“In the year 1912, during the many walks I had with Willie Walsh, my uncle, he hinted occasionally that things might be soon stirring in Ireland again and that even young lads like myself would be catered for. Naturally enough, I did not realise the full significance of my uncle’s words at the time, but later on in that year I had reason to remember what he said when I learned that a ‘Sluagh’ of Fianna Eireann was being established in Waterford city.
My first connection with the Fianna occurred in the latter half of the year 1912, when I attended a meeting in the Gaelic League hall, William Street, Waterford, to inaugurate the movement. Amongst those present at that first meeting were Tom Walsh, a son of the proprietor of the “Munster Express” newspaper, Paddy Heron, Tom Barr and John (Bismark) Power. There were about sixteen of us lads in the ball where we were addressed by Liam Mellows who explained the objects of the Fianna, after which the Sluagh officers were appointed. So far as my memory serves me, the first officers were: Captain, Tom Barry; Second Officer, Paddy Heron; and myself as Secretary, or perhaps more correctly described as Adjutant.
Our first public appearance was on the occasion of a procession in the city to honour the Manchester Martyrs in November 1912. We paraded in the Fianna uniform, it being the first time that uniform was seen in public in Waterford city. By that time, Tommy McDonald, afterwards O/C of the Fianna in the city, had joined us. We met for weekly drills in the hall in William Street, and at a Feis held in Waterford in July, 1913, gave a drill and first-aid display in the grounds of the Presentation Convent.
Liam Mellows used to visit Waterford regularly at this time, giving instruction to us in first-aid and general organisation. In the course of his organizing duties, he brought me with him to New Ross, Co. Wexford, Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary, and Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. In the latter town, the Fianna organizer was George Lennon who was, in later years, to become 0/C of the West Waterford I.R.A. Flying Column. As a result of these frequent visits by Mellows, I got to know him well. He told me that, sooner or later, we of the Fianna would be called upon to continue the work where the Fenians had left off.” – James Nolan, Fianna Eireann, Waterford.
*Photograph of William Street, Waterford City in 1913. Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.
Text courtesy of the Bureau of Military History.