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BLOODY SUNDAY” Dublin ,November 21, 1920

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Collins justified the killings in this way:

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

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

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

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

Rosalie Popick

Diarmuid & Patrick McCarthy CORK IRA VOLUNTEERS

CORK IRA Volunteer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks.

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

Information Required on IRA members etc

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

Joe Mathews

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

Martin Corry (Irish politician)

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

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

MARTIN CORRYS FARM TODAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOK REVIEW – “THE MUNSTER REPUBLIC:THE

CIVIL WAR IN NORTH CORK” BY MICHAEL

HARRINGTON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the constitutional situation brought about by the Treaty:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brendan Clifford

Irish Volunteer Commemorative Organisation Memorabilia on Display

This post comes courtesy of the Irish Volunteers commemorative organisation,

http://irishvolunteers.org/

Hello all,

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

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

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

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

Thomas Kent

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

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

Weapons Of The IRA 3.rd West Cork Brigade

A contributor has recently sent us some photos of weapons used by the Irish Republican Army , third West Cork Brigade, we thank you very much.  The pistol is a Webley and Scott Ltd London & Birmingham, 6.3 mm automatic pistol.

The machine gun is a Lewis ,marked Animes Automatiques Lewis Belgium and Bimingham co Ltd proof marks.

Many weapons used by the IRA  in west Cork were captured from Crown forces and it can be well assumed that these weapons were captured at some of the famous ambushes in that area. I have no further details so please dont ask as these were sent in by sender unknown.

IRA weapons:

Lee Enfields , mausers , webleys, lewis and vickers were all used, along with a multitude of shot guns , mills bombs(grenades) , and numerous different types of pistols/revolvers. Some British Writers would have you believe they used hatchets too, no comment.

We believe they are a great addition to the site and would only ask that more reader would send in photos , documents or any other information.

IRA Pistol

third West Cork Brigade Pistol

IRA pistol Webley & Scot

IRA Lewis Machine Gun

Irish republican Army MG

Irish republican Army MG

close up Irish republican Army MG LEWIS

close up Irish republican Army MG LEWIS

close up Irish republican Army MG LEWIS

mechanism close up Irish republican Army MG LEWIS

mechanism close up Irish republican Army MG LEWIS

IRA LEWIS GUN 2

IRA LEWIS GUN

IRA LEWIS GUN

We hope you enjoy the great photos and please send us your own photos, documents or other information to  info@theirishwar.com

or go to the web site http://theirishwar.com/

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.

Michael F Heslin Longford Brigade Irish Voulunteers, Information required .

Attached is a photo of my grandfather Michael F Heslin (on the left) who was Adjutant/Intelligence Officer of the Longford Brigade in the Irish

IRA longford Brigade

War of Independence. I know nothing about Irish uniforms and hope someone may recognise it. I found a couple of pics on the internet, one saying it was a Volunteers uniform, another saying it was an IRA Officer’s uniform. Someone else told me they thought it was a Free State uniform. I am totally confused and hope someone can help. There appears to be two bands on the hat and three on the sleeves. What might these represent?
Many thanks in advance folks.
Michael J Heslin.

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.

Terence MacSwiney Lord mayor of Cork

Terence Joseph MacSwiney (: Traolach Mac Suibhne) (28 March 1879 – 25 October 1920) was an Irish playwright, author and politician. He was elected as Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Cork , during the Irish War of Independence , in 1920. He was arrested by the British on charges of sedition and imprisoned in Brixton prison in England. His death there in October 1920 after 74 days on hunger strike brought him and the Irish struggle to international attention.

MacSwiney was one of eight children. His father, John MacSwiney, of Cork, had volunteered in 1868 to fight as a papal guard against Garibaldi, had been a schoolteacher in London and later opened a tobacco factory in Cork. Following the failure of this business, he emigrated to Australia in 1885 leaving Terence and the other children in the care of their mother and his eldest daughter.[ MacSwiney’s mother, Mary Wilkinson, was an English Catholic with strong Irish nationalist opinions. He was born in kilmurray, county cork and moved to the Cork city as a child. He was educated by the christian Brothers at the North Monastery school in Cork city, but left at fifteen in order to help support the family. He became an accountancy clerk but continued his studies and matriculated successfully. He continued in full time employment while he studied at the Royal University (now University College Cork), graduating with a degree in Mental and Moral Science in 1907.

In 1901 he helped to found the Celtic Literary Society, and in 1908 he founded the Cork Dramatic Society with Daniel Corkery and wrote a number of plays for them. He was educated as an accountant and also was a playright , poet ,, and writer of pamphlets on Irish history. His first play The Last Warriors of Coole was produced in 1910. His fifth play The Revolutionist (1915) took the political stand made by a single man as its theme.

MacSwiney’s writings in the newspaper Irish freedom brought him to the attention of the Irish republican Brotherhood .He was one of the founders of the Cork Brigade of the Irish Volunteers in 1913, and was President of the Cork branch of Sinn Fein. He founded a newspaper, Fianna Fáil, in 1914, but it was suppressed after only 11 issues. In April 1916, he was intended to be second in command of the Easter Rising in Cork and Kerry, but stood down his forces on the order of Eoin Mac Neill. Following the rising, he was interned under the Defence of the Realm act in Reading and Wakefield Gaols until December 1916. In February 1917 he was deported from Ireland and interned in Shrewsbury and Bromyard internment camps until his release in June 1917. It was during his exile in Bromyard that he married Muriel Murphy of the Cork distillery-owning family. In November 1917, he was arrested in Cork for wearing an IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY(IRA) uniform, and, inspired by the example of Thomas Ashe, went on a hunger strike for 3 days prior to his release.

In the 1918 General Election ,, MacSwiney was returned unopposed to the first Dail Eireann as Sinn Fein representative for Mid Cork, succeeding the Nationalist MP D.D. Sheehan. After the murder of his friend Tomas Mac Curtain ,, the Lord mayor of Cork ,on 20 March 1920, MacSwiney was elected as Lord Mayor. On 12 August 1920, he was arrested in Dublin for possession of seditious articles and documents, and also possession of a cipher key. He was summarily tried by court martial on 16 August, sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in Brixton Prison.



Hunger strike

In prison he immediately started a hunger strike in protest at his internment and the fact that he was tried by a military court. Eleven republican prisoners in Cork Jail went on hunger strike at the same time. On 26 August, the cabinet stated that “the release of the Lord Mayor would have disastrous results in Ireland and would probably lead to a mutiny of both military and police in South of Ireland.” MacSwiney’s hunger strike gained world attention. The British government was threatened with a boycott of British goods by Americans, while four countries in South America appealed to the Pope to intervene. Protests were held in Germany and France as well. An Australian member of Parliament Hugh Mahon, was expelled from the Australian parliament for “seditious and disloyal utterances at a public meeting” after protesting the actions of the British government in the Australian Parliament.

Attempts at force-feeding MacSwiney were undertaken in the final days of his strike. On 20 October 1920, he fell into a coma and died five days later after 74 days on hunger strike. His body lay in Southwark Cathedral in London where 30,000 people filed past it.Fearing large-scale demonstrations in Dublin, the authorities diverted his coffin directly to Cork and his funeral there on 31 October attracted huge crowds. Terence MacSwiney is buried in the Republican plot in Saint Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork. Arthur delivered the graveside oration.

A collection of his writings, entitled Principles of Freedom, was published posthumously in 1921. It was based upon articles MacSwiney contributed to Irish Freedom during 1911–1912. Nehru, in particular, was influenced by MacSwiney’s example and his writings. Principles of Freedom was translated into various Indian languages including Telugu.

The famous Indian revolutionary Bhagat Singh was an admirer of Terence MacSwiney and wrote about him in his memoirs. While in prison during his trial he went on hunger strike to protest the conditions in which Indian revolutionaries were being kept who gave a violent response to the British Raj (unlike Gandhi’s followers who were given fair treatment and good food in prison). Bhagat Singh, in his interview with the Tribune newspaper clearly mentioned MacSwiney as one of his inspirations. When Bhagat Singh’s father petitioned the British government to pardon his son, Bhagat Singh quoted Terence MacSwiney and said “”I am confident that my death will do more to smash the British Empire than my release” and told his father to withdraw the petition. He was executed on March 23, 1931, with two of his comrades, Rajguru and Sukhdev, for killing a British officer. He is also famous for throwing a bomb in the British Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi, India.

His sister Mary Mac Swiney took on his seat in the Dáil and spoke against the Anglo-Irish Treaty in January 1922. His brother Sean Mac Swiney was also elected in the 1921 elections for another Cork constituency. Seán also opposed the Treaty.

In 1945 his only child, Máire MacSwiney, married Ruairi Brugha, son of the anti-treaty cathal Brugha, and later a TD,Member of the European Parliament, and Senator. Máire MacSwiney is the author of a memoir History’s Daughter: A Memoir from the Only Child of Terence MacSwiney (2006).

A collection relating to Terence MacSwiney exists in Cork Public Museum. His portrait, and a painting of his funeral mass, by Sir John Lavery are exhibited in Cork’s Crawford Municipal Art gallery.

There is also a Secondary School named after him in the north side of Cork City, with a room dedicated to his memory.

Below : A picture Of  Terence Mac Swiney on his wedding day wearing his Irish Volunteers uniform.

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

Andy “Dazzler” Mulligan

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

Irish Volunteers Cap Cork connection

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


IRA Dromkeen ambush 1921

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

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

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

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

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

Dromkeen ambush videos

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Irish Volunteer Uniforms

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

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

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

Irish Volunteers

Picture 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Design of Uniform

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

Headdress

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

Putees

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

Buttons and badges

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

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

Irish Volunteers Uniform

Picture 2

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

Irish Volunteers Uniform Cap

Picture 3

The Tunic

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

Irish Volunteers Uniform Tunic and button detail

Picture 4

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

Trousers

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

Boots

Though not shown they were presumably brown or black.

Equipment

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

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

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

Irish Volunteers 4th Battalion Dublin Brigade

Picture 5

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

Uniformed Irish Volunteer advertisement 1915

Picture 6

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

Irish Volunteer Gerald Keogh Easter week 1916

Picture 7

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

Group of Irish Volunteers on parade

Picture 8

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

Dublin member of the Irish Volunteers

Picture 9

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

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

IRA Volunteer Francis Brennan – any info?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Francis Terry Brennan

Letter to Francis Terry Brennan

Letter to Francis Terry Brennan

Obituary of Francis Terry Brennan