Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Childhood Friends

Every now and then I lose the impetus to continue researching my family history, and then something special happens to give me a huge gee-up. Recently I wrote a little piece about an interesting discovery that I had made in the course of researching my grandfather, Frank Carney. I had found a tiny entry in the Derry Journal of November 4th 1940 and it revealed that my grandfather had a childhood friend, E.V. O’Carroll, and that they were inseparable.1

At first I had difficulty finding out much about Major General E.V. O’Carroll, it even took me some time to discover his full name. Eventually I put the information I had up on my blog, and thanks to the wonderful times that we live in, the son of Eamon Vincent O’Carroll saw the post and he has been in touch.

His father, Major General O'Carroll, passed away in 1941, only a couple of months after his retirement from the Irish Army.  His son was a very young child at this time, and he too has very little information on this hero of the Irish War of Independence. Now we share this one precious personal snippet from their early lives, that Frank Carney and Eamon O’Carroll were the best of friends in their secondary school in Enniskillen until they both left there in 1913.

Eamon O’Carroll’s son and I live continents apart, but both of us find ourselves sharing the same emotions at this meeting of the descendants of those two school chums from so long ago. Somehow we have touched their lives, they have become more real, and, for just this moment, we are as close as they once were.

E.V. O'Carroll

E.V. O'Carroll



1 The original blog post is - The Connection to the Bureau of Military History

Thanks to Tara O'Carroll, granddaughter of E.V. O'Carroll for passing on these two beautiful pictures.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Hunger Strike in Belfast Jail

Frank Carney's arrest appears on a page in the Freeman's Journal, and on that single page there is a snapshot of the escalating drama in the War of Independence.  It is all there on page 5 of the issue dated Tuesday, March 30th 1920, the everyday heroics and tragedies in the fight for Irish freedom.

The Freeman's Journal, Tuesday
March 30th 1920, page
There is a report on the inquest that is taking place in Cork. The Lord Mayor, Tomás Mac Curtain, was murdered in his own home in front of his wife and son, by men with blackened faces. The beleaguered policemen are taking the law into their own hands, and in this case they were retaliating for the death of one of their own colleagues.1

There are more murders by policemen reported on this page, two IRA men shot in their homes. All of these are in the wake of sustained attacks on police barracks and policemen throughout the southern counties. What the Fremman's Journal does not yet report is that the force that became known as 'the Black and Tans', the most vicious of all the British Police forces, begins to arrive in Ireland this same week, on March 25th 1920. 

Ireland is out of control. Another article on this same page illustrates just how bad it has become. Here we are told that General Shaw, Commander-in-Chief of the British forces, is being recalled to London.  He is to be replaced by General MacCready, who is to ‘strengthen the administration of the law in Ireland’.

The Freeman's Journal, Tuesday March 30th 1920
“As if by way of a parting shot from General Shaw,” the Freeman’s Journal goes on to report, “there has been accelerated activity by military raiders during the last couple of days, and arrests have been made in the provinces of Ulster, Munster and Leinster.”  

The Freeman's Jounal gives some dramatic reports of those who were arrested in this round-up but Frank Carney's entry is a simple statement announcing the arrest of Mr Francis Carney U.D.C. Enniskillen. 

This mention of Frank in the Freeman’s Journal on March 30th begins a sequence in which we can trace his activities from March through to early May 1920:

Monday March 21 – Carney House Raided

Frank Carney’s house, 18 Abbey Street, Enniskillen where he lives with his mother and father, is raided and searched by members of the RIC. It is not known what is found, but Frank is not arrested. (Reported in the Freeman’s Jounal, Tuesday 30th March 1920)

Saturday March 27 – Frank Carney Arrested

An IRA Captain who served under Frank Carney tells us in his Bureau of Military History testimony:

 “Early in 1920 plans were being laid to burn vacated Police barracks and Income Tax offices. Each Battalion Area had its work set out for them. Before these plans matured Mr. Carney was arrested.”2 

The Freeman's Journal, 
Tuesday 30th March 1920
Frank is arrested in Enniskillen on March 27th and he is transported to Derry Jail.

In the Derry Journal of April 2nd we learn that these prisoners arrived in the city under military and police escort, and they were conveyed by 'motor lorries' to the prison.
"Along the route to the jail, the prisoners sang 'The Soldiers Song' and other Republican songs. At the entrance to the prison they were cheered by sympathisers."

We read in this same ariticle there is now pandemonium in Derry Jail, with over 80 Republican prisoners there, and 'normal prisoners' being moved on to Sligo. In Belfast, people are arriving to the Jail from all over Ireland;
"Two destroyers arrived in Belfast Lough from Queenstown with 38 political prisoners."

Mountjoy prison in Dublin is full, and the prisoners there are protesting at their treatment. The Derry Journal reports that a large number of them are permanently in handcuffs.

Tuesday April 20 – Move to Belfast Jail

Derry Journal, 21st April 1920
After three weeks in Derry Jail, Commandant Frank Carney is taken by train to from Derry to Belfast Jail. He is in a group of prisoners from Tyrone, Donegal, Fermanagh and Derry who are moved to Belfast’s Crumlin Road Jail under heavy military escort. This Jail is totally controlled by the military at this time.

Monday April 26 - Hunger Strike Begins

Six days after Frank's arrival in Belfast Jail, the prisoners decide to go on hunger strike;

“The prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs and Mountjoy went on hunger-strike about this time, and strong appeals were being made by some of the Belfast prisoners to join them. General O'Duffy (Eoin O’Duffy) was in charge  of the prisoners. A general meeting was held and it was unanimously decided to go on hunger-strike."  (James McKenna in his Bureau of Military History statement)

Anglo-Celt, April 30 1920
Eoin O'Duffy was arrested in Omagh in late April and is now leading the Ulster and Connacht prisoners in the jail. The prisoners are demanding their immediate release, and they advertise this in newspapers nationwide;

“On behalf of 145 uncharged and untried men in Belfast Prison, we demand immediate and unconditional release. Failing this, we go on hunger strike on Monday 26th April, 1920. Signed on behalf of the prisoners, Dan Healy Commandant; Owen O’Duffy, Ulster and Connaght; Philip Lennon, Leinster; Thomas Clifford, Munster. – Prison Council”(Anglo-Celt, Friday April 30th 1920)

Along with his comrades, Frank Carney goes on hunger strike on April 26th.

Friday May 1 1920 - Frank Carney Rushed to Hospital

After just a few days on hunger strike, Frank Carney becomes seriously ill and is released. He is rushed to the Mater Informum Hospital. (The Mater in Belfast)

“After a few days fast the late Frank Carney, T.D., and a few others who were not very robust were carried out on stretchers. This led to a general release on the sixth day and we were all conveyed to the various hospitals, from where we were discharged in about a week.” (James McKenna, OC North Monaghan Brigade, IRA, 1921)

Fermanagh Herald, May 8th 1920
Not all prisoners were released. About 70 were deported to Wormwood Scrubs prison in England. On their way they were marched to Belfast Docks where they were attacked by dock workers. Their British Army escorts stood idly by while the prisoners were pelted with bolts and metal bars thrown down from the boats. The hunger strike continued in Wormwood Scrubs.

Following his brief hunger strike, Frank Carney was back on his feet with amazing speed, and shortly after this we have news of some of his daring raids.


Notes and References:

1 This coroner's inquest into the death of the Lord Mayor was highly significant. It passed a verdict of willful murder against British Prime Minister Lloyd George and against certain named members of the RIC. Michael Collins later ordered the killing of the police officers involved in the attack. RIC District Inspector Oswald Swanzy, who had ordered the attack, was fatally shot with Mac Curtain's own revolver while leaving a Protestant church in Lisburn on 22 August 1920, sparking a pogram against the Catholic residents of the town.

Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, WS Ref #: 559 , Witness: James J Smyth, Captain IRA, Leitrim, 1921

3  Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, WS Ref #: 1028 , Witness: James McKenna, OC North Monaghan Brigade, IRA, 1921

* Note: All the Newspapers quoted in this article were accessed from Findmypast.ie

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Tension in the north - and in the Council Chamber

The newspapers throughout Ireland screamed the headlines, overwhelming success for nationalist parties! This was the dramatic outcome of the Local Elections in 1920 with Sinn Fein, Labour and other nationalists taking control of 172 of Ireland's 206 borough and urban district councils.

In the north of Ireland the reaction was far from elation, for the results sent disturbing quakes throughout the radical Unionist supporters. Lloyd George’s new Home Rule Bill, the Government of Ireland Act 1920, had introduced partition for the first time, proposing separate Northern and Southern parliaments. Edward Carson and his Unionists had strongly resisted both Home Rule, and partition. When this became inevitable, Unionists had insisted that the north should be made up of only those counties with a Unionist majority, which was, they argued, six counties rather than the whole nine counties of Ulster. Now in these local elections two of those proposed 'Six Counties', Fermanagh and Tyrone, proved to have, in fact, Nationalist majorities.

Worse still for Unionists, Derry had elected its first Catholic Mayor in three hundred years. All of this helped to create a Protestant backlash later in the year, when Unionists James Craig and Edward Carson marshalled their Ulster Volunteers and set them loose on the Catholic population.

North Ward Result
Fermanagh Herald 24 Jan 1920
The tension had not yet begun in early February when Frank Carney took his seat on the Enniskillen Urban District Council as one of two new Labour Councillors. Frank, his Labour colleague, Mr W. E. Campling, and an Independent Labour Councillor, Bernard Keenan, had helped make up a nationalist majority on the Council.2  

As soon as the outgoing Chairman, Nationalist Party member Joe Gillen, called the meeting to order, Frank Carney was the first to speak.3 Frank proposed that the outgoing Chairman should continue in office for the new session. He was quickly seconded by the other Labour Councillor, Mr Campling, in what everyone present must have known was an orchestrated manoeuvre.

Fermanagh Herald 24 Jan 1920
There had obviously been a pre-election pact between the three nationalist parties, Sinn Féin, the Nationalist Party and Labour. Sinn Féin had agreed not to put up any candidates, so that the Nationalist Party could win the Catholic vote. In return,  Sinn Féin people stood equally unopposed as Labour candidates, to win the workers vote. The completion of the agreement was that the elected Labour Councillors would support Nationalist Joe Gillen as Chairman.

The amicable ballet that had opened this first Council meeting continued with the appointment of Councillors to the various committees. This time it was agreement between the nationalist group and the opposing Unionists. Each side put forward delegates for a committee, and all were approved unopposed. Frank Carney was appointed to the 8-man Public Health Committee. It all went fairly smoothly.

At the next meeting of the Council, the gloves were off. Frank Carney threw the first punch, arriving in the meeting with a radical proposition. A letter had come to Enniskillen from Monaghan County Council explaining that they had passed a resolution protesting against partition of any kind. Frank proposed that this anti-partition resolution should also be passed by this Council, the Enniskillen Urban District Council.

Unionist James Cooper was quick  to object and he then to proposed an amendment which clearly illustrates the Unionist mindset of the time. The amendment stated,

“That we the Urban District Council of Enniskillen do hereby declare that we neither require nor wish for Home Rule of any description whatever. At the same time we rejoice to see that in the present Home Rule proposals before Parliament the loyal and peaceable County of Fermanagh has been grouped with the other loyal and peaceable counties which are henceforth to join the Parliament of Northern Ireland. The Co.  of Fermanagh is largely owned, occupied and populated by Unionists who pay two-thirds of all rates and taxes collected in the county and who would abhor to be grouped with the anti-British element of which the proposed Parliament of Southern Ireland will consist.”

Ulster Herald 6 Mar 1920
Several Councillors joined the discussion, but Frank Carney was getting heated, and he stated that he thought that his own resolution was inadequate,

“I am in agreement with Mr Cooper about the present Home Rule Bill, and I would not pick it off a Christmas tree! What we want is self-determination. The resolution does not go far enough!”

Now was the time for the Unionist Councillor, James Cooper, to make it public that he knew exactly who these ‘Labour’ Councillors were,

“When this board was being formed, two of the members said that they came to represent a particular section of the people, that their motto was Labour first, Labour second and nothing but Labour. They were to have no politics whatever, but Labour was to make a bridge between the Unionists and the Nationalists in the Council”

James Cooper went on to include a third man, the Independent Labour Councillor who we know was Bernard Keenan.7  Mr Cooper declared that these three 'neutral' people, the two Labour and the Independant Labour, were all now against the Unionists.

Although no-one in the room mentioned the words 'Sinn Féin', it was all out in the open now, and the Chairman, Mr Gillen, acknowledged this subtlety,

“The Independant Labour man and the two other Labour men know who their best friends are, and there is no use in anyone trying to camouflage them one way or another. You would have to rise very early in the morning to be able to do that.”

So at this early stage of their membership of the Urban District Council, Frank Carney, Mr Campling and Bernard Keenan were all revealed to be Sinn Féin men. Shortly after that meeting in early March the Council members would learn a great deal more about at least one of their new colleagues, when arrests were made in Enniskillen.


References and Notes:

1  “The Northern IRA and the Early Years of Partition 1920 -1921”, Robert Lynch, Irish Academic Press, 2006
2  Fermanagh Herald 1903-current, Feb 7th 1920, page 3, Irish Newspaper Archives
3 Joe Gillen was a business man in Enniskillen owning a pub and a furniture store. He was a famous footballer in his youth, and his playing career was spent in goal for Enniskillen Celtic. He was club secretary of Fermanagh IFA in 1903, helping them to their best ever year in 1905. In 1906 he became chair of the Fermanagh and South Tyrone league until the first world war intervened. He died in 1939 at the age of 59, a wreath from the IFA on his coffin indicated the esteem they felt for Mr Gillen.

4 Walter Ernest Campling was born on 8 Dec 1882 in Fort Canning, Singapore, possibly the son of a soldier. There is a lovely little story about Walter as a child. Walter was chosen to act as Queen Victoria's Drummer Boy when she did her tour of Ireland in 1900. When she was leaving at Belfast she asked to see him and gave him a rose from her bouquet. He had saved this flower in the pages of the family bible but when it was opened after his death to show one of his sons, it disintegrated into dust. He became a drummer in the 4th Battallion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers after joining on 18 Jan 1897. Walter was badly wounded in WW1. He had his kneecap shot off and multiple shrapnel wounds. Most of the shrapnel was removed but one piece was inoperable. He used to walk with a stick. He had achieved the rank of Quarter Master Sergeant in the Army. When he was medically discharged he joined the Tax Office where he worked as a clerk until he died on 10 October 1931.

5  Ulster Herald 1901-current, March 6 1920, page 6, Irish Newspaper Archives

6  James Cooper, Solicitor and company director. Born 26th February 1882. Educated at Portora Royal School and Wesley College, Dublin. Member of Enniskillen Urban District Council. Chairman of Fermanagh County Council from 1924 to 1928. Deputy Lieutenant for County Fermanagh. Custodian of the Enniskillen Savings Bank. An Ulster Unionist member of the British Parliament who sat for Fermanagh and Tyrone from the general election of 1921 until the general election of 1929 when he retired. He died 21st July 1949.
I believe that Bernard Keenan is the same ‘B. Keenan’ that Francis O’Duffy mentions in his statement to the Bureau of Military History. If so, he was, like Frank, and ex British soldier who was drill instructor in the Irish Volunteers in Enniskillen pre-1915. Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, WS Ref #: 654 , Witness: Francis O'Duffy, Captain IV, Enniskillen, 1913; Chairman Monaghan Dail Courts, 1919 - 1921

Thursday, 25 February 2016

The Speech from the Heart

The small, slightly-built young man was speaking from the podium with deep, personal passion, appealing for votes from his own people. Frank Carney was addressing a room full of workers gathered to listen to the candidates for the election to the Enniskillen Urban District Council on January 9th 1920. Usually less than exciting, these Local Elections were important in Ireland in that they provided a barometer of Irish people’s support for Sinn Féin and for the continuing War of Independence. It also gave 22 year old Frank Carney the platform to launch himself on his political career, though surprisingly he did not stand as a Sinn Féin delegate. 

This was the first Local Elections since 1914, and Sinn Féin were fighting them with a total determination to win,  as they did in the national election of 1918. This was true in most of Ireland, with the exception, of course, of the northern counties where politics was a much more complex affair. The election for the Enniskillen Urban District Council held on January 15th is a typical example, and here no Sinn Féin candidates stood at all.

Fermanagh had a majority Catholic population, and the Urban District Council in Enniskillen had held a Nationalist majority since 1914. These Nationalists were standing again, and they were  from the old school of the Irish Parlimentary Party and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. It is obvious that a deal was struck so that no Sinn Féin candidates would stand against the Nationalists here, but candidates would be allowed to stand under the Labour Party banner. There were four Labour candidates, and Frank Carney was one of these.

The Labour Party in Ireland was also a nationalist party, committed to Irish independence. It had emerged from the Irish Transport and General Workers Union in 1912 under the leadership of James Connolly and Jim Larkin. They also had a small militant wing in their union, the Irish Citizens Army, which was formed in 1913 to protect demonstrating workers.

As preparations for the Rising were being made by the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1916,  James Connolly was brought into their confidence. Connolly was then appointed Commandant of the Dublin Brigade, de facto Commander-in-Chief of the Rising. Connolly's leadership in the Easter Rising was considered formidable. Michael Collins said of James Connolly that he "would have followed him through hell.”

James Connolly's Execution
With Connolly's dramatic execution following the Rising and Jim Larkin's emigration to America, the Labour Party had lost its strength and direction. In the 1918 national elections, the Labour party agreed that they would not stand at all against Sinn Féin, thus allowing what was in effect a plebiscite on Irish Independence. Now it was 1920, and Labour was back in strength, supporting both Irish Independence and left wing socialist ideals. One of these Labour candidates was the young Frank Carney who put on his Labour hat to canvass Labour votes from the workers of Enniskillen.

National Library of Ireland
In a way Frank was now free. He did not have to promulgate the Sinn Féin manifesto. He could talk from his heart about the poor of the neighbourhood in which he grew up and where he still lived. The ‘Back Streets’, as this area was known, was the poorest in Enniskillen, and they had also lost so many young men in the Gallipoli  that the area later became known as ‘The Dardanelles’. Frank Carney spoke from his heart, and with great passion, when he addressed a gathering of workers in Enniskillen Town Hall on Friday January 9th 1920. The Fermanagh Herald reported that this was a Labour candidates' meeting, and the workers were now to chose which of these gentlemen would win their votes.

Frank Carney’s Speech - Fermanagh Herald Jan 10 1920

I have the honour of being selected as one of the Labour candidates at the forthcoming municipal elections. You would ask, quite naturally, what is our policy? Our policy is Labour.

Frank Carney
We want to raise the workers above the level of the beasts of the field. We want to get them a decent living wage, to enable them to have their children warmly and comfortably clad and booted, and properly educated so that they would hold their own in after life.

Labour in this town has made its demands very moderately, in a milk and watery sort of way, but we have got our shoulder to the wheel and we mean to keep it to the wheel until Labour comes out on top. 

Our object in trying to get representatives of Labour on the Urban Council is this: In the past Enniskillen was run by a lot of traders from God knows where. The majority of them did not belong to this town. What had been done by these civic fathers, the capitalists, for the town of Enniskillen, for the working man?
Forthill Enniskillen, started in 1845

They had got them the Forthill. The working man’s wife could send a nurse up the Forthill to give the kiddies an airing. What else had they got? They had got a concrete sidepath in the Brook for the elite to walk on.

The city fathers had promoted lectures on the dangers of tuberculosis, but what did the workers get to prevent their children from developing tuberculosis? Did they get anything more in wages to enable them to by milk to build up the constitutions of the children, or boots for them when they were going to school, or warm clothing? We know ourselves the miserable starvation wages they had been in receipt of and were in receipt of yet.

The civic fathers promoted lectures on domestic economy and hygiene. We all know that the wives of the working man are the only experts in this community on domestic economy, and why? Because they themselves, their mothers and their grandmothers had been educated in the science of domestic economy from the cradle to the grave. They had to be economists or they would have died the week after they were married owing to the starvation wages their husbands were receiving.

What did the workers get in the way of sanitation in Enniskillen? Look at the Back Streets. What had they got there? There are prehistoric institutions there and such conditions might be all right in a Kaffir kraal, but they were absolutely abominable in a town like Enniskillen.

The Labour candidates would be asked what did they know about Enniskillen, but what did some of these city fathers know about Enniskillen? Some of these traders walk about the town with their fat cigars and expected the working men to bow and scrape to them. The workers are now going to have a say in management of the town or know the reason why.

If Labour candidates were not returned it would be the workers’ own fault.
Frank Carney January 19th 1920

Thursday, 18 February 2016

The Connection to the Bureau of Military History

Many of the details of the story of my grandfather contained in this blog come from the wonderful online Bureau of Military History Collection.  This BMH Collection is an invaluable source for all historians, and for me, it was a gold mine.

As I was researching my grandfather Frank Carney, I found one intriguing little fact that actually connects the Bureau of Military History itself to our story. There is a very good chance that the concept for this Collection was prompted by the sudden and early death of Frank Carney in October 1932.

The material in the Bureau of Military History was collected in the 1940s and 1950s when Irish Army personnel and civil servants went all over the country to interview veterans of the struggle for Irish Independence. They collected their personal accounts and these were recorded in sworn witness statements that were signed and notarised.

The idea to document the struggle for Irish Independence in this way came from a Colonel E. V. O’Carroll, of the Army G.H.Q Intelligence Staff in Dublin, in 1933. An attempt to create a history of these times had been made earlier, in the 1920s, when a section was set up within Irish Army Intelligence with the aim of collecting all documentation or written records. This didn't work out, as there were very few surviving documents. The activities of the IRA and the IRB were secret and very little was written down at all.  The idea was shelved.

It was raised again in 1933 and this time the Army Intelligence unit came up with a better plan to record the history of Irish independence. It was Colonel E. V. O’Carroll’s idea to gather personal narratives from survivors, ‘before the sources are dead & gone’.Colonel O’Carroll's plan could very well have been prompted by his own personal experience, for he had lost a close personal friend just a few months before. It turns out that Colonel O'Carroll and Frank Carney were best friends at school, and E.V. O'Carroll would have known better than most how much of the secret history of Ireland had gone to the grave with death of his friend.

The connection between Colonel E.V. O'Carroll and my grandfather Frank Carney appears in a lovely little entry in the Derry Journal of November 4th 1940. It reveals the closeness of the relationship between Frank Carney and E.V. O’Carroll:

"Major-General E.V. O'Carroll, who resigned from G.H.Q. Staff, Dublin, was a school companion of the late Frank Carney, T.D. They were inseparable. Little did they think that in years to follow they would play such a prominent part in the fight for independence." 2

The two friends would also have been totally unaware that they would be so instrumental in beginning this wonderful historical record of their struggle. 

Thank you Major-General Eamon Vincent O'Carroll and all of those in Irish Army Intelligence who worked so hard to give us this superb history.3 You have given us a tremendous insight into those times, and you have breathed life into the personal history of my grandfather, the old school friend of Eamon Vincent O'Carroll. 


References and Notes:

1 “Bureau of Military History witness statements as sources for the Irish Revolution” by Eve Morrison, bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie

2 Derry Journal, Nov 4 1940. Only one person could have written this small, but very personal, message about E.V. O’Carroll’s retirement in the Derry Journal, and that was my grandmother herself, Nora Carney, widow of Frank Carney. Only she would have had the knowledge of the two friends' childhood relationship.

3 Eamonn Vincent O'Carroll, the former Colonel, was not from Enniskillen, he was he was a Donegal man, from Meenahinsh, Killygordan.  It took a while to find him in the school records in Enniskillen, as Eamonn Vincent O'Carroll had changed his name at some stage! Edmund Vincent O'Carroll, had done well in St Michael's Intermediate school Enniskillen, finishing the same year as his good friend Frank Carney.
St Michael's Intermediate School
Fermanagh Herald 6 Sep 1913 p.5
O'Carroll was a member of the Irish Volunteers from 1918 in Monaghan. From then until the end of the War of Independence he served as a Company Commanding Officer and Battalion Adjutant for the Irish Volunteers and IRA. During that conflict he took part in raids for arms, raids on trains, an attack on British forces at Stranooden, County Monaghan, attacks on Unionist/Loyalist/Protestant targets in reprisal for the burning of Rosslea, County Fermanagh by Unionist/Loyalist/Protestant forces (1921) and an attack on Carrickmacross RIC Barracks. During the Truce period O'Carroll served in IRA training camps and became Divisional Adjutant. 

He joined the National Army at its formation in February 1922 and served throughout the subsequent Civil War. Eamon O'Carroll continued to serve with the Defence Forces until his retirement on 18 October 1940 while serving at the rank of Major General in the role of Quartermaster General. Eamon O'Carroll passed away on January 7th 1941.

From Army Records - Ireland, Military Service Pension Index, 1916 - 1923

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Meeting the Mystery Man

Frank Carney was in London in January 1920 on a mission. His aim was to meet a gunrunner, a man who would supply Frank with the arms that he so desperately needed for his IRA units in Fermanagh. Frank was meeting the gunrunner in an extraordinary venue, in a setting where Commandant Frank Carney of the IRA would be badly out of place. On the other hand, the sophisticated gunrunner was comfortable here, for these were the circles in which he moved.

The building where the meeting was to take place was very near to the Houses of Parliament, in an elegant part of London. Frank was accompanied by Robert Brennan, the friend that he had met by chance the previous day. Robert Brennan was in the inner circle of both Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and so obviously Frank believed that it was safe to entrust Brennan with the name of his contact.1 

John Smith Chartres
Robert Brennan recognised the name, John Smith Chartres. He had met John Chartres several times some years before, in the offices of Arthur Griffith in Dublin. So in order to point Chartres out, Brennan had offered to accompany his young friend to the meeting.

On entering the building, they found themselves in  a ‘very select and conservative club' filled with Members of Parliament from the nearby Government Buildings. Their contact, John Smith Chartres, sat comfortably amongst them, looking very much the part:

“Sporting a monocle on a black ribbon, and blessed with the enunciation of the English upper middle class, this middle-aged, lame gentleman was in appearance initially above suspicion.” 2  

John Chartres escorted them into a lounge area and offered them coffee. They sat in the leather chairs of this upper class English domain while John Chartres, ‘quietly amused’, pointed out several important members of the Conservative Party.

The Conservatives were at that time in power with the Liberals in Lloyd George’s  coalition government, so it is quite likely that some of those in that room were actually Government Ministers. John Chartres was familar with them all, for he was at that time a higher civil servant, a Principal Officer in the Secretariat of the Department of Labour.

At one point, Frank Carney remarked,
"A bomb dropped in this place would dispose of a goodly number of enemies."
The monocled Englishman was quick to reply,
"Make sure and give me warning. I spend quite a lot of my time here."

All of this jolly banter took place after they had carried out the business of the day. John Chartres had earlier taken them into a small cloakroom, and here he had opened a bag. In it was what Robert Brennan describes as, “a very serviceable looking machine gun”. Frank took one glance at it and said,
“That’ll do.”

Frank was reluctant to part with the precious machine gun, and he wanted to take it with him, but Chartres objected,
“They might take it off you. You were merely to vet it. They’re to go by the ordinary channels.”

You can be sure that Frank Carney went carefully through these ‘ordinary channels’ before he lost sight of this precious machine gun.

This fascinating little story is important for us in that it confirms that Frank Carney was definitely very close to Michael Collins, and that he was fully trusted by him. John Smith Chartres was Collins’ protegee, his spy in the heart of the British Civil Service, and his contact for co-ordinating gun supplies to Ireland. From the time that Michael Collins began to use Chartres as a spy in early 1918, Chartres' connection to Ireland was kept secret and Collins was his only contact. It had to have been Michael Collins in person who had sent Commandant Frank Carney to that bizarre meeting in London.

Michael Collins continued to keep John Smith Chartres very close to his chest until October 1921, when he launched him on to a very public stage as a Secretary to the Irish Delegation in the Treaty negotiations. No-one knew who this strange, monocled Englishman was, or why, indeed, he could be trusted in such critical negotiations. Nonetheless, Michael Collins insisted that John Smith Chartres should be at his side.

As the history books were written about Michael Collins and the Treaty, little emerged about John Chartres and his activities as a spy. This mystery man who features in our Frank Carney story, John Smith Chartres, continues to be known to this day as, 'The Mystery Man of the Treaty".

At the Treaty Negotiations in 1921 Front [L-R] 
Arthur Griffith, Éamonn Duggan, Michael Collins, Robert Barton
Back [L-R]
Robert Erskine Childers, George Gavan Duffy, John Smith Chartres

References and Notes:

1 This story is from Robert Brennan’s book "Allegiance"  which is reprinted in the Bureau of Military History, WS Ref #: 125 , Witness: Robert Brennan, Publicity Department, Dáil Éireann, 1921

2  In "Chartres, John Smith" by Pauric J. Dempsey and Richard Hawkins, in the Treaty Records of the National Archives

3 John Smith Chartres was born in 1862 in Seacome, Cheshire, England, the son of a doctor, a staff surgeon in the British army. His mother and father were both from Ireland and John spent some of his early childhood here while his father was based in the Curragh and Dundalk.  He lived mostly in England and was educated there, though he also came to Dublin to attend the Kings Inn. Chartres was a barrister, but he did not practice. He worked at the The Times newspaper's intelligence department, doing research, indexing and reference, for ten years from 1904 to 1914.

When the war broke out there was a shortage of supplies of bullets and weapons. The Ministry of Munitions was set up in June 1915, and Chartres was appointed to its intelligence and record branch, eventually becoming a section Director. After the war, he joined the Ministry of Labour as a Principal Officer in the Secretariat.

Chartres came to Ireland when he was in the Munitions Department in 1917. He had become deeply affected by the 1916 rising and apparently in 1917 he went to Arthur Griffith and offered his help. He wrote articles for Griffith's Newspaper Nationality under the pseudonym ‘HI’ (haud immemor, ‘let them not be forgotten’). At some stage during 1918, Chartres was introduced to Michael Collins. From 1918 until mid-1921, Chartres was working for Michael Collins as a spy and gunrunner.

In mid 1920 Chartres arranged a transfer to Ireland, to work in the Irish branch of the Ministry of Labour where he was a Section Chief. However, in the following year he came under suspicion, and he retired from the British Civil Service. He was sent to Berlin by the Provisional Government in June 1921 as an envoy, but shortly after this he was recalled to take up his position as Secretary to the Treaty Delegation.

There was great consternation in Ireland about this appointment at the time as Chartres was English, had been working in 'intelligence' related roles for the British Government, and was now to be at the crucial negotiating table on the Irish side. Equally, Chartres' role was supposed to be that of a Constitutional Law expert, but everyone knew that he had no experience in Constitutional Law at all.

However, Michael Collins insisted that Chartres was to be a Secretary, and there were very good reasons why Collins would want him there. Firstly, Collins could trust him. He had worked with him for years in top secret situations. Chartres was totally reliable.

Secondly, Chartres brought with him an in-depth knowledge of the British Civil Service mindset but more importantly, he had personal intelligence on two of the key British delegates. Both David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill had been Ministers in the Ministry of Munitions when John Smith Chartres had been a Section Director there. He may or may not have interacted with them personally, but every high Civil Servant has to have thorough knowledge of his Minister in order to work effectively with them. Chartres brought this personal knowledge of Churchill and Lloyd George to the table.

John Smith Chartris died on 14th May 1927 at his home in Liseaux, Dartry Road, Rathgar, Dublin.
See "Chartres, John Smith" by Pauric J. Dempsey and Richard Hawkins, in the Treaty Records of the National Archives, and also "John Chartres, The Mystery Man of the Treaty", by Brian P. Murphy, Irish Academic Press, 1995.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

In the London Music Hall

“I was walking in Tottenham Court Road one day when I ran into Frank Carney, who was over on a mission for the I.R.A.”

So writes Robert Brennan in his book "Allegiance". He then goes on to give us two precious stories about my grandfather, Frank Carney. The first is an anecdote about their evening out together in January 1920 following that casual meeting in Tottenham Court Road. The second is an account of the following day, when Robert Brennan accompanied Frank Carney on his top secret mission in London.1

Robert Brennan 1916
The storyteller, 39 year old Robert Brennan, was a Wexford man who had been Sinn Féin’s National Director of Elections in 1918. Now Director of Publicity for the Provisional Government,  he had set up a daily propaganda paper, the ‘Irish Bulletin’ in November 1919. The Bulletin had a been very effective, much to the displeasure of the British and they were very anxious to shut it down. Robert Brennan had been sent over to London by Arthur Griffith in January 1920, to find an alternative method of publishing the Irish Bulletin, should the British prove successful.3

It was at this time that Brennan met Frank Carney on the Tottenham Court Road and he recognised Frank immediately. The two men shared that common bond, for Robert Brennan was high up in the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He had been sworn in by Sean T. O’Kelly in about 1908, and he was a long-time Head Centre for Wexford.1 Brennan would certainly have met Frank Carney at monthly Brotherhood Centre meetings in Dublin.4

In his account of that day in 1920, Brennan gives us a brief description:

“Frank was a small, slight man from Fermanagh who had been in the British Army. He had been gassed in France and had been invalided home. On his recovery he had joined the Volunteers, subsequently becoming Brigade Officer Commanding of County Fermanagh.”

Having met, the two friends then agreed to go out to a music hall that evening to see George Robey, a famous comedian of the day. They did not take their seats for the early part of the show but ‘adjourned to the bar’. Eventually, Brennan heard a lot of applause and he assumed that Robey must have arrived on stage. Brennan went to take his seat, but he was alone, for apparently Frank Carney was still ‘adjourning’ in the bar!

Brennan then saw a sketch on the stage which provoked him into action:

"It was not Robey but a sketch in which two men in British uniforms were reminiscing about the war. A caricature of an American swaggered on to the stage, spitting right and left. One of the British soldiers said:
"You know where that fellow comes from?"
"No, where?" said the other.
"It's a place called America.... It was discovered by Christopher Columbus."
This provoked loud laughter. The American said:
"Did I hear youse guys discussin' the war? You know, we won that war for you."
One of the British soldiers said to the other:
"This fellow must be very hard of hearing!"
"How come?" asked the American.
"Well that war was  going on for two years before you heard of it!"

This was too much for Robert Brennan, who believed that the British would have lost the war, but for the Americans.  He stood up and said so in a voice loud enough to get the attention of the entire music hall! Some of the audience laughed, thinking this was part of the show. When they realised that it was not, they turned on Brennen shouting;
"Shut Up!" "Sit Down!" "Throw him out" .

It was at this point that Frank came to take his seat beside him.  Frank asked what was going on. Brennan replied:
“I'm objecting to this show, because …”

Brennan got no further, for Frank jumped in and yelled loudly:
"All right, I'm objecting to it too, who's going to throw us out?"

Ushers promptly arrived, dragged them out and dumped them unceremoniously in the street. The two Irishmen went from there to a local pub. Robert Brennan finishes the story:

"After some time, Frank said,
"What was all that about?"
"They were sneering about the Americans' claim that they won the war, and I protested."
Frank laid down his glass and looked at me in astonishment.
"Do you mean to say that that's what we were thrown out for?"
"Sure," I said.
"Well, by God," he said, "you are a mug."
"And what about yourself!"
"Never mind about me. I did not know what it was all about. I've a good mind to go back and apologise to these people for interrupting their innocent pleasures."
"They would only throw you out again."
"I suppose so," Frank said sadly, "people are very unreasonable."

It is nice to see that my grandfather had such good manners, even when under the influence!

We leave the story there with the two friends drinking in that London pub. The following day they were up early, for there was more serious work to be done.


References and Notes:

1 Robert Brennan’s book ‘Allegiance’ is reprinted in the Bureau of Military History, WS Ref #: 125 , Witness: Robert Brennan, Publicity Department, Dail Eireann, 1921

2 Robert Brennan (1881 – 1964) fought in 1916 in Wexford Town, he surrendered  and was sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted and he was sent to Dartmoor prison in England where he became a close friend of Éamon De Valera . He was released in the General Amnesty of June 1917. In 1926 he was asked by De Valera to manage the establishment of the Irish Press and he went on to be General Manager from 1931 to 1934. He was then sent to America by the Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, as Secretary of the Free State's Irish Legation in Washington.  In August 1938 he was promoted to Minister Plenipotentiary, Ambassador, to the United States, a post he held until 1947.

3  The move to England was never needed, as the British never did manage to shut down the Irish Bulletin completely. Five issues of the Bulletin were issued each week from 1919 until the Truce in July 1921. The Irish Bulletin was circulated largely outside Ireland, bringing news of the War of Independence to overseas readers. The British were so threatened by this that Dublin Castle organised the circulation of counterfeit issues of the Bulletin for about a month following a raid on Bulletin offices in March 1921, at which all the plant was captured. The attempt to deceive public opinion failed completely and was abandoned. See "Dáil Éireann Department of Publicity: History and Progress", Royal Irish Academy, Documents on Irish Foreign Policy No. 102 NAI DE 4/4/2

4  The Brotherhood was organised in ‘Circles’ to guarantee secrecy. Each man was in a cell or ‘circle’ where he knew the man above, to each side and below him. He did not know any others. This ensured that if the man was captured, he had information about very few people. The Leader of each area in Ireland was the centre of that area's circle and was known as the ‘Centre’ or ‘Head Centre’. Centres met regularly in Dublin with the General Secretary, who until mid-1919 was Michael Collins. See ‘Michael Collins and the Brotherhood’, Vincent MacDowell, 1997, Ashfield Press.

5  Frank was not, in fact, in France at all. This was a commonly held belief at the time. See The Carney Brothers in World War 1

Friday, 5 February 2016

From Fermanagh to the Tottenham Court Road

The year 1919 must have been very frustrating for Frank Carney. In most of Ireland, it was a year of excitement, change, momentum and military action, but not in the north, and not in Fermanagh.

In January there was the very first sitting of the new Dáil in Dublin, following Sinn Féin's landslide victory in the elections the previous December. The War of Independence began that month, and in April the Irish Volunteers were declared to be the National Army of Ireland. They were renamed the ‘Irish Republican Army’. The IRA was active in many counties in late 1919, carrying out the order of the new President, Éamonn DeValera, to remove the police from all communities in Ireland.
Members of the First Dáil at 2nd meeting, 10 April 1919
First row, left to right: Laurence Ginnell, Michael Collins, Cathal Brugha, Arthur Griffith, 
Éamon de Valera, Count Plunkett, Eoin MacNeill, W. T. Cosgrave and Ernest Blythe. 
In the north the situation was very different.  Frank Carney was now Commandant of the Fermanagh battalion of the Irish Republican Army. He had eight companies of men in 1919, in Enniskillen, Tempo, Arney, Cavanacross, Irvinestown, Belcoo, Wattlebridge and Lisnaskea, but none of them had been active.1 There were major problems preventing Frank, and indeed all of the other northern Commandants, from taking their first actions in the War of Independence.
Irish Volunteer Companies in Fermanagh in 1919
Most of the population in the south supported, or at least tolerated, the IRA. In the north there was a large Protestant population who were adamantly against any talk of independence under Dublin. Many of these folk held arms, some from their membership of the well organised Ulster Volunteers, and they would not hesitate to use them if they felt threatened.
Edward Carson inspects a group of armed Ulster Volunteers in 1914
Equally, any IRA action would often draw down a violent backlash from the more extreme Protestant activists, resulting in direct attacks on the local Catholic population. As a result of this many Catholic areas turned against the IRA blaming them, as much as the Protestant activists, for their misfortune. The upshot of this was that support for the IRA was minimal.

Another major problem was the lack of weapons. Frank Carney’s troops had very few guns and most were doing field training with wooden replicas or other substitute implements.  The few guns that they had came largely from ex-soldiers returning from the war but there was a limited supply of these. In the south, IRA Companies were attacking police barracks and stealing supplies of weapons and ammunition. An attack on a northern police station would require a great deal of weapons, which the Fermanagh battalion did not have, and it would also risk the predictable backlash.

Michael Collins 1919
Frank Carney needed more guns, and the man in charge of gun supplies in Dublin was Michael Collins. During 1919 Michael Collins became Minister of Finance in the Provisional Government and in the Irish Republican Brotherhood he was made President, a title he kept until his death. From mid-1919, he pulled back from his hands-on work  with the Army to focus on his crowning role, that of Director of Intelligence. As part of this role, he retained total control of gun running.3

Frank Carney must have knocked at his door many times during the long months of 1919, without success. All Commandants countrywide were short of arms, and the queue was long. Those from Wexford, Cork and Kerry would take precedence, for these counties would use the weapons immediately on highly productive raids on Police Barracks, thus releasing even more arms.

It took until the beginning of the next year for Frank to finally reach the head of the queue. And that is why, on that January day in 1920, Frank Carney was walking down the Tottenham Court Road in London.


1 Bureau of Military History 1913-1921, WS Ref #: 654 , Witness: Francis O'Duffy, Captain IV, Enniskillen, 1913; Chairman Monaghan Dail Courts, 1919 - 1921
2 “The Northern IRA and the Early Years of Partition 1920 -1921”, Robert Lynch, Irish Academic Press, 2006
3Collins and Intelligence 1919-1923, From Brotherhood to Bureauracy”, Eunan O’Halpin, in Michael Collins and the Making of the Irish State, Mercier Press, 1998

Monday, 1 February 2016

Early Lessons in Politics and People

We have one more intriguing record of Frank Carney from late 1918. This is a fascinating little vignette that illustrates clearly the circles in which the young Frank Carney was moving in his 22nd year. Here Frank, already high up in the Irish Volunteers, is revealed to be on a Fermanagh electoral committee, shoulder-to-shoulder with political elders, all scheming to swing the nationalist vote in North Fermanagh. It seems that little Frank Carney, with his slight, boyish physique, has already won a place at the political high table. 

Kevin O’Shiel, who tells this story in his statement to the Bureau of Military History, was arriving in Enniskillen train station just weeks before the critical December 1918 national election. Earlier that year, Kevin O’Sheil had been election agent for Arthur Griffith in the Cavan by-elections, which Griffith had won. A spate of these by-election wins had given the impetus for Éamon De Valera, President of Sinn Féin, to give the order that every constituency in Ireland was to be fought for, and it was to be won.   

Kevin O’Shiel had been asked, at very short notice, to travel to Enniskillen, an invitation which had totally baffled him. It came in a letter from,‘an electoral committee of prominent Nationalists’, who were inviting him to stand in North Fermanagh as their Sinn Féin candidate.  This was a real puzzle as he was already standing for Sinn Féin in South Antrim. In addition, he knew that there was an excellent candidate running there in North Fermanagh.  He contacted Sinn Féin election Head Quarters to find out what was going on:
“In my bewilderment, I consulted Eamonn Donnelly the Chief Organiser of Sinn Féin for Ulster. He, too, couldn't make out what had happened there so suddenly.”  

This was obviously not an order from Sinn Féin, but despite this, Kevin O’Shiel felt that he had to go to Enniskillen,  as those who were inviting him were very important folk:
“The letter was clearly genuine and could not be ignored, for the names were those of leading local personages.” 

One of these 'leading personages' was indeed 22 year-old Frank Carney. He was standing on the railway platform with a deputation, there to meet Kevin O'Sheil:
“On arriving at Enniskillen, I was met at the station by Cahir Healy, George Irvine, Sean B. MacManus, Frank Carney, Sean Nethercott and others.”

The five men who accompanied Frank that day were relieved that O'Shiel had come, as their situation was extremely urgent. Although major players in the area, they were not all politicians. We learn a lot by looking at what they all had in common. 

Cahir Healy
Cahir Healy was the leader of the group, who at 41 was an elder statesman of Sinn Féin. He was a founder member, who had sat at the table with Arthur Griffith at Sinn Féin's very first meeting in Dublin in 1905. He was now chief Sinn Féin organiser in Fermanagh,  as well as holding senior offices in the Gaelic League and Gaelic Athletic Association. Cahir Healy was a political activist, and was also a member of the secretive Irish Republican Brotherhood.

Sean Nethercott, the other politician on that Enniskillen railway platform, was a close friend of Cahir Healy and a member of the Enniskillen Urban District Council. Like Healy, Nethercott was also a long-time member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.4 

Sean B. MacManus is a more elusive figure, and seemingly not a politician at all. He appears in the records only as having taken the secret oath of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.5 

George Irvine
George Irvine was the other important figure on the platform, and it was he that was at the centre of this whole issue. George Irvine was a hero of 1916, a Captain in the Irish Volunteers serving under Eamonn Ceannt. He had been arrested, sentenced to death and had his sentence commuted. Irvine was a Northern Protestant, who had been teaching in a Protestant school in Rathmines in Dublin at the time of the Rising.6

Kevin O’Sheil said that he was:
“that extremely rare thing - a Northern, Protestant, Separatist Republican, who had fought through the Easter Week Rising in 1916, had been arrested thereafter and interned, but recently liberated with other Sinn Féin prisoners” 

Irvine was a solider, and like his young companion Frank Carney, he had also been sworn in to the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

It would seem that the long hand of the Brotherhood was dominating this Sinn Féin electoral committee, as it did in many of the constituencies throughout Ireland. However, the problem that these folk faced was uniquely northern.  

In the south, Sinn Féin under Éamon De Valera was in the process of wiping out the only other Nationalist party, and was on the way to achieving a dramatic majority in the 1918 election. It was very different in the northern counties where there were still several different nationalist parties, all vying for Catholic votes, and often standing against a Unionist who held a large majority. 

This was the case in North Fermanagh where the Catholic Ancient Order of Hibernians dominated. Cahir Healy had to negotiate long and hard with the Hibernians to get agreement for George Irvine, Sinn Féin man, to be the only Nationalist candidate. But even at this late stage, the Hibernians had turned, and were sabotaging the plan. The ideal candidate for the Catholic population, George Irvine, had parents who owned a Bible shop in Bridge Street and this was what the Hibernians had used to attack him:
"They declared that nothing would induce them to go out and vote for George Irvine whose parents, they declared, sold bibles and tracts in the town of Enniskillen and proselytized." 

Bridge St, Enniskillen
This was too big a dose of Protestant for the Hibernian's taste and another candidate had to be found. 

The Fermanagh Sinn Féin electoral committee, composed of  six Irish Republican Brotherhood men, had then reached out for help. They did not contact Sinn Féin Headquarters. Instead they went to a different office, the headquarters of the IRB. There they were given the name Kevin O'Shiel. Kevin O'Shiel was not an IRB man, and the IRB's astute political organiser, Harry Boland, would never have suggested him. No, it was almost certainly the military leader of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Michael Collins, who had suggested the name of Kevin O'Shiel, for Kevin O'Shiel was, in fact, his close personal friend.2  

It was a hasty and ill thought out solution, and, predictably, it failed. The Catholic people of North Fermanagh did not vote for the stranger dropped in at the last minute. Kevin O'Shiel stood in both constituencies, in North Fermanagh and in South Antrim, and he lost in both.

The young Commandant Frank Carney was right in the middle of all of this, and we know that he was a quick learner. Here there was a myriad of valuable lessons for Frank - about the complexity of northern politics, the decisions of voters, and the problems with making last minute decisions.

Above all, and this is one that he definitely took with him, Frank Carney learnt that his hero and superior, Michael Collins, was not always right.



1 Kevin O’Sheil, Bureau of Military History, WS Ref #: 1770 , Witness: Kevin O'Shiel, Judicial Commissioner, Dail Land Courts, 1920 -1922
2 Kevin O’Shiel: Tyrone Nationalist and Irish State Builder”, Eda Sagarra, Irish Academic Press 2013. This was the first book written about Kevin O'Shiel, and Professor Sagarra is his daughter. O’Shiel was a barrister who went on to sit as the first judge in the Dail courts. He held various offices from January 1922, including assistant legal advisor to the Provisional and first Free State government as well as Director of the North Eastern Boundary Bureau. He was also Chair of the Garda Commission Report, and prepared Ireland’s case for admission to the League of Nations.
3 Public Records Office of Northern Ireland,  "Introduction to the Cahir Healy Papers." 
4 Sean Nethercott appears in the Cahir Heay Papers, see note 3 above. He ran in the Enniskillen Urban District Elections in 1920, and was elected, see Fermanagh Herald, Jan 24th 1920. After the Truce, he was interned for two years with Cahir Healy on the ship the ‘Argenta’ in Belfast Lough.
5 Sean B. McManus appears in brief mentions in two entries in the Bureau of Military History. He is mentioned by James Mc Caffrey who knew McManus in his early childhood and he is referred to as a member of the IRB. WS Ref #: 1484 , Witness: James McCaffrey, Captain IRA, Donegal, 1921. He is also mentioned by Francis O’Duffy - WS Ref #: 654 , Witness: Francis O'Duffy, Captain IV, Enniskillen, 1913; Chairman Monaghan Dail Courts, 1919 – 1921.
6 “When the Clock Struck in 1916”, Derek Molyneux & Darren Kelly 2015, The Collins Press. The term ‘hero’ is not used lightly here. George Irvine was leading a group of eight Volunteers assigned to block the entrance to the South Dublin Union. This was a hospital at the time, which the Volunteers, under Eamonn Ceannt, were using to block British Troops from entering Dublin from what is now Houston Station. The small group of Volunteers in the South Dublin Union were complimented by everyone, including members of the British forces. 
7  “The Northern IRA and the Early Years of Partition 1920 -1921”, Robert Lynch, , Irish Academic Press, 2006