Patrick O’Connell, Fianna Eireann, Foynes, Limerick
“I have a vivid recollection of the Irish Volunteers Parade in Limerick City on Whit Sunday, May 23rd 1915. I was at that time a member of Fianna Eireann and just 16 years of age. We subscribed for and bought our own Fianna uniforms then. The green hats we got from Lawlors of Fownes Street, Dublin. In company with Michael Sheehan, another Fianna boy, also of Foynes, we donned our uniforms and set out for Limerick on our bikes that Sunday morning, arriving at the Fianna Hall before the start of the Parade. A large number of the Fianna took part in the march with the Volunteers through the City. Of the many exciting incidents during the route, I still clearly remember one when, as we passed over (I think the Sarsfield Bridge) a battalion of British soldiers came marching by and apparently, some of them passed insulting remarks about the flag borne by the Meelick, Clare Company, and heated words took place between Paddy Brennan and the officer in charge of the British, but the incident finished there.
After the Parade we returned to the Fianna Hall to receive instructions regarding the Fianna Convention to be held next day, (Whit Monday) and to which we had been invited as delegates from the Foynes Sluagh. Our invitation to the Parade and Fianna Convention, as far as I recollect, was in the form of a printed card bearing the name of James Leddan. James Leddan, Sean Houston and Con Colbert were to preside. Most of the Fianna were billeted in the Hall that Sunday night, but we were directed to a house in Davis Street. As we passed by Pery Square a man stepped from the shadow of a doorway and stopped us. He advised us not to proceed further in that uniform, so he procured us two raincoats and caps which we put on and got safely to our digs. Later that night Joe Dalton arrived with some Dublin Fianna who were armed with revolvers. We cycled home to Foynes on Whit Monday evening. Con Colbert visited Foynes soon after, and the local Fianna discussed future plans and organisation with him in the Workmen’s Club, afterwards burned down by the Black-and-Tans. The Fianna here threw in their lot with the Irish Volunteers at the split.”
Patrick O’Connell’s witness statement, given to the Bureau of Military History in 1949, can be read at the following link: http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS0329.pdf
Photograph credit: Limerick Leader newspaper archives