Carlow Fianna Eireann

Fianna carlow

Members of Carlow Town Fianna Éireann proudly pose alongside their symbol, the Fianna Sunburst Flag with their Sluagh mascot lying underneath at a local Christian Brothers School in 1915.

Included in this photograph are Christian Brother McKenna seated alongside the noted Republican priest Fr. Thomas Burbage and to the right Brother Foran. According to Michael Purcell of Carlow Scouting, “they are about to leave the school grounds in College Street and march to the sound of bagpipes and drums to the Cathedral to have the flag blessed.”

Records for the Fianna in Carlow both pre-1916 and post-1916 are scant and the military pensions records confirm that “no records of Carlow Fianna were submitted to the referee for the purposes of the 1934 [Pension] act”, and “nobody got a pension under either the 1924 or the 1934 Act in respect of pre-truce Carlow Fianna  membership” .

Despite this, five applications were received under the 1924 Act as follows:

  • Peter O’Farrell , O/C of the 1st Battalion, Carlow Fianna was credited with non-pensionable Fianna service for the critical [Pre-Truce] period.


  • Frank Hutton, Lieutenant and captain of 1st battalion Carlow Fianna, was also credited with non-pensionable Fianna service for the critical [Pre-Truce] period.


  • John Walsh, membership of ‘A’ Company Carlow Fianna. His superior officer, Peter O’Farrell, commented in his pension statement that he was “not a very useful member”. Regardless of this, he was still credited with non-pensionable Fianna service for the critical [Pre-Truce] period.


  • Denis Hogan also claimed membership of A’ Company Carlow Fianna, and received references from Peter O’Farrell. He was credited with non-pensionable Fianna service for the critical [Pre-Truce] period.


  • James Rice claimed membership of the Carlow Fianna. The records indicate that the verification form was sent to the wrong officer, who claims he did not know Mr. Rice. He was consequently not credited with either pensionable or non-pensionable Fianna service. He did appeal but it is not known if he was successful.

*The records also point to a Peter Branagan who claimed he was a member of the Carlow Fianna and later applied under the 1934 Act. He was unsuccessful.

It is also noted that some of the above applicants did receive a service medal and because of this, the board of assessors did “implicitly accept the existence of the Carlow Fianna” in the pre-Truce (Tan War) period. They, however, indicated that “it was possible, and indeed likely that in Carlow the Fianna had become moribund or brushed aside at the critical period, [with] the Fianna officers continuing to work for the IRA”.

A note in the pension records also remarked that “Carlow was not very warlike”.

While the above alludes to limited Fianna activity in Carlow during the Tan War, there is no hard evidence of pre-1916 Fianna activity, in either the witness statements or the military pensions. Despite this the above 1915 photograph attests to the fact that they did exist albeit on a small scale.  Although I would hazard a guess that the photograph may be dated from 1914 (rather than 1915) prior to the Volunteers split; in Carlow’s case most sided with Redmond.

The image with (1915 date) appeared in local historical journal ‘Carlow Now and Then’ in 1998

John ‘Sean’ Healy, Na Fianna Eireann

John ‘Sean’ Healy, 14 (or 15)* years old, was a member of the Fianna Eireann North Frederick Street Sluagh. John was also known as ‘Jack’ to his family. He lived at No. 188 Phibsborough Road. He went to school at the local Saint Peter’s National School. He joined the Fianna in 1913. When the Fianna was restructured in 1915, his branch became No. 6 Company in the Fianna Battalion. Sean Heuston, who was also vice-Commandant of the Dublin Battalion, was also his Company commander.

In 1916, he was involved in the transportation of arms across Dublin on Easter Saturday, and when the Rising began on Easter Monday he had not yet received mobilization orders. By Tuesday, April 25th, he made his way towards the Jacobs Garrison. Commandant MacDonagh gave him a dispatch to deliver to an officer at Phibsborough Bridge, knowing he lived nearby and in the hope that he would then go home. Healy did venture home briefly to inform his mother that he was all right but as he made his way back to Commandant MacDonagh he was shot in the head near Byrne’s Corner, Phibsborough, not far from his home.

His last words were reportedly “God Bless the Volunteers”. (Cumann na mBan booklet on ‘The Fianna Heroes of 1916’ published in 1931). While it has been reported in many books that he died instantly, according to the Sisters of Mercy, Healy was brought to the Mater hospital where his “brain was hanging out all over his forehead, he only died two days later”. (Community of the Sisters of Mercy, BMH WS 463).

Sean died from his wounds on April 27th 1916. A plaque now marks the spot where he was shot.

* Death certificate states John was 14 years old at the time of his death, as do other sources however several also state he was 15 years old (see his plaque and ‘Fianna Heroes of 1916’ publication). He was apparently born in 1901 but I couldn’t locate his birth certificate. Joe Duffy’s book contains an extract from a relative of Sean, stating that he was 15 years old in 1916.

John Healy Death Certificate 1916


Healy Family Census Return 1911

Barney Mellows Autograph Frongoch 1916

“My countrymen, awake! arise!
Our work begins anew!”

Autograph of Herbert ‘Barney’ Mellows, a brother of Liam, and Adjutant-General of Fianna Eireann. The entry is in an autograph book from Frongoch in 1916.

The text is a reference to a 19th century poem by Denis Florence MacCarthy entitled “A New Year’s Song”. An appropriate quote, and fitting for the time, and the situation Barney and his comrades found themselves in following the Easter Rising!!

Autograph source:

Eamon Martin – 1916 Veteran

Eamon M Portrait FINAL-2

Eamon Martin (1892-1971)

Dublin Brigade Commandant Na Fianna Eireann – 1915-1916

Member of Na Fianna Eireann Executive Council – 1910 -1922

Director Recruiting and Organisation Na Fianna Eireann – 1915

Captain Irish Volunteers – 1913-1916

Member of the original Irish Volunteers Provisional Committee – 1913

Irish Volunteers Executive – 1914-1916

Member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood – 1911-1922

Member O’Donovan Rossa Funeral Organising Committee – 1915

Chief of Staff Na Fianna Eireann – 1917-1921

Chairman Rathdown Rural District Council – 1920-1922

Dublin County Councillor – 1920-1921

Dublin District Court Judge – 1920

Member six man IRA(IV)-Fianna Eireann Composite Council – 1920-21

Assistant Secretary at the Department of (Munitions) Purchases – 1920-1921

President of The 1916-21 Club (on several occasions throughout 1940s and 1950s)

Roll of Honour Magazine Fort and Four Courts Garrison Easter Rising 1916

Member of the Michael Collins Memorial Committee

Trustee of Kilmainham Gaol Restoration Society

President of the Old Fianna Association

Member of the Official State 50th Anniversary Easter Rising Committee

Chairman of the Wolfe Tone Memorial Committee

*Portrait of Eamon Martin by Italian artist Gaetano de Gennaro

Portrait courtesy of the Eamon Murphy Fianna Archives

Permission must be sought for any reproduction of the above image.

Officers of 2nd Battalion, Dublin Brigade Fianna Eireann, 1919


Credit: Evening Herald Archives

Three members of Fianna Eireann in Tuam, Galway in 1914


Credit: Evening Herald Archives

Fianna Eireann Football Team Tuam 1914


Credit: Evening Herald Archives

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