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Cill Dara Historical Society

'Kildare Town's Local History Group'


The 2011 Giraldus Lecture

"Senator Michael Smyth"

  Cooleen, Kildare Town   


Michael D. Higgins

President of the Labour Party


The Kildare Education Centre

Friary Road,  Kildare Town


Wednesday   6th  July  2011      at   8 pm

All   Are  Welcome

Further   Information   Contact  Joe  Connelly at:  086 168 62 36

Below is a synopsis of the article which will appear in full in the Kildare Nationalist next week.

Cill Dara Historical Society: Kildare Town Heritage Series No. 123

Giraldus Lecture 2011 – Senator Michael Smyth

Mario Corrigan

Michael Smyth was born at Rosetown, Athgarvan, Newbridge, on 9 March 1888 to Terrance and Anne Smyth, both of whom were born at Rosetown. He was educated at Two-Mile-House National School though his mother had taught him to read and write at home.
By 1911, still at Rosetown, Michael was a postman and became actively involved in the Labour Party/ITGWU shortly after being elected as a Labour member to Kildare Co. Council and also Newbridge Town Commission/Council in 1920. He remained a Co. Councillor for some 38 years, standing down in 1967.
He became Secretary of the new Company of Volunteers formed in Athgarvan in June 1914. A split occurred and a new company of Irish Volunteers was formed with Michael as Company Captain in September of 1915. He was deputed to buy arms and ammunition but found it difficult to get them from the Curragh Camp. He became Secretary of the National Volunteers and arranged to buy weapons and ammunition from them for some £300 – some of these were sent to Dublin in March 1916.
Michael had mobilised the Athgarvan Comapny on Sunday of Easter Week but saw the countermanding order and did not march to Dublin. They remained mobilised for the week, awaiting further instructions. He was arrested on 2 May and lodged in Hare Park, the Curragh. From there he was brought to Richmond barracks on 8 May and deported to Wandsworth Jail on 2 June and interned in Frongoch Camp on 26th June – number 1124, Hut 24, North Camp. He was tried at Wormwood Scrubs Prison for receiving ‘£300 in German gold’ to buy arms, found guilty and sentenced to two years in jail. Returned to Frongoch, he took part in a hunger strike in November and was detained in South Camp Frongoch until 23 December 1916 when the general release of prisoners was made.
At home in Ireland he once again became active in the cause – he was appointed Kildare Battalion Commandant in December 1920 as the War of Independence raged. He received a Death Notice ‘By Oder H.M.F.’ (Her Majesty’s Forces) to force him to desist from these activities.
Arrested on 3 July 1920 by a party of Black and Tans Michael was badly beaten and imprisoned at Newbridge Barracks from 7-13 July. He was transferred to the Curragh and later to Mountjoy in October until he was released on 14 January 1922 as part of the General Amnesty. Michael remained neutral during the Irish Civil War.
He remained in politics becoming one of the driving forces of Labour in Co. Kildare and was elected to the Senate in 1943.
On 17 Oct 1934 he married Miss Annie Murphy, daughter of Mrs Alice Murphy and the late Patrick Murphy, Belan Avenue, Moone. His best man was Senator William Cummins and Michael and Anne honeymooned in London.




Michael D. Higgins, President of the Labour Party, will give the 2011 GIRALDUS LECTURE in Kildare Town, on Senator Michael Smyth, Cooleen Kildare. Kildare Education Centre, Wednesday 6th  July  2011 at 8 pm. All Welcome. 


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