Tag Archives: Scouts

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.”

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“The part the Fianna played at Howth” by Corporal ‘Willie Nelson’

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“The part the Fianna played at Howth”

By Corporal ‘Willie Nelson’ From Nodlaig na bhFiann, December 1914

“I was awakened by a loud knocking at the hall door. I awoke slowly and wondered who the disturber of the Sabbath morn was. I yawned, stretched myself and finally looked at the clock. It was five minutes to seven.

I then began debating with myself (for, being a member of the Sluagh committee, I have an aptitude for debate) as to whether the disturber was the post, a seller of the Sunday Freeman, or an early-rising milkman.

I pride myself for having a logical mind, a gift which Madame [Markievicz] was the first person to discover I possessed. I reasoned like this. It cannot be the post for he only gives two short raps and departs; neither can it be a milkman, for every sane milkman supplements his knocking by melodiously rattling his can on the kerb. I was about to turn over and leave the honour with the seller of newspapers when the knocking grew louder and more persistent. Curiosity impelled me to get up and, on looking out of the window, to my astonishment, I saw my leader, Paddy Holohan, renewing his attacks on the knocker with great vigour.

“Hello, Paddy,” said I. “What’s the row about?”

“You lazy beggar!” he shouted back. “I have been knocking here for the last half-hour and I might as well have been knocking at the morgue for all the notice was taken of it.”

Then, in sterner tones, he commanded:

“You are to parade in the Hardwicke Street Hall at half-past nine, and bring rations for a day’s march with you.”

And, muttering something about sealed orders from the Military Council, he bolted off.

When I arrived in Hardwicke Street, I found nearly all the older members of the Sluagh present; also members from An Cheud Sluagh and the Sluagh in Inchicore. They were all speculating about the march. Some argued that we were going to Lucan to start a new Sluagh, whilst others asserted we were going on a day’s manoeuvres with the Volunteers. This view was generally accepted when we subsequently joined the Volunteers at Fairview.

Pádraig Ó Riain, who was in command of the Fianna, in a few words gave us to understand that strict discipline was to be maintained throughout the day. Seán Heuston had charge the transport section. The trek-cart was heavily loaded and closely covered. I was in this section and understood Seán to say that the cart contained minerals and refreshments for the Volunteers.

We were allotted a position in the centre of the column, where we held until we were very near Howth, where we proceeded to the head of the column. We entered the village at the head of the Volunteers and halted at the pier near the foot of the hill.

Fianna Bulmer Collection 1912

Photograph Source: National Library of Ireland

We went up the pier at the double and outran the Volunteers. Some men were already unloading a yacht. The Fianna were ordered to assist.

Our section, under Seán Heuston, at once unpacked the trek-cart, which disgorged not minerals or sandwiches but large wooden batons. These were rushed down and distributed to the companies which blocked the entrance to the pier. The object of our march was now obvious – rifles had at last arrived.

The coastguards sent up rockets for help and the Volunteers sent up great triumphant cheers which re-echoed from the Hill of Howth to Dublin Castle and soured the champagne of the Kildare Street Club.

When I returned to the top of the pier, the Volunteers and Fianna were feverishly unpacking the rifles. There was an intense and silent activity. We quickly loaded our trek-cart with rifles and transferred them to the companies of the other end of the pier. I was engaged in this work until all the Volunteers were supplied.

The Volunteers and Fianna now carried rifles on their shoulders. Ammunition and rifles were also packed in our trek-cart and the remainder were dispatched in motor cars. We were ready to depart and awaited orders.

The long lines of armed men stretching the whole length of the pier was the most entrancing sight I have ever witnessed. We were filled with great joy and our souls were thrilled with the spirit of freedom.

As we left the pier, the people of Howth came out in great crowds to greet us. A priest from top of a tram blessed the rifles as we passed and we cheered response to his benediction.

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Photograph Source: Trinity College Dublin

I was beginning to feel tired as we neared Dublin. The long march to Howth and back, the pulling of our heavily-laden trek-cart, the running and exertion on the pier now began to tell against me. But the thought of a triumphal march through the streets of Dublin with a rifle on my shoulder buoyed me up and made me feel extremely happy.

I had not taken Dublin Castle into consideration and did not believe our friendly Government would permit her to play her last stroke in as villainous a manner as events afterwards proved.

On the Howth Road, a few hundred yards from Clontarf, I saw a company of soldiers with fixed bayonets blocking our way to the city. As if to avoid the military, we turned to our right along Charlemont Road and on to the Malahide Road.

Before we were a hundred yards on the Malahide Road we knew that the first companies of Volunteers were in conflict with the military. The sounds of rifles clashing, revolver shots and shouting made a terrific din.

We got the order to “Halt!” and were told we had got to defend the ammunition at all costs.

The Captain of Ceud Sluagh drew an automatic pistol and, with some of our fellows, dashed off to join in the fray. It was with difficulty Seán Heuston and Pádraig Ó Riain restrained others.

We clustered around the cart with our rifles gripped tightly in our hands. Suddenly we saw the Volunteers scatter and run. Some of the men were bleeding from the head but most of them seemed uninjured and still clung to their rifles. As they passed us we appealed to them to stand. We shouted and called them cowards. Our commander, not knowing that they had received orders to retire and get off with their rifles, shouted: “By God! We won’t. run away.”

Before I had time to realise what had happened, the road in front of us was almost clear and I saw the police with batons and rifles rushing in upon us. Then Pádraig rushed out in front and shouted to us to come on. His voice was harsh and he shouted and cursed most horribly.

We dashed out to meet the police.

I was near Paddy Holohan and O’Connor. They, too, were cursing and shouting defiantly. Everything was confusion. I saw the police and the soldiers and the glitter of their bayonets as in a maze. A huge policeman with a rifle swooped towards me. I was seized with a sort of frenzy and, putting forth all my strength, I made a deadly blow at his head.

I think my last ounce of strength went into that blow for I do not remember what happened after till I heard Seán Heuston calling me to lend a hand to pull the trek-cart. I distinctly remember his shrill voice when he gave the order. “Take strain – quick march!”

We were now retreating back along the Malahide Road. Joe Robinson was clinging to the back of the trek-cart in which the ammunition and rifles were still safely packed. There were only ten or twelve of us. Eamon Martin, Garry Holohan and some others were left behind. They were enjoying the sport too much to leave till all was over.

We wheeled to our left off the main road and were soon clear of immediate danger. We passed a couple of old men chatting near a pump. They seemed to be enjoying the summer’s evening and apparently knew nothing of the bloody episodes that were being enacted only a mile away.

We turned up a country lane near a big house and concealed ourselves in a bit of a wood on our right. It was now dusk so we decided to make a pretence of camping out and to conceal the rifles and ammunition until we could have them safely removed after dark. Our commander went up to the house and got permission to camp near the wood.

We buried the treasure, which was removed after dark in a taxi, and is now safe.”

The above account was written by ‘Willie Nelson’, a pseudonym used by Padraig O’Riain who was the Fianna Chief at the time of the Howth Gunrunning, and it appeared in the Fianna Christmas publication Nodlaig na bhFiann in December 1914. The story was republished several times over the following years in various Fianna publications.

O’Riain also regularly contributed articles and notes to The Irish Volunteer newspaper in 1914-1916. O’Riain, was a founder member of the Fianna and one of its principal organisers in the early years; he was also a senior IRB member and a member of the Irish Volunteer Executive.

Liam Mellows Memorial

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I gCuimhne Liam Uí Mhaolíosa

Liam Mellows Memorial – December 1944

Dhá bhliain is fiche ó shoin – ar an 8ú lá de Mhí na Nollag, 1922 – cuireadh Liam Ó Maolíosa chun báis. I litir chun a  mháthar óna chilín i bPriosún Chnuic an Áthais, tamaillín sul ar cuireadh chun báis é, dúirt sé go mba mhian leis “luí go suaimhneach lá éigean in áit éigin chiúin le h-ais mo sheanathar is mo sheanmháhar in mBaile an Chaisleáin, marb ionann is i measc poimpe saoghalta Ghlasnaoidhin.”

Do réir na méinne sin, luíoonn sé lena shinnsearaibh in uaigh uaighnigh in mBaile an Chaisleáin. Ach níl aon chomhartha aitheantais ar an uaigh sin.

Ar mholadh sean-chairde Liam d’Fhianna Éireann, tá coiste bunaithe chun airgid do bhailiú le tógáil Cuimhneacháin agus, ar an lá seo cuimhne a bhásaithe, tá achainí dá chur chuigh fir is mná Éireannacha ar fud an domhain chun cúnamh a thabhairt le Cuimhneachán buan a thógáil don saighdiúir mór-chroidheach seo na h-Éireann.

Eiseamláir lonnrach ab ea a shaol do na glúnaibh atá le teacht  agus ba chúis dubhróin le lucht Poblacht Éireann uile a bhás – trua de thruaibh “cogadh an gcarad.” Tá ard-ionad ag an sloinne Ó Maolíosa i measc na bhfear is na mban gur dhein cuid de stair na h-Éireann d’á n-ainmneacha.

Achnímíd  go muiníneach ort cahbrú linn i dtógáil Chuimhneacháin a dhéanfadh onóir don ‘Ghael bhreá chróga úd.”

Glacfaidh na Cisteoirí Onóracha, nó ball ar bith den Choiste seo leanas, go buíoch le síntiúisí i gcóir an Chiste. Gheobhaid gach duine íocfaidh síntiús admháil oifigiúil.

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Twenty two years ago – on a December morning in 1922 – Liam Mellows was executed in Mountjoy Prison. In an inspiring letter to his mother, shortly before his execution, he expressed a wish that “some day he might rest in some quiet place – beside grandfather and grandmother in Castletown, not amid the worldly pomp of Glasnevin.” In accordance with that wish, he sleeps with his Wexford forebears in a lonely grave at Castletown. But that grave is unmarked.

On the initiative of Liam’s former comrades of Fianna Éireann, a Memorial Committee has now been formed, and, on the twenty-second  anniversary of his execution, an appeal is made to patriotic Irishmen and women at home and in foreign lands for assistance in raising an enduring monument to this great-hearted soldier of Ireland.

From his boyhood the cause of Irish Freedom was the inspiration of his dreams and he sealed this devotion to that sacred cause with his blood. Our nation cherishes the memory of his dauntless courage, unshakable purpose and selfless zeal and his name ranks  high amongst the treasured name in Ireland’s roll of fame.

We appeal with confidence to all who shared his aspirations to help in raising a memorial that will be worthy of a “brave ad splendid Gael.” Contributions to the Memorial Fund will be gratefully received by the Hon. Treasurers or by an of those whose names are signed to this appeal. An official receipt will be issued to each subscriber.

 

Chairman                              Denis Allen T.D. Raheengurren, Gorey

Vice-Chairman                    Robert Moran M.C.C. Paul Quay, Wexford.

Hon Treasurers                    Thomas Brennan T.D., Carnew Co. Wicklow

Tomás D. Ó Sionóid, ‘Carraig Ruadh’, Wexford

Hon. Secretaries                  Micheál Ó Ciarbbháin, St. John’s Villas, Enniscorthy,

Pádraig Tóibín, Bohreen Hill, Enniscorthy

 

Representatives, National Association of Old Fianna:

Éamon Martin, Seafort Lodge, Wiliamstown, Co. Dublin

Joseph Reynolds, 47 Donnellan Avenue, Mount Brown, Dublin

Gabriel O’Brien, 60 Church Road, East Wall, Dublin.

James Carroll, 73 Harold’s Cross Road, Dublin.

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Text courtesy of Pauline Allen. Photographs by Eamon Murphy

Fianna Eireann – South Dublin District

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This photo is part of the Seamus Reader Collection. Seamus was a captain in both the Willie Neilson Slua of Na Fianna Éireann in Glasgow, and the Scottish nationalist equivalent Na Fianna hAlba during the revolutionary period. Any information (names, date, occasion etc.) about the photo would be appreciated.

Photo courtesy of the Seamus Reader Collection and Stephen Coyle.

The History of Na Fianna Eireann in Cork City 1910-1924

Na Fianna Éireann in Cork City, 1910-1924 by Graham Harrington

Fianna Cert Eamon Martin from Mairin Burke - Copy

Origins

Na Fianna Éireann in Cork City was established in 1910 by youth who were involved in the Cork branch of the Gaelic League. Cork at this time was referred to contemptously as “khaki Cork” for its lack of republican activity. The first nationalist organisation founded in Cork was the Cork Celtic Literary Society. Other groups such as the GAA, Conradh na Gaeilge(Gaelic League) were formed subsequently.  Interest in cultural activities grew in time, with Margaret Buckley, organiser of the womens’ group Inghinidhe na hÉireann reporting that over 100 people were attending the groups’ Irish language and history classes. Following the activities of the Irish Republican Brotherhood in infiltrating organisations involved in the Cultural Revival, local republicans set about building a network.

In 1910, Na Fianna Éireann was established in Cork by republicans involved in the O’Growney Branch of the Gaelic League. Its key organisers included: Tómas MacCurtain, Seán O’Hegarty, Seán O’Sullivan, Paddy Corkery, Miceal Ó Cuill, Tadhg Barry, Martin Donovan, Miceall O’Neill, Donnchadh O’Donnaghue, and Ned Rochford. Walter Furlong was appointed the first scoutmaster in the city. Seán O’Sullivan was elected secretary and Tomás MacCurtain was elected treasurer. These were the main organisers in the city up until members joined the Irish Volunteers which was established in 1913.

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Development

Recruitment was gradual, in 1912, 12 boys jumped ship from the Baden-Powell scouts after seeing the Na Fianna while on a visit to Dublin. After this, the numbers in Cork grew to around 30. They boys worked on increasing their profile around the city. Between 1912-1913, the boys put up anti-recruitment posters across Cork as part of an anti-British Army recruitment campaign. They also lived up to their reputation as scouts. Christy Monahan took over from Walter Furlong as scoutmaster. He encouraged training in  map reading, knots, morse, semaphore, first-aid, tent pitching, tracking, scoutcraft, history and Irish classes. Members came mainly from poor, working-class backgrounds. They got their uniforms themselves, usually paying between 2ds and 3ds, although if this was too much, the organisation would cover costs. Parades and classes were held three nights a week, and route marches almost every Saturday, except in winter. Camps were held, such as in Blarney and Ballincollig. Discipline was strict, there was even an order that “members of Na Fianna would not appear on the streets in uniform while in the company of girls.”

However, this discipline stood to them. In 1913, during the annual public procession in Wilton, Fianna provided a guard of honour, which increased its public profile. It also laid wreathes at Fenian graves, in St. Finbarr’s Cemetery in the city and beyond. It held a commeration for the Manchester Martyrs. The boys regularly clashed with the Baden-Powell scouts, with Damian Lawlor writing: “In Cork City, proximity and opportunity also brought conflict. The Fianna headquarters was located only 200 yards from the offices of the Ancient Order of Hibernians’s scouts, and the Baden-Powell Scouts were also numerous. As a result, violence erupted on a regular basis between the groups.” They were also involved in a guard of honour for Gaelic scholars Kuno Keyer and Peter O’Leary which further helped its reputation.

Between 1913-1916, membership growth was steady, with numbers growing from 30 to about 100 with two slua in the city.  The Irish Volunteers were founded in 1913, which gave a great boosts to the Fianna nationally and in Cork.  Members of the Na Fianna assisted the Volunteers from the beginning. Members of the Fianna were present when the Volunteers were established at a meeting in Cork City Hall in 1913. When trouble broke out at the meeting, with fists flying, the Fianna preserved order and protected the panel, which included Roger Casement.The Fianna were allowed use of the Irish Volunteers’ premises in An Dún, Queen St. In 1914, which gave it its first official meeting place in Cork. At the first public parade of the Irish Volunteers, they were led by a lone Fian playing the bagpipes. The local boys also assisted the Volunteers with the anti-recruitment campaign, putting up posters and disrupting cinemas which showed recruitment films, pelting the screens with eggs. Members also assisted in the Buy Irish campaign. Seán O’Hegarty had a .22 rifle which the older boys used occasionally, they were also given a .22 by the caretaker of the ITGWU office caretaker. They boys were given use of the ITGWU’s offices as well for one of its slua. The other slua used the Volunteers’ premises in Sheare’s St. Fian Liam O’Callaghan succeeded Christy Monahan as scoutmaster, then followed by Seámus Courtney. Seámus Courtney and his close friend Seán Healy would establish themselves as vital organisers for Cork Na Fianna in this period. They organised throughout the city and beyond, in areas such as Blackrock, Youghal, Cobh and Riverstown.

The 1914 split in the Volunteers over Redmonds’ call to enlist in the British Army had little effect on Na Fianna, nationally and regionally in Cork City. Na Fianna was organised for a longer period than the Volunteers and there was a greater dedication to republican ideals, as opposed to the strong Redmondite constitutional nationalism which was present in the Volunteers. Na Fianna continued to have strong relations with the Irish Volunteers after the split. Its role after the outbreak of the war was to organise against the incessant recruitment drives, ahead of the possibility of conscription being spread to Ireland. However, as conditions changed, Na Fianna’s role changed significantly. Up to 1915, it was primarily a scouting organisation, with those interested in more militaristic activities joining the Volunteers as they became of age. However, in response to the growing militarisation of Irish society, Na Fianna shifted more towards a military organisation, with its key role being that of a training ground for future volunteers. Firing practice with small arms increased, with some of the older boys being given revolvers for personal use. This was in preparation for the rising of Easter Week.

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Some of Cork’s Volunteer and Fianna officers in 1916

Easter and after

Ammunition had been moved throughout the city by na fianna in the week previous to the Rising. Older Fianna travelled to Cork, with 6 Fianna coming from Cobh. Up to 24 Fianna met with the Volunteers at Sheare’s St. With members carrying shotguns and revolvers, they marched with the Volunteers. However, Eoin MacNeill’s countermanding order caused confusion and the Rising in Cork was called off, with members being told to assemble again tommorow. On Easter Monday, the Rising began in Dublin. The Volunteers barricaded themselves in Sheare’s St, with the countermanding order preventing an attempt at a rising in Cork. The boys of Na Fianna were tasked with monitoring RIC activity along the railways and the barracks throughout Easter Week. In the aftermath of the Rising, the Fianna continued to parade and drill. Seámus Courtney and Seán Healy were arrested, with Courtney sentenced to 3 months hard labour. When Volunteers would return back from Frongoth to Cork, the Fianna would march to meet them. This caused obvious friction with the RIC, with baton charges against the crowd being common. On one occasion, slua commander PJ Murphy fired at and wounded an RIC man, wounding him. This was despite the Volunteers issuing strict orders to the boys not to use weapons without permission. Murphy was called to an inquiry, where he was temporarily stripped of his slua command. However, while on his way out, Tomás MacCurtain clapped him on the back, saying “I wish we could get the same spirit into the Volunteers.”

After 1916, Seámus Courtney (now released) and Seán Healy ran a concert to raise morale in the city. The concert was a success, with Markievicz herself attending. It succeeded in raising morale in the city and keeping the flame lit in the city after 1916. At this point, Cork had 2 slua, south and north of the River Lee, with about 100 members. Fian Charles Meaney said of this period “ During 1917 and 1918, our activities consisted of drilling, general training of a military nature, lectures in first aid and rifle shooting.” It was clear which way things were going, even after the Rising. Fianna’s headquarters were switched around several times, moving around from An Grianán, Queen St., South Main St., Pope’s Quay and North Main Street. Na Fianna was active in the 1918 General Election, distributing leaflets, putting up posters and participating in Sinn Féin’s propaganda efforts. This election was a significant success for republicanism, with SF winning 73 out of 108 seats, and the first Dáil Éireann formed. Na Fianna continued to wear its uniforms in this period, despite the British military’s ban on military attire.

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Seamus Courtney

https://fiannaeireannhistory.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/seamus-courtney-1897-1918/

Guerilla War

As the guerilla phase of the revolution grew in intensity, na fianna played a key role. A 3rd slua was formed in early 1919, mainly as a reserve force of around 30. There was still strict discipline placed on the boys by the volunteers, with weapons having to be confiscated regurlarly for unauthorised use! Na Fianna had several roles in this period, as a supporting force for the IRA. Na Fianna carried out raids on private houses for arms. On one occasion on 7 March, 1920, 5 Fianna raiding a house owned by a prominent Loyalist for arms, in Douglas, were arrested. However, the local IRA visited the staff and ensured there was no incriminating evidence against the boys. On another occasion, a lorry carrying jam for British forces was stolen, with the provisions being given to families of IRA prisoners. Bicycles of Loyalists were also taken for IRA and Na Fianna use, such as for carrying messages between flying columns. Individual Black and Tans were also targeted and their weapons stolen when opportunity presented itself. Fian E. Keating disarmed a Black and Tan single-handedly on Maylor St. Fianna also carried out a successful operation against the GPO in Cork whichw as transporting communications between British units. British mail vehicles were burnt, with the contents destroyed. No Fianna or civilians were harmed in the operation which was carried out in a very disciplined way. However, this was a war, and Na Fianna in Cork City were not without tragedies.

Martyrs

Fian Seámus Courtney was born in Hibernian Buildings, Albert Rd. Ballintemple. He joined Na Fianna Éireann just after leaving school at age 15 in 1912. He established himself as someone with exemplary leadership qualities, not just in Na Fianna, but also in the Volunteers were he was later to become an officer. At the 1915 NFÉ Limerick Convention, he was elected Officer Commanding Munster. Seán Healy, his close friend and also a noted leader, took over Courtney’s former duties in Cork. He was in charge of mobilising the Fianna in Cork City during the Easter mobilisations and was responsible for re-organising in the city after 1916. As mentioned above, he served 3 months hard labour after being arrested in 1917. After release, a presentation was made to him by his comrades in the local Fianna. His organisational skills, such as in the concert after 1916, which re-energised Cork, and his organising of Na Fianna in county areas impressed the likes of MacCurtain and McSwiney, and he was co-opted onto the Battalion Council of the Irish Volunteers. He was arrested again in October 1917 and immediately began a hunger strike in protest, being released 4 days later. However, his health rapidly declined after this in response to the hunger strike, his time hard labouring, ill treatment while in prison and the stress of his constant organising duties. He had a job with the ITGWU which he was forced to resign, also resigning his Fianna position due to his health. He left Cork to live on his aunt’s farm in Co. Kerry, where he wasn’t forgotten by his comrades, with Seán Healy being a visitor. Seámus Courtney passed away on 18 July, 1918. His funeral was large, with Na Fianna and republican Cork paying their respects to their fallen and tireless comrade. In recogntion of his abilities, he kept his rank of O/C Munster until his death. Three revolver volleys were fired over his coffin in salute, with the RIC unable to capture any of the firing party. This was significant as it was the first time since Easter Week that guns were brought back into the struggle, and by Cork Na Fianna. A local newspaper said of Courtney’s funeral: “The cortege was the most imposing and impressive witnessed in Cork for years. The final scenes at the graveside were touching in the extreme.”

Unfortunately, this was not an isolated tragedy. Fian Joseph Reid was one of 4 Cobh section leaders and one of the firing party in Seámus Courtney’s funeral. While cleaning his revolver, it went off and he was killed. He was only 17 years old. His brother, also a young Fian, removed the revolver before the RIC could arrive. He died just 2 days after Courtney, on 20 July, 1918. His funeral was also impressive, with Na Fianna, Cumann na mBán and the Volunteers being present. Joe raid place in Cobh is named after him.

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Four prominent members of the Cobh Fianna Eireann branch in 1917 https://fiannaeireannhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/na-fianna-eireann-in-cobh-co-cork/

In Co. Galway, a Cork Fian called Seámus Quirke was killed by British auxiliaries on 9 September 1920. He was 23 years old and worked in a jewellers. He was killed in reprisal for the killing of Krumm, an RIC man who was noted for targeting civilians. Seámus Quirke is buried in St. Finbarr’s Cemetery, Cork.

Fian Christopher Lucey was shot dead by British forces at Tureen Dubh, Ballingeary on 10 November 1920. He was 22 years old and from No. 3, Pembroke St. He was “one of a family who for generations made sacrifices for the Irish cause.” A medicine student at UCC, he was imprisoned previously and transferred to Mountjoy, where he was released after a hunger strike. He went on the run and during this time was made a section commander of the IRA. In one notable incident, he took part in a hold-up of Auxiliary transports, disarming them and securing 2 lorries. He was staying with cousins in Ballingeary when he was killed while “trying to escape”, British code for executed. It was said at the time that “it may be thought that the incident connected with his death would strike terror into the hearts of his countrymen, but, on the contrary, it will only nerve his countrymen to continue their resistance and perservere to the end.” Cork Republican Tadhg Barry also said defiantly of his death “the people who shot him may shoot us and kill us , but they will never succeed in terrorising us.”

Only a week after Christopher Lucey’s death, Fian Patrick Hanley was to be killed. He was 17 years old when he was killed by the Black and Tans in his home in Grattan/Broad St. This was part of a series of murders by the Black and Tans in the area, with a civilian and former British soldier, Eugene O’Connell also being killed on the same day. Hanley, as the sole man of the house, was the sole support of his widowed mother and sisters. In retaliation for the IRA killing of an RIC man, a police spy gave away the identity of the IRA volunteers responsible. Hanley’s home was mistaken for the home of one of the volunteers and was broken into, Haney was confronted by the Black and Tans who shot him. He died instantly. A Na Fianna guard of honour was present at his funeral, where the local Fianna said that “in the service of Ireland he lost his life.” A volley of shots were fired over his grave in St. Finbarr’s Cemetery.  Years later, a plaque was erected at his home and scene of his murder by members of the Cork Old Na Fianna Association, with the tricolour that was present on the day the very same tricolour that was draped over his coffin.

Winding down and further tragedies

The 1922 Truce was overwhelmingly rejected by the Na Fianna. The vast majority of members opposed it. The new Free State was in no way more lenient than the British to the Fianna. During a Fianna Ard Fheis, a Cork delegate was wounded when Free State forces opened fire on the building. This was because Michael Collins was travelling around Dublin city centre and the Free State wished to distract the republicans.

In was in this context that Fian Richard Noonan lost his life. Richard Noonan was from ’98 Street in the city. Along with other republicans, he was imprisoned by the Free State in Cork county gaol, in what is now UCC. He had only been imprisoned for short period, with his father saying at the inquiry into his death that he only saw his son 6 weeks before. Richard Noonan died on 11 October 1922. The cause of death was determined to be heart disease. He was only aged 18 years old at this time. Noonan’s Road in Cork City, where he lived, was named after him.

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The end of the Civil War didn’t end the tragedies in Na Fianna. Fian James Pyne lived in the Old Youghal Road, Mayfield. He held the rank of adjutant in NFÉ and played for the local Sarsfield H&F club, who passed a motion of sympathy after his death. (thanks to Colum Radford for this information) James Pyne was involved in the republican hunger strike in Newbridge, where over 1,700 were on the strike, with 70 on hunger strike in Cork gaol. This strike was held to secure amnesty for republican prisoners and end the civil war. The damage done to Fian Pyne did irreperable damage to his health and he passed away on 10 November, 1924. He is buried in St. Finbarr’s Cemetery.

Research and story by Graham Harrington (c)

Further reading:

https://fiannaeireannhistory.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/fianna-eireann-in-cork-city-by-charles-meaney/

https://fiannaeireannhistory.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/seamus-courtney-1897-1918/

https://fiannaeireannhistory.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/na-fianna-eireann-in-cobh-co-cork/

https://fiannaeireannhistory.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/patrick-hanley-1903-1920/

 

 

 

A Tribute to Madame Markievicz (4th February 1868 – 15th July 1927)

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Constance Georgine Markievicz flanked by some of her Fianna boys

 

Towards the end of June 1927, Markievicz became seriously ill with appendicitis and, under advice from Dr. Kathleen Lynn, was admitted to Sir Patrick Dun’s hospital. She specifically requested a bed in the public ward. She was operated on almost immediately but complications arose and a second operation had to be performed on 8th July. Following this, she developed peritonitis and never recovered. She passed away on 15th July 1927. She was only 59 years of age.

 

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Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital

 

The following is a tribute to Markievicz by founding member of Na Fianna Eireann and Chief of Staff Eamon Martin. It was written in 1966, during the 50th Anniversary of the Easter Rising:

“I had not met Madame until the founding of the Fianna. After that I was in constant association with her and came to know her very well. With her ingenuous nature, getting to know her came easy, and the wondering how and why she had come over to the Irish cause was no longer a puzzling question. That she was impetuous goes without saying, but not unwisely so; she did not make rash decisions, but, having made up her mind to a particular course she went ahead with no backward look. Whatever cause she embraced was wholehearted – no half measures and no compromise.

It was characteristic of her that when she turned her back on her own class and espoused the nationalist cause it was not to the parliamentarians she turned but dead straight into the separatist movement. And it was here that she displayed that impetuous trait to which I have referred. It was impatience that drove her to launch the Fianna. In starting the Fianna Madame was fortunate in having the benefit of Bulmer Hobson’s experience and counsel. Fortunate too in securing the adherence of two young men – Padraig O’Riain, with his organising ability, and Con Colbert, with his diving force. To these young men, afterwards joined by Liam Mellows, Garry Holohan and Sean Heuston, to name but a few, is due to the rapid success of the organisation. Madame was proud of them and made her gratitude manifest. She had a vision, dreaming of a young army on the march in the cause of Ireland, and here was her dream coming true.

What followed is now glorious history, which she helped to shape in large measure, and so long and wherever freedom is cherished shall the name and deeds of our beloved Madame be remembered. While this is my personal tribute, you can believe that it expresses the feelings of every member of the Fianna who had the privilege of knowing her.”

1421076_10152198495025739_1037586214_oA 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 on behalf of all Fianna veterans. It was unveiled in 1967. Courtesy of Eamon Murphy Fianna Archives.

*The above tribute by Eamon Martin appeared in the book “Constance Markievicz: The People’s Countess” by Joe McGowan.

Source for the image of Markievicz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmqU_e_XicA

A Memory of a North Galway Volunteer Officer

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Credit: Galway City Tribune

Patrick O’Connell (1898-1982)

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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

The role of Na Fianna Eireann in the 1916 Easter Rising

Fianna Cert Eamon Martin from Mairin Burke - Copy

‘The role of Na Fianna Eireann in the 1916 Easter Rising’ by Commandant Eamon Martin.

“In the plan of campaign [for the Easter Rising] the Fianna officers were given certain assignments. The Magazine Fort, as it turned out, owing to the chaos arising out of MacNeill’s countermanding order for Sunday’s “manoeuvres” was not an all-Fianna job. We had to borrow men from the Volunteers but the larger percentage were Fiannaidhe and after the attack they all returned and took positions in the fighting areas.

This group, in Commandant Daly’s area, was in the line of defence along the Quays and in the Four Courts they participated in the attack on the Broadstone Station and Captain Garry Holohan’s part in the capture and burning of Linen Hall Barracks has already been recorded and is too well known for me to dwell upon here. His brother Paddy was by his side all during the week and his cousins Paddy and Hugh were with Tom Ashe at Ashbourne. Towards the end of the week Sean McLoughlin was given the command in the Post Office and led the retreat from that area after the burning of the buildings.

Commandant Seán Heuston’s defence of the Mendicity with both Volunteers and Fianna under his command and Commandant Con Colbert’s part in Watkins Brewery and afterwards at Marrowbone Lane Distillery have also been recorded elsewhere. Madame Markievicz, although fighting as an officer of the Citizen Army was still a member of the Fianna, and fought as second in command at the College of Surgeons. An order of the day signed by Commandant Connolly and dated 28th April states: “Captain Liam Mellows in Galway fresh from his escape is in the field with his men”. Captain Séamus Kavanagh, who had been second to my own command in An Cead Sluagh fought in the Stephen’s Green area. How many of the Fianna who were by this time in the Volunteers it would be impossible to name.

I could go on reciting name after name, it is sufficient, however, for me to say that there was not a single fighting post in the city or country, which had not its quota of the Fianna. Let me say in conclusion, partly paraphrasing Pearse’s statement of 1914, that no history of the resurgent movement, which preceded and culminated in the Rising and no history of the Rising itself can claim to be complete if it ignores or fails to adequately acknowledge the enormous contribution made by Fianna Éireann to the struggle for our country’s freedom.”

 

Garry Holohan and MacNeill’s countermanding order in 1916

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Gearoid Ua h-Uallachain (Garry Holohan), Na Fianna Eireann National Deputy Director of Equipment, and also O/C of No.5 Coy Dublin Brigade Fianna (Merchant’s Quay) in 1916.

When Eoin MacNeill discovered that a group within the Irish Volunteers organisation had secret plans to launch an armed rebellion against British Rule, and after receiving news of Roger Casement’s failed attempt to import arms from Germany, he tried to prevent the planned mobilization for Easter Sunday. He hand-wrote several copies of a countermanding order, on headed notepaper at his home – Woodbrook, in Rathfarnham, Co Dublin – and dispatched men to deliver copies to local commanders nationwide. The countermanding order also appeared in the Sunday Independent on April 23rd, the day of the planned Rising. The countermand was only partly successful and caused confusion, especially outside Dublin.

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In the following account, Senior Fianna officer Garry Holohan recalls the confusion caused by Eoin MacNeill’s countermanding order:

 “The following morning, Easter Sunday [April 24th], I got up and went to nine o’clock Mass at Haddington Road and received Holy Communion. I then heard the news about MacNeill [and the countermanding order] and hurried back to Eamon to discuss the situation. He decided I should go at once to Hardwicke Street and find out how things stood. When I knocked at the door one of the Tobins opened it; he was in a state of hysteria and started to talk about all the trouble that had been brought on us. I asked him where were the leaders, and he told me they were at Liberty Hall.

 I rode down O’Connell Street and along Eden Quay where I met Nora and Ina Connolly. I asked them was everything over and they said the leaders were inside. I went up the main staircase in Liberty Hall, and as I reached the top of the stairs I saw Pádraig Pearse and Sean McDermott coming along the passage on my right-hand side from the large front room. I immediately asked Sean what was the position and he told me that everything was postponed for twenty-four hours and gave me a dispatch for the officer in charge of Father Mathew Park.

I was to come back and take a message to Wexford, but I told him I would have to go to Phoenix Park first to tell Molly Byrne to go home, as she was watching the Magazine Fort in order to obtain immediate information if there was any unusual activity or precautions being taken by the guard.

I went to Father Mathew Park, and on my way met a carpenter named Jim Hunter at the junction of Seville Place and Amiens Street. Jim worked with me on the Dublin Port and Docks Board and was an old I.R.B. man who left the time of the split. He had promised to take part in the attack on the Magazine Fort, so I told him everything was off for the present.

I then went back to Liberty Hall and on my way I met my aunt and uncle at O’Connell Bridge. When I got to Liberty Hail I found the leaders gone and the Citizen Army were just going out for a march round the city; that was about six o’clock. I met Eamon Martin and some of the men who were to take part in the Magazine Fort attack, and we decided to meet again at No. 8 Rutland Cottages at 8 p.m. to renew our arrangements. We held a meeting and it was decided to meet next morning at my house at 12 o’clock. Eamon Martin, my brother Pat and I slept at No. 8 Rutland Cottages, Lower Rutland Street.”

 

Photograph courtesy of Eamon Murphy and the Eamon Martin Collection.

Garry Holohan’s account from his Bureau of Military Witness Statement No. 328 http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS0328.pdf#page=1