Sean Milroy and the ‘National Group’
A very important group of documents relating to Sean Milroy T.D. for Cavan, his vacating of his seat with other members of the ‘National Group’ after the Army Mutiny in 1924, his disagreements with the Government over the Boundary Commission, 1925, and his renewed candidature for the Cavan seat in two elections (1925 & 1927).
Sean Milroy was a 1916 veteran who played an important part in the struggle for Independence; he was one of those who escaped from Lincoln Jail with Eamon de Valera in 1919. He supported the Treaty with Britain, and represented Cavan in the Free State Dail. In 1924 he was one of a group of T.D.’s associated with Joseph Mc Grath in the ‘National Group’ who resigned their seats on protest at the handling of the so-called ‘Army Mutiny.’ He stood unsuccessfully to regain his seat in a by-election in 1925 and again in 1927.
The collection here includes:
* “Why the National Group Resigned.” Printed statement, 4pp.
* Typescript, 7pp apparently a speech by Milroy replying to allegations by Kevin O’Higgins (Minister for Justice in the Free State Government). Among other interesting matters, this typescript claims that Milroy did not intend to resign his seat in 1924, and that his name was used in a statement of resignation without his approval. With a further typescript (incomplete), 3pp. addressed to ‘Electors of Cavan.’
* Manuscript statement or speech, 6pp., probably in Milroy hand, explaining his opposition to the Government proposal to drop the Treaty clause relating to the Boundary Commission for Ulster. (Milroy finally resigned from Cumann na nGaedheal over this proposal).
* Typescript, 5pp (numbered 1-2,1-3) probably by Milroy, concerning appointment procedures in the Free State Civil Service.
* A typescript sheet with ‘Population Figures for Cavan.’
* Several A.L.s. to Milroy, from supporters in Cavan.
* A large bundle of press cuttings relating to the Cavan Elections, speeches by Milroy and Kevin O”Higgins, etc., with a pamphlet by J.M. O’Sullivan (1923) ‘Phases of Revolution a lecture delivered before the Ard-Chumann of Cumainn na nGaedheal; & other items, The Irish Bulletin (1921), card with political caricature etc.
Overall this is an important collection, which casts some light on one of the murkiest episodes in the early politics of the Irish Free State. As a collection, w.a.f. (1)More details ›
Piaras Beaslai (1881 – 1965)
An important file containing documents collected by him mostly c. 1921-22, and including the following:
* Typescript carbon copy of notice of meeting of General Council of Irish Volunteers dated 28 June, 1915, signed in pen by Bulmer Hobson, Hon. Sec.;
* a typescript copy of the Constitution of Dail Eireann (Second Dail), with pencilled initials in P. Beaslai’s hand of Ministers dated 14/1/20, 2pp;
* cylostyled typescript of Ministerial Motions, Dail Eireann 25 August 1921, 2pp;
* typescript Report of Labour Department, 1921, 4pp., mainly concerning the Belfast Boycott, some shorthand notes on rear of last page (Countess Markievicz was Minister for Labour about this time);
* Department of Foreign Affairs Report, August 10, 1921, issuing by Riobeard O’Breandain, Under Secretary, 7pp, cyclostyled typescript;
* Fiseries Department, Report dated 21-7-’21, issued by Sean Etchingham, 3pp cyclostyled typescript;
* Ministerial Powers (Delegation) Decree, 3pp. typescript cyclostyled, undated (‘During the continuance of the presence War..’);
* Provisional Orders Decree, cyclostyled typescript, 1pp., n.p.
* Oglaigh na hEireann. General Orders. Republican Police Force. Cyclostyled typescript, 2pp, stamped 10 Nov. 1921;
* Oglaigh na hÉireann. Memorandum No. 18. Truce Commission (details of an agreement) dated 4 Nov. 1921, issued by Chief, Staff cyclostyled typescript, 2pp (2 copies);
* Five other Oglaigh na hÉireann circulars, 1921, dealing with drinking by Volunteers, import of munitions during Truce, treatment of British deserters, treatment of members of the police force, levies and collections;
* and a collection of various A.L.s., T.L.s. and circulars to Beaslai, 1920’s, some concerning a visit to New York, March 1922; also some mounted press cuttings.
An important file containing many scarce documents. Beaslai a former journalist, fought in the G.P.O. in 1916 and was an active Volunteer during the War of Independence. He was closely associated with Michael Collins. He was Volunteer Director of Publicity circa 1920/21, when he presumably collected most of these documents. As a coll., w.a.f. (1)More details ›
Francis Phillip & Sinn Fein in Cashel
Francis Phillips of Cashel, Co. Tipperary A very good collection of letters and cards to and from Francis Phillips [1872-1968], a leading Sinn Feiner and public representative from Ladyswell, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, including a group of letters from Belfast Jail 1918-19, where he was imprisoned under the Defence Of The Realm Act, attractively presented in a quarto album in slipcase.
The first Sinn Fein club in Cashel was formed on 14 October 1914, when Francis Phillips was one of five people present. Phillips, who had spent some time in the United States, worked at a local bakery. He was closely associated with Pierce McCan both in Sinn Fein and in the Tipperary Volunteers. The Volunteer unit had prepared to take the field in the Rising in 1916, but their plans were thrown into confusion by MacNeill’s countermanding order. By the time the situation became clear, it was too late for the Tipperary men to do anything useful.
In August 1918 Francis Phillips was arrested after reading the 1916 Proclamation at a mass meeting in Cashel at the request of Sinn Fein President Eamon de Valera. Tried under the Defence Of The Realm Act (DORA), he was sentenced to two years imprisonment, mostly served in Belfast Jail, where his co-prisoners included Ernest Blythe and Austin Stack. After his release he continued his political activities, and after independence was Chairman of Cashel Urban District Council.
The album includes 12 letters from Francis Phillips to members of his family written from Cork and Belfast Jails (1918-19), also letters to Phillips in Belfast Jail, mostly from his sisters May and Becky [Rebecca] with a few from other relatives and friends or from recently released ex-prisoners, mostly with their associated envelopes with stamps and postal markings, some addressed to ‘Francis Phillips, Political Prisoner, Belfast’ and one to ‘Francis Phillips, D.O.R.A., Belfast’ (which seems to have been a sufficient address).
The prison letters have censor’s marks, but only one is significantly amended by the ‘blue pencil’. Although they are cautiously expressed, Phillips’ letters build up a detailed and moving picture of his prison experiences, both the good and the bad. On Oct. 11 1918 he reports receiving visits from members of Cumann na mBan. ‘Many nice young ladies call to see the prisoners. They are eager to aid us in many little ways, but Restrictions prevent them. If I am eager, I can make a nice match here .. Tell Paddy if he got time one day to cycle up to Ballagh .. and get chatting with Seumas Robinson. He was liberated last Monday, he knows me well, he can tell what I am forbidden – comprehend .. We say the Rosary every night in a body – oh, a fine sight, even Earnest Bly[the] a Protestant kneels with us ..’
On 27 November, ‘We here are watching the Election movements closely. The country is really doing all possible that Victory will be ours. You’ve seen some of the names selected which are familiar to you, our body here can boast of some of the ‘members’. I could interest you with a lot of information about them, but if ever the word was true, it is really true here, ‘I must speak with a small mouth’. Our patients are mending, but to tell the truth very many of them are not mending, some are grand today and the reverse tomorrow. There are men here as fine looking physically as I ever laid an eye upon, broken down, staggering, well or ½ well today and back to the bed again tomorrow. And in truth until the poor brave fellows get the home food and the fresh air of the native hills they will not recuperate ..’
There are two fine letters to Francis from his sister May, with much invective against the Irish Party and its local supporters (Cashel was a major garrison town and a stronghold of Redmond’s National Volunteers). ‘Boherlane had a fine meeting Sunday, they made many a Sinn Fein convert .. [The] Thurlesbeg [people] made great commotion, so they were asked to go on the platform & address the people, but sure the slaves could not, oh how could they, the Land League robbers, the moonlighters, sure anything they got, it was got bad. Well the [Irish] Party are still canvassing in Cashel .. Last Sunday two weeks the funeral went out & Francy I am going to tell you their names & be sure you rem[ember] them .. Dr. Wood the little ashy-pet .. Corcoran who works on the roads & Lawrence, the Green, you know the fellow, you used to keep the wind out of his children’s stomachs. Purcell, oh another of the rotten jobbers also, a great catch, a fellow who Pierce McCann brought from Kilkenny, his wife & family, gave him work & food, & I believe the fellow left McCanns in bad name. So the Party had him as a slanderer against McCann .. Paddy Carroll, one you helped to earn a few shillings many a time .. of course the Dean [Ryan, a well-known opponent of Sinn Fein], & Fr. Duggan .. also Pat Moclair, poor bucket of whitewash .. I hope you will be pleased with this letter, & Up McCann every time, I wish I had a vote, your loving sister Mae’ [11.10.1918].
On 15 December she describes a fracas after an Irish Party meeting. ‘Mahon’s gave out plenty of drink to the party rowdys .. Coming on 7 o’clock when it got dark, a great big man living out the Dublin road, a big farmer and a thorough Sinn [Feiner], his name Andy Fogarty, a giant of a man, well he was struck by Danny Darcy the soldier and then the dirty mob came on, all the women with sticks & stones, Jude Hickey, all the Atkins, Molly Murphy[‘s] crowd, hit this man, but let me tell you he bet every one of them right & left, soldiers and all .. Then Francie the Hickeys Atkins & all their women watched for Christy Loobey & gave him an awful beating .. Willie came out when he heard Christie’s voice .. they landed poor Willie a blow & a kick and knocked him senseless – none of our Volunteers was about, as the mob knew ..’
There are also letters to Phillips after his release in 1919, from friends and comrades in Cashel and elsewhere. In August 1921, during the Truce, ‘Your old friend Matt’ writes from Dublin: ‘As regards the attitude of certain people towards the Sinn Fein movement I am not a bit surprised, some of them want peace at any cost or conditions regardless, they don’t mind whether it is Home Rule or Foreign Rule so long as they get peace, but I can tell you we will not have Home or Foreign Rule, nothing but a Republic. What men have suffered and died for we won’t go back of now. I think [the] fight will come on again but I would sooner fight and die than accept a poor settlement, I know you would be the same ..’
The album also includes Francis Phillips’ memorial card, an early letter from his time in the United States (1893), a good selection of newspaper cuttings and transcripts, two Sinn Fein Christmas cards (circa 1920), and a memorial card for Austin Stack (1929), whom Phillips met during his time in Belfast Jail. Many of Phillips’ letters and their envelopes, including one dated 1903, include references to ‘Lenox men’ or ‘Lenox Club’. The term is a mystery to us, but evidently refers to active separatists (possibly the name of a hall where they met?).
Overall, a highly imporatant Archive. The album presents a vivid portrayal of a strongly Republican family in Cashel, their opinions and activities and those of their friends and comrades, during stirring and difficult times. As an Archive, w.a.f. (1)More details ›
Terence Mac Swiney
Typescript recollections of Terance Mac Swiney by Mrs. M. Buckley, 9 folio pp., in a card folder.
* Mrs. Buckley knew Terence Mac Swiney from the days of his earliest political involvement in the Cork Celtic Literary Society: she was also a member of Inghinidhe na hÉireann. Includes interesting details of O’Donovan Rossa’s return to Ireland, the Irish Volunteers, the 1916 Rising in Cork etc. As a typescript, w.a.f. Scarce. (1)More details ›
Douglas Hyde [An Craoibhín], President of Ireland
Autograph signed letter on Presidential notepaper, dated Aug. 2 ’38, to Mr. [R.W.] Lyon [of Talbot Press], thanking him for six copies of his biography [by Diarmuid Coffey] and the promise of a specially bound copy, and noting that ‘I think Mr. Coffey did his work excellently’.
Douglas Hyde became first President of Ireland on 25 June 1938, about five weeks before the date of this letter.
With a postcard to same recipient from Elizabeth Young [sister of Ella Young] relating to a copyright matter, and two similar items.More details ›
Dan Breen TD
An interesting ALS on Dail notepaper dated 27.10.’44, 6 pp, to Manager, Talbot Press, discussing possible publication of further sections of his memoirs. ‘I have a lot of stuff written up but I don’t fancy publishing it for the present. I am at present doing a life of my comrade Sean Treacy and I have gone part of the road on a life of Dinny Lac[e]y. I have also written up my early life and I give the stories of the old people that I knew 40 years ago. I have also written up some of my life from the end of the Black and Tan War (including the Civil War) and my experiences in the States .. I may not publish any of it while I am alive ..’ With an earlier 1-page ALS dated 5.6.44, saying ‘I have another book ready, are you interested?’
Dan Breen (1894-1969) helped to organise the Irish Volunteers in Tipperary after the 1916 Rising with his friends Sean Treacy and Dinny Lacey. He took part in the ambush at Soloheadbeg in January 1919 which marked the resumption of armed resistance to British rule. He was later a Fianna Fail TD for many years. His memoir ‘My Fight for Irish Freedom’ was published in 1924. It would be interesting to know if the further material mentioned here has survived. (2)More details ›
A Consular Letter from Roger Casement 1901
A good autograph manuscript letter signed from Roger Casement at her Majesty’s Consulate in the Congo Independent State at Boma, 8 January 1901, to the Governor of the Gold Coast Colony, concerning delivery of papers from the estate of a deceased carpenter, one Bennott Agen or Hagan, 2 pp (single folded sheet), with a good signature, with endorsements in red in another hand, extensively stained to one side.
Casement joined the British consular service in the Congo in 1892. His first report on the mistreatment of native workers by the Belgian administration there was issued in 1904. Consular documents in his hand are rare.More details ›
[General] Emmett Dalton
A two page ALS on Dolphin Hotel notepaper to his friend Charlie [Cashin], dated 22 May 41, asking for the loan of ten pounds until 6 June next ‘when I receive my commission account’. With a cancelled cheque from Cashin for the requested sum, made out to Dalton and countersigned by him at rear.
Emmet Dalton, a British officer in France, later joined the IRA and became its Assistant Director of Training. A friend of Michael Collins, he accompanied Collins to the Treaty talks in London. He supported the Treaty, and became Director of Military Operations for the Free State. He was with Collins on the fateful journey through Cork where Collins met his death at Beal na Blath. He later became a film producer.More details ›
Maud Gonne MacBride
A two page ALS (single sheet) on headed notepaper of Womens Prisoners Defence League, undated, recipient unnamed, discussing arrangements to provide a speaker for a meeting. With a good signature (as Secretary W.P.D.L.)
With two pages of manuscript minutes of Indian Irish Independence League, Jan.-Feb. 1936, Madame MacBride in the Chair (the minutes not in her hand). Single sheet of lined paper, unsigned. (2)More details ›
P.H. Pearse / Padraic Mac Piarais
A paid cheque for £10.0.0 payable to P.H. Pearse, Royal Bank of Ireland, Terenure, dated 25th Aug. 1913, signed by Padraic Mac Piarais, countersigned rear by P.H. Pearse.
Three good signatures (one pierced by cancellation) in two languages.More details ›
The Phoenix Park Murders
“Lines written on the condemned men for the Phoenix Park Murders”,
a hand-bill (probably unrecorded) with accusations of betrayal, with woodcut portrait and within a woodcut border.
370mm x 135mm
Will pencilled inscriptions “ugly vulgar poetry and a number wrote it. Bought at the Hall door as he cried some nonsense.” “this was bought at the hall door as it was cried through the streets.”
Soiled, with hole not affecting text, this can be dated prior to the executions. Given the sentiments of the purchaser and the fragile ephemeral nature of the production (naturally no printer has put a name to it) this is a remarkable survival.More details ›
Eamon de Valera
A good ALS, 2pp (single sheet) on headed Fianna Fail notepaper dated 25.3.31, to ‘Father Matt’, concerning an application for employment with the Irish Press on behalf of one Willie Quinlan.
A friendly but careful letter, advising how Quinlan should forward his appliction, and stating that appointments are made ‘by the Board of Directors on the recommendations of the heads of Departments.. All I can promise is that if Mr. Quinlan applies his application will on your recommendation receive the most careful consideration’.
With a good signature.More details ›
Sean Mac Diarmada [1884-1916], Signatory of the 1916 Proclamation
An autograph signed letter on headed ‘Irish Freedom’ notepaper, dated 10.10.1913, thanking the recipient [Larry Lardner of Co. Galway] for ‘six pounds subscriptions received’. ‘I thought there were more districts that promised to subscribe, if you can get any of them I’d be very thankful.’ With a good signature.
‘Irish Freedom’ was the IRB weekly established in 1910 by the group around Tom Clarke to drum up support for a Rising; Sean Mac Diarmada was its manager. His signature is scarce.More details ›
Roger Casement – Original Unpublished Typescript Biography (1965)
An important collection of tapes and documents assembled by Casement biographer Dr. Roger Sawyer, including the only extant copy of an unpublished second work on Casement by Peter Singleton-Gates, ‘Casement: A Summing Up’ approx. 245pp., with Singleton-Gates’ manuscript corrections. With a covering letter from Singleton-Gates to Sawyer, March 1972, explaining that he was unable to publish because permission to quote from Casement’s diaries was withheld.
Also with a signed photograph of Singleton-Gates, a collection of tape recordings said to contain interviews conducted by Dr. Sawyer with Sir John Rothenstein, William Charles Allison and Peter Singleton-Gates (two cassettes), and some related documents.
1. Tape recorded interview with the man who first revealed and then published the Black Diaries: Peter Singleton-Gates. His account of his confrontation with the Home Secretary Sir Williams Joynson-Hicks in the presence of Sir Ernley Blackwell, Legal Adviser to the Home Office, should be of interest. Also the mysterious warning he received that the proceedings would be secretly recorded. Other individuals involved: Sir Wyndham Childs, head of C.I.D. and the Earl of Birkenhead (F.E. Smith).
2. Tape recorded interview (on side 2 of same tape) with William Charles Allison, whose family firm, W.J. Allison and Co., equipped, and stored belongings for, missionaries and similar individuals. Herbert O. Mackey alleged that the firm stored some 25 diaries and ledgers for Roger Casement.
Allison gave his impressions of Casement, based on a twelve year acquaintanceship; he then mentioned contemporary missionaries: E.W. Stannard, the Rev. T. Hope-Morgan also the Rev. (later Sir John) Harris – who examined the diaries on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He recalled generous gifts made to him by RDC and how he had had to rebuke him for smoking in the warehouse. RDC always demanded that his supplies be of Irish manufacture. In response to a statement by Mackey that the diaries ‘were all seized at Allison’s in 1916,’ he said, ‘Yes, of course, that wasn’t … They seized everything that they were given but … ‘ – the rest of the sentence was lost in knowing chuckles.
3. Brief interview with Sir John Rothenstein, formerly Director of the Tate Gallery. When his father, William, was painting a portrait of the two Amerindian Slaves bought (and freed) the young John was supposed to ‘entertain’ them between sittings. His impression of the ‘Indians’: “I remember feathers and a few clothes and not very much else.” And of Casement himself: “an extraordinarily dignified presence …. Like most people who had the privilege of meeting him he seemed such a very dignified, delightful man of general goodwill… to me the end of his life came as an appalling shock.” Casement had brought the Indians from the Putumayo to London for the purposes of anti-slavery propaganda (as described in accompanying photo-copy of article ‘Bought out of Bondage’).
* A most important collection for all with an interest in establishing the truth about Roger Casement. Singleton-Gates’ first book, ‘The Black Diaries of Roger Casement’ (1959), includes extracts from the diaries in some editions, but he was unable to obtain clearance to publish his second work.
The copy offered here is the sole surviving copy.
* No guarantee is offered in respect of the Tape Recordings. (a lot)More details ›
Exceptionally Rare Periodical
Sean South (Died 1957) Gath, Iml. 1 Uimh 1 (Aibrean 1956) & 2 Deireadh Fomhair 1956). Vol. I Nos. 1 & 2 [All Published] Cyclostyled periodicals with colour printed covers, folio & oblong folio with illus., ptd. wrappers. Exceptionally Rare.
* These two issues were edited and published by Sean South (Sabhat), the Limerick man who died during the I.R.A. Border Campaign of 1956-7. He took part in an attack on Brookeborough R.U.C. Barracks, Co. Fermanagh on New Years Eve, and was killed with Fergal O’Hanlon; thousand of people took part in his funeral in Limerick. He is immortalized in the ballad ‘Sean Sabhat of Garryowen.’
He was an enthusiast for the Irish language; his periodical ‘Gath’ is entirely in Irish. it is believed that only about 20-30 copies of each issue was published and surviving sets are of the greatest rarity. This lot is offered with Mainchin Seoighe’s biography in Irish ‘Maraiodh Sean Sabhat Areir,’ 1964 (the expurgated edition), with some material removed at the request of An Club Leabhar), and Des Fogarty’s biography in English, Sean South of Garryowen, 2006. As a collection. (1)More details ›
‘The Republican Forces everywhere are fighting with splendid gallantry ..’
Irish War News. The Irish Republic. Vol. 1 no. 1, Dublin, Tuesday April 25 1916 [second day of the Rising]. Small quarto, 4 pp (single folded sheet).
A superb copy of this scarce and fragile item, printed on the lightest of newsprint, with a few small marks but no tearing, certainly the best copy we have seen.
The only publication known to have been printed during the Rising in the area of central Dublin controlled by the rebels, in a commandeered printworks at Halston Street. The material in pages 1-3 was probably prepared in advance, but the ‘Stop Press’ column on page 4 headed ‘The Irish Republic’ could not have been written before Tuesday morning, since the information included there could not have been reliably anticipated.
Written by Pearse while under fire in the GPO, it gives details (mainly accurate) of the fighting to date. ‘At the moment of writing this report (9.30 a.m. Tuesday) the Republican forces hold all their positions and the British forces have nowhere broken through. There has been heavy and continuous fighting for nearly 24 hours, the casualties of the enemy being much more numerous than those of the Republican side. The Republican forces everywhere are fighting with splendid gallantry ..’
This is Pearse’s last publication, and his last composition apart from the surrender documents and his farewell letters. Surviving copies are often in poor condition, torn, frayed or soiled; the present copy is altogether exceptional.More details ›
The Proclamation of the Irish Republic: Rory O’Connor’s copy (executed 1922)
Poblacht na hEireann: The Provisional Government of the Irish Republic to the People of Ireland.
Irishmen and Irishwomen:
In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom .. ‘
An original copy of the Proclamation of Independence, printed at Liberty Hall in the afternoon and evening of Easter Sunday 1916, and read on the steps of the General Post Office by P.H. Pearse on Easter Monday to mark the start of the Rising.
Printed on poorish quality paper, somewhat browned as usual. Dimensions of paper approx. 29 ¾ x 19 ¾ ins, probably very slightly trimmed at top and left margin (the paper is usually 30 x 20 ins). Length of printed line 18 ¼ inches, precisely as found by Bouch in his bibliographical study, height of printed surface just under 29 inches (within the tolerance established by Bouch). With the typographical peculiarities found by Bouch in vouched original copies, and without those which identify later printings; undoubtedly an original copy of the Easter 1916 printing.
This copy formerly the property of Rory O’Connor, a member of the GPO garrison of 1916 and the Four Courts garrison of 1922, held in his family by unbroken descent since his execution by order of the Free State Government on 8 December 1922 with his comrades Liam Mellows, Dick Barrett and Joe McKelvey, held in custody since their surrender with the Four Courts garrison in late June.
The 1916 Proclamation remains a rare document. No more than 40-50 original copies are known, of which most are now in institutional collections. We are aware of only two other copies with a provenance linking them reliably to persons who were in the GPO garrison during the Rising. Members of the garrison had no facilities to preserve or conceal so large and vulnerable a document, and when the Rising ended most of the participants were taken directly to prison and thence to English jails, where many of them remained for a year or more. Nevertheless, a very few did succeed in retaining or acquiring copies, of which this is one.
Rory O’Connor was born in Dublin in 1883 and educated at University College Dublin, where he qualified as an engineer. Between 1911 and 1915 he worked in Canada as a railway engineer, then returned to Ireland at the request of the IRB and became an engineer with Dublin Corporation. During the Easter Rising he fought in the GPO and was wounded; afterwards he was interned in England. On his release he remained an active Volunteer; in 1917 he sat on a committee with Arthur Griffith which determined the future aims of the independence movement, and successfully urged a full Republican programme. He was IRA Director of Engineering during the War of Independence, working closely with Michael Collins. In 1921, during the Truce, he was best man at the wedding of Kevin O’Higgins – an ironic conjunction in view of later events.
In spite of these friendships he rejected the Treaty with England, and became Chairman of an anti-Treaty Military Council in January 1922. The IRA separated into pro- and anti-Treaty factions, but most of its leaders were reluctant to provoke an open conflict. Early in March, when Ernie O’Malley sought authorisation to attack Free State forces in Limerick, O’Connor declined to approve an attack. A few weeks later the Provisional Government cancelled plans for an IRA Convention, fearing an anti-Treaty majority. The Military Council held the banned Convention anyway, and Rory O’Connor told pressmen they no longer accepted the authority of Dail Eireann. Liam Lynch became Chief of Staff, with O’Connor as QMG.
On April 13 the new Army Council decided to establish a Republican military HQ in Dublin. Rory O’Connor was ordered to take over the Four Courts building with a garrison from the Dublin Brigade, and did so without opposition. For the next two months Lynch and O’Connor showed no further inclination to challenge the Provisional Government in open conflict, and there were continuing efforts to find a basis on which the breach could be healed.
But there were dangerous confrontations in other places, and in late June the situation came to a head, with the detention by Republicans of the Free State General ‘Ginger’ O’Connell and the assassination of Sir Henry Wilson in London. In the early hours of June 28th, O’Connor received an ultimatum from a Free State officer to surrender within 20 minutes or face artillery assault. O’Connor decided to defend his position. The well-known series of ‘Stop Press’ posters chronicles the garrison’s resistance, but within days the buildings were set ablaze by heavy guns borrowed from the British, and a gigantic explosion destroyed centuries of public records. On Friday 30 June O’Connor ordered his men to dump their arms and march out under a flag of truce. A few men slipped away, but the majority were taken into custody and held in jail while the Civil War unfolded across the country.
An ominous series of events sharpened and embittered the conflict, beginning in August with the deaths of Griffith and Collins, one by natural causes brought on by intense strain, the other in a roadside skirmish. Their surviving colleagues introduced a Bill in late September providing for military courts with powers of summary execution of those taken in arms. Characterising this measure as a ‘Murder Bill’, Republicans issued a death-list of those who voted for it, to be shot on sight. On 7 December two Government TDs were shot while walking to the Dail. Sean Hales, brother of an anti-Treaty commander, was shot dead; Padraic O Maille, deputy speaker of the Dail, was wounded.
Interpreting this as an attack on democracy itself, the Government put aside all legal restraint. By unanimous decision of the Cabinet, four prominent Republicans in Free State custody, one from each province, were woken in their prison cells and told they would be shot at dawn. There was no legal process and no credible legal justification, unless it be that necessity knows no law. All four had been in custody since their surrender, long before passage of the Bill authorising summary trial and execution. They were given no right of hearing or appeal, no opportunity to conform or recant, just the services of a priest and a few hours to write their farewell letters. The four were Rory O’Connor from Dublin, Liam Mellows from Galway, Dick Barrett from Cork and Joe McKelvey from Donegal. The order was signed by the Minister for Justice, Kevin O’Higgins, who had asked O’Connor only a year previously to stand with him as his best man.
A little over six years after he gave his allegiance to the Proclamation here offered for sale, a little short of his fortieth birthday, Rory O’Connor was shot dead by a firing squad at the order of former comrades who had pledged the same allegiance. The shootings achieved their purpose – for the time being there were no further attacks on TDs going about their business – but at a cost, marking the reputation and authority of the Free State and its government with a deep stain, which the years have not yet entirely washed away.
Rory O’Connor lost his life through his fidelity to the principles of the 1916 Proclamation as he understood them. We are privileged now to offer his personal copy of this historic document.
Provenance: Family of Rory O’Connor, by unbroken descent.More details ›
An important collection of fourteen charcoal portraits of prominent Fianna Fail politicians from the period 1974-78, all signed by the artist and almost all signed by the sitters.
48 X 38cms
1. Charles J. Haughey (1925-2006)
Charles Haughey was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1957, and served as Minister for Justice (1961-1964); Minister for Agriculture (1964-1966); Minister for Finance (1966-1970) and Minister for Health & Social Welfare (1977-1979).
He served three terms as Taoiseach: December 1979 to June 1981, March 1982 to December 1982 and March 1987 to February 1992. ( Not signed by sitter)
2. John P. Wilson (1923-2007)
John Wilson was first elected as a TD in 1973 and served in Dáil Éireann until 1992. Wilson served as Minister for Education, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, Minister for Tourism and Transport and was appointed Tánaiste by Charles Haughey, serving in that post between November 1990 and his retirement in January 1993.
3. Thomas Lincoln Mullins (1904-1978)
Thomas Mullins was first elected to Dáil Éireann as TD for the Cork West constituency at the June 1927 general election and was re-elected at the September 1927 general election. He didn’t contest the 1932 election and pursued a career as a journalist. In 1957 the then Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera nominated him to the 9th Seanad where he served until 1973, being Leader of the House from 1961 ’til 1973.
4. Brian P. Lenihan (1930-1995)
Lenihan contested his first general election, unsuccessfully, in 1954 and was appointed to Seanad Éireann in 1957 by Taoiseach Éamon de Valera.
In 1961 he was elected TD for the Roscommon-Leitrim constituency. In his long and varied career in the Dáil he served as Minister for Justice, Minister for Education, Minister for Transport and Power, Minister for Defence, Minister for Foreign Affairs on three occasions and was Tánaiste in the late 1980’s under C.J. Haughey.
5. Sylvester Barrett (1926-2002)
Sylvester Barrett was born in Darragh, near Ennis, County Clare, his father having been a founder member of the Fianna Fail party. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann on 14 March 1968 at the Clare by-election in the Clare constituency. After Fianna Fáil’s landslide victory at the 1977 general election as Minister for the Environment. He served as Minister for Defence from 1980 -1982 and retired from politics in 1989.
6. Neil T. Blaney (1922-1995)
The eldest of a family of eleven, Neil Blaney’s father, Neal had been a commander of the Old IRA in Donegal during the War of Independence and the Civil War. Neil Blaney was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1948 as a Fianna Fáil TD representing Donegal East. He served as Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries; Minister for Local Government and Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. Blaney was expelled from the Fianna Fail party by Jack Lynch in 1972 for ‘Conduct unbecoming’ but contested all subsequent elections for Independent Fianna Fail and held his seat until his death in 1995.
7. Patrick John Hillery (1923-2008)
First elected at the 1951 general election as a Fianna Fáil TD for Clare, he remained in Dáil Éireann until 1973. During this time he served as Minister for Education (1959-1965), Minister for Industry & Commerce (1965-1966), Minister for Labour (1966-1969) and Minister for Foreign Affairs (1969-1973). In 1973 he was appointed Ireland’s first European Commissioner, with the Social Affairs portfolio, until 1976 when he became 6th President of Ireland. He served two terms in the presidency being succeeded by Mary Robinson in 1990.
8. Vivion de Valera (1910 -1982)
He was the eldest child of the former Taoiseach and President, Éamon de Valera and Sinéad de Valera. He was called to the Bar in 1937 and served with the Irish army during the ‘Emergency’, retiring in 1945 with the rank of Major. He was elected as a Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin North West and served in Dáil Éireann until 1981. He was also managing director of the Irish Press Ltd from 1959 until 1981.
9. Seán MacEntee (1889-1984)
In a career that spanned over forty years as a Fianna Fáil TD, MacEntee was one of the most important figures in post-independence Ireland. He served in the governments of Éamon de Valera and Seán Lemass in a range of ministerial positions, including Finance, Industry & Commerce and Health. He was a member of every Fianna Fail cabinet from 1932 to April 1965.
10. Seán Flanagan (1922 -1993)
Séan Flanagan played senior Gaelic football for Mayo. He captained the All-Ireland final winning sides of 1950 and 1951 and won five Connacht senior championship medals in all. He also won two National Football League titles in 1949 and 1954. While still a footballer, Flanagan entered into a career in politics. He was elected a Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo East at the 1951 General Election. He served as Minister for Health and Minister for Lands under Taoiseach Jack Lynch. He retained his seat at each subsequent election until he lost his seat in 1977. However he was elected to the European Parliament in 1979 and again in 1984 before retiring from politics in 1989.
11. Robert ‘Bobby’ Molloy (b.1936)
Bobby Molloy was first elected to Dáil Éireann in the 1965 General Election for the Galway West constituency. In 1968 he was also elected Mayor of Galway. In 1969 he was appointed to the Cabinet as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education. From 1970 to 1973 he served as Minister for Local Government. When Fianna Fáil returned to power in 1977 he became Minister for Defence in the final government of Jack Lynch. In 1986 Molloy resigned from Fianna Fáil and joined the newly formed Progressive Democrats. In 1989 the party entered into coalition with Fianna Fáil, with Molloy becoming Minister for Energy. Following the 1997 General Election Molloy helped in the negotiations for forming the coalition government between the PDs and Fianna Fáil. On that occasion he became Minister of State at the Department of the Environment. He retired from politics in 2002.
12. Patrick ‘Paddy’ Smith (1901-1982)
Born in Cootehill, County Cavan, Paddy Smith was involved in the 1916 Easter Rising and later in the Old IRA, during the War of Independence. An opponent of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922, Smith was first elected to the Dáil in the 1923 general election at age 22 as a Republican TD for the Cavan constituency. He was also a founder-member of the Fianna Fáil political party in 1926. During his time as TD he served in the Cabinets of Éamon de Valera and Seán Lemass. He resigned from the government as Minister for Agriculture in 1964 in protest at the government’s response to certain farming issues. He held the distinction of being the longest-serving member of Dáil Éireann, having been a member for almost 54 years. Smith retired from politics at the 1977 general election at the age of 76.
13. Seán Lemass (1899 – 1971)
A veteran of the 1916 Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War, Lemass was first elected as a Sinn Féin TD for the Dublin South constituency in a by-election on 18 November 1924 and was returned at each election until the constituency was abolished in 1948, when he was re-elected for Dublin South Central until his retirement in 1969. He was a founder-member of Fianna Fáil in 1926, and served as Minister for Industry and Commerce, Minister for Supplies, and Tánaiste in successive Fianna Fáil governments. He served as Taoiseach between June 1959 and November 1966 and was regarded by many in Fianna Fáil as the finest Taoiseach in the history of the Irish state and as “the architect of modern Ireland.”
14. Joseph Brennan (1912 – 1980)
Joe Brennan was elected as a Fianna Fáil TD for the Donegal West constituency at the 1951 general election and was re-elected at each election until his death. As constituency boundaries were changed, he represented Donegal South West from 1961-1969, Donegal-Leitrim from 1969-1977, and Donegal from 1977-1981. Brennan joined the Cabinet of Sean Lemass in 1965 when he became Minister for Posts & Telegraphs.
The following year he became Minister for Social Welfare. Following the 1969 general election he became Minister for Labour. In the wake of the Arms Crisis in 1970 he also took on the Social Welfare portfolio. In 1977 Brennan became Ceann Comhairle, a position he held until his death in 1980.
Provenance: Abbeville, KinsealyMore details ›
Eamonn O’Doherty (b.1939)
Bronze, 90cm high including base
Signed, dated ’98 numbered 1/6More details ›
Rory Breslin (b.1963)
Bronze, 41cm high
Signed, dated 2001 and numbered 2/6
Michael Davitt, a journalist and social campaigner, is best known for his involvement in the Land Acts, particularly the Land Acts of 1870, 1881 and the Ashbourn Act of 1885. A founding member of the Irish National Land League, Davitt was born in Straide, Co. Mayo. The family was evicted from their home due to arrears and entered a workhouse, however on discovering that boys over the age of three would be separated from their mothers they decided to move to England and settled in the Irish immigrant community at Haslington. Michael Davitt grew up with strong Nationalist sentiments and joined the IRB in 1865, climbing to the rank of organising secretary for Northern England and Scotland, a role that largely involved smuggling arms into Ireland. In 1870 Davitt was arrested and convicted of felony treason and sentenced to 15 years penal servitude in solitary confinement, of which he served over 7 years. On his release Davitt rejoined the IRB and moved to Ireland where he used non-violent means such as non-payment campaigns to force landlords to reduce rents. As well as being instrumental in the Irish Land Acts, Davitt has been regarded as a founding member of the British Labour Party because of his active socialist inclinations and belief that support from the British working class could help Ireland achieve Independence.
Mayo based sculptor Rory Breslin originally studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and went on to work in stone workshops in Wicklow and further afield in Carrera, Italy. Breslin went on to bronze foundries in France, Czech Republic and Slovakia, and on his return to Dublin he founded ‘Head Sculpture Galleries’ and later co-founded the Callow Bronze Foundry in Mayo. Breslin has a significant place in Irish sculpture. He has had numerous solo exhibitions and receives regular public sculpture commissions as well as having lectured at the National College of Ireland and organised major sculpture exhibitions.
This head of Michael Davitt is one of six that Breslin cast from his full size figure outside the Michael Davitt Museum in Straide, Co. Mayo. The full figure is featured on the Museum’s postcards.More details ›