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Volunteer Thomas McEvoy’s activities in Kildare

 James Durney
Thomas Richard McEvoy was born on 21 February 1899. He resided at Seville Place and then East Wall Road, in Dublin. He was employed as a grocer’s assistant in February 1916 when he joined ‘G’ Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade, of the Irish Volunteers. During Easter Week Thomas saw active service in the G.P.O., Royal College of Surgeons and the Four Courts area of Dublin. During the period of the re-organisation Thomas McEvoy became a member of No. 3 Company, 5th Battalion, Dublin Brigade. During his service with the Dublin Brigade he was involved in the following military operations: the carrying of dispatches; drilling and the opposition campaign against conscription; destruction of Stepaside RIC Barracks; armed assault on a military vehicle in Merrion Square; company patrols and armed raids and the capture of arms.
Thomas McEvoy took the anti-treaty side in the civil war and was transferred from the 5th Dublin Battalion to District Headquarters, in which he served as a brigade engineer in Dublin, Louth and Kildare. In Co. Kildare his commanding officer was Tom Harris. He took part in the blowing up of the Liffey Bridge, in Celbridge, in October 1922, and the burning of Liffey junction signal cabin. On 2 November Thomas McEvoy was arrested in The Downings, Prosperous, Co. Kildare, and was imprisoned in Newbridge Internment Camp until Christmas week 1923. He makes a poignant reference to the seven members of the Rathbride Column executed in the Curragh in December 1922 and their intelligence officer, Tom Behan, shot dead in dubious circumstances, saying that: ‘Seven of my comrades were executed. The Brigade I/O was murdered. I was Brigade Engineer.’ This suggests that Thomas McEvoy was involved with the Rathbride Column, commanded by Bryan Moore, which was responsible for the destruction of bridges and the derailing of trains in the Kildare area prior to their capture at Mooresbridge in December, a month after McEvoy’s own arrest.
Thomas McEvoy married Elizabeth Ryan in the Church of St. Laurence O’Toole, Seville Place, Dublin, in 1928. He left the IRA in 1927. Thomas was awarded the 1916 Medal for his activities in Easter Week, and the Service (1917-1921) Medal with bar for his services during the War of Independence. Both of these medals were created in 1941. He also received the 1916 Survivors Medal in 1966. Below are newspaper reports from the Kildare Observer and the Leinster Leader on the destruction of the Liffey Bridge in Celbridge.
Kildare Observer
21 October 1922
Celbridge bridge blown up
The fine bridge spanning the Liffey in the town of Celbridge was destroyed by explosives in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The explosion completely destroyed the centre arch of the bridge, and otherwise shook the fabric. Traffic over it was rendered impossible. The bridge was damaged some time ago, although to a much less serious extent and the necessary repairs had been carried out by the County Council at a cost of over £500. It will take considerably more than that amount to repair the damage on this occasion. The bridge is a highly important one, all the traffic from the Dublin market, etc., from a big area around passing over it. It is stated that about a dozen, said to include some escaped internees from Newbridge Camp, were engaged in the work of destruction, and that people of the town had been told beforehand of what was about to happen, and warned not to be afraid. The explosion shattered windows in houses over the village, and was distinctly heard by troops and Civic Guard near Johnstown who were in charge of a large consignment of bacon, the lorry convoying which had been damaged in a collision earlier in the night.

Leinster Leader
4 November 1922
Co. Council and Cill Droichead damage
At the fortnightly meeting of the Kildare Co. Council Finance committee, Mr. M. Smyth, presided when the members present refused to rebuild the bridge across the Liffey at Cill Droichead, which was blown up some nights since. The County Surveyor brought the matter in due course before the Council. It will be remembered that the bridge was broken some ten months ago, after which it was repaired. At the time a pony, frightened by the lights on the bridge, one night, bolted and dashed into the broken bridge, plunging the car and its occupants, who had a very narrow escape, into the river below.
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The damage to the bridge at Cill Droichead cuts off the whole of County Dublin from the Hazelhatch side from business in Cill Droichead. The matter was brought before the County Council on Wednesday, 25th inst., and discussed. It is intended for the present to merely put barriers across the bridge which will not be safe for traffic until some extensive repairs are made.

James Durney writes on Dublin man Thomas McEvoy's activities in Kildare during the Civil War.  Our thanks to James.

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