FOR ANDY :
The peaceful night that round me flows,
Breaks through your iron prison doors,
Free through the world your spirit goes,
Forbidden hands are clasping yours.
The wind is our confederate,
The night has left her doors ajar,
We meet beyond earth’s barred gate,
Where all the world’s wild Rebels are. (From here.)
ON THIS DATE (27TH JANUARY) 98 YEARS AGO : TWO IRA PRISONERS EXECUTED BY FREE STATE ADMINISTRATION.
The execution of Offaly IRA Volunteers Joseph Byrne and Patrick Geraghty : JOSEPH BYRNE, from Cruith, Daingean, and Rochfordbridge native PATRICK GERAGHTY were executed in Portlaoise Jail, by firing squad, on 27th January 1923 – 98 years ago on this date:
‘Byrne was sentenced to death for allegedly possessing a Webley revolver while Geraghty was alleged to have had an automatic pistol at Croghan on 10th November 1922. Byrne, 25, was an Adjutant in the 3rd Battalion (Tyrrellspass), Offaly No. 1 Brigade IRA. Geraghty, 33, was O/C of the same Battalion. Republicans were adamant that both men were unarmed when captured and that they faced trumped up charges. According to the ‘Midland Tribune’ newspaper Geraghty fired on Free State troops and a brisk exchange of rifle fire took place. The ‘Offaly Independent’ reported Free State troops surrounding a farmhouse where there was a fierce exchange of shots. Byrne apparently surrendered while Geraghty escaped and took cover in a field beside the house, where he blazed away at the troops with a ‘Peter-the-Painter’ automatic pistol.
Whatever the case against Geraghty, it was generally believed that Byrne was innocent of the charge against him. Thomas Dunne, of Offaly County Council, stated Byrne was unjustly executed as he had “no firearms at the time of his arrest.” Byrne’s family were one of the early vanguards of the Irish Volunteers in their local area. It was a mark of the high esteem he was held and an indication of how popular he was that prayers were asked for the happy repose of his soul at all the Masses at Daingean on the Sunday following his execution. This was at a time of acute Catholic Church hostility towards the IRA.
Betrayed by an informer, Byrne, Geraghty and another IRA Volunteer, who managed to escape, were staying in a safe house at Croghan belonging to a relation of Byrne. A local informer, a young boy, betrayed them to Free State forces in Tullamore. In his final letter Byrne forgave his enemies: “I forgive everyone. I don’t bear malice to any of the men that are going to execute me. I will pray for them. Oh! I am so happy Paddy and myself are going to heaven for anyhow the world is but empty and what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul…”
While Geraghty was ‘shot out and out,’ Byrne had to be shot a second time as the first volley of shots was not fatal. He stumbled and fell, got up, and was on his knees, crying for his mother, when at point-blank range he was shot in the back of the head…Kevin O’Higgins, Leix-Offaly (later known as ‘Laois-Offaly’) TD and (Free State) Minister for Home Affairs…demanded a greater geographical distribution of executions as it was thought executions confined to Dublin did not have the desired local impact. O’Higgins insisted that “..there should be executions in every county. Local executions would tend considerably to shorten the struggle….” (from here.)
It took a few years, but O’Higgins’ recommendations re executions (‘more of same, please…’) was eventually heeded…
‘NEW CUMANN IN COUNTY CORK’.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955.
A public meeting, under the auspices of Sinn Féin, was held in the Muintir na Tire Hall, Killavulleh, County Cork, on April 27th last.
A capacity audience listened attentively and warmly applauded the speakers – Tomas MacCurtain, Jim O’Regan and D. MacCionnaith – who dealt fully with the Sinn Féin policy and republican programme. James Magner, Castletownroche, presided and, with a large number wishing to join Sinn Féin, it was decided to hold a further meeting to establish a local Cumann.
At a meeting on the 18th May, at which D. MacCionnaith, Cathaoirleach, Comhairle Ceanntair, presided, it was unanimously decided to name the local Cumann after Section-Leader James O’Callaghan, IRA, of Killavulleh, who was shot outside the village by Free State troops on the 16th of October, 1922.
(END of ‘New Cumann In County Cork’; NEXT – ‘Local Government Elections’, from the same source.)
‘IN THE NAME OF THE LAW…’
Confidence in the Garda Siochana continues to erode as more incidents of questionable Garda ‘evidence’ emerge.
By Sandra Mara.
From ‘The Magill Annual’, 2002.
Noel John McBride claims it was suggested that he should make a statement“…that I should say that I seen Frank McBrearty Jnr and Mark McConnell coming down through Frankie’s car park. They said I was to say they were covered in muck. They said I was also to say I saw Marty McCallion standing at the entrance to Frankie’s Niteclub. I told them I didn’t know what Marty McCallion looked like, as I didn’t know him. They explained to me that he was the one with the shaved head.”
McBride claims he was told that if he made this statement against the McBreartys and McConnells, he would “get off with burning the trailer” – “I kept telling them I had nothing to do with burning the trailer, but they just kept repeating I’d get off with it if I made the statement.”
After the arrests, McBride got worried about his false statement and went to a solicitor who advised him to withdraw it ; he claims that when he did so, William Doherty beat him up and threatened to kill him if he spoke out. McBride claims that on the night in question he wasn’t even in Raphoe, but was in fact at his nephew’s christening in Ballybofey… (MORE LATER.)
‘LICENSED TO KILL’.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
The weekend of the 5th and 6th March has been one of the blackest in the history of what is called ‘Northern Ireland’. It has seen the renewal of Black-and-Tanism, as evinced in the callous shootings which took place at Keady, County Armagh, and at Augher in County Tyrone.
In the first instance, four young people – none of them over 18 years old – returning from the pictures in a small van, had it riddled with bullets by a group of ‘B Specials’ at a roadblock. Of course they were called on to halt, they had been signalled with a red light and even shouted at by the sergeant – that was the ‘evidence’ given afterwards. But the three survivors from the ambushed van saw no light and heard no shouts to halt. They had seen the roadblock, made by drawing a van belonging to one of the ‘B Specials’ across the road, and they took it to be a car accident and were turning away to avoid it.
Probably the last words said by young Leonard were his comment to this effect to the young girl sitting beside him in the van. He was unaware of the ‘B Specials’ activity ; he was unaware of any calls to halt. But he was shot to death… (MORE LATER.)
Thanks for reading, Sharon. Agus slán go fóill anois, Andy.