Commandant Louis A. Marie (1900-1957)
Louis Albert Marie was born in Dublin in 1900. His father, Charles Marie, was a well-known travelling photographer originally from France. After arriving from France, Charles first settled in Limerick where he met a local girl Bridget O’Connor, who he subsequently married. They had their first daughter, Marguerite, while still living in Limerick. In 1898 they made the move to Dublin and settled in Lower Sherrand Street, on the north side of the city. It was here where Louis Marie was born. In 1911, the Marie family moved to Fairview Strand and by this stage the family had welcomed another three children, all girls, to the fold. Louis was educated at O’Connell Schools.
In 1912 Louis joined Na Fianna Eireann and was a member of An Cead Sluagh, which was based in Camden Street; he later transferred to the Merchant’s Quay Fianna branch. Louis Marie became one of the most active, loyal and trusted younger members of the scouting organization, and was part of Countess Markievicz’s renowned ‘Surrey House Clique’.
In 1914 he took park in the Howth gunrunning. In 1915 Louis joined the Irish Volunteers while still remaining a member of the Fianna. He was attached to ‘B’ Coy of the 3rd Battalion, Dublin Brigade Irish Volunteers.
On Easter Monday, 1916 he was one of the Fianna party which attempted to blow up the ammunition stores in the Magazine Fort at the Phoenix Park, which was to be the signal to start the Easter Rising. They were partially successful in their attempt to blow up the explosives. Included in this mission amongst others were Paddy Daly, Eamon and Christopher Martin, Garry and Paddy Holahan, Tim Roche, Sean Ford, Barney Mellows and Paddy Boland.
Magazine Fort Phoenix Park Dublin
Following this mission, Louis proceeded to the GPO and then onto Annesley Bridge at Fairview until Tuesday afternoon when they pulled back to the GPO. He remained at the GPO for the remainder of the week until the surrender at Moore Street. Following his arrest he was held at Richmond Barracks until 30th April and on the 1st May was sent to Stafford Jail in England but was released six weeks later on account of his age.
Back in Dublin, Louis Marie, now living in Grantham Street with his family, began assisting with the reorganization of his old Fianna unit, under the command of senior officer Theo Fitzgerald. He also received a small allowance from the National Aid for about three weeks following his release, to enable him to get back on his feet and obtain employment. For a short period, he was also attached to ‘C’ Company of the 3rd Battalion Irish Volunteers.
In 1918, he began work as a seaman/sailor on routes between Dublin and Liverpool, and later on between Liverpool and the United States. This enabled Marie to act as a sort of liaison officer and messenger between the Fianna (and IRA) in Dublin, and the movement in the UK and the US.
In March 1920, due to being a dual Irish/ French citizen, Marie was conscripted into the French Army and he served for almost two years until December 1921.
French soldiers heading out to be the Army of the Rhine in 1921
He returned to Ireland almost immediately, sided with the Pro-Treaty faction and subsequently joined the Free State National Army in March 1922. He was stationed at Beggar’s Bush Barracks during the Civil war and saw little action. By 1924 he held the rank of Commandant. He later served at the Curragh in Kildare until he resigned from full time duties in the Defence Forces in 1929.
In 1926, Louis Marie married Eileen McGonigal, sister of former Fianna member and artist Maurice McGonigal, R.H.A.
Louis Marie was appointed Postmaster of Leeson Street Post Office in Dublin in the early 1930’s.
In 1936 Louis Marie was one of twelve former Irish Volunteer/Fianna 1916 veterans who signed the Magazine Fort Garrison Roll of Honour. However, the Roll of Honour did not accurately reflect the number of participants at the Magazine Fort; it is estimated that there was between 17-20 men/boys who took part in the raid. Several ‘Fort’ combatants signed other garrison list such as the Four Courts, GPO and South Dublin Union; several refused to sign the Roll of Honour and a number died or had emigrated.
During the ‘Emergency’ years (1939-45), Louis Marie re-joined the Defence Forces and was attached to the Western Command, and stationed at Galway and Athlone.
Irish Examiner September 1957
In 1946 after he left the army, he became assistant manager of the Theatre Royal Dublin, and later manager of the Cabra Grand Cinema and then the Theatre de Luxe in Camden Street, close to where he was a member of the Fianna all those years before. He eventually returned to the Royal as Manager and later became internal auditor of Odeon and Irish Cinema Ltd.
On 1st September 1957, Louis Marie, by now living in Blackrock, Co. Dublin, became seriously ill and sadly passed away. He was buried at Deansgrange Cemetery in Dublin. Full military honours were rendered at the graveside by a firing party from the Army. The last post was sounded by a bugler. The pall-bearers were veterans and former comrades from An Cead Slugh, pre-1916 Fianna Eireann. The attendance included artist Maurice McGonigle, R.H.A. (brother-in-law), the Lord Mayor of Dublin and several members of the Old Fianna, including Sean Saunders, Harry Walpole, Seamus Kavanagh, Seamus Pounch, Christopher ‘Kit’ Martin, Eamon Martin, Robert Holland and Albert Dyas.
An oil painting of Commandant Marie, by his brother-in-law, Maurice McGonigal, R.H.A., was commissioned by the Irish Defence Forces for display in the officers’ mess in McKee Barracks. It is not known if it still on display.
Research and article by Eamon Murphy