Category Archives: Friends

End in Sight

Frank Aiken later when he was Minister for Defence

As April 1923 faded into May, the anti-Treatyites campaign against the National Army began to lose its potency. By then, it was more of a destruction of property than a felony against the person. A great number of republicans were captured and imprisoned, and more were demoralised by the adverse conditions they existed under in the mountainous terrain of the south and west of Ireland. After the death of IRA leader Liam Lynch in April 1923, Frank Aiken, his successor, prompted his comrades to stand down. It was becoming obvious that victory was not theirs.


Weekly Dispatch (London) 29 April 1923

Irish Independent 17 August 1932

Liam Lynch

Liam Lynch

One hundred years ago today, Liam Lynch lost his life to a long-range bullet fired by the Free State soldiers. Lying on a cold mountainside in County Tipperary’s Knockmealdown Mountains as Chief of Staff of the anti-Treaty IRA, he commanded his troops to leave him and save themselves.

Liam Lynch had called a meeting with his senior officers on the mountainside, as was common for the anti-Treaty IRA side to evade the better-armed Free State soldiers. As the Civil War progressed, it became increasingly clear that the anti-Treaty side was losing.

Lynch and his officers had arrived in Newcastle the previous day and were hiding out in safe houses around the village. Somehow, the Free State troops found out, formed columns, and began a search of the area. By the time the IRA members were tipped off it was too late for them to disperse and take cover. The Free State Army were all over the mountains and valleys closing in on the irregulars with great speed and stealth. Although the IRA were well prepared and armed there were just too many troops and were quickly outgunned in the shootout that ensued.

Liam Lynch took a bullet almost immediately. Not wanting to implicate his officers more than necessary, he gave them his gun and documents and ordered them to save their own lives, as his was ebbing away. Reluctantly, they did. Lynch, who was bleeding profusely, was captured by the Free State troops, who did their best to save his life. He was carried back to Newcastle, where he was attended first by local doctors and then by medics at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Clonmel. But his wounds were too severe, and he lost his life later that night.



By Unknown author – Unknown source, Public Domain,

The Burning of Sligo Railway Station

Darrell Figgis Questions the Minister for Defense

On January 11 1923, Sligo Railway Station, one of the country’s finest at the time, was set alight by Republican forces. They managed to douse it in gasoline under the cover of darkness. It took no time for the inferno to take off. Both the ticket and parcel offices were completely destroyed, causing damage worth £80,000. It was one of many stations wrecked at the time. The railways were being destroyed at such a rapid rate that numerous newspapers at the time coined the phrase “War on the Railways.”

Because Sligo was a garrison town with a large number of army troops on duty, many questions were raised about its station’s destruction. The number of soldiers on duty was greatly exaggerated in the press, which suggested that a garrison of 500 men was present in the town the night of the attack. There were only 70. They were distributed at four locations around the town, one of which was guarding 100 prisoners as well as at least three strategic posts. The matter was brought before the Dail by Darrell Figgis, who questioned the Minister for Defense, Richard Mulcahy:


Irish Weekly and Ulster Examiner 10 February 1923

Freeman’s Journal 20 February 1923

Larne Times 27 January 1923

More Burning of the Big Houses

Moore Hall

During the Civil War, Republican forces revived their campaign to burn down big houses. The campaign was facilitated by the absence of any forces of law and order in the countryside as a result of the withdrawal of the Crown forces in 1922 and the abolition of the RIC, but the elimination of signs of British rule in Ireland was the underlying motivation behind the destruction. The Republicans were also running dangerously low in arms so destruction of property was one of few acts of guerrilla warfare left at their disposal.

The big houses were burned down during the War of Independence as a way for the IRA to assert their authority. However, during the Civil War, many of the mansions abandoned by their owners for fear of attack were taken over by the anti-Treatyites and only destroyed when they were forced to leave when the National Army moved in on them.

Below were a few of many set alight in early 1923:

January 29 The Earl of Mayo’s Dublin residence is set alight by Republicans.

Sir Horace Plunkett’s Art Treasures are Destroyed

1 February: Moore Hall near Claremorris in County Mayo is burned down by Republicans.


Irish Times 6 February 1923

Freeman’s Journal 6 February 1923

Weekly Freeman’s Journal 3 February 1923

Further reading:

Emily’s 70th Anniversary

Seventy years ago today, Emily passed away in St. Mary’s nursing home on Clyde Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin, at the age of 85. Her funeral was held in Glasnevin Cemetery, attended by many of her friends, both old and new. Even though it was a cold and wet November day, the turnout to pay their respects reflected her acclaim. Peadar O’Flaherty, a friend and fellow Republican, delivered her eulogy.

Her obituary appeared in both local and national newspapers, paying tribute to her courage and generosity, as well as her great zest for life:

“An early co-worker with An Craoibhin, she started a Gaelic Summer School in 1912 at Keel, Achill, where she lived for many years. After the Rising she worked for the National Aid, organised Cumann na mBan and was imprisoned. During the Black and Tan period and subsequently, she gave devoted service, succoring men “on the run” to whom her unconquerable spirit and boundless generosity were an inspiration.”

Irish Independent 1905-current, Friday, November 28, 1952; Page: 6

In spite of her final resting place being in the famous Republican Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery, Emily’s grave remained unmarked for six decades. She had no close family member to have a gravestone erected on her grave, and she did not leave any instructions in her will as she died intestate. But in 2012, as a mark of gratitude, the committee of Scoil Acla unveiled one that befitted her character completely. The gravestone contains a stained-glass window inspired by the one, made by artist Wilhellmena Geddes, that she purchased in 1924. It depicts the image of St. Brendan the Navigator, which is installed in Our Lady Queen of the Universe Church in Curran.

On the day of its unveiling, November 24, 2012, 60 years to the date of Emily’s death, the committee of Scoil Acla traveled to Glasnevin Cemetery to honor her. On her newly adorned grave, they left gifts symbolic of her life: a wreath made from Achill heather inscribed O Acla (from Achill), a replica of the one she and the Figgis laid on the grave of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa in 1915, along with her biography by Iosold ni Deirg and a photo of her in her Celtic costume.

Glasnevin Cemetery was founded by Daniel O’Connell (The Liberator)


Irish Independent 1905-current, Friday, November 28, 1952; Page: 6

Mayo News 1893-current, Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Irish Independent 1905-current, Friday, November 28, 1952; Page: 6

Illustrated London News 14 August 1847

Mayo News 1893-current, Tuesday, November 27, 2012