ON THIS DATE (9TH MARCH) 68 YEARS AGO : IRISH REPUBLICAN ICON BORN.
Bobby Sands (pictured, left) – born on this date (9th March) 68 years ago (1954).
Bobby Sands was born on the 9th March 1954 – 68 years ago on this date – in Belfast and, on the 9th April 1981, he was elected as ‘an abstentionist member of parliament’ (having received 30,492 votes) after being nominated to contest a seat by Dáithí Ó Conaill, the then vice president of the then Sinn Féin organisation.
Bobby Sands was, as far as Irish republicans are concerned, a ‘Teachta Dála’ (TD) who was elected to take a seat in a 32-county Irish parliament, unlike the Free State representatives who sit in an institution in Kildare Street in Dublin today and claim to be ‘TD’s in an Irish parliament’ and, indeed, Bobby’s motives and those of Dáithí and the other then Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle members who nominated him to contest the election were pure, unlike the motives of the self-serving time-keepers who sit in that Kildare Street premises.
The motives of the former involved a principled unwillingness to allow themselves and the struggle they were part of to be criminalised and to highlight to the world that they were fighting a political struggle against Westminster and its allies in this country. Others, however, are not as principled when it comes to issues of this magnitude.
Bobby Sands was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for his alleged part in a fire-bombing campaign which, as part of an economic war against the British presence in Ireland, targeted business premises (in this instance, the Balmoral Furniture Company) with the intention of making it financially unviable for Britain to maintain its grip on that part of Ireland, a fact which present-day Provisional Sinn Féin members seek to ignore or gloss over when referencing the so-called ‘ineffectual/grubby deeds’ of those who continue that struggle today.
On the 9th April, 1981, Bobby Sands was elected by 30,492 of those that voted in the Fermanagh/South Tyrone district, prompting, years later, this thesis from a republican leader : “Contrary to allegations made in the news media, there was not a straight line from the election of Bobby Sands in 1981 to the Stormont Agreement of 1998. Rather was the line from March, April and May 1981 to the same months in 1998 disfigured and distorted by an internal power-struggle for the leadership of Sinn Féin accompanied and followed by deceit and artifice as the ideals of Bobby Sands were steadily perverted and a section of the then powerful revolutionary Republican Movement turned into a constitutional party…” (from here).
Bobby Sands died in Long Kesh Prison on the 66th day of his hunger-strike on the 5th May, 1981, at 27 years of age.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, July, 1954.
Addressing himself particularly to the English people among the audience and to the many others of various nationalities, many of them in uniform, Tomás O Dubhghaill said – “Sometimes we are told that the English people, and other nations, find it difficult to understand the Irish claim ; I will try to illustrate it for you – a few years ago there was a great danger of an invasion of this country.
After the ‘Battle of Dunkirk’ the likelihood of a German invasion of England was very great and there was great fear that had a German army managed to land, they would have swept through the country. In such an event one would naturally expect that every Englishman worth his salt would rally to oppose the invaders.
Supposing that after bitter fighting they had forced the invader to withdraw from most of the country but that the Germans had continued to hold on to Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent and that area, would not the Englishman still feel it their duty to continue the struggle, to fight on until every German soldier had been forced out of the last inch of English soil? That precisely is the Irish position…” (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (9TH MARCH) 101 YEARS AGO : IRA MAN WHO REFUSED THE OPPORTUNITY TO ESCAPE WAS DECLARED ‘GUILTY’ BY HIS BRITISH CAPTORS AND THEN EXECUTED.
IRA Volunteer Patrick Moran (pictured, left):“I don’t want to let down the witnesses who gave evidence for me…”
– the words of Patrick Moran, Adjutant of D Company Irish Volunteers, 2nd Battalion (Dublin), to his comrades Ernie O’Malley (who had passed himself off to the British as ‘Bernard Stewart’) and Frank Teeling as they were about to walk to freedom through a gate in Kilmainham Jail in Dublin, which they had forced open, on the 14th of February 1921. Patrick Moran believed he would be found innocent at his ‘trial’ and saw no reason why he should take the opportunity to escape.
He was a ‘dangerous man’, as far as Westminster was concerned, and had been imprisoned in Dublin Castle on the 7th of January 1921 and charged with the ‘murder’ of two British Army/paramilitary gang members, Ames and Bennett, after been mistakenly identified as having been involved in the shooting dead of both men – Lieutenant Peter Ashmun Ames and British Army Lieutenant George Bennett (both of whom were in command of ‘The Cairo Gang’) on the 21st of November 1920 at 38 Upper Mount Street in Dublin.
Patrick Moran stayed behind on the night of the prison break ,refusing to take part in same, having encouraged Simon Donnelly to go in his place, a decision which was was to cost Patrick Moran his life.
On the 15th of February 1921, he was put on ‘trial’ (during which sixteen people and an RIC man verified he was elsewhere!) but was, as expected, found ‘guilty’ and, three days later – on the 18th of February 1921 – he was transferred to Mountjoy Jail, Dublin.
On Wednesday, 9th of March 1921 – 101 years ago on this date – Patrick Moran was sentenced to death and he was executed by hanging five days later, on Monday, the 14th of March. He had defended the integrity of his country in Jacob’s Factory Garrison during Easter week in 1916, where he served under Thomas MacDonagh, and had been imprisoned at Knutsford and Woorwood Scrubs in England, and in Frongoch Internment Camp in Wales. He was one of ‘The Forgotten Ten’ in that he, and his nine comrades, were ‘forgotten’ by the State but have always been remembered by the Republican Movement.
Finally, the planning and execution of the escape itself is worthy of a few paragraphs : On the 11th February 1921, Frank Teeling and Ernie O’Malley were joined in Kilmainham Jail by Simon Donnelly, who was taken into their confidence and told of the up-coming plan of escape. The peep-holes in the cell doors were three inches in diameter and, if one of the men could get his arm through it, it would be possible to open the door from the outside ; the plan then was to make their way to the yard, as the men had noticed that the door leading from the prison to the yard was usually left closed-over, but not locked, and then cross the yard to a large iron gate on the west side of the jail, cut the bolt on it and escape.
A ‘Plan B’ had been made in case the bolt cutter should fail – IRA Volunteers from ‘F’ Company, Fourth Battalion, Dublin Brigade, would take up positions outside the prison wall with a rope ladder and, awaiting an agreed signal, throw in the rope attached to the ladder, so that the prisoners could haul the ladder over to their side of the wall.
Oscar Traynor (on the left, in this photograph), IRA Dublin Brigade O/C, had secured a bolt cutter and that, along with two revolvers, were packaged and smuggled into the prison by a friendly British soldier. The prisoners were not sure that the bolt cutter would be up to the job but were determined to carry out the escape plan, as Frank Teeling was in line for execution ; on the night of February 13th, 1921, the three men made their way to the outer prison gate but, as the handles of the bolt cutter were incorrectly fitted, they were unable to cut the bolt.
They went to ‘Plan B’, and gave the signal for their comrades on the other side of the prison wall to throw in the rope attached to the ladder – the rope snagged on top of the wall and snapped when the men outside attempted to pull it back to them. The three prisoners had no alternative but to return to their cells. The following day, the British soldier who was in on the plan repaired/adjusted the handles on the bolt cutter and, that night, at 6.30pm, the three prisoners decided to make another escape attempt.
The three Irish republican prisoners again made their way down to the gate and, this time, the bolt cutter worked. They used butter and grease, which they saved from their meals, to help ease the remaining portion of the corroded bolt out from its latch and two of the men got their revolvers at the ready as the third man pulled on the heavy door which creaked open sluggishly on its rusty hinges and the three men walked out!
Simon Donnelly had tried to persuade Patrick Moran to join them, but Moran – who was not involved in shooting Ames or Bennett, and had what he considered the perfect alibi for that night – refused to leave the prison except by the front gate as a free man.
Patrick Moran paid with his life for relying on British ‘justice’ : as stated above, on Wednesday, 9th of March 1921 – 101 years ago on this date – Patrick Moran was sentenced to death and he was executed by hanging five days later, on Monday, the 14th of March. Not the first innocent man to be put to death by the British, and not the last Irish person to be punished by them in revenge.
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.)
In a 550-word editorial on events at Finbarr McKenna’s funeral, only 65 words were devoted to raising what the newspaper called “questions” about the “validity” of shooting plastic bullets into the crowds of mourners. In fact, it was only in the second half of the editorial that the role of the RUC was mentioned at all. Confrontation was “inevitable” because “Sinn Féin thrive on conflict” and were “out in force”, not to honour a fallen comrade, but “to ensure the strongest possible political capital from the macabre events on the Falls Road..” (May 17th).
The massacre at Loughgall rates a mere 250 words, and even here the real blame is laid at the feet of the IRA, not the SAS assassins.
The outrages of the RUC provoked mild criticism but, at the end of the day, ‘The Irish News’ newspaper prefers British law to Irish justice. Some attempts have been made to present a more sympathetic view of the RUC. When two RUC men were shot dead by the IRA in April, the paper moralised “…the most basic human right is that of living…and being able to fulfil the responsibility of caring and helping ease the burden of those with whom we must exist on a daily basis. The two policemen (sic) would have been justified in believing they were adhering to that simple philosophy..” (April 12th). (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (9TH MARCH) 101 YEARS AGO : TWO IRA INFORMERS EXECUTED.
On the 9th March, 1921, the bodies of two men were found near Aghabog, in County Monaghan.
The two dead men were named as Francis McPhillips (21) and Patrick Larmour (23), an IRA member, and both had been executed by the IRA as informers. The remains of both men were found in Aghabog Lane ; they had been blindfolded and shot at close range, and each body had a placard pinned to it. The script on the notice attached to the body of McPhillips read ‘Convicted Informer. IRA.’ and the script on the body of Larmour read ‘Tried, Convicted and Executed by IRA’.
The ‘Ancient Order of Hibernians’ in County Monaghan claimed that Francis McPhillips was killed by the IRA because he was one of their members, but this was denied by local republicans. He lived with his mother and his six sisters in Corleck, Aghabog, and worked on the 30-acre family farm, and was indeed an ‘AOH’ man.
John Sullivan, an IRA man from the same area as Francis McPhillips, became aware that McPhillips and Larmour “…were spying and giving information..” to a local clergyman, a Reverend Gaskin, and to the B-Specials : McPhillips was giving a beaten by the IRA, tied to the railings of Aghabog Church and told to stop what he was doing “..but it was no use. He continued his activities.”
Two IRA men dressed themselves in RIC uniforms, held a pre-arranged meeting with McPhillips and asked him about the IRA in his area ; he spoke freely to the two ‘policemen’ and, at about 4am on the morning of the 9th March, 1921, one of his sisters, Margaret, answered a knock on the door of the family home and a number of armed and masked ‘policemen’, wearing long coats as a uniform, told her to get her brother, Francis, as they wanted to talk to him about weapons which they had in their possession, and he was taken into their ‘custody’. He was shot dead about one mile from the family farm.
Patrick Larmour, a Volunteer with the Rockcorry Company, Monaghan Brigade IRA, had previously been caught by the Black and Tans with an IRA document in his possession – he was in the process of delivering the dispatch when he chanced upon a game of ‘toss-the-penny’ and decided to try his luck. The Tans intervened, broke up the game and searched all those present, finding the IRA document in Patrick Larmour’s pocket.
He was ‘arrested’ by them and taken to their barracks where he devulged all he knew about republican activity in the area, naming names of local republican activists and supporters who were then ‘arrested’ by British forces, causing severe disruption to republican offensive and defensive action in that part of County Monaghan.
Republicans in the vicinity were divided over the punishment that should be handed down to Patrick Larmour as he was, according to some IRA sources, “timid and easily scared”, and Francis McPhillips was later described by a local priest as “not up to the normal mental standard” but, be that as it may, they knew the penalty for touting, and were dealt with accordingly.
The discontent in County Monaghan over the executions of the two men was picked-up on by the British and, in May 1921, their propaganda department made public a letter which they claimed had been posted home by a British soldier in Ireland in which this soldier wrote that “…at least seventy five per cent of the I.R.A. are not active members but joined either because they were forced to or as a matter of precaution because the district in which they lived happened to be terrorised by a mob of ruffians…the flying columns in the majority of cases have lost heart and are frequently made to work at the point of the revolver.
They are held together by fear for if they desert they are shot by their own comrades while if they are captured they are shot for murder. Consequently they have no alternative but to carry on with their policy of terrorism and crime…”
Westminster propaganda against those who resist British “terrorism and criminal actions” is well documented and needs no further comment from us.
Incidentally, the IRA executed about 155 touts in the first seven months of 1921 ; Larmour and McPhillips were two of seven killed by the Monaghan IRA between 1919 and 1921. No doubt all such killings were availed of by Westminster propagandists, native and foreign.
A “WORM WITH LEGS” WHO ROARED LIKE A LION!
Adam Smith (pictured, left), the ‘Father of Economics’. He was born in Scotland (on a date unknown) and baptised there on the 16th June 1723, and is perhaps best known for his work entitled ‘The Wealth of Nations’ (which he wanted to call ‘An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations’).
It was on this date, the 9th March, 246 years ago (in 1776) that the above-mentioned book was published. He lived in late 18th Century Edinburgh, and was shunned completely by society ; he was known to ramble around in a trance, not properly dressed, and was of a very nervous disposition (ie he ‘twitched’ constantly) and spoke loudly to himself. His appearance was said to be that like a “worm with legs”. He never married and lived all his life with his mother.
While ostracised by the establishment of the day, he certainly had their measure – “People of the same trade seldom meet together even for merriment and diversion but the conversation always ends in a conspiracy against the public” and was wary of politicians : “There is no art that one government sooner learns from another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people.”
A far-sighted man, in our opinion, morally and mentally ahead of those that considered themselves the superior class. Just thought we’d give him a quick mention!
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
To unite Ireland it is necessary to unite Irishmen ; no thoughtful person will deny such an obvious proposition.
To unite Irishmen is to unite Ireland ; it is as simple as that in theory and not so difficult as it seems in practice. What is necessary is that public opinion should rally around this idea and show its disapproval of the type of anti-partition propaganda which vilifies brother Irishmen instead of directing all its force against the real enemy. How the latter must chuckle when he sees this kind of thing occuring!
Just what he hoped for when he instituted partition – divide and conquer. It is for us to unite and re-conquer. It should not be necessary to have to teach such a simple lesson in the year 1955, but the briefest examination of the type of anti-partition propaganda that has been used (without effect) in recent years will confirm the suggestion, here made, that the concept of ‘United Irishmen’ has been almost forgotten.
We have heard, ad nauseam, of the ‘Orange Terror’ and the pogroms, of gerrymandering and jobbery, of unionist intransigeance and Catholic resistance. We have heard, in fact, that Ireland is divided into two parts and, what is far worse, we have told the world that this is so. Therefore, we have retained enemies at home and failed to win friends abroad. We have faithfully served our British master…
ON THIS DATE (9TH MARCH) 115 YEARS AGO : DUBLIN WITNESSES ‘THE RISING OF THE MOON’.
On the 9th March, 1907, a play entitled ‘The Rising of the Moon’, by Isabella Augusta Persse Gregory (Lady Gregory, pictured, left) premiered in Dublin in the Abbey Theatre, and was also produced by that venue. The cast included W G Fay, J M Kerrigan, J A O’Rourke and Arthur Sinclair : ‘On a moonlit night at an Irish wharf by the sea, three Irish policemen in the service of the occupying English government pasted up wanted posters for a clever escaped political criminal. Convinced that the escaped rebel might creep to the water’s edge to be rescued by sea, they all hoped to capture him for the hundred-pound reward and perhaps even a promotion. The Sergeant sent his two younger assistants with the only lantern to post more leaflets around town while, uneasily, he kept watch at the water’s edge. A man in rags tried to slip past the Sergeant, explaining that he merely wanted to sell some songs to incoming sailors…’ (from here.)
The lady author was born in Roxborough House, near Loughrea in County Galway, and was schooled at home by a nanny, Mary Sheridan, who obviously passed-on her interest in Irish history to her pupil. At 28 years young, Isabella married ‘Sir’ William Henry Gregory, who ‘owned’ a large estate at Coole Park, near Gort, in County Galway, thus conveying on her the title ‘Lady’ : as a ‘Lady of Leisure’ who now found herself in the ‘Big House’ she availed of the large library and, when not reading, accompanied her husband on business trips throughout the world.
Her education, the library and her foreign travels sparked within her a love of the written word and she quickly became a published author.
Her husband died when she was 41 years of age but she continued to live in ‘the Big House’, where her interest in all things Irish was nurtured, to the point that she practically converted the house into a ‘retreat’ for those who, like her, were smitten by Ireland and its troubled history – Edmund John Millington Synge, William Butler Yeats (and his brother, Jack, a well-known painter), George Bernard Shaw (who described her as “the greatest living Irishwoman”) and Sean O’ Casey were amongst those who visited regularly and, indeed, she was believed to have had romantic connections with the poet Wilfrid Blunt and a New York lawyer, John Quinn.
Despite her privileged lifestyle (or, indeed, perhaps due to it, as it afforded her the time to ‘look within her soul’) Isabella Augusta Persse Gregory, who had a regular ‘audience’ with the ‘Upper Class’ of the day, loudly declared to all and sundry that it was “..impossible to study Irish history without getting a dislike and distrust of England..”. A ‘poacher-turned-gamekeeper’, if you like but, unusual in our history, one who ‘turned’ the right way.
She died in that ‘Big House’ on the 22nd May 1932, at 80 years of age, and is fondly remembered by those of us who share her convictions and agree with her “impossible to study…” declaration.
The academic Mary Maguire Colum said of her – “With all her faults and snobbery, she was a great woman, a real leader, one of those who woke up Ireland from the somnolence and lassitude it was too prone to fall into. It is very doubtful that Yeats could have produced as much work as he did without her help. It is almost certain that, but for Lady Gregory, the Irish national theatre would have remained a dream, or ended in being that failure that so many hopeful undertakings in Ireland became.”
Isabella Augusta Persse Gregory : 15th March 1852 – 22nd May 1932.
ON THIS DATE (9TH MARCH) IN…
On the 9th March, 1919, an uprising began in Egypt against British occupation ; more than 800 Egyptians were killed in two weeks of fighting – ‘First, independence reflects the will of the people. It is taken, rather than given. The Egyptian people wrested their freedom through a popular revolution, which is considered one of the greatest in human history.
Broad-based nonviolent demonstrations erupted, condemning British occupation and the colonial administration of Egypt…following the exile of popular pro-independence leaders. Egyptians from every religion and social class, and for the first time women, were moved to action…’ More here.
A Waterford man, Thomas Ryan (39), was ‘on duty’ in the RIC Barracks in Hugginstown (Baile Hugúin), in County Kilkenny, on the 9th March, 1920, when he and his colleagues came under attack from the IRA. ‘Constable’ Ryan was killed in the attack.
The IRA operation began at about 11pm and lasted for about 90 minutes ; those inside the barracks panicked further when the then wounded Thomas Ryan asked for a priest to attend him and they surrended. IRA Volunteers then entered the badly damaged building, liberated a quantity of rifles and revolvers and returned to base.
In early March 1921, the 16th century Dromagh Castle, near Millstreet in County Cork, was being prepared by British forces to accommodate a grouping of RIC operatives and their colleagues in the Auxiliaries.
The IRA knew what was happening and, on the night of the 9th March, 1921, the Kanturk Column and Millstreet Battalion Column of the Volunteers attacked the soon-to-be outpost/barracks and set it on fire. It was, as such, a successful operation but one instance leading up to that operation was less so –
“On the 9 March 1921, Irish volunteer, John ‘Congo’ Moloney was on guard duty at Nadd until 6 p.m. At the end of his shift he walked the short distance to David Herlihy’s house which was known as ‘The Barracks’. It was here he was billeted with Michael Kiely, Joe Morgan, Ned Waters, Jack Cunningham and Jeremiah Daly.
When Moloney arrived at Herlihys, Cunningham and Daly had already left to take part in the burning of Dromagh Castle. Little did three members of the Company realise that this was to be their last night on earth. Morgan, Kiely, Waters, Herlihy and Moloney gathered around a turf fire, eventually retiring to bed about midnight on the 9 March. Moloney, Kiely and Morgan slept on a mattress in a room off the kitchen on the ground floor, whilst Herlihy and Waters slept upstairs…” More here.
On the 9th March, 1921, IRA man Denis Murphy, from Donoughmore in County Cork, found himself on ‘trial’ in Victoria Barracks in Cork for his part in ‘the Dripsey Ambush’. He was sentenced to death but, on the 17th March, he was notified that sentence had been commuted to 25 years penal servitude.
On the 9th March, 1921, a four-man grouping of RIC members were ‘on patrol’ in Shronebeha (Srón Bheithe), near Barony, in County Cork, under the command of a man named James George and, as they were walking over ‘Father Murphy’s Bridge’, they came under attack from the Cork Number 2 Brigade, IRA.
Nicholas Somers (22), who had joined the RIC in April, 1920 (‘Service Number 71336’) and was stationed in Banteer, in North County Cork, died on the bridge. His comrades later claimed that they tried to fight off the IRA unit but had to surrender when they ran out of ammunition, but the IRA report into the ambush stated that the RIC men “…did not return the fire. Our men closed in on those in cover and after some difficulty poked them out of the bushes..”
Three ‘long Webleys’ and 1 ‘short Webley’ were taken from the RIC grouping, as were 48 rounds of ammunition. The IRA unit stated that it was their intention to execute the remaining RIC members but a local priest came on the scene and asked them not to kill them ; the frustrated IRA men told the three enemy agents to resign immediately or they would be killed, and they let them go.
Nicholas Somers’s next of kin received £1600 in compensation.
In March, 1921, a 65-year-old farmer, James Kennelly, was working on his farm in Moybella, near Lisselton, in County Kerry, when he was shot in the chest by a member of a passing RIC patrol and died from the wound. It was said locally that the RIC were seeking revenge on any locals in reprisal for an IRA attack on their barracks on the 25th February. Mr Kennelly presented as an easy target for their rage. He is buried in Gale Cemetery, in Ballydonoghue, in County Kerry.
(NOTE – some sources state that the poor man was shot dead by the RIC on the 7th March 1921 ; also, a James Kennelly is buried in Galey Cemetery, which is located within the townland of Garryard, in County Kerry – that man died on the 8th March, 1921.)
On the 1st March, 1921, the IRA executed two informants in Thurles, in County Tipperary – James Maher (given the codename ‘Rockam’ by his British handlers) and Patrick Meara (‘Swordy’). Both touts had become close friends with local RIC and Black and Tan members ; they were taken across fields to Ballytarsna, South-East of Thurles, and shot dead.
On the 9th March that year a grouping of masked men (RIC and Tans) broke into the home of the Loughnane family in Mitchel Street, Thurles (a well-known republican family in the area) and shot 23-years-old William Loughnane dead in his bed.
The same night, Laurence Hickey (a well known local republican) was also shot in his home in Main Street in Thurles and a third man, Denis Regan (a prominent Thurles IRA Volunteer) was shot several times thart same night, by masked Auxiliary men, in a separate incident, but survived the attempted killing.
It is considered to be the case that the three attacks were reprisals for the IRA’s execution, on the 1st March, of the two informers.
(And while we’re on the subject of informers, TG4 TV will be showing the film ‘The Queen Versus Patrick O’Donnell’ on Wednesday, 16th March 2022, which references the execution of the informer James Carey. Should be worth a watch.)
On the 9th March, 1922, two RIC members were attacked in Hanover Street, in Cork, and one of them – Dudley O’Sullivan (‘Service Number 82505’) was killed.
Also, on that same date in Belfast, a 15-years-young child, John Roddy, from Broadbent Street, died from a gunshot wound he received two days earlier, and a 58-years-old blind man, Patrick Morgan, from Upton Street, was shot dead in a doorway in the Carrick Hill area, where he was trying to shelter from a gunfight which had broke out around him.
And on the 9th March, 1922, an ex-British soldier, Benedict Leith, was shot in the head in Regent Street, Belfast, and died at the scene.
In the North Thomas Street area of Belfast, on the 9th March 1922, a two-years-young child, Terence Murphy, was shot in the leg by a sniper and died from the wound two days later.
On the 9th March, 1923, the South-East Kilkenny area was raided by Staters from Kilkenny, Clonmel and Waterford, who were doing Westminster’s work in Ireland by trying to capture or kill an IRA column that was known to be operatring in the areas around Listerlin, Tullogher and Inistioge.
On the 8th March a convoy of Free State soldiers was ambushed near Mullinavat and at least three of their number were wounded ; they wanted revenge.
The FSA divided itself into three sections and, from three different locations, worked on flushing the IRA column towards Brandon Hill. One of the State groupings encountered IRA resistance near the River Nore and a gunfight ensued ; the IRA retreated, with the Staters in pursuit. One FSA member – Gerard Jeremiah Comerford (23) – was killed, and at least six IRA Volunteers were wounded.
GJ Comerford was born in Clogharinka, Ballyfoyle, in County Kilkenny, in the parish of Muckalee. He died at Coolnamuck, Inistioge, having been shot more than once. He had worked on the family farm and was an active member of the 3rd Battalion IRA before deserting to join the Free State Army. His father was ‘awarded’ £25 in compensation, which he appealed, and was then given another £25.
…1923 : :
When Frank Henderson (born 1886) was a young man he had an opportunity to join the ‘Civil Service’ in Dublin but he refused the offer as it would have meant that he would be helping to implement the British presence in Ireland so, instead, he worked for a solicitor, as a clerk, and was working in that position when, in 1903 – as a 17-year-old clerk – the English ‘King Edward VII’ decided to visit Dublin.
He didn’t see it as something worth celebrating and told his boss that he would be reporting for work as normal but the company was closing for the day ; the young clerk again stated that he would prefer to be in work that day and, following an exchange of views (!) he was sacked for refusing to pay homage to ‘his majesty’.
He joined the IRA and was active in the GPO during Easter Week in 1916, following which he was interned at Stafford and Frongoch and, on his release in December 1916, he reported back for duty. He progressed through the ranks of the rebel army and, during his service, operated as Captain of ‘F’ Company, 2nd Battalion of the Dublin Brigade IRA and then as Adjutant of same.
On the 9th March, 1923, he was ‘arrested’ by the Staters and, on his release the following year, he fell in with a bad crowd – he associated with the Staters to the point that, in 1926, he joined the Fianna Fáil grouping and was on the ‘National (sic) Executive’ of that organisation, was co-opted on to Dublin Corporation in 1934, was defeated in the urban council elections three years later and unsuccessfully contested a seat in the Free State Seanad in 1938.
He died on the 13th January, 1959, at his home, 83 St Mobhi Road, Glasnevin, Dublin, and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.
Thanks for the visit, and for reading.
Sharon and the team.