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BLOODY SUNDAY” Dublin ,November 21, 1920

Bloody Sunday was one of the most significant events to take place during the Irish War of Independence,, which followed the formation of a unilaterally declared Irish Republic,and its parliament, Dail Eireann. The army of the republic, the Irish Republican Army waged a guerrilla war against the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), its auxiliary organisations and the British Army,, who were tasked with suppressing the Irish liberation movement. Some members of the GAA which owned Croke Park were confirmed Nationalists, but others were not.

In response to IRA actions, the British Government formed paramilitary forces to augment the RIC, the “Black & Tans” (a nickname possibly arising from their mixture of uniforms), and the Auxiliary Division (generally known as the Auxiliaries or Auxies). The behaviour of both groups immediately became controversial (one major critic was King GeorgeV) for their brutality and violence, not just towards IRA suspects and prisoners but towards Irish people in general. In Dublin, the war largely took the form of assassinations and reprisals on either side.

The events on the morning of 21 November were an effort by the IRA in Dublin, under Michael Collins and Richard Mulcahy to wipe out the British intelligence organisation in the city.

Since 1919, Irish Finance Minister, head of the secretive Irish Republican Brotherhood and IRA Chief of Intelligence Michael Collins had operated a clandestine squad of IRA members in Dublin (a.k.a. “The Twelve Apostles”), which was used to assassinate RIC and British Intelligence officers. By late 1920, British Intelligence in Dublin, including what was known as the “Cairo Gang” (the nickname came from their patronage of the Cairo Cafe on Grafton Street and from their service in British military intelligence in Egypt and Palestine during the first world war),eighteen high-ranking British Intelligence officers, had established an extensive network of spies and informers around the city. Mulcahy, the IRA Chief of Staff, described it as, “a very dangerous and cleverly placed spy organisation”.

In November 1920, Collins ordered the assassination of British agents around the city, judging that if they did not do this, the IRA’s organisation in the capital would be in grave danger. The IRA was also of the opinion that a coordinated policy of assassination of leading republicans was being implemented by members of the security services. Dick McKee was put in charge of planning the operation. The addresses of the British agents were discovered from a variety of sources, including sympathetic housemaids, careless talk from some of the British, and an IRA informant in the RIC (Sergeant Mannix) based in Donnybrook barracks. On November 20, the assassination teams, which included the Squad and members of the IRA’s Dublin Brigade, were briefed on their targets, who included 20 agents at eight different locations in Dublin.Collins’s plan had been to kill over 50 British intelligence officers and informers, but the list was reduced to 35 on the insistence of Cathal Brugha, the Irish Minister for Defence, on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence against some of those named.

Early on the morning of 21 November, the IRA teams mounted the operation. Most of the killings occurred within a small middle-class area of south inner-city Dublin, with the exception of one shooting at the Gresham Hotel on o’Connell street. At 28 Upper Pembroke Street, four agents were killed. At 22 Lower Mount Street, one British officer was killed and another narrowly escaped. The building was surrounded by Auxiliaries, alerted by the firing, and in the ensuing gun fight two Auxiliaries were killed and one IRA man, Frank Teeling, was wounded and captured. Future Irish Taoiseach,Sean lemass was involved in the killing of a Captain Bagely, also on Mount Street, while in two further incidents on the same street three more British agents were killed. Only a few streets away, further shootings took place on Baggot Street, Fitzwilliam street, Morehampton Road and Earlsfort Terrace.

In all, 13 people were killed and 6 wounded, including suspected agents and those with no connection to politics, and two Auxilaries. Four of the British casualties were military intelligence officers and another four were Secret Service or Mi5 agents. Only one Squad member was captured, Frank Teeling, and he managed to quickly escape from gaol.One more IRA man was slightly wounded in the hand. However, out of the 35 people on Collins’ hit list, only about a third had been killed. IRA man and future Irish politician, Todd Andrews recalled later, “the fact is that the majority of the IRA raids were abortive. The men sought were not in their digs or in several cases, the men looking for them bungled their jobs”.Nevertheless the action terrified and crippled British intelligence in Ireland, causing many other agents and informers to flee for Dublin Castle, and caused consternation in the British administration.

Collins justified the killings in this way:

My one intention was the destruction of the undesirables who continued to make miserable the lives of ordinary decent citizens. I have proof enough to assure myself of the atrocities which this gang of spies and informers have committed. If I had a second motive it was no more than a feeling such as I would have for a dangerous reptile. By their destruction the very air is made sweeter. For myself, my conscience is clear. There is no crime in detecting in wartime the spy and the informer. They have destroyed without trial. I have paid them back in their own coin.

Below is an article by Irish Volunteer member Chris Keane,
http://irishvolunteers.org/2012/02/bloody-sunday-dublin-november-21-1920/

George Gilmore, officer in the South Dublin Brigade, Dublin No 2 brigade,Information Required

In currently writing the biography of George Gilmore who until July 1922 was an officer in the South Dublin Brigade, I have recently received about 100 pages from the National Library of Ireland, providing revealing information about the Dublin No 2 Brigade, confirming what he said that after Blessington when the South Dublin was extinguished, he was picked up by the Dublin No 2 Brigade, covering the same area. As O/C of Battalion 1, in December 1922 Gilmore was in charge of five companies that covered the area that stretched from Ailesbury Road in Ballsbridge, Dublin City to Monkstown in South Dublin County and inland to Glencree in the Wicklow Mountains; this included Foxrock, Stillorgan and Blackrock. Almost nothing has been published about this brigade that was commanded by Lorcan O’Briain (may be a pseudonym) until April 1924 except what I just attained from the NL .In addition, some info has come through regarding Neil (Plunkett) O’Boyle of Donegal, O/C of Battalion 3 of the Dublin No. 2 who led the Plunkett column from Nov. 1922 to May 14, 1923 when he was captured and killed in Co. Wicklow by Free State troops, after the cease fire. Although my subject is George Gilmore of Battalion 1, I would appreciate any information concerning the Dublin No 2 brigade. Gilmore reported to the Vice O/C of the brigade on December 25, 1922 that Capt. Foley was O/C of his C Company and P. Little, O/C of D Company. Thank you.

Rosalie Popick

Diarmuid & Patrick McCarthy CORK IRA VOLUNTEERS

CORK IRA Volunteer

Diarmuid (Jerome / Dermot) McCarthy
(14 October 1900 – 15 January 1933)

Diarmuid was born on 14 Oct 1900 at 48 Quaker Road, Cork City, second child after Eileen, who was born in 1898.

On his Birth and Baptism certificates his name is given as Jerome.

His father was Daniel McCarthy and his mother was Margaret nee McCarthy, but not related. They were from the parish of Caheragh, north of Skibbereen.

Daniel was in the RIC, and so was stationed in the East region of Cork. He must have been stationed around Cork City when Diarmuid was born, but I don’t know where precisely. He retired from the RIC in 1915.

Daniel died in 1924, and Margaret in 1936. They are buried in St Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork.

Diarmuid was born on 14/10/1900 and baptised the next day in the parish of St Finbarr’s South by Fr. Mark Leonard. Godparents were Florence McCarthy and Frances McCarthy.

He joined the Irish Volunteers. – this photograph shows him in uniform.

He was engaged to Kathleen Moore, but died in 1933.

His death certificate is in the name of Dermot McCarthy, bachelor, Civil Servant, who died at St Vincent’s Hospital. His address was “Loughereen”, Hill of Howth, Dublin. Cause of death: Pneumonia (10 days) and cardiac failure. The informant was “P McCarthy, Brother” (my father) of the same address. They were both in lodging there. Diarmuid is buried with his parents in Cork.

My father, Patrick (born same address in 1903), was active, in A (University College Cork) Company, 2nd Battalion, Cork I Brigade, Oglaigh na hEireann (IRA) during the three months which ended on 11th July, 1921. He was doing engineering in UCC, and took “time out”! He said he was active in North Cork, as far as I remember, but that seems unlikely if he was in a UCC company. He said very little about it. He had the marks of a bullet wound in the calf of his leg and we have no photograph of him in uniform.

That’s as much information as I have at present.

Thanks.

Pádraig McCarthy
IF ANYBODY HAS INFORMATION PLEASE SEND IT IN TO US HERE AT info@irishvolunteers.org

Information Required on IRA members etc

I am writing the biography of George Gilmore, O/C of the First Battalion of the South Dublin Brigade and later the Dublin No. 2 Brigade during the Civil War. Since Neil O’Boyle, also called Ned (Niall) Plunkett Boyle of Donegal was also in the Dublin No. 2, in the Third Battalion, I am interested in learning more of the role that Roger McCorley of the Free State army played in the killing of O’Boyle in Co. Wicklow in May 1923. So far, I have only seen this cited in Jim McDermott’s (2011) book, “Northern Divisions: The Old IRA and the Belfast Pogroms, 1920-1922.” Thank you.
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Was just wondering was there any photos taken at the unveiling for the Fenian commemoration last month in Dublin, reply really appreciated.
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Hi,
Can anyone help….I am trying to trace any details of my grandfather who was a Sergeant in The East Limerick Brigade in 1916…he lived in a village called Hospital…….his name was Michael Airey…. I have his IRA medal (No.984). After the troubles he became a career soldier in the Irish Regular Army & died in 1942 (May.18th). Tanx, Barry Fitzgerald
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I am researching the many details if General Liam Lynch and his command of A co,1stBatt, 2nd Brigade,based in Fermoy , my grandfather and his brother were volunteers in D co Kilworth/Araglin, I am looking to see if there are any member rolls of volunteers, fianna. Cumman Na mBan, for the Tan War years available, or if anyone knows of where I could find such roles. Someone somewhere has them, they are an integral part of the history that these men and women played. If anyone has any information that may help me give these people the recognition that thy deserve,please email me at “fermoy52@aol.com”
—————————————————————————————I would like to post a question regarding member rolls of the Fermoy A co, and Kilworth Dco of 1st Batt,No2 Cork Brgade, if anyone has any information as to members in the WOI.
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Would you know how I would go about obtaining information on the ambush in Mayo on May 6, 1921in which my great uncles, Thomas Lally and Thomas O’Malley were said to be engaged
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I am trying to trace a charles known as charlie clifford from dublin left after rising in 1916 – he was linked to have been involved – is there any link news – his name anything – he died in 1974 and is my great uncle born church street – moved to Scotland, Glasgow
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Would it be possible for you to check your list of Four Courts Garrison 1922 to see if two brothers Leo and George Smith were members. They are my wife’s father and uncle respectively. Family info is that they were in the Four Courts battle in 1922.
Thanks

Joe Mathews

Martin Corry Cork No. 1 Brigade of the Irish Republican Army

Martin Corry (Irish politician)

Martin John Corry (12 December 1890 – 14 February 1979) was a farmer and long-serving backbench Teachta Dala (TD) for Fianna Fáil. He represented various County Cork constituencies covering his farm nearGlounthaune, east of Cork city. He was a founder member of Fianna Fáil in 1926, and among its first TDs after the June 1927 general election. He was returned at every election until he stood down at the 1969 election. Corry was active in farming issues, serving as Chairman of the Beet Growers’ Association in the 1950s. In 1966, upon the resignation of Seán Lemass as Fianna Fáil leader and Taoiseach, Corry was among the Munster-based TDs who approached Jack Lynch to be a compromise candidate for the party leadership.

IRA activity-Captain of E Company 4th. Battalion Cork No. 1 Brigade.
Corry was a senior member of the Cork No. 1 Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence (1919–21). He took the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War (1922–23). In 2007, it was reported that Corry’s farm had been the suspected site of the execution and burial place of several people considered to be pro-British agents, spies, or informers. Among these was Michael Williams, an ex-Royal Irish Constabulary officer abducted by the IRA “Irregulars” on 15 June, 1922 for his alleged role in the shooting dead in 1920 of Tomás Mac Curtain, the Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork. Gerard Murphy’s 2010 book The Year of Disappearances:Political Killings in Cork 1920–1923 claims Corry personally killed about 35 forcibly disappeared civilians, from a total of 73 in the Cork area of whom 26 were abducted after the June 1921 ceasefire.Murphy presents the Cork IRA’s targeting of Protestants, and particular suspicion of members of the YMCA, Boy Scouts, and Methodist community, as amounting to ethnic cleansing. Senior IRA commanders including Ernie O’Malley, Richard Mulcahy, Liam Lynch and Sean Moylan, attempted to curb the excesses of the Cork IRA, with mixed success. In later years, rumours of Corry’s activities persisted.

MARTIN CORRYS FARM TODAY

It has to be said that Murphys book was condemned by many as inaccurate and that in general it was flawed.Padraig O’Ruairc says ” Questions need to be asked about the reliability of Murphy’s research.” The flaws in Murphy’s work are often evident only when his original source material is examined. If Murphy can not accurately transcribe either the handwritten or typed documents he uses as evidence, then the claim that his book is a work of historical fact based around these documents is seriously questionable.”

Dáil career
In a Dáil career of over forty years, Corry generally restricted himself to speaking on local issues affecting his constituents. In 1953, Corry lobbied unsuccessfully for the Faber-Castell factory planned for Fermoy to be relocated further south in his territory, to the chagrin of party colleagues in Fermoy.
Corry was a staunch advocate of Irish republicanism, strongly opposed to Partition, antipathetic to the United Kingdom, and sometimes bluntly outspoken within the chamber. In 1928, he criticised the Cumann na nGaedhealgovernment’s expenditure on the diplomatic corps, stating “These salaries of £1,500 have to be paid so that they might squat like the nigger when he put on the black silk hat and the swallow-tail coat and went out and said he was an English gentleman.” His opposition to the Blueshirts in the early 1930s provoked an attempt to burn down his house. In the 1938 debate on the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement which ceded the Treaty Ports to the Irish state, Corry expressed regret that Northern Ireland remained excluded, suggesting “I personally am in favour of storing up sufficient poison gas, so that when you get the wind in the right direction you can start at the Border and let it travel, and follow it.” In a 1942 debate on exporting food to Great Britain during World War II, Corry remarked about food shortages there that “They have no more rabbits to get, and now they are on the crows”, and “I would not like to see too many crows going out to feed them. I think the crows are too good for them”. Patrick Giles called Corry a “bounder”, and Alfred Byrne persisted in demanding an apology for the “unchristian” comments to the point of himself being suspended from the chamber.

According to Dan Keating, Corry led a group of TDs who persuaded Taoiseach Éamon de Valera to exercise clemency when Tomás Óg Mac Curtain sentenced to death in 1940 for shooting dead a Garda. Tomás Óg was an IRA member and the son of the murdered 1920 Lord Mayor.

“It is with some relish he recounts the story of Dev’s attempt in the 1940s to execute the son of Tomás Mac Curtain, the former Lord Mayor of Cork, murdered by British forces in 1920. Mac Curtain had shot a policeman in Patrick Street in Cork City some months earlier and Dev was determined to hang him.

“But, according to Dan, he hadn’t reckoned on Martin Corry, an East Cork Fianna Fáil TD and former soldier in the Troubles. Corry gathered together a group of likeminded TDs and they marched into Dev’s office, without knocking, and told Dev in very unparliamentary language that if Mac Curtain was hung, they would resign their seats and stand as independents.

Dev, with a majority of two seats in the Dáil, had to back down and Mac Curtain was reprieved. Dev, however, soon had his revenge by engineering Corry’s electoral defeat. “But Corry was soon re-elected. The people of East Cork respected him. He was a great man, Martin Corry”, says Dan.”(an RSF interview with Dan Keating )

In 1948 and again in 1950, Corry proposed a Private Member’s Bill to allow less restricted Sunday opening of public houses in rural areas, arguing the existing licensing law was widely flouted. The bill was withdrawn after ministerial assurance of an imminent Government-sponsored licensing bill (which did not materialise) and in the face of public condemnation from members of the Catholic hierarchy.
County councillor
Corry was a member of Cork County Council, representing the Cobh electoral area, from 1924 till after 1970. He often clashed with Philip Monahan, the first county manager. Corry regarded the ability of the manager, an appointed bureaucrat, to overrule the elected Council as an affront to democracy, “the tail wagging the dog”,reducing councillors to being “a cloak for his dictatorship”. Corry was Chairman of the Council (a position later retitled Mayor) for four years in the 1960s: 1962/3, 1964/5, 1967/8, and 1968/9. In this role in 1968 he inaugurated Cork County Hall, the tallest building in the Republic of Ireland.

Corry did not stand in the June 1969 general election. .
In November 1969, Corry was appointed a director of Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann Teoranta, the national sugar company, which was then a state-sponsored body.

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

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.

Michael Collins Painting

We have been contacted by Tadgh Creed form West Cork and has has sent us a lovely painting he completed on Michael Collins,. It is a fine painting. Well done tadgh and maybe you will do more?

Thanks Tadgh!.

If any reader has more paintings or drawings or indeed photos please e mail them to us , we would be glad to publish them. E mail us at  info@theirishwar.com

or visit our web site at  http://theirishwar.com/

IRA Volunteer Captain Dan McNamara cork no.1 brigade . 1.st bat A coy

We have been contacted by Dan McNamara , grandson of IRA Volunteer  Dan McNamara  cork no.1 brigade . 9th bat  A coy. Dan is looking for any information on his grandfather , if anybody has any relevant information please post a reply on this post section.

Dan has been good enough to send us pages from Dan McNamara ‘s  Diary , it makes for highly interesting reading. Thanks Dan.

Tomás Mac Curtain Lord Mayor of Cork

Tomás Mac Curtain (20 March 1884 – 20 March 1920) was a Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of cork city,Ireland.. He was elected in January 1920.

He was born at Ballyknockane in the Parish of Mourne abbey in March 1884. He attended Burnfort National School. In 1897 the family moved to Blackpool on the northside of Cork city (corcaigh) where he attended The North Monastery school.. Mac Curtain became active in numerous cultural and political movements from the turn of the nineteenth century when he joined the Blackpool, Cork branch of Conradh na Gaeilge(the Gaelic League), becoming its secretary in 1902. He had diverse interests in music, poetry, history, archaeology and Irish history. He worked in his early career as a clerk and in his free time taught Irish to those who wished to learn. In 1911 he joined the Fianna Eireann  and was a founding member of the Irish Volunteers .

IRISH VOLUNTEERS AT SHEARES STREET CORK CITY

BACK: P. Cotter, Sean Nolan, Dathi Cotter, Sean Scanlan, Fred Murray. CENTER: Tom O’Sullivan & Diarmuid O’Shea (with rifles), Tom Barry, Pat Corkery, Donal Barrett, Donal Og O’Callaghan, Tadg Barry, Diarmud Lynch, Con Twomey (with rifle) FRONT: Sean Murphy, Tomas MacCurtain, Sean McDermot, Herbert Moore Pim, Sean O’Sullivan, Sean O’Murthille.

He met Eilish Walsh (Eibhlís Breathnach) at a Gaelic League meeting and they married in 1908. They had six children, five of whom survived into adulthood. The family lived over number 40 Thomas Davis Street where Tomás had a small clothing and rainwear factory.

In April 1916 at the outset of the Easter Rising Mac Curtain commanded a force of up to 1,000 men of the Irish Volunteers who assembled at various locationsaround County Cork. From the volunteers headquarters at Sheare’s Street in the city, Mac Curtain and his officers awaited orders from the volunteer leadership in Dublin but conflicting instructions and confusion prevailed and as a result the Cork volunteers never entered the fray. A tense stand-off developed when British forces surrounded the volunteer hall and continued for a week until a negotiated agreement led to the surrender of the volunteers’ arms to the then Lord Mayor of Cork Thomas Butterfield on the understanding that they would be returned at a later date. This did not happen however and Mac Curtain was jailed in the former Frongoch Prisoner of War camp in Wales. After the general amnesty of participants in the Rising 18 months later Mac Curtain returned to active duty as a Commandant of what was now the Irish republican Army .

He was elected in the January 1920 council elections as the Sinn Féin councillor for NW Ward No. 3 of Cork, and was chosen by his fellow councillors to be the Lord Mayor. He began a process of political reform within the city, making changes to the way in which the council operated and was run.

Death

In January 1919 the Anglo-Irish war started and Mac Curtain became an officer in the IRA . On 20 March 1920, his 36th birthday, Mac Curtain was shot dead in front of his wife and son by a group of men with blackened faces, who were found to be members of the Royal Irish constabulary (RIC) by the official inquest into the event. In the wake of the killing which was in revenge for the shooting of a policeman, Mac Curtain’s house in the city’s Blackpool area, was ransacked.

THE LOCATION WHERE Tomás Mac Curtain WAS ASSASSINATED, THERE IS A PLAQUE TO COMMEMORATE  Tomás Mac Curtain ON THE UPPER STORY.

The killing caused widespread public outrage. The coroner’s inquest passed a verdict of wilful murder against British Prime Minister Lloyd George and against certain members of the RIC. The IRA later killed the man who ordered the attack, District Inspector Oswald Swanzy, in Lisburn, County Antrim ,on 22 August 1920 using Mac Curtain’s personal handgun, sparking a pogrom of Catholics in the town. Mac Curtain is buried in St. Finbarrs Cemetery, Cork.

His successor to the position of Lord Mayor, Terence MacSwiney, died while on hunger strike  in Brixton prison, London.

Tomás Óg Mac Curtain

Mac Curtain’s son, Tomás Óg (junior) (1915–1994) later became a leading republican and member of the IRA Executive (whose main purpose was to elect the Chief of staff of the IRA . In January 1940, he was sentenced to death by the De Valera government for mortally wounding Garda John Roche at the end of St. Patrick Street Cork  city centre on 3 January 1940. Detective Garda Roche, from Union Quay Barracks, had shadowed him for weeks and following a confrontation, he was shot. However Tomas was granted clemency due to the fact that his father had been killed by the British Army. He was released after seven years. He later served on the IRA executive during the Border Campaign.

Laurence Regan IRA Vol Four Courts , any information ?

Hello,
My grandfather was Laurence Regan who defended the Four Courts.
Does anyone have any information on him please, also are there any medals out there with his name on? I believe he received a military funeral with Jack Lynch present in the 70′s
Yours gratefully,
Peter

Edward Buckley Cork Brigade? Any info

Garry,
I met you at the military exhibition at Sundays Well Gaol,Cork, last weekend. I spoke with you about an old War of Indenedence medal (Black & Tan) belonging to my late grand uncle. You kindly said you’d try check what part he played , however small, in the War of Independence.His details are as follows:
Name: Edward Buckley
Address: 12 Well Lane, Cork (later Redemption Road,Cork);
Born: around 1890
Died: 1966
Trade in 1911: shop porter, also gunner in Cork RGA (Reserve Army?)
If you had any info on his activities, I’d be delighted to know> I was very young when he died, but I remember him as a friendly man.
Regards,
Jim Fitzpatrick

Andy “Dazzler” Mulligan

Hi,I’m looking for any information you can give me about my great grand father Andy “Dazzler” Mulligan. According to my mother and her cousins (His grandchildren) he was a gun runner in the Easter Rising who fought with Pearse in the G.P.O. eventually captured and imprisoned in Bristol before being tortured and left paralysed.He also allegdally had the proclomation hid in a wall in a pig yard in the inner city.
Thats all the info i have but i cant find anywhere this is written down.
I would appreciate any help you can give me
Regards
Bryan Higgins

Irish Volunteers Cap Cork connection

A friend and collector has supplied us with photographs of a Cork Volunteers cap,very nice quality and condition. Many thanks to Daniel Hulin.


IRA Dromkeen ambush 1921

The Dromkeen Ambush took place on 3 February 1921, during the Irish War of Independence at Dromkeen in County Limerick. The Irish Republican Army ambushed a Royal Irish Constabulary patrol, killing 11 policemen.

The ambush was carried out by the flying columns of the East and Mid Limerick Brigades IRA, some 45 riflemen, under the command of Donnocha O’Hannigan commander of East Limerick Brigade Flying Column. Some time earlier the police had discovered the arms dump of the Mid-Limerick Brigade. Only one IRA man—Liam Hayes—was wounded.

Only two of the police got away. Nine were killed in action and another two were executed after being taken prisoner. Three of the dead RIC men were Irish and the remainder were British Black and Tans. In reprisal, British forces burned ten homes and farms in the area.

In February 2009, up to 2,000 people turned up for the unveiling of a memorial to the ambush.

Have a look at the following videos, they are quite interesting.

Dromkeen ambush videos

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Irish Volunteer Uniforms

An article posted by Irish author and historian Padraig O Ruairc. Thanks Padraig.

Re-enactors have been asking me for some time about Irish Volunteers / I.R.A. uniforms and what is and is not accurate. This is a very big issue to cover as the uniform, appearance, personnel, weaponry targets and tactics of the Irish Volunteers / I.R.A. changed hugely between 1913 and 1923. (Basically we should look at the period as three different conflicts 1916 – The War of Independence – Civil War) Few republicans in the period ever owned a formal republican uniform ie, hat tunic belt etc. Usually they wore civilian clothing with a lapel button or badge, a uniform hat and a uniform belt with military equipment. Coupled with this is the fact that rebel armies rarely if ever manage to get any sense of uniformity in their uniforms. However uniforms were important in the period for propaganda reasons to those who saw themselves as being the legitimate army of Ireland – having a uniform gave them an extra sense of legitimacy. Most estimates place the number of uniformed republicans who took part in the 1916 rising as between 1/4 to 1/3 or the whole rebel forces.

I must stress that for the purposes of re-enacting the period it is far more important to have a good set of civilian clothes for the 1913 -1923 period and a licensed blank firing period weapon i.e. Lee Enfield or Ross Rifle re bored to 8-10 shotgun. 10 men with perfect nice green Irish Volunteers uniforms will be accurate for battle in 1916 – however no unit of the I.R.A. was that well uniformed in the War Of Independence – by then most republicans were far more comcerned with getting guns and ammunition not uniforms. So anyone re-enacting the period should start by getting the kit which is shown in Picture 1.

Irish Volunteers

Picture 1

This is by far the cheapest way to put an impression together as chords, tweed jackets, waistcoats and so on can be bought for practicly nothing in any charity shop. And if dosent take your fancy then every one has an old suit at home for weddings etc once its a dark colour, black, brown, grey, navy or pinstripe. However for those of you who are insistant about the Irish Volunteer uniform here it goes.

This is just the first article I intend to descride the uniform in a series of articles as follows.

1 The Official Irish Volunteer Uniform (Ordinary Ranks) 1914 – 1916
2 Officers Uniforms 1914 – 1916
3 War of Independence – I.R.A. Volunteers Uniforms
4 Badges, belt buckles and regional variations in uniform
5 Weapons and Equipment

Or something like the above any way. I will not be attempting to give the history of the organiseation in any detail.

1 – The official Irish Volunteer Uniform (Ordinary Ranks) 1914 -1916

“The Volunteer Uniform. Report By Uniform Sub-Committee, 12th August 1914.
Report;-Summary of work done.

Uniform Cloth; Having made exhaustive enquiries the sub-committee found that it was necessary to start ab initio. They found that no suitable uniform cloth was made in Ireland. They therefore obtained samples of a high class uniform serge from a well known English mill. From these they selected a grey green cloth of a very suitable colour for field work in Ireland. They then inquired from several Irish mills wether they could match this sample. The buisness was not keenly sought after as the mills were full of orders and the extent of the Volunteers requirements was somewhat uncertain. Finally Messers Morrough Bros. of Douglas Mills, Cork got special looms working and matched the sample. The sample they produced was submitted to experts and pronounced excellent. It was therefor decided to give the first order to the Morrough Brothers.

Design of Uniform

After having several samples submitted the sub committee decided upon the cut of the uniform. This was fixed as standard for all Irish Volunteers. The only variation to be permitted to the different regiments was in the manner of facings which were to be left to the discretion of the regimental committes or county boards. The uniform consists of tunic, two buttoned knickers and putees.

Headdress

The headdress was decided upon for the Dublin regiment but was left undecided for the other regiments. A considerable body of opinion favoured soft hats but it was found impossible to get a suitable hat of Irish manufacture.

Putees

The Putee presented a difficulty as the well known spiral putee is protected by patents. A semi spiral was decided upon and a special light Irish Serge made to match the uniform. The caps are made of Putee cloth.

Buttons and badges

A design of Button and cap badge was decided upon and dies struck, and buttons made. The button design as submitted by your subcommittee was altered byyou and consequent on this change your sub committee find it will be impossible to protect the design. A Report on this subject will be laid before you. The badge will be protected.”
From Bulmer Hobson Papers N.L.I. MS. 13174 (1)

A photograph of this uniform (Picture 2) also dated 12th August 1914 appeared in the Irish Sword in an article by F. Glenn Thompson. Material – the cap, tunic and breeches were of a grey green serge.

Irish Volunteers Uniform

Picture 2

The cap is made in an almost russian or cossack style with a high stiff crown and very small peak. The peack and chinstrap were both in black leather. The buttons for the chinstrap were small with a flat syrface covered in black cloth. (Original Uniform Cap Picture 3)

Irish Volunteers Uniform Cap

Picture 3

The Tunic

The main body of the tunic was made of the grey green serge. However the tunic had very dark green shoulder straps/epaluttes and cointed cuffs. The tunic has a high collar like a modern shirt. On the front of the tunic were five large brass buttons with a harp decoration and the letters I and V on either side of it. (Picture 4 is an origional I.V. button – note how wide/fat the harp is. Ive checked the manufacturers markings on the back and they are the same as those on uniforms in Kilmainham Jail Museum)

Irish Volunteers Uniform Tunic and button detail

Picture 4

There were two brest pocket seach with a box pleat and two lower large pockets on the hips. The buttons on the pockets and shoulder straps were of the same harp &IV design but smaller in size than those on the uniform front. Each shoulder of the tunic was reinforced by a patch, just Like WW1 British Army uniforms. The back of the tunic was plain.

Trousers

The trousers in the picture are straight and not in the bow legged jodhpurs style. Again they were made of grey-green serge.

Boots

Though not shown they were presumably brown or black.

Equipment

The volunteer in the photo has a five pouch brown leather bandolier. A white canvas knapsack on a sling. The brown leather belt with brass buckle had a harp in the centre surrounded by the inscruiption Oglaign Na h-Eireann was the official pattern (More on this and pics in a later article). The rifle shown is a 303 Lee Metford Mk II with a leather sling which would have taken an 1888 Mark I pattern sword bayonet, worn in a scabbard and frog on the same side as the knapsack.

So this was the official Dublin Head Quarters approved uniform for ordinary volunteers. Very few volunteers would have had the financial resources and been in the position to buy from an approved supplier. Therefore many Volunteers would have gotten their sisters or wives to make their uniform resulting in a wide variation of cuts, colours and cloths all trying to copy and approximate the approved design. Though the standard and style of uniform varied greatly this was the uniform and equipment that most Volunteers aspired to have. And re-enactors should bear this in mind when ordering / making up their own uniform tunic.

Picture 5 shows a well equipped section of Irish Volunteers from the 4th Battalion Dublin Brigade taken in September 1915 when they were commanded by Eamonn Ceannt. Most of they all appear to be wearing the offical pattern uniform except that some have the darker green shoulder straps and pointed cuffs on their tunics whilst others thetunic, shoulder strapps and cuffs are all the one colour. They all seen to have bought the same type of rifle and equipment. However even in this well turned out group there is variation. The first volunteer back row standing on the left weard a Dublin Brigade FF-Drong Atha Cliath cap badge. The man standing beside him simply wears a uniform button in place of a badge on his cap and five of the men have no cap badge at all

Irish Volunteers 4th Battalion Dublin Brigade

Picture 5

Picture 6 is an illustration of an uniformed volunteer from an advert in “The Irish Volunteer” newspaper December 1915. While the tunic, belt, cap and equipment are the same as Picture 2 the approved design – the trousers are of the jodhpurs / riding breeches style.

Uniformed Irish Volunteer advertisement 1915

Picture 6

Picture 7 shows Irish Volunteer Gerald Keogh shot dead outside trinity college during Easter Week 1916.  Again he is wearing the approved uniform and cap.

Irish Volunteer Gerald Keogh Easter week 1916

Picture 7

Picture 8 shows a close up of a group of Irish Volunteers on parade. Note how no two are dressed exactly the same and there is a mixture of full uniforms and civilian clothes. Also note both Boer War and WW1 bandoliers were in use. They appear to be armed with Italian Varetti rifles.

Group of Irish Volunteers on parade

Picture 8

Picture 9 shows a Dublin member of the Irish Volunteers. The only piece of official uniform he is wearing is the cap. Its also interesting that he wears knee high socks over his trousers in place of putees or leggings.

Dublin member of the Irish Volunteers

Picture 9

In 1915 the uniform regulations were changed. These ordered that the shiny black leather peaks on the uniform caps be dulled or covered with cloth, and that the brass buttons be oxidised brown or replaced with leather buttons. The theory behind this is that the shinier parts of the uniform would attract a snipers attention on the battlefield.

Uniform regulations and styles changed rapidly again over the following years based on the availability and practicality of wearing uniforms in the years 1917-1921. I will cover this in later articles.

IRA Volunteer Francis Brennan – any info?

Francis (”Terry”) Brennan (1900-1955); born in Finglas; was a member of the Fingal Brigade and Leixlip Flying Column.  Sadly all that we know regarding his activities during that time is based upon a copy of his obituary (please find attached a copy.  I have also attached a copy of a letter that was associated with the obituary clipping; it appears to be a response to Francis, from his old commander (Paddy Mullany), regarding his eligibility for a veteran’s pension (attached).  The letter refers to actions at Lucan, Baldonell and attacks on “the railways”.  I would love to find any information on the flying column or the Fingal brigade.  I have been unable to figure out which hunger strike the obituary refers to.  I’ve been in touch with Kilmainham but they have been unable to find any records that could assist and they are also unaware of the tunnelling attempt mentioned.  They do know that attempts were made but have no details upon them.  After the War of Independence Francis (and probably Ann) went on to fight on the anti-treaty side.  I believe that the time Francis spent in Kilmainham would have been at the end of the Civil War.

Francis’ wife, Ann Brennan (nee O’Shaunessy) (1904-1972) was, according to what is told in the family, an active member of the Cumann na mBan and it was always said within the family that she was involved in gun running, arms caches and safe houses during the black and tan war.

They both lived all their lives in Finglas.  Sadly Francis died in 1955 when their son Denis (my father in law) was only 10, so he never got to find out what his father had done during that time.  His mother never really spoke much about that.  We’ve applied to the pensions and records department of the ministry of defence are waiting for a response.

We’ve only made slow progress in piecing together Francis’ and Ann’s history during those times; there is so very little information that can be accessed over the internet from here.  I understand that there may be a group that is involved in the history of the Old IRA, but as yet, i can’t make contact with them.

It would be wonderful if any of your readers could fill in a few blanks.  We’d love to know more about:

  • the activities of the 3rd Battalion, Fingal Brigade, IRA and the Leixlip Flying Column;
  • any information on the kilmainham hunger strikes during the civil war era;
  • and the biggest puzzle of all, the Kilmainham tunnel – we’ve been in touch with Kilmainham but they have no records of a tunnelling attempt by men from either the black and tan war or the civil war era (there was an attempt by civil war era women).  They freely admit that it doesn’t mean there wasn’t one, just that the records are very incomplete for that time.  Kilmainham would be very interested in any information that turns up about the tunnel as it would really add to their knowledge of the era.  So hopefully someone out there may have heard of it, read of it somewhere or know something however small.

We’re waiting for information from the pensions and records dept. so hopefully there will be a lot of information contained within the pension applications of both Francis and Ann.  I’ve promised Kilmainham that if there is any more information on the tunnel that i’ll share it with them.

Francis Terry Brennan

Letter to Francis Terry Brennan

Letter to Francis Terry Brennan

Obituary of Francis Terry Brennan