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Authors: Meda Ryan

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Tom Barry (37 page)

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[
50
]Tom Barry to Liam Mac Gowan,
Irish Press
, 1 May 1948, TB private papers.

[
51
]Hart, p. 288.

[
52
]
Ibid
.

[
53
]
Ibid
; O'Broin,
Protestant Nationalists
, p. 177; Brian Murphy, September– October 1998,
The Month
, p. 383.

[
54
]Murphy,
The Month
, p. 383; Hart, pp. 288–292.

[
55
]Hart, pp. 282, 283.

[
56
]Here Hart makes reference to Seán Moylan's (North Cork TD not West Cork) derogatory remark on ‘Unionists' (Union with Britain and against an Irish Republic) being the ‘domestic enemy.' Seán Moylan did not use the word Protestant – not all Unionist were Protestants. Hart, pp. 291, 288.

[
57
]Hart, p. 290.

[
58
]
Ibid
., p. 288.

[
59
]Hart in English, Initials given: (e.g., C. R. 25 October 1993; R. G. and G. D. – 17, 18 April 1993; W. M. 17 April 1993; G.H. 17 April 1993; K.O. 20 April 1993; G.D. 19 April 1993; D.J. 21 April 1993; F.B. 6 December 1993; B.T. 9 November 1994; T.N. 17 November 1994), in Hart, The IRA (Bibliography, p. 330). Hart states that sources for ‘Protestant men and women begin with a “B”' (e.g., BB, 17 April 1993; BF, 17 April 1993; BG, 18 and 19 April 1993; BO, 21 April 1993; BM, 20 April 1993; BP, 21 April 1993; BP and BH, 20 April 1993 (275); BW and BX, 15 November 1994; BY, 17 November 1994).

[
60
]Dan Cahalane, author interview 21/2/1994. In conversation with Dan Cahalane it was obvious that the IRA ‘did not really know much' about the pogroms of Catholics in the north of Ireland. ‘We had our own concerns'.

[
61
]Jack Fitzgerald, Ernie O'MN, P17b/112, UCDA.

[
62
]Hart in English
,
p. 94.

[
63
]Begley, pp. 42–44, Flor Begley (Diarmuid Begley's father) IRA intelligence officer, on an occasion had severe influenza and was being cared for in a house in Bandon when ‘a sympathetic' RIC sergeant sent word ‘that his presence there had been reported to the police.' Though weak, he made his way through the fields and was eventually nursed back to health by Mrs Bishop, a Protestant; Tom Barry, n.d. c. early 1970s, RTÉ Sound Archives.

[
64
]Flor Begley, O'M,N, P17b/111, UCDA; Flor Begley, IO, had several names on his lists, both Catholic and Protestants are listed as ‘spies' and ‘informers'.

[
65
]Murphy,
The Month
, p. 382; Erskine Childers
The Irish
Revolution
, quoted by Brian Murphy, p. 382. During the Civil War Erskine Childers ran his ‘Republican Press' office for a time in Woods' house north of Bandon – both were Protestants; British official
Record of the Rebellion,
Vol. 11, Jeudwine Papers, IWM.

[
66
]Jack Lane,
An Atonement for Bandon?
pp. 6, 7, in
The Northern Star
, May 1999; Murphy,
The Month
, pp. 382, 383; Hart, pp. 305, 306; British official,
Record of the Rebellion,
Vol. 11, p. 26, Jeudwine Papers, IWM.

[
67
]
British Intelligence In Ireland 1920–21: The Final Reports
, pp. 16, 49, 102, ed. Peter Hart; Jack Lane, in
Irish Political Review
, December 2002.

[
68
]Jack Lane,
Irish Political Review
, December 2002;
Record of the Rebellion in Ireland
, Vol. 11, Jeudwine Papers, IWM.

[
69
]
Record of the Rebellion
, Vol. 11, Jeudwine Papers, IWM; Montgomery to Percival, 14/10/23, Percival Papers, 4/1, IWM; Smith's Diary, Strickland Papers, IWM.

[
70
]
Record of the Rebellion
, Jeudwine Papers, IWM.

[
71
]Murphy,
The Month
, pp. 382, 383. Dorothy Stopford in a letter to her mother mentioned ‘the slavery' and ‘the brutal rule' and ‘what to expect from England … The brigade staff sent out battalion special orders that they were to look after me and see that I got no abuse from anyone'. She told her mother not to worry about her safety in the Kilbrittain/Bandon area. ‘It is a great life – I love all the boys – girls like brothers and sisters, they are all Christian names.' Dorothy to her mother, 17 July (no year, c.1 922). Dr Dorothy Price Papers, MS 31,341(4), NLI; see also correspondence to the
Irish Times
, October and November 1994.

[
72
]Risteárd Ó Glaisne to Tom Barry, 5/8/1949, TB private papers.

[
73
]
Ibid
.
o
ther odd pages are undated as earlier and later pages are missing. The correspondence is hand written. Some pages, because of the condition of the collection, are missing from Ó Glaisne's lengthy correspondence to Barry.

[
74
]Risteárd Ó Glaisne to Tom, August 26/8/1949, TB private papers.

[
75
]Tom Barry to Rev. Father Henry, 16/9/1963 and Tom Barry's ‘Comment', unpublished, TB private papers.

[
76
]Tom Barry's manuscript, TB private papers; see also Barry,
Guerilla Days
, p. 114.

[
77
]Monica Sullivan to Tom Barry – First page missing, hence no date or address, TB private papers.

[
78
]Curtis,
Ireland
(1921), pp. 59, 60, in Pat Walsh,
Introduction: The Anglo-Irish Treaty.

[
79
]Barry,
Guerilla Days
, pp. 113, 114.

[
80
]Tom Barry to Griffith and O'Grady,
Curious Journey
, p. 143.

15 – Civil War and Jail Begins

Meanwhile in Dublin, throughout April and May 1922, negotiations (some secretly) between the Beggar's Bush army section (pro-Treaty) and the Four Courts executive (anti-Treaty) continued in the hope of healing the army split. Ultimately, it became apparent that no army settlement could be arrived at without a corresponding political settlement and vice versa. The political conferences broke down twice – the last time irrevocably. Then came the ‘De Valera- Collins pact.' This ‘pact' hammered out on 18 and 19 May 1922, as a compromise to prevent civil war, provided for a general election to form a coalition government in which pro-and anti-Treaty elements had representation proportionate to their strength in the Dáil.
[1]

In the Four Courts, Tom Barry, Rory O'Connor, Ernie O'Malley, Dick Barrett and other IRA men discussed further strategy. Some felt that attacking the British in the north should be the next step towards gaining a full Republic. They also felt that this might unite the anti-Treaty and pro-Treaty groups once more. Meanwhile they believed it was imperative to secure more arms. Under the command of the Provisional Government army, a new police force was being trained in a camp in Kildare. The Four Courts executive discovered that two lorries containing men, arms and ammunition would be travelling towards Dublin on a certain night. These should be waylaid.

A Crossley tender, an armoured car and other vehicles commandeered by the Four Courts men set out at intervals for Kildare, then stopped outside the Curragh so that all the cars would travel in convoy. Tom Barry, Rory O'Connor and Ernie O'Malley halted a lorry, explaining that they wanted to have another go at the British. Many of the men on the lorry agreed and handed over their arms without question. Most of the convoy, which was now led by Tom Barry and Rory O'Connor, proceeded towards the police camp in Kildare while Ernie O'Malley with a few men remained to cut the telegraph wires.

The lights of the cars were seen in the darkness. Barry and O'Connor went ahead and succeeded in getting all the rifles and ammunition. ‘They even gave us tenders to remove the stuff. Some of them are coming back to the [Four] Courts,' said Rory O'Connor.
[2]

With Barry and O'Connor in command the convoy started back for Dublin hoping not to be halted. ‘I sat in a tender on a pile of rifles. The men whistled and sang. We were in good spirits and reached the Four Courts before dawn with our treasure trove,' Ernie O'Malley recalled.
[3]

Tom Barry was in the thick of it now, and with a quantity of arms, ammunition and men who had fought the guerrilla war during the previous years he was ready to take on the cause of the Republic.

Liam Lynch, chief-of-staff, decided with the executive to call another convention in the Mansion House on 18 June 1922. Tom Barry, Liam Deasy, Tom Hales, Rory O'Connor and delegates from other parts of the country were present. On 12 June the minister for defence had written to the army executive setting out proposals for re-unification. These proposals were not acceptable to all the members of the executive and indeed did not receive enthusiastic support. Seán O'Hegarty, Tom Hales and Florrie O'Donoghue resigned on an issue concerning a general election and were replaced on the executive by Tom Barry, Tom Derrig and Pax Whelan.
[4]

There were many who wanted action and not appeasement: they stated that Griffith and Collins appeared to be trimming the Republic by their action of continuing contact with Britain. The formation of a new Dáil, a new army and a new police force had all been established by the Treatyites and the strong voices of the meeting were not in favour of these developments. Lynch was criticised for failing to take stronger action, and in the absence of his coming to a definite decision, ‘Tom Barry moved a resolution that the IRA at once attack the British and renew the war.'
[5]
Only posts in Dublin and the six counties were then still occupied by foreign troops. The resolution put forward proposed to declare war on the British, giving 72 hours notice prior to hostilities. Some confusion arose as to when the 72 hours should become operative.

Lynch, disagreeing with Barry's point of view and feeling that such action would be irresponsible, urged moderation. Both Barry and Lynch were strong-minded Republicans and spent some time arguing tactics instead of principles. Barry and his supporters believed that direct action would bring the pro-Treaty soldiers in Beggar's Bush and throughout the country back into a united front when they could take on Britain – the common enemy – in the north. ‘Barry and Seán O'Hegarty had the same sentiments. Don't talk, but act.'
[6]

‘To my mind, it was very foolish of Barry to have put forward such a resolution at the convention. It was neither the time nor the place for it', according to Seán MacBride. ‘In fact it meant putting the onus of declaring war on Great Britain on a body of men who had been selected by various units of the army to select an executive which was to appoint a chief-of-staff and to direct the policy of the army until a Republican government was formed. I understand that Barry proposed that motion to counter-balance Liam Lynch's proposals and to avoid the repetition of such incidents. As a policy the substance of his motion was quite right, but by putting it forward at a convention without consulting anybody, as he did, was putting those who supported that policy in a very awkward position'.
[7]
Florence O'Donoghue ‘committed to record that Cathal Brugha approved this resolution.'
[8]

Tom Barry's motion was passed by a couple of votes. ‘This was challenged on the grounds that there was a brigade present which wasn't represented at the last convention; after a long discussion the objection was upheld and a fresh vote was taken, and the motion was lost.'
[9]
After some heated discussion on his compromise proposals Liam Lynch said he would no longer go on as chief-of-staff. Twelve members of the executive who had voted with Tom Barry chose Joseph McKelvey as their new chief-of-staff.

‘Though Rory O'Connor and Liam Mellows saw Barry's mistake in bringing forward this motion as a proposal to the convention, without any previous discussion, they understood that this was the only policy that could be consistently followed by the anti-Treatyites. Barry and Rory O'Connor would not accept the continued delay; they stood up, left the room followed by their supporters and announced they were returning to the Four Courts. It fell on Seán MacBride to announce to the convention that a further convention would be held in the Four Courts the next morning. ‘There was an absolute silence and I could hear my steps like shots from the top of the room to the door. A few more delegates came out'. The split was deepening.
[10]

The convention meeting continued. Cathal Brugha, Seán Lehane, Liam Mellows, Florrie O'Donoghue and others, though they had voted in favour of ‘the War declaration', remained in the room. ‘The temper of the convention, and of the majority wishes of the executive, was such that all hope of army unification was dead.' Afterwards Lynch moved his headquarters to the Clarence Hotel. Ernie O'Malley waited until the end of the meeting. When he returned to the men in the Four Courts he had difficulty in gaining entrance, as the guard had been strengthened.
[11]

What was started by De Valera and his supporters by voting against the Treaty and walking out might have been resolved by peaceful means, but there were those who believed that the only method of obtaining freedom for all Ireland against Britain was through physical force. Amongst such advocates was Tom Barry. He was convinced that it was the guerrilla tactics that had brought Lloyd George and his government ‘to accept that the Irish must be listened to', according to Seán MacBride, who also left for the Four Courts.
[12]

Deep bitterness was now being felt about the north of Ireland because Catholics continued to be killed and property burned. Collins accepted the Treaty as a step towards a united Ireland, but the anti-Treaty section had no intention of paying allegiance to a British king. They also felt that the Treaty only copper-fastened the 1920 Government of Ireland Act and its acceptance of a divided Ireland. The recognised IRA headquarters was now the Four Courts where Tom Barry, Joe McKelvey, Rory O'Connor, Liam Mellows, Dick Barrett and the others met to decide on their next move. However, for both the Provisional Government and the men in the Four Courts events were moving swiftly and inevitably to a climax.

Following the unveiling on 22 June 1922 of a memorial to railway men killed in the First World War, Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, Military Adviser to the ‘new State of Northern Ireland', was assassinated in London. Commandant Dunne and Volunteer O'Sullivan of the IRA's London battalion were arrested, and there was no doubt in the minds of the British ministers at that time that the Four Courts' garrison was to blame for the killing. All the indications are that this was not so. Rory O'Connor made a public statement that he had nothing to do with the killing. ‘If we had, we would admit it'. Whether or not an earlier order given by Michael Collins was never cancelled is still unclear.
[13]

Despite Collins' allegiance to his colleagues in the Provisional Government and honouring the Treaty signature, he was, up to this period, engaged in a dualist approach in relation to exchanging guns and aiding the Four Courts' executive to send them to the north. By this action he was engaged in placating both of the divisions that resulted from the army split. The Four Courts' garrison continued to commandeer vehicles and even arms held by the remaining British troops. With some other men Barry, accustomed to this type of operation, easily secured a number of these. Meanwhile, Churchill and the British government criticised the Provisional Government for making no move against these attacks.
[14]

The result of the election, which was preceded by an unsuccessful pact between De Valera and Collins, was not announced until 24 June and showed that out of 128 seats 58 were pro-Treaty and 35 anti-Treaty.

Lloyd George wrote to Michael Collins stating that he was no longer prepared to permit ‘the ambiguous position of Rory O'Connor … and his followers and his arsenal in open rebellion in the heart of Dublin', so he asked Michael Collins to ‘formally' bring it ‘to an end forthwith'. He offered ‘the necessary pieces of artillery' to aid the process
[15]

Matters were brought swiftly to a head by news that J. J. (Ginger) O'Connell, pro-Treaty deputy chief-of-staff, was taken hostage by Four Courts' executive forces. Before this, Leo Henderson had been arrested by pro-Treaty (Provisional Government) troops as he had commandeered transport for removal of supplies to the north – supplies that Michael Collins in his dual role had sanctioned. The Four Courts' executive held O'Connell in order to bargain the release of Henderson. ‘We in the Army Council who held the view that the “Treaty” people were simply playing for time until the split in the Anti-Treaty forces widened and until they had built up an army of Staters to attack us,' decided on a certain strategy.
[16]

On Wednesday 28 June, an ultimatum delivered to the Four Courts' garrison to surrender by 4 a.m. yielded no response. Field guns acquired from the British forces and supervised by British personnel opened fire on the Four Courts. The Civil War officially began.
[17]

Liam Lynch, awakened in the Clarence Hotel by the sound of firing, set out with Liam Deasy and Seán Moylan for Cork. ‘The tragedy which he [Lynch] had tried so hard to avoid had happened.'
[18]
Tom Barry's great friend Dick Barrett – who in earlier months had been in the Four Courts – had returned from his few days in West Cork. He was passing through Dublin on his way to London to attempt a rescue of Dunne and O'Sullivan when he saw the guns lining up outside the Four Courts. He went to join his comrades. Barry was in the south side of the city having come up from Cork, where he had been under the care of Dr Blake ‘one of the doctors then treating him' for the recurring problem since the Kilmichael ambush, of ‘a strained heart and side'.

De Valera had not yet agreed to the course Rory O'Connor and his men were pursuing and was amazed when he heard that the Four Courts was being shelled. Rory O'Connor and Mellows later told Barry that an early meeting on the 28 June between Liam Lynch and the Four Courts garrison, ‘regarding unity had come to no conclusion.' After the ultimatum ‘Lynch said he was with them and would leave immediately for the country. No chief-of-staff was actually appointed … but Liam Lynch subsequently and rightly in the confusion took over the command.'

By Thursday, as shelling continued, an appeal was made to the commander of a section of pro-Treaty troops to allow a nurse and a woman companion into the Four Courts. The pro-Treaty officer was suspicious, and rightly so. The ‘nurse' was Tom Barry. Tom felt that his fighting power would add strength to the garrison and had secured the nurse's uniform through his wife Leslie. Earlier Moss Twomey said to Barry and Dick Barrett. ‘You would do better to get the fellows inside out', and he had tried to persuade them both to go back down the country.
[19]
Tom was arrested and became the first prisoner of the Civil War.

The big guns roared; the Four Courts was set on fire; and amidst thunderous noise and clouds of black smoke the garrison surrendered.

Barry was among 180 prisoners taken to Mountjoy Jail. Dave Neligan was given the specific job of taking Barry in. ‘Listen, Barry,' he said, ‘don't try any tricks with me. It's not the Duke of Wellington's regiment you're dealing with now. You'll get your head blown off!'

‘Don't worry, I won't!'
[20]

As Peadar O'Donnell and his comrades, having been refused entrance to the Four Courts, were being arrested, they saw Barry being taken away, so they shouted words of encouragement to him and his escort. Later, as the prisoners stood at their windows in Mountjoy, overlooking the roadway, they were faced by soldiers who ‘lined up' and fired ‘volleys'. Though initially the targets were off, the men decided they had better obey the order of the governor and stand clear of the window because ‘the State soldiers were only too willing to take a pot shot.'
[21]

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