The Founding of ‘Saor Eire’
O’Donnell (Peadar) 1893 – 1986. An important collection of letters and documents exchanged between Peadar O’Donnell and the IRA Chief of Staff, Moss Twomey, 1930 – 31, discussing the establishment of the group founded in 1931 as ‘Saor Eire’ by O’Connell, George Gilmore, and Frank Ryan, and loosely connected with the IRA.
Included a long autograph letter to Twomey from O’Donnell received 5.1.30, explaining the object and programme of the new organisation; a typescript copy of same letter (presumably for circulation to others); an unsigned manuscript document in O’Donnell’s hand beginning ‘Travelling different road we arrive at the same points; Conditions are ripe for another efford; and organisation is not abreast of conditions’; typescript copies of letters from Twomey to O’Donnell dated 1st & 4 Aug. 1930, and 2 January 1931, expressing the IRA Army Council’s views with some caution. ‘We are all agreed that it is our duty to throw in our support behind those in the country who are suffering injustice and oppression, and that we should be in the fore front in fostering and leading the spirit of revolt. But how this can be effectively applied in the hope of leading to success is the big difficulty …. . To create a movement or a party which would go only as far as gingering up another party would not be worth while from our point of view'(1.8.30). ‘They (the IRA country members) state that everybody hostile to the present Government in the Free State has his eye on Fianna Fail as a substitute …. . They believe it would be almost impossible to get people in the circumstances to take up a revolutionary programme.’ The letter of 2 Jan. 1931 indicates that the Army Council is prepared to support O’Donnell’s proposals, but feels that in order to ensure effective co-ordination he must become a member of the Army Council.
Also with a few earlier documents concerning the IRA’s attitude towards the Donegal Annuities Agitation, with which O’Donnell was connected, etc. etc. As a coll. of manuscript letters, w.a.f.
* A most interesting collection ‘Saor Eire’ was in fact launched, but was almost immediately condemned by the Catholic Hierarchy and never got off the ground. In 1934 O’Donnell and Gilmore tried again with the ‘Republican Congress’ but were again unsuccessful. (1)