“Countess Markievicz, her dog ‘Poppett’, Theo Fitzgerald and Thomas McDonald, members of Na Fianna Eireann, photographed at Waterford in 1917.”
The above photograph shows Countess Markievicz and senior Fianna officers Theo Fitzgerald (Assistant Director of Training and Organisation) and Thomas McDonald (Waterford O/C) in 1917. According to Patrick Hearne, Waterford Vice-Commandant, Markievicz was invited down to Waterford to give lectures to the local Fianna Sluagh. Hearne recalled that Markievicz “lectured in the City Hall on the 1916 [Rising]. She was accompanied by Theo Fitzgerald. Afterwards a banquet was held at the Metropole Hotel”.
Theo Fitzgerald, who accompanied Markieviciz, was one of the longest serving Fianna members. He attended the original Fianna meeting, along with his brothers, in August 1909. During the 1916 Rising he served with the Boland’s Mills Garrison.
Following the Rising, Theo was on the Fianna reorganizing committee, along with Eamon Martin, Seamus Pounch and Joe Reynolds. Theo was also Captain of Fianna Company No. 5 Harcourt Street from 1916 until January 1917. He later briefly became Commandant of the 2nd Dublin Battalion following the 1917 Fianna Ard Fheis. He was also O/C of the Sean Heuston Sluagh. He served on the Fianna GHQ staff as assistant Director of Training and Organisation.
In December 1919 he resigned from his Fianna duties and he applied for a transfer to the Engineers Battalion of the Dublin Brigade IRA. He was arrested in 1920; he was sent to Dublin Castle, then to Kilmainham, Arbour Hill and finally interred in Ballykinlar. He was released in December 1921.He joined the National Army in 1922 and rose to the rank of Commandant until his demobilization in 1924.
Theo came from a large family (six brothers and three sisters). They lived on Great Brunswick Street (later Pearse Street). Several of Theo’s brothers and sisters were involved in the movement. One of Theo’s brothers, Leo Patrick Fitzgerald, also a former member of Na Fianna Eireann, was killed during the Pearse Street ambush on 14 March 1921. One of Theo’s sisters married Sean McMahon (IRA QMG during the War of Independence and later briefly National Army Chief of General Staff). Theo Fitzgerald married Aine Malone, sister of Lieutenant Michael Malone who was killed during the Battle of Mount Street Bridge in 1916.
Thomas (or Tommy McDonald) joined Na Fianna Eireann in Waterford City around 1914. Within a short period of time he was appointed O/C of the Waterford Fianna Sluagh. Tommy was also a prominent member of the IRB in Waterford. During the War of Independence McDonald was arrested and sentenced to six months in Waterford Gaol.
Photograph courtesy of Padraig Og O Ruairc and taken from his book “Revolution Revolution: A Photographic History of Revolutionary Ireland 1913-1923”. Padraig’s book has just been re-published and is available online and in bookshops.
Text and research by Eamon Murphy