ON THIS DATE (23RD FEBRUARY) 57 YEARS AGO : THE BODY OF A 1916 HERO IS RETURNED TO IRELAND.
On the 3rd August 1916, at 9am, Roger Casement (pictured) was placed on a scaffold in Pentonville Prison, Caledonian Road, London. The prison Governor and his officials then took their seats in the front row and watched as their hangman, John Ellis, released the lever.
Roger Casement had been found guilty of ‘treason’ and sentenced to “death by rope” by Westminster for attempting to secure arms for the ‘dissidents’ during the 1916 Rising. He was found guilty of same on the 29th June, 1916, and his appeal against that sentence was rejected on the 24th July 1916.
The body of this brave Irishman was ‘held hostage’ by the British for 49 years ; his remains were returned to Ireland on the 23rd February 1965 – 57 years ago on this date – having been ‘buried’ in 1916 in a yard in Pentonville Prison. He was re-interred in Glasnevin Cemetery on Monday, 1st March 1965.
Roger Casement was born on the 1st September, 1864, in Sandycove, County Dublin, the son of Captain Roger Casement of the 3rd Dragoon Guards of the British Army and Anne Jephson from Mallow, County Cork. His mother had him secretly baptised in her own religion (Roman Catholic) but he was raised in the Protestant faith of his father. As both his parents died young, Roger was taken in by an uncle, near Ballycastle, County Antrim, and educated as a boarder at the diocesan school in Ballymena.
From 1895 onwards he held consular appointments at various locations in Africa, including Boma in the Congo (1904) where, for the British Foreign Office, he investigated Belgian human rights abuses of the indigenous people. Later, in Peru, he was commissioned to undertake a report on the reported abuse of workers in the rubber industry in the Putumayo basin, which earned him a knighthood after his findings were published as a parliamentary paper (in 1911).
He had been a member of the Gaelic League and became increasingly radicalised by the opposition of the Ulster unionists to Home Rule from 1912 onwards and wrote nationalist articles under the pseudonym ‘Seán Bhean Bhocht’.
He rarely receives a mention when it comes to the writers and poets of 1916 (“Of unmatched skill to lead by pathways rife / With danger and dark doubt, where slander’s knife / Gleamed ever bare to wound, yet over all / He pressed triumphant on-lo, thus to fall” – ‘Parnell’, by Roger Casement) yet his reports from the Putumayo and from the Congo show a writer of great talent. His descriptions of the horrendous brutality inflicted on innocent and perfectly peaceful native inhabitants was enough to force a change of policy with regard to the treatment of workers and slaves on the rubber plantations.
Casement wrote in 1911 that “..the robbery of Ireland since the Union has been so colossal, carried out on such a scale, that if the true account current between the two countries were ever submitted to any impartial tribunal, England would be clapped in jail..”. For his part in trying to stop that robbery he was convicted of treason by the British and sentenced to death after a three-day ‘trial’ (held at the Old Bailey in London between the 26th and the 29th of June 1916, where he was prosecuted by ‘Sir’ Edward Carson, the Orange Order bigot).
His speech from the dock is not as appreciated as it should be – “With all respect I assert this Court is to me, an Irishman, not a jury of my peers to try me in this vital issue for it is patent to every man of conscience that I have a right, an indefeasible right, if tried at all, under this Statute of high treason, to be tried in Ireland, before an Irish Court and by an Irish jury. This Court, this jury, the public opinion of this country, England, cannot but be prejudiced in varying degree against me, most of all in time of war.
I did not land in England ; I landed in Ireland. It was to Ireland I came ; to Ireland I wanted to come ; and the last place I desired to land in was England. But for the Attorney General of England there is only “England” — there is no Ireland, there is only the law of England — no right of Ireland ; the liberty of Ireland and of the Irish is to be judged by the power of England.
Yet for me, the Irish outlaw, there is a land of Ireland, a right of Ireland, and a charter for all Irishmen to appeal to, in the last resort, a charter that even the very statutes of England itself cannot deprive us of — nay, more, a charter that Englishmen themselves assert as the fundamental bond of law that connects the two kingdoms..” (…more here).
I say that Roger Casement
did what he had to do.
He died upon the gallows,
but that is nothing new.
Afraid they might be beaten
before the bench of Time,
they turned a trick by forgery
and blackened his good name.
A perjurer stood ready
to prove their forgery true ;
they gave it out to all the world,
and that is something new.
For Spring Rice had to whisper it,
being their Ambassador,
and then the speakers got it
and writers by the score.
Come Tom and Dick, come all the troop
that cried it far and wide,
come from the forger and his desk,
desert the perjurer’s side.
Come speak your bit in public
that some amends be made
to this most gallant gentleman
that is in quicklime laid.
While awaiting his fate, Roger Casement became concerned as to how he would comport himself on his final walk. He commented : “I hope I shall not weep, but if I do it shall be nature’s tribute wrung from me – one who has never hurt a human being – and whose heart was always compassionate for the grief of others..”
At the very end he had converted to Catholicism and was accompanied in his last moments by his chaplain, Fr Thomas Carey. When the fatal day dawned, he did not weep. In the words of Fr Carey – “..he marched to the scaffold with the dignity of a prince…”. The hangman, John Ellis, was later to describe him as “the bravest man it fell to my unhappy lot to execute”.
Incidentally, the hangman John Ellis ‘practiced his trade’ for 23 years, from 1901 to 1924 ; before he bloodied his hands, he worked as a hairdresser in Rochdale, in Lancashire, England, and then as a newsagent. He was a heavy drinker and, between that and (maybe?) his conscience, he shot himself in the jaw in 1924, but survived the injury.
However, taking your own life was a crime at the time and he was charged and bound over for 12 months at Rochdale Magistrates Court. In 1932, at 58 years of age, he had better luck – he managed to kill himself by cutting his throat with a razor.
‘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.
THE RETREAT :
The armoury was emptied at 3pm and immediately the order was given “Into the truck!”. At once every Volunteer at that sector jumped in and the truck sped towards the gate. The Volunteers at the guardroom withdrew and boarded the truck when it got to them.
One Volunteer, carrying a Thompson machine gun, got into the cabin of the truck in order to be in a position to handle any ‘hold up’ outside.
WE LEFT GOUGH BARRACKS :
A perfect action completed in twenty minutes, although a maximum of thirty minutes had been allowed. The pivots of the plan were speed, coolness and precision timing, and all three were adhered to.
(END of ‘The Armagh Action’ ; NEXT – ‘London Ceremony’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (23RD FEBRUARY) 129 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF A REPUBLICAN GAMEKEEPER-TURNED-FREE STATE POACHER.
In February 1893 (two dates – 22nd and 23rd – are listed with various sources), in Cork, ‘baby Frank’ was born into the Gallagher family and was educated at the Presentation Brothers College and the University College in that city.
He obtained a position with ‘The Cork Free Press’ newspaper and was appointed as the ‘Parliamentary Correspondent’, covering the ‘Home Rule’ debates in both Ireland and England.
The subject of Irish participation in ‘WW1’ was the reason why he fell-out with his bosses at that ‘paper, leading him to leave and to take a job with ‘The New Ireland’ weekly newspaper.
Frank B. Gallagher (pictured) was a republican activist, and involved himself with various committees which brought him into play with Roger Casement, George Plunkett and Robert Brennan, among others and, when the latter (who was then the publicity director for Sinn Féin) was ‘arrested’ by the British, Frank Gallagher stood in for him. He organised anti-conscription rallies and spoke at election campaign meetings all over Ireland.
As well as his publicity work for the Republican Movement he was an officer in IRA ‘H Company’, 3rd Battalion, Dublin Brigade, and served time, in 1919, in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin and, on being released, he continued with his republican activities ; he took over the production of ‘The Irish Bulletin’ but was imprisoned by the British again in 1920, going on hunger-strikes in protest (the shortest lasting three days, the longest 41).
His journalism work brought him into contact with Desmond Fitzgerald, Erskine Childers and Éamon de Valera.
Between July and September in 1922, when the city of Cork was secured and occupied by the IRA, Frank Gallagher was placed as the editor of ‘The Cork Examiner’ newspaper but he was ‘arrested’ – this time by the Staters – in October 1922, and incarcerated until 1924.
When he was released he became de Valera’s right-hand man and worked with him to establish the Fianna Fáil party in 1926, acted as director of publicity for Fianna Fáil and toured America with his new boss, selling ‘the benefits of the Treaty’ to anyone that would listen. He made contacts in American journalism and used same to publish ‘puff pieces’ about that vile document.
His new political colleagues appointed him as the editor of their in-house sheet, ‘The Nation’, where he resided for two years. In late 1931 he was announced as the editor-in-chief of the new ‘The Irish Press’ Fianna Fáil newspaper and, within months of his appointment – as proof of his ‘republican credentials’- he published an article which was critical of how the right-wing Cumann na nGaedheal State Administration, which had been the governing party in the Free State since 1922, was treating IRA prisoners.
In early 1932, he was summoned before the Free State’s ‘Military Tribunal’ on a charge of ‘seditious libel’ for having published that article and was fined £50 as punishment.
However, all was not well for the ‘IP’ staff, financially – Mr Gallagher and his team were poorly paid and were expected to put in between ten and sixteen hours a day so, in 1933, they complained to their management (in effect, Fianna Fáil) and, true to form for that party, promises were made. And broken.
Frank Gallagher offered his resignation but was persuaded to remain by more promises, so he stayed put. But, in 1935, he resigned after a hired-in ‘efficiency expert’ insisted that increased output could be obtained without extra cost. By then, the Fianna Fáil party was in power in Leinster House and Mr Gallagher was appointed to the position of ‘Deputy Director’ of the State broadcasting service, ‘Radio Éireann’, but he continued to maintain a media profile by writing ‘Letters to the Editor’, in support of Fianna Fáil policy, to various newspapers and, indeed, contributed regular columns for publication in same.
In 1939, he was given a new position – as the ‘Director of the Government Information Bureau’ – and was then moved to the State Department of Health as their PR man and then, in 1951, he was moved back to the ‘GIB’, as the director, where he stayed for three years.
In 1954 he was placed into the ‘National Library of Ireland’ and there he remained until 1961. He assumed the pen name of ‘David Hogan’ and wrote at least six political books, drawing on his previous republican escapades to fill them.
Frank B. Gallagher died, at 69 years of age, on the 16th July 1962, at a Dublin nursing home, having made a good living from a State he once fought against.
ON THIS DATE (23RD FEBRUARY) 101 YEARS AGO : CORK IRA GO TO THE FLICS…
At about 8pm on the 23rd February, 1921, a section of the 3rd West Cork Brigade’s Flying Column (pictured), led by Tom Barry, entered the town of Bandon with the intention of ambushing a unit of British soldiers attached to the Essex Regiment.
On their way to their pre-arranged ambush positions in Bandon, Tom Barry and another Volunteer encountered two RIC members who had just left a cinema on North Main Street and they challenged them – both of these British ‘policemen’ were shot ; a ‘Constable’ Frederick Perrier (‘Service Number 73253’) and a ‘Constable’ Con Kearns (aka ‘PJ Kerins’) ; the two RIC men had ran into a house to escape their attackers and the IRA Volunteers went after them. Perrier was shot dead and Kearns/Kerins was wounded in the kitchen of that house, and died later from those wounds.
Meanwhile, as that operation was taking place, another section of that Flying Column in a different part of Bandon captured two British Army soldiers and two members of the British Navy, and took one other military operative prisoner as well.
The two uniformed soldiers (Lance-Corporal Herbert Leslie Stubbs and Private James Arthur Knight of the Essex regiment) were killed and the two British Navy men were released. Incidentally, RIC operative Perrier was a ‘naval man’ before he joined the RIC on the 24th September, 1920.
The IRA withdrew from the area and later released their other prisoner – he was instructed to give a written message to British Army Major Arthur Ernest Percival (who was known to copy IRA guerrilla warfare/ Flying Column tactics) stating that those two Essex Regiment soldiers were killed as a direct result of the conduct of that regiment in the Cork area.
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.)
‘Just And Impartial Legal Structures’ :
We are, if we were to believe ‘The Irish News’ newspaper, well on the way to achieving those just and impartial legal structures which would allow us to give our unqualified allegiance to the forces of ‘law and order’. But there are still a few problems to be overcome, mind you ; they are most fortright about the cases of the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four and the Maguires, but they can afford to be – almost no-one outside the British Government still maintains they had anything to do with the charges on which they are in prison.
Four separate editorials are devoted to these cases in which phrases such as “..mockery of justice…evidence of a miscarriage of justice..discredited British legal system..” flow freely. It warns that “..the whole credibilty of the British legal system hangs on these three cases..” (January 7th, March 4th, April 9th).
The message in these editorials is twofold : firstly, they provide a chance for the editors to take a certain distance from the British Government, as a means of retaining some credibility with their readers and, secondly, it is a plea to the British to make some demonstrable move that would reinforce the case for supporting the Treaty on the basis that political reform is taking place… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (23RD FEBRUARY) 101 YEARS AGO : THREE RIC MEMBERS SHOT DEAD IN DUBLIN.
On Wednesday, 23rd February 1921 – 101 years ago on this date – three country-based (ie non-Dublin based) RIC members were in Dublin City Centre on their way to lunch in the Ormond Hotel, having been in their headquarters in Dublin Castle to give information on captured IRA men from outside the capital.
The practice of bringing British operatives from country areas into Dublin to identify country-based IRA prisoners was common enough, and had been noted by the IRA.
The three RIC members – Martin John Greer (who had joined the RIC on the 1st April, 1914 [‘Service Number 67768’], and was transferred to the ‘RIC Reserve’ in Dublin on the 26th March 1920), Daniel Hoey and Edward McDonagh – were crossing the road at the junction of Parliament Street and Essex Street in the city centre when three IRA men (all members of Collins’ Squad) – Bernard Byrne, Jimmy Conroy and Mick Reilly – confronted and challenged them, pulled their weapons and shot them.
RIC men Martin John Greer and Daniel Hoey died at the scene, and Edward McDonagh died later from his wounds.
Martin Greer was 27 years of age when he died and was a native of Cootehall, in County Roscommon. His membership of the RIC was following in a family ‘tradition’ – his father, James (61 at the time of his death), was an RIC Sergeant with twenty years ‘service’ and his brother, Thomas (23 at the time of his death) had been a member for five years : they were both shot dead by the IRA on the 27th May, 1922, in Knocknacarrow, Cootehall. The RIC, at that time, were in the process of being disbanded.
RIC member Daniel Hoey (33), from Lancashire in England, had only been initiated into that grouping in the month previous to his death and RIC member Edward McDonagh (24) was from Tuam, in County Galway ; ‘Constable’ McDonagh was shot in the leg and managed to flee across the street but he was shot again, and fell through a shop window. His father, James, later received £750 compensation and his sister, Elizabeth, received £250.
‘SINN FÉIN NOTES…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
The ‘Joseph Mary Plunkett’ Cumann, Clydebank, have planned a ‘Commemoration Concert’ for Clydebank on Easter Sunday night. They believe it will be the biggest republican function ever held in Clydebank.
NEW CUMANN :
New Cumann have been formed during the past month in Moate, County Westmeath ; Roscrea, County Tipperary ; Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin ; Dublin North-West ; Beauparc, County Meath ; Ballyforan, County Galway ; Dungiven, Draperstown and Newbridge, County Derry ; and Clara, County Offaly.
Arrangements are being made for the formatiuon of new Cumainn in Ballybofey, Kinlough and Tullaghan, County Leitrim ; Lifford, County Donegal ; and applications are being received daily for information about membership of Sinn Féin and how new branches may be formed.
SINN FÉIN POLICY :
The Sinn Féin Social and Economic Programme and the National Unity and Independence Programme must be read by all Irishmen and women who are anxious to work for the unity and independence of Ireland. (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (23RD FEBRUARY) IN…
In Cashel, County Tipperary, on the 23rd February 1919, a meeting of IRA Officers from the South Tipperary Brigade was held in a Mr Donnelly’s house in Nodstown, Boherlahan, to decide the most effective response to the recent British declaration that South Tipperary was now regarded as a ‘Special Military District’ (the British were still smarting from the recent Soloheadbeg Ambush).
Brigadier Séumas Robinson (pictured), Officer Commanding of the Third Tipperary Brigade IRA, agreed that a Proclamation should be drawn up and issued, ordering the complete evacuation from South Tipperary of all British military and ‘police forces’ and their supporters and agents, and stating that those who remain will be judged to have “forfeited they lives”.
But IRA GHQ in Dublin were not in favour of issusing such a declaration and instructed Brigadier Séumas Robinson to ensure that any document of that nature was not to be seen in public ; however, thousands of copies of it had already been printed for distribution and those at the meeting were very disappointed that it was not to be used.
Their Brigadier stated that he would follow the order from Dublin and that he would see to it that any Volunteer that he seen distributing it in public would be severely disciplined.
But, over the following weeks, hundreds of copies of that declaration were posted in public places all over South Tipperary, but the Brigadier never saw anybody fixing them in place and so no action was taken against those responsible. Whoever they were… (An ‘Irish solution…’!)
A British-imposed curfew was foisted in Dublin City on the 23rd February, 1920, under ‘DORA’ legislation (‘Regulation 13’). The ‘stay-off-the-street’ hours were given as from 12 midnight to 5am, and the overall ‘Competent Military Authority’ (Westminster) had instructed a Major-General by the name of Gerald Farrell Boyd to issue that ‘writ’.
Mr Boyd had a load of important letters after his name, including ‘C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O. and D.C.M.’ and was assessed by an historian attached to the Leicestershire Regiment in the following manner –
“Major-General G F Boyd had a most attractive personality. He was young. He was handsome. He had a smile for everyone. He had a brain like lightning and an imagination as vivid.
When the 46th Division was placed in his hands he seized it as an expert swordsman seizes a priceless blade. This was just the weapon he had been looking for. He would wield it as it had never been wielded before. He would breathe his luck upon it ; with it he would leap to victory…”
Jolly Hockeysticks and all that, but that historian should have asked the Irish people what they thought of Mr. Boyd.
Anyway – the poor man died of cerebral spinal fever in 1930.
Near the end of February 1921, a list was released by the British ‘authorities’ in Dublin Castle naming members of its ‘police force’ (RIC) who had gone to meet their makers on the 23rd February that year. All of those listed ‘Died from Unnatural Causes’, according to those ‘authorities’ :
‘Perrier, Frederick W. // Fennessey William. // Greer, Martin John. // Hoey, Daniel. // Keane, Timothy. // McDonagh, Edward.’
On the 23rd February 1921, in Duncannon in (South-West) County Wexford, an RIC patrol was returning to their barracks when one of their trigger-happy members thought it would be a good idea to get in some target practice (…at a target that wouldn’t shoot back).
He pulled his hand gun from its holster and took aim, and fired at, a flock of near-by crows. He fired off a few rounds before the birds scattered and, while attempting to re-holster his gun, it slipped from his grasp and he hurriedly tried to grab it ; it went off, and the bullet hit one of his colleagues, RIC member William Fennessy. He died from the wound two hours later.
‘Constable’ Fennessy was born in Knockanimrish in County Kerry and first practiced his ‘peace keeping duties’ in the British Army – the 2nd Battalion of the ‘Irish Guards’ – which he joined on the 27th January, 1915 (‘Service Number 6625’) before taking up such duties in the British ‘police force’ in Ireland (‘Service Number 67060’).
Among a batch of letters which came into the possession of IRA members in Cork was one written by a Mr. D. McDonald, who lived on Evergreen Road, near Turners Cross, in that city.
The contents of that letter pointed to the fact that Mr. McDonald was employed by enemy forces as a ‘spotter’ ; he was passing information on IRA suspects and activity to the RIC and the British Army. He was friendly to local republicans and IRA men and was using that ‘friendship’ to garner whatever information he could get and pass it on to his ‘real friends’ in the British military.
It was on either Sunday or Monday, 20th/21st February 1921, that his home was placed under observation by at least two IRA men, who had received instructions from their superiors to deal with the man. On Wednesday 23rd February he was spotted in the vicinity of Evergreen Road (after the British-imposed curfew hour) and shots were fired at him from close range. He fell to the ground, and the Volunteers left the area.
However, the next day it was discovered that he was still alive – one bullet had found its mark but five other bullets only removed some amounts of skin but didn’t penetrate him. The IRA held an investigation into the incident and discovered that the .45 bullets which were fired at McDonald were defective – they were part of a batch which had been liberated from the British Army and it was later rumoured that enemy forces had tampered with those munitions before setting them up for the IRA to take.
Anyway – the wounded McDonald was taken to Cork Military Barracks by the British Army and remained in there, until the ‘Truce’ of July 1921. He then went to England where he kept himself to himself.
On Friday, 21st January 1921, eight young IRA Volunteers from the 1st Battallion IRA had set up an ambush for a Black and Tan patrol at Tolka Bridge, in Drumcondra, Dublin. But the Tans had been tipped-off about the operation and, when the Volunteers realised that, they attempted to leave the scene.
The Tans opened fire at them, killing one of the Volunteers, capturing five, with two others managing to escape.
On the 23rd February 1921 – 101 years ago on this date – the five Volunteers were charged with ‘high treason’ at a court martial, presided over by a British Army Lieutenant-Colonel Powell, which lasted for two days. Edmund A. Swayne acted on behalf of the five accused, but all were found guilty and sentenced to death ‘by rope’.
The eight Volunteers were Lieutenant Francis (Frank) Flood, 19, who was hanged in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin on the 14th March 1921 ; Thomas Bryan, 24, hanged on the 14th March 1921 ; Patrick Doyle, age 29, hanged on the 14th March 1921 ; Bernard (Bertie) Ryan, age 20, hanged on the 14th March 1921 ; Michael Francis (Mick) Magee, 24, shot, captured, and died later from his wounds ; Dermott O’Sullivan, age 17, captured by the Black and Tans but his death sentence was commuted due to his young age. Mick Dunne and Seán Burke both escaped capture on the 23rd February.
‘Forgive us this tense hour, oh, brothers brave
If we who stay less courage show than you
Who face the lonely highway of the grave
Unawed, to all high promptings grandly true.
Forgive us, should our anguish break your peace
Or darker thoughts our prayers for you disturb ;
Still fettered we – for you the Great Release
Your courage shall our grief’s fierce tumult curb,
What though the felon’s hemp they round you cast
One waits Who “well knows how the matter passed…” ‘ (By Maeve Cavanagh.)
On the 23rd February 1922, a Donegal man, 27-year-old Charles Herbert Burns, from Kilmacrennan in that county, was shot dead by the IRA in a grocery shop in Milford, County Donegal.
At 18 years of age Mr Burns had enlisted in the ‘North Irish Horse’ Regiment of the British Army and, within a few months, found himself ‘doing his duty’ in France. At 24 years of age he was placed in ‘Class Z, Army Reserve’, and he then returned home to Donegal.
Himself and a colleague were ‘out and about’ in Milford on the 23rd February 1922, for ‘Fair Day’, as was an IRA unit, under the command of Commandant James Walsh ; but the Volunteers were working – they were stopping and searching all vehicles entering the town when they noticed two men stop in their tracks, turn around quickly and then run in the opposite direction.
A number of Volunteers followed the two men and observed as they hurriedly entered Alcorn’s grocery shop, and they went in after them. The two men were ordered to raise their hands, and one of them did so. The other man, Charles Herbert Burns, had his hands in his coat pockets and was again instructed to raise them in the air. He didn’t, and was asked to do so a third time.
He pulled a gun from his coat pocket but was shot dead by IRA Volunteer Patrick Connelly before he could use it.
On the 23rd February, 1923, Free State troops were ambushed by an IRA column at Shramore, in County Mayo. One Stater and a medical orderly were killed. The Staters were returning to Westport, in County Mayo, with eight prisoners when they were ambushed and, after a seven-hour gun battle, two of their number were killed.
The IRA column involved, under Commandant Joe Baker and Jim Moran, were resting in Buckagh, Newport, County Mayo, on the 23rd February, 1923, when a scout told them that the Staters had arrested eight men in Shramore and were on their way to the town of Treenbeg. The IRA column set up an ambush position on and around the school in Treenbeg and attacked the Free State Army. During the seven-hour battle a Stater was shot and fell to the ground and a medical orderly from his grouping ran over to him and he was seriously wounded.
Seeing this, a Free State Captain, Edward (Ned) Colleran, called out to the IRA column leaders for a truce, which was agreed, and a few minutes later a young schoolboy, Paddy McGovern, carrying a white flag, was sent by the Staters over to the ‘dissidents’ to ask if they had a doctor in their ranks – but they hadn’t. The medic died from his wounds ; his name was McQuaid and years later his brother became Archbishop of Dublin.
An IRA column was surprised by Free State Army troops near Cluid, County Galway. One republican was killed and eighteen were captured and sentenced to death. Six of the prisoners were later executed ;
‘This memorial was dedicated in 1985, at the site of the execution of six anti-treaty soldiers. They were stood at this wall, then part of the old Tuam Workhouse, and executed by a Free State Forces firing squad on the 11th of April 1923. These men were killed in part in reprisal for the deadly attack on the Headford Barracks on the 9th of April, where two members of the Free State Forces lost their lives and five were wounded. These men, however, were already in captivity, having been captured at Cluid, County Galway on the 23rd of February the same year.
The men who died here were An Captaen Proinsias O Cuinneain (Captain Frank Cunanne) of Headford, An Leiftenant Sean Maguidhir (Lt. Sean Maguire) of Cross Cong, An t-Oglach Sean O Tnuthail (Volunteer Sean Newell) of Headford, An t-Oglach Seamus O Maille (Volunteer Seamus O Máille) of Oughterard, An t-Oglach Micheal O Monachain (Volunteer Michael Monaghan) of Headford, and An t-Oglach Mairtin O Maolain (Volunteer Martin Moylan) of Annaghdown…’ (From here.)
This corrupt Free State was built by rogues on the blood of brave, up-standing people like those mentioned above.
On the 23rd February, 1923, 226 men from Derry crossed the British-imposed border into Donegal ; the RUC had been founded on the 1st June 1922 and was hiring, and its leadership had let it be known that the that the Leinster House administration was anxious to recruit unionist ex-soldiers and ex-Specials as they were likely to be ‘far more vigorous in the execution of their duties against republicans’ than those joining from the Free State. Thus the reason for the exodus.
The RUC Commissioner noted that most new recruits had joined-up because they were unemployed ie ‘they signed up out of poverty’ ; they were “out of work ne’er-do-wells”, according to the RUC themselves. Pot, kettle, comes to mind.
On the 31st December 1922, ‘Sir’ James Craig was supplied with information which showed that, between the 1st April and 31st December 1922, 1,685 men left the Occupied Six Counties to join the Free State Army (181 of whom were from Derry) but that 246 of them returned to the O6C, apparently preferring to be an unemployed ‘ne’er-do-well’ rather than an employed one.
We can’t find any more details on this incident, which is only carried by one source, that we know of –
On the 23rd February, 1923, the Free State Army raided a house in Phibsboro, Dublin – number 14 Royce Terrace – and ‘arrested’ five men that they found there. Those men were named as ‘Robinson, Thornton, Brown, Blacknelly and Byrne’, and were said to be all officers in the 1st Battalion of the Dublin Brigade IRA.
This tragedy is not political in nature, but we can’t sign off without mentioning it : on the night of Monday, 22nd February 1943 and Tuesday morning, 23rd, 35 children and one adult died in a fire at St Joseph’s Orphanage in County Cavan. An electrical fault caused the fire, and the nuns running the orphanage were not aware of it until late in the night. The children ranged in age from 4 to 18 years old. The cook aged 80 years also lost her life.
More here ; this incident would bring tears to your eyes. RIP to all who lost their lives.
Thanks for the visit, and for reading,
Sharon and the team.