2015 Ashbourne


In this booklet I have set out to record some of the Meath connections to the 1916 Rising and its aftermath. The 1916 rising was the spark which resulted in the Sinn Féin victory in the 1918 election and the start of the War of Independence and our ultimate statehood. I have recorded individuals and incidents from the period. I have tried to be as non–political, inclusive and balanced as I can be in viewing the events of the time.  

Many people are of the opinion that we should remember one part of our history and not another part. Some say it is right we should celebrate the 1916 rising while avoiding the much larger number of men who fought in the Great War. To me it is not an “either/or” situation but more of a “both/and.”

The loss of any human life is to be regretted. Many of those who died were innocent civilians and indeed many of the opponents of the rebels were also Irish. Only one British soldier was killed in Meath during the 1916-23 period. I would not deny the sincerity of those who fought and those who died. The rebels operated under the rules of war, fighting bravely and courageously. There is much to celebrate and admire in the noble and generous vision of the 1916 proclamation.

The 1916 rising and its aftermath was violent and I dislike violence greatly. It was a different time; there was mass industrial scale violence being perpetrated by the empires of Europe on the Flander’s fields and beyond. Life was cheaper. The men who died in 1916 were idealists but they were also human; they left behind widows and families.

The list of men from Meath who fought in 1916 is not a complete list. I have included not only those who fought and died but also those who fought and lived on and contributed to our country. I have taken all reports on face value; if someone said they were involved in 1916 I have where possible believed their reports. The words IRA and Volunteer are used interchangeably; Volunteer more used in earlier period 1917-19 and IRA more thereafter. There are errors and omissions in this account so please feel free to contact me to correct any errors or add more information.

The Bureau of Military History holds an amazing collection of materials including witness statements and pension records. These are all available on line for consultation. Thank you to all who provided information and photographs including: Navan and District Historical Society, Tom Gogarty, Andy Morgan, Aidan Holmes, Local Studies Section Meath County Library, Maureen McGearty, 1916  Battle of Ashbourne facebook page, Tóla Collier,  Seán Condon,  Michael Nelson, Seán Fay, Maura Lynch, Peter Crinion, Seán O’Regan, Leonard Hatrick and Fiona Ahern. I was unable to trace the copyright owners of some photographs and I would apologise to them and if they get in contact with me I will certainly acknowledge them in the future. Thank you.  Oliver Coogan’s book Politics and War in Meath 1913-23 is a great account of the period and is necessary background reading if you are to truly understand the history of 1916 and the period.


AOH – Ancient Order of Hibernians

GPO – General Post Office

IRA – Irish Republican Army

IRB – Irish Republican Brotherhood

MP – Member of Parliament

POW – Prisoner of War

RIC – Royal Irish Constabulary                                                                                                                                                                                   

Revolutionary Ireland – A Timetable

1884  – Foundation of Gaelic Athletic Association

1902 – Sinn Féin Newspaper founded in Oldcastle

1905 – Sinn Féin founded by Arthur Griffith

1912 – Home Rule Bill passed in British Parliament. Deferred for two years.

1913- Dublin Lockout. Workers Strike. Citizen’s Army founded.

1913 – Formation of the Irish Volunteers

1914 – Howth Gun Running by Irish Volunteers

1914  – First World War Declared. Home Rule Shelved.

1915 – Funeral of O’Donovan Rossa. Graveside Oration by Padraig Pearse.

22 April 1916 – Eoin McNeill countermands mobilisation order for Volunteers.

23 April 1916 – A number of Meath Volunteers mobilise on the Hill of Tara

24 April 1916 Easter Monday – The GPO and other Dublin buildings are taken by the Volunteers at mid-day. Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic outside the GPO.

25 April 1916 Tuesday – City Hall re-taken by British forces. Shelbourne Hotel occupied  and rebels forced to retreat to College of Surgeons.

26 April 1916 Wednesday – Gunboat Helga arrives and shells Liberty Hall. Troops coming from Kingstown are halted at Mount Street Bridge. The Mendicity Institute falls to the British.

27 April 1916 Thursday – Shelling of O’Connell street intensified.

28 April 1916 Friday – Battle of Ashbourne, Rebels evacuate GPO and attempt to establish a new headquarters in Moore Street.

29 April 1916 Saturday – Rebel leaders in Moore Street decide to surrender. Four Courts surrenders.

30 April 1916 Sunday – Rebels in remaining outposts surrender.

3 May 1916 – First Executions commence. Padraig Pearse, Thomas McDonagh and Thomas Clarke executed.

4 – 12 May 1916 – Executions of Ned Daly, Willie Pearse, Michael O’Hanrahan, Joseph Plunkett, John McBride, Eamonn Kent, Michael Mallin, Con Colbert, Seán Heuston and Thomas Kent.

3 August 1916 – Execution of  Roger Casement

1917 – Thomas Ashe dies after hunger strike.

1918 – Conscription crisis in Ireland. Armistice between Allied Powers and Germany.

1918 – General Election. Sinn Féin win majority of seats in Ireland.

1919 – Meeting of First Dáil. First shots of War of Independence fired at Soloheadbeg in Tipperary.

1919 – Attacks on Ballivor and Dillon’s Bridge/Lismullin RIC barracks.

1920 – First Black and Tans recruited. Auxiliaries first recruited.

1920 – Burning of Trim RIC Barracks. Arrival of Black and Tans to Meath.

1920 – Bloody Sunday – British intelligence officers killed. Black and Tans shoot at crowd in Croke Park.

1921 – Auxiliaries arrive in Trim. Looting of Chandler’s at Robinstown.

1921 – Killing of Thomas Hodgett, Navan Postmaster.

1921 – Burning of Summerhill House

1921 – Truce signed between IRA and British Army. Anglo-Irish Treaty signed in London

1922 – Dáil Éireann approves Treaty

1922 – Auxiliaries leave Trim.

1922 – Formation of Civic Guards

1922 – Anti-Treaty forces under Rory O’Connor occupy Four Courts. Free State forces attack Four Courts

1922 – Arthur Griffith dies. Michael Collins killed in ambush.

1922 – First execution of Anti-Treaty soldiers by Free State. 

1923 – Anti-Treaty forces lay down their arms

1923 – Burning of Lismullin House

Men of Republican Meath – Parnell 1891

Souvenir of Unveiling of Parnell Monument, Dublin, 1911

In March 1891 Charles Stewart Parnell, who had been M.P. for Meath from 1875 to 1880, addressed a meeting in the Square in Navan. Parnell was received with load and prolonged cheering, said “Men of Royal Meath, perhaps someday or other in the long, distant future someone may arise who may have the privilege of addressing you as men of Republican Meath.” “Of that future I know nothing and shall predict nothing here. In estimating the position of this county in the present straggle I have to go back further than my own appearance amongst you some sixteen years ago, when you first gave me the opportunity of serving Ireland in public life.”

Twenty years later Meath was well represented at the unveiling of the Parnell monument in 1911.  The Meath Chronicle described the monument on Sackville (O’Connell) Street as ‘a fitting tribute to the memory of a great Irishman.” The special train from Oldcastle, Kells and Navan was crowded. The Kells Irish National Foresters accompanied by their brass and reed band marched in the parade.

Pierce Mahony- Bulgarian Hero

Pierce O’Mahony about 1930

Pierce Mahony was born in Dublin in 1850 but his family originally came from Kerry. His grandfather, also Pierce Mahony, had been a close associate and solicitor to Daniel O’Connell. In 1877 Mahony married and had two sons, Pierce Gun and Dermot Gun.

In 1881 Mahony was appointed an assistant commissioner under the Irish Land Law Act and it was his experience here that led him to support Charles Stewart Parnell and the Irish Parliamentary Party. In 1886 the sitting Member of Parliament for Meath North, Kevin O’Doherty decided to return to Australia. Parnell persuaded Mahony to contest the election. Selected as the party’s candidate in the Meath North constituency he was returned unopposed. His maiden parliamentary speech in August 1886 was in relation to the land question. In September 1886 he queried the Chief Secretary about the lack of progress in providing labourer’s cottages in Oldcastle Union. In 1889 he questioned the reason for prohibiting a meeting that was to be held in Bective Abbey to raise funds for evicted tenants. In 1891 he asked why was there a delay in hearing the case of a Ferganstown, Navan, tenant who was seeking a fair rent figure. 

When the Parnell divorce crisis of 1890–91 broke Mahony was one of the small group of Irish Parliamentary Party MPs who wrote to Parnell on 28 November 1890 urging him to retire. He was one of the few to publically defend Parnell’s marriage to Katharine O’Shea.

At the general election of 1892 Mahony stood for Meath. Michael Davitt, the noted Land Leaguer, was nominated by the Anti-Parnellites. Defeated by 54% to 46% Mahony alleged intimidation of the voters by the Catholic clergy. The inquiry into the petition was held in Trim and Mahony successfully had the result set aside. He pursued Davitt for the costs of inquiry but received nothing as Davitt was adjudicated a bankrupt. A convention of Parnellites at Trim selected Mahony to contest Meath North again. Mahony addressed a meeting at Kells on 8 January 1893 to seek amnesty for political prisoners. He addressed a meeting in Oldcastle and said “that before the Home Rule Bill is accepted they must see that they have control of all the civil forces, including the Constabulary;” and the appointment of the judges. The Land Question, he thought, should be settled by a scheme of Compulsory Purchase.

Mahony contested the re-run election in February 1893 and again lost but this time by a smaller margin. Mahony ran for parliament for various constituencies in 1895, 1915 and 1918 but was not successful. In 1900 Mahony’s financial position was secured when he inherited the Grangecon estate in Wicklow from an uncle, David Mahony.

When his first wife died he married his cousin, Alice, and the newlyweds set off for Bulgaria in 1903. Large numbers of orphans had fled the St Ilynden’s Day massacres which had occurred in the Turkish controlled Tharce and Macedonia. On 30 March 1904 he opened St Patrick’s orphanage, which continued functioning until closure during the war in 1915. Mahony took a direct interest in the welfare of the boys and indeed, for many years afterwards, the orphans adopted the name ‘Mahoni’ to honour him. Four of the orphans were brought to Ireland to continue their education. In January 1915 he received the cross of the Civil Merit from King Ferdinand I for his work in Bulgaria. A street in Sofia, Bulgaria, was re-named in his honour.

In 1912, on the death of his elder brother, Pierce assumed the style the O’Mahony of Kerry. O’ Mahony became involved in the case of the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels in 1907. His half-brother, Sir Arthur Vicars, was the Ulster King of Arms and his son, Pierce Gun  Mahony was Herald of Arms. The Irish Crown Jewels, consisting of the order of St. Patrick, went missing from Dublin Castle. Vicars was accused of negligence. Scandalous conduct was alleged to have taken place in the Castle and the true story never emerged. O’Mahony defended Vicars but a commission criticised him and he was removed from his position. In 1921 Vicars was assassinated and his Kerry home burned down during the troubled times, an event which made O’Mahony vow never again to set foot in Kerry. Seven years after the disappearance of the Crown Jewels Pierce Gun Mahony was killed while climbing over a fence with a gun at Grangecon. The Crown Jewels were never recovered and the mystery never solved.

In 1913 O’Mahony supported the workers during the Dublin lock-out while during the war he served as a member of recruiting council. In September 1915 he visited the Leinster Regiment at the Front, the Leinster’s being one of the regiments which recruited in Meath.

O’Mahony resigned as deputy lieutenant for Wicklow and from the magistracy of Kildare and Wicklow in protest against British policy in Ireland during the Anglo-Irish war. He bred Irish wolfhounds, took to wearing a kilt and having a bagpiper accompany him. In 2005 the Irish Kilt Society held a special dinner in Dublin to commemorate Pierce O’Mahony as a noted kilt wearer. The special guest was the Bulgarian ambassador.

Pierce O’Mahony died in Wicklow in 1930. A book “Pierce O’Mahony – An Irishman in Bulgaria, ‘The O’Mahony of Kerry’ Ireland’s forgotten link with Bulgaria” by Maria Spassova and Séamus Shortall was published in 2002.

A GAA club was formed in Navan in 1887 and it was named in honour of the local MP, Pierce Mahony. This club won the 1895 All Ireland against Arravale Rovers from Tipperary. This was the first all-Ireland to be played at Jones Road. The first game ended in a draw and in the second game Arravale were declared winners and presented with their medals. The referee reported the next day that he had recorded the scores incorrectly and Navan should have won. A new club was formed in Navan in 1948 and they chose the name “Navan O’Mahony” to commemorate the earlier club.

 Eoghan O’Growney

Seamus de Paor carving Athboy statue of Eoghan O’Growney 1956

Eugene (Eoghan) O’Growney was born in 1863 in Ballyfallon, Athboy. He spent his early years in a small hip gabled cottage, a quarter of a mile from Athboy. O’Growney was admitted to the local national school in 1870. He was fourteen years old before he heard his first word of Irish. He came across a New Testament printed in the Irish language. With the help of lessons printed by the newly founded Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language O’Growney mastered the language. Fifteen people in locality were able to still speak fluent Irish. In 1879 O’Growney entered St. Finian’s Seminary in Navan to train for the priesthood. Entering Maynooth in 1882 O’Growney spent his holidays in Irish-speaking areas in Galway, Kerry, Cork and Waterford. While a student in Maynooth he founded an Irish society among the students. Ordained to the priesthood in 1889 he spent a short period as curate in Mullingar before moving to Ballinacargy. O’Growney became a frequent contributor to the Gaelic Journal and in 1891 he was selected to succeed John Fleming as editor of the journal. In that year he was also appointed Professor of Irish at Maynooth College. In 1893 the Gaelic League was formed and when its first vice-president died O’Growney was asked to fill his position.  O’Growney began to publish his Easy Lessons in Irish, Cleachta Beaga Gaedilge, on a weekly basis, which was later put together into a book form. O’Growney’s health broke down and in 1894 he went to Western America for the dry air. After a year he tendered his resignation to Maynooth. O’Growney died in 1899 aged thirty six. His remains were buried in Los Angeles but four years later he was re-buried in Maynooth. In 1903 Navan’s first housing scheme, O’Growney Terrace, was named in his honour. In 1956 a statue of O’Growney was unveiled at the front of the church in Athboy. The sculptor was Séamus de Paor and the unveiling was carried out by an tAthair Donnchadh O Floinn, professor of Irish at Maynooth College, in the presence of President Seán T. O’Kelly and Eamonn de Valera.

Pat O’Growney

Pat O’Growney, a brother of Eugene’s, became involved in the Gaelic League and was Vice-President of the County Meath organisation. In 1913 Pat was one of the founders of the Volunteers, in Athboy. In 1917 O’Growney along with a number of men were imprisoned after celebrations of the Sinn Féin victory in a by-election.  A member of the County Council Pat stood for Sinn Féin in the 1920 election and was elected topping the poll with a total of 773 votes.

First Sinn Féin Newspaper published in Oldcastle

Sinn Féin Newspaper

The first paper to use the title “Sinn Féin” was published in Oldcastle in 1902. Arthur Griffith with a group of friends would cycle to Oldcastle where there was a small branch of the Gaelic League. They played handball in Kenna’s yard and there was a Sinn Féin cycling club. Brian O’Higgins cycled from Kilskyre to provide Irish lessons.

P.H. Pearse addressed a Gaelic League meeting in Gilson schools, Oldcastle, on St. Patrick’s Day 1902. Later that day a group assembled in the Naper Arms Hotel to choose a name for a new paper which they had decided to launch. William (Liam) Sheridan proposed the name “Sinn Féin” and so a small local newspaper “Sinn Féin – The Oldcastle Monthly Review” came into existence with the backing of Paddy Bartley, Michael Grace, Charlie Fox, William Kennan, William Sheridan and a number of other local people.

The printing of the paper was delegated to the Anglo-Celt in Cavan – “Printed on Irish Paper with Irish Ink”. The newspaper was sold locally, in Navan, Mullingar, Granard and Dublin. It attracted correspondents from Trim, Navan, Dublin and other areas. The newspaper promoted an Irish Ireland point of view – “to revive our ancient language, music and literature, our national sports and pastimes: our decaying industries, and the cause of temperance” Supported by its founders and advertising the newspaper carried notes on hurling, cycling and other pastimes. Brian O’Higgins contributed a number of poems to the paper. In an article Trim was described as a “decaying town” despite being county capital. Another local newspaper was castigated for making a joke about a Trim draper, Mr. O’Duffy, for having the courage to put his name in Irish over his premises.

O Dubthaigh shop in Trim

The newspaper ran into complications with the new parish priest of Oldcastle, Fr. Robert Barry, who was appointed in 1902. Fr. Barry was mildly rebuked for having only Anglo-Irish items in a fundraising concert. Another concert was held successively later with more Irish pieces but Fr. Barry later took exception to a song composed by Brian O’Higgins.

It is not clear how many issues were printed, it certainly ran for thirteen issues and possibly as long as two years. When Arthur Griffith was planning to replace “The United Irishman” paper he chose “Sinn Féin” as his new title but wrote to Paddy Bartley in Oldcastle to secure permission to use the name.

Navan Man was Pearse’s Secretary

Desmond Ryan

In 1903 James McCann, of Ardsallagh House, started a local newspaper for Navan called “The Irish Peasant”.  It was Navan’s first newspaper. McCann was a Dublin stockbroker and nationalist M.P. Seeking to promote the area McCann founded a bacon factory and canal boat dock in Navan and took over control of the Boyne canal. Commencing as a local paper ‘The Irish Peasant’ took a stand on major national interests and in 1905 the paper became a national weekly when William Ryan took over as editor.  Its price was one penny per copy.  It promoted the cause of the tenant farmer and secular involvement in education.  This upset the clergy and in particular Cardinal Logue. The paper failed when Cardinal Logue threatened to forbid it.  The print works were later acquired by the Meath Chronicle when it moved to Navan. William Ryan later told the story of the newspaper in a book called The Pope’s Green Island and a novel called The Plough and the Cross. William was connected to all the leading Irish Gaelic League figures.

William Ryan brought his family to Navan when he became editor. His son, Desmond Ryan, who came to Navan as a boy was asked in 1960s what did he think of Navan – he said “ It’s best summed up in a letter a friend of my father wrote to him, ‘So you are in Navan. God help you. I would not condemn my worst enemy to that appalling place. It is all rain, rain, rain.” He described the countryside as “rich grazing county” with “eternal bullocks” in the fields.

In 1908 Ryan became one of the first pupils of Pádraig Pearse at St Enda’s School in Dublin. Having completed his education there Ryan went on to study at UCD but remained living at St Enda’s where he taught and acted as a secretary to Pearse. As a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood Ryan took part in the Easter Rising serving under Pearse’s command at the GPO in Dublin. Ryan says Pearse never directly encouraged pupils at St Enda’s to become involved in an armed struggle and was not a member of the IRB when Ryan joined.

On Easter Monday Ryan made his way to the GPO. British soldiers were out strolling with girls. Having taken the GPO Ryan recalled the charge of the Lancers on O’Connell Street. His lasting impression is of the fire that grew in the post office as the week went on. He was deported to Stafford Gaol and Frongoch. When he came back to Ireland he returned to his studies and achieved a B.A. from UCD.

A supporter of Michael Collins Ryan supported the Treaty but the violence of the Civil War  turned him against nationalism and brought him to pacifism. Ryan became a journalist with the Freeman’s Journal. As Pearse’s literary executor he wrote about Pearse on a number of occasions.  He also wrote a number of books on aspects of Irish nationalism. He left Ireland in 1922 and went to work on the Dáil y Herald in London. Returning to Ireland at the outbreak of the Second World War Ryan took up a position with a labour periodical but this ceased publication in 1944. Moving to Swords he ran a poultry farm until his death in 1964.

Desmond Ryan’s sister, Veronica, Bheronica Ní Riain, was a founder member of Cumann na mBan. She reported to the Hibernian Hotel, O’Connell Street, on Easter Tuesday. On Wednesday Tom Clarke gave her orders to contact the volunteers in the North Dublin City area to mobilise them to join the Fingal men in North County Dublin. After delivering the message she tried to return to the GPO but was held at a British Army cordon for a period. She later worked as a part-time teacher for the Dublin VEC. In 1926 she married James Gleeson and they resided in Dublin. Veronica Gleeson died in 1962.

Founding Member and President of Sinn Féin

John Sweetman of Drumbaragh Kells.

John Sweetman

Agnes Sweetman

Drumbaragh House

John Sweetman played a significant but little known role in national and Meath politics for more than half a century. He served as an anti-Parnellite Member of Parliament in the 1890s, but was later radicalised. One of the founders of Sinn Fein he became the party’s second president in 1908.

John Sweetman, born in 1844, was the eldest son of John and Honoria Sweetman. The Sweetmans were a Dublin based brewing family with a home at Merrion Square. Sweetman was educated by the Benedictines at Downside School in Somerset until the age of eighteen. His education and friendship with his half-uncle Walter Sweetman encouraged his interest in religion and he was a lifelong reader of learned Catholic journals. In the 1870’s Sweetman took over the management of Drumbaragh estate in Kells from his mother.

As a prominent member of Dublin society Sweetman was asked to become involved in politics. In 1879 he was present on the platform of the first meeting of the Irish National Land League and proposed the election of his local M.P, Charels Stewart Parnell, as president of the League. Opposing Home Rule he identified with the Irish branch of the Liberal Party and sought a nomination for that party in 1878.

In 1880 Sweetman was invited by the American Catholic hierarchy to assist in the establishment of a Catholic colony in the western U.S.A. Sweetman visited Minnesota and became very involved in a scheme to settle poor Irish people in that state. Sweetman purchased 20,000 acres of land near Currie, Murray County, Minnesota. Unfortunately the colonisation project was not a complete success, but it did assist a number of people to obtain a better life in America. By the mid-1880s Sweetman had been converted to Home Rule and had even offered himself as a parliamentary candidate to the Irish Parliamentary Party. Selling the Sweetman brewery to the Guinness family in 1891 Sweetman decided to concentrate full time on politics.

When the party split Sweetman opposed Parnell and was a major investor in Tim Healy’s anti-Parnell newspaper the National Press. Sweetman was elected at the 1892 general election as M.P. for East Wicklow as a member of the anti-Parnellite faction of the Irish Parliamentary Party After the defeat of the Second Home Rule bill in 1893 Sweetman called on his party to break its alliance with the Liberal Party and for the resignation of the government. This stance made him unpopular among party members.

Sweetman became a Parnellite in 1895 and resigned his seat in early April 1895 by being appointed the Steward of the Manor of Northstead. At the resulting by-election held on 26 April 1895, he stood as the Parnellite candidate but was defeated in a closely-fought three-way contest. At the general election in July 1895 he stood in North Meath, where he narrowly failed to unseat the sitting anti-Parnellite M.P. James Gibney.

Sweetman married Agnes Hanly, second daughter of John P. Hanly of Knockboyne, at Navan on 11 September 1895 and they had six children. Sweetman and his wife were supporters of the improvement society, the Meath Agricultural Society. Agnes assisted in the establishment of the Home Industries Branch in 1897 with the aim of providing paid work to working class women so they could supplement the family income.

Sweetman was the vice-chairman of the first Meath County Council from 1899 to 1901 and then chairman from 1902 to 1908. He refused a knighthood offered by the British Government to all Chairman of County Councils to mark a Royal Visit. He was one of the first landowners in Meath to dispose of their lands to their tenants though the 1903 Land Act.

Sweetman became a supporter of the Gaelic League, one of the reasons for his support was ensuring Catholic control of the education system.

Becoming more radical he reacted enthusiastically to Arthur Griffith’s proposals and part financed publication of The Resurrection of Hungary. In 1905 Sweetman was one of the founders of Sinn Féin, succeeding Edward Martyn to be the second President of the party in 1908. Arthur Griffith took over as the third President later that year. Sweetman advocated a social and educational role for Sinn Féin rather than a political role.

Sweetman was close to Eoin Mac Neill, Chief of Staff of the Volunteers.  One of the first Irish men to speak out against conscription in 1915 this led to his arrest at Drumbaragh following the 1916 rising. Arrested on the 4th May and transported to Wandsworth Gaol he was released on the 16th following the intervention of Sir Edward Carson and John Dillon.

Sweetman became President of the North Meath Sinn Féin Executive in 1917. He turned down a Sinn Fein nomination for the 1918 general election on the grounds that he was too old, instead his cousin, Roger Sweetman, became T.D. for North Wexford from 1918 to 1921.

Sweetman supported the Pro-Treaty faction in the Civil War period but later denounced the government of W.T. Cosgrave for its abandonment of Griffith’s protectionist economic policies. Sweetman supported Fianna Fail after 1927 and joined the party in 1932. Sweetman’s second son, Malachi, took an anti-Treaty line and was imprisoned for his activities in 1922-3.

Throughout Sweetman’s life he wrote many letters to Irish newspapers and politicians. Sweetman was opposed to giving women voting rights. Sweetman opposed plans to build a Catholic Cathedral in Merrion Square, where he himself lived, on the grounds that this would cause great trouble and inconvenience to the residents. He died in Dublin in 1936, aged 92.

Sweetman’s son, John Oliver, inherited the Drumbaragh estate on his father’s death. Malachi married and settled in Wexford where he became a County Councillor. Patrick Sweetman, another son, settled in Australia. William Sweetman was editor of the Irish Press newspaper from 1937 to 1951 and died aged 96 in 1999.

Lord Ashbourne Supports the Irish Volunteers

His sister shot Mussolini

Lord Ashbourne

The second Lord Ashbourne was one of the organisers of the Howth gun running and subscribed part of the funds necessary to purchase the arms and ammunition. All the subscribers to the fund, with the exception of Minnie Ryan, were Protestants of Anglo-Irish stock.

William Gibson was born in 1868, the eldest son of first Baron Ashbourne. The first Lord Ashbourne was one of the leading lawyers in Ireland before he embarked on his political career. Most famously associated with land reform in Ireland, in particular the 1885  Ashbourne Land Act, which created a fund providing long-term loans to tenant farmers seeking to buy their farms from landlords, he served as Lord Chancellor for twenty years. On his appointment as Lord Chancellor Gibson was raised to the peerage as Lord Ashbourne of Ashbourne, Co. Meath.

The first Lord Ashbourne was a member of the Conservative Party and a devoted Unionist. When he died he left the bulk of his fortune to his second son, Edward Gibson, leaving William only a small bequest. William was a fervent Irish cultural revivalist, a prominent member of the Gaelic League, whose cultural and religious views caused him to be disinherited by his father.

William was received into the Catholic Church while studying law at Oxford University. He had become interested in the Irish language while at Trinity College and became president of the Gaelic League in London. He was a familiar figure in London, where he wore a distinctive kilt and cloak, pinned at the shoulder with a large brooch. He insisted in speaking Irish, even in the House of Lords, and rather than speak English to those who did not speak Irish, he would converse in French.

Lord Ashbourne addressing the Volunteers 1914

In July 1914 Lord Ashbourne reviewed and addressed the Volunteers of Meath, Louth and Monaghan at Castlebellingham, Co. Louth. In 1915 Lord Ashbourne presented a cup which became known as the Ashbourne Cup for an intervarsity camogie competition. This competition celebrated its one hundred year anniversary in 2015.

William Gibson, aka Liam Mac Giolla Bhride, died in 1942 in Paris. Ashbourne’s death prompted messages of condolences to his French wife from the likes of Douglas Hyde and Éamon de Valera. He had last visited Ireland in July 1939, when he could barely walk and was in Compiègne when the Germans arrived in June 1940. In spite of his age, as a British citizen, he was briefly interned in December 1940, before he was released on the intervention of his wife. Lord Ashbourne was buried in the hamlet of Chevincourt, north of Compiègne.

Violet Gibson

Mussolini after the shooting

His mentally disturbed sister, Violet Albina Gibson, shot Benito Mussolini in front of the Campidoglio in Rome in April 1926. Violet had strong and different religious views. She was particularly fascinated with the process Mussolini had put in place of assassination of his opponents. Mussolini was Prime Minister of Italy having seized power in 1922. Mussolini had just finished a speech on the wonders of modern medicine. A shot from her revolver only succeeded in grazing Il Duce’s nose before the gun jammed and Violet was quickly overcome. Just before the gun went off Mussolini leaned back to acknowledge the band playing the Fascist official tune. He was most surprised that a woman had tried to kill him.  In order to avoid a diplomatic incident, her trial was quickly expedited, Violet was declared insane, and was sent back to a mental hospital in England. For twenty-nine years she never left the grounds of the hospital in Northampton. Mussolini was captured when the Allies invaded Italy in 1945 and executed. Violet remained in the mental hospital and when she died in 1956 no one attended her funeral.

Mary McGrath from Meath acted as a companion/nurse for Violet in Rome. Violet dismissed her shortly before she shot Mussolini. McGrath returned to Meath with Violet’s presents of a Roman teapot and two teacups. During the investigation McGrath returned to Rome to give a statement about Violet and to visit her former mistress in prison.

For Violet’s full story read “The Woman Who Shot Mussolini” by Frances Stonor Saunders.

Grand-daughter of Bishop of Meath Imports Arms to Ireland

Mary Spring Rice and Molly Childers on board the Asgard

Mary Spring Rice was one of the Irish Protestant nationalists that was involved in the importation of arms to Howth in 1914. Her mother, Elizabeth Butcher, the eldest daughter of Samuel Butcher, the Bishop of Meath, married Thomas Spring Rice, the second Baron Monteagle of Brandon at Ardbraccan in 1875. Butcher held the office of Bishop of Meath from 1866 until he took his own life in July 1876. Dr. Butcher took a fit of suicidal mania after an attack of pneumonia. Dr. Butcher managed to slit his throat with a razor just before  his family burst into his bedroom. The Bishop urged them to pass him a pencil and paper upon which he wrote the word ‘Mad’ before dying. The group organising the importation of arms were faced with the problem of how to smuggle the arms passed the Royal Navy. Spring Rice came up with the suggestion of using private yachts. She raised £2,000 towards the purchase of 900 Mauser rifles from Germany and sailed on the Asgard to collect the guns and helped to unload them in Ireland.

Protestant Nationalist in Revolutionary Ireland

Alice Stopford Green

Alice Stopford Green

Alice was born on 31 May 1874 in Archdeaconry House in Kells, the seventh of nine children of Archdeacon Edward Adderly Stopford and his wife Anne. Her paternal grandfather had been bishop of Meath. Archdeacon Stopford had an interest in ecclesiastical law and conferred with Prime Minister Gladstone on the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1869 which he opposed.  Alice’s mother was a fervid evangelical who led her children in family prayers every morning. Alice escaped as often as she could her mother’s evangelism. Alice and her sisters were educated at home by various governesses. Her studies were interrupted by eye trouble which led to near blindness at the age of sixteen. Forced to spend a year in a darkened room she underwent an operation which restored her sight.

The family moved to Dublin while she was recuperating. She began attending physics lectures at the College of Science which was an unusual sight for the all male student body. In 1875 her father died and she moved with her mother and sister to England. At the home of her cousin she met her future husband, Richard Green. Green had been a curate in the East End before concentrating on journalism and historical research. Alice married Green in 1877. Following her marriage she acted as his research assistant. Richard Green was often in poor health and passed away in 1883, leaving enough funds to allow his widow to live comfortably.

Her first work of her own, Henry II, was published in 1888. This was followed by Town Life in the Fifteenth Century in 1894.   In the 1890s she became interested in Irish history and the nationalist movement. She moved to Grosvenor Road, London, in 1903 and she began entertaining a diverse group of guests including Winston Churchill and Florence Nightingale.

Roger Casement with Lord Ashbourne and Alice Stopford Green

Green became interested in colonial affairs, particularly Africa. She opposed the English policy in South Africa during the Boer War. In 1901 she co-founded the African Society and edited its journal. Her interest in the Congo brought her into contact with Roger Casement who had produced a damning report on the condition of natives in the Congo.

Green gradually became more interested in Irish affairs. She supported the Irish language and culture revival. In 1908 she published The Making of Ireland and Its Undoing. The book’s nationalistic tone upset Unionists and the book was banned in the R.D.S. library. She supported the 1912 Home Rule Bill and became friendly with many in the nationalist cause.

She formed the London Committee to raise funds for the Irish Volunteers. The funds were used to buy German guns that were brought to Ireland on the Asgard, in the Howth gun running in August 1914. Supporting Redmond’s call for the Volunteers to go to France to fight, Green was shocked by the 1916 rising and disapproved of it. Green organised a defence fund when Casement was arrested and then campaigned for a reprieve when he was sentenced to death. Casement’s execution and the changing political circumstances caused her to move to Dublin at the age of seventy. She took up residence at 90 St. Stephen’s Green.  Green remained non-violent in her approach and realising that Home Rule would no longer satisfy Ireland sought dominion status instead. The strongest obstacle to Irish self-rule was Ulster Unionism, she insisted and tried to persuade Unionists that Home Rule was an opportunity rather than a threat.  Despite her non-violent attitude she harboured many Sinn Féin men on the run including Michael Collins, whose tall bike was frequently to be seen in her hall. Her home was raided on a number of occasions by Crown Forces.

Senator Stopford Green and Senator Eileen Costello arriving at Leinster House

Supporting the Treaty in 1921 Green was the first woman nominated to the first Irish Senate in 1922. Nominated as senator by W.T. Cosgrave, her home was given a military guard to protect against Anti-Treaty attacks. She helped to establish an Irish book shop to promoted Irish literature. In 1924 Green presented a silver and bronze casket to the Senate for its constitution. She was supportive of Yeats, in the Senate, in his attempt to retain the right to divorce. Her last major historical work was A History of the Irish state to 1014 published in 1925. Green survived a heart attack in 1925 but died in 1929.

Pearse’s people were from Meath

Padraig Pearse’s mother, Margaret

Pearse’s maternal family, the Bradys, came from Meath. It is said that his maternal grandmother was a Brady from Rahood, Nobber, but no family records could be traced in Meath church records. Other sources seem to point to a connection with Oldcastle or Ratoath.

Pearse’s mother was Margaret Brady. Her father was Patrick who came to Dublin from Meath in the middle of the Famine in 1848. According to Pearse’s own writings the family originated in Cavan and moved to Meath after the 1798 rebellion. Pádraig’s great-great-grandfather, Uaitéar Ó Brádaigh (Walter Brady), had fought in the 1798 Rising as a member of the United Irishmen. According to Pearse’s writing one of Walter’s brothers was hanged by the Yeos; another was buried in the Croppy’s Grave at Tara. Uaitéar’s son, also named Uaitéar (Walter Brady), was forced with his large family from their Meath home in 1848.  Walter, Pearse’s great grandfather, married Margaret O’Connor, and they had five sons, and three daughters – Catherine, Phil, Anne, Patrick, Larry, Christy, John and Margaret.

Pearse’s grandfather, Patrick, married Brigid Savage, a Fingal woman. Their children were Walter, Brigid, Catherine and Margaret. Margaret, daughter of Patrick, was Pearse’s mother.

Margaret Brady married James Pearse as his second wife in 1877. James was an Englishman, a sculptor and worker in stone. The reredos in St. Patrick’s Church Trim were created by James Pearse & Sons. The altar furniture in Kilmessan church was also said to have been fashioned by the same firm.

Padraig Pearse

Patrick Henry Pearse was born 10 November 1879 in Great Brunswick Street in Dublin. Pearse recalled his grand-uncle Phil as a patriarchal man, whom he regarded with awe on account of his mighty age. His grand-uncle Christy was the youngest of the brothers who had  beautiful horses which he raced at Baldoyle and Fairyhouse. According to the family a regular visitor to the home was Pearse’s grand-aunt, Margaret, who was born about 1830. Grand-Aunt Margaret carried him as a baby to be christened at St. Andrew’s, Westland Row. Pearse was told stories of Tone and Emmet by his grand-aunt Margaret and he made occasional visits to her home farm.

PH Pearse addressed an aeiroicht in Trim Castle grounds on 17 August 1902.  He also visited Oldcastle in that year. A moderate nationalist, he supported Home Rule until 1912. He was one of the founders of the Irish Volunteers and became radicalised in 1914 when he was sworn in as a member of the IRB. Pearse led the revolution of 1916 as commander-in-chief. He and his brother, Willie, were executed for their roles in the rising.

Pearse’s mother, Margaret, joined Sinn Féin after the rising. Mrs. Pearse and other dignitaries visited St. Ultan’s well in Ardbraccan in 1920 to support the fundraising efforts for St. Ultan’s Hospital for Infants in Dublin. Entertained at the Loreto Convent Mrs. Pearse gave a short lecture to the boarders.

Elected to the Dáil in 1921 she opposed the Treaty. She was defeated in the 1922 election. In 1926 she left Sinn Féin and became a founder member of Fianna Fáil. At many public occasions she stated that were her sons alive they too would have joined Fianna Fáil. Margaret Pearse died in 1932. Her daughter, Margaret Mary Pearse, also joined Fianna Fáil, and served as a TD in the 1930s and later as a Senator.


Relative of Navan Family Printed the Proclamation

Christopher Brady who printed the 1916 Proclamation                     

Thomas Brady and Elizabeth Duignan of Navan

Born in Dublin in 1892, Thomas Brady, settled in Navan while still quite young and became an improver in the hair dressing business before opening his own establishment in Watergate Street (where Byrne’s Hairdressers is now) and then Market Square and Ludlow Street. His grandmother, Anne Mullen, was from Ardcath and lived next door to her grandchildren in Little Green street, Dublin. Thomas married Elizabeth Duignan of Navan in 1913 and they had children: Elizabeth, Herbert, Vera, Tom, Bernard, Rita, Josephine, Rosaleen and William (known as Greg). The family lived  at Watergate before moving to Emmet Terrace. Thomas died suddenly in February 1939 aged just 46 while his widow died in 1955. They were buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Navan.

Thomas’s brother, Christopher, was the printer of the 1916 Proclamation. Thomas and Christopher were sons of Peter and Elizabeth Brady. Peter was a printer with Alex Thom and Co., Abbey Street, who produced an annual directory. Christopher was born in 1888 and lived at Little Mary Street, Inn’s Quay. Christopher followed his father into the print trade and into the same firm, Alex Thom and Co.  

Christopher Brady joined the IRB circle in North Frederick Street, in 1915. Patrick Daly, a compositor and member of the IRB, introduced Brady to James Connolly. Brady became the  printer in Liberty Hall from May 1915 working on the ITGWU weekly newspaper ‘The Workers Republic’ and other union material. Papers such as Spark, Honesty and The Gael were suppressed by the British authorities. Connolly trusted Brady but kept his identity secret. Brady carried despatches from Connolly to Thomas Clarke’s shop.

On the week before Good Friday the police decided to raid Liberty Hall and confiscate copies of The Gael. Brady saw the raiders arrive and went upstairs to inform Connolly and Markievicz. Connolly came down, a loaded gun in his hand, and told the police “Drop these papers or I will drop you.” Countess Markievicz left the building using the front door, went around the corner and came in behind the police officers. The police went away empty handed.

Christopher Brady was sent to Emmet Hall, Inchicore, to contact Michael Mallin, Connolly’s second-in-command, to tell him of the raid and to ask him to mobilise the Citizen Army to protect Liberty Hall.

Connolly introduced Brady to Pearse during Holy Week. On Good Friday Connolly asked Brady and compositors; Michael Molloy and William O’Brien; to come to Liberty Hall between 10 and 11 a.m. on Easter Sunday morning for an unspecified but secret job.

When the three men arrived they were taken upstairs and introduced to Thomas MacDonagh who read the text of the Proclamation to them and asked their opinion to which Brady replied; “I consider it a great honour to print such a great document.”  

When Brady read the manuscript he “fully understood that it was a document proclaiming an Irish Republic and that it meant war.” MacDonagh asked Connolly if the men were sworn in but Connolly replied that he would vouch for their secrecy. Thomas MacDonagh then said “If we can hold out in this fight in order that Ireland’s voice may be heard at the Peace Conference and you boys will not be forgotten.” The document was written in a clean round hand – no copy of the handwritten original document survived. Brady said he could not say whose handwriting it was but it certainly was not Connolly’s as Brady was familiar with his scrawl.

Printing supplies were in short supply. The type was lent to them by a sympathetic English printer, Mr. West of Stafford Street. Brady and his two workmates set out to print the proclamation on an old printing machine and a shortage of type “so great that wrong fonts were used” and “I had to make a new letter by converting an “F” into an “E” from sealing wax to make up the supply”.  He describes the difficulties they faced in printing the document. They had to print the document in two sections as they had not got enough type. The printing machine was a very old machine and Brady had an enormous amount of trouble keeping it going. It was an antique “double crown” so dilapidated that parts had to be propped with bricks. The paper, produced by Swift Brook Paper Mill at Saggart, Co. Dublin, was of poor quality, thin and tore easily. The first proof was ready by 9.00 p.m. on Sunday night and given to Connolly to check. He made one change – the name – “Eamon” was spelled incorrectly. The men printed 2,500 copies of the Proclamation which were divided into two bundles. The Proclamation was parcelled up and delivered to Helena Molony. An original copy of the Proclamation is now in the National Museum and it is autographed by Christopher Brady, Michael Molloy and William O’Brien. The copies were delivered to the General Headquarters at the G.P.O.  and from there to different areas. As each commandant received his share, the Proclamation was read out to their men and posted up all over the city.

Such was the secrecy surrounding the printing that Mattie and Joe Connolly stood guard in the machine room while Brady printed the document. Even Countess Markievicz was not allowed to enter the room to get her coat. She was allowed in when the printing was finished and she rushed up to Connolly with a telegram and said “I will shoot McNeill” to which Connolly replied “You are not to hurt a hair on McNeill’s head. If anything happens to McNeill I will hold you responsible.” McNeill had issued countermanding orders to stop the rising.

Connolly ordered Brady to pick up any loose copies and burn them.  Brady left Liberty Hall between one and two on Easter Monday morning. Physically exhausted after a number of sleepless nights he took no part in the actual rising itself. Brady spent Easter Monday night in a tent at Howth: “I had a tent there I used on odd nights to throw off suspicion on me and as part of earlier precautions against British spies.” The following day he walked back into the city and as he approached his home on Little Mary Street a couple of “shawlies” warned him that the British Military were on the way. Brady’s father was arrested.

Another brother of Tom and Christopher was Frank Brady, who fought in 1916 at Jacob’s Biscuit Factory and in Camden Street.

Brady went on the run and stayed on the run for six months as he was a wanted man for having printed the Proclamation. After the Rising Nellie Gifford asked Brady to call to Count Plunkett’s house to repair a printing press but British soldiers had arrived just before and broken up the machine. Later Joe Stanley employed Brady as a printer.

In 1922 Brady became a printer at the Bank of Ireland, College Green, a position he held for thirty six years. A small brass shooter  used to lock the type on the press used to print the Proclamation was donated by Brady to the 1916 exhibition in 1935. The shooter was inscribed “C. Brady.”

In 1935 Brady applied for a 1916 pension but was denied as he had taken no active service in the Rising. He made appeals to this decision in 1939 and 1940. In 1968 Brady unsuccessfully appealed directly to the Taoiseach for the granting of a 1916 medal. Brady was interviewed for the RTÉ Television project ‘Portraits 1916’ on 6 November 1965. Brady moved to Annamoe Drive, Cabra; and then to Mount Carmel Road and then in retirement lived with his son in Roebuck Park, Dundrum and lost his sight in old age. Brady spent his last days in Roebuck Castle under the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor where he died in December 1974 aged 86 years. His remains were interred in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Fairyhouse Races

Fairyhouse Races 1921

Fairyhouse Racecourse is one of Ireland’s premier horse racing venues. The first meeting held at Fairyhouse was in 1848 when the Ward Union Hunt held their point-to-point.  Situated in the parish of Ratoath in County Meath, it is the home of the Irish Grand National, which was  inaugurated in 1870. A National Hunt chase the race was run over 3 miles and 4 furlongs and there are twenty four fences to be jumped.  The Easter Monday fixture regularly attracted race goers from Dublin and it became known as the Dubs’ Day Out. People from all over the country attend the Easter meeting from as far away as Clare.

Joe Lawless, a North County Dublin Volunteer, said that most of Fingal headed for Ratoath each Easter to watch the races. “From early morning a continuous stream of ponies and traps, jaunting cars, bicycles and even pedestrians streamed towards the popular annual race meeting of the Ward Union Hunt… these holiday meetings were a centre where widely scattered friends and relatives renewed acquaintance and new friends were made…”

Many Volunteers went to see the races following the cancellation of mobilisation orders. Two Volunteers from Maynooth were at Fairyhouse Races when the call came to mobilise on Monday evening. James O’Connor, a member of the St Margaret’s Company Irish Volunteers, said “On Easter Monday I got up and went to the races at Fairyhouse. While at the races I heard that the Rising had started in Dublin. It was the general talk at the races that evening. I came home on Tuesday, bringing my shotgun and cartridges, I joined the Battalion.”  On the 28th of April he was part of the Battle of Ashbourne

Thomas Gay, a Dublin Volunteer, decided to go to Fairyhouse races as the mobilisation orders for Sunday had been cancelled. While at Fairyhouse he heard rumours of fighting in Dublin but distrusted them as he believed they were “greatly exaggerated.” The following day he joined the rising at Marrowbone Lane Distillery. Con O’Donovan, a student from Cork, who took part in the Easter Rising said: “On Monday morning, I got word to mobilise a portion of the company… But, what disappointed me most was the number of Volunteers on my list that I found had gone off to Fairyhouse races, or somewhere else for the Bank Holiday.”

All the British establishment went to Fairyhouse Races for the Easter weekend. Officers based in the Curragh and Dublin took the day off and went racing. There was only a limited number of men on guard at Dublin Castle. The British Officers on leave from World War 1 were in good humour.  All Sorts won the big race, trained by Richard Cleary.

This was a major event on the sporting calendar and the rebels knew that a large number of British Army Officers, senior RIC officers and senior civil servants would be attendance and away from their bases, stations and offices.  This was one of the factors considered by the rebels when deciding on a date for the uprising. Shortly after the soldiers left for Fairyhouse, a company of the Irish Citizen Army captured City Hall on Dublin’s Dame Street. Their orders were to prevent the race-going British soldiers from returning to the Castle and gaining access to their weapons and ammunition. The Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park was to be taken and plundered, but the commanding officer had the key to the bunker with him at the Fairyhouse Races. Dublin Castle was not attacked due to rumours that it was defended by a strong garrison.

Fairyhouse Grand National 1921

As the rebellion began in Dublin mounted messengers arrived at Fairyhouse with news that an uprising was underway.  District Inspector Murnane of Trim was in charge of the police at Fairyhouse Races. On his return journey that evening he called at Dunshaughlin barracks where he received a coded message to arrest all Volunteer leaders.  Constable Eugene Bratton of Navan Barracks was on duty at Fairyhouse races. He said “A large number of people walked on that day along the railway line from Dublin to Fairyhouse as they could not get a train. It was those people who told us what was happening in the city. Those people were very frightened.”

Ernest Jordison, Manager and Director of British Petroleum, Dublin, organised a party to go to the races in a car. When the group arrived at the races there were rumours of terrible happenings in Dublin.  There were grave concerns in the reserved grand stand and other enclosures. A member of the party, P.J. Hagan, decided to go home to Newry with another friend but their car was hijacked by the Volunteers before they had gone very far. Jordison tried to get home through the city but was held up at Annesley Bridge by Volunteers. The Volunteers would not allow the motor car to pass the bridge but one of the Volunteers asked if “Civil War” had won. Jordison replied that it had come third in the big race that day.

Once the Rising began, Padraig Pearse had ordered rebels to take the main road at Finglas and ambush army officers returning from the Fairyhouse races. A group of Dundalk Volunteers stopped and commandeered cars returning from Fairyhouse on the main Belfast road near Castlebellingham. The objective was to obtain transport to take them to the Hill of Tara where they had arranged to rendezvous with Volunteers from the neighbouring counties.

Alfred West was attending the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, when he heard about the outbreak of the Easter Rising in Dublin. He decided to leave early and drove through the city centre where he found himself caught up in the fighting. West wrote “We fortunately were one of the first cars away. Came through Sackville St. not thinking things were as bad as they were, but heard as you did, that they had the post office”. He saw the dead horses on Sackville Street and the damage done to the GPO.

Brigadier Fowler, a Meath native who joined the Gunners Royal Artillery, was at Fairyhouse Races and was summoned away to help quell the rebellion. Hubert De Stacpoole, of Tobertynan, Longwood, a British officer, recorded that he was shot at in Dublin during the 1916 Easter Rising on his way back from Fairyhouse races. Lord Fingall and his friends, the Kellys, were at Fairyhouse. The enclosure was full of khaki-clad soldiers from Dublin and the Curragh. Someone arrived at the course with a bullet hole in his car. People left early, as rumours gathered. The rebels had seized Dublin, they held the roads. The soldiers had to get back to the Curragh and their barracks in Dublin somehow. Fingall’s party was joined by several young officers who were friends. Fingall was able to accommodate them as he had Horace Plunkett’s big car. In it they left Fairyhouse and went to Dunboyne Castle where they found the Morrogh Ryans, knowing no more than they did. The soldiers rang up their Barracks and asked their Commanding Officer for orders. The message came back to “stay where you are until further instructions.” They tried again later and got the same answer. Fingall, Kelly and the soldiers changed into civilian clothes and set out at 10.30 in the evening for Dublin. The telephone exchange had been taken over the rebels and it was they who were telling the soldiers to stay where they were. Fingall took a circuitous route through the mountains and dropped the Kellys at Dublin Castle and made his way to Kilteragh, home of Horace Plunkett.

All public transport was suspended with the military commandeering any available transport. On returning from the Fairyhouse Races the British commander General W.H.M Lowe declared Martial Law on 24 April 1916.

He heard the leader’s confessions.

Fr. Kieran Farrelly of Carnaross

Fr Kieran Farrelly

In Mount Argus Passionist monastery, Dublin, in 1916 the two priests most sympathetic to the Irish Volunteers were Fr Eugene Nevin and Fr Kieran Farrelly. Fr Eugene was from Ballinakill in Co Galway and Fr Kieran was from Carnaross, Kells in Co Meath.

Fr. Kieran was baptised Thomas in 1887, the son of Peter and Mary Farrelly of Cloonagrouna, and was known in his religious life as Kieran. He was one of a very large family. Initially he set out to be a businessman but soon found his vocation and studied for the priesthood.  He was ordained a priest of the Passionist Order by Archbishop Walsh of Dublin in 1913.

On Good Friday night, 21 April 1916, Patrick and Willie Pearse together with Joseph Plunkett and Eamonn Ceannt came to Mount Argus with one of their friends, looking for confession. The preaching of the seven last words of Christ was in full swing in Mount Argus to a packed house. One of the students, Leo Gribben, suggested they should wait until after the service, but they persisted in asking for a confessor, so he brought them into the monastery and found Fr. Kieran Farrelly to hear their confessions in the duty room, near the church. Afterwards they asked if they could listen to the sermons but there was no room in the Church so they were brought them on to the sanctuary were the students were seated. Fr Kieran Farrelly, is said to have asked them when did they intend to replace their wooden guns with real guns. To which question, Pearse is said to have replied, “it may be sooner than you think”.

On Easter Tuesday Fr. Nevin was contacted by the Volunteers at Marrowbone Lane Distillery requesting that he visit them. Fr. Kieran Farrelly volunteered to go with Fr. Nevin. Both priests were kept busy hearing confessions to the accompanying sound of gun-fire. The priest returned to Mount Argus. On Saturday a request for Mass on the Sunday came from Marrowbone Lane. Fr. Nevin felt that he would not obtain permission to hold a Mass there and so wrote back saying the circumstances cancelled the obligation and that they were to say the Rosary as a substitute at 12 o’clock.

On Saturday afternoon a member of Cumann na mBan asked Fr. Nevin if he would conceal one of the leaders of the Rising. Having consulted with Fr. Farrelly, Fr. Nevin agreed. Desmond Fitzgerald arrived, travel-stained and weary. A bed was improvised in the organ loft. The sacristan was later perplexed when having closed the church he could hear the sound of loud snoring. The following morning Fitzgerald mingled with the departing congregation and escaped arrest. Fr. Nevin wrote later  “It should be recalled, and pity it is that it has to, that the Insurrection was unpopular with the vast majority of Dublin people, catholic and Protestant alike, many of whom were ready to co-operate with the authorities in suppressing what they to disparage called “the riot and in rounding up the “rioters.”

There was another connection between Mount Argus and the Pearse family. James Pearse, father of Patrick Pearse and his brother Willie made the carving of Saint Paul of the Cross for the pulpit in the church in Mount Argus. Also in Mount Argus is a statue of Our Lady by Willie Pearse.

In September 1922 Fr. Kieran Farrelly was called to visit an anti-Treaty prisoner in Wellington Barracks, now Griffith College. Fr. Kieran filled a number of offices in the Order including Professor of Theology, Rector of St. Gabriel’s Retreat Enniskillen and Provincial Consultor. He was an ardent promoter of the Irish language. As a Passionist priest he conducted retreats around the country and was based at Holy Cross Retreat, Ardoyne, Belfast for a year. Fr. Kieran died at the age of 52 in October 1939. 

Séamus Fox

Seamus Fox

James (Séamus) Fox, at the age of fifteen, was one of the youngest of the rebels to die in the 1916 Rising. James Joseph Fox was born on 10 December 1900 at the Spencer Arms Hotel, Drumree, County Meath. His father, Patrick Joseph Fox, was the hotel proprietor. Patrick had been involved on the Parnellite side in the split of the 1890s. Pat had married his Liverpool born wife, Margaret Collins, about 1897 and their first two children were born in Liverpool. By 1911 they had five children but one had died in infancy. Their eldest daughter was Constance M. Fox. James had two younger siblings, a brother, Thomas W. who was two years younger than him and Mary F. who was ten years younger. James and his brother were able to speak the Irish language so they must have attended lessons locally.

James attended school in Culmullen and Dunshaughlin. James was especially fond of the Irish language and Irish history. He joined Fianna Éireann and the Irish Volunteers almost at the same time. The family seem to have lost their home and business about 1912 and Pat. Fox and his sons moved to Dublin while his wife and daughters returned to Margaret’s mother in Liverpool. James worked as an assistant in the Maypole Dairy, which was a restaurant chain. He lived at 74 Thomas Street, Dublin at the time of the Rising. Pat Fox become interested in the Irish Citizen Army and was involved in promoting the policies of the group. In 1914 Pat. was elected a member of the newly formed army executive council. In September 1914 he warned members of the group that an attempt was to be made on the life of James Larkin by British spies. A guard was set on Larkin’s home, Croyden Park House, for a number of weeks but no assassination attempt was made. Shortly before the Rising James won a sword in a shooting competition organised by his Battalion, the 1st Battalion of the Irish Volunteers.

Liberty Hall was a hive of activity at noon on Easter Monday 1916. James had been brought to Liberty Hall by his father. Pat Fox approached Frank Robbins saying “Here is my lad; take him with you for the Irish Citizen Army. I am too old for the job”. Robbins thought that James was at least nineteen years of age and handed him over to Commandant Michael Mallin.

Trench in Stephen’s Green

James was stationed at the north side of St. Stephen’s Greens, near the Grafton Street Gate, in a trench opposite the United Service Club. Early on Easter Tuesday morning the trenches that had been dug in Stephen’s Green were coming under heavy fire from British machine-gun positions and James made a break for the railings. He was almost over the top when a machine-gun scything round in a wide sweep caught him several times. When James tried to crawl to safety a second swathe of bullets cut across him and he eventually stopped moving.

Along with the remains of the other men who fell in the Green, Fox’s body  was first brought to Mercer’s Hospital before eventually being interred in the family burial plot in Knockmark Cemetery, Drumree, Co. Meath.  His gravestone was erected in 1935 and his father, mother and brother attended the unveiling. His mother and sisters lived in Liverpool and his father resided in Dublin. The grave was refurbished in 2006.

Seamus Fox’s Grave, Knockmark

Dunshaughlin Historical Society hosted an excellent talk by Jim Gilligan on Séamus Fox in April 2015

James McCormack

James McCormack

James McCormack was born at Lisdoran, Julianstown, on 24 November 1877. His parents were Michael McCormack and Mary Sinnott who had married in January 1877. He was baptised at Stamullin church on the 25th November. By 1901 his father had died and James and his three brothers were agricultural labourers. His sister was a domestic servant as was his mother.

James McCormack’s Home at Lisdoran

McCormack went to Dublin to work as a general labourer. He married his wife, Ann Rooney, 15th October 1908 and they had three sons, Michael born in 1909, Joseph born in 1911 and James born 1914. They lived at 13 Sutton Cottage, Baldoyle, Co. Dublin with two of Ann’s brothers.

McCormack served as a Lieutenant in the Irish Citizen Army under Commandant James Connolly in the GPO. He was shot through the head and died instantly in Moore Lane, probably on the 28th April 1916. He is buried in the 1916 plot in St. Paul’s in Glasnevin. The remains of 230 people killed in the Rising are buried St Paul’s section of the cemetery but only the 17 volunteers are remembered. His widow, Ann, applied for a pension for his service during 1916 and she received a pension and education costs for her sons. Ann died 1st December 1928 aged 45, leaving her two youngest sons still dependent on her. James McCormack Gardens in Baldoyle were named in his honour.

Burial place of James McCormack

“I do not think that any Irishman in history has paid the same sacrifice that Philip Clarke has paid”

Philip Clarke

“I do not think that any Irishman in history has paid the same sacrifice that Philip Clarke has paid.” said Séamus Finn at the unveiling of a plaque to Clarke on Rossin Bridge. Philip Clarke was killed in action on the 25th of April 1916. Stationed at Stephen’s Green he was killed by firing from the Shelbourne Hotel.

The Clarke family originated in Kellystown, Duleek. Thomas Clarke of Kellystown married Roseanne Keelan of Garballagh in 1873. They had fourteen children, of whom nine survived. Thomas was an agricultural labourer and Roseanne became a dressmaker. The second son, Philip, was born on 12th February 1876 and baptised in Duleek. After his birth the family moved to Monknewtown, Slane, with his brother, John, being baptised in Slane in 1878. The family were supporter of the national and land causes with the second youngest son being baptised Michael Davitt Clarke.

Philip Clarke moved to Dublin where he was a van driver and labourer at Parkes and Sons, The Coombe. Clarke married Monica Fitzroy, a widow, and took responsibility for her children, George and Robert. The couple married 19th April 1897 and had children: Rosanna, Thomas, James, Philip, Richard, John, Bridget and Charles. One other child of the couple died young. The family lived in Emerald Square in 1901, Dolphin Barn Street in 1911 and Cork Street, Dublin in 1916. Clarke’s wages in 1916 was £1.2.0 a week. 

Clarke was an active member of the Gaelic League and the GAA. He was a member of John Boyle O`Reilly football team at Monknewtown. Clarke joined the Citizen Army in early 1914.

At the outbreak of the Rising Philip, as a private, was in the Four Court’s garrison but was moved to St. Stephen’s Green. On the Tuesday morning, 25th April, shortly after dawn Philip Clarke and John McDonnell under the command of Thomas O’Donoghue were removing chains to strengthen the barricades outside the Shelbourne Hotel from the outside of Stephen’s Green. As they did so a head appeared at one of the upper floor windows, Thomas O’Donoghue called on the other two men to retreat back into the Green, Philip Clarke was so intent on his work did not hear the order to retreat, shots rang out and he was killed instantly. An alternative story has him killed on the steps of the Royal College of Surgeons. Countess Markievicz witnessed the shots and returned fire and possibly shot the sniper.  His body was taken to Mercers Hospital and he was buried in Glasnevin 

Monica Clarke and her children

His widow, Monica Clarke, moved from 65 Cork Street in the 1920s to 8 Sandford Gardens, Fairbrothers Fields, South Circular Road, Dublin and received a pension for herself and her dependent children. Monica died on 11th August 1948.

A concrete plaque on Rossin Bridge, SlaneDrogheda road, was unveiled in 1964 honouring the memory of Philip Clarke.

Clarke’s gravestone Glasnevin

Clarke Plaque Rossin

“He was one of our best”

Thomas Allen, Longwood

Thomas Allen

Thomas Allen, was born in Longwood about 1885. While he was very young his mother died and both he and his sister were taken to their grandparent’s house at Ballasport, Hill of Down where Thomas attended the local school and was later apprenticed to boot maker, Pat Halpin of Clondalee. Thomas appeared on the 1901 census as an apprentice to Halpin and was living with the Halpin family.

Having learned his trade Allen re-located to Dublin and lived with his aunt, Kate Quinn, at 19 Monck Place, Phibsborough. He got a job as a boot and shoe operator in Winstanleys. A few years later Thomas married Margaret Anderson, who also worked at Winstanleys, and they had four children: Tommy, Jack, James and Eileen.

Allen joined the Irish Volunteers and was attached to C Company of the Dublin Brigade. He was said to have been very enthusiastic and so in 1914 he was given the responsibility of organising and training volunteers in east and north Co. Westmeath. Every Saturday when he finished work at Winstanleys he took the train to the Hill of Down and spent the rest of the weekend training the Volunteers under his charge.

In July 1914 Allen was involved in getting arms ashore at Howth. He and a number of other Volunteers set off for Howth on Saturday 25th July. They attempted to hire a boat despite the weather conditions being unsuitable. They were told they were there to meet a boat bringing in arms. Late in the evening a messenger arrived and told the men to go back to the city but to remain together. All the men went to Allen’s house and stayed there overnight. They slept little as there was a constant stream of messengers arriving to see Allen. At 7.00 a.m. the men set off for Fairview to join their companies. The ship carrying the arms had been contacted and arrived later that day. 

In 1916 Allen entrusted the mobilisation papers to his cousin, Miss Bee Quinn, who took them to the train to the Hill of Down on Good Friday 1916. Because of confusion within the leadership of the Volunteers the rising did not begin until Easter Monday. Allen joined his company at Parnell Square on Easter Monday where he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant with orders to assist in the occupation of the Four Courts. Commandant Ned Daly with the 1st Battalion seized the buildings at the Four Courts and the force managed to survive the bombardment by British artillery that destroyed large parts of the city centre. This was a strategic position as it controlled the main route between the military barracks to the west of the city and the headquarters of the rising at the GPO.  Four days after the rising began Allen was shot in the Records Office, (now Courts 22 and 23), during a machine gun attack by soldiers advancing through Smithfield. Allen, Thomas Smart and another Volunteer were barricading a window overlooking Hammond Lane and had almost completed the work when a burst of machine gun fire came from Smithfield direction hitting Allen.

Fellow Longwood native, Eamonn Duggan, attempted to obtain medical assistance from the Richmond Hospital but a British officer in charge of the telephone exchange refused to allow the message to go through. Medical assistance was eventually obtained but it was too late for Allen. His loss was greatly mourned by his company and one of his companions described him “He was one of our best, always so active, always so reliable as a man and as a Volunteer. His friends and confidants were legion, and he was beloved by all the members of the Company.” Aged twenty nine Thomas died in Richmond Hospital and his remains was interred in Glasnevin cemetery.

Early in 1917 his aunt sought permission from the British military authorities to exhume the body for re-burial in Longwood. She was required to sign an undertaking that there would be no military display at the funeral. The body was taken to St. Joseph’s Church, Berkeley Road, and on 6th January the funeral left for the train journey home. It is said that his father who was in the USA paid for his body to be reburied in Longwood. Allen’s body was returned to Longwood in a lead casket for burial at Kilglass cemetery, just outside the village. Some reports say that there was a public display of anger at the re-burial while other reports say it passed off quietly.

Later a local committee was formed to erect a suitable marker for his grave. Tommy Kelly, an old IRA Volunteer, from Kilcock, Co, Kildare carved the magnificent Celtic cross which stands over the grave. Kelly was not a stone mason and this was the only headstone that he ever made. Jim Riley, a Longwood Volunteer in the old IRA, provided the transport, a horse and cart to bring the headstone to the grave.

Thomas Allen’s Gravestone, Kilglass, Longwood

An annual commemoration was held at Kilglass on Easter Monday until 1934 and then there was a break until 1959. Members of the Old IRA, FCA and GAA took part in the ceremonies in the 1980s. In 1990 the Celtic cross was attacked by vandals and broken into pieces but the grave was refurbished in 2004 by Meath Commemoration Committee.

Thomas Allen was survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter. One of his sons, John, lived in Dublin where he worked as a chemist and another son emigrated to the US. Another son moved to Manchester. Allen’s uncle was James Quinn of Hill of Down while his aunt, Kate Allen, lived at Inan, Longwood. His wife, Margaret Allen, died in 1953 and is buried in Kilglass cemetery, having survived her husband by nearly fifty years.

In 1920 Mullingar Urban Council re-named Gas (or Spoutwell) Lane to Thomas Allen Road in honour of the 1916 hero.

Éamonn Duggan

Eamonn Duggan

Éamonn Duggan is often said to have been born in Longwood but this is incorrect. Part of his early years were certainly spent there and he had strong local connections particularly to the Giles family. Edward John, know later as Éamonn, Duggan was born on 2nd March 1878 at Richill, Co. Armagh and baptised two days later. His father, William, a policeman was a native of Wicklow and stationed at Longwood, Co. Meath. His mother was Margaret Dunne who married William at Longwood on 19th October 1874. In 1875 William was despatched to Armagh as he could not serve in a county from which his wife came. Margaret’s father was John Dunne, a shopkeeper and William’s father was Edward Duggan, a policeman. The couple’s second son, Éamonn’s brother, William, was born in Longwood in 1879. Éamonn’s father, William, took his pension in 1893 after 30 years and 3 months service.

In 1911 Edmond John Duggan was living with his parents on St. Brigid’s Road Upper in Drumcondra. His siblings, William, Margaret and James, were also living there. There were six children born but only four survived and they were all living at the family home in 1911.

Duggan was educated locally before beginning work as a law clerk. He qualified as a solicitor in 1914 and began to practise at 66 Dame Street, Dublin. In 1915 he took a case for tenants of the Swifte estate near Longwood, in order to get their rights to their lands recognised.

In 1914 Duggan joined the First Dublin battalion of the Irish Volunteers as a private. In 1915 he was appointed Adjutant of the 1st Battalion and received his first commission as an officer in the Volunteers. He became a close personal friend of Edward Daly, the commandant of the Battalion. His work as Adjutant brought him into contact with Eamon de Valera and Thomas McDonagh. 

Joe Giles of Longwood was Duggan’s godson. Duggan visited the Giles home on Easter Sunday 1916, the night before the Rising, and as he departed handed his godson a £1 note, a huge sum at the time.

Duggan was attached to Commandant Daly and so was serving in the North Dublin Union in the initial days of the Rising and then in Father Matthew Hall. Duggan supervised the prisoners including seven British officers. One of the officers, Colonel Brereton, later said that Duggan and the other volunteer officers were “high-minded educated gentlemen, incapable of acts of brutality.” One of the prisoners taken there was Lord Dunsany who as he was wounded was transferred to a Dublin hospital for treatment. Duggan said the Volunteers were treated like princes by the nuns in the neighbouring convent.

Duggan was at the Four Courts when fellow Longwood native, Thomas Allen, was shot. Duggan attempted to get medical assistance from the Richmond hospital but a British officer in charge of the telephone exchange refused to allow the message to go through. Medical assistance was obtained but it was too late for Allen.

In Duggan’s area the Volunteers held their own and suffered few causalities with the heaviest fighting occurring on Friday night and Saturday morning. From 9.00 am Saturday there was a lull in the fighting and in the afternoon Daly received news that a British officer wished to see him. Accompanied by Duggan Daly was informed of the surrender of the GPO. The men under Daly were reluctant to surrender but obeyed orders. The men formed up with their officers at their head and marched to O’Connell Street and then to the front of the Rotunda Hospital. On Sunday morning they were marched to Richmond Barracks.

Duggan’s fiancée, May Kavanagh, was active in Cumann na mBan in the Colmcille Branch and served during 1916 from 23rd April to Saturday 29th April in the Fr. Mathew Hall, Church Street area undertaking first aid and kitchen duties under the command of Edward Daly. Born in 1892 May was a great support to her fiancée and later husband in his activities.

The trials began on Monday evening; Duggan together with Joe McGuinness and Pierce Beasley was sentenced to three years penal servitude. After trial the three prisoners were sent to Kilmainham Jail where they spent two days. They heard the shots from the yards of the execution of the leaders of the Rising. The prisoners were then sent to Mountjoy for a week before being dispatched to Portland Prison where they began their punishment in silence. In December 1916 Duggan was transferred to Lewes where the prison regime was relaxed and here Duggan discovered that de Valera had not been executed. With de Valera, Duggan began an organised attempt to break down the prison regime and fight the authorities.

In early 1917 a campaign to be recognised as prisoners of war began. Duggan was removed to Maidstone Gaol where he was put to work with the ordinary criminals. Duggan refused. He went on hunger strike and on the third day the authorities surrendered. In June 1917 the British released the prisoners and Duggan returned to Dublin. He resumed his work as a solicitor and one of his first cases he acted at was the inquest for the next of kin of his friend and comrade, Thomas Ashe.

In the Autumn of 1917 Duggan was appointed as Director of Intelligence for the IRA and when the role became full-time in January 1919 Michael Collins took over the position. Duggan remained a senior officer in that section.

Duggan campaigned for the Sinn Féin candidate Eamon de Valera in the Clare by election. He wrote at the time “The enthusiasm on our side is terrific and the result is a foregone conclusion”. Duggan addressed an aeriocht at Newcastle, Mullagh in September 1917 and gave an address on Sinn Féin policy. In February 1918 a branch of Sinn Féin was established in Longwood by Duggan and others.

On St. Patrick’s Day 1918 Duggan addressed a major meeting in Kells on the case for a sovereign independent state. He said “Ireland is a distinct nation, whose just right is sovereign independence. This right has been asserted in every generation, has never been surrendered and has never been allowed to lapse.” Also speaking at the Kells meeting was John Sweetman.

Eamon de Valera nominated Duggan as his substitute on the executive of the Irish Volunteers while de Valera was in prison from May 1918 to February 1919 and from June 1919 to November 1920 while de Valera was in America.

In September 1918 Edmund J. Duggan was selected to stand for Sinn Féin in the South Meath constituency. Duggan met the editor of the Meath Chronicle ahead of an article on his candidacy. Duggan met the newly reformed Sinn Féin club in Trim, which had one hundred members in attendance. 

In November 1918 Duggan addressed a meeting at Summerhill. He said “We are living at a time of great possibilities for Ireland as well as for all small nations… President Wilson has said that there must be no Government without the consent of the governed and I ask you is Ireland governed by the consent of the people? … Our claim to nationhood is a good one…” At the meeting in Longwood Duggan was introduced by the parish priest, Fr. Rooney, while the meeting was chaired by Laurence Giles. Duggan held his election rally in Trim.

After the voting was over in Trim two Volunteers were designated to guard the ballot boxes but the authorities objected. Following a discussion with the Police Inspector Duggan agreed to the withdrawal of the Volunteer guards. The counting of votes took place in the Courthouse, Trim. At six o’clock Duggan was announced as the new M.P. for South Meath with a majority of 3691. Duggan addressed the crowd from the steps of the courthouse and congratulated South Meath on taking its stand that day with the rest of Ireland in demanding its right to independence. Duggan and his election agent were carried shoulder high first to the Sinn Féin headquarters and then to the Central Hotel. In Ballivor the result was greeted with a torchlight procession to a large bonfire at Shanco hill. On Sunday night a victory ceili was held in the Town Hall, Trim. At the first meeting of the Dáil on 21 January 1919 Duggan read the declaration of independence in English.

Members of the First Dáil (1919)

Duggan at First Dail  1919 He is 6th from left standing

In late 1920 during the night of the “roundups” where the British authorities arrested nationalist leaders and sent them to English prisons, Duggan and Michael Collins were in Vaughan’s Hotel in Parnell Square. They were detained by a Belgian priest singing a number of songs and so were saved from arrest. Collins left the hotel on his bicycle. As Duggan walked home to Drumcondra, Collins came after him and informed him of the raids taking place that night. Collins said that the house where he had been staying was surrounded and suggested that they both go to watch proceedings. Duggan questioned the wisdom of such an action as Collins might be recognised by the authorities. Duggan took all of Collin’s papers in case he was caught and Collins spent the night in the house of Seán McGarry, who had already been arrested that night. Collins said he would be safe there as the Black and Tans were unlikely to raid the same house twice in the one night.

May Kavanagh  married Eamonn Duggan on 20th October 1920. Collins wrote the couple a note “with every good wish for your happiness and contentment.”

In November 1920 Duggan was arrested and taken to the Castle and interrogated for three hours and Captain Hardy, head of the “Murder gang” threatened to murder him. His office was cleared by the military and his solicitor’s practice destroyed. He was then lodged in Mountjoy where he remained until the Truce. During this period Duggan’s wife, May, was given special daily visits to carry out his legal business but she was able to take secret  messages in and out daily under cover of taking shorthand notes. She also carried notes for Arthur Griffith who was also in Mountjoy at the time. While imprisoned Alfred Cope, a British civil servant, visited them and discussed the possibility of a truce.

For the May 1921 election Duggan remained in jail. Duggan was moved to Brixton jail which enabled him to instruct T.M. Healy in an appeal case before the House of Lords. While at Brixton Duggan occasionally dined at the House of Commons and encouraged peace talks. Duggan was released along with Arthur Griffith and Eoin McNeill at the end of June. Together with Robert Barton he was involved in making the final arrangement for the truce. He and Barton met General Macready at Parkgate and succeeded in getting his approval to the nationalist terms. The following day Barton and Duggan laid down to General Tudor, head of the Auxiliaries and the Black and Tans how his forces were to behave during the Truce.  Duggan accompanied de Valera to London for talks with the British Prime Minister, Llyod George, in July.

In September 1921 an aeriocht was held at Athboy at which Michael Collins and Eamonn Duggan were due to deliver addresses but as the Dáil was discussing Anglo-Irish arrangements they both had to cancel.

Duggan and Anglo-Irish Treaty Negotiation Team

In October 1921 Duggan was appointed as a member of the delegation, despatched by de Valera to London to negotiate a treaty between Ireland and Britain. After months of negotiation Griffith was first to agree to sign then Collins and Duggan. Duggan’s appeal to another delegate, Robert Barton, resulted in him signing the treaty. Duggan signed the Treaty at the delegation’s lodgings at 22 Hans Place in the early hours of 6 December 1921. Duggan took the boat to Dun Laoighre with a copy of the treaty. The British wanted a second copy of the signed treaty and Duggan had gone to Dublin so Dan McCarthy had a copy of a concert programme signed by Duggan and the signature was removed from the card and added to the copy of the treaty. This led to claims in later years that Duggan had not signed the treaty and therefore it was not binding on the Irish people. Duggan rushed to Dublin city centre where he handed the copy to Eamon de Valera who was attending a function at the Mansion House. De Valera showed no interest in the document and Duggan asked him to read it as it was about to be published.   Meath County Council held a special meeting to call on the Dáil to ratify the Treaty. Vice–Chairman, Martin O’Dwyer, praised Duggan for his role and the way he acted through trying and difficult negotiations.

Anglo-Irish Treaty with Duggan’s signature

Anglo-Irish Treaty with Duggan’s signature stuck on

Speaking of the Treaty in Trim in 1923 Duggan said “Mr. de Valera told us the day we were appointed that we had a duty to perform that with an army and a navy behind us we would find almost impossible to perform. After an anxious two months in London, with the fate of this country in our hands, the fate of every man, woman and child in this country now and for generations in our hands the fateful night of December 6th came and we had to say yes or no. .. We had to consider that the force available in this country had brought us to a certain point and was not able to carry further.  We knew that – General Collins knew it – I don’t know if the British Government knew it. We considered where we were going. Were we to throw away all that we had secured? What prospect was there of getting more? What was the alternative? I think you all know what the alternative was. I know what the Irish people would have said to us, and what you would have said to me if we said “no” that night. There would not be much interruption at a meeting in Trim today if the Black and Tans were back. The Treaty was signed and ratified by the elected representatives of the people.” With regard to the national territory in 1924 Duggan said that “The plenipotentiaries, British and Irish, first endeavoured to work out a scheme for the unification of Ireland, involving however, the continuance of self-government in the North-East. The representatives of North Ireland, however when invited by the British Government, refused point blank to enter into discussions unless the proposal was previously withdrawn.” In March 1922 Duggan and Griffith met Sir James Craig, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland to discuss employment relief for Catholics, re-organisation of police and the cessation of IRA activity in Northern Ireland.

Duggan and Michael Collins at Dublin Castle Handover

Duggan accompanied Collins and Kevin O’Higgins to the handover of Dublin Castle in January 1922. Duggan served as Minister of Home Affairs in the Provisional government from January to September 1922. In the June 1922 election Eamonn Duggan, 15 Upper Leeson Street, Dublin, was selected as a candidate in the Louth-Meath constituency. He was elected on the first count as was the Labour candidate, Cathal O’Shannon. Duggan was made minister without portfolio.

In the 1923 election Duggan headed the poll in Meath with a large majority. In October 1923 Duggan entertained his election workers at a function in the Central Hotel, Trim. At the 1923 monster meeting in Trim Square Duggan said “We must look forward to the future and not back to the past.” His speech was interrupted by hecklers on a regular basis.

Many of his queries in his work as a TD related to the breaking up of estates and re-distribution of lands under the Land Commission and sorting out pensions for men who had served in the National Army.

In May 1926 Duggan was appointed as secretary to the Minister for Finance. Following the 1927 election Duggan was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Executive Council and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence. He also carried out the duties of Chief Whip. He again topped the poll in Meath. 

In 1933 he felt he could not fight another election and was not a candidate. Captain Patrick Giles of Longwood became his successor as T.D. for Meath. Shortly afterwards Duggan became a member of the Senate, a post he held until 1936 when it was dissolved. He described his 1916 experiences on a radio programme broadcast in April 1936.

Duggan was involved in local politics in Dun Laoighre and he was elected the first chairman of the borough council in 1936, a few weeks before his death. In June 1936 he was addressing a meeting of Fine Gael local election candidates when he collapsed and he died shortly afterwards. His wife and son survived him. May died 25th October 1970.

Duggan’s Grave Glasnevin

He was interred in Glasnevin cemetery and a wooden cross was recently erected over his grave. A modern industrial estate in Trim was named the Eamonn Duggan Industrial Estate in his honour.

Bridget Mulvany Died April 27th 1916

Bohermeen 1916-2016 Centenary Commemoration-Sunday April 24th at 5-30 pm at Ardbraccan Cross, unveiling of Commemoration Stone. Everyone is welcome to this historic local occasion.
Local tragedy of 1916 recalled and remembered– Bridget Mulvany Died April 27th 1916 age 18.

The following tragedy of the Easter Rising is one which was almost totally unknown to many in the Parish of Bohermeen for 100 years outside the Mulvany and extended family , through the course of time Bridget was recorded as Mulranney instead of Mulvany and contact has been made with Glasnevin Trust and in time Bridget’s name will be added to the 1916 Remembrance wall which contains the names of all those who died during the course of the Rising. Bridget will be remembered on Sunday evening at Ardbraccan cross and members of the Mulvany family will join hundreds of parishioners and many more from far and wide .

Remembering the 1916 Rising and all the commemorations in 2016 will strike a very sad and poignant note for one local family this weekend .The Lyrics of the 1980 Bagatelle song Summer in Dublin and the sad death of 18 year old Bridget Mulvany from Scallionstown near Ardbraccan who didn’t get to spend her 18th summer in Dublin reminds us of the fragility of life itself. Bridget daughter of Charles & Margaret Mulvany from Scallionston was tragically killed during the Easter Rising in Dublin when a stray bullet took her life on the morning of Thursday April 27th, on the fourth day of the Rising. Bridget was a servant in the home of Henry Dumbleton , he was Works Manager with the Alliance and Dublin Consumer Gas company ,of Sir Johns Rogerson’s Quay .Bridget was killed through the window of Henry’s house .Even more tragic her employer didn’t know her surname name or her mothers name ,three days later on April 30th Henry wrote the following letter obviously it took time to make contact with her family at a time which was very difficult in the city

Dear Madam
It is with great regret and sympathy I have to inform you that your daughter Bridge was shot by the military on Thursday morning last. This is the first possible occasion that I have been able to communicate with anybody either in or out of the city.
I cannot attempt to adequately express our sorrow which w fell except to say that we looked upon the dear girl as one of our own. We had no control over her removal from the house as the authorities took the matter in hands at once however we would be obliged if you can come to Dublin at the earliest moment when the trouble is over & you can do so with safety, at the present it is not safe. It may be of some consolation to you to know that she was shot by accident & in my house, also that she passed away peacefully & without knowing pain. I’ll close this letter of sorrowful tidings with the knowledge that God has keeping of a good girl’s soul.
Yours in sorrow,H.Dumbleton45, Sir John’s Quay

Brothers in Arms

Luke and Patrick Bradley from Fordstown

Patrick Bradley was born in 1893, the son of Myles and Anne Bradley, nee Henry at Newtowngirley, Fordstown. His brother, Luke, was born in 1894. Myles was a herd or shepherd and he married Anne Henry in Bohermeen in 1889. In 1911 Patrick aged 18 was working as an agricultural labourer as was his brother, Luke aged 16.

Luke Bradley

Luke attended the local school until he was twelve and then he worked for a local farmer at a rate of four shillings a week. After working for different farmers for eight years his wages had risen to ten shillings a week. 

On the 15th August 1912, which was a holiday, he took an excursion train to Dublin and decided to stay in the city. He found work at Kingsbridge railway station at twice the wages he was on previously. He and his brother lived at 1 St Mary’s Terrace, Sarsfield Road, Inchicore. He became a member of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union whose secretary was Michael Mallin.

Luke joined the Citizen Army and attended Liberty Hall for drills and parades on Sundays. Luke later said that the Citizen Army were “definitely mad revolutionaries.” Luke described James Larkin as “a fiery devil” and James Connolly as “a very cool-headed individual who won a lot for the dockers without bring them out on strike.” Arms were gradually acquired and Luke practised with a .22 in a big hall in the building. Soldiers on leave lost rifles when people obliged them by holding the guns while they went into the pub for a drink.

Luke was mobilised on Easter Sunday and made his way to Stephen’s Green where the Citizen Army assembled. Luke later recalled that the Citizen Army thought they were going to win – “And when you come to think of it. Isn’t that the only way for young people to go out and fight?” There was a route march to Beresford Place and Liberty Hall where they were addressed by James Connolly. They stayed overnight in Liberty Hall. The following morning five hundred men assembled including some Volunteers. Each man was given a loaf, a pound of bully beef and 50 rounds of ammunition.  Later he was given four grenades which comprised of quart cans filled with scrap. Luke said “You lit the fuse, counted three and threw the can out the window.” Luke was attached to a section of twenty men who were under the command of Michael Mallin. The section were marched to Trinity College and then split into two groups – one under Lieutenant Seán Connolly proceeded to Dublin Castle while Luke and his group under Mallin went by Grafton Street to Stephen’s Green. Luke and another man took up an outpost position in one corner of the Green. While waiting for hostilities to begin Luke visited a local public house where he spent the sixpence he had on drinks for himself and his friends. They had been there about an hour when the sound of shooting started all over the city. Snipers shot at the two men from behind chimney stacks of the buildings around the Green. Luke had ran out of ammunition by Wednesday lunchtime. Luke and his companion were ordered by Mallin to retreat to Little’s public house on the corner. Arriving there they found four other Citizen Army members. The British began to blast the building with machine gunfire. Cut off from the forces who retreated to the College of Surgeons Luke retreated to Jacob’s factory. The building was full of men under the command of Major McBride. The British soldiers surrounding the building took occasional pot shots at the windows. While the shells were exploding and the sound of rifle fire filled the air the Citizen Army men and the Volunteers played tennis when not on duty at the windows. A raiding party was sent out to bring back food.  This situation continued until Sunday morning when a truce was ordered at 11.00 a.m.

Thomas McDonagh and a priest read the terms of surrender. The priest advised anyone with civilian clothes to escape if possible. Luke and another man got though a window. The other man who was from Dublin had friends nearby where a civilian suit was produced and Luke changed into it. He came down South Circular road got his bicycle, “ a damn shook yoke,” and got back to Inchicore before the evening curfew. The following morning Luke set off at 5.00 a.m. for Fordstown via Lucan, Leixlip, Maynooth, Kilcock, Trim and Athboy.  He took a drink at Kilcock at the public house of a Mr. Buckley, whose brother was in charge of the Maynooth Volunteers, and also stopped at his aunts for a meal.

After three months unemployment Luke secured a job with a local farmer and stayed there for the next twenty eight years. In January 1918 Luke helped to form a company of Volunteers at Fordstown and was appointed captain. The company drilled regularly throughout the year. At the end of the year the company canvassed for the Sinn Féin candidate, Liam Mellows, who was elected with a good majority. In 1919 the company were ordered to trench roads and demolish bridges which were carried out.

In the summer of 1920 the company decided to ambush the Black and Tans at Girley chapel but the patrol failed to turn up. Shortly afterwards Luke and a few members of the company help up the local postman. After censoring some letters the postbag was returned to the Post Office at Fordstown. The company were mobilised for an attack on Athboy RIC Barracks but this was called off.

After the Truce Luke attended a training camp which was established at Dunboyne  and then later at the Workhouse in Delvin. He served in the National Army until early 1923. He was attacked and wounded near Athboy in May 1923, presumably by the Anti-Treaty forces. Luke withdrew from active participation in politics and lived at Fordstown until his death in 1976. He was the herd on the Brady and subsequently Moorhead estate at Newtowngirley for many years.

Patrick Bradley

Patrick lived with his brother, Luke, in 1 St Mary’s Terrace, Sarsfield Road, Inchicore. He worked at Kingsbridge railway station for the Great Southern Railway. Patrick joined the Citizen Army and later recalled a visit by the police to Liberty Hall to seize a “seditious” publication. Suddenly James Connolly appeared with a gun in his hand and ordered” Drop those or I’ll drop you.” A moment later Countess Markievicz appeared with her gun in her hand and the police left empty handed. Patrick was mobilised on Saturday evening and spent Easter Sunday night in Liberty Hall before marching out on Monday to Stephens Green. The group were under attack from the British troops stationed at the Shelbourne Hotel.

Patrick Bradley nearly shot Countess Markievicz and Commandant Michael Mallin after they approached his position at night. As he prepared to fire someone shouted at him to lower his rifle. On Wednesday the rebels retreated to the College of Surgeons. Patrick had several narrow escapes from bullets which shattered the glass in the windows at which he was on duty. Patrick Bradley was arrested 28th April 1916 and interned in Knutsford and Frongoch until the 23rd December 1916.  He lost his job as a result of taking part in the Rising. After his release he went to work in Oldcastle and reluctantly joined the local Volunteer unit after much persuasion. This seems to have been for a short period only as he was in the Volunteers in Dublin in 1918. In December 1918 Patrick went to Laois to seek work. He took an Anti-Treaty side in the split – the opposite side to his brother, Luke. He lived in Newport, County Tipperary until his death in 1972.

Both Bradley brothers were present on Easter Sunday and Monday in Dublin during the 1966 commemoration.

 Patrick Lynch

Patrick Lynch

Patrick Lynch of Johnsbrook, Fordstown, fought in the 1916 Rising. In 1916 he was living at 14 Nelson Street, Dublin, but later settled in Thomas Street where he was a merchant.

Patrick was born in 1895, the son of Patrick and Catherine Lynch of Girley. Patrick’s father, Patrick Lynch married Catherine Casey in Carnaross in 1878 and they had four sons and four daughters: James, Joseph, Matthew, Philip, Mary, Ellie, Elizabeth and Catherine. Mary, was born in Carnaross in 1878, the family then moved to Johnsbrook, Matthew was born in Girley parish in 1882, Elizabeth in Girley 1888 and Catherine in Girley 1890. Philip was born in Dublin city. In 1901 and 1911 the family lived at Johnsbrook. The father, Patrick, was a herd and steward.

Patrick Lynch, the son, joined the Irish Volunteers at its inception. Lynch was mobilised on Easter Sunday 1916 but was sent home that evening. On Monday morning he was making his way to Fairyhouse Races when he met a colleague, Barney Mellows, at the Parnell monument. He was told the Rising was on and Lynch reported to Liberty Hall. He served under James Connolly in the GPO and was despatched to Annesley Bridge for a number of days. He returned to the GPO and then surrendered in Moore Street. On 30th April he was dispatched with 288 other prisoners from Richmond Barracks to Stafford Detention Barracks. From there he was sent to Frongoch Internment Camp.

Lynch was an armed guard at the funeral of Thomas Ashe in 1917. During the peace celebrations following the 1918 armistice finishing World War 1 Lynch disrupted celebrations, breaking cameras. During the 1918 General Election Lynch was an armed guard preventing police interference. During 1919 Lynch along with C Company, 2nd Battalion of the Dublin Brigade, made raids for arms at Clanbrassil Street, Seafield Road, Palmerston Park and Grace Park. Lynch also took part in the attempted rescue of Laurence Ginnell from Mountjoy Prison. In 1920 under the command of Oscar Traynor Lynch and C. Company seized the mail of Lord French. Arms were seized from a number of different locations.  Lynch took part in the destruction of Raheny RIC Barracks and also the Income Tax Office on Beresford Place.

During 1921 he and his company attempted to bait the Black and Tans into a trap at the Great Northern Railway Bridge. An ambush on enemy forces was made on Cavendish Row with a number of enemy causalities. One of the Volunteers, McIvor, was wounded and taken prisoner but later rescued from Jervis Street Hospital.

During the Truce period Lynch took part in the seizure and destruction of boycotted goods.

At the outbreak of the Civil War Lynch and the rest of C Company opposed the Treaty and occupied parts of Marlboro and Parnell Streets. He took part in the fighting in O’Connell Street. The group attacked Amiens Street Post Office and seized arms.  Lynch was arrested on 8th December 1922. Interned in Newbridge, Lynch took part in the hunger strike for twenty eight days. Between 14th October and 23rd November 1923 hundreds of Anti-Treaty prisoners interned by the Irish Free State government went on hunger-strike. On 20th November Denis Barry died after 34 days on strike and on 22nd November Andrew Sullivan died after 40 days on strike. The IRA command ordered an end to the strikes on 23rd November. Lynch was released in December 1923.

Lynch’s grave Martry

Patrick Lynch died 2nd June 1948 and was buried in Martry graveyard. At the time of death he owned 29 and 144 Thomas Street. His brother, Dr. James Lynch, is also remembered on the memorial but is buried in Glasnevin. James Lynch was elected to the Dáil in 1932 for Fianna Fáil to represent South Dublin.  He did not contest the 1937 Dáil election but was elected again in 1938 and served until 1948. Defeated in the 1948 and 1951 Dáil Elections he stood for the Senate where he served until his death in 1954. His wife, Celia Lynch, was T.D. for Dublin South–Central from 1954 to 1977. Patrick’s nephew, Christopher, was a dentist in Trim.

Patrick Dennany

Gravestone of Patrick Dennany Donore Graveyard

Patrick Dennany

Patrick Dennany, a native of Tuberfinn, Donore, was a member of the GPO garrison during 1916. His grandfather was a croppy who fought on the Hill of Tara. Patrick was the son of James Dennany, farm labourer, and Catherine (nee Kirk) of Donore. He had sisters Agnes, Catherine and Mary. Born in 1877 he had moved to Dublin by 1901 where he was staying with his sister, Mary, and her husband, William Dempsey, at 9a Buckingham Terrace, off Summerhill Place, Dublin. Dennany worked as a bread van driver.

Dennany joined the Volunteers in January 1914 and served with C Company, II Battalion, in the GPO under James Connolly from 23rd to 29th April 1916. His company had been ordered to Jacob’s Barracks but due to the faulty mobilisation Dennany was not notified and instead he reported to the GPO at about 12.30 on Easter Monday. He served outpost duty for most of the week.

He was imprisoned in Richmond Barracks until 30 April when he was transferred to Stafford Gaol and from there to Frongoch Camp. He was freed on Christmas Eve 1916. Dennany carried out election work during 1917 and attended the funeral of Thomas Ashe. Dennany was a friend of Patrick Lynch, another Meath man who fought in 1916. In February 1918 Dennany was in charge of a squad preventing the export of pigs at Sherard Street, Dublin.

Dennany returned to Donore in 1940 and was a member of the Local Security Force in Drogheda during World War II. A lifelong member of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Society he was President of Donore GAA and Camogie Society and also involved in the Donore Dramatic Society. He was a founder member of the Association of Easter Week Men. Dennany died at his residence at Tubberfinn, Donore on 13 March 1952 and was buried in Donore Graveyard. Following his death his sister discovered his 1916 Medal and donated it to the O’Connell Secondary School, North Richmond Street, Dublin.

Carravagio and Killeen

Percival Samuel Lea-Wilson was born in 1887, in Kensington, London, son of Samuel Henry Wilson, or Lea-Wilson. Percival Lea-Wilson was born to a solidly middle class household, his grandfather, Samuel Wilson, had been Lord Mayor of London in 1838 and his father was a stockbroker. The family received a serious setback in 1894 when Percival was seven when his father killed in a carriage accident. His mother was a sister of the architect, Charles Fitzroy Doll, who designed the dining-room of the Titanic.  Percival was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford where he studied history. He joined the RIC in 1910, initially being stationed in Galway. He was promoted to District Inspector in 1911, serving first in  Charleville, Co. Cork and from there he was transferred to Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath.

( Standing) –  Lient. C.P. Martin, R.I. Regiment : Capt. C. O’Beirne, R.I. Rifles :Capt. G.R.E. Foley, R.I. Regiment : Capt. P. Lea – Wilson, R.I. Regiment.

( Seated ) – Major W. Blayney, R.D.F. : Major P.A. Holmes, R.I. Regiment. : and Major W.S.B. Leatham, R.I. Rifles.

While in Charleville Lea-Wilson fell in love with Marie (“Monica”) Ryan, the daughter of a local Catholic solicitor, who was against the friendship.  After being posted to Dunshaughlin he wrote her letters expressing his love and grumbling about his conditions.  One of his letters, written from the Fingall Arms Hotel, Dunshaughlin, on 13 October 1913 – reads:   This place is horrid, dirty, miserable… I am very worried about you. Your loving Val.”  

Lea-Wilson married Marie on 27th January 1914 at Charleville. Old people described it as the grandest wedding they ever saw. The local D.I., Mr Baldwin, was in charge of a party of police who formed an arch of swords from the Church door to the carriages. The jubilation was kept up at the principal hotel throughout the evening, the health of the newly married couple being drunk many times over. Constables Daughton and O’Shea added to the enjoyment by singing the latest popular songs, and Constable Neylan played the piano in first-rate style.

The Lea-Wilsons became residents of the Glebe House in Killeen, Dunsany. Lea-Wilson played cricket with the local gentlemen at Dunsany Castle. However in August 1914 all future cricket fixtures were cancelled due to the outbreak of the war.

At the outbreak of the war Lea-Wilson joined the Royal Irish Regiment as a Captain. Sent to France as a musketry instructor he served on the Western Front where he was seriously wounded. According to the RIC Magazine he returned to Dublin early in 1916 and re-joined the police in March 1916.

Lea-Wilson was in Dublin in time for the 1916 Easter rising and saw the Rising as a ‘monstrous betrayal’ of the empire. After the surrender of the rebels Lea-Wilson was placed in command over 250 captives from the GPO and Four Courts Battalion at the front of the Rotunda.Lea-Wilson forced Tom Clarke to strip naked on the steps of the hospital in front of the other prisoners and the female nursing staff. He then loudly jeered “That old bastard is Commander-in-Chief. He keeps a tobacco shop across the Street. Nice general for your f***ing army.” According to witnesses who saw him mistreat the rebels he was intoxicated at time.

Volunteer Liam Tobin described his experience that Saturday night at the Rotunda Green. ‘In charge of the enemy forces there was a Captain Lea-Wilson, who was dressed in the usual military uniform, but wore a smoking cap with a fancy tassel hanging out of it. He kept walking round and round, stopping now and again to speak to his soldiers, saying whom do you consider worst, the Boshes or the Sinn Feiners?’ ‘And of course they always answered that we were worst. With the number of us lying in the small area of grass we were cramped for space, and it was damp and uncomfortable so that I got a bad cramp in my legs. As Lea-Wilson was passing, Piaras Beaslai said to him “There’s a young fellow here who is not well” explaining what was wrong and asking if I could stand up. Lea-Wilson said “no let the so-and-so stay where he is”.

‘I remember that evening that those of us who wanted to relieve ourselves had to do it lying on the grass alongside our comrades. There was nowhere to go and we had to use the place where we lay. As well as I can remember a number of our men, including Tom Clarke were, during that time, brought to the steps of the Rotunda hospital and were searched. Some people say they were stripped in the process and if my memory is reliable at all it is my impression that this did happen. Lea-Wilson was responsible for having them stripped as he was responsible for what ever ill treatment was received there. I know that when he refused to allow me to stand up I looked at him and I registered a vow to myself that I would deal with him at some time in the future.”

In 1917 Lea-Wilson was appointed District Inspector with the RIC in Gorey. On the morning of 15 June 1920 Lea-Wilson left the house dressed in civilian clothes and walked to the RIC barracks in the town. After a few minutes he left the barracks, stopped at the station to buy a newspaper and then walked on towards home. Five armed IRA men were waiting for him on the direct orders of Michael Collins; Frank Thornton, Liam Tobin, Jack Whelan, Joe McMahon, and Michael McGrath. A sixth man, Michael Sinnott, waited close by in a stolen car. Lea-Wilson was initially floored by two bullets but he got up and tried to run away. Further shots were fired, some hitting him, some hitting a wall behind him but the wounded man only managed to stumble 15 yards before collapsing and dying. Some accounts say a final coup de grace was administered to his head to make sure he really was dead. The car and its five occupants fled the scene towards Ballycanew.

His remains were interred in Putney Vale Cemetery, London, where his father was buried. It has a bronze plaque and it mentions his assassination in Gorey, Co Wexford. Before his widow left Gorey, she commissioned renowned stained glass artist Harry Clarke to create a window in Christ Church in her late husband’s memory.

After his death Marie started a new life, went to study medicine at TCD, becoming a doctor in Dublin. She graduated in 1928 at the age of 41 in 1928, one of only three women in her class. She joined the staff of Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital and became a well-known paediatrician. She lived and practiced in Dublin as a paediatrician for the rest of her life, dying in 1971 at the age of 84. She was buried in Deansgrange Cemetery.

Mrs. Lea Wilson

In her grief she turned to the church for consolation and she found the support provided by a Jesuit priest, Father Finlay of the Leeson Street Jesuit Community particularly comforting. The year following Percival’s murder whilst she was on a trip to Edinburgh Marie had bought a large sixteenth century oil painting that had been hanging in a private home in the city for over a hundred years. The subject probably appealed to her; The Taking Of Christ shows the moment Judas kisses Christ to identify him to the Roman legionnaires waiting to take him prisoner. Marie brought the painting home to Ireland, and in 1924 she sent it to cabinetmakers and furniture restorers James Hicks in Dublin’s Lower Pembroke Street for repairs, possibly to the frame.  In 1934 Marie probably tired of contemplating its dark themes of death, deceit and betrayal and decided to get rid of it. She presented it to Father Finlay and the Jesuits who hung it in the Leeson Street dining room where it stayed for the next 60 years, literally as part of the furniture, and certainly not the object of especial scrutiny or interest on the part of the masticating clergy. In 1990 Sergio Benedetti a curator and conservator at the National Gallery of Ireland was asked to look at the motley collection of paintings that had been gathered at Leeson Street over the years. There wasn’t much to interest him assemblage of religious images until he was shown Marie Lea-Wilson’s painting. He was told that it was a copy of a Caravaggio by a Dutch disciple of the Italian master but, in his opinion, the picture was simply too good to be a copy. Caravaggio’s original was commissioned by the prolific collector and patron Ciriaco Mattei, a Roman nobleman who died in 1614. The painting remained in the family’s Roman palazzo until the early 1800’s when, down on their luck, they sold it to William Hamilton Nisbet, an obscure British politician who displayed it in his Edinburgh home. This is a large picture, 1.3 by 1.7 metres, and perhaps it is the size that makes it too much trouble to move once it has been hung. It had stayed on the Mattei’s wall for two hundred years and it hung undisturbed in Edinburgh for almost 120 before it was briefly in the possession of Marie Lea-Wilson. The Jesuit’s too showed little inclination to move the massive masterpiece once it had been nailed up until Benedetti had it cleaned and authenticated as the long lost Caravaggio masterpiece.

It was later discovered to be the lost Caravaggio masterpiece “The Taking of Christ” which now hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland. It was given to the Irish State on “indefinite loan’ by the Jesuits and unveiled to the public in the National Gallery of Ireland in 1993.

There is a photo of Mrs. Lea-Wilson on horseback taken at the Glebe House, Killeen, in the Poole Photogrpahic Collection in the National Library, Dublin.

Left for Dead – John McEntagart

John McEntagart was born in November 1883, the son of Laurence and Bridget McEntagart. Laurence and Bridget were married in 1876 in Dunsany. They had sixteen children; fourteen of which survived to adulthood: James, Mary Bridget, Philip, Catherine, Anne, John, Michael, Thomas, Eleanor, Elizabeth, Peter, Joseph, Patrick, Edward, Christopher and Margaret.  The family lived at Dunsany in 1901 and had moved to Belper by 1911, Laurence was an agricultural labourer.

By 1901 John Mc Entagart had left school and was a farm labourer. He began working as a grocer’s assistant and moved to Dublin where he became a member of the Gaelic League. In 1910 he moved to Wexford to work for E.P. Foley of North Main Street. He was recruited into the IRB. Mc Entagart joined the Irish Volunteers in 1914 and served under Captain Seán Sinnott as second lieutenant and musketry instructor. In August 1915 he moved to Dublin and re-joined the Volunteers.

On Easter Sunday McEntagart mobilised at Earlsford Terrace but was sent home. On Easter Monday he went to the races at Fairyhouse. When he heard of the Rising he returned to Dublin and made his way to the GPO where Captain O’Reilly let him in.  

British soldiers at the junction of Moore Street and Parnell Street

McEntagart was ordered to take charge of one of the Henry Street windows of the Post Office. He remained at that duty until Thursday when with a number of other Volunteers he went under the command of The O’Rahilly on a raid to the Moore street area. McEntagart saw the O’Rahilly getting shot and took refuge under an old clothes roof in a lane with six others and were isolated from the main group. The men charged a door and took refuge in a house on a lane off Moore Street for the next two days. The men decided to make a run for it, one at a time. In trying to escape Mc Entagart suffered bullet wounds in his left thigh and lost the top of his second finger on his left hand. He tried to cross a gate into a yard but fell back on the pavement where he lay for four hours, bleeding. An ambulance crew picked him up and took him to a public house in Parnell Street and then on to Jervis Street Hospital. In a semi-conscious state he was brought to the mortuary where he remained for fourteen hours. He was taken to a bed and was dangerously ill for five weeks. He spent three months in Jervis Street Hospital and made an escape from the hospital. McEntagart was unfit for work for a period.

Mc Entagart moved around for a number of years securing employment at various establishments and also spending some time unemployed. He married Elizabeth McGoldrick in October 1920. They had one son and three daughters.  He moved to Drogheda in 1926. McEntagart signed the 1966 Roll of Honour. McEntagart died in St. Mary Hospital Drogheda in October 1963 and is buried in Drogheda.

 A heroine ranking with the bravest – Molly Adrien

The Adrien family lived on the borders of Meath and Dublin. William Edward M.D. of Oldtown, Dublin, married Mary Kelly in Curragha in 1836. Mary died in 1853, aged 37 years, and was buried in Crickstown graveyard. Their son, Edward, also a doctor and surgeon, married Mary Catherine McCullagh of D’Olier Street, Dublin, in 1870.  Three of their children, William, Edward and Margaret died young and were buried in Clonalvey graveyard. Mary Adrien died in 1886 aged 35 years.

Mary Ellen Adrien was born in September 1873, the daughter of Edward and Mary Adrien of Micknanstown House. Micknanstown is in County Meath but its postal address is Balbriggan, Co. Dublin. Her baptism appears in Ardcath parish registers in 1876 which is unusual as her birth was registered three years earlier. She became known as Molly.   Adrien was educated at the Loreto Convent, Balbriggan and at Surbiton in England. She was engaged to Patrick Griffin of Oldtown but he decided to marry her sister and this resulted in a split in the family.

Cumann na mBan cyclists

From at least 1911 Adrien lived at Oldtown, Co. Dublin. She joined Cumann na mBan in November 1915. She became director of the Lusk branch. Shortly before Easter 1916 she received a notice from the central branch of Cumann na mBan a notice with and added postscript which said “We are having a little party on Monday, and probably you will have a similar one.” Adrien was mobilised on Saturday but then the counter order came on Sunday and went home. On Easter Monday she heard from people returning from the races that the Volunteers had taken the Post Office. On Tuesday morning Adrien made her way to Swords where she made contact with an IRB centre. She then joined Thomas Ashe, Richard Hayes and the 5th Battalion at Finglas. Adrien was sent to the GPO where she met a number of Fingal Volunteers whom she knew. Later that day she was sent to make a scouting expedition along the coastline back to Oldtown. By 7.00 p.m. on Tuesday evening she had cycled back to Dr. Hayes’s house at Lusk where she reassured members of the Volunteer families that all was well. On Wednesday she took a message to Thomas Ashe and then returned to the GPO. A number of Volunteers gave her personal documents and monies for her to hide in her house at Oldtown. On Thursday Adrien was again in the GPO and witnessed James Connolly being brought in wounded. She rejoined Ashe and the 5th Battalion. Following the Battle of Ashbourne Adrien rendered first aid to the wounded from both sides. She was described as “a heroine ranking with the bravest.” On Saturday morning Adrien was given a dispatch by Thomas Ashe and she went into Finglas but discovered that there were three lorry loads of soldiers looking for the rebels from Ashbourne.  After the surrender Adrien was not captured. She worked for the National Aid Collection and was part of the Anti-Conscription campaign.  She was presented with a bicycle suitably inscribed in recognition of her work as a dispatch rider.  In 1920 Adrien was elected to the Balrothery Board of Guardians as a Sinn Féin candidate. She found employment as a School Attendance Officer. During the War of Independence Adrien was a scout and dispatch rider. Adrien took the Anti-Treaty side in the Civil War.

In the 1920s she refused a pension as she had sufficient to live on and pensions were for “the boys who were disabled and the dependents of those who fell in the fight.” In the 1926 she lost her job and had only a very small income from the Balrothery Old Age Pension Committee of which she was Secretary. In the 1930s her circumstances were such that she applied for a pension. Mrs. Pearse, mother of Padraig, wrote in support of her claim for a pension describing her as “a most refined lady just eking out a bare existence and using every moment to work for the good of Co. Dublin. She certainly saw and did real military work.” A plaque at Oldtown reads “Mary Adrian and Comrades, Late Old IRA, Fingal brigade, 1916-1921.”

Adrien was secretary of the William Pearse Fianna Fail cumman at Oldtown and in 1930 she was the sole woman nominated as a candidate in the Dublin County Council elections. Adrien died in 1949 and was buried in Crickstown graveyard. Full military honours were rendered at her funeral.

Plaque at Oldtown

Brian na Banban and the Wolfe Tone Annual

Brian O’Higgins

Brian O’Higgins

Brian O’Higgins was born in Kilskyre in 1882. According to tradition his grandfather came from Tyrone to take part in the 1798 rebellion on Tara. Educated at Kilskyre National School, O’Higgins became a draper’s assistant in Clonmellon. A number of his early poems were published in the Meath Chronicle. In 1901 he went to work as a barman in Dublin  where he joined the O’Growney branch of the Gaelic League. Brian O’Higgins disliked Percy French’s portrayal of rural Ireland and answered his writing with satire. O’Higgins also did not like the work of W.B. Yeats.

In 1906 O’Higgins became the Gaelic League organiser in Meath and Cavan and a travelling teacher of Irish, visiting all the major towns in the area. O’Higgins began writing verses in street ballad style, mainly of a political and nationalistic nature, writing under the pen name “Brian na Banban.” One of his works “A Stór Mo Chroi” remains a popular song today. He contributed to a number of local papers and also religious magazines.  In 1915 he founded a satirical magazine Irish Fun which ceased publication after the 1916 rising. O’Higgins was mobilised at 11 o’clock on Monday and then he heard of the Kerry disaster, the capture of Casement. He made his way to the GPO where he was welcomed by Pearse. Due to the state of his health, he did no actual fighting, but helped the others in every way he could. When the GPO caught fire and was in danger of exploding John McLoughlin, John Reid and O’Higgins went into the basement of the GPO where the explosives and grenades had been stored. O’Higgins was imprisoned in Stafford Gaol and Frongoch.

In the 1918 general election O’Higgins stood for West Clare and was elected unopposed. He was in prison when he was elected and so missed the meeting of the first Dáil . In 1919 he was involved in the establishment of Republican Courts in Clare.

O’Higgins opposed the Treaty and was returned unopposed  as T.D. in 1922. Interned in 1923 he went on hunger strike. Almost dying he finished his strike after twenty four days. He was elected on Eamon de Valera’s surplus in 1923. O’Higgins gave the Wolfe Tone oration at Bodenstown in 1924. In 1925 he published “The Soldier’s Story of Easter Week.” Choosing not to join the Fianna Fáil party he remained with Sinn Féin until he was defeated in 1927. In 1926 he and the artist Michael O’Brien established a firm to manufacture greeting cards and other items based on Celtic designs.

O’Higgins resigned from Sinn Féin in 1934. In 1937 O’Higgins with Joseph Clarke founded the Wolfe Tone Weekly which was suppressed and then he began a yearly publication of the Wolfe Tone Annual. O’Higgins provided a story based on a hero or event from Ireland’s past as a counter to the revisionist historians and politicians.  The 1944 issue was banned for its republican views. O’Higgins described Eamon de Valera as “His Majesty’s Prime Minister” and accused him of corrupting Ireland more than the centuries of British rule had. The Wolfe Tone Annual appeared each year until 1962. Copies are available in the local studies section of Meath County Library.

In 1938 O’Higgins and a number of other former anti-Treaty T.D.s signed over the authority of the government of Ireland to the IRA Army Council which then saw itself as the legitimate government.

A regular church goer O’Higgins died during a retreat at St. Anthony’s church, Clontarf on 10 March 1963. The Kilskyre GAA grounds were named in his honour.

Grave of Brian O’Higgins Glasnevin

John O’Brien

John O’Brien was born in Tankardstown, Rathkeeny in 1897, the son of Mathew and Bridget O’Brien. Mathew was a steward and there were three children in the family John, Kate and Matt.

John went to Dublin and became a builder’s apprentice. He resided at 487 North Circular Road. He became a member of the Irish Volunteers in February 1915 and attended O’Donovan Rossa’s funeral. Mobilised on Eastyer Sunday he was sent home only to be re-mobilised at 10.00 a.m. on Monday morning. He was ordered to Fr. Matthew Park and then took part in the occupation of Lambe’s Public House at Ballybough Bridge where he took part in some sniping. On Tuesday the men retreated to the GPO where they remained until the surrender. Deported to Knutsford and Frongoch O’Brien was released in September 1916. He re-joined his Volunteer Company and marched in the funeral of Thomas Ashe. He was active until September 1917 when he went to work in Navan.

He took no part in the War of Independence. He returned to Dublin and became a building contractor. O’Brien died in 1963. 

Was a Brown from Ballivor in the 1916 Rising?

Seosamh de Brún took part in the 1916 rising and fought at Jacob’s Mills. He was a relative of the Brownes of Elmsgrove, Ballivor. According to his family tradition Seosamh inherited £2000 from a rich Meath uncle which he gave to purchase weapons for the Volunteers. Joseph Brown was born 3 July 1883, the son of James and Jane Brown. James was born in County Meath and one of the possible records for his baptism is James Brown baptised in Ballivor in 1862, the son of Thomas and Margaret Brown. The Browns were living in Graham’s Row, Dublin in 1901 and James was a carpenter and his son, Joseph, aged 17, was an apprentice carpenter.  Joseph could speak Irish and English while his mother and the rest of the children could only speak English. By 1911 Joseph is living with his brother, Patrick, at Synott Place and was a qualified carpenter. Joseph joined the Gaelic League and began to use the Irish form for his name, Seosamh de Brún but also continued to use Joseph Browne.

Seosamh was a member of B Company, 2nd Battalion, Dublin Brigade, Irish Volunteers. De Brún reported for duty on Sunday afternoon despite the cancellation of the mobilisation order but was sent home. The following morning he noticed groups of Volunteers in uniform.  He returned home and put on his uniform. De Brún took a tram to the Pillar and then another to Stephen’s Green. About twelve o’clock the orders to fall in and quick march were given. One part of the group under the command of Commandant Thomas McDonagh took over Jacob’s factory. De Brún and the rest of the group took possession of a barrack’s building on nearby Fumbally’s Lane.  The building commanded approaches to the city at Blackpitts. Commandant Thomas Hunter announced that an Irish Republic had been declared and this was met with a loud cheer. Windows were smashed and positions taken. Barricades were erected on the streets. One Volunteer dropped his rifle which fired. Many of the people of the district were hostile as they were British soldiers’ dependents or sympathisers. That evening the men were ordered to move to Jacob’s Factory. Barricades were raised at the windows, doorways and other points of defence. Most of the men were covered in flour. Initially de Brún was posted at the Boiler House. Commandant McDonagh addressed the assembled men giving an account of the Rising, of reinforcements marching towards the city and of German submarines preventing British intervention.  Commandant John McBride also addressed the men.

Jacob’s Biscuit Factory

The next day, Tuesday, was spent erecting barricaders with bags of flour. A squad was delegated to break holes in the walls so that communications could be made to outside the building. Snipers began to shoot at the positions and rifle fire could be heard from the College of Surgeons. A supply store and canteen was organised. Cumann na mBan organised proper food as the repetitious diet of biscuits and sweets became sickening. Jacob’s became a well organised military base. Snipers continued to create danger for the occupiers. On Wednesday the sound of artillery was heard above the sound of the machine gun. A red glare appeared in the sky, the General Post Office was on fire. News of causalities began to reach Jacobs. While erecting a barricade at a gateway leading to Bishop Street de Brún cut a finger which had to be treated by the first aid station.

On Friday morning fighting was taking place at Mount Street Bridge and McDonagh organised a detachment of men to cause a diversion and reinforce the rebels. The group of men including de Brún made it as far as Merrion Square before coming under fire. The order to fall back was given. As they returned they came under heavy fire in Grafton Street but they made their way back to Jacob’s. News of the surrender reached Jacob’s and McDonagh went into conference with his senior officers. McDonagh announced the surrender to the men. Many men wanted to continue the fight while some took the opportunity to escape capture. The majority marched with their officers to the Yard at Dublin Castle and then on the Richmond Barracks. Jacobs was taken over by a detachment of Dublin Fusiliers and by curious coincidence as one brother left the Factory in Volunteer uniform another marched in, in the uniform of the British army. De Brún escaped capture by walking out and then going into hiding. He suffered the flu in 1918 and then married Martha Maguire in 1920 and played no further role in activities. 

De Brún was employed as a carpenter by the Army Corps of Engineers from the 1 November 1940 and retired in 1958. De Brún died in 1968 leaving his widow, Martha. De Brún kept a diary of the events of the week which was published in 2014 by Mercier Press in “The 1916 diaries of an Irish Rebel and a British Soldier” by Mick O’Farrell. It is the only known diary kept by an ordinary Volunteer under fire.

Diary of de Brun

Seán Boylan asked the Duc de Stacpoole to join the Volunteers!

Seán Boylan – the leader of the War of Independence in Meath

Sean Boylan

John (Seán Boylan) was born on 30th August 1882, in Ballinare, Kilcloon parish, Co. Meath. His sister, Mary Jane, was born in 1874 in Curraha. His brother, Joseph, was born at The Reask, Curraha, in 1884. His sister, Eleanor, was born at Edenmore, Dunboyne, in 1886. His brother, Peter Joseph, was born in Dunboyne in 1888. Michael Joseph was born in 1891. Their parents, Edward and Elizabeth, nee Glennon, were married in Skryne on 13 August 1873. In all they had ten children, six of whom survived to adulthood. The family lived at Castlefarm, Dunboyne. Edward Boylan received 17 acres at Castlefarm from the estate of John Wilson about 1901 under the Land Commission. Edward died 12 March 1910.

Seán Boylan was from a nationalistic family with his ancestors taking part in 1798 and the Fenian rebellions. His mother’s brother was sent to Van Diemen’s Land on the convict ship “Success” never to be heard of again. His parents infused a patriotic spirit into him from a very early age. Boylan captained the Dunboyne hurling team to five county championships in 1908, 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1914. Boylan left school at the age of nine to help out on the family farm. He took horse drawn bogies of hay to the Dublin markets and return with loads of coal.

When the Irish Volunteers were established in Dunboyne Boylan and others did not trust the organisation and so he and about thirty others formed an independent Volunteer outfit. Members included Christopher Lynam, James Maguire, John Kelly, Michael Kelly, Peter Byrne, Aidan Crean, Owen King, Peter and Ned Boylan, and Peter, James and Christopher Keating. The group drilled with dummy rifles.  Larry Murtagh from Chapelizod was the instructor and he was also a conduit for information from Dublin organisers.

At the time of the split most of Dunboyne’s Volunteers took the side of Redmond while the rest joined the independent group. This group then became the Irish Volunteers, Dunboyne Company. Boylan was appointed Captain by Padraig Pearse. Boylan was a member of the General Council from 1915 and attended meetings regularly at Headquarters at 2 Dawson Street, Dublin. The council consisted of Eoin McNeill, Pearse, Plunkett, McDonagh, Ceannt, Seán McDermott, Bulmer Hobson and a representative from each county.

In August 1915 Boylan and a group of hurlers from Dunboyne carried draped hurleys at O’Donovan Rossa’s funeral to Glasnevin. The Dunboyne Volunteers had their headquarters at Courthill House. Courthill House was erected near the Church of Ireland church at Dunboyne about 1835. The house came into the hands of John Justin McCarthy in 1908. McCarthy was from Kerry and had managed to acquire a fortune through railways shares in companies in Africa. Later Michael Collins used Courthill, Dunboyne as a safe retreat from time to time as did other General Headquarters officers. A supporter of Kerry GAA, Kerry footballers stayed at Courthill the night before the All-Irelands, including the 1913 final. Boylan joined the IRB and started a circle in Dunboyne. His brother, Ned, was appointed head of the Dunboyne Circle but Seán took over after 1916.

Donal O’Hannigan

Three weeks before the Rising Boylan reported to Pearse at St. Enda’s and here he was introduced to Donal O’Hannigan who was officer commanding the north east including Meath and Louth. Pearse said that a German ship would land arms and then the Volunteers would be mobilised. Boylan was to make contact with O’Hannigan when the mobilisation commenced.

A meeting was held in Dunboyne Castle, home of the Murrogh-Ryan family to discuss how to stamp out the disloyalty of sections of Irish population. It was suggested that all the leaders of the Irish Volunteers, both local and national, be arrested and interned under the Defence of the Realm Regulations. John Moore, a valet in the castle, was a spy for Boylan and informed him of the meeting. Boylan took the information to Pearse at St. Enda’s. Boylan asked Pearse for permission to bring his force into Dublin when the rising happened. Pearse told him that preserving communications routes to and from the city was his role and he was not to bring his men past Mulhuddart. 

On Good Friday Boylan was given written instructions from Pearse that the rising would start at 6.00 p.m. on Easter Sunday. Preparations were made and mobilisation orders issued to all men. On Easter Saturday night Boylan received two service rifles from IRB headquarters.  He planned to seize Clonsilla Station and destroy the railway there.

At about 4.00 p.m on Sunday afternoon Boylan received a message that the rising was off and messages were sent out to local men. As North Meath was part of his responsibility Boylan set off to Kells to stop the men there mobilising on Tara. A man called Battersby met Boylan and said he was too late so they both set off for Tara in Battersby’s car. Boylan met Garret Byrne on Tara and instructed him to send his men home. Boylan and a number of the men started off on foot for Navan. Boylan stayed at Clarke’s in Navan overnight and the following morning made his way back to Dunboyne.

On Monday evening Boylan heard that the rising had started in the city. He collected what men he could, about fifteen. Armed with two rifles, a few shotguns and some gelignite they started to demolish the railway bridge beside Boylan’s house. A signalman stopped their work when he told them that there was only a local row or riot in the city. A messenger was dispatched who returned to say the Rising had started and there was fighting going on in the city. Boylan decided to destroy the railway bridge at Clonsilla and he despatched Christopher Lynam, Francis Lownes and Peter Keating on their bicycles with the gelignite to destroy the bridge. The remainder of the men under Boylan made their way towards Clonsilla. They met a girl, Anne Rodgers, who said a messenger had arrived at Dunboyne with instructions for Boylan to bring his men to Leixlip to join up with the Maynooth Volunteers. They made the six mile trip on foot but could not make contact with the Maynooth men. The Volunteers returned to Dunboyne where Boylan tried to make contact with the Louth group. He sent out scouts and on Tuesday evening managed to make contact with Donal O’Hannigan at the Red House on the Dunshaughlin Road. The two groups merged and were joined by Seán McGurl from Athboy. 

The combined forces moved to Tyrrellstown House, near Mulhuddart. The Dunboyne men received some arms from the Louth Volunteers. O’Hannigan despatched scouts to the city and also to Thomas Ashe in North Dublin. Garret and William Byrne from Kells also joined the Volunteers at Tyrrellstown. A number of sheep were killed for food and Boylan’s mother supplied eggs, butter and other necessities.  No orders were received. On Saturday morning O’Hannigan set out to try to make contact with Ashe. Boylan was left in charge at Tyrrrellstown. O’Hannigan returned with news that the surrender had taken place. The officers discussed the best course of action. Arms were to be dumped and some Louth men were to go home while the remainder returned to Dunboyne with the local men.

Boylan returned home and about 3.00 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon his house was surrounded by Lancers. Boylan, his three brothers and Christy Lynam were arrested and taken to Richmond Barracks. Seán was the last man to shake the hand of Eamonn Ceant as he went to his execution. The men were there for a few days when they got news of the executions. They were marched to the North Wall and despatched to England on a cattleboat. They were taken to Wandsworth Prison. Boylan and the prisoners were treated poorly.  Food was of poor quality. The Irish Parliamentary Party organised additional food but Boylan refused it as he felt it would be used as propaganda. The prisoners were transferred to Woking Prison and after a month they were sent to Frongoch where conditions were good. There were education and language classes and the prisoners had their own canteen. It was here that Boylan met Michael Collins. He was later to be described as “Mick Collins right-hand man.” After three months Boylan was released and made his way back to Dunboyne. The police were ordered to keep tabs on prisoners but the local sergeant kept Boylan informed of events.

At Frongoch Camp
Frongoch memorial

Boylan organised fund raising for the Volunteers that were still imprisoned. He also gathered as many of the Dunboyne Volunteers together as possible. About twelve men were active, nine of which were members of the IRB In September 1917 Boylan organised an aeriocht in one of the fields on his farm as a means of recruiting new members. Michael Collins and William T. Cosgrave attended and addressed the attendance. Several members of the Dunboyne Volunteers marched in the procession for Thomas Ashe’s funeral in September 1917.

Boylan toured the county actively trying to organise new companies of Volunteers.  Almost every town and parish had a company including Trim, Navan, Kells, Oldcastle, Stonefield and Summerhill. In the spring of 1918 came the threat of conscription and throughout the county anti-conscription committees were formed. Several new recruits joined the Volunteers as a result of the campaign. The number of Volunteer rose to forty in Dunboyne but when the threat was over numbers dropped back to twenty four.  

Boylan was active in organising the county’s companies into battalions. He formed one brigade, the Meath Brigade, with its headquarters at Dunboyne and Boylan as officer commanding. In July 1918 a by-election was held in Cavan and Boylan ordered the volunteers from North Meath into East Cavan to canvass for Arthur Griffith, the Sinn Féin candidate. In some cases the Volunteers had to physically protect Sinn Féin meetings. In the General Election of 1918 the Volunteers took an active part in the campaign.

In 1919 a number of volunteers were arrested as suspects of “The German Plot” and members of the Meath Unionist Party petitioned the British government to keep these men in jail. As the Unionists were also the main supporters of the hunt Boylan consulted with Éamonn Duggan T.D. and a notice was inserted in newspapers by Sinn Féin that all members of the hunt were to cease hunting until the prisoners were released.

A number of hunts were cancelled as a result of this notice. The hunt then held a meeting and there was no Sinn Féin members there to prevent it. Another hunt meeting was to be held at the workhouse, Dunshaughlin. Boylan arrived with twelve Volunteers and told the Master that they were there to enforce the ban on hunting.  The Master relied “I cannot take notice of political parties.” After further discussion with the Master it was agreed that the Hunt be called off. However the Master had arranged for the officers to ride down the Volunteers. An attempt was made to release the stag. A shot was fired by the Volunteers wounding a horse. The Volunteers managed to gain control of the stag in the box cart and refused to hand it back to the Hunt. The hunt party rode home and the stag was later returned to the kennels at Ashbourne. The Hunt organised a hunt in County Dublin and as it was outside his area Boylan let it happen but  the following week Boylan issued a statement stating that the landowners in the Ward Hunt area refused permission for the Hunt until the prisoners were released. Another hunt was arranged and Boylan called to see the Master but he refused to back down. As Boylan returned to Dunboyne he received information that a force of sixty policemen and eighty military were going to surround Batterstown village to protect the hunt. Boylan managed to get through the cordon and spoke to the acting Master, Lord Fingall and informed him of the ban on hunting. Fingall said that when the landowners did not want the hunt to cross their lands then they would respect that decision and abandon the meeting but they were not taking dictation from any political party. In the centre of the village Boylan was approached by reporters from thirteen papers and the following day Boylan’s photo appeared in all the papers. At a Sinn Féin meeting in the Mansion House there was a great welcome for Boylan and he was called to address the meeting. Michael Collins said “anyone but yourself would be doing three years in jail.”

Boylan as head of the Meath County Board of the IRB began to organise circles of the organisation in every parish and town in Meath. About 1918 the British authorities began to impose an oath of allegiance on serving civil servants. The vast majority complied with the order, those who did not lost their jobs. The GAA decided to expel any civil servant who took the oath. The IRB had infiltrated the GAA and the vast majority of the Meath County GAA Board were members of the IRB. Boylan also reorganised the IRB in Counties Kildare, Westmeath, Louth, South Cavan and North County Dublin.

In September and October 1919 special meetings of the Meath Brigade staff were held to formulate plans for attacks on the RIC Barracks in the area. A successful attack was made on Ballivor Barracks and arms were seized. The attack on Dillon’s Bridge Barracks failed. Attacks on Summerhill and Bohermeen barracks did not take place due to misunderstandings. In late 1919 and early 1920 police from twenty outlying barracks were pulled back into the major towns. Orders were issued to burn down the abandoned barracks.

In early autumn 1920 Boylan had all arms in civilian hands collected.  In August 1920 Boylan told a meeting at General Headquarters that he planned to attack Trim RIC Barracks. Mick Collins remarked “It’s a very big job” to which Boylan replied “We will take it.” A number of meetings were held in O’Hagans in Trim to plan the attack which would involve about 150 men. On 26th September Boylan was in charge of a group of men who took Trim Barracks and set it on fire. Boylan managed to capture the RIC men as they returned from Mass. The Black and Tans came to Trim that night and burned a number of premises.

Threats were made that Boylan’s house would be burned as a reprisal for the burning of Trim Barracks. Boylan said that if his or any of the Volunteer’s homes were burned he would burn every British loyalist house in County Meath as a reprisal.

The Duc de Stacpoole

In April 1920 news reached Boylan that the Duc de Stacpoole’s house at Tobertynan, Longwood, had been robbed and that six shots were fired though the ceiling. His housekeeper was so badly shaken that she was taken to Mullingar Mental Hospital. A number of similar incidents had taken place in the general area about this time. John Egan of the Boardsmill Volunteer Company was suspicious of two local men – Michael Higgins and Hubert Quinn, as he had seen them out early in the morning. Boylan met the Duc de Stackpoole in Trim and introduced himself and told him he would have the stolen property returned. The Duc said that the police were working on the case to which Boylan replied “They will do nothing; they are in collusion with the robbers.” Boylan rounded up Higgins and Quinn and then two more suspects. He interrogated the prisoners and they admitted their guilt. One prisoner was released and led Boylan to the missing items. Two more men were implicated, the six had been roaming the country with the knowledge of the police in an attempt to have the robberies blamed on the IRA. Boylan contacted William McLoughlin of Trim, who had a side car, to collect the stolen property. There was a large amount of stolen property and Boylan had to make a number of trips. On one occasion as Boylan returned the goods though the back door of Tobertynan the police were at the front door. McLoughlin grew exhausted with the work and the Duc was asked for a loan of his side car and driver. They went to the brother of one of the robbers and forced him at gun point to reveal where the Duc’s clothing had been hidden. It turned out to be within sight of the Longwood RIC Barracks. The local police sent news of Boylan’s activities to Trim and a lorry load of military were dispatched but Boylan took a different route. When Boylan had returned all the Duc’s missing items with the exception of a silver horse shoe which could not be traced, the Duc offered Boylan £5 as a reward. Boylan refused saying “We are acting on behalf of the Irish Government and are Volunteers. You ought to join us” The Duc relied “I would be with you only for your burning of the police barracks.”  Boylan said “You lost two brothers in the war; what benefit has it brought to Ireland” The Duc replied “My brothers fought for Ireland” but Boylan disagreed “They fought for England.” The Duc finished the conversation saying “I won’t discuss it further with you.” The Duc wrote a letter of appreciation to the Irish Times and the British Government are supposed to have cut his pension as a result. Michael Collins complimented Boylan on his work in the case and said it had brought great credit to the IRA.  Two of the thieves were stripped and flogged and compelled to do three weeks unpaid farm work.

In May 1920 Mark Clinton was shot dead in Kilmainhamwood while working on the farm of his uncle. William Gordon, an ex-British soldier, had killed Clinton and another man named McGovern killed the two horses which he was using for ploughing. A group of men organised the killing in order to seize the land and divide it amongst themselves. Boylan organised a lorry and proceeded to Moynalty and over the next two nights arrested thirteen men. The men were imprisoned first at Boltown, Kells and then at Dunboyne. Gordon was arrested by the British forces and brought to Navan for trial for possession of arms and ammunition without a permit. He was released by the Resident Magistrate and told to go to England as his comrades had been picked up by the Volunteers. Boylan was in Navan on the day on GAA business and issued orders to the local Volunteers that all the roads leading from the town were to be patrolled and all pubs were to be searched.  Gordon was discovered in the Flathouse. Boylan entered the pub to see two RIC men drinking at one end of the shop. He drew a revolver and ordered them against the wall. Gordon was taken prisoner and he was bundled into a car which took him to Dunboyne. Boylan travelled to Dublin and asked Michael Collins to appoint members of a court to try Gordon. The three judges were officers from the Dublin Brigade. The trial lasted several hours. Gordon confessed to the crime and admitted attempted murder in two other cases and the burning of two houses. The court found him guilty and he was sentenced to death. Boylan brought news of the verdict to General Headquarters and the Dáil cabinet who ordered another trial.  A fortnight later Gorden was re-tried with the judges again being officers from the Dublin Brigade. This trial lasted most of the night and resulted in a similar verdict and sentence. Boylan reported the verdict to General Headquarters. After a few days General Headquarters told Boylan that he could execute Gordon or release him as he felt fit. It was decided to execute Gordon. Austin Stack, Minister for Home Affairs, arranged for a Presbyterian minister from the north of Ireland to give Gordon spiritual consolation. Gordon told the minister that he was not sorry and would do the same again. The minister appealed to Boylan to allow him to get Gordon out of the country and away to America. Boylan would not agree as he feared that Gordon once free would return and have all those associated with his trial and imprisonment arrested by British authorities. Gordon was duly executed at Dunboyne and his body dumped in a quarry. The other prisoners were sentenced to be deported for three to fifteen years. The prisoners were departed in batches of three and four from Dublin, Dundalk and Drogheda.

In July 1920 Battalion Commandant Seán Cogan was shot dead by military forces near Oldcastle. Cogan was in a car with a prisoner and other Volunteers when they were halted by the military. Cogan ordered the driver to drive on. The military opened fire which Cogan returned. Cogan was shot dead and number of his companions were wounded. The car crossed a fence and landed in a field. Cogan’s body was taken to a nearby house. The rest of the Volunteers made good their escape. The next day the military arrived and collected the body, bringing it to Kells for an inquest. Following the inquest the body was handed back to the family who took it to St. Colmcille’s church in Kells.  Boylan ordered every available Volunteer mobilised for the funeral at Ballinlough. It was the biggest funeral cortege ever seen in County Meath, over four miles long. Boylan arranged to block the approach roads with cars so as to prevent the military approaching. Three volleys of shots were fired over the grave and the Volunteers dispersed. Séamus Cogan was a great loss to the brigade.

In October 1920 Boylan presided over a joint meeting of the 4th and 5th Battalions at Carnaross. Boylan said he wanted to have attacks on enemy outposts and patrols simultaneously in each area. The men of the 4th Battalion agreed but the officers of the 5th refused saying there were insufficient arms for such attacks and pointed out the danger of reprisals. Boylan was shocked by this and suspended each of the officers and informed them that they would be court-martialled within seven days.  The court-martial took place and three men were found guilty of mutiny and sentenced to two lashes of a horse whip each. The sentence was carried out. Boylan remained in the area a number of weeks and re-organised the battalion and appointed new officers.

In December 1920 Major General O’Connell attended a meeting of all the officers in the brigade area at Delvin. O’Connell stressed the necessity for more attack on enemy patrols and barracks so as to relieve the pressure by enemy forces in Cork and elsewhere. Attacks were planned against Oldcastle RIC Barracks and a military patrol in Navan but neither attack came off.

Boylan was very suspicious of Thomas Duffy in the Navan Battalion. He tried to persuade the local officers to drop Duffy. Duffy’s father was an ex-RIC man and Boylan suspected that information was being passed to the police. These suspicions were later proven correct after a sympathetic policeman gave Boylan a list of those who were informing.

Boylan used Courthill House in Dunboyne as a safe house. Michael Collins, Austin Stack, Harry Boland and other General Headquarters staff used Courthill as a retreat from time to time. Dunboyne Castle overlooked Courthill and an English nurse in the Castle informed the local RIC of comings and goings at Courthill. J.J. McCarthy, the owner of Courthill, was informed by a police friend that his home was to be raided. Boylan arranged to have an ambush party in the old cemetery nearby. During an inspection of outposts by an IRA officer a young Volunteer,  Bernard Reilly, was called on to halt. Reilly replied in an English accent, his mother was English, and he was shot dead.  Boylan sent Trim man, Joseph Lawlor, to get a priest for the young man. The priest later told an inquiry that he did not know the man who brought him to the body. The death of Bernard Reilly took place on 9th December 1920 and the raid on McCarthy’s never took place. Reilly’s remains were buried close to the foot of the old tower not far from where he was shot. The nurse at the Castle was later dismissed.

In the spring of 1921 Boylan received information from General Headquarters that Summerhill House was to be occupied by the Auxiliaries. Michael Graham, Captain of Summerhill Company was ordered to burn down the house which he did.

In March 1921 Boylan was appointed officer commanding of the 1st Eastern Division which consisted of Meath, Kildare, North Offaly, South Louth, East Cavan and part of Westmeath. Boylan immediately threw himself into re-organising the divisional area into nine brigades. 

After the re-organisation Boylan was called to a meeting in Dublin where Michael Collins ordered him to make arrangements for the landing and distribution of a cargo of Thompson machine-guns from America. As there were coastguard stations along the coast between Dublin and Drogheda Boylan decided to burn the lot of them down simultaneously. The operation was a difficult one but it was a complete success. Ten stations were burned in the one night and every one of Boylan’s men returned home unharmed. The American Government prevented the ship leaving the dock and seized the machine-guns.

Boylan met Michael Collins on many occasions. Collins on one occasions said to him “For what period will we be justified in carrying on the guerrilla warfare. What will the effect on the children unborn? There is a danger of going too far and giving the British an opportunity of committing her entire army to wholesale war on our people.”

Following the Local Government elections of June 1920 Collins told Boylan that “It is more important to get our people to refuse to recognise British Local Government than to attack their armed forces.” In 1920 Boylan was elected un-opposed to the Rural District Council of Dunboyne and also co-opted to Meath County Council but his activities prevented him from regular attendance.

In June 1921 Boylan was ordered to a meeting at Barry’s Hotel, Dublin, where Collins and others informed him that two special train of British troops were being sent from the Curragh to Belfast for the opening of the Belfast Parliament by the King of England. It was decided to attack the trains on their return journey. Collins asked Boylan to organise the attack but not to take part in it. Most of the preparations for the attack were organised in the Dunboyne area and on the night of 1st July 1921 the Fingal, Navan and Dunboyne brigades were mobilised at Dunboyne.  The men proceed to the railway at Stackumney and explosives were laid on the line. The troop train was due at mid-day but before it came a military aircraft flew over the area. Shortly afterwards several lorry loads of military arrived and after a short fire fight the Meath and Dublin men withdrew.

In December 1921 came the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Boylan was unable to attend the special County Council meeting on December 30th but he did send a note urging acceptance of the treaty.  In 1922 Boylan took over Naas Barracks from the British forces.

In May 1922 Boylan was a member of a committee of army officers who were brought together to try to prevent a split in the army and thereby civil war. At the first meeting of this committee it was recommended that hostilities should immediately cease and steps were taken to effect this. After a conference at the Mansion House the following day between leading officers of both sections of the IRA it was announced that a truce had been declared as from four o’clock that afternoon with a view to giving both sections of the army an immediate opportunity of discovering a basis for army unification. Then, on May 10, it was announced that the conference had concluded without reaching an agreement.

Mortar which killed Furlong and injured Boylan

Early in 1922 Boylan’s health failed until in 1925 he had a breakdown in health due to exposure, hardship, lack of sleep and what he had gone through.  Also in 1920 Boylan was injured in the head when a Stokes gun exploded killing Matthew Furlong. A new launcher was being tested at Beggstown, Dunboyne. Furlong accidently caused the launcher to explode unexpectedly and this resulted in his death and the near fatal wounding of Boylan. Boylan was taken to the Mater Hospital but left that night to attend a meeting in Trim and another at Blessington, all by bicycle. In St. Bricin’s hospital he was given ether to drink to ease the pain. He continued to suffer the effects of his injury throughout this life. Boylan also sprained himself about this time when he escaped from British soldiers in Parnell Street. Boylan travelled by bicycle around his area, travelling in all weathers. The shock of the events he had lived through affected him.

Given a year to live Boylan turned to herbalism to cure some of his ills. The Boylan family had a long tradition of cures. His ancestors had traditional cures for osteoarthritis, asthma, dropsy and tuberculosis. People were treated for free when they came to Boylan’s home.

Boylan married Teresa Doherty in 1926 but she died 1937. In 1939 Boylan travelled to Leitrim to attend the funeral of a Fr. Confrey who had been sympathetic to the rebels and there he met Gertie Quinn. The attraction was instant and two weeks later Gertie returned from Dublin with an engagement ring. Shortly afterwards they were married and went to Rome and Lourdes on their honeymoon, just before the war was to break out. The couple had six children. Gertie died in 1989. Boylan developed viral pneumonia in 1958 and cleared it using herbs. He later developed Parkinson’s disease. Seán Boylan died in 1971 at the age of ninty one.

Presentation of Boylan’s Uniform to Museum – Courtesy of Meath Chroncile

In 2014  Boylan’s son, former Meath GAA manager, Seán Boylan, and his family presented the uniform and greatcoat of his father, General Seán Boylan, to the community museum at Columb Barracks, Mullingar. The Boylan family with the uniform and greatcoat of Seán’s father, also Seán.

Dunboyne Volunteers Men Mobilise

The Dunboyne contingent included Peter Byrne, Aidan Crean, Peter Boylan, James Maguire, Giolla Chriost O’Broin, Daniel Madden, Owen King, Francis Lowndes, Gearoid O’Broin, Patrick Mullally, James Keating, Peter Keating and James Mullally.

Peter Boylan joined the Irish Volunteers at the urging of his brother, Seán. Peter had been in South Africa and returned to Ireland at Christmas 1915. A Galway man on the boat told him that there was going to be a rebellion in Ireland soon. Peter mobilised with the rest of the Dunboyne men on Monday. He took part in attempting to demolish the railway bridge at his home and then the march to Clonsilla and Leixlip. They marched home again and all had a good breakfast. In the early forenoon a special troop train pulled into Dunboyne station about 100 yards from the house. Field guns were unloaded from the train.  That afternoon a message came from Commandant O’Hannigan which stated he proposed to go to the city through Finglas. Tuesday evening the Dunboyne men joined O’Hannigan’s forces at The Red House, a mile north of Dunboyne. The combined forces marched to Tyrrellstown’s House, near Blanchardstown.

Tyrrelstown House

Seán Boylan made a list of those who occupied Tyrrellstown House: Frank Farrell, Hugh Farrell, James Mcguire, James Mullalley, Patrick Mullalley, Frank Lownes, James Keating, Peter Byrne, Aidan Crean, Peter Boylan, Owen King, Daniel Madden, Christopher Lynam, Peter Newman, Margaret Byrne Crean, Mary Mullalley, Margaret Mullalley, Mary Kelly, Ann Rodgers Kelly, Seán McGurl (Athboy), William and Garry Byrne (Dublin).

A messenger was sent to the GPO and returned with instructions from Pearse in writing. Pearse said they were to hold on as it might be necessary for the city forces to be evacuated to Meath. Mrs. Boylan and the Mulallys supplied bread, butter and other food supplies. Scouts were sent out to contact Thomas Ashe but this was unsuccessful. The Dunboyne men returned to Dunboyne and dumped their arms. Peter and his brothers were arrested and taken to Richmond Barracks.

Seán Boylan and his brothers Peter, Joseph and Edward were arrested after the Rising. Edward and Joseph were arrested although they had not played an active part in the mobilisation. William O’Brien asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland in the House of Commons “whether he is aware that four sons of Widow Boylan, of Dunboyne, County Meath, seventy-five years of age, were arrested by the military on 3rd May, and have not since been heard of by their mother, whose only support they were; whether none of these men took any part in the insurrection, and two of them were not even members of the Irish Volunteers; and whether, for the sake of humanity, the old woman will be apprised of the fate of her sons and permitted to communicate with them?”   Shortly afterwards Peter, Joseph and Edward were released but Seán had to remain in prison for a longer period.

Mobilisation in Meath Easter Week 1916

On Wednesday of Easter Week Patrick O’Growney, Paddy Carey, Joe Martin, Patrick Butterfield and his brother, Michael Hoey, Bernard McConnell, Seán McGurl, Giolla Christ Ó Briain and others left Athboy for Dublin to take part in the Rebellion but they never reached their destination and returned after a day or two. Seán McGurl managed to join up with the Dunboyne Volunteers.

Gerald Byrne of the IRB was told by Seán McDermott to go to Donal O’Hannigan in Louth and work together with Meath and Louth Volunteers. Byrne went to Kells on the Saturday prior to Holy Week and got in touch with his brother who worked there. His brother took him to Drumbaragh where he met Seán Hayes, Frank Higgins, Peter Higgins, a man named Power and Seán Hayes’s father. On Sunday he went to Dundalk to meet O’Hannigan but was unsuccessful. Byrne travelled to Kells again on Monday of Holy Week.  O’Hannigan came to meet him on the Tuesday or Wednesday. On Holy Thursday Byrne received the code word and was told to get his men to Tara by 7.00 p.m. on Easter Sunday. Byrne sent word to the Drumbaragh men and went to attend a parade of the Carnaross men on Good Friday night. Byrne told the men that there was a grave danger of something happening and that he wanted them on Tara on Sunday evening. Byrne instructed them that they would travel as if they were going to a football match. He told them to bring football togs, but also all weapons, ammunitions and rations they could bring.

On Sunday Byrne left Kells in a motor car with Seán Hayes and Frank Higgins. They reached Tara about 6.30. There were twenty five to thirty men mobilised on the hill. Byrne dispatched a motor cyclist to Slane to make contact with the Louth men but this was unsuccessful. At about 12 o’clock lights of car approached the hill and the men were got into hiding. Seán Boylan who was in the car said they had instructions from Headquarters that the rising was called off. Byrne asked Boylan to go to Kells to get cars to return the Volunteers. The rest of the men headed off on foot back to Kells. Byrne stayed in Kells hoping that he could make contact with O’Hannigan. On Wednesday Byrne borrowed a bicycle and started for Dublin. but was stopped by police in Navan and questioned. He said he had been holidaying in Kells and that he was trying to get back to the city. He was again stopped in Lismullen and repeated the same story.  When he got to the Dunboyne he met two girls who took him to Tyrrellstown House which Boylan and his group of Volunteers were occupying. He met O’Hannigan and the Louth men there.  A message from Pearse instructed them to hold their position. Byrne sent a message to Kells to his brother telling him to mobilise as many men as possible. His brother arrived from Kells the following morning, Thursday. On Saturday night O’Hannigan went to Swords and returned with news that British troop with artillery were moving towards the city. On Monday news came from the city that the rebels had surrendered. Arms were dumped, the Dunboyne men returned home and the Louth men were billeted locally. Byrne returned to his brother’s residence in Kells where he stayed for three weeks before returning to Dublin.

Kells Church

Drumbaragh Volunteers mobilised after lunchtime on Sunday and assembled outside the chapel at Kells and proceeded on foot towards Navan. Seven men had reported: Garry Byrne, Willie Byrne, Hugh Smith, Frank O’Higgins, Joseph Power, Seán Dardis and Seán Hayes.  Garry Byrne was in charge. On the outskirts of Kells they acquired cars which took them to Navan and then they started off on foot towards Tara. When near Tara the Drumbaragh men were passed by the Carnaross Volunteers on horse sidecars and carrying a football to create the impression they were travelling to a football match. The Drumbaragh Volunteers arrived on Tara at 7.00 p.m. just as night was falling. They were met by Donal O’Hannigan and Volunteers from Louth. Byrne put the men into hiding and ordered them to be quiet. They obtained some refreshments from the local shop and could see lights in the direction of Slane, perhaps it was the Dundalk men coming to Tara? About midnight Seán Boylan and a man named Beson arrived and immediately afterwards the Volunteers were ordered to return home. Some walked while others travelled in cars. Willie Byrne decided to try to get to the city. On Thursday or Friday Seán Dardis informed the men that they were to proceed to Dublin via Athboy. The indirect route may have had something to do with the plan to relapse the P.O.W.s in Oldcastle.  The Drumbaragh Volunteers mobilised at the Ball Alley Crossroads near Sylvan Park but before mobilisation was completed they were ordered home again.

Seán Farrelly

Carnaross was one of the earliest companies of the Irish Volunteers established in the county. A former RIC man, Paddy McGuinness, was in charge of instruction. After about three weeks the attendance settled down at twenty six men. Seán Farrelly, one on the Volunteers, recalled the spilt in the Volunteers, between those who followed Redmond and the others who did not want to fight in Europe. Farrrelly attended a meeting on the Hill of Llyod, Kells, where Redmond addressed the Volunteers. There was great disappointment at the postponement of Home Rule. Redmond called for a mobilisation of the Volunteers in the Phoenix Park and urged the volunteers to go to the war and fight for small nations. A special mobilisation was held on the Curragh Road, just outside Carnaross  to decide what action the company would take on the matter.  The vast majority were in favour of travelling to the Phoenix Park but older men argued against. The meeting broke up without a decision. The RIC began to take an interest in the activities of the Carnaross Volunteers. The men subscribed on a weekly basis to collect funds for arms. Philip Farrelly was sent to General Headquarters in Dublin and returned with twenty brand new shining revolvers. The local AOH condemned the Volunteers. A dance organised by the AOH was boycotted by the Volunteers and they advised others not to attend. The men managed to acquire caps and one rifle. Liam Mellows visited from Headquarters to inspect the company.

On Good Friday 1916 an order arrived from headquarters to mobilise the men on Easter Sunday and march to the Hill of Tara  to meet other units from the area. The major concern of the men was to ensure they would not be watched by the RIC as they made their way to Tara. Three jaunting cars were procured and a few footballs and all set out, to all appearance to a football game. The RIC remained at home unaware of the Volunteer activity. The Volunteers who stayed at home organised a fundraising dance at Bryan Daly’s loft at Loughan on Easter Sunday night. The drivers of the three jaunting cars deposited their men at the foot of the Hill of Tara and returned home to the dance. At midnight when the dance was in full swing the men who had gone to Tara came through the door. A messenger had arrived at Tara to say that the mobilisation was cancelled.  The dance went on until seven in the morning. On Tuesday came news that a rebellion had broken out in Dublin. A message arrived carried by Jack Dardis of Kells ordering the company to mobilise and be ready for orders. On Thursday came  a similar order to be ready to mobilise that evening. The men mobilised and discussed the fighting in Dublin. Seán Farrelly was despatched to the presbytery to ask Fr. Farrrell to come and hear the mens’ confessions.  Fr. Farrell asked the men to come to the presbytery where he hear their confessions. In the meantime a despatch had arrived saying the mobilisation was cancelled.  Farrelly commented “That is the story of Easter Week in Carnaross. The Rising had ended in apparently complete failure. The mass of people, if not hostile, were not in the least interested.”

Carnaross Presbytery

Patrick Loughran of Shambo, Navan worked in Tralee before going to work in Dublin in 1914. He joined the Volunteers of Kimmage. On Holy Tuesday Commandant Ceannt  instructed the Volunteers to be ready to fight for Ireland at the weekend. Loughran was mobilised on Good Friday at 11.00 a.m. and he reported to the Weaver’s Hall, Donore Avenue. There the company waited for a number of hours before being dismissed. On Good Friday evening Loughran went to Captain William Cosgrave’s house on James’s Street and he was given a dispatch to carry to Kimmage. Loughran received another dispatch to return to Captain Cosgrove. He spent the rest of the evening distributing revolvers and ammunition to various houses around Islandbridge. Nothing further happened until Easter Sunday morning when a notice appeared in the Sunday newspapers signed by Eoin McNeill cancelling all Volunteer mobilisations for that day. Loughran returned to Navan and took no further part in the events of Easter 1916.  

Slane – a staging post for the Louth men

Donal O’Hannigan, an IRB man, was made the commander of the Louth /Meath forces for the 1916 Rising. Two weeks before Easter O’Hannigan met Padraig Pearse at St. Enda’s where Pearse outlined his plans for the rising. Seán Boylan also attended the meeting. O’Hannigan was told to mobilise all the Volunteers on the Hill of Tara on Easter Sunday at 7.00 p.m. He was to read a copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and then march to Dunshaughlin and on to Blanchardstown where they would meet Boylan and the Dunboyne men. They were to seize the railway at Blanchardstown and cut the line to prevent English artillery coming from Athlone. The Fingal Brigade were to be on the left flank while the Kildare men were on the right flank. In this way the Volunteers would create a ring around the city from Swords to Blanchardstown, to Lucan, Tallaght and from there across the hills to the sea.  All the men with the exception of the Fingal men were under the command of O’Hannigan.

On leaving Tara O’Hannigan was to place some officer in charge of the forces while he went to Oldcastle to release the German prisoners in the internment camp.  Some of the men in the Oldcastle camp were German reservists and others were artillery experts which was important as artillery was expected to arrive from Germany.

Pearse explained the importance of organising the lines around the city to prevent attack from the rear, to prevent reinforcements reaching the city, to maintain a supply of food for the Volunteers and the people of the city and to allow for an evacuation of Volunteer forces from the city if needed. Pearse said adequate arms and ammunitions would be supplied to the men at Blanchardstown.

O’Hannigan went to Dundalk and various other areas of the north-east to commence making preparation for the rising. On Good Friday O’Hannigan returned to Dublin and made a report to the Executive Council of the IRB. O’Hannigan was told he was in charge of the area and made Commandant. O’Hannigan pointed out that Tara was an inconvenient place for mobilisation but Pearse said that Tara was all important for historical reasons and he wanted a copy of the Proclamation read there.

On Saturday O’Hannigan met Eamon Ceannt and asked for an officer to assist him in the Kells area. O’Hannigan also asked James Connolly about the arms and ammunition that were to be delivered to Blanchardstown but Connolly re-assured him that the arms would be there for O’Hannigan on his arrival.

On the Saturday evening, one week before the Rising, O’Hannigan went to Dundalk but he was under the watchful eyes of the police.  Pearse had told O’Hannigan to call a meeting of all the Volunteers in Dundalk for Good Friday with Pearse as guest speaker. Pearse said it was unlikely that he would be there but it would get all the officers of the Volunteers together in order to give them the necessary instructions in relation to mobilisation and plans for the general mobilisation on Easter Sunday. O’Hannigan made contact with Seán McEntee, who worked for Dundalk Urban Council. Instructions were given to all the areas to meet at the O’Boyle Reilly Hall in Dundalk at 8.45 on Sunday morning.

About one hundred and sixty men mobilised in Dundalk on Easter Sunday. Seán McEntee inspected the Volunteers and asked had they been at confession. They marched to Ardee where they fell out. They were joined by some Dunleer and Ardee men and they set off again. They were followed by a number of RIC men. They reached Slane by 7.00 p.m. where they were to meet the men from South Louth and Meath. The Drogheda and Meath men did not arrive. O’Hannigan was given an order from Eoin McNeill calling off all activities. O’Hannigan said he could not obey the order without confirmation from Pearse and the IRB. A number of men returned to Dundalk. After the Louth men arrived at Slane it started to rain. The men took up quarters in an old bakery owned by a man called Johnston on the Drogheda Road. At this stage there were about 60 RIC men under the District Inspector at Slane. According to one Witness Statement O’Hannigan asked the Inspector to take his forces south of the bridge as O’Hannigan wanted to control the area north of the river. The Inspector agreed and O’Hannigan mounted a guard on the bridge to prevent the police returning. A guard detail was also sent to stop anyone entering the gate of the Marquis of Conyngham. Seán McEntee was dispatched to Dublin to find out what was happening.

Slane Village – Fair Day

At 3.00 a.m. on Monday morning the men fell in and began to march back to Collon. They stopped at Garrigan’s public house for food. They marched through Castlebellingham. About four miles from Dundalk a girl from Cumann na mBan met them and said there was a danger that if the Volunteers marched into Dundalk they would be attacked by the Home Defense forces in the town. Seán McEntee returned with news that the Rising had commenced in Dublin. Donal O’Hannigan told the men that the rising had started in Dublin and he and other men were going to travel to Dublin and invited other men to join them. Only three men went home and the rest started the march towards Dublin. At this time there were a lot of cars on the road returning from Fairyhouse Races. The Volunteers commandeered cars and took their occupants as prisoners. They were forced to abandon the cars when they came upon an abandoned car on a narrow road. They went to stay the night in a nearby barn and were now joined by some Meath men. On Tuesday morning the marching began again. The force stopped at Tara but there was no other men there to meet them. They came to a stop at a big house and remained there for a number of days. The Louth men were then assembled and marched back to the old barn they had sheltered in. They dumped their arms and the Dunboyne men went home. O’Hannigan said he was going to try to make it to Dublin and that every man was to fend for themselves.  The men began to return to Louth by the Drogheda road. A few were intercepted at Kilmoon police barracks but they told the police they were going to Dublin in search of work and were let go. When the main group returned to Dundalk the railway station was guarded by soldiers. A number of men went to Liverpool until the arrests had died down. 

Shot by the Rebels in Louth

Robert Grimshaw Dunville acquired Sion House in Johnstown around 1879. The house was erected about 1840 to provide a home for John Charles Metge and his new wife, Eliza. When Peter Ponsonby Metge died in 1873, Athlumney House passed to his nephew Robert Henry Metge. The Metges probably left Sion House at about this time.

Sion House

Sion House was acquired by the Dunville family as a base for hunting. The Dunville family ran a whiskey distillery and blenders business in Belfast. Robert Grimshaw Dunville became chairman of the company in 1874. Robert Grimshaw Dunville was a Justice of the Peace, a Deputy Lieutenant of County Down, a High Sheriff of County Meath, a founder member of the Reform Club and a member of the Liberal Party, until William Gladstone advocated Home Rule for Ireland. He then became a Liberal Unionist.

In 1892 Robert’s son John Dunville married Violet Anne Blanche Lambart, the fifth daughter of Gustavus William Lambart, of Beau Parc, County Meath. John had spent a considerable portion of his time at Sion House as he was growing up. They had four children: Robert Lambart Dunville, John Spencer Dunville, William Gustavus Dunville and Una Dunville. Robert Grimshaw Dunville died in August 1910 and his son, John, succeeded him.  John Dunville was Master of the Meath Hounds from 1911 to 1915, succeeding John Watson of Bective House and the Earl of Fingall. John Dunville served for many years in the old Meath Militia, 5th Battalion Leinster Regiment, gaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. John Dunville was a keen hunter and a ballooning enthusiast as was his wife.

Their son, Second Lieutenant John Spencer Dunville, died from wounds he received at Epehy in France in 1917.  He was protecting an N.C.O. of the Royal Engineers who was cutting wire which had been laid by the enemy. The Victoria Cross was awarded to him posthumously.

John Dunville’s eldest son, Robert Lambart Dunville, who had been educated at Eton, joined the army in 1912 and resigned his commission a year later. At the outbreak of war Robert was commissioned into the Buckinghamshire Yeomanry in October 1914. In April 1915 a Medical Board at the Military Hospital in Cottonera, Malta found that he had just recovered from an attack of acute appendicitis and in view of the probability of a further attack, recommended that he should return to England for an appendicectomy. By September he had fully recovered and in November he transferred as a Lieutenant to the Fifth Reserve Battalion Grenadier Guards. Later he served in the Third Battalion.

Robert Dunville

He was in Ireland when the rebellion broke out in Dublin in April 1916, and set off to join his regiment. On the way he was captured in Castlebellingham, County Louth by Louth Volunteers who were marching from Dundalk and Ardee towards Dublin.

He later described what happened: Second Lieutenant Robert Dunville, of the Grenadier Guards, said he was travelling by motor car from Belfast to Kingstown on Easter Monday, accompanied by his chauffeur. They arrived at Castlebellingham about ten minutes to seven. When he entered the village he saw three policemen on the left hand side of the road near the railings. He also saw a considerable number of men in motor cars, and some on the road — all armed, some with revolvers, some had automatic pistols, others carbines and ordinary rifles. As he could not get through he pulled his car up, and a man whom he identified as the Denis Leahy, came up and pointed a rifle at him. Then Seán McEntee came up and presented a pistol at him. Robert asked them what it was all about, told him that he wanted to catch the boat from Kingstown, and to let him pass. His chauffeur and himself were placed with the police at the railings. Then a man got out of one of the cars, and aimed a long rifle at him. He heard a report, and somebody at his right hand side shouted, and he found that he himself had been shot; that the bullet passed through his breast from left to right. He saw a rifle still pointed at him after he was hit. After that he fell, and he was removed to his car.

Denis Leahy had pointed his rifle at Lieutenant Dunville and then Seán McEntee gave an order. The rebels got back to their cars, and shots were heard. Lieutenant Dunville was hit, and the charge went through his lung. Almost immediately Constable McGee was hit by four bullets. He fell and died in a couple of hours. Constables Kiernan and Donovan made a run for it and reached the barracks under fire from the rebels. Four of the rebels subsequently stood trial at a court martial on 9th June on a charge of killing a police constable of the RIC at Castlebellingham on Easter Monday, and attempting to kill a military officer. Three men received the death penalty which was commuted to prison sentences; John (Seán) McEntee, Francis Martin, Denis Leahy, while the fourth James Sally was sentenced to penal servitude for ten years.

Robert married in 1918 but divorced in 1921. His life appears to have been difficult and in 1920 he was acquitted of being drunk and assaulting a policeman in London. Much was made of his experience at the hands of the Volunteers at the trial. His collection of animals that he kept in Hollywood, County Down in his private zoo at Redburn House formed the basis of Belfast Zoological Gardens, which opened to the public in 1934.

In 1927 he married for a second time. In 1930 he succeeded his father in the chairmanship of Dunville & Co. Ltd. He never fully recovered from his wounds of 1916 and died suddenly at the age of thirty-eight in 1931. He was the last Dunville family and there was no one with his drive and commitment to succeed him and so the business closed in 1936.

In July 1936 St. Martha’s College of Agriculture and Domestic Science, Sion, Navan, in charge of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul was opened at Sion.  In 1941 An Taoiseach Eamon de Valera and the Minister for Agriculture, Dr. James Ryan, paid a visit to St. Martha’s College. This college operated until 1982. Sion House is now part of a three-storey post-primary school building.

Patrick Kelly Killed 1916

Patrick Kelly aged 13 Killed 1916   Buried in Rathregan graveyard, Batterstown, Co. Meath. Inscription:  “In loving memory of Patrick Kelly  who was killed  in the insurrection  1916 age 13 years RIP” Patrick was killed on 28th April 1916.  Patrick was brought to the Dublin University Voluntary Aid Hospital in 19 Mountjoy Square East but was already dead as a result of  gunshot wounds to the neck which fractured his lower jaw. Dublin University Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital was situated at 19 Mountjoy Square and provided medical assistance to the sick and injured during Easter Week 1916.  

His death was mentioned in The Irish Times on Saturday, April 29th. The family received compensation of £25 and £12 for the funeral expenses. Patrick had been earning 3 shillings. Other local civilian casualities of the Rising were James Power, (60), 9 Buckingham Place, Mrs. M. Kenny, (63), 18 Upper Buckingham Street and Andrew  Goulding, (45), 18 Up. Buckingham Street, who were all buried in Glasnevin. Thomas Leahy of Buckingham Street was interned in Frongoch Camp following the 1916 rising as a suspect of having been involved in the Rising. Christopher O’Malley of 1 Lower Buckingham Street was also rounded up by the police after the Rising. Dublin Fire Brigade ‘C’ station was the fire brigade station at Buckingham Street and was called to deal with the battle raging on the streets of Dublin. On Tuesday, April 25 the fire brigade was alterted to a previously reported fire in O’Connell St: “Sent word to C to attend. Also sent word to A & D & Watercontrol & Police.”

Patrick was born on 10th August 1903 at 23 Buckingham Buildings, Dublin to Patrick Kelly and his wife Mary (nee Sullivan). In the 1911 census Patrick was living in 24 Buckingham Buildings Dublin (aged 7) with his parents and 2 younger siblings, John aged 6 and Mary aged 3 months. Mary had been born on 4th Januray 1911. Two other children of the family were elsewhere on the night of the census. There were more than fifty families living in B block of Buckingham Buildings. The Kelly family were living in a two roomed, two windowed tenement flat in the building which was erected in 1877 by the Dublin Artizans Dwelling Company.


The Battle of Ashbourne

The biggest and most successful action by the rebels in 1916 took place at Ashbourne. Thomas Ashe was the leader of a group of about sixty Volunteers from the Fingal area of north Dublin. Ashe was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and active in the Gaelic League. He had been promoted to Battalion Commandant shortly before the rising.

Thomas Ashe

Second in command was Richard Mulcahy who had recently been promoted first lieutenant. Mulcahy later served as Minister for Education and as leader of Fine Gael from 1944 to 1959. Mulcahy was in the Ashbourne area under orders to cut the communication lines at Howth junction and met up with Ashe by chance after one of his men was captured by Ashe’s Brigade. Frank Lawless was Battalion Quartermaster and Dr. Richard Hayes was the Medical Officer.

On Easter Monday, 24th April Ashe received orders from James Connolly to send forty men to the GPO in Dublin, Ashe with limited manpower available sent twenty. On Wednesday the Fingal Volunteers raided RIC police barracks at Swords and Donabate. On Thursday the Battalion moved towards Ashbourne and established a base at a farmhouse between Garristown and Ashbourne. On Friday morning three sections advanced towards Ashbourne where they discovered an RIC sergeant and constable erecting a barricade outside the police station.

Fingal Volunteers

Ashbourne RIC Station

Rath Crossroads

Cottage at Rath Cross

The Volunteers took cover on the by-road from Rath Cross while Ashe called on the police to surrender “in the name of the Irish Republic.” The police replied with rifle fire and the Battle of Ashbourne had begun. The Volunteers surrounded the barracks and the police suffered a number of causalities. A home-made grenade was thrown at the barracks but fell short causing no damage to the building. Following this a white flag appeared at one of the windows.

By now it was 2 o’clock and police reinforcements arrived from Slane thereby putting a halt to the surrender of the barracks. A convoy of more than twenty cars led by County Inspector Alexander Gray and District Inspector Harry Smyth, came under fire from the volunteers. The police force from Slane amounted to more than sixty men thereby outnumbering Ashe’s forces. By clever distribution of his men Ashe managed to give the illusion that he had much greater forces. A heavy fire fight took place at the crossroads with one of the Volunteers being struck in the head. At one stage some of the Volunteers fired on their own forces in error. The battle had continued for more than five hours and the Volunteers were running short of ammunition. County Inspector Gray was seriously wounded, dying a number of days later.  District Inspector Harry Smyth rose from the roadside ditch and called on his men to attack the rebels. Smyth managed to kill one of the Volunteers before being shot himself. Demoralised by the loss of their leader the force of fifty policemen surrendered, as did the fifteen or so police in the barracks. Constable John McGearty of Ballivor was sent out carrying a large white handkerchief to surrender. It was such a terrifying ordeal that his hair went white overnight. His wife had provided him with a clean handkerchief that morning, the only piece of white the policemen had. The prisoners were assembled at the crossroads where Ashe addressed them. He pardoned them on behalf of the Republic but said if they were caught again in arms they would be shot.

Two Volunteers and eight policemen were killed in the action with six Volunteers being wounded and about eighteen policemen. The dead police included: County Inspector Gray, District Inspector Smyth, Sergeant John Shanagher, (Navan), Sergeant John Young (Killyon), Constables James Hickey (Kells), Richard McHale (Crossakiel), James Gormely (Longwood) and James Clery (Moynalty). A number of civilian drivers employed by the police were killed as were two passers-by. The chauffeur of the Marquess of Conyngham for Slane was one of the police drivers who died later from his injuries. Ashe had the wounded despatched to Navan Infirmary by car and Fr. Murphy, Duleek, and Fr. Dillon arrived to tend to those in need.

Ashe set up a new camp to the southeast of Ashbourne at Kilsallaghan and awaited further orders. The orders came but they were orders to surrender. The Volunteers were taken to Richmond Jail after surrender and Ashe was sentenced to execution. His sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life and he served time in Lewes Gaol in England where he wrote his poem “Let me Carry Your Cross for Ireland, Lord.”

Released in 1917 Ashe became the president of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Ashe was re-arrested for sedition for speaking at Ballinalee, Co. Longford, where he shared the platform with his good friend, Michael Collins. Collins visited Ashe at the Curragh detention centre and attended his trial which Collins treated as a big joke. Imprisoned in Mountjoy Gaol Ashe demanded prisoner of war status and when it was denied he went on hunger strike. Ashe said “Even though I do die, I die for a good cause.” As a result of a botched forced feeding session Ashe died a ghastly death on 25 September 1917. His funeral was a major show of strength and a major public relations coup for the nationalist movement and was the first significant public appearance for Michael Collins who delivered a graveside valediction. “Nothing additional remains to be said. The volley which we have just heard is the only speech which is proper to make above the grave of a dead Fenian.” he declared.  Later Collins wept openly and his memorial card bore the inscription “In veneration of a gallant patriot and a noble friend.” Ashe died in his thirty-third year, five years later Collins was killed aged thirty two. The tactics of guerrilla warfare used at Ashbourne were adopted and used successfully by Collins and those who fought in the War of Independence.

Unveiling of Ashbourne Monument by President Sean T. O’Kelly

In 1959 a monument was unveiled at Rath Cross, Ashbourne by President Seán T. O’Kelly, in memory of John Crenigan and Thomas Rafferty, the two Volunteers who died in the 1916 action. The monument was inspired by Thomas Ashe’s poem “Let me carry Your Cross for Ireland, Lord.”

Volunteer Dead

Volunteer John Crenigan

Jack (John) Crenigan was the son of John and Ann Crenigan. John was a groom/coachman from Mullingar and Ann was from County Meath. They married in 1894  and John was born a year later and baptised in St. Mary’s, near the Phoenix Park. In 1901 the family lived at Hilltown, Dunboyne where John Senior was groom for Captain Stead. The family moved around a bit. By 1911 the family had settled at Roganstown, Swords where John was a coachman. The family included five children: John, Thomas, James, Mary (Molly) and William. 

Jack Crenigan began his working life with Frank Lawless at Saucerstown. He then worked for a while for the Dublin Tramways Company. He became a member of the Swords Company of the Irish Volunteers in 1914. His brother, James, also enlisted. The Lawless family and Crenigan family were neighbours and great friends. On Holy Saturday rifles, ammunition and medical supplies arrived from Dublin to Frank Lawless and were put into a horse drawn van driven by Jack Crenigan

On Easter Monday James was sent to Dublin by Ashe to re-enforce the GPO. James was sent to fight at the Mendicity Institution. James Crenigan was arrested in Dublin following the Rising and sent to Lewes jail and in late 1916, he was transferred to Wormwood Scrubs in London. In 1917 James was freed as part of the general amnesty.

Jack was killed in action when shot by RIC District Inspector Smyth, at the Battle of Ashbourne. Smyth stood up to encourage his men forward. He and Frank Lawless shot at the same time, Lawless’s shot hitting Smyth in the forehead, killing him and Smyth’s shot  missing Lawless, penetrated Crenigan’s heart, killing him instantly.  The Volunteers removed his body for burial. A horse and cart bore the simple coffin of John Crenigan on his final journey to Old Rolestown Cemetery at Killossory, Kilsallaghan, Co Dublin.

Volunteer Thomas Rafferty

Thomas Rafferty was the son of James and Ellen Rafferty of Lusk, Co. Dublin. His father was a general labourer and Thomas worked as a groom and domestic servant. Aged twenty two in 1916 Rafferty was a member of the Lusk Volunteers. Rafferty won honours both as a piper and a hurler, and was a member of the Black Haven Pipers’ Band and the local hurling team.

On Easter Monday the Volunteers were mobilised. Thomas was involved with the attack on the RIC Barracks at Swords on Wednesday. Thomas received a gunshot wound at the Battle of Ashbourne. Dr. Hayes treated Tom Rafferty and he was left at a house nearby as he was too bad to move any further. Rafferty died the following day from his wounds. Ashe went to see the body of Rafferty and made the call for his mother to come and see him. Rafferty is buried in the grounds of St Maccallen’s Church in Lusk.

The Shot Chauffeur

Albert George Keep

An unarmed chauffeur named Keep, in the employ of the Marquis Conyngham, of Slane Castle, was shot in the leg by an explosive bullet at the battle of Ashbourne, and had to have his leg amputated, but he died.

Albert George Keep was an Englishman who came to Ireland and became the chauffeur for  the Marquis of Conyngham. He had been in the employ of the Marquis for at least five years. Keep was shot about the same time as District Inspector Smyth. The position of chauffeur was relatively new in 1916, which meant his duties–and pay–varied wildly based on the house and employer. He also existed in the in-between world occupied by the governess, since he was not a member of the household, yet he was not a member of the outdoor servants. The chauffeur’s duties consisted of driving the family and of maintaining the upkeep of the motorcar. Keep was fined in November 1912 for driving too fast at 22½ miles per hour in Dublin, 2½ mph over the limit. The Marchioness of Conyngham was afraid that the rebels would attack Slane and she forced the County Inspector to move towards Dublin to intercept them.

After the battle Dr. Richard Hayes attended to Keep’s wounds. Keep resented that his automobile had been commandeered. While Hayes was working on him a police sergeant came over and asked him how he was getting on. Keep looked up and said “A damned lot how you care how I am getting on”. Keep thanked Hayes and told him that a British force of 7,000 men with artillery and machine guns had landed in Drogheda.

Constable Duggan who was near Keep said “That poor fellow’s legs were ripped with bullets and his condition was most gruesome.” The leg was amputated in the County Infirmary, Navan but Keep died the following morning. Keep was buried in the Church of Ireland graveyard in Slane. The inscription on the memorial reads: “In proud and loving memory of my dear husband Albert George Keep who from wounds received at Ashbourne 28th April 1916 died 30th April 1916 aged 28 years.”

Albert met his wife, Sarah, at Slane Castle where she was working as a maid. Sarah Scarlett was born in 1895 at Castlepollard, County Westmeath, the daughter of John and Kate Small Scarlett. Albert George Francis Keep was born in County Meath, Ireland in 1917, the son of Sarah Scarlett and Albert George Keep, he never saw his father.

After her husband’s untimely death, Sarah Keep moved with her young son and daughter to Kent, England. Albert joined the army and served with the Cambridgeshire Regiment. In October 1941 his regiment was despatched to the Far East where it fought against the Japanese on the Malaya Peninsula. Finally forced to retreat back to the Island of Singapore they attempted to defend Singapore City.  On 15th February 1942, General Percival signed the surrender of the British and Commonwealth forces. Percival was accused of torture by IRA men during the War of Independence and he was marked for assassination. On February 12, 1942, in the final stages of defence, Lance Corporal Albert George Francis Keep was reported as missing in action. Having no known grave he is commemorated on Column 57 of the Kranji Memorial, Singapore.

Two Civilians Shot Dead

Two civilians from Kingstown, now Dun Laoighre, were passing the main road to Slane when they got caught up in the fire fight. J.J. O’Carroll, a commercial traveller, was home on holidays from Liverpool. James Joseph O’Carroll, aged 24, lived at 1 Municipal Buildings, Kingstown. John Hogan was a taxi driver and he was taking Carroll back to Kingstown.  Gerald John Hogan, aged 26, lived at 9 Summerhill Road, Kingstown.    Both had registered for military service.  The bodies were brought back to Kingstown and buried at Deansgrange.

One Volunteer said that two civilians arrived on the scene in a small two seater car. The Volunteer said that the police thought these were Ashe and Hayes as their car was similar to the one used by them and the police shot them both.

Police Dead and Wounded

County Inspector Gray

District Inspector Smyth

There were eight police casualties at Ashbourne. RIC County Inspector Alexander Gray, RIC District Inspector Harry Smyth, Sergeant John Shanagher, Sergeant John Young and Constables James Hickey, James Gormley, Richard McHale and James Cleary.

County Inspector Alexander Gray was born in Tyrone in 1858 and joined the RIC in 1882. He served in various counties including Kerry, Donegal, Armagh, Dublin, Antrim, Kildare, Roscommon and Westmeath before taking up the position of County Inspector for Meath in 1912.  He is mentioned in Peig Sayer’s autobiography Peig where she called him “Baby Gray” on the account of his boyish looks. Terence Dooley wrote an article on Gray in Riocht na Midhe 2003. Wounded at the Battle of Ashbourne he died on 10th May. He was 57 years old and had served 32 years in the RIC. Following a funeral service in St. Mary Church, Navan, he was buried at Esker Cemetery, Lucan as he had lived at 8 Cooldrinagh, Lucan.

Gray’s grave Esker

District Inspector Henry Smyth was born in Hertfordshire, England he joined the RIC at the age of 25. He served in Offaly, then known as King’s County, and Kildare before being appointed to Meath in 1910.  Married he left a widow and four children. He was twice wounded, shot in both hands and other parts of his body. As the rebels attacked the police Smyth was shot by an explosive bullet in the last hour of the battle and died shortly afterwards. A large number of people from Navan and the surrounding districts attended his funeral in Ardbraccan Churchyard.

Sergeant John Shanagher, Navan, aged 48, had 25 years service He had served in Ashbourne and knew the area. He was the first to be killed, shot in the heart as he was leaving his car.  He fell into a channel of water near the cross roads. There was a suggestion that he was shot by his own men as he was unpopular.  He was made a permanent sergeant in 1907. Shanagher was buried in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon.

Sergeant John Young was based at Killyon Barracks. Aged 42 he had 19 years service and was buried St. Mary’s Cemetery, Navan. Young was a native of Cavan and had served in Down and Armagh before being appointed to Meath. He married in 1921 and was made a full sergeant in 1913.

Constable James Hickey, Kells, was buried St. Mary’s Cemetery, Navan, aged 49 and had 25 years service. His body was found on the centre of the road. A native of Limerick he had served in Kells for some time. He had been made a permanent sergeant in 1907 but was reduced back to constable in 1911.

Constable Richard McHale, Crossakiel, was buried St. Mary’s Cemetery, Navan, aged 22 and had 3 years service. His body was found on the centre of the road.  

Constable James Cleary, Moynalty, aged 28, had 7 years service. He was wounded at Ashbourne but died shortly after and was buried in Ballyglunin, Tuam.

Constable James Gormley

Constable James Gormely, Longwood, aged 25, had 4 years service and was buried St. Mary’s Cemetery, Navan. James Gormley, was born 23rd February 1891, Ballintogher, Sligo. He worked in farming until the 2nd of September 1912 when aged twenty one he joined the RIC.  Gormley went to the RIC depot in Dublin’s Phoenix Park where he underwent basic light infantry training. He served most of his career in County Meath listing postings in Slane and Enfield over the next three years. In April 1916 James was stationed at Longwood until ordered to report to Slane as part of additional security measures demanded by the Marquise of Slane as a result of the Rising. At 11 a.m. on the morning of the 28th of April James armed with his RIC Enfield Carbine and Webley Revolver boarded one of a convoy of cars provided by the local gentry and set off in the direction of Dublin. At Kilmoon they halted and were told by locals that “the rebels were in Ashbourne and eager to fight them’’. At approximately 12.30 the column pulled up short of the Rath Cross roads and the RIC began to disembark. Constable Gormley was shot and died instantly. Gormely’s body remained overnight in the barracks before being taken to Navan. He was buried with full military honors two days later on the 30th of April in the RIC plot in Navan. James Gormely’s brother was an active member of the Ballintogher Volunteers, many of whom turned out for a Requiem Mass for the dead constable.

RIC Grave Navan

Seventeen constables were wounded including Patrick Conneely, Thomas Foley, Francis Kenny of Athboy Barracks; Tim Finian of Bohermeen Barracks; Michael J. Duggan of Crossakiel; William E. Johns of Navan; Henry Lecky and Henry McGann of Oldcastle, Patrick Drinan of Nobber; John Murphy of Robinstown; Patrick McKeon and Peter Murtagh of Slane and Martin Mulvihill and Francis P. Glennon of Trim Barracks.

For their action at Ashbourne a number of police men were awarded medals. Sergeant William O’Connell of Athboy was given the King’s Police Medal. Sergeant John Griffin of Bohermeen was awarded the George’s Cross.  Constable Eugene Bratton of Navan was awarded the King’s Police Medal. The night before the battle Bratton was based at Navan and did a lot of scouting on his motor bike. On the morning of 28th he was in civilian attire as he was driving one of the cars. He was driving the District Inspector in his car and was at the rear of the convoy. When the fighting started Bratton was held up by a group of rebels at the rear of the convoy.  Bratton managed to escape, obtain a bicycle and cycled to Balrath barrack where he phoned for re-enforcements from Navan and Drogheda. He then returned to Ashbourne where he took possession of the District Inspector’s body and brought it back to the widow. Bratton was brought to Buckingham Palace for his medal presentation. He resented this but had no choice. 

Thomas Keighary was a constable in Dunshaughlin who fought at Ashbourne. He was killed by British forces in December 1920. As a sergeant he had access to the County Inspector’s office and he stole permits forms, stamped them and passed them to the IRA. On the night of 1st December 1920 news came to the Dayroom at the RIC Barracks, Navan, that a dispatch rider had broken down at Kilcarn. Sergeant Keighary was called in to take charge of the tender which was being dispatched to rescue the rider.  There did not seem to be any reason for Sergeant Keighary to be called in and detailed with this job. When the tender arrived at Kilcarn there was no dispatch rider there. Two military lorries arrived and one of the RIC sergeants fired two shots in the air. The military opened fire on Sergeant Keighery who was standing in the door of the Post Office, killing him immediately.  A Navan RIC man believed that it was a frame up by the military and Head Constable to get rid of Keighary. His widow received an enhanced pension of £80.

A very good book which gives a lot of information on the RIC at Ashbourne is “The Rising Dead R.I.C. and D.M. P.” by Ray Bateson.

The strange case of James Quigley

James Quigley was born in 1869, the son of Richard and Alice Quigley nee Ward at Newbliss, Co. Monaghan. He was trained for the priesthood, attending secondary school at St. Macartan’s Seminary and then went to Liverpool to work as a clerk. In 1892 Quigley joined the French Foreign Legion but did not participate in any fighting and he jumped ship in the Suez Canal. He made his way to the British Consulate in Port Said, thirty miles across the desert. He arrived penniless and the Consulate said he would have to turn him over to the French authorities but gave him a chance to disappear. Quigley wandered the town until he saw a sign in English. The people there helped him until two weeks later they got him a working passage back to Liverpool. He taught French, Maths and Science for a period in Liverpool before returning to Ireland.

In 1904 Quigley obtained an engineering diploma from Queen’s College, Galway. He was assistant surveyor in Monaghan for three years and then he became County Surveyor of Meath in 1907 and served in that position until 1923. 

In 1911 he took holidays in Lisdoonvarna where he met Linda Heyns  and they married three months later. They had four children Richard who became a priest, Edward who became a doctor and James and Paul who became engineers.

Quigley joined the Irish Volunteers in Navan in 1913 and became secretary. In 1914 he became county secretary of the Meath National Volunteers.  He addressed a meeting of the Volunteers at the hill of Lloyd at Kells with John Redmond. Quigley urged the Volunteers to fight for Ireland and only Ireland.

On the 28th of April 1916 Quigley was in the vicinity of the Battle of Ashbourne and was observed by a number of policemen. In June 1916 he was court-martialled for “conveying information to a number of persons who were taking part in an armed rebellion”. Quigley said he had neither hand, act or part in the rebellion and that he had no sympathy with the rebels. He said he only came upon the scene by chance. The police came across Quigley on the road between Balrothery and Kilmoon. He was known as he held the position of County Surveyor. The police again met Quigley near Kilmoon. He was seen at the Battle of Ashbourne making his way to the rebel’s position in the woods. A number of policemen said Quigley was witnessed in conversation with Thomas Ashe with whom he had shaken hands. Quigley’s house had been searched and three rifles and ammunition was found.  Quigley would not be examined under oath but he would give a statement. Quigley said the Volunteers had no policy and he had proposed a resolution of loyalty to the King at the first meeting. He did not resign but took no further part in the activities of the Volunteers. On the day he was attending a meeting in Ardee and returning form that meeting he met the police.  He said he did not shake hands with the rebel leader and had never belonged to any Sinn Féin organisation. P.J. McQuillan, publican and farmer of Navan said he was a member of the committee of Navan Volunteers but none of the members had anything to do with the Sinn Féin outbreak at Ashbourne. “They were all opposed to the principle of Sinn Féin.” Joseph Conroy, a ganger with Meath County Council said Quigley had given him instructions on the road between Balrath and Duleek just before noon on the day. Patrick White M.P. said Quigley had always been a supporter of the Irish Parliamentary Party and a subscriber to their funds. Meath County Council had passed a resolution bearing testimony to Quigley’s good character and that the council believed there was no grounds for the arrest. They declared they “refused to believe that such a manly, generous hearted official would have been part of the Ashbourne outrage.”  He was found not guilty and released.

Later Joe Lawless said that Quigley had met him at Ashbourne and told him he was trying to warn the Volunteers of the approaching police convoy.

James Quigley, hiding behind hat at his trial

Quigley was arrested by the military in September 1920 and imprisoned at Ballykinlar Camp where he taught other inmates surveying. He remained in jail until Christmas 1921.

Quigley was appointed Chief Roads Engineer in the Department of Local Government in 1923. He retired in 1934. He visited the sixth International Road Congress in America in 1930. He ran for Senate, but lost. Quigley died in October 1941 and was buried in Killeevan, Co. Monaghan.

There is an interesting article by Seán Condon on some of Quigley’s activities in the Navan and District Historical Society Journal 3.

March 2016 Moynalty

Paddy Woods, Carnaross, writes: “The Loughan and Mullaghea banner was carried by the volunteers to the Kieran Well Festival on the first Sunday in August 1917. The Loughan fife and drum band and the bandmaster John Farnan from Tierworker followed the banner. Ten thousand people attended the ceremonies on that day and afterwards, Countess Markievicz addressed the huge gathering. On the way back to Loughan Hall where the banner and musical instruments were stored the bandmaster was arrested by the R.I.C. at Nugent’s Bridge. The banner was made by James Nevin, a tailor who lived in Loughan. He was by all accounts a reputable and skilful tailor. The main feature of the banner is a very good image of Thomas Ashe, references to the four provinces and a united Ireland and free Ireland. Given that it is a hundred years old, it is very striking and colourful. The banner disappeared for a number of years, until the late Brian Keelan retrieved it. It needed repairs and loving attention from skilled seamstresses and no better place to go with it than to the nuns in the Convent of Mercy, Kells. It came out almost restored to its pristine condition, and then Brian Keelan returned it to its rightful owners, the Nevin family of Loughan. For a long time Jim Nevin looked after this wonderful reminder of the Rising. But Jim realised that this was unique and historical banner needed a permanent home and he found it in Moyalty Museum. We, in a Carnaross, Loughan and Mullaghea are happy that the best place for the banner is in a Museum, and we wish to thank our neighbours in Moynalty for receiving it into their Museum. Thanks to Jim Nevin for guarding it down the years and thanks to the late Brian Keelan for his foresight in asking the nuns in Eureka to restore it.

Presented to the Museum by the Nevin family in March 2016.

 They fought in Dublin.

A number of men who fought in Dublin in 1916 later settled in Meath or had some connection to the county.

GPO Dublin

Patrick Joseph Clinch, later to be Meath County Council Cathaoirleach, was in the GPO during the Rising and was injured in the chest and arm.

Clinch was born in Crossmaglen, County Armagh in 1889. Clinch joined the Irish Volunteers in Liverpool and in early 1916 travelled with a group of Volunteers via ferry to the North Wall and then went to Larkfield House where they became known as the Kimmage Garrison.

Clinch serving under Frank Thornton, was stationed at the AOH, American Alliance Hall, North Frederick Street. This group reported to Liberty Hall on Easter Monday morning and was divided up with Clinch dispatched to the GPO. He was sent, under the command of Captain Craig, with a small party to hold an outpost at Annesley Bridge, Fairview early on Monday morning and held that position until its evacuation on Wednesday when he returned to the GPO. Clinch was wounded in Moore Street during the evacuation of the GPO. Hit in the breast and upper arm he and a number of other wounded retired to a disused stable where there was a First Aid post.  The wounded men and about ten others were in the charge of Seán McEntee and occupied the stable during Friday night and Saturday morning.

After surrendering in O’Connell Street Clinch was brought to Richmond Barracks and was then interned in Frongoch until December 1916. Following his release he became involved in organisational work with the Irish Volunteers in Louth and Meath. He moved to Navan where he opened a shop. He said he was on active service with the Navan Company from January 1919. He took part in the attack on Lismullen (Dillonsbridge) RIC barracks in November 1919. His main role was in training, intelligence and organisation. Clinch took an active part in the Republican Courts and local politics. Wounded during his police activities he spent four weeks in St. Vincent’s Hospital for a bullet extraction. He was Chairman of the North Meath Republican Courts and was involved in the investigation of the murder of Mark Clinton. His stationery and tobacconist shop in Navan was raided on a number of occasions by British forces. A bomb was thrown though the front plate glass window. He eventually had to close the business. Captured in March 1920 he was imprisoned in Mountjoy where he went on hunger strike for sixteen days. On his release he spent fourteen days in the Mater Hospital.

Ad for Clinch’s Shop with thanks to Meath Chronicle

Laying of wreath at the grave of Patrick Clinch, Sutton Cemetery,  21 July 2016

Research by Michael O’Brien

Photo left to right : Noel French, Cllr Francis Deane, Cllr Maria Murphy, Sean Clinch, grandson of Patrick Clinch,  Gary McGrath, great grandson of Patrick Clinch,  Margaret McGrath, Maura Gough, Phyllis Clinch, granddaughters of Patrick Clinch and Michael O’Brien.

Patrick Clinch

Following the 1920 local elections Clinch was elected as Chairman of Meath County Council. It recognised the Dáil and had to have its meetings on the run to stop disruption by the British forces. In February 1921 attempts were made to remove the County Secretary John Grennan, who was loyal to the British administration and would not carry out the rulings of the Sinn Féin dominated council. In 1921 Clinch went on the run from British forces. After the Truce he started a shop in Thomas Street, Dublin but this ran into financial difficulties.

In December 1921 as Chairman Clinch advocated the ratification of the proposed Treaty. His attendance at Council meetings was sporadic as he was on the run. He took the Anti-Treaty side in the Civil War but appears to have not taken an active part, but in May 1922 he did provide a safe house for Patrick Keating and Tom Clarke of Navan who had escaped from Dundalk Barracks and were on the run. In 1923 he joined the Garda Siochana and rose to the rank of Superintendent but resigned in 1924 and later re-joined as a sergeant. He retired from his position in 1944 and in his later life lived at Sutton, Dublin. Clinch died in 1978 aged nearly 90.

Joseph Kennedy lived at Raystown, Ashbourne in the 1930s and 40s. Born in 1881 he joined the Volunteers in Mullingar and then became a fitter at Broadstone Railway Station, Dublin. In early April 1916 he used his position to smuggle bayonets and despatches to Larry Lardner in Athenry in preparation for the rising in Galway.  He was a Volunteer in Unit 1 Battalion, Company B Company, Dublin Brigade. He was mobilised on Sunday at Fr. Matthew Park but was then sent home.  He took part in barricading the street at North Brunswick Street and was transferred later in the week to the Four Courts Hotel. On Saturday morning he was ordered to protect the approach to Headquarters at Fr. Matthew Hall and remained on duty until the surrender later that day. He was interned at Knutsford and Frongoch until July or August 1916. He rejoined the Irish Volunteers upon release and that he was involved in election work in 1918. He joined the armoury section of the company and took part in the repair of arms. Kennedy took part in a raid on the offices of the Irish Independent. An attack was made on Black and Tan lorries at Findlater’s Place. He assisted in preparing Fowler Hall for refugees from Belfast. In the Truce Period Kennedy claimed that he was on guard duty in Fowler Hall and that at the outbreak of the Civil War he was in the defence of Fowler Hall and later Barry’s and Hammam hotels. He stated that he was mobilised for an attack on Broom Bridge. He applied for a military pension but later withdrew the application as he was in a good enough financial situation. He did apply for his medals “as I would value medals far more.” During the Emergency Kennedy served with the Local Defence Force.

Frongoch Camp

James Russell lived at Ballymadun, Ashbourne, County Meath in the 1930s and 40s. Born in 1880 he became a member of the Volunteers and fought at the South Dublin Union during the rising. He was imprisoned at Knutsford, Wandsworth and Frongoch where he was a cook in the north camp. He worked part-time as a warble fly inspector in the early 1940s for Dublin County Council. He died in December 1947.

Patrick Cole lived at Arodstown, Summerhill from the 1930s until his death in 1965.
Born in 1895 he joined the Volunteers in 1914 and served in North King Street and Church Street, Dublin during the Rising as member of the Dublin Brigade. Having received no orders on Easter Monday Cole decided to go out on his own on Tuesday and he fell in with the company occupying positions on North King Street and Church Street under Captain Finian Lynch. He was arrested and imprisoned in Stafford Prison and Frongoch. He was released on 23rd December 1916. He moved to Summerhill, Meath about 1918 and said he served with the Kilmore and Kilcloon companies during the War of Independence. Bridget Coloe, a widow, and her two sons, Edward and Richard, were living at Arodstown in the 1911 census. 

John Callaghan served as a private in the Mechanical Transport Corps, Gormanstown Camp, Co. Meath, in the early 1920s. His Dublin address was 9 Newfoundland Street, Dublin. Callaghan was born in 1880 and joined the IRB in 1910 and the Irish Volunteers on their formation in 1913. He was also in the Hibernian Rifles.  He fought as a Volunteer in Unit 2 Battalion, Dublin Brigade, at Jacob’s Biscuit Factory in Bishop Street, Dublin during the Rising. Callaghan escaped capture following the Rising and did not take an active part in the War of Independence. He enlisted in the National Forces on 12 September 1922 at Portobello Barracks and was discharged at the rank of Private in 1928. He died in 1934 aged 49 and was a labourer at that time.

Éamon “Bob” Price was born on 10 October 1891, the date of Parnell’s funeral. A member of the Gaelic League Price fought in Jacob’s Biscuit Factory in 1916. He was interned in Frongoch and later acted as Secretary to the First Dáil Cabinet. He served as a Major General in the Irish Army until 1929. He married Máire Nic Shiublaigh in 1928 and they settled in Laytown. His sister, Leslie, married Tom Barry, the noted West Cork freedom fighter.  Price died in 1951. Máire Nic Shiublaigh was one of the founder members of the Irish Theatre in 1903 and was leading lady on the opening night of the Abbey Theatre, when she played Cathleen Ni Houlihan.  She appeared on Broadway and was on stage during the famous Playboy riots in 1911 in New York and Philadelphia. Nic Shiublaigh joined the Gaelic League in 1898 and Inghinidhe na hÉireann in 1900.  In 1916 she served with Cumann na mBan in Jacob’s Biscuit Factory. Following her move to Laytown she was well known in the amateur drama circles in Meath and Louth. Máire Nic Shiublaigh died in Drogheda in 1958.

Peter Carroll served in North Earl Street as part of the GPO Garrison during Easter Week 1916. Peter Carroll lived in Baltrasna, Ashbourne in the 1950s and 60s and then moved to England where he died in 1992 aged 99 years.

Dudley Carroll fought in Boland’s Mills during the Rising, surrendered at Mount Street and was interned in Frongoch. He served as a sergeant in the National Army until 1924. He moved to Main Street, Athboy in 1925 to work with Mr. Browne as a saddler. He married Anne Browne, eldest daughter of Thomas Browne of Athboy, in 1928 at St. James’, Athboy, and by the 1950s the couple had moved to Dublin. 

Dr.  Henry Russell MacNabb lived at Fox Lodge in Ratoath from 1939 until his death in 1969. A medical doctor from Belfast MacNabb was a member of Sinn Féin from 1906 and the Irish Volunteers from 1914. He assisted in bringing Liam Mellows to Dublin in March 1916 following Mellows’s escape from England. During the 1916 Easter Rising MacNabb served in a medical capacity in the GPO area. He continued his involvement during the War of Independence and served in the National Army until 1924.

Doing my bit for Ireland – Margaret Skinnider

Skinnider in boy’s clothes

Margaret Skinnider was born in Coatsbridge, Glasgow in 1893 to Irish parents. Her father was James Skinnider from Monaghan and her mother was Jane Dowd from Meath. While young Margaret visited her father’s home county.

Trained as a Mathematics teacher Skinnider joined Cumann na mBan in Glasgow.  She became familiar with weapons and joined a women’s rifle club where she became a first class shot. She transported explosives from Glasgow to Dublin under the instructions of Countess Markievicz.

At the outbreak of the rising she became attached to an Irish Citizen Army  group at St. Stephen’s Green and took up a position as a sniper on the roof of the College of Surgeons. She later recalled  “More than once I saw the man I aimed at fall.”  She was shot three times during an attempt to burn down houses in Harcourt Street and her companions brought her back to the College of Surgeons, where she lay until the surrender. Taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital she spent a number of weeks in hospital and then returned home to Glasgow. She came back to Dublin and later went to America where her memories of 1916 were published. Skinnider was active during the War of Independence and was arrested and imprisoned.

In the Civil War she took the Anti-Treaty side. Skinnider resumed her teaching career and became deeply involved in the Irish National Teacher’s Organisation. President of the INTO in 1856 she also served on the executive council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Retiring in 1961 Skinnider died in 1971 and was buried in the Republican Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery.

When she applied for a military pension in 1925 she was turned down as the Pension Act was “applicable to soldiers as generally understood in the masculine sense”. Skinnider was granted a pension in 1938 under a different government.

Skinnider attended the unveiling of the plaque at Rossin Bridge to the memory of Philip Clarke in 1964.

They fought with Maynooth Volunteers

A number of men who fought with the Maynooth Volunteers in Dublin in 1916 later settled in Meath or had some connection to the county.

Liam O’Regan was one of a group from Maynooth who marched from Kildare to Dublin in 1916 to join the Rising.  His name is associated in records with Climber Hall, Kells. 

Liam O’Regan (William Regan) was born 14th February 1888 in County Waterford, his father was William and his mother, Anne White. Liam worked as a shop assistant in Domhnall Ua Buachalla’s hardware store in Maynooth. Ua Buachalla was very involved in nationalist movements and O’Regan joined the Irish Volunteers in 1914. Ua Buachalla’s hardware shop became a hiding place for the Volunteer’s weapons.

Domhnall Ua Buachalla

Prior to the rising O’Regan spent a lot of his spare time filling buckshot cartridges. The Volunteers in Maynooth were informed of the upcoming rising on Holy Thursday night, however the countermanding order came and the Volunteers were left confused.

In the afternoon of Easter Monday news reached Ua Buachalla from a bread van driver that the rising had commenced. The Maynooth Volunteers assembled at the back of Ua Buachalla’s shop on Monday evening and decided to march to Dublin. There were thirteen men in the Maynooth group exclusive of officers. They decided to go through Maynooth College first to seek the College President’s blessing but Monsignor Hogan unsuccessfully advised them against taking part in the rising. As they marched down the Main Street they were first accosted by a local man who was very drunk and then by two RIC men. The two RIC men proceeded to follow the group but were dissuaded from doing that by the threat of being shot. The men proceeded to follow the Royal Canal to Leixlip and from there took to the railway tracks.

Liam O’Regan

Leaving Maynooth at 7.15 p.m. they reached Glasnevin Cemetery at 2.00 a.m. on Tuesday morning and rested there until 6.00 a.m. They then went to the GPO and arrived there at 8.00 a.m. being met by James Connolly. They were the only company from the country to successfully get into Dublin and join the rebels in Easter Week. The Maynooth men were detailed to provide relief to the Citizen Army men who were surrounded at the Evening Mail Office. O’Regan was detailed to Parliament Street and took up position on the roof of the Royal Exchange Hotel covering the party in the Mail office. He remained there until 3 p.m., firing on the military who were attacking the Mail office. He returned to the GPO and was given a position there until the evacuation on Saturday evening. He undertook various jobs including dispatch work, guarding windows, barricading, reconnoitring enemy positions, assisting in carrying wounded including James Connolly to Moore Street after the evacuation of the GPO The group went in to Henry Place and then into Moore Street. O’Regan assisted in the breaking through the walls in Moore Street.  He surrendered on Sunday and was interned at Frongoch until the end of August or the beginning of September.

O’Regan rejoined the Irish Volunteers and was involved in collecting arms and carrying dispatches. In 1920 O’Regan took part in the destruction of the Maynooth Town Hall, Maynooth RIC Barracks, Leixlip RIC Barracks, Celbridge RIC Barracks and Celbridge Courthouse and Donadea RIC Barracks. He was arrested by British forces but he managed to escape. He also took part in breaking bridges, railway line, Belfast Boycott work and making munitions. He was arrested in July 1922 and interned until August.

Florence O’Regan, Domhnall Ua Buachalla and Liam O’Regan

O’Regan married Mary Florence Bolton in Kilcloon on 30th April 1923. After his marriage he lived at Climber Hall, Kells, and worked at a local grocery shop, Cooneys, until it closed in 1938. He lived at Climber Hall until at least 1939. In 1939 he was awarded a pension for his service during 1916 and the War of Independence. He felt he was awarded a smaller pension amount than his Maynooth comrades and appealed the decision. In 1941 O’Regan received one of the medals struck to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1916 rising.

O’Regan moved to Wexford where he worked with Pearse Brothers. O’Regan died on 16th May 1965 in St. Anne’s Hospital Dublin and was buried in St. Ibar’s Cemetery in Wexford. He and Florence had only one boy, Liam Óg, born in Dublin on Feb. 20, 1924 and died on July 13, 1948 in Wexford, St. Peter’s Square.  He was born with a heart condition. O’Regan’s widow, Florence, continued to reside in Wexford. O’Regan is commemorated on the 1916 monument in Maynooth Square. 

Matthew Maguire lived at Brownstown, Dunboyne, in the 1930s and 40s. Born in 1884 he joined the Maynooth Company of Volunteers and served in Dublin during the Rising. His brother, John, also took part in the rising. Leaving Maynooth at 7.15 p.m. the Volunteers reached Glasnevin Cemetery at 2.00 a.m. on Tuesday morning and rested there until 6.00 a.m. They then went to the GPO and arrived there at 8.00 a.m. The Maynooth men were detailed to provide relief to the Citizen Army men who were surrounded at the Evening Mail Office. They then returned to the GPO until the evacuation on Saturday evening.  Maguire was interned at Stafford, Wormwood and Frongoch. He died in 1947.

Maguire penned a poem to commemorate the Rising:

“We but mustered a few from the plains of Kildare

And bravely we fought for dear Mother Erin

Though forced to surrender, not conquered we were

But strong in our hearts burn the wish to be free,

And we pray for the day to soon come again

And the chance once again to prove we’re men.”

They fought in Galway in 1916

A number of men who fought in Galway in 1916 later settled in Meath or had some connection to the county.

Pádraic Ó Máille

Galway born, Pádraic Ó Máille, (Patrick O’Malley), lived at Muintireoin, Ratoath, County Meath in the 1930s and 1940s. Born at Muintir Eoin, Maam Valley, Co. Galway in 1878 he was a founder member of the Gaelic League and Sinn Féin in Galway. He worked as a farmer and commercial traveller. Ó Máille was mobilised at Gort on April 24th 1916 but when he arrived he was told the review was called off.  Ó Máille proceeded to Athenry where he was ordered to mobilise the Volunteers in Connemara. Arrested by British forces in Galway on Tuesday 25 April he was imprisoned on a British Naval vessel. He was shipped to Cobh where he was taken off and sent to Richmond Barracks, Dublin.  He was sent to Wandsworth Prison and then to Frongoch camp. Released in December 1916 he was re-arrested in February 1917 and deported to England. Ó Máille escaped from England and in 1917 campaigned for Joe McGuinness and Éamon de Valera in bye-elections. In May 1918, an attempt was made to arrest him and his brother at their home but in a fight he evaded capture and went on the run.

Ó Máille was elected as Sinn Féin M.P. for Galway Connemara in the 1918 general election and so was one of the T.D.s of the first Dáil in 1919. Ó Máille managed to evade capture by taking on various disguises while he moved around Dublin, Kildare and Meath. He took part in the burning of Leenane RIC Barracks in 1920. In reprisal for the execution of Volunteer Whelan attacks were mounted on British forces in Clifden in early 1921. Two of the British forces were killed in that action. He moved the column to his home but on 23 April 1921 the Black and Tans and RIC attacked. The battle lasted from 5.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. but the Volunteers had to retreat when reinforcements arrived for the British forces. Ó Máille’s home was burned in retaliation. He remained on active service ceased until the Truce of 11 July 1921. He married Eileen, daughter of Martin Acton, a farmer from Clifden, in July 1921.

Ó Máille supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty. In May-June 1922 he was part of a Dáil Committee which attempted to prevent civil war. A preliminary conference to establish a new party, Cumann na nGaedheal, was organised in Dublin in December 1922. During the dayÓ Máille and his colleague, Seán Hales, were making their way to the Ormonde Hotel when they were attacked by Anti-Treaty forces, with Ó Máille being seriously wounded and Hales killed. Despite his wounds Ó Máille managed to drive Hales to the nearest hospital. The following morning, in retaliation Liam Mellows, a former T.D. for Meath North, was executed along with three other prisoners, Rory O’Connor, Joseph McKelvey and Richard Barrett. Recognising the need for reconciliation the following year Ó Máille told a meeting in Tuam that he was happy to the shake the hand of the person who put the bullets in him. He wrote to the Mellows family and received a reply from Mrs Sarah Mellows and Barney Mellows, mother and brother of the executed man. “We know full well that you had neither hand nor part in planning or being a party to the executions, if so they may be called, of December 8 1922. We wish that once and for all, idle and slanderous tongues may be stopped and to assure you we feel very sorry that you should have suffered so much.”

He was critical of the proposed Boundary Commission and resigned from Cumann na nGaedheal. He tried to found a new political party called Clann Éireann in 1926. He lost his seat in 1927 and later joined Fianna Fáil.

Ó Máille contested the 1932 election in Dublin County for Fianna Fáil but failed to get elected. Smears were spread that he had selected Liam Mellows for execution but this would have been impossible as he was seriously wounded in hospital at the time. The Mellows family denied the smears.

Ó Máille farmed for a period near Ratoath and lived at Ballymore House, which he erected.  He served on the Meath County Committee of Agriculture and on the County Vocational Committee.

Ó Máille served as a Fianna Fáil Senator from 1934 to 1936 and was re-elected to the new Seánad in 1938 on the Agricultural Panel. From 1939 until his death in 1946 he was re-appointed to the Seánad as a nominee of the Taoiseach Éamon de Valera. He was Leas Cathaoirleach of the Seánad from 1938 to 1942. Ó Máille died at St. Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoighre, in 1946. Following his death his widow, Eileen, moved to Kiltiernan, Co. Dublin.

Liam Mellows later TD for North Meath

Michael Commins lived at Kilgraigue, Dunboyne/Killeaney, Maynooth, Co. Meath from the 1930s until his death in 1979. He worked with the Irish Land Commission until 1940 when he was given a small farm by the Land Commission. Born in 1891 he joined the Clarenbridge Company of the Irish Volunteers. He was mobilised after 11 o’clock Mass on Easter Sunday but demobilised until Monday when the company met at Killeeneen. Principally engaged in scouting Commins took part in capture of Clarenbridge RIC Barrack under the command of Liam Mellows in Easter Week. The company also had a skirmish at Oranmore but disbanded at Limepark, south of Athenry, on Saturday morning. Arrested on 3rd May Commins was imprisoned in Arbour Hill, Stafford Prison and Frongoch until 17th August. On his return from prison he re-joined the Clarenbridge Volunteers but moved to Manse, Maynooth in late 1918 and joined the Maynooth/Kilcock Company.

Michael Conniffe

Michael Conniffe lived in Beggstown, Dunboyne from 1956 until his death in Navan Hospital in 1979. Conniffe was born near Oranmore in 1889. He became a member of the Abbey Players in 1911 and performed in productions by Yeats, Lady Gregory and Synge. Conniffe shared a dressing room with Sean Connolly, one of the first men killed in the Easter Rising.  Before the 1916 Rising Conniffe returned to Galway to take part in the action under Liam Mellows. Conniffe undertook intelligence work after the Rising and never returned to the Abbey stage. He assisted in promoting the Taibhdhearc in Galway and produced an Irish version of Lady Gregory’s The Workhouse Ward.   At the age of 60, in 1949, Conniffe married Rita ‘Kitty’ Monaghan In 1956 the Conniffe family transferred to Dunboyne under a Land Commission resettlement programme. Conniffe published his only play, The Music of the Surf, when he was 82 years old.

They fought in Enniscorthy in 1916

William Joseph Murphy

A number of men who fought in Enniscorthy in 1916 later settled in Meath or had some connection to the county.

William Joseph Murphy was born in 1893, the son of James and Mary Murphy of Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. His father was a coach painter. William became an apprentice ironmonger.

Murphy joined the Volunteers at their formation in 1913. Murphy was a member of the Shannon Company, Battalion 1, North Wexford Brigade. Mobilised on Wednesday evening at 9.00 p.m. Murphy went to the Athenaeum, the headquarters for the Volunteers during the Rising, on Thursday morning and was dispatched to Turret Rocks where he sniped on the RIC Barrack from a distance of 400 to 500 yards. He was a messenger and also involved in the cutting of telegraph wires at Railway Hill. He personally carried an official copy of the Proclamation of 1916. He remained in the Athenaeum until the surrender on Sunday and went home on Monday.

Due to conflicting messages coming from Dublin there was considerable confusion in Wexford as to whether the rising was going ahead or not. On Wednesday a message from James Connolly arrived and the Enniscorthy Volunteers took over the town, making the Athenaeum Theatre, their headquarters. Under the command of Robert Brennan the Volunteers blocked the roads and the railway line. They surrounded the RIC Barrack and shot at it but did not attempt an attack as they believed that the police would surrender. The Volunteers occupied the town for five days but the only casualties were four wounded.

On Saturday news arrived from Dublin of the general surrender. The Volunteers would not believe it and had to obtain confirmation from Dublin. On Monday 1st May the Enniscorthy Volunteers surrendered unconditionally. 

Murphy was arrested at work on Tuesday interned in Richmond Barracks, Wormwood Scrubs, Stafford Gaol and Frongoch Camp for fourteen weeks. As a result of his involvement in the Rising he was dismissed from his employment as a manager of the arms department at J. O’Donoghue Ltd, where he had worked for ten years. Because of his work he secured a large amount of arms and ammunitions for the Volunteers. Following the Rising, he joined up again and was involved in political work and was appointed on the Urban District Council on the Sinn Féin/Labour ticket. Murphy served as a local councillor for seven years, despite  harassment from the British military and RIC.  His house was raided a number of times. Murphy was also involved in collecting arms and ammunition.

Murphy was married on 24 February 1925 to Brigid Hayes. Murphy lived at 2 New Range, Shannon, Enniscorthy. He moved to Navan in 1936 living first at Brews Hill and then at St. Senans, Commons Road, Navan. He was wemployed as a travelling salesman by Messers C. P. McGlorney, Murdochs and Hodges, Dublin and Bray Builder Providers.  He also established a shop on the Commons Road. Murphy took a keen interest in croppy graves and 1798 memorials in Meath. Murphy died at his Dublin residence in 1959 and his wife Brigid died in 1985.

The Atheneum, Enniscorthy

Patrick Joseph O’Byrne (sometimes Captain Burke) fought in Enniscorthy but later lived at Newbridge and Dublin and then Mornington, Drogheda, County Meath until 1937 when he moved back to Enniscorthy. His widow moved back to Mornington after P.J.’s death and lived at a house called St. Aidan’s.

Born in 1898 Byrne worked as a law clerk and insurance agent and then as a commercial traveller and publisher of calendars and other Irish themed publications. He was a member of the Fianna Boy Scouts from 1912 and then automatically became a member of the Volunteers. In 1916 Byrne was working for Mr. Moffat, solicitor in Enniscorthy. The office closed on Tuesday afternoon and Byrne made his way to the Volunteers. He took part in the Easter Rising in Enniscorthy and acted as Assistant Transport Officer. Arrested and imprisoned at Wellington Barracks he was released a few weeks later because of his youth. In 1920 he lost his employment as a result of his involvement in the IRA. After an attempted raid for arms Byrne was arrested and served two months in prison. In April 1920 as a group of IRA men approached Clonroche RIC Barracks a bomb went off unexpectedly in his possession and injured his feet. Byrne was taken to Carlow and on to Dublin where he was operated on. His wounds later resulted in him having to be laid up in bed on a number of occasions. In 1920 he transferred to the County Carlow Brigade where he encouraged the County Council to remain loyal to the Dáil. Serving under the name of Burke, he took part in IRA attacks on RIC barracks at Goresbridge, Borris and Bagenalstown. In July 1920 he transferred back to Wexford where he became very active in the establishment of the North Wexford Republican Courts. He acted as District Court Clerk in Gorey until 1925. Byrne married Kathleen Durnin in 1924 and died in 1967.

Meathman’s Shop – Last Stronghold of Rebels

Moore Street and the surrender of the rebels

Plunkett’s Shop, Moore Street

About 1912 Pat Plunkett, a jarvey from Hawkinstown, Ardcath, opened a butcher’s shop at No. 16 Moore Street, Dublin. Patrick Plunkett, born 1889, was the eldest son of John and Mary Plunkett, nee Caffrey, who were married in 1888. The couple had fourteen children but five died at a young age. The family lived at Ballinlough, Beauparc before settling at Hawkinstown, Ardcath. At No. 16 pigs were kept at the rear of the building. Patrick Plunkett employed a maid and had a number of upstairs tenants including the Doyle and McDonagh families.

Patrick Plunkett

From Wednesday of Easter Week the British began to bombard the O’Connell Street area. Patrick Plunkett decided to evacuate his wife, Mary, and their young children; seven year old Cis, five year old Evelyn and three year old John; to his parents’ home at Hawkinstown. As conditions worsened Plunkett’s tenants, John and Teresa Doyle fled the building, only to be shot in the street outside. John Doyle later died of his injuries but Teresa survived.

In a horse-drawn cart, the mother and children fled the bombs and the gunfire that laid waste to the city centre. Pat is believed to have remained on the family’s premises to care for the pigs that was essential to the business. In subsequent years John stayed with his grandmother and attended Ardcath National School for a brief period. 

Heavy bombardment of the GPO forced the Irish rebels to abandon the building and make their way to Moore Street under heavy machine gunfire. The Sherwood Foresters and other British troops had constructed a barricade at the end of Moore Street. Taking refuge in Dunne’s Butchers, No 5. Moore Street, the rebels attempted to escape travelling by the dangerous streets by tunnelling their way through the houses, demolishing parts of the intervening walls. 

They ended their evacuation at 16 Moore Street. The badly wounded James Connolly was taken to a backroom where he lay on an iron bedstead. The bed sheets were ripped up to stem the flow of blood from Connolly’s wounds. Later the Plunkett family would receive new sheets from Cumann na mBan.

Five of the seven signatories of the Proclamation, James Connolly, Padraig Pearse, James Plunkett, Thomas Clarke and Seán McDermott organised a meeting on Saturday morning to decide what should happen and voted three to two to surrender. Pearse drafted an offer of surrender on a piece of cardboard. This piece of cardboard was left in the house and discovered by the Plunkett family when they returned. The piece of cardboard was the back of a photograph of Mary Plunkett. This artefact was held by the family until 1967 when it was sold to the National Library. A silver flask bearing the name “P.H. Pearse” was discovered by Annie O’Flanagan, an employee of the family. 

This draft of surrender was rejected by the British who wanted an unconditional surrender. A final draft of surrender was carried by Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell to British commander Brigadier General Lowe. At 2.30 p.m. Pearse formally surrendered to Lowe near the British barricade.

Mary Plunkett attempted to claim for damages from the Dublin Fire and Property Losses Commission for an outside light, a child’s cot and a drawing room table. However her claim was late and she received nothing.

The building passed out of the Plunkett family’s hands in the 1990s. Following plans to demolish the row of buildings a campaign was organised to save a number of houses on Moore Street, including No. 16, as a memorial of 1916. Number 14-17 Moore Street were designated a national monument in 2007 by the Irish government and acquired by the state in 2014. It is to be transformed into a commemorative centre.

Draft of Surrender Note


H.Q. Moore Street

believing that the glorious

stand which has been made

by the soldiers of Irish freedom

during the past five

days in Dublin has been sufficient

to gain recognition of

Ireland’s national claim at an

international peace conference, and

desirous of preventing further

slaughter of the civilian population,

and to save the lives of as many as possible of our followers,

the Members of the Provisional Government

here present have a greed

by a majority to open negotiations

with the British commander.

P.H. Pearse

Commandant General,

Commanding in Chief

Army of the Irish Republic.

29 April 1914.

The Surrender

Blackader and the Meath connection

 Major General Blackader

Major General Charles Guinand Blackader chaired the court martial of many of the leaders of the 1916 Rising including that of Padraig Pearse.

The courts-martial began almost immediately after the surrender on Saturday 29 April. First up, on 2 May, before a tribunal chaired by General Blackader, was the man designated by the British as ‘Prisoner No.1’, Padraig Pearse. Prosecuting attorney was a young Irish barrister and Territorial Army officer William E. Wylie. There was no defence counsel. Pearse impressed Blackader by asking that he, and he alone, be shot. His wish was not granted. The Proclamation could not be used in evidence as the names were printed rather than signed on the bottom.

Lady Fingall

On the night after Pearse’s trial General Blackader dined with Elizabeth, Countess of Fingall, at her Dublin residence on Elgin Road. In her memoirs she reports the General as having been greatly depressed. She asked him “What is the matter?”  He replied:  ‘I have just done one of the hardest tasks I have ever had to do. I have had to condemn to death one of the finest characters I have ever come across. There must be something very wrong in the state of things that makes a man like that a rebel. I don’t wonder that his pupils adored him.’ Elizabeth described Blackader as “a charming, sympathetic person, half French, very emotional and terribly affected by the work he had to do.”

On Wednesday, 3 May 1916, at 3.30 in the morning, Pearse was executed by firing squad. His comrades Thomas Clarke, a veteran of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and Thomas MacDonagh, a university lecturer who had once taught at Pearse’s school, were shot with him.

Charles Guinand Blackader was born in Richmond, Surrey in 1869. Blackader joined the army and studied at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He served in Bermuda, Nova Scotia, Jamaica and Nigeria. From 1899-1902 he served in 1st Leicesters in the Boer War, including at the siege of Ladysmith. He had been twice mentioned in despatches during the war and awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Promoted to Major he left for India in 1904 for a two year posting. During 1904-12 he served in 1st Battalion in India, Shorncliffe, and in Fermoy, Ireland, in 1912. In August 1914, on the outbreak of the First World War, Blackader was in India, commanding the 2nd Battalion of the Leicesters, which was mobilised for service.

The division was sent to France as part of Indian Expeditionary Force A, seeing its first action in the trenches on 29 October. In November he led the attack on the German trenches at Festubert, the first British night attack of the War. When his superior officer was promoted in early 1915, Blackader succeeded him as commander of the brigade, and led it through the Battle of Neuve Chapelle and the Battle of Loos.

After the Indian Army was withdrawn from France, Blackader was posted to a second-line Territorial Force brigade training in the United Kingdom. In 1916, it was sent to Dublin during the Easter Rising; following the Rising. Blackader, as a senior officer, chaired a number of courts-martial, including those of Eamonn Ceannt, Thomas Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh, Patrick Pearse, and Joseph Plunkett, Later that year, he was ordered to France to take over command of the 38th Welsh Division. He remained with the division for almost two years. In 1918 he left his command following a dog bite for which he received Pasteur treatment. He returned to Ireland as commander of Southern District, but his health deteriorated and he died in 1921, aged 51. There is a memorial to him in the regimental chapel in Leicester Cathedral.

“Maid, bride and widow in the one day”

Nellie Gifford Donnelly – Kilbeg Connections

Nellie Gifford

One of the saddest stories of 1916 is the story of the marriage in the chapel at Kilmainham Gaol. Grace Gifford married Joseph Plunkett in Kilmainham Gaol just hours before he was executed for his part in the 1916 Easter rising and so was “maid, bride and widow in the one day.” The couple planned to marry on Easter Sunday that year but the Rising intervened. When Grace knew that Joseph was due to be shot on 4 May, she bought a wedding ring in a jeweller’s shop in Dublin city centre and, with the help of a priest, persuaded the military authorities to allow them to marry. She and Joseph were married on the night of 3 May in the chapel of Kilmainham Gaol. Grace was the second youngest in a family of twelve children which included her sister, Helen or Nellie.

Helen (Nellie) Gifford was born in 1880 at Phibsborough, Dublin to Frederick and Isabella Gifford, one of a family of twelve, six sons and six daughters. The sons were raised as Catholics as that was the faith of their father while the girls were raised as Protestants. Four of the daughters subsequently converted to Catholicism. The sons always remained loyal to the Unionist cause and all the sisters supported nationalist politics. Nellie trained as a domestic economy teacher and worked for seven years in a series of six month postings to County Meath. She brought her cooking utensils and her stove from place to place providing twelve week courses in cookery and household management. In cattle country in Meath she felt she was “out on the prairies of America.” She observed the terrible living conditions of the rural poor and became a supporter of Laurence Ginnell, nationalist M.P. for Meath. In Kilbeg she stayed with the Creevan’s of Thomastown and the Dunne’s of Marvelstown. Accommodated in labourers cottages Nellie played the violin for the evening set dances. Her interest in Irish traditions led to her being invited to the wake of Pat Lynch. At that time only men, married women and immediate friends were allowed to attend wakes. When Fr. Clavin heard that Nellie had attended the wake he spoke to Mrs. Dunne, her landlady and Mrs. Dunne turned her out of her lodgings. 

Nellie was involved in the Irish Women’s Franchise League and came into contact with Countess Markievicz. In 1913 Nellie took part in a ruse as the niece of an elderly clergyman, to get Jim Larkin into the Imperial Hotel and obtain a room from which he addressed a crowd in Sackville Street. A founding member of the Irish Citizen Army she took part in the 1916 Rising at the College of Surgeons. Nellie organised an employment bureau to secure employment for Irish volunteers so that they would not have to go to England where they could be conscripted into the British Army. She secured work for Michael Collins as a secretary to Joseph Plunkett. Her duties included bringing medicine and food and carrying dispatches. She lost her job as a result of her political activities.

Grace Gifford

After the surrender Nellie was taken to Kilmainham jail where unknown to her, her sister Grace married Joseph Plunkett, in the prison chapel hours before his execution. Joseph Mary Plunkett’s paternal grandfather, Patrick Plunkett was born on a small farm adjoining Killeen Castle in 1817. Patrick became involved in the leather trade and then in construction. His son, father of Joeph Mary, George Noble Plunkett became a papal count and was elected as the first Sinn Féin MP in 1917.

 Following Nellie’s release she went to America where she lectured and fundraised for the national cause. In America she met and married Joseph Donnelly. She separated from her husband in 1921 and returned to Ireland with their one year old daughter, Maeve. The Gifford sisters were all anti-treaty. She remained a staunch Protestant. Nellie through her work with the 1916 Club, was the prime force behind both the first 1916 exhibition and the building of the Easter Week Collection at the National Museum. She was a founding member of the Kilmainham Gaol Restoration Society. She loved animals and cared for countless abandoned dogs and cats. Nellie died in 1971 in Dublin.

Her sister, Muriel, married Thomas MacDonagh, one of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation, who was executed for his part in the 1916 Rising. Muriel died of heart failure while swimming in 1917. Nellie, Grace and Kathleen shared the care of Muriel’s two children.

Lament for Thomas McDonagh

by Francis Ledwidge

He shall not hear the bittern cry
In the wild sky where he is lain
Nor voices of the sweeter birds
Above the wailing of the rain.

Nor shall he know when loud March blows
Thro’ slanting snows her fanfare shrill
Blowing to flame the golden cup
Of many an upset daffodil.

And when the dark cow leaves the moor
And pastures poor with greedy weeds
Perhaps he’ll hear her low at morn
Lifting her horn in pleasant meads.

Francis Ledwidge

Francis Ledwidge was a war poet from Slane, and was sometimes known as the ‘poet of the blackbirds’. Lament for Thomas McDonagh is an emotional poem written by Ledwidge about his fellow poet and friend.  Ledwidge enlisted in the army in 1914 and was wounded in 1916. He was recuperating in hospital when he heard news of the Easter Rising and the executions of the leaders. He felt betrayed when his friend, Thomas McDonagh, was executed for his part in the Rising.

Who fears to speak of Easter Week? 

Rev. Mother Columba with Sinéad de Valera and Éamon de Valera.

Mary Gibbons was born in Collinstown in 1873. Her father had been a member of the RIC. Mary became a monitoress at a local national school and then began formal training as a teacher at the Baggot Street Training College. While there she became friends with Sinéad Flanagan, who married Eamon de Valera in 1910.  After teaching for six years Gibbons decided to become a nun. In 1903 Gibbons entered the Loreto Order in Navan and because of her teaching experience was made principal of the primary school. Taking the name Columba she was a supporter of the Irish language and actively associated with the local branch of the Gaelic League and Feis na Midhe.

Shortly after the Rising Sr. Columba wrote the ballad “Who fears to speak of Easter Week?” The ballad quickly became popular at feiseanna, political gatherings and amongst the Volunteers in jail. Sr. Columba was called in by Bishop Gaughran to explain her involvement in politics but was told she “had erred on the right side.”

Sr. Columba’s sister, Katherine, was married to Seamus O’Doherty who was a member of the IRB at the time of the Rising. When he arrived at the GPO on Easter Monday he was told by Tom Clarke to go away and carry on the work of the IRB. In 1917 O’Doherty was election agent for Sinn Féin’s first successful election of Count Plunkett, father of executed 1916 leader Joseph Mary Plunkett, as MP for North Roscommon. Katherine O’Doherty went with de Valera to America in 1919-20 seeking international recognition of the Irish Republic. Sr. Columba’s younger brother, Edward, became a priest in the Diocese of Meath. A friend of Willie Pearse he was a shareholder in Bulmer Hobson’s paper The Republic.  Edward served as curate in Johnstown, Moynalty, Duleek and Mount Bolus parishes. Mother Columba’s sister, Margaret, was principal in Cannistown N.S.

Sr. Columba was a good friend of Dr. Kathleen Lynn, founder of St. Ultan’s Hospital for Infants, Dublin. Eamon de Valera was a personal friend of Mother Columba and on all his visits to Navan made a point of calling at St. Anne’s to see Mother Columba.

In January 1953 Mother Columba celebrated the golden jubilee of her reception into the Loreto Order.  Also in that year one of Mother Columba’s long held ambitions reached its fruition when a new extension to the national school was opened next to the St. Mary’s Church on the Fair Green in October 1953. Taoiseach Eamon de Valera said he was particularly glad that the opening of the school should coincided with the golden jubilee of Rev. Mother Columba, who had done so much work for God and Ireland in the last fifty years.

Mother Columba died in January 1961 aged 86 years. President de Valera and Mrs de Valera attended the removal of the remains.

In April 1961 Sinéad De Valera wrote to the Loreto Community at Navan “At Easter time we were listening to a broadcast about the Rising. How proud I was when ‘Who fears to speak of Easter week?’ was sung. Mother did indeed give her talents to God and Ireland.”

A great grand nephew of Mother Columba’s and god child of Eamon de Valera, Bobby Mc Donagh, was ambassador to the Britain, 2009-2013, and welcomed Queen Elizabeth to Irish soil in May 2011 on her first visit to Ireland.

Who fears to speak of Easter Week?

1.  Who fears to speak of Easter Week?
Who dares its fate deplore?
The red gold flame of Eire’s name
Confronts the world once more!
Oh! Irishmen, remember then,
And raise your heads with pride,
For great men and straight men
Have fought for you and died.

2. The spirit wave that came to save
The peerless Celtic soul,
From earthly stain of greed and gain
Had caught them in its roll;
Had swept them high to do or die,
To sound a trumpet call;
For true men though few men
To follow one and all

3 Upon their shield a stainless field,
With virtues blazoned bright;
With Temperance and Purity
And Truth and Honour dight
So now they stand at God’s Right Hand,
Who framed their dauntless clay,
Who taught them and brought them
The glory of today.

4. The storied page of this our age
Will save our land from shame
The ancient foe had boasted – ho!
That Irishmen were tame
They bought their souls for paltry doles,
And told the world of slaves
That lie men! shall die, men!
In Pearse and Plunkett’s graves.

5 The brave who’ve gone to linger on
Beneath the tyrant’s heel
We know they pray another day
With clash of clanging steel
Now from their cell their voices swell,
And loudly call on you
Then ask, men! the task, men!
That yet remains to do.

The Flag that flew over the GPO

The 1916 Tricolour

A variety of flags were flown in Dublin during Easter Week, 1916, including the tricolour, the Irish Republic flag, the Green Flag, which consisted of a gold harp on a green background and the starry plough, which was used by the Irish Citizen Army. At that time, the traditional Irish nationalist flag featured a harp against a green background. Another version had a harp and the slogan “Erin Go Bragh.”

The tricolour, modelled on the original French republican emblem, dated to the 19th century, but only became widely used from 1916 onwards. Introduced by Young Irelander, Thomas Francis Meagher in the 1840s an Irish tricolour lay draped over the coffin of O’Donovan Rossa as Pádraig Pearse gave his famous graveside oration in August 1915.The Irish tricolour of green, white and orange was adopted as the official flag of the Irish Republic in 1919. From 1922 the Tricolour became the de facto flag of the State and it was during this period that the orange was firmly established as the designated colour. The flag was formally adopted in 1937 under Article 7 of The Constitution and described as green, white and orange. The colours chosen represented the two traditions on the Island, the white space between them signifying peace. In previous times the orange was replaced on occasion with yellow or gold.

At the beginning of the Rising James Connolly ordered Seán T. O’Kelly to go to Liberty Hall and from a cupboard returned with two flags. One was a tricolour, the other the green flag with the words “Irish Republic” emblazoned across it in gold. Both flags flew together over the GPO as Pearse read out the proclamation. The tricolour, because of its lack of recognition, was still flying on the Monday following the Rebellion.

A number of tricolours were captured by British soldiers after the rising. Sergeant Thomas Davis of Lisburn, who served with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, captured one flag during a clear-up of the city after the Easter Rising. Following the Rising, Davis, a veteran of the Boer War, asked to be sent to the Western Front, where his son was serving. The 53-year-old soldier was wounded in fighting before the Battle of the Somme and was sent home to Lisburn, Co. Antrim, to recuperate. Sergeant Davis presented the flag to Dr. George St. George of Lisburn, who was closely identified with the Ulster Volunteer Force. A note from Sgt Davis, which accompanies the flag, reads: “Captured by British Troops at GPO Dublin, April 1916, and given to Dr George St George by an old war veteran, Sgt Davis.” Dr. St. George died in 1922 where upon the flag passed to his only daughter, Ethelreda, whom married Captain Samuel Waring of the British Army. Samuel Waring was the youngest son of Lucas Waring, Bellbrook, Glenavy, Co. Antrim. The couple lived at Riverside House, Kells. Upon the death of his wife in 1951 Captain Waring presented the flag to his Kells neighbours and close friends the Sweetman family of Drumbaragh. Grateful for their friendship and being aware of the family’s past association with Sinn Féin Captain Waring supposedly uttered the words, “You may have more use for this than I do” when presenting the flag. The flag was presented to John Walter Sweetman, eldest son of John Sweetman, the second president of Sinn Féin.

The 1916 Tricolour on display at the American Irish Historical Society

The Sweetman family placed the flag for auction in New York in 2010. The flag failed to reach its reserve price and was withdrawn. The straightened times in Ireland meant the Irish government was unable to make a bid for the flag. The family then donated the flag to the American Irish Historical Society in New York where the flag is on display as part of a long-term loan arrangement. The flag measures 74 by 159 centimetres.

The other GPO flag captured in 1916 was given by the Imperial War Museum on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Rising to the National Museum in Dublin, where it remains today. It is a variation of the more traditional green flag, but with the legend “Irish Republic” written in traditional, gold Gaelic lettering.

A Soldier’s Song and Slane

Composer of the National Anthem,

Peadar Kearney’s mother was from Slane

Peadar Kearney with his son, Pearse, in 1917

Peadar Kearney, revolutionary and song-writer, was born 12 December 1883 in Dorset Street, Dublin, eldest of three sons and three daughters of John Kearney, grocer and businessman, and Katie Kearney (née McGuinness). John Kearney from Rosybrook, Collon, County Louth married Catherine McGuinness, Rathmaiden, at Slane in 1881. The young Kearneys went to Slane for holidays and to stay for longer times.

Kearney left school at the age of 14, becoming an apprentice house painter. He joined the Gaelic League in 1901 and was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1903. He taught night classes in Irish and numbered Seán O’Casey among his pupils. Kearney was present for the first performance of W.B. Yeats’s play Kathleen Ni Houlihan in 1902, with Maud Gonne playing the lead. Kearney secured work with the National Theatre Society and was one of the first to inspect the derelict Mechanics Institute Theatre in 1904 before it was taken over to become the Abbey Theatre.

In 1907 Kearney wrote The Soldier’s Song and it was put to music by him and his friend, Patrick Heeney. It became popular with members of the Irish Volunteers as a marching song. The Soldier’s Song was not widely known until it was sung both at the GPO during the Easter Rising of 1916 and later at various camps where republicans were interned. The first edition of the song with words and music was published only in 1916.

Paddy Heeney died aged only 29 and in poverty in Jervis Street Hospital in June 1911. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Drumcondra Cemetery. Kearney, then in London with the Abbey Company, took up a collection for his deceased friend’s mother. Among the contributors were two fellow IRB men based in London – Michael Collins and Sam Maguire. Kearney married Eva Flanagan in 1914 and they had two sons, Pearse born in 1916 and Colbert born in 1918.

Kearney was one of the founding members of the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and took part in the Howth gunrunning of 1914. Kearney was in Liverpool when he got word that the Insurrection was imminent. The Abbey Company was opening in the Royal Court Theatre with John Ferguson, by St. John Ervine, who was managing the tour. Kearney had all the props on the side ready for the opening performance. He informed Ervine that he must leave at once for Dublin and asked him for some money. Ervine fired him. Kearney fought at Jacob’s Biscuit Factory under Thomas McDonagh. He managed to escape capture after the surrender.

Kearney was active in the War of Independence. On 25 November 1920 he was captured at his home in Summerhill, Dublin and was interned first in Collinstown Camp in Dublin and later in Ballykinler Camp in County Down. Kearney was released exactly a year after his arrest.

Kearney sided with his friend Michael Collins at the time of the Treaty but lost faith in the Free State after Collins’s death.  He was a witness to the death of Michael Collins in Beal na Blath in August 1922 while travelling in the lead vehicle in the ill-fated convoy.

He returned to his trade as a house painter. He wrote many other well-known ballads, including The Bold Fenian Men and The Tri-Coloured Ribbon.

The Soldiers’ Song remained popular as an Army tune, and was played at many military functions. In 1926, four years after the formation of the Free State, the Irish translation, Amhrán na bhFiann, was adopted as the national anthem, replacing God Save Ireland and A Nation Once Again. Liam Ó Rinn translated the lyrics to Irish in 1923. Kearney was not paid royalties for his contribution to the song until 1934 after taking legal proceedings against the State. The first draft of the song, handwritten on copybook paper, sold at auction in Dublin in 2006 for €760,000. The English version has been almost totally eclipsed by the Irish version. Kearney died in relative poverty in 1942 and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

His sister Kathleen married another house painter, Stephen Behan, making Kearney the uncle of Brendan and Dominic Behan. Kathleen had been married to Jack Furlong, a 1916 veteran who died of influenza in 1918, leaving his widow with two sons, Seán and Rory. Stephen Behan was one of Michael Collin’s “Twelve Apostles” also known as “The Squad” which was the unit formed by Collins to counter British intelligence during the War of Independence primarily by means of assassination. Brendan Behan was in prison when Kearney died, and was refused permission to attend his funeral.

A monument to Kearney stands on Dublin’s Dorset Street, where he was born.

The Soldier’s Song

We’ll sing a song, a soldier’s song,

With cheering rousing chorus,

As round our blazing fires we throng,

The starry heavens o’er us;

Impatient for the coming fight,

And as we wait the morning’s light,

Here in the silence of the night,

We’ll chant a soldier’s song.


Soldiers are we

whose lives are pledged to Ireland;

Some have come

from a land beyond the wave.

Sworn to be free,

No more our ancient sire land

Shall shelter the despot or the slave.

Tonight we man the gap of danger

In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal

‘Mid cannons’ roar and rifles peal,

We’ll chant a soldier’s song.

In valley green, on towering crag,

Our fathers fought before us,

And conquered ‘neath the same old flag

That’s proudly floating o’er us.

We’re children of a fighting race,

That never yet has known disgrace,

And as we march, the foe to face,

We’ll chant a soldier’s song.


Sons of the Gael! Men of the Pale!

The long watched day is breaking;

The serried ranks of Inisfail

Shall set the Tyrant quaking.

Our camp fires now are burning low;

See in the east a silv’ry glow,

Out yonder waits the Saxon foe,

So chant a soldier’s song.


Amhrán na bhFiann

Seo díbh a chairde duan óglaigh,

Caithréimeach bríomhar ceolmhar,

Ár dtinte cnámh go buacach táid,

‘S an spéir go mín réaltógach

Is fonnmhar faobhrach sinn chun gleo

‘S go tiúnmhar glé roimh thíocht don ló

Faoi chiúnas chaomh na hoíche ar seol:

Seo libh canaigí Amhrán na bhFiann. 


Sinne Fianna Fáil

Atá faoi gheall ag Éirinn,

Buíon dár slua

Thar toinn do ráinig chugainn.

Faoi mhóid bheith saor,

Seántír ár sinsir feasta

Ní fhágfar faoin tíorán ná faoin tráil

Anocht a théim sa bhearna baoil,

Le gean ar Ghaeil chun báis nó saoil

Le gunnascréach faoi lámhach na bpiléar

Seo libh canaigí Amhrán na bhFiann.

Cois bánta réidh, ar arda sléibhe,

Ba bhuach ár sinsir romhainn,

Ag lámhach go tréan faoin sárbhrat séin

Tá thuas sa ghaoth go seolta

Ba dhúchas riamh dár gcine cháidh

Gan iompáil siar ó imirt áir,

‘S ag siúl mar iad i gcoinne namhad

Seo libh, canaigí Amhrán na bhFiann.


A bhuíon nach fann d’fhuil Ghaeil is Gall,

Sin breacadh lae na saoirse,

Ta sceimhle ‘s scanradh i gcroithe namhad,

Roimh ranna laochra ár dtíre.

Ár dtinte is tréith gan spréach anois,

Sin luisne ghlé san spéir anoir,

‘S an bíobha i raon na bpiléar agaibh:

Seo libh, canaigí Amhrán na bhFiann.


Stuck at his Club on Sackville Street

Sir Nugent Everard

Sir Nugent Everard of Randalstown, Navan, and his son, Richard, were staying in the Sackville Street Club when the rebellion broke out and remained there while the rebellion was fought. They witnessed the fighting at the GPO and the surrender of the leaders. Sir Nugent kept a diary now in the possession of the family of the five days of the rebellion. Founded in 1794 by Blainey Townley Balfour at 59 Upper Sackville Street the club had had 400 members. The Imperial Hotel, Clery’s shop, and other buildings were burned during the 1916 Rising but the upper part of the street escaped and the Sackville Street Club were not touched. Regarded as more staunchly Unionist and Protestant than the Kildare Street Club the club closed after the Irish Free State was founded.

Sir Nugent Talbot Everard was born at Torquay, Devon in England in 1849 and he was the first of the Everards to make their home at Randalstown for more than 60 years.  In 1863 at the age of thirteen he inherited Randalstown. He was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge.  Settling at Randalstown about 1870 the estate at the time amounted to 2311 acres. Everard was a supporter of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society which established the co-operative movement in Ireland and was elected its president in 1905.  On the occasion of the coronation of King George V in 1911 Everard was created a baronet. He was a member of the Grand Jury of Meath and its successor; Meath County Council. He held the position of High Sheriff and Lord Lieutenant for Meath, and was a co-opted member of the County Council, serving continuously from 1899 to 1922.  He served with his wife, Lady Everard, on the Meath Agricultural Society and the County Committee of Agriculture. A honorary colonel in the Royal Meath Militia he served with the regiment in Belgium and at Ypres.

In 1922 Everard was appointed to the Senate of the new Irish Free State by William T. Cosgrave.  The demise of tillage farming in the 1880s and the consequent decrease in employment opportunities on the land for his workers made him turn his attention to tobacco. In 1898 Everard obtained a special licence to grow tobacco. He was joined in the next few years in the experiment by Sir John Dillon of Lismullin, R.H. Metge of Athlumney and F. Brodigan of Piltown. His tobacco growing is mentioned in James Joyce’s Ulysses – “there was that Colonel Everard down there in Navan growing tobacco”. From 1898 to 1938 the Randlestown area of Navan was central to plans to introduce tobacco growing on a commercial basis in Ireland. The estate had its own tobacco plantation and also acted as a rehandling station – taking in tobacco from the local growers and processing it for sale to factories. At its peak, the industry provided almost 100 jobs and played a vital role in the local economy.

Colonel Everard died in 1929 in his eightieth year and was interred at Donaghpatrick. There is an article about Sir Nugent Everard in the 2000 issue of Riocht an Midhe. After his death the local growers formed the County Meath Co-Operative Tobacco Growers Society. The Co-Operative continued into the 1930s, and closed in 1939, the last year in which tobacco was grown in the county. 

Lord Dunsany Captured

Lord Dunsany

With the outbreak of war in 1914, Lord Dunsany became a captain in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was on leave in Ireland during the 1916 rising and was wounded after offering his services in Dublin.

Edward Plunkett, eighteenth Baron Dunsany, was born in London in 1878. Educated at Eton, he joined the Coldstream Guards in 1899, the same year he succeeded to his father’s title, and served in the Boer War before settling at Dunsany Castle in Co. Meath. He wrote a number of fantasy books and plays, a number of which were produced on the Abbey stage.  His uncle, Horace, was the founder of the co-operative movement in Ireland. Dunsany was a patron and supporter to a number of fellow writers, especially the poet Francis Ledwidge.

Dunsany and a number of his friends were on leave and staying at Dunsany Castle when rumours of a rising in Dublin. Concerned at the news coming from the capital on Easter Tuesday Dunsany and Lieutenant A.P. Lindsay set off for Dublin saying they would be back for tea. The men went to Dublin Castle where the staff officer told him to report to Major Carter at Amiens Street, and put himself under his orders.  The men took the shortest route  and ended up coming up against a barricade of barrels across the road in the area of the Four Courts.  Fire was opened by the men behind the barricade.   Dunsany’s chauffeur, Cudlipp, had his finger shot off. Dunsany dashed into a doorway but he was shot and wounded below the left eye. With nowhere to run Dunsany was captured, the Volunteer who had shot him said “I am sorry.” A Volunteer joked that Dunsany was in no danger of ‘entering The Glistening Gates just yet’, alluding to Dunsany’s play which had been recently performed at the Abbey. The popular play related the story of a burglar breaking open the shining gate of heaven. Dunsany later congratulated himself on being captured by literary men!

Both men were taken prisoner Lindsay was sent to the Four Courts while Dunsany went to hospital where he received treatment for the wound on his nose. Taken to Jervis Street hospital Dunsany stayed for a week in a private room attended by four nuns who chatted most of the time while the rebellion carried on outside. Dunsany’s Sam Browne belt was taken away from him when he went to the hospital. The bombardment carried on all Thursday, and early on Friday morning there was clearly a danger of fire. During Friday night the Leinsters captured the hospital as Dunsany slept. One Volunteer recalled that Dunsany lent his razor to several of the rebels, so that they might show a shaven cheek of innocence to the British military when they started searching the hospital.

His wound was a lot more serious than first thought so the doctors operated on Dunsany, and took out the bullet, which had lodged not too far from his brain. Dunsany received the bullet as a souvenir. He was left with a scar, and his nose and lip on one side were permanently paralysed.

Dunsany was transferred to King George’s Hospital. His Sam Browne Belt was lying around when Michael Collins was being laid out and Dunsany’s belt ended up being buried with Collins.

In 1921 Dunsany was court-martialled by the police for failing to keep arms and ammunition under effective control at Dunsany and he was fined £25. It may have been their way of getting back at him for his attempts to restrain their activities during the troubles.

Local Reaction

Meath Chronicle Editiorial 6th May 1916

At the Meath County Council meeting after the Easter Rising Councillor P.J. Kennedy, said “Since that unfortunate week, which I am afraid will be known in history as Black Easter Week, there has been a certain reaction due, to my mind to a large extent to a want of sense of proportion on the part of unthinking members of the public. These men in my opinion – I am not afraid to say it – sinned against God and man; against Ireland and against commonsense.”  He described what had happened as “cold-blooded murder.” The Citizen Army were “anarchists, pure and simple.”  He subsequently denounced an appeal for funds by the Irish National Aid Association; a prisoners’ relief body dominated by rebel sympathisers, suggesting that such appeals should be directed to the Kaiser, who, he alleged, had financed the rebellion. Councillor Moore said Edward Carson had organised a rebellion a thousand times worse than the Dublin revolt.  He also called for leniency for the remaining rebel prisoners.

At Navan Petty sessions Mr. W. Sullivan R.M. said “I can hardly trust myself to refer to the appalling tragedy which has been enacted within the last days in County Meath. “

Rev. J.J. Poland, Administrator, Navan, said at 10 o’clock Mass on Sunday “There is a time to speak and a time to remain silent. Though some may think silence more prudent at present, I am compelled to state that the week that has closed had been one of painful anxiety for every child of Erin; it has been a week of sadness and sorrow for many and if the history of our time ever comes to be written, I believe the annals of the happenings of Easter week, 1916, will form the darkest records in Ireland’s history. On the bier in this church to-day rests the mortal remains of eight which were healthy stalwart men three days ago. They were men of upright character who loved Ireland well. They were staunch Catholics.  They lost their lives – they were summoned to meet their Judge without a moment’s notice at the hands of those who profess to love Ireland and share the same faith. It is unspeakably sad.”

Trim Urban District Council Chairman O’Reilly said of the Rising that “a more unfortunate occurrence had never taken place in the history of the country” and then lashed the participants as “ill-advised, uneducated, hot-headed young fellows led by screaming fanatics” while Councillor Thomas Rogers described the Rising as “cold-blooded murder”.

Navan Urban District Council passed a unanimous resolution of sympathy and added “We deplore and deprecate the recent disturbances which have led to such a terrible loss of life and property and caused such sorrow, misery and ruin”.

Rev. M. Dillon P.P. Curraha, who had witnessed the encounter at Ashbourne, addressed his congregation, condemned the action of the insurgents, who refused to disperse when requested by him.

Rev. Robert Kelly P.P. Ratoath addressed his parishioners and said a feeble attempt had been made to establish a toy Republic under the jurisdiction of Liberty Hall.

Saved by a late message

The RIC and their co-operation with the Rebels

RIC Man on Patrol in Trim

Patrick Meehan, from County Clare, joined the RIC in November 1910 and did his six months training in the depot in the Phoenix Park. Recruits were trained as a semi-military force. A recruit had to be in top physical shape before being accepted and then maintain that condition.

Meehan’s first placing was at Ashbourne but he was transferred to Ballivor and then to Ballinabrackey. Here Meehan assisted in the training and drilling of the Volunteers. Most of the RIC were in favour on Home Rule but the majority of the officers were opposed.

Everything was quiet in Ballinabrackey when the rebellion broke out. A telegraph message was sent from Slane on Friday 28th April ordering Meehan to Slane to be part of the police group who went to Ashbourne. The telegraph reached its destination a week later. Eight RIC men were killed and fifteen wounded at the fight at Ashbourne; Meehan might have been one of these if he had received the message in time.

In 1918 Meehan was transferred to Trim and at this time the conscription crisis emerged. Nearly all the police opposed conscription and would not have helped to enforce it. Sergeant McElligott was stationed at Trim at the time and he was very active against the conscription proposal.  In late 1919 Meehan got in touch with the local IRA through Mick Hynes and Michael Giles. Meehan gave the IRA information with regard to raid and areas in which the police were operating. He carried despatches from Trim to Dublin on behalf of the IRA. He made copies of police documents and passed them to the IRA. One circular proposed the harassment of nationalistic bands and another proposed the burning of the harvest crops to blame it on the IRA. Copies of these circular were copied by Tim Healy and circulated around Dublin. The circulars were withdrawn from all police headquarters. District Inspector Murnane of Trim was very upset at these proposals by Headquarters.

District Inspector Murnane and his family outside Trim RIC Barracks

When the Black and Tans arrived in Trim many local policemen objected. The Inspector General Sir Joseph Byrne, came to Trim and heard the local RIC objections.  If the local police would give him and undertaking that they would defend the barracks then he would not post any Tans to Trim.

Mick Hynes informed Meehan that the Tans were on their way to Trim and the barracks needed to be taken before they arrived. The couple began to make plans to capture the barracks. Meehan told Hynes that the best time to take the barracks was on a Sunday morning during first Mass at the local church. Half of the garrison would be at Mass while the other half would still be in bed. Meehan drew a plan of the barracks and showed the location of all the rooms including the ammunition store. Meehan also gave Hynes an impression of the keys of the front and back doors which he made in bars of soap.

Hynes informed Meehan that a date was set for taking the barracks. Meehan resigned from the police the Wednesday before the date so he was a civilian when the barracks was taken. He left Trim on Sunday morning with his wife and travelled to Kildare on the one road the IRA had left open for their own get-away. Meehan returned that night to see the smouldering ruins of the barracks and to see the Black and Tans attack the town. A day or so later he again visited the ruins of the barracks but was ordered away by a number of constables.

Meehan returned to his native Clare for three weeks but then returned to his house in Trim. Late one night a party of Black and Tans and RIC under County Inspector Egan arrived and took him about a mile out the Navan road. When leaving the town the group met an RIC patrol under Sergeant O’Brien. Recognising Meehan O’Brien spoke to members of the Egan  group and said if they harmed Meehan in any way he would go public with the information. Meehan was taken into a field on the Navan Road and some revolvers fired over his head. He was accused of providing information for the capture of the barracks but Meehan denied it.  This took place on the night of Bloody Sunday in Croke Park so the Tans were already in a foul mood.  Another constable, Eugene Bratton, said later that the Tans planned to shoot Meehan. The Tans gave Meehan twelve hours to get out of the country. Meehan left Trim the next morning and went to his wife’s home at Ballymore-Eustace, Kildare, and after two weeks there he went to London. He returned to Ireland after the Truce and joined the Garda on 1st April 1922. Given the rank of inspector to start with he later became a superintendent in Longford. 

Sergeant Brady of Dunboyne informed Seán Boylan of any police activities in the area in 1917.

T.J. McElligott was another RI.C. man who became disillusioned with the force. From Kerry, joining the force in 1908 at the age of nineteen his first posting was Crosshaven in County Cork. The Conscription Act was passed on the 18th April 1918 but before it could be enforced it was delayed by two weeks. Conscription would have meant that all Irishmen of military age would have to join the British army and fight in the war. As a sergeant in Trim McElligott had access to secret documents with regard to the enforcement of conscription  which he copied and had distributed at an anti-conscription meeting in the Mansion House, Dublin. One copy of these documents was discovered by police in the home of a Dublin artist and McElligott feared it would be traced back to him. The copies had been made by hand by Constable Patrick Meehan and Constable Austin McHale. McElligott was also in correspondence with Tim Healy requesting him to ask questions in Parliament. The correspondence was carried out through Michael Hynes. Healy told McElligott that all the manuscript copies had been destroyed and only typewritten copies were in circulation.

McElligott organised the police to resist the introduction of conscription. He contacted the IRA and said that the best time to raid barracks for arms would be if constriction was introduced. Mc Elligott had been writing to the newspapers under the nom-de-plum “Pro Patria” calling for the disarmament of the RIC and the opening of higher ranks to Catholic candidates. Secret orders were being issued to harass the people and these orders were passed on by McElligott to Michael Collins and the Catholic Hierarchy.

McElligott organised a police union within the RIC as a branch of an English union. A resolution for the disarmament of the RIC force was sent to the British Labour Party in London. McElligott was identified as a ring-leader and transferred as far away as he could be from Trim, to Belmullet, Co. Mayo. He resigned from the force immediately. He consulted with Michael Collins and Erskine Childers with regard to organising a mass resignation from the RIC. He was convinced that the RIC forces could be collapsed in a week. In 1928 Eamon de Valera asked for consideration be given to T.J. McElligott and other RIC men who contributed to the national cause. 

Constable Bratten

Constable Eugene Bratton of Navan Barracks fought at Ashbourne and was brought to Buckingham Palace to be decorated for his actions. He said “I resented this but had no alternative.” He too co-operated with the IRA and when he offered to resign Seán Boylan said he was more useful where he was. Bratton took information to McElligott which was passed on to Michael Collins.

Sergeant Keighery of Navan Barracks stole permits for the use of motor vehicles from the County Inspector’s office  and stamped them and passed them to the IRA. On the night of 1st December 1920 a call came to Navan Barracks saying that a military dispatch rider had broken down at Kilcarn and needed to be rescued. Sergeant Keighery was called in to go out with the tender. Eugene Bratton could not understand why Keighery was called in specially to do this work.  When they arrived at Kilcarn there was no dispatch rider there. Two armoured lorries appeared and shots were fired by one of the policemen with Keighery.  The military returned fire killing Keighery who was standing in the door of the post office. Bratton believed that it was a setup to dispose of Keighery. 

Collins is supposed to have converted an Auxiliary Cadet C.J. McCarthy, N Company Trim.

Constables Malone and Crean of Dunshaughlin Barracks provided information to David Hall who was officer commanding the First Brigade. Malone was going to resign from the RIC but Hall persuaded him not to as he was more useful to the movement in the police.

  Máire Ní Raghallaigh

Máire Ní Raghallaigh

The O’Rahilly Sinn Féin Club 1917 taekn at Máire Ní Raghallaigh’s shop on Dorset Street. Front row centre is Máire Ní Raghallaigh with Mrs Pearse on her right and a sister of The O’Rahilly on her left.  From Kevin O’Doherty, My Paretns and Other Rebels.

Mary Reilly, Máire Ní Raghallaigh, was born in 1867 in Drumconrath, the daughter of Patrick and Mary Reilly. Patrick Reilly was a local schoolteacher and wrote poetry. Known as the “Bard of Balnavoran” his life is described in a book by Larry Ward.  The family moved to Enfield in 1868 and then to Barretstown, Co. Kildare in 1870.

Ní Raghallaigh joined the Gaelic League in Naas in 1900 and was elected secretary of the branch in June of that year. In 1901 she was living at Abbey Street in Naas and gave her occupation as “phonographer and typist.” She worked at Brown McCann solicitors, Naas. In 1906 she moved to Dublin and worked with a Miss Ennis as typists.

In 1916 Ní Raghallaigh opened an Irish bookstore in Dorset Street. Her friend, Josephine Geoghan, joined her in 1919. They published picture cards and photographs. An tAthair Peadar Ua Laoghaire wrote prayers for her cards of Irish saints. She published photographs of the First Dáil. In 1921 Ní Raghallaigh was elected on to the Business Committee of the Gaelic League. She was a member of Cumann na mBan during the War of Independence. Ní Raghallaigh was an active member of the Ard Craobh of the Gaelic League and treasurer of the Gaelic Solidality of Our Lady, St. Francis Xavier’s Church, Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin. An Taoiseach Éamon de Valera and his wife were also members of the Ard Craobh. She was a close friend of Terence Mac Sweeney and Cathal Brugha. When the Irish Press began she took ads at her shop in Dorset Street.

Máire Ní Raghallaigh

Ní Raghallaigh died in June 1941 and was buried in Barretstown, Co. Kildare. An Taoiseach Éamon de Valera and Tanaiste Sean T. O’Kelly were among the attendance at her funeral.

A forthcoming book from Drumconrath will include a more detailed account of Máire Ní Raghallaigh by Larry Ward.

A Dáil Girl marries an Italian

Kathleen McKenna from Oldcastle

Kathleen McKenna and Arthur Griffith on the way to the Treaty Negotiations

Kathleen McKenna from Oldcastle was private secretary to Arthur Griffith during the Treaty negotiations of 1921. Previous to that she had worked in the Propaganda Department of Dáil Éireann.

Kathleen was born in 1897, the daughter of William and Mary (nee Hanley) Kenna in Oldcastle. Her father was a draper in 1901 and had changed to a hardware merchant by 1911.

On her summer holidays in Dublin in 1919 Kathleen called to the Sinn Féin headquarters at 6 Harcourt Street and presented a letter to Arthur Griffith from her father William Kenna, a personal friend of Griffith. An expert typist, Kathleen began working for the Propaganda Department of the recently formed Dáil in October 1919. She secured work on the production of the Irish Bulletin, the daily summary of information edited for the First Dáil by Frank Gallagher for distribution to journalists in Dublin and abroad during the Irish War of Independence. The Irish Bulletin was an underground publicity organ envisaged by Arthur Griffith and the Ministry of Propaganda, then under the direction of Desmond FitzGerald. McKenna typed every edition of it, from its founding on 11 November 1919, until the Truce, 11 July 1921.

In 1921 McKenna accompanied Arthur Griffith to London as his private secretary during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Kathleen had all the delegation sign a menu for a dinner on  10 November 1921.

McKenna was private secretary to various ministers of the Free State Government including Michael Collins, Desmond FitzGerald, Kevin O’Higgins and W.T. Cosgrave. In early 1922 she was sent to Paris for the Irish Race Congress. She was a private secretary at the Boundary Commission in 1924, and accompanied the Irish delegation at the Imperial Conference in 1926. McKenna resigned in 1931 to marry Capt Vittorio Napoli of the Italian Royal Grenadier Guards, moving to Libya and Albania before settling in Rome. She gave a talk on her revolutionary experiences on Radio Éireann in January 1952. Following her death at the age of 90 on 22 March 1988, she was buried in Rome with the Irish flag, as she had requested.

She left a memoir of her days which was published in 2014 under the title “A Dáil Girl’s Revolutionary Recollections”

Unveiling of Kathleen McKenna Memorial Oldcastle 2016
Unveiling of Kathleen McKenna Memorial Oldcastle 2016

Ardbraccan Stone used for Arbour Hill Memorial

  Arbour Hill Cemetery

Arbour Hill Military Cemetery is the resting place of fourteen of the executed leaders of the 1916 rising. The 1916 leaders were buried in a quicklime plot in the prison yard of Arbour Hill Prison. The ground in which the men were buried was used as an exercise ground but it was part of the military cemetery, consecrated in 1848. After surrender, the leaders were tried by military court martial in Kilmainham Gaol, where they were sentenced to death. In the Stonebreakers Yard at Kilmainham, each of the fourteen was shot, during the first two weeks of May 1916. Their bodies were then transferred to Arbour Hill, where they were buried in a mass grave in the prison yard behind the military cemetery. Quicklime, commonly used in mass graves in order to speed decomposition and minimise odours, was also added. The location and method of their interment was chosen so that their graves would not become shrines that furthered their political cause.  One of the officers with the burial party kept a note of the position of each body in the grave.

From 1928 the Department of Defence suggested to the OPW that a suitable memorial be erected to commemorate the men buried there. In 1948 the Department of Defence handed over responsibility for the plot to the OPW. The memorial garden plan was prepared to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. A design was prepared and submitted to the Government. Approved in 1954 the park opened in 1955. The surround of the grave carries the leaders’ names in Irish and in English. The memorial wall was completed by Michael Biggs in 1964.

Sculptor, Michael Biggs, was born in England but settled in Ireland in 1930.  He hand carved the entire text of the 1916 proclamation in Irish and English onto a curved wall of Ardbraccan limestone between 1959 and 1963. The centre of the wall has a gilded cross. Ardbraccan limestone had been quarried in Ardbraccan Quarry which was also called the White Quarry, from the fourteenth century.  It was best known in the eighteenth century but the limestone continued to be used in the twentieth century. On the prison wall opposite the 1916 plot is a plaque to commemorate sixty two men who gave their lives during the 1916 Rising.  This plaque was unveiled on 24 April 1966 by President Eamonn de Valera.

Ardbraccan Quarry

Every year in the month of May the annual 1916 Commemoration Mass is offered in the Church of the Defence Forces, Arbour Hill.  The Mass and Prayers at the burial plot are attended by Uachtarán na hÉireann, An Taoiseach, members of the Oireachtas, the Defence Forces, An Garda Siochána, invited guests and relatives of those who took part in the 1916 Rising.  Following the memorial Mass the President lays a wreath on behalf of the people of Ireland in memory of those who died in the Rising.

In 2015 Church of Ireland Bishop of Meath and Kildare Most Rev Pat Storey spoke at the annual 1916 commemoration Mass in the Church of the Most Sacred Heart at Arbour Hill. Most Rev Pat Storey said the decision to invite her  was ‘a courageous and generous’ one.  Bishop Storey said “I believe too that it is vital that every part of the Church on this island takes its place in not only remembering the past, but creating and shaping the future. Since we have all been a part of the problem, we should all be a part of the answer. As Christians, it is vital that we take the time and the energy to generously walk in the other’s shoes.”  She asked: “Could we, together, commit to walking in each other’s shoes for a time? Could we vow to be generous when we commemorate? It would take personal sacrifice, especially when you have endured personal loss, but perhaps this is the time to mend, and the time for generosity.” She was “deeply sorry for the lives lost in our country’s history – for lives lost in the Easter Rising and in more recent years. But I do not want to end our history there….I am in this for the long haul: mending; generosity; resurrection.” She concluded with a question: “Are you willing to be the change that Ireland is waiting for?”

Ballivor RIC Barracks Taken 1919

Ballivor RIC Barracks with thanks to Maureen McGearty for the photograph

On the 31st October 1919 the Trim and Longwood IRA Companies attacked the police barracks in Ballivor to obtain arms. Ballivor Barrack was situated in the middle of the village in the middle of a row of occupied houses and occupied by one sergeant and four constables

The IRA had good information on the routine of the police in the barracks. The plan decided upon was that one of the volunteers would approach the barracks door and knock. When challenged he would give the name of one of the local men and when the door was opened the door would be rushed by the Volunteers. All roads into the village were to be picketed and telegraph wires cut. General Headquarters were asked to send a car with a reliable driver for the removal of arms and equipment. 

The car from General Headquarters was late in arriving so Mooney and the men from Trim Company started on bicycles, dividing into small groups of two or three to avoid attracting attention to their movements. They met the Longwood men at the agreed meeting point and Mooney detailed each man’s duty to him. The car from General Headquarters caught up with the Volunteers. Reaching Ballivor the main body approached the Barracks and divided into two sections, some of them succeeding in getting into the rear. The others went to their posts at the road junctions and ensured that nobody would leave the village while the attack was going on. Paddy Mooney, Pat Fay and Stephen Sherry went boldly to the door, knocked and on being challenged gave the name of one of the locals who was in the habit of calling to the barracks in the evening. The door opened slightly and when the policeman realised it was not the man whose name had been given, he pulled his revolver and tried to shut the door. Mooney ordered him to drop his gun and open up and at the same time called in the others to push the door in. There was a rush, then a shot and the policeman dropped. Constable William Agar was shot through the heart and died instantly. In the meantime the Volunteers at the rear led by Harry O’Hagan and Joe Lawlor attacked the back door and the barracks was taken. Mooney’s first act was to attend to the policeman but he was already dead.

Constable Agar with thanks to Maureen McGearty for the photograph

Aged thirty five Constable Agar came from Carlow. His father was evicted from a farm at Coolnakisha near the Kilkenny-Carlow border during the land war and the family went to live in the town of Carlow. The dead constable had been working for Mr. E. Boake, Tullow Street, Carlow and was very popular. He joined the RIC about 1907.  Constable Agar was buried at St. Mary’s Church in Rathvilly, Co. Carlow. He left a widow Florence and a seven year old daughter, Violet.

Mooney had the body removed to one of the rooms. The other two policemen present were locked inside the day room and then all the arms and ammunitions and other materials of use were collected.  Volunteers gathered a revolver, five rifles, revolver pouches and a large quantity of ammunition and made a hasty getaway in the direction of Kildalkey. The outposts on the approach roads had done their jobs well and one of those detained was the other policeman returning to duty. He was brought to the barracks and locked up with the others. A search was made for the sergeant but he could not be found. Séamus Finn said “This was a disappointment as it was intended to give him a lesson which would ensure that his behaviour, which was not good in the raids on the homes of Volunteers in Trim and Athboy would improve.”

Sgt McDermott at door of Ballivor Barracks with thanks to Maureen McGearty for the photograph

The Volunteers numbered about fourteen Volunteers including Commandant Paddy Mooney in charge, Paddy Fay, Harry O’Hagan, Joe Lawlor, Joe Kelly, Stephen Sherry of Trim Company, Pat Giles, Larry Giles and two others M. Fagan and McEvoy from Longwood Company.

The morning after the raid Paddy Lalor and five others were arrested in Trim and taken in for questioning. But they were released shortly afterwards. The police wanted to avoid any further escalation of activity in the area. In Ballivor a jury of local people said the police were always popular in the area and did their duty impartially. An old man, named William McKeown, said that about 10 o’clock on Friday night he was going to the village pump to get water, when two men, who were standing near the police barracks, cried out, “Go back; if you come on you will be shot! ” He ran back, and immediately afterwards heard a shot. Other evidence showed that a motor-car was seen in a wood near the barracks that evening. The jury found that death was due to rupture of the heart caused by a bullet deliberately fired by some person unknown. Bishop Gaughran, Bishop of Meath invoked the curse of God not only on the perpetrators of such foul deeds but also on all who actively co-operated with them.

On 1st March 1920, at Trim, Mr Justice Pim awarded £2500 to Agar’s family – £1400 to Florence and £1000 to Violet. On 9th April 1923, Florence married James Brookes, club steward, of Springfield Road, Belfast, with whom she had two more children. Violet was awarded a further £288 towards her education in 1927.

In the spring of 1920 the small police barracks such as Ballivor were abandoned and the police moved to the larger towns. Ballivor Barracks was burned by the IRA on Easter Sunday, 3 April 1920.  Thank you to Maureen McGearty for the photographs.

Effects of IRA Man

Item: £1 Sterling Note Found on Body of Patrick McDonnell.

Date:  March 1921

Find Location: Stonefield, Oldcastle

Current Location: Meath County Library


This banknote was found on the body of Commdt Patrick McDonnell, Intelligence Officer of the Stonefield/Oldcastle battalion, 3rd Meath Brigade of the IRA, after he was killed by RIC (Black and Tan) forces in a raid on his home in Stonefield on 22 March (“Spy Wednesday”), 1921. Patrick and his brother Thomas were out in the fields near their family home when the Crown raiding party arrived looking for Patrick. The two brothers, unarmed, were fired upon repeatedly as they ran across the field towards a neighbouring house; Patrick was shot and fatally wounded by one of the Black and Tan gunmen. The official RIC report merely stated that he was “shot while attempting to evade arrest”.

According to Seamus Finn, 3rd Brigade Adjutant, Patrick was engaged in important intelligence operations at the time and was close to discovering the source of leaks of information which had caused some IRA operations in the area to be aborted. Patrick’s brother, Thomas (father of the well-known All-Ireland-winning Meath footballer Mattie McDonnell) narrowly avoided being shot and managed to escape but was arrested soon afterwards and imprisoned by the Crown forces. Patrick, who had been a brilliant student, a B.A graduate from Maynooth and a fluent Irish speaker, was buried with full military honours in Ballinlough cemetery in the Republican plot beside his comrade and friend, Commdt. Seamus Cogan, killed in July 1920. There was a huge attendance at the funeral on Easter Monday, 28 March. These were the only officers of the Volunteers/IRA killed in Meath during the War of Independence.

Patrick’s body was brought to the British military post in the old workhouse in Kells (near the Fair Green at the top of Carrick St), where an autopsy was performed and a closed military inquiry “in lieu of inquest” was held before the body was released to the family. The doctor who performed the autopsy, it is believed, gave the banknote, which had been found by the military on the body, to the family. It is not certain who wrote the note inscribed on the banknote stating “Property of Patrick McDonnel (sic) I.R.A. native of Stonefield, shot by British Police at Stonefield on Holy Thursday 1921. R.I.P.”. Banknote property of Angela McDonnell, Kells (widow of the late Mattie McDonnell, Ballinlough); given for safe-keeping to Frank Cogan, nephew of Seamus Cogan, Clonasillagh and for subsequent presentation to the Decade of Commemorations archive, Meath County Library, Navan.  (Information note by Frank Cogan)

Further Information:

See article by Frank Cogan in the 2016 edition of the journal “Riocht na Midhe”, Meath Archaeological and Historical Soc.

RIC barracks, Trim, destroyed by the IRA 1920

On Sunday 26th September 1920 a large number of Volunteers from the South Meath division of the IRA burned the Trim R.I.C police barracks.

The local IRA members were drawn from Trim, Longwood, Ballivor and South Meath in general. The Lalor brothers from Castle Street were prominent members as well as the Duignans from High Street and the Proctors. Kit Lynam, Mick Hynes and Patrick Mooney were also involved in attack.

Trim RIC Barracks

Trim RIC Barracks burned

Trees cut to block the roads

The remains of an RIC Car after the burning

The day begun when part of the IRA Active Service Unit blocked all roads leading into Trim. Then a second section of the IRA Unit captured up to eight R.I.C men as they were attending Mass in the town. The petrol and paraffin oil used in the destruction of the barracks were brought from Athboy to Trim by Séamus Finn in a van on the morning of the attack. The arms captured in the raid were taken away by the same van. The barracks was a large fortified base located on the Summerhill road with a wall about fifteen feet high all around with large iron gates at the front. At the barracks the IRA Volunteers broke in wounding the Head Constable and capturing the remaining R.I.C officers inside. The IRA removed the police officers from the garrison, captured their weapons before pouring petrol over the building and burning it to the ground. By noon that day the Volunteers had escaped and all that remained was a smouldering heap of ashes. Twenty rifles, twenty shotguns, six revolvers, a box of grenades and ammunition for all arms taken. 

Four lorries of police and soldiers drove into the town to seek revenge. They opened fire on a group of boys and men who were playing a game of hurling on the fair green, injuring two in the attack. After a time the Crown forces then withdrew from the area offering a guarantee to the people that no more reprisals would occur. However at about two o`clock the following morning the Crown forces again returned for revenge. They attacked and burned the council offices, along with three houses and business premises. After two hours of attacks they then again withdrew from the town.

A newspaper report of the attack by the Black and Tans on Trim reported “Dublin September 27th 1920 – Early this morning the town of Trim, where the police barracks was burned yesterday and the head constable was shot, was partially wrecked by armed men. Some hours after the burning of the barracks, a party of soldiers took possession of the town and remained on duty until 10 o’clock at night, when they were withdrawn. The town was then quiet, and it remained so until 3 o’clock this morning, when a number of armed men who are said to have been Auxiliary Policemen, arrived in motor lorries and went through the streets shouting and firing their rifles.

The occupants of Higgins’ Hotel got three minutes to leave the place, and soon afterwards it was found to be on fire. A number of business houses in the main street were soon blazing, and this afternoon it was reported that most of the houses on both sides of Market Street, the principal thoroughfare, are burning. Two lads, named Kelly and Griffin, have been taken to hospital suffering from gunshot wounds. The damage to house property is estimated at £50,000. Trim, which is the assize town of County Meath, is within 30 miles of Dublin on the Midland Great Western Railway, and has a population of 1,500. It was ascertained tonight at Dublin Castle that a report will be issued regarding the outbreak at Trim. Full details of the occurrence have been telegraphed for and special officers have been sent to the town to make inquiries.”

Another newspaper report:  “A Navan correspondent telegraphed yesterday: – Two hundred of the Black and Tans entered the little town of Trim early this morning, singled out the shops and business establishments of those residents alleged to be in sympathy with Sinn Féin, and ransacked, pillaged, and burned all. At noon today when I visited the town it had all the appearance of a bombarded town in the war zone of France. Furniture is piled on the main street, houses are still smouldering, and the people are panic stricken. Two young men are lying in the local hospital, having been shot by the military. Head Constable White, who was also wounded, is not yet out of danger.

It appears that on Sunday evening military motor cars full of armed men dashed into Trim on the way to the police barracks which had been burned by raiders that morning. Shots were discharged at a group of boys playing hurley on the green, and one lad of 16, George Griffin, was shot through the groin, while another lad named James Kelly was shot in the leg. The priests sought out some of the officers, gave them an assurance that the town would be quiet, and that all would be indoors by eight o’clock. The military then departed.

At 3 o’clock this morning a force of Black & Tans entered the town. They visited the Town Hall in Castle Street, a licensed premises in Market Street, a drapery establishment in High Street (now Royal Auctioneers) and a mineral water factory and premises in Market Street. The doors were smashed-in. Petrol was commandeered and poured over the shops, and soon all were on fire. Today, nothing remains but the charred walls.

The proprietor of the mineral water factory, who is also Chairman of Trim Urban Council, estimates his loss at £20,000. He added that at 3.45 the door was broken in. His assistants heard the noise and fled. The uniformed men called for the Chairman of the Council, and he hid in the kitchen. Then the Black and Tans went through the place setting the premises on fire. In the drapery establishment, £8,000 worth of damaged goods and property is the measure of the reprisals. One of the two brothers owning the business is a member of the Urban Council.

In Castle Street the residents slept in the gardens. In this street is the Town Hall. A tailor living opposite whose family were in bed, was taken into the street and asked where his Sinn Féin sons were. He replied he did not know. A bayonet, it is stated, was placed against his breast and a Black and Tan is alleged to have said “put it through the beggar”. A postman appealed to the men to spare the old man. Then they smashed the door of his house, went through every room and destroyed every article in the place. All the residents in this street fled from their houses. The Town Hall was afterwards completely destroyed and all the town records burned. At 5 o’clock the Black & Tans left, threatening to return tonight to complete their work”.

Local memories recall the townspeople sheltering down by the Boyne for a few nights as the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries burnt out prominent businesses and the Town Hall. Footage of the burning of J&E Smyth can be viewed on the ‘Pathe’ website. Trim Barracks became the site for what is now the Castle Arch Hotel.

J&E Smyths shop on Market Street

Trim Town Hall Burned

Trim Refugees leaving the town for shelter

The mirror was removed from a burned out building.

As the locals posed with it a load of bullets fell out from the back of it.

46j George Griffin showing one of his cattle at the Royal Meath Show in later years. His injury affected the way he walked.

Born in a Castle – Killed in a Park

Bloody Sunday Croke Park 1920

Joe Traynor

My son, Luke, was doing Leaving Cert History and had to choose a project as part of his course work. He decided to do the project on his great grand uncle, Joe Traynor, who was killed in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday in November 1920.

Michael Traynor and Kate Langrell eloped from Aughrim to Dublin where they married in 1895. One of the reasons for their move was the fact that Michael was Roman Catholic and Kate was Church of Ireland and the marriage was frowned upon by her family. They made their home in Drimnagh Castle on the Long Mile Road and were the only family recorded living in the Castle in the 1901 census.

Joseph Traynor was born in Drimnagh Castle in 1900, the second child of the couple. The family moved a number of times before settling at Ballymount in 1918.  The only references to him been a member of the IRA are the inscription on his headstone, erected by his comrades, and his name on a list for Mount Argus Mass for members of F. Company, 4th Battalion, Dublin Brigade.   

Traynor was very interested in the political situation of the time. Traynor was captain of the “Young Emmets” GAA football club based in nearby Fox and Geese on the Naas Road. He was employed by James Cullen, a local farmer, as a labourer. He greatly admired the bravery of Kevin Barry who was executed on 1 November 1920.

Croke Park Ticket

On the morning of 21 November 1920 fourteen members of the British intelligence staff, known as the Cairo gang, were assassinated by Michael Collins’s Squad. This synchronized attack crippled British intelligence services in Ireland. A reprisal was in the air.

Later that day a match was being held at Croke Park between Tipperary and Dublin  A force of Auxiliaries and military were organised to go to Croke Park to search for gunmen and weapons among the attendance. In this tense atmosphere the IRA urged the GAA to call off the match. Crown Forces including Black and Tans, Auxiliaries and RIC converged on Croke Park with an Auxiliary officer in overall command of this mixed force.

Once the police convoy arrived at the Canal Bridge, it halted and the men in the leading cars got out. Six tenders of police proceeded up Jones’ Road. While Major Dudley was directing traffic, the Black and Tans from the leading cars rushed down the passage to the Canal End gate, forced their way through the turnstiles onto the field, and started firing rapidly with rifles and revolvers. Six spectators and one player, Michael Hogan, were shot dead. Five more were fatally wounded. Two people were trampled to death. Only two men admitted shooting at the crowd. Major Dudley stopped the shooting inside the park. The inquiry concluded that shooting lasted only ninety seconds. When it was over, seven spectators had been shot to death. Four of them had been shot in the back. Two more bled to death after they were hit in the leg and suffered broken thighbones. Of those killed in Croke Park, three were children, aged ten, eleven and fourteen years old.

Joe Traynor was unfortunately one of the thirteen people to be shot dead on that day, having been shot twice at the Canal End of Croke Park as he tried to make his escape with many others over the wall at that end. It is thought that the armed forces targeted these people trying to escape and it is likely that Joe was shot about 3.30 p.m. Traynor made it over the wall and into a laneway leading to Sackville Gardens. Traynor was taken in by the Ring family and an ambulance was summoned.  Traynor, though wounded in the back and unconscious, was still alive. He arrived at Jervis Street Hospital by 4.00 p.m. The surgeon confirmed that Traynor had been shot twice in the small of his back and died about an hour after admission.

Families gather outside Jervis Street Hospital during Military Inquiry

Traynor was a good friend of a PJ Ryan, with whom he attended the match on Bloody Sunday.  It was PJ Ryan who had to bring the tragic news of his death to Traynor’s parents in Ballymount later on that Sunday evening. A gun was supposedly removed from his family home shortly after his death.

Joe’s father, Michael, identified the body on Tuesday. A Military Inquiry was held in the hospital instead of a coroner’s inquest. Joe’s body was released and buried in Bluebell Cemetery on the Old Naas Road.

On 8 December 1920 the verdict of the court of inquiry was issued. The court addressed the question of who fired first – one of the British military or one of the spectators? Several of the RIC witnesses contend that the firing began from inside the ground. The court found that during a raid on Croke Park on 21 November 1920 by a mixed force of RIC, auxiliary police and military, firing was started by unknown civilians, either as a warning of the raid or else to create a panic, and that the injuries to dead civilians were inflicted by rifle or revolver fire from the canal bridge by the RIC, some of whom fired over the crowd’s heads, others of whom fired into the crowd at persons believed to be trying to evade arrest. It also found that the RIC firing was carried out without orders and in excess of what was required but that no firing came from the auxiliary police or the military, except that soldiers in an armoured car fired a burst into the air to stop the crowd from breaking through and out of the ground. Serious doubts were expressed about the official version of events.

Bloody Sunday shocked Ireland and Britain. It seemed as if the British forces had chosen the attendance at a harmless game of football as an easy target to obtain revenge for a crushing military loss.

At Joe Traynor’s Grave – November 2020

 Burning of Summerhill House

Summerhill House

On the 4th February 1921 Summerhill House was set on fire by the IRA and completely destroyed. Seán Boylan said he had received a message from General Headquarters that the Auxiliaries were going to occupy Summerhill House. Boylan gave orders for the house to burned down immediately. Captain Michael Graham and the Summerhill Company carried out the order. Colonel and Mrs Rowley were away. The five servants who lived in the house were sitting together in the kitchen when they heard a knock on the back door. The English butler did not open the door and some minutes later a whistle was blown and the back door battered in. The servants escaped through a door into the basement and made their way out into the darkness. As they walked down the avenue the house was doused in petrol and fire started in a number of places. Fifty six gallons of paraffin oil was used to set the building ablaze.

Summerhill House Interior

The reason given for firing the house was that it ‘on high ground which commanded one of the routes to the west. The Auxiliaries with field glasses, could have swept the country’. Séamus Finn said there had been some intensive enemy activity around the Summerhill area and it was surmised that this was a forerunner to the occupation by a strong force of Auxiliaries of Summerhill House. It was reported by one of the raiders that there were 36 chickens ready to be roasted for the imminent arrival of the Auxiliaries. The Earl of Mayo in the House of Lords in February 1922 said “The military said that they were very likely to take over Summerhill. Once a rumour of that kind gets about the place is, of course, a marked house. The tragic thing is that Mr. Rowley, who inherited the house, actually had a letter in his pocket saying that the military were not going to take it over when he went down to find the house burned. Some of your Lordships may know the house; it was a beautiful building, and full of beautiful things.”

The house was ‘reduced to a mass of blackened ruins’ with the complete loss of its contents. There was a miniature lake on the roof of the house and police and fire fighters shot at the lake in the hopes of the water escaping and extinguishing the fire.

In 1921 Colonel Rowley, the 6th Baron Langford, sought compensation from the Free State Government. In September 1921, a claim for £100,000 was made at Trim quarter sessions for Summerhill and £30,000 for its contents. However only £65,000 was awarded for the house and £11,000 for contents. Given the size of the proposed award, the matter was referred to the Compensation Commission which eventually awarded £43,500 in damages, with no obligation to rebuild, approximately one third of the value of the house and contents destroyed in the fire. Colonel Rowley invested the money in gilt-edged stocks and moved to Middlesex, England.

Summerhill House Ruins

The cut stone from the house was sold off in 1957 and the remains were bulldozed into the ground in the early 1970s. Some of the stones from the ruins were used at Dalgan Park, Navan to construct a loggia. Though Summerhill House has been demolished, the entrance and tree-lined avenue are reminders of the demesne. The curved wall and gate piers were clearly executed by skilled masons. The entrance acts as a focal point within the village of Summerhill. Summerhill Demesne is private property.

Summerhill House was considered to be one of the most dramatic of the Irish Palladian houses. Crowning a hill to the south of Summerhill village, the house consisted of a main block with curved wings ending in a tower and pavilion. Summerhill House was designed by Edward Lovett Pearce and completed by Richard Castle, two of the greatest architects working in Ireland in the eighteenth century. The house consisted of a large two-storey seven-bay block with a Corinthian giant order  framing the three central bays, two massive  square towers at each end, and great arched chimneystacks. Two of the ceilings were attributed to the Lafranchini brothers. Summerhill House, described by Mulligan as a ‘great palatial mansion,’ was erected about 1730 for Hercules Rowley. Bence–Jones described Summerhill as “the most dramatic of the great Irish Palladian houses”. The house was burned accidentally about 1800 and remodelled in the nineteenth century.

The lands at Summerhill were the seat of the Lynch family which were granted to Henry Jones, Bishop of Meath, for his services provided as Scoutmaster General to Cromwell’s Army. In 1661 Bishop Jones sold the lands to Sir Hercules Langford. The name changed from Lynch’s Knock to Summerhill. Sir Hercules Langford died in 1683 leaving a son, Arthur, and a daughter, Mary. Arthur died without an heir and the estate went to his sister Mary who had married Sir John Rowley in 1671. Sir John was succeeded by his son, Hercules Rowley, MP for Co. Londonderry 1703-42 and heir to Sir Hercules Langford of Summerhill. Hercules Rowley commissioned Sir Edward Lovett Pearce in collaboration with Richard Castle to build one of the greatest and most dramatic of all the Irish Georgian houses in 1731. The house was probably erected in preparation for his marriage in 1732 to Elizabeth Upton. Summerhill House was leased to the Empress of Austria for hunting in 1879 and 1880.

“You would imagine they were mad”

The Auxies attack on Chandlers, Robinstown

The Auxiliary Division of the RIC, commonly known as the Auxies, were largely recruited from demobilised British Army officers and paid £1 a day. In August 1920 Brigadier General Frank Crozier was appointed Commanding Officer of the Auxiliary Division, Royal Irish Constabulary. Poorly trained and poorly led they soon gained a reputation for drunkenness and brutality. General Crozier supplied the guard for Kevin Barry who was executed in the morning of 1 November 1920. Crozier said “In Ireland, as no hangman could be found to hang Barry, we had to bring one all the way from England, in disguise and in great secrecy. He came 300 miles across the sea, surreptitiously, to hang a rebel murderer. Or – he came 300 miles across the sea, surreptitiously, to hang a soldier of Ireland. You see, so much depends on one’s point of view.” Crozier was also the man in nominal charge of the Croke Park operation on 21 November 1920. Earlier that day Michael Collin’s men assassinated fourteen members of the Cairo gang, a team of British spies operating in Dublin. In the afternoon a force of RIC officers and Auxiliaries under Crozier’s command opened fire on the crowd at the in Croke Park killing fourteen civilians.

Trim Industrial School

In January 1921 N Company of the Auxiliary Force came into being in Dublin. On the first of February a company of thirty Auxiliaries arrived into Trim and occupied the Industrial School. The orphans were moved to the workhouse across the road. At the top of the central block the Auxiliaries placed a machine gun and search light. According to one local paper report there was as many as 400 Auxiliaries in the Industrial School. Local Volunteer Paddy Lalor estimated that there were one hundred.

About forty Auxiliaries from Trim took part in a raid on a public house/grocers at Robinstown, Balbradagh, on the night of 9 February 1921. The property was owned by Richard Chandler, a Unionist and Protestant. The Auxiliaries said they were searching for IRA ammunition.

Chandlers Premises

The Auxiliaries ransacked the store and began stealing from both the store and the living quarters above. According to Mrs. Chandler the Auxies stole brandy, bacon, sugar, money, jewellery, bed clothes and household items. Mrs. Chandler said “They all seemed to be officers. They were running up and down the stairs and you would imagine they were mad.” They had eleven lorries into which they threw the bedclothes through the window.

They left but about thirty of them returned. They went from room to room, looting.  They then went to the public house and took all the drink – whiskey, new milk, rum, port wine, stout, ale, twenty-three bottles of brandy, champagne and 200 pounds of sugar. They swept everything into the lorries. They also mistreated Mrs. Chandler. The Chandlers claimed damages of £325.

Mr. Richard Chandler, Mrs. Chandler, Miss Parsons and Mr. Parsons at Trim Courthouse

Five members of the raiding party came forward and reported the incident to Crozier. Crozier went to Trim and interrogated a number of Auxiliaries on Sunday, 13th February. The following day twenty six men were taken to Beggar’s Bush and tried by General Crozier and dismissed from the force as “unsuitable for the RIC.”  The cadets went to London and visited the Irish Office. General Tudor the commander of all police forces in Ireland was in London at the time.

Tudor reinstated the twenty five dismissed men because it was “politically inadvisable” and he was ‘unsatisfied’ by their treatment by Crozier. On February 19th Crozier resigned his post giving his reason “I still consider that theft on the part of policemen in the course of their duties is unpardonable and I cannot honestly associate myself with a force in which such acts are condoned.”

Known as “The looting of Trim” the raid made international news, including the New York Times. From the 9th February the town of Trim was under a curfew from ten at night to five in the morning, the only exceptions being doctors, nurses and clergy.

On February 28th Cadet V.R. Scott was seriously injured by an “accidental” discharge of a revolver in what seemed to have been suicide attempt. In April 1921 the Auxiliaries vacated the Industrial School. As they marched through the streets they sang “You’ll Remember Me.”

They raised the Flag in India

The Connaught Rangers and Dublin Fusiliers Mutiny

In late June 1920 a company of Connaught Rangers based at Jullundur in India refused to perform their duties as a protest against the activities of the Black and Tans in Ireland. They sent two men to another company in Solon, about twenty miles away and that group also joined the mutiny. The tricolour was raised and loyal troops withdrew. The mutineers initially gave up their weapons and the protest was peaceful but they did want action from the British authorities in relation to the atrocities in Ireland. About thirty men decided to retrieve their rifles from the Solon company magazine and attacked the soldiers guarding the guns. The soldiers opened fire and killed two men and wounding another. The mutineers were placed under armed guard and their leaders tried and sentenced to execution. However the sentences of most were changed to imprisonment and only one man, the leader, Private James Joseph Daly, of Tyrellspass, Westmeath was executed. Daly was shot by a firing squad in Dagshai Prison on 2 November 1920, becoming the last member of the British Armed Forces to be executed for mutiny Sixty-one men were convicted for their role in the mutiny.  The imprisoned men were transferred to English prisons and released when the Truce was signed. The Connaught Rangers along with three other Irish regiments were disbanded on the foundation of the Free State in 1922.

James Fitzsimons served with the Connaught Rangers and took a part in the mutiny but was not court-martialled. James was born in 1900, the son of Patrick Fitzsimons and Catherine, nee Callaghan, of Navangate Trim. Trim. James lived at Navangate, Trim and Tullaghanogue, Trim in the 1930s. Fitzsimons enlisted in Dublin in August 1919 as a private in the Connaught Rangers. He went to India at age 18 and took part in the Connaught Rangers Mutiny in 1920. A member of the 1st Battalion, Fitzsimons was in the mutiny from the start. Lance Corporal McGowan paraded the men and asked the men to join. The leaders were picked out and the remainder of the mutineers were imprisoned in the Cock Bungalow which was surrounded by a wire fence. Fitzsimons fell ill and was brought under military escort to the hospital in Jullundur.  He was treated in hospital for dysentery and malaria for three weeks under armed guard following the surrender. In 1922 he was dismissed from the Army on disbandment of the Connaught Rangers and the other Irish units in the British Army.

In the early 1930s Fitzsimons got about three months a year work as temporary postman but the rest of the year was unemployed. His claim for a pension as a member of the Mutiny was turned down in 1937 as he had not been court-martialled.

Mooltan Fort, Punjab, India

John Fitzpatrick was born in 1900, the son of John and John Fitzpatrick, labourer, and his wife Mary Anne, a domestic in Limekiln Street, Navan. In 1911 the family lived at St. Patrick’s Terrace, Navan. Enlisting in October 1915, John Fitzpatrick served with the Leinster Regiment in France, Egypt and the Holy Land and transferred to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in 1919.

In 1920 Fitzpatrick was in touch with Patrick Joseph Clinch who was co-ordinating IRA affairs around Navan. In late 1920 Fitzsimons came on furlough from Aldershot with manuals and revolvers which he handed over to Clinch at Kilcarn. Fitzpatrick was employed by James Quigley as a road worker until the British forces arrested him and returned him to Aldershot. He was tried, lost three stripes and was sent to India.

Fitzpatrick took part in the Mutiny as a leader of an abortive mutiny by the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in India. A mutiny committee was formed, Sinn Féin posters placed on the walls and an Irish tricolour flown from Multan Fort. The flag flew for 15 hours before being removed by loyal troops. The mutineers met with local Indian nationalists and planned to destroy the railway. A plan was hatched to capture the Indian Viceroy who had a residence in the Simhla Hills. Fitzpatrick was arrested and taken to Dagshai Jail. This prison was where the leader of the Connaught Rangers Mutiny, James Joseph Daly of Tyrellspass, Westmeath, had been executed and Fitzpatrick saw his grave. Fitzpatrick’s rations were reduced to black tea and brown bread and his bedding to one blanket. Three other soldiers were arrested; Private Thomas Murray, Corporal Donohoe and Private Kirwan. Fr. Baker intervened on behalf of Fitzpatrick; Fr. Baker had also been a negotiator with the Connaught Rangers during the mutiny. Fitzpatrick was to be sent for trial and asked to write his defence. He wrote “No Defence. Freedom for Ireland.” Fitzpatrick was granted a pardon on the Irish Truce. He was escorted to Bombay, placed aboard a ship for England and dismissed from the army.  However, he was not court-martialled and therefore his case did not come under the terms of the Connaught Rangers Pensions Act.

Returning to Navan Fitzpatrick became an instructor for the IRA during the Truce period. Taking the Anti-Treaty side he was imprisoned at Mountjoy until June 1924. He married and had one daughter. John Fitzpatrick was the secretary of the Meath Unemployment Movement and in 1926 submitted a resolution on behalf of the unemployed to Meath County Council and to the Meath board of Health. The Commissioner acting for Trim Urban Council agreed that unemployment was causing great distress.  In 1931 Fitzpatrick wrote a letter appealing for help for the unemployed to the Meath Chronicle. By the mid 1930s Fitzpatrick was still finding it difficult to get employment and actually ended up in the Mental Hospital in Mullingar. In the 1940s John Fitzpatrick was active in the Labour Party nominating Patrick Clusker as a candidate in the Navan Urban Council elections.

Thomas Murray was born in White Cross, County Armagh. The family settled at Kilcarn, Navan. Thomas’s father died about 1931 and his mother, Bessie, continued to live at Kilcarn until her death in 1955. During the First World War Murray served in the British Army with the Dublin Fusiliers and Connaught Rangers. He took part in the Mutiny as a leader of an abortive mutiny by the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in India.

Thomas served with the National Army in Drogheda but deserted in August 1922 and joined the Anti-Treaty Irregulars. He arrested in Dundalk and was tried and convicted by Military Court of possession of revolver and six rounds of ammunition.

Murray was executed along with Thomas McKeown of Bellurgan and John McNulty of County Armagh on the morning of 13 January 1922 in the County Jail, Dundalk. His mother having not heard from her son for five months began to ask questions and it was ascertained that he had been executed. 

In 1924 the Government decided to hand over the bodies of the men executed during the Civil War to their families. In October 1924 Murray’s remains were released to his mother. Thomas Murrray’s remains were buried in the Republican Plot in the New Cemetery in Navan along with Laurence Sheeky, Braystown, Slane and Terence Brady, Wilkinstown.

Who killed Thomas Hodgett, Navan Postmaster?

Thomas Hodgett was a native of Dungannon, Co. Tyrone. In 1884 Thomas Hodgett, an employee of the post office in Dungannon, was said to have carried an Orange flag in front of a procession through the streets of Dungannon, and accompanied the Orange expedition to Dromore. He was rebuked for his indiscretion and left the service. This incident was queried in the British Parliament. He rejoined the Post Office service and gradually worked his way up to being appointed Postmaster of Navan in 1917. He and his family came to live at Academy Street.

Grace and Thomas Hodgett

Hodgett handled large amounts of cash as part of his position and so would have been in constant contact with the security forces. The Post Office was regarded as part of the operations of the State but Hodgett was not active politically in Navan. Hodgett came into conflict with the local Royal Irish Constabulary for reporting raids by the police on sub-post offices. Head Constable Queenan planted his daughter in the telegraphs room of Post Office to spy on republican communications and this resulted in tension with Hodgett as she was not properly recruited. The local Volunteers did have sympathisers and informers working in the Post Office.

On Friday night 18 February 1921 Bernard O’Brien and his wife were asleep in their upstairs bedroom in Academy Street when four men came and knocked at their door. The men identified themselves as Black and Tans and when the door was not answered they broke in and went to the bedroom where they asked where Mr. Hodgett lived and they were told “Next door”. Thomas and his wife, Grace Hodgett, were woken by a shot in the street which was followed by loud banging on their front door. Mrs. Hodgett called out “Who’s there?” The response was “Police”, however when they were admitted they said they were “Sinn Féiners.” The men spoke among themselves in some gibberish language, which Mrs. Hodgett said was certainly not Irish. A young man on the street was stopped by the men and told “hurry home in the name of the Irish Republic.” Hodgett was ordered to get dressed, his wife Grace assisted him as he was partly paralysed from a stroke he had previously. Hodgett was marched up Bridge Street and Ludlow Street to Market Square and finally past the RIC Barracks, to Poolboy Bridge at the bottom of Flower Hill. His boots were not laced and he had only one sock.  Hodgett was shot and his body thrown over the bridge. The next morning pools of blood were found at the bridge. A search was made in the river and five weeks later his body was recovered on the banks of the Boyne near Aylesbury’s Sawmills by local fisherman.

Police dredging the river

On the day after the body was found a Court of Inquiry was held. The family, various civilian  and police witnesses gave evidence. A number of police witnesses testified that they had dinner in the Russell Arms and returned to the Barracks and had seen nothing. The shots fired at Poolboy bridge were not heard by the police in their barracks a few yards away. The Court found that the deceased was murdered by some persons or persons unknown. Dublin Castle issued a statement which claimed Hodgett had been killed by Republicans. Hodgett’s remains were buried in the churchyard at St. Mary’s Church of Ireland church.

Grace Hodgett wrote to King George VI, the British Prime Minister Lloyd George and the Head of the British Army in Ireland, naming the RIC Officers who had taken part in the murder. She always denied that republicans had killed her husband. No one was charged with his murder and British Authorities in Navan refused to accept responsibility for the murder. According to sources the murderers were County Inspector Egan, his brother District Inspector Meredith Egan and Captain Hartley, a Tan from Gormanston. These men were having dinner and drinks at the Russell Arms on Ludlow Street and the abductors of Hodgett passed him on to this group outside the Russell Arms. Grace Hodgett died in 1931 and was buried with her husband in the churchyard in Navan.

Today Hodgett is remembered by a plaque on Poolboy Bridge, Navan. The Post Office is now a McDonalds. Bernard O’Brien’s of Academy Street is now Smyth’s of the Bridge.

Liam McCarthy has written an excellent article entitled “The Murder of Thomas Hodgett, Postmaster at Navan 1917 -1921” which is on the Navan Historical Society’s website and published in the Navan Historical Journal 1.


Séamus Finn – Athboy

Séamus Finn

James (Séamus) Finn was born in Athboy in 1897, the son of John, a draper from Roscommon and his wife, Elizabeth, nee Moore. About July 1916 Séamus Finn was at a Gaelic League class in Athboy when in conversation with others he decided to make contact with the Volunteer groups in the county. There seemed to be some resistance to re-organising and Volunteers felt a little discouraged after the failure to mobilise at Easter. Finn made contacts with the organisation in Dublin. A county committee was established with Finn as secretary. The Volunteers were to infiltrate the Sinn Féin clubs, GAA and Gaelic League. Volunteers groups began to be organised in Kells, Navan, Trim and in smaller areas throughout the county. In 1917 Seán Boylan took charge of the county group with Finn as adjutant.

In 1918 Finn took control of a number of Meathmen who were drafted into Cavan to support the campaign of Arthur Griffith in the by-election. In the summer of 1918 there was a strike by farm labourers and there were threats that British military would be introduced to protect the employer’s interests. It was decided to derail a military train at Beauparc. The men from Athboy had training in this type of work and so were delegated to do the job. A train with empty wagons was derailed and wrecked. The strike finished shortly afterwards.

In 1919 Finn was among the Meath officers that went to Dublin to discuss detailed plans for the burning of rural RIC Barracks. Finn took part in the aborted raid on Bohermeen Barracks.

Finn was responsible for acquiring the oil and inflammable material required to set Trim RIC barracks alight in September 1920. The brigade officers devised the plan to capture and destroy the barracks. Finn organised the blocking of roads in the Athboy and Kells area on the morning of the attack. Finn and another volunteer covered the front of the barracks while the attack took place. Having captured the arms and set the barracks on fire Finn and two other Volunteers gathered up the captured arms and carried them to a safe location.

The local elections of 1921 were an opportunity for Sinn Féin to put forward their own candidates and have motions passed breaking links with the British Local Government Board. Finn was elected as chairman of Trim Rural District Council and was as such an ex officio member of Meath County Council. The military occupied the County Hall and the council had to go on the run.

Séamus Cogan and Finn met on a number of occasions to plan the taking of Crossakiel Barracks. On the day after one of these meeting Cogan was killed and Finn had to organised the full military honours ceremony for the funeral. Finn led the parade to the church. The roads at the rear were blocked to impede the British forces. Finn was an observer at the testing of a mortar in Dunboyne at which Matty Furlong lost a leg and Seán Boylan was injured. The plans to burn Summerhill House was discussed at meetings in Dublin at which Finn attended. On some occasions he had narrow escapes from the military as he went or left Dublin. With the arrival of the Auxiliaries in Trim actions became more dangerous. Notices were posted on the houses of Volunteers or sympathisers saying their houses would be burned. Finn drew up a list of enemy houses to be burned if Volunteers’ were going to be attacked and circulated it. No houses were burned. A new policy of attacking police patrol was introduced and Finn took part in an aborted ambush outside Athboy. Proposed ambushes at Navan, Trim and Oldcastle had similarly been cancelled.  Spies were a difficulty and ten people were executed in the Brigade area for spying. Finn said these were the hardest operations which the men had to undertake and taxed their courage and discipline to the limit.

At the end of 1920 Finn was Vice Commandant and Adjutant of the Brigade. The Belfast boycotts was strictly enforced by the men of Athboy Volunteers. Finn assisted the Delvin men in rescuing one of the Westmeath men who was captured and being held in Mullingar Military Barracks.  A young woman went in to visit “her brother”, gave him a set of women’s clothes and they walked out of the prison as calmly as they could. Finn commandeered a car and got the freed man to Dunboyne. In the April 1921 re-organisation of the IRA Colonel Commandant Finn was made director of Special Training and Services. Orders were given to concentrate on disrupting road transport by demolishing bridges. Michael Collins discussed the landing of American machine guns with Finn who was to locate a safe landing spot. Finn scouted out the area and met the local Volunteers. The coastguard stations were burned. When the guns were captured in America Finn was dispatched to Kildare. He returned to the Dunboyne Headquarters when plans for attacking the troop train at Celbridge were being made. During the Truce there was a pogrom by Orangemen in the North. About thirty of the leaders of the Orange mobs were captured and detained at Trim for some time. The number of attacks in the North decreased while these men were in detention. Finn said the signing of the Treaty was a sad affair for many of the Volunteers. 

Finn provided one of the most detailed Meath statements to the Bureau of Military History.  He was in later years an independent member of Meath County Council and was also an independent candidate in general elections. Finn was very active in the Old IRA Federation 1916 -21 and died in 1974.

Finn’s Shop, Athboy

 Mick Hynes

Mick Hynes in Bohermeen jersey 1914

Michael Hynes, born in 1882, was the son of Thomas and Julia Hynes. Thomas was a shepherd and steward at Tullyard, Trim. In 1901 Michael Hynes was employed as a shop assistant by Richard Kelly of Athboygate, Trim, and he resided on the premises. In 1911 Hynes was still a grocer’s clerk but was residing at home with his parents and family at Tullyard.

Hynes was a prominent member of the Bohermeen G.A.A. football team which held the county senior football championship for a number of years. There was no Trim team during these years. Hynes joined the Trim hurlers and was in the Trim’s team which won their first senior hurling title in January 1916 in the 1915 final and followed it up with Trim holding the title for nine years.

Hynes became involved in the Volunteer movement after the 1916 Rising. The first meeting of the Trim Company of Irish Volunteers took place in November 1916 at the water reservoir at Effernock. Eleven men joined and the first Company Captain was Séamus O’Higgins but was later succeeded by Mick Hynes.Trim was one of the earliest companies to be formed in Meath. In a restructuring about a year later Hynes became Officer Commanding of the Second Trim battalion which covered the areas of Trim, Boardsmill, Ballivor, Longwood, Enfield and Dunderry.His brothers, Patrick and James, also served with the Trim Company. Michael Hynes, giving his address as Market Street, was elected to terim Urban District Council in 1920 representing Sinn Féin/Labour.

In late 1919 Trim based Constable Meehan got in touch with the local IRA through Hynes. Hynes informed Meehan that the Tans were on their way to Trim and the barracks needed to be taken before they arrived. The couple began to make plans to capture the barracks. Meehan told Hynes that the best time to take the barracks was on a Sunday morning during first Mass at the local church. Meehan drew a plan of the barracks and showed the location of all the rooms including the ammunition store. Meehan also gave Hynes an impression of the keys of the front and back doors which he made in bars of soap.

On Sunday 26th September 1920 a large number of Volunteers from the South Meath division of the IRA burned the Trim R.I.C police barracks. Mick Hynes  and Paddy Mooney were in charge of the raid. Hynes and Mooney were first though the door of the barracks. As they did so Head Constable White appeared with a drawn revolver but the Volunteers got off a shot and the Head Constable fell dead.

Following the burning of Trim barracks a reward of £1,000 was offered for the three ring leaders, Hynes, Mooney and Séamus Higgins. These men often stayed at the Keely house in Iskaroon, Dunderry, while they were on the run. While on the run Hynes fell ill with pneumonia and had to fight the illness under terrible conditions.

Word came down from headquarters that ambushes were to be organised to keep the British forces busy so that the British forces would not be transferred to places like Cork where there was more intense Volunteer activity. While on routine patrol on the night of Tuesday 25 January twelve of the Trim Tan and RIC garrison walked into an ambush by the local Volunteer Company at Haggard Street. “The Gael” McArdle, the two Hynes brothers, Mick and Pat, the two Higgins brothers Seán and Séamus, Ned and Jimmy Sheridan and a man named Kiernan took cover behind a wall at a derelict site on Haggard Street to await the patrol. The patrol numbered about twelve men and they patrolled the town each night when the public houses were about to close around 10 p.m. The Volunteers carried rifles, shotguns and a couple of hand-grenades. When the patrol were well inside the ambush position, grenades were thrown  and the Volunteers opened fire at the same time. The patrol ran for cover and replied to the Volunteer’s fire. A sharp battle ensued for fifteen minutes after which the Volunteers withdrew across fields to the back of the derelict site and got away on to the railway line. The patrolling police were hit hard that night and the attack on them ended only when reinforcements came to the scene. By then three of them lay wounded. They were Constables Barney and Packman who were English and a Scotsman, Constable McQuat. A week later Constable Barney, who had been wounded in the head, died in a hospital in Dublin. Following this attack another bout of fear gripped Trim as the populace anticipated a second night of reprisals. Schools closed, business came to a standstill and a large number of people left their homes, many of them taking refuge in the workhouse. Although there was some intimidation, warning notices urging the occupants to leave town were placed on the doors of the businesses of Sinn Féiners such as Harry Allen and Bernard Reilly of Market Street. The local clergy secured a guarantee that there would be no repeat of the September reprisals. This time the guarantee was honoured.

Hynes was in charge of the Trim Column until after the Truce. When the IRA was re-organised in April 1921 Hynes was appointed brigade quartermaster of the 2nd Meath Brigade.

Mick Hynes

He took the pro-Treaty side and served in the National Army until 1924. He was a small farmer and also worked in Trim for many years. Hynes served as chairman of the Old IRA South Meath group. He died in 1956, aged 74, at Tullyard and he was buried in Moymet cemetery. No memorial commemorates this man who fought for Ireland.


Séamus O’Higgins

Michael Higgins of Freyne House, Athboy had a son, John, who settled in Clonmellon. John’s eldest son, Thomas Francis, settled at Stradbally, Co. Laois. In 1923 Thomas was killed in a raid by Anti-Treaty Forces on his home. His son, Kevin O’Higgins, served as Minister for Home Affairs and Justice during the Civil War. During this time he signed the execution orders of seventy-seven political prisoners including Rory O’Connor who had been bestman at his wedding a short time before. He was assassinated in 1927 on the way to Mass by Anti-Treaty forces.  As he lay dying he said ‘I forgive my murderers’.

Kevin O’Higgins’s brother, Thomas Francis O’Higgins, was T.D. for North Dublin, 1921-31 and for Cork City from 1948. He was County Medical Officer for Meath from 1930. He served as Minister for Defence and as Minister for Industry and Commerce. His son, Thomas Francis O’Higgins, served as a TD for Laois-Offaly and for South County Dublin. He was the Fine Gael candidate in the 1966 and 1973 presidential elections. He also served as Chief Justice of Ireland from 1974-85.

John Higgins of Clonmellon married Anne Waters and their son, James Joseph, settled at Market Street, Trim as a hotel keeper, grocer and auctioneer. The premises was on the corner of Market Street and what is now Emmet Street, now occupied by the Credit Union. James married Mary O’Connor of Cavan and they had nine children including: Anne, Catherine, Mary Rose, Elizabeth Josephine, Ellie, Michael, Thomas, John Anthony and James. A number of the children were baptised in Clonmellon. James was born in 1894. 

Séamus O’Higgins

Re-enactment of the foundation of the Trim company of the Irish Volunteers November 2016

The first meeting of the Trim Company of Irish Volunteers took place in November 1916 at the water reservoir at Effernock. Eleven men joined including Seán and Séamus O’Higgins with the first Company Captain being Séamus O’Higgins but he was later succeeded by Mick Hynes. Séamus O’Higgins and Séamus Finn made contacts in Summerhill and Longwood which led to the formation of companies there. A year later in November 1917 Séamus O’Higgins was elected as joint secretary of the South Meath Sinn Fein executive.

Séamus O’Higgins and Séamus Finn went to Cootehill during the 1918 East Cavan by-election and took charge of the Meath Volunteers who carried out police and protection work during the election.

In late 1919 O’Higgins was charged with unlawful possession of an automatic pistol, ammunition and seditious documents. He refused to recognise the court at Ship Street Barracks, Dublin, and was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment with hard labour. Sent to serve his sentence in Mountjoy he took part in a hunger strike and was released after five days when he was weakened by the refusal to take food. O’Higgins then had to go on the run from the authorities. He was in poor shape after the hunger strike and went to Kilcormac, Co. Offaly to recuperate, where he was the guest of Fr. O’Reilly.

Following the capture and burning of Trim RIC Barrack the Black and Tans burned a number of premises in Trim. The O’Higgins women and a number of other female relatives of those involved went to Clonmellon for safety.  The occupants of Higgins’ Hotel were given three minutes to leave the place, and soon afterwards it was found to be on fire. Following the burning of Trim Barracks a reward of £1,000 was offered for the three ring leaders, Mick Hynes, Paddy Mooney and Séamus O’Higgins.

Higgins and Séamus Finn went on a tour of inspection of the local battalions including Dangan and Delvin. Higgins then went to stay with Mrs. Liam Sheridan whose husband was in gaol and she was left struggling to keep the farm going and attend to a young family.

O’Higgins acted as prosecution counsel at the trial of William Gordon for the murder of Mark Clinton. In 1920 O’Higgins was elected to Trim Urban Council. At the end of 1920 O’Higgins was serving as Brigade Quartermaster. O’Higgins was one of the men who took part in the ambush of the Auxiliaries on Haggard Street in January 1921. O’Higgins took a pro-Treaty stance.

O’Higgins joined the army and achieved a rank of Colonel. From 1929 to 1932 he served as Adjutant-General. In 1939 he took over command at the Curragh but was then transferred back to General Headquarters as Director of Training. In September 1939 a revolver he was examining went off and injured him in the head. He underwent a serious operation and remianed in hospital until his death in November 1940. His remains were interred in the family plot at Newtown, Trim. His brother Séan also joined the army and reached the rank of Captain before his early death in 1925 from pneumonia. His remain were also laid to rest in the family plot at Newtown. Neither men is recorded on the family memorial stone.

Gravestone in Newtown Trim Additional Inscription added 2021 courtesy of Aidan Heffernan


Just One British Soldier killed in Meath during 1916-23 Period

There was just one and one only British soldier killed in Meath by rebel forces during the 1916-23 period. There was just one English combatant killed in Ashbourne – District Inspector Henry Smyth. An English born chauffeur Albert Keep also died in that action.

Quarter Master Sergeant J.H. Harrod of the South Wales Borders based in Navan left the Workhouse Barracks on the evening of 16 May 1920 and headed in the direction of Ardbraccan. Dressed in civilian clothes he may have been going there to court a local servant girl or he could have had a second reason of collecting information as well. On his failure to return a search was initiated. On 26 May his body was discovered in the River Blackwater. The body had been weighed down, there was a wound in the head and the hands had been tied behind his back. His mouth was gagged with a handkerchief. Harrod was based in Navan for six months before his killing and had been popular locally.  When found his money and watch were missing. His remains were removed from Navan to Dublin on to England for internment.

Another British soldier was killed accidently during the period. Lance Corporal William Alfred Bricknell of the 15th Hussars accidently shot himself on 8 August 1920. The son of George and Rosa Bricknell of Oxford, Bricknell was based at the Workhouse in Dunshaughlin and in August 1920 he decided to go hunting rabbits. Aged just 18 he poked the ground with the butt end of a loaded rifle, the rifle went off and the bullet killed him. The shot was heard by his comrades and a search began which ended three hours later when the body was found in a ditch into which he had fallen. His remains were buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Oxford.

A number of former British soldiers who were living locally were executed as spies by the IRA. A number of former British soldiers living locally used the experience they had gained and fought for independence.

One of the first Guards was stationed in Meath

First Guard stationed in Julianstown 1922

The Royal Irish Constabulary were not acceptable as a police force for the new state.  In January 1922 Eamonn Duggan, Minister for Home Affairs met the Minister for Defence and agreed that the Republican Police would go back to their Volunteer units and agreed that a trained police or military officer should employed to assist the government in the formation of a new police force. Duggan was asked to submit a plan for a Volunteer Police Force. Collins did not want the Republican Police involved as he wrote “We do not want a casual police force without proper training. It is not necessary for me to illustrate this by pointing to the wretched Irish Republican Police system and to the awful personnel that was attracted to its ranks.” On 9 February the police organising committee gathered at the Gresham Hotel. In attendance were Duggan, Collins, Michael J. Staines, Eoin O’Duffy, Volunteer  representatives and police representatives. Asked to prepared a report for discussion Staines produced a plan for a “People’s Guard” The committee proposed an armed police force and the name “Civic Guard.” 

There is some confusion as to who was the first member of the new force. Patrick McAvinia was one of the first four recruits who turned out on 21 February 1922 to enlist in the new Civic Guards. McAvinia was listed as recruit number 1. Later that week all the recruits were lined up and P.J. Kerrigan was listed as the first recruit and McAvania as number 2. Kerrigan had joined the RIC in 1913 with his first posting being County Meath. He enlisted in the Civic Guards in February 1922 but was dismissed in August for allegedly striking a prisoner. He went on to serve with the Dublin Metropolitan Police for two years before emigrating to America. 

A group of Gardai about 1923

McAvinia was born in 1895 in Killycliffen, Co. Cavan. McAvinia had served as a member of the RIC until 1917 when he resigned as a result of the proposal to introduce conscription. He said he retired due to having sympathy to the Sinn Féin cause. In 1918 McAvinia married Christina Allen, a member of Cumann na mBan.  

McAvinia served as a member of the Republican arbitration court in Galway, Mayo and Cavan where he had met Michael Staines, who was given the job of organising a police force.

McAvinia joined the Civic Guards on 21 February 1922 at its temporary headquarters at the R.D.S. grounds in Ballsbridge.  Due to the Spring Show the men moved to Kildare in April. In May 1922 a mutiny began as former RIC men were instructing men who had been Volunteers. McAvinia with his previous experience helped to drill and discipline the raw recruits. The mutineers took over the Barracks. Michael Collins travelled to Kildare to attempt to resolve the dispute. McAvinia and Superintendent John Byrne arrived at the gates but the mutineers drew their weapons and Byrne narrowly missed being shot. The two men fled and had to take refuge in the Railway Arms. A large crowd gathered and threaten to burn down the building. McAvinia and Byrne escaped through the back door and the following day made their way back to Dublin.

The new force was reconstituted as an unarmed police force and the group moved to different quarters until December 1922 when the British forces evacuated from the RIC headquarters and training centre in the Phoenix Park and the Civic Guard moved in.  The force were re-named “Garda Síochána” in August 1923.

McAvinia was transferred to Julianstown where according to his wife “Things in Meath were very hot, there was terrible bitterness between the pro and anti treatyies.” McAvinia moved to become sergeant in Drogheda.

Julianstown Police Barracks

Sergeant McAvinia retired from the Gardai in 1947 and then worked for an oil company for another fifteen years. He died in 1963.

To find out more about the early years of the Gardai read “A history of the Garda Síochána” by Liam McNiffe.

“A terrible loss to the Nation”

The Big Fellow and Meath

A young Michael Collins in Stafford Jail after the 1916 Rising – Collins is fifth from right.

Michael Collins joined the IRB in London. He returned to Ireland in January 1916 and became a Captain in the Kimmage Garrison. Seán Boylan met Collins when they were both interned in Frognoch after the 1916 rising. Boylan was very close to Michael Collins and some described him as “Mick Collins’ right hand man.” In September 1917 Boylan organised an Irish festival, an aeriocht, on his farm and Michael Collins and William T. Cosgrave attended in order to recruit volunteers.

Michael Collins gave the graveside oration for Thomas Ashe in 1917 – “Nothing additional remains to be said. The volley that we have just heard is the only speech that is proper to make above the grave of a dead Fenian”. In late 1918 Michael Collins spoke at a concert in Summerhill and later attended an IRA Brigade Council meeting. Collins had a love of Kerry Blue dogs and is said to have won a prize at a dog show in Summerhill with the prize being presented by a British Army Captain.

As military leader Michael Collins was involved in the planning and resourcing of some of the attacks on the Crown Forces by the Meath Volunteers. Michael Collins used the residence of J.J. McCarthy of Courthill, Dunboyne as a safe retreat from time to time as did other General Headquarters officers. Collins is also supposed to have stayed at a house in High Street, Trim.

In late October 1919 Collins was involved in the planning of the attacks on the police stations at Ballivor and Lismullen by the Meath Volunteers. Mick Collins was informed of the planned attack on Trim Barracks by Seán Boylan in August 1920.

According to local sources Michael Collins visited the Ledwith brothers in Baskinagh, Athboy twice and later visited them when they were in Kilmainham Gaol when he told them that he had no option but to sign the Treaty.

In the spring of 1921 Michael Collins received information from one of his men in Dublin Castle that Summerhill House was to be occupied by the Black and Tans. Orders were given for the house to be burned down. One month before the Truce Collins was in Dunboyne at Bradys Public house and addressed a group of IRA Brigade Intelligence Officers. Collins questioned each Intelligence Officer individually.

Michael Collins was due to attend an aeriocht in Athboy in 1921 but as the Treaty negotiations were going on he had to send his apologies. Many Meath Volunteers favoured the Treaty because of their support for Michael Collins.

Frank Duff whose parents had strong Meath and Trim roots acted as Collin’s secretary for a while. For a period Collin’s friend and Meath man Eamonn Duggan served as Director of Intelligence for the IRA and then in January 1919 Michael Collins took on the role. In January 1922 Michael Collins appointed Duggan as Minister for Home Affairs in the first Provisional Government. Eight months later the “Big Fellow” was dead.

At the Collin’s home in Woodfield, Clonakilty. I walked by it twice a day on my way to and from National School.

Michael Collins, Commander in Chief of the National Army and President of the Provisional Government, was killed at Béal na mBláth on 22 August 1922. His body was brought to the City Hall in Dublin where it lay in state for three days. His funeral took place on the 28 August from the Pro-Cathedral to Glasnevin cemetery and was attended by up to half a million people.

When news reached Navan of Collin’s death the reaction was one of shock, in particular as Collins had visited the town some weeks previously. Shops and businesses throughout the county closed from 11.00 to noon on the day of the funeral. More than ten local priests attended the funeral ceremonies including Rev. Nicholas Cooney, administrator of Navan.

All the local councils passed votes of sympathy. Navan Urban Council appointed four of its members to attend the funeral, in all seven members attended the funeral as well as the town clerk. Large numbers of people from Navan, Kells and Trim attended the funeral. At a special meeting of Navan Town Council the chairman, Seaghan MacNaMidhe, expressed the profound sorrow of the council at the death of Michael Collins ‘one of Ireland’s most distinguished and devoted sons’ and described his death as ‘a terrible loss to the nation.’

The chairman and vice-chairman of Meath County Council and other members attended the funeral ceremonies. In Trim the troops of the 1st Eastern Division attended Requiem Mass in the local church along with the congregation, which was composed of almost the entire population of the town, before parading through the main streets headed by the Navan Brass and Reed band playing ‘The Death March’. At noon the trumpeters played ‘The Last Post’ and three volleys were fired.

In Kells all business was suspended at 11.00 o’clock and a Requiem Mass was held in the church. The children of Lord and Lady Headfort assisted at the Mass. Following Mass the local company of soldiers paraded through the town as the local band played ‘The Death March’. A large crowd of all denominations followed the parade to the Green where ‘The Last Post’ was played and three volleys of shots fired.

The footbridge at Laytown featured in one short scene in Neil Jordan’s ‘Michael Collins’ movie during which a steam locomotive crosses the viaduct.

“Country Houses lit a chain of bonfires…”

The Burning of Lismullen House

A number of houses belonging to landed families were burned during the War of Independence and during the Civil War. The great mansion at Summerhill was burned on 4 February 1921 during the War of Independence.

Dillon’s Bridge RIC Station following the IRA raid in 1919

Note the policeman in the window with the gun

In the nineteenth century an RIC barracks had been erected on the main road fronting the estate of Sir John Dillon at Dillon’s Bridge. In 1911 this had an acting sergeant and three constables. The attack made on Lismullen/Dillon’s Bridge RIC barracks was one of the first actions of the IRA in Meath on 31 October 1919. An RIC sergeant was seriously wounded. The barracks was evacuated before Easter 1920 thereby removing protection from Lismullen House. The barracks was then burned by the IRA.

The Treaty came as a blow to unionists and it took time for a new police force to be established. Isolated houses became more vulnerable to attack. Law enforcement was deteriorated when the RIC were disbanded. During the Civil War a number of large houses were burned so much so that Lady Fingall of Killeen Castle, wrote, ‘country houses lit a chain of bonfires through the nights of late summer and autumn and winter and early spring.’ The growth of burnings seemed to be linked to the execution of Anti-Treaty prisoners. More houses were burned in the first four months of 1923 than in the whole of the previous year or in the whole of 1920.

In early 1923 a renewed outbreak of violence occurred in the area surrounding Lismullen. In February 1923 there were two attempts to burn down the workhouse at Dunshaughlin. Some of these activities may be attributed to the Dunshaughlin Sinn Féin which was the only branch in Meath South constituency to oppose the Treaty.

Lismullen House before fire

On 5 April 1923 a group of men stole a trap at Knockmark, drove to Dunsany Stores and took petrol which they took to Lismullen. Later that night a large party of men gained entrance to Lismullen house and set the place alight. The furniture, heirlooms and antiques were destroyed. The raiders arrived at 11 o’clock on Friday night and told Sir John Fox Dillon through the closed door that they wanted ‘grazing for sheep’. Having gained entrance they gave Sir John and his family a short time to remove any valued possessions. The family had to cut a valuable Reynolds painting from its frame. Locking the family and male servants in a room the raiders assisted the female servants to remove their personal possessions. Petrol was sprinkled all over the mansion and the place set alight. The raiders remained until the place was burning well. The military in Navan were informed and arrived in the early hours of the morning. Attempts to save the house were ineffectual and the house was gutted with the exception of a wing jutting back to the stable.

The group told Sir John that they had orders to burn the house and added that they were very sorry. In many cases where houses were burned there appears to have been no personal animosity toward the house owners and the courtesy of the IRA was noted. This was a traumatic experience for the elderly couple with ‘Old Sir John … [spending] the night in the barn.’

King William of Orange’s Gloves

When the house was destroyed by fire very few items were saved. According to family tradition, King William slept at Lismullen two days after the Battle of the Boyne, on the 2July 1690. William of Orange presented the family with a glass decanter, a glass posset bowl, a bed-coverlet and two pairs of gauntlets. These precious items were brought to safety but the glass was damaged, the neck of the decanter broken and the posset bowl cracked near one handle. The documents testifying to the king’s stay at Lismullen and family papers were destroyed in the fire. A Gainsborough also survived the fire. Plans of St. Columba’s Church, Lismullen were in Sir John’s safe when Lismullen was burned and were slightly singed in the fire. The fire at the house burned for three weeks.

Sir John found time to send a note to Killeen to warn the Fingalls that the arsonists had said that Killeen was next. Sir John may have been mistaken as the raiders headed for another local house owned by a Protestant family rather than Killeen.

The raiders continued to Barronstown house which they also attempted to set to fire using a mine. Informing the Wilkinson family that they had come from Lismullen, the raiders were described as ‘very courteous’ as they assisted the family to remove their prized possessions. The mines were detonated but the family and servants were able to put out the flames before serious damage was done. The arsonists returned later that week and attempted to set fire to the house again. Adderly Edward Wilkinson was son of A.B. Wilkinson, the owner of Barronstown. Roger Casement was a personal friend of Adderly and visited Barronstown regularly. Douglas Hyde and Countess Markievicz were also friends and Percy French was a classmate. Two more houses were burned in Meath the following month before a ceasefire was called on 24 May.

The motive for the burning is not clear with various reasons being put forward at the time. The local newspaper could not provide a reason for the burning of the house as Sir John had not taken an active part in politics, was not a member of a public body, provided good local employment and had disposed of his estate to his tenants early and at good terms. The Countess of Fingall described him as ‘one of the best landlords and kindest of men in the country’. Sir John was described as a very liberal landlord.

Agrarian agitation may have been a motive for the burning. As a large farmer Sir John might have been targeted by locals who wanted the estate to be broken up and distributed among themselves. By burning the house the demesne lands then became available for disposal to the locals at a low price. Sir John had a dispute with his herd and this may have been the reason for the burning. Fear of losing their employment on the landed estates had prevented men from joining the Skryne unit of the Irish Volunteers in the aftermath of 1916. A branch of the Back to the Land movement was formed in Skryne before the end of 1920. As a result of agrarian agitation the need for land legislation was recognised as early as July 1922 with a new land act being proposed for the spring of 1923.  Local land hungry people may have supported the burning of Lismullen in the hope of freeing up land for themselves. The executive of the Irish Farmers Union in Meath, which represented landlords and large farmers, condemned the burning of Lismullen.

Although Sir John did not identify with any political side, his position as a former landlord and an active supporter of the local establishment identified him as an enemy of the increasing nationalism. Dillon was not actively anti-Irish but he was viewed by many as a member of a class which was anti-republican. In 1911 he had proposed a motion, supported by his fellow magistrates, welcoming the King and Queen on their visit to Ireland. Sir John was described as a member of the ‘Ascendancy gang’ in a letter by P. de Burca, secretary of the Meath Comhairle Ceanntair of Sinn Féin in 1919. Mr. de Burca asserted that Sir John and the other ascendancy members of the Meath Farmer’s Association were keeping the Sinn Féin prisoners in jail and supporting the ‘castle gang’. These charges were rejected by the February meeting of the farming group, the claims may have been inspired by the demands of farm labourers for better wages. In 1918 the Meath Labour Union had led a strike for a nine hour day at Lismullen, Killeen and Dunsany estates. Three men were dismissed at Lismullen and while the nine hour day was granted the strike continued until the men were re-instated.

In 1937 Elizabeth, Countess of Fingall, attributed the burning to a reprisal for the shooting of an Anti-Treatyite on the road near Lismullen. Locals do not seem to have been involved in the burning. Sir John did not recognise any of the raiders and the local Skryne company of the IRA took the Treaty side with the exception of two members, one of whom was in prison when Lismullen was burned. The raiders do not seem to have treated their victims roughly and were very courteous – giving their victims a short opportunity to remove their belongings. Lismullen was a soft target, offering the opportunity of a reprisal with little chance of danger.

Lismullen may have been a part of a policy of targeting Protestants who were likely to support the new Free State. Other local house-owners felt under threat in early 1923. Dunsany Castle was threatened in April 1923. Cecil Briscoe of Bellinter House moved as much of his valuables out of the house as he could and waited up on overnight vigil in case raiders came. According to George Briscoe, Bellinter was chosen by the arsonists but they were turned away by the locals.

Agrarian agitation, political motives and reprisals are offered as possible reasons for the burning of Lismullen by Sir John’s neighbours at the time and it could have been one of these reasons or a combination of all three.

Under the Damage to Property (Compensation) Act of 1923 Sir John Dillon claimed £24,319 from the new Irish Free State for the damage to his property and received £10,942 to rebuild his house. Sir John received 45% of his claim. Sir John had to prepare his claim for compensation and a list of household contents was compiled by July 1923. Sir John claimed £10,292 for the contents of the house and received an award of £8964 at the Navan sitting of the Circuit Court in March 1925. This award included compensation of £1,600 for the loss of a coin collection and £44 for a stamp collection but these awards were disputed by the State and disallowed. Sir John had approximately 2,000 coins in his collection. Items of furniture, books, clothing, sports equipment and pictures are listed in the contents of the house. The loss of the use of the property, the loss of articles of personal ornament such as jewellery were not covered under the compensation act. Sir John was granted compensation for his coins by the Circuit Court but the Minister for Finance appealed this decision successfully in the Supreme Court.

Lismullen Restored

At the Circuit Court in March 1925 Sir John received an award of £8,860 for the damage to the house which was linked to a full reinstatement clause. Sir John was unclear about the re-building of Lismullen. His solicitor wrote ‘He is a very old man over eighty-one years of age, and as you can understand it is difficult for him to grasp the various niceties in connection with re-instatement.’ A bill of quantities was completed for the reconstruction by June 1923. An O.P.W. investigator visited Sir John and Lady Dillon in Hereford in late 1924. The final claim was paid 30 August 1929. The contractor, W& J Bolger, Ardee St., Dublin, was paid in instalments as the house was re-built. The Free State created bad feeling when the sums allocated for compensation failed to meet the claims submitted.

Compensation for houses burned offered the opportunity to build a house more suited to the times and this may be what Sir John Dillon intended to do. The new ‘modern residence’ at Lismullen was built on the foundations of the destroyed house which was ‘of a very old fashioned and inconvenient type’. Those house owners who rebuilt their homes did so on a smaller scale. Lismullen House was re-built without its third storey. The plans for the new house, as agreed with the O.P.W. contained a lounge, hall, drawing room, dining room, morning room and ‘seven good bedrooms’ and was practically the same floor area as the burned house (8736 sq. feet). The old house had eleven bedrooms but they were ‘badly shaped and inconvenient’. The replacement house was as undistinguished as its predecessor being described by one observer in 1942 as “a modern tasteless building.”


Irish Destiny

Irish Destiny Poster

Irish Destiny is a 1926 film made in Ireland to mark the tenth anniversary of the 1916 Rising. It starred Paddy Dunne-Cullinan of Carrollstown, Trim, as the main lead. Irish Destiny, a love story set against the War of Independence, is one of the important surviving examples of Irish cinema of the silent era. It tells the story of one Denis O’Hara, a middle-class “only son” who breaks his mother’s heart by volunteering for active service. Paddy Dunne-Cullinan, secured the part of Denis O’Hara, the dashing male lead, due to his prowess as a horseman, not to any previous acting experience. Irish Destiny is the first fiction film that deals with the War of Independence and the first and only film written and produced by a Dublin Jewish doctor, Isaac “Jack” Eppel.

The film’s dramatised sequences were shot in Dublin, Wicklow and at Shepherd’s Bush Studios, London, in 1925. The earlier newsreel sequences had been filmed during the burning of Cork in December 1920 and Dublin’s Customs House in May 1921. The film had its premiere at the Corinthian Cinema, Eden Quay, Dublin, on Easter Sunday 1926 – timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Easter Rising. It was reviewed in glowing terms in the newspapers of the day “Irish Destiny contains the highest elements of art, action, scenery and photography. It is a triumph for Irish enterprise!”

The Kells Cinema booked an early run of the film, “which has been eagerly awaited by the cinema –going public both at home and abroad… As entertainment the film is first-class and is presented with special music and effects. We venture to say that attendance on Tuesday and Wednesday next will be record-breaking.”

Irish Destiny Scene

Despite this favourable reception in Ireland and among Irish emigrant audiences abroad, the film was not a financial success. US and European audiences, more used to such polished big-budget productions were less enthusiastic about Irish Destiny and its more modest production values. In Britain, the film’s political content earned it a banning order from the British Board of Film Censors, until it was resubmitted as the less inflammatory “An Irish Mother” in 1928. The debt incurred by the poor reception of the film took years to clear. Eppel left Ireland, never to make another film and resumed general medical practice in England until he died in Kingston-on-Thames in 1942.

The film was considered lost for many years until 1991 when a single surviving nitrate print was located in the US Library of Congress by the Irish Film Institute’s Irish Film Archive who had the film transferred to safety stock and restored. The Irish Film Institute then commissioned a new score for the film by Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin.

Carrollstown House on the Trim-Dunderry Road, was erected by Patrick Joseph Dunne in 1883.  Dunne was a well known horse owner and breeder. Dunne bred Ascetic Silver who won the Grand National in 1906. Patrick Joseph Cullinan married Josephine, oldest daughter and heiress of P.J. Dunne and he continued the horse training and owing venture. Their son Patrick Dunne Cullinan continued to train horses at Carrolstown after the death of his father in 1923. Born in 1898 Paddy Dunne Cullinan was educated in Yorkshire before returning to Carrollstown on the death of his mother at a young age. A keen jockey and skier, he was a member of the Irish four-man bob-team at the 1920 St Moritz Olympics. In 1926 he starred as leading actor in Irish Destiny and was subsequently offered a role in a Hollywood movie which he declined. Carrollstown house was burned down in 1938 and the family renovated the stables to become a house but then sold the house to the B&I Shipping company.  Cullinan and his wife moved first to Knockdrin castle in Westmeath and then to Bellair in Co. Offaly. Cullinan died in 1978.

Carrollstown House.

Children’s Hospital named after Ardbraccan Saint

St. Ultan’s Hospital for Infants

St Ultan’s Hospital 1919

St. Ultan’s Women’s Hospital for Infants was established by Dr. Kathleen Lynn and Miss ffrench-Mullen at Charlemont Street, Dublin in 1919. Saint Ultan was the first bishop of Ardbraccan and wrote a life of St. Patrick and two hymns to St. Brigid. Saint Ultan is the patron saint of paediatricians and babies as he established an orphanage at Ardbraccan where he fed, clothed and educated 500 children orphaned by a yellow plague which carried off their parents.

St. Ultan was the inspiration for St. Ultan’s Hospital for Infants in Dublin. Every year the hospital organised a pilgrimage-cum-picnic to St. Ultan’s Well, Ardbraccan.  This was a multi-denominational event with the Rosary and Evensong in Irish. At the revival of the St Ultan’s Day pilgrimage in September 1920 three of Ireland’s most famous women, Countess Markievicz, Dr Kathleen Lynn and Margaret Pearse, mother of Padriag and Willie Pearse, were in attendance at the well, where the Rosary was said in Irish. Eamon de Valera was advertised as the guest for 1921 and it increased attendance fivefold. De Valera visited Ardbaccan and Navan on 5th September 1921. In the 1930s there was a pilgrimage to Saint Ultan’s Well every year on the first Sunday in September and the Rosary is recited in Irish at the well.

Kathleen Lynn

The daughter of the Church of Ireland rector of Killala, Mayo, Kathleen Lynn was born in 1874 and received her medical degree in 1899. She worked  in Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital and the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital between 1902 and 1916 following which she devoted herself to St Ultan’s and her private practice in Rathmines. Lynn became an activist and joined groups advocating Irish women’s suffrage.

At the time of the Lockout of 1913, Lynn became active in the relief efforts for workers and their families who had taken part in the strike and had been locked out by their employers. She joined the Irish Citizen Army, providing lectures in first aid at Liberty Hall. In the 1916 Rising she was Chief Medical Officer in the City Hall garrison. When she told the arresting officer, she was a doctor, but also belonged to the Irish Citizen Army, it was a source of surprise to him. Lynn was first taken to Ship Street and then Richmond Barracks and Kilmainham Gaol. Lynn was deported to England but returned and went on the run for a period. She was arrested but released to treat the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918.

Kathleen Lynn was vice-president of Sinn Féin and elected as a Sinn Féin T.D. for Dublin County in 1923 but, opposing the Treaty of 1921, she did not take her seat. She lost her seat in 1927.  Her friend, Madeleine Ffrench-Mullen, was born in Malta and came to Ireland about 1914. They met in 1914 at a Cumann na mBan meeting. Ffrench-Mullen acted as the administrator of St Ultan’s Hospital.

St. Ultan’s Hospital was founded in 1919 by Dr. Lynn and Madeleine ffrench Mullen. A decision was made to purchase 37 Charlemont Street, the site for the new hospital. The hospital’s concern for the health of mothers extended to running a holiday home for them in Baldoyle. At the outset only women staffed the hospital. By the late 1920s St Ultan’s had 35 cots, a matron, a sister, five staff nurses and six probationers.

The biggest killer of infants in St Ultan’s was gastro-enteritis, an infectious disease. Lynn promoted the work of Maria Montessori who visited St Ultan’s in 1934, and established a Montessori ward in the hospital. Lynn pioneered the use of the BCG vaccination over ten years before it was in general use in Ireland. The hospital allowed female doctors to make their mark in the medical world. In 1929, Kathleen and St. Ultan’s founded the world famous Irish Sweepstakes alongside three other voluntary hospitals.

In the 1950s the large children’s hospital in Crumlin was built with the blessing of Dr John Charles McQuaid. Kathleen Lynn died in 1955 and was buried in Deansgrange Cemetery with full military honours.

58c Eamon de Valera Navan September 1921 with Dr. Kathleen Lynn, Fr. Cooney Administrator, Navan, Fr. Flynn PP Donore, Fr. O’Reilly, Navan, Fr. Kilmartin, Navan, Fr. Gilmore, Kilmessan, Fr. T. McKeever, T. Duffy, Fr. Nangle, Kathleen O’Connell, Justin McKenna TD, Fr. Mulvaney, Fr. O’Connor, Fr. P. O’Farrell.

St. Ultan’s closed its doors for the last time in 1975, difficulties in getting funding made it impossible to continue. It is now a private clinic. Margaret Ó hÓgartaigh wrote an article on St. Ultan’s Hospital and its connections to Ardbraccan in the 2003 issue of Ríocht na Midhe.

Dorothy Stopford was one of the doctors at St. Ultan’s and kept a diary during the 1916 Rising. Dorothy was grand-daughter of Archdeacon Stopford of Kells, great grand-daughter of Bishop Stopford of Meath and niece of Alice Stopford Green. Dorothy was raised in Dublin but the family moved to London after the death of her mother in 1902. Dorothy returned to Dublin in 1915 to study medicine at Trinity College. When the Rising broke out Dorothy was spending her Easter holidays at the Under-Secretary’s Lodge in the Phoenix Park, home of Sir Matthew Nathan. Her diary begins on Good Friday and documents the week in the Under Secretary’s Lodge. The sounds of the Rising were clearly heard and rumours circulated of what was happening. On Friday 28th Lady Conyngham and her mother arrived at the Lodge with news of trouble at Ashbourne. The full diary is available on line. The execution of the leaders and her aunt’s influence caused her to question her political allegiances and convert to the cause of Irish nationalism. After graduating as a doctor in 1921 Dorothy worked at the Kilbrittain dispensary in Cork where she became the medical officer to the local IRA company.  In 1923 Dorothy went to work at St. Ultan’s Hospital with her college friend, Kathleen Lynn. She married Liam Price, a district justice and historian, in 1925. Dorothy began to import BCG vaccine to protect people against TB.  St. Ultan’s pioneered the use of the BCG vaccination over ten years before it was in general use in Ireland. Noel Browne made her head of the national vaccination programme in 1949 but unfortunately she suffered a stroke a year later and died in 1954.


My Cousin – Sam Maguire

  Sam Maguire

 Sam Maguire was born on a small farm in Dunmanway, Co. Cork, the son of John and Jane Maguire,  in 1877. He joined the post office in London and became prominent in GAA circles as player and as an administrator. Playing both hurling and football Maguire was on the London Hibernians team that lost the “away” All Ireland finals of 1900, 1901 and 1903. He initiated Michael Collins into the IRB in 1909. Maguire would like to have fought in the rising but it was felt that he better served the cause by remaining at his job as it gave access to communications. He was Michael’s Collin’s chief agent in London during the War of Independence. He supported the Treaty and joined the Irish civil service. He was dismissed from his post by Kevin O’Higgins as a result of a mutiny in the army. He appealed his dismissal but was not successful. He returned to Dunmanway where he died from tuberculosis in 1927. In 1928 a number of his friends presented the Sam Maguire Cup for the Football All Ireland championship. The cup was presented to the Kildare captain in 1928. The original cup is now on display in Croke Park and a replica has been used since 1988. Meath are the last county to have their name inscribed on the original cup after beating Cork in 1991.

Me with my cousin’s cup

I am doubly related to Sam Maguire, through my father and through my mother.

On my father’s side: Daniel Kingston of Kelanine married Anne Ross in 1851. Their son, Paul (Big Dan) Kingston of Drimoleague married Thomasina Kingston, daughter of Paul Kingston of Clodagh, Drimoleague, in 1884. Their daughter, Annie Anne Kingston, married George Edward French, my grandfather, in 1905. Thomasina’s sister, Jane married, John Maguire of Dunmanway in 1868. Their son was Sam Maguire. So my paternal great grandmother was Sam Maguire’s aunt.

On my mother’s side: Anne Kingston, daughter of Paul Kingston, Clodagh,  born about 1856, married George Deane of Pookeen on 15 February 1873 in Drimoleague. Their son Robert married Susan Deane and Robert and Susan’s daughter, Annie, married my great grandfather, Samuel Patterson. Family tradition says that Anne Kingston was a sister of Jane Kingston, mother of Sam Maguire. So my maternal great grandmother was Sam Maguire’s aunt.

 From the Skibbereen Eagle 11th May 1912

“Mr. Samuel French, Derryduff, Rosscarbery

The death of the above gentleman took place on Sunday morning last, after a brief illness, at the age of seventy six years. Deceased was a fine type of Irishman – honest, upright and industrious. He belonged to the old generation that is fast passing away, and to one of the oldest and most respectable families in West Cork. He was an able Irish scholar, and could read and speak Irish fluently. The funeral on Tuesday, for the family burial ground at Kilmacabea, was the largest seen in the district for years, and testified to the esteem in which the deceased was held. The cortege was over a mile in length, and was representative of all classes and creeds.”

(Thank you to my cousin, Tom, for finding this piece.)


 Witnesses to the Revolution 1899-1921

by Noel French

The Bureau of Military History was established in 1947 to give those who fought for Ireland’s independence in the first decades of the twentieth century an opportunity to record their experiences for the future. Nearly two thousand witness statements were taken in the following ten years. The statements relate mainly to the 1916-21 period. It was intended that the information would not be released until the death of the last person who had provided a witness statement. In 2003 the Witness Statements were transferred to the National Archives of Ireland and made available to the public. The records have been digitized and were made available on–line in 2012. Available at http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/, the records are in searchable format.

Unfortunately the witness statements were not available when Oliver Coogan wrote his essential text “Politics and War in Meath 1913-23”. However many of the statements are from men that Oliver Coogan interviewed or had alternative sources.

The following list is Bureau of Military History Witness Statements that are of interest to Meath researchers. They are arranged in alphabetical order by witness’s surname and provide statement number, identity of witness and subject of the statement.

Included in this list are statements from major protagonists such as Sean Boylan, Seamus Finn, David Hall, Peter O’Connell, Eugene Bratton, Charles Conaty, Michael Hilliard, Patrick McGurl and Patrick Quinn but there are also statements from those Meathmen who fought in 1916 in Dublin and those who had an involvement in Meath through the Battle of Ashbourne or operated in Meath for a short period or had a Meath connection. A number of the statements listed here are focused on major events elsewhere but also make reference to subjects of interest to Meath researchers.  Not all items of interest are included in this catalogue.  Where there is only a brief mention of a Meath connection in a statement this statement is not entered in this list. Page numbers are by the number on the page rather than the PDF page number.

W.S. 645; Nora Aghas, Sister of Thomas Ashe who died in 1917. Biographical Note on Thomas Ashe; Battle of Ashbourne pp 3-4, 6-7.

W.S. 904; John Austin, Ashbourne. Eye-witness of the Battle of Ashbourne 1916. Battle of Ashbourne, 28th April 1916 pp 1-5.

W.S. 932; Commandant Matthew Barry, Killsallaghan, Officer Commanding 2nd Battalion, 2nd Meath Brigade 1918-21, Vice Commandant 2nd Battalion, 2nd Meath Brigade 1921-22. Attempted Attack of British Troop Train at Celbridge, July 1921 involving the Navan, Yellow Furze, Trim, Fingal Companies pp 1-24, Abortive Ambush on Trim Auxiliaries going to Bellewstown Races, pp 20-22.

W.S. 632; Elizabeth Bloxham, Rathgar, Dublin. Member of the Executive and Organiser, Cumann na mBan. Her National Associations 1911-21; Political Feelings, County Down, 1911, Foundation of Cumann na mBan 1914. Her work in Trim for Cumann na mBan and Sinn Féin, c. 1916, Tea with the Local Rector, p. 28.

W.S. 269; Peter Boylan, Irish Volunteers, Dunboyne. Dunboyne Irish Volunteers 1915-16, p. 1. Dunboyne Company Mobilised and Activities Easter Week 1916, pp 2-6, Capture by the British p. 6, Imprisonment and Release pp 6-7.

W.S. 212, 1715; Commandant General Sean Boylan, Captain Dunboyne, Irish Volunteers 1914-17, Officer Commanding 1st Eastern Division I.R.A. 1918-21. W.S. 212: Easter Week 1916: Dunboyne National Volunteers, 1914-15 pp 1-2, Preparations for the Easter Rising pp 3-4,  Mobilisation on Tara pp 4-5, March to Clonsilla and Leixlip pp 5-6, Disbandment p. 7, Arrest and Imprisonment pp 7-10, Release p. 10. W.S. 1715: I.R.A. Activities Meath Brigade 1917-21: Dunboyne Volunteers and I.R.B. 1917 p. 1, Organising New Companies in Meath pp 2-4, East Cavan By-Election and 1918 General Election p. 4, Prohibition of the Hunt pp 4-10, I.R.B. Dunboyne and Meath pp 10-12, Attacks on Ballivor and Dillon’s Bridge, Lismullen R.I.C. Barracks p. 12, Sack of Trim R.I.C. Barracks and Reprisals pp 13-16, Arrest of Suspects for the Robbery of Tobertynan House and Return of Stolen Items pp 16-19, Murder of Mark Clinton, Kilmainhamwood, Arrest of Suspects, Arrest of Gordon, Trial and Execution pp 19-24, Killing and Funeral of Seamus Cogan pp 24-25, Court Martial of 5th Battalion Officers p. 26, Proposed Attack on Oldcastle R.I.C. Barracks pp 27-28, Proposed Ambush at Navan pp 28-29, The Spying Activities of Thomas Duffy pp 29-30, Protecting Courthill House, Dunboyne, pp 31-32, Burning of Summerhill House pp 32-33, Re-organising the Brigades, 1921,  pp 33-35, Burning of Coastguard Stations pp 35-36,  Attempted Attack of British Troop Train at Celbridge pp 36-38.

W.S. 1623; Luke Bradley, Citizen Army, Captain Fordstown Company, Vice Commandant Athboy Battalion 4th Brigade. Early Life and Citizen Army p. 1, Easter Rising, Dublin, pp 2-3, Fordstown Volunteers 1918-19 pp 3-4, Attempted Ambush at Girley and Holding up of Local Postman p. 5.

W.S. 467; Eugene Bratton, Constable, R.I.C. Co. Meath 1916-21 Early Life and Career p. 1, Battle of Ashbourne pp 2-4, Sack of Trim R.I.C. Barracks and Reprisals p. 5, Tans in Navan pp 5-6, Shooting of Mr. Hodgett, Postmaster, Navan pp 6-7, Police Union p. 8, Killing of Sergeant Keighery by Black and Tans p. 9, Attempted Raid on Navan Barracks p. 9a, Raid on Chandlers, Robinstown, by Auxiliaries p. 10, Arrest of Lord Dunsany pp 10-11.

W.S. 143; Gerald Byrne, Member I.R.B., 1911-1916 and 4th Battalion Dublin Brigade. National Activities 1911-16, Easter Week Kells and Dunboyne pp 5-10.

W.S. 1556; Denis Cogan, Official on staff of National Land Bank Activities of National Land Bank 1919-23, Navan Co-operative Farming Society and Dunfeirth Co-operative Farming Society, Enfield, p. 11.

W.S. 1627; Charles Conaty, Carnaross, 1st Lieutenant, Stonefield Company, Officer Commanding 2nd Battalion, No. 3 Brigade.

Stonefield Company 1919 and Raid on Oldcastle Tax Office p. 1, Murder of Mark Clinton, Kilmainhamwood, Arrest of Suspects, Arrest of Gordon, Trial and Execution p. 2, Killing of Seamus Cogan p. 2, Raids for Arms p. 3, Attack on Oldcastle R.I.C. Barracks pp 4-5, Attempted Ambush at Sylvan Park House pp 6-8. Re-organisation of Meath Brigade pp 8-9.

W.S. 360; Commandant Seamus Daly, Member I.R.B. Dublin 1904- and Member of the 2nd Battalion, Dublin Brigade, Irish Volunteers 1913-. National Activities 1902-16, Manufacture of Munitions, Clontarf, 1916, The Rising in Dublin Easter Week 1916. Gun Running at Howth 1915 and Thomas Allen pp 7-10.

W.S. 1648, 1734; Seán Farrelly, Vice Commandant, Meath Brigade, Carnaross Company, Irish Volunteers W.S. 1648: Parnellite Split and the Reaction of the Church pp 1-2, John Redmond and the Foundation of the Ulster Volunteers p. 2, Ancient Order of Hibernians and new Hall in Carnaross pp 3-4, Hostility of A.O.H. to Irish Volunteers p. 5, 1913 Formation of Irish Volunteer’s Company at Carnaross and Early Members pp 5-6, Postponement of Home Rule and Split in the Volunteers pp 7-8, Acquiring Arms p. 9, Acquiring Army Caps, p. 10, Visit by Liam Mellows pp 11-12, Boycott of A.O.H. Dance p. 12, Plans for Mobilisation on Tara, Easter Sunday 1916, p. 13, Fundraising Dance Easter Sunday Night p. 14, Fresh Mobilisation Orders Easter Tuesday pp 14-15, Confessions, pp 15-16, Orders Cancelled p. 16, Special Parade in Week after Rising, p. 17, Raid by R.I.C. and Hiding Arms, p. 18, Arrest and Release of the Boylan brothers pp 18-19. W.S. 1734: New Meeting Place Secured p. 1, Irish Classes and Dance Classes organised in Carnaross, Mullagh and surrounding areas pp 1-2, Pro-British Mullagh p. 2, 1917 Return of the Prisoners and By-Elections p. 3, Celebrating the First Anniversary of the Easter Rising and Attempts by the R.I.C. to prevent the March p. 3, Attending the Funeral of Thomas Ashe p. 4, Conscription Crisis pp 4-5, A Dance at the A.O.H. Hall and Dispute with A.O.H. pp 5-6, East Cavan By-Election pp 6-7,  1918 General Election pp 7-8, Burning of R.I.C. Barracks pp 8-9, Raid on Sylvan Park House for Arms p. 9, Raid on Mr. Archdale’s for Arms pp 9-10, Raids on House by R.I.C. and Black and Tans, pp 10-11, Sinn Féin Courts Established pp 11-12, Raids by Military pp 12-13, Activities of “The Black Hand Gang” pp 13-14, Murder of Mark Clinton, Kilmainhamwood, Arrest of Suspects, Arrest of Gordon, Trial and Execution pp 14-16, Killing of Seamus Cogan p. 16,  Intimidation by the Tans p. 17, Demolishing Bridges p. 18, Sack of Trim R.I.C. Barracks and Reprisals pp 19-20, Raid on Hurdlestown for arms and the death of its Owner, Mr. Radcliff pp 20-22, Local Government p. 23, Paddy McDonnell and the Conscription Crisis at Maynooth College pp 23-24, Raid by the Military and Arrest under False Pretences  pp 24-26, Moved to Dunshaughlin Workhouse and Escape by other Prisoners pp 26-27, Moved to Mountjoy Jail and Execution of Kevin Barry p. 27, Moved to Arbour Hill and Court Martial pp 27- 28, Sentenced to Three Months Hard Labour, Refusal to Work and Re-Categorised as Political Prisoner  p. 28, Arrest of I.R.A. members and the possibility of Internment pp 29-30, Released pp 30-31, Induction into the I.R.B. by Seán Boylan p. 31, Salford, Mullagh Ambush pp 32-34, Proposed Attack on Oldcastle R.I.C. Barracks and the intervention of two Priests pp 34-36, Disobedience of Oldcastle Officers and their flogging p. 37, Raid on Blackwater Railway Station for Belfast Goods pp 37-38, Raid by Tans and Killing of Paddy McDonnell pp 38-39, Attempted Ambush at Sylvan Park House pp 39-41, Re-Organisation and Hiding Out pp 41-42,  Cumann  na mBan pp 42-43, Arrest and Interment of his Brothers pp 43-44,  Attending as Judge in Sinn Féin Courts pp 44-45, Attempted Ambush at Drumbaragh p. 45, Arrest and Execution of Two Spies pp 45-46,  Raids by the Tans pp 47-48, Attempted Ambush at Loughan Crossroads p. 48, Ambush at Dervor of the R.I.C. p. 49, Domestic Violence Cases pp 49-50, Attack at Kells pp 50-51, Refusal to Pay Land Commission Annuities pp 52- 53.

W.S. 921; Commandant Martin Finn, C Company 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade 1915-,  Athboy Volunteers. Early Life in Athboy, School in Dublin, Joining the Volunteers, Easter Week 1916, pp 1-2, Attending the Funeral of Thomas Ashe, p. 3, On duty with the Athboy Company p. 3, Attempted Arrest of Detective O’Brien pp 3-4, Assisting at the Cavan By-Election, Burning of R.I.C. Barracks, Mobilisation on Tara, Easter 1918 p. 4, Funeral of Seamus Cogan, Military Raid on Athboy Home pp 5-6, Making Cartridges, The Dáil Loan p. 7, Return to Dublin and Attempted Rescue of Kevin Barry p. 8, Dublin Activities pp 9-19, Transfer to Meath p. 19, Evacuation of Relatives before the Burning of Trim and Preparations for the Defence of Athboy p. 20. W.S. 857, 858, 901, 1060: Seamus Finn, Irish Volunteers 1916-17, Adjutant, Meath Brigade 1917-21 W.S. 857: Making Contact with Meath Volunteer groups pp 1-2, Beginnings of Navan Volunteers p. 2, Trim and Delvin Volunteers 1916 p. 3, Organising at County Level pp 4-5, Establishment of Sinn Féin Cumann pp 5-6, Ballinlough meeting to establish a Sinn Féin Cumann p. 6, Release of the Prisoners p. 7, Trim Volunteers re-established p. 8, Meeting with Sean Boylan p. 8, Organisation at County Level pp 9-10, Organising, Meetings and Training, pp 11-12.  W.S. 858: Sack of Trim R.I.C. Barracks pp 1-8, Reprisals pp 8-10, Raid on Chandlers, Robinstown, by Auxiliaries pp 10-11, Re-organisation and First Eastern Division formed pp 11-12. W.S. 901: Conscription Crisis, Making Pikes and Bombs pp 1-2, East Cavan By-Election p. 3, 1918 General Election pp 3-4, 1918 Strike by Farm Labourers and Removal of Railway Line at Beauparc pp 4-6, Mobilisation on Tara pp 6-7, Visit of Michael Collins to Summerhill 1918 p. 7, Organiser, Eamon Fleming, Arrested pp 8-9, Attacks on R.I.C. Barracks, Summerhill, Ballivor, Bohermeen, Dillon’s Bridge, Lismullen, pp 9-20. W.S. 1060: Burning of R.I.C. Barracks p. 1,  Establishment of Sinn Féin Courts pp 2-3, Crossakiel R.I.C. Barracks pp 1-4, 8-9,  Local Government and Meath County Council pp 4-8, Killing of Seamus Cogan and Funeral pp 8-11, Transporting a wounded man to Dublin from Delvin p. 11, Murder of Mark Clinton, Kilmainhamwood, Arrest of Suspects, Arrest of Gordon, Trial and Execution pp 11-15, Trial Firing of Stokes Gun and Mortar and Wounding of Gunner pp 16-17, Activities in Dublin pp 18-19, Burning of Summerhill House and Planned Reprisals pp 19-20, On the Run and Organising pp 20-21, Shortage of Ammunition p. 21, Strength of Military and R.I.C. in the County p. 22, Planned Attack on Patrol at Athboy p. 23, Discontent in the Organisation pp 24-25, Informers Watched and Executed pp 25-26, Protecting Courthill House, Dunboyne pp 26-27, Executing Traitors pp 27-28, Attack on Longwood R.I.C. Barracks pp 28-29, State of the Organisation at the end of 1920 pp 29-30, Belfast Boycott p. 31, Rescue of Prisoner from Mullingar Military Barracks  pp 31-33, Investigating Informers and Raid on McDonnell Home p 33-34, Watching Police Forces pp 34-35, Attempted Ambush at Sylvan Park House pp 36-38, Re-organising into Divisions pp 38-40, Attacks on Bridges, Roads and Garages pp 40-41, Bomb and Arms Factory at Bailieborough p. 41, Staff of the Division p. 42,  Activities in North County Dublin pp 43-45, Burning of Coastguard Stations pp 46-49, Proposed Importation of Arms pp 43-50, Activities in Kildare pp 50-52, Attempted Attack of British Troop Train at Celbridge, 1921, pp 52-57, Truce and Training during Truce pp 58-59, Detention of Orange Leaders at Trim pp 59-60, Civil War p. 60, Safe House Billeting pp 60-64, Raid on Kells Post Office pp 65-66, Ambush of Auxiliaries Patrol, Trim, pp 66-68, Shooting of Mr. Hodgett, Postmaster, Navan pp. 68- 71.

W.S. 1447 John Gaynor, Captain, Balbriggan Company, Irish Volunteers and IRA. Activities of the Balbriggan Company 1st Battalion 1917-21. Training and Raids led by Paddy Mooney of Trim pp 25-27, Raid on Rogerstown Coastguard Station pp 27-28, Attempted Attack of British Troop Train at Celbridge, July 1921, pp 28-33.

W.S. 177; Gerry Golden, Member B Company 1st Battalion Dublin Brigade Reconnaissance of East Meath area just before the Battle of Ashbourne 1916 p. 1, Attack on Ashbourne R.I.C. Barracks and Battle of Ashbourne pp 2-9.

W.S. 1625; Michael Govern, Quartermaster Kells Battalion, No. 3 Brigade, Moynalty Company Irish Volunteers 1917-21 Moynalty Volunteers 1914-18 p. 1, Conscription Crisis pp 1-2, Anti-Hunt and Anti-Fair Campaigns p. 2, Sinn Féin Parish Court Established p. 3, Murder of Mark Clinton, Kilmainhamwood, Arrest of Suspects, Arrest of Gordon, Trial and Execution p. 3, Burning of R.I.C. Barracks p. 3, Storage of Explosives and Raid by R.I.C. pp 4-5, On the Run p. 6, Arrest of Spy in Kells, Attack on Military at Kells on the morning of the Truce, Tans Raid Moynalty pp 7-8.   

W.S. 931; Michael Grace, Close Associate of Arthur Griffith Birth of paper “Sinn Féin” in Oldcastle 1899 pp 1-3.

W.S. 1539; David Hall, Officer Commanding 1st Brigade, 1st Eastern Division, Co. Meath. Kilmore Volunteers p. 1, Anti-Conscription Protest p. 1, 1918 General Election p. 2, Dáil Loan p. 2, Re-organisation p. 3, Dunshaughlin Company 1920 p. 4, Sinn Féin Courts Established pp 4-5, Collection of Arms and raid on Parsonstown Manor  p. 5, Fallout from box of bombs not collected at Drumree Railway Station p. 6, Sack of Trim R.I.C. Barracks p. 7, Gavigan the spy arrested but escaped, Arrest of his Gaolers pp 7-8, Attempted Ambush of Sir John French pp 8-9, Attempted ambush at Courthill House, Dunboyne, p. 9, 1st Eastern Division Organised pp 10-12, Attempted Attack of British Troop Train at Celbridge, July 1921 pp 14-16,  Destruction of Bridges p. 17, Constable Malone provided information to the I.R.A. pp 17-18, British Intelligence Agents pp 18-20, British Spies and Execution of Spy, John Donoghue p. 20, Raids for Arms p. 21.

W.S. 97; Richard Hayes, Commandant, Fingal Battalion, Dublin Brigade, 1915-16. Fingal Battalion Volunteers and Activities in North County Dublin and Meath, Easter Week, 1916. Battle of Ashbourne 1916 pp 5-9.

W.S. 172; Sean Hayes, Commandant, I.R.B. and Irish Volunteers, Drumbaragh Volunteers, Kells. 1914-16. Drumbaragh Volunteers formed and the Split 1914 p. 1, Classes and Parades p. 2, Induction into I.R.B. pp 2-3, Mobilisation to Tara, Easter Week 1916  and proposed release of German P.O.W.s from Oldcastle pp 3-4,

W.S. 1622; Michael Hilliard, Captain, Navan Company, Irish Volunteers, Intelligence Officer.   Formation of Navan Battalion 1919-20 p. 1, Law Enforcement, Arrest of Gordon, Trial and Execution p. 2, Organisation of Navan Company and new Ardbraccan Company formed pp 2-3, Shooting of Mr. Hodgett, Postmaster, Navan 1921, pp 3-4, Execution of Spy, Beechmount, pp 4-6, Brigade Re-organised p. 6.

W.S. 644; Joseph Hyland, Member Irish Volunteers 1917-21, Transport Driver IRA 1919-21 National Activities 1917-21, Driving Michael Collins, Trial at Dunboyne of Gordon for killing of Clinton, pp 2-4.

W.S. 582; Augustine Ingoldsby, Secretary of Cumann na nGaedheal 1898- Campaigns conducted by Cumann na nGaedheal and other National Organisations 1898-1916, British Israelites on Tara pp 9-10.

W.S. 260; Hugh Kearney, Irish Volunteers, Dundalk, 1915-16 National Activities 1910-16, March from Dundalk to Dublin via Meath, Easter Week, 1916, pp 3-7.

W.S. 1413; Tadhg Kennedy, Brigade Intelligence Officer; National Activities 1913-21. National Activities, 1913-21, Activities of Kerry 1st Brigade, 1917-21, Reprisals at Trim p. 79.

W.S. 1615; Sean Keogh Officer Commanding 5th Battalion. Meath Brigade; Crossakiel Company, Irish Volunteers 1914-21. Crossakiel Volunteers established 1914, Agricultural College Training, Galway, p. 1,  Joining the Drumbaragh I.R.B. Circle pp 1-2, Crossakiel Volunteers 1916 -18, Conscription Crisis, East Cavan By-Election p. 2, Drilling in Secret, Collecting Arms, Burning of Crossakiel R.I.C. Barracks p. 3,  Arrest of Suspect, Killing and Funeral of Seamus Cogan pp 4-5, British Spy and Arrest p. 5, Black and Tans and Killing of Paddy McDonnell p. 6, Attempted Ambush at Sylvan Park House pp 6-7, Arrest and Internment pp 7-8.

W.S. 1043; Joseph V. Lawless, Lieutenant, Swords Company, up to 1916, Brigade Engineer, Fingal Brigade. National Activities, North County Dublin, 1911-21. Easter Week 1916, Activities in North County Dublin, Fairyhouse Races 1916 pp 47-48, Battle of Ashbourne pp 83-117, Arrest of Suspects for the Robbery of Tobertynan House pp 298-301, Attach on Ballivor RIC, Gordon Trial and Execution pp 301-306, Black and Tans at Gormanston pp 308, 318.

W.S. 1624; Patrick Loughran, Captain, Navan Company; Officer Commanding 6th Battalion, Meath Brigade. Early Life and Working in Dublin p. 1, Easter Week 1916 in Dublin and return to Navan, pp 1-2, Navan Company Irish Volunteers, Conscription Crisis, 1918 Strike by Farm Labourers p. 2, Attack on R.I.C. Barracks at Dillon’s Bridge, Lismullen, p. 3, Ban on Hunt, Formation of Ardbraccan and Commons Company p. 4, Murder of Mark Clinton, Kilmainhamwood, Arrest of Suspects, Arrest of Gordon, Trial and Execution pp 4-5, Local Robberies and Law Enforcement by Volunteers pp 5-6, Local Elections and new Meath County Council withdraws its allegiance from British Local Government system p. 7, Arrest and Internment p. 7.    

W.S. 1494; Michael McAllister, Volunteer, Swords Company. Swords Company, Irish Volunteers, 1913-21, Easter Week, Activities in North County Dublin, Battle of Ashbourne, pp 9-16.

W.S. 722; Dan McCarthy, Member of I.R.B., Dublin, 1902-, Member of D Company, 4th Battalion, Dublin Brigade, Irish Volunteers, 1913- National Affairs 1902-21, Election Organisation, 1917-19, Anglo-Irish Treaty Negotiations, 1921 pp 20-22, Eamon Duggan’s signature on Treaty, 1921 pp 22-23 and Appendices A and B.  

W.S. 472; T. J. McElligott, Sergeant, R.I.C., 1918-21 Trim. Conscription Resistance Movement in Police Force 1918, Resistance to British Policy, Organisation of a Police Union, Contact with I.R.A., Sinn Féin and Michael Collins. Call on Policemen to Resign, Resignation from the R.I.C.  pp 1-18.

W.S. 1052; Sean MacEntee, Lieutenant, Member, Volunteer Executive. Organisation of Volunteers, Dundalk, Dundalk Volunteers March into Meath and halt at Slane pp 12-19,  Fairyhouse Area Easter Monday pp 39-44, Slane Easter Monday pp 45-46, Mobilisation on Tara, Dunshaughlin and Dunboyne areas Easter Week pp 61-69. Easter Week, Dublin.

W.S. 1660; Patrick McGurl, Adjutant, 2nd Battalion, 4th Meath Brigade, Kildalkey Company Irish Volunteers 1917-21. Athboy Volunteers 1913-17 p. 1, Kildalkey Volunteers p. 1, Sinn Féin Parish Court Established p. 2, Attack on Military Patrol at Kildalkey 1920 p. 2, Organisation and Re-organisation of Battalions and Brigade pp 2-3.

W.S. 664; Patrick McHugh, Lieutenant, Dundalk Company 1916; Fitter, Parnell Street Munitions Factory 1919-20; Officer Commanding Munitions, 1st Southern Division, 1922-23. National Activities, Dublin 1917-21, Manufacture of Arms, Dublin 1919-21. Testing of Trench Mortar in Meath and Kells and Injury of Operator, 1920,  pp 14-16.

W.S. 1439; James Maguire, Captain Glenidon Company, Brigade Commander, Mullingar Brigade. Activities of Glenidon Company, Mullingar, 1914-21, Athboy Volunteers 1916 and mobilisation for Easter Week pp 2-3, Suspect in Attack on Ballivor R.I.C Barracks, p. 10.

W.S. 1723; Joseph Martin, Captain, Athboy Company, Irish Volunteers, Engineer, Meath Brigade, I.R.A. Athboy Volunteers 1913, Volunteers attempt to get to Dublin Easter Week p. 1, I.R.B. and Irish Volunteers re-organised, Anti-Conscription Campaign, East Cavan By-Election pp 1-3, 1918 Strike by Farm Labourers p. 3, Arrest of Eamon Fleming, Organiser, and Attempts at Rescue p. 4, 1918 General Election p. 4, Organisation of the Battalion pp 4-5, Proposed Attack on Bohermeen R.I.C. Barracks p. 5, Collection of Arms p. 5,   Sinn Féin District Court Established p. 6, Sack of Trim R.I.C. Barracks p. 6, Training in Explosives p. 6, On the run p. 7, Demolishing Bridges p. 7, A narrow escape from the Tans pp 7-8, Proposed attack on Athboy R.I.C. Barracks pp 8-9, Escape from an Attack by a Spy p. 9, Attempted Ambush at Rathcormick, Kildalkey pp 9-10, Attempted Attack on R.I.C. patrol at Girley p. 10, Re-organisation into Brigades pp 10-11, Safe Houses p. 11.

W.S. 478; Patrick Meehan, R.I.C. Constable, 1910-21. R.I.C. training and appointment to Meath p. 1, Ballinabrackey Easter Week 1916 p. 2, Transfer to Trim p. 2,  Anti-Conscription movement in Police pp 2-3, Co-operation with Trim I.R.A. 1918-21 pp 3-7, Arrival of Black and Tans p. 4, Sack of Trim R.I.C. Barracks and Reprisals pp 4-6, Abducted, Threatened and Banished by the  Black and Tans pp 6-7.

W.S. 324; Dr. John Murnane, Son of R.I.C. District Inspector Murnane, Trim, 1916. Reference to the description of Monteith in “Hue and Cry” 1916, Incidents of Easter Monday 1916 p. 1. 

W.S. 150; Gregory Murphy, I.R.B. Centre, Member of Executive Irish Volunteers. I.R.B. from 1903, Irish Volunteers, 1913-16, Holy Week and Easter Week, Dublin, 1916. I.R.B. Rift 1911 and Athboy I.R.B. pp 2-3.  

W.S. 601; Henry S. Murray, Lieutenant A Company 4th Battalion Dublin Brigade 1916. Adjutant 4th Battalion 1919-21.

Fourth Battalion Dublin Brigade 1916-21, Formation of Battalion Intelligence Unit 1917, Re-Organising the Volunteers in Oldcastle pp 18-20, Ambush of British Military and Killing of Seamus Cogan 1920 pp 18-19, Killing of former Clerical Student by Military p. 19,  Burning of Oldcastle Workhouse p. 19. 

W.S. 1659; Peter O’Connell, Battalion Adjutant 5th Battalion, Meath Brigade, Stonefield Company. National Activities pp 1-2, Stonefield Company  1918 p. 2, Anti-Conscription Protests pp 2-3, Raid on Oldcastle Tax Office and Burning of Oldcastle Workhouse pp 3-4, Murder of Mark Clinton, Kilmainhamwood, Arrest of Suspects, pp 4-5, Killing of Seamus Cogan pp 4-5, Local Sinn Féin Court Established p. 6, Disobedience of Oldcastle Officers and Proposed Attack on Oldcastle R.I.C. Barracks pp 6-8, Attack on R.I.C. patrol at Dervor pp 8-9, Proposed Attack on R.I.C. patrol at Oldcastle pp 9-10, Killing of Volunteer Paddy McDonnell p. 10, Attempted Ambush at Sylvan Park House pp 11-14, Re-organisation of Meath Brigade p. 15, Arrest, Trial and Execution of Spy p. 16, Ambush at Drumbaragh p. 16, R.I.C. and Military Raids p. 17.

W.S. 142; James O’Connor, St. Margaret’s Irish Volunteers, County Dublin.   St. Margaret’s Company from 1913, Easter Rising 1916, Battle of Ashbourne 1916 pp 3-5.

W.S. 696; Henry O’Hagan, Irish Volunteers, Trim 1917; Adjutant Edinburgh Battalion 1920. National Activities 1917-21, Organisation of IRA in Scotland 1919, Formation of Trim Company Volunteers 1917, General Election, 1918, pp 1-3, Sack of Trim R.I.C. Barracks, 5-6.

W.S. 161; Donal O’Hannigan, Commandant Irish Volunteers 1916-21, Emissary to G.H.Q. I.R.A. 1917-21. I.R.B., Irish Volunteers, Planning with Pearse and Boylan for Mobilisation at Tara 1916 and release of German P.OW.s at Oldcastle pp 10-12, 1916 March of Dundalk Volunteers into Meath, halting at Slane and Dunboyne, proposed meeting with Thomas Ashe, pp 19-29.

W.S. 507; Joseph O’Higgins, Irish Volunteers, Drogheda, Co. Louth 1914-, Battalion Adjutant 1920, Brigade Vice Officer Commanding and Brigade Adjutant 1921. Nationalist Activities in Louth 1914-21, Deportation of Prisoners related to the Murder of Clinton p. 17.

W.S. 1765: Seán T. O’Kelly, Irish Volunteer, Ceann Comhairle, Dáil Éireann 1920. National Activities 1898-1921,  John Sweetman, Drumbaragh and Foundation of Sinn Féin pp 21, 40, 55, 58-59.

W.S. 1650; Patrick O’Reilly, Captain Moynalty Company; Vice Commandant, Kells Battalion. Living Conditions and Changes pp 1-5, The Lockout 1913 p. 5, National Politics 1913-15 pp 5-8, Moynalty Irish Volunteers, the Cavan By-Election p. 8, General Election 1918 and the Flu Epidemic p. 9, Boycott of R.I.C. pp 10-11,  Murder of Mark Clinton, Kilmainhamwood, Arrest of Gordon, Trial and Execution p. 11, Cumann na mBan Moynalty p 11,  Robberies and Sinn Féin Courts pp 11-12, Killing of Seamus Cogan pp 12-13, Raid on Northern Bank, Kells for Arms p. 13,  Local Government pp 13-14, Paddy Mooney of Trim on the Run p. 14, Arresting Spies and Criminals pp 14-15, Blowing up of Bridges p 15, Transport, Hiding of Explosives and their Rescue from British Forces pp 16-20, Attack on R.I.C. in Mullagh pp 20-21,  Raid on Moynalty Post Office pp 21-22, Attack on Tans the morning of the Truce pp 22-23.

W.S. 848; Henry C. Phibbs, Member of The Celtic Literary Society Irish National Clubs 1900-07, Brian O’Higgins p. 17.

W.S. 755 Section 1; Captain Seán Prendergast, Member of Fianna Eireann, Member of C Company,  1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade 1914- National Activities 1911-21, Four Courts, Easter Week, Thomas Allen, pp 123, 132.

W.S. 1696; Patrick Quinn, Ringlestown, Kilmessan, Bective Company, Officer Commanding No. 2 Brigade, 1st Eastern Division, I.R.A.   Bective Company p. 1, Proposed raid on Dillon’s Bridge, Lismullen, R.I.C. Barracks p. 2, Theft at Tobertynan House p. 2, Sack of Trim R.I.C. Barracks and Reprisals pp 3-5, Attack on R.I.C. and Tan patrol in Trim pp 5-6, Raids, Roads and Bridges pp 6-7, Proposed attacks at Claddy and Kilcooley p. 7, Sinn Féin Court p.  8, Attempted Attack of British Troop Train at Celbridge, July 1921 pp 8-9, Company of I.R.A. Re-organised in Trim p. 9.

W.S. 585; Frank Robbins, Irish Citizen Army 1913-16. National Activities 1913-21, Easter Week Dublin 1916, Pat Fox 1914 p. 8, Volunteer Seamus Fox 1916 pp 54-55, 85.

W.S. 928; John Shields, Head Centre, I.R.B. Tyrone, 1917, Tyrone Brigade 1917-19, Benburb Company 1920-21.   Re-organisation of Irish Volunteers 1917, National Activities Tyrone 1917-24, Meeting Quigley, County Surveyor, Meath, at Ballykinlar Internment Camp pp 19-20.

W.S.255; Thomas Smart, Member C Company 1st Battalion Dublin Brigade 1915-16. National Activities 1915-16 Four Courts Easter Week, Death of Thomas Allen pp 3-4.

W.S. 418; Mrs. Una Stack, Widow of Austin Stack. Her Husband’s National Activities 1917-21, Hunger Strikes, Peace Negotiations 1920-21, Trial and Execution of Gordon 1920 pp 25-26, Eamon Duggan and the Treaty Negotiations pp 42, 54-59, 92-96.  

W.S. 149; Charles Weston, Lieutenant Lusk Company, 5th Battalion Fingal, Dublin Brigade, 1916. Lusk Volunteers 1913-1916 pp 1-4, Activities North County Dublin Easter Week pp 4-10, Battle of Ashbourne pp 10-13, Surrender and Internment pp 14-17.


A.O.H. – Ancient Order of Hibernians

I.R.A. – Irish Republican Army

I.R.B. – Irish Republican Brotherhood

P.O.W. – Prisoner of War

R.I.C. – Royal Irish Constabulary

W.S. – Witness Statement