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

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

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

Regards,
Gerard

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

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

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

Document and Scrapbook collection here :

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

By Admin:

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

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