The Kerr family of Liverpool and their fight for Irish Freedom

Continuing the theme from the last post on the IRA in St Helens this post will focus on the Kerr family and their work in Liverpool area. The story of the Kerr family is one of the most remarkable stories contained within the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection (MSPC). Through the files of Neill Kerr…

The Republican Movement in St Helens (1919-1922)

The files of three individuals released last year by the Military Service Pensions Collection offer a glimpse into the activity of Cumann na mBan and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the town of St Helens in Merseyside, north-west England. The town, which was a significant centre for coal mining in the 18th and 19th…

IRA execution of Patrick Joseph D’Arcy

The story centres on the execution of Patrick Joseph D’Arcy by the IRA on 17th June 1921. The charge against him – supplying information that led to the execution of two members of the IRA (Michael McNamara and William Shanahan). The only certainty within this file is that almost every statement is contradicted. The story…

Women in Intelligence – Part 3: Minnie Lenihan

In the final blog of our three part series on Women in Intelligence (Annie Smith and Eileen MacCarvill), we focus on Galway woman Minnie Lenihan who was primarily involved in getting vital information in and out of prisons in the Galway area, as well as addressing prison conditions and prisoner treatment.  Minnie joined the Galway…

Women in Intelligence – Part 2: Eileen MacCarvill née McGrane

Following on from a previous blog article relating to the intelligence work of Dubliner Annie Smith covering the period from the War of Independence through to the end of 1923, this blog features the case of another Dublin based woman, Eileen MacCarvill (née McGrane) who, like Smith, also worked closely with Michael Collins. MacCarvill moved…

Women in Intelligence – Part 1: Annie Mary Smith née Brennan

Over the course of processing and cataloguing the records of thousands of individuals in the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection (MSPC) it has become very clear that the type of work and indeed a little bit of luck factored in to the likelihood of an individual’s service being fully recognised. Those working alongside fellow IRA…

The international gun-running exploits of James Joseph Baskerville

James Joseph Baskerville was active with the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Republican (IRA) from late 1916 until May 1923. His attempts to source guns for the IRA in the 1919-22 period brought him to a minimum of seven different cities across four countries and three continents. It is these fascinating three years abroad that…

Altnaveigh Reprisal

Included in the May 2018 release from the MSPC are the files of some of those individuals involved in one of the most infamous attacks carried out in the border area in the revolutionary period. The attacks at Altnaveigh, County Armagh on 17 June 1922 by the IRA in which six members of the protestant…

Deciphering the Archives

In previous blogs on this site, the focus has naturally been on the records of the Military Service Pensions Collection, the people they represent and the events therein described. While the work of the archivists behind the scenes can sometimes be overlooked, the obstacles and challenges they face, when acknowledged, can lead to an even…