AN APOLOGY TO OLIVER HOYLE, WILLIAM BURKE AND CHRISTOPHER BYRNE.
When Ireland called forth her true sons of the heather,
O’Boyle was the foremost to answer the call,
The sons of the Rosses he banded together,
To drive the oppressor from dark Donegal.
‘Neil O ‘Boyle was born, on a small farm, at Leac Eineach near Burtonport, County Donegal in 1898. It was here in the Breac Ghaeltact area of the Rosses that the young Boyle’s character was formed and his determination strengthened. According to his schoolmates he was tall for his age, lanky and silent. Not overly particular about his appearance, he always appeared to have something on his mind. He had a look in his eye “as if he was going to do something”.
During some obscure incident he expressed admiration for Joseph Mary Plunkett and, schoolboys being schoolboys, he was nicknamed, ‘Plunkett’. The name stuck. As he grew up he didn’t develop any interest in sartorial matters but became more talkative. He was interested in national affairs, sang Irish ballads and advocated the revival of the Irish language. He did not, however, push his views or beliefs on other people ; “Because I believe these things I will always stick to them ; but I do not want to force any other person to believe as I do. Let everyone be honest with himself and do what he thinks right. It is my duty to tell you what I believe should be done…” ‘ (from here.)
This blog was represented at the RSF-organised Neil (Niall) Plunkett O’Boyle wreath-laying ceremony on Sunday, 23rd May 2021, in Knocknadruce, County Wicklow ; this brave man was murdered there by the Free Staters on the 15th of May, 1923, while discussing truce terms with them. He had left the small Norton family farmhouse he was sheltering in to discuss terms with the Staters, his hands held high above his head, when they murdered him. His remains were returned to Donegal where he is buried in Kincasslagh graveyard.
While we were waiting for the proceedings to begin, we went for a stroll around the small cottage and courtyard and, in behind an old piece of farm equipment, we came across this plaque –
– we searched our archives, our files and folders etc and found little bits of information in relation to one of the men, Oliver Hoyle. So we asked outside sources that have helped us before and, while they are very interested in our query, they more or less drew a blank. We ‘Googled’ for info but didn’t come away with any new information.
No doubt something substantial will eventually surface about these three men and the full circumstances surrounding their deaths but, until then – until we can do them some sort of proper justice by remembering them as they deserve to be remembered – apologises to them and to their families for not honouring them in a more fitting manner. Forgive us all.
We do know that they were involved in ‘The United Irishmen’ organisation and that all three died on the 27th January 1801 in the small cottage where Oliver Hoyle lived, the same cottage where Neil (Niall) Plunkett O’Boyle was murdered by the Staters on the 15th May 1923.
‘…Oliver Hoyle was killed by John Harman while resisting robbery…he had been robbed and murdered by a banditti of robbers (British forces) that went through the mountains..’ – from Bob Reece’s book ‘Exiles from Erin : Convict Lives in Ireland and Australia’.
We have let ourselves down by not knowing more.
‘In Memory Of Oliver Hoyle, William Burke And Christopher Byrne. All Killed At This House On 27th January 1801. Ar Dheis Dé Go Raibh A n-Anamacha.’
ON THIS DATE (26TH MAY) 66 YEARS AGO – ELECTION VICTORY FOR SINN FÉIN IN THE O6C.
‘SINN FÉIN VICTORY.
Two Prisoner Candidates Elected To Thirty-Two County Parliament!
Northern republicans on road to freedom : Thursday, May 26th 1955 (66 years ago on this date), is a landmark in Irish history. A new chapter has been opened. The total vote cast for Sinn Féin candidates, great though it was, is of secondary importance to the new spirit of co-operation and voluntary service to Ireland that has spread throughout the country.
We are proud of the response made by the republicans in the North to Ireland’s call for freedom and unity ; after years of betrayal and confusion – in spite of enemy tactics to disrupt and ‘friendly’ efforts to discourage – the republicans of the North have proved that the courage and idealism of the O’Neills and the O’Donnells lives on. The election is a phase in the Sinn Féin campaign to organise all Irishmen into one united people to end forever British occupation and influence in Ireland, to restore to the Irish people their fundamental right to govern themselves and to develop the resources of Ireland for the happiness and prosperity of the Irish people.
It is now the task and duty of all Irishmen to rally to the support of Northern republicans in their demand for a 32-County Parliament. Sinn Féin has the plans, you have the power – join Sinn Féin and unite the Nation!’
(From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955 ; please note that the Sinn Féin organisation referenced in the above piece has no connection, except verbally [according to the PSF grouping] to the Stormont and Leinster House political party which is a political service provider for both the Free State and British administrations in this country.)
‘AITHBHEOCHAINT NA GAEDHILGE…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955.
Dubhairt An Piarsach –
“Dá gcáillfidhe an Gaedhilge do cáillfidhe Eire. Is é rud atáimid do cásughadh, sé sin, go ndearnadh dearmad ar Eirinn an fhad bhitheas ag saothrughadh na Gaedhilge.
Do buaileadh isteach i n-aigne na mílte de Ghaedhealaibh óga gurthábhachtaighe cora-cainnte ná gníomhartha fearamhla agus gur mhó de pheacadh, riaghail ghramadaighe do bhriseadh na beart cladhaireamhail do dheanamh. Ní raibh an ceart ag na fearaibh óga do ghabh le n-an-ais an Gaedhealg do chosaint agus a gcúl do thabhairt ar an bpoilitidheachtt.” – Mac Piarais san ‘Barr Buadh’.
Easba Gaisce –
We are urged by erstwhile leaders to speak Gaedhilge in the homes. Labhrann siad as Béarla agus molann siad dos na páistí scoile Gaedhilge do labhairt. Is minic a bhíonn an Gaedhilge ar a gcómhairle ag na daoine seo ach ní bhaineann siad aon úsáid as – an amhlaidh gurab é easba gaisce an cúis?
No b’fhéidir nach b’fhuil an Gaedhilge ag cuid díobh toisc nar fhoghlium siad ar sgoil é ina n-aimsear – an amhlaidh nar dheineadar a ndícheall chun na teangan náisiúnta d’fhoghluim i rith an triochadh bhlian de ‘saoirse’?
Yes! We listen in vain for a single word as Gaedhilge from the home of our politicians, Leinster House. What blatant hypocrisy! Away with this sham insincerity and let us, the people, tackle our problems… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (26TH MAY) 153 YEARS AGO : FENIAN HANGED IN PUBLIC IN ENGLAND.
‘The last man to be publicly executed in England has had a plaque erected in his memory at a mass grave in London. Michael Barrett came from a small farm in Drumnagreshial, Fermanagh, and was 27 when he was publicly hanged in front of Newgate Jail in London in May 1868…(he) was a member of the Fenians and had been found guilty of blowing up the wall of Clerkenwell House of Detention in London in 1867…(his) guilt was never clearly established and the evidence given by witnesses at the trial was questionable…’ (from here.)
Michael Barrett’s body was left hanging for about one hour, in full public view, outside Newgate Prison, and his body was then removed by prison staff and he was put in a grave within the prison walls : he remained there for 34 years before the British were shamed into placing his remains into a box and burying him in the City of London Cemetery in Ilford, East London.
At the time they executed him, their ‘queen’, Victoria, expressed her disappointment that ‘only one person was caught’ for the deed and suggested that, in any future such incident, the police should simply lynch, on-the-spot, any Irish suspects rather then give too much publicity to the Irish fightback. An unsurprising comment, really, from the ‘Famine (sic) queen’ who, to put it mildly, ‘had no real compassion for the Irish people in any way’.
‘It was on a bright may morning, in the year of 68,
They led young Michael Barrett to the scaffold at Newgate,
He was indeed a Fenian but they blamed him in the wrong,
They had to have a scapegoat and Michael was the one.
He came from north Fermanagh near the county Donegal,
And he had lived through the hunger, Michael seen it all,
He went away to Glasgow like so many from this land,
There he joined up with the Fenian’s to help free Ireland…’ (from here.)
Michael Barrett, Bold Fenian Man ; 1841 – 26th May 1868.
NO RIGHT OF APPEAL…
Why the media consensus on a broad range of issues is increasingly disturbing.
By John Drennan.
From ‘Magill’ Annual, 2002.
The real problem with Cardinal Connell is that our liberal elite don’t like his views on morality ; unfortunately, you will observe, the Cardinal is not a great believer in moral equivalence. He tells it in black and white.
“Oh, right then…” sez the plain people of Ireland, “…a bit like Mary Ellen Synon, is he? Oh, he’s fair game, so..”
(‘1169’ comment – ironic that the author should seek to claim that Ms Synon is a ‘black and white person’, as her support for, among her many other oddities, the Ku Klux Klan, is well known.)
Note to the plain people of Ireland : this is not you talking, but rather the mythical, spectral ‘plain people of Ireland’ who jostle raucously in the corner of every Dublin newsroom. So be quiet and listen – the good Cardinal’s first faux pas occurred after a function organised by the Taoiseach to celebrate Mr Connell’s elevation to the position of Cardinal. Bertie respected his guest so much he brought his mistress…our apologises… – partner – along to the festivities. Not a problem, perhaps.
Even the Cardinal was prepared to turn a blind eye until he received his invite in which he was graciously invited by the happy couple. This was a ridiculous mistake which absolutely did not have to happen, and placed a senior churchman in an unforgivably difficult position… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (26TH MAY) 124 YEARS AGO – BIRTH OF AN ANTI-TREATY IRA COMMANDER.
On the 26th May, 1897 – 124 years ago on this date – Ernie O’ Malley, fighter and author (Earnán Ó Maille, pictured, in 1921, in Dublin Castle, during his ‘arrest’ – he was using the alias ‘Bernard Stuart’), was born in Castlebar, in County Mayo.
On August 10th and 11th, 1924, the remaining original members of the pre-Civil War Irish Republican Army Executive (that is those of them who had opposed and fought against the Treaty of Surrender in 1921), together with the co-opted members of the Executive during the Civil War (about 26 people in all), met secretly to review the past and decide policy for the future.
Ernie O’ Malley was voted on the ‘Sub-Commission Committee to the Executive for Emergency Consultative Purposes’, and it was he who proposed the following motion, at this first post-Civil War general meeting of the Executive : ‘That Volunteers be instructed not to recognise Free State and Six County Courts when charged with any authorised acts committed during the War or for any political acts committed since, nor can they employ legal defence except charged with an act liable to the death penalty.’ This motion was passed unanimously, and that refusal to recognise those courts in one way or another lasted until the 1970’s.
An important theme of his books is the treatment of republican prisoners , who were even then denied prisoner-of-war status : a concern for all IRA men unaccepted as political prisoners or prisoners-of-war, and all his life he supported their lonely cause. He himself had taken part in the mass hunger-strike of October/November 1923, although medically exempted and suffering intense pain from old wounds and bed sores, for the length of its 41 days and being one of the four in Kilmainham Jail who had wanted to continue.
While in exile in America, Ernie O’ Malley’s diaries showed support for the republican prisoners in the Free State, of whom he wrote – ” …who are there for the very same reason that the men we read of and revere were imprisoned .” Back in Ireland, at a meeting in 1939 of the Irish Academy of Letters, he voted in favour of Peadar O’ Donnell’s motion that a concert be organised to support dependants of IRA prisoners – not surprisingly the motion was rejected. His was the drama and sacrifice of a really doctrinaire republican – a very brave man, at once ruthless and sensitive, whose contrasting traits of character are well revealed in his autobiographical writings. He was very nearly killed in November 1922 when Free State troops besieged his headquarters, ensuring ill health that affected him for the rest of his life and very likely resulted in his comparatively early death, aged 57.
But while not shirking the possibility of death in action, he fought for military victory, and for a time believed that it was possible. An old Ulster proverb says it is easy to sleep on another man’s wound : there are many in Ireland today who rest cruelly or carelessly on the hardships and sufferings of brave men and women who fought and still fight for their country’s freedom. The only books Ernie O’ Malley wrote were about the Irish wars and it is in those that he should be most remembered.
Ernie O’ Malley’s book ‘On Another Man’s Wound’ records the war against the British forces from 1916 until the calling of the ‘Truce’ in July 1921 and is told by one who volunteered for Oglaigh na hEireann in 1917 and by 1921 was Officer Commanding of the 2nd Southern Division and, later, Assistant Chief of Staff in the Civil War. It is an exciting read, always enthralling, beautifully written, and far and away the best of the Tan War books.
Ernie O’ Malley was brave and energetic in his total dedication to the Republic as proclaimed in Easter Week 1916 : his personal adventures, dramatic and varied, are an integral part of the wider significances of the national struggle. Unlike some of his companions who later called themselves ‘the Old IRA’ or ‘the Neutral IRA’, he did not change his republican beliefs – indeed, he recognised that some Irish have always helped in the conquest (those people and groups are what we on this blog refer to as ‘service providers’ ; they can be found everywhere, in all walks of life, and cohabit with each other in the posh halls and corridors of Leinster House and Stormont, to name but two such venues).
During the ‘National Emergency’ years of World War Two, de Valera himself was very keen to have so famous a fighter as Ernie O’ Malley join the Free State army and pressure was put on him to follow many renowned republicans into its ranks . O’ Malley asked – “Would I have to inform on my former comrades and work against them? But of course! Join? Certainly not!” And that was that. Indeed, only a month or so before his last illness he was writing in his diary – “I can never see a peeler without feeling uneasy..”
Hopefully, Ernie O’ Malley’s books should fire the imagination of a new generation of Irish republicans. In so many ways ‘On Another Man’s Wound’ relates to what is happening today between the British and Irish nations. It is tragic that his wartime experiences should remain so pertinent but, nevertheless, those experiences are a source of guidance and encouragement to those who continue the struggle today. That book is one to convert the unbeliever and to inform the ignorant, just as Ernie O’ Malley himself turned to republicanism at Easter 1916 when as a young medical student he witnessed Padraig Pearse reading the Proclamation outside the GPO in Dublin and then followed the subsequent events of the Rising.
His well-to-do family never discussed national politics at home – his elder brother was an officer in the British Army and died in that service, but Ernie devoted the best years of his life to the fight for the Irish Republic, so that in 1923 the Sinn Féin news-sheets claimed that he had ‘..perhaps the greatest individual record during the Tan War and was one of the bravest soldiers who ever fought for the independence of Ireland.’ He wanted to show the struggle of a mainly unarmed people against the might of an ’empire’ and his book pays constant tribute to the heroism of a risen people.
He was famed for his own courage, although like the truly brave he freely admitted to feelings of fear and inadequacy. Undeterred by mass condemnations from the British and their Irish allies, by newspapers and professional politicians and by the Catholic Hierarchy, between 1919 and 1921 the Irish Republican Army waged a war that also involved shooting ‘policemen’, executing British Officers, burning buildings, punishing spies and informers – in short, all those actions which Westminster and Leinster House vie with each other in condemning today. And Ernie O’ Malley was very active in all such actions.
Ernie O’ Malley was very active in attacks on British Army barracks, ambushes, raids and always in organisation and leadership crucial for the building of a people’s army. He fought the Auxiliaries, an elite group of ex-BA officers attached to the RIC – a sort of 1920 SAS. He admitted that the RIC had “the guts to stick it out” but insisted “we can’t admire Irishmen who fight for foreigners against us.” His books are still useful handbooks for contemporary guerrillas.
A significant section of ‘On Another Man’s Wound’ concerns his eventual capture by British forces in Inistioge, County Kilkenny, on 9th December 1920 (a notebook found on him had the names of all the members of the 7th Battalion IRA (Callan) of the West Kilkenny brigade – many of whom were subsequently arrested) and the torture and imprisonment he underwent at the hands of the British Army, including his interrogation ordeal in Dublin Castle, the ‘Castlereagh of the Tan War’. Threatened with hanging for an action he did not commit, in the midst of brutal questioning, Ernie O’ Malley replied – “With us hanging is no disgrace.” It is a revealing line, and one which puzzled his British torturers, who never will understand the mentality, motivation and moral strength of their opponents.
The prison chapters of his books illustrate how he and his comrades defied the prison system and bewildered their guards who, as O’ Malley stated, “..had been told that we were murderers. That meant an image from a Sunday newspaper – twitching hands and furtive walk, or sullen hardness. They heard us laugh and sing, rag and annoy each other, joke and refuse to take prison regulations seriously..” But he pays tribute, too, to those who showed humanity to prisoners, which makes his verdicts on the others and on the British caste system all the more convincing.
After an historic escape from Kilmainham Jail on the 14th February 1921, Ernie O’ Malley returned to the Martial Law areas and an intensified war campaign, until he was first baffled, then broken-hearted by the truce called in July 1921. One of the grimmest incidents had taken place one month previously, when Ernie O’ Malley, as Officer Commanding of the IRA Division involved, had taken it upon himself to execute three captured British Army officers because “..any officers we capture in this area are to be shot until such time as you cease shooting your prisoners..”
He wanted the Irish Republican Army to have status abroad, rather than be hidden behind the image of a suffering colonial people. As he bluntly put it to his affronted superiors later in 1921 – “We (the IRA) had never consulted the feelings of the people. If so, we would never have fired a shot. If we gave them a good strong lead, they would follow.” If his books were required reading in schools and universities, instead of the shoneen or revisionist or simply non-existent versions of modern Irish history, then the people of Ireland would be better prepared to achieve a true independence. As Ernie O’ Malley wrote of the best of the IRA recruits, in words that typify his own unyielding spirit – “At times one came across a man who had been born free. There was no explaining it. One just accepted and thanked God in wonder!”
Ernie O’ Malley’s two books are best read together : it is in ‘The Singing Flame’ that the British faces fade and are replaced by Irish counterparts and the high noon of summer darkens to the Mulcahy/Cosgrave years. Of course ‘The Singing Flame’ is partisan ; one intended by its author as support for the republican tradition – with the ‘cult’ of 1916 transformed into the ‘cult’ of 1922, where the Four Courts of Dublin stands in place of the GPO. It is also an exciting story, full of incidents and answering some questions that had been posed for half a century ; relating his Civil War days as Assistant Chief of Staff in Dublin where he commanded future Fianna Fail ministers like Sean Lemass and Tom Derrig, while leading a hunted existence in a city resembling Belfast of the 1970’s.
The second of the books also has clear lessons for today, containing many parallels and the same abuse and falsified arguments used against the republicans then as now. In the early days of the Civil War, Ernie O’ Malley and his IRA Company heard a priest at Mass denounce them as looters and murderers : “The Hand of God was against us..” , according to the priest, he said. His officers wanted to walk out, but he motioned them to remain ; “If we were going to be insulted when we could not hit back, we might as well be dignified. It was good to get out in the fresh air again.”
He could have accepted power and privilege under the Free State but he remained faithful to the Republic and rejected both the 1921 Treaty and de Valera’s alternative Document No. 2. He told a Free State general, J.J. ‘Ginger’ O’ Connell, at the time of the Treaty debates – “You’ll have to fight in our area if you are false to your oath. That’s where you’ll meet with immediate and terrible war.”The irony was pointed : Lloyd George had threatened an “immediate and terrible war” if the Treaty was not accepted.
True to his word, when the 1921 Treaty was ratified, Ernie O’ Malley’s Second Southern Division IRA was the first to renounce its allegiance to both IRA GHQ and Dail Eireann : in the war against the Staters, Ernie O’ Malley was (Acting) Assistant Chief of Staff to Liam Lynch and was also Officer Commanding of the Ulster and Leinster Commands. Liam Lynch was in the South/Cork area while Ernie O’ Malley remained based in the enemy’s stronghold of Dublin. He wrote of waging a guerrilla warfare that, this time, for him, was urban based rather than rural and, when asked by a journalist why the IRA were still fighting, he replied : “I think they think they’re fighting for a younger generation.” Ernie O’ Malley was 24 years of age at that time.
He himself knew that he was fighting imperialists, both British and Irish varieties, and believed that the Free State Cabinet and a few Catholic bishops should not be immune from the war. He also recognised and acknowledged the great support given to the republican cause by Cumann na mBan and other Irish republican women, and one feature of his books is the courage, strength and involvement of such women. As he wrote – “During the Tan War the girls had always helped but they had never sufficient status. Now they were our comrades, loyal, willing and incorruptible comrades. Indefatigable, they put the men to shame by their individual zeal and initiative.”
His book ‘The Singing Flame’ reveals much of Free State treachery and covers inside stories of the critical months before the IRA attack on the Four Courts began, and he paints a vivid picture of the war. But perhaps the most important pages are the prison chapters, detailing the scenes of prison life in Portobello Barracks, in Mountjoy, in Kilmainham Jail and in the Curragh internment camps, highlighting the deaths of comrades and the hunger-strike. Despite his wounds (hit over 20 times by Free State gunfire), the threats of execution, and a wasting sickness worsened by forty-one days on hunger-strike, Ernie O’ Malley was a leading challenge to “..the petty automatons that help to keep one captive..”. Some of his most inspiring passages in ‘The Singing Flame’ concern that ‘other war’ that prisoners fought : in jail.
Then as now, Irish republican prisoners fought against criminalisation and for prisoner-of-war status : as Ernie O’ Malley wrote – “Free men cannot be kept in jail, for their spirits are free. In our code, it is the duty of prisoners to prove that they cannot be influenced by their surroundings. Make the enemy feel a jailer but be free yourself.” An appendix of prison letters documents that spirit of defiance. Not surprisingly, O’ Malley was the last republican leader to be released from the Curragh in July 1924, although he had been confined to bed with his many wounds for most of his imprisonment : despite medical operations, he carried in his body five bullets to the grave.
When ‘The Singing Flame’ was published in 1978, twenty-one years after his death, the chief political book reviewer of ‘The Irish Times’ newspaper saw Ernie O’ Malley as “..the unrepentant Fenian and perhaps even as the very first Provisional..” (‘1169′ comment : we disagree – O’ Malley fought against the Free Staters and Westminster, he didn’t administer political or military ‘control’ on their behalf.) Ernie O’ Malley was one of the bravest, most idealistic, most dedicated and determined of socialist republican fighters, ruthless against imperialism, but chivalrous in war.
On the 30th June 1922, Ernie O’ Malley, as Officer Commanding of his IRA Garrison, most unwillingly surrendered the destroyed Four Courts in Dublin : when Free State officers accused him of deliberately causing the fire and the great explosion that had wrecked the building, he denied that republicans had set off a mine – “It was the spirit of freedom lighting a torch. I’m glad she played her part.” Two years before he died he wrote – “The spirit of freedom is immeasurable and its strength can suddenly increase in unexpected ways.”
The time will come when through that Spirit of Freedom the Irish Republic will not just be realised in the mind, and then the epitaphs of those like Ernie O’ Malley and Bobby Sands and Francis Hughes can indeed, together with that of Robert Emmet, be truly written, as part of a living tradition.
(This is an edited version of an article we first posted here in 2008.)
‘FORCE : MORAL OR PHYSICAL…?’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
Out of O’Connell’s moral force was begotten the ‘Irish Parliamentary Party’ ; out of the ‘Young Ireland’ movement was begotten the Republican Brotherhood and the Rising of 1916.
Britain, by ruthlessness and intrigue, crushed the flowering of freedom and imposed by force – the threat of immediate and terrible war – the partition of our country and the disunity of our people.
We do not doubt the sincerity of Mr. Cosgrave and his colleagues when they advocate the use of “moral pressure”. We do not doubt the sincerity of any Irishman who advocates policies different from ours. But we do doubt their wisdom. In the face of present-day realities, in the face of our history and our traditions, there can be only one wise national policy – to break the connection with England, and be prepared to meet British force with Irish force when necessary.
(END of ‘Force : Moral or Physical?’ ; NEXT – ‘Talk, Force and Politicians’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE – 26TH MAY – IN THE FOLLOWING YEARS :
On the 26th May 1798 – United Irishman Rebellion : The rebels are defeated at Tara Hill ; this marks the end of the rebellion in Co Meath. Rebellion begins in Co Wexford. Fr John Murphy and local people confront the Camolin yeomanry at The Harrow. Thomas Bookey, Lieutenant of the yeomanry, is killed.
On the 26th May 1919 – Members of (the 32-County) Dáil Éireann sent a statement concerning ‘Ireland’s Case for Independence’ to the Paris Peace Conference.
On the 26th May 1919 – Capture and destruction at Ticknock, Co Dublin of military field kitchen and 2 mules in the charge of 2 unarmed soldiers, by members of the 3rd Battalion Dublin Brigade IRA.
On the 26th May 1921 – Attack on Naval base and wireless station Dún Laoghaire. When the attack was in progress one hour, a (British) armoured car leading a party of troops from the naval base advanced up Marine road. Another party from the wireless station proceeded from Clarence St. Both patrols were attacked on the way and shortly after capturing Georges St. they (British patrols) clashed and opened fire on each other. They suffered some killed and 5 wounded before they realised their mistake.
On the 26th May 1954 – Birth of Mickey Devine, a volunteer of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) who died on the 1981 hunger strike.
THE ACTRESS AND THE IRA MAN.
On the 26th May 1979 – Death of actor, George Brent(pictured, with Bette Davis). Born in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, during the Irish War of Independence, Brent was part of the IRA. He fled Ireland with a bounty set on his head by the British government, although he later claimed only to have been a courier for guerrilla leader and tactician Michael Collins. He eventually moved to Hollywood, and made his first film in 1930. Highly regarded by Bette Davis, he became her most frequent male co-star, appearing with her in 13 films :
‘…(she) wrote about Brent as a courier for Collins, but also about his second job as Collins’ doppelganger. “In Dublin,” she wrote, ‘..his most convincing double was a young actor George Brendan Nolan. A tall, well-built young man that fit Collins’s official description, Nolan was interested in the stage but was also a full member of the Fianna Éireann. For many months he played the dangerous but successful role of stand-in for Ireland’s most wanted man. He would conspicuously attend a public meeting or event as a ‘Big Fella’ in expensive suits and, since the (British) authorities were never quite sure what Collins looked like, they would follow him, thereby leaving the real leader free to go about his business.
Then, suddenly, in 1920, Brent disappeared. “Dublin Castle issued a warrant for Nolan’s arrest that charged him with treason against the state, a crime punishable by execution, Collins’s spies immediately informed the leader who thus arranged Nolan’s urgent, secret escape out of Cobh harbor in County Cork. As the Black and Tans thundered through the quiet village of Watergrasshill, just 12 miles away, bent on arresting Nolan, he was already bound for New York and a new life. They had missed their quarry by only a few hours…”(from here.)
‘George Brent’ was born George Patrick Nolan, in Galway, on the 15th March 1904 ; he died in Solana Beach, in California, on the 26th of May, 1979, 42 years ago on this date.
Thanks for reading,