Within the railings of St. Stephen’s Green, the monuments dotted around the park commemorate suffragettes, socialists, poets and writers. Many of the people remembered are bound to the history of the park; James Joyce immortalised it within Ulysses, while Countess Markievicz patrolled it her Citizen Army uniform during Easter Week.

A monument that could easily be missed commemorates someone with no connection to the park, born on another continent entirely, yet still bound to the Irish story. A bust of Rabindranath Tagore in the south side of the park, unveiled in October 2011, is a reminder of the historic ties between the people of Ireland and India. Presented by the government of India, it is a fine tribute to a man who had a significant impact on the thinking of William Butler Yeats, and who achieved fame as the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.


Tagore bust, St. Stephen’s Green.

Sometimes called the “Bard of Bengal”, Tagore was born in May 1861 in Calcutta. A true polymath, Tagori’s contributions to the arts and culture spanned many fields, and he was a published poet by the age of sixteen. The national anthem of India, Jana Gana Mana, is a Hindi version of a song he originally composed in Bengali. He was a critic of imperialism and an advocate for educational reform, and both of these things are particularly important to this story of his influence in Ireland.

In 1913, Tagore’s play The Post Office was performed at The Abbey Theatre, in a fundraiser for Patick Pearse’s school St. Enda’s. In some ways, it was the meeting of two kindred spirits.  Pearse’s school was groundbreaking in its approach to education; as Richard English has noted, Pearse “seen his school as – in part – an experiment in the cultivation of national identity. ” Maintaining that the education system of the day was broken, and designed merely to produce “willing or at least manageable slaves”, Pearse argued for a new approach to education in his pamphlet The Murder Machine:

..the Irish school system of the future should give freedom—freedom to the individual school, freedom to the individual teacher, freedom as far as may be to the individual pupil. Without freedom there can be no right growth; and education is properly the fostering of the right growth of a personality. Our school system must bring, too, some gallant inspiration.

Like Pearse, Tagore believed in radically new approaches to education. William Butler Yeats would label Tagore’s own school in Shantiniketan as “the Indian St. Enda’s”, and as the writer Prasenjeet Kumar has noted, “he held that proper teaching should not explain things, but just stoke curiosity. He depicted beautifully his hatred of rote learning in ‘The Parrot’s Training’, in which a cage bird is force-fed textbook pages – to death.”


Tagore bust, St Stephen’s Green (Image Credit: Neuroforever, WikiCommons)

The respect was mutual, as in 1915 Pearse’s play The King (which had been written As Gaeilge) was performed in Tagore’s school. The Abbey Theatre performance was a great success, and provided much needed funds to St. Enda’s, a school Pearse was totally committed to but struggled to finance. A contemporary remembered that “he was a dreamer, but unfortunately never had the money to bring his dreams to fruition.

While Tagore and Pearse never met, he did meet Yeats in 1912, during a visit to Britain. Yeats agreed to write the introduction to a translated collection of Tagore’s poems, and he was clearly moved:

I have carried the manuscript of these translations about with me for days, reading it in railway trains, or on the top of omnibuses and in restaurants, and I have often had to close it lest some stranger would see how much it moved me. These lyrics . . . display in their thought a world I have dreamed of all my live [sic] long . . . a tradition, where poetry and religion are the same thing.

In a History Ireland article on the relationship between Yeats and Tagore,  Malcolm Sen argued that “it is easy to understand why Yeats would be fascinated by Tagore. The Irish poet often spoke of the possibility of a shared cultural memory that brought distant civilisations together, and Tagore would echo such idealistic universalism in his writings.” Sen notes too that Yeats found something familiar in Tagore’s writings, as for him “Tagore’s Bengal and the west of Ireland shared an affinity that counterpointed the materialistic modernity of imperialism. He compared Tagore’s work to Douglas Hyde’s Love Songs of Connaught.”

Tagore died in 1941 at the age of eighty, and he is widely commemorated in India and internationally. In 2011, the bust in St. Stephen’s Green was unveiled by Prennet Kaur, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs. It is worth noting that when the nearby bust of Countess Markievicz was unveiled in 1932, one of those in attendance was a former Speaker of the Indian Parliament, in recognition of the close bonds between the two nations.


The 1932 unveiling of the Markievicz memorial (Irish Press)

We were very sorry to hear the devastating news this morning that renowned Irish keyboard and piano player Pat ‘Fitzy’ Fitpatrick had passed away after a short illness aged 60.

Katmandu, c. 1980. Fitzy in blue and red jumper. Credit – http://www.spitrecords.co.uk/

Originally from Belfast, he studied at the Royal College of Music in London.

Fitzy’s 35 plus year music career saw him play with an array of the island’s best rock groups including Katmandu (1980s), The Music People (mid 1980s), The Fountainhead (late 1980s), Swim (1980s-1990s), The Blades (1983-2017), Something Happens (1990s-2010s) and Aslan (1990s-2010s),

He also worked with Van Morrison, Mary Coughlan, Phil Coulter, Anne Bushnell (RIP), Colm Wilkinson, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Lúnasa.

Fitzy joined The Blades on tour in late 1983 not long after they released their iconic single ‘Downmarket’.

He played keyboards on one of the “most iconic piano intros in Irish rock history” – ‘Parachute’ by Something Happens which was released in 1990.

In terms of film credits, he performed on the soundtrack to ‘The General’ (1998) and is listed as being a keyboard player in the restaurant band in ‘Agnes Browne’ (1999).

Christy Dignam, lead singer of Aslan, said today:

Fitzy has left a huge hole behind in our lives both as a musician and a friend.It wasn’t just music, Fitzy was a lovely human being. He played with such feeling.

Tom Dunne, lead singer of Something Happens, was “devastated” to hear the news and told The Irish Sun:

He was a beautiful man and the only piano player I know who could play ‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys (properly).

Brian Foley, bass player with The Blades and formerly of The Vipers, wrote:

He was classically trained and had attended the Royal College of Music in London. Still I suppose nothing could have prepared him for the nights of mayhem that ensued in ‘ The Baggot Inn’ ‘the TV club’ and many a country venue where Pat was confronted with the heaving masses of mods and disaffected youth that engulfed the stage during those raucous, riotous early gigs.

Not forgetting his early training he would throw in a snatch of Mendelssohn’s wedding march before the start of ‘the bride wore white’ or at a soundcheck he might play ‘the Liberty Bell March’ (theme from the Monty Pythons’ flying circus).

Once, he even gave us a tutorial on how alike the chords and structure of the mod anthem ‘Heatwave’ was to the old 1930’s song ‘the Charleston’!

That skinny kid from Belfast had music coursing through his veins. I remember one time out in RTE, we were sitting in the dressing room where there just happened to be a piano. Invariably, we would ask Pat; ‘can you play this song or that song’ and he’d play the requested song no problem. Then it would all get silly and we’d ask him to play different advertising jingles. Which of course he could. All note perfect!

Still, barely three weeks ago, even though he was very ill he insisted on playing with us in ‘Whelans’ and that was the measure of this beautiful man. A musician to the very end.

May his gentle soul rest in peace.

Though he was extremely ill, he managed to play his last gigs with The Blades in Whelan’s on 31st March and with Aslan in the Cork Opera House on 8th April.

Come Here To Me! offer our sincere condolences to his wife, family and friends.

Pat in action, Dec 2014. Credit – Mill Butler.


“The hoisting of the Republican flag on the GPO ruins, Easter Monday 1917.”

With the weekend that has just passed, there was considerable emphasis on Easter 1917 and the first anniversary of the Easter Rising. Yesterday, a special edition of Liveline looked at how the first anniversary was marked in Dublin, while both The Irish Times and An Phoblacht  produced interesting articles which examined the manner in which republicans reproduced the 1916 proclamation and utilised the ruins of the GPO as a place of commemoration, defiantly raising the tricolour over the building once again.

Certainly, in the years immediately after the Rising, the GPO had taken on a huge symbolic importance for Irish nationalists. The building would remain closed until 1929, an indication of the severity of the damage done to it. In an incredibly ill-advised move, a British Army recruitment banner was hung across the ruins of the building during the interim period between the Rising and the War of Independence. The banner met a predictable end.

Seán Harling of Na Fianna Éireann (republican boyscouts) remembered that:

There was one very big canvas streamer tied across the top of the GPO, with a picture of Kitchener and him pointing his finger at the people  – “We Want You.” So my commandant came to me and said, “I’ve been instructed to get you to destroy that poster.” So I went down and I looked and I thought, “How the hell am I going to destroy that thing?”

The image of Lord Kitchener, drawn by graphic artist Alfred Leete, has become one of the iconic images of the First World War. In time, it inspired many copycats, from Uncle Sam to Soviet propaganda. For Harling and his comrades, getting Kitchener down from the GPO was a difficult talk:

It was way up near the roof, you see, and I knew if you put ladders up the police would be on top of you before you where you were.Then I had this bright idea. We went into a shop and bought a sod of turf and then let the turf steep in a bucket of paraffin oil. We put some wire around the turf then, because if you put twine on it it would just burn along with the turf. Then we died some twine on to the wire, lit the sod of turf and fired it up across the banner. Within a few minutes the whole thing was blazing, roaring. It was shocking.

When the Fire Brigade arrived on the scene, Harling recognised the familiar face of Joe Connolly, a Dublin firefighter who was also a Captain in the Citizen Army. He remembered that “they all looked and saw what was burning and turned around and went back.”

There are conflicting versions of just what the recruitment banner on the GPO proclaimed; Fianna Éireann activist Gary Holohan was adamant that the banner burnt was “a large scroll or banner of bunting across the top of the columns on the GPO, on which was painted an appeal for recruits for His Britannic Majesty’s Navy.” Holohan, like Harling, felt the banner was designed “to add insult to injury”, and remembered “this was too much for us.”

Regardless of what it proclaimed, it was destroyed by members of Na Fianna. It was clear that the GPO was considered sacred ground for Irish nationalists.

Seán Harling’s account of burning the Kitchener banner is taken from Kenneth Griffith and Timothy O’Grady’s classic Curious Journey: An Oral History of Ireland’s Unfinished Revolution.

… to organise the workers of Ireland for the attainment of full economic freedom.”

So reads a section of the rules submitted to the Registrar of Friendly Societies on 15th July 1924 by Peter Larkin for the creation of a new union, the Workers Union of Ireland. The trades and occupations organised by the WUI were listed as ‘dockers, coal carters, builders, bakeries, public services, distributive and productive and miscellaneous.’

The Union was in part a product of a very public falling out between the leadership of the ITGWU, (in particular General Secretary William O’Brien) and Jim Larkin on his return from the United States, where he served three years of a five to ten year sentence meted out in the midst of the first ‘Red Scare.’ Larkin’s return was well heralded, and there was an assumption on his part that he would walk back into a leadership role in the union, something which was not forthcoming. His stubbornness to adapt his anarchic oratory style and organisational methods did not endear himself to the leadership of the ITGWU, though in a short time many of that Union’s members would abandon en-masse to join the new Union, swayed by the personality cult around Larkin. Harry Pollitt, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain said of him around the time

Jim Larkin and his most immediate associates can think of nothing else but Jim Larkin. It is difficult to argue or venture any opinion that does not coincide with his own, and yet the man is undoubtedly a leader.

A bitter pay dispute between the Shipping Federation and the ITGWU added to the conflict, with the latter sensing (correctly) Larkin’s influence on a number of workers unwilling to accept a compromise won by the ITGWU on their behalf. A third factor was a dispute between the Union and one of it’s members who on being promoted, refused to give up their ITGWU membership. Strike action was approved at branch level in support of their case, but William O’Brien refused to sanction Strike Pay. Larkin was (again correctly) assumed the instigator, putting the final nail in the coffin. This incident led to an occupation of Liberty Hall by a group of men including Larkin. The occupation ended after Liberty Hall was surrounded by the new Free State army with truck mounted guns, and the men arrested and charged with trespass.


The image that would immortalise Jim Larkin, taken by Joe Cashman in 1923

Following on from this incident, and with Larkin having left Dublin on 27th May 1924 to attend the meeting of the Comintern in Russia, his brother Peter announced the foundation of the new union- arguably despite instructions to the opposite. Regardless, Jim would join the Union as General Secretary on his return from Moscow on 25th August 1924. As previously mentioned, membership of the ITGWU temporarily hemorrhaged with upwards of 40, 000 workers deflecting to the new WUI, the latter now known now colloquially as ‘Larkin’s Union,’ and its members proudly identifying as ‘Larkin’s Men.’

There was to be nothing but acrimony between the two unions whose members would not work peacefully alongside each other as comments in this letter from William Smith O’Brien to Thomas Johnson show-

Things have gone fairly smoothly with us here, especially in the coal dispute where we are getting stronger every day that passes. We have now a very large number of men engaged and are putting on extra men practically every day. There have been a considerable number of attacks on our men, but the position is not as bad as we expected. A bomb was thrown last Saturday into the Custom’s House docks where a number of our men are housed, but no damage was done.

The dispute above occurred in July 1925, when the Coal Merchant’s Association, fed up of the constant conflict between members of the two Unions, temporarily locked both sets of workers out and refused to re-admit them until men employed in the coal yards could work amicably together. The ITGWU would break, with scabbing members returning to work under no little intimidation from WUI members- newspaper reports tell of ITGWU men and their families suffering harassment at the hands of their WUI counterparts, with fights a regular occurrence, and a near riot breaking out at Alexandra Basin where coal was being unloaded.


Larkin’s Sons Denis, Fintan, Bernard and Jim Jnr. leading the cortege at his funeral. Photograph: The Irish Times

The feud culminated in a Mill’s bomb (a type of hand grenade) being thrown into an ITGWU manned dockyard near Connolly station. Though without much damage or destruction, the incident could have been a lot worse. The blast, which rang out across the north inner city occurred near a shed in which the Union men, all but permanently stationed at the site were resting. An Irish Times article sub headed ‘Supposed Attempt at Intimidation’ reported

The eight coal workers were in their hut, just thirty yards from the office and close to the high wall and the ‘up’ platform of the station. It appears that only one piece of the bomb struck the hut. It pierced the iron side and buried itself in the bed of one of the men, who was on the point of falling asleep at the time. He had a wonderful escape, for the hole made by the bomb splinter was about two inches from his head.  (IT, 28/9/1925)

The report also spoke of the ‘professionalism’ of the attack- the distance and accuracy of the throw suggesting that the bomb was thrown by someone who knew what they were doing; unsurprising given the country wasn’t long out of the horrors of the Civil War.

In an attempt to gain the upper hand in the feud, Larkin struck a deal with a Welsh pit owner, and imported hundreds of tonnes of coal which he sold to WUI members and Dublin’s poor at cost price, killing two birds with one stone- providing affordable fuel which was dubbed ‘Unity Coal’ to Dublin’s needy, and part funding his strike in the process. Larkin would claim that provision of affordable coal to the poor of Dublin ‘taught the employers of Dublin the old spirit of militant unionism is not dead in this country.’ With Larkin’s Union owing £12, 000 to the pit-owner, supply was threatened- in return, Larkin argued that if the strike should fall, then there would be no money to pay for the coal; an argument he would win, though its highly probable no payment passed hands. The Lockout was not to end amicably- the workers returned to the yards but a bitterness between the two Unions was to remain for decades.

Many thanks to Aileen O’C and Donal for their help with this article. 


Reward poster for John Francis O’Reilly (Image Credit: RTÉ The History Show)

With Joe Joyce’s wonderful Echoland the current choice for ‘One City, One Book’, there is great focus on the period of the so-called ‘Emergency’ and Dublin during World War Two.

It’s sometimes joked that the Second World War passed us by totally. The poet Louis MacNeice would remember being in Dublin on the day Hitler invaded Poland, and that in the pubs “the Dublin literati…hardly mentioned the war but debated the correct versions of Dublin street songs. Dublin was hardly worried by the war…her old preoccupations were still preoccupations.” Yet despite this seeming indifference to the outbreak of the conflict from some, the war would make itself felt here in different ways. Nazi bombs fell on the city, Nazi spies parachuted into the countryside, thousands of Irishmen joined the British armed forces and rationing and censorship became parts of life here too, though to a much lesser extent than on the neighbouring island.

There are, of course, countless fascinating individual stories around Ireland and World War Two. Some, like IRA Chief of Staff Seán Russell or Hermann Gortz (the Nazi spy who parachuted into Ireland in full Luftwaffe uniform) are relatively well-known. Then there are the tales of those who sought political asylum here, including Breton collaborators and others who managed to assimilate themselves into Irish life, in some cases avoiding prosecution for their activities during the war.

One rather strange story of Ireland and the conflict concerns John Francis O’Reilly, a figure who parachuted from a Luftwaffe plane into West Clare in 1943. He and his associate, John Kenny, have been described as “the last of the motley band of fanatics, adventurers and misfits in the pay of Nazi Germany who landed in neutral Ireland as spies.” Having escaped from captivity in Arbour Hill detention centre after being captured within hours of his arrival in Ireland, a sizeable reward was offered for information leading to the detention of O’Reilly, which his father availed of by reporting him to local Gardaí when his son had arrived back in Clare. Later, his father presented him with this reward money following the end of the war, which O’Reilly used towards the purchase of a pub and hotel on Dublin’s Parkgate Street.

From Clare to Berlin and back again:

How did a Clareman come to be parachuted into Ireland by the Luftwaffe in the first place?

David Murphy’s entry on O’Reilly for the Dictionary of Irish Biography gives good insight into a life that was somewhat nomadic before World War Two. Born in Kilrush in 1916, O’Reilly was a son of the RIC sergeant who arrested Sir Roger Casement upon his arrival at Banna Strand immediately before the Easter Rising. Murphy writes:

He worked as a clerk in the Customs and Excise Department (May 1936–September 1938) but left this job after failing an Irish exam and went to the Benedictine abbey at Buckfast, England, to become a monk. This plan was soon abandoned and he went to London and worked as a reception clerk in an hotel. He was in London when war broke out but, in May 1940, went to Jersey and was still there when the Germans occupied the Channel Islands in July 1940. Managing to ingratiate himself with the German administration, he initially worked as an interpreter and helped the German commander, Prince Von Baldeck, to recruit a party of Irish workers in exchange for papers to go to Germany. He later stated that he had hoped to go to Germany, contact the Irish legation in Berlin, and then organise his return to Ireland.

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Hanlon’s Corner marker (Luke Fallon)

Dublin’s thriving cattle market is recalled well into the recent history of the city.  In his excellent memoir Another Country: Growing Up in 50’s Ireland, Gene Kerrigan wrote:

The cattle were tended by cowboys on bicycles, men with overcoats and hats, furiously pedaling this way and that, whacking the cattle with their sticks and shouting at them, the bewildered beasts leaving heaps of shit on the road as souvenirs of their passage.

There had been a cattle market in Smithfield since the late seventeenth century, and the sight of cattle being moved through the local streets was a common one, with one nineteenth century publication talking of how “droves of cattle are constantly pushed through the streets to a marketplace called by the somewhat grandiloquent name of Smithfield.”

Work on the development of a new Cattle Market in the Aughrim Street/Prussia Street area  commenced in February 1863 and it was officially opened in November of that same year. It became a hive of activity, and from here animals would be driven through the streets of the capital to boats moored along the North Wall. As Joseph V. O’Brien noted, there were moments of “mass excitement and general merriment” on occasions when animals should make a break for it, citing one bull who made it a fine distance, “”reaching Kingsbridge Station and following the railway tracks to Inchicore, stopping only when it charged head on into a train at Ballyfermot bridge, all the while being pursued by mounted constables and sundry citizens.”

Today, two historic plaques in the area mark what was once an enormous local employer. One, affixed to the side of the City Arms public house, appears to be the original marker of the market:


City Arms public house plaque,marking the opening of a market in November 1863 (Luke Fallon)

The rise and demise of the market is well documented in Bernard Neary’s recent local history study, Dublin 7, where he notes that “during the 1920s it was the busiest of its kind in Europe; throughput in one year numbered nearly three-quarters of a million animals”. In spite of this, the following decades were difficult:

During the late 1960s business at the markets started to decline as railway cattle-wagons were replaced by road-transport vehicles and provincial markets grew. The prominence enjoyed by the Dublin Cattle Market in the meat industry began to decline and finally in the early 1970s it ceased operations. However, the death-blow that the closure was forecast to bring to the area, known locally as Cowtown, never materialised.

Much of the site of the market is now occupied by the Drumalee housing estate. In addition to the two historic markers, another reminder of the history of the district is the naming of a nearby cafe, the Cowtown Cafe on the corner of Manor Street and Manor Place:


Cowtown (Luke Fallon)

The Bolsheveki Bookies

Now more than ever is it possible for those with an interest and an internet connection to study family history. From the online availability of 1901/1911 Census’ and the Bureau of Military History’s Pensions and Witness Statements collections, to the Newspaper archives it takes time and unfortunately at times a little money to delve into the past. In investigating my own history, I came across two interesting associates of my Great-Uncle William Murray; James and Thomas Redican.

James and Thomas were born to Sligo parents, Thomas and Annie Redican. Thomas Snr. was a gardener by trade and an Irish musician by passion, and the boys along with their siblings Dorothy, Patrick and Lawrence attended school in Donnybrook. On finishing school, James became a bookmaker and was a Volunteer in E Company, 3rd Battalion, Dublin Brigade. He was active in Boland’s Mills during the Easter Rising and would suffer injuries to a hand, an ankle and took a bullet to a thigh which would plague him for the rest of his life; he was imprisoned in Frongoch after the surrender. His younger brother Thomas also made an appearance during the Rising, showing up at his brother’s garrison but was turned away by DeValera for being too young.

Sometime after the general release of prisoners from Frongoch, James Redican makes an appearance in Mullingar, as can be read in the witness statements of Michael Murray, Capt. Ballinacarrigy Company IRA and Michael McCoy, Capt. Mullingar Company. Murray mentions raids for arms ‘under the command of James Redican,’ and a successful raid on the Hibernian Bank in Mullingar. His statement also speaks of Redican and a party of Volunteers, including William Murray holding up a mail train just outside of Mullingar, destroying communications and removing moneys from letters. Interestingly, the statement continues

It now transpired that Redican was not a member of the Volunteers at all. He was an ex-prisoner from Mountjoy Jail. Apparently while in Mountjoy he got acquainted with some Volunteer prisoners from the Mullingar area and convinced them he was up for political reasons while in reality he was doing time for some criminal offence. On his release, he came to the Mullingar area nosing as staff officer from G.H.Q. and soon was OK with the Battalion O/C and other officers. G.H.Q. now sent down instructions that he was to be put out of the area, much to our surprise… It was really a pity he was of that type because he had plenty of guts and courage and would be an asset to the Volunteers anywhere

The Hibernian wasn’t Redican’s only experience of bank raids. By late 1920, he was leading a gang of men (including his brother Thomas and several of those involved in the Hibernian raid) on a series of sorties against banks in Dublin, ostensibly under the orders of Brigadier T.J. Burke of Mullingar (Noel Redican’s ‘Shadows of Doubt.’)


On the left, The National Bank at Baggot Street Bridge. Circa. 1905. Raided twice by Redican’s gang.

In November 1920 and February 1921, the National Bank of Upper Baggot Street was raided, with sums of £2, 789 and £1, 237 being appropriated. The day after the February raid, the brothers, along with Thomas Weymes (another of the Mullingar men,) were picked up and brought to the local police barracks where they were paraded in front of witnesses, arrested and charged. According to ‘Shadows of Doubt,’

They (the IRA) had come to the conclusion that Redican (James) had pocketed the proceeds from the robberies, which were therefore of a criminal nature, and disowned the raiders.

As a result, their arrests may not have been wholly down to sleuth like  police work. Michael McCoy’s witness statement would seem to corroborate and goes further to say

… a series of bank robberies occurred around Dublin. David Burke had a suspicion that Redigan (sic) and his party might be the culprits, and so informed Michael Collins. Collins passed on the information to some friends in the D.M.P., and Redigan and a man named Weymes were arrested and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. It was suspected that Redigan then gave information to the British authorities as to the location of the arms in Mullingar. In February, 1921, after David Burke was arrested, an R.I.C. man told him that they had information that arms were stored in a disused oven in McDonnell’s bakery in Dominick St. Their information was perfectly correct. Burke got a message out to me and we had them removed shortly before the place was raided.

The three men still regarded the offences with which they were being charged as political, insisting the raids were ordered by superior officers and that the proceeds from same had been removed by another two of the Hibernian men, Tormey and Murray for return to their Brigadier for dispersal. Their trials were held separately and weren’t without controversy- witnesses seemed confused as to who they were meant to be pointing out, and Thomas Redican, though in prison in Arbour Hill for another offence at the time of the February raid, was charged with same. The three men were sentenced to penal servitude.


The Freeman’s Journal, May 23rd 1922

Their time in prison was to be cut short, with the signing of the treaty and the subsequent amnesty for republican prisoners in February 1922 only for them to be re-arrested within weeks for questioning regarding the monies raised through their bank raids and the whereabouts of same- upwards of £5, 000 was unaccounted for. They were tried by a Republican Court at the Court of Conscience on South William Street in what was widely regarded at the time by the papers ‘an amazing story.’ Several newspaper reports make the point that the money used from the raids was used to finance a bookmaking business.

In November, Tormey, James Redican and witness raided the Baggot Street branch of the National Bank. They got about £3, 000 there. They went to Tara Street after, taking the money from the bank. Tormey went away that evening. Witness handed over the stolen money to him and he took some of it with him. Witness was acting under Tormey at this time. Witness followed Tormey to Westmeath and there was a division of the money but Witness got none. Witness carried on the book in the meantime. In October, the book was making money. They called themselves the ‘Bolsheveki Bookmakers.’

(Cork County Eagle and Munster Advertiser, June 3rd 1922.)

Under the newly formed Free State, the men’s stay in prison was far from comfortable, with neither side willing to give concession to the other. Throughout the Civil War they remained guests of the State, who though petitioned, refused to sanction the release of Thomas even though it was proved could not have been present for the raid which he was serving time for. The men in turn didn’t make it easy for the prison services, and until their release in July 1924, frequently engaged in acts of disobedience, refusing to wear uniforms, attacking warders and undergoing several hunger strikes, one of which in particular almost cost James his life.

Their story does not end there. In 1928 Seán Harling, a brother-in-law to the Redican brothers (having married their sister Dorothy) shot and killed Timothy Coughlan, a 22-year-old IRA Volunteer outside the house he was sharing with the Redican family. Harling, a Republican interned during the Civil War had joined the Secret Services of the Free State in part due to economic reasons, and in part due to enormous pressure exerted by Free State agents. He alleged he was ambushed while returning home from work and retaliated in self-defence. However, medical evidence would suggest otherwise, Coughlan’s wound looking more like an execution rather than a shot fired in haste whilst fleeing. The Redican brothers would take the stand once more, this time for questioning in relation to Coughlan’s death having been present in the house during the shooting; a case that is almost as inconclusive today as it was at the time.

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