Posted on April 26, 2015 at 3:35 pm by


james Cassidy . He was from the bone in Belfast and is pictured in this photo .


Mary J Murphy

Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 10:45 AM


Subject: Michael McHugh / Eva O’Flaherty

What a wonderful resource your site is James, and many thanks for sharing it

Two historical figures intrigue me, both from north Galway.

Eva O’Flaherty – apparently a great friend of Sean MacDermott, Dr Lynn,

Maire Comerford, Anita MacMahon & Darrell Figgis et al, who was in

Cumann na mBan in 1914 with Louise Gavan Duffy … I know too that

she was very involved in the prisoner’s fund (I don’t have the exact name of

the organisation but I think it was the one that Kathleen Clarke ran) – have

you ever come acrcoss her – Eva O’Flaherty – in your research ?

Michael J McHugh (possibly used the Irish version of his name) – T. Gay

was his commanding officer, he was also born in north Galway and from what

we know was very involved in printing and in Collins’ Intelligence network – have you ever

come across him either in your research ?

With many thanks for the moment,

MJ Murphy. .
Dorothy Berkeley



Richard Gough from Inchecore Dublin was a volunteer do have any details for me and is there a medal the family are due ?
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 2:53 PM
Subject: William Flynn

To whom it may concern,

I’m sorry to trouble you, but was wondering whether the organisation would be able to assist me. My Great-grandmother’s (Catherine Flynn) grandfather (William Flynn) was allegedly an Irish Volunteer, Cork brigade and signed up 1914. I was just wondering whether there were any more details available such as his birthdate, parents names and where in Cork he was from?

I would be much obliged if you could please give this some consideration and get back to me with any pertinent information.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email and I look forward to hearing from you.


Greetings from Tipperary,
I was at, and enjoyed, your wonderful display of items in Hayes Hotel, Thurles, last weekend.

I was speaking with one of you fine men while you were putting away the displays, as a few items had caught my attention. He asked that I email this email address with my questions, so here goes.

I saw on one of the tables a reference to the only Cumann na mBan woman to be killed by the Tans. I think the story was, they called for her brothers, they were not there, so they shot her instead. May I ask, what was the name of this lady, do you have any details on her story by any chance?

Also there was another leaflet or news item which referred to two pics of two boys, who were killed, was it in crossfire? I simply cannot recall any details, only that it was a document showing two pics, or two boys, who got killed. Any ideas what this was that I saw? What is the story here I wonder?

Well I really hope you can help me.
Thanks again for bringing your display to Thurles.
All the very best
Con McGrath


Raymond M. Keogh
Message The Gerald Keogh Identity Series (called after the Irish Volunteer) will appear on: from April 2015.

Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 2:53 PM
Subject: William Flynn

To whom it may concern,

I’m sorry to trouble you, but was wondering whether the organisation would be able to assist me. My Great-grandmother’s (Catherine Flynn) grandfather (William Flynn) was allegedly an Irish Volunteer, Cork brigade and signed up 1914. I was just wondering whether there were any more details available such as his birthdate, parents names and where in Cork he was from?

I would be much obliged if you could please give this some consideration and get back to me with any pertinent information.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email and I look forward to hearing from you.



I am wondering if you have contact details for someone within the “Third Tipperary Brigade Old IRA Commemoration Committee”.

I am trying to research my great grandfather Patrick Cleary. We believe he was involved in the Independence movement but in what capacity we do not know.

From his obituary in 1974:
“led the volunteer branch in Clerihan and was responsible for the training of several hundred men. His residence in Ardgeeha was subjected to a number of raids by Black and Tan forces and his house had been the venue for sittings of the Republican courts”

We do not know anything about what he did and would love to get answers to our questions.

Thank you,

Martin Phelan

Website https://
Message Hello

I was just wondering if you could possible help me in any way. My Great Grandfarther was a member of the Irish Volunteers and i was wondering how would i gop about finding out any more information about that and if their are any records or such. He was a member of North Kildare 2nd, his name Thomas Mullally, from Athgarvan, Kildare.

Many Thanks
Jerry O’Connell
Website https://
Message Trying to find out about medal awarded to my Father – Jeremiah O’Connell, Broadford, Co Limerick but living in Tarbert, Co Kerry when medal awarded. I think he was engineer in the West Limerick Brigade. My brother said that our Father told him that he was a judge of the court at time. Where can I find information about this
Eileen Markey
Website https://
Message Hello.
I’m looking for information on John Clarke, born 1896 Dromard, Dromore West, Co. Sligo. Joined the IRB in Boston, returned home to fight in 1921. Allegedly was imprisoned in Mountjoy in 1922 or 23. Would love to know if he was arrested at the same time as Tommy Goff, also of Sligo, who was shot by IFS April 23 1923.
Enclosed Pic of Christy Mackey, known in Rush Co Dublin as Kit. He was a member of old IRA North Dublin. His years 1899 to 1979. He remained single and lived with his brothers Paddy and Jim and sister Mary Jo who was Postmistress there for many years. They run a butchery in rush village but Kit or Christy had a greenhouse at the back of their house in the Mall. I did temporary relief at the post office in about 1971 and remained a visitor at Mackey’s for several years.
Mary Jo told me that Christy was on the run for a good while. I guess until things got resolved. During my time visiting Christy used have an outside concrete seat which he painted green, white and orange. i never thought to take a photo of it. This pic used hang over his bed. For a time one could get their portrait taken and later get a coloured one. before my last time, I asked Mary Jo if I could get a copy of it because I held a grea affection for him. John Buckley was reared at the Mall and got the dwelling house. I am telling you this in case this pic is not good enough. I found John Buckley to be very agreeable.
Yours sincerely, Ellen Hanna.

Irish Volunteers Organisation <>wrote:

Sent: Monday, November 17, 2014 4:52 PM
Subject: A comment from Ellen Hanna

a form has been submitted on November 17, 2014, via: [IP]
Your default form
Your Name Ellen Hanna
Website https://
Message I have got a colour picture of Christopher Mackey, Rush, Co Dublin, in uniform wearing leather belt of republican army.
he is buried in Whitestown cemetery Rush Co Dublin 1979
Christy M 001 irish volunteer

Whois :
I’d love to know if anyone has any information or photos relating to Sean/Jack O’Leary, of the 1st Battalion in Tipperary. He was killed by Auxiliaries on March 27 1921, dying in a hospital in Nenagh. He had worked in a bank in Nenagh before going on the run but was originally from Killarney, and is mentioned in a couple of witness statements:

Subject: plunkett column

Message Body:
Can you please give me some information on plunkett column picture 1923 the lady sitting front left i belive to be my grand aunt maggie jordan dublin. Were can i get a better pic of the image.

Here is the photo of my great uncle Louis Ward of Killadiskert, outside Drumkerran Co. Leitrim
He had a brother, Patrick who joined the R.I.C. There most have been so animosity there.
A distant cousin took his gun, letter and medal from the family home which he kept and Louis’ immediate family, us, would like them back, do you have a museum or somewhere these could be displayed.
Looking forward to hearing anything from you.



Eileen Walsh Gough
Website https://
Message I am searching for information on my late father Michael J Walsh, Sheares Street, Kilmallock, Co.Limerick. Born 01/03/1899. My father belonged to the IRA in East Limerick. He passed away in 1971 when I was 18 years old & sadly I never got to speak with him about his involvement. My only information is an old diary where he mentions that he was arrested by the British 14/07/1920 & spent 12 months in Wandsworth Prison,London. He was rearrested by Irish Military 17/09/1922 & spent 14 months in Hare Park Prison in the Curragh. I also have a news paper cutting mentioning him attending the funeral of his brother Thomas. In the cutting it mentions that he was one of the most courageous & daring members of the IRA in East Limerick and participated in many operations against the enemy. I would be so gratef ul if you would let me know if there might be any other information availale on him. Many Thanks for your help. Kind Regards
Subject: 1961 citizen army And cumann na mban

Message Body:
Posted last year by paul dunne. Ormond hotel
dublin july 1961 reuinon does he hold a picture
of the reuinon. If so would it be possible if so too
see a copy. He also said that his grandfather lawlor
was givin a cert on that date would it be possible to see it also. Ive been trying to trace a picture of cumann na mban drumcondra branch for long time.

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From: Patricia Junold <>Subject: Dublin Volunteers

Message Body:
Wondering if you have information re. Michael McGee from Manor street Dublin7. who died from his injuries after taking part in the Drumcondra ambush Jan 1916 for which Frank Flood was hanged at Mountjoy Prison later that year

This e-mail was sent from a contact form on Irish (

sean ahern



i have a photo of my grandfather Mick Ahern, in Irish Volunteer uniform as first Captain of the Clonakilty Company and can forward it to you if you are interested.



Michael Mcbrien <>
Subject: info re great uncle

Message Body:
Looking for information great uncle Harold Mc Brien SLIGO / DROMAHAIR.LIVED IN BALLINTOGHER.

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Subject: Strangeways & Frongach 1916

Message Body:
A chairde,

I’m making a documentary about my grandaunt, a revolutionary in 1916, she helped prisoners of war escape from Strangeways following an encounter with Irish soldiers on a train bound for Frongach. I was wondering if you have any Gaelgóirs based in Northern England or Wales who could talk to me about this era.

Is mise le meas,
Emer Nic Aodháin

Irish Volunteers Stories

Message Body:
To whom it may concern,

I am an Irish playwright. I am writing a play in commemoration of the 1916 rising centenary and looking for some genuine, personal stories regarding IV’s involved either in Dublin or Galway. I have certain information on a relative of mine, however not enough to construct a truthful/sufficiently fictionalised piece.

I will be connecting the story with Irish WWI British soldiers. If you could point me in the direction of some personal war stories, to do with the somewhat unknown men on the ground, I would be much obliged. The stranger the stories and more intricate the familial relationships the better.

I realise I’m being rather vague, but I hope you see what I’m after. I would greatly appreciate your help.

All the best,

Henry Collie
Liam Healy <>
Subject: Patrick McHugh Munitions 1919 – 1923 I.R.A.

Message Body:
A Chara,
Would you have any information on Patrick McHugh, 33 Barrow Street, Ringsend Road, Dublin.
I am interested in contacting any of his family as my father worked with him during the War of Independence. Patrick names him in his list of Munitions Staff.
If there is a protocol regarding giving out personal information would you pass this note on to any of his family who might be kind enough to respond to me. Go raibh maith agat.
Liam Healy, Dublin


Subject: query re Seán Prendergast

Message Body:
I am trying to contact the family of Seán Prendergast O.C. C Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade. My father Christopher Healy was a member of this unit and worked full time in the Munitions Section as Official Carrier during the War of Independence. I have a copy of his pass for the 4 Courts Courts in 1922.
I am interested in finding any information in Seán’s papers about my father. I know his name from my father and also the names Joe Furlong and Dinny Holmes.
Tá súil agam go mbeidh tú in ann cabhair a thabairt dom.

Slán agus Beannacht,

Subject: Family Notes

Message Body:
Hi, I have some family notes that I would really like Liz Gillis, if possible to have a look at, one set some missing unfortunately was written by my grand uncle James Kelly Capt b COY 4th Nth Div and tells some of what happened in Co Louth involving Sean Macentee andSean MacDiarmada etc the other is a copy from his sister Bridget Kelly there is some material I seen previously re Grace gifford.

Subject: Photographs for Book

Message Body:
Dear Sir/Ms
My name is Brendan Murphy and I am self publishing a book on County Kerry, Ireland. The book will feature interesting people, places and events in Co. Kerry.
I am doing a feature on Thomas Ashe and the O’Rahilly and I saw your photographs on your website.
I would like permission to use the photographs of Thomas Ashe and the O’ Rahilly in my book. On the page the photo appears your name will be acknowledged as photographer and at the back of the book web site info etc will be given.
Any help or photos appreciated.
Slan go Foill

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Subject: war of independance

Message Body:
hi, i am looking fo information regarding my grandfather.i know he was a member of the old ira,as when he passed away in febuary 1971, there was a tricolor on his coffin also my mother told me that the defence forces wanted to send a firing party for his funeral but my grandmother would not accept this as she said it would be too far as i know he was based in liverpool at the time and he did recieve an old ira pension. i would be so grateful if you cuold help me find out more information about him .his name was james murphy from new ross co wexfod. yours sincerly anthony murphy

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Davina Watson <>
Subject: 7th Battalion Cumann Na Mban

Message Body:
Hi, would you be able to help me? I’m trying to find details on Cumann Na Mban, 7th Battalion, Ballingarry Branch. In particular, I am trying to trace a member called Annie Norris. She later married a man called Thomas Berry. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.
Jerry O’Connell
Website https://
Message Trying to find out about medal awarded to my Father – Jeremiah O’Connell, Broadford, Co Limerick but living in Tarbert, Co Kerry when medal awarded. I think he was engineer in the West Limerick Brigade. My brother said that our Father told him that he was a judge of the court at time. Where can I find information about this
fred molloy
Website https://none
Message my father in law served with Sean Tracey and Dan Breen he is mentioned in Breen’s book My fight for Irish freedom chapter 4 I am looking for any further confirmation as to his service, he was born 25th Aug 1895 in Doon Co Limerick. any information would be gratefully received as I am trying to complete a family biography. thank you.
Subject: photographer

Message Body:
enjoying your articles and photographs.
my great grandfather was in skibereen from 1911, and was then in curragh camp taking photos.. don’t have much information, just saw some photos he took of rebels with weapons and ammunition in the curragh.
was wondering if you came across any of his images, i think there are a lot donated to collins’ barracks, or if you knew any information. charles donnelly swift


brian donnelly swift

Paul Cunningham <>Subject: Records

Message Body:
Hi, a question on memebers of the old IRA,
I was wonder where i could find information about my grandfather who was part of Donegal South Brigade, fourth battalion.


alwena jones <>
Subject: seamus kavanagh

Message Body:
I believe that my nans dad was seamus Kavanagh.
Lily or Elizabeth was born in 1917 (we don`t know her name) What my nan told me when I was 14 yrs old. Her dad was in a line to be shot, then a person from the other side who knew him, decided to give him a chance and let him `run`.
He had a family, but I don`t think we were from that 2nd family from what I have read. I have seen the son (Dundalk museum) in a photo and he is the image of my nan.
Subject: Thomas Canty (or Casty)

Message Body:

I’m looking for any information you might have on a volunteer listed as Thomas Canty or Casty. It’s my belief that this is in fact my great grandfather Thomas Heeley.

What do I know?: I know that he was garrisoned at Marrowbone Lane Distillery and that there is also very little information relating to him. I have read through the records submitted by some of the combatants at Marrowbone Land Distillery and the South Dublin Union to the Bureau of Irish Military History and there is no mention of him either. There is also no mention of him being at Frongoch or even on the Dublin Census of 1911 although there is a Canty family living at 28.1 Marrowbone Lane at the time of the Rising. The only Thomas Cantys I can find on the 1911 census are living in Kerry or Cork. It would strike me as being strange for a Kerry/Cork volunteer to come to Dublin to partake in the rising, but be stationed at an outpost. It is however possible that one of these country Cantys might have been related to the said Canty family on Marrowbone Lane at the time, but I find it unlikely. There also seems to be considerable doubt over the correct surname for this volunteer.

Why?: It’s my belief that this Thomas Canty or Casty was in fact my great grandfather Thomas Heeley who lived at 99.1 Cork Street at the time, which is/was only a 5 minute walk from the voluteer garrison. His Father and step brothers and sister were English born and his Irish born brother (James) was a chauffeur for British generals on the Somme at the time of the Rising. I believe that he used a variation or pseudonym of his Irish born mother’s surname (Cantwell) in order to protect the family name Heeley. I also think he got away before the official surrender of the volunteers of Marrowbone Lane as it has been recorded that Con Colbert stated that anyone not in uniform should try and escape. Eventually Ceantt on hearing this stopped it, but some of the combatants had already got away.
It’s my belief that this Thomas Canty or Casty was in fact my great grandfather Thomas Heeley who lived at 99.1 Cork Street at the time, which is/was only a 5 minute walk from the voluteer garrison. His Father and step brothers and sister were English born and his Irish born brother was a chauffeur for British generals on the Somme at the time of the Rising. I believe that he used a variation or pseudonym in order to protect the family name. I also think he got away before the official surrender of the volunteers of
Marrowbone Lane as it has been recorded that Con Colbert stated that anyone not in uniform should try and escape.
Eventually Ceantt on hearing this stopped it, but some of the combatants had already got away.

I’d also like to note that Thomas and his brother James were Irish-born as was there mother and felt closer to her than their English-born father. There was a massive divide in the family due to father (Robert), the step-brothers and sister being English. The step-brothers and sisters actually moved back to England at some stage between the 1901 and 1911 censuses.

Any insight or info you can give me on this Thomas Canty or Casty would be much appreciated.

Subject: james sniper cassidy

Message Body:
im trying to find information or any old photographs of my grandfather james sniper cassidy who originated from the bone in belfast. the only information i have been able to obtain is from the book NORTHERN COMMAND, i would be very gratefull if you could help. Thank You

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Subject: John McDonnell Photograph

Message Body:
With regard to the above post has the person used the 1901/1911 census records. If they would like some assistance in a non professional capacity I have a fairly good grasp of Irish Geneological resourses and would try to assist if possible. You are welcome to pass on my email address to the person should you wish to.
Kind Regards John Kelly
Robert Dooley <>
Subject: Mount Street Survivors Photograph

Message Body:

I am of the understanding that my Great Grandfather William Ronan is in this photo hosted on your website.
But I am unsure which person is him.
I would be obliged if you could identify him and if you happened to have any other photos containing him?

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Paul Tassie <>Subject: Sean O’Sullivan – Cork Volunteers

Message Body:
Hi There,
your site contains a photograph – Cork Volunteers. I would like , if possible, to get a copy of the photo with Sean O’ Sullivan seated with a group of other Cork Volunteers. He is my Grandmothers Brother…….
Eileen Walsh Gough
Website https://
Message I am searching for information on my late father Michael J Walsh, Sheares Street, Kilmallock, Co.Limerick. Born 01/03/1899. My father belonged to the IRA in East Limerick. He passed away in 1971 when I was 18 years old & sadly I never got to speak with him about his involvement. My only information is an old diary where he mentions that he was arrested by the British 14/07/1920 & spent 12 months in Wandsworth Prison,London. He was rearrested by Irish Military 17/09/1922 & spent 14 months in Hare Park Prison in the Curragh. I also have a news paper cutting mentioning him attending the funeral of his brother Thomas. In the cutting it mentions that he was one of the most courageous & daring members of the IRA in East Limerick and participated in many operations against the enemy. I would be so gratef ul if you would let me know if there might be any other information availale on him. Many Thanks for your help. Kind Regards
Hope you are well!

I’m currently researching a short script on the 1916 Pirate Radio Broadcast and am just wondering if you would know if any of the original pirates still have any relatives around that I could contact, mainly Fergus O’Kelly, Liam Breen, Arthur Shields, Joseph Mary Plunkett, Tom Weafer, The O’Rahilly or John O’Connor?

Kind regards,

Jonathan Farrelly
Development Officer


Would you have any idea where I could get information on the 5th Batalion Engineers (Old IRA). My
father was a member during the War of Independence and the Civil War.

Yours sincerely
John Dowling

. In research I found that my father’s cousin Seán McGrath was fatally shot in Ballyconnell in Feb. 1923. He had written in Irish to my father in Jan. ’23 and described the law-lesness in Ballyconnell.This incident was widely reported in Nat. Newspapers and provincial. The Minister made several statements in the Dáil about the incident;and it was debated on the 8th.+9th. of TD’s. It was sent from Belfast to the ‘Daily Express’ paper in London. Seán was only 23 years.He and my father were both Irish teachers both having attended Coláiste Chonnacht, Tourmakeady. My father in 1908 and Seán in c. 1918 (2 terms).This incident was described as ‘The Tragedies of Ballyconnell’.


Joe Monaghan
Heather Graham <>
Subject: George Gilmore

Message Body:
I have regularly read Irish Volunteers, which is extremely interesting. but NOTHING is ever mentioned about my cousin, (My dads first cousin they grew up together in Howth) George Gilmore. yet he was very involved in the troubles in Dublin and I think Cork, and the Spanish Civil War.
Could you please tell me why he is never mentioned. and I would love to know what he was like as a person other than just the political person a lot is written about.
I remember meeting him a couple of times when I was very young, and visiting his very odd cottage in Howth. Also why his mother my Great Aunt went to prison. I have never been able to find the reason for her imprisonment. Please Please please give me some answers.
I look forward to hearing from someone.soon

Heather Graham,

Subject: Looking for a relative who survived

Message Body:

Just found out that my grandfather George Victory and a great-uncle Michael Bridgeman were Irish Volunteers. I have been told that Michael was in Frongoch and was wondering do you have a list or do you know where I might get a list of volunteers who survived.

Many thanks

Jackie Minnock

elizabeth fannon <>
Subject: irish volunteer 1912

Message Body:
my father Michael mc Donald r i p was a volunteer in the I R A in belturbet co cavan in 1912 , he had some bravery medals now lost would love to get some informatin on his time in the I R A, he also got a pension .How do i go about getting infor mation on him. All help much appreciated.
Elizabeth Fannon

Frank Lupton <>
Subject: information on a volunteer

Message Body:
i’m trying to find information on my father in law Richard Cullen ( Dick) born 1904 Glen of Imaal co.wicklow died january 8th 1968 charlie Haughey put an obituary notice in the Irish Press on the 19th january 1968 stating he was in the Rathmines Brigrade under cathal Brugha and i’ve believe he was interned and shared a cell for some time with Sean T O’Kelly if you can help i’d very much appreciate it,thank you very much

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Subject: Michael mc Donald

Message Body:
My father was a volunteer in the I R A in belturbet co cavan he had some medals and received a pension he lived in Gortaquill and his parents were Patrick mc Donald and Mary Ellen. How can i get information on him.All help appreciated

Treasa van Ommen Kloeke- <>
Subject: Arklow Volunteers

Message Body:
Thank you for this. My uncle, Tom O’Toole, pretty sure, is my late Dad’s eldest brother who got out to the U.S. (had to?). Years later I met his son Tom and his son also Tom, in Calif.
History moves on…
My maternal grandmother was Aine (Annie) Heron who was active in Cumann na mBan in Dublin. I have her membership pin…the rifle. There is a report in the Official History files of the gun transport system (baby prams, under the baby!) and when she sat as a justice in the Rathmines/Pembroke area with Aine Ceannt. You are doing a good job. If we do not know where we came from we cannot know where we are going -as they say…

This e-mail was sent from a contact form on Irish (
Michael Roe <>
Subject: Irish Volunteer

Message Body:
I searching for information on my great uncle Michael Roe who lived in Dalkey and received a volunteer medal. He fled Ireland after the Irish Civil War because he was a nationalist, He lived in Canada but never spoke of his war experience. Family info is he was with the Dublin Brigade.

This e-mail was sent from a contact form on Irish (

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have just this am come across a newspaper cutting showing the daughter of Arthur Griffith RIP whom I understand died in 2006.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could forward this email to a member of the Mrs. Ita Gray’s (Nee Griffith) family so that I can arrange to send them this cutting if they wish me to do so.

I would appreciate a confirmation that you have the contact details for the Griffith family.

Many thanksin advance for this assistance,

Fr. Eamon, sscc
—————————————————————————————Sean Lea <>
Subject: My Grandfather Harry (Henry Michael) Lea

Message Body:
To whom it may concern

Dear Sir
I have a Certificate from the 5th Battalion Engineers Dublin Brigade stating
This is to Certify that Harry Lea served in the War of Independence against the British Forces.
I am trying to gather more information about my Grandfather’s role in the 1916 Uprising (he was born in 1903) and the subsequent Civil War.
Kindest Regards Sean Lea
Vanessa Gildea <>
Subject: information

Message Body:
Dear Sir / Madam,

I am working on a documentary about 1916 and am trying to source some images of volunteers who took part in The Rising. Can you help or point me in the right direction, many thanks, the IVs I’m looking for images of from in or around 1916 and preferably in uniform are:
John Flynn – Bolands Garrison
Sean Nunan – GPO Garrison (have found some of him in america with De Valera but not in uniform)
John McGallogly – GPO & Kimmage
Tom Devine – GPO Garrison​
Liam Saurin – GPO, Metropole Hotel outpost
Joseph Reynolds – Four Courts Garrison
James / Seamus Grace – Bolands Mill (Northumberland Road)
any help in this regard would be most gratefully appreciated.
All the best, Vanessa

Michael J.Cummings <>
Subject: Volunteers that emigrated to U. S.

Message Body:
I am interested in any information you may have regarding any Irish Volunteers that emigrated to America and/or joined activism in organizations there. I am hoping to write a series of commentary on men and women who did that.
I include my resume. Any information that you may have to share particularly in what I refer to as the American Shamrock …Boston, NY, Philadelphia and Chicago would enable me to hopefully tell their story during the centennial. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Michael J. Cummings, a native of Springfield, Mass., is a graduate of St. Anselm’s College (B. A., 1968) and New York University (M. P. A., 1970). A former member of the National Boards of the Irish American Unity Conference (1996-2013), the Ancient Order Hibernians National Board (2001-2008), and the National Executive of the Irish Northern Aid Committee (1988-1996), he served six National AOH Presidents , 5 IAUC National Presidents and two National Chairman of INA primarily in public relations capacities. He is the only person to serve on the national policymaking bodies of all three major Irish American organizations. He also served on the Commission on Peace and Justice of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
Cummings has appeared on American, English and Irish television and radio and his commentary and letters and those of the Presidents have appeared in major American, Irish-American, and Catholic print media. He is a frequent columnist for the weekly IRISH ECHO newspaper. He has been married to Nuala Hogan, a nurse and native of Ireland, for 41 years and resides in Albany, New York . They are the parents of five children and two grandchildren.

To contact Mr. Cummings for speaking engagements or for an opinion piece, please call via e-mail at

Assumpta Burke <>
Subject: Westport Fianna Eireann

Message Body:
Trying to put together some information on my Grand Father John Tom Walsh, I know he was a volunteer and also a member of Fianna Eireann, would you have any reference to him in your records, Thanking you

Information Required October 2014

I have a gran uncle michael obrien born in killeigh tullamore in 1902 approx. Michael and several siblings disappeared after 1911 census
My grandfather Mathew stayed in killeigh. He was interred in the curragh in 1921
I would like to make contact with ellen obrien to discuss further
Also, how or where do I find records of mathew brien in the curragh. He wrote a letter to his mother from rath camp telling her not to fret and to send him razors!
Orla Mulligan
PS I have shared ellen photo on facebook in the hope someone might recognise the people or the place
Michael Holland

Dear ‘admin’,
i’ve just stumbled across the very interesting photo of British troops in Amiens Street station’ posted on your site.
I’m surprised that there is no other information about the scene.
While not an expert on the time, I have a few observations that might help someone reserching that photo.
1. There is a band playing, facing the platform, and a guard of honour in two ranks, presenting arms, at right angles to the band and the platform. The guard of honour may be of as few as 10 men.
2. In the background, facing away and presumably facing in the direction of the exit from the platform area, is what looks like an artillery gun crew towing either a gun limber or a gun covered with a platform in some way.
3. On the left in the middle ground are some civilians, one of whom appears to have his hat held over his chest.
4. In the left foreground is a group of army officers, clearly identifiable by their uniforms, boots, swagger sticks etc. They appear to be facing a train, and some of them are clearly saluting. 5. While most of these officers are wearing khaki shirts, more or less in the centre of the photo two are wearing white collars and the one closest to the train seems to be wearing his medals (or just showing a lot of medal ribbons). He is also wearing a sword.
I would interpret him as a more senior officer and the other are his staff and more junior officers. At least one of these officers seems to have a black armband on.
6. There is a mixed group of civilians in working mens clothing, at least one officer and perhaps some other ranks right beside the train.
If my understanding of the scene is correct
Michael Holland

I attended the excellent display in Cork on Saturday and spoke o one of the organizers and they suggested I make contact with yourselves.

I’m trying to establish if my Grandfather was a member of the IRA Volunteers during the War of Independence/Civil War period.

His name is unusual

Ned of Edmund Guinevan or as per the 1911 Census Ginivan/Ginevan.

He cam from Castletownroche / Shanballymore area of North Cork.

His daughter, my Aunt is convinced he was involved as he was an excellent historian and Irish Language enthusiast, very much a self educated man.

I checked the Military Archives but I did not come across his name.

Would appreciate your help.


John Crowley

Hello I am wondering if you have any photos or information on the Volunteers in county Galway. My grandfather Patrick Joseph Hughes from Ballinamore Bridge near Ballinasloe was involved in the movement and was awarded a medal from the War of Independence. He was buried with military honours but Im not sure what his role or rank was exactly. I would love to find out more about him or the movement in Co. Galway. Many Thanks.
Edel Hughes.
Hello. I’m looking to find which battalions of the Dublin Brigade Old IRA represented which areas in the city. Both my grandparent’s families on my dad’s side were old IRA (Dunne and Downey). They lived in and around Erne St., Macken St., Pearse St,. and Westland Row. Any help appreciated. Le meas, Dave

Hi there,

I am trying to get any information which you may have on my great grandmother Mary Allen who was married to my great grandfather Edward Allen.
I am trying to compile my family tree for my children & am not sure what age Mary was when she was a member of the Irish Citizens Army. I am the granddaughter of her daughter Carmel.
Any information you could give would be greatly appreciated.


Tara O’Connor

Could you fill me in about my dads first cousin George Gilmore. I would love to know what he was like as a person, other than the political person quite a lot is written about him.

I remember meeting him a couple of times when I was very young, and although my dad grew up with him in Howth, my dad didn’t really mention him as he didn’t agree with Georges politics.

I remember going to visit him in his odd little cottage in Howth. So please help me with something about him. even if it includes something of his politics etc.

Also does anyone know why his mother my Great Aunt Fanny was sent to prison for a time, this is something I have struggled to find out without any success.

Please help.


Heather Graham

Worthing,West Sussex,UK

Hello I am trying to do some research on my Grand Father Patrick Joseph Doyle. He lived at 23 Esmonde Street for a number of years and I know he was active in the war of independence we have his medal issues in the 1930s. Any information would be helpful I am sure he would have known James Gleeson
Sean Doyle
Hi, i am writing to you again, i have get some more information since i last wrote to you, it is concerning my father Laurence /Lar / La /Larry Doyle, i will give you a brief catch up as it was some time ago since i wrote to you, daddy was born in 1900 in Charlotte st Dublin, his parents Thomas and Catherine Doyle nee Kenny, they came from Shilleagh in Wicklow, they owned a provision shop in 9 Lower Camden St Dublin and 86 Rathmines from 1888 to 1898, they went bankrupt i believe, after daddy was born i am not sure where they went, they moved at some stage to Wicklow i believe then to Newbridge then to Naas where granny opened tearooms on the Canal, daddy married for the first time in 1925 he lived with his wife Kathleen Tighe in New Roe Naas, they had 2 sons William Thomas born 1926 and Thomas Leo 1927, his wife died September 1927, the new information i have is a Larry Doyle living in Newbridge which i am nearly sure is him, i have a copy of LEWIS GUN SECTION, and Larry Doyle is on it, this is the number 18193,Main St Newbridge 445yy, not sure if the 5 is that or an s, post Naas, single, that would fit with daddy being single and 22 in 1922, please i cannot confirm this i need your help to do this, all that daddy told me was all to do with Naas Newbridge and the Curragh, time is running out for my sister she is not well i am hoping for her this will be sorted soon, thank you very much, i really look forward to hearing back from you, sincerely Trena
I have been trying to find more information on my father’s grandparents Dan McCarthy originally of Knockeen, Castleisland Co. Kerry, and Nora McCarthy (nee Quinn) of Divis St. Belfast.

Dan was arrested in Milltown in Kerry in early 1918, as part of the ‘German Plot’, and sent to Crumlin Road Gaol along with other Sinn Fein members including Austin Stack, Ernest Blyth, Fionnan Lynch, Sean Doran and others. While in Crumlin Road, he took part in the famous revolt of Christmas 1918/19 where the prisoners took over the republican wing of the gaol. Here he also met my great grandmother, who was a local girl and member of the Cumann na mBann who used to visit the prison and transport various goods in and out for the prisoners. Nora was also a notorious potin maker. Nora managed to organise Dan’s exit from the prison somehow, and he settled in Belfast for the rest of his life after marrying Nora.
They both regularly took part in Republican commemorations in Belfast and were members of the National Graves Association. I have some interesting photographs and newspaper clippings of some of these commemorations I would be delighted to share with your site. One in particular of a veteran’s march in Belfast in the 1950s with Dan carrying the Tricolour which I am sure was taken on the same day as a similar photo in your photo gallery.

As far as Nora and Dan’s story goes, that is nearly all the information I have. I would be very eager to learn more as to when Dan might have joined the volunteers, if he was involved any further in the struggle in Kerry, if Nora is on the roll of the CnmB etc. They both received Black and Tan medals complete with ‘comrac’ bar so I am assuming that this means that they both would have been eligible for pensions and that there are records available of this. Dan passed away in 1968, Nora in 1971. Nora also received a survivors medal.
The most interesting part of Dan’s story is that I discovered that an autograph book belonging to him sold at an auction in Dublin in 2011 (see link below). This autograph book was compiled around the time of the prison revolt and contains autographs of the other prisoners, including sketches, poems etc. I am presuming that this book would have been confiscated from him in the gaol, as nobody in the family even knew it existed until it turned up in a google search last year. I would love to locate this book if even to have a look at it. Any help finding it would be hugely appreciated.

Slán, Adam O’Leary.

Adam O’Leary
Two historical figures intrigue me, both from north Galway.

Eva O’Flaherty – apparently a great friend of Sean MacDermott, Dr Lynn,

Maire Comerford, Anita MacMahon & Darrell Figgis et al, who was in

Cumann na mBan in 1914 with Louise Gavan Duffy … I know too that

she was very involved in the prisoner’s fund (I don’t have the exact name of

the organisation but I think it was the one that Kathleen Clarke ran) – have

you ever come acrcoss her – Eva O’Flaherty – in your research ?

Michael J McHugh (possibly used the Irish version of his name) – T. Gay

was his commanding officer, he was also born in north Galway and from what

we know was very involved in printing and in Collins’ Intelligence network – have you ever

come across him either in your research ?

With many thanks for the moment,

MJ Murphy. .

Dorothy Berkeley

Website https://
Message Richard Gough from Inchecore Dublin was a volunteer do have any details for me and is there a medal the family are due ?
In 1915 Three companies of Irish Volunteers were established in the southwest corner of Co. Limerick (my local district) by an Antrim man
His name was Ernest Blythe and as a Gaelic scholar, he had fairly good command of teanga na nGael and often used the Irish version
of his name, Ernám de Blaghd. His Irish teacher was Sinnéad Flanagan, future wife of Éanonn de Valera.

One of the Volunteer Companies he founded was in Tournafulla and the #s 1 and 2 men in that unit were the Sheehan brothers, Dave and Batt.
The Sheehans’ uncle Michael who had immigrated to California and was twice elected Sheriff of Sanmateo County. In Feb., 1921, Sheriff
Sheehan made a trip to Ireland, took with him 2 Thompson machine guns and a quantity of ammo for the Cork City IRA Brigade.

I should also mention that the Captain of the Tournafulla IRA Company was U.S.-born Tommy Leahy. In the spring of 1921 he was captured
by B&Ts, taken to Brosna (Kerry), sent to England, tried and was sentenced to be hanged. Leahy feigned illness, taken to the prison
hospital and his execution was postponed …and he survived until July and was saved by the Truce.
Seán Mac Curtáin
I’m sorry to trouble you, but was wondering whether the organisation would be able to assist me. My Great-grandmother’s (Catherine Flynn) grandfather (William Flynn) was allegedly an Irish Volunteer, Cork brigade and signed up 1914. I was just wondering whether there were any more details available such as his birthdate, parents names and where in Cork he was from?

I would be much obliged if you could please give this some consideration and get back to me with any pertinent information.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email and I look forward to hearing from you.


hi I’m looking for information on ballykinlar great-grandfather was charles mcgauley and he was a prisoner there.I know he got nicknamed cookhouse mcgauley in there.any information would be great.

Hi there,

I was just wondering if you could point me in the right direction to get information on my great grandmother Mary Ann (Molly) Devereaux also known as Mrs. Allen.

She fought in the college of Surgeons I believe.

Many thanks,

Tara O’Connor

Irish Volunteers Wynn’s Hotel Dublin Exhibition and Display September 28,2013

Irish Volunteers Wynn’s Hotel Dublin Exhibition and Display September 28,2013

We will be hosting an exhibition and display commemorating the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Irish Volunteers. The Irish Volunteers were instrumental in the rebellion of 1916 and in the Irish War of Independence 1919-1921. We invite all people from Ireland and overseas to attend, whether you have a direct connection or simply have an interest in this pivotal moment in Irish history.

Wynn’s Hotel Dublin,
35 39 Lower Abbey Street, Dublin City, Co. Dublin
28 September 2013, 11:00 – 17:00

Brian Crowley


Information Required IRA members April 16,2013.

Would you please be able to tell me if it is possible to get a copy of the cert for the Oglaig na hEireann that was issued to my grandfarther Joseph Sartini
John Curley
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-My grandfather, David Francis Ryder, was in the Mayo Flying Column. If there are any events involving this group, would you please have them contact me. David Jacob
New Jersey
john. I am looking for details on Moran possibly from prospect who took part in tne hunger strike in wormwood scrubs in 1920. He is my grand uncle.
trying to get any information on my grand uncle Patrick English killed in civil war on 6 or 8 July 1922 outside Mary Willies pub Urlingford .Where would I go to get information civil war?I think his name is on headstone above P Mac Inglir not sure dont know his irish name
I am still trying to seek info about my Uncle,born 1898 James McGovern, Irish Volunteer and IRB member. He was from Fermanagh/ Cavan district near Ballyconnell in Co Cavan. May have been student at at St Patricks College, Drumcondra before becoming involved I have photograph of him in uniform head- up only
F McCann
Could you tell me anything about my first cousin once removed (My dads first cousin) George Gilmore. I met him a couple of times when I was very young, but don’t know much about him, I would love someone to tell me all about him,

I notice in your list of names he’s not mentioned, why is this?

I look forward to hearing from someone that knew him as to what sort of man he was. and where I could buy some of his poems, writtings ,and paintings, and I beleive he wrote plays, but I can’t find any of these anywhere.

Please help me.

Conor kelleher Dear sir or madam
I am looking for some information for my mother n law regarding her father his name was John o Mahoney from Pearce rd ballyphehane cork city. His daughter Margaret is my mother n law she has told me he was a volunteer back in the old days and I was wondering if you had any pictures or anything with his name on it that I cd show to her. His nick name was drummer Mahoney if it helps. She is 72 years old now I just thought I try do something nice for her, regards Conor
Peter Hi
I am writing a paper for Skerries Historical Society on the Skerries Fire Brigade and wondered if Las Fallon could help me with any information on same.
Perhaps you might pass this on to him
Kind Regards
Peter Mc Nally
Robin P Ward Hi,
I am the gggranddau. of Thomas P Masterson, early Fenian active in NYC 1867 to his death. His name is in early Fenian articles, books, etc. Hung around with John Savage, O’Rossa, Thomas Luby, Dennis Phealan etc. Can anyone rec. a source where I might find a record of his death in NYC. He was a shoemaker as well as Recording.Sec. Irish Revolutionary Bro.hood. Please help. Thanks
Graham Hopkins Email Website Message To whom it may concern,

I happened across your website while looking for information on my great grandfather Joseph Hyland and to my surprise came across your picture of “Vol Joe Hyland. Joe was Collins’ personal driver, he also drove the squad on their missions to eliminate agents etc” Joe hyland is my great grandfather and i would like to find out some more information about him. Could you please help me
Margaret Kidney
I also am interested in finding out further information on no 3 , where the soldiers were killed by a mine at .Carrigaphooka bridge near Macroom. Captain Dan O’Brien was my father’s brother.
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-Thomas P Masterson was expelled from the UK/Ireland in late 1867 after about five months in prison, (after the March “Uprising”) though it looks like he was never actually convicted of “Fenianism” or anything else. He arrived in NYC 4 Dec 1867 and took the IRB oath from James Stephens (I think, don’t have my files in front of me.) He was given a letter of recommendation from Daniel Phelan (sp?) and jumped right back back into the movement.

If you have any info. Re his background I would appreciate it if you could either pass it on or point me in the right direction. His father’s name ( we think it is Luke) is the ultimate goal in my research, as it would consolidate research from multiple Masterson family members still trying to figure out all the connections.

I’ve got lots more info on him as well as the IRB members in the 1870-95 timeframe.


Robin P Ward
My Father has a book titled “Dan Breen, my fight for Irish Freedom” long out of print, which was left to him by his father Tommy “Maut” Thompson of Hedleys Bridge, Knocknakoshel, Co Kerry. He had known Dan Breen and corresponded with him until his death in 1966. It was a very detailed summary of his pre civil war exploits and many of the men with whom he fought. I’ll give it another quick read and see what I can find for you as it was very detailed. As a member of the No 2 Kerry Brigade under Humphrey Murphy, My Grandfather took part in the Ballyseedy Trap Mine which killed several Free State Army Officers. Wanted, he went on the run and left Ireland with his pal Taddy O’Connor for Canada in 23′. He went back in 1930 so that he could come back to the US legally. Great stuff isn’t it! Check back in a week or so and I’ll hopefully have some information for you.


I’m currently searching for information and sources for Bloody Sunday 1920.
I noticed a very helpful article on your website about Bloody Sunday, which had an emphasis on the shootings that took place early in the morning, I wonder if you could recommend any sources for such details? I’m eager to find any information, so if you could point me towards useful sources I would greatly appreciate it. Kerrie Costelloe
Can you help me with any information on Charles J Daly Cork No. 1 Brigade 2nd battalion. His date of birth, etc. I believe he resided in the South Douglas Road. Noel O’ Keeffe ——————————————————————————————————————————————————-
Looking for my father history he was in old I R A howth also in pipe band around 2016/17 joseph Lawlor any news out there. Kathleen McCarthy.
Iam seeking information on regards to my relatives in mayo.they would be the sammon/salmons from around murrisk i believe.i am also seeking info on my cousins the mcgreals.both families participated in the ambsh at carrowkennedys in 1921. james patrick salmon
Hi there patrick. I am researching my ancestors time in the I.R.A and National Army, my great grandfather’s family (o’sullivans) were quite actively involved in both the ira and national army and I am aware that we had a relative in ontario canada. Could you tell me if we possibly have a link. Do you know where abouts in Ireland your family are from? Thanks and hope to hear from you soon. kim sullivan
My grandfather was Thomas Kavanagh from Killiney Co. Dublin.
I’m not sure if he was in the Volunteers or another group, but he was heavily involved against the black and tans and maybe the ‘civil war’. The family don’t know much or don’t say. Do you have any records. He died in about 1954. John Dunne
My grand uncle Philip Foley from Kilcurrane, Kenmare, Co. Kerry was in the IRA. He was wanted and escaped from Jail and got to NYC where he lived until he died of cancer in 1966. Are there any records on the volunteers? I am curious what more I can learn about him. Dr. Mary Foley Mc Inerney
If possible I wish to contact James Langton or someone who could aid me in identifying the year a certificate was issued to the me, there is one on Edward Bennets page that my granddad has, his is numbered 112 the number is not scanned in on Mr Bennets. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Kind Regards
Janice Nolan
Dear Sir
My name is Michael O’ Sullivan and I am currently completing a postgraduate course. I am writing my dissertation on commemorative practice in the Pearse Street Area. I would like to inquire if you have any commemorative booklets, photographs etc from any commemorative events that you organised since your foundation. Anything associated with the 1966 commemoration of the 1916 Rising would be particularly useful. If any of your members would be open to the idea of me interviewing them about said commemorative practices I would greatly appreciate if you would ask them on my behalf. Could you please contact me at your earliest convenience at the above email address. Yours Sincerly Michael O’ Sullivan
My Great-Grandfather was part of the first Fianna Eireann Ard Fheis, Mansion House 1910. I was wondering if you would have any information on him? His name is John Clarke. In the photo he is 2 places to the right of Countess Markievicz. John Clarke.
But your email notice has prompted me to ask if there exists any nominal rolls of members of the Irish Volunteers in the period 1910 – 1916.

My understanding is that my late father, John McCullagh of Caum, Killanardrish but then residing and working in Cork City, was one of those members of the IV who responded to John Redmond’s exhortations and joined the British Army to “fight for small nations” and served with the RAMC at a field hospital in Salonica.

I wonder if it is possible to establish his service record with the Volunteers? Any information, suggestions or leads you can give me will be appreciated.

John F. McCullagh
Skillman, New Jersey
I’m looking to find graves of volunteers in galway city with a view to cleaning and maintaining them.Do you know how i would find out about getting any info?Thanks, pete coyne.
A chaiade,:
Go raibh míle maith agaibh as an bhfáisnéis thabhachtach seo.
Tógadh in Iarthar Luinnighe mé agus bhí aithe agam ar bheirt dheartáreacha a bhi ins na Volunters.
The Sheehan brothers Dave and Batt were the # 1 and #2 men in the Tournafulla Volunteer Company,
which was organized by a Presbyterian Ulsterman and Gaeilgeoir, Ernest Blythe.
Their O/C Tommy Leahy was born in the U.S. and raised in Tournafula. In the spring on 1921, he was captured with a rifle in his
possession, taken to England and sentenced to hang. But the Truce in July saved Leahy from his would-be executioner.
The previous February an uncle of the Sheehan brothers visited his old homestead in Garravane townland while vacationing
from his job as SHERIFF of San Mateo County Calif. Soon after Sheriff Mike Sheehan arrived in Cobh,
v he presented the Cork City Brigade with a Thompson machine gun
Resistance to British occupation was probably fiercer in Cork that in any of OUR 32 COUNTIES. At least 10 Cork I.R.A. Volunteers
were executed, including TOM MULCAHY, who was one of the four young patriots to face firing squads in Cork on 28th April, 1921.
Volunteer Muhcahy was only 18 years and 4 months when he paid the ultimate price for the freedom of Ireland,
an tír uile agus gach roinn di. None of these noble patriots died to uphold Partition.
Stephen Ehrling , Recently, I came upon my Uncle Thomas Clarke’s obituary when he died Sep 7th, 1959 in New York, USA. Besides the normal obituary placed the the family, their was a second immediately following the family ad. In part it read as follows:
Clarke, Thomas Sean. Oglaigh na h-Eireann regrets to announce the death of it’s member. Thomas Clark. Native of County cavan and a member of B Company, 4th Battalian, 3rd Northern Brigade IRA…….
It was signed by James McNamara, Pres. and Thomas Rochford, Secy.
I’ve been trying to obtain to obtain information regarding his military tenure and the two individuals who signed this obituary to no avail. CAn you provide me any information or point me in the right direction.

Thanking you in advance, Stephen Ehrling

I’m doing research for the 1913 Irish volunteer relating to an An Post.

We’re desperately looking to locate an accurate / impressive photograph that depicts the foundation of the 1913 Irish volunteers from 1913. Something that may also be licensed for reproduction. We don’t have a working historian on the project so our knowledge is a little troublesome.

Would anyone know if such a photo could exist or what the nearest iconic photograph during that year would be.

I’m aware that photography was in it’s infancy during this period so if anyone could talk to me about such high expectation, that would also great! The more info the better. Tim
any information on Capt Michael Danford shot 1922 thank you,,,Patrick J. Danford
wondered if anybody heard of Thomas O’Reilly, ( my great grandfather), he served with 1st and 5th batallion carlow brigade
noel mc evoy
Looking for information on my family. My family Horgan had several brothers who might have been volunteers in Limerick please email. Some of their name Ned Horgan,Luke Horgan Michael Horgan And Patrick Horgan.,,,michael horgan
Dear Sirs, On the road through Knockalougha nr Knocknagoshel co Kerry, there is a monument to a fallen volunteer. I have viewed it on google maps, but am unable to zoom in close enough to read the inscriptions. I have been unable to find any records of the monument online. Do you know where I might look for information, or might you have any information concerning this monument?
Kindest Regards Paula Turner
Hello, I’m trying to find out about my grandad Joseph McDonnell who fought with the ira i believe around 1920’s or earlier. I am told he was involved by my family but he wasn’t one to talk about it and I was to young to listen. He never received a pension because of some reason not known, but he was given a military funeral on his passing.
He was from kincon in co mayo and was born in 1898. I am wondering is there anyway I can find out more information on him or if this is a common problem . Paul ruddy
Brian Carroll ,,, My late father, William Carroll [1901-1980] joined the Boys Section, ICA in April 1917. Is there any record confirming his service and the types of activities in which he was engaged? Thank you.”
Kieron Heath ,,,Message my mother was born in Castlefield, Dundrum opposite what is now the Dundrum House Hotel. My mum’s name was Sarah Mary Ryan, daughter of John Ryan and Jane Ryan (nee Carew) from Bishopswood. My mum’s uncle, Michael Ryan, was killed during the war of 1919-1921. I am trying to find out exactly what happened to my great uncle -Michael. I would be grateful for any help you can provide.
This an identical uniform of my great grand father William dillon of Belfast n Ireland he was 18 years old his wife was Sarah Thomson if any one knows more of him please contact me. Thanks for this ray of family hope. Barbara jean burger .
Hi there,
I am trying to find out more about my grandfather who was a volunteer. I know very little of his history as he died before I was born and he only had four daughters who where never informed of his story. He was an Ennis man, and was interned but I dont know when or where. His name was Michael (miko) Scallan. Im not sure where to start so any help from yourselves would be great.
Thank you in advance
Hi I am looking for information on my grandfather Hugh (Goff) Kelleher from the Townland of Gurranacoppal, (right near the Bell pub.) Clondrohid near Macroom. He was born in 1897 and was from a farming family his father was Daniel Kelleher and he had an uncle Michael Kelleher who was blind. His sister was Julia Kelleher. I do know from my uncle that he shot an English Sargeant (my uncle did tell me the shot man’s name but I cannot remember it.) Can anyone tell me which division would cover Macroom and Clondrahid. I remember my grandad talking about the Black and Tans burning houses in the area. If anyone could provide me with more information about the volunteers and their activities in this area, I would be very grateful. Johanna Kelleher
Stephen McSweeney ,,,,Message hello , i am looking for information about my great grandfather. my father recently said he had the military salute performed by Tom Barry at his funeral. is there a reference list i could see % see if it gives refernce to his being a volunteer? he lived in the Macroom area.
thanks for reading
chris wilson ,, Message i wonder could you please help. I am looking for information on a great great uncle of mine Peader Clancy. he was murdered in Dublin castle along with Dick Mckee and Connor Clunes. I hope you help.
I am seeking info on Old IRA Belfast, especially “A” Company 3rd Battalion. I have just acquired records from PRONI on an arrest of my grandfather Eneas McGibbon along with a Peter Cosgrove, 5 July 1922. Unfortunate for Eneas but fortunate for his daughter and grandchildren is that he was raided by the RIC and his pocket book identified him as IRA Belfast “A” Company 3rd Battalion. This was a gift to us who suspected Eneas was a fighter for the Republic but until this month no one knew definitively! I have been researching his life for 6 years. I have several arrest records for him, all having to do with fighting for Irish Independence. His was born in Mayfair St Belfast and lived at Parkview St. Are their lists of any kind for the old IRA? I have not seen one photo of his company. Does any one have knowledge of when this company would have been formed? What Division (if any) would A Company 3rd Battalion be a part of ? Any info is greatly appreciated! Catherine B
Hi, I am trying to find information about my grandfather, Edward O’reilly, we have a cert which tells us he was with “H Company 1st batallion Dublin Brigade” the dates on the cert are 1917-1923. Along the side of the cert it tells us of events he was involved in. “the customs house” “capel street” “Kings inn” and the attempted escape of Kevin Barry, The names signed on the cert are, Seamus Kavanagh,, Thomas Byrne, Patrick Holahan and Oscar Traynor. thanks for your help..Noel Mc Evoy
Am doing some research regarding my paternal grandfather, Thomas A. O’Connor, born April 1900 Dublin, died April 1949, Brooklyn, NY. He served as an IRA section commander of Company B, 1st Battalion of the Dublin Brigade (1916-1923).. Would like to learn of his actions, and/or any awards/medals he earned to educate myself and my son. My father (born 1941) was to receive his father’s IRA medals upon his dad’s death, but the medals were sadly lost. It would be great to find these for him before he passes someday.
Warm regards,
Rory O’Connor
Maribeth Nolan ,,, Message I am trying to find documentation for my grandfather, John J. Nolan, who we have always believed was involved in the war for independence. He was an Irish tenor who performed via the Walter McNally Opera comapny. He was called Shaun O’Farrell. Can you direct me to any resources I might be able to check?
Thank you,
Maribeth Nolan
John Kelleher ,, I am looking for biographical information regarding Tom Kelleher, his date of birth, parents’ names, and place of birth. Can you direct me to a resource for this information? Thank you.
Olivia Elayne Murray ,, I’m trying to find ancestors of Hurley’ involved in the 1916 Uprising from Cork’ thank you s very much’ O.E.Murray’ from Vancouver Canada
Joe Burns ,, Seeking information on Jack McCavanagh or McKavanagh from Lurgan Co Armagh. Have medal but no information.
I am researching my uncle’s Thomas Fyans’ activities whilst he was in Old IRA in D Company of the 1st battalion, Dublin Brigade from 1917, with active service from
1919 onwards. Later, according he was a member of the Criminal Investigations Department in Oriel House. Can you advise addresses to write to or websites to investigate? regards M P Byrne
kevin nyhan ,, Im looking for info on my grandfather who I believe worked for the british forces in ireland in the 1920s as a book keeper in Mallow ,where might i find any records
John Dowling ,,,,, Information on 5th Battalion Engineers Dublin Brigade Old IRA
Steve Ehrling ,, My uncle was Thomas J (Sean) Clarke, He died in New York on Sept 27th, 1959. Recently I became aware that he was a member of B Company, 4th Battalton, 3rd Northern Brigade of the IRA. Family folklore has stated that he spent time in prison during the Irish Rebellion before coming to New York 1925. Can you provide any info on my uncle or point me in the right direction.
I am the great nephew of Charlie Hurley and will arrive in Ireland this week. I want to locate the Roadside memorial at Ballymurphy indicating the location where Charlie Hurley, Brigade O.C. was shot dead. Is there any chance to get a location (GPS)? I am also trying to get the location of the memorial featured here memorializing the Crossbarry Ambush. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated. Thank you. Greg Storch .
Sue Hi, I’m a senior student in Australia and I have a research assignment on the Irish conflicts and it’s difficult because I am the only student who chose this topic. Could anyone please recommend and historians who have opinions on The Anglo-Irish Treaty and Civil War? I need historian opinions to prove/support my hypothesis so any historians thanks. I already have Robert Kee down so any other would be extremely helpful!
Sean Hegarty ,, Hi Might be able to advise
A relative off mind Sean Hegarty was in the GPO in the 1916 rebellion.He raised the flag on the GPO.He is buried in the republican plot in Glasnevin.Died in 1933 was on hunger strick in 1922.Is there any where I could contact to see what medels he received,can you still claim medels or even a cert to confirm he got them..
Port I believe my grt grandfather was a soldier – married in Dublin in 1894 and was listed as a “soldier” – family think he was in the black and tans – unfortunately I dont have a dob for him – only that when he married he was “full age” – I also believe that he was born in England – would I have any way of checking if he did serve? thank you.



The Irish Volunteer Commemorative Organisation is happy to announce an exhibition,  and display on Saturday,March 23, 2013.

This year 2013,marks the anniversary of the foundation of The Irish Volunteers.

The event will take place at the Middle Parish Community Centre,Grattan steet,Cork city.It is centrally located ,public car parking is across the road.

We will be remembering Fianna scout Patrick Hanley, killed in action by the RIC in Cork, 27 Nov. 1920 on on the day,a terrace of houses adjoining the Community centre are named in his honour.

The event is open to the public.

The event opens on Saturday morning at 11. am and ends at 5.00pm.

Entry 5 euro per person.Family 10 euro.Members FREE .(Please bring your membership cards).

Enquiries. Phone Brian: (086) 2517954 .

An exhibition of Irish Volunteer items from 1913 to 1923 will be on display and we will have members on hand to answer any questions from the general public. Members wishing to help on the day , we require 10/12 members , please contact Brian on

Dennis Barry,nephew of Commandant Dennis Barry and author of the Book “The Unknown Commandant” will give a talk.


We request all members to attend.

Please address all enquiries to

or see for details.

October- Info Required IRA members

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

Thank you

John Paul


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Heather Graham (Mrs)

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


Is there anyway of tracing details on volunteers?

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

I hope you may be able to help

Regards Sean

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

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


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



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

regds,    Brendan Keane.

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

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

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

Thank you.

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





The Irish Volunteer Commemorative Organisation happy to announce an exhibition, and display on Saturday October 27, 2012.
The event will take place at the Teachers Club,36 Parnell square,opposite the Garden of Remembrance.The Teachers Club is centrally located and the train and bus stations are within reach.
The event is open to the public.
The event opens on saturday morning at 11. am and ends at 6:00 pm.

Above photo,   The Fianna Convention of 1912,100 years anniversary. The Irish Volunteers Commemorative Organisation will mark the centenary on October 27,2012.

Entry 5 euro per person.Family 10 euro.Members FREE .(Please bring your membership cards).
Special group rates available. Phone John: (086) 395-6642 .
An exhibition of Irish Volunteer items from 1913 to 1923 will be exhibited ,
ON DISPLAY WILL BE MEDALS,UNIFORMS ,DOCUMENTS AND MANY MORE ITEMS FROM THE PERIOD and we will have members on hand to answer any questions from the general public. Members wishing to help on the day , we require 10/12 members , please contact Brian on

Las Fallon will give a talk on his new book

We request all members to attend.

A General meeting of Irish Volunteers members will take place the next day,Sunday, October 28,It will be in Dublin city centre, precise time and location will be announced soon.

Please address all enquiries to or see

Information Required Irish Volunteers 1916 etc

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


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

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


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




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


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


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

John Kenny


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information required on IRA Members

James McGovern
Trying to trace involvement of James McGovern (Co Fermanagh ), student at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra and member of IRB, was very quiet about his past and also very proud of his yellow/black pin and ribbon. I believe he ceased his teacher training and became involved militarly. I think he may have met up with Sergeant Patrick Reilly,RIC who ironically was from his next-door parish in Co Fermanagh. I think their paths may have crossed at the “springing” of Dan Breen and he knew Tom Barry well, I think. but I don’t want to appear to be name-dropping. He finally ended back in Co Fermanagh working as a labourer. Was there a West Cavan Brigade? I came across an exer book recording treasurer’s expenditure in his writing, but it was all very mundane stuff – about groceries bought etc I have his photograph (head only) on a memoriam card in this he is wearing a uniform.
Ref: James McGovern, Aghandisert, Derrylin, Enniskillen, co Fermanagh would have been his home address. No-one living there now (1/4 mile from Fermanagh/Cavan) border. So when partition came it was a very, very bitter pill to swallow at the time. Residents went to bed Irish and woke up British citizens. I remember my mother used to cry about it. I used to know which side of the civil war certain pubs in Ballyconnell were by the hostelries my Uncle James used to visit. I owe it to him to find out what I can so that if necessary I can separate fact from fiction. I think a Hugh McDonald from Belturbet area may have been a volunteer friend of his. They used to have to use “safe houses” and dodge “curfew police” when coming home to see their families. Partition left them “on the run” and forgotten.


James Hannan was born in Belfast around 1875.

Below is an entry in the 1911 census showing that he lived in Bombay Street Belfast, near the Falls Road…

I have attached two pdf documents from the Irish Times archive, showing a incident in Belfast in which he prevented the police from entering a Sinn Fein meeting. He was subsequently imprisoned for this offence.

My grandfather died in Belfast in 1951, so I never knew him (I was born in 1960).

My father let me know that my grandfather was an agent of Michael Collins and lived in Liverpool around 1920 under the assumed name of “Fox”.

He was sent by Michael Collins to Liverpool mainly to get guns for the IRA back in Ireland.

Prior to this he was in prison with Thomas Ashe and was force fed after being involved in the hunger strike around 1917.

The details above are also documented in a book by “Uinseann Mc Eoin”, “The IRA in the Twilight Years”. My father Pat Hannan contributed to this book and there is a chapter in the book dedicated to his account.

I also have attached a image from Padraig O’Ruairc’s book “Revolution” .
This is a photo of released IRA prisoners in Liverpool in 1922 (page 196) .
The man I have circled is the image of my father, so it may be my grandfather.
I am not sure if it is possible to find out who is in the photo?

Liverpool IRA

If you have any advice please let me know.

Thanks again for your help.
Seamus Hannan

Robert “Bobbie” Bonfield
I am looking for information about a distant relative of mine Robert “Bobbie” Bonfield (sometimes incorrectly spelt as Bondfield) who was a member of Na Fianna and graduated to the IRA in 1918 when he would have been about 15 or 16.

Bobbie took the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War and was killed by Free State forces in March 1923.

I can find information about his death, but nothing about his activities in Na Fianna or afterwards in the IRA – would your researches have thrown up his name at all?

Bobbie lived at the family home at 103 Moyne Road, Ranelagh, Dublin 6 if that helps you narrow things down. He was a classmate of CS “Todd” Andrews and may have joined the Volunteers with him as Andrews joined at the same age.

At the time of his death he was a 20 year old dental student in the third year of his studies at UCD.

Any scraps of information that you can give me would be most appreciated


The Irish Volunteer Commemorative Organisation is happy to announce an exhibition, lecture and display over 2 days on Saturday and Sunday, March 3rd and 4th, 2012.
The event opens each morning at 10:00 am and ends at 6:00 pm.
The event will take place at the Best Western Perys Hotel (Formerly Glentworth Hotel), Glentworth Street, Limerick City. Tel (+353) 61 413822
The Hotel is centrally located and the train and bus stations are only 500 yards away. Parking is available.

The Glenwoth Hotel 1919-1922
An exhibition of Irish Volunteer items from 1913 to 1923 will be on display and we will have members on hand to answer any questions from the general public.
The lecture will be given by well known historian & author Tom Toomey, author of the excellent book “The War of Independence in Limerick 1912-1921”.
Entry will be 5 euro per person and 10 euro per family.
Special group rates available. Phone John: (086) 395-6642 or Garry (086) 873-1497.
Please address all enquiries to or see for details.

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

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

Rosalie Popick

Diarmuid & Patrick McCarthy CORK IRA VOLUNTEERS

CORK IRA Volunteer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pádraig McCarthy

Information Required on IRA members etc

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

Joe Mathews

The Civic Guard

John Peterson has sent in some photos of the Irish Civic Guard.
One of the guard is hiscousin Sean Doherty’s Dad , who’s service was in Limerick. Thanks for the great photo’s John.

Irish civic guard

Irish civic guard

Joseph (Joe) Traynor IRA Volunteer, Information required

My Mother’s brother, (uncle) Joseph (Joe) Traynor lived in Ballymount, Clondalkin, and was a Volunteer with ‘F’ Company, 4th Battalion, No 1 Dublin Brigade during the late 19’teens’.  I would welcome any information about his ‘Volunteering’ activities to include a historical note I am writing about him.

Joe was captain of the “Young Emmets” GAA football club based in nearby Fox & Geese on the Naas Road.  He attended the infamous Tipperary-Dublin match in Croke Park on 21st November 1920, later to be known as ‘Bloody Sunday’.   Joe Traynor was unfortunately one of the 13 people to be shot dead on that day, having been shot twice at the canal end of Croke Park as he tried to make his escape with many others over the wall at that end.

Joe was a good friend of a PJ Ryan, with whom he attended the match on Bloody Sunday, and who was also a member of the ‘F’ Company.  It was PJ Ryan who had to bring the tragic news of his death to Joe’s parents in Ballymount later on that Sunday evening.

Any scraps of information would be gratefully received.

For your information I am attaching a photo of Joe.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Michael Nelson.



joe traynor IRA Irish Volunteer


Michael Collins Sliabh na mBan Armoured Car Restoration and refit

Short time lapse video of the restoration of the Rolls Royce Armoured Car ‘Sliabh na mBan’. This historic car was part of Gen Michael Collins’ convoy at the Beal na Blath ambush where he was mortally wounded in 1922. Sliabh na mBan was renovated in the Combined Vehicle Based Workshops in the Defence Forces Training Centre, Curragh.
Courtesy of the Irish Defence Forces Cavalry Corps.
The last known photograph of Collins alive was taken as he made his way through Bandon, Co Cork,in the back of an army vehicle. He is pictured outside White’s Hotel (now Munster Arms) on 22 August 1922. On the road to Bandon,, at the village of Beal na mBlath(Irish, “the Mouth of Flowers”), Collins’ column stopped to ask directions. However the man whom they asked, Dinny Long, was also a member of the local Anti-Treaty IRA.

An ambush was then prepared for the convoy when it made its return journey back to Cork city. They knew Collins would return by the same route as the two other roads from Bandon to Cork had been rendered impassable by Republicans. The ambush party, commanded by Liam Deasy had mostly dispersed to a nearby pub by 8:00 p.m., when Collins and his men returned to Béal na mBlath but the remaining five ambushers on the scene opened fire on Collins’s convoy. The ambushers had laid a mine on the scene, which could have killed many more people in Collins’s party, but they had disconnected it by the time the firing broke out.

Collins was killed in the subsequent gun battle, which lasted about 20 minutes, from 8:00 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. He was the only fatality. He had ordered his convoy to stop and return fire, instead of choosing the safer option of driving on in his touring car or transferring to the safety of the accompanying armoured car,(sliabh na mBan) as his companion, Emmet Dalton, had wished. He was killed while exchanging rifle fire with the ambushers. Under the cover of the armoured car, Collins’s body was loaded into the touring car and driven back to Cork.  For more on the ambush at Beal na Blath see

Seán Collins beside the coffin of his brother Michael Collins

Information Required Laois Volunteers & third northern brigade of the irish volunteers

I am trying to get information on my grandfathers service in the Irish Volunteers 1918-1921. His name was Jack Rice from Laois. He later served in the Garda. Thanks

Brian O’Connell


I am trying to find service records for James (seamus) rice of markethill, Armagh, who said he was with the third northern brigade of the irish volunteers. He came to the US sometime in the 20’s after being in a british prison. I am interested in any possible info.

Thank you,

jerry ryan

Irish Volunteers, Information required

My father, Paddy (Patrick Joseph) McCarthy, who died in 1972, had a medal for service in ‘A1 (University College Cork) Company, 2nd Battalion, Cork I Brigade, Oglaigh na hEireann (IRA) during the three months which ended on 11th July, 1921. His familiy was from Skibbereen. He was a student of engineering at UCC at the time. Is there some way I can find out a bit more about his life during that period?
Go raibh maith agat.  Padraig McCarthy.

Babe Donegan was actually a woman in Cumann na nBan.Mary Donegan i think was her propper name from the Midleton area in Co Cork.Date of birth & thing’s i honestly don’t have a clue.Just the other day i received her uniform’s badge & medal. Any info?

Le dea-mhein,
Slan mo chara.


Here is the photo. As I mentioned, his name was Daniel McGlinchy and was from Donegal.  I have also have a transcribed copy of a book of poems he wrote. The first page says (in case this information helps):

Irish Volunteer Donegal ? Daniel McGlinchey

The Pikemen of Erinn

Song Book

Songs, Recitations, and Poems of the Gael

Dedicated to and in loving memory

of the Brave Boys of Easter Week, 1916


Descriptive Sketch


The Banners of Erinn

shown as

cover sketch


Donnaill Magloinsechain

(Adjutant I.V.  Anne St – Glasford)


Any information you might have on date, or whatever, would be much appreciated!

Thank you,



I am researching the history of D coy 1st Batt, I.R.A.1916.My grandfather William O’Dea served under the command of Seán Heuston along with 11 others took over the Mendicity Institute,Dublin on 24/4/16.Are there any records of these men before and after Easter Week 1916?I have heard they were sent to Kilmainham and that W O’Dea was imprisoned in Portland and Lewes.Are prison records available?    Éamon Ó Deagha.

——————————————————————————————hi there can you tell me who gave the medals for fianna 50th
year, and were i would find this list. regards
diarmuid gannon

——————————————————————————————I am looking for a good biography of Michael collins can you recommend one .Thanks.   Stephen Sullivan


I am looking for records of my grandfather Joseph Michael Curran, from the 3rd Btt.Dublin Brigade born July 29th ,1876, died Aug.21,1957 .

brenda forster



FRANK BUSTEED IRA Vice-Commandant, 6th Battalion, 1st Cork Brigade

The account below is by Brian O’ Donchu, Frank Busteeds grandson,  can anyone ,especially our North American members, tell us more about Frank Busteeds time in North America?? or give a point in the direction of where this information may be obtained. We await your replies, thanks for you time.
FRANK  BUSTEED(1898-1974)
Vice-Commandant, 6th Battalion, 1st Cork Brigade
(Commandant -Flying Column)
Frank Busteed was born at Kilmuraheen, Doughcloyne, Cork on 23rd Sept , 1898, but grew up in Blarney.
He was somewhat unusual for a Flying Column Commandant in that  his backround was not typical, being of mixed faith.His father Sam was Church of Ireland and of strong Unionist backround, while  his mother Norah(Condon-Maher) was Catholic and of a strong Nationalist backround.
Sam died in 1900 when Frank was two years, and so he grew up in the Nationalist tradition of his mother.
However he maintained close family ties with Protestant relations throughout the War of Independence , and afterwards.
Two of his four brothers were brought up in  the Unionist tradition at Kilmuraheen by his paternal grandmother -Margaret Busteed, and joined the British Army, were mentioned in dispatches during World War 1, and one(Jack) later was stationed in Blarney during the period 1919-22.
He himself claimed to be Atheist.
He joined the Fianna Eireann, and later The Irish Volunteers, joining thee Blarney Company(in 1919 the company was into the 6th Battallion, 1st Cork Brigade), and in 1920 was appointed Vice Commandant of the 6th(and Commandant of the Flying Column ,attached) with Jackie O ‘ Leary as Commandant of battalion.
He was involved in many a maneuvre with the battallion , and flying-column in the period 1920-22–including the blowing-up of Blarney Barracks , the capture of Major Geoffrey Compton Smith, Dripsey Ambush as well as countless more.He was also involved in Intelligence gathering, and served as a judge in the Republican Courts from 1920-923.
He was the first volunteer in Blarney to own a Lee Enfield riffle(see framed photo in exhibition)., in 1919.
He was a well read man, and learnt Irish during the war period (regretting that it was not on the school curiculum when he attended).
He refused to accept the Treaty, and continued fighting in Cork, Waterford & Limerick, eventually leaving Ireland for 1924-first to Boston, and later settling in New York.
Here he trained in the Ice-Cutting business, starting a company with three partners (who had also arrived in America after the Civil War.
He met his future wife in New York -Anne Marren, an English lady , whose father came from Mayo .
They had seven children in all, 6 surviving (1 died an infant)–three born in USA, one in England , and 3 later , in Ireland
In 1935 Frank returned to Ireland , starting his own family business, and among other things became involved in the developement of the Fianna Fail cumans in Cork City.
In 1941 he was commissioned to the Irish Army as a Lieutenant. He remained in the army until 1946, and though recommended by his commanding officer for the rank Captain, he left to deal with family business committments.
He remained involved in  politics, canvassing in local , and national elections(see photo with Pres DeValera in exhibit )
He and his wife attended the reopening of Cork City Hall , in Sept 1936(burnt in 1920 during the burning of Cork City by the Auxilliaries & Black &Tans)
In the 1950’s he  was appointed Manager of the Passage West Labour Exchange-retiring from this position (ironically this is where his father’d ancestors first settled in Ireland in the mid 17th century) .
In 1974 (just before his death)…the book EXECUTION (based on events around The Dripsey Ambush) was published.
He featured in a number of other books on the period 1919-24.
Brian O’ Donoghue(Grandson)

Information required on Irish Volunteers Youghal Cork

Information required on Irish Volunteers Youghal Cork,please see below,,any help appreciated.

irish volunteers youghal, Cork Brigade

Irish Volunteer Commemorative Organisation Memorabilia on Display

This post comes courtesy of the Irish Volunteers commemorative organisation,

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

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

Richard Mulcahy

Richard James Mulcahy (Irish: Risteárd Séamus Ó Maolchatha) (10 May 1886 – 16 December 1971) was an Irish politician, army general and commander in chief, leader of Fine Gael and Cabinet Minister. He fought in the 1916 Easter Rising, served as Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army during the War of Independence and was commander of the pro-treaty forces in the Irish civil war.

General Richard Mulcahy, became chief of staff after the death of Michael Collins

Early life and 1916 rising
Richard (Dick) Mulcahy was born in Manor Street, Waterford in 1886. He was educated at Mount Sion Christian Brothers School and later in Thurles, County Tipperary, where his father was the postmaster. One of his grandmothers was a Quaker who was disowned by her wealthy family for marrying a Roman Catholic. He joined the Post Office (engineering dept) in 1902 and worked in Thurles, Bantry, Wexford and Dublin. Mulcahy joined the Irish Volunteers at the time of their formation in 1913 and was also a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Gaelic League.
He was second-in-command to Thomas Ashe (who would later die on hunger strike) in an encounter with the armed Royal Irish Constabulary at Ashbourne, County Meath during the Easter Rising in 1916. In his recent account of the Rising Charles Townsend principally credits Mulcahy with the defeat of the RIC at Ashbourne for conceiving and leading a flanking movement on the RIC column that had engaged with the Irish Volunteers. Arrested after the rising he was interned at Knutsford and at the Frongoch internment camp in Wales until his release on the 24 December 1916.
War of Independence and Civil War
Upon his release he immediately rejoined the republican movement and became commandant of The Dublin Brigade of the Irish Volunteers. Elected to the First Dáil in the 1918 general election for Dublin Clontarf, he was named Minister for Defence in the new (alternative) government and later Assistant Minister for Defence. In March 1919 he became IRA chief of staff, a position he held until January 1922.
He and Michael Collins were largely responsible for directing the military campaign against the British during the War of Independence. During this period of upheaval in 1919 he married Mary Josephine (Min) Ryan, sister of Dr. James Ryan and sister of Kate and Phyllis Ryan, successive wives of Seán T. O’Kelly, two men who would later be members of Fianna Fáil governments.
Mulcahy supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and became commander of the military forces of the Provisional Government during the subsequent Civil War.
He earned notoriety amongst anti-treaty supporters through his order that captured anti-Treaty activists found carrying arms were liable for execution. A total of 77 anti-Treaty prisoners were executed by the Provisional Government. Mulcahy served as Defence Minister in the new Free State government from January 1924 until March 1924, but resigned in protest because of the sacking of the Army Council after criticism by the Executive Council over the handling of the so-called Army Mutiny — when Irish Army some veteran War of Independence officers almost revolted after Mulcahy demobilised many of them at the end of the Civil War. He re-entered the cabinet as Minister for Local Government and Public Health in 1927.
Post-independence politician
During his period on the backbenches of Dáil Éireann his electoral record fluctuated. He was elected as TD (Teachta Dála) for Dublin North West in the 1921 and 1922 general elections. The following year, in the 1923 election he moved to the Dublin North East constituency, where he was re-elected in four further elections: June 1927, September 1927, 1932 and 1933.
Mulcahy was defeated in the 1937 general election, but secured election to the Seanad Éireann, the upper house of the parliament, on the Administrative Panel. The 2nd Seanad sat for less than two months, and he was elected to the 10th Dáil for Dublin North East in the 1938 election. Defeated again in the election of 1943, he secured election to the 4th Seanad, on the Labour Panel.

General Dick Mulcahy

Leader of Fine Gael
After the resignation of W. T. Cosgrave in 1944, Mulcahy became leader of Fine Gael while still a member of the Seanad. Thomas F. O’Higgins was parliamentary leader of the party in the Dáil at the time. Mulcahy was returned again to the 12th Dáil as TD for Tipperary at the 1944 general election. Mulcahy was faced with the task of reviving a party that had been out of office since 1932.
Facing into his first General Election as party leader, Mulcahy drew up a list of 13 young candidates to contest seats for Fine Gael. Of the eight of these that ran, four were elected. Mulcahy had successfully cast aside the Cosgrave legacy of antipathy to constituency work, traveling the country on an autocycle and succeeding in bringing some new blood into the party. While Fine Gael’s decline had been halted, its future was still in doubt, at least until the non Fianna Fáil parties realised they had won a majority.
Following the 1948 general election, Fianna Fáil finished six seats short of a majority. However, Fianna Fáil was 37 seats ahead of Fine Gael, and conventional wisdom suggested that Fianna Fáil was the only party that could possibly form a government. Just as negotiations got underway, however, Mulcahy realised that if Fine Gael, the Labour Party, the National Labour Party, Clann na Poblachta and Clann na Talmhan banded together, they would have only one seat fewer than Fianna Fáil–and that if they could get support from seven independents, they would be able to form a government. He played a leading role in persuading the other parties to put aside their differences and join forces to consign Eamon de Valera to the opposition benches.
Mulcahy initially had the inside track to becoming Taoiseach in such a government. However, Mulcahy was not acceptable to Clann na Poblachta’s leader, Seán MacBride. Many Irish Republicans had never forgiven him for his role in the Civil War executions carried out under the Cosgrave government. Without Clann na Poblachta, the other parties would have had 57 seats between them – 17 seats short of a majority in the 147 seat Dáil. However, according to Mulcahy, it was Labour leader William Norton who suggested another person as Taoiseach. There is no documentary evidence to confirm that MacBride and his party refused to serve under Mulcahy, although Norton may have been influenced by MacBride. In any event, Mulcahy stepped aside and encouraged his party colleague Attorney General John A. Costello to take the post of Taoiseach. From then on, Costello served as parliamentary leader of Fine Gael while Mulcahy remained nominal leader of the party.
Mulcahy went on to serve as Minister for Education from 1948 until 1951. Another coalition government came to power at the 1954 election, with Mulcahy once again stepping aside to become Minister for Education in the Second Inter-Party Government. The government fell in 1957, but Mulcahy remained as Fine Gael leader until October 1959. In October 1960 he told his Tipperary constituents that he did not intend to contest the next election.
His son, named Risteárd Mulcahy, was for many years a cardiologist in Dublin. His daughter Neilli designed the uniforms for Aer Lingus in 1962.
Richard Mulcahy died in Dublin on 16 December 1971, at the age of 85 from natural causes.

William Oman, Irish Citizen Army, Information required

I am currently researching the role my family played between the Easter Rising and the end of the Civil War. My great-grandfather was William Oman, Irish Citizen Army. He played ‘The Last Post’ after Pearse’s speech at the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa and sounded the ‘Fall-In’ at Liberty Hall on Easter Monday Morning 1916. He went on to fight in with the City Hall Garrison, Jacob’s Factory Garrison and College of Surgeon’s Garrison. He was in ‘G’ Company 1st Battalion, Dublin IRA. I have his witness statement from the MIlitary Archives. His brother George was also in the I.C.A and was in the G.P.O/Imperial Hotel area for the Rising. Their uncle Robert ‘Bob’ Oman was in the Four Courts area for the Rising and was a Captain in the IRA in the same company as William during the War of Independence. Have you ever come across any information on these three individuals? Any help is greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards,


Daniel Brett McNally IRA Tipperary

In reference to :

Thanks. I have named my son, Daniel Brett McNally, since Sean Brett is a relative. Do you have any more details about these three individuals memorilised there in Mullinahone? I hope to visit Poulecapple and Mullinahone next year with my daughters. My grandparents are from Poulecapple. I look forward to our visit this next year in 2012, about August or so. I am not sure I am emailing to, but, have a nice day and thanks again for the info. My daughter loves and does Irish dancing. Sleep well. Charles.

in reference to :

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

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

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


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

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

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

Document and Scrapbook collection here :

By Admin:

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

William (Bill) Deegan Dublin Brigade of the IRA.Information required.

Hi there, My grandfather William (Bill) Deegan was a member of the Dublin Brigade of the IRA. He died on 13 January 1946 and is buried in Glasnevin. I have received information that says he fought at the Four Courts under deValera. Any info you may have on him would be a great help.
Many thanks, Terry

Tom Conway, O/C Communications, from Tipperary No. 3 Brigade, Information Required,

Looking for information on my grandfather, Tom Conway, O/C Communications, from Tipperary No. 3 Brigade, shot & captured, then went to U.S. in 1925. to best of knowledge. any info would be appreciated – see page 197 of Florence O’Donoghue book “No Other Law” the story of Liam Lynch and the IRA. 1916 – 1923

IRA Volunteers Fermoy or Kilworth.

I am researching my grandfather Mick Greehy, Paddy Greehy and Johnny(jack) Greehy . I have two black an tan medals I got from my grandmother several years ago but she never told me who the were awarded to. I have heard that Mick and Jack greehy were in the IRA but i have no proof. There was a company in Fermoy under Bill Power and then Liam Lynch, there was also a company in Araglin/Kilworth. Is there anyway I acn get lists if members from1919-22.
Your’s Sincerely
Michael Kearney.

William Crowley, of Kilmihil, Co. Clare. Hunger Striker

Trying to find info on my grandfather, William Crowley, of Kilmihil, Co. Clare.  He was involved and did a 29-day huger strike after capture sometime after 1920?  He was deported to the US in 1926 or 1927.  Any information would be grand.

British Military Operations in Ireland-House of Commons Debate June 1921

Courtesy hansard.millbanksystems
1 June 1921 → Commons Sitting → ORDERS OF THE DAY.
HC Deb 01 June 1921 vol 142 cc1153-98 1153
Major-General SEELY I beg to move, “That this House do now adjourn.”
I move the Adjournment of the House to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the failure of His Majesty’s Government to issue orders prohibiting the destruction of houses or buildings in Ireland except where necessary on purely military grounds, and the urgent necessity for putting a stop to such actions as the burning of Tincurry House, County Tipperary, on 15th May, The issue which I put to the House to-night is quite clear and definite, and has not been discussed by the House before. As will be seen, we raise here no question of the conduct of troops. There is no allegation here that the Regular troops, Auxiliaries or police have acted with lack of discipline. On the contrary, as will be seen from the concrete case which I shall put before the House, the troops throughout acted strictly in accordance with orders, and if I may use the phrase of so lamentable an occurrence, in an entirely proper manner. We raise two issues to-night. I can conceive that when the case is put, the great majority will support the view we express. We say, first, that His Majesty’s 1154 Government have failed to issue orders in accordance with the general principles laid down by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary in various answers to questions and various speeches in this House, namely, that there shall be no destruction of the homes of the people except on purely military grounds—that is to say, either when a house is used as cover for an ambush, or when the residents of the house may reasonably be supposed to be participators in the outrages which we so much deplore. Although that is the policy of my right hon. Friend, he does not see his way to issue definite orders to that effect, and one can gather from certain answers he has given that the view taken is that this must be left to the military authorities in a martial law area. That is the first point we definitely challenge. On a matter of high policy—there can be no higher policy than this—the Chief Secretary must be supreme, and so long as this House supports him his will in matters of high policy like this must be law.
The second point we challenge is the actual method adopted, namely, the destruction of people’s homes, presumably by way of reprisal, but in the absence of the incriminating reasons to which I have referred. As to the responsibility of the Chief Secretary to this House and his bounden duty to see that his policy and not the policy of anyone else is carried out, everyone here who cares for our method of constitutional government will 1155 be disposed to agree that the last word must rest with the Chief Secretary responsible to this House. He cannot shelter himself, and I trust he will not shelter himself, behind the supposed necessity of listening to the advice of anyone, whether soldier, policeman, or civilian in Ireland, who wishes to pursue a different policy. The second point is that we challenge the policy of the burning of people’s homes except for purely military necessities. The phrase I have used is, I think, a fair transcript of the policy of my right hon. Friend, as I understand it. It means that homes are to be destroyed only where a house is used as cover for an ambush or where the residents may reasonably be supposed to be parties to an outrage. The hon. and gallant Member opposite (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness), who, I under-stand, will second this Motion, holds the view that instead of “or” we should say “and” in the Motion. It will no doubt be urged that constantly the houses of loyalists will be destroyed because they will be deliberately used by our enemies as fortresses from which to fire, with a view to the houses being burnt down. My hon. and gallant Friend will develop that case. I will come to the concrete case on which I rest this Motion.
There is resident in Derbyshire a man whom I know very well and whom everyone knows, a Dr. Tobin, who has been a magistrate for about 20 years, who is universally respected, and who, for more years than I care to count, has been the foremost medical man in the central part of Derbyshire. I say all this to show that such a man may be reasonably supposed, and certainly supposed, to tell one nothing but the truth. I will read to the House his account of what took place, and as will be seen it is only one of many similar occurrences on the same day. I know the House will be shocked. This Dr. Tobin is the brother of a man who lived in Tincurry House. His brother is now dead and there remain the widow and a young daughter of 13 years. There were two nephews living there before the War. They both joined up as loyal subjects soon after the outbreak of war. One, a lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps, was shot down in an aerial combat at Ypres; the other, an officer in the Royal Navy, was drowned in the operations at Gallipoli, while serving with His Majesty’s Ship “Triumph.” There were in the 1156 house at the time of the occurrence I shall describe, only Dr. Tobin’s sister-in-law and her little daughter. Two other children were at school. This is what happened. Dr. Tobin writes: Our old house and home in Ireland was blown up by the military on Saturday last, the 14th May, 1921—Tincurry House, Cahir, Co. Tipperary. It was an old country house, pre-Cromwellian, with additions and alterations from time to time. You can see it marked on any of the old ordnance maps. It was in occupation of my brother’s widow and her youngest daughter, 13 years of age. My brother died about 3 years ago. My brother’s two other children, 15 and 16½ years of age respectively, are away at school, one, a girl, in England, and the boy, 15 years of age, in Dublin. They, of course, go to the old home for school holidays only. No occupants of the house except the widow, Mrs. Marion Tobin, and her daughter, Eva, 13 years of age, and the servants. The widow writes me that on Saturday last the military arrived and gave her an hour’s notice to clear out her family, that the house was to be demolished. No furniture to be removed, only sufficient clothing, etc. No reasons given—nothing incriminating found, nor ever had been, though the house and plate had been searched and raided a dozen times or more night and day during the last 12 months or so. Before placing the bombs the house and all its rooms were thoroughly searched, and every article of furniture was smashed with picks and hatchets. The beds and bedroom furniture, as well as all the old mahogany chests, were all broken into matchwood. The new bathroom and bath and its basins, etc., were broken to bits. In fact, everything in the house upstairs and down was broken with picks and hatchets, so that nothing could possibly be saved or restored. Having thoroughly completed this wreckage, then the bombs were placed in the principal rooms and fired, and the dear old house and home blown to the four winds of heaven. Meanwhile, the widow and her little daughter, Eva Tobin, stood on the lawn as grim witnesses, carefully surrounded by the armed forces of the Crown. Incidentally this was also the home of my two nephews, who were killed in France and Gallipoli during the Great War. It seems that on the same day, 14th May, 11 other houses were demolished in the same beautiful valley of the Galtees, but none of them was as old or as big as Tincurry House—not that such a comparison is of the least consequence. In fact, it only goes to show how cruelly impartial and haphazard military reprisals are in Ireland. Then he proceeds to refer to the demeanour of the troops. He says they said it was a shame to treat the widow and the child in such a manner, and he goes on to say that when the deed was done the soldiers were exhausted for want of food and begged the widow to give them some, which she did. She and her 1157 servants made tea for them in the kitchen, and gave them a good feed. The house of this poor lady and her little daughter was deprived of its furniture and its contents, these were smashed and it was then blown up. It cannot be alleged that this lady or her daughter were participants in any outrage. It would seem unlikely that the home of two officers who fell fighting for us in the Great War would be the home of participants in outrages. It could not be used for the purposes of an ambush on the roadside, because I understand it is not on the road. What reason can be given for this action I do not know, but whatever reason may be given, I ask this House to say that such proceedings as these are wrong.
On the general question of these formal reprisals, I do ask the House to say that they wish to put an end definitely to this kind of thing. Whatever anybody else may say, this House should say: “This thing must stop,” and for more than one reason. The first reason, and the lower reason, is that it is so idle and inexpedient. It is very obvious that those on what may be called the loyal side of this matter, offer an incomparably bigger target. From the lower point of view it is foolish to take such steps as this, because brutal crimes have been committed, when the other side can burn down houses which are of so much more value—except, of course, from the sentimental point of view, to those immediately concerned. It is foolish for another and more important reason. Everybody must have been shocked this morning—and as one occupying an official position in Hampshire and having a close association with Hampshire, I was particularly shocked—at the news of the frightful crime by which the Hampshire Regiment, marching peace-fully along the road with its band, was blown up, and unfortunate bandsmen, some of them only little boys, blown to bits and many wounded. These are dreadful crimes which we reprobate, and to stop which we will help in every possible way. But are these crimes not made easier, instead of more difficult, by this kind of thing? In the first place, you must set more and more of the in-habitants against you by such procedure. The people, in what is here called the beautiful valley of the Galtees—and it 1158 is a most beautiful valley—may not have been all of one political view, but the great majority must have been on our side in reprobating murder. One can well imagine the bitterness of seeing one’s home destroyed, and by doing such acts you turn many of these people from being supporters of law and order, whatever their political views may be, towards the other side. Furthermore, and this is a view that will be shared in by many experienced soldiers, while troops are engaged on acts of this kind, they are necessarily withdrawn from their real duty, which should be to try to track down the assassin by every means known to the skilful and resourceful soldier. There is another aspect of this. Who is it orders these reprisals?
Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS Not this House, anyway.
Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK Who ordered the torture of the prisoners the other day?
Major-General SEELY I should be glad if hon. Members would stick to this one point of who orders such reprisals as this. Other questions are contentious. I have taken the opposite side to many of my hon. Friends on the question of the behaviour of the troops, but this particular question I believe is one on which Members of the House on both sides will be of one mind. I repeat the question: Who orders these reprisals? There are two authorities and I know they do not pursue identical policies. I know in matters of this kind one favours one way and the other favours another. One commands the troops and the other commands the police. There is no proper co-ordination between them. Unless my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary boldly says what is the policy to be carried out, he shall merely be regarded as the servant of both of these in carrying out this detestable policy at the behest of one of them or some other policy at the behest of the other. We want this question of authority made defintely plain if we are to avoid disastrous effects. We want one supreme civilian head, responsible to this House, and under him we want a man who will loyally obey his orders and who will be himself supreme over others. We want to know by whom different policies are authorised in the same area with these deplorable consequences. It may be said 1159 by somebody that while the destruction of property is very sad, it is nothing compared with the destruction of life. That is not quite true. It is a strange thing, but it is true that there are many people who love their homes even better than their lives, and when you seek to destroy people’s homes you cut deep down into vital things in human thought with consequences more far-reaching than you can deal with. I can prove this to the House from my own experience. This same policy was adopted for a brief period during the South African War. I happened to be there at the time when the farm-burning policy began. It lasted a very short time, for the almost unanimous opinion of all thoughtful soldiers, and certainly of the soldiers at the front condemned it, and it was abandoned.
§Colonel P. WILLIAMS And the present Prime Minister helped to kill it.
Major-General SEELY While it was going on, I happened to be there and with many others of the officers and men protested against it. We were more anxious than anybody to defeat our enemies if only for the sordid reason of getting home. But when in the course of an attack on a commando we burned down a house, and it was supposed that we were burning down the house of the man we were attacking, he, as a matter of fact, was very likely some determined free-booter from Cape Colony and probably nobody laughed more then he did when he saw the house go up to the sky, well knowing that probably it belonged to a sympathiser with our cause. The same thing is happening in Ireland. Do you suppose these brutal assassins who blew up the Hampshire Regiment cared one scrap for the burning of Tincurry House, the residence of these two officers who were killed on our side in the War? No; but I am quite sure they will go to Mrs. Tobin. I have no doubt they have gone to her and said to her, “You see what comes of being on the English side. You allowed your men protectors to go off to the War. You are proud that one should be an officer in the British Navy and the other an officer in the British Flying Corps, and they both get killed in fighting for their cause. What do you get for it? They come and burn your house down and blow your 400-years-old house to smithereens.” It is a foolish policy. The 1160 soldiers in South Africa protested against such a policy, but when that war was over, and when the task of reconciliation began, when all those who had been most bitter against each other were trying to come to an agreement, when great men like General Botha and Lord Milner were trying to repair the ravages of the war and bring back the South African Dutch to friendship with us, and to form, as we ultimately did, a South African Union under the British flag, what was the principal difficulty? General Botha told me himself, in the presence of my Liberal colleague of that day—and I have no doubt he must have told Conservative ex-Cabinet Ministers; in fact, I know he did—he said to me, “My chief difficulty in bringing about reconciliation, the difficulty that met me at every turn, the difficulty that at all stages and even at the very last nearly wrecked the scheme, was the bitterness of the men whose houses had been burned.”
Is not that a lesson for us here? Ought we not now at once to say from this House that this foolish and wrong policy of destroying people’s homes that they love for any reason short of the direst necessity shall be put a stop to? We hear a great deal of the hostility even now to an approach to better things in Ireland. I know there are forces at work, unexpected forces, which may bring about a reconciliation between what are after all two very brave and determined nations. Surely the first and the best step we can take, if there be any chance of reconciliation, is to say now, as from this House of Commons, and with the support of my right hon. Friend, “We will take charge of this; whatever else may be done, whatever it may be necessary to do, to track down assassins and prevent brutal murders and outrages which we all deplore, we will respect the homes of the Irish people and thus give an earnest of our intentions, that one day we may be reconciled with Ireland.”
Lieut.-Colonel W. GUINNESS I beg to second the Motion. I think everyone who has the interests of Ireland at heart must be grateful to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for having brought this matter forward in the very temperate speech to which we have just listened, and if as a result of this Debate he can get some improvement in the military administration and greater wisdom in the 1161 action that the military authorities are now taking, I think he will be able to congratulate himself on having done work of enormous benefit to both countries. My hon. Friends and I have long urged that the suicidal contest of authority in Ireland between the civil and military powers should come to an end, and I listened to no part of the right hon. Gentleman’s speech with greater pleasure than to the words which he said on that matter and in favour of the whole of the responsibility for operations against the rebels in Ireland being put under one military guidance, but I am not going to elaborate that question now, because our views are very well known already. I want rather to deal with the smaller question of the burnings which have been taking place all over Ireland, and for which both sides are responsible. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that burnings might be right during military operations and where the owner or the occupant of the house might be reasonably suspected of being in sympathy with Sinn Fein—I am not quite sure of his exact words.
§Major-General SEELY Participators in outrages.
Lieut. – Colonel GUINNESS While there is no doubt that if a house is being occupied by people ambushing the troops of the Crown, the troops must be allowed to destroy that house if necessary during the action, I do not agree with the view that once the action is over the troops should be allowed to destroy even a house from which they have been fired at. If the action is finished there is no reason to have recourse to these violent methods. If there is just suspicion against the owner or occupier of the house, why not bring him before a court-martial and deal with him after hearing his case? If you do not discourage the troops from burning down houses after an action is over, you play into the hands of the Sinn Fein habit of selecting loyalist houses, the houses of men whom they are fighting, taking them aside and threatening them with violence if they make the slightest attempt to communicate with the Crown forces, knowing that by choosing such a house they are going a good way to work to get it destroyed by the friends of those who own it. I cannot give chapter and verse for that kind of case, but I can 1162 say that I have been told by officers in the Auxiliary Division that that is what happens, and they themselves, though they admit that in some cases it is necessary to destroy a house during the fighting, do not agree with the policy of burning a house down afterwards as a lesson to the population.
Now I come to the other case, where the right hon. Gentleman had, I think, the whole House with him, and that is where the house is burned down on the orders of the competent military authority in vengeance for some outrage upon the Crown forces. I think that is not only unjust, but most ineffective. It is absolutely repugnant, to anyone who is familiar with the conditions of British justice, that anyone should be punished unheard. The burning of property in this way is a very serious penalty, and, however anxious those who advise the competent military authority may be to select the right houses, it is inevitable that there must be mistakes. There is so much terrorism in Ireland to-day that I defy anybody to know which way the man who does not take an active part in politics on one side or the other really sympathises with. He dare not express his opinions, and how are the police, or whoever advise the competent military authority as to which houses are suitable to be burned down, to gauge the criminality of the owner? Of course, the military authorities probably take the line that this is a sound military method. I do not believe it is. As any soldier knew in the last War, it needs no military knowledge to inflict damage on the enemy if you do not care about the cost. A soldier must count the cost of his operation, and this particular government in Ireland is costing far more to your friends than it is to your enemies, and for that reason it seems to me absolutely suicidal. I do not think I can do better than read a letter which I got from a very well-known loyalist in the County of Cork: Can you do nothing to get the authorised military reprisals stopped? They are doing no good, and an infinity of harm; e.g., last Saturday night ‘Convamore,’ Lord Listowel’s house; ‘Ballywalter,’ Mr. Penrose Welsted’s, and ‘Rockmills,’ Mr. C. D. Oliver’s, all within a few miles of Castletownroche, in the Fermoy Military District, were burnt, I understand, as a counter-reprisal to the burning by the military of Sinn Fein houses in the neighbourhood. The Sinn Feiners have said so. The soldiers burn a cottage worth, perhaps, £300, and the Sinn 1163 Feiners retaliate by burning a house worth £50,000. I do not think £100,000 would pay for ‘Convamore’ and its contents. If the military reprisals go on, there will soon be no loyalists’ house left. The authorities do not appear to understand the state of the country even now. Soldiers expect country people to help them to bring criminals to justice. Under present conditions, this is too stupid. Everyone is terrorised. The Government can protect no one. If a man is even suspected of having given any information to the police, he is shot by the Sinn Feiners and labelled ‘spy.’ He adds as a postscript: I see that Listowel has applied for £150,000 compensation, and that a military proclamation has been posted about Fermoy that if the burning of loyalists’ houses is repeated, more than two Sinn Feiners’ houses for each will be destroyed. What is the good of destroying two houses, worth £300 apiece, which perhaps belong to a loyalist landlord, as vengeance for burning down a house worth £100,000? My friend adds: This will be regarded as mere bluff, which it is, and do more harm than good. I think it is mere bluff, because the other side in this matter hold the bigger cards. They can burn down houses which this House has to pay for, or else see the owner put to permanent loss, and the burning down of Sinn Feiners’ houses really inflicts no proportionate penalty upon the other side. There is another case which happened last week. Mr. Ebenezer Pike, of Kilcrenagh, County Cork, was on Thursday midnight awakened by people knocking up the house, and men came in and said he could have a quarter of an hour to clear out and take anything he liked. He is an old man. He was living with his daughter, and was so bewildered that, even if he had had more time, I do not suppose he could have taken all the valuable things away with him. Anyhow he lost both his house and all the valuables which it contained. He asked them why they were burning his house, as he had taken no part one way or the other, and he was told his house was to be burnt down as a reprisal for houses burnt down by the troops. He was then locked in the stable with his daughter, and when let out his house was in ruins. The competent military authority can do nothing to prevent such cases. It is they who order these reprisals, and I submit it is absolutely monstrous to go on with this policy, unless you are prepared to secure that it does not 1164 do more harm to your friends than it does to those against whom it is directed.
I say the competent military authority cannot protect loyalists’ houses, judging by their extraordinary performance last week in Dublin. They were not able to protect even the Customs House. I believe the competent military authority only a short time ago removed the guard from the Customs House, and it has not yet been explained in this House what induced them to pursue that fatuous policy. There had been a long controversy about that guard. They tried, I believe, to get the Auxiliaries to do it, but naturally the Auxiliaries are not a suitable kind of force to undertake work of that kind, and, finally, the military did find a small guard. They then proceeded to withdraw this guard altogether, with the result that the most important building, from the point of view of Government records, was burnt down in broad daylight. I agree it is a building which cannot be replaced. We have heard a lot about that, but we have not heard about the almost more valuable records and papers which perished in that building. If that happens in Dublin, where there are troops, and where there is a competent military authority on the spot, what must happen in the country districts to which I have referred? The competent military authority, who orders this kind of proceeding, perhaps bases his action on psychological grounds. If so, it shows a singular ignorance of Irish mentality.
This policy is driving the few friends this country had in Ireland into the arms of Sinn Fein. It is causing intense bitterness in the eyes of every man who has kept neutral, and it is causing disgust and fear among your friends. During the present nightmare everybody feels that whichever side he takes he has got an equal chance of having his house burnt down, but he knows that when this nightmare comes to an end, if he takes part against Sinn Fein, then when that party comes to govern the country, he is more likely to suffer. Therefore, it is only human nature if these unprotected men go over day by day and join the ranks of Sinn Fein. I say it is absolutely unfair to put this work upon your troops. My Noble Friend (Earl Winterton) was present when Auxiliary officers in Dublin in high command told us they detested this policy, that there was nothing their men 1165 disliked more than to get orders from the competent military authority to burn, in cold blood, houses, and turn out their occupants. I have given the right hon. Gentleman the reasons—one on the high ground of principle, and the other on the lower ground of expediency—why this policy should be stopped, and I hope he will choose either or both of them. I believe the right hon. Gentleman cannot know really what is going on.
Mr. MOSLEY Oh, yes he does!
Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS I believe these orders must come on the decision of soldiers, who are guided only by the military expediency of the moment, and are thinking only in terms of force. They seem to forget that the country has got to be lived in after the Government has pacified it. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to bring this policy to an end, and while punishing murder to cease to inflict these penalties which, apart from causing senseless loss to the community, are stirring up bitterness in Ireland which will not die out in our lifetime.
Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK The speeches which have just been made are a remarkable testimony to the blundering and brutality of the Government’s rule in Ireland. The speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ilkeston (Major-General Seely), gives a very good instance of the crowning folly of the Government. Though I am deeply and bitterly opposed to the policy of His Majesty’s Government, I do not wish to approach this subject to-night in a violent or controversial spirit. I rise merely for the few moments I desire to address the House to beg the House and the Government to reflect whether there is any good to be obtained by the pursuance of a policy which has been pursued for the last two years. Take this question of burnings. What good really does the right hon. Gentleman think he is doing by burning the houses of people who, for all he knows, are perfectly innocent? Does he really think he is discouraging the rebels? Does he think he is detaching one single rebel from the Irish Republican Army? Does he think he is cowing the Irish people into submission? Is he not rather encouraging the rebels? Is he not rather adding to their ranks, and increasing the disgust and terror with which his rule is regarded in Ireland? As my hon. and 1166 gallant Friend opposite has said, the people in Ireland are not under the slightest delusion on this head. I was talking only the other day with a distinguished soldier who lives in Ireland, and he told me that for every cabin the right hon. Gentleman burns down the rebels burn down either a country house, or a mansion, or a castle. The only result of the right hon. Gentleman’s competition in arson is that he gets scored off in the end. After all, the burning down of the Dublin Customs House is only the logical outcome of his own competition. May I in all humility ask the House, and the Government, to take stock of where we are, and what we have achieved by our policy? We have got an army in Ireland of over 60,000 men, costing anything from £1,250,000 to £1,500,000. We have a body of police which, I believe, are costing £7,000,000. Property has been destroyed, I believe, to the amount of £5,000,000. You have lives lost to the number of 700 since 1st January. What have you got to show for it all? The right hon. Gentleman himself has confessed that the thing is a failure. The Prime Minister has also confessed that the right hon. Gentleman is a failure. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that a commanding officer, when he is a failure, has to be removed to some other sphere of activity, and somebody else is put in his place. I submit it is high time that that which is a sound rule in military matters should be applied to the office of the right hon. Gentleman. The Prime Minister has announced that he is going to increase the number of soldiers in Ireland. What good is it going to do to increase the number of soldiers? What good has the army of 60,000 done? What has it done for peace?
§ 9.0 P.M.
§Mr. SPEAKER The Noble Lord forgets that in the Motion for the Adjournment of the House we are confined to the definite, urgent, and particular matter raised in it. The Debate was opened by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Ilkeston Division (Major-General Seely), but the Noble Lord must not review the whole field of Irish affairs; he must keep to the question—that of the burnings as set forth in the Motion.
Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK I am sorry I have strayed from the point. What I desire to say is that you are never going to get peace in Ireland by pursuing a policy of arson. The only way to get 1167 peace in Ireland is to do as in this country—to get the goodwill of the people. You will never get the goodwill of the people except you rely upon those principles upon which, at all events before the War, we relied in this country: that is to maintain the majesty of the law, and to promote the happiness and contentment of the people. You will only get peace in Ireland if you rely on those principles which underlie our religion and our great and glorious Empire. You are only going to get peace in Ireland when you have faith in the goodness of humanity and the efficiency and virtues of the principle of self-government. You are only going to get peace in Ireland when you cease your burning down of Irish houses, cease from bullying and knocking the people about, treat the Irish people as human beings, and leave liberty and self-government to do the rest.
The tragic part of the whole of this deplorable situation in Ireland is that the Irish people are asking for nothing more than that which I believe the British people are prepared to give them. They ask for nothing more than we have given the South Africans, the Canadians, and the Australians—that is, to make them a free country and a free people in the British Empire. I agree with the remarkably interesting article written by a very well-known gentleman in the “Round Table” the other day, that the only solution of this problem is to give the Irish people fiscal autonomy. There are, of course, risks in that policy. There are risks in any policy. The risk of the policy you are pursuing is that you have more and more added to the disgrace and dishonour of this country, and to the confusion and anarchy in Ireland. I do beg the Government to pursue a policy which is consistent with the traditions of this great and glorious Empire, and by which we can turn the Irish people, if we like, from rebels into happy and contented members of the British community.
Colonel ASHLEY I am sure the whole House was deeply impressed by the very excellent and moderate speech made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Major-General Seely). Above all they welcomed his speech because he very carefully kept it free from any extravagant utterances and any suspicion of party bias, which, Heaven knows, has been the ruin of Ire- 1168 land. He put before us what I am sure everybody in their heart of hearts agrees with, namely, that we wish to treat our Irish fellow-subjects in the same way, if possible, as people are treated here in England. He also bore truthful witness to the most excellent discipline maintained by the British forces in Ireland. Our soldiers have carried on under tremendous provocation. They have seen their fellow-men shot down from behind hedges, and they have seen them mutilated, and yet with very few exceptions thy have maintained a discipline which has always been characteristic of a British Tommy in all parts of the world. I hope the Chief Secretary will realise that in criticising this aspect of his administration we are not criticising the individual soldier who carries out his orders, but we are criticising simply the fact that such orders are given to him.
Let us be fair to the Chief Secretary and let us put ourselves in his position. The right hon. Gentleman was called to his task at a time when British authority was practically non-existent in Ireland. He had to reconstruct the Royal Irish Constabulary and strongly reinforce the Army. He had to deal with county councils and borough councils who had defied the British Crown, and, indeed, he had in a sense to reconquer Ireland for the British Crown and the British nation. Let us recognise, in justice to the right hon. Gentleman, the very grave difficulties which he has had to face, and also the large measure of success he has met with in his attempts to restore law and order. He has reconstituted the Royal Irish Constabulary, and there are few people who criticise that Constabulary now. Most of the county councils have agreed to acknowledge their authority, and outside the martial law area, generally speaking, in a very large measure law and order has been restored. Let us give credit where credit is due.
May I state why, in my humble opinion, the Chief Secretary and His Majesty’s Government have not more largely succeeded in bringing about a better state of affairs in Ireland? It is because of this policy of reprisals with official sanction. I understand that outside the martial law area reprisals have been abandoned. What is the root trouble of these reprisals in the martial law area? It is that we have not a civilian responsible to this House to direct policy, but 1169 that His Majesty’s Government have deliberately handed over in the martial law area not only executive action, but policy, to soldiers. I do not wish to criticise a distinguished general, but he is trained to do a certain thing in order to win battles, destroy the enemy and the armed forces of his enemy. He has not to consider the consequences of those actions. It may be right to do these things in a foreign country, but it is all wrong to do them in our own country where the people have to live together. This policy of reprisals which is being permitted by the Government to be carried out by the competent military authority is, in my opinion, the reason why my right hon. Friend’s policy has not been more successful, although I know he has worked very hard. As a humble Back Bench Member, may I urge the Government at once to take steps to bring their policy in the martial law area into line with their policy outside, which is that these official reprisals, except under the circumstances named by my right hon. Friend, shall cease at once and cease altogether.
With regard to Ireland, I have connections out there, and I do feel most deeply that we should do all we can to bring about reconciliation in Ireland, and these reprisals are an absolute bar to any idea of reconciliation. They are against all the laws taught us in the Bible; they are against the laws of God and all the laws we have held sacred in this country in the past; they are against all our constitutional practice which has made this country great and has made up our Empire. They have proved themselves to be actually ineffectual, and if a thing is ineffectual you had better scrap it. Last but not least, this policy has given our enemies in foreign countries occasion to say very unpleasant things about this country which certainly have a very sound substratum of truth. After all, this House claims, and always has claimed, to be the controlling authority in this country. I am sure anybody listening to the cheers of hon. Members when they hear these sound principles being laid down must realise that every-body here is unanimous that these things are wrong and must cease. If that is so, may I ask the Chief Secretary to at once see that the competent military authorities in martial law areas shall cease these official reprisals, and if any more 1170 take place let him see that the military authorities in those areas shall at once be removed.
§Earl WINTERTON I am aware that on this question I have very strong feelings, which are not shared by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I do not wish to travel outside the limits which have been set by the right hon. Gentleman in the persuasive speech with which he opened this Debate. May I state here that I regret I was led to use some disorderly expression a short time ago when we were discussing another aspect of this question. The only quarrel I have on this occasion is that the Noble Lord the Member for South Nottingham (Lord H. Cavendish-Bentinck) introduced matter which seemed to me to be somewhat extraneous to this Resolution. I do not know that my views upon the action of the Government in Ireland are of much interest to the House, but I have always been in favour of taking the strongest military action, because the situation is at such a pitch in Ireland that it can only be settled by force of arms. That is my private view. I have always taken the view, and it requires some boldness to put it forward, that certain issues in Ireland can only be decided by force of arms. I do not mean the whole issue as between the Irish people and this country. I am referring to the issue as between those who commit assassination and the armed forces of the Crown. Clearly an immense number of the people of this country agree that the Government have to take military action, but I cannot conceive anything more serious than to have to take military action against any portion of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom.
What is inconceivable to me with my knowledge of the state of affairs is that there should be so much apathy and indifference on the part of this House in the treatment of this question. We have neither the Leader of the House nor the Prime Minister here. It is inconceivable that the Front Bench should be occupied as it is at this moment. Every Member of the Government ought to be present. It is all very well for the Home Secretary to smile. I can assure him that nobody in Ireland smiles at the situation or at the action which the Government has taken there. All over Ireland it will be mentioned that, on the occasion of a 1171 Debate in which there is a remarkable unanimity of opinion on a particular question, neither the Leader of the House nor the Prime Minister attended, and the only contribution made by the Home Secretary was a feeble smile. Those who hold the views I do will agree that if military action is taken it should be sharp, short, and effective. It is intolerable that you should continue to carry on a dragging guerilla warfare. If the right hon. Gentleman’s Chief Secretaryship does not succeed he should give way and make room for someone else, and so, too, should Sir Nevil Macready. How long has this guerilla warfare been going on, and how many more years will it continue before it is brought to an end? So much for the general aspect of the policy.
On the particular question of the burnings I repeat that anyone holding the views I do will demand that military action shall be sharp and effective. Can the right hon. Gentleman maintain for one moment that the burning of Condamore, the property of a family whose loyalty nobody questions, is going to have the slightest effect in stopping assassination? Of course, it will not. I cannot conceive why such action has been taken at all, except on the ground that the military policy of the Government in the South of Ireland has largely failed up to the present. It has failed because we have not sufficiently good leaders. Look at the kind of gentlemen who are supposed to be competent military authorities in the South of Ireland. Some of them would certainly never have commanded a brigade in the War. Some who did so were sent home. Surely the right hon. Gentleman should select for the difficult and delicate task which the troops in Ireland have to undertake the very best men available. There are men like the gallant and distinguished officer in command of the Archangel Expedition. There are men who in the War did difficult and delicate work, quite as difficult and as delicate as anything requiring to be done in Ireland, who might have been chosen. It was absurd to choose such men as have been selected for the work. I know what the usual line of defence of the right hon. Gentleman is, but I want to see our gallant soldiers led by competent leaders and not by men who would be better if sent back 1172 to their comrades at the War Office. You want for this kind of work the very best men possible, and I am sure if you had such men in charge they would not for one moment be in favour of the policy which is being pursued, or, at any rate, they would not carry it out without making strong recommendations to the contrary.
I want to put three questions to the Government. In the first place who gives the orders for individual reprisal burnings? Who, for instance, gave it in the case of the house to which reference has been made this evening? Was it General Strickland? Was it a brigade commander? Was it the colonel in charge of the battalion? Or who was it? It is not necessary for the right hon. Gentleman to mention the actual name of the officer, but we want to know what is the rank of the officer who is responsible for giving the orders.
§Lieut. – Commander KENWORTHY And to what branch of the Service he belongs.
§Earl WINTERTON I do not think that that is important. We know the policy is carried out by the military. I have always refrained from asking questions which, I think, might be mischievous, but I feel it is desirable, in view of what is gong on in the South of Ireland, that we should know exactly under what law or regulation these burnings are carried out. Are they carried out under martial law, or are they carried out under civil law? Is there any process by which the person who owns the property—it is only by the mercy of the Almighty that I own none in the South of Ireland—can protect himself or by which he can claim compensation if he thinks his horse has been improperly burned? Is there any channel through which he can make an appeal? Even in the case of an enemy country, say in the occupied districts of Germany, persons thinking themselves aggrieved by any action of the Allied troops have the fullest opportunity for appeal to some tribunal. Finally, I would like to know, is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to review in any way these burnings after they have been carried out and to consider the effect of them and the reason for them? A most serious charge was made by the last speaker. He said, and it was news to me, 1173 that the Chief Secretary has no control or power over what is done by the constituted military authorities. If that is so, I say frankly it alters my view of the whole subject. I am inclined to think that a larger portion of Ireland may have to be brought under martial law than is at present the case, and if the military authorities are to be made entirely responsible there ought to be some channel by which the Government in this country can be made fully aware of all the circumstances under which reprisals are carried out. That is to say, where there is a case—and I think the House will assent to this—in which there is a question whether there was any reason why a burning should have taken place as, for example, the case mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman who initiated the Debate—the Chief Secretary should have the fullest opportunity at the earliest possible moment of deciding whether the action of the Crown forces in Ireland was justified or not. Seeing that that is not so, he is placed in a very unfortunate position. At Question Time to-day he was subjected by hon. Gentlemen opposite to an attack upon him personally for his administration in Ireland. Quite obviously, if he is not responsible for that administration, it is unfair to attack him, but somebody must be responsible. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will answer that question, and will give us an assurance that in the last resort and quickly, he is responsible, and is in full possession of the facts. I am bound to confess that, if he is fully responsible I think it will require very great parliamentary dexterity on his part, which I know he possesses, to make out a good case for such burnings as those mentioned in the course of this Debate, and for the continuation of those burnings, whether on a smaller or a larger scale, in the South of Ireland.
§Mr. MOSLEY I fear that the Noble Lord was rather more than half way on the road to Damascus before he saw the great light. Things being as they are, however, may I hope that in the near future those of us who have wandered forth into the desert on this subject may have the opportunity of offering him a respectful welcome. A pang of regret inspired me to-night in listening to some of the speeches of hon. Members opposite. I wish we could have commanded such support in October last, when we ven 1174 tured to protest against the sacking of Balbriggan when a whole community was destroyed by the agents of the right hon. Gentleman in the middle of the night, without even the warning that is extended under the system of official reprisals; against a reprisal that resulted in two women in child-birth and four little children suffering from measles perishing in the cold of the fields. I wish that, on that occasion, when we ventured to protest against a policy which far transcends anything mentioned in this Motion, we could have commanded the support of hon. Members. I quite realise, however, that it is inexpedient on this occasion that I should wander into the wider issues raised by such considerations. The right hon. Gentleman will certainly answer one day at the bar of history for these proceedings. I trust he may one day answer before a tribunal of his fellow-countrymen, but I have no wish to raise any controversy beyond the Motion advanced by my right hon. Friend this evening.
Unofficial reprisals, privately inspired and subsequently condoned, we are told, are at an end. To-day we find ourselves in the era of official reprisals. They began, as far as I understand, on the 27th April last, when, in Listowel, a proclamation was posted by the military stating that in future reprisals for any outbreak against the lives and property of officials would be taken against the property of selected persons without proof of their implication in the outrage. That, I understand, is in direct contravention of the right hon. Gentleman’s previous assurances in this House that, in all cases of official reprisals where houses were burned down, there should be at least very good grounds of suspicion that the inhabitants of those houses were actually implicated in the outrages which instituted the reprisals. We now find the right hon. Gentleman quite frankly moulding his policy on the Prussian model. This policy is copied and taken en bloc from the doctrines of the German military writers which were closely pursued by that nation throughout the War. It is the old, well-known system, outlined in the doctrines of Clauswitz and others, of collective punishment. The principle is that if an outrage is committed in the neighbourhood where the troops of a hostile country are billeted, and the inhabitants of that 1175 neighbourhood support and sympathise with the assassins, and consequently information cannot be obtained, an indiscriminate vengeance should be wreaked on the locality and that the sins of the guilty should fall on the innocent in the hope that a blind shot would catch the guilty party and thus discourage potential assassins in the future.
In Belgium, during the War, that system worked. I am dealing with it purely pragmatically; it is no use to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman on any other ground. That system worked in Germany because the Germans were efficient. The right hon. Gentleman is not efficient. If it did not carry such a ghastly tragedy in its wake his administration in Ireland would be the joke of history. The Prussians in Belgium were able to prevent the people travelling from one village to another. The people were segregated, the men were forced to remain in the villages in which they were born, and under the military system of Germany they could not wander about the country. Consequently, if a village were sacked when outrages took place against the Germans, and the outrages had been committed by a Belgian, then that Belgian knew that his own native community would be destroyed, and that probably his own mother, sisters, wife or children would have their house burned over their heads. Consequently he was deterred from committing what were crimes in the eyes of the Germans. Those conditions do not prevail at all in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman is entirely incompetent to prevent Irish assassins travelling from one end of the country to another. They do it at will, as he has assured us over and over again in this House. They are not living in the villages, but on the bogs and in the hills, on the run, and his administration can never get them.
Therefore, what conceivable object is there in this inefficient reproduction of Prussianism? The only effect it can have is once more to give Sinn Fein the propaganda that it needs in America. The news of these acts are cabled to the United States and more money pours into the coffers of Sinn Fein. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Motion that, so far from being deterred by these outrages, the active, militant band of Sinn Fein are delighted 1176 when they see the houses of innocent people burned down. The right hon. Gentleman is merely visiting the spleen of his inefficiency, because he cannot catch the guilty, upon the heads of the innocent. That is the system which the right hon. Gentleman is constituting in Ireland. It is not even an efficient Prussianism. That is the system which has to-day evoked against this country a howl of indignation all over the world, our own Colonies included—a howl of indignation which eclipses the indignation felt against the Germans in regard to their action in Belgium. The right hon. Gentleman has attempted a task which has defeated infinitely greater men than himself. Napoleon attempted a system not nearly so onerous as the right hon. Gentleman’s in Ireland, not nearly so repressive, but the same kind of thing—visiting the sins of the guilty upon the innocent, collective punishment, militarist repression. He tried that in Germany and in Spain, and the national sentiment which he conjured up in those countries was responsible for his downfall in 1814. It broke Napoleon, and it has broken already the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The same system was employed by the Austrians in Italy, and it was entirely responsible for the creation of Italian nationality. Indeed, the only way of creating nationality, in these days of economic internationalism, is by political repression of this sort. The right hon. Gentleman is perpetuating that disastrous, exaggerated, egotistical nationalism in Ireland which is responsible for all our difficulties there to-day. He cannot claim that his administration has been a success. He cannot claim at the best that it is anything but a feeble imitation of his Prussian model. He cannot claim that he has not brought upon the name of this country abroad an execration which will live throughout this generation. He cannot even have the courage to submit the whole question to an impartial tribunal of his fellow-countrymen.
§Mr. CLYNES All of the speeches to which the House has listened in this short Debate have been very brief, and in that I propose to imitate them, but I cannot hope to imitate them in their fervour and in the qualities of eloquent appeal which have distinguished them among most of the speeches that we have heard for a very long time on Irish questions. I cannot 1177 hope, either, that we shall have any proof to-night that the Chief Secretary will have learned anything from the lessons of history. Indeed, had this country been capable of learning anything from the lessons of history in relation to Irish government, we should not now be debating this aspect of the Irish Question which my right hon. Friend has brought before us. I rise mainly to suggest to the Chief Secretary that he should keep faith in his answer to-night with the definite assurance, which he has often repeated, with regard to the discharge of his duties. He has assured the House that he would continue to discharge his duty, as he saw that duty, so long as he should have the support of the House of Commons. There have been some half-dozen speeches since this Debate began, and each one of them has been an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman at least to depart from or reverse one part of his settled military policy in the martial law area. Not a single hon. Member has said a word in support of that policy. On the contrary, every hon. Member who has so far addressed the House has reflected what I am certain is the view of every man who hears this case stated. We put to the right hon. Gentleman the view that this line of trying to govern Ireland is not supported by the House of Commons, and is not in keeping with the collective will of the Members of this House of all parties. It is clear that no one, unless it be, perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman himself, will rise in defence of what is now being done.
If we cannot say anything whatever for a particular line of military action or civil government in Ireland, we ought, at least, to be able to claim for it that it has the support of the majority of this House. Apparently, this particular part or feature of Irish policy has no support here whatever, and I claim that on that ground the Chief Secretary is no longer entitled to continue this method of governing Ireland in the martial law area. There is, perhaps, a stronger reason why it should be discontinued. I can only reinforce the reason which has been so eloquently expressed by the two or three hon. Gentlemen who have preceded me. It is futile and wicked to inflict such severe physical privation and loss upon innocent people. You could, perhaps, justify the wickedness and wrong on the ground that the 1178 end justifies the means, if it could be shown that this plan had been a success. It has not, and, for my part, I hope it will not. But I cannot conceive of any line upon which conduct of this kind on the part of a civilised Government can be excused or defended. Some of us who have expressed ourselves strongly on some features of Irish government have been reproached on occasion with the statement that what we say is an encouragement to the commission of crime and to wrongdoing in Ireland. On the contrary, I believe that the continuance of the methods to which we are now objecting is the most express and assured encouragement that could be given to those who find the justification for their acts in the very act of the Government itself.
Nothing will please the extremists, the rebels, the physical force element in Ireland more than to know that this particular line of Irish policy is to be continued by the British Government. That will strengthen any act of rebellion or reprisal that they may be disposed to take. It is, therefore, not only wrong and unjust to the innocent sufferers, but it strengthens the hands of the rebels who, on the other hand, are being pursued by the right hon. Gentleman with a view to their destruction. I have only risen to associate myself and those for whom I can speak with the expressions of opinion which have been couched in such terms of melancholy with regard to the outlook in Ireland. We are possessed by a feeling of the greatest dejection and bewilderment as to where we are being led. I can recall when, 12 months ago, the right hon. Gentleman joyously expected that after a few months, by a show of military strength or increased police forces, he would be able to claim a success for his policy. He has recently confessed that it is a failure—at least that it is a failure up to a point of time within which he concluded that he would meet with success. Whatever he thinks he may have in store for the broad lines of his policy, he surely cannot hope for any elements of success whatever from the particular line against which this Motion is directed. I ask his attention to the fact that this line of policy is unanimously reprobated and condemned by Members of this House attached to all parties, and, in keeping with his own declarations in his previous speeches, his announcement to the House ought to be that of a depar- 1179 ture from a policy which has been ruinous so far as it has been tried.
§Mr. LANE-MITCHELL I have a feeling that it is imprudent for a new Member who has never before spoken on the Irish Question to intervene in a discussion of this kind, because we have been accustomed so often to hear the same men repeat the same speech that we do not take it seriously. We send a soldier over to Ireland to do our job. I want to know how we are supporting him in doing it. If I had charge of a job of this kind I should select the best man I could get and give him all the force he wanted to do it, and give him all the backing he wanted, and if he did not do it I would clear him out and get someone else. I want the job done. What do I mean by the job? It is not the kind of Parliament Ireland is going to get. It is not a question of self-government. That is not what is before you now. What is before you is that ever since this Parliament came into being you have had rebellion in Ireland, and you have been tinkering with it from one time to another, and every time any force has been sent to put it down you start to weaken the hand that is doing it and do all you can to stop it being brought about.
Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS We want troops to put down murder.
§Mr. LANE-MITCHELL You have all criticised the Government.
§Earl WINTERTON Will the hon. Member allow me to interrupt?
§Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope) The Noble Lord has already spoken. Now we are getting another view.
§Mr. LANE-MITCHELL I am in absolute agreement with the Noble Lord that we have to get on with it and get it done somehow or another. It has been established in the discussion that in the military area the competent military authority is supreme, and he acts on his own authority, independent of the Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman (Major-General Seely) asked definitely whether a specific order was given for a reprisal by the Chief Secretary. I have gathered that the Chief Secretary never gives an order for reprisals. It comes from the com- 1180 petent military authority, the man who was sent there to do the job, who in the exercise of his judgment does it in a particular way. Outside the military area the Chief Secretary has been ruthlessly putting down any attempt at reprisals. If that is the position what more do you want? The House has a right to say that until we get law and order restored in Ireland every man of right mind ought to support the military authority over there in getting the job done.
§Lord EUSTACE PERCy In rising to address the House for the first time I should, perhaps, apologise for intervening in a Debate on so serious a question, but after the speech to which we have just listened I feel especially that some reply is needed and that perhaps a reply will come not unfittingly from someone who has just had to fight an election and has been elected as a supporter of the Government. In my election address I strongly supported the necessity of holding up the hands of the Government in enforcing the authority of the Crown in Ireland, and I am perfectly prepared to trust the man chosen by this House to enforce law and order in Ireland. But I also said in my election address that it was absolutely necessary to have unity of command. I do not understand how the right of this House to inquire into the facts, which we are now doing, can be put off by a kind of House-that-Jack-Built policy, that because the Chief Secretary has appointed some-one else who has appointed someone else to be responsible for a particular area, therefore we must not ask the Chief Secretary for an explanation or hold him responsible for what occurs in that area. If I may give my impression of what the actual feeling in this country is at present about the situation in Ireland, a very humble impression gathered only from a somewhat recent experience, I have always found very little support in the country for the extreme view of the moral obliquity of the Government. Still less have I found any support for the view of their moral obliquity and indiscipline of the soldiers of the Crown. The position of the Government in regard to this question would have been very much less strong than it is to-day if some of its opponents had not so constantly delivered these extreme attacks upon them.
1181 What I did find was a strong feeling that the administrative system of restoring order in Ireland has been incoherent, and therefore weak. It is because 1, and I believe all those who sit near me, are anxious to strengthen the hands of the Government that we ask whether the present system of a divided command in Ireland, as manifested in these reprisals, these burnings of homes, is a system to which the Government can point as a coherent system adapted to the restoration of order, nay, I would put it even as implying a coherent system adapted to bring pressure upon those upon whom you wish to bring pressure. The whole point of repression must always be that it shall proceed with the greatest possible precision, and that therefore those at whom you strike shall know for what offence you have struck and why it is they who are struck and not someone else. If there be anything incoherent or hap-hazard or indiscriminate in the action of a repressive authority, it will not repress, and it is from that point of view that I have intervened to say that if the right hon. Gentleman can convince this House that the system of administration is so conducted, under such centralised control, under such a tight rein, that it can be directed to certain definite ends of repression, then I shall be prepared to support the Government. If, as I fear, it is a question of incoherence of administration, resulting in indiscriminateness of repression, then I think there is only one course before anyone who gave the election pledges which I gave, on the one hand to support the Government in suppressing disorder, and on the other hand to see that the administration for that purpose reaches the highest possible level of efficiency.
§The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Colonel Sir Hamar Greenwood) I congratulate the Noble Lord who has just spoken on his success at the poll, and on taking part in our Debate on a very vital issue such as that raised to-night. I appreciate very much what he has said, and in principle I am absolutely in agreement with him. I appreciate the temperate and effective speech of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Resolution (Major-General Seely). There is nothing in this Resolution, in substance, which I have not already acted upon, or could not accept. Before I deal with the Resolution, however, may I refer 1182 to those hon. Gentlemen who spoke of officers, I think most unfairly. I must make a protest against calling the Competent Military Authority of Dublin an incompetent military authority, and against the suggestion that certain competent officers in the martial law area are not fit for their command. Those officers cannot answer except through me. If they are incompetent they must be removed; but to make an accusation of incompetence, without any proof whatever—
Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS The right hon. Gentleman says that I made an accusation of incompetence without proof. If he can explain why the military guard was withdrawn from the Customs House after many representations and many negotiations had gone on I will gladly withdraw my expression.
§Earl WINTERTON If the right hon. Gentleman will undertake to find out who is responsible for the situation by which a band was blown up in the South of Ireland, and no precaution taken to send an advance guard to look at the road beforehand, I will withdraw my accusation against the competent military authority in the South of Ireland.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§Sir H. GREENWOOD I think these two questions are quite irrelevant to the Resolution, but I will deal with them The Customs House in Dublin had no special guard except the ordinary military and police patrol, for various reasons. In the first place the number of troops in Ireland is so short of requirements that it is impossible to provide guards for all public buildings. That is a military consideration. In the second place it was not considered credible that even the extremist Sinn Feiner would burn this great national possession, namely, the Customs House. They have burned it, and the loss will fall on Ireland and nowhere else. I do not consider in these circumstances that the competent military officer in Dublin can be accused of incompetence. I still say that it is a most unfair slur on an officer who can only speak through me. I am satisfied that he is one of the ablest officers in the British Army. Although there have been many brutal murders in Dublin, including the murder of 12 officers one morning, on November 21st last, so great was the control of that officer over the soldiers and the police under him that 1183 there has never been a reprisal of any shape or kind.
§Lieut. – Commander KENWORTHY Croke Park!
§Sir H. GREENWOOD As to the question of the blowing up of the band and some soldiers of the gallant Hampshire Regiment at Youghal, I can assure the Noble Lord that if it is a test of the competency of the commander at Cork I have no doubt that every precaution was made to find out whether the way was clear for the advance of the battalion that was marching towards the rifle butts, and I do not think it is a sign of incompetency in a General Officer if a concealed mine is exploded by an electric wire, running from a battery 60 or 70 yards away from the road. I do not think that is a sign of an incompetent officer.
§Earl WINTERTON Was there an advanced guard?
§Major-General Sir NEWTON MOORE They would not have found it if there had been.
§Sir H. GREENWOOD I have no doubt that the regiment was marching according to rule in an area such as Youghal. I have no evidence to the contrary. With reference to the officers of the police and the military, I am responsible for them and their conduct, and I am sure the House will agree with me that if things are wrong I must take the blame, which I do cheerfully, and I am proud of it. [HON. MEMBERS: “Oh!”] Yes, and on balance the record of these men in Ireland will shine brightly in the history of this country. That brings me to a very important point of principle raised by the right hon. Gentleman, namely: “Is the Chief Secretary responsible for everything that goes on in Ireland?” He is. Let there be no doubt about that. I am responsible. In the normal way when a part of a country is under martial law the officer commanding is the sole authority and is responsible to the Secretary of State for War, but in this case I am responsible. Let there be no doubt about that. Therefore, if any military or other officer is incompetent it is my business to dismiss him, and if the House feels strongly that anyone is not competent and is not dismissed they must vent their displeasure on me. I think that is the 1184 proper constitutional position. It adds to my difficulties, but it is essential that the Chief Secretary should speak for the whole of Ireland, of which he is the representative in this House.
On the point of unity of command in the martial law area there is absolute unity of command under the senior officer, General Sir Peter Strickland. He has absolute command over civilians, police, and military. There is no question about that. He can deal with them exactly as he likes, under the proclamation agreed to by the Commander-in-Chief and myself. Of course, all proclamations issued by the Commander-in-Chief are issued in agreement with myself. As to unity of command in the rest of the country that is only possible under martial law. The question of the extension of martial law is frequently before the Government. It may be necessary to extend the martial law area. It may not be necessary. We have had two Parliaments elected in Ireland since we last had an Irish Debate. That is an historical constitutional event. The authority given under the Government of Ireland Act will soon, I hope, pass to the two Parliaments in Ireland. The Ulster Parliament has been elected, and will be constituted in a very short time and will operate. It would be impossible to extend martial law to that area without the consent of that Parliament. I still hope that the Southern Parliament will meet and operate. At any rate, it is our business to give them the opportunity to do so. If they fail to take advantage of that opportunity and assume responsibility for the good government of Ireland, a new set of circumstances arise, and the Government must simply in these circumstances apply all the remedies in their possession. So when we are pressed for unity of command and drastic measures, while I appreciate the feelings of hon. and right hon. Members they must remember that we have the political remedy in Ireland and we must give that remedy an opportunity to operate.
§Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK There is nothing to prevent you stopping burning down houses.
§Sir H. GREENWOOD The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) asked who gives the order for official reprisals in the martial law area. 1185 The answer is no officer below the rank of Brigade Commander.
§Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY On whose advice?
§Sir H. GREENWOOD He acts on the advice of those serving under him.
§Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY Is not the actual advice as to whose houses are to be burned given by the Intelligence Department? Is that a military department or a civil department?
§Sir H. GREENWOOD He must get his advice where he can, and will only act On it when he is convinced that it is good. Every military area has its Intelligence staff, but who are the particular person or persons on whose advice the Brigade Commander will act it is impossible to say. The second question is—is there any review of the what are called official reprisals by the Commander-in-Chief and by myself? There is a review of them. They are treated as most serious and abnormal acts, and I must say here if there is any case where innocent persons have suffered by reason of the orders given by a Brigade Commander I certainly would consider that that was a case for compensation out of the Exchequer.
§Captain W. BENN For loss of life?
§Sir H. GREENWOOD As far as you can compensate for that by money. That is the one irrevocable thing; but the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows that life is not involved in what we are considering to-night. The report goes at once from the Brigade Commander to the Divisional Commander in Cork. From that commander it is sent on to General Head-quarters in Dublin, to the General Officer Commanding in Dublin, General Sir Nevil Macready. He and I are in daily contact when we are in Ireland together, and we are in constant contact when I am here and he is in Ireland.
§Earl WINTERTON Are these reprisals taken under martial law or under the ordinary law—the Restoration of Order Act?
§Sir H. GREENWOOD I will develop that as I go on. I am dealing with reprisals in the martial law area. The Resolution before the House is to move the adjournment to call attention to a, definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the failure of the military 1186 authorities to issue orders prohibiting the destruction of houses and buildings by Crown forces in Ireland, except where necessary on purely military grounds. There is nothing in the substance of that which I do not accept. Orders have been issued to servants of the Crown and I shall read an Order which was issued to the police and agreed to by myself not recently but on 4th December last year: There have been recently large numbers of reports of arson. While it is by no means clear that this is done by forces of the Crown I wish again to impress on all members of the police force the absolute necessity for stopping burnings, whatever the provocation. The only profitable burnings are the destruction of buildings which have been used to shelter ambushers or from which fire is opened on forces of the Crown. The burning of houses or buildings not directly connected with assassination or attempted assassination is indefensible. I appeal to the police of all ranks to repress all destruction of property in Ireland, even of notorious Sinn Feiners. The force will now fully recognise that the Government is giving them strong support, and I feel sure that they will not wish to embarrass the Government in their very difficult task. I can assure them that incendiarism tends to alienate sympathy of many right thinking and law abiding citizens of the Empire, and does harm to the cause of right for which we are fighting.
§Colonel ASHLEY Does that apply to the martial law area?
§Sir H. GREENWOOD To all Ireland.
§Mr. LUNN How far is that efficacious? Is it not the fact that Cork City was burned down six days after the issue of the Proclamation?
§Sir H. GREENWOOD It is very easy when a country is in a state of rebellion to find exceptions to every rule. I am dealing with the question in the Resolution about the Government failing to issue Orders prohibiting the destruction of houses or buildings. This Order was issued to the police on 4th December last year for the whole of Ireland.
§Major-General SEELY In order that we may not proceed on different lines of thought, does the right hon. Gentleman mean to explain whether this Order of 4th December applies to the martial law area under General Strickland?
§Sir H. GREENWOOD I will deal with that. This Order shows that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is in error when he says that the Government has not issued any Order. The Government has. I have said at this Box time and again, in reference to reprisals, that no 1187 one has tried more strenuously than I have to put them down, and I think that I have succeeded in doing so. [HON. MEMBERS: “Resign!”]
Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS rose—
§Mr. SPEAKER We have had no fewer than eight speeches in criticism of the Government, and it is only fair that the Government should be allowed to put its case without interruption.
Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS May I ask whether this Order did not deal merely with unofficial reprisals, as to which we all recognise the strong action which the right hon. Gentleman has taken, while we are now dealing with official reprisals by order of the competent military authority.
§Mr. SPEAKER Hon. Members should give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity to develop a continuous argument. They all seem to want to get their points in. He should have a chance.
§Sir H. GREENWOOD The Irish Secretary is accustomed to be shot at. I quite understand the keenness with which everybody is using this question, but I am developing it and I will cover all the points that have been raised. I have to repeat that the right hon. Gentleman is wrong in his first hypothesis, namely, that the Government has not dealt with this question by order. This was issued on 4th December of last year. Martial law was imposed upon four counties, I think, on 10th December of last year, and on four further counties in January of this year. In the non-martial law area, which comprises the greater part of Ireland, there have never been official reprisals. Reprisals have never been encouraged or condoned, but have always been condemned, and many people have been severely disciplined because of unofficial reprisals, although the provocation has been almost superhuman. In spite of that—I think I shall carry the whole House with me—reprisals are rare, unofficial reprisals are now rare. Indeed, so rare are they that we may say they never occur in Ireland. If they did occur there would be questions on the Paper every day.
In addition to the Orders, I have myself on more than one occasion summoned all the senior police officers to Dublin 1188 and told each one in turn that I would hold him personally responsible for re-prisals in his particular police area. Splendidly have these gallant men—they are not all there now whom I addressed in this matter, because some of them have been murdered—gallantly have they held their men in check, in spite of murders so awful that no one in this House, to my mind, would face them with the same self-control and discipline, or, rather, I should say with greater self-control and discipline. Martial law was imposed subsequent to this Order because the martial law area was considered, and rightly considered, the most disturbed and rebellious area in Ireland. As soon as you impose martial law you hand over to the Commander-in-Chief absolute control of everybody in that particular area. He and his commanders dislike any form of reprisal as much as the most severe critic of the Government dislikes it, but they have laid down certain rules, military grounds I call them, within which they believe that in certain specified cases and under certain circumstances—there are not many such cases—the destruction of property is justifiable. These are the grounds: In every case where the official punishment is the destruction of a building, that building itself has been used in connection with rebel action, for instance, as the basis from which an ambush was prepared, or the owners have aided and abetted rebels in their campaign of outrage and murder. Those are the grounds drawn up by military men to be applied in these limited and clearly defined cases. It is true, and it must at times happen, that when the local military commander has the best reason for thinking that the occupants of any given house come within these rules, he may be mistaken. Innocent people may suffer and the houses of innocent people may be destroyed. I admit it at once. In a state of rebellion the greatest tragedy of all is that the innocent do suffer. I have told the House I shall try to meet these cases as far as I can. I will go further and say it is open to question whether reprisals generally in a martial law or other area are ever satisfactory in the long run. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has had experience in South Africa, where that policy was tried. I have heard some people say it was successful and I have heard him say it was not. It is open to doubt, but as far as his Motion is con- 1189 cerned, what I have read shows that when reprisals are taken they are taken on necessary and purely military grounds, so that anyone who supports the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will support the policy of the Commander-in-Chief in the martial-law area, who only agrees to reprisals on military grounds.
§Mr. T. P. O’CONNOR Is that the explanation of the burning of Cork?
§Sir H. GREENWOOD No, it is not the explanation.
§Mr. MOSLEY I am very sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman. [HON. MEMBERS: “Order, order!”]
§Mr. SPEAKER The right hon. Gentleman should be allowed to proceed with his speech.
§Mr. MOSLEY I want to challenge him on this point—
§Mr. SPEAKER The hon. Member has spoken already.
§Sir H. GREENWOOD Yes, the hon Member for Harrow (Mr. Mosley) has made a speech. He wished to commit a reprisal on me of the most violent kind by handing me down as standing at the bar of history. But I am now at the bar of the House of Commons, and that is sufficient for the day. I say it is open to question whether reprisals under the strictly limited rule laid down by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Motion are successful or not. On that point let me say this: I am prepared to discuss the question with the Commander-in-Chief and to bring before him what has been said on the subject by undoubted supporters of the Government and of the soldiers and police in their endeavour to put down crime in Ireland, and to go into conference with him on this question. That being so, I am going further than the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. I hope he accepts that on the general principle of reprisals. Let me give the House an idea of what causes these reprisals. They are not done in an indiscriminate and promiscuous way. British generals, colonels, majors, and soldiers do not wander about Ireland like bandits let loose. They are under the strictest discipline. They suffer untold agonies owing to provocative and brutal murders, and a reprisal is only taken in the martial-law area, when no 1190 other remedy seems possible and when the commander of the area thinks it is necessary to meet the ends of justice.
§Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK Why not try Liberal principles for a change? [An HON. MEMBER: “What do you know about them? “]
§Sir H. GREENWOOD This is a most serious matter, and I wish the House to realise what leads up to the few reprisals, under carefully defined military conditions, in the martial-law area. I am going to read one letter, and one letter only, from a very gallant officer, murdered under the most distressing circumstances, and if this document does not touch the heart of everyone here, I am surprised. It is a letter that speaks for itself. It is, from a D.S.O. of the British Army, a man mentioned six times in despatches, murdered at the age of 52, leaving a wife and a little girl, aged three. It is from near Limerick, where he was in the custody of Sinn Feiners who kidnapped him: My own darling little wife,—I am to be shot in an hour’s time. Dearest, your hubby will die with your name on his lips, your face before his eyes, and he will die like an Englishman and a soldier. I cannot tell you, sweetheart, how much it is to me to leave you alone, nor how little to me personally to die. I have no fear, only the utmost, greatest, and tenderest love to you, and my sweet little Anne. I leave my cigarette case to the Regiment, my miniature medals to my father, whom I have implored to befriend you in everything, and my watch to the officer who is executing me, because I believe him to be a gentleman, to mark the fact that I bear him no malice for carrying out what he sincerely believes to be his duty. Good-bye, my darling, my own. Choose from among my things some object which you would particularly keep in memory of me. I believe that my spirit will be in it to love and comfort you. Tender, tender farewells and kisses.—Your own, Geof. That was Major Compton Smith, D.S.O., of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, of Limerick. He is dead, done to death by Sinn Fein murderers. What would we do if we were in his regiment? This is the kind of case that leads to an official reprisal. I want to bring home to the House the difficulties that have to be faced. Here is a regiment on edge; it has seen his letter in the Press or it the regimental headquarters. The brigade commander must say to himself: “How can I show these men that we are trying to track down the assassins of their gallant commander?” In a case of this kind he takes certain houses which come 1191 within the category of reprisals that the Commander-in-Chief has laid down, namely, that they were used as a basis for which an ambush had been prepared or the owners of which had aided and abetted the rebels in their campaign of outrage and murder. In such a case, certain houses are taken. I want the House to understand that that is the kind of case that leads to a reprisal. Whether they are right or not is open to question. The point to remember is, do not judge the conduct of these soldiers in the martial law area from the cool, un-impassioned atmosphere of this House, but judge it by the conflict, the murder, and the mutilations that go on in certain parts of the martial law area. I come to the particular case raised by the right hon. Gentleman who opened this Debate, namely, that of Tincurry House, in Tipperary. He said himself that he supported a reprisal if there were reasonable grounds for thinking the occupants were consorting with the rebels.
§Major-General SEELY The words I used were, that the residents were participating in outrages and murder.
§Sir H. GREENWOOD I misunderstood what the right hon. Gentleman said. He read a letter from Dr. Tobin about the burning of the house. It of course made a great impression upon anyone, but you cannot deal with a case of burning, or any other action of that kind in Ireland as an isolated instance in a law-abiding community. Tipperary, where this burning took place, is one of the most disturbed areas in Ireland, and always has been. It is a common Irish saying that the Tipperary people are descended from Cromwell’s Ironsides, who were disbanded, and married Irish girls, and the descendants are the wild men.
§Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK They were peaceable enough before you came.
§Mr. SPEAKER The Noble Lord has had a full opportunity.
§Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK The right hon. Gentleman has no right — [HON. MEMBERS: “Order!”]
§Mr. SPEAKER Unless the Noble Lord listens as well as speaks he ought not to sit in this House.
§Sir H. GREENWOOD I was not saying anything to cause an interruption.
§Lieut. – Commander KENWORTHY The usual tactless speech.
§Sir H. GREENWOOD I am sorry I have not the tact of the hon. and gallant Member. However, in Tipperary there have been 40 police and soldiers murdered in the last two years, and some six law-abiding citizens have been assassinated. It is a very mountainous part, and it lends itself, therefore, to the peculiar kind of guerilla warfare followed by the Irish Republican Army. That is Tipperary generally. When the right hon. Gentleman referred to the case of Tincurry House, I am bound to say he made, as he always does, a great impression upon me, and I dealt with it at once, through the Commander-in-Chief, who sent a special messenger to Tipperary from Dublin to inquire into the facts. The first letter was so remarkable that I asked for further facts, and I am compelled now to read the official reply I have received from the Commander-in-Chief in reference to Tincurry: I have discovered already that the house is marked ‘Divisional Headquarters, I.R.A.,’ on one of their own maps, and that they have an eye on the butts of the rifle ranges nearby. Tincurry House was destroyed on 14th May, together with several others as punishment for the murder of District Inspector Potter. It was very similar to that of Major Compton-Smith.
Sir T. POLSON May I say that officer was my first cousin?
§Sir H. GREENWOOD The letter goes on to say that they had a strong suspicion that Mrs. Tobin, who had strong Republican sympathies, was suspected of having harboured rebels. That is the official reply of the Commander-in-Chief. His opinion may be wrong. I do not think it is, but it may be. It only shows that in dealing with these Irish questions and disturbed areas like Tipperary, or any military-law area, it is extremely difficult to take the first statement of facts as absolutely correct. It may be that a great blunder has occurred here. It may be, and I promise the right hon. Gentleman that if there has been I will do my best to take into my most sympathetic consideration the question of compensating any innocent sufferer. I cannot do more. I will, however, put it to the House that there was a justifiable suspicion, from what I have read, on which the brigade commander—presum- 1193 ing the official reprisals were right—could fairly act. That is the view of the Commander-in-Chief. It was carried out. The destruction was regrettable, distressing, deplorable, I agree. But it was carried out under discipline. No one was insulted. I am bound to say that the scene described by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman of the hostess entertaining on the lawn the destroyers of her household was a thing that could only happen in Ireland.
§Major-General SEELY The destruction of the house where two lads laid down their lives for us during the War!
§Sir H. GREENWOOD That adds to the tragedy of it. But had the destruction anything to do with the sacrifice of gallant officers! I am giving the House the exact facts as they came to me. I think I have dealt with the various questions that have been raised in the Debate. My submission is that I can accept in substance the Resolution of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, namely, that reprisals should not be carried out except on purely military grounds. I go further, and say that they are not carried out in any form except in the martial-law area, and in that area never carried out except on military grounds. I think I have shown that orders have been issued in reference to reprisals, and have been successful. Let us face realities. Hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway have criticised me very severely, and they are perfectly entitled to do so. One must do the best one can having regard to the political remedy of this House which is applied to Ireland in the face of rebellion in a considerable part of the country. We are faced with that re-bellion. The military have been criticised—I think very unfairly. The police of the Auxiliary Division come in very often for a very great deal of criticism—again, I think, unfairly. What are the facts? Within a few miles of this House there is a sinister and highly-paid rebellion going on, carried on with the object of separating for ever Ireland from the United Kingdom. That object is being carried out by the Irish Republican Army, as it is called. It consists of men who wear no uniform and no distinctive mark; they generally carry concealed weapons as civilians one minute, and they are murderers the next, 1194 contrary to all the laws of civilised warfare. The object of this Irish Republican Army—which is a negligible minority of the Irish people, who would be grateful to the Government if they could rid the country of this terror—is to intimidate this House and the British people into a surrender to Irish independence. I shall never consent to that. The Government will never consent to even argue it. The hope of Ireland, to my mind, is first of all to defeat this Irish Republican Army, and then encourage the coming together of the North and South, which has happily commenced, and leave Ireland to the Irish leaders themselves to settle within the limits defined by the Government. In that way only will you, bring peace to that distracted country and enable the vast majority of the people there to become happy and contented partners with us in the United Kingdom.
§Captain W. BENN I propose to confine myself quite narrowly to the terms of the Adjournment Motion without dealing with the wider issues which the Chief Secretary has opened. I should like to respond to the appeal made by earlier speakers to confine this Debate to a discussion of the policy of burning and reprisals and leave alone the wider issues, upon which I should only excite controversy in the minds of hon. Members. The question is, first, Is the burning of houses a policy which should be pursued by the Government, and is it likely to be successful? The Chief Secretary has told us that he accepts the sub-stance of the Motion which has been moved by the right hon. and gallant Member for Ilkeston (Major-General Seely). It lays down, that reprisals can only be justified on the ground of military necessity.
The Chief Secretary says that is, in effect, the policy which the Government are adopting in Ireland. That is the impression which he is giving us here in the House of Commons, but it is a totally different policy from the one he is pursuing in Ireland and it does not correspond in the least with the policy being carried out in Ireland under his administration. Take quite a recent case a few days ago. There was a Proclamation issued officially by the military in Cork. The Chief Secretary says that the policy of reprisals 1195 is merely the burning of houses as a military operation. This is the Proclamation in Cork: Owing to the burning of the houses of two loyalist farmers, three farm houses of active Sinn Feiners were burned as a military operation. That is not a military operation. [An HON. MEMBER: “Why not?”] Because these houses are not shown to be houses in which military offences were committed. They were not centres of attack. It is simply vengeance. Then the Proclamation goes on: It is intended to carry out further reprisals in that proportion, or if that proportion does not have the desired effect in a greater proportion. Hon. Gentleman cheer that. Exactly. It is to say that if they continue to burn two houses we will burn three, and if that does not stop them we will probably burn six. That is the Proclamation of the military in Cork. The Chief Secretary tells us that the burning of houses is merely to be carried on as a military operation in cases of military necessity. The two statements are in flat contradiction. The Chief Secretary says the reprisals are only carried out as a military necessity. What does he think of this Tralee Proclamation, which states that as a result of the murder of a sergeant certain houses, of which a list is given, were destroyed, and nine houses were bombed. Does this Proclamation square with what the Chief Secretary has told us to-night? The document gives a long list of houses and stores damaged, and it tells further how a woman and her child had a marvellous escape from a bomb which destroyed the piano and ceiling in a room in which they were. I do not desire to read touching instances. Heaven knows there are such instances on both sides. The Chief Secretary has read one of the most touching documents I ever heard in my life. That is the tragedy of it. The policy of the Chief Secretary produces heroes on both sides. [HON. MEMBERS: “No, no!”] The right hon. Gentleman is exciting feeling in this country by reading that letter, but other people in Ireland are exciting feelings of the people there and we are getting no nearer a solution of the problem. [An HON. MEMBER: “They should stop the murders!”] The right hon. Gentleman says that reprisals can only be justified by success. But 1196 he does not pretend that his policy is a success: he has just told us he is unable to carry it out with success because he has not troops enough to do it. The Chief Secretary has led the House to believe that a policy is being carried out in Ireland which, in fact, is not being carried out, and therefore I shall vote for my right hon. Friend’s motion.
§Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question with regard to the burning of the house and grocer’s shop of Mr. Honan, the Chairman of the Ennis Urban Council, as to which we have his own admission. It has been impossible [HON. MEMBERS: “Divide, divide!”]
§Mr. SPEAKER I am afraid the hon. and gallant Member’s habit of interruption makes it difficult for him to obtain a hearing. Might I appeal to hon. Members to allow him to deliver his speech. Perhaps that will teach him to extend the same forbearance to other hon. Members.
§Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY I make no complaint, Sir. I am much obliged for your protection. This man Honan had been in hospital for three weeks—that is the right hon. Gentleman’s own admission. He was a widower, with six children, the eldest of whom was his daughter, aged 13. This man’s shop was blown to atoms as a reprisal by the military authorities, for an ambush and for the very dastardly assassination, which I condemn as heartily as the right hon. Gentleman or any of his supporters, of Sergeant Rew, of the Royal Scots Regiment. I deplore these murders; they make our task increasingly difficult. This man Honan had been in hospital for three weeks before that time, and was in hospital in bed at the time of the blowing up of his shop. His motherless children were in the house. They were bundled out, and the right hon. Gentleman gives, as an excuse, that Mr. Honan was one of the people known as the chief organisers of rebel activities. Yet he was in hospital for three weeks before the ambush. Is there any hon. Gentleman who can justify that? Can the right hon. Gentleman himself justify it? That is my first question.
My second question is in regard to the burnings of the farmhouse of Miss Fitzgerald. Her son served right through the 1197 War. It is in a lonely mountainous district. She protested to the Military Governor that she had no means of preventing an ambush some miles from her farmhouse, but the house of this lonely woman was burned down in revenge for the ambush. The third question is: what justification was there for the destruction of the house belonging to Madge O’Daly? She had gone to Dublin—that is admitted by the military authorities—to visit her doctor, and was far away from the premises when the ambush occurred. In spite of protests, her house was destroyed for military necessities. If that is the policy that the Government have adopted in Ireland, I consider they are damned before the civilised world. We have heard nothing worse than this in the trials of the German War criminals at Leipzig. If hon. Members are prepared to justify war on women and children and widows—[HON. MEMBERS: “Oh, oh!”]—and the destruction of their houses, if they are prepared to encourage the Government then let them vote for the Government. I only hope, however, that Members who were loud in condemning very similar occurrences in Belgium, committed by our enemies during the War, will attempt to make one protest to-night, when the opportunity occurs, against this inhuman and uncivilised action.
§Major-General SEELY I am placed in some difficulty in regard to one thing that has happened during this Debate. My right hon. Friend has said that he accepts the substance of my Motion, which has been almost unanimously supported in this House in the form in which I moved it. Then there is a point with which I was fully conversant before. The right hon. Gentleman’s Order has been quoted in an exactly contrary sense, namely, where two houses will not do, burn four, and where four will not do, burn six. I do not ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he disavows what has been done. No man in his position could do that. But I want to know whether what he has said amounts to a direct condemnation of an Order of that kind, which means indiscriminate reprisal in order to try to stop murder by burning houses. That is a perfectly clear question, and one to which we are entitled to an answer in order to guide us as to how we should vote.
§Sir H. GREENWOOD I should be only too glad to guide my right hon. Friend as to how he should vote. Of course, I condemn indiscriminate burning. I do not believe that it brings to an end this campaign of assassination against the forces of the Crown and law-abiding citizens. I cannot deal across the Table with any particular case that has been raised in Debate, because I shall have to communicate with the military authorities on the spot to get their point of view. My right hon. Friend himself is an ex-Cabinet Minister, and knows that one can only speak with the knowledge supplied by those responsible for carrying out the orders of the Government. But I condemn, and have at this Box again and again condemned, any form of indiscriminate reprisal against houses or any other form of reprisal. The Motion states that reprisals in Ireland should be carried out only in the martial law area under an officer of not lower rank than a brigade commander, on military grounds, and within a certain limited period. That is why I said that I accepted the substance of that part of the Motion of my right hon. Friend.
§Major-General SEELY Could the right hon. Gentleman cancel any Order which appears to conflict with what he has said to-night?
§Sir H. GREENWOOD Of course I could.
§ Question, “That this House do now adjourn,” put, and negatived.
§ 11.0 P.M.
§Mr. T. P. O’CONNOR (seated and covered): On a point of Order. Did not the Chief Secretary declare that he was ready to accept the Motion? Why therefore does he now demand a Division?
§Mr. SPEAKER There is not a Division.
§The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.