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Mellows’ last message was delivered to Eamon Martin by a prison officer. It was written at 7.30am and ran:

To my dear comrades in Mountjoy. God bless you, boys, and give you fortitude, courage and wisdom to suffer and endure all for Ireland’s sake.

An poblacht abu!
Liam O Maoiliosa (Liam Mellows)

The above is taken from C Desmond Greaves wonderful biography of Liam Mellows, entitled Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution. Undoubtedly one of the most complex characters of the anti-treaty republican movement, I’ve always been fascinated by Mellows. A great account of what Mellows was like as a man inside Mountjoy can be found in Peadar O’ Donnell’s prison memoirs The Gates Flew Open.

Recently, I saw the letter below. It is the final letter of Liam Mellows, the letter published above in Graves biography. It comes from the personal papers of Paddy Kelly, whose father was a republican prisoner in Mountjoy at the time. Look closely at it however. There are a number of clear edits made to the letter, for example the first line, where “to my very dear comrades…” becomes “to my dear comrades”. “God bless you,” becomes “God bless you boys” and the word “and” is added at various points, replacing the & symbol.

At the end of the letter “Irish first” is added and underlined next to Liam’s name.

Were these edits made by Mellows himself, or are they an early example of spin doctoring? Was the letter edited by republicans for propaganda impact before publication? Several of the letters seem completely different to those in the original letter, yet with others it’s a little less clear.

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