The Dublin Metropolitan Police files detailing the movement of ‘extremists’ in Dublin, reported on 12th July that the Fianna Eireann Ard Fheis took place.
The file read as follows:
“William J. Langley, (Sinn Fein) Tuam, arrived at Broadstone at 9.50pm and went direct to 12 D’Olier Street but the place being closed he continued his journey to 49B Leinster Road, the residence of Countess Markievicz, where he stayed overnight. The Annual Congress of the Sinn Fein Boy Scouts took place yesterday at 12 noon in the Oak Room of the Mansion House. Those observed in attendance included: Countess Markievicz, Bulmer Hobson, P. Ryan, C. Colbert, Wm. Mellows, and W.J. Langley, Tuam. 75 Boy Scouts in uniform were also present. As far as can be ascertained the meeting was chiefly engaged in organizing work and the question of providing further equipment with up to date rifles for the Scouts.“
DMP Files – Click to enlarge
The Ard Fheis, which took place on Sunday 11th July, was one of the most important gatherings of the Fianna in its relatively recent existence.
A resolution proposed that the Fianna adopt a Rifle as standard equipment for all third class scouts and a musketry test applied to recruits.
More significantly, the Congress voted on a radical restructuring of the Fianna organisation from a scouting body into a more military style outfit. A resolution proposed by Eamon Martin called for the title of ‘President’ to be abolished and replaced with a Chief of the Fianna. He also proposed that the Ard Choiste be replaced by a GHQ staff and for a new National Executive with County members. It was put forward by Martin, that the Fianna were by now essentially a military grouping and thus required a military hierarchy. Bulmer Hobson and Con Colbert argued against the motion saying that the educational role of the Fianna and also the scouting, civil and cultural side of the Fianna was more important. Barney Mellows responded by saying that the cultural and educational aspects would remain an important component of the Fianna organization under a restructuring. Colbert eventually came around and supported the proposal, which contained some minor amendments.
The office of the President remained and the Countess was appointed in this position however, it was claimed that it was a political move to ensure she stayed off the new GHQ staff. Markieivicz was also elected to the new National Executive but did not win a place on the new GHQ Staff.
A week after the Ard Fheis the Headquarters staff was elected as follows:
Chief of the Fianna – Padraig O’Riain Chief of Staff – Bulmer Hobson Adjutant General – Percy Reynolds Director of Training – Sean Heuston Director of Organisation and Recruiting – Eamon Martin Director of Equipment – Leo Henderson Director of Finance – Barney Mellows
It was this body which wielded the real power of the organization. Many of the Senior officers commented that this organization reshuffle was merely bringing the Fianna into line with the Volunteers in its structure, something which had been unofficially in place for the previous 12-15 months.
Story and Research by Eamon Murphy
DMP Files copyright of The Irish National Archives http://www.nationalarchives.ie/report-of-12-july-1915/