Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bureu of Military History by Ronan Killeen

Time after time on this blog (and on others of mine) many of you would have seen the words witness statements and Military pensions. There is a great source for historians known as the Bureu of Military History. I have summarised what the Bureu of Military of History is about for readers who thoroughly enjoy military history.

On the 1 January 1947 the Bureu of Military History was established by Oscar Traynor the then Minister for Defence and former Captain of the Irish Volunteers. The objective of the BMH (Bureu of Military History) was ‘to assemble and co-ordinate material to form the basis for the compilation of the history of the movement of independence from the formation of the Irish Volunteers on 25 November 1913 – 11 July 1921’. (Courtesy of the Bureu of Military History) Over a period of ten years the BMH contains the following;

• 1,773 Witness Statements (WS)

• 334 Contemporary Documents (CD)

• 42 Photograph’s (P)

• 12 Voice Recordings (VR)

• 210 Action Sites Easter Week (ASEW)

• PC

All of the above was collected for the Bureu by individuals that took part in the activites of that time. Well known figures who helped compile documents for the BMH were High Court Judge, Cahir Davitt (Son of agriarian agitator Michael Davitt), Sean T. O’Ceallaigh former president of Ireland 1949-1959 and Kathleen Clarke (Widow of Thomas Clarke) and of course the ordinary men and women involved in the indpendence movement.

Many of the papers in the BMH cover the Howth Gun Running, Easter Rising, formation of the first Daíl, and the outbreak of the Irish War of Independence.

The voice recordings give researchers an opportunity to hear the stories of individuals in their own word an example of this would be Áine Ceantt, widow of Eamonn Ceannt recounts the first meeting of the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood in her homt at Dolophin’s Barn, in Dublin.

During the 1950’s the Air Corps took photographs of action sites Easter Week to illustrate aspects and thinking behind the positions taken by the rebel garrisons in the rising. The BMH is a magnificent source for historians. The Bureu also illustrates the complexity of a number of Volunteers who had serving in the British Army and the later became involved in the Nationalist movement, while the RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary) Officers assisted the Crown’s enemies.

Individuals involved with events of the time were given a chance to record their ovwn stories, members of the group were the Irish Volunteers, IRA, Cumman Na mBan, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), Sinn Féin, the Irish Citzen’s Army, relatives of deceased individuals and people not associated with any organisation were sought out to give a broad range of as possible to the collection.

In 2003 the Witness Statements of Co. Galway became publicly available for academic research as you will notice the statements are used in Dr. Fergus Campell’s book Land, Revoultion and Nationalist Politics in the West 1891-1921. This book can be got in Athenry Library.

The people who’s witness statement that are apart of Athenry area are the following:

James Barrett, Member of the IRB, 1913, Officer IRA, Galway, 1920-1921

Sean Broderick Officer IV, Galway, 1916; Officer, IV, and IRA, Galway 1917-1921

Stephen Jordan Former TD, Member IRB and IV, Galway, 1906-1916; Member IRA, Galway, 1919-1921

Daniel Kearns Captain of the IRA, Galway 1921

Paddy King Captain IRA, Galway, 1921

Gilbert Morrissey Officer IV and IRA, Galway, 1913-1921

I will be reading more into this during the week. Two more articles and I will be on my 60th article (bar 3 articles which are more 'How to's' than anything else. Will be lighting things up as we come into the Christmas season and I am trying to escape from my 'dark toned' articles.

Athenry's Institutionalised through the Irish Census 1901 and 1911 by Ronan Killeen

Did you know that you can look at the hardcopy of the census were from Athenry in the Galway Jail on Nun's Island, the Workhouses of Galway City and Loughrea, the Magdalene Laundry of Foster Street (Sometimes known as Foster Place in the census) and St. Brigid's Psychiatric Hospital in the census. You will also know that derogative terminology was used in the past (of course a different time period) were today things are politcally correct because they have to be otherwise it is offensive or biased.

 Galway Jail

1  Go to

2 Click on Holdings.

3 Click on 'Search the records for census 1901 and 1911' tab.

4 Then go to 1901 census, type in Nun's Island in the townland section.

5. Look for initials on the census.

6. When a census with a whole bunch of initials come up click on prison return K or 2 or 3 and so on you will find people who are in jail some from Athenry I think

Here is the link and her is the link to the map of the jail,529510,725481,7,8 that is the 6" map and here is the 25" map,529510,725481,7,9. The jail was on the site of the Cathedral today.

Magdalen Laundry/Asylum of Foster Street

In the above steps from Galway Jail begin at step 4.

1. Type Foster Street into townland section and look for initials.

2. Click on the initals and scroll to the bottom and there it will say Prison return K (Though it is called household by 1911). You will notice that the occupations of these women were either Laundress or General Servant's here is the link Here is the 6" inch map were it called a 'Widows and Orphans Asylum' but in the 25" map it becomes Magdalene Asylum.

Loughrea Workhouse (You could do the same for Galway Workhouse but most Athenry people went towards Loughrea according to the census)

1. Go to the townland section and then type in Knockanima.

2. There is the initails -click on them.

3. Scroll down and click on workhouse return and so on.

Loughrea Workhouse on 25" map,562631,715761,6,9 it dosen't seem to be there on the 6" map so it may have been built later. The 6" inch maps are dated back as far the 1840's.

St. Brigid's Psychiatric Hospital Ballinasloe

1.  In the 1901 census type in Townparks.

2. Look for the initials and click on them

3. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see derogative terminology used during that period were it says the words 'Return of idiots and lunatics in institutions (Form I)'. Today it is called St. Brigid's Psychiatric Hospital Ballinasloe.  Here is the link Click on the 'Return of idiots and lunatics in institutions (Form I) including the numbers to read into the reasons why people from Athenry and other places got there.

On both the 6" inch map,585670,731063,7,8 and 25",586340,731104,7,9 inch map it was called the Connaught District Lunatic Asylum

Hope this is some use to anyone who has interest in Irish institutions.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Shop Ledger from 30's and early 40's by Ronan Killeen

For those of you who owned an Athenry shop for generations you may be very lucky to have a ledger that goes back as far as 1930's. As you can see in both photograph's.

More Historic Websites for the Athenry Historian by Ronan Killeen

On the website I came across this link which was very well designed by Mr. Brian Quinn. Enjoy folks. If you like Athenry's local history you will love this

Also for the local historian you can find several things on this website instead of going to a county library

Also the Landed Estates in Athenry through the National University of Ireland. Unfortunetly it won't open for me properly but it might for some open Shawe-Taylor: Landed Estate

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Finding Athenry's History through the Record of Protected Structures by Ronan Killeen

1. You must have google earth

2. When you do go to

3. Click on Map Zone on the very top right corner

4. Then on the left hand side of the screen you will see Google Earth on the menu

5. After you click on scroll down to Google Earth- Record of Protected Structures.

6. Then you should see all the survey that was done in the county of Galway on different buildings.

Athenry on the Ordinary Survey Maps by Ronan Killeen

Did you know you can look at the historical maps of Athenry online?

Historic 6" map,550504,727753,6,8

Historic 25" map (this is more clearer but the town is cut out off it for a reason I don't know),550504,727753,6,9

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A little bit more of Athenry and the Irish War of Indpendence Part 2: A Night time raid at the Cleary hosue of Abbey Row by Ronan Killeen

After the pavilion was burned in 1921 were the tragic death of Bill Freaney occured there was 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.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A little bit more Stories of Athenry and the Irish Civil War (1922-1923) Part 2: Those Realeased for the Corporel Diviney Murder

There has been a contradiction in the papers about the Corporel Stephen Diviney murder who was possibly shot by the Irregular IRA during the time of the Irish Civil War. One contradiction is that he was shot outside O' Neill's and there other is outside Brodericks house (Now both Kelly's Pharmacy and The Fields of Athenry gift shop were the raiders were shooting into) but after those 13 men were imprisoned in Galway Jail on Nun's Island (The site of the Cathedral) more were realeased in this extract letter from the Connaught Tribune  18 November 1922

Sir- On the 12th of October, we the undersigned were realesed from Galway Gaol unconditionally. We ask you to publish this for those who are Masters in the art of 'spreading the news'. They have gone to extremes to injure us in signing the 'form'. 
We were never asked to sign the form for as stated before our realease was unconditional hoping you will give this space in your paper.


Since the murder of Corporel Stephen Diviney the military authorities to remain indoors after 10pm. The people of Athenry were dis-satisfied with this curfew and stated that no person in Athenry was responsible for the  murder  Corporel Stephen Diviney and the towns-people of Athenry should not suffer for the acts  strangers in their town.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Athenry Petty Sessions 1914: Drunk or not and no lights!

Extract from the Connaugt Tribune 14 Febraury 1914.

Soir. is short for solicitor

'Athenry Petty Sessions held on Friday week, before, Messrs. Joseph Kilbride, R.M. (presiding) and S. Shawe-Taylor, J.P. Lord Ashtown sought possession of a cottage, held by Michael McDonagh, at Monivea, barony of Kilconnell. Mr. H. Davidson soir., Ballinasloe, appeared for Lord Ashtown; defendent did not appear 
   Mr. John Egan, stewart, deposed, that the defendants held a cottage at a weekly rent of 1s. One year's rent was due - Possession was gramted and John Keogh, Ballinasloe, was named as special baliff to execute the decree. 
   Sergeant Minchin, Athenry, summoned Patk. Kennedy for drunkness, at Park on January 26th. 

Defendant (Patk.):   I say I was not drunk!

Chairman:  Have you any doubt he was drunk, Sergeant.

Complainant: I have no doubt your worship, there was a young man with whom I placed him in charge to take him home. He came to the barracks to make a complainent about his son, with whom he had a row, and finished himself before going home.(laughter in court)

Defendant: Who did you leave me in charge of?

Witness: A servant boy of Michael Coyne's Athenry.

Defendant: What day was that?

Witness: On the night of 26th.

Defendant: What day of the week was it Friday or Monday?

Witness: I decline the awnser.

Chairman: Wait and we will find out.

Defendant: I say I was not drunk.

Chairman: Prove it. Have you any witness?

Defendant: I will leave it to your worship. It is as good.

Chairman: Was he ever up before?

Witness: Not in the last 12 months.

Patk Kennedy was fined 1s (s =shilling) and costs.

The following were fined for not having lighted lamps attached to their vechiles after sunset.  Wm. Rabbitt, M. Coffey, Ed. Forde, John Connelly, P. Healy,Tim Murray, Constable Courtney was the complainant.
John O'Brien was fined 1s, and 4s. and 6d in costs. ( I believe there may have been a mistake here and that the paper may have been a misprint were it should mean £1 not 1s, 4s and 6d) for permitting a cart, his property to be on the public street at Athenry without having any persons in charge. Michael Treacy fined 1s and costs for using lighted vechile, and his mother was fined 6d and costs for not having her name affixed to her cart. 

List of Publicans and Hotel Owners/Managers 1856-1936 by Ronan Killeen (Merry Christmas!)

1846 [1] Margaret Barrett, (Hotel and Posting House); Matthias Cannon; John Dunleavy; John Holleran; John Whelan. 1856 [...