Na Fianna Eireann in Gorey, Co. Wexford

Na Fianna Eireann in Gorey, Co. Wexford

Na Fianna Eireann in Gorey, Co. Wexford.

By Eamon Murphy

A ‘Sluagh’ (or branch) of Fianna Eireann, who were also known as the ‘Irish National Boy Scouts’, was officially formed in Gorey on the 11th January 1914. This was five days after a branch of the Irish Volunteers was established in the town.

Liam Mellows, with strong family connections to the area, had been a regular visitor to Gorey throughout 1912/13 with the objective of forming a unit of Fianna Eireann, and he had been working closely with Sean O’Byrne, Sean Etchingham, James Gleeson and other local republicans.

In 1914, Mellows attended the first official Fianna Eireann meeting at the Gorey Town Hall and addressed the local recruits; his speech was met with rapturous applause. He outlined the aims and objectives of Fianna Eireann. He stated that their object was to ‘re-establish the Independence of Ireland through the training of the youth of Ireland, mentally and physically, to achieve this object by teaching scouting and military exercises, Irish History, and the Irish language’.
Upon joining the new members had to declare that they ‘promise to work for the independence of Ireland, never to join England’s armed forces and to obey my superior officers’. Fianna Eireann was open to ALL Irish boys, irrespective of their class or creed.

Sean O’Byrne was unanimously elected President of the branch. Another prominent local republican, Sean Breen was appointed as its first commander.

In all ninety (90) local boys joined Fianna Eireann that day and an adult committee was formed to manage the branch. It was one of the largest branches in the country at that time, outside of the main regional capitals of Cork, Belfast, Limerick and Dublin.

The Gorey ‘Sluagh’ was named after 1798 local hero Miles Byrne.

*Photograph of Gorey Town Hall circa 1900. Photo by Robert French and available to view on the National Library of Ireland’s website.

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4 responses

  1. I am interested in finding a photo of Sean Etchingham, can you help

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    1. Hi Bill, there are one or two that I posted up on the Gorey and Courtown History Facebook page. Here is one: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151269388555739&set=o.197392687061192&type=3

      Are you related?

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      1. Hello Eamonn

        Thanks for the quick response; Unfortunately I do not use Facebook so can’t access the picture.

        I am not related to Sean but I am following up a possibility that he is one of the unidentified people in the famous photo of the Paddy O’Donoghue wedding (June 1919), with Michael Collins as best man.

        The basis for my hunch is somewhat tenuous. My Uncle Con Cronin, who was at the wedding and is in the picture, told me many years ago the names of two noted figures who were in the picture, both named Sean. I remembered clearly that one was Sean Milroy but could not positively remember the other Sean. Investigation has led me to the conclusion that the forgotten name was possibly Sean Etchingham, so I am looking for a photo of him, reasonably close to June 1919, to compare with the wedding photo. I may be way off the mark but it’s the best guess I can make at the moment

        Best wishes
        Bill
        (e-mail: wegan[at]pcug.org.au )

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  2. Further to my message re Sean Etchingham, further examination of the FiannaEireann site has enabled me to rememember that the other Sean my Uncle identifies was Sean McGarry, not Sean Etchingham
    Thanks
    Bill Egan

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