Monthly Archives: March 2014

Sean Cole and Alfred Colley

Sean Cole and Alfred Colley

In August 1922, during the Irish Civil War, two senior Fianna Eireann officers, Sean Cole, Commandant of the 2nd Battalion (Dublin Brigade) and Alfred Colley, Commandant of the 1st Battalion (Dublin Brigade) were arrested by intelligence members of the National Army at Newcomen Bridge on the North Strand and taken to Yellow Road, Whitehall in North Dublin and shot dead. It was believed to be an act of reprisal for the shooting of Michael Collins, which took place a number of days before.

They were apparently on their way home from a meeting of local Fianna officers. Their deaths were a terrible blow for the Fianna Eireann organization at a time when the tide was rapidly turning against them. Many senior officers, including those on the GHQ, were by now arrested and detained by the Free State government so the loss of such experienced and active members of the Fianna caused significant damage to both the moral and running of the organization.

Alfred Colley’s family requested a small private funeral and he was buried with a Fianna Guard of Honour. Sean Cole’s burial was a larger affair and he was given a full military funeral, with a firing party. Countess Markievicz delivered a graveside oration.

Today a plaque commemorates the spot where the two young men lost their lives.

Na Fianna Eireann badge

Na Fianna Eireann emblem from a 1959 'Golden Jubilee' publication.

Na Fianna Eireann emblem from a 1959 ‘Golden Jubilee’ publication.

Fianna League of America

Fianna League of America

“The Fianna League of America”

In early 1914, senior Fianna Eireann officer Michael Lonergan emigrated to New York in America.

Lonergan had been one of the most active of all the Fianna officers since its inception in 1909. He was one of those at no. 34 Camden Street on August 16th 1909 and since that historic day he worked hard and devoted his life to the cause.
When he made the journey to the United States he didn’t give up his passion for Ireland or the boys of Fianna Eireann.

In a letter sent to his old comrades on the Fianna executive he tells of being inspired by watching the annual Bodenstown pilgrimage in 1914 on a newsreel in a movie theater and he recalled that “the Fianna got a good cheer as they marched past on the screen”. He went on to say that their “kinsfolk in America have learned of our doings in connection with the Howth gun-runnings, and immediately the value of our organization jumped in their estimation”.

With this momentum, he set about establishing an honorary Fianna organization to be known as “The Fianna League of America”. He contacted as many prominent Irish-Americans as he could to assist in this new movement. Among those who he contacted, and who eventually agreed to help, were John Kenny, President of the Irish Volunteers committee in New York, Joseph McGarrity of Clan na Gael, P.J. Conway President of the Irish American Athletic Club, Patrick Kavanagh, President of the New York Gaelic League, Michael Murray, President of the Shamrock Club, John Carroll, President of the Irish Republican Veteran’s association, and a host of other well connected Irish Americans.

Michael became the new organization’s first treasurer and secretary and John Kenny of the Irish Volunteers Committee was elected president.

The annual subscription was one dollar and all funds were sent back to Fianna headquarters in Dublin.

The organization was a huge success, even attracting members from non-Irish backgrounds. On September 7th 1914, not long after the establishment of the league, a ‘Monster Athletic Carnival’ was organized by the Fianna League and held at Celtic Park to raise awareness for their own association and the Fianna and Volunteers back in Ireland. The event also proved to be a successful fundraising exercise, raising thousands of dollars of much needed funds for the movement back home.

by Eamon Murphy

“Unionists Demand Suppression”

In February 1912 a unionist MP asked in the House of Commons, whether the ‘War Office’ would suppress a new organisation known as the ‘Irish National Boy Scouts’.

The boy scouts he referred to were, of course, also known as Na Fianna Eireann, and had been in existence since 1909 so it is interesting that concerns were raised at this particular time. The timing of these parliamentary questions can probably be explained by the fact that unionists and members of the Orange Order were forming local militias in Ulster around the same time, in early 1912.

The unionists were probably sensing the potential of these ‘boy scouts’. No doubt they feared that the Fianna could possibly act as a counter-balance to their own intentions. Thankfully, and rather naively, Chief Secretary Birrell laughed off Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke’s fears and claimed he had nothing to worry about with this ‘trivial’ organisation.

The Fianna were at this stage, already secretly preparing for future military action and were drilling and engaging in target practice and other military training. Most of the senior Fianna officers were, at this time, members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and were not long after this, training other members of the IRB in military procedures in preparation of the formation of the Irish Volunteers in 1913.

I think the Fianna had the last laugh!!!!

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