Denis O’Brien: 1916 veteran shot dead by the IRA in 1942

Introduction Pim Street and Upper Basin Street in Dublin 8 are a short five minute walk from each other. They are bound to the north by the sprawling St. James’s Gate Guinness Brewery and to the west by the present day St. James’s Hospital. In 1916, 8 Pim Street was occupied by the O’Brien family…

Haughey and Hillery – political clichés

Few things are as entrenched as political lineage within families. There is the impression that political dynasties have existed for generations. Traditionally families have been either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.  This post will explore two of the cases that will challenge that cliché. The first case is that of John Haughey (24SP9208) probably best…

The rescue of Robert Byrne from Limerick Union hospital (April 1919)

On Sunday 6 April 1919, several dozen members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Limerick city were mobilised to take part in a dangerous operation. Their mission was to enter the public area of a hospital during visiting hours and rescue a bed-ridden comrade who was being closely guarded around the clock by armed…

The Brigade Activity Reports: how to search (the direct way)

The Brigade Activity Reports in the Military Service Pensions Collection were released in February 2019. With the IRA Nominal Rolls, the BARs form a very significant source of information and inform us on the individual claims lodged by the veterans of the Irish struggle for independence. There are completely unique records If you are unsure…

New narratives on the Soloheadbeg ambush (21 January 1919)

View the Soloheadbeg highlight in the Brigade Activity Reports Following the 1916 Easter Rising and in the lead up to the Soloheadbeag ambush, the re-organised Irish Volunteers and Na Fianna Éireann were involved in some isolated armed incidents. In June 1917, RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary) Inspector John Mills was fatally struck with a hurley at…

Cathal O’Shannon – (1890-1969) Republican, Trade Unionist, Socialist and Journalist

The unsuccessful military service pension application of Cathal O’Shannon Sr. (MSP34REF21723) reveals a number of insights into the relationship between the political movements of Republicanism and Labour in Ireland. It touches on the activity of the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) outside Dublin; the strike of railway workers against the transportation of British army soldiers and…

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…