Category Archives: The History of Na Fianna Eireann 1909-1923

Death of Sarah Mellows

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Sarah Mellows (1865-1952)
 
“A Guard of Honour drawn from the National Association of Old Fianna, watches over the remains of Mrs. [Sarah] Mellows, mother of Liam and Barney Mellows, in the mortuary Chapel of Our Lady’s Hospice of the Dying, Harold’s Cross, Dublin” – Irish Press, 3 December 1952.
 
Image credit: Brige Woodward, O’Neill Family and The Irish Press Newspaper
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Burying Thomas Ashe: A Funeral Unlike Any Other.

Another great article from Come Here to Me!!

Come Here To Me!

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The centenary of the funeral of Thomas Ashe occurs next week, a defining moment of a year in which the revolutionary forces continued to reorganise themselves after the Easter Rising.

In some ways, 30 September 1917 was a replay of 1 August 1915, the day when P.H Pearse told the gathered mourners at the funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa that “life springs from death, and from the graves of patriot men and women spring live nations.” Now, Pearse himself was dead and gone, and the Volunteer movement had lost both men and rifles to Easter Week. The logistics of the Ashe funeral were to prove a challenge to a revolutionary movement reemerging from the shadows.

The Thomas Ashe funeral, much like that of O’Donovan Rossa, was political theatre and a propaganda spectacle, and as Fianna Éireann boyscout Seán Prendergast remembered it, “the funeral of Ashe epitomised not the…

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Thomas Ashe, Peadar Kearney and Piaras Beaslai Memorial at Glasnevin Cemetery

Thomas Ashe Memorial

“Memorial to Three Patriots Unveiled”

In 1967, the 50th anniversary of the death of Thomas Ashe, a memorial was unveiled at Glasnevin Cemetery in honour of Thomas Ashe, Peadar Kearney and Piaras Beaslai by former Fianna Eireann Chief of Staff Mr Eamon Martin.

The headstone was erected from a fund raised by a memorial committee appointed by the Association of the Old Dublin Brigade of the IRA, of which Beaslai was a one-time president.

The following are extracts from a report that featured in the Irish Independent the day after the unveiling:

“A memorial of Kilkenny limestone sculptured in the shape of a scroll was unveiled in the republican plot, Glasnevin Cemetry, to commemorate the three patriots and poets, Thomas Ashe, Peader Kearney and Piaras Beaslai, who are buried in the same grave.

At the front of the stone is a couplet from one of the poems of Beaslai:

“The freedom, fair name and happiness of the Gael were my only desires from my earliest days”.

The unveiling ceremony was performed by Mr Eamon Martin, former Chief of Staff of Fianna Eireann, who, since the death of Piaras Beaslai in 1965, is the last surviving member of the Provisional Committee of the Irish Volunteers.

The Memorial in 2017. Credit: Niall Oman, Glasnevin.

More than 400 people attended the ceremony held in brilliant sunshine, including 200 Old IRA comrades from many parts of the country.

General Richard Mulcahy, who was second in command to Comdt. Thomas Ashe at the Battle of Ashbourne, in an oration, said they were making a grave of significance where the memory of three mingled lives would, as the days passed, enlighten their memories, enoble their emotions and inspire their doings.

Present at yesterday’s ceremony were surviving relatives of the patriots. These included Miss Nora Ashe and Mr Gregory Ashe, sister and brother of Thomas Ashe; John Kearney, Mrs Margaret Burke and Mrs Maura Slater, brother and sisters of Peadar Kearney, and Messr. B Green and R. Sheehan, cousin of Piaras Beaslai.

Others present included: Mr. Vincent Byrne, Chairman of the Dublin Brigade, Old IRA and Chairman of the Piaras beaslai Memorial Committee, Colonel J B Lawless, who served under Thomas Ashe at the Battle of Ashbourne, and Mr Martin Walton, Vice-Chairman of the Memorial Committee.”

Markievicz Plaque at Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital Dublin

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A plaque that was erected at Sir Patrick Dun’s hospital in Dublin in memory of Countess Markievicz. Former Fianna comrade Eamon Martin donated this plaque in honour of his close friend. It was unveiled by Eamon Martin (left) and Eamon de Valera in 1967.

Eamon Martin also provided funds that were to be used for an annual nursing award/medal to be known as the ‘Countess Markievicz’ medal.

Sir Patrick Dun’s hospital opened in 1808 and was named after the Irish physician Sir Patrick Dun. The hospital closed in the 1980s. The building still stands and is in use by the HSE as the Dublin Public Analyst’s Laboratory (and is apparently frequently also used for marriage ceremonies) however the status of the plaque is unknown; hopefully it is still in place.

1949 Easter Rising Commemoration

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Veterans march for 33rd time, April 24th, 1949

“April 24, anniversary of The Rising, was remembered for the 33rd time when the veterans who fought that day and through the following years, marched from St Stephens Green, through the crowded streets, to the GPO.

At the GPO they were formed in four columns to hear the proclamation of the Republic.

On the platform were Comdt. – Gen Piaras Beaslai and [former Fianna Eireann Chief of Staff] Eamon Martin, the two surviving members of the original Irish Volunteer Executive.”

Irish Press April 25th 1949

Robert Briscoe

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In late August 1917, the Fianna Chief of Staff, Eamon Martin left New York City aboard the SS St. Paul bound for Dublin, via Liverpool, England. He was returning home to formally take up his position as Chief of Staff.
 
He had been elected Chief of the Fianna the previous year in the aftermath of the Easter Rising, and in December 1916 he left for the United States and reported to John Devoy of Clan na Gael on arrival. He gave many talks and lectures at Clan meetings across the US, and with his close friend Liam Mellows was very successful in raising funds for the Republican cause. He also briefly worked for the Gaelic American newspaper.
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Accompanying Eamon on the trip home to Ireland was an as yet unknown Jewish-Irish character called Robert ‘Bob’ Briscoe. Briscoe had not previously been involved with the Independence movement but was to subsequently become associated with the Fianna GHQ, and later the Volunteers/IRA – through various activities such as raising funds, providing safe houses and obtaining arms.
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Briscoe said of Eamon at the time that he had “that unusual and valuable contradiction, he was a man of great personal courage, who also had the common sense, which heroes often lacked.” Briscoe recalled that “during our long talks together [on board the SS St. Paul], Martin briefed me on the state of Irish politics. It was Eamon who set me straight on the course I subsequently followed”.
Eamon Martin and Robert Briscoe, both tailors by trade, would later established several tailoring/clothing factory businesses during the Tan War (including at No. 9 Aston Quay and No. 1 Coppinger Row) as fronts for Fianna meeting houses, safe houses, arms dumps etc. One of these businesses was raided in September 1920, which led to the subsequent court-martial of Constance Markievicz on 2nd December. She was sentenced to two years hard labour.
 
Robert Briscoe later became one of the founding members of Fianna Fail in 1927; and served in Dail Eireann as a TD for 38 years and was at one time Dublin’s Lord Mayor.

Vincent Kenny, Na Fianna Eireann, Limerick

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Photograph of Limerick Fianna scout Vincent Kenny in tricolour star-shaped mount.

Dated 1913

Photo credit: http://museum.limerick.ie/index.php

Sean Heuston’s Fianna Certificate of Service

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Irish Independent article on Sean Heuston’s ‘missing’ Fianna Certificate of Service

November 1966

Senior Fianna Officers circa 1913/1914

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Photo of Senior Fianna Eireann officers.

Front Row (L-R): Paddy Holohan, Michael Lonergan and Con Colbert.
Back Row (L-R): Garry Holohan, Padraig O’Riain.

*Often inaccurately captioned as the “Fianna Eireann Council 1915”.

This photo is most probably from late 1913 (or possibly very early 1914). It is listed on the NLI site as a ‘Keogh Bros’ photograph from circa 1915 and this date has since been incorrectly used in various books and websites. It is also not the Fianna Council but rather a photograph of some senior members of that organization. At that time (1913) the Fianna leadership had an ‘Ard Choiste’ and the full Ard Choiste in 1913 comprised of Countess Markievicz, Bulmer Hobson, Padraig O’Riain, Con Colbert, Alfie White, Frank and Sean Reynolds, Michael Lonergan, Eamon Martin, Liam Mellows and Jimmy Gregan, Joseph Robinson, Sean O’Kelly, Sean Heuston, Sean Sinnott and Eamon Leahy.

In fact Garry and Paddy Holohan were not yet members of the Fianna hierarchy at that early stage (they were shortly afterwards) although Garry was second in command to Frank Reynolds at Sluagh Emmett at that time. After a proposal by Eamon Martin at the Fianna Eireann Ard Fheis in July 1915, the Fianna were reorganized along military lines to work more efficiently and in tandem with the Irish Volunteers and a formal headquarters staff was elected. Eamon Martin called for the Ard Choiste to be replaced with a military style headquarters staff. Following the meeting a new staff structure comprising of Chief of Staff, Adjutant General, Director of Training, Director of Equipment and so on, was elected.

Michael Lonergan had emigrated to the United States in early 1914. Con Colbert had also left Fianna Eireann by 1915 to concentrate on his Volunteer duties but he remained a member (and ‘centre’) of the Fianna IRB circle right up until the Rising.

Three of the men in this photo were also on the original Irish Volunteer Provisional Committee; Lonergan, O’Riain and Colbert.

It is one of the finest Fianna Eireann photographs from that period still in existence.

Photograph: Keogh Brothers, National Library Ireland NLI

Inaugural meeting of the Irish Volunteers in 1913

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Rare photograph taken at the inaugural meeting of the Irish Volunteers in 1913. Left to right: Professor Eoin MacNeill, Thomas MacDonagh, Michael Davitt, Patrick Pearse and Laurence Kettle.

Patrick Pearse said at the time that “when men come to write the history of the freeing of Ireland, they shall have to record that the boys of Na Fianna Éireann stood in the battle gap until the Volunteers armed…..and if the Fianna had not been founded in 1909, the Volunteers of 1913 would never have arisen“.

Photograph credit: F.X. Martin’s biography of Eoin Macneill ‘The Scholar Revolutionary’