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February 10, 2012


Kildare Battalions-1920
Michael Symth
Shortly after the release of the County Kildare Irish Volunteers, who were interned in Frongoch after 1916, the Volunteers in north Kildare were reorganised early in 1917. At a meeting at Prosperous on Ascension Thursday, 1917, a battalion council was formed. It was decided to form it as the North Kildare battalion. The following battalion officers were appointed:-
Commandant-Patrick Colgan-Maynooth company. Vice-Commandant-Thomas Harris Prosperous company. Adjustant-Michael Smyth Athgarvan company. Quartermaster-Art O’Connor Celbridge company.
Officers from the following companies were represented at the meeting:-Maynooth, Celbridge, Leixlip, Kill, Naas, Prosperous, Newbridge, Athgarvan and Carbury.
 Early in 1920 when Peadar McMahon-afterwards Lieutenant General McMahon-came as organiser to Kildare, the I.R.A. in north Kildare was divided into two battalions, 1st Kildare battalion and 2nd Kildare battalion-the latter included some companies in west Wicklow.
Irish Republican Army
Kildare 2nd Battalion
   At a meeting at Naas early in 1920, the 2nd Kildare battalion was formed. The battalion officers appointed were:-
Commandant-Thomas Harris-Prosperous company, Vice-commandant-Michael Smyth-Athgarvan company, Adjutant-Sean Curry-Naas Company. Quartermaster-Patrick Dunne-Kill company. Intelligence-Sean Kavanagh-Naas company. Training Officer-William Jones-Athgarvan company. The following companies and O.C.s. were in 2nd Kildare battalion:-
Athgarvan (A) Matthew Cardiff.
Ballymore (B) Art Doran.
Kill (C) John Traynor.
Naas (D) Thomas Patterson.
Prosperous (F) Thomas Dunne.
Robertstown (G) John Herbert.
Two-mile-house (H) Andrew Byrne.
Allen (I) Michael Fitzgerald.
In July, 1920, a training camp was established at Ladytown, Naas under the charge of Peadar McMahon, organiser, and was attended by officers from all companies in the battalion area. An intensive training course was carried out.
 As a result of an organising campaign carried out in the battalion area by Peadar McMahon and the commandant and vice-commandant, a number of new companies were formed at Allenwood and Eadestown, County Kildare, and Blessington, Valleymount, Donard, Hollywood and Brittas, County Wicklow. It was noted that numbers who had fallen away after the anti-conscription campaign were now rejoining the various companies.
 In August, 1920, Dowdington House, Athgarvan, Two-mile-house-about four miles from Naas-was taken over as Battalion headquarters, and fortnightly meetings of the battalion council were held there. Training sessions held there were under the various Battalion officers. Classes were held on drilling, engineering, rifle and revolver practice, first-aid and signalling. The battalion had a very efficient and experienced training officer in William Jones, who had been a corporal in the Connaught Rangers. He had served in the great war and had been badly wounded in France in 1914. He was invalided home, and was granted a pension and given employment at Curragh Camp. Before being called up on reserve in August 1914, he was appointed drill instructor to the Athgarvan company, and rejoined the company in 1915. As a result of an argument with some fellow workers at Curragh Camp he was dismissed, and prosecuted under the Defence of the Realm Act in October, 1915. He was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment at Lumville court, Curragh, which was afterwards altered to a fine of £5-owing to his military service-but he lost his pension and his employment at Curragh Camp. Dowdington House, battalion headquarters, was not found out by enemy forces until it was raided in May, 1921. There was no one there at the time, as we had received information of the proposed raid, and all arms and ammunition had been removed for sake keeping to the belfry of the adjacent church at Two-mile-house.
   An attempt was made to blow up the Limerick bridge, Naas, one of the principal bridges on the Dublin-Curragh Camp road, by volunteers from E company, Naas, and battalion officers, assisted by the engineering officer of the first Kildare battalion.
 Volunteers from the various companies of the battalion were engaged keeping order during the farm strike of 1920.
 Other battalion officers appointed were medical officer-Doctor Lavin, B. company: signalling-William Merlin, F. company. Members of the battalion were mobilised to assist Carlow brigade in a proposed attack on Castledermot R.I.C. barrack in August, 1920, but the attack was called off.
 During the summer of 1920 a number of R.I.C. barracks in the battalion area were evacuated and those were all burned down to safeguard against their being reoccupied. Adjoining courthouses were also burned. The R.I.C. barrack and courthouse at Lumville-less than a mile from the Curragh Camp-were burned down by members of A company. The only R.I.C. barracks which remained occupied in the battalion area were those at Naas, Newbridge and Hollywood. Sallins R.I.C. barrack was burned down in June, 1920.
    An ambush was carried out by members of the Kill company, under the commandant of the battalion, Commandant Thomas Harris, in the autumn of 1920. The attack was made on the R.I.C. patrol on the Naas road, Kill, near where the present John Devoy memorial stands. Sergeant O’Reilly and Constable Flaherty were killed and the other R.I.C. were taken prisoners and arms and ammunition were captured. There were no I.R.A. casualties, but enemy forces were very active after the ambush and a number of members of the Kill company were arrested. A business house in Naas was burned by enemy forces also.
    During 1920 a supply of revolvers and ammunition was procured from British soldiers in Curragh Camp and Newbridge barrack. Supplies of gelignite and some mills bombs were also procured. A house-to-house raid for rifles and shotguns was carried out in September 1920, and a large number were procured. Those raids were intended to forestall raids by the R.I.C.-of which we got information.
   Volunteers in the various companies were also engaged in the collection for the National Loan in 1920. Richard Cottier was appointed by Michael Collins in charge of the collection in County Kildare.
 Raids were carried out throughout the area for post office bicycles and other enemy property. British and Belfast goods at the various railway stations were destroyed.
 During the local elections in 1920 the members of the battalion were engaged as guards at public meetings, and at polling stations. In County Kildare at the county council elections twenty-nine members were elected, and of those, twenty-eight were Sinn Fein or Labour Republican. Only one Irish Parliamentary Party candidate was elected. At its first meeting it was decided to pledge allegiance to Dail Eireann and to repudiate any claim by the British to legislate in Irish affairs. A number of I.R.A. members were elected including the 2nd battalion commandant, Thomas Harris; vice-commandant, Michael Smyth. Donal Buckley, a veteran of 1916, was elected chairman, and Eamonn O Modhrain, 6th battalion, Carlow brigade, vice-chairman. Every effort was made by the British to compel the council to recognise the British Local Government Board-including the issue of writs-of which I have a copy.
    Resolutions condemning Easter Week were passed by the Kildare county council in 1916; these were deleted from the minutes by the new council.
   A battalion police officer was appointed and Republican courts were set up in the town in the battalion area. Volunteers were engaged in guarding these courts.
   Armed raids on the mails were carried out during 1920 and 1921, especially at Sallins and Newbridge stations. An amount of British correspondence was captured. Those raids were carried out under the supervision of Sean Kavanagh, intelligence officer. Sean Kavanagh made many contacts with friendly members of the R.I.C.. (see The Capuchin Annual 1969, p.354).
   An ambush was arranged for Newbridge railway station on 1 November, 1920, the day Kevin Barry was executed in Mountjoy. During the summer of 1920 the railway men refused to drive any train on which the British military travelled-a part of military attended Newbridge station almost daily and boarded the 10.30 train. In addition to the battalion officers, Harris, Smyth and Kavanagh, Volunteers attended for the ambushes from the Newbridge, Athgarvan and Ballymore companies, but the party of the military did not turn up, as the British forces had decided not to engage in these operations any longer.
     The railwaymen were either members of or strong supporters of the I.R.A. in our area. Sean Kavanagh, intelligence, paid tribute to those men who were engaged in carrying dispatches to and from G.H.Q. and also to the many postal officials who co-operated in connection with the various raids on the mails.
   After one raid for the mails at Sallins station, while Sean Kavanagh, Art Doran and myself were in bed in Art Doran’s house at Ballymore Eustace, where we sorted out the mails, a lorry pulled up outside the house. We jumped up thinking it was an enemy raid, but the lorry moved away. We found out next day that it was only an ordinary private lorry.
   In November, 1920, Commandant T. Harris was arrested and also the commanding officers of C company, D company and J company. The week after “Bloody Sunday” a number of officers and Volunteers were arrested as a result of an intensive campaign of raids on 23 November from a member of the R.I.C., Sergeant McGowan of Newbridge who was friendly towards the I.R.A. Although members were warned not to sleep in their own houses that night some did so, and their houses were surrounded in the early hours of the morning by military and police and they were arrested.
    Two other members of the R.I.C. at Newbridge were also friendly. Another R.I.C. man, Eamonnn Broy, a native of Rathangan-afterwards Colonel Broy-was an important member of Michael Collins’s secret service.
   Towards the end of 1920 the battalion adjutant, Sean Curry, and quartermaster Patrick Dunne, were arrested and also the O.C. of F company.
 As a result of the arrests the battalion council was reformed as follows:-commandant-Michael Smyth; vice-commandant-Art Doran; adjutant and intelligence officer-Sean Kavanagh; quartermaster-James Harris. New company officers were also appointed in place of those arrested. Enemy activities were intensified over the area.
 The following “death sentence” was posted to the battalion commandant:
                                 FINAL WARNING
Whereas, it has come to our knowledge that the Sinn Fein organisation of which you are a prominent official through the so-called I.R.A. or murder gang has been committing outrages in this hitherto God-fearing and law-abiding country, this reign of terror must be stopped. You are, therefore, most earnestly warned that in the event of the continuance of those heartless and cowardly crimes you will be personally held responsible and punished in such a manner that others will be deterred from criminal course.
         By order.
Michael Smyth
Athgarvan, Newbridge
Co. Kildare
An intensive campaign of road blocking by trenching and felling trees, of disrupting communication by cutting telephone wires-especially on all roads leading from the Curragh Camp was carried out on instructions from G.H.Q.
   There were three military barracks in the battalion area-Naas, Newbridge and Curragh Camp-all strongholds of the enemy, Curragh camp being headquarters of the British military in Ireland. There was also four strongly fortified R.I.C. barracks-Naas being the headquarters of the Black-and-Tans and Auxiliaries.
 Unsuccessful attempts were made on Hollywood R.I.C. barrack and also by 6th battalion, Carlow brigade on Kilcullen barrack, in which the 2nd Kildare battalion co-operated by blocking all roads between Kilcullen and Curragh Camp.
At the end of 1920 an active service unit or flying column was formed. The O.C. was Martin O’Neill, O.C. B company, who had had service in the British army. It consisted at first of twelve Volunteers, and operated mostly in County Wicklow-western area.
 Shortly after the formation of the unit a couple of the west Wicklow companies decided to transfer to the south Dublin brigade and this caused a split in the active service unit, as the numbers were almost half from Kildare and half from Wicklow. The Volunteers from the Wicklow demanded half of the rifles and ammunition held by the unit. This was refused as it was claimed that all the rifles were the property of the Kildare companies and were mostly those which were purchased from British soldiers at Curragh camp and Newbridge.
 Gerald Boland, afterwards Minister for Justice, representing the south Dublin brigade, met me at Ballymore Eustace, by appointment, after a company parade there, and alleged that the Kildare Volunteers had fired on the Wicklow men. He said it was bad enough to be fighting the Black-and-Tans without fighting among ourselves. After a discussion we came to a satisfactory settlement and agreed to have co-operation between the two areas, and also we agreed on a boundary between the two areas. Three of the Wicklow companies remained in the 2nd battalion area.
   Raids were carried out on all excise offices in battalion areas and the documents in them destroyed.
 A one-day general strike was ordered by the Labour party in June, 1920, to compel the release of the Republicans who were on hunger strike in Mountjoy and other prisons and the Volunteers were engaged in enforcing obedience to the strike order. The strike resulted in the release of the prisoners.
 At a meeting of the battalion council at the end of 1920 the members were perturbed at the number of arrests taking place in the battalion area-especially of battalion and company officers. It was believed that there were informers and spies in the area. Some persons were mentioned as suspects.
 As a result of a visit by Volunteers to the house of a man suspected of giving information, he was fired on and mortally wounded but first attacked the party with a slane and struck one of the Volunteers on the head. A number of men were arrested in the area after this incident-but none of them were members of the I.R.A.
 While “on the run” in Rathangan area in November 1920, I reorganised a company there, with Joseph Kenny O.C. Owing to a number of arrests in the area the numbers were so small that I amalgamated them with the neighbouring 1st company at Allen and they were very active members of that company and took part in all engagements including the Allen ambush.
 Our intelligence service got important information from a member of the clerical staff in the office of the crown solicitor, Naas, and from Volunteers who were employed at Curragh camp about the numbers of British troops in the area and about troop movements which were an advantage to us in our planning. We also got a supply of .303 ammunition from the workers employed on the military ranges at the Curragh camp.
 An attempt late in 1920 to obtain a supply of arms and ammunitions-including a machine gun failed, owing to the transfer of the soldiers concerned from Newbridge barracks.
 Cumman na mBan and Fianna
      Units of the Fianna Eireann and Cumman na mBan were attached to some of the companies and they did useful work in carrying dispatches, arms and ammunition. They also attended first-aid classes and helped in collecting funds for the I.R.A. and for the purpose of sending food parcels to Volunteers interred or imprisoned and also in helping their families.
 A number of the Fianna were afterwards enrolled in the I.R.A. and were useful members as they had been already well trained. There was a strong company of the Fianna in Newbridge under their officer, Patrick Fulham. They usually marched to Bodenstown and camped there on the night previous to the Wolf Tone anniversary. One of their members, the late James Clancy, was promoted to a battalion intelligence officer after the arrest of Sean Kavanagh.
First Battalion, Kildare
     Activities by the 1st battalion were similar to hose of the 2nd battalion which we have set down. But this battalion was occupied in a special way with getting messages from G.H.Q. to the counties of practically all the midlands and the west, and on this work practically a full-time staff was engaged. Depots for receiving and transmitting the messages were set up at Leixlip, Celbridge, Straffan, Maynooth, Kilcock, Cloncurry, Mainham, Johnstown Bridge. Messages were transmitted safely with the minimum delay. Members of Cumann na mBan were frequently used for carrying messages during the day time and as some of the depots were national schools, the school teachers did their part of this important work.
   Attacks on barracks were planned by the various companies as well as attacks on police foot patrols to disarm them. Guards were put on the Maynooth-Kilcock road, Celbridge-Maynooth road, Celbridge-Leixlip road and Maynooh-Leixlip road. Sunday was the usual day the patrols scouted these roads. After being on guard for three Sundays we learned that the patrols had been stopped.
   Orders came that the records in rural district council offices were to be destroyed and three members of Leixlip company carried this out with success.
 Explosives were manufactured in Celbridge at Cauldwell’s. At Leixlip, mines were constructed in the metal boxes of cartwheels. Large quantities of buck-shot was also made in that area.
 The 1st battalion of north Kildare in 1920 was under the command of:- Frank Powell, O.C., until he was arrested and replaced by C. Mullaney. Alex Mitchell, vice O.C., Donal O Buachalla was quartermaster. In all between two hundred and fifty and three hundred men carried on the actions and kept the British forces on the alert in the locality.
 The Carlow brigade took in some areas of south Kildare and Wicklow. A company, Athy, was attached to the 5th battalion, Carlow brigade. Castledermot, C. company, also belonged to the 5th battalion, Carlow brigade. Kildare, F. company belonged to the 6th battalion, Carlow brigade. Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow, A. company belonged to the 6th battalion, Carlow brigade.
A.                      Company; Athy, under Captain Paddy Hayden, engaged in similar activities as the Volunteers in the other areas. Mail trains on the Waterford-Dublin branch line were raided on three different occasions to capture letters addressed to and from the British authorities. They raided the custom house in Athy and seized and burned all official records. They enforced the Belfast boycotting by burning the abattoir in which prescribed goods were stored. Disruption of enemy communications by cutting telegraph wires, blocking roads with trenches and felled trees proved constant harassment for the British forces.        
   During the summer of 1920 several reports of cattle stealing were received by the 5th battalion. These occurred principally in the Curragh and Ballysax areas. As a result of investigation two men were arrested, Michael Hand and James Mullally (Hand was employed at the British abattoir at Curragh camp) and were kept in the custody of A. company, mostly at the residence of Doctor Kenna, Ballymount, Collinstown.
   As a result of further enquiries William Hanly, a farmer, of Ballysax, Curragh, was arrested. He was kept in custody at the Glen of Imaal, Co. Wicklow, in the area of A. company. Those who arrested Hanly were Laurence O’Toole, captain of A. company, Joseph Deering, first lieutenant, and Volunteer Denis Fay.
   William Hanly was kept in custody at Doyle’s of Knockeendarragh, Donard. Once when he complained of being unwell he was attended by Doctor Keena a strong supporter of the I.R.A. in the area.
 On 17 July, 1920, the trail of the three men took place at a court at Byrne’s barn, Kilgowan, Kilcullen-a midnight court. John Flanagan, O.C., 6th battalion, Michael Smyth, vice-commandant, 2nd Kildare battalion, and Eamonn Moran acted as Republican justices. Seamus O’Connor, solicitor, Dublin, afterwards state solicitor for Dublin, and previously a member of the Irish volunteers executive before 1916, prosecuted. William Hanly was a big farmer and race-horse owner. A large number of witnesses were examined, including some prominent cattle dealers, and gave evidence of their cattle being stolen. All three were found guilty. Hanly was heavily fined and Hand and Mullally were sentenced to be deported. They were deported the following day,
 The owners of the stolen cattle were paid compensation from the fine imposed according to the valuation by Messrs. O’Connor, Mylerstown, Naas, cattle dealers.                  
   Castledermot was one of the earliest centres of Volunteer activity in South Kildare. The Volunteers engaged in harassing the enemy by the same means as the Athy men. They received orders early in 1920 to burn down the local police barrack. When they arrived there they found the sergeant’s wife and family still in occupation. Immediately they made arrangements for the lady’s removal with her family and all the furniture and had her transferred to a neighbour’s house and the furniture brought to a safe place locally. In the burning down of the building and explosion caused by lighted match, one Volunteer would almost certainly have lost his life but for the prompt action of the leader, Paddy Cosgrave, who at great risk entered the burning building and brought him to safety. He was so badly burned that the skin peeled off his face and hands. In the hospital in Athy, where he was concealed and treated with the greatest care by the staff, he fully recovered. I am glad to say that fifty years afterwards Paddy Cosgrave is still hale and hearty.
 The Dunlavin company, who burned down the vacated R.I.C. barracks at Ballytore, Dunlavin, Donard, Stratford-on-Slaney, attacked the occupied Baltinglass barrack and killed one policeman. They burned down the officers’ quarters around the Glen of Imaal British camp and also the mansion of an anti-Irish family known as Saunder’s Grove after the notorious Colonel Saunders of 1798. They court-martialled and executed a troublesome spy. An outbreak of larceny, including a case of cattle stealing, was brought before the Sinn Fein courts, and those concerned convicted and sentenced. The company guarded the courts and some times risked their lives in this duty.
          F. company, Kildare, were also in the 6th battalion, Carlow brigade. Kildare company was established in 1917. In 192(?) the company captain was Denis O’Neill. The company was very active during 192(?) and carried out an intensive course of training, drilling and rifle practice.
          All roads leading to Kildare military barracks were continuously trenched and blocked by fallen trees, and telephone wires were cut.
      A quantity of arms and ammunition was procured from soldiers serving in Kildare barracks and Curragh camp. A house-to-house collection was also carried out for shotguns and other arms.
    In a raid on income tax office all documents were taken and destroyed.
       In the local elections of 1920 Volunteers were on duty at polling booths, and also at public meetings. A Republican court was established in 1920 and members of the company were on duty at the various sessions of the court.
     At Kildare railway station was a junction, one line leading to Waterford, and the other to Cork, and it was an important centre for distribution of communications from G.H.Q. The captain and first lieutenants were employed at the station and were in a good position for carrying out this work. Raids were made on trains for the mails of British forces and to implement the Belfast boycott the railway station at Kildare was raided and the Belfast and British goods destroyed.
    Members of the company were on duty on the occasion of the one-day strike called by the Labour Party in June, 1920, for the release of the prisoners on hunger-strike in Mountjoy jail and also at the church parade ordered for the day of Terence MacSwiney’s funeral.
     A Republican police section was formed to take over the work of civil protection and control in various towns.
      There was a strong branch of Cumann-na-mBan in Kildare. Miss Peg Daly was O.C. They were most useful in carrying dispatches and doing other work including first-aid. They helped in collecting funds for the Volunteers and for the purpose of sending food parcels to those interned or imprisoned and helping to provide for their families.
    The Daly family had long service in the Republican movement, as a sister, Mrs. Beatty, saw service in Easter Week, 1916. Another sister, Lucy Daly, recently deceased, was also a member and was interned in Kilmainham jail with her sister, Peg.
   Kilcullen and Suncroft companies were also attached to the 6th battalion, Carlow brigade. The area covered by these companies bordered the Curragh camp, and the chief activities during 1920 were blocking of all roads leading to the camp, trenching the roads and felling trees. Cutting telephone wires caused further disruption to enemy communications.
 Mullaghmoy bridge and another small bridge on roads between Athy and the Curragh camp were destroyed. A number of men of the Suncroft company were arrested and imprisoned as a result of those activities.
 Members of the Suncroft company were responsible for procuring a supply of rifles, revolvers, and ammunition from British soldiers stationed at the Curragh camp. Members of those companies were also engaged on an attack on Kilcullen R.I.C. barracks after all roads leading to Kilcullen were blocked.
 Drilling and rifle and revolver practice was held on Sundays; ammunition and explosives were also manufactured on that day.  
 They raided British controlled excise offices and destroyed records. During 1920 they helped in collecting for the Dail Eireann loan.
   A man, named Power of Kilboggan, Suncroft was questioned about robberies in the area, but before he could be arrested he sought refuge on Curragh camp, where he gave information concerning the I.R.A. He was kept under the protection of the British military at Curragh camp. When he left camp to return home on one occasion he was arrested, tried, found guilty and executed. There was considerable enemy activity around Suncroft after the execution, but no arrests were made. Some other spies, including a woman, were under observation, but they, too, took refuge in Curragh camp.
     Raids were carried out for British and Belfast goods during the boycott in 1920 and in one raid two Remington typewriters were seized. They were consigned to the divisional commissioner, R.I.C. One was left at Dowling’s house at Carna, Curragh camp, which was afterwards raided, but Mrs. Dowling put her apron over the type writer and the raiding party did not notice it.
    James Collins, intelligence officer, Kilcullen company, called with two men to settle a family quarrel at Knockbounce, Kilcullen, but the R.I.C. got information on the matter and were waiting at the gate of the house and fired on them. Two of the Volunteers, Thomas Hazlett and William Martin, were wounded. Five were arrested and brought to Kilcullen barrack. They were afterwards tried and released.
   Two members of Kilcullen company were arrested during a Republican court-Frank Corrigan and D. Buckley-and were carried around in a lorry all day before they were released.
 Another member of the company, Michael Sammon, a native of Celbridge, and a well-known G.A.A. player, was arrested after reading the Republican Manifesto after Mass, and was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
   Shop-keepers in the area were warned not to offer British goods for sale. British newspapers were burned.
   Members were on duty on the day of Terence McSwiney’s funeral-keeping order in the church parade and seeing that it was kept as a national holiday.
 A number of our Volunteers-and some girls-were always available for carrying dispatches.
   Doctor Kane, Kilgowan, was friendly to the I.R.A., and was available at all times to treat the injured.
   During the munitions strike, when the railway men refused to drive the trains carrying munitions or enemy forces and were sacked, collections were made for these men, by the Cumann na mBan especially.
   Monasterevin,, also attached to the 6th battalion Carlow brigade, joined in the same activities as the other companies. They insured that the general strike in April was successful in their district. Later when the railway men refused to drive trains carrying munitions or soldiers, they blocked the main Dublin-Cork road and the by-roads around the town. They organised the collecting of funds in the towns around for the patriotic railwaymen.
 One very important contribution of the Monasterevan company was the capture of five mail bags of Dublin Castle and British army correspondence in a raid on the train at the local station. The captured bags were deemed so important that members of the brigade intelligence staff came to collect them. These men, the local Volunteers, piloted safely, not without some anxious moments, along roads patrolled by British cavalry.
 Other activities of G. company included the blowing up of a bridge over the river Barrow, the removal of labour from a culvert on the main Kildare-Monasterevan road, the trenching and severing of connections on local roads and telephone communications and the destruction of the local excise office and of enemy cargo being transported by canal. They worked in guarding the Sinn Fein courts as police when a sentence of the court was not accepted and the offender had to be taken for a cooling off to “an unknown destination.”.
    In one unfortunate mistake nearly all the equipment which was collected with such difficulty was lost and two Volunteers were captured. Captain Hugh McNally, who was sentenced to ten years’ penal servitude and Fintan Brennan who got five years’ penal servitude.
       The Kildare Volunteers succeeded in making the large number of crown forces stationed in the Curragh very much less effective than they should have been by their constant harassment of them, emplementing the orders of the Volunteers’ G.H.Q. and wrecking the enemy lines of communication in every direction.
B.                 company, Kilrush, the final company in our account which was attached to the 6th battalion Carlow brigade, was captained by Sean Flanagan, who was later promoted to battalion commandant. They played their parts with the other companies in acquiring arms, training in their use and in other military duties, in enforcing the Belfast boycott and the orders of the Sinn Fein courts, and looked after the general strike.
   They were successful in hampering troop movement by blowing up Kilboggan bridge which partially at least cut off the Curragh camp from the South; the bridge on the by-road from Suncroft to Tippeenam and the bridge at Tippeenam on the main Dublin-Waterford road were also destroyed. The motor-cars of people hostile to the Volunteers were dismantled. They arrested, court-martialled and shot a spy-a salutary warning to others so inclined.
    The Kilrush men were successful in helping some of the Volunteers interned in the Curragh camp to escape and showed them safe routes to take in motor-cars they had commandeered for them. Later they supplied an accurate record of any of the property they had commandeered.                                          

Michael Smyth's account of his activities during the War of Independence - later a Labour Senator, he was Vice-Commandant of the 2nd battalion I.R.A. during those troubled times. The account is takend from the Capuchin Annual 1970.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 04:06 PM


Leinster Leader
12 August 1950

St. Brigid Statue Project

Subscriptions to the Gibbet Rath memorial Fund (erection of statue of St. Brigid) continue to mount although the organisers feel that collections in some areas are not yet properly under way. Those appointed in all areas are urged to complete their collections as soon as possible.
At the last meeting of the Committee the Chairman, Rev. T. Kennedy, C.C., Rathangan, thanked a representative of the Kildareman’s Association in New York for their generous donation of £20.
To arrange to raise funds to go towards the cost of erecting a statue of St. Brigid at the Gibbet Rath, Curragh, a public meeting is being held in the Courthouse, Athy, next Monday evening at 9 o’clock.

Leinster Leader
12 August 1950

Historic Kildare Building Demolished

 This week demolition of the old White Abbey Hall at Kildare was completed – a traction engine was used to pull down the gable and side walls. The old building had quite an interesting and historic past and old residents can recall attending mass there.

[authors note: St. Brigid's Statue was finally unveiled in 1973 and erected on the Market Square in 1976]

Couple of interesting notes from the Leinster Leader of August 1950

Posted by mariocorrigan at 04:01 PM

February 08, 2012


Cill Dara Historical Society: Kildare Town Heritage Series No. 1

Mario Corrigan
Heritage Centre1  small.JPG

The Kildare Town Heritage Centre is the ideal point of departure from which to explore the ancient treasures of the town. It is housed in the restored and refurbished nineteenth century Market House. The Heritage Centre was formally opened on the 17th September 2001 by the then Minister for Finance, Mr. Charlie McCreevy.
The building has a long and varied history. According to the Statutes of Henry VI (1458) a market had been held in Kildare ‘from time whereof memory runs not,’ and an official weekly market, to be held on Thursdays, was authorised by Henry VIII in the Charter of Kildare of 1515. Reference to the ‘Market Place’ can be found in the Registry of Deeds Office in 1726 and 1751 and it was designated the ‘Market Square’ in Thomas Sherrard’s Map of Kildare of 1798.
John Rocque’s Map of Kildare (1757) identifies ‘The Markett house,’ in the centre of this Square on the site of the modern Heritage Centre. According to Rocque it consisted of three adjoining buildings with a yard in 1757. By 1798 (Sherrard) it had developed into a singular rectangular building with a section to the western side. This projection had disappeared by 1817 but a small northern (facing Nugent Street/Station Road) projection could be noticed on the 1838 Ordnance Survey Map of the town.
According to Niall Meagher, former Co. Architect, while it may have incorporated an earlier structure, the present building dates from the nineteenth century. In 1838 the Market House was clearly identified as a public building and by the mid-nineteenth century at least it had been re-developed with an upper level. In the mid-1880’s a water tank was placed in the roof of the Market House as a receptacle for water being pumped from St. John’s Well at Tully.
By the mid-twentieth century the Market House had fallen into disrepair and was bought for £300 by Kildare Co. Council. It was carefully reconstructed in the early 1970’s winning an An Taisce Award in 1973 and, a bus shelter, public toilets and small museum were incorporated into the new building. The cast-iron water gauge dated 1885 was retained on the outside of the building as was a plaque celebrating the completion of the Kildare Waterworks in 1886.
A Heritage Project Committee was formed in 1992 to campaign for Heritage Status for the Town of Kildare. The designation of Heritage Town provided an impetus for the reinvigoration of the Market House. The European Development Fund provided £230,000 towards the project with additional funding coming from Kildare County Council (£50,000) and local contributions. Once building began the reconstruction and refurbishment took a little less than 2 years and Kildare Town Heritage Centre was officially unveiled in September 2001.
The Centre, which is now open six days a week, is the Tourist Office for local and county-wide tourist information, a place where tourists can book accommodation or plan their itinerary. It also has a vibrant shop where visitors can purchase books, souvenirs and jewellery and is the hub for Kildare Town Historic Walking Tours – so why not visit Mary, Patricia and Helen to see what is on offer or check out the wonderful website - to find out more.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 07:42 PM