Monthly Archives: May 2020

Sean Forde – Fianna Eireann and Irish Volunteer

Sean Forde

Sean Forde was born in Tuam, Galway in 1895.

He joined the Fianna in 1912 and transferred to the Irish Volunteers in 1914.

He mobilized on Easter Monday 1916 for the Magazine Fort mission.

He fought in the Church Street area for the remainder of the week. He was arrested following the surrender. He was held at Stafford Gaol and later Frongoch and was released in August 1916.

He transferred to the 2nd Battalion following the re-organisation of the Volunteers and was appointed 2nd Lieutenant of his Company. He was later promoted to 1st Lieutenant. In 1919 he was arrested and sentenced to six months imprisonment. He was one of those who famously escaped from Mountjoy Prison in March 1919. He was arrested again during a shootout in Talbot Street, Dublin in October 1920; his comrade Sean Treacy was killed in the ensuing struggle. In early 1921 he became Brigade Intelligence Officer and later Deputy Director of Intelligence at GHQ.

He reported to the Anti-Treaty HQ at Barry’s Hotel at the outbreak of the Civil War and later fought at the Hammam and Gresham hotels. He escaped from ‘The Block’ and was not arrested until October 1922. He was interned at Hare Park and was released in May 1924.

In his later years he worked as a civil servant and was private secretary to Dr. James Ryan, T.D..

He died 15th December 1971 and was buried at Balgriffin Cemetery.

Image Credit:


The Fianna’s Role in the Formation of the Irish Volunteers in 1913

Irish Vols 2

Na Fianna Eireann were instrumental in the formation and development of the Irish Volunteers in 1913.
In February, 1914 Patrick Pearse said that ‘we believe that Na Fianna Eireann have kept the military spirit alive in Ireland during the past four years, and if the Fianna had not been founded in 1909, the Volunteers of 1913 would never have arisen
In 1913 the I.R.B. hierarchy decided to begin the process of military training. This decision was taken with the objective of training the members of the I.R.B. ‘to ensure that they would have the skills necessary to take a leading role in the new (Irish Volunteers) movement’.
Four young Na Fianna Eireann officers, who were also I.R.B. men, Eamon Martin, Cornelius Colbert, Michael Lonergan and Padraig O’Riain, were chosen to conduct the training. These four young men were already highly competent in military procedures and drilling, and had been training for the previous four years in the Fianna.
Na Fianna Eireann was a nationalist scouting body that had been formed four years earlier, by Hobson and Countess Markievicz, with the objective of the ‘re-establishment of the Independence of Ireland’. This was to be realised by the ‘training of the boys of Ireland, mentally and physically, to achieve this object by teaching scouting and military exercises, Irish history and Irish language’.
Eamon Martin, one of those I.R.B. instructors, recalled that Con Colbert was the first Fianna instructor back in 1909:
He was our first instructor in the elementary drill formations [in 1909], and I am afraid he was no great expert at this time. By intense swotting [of British Army manuals], however, he improved as the weeks went on, and, consequently, so did the Sluagh [Fianna branch]’.
It was now down to these four young men to prepare the I.R.B. members in drilling and other military training ‘in order to be ready to take over the military control of the new body’. Drilling took place in the Irish National Foresters Hall at 41 Parnell Square.
Image credit: Department of Ephemera at the NLI

Tribute to Madame Markievicz

Scan_20200507Tribute to Madame Constance Markievicz by Eamon Martin

The salute to Markievicz appeared as an introduction piece, by former Fianna Chief of Staff Eamon Martin, in the souvenir programme of the ‘Dinner and Musical Evening’ organised by the Association of Old Fianna, for veterans of the revolutionary period.

The event took place at Clerys of Dublin on Saturday 30th June 1945.

The dinner consisted of Oxtail Soup as a starter, Roast Beef & Vegetables for the main course, followed by Raspberry Sponge and Coffee to finish it all off.

As well as a dinner and musical performances, a number of films of footage of the 1916-1921 period were also shown on the night. The programme stated that “the advisability of showing a newsreel of the fighting in 1922-23 has been questioned

Approximately 500 Fianna veterans and their partners attended. Some of those who attended on the night included Robert Holland, Ina Connolly Heron, Eamon Martin, Patrick Joseph Jordan, Seamus Kavanagh, Joseph Reynolds, Christopher ‘Kit’ Martin, Sean Nugent, Michael Oman, Seamus Pounch, Nora Connolly O’Brien, Seamus Reader, Frederick Schweppe and Frank Thornton.

The organising committee was as follows:

Chairman: James Carroll

Hon. Secretary: P. Young

Hon. Treasurer: M. Confrey

Committee members: J. Valentine, J. Grant, J. Markey, P. Byrne, L. Craig & W. McEvoy

Easter 1916 Commemoration 1947

GPO Commemoration 1943

The Reading of the 1916 Proclamation at the Annual Easter Rising Commemoration at the G.P.O. in Dublin, 24th April 1947.

The Proclamation of Easter week, 1916, was read in Irish and English, by Sean O’Byrne, son of a deceased 1916 Volunteer.

To his left are Piaras Beaslai and Eamon Martin, two surviving members of the Original Volunteer Executive.

Beaslai and Martin, 1916 veterans, took the salute at the platform. They were both active at the time in veteran organisations including Dublin Brigade Old I.R.A, Association of Old Fianna and the 1916-21 Club which was established in 1942, of which Martin was the current vice-President .

Others on the platform were Walter Carpenter, T. Cooney, Sean O’Duffy, J. Mallon and Miss O’Hanrahan.

The commemoration that year was organised by the United Conference of Old I.R.A. Over 1,000 veterans took part and 13 different organisations were represented, including Na Fianna Eireann, Cumann na mBan, Irish Republican Army and Irish Citizen Army.

Photograph: Eamon Murphy Fianna Archives