Wednesday, June 17, 2020

I have written about the Bureau of Military History 1913-1921 one before but I am adding more content in this article.

An aspect of oral history would be on the voice recordings in the BMH however some people were reluctant to be recorded. Photographs down through the years were donated to the BMH  giving the historian a visual aid of the events. Such as action sights during the Easter Rising of 1916 taken by the Air corps during the 1950’s to illustrate the military aspects of the positions taken by the rebel garrisons in the 1916 Rising.
Some photographs are  also contained in the collection of the contemporary documents.Interestingly, the BMH initiative attracted the attention of other countries and resulted in visitors from England, Israel, and South Africa who wished to embark on similar projects. The policy of the Bureau was to collect every fact whether favourable or unflattering.
Information in the BMH of the Irish Volunteers involved in typical battalion training activities included subjects such as muskerty, arms, drill, foot drill, signalling; first aid; equipment ready for mobilisation; a pack; haversack; water bottle; bandolier; belt and arms; if any. Other aspects documented of their training were railway demolitions, general demolitions, communications, road mining, as well as map reading, field sketching, single and double lock bridge building, tree felling by explosives and manual means and the use of firearms including automatic weapons and machine guns.
An estimate of 3000 Irish men and women in jails and internment camps in Ireland and Britain. Among these were Ballykinlar  Internment Camp, the Curragh, Spike Island, Kilmainham Jail, Stafford Jail, Wakefield Prison, Lincoln Prison, Wandsworth Prison and Glasgow Prison.
The plan of the IRA desired to draw attention to its freedom fighters fighting activities, but also to develop international links, which would be important for developing the economic position of emerging state J. J. Moran, member of the Irish Republican Association of South Africa relates ‘Mr de Valera’s decision to send and envoy to South Africa to tour under the auspices of the Association was warmly welcomed when he (Mr. P. J. Little) arrived the resources of the Association were at his disposal. he , acting as an Irishman; we, as irish South Africans. His lectures ‘The Truth about Ireland’ were organised in each centre by the Association and they focussed interest on Ireland and Ireland’s case for independence’.
Some other aspects of BMH are ordinary people who were not involved in any of the military or nationalist organisations, but who were occupied in the provision of services to the RIC and British Military who were also encouraged to help the nationalist cause by divulging information about patrol movements.
Workers in the railway and postal services were of particular value so that mails could be made available for IRA censorship, which was an integral part of intelligence gathering.
Women in the movement there are twenty-seven contemporary document collections written and compiled by women, providing a valuable insight into women’s participation in the Nationalist movement throughout the early decades of the twentieth century.
Leading member of the Irish Volunteers Bulmer Hobson testimony which refers to the formation of Fianna Éireann, refers to the noticeable reluctance among the membership against the election of Constance Marievz as a Fianna officer ‘Principally on the ground that she was a woman, and I had on many occasions to point out privately that they could not accept her financial help and refuse her membership of office. This feeling against the presence of women in the organisation continued in varying degrees of intensity for many and probably never completely disappeared’ [sic] 

Even Brighid O’Mullane mentions the discrimination faced by women in the organisation of Cumman Na mBan ‘I had a good deal of prejudice to overcome on the part of parents, who did not mind their boys taking part in a military movement, but who had never heard of and were reluctant to accept, the idea of a body of gun women’ [sic[

There were duties women did during the Irish volunteers such as carrying dispatches, preparing meals, and caring for the injured.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

(short article) East Galway and the Domestic Service: Athenry by Ronan Killeen

First of all what is a domestic servant? A servant employed in a grand or middle class household. It is interesting to see the social history aspect of this occupation. In Dolan's work on Athenry 200 the 1821 Census he reports that htere was a Mary O'Conor from Cross street, Athenry who was 10 years old house servant (Dolan, p10). 

During the 19th century there would be a lot of young people under the age of 16 that were employed in households. Servants were also in Athenry House (which is located at the Back Lawn/behind the G. A. A. pitch.

In the early 19th century which included nine district central streets in Athenry Back street  7 house servants. Moanbawn Lane 3 house servants ; Northgate Street - 5 house servants, Allens Lane (Now Davis street see Qualter ); McDonalds Lane - None; Court Lane - none; Abbey Lane (now known as Bridge Steet see Qualter p) ; Cross street 19 house servants, Barrack Street Lane - none (see Dolan p11) 

Sources: Athenry 200 the 1821 Census by Steve Dolan
               Athenry History and Folklore by Aggie Qualter

Monday, March 30, 2020

Athenry: Land Agitation and the Irish War of Independence 1919-1921 by Ronan Killeen (Revised 2020)

Right: A Flying Column ref: WikipeidaIrish War of Independence - Wikipedia

After the Easter Rising 1916

After the execution of the leaders of 1916 it changed public opinion for sympathy of the rebels. In the post-war general election of 1918, Sinn Féin won a large majority across the country, with the exception of north-east, where unionists, opposed to any diminution of the union with Britain, held sway.      

Dáil Eireann was established in Dublin 1919 and declared Irish Independence to the world but international recognition  for the Irish Republic fell on deaf ears, and the British government refused the countenance the concept of Irish democracy or the Irish right to self determination. The Republic went underground and the Irish Volunteers became the  IRA Volunteers mainly of the ages 18yrs-30yrs. 

Land Agitation continues in Athenry 1919
 In Athenry land agitation continuted into the Irish War of Independence era.  On the 1 December 1919 the County Court Judge Doyle K.C, at Galway on Monday, made the following award to the applicant for compensation of criminal injuries to Patrick Tyrrel, Knockbrack, Athenry for £40 and costs and expenses, for gunshot wounds received when a shot was fired into the house of his father employed by Major Hall.  

The Frank Shawe Taylor Ambush 3rd of March 1920
The biggest event of the land agitation and Irish War of Independence era in Athenry which  remains a cold case to this very day  is the assaination of Mr. Frank Shawe-Taylor at Moorepark, Athenry. On the 03 March 1920, Shawe-Taylor and his chauffer Mr. James Barrett, had to go to the Galway Fair.  Shawe-Taylor was a large stock-holder which meant it was custom for him to go to any principal fair.    When Shawe-Taylor reached Coshla, ahead on the right was Egan's public house about twenty yards off the road. Shawe-Taylor was with his chauffer Barret  when on seeing a barricade on the road exclaimed.'What is this for?!'    The obstruction was composed off a donkey cart, one of the wheels of which had been taken off and placed on one side of the road and a wooden gate standing at the other side of the road and a wooden gate standing at the other side of the cart.  
At 6:00 a.m  Shawe-Taylor stopped his motor, leaving the engine running, and directed Barrett to remove the obstacle. As Barrett proceeded to do so suddenly a volley of shots rang out of his hands.    After the firing of shots   Barret rushed back to his employer who was now covered in blood and asked him if he was wounded.  Shawe-Taylor's last words were "Oh, ye-". . As Barrett went to pick Shawe-Taylor's body up he recieved five pellets in the left jaw from a shot that was fired from the back of the car.    

More firing rang out in the distance and the corpse of Shawe-Taylor was put in the front seat of the car. Next, Barrett crept out from under the mudgaurd and staggered to the sidewall where he fell on the grass on the side of the road.    An unknown person came behind Barrett and assisted him to his feet. The unknown person warned him not to look back, and Barrett, seemingly, had to comply with the order. The man asked him if he was much hurt, and he replied that he thought he was. Again he warned him not to look back, but to walk straight on. 

Barrett did so and made his way to the house of the herd, Broderick, where he was admitted, and told the inmates of his dreadful experience.  Mrs. Shawe-Taylor was soon to here the devasting news of her husband.  It was alleged that some employees whom she asked to go to take back her dead husband refused, their answer was 'where was the use than being dead'. Mrs. Shawe-Taylor  drove up to the scene, where she found her husband lying dead in the car and not a soul in sight.    The shots that had killed Mr.Shawe-Taylor must have been fired at a range of scarcely a yard, for part of his face was burned black, and a gun and was found embedded in his head. 

 About eight men took part in the attack apparently because fifteen gun cartridges were found at the place, which a total of two volleys fired. The attackers wore mask's. The deceased evidently recieved the brunt of the charge. 
 There had been many dents on the left side of Shawe-Taylor's car aswell.    The front seat of the car contained a pool of blood, and one of the dead man's teeth had been blown out. The residents of the little cottage at the scene of the shooting say they heard the shots, but the people in Egan's pub state they did not hear anything. 

A number of months later Thomas Egan was to pay the price for Shawe-Taylor's death through a reprisal. Frank Shawe-Taylor was a Unionist in politics and he had 1,000 acres of land in the vicinity of Athenry. It was assured that he recieved several threating letters following his refusal to surrender portion of this land for distribution amongst the surrounding tenants. The Connaught Tribune wrote that; ‘With all those warnings and threats, it is a curious fact, which goes to show his indomitable courage-when he saw the barricade on the road when he drove to his death that he did not turn back and foil the trap laid for him.’    

Funeral of Frank Shawe Taylor

 The funeral of the late Mr. Frank M. Shawe-Taylor, J.P., who was shot dead at Coshla on March 3 while motoring to Galway fair, took place from his residence at Moorpark, at 3 o'clock on Friday 6 March 1920 to Athenry.    A large crowd attended Shawe-Taylors funeral including some of the following such as; The Rt. Rev. Dr. Ross, Prostestant Bishop of Tuam, presided at the obsequies in the church at Athenry, the officating  clergy men being the Rev. J. F. Cannon Bery, Galway, the Rev. Radcliffe D. Roe, Athenry, the Reverand J. C. Trotter, Ardrahan.    Both Dr. Ross and Rev. Fr. Lynch condemed the murder in their sermons to their parishoners  with great emotion There was .Five farmers' sons had abeen remanded in custody on the charge of murdering Shawe-Taylor, D.L. of Coshla, on March 3. The accused men were the following: Thomas Holland (24) Lisheenkyle; Martin Ruane (32) do.; Thomas Connell (28) do. ; Patrick Kelly, Carranduff (22); and Michael Kelly (18) however, in my research I could never find what happened to the case reviewing the newspaper archives.

District Inspector Gilhooly investigates
    District Inspector Gilhooly, Athenry investigaged the scene  of the tragedy where he saw blood on the road and also the cart that was used as an obstruction to stop Mr.Shawe-Taylor's motor car on the day he was shot.    Inside the wall he found eight cartridge cases which had recently been empited, tobacco, and a piece of packing case with twins which had apparently been tied around a boot. Evidence of arrest was given by Sergeant Tahaney.    A special court in Galway was held on 12 March 1920 before Mr. Justice Kilbridge, R. M.., the following five arrested for the murder were remanded in custody for the assaination of Frank Shawe-Taylor on 3 March 1920. 

Accused Men Trail

All the accussed men were farmer's sons. One of them wore a bandage on his head in the dock.     D.I. Gilhoouly also  found footprints on the road which showed that the boots had been covered with sack-cloth or canvas. He followed similar tracks going in the direction of Lisheenkyle. The last place D. I. Gilhooly found these tracks was in a grass field in the townland of Barretspark.  He then travelled eto Lisheenkyle, and he arrested three of the defendants  whom I now see present; Thomas Holland, Martin Ruane, and Thomas Connell, all of Lisheenkyle.    

The District Inspector  charged and also arrested Martin Ruane on the same charge. The sergeant added that a remand was necessary to enable him to make further enquires and complete them ---Mr. O Dea did not cross-examine. Head-constable Dolan, Athenry, confirmed a deposition made upon the arrest of Patrick and Michael Kelly of Carranduff: Many arrests were to follow in Athenry  such as in April 1920 John Fury, M.Joyce and Michael Glynn (sen) were arrested and charged for purchasing rifles. 

Mail Car Robbery 1920
In May 1920  a mail car from Athenry to Loughrea was held up at Poolnabooney at 2 a.m. and a boy containing letters from Athenry to Craughwell taken. That same month at  10:30pm a steward living in the Athenry district received a letter, warning him if he had not left his employment within three days he should abide by the gun. 

 Shots fired June 1920

In June 1920 at  11:30pm two shots were fired into a house in the Athenry district. Stones also thrown through the windows but no person was injured.    Two arrests were also made in June -Michael and Patrick Burns, farmers sons, Newcastle, Athenry and conveyed to Galway under heavy military escort to await trial on charge of shooting constable O’Brien, who received several shots in the leg, while accompanying Mr. W.Hutchinson and his bodyguard of four armed policemen on bicycles passed a certain point on the road. 

 The Railway Strike of 1920

During the whole summer period of 1920 a railway strike occurred where train drivers and railway station employees refused to move the train due to armed police on board.
On the 31 May 1920 at 5pm, a military lorry which was guarded by soldiers arrived at the Broadstone Terminus with five cases, stated to contain eggs and glasses, which was to be sent to Athenry by the night mail train leaving at 7:30pm. Ten minutes before the train departed-a number of members of the National Union Railwaymen approached the station master ten minutes before the departure of the train, and informed him that the train will not run unless the cases were removed.

  The station master at once saw the officer in charge of the soldiers, the railwaymen in the meantime refused to continue loading the mails. After brief words between the stationmaster and the officer, three cases were moved and it was found out that they had rifles in them. The train departed one minute behind time.

    About three weeks later 25 June 1920 at Athenry yesterday morning ten policemen with arms arrived by the Galway train en route to Tuam. Their luggage would not be loaded on the Great Southern train, but the policeman took their seats. The engine driver refused to proceed while the police were on the train, and traffic on the Great Southern and Western Railway was dislocated between Athenry, Claremorris and Sligo.

   The next incident reported in the Irish Times was on 25 June 1920 when the Athenry and Claremorris train purposely stayed in their own stations. The Dublin mail train that had reached Athenry noticed that there were armed police on the train, once the driver noticed this he refused to go any further with the train. Passengers were then taken to Galway by motor car.

On 25 June 1920, ten policemen (Royal Irish Constabulary) with arms and luggage, arrived by en route  to Tuam. Their luggage would not be loaded on the train but the policeman too their seats. The driver refused to proceed, while the police were on the train and the traffic on the Great Southern Western Railway was dislocated between Athenry, Claremorris and Sligo. On the 22 December 1920 the Railway Strike finally ended.

The Bookeen and Moyvilla RIC Barracks attacked 1920
During the Summer of 1920 the RIC barracks at Bookeen and Moyvilla were attacked. See images below 

No photo description available.

No photo description available.
No photo description available.

Murder of Tom Egan - Reprisal of Frank Shawe Taylor October 1920

In October 1920 publican Tom Egan who was also an Irish Volunteer was became a reprisal Frank Shawe Taylor. Nora Egan daughter of Tom gives a detailed account of that night in James Charles Roy's The Fields of Athenry.   

Tragic Death of Bill Freaney 1921

In 1921 at the buring of the Tennis and Cricket Pavilion Irish Volunteer died tragically Bill FreaneyFreaney, Jack Mahon and Martin Ruane  hadwanted revenge for Tom Egan's death. The men went to Castle Lambert and tried to burn it down but it failed beacause of bad petrol.    The three men went to the Cricket and Tennis Pavilion. Bill Freaney was down in the cellar and while the other two men were over head and they called 'everyone out'? They believed everyone was out and set the pavilion on fire. Ruane and Mahon told the story to Nora Egan. Bill Freaney died on the 30 June 1921 in the Pavilion fire and he is now buried with a grave  'The grave of the unknow warrior' is engraved on to the grave. 

A mix up believing that it may have been a Cleary in Abbey Row who's body was burned in the fire. In July 1921 a bunch of armed men entered the household of Thomas B. Cleary, with blakened faces.

 A Galway Correspondent for the Freeman's Journal stated that it was one of his sons dead body found in the pavilion but as many of us from Athenry today know it was Bill Freaney.

According to the Freeman's Journal 'A score of armed men, with blackened faces, entered the house, and taking him out declared (our Galway Correspondent states) that it was probably one of his sons whose dead body had been found in the pavilion. If that was not so, they alleged, it was the men who were at his house who had set fire to it. They threatened to shoot, and shots were also fired over his father's head. The latter was subsequently thrown into the stream
   When permitted to go back to the hosue he found it had been thoroughly searched. His wife, he adds, prayed for one of the raiders, who acted very kindly to herand attended to her when she collapsed. This man subsequently went into the garden to search for her son, who was afraid to return, and brought him back to the house. He spoke with an English accent, said Mr. Cleary and recognised the picture of the Sacred Heart.
   Police officers subsequently called to the house, which is withing a shotre distance of the barrack and meade inquiries regarding the affair. Mr. Cleary and his three sons were interned in at Frongoch after the 1916 rebellion. One son, Thomas, is at present in Ballykinlar.

This is from the Freeman's Journal date 8 July 1921 which would be 3 days before the Truce.
Compensation 1921

On the 25 October 1921 Dr. Quinlan of Athenry recieved compensation of  £700 for the burning of the Cricket and Tennis Pavilion.The Truce is called on the 6 July 1921. 

I have written about the Bureau of Military History 1913-1921 one before but I am adding more content in this article. An aspect of oral ...