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Fianna Éireann

Today The Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation marked the 106.th year of the foundation of

Fianna Éireann . The private ceremonies were held by the 4.th Battalion 

Fianna Éireann which has been incorporated in to the IVCO some time ago.

 

On Monday 16 August 1909, in the Camden Street hall, Hobson chaired a meeting ‘to form a National Boys’ Organisation to be managed by the boys themselves on national non-party lines’.20 Estimates suggest that between thirty and 100 boys, ‘mostly adventurers from the Coombe and neighbourhood’, turned up for this meeting to form what became known as Na Fianna Éireann.21 Markievicz and a few other adults were also in attendance. In his address, Hobson explained that the organisation would be run on a semi-military basis along the lines of the Boy Scouts’ movement founded in the previous year by Baden-Powell. In fact, it was one of the immediate objectives of this new group to counteract the influence in Ireland of Baden-Powell’s pro-British body.

fianna-c3a9ireann-wall-mural

 

 

 

For a full understanding please see http://irishvolunteers.org/category/fianna-eireann-2/

 

Joseph Mary Plunkett

Joseph Mary Plunkett (Irish: Seosamh Máire Pluincéid, 21 November 1887 – 4 May 1916) was an Irish nationalist, poet, journalist, and a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Plunkett was born at 26 Upper Fitzwilliam Street in one of Dublin’s most affluent neighborhoods. Both his parents came from wealthy backgrounds,and his father, George Noble Plunkett, had been made a papal count.[3] Despite being born into a life of privilege, young Joe Plunkett did not have an easy childhood.
Plunkett contracted tuberculosis at a young age. This was to be a lifelong burden. His mother was unwilling to believe his health was as bad as it was. He spent part of his youth in the warmer climates of the Mediterranean and north Africa. He was educated at the Catholic University School (CUS) and by the Jesuits at Belvedere College in Dublin and later at Stonyhurst College, in Lancashire, where he acquired some military knowledge from the Officers’ Training Corps. Throughout his life, Joseph Plunkett took an active interest in Irish heritage and the Irish language, and also studied Esperanto. Plunkett was one of the founders of the Irish Esperanto League. He joined the Gaelic League and began studying with Thomas MacDonagh, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship. The two were both poets with an interest in theater, and both were early members of the Irish Volunteers, joining their provisional committee. Plunkett’s interest in Irish nationalism spread throughout his family, notably to his younger brothers George and John, as well as his father, who allowed his property in Kimmage, south Dublin, to be used as a training camp for young men who wished to escape conscription in England during World War I. Men there were instead trained to fight for Ireland.
IRB involvement

Sometime in 1915 Joseph Plunkett joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and soon after was sent to Germany to meet with Roger Casement, who was negotiating with the German government on behalf of Ireland. Casement’s role as emissary was self-appointed, and, as he was not a member of the IRB, that organisation’s leadership wished to have one of their own contact Germany to negotiate German aid for an uprising the following year. He was seeking (but not limiting himself to) a shipment of arms. Casement, on the other hand, spent most of his energies recruiting Irish prisoners of war in Germany to form a brigade to fight instead for Ireland. Some nationalists in Ireland saw this as a fruitless endeavor, and preferred to seek weapons. Plunkett successfully got a promise of a German arms shipment to coincide with the rising.
The Easter Rising

Plunkett was one of the original members of the IRB Military Committee that was responsible for planning the Easter Rising,, and it was largely his plan that was followed. Shortly before the rising was to begin, Plunkett was hospitalized following a turn for the worse in his health. He had an operation on his neck glands days before Easter and had to struggle out of bed to take part in what was to follow. Still bandaged, he took his place in the General Post Office with several other of the rising’s leaders such as Patrick Pearse and Tom Clarke, though his health prevented him from being terribly active. His energetic aide de camp was Michael Collins.
Marriage and execution

Following the surrender Plunkett was held in Kilmainham jail, and faced a court martial. Seven hours before his execution by firing squad at the age of 28, he was married in the prison chapel to his sweetheart Grace Gifford, a Protestant convert to Catholicism, whose sister, Muriel, had years before also converted and married his best friend Thomas MacDonagh, who was also executed for his role in the Easter Rising.
Aftermath

His brothers George Oliver Plunkett and Jack Plunkett joined him in the Easter Rising and later became important IRA men. His father’s cousin, Horace Plunkett, was a Protestant and unionist who sought to reconcile unionists and nationalists. His home was burned down by the Anti-Treaty IRA during the Civil War.
The main railway station in Waterford City is named after him as is Joseph Plunkett tower in Ballymun. Plunkett barracks in the Curragh Camp, County Kildare is also named after him.
References

^ O’Neill, Marie (2000). Grace Gifford Plunkett and Irish freedom: tragic bride of 1916. Dublin: Irish Academic Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-7165-2666-7.
^ “Review Of ‘All in the Blood’”. A&A Farmar Book Publishers. Retrieved 4 Nov 2010.
^ “[Count Plunkett] George Noble Plunkett”. Princess Grace Irish Library (Monaco). Retrieved 5 Nov 2010.
^ “A Short History of the Esperanto Movement in Ireland”
Source: Wikipedia

By Sol Mendoza:

Joseph Mary Plunkett working with his radio

By James Langton:

Count Plunkett and his wife with Grace Gifford

Count Plunkett and his wife with Grace Gifford. She married Joseph Mary               Plunkett in Kilmainham Jail Chapel hours before his execution. The song “Grace” by Jim McCann is a very moving tribute to this historical couple.

By James langton:

Grace Gifford This is the actual dress she wore at her marriage to Joe Plunkett in Kilmainham Jail just before his execution.

By James Langton:

A page from Joe Plunketts note book 1916, written at the height of battle. In it he explains how connolly was shot and how bad his wounds were.

October- Info Required IRA members

Hello,
My name is John Paul and am from Derry, Am looking to research Dick Mc Kee who was involved in the Irish Bulletin, a news-sheet produced by Dáil Éireann’s Department of Publicity, Dick McKee, the IRA Commandant of the Dublin Brigade. Am led to believe that i have a family connection with him and i was hoping you could point me in the right direction as to where i can research this further as am very interested in this, i’ve also been given a photo is which my grandad is supposed to be in, it shows the portobello army in 1922, any help our information on where i can research this further would be off great help

Thank you

John Paul

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Micheal douglas and willie douglas(his brother) in their na fianna uniforms (aged 12-13) also as young men in different uniforms. My granddad took part in the raid on Monks Bakery (kevin baryy) and I printed evidence of this. Would it be something that you would be interested in. My dad is still alive 80 years and he tells stories of how is dad was in Ballykinler interment camp how do we get info on this. Also we have a picture of my grandad in a parade of men carrying out a gun salute at a funeral. My grandad died in 1952 so it would be pre that era ?

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My brotherinlaw Kevin Barrett. nephew ofDick Barrett executed in 1922 lives inLondon

and has asked me to find,if possible living relatives of Liam Mellows .Kevin like myself is in his 80.s and though he has been to Mountjoy recently he has not been sccessful. He himself is from West Cork and believes Mellows also had connections there.
I would be most greatful if you could helpme or point me in the right direction,
Mise le meas Lucás O’Cuinneagáin Grange Cottage Holycross Co Tipp. 0504 43985

Hello,
I am trying to find out some info regarding my great grandfather, Dominick McSloy. I was recently given his service medal by my mother and I would like to have it mounted for display but I know nothing about him. I would greatly appreciate any help you could give me regarding this. I found him in the 1911 census living in ardboe, Co Tyrone aged 23 but i have nothing beyond that.
Thank you in advance for any info or

——————————————————————————————George George Gilmore.

George was my first cousin  once removed (My Dads first cousin)  my dad grew up with George in Howth, but then we moved to UK from Ireland, and although I met George a couple of times when on Holiday in Ireland, I was very young so didn’t get to know him very well..

My Grandson came across his name in history at school recently. and asked me about him,

What sort of man he was really, etc.  also could you tell me why his mother went to prison. She was my Great Aunt, Frances Gilmore (Nee Angus ) known as Fanny.

Where can I get any of his poems, and find the play he wrote for his fiancé Cora Hughes? Also I believe he was something of an artist. are any of his paintings still around anywhere.

I would love as much information about him as is possible.

Regards,

Heather Graham (Mrs)

PS, I’d love some photo’s of George as I don’t remember really what he looked like  with being so young myself.

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Is there anyway of tracing details on volunteers?

I have just been given my grandfathers black and tan medal and wanted to know if there were any details on him. His name is Patrick Byrne,Doolistown,trim,co meath.

I hope you may be able to help

Regards Sean

—————————————————————————————————————————————-Could you  please tell me if Seán Hales married and to whom did he marry, and where is he burried.
Thanking you for any information yiu can give us.
Mervyn Hales.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–delighted to hear about this new book and looking forward to reading it soon…would anyone have any information on Martin Jennings (my Fathers uncle) who was attached to Tara Street Fire Station around 1920,  would be great to hear about him, maybe a photo ?   thank you….

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I’m interested in finding out more about item no3 (the FS soldiers killed by a mine near Macroom, Co Cork) as Capt Dan O’Brien was a GrandUncle of mine (his sister would have been my paternal grandmother) and was also from Macroom.     Incidentally, both my grandfather and late father were dentists in the Army as well.

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My father William Keane and his brother Sean were active serving members of E Company 6th Batt. old IRA.
I would love to see any pics or information you have about the period.
Recently I got a copy of my fathers old IRA pension application form and it makes interesting reading ,also have some pics of the company .

regds,    Brendan Keane.

I wish to know what information you would have for my Grandfather Peter Joseph Doran who was in “Second Batalion” Ref. S.P.9191/A623 also U/3883
Bset regards. Tony

——————————————————————————————-I have found out that St Michael’s Cemetery is in Cashel Road, Tipperary Town.
I have also found out that Patrick Hackett is buried in Drangan.
I believe there is a plaque on the ground in memorial to Hackett/Fleming/Clancy
but does anyone know where it is please?
Presumably in the Drangan area?
Any info greatly appreciated

—————————————————————————————————————————————I’m looking for details of John Scanlan, Garraunboy, Killaloe, Co. Clare who was on hunger strike in Wormwood Scrubbs in 1920.
Any info. greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

—————————————————————————————————————————————-My father’s cousins John and James Kelly were both IRA in East Cork during the War of Independence but took opposing sides in the Civil War, John for the Free State and James for the IRA. James left Ireland for the USA after the Civil War and never returned. In the 1970’s his descendants tried to get in touch with my father to no avail. Haven’t a clue who they were or where they are in the USA.  Would like to get in touch if there is anyone out there related to me.

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Information Required Irish Volunteers 1916 etc

Hi.. My grandfather Robert (Bobby) Grace, Logan St., Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny was a member of the old IRA. My mother has his two medals. Would you have any information on him? Thanks

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I would, however, like to find out more about the use of radio or wireless in the Rising of 1916 and later.  I write for an Amateur Radio magazine on the subject of history but can’t find any information on the subject past the fact that Michael Collins moved Volunteers into a Bakery that was next to the Marconi Wireless School next door.  The effort was made, from what I hear, to protect the wireless operators who were sending traffic out to IRA supporters via wireless in Morse Code.  Would like to hear more about this subject but can’t make Limerick any time soon.

Luck to you all and success to your exhibit and lectures.  Up the Rebels.

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Do you have any more information on John ‘Dad’ Murray?

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ANY INFORMATION ON MY UNCLE /NAMESAKE INJURED /WOUNDED IN MOURNE ABBEY AMBUSH CAPTURED AND DIED AFEW DAYS LATER IN VICTORIA BARRACKS CORK  -Michael looney

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87w2z
My grandfather of the same name was as far as i know a scout for Tom Barry.I would love any info about him please. Richard Bradfield.

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My grandfather Joseph Roche was in F Coy 1916. He was in Bolands Mill and served time in Kilmainham . His brother Eamomn (Edward) Roche aslo served though not sure what Coy he was in ..maybe F coy also…though family hsotory says he was in Smithfild in 1916. Joseph would have been 15 and his brother Eamomn 17 in 1916.
Any information would be appreciated

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I found an old tape recording and my grandfather speaks of Bloody sunday 1920. He lived in lower mount street and he speaks of a “Billy” who was sent to Wormwood Scrubs after the attacks on number 22 Lr Mount street and he was to be hung . 3 days before the hanging he was reprieved by Arthur Griffiths and returned to Mount Street. would you have anything on this or could you advise.
Regards for now

John Kenny

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Thanks to the help of some members of this forum and others, I have been able to discover quite a bit about Robert “Bobbie” Bonfield, at the time of his death on 29/03/1923 he was the O/C of G Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Dublin Brigade.

I am looking for information on the activities of G Company both during the War of Independence and later in the Civil War. Did the formations stay much the same after the ‘Split’? Would he have been in G Company prior to the Civil War or was there much reorganisation of the units?

In particular I am looking for descriptions of any actions that G Company were involved in.

Bonfield was arrested on 07th March 1923 by a Lieut. Bolger after his house at 103 Moyne Road, Ranelagh was raided and a veritable arsenal (including a Lewis Gun and three revolvers) were siezed. He was taken to Portobello Barracks from where he subsequently escaped a couple of nights later.

He went to the house of schoolmates of his, Brendan and Kevin Mangan, at Albany Terrace, Ranelagh and had a wash and some food before going on the run. A ‘servant girl’ who had helped give him the meal probably reported him to the authorities. The following night the Mangan’s house was raided by ” a group of men in plain clothes accompanied by a man in the uniform of an Army Lieutenant” who were looking for Bonfield.

Brendan Mangan was taken to the back garden and interrogated. His parents attempted to intervene and when his mother asked why he was not arrested and charged in the ‘proper way’, the chilling reply was “We are out to execute, not make arrests”.

Mangan’s excuses were believed and the group left, which was rather lucky as Bonfield had hidden arms under the floor of the Mangans henhouse and Brendan was aware of this. The Mangans kept the guns hidden for many years and later when the family moved house Brendan transferred the guns to the henhouse at their new address. It was only years later when there was an amnesty that his brother Kevin handed in the guns.

On the 29th of March 1923, about 2 weeks later, Bonfield was lifted by Cosgraves bodyguard which included Joe McGrath, John O’Reilly (who was either a Col., a Cmmdt., or a Superintendent) and an unnamed guard. Two of these men took him to Clondalkin and shot him.

I would like to identify Lieut. Bolger who was probably based in Portobello Barracks and also Col/Cmmdt/Supt O’Reilly. Any help would be most appreciated.

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/

The Diggers and the IRA, by Kerry Casey

G’day. I am doing a Masters in English at the Australian defence force Academy but my subject is History – or perhaps I should say: historical. It is a story that has never been told. It is about a number of Australian soldiers in World War 1 who went on leave to Ireland and did not return – some not for some time, others never. Australian soldiers who, after fighting alongside the British in the Middle East and Europe, found themselves in Ireland fighting with the Irish Republican Army against Britain.

My original Proposal was to write a biography of my one of my grandfathers, Australian born of Irish parents, Cornelius Patrick Casey, AKA No 20 Corporal Patrick Cornelius Casey, Military Medal, 13th Battalion. His experience provided me with the template to read the 5,865 service records in NAA series B2455: Irish born men and women who enlisted in the AIF.

At the outbreak war, Australia is commonly described as more unified than at any time in our history as men clamoured to enlist for King and Country, to fight for freedom or just to get a gun and have a go. Yet 1 in 4 of those Australians was of Irish descent.

On 30 September 1914, just 12 days after Britain had promised Home Rule to Ireland once the war was over, Cornelius Patrick Casey enlisted at Randwick
Racecourse. On page two of the Attestation Papers every soldier signed on joining
the AIF there is the OATH TO BE TAKEN BY PERSONS BEING ENLISTED
I … swear that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lord the King in the Australian Imperial Force … and that I will resist His Majesty’s enemies and cause His Majesty’s peace to be kept and maintained;

Underneath, on Con’s, is the signature CP Casey but the “C” stands apart like an afterthought or a later addition in a different hand, a sign that Con may not have been so loyal to the King. There were 90 Irish born men who, for a variety of reasons, recanted their aliases. Con never did.

So why did a “native born” Australian invert his Christian names? An explanation might be inferred from an observation made by John Lucy of the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, one of the first NCOs to be promoted to the officer class in the British Army, that in the officers’ mess “after dinner, the water was removed from the table, lest anyone pass his glass over it during the loyal toast, signifying that the toast was ‘to the king across the water.’” Also, when Ireland erupted into Civil War after the creation of the Free State in 1922, there were two main sticking points; one of which was signing the Oath of Loyalty to the King. Was Con’s alias the act of a subject person, a way of lying to maintain his honesty?

After enlistment, Con’s story is classic Digger. He landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 where he was twice wounded, he refused the offer of repatriation and, under Lieutenant Harry Murray (who would became Australia’s most decorated soldier), was in the very last unit of the Evacuation. A Diehard.

Subsequent to his wounds on Gallipoli, Con retrained as a stretcher bearer and in the next year on the Western Front was twice Mentioned in Dispatches and twice nominated for the Distinguished Conduct Medal before being awarded the Military Medal for the Battle of Messines in June 1917. During that time, he saw action at Pozieres, Mouquet Farm, through the Somme Winter, at Stormy Trench and at Bullecourt. He had lost part of a finger and part of his eyesight, had toes amputated from trench foot, his lungs and heart damaged from gas and his back wrecked through carrying men through Somme mud. He had also been twice promoted so that by August 1917 he was a Corporal and head of the 4th Brigade stretcher bearers. Then, on 12 August 1917, Con went on leave to Ireland

There, according to Colonel John Williams, CO APC London, there were “no food, lighting, or drink restrictions, and a soldier could have a much better time than he could have in any town in England. (It was, [he added]) a perfect haven for absentees and deserters.” Con stayed mostly at the family farm in Glenanaar in East Limerick. His uncle Patrick, the head of the house, was a Sergeant in the Irish Volunteers and his aunts were active in the women’s paramilitary, known as the Cumann na mBan. Ireland at the time was recovering from the shock of Easter 1916 and the executions and mass deportations that followed it and fighting, as were Australians at home, against Conscription.

Con was not the only Digger overstaying his leave. In 1918, at the request of the British Army in Ireland, Colonel Williams travelled throughout the country conducting a study on the feasibility of setting up APC posts in Ireland. In his report of 18 April 1918, RE VISIT OF A.P.M., A.I.F DEPOTS IN U.K. TO IRELAND, Williams concluded that, although, as the British had insisted, there were many Diggers AWL in Ireland who were actively assisted by the local people and Sinn Fein, there was no way his men could have the cultural sensitivity to operate in such a volatile situation. Whilst he talked about what the Irish were doing for the Diggers, he at no time assayed what the Australians were doing for them – the assumption being, I suppose, that they were drifters, deserters, deadbeats and cowards.

Not all Irish Diggers returned to Australia. One, Tipperary born, 2417 James Gorman of the 55th Battalion AIF went AWL when discharged from Camberwell Hospital in England on 30th October 1917. He became Lieutenant in his home town, Hollyford Company of the South Tipperary Brigade of the IRA and was active up until the Truce training Volunteers, assisting in the Knocklong Rescue and taking leading parts in barracks attacks at Hollyford, Cappawhite and Rearcross and in the Thomastown Ambush. Soldier, publican, poet, adventurer, dancer and musician, Jim was described by both Ernie O’Malley and Dan Breen and in numerous Witness Statements collected in BMH Dublin as iconic Digger: sunbrowned, with lined and leathery skin, a laconic sense of humour, cool under pressure, full of initiative and a crack shot. In 1924, after the Civil War in which he did not participate, Jim emigrated to the USA where his 3 sons served in the Army in WW2, one paying the ultimate price.

Gorman was one 64 Irish born men discharged for DESERTION when the AIF was clearing the books on 1 April 1920 (is that date meaningful?). 168 others were Discharged when demobilised in England. A large number, like my grandfather, had extended periods AWL in Ireland but returned to Australia. Dublin born 818 Driver John O’Neill was discharged in Australia in December 1919 then returned to Ireland where, as his service record states, he was “killed in an ambush on 6 March 1921.” Tipperary born 22529 Gunner Michael McGrath 23 Howitzer Bde was a casualty of the Civil War. He was discharged in England and re-emerges as a Lieutenant in the Clonmel Company on the Republican side. He died in custody after capture by Free State Army in May1923.

Just as the reputation for larrikinism and indiscipline out of the line is entrenched as a defining part of the Digger myth, so was it a characteristic of the Irish born Digger but perhaps even moreso suggesting that the red tabbed staff officers may have been just a little too British for them. There are countless incidences of AWL and insubordination. A couple of anecdotes:
• 3761 Pte Philip Bolger 29 Battalion was court martialled for “Using disloyal words regarding the soverign”
• 3409 Patrick Joseph Golden 9/31 Bn was Court Martialled for insubordinate language & threatening violence upon 2nd Lieut Strachan “You are only a Scotch bastard and require fucking, and I will do it (for you).”
• 34 Private William RYAN of the 8 Bde MGCo at COI 6/11/16 On October 5th 1916 had to explain an injury he received while on leave at the family home in Waterford. “One day I was talking to my father, I believe it was the 8th of October 1916, about the Sinn Fein movement and was excited. It was just after dinner and we were still sitting at table. I had a knife in my hand. To emphasise what I was saying, I brought my hand holding the knife down with a bang on the table and in so doing, struck my other hand which was resting on the table with the knife, cutting it severely.

At his Court Martial at AIF Headquarters in Horseferry Road, London 11 November 1919, Con did not speak in his defence. There were two Statements of Mitigation. One, from his Battalion CO now OIC Repatriation, Major General J.M.A Durrant, stated
… during his service with the unit his conduct was exemplary. He was distinguished for courage and his fearless example; a splendid leader and one of the bravest men I have seen in action.
The other after detailing his record of service added that
… suffering from a grievance which he does not choose to disclose, he went AWL and thus spoiled one of the finest records of any soldier who ever left Australia.

Con was held prisoner at Lewes Detention Barracks, reduced to the rank of Private and his sentence was twice reduced – from 12 months to 6 then till date of embarkation.

Con’s silence at his Court martial is emblematic of the silence that has enshrouded this issue for almost a century. The Irish in their recounts of the War of Independence were careful not to name anyone who returned to England or any of the Commonwealth countries for fear of the reach of the tentacles of Empire. For those, like my grandfather, who returned to Australia, it meant living a double life and never telling the story of their days in Ireland and this was easily masked under the common reticence to talk about the war. It was a confirmation of another duality: their identities as both Australian and Irish. A duality that would not be celebrated till after their deaths when Australia would finally acknowledge what it had always tried, in wilful ignorance of human nature, to suppress, that human beings can not be forced to forget who they are, that ours is a multicultural society and our cultural richness lies in our diversity and in the diversity of stories that flow from this.

In this Introduction to the magnificent history of Australia in WW1, the official historian Charles Bean, while trying to explain the extraordinary response to the outbreak of war, states that
few Australians … were fully acquainted with the philosophy underlying the Prussian attitude. But its visible results were well known to them all.… they had read of the unconscionable principles of the military bureaucracy of Prussia, and their instinct for freedom revolted against its pompous hectoring, its cynical intrigue, its tyrannous oppressions in time of peace, its ugly menace in times of war. They therefore exalted the struggle into one which should “save the world for democracy,” establish the sanctity of treaties, and, if possible, inaugurate a reign of justice and rid the world of the whole system of war .
Substitute “few” with “Irish” and “Prussia” with British and the attitude underlying the decision of those Australian soldiers of Irish descent who felt it more important to fight for the freedom of their ancestral homeland than to continue with the British Army show how central was their action to the belief systems developing in the antipodes. These men have been forgotten by history. How many of them there were and from which of the allied countries they came is still unknown. Now that they are dead, their stories can at last be told.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

A HURLING MATCH AT KNOCKNAGREE

Many thanks to Aideen Carroll for sending in this article,

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

A review of Gerard Murphy’s The Year of Disappearances: Niall Meehan, 17th November 2010

Nial Meehan has contacted us and has pointed us to an article he wrote some time ago,in fact the first review of the book, thank you for submitting the article to us , his words are below:
My review  of  Gerard Murphy’s The Year of Disappearances:
Niall Meehan, 17th November 2010
Gerard Murphy’s ‘The Year of Disappearances, Political Killings in Cork, 1921-1922’, published by Gill & Macmillan on 29 October 2010, purportedly examines the period of the so-called ‘Cork Republic’ during 1921-22. Murphy alleges that the Cork IRA killed and ‘disappeared’ sometimes-uninvolved Cork Protestants, including teenagers, in the final phase of the 1919-21 Irish War of Independence (WoI)[1] and its aftermath. This is a controversial thesis and part of a debate whose parameters have been much publicised and discussed for over a decade.[2]
INTRODUCTION
Before tackling the book, it is necessary to give a brief historical introduction for those unfamiliar with this period in Irish history and/or with the context within which a debate on sectarianism in Irish history is taking place.
The British government refused to accept the verdict of a large majority of Irish people who opted for independence from Britain at the 1918 General Election. Sinn Féin won 73 of 105 Irish seats and set up a breakaway Dáil (parliament) in January 1919.[3] As a consequence of British suppression of Irish demands and institutions, an increasingly ruthless and bitter military, clandestine, intelligence, propaganda and political struggle broke out between British and Irish forces during 1919-21. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) fought British counterinsurgency forces. Support for the republican project deepened in the face of British measures that, while effectively brutal, were otherwise ineffective. Protestant and Roman Catholic civil society south of what became the border of the state of Northern Ireland either supported or was effectively neutral toward republican forces, mostly the former. British policy aimed at managing the conflict by encouraging and deepening sectarian division failed, essentially because their republican opponents, while mainly Roman Catholic in religious outlook, were politically anti-sectarian.[4]
However, small but significant counter republican forces based ideologically on Protestant loyalism and support for the British Empire may have been successfully activated. Such groups and individuals faced severe IRA sanction, including execution and deportation. As Third West Cork Flying Column leader Tom Barry put it, ‘The British were met with their own weapons – they had gone down into the mire to destroy us and our nation, and down after them we had to go.’[5] The question is, how far was that?
A truce between the belligerents, preparatory to negotiations, came into force on 11 July 1921.[6] An Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921 provided for partial independence for 26 of the country’s 32 counties. The Irish Free State emerged from a split over the Treaty provisions that caused a 1922-23 southern civil war.[7]  The residual Six County statelet of Northern Ireland, which remained inside the United Kingdom, effectively began life by expelling thousands of Roman Catholics and ‘rotten Protestants’ (socialists) from their jobs. It survived by institutionalising and maintaining sectarian discrimination.[8] The permanently governing Ulster Unionist Party oversaw sectarian discrimination until the Northern Ireland parliament was effectively abolished in March 1972, a situation ‘sanctioned by the neglect of successive British governments’.[9]
The path to relative political stability by the mid 1920s was as fractious and bitter as what preceded it. It left a lasting legacy whose parameters are disputed and which acted as a significant influence on the outbreak of ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland after 1968. Disputes over what happened then, between 1919-23, are also frequently disputes over what happened after 1968. Irish history has become intertwined with, and is interpreted within, the framework of Irish politics. Within this fractious exercise British responsibility is frequently abstracted from the picture, replaced with considerations of sectarian strife peculiar to the island of Ireland.
In addition, in recent years emphasis on unionist and British responsibility for sectarianism has shifted. It has been argued that Irish republicans targeted Protestants for sectarian reasons during the WoI, rather than for engaging in largely clandestine activity on behalf of British forces.
GERARD MURPHY’S YEAR OF DISAPPEARANCES
In The Year of Disappearances Gerard Murphy acknowledges his debt to the late Peter Hart who pioneered the republican sectarianism argument in his highly influential The IRA and its Enemies: violence and community in Cork, 1916-1923 (OUP, 1998). Subsequent criticism established that Hart invented evidence and misreported archival material in order to establish his case. Inexplicably, with few exceptions, Irish historians failed to respond to the serious problems raised.[10] Murphy wrote that Hart’s 1998 book ‘is worth the cover price for the sources alone’ and that ‘Hart’s sources’ were his ‘starting point’. (p. 22) [11]
Hart’s argument had strong media supporters. Kevin Myers in the Irish Times and Eoghan Harris in the Sunday Times and Sunday Independent, vigorously promoted his research, Myers from 1990 and Harris from 1998. These efforts reflected their opposition to the Northern Ireland peace process up to and after the 1994 IRA ceasefire. Journalist propagandists like Harris and Myers promoted and amplified research with which they politically agreed, while dismissing counter arguments.[12] The impact of their efforts should not be casually dismissed. Thousands of readers without access to a different argument were potentially conditioned to accept a tendentious view of Irish history.
This is the context within which Gerard Murphy’s book has been written and within which, inevitably, it will be interpreted. However, all interpretation, irrespective of origin, should bow before evidence. Without identifiable evidence within historical texts, discussion and debate becomes merely contested rhetoric. It is here, as I shall demonstrate, that Murphy’s book fails.
Murphy acknowledges that his 498 pages and 58 chapters contain ‘at best a theory or, rather a series of interrelated theories’ (p. XI). Numerous problems arise, however, from ill-considered suppositions and speculations. The absence of an adequate scholarly apparatus gives rise to doubts over the work’s merits. It also creates severe difficulties in establishing how Murphy reached his conclusions. Unfortunately, though referenced in notes, the book contains no list of primary sources. A thin bibliography of published work is provided. However, un-paginated citation of published material is of no help.[13] On occasion also Murphy cites unnamed individuals he encountered on his quest, for example: ‘This book was almost finished when I chanced upon an elderly Cork city man’ (p. 301); ‘A number of years ago a friend of mine was driving along one Sunday morning listening to the car radio…’ (p. 245) The impression of a carelessly prepared work rushed into print (for the Christmas market?) is evident. Take page 86 for instance. There, in the second of two mentions, it is reported that there was ‘no branch of the UDA in Cork’. Presumably, instead of this unexplained acronym, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF, founded in 1912) was intended, rather than the Ulster Defence Association (UDA, which emerged in the latter part of 1971).[14] Since ‘The Year of Disappearances’ is advertised as a referenced work of history it therefore lacks prima facie credibility.[15] In most reputable universities such work would not be admissible as research.
MEDIA AMPLIFICATION
Murphy suggests that sectarian strife was a product of Irish Republican Army (IRA) activities in the city of Cork and its environs in the province of Munster, the hotbed of military opposition to British rule during the WoI. It was a period in which the IRA and then anti-Anglo Irish Treaty IRA gained control, a control that began after the Truce and continued to July 1922. This is the period of the so-called ‘Cork Republic’.
Murphy accused the local IRA, in particular its south side No. 2 Cork city battalion, of killing and disappearing Protestants, including teenagers. As with Hart’s research, Murphy’s book attracted significant media attention on publication, from Eoghan Harris, Kevin Myers and (also on this occasion) from John Paul McCarthy.[16]
With media publicity came also examples of a media amplification effect. Harris suggested that Murphy’s figure of 78 (sometimes unknown and unnamed) Protestants he alleges were killed during 1920-22 is ‘not far from the German-Jewish figure of 91’ murdered ‘during the Nazi pogrom of Kristallnacht, November 28, 1938’. Not far in total but quite so, time wise. Far, also, from the estimated six million Jews annihilated during World War Two. If Harris opted in his inappropriate comparison for a ‘European perspective’, Myers chose an all-island one. He observed, ‘Most Belfast nationalists know of the terrible things that befell Catholics’ there. He continued, ‘What happened in Cork was actually worse’. To put this comment in perspective, between July 1920 and June 1922, it is estimated that 276 Catholics and 185 Protestants (all named), plus three whose religious identity was indeterminate, were killed in sectarian disturbances in Belfast.[17]
An observation by McCarthy (a young Cork originating historian, who echoes the thoughts of Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris[18]) illustrates our first example of a limitation in Murphy’s approach. Murphy refers on page 194 to ‘the first time I had heard mention’ of Jim and Miah Grey, described as, ‘two of the most prominent IRA gunmen on the North side of Cork city’. He reports the Grey brothers as so intent on killing Protestants they were opposed internally. For example, noted Murphy, in ‘the winter of 1921/22’, an IRA company in Glenville, County Cork, put,
‘a round the clock armed guard on the local demesne, that of Sir Edward Hudson Kinehan… At the time the armed guard was said to be a protection against ‘the Grays’’.[19]
McCarthy praised the book in the Sunday Independent on 7 November 2010. He described the brothers as,
‘two notoriously cruel IRA men from the city’s trigger-happy south side [sic] battalion whose ample defects were still discussed at the drag-hunt meetings in Dripsey that gobbled up my childhood Sundays’:
McCarthy continued,
‘Murphy recounts the dramatic scene during the winter of 1921 when the local IRA company in Glenville posted an armed guard around the local demesne so as to protect the well regarded Protestant Kinehan family against a nocturnal visit from the Grays intent on a rerun of the earlier sectarian massacre at Coolacreese [sic], Co Offaly.’
Aside from McCarthy placing the brothers on the south-side, while Murphy described them as in a north side IRA battalion, there are significant problems with Murphy’s narrative, and with McCarthy’s amplification:
First, Murphy’s evidential basis ‘for this story’ consists of two ‘neighbours in Glenville’, whom he names. This local lore may be a useful source. However, oral history should be triangulated with other evidence (where available). This is desirable to avoid history resting on hearsay;
Second, though it is a ‘story’ which alleges the Greys were contemplating a killing, no evidence is provided that they attempted to carry it out or that they were planning it. What we have is an uncorroborated non-event;
Third, McCarthy’s sly reference to a ‘sectarian massacre at Coolacreese [sic], Co Offaly’ is noteworthy. In Coolacrease in June 1921 the IRA executed two brothers called Pearson for informing and for firing on and severely wounding an IRA road blocking party. McCarthy tendentiously describes it as a sectarian killing, in which he also insinuates the Greys may have participated, when there is far more reasonable evidence to show that the Pearson brothers were killed because they were militarily engaged informers.[20] Nothing suggests Grey brother involvement.
Instead of relying solely on sketchy local lore, Murphy should also have inspected archival material. There, the origin of the oral memory, subsequently exaggerated, may be found. Indeed, UCC historian John Borgonovo has already published on it in an article for The Irish Sword. The Greys ran the IRA’s transport section. They believed, for whatever reason, that in April 1921 Kinehan had somehow obtained car parts reserved by the Greys for the IRA. Consequently, wrote Borgonovo,
‘Six armed Volunteers raided the home of Sir Edward Kinehan. They dismantled his car, took away numerous parts, then destroyed the engine with pick-axes. On the car door, they chalked the message, ‘Don’t take our parts. By Order, Transport Commandant, 1st Brigade IRA’.[21]
So, in this case there was no assassination attempt. The car was executed, not a Protestant knight of the realm. An archival source (in this case an RIC report), while also requiring interrogation, has the value of pinpointing and preserving the time and place of this event. It also clarifies a lingering memory that appears, as reported, to have lost its shape over time. Murphy did not take this elemental step, a failing that permits scope for speculation along possibly pre-conceived lines.
Leaving McCarthy aside, let us now pursue Murphy’s methodology and see where it leads.
‘A FELLA BURIED IN THIS BOG AND… IN THAT BOG’
Murphy’s case rests on being able to show that more people were killed during the conflict than has been recorded. He suggests that this occurred particularly during the closing period of the Anglo-Irish conflict, the period of the Truce after July 1921 and in the six-month interregnum between Treaty split and onset of civil war in June 1922.
Who died? In Murphy’s ‘Appendix II’, the following 12 unnamed and unknown Protestants are listed in ‘Post-Truce/Civil War Killings of civilians in Cork City and Environs’:
Three Protestant Boys – 11-15 July 1921
Six ‘Prominent Citizens’ – 17 March 1922
Three merchants – June 1922
Murphy then lists in Appendix III and IV, missing persons from 1922-26 and missing persons inquiries, 1923-28, produced by the Irish Free State. There is no correlation between Murphy’s speculations in Appendix II and the official lists. There are no links whatever to the IRA in many cases. Here we have Murphy bothering to produce archival data but the problem is that it does not confirm his speculations.
On pages 39-40 Murphy wrote of the origin of his suspicion that the IRA engaged in systematic secretive assassinations, based on unreasonable paranoia. He noted,
‘This was not the history we had learned in school, though it did correlate with what I had learned from neighbours as a child when I’d be told: ‘Well, there was a fella buried in this bog, and there was a fella buried in that bog, and there as another fella tied to a gate and shot in Glashaboy’.’
The 40-odd civilians shot as ‘spies’ by the Cork IRA during the War of independence is likely to be an underestimation, because tramps and those in the margins of society disappeared leaving no record’.
This is followed by note 6 (p. 354) that cites Peter Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies, but no page number. The reader cannot trace these reportedly executed tramps to the information source. Had the reader done so he or she would in any case have been misled. Hart has been criticised for failing to document any evidence of his dead tramps, though he speculated freely on the IRA targeting them and ‘social deviants’, in his final chapter.[22]  While such comments may make media sound bites they are not history. In this case it is also an example of one largely contentless reference (Murphy’s) building upon another (Hart’s). So here, where Murphy provides a gestural reference, he did not check to see whether Hart had sourced his materials, and is apparently unaware that Hart’s scholarship has been questioned.[23] No effort is made to estimate the number of tramps and ‘those in the margins of society’ in order to come up with an estimate of the numbers of non-recorded killings in the conflict. What we have here is merely speculation. It is essentially a faith-based history that is a logical outcome of Peter Hart’s sometimes-questionable methodology.
The nub of Gerard Murphy’s argument requires him to establish who organised the disappearing and shooting of uninvolved Protestants. He stipulates that three leading Cork IRA members were responsible. They are:
IRA head of intelligence, Florence O’Donoghue;
Josephine O’Donoghue (wife of Florence as of April 1921), an IRA spy who worked for General Strickland, the British Army Commander in Cork;
Cork No. 1 Brigade leader, Sean O’Hegarty.
Murphy does not establish what O’Hegarty, ‘a fierce ascetic and atheist’ (p. 15), has against Protestants, and his case against the O’Donoghues is entirely speculative. The O’Donoghues are regarded by Murphy as primarily responsible.
DROWNED IN PARANOIA
In his review of the book, Eoghan Harris accurately and supportively summarised Murphy’s portrayal of a ‘depraved’ Florence O’Donoghue and his ‘sinister’ wife Josephine. (Examiner, 5 November) They are accused by Murphy of executing Protestant teenagers and Josephine’s Protestant neighbours in a series of ‘what if’ scenarios that encapsulate the book’s ‘methodology’.
Murphy argued that Josephine was ‘paranoid’ (p. 316). How so? A son from her first marriage to a British soldier, who was killed in the First World War, was retained by her late husband’s anti-Catholic family in Britain. In return for Josephine’s offer to the IRA to spy on General Strickland her son was sensationally either kidnapped or liberated (or both, depending on point of view) in November 1920 by Florence O’Donoghue and five other IRA volunteers. He was returned to Cork where Josephine’s sister hid him. In April 1921 Florence and Josephine married.[24]
Murphy speculated that Josephine’s paranoia was due to the publicity surrounding this event. She became ‘frightened of her Protestant neighbours’ and ‘turned on them in case they might inform on her’, while scaring off others (p. 114, emph. in original, see also ‘Map 2’). The arrest of a father and son named Blemens on 29 November 1920 by the IRA and their subsequent execution for spying, is given as the prime example, as they lived near Josephine. However, Josephine’s then mother in law in Barry in Wales received anonymous letters ‘stating that the little boy was in Cork with his mother’. Florence O’Donoghue thought the sender was ‘a Miss Murphy who lived at No 3 Roxboro Terrace’, beside Josephine (ibid). Miss Murphy was unharmed despite proof of being suspected in this regard. Gerard Murphy glides past the fact, before fixating on the Blemens family and an assumption of paranoia on the part of Josephine.
Supposition devoid of a scintilla of corroborative evidence supports the unstable foundation of this argument. The argument, however, proceeds apace.
Take page 310. Murphy comments on Florence O’Donoghue’s correspondence with his wife in June 1921, written while he was separated on IRA duties. A letter of 17 June revealed, writes Murphy, ‘very little… to suggest that dramatic happenings might be taking place in Roxboro Terrace’ where Josephine resided at No. 4. Murphy observes, however, ‘the lack of direct reference… may itself be grounds for suspicion.’ One or two ‘hints’ in the letter may ‘cast a new and extraordinary light’ on a previously reported Times of London article of 18 May 1922, in which ‘somebody’s child’ was abducted along the Blackrock Road, Cork city, again near Josephine’s house (p. 307). Though no other newspaper reported the alleged abduction and no archival trace of it can be found, Murphy considers the story of great significance. He asks,
‘was [Josephine] the ‘mysterious individual in a motor car’ who was involved in the actual abduction? The use of the word ‘individual’ rather than ‘man’ is interesting.’ (p. 309)
Yes, quite interesting. We move now to the ‘extraordinary light’ Florence’s letter allegedly casts on this dramatic episode, from which Murphy deduces Josephine’s role. O’Donoghue’s 17 June letter to his wife contains, writes Murphy, ‘one cryptic reference to matters in the city’:
‘some friends from Cork tell me you were , so to say, on active service one day a while ago. But there was nothing doing apparently’.
O’Donoghue then asks his wife to be ‘careful’. Murphy comments, ‘this of course could be interpreted to mean anything’. According to Murphy it could mean that Josephine was a ‘mysterious individual in a motor car’ who abducted a teenager. By the same token it could mean that Florence was advising his wife simply to be careful while carrying out her IRA duties.
Murphy makes further deductions on the basis of a letter of 20 June. In a closing paragraph on family matters Florence O’Donoghue commented on a 20 June Cork Examiner report of a small family boat involved in an unconnected aquatic accident. O’Donoghue refers to ‘a boating accident…. and there was a youngster in it’. He wonders, on the basis that his wife was a keen yachtswoman, if it ‘was your party, ye seem to have a pretty taste in accidents of that kind. Glad to see that nothing worse than a ducking befell anybody’. [25] Murphy observes, ‘Again, this could be interpreted in many different ways’. Indeed it could, but Murphy is determined on this:
‘considering that we have already speculated [!] that boys may [!] have been taken and thrown into the sea along with YMCA provisions during [IRA] raids on the harbour in mid-June, and also that [Henry A] Harris appears [!] to have been drowned in Boulogne, this is an amazing coincidence’. (p. 310-11, see also p. 312)
‘Amazing’ indeed. On this reasoning, that includes reference to an event that occurred one year later in March 1923, Murphy insinuates that Josephine was drowning as well as abducting Protestant teenagers.
At the risk of drowning the reader in detail it is necessary to explain Murphy’s reference to Henry A Harris. Harris had been a prominent Cork Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) member who Murphy believes was deliberately killed by drowning in France in March 1923 (Ch. 39, ‘A Boulogne Mystery’, pp. 207-11, citing the Irish Times, 26 March 1923, Cork Examiner, 21 April 1923).
However, on page 211 we read, ‘We are not 100 per cent sure of course, that the body found in Boulogne harbour was that of H.A. Harris’. In fact, apart from, ‘his age was about right’, that Harris was English and the body was assumed to be, no evidence suggests that it was. A subsequent press report that ‘I/O IRA’ killed this unknown individual, as a ‘traitor to Irish Republic’, was later again reported a ‘definitely established’ hoax, perpetrated by yet another Englishman (Irish Times, 9, 23 April 1923) For Murphy, however, ‘this was almost certainly an IRA job’, the use of ‘I/O’ (for ‘Intelligence Officer’), being the determining factor in Murphy’s view. In support, he reports that records of the East Bristol YMCA in England, where Harris was General Secretary to the end of 1922, subsequently went missing. On this basis alone, he writes that the Irish Times ‘hoax’ article was ‘dissimulation’, and also, ‘It suggests that somebody in Britain wanted to keep the facts of the drowning a secret’. Who and for what particular or peculiar reason Murphy does not explain. In an initial Times of London report (26 March 2010, not cited by Murphy) police suggested that the individual, whose possessions were missing, was robbed after he drowned and after his body was washed up on shore.
The reason Harris is swept into Murphy’s narrative is because, in a previous chapter (Ch. 18, ‘The Cork YMCA’, pp. 100-07), Murphy discusses and dismisses IRA assertions that a pro-British intelligence ring operated out of the Cork YMCA. The reason Murphy is on the trail of Harris in the first place is because,
‘Harris would have made a good candidate as the leader of an alleged spy ring operating out of the YMCA…. I have found no evidence from any surviving IRA men’s accounts that he was ever shot by the IRA or targeted or that his name was ever known, but he was the head man of the Munster YMCA during the War of independence. Therefore he would make for a logical target’. (p. 207-208)
There is, in other words, no evidence the IRA was after Harris in the first place. Therefore, not a scintilla of hard evidence justifies including Chapter 39 in the book. It is an evidential dead end[26] and Murphy’s readers have entered a speculative wilderness.
On the IRA suggestion that there may have been clandestine activity on the part of some Cork YMCA members, Murphy dismisses it. ‘Going through the records of the YMCA from 1915 to 1924’ convinces him that the YMCA was not a ‘secret service agency’ or even a ‘cover up’ for one (p. 103, 104). This reasoning is naive. It is doubtful if a group of the clandestine type the IRA alleged existed would have detailed their activities in the YMCA minute book. That would be foolish. On the same basis, hunting through Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) records might fail to uncover evidence of Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) infiltration, though it occurred. Murphy could have taken a hint from the YMCA General Committee Year Book, in which he is surprised by ‘how little the YMCA seemed to be affected by the conflict going on around it’ (p. 105). Preserving the stated purpose of such an organisation would be essential for a group operating ‘under-the-cover’ of the YMCA. To maintain security and credibility, most YMCA members would surely be entirely unaware of the use to which their organisation may have been put. Surprisingly, this possibility does not appear to have occurred to Murphy.
The piling of unproven assumptions one on top of the other leaves the discerning reader underwhelmed.
YMCA TOILET PAPER
‘[T]his is all mere speculation’. (Gerard Murphy, p. 147)
Eleven pages on from his boating incident commentary and with no further substantive argument, Murphy writes, ‘I am now of the view’ that the O’Donoghues and, Sean O’Hegarty,
‘snatched local Protestant teenagers – of 16 years and upwards who may or may not have been connected with spying activities – and used them as hostages against British executions of IRA prisoners’. (p. 321)
Dan O’Brien was the last IRA prisoner to be executed on 16 May 1921 (p. 313). Murphy suggests that a group of teenagers was ‘snatched’ in the first two weeks of May to place pressure on the British not to shoot O’Brien. They were shot, alleges Murphy, after O’Brien was. The reason this IRA activity has no extant evidential basis is, suggests Murphy, because even the British,
‘covered up the blackmail and reported to Dublin Castle that the boys had been conscripted into the IRA’. (p. 322)
Why the British should do this strange thing is not clear. Even more peculiarly, ‘a month later [16 June 1921], with more prisoners on death row, the trick was tried again’. (p. 322) Why, when it did not work the first time? Murphy has already admitted that O’Brien was the last to be shot. Furthermore, it appears that O’Donoghue knew he would remain the last. He wrote on 15 June 1921, ‘Official reprisals are certainly at an end, which is a big victory for us’. And, on 16 June, ‘I think the shooting of men for having arms and levying war is at an end’.[27] Undaunted, Murphy alleges that the IRA,
‘now leave a note in the YMCA toilet, intended to be passed on to the military, either to warn against spying, or supplying the military or that the boys would be shot if the British returned to official executions’. (p. 322)
It sounds like a complicated message. What did it say? We must turn back 216 pages to page 106, where YMCA minutes note,
‘the discovery in the downstairs toilet of the YMCA (which was used by the public) of ‘a piece of paper… purporting to come from the CO IRA, Cork District, containing a threat’[…]. There is no hint as to what the threat actually was.’
Within Murphy’s methodology, ignorance is no barrier to certainty. The truth is, Murphy cannot demonstrate that the IRA snatched, imprisoned or shot two groups of Protestant teenagers. Murphy’s case is built almost entirely on supposition. His evidence, where evident, appears to consist of local lore, partial and vague archival references, and his imagination.
For an exercise in sustained supposition with regard to allegedly missing persons based on no hard evidence, however, Chapter 50, ‘St Patrick’s Day Parade’ (pp. 268-277), is possibly the best example.
Here Murphy discusses the alleged kidnapping of his ‘Six ‘Prominent Citizens’ – 17 March 1922’ listed in Appendix II. His discussion is based on ‘confirmation… of a rumour… that some prominent local supporters of the Treaty were recently kidnapped’ (Irish Times, 21 March 1922, in Murphy, p. 269). Murphy supposes (without describing how or why) that these were ‘lower middle class Protestants’ (p. 271), who he cannot name and whose relatives never sought their whereabouts. They ‘simply disappeared’. (p. 270) Murphy suggests,
‘Secrecy and censorship… makes a space in which it is possible for all kinds of people to have disappeared. It appears that the reaction of the families involved was in effect to collude with this silence out of fear of attracting even more violence’.  (p. 272).
Murphy notes by way, it must be assumed, of corroboration, ‘I have not been able to find any’ references to the event in state papers. (p. 385, n. 21) Murphy has based his theory on a rumour devoid of substance. The absence of evidence reinforces Murphy’s belief system, rather than (as in most social science and other forms of rational enquiry) acting to change his hypothesis. Instead, Murphy attempts to make the past fit his point of view.
On pages 273-274 Murphy cites various contemporary Protestant statements condemning unionist attacks on Catholics in Northern Ireland. They were invariably accompanied by statements that the Protestant community in the south ‘never suffered from intolerance’. (p. 273). This included ‘50 Cork business leaders’ whose ‘denial’, writes Murphy, ‘of the events of St Patrick’s Day was absolute’, absolute in the sense that these alleged ‘events’ did not penetrate their consciousness. Instead (p. 274), the business leaders called on the Northern Ireland Government to re-instate the up to 10,000 Roman Catholics who had been expelled from their work in Harland and Wolfe and other shipyards and workplaces in July 1920 by unionist mobs.[28]
Murphy concludes from this evidence of no sectarian targeting aimed in their direction:
‘It is … clear from this that, for the Cork business community and for Southern Protestants in general, suppression was the price of survival.’ (p.274)
Murphy continues, ‘the YMCA general committee remained unchanged…. and kept on meeting as if nothing had happened. Indeed, there is no reference…  in YMCA minutes’.
In other words, where Murphy has no evidence that something happened, he cites further evidence undermining the suggestion. In Murphy’s methodology this becomes confirmation that the alleged event did in fact happen. Maybe it should occur to him that indeed, ‘nothing… happened’.
A sub-theme pursued by Murphy is that if Church of Ireland Anglicans were oblivious to events, then their low church Protestant counterparts, in particular Methodists for some reason, were sectarian victims (Ch. 44, ‘Clerical Errors’, p. 232-241).  Unfortunately, Methodists were equally uncooperative in confirming Murphy’s thesis. Murphy cites the Rev. Alfred Harbinson, a Methodist minister in Dunmanway who stated after the exceptional April 27-29 killings of 13 Protestants in the Bandon Valley that, contrary to mistaken reports, he had been ‘neither visited or attacked’ and,
‘Never at any time have I been molested or interfered with in any way. I have always received the utmost courtesy from the people of the town and surrounding community’.
Murphy, then observes, ‘All the evidence from a variety of sources suggests that Rev. Harbinson did in fact flee’. (p. 274) He cites, precisely, none. The Reverend gentleman is portrayed, on no evidence whatever, as an unreliable reporter of his own experience. Cork’s most prominent Methodist, Crown Solicitor Jasper Wolfe, insisted afterwards that though he was subject to attack, this was not because of his religious beliefs, but rather due to his leading position within the British administration during a period of armed conflict. His grandson biographer recently expressed ‘surprise’ at allegations of republican or nationalist sectarianism. Jasper Wolfe had never raised them in often told tales of being,
‘kidnapped by the IRA, or attempts to shoot him, or of his house on the outskirts of Skibbereen being occupied by Republicans or Freestaters in turn. But I never heard any suggestion of sectarian hostility towards the Wolfes, whether from the I.R.A., from their Catholic neighbours, or indeed from any Catholics at all’.[29]
LOYALISTS Vs PROTESTANTS
Where Murphy relies on published sources for evidence of extra unrecorded killings it reflects further weaknesses in his argument. On page 328 (of 408 in Chapter 57, of 58), Murphy cites a June 1922 statement from the Irish Compensation Claims Committee complaining of ‘more murders of loyalists, ex-soldiers, ex-policemen than have been reported to the [British] House of Commons’ (Irish Times, 2 June 1922). Murphy supports this allegation. However, a section of the same committee report not cited by Murphy mentions ‘the position of Southern loyalists’. The ‘expulsion is not confined to Protestants’. It refers to, ‘a very large number of the exiles’ being  ‘Roman Catholics … members of the old nationalist Party of Mr Redmond’ that was superseded by Sinn Féin in the 1918 general election. Anti Protestant activity is alleged to be concentrated in West Cork, where ‘nearly every Protestant trader and small farmer has been expelled’. This is the only mention of Protestants per se and relates to the fearful and understandable exodus after the April 27-29 killings of 13 Protestant civilians in the Bandon Valley.[30] Who are the culprits? The statement explains:
‘The Irish terror is directed against all who own any property or capital, or are supposed to belong to the so-called “bourgeois” class.’
The controlling influence is said to be the ‘Irish Transport Union’ and ‘the anti capitalist influences of the Third International’. In short, the source blames communists for these attacks, rather than the IRA.  While such misstatements are expected in propaganda intended to secure compensation, they are highly problematic as a historical source.  Even then, the statement undermines charges of sectarianism, since both southern loyalists and home rulers are said to have been the targets.[31]
In Murphy’s methodology, the lack of evidence for something always becomes evidence of its existence when that is convenient. Do we have examples of him doing it the other way when it suits him?
In his passion to pursue rather than control his speculations, Murphy misrepresents more representative Protestant views. Again on page 328, Murphy asserts that ‘the disappearance of youngsters…. truly traumatised the Protestant community’. At the end of July 1922, according to Murphy, ‘the Southern Protestant Appeal, set up to support families who were fleeing the south drew up a declaration’. Murphy cited it in reference to ‘Protestant residents in Southern Ireland’, who,
‘desire to express our abhorrence of sectional bitterness manifesting itself in acts of violence. We earnestly hope that recent horrible reprisals, culminating in the killing of children, will make it clear that citizens of all creed and classes must unite in a most determined effort to secure peace’.
At first glance, this does appear to be significant, in particular ‘the killing of children’ reference. However, this appeal made its first public appearance in the Irish Times on 7 April 1921, nearly four months earlier. The Southern Protestant Appeal did not relate to Protestants in Southern Ireland. It arose from concern at violence against Catholics in Northern Ireland. The appeal therefore did state what Murphy cited above, but with reference to the killings in the North. The appeal continued, in a passage that Murphy does not cite, with the following observation,
‘We further desire as members of religious minorities in Southern Ireland, to put on record that the South of Ireland has been notably free from sectarian violence’.
This statement was made, let us remind ourselves, in April 1921 after two years of often-bitter conflict and two months before the Truce. It was instigated by a letter to the Irish Times from an EA Aston, a Protestant, on 21 March and supported by ‘Belfast Catholic’ on 24 March, who referred to ‘a bomb thrown amongst Catholic children in Weaver Street’ in Belfast, in the North, not in the South. The ‘killing of children’ reference was to the killing of Catholic children not Protestants. It is of significance that southern Protestants did not support the contention that they were subject to sectarian attack.
One exception to this rule appears to be the April 27-29 1922 killings in the Bandon Valley of 13 Protestant civilians. The Protestant Convention, that paralleled the Southern Protestant Appeal, met on 11 May 1922 and stated,
‘apart from this incident, hostility to Protestants by reason of their religion has been almost, if not wholly, unknown in the twenty six counties in which Protestants are in the minority’. (Irish Times, Independent, 12 May, 1922)
While Murphy selectively quotes from the Southern Protestant Appeal and misreports its origins, I can find no reference to the parallel Protestant Convention in Murphy’s book. I raise the issue because Florence O’Donoghue’s leading role in the IRA was then coming to an end. He resigned from the IRA at the end of June 1922 and stayed neutral in the ensuing Civil War that commenced on 20 June (p. 317). Murphy’s problem is this:  at the height of O’Donoghue’s alleged sectarian reign of terror against Cork Protestants, southern Protestants were claiming that they were not targeted on a sectarian basis. Murphy’s solution to this problem is (as noted) to accuse Protestants of lying about their own experiences. Murphy has preconceived speculations that he is unwilling to test carefully against the evidence.
JOHN BORGONOVO’S RESEARCH
‘Further evidence may ultimately suggest that even my most closely argued theories are wrong.’ (Gerard Murphy, p. 29)
In 2007, in 198 pages and nine chapters, John Borgonovo ploughed the same ground as Murphy. His concisely composed Spies, informers and the ‘Anti-Sinn Fein Society’, the Intelligence War in Cork City 1920-21 (Irish Academic Press, 2007) covered the same series of IRA executions that Murphy analyses. It was completed originally in 1997 as an MA thesis in University College Cork (UCC), prior to publication of Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies in 1998.[32] Borgonovo also edited Florence and Josephine O’Donoghue’s War of Independence, a destiny that shapes our ends (IAP, 2006). Though Murphy stated (p. 22) that Hart’s published work provided the stimulus for his research, Borgonovo’s may have provided its structure. The O’Donoghue’s demeanour as anti-Protestants in chief in Murphy’s research does not tally with Borgonovo’s portrayal. Borgonovo revealed how Josephine was working for the British Army commander in Cork, General Strickland, as an IRA spy. Under her codename, ‘G’, she was the source of valuable intelligence information used not only in Cork but also in Dublin by Michael Collins, the head of intelligence. Borgonovo carefully evaluated evidence and suggested that IRA intelligence appeared extensive and absent of sectarian intent.[33]
GRAVES
One aspect of Murphy’s research has already excited media attention[34] and may also attract the official version. It suggests where bodies of some of those executed during the conflict are buried. It is a fact that some were never recovered. Borgonovo noted that Martin Corry, an IRA volunteer and subsequently a Fianna Fail TD, regularly ‘boasted’ that his land was one location.[35] In addition, a colour photograph in Gerard Murphy’s book, facing page 143, contains the caption,
‘The clump of trees at Frankfield, Ballycureen, where three Protestant boys who were executed by the 2nd battalion of the city IRA are believed to be buried’
If they are there, the authorities may take an interest in the recovery of human remains. The remit of the commission tasked with recovering bodies after the recent conflict in the North of Ireland could be expanded to examine this.
CONCLUSION
Gerard Murphy, who has written two novels, has produced novel material in a work that began life as a novel. (p. XI) It may soon feature, as with Peter Hart’s research, in Orange Order commentaries.[36] But it should be treated as fiction until better evidence is provided. Southern Protestants consistently rejected unionist claims that the IRA was deliberately targeting Protestants.[37] Some committed loyalists begged to differ, not Protestants generally, including many unionists. Much better evidence needs to be supplied than Murphy provides to overturn the judgment of those most likely to have had such fears.
Gerard Murphy’s is not a history based on Michael Oakshot’s dictum that,  ‘History is what the evidence compels us to believe’. It is rather based on what Gerard Murphy believes. Evidence in these circumstances is a useful support but not essential. Not only does Murphy fail to supply appropriate compelling evidence for what he believes, he also manages to provide sufficient warrant to show that his case is riddled with contradictions. The best that can be said for the book is that it was published in an unfinished condition. There may be a better smaller book hiding inside. The back dust cover includes an accurate statement from Professor Eunan O’Halpin of Trinity College Dublin that the work will ‘stir up controversy’. It will and it should, controversy about the lapses in historical standards and the absence of historical method that are prevalent in some revisionist histories of the Irish War of Independence and its aftermath.
[1] Sometimes referred to as ‘the Tan war’ (after the British ‘Black & Tans’ counterinsurgency force), usually to undermine the impression that full independence resulted.
[2] See note 10.
[3] Dorothy Macardle, The Irish Republic, Wolfhound, 3rd ed., 1999, pp. 266, 271-76. Most of the remainder were won by unionists in the province of Ulster.
[4] An unsurpassed survey of the Anglo-Irish conflict that discusses the sectarian and propaganda aspects of British policy is a participant’s account, Frank Gallagher, The Four Glorious Years, Blackwater, 2005 (originally publ., David Hogan, pseud., Irish Press, 1953). Gallagher, the last person prosecuted by a Free State military tribunal in 1931 and the first Editor of the Irish Press, also pioneered analysis of the sectarian structure and practices of the Northern Ireland statelet and of its private sphere, The Indivisible Island, Gollancz, 1956.
[5] Cited on rear dust cover of Meda Ryan, Tom Barry, IRA Freedom Fighter, Mercier, 2003
[6] Macardle, op cit, p. 477.
[7] Ibid, Chapters 64-76, pp. 608-754.
[8] See G.B. Kenna, Facts and Figures, The Belfast Pogroms, 1920-22, Donaldson Archives, 1997; also note following.
[9] See Michael Farrell, Northern Ireland, the Orange State, 2nd ed., Pluto, 1980; John D. Brewer and Gareth I. Higgins, Anti-Catholicism in Northern Ireland, 1600-1998: the Mote and the Beam, Macmillan Press, 1999; Tim Pat Coogan, The Troubles: Ireland’s ordeal, 1966-1996, and the search for peace, Hutchinson, 1995; John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary, Explaining Northern Ireland, Blackwell, 2003, p.45.
[10] See Meda Ryan, Tom Barry, IRA Freedom Fighter, Mercier, 2003; Brian Murphy, The Origin and Organisation of British Propaganda in Ireland in 1920, Spinwatch-Aubane, 2006; John Borgonovo, Spies, Informers and the ‘Anti Sinn Fein Society’, IAP, 2007; Brian Murphy, Niall Meehan, Troubled History, a 10th Anniversary Critique of Peter Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies, Aubane, 2008; Niall Meehan, Distorting Irish History, the stubborn facts of Kilmichael: Peter Hart and Irish Historiography, at www,spinwatch.org, 2010. See http://gcd.academia.edu/NiallMeehan. The following also addressed Peter Hart’s questionable methodology:  Brendan O’Leary, ‘A Long March,’ Dublin Review of Books, No. 5, Spring 2008, at www.drb.ie; Conor Kostick, Revolution in Ireland, Popular Militancy 1917-1923, 2nd ed., Cork University Press, 2009, pp. 102-3.
[11] At a Centre for Contemporary Irish Research Seminar in Trinity College on November 3rd, chaired by Eunan O’Halpin, Murphy reported Peter Hart’s work as the initial and continuing inspiration for his research.
[12] See Niall Meehan, 2010, op cit.
[13] Also, unpublished theses cited by Murphy are not listed in the bibiography. One is cited in a misleading manner, on pages 42, 82, 360 and 393. On page 42 a source for ‘Table 3. List of civilians killed in the environs of Cork city during the War of Independence’ is given simply as ‘Miller-Borgonovo’. This hyphenated individual is not indexed, though a ‘Borgonovo, John’ is indexed as making his first appearance on page 82 (not 42). There, a ‘John Miller Borgonovo’ (without hyphen) is named as the author of the ‘most recent detailed work’ on ‘executions carried out by the Cork No 1 Brigade in Cork city’. This is cited as ‘Informers, Intelligence and the Anti-Sinn Féin Society, the Anglo Irish Conflict in Cork City 1920-21’ (note, the term ‘Anti Sinn Fein Society’ should be in inverted commas). This is followed by note 6 in which the work is again named and dated as a 1998 University College Cork (UCC) MA thesis (p. 360). The note concludes by misnaming the 2007 Irish Academic Press book by ‘John Borgonovo’ that is based on, but also updates, the thesis. That book is ‘Spies, Informers and the ‘Anti-Sinn Féin Society’, the Intelligence War in Cork City’. Murphy again leaves out the important inverted commas surrounding ‘Anti-Sinn Féin Society’. He also omits the hyphen between ‘Anti’ and ‘Sinn Féin’, substitutes ‘League’ for ‘Society’ and omits the sub-title. In the bibliography (p. 393) these mistakes, apart from the now included subtitle, are repeated. To sum up, the 1998 Borgonovo thesis that Murphy names in his main text and cites in note 6, p. 82, is not the ‘most recent detailed work’ on the subject, Borgonovo’s misnamed (pp. 360, 393) 2007 book is. More on Borgonovo’s significant research later.
[14] Coogan, op cit, p. 130. Also, On page. 246, Professor John A Murphy is criticised for asserting ‘There was no ethnic cleansing on [Cork city’s] South Mall’, the up market commercial and financial district said to be dominated by a well to do Protestants. Neither the source, The Sunday Independent (4 October 2004), or the context, (a meeting of Reform, an organisation wishing to take the Irish Republic back in to the British Commonwealth), is given. Murphy observed, ‘Irish Protestants in the 26 counties suffered population decline, grievously in the 1914-23 period and more gradually thereafter. There are many explanations for this phenomenon, active persecution being the least plausible… the notion that tens of thousands of Protestants were compelled to flee their shops and farms is Paisleyite myth-mongering.’ Murphy, it should be stated, supports the argument that individual Protestants ‘were victims of Catholic sectarian nationalism masquerading as republicanism in places like west Cork’ and sources his view within Peter Hart’s research. Murphy replied to newspaper criticism from Eoghan Harris and from John Paul McCarthy on this point. He stood over his original comment. (Examiner, 5, 10 November 2010; Sunday Independent 7, 14 November 2010)
[15] See, http://www.gillmacmillan.ie/history/history/the-year-of-disappearances (accessed 9 November 2010).
[16] Eoghan Harris promoted the book in the Examiner, 5 November 2010. John Paul McCarthy wrote similarly in the Sunday Independent on 7 November. On 12 November in the Irish Independent, Kevin Myers observed in his commentary, ‘I invented the entire subject of historical journalism for the period 1914-23’. He continued, ‘my exclusion by the Irish Times from its supplement to mark the 90th anniversary of the [1916] Rising was one of several reasons why I resigned from that newspaper’.
[17] G.B. Kenna, op cit, p101. Kenna names and dates the victims. Of the 185 Protestants, up to half were probably killed by Catholics, mostly from belief that they were acting in self-defence. The remainder were said to be victims of indiscriminate unionist firing and attempts by the British military to repel unionist attacks on Catholics (ibid, pp. 101-114).
[18] See for example, John-Paul McCarthy, ‘Lost chance to write the Workers’ Party history’, Sunday Independent, 8 November, 2009.
[19] While Murphy and, following him, McCarthy use ‘Gray’, ‘Grey’ is the more usual spelling in the literature. I am informed by Manus O’Riordan (email, 15 Nov 2010), son of Michael, below, ‘There is not the slightest evidence to support the charge of sectarianism against the Greys. Quite the contrary. When Michael O’Riordan was expelled from the Labour Party in 1944 – following his public stand against the anti-Semitism of Cork Labour Councillor Tim Quill – and went on to establish the Cork Socialist Party, Jim Grey became one of the most active campaigners on O’Riordan’s behalf in the subsequent [14 June] 1946 Cork [Borough] by-election [in which O’Riordan obtained more votes than Tom Barry, see http://electionsireland.org – NM]’.
[20] The Coolacrease killings were the subject of a controversial 2007 RTE documentary involving Eoghan Harris. For a critique, see, Philip O’Connor, Paddy Heaney, Pat Muldowney, Coolacrease: the True Story of the Pearson Executions, an Incident in the Irish War of Independence, Aubane, 2008. See also Niall Meehan and also (separately) Philip O’Connor and Pat Muldowney’s response in Dublin Review of Books, No. 11, Autumn 2009, to a review by Tom Wall in issue No. 9, available at www.drb.ie.
[21] John Borgonovo, ‘The Guerrilla Infrastructure: IRA Special Services in the Cork No. 1 Brigade, 1917-1921,’ The Irish Sword, XXVII, No. 108, pp. 215-16. Borgonovo’s sources are, n. 53, RIC Daily Reports, 8 – 14 April 1921. This is not an obscure source.
[22] Hart, 1998, op cit, p. 311. One reason ‘tramps’ sometimes received attention from the IRA was that the British army were in the habit of sending soldiers out disguised as tramps. See Florence O’Donoghue, No other law, Irish Press, 1954, p. 119.
[23] See note 10.
[24] Murphy, notes that this story ‘has been described in detail elsewhere’. It is the O’Donoghue’s own story, in John Borgonovo, ed, Florence and Josephine O’Donoghue’s War of independence, a destiny that shapes our ends (IAP, 2006). Unsurprisingly, the O’Donoghue’s memories of these years do not correspond with Gerard Murphy’s views.
[25] The episode is also mentioned in Borgonovo, ed, 2006, p. 174, 188-9, n. 47, which publishes the letters series.
[26] A logical place to pursue the matter would be in Boulogne itself, but there is no evidence that Murphy thought of or did this.
[27] In Borgonovo, ed, 2006, p. 170, 171
[28] G.B. Kenna, op cit., p. 22, citing Protestant expelled worker, James Baird, in the Dublin Evening Telegraph, 11 November 1920, who gives this figure.
[29] Jasper Ungoed-Thomas, Jasper Wolfe of Skibbereen, Collins Press, 2008, pp. 143-4, 220-1; Jasper Ungoed-Thomas, ‘IRA Sectarianism in Skibbereen?’ Skibbereen and District Historical Society Journal, Vol. 6, 2010. p. 97.
[30] The incident climaxed Peter Hart’s conclusion (op. cit.) that the IRA was sectarian toward Protestants. For a counter view, see Meda Ryan, ‘‘The Dunmanway find’ of Informers’ Dossier’, in Tom Barry, IRA Freedom Fighter, Mercier, 2005, pp. 209-229.
[31] Irish Times, 2 June 1922. The same page reports 200 refugees from unionist sectarianism in Belfast being transferred to the Marlborough Hall, Dublin.
[32] Borgonovo, 2007, op cit, p. 1.
[33] Ibid, passim.
[34] See Kevin Myers, op. cit.; and, prior to the book’s publication, Andrew Bushe, ‘Have secret files solved 85-yr-old murder mystery?’, Sunday Mirror, 1 July 2007.
[35] John Borgonovo, ‘The Guerrilla Infrastructure: IRA Special Services in the Cork No. 1 Brigade, 1917-1921,’ The Irish Sword, XXVII, No. 108, pp. 211-13
[36] See interview with Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson, Irish Times, 17 June 2006.
[37] A useful exploration is contained in four articles in Church & State, No. 86, Autumn 2006: Eamon Dyas, ‘The Crown Campaign Against Protestant Neutrality in Cork During the Irish War of Independence’; Editorial, ‘Ireland in 1921: Dr. Fitzpatrick Puts Mr. Bury’s Foot in It’; Joe Keenan, Dennis Kennedy, ‘Protestant Refugees: Semantics or Accuracy?’; Sean McGouran, ‘Robin Bury’s Faulty Witness’. It is available at, http://free-magazines.atholbooks.org/c&s/cs86.pdf. See also http://free-magazines.atholbooks.org/c&s/cs90.pdf for Manus O’Riordan, ‘Tom Barry and Sectarian Degradation’, Church and State, No. 90, Autumn 2007. The issue is also discussed by Niall Meehan, ‘Frank Gallagher and land agitation – a response to Tom Wall’s ‘Getting Them Out, Southern Loyalists in the War of Independence’’ (DRB, Issue 9 Spring 2009)’, Dublin Review of Books, Issue 11, Autumn 2009; ‘Top People, review of The Irish Establishment 1879-1914, by Fergus Campbell’, Dublin Review of Books, Issue 14, Summer 2010 – available at www.drb.ie and at, http://gcd.academia.edu/NiallMeehan/Papers.

Nial Meehan has contacted us and has pointed us to an article he wrote some time ago, thank you for submitting the article to us , his words are below:
My review (the first) of Gerard Murphy’s The Year of Disappearances:
Niall Meehan, 17th November 2010Gerard Murphy’s ‘The Year of Disappearances, Political Killings in Cork, 1921-1922’, published by Gill & Macmillan on 29 October 2010, purportedly examines the period of the so-called ‘Cork Republic’ during 1921-22. Murphy alleges that the Cork IRA killed and ‘disappeared’ sometimes-uninvolved Cork Protestants, including teenagers, in the final phase of the 1919-21 Irish War of Independence (WoI)[1] and its aftermath. This is a controversial thesis and part of a debate whose parameters have been much publicised and discussed for over a decade.[2]INTRODUCTIONBefore tackling the book, it is necessary to give a brief historical introduction for those unfamiliar with this period in Irish history and/or with the context within which a debate on sectarianism in Irish history is taking place.
The British government refused to accept the verdict of a large majority of Irish people who opted for independence from Britain at the 1918 General Election. Sinn Féin won 73 of 105 Irish seats and set up a breakaway Dáil (parliament) in January 1919.[3] As a consequence of British suppression of Irish demands and institutions, an increasingly ruthless and bitter military, clandestine, intelligence, propaganda and political struggle broke out between British and Irish forces during 1919-21. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) fought British counterinsurgency forces. Support for the republican project deepened in the face of British measures that, while effectively brutal, were otherwise ineffective. Protestant and Roman Catholic civil society south of what became the border of the state of Northern Ireland either supported or was effectively neutral toward republican forces, mostly the former. British policy aimed at managing the conflict by encouraging and deepening sectarian division failed, essentially because their republican opponents, while mainly Roman Catholic in religious outlook, were politically anti-sectarian.[4] However, small but significant counter republican forces based ideologically on Protestant loyalism and support for the British Empire may have been successfully activated. Such groups and individuals faced severe IRA sanction, including execution and deportation. As Third West Cork Flying Column leader Tom Barry put it, ‘The British were met with their own weapons – they had gone down into the mire to destroy us and our nation, and down after them we had to go.’[5] The question is, how far was that?A truce between the belligerents, preparatory to negotiations, came into force on 11 July 1921.[6] An Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921 provided for partial independence for 26 of the country’s 32 counties. The Irish Free State emerged from a split over the Treaty provisions that caused a 1922-23 southern civil war.[7]  The residual Six County statelet of Northern Ireland, which remained inside the United Kingdom, effectively began life by expelling thousands of Roman Catholics and ‘rotten Protestants’ (socialists) from their jobs. It survived by institutionalising and maintaining sectarian discrimination.[8] The permanently governing Ulster Unionist Party oversaw sectarian discrimination until the Northern Ireland parliament was effectively abolished in March 1972, a situation ‘sanctioned by the neglect of successive British governments’.[9]The path to relative political stability by the mid 1920s was as fractious and bitter as what preceded it. It left a lasting legacy whose parameters are disputed and which acted as a significant influence on the outbreak of ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland after 1968. Disputes over what happened then, between 1919-23, are also frequently disputes over what happened after 1968. Irish history has become intertwined with, and is interpreted within, the framework of Irish politics. Within this fractious exercise British responsibility is frequently abstracted from the picture, replaced with considerations of sectarian strife peculiar to the island of Ireland. In addition, in recent years emphasis on unionist and British responsibility for sectarianism has shifted. It has been argued that Irish republicans targeted Protestants for sectarian reasons during the WoI, rather than for engaging in largely clandestine activity on behalf of British forces.GERARD MURPHY’S YEAR OF DISAPPEARANCESIn The Year of Disappearances Gerard Murphy acknowledges his debt to the late Peter Hart who pioneered the republican sectarianism argument in his highly influential The IRA and its Enemies: violence and community in Cork, 1916-1923 (OUP, 1998). Subsequent criticism established that Hart invented evidence and misreported archival material in order to establish his case. Inexplicably, with few exceptions, Irish historians failed to respond to the serious problems raised.[10] Murphy wrote that Hart’s 1998 book ‘is worth the cover price for the sources alone’ and that ‘Hart’s sources’ were his ‘starting point’. (p. 22) [11]  Hart’s argument had strong media supporters. Kevin Myers in the Irish Times and Eoghan Harris in the Sunday Times and Sunday Independent, vigorously promoted his research, Myers from 1990 and Harris from 1998. These efforts reflected their opposition to the Northern Ireland peace process up to and after the 1994 IRA ceasefire. Journalist propagandists like Harris and Myers promoted and amplified research with which they politically agreed, while dismissing counter arguments.[12] The impact of their efforts should not be casually dismissed. Thousands of readers without access to a different argument were potentially conditioned to accept a tendentious view of Irish history.This is the context within which Gerard Murphy’s book has been written and within which, inevitably, it will be interpreted. However, all interpretation, irrespective of origin, should bow before evidence. Without identifiable evidence within historical texts, discussion and debate becomes merely contested rhetoric. It is here, as I shall demonstrate, that Murphy’s book fails. Murphy acknowledges that his 498 pages and 58 chapters contain ‘at best a theory or, rather a series of interrelated theories’ (p. XI). Numerous problems arise, however, from ill-considered suppositions and speculations. The absence of an adequate scholarly apparatus gives rise to doubts over the work’s merits. It also creates severe difficulties in establishing how Murphy reached his conclusions. Unfortunately, though referenced in notes, the book contains no list of primary sources. A thin bibliography of published work is provided. However, un-paginated citation of published material is of no help.[13] On occasion also Murphy cites unnamed individuals he encountered on his quest, for example: ‘This book was almost finished when I chanced upon an elderly Cork city man’ (p. 301); ‘A number of years ago a friend of mine was driving along one Sunday morning listening to the car radio…’ (p. 245) The impression of a carelessly prepared work rushed into print (for the Christmas market?) is evident. Take page 86 for instance. There, in the second of two mentions, it is reported that there was ‘no branch of the UDA in Cork’. Presumably, instead of this unexplained acronym, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF, founded in 1912) was intended, rather than the Ulster Defence Association (UDA, which emerged in the latter part of 1971).[14] Since ‘The Year of Disappearances’ is advertised as a referenced work of history it therefore lacks prima facie credibility.[15] In most reputable universities such work would not be admissible as research. MEDIA AMPLIFICATIONMurphy suggests that sectarian strife was a product of Irish Republican Army (IRA) activities in the city of Cork and its environs in the province of Munster, the hotbed of military opposition to British rule during the WoI. It was a period in which the IRA and then anti-Anglo Irish Treaty IRA gained control, a control that began after the Truce and continued to July 1922. This is the period of the so-called ‘Cork Republic’. Murphy accused the local IRA, in particular its south side No. 2 Cork city battalion, of killing and disappearing Protestants, including teenagers. As with Hart’s research, Murphy’s book attracted significant media attention on publication, from Eoghan Harris, Kevin Myers and (also on this occasion) from John Paul McCarthy.[16] With media publicity came also examples of a media amplification effect. Harris suggested that Murphy’s figure of 78 (sometimes unknown and unnamed) Protestants he alleges were killed during 1920-22 is ‘not far from the German-Jewish figure of 91’ murdered ‘during the Nazi pogrom of Kristallnacht, November 28, 1938’. Not far in total but quite so, time wise. Far, also, from the estimated six million Jews annihilated during World War Two. If Harris opted in his inappropriate comparison for a ‘European perspective’, Myers chose an all-island one. He observed, ‘Most Belfast nationalists know of the terrible things that befell Catholics’ there. He continued, ‘What happened in Cork was actually worse’. To put this comment in perspective, between July 1920 and June 1922, it is estimated that 276 Catholics and 185 Protestants (all named), plus three whose religious identity was indeterminate, were killed in sectarian disturbances in Belfast.[17] An observation by McCarthy (a young Cork originating historian, who echoes the thoughts of Sunday Independent columnist Eoghan Harris[18]) illustrates our first example of a limitation in Murphy’s approach. Murphy refers on page 194 to ‘the first time I had heard mention’ of Jim and Miah Grey, described as, ‘two of the most prominent IRA gunmen on the North side of Cork city’. He reports the Grey brothers as so intent on killing Protestants they were opposed internally. For example, noted Murphy, in ‘the winter of 1921/22’, an IRA company in Glenville, County Cork, put,‘a round the clock armed guard on the local demesne, that of Sir Edward Hudson Kinehan… At the time the armed guard was said to be a protection against ‘the Grays’’.[19]McCarthy praised the book in the Sunday Independent on 7 November 2010. He described the brothers as, ‘two notoriously cruel IRA men from the city’s trigger-happy south side [sic] battalion whose ample defects were still discussed at the drag-hunt meetings in Dripsey that gobbled up my childhood Sundays’: McCarthy continued, ‘Murphy recounts the dramatic scene during the winter of 1921 when the local IRA company in Glenville posted an armed guard around the local demesne so as to protect the well regarded Protestant Kinehan family against a nocturnal visit from the Grays intent on a rerun of the earlier sectarian massacre at Coolacreese [sic], Co Offaly.’Aside from McCarthy placing the brothers on the south-side, while Murphy described them as in a north side IRA battalion, there are significant problems with Murphy’s narrative, and with McCarthy’s amplification: First, Murphy’s evidential basis ‘for this story’ consists of two ‘neighbours in Glenville’, whom he names. This local lore may be a useful source. However, oral history should be triangulated with other evidence (where available). This is desirable to avoid history resting on hearsay;Second, though it is a ‘story’ which alleges the Greys were contemplating a killing, no evidence is provided that they attempted to carry it out or that they were planning it. What we have is an uncorroborated non-event;Third, McCarthy’s sly reference to a ‘sectarian massacre at Coolacreese [sic], Co Offaly’ is noteworthy. In Coolacrease in June 1921 the IRA executed two brothers called Pearson for informing and for firing on and severely wounding an IRA road blocking party. McCarthy tendentiously describes it as a sectarian killing, in which he also insinuates the Greys may have participated, when there is far more reasonable evidence to show that the Pearson brothers were killed because they were militarily engaged informers.[20] Nothing suggests Grey brother involvement.Instead of relying solely on sketchy local lore, Murphy should also have inspected archival material. There, the origin of the oral memory, subsequently exaggerated, may be found. Indeed, UCC historian John Borgonovo has already published on it in an article for The Irish Sword. The Greys ran the IRA’s transport section. They believed, for whatever reason, that in April 1921 Kinehan had somehow obtained car parts reserved by the Greys for the IRA. Consequently, wrote Borgonovo,‘Six armed Volunteers raided the home of Sir Edward Kinehan. They dismantled his car, took away numerous parts, then destroyed the engine with pick-axes. On the car door, they chalked the message, ‘Don’t take our parts. By Order, Transport Commandant, 1st Brigade IRA’.[21]So, in this case there was no assassination attempt. The car was executed, not a Protestant knight of the realm. An archival source (in this case an RIC report), while also requiring interrogation, has the value of pinpointing and preserving the time and place of this event. It also clarifies a lingering memory that appears, as reported, to have lost its shape over time. Murphy did not take this elemental step, a failing that permits scope for speculation along possibly pre-conceived lines. Leaving McCarthy aside, let us now pursue Murphy’s methodology and see where it leads.‘A FELLA BURIED IN THIS BOG AND… IN THAT BOG’Murphy’s case rests on being able to show that more people were killed during the conflict than has been recorded. He suggests that this occurred particularly during the closing period of the Anglo-Irish conflict, the period of the Truce after July 1921 and in the six-month interregnum between Treaty split and onset of civil war in June 1922. Who died? In Murphy’s ‘Appendix II’, the following 12 unnamed and unknown Protestants are listed in ‘Post-Truce/Civil War Killings of civilians in Cork City and Environs’:Three Protestant Boys – 11-15 July 1921Six ‘Prominent Citizens’ – 17 March 1922Three merchants – June 1922Murphy then lists in Appendix III and IV, missing persons from 1922-26 and missing persons inquiries, 1923-28, produced by the Irish Free State. There is no correlation between Murphy’s speculations in Appendix II and the official lists. There are no links whatever to the IRA in many cases. Here we have Murphy bothering to produce archival data but the problem is that it does not confirm his speculations.On pages 39-40 Murphy wrote of the origin of his suspicion that the IRA engaged in systematic secretive assassinations, based on unreasonable paranoia. He noted,‘This was not the history we had learned in school, though it did correlate with what I had learned from neighbours as a child when I’d be told: ‘Well, there was a fella buried in this bog, and there was a fella buried in that bog, and there as another fella tied to a gate and shot in Glashaboy’.’ The 40-odd civilians shot as ‘spies’ by the Cork IRA during the War of independence is likely to be an underestimation, because tramps and those in the margins of society disappeared leaving no record’. This is followed by note 6 (p. 354) that cites Peter Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies, but no page number. The reader cannot trace these reportedly executed tramps to the information source. Had the reader done so he or she would in any case have been misled. Hart has been criticised for failing to document any evidence of his dead tramps, though he speculated freely on the IRA targeting them and ‘social deviants’, in his final chapter.[22]  While such comments may make media sound bites they are not history. In this case it is also an example of one largely contentless reference (Murphy’s) building upon another (Hart’s). So here, where Murphy provides a gestural reference, he did not check to see whether Hart had sourced his materials, and is apparently unaware that Hart’s scholarship has been questioned.[23] No effort is made to estimate the number of tramps and ‘those in the margins of society’ in order to come up with an estimate of the numbers of non-recorded killings in the conflict. What we have here is merely speculation. It is essentially a faith-based history that is a logical outcome of Peter Hart’s sometimes-questionable methodology.The nub of Gerard Murphy’s argument requires him to establish who organised the disappearing and shooting of uninvolved Protestants. He stipulates that three leading Cork IRA members were responsible. They are: IRA head of intelligence, Florence O’Donoghue;Josephine O’Donoghue (wife of Florence as of April 1921), an IRA spy who worked for General Strickland, the British Army Commander in Cork;Cork No. 1 Brigade leader, Sean O’Hegarty. Murphy does not establish what O’Hegarty, ‘a fierce ascetic and atheist’ (p. 15), has against Protestants, and his case against the O’Donoghues is entirely speculative. The O’Donoghues are regarded by Murphy as primarily responsible.DROWNED IN PARANOIAIn his review of the book, Eoghan Harris accurately and supportively summarised Murphy’s portrayal of a ‘depraved’ Florence O’Donoghue and his ‘sinister’ wife Josephine. (Examiner, 5 November) They are accused by Murphy of executing Protestant teenagers and Josephine’s Protestant neighbours in a series of ‘what if’ scenarios that encapsulate the book’s ‘methodology’. Murphy argued that Josephine was ‘paranoid’ (p. 316). How so? A son from her first marriage to a British soldier, who was killed in the First World War, was retained by her late husband’s anti-Catholic family in Britain. In return for Josephine’s offer to the IRA to spy on General Strickland her son was sensationally either kidnapped or liberated (or both, depending on point of view) in November 1920 by Florence O’Donoghue and five other IRA volunteers. He was returned to Cork where Josephine’s sister hid him. In April 1921 Florence and Josephine married.[24]Murphy speculated that Josephine’s paranoia was due to the publicity surrounding this event. She became ‘frightened of her Protestant neighbours’ and ‘turned on them in case they might inform on her’, while scaring off others (p. 114, emph. in original, see also ‘Map 2’). The arrest of a father and son named Blemens on 29 November 1920 by the IRA and their subsequent execution for spying, is given as the prime example, as they lived near Josephine. However, Josephine’s then mother in law in Barry in Wales received anonymous letters ‘stating that the little boy was in Cork with his mother’. Florence O’Donoghue thought the sender was ‘a Miss Murphy who lived at No 3 Roxboro Terrace’, beside Josephine (ibid). Miss Murphy was unharmed despite proof of being suspected in this regard. Gerard Murphy glides past the fact, before fixating on the Blemens family and an assumption of paranoia on the part of Josephine.Supposition devoid of a scintilla of corroborative evidence supports the unstable foundation of this argument. The argument, however, proceeds apace.Take page 310. Murphy comments on Florence O’Donoghue’s correspondence with his wife in June 1921, written while he was separated on IRA duties. A letter of 17 June revealed, writes Murphy, ‘very little… to suggest that dramatic happenings might be taking place in Roxboro Terrace’ where Josephine resided at No. 4. Murphy observes, however, ‘the lack of direct reference… may itself be grounds for suspicion.’ One or two ‘hints’ in the letter may ‘cast a new and extraordinary light’ on a previously reported Times of London article of 18 May 1922, in which ‘somebody’s child’ was abducted along the Blackrock Road, Cork city, again near Josephine’s house (p. 307). Though no other newspaper reported the alleged abduction and no archival trace of it can be found, Murphy considers the story of great significance. He asks,‘was [Josephine] the ‘mysterious individual in a motor car’ who was involved in the actual abduction? The use of the word ‘individual’ rather than ‘man’ is interesting.’ (p. 309)Yes, quite interesting. We move now to the ‘extraordinary light’ Florence’s letter allegedly casts on this dramatic episode, from which Murphy deduces Josephine’s role. O’Donoghue’s 17 June letter to his wife contains, writes Murphy, ‘one cryptic reference to matters in the city’:‘some friends from Cork tell me you were , so to say, on active service one day a while ago. But there was nothing doing apparently’.O’Donoghue then asks his wife to be ‘careful’. Murphy comments, ‘this of course could be interpreted to mean anything’. According to Murphy it could mean that Josephine was a ‘mysterious individual in a motor car’ who abducted a teenager. By the same token it could mean that Florence was advising his wife simply to be careful while carrying out her IRA duties. Murphy makes further deductions on the basis of a letter of 20 June. In a closing paragraph on family matters Florence O’Donoghue commented on a 20 June Cork Examiner report of a small family boat involved in an unconnected aquatic accident. O’Donoghue refers to ‘a boating accident…. and there was a youngster in it’. He wonders, on the basis that his wife was a keen yachtswoman, if it ‘was your party, ye seem to have a pretty taste in accidents of that kind. Glad to see that nothing worse than a ducking befell anybody’. [25] Murphy observes, ‘Again, this could be interpreted in many different ways’. Indeed it could, but Murphy is determined on this: ‘considering that we have already speculated [!] that boys may [!] have been taken and thrown into the sea along with YMCA provisions during [IRA] raids on the harbour in mid-June, and also that [Henry A] Harris appears [!] to have been drowned in Boulogne, this is an amazing coincidence’. (p. 310-11, see also p. 312)‘Amazing’ indeed. On this reasoning, that includes reference to an event that occurred one year later in March 1923, Murphy insinuates that Josephine was drowning as well as abducting Protestant teenagers. At the risk of drowning the reader in detail it is necessary to explain Murphy’s reference to Henry A Harris. Harris had been a prominent Cork Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) member who Murphy believes was deliberately killed by drowning in France in March 1923 (Ch. 39, ‘A Boulogne Mystery’, pp. 207-11, citing the Irish Times, 26 March 1923, Cork Examiner, 21 April 1923). However, on page 211 we read, ‘We are not 100 per cent sure of course, that the body found in Boulogne harbour was that of H.A. Harris’. In fact, apart from, ‘his age was about right’, that Harris was English and the body was assumed to be, no evidence suggests that it was. A subsequent press report that ‘I/O IRA’ killed this unknown individual, as a ‘traitor to Irish Republic’, was later again reported a ‘definitely established’ hoax, perpetrated by yet another Englishman (Irish Times, 9, 23 April 1923) For Murphy, however, ‘this was almost certainly an IRA job’, the use of ‘I/O’ (for ‘Intelligence Officer’), being the determining factor in Murphy’s view. In support, he reports that records of the East Bristol YMCA in England, where Harris was General Secretary to the end of 1922, subsequently went missing. On this basis alone, he writes that the Irish Times ‘hoax’ article was ‘dissimulation’, and also, ‘It suggests that somebody in Britain wanted to keep the facts of the drowning a secret’. Who and for what particular or peculiar reason Murphy does not explain. In an initial Times of London report (26 March 2010, not cited by Murphy) police suggested that the individual, whose possessions were missing, was robbed after he drowned and after his body was washed up on shore.  The reason Harris is swept into Murphy’s narrative is because, in a previous chapter (Ch. 18, ‘The Cork YMCA’, pp. 100-07), Murphy discusses and dismisses IRA assertions that a pro-British intelligence ring operated out of the Cork YMCA. The reason Murphy is on the trail of Harris in the first place is because, ‘Harris would have made a good candidate as the leader of an alleged spy ring operating out of the YMCA…. I have found no evidence from any surviving IRA men’s accounts that he was ever shot by the IRA or targeted or that his name was ever known, but he was the head man of the Munster YMCA during the War of independence. Therefore he would make for a logical target’. (p. 207-208)There is, in other words, no evidence the IRA was after Harris in the first place. Therefore, not a scintilla of hard evidence justifies including Chapter 39 in the book. It is an evidential dead end[26] and Murphy’s readers have entered a speculative wilderness.On the IRA suggestion that there may have been clandestine activity on the part of some Cork YMCA members, Murphy dismisses it. ‘Going through the records of the YMCA from 1915 to 1924’ convinces him that the YMCA was not a ‘secret service agency’ or even a ‘cover up’ for one (p. 103, 104). This reasoning is naive. It is doubtful if a group of the clandestine type the IRA alleged existed would have detailed their activities in the YMCA minute book. That would be foolish. On the same basis, hunting through Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) records might fail to uncover evidence of Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) infiltration, though it occurred. Murphy could have taken a hint from the YMCA General Committee Year Book, in which he is surprised by ‘how little the YMCA seemed to be affected by the conflict going on around it’ (p. 105). Preserving the stated purpose of such an organisation would be essential for a group operating ‘under-the-cover’ of the YMCA. To maintain security and credibility, most YMCA members would surely be entirely unaware of the use to which their organisation may have been put. Surprisingly, this possibility does not appear to have occurred to Murphy.The piling of unproven assumptions one on top of the other leaves the discerning reader underwhelmed.YMCA TOILET PAPER‘[T]his is all mere speculation’. (Gerard Murphy, p. 147)Eleven pages on from his boating incident commentary and with no further substantive argument, Murphy writes, ‘I am now of the view’ that the O’Donoghues and, Sean O’Hegarty, ‘snatched local Protestant teenagers – of 16 years and upwards who may or may not have been connected with spying activities – and used them as hostages against British executions of IRA prisoners’. (p. 321)  Dan O’Brien was the last IRA prisoner to be executed on 16 May 1921 (p. 313). Murphy suggests that a group of teenagers was ‘snatched’ in the first two weeks of May to place pressure on the British not to shoot O’Brien. They were shot, alleges Murphy, after O’Brien was. The reason this IRA activity has no extant evidential basis is, suggests Murphy, because even the British, ‘covered up the blackmail and reported to Dublin Castle that the boys had been conscripted into the IRA’. (p. 322)Why the British should do this strange thing is not clear. Even more peculiarly, ‘a month later [16 June 1921], with more prisoners on death row, the trick was tried again’. (p. 322) Why, when it did not work the first time? Murphy has already admitted that O’Brien was the last to be shot. Furthermore, it appears that O’Donoghue knew he would remain the last. He wrote on 15 June 1921, ‘Official reprisals are certainly at an end, which is a big victory for us’. And, on 16 June, ‘I think the shooting of men for having arms and levying war is at an end’.[27] Undaunted, Murphy alleges that the IRA, ‘now leave a note in the YMCA toilet, intended to be passed on to the military, either to warn against spying, or supplying the military or that the boys would be shot if the British returned to official executions’. (p. 322)It sounds like a complicated message. What did it say? We must turn back 216 pages to page 106, where YMCA minutes note, ‘the discovery in the downstairs toilet of the YMCA (which was used by the public) of ‘a piece of paper… purporting to come from the CO IRA, Cork District, containing a threat’[…]. There is no hint as to what the threat actually was.’Within Murphy’s methodology, ignorance is no barrier to certainty. The truth is, Murphy cannot demonstrate that the IRA snatched, imprisoned or shot two groups of Protestant teenagers. Murphy’s case is built almost entirely on supposition. His evidence, where evident, appears to consist of local lore, partial and vague archival references, and his imagination. For an exercise in sustained supposition with regard to allegedly missing persons based on no hard evidence, however, Chapter 50, ‘St Patrick’s Day Parade’ (pp. 268-277), is possibly the best example. Here Murphy discusses the alleged kidnapping of his ‘Six ‘Prominent Citizens’ – 17 March 1922’ listed in Appendix II. His discussion is based on ‘confirmation… of a rumour… that some prominent local supporters of the Treaty were recently kidnapped’ (Irish Times, 21 March 1922, in Murphy, p. 269). Murphy supposes (without describing how or why) that these were ‘lower middle class Protestants’ (p. 271), who he cannot name and whose relatives never sought their whereabouts. They ‘simply disappeared’. (p. 270) Murphy suggests,‘Secrecy and censorship… makes a space in which it is possible for all kinds of people to have disappeared. It appears that the reaction of the families involved was in effect to collude with this silence out of fear of attracting even more violence’.  (p. 272). Murphy notes by way, it must be assumed, of corroboration, ‘I have not been able to find any’ references to the event in state papers. (p. 385, n. 21) Murphy has based his theory on a rumour devoid of substance. The absence of evidence reinforces Murphy’s belief system, rather than (as in most social science and other forms of rational enquiry) acting to change his hypothesis. Instead, Murphy attempts to make the past fit his point of view. On pages 273-274 Murphy cites various contemporary Protestant statements condemning unionist attacks on Catholics in Northern Ireland. They were invariably accompanied by statements that the Protestant community in the south ‘never suffered from intolerance’. (p. 273). This included ‘50 Cork business leaders’ whose ‘denial’, writes Murphy, ‘of the events of St Patrick’s Day was absolute’, absolute in the sense that these alleged ‘events’ did not penetrate their consciousness. Instead (p. 274), the business leaders called on the Northern Ireland Government to re-instate the up to 10,000 Roman Catholics who had been expelled from their work in Harland and Wolfe and other shipyards and workplaces in July 1920 by unionist mobs.[28]Murphy concludes from this evidence of no sectarian targeting aimed in their direction:‘It is … clear from this that, for the Cork business community and for Southern Protestants in general, suppression was the price of survival.’ (p.274)Murphy continues, ‘the YMCA general committee remained unchanged…. and kept on meeting as if nothing had happened. Indeed, there is no reference…  in YMCA minutes’. In other words, where Murphy has no evidence that something happened, he cites further evidence undermining the suggestion. In Murphy’s methodology this becomes confirmation that the alleged event did in fact happen. Maybe it should occur to him that indeed, ‘nothing… happened’.A sub-theme pursued by Murphy is that if Church of Ireland Anglicans were oblivious to events, then their low church Protestant counterparts, in particular Methodists for some reason, were sectarian victims (Ch. 44, ‘Clerical Errors’, p. 232-241).  Unfortunately, Methodists were equally uncooperative in confirming Murphy’s thesis. Murphy cites the Rev. Alfred Harbinson, a Methodist minister in Dunmanway who stated after the exceptional April 27-29 killings of 13 Protestants in the Bandon Valley that, contrary to mistaken reports, he had been ‘neither visited or attacked’ and,‘Never at any time have I been molested or interfered with in any way. I have always received the utmost courtesy from the people of the town and surrounding community’. Murphy, then observes, ‘All the evidence from a variety of sources suggests that Rev. Harbinson did in fact flee’. (p. 274) He cites, precisely, none. The Reverend gentleman is portrayed, on no evidence whatever, as an unreliable reporter of his own experience. Cork’s most prominent Methodist, Crown Solicitor Jasper Wolfe, insisted afterwards that though he was subject to attack, this was not because of his religious beliefs, but rather due to his leading position within the British administration during a period of armed conflict. His grandson biographer recently expressed ‘surprise’ at allegations of republican or nationalist sectarianism. Jasper Wolfe had never raised them in often told tales of being,  ‘kidnapped by the IRA, or attempts to shoot him, or of his house on the outskirts of Skibbereen being occupied by Republicans or Freestaters in turn. But I never heard any suggestion of sectarian hostility towards the Wolfes, whether from the I.R.A., from their Catholic neighbours, or indeed from any Catholics at all’.[29] LOYALISTS Vs PROTESTANTSWhere Murphy relies on published sources for evidence of extra unrecorded killings it reflects further weaknesses in his argument. On page 328 (of 408 in Chapter 57, of 58), Murphy cites a June 1922 statement from the Irish Compensation Claims Committee complaining of ‘more murders of loyalists, ex-soldiers, ex-policemen than have been reported to the [British] House of Commons’ (Irish Times, 2 June 1922). Murphy supports this allegation. However, a section of the same committee report not cited by Murphy mentions ‘the position of Southern loyalists’. The ‘expulsion is not confined to Protestants’. It refers to, ‘a very large number of the exiles’ being  ‘Roman Catholics … members of the old nationalist Party of Mr Redmond’ that was superseded by Sinn Féin in the 1918 general election. Anti Protestant activity is alleged to be concentrated in West Cork, where ‘nearly every Protestant trader and small farmer has been expelled’. This is the only mention of Protestants per se and relates to the fearful and understandable exodus after the April 27-29 killings of 13 Protestant civilians in the Bandon Valley.[30] Who are the culprits? The statement explains:‘The Irish terror is directed against all who own any property or capital, or are supposed to belong to the so-called “bourgeois” class.’The controlling influence is said to be the ‘Irish Transport Union’ and ‘the anti capitalist influences of the Third International’. In short, the source blames communists for these attacks, rather than the IRA.  While such misstatements are expected in propaganda intended to secure compensation, they are highly problematic as a historical source.  Even then, the statement undermines charges of sectarianism, since both southern loyalists and home rulers are said to have been the targets.[31] In Murphy’s methodology, the lack of evidence for something always becomes evidence of its existence when that is convenient. Do we have examples of him doing it the other way when it suits him?In his passion to pursue rather than control his speculations, Murphy misrepresents more representative Protestant views. Again on page 328, Murphy asserts that ‘the disappearance of youngsters…. truly traumatised the Protestant community’. At the end of July 1922, according to Murphy, ‘the Southern Protestant Appeal, set up to support families who were fleeing the south drew up a declaration’. Murphy cited it in reference to ‘Protestant residents in Southern Ireland’, who,‘desire to express our abhorrence of sectional bitterness manifesting itself in acts of violence. We earnestly hope that recent horrible reprisals, culminating in the killing of children, will make it clear that citizens of all creed and classes must unite in a most determined effort to secure peace’.At first glance, this does appear to be significant, in particular ‘the killing of children’ reference. However, this appeal made its first public appearance in the Irish Times on 7 April 1921, nearly four months earlier. The Southern Protestant Appeal did not relate to Protestants in Southern Ireland. It arose from concern at violence against Catholics in Northern Ireland. The appeal therefore did state what Murphy cited above, but with reference to the killings in the North. The appeal continued, in a passage that Murphy does not cite, with the following observation,‘We further desire as members of religious minorities in Southern Ireland, to put on record that the South of Ireland has been notably free from sectarian violence’.This statement was made, let us remind ourselves, in April 1921 after two years of often-bitter conflict and two months before the Truce. It was instigated by a letter to the Irish Times from an EA Aston, a Protestant, on 21 March and supported by ‘Belfast Catholic’ on 24 March, who referred to ‘a bomb thrown amongst Catholic children in Weaver Street’ in Belfast, in the North, not in the South. The ‘killing of children’ reference was to the killing of Catholic children not Protestants. It is of significance that southern Protestants did not support the contention that they were subject to sectarian attack.One exception to this rule appears to be the April 27-29 1922 killings in the Bandon Valley of 13 Protestant civilians. The Protestant Convention, that paralleled the Southern Protestant Appeal, met on 11 May 1922 and stated,‘apart from this incident, hostility to Protestants by reason of their religion has been almost, if not wholly, unknown in the twenty six counties in which Protestants are in the minority’. (Irish Times, Independent, 12 May, 1922)While Murphy selectively quotes from the Southern Protestant Appeal and misreports its origins, I can find no reference to the parallel Protestant Convention in Murphy’s book. I raise the issue because Florence O’Donoghue’s leading role in the IRA was then coming to an end. He resigned from the IRA at the end of June 1922 and stayed neutral in the ensuing Civil War that commenced on 20 June (p. 317). Murphy’s problem is this:  at the height of O’Donoghue’s alleged sectarian reign of terror against Cork Protestants, southern Protestants were claiming that they were not targeted on a sectarian basis. Murphy’s solution to this problem is (as noted) to accuse Protestants of lying about their own experiences. Murphy has preconceived speculations that he is unwilling to test carefully against the evidence.JOHN BORGONOVO’S RESEARCH‘Further evidence may ultimately suggest that even my most closely argued theories are wrong.’ (Gerard Murphy, p. 29)In 2007, in 198 pages and nine chapters, John Borgonovo ploughed the same ground as Murphy. His concisely composed Spies, informers and the ‘Anti-Sinn Fein Society’, the Intelligence War in Cork City 1920-21 (Irish Academic Press, 2007) covered the same series of IRA executions that Murphy analyses. It was completed originally in 1997 as an MA thesis in University College Cork (UCC), prior to publication of Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies in 1998.[32] Borgonovo also edited Florence and Josephine O’Donoghue’s War of Independence, a destiny that shapes our ends (IAP, 2006). Though Murphy stated (p. 22) that Hart’s published work provided the stimulus for his research, Borgonovo’s may have provided its structure. The O’Donoghue’s demeanour as anti-Protestants in chief in Murphy’s research does not tally with Borgonovo’s portrayal. Borgonovo revealed how Josephine was working for the British Army commander in Cork, General Strickland, as an IRA spy. Under her codename, ‘G’, she was the source of valuable intelligence information used not only in Cork but also in Dublin by Michael Collins, the head of intelligence. Borgonovo carefully evaluated evidence and suggested that IRA intelligence appeared extensive and absent of sectarian intent.[33]GRAVESOne aspect of Murphy’s research has already excited media attention[34] and may also attract the official version. It suggests where bodies of some of those executed during the conflict are buried. It is a fact that some were never recovered. Borgonovo noted that Martin Corry, an IRA volunteer and subsequently a Fianna Fail TD, regularly ‘boasted’ that his land was one location.[35] In addition, a colour photograph in Gerard Murphy’s book, facing page 143, contains the caption,‘The clump of trees at Frankfield, Ballycureen, where three Protestant boys who were executed by the 2nd battalion of the city IRA are believed to be buried’If they are there, the authorities may take an interest in the recovery of human remains. The remit of the commission tasked with recovering bodies after the recent conflict in the North of Ireland could be expanded to examine this.CONCLUSIONGerard Murphy, who has written two novels, has produced novel material in a work that began life as a novel. (p. XI) It may soon feature, as with Peter Hart’s research, in Orange Order commentaries.[36] But it should be treated as fiction until better evidence is provided. Southern Protestants consistently rejected unionist claims that the IRA was deliberately targeting Protestants.[37] Some committed loyalists begged to differ, not Protestants generally, including many unionists. Much better evidence needs to be supplied than Murphy provides to overturn the judgment of those most likely to have had such fears.Gerard Murphy’s is not a history based on Michael Oakshot’s dictum that,  ‘History is what the evidence compels us to believe’. It is rather based on what Gerard Murphy believes. Evidence in these circumstances is a useful support but not essential. Not only does Murphy fail to supply appropriate compelling evidence for what he believes, he also manages to provide sufficient warrant to show that his case is riddled with contradictions. The best that can be said for the book is that it was published in an unfinished condition. There may be a better smaller book hiding inside. The back dust cover includes an accurate statement from Professor Eunan O’Halpin of Trinity College Dublin that the work will ‘stir up controversy’. It will and it should, controversy about the lapses in historical standards and the absence of historical method that are prevalent in some revisionist histories of the Irish War of Independence and its aftermath.[1] Sometimes referred to as ‘the Tan war’ (after the British ‘Black & Tans’ counterinsurgency force), usually to undermine the impression that full independence resulted.[2] See note 10.[3] Dorothy Macardle, The Irish Republic, Wolfhound, 3rd ed., 1999, pp. 266, 271-76. Most of the remainder were won by unionists in the province of Ulster.[4] An unsurpassed survey of the Anglo-Irish conflict that discusses the sectarian and propaganda aspects of British policy is a participant’s account, Frank Gallagher, The Four Glorious Years, Blackwater, 2005 (originally publ., David Hogan, pseud., Irish Press, 1953). Gallagher, the last person prosecuted by a Free State military tribunal in 1931 and the first Editor of the Irish Press, also pioneered analysis of the sectarian structure and practices of the Northern Ireland statelet and of its private sphere, The Indivisible Island, Gollancz, 1956.[5] Cited on rear dust cover of Meda Ryan, Tom Barry, IRA Freedom Fighter, Mercier, 2003[6] Macardle, op cit, p. 477.[7] Ibid, Chapters 64-76, pp. 608-754.[8] See G.B. Kenna, Facts and Figures, The Belfast Pogroms, 1920-22, Donaldson Archives, 1997; also note following.[9] See Michael Farrell, Northern Ireland, the Orange State, 2nd ed., Pluto, 1980; John D. Brewer and Gareth I. Higgins, Anti-Catholicism in Northern Ireland, 1600-1998: the Mote and the Beam, Macmillan Press, 1999; Tim Pat Coogan, The Troubles: Ireland’s ordeal, 1966-1996, and the search for peace, Hutchinson, 1995; John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary, Explaining Northern Ireland, Blackwell, 2003, p.45.[10] See Meda Ryan, Tom Barry, IRA Freedom Fighter, Mercier, 2003; Brian Murphy, The Origin and Organisation of British Propaganda in Ireland in 1920, Spinwatch-Aubane, 2006; John Borgonovo, Spies, Informers and the ‘Anti Sinn Fein Society’, IAP, 2007; Brian Murphy, Niall Meehan, Troubled History, a 10th Anniversary Critique of Peter Hart’s The IRA and its Enemies, Aubane, 2008; Niall Meehan, Distorting Irish History, the stubborn facts of Kilmichael: Peter Hart and Irish Historiography, at www,spinwatch.org, 2010. See http://gcd.academia.edu/NiallMeehan. The following also addressed Peter Hart’s questionable methodology:  Brendan O’Leary, ‘A Long March,’ Dublin Review of Books, No. 5, Spring 2008, at www.drb.ie; Conor Kostick, Revolution in Ireland, Popular Militancy 1917-1923, 2nd ed., Cork University Press, 2009, pp. 102-3.[11] At a Centre for Contemporary Irish Research Seminar in Trinity College on November 3rd, chaired by Eunan O’Halpin, Murphy reported Peter Hart’s work as the initial and continuing inspiration for his research.[12] See Niall Meehan, 2010, op cit.[13] Also, unpublished theses cited by Murphy are not listed in the bibiography. One is cited in a misleading manner, on pages 42, 82, 360 and 393. On page 42 a source for ‘Table 3. List of civilians killed in the environs of Cork city during the War of Independence’ is given simply as ‘Miller-Borgonovo’. This hyphenated individual is not indexed, though a ‘Borgonovo, John’ is indexed as making his first appearance on page 82 (not 42). There, a ‘John Miller Borgonovo’ (without hyphen) is named as the author of the ‘most recent detailed work’ on ‘executions carried out by the Cork No 1 Brigade in Cork city’. This is cited as ‘Informers, Intelligence and the Anti-Sinn Féin Society, the Anglo Irish Conflict in Cork City 1920-21’ (note, the term ‘Anti Sinn Fein Society’ should be in inverted commas). This is followed by note 6 in which the work is again named and dated as a 1998 University College Cork (UCC) MA thesis (p. 360). The note concludes by misnaming the 2007 Irish Academic Press book by ‘John Borgonovo’ that is based on, but also updates, the thesis. That book is ‘Spies, Informers and the ‘Anti-Sinn Féin Society’, the Intelligence War in Cork City’. Murphy again leaves out the important inverted commas surrounding ‘Anti-Sinn Féin Society’. He also omits the hyphen between ‘Anti’ and ‘Sinn Féin’, substitutes ‘League’ for ‘Society’ and omits the sub-title. In the bibliography (p. 393) these mistakes, apart from the now included subtitle, are repeated. To sum up, the 1998 Borgonovo thesis that Murphy names in his main text and cites in note 6, p. 82, is not the ‘most recent detailed work’ on the subject, Borgonovo’s misnamed (pp. 360, 393) 2007 book is. More on Borgonovo’s significant research later.[14] Coogan, op cit, p. 130. Also, On page. 246, Professor John A Murphy is criticised for asserting ‘There was no ethnic cleansing on [Cork city’s] South Mall’, the up market commercial and financial district said to be dominated by a well to do Protestants. Neither the source, The Sunday Independent (4 October 2004), or the context, (a meeting of Reform, an organisation wishing to take the Irish Republic back in to the British Commonwealth), is given. Murphy observed, ‘Irish Protestants in the 26 counties suffered population decline, grievously in the 1914-23 period and more gradually thereafter. There are many explanations for this phenomenon, active persecution being the least plausible… the notion that tens of thousands of Protestants were compelled to flee their shops and farms is Paisleyite myth-mongering.’ Murphy, it should be stated, supports the argument that individual Protestants ‘were victims of Catholic sectarian nationalism masquerading as republicanism in places like west Cork’ and sources his view within Peter Hart’s research. Murphy replied to newspaper criticism from Eoghan Harris and from John Paul McCarthy on this point. He stood over his original comment. (Examiner, 5, 10 November 2010; Sunday Independent 7, 14 November 2010)[15] See, http://www.gillmacmillan.ie/history/history/the-year-of-disappearances (accessed 9 November 2010).[16] Eoghan Harris promoted the book in the Examiner, 5 November 2010. John Paul McCarthy wrote similarly in the Sunday Independent on 7 November. On 12 November in the Irish Independent, Kevin Myers observed in his commentary, ‘I invented the entire subject of historical journalism for the period 1914-23’. He continued, ‘my exclusion by the Irish Times from its supplement to mark the 90th anniversary of the [1916] Rising was one of several reasons why I resigned from that newspaper’.[17] G.B. Kenna, op cit, p101. Kenna names and dates the victims. Of the 185 Protestants, up to half were probably killed by Catholics, mostly from belief that they were acting in self-defence. The remainder were said to be victims of indiscriminate unionist firing and attempts by the British military to repel unionist attacks on Catholics (ibid, pp. 101-114).[18] See for example, John-Paul McCarthy, ‘Lost chance to write the Workers’ Party history’, Sunday Independent, 8 November, 2009.[19] While Murphy and, following him, McCarthy use ‘Gray’, ‘Grey’ is the more usual spelling in the literature. I am informed by Manus O’Riordan (email, 15 Nov 2010), son of Michael, below, ‘There is not the slightest evidence to support the charge of sectarianism against the Greys. Quite the contrary. When Michael O’Riordan was expelled from the Labour Party in 1944 – following his public stand against the anti-Semitism of Cork Labour Councillor Tim Quill – and went on to establish the Cork Socialist Party, Jim Grey became one of the most active campaigners on O’Riordan’s behalf in the subsequent [14 June] 1946 Cork [Borough] by-election [in which O’Riordan obtained more votes than Tom Barry, see http://electionsireland.org – NM]’.[20] The Coolacrease killings were the subject of a controversial 2007 RTE documentary involving Eoghan Harris. For a critique, see, Philip O’Connor, Paddy Heaney, Pat Muldowney, Coolacrease: the True Story of the Pearson Executions, an Incident in the Irish War of Independence, Aubane, 2008. See also Niall Meehan and also (separately) Philip O’Connor and Pat Muldowney’s response in Dublin Review of Books, No. 11, Autumn 2009, to a review by Tom Wall in issue No. 9, available at www.drb.ie.[21] John Borgonovo, ‘The Guerrilla Infrastructure: IRA Special Services in the Cork No. 1 Brigade, 1917-1921,’ The Irish Sword, XXVII, No. 108, pp. 215-16. Borgonovo’s sources are, n. 53, RIC Daily Reports, 8 – 14 April 1921. This is not an obscure source.[22] Hart, 1998, op cit, p. 311. One reason ‘tramps’ sometimes received attention from the IRA was that the British army were in the habit of sending soldiers out disguised as tramps. See Florence O’Donoghue, No other law, Irish Press, 1954, p. 119.[23] See note 10.[24] Murphy, notes that this story ‘has been described in detail elsewhere’. It is the O’Donoghue’s own story, in John Borgonovo, ed, Florence and Josephine O’Donoghue’s War of independence, a destiny that shapes our ends (IAP, 2006). Unsurprisingly, the O’Donoghue’s memories of these years do not correspond with Gerard Murphy’s views.[25] The episode is also mentioned in Borgonovo, ed, 2006, p. 174, 188-9, n. 47, which publishes the letters series.[26] A logical place to pursue the matter would be in Boulogne itself, but there is no evidence that Murphy thought of or did this.[27] In Borgonovo, ed, 2006, p. 170, 171[28] G.B. Kenna, op cit., p. 22, citing Protestant expelled worker, James Baird, in the Dublin Evening Telegraph, 11 November 1920, who gives this figure.[29] Jasper Ungoed-Thomas, Jasper Wolfe of Skibbereen, Collins Press, 2008, pp. 143-4, 220-1; Jasper Ungoed-Thomas, ‘IRA Sectarianism in Skibbereen?’ Skibbereen and District Historical Society Journal, Vol. 6, 2010. p. 97.[30] The incident climaxed Peter Hart’s conclusion (op. cit.) that the IRA was sectarian toward Protestants. For a counter view, see Meda Ryan, ‘‘The Dunmanway find’ of Informers’ Dossier’, in Tom Barry, IRA Freedom Fighter, Mercier, 2005, pp. 209-229.[31] Irish Times, 2 June 1922. The same page reports 200 refugees from unionist sectarianism in Belfast being transferred to the Marlborough Hall, Dublin.[32] Borgonovo, 2007, op cit, p. 1.[33] Ibid, passim.[34] See Kevin Myers, op. cit.; and, prior to the book’s publication, Andrew Bushe, ‘Have secret files solved 85-yr-old murder mystery?’, Sunday Mirror, 1 July 2007.[35] John Borgonovo, ‘The Guerrilla Infrastructure: IRA Special Services in the Cork No. 1 Brigade, 1917-1921,’ The Irish Sword, XXVII, No. 108, pp. 211-13[36] See interview with Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson, Irish Times, 17 June 2006.[37] A useful exploration is contained in four articles in Church & State, No. 86, Autumn 2006: Eamon Dyas, ‘The Crown Campaign Against Protestant Neutrality in Cork During the Irish War of Independence’; Editorial, ‘Ireland in 1921: Dr. Fitzpatrick Puts Mr. Bury’s Foot in It’; Joe Keenan, Dennis Kennedy, ‘Protestant Refugees: Semantics or Accuracy?’; Sean McGouran, ‘Robin Bury’s Faulty Witness’. It is available at, http://free-magazines.atholbooks.org/c&s/cs86.pdf. See also http://free-magazines.atholbooks.org/c&s/cs90.pdf for Manus O’Riordan, ‘Tom Barry and Sectarian Degradation’, Church and State, No. 90, Autumn 2007. The issue is also discussed by Niall Meehan, ‘Frank Gallagher and land agitation – a response to Tom Wall’s ‘Getting Them Out, Southern Loyalists in the War of Independence’’ (DRB, Issue 9 Spring 2009)’, Dublin Review of Books, Issue 11, Autumn 2009; ‘Top People, review of The Irish Establishment 1879-1914, by Fergus Campbell’, Dublin Review of Books, Issue 14, Summer 2010 – available at www.drb.ie and at, http://gcd.academia.edu/NiallMeehan/Papers.

1916 Rising Dublin- Sherwood Foresters

We are grateful to John McGuiggan for the following article. If anyone would like to e mail John his e mail is at the end of the page.

In some forgotten corner of a foreign field

For a dead English soldier it really doesn’t matter whether the foreign field in which you finally rest is in Flanders or in Dublin. At least it shouldn’t. But scattered across Dublin cemeteries lie the forgotten remains of the young men of the Sherwood Foresters Regiment who were slaughtered on Dublin’s Streets during the 1916 Easter Rising. Their story, like their scruffy and neglected graves, remains largely forgotten in the long and embarrassed history of the English in Ireland.

They were volunteers, recruited from the towns and villages of Nottinghamshire. From Newark and Bingham from Huthwaite and Hucknall, Robin Hood county, the English folk hero from which the regiment took it’s name. They had responded to Kitchener’s posters, to fight in the trenches of Belgium and France, but had been caught instead in a smaller cause and had been pulled out of basic training at Watford to be thrown into street fighting against the Irish Rebels in Dublin

They were so raw. Most had less than three months of military service. They were unfamiliar with their weapons and many of them had not yet had live firing practice. Young men with guns and little training are as much of a danger to themselves as they are to anyone else. On Dublin’s dockside their officers issued live ammunition but ensured that as the men charged their weapons they were pointing their rifles safely out to sea – just in case of accidents amongst such unskilled soldiers.

The officers, all volunteers from English public schools, breakfasted at St. George’s harbourside Yacht club while the men opened tins of bully beef and biscuits. Some of the men thought they had landed in France. They were excited, keen, anxious and apprehensive.

In the paneled rooms of the Yacht club the officers were briefed on the outbreak of Rebellion and given their orders. They were to divide their forces. Two of the battalions, Derbyshire men, would march round the city and enter from the west, making their way to Kilmainham hospital, now the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and thence to Dublin castle.  They were to be heavily engaged in the rebellion but would suffer light causalities. Their most notable presence became known through the use of Guinness Company boilers mounted on the rear of lorries and deployed around the city centre as makeshift armoured cars.

The other two battalions, the Nottinghamshire men, faced a much graver fate. They were to march straight though the heart of Dublin. Many of the raw young Robin Hoods would never make it. They would never see Belgium or France and never see again the forests of their native Sherwood.

They marched towards their destiny armed only with lee-Enfield rifles and bayonets. There was not a hand grenade between them. At Watford they had left with Lewis machine guns, two to each battalion. A fearsome, drum fed weapon, capable of firing .303 calibre bullets at a rate of up to 600 rounds per minute. But at Liverpool a zealous and bureaucratic loading officer insisted they leave the Lewis guns behind. It was to be a costly error.

The Rebels towards which they now advanced were under the command of Eamon de Valera, the future Taoiseach and President of Ireland.  He and his men had been training for this moment for years. They were on home ground, better trained and more experienced than the oncoming Sherwood Foresters, well armed and superbly positioned in buildings heavily reinforced with sandbags and makeshift barricades. Their task was to hold the Mount Street Canal Bridge and prevent troops entering the city centre to reinforce those already fighting around the General Post Office. They had to stop the oncoming Sherwood Foresters.

At Clanwilliam house, directly opposite the Mount Street bridge, De. Valera deployed some six men armed with a mix of Lee-Enfield’s, German mausers and Italian Martini rifles. The house was a large gracious three story Georgian end terrace, with long elegant windows which gave commanding views over the approaches to the Mount Street bridge. More men were deployed in a school on the south corner of the bridge. And on the approach road to the bridge, at No. 25 Northumberland Road, behind barricaded and looped firing positions were deployed the experienced rebel volunteers Lt. Grace and Lt. Malone. They were to inflict the first and the heaviest of the Sherwood’s casualties and the house, which still stands , bears a commemorative plaque to their efforts. In all some seventeen rebels held the chosen strongpoint’s around the Mount St. Bridge.

The Mount Street canal bridge area is one of the most opulent of Dublin’s suburbs. Graced by large substantial houses. It is in the most sought after residential quarter of the city. But only for the rich for the houses are splendid and today you would pay several million euros for a semi-detached house of the kind in which Grace and Malone now awaited the raw unskilled soldiers of the Sherwood Foresters.

They marched in the fine sunlight of a Dublin Spring. From Kingstown, where they landed (now known as Dun Laoghaire) though the wide tree lined streets towards the Canal bridge.

The Battalion adjutant Capt. Dietrichsen, a Nottingham barrister, was surprised and delighted to find his wife and children amongst those waving and welcoming the marching troops. She was an Irish girl, Beatrice Mitchell, from the noted Dublin wine merchants;  she had left their home Nottingham, in fear of German Zeppelin raids, for the safety of her parent’s family home in Blackrock, Dublin. They embraced and hugged in the pure joy of the surprise.

Some harassing fire was directed at them as they neared the vicinity of the bridge but it was not of any great or determined effect.  It was largely an enjoyable march, for the residents welcomed them and pressed tea and sandwiches upon the soldiers and offered gifts, including maps and field glasses. The battalion scouts riding ahead on bicycles were given detailed intelligence as to the Rebel positions towards which they now approached. Not all the intelligence was accurate.

Captain Dietrichsen was amongst the first of the Robin Hoods to die.  Less than an hour after embracing his family in Blackrock,  just 200 yards from the canal bridge, he, with the advance guard of the battalion, came under withering sustained fire from the rebels in 25 Northumberland Road. Ten Sherwood Foresters fell , amongst them Captain Dietrichsen and his colleague Lt. Hawken. The soldiers fell back into the opposite side of the road not yet knowing from where the shots had come.

They deployed along Northumberland Road in the spring sunshine, returning fire when they could. But street fighting with rifles is an ineffective response to a well positioned urban enemy behind good and organised cover. What you need to get them out is light artillery, or tanks. The Lewis guns, left behind in Liverpool, would have kept the rebel heads down and reduced the now rapidly escalating casualties, but without a heavier and bettor weaponed response then it was always going to be wasteful slaughter. So it was to prove. Whatever these young raw Robin Hoods lacked in military experience and skills, they lacked nothing in bravery.  Number 25 was identified as the source of their comrades sudden death and the remaining officers drew swords and led the men in a ferocious bayonet charge across the road and towards the rebel’s house.

As they charged towards Number  25 they were caught in a merciless crossfire as the rebels in Clanwilliam house now opened fire. Terrible casualties were inflicted and soldiers fell all across Northumberland Road.   From No. 25, Grace and Malone were firing point blank into the desperate ranks of the Robin Hoods, Grace emptying his Mauser pistol in an orgy of violence in the quiet and gracious suburb.

Northumberland Road was wet with English Blood.

The British infantry had been trained to advance towards enemy lines on the sound of a whistle. It was the only tactic they knew. Now, every twenty minutes, on the sound of a British Army issue whistle, the Robin Hoods again charged their enemy. They charged No. 25 Northumberland Road. They charged the school at the corner of the bridge. They charged the bridge. They charged Clanwilliam House. They charged and charged, and were slaughtered. They were refused permission to flank the rebels with an attack from the right. Only frontal attacks were to be allowed. The attacks were to be pressed home “at all costs”. Frontal charges onto the guns of the rebels.

By late in the day, when the Dublin Military Garrison provided them with a Lewis gun and with hand grenades, they had already lost some 230 men in dead and wounded. They lay all over the quiet suburb, along the grassy canal banks, by the bridge, around the school, the parochial hall, and across the steps of the grand houses.

It was the hand bombs and the machine guns that turned the battle. No 25 was finally overwhelmed with bombs, and one of the rebels shot, the other escaping. The school was taken but no rebels found, only the dead caretaker and his equally dead wife, the bridge was crossed, Clanwilliam house was bombed and burned and here, in the words of the regiments historian, at least three rebels met their death at the hands of the Robin Hoods, the other rebels getting clean away.

From the perspective of the rebels this had been a magnificent victory. So many English dead at the hands of so few rebels. It was the Rorke’s Drift of the Rebellion. Seventeen men had held off two battalions of the British Army.

For the British it was a disaster. Within a twenty minute march of the bridge there were half a dozen other bridges that could have been crossed with little difficulty and which would have delayed the soldiers by no more than half an hour. Instead they had engaged in a full-scale struggle with untrained troops against an well-entrenched and highly motivated enemy. It was the classic example of how not to fight a street battle. Perhaps the first important lesson for the British Military in street fighting tactics.

For the raw dead teenage soldiers it was a tragedy. They must have known when they volunteered for the Great War, that death was a possibility, they knew that they might die in Belgium or in France. But Dublin. Death in Dublin would never have entered their minds.

Had they died in Flanders they would at least have merited a well-kept grave with a noble military headstone. They would be visited, and honoured on Remembrance Day.   Capt. Dietrichsen, perhaps because his family were in Dublin, got a private marked grave, but unlike those of his comrades who lie in the military cemeteries of Belgium and France, his Dublin corner of a foreign field lies scruffy, neglected and forgotten, his name worn to nothing by the passage of time.

Some of the dead soldiers’ lie in decent graves well kept and tendered with proper care and respect by Irish cemetery staff. Military graves, listed in the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, it is the way that military dead should be treated. Others lie in sad untidy plots, scattered around Dublin cemeteries, neglected by age, forgotten by history. One or two of the dead have no graves at all and appear to have been dumped in a mass grave, along with civilian and rebel dead, at Dublin’s Deans Grange graveyard

Perhaps the military performance of the Robin Hoods was considered so poor that they were not and are not recalled with the same degree of honour that we remember the dead from Flanders or the dead from World War II.  That cannot be, for these raw young soldiers were as brave as lions. Their slaughter was not of their own making and any military deficiency in the Mount Street bridge battle came from the poor leadership and direction given by the Generals of the British High Command in Ireland, not from the performance or bravery of the Sherwood Foresters, men or officers.

These were young volunteers, as noble as any soldiers who ever died in military service. This November, this Remembrance Day, think of them when you wear your poppy.

They deserve nothing less.

(c)John McGuiggan wig@fourcourts.net

The Auxiliary Division Royal Irish Constabulary

By Admin :

Recently we have had requests for more information on the RIC/Black and Tans /Auxillaries. So, to get a different perspective please see the article below.

By Author Ernest McCall

The Auxiliary Division

Royal Irish Constabulary –

The first anti-terrorist unit in the world

The Auxiliary Division Royal Irish Constabulary (ADRIC) came into being on 23/7/1920 (the date of the first recruit).  Their remit was to face a rough and dangerous task – fighting the IRA.  The Auxiliary Division was formed into 21 Companies based on British Army formations, however, the rank structure was that of the Royal Irish Constabulary and they wore RIC rank insignia.  The men of the ADRIC were classed as Temporary Cadets (equivalent to Sergeant) as the RIC had an officer cadet system.   Within the ADRIC was another Division called the Veterans & Drivers Division who specialised in driving and security duties and they were classed as Temporary Constables and not Temporary Cadets.  Inside an eighteen day period during July / August 1920, 15 Auxiliary Companies were formed and distributed around the troubled spots.  The RIC Special Reserve (the Black & Tans), were classed as Temporary Constables and are often confused with the ADRIC although they were two distinct units within the RIC.   The ADRIC were sent to the Marital Law Areas of Ireland concentrating on Cork, Limerick and Dublin.  Each Company had approximately 100 officers and men.  They were highly mobile and they had a selection of vehicles including two Rolls Royce armoured cars.  The Auxiliaries were overwhelmingly former officers of the British Army who were demobilised after the Great War.  Nevertheless, there were former officers from British Empire regiments i.e. Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians, South Africans and some Americans who had served in British regiments during the Great War.

Republican propaganda at the time claimed they were “the dregs and scum from English gaols and pubs”, which is nowhere the truth.  In fact, approximately 10% of the ADRIC held bravery awards from Victoria Cross to Mentioned in Dispatches.  During the existence of the ADRIC, some gained bravery awards for actions whilst in Ireland.  The Auxiliaries soon gained a reputation of being ferocious fighters and the IRA put a bounty of £50 on each Auxiliary head.  The ADRIC were involved in the “Bloody Sunday” shooting at Croke Park and a week later the IRA got its revenge at Kilmichael, County Cork by ambushing and killing 16 Cadets and one Veteran Driver, which resulted in the greatest loss of life for the RIC during the War of Independence.  The ADRIC learnt from the Kilmichael ambush and the IRA never had a similar success against the ADRIC for the remaining period of the war.   In Dublin as a result of the Croke Park shooting and Crown Forces activity the IRA did not organise an attack on the ADRIC until April 1921, some six months later.  In May 1921 during the Customs House attack, the last major IRA attack of the war, Auxiliaries from “F” & “Q” Companies along with some military captured approximately 100 IRA men with weapons and killed five of them during the exchange of gunfire.  The failed Customs House attack had a major influence on the IRA’s future strategy.  In the other Martial Law areas the Auxiliaries acted independently and achieved many successes as well as the occasional setback.  Within 50 weeks of the ADRIC being formed the IRA was signing the Truce.  Their effect on the IRA was such that the Republicans ensured that the Auxiliary Division were included in the Anglo-Irish Treaty.  They (the IRA) requested that no more Auxiliary Police were to be recruited except for maintaining drafts.  There is no doubt that the ADRIC had a major influence on the War of Independence and had it not been for the Truce, they along with the Army would have put down the rebellion, but 10 Downing Street settled for the Truce.  The Auxiliary Division was disbanded by January 1922.  Some commentators claim that the Auxiliaries were the first anti-terrorist unit in the world.

Copies of the book can be purchased by sending a sterling cheque made out to E McCall to the value of £27.85 (inclusive of postage within the UK, outside the UK the book & postage is £30.60, book & airmail is £35.60 and these prices are subject to change) to “Tudor’s Toughs”, PO Box 262, Newtownards BT23 9DP, County Down,

Northern Ireland, UK.

If you wish a presentation or order the book on Tudor’s Toughs please me contact re fees etc at mccall.ernest@gmail.com

COMMENTS BY THOSE WHO HAVE BOUGHT

“THE AUXILIARIES –

TUDOR’S TOUGHS”

AMERICAN BUYER, “I cannot say enough about it.   Not only was it everything I had hoped for and more, but it is such a beautifully finished book.  Befitting of what is a labour of love.  Well done, Sir!  It is already one of my favoured possessions.  I am going to cool my heels for a while tomorrow, and your book will be with me”.

IRISH REPUBLIC BUYER, “I would be very interested in buying your book which I am told is an invaluable source”.

NORTHERN IRELAND HISTORIAN, “I haven’t put the book down since I got it”.

ULSTER GENEALOGICAL REVIEW JOURNAL, “An excellent and nicely-produced important new publication”.

ENGLISH BUYER, “Received the book this morning, cannot put it down”.

THE RIC FORUM, “This is a very informative reference copy and will add to the body of knowledge about the world’s first mobile counter-insurgency force”.

NORTHERN IRELAND GRAMMAR SCHOOL HISTORY TEACHER, “Congratulations on a very professional and well researched book, I have certainly learnt a lot”.

IRISH MILITARY HISTORIAN, “I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate you on a wonderful piece of research and work; I look forward to your next work”.

CANADIAN HISTORIAN, “You have managed to compile the information in a form that is very readable and not just a collection of cold facts.  It will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in this period of Irish history”.

IRISH HISTORIAN, “It is a wonderful addition to the history of policing in Ireland.  This book deserves an honoured place on the shelf of every Irish historian”.

British I.R.A. Volunteers 1921

British I.R.A. Volunteers 1921  . An article by padraig O Ruairc.

Very often the history of Irish Republicanism is presented in over simplistic black and white terms of Catholic Vs Protestant – English Vs Irish. Any one who has undertaken even the most basic study of Irish history from the 1700’s onwards will know that this supposed sectarian mould of Irish history (set by the British Governments strategy of divide and conquer) was repeatedly broken. We all know, (or at least should all know) that the leadership of the 1798 rebellion was far more about Protestants like Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy Mc Cracken and Lord Edward Fitzgerald than it was about Fr. Murphy of Boolavogue!
Like wise when looking at the Easter Rising – Irish War of Independence and later the Irish Civil War that people frequently broke out of the cultural and religious roles assigned to them. We have heard of ex British Soldiers like Erskine Childers and James Connolly leading the republicans or else Northern Presbyterian Ernest Blythe, Northern Quaker Bulmer Hobson, Northern Protestant Rodger Casement or Anglo Irish Protestant Constance Marcivictz taking up the republican cause.

But these examples British (and more specifically English) men who joined the republican struggle as ordinary I.R.A. Volunteers (not leaders) many of whom gave their lives for Irish Freedom will probably not be so well known to you.

Enjoy and remember this next time someone presents the struggle for independence as a simple black- white, right-wrong, English-Irish, Catholic- Protestant question.

Padraig

Easter Week 1916, Dublin – Abraham Weeks
An English Jew from the East-end of London. Weeks was a militant socialist, trade unionist and member of the International Workers of The World better known by their nickname The Wobblies. Apparently he had come to Dublin to escape conscription to the British Army during WW1 and arrived at Liberty Hall, the H.Q. of The Irish Citizens Army on Monday the 24th of April asking to join the rebels stating That he had conscientious objection to fighting for capitalistic and imperialistic governments, but that he also had a conscientious objevtion to being left out of a fight for liberty. Weeks was nominally appointed as a member of the ICA and was attached to the G.P.O. garrison in O Connell / Sackville St. for the duration of the Easter Week rebellion. He was fatally wounded during the evacuation of the G.P.O. on Friday of Easter week and died the next day. (Not surprising really given that James Connolly to this day is the only Irish politician to have given an election address in Yiddish – See Manus O Riordan Connolly Socialisim and the Jewish Worker, Saothar 13 Printed 1988)
[For more see;- James Connolly, Liberty Hall & The 1916 Rising by Francis Devine and Manus O Riordan]

War of Independence and Civil War, Offaly – Charlie Chidlie
An Englishman who served in the British Army and was stationed in Crinkle Military Barracks, Birr Co. Offaly during the War of Independence where he was employed as military driver who chauffeured British Army Staff officers. Chidley deserted to join the I.R.A. and was able to give them valuable intelligence information. He remained with the I.R.A. through the remainder of the War of Independence, and took the republican side during the Civil War. He was captured by the Free State Army in Autumn of 1922 and interned.
[For more read; Coolacrease by Paddy Heney]

War of Independence, Cork – Peter Monahan.
A British Army soldier from Scotland Monohan was stationed in Cobh with the Cameron Highlanders. Just before Christmas of 1920 Monohan troubled by the actions of the British Forces in Ireland deserted from his regiment taking with him Tommy Clarke who was apparently less interested in the rights and wrongs of the military situation in Ireland and was just fed up of Army life. They made their way through Ringaskiddy abd headed west – apparently they got dioriented along the way and after wandering about cold and hungry for a few days they wound up in Kilmacsimon Quay a very small village between Bandon and Kinsale. Their presence had already been noticed by the local I.R.A. Volunteers when tho two deserters called at the family home of Liam Deasy (who was an adjutant in the I.R.A.’s west Cork Brigade) asking his mother for food and cigarettes -which she gave them.
Monahan and Clarke were then arrested by the I.R.A. who suspected them of being British spies and were intent on executiong them when Monahan revealed his republican sympathies and the fact that he had worked as a mining engineer in Scotland and had a good knowledge of commercial explosives. This proably saved their lives as the West Cork Brigades efforts at making landmines for use in ambushes and barrack attacks up to this point had all been successfull. Monohan joined the I.R.A. and made mines that were used in attacks on R.I.C. Barracks at Kilbrittan, Drimoleague and Inishannon.
On one occasion when Monohan was leading a small group of I.R.A. volunteers down a country road they met a local farmer driving a pony and trap. He struck up a conversation with Monahan and un hearing his Scottish accent assumed that the armed men with him were R.I.C. Auxialiaries ( believe it or not it was a common enough mistake to make to confuse the Auxies and I.R.A. during the war as neither side was properly uniformed, civilian trench coats and british equipment were used by both sides.) The farmer asked Monahan ;Is it safe for me to be talking to you sir? When Monahan replied that it was the man told them the whereabouts of an I.R.A. dugout he had stumbled across and continued ;Im not like the rest of them round here at all. The Very Reverend Mr. Lord is my man and I give him the information. You fellows should come round at night and ill show you round. Having unwittingly blown his cover and exposed himself as a spy the man was taken prisoner and executed that night.
Monahan was killed by British fire during the Crossbary Ambush of March 1921
[For more read Protestant Nationalists in Revolutionary Ireland by Leon O Broin or Republican Cobh and the East Cork Volunteers Since 1913 by Kieran Mc Carthy

War of Independence and Civil War, Kerry – Reginald Hathaway Stennings
Alias Walter Stephens, a 23 year old Englishman, a native of London, with an address of 39 King Edward Street, Slough, Bucks, England. He came to Tralee some time during the War of Independence as a member of the East Lancashire regiment of the British Army. During this time he deserted the British joined the I.R.A. and became very friendly with local republican leaders Edward Greaney and Aero Lyons. He remained a member of the I.R.A. after the truce and when the Civil war broke out he joined the Free State Army. However he quickly disappeared from barracks absconded with a rifle and a hundred rounds of ammunition in order to rejoin and rearm the I.R.A.! He was captured during the surrender of Pierses Flying Column and signed a form undertaking not to take up arms against the Free State under the alias of Walter Stephens.
He was taken prisoner along with James Mc Enry and Edward Greaney on the 18th of April 1923 at Clashmelcon caves and received severe physical abuse from his Free State Captors after his surrender.
He was executed by the Free State Army at 8 o clock on Wednesday the 25th of April 1923. He is buried in the republican plot at Rahela Graveyard Ballyduff, Co. Kerry.
For more read Tragedies of Kerry by Dorothy Mc Ardle of The Civil War in Kerry by Tom Doyle

War of Independence and Civil War, Cork – Ian MacKenzie Kennedy
Ian Graeme Baun MacKenzie-Kennedy or Scottie as he was inevitably nicknamed. Scottish Protestant – a well known figure in Ballingeary and in Irish-speaking circles during the War of Independence. MacKenzie Kennedy was born in 1899 and is believed to have hailed from Inverness-shire in the Scottish Highlands. He came from a distinguished family that was steeped in the military tradition. His father was a major and his uncle had been a major general in the British army. His brother was killed in action in France, and his mother keen for her son to avoid the same fate, took him to live in Ireland about 1916. The youthful MacKenzie Kennedy was a tall strapping young man in kilts was proficient in Scots Gaelic, and subsequently studied Irish.
Scottie and his mother initally lived in Killarney with the Honourable Albina Broberick, whose brother was the earl of Middleton. Albina gaelicised her name to Gobnait ni Bruadair and was an unrepentant republican. Later Scottie arrived in Ballyvourney looking for a place to stay in order to learn Irish and further his interest in Celtic studies. Creedons of Ballyvourney advised him to go to the famous Toureen Dubh in Ballingeary where he stayed for the next three years. The house belonged to the Twomey family and had a reputation for being full of laughter and boundless hospitality.
Despite his background Scottie was warmly accepted by the people of Ballingeary as a true Gael among Gaels, and soon the tiny valley among the hills thrilled to the skirl of his pipes. He is still remembered for his sunny, happy nature. A friend Geraldine Neeson, Cork City musician and journalist, gives the following description of him:
“He was a most attractive person whom we all liked very much. An extrovert with a consuming curiosity about people and their motivations. He had a sharp, frequently-used wit and a clear, infectious laugh, and was excellent company.”

Scottie seemed to love Ireland from the first and before long joined the Ballingeary based D Company, 8th Battalion of Cork No.1 Brigade of the I.R.A. His comrades best remembered him for the amusement he caused on so many occasions. His notion for a stovepipe cannon wound tightly with steel wire, to demolish barracks-doors with, might or might not have succeeded. Nobody wished to test it. The experemental sail he affixed to his bicycle was quite effective but a good deal more fun. His comrade Padraig Greene recounted the gunpowder episode.
“Scottie made a quantity of gunpowder and was preparing to test it – an operation in which he asked for my assistance. He had prepared the ‘boxing’, i.e. the cast iron tapering cylinder which goes into the nave of the wheel by plugging one end of it. With a measured amount of powder he wanted to estimate how far it would throw a 26 ounce steel bowl.
“He had all preparations made to do the test, but luckily for me, I was given another job that took me away from the house. Scottie took the ‘cannon’, poured in the powder, placed the bowl on top of it and then tamped plenty of paper on top of the bowl. He made one great mistake – he forgot to put paper on top of the powder before he inserted the bowl.
“When he started the tamping, metal struck metal creating a spark, and the whole thing blew up in his hands. His hands were black from grains of powder and the lintel over the window was cracked and so was the sill. Everyone in the house was in a state of shock when I returned.
“The following day, the Bean A’ Tigh told Scottie to remove the gunpowder into the ashes around the fire causing an explosion which covered the kitchen with ashes and cinders causing further uproar. Few people, other than Scottie would have been allowed to remain on in the house after these episodes. “Scottie’s only complaint was that part of his moustache was burned on one side.”

John M. Regan – The District Inspector of the R.I.C. based in Bantry in 1918-1920 recalled meeting Scottie in his memoirs on an occasion when his car had broken dowm in the vicinity of a local I.R.A. leaders home. With them came a man in a Scotch Kilt whom I recognised at once as a Scotsman of acultured type who had come to Ireland for one reason or other and ended up joining the I.R.A. He had been taken prisoner at Glandore and of course was also released. Just when were about to start he came to me and said, ‘D� yo�ave a revolver of mine. I tried to appear composed as I agreed and for something to say remarked that I had no ammunition to fit it. Upon which he informed me that if I gave it back to him he would get stuff to fit it all right. We left, apparently, the best of friends.

There is one other story about how he went to Killarney quite openly during the early days of the War Independence but before it had reached its real intensity. The town was full of British military and one day two swaggering officers armed fully absed him in the street and made some sneering remark about his cowardice in not not;joining up. Scottie reached out and grabbed one in either hand, banged their heads together, and threw them dazed up the street.

The writer Sean O’Faolain who was a comrade of Scottie’s, recollects him in his autobiography Vive Moi! from when he stayed in Dick Twomey’s of Tureen Dubh. “I slept there (in a hay barn) many a night beside a magnificent tall Scot, named Ian Bawn MacKenzie Kennedy, who had come over to Ireland to fight for the Irish Republic.”
Scottie was respected by his IRA comrades as was shown early in 1921 when he was entrusted with the arms fund totalling £85 and went to England at great personal risk to buy guns – he returned on March 24th with eleven new Webley 45 revolves hidden in a crate.

An underground foundry was constructed at Carrigbawn, to manufacture hand grenades and bombs.Local volunteers scoured the countryside for scrap metal, old pig troughs and plough shares. A year earlier Scottie had provided a “74/14/12” recipe for gunpowder to the officers. Scottie played the Flowers of the Forest on the bagpipes at Donall ‘ac Taidhg McSweeney’s funeral, at the old man’s dying request. He visited his mother at regular intervals in the Castle Hotel in Killarney, but she failed to persuade him to return to Scotland. Eventualy Scottie converted to Catholicism, having been influenced by the religious atmosphere of West Cork. No doubt his father a major in the British army was not pleased about his sons conversion to both Irish Republicanism and Catholicism and requested that if the British Forces in Cork captured his son he asked to be allowed to command the firing squad that executed him!

Throughout the Truce period and after the signing of the treaty Scottie remained a member of the I.R.A. and opposed the Treaty and cycled from Twomey’s house in West Cork to Cork city to oppose the advancing Free State Army. It was not long before Scottiee was to enter the fray. The following is based on an article that appeared Poblacht Na h-Eireann Scottish Edition) dated 21 October 1922. During the fighting in Rochestown, as the covering party of the IRA was evacuating to their second position near Douglas village, their lorry broke down at Belmont Cross. Three Volunteers jumped from the lorry and took up position in Belmont Cottage nearby to enable the rest of the party to get away under the protection of an armoured car. These were Scottie, Frank O’Donoghue and Moloney.
One party of Free State soldiers who charged the cottage was forced to retire leaving one of their number by the name of Flood, a Dublin man, dying on the road. Frank O’Donoghue rushed from the cottage to Flood’s aid, whispered an act of contrition into his ear, and the unfortunate Flood died grasping O’Donoghue’s hand. The republicans took one prisoner.
The cottage was later surrounded, and the three brave republican soldiers kept up an unequal fight against 64 Free State troops, killing 12, and wounding 15 according to the report. Only when the last bullet was fired did the battle cease. When further resistance was impossible, and having delayed the enemy until the republicans had taken up their position, the little party decided to surrender.
MacKenzie Kennedy opened the door and put up his hands in token surrender, but was shot dead as was Moloney. O’Donoghue was captured and taken prisoner.
Ian MacKenzie Kennedy was only 23 when he was killed on the 7th of August 1922. He was buried on the 12th of August in the republican plot in St. Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork City alongside other soldiers of the Republic. There is a small plaque to his memory in Ballingeary and he is commemorated on the republican monument in Macroom.

Most of the research is my own except for information on Charlie Chidlie supplied by Philip Mac Comway and the piece on Scottie Mc Kenzie Kennedy which was taken from an article in the Irish Democrat newspaper by Stephen Coyle that I added to and edited after.

Does anyone else here know of any English or British men who served in the I.R.A. 1913-1923?

History of the Irish Volunteers

The Irish Volunteers

Irish (National) Volunteers, a militia founded 25 November 1913 at the Rotunda in Dublin They were founded as a direct response to the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force , founded 1912 )) , the UVF opposed Home Rule for Ireland and wished to maintain the union with Britain. To ensure that Home Rule would be resisted they were prepared to fight , hence the foundation in 1913 of the militant UVF.

. The Irish Volunteers was a military organisation established in 1913 by Irish nationalists. It was ostensibly formed in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers in 1912, and its declared primary aim was “to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland.” The Volunteers included members of the Gaelic League , Ancient Order of Hibernians , and Sinn Féin , and, secretly, the IRB. The Volunteers fought for Irish independence in 1916’s Easter Rising, and were joined by the Irish Citizen Army ,Cumann na mBan and Fianna Éireann to form the Irish Republican Army .

Background

Home Rule for Ireland dominated political debate between the two countries since Prime Minister  William Ewart Gladstone  introduced the first Home Rule Bill in 1886, which was rejected by the House of Commons. The second Home Rule Bill, seven years later having passed the House of Commons, was vetoed by the House of Lords. It would be the third Home Rule Bill, introduced in 1912, which would lead to the crisis in Ireland between the majority Nationalist population and the Unionists in Ulster.

On 28 September 1912 at Belfast City Hall almost 250,000 Unionists signed the Solemn League and Covenant to resist the granting of Home Rule. This was followed in January 1913 with the formation of the Ulster Volunteers composed of adult male Unionists to oppose the passage and implementation of the bill by force of arms if necessary.

Initiative

The initiative for a series of meetings leading up to the public inauguration of the Volunteers came from the Irish Republican Brotherhood(IRB). Bulmer Hobson, co-founder of the republican boy-scouts, Fianna Éireann, and member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, believed the IRB should use the formation of the Ulster Volunteers as an “excuse to try to persuade the public to form an Irish volunteer force”. The IRB could not move in the direction of a Volunteer force themselves, as action by known physical force men would be stopped, despite the precedent established by the Ulster Volunteers. They therefore confined themselves to encouraging the view that Nationalists also ought to organize a Volunteer Force for the defence of Ireland. A small committee then began to meet regularly in Dublin from July, 1913, who watched the growth of this opinion.They refrained however from any action until the precedent of Ulster should have first been established while waiting for the lead to come from a “constitutional” quarter.[8]

The IRB began the preparations for the open organisation of the Irish Volunteers in January 1913. James Stritch, an IRB member, had the Irish National Foresters build a hall at the back of 41 Parnell Square in Dublin, which was the headquarters of the Wolfe Tone Clubs. Anticipating the formation of the Volunteers they began to learn foot-drill and military movements. The drilling was conducted by Stritch together with members of Fianna Éireann. They began by drilling a small number of IRB associated with the Dublin Gaelic Athletic Association, led by Harry Boland.

Michael Collins along with several other IRB members claim that the formation of the Irish Volunteers was not merely a “knee-jerk reaction” to the Ulster Volunteers, which is often supposed, but was in fact the “old Irish Republican Brotherhood in fuller force.

“The North Began”

The IRB knew they would need a highly regarded figure as a public front that would conceal the reality of their control. The IRB found Eoin MacNeill the ideal candidate, Professor of Early and Medieval History at University College Dublin. McNeill’s academic credentials and reputation for integrity and political moderation had widespread appeal.

The O’Rahilly, assistant editor and circulation manager of the Gaelic League newspaper An Claidheamh Soluis encouraged MacNeill to write an article for the first issue of a new series of articles for the paper. The O’Rahilly suggested to MacNeill that it should be on some wider subject than mere Gaelic pursuits. It was this suggestion which gave rise to the article entitled The North Began, giving the Irish Volunteers its public origins. On 1 November, MacNeill’s article suggesting the formation of an Irish volunteer force was published. MacNeill wrote,

There is nothing to prevent the other twenty-eight counties from calling into existence citizen forces to hold Ireland “for the Empire”. It was precisely with this object that the Volunteers of 1782 were enrolled, and they became the instrument of establishing Irish self-government.

After the article was published, Hobson asked The O’Rahilly to see MacNeill, to suggest to him that a conference should be called in order to make arrangements for publicly starting the new movement. The article “threw down the gauntlet to nationalists to follow the lead given by Ulster unionists.” MacNeill was unaware of the detailed planning which was going on in the background, but was aware of Hobson’s political leanings. He knew the purpose as to why he was chosen, but he was determined not to be a puppet.

Launch

With MacNeill willing to take part, O’Rahilly and Hobson sent out invitations for the first meeting at Wynn’s Hotel in Abbey Street, Dublin, on November 11. Hobson himself did not attend this meeting, believing his standing as an “extreme nationalist” might prove problematical.The IRB, however, was well represented by, among others, Sean MacDermott and Eamonn Ceannt, who would prove to be substantially more extreme than Hobson. Several others meetings were soon to follow, as prominent nationalists planned the formation of the Volunteers, under the leadership of MacNeill.] Meanwhile, labour leaders in Dublin began calling for the establishment of a citizens’ defence force in the aftermath of the lock out of 19 August 1913. Thus formed the Irish Citizen Army, led by James Connolly, which, though it had similar aims, had no connection with the Irish Volunteers.

The Volunteer organisation was publicly launched on 25 November, with their first public meeting and enrollment rally at the Rotunda in Dublin. The IRB organised this meeting to which all parties were invited, and brought 5000 enlistment blanks for distribution and handed out in books of one hundred each to each ot the stewards. Every one of the stewards and officials wore on their lapel a small silken bow the center of which was white, while on one side was green and on the other side orange and had long been recognized as the colors which the Irish Republican Brotherhood had adopted as the Irish national banner.The hall was filled to its 4,000 person capacity, with a further 3,000 spilling onto the grounds outside. Speakers at the rally included MacNeill, Patrick Pearse, and Michael Davitt, son of the Land League founder of the same name. Over the course of the following months the movement spread throughout the country, with thousands more joining every week.

Organization and leadership

The names of those who were members of the governing Committee of the Volunteers from November 1913 to October 1914, exclusive of Redmond’s 25 nominees who only functioned between mid-June to mid-September 1914 were:

  • Honourable Secretaries: Eoin Mac Néill (Gaelic League (GL)), Laurence J. Kettle (Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), Ancient Order of Hibernians(AOH));
  • Honourable Treasurers: The O’Rahilly (GL, Sinn Féin (SF)), John Gore (AOH, IPP);
  • Members: Piaras Béaslaí (Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB)), Sir Roger Casement (GL), Eamonn Ceannt (IRB, GL, SF), John Fitzgibbon (GL, SF), Liam Gogan, Bulmer Hobson(IRB, Fianna Éireann (FÉ)), Michael J. Judge (AOH), Thomas Kettle (IPP, AOH), James Lenehan (AOH), Michael Lonergan (IRB, Fianna Éireann (FÉ)), Peter (Peadar) Macken (IRB, Labour leader, SF, GL), Seán Mac Diarmada (IRB,Irish Freedom), Thomas MacDonagh(IRB), Liam Mellows (IRB), Col. Maurice Moore (IPP, GL, Connaught Rangers), Séamus O’Connor (IRB), Colm O’Loughlin (IRB, St. Enda’s School (SES)), Peter O’Reilly (Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH)), Robert Page (IRB, Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)), Patrick Pearse(IRB, GL, SES), Joseph M. Plunkett(IRB, Irish Review), John Walsh (AOH), Peter White (Celtic Literary Society);
  • Fianna Éireann representatives: Con Colbert(IRB), Eamon Martin (IRB), Patrick O’Riain (IRB).

When the thirty member Provisional Committee was finalized, the addition of several new IRB members brought their total within the Committee to twelve. The IRB then specifically brought Liam Mellows to Dublin to strengthen the Fianna representation and they were eventually to recruit Pearse, Plunkett and MacDonagh, and thus hold over half the strength of the Committee[ This brought the IRB representation to 16 with the rest of the committee being represented by both Redmondites and Sinn Feiners, among others

The manifesto of the Volunteers, approved at the 25 November meeting, stated the organisation’s objectives were “to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland.” To train, arm, equip and discipline themselves for the above purpose while uniting Irishmen of every creed, party and class. Though the “rights and liberties” were never defined, nor the means by which they would be obtained, the IRB in the Fenian tradition construed the term to mean the maintenance of the rights of Ireland to national independence and to secure that right in arms.

The manifesto further stated that their duties were to be defensive, contemplating neither “aggression or domination”. MacNeill offered his opinion in the article The North Began that the Tory policy in Ulster, was deliberately adopted to make the display of military force with the threat of armed violence the decisive factor in relations between Ireland and Great Britain. If Irishmen accepted this new policy he said they would be surrendering their rights as men and citizens. If they did not attempt to defeat this policy “we become politically the most degraded population in Europe and no longer worthy of the name of Nation …” In this situation he said guarding our own rights is our first duty. They have rights who dare maintain them, but rights in the last resort, could only be maintained by arms.

MacNeill himself would approve of armed resistance only if the British launched a campaign of repression against Irish nationalist movements, or if they attempted to impose conscription on Ireland following the outbreak of the First world war such a case he believed that they would have mass support

The IRB was unable to gain complete control of the organisation, especially after the leader of the irish parliamentary party ,John Redmond, demanded that the Volunteers accept his own personal appointments to its Provisional Committee, which would effectively place the organisation under his control. While the moderates did not like the idea, they were prepared to go along with it in order to prevent Redmond from forming a rival organisation, which would draw away most of their support. The IRB was completely opposed to Redmond’s demands, as this would end any chance they had of controlling the Volunteers, but were unable to prevent the motion from being carried in Redmond’s favour.

Arming the Volunteers

Shortly after the formation of the Volunteers, the British Parliament banned the importation of weapons into Ireland. The “Curragh incident” in March 1914 indicated that the government could not rely on its army to ensure a smooth transition to Home Rule.] Then in April 1914 the Ulster Volunteers successfully imported 24,000 rifles in the Larne Gun Running event. The Irish Volunteers realised that it too would have to follow suit if they were to be taken as a serious force. Indeed, many contemporary observers commented on the irony of “loyal” Ulstermen arming themselves and threatening to defy the British government by force. Patrick Pearse famously replied that “the Orangeman with a gun is not as laughable as the nationalist without one.” Thus O’Rahilly, Sir Roger Casement  and Bulmer Hobson worked together to coordinate a daylight gun-running expedition to Howth , just north of Dublin.

The plan worked, and Erskine Childers brought nearly 1,000 rifles, purchased from Germany, to the harbour on the 26 July and distributed them to the waiting Volunteers, without interference from the authorities. The remainder of the guns smuggled from Germany for the Irish Volunteers were landed at Kilcoole a week later by Sir Thomas Myles.

As the Volunteers marched from Howth back to Dublin, however, they were met by a large patrol of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the British Army . The Volunteers escaped largely unscathed, but when the army returned to Dublin they clashed with a group of unarmed civilians who had been heckling them at Bachelors Walk. Though no order was given, the soldiers fired on the civilians, killing four and the wounding of a further 37. This enraged the populace, and during the outcry enlistments in the Volunteers soared.

THE SPLIT

The outbreak of world war in August 1914 provoked a serious split in the organisation. Redmond, in the interest of ensuring the enactment of the Home Rule Act 1914 then on the statute books, encouraged the Volunteers to support the British and Allied war commitment and join irish Regiments of the British New Army divisions, an action unsuccessfully opposed by the founding members. Given the wide expectation that the war was going to be a short one, the majority however supported the war effort and the call to restore the “freedom of small nations” on the European continent. They left to form the National volunteers, which fought in the 10.th and  16.th Irish Division, side-by-side with their volunteer counterparts from the 36 th Ulster Division. Unlike the latter, the 16th Division had no trained military Irish officers of its own, and were commanded by British officers, with the exception of Irish General William Hickie. The National Volunteers ceased to exist after the Armistice in 1918 when their battalions were disbanded in 1922 under the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

A minority believed that the principles used to justify the Allied war cause were best applied in restoring the freedom to one small country in particular. They retained the name “Irish Volunteers”, were led by MacNeill and called for Irish neutrality. The National Volunteers kept some 175,000 members, leaving the Irish Volunteers with an estimated 13,500. This split proved advantageous to the IRB, which was now back in a position to control the organisation.

Following the split, the remnants of the Irish Volunteers were often, and erroneously, referred to as the “Sinn Féin Volunteers”, or “Shinners”, afterArthur Griffith’s political organisation Sinn Féin. The term began as a derogatory one, but soon became ubiquitous in Ireland. Although the two organisations had some overlapping membership, there was no official connection between Griffith’s then moderate Sinn Féin and the Volunteers. The political stance of the remaining Volunteers was not always popular, and a 1,000-strong march led by Pearse through the garrison city of Limerick on Whit sunday, 1915, was pelted with rubbish by a hostile crowd. Pearse explained the reason for the establishment of the new force when he said in May 1915:

What if conscription be enforced on Ireland? What if a Unionist or a Coalition British Ministry repudiates the Home Rule Act?
What if it be determined to dismember Ireland? The future is big with these and other possibilities.

After the departure of Redmond and his followers, the Volunteers adopted a constitution, which had been drawn up by the earlier provisional committee, and was ratified by a convention of 160 delegates on 25 October 1914. It called for general council of fifty members to meet monthly, as well as an executive of the president and eight elected members. In December a headquarters staff was appointed, consisting of Eoin MacNeill as chief of staff, The O’ Rahilly as director of arms,Thomas Ma Donagh as director of training, Patrick Pearse as director of military organization, Bulmer Hobson as quartermaster, and Joseph Plunkett as director of military operations. The following year they were joined by Eammonn Ceannt as director of communications and J.J. O’Connell as chief of inspection.

This reorganization put the IRB is a stronger position, as four important military positions (director of training, director of military organization, director of military operations, and director of communications) were held by men who were, or would soon be, members of the IRB, and who later become four of the seven signatories of the Easter Proclamation. (Hobson was also an IRB member, but had a falling out with the leadership after he supported Redmond’s appointees to the provisional council, and hence played little role in the IRB thereafter.)

THE 1916 RISING

The official stance of the Irish Volunteers was that action would only be taken were the British authorities at  Dublin Castleto attempt to disarm the Volunteers, arrest their leaders, or introduce conscription to Ireland. The IRB, however, was determined to use the Volunteers for offensive action while Britain was tied up in the First World War. Their plan was to circumvent MacNeill’s command, instigating a Rising, and to get MacNeill on board once the rising was a fait accompli.

Pearse issued orders for three days of parades and manoeuvres, a thinly disguised order for a general insurrection. MacNeill soon discovered the real intent behind the orders and attempted to stop all actions by the Volunteers. He succeeded only in putting the Rising off for a day, and limiting it to about 1,000 active participants within Dublin and a further 2,000-3,000 elsewhere. Almost all of the fighting was confined to Dublin. The Irish Citizen army supplied slightly more than 200 personnel for the Dublin campaign.

The Rising was a failure in the short term, and large numbers of Irish Volunteers were arrested, even some who did not participate in the Rising. In 1919 the Irish Volunteers became the Irish republican army, swearing its obedience to the First Dail during the course of August 1920.

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.

I.R.A. Rineen Ambush 22 September 1920

MANY THANKS TO PADRAIG O ‘ RUAIRC FOR CONTRIBUTING THE RINEEN AMBUSH ARTICLE.

PADRAIG IS A WELL KNOWN AUTHOR ON THE IRISH WAR OF INDEPENDENCE PERIOD AND WE RECOMMEND  HIS TWO BOOKS,  “BLOOD ON THE BANNER”  AND  ” THE  BATTLE FOR LIMERICK CITY”.

In the early autumn of 1920 Anthony Malone and the other officers of the 4th Battalion had been ordered by the Brigade council of the Mid Clare Brigade I.R.A. to prepare an ambush for British motor patrols in the Milltown Malbay and Ennistymon areas. I.R.A. intelligence reported that a patrol of regular R.I.C. men and Black and Tans travelled in a Crossly Tender lorry from Ennistymon to Milltown Malbay at half past ten each Wednesday morning.   The Brigade Council decided to attack the R.I.C. and Black and Tans the next Wednesday the 22nd of September.

The countryside along the R.I.C.‘s weekly route was examined an ambush site was selected at Rineen about two miles from Milltown Malbay on the Ennistymon road. The site was a low cliff where the West Clare Railway rose sharply above the road commanding a good view of Lahinch and the surrounding coastline to the West. A curve in the road would force vehicles travelling from Ennistymon to Milltown to slowdown as they reached the ambush site.

The ambush at Rineen was to be the first major attack on the British forces in the area and the officers of the Mid Clare Brigade decided to use a large force of I.R.A. Volunteers from eight companies in the 4th Battalion area to take part in the attack.  The morning of the attack each of these I.R.A. companies were to supply seven Volunteers to form the attacking party or to act as scouts and messengers. On the 21st of September John Joe Neylon was detailed to select seven men from the Ennistymon Company of the I.R.A. to take part in the ambush: “On the night previous to the attack, I paraded the Ennistymon Company and called for Volunteers to take part in it without disclosing any details of what was about to come off. Nearly every man present and there was a parade of about seventy strong the same night – volunteered. I had to select only seven and that was a difficult job indeed. When I had made my selection I instructed these men to report to Lehanes at Lahinch that night and went off myself on a bike to see Ignatious O Neill with whom I had some other business to discuss.”

Ignatius O Neill  was still recovering from the wounds he had received at the Crowe’s Bridge ambush and was staying at safe house at Lisdoonvarna. The officers of the Mid Clare Brigade had decided  not to include O Neill in the attack because he was still recovering from his wounds and had kept all information regarding the planned attack at Rineen from him. When John Joe Neylon met him that night, O Neill had heard of the preparations for the attack and was furious: “O Neill met me with a violent reception. He was raging mad because he had heard from some source that we had decided to bring off the ambush without asking him taking part. He described the battalion officers as ‘a shower of bastards’, and accused me of being a ‘double crosser’. In order to placate him I said ‘All right the ambush is coming off and you’ll have to take charge.’ Although he did not want to be in charge I Insisted that he should and outlined to him what our plans were and told him of the arrangements which had been made. As far as I remember he made no change in them. We arrived in Lahinch about three or four o clock in the morning. And there found between sixty and sixty five men assembled. All the companies had supplied the seven men they were asked to do and, in addition, there were the officers of the battalion staff.”

At four o clock in the morning O Neill and Neylon led the I.R.A. Volunteers towards Carrig at Ballyvaskin where the Moy company of the I.R.A. scouted the route to Rineen while the members of the attacking party followed on foot. Thomas Mc Donough drove a number of  I.R.A. Volunteers from Ennistymon to meet the main I.R.A. force at the final assembly point about a mile from the ambush site at Rinneen.  By six that morning fifty members of the I.R.A. had assembled for the ambush. O Neill posted sentries guarding the roads to Milltown Malbay and Lahinch while the main force of the I.R.A. settled down for a brief rest along the boreen leading from the railway line down to the roadway. O Neill and Neylon reviewed the ground with the different company captains and discussed the advantages and possible problems posed by their chosen position. Both the R.I.C. and British Army had a habit of suddenly changing the formation and strength of their transport patrols, if the strength of the R.I.C.‘s patrol was increased to more than one lorry, the attacking formation would have to be changed quickly. A number of signallers were posted along the hilltops near Rinneen and Thomas Moroney was placed in charge of the scouts posted on the roads leading to the ambush site; whose job was to watch for the approach of the R.I.C. patrol and to give advanced warning of a change its strength or the arrival of British re-enforcements. As daylight approached O Neill assembled the remaining forty I.R.A. Volunteers and with the help of John Joe Neylon and Patrick Lehane divided them into three different attacking parties. O Neill repeatedly explained to them in detail the plan of the operation until he was satisfied that each individual I.R.A. volunteer and section leader knew what their task was.

To the north and west of the I.R.A.’s position at Rineen, open ground and fields swept towards the sea. To the south and east of the railway line small fields gave way to open bog land leading towards Milltown Malbay. Ignatius O Neill made an inspection of the I.R.A.’s arms and rejected a number of old shotguns.  The remaining arms included the six Lee Enfield rifles, three Carbine rifles, a large number of shotguns a few revolvers.   Anthony Malone and Patrick Kerins were given rifles ordered to take up  position in the behind a low fence twenty yards directly to the north of the road,  two other riflemen Stephen Gallagher and Sean Bourke were stationed about two hundred yards further west towards Milltown Malbay. These four had orders to prevent the R.I.C. and Black and Tans leaving from the lorry and taking cover in the fields, or from attempting to retreat towards the sea and back to Lahinch.

O Neill gave the remaining rifles to John Joe Neylon, David Kennelly, Dan Lehane and Michael O Dwyer. Peter Vaughan an experienced ex-American soldier who had served on the Western front during the First World War was equipped with two hand grenades. These five men were to form the main attacking force and were stationed at the north western end of a small by-road which connected to the Lahinch road. The main body of I.R.A. volunteers were stationed about fifty yards further up this by-road  where it crossed the railway line. This group commanded a good view of the ambush site being were in a raised position about forty feet above the level of the road at a distance of thirty yards. They were mostly armed with shotguns and were to act as a secondary attacking force with orders to cover the position of O Neill’s group. A number of large furze bushes had been cut to provide camouflage for the these men. At O Neill’s command, a single rifle shot from John Joe Neylon was to be the signal to open the attack.  The riflemen in the first attacking group had orders to shoot the driver of the lorry to prevent it breaking out of the ambush position. Peter Vaughan was to throw his two grenades into the back of the R.I.C. lorry. If the I.R.A. came into difficulties they were to fall back to the railway line crossing the hill at Rineen  and use it as a secondary line of defence while they retreated. It was now past seven o clock and the republicans settled down to a long wait before the expected arrival of the R.I.C. patrol.

That morning eleven miles from Rineen, the 2nd Battallion of the I.R.A.’s West Clare Brigade were also waiting in ambush. Captain Alan Lendrum an ex-British Army officer from Tyrone had been appointed Acting Resident Magistrate at Kilkee by the British authorities. Captain Lendrum occasionally travelled to and from court in an R.I.C. Crossly Tender with a number of Black and Tans for security, but more often he travelled alone in his ford car. The 4th battalion of the West Clare Brigade watched his movements for several weeks, and decided to hold up Lendrum at gunpoint and commandeer his car.  On the morning the 22nd of September while the I.R.A. lay in ambush at Rineen another group of I.R.A. Volunteers waited for Captain Lendrum at a level railway crossing at Caherfeenick two miles north of Doonbeg. As Lendrum drove towards the level crossing the gates were closed by  two I.R.A. Volunteers and he was ordered at gunpoint to surrender his car.  Captain Lendrum drew his automatic pistol but was shot dead before he had a chance to fire.  This action was to have serious consequences for the I.R.A. ambushers at Rineen later that morning.

Thomas Mc Donough had just arrived back at Ennistymon after driving some I.R.A. Volunteers from the town to the ambush site at Rineen, and reported for work at Roughan’s Garage when he saw the patrol of R.I.C. and Black and Tans preparing to travel to Milltown Malbay: “I was standing at the garage door and watched a lorry of police move off from the barracks across the road. It was driven by a Black and Tan named Hardiman  and manned by I think six R.I.C. men including Seargent Hynes and constables Kelly, Harte and Hodnett all of whom I knew well.” As the Crossly tender roared out of Ennistymon towards Milltown Malbay a young I.R.A. Volunteer watched the R.I.C. and Black and Tans disappear in a cloud of dust from his work at Roughans shop and was overheard saying to himself, ‘They are going now but, will they ever come back?’

After eleven o clock the I.R.A. ambushers hidden at Rineen heard the sound of  a train coming from the south and hid from view behind ditches until the train had passed. As the I.R.A. Volunteers scrambled back into position, the scouts watching the road from Lahinch signalled the approach of the R.I.C. John Joe Neylon could hear the sounds of the R.I.C patrol approaching when the I.R.A.’s scouts reached him and O Neill  with reports that the enemy force was much larger than expected: “About noon, word was received from the scouts that the three lorries were coming from the Ennistymon side. O Neill had a quick consultation with myself and a few of the officers beside him. He had expected only one lorry and the plans had been made accordingly. His force was mainly composed of raw material and the ground did not lend itself to quick deployment. In the circumstances he decided, in view of the scouts message, to withhold fire. When only one lorry passed he realised a mistake had been made by one of the scouts.”  The message ‘Police lorry coming.’ had been misinterpreted by one of the I.R.A.’s scouts as ‘Three lorries coming.’ The result was that the R.I.C.’s Crossly Tender was allowed to pass through the ambush without a shot being fired.

Realising the mistake, O Neill dispatched Jack Clune, an I.R.A. Volunteer from Inagh, to cycle to Milltown Malbay and report on the activities of the R.I.C. patrol and to report back immediately if it appeared that the R.I.C. and Black and Tans had seen the I.R.A. Volunteers waiting in ambush and were calling for re-enforcements. O Neill moved the riflemen in the first attacking party into a more suitable position to attack the Crossley tender on its return from Milltown Malbay and made a few other changes to the I.R.A.’s other positions while he waited for Clune to return with news about the R.I.C. patrol. Clune returned from Milltown Malbay two hours later and reported that the R.I.C. patrol had not detected the ambush and their lorry was parked outside the R.I.C. barracks in the town facing the direction of Rineen. Clune’s information was confirmed when of the republican scouts signalled the return of the police lorry and the I.R.A heard the sound of the R.I.C. crossly tender approaching. A few minutes later the Crossley Tender re-appeared. It passed about ten yards beyond the laneway to O Gorman’s house on the northern side of the road when O Neill gave the order to Neylon to fire the opening shot. Peter Vaughan stood up and threw his first grenade at the police lorry, his second grenade missed and landed on the northern edge of the roadway  exploding harmlessly. Already the I.R.A. Volunteers in the first and second attacking parties had opened fire blasting the R.I.C. and Black and Tans in the back of the vehicle with rifle and shotgun fire.

Within seconds of John Joe Neylon firing the opening shot the attack had ended: “immediately all the party opened up. The attack was over in a matter of seconds. There was no reply from the lorry and our fellows rushed towards it to find five dead police men lying inside. One of the police managed to get off the lorry and had gone about three hundred yards towards Milltown when he was seen and shot by Donal Lehane of Lahinch in a field near O Connors house” A short distance away on the northern side of the road Anthony Malone had joined the first attacking section in taking aim at the driver: “The pre arranged signal shot was fired. There was an immediate volley from the different positions. I fired three or four  rounds at the men sitting in the cab and next I saw the driver slump over the wheel as blood pumped from a wound in his neck. He seemed to be staring directly at Kerins and myself. The men on the other side of the road poured several rounds into the tender and, in a matter of minutes the attack was over.”  As soon as the firing stopped O Neill gave the order to cease fire and search the vehicles. The I.R.A. searched the Crossly Tender and recovered a six Lee Enfield and  Carbine rifles, six .45 Webbly and Scott revolvers, a number of Mill’s bomb hand grenades and almost three thousand rounds of .303 ammunition. After the weapons and ammunition were recovered the lorry was set on fire. Patrick Kerin rushed onto the roadside with Anthony Malone and began to search the bodies of the dead R.I.C. men and Black and Tans for intelligence papers and official documents: “When the firing stopped Malone and myself rushed over to the tender. I searched one of the dead men and, from correspondence which he had received from lady admirers in London, I learned that his name was Reggie Hardman, obviously a Black and Tan.” Reginald Hardman was the first Black and Tan killed in Clare, he was twenty one years old and came from East Finchley in London. He had served in the Royal Artillery Regiment before joining the R.I.C. The other five members of the patrol were all regular R.I.C. men; Constable Michael Harte from Sligo, Constable John Hodnett from Cork, Constable Michael Kelly from Roscommon and Constable John Mc Guire from Mayo. Sergeant Michael Hynes from Roscommon was fatally wounded in the ambush and died two days later.

While the Crossly Tender and the bodies of the dead R.I. C. men were being searched,  I.R.A. Volunteers sat on the roadside smoking and talking until Dan Kennelly, who had served in both the British Army and R.I.C., urged the men to get back up the hillside to safety quickly. The I.R.A. shared out quantities of the captured .303 ammunition and began moving back up towards the railway line crossing the hill. Seamus Hennessy heard the sound of lorries approaching from Lahinch and shouted to Stephen Gallagher, who had gone to collect the rifle and ammunition from the dead R.I.C. man who had tried to escape from the ambush, to hurry back towards the hill. Next Hennessey shouted a warning to a group of I.R.A. Volunteers who had halted below the first hill and indicated in the direction of the noise. A few minutes later a British Army lorry came around the bend in the road below the railway. The driver stopped when he saw the blazing R.I.C. Crossly Tender and the soldiers jumped out and rushed up the hillside towards the railway line. Moments later a second British lorry halted a short distance behind the first and more British soldiers poured out to pursue the I.R.A.

Ten lorries of British soldiers had left Ennistymon to search for Captain Lendrum who had been killed by the West Clare Brigade of the I.R.A. at Caherfeenick near Doonbeg earlier that morning. Captain Lendrum’s wife regularly phoned the military and R.I.C whenever he was due to make a journey and when he failed to arrive at Ennistymon the British military had set out to look for him. As they approached Rineen they heard the distant gunfire from the ambush and saw the smoke rising from the burning crossly tender and members of the I.R.A. crossing the hillside. When the British soldiers appeared in view advancing toward the I.R.A. the republican scouts let out a warning cry of ‘Military!’ and O Neill gave the orders to retreat across the railway line back towards Ballyvaskin. A small group, including Ned Lynch, Michael O Keefe and the Bourke brothers, who had been separated from the main force of the I.R.A. and made off towards the sea shore in the opposite direction without being noticed by the British soldiers.

As the British soldiers closed ground on the main force of the I.R.A. scrambling over the hilltop O Neill and John Joe Neylon stood their ground along the railway line to cover the others escape: “Those who  had already been making their way towards the top of the hill, as well as the party who were starting to do so all came under heavy fire, rifle and machine gun from the newly arrived troops. … As the big majority of our men had only shotguns, they were of no use in meeting the British forces who, in a short time had reached the hilltop a quarter of a mile or so east of the scene of the ambush. There was only one course open to us and that was to use the riflemen to fight a rearguard action while the others with the shotguns were making their way to cover and safety on the Ballyvaskin side. Unfortunately only a few of the riflemen were available for this purpose. They included O Neill himself, Michael Dwyer, Patrick Lehane and myself. The other men with rifles had gone off in different ways and it was not possible to collect them. The four of us took up positions in a field adjacent to Honan’s house and engaged the military who were using a machine gun behind a stone wall at the corner of a field about three hundred yards almost due east.” Their opening volley felled the leading British soldier advancing towards them, and his comrades took cover in the heather. The four riflemen spread out and commenced rapid fire returning the captured British .303 ammunition to its previous owners at a generous rate. This gave the British soldiers the impression that they were facing a much larger group of riflemen. Seamus Hennesy was headed towards a gap in a bank when Patrick Vaughan shouted a warning to them ‘Don’t go out that gap, for they’re like to set the gun on it. Roll over the bank when I shout.’ When Vaughan gave the word the shotgun men tumbled over the bank while the British soldiers on the hill raked the gap of the bank and its edges with machine gun fire.

While O Neill and Neylon’s group began firing on the British soldiers in an effort to halt their advance Patrick Kerin and the other I.R.A. Volunteers continued their retreat towards Ballyvaskin across open  ground: “We went in extended formation and had gone a hundred yards or so when we came under heavy machine gun fire from the north-east. The military had reached the top of Dromin hill and placed a machine gun in position four hundred yards away from us. Our party at this stage were in the middle of a ten acre field through which ran a stream in the direction of Ballyvaskin. Pat Frawley and myself made for the stream. On the way I was stunned by a bullet which passed between my ear and head.  Recovering after a few seconds, I got into a shallow drain where I remained for ten minutes or so, and then dashed twenty or thirty yards further on to a cock of hay. There I found Pat Mc Gough, O/C of the Inagh Company. With him I got as far as a low stone wall. The firing was still fierce and was coming mostly from a machine gunner. Here we began to time the machine gun burst and reckoned that a pan was being changed. We dashed across another fifty or sixty yards of open ground behind another stone fence where we met two more of our crowd, Dave Kenelly and John Crawford. Kenelly who had a rifle was in an exhausted state and enquired if any of us were in a condition to return the fire. Crawford had a carbine which he captured from the tender, but the ‘cut off’ had jammed. This I put right by forcing it with my teeth, and we both opened fire. I exhausted all the ammunition I had, a total of fifty two rounds. Our fire enabled the men in our vicinity to retreat in more safety and, when my ammunition was finished, we went after them.”

On the side of Dromin Hill, John Joe Neylon’s group were coming under increasing pressure as the rest of the I.R.A. Volunteers reached Ballyvaskin. They had concentrated their rifle fire on the machine gun grew and thought they had wounded one of them because the fire halted for a short period but longer than a normal stoppage. When the machine gun resumed firing a second volley  from the four riflemen silenced it again, Neylon and his comrades used this opportunity to retreat. As they scrambled town the hillside the British soldiers fire was so close to them that Neylon had his leg grazed by a bullet which passed through the leg of his trousers: “O Neill was wounded in the thigh early at this stage of the fighting and as we retreated he had to be removed. This was done by Michael Dwyer who carried him on his back. Gradually we made our way towards Ballyvaskin taking advantage of whatever bit of cover was available … ultimately the whole party got into the Ballyvaskin country and dispersed”
With the British soldiers in hot pursuit the republicans had no time for an ordered retreat and broke up into a number of smaller groups which would be harder for the British forces to pursue. Local farm labourers who had been making trams of hay near the edge of the bog when the running battle started helped carry the two wounded I.R.A. Volunteers to safety and sent for doctors to Milltown and Lahinch. The wounded were then placed on stretchers and carried across country to Moy. Patrick Kerin and Michael Curtain expected British forces to arrive in the area at any time and hid their rifles and the papers they had taken from the R.I.C. men’s bodies in a stone wall near Molohan’s house. It was now after four o clock and the British military had sent for reinforcements as soon as they had arrived at the ambush site at Rineen two hours earlier. O Neill and Curtin were the only I.R.A. members were wounded in the withdrawal though neither was wounded seriously. However the British forces suffered much heavier losses, in addition to the six dead members of the R.I.C. a  number of British soldiers had been wounded including a Royal Army Service Corps driver.

General Tudor

Many thanks to Gerard Burrows for the following article and pics,,its a very interesting collection of photos  and information relating to General Tudor.

I read with interest your references to Tudors Toughs ie the Tan, Auxies etc. As you know Tudor was the only man ever to hold the title Chief of Police in Irish Police history. I own the complete uniform of Major Gen Tudor which can be seen on some photos of the period and also archived News reels of him and Gen French inspecting Auxies in Dublin. My Grandfather was head constable in the RIC (22 yrs) and was based in Killorglin at the time of the Castlemaine Ambush which Dan Keating took part in. My mother relatedthe story of this ambush many a time when I was young, she told us that her father was told by the mother of one of the ambushers that this ambush was to take place. My grandfather had pleaded with the DI not to send the men to Tralee to collect their wages that day but he was over ruled by the DI with the result that 8 were killed my mother said there was as many as 11 killed as she was in the station when the bodies were brought back,she also said that my grandfather had to draw his gun to prevent other police going on reprisals. Later my grandfather was sent to West Cork until the truce in 1922. He survived one other ambush at Dunmanway,thanks to his house keeper telling him her son was leading a band of men to kill him. After the Truce he went to England with his family under an assumed name but later returned to live in Belfast on the Falls Road where his youngest son joined the IRA under old Wish Fox. Later my grandfather exiled him to England and he didnt return home until his father died. My grandfather was from Tralee,a catholic and an Irish speaker, just thought you might be interested in this wee story.
Slan go Foil
Gerry

Hi Garry no problem at all publishing the story of my grand father Micheal Blake and I will send you photos of my Gen Tudor collection which includes items of his full dress uniform from the Boer War period, also I have his uniforms from his command in Palestine and I found correspondance from Churchill regarding members of the Police Force in Ireland to be offered posts in Palestine. I have a copy of a letter from Gen Tudor to Churchill in which he refers to the Black and Tans doing a great job there. I have spent about 4 yrs now researching documents and writing to various people in Newfoundland who knew General Tudor including a doctor who was with him when he died. One lady in particular whose father was a friend of Tudor when she was a young girl , this lady by the way is English speaks Irish and is a reknowned Harp player and is in her 80,s !!! she send me a photo of a privately produced book by Gen Tudor entitled “The Fog of War” signed “To Carla with love Hugh” also she sent me a picture of his brass knuckle duster!!!! this item he always carried while meeting the boats coming in with their catches as most of the crews were Irish. A friend of mine has Gen Tudors palm pistol which he keeps promising to let me have!!! nothing as yet, it is residing in Florida at the minute. Tudor is difficult to write about as according to Carla Emerson he was declared Persona Non Grata by the establishment in Britain, she speaks of the Scotsman been involved, Ramsey Mc Donald??although his foreign secretary who led the Labour Party commission to Ireland at the time may have caused his departure, I have checked letters and diaries of these people and found that the Diary of the Foreign secretery  had all its pages removed from 1920-25, rather interesting??Anyway to finish my book on Gen Tudor I need to know who sent him to Newfoundland and why there?? as it has a big Irish community, infact Gen Tudors House Keeper/nurse was Irish Monica Mc Carthy whose family were from Cork. So from Britains best General to fish salesman and according to Micheal Collins himself during a conversation with Captain William Darling who was one of Tudors Officers in Dublin Castle after Collins had a car accident and was offered a lift to Dublin by Darling who was unaware of who he was helping out until Collins personally introduced himself enroute to Dublin where the pair ended up drinking in the Vaughan Hotel, Collins referred to Tudor as one of Britains best Generals sent to fight him and his men, he also mentioned that the IRA always knew when they encountered Auxies as they tended to put out a good fight!!! his words. This man Darling is the great uncle of Alister Darling the ex British Labour minister. During my searches through British records I found on marked “secret” along with many others!!! but this was one was very interesting as it mentioned a Royal Navy ship was on its way to Ireland with a supply of Gas Grenades for  the “Free State Army” for use against the anti treaty forces, apparently they suddenly discovered that they had signed a treaty prohibiting the use of gas and they were to be disposed of in Dublin Bay!!!! wonderful what you find when you are researching things. Anyway I will send you some pics of the collection and sorry about the spelling I always get timed out when I go to check it.!!!!

Slan go Foil
Gerry                                                                     GENERAL TUDORS UNIFORM

GERRY WITH THE UNIFORM

1916 Rising, 1916-1966 Rising Survivors Medal

Here we have a nice example of the Irish 1916 Rising Survivors medal, nicely stamped. This is from Jerry McCarthy’s collection. Thanks for the pics, Jerry.

1916 Rising survivors medal obverse
1916 Rising survivors medal detail 1916 Rising survivors medal detail

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.