Posts

James Gleeson

By Eamon Murphy:

James Gleeson was born in Tipperary in 1890 but moved to Gorey, Co. Wexford after he left school to trade as a saddler and harness maker.
In 1910 he joined the Gorey branch of Sinn Fein (which had been formed in 1907) and he was a very active and prominent member of the organization during this period. The chairman of Sinn Fein at this time was Sean Etchingham who was also a member of the local I.R.B., an organization which James joined in 1911.

James joined the Irish Volunteers at a meeting in the old Gorey town hall on 6th January, 1914. Patrick Pearse and Michael Judge of the ‘Provisional Committee’ of the Volunteers were speakers at this historic event. James was part of a group of sixty men who joined up on that day. James and about twenty other members opted to remain with MacNeill’s Irish Volunteers following the split with Redmond in September of that year. *(The local group of Redmond’s National Volunteers did not last long after the split)
In 1915 James Gleeson was part of the official procession for the funeral of celebrated Fenian leader Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa in Dublin, where he marched with the small but significant Gorey division of the Irish Volunteers.

In the Easter Rising of 1916, Gleeson and five other Gorey Volunteers (Joe Funge, Sean O’Byrne, Sean Etchingham, Eddie MacDonagh and Sean Doyle) cycled to Enniscorthy on the Tuesday of Easter week (April 25th), armed only with a few guns and a handful of ammunition. James and another local man, Joe Funge, were instructed to cycle back to Gorey on the Thursday, to do some scouting and intelligence work on the whereabouts of local police and any advancing soldiers. Between Thursday and Saturday they sent several important dispatches back to headquarters in Enniscorthy.
On the Sunday morning (April 30th) they witnessed two local men, Seamus Doyle from Gorey and Sean Etchingham from Courtown, pass through the town coming from Enniscorthy in a military escort on their way to Dublin to personally receive the surrender order from Patrick Pearse. As James was still in Gorey upon confirmation of the surrender he evaded capture.

James was very active in the reorganization of Sinn Fein in the town in the immediate aftermath of 1916. He joined Fianna Fail in 1927 and remained a prominent local member of the political party for many years. James also served on the Gorey Town Council (Town Commissioners) where he diligently represented the people of Gorey. He worked tirelessly for the people of Gorey through his political work and also through the many charities he was involved in. He remained a saddler and harness maker for many years in no. 8 Lower Esmonde Street, Gorey and today his family still live in the house from where he plied his trade. It is regarded as one of the most historic houses in the ever changing market town and it still has the old style half-door at the front of the house. The Gleeson home is very popular with tourists who visit the town.

James Gleeson lived a long and eventful life and died at the age of 87 in his beloved adopted town of Gorey in 1977 is buried in St. Michaels Cemetery in Gorey.

By Eamon Murphy

Sources:

James Gleeson Witness Statement BMH

Sean O’Byren Witness Statement BMH

Robert Kinsella Witness Statement BMH

Wexford County Council Oral History Podcasts – Kathleen Gleeson http://www.wexford.ie/wex/Departments/Library/OralHistoryPodcasts/GleesonKathleen/

Michael Fitzpatricks’s History of Gorey Volume 6

Interviews with local Gorey people

*Many thanks to Kathleen Gleeson for sending me the photograph of her father

Kevin Barry

Kevin Barry
Kevin Gerard Barry
Born 20 January 1902
8 Fleet Street, Dublin
Died 1 November 1920 (aged 18)
at Mountjoy Jail, Dublin
Nationality Irish
Other names Caoimhín de Barra (Irish)
Occupation Medical Student
Known for Executed IRA volunteer : One of The Forgotten Ten
Kevin Gerard Barry (Irish: Caoimhín de Barra ) (20 January 1902 – 1 November 1920) was the first Irish republican to be executed by the British since the leaders of the Easter Rising.[ Barry was sentenced to death for his part in an IRA operation which resulted in the deaths of three British soldiers.
Barry’s death is considered a watershed moment in the Irish conflict. His execution outraged public opinion in Ireland and throughout the world, because of his youth. The timing of his death was also crucial, in that his hanging came only days after the death on hunger strike of Terence MacSwiney – the republican Lord Mayor of Cork – and brought public opinion to fever-pitch. His treatment and death attracted great international attention and attempts were made by U.S., British, and Vatican officials to secure a reprieve. His execution and MacSwiney’s death precipitated a dramatic escalation in violence as the Irish War of Independence entered its most bloody phase.
Because of his refusal to inform on his comrades while under torture, Kevin Barry was to become one of the most celebrated of republican martyrs.A ballad bearing his name, relating the story of his execution, is popular to this day.
Early life

Kevin Barry was born on 20 January 1902, at 8 Fleet Street Dublin. The son of Thomas and Mary (née Dowling) Barry, he was the fourth of seven children, two boys and five sisters. He was baptised in St. Andrews Church, Westland Row. Thomas Barry Snr. worked on the family farm at Tombeagh, Hacketstown, County Carlow, and ran a dairy business from Fleet Street. Thomas died in 1908 at the age of 56.
His mother came from Drumguin, also in County Carlow, and on the death of her husband, moved the family to Tombeagh. As a child Kevin liked country life, and went to the national school in Rathvilly. On returning to Dublin, he attended St. Mary’s College, Rathmines, until the school closed in the summer of 1916.
When he was thirteen, he attended a commemoration for the Manchester Martyrs. The three men, members of the Fenian Brotherhood, were hanged in England in 1867, and whose cry of “God Save Ireland”, had a strong effect on him. Afterwards he wished to join Constance Markievicz’s Fianna na hEireann, but was dissuaded by his family.
[edit]Belvedere College

From St. Mary’s College he then transferred to Belvedere College, where he was a member of the championship Junior Rugby Cup team, and earned a place on the senior team. In 1918 he became secretary of the school hurling club which had just been formed, and was one of their most enthusiastic players.
Belevedere College, where Kevin Barry attended school. To mark the anniversary of his execution, Belvedere College Museum mounted a special exhibition of Kevin Barry memorabilia.
Father Thomas Counihan, S.J., his science and mathematics teacher, said of him: “He was a dour kind of lad. But once he got down to something he went straight ahead… There was no waving of flags with him, but he was sincere and intense.”
Notwithstanding his many activities, he did not neglect his studies. He won a merit-based scholarship given annually by Dublin Corporation, which allowed him to become a student of medicine at UCD.
[edit]Medical student

He entered University College Dublin in 1919. A fellow student described him then as “open-handed, open-hearted and generous to a fault and first in every manly exercise.”[5] Much like other students, he liked to go dancing and to the theatre, and was popular, making friends easily. His closest friend at college was Gerry MacAleer, from Dungannon, whom he had first met in Belvedere. Other friends included Frank Flood, Tom Kissane and Mick Robinson, who, unknown to many in the college, were, along with Barry, IRA volunteers.
Volunteer activities

In October 1917, during his second year at Belvedere College, aged 15, he joined the IRA.Assigned originally to ‘C’ Company 1st Battalion, based on the north side of Dublin, he later transferred to the newly formed ‘H’ Company, under the command of Capt. Seamus Kavanagh.
Wall plaque marking the site in 1919, where the Active Service Unit of the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army was founded. The building is in Great Denmark Street, Dublin
His first job as a member of the IRA was delivering mobilisation orders around the city. Along with other volunteers he trained in a number of locations in Dublin, including the building at 44 Parnell Square, the present day headquarters of Sinn Féin, now named Kevin Barry Hall. The IRA held Field exercises during this period which were conducted in north county Dublin and in areas such as Finglas.
The following year, at the age of 16, he was introduced by Seán O’Neill and Bob O’Flanagan to the Clarke Luby Club of the IRB, which had been reorganised.
He took part in a number of IRA operations in the years leading up to his capture. He was part of the unit which raided the Shamrock Works for weapons destined to be handed over to the R.I.C. He also took part in the raid on Mark’s of Capel Street, looking for ammunition and explosives. On 1 June 1920, under Vice-Commandant Peadar Clancy, he played a notable part in the seizing of the King’s Inn, capturing the garrison’s arms. The haul included 25 rifles, two light machine guns and large quantities of ammunition. The 25 British soldiers captured during the attack were released as the volunteers withdrew. In recognition of his dedication to duty he was promoted to Section Commander.
Ambush

On the morning of 20 September 1920, Kevin Barry went to Mass, and received Holy Communion; he then joined a party of IRA volunteers on Bolton Street in Dublin. Their orders were to ambush a British army truck as it picked up a delivery of bread from the bakery, and capture their weapons. The ambush was scheduled for 11:00 A.M., which gave him enough time to take part in the operation and return to class in time for an examination he had at 2:00 P.M. The truck arrived late, and was under the command of Sergeant Banks.
Armed with a .38 Mauser Parabellum, Barry and members of C Company were to surround the truck, disarm the soldiers, take the weapons, and escape. He covered the back of the truck, and when challenged, the five soldiers complied with the order to lay down their weapons. A shot was then fired; Terry Golway, author of For the Cause of Liberty, suggests it was possibly a warning shot from an uncovered soldier in the front. Barry and the rest of the ambush party then opened fire. His gun jammed twice, and he dived for cover under the truck. His comrades fled, and he was left behind. He was then spotted, and arrested by the soldiers.
One of the soldiers, Private Harold Washington, had been shot dead. Two others, Private Marshall Whitehead and Thomas Humphries were both badly wounded. Both later died of their wounds.
The British Army released the following statement on Monday afternoon:
This morning a party of one N.C.O. and six men of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment were fired on by a body of civilians outside a bakery in Church Street, Dublin. One soldier was killed and four were wounded. A piquet of the Lancashire Fusiliers in the vicinity, hearing the shots, hurried to their comrades’ assistance, and succeeded in arresting one of the aggressors. No arms or equipment were lost by the soldiers.
Much was made of Barry’s age by the Irish newspapers, but the British military were to point out that the three soldiers who had been killed were “much the same age as Barry.” On 20 October, Major Reginald Ingram Marians OBE, Head of the Press Section of the General Staff, informed Basil Clarke, Head of Publicity, that Washington was “only 19 and that the other soldiers were of similar ages.” General Macready, was well aware of the “propaganda value of the soldier’s ages.” General Macready informed General Sir Henry Wilson on the day that sentence was pronounced “of the three men who were killed by him (Barry) and his friends two were 19 and one 20 — official age so probably they were younger… so if you want propaganda there you are.” It was later reported that one of the infantrymen was as young as 15 years old.
On this period M.A. Doherty was to write:
from the British point of view, therefore, the Anglo-Irish propaganda war was probably unwinable. Nationalist Ireland had decided that men like Kevin Barry fought to free their country, while British soldiers—young or not—sought to withhold that freedom. In these circumstances, to label Barry a murderer was merely to add insult to injury. The contrasting failure of British propaganda is graphically demonstrated by the simple fact that even in British newspapers Private’s Whitehead, Washington and Humphries remained faceless names and numbers, for whom no songs were written.”
Capture and torture

Sinn Féin Headquarters in Dublin is named after Kevin Barry.
Kevin Barry was placed in the back of the lorry with the body of Private Harold Washington, and was subjected to some abuse by Private Washington’s comrades. He was transported then to the North Dublin Union.
On arrival at the barracks he was taken under military police escort to the defaulters’ room where he was searched and handcuffed. A short while later, three sergeants of the Lancashire Fusiliers and two officers began the interrogation. He gave his name and an address of 58 South Circular Road, Dublin (in reality his uncle’s address), and his occupation as a medical student, but refused to answer any other questions. The officers continued to demand the names of all involved in the ambush.
At this time a publicity campaign was mounted by Sinn Féin. Barry received orders on 28 October from his brigade commander, Richard McKee, “to make a sworn affidavit concerning his torture in the North Dublin Union.” Arrangements were made to deliver this through Barry’s sister, Kathy, to Desmond Fitzgerald, director of publicity for Sinn Féin, “with the object of having it published in the World press, and particularly in the English papers, on Saturday 30th October.”
The affidavit, drawn up in Mountjoy Prison days before his execution, describes his treatment when the question of names was repeated:
He tried to persuade me to give the names, and I persisted in refusing. He then sent the sergeant out of the room for a bayonet. When it was brought in the sergeant was ordered by the same officer to point the bayonet at my stomach. . . The sergeant then said that he would run the bayonet into me if I did not tell. . . The same officer then said to me that if I persisted in my attitude he would turn me out to the men in the barrack square, and he supposed I knew what that meant with the men in their present temper. I said nothing. He ordered the sergeants to put me face down on the floor and twist my arm. . . When I lay on the floor, one of the sergeants knelt on my back, the other two placed one foot each on my back and left shoulder, and the man who knelt on me twisted my right arm, holding it by the wrist with one hand, while he held my hair with the other to pull back my head. The arm was twisted from the elbow joint. This continued, to the best of my judgment, for five minutes. It was very painful. . . I still persisted in refusing to answer these questions. . . A civilian came in and repeated the questions, with the same result. He informed me that if I gave all the information I knew I could get off.
On 28 October, the Irish Bulletin, a news-sheet produced by Dáil Éireann’s Department of Publicity,[12] published Barry’s statement alleging torture, which had been organised by Dick McKee, the IRA Commandant of the Dublin Brigade. The headline of the paper read: English Military Government Torture a Prisoner of War and are about to Hang him. The Irish Bulletin claimed that Barry was a prisoner of war, suggesting a conflict of principles was at the heart of the conflict. The English did not recognise a war existed and treated all killings by the IRA as murder; the Irish republicans claimed that they were at war and it was being fought between two opposing nations and therefore demanded prisoner of war status. John Ainsworth has pointed out though that Barry had been captured by the British not as a uniformed soldier but disguised as a civilian and in possession of flat-nosed ammunition in his pistol, in breach of the Hague Convention.[14] Erskine Childers addressed this question of political status in a letter to the press on 29 October, which was published the day after Barry’s execution.
This lad Barry was doing precisely what Englishmen would be doing under the same circumstances and with the same bitter and intolerable provocation — the suppression by military force of their country’s liberty. To hang him for murder is an insulting outrage, and it is more: it is an abuse of power: an unworthy act of vengeance. contrasting ill with the forbearance and humanity invariably shown by the Irish Volunteers towards the prisoners captured by them when they have been successful in encounters similar to this one. These guerrilla combats with soldiers and constables—both classes do the same work with the same weapons; the work of military repression — are typical episodes in Ireland. Murder of individual constables, miscalled ‘police,’ have been comparatively rare. The Government figure is 38, and it will not, to my knowledge, bear examination. I charge against the British Government 80 murders by soldiers and constables: murders of unarmed people, and for the most part wholly innocent people, including old men, women and boys. To hang Barry is to push to its logical extreme the hypocritical pretense that the national movement in Ireland unflinchingly supported by the great mass of the Irish people, is the squalid conspiracy of a ‘murder gang.’ That is false; it is a natural uprising: a collision between two Governments, one resting on consent, the other on force. The Irish are struggling against overwhelming odds to defend their own elected institutions against extinction.
In a letter addressed to ‘the civilised nations of the world,’ by Arthur Griffith — then acting President of the Republic wrote:
Under similar circumstances a body of Irish Volunteers captured on June 1 of the present year a party of 25 English military who were on duty at the King’s Inns, Dublin. Having disarmed the party the Volunteers immediately released their prisoners. This was in strict accordance with the conduct of the Volunteers in all such encounters. Hundreds of members of the armed forces have been from time to time captured by the Volunteers and in no case was any prisoner maltreated even though Volunteers had been killed and wounded in the fighting, as in the case of Cloyne, Co. Cork, when, after a conflict in which one Volunteer was killed and two wounded, the whole of the opposing forces were captured, disarmed, and set at liberty.
John Ainsworth alleges that “Griffith was deliberately using examples relating to IRA engagements with British military forces rather than the police, for he knew that engagements involving the police in particular were usually of an uncivilized nature, characterized by violence and brutality, albeit on both sides by this stage.”
Trial

The War Office ordered that Kevin Barry be tried by court-martial under the ‘Restoration of Order in Ireland Act,’ which had received Royal Assent on 9 August 1920. General Sir Nevil Macready, Commander-in-Chief of British forces in Ireland then nominated a court of nine officers under a Brigadier-General Onslow.

On 20 October, at 10 o’clock, the nine officers of the court — ranging in rank from Brigadier to Lieutenant — took their places at an elevated table. At 10.25, Kevin Barry was brought into the room by a military escort. Then Seán Ó hUadhaigh sought a short adjournment to consult his client. The court granted this request. After the short adjournment Barry announced “As a soldier of the Irish Republic, I refuse to recognise the court.” Brigadier Onslow explained the prisoner’s “perilous situation” and that he was being tried on a capital charge. He did not reply. Seán Ó hUadhaigh then rose to tell the court that since his client did not recognise the authority of the court he himself could take no further part in the proceedings.
He was charged on three counts of the murder of Private Marshall Whitehead. One of the bullets taken from Whitehead’s body was of .45 calibre, while all witnesses stated that Barry was armed with a .38 Mauser Parabellum. The Judge Advocate General informed the court that the Crown had only to prove that the accused was one of the party that killed three British soldiers, and every member of the party was technically guilty of murder.
In accordance with military procedure the verdict was not announced in court. He was returned to Mountjoy, and at about 8 o’clock that night, the district court-martial officer entered his cell and read out the sentence: death by hanging. The public learned on 28 October that the date of execution had been fixed for 1 November.
Execution

Kevin Barry spent the last day of his life preparing for death. His ordeal focussed world attention on Ireland. According to Sean Cronin, author of Kevin Barry, he hoped for a firing squad rather than the gallows, due to the fact that he had been condemned by a military court. A friend who visited him in Mountjoy prison after he received confirmation of the death sentence, said:
He is meeting death as he met life with courage but with nothing of the braggart. He does not believe that he is doing anything wonderfully heroic. Again and again he has begged that no fuss be made about him.
He reported Barry as saying “It is nothing, to give one’s life for Ireland. I’m not the first and maybe I won’t be the last. What’s my life compared with the cause?”
He joked about his death with his sister Kathy. “Well, they are not going to let me like a soldier fall… But I must say they are going to hang me like a gentleman.” This was, according to Cronin, a reference to George Bernard Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple, the last play Kevin and his sister had seen together.
On 31 October, he was allowed three visits of three people each, the last of which was taken by his mother, brother and sisters. In addition to the two Auxiliaries with him, there were five or six warders in the boardroom. As his family were leaving, they met Canon John Waters, on the way in, who said, “This boy does not seem to realise he is going to die in the morning.” Mrs Barry asked him what he meant. He said: “He is so gay and light-hearted all the time. If he fully realised it, he would be overwhelmed.” Mrs Barry replied, “Canon Waters, I know you are not a Republican. But is it impossible for you to understand that my son is actually proud to die for the Republic?” Canon Waters became somewhat flustered as they parted. The Barry family recorded that they were upset by this encounter because they considered the chief chaplain “the nearest thing to a friend that Kevin would see before his death, and he seemed so alien.”
Plaque placed by the Irish Government on the graves of the Volunteers
Kevin Barry was hanged on 1 November, after hearing two Masses in his cell. Father Waters, who walked with him to the scaffold, wrote to Barry’s mother later, “You are the mother, my dear Mrs. Barry, of one of the bravest and best boys I have ever known. His death was one of the most holy, and your dear boy is waiting for you now, beyond the reach of sorrow or trial.”
Dublin Corporation met on the Monday, and passed a vote of sympathy with the Barry family, and adjourned the meeting as a mark of respect. The Chief Secretary’s office in Dublin Castle, on the Monday night, released the following communiqué:
The sentence of death by hanging passed by court-martial upon Kevin Barry, or Berry, medical student, aged 18½ years, for the murder of Private Whitehead in Dublin on September 20, was duly executed this morning at Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. At a military court of inquiry, held subsequently in lieu of an inquest, medical evidence was given to the effect that death was instantaneous. The court found that the sentence had been carried out in accordance with law.
The body of Kevin Barry was buried at 1.30 p.m, in a plot near the women’s prison. His comrade and fellow-student Frank Flood was buried alongside him four months later. A plain cross marked their graves and those of Patrick Moran, Thomas Whelan, Thomas Traynor, Patrick Doyle, Thomas Bryan, Bernard Ryan, Edmond Foley and Patrick Maher who were also hanged in the same prison for their part in the War of Independence before the Treaty of July 1921. They became known in republican circles as The Forgotten Ten.
On 14 October 2001, the remains of Kevin Barry and these nine other volunteers were given a state funeral and moved from Mountjoy Prison to be re-interred at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

On 14 October 2001 the remains of Kevin Barry and nine other volunteers from the War of Independence were given a state funeral and moved from Mountjoy Prison to be re-interred at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. Barry’s grave is the first on the left.
The only full-length biography of Kevin Barry was written by his nephew, the journalist Donal O’Donovan, and published in 1989 as Kevin Barry and his Time.
Kevin Barry is remembered in a well-known song about his imprisonment and execution, written shortly after his death and still sung today. The tune to “Kevin Barry” was taken from the sea-shanty “Rolling Home”
World famous artists such as Leonard Cohen and Paul Robeson have covered the song.
Barry’s execution also inspired Thomas MacGreevy’s surrealist poem “Homage to Hieronymus Bosch”. MacGreevy had unsuccessfully petitioned the Provost of Trinity College Dublin, John Henry Bernard, to make representations on Barry’s behalf.
A commemorative stamp was issued by An Post to mark the 50th anniversary of Barry’s death in 1970.
The University College Dublin branch of Fianna Fáil is named the Kevin Barry Cumann in his honour.Also a GAA club was named after him in county Tyrone called Derrylaughan Kevin Barry’s in the parish of clonoe.
In 1934 a large stained glass window commemorating Barry was unveiled in Earlsfort Terrace, then the principal campus of University College Dublin. It was designed by Richard King of the Harry Clarke Studio. In 2007 UCD completed its relocation to the Belfield campus some four miles away and a fund was collected by graduates to defray the cost (estimated at close to €250,000) of restoring and moving the window to this new location.
A grandnephew is the Irish historian Eunan O’Halpin.

By James langton:

Kevin Barry in Volunteer uniform

Kevin Barry

By James Langton:

young Kevin Barry

By James Langton:

Another rare one of Kevin Barry

BLOODY SUNDAY” Dublin ,November 21, 1920

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Collins justified the killings in this way:

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

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

The Diggers and the IRA, by Kerry Casey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rosalie Popick

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)

Countess Markiewicz

Countess Markiewicz was born as Constance Gore-Booth in 1868 in London. Her father had an estate at Lissadell in the north of County Sligo, Ireland; the children grew up there and Constance and her sister Eva were childhood friends of WB Yeats whose artistic and political ideas were a strong influence on them. Constance went to study art at the Slade School of Art in London, she became politically active and joined the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.

Countess Markiewicz, founder of Fianna eireann

She moved to Paris, marrying Count Kazimierz Dunin-Markiewicz, a Ukranian aristocrat. The couple settled in Dublin where Constance established herself as a landscape painter and helped found the United Artists Club. Socialising in artistic and literary circles, she met and became influenced by revolutionary patriots. In 1908 she joined Sinn Fein and the revolutionary women’s movement, Inghinidhe na hEireann; she also began to perform in plays at the Abbey Theatre.

In 1909, she founded Fianna-Eireann, an organisation that instructed boys in military tactics and the in the use of firearms. She joined James Connolly’s Irish Citizen Army, designing their uniform and composing their anthem. During the 1916 Rising, she was second in command to Michael Mallin in St. Stephen’s Green. Under sniper fire from the surrounding buildings, including the Shelbourne Hotel, they retreated to the Royal College of Surgeons. When the leaders of the Rising surrendered, she was arrested, incarcerated in Kilmainham Gaol, she was sentenced to death but the sentence was later commuted to a life sentence.

Under the general amnesty she was released in 1917 and in 1918 she ran in the general election becoming the first woman elected to the British House of Commons, however in line with Sinn Fein policy, she refused to take her seat. She later served as Minister for Labour in the Irish cabinet becoming the first female cabinet minister in Europe. She left government in 1922, opposing the Anglo-Irish Treaty, fighting actively for the Republican cause during the Civil War. She again won election to government in the 1923 and 1927 general elections. She died in 1927 and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland.

Article source: Russell Shortt, http://www.exploringireland.net

http://theirishwar.com/

Michael Collins Painting

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

Thanks Tadgh!.

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

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

Tomás Mac Curtain Lord Mayor of Cork

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

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

IRISH VOLUNTEERS AT SHEARES STREET CORK CITY

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

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

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

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

Death

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

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

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

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

Tomás Óg Mac Curtain

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

Laurence Regan IRA Vol Four Courts , any information ?

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

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