I.R.A. Army Council Archive 1924-5, 1929-31
This is a central file of documents sent to and issued by the IRA’s Chief of Staff, who for much of the period covered was Moss (Maurice) Twomey. The documents were filed (or ‘dumped’) in groups and there is some overlapping of dates. For the periods covered, this file gives a meticulously detailed account of all the IRA’s activities and internal procedures. Outgoing letters and instructions from the Chief of Staff are generally in carbon copy; incoming letters are some times in manuscript and sometimes in typescript. Most letters are signed with initials, if at all, or by military position, but most of the writers can be identified by anyone familiar with the IRA’s personnel. Many are on headed IRA paper. almost all letters are carefully dated whether by the writer or the recipient. There are over 300 documents, extending to over 500 pages. There is a gap between October 1925 and April 1929.
The range of documents is very broad, and the following is intended as no more than an outline guide.
(24.3.1924), 3rd Western Div. to C/s, interesting letter about funds needed to pay legal bills for Jock Leonard, in prison for shooting of D.I. Swanzy in 1920; (3 May 1924) Chief of Staff to O/C. Limerick County, setting up a new Limerick command, with code work; (21 May 1924) O/C. No. 2 Tirconaill Brigade, resigning due to financial circumstances (had been offered a temporary job in Belfast); (25 Sept. 1924) M. Twomey (Inspection Officer) to C/o making recommendations for battalion mobilizations; (Oct. 15 1924) C/S to Comdt. Sean Mc B(ride), ‘ I do not think there will be any pogroms in the North; etc; (24.4.25) Sighle nic Amhlaoibh, Cumann na mBan, to O/C, about volunteers giving evidence in court; (24 April 1929) C/S to ‘H.S.’ concerning a financial dispute with one Fitzgerald. ‘ We are determined that this debt will be discharged by Fitzgerald and are prepared to take very drastic action, if necessary, to compel him to do so.’ ; (2 Aug. 1929). C/S to late Adt. No. 2 Area, Ulster, accepting his resignation (after ‘justified strictures’ on his performance); (April 1929) Letter signed ‘P’, probably Peadar O’Donnell, mentioning India and Nehru, discussing his own need for independence. ‘I had to jump clear of things to follow my own vision, believing that a narrowing deadening insurrectionism is paralysing our revolutionary possibilities.’ With a page of ‘Notes for fraternal delegates to Birmingham Conference.’; (12.8.1929) Adjt. Gen. to ‘L.P.’, seeking details of U.S. ‘Timthire’ (representative) of men who got into USA ‘illegally’ 1918 – 1921, etc; (5 Sept. 1929) ‘J.B.’ (Sean Brady) to Mr. Ambrose, seeking to dissuade him from resigning his position; (9.9.29) R.King to C/S, ‘I regret that owing to feeling completely tired out and in need of rest and change, I am obliged to resign my position of D. Comms. (Director of Communications), with reply urging him to take leave of absence instead; (13.9.29), C/S to O/C South Dublin Battn. re carrying of arms by volunteers; (22.11.1929) O/C Cork No. 1 Brigade to C/s about a man named Barrett whom they are trying to ‘run to earth,’; also an arms capture, ‘not as a result of inside intelligence,’ etc; Sept – Dec. 1929, extended correspondence between C/S and others over poor inspection reports from Ulster No. 1 area, missing dispatches, resignation of O/C, etc; (16.12.29) ‘M.F.,’ I/O No. 2 Area, Britain, angry letter complaining about interference by a man (previously suspended) who has returned claiming to having instructions ‘to collect the remnants of the Army together,’ etc; (18.12.1929), reply from C/S saying the man has no authority from him to act in the matter described, but criticising, ‘the laxity in the organisation over there for some time,’; (6 Jan. 1930) Copy of communication addressed to the British Government, about prisoners in English Gaols, – identifying four men in jail for a bank raid and saying ‘the act … was duly authorised by th Competent Authority here,’ etc., with manuscript list of members of the British Cabinet (to whom presumably it was distributed); (Jan. 25, 1930), ‘An Timthire,’ (New York), news of Luke Dillon’s death, asks for receipt for $1500 cabled recently; (27 Jan 1930) Army Council to Chairman Clan na Gael Executive (USA), detailed 3 page letter seeking to dispel various misunderstanding stating, ‘The Army Council recognises itself as the Supreme National Authority in Ireland’; has power to proclaim itself at anytime a Provisional Government, with powers of war and peace, etc., discussing its relations with the Second Dail etc., also complaining about cutting off of financial support. ‘The situation now and for some months has been very serious.’; and inviting the Clan to send a Representative to Ireland for discussions; with a detailed reply (Jan. 30, 1930) from ‘C’ mentioning an Envoy sent by ‘Sceilg’, who has caused difficulties, etc; (Feb. 1930) More letters about disorganization in Britain; (12.2.30) ‘I am amazed at your report that organisation was let lapse; (17.2.30) C/S to O/C Dublin Brigade, complaining he did not turn up at the meeting place yesterday.
(25.2.30) Ling and interesting letter from ‘your old friend’ (Probably Moss Twomey) to ‘Tom’ (evidently a trusted Republican then based in the USA), explaining the situation at home – ‘Things are quiet normal here, raids, arrests, and journeys to the Bridwell everyday, for most of the lads,’ etc.; emphasising the need for foreign publicity for the I.R.A.; disassociating the Army from ‘the Councils of the Irish Republic,’ being started under the auspices of C(omhairle) na Poblachta; and complaining bitterly that ‘for some unexplained reasons the Clan practically cut off financial supplies since August last .. If they had told us that the money was not available we would be satisfied, but the position is that on the strength of it coming we incurred debts, and borrowed extensively. Now we are in a mess … You can scarcely appreciate the mental torture and uncertainty we have gone through for months past. It has nearly finished me. Indeed I want to close it all, and would have got out, but it would only be leaving others in a hole,’ etc.
(April 1930) Points for Speaker, Easter Sunday in New York, 3pp., with a further page of notes of matters to be raised; (26.4.30) notes on American engagements signed ‘R’, probably in Frank Ryan’s hand; (4.6.30) unsigned 3pp personal letter to ‘An Timthire’ (USA) probably from Moss Twomey, discussing the political situation and relations with De Valera making it clear that Clan people who hope for an arrangement with Dev. are wrong as he is moving towards Free-Staterism, etc; also same date, official Army Council despatch to ‘An Timthire,’; (31.3.31) very detailed 3pp typescript to Chairman, Army Council, from new York, evidently from ‘Timthire’ discussing various issues raised in previous message (lacking last page).
There are also many detailed notes from units around the country concerning appointments, local difficulties, operations, financial matters etc etc. A multiplicity of important letters, notes and documents, as an Archive, w.a.f.
* Taken with the other documents in this sale, these files provide historians with the opportunity for the first time to construct a fully authoritative account of the I.R.A. in the years following the Civil War and before Fianna Fail’s accession to power. (1)