  were inconsolable. The arbitrary violence inflicted on this quiet village in north west Cork was one of many such outrages during a bloody and bitter conflict which  saw the moral authority of  the Crown seep into the bogs  and British rule in Ireland disintegrate.

© Aideen Carroll, 2011