Thursday, January 9, 2020

News during Athenry's Land Agitation and Irish War of Independence 1919-1921 by Ronan Killeen

Irish Independnet 18/01/1919 A Sinn Fein Prisoner from Athenry stated that 2 Terryglas men had been arrested at Killeenen near Craughwell both were on the run and on was already sentenced and lodged in Athenry barracks.  The prisoners were given a barrack form and blanket, these articles proving the undoing of their captors. Camoflaging their activity with the blanket. They sang Sinn Fein songs to the Iron legs that was attached to them .  One of  them managed to escape that night. His companion however, had to remain and when the affair was dicovered he was promptly conveyed at Arbour Hill, Dublin as the investigation pended. 

Irish Independent 14/03/1919 - Lardner and Jordan from Lincoln and Birmingham jails were met by and enourmouse crowd headed by a band and torch barrells escorted procession to the town hall. Houses illuninated and tar barrells burned. The Rev. E. McGough stated ‘while the prisoners were in the jail great esteem continued for them and Lardner and Jordan replied  that pierce McGan M. P. who chairman refered to as Ireland’s lastest Martyr.  

Connacht Tribune 04/09/1920 - Two students of the Deptarment of Agriculture went to a country dance. Their bicycles were stolen. The volunteers of Athenry raided a young man’s house and showed a saddle to one of the victimes who claimed it was his property. On 15th August the town volunteers arrested the culprit whose house the saddle was found in he was tried at a ‘special court’ where he pleaded not guilty and was remanded on bail of £10  and 50 shillings. 

Irish Indepdent 09/11/1920 - Sensational reports of shooting in Athenry on Sun. And from early morning and military motors have been flying in that direction.

Irish Independent 21/04/1921 - At the Galway Quarter Sessions Martin Blackhall, Monivea for the burning of a barn was awarded £100. He said he heard the baring being broken into and looking out saw  men in police uniform.  

Freeman’s Journal 07/05/1921 - Searches on houses by the forces happened to Fr. Rev. Cannon Farragher, P. P. Athenry aswell as S. Jordan; L. Lardner and J. J. Broderick Athenry. Property of Mrs Jordan which was a green costume was removed. 

Irish Independent 01/06/1921 - Fras Healy Athenry was acquitted at Galway on a charge of being in possession. Accused denied seeing ammunition before. 

Irish Independent 27/06/1921 - The pay clerk of Deptarment of the Model Farm, Athenry was held up by about 10 armed men, who took from him £60 which he had to pay staff. Troops are encamped on the farm, and the local R. I.C. mail car was on the road at the time. 

Connacht Tribune 03/08/1921 - Christopher; Patrick Doherty and MI Tierney an ex-soldier have a conflict on the O’Malley Farm. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Athenry and the Irish Civil War (Revised 2019) by Ronan Killeen

I would like to thank South East Galway Archaeological and Historical Society for publishing and editing this article.

On the 6 December 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed bringing the 'Free State' into being, ending the Irish War of Independence with Britain, but also provoking bitter disagreement in Ireland itself. By the beginning of 1921, Athenry had come under the control of the National Armed Forces. However, trouble was brewing and soon the Superintendent and the Staff of the Agricultural College were forced by Irregulars – those opposed to the Treaty – to blockade the road a few miles from the town. This was just the beginning of unrest in the region.

Athenry Irregulars
The first major disturbances involving Athenrymen came in September 1922 when a party of troops under Brigadier Callinan and Captain Thompson arrested five men in Tarramid, Clarinbridge, and compelled them to clear the roads in the district. The men had been arrested for holding illegal ammunitions and had also been prominent in blocking roads but were released on giving the usual undertaking. The names of these ‘Irregulars’ were William Kelly, Coldwood, Athenry; William Commins, Coldwood, Athenry; Thomas Holland, Derrydon-
nell, Athenry; Michael Freaney, Derrydonnell, Athenry and John Hynes, Clarinbridge.

First Fatality
The first fatality came on Sunday 1 October 1922 when a member of National Armed Forces, Corporal Stephen Diviney who came from the Oranmore District, was walking home from a dance in Payne's Hall. En route, he came across two raiders who had just fired shots into two shops belonging to Messrs Broderick (C. L. Brodericks Chemist).

According to the Connaught Tribune, ‘Before 11 p.m. most people were in their houses or at the dance, either two or four men, who are said to have been armed with rifles, discharged a number of armed rifles, discharged a number of shots into Messrs. Brodericks chemist shop and also into a public house owned by the same family’... then came the shooting. Corporal Diviney came across the men and was demanded to halt by the raiders but thinking it was his own comrades he said 'It is all right boys' but was then shot'.

The site of the former Payne's Hall where Corporel Stephen Diviney attended a dance before leaving to be tragically shot.
After the shot to the heart, Diviney fell into a pool of his own blood and died within a few minutes. This was the first time during the Civil War that blood had been shed in the Athenry area. The National Troops immediately came out onto the streets, searched all likely hiding places, and went to the show grounds and adjoining fields. Thirteen men were arrested and marched to Galway Jail. The men that were arrested included C. Daly, P.J. Daly, T.J. Daly, M. Ward, M. Kelleher, J. Clancy, Stephen Jordan, T. Regan, and J. Regan.

Kelly's chemist/ Fields of Athenry Gift shop was formely C. L. Broderick's where the
raiders who shot Corporel Stephen Diviney 

Dr Crowley, coroner for South Galway, opened an inquest the following Monday. Medical evidence was to the effect that Diviney died as a result of a bullet entering the chest over the head. Confirming initial reports, the Galway Observer on the 14 October 1922 reported ‘Sergeant Thomas Creaven, who was in company with deceased, stated that they left the dance together, and that when near the post office saw two men in front of them.

One of the men shouted 'halt' and fired immediately. The bullet struck Corporal Diviney, who advanced a pace, and then fell on his back. The shot followed immediately after the cry of 'halt'.
In charging the jury, the coroner said it was a callous act to shoot a man because he was wearing the uniform of the National Army. The jury brought in a verdict that the deceased met his death from the effects of bullet wounds willfully inflicted by some person or persons unknown.

Armed Raids

Also in October 1922 there was an armed raid on the residence of Mr Joseph Meldon of Coolarne House. The raiders seized a mare, poney and trap, a set cart harenesses, cross-cut saws and other articles. Later that month six members of the Irregulars forces surrendered arms and ammunition at Athenry Military Headquarters. They also signed an undertaking not to take part in any further activities.

Railway Attacks
The railway bridges were also ‘victims’ of Athenry’s Civil War. In August 1922 the Athenry and Ballyglunnin railway bridge was blown-up, and days later the Athenry  to Tuam railway line was damaged.
In October 1922 the Athenry to Limerick train was fired at, but there were no casualties. In November 1922 the Athenry to Tuam bridges were blown-up again, and signal cabin at Ballyglunin was burned to the ground and the goods train was 'held up'.

Archbishop Criticism
On the 2 March 1923 Archbishop Dr. Gilmartion of Tuam made references to the immortality and crime on his visit to Athenry – We know that a first condition of serving God is to keep his commandments; and yet men daily dare to float his commandments. The commandments are not a tyrannical yoke. They only prescribe that what is necessary for the well being of the individual and the stability of society. 'Though shall not steal'- If that commandment was not made by God, it should be made by every form of civil government. 'Though shall not kill' - If that commandment was not made by God, it would be one of the first laws enacted by every state. In fact the fundamental duty is to protect life and property. Now these two commandments are generally accepted by pagans. But how are they observed by Christians? Or, to bring things nearer home, how are they observed by the Irish Catholics? Thirty years ago a murdered in Ireland would fill the whole nation in horror. Today it is commonplace...’.

More Raids
On the 5 August 1922 the Irish Times reported that 'Two houses had been raided in Ballygurrane, Athenry, and half a dozen boys, arming themselves with a pitchfork and a single shotgun with one cartridge, lay in ambush for the raiders the following night. They duly arrived. The single cartridge was exploded, 'hands up' was called from each side of the road, and the raiders found themselves with the fork prongs around there throats. They were deprived of their weapons and were marched to the Railway Hotel, Athenry, where they were handed over to the National Troops’.

The strife continued into 1923. The ‘Munster and Leinster’ Bank was robbed by two men Joseph O’Rourke, a servant boy from Ardrahan, and Michael Murphy, a farmers son from Garragh in Gort (Authors note: Conflicting details of Murphy's address appear in the newspapers of the time).

Murphy had been with the Irregular IRA at the Renmore Depot, Galway before it was burned.
Initially after the robbery the raiders disappeared down the street. A shopkeeper, Miss McLoughlin, was after finishing her dinner next door and had seen the raiders enter the bank. She soon realised that the door between the shop and bank had been locked against her, and the two raiders escaped.

Then, after several ‘near misses’ and a catalogue of errors by authorities the men were eventually captured. On the 31 May 1923, the Freeman’s Journal reported that; ‘Michael Murphy, Ardrahan, Co Galway and Joseph O’Rourke, Coxtown, Ardrahan, Co Galway were tried before a military tribunal at Tuam on 24th day of May 1923.

 On charge of taking part in an armed robbery, in that they did, on 22nd May 1923 stole from the Munster and Leinster Bank, Athenry, Co. Galway in Tuam Military Barracks.’ The condemned men admitted their guilt but had stated that it was of no political significance and they were forced agents in connection with the land trouble. The night before their execution Rev. Father Cunningham,
who was the army Chaplin stayed with the prisoners and the following morning attended mass and received Communion. On the 31st May 1923 the prisoners were blindfolded and executed at 8am that morning.

These, and indeed other events in the Athenry area during the Civil War generated extremes of bitterness that have also haunted political life up to the present. While Athenry was spared the worst of the bloodshed, even today any further reference to, or more specific details on, the events and personalities locally could bring only division.

The opportunity to create a new society was set-back generations by the conflict. Approaching a cen-
tury on, we may finally be in a position to discuss the era openly and objectively.

Waldron, Kiernan, Archbishops of Tuam (Nordwall Books 2008).
Corona, Guiomar Gonzalez, The Catholic Church in the Irish Civil War, (Cultivalibros, 2008).
Freeman’s Journal, 31/05/1923.
Irish Independent, 24/05/1923.
Irish Times Archive June 1922-May 1923.
Tuam Herald, 26/05/1923.
Southern Star, 26/05/1923.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Some Surnames in Athenry Dominican Priory by Ronan Killeen & Adrian Martyn

Image result for athenry dominican priory
Reference: Image got from Atlas Obscura

The Athenry Dominican Priory graveyard is an interesting piece of our genealogical history, containing graveslabs of Brennan, Nolan, and Higgins families.
     Most Brennans in Co. Galway descend from an Ó Branáin lineage from Killogilleen parish. One in Athenry reads: Pray for the soul of Mary Brennan who departed this life on the 30th October 1867 at an advanced age Erected by Mrs. Bodkin Annagh as tribute of respect for great worth and long and faithful services.
 Lios Uí Uallacháin/Lisnolan, Manulla parish, Co. Mayo, was the home of a Nolan lineage, who by the 1490s were goldsmiths living in Galway town. Their coat of arms can be spotted in Kilkenny shop on High street. The graveyard features one inscribed 1858 Erected by Patk Nolan in memory of his father Thos Nolan who died Aug  1831 age 89 years and his wife Pinny.
     The Ó hUiginn lineage of Meath migrated to Co. Galway before the 16th century. A Higgins graveslab reads: Sacred to the memory of the ALICE HIGGINS wife of THOMAS HIGGINS who departed this life on the 10th day of March 1811 this was erected by Him in memory of her and his posterity may she rest in peace.  

Blackall and McDonagh by Ronan Killeen

Image result for blackall and mcdonagh athenry
Above: Left of photograph Blackall & McDonagh, St. Mary's Collegiate Church (now the Athenry Arts and Heritage Centre)  and Blackall and McDoangh (another store?) . The photo was taken from

The earliest mention of Blackall which is referenced in the Freeman's Journal on the 4th May 1863 is a Charles Blackall:

'Lieutenant General Hall, C. B, of Knockbrack, with that liberality which always characterises him, has given orders to Charles Blackall of Athenry, to supply every tenant on his extensive estates (who may require it) with as much meal as will supply thier wants till the next harvest. The gallant general's liberality will be the more thought of when we state that many of the parties so relieved are three half gales of rent in arrear' 

C. Blackall is mentioned as an agent for Athenry under the headline IMPORTANT TO FLOCKMASTERS in the Drogheda Conservative 27th May 1865 'Athenry...C. Blackall'.'

Charles Blackall, Athenry is advertised selling Phospho Gauono to the Purdon, Brothers, Dublin, Geo. Segrave & co. Liverpool which is advertised in the Tuam Herald Saturday 27th April 1867.

In the Freeman's Journal on the 28th March 1901 there is an advert by Blackall and McDonagh looking for a 'Young man wanted for Boots and General Drapery, apply stating references and salary required to Blackall and McDonagh, Athenry'

Blackall and McDonagh's were local agents for 'Skin Diseases in Horses and Dogs use for Equisan according to the Westmeath Independent 1st March 1902.

News during Athenry's Land Agitation and Irish War of Independence 1919-1921 by Ronan Killeen

Irish  Independnet  18/01/1919  A Sinn Fein Prisoner from  Athenry  stated that 2  Terryglas  men had been arrested at  Killeenen  near  Cr...