ON THIS DATE 76 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF A PARTY PERSON.
Pádraic Ó Máille (pictured), one of the founders (in 1906) of the Sinn Féin organisation and of the Conradh na Gaeilge group in the Galway area, was born on the 23rd February 1876, in Letterbrick, County Donegal, and died on the 19th January in 1946. (Note – sources vary on his place and year of birth – either as listed above, or in Muintir Eoin, in the Maam Valley of County Galway, in 1876 or 1878.)
He farmed the land and had an interest in politics, writing regular columns for ‘An Claidheamh Soluis’ and for other republican/nationalist periodicals, and was an active member of the ‘Irish Volunteers’, which he had joined in 1914 and helped to establish throughout the west of Ireland.
In 1916, he fought alongside Liam Mellows in Galway and was interned at Wandsworth prison until early June when he was transferred to Frongoch camp in Wales. There he was elected to the executive of the camp council, but he was transferred to Reading jail, where he was held until the general release of December 1916, and was among those deported to England in early 1917 but, like others, he soon absconded to Ireland.
In the 1918 general election he was elected as a Sinn Féin ‘MP’ for Connemara, in Galway and, as such, he refused to recognise that the ‘Parliament of the United Kingdom’ had any political sway in Ireland and, instead, he and other like-minded elected politicians assembled at the Mansion House in Dublin as the revolutionary parliament called ‘Dáil Éireann’.
He was re-elected as a Sinn Féin Teachta Dála (TD) for the Galway constituency at the 1921 elections, which was held on the 24th May that year, and married Eileen Mary Acton, in Dublin, on the 21st September of that same year.
He accepted the 1921 ‘Treaty of Surrender’ and contested for a seat in the Free State administration, which he won, and was appointed as the ‘leas ceann comhairle’ (‘deputy chairperson’) for that institution, a position he held for five years, during which time he fine-tuned the policy of the then-recently established right-wing Cumann na nGaedheal party.
On the 7th December, 1922, he was leaving the Ormond Hotel in Dublin with Seán Hales, a brigadier in the Free State Army and a Cumann na nGaedhal member of the Leinster House administration, when they were set-upon by IRA members ; Hales was shot dead in the incident, and Pádraic Ó Máille was shot in the spine, but survived.
In January 1926 he founded a new political party called ‘Clann Éireann’ but he lost his seat at the June 1927 State election and was also unsuccessful at the September 1927 State election ; in August 1927, the party had issued a statement supporting the newly-established Fianna Fáil party, and then ceased political activity.
He then contested the 1932 State election, in the ‘Dublin County’ constituency, for Fianna Fáil, but was not elected. In 1934, that party placed him in the Free State Senate, where he remained for two years, before losing his seat. In 1938 he was placed back in there by Fianna Fáil (on the ‘Agricultural Panel’) and was then appointed as the ‘leas-chathaoirleach’ (deputy chairperson) of that institution, a position he held until 1942.
He died in 1946, probably having attended one party too many, and is buried in Glencullen Cemetery, in County Dublin.
‘THE ARMAGH ACTION…’
This dramatic account of the action was given to one of our representatives in an interview with one of the men who took part.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, July, 1954.
IN THE GUARDROOM :
When our men entered the guardroom there were two soldiers sitting at a table. “Get up on your feet.” They smiled as if it was a prank. The Volunteer cocked a Webley and they jumped to their feet.
After checking through the other rooms a total of seven ‘Tommies’ were eventually rounded-up ; they were ordered to kneel down and put their hands above their heads, but two of them hesitated. “Kneel down or I shoot”. With that said, they dropped to their knees and were bound hand and foot.
Simultaneously, one of the Volunteers was putting the telephone switchboard – which was off the guardroom – out of action, while another took all the keys from the case on the wall and went outside. One of the British soldiers was ordered to strip. “Have I enough off?” , he asked, when he had removed his webbing, gaiters and tunic. “Yes,” said the IRA Volunteer, “..we’re not here to give you a bath.”
DEJECTED PRISONER :
Other details were attended to in the guardroom, such as checking all rooms and billets, and the cells. There was one prisoner – he was sitting, dejected looking, in the corner of the cell with his head drooping between his hands, oblivious to the tense action taking place…
ON THIS DATE (19TH JANUARY) 102 YEARS AGO : RIC IN TIPPERARY ATTACKED.
On the 19th January, 1920 – 102 years ago on this date – an estimated 150 IRA Volunteers carried out an operation against the RIC in Drombane/Drumbane in County Tipperary.
At least 13 armed ‘servants of the Crown’ had established a base for themselves in Drombane/Drumbane by taking over the village hall and proclaiming it to be their barracks.
The Mid-Tipperary Brigade of the IRA was assisted by four Volunteers from ‘C’ (Hollyford) Company – James Gorman, Paddy O’Dwyer, J. Fitzpatrick and P. Ryan. James Gorman was a very experienced operator ; he was an ex-Australian soldier who saw action abroad, as a 1st Lieutenant, between 1914 and 1918, and had helped to plan this attack.
An agreed signal – the blowing of a whistle – was given, and a hail of gunfire was directed at, and into, the barracks ; those inside were caught off guard and fired back at the IRA, but became more despondent when, during what turned out to be a four-hour battle, the gable-end of their barracks was severly damaged and weakened when some of the Solohead gelignite was used by the IRA, the use of which also blew a hole in the roof.
The operation was said locally to be unsuccessful as the barracks was not taken or completely destroyed – it would have been, but the RIC fired ‘help rockets’ into the sky, looking for assistance, and they were seen by RIC and British Army members between Drombane/Drumbane and Clonoulty, a distance of about 8 miles, but the IRA Brigade made good their escape.
(For Andy ; one year gone from us, this month.)
THE NOT SO IRISH NEWS…
Rita Smyth examines the editorials of the Northern newspaper, ‘The Irish News’, for the first six months of 1987.
Her analysis shows how the paper reflects the political attitudes of the Stormont Castle Catholics (who dominate the SDLP*) and the conservative values of the Catholic Hierarchy, especially Bishop Cahal Daly.
(From ‘Iris’ magazine, October 1987.)
(‘1169’ comment – *…and who now fill the ranks of other Stoop-like political parties in Stormont and Leinster House.)
The ‘Ulster Political Research Group’ (the ‘political wing’ of the UDA) has rendered “an important service” to the unionist community by “examining the deep crisis of identity which has shaken the majority”.
It is a “far cry from the traditional unionist demand for implementation of the democratic rights of the majority”. By the next day, a slightly milder approach was taken ; it is probably “optimistic to regard the UDA’s manifesto as the beginning of the end of the political paralysis” but the UDA initiative “throws a challenge to political representatives (to) move towards the negotiating table” and it is “right and proper” that SDLP leader John Hume should welcome the UDA document (January 31st).
This enthusiasm did not cool after time for reflection or in light of less concilatory behaviour by members of the UDA ; “(Today’s reality) has been outlined with a startling precision by the unlikely UDA in their document ‘Common Sense’, in which that organisation called for dialogue that would lead to co-existence and partnership…that document…reflects the fact that (unionist tactics in the Councils) are futile exercises in paranoia” – February 7th).
“Violence is no solution” to a political problem but “the UDA has understood the nature of the solution and has proposed a possibility, no matter how limited or restricted, in a plan for talks.”We are reminded that the SDLP offers talks without preconditions and the Hillsborough Treaty provides the framework for political dialogue. What is needed are unionist “spokesmen (sic) of sufficient stature to grasp the necessity for such dialogue.” So we can look to the day when ‘hawks’ Molyneaux and Paisley are superseded by ‘doves’ like McMichael and Tyrie..!
‘SINN FÉIN NOTES.’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
PUBLIC MEETING :
Public meetings were held during the past month in Nobber, County Meath ; Kingscourt, County Cavan ; Castlebar, County Mayo and Draperstown, County Derry. Despite the inclement weather all our speakers had large and attentive audiences.
George Dearle, Dublin, addressed after-Mass meetings at Nobber and Kingscourt. Tom Doyle, Dublin, Brian Lowe and Michael O’Keefe, County Clare, addressed the meeting at Castlebar on the day of the Railway Cup (football) semi-final.
Gearoid O’Broin, Dublin, Peadar McParland, Armagh, Tommy Green, Dundalk and Archie McKevitt, Carlingford, addressed the meeting in Cavan, also on the day of the Railway Cup semi-final. Successful collections for the Six County Election fund were made at these venues, and a successful collection for the same fund was made at Aughrim, County Wicklow, on the previous Sunday. The Ard Chomhairle wishes to thank all those who subscribed so generously.
Tomas O hEanain, Secretary of the Six County Election Committee, speaking at Draperstown, County Derry, on Sunday 13th February, opened the election campaign for Tom Mitchell (pictured), our candidate for Mid-Ulster, who is in Crumlin Jail, Belfast…
ON THIS DATE (19TH JANUARY) IN…
An RIC member, Michael Gunning (25), died on the 19th January, 1874. He was on his way back to his barracks, after having attended a court case in Portmagee, County Kerry, but was later found dead. It was recorded that he died from drowning.
This sketch (cartoon?!) was published in ‘The Westmeath Independent’ newspaper on the 19th January, 1901, and was titled ‘Constable Flaherty Helping a Voter’.
It is a claimed representation of a kindly RIC member, a ‘Constable Flaherty’, helping an elderly woman as she goes to cast her vote in the Athlone municipal election in January 1901 and is as good example as any of how the British, due to their (on-going) history of colonisation and imperialism, used propaganda to present themselves as ‘helpful keepers-of-the-peace’ in the countries they sought to bleed resources from.
We are reminded of ‘The Gentle Black And Tan’…!
A ‘Sir’ John Craven Carden (a ‘5th Baronet’) and a Lieutenant Colonel Fitzgibbon Trant, were both ‘landlords’ in the Tipperary area in the early 20th Century and wanted to change the ‘terms and conditions’ of those they viewed as their ‘tenants’, dozens of whom objected.
A ‘rent strike’ was organised and the two ‘landlords’ took ‘legal’ action against those who were holding-back rent money until such time as matters were put right.
The ‘Sir’ and the Lieutenant contacted their colleagues in the RIC – a County Inspector, and no less than four District Inspectors – and requested that they send as many RIC members as they could to Thurles Courthouse on the 19th January, 1909, as ‘pay-the-rent-or-we’ll-repossess’-orders were going to be issued and the (British) State backed-up its own and sent 130 RIC members (pictured) to support their ‘landlords’ in Ireland.
The ‘tenants’ were thereby ‘reminded’ that they were up against the might of the State in their dispute with the two ‘landlords’. We couldn’t find any records on the outcome of the cases but we would take a guess and say that the poor ‘tenants’ lost.
Then, as now.
22-years-young Michael Darcy, a Volunteer with the West-Clare Brigade of the IRA, operating under the command of Seán Liddy, took part in an operation on an RIC truck which was accompanied by five RIC members on pushbikes.
The RIC barracks in Cooraclare, in County Clare, was closed-down in late December 1919/early January 1920 and, on the 19th January, 1920, RIC members, with a ‘Constable’ named Costigan in charge, were observed moving furniture etc out of the barracks and into a truck. They finished loading the vehicle and had driven to just outside the village of Coolaclare when they were ambushed by the IRA. The four British ‘policemen’ returned fire and a firefight ensued, interrupted by IRA scouts who warned their comrades that an RIC patrol was approaching the scene ; one of the scouts, Michael Darcy, attempted to hold off the RIC members until his comrades could fall back and, while trying to escape himself, he entered the Coolaclare River to shelter from them but they located him and began firing at him.
The Officer Commanding of the West-Clare Brigade IRA, Art O’Donnell, and his comrades, tried to rescue him but they couldn’t as they were under fire from the RIC, and Michael drowned. He is buried in the Darcy Family plot in Kilmacduane Graveyard in Cooraclare, with his Mother, Margaret, his Father Michael and his brothers Patrick and John.
The RIC raided a newsagent shop in Balbriggan, County Dublin, belonging to a Mr. A.C. Williams, and seized all copies of ‘The Watchword of Labour’, the official organ of ‘Irish Labour’, which was published by the ‘Irish Transport and General Workers Union’ (now ‘SIPTU’), in Dublin. That was back in the day when the trade union leadership actually challenged the State, rather than cosy-up to it.
A Mr. Patrick Foy, from Capel Street in Dublin, was ‘arrested’ and deported to Wormwood Scrubbs Prison in London, without charge or trial. He was identified with no political party and challenged the legality of his ‘arrest’ and internment. He received legal assistance from JH MacDonnell in the ‘Irish Self-Determination League of Great Britain’ (‘ISDL’) but he lost his case.
A Mr. Cornelius Donovan and a Mr. Robert Smyth were ‘arrested’ at Killeagh, in County Cork, on a charge of endeavouring to obtain arms.
A Mr. M. Murphy, from Cahemore, in County Cork, was sent to jail for a month, for ‘an alleged violation of ‘D.O.R.A’.
Supporters and sympathisers who had gathered at Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, to give a send-off to two political prisoners who were being conveyed to gaol were attacked by the RIC who batoned them and fired shots from their revolvers. (We couldn’t find any more information on those three events.)
On the 19th of January 1921, IRA Volunteer Denis Hegarty, 29, from Courtmacsherry, was killed in Timoleague, in County Cork, by British soldiers attached to the Essex Regiment.
He had decided not to sleep in his own house because the British Army were searching and raiding in the area, so he slept in a loft in the yard of his employer, a local farmer, in nearby Barryshall.
In the early hours of Wednesday, the 19th of January 1921, the British raided that farmers yard and captured Denis Hegarty ; he was taken towards Clonakilty for about one kilometre and then down a lane which led into farmyards but, about halfway down that lane, he was beaten, stabbed with bayonets and finally shot in the head.
His body was found later that morning in the lane, in the ditch where he died. He is buried in the nearby Templequinlin Churchyard and a memorial was placed at the end of the lane where he was shot.
A 32-year-old RIC member, Francis Hill, from Kinlough, in County Leitrim, was on patrol in the Oldpark Road area of Belfast with his USC colleagues on the 27th December, 1921, when they were ambushed by the IRA, and he was wounded. He died from those wounds on the 19th January, 1922. His wife received £117:0:0 in compensation from the British Government.
IRA Lieutenant Michael Moran died of a heart attack at his home in Dooagh, Achill Island, County Mayo, on the 19th January 1922. His death was due to ill-treatment in prison –
“Before his arrest he was a fine strong-looking boy of 23…it is quite obvious that Michael Moran’s constitution had been enfeebled by ill-treatment and the rigours of prison life. On his return home, instead of resting for a little, he immediately resumed his military service, helping to establish (a training camp) in his village.
Fortunately I had the honour of being in an engagement with Michael Moran and therefore I know that he was a gallant soldier and an enthusiastic worker for the Irish Republic. After a very hard night’s work carrying out certain IRA operations he was arrested by RIC and Black and Tans and was sent to Galway Gaol. There he was sentenced to 12 years penal servitude and was sent from Galway to Dartmoor prison to serve those years there.
When the general amnesty came early in 1922 he was released and on his return from Dartmoor prison to Achill he immediately took part in military organisational work and helped us to start a training camp at Corriemore Dooagh Achill. When everything in the camp was ready and training had commenced, he fell dead. The verdict at the inquest was that he died from cardiac failure due to brutal treatment which he received from British forces whilst a prisoner..” (from here.)
(Note – Michael Moran was promoted to Captain in the field but he died before it was officially confirmed.)
In the early hours of the 19th of January, 1923, Thomas Prendiville, a father of four children, was shot dead by a Free State Army Lieutenant named Larkin in Hartnett’s Hotel in Castleisland, in County Kerry. Larkin had been drinking since early the previous afternoon and apparently thought he was shooting a Maurice Prendiville, a known IRA Volunteer.
Thanks for the visit, and for reading,
Sharon and the team.